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Jimin swings his arms over the handrails guarding the edge of the lonely rooftop, and bumps his chin against the hot metal as he does so. He looks out over the concrete jungle on the horizon and beyond; at the buildings littering the city skyline.

It’s hot. Sweltering, even. The buildings ripple from the burning atmosphere in the distance.

Sweat plasters Jimin’s hair to his forehead. His tongue is dry and heavy in his mouth. He’s thirsty, but he won’t go inside to quench it. He watches various office workers and students from nearby schools living their lives down below or on the other rooftops ahead, and he can feel the sun burning his skin and the sweat pooling at his lower back under his uniform shirt.

The summer may have just started, but the end of term was fast coming up, and Jimin proved his academic diligence by hiding out on the rooftop during classes he particularly did not like. The heat wasn’t even at its worst yet, and still most people opted to hide inside in the A/C and shade. There were record breaking highs all across the country already, pagers and radios were blowing up with official government warnings, newscasts urged the public to be safe and thoughtful about the heat and sun.

Jimin didn’t mind the heat, nor did he fight it. He was locked in this building for eight hours a day, and the only way left to go, literally, was up. The heat and sweat felt cleansing and controlled. If anything, it allowed him to escape everything and everyone for a little while, because no one was stupid enough to purposely and willfully subject themselves to this heatwave.

Jimin’s ears twitch when he hears the small click of metal from behind him. He sinks down even further where his body is folded over the railing.

Well, almost everyone.

Jimin closes his eyes, shuts himself in on the darkness, and wonders if he can go back to when he was five years old and he could play a mean game of hide and seek if he just covered his eyes.

If he can’t see them, they can’t see him.

The footsteps grow closer to him, and Jimin realizes it’s a futile effort. He opens his eyes and glares at the horizon.

“Oh, you’re up here, too?”

Jimin exhales loudly through is nose. I’m always here, you thick brick, he thinks to himself. But outwardly, he ignores the intruder. If he ignores him, maybe he will take the hint and leave.

But Jungkook never takes a fucking hint, does he?

The intruder stops at the edge of the rooftop, against the railing, close to Jimin. Too close. Jimin takes a step to his right instinctually, and still the other boy doesn’t take the cue and back off. Jimin flexes his neck, an old tic of his signaling his annoyance.

The trespasser begins fumbling in his pockets, and Jimin steals a look at the tall, broad figure. His uniform shirt has grown a hair too small for him over the last year, and for some reason he doesn’t seem to want to replace it. Whereas Jimin has had the same shirt since he first entered the high school, and it still hangs loose and big on him like a potato sack. Where Jimin’s hair soaks in a stringy mess in his own sweat, the other boy’s has grown fluffy and feral in the humidity of the summer. The sweat on Jimin pools and puddles in his clothes and makes him look dirty and near homeless, but the other seems to glisten and hold a healthy, youthful sheen under his perspiring. And it’s small things like this that make Jimin have an irrational reaction to people like this. Like Jungkook.

Jungkook. Jungkook was like a stray dog, and Jimin felt like he was the unassuming bystander with sausages unknowingly hidden in his pockets. He hovered with an excitement and cheer that made Jimin’s stomach turn. He smiled, a lot. He pried even more. He touched and played and his laugh was boisterous and very… loud.

When Jungkook had first moved to this school district, he fell in to a crowd that wasn’t Jimin’s crowd, and their paths rarely crossed. Jungkook was pleasant enough when they did. Jimin… not so much.

Jungkook represented a social circle of life that Jimin had never had stellar experiences with. So, like most things Jimin had developed an internal defense mechanism for, he kept his distance from the boy and that whole sect of the school’s population. And Jungkook, for his part, did too. Avoid Jimin, that is.

Until this summer.

With the heat came Jungkook. And Jimin started equating the two together: unpleasant, unavoidable fact of life with other unpleasant, unavoidable fact of life. Suddenly, Jungkook would look for excuses to leave class after everyone else had filed out, to catch Jimin at the door. He would pretend to take an extra moment packing his bag and straightening his clothes at the end of the day, so he could walk with Jimin down the street until their paths diverged in to two separate neighborhoods. All Jimin wanted to do was pop on his headphones. His CD player felt heavy in his palm as he heard Jungkook jogging to catch up with him. So much for a quiet walk home to himself.

Jungkook would attempt to engage in conversation with him, to relative unsuccess. Not that that seemed to bother the overgrown puppy, who followed half a step behind him, happily recounted stories of the day, or talked about a new movie coming out, or a CD he’d just picked up from a shop.

Jimin couldn't for the life of him figure out how or why Jungkook had suddenly taken a shine to him. Why Jungkook had suddenly started orbiting around Jimin’s existence with a purpose and determination. Why Jungkook suddenly seemed so very interested.

Jimin didn’t think he really wanted to know.

Jungkook seemed, appeared deaf and blind to the differences in their hierarchical standing. He didn’t understand the vast body of water that separated the two young men from being close, or even understanding each other. It wasn’t a stream, a river, not even a lake. It was an ocean. A fickle, turbulent body of water, with high seas and low bearing storms, and an unforgiving intolerance to let anything thrive.

And yet, Jungkook seemed hell-bent on traversing the churning black pit with his rickety raft held together with nothing more than tape and a prayer. Convinced that all he needed to break Jimin’s hard exterior was perseverance, an unrivaled inability to take social cues, and a little dash of blind kindness.

It was bold. Daring. And frankly, stupid.

It annoyed Jimin, and it left a bad taste in his mouth. He didn’t feel like being anyone’s pet charity project.

Click. Click. Click.

Soon, the putrid scent of smoke fills Jimin’s nostrils and he instinctively recoils, pulling him out of his thoughts and sending him in to a fit of waving away the smoke cloud surround his head, and shooting Jungkook a deep glare. Jungkook has lit up a cigarette at the edge of the roof, and lets it dangle out of his mouth as he stuffs the lighter and cigarette box back in his pant pockets.

“Do you mind?” Jimin snaps, harsh, and it’s the first words he’s probably said to Jungkook in a full week.

“Hm?” Jungkook hums as he takes the cigarette out from between his teeth and looks down at Jimin’s furrowed brows and thin line of a frown. He glances at the cigarette and something in his mind seems to click. “Oh,” he says, wide eyed, and offers the small object to Jimin. “Did you want one?”

Jimin groans, loudly, and turns away from Jungkook, taking five steps down from him and resuming his perch over the railing. You’re so dense that light probably bends around you, he thinks to himself, barely able to keep himself from saying it out loud. Instead, he spits:

“Those are going to kill you one day.”

“I’m sure something else will get me long before these do,” Jungkook chuckles. He takes a drag of the smoke and exhales while watching Jimin intently out of the corner of his eye. “Are you cutting class?”

“No,” Jimin lies, dryly.

“Oh, good,” Jungkook says. He takes another drag. “Me neither.”

Jimin watches the people down below, ten stories down, littering the sidewalk as they try to seek refuge from the overbearing summer sun. He wonders why, why does Jungkook insist on encroaching on the very little alone time Jimin has to himself these days? He knows Jimin is up here. He knows Jimin wants to be alone. So, why does he keep coming up here where he knows he isn’t wanted? What does he possibly have to gain?

Is it a practical joke? Did he lose a bet? Does he want something from Jimin?

He hears the the dragging of a shoe against concrete as Jungkook puts out the cigarette and doesn’t bother cleaning away the evidence. Like a puzzle piece fitting snugly in to the last spot, Jungkook once again sidles right up to Jimin. His outer thigh touches Jimin’s and his hands fall over the railing just like Jimin’s, too. A lump catches in Jimin’s throat, and he thinks the lump is the words, “don’t touch me”. They die in his vocal chords with no conviction or resistance.

Jungkook takes a long deep breath of the hot, humid air, like it’s something possibly refreshing. The filling of his lungs causes his whole body to expand, and his shoulder touches Jimin’s.

And Jimin thinks -- he knows -- Jungkook is seriously either dumber than he looks or he knows what he is doing. He knows that he’s making Jimin uncomfortable.

The whole of the rooftop, and Jungkook must stand right here, right now?

Why don’t you leave?

Because this is my spot. I was here first.

I don’t see your name on it.

Jungkook was the sun on a hot mid-june day. Bright. Warm.

Overbearing, suffocating, uncomfortable, and impossible to escape.

Except, Jimin tries not to realize as a bead of sweat drips down of the tip of his nose and falls to the sidewalk far, far below, there is an escape. It’s cool. And it’s safe. And it’s just through that door. The sun can’t follow him through the maze of the school building beneath his feet.

But Jimin doesn’t want to go. So, he doesn’t.

***

Monsoon season starts a week later, and the heavy, battering rains steal Jimin’s excuse to escape to the roof when his brain is feeling numb and cynical. He has few other solid escape routes in its stead, and none of them are nearly as good. Or private.

But, he’s going stir crazy here like this.

He stares at nothing ahead of him, his chin in his palm as he tunes out his teacher at the front of the room. His eyes shift. Down towards the front row of the desks, smack in the middle of the classroom, sits Jungkook, his mind obviously wondering, too. His head nods a few times, as if he is nodding off to dreamland, and one of his buddies behind him smacks his back to alert him to the teacher’s wondering eyes. The slap might as well be against a brick wall, for Jungkook barely seems to register it.

Jimin’s eyes wander to the large, glass pane of the window to his left, where the rain has been bearing down impossibly hard for impossibly long. Since morning, the skies have been open and a downpour hasn’t let up for hours. He sees leaves and other debris being whisked away in to storm drains outside of the building, people running for shelter in to restaurants and offices from the heavy onslaught.

His mother used to tell him that the rainy season was a time of new beginnings and second chances. It was supposed to wash away things that were meant to be left behind come fall. You were supposed to leave behind all your regrets and your should-haves in the summer. It’s the beginning of a cleansing, of sorts.

These days, his mother doesn’t really tell him that anymore.

Jimin never really felt the same way -- before the rains, he was miserable. After the rains, he was miserable and wet, and it just kept getting hotter. The sun after the rains was always the most intense and the most suffocating -- but at least then it wasn’t so fucking dreary.

The rains took away the roof and the sun. The rains could go to hell.

He blinks over in Jungkook’s direction again, just briefly. He jolts when he sees Jungkook is glancing back at the room, too -- right at him. He averts his gaze down to his neglected textbook and raises his hand. He needs his escape.

“Yes?” his teacher asks, and pushes his glasses farther up the bridge of his nose.

“Can I go to the bathroom?” Jimin says, and it’s quiet. All eyes are on him. His own gaze is still trained at the book.

“I don’t know,” his teacher sighs. “Can you?”

The class erupts into a quiet giggle, and Jimin’s face reddens. He glares up at the teacher.

May I go to the bathroom, sir?

The teacher nods hurriedly and waves Jimin away towards the door and continues his lesson. Jimin doesn’t need to be told twice. He shuts his book and makes a wide circle around the desks, making sure to avoid Jungkook’s.

In the hallway lined with large windows, the sound of the pelting rain is deafening. Jimin makes his way down the stuffy hall, towards the unit of bathrooms at the epicenter of the building. Those bathrooms are the farthest away, but that also makes them the least used. That means more privacy and less… unwanted visitors.

He sits in a closed stall for ten, maybe fifteen minutes. He’s pushing it, he knows. He knows when he finally goes back to class that he’ll get chewed out by the teacher, for sure. Maybe even made to stand at the front as punishment, again. He drags his feet as much as possible, even making his exit a slow process. He sits on the toilet, knees to his chest, chin on his knees, and clicking away on his CD player absentmindedly. It’s the same six songs on the mixtape CD he plays over and over and over again, but he doesn’t really mind. Most other music doesn’t really interest him.

He unfolds himself from his perch on the toilet, slides off his headphones and slips both them and the player in to his roomy pockets before clicking the stall door open.

When he exits the stall, he stands frozen in surprise. He isn’t alone.

Jungkook stands at the opposite end of the small tiled room, near the urinals. Right underneath a tiny window for ventilation. He’s opened it, and Jimin can see why:

He holds a half-used cigarette in between all of his fingers, pulling it from his mouth and tilting his head upwards slightly to blow it out of the opening.

Jimin’s hands ball into a fist.

“Why are you following me?” he asks. It’s dry. And accusatory.

Jungkook looks at him with wide eyes for a brief second before his mouth splits in to a wide, bright grin. Jimin shivers, and he thinks it must be from the chill of the rain and the open window.

“I’m not, I swear,” Jungkook replies, his hands up in a placating manner. He flicks the cigarette out of the window. Jimin wants to punch the grin right off of his face. “I come here for the same reason that you do.”

“Yeah? What’s that.”

“No one comes looking in here. I need a place to have a break too, you know.”

Jimin stares at him, eyeing him up and down for a few seconds, trying to find the lie in his words. When he doesn’t, he just scowls and curses Jungkook under his breath, and makes his way towards the grimy sinks.

As he turns the faucet knobs -- scalding hot, just how Jimin likes it -- he notices in his peripheral view Jungkook sauntering over to the urinals right by the sinks. He keeps his head forward, downward facing towards his hands under the stream of chilled water, waiting for the it to heat up to just hot enough that Jimin feels like everything is truly washed away.

But, just out of the corner of his eye, Jimin sneaks a fleeting glance over at Jungkook. The way he lifts up his unbuttoned shirt. The way his stomach dips and ripples with muscular definition. The small trail of hair right in between Jungkook’s pronounced hip bones. The way large, veiny hands tug at his own leather belt, undo the buckle, and the button at the peak of his uniform slacks.

Jimin watches Jungkook’s hands work with low eyes, and suddenly his mouth feels dry and cracked. He gulps silently, closing his mouth to moisten it.

His cheeks feel hot as he stares at the dark, heavy red boxers Jungkook is sporting underneath his pants. He doesn’t even recognize this side of himself. Jungkook annoys him, angers him, bothers him. Touches when he shouldn’t, speaks too freely, laughs too loudly.

It must be the heat, he tells himself, as his eyes lower even further when Jungkook begins fiddling with the opening in his boxers to relieve himself. He gulps again, but his mouth is still dry. How long has he been staring? Surely only a second or two. Surely not long enough for anyone to notice. Surely.

“Hey,” he hears suddenly.

He looks up at Jungkook. Jungkook is staring at him with a look that seems half concerned and half horrified. Their eyes meet, and Jimin realizes he’s been caught. His cheeks are flushed and red, and his mouth open in concentration.

Jungkook nods at him. Past him, actually.

“Your hands…”

Jimin blinks once, confused. He follows Jungkook’s gaze, looks down at his hands under the stream of water. Hot steam has risen in a cloud around the sink and mirror. He stares. Unfeeling. He stares for what seems like an eternity folded over many times to form more.

Jimin gasps. Something -- not him -- yanks his hands away from the scalding rush of liquid fire.

He screams.

 

***

“There.”

Jimin looks down at his upwards turned palms as the soft-spoken, kindly nurse finishes pinning the white bandages tightly over his forearm and wheels her rolling chair back towards her desk.

“You’re very lucky it wasn’t second degree,” she hums from where she looks over her log book. Scanning over the names. “It could have been much worse, you must be more careful in the future. Pay more attention.”

Jimin nods. His sits on the edge of the bed in the nurse’s office, staring down at his tightly wrapped palms, the burn ointment soaking the bandages underneath. He flexes his hands curiously, and hisses at how they sting.

“Take this,” the nurse insists, and presses a tube of the ointment in to his hands. Jimin instinctively closes his fists around it, like a venus fly trap, in one swift motion.

“Rub it over the inflamed areas twice a day. Morning and night if possible. Make sure you follow up with your doctor just to be on the safe side.”

She opens the curtain surrounding the bed.

“You can go back to class now, thank you,” she says, but not to Jimin.

He cranes his neck around her to see Jungkook, leaned back in one of the waiting chairs outside the halo of curtains, looking anxious. He looks up at her, and his eyes automatically careen around her as well, locking with Jimin’s.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be just fine. He’ll be on his way soon, as well,” she assures him. He nods his head and stands, running a hand through his sweaty, fluffy hair as he does so. He doesn’t look reassured at all.

As he leaves, he gives Jimin one last glance, then bows his head to the nurse as he makes his exit. Jimin watches him go.

Suddenly, he his eyes feel heavy. He feels faint. Sleepy. And he doesn’t want to go back to class.

He looks at his forearms, where the bandages cease crawling up the length of his hands. Right at the edge of the bandages is a small, blooming bruise -- barely visible and just turning blue and purple, in the shape of a thumb print. It’s where Jungkook had suddenly grabbed a tight hold of Jimin’s arms and pulled him away from the steamy waterfall of scalding hot water. It’s where he held on to Jimin’s arms and repeatedly asked him what are you doing over and over again. It’s where he didn’t let go until Jimin was firmly inside the nurse’s office halfway across the school.

Jimin places his thumb over it, admiring the difference in size.

He digs his thumb in to the bruise. He presses down, hard.

***

Leaning against the door frame of the entrance to the school, Jimin watches the downpour continue to hammer the streets and buildings over the city. He watches the sky absentmindedly, as the other students file out past him with their umbrellas and raincoats, to their bikes or to walk home on foot.

He eyes the rain wearily. His hands are empty. He has no umbrella. He had went digging for the one he’d brought earlier today in the communal pile outside of the classrooms, but his was missing. Stolen, probably. Some of the boys in his grade would sometimes leave his shoes or gym clothes in “special” hiding places for him to go hunt down and find. He’s found his underwear hanging on the flagpole, his shoes thrown over goal posts on the track field, and his gym clothes clogging the sinks of the bathrooms on the second floor. His umbrella will surely turn up soon, too. Somewhere.

He hoists his backpack over his shoulders and, at a leisurely pace, steps out in to the heavy rain and makes his way towards home.

He doesn’t run -- it would be pointless. His house is nearly a kilometer away, and at some point while walking in the rain you reach a terminal velocity equivalent of wetness. It doesn’t matter if he’s out in the rain for five minutes or five hours -- he’s going to be the same amount of soaked to the bone either way. Might as well not risk slipping and busting his ass to add insult to injury and join his crippled hands, too. He briefly wonders if his books will be dry in his backpack, but he quickly forgets to care.

He ignores the snickering as he walks, his eyes trained to the ground at his feet. He’ll have to make sure to hang out his uniform to dry as soon as he gets home, or else it’ll never be dry by tomorrow to wear. He doesn’t have a spare set anymore.

He inhales long and slow, stuffing his bandaged hands in to his pocket. He tilts his head up towards the sky to let the rain wash down on to his face. His hair clings to his cheeks and his forehead, and he sort of might even enjoy the pelting of raindrops over his flushed, red skin.

People on the street stare at him as he walks. He knows he looks like a drowned cat, in his too-big soaked shit and his limp, wet noodle hair. But he’s long past crossed the line of caring about what others say about him, or think about him. He closes his eyes, and enjoys the cool droplets.

It takes him a few seconds to process that he doesn’t actually feel the rain anymore. That the drops to his face have ceased; and his closed eyes twitch at the sensation, trying to decipher if the rain really stopped that suddenly.

He opens them. And all he sees is black.

He tilts his head; he tilts it so far back, trying to find the end of the black that has suddenly overtaken the sky, and his neck is so craned that he comes face to face with two large, curious eyes staring right down at him. In to him.

It’s Jungkook.

Jimin yelps in surprise and nearly falls backwards out in to the street, only saved by the fact that Jungkook grabs his wrist just in the nick of time -- and pulls him back with so much force that Jimin’s cheek collides with his broad -- and dry -- chest.

“What are you doing?” Jungkook asks, incredulously.

“What am I doing? What are you doing?” Jimin retorts, shoving away from Jungkook with enough strength that Jungkook has to step forward a hair to keep the massive umbrella covering the both of them. “You scared the shit out of me!”

“You were walking in the rain without an umbrella or jacket.” Jungkook stares at him with wide, innocent eyes, as if he doesn’t know that that group of boys are behind this. Like he thinks Jimin is just stupid, an invalid who can’t even manage to read a weather forecast properly. Like he doesn’t fucking know how an umbrella works. Like he walks in the rain on purpose.

“God, you’re such a tool,” Jimin mutters, and he turns on his heel to stomp away down the street.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jungkook says calmly as he hooks one massive hand in to the crook of Jimin’s elbow, making sure not to grab his bandaged hands, and pulls him back in with such ease that Jimin thinks it must be like an elephant pulling a box of feathers on a rope. Jimin is yanked backwards underneath the shield of the umbrella.

It’s too close to Jungkook for his comfort. It’s too hot and muggy -- too much touching just for the both of them to be able to stay safely in the shelter. He struggles again, telling Jungkook to let go of him, but just as Jimin throws Jungkook’s hand off of him, he winds it around Jimin’s thin waist in an airtight, harsh grip. He pulls Jimin in to him with a hard thud , and it knocks the air out of Jimin’s lungs. He can feel Jungkook’s chest pressing against his back, his fingertips digging in to his hip -- can feel the press of Jungkook’s knee and hard thigh right up against his ass.

Jungkook smells like cigarette smoke. The scent engulfs Jimin’s senses, fills his nostrils, and his pupils dilate. He hangs over Jungkook’s arm, sort of limp, his searing hands gripped around Jungkook’s arm in a futile attempt to pry it off.

It’s a white flag.

“You’re going to catch a cold or something,” Jungkook practically breathes in to the back of his neck. His voice is low, deep, and rumbling. Jimin shivers, and he’s sure it’s just from the cold.

People are staring at them. Everyone is staring. Jimin eyes them wearily -- he doesn’t care. He doesn’t.

But doesn’t Jungkook?

“At least let me get you home,” Jungkook insists, easing up on the grip around Jimin. Jimin doesn’t fight back or run as soon as he’s free; he simply stands there, refusing to look up at Jungkook -- lest he see the fire burning on Jimin’s face. Jungkook won’t take no for an answer. And Jimin has become a tomato with how red he is all over, being pinned down to some random boy in the middle of his town. He knows it. He thinks Jungkook knows it, too.

He just croaks out an “okay”, and Jungkook lets go of him completely.

“I live pretty far,” Jimin manages as Jungkook begins walking. Jimin has to take two steps for every one of Jungkook’s to properly keep up.

“That’s fine,” Jungkook says.

It’s awkward. It sets Jimin’s teeth on edge. They pass various shops, convenience stores, restaurants, and it takes all the strength Jimin has not to flee in to one of them and if Jungkook tries to come in after him, telling the shop owners he’s some pervert that won’t leave Jimin alone.

It’s pouring rain. The sun shouldn’t be bothering him right now. The rain is his time.

Can’t Jungkook let him have anything? Jimin bites his lip, hard.

Jungkook doesn’t speak. Jimin won’t speak. So, they walk in silence.

***

“This is me,” Jimin announces, and Jungkook almost walks past the front door to his building, not even realizing that this building could house apartments inside it. It’s dingy, it’s old. It should have been torn down and rebuilt a while ago. Jungkook looks up at it incredulously.

“Really? Here?” he says, shocked.

There’s that shining social ineptitude again. Jimin cringes outwardly.

“Yes,” he stammers. “It’s not as bad as it looks. On the… inside.”

“It doesn’t look bad,” Jungkook lies, badly.

“Thanks for the walk home,” Jimin says hastily, and ducks out from underneath the umbrella, his cheeks on fire and his whole being cringing with embarrassment. He makes it up to the top of the steps to the apartment building, fumbling with his keys and cursing his clumsy bandaged hands, all while undoing all of the work Jungkook had just done by getting soaked all over again.

In his flustered fumbling, he drops his set of keys on to the flooded concrete, and he audibly curses. He reaches for them, but he’s not quick enough.

A larger, tanner hand encloses around the keys first, and Jimin sees that Jungkook has abandoned his umbrella at the bottom of the stairs, having lunged for the keys as soon as he saw the opportunity.

He stands up fully, towering over Jimin’s small frame and holding the small metal things out to him, waiting.

Jimin stares at the keys in the hand like if he touches them, he might catch on fire. He doesn’t reach out for them.

They stand there, awkwardly, or what feels like minutes. The rain continues to hound down on to them, continues to seep in to Jimin’s socks and underwear and in to his skin. Jungkook is slowly becoming soaked, too. His fluffy summer hair starts flattening to his scalp, and his tight, too-small white uniform shirt is now clinging to every hill and valley of his body -- his arms, his abdomin, his hips...

Clink. Clink clink.

Jimin looks up from where he’s been staring. He meets Jungkook’s eyes. His face is streaked with rain drops, his nose, his lips. It’s dripping from his chin.

He shakes the keys to get Jimin’s attention. Jimin’s eyes dart down to them.

He snatches them in a split second, fumbling for the right key once more when he feels it. A damp, clammy hand sneaking around to the back of Jimin’s slicked up neck. It clamps down, cups at the nape of his neck and brings Jimin’s head forward.

He feels a knock of bone against his forehead where Jungkook has pressed their skulls together. Firmly.

Jimin does everything he can, uses all of his strength not to look up and face Jungkook. Not to look him in the eye. Not to even breathe -- he holds his breath as he stares holes in to the keys clasps in his clothed hands.

Jungkook’s breath is hot and heavy. Jimin can feel it settle on his eyelashes and he blinks.

“Don’t catch a cold.”

Jimin nods. Jungkook doesn’t move for what feels like forever -- keeps his head pressed down against Jimin’s and stares down at his downcast eyes, wondering if Jimin will get the guts to look up at him.

Jimin can’t. He knows what might happen if he does. His hands shake; he’s afraid he will drop his keys again.

When he doesn’t move, Jungkook just smiles. He releases Jimin from his hold. There’s heavy footsteps fluttering down the stairs, away from Jimin, as Jungkook retrieves his umbrella and heads off back in the same direction that they had just come from -- back home.

Wherever that is.

Jimin shuts his eyes and bangs his head once, hard, against the door.

***

“Mom?” Jimin calls from the front door of the old, dark apartment. The windows are shut tight, and it’s swelteringly muggy inside. The building is too old for air conditioning, and the fans are doing nothing but just blowing the hot air around. It’ll take forever for Jimin to dry his uniform.

He slips off his shoes, and follows the sound of voices chatting merrily away in the living room. When he rounds the corner, he finds his mother sitting upright on the couch, at the edge, her attention fully on the screen in front of her. It’s the only source of the light in the otherwise pitch dark room – the windows all have the curtains drawn, and the lights overhead are out. Jimin knows better than to switch them on.

His mother sits on the couch, dressed in a simple beige dress that seems a little old fashioned, almost like she’s stuck in the time period it came from. Her hair is pulled and pinned back, and she’s got a full face of makeup on. Even though, Jimin knows, she hasn’t left the house all day.

She’s got a pack of tissues in her lap, and one up to her mouth. Her eyes look watery, and she can’t pull her attention away from the screen, even as Jimin softly calls her name. Jimin knows the characters on this show – it’s his mother’s favorite. It makes her happy.

Sometimes, Jimin thinks, it’s all that makes her happy anymore. It shows, in the way she only puts on her nicest clothes and makeup to sit in front of the television, watching her “stories” for ten hours a day, from the time she gets up to the time she heads to sleep. On that very same couch.

Jimin doesn’t remember a time that it wasn’t this way.

“I’m going to take a shower,” Jimin says, quietly, futilely. It’s barely more than a whisper. “Do you need the bathroom?”

She doesn’t answer. Jimin leaves as quietly and unnoticed as he came.

***

As Jimin soaks in the old, ceramic, grimy bathtub and listens to the sounds of sirens and cards and loud passerby, he furrows his eyebrows in thought. Only his eyes and nose are visible, the rest of his body – including his injured hands – are soaking in the hot water below him. It had been painful at first, and perhaps he shouldn’t have done it, but something about the stinging sobered Jimin up from the stormy, whirling cloud of thoughts in his brain.

His whole body is flustered, and not from the heat of the bath. His clothes hang above him on the clothesline, still dripping. It’ll be a miracle if they’re dry by tomorrow morning in this humidity.

He wishes that his thoughts and feelings would evaporate away with the steam, like how it does when it hits the cool tile. The rain outside is still coming down like cats and dogs. The radio he plays on the edge of the tub calls for more rain. And more. And more. More and more rain.

Jimin blinks.

There’s a slam of a door far away deep in to the house. His father must be home. Jimin wonders how late it is, and how long he’s been in the bathroom trying to wash away his preoccupations. His father never comes home until the bars have kicked him out, which admittedly takes a while. When they send him home, he’s at his most belligerent and most destructive. He doesn’t bother his mother, and he can’t bother Jimin if he’s behind a locked door.

Jimin sinks further into the water, where only his eyes are visible above the steaming vat.

His fuzzy mind wonders – and it must be the heat getting to him, making him light headed. All he can think about is a strong arm wrapped tightly around him; the same arms half-dragging half-carrying him to the nurse’s office as Jimin stared at his blistering hands in shock; a flushed, youthful, sweat-slicked face smiling at him up on the sun-battered roof; a broad smile underneath the torrential downpour.

Hands fumbling with a belt, over a noticeable bulge in some blood red boxers. The soft outlines of muscles peppering a strong stomach and wide chest. Veins littering large, sturdy hands that hold Jimin down. Rough, calloused fingertips running over his jaw, wrapping around the skin just underneath at his throat; hot and heavy breath blowing in to his ear. A knee pushing his thighs apart and the other hand bruising in its grip on Jimin’s hips. He opens his mouth to protest weakly, and something hot and heavy slips inside. Jimin’s eyes flutter closed, and they’re wet.

Jimin screws his eyes shut and completely submerges himself under the water. He screams, but it only comes to the surface as a few ripples, bubbles, and pressing silence. It reaches no one.

 

***

From where he sits, squatting in the shade with his bandaged hands firmly hidden where they’re curled up to his chest, Jimin can see the entirety of the senior class out on the track field. The girls, the boys… all from this vantage point. He just hopes the coach can’t see him.

The rain offered a small reprieve for the day, lending way to another sweltering, blisteringly hot day instead. Which meant the coach wouldn’t allow them to sit inside watching educational sexual reproduction movies in the auditorium during PE. Which meant… actual PE. Outside. On one of the hottest days of 1999.

Jimin hides in the shade of an overgrown tree and some bushes and watches the class of boys running laps. He has his headphones and CD player next to him -- he was listening to the walkman when the batteries finally gave out. Jimin went to dig more out of his father’s drawer when he was passed out in bed, but found that they had all been used. He would have to try to find more, somewhere.

Now, he has to get his entertainment from his classmates out in the distance. A few boys spray a group of girls with their water bottles, and the girls then run away screaming. Some boys are arguing with the coach to let them go inside out of the heat. He calls them pansies and tells them to run ten more laps.

Jimin watches with piqued interest as the boys jog, groaning with exhaustion and probably the beginnings of heat stroke, too. Their shorts start riding up their strong thighs as they run and god -- Jimin hates these boys. Always has. Ever since the start of high school. But he can’t stop staring .

And if he doesn’t soon, the boys will notice that he’s staring, somehow. They have this spidey-sense thing about them where they can smell out Jimin’s blatant… abnormality , and they don’t miss a chance to openly mock him in front of everyone for it.

Jimin tears his eyes away, settling his chin on his knees where he’s curled up into a ball in the shade, and thanks the higher powers out there that no one can find him in this little reprieve.

Well, almost no one.

Heavy footsteps close in on Jimin, and when the two massive feet land in front of him, he blinks and looks up, curious. He should have already known who it was.

“Hey,” Jungkook says, clearly out of breath from the twenty laps he’d just done around the field. How did he spot Jimin?

Jimin doesn’t have time to utter a snarky reply, or even a kind greeting in return, before Jungkook is squatting down on his level, his arms splayed out over his knees, and Jimin automatically recoils away a bit from the presence.

“How are your hands?” Jungkook asks, kindly, and he sweeps a large hand through his damp, sweaty hair.

Jimin answers by folding his hands out from where they are curled against his chest, wordlessly, to show Jungkook that they are indeed intact.

“Good,” Jungkook says, and sniffs in the heat as he stands back up. He kicks the point of his shoes on the ground absentmindedly, and watches the boys running in the distance. Jimin wishes he would say something, anything -- instead of dragging out this awkward silence Jungkook seems to enjoy so much. Why does Jungkook insist on making these painful social situations around the one person who hates them the most? Jimin curls in on himself again and looks down at the blades of grass beneath his feet.

“Say,” Jungkook starts, and it sounds nervous. Jimin looks up out of the corner of his eye to see that Jungkook is rubbing the back of his neck, an obvious displacement activity as he tries to wrangle the courage to say something that’s on his mind. Jimin wants to tell him to spit it out, to say whatever it is and go -- but he waits, silently. Almost… patiently. But it can’t be that. Jimin isn’t patient.

“Today, during fifth period, can you meet me up on the roof?”

Jimin’s eyes widen, then immediately narrow, suspicious.

“Why?”

“I just wanna tell you something,” Jungkook says simply.

“What is it?”

“I can’t say it here. It has to be later. On the roof.”

Jimin cranes his neck up to meet Jungkook’s hard, serious look. He’s almost taken aback. Everything about Jungkook that Jimin has ever known has been funny, a joke, nothing with consequence. This Jungkook looks serious. Grave, even.

This could be some horrible prank, Jimin thinks. This could be a way for the boys that have been tormenting Jimin since freshman year to finally get him alone and away from the prying eyes of teachers. Is Jungkook in with that crowd? Is this some trick to get him alone on the roof so the group of guys can lay in to them like they’ve been threatening for years?

Jungkook looks down at him with pleading eyes, his tan, sweaty skin pulling his gym shorts and shirt to his body. Really, it’s almost obscene. How do they allow this boy in a school ?

Jimin’s eyes drop to the ground. He thinks that’s answer enough.

A girl in the distance calls Jungkook’s name.

“Coming!” he shouts, careful not to give away their hiding spot. He looks back down at Jimin. “Fifth period. On the roof.”

Jimin doesn’t watch him go.

***

Twenty minutes past the start of fifth period, and Jimin thinks he’s been taken for a fool.

And really, he should have suspected that Jungkook would play him for one. Why wouldn’t he? Jimin is an easy target.

There’s no sign of Jungkook anywhere, and it doesn’t seem like he’s coming. Jimin is hanging his arms and shoulders over the edge of the balcony again, staring down at the passerby below as all the blood rushes to his head, making him fuzzy and feel weird. The people look like little bugs, even though it’s only ten stories.

Ten stories. Jimin wonders, subconsciously, what a fall from this height would be like. It feels like you would die on impact. But what if you fell on your legs? Would you be crippled and in terrible agony until the shock makes you pass out? Then you wake up in a hospital bed two days later and the doctor says you can never walk again and god, wouldn’t that suck. No, if Jimin were to fall, he’d try to land on his head. Leave no room for error. Make sure the deed gets done. No pain, no agony, no crippling disfigurement.

He thinks harder about it. If he did land on his legs, who would be at his bedside when he wakes up? Not his mother, especially not if her dramas are on. His father would be at a bar and unreachable, unless the hospital has the landlines to those bars on speed dial. Even then, could he muster the sobriety and fucks to make it there? No, Jimin thinks. When he wakes up, he’d be alone. No parents, no teachers, no friends.

So what if he landed on his head? What if he died, instead? Who would be at his funeral?

His parents would surely be forced to come, right? Can’t they force parents to attend? And his classmates? Wouldn’t it be all over the news if no one showed up at his wake? They’d have to save face, somehow. They’d have to come and pretend they had cared and known about Jimin. The girls would have to write eulogies, his parents would have to talk about how he was a bright young boy with a future ahead of him. Would be forced to try to remember who he was and what he did. The boys at his school -- would they be forced to be pallbearers? Jimin licks his lips at the thought.

They’d be in the papers when Jimin’s tragic death is reported. Right there, on the front page, faces dripping in fake remorse and guilt. Would they have to admit all the things they’d said and done to newscameras after they found Jimin broken and his brains splattered all over the pavement at the front of the school?

God, the thought alone is like electricity to Jimin. He licks his lips again.

And what about Jungkook?

Would Jungkook be at his funeral? Would Jungkook carry the casket? Would Jungkook give a speech? Would Jungkook cry?

Would Jungkook care?

Jimin feels his body being tugged firmly backwards, by the hem of his loose uniform shirt, and he’s startled out of his fantasy. His first thought is to look below him, and he’s alarmed to not find the white, bare concrete he’s expecting-- but rather, he finds the cityscape, bustling with life and unsuspecting pedestrians and cars, down below.

Somehow, without him even realizing it, the entire top half of his body is now hanging freely over the edge of the building. He’s somehow on his knees on the balcony, his feet having completely left the ground. One leg is swung completely over the side -- dangling in the hot summer wind. He gasps in fright -- when did he climb up over the edge? When?

He turns towards the force holding him firmly at the edge without going over. There’s a large, brawny hand gripping strongly and resolutely on to his shirt. It’s fisted in the hand, leaving no room for Jimin to go forward. His eyes travel up the arm, taught with muscle straining against Jimin’s weight, and his eyes lock with the owner.

Jungkook stares at him, wide-eyed, but resolute. He doesn’t look scared, but rather… angry. Calmly angry. Determined. It makes Jimin shiver from where he sits on the edge.

They stare at each other for a long while. Minutes, even; never breaking eye contact. Jungkook refuses to loosen his grip on Jimin’s shirt, refuses to let Jimin be the decider of his own destiny, just like Jungkook fucking would .

Jimin stares at him, horrorstuck and maybe… maybe. Maybe even a little…

Scared.

There’s an image in Jimin’s mind. Of Jungkook in a pew at his funeral, dressed in a black suit. Of Jungkook worriedly biting his nails at the side of a hospital bed. Of Jungkook waiting outside of the curtains of the nurse’s office. Of the way Jungkook’s worried and wet eyes had met Jimin’s when they locked together there.

A strong breeze whips Jimin’s hair around on his face, and he watches Jungkook’s uniform billow in it. A strange, foreign sound escapes Jimin’s lips, and it’s broken.

He reaches out and grips Jungkook’s wrist, hesitantly.

Jungkook uses the chance he’s been given; he immediately brings his other hand up to snatch at the hand Jimin has offered, and Jimin yelps in shock as Jungkook yanks him unceremoniously off of the balcony back on to the pavement of the roof top. He doesn’t just leave Jimin there, doesn’t just let him wallow in his self pity and let his tears he didn’t even realize he was crying hit the pavement.

No, Jungkook is dragging him backwards, away from the edge, and Jimin can only let out an alarmed gasp as he’s manhandled backwards towards the door to the roof.

He’s thrown up against it like a rag doll, and the impact makes Jimin grit his teeth. He attempts to say something, anything -- attempts to curse at Jungkook or cry or scream? He isn’t sure. But he doesn’t get the chance to say anything, or let out any kind of noise.

As soon as the back of his skull hits the concrete wall behind him, two impossibly large, strong hands cup his face in a gentle, but firm hold, and Jimin is only gaining the frame of mind to be able to pull at them when he feels it. Dry, cracked, warm lips.

On his.

He lets out a gasp that gets devoured, and he tries to pull at the hands holding his face in its place. His bandaged hands are on fire, stinging with the effort, as they pull and scratch and hit. The hands holding him simply grab his arms and pin his hands to the wall behind him by the wrists, right at his head.

He drops his head, out of the offending mouth’s reach, and he cries. He cries, and he cries. He sobs, and they come out wrecked and broken, and he doesn’t even know why, why why he’s doing it. He’s heaving with the effort of it, hanging his head and trying to will himself to stop being such a fucking pussy for one goddamn minute. Quit being a faggot , he hears in his head. And it sounds like the boys at the school. It sounds like his teacher, like his father, like a friend from long ago. He tugs at the hands holding him down one more time and to his surprise, one sets him free -- only to immediately grab right at the juncture of his jaw and throat, forcing his chin and eyes skyward, up towards Jungkook again. The mouth is back again, but not on his -- it’s on his cheek, on his temples and then in his hair, and Jimin realizes that Jungkook has him in a vice like embrace now, Jimin’s hands free to do as they please -- but Jimin has them still up against the wall even in this embrace, where Jungkook had left them. Jungkook has those arms of his, the ones Jimin had felt under the umbrella, wrapped tightly around his shoulders and his back, and he’s whispering in to Jimin’s temple:

It’s fine. You’re fine. You’re okay.

Jimin doesn’t think he’s okay. God, and maybe it’s the heat that is making him act this way. Act crazy.

So, this is how the world ends, he thinks. With tears and paranoia, and ideations of hospitals and funerals -- and affection thrust upon him. He’s sure of it. He can’t stop sobbing, can’t stop breathing like he hasn’t been able to take a breath in years, can’t stop hyperventilating and can’t stop the tears that form at the corner of his eyes.

How did he get to this point? How did he get here? Is this another daydream, too?

Is he already dead? Splattered on the pavement and in a hundred pieces for everyone to see?

It takes ten minutes for Jungkook to calm Jimin down. Ten minutes of him holding the two together in the impossible, pressing heat under the sun. Ten minutes of shushing and petting and rocking. Ten minutes of patience. Jimin isn’t patient.

But Jungkook is.

“I came up here and saw you,” Jungkook finally offers, after Jimin’s sobs have subsided, and he’s regained his composure. He’s dead quiet, now, and his white clothed hands are gripping in to the back of Jungkook’s shirt so harshly, he’s afraid it may rip.

“I saw you at the edge. I got scared,” Jungkook continues. It’s not accusatory, not harsh or fed up. It’s stated like a fact. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to startle you.”

Jimin is staring at no fixed point around Jungkook’s shoulder. Over the edge of the roof, probably. He doesn’t say anything, just stares at anywhere but Jungkook. The strong, assaulting scent of cigarettes envelops Jimin, and his face contorts into a grimace. Still, he buries his face halfway into Jungkook’s arm.

“I just wanted to see you. And talk to you. Like I had promised.”

Jimin waits, expectantly. His grip tightens somehow even further in to the back of Jungkook’s shirt.

“I couldn’t hold on to it any longer. I had to tell you. You deserved to know. It was wrong to keep it from you when I knew about it a long, long time ago.” Jungkook lets out a gruff cough, and Jimin thinks Jungkook is himself on the verge of tears. Maybe not outright hysteria like Jimin, no -- but something.

“I--”

Jimin braces himself. Jungkook clears his throat.

“I’m moving.”

Jimin was wrong.

This , surely, is how the world ends.

***

Jimin watches the rain pour down in sheets over the window pane of the classroom where he sits in the back. Jungkook won’t look back at him now. Jimin is thankful for at least that. The rain had started in big, fat drops up on the rooftop, and Jimin had a hard time distinguishing them from all of the tears running down both of their faces. It felt stupid, and melodramatic. But they had to go inside. The sun had gone, and the only shelter was in the school, now.

Jimin listens to the cracks of lightning far away from here.

It’s my family, they -- we’re moving to Seoul.

Jimin taps his foot, trying to push Jungkook’s voice out of his head.

At the end of term next week. I can’t -- I have to go. I already tried to get them to let me finish out the school year.

Jimin’s face feels hot, and he covers his mouth with his hand.

I’ll be back. I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but I will come back. If you want me to.

Jimin lays his head against his desk. His shoulders shake, silently.

I’ll come back for you.

“May I go to the bathroom?”

The teacher, and the classroom full of students, all whirl their heads around where Jimin sits, stone-faced and hand held high in the hair. The request was sudden and very loud, too loud, and had interrupted the teacher’s lecture mid-word. The teacher obviously bristles at the interruption, but is so startled that he waves Jimin to go regardless. Better to get him out than to let him stay.

Jimin practically runs out of the classroom and down the hallways. To the empty, abandoned bathroom. Passing by concerned students and faculty as he goes, ignoring the claps of thunder and lightning out the window to his right. His only thought, only goal, is getting out of the public, out of sight of prying eyes and sniggers from onlookers.

He closes his eyes the last few meters. If he can’t see them, they can’t see him.

They can’t see me .

He barely makes it to the bathroom sink, having thrown the door wide open, before he’s gagging in to it. Nothing comes out -- he hasn’t eaten since yesterday, so there’s nothing there to give -- but he gags and retches anyways. He can’t help it, he’s cried himself sick.

He takes turns sobbing and retching in to the sink and doesn’t even hear the sound of someone entering behind him, of the door being thrown wide open for his cries to reach anyone within the immediate vicinity until it slams airtight shut again.

He only registers another presence in the room when he feels Jungkook’s hands wind their way around his thin waist, easily wrapping fully around, and Jungkook’s forehead being pressed in to back of his neck.

He makes a low effort attempt to jerk away from Jungkook, push him off, but Jungkook just hugs him tighter, more desperately.

Jimin has heard about these. Panic attacks, he thinks they’re called. Anxiety attack? He’s not sure. But it feels like he’s dying, but the end won’t come. Instead, he’s just left gasping for air that won’t fill his lungs, weak-kneed and distraught.

He can barely make out the muted whispers of Jungkook apologizing into this neck and back over the sounds of Jimin’s retching.

“How--long--” Jimin demands between gasps. “How long did you know?”

Jungkook buries his head further between Jimin’s shoulder blades, shaking his head at the question.

How long? ” Jimin hisses again.

Jungkook is quiet, waiting for the other’s breaths to slow and stabilize, as he hugs Jimin tighter to his chest. The hug feels like it’s more to ground him than Jimin. “Since…”

He makes an audible gulp as he tries to find his words.

“Since the start of term,” he whispers.

Jimin whirls around, incredulous. His eyes are wide with shock, fury. Hurt?

“Start of term? In March ?”

Jungkook looks like a kicked puppy the way he bows his head and takes a timid step back. His hands come up like he wants to grab Jimin again, but he refrains.

This-- ” Jimin bellows, and he’s thankful for the door keeping his voice locked inside. “This is why you suddenly decided to get close to me? You were moving?”

Jungkook shakes his head.

“You were moving so you figured you’d fuck with me a bit before you left? Play around with me like I was some toy dangling on a string?”

The head shakes become frantic now, insistent.

“No--”

“Then what?

“I just--” Jungkook roars, grabbing Jimin firmly by the shoulders and holding him in place, towering over him with a ferocity and a hurt in his eye that Jimin can’t place on someone like Jungkook. Someone so carefree and popular and loved .

“I just wanted to try! I wanted to try . I never got the courage to get close to you since I came to this school, and after I found out I was moving I thought well -- fuck it -- I have to at least try.

Jungkook angrily and aggressively wipes his red, puffy eyes before continuing.

“I spent two years here just going with the crowd I was assigned to. And I figured that I had to at least try to spend some time with you. Get you to notice me, get you to say something to me. I wanted to at least be able to say that I had tried .” He removes his hands from where they bruisingly clench Jimin’s shoulders, who in turn stands stock still and rooted in place, the edge of the sink counter digging in to his lower back.

“I just wanted to talk to you. I liked you. It wasn’t anything more than that. I didn’t expect you to like me back. Hell -- I didn’t even expect you to talk to me or give me the time of day. But I kept pushing because why the fuck not? Who cares what people said or thought, you know? Fuck those people, man. I’m moving, I don’t give a shit. I only ever gave a shit about--”

He pauses, regaining control over his voice.

“It wasn’t supposed to go this far. You weren’t supposed to-- I saw how you looked at me in this bathroom. I saw how you didn’t kick me off your roof even though you should have. I saw how you responded when I touched you,” he slowly snakes a hand up Jimin’s arm, under his sleeve, barely there, like an airy breath. Jimin shivers.

“Like this.”

Jimin feels like the touch burns the first layer of his skin off -- like the hot water pouring from the faucet behind him. Like touching the surface of the sun.

“I couldn’t stop it once it started. And I should have. I should have quit when I realized it was going too far; when it was crossing a line. But I didn’t, and I can’t change that.”

It wasn’t supposed to go this far. This wasn’t supposed to happen. And now it’s never going to happen.

Jimin doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it before it’s too late to stop; he has the front of Jungkook’s shirt in this small fists, and he’s pulling Jungkook in to him. The larger boy could resist, if he wanted to, but there’s something in him that is still making terrible decisions, and he collides with Jimin at will. He lands in between Jimin’s knees, chest against chest, crotch against crotch. Jimin’s head slams in to the dirty mirror behind him. He doesn’t waste any time before he’s pulling at the hem of Jungkook’s collared and pressed uniform shirt, pulling up and running short, blunt nails over the sensitive skin at Jungkook’s hip bones.

Jungkook has his mouth on Jimin’s in a heartbeat, and Jimin welcomes it this time. He opens his mouth, invites Jungkook in, and it’s messy. It’s unskilled and hurried -- there’s clanking of teeth and biting and -- Jimin reaches for Jungkook’s belt and begins working it open, not nearly as skilled at it as Jungkook had been that one time.

Jimin is startled when Jungkook pulls away and grabs Jimin’s wrists to still them.

“Don’t,” he commands, firmly, warningly. “Don’t do this, Jimin. Don’t do this. It will only make everything hurt more.”

“Shut up,” Jimin hisses, and he slaps Jungkook’s hands away. “For once in your life, just shut up .”

Jungkook’s hands scramble to grab Jimin’s again, careful to avoid his injured skin and god -- Jimin wishes he could feel this, all of this contact, with his actual fingertips. It feels like he’s been cheated, this. He feels robbed.

“Don’t,” Jungkook says again, and it feels a little more like pleading this time. “Don’t allow me to do this.”

Allow you? God, you’re a miserable creature,” comes the reply. Jimin squeezes his knees down around Jungkook, and he hopes he sounds like he’s got conviction, but his eyes are red and swollen, and his voice breaks when he says it.

“You owe me this, Jungkook,” Jimin sobs, and he fists Jungkook’s shirt again. His palms are on fire. His heart feels like it might be, too. “You owe me this.”

Jungkook doesn’t look like he needs any convincing. He has his eyes shut and his brows are furrowed together harshly in a way that looks like he’s trying to fight some deep, deep desires. He’s leaning over Jimin on the counter, his hands firmly placed on either side of Jimin’s hips and he’s breathing heavily through his nose. He won’t look up at Jimin.

So, Jimin makes him. He cups Jungkook’s jaw in his hands and jerks his head up. Against his better judgement, Jungkook opens his eyes to meet the other’s.

“This is fucked,” he says, and it’s the most calmly stated thing he’s said in the last hour. “This won’t solve anything, and it isn’t going to feel good.”

Jimin searches Jungkook’s eyes, quiet.

“Okay,” he finally says, voice hoarse and like he’s eaten gravel. And that’s all he can say. Okay. Okay, I understand. I know the consequences.

Jungkook seems to crumble at that, leans his head in to Jimin’s grasp and parrots back to him in a whisper: “Okay. Okay.”

He grabs Jimin’s hips in a crushing grip and yanks the boy’s body down the counter to meet his own. Jimin’s head slides down the mirror, and he doesn’t know what to do with his hands, where to put them or what to do at all -- he’s never done this before. He let’s them rest up above his head in an x, and Jungkook seems to swell with lust at the sight. He practically rips Jimin’s shirt open, careful to keep the buttons intact but not to waste any time, and pulls Jimin’s belt out of its loops seemingly in one go.

Jimin is hot all over, and the heat of the summer rain doesn’t seem to be easing that feeling at all, even where the window is still open from when Jungkook had been in here. This bathroom hadn’t seen anyone nor bathed in weeks, but Jimin didn’t care. He didn’t care. He wanted, he needed.

Jungkook steps out from between Jimin’s knees so he can pull his pants down, but Jimin’s eyes squint when Jungkook doesn’t bother to pull them off his ankles with his shoes. Jungkook doesn’t give him time to protest, just grabs Jimin’s knees again and pushes them together and up towards his chest. Jimin hugs them to himself obediently when Jungkook gives them a gentle warning push.

With his hands free, Jungkook pulls and tugs at his own pants buttons, yanking them down just past his hips enough to expose his crotch, and Jimin notices instantly through his hazy, clouded mind that Jungkook is already hard and -- from the looks of it -- has been even throughout his protests. The tent in his blood red boxers doesn’t lie like Jungkook does.

Jimin licks his lips, and before he even realizes what he’s doing, he’s reaching out a shaking, curious hand. His fingertips barely brush the ever swelling, slightly damp mass there, and he can feel a full body shiver run down Jungkook’s spine and legs. Suddenly Jimin’s hands are being pushed back against the mirror and held in place by one of Jungkook’s -- and the larger boy just lets out a guttural “Don’t.”

Why? Jimin wonders. And he can tell by the way Jungkook is shaking that he’s close already. And this… at this Jimin can’t help but crack a small smile.

Large hands press down on Jimin’s knees again, holding them tightly shut together, and reaches down to cross his ankles down firmly.

“Like this, sweetheart.”

Jimin gives a confused head tilt, but he complies. “Why?” he rasps.

Jungkook’s breathing is ragged and uneven. He’s straining to control himself. “Don’t want to hurt you. Not like this.”

“Don’t be such a-- fuck! ” Jimin’s chiding remark is cut short by a hot, clammy hand clamping down on Jimin’s hard cock, enveloping it completely, and giving absolutely no recovery time before immediately pumping away. Jimin doesn’t even know what to do with himself like this -- a virgin, in the school’s bathroom, getting jacked off by Jungkook of all people -- and he can’t get any words to form on his tongue. He just mewls and arches his back up into the white hot heat and friction, placing his palms flat against mirror behind him. It’s steamed up considerably in the summer mugginess, and their body heats are only adding fuel to the fire. His hands slide down with no friction to hold them there, and he gasps, airy and broken.

Jungkook uses his other hand and spits in to it unceremoniously, and Jimin starts with alarm at the sight of Jungkook slicking up his dick with the makeshift lubricant. And he’s briefly worried that Jungkook is going to fuck him right here like this — no preparation, no proper lubrication. But Jungkook doesn’t try to force himself into a nervous, shaking Jimin. He just uses his free hand to wrap around Jimin’s thighs, holding them as taught together as possible, and that’s when Jimin feels it -- the telltale warmth and slippery slide of Jungkook’s own cock sliding in between his tightly shut thighs. He gasps again, startled.

This… wasn’t what he was expecting. But he almost sighs with relief. He would never admit to Jungkook that he was nervous, scared even. Would never admit that Jungkook obviously having more experience with this and ways to creatively get off with no proper tools and time, was a bit of a godsend.

The intruding cock leaves a sticky trail in its wake after each labored, hurried thrust. Jungkook is a powerful man already even at this age, and each thrust grows more and more feral as Jungkook loses himself in Jimin and the pleasure of it all. Jimin feels himself being bumped back up into the mirror with each one, and his head hitting the back panel. Jungkook even has to brace himself on the mirror with one of his hands slammed in to it right above Jimin’s head.

Jimin can’t even feel the mirror hitting the back of his scalp, his eyes are lidded and heavy from where it hits over and over again. But he can’t even register it over the fog of pleasure Jungkook’s hand on his dick is generating. His tongue is heavy in his mouth, and it’s weighing him down where he feels he’s going to melt in to the very counter itself. Jungkook tightens his grips around Jimin’s thighs, and he thinks he’ll for sure have a string of bruises there tomorrow. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Maybe that proves it happened.

Jimin looks up at where Jungkook is hunched over him. All tan skin, hard lines, and sweat dripping down every inch of him. His shirt is hiked up to reveal hard abs that Jimin can’t help but reach out and touch around his own thighs. They ripple at the touch and Jimin watches Jungkook’s face with fascination and wonder -- how Jungkook looks so focused and has his eyes screwed tightly shut, not daring to look down at him. Jimin isn’t at all sure he’d want Jungkook to see him like this, anyways. He must look a sorry sight -- red faced and sweat drenched, and gasping and saying incoherent words and declarations. He must look hilarious.

Maybe it’s better this way.

But seeing Jungkook biting his lip in concentration, watching the sweat dripping from the ends of his hair… it’s all too much for Jimin. His back arches involuntarily, and he digs his elbows into the countertop. This thighs are sticky and Jungkook looks so tan and hot above him, and he sees the Jungkook that he initially saw on the first day of year one -- the wild haired, tanned, summer creature that had walked in to the classroom. Young and reckless, no care for the future, or even the next five minutes. He existed solely in the now.

He had looked at Jimin almost immediately when he stood at the front of that classroom.

Jimin didn’t think much of it at the time. But now. Now --

It’s the same look Jungkook is giving him now, now that he’s opened his eyes and is thrusting in to his thighs with total abandon and ferocity that Jimin is sure he’s going to be sore tomorrow. It’s a look with bright, piercing eyes. It’s feral. It’s needy. It wants.

Jimin gasps and grits his teeth, his hands coming down to where Jungkook’s pumps at his cock wildly, and he cries out involuntarily, stars exploding in supernovae of color and taste and all six senses against his dark eyelids.

“That’s it, sweetheart,” he hears Jungkook coo from above him, barely. And the voice causes more stardust in his vision. “That’s it. Just for me.”

And Jimin really wishes Jungkook wouldn’t talk like that -- it makes everything so much worse. So much hotter. His insides are on fire and he tenses so hard that his thighs close down on Jungkook in a grip that barely allows him to move, and in his sensory-overloaded brain he can barely register Jungkook’s hips stuttering and stilling, his whole body also tensing up, and a warm liquid spreading down the backs of his legs on to the counter.

Jimin collapses, his legs falling down in a heap to the floor by sheer gravity alone, and Jungkook gasps for breath above him, riddled with lines of cold sweat and shockwaves still visibly pulsing through his body.

And Jimin lays there, on the dirty, grimy counter, in this hot, suffocating room, covered in fluids of every variety, sticky and disgusting and looking once again like a drowned cat.

It’s an awkward, ill-fitting silence that fills the echoing room after that.

And as the high recedes, the low overcomes him. He can feel the bile in his throat rising. It threatens to boil over when Jungkook leans down quietly to kiss at the corner of his mouth -- and Jimin only manages to pull away and place two firm hands on Jungkook’s chest in an abrupt manner, halting the beast above him. He doesn’t look at Jungkook. He doesn’t say anything, either. He just pushes at him as he stares holes in to the mess on his thighs.

Jungkook was right. Nothing is solved. Jungkook is still leaving in a week. Jimin will still be left here, alone once again.

The rain outside seems to pound harder than Jimin thinks it ever has. He can feel it in his eardrums, in his bloodstream. Jungkook doesn’t say anything. What can he say? Is changes nothing. This was all just a waste of time and energy. And maybe, a waste of something else neither could put their finger on, too.

Jungkook was right. It didn’t feel good.

If anything, now everything hurts. Maybe even worse than it did before.

***

Jimin stares at his alarm clock from the small opening of his cocoon of sheets he’s buried himself in. 10:50am.

He’s been in bed since yesterday morning -- not having left his room at all to attend the last day of term. It would hurt too much, he thought. Seeing everyone. Seeing him.

He had tried to lure Jimin out. No one else in the house or at the school noticed nor cared that Jimin hadn’t gone to school that day, or the day before, or the day before that. But Jungkook had.

He had stayed at the front door to Jimin’s building for six hours. Constantly buzzing his apartment. His mother was out cold on the couch, unable to hear the buzzer over her dramas, and his father was off at the bars. No, it was only Jimin who was to be subjected to Jungkook’s incessant buzzing for six whole fucking hours, well past midnight. Jimin watched him from his bedroom window, the one that overlooked the front step. Watched Jungkook seem to practice and rehearse a speech a million times in between each press of the button. Watched him run his hands through his hair, agitated and nervous, over and over again. Watched him kick rocks around and sit on their stoop and watched his shoulders shake as he hunched over for what seemed like twenty minutes.

Jimin watched until he couldn’t anymore. If he did, he didn’t know what he’d do.

Around two in the morning, Jimin heard Jungkook throw a rock at his window. At first it was one. Then two at a time. Then three. Then it was a fistfull of them cascading against the glass pane. When Jungkook was sure that Jimin was listening -- and he was -- he cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted one word:

“11:30!”

Jimin huddled closer in to his blankets and grimaced. He heard Jungkook breathlessly repeat it as he walked away.

“My train. 11:30. The 11:30 to Seoul.”

Jimin stares down his clock again. 10:55.

He hasn’t slept in two days. He’s exhausted. His eyes are red and swollen almost shut. His hands haven’t healed at all, and he’s sure he’ll have to go to the hospital soon. He clenches them to his chest.

10:58.

He should get some fresh air. There’s no rain today, and it’s supposed to be one of the coolest days of the summer this year. He curls his hands to his chest, tries to assess if fresh air will help him sleep, or only make him more restless.

He decides it’s the latter, but the self-destructive asshole in him realizes that he wants to spiral. Self-pity and exhaustion hurts less than admitting he’d fucked up.

At 11:00 on the dot, he slips on his pants, and unlocks his door. There’s no stopping his determined feet, not his mother who cries quietly in to her tissue on the couch, the TV off. Not his father who didn’t make it to the bedroom before he’d passed out earlier that morning on his way home. He slips on his shoes and slams the door behind him, hands jabbed in to his jean pockets to hide the bandages from his prying, curious neighbors who would love any excuse to call the cops on his dad again, just to cause trouble.

He hops down the steps of his apartment building, hopping on to the pavement with the last one. And he sets off.

Where, he doesn’t know. Anywhere. Anywhere but here. Just pick a direction, and go.

So, at 11:03, he does. He takes off down the street towards the main roads.

The crisp air is cooler than he was expecting, and he can feel it giving his exhausted body energy. He walks a little faster, with a little more determination. It feels good, to be out.

It feels good.

In fact, he walks faster, with a little more pep in his step, breaking a small, slight sweat. Good. A little exercise will do him good. It will take his mind off of things.

He glances down at his watch. 11:08.

His feet begin to carry him faster. Just a brisk late morning stroll.

Soon, he’s broken out in to a jog.

Then, a sprint.

And, at 11:10, he’s in a full on run . His feet are pounding the paved road beneath him as he flies around corners, nearly colliding with many passerby who shout angrily at him as he flees. He soars down the steps to the subway four at a time, nearly having a spectacular spill at the bottom.

His wallet forgotten far back home in his sheets, he takes one sprinting hop over the turnstiles of the subway, ignoring the angry and surprised cries from the other patrons and the guards in their booths. They command him to stop, to come back, but Jimin is steadfast and keeps running past anyone who tries to get in his way, down the stairs on to the subway platform, just as the train is pulling in to the station.

He doesn’t stop running down the platform lest someone try to catch him, so he keeps pounding away until the doors open, catching the very last car on the train, the doors closing just in time to block two old, fat guards who were on his heels but couldn’t quite keep up.

He ignores their shouting and banging on the doors to the train, and turns around to study the map.

One stop. He checks his watch. 11:19.

It’s the longest three minute ride of his entire life, and as soon as the train pulls in to the station, Jimin is already using the emergency exit mechanism to open the doors manually, before the train has even had enough time to come to a full stop. He barrels through the shocked crowd of riders, pries open the emergency safety doors of the station with a strength he didn’t even know he was capable of, and takes off at a breakneck sprint. Up the stairs, two at a time, over the turnstiles, up the long hallways, under the sign reading for the long haul train station.

His lungs are on fire, turning to ash and his legs are weak and ready to give out at any moment. He ignores the pain, pushes through and forces his legs to carry him farther and farther until he’s at the train station and barreling past a horde of people standing on the escalator ready to make their morning commute. At the top, he makes his way to the platforms, and comes to a screeching, sneaker-squeaking halt at the analogue sign showing train schedules.

11:30. He scans the sign six times over, his brain firing off every neuron he has to find it. 11:30. To Seoul. 11:30. Seoul.

And he sees it. 11:30. To Seoul. On time. Now departing. Platform 2. He looks down at this watch. 11:27.

He tears away from the sign, through the doors to the platforms, and practically falls down the stairs, barely managing to catch himself at the bottom and take off on a run towards platform number 2. It’s right there, just past the first platforms. He can make it.

He has to make it.

He isn’t even breathing anymore, his lungs all but stopped trying. He’s running on pure hope now, his legs screaming at him to stop and let them rest, but he can’t.

Jimin pounds the pavement as he rounds the corner of the train. The train lets out an agonizing, bellowing whistle. 11:30am.

The train begins to slowly creep forward, and Jimin frantically checks each window, jumping to reach the highest ones, his legs getting weaker and weaker with each hop. When he doesn’t find Jungkook, he runs to the next car. Far away, a guard tells him the train is departing, and he’ll have to catch the next one. He ignores it.

Down to the next car. And the next. The train begins picking up speed. Soon, Jimin has to sprint just to keep up with it. He’s at the last group of cars. Everything hurts, everything is agony. He tries to call Jungkook’s name, but his throat is in shreds and his lungs have no air in them. He has to be on this train. He has to .

And that’s when he spots him. There, in the last window of the penultimate car. His head leaned up against the window, and headphones tightly over his ears. Jimin can see him. Can see the puffiness of Jungkook’s sleep-deprived eyes, the way he rubs at them with back of his hand, how it comes away slightly damp.

He tries to cry out. Tries to get Jungkook’s attention. But nothing comes out except a silent scream. He’s charging down the platform as the train picks up speed faster than Jimin can maintain to keep up. He tries banging on the side of the train, but the metal beast is massive and unwavering, and no sound carries far enough to reach Jungkook. He reaches into his pockets, trying to find something -- anything -- to throw at the window. His hand closes down on his CD player in his pocket--

And that’s enough for him to falter, and trip over his own two feet, and it sends him flying straight into the hard, rough concrete platform.

His bandaged hands break his fall, and the rough impurities of the concrete cut through them in to his skin like glass. His knees are shredded, too, and the CD player and headphones that he’d had a hold of in his pocket come shooting out, landing and skidding hard on the ground with a sickening sound.

Jimin comes to a halt, his inertia depleting and he stops sliding on the floor just as he feels the train speeding past him, now full speed, and on its way to Seoul city. It might as well be travelling to another continent.

Jimin doesn’t try to get himself up. He doesn’t try to stand, or pick up his walkman, even as a flurry of concerned and muted voices start crowding around him, clutching their pearls and wondering what was wrong with this young man who had just made such a scene of himself. The train is gone, wailing in the distance as it speeds off, far from the station. Far, far from Busan.

Far from Jimin.

Jimin curls in on himself, just like he had done in his bed that he should have never left. He looks at his hands, blood seeping through the now dirty white bandages and turning them a sickening crimson reeking of defeat and failure. He clenches his bloody, shredded hands together and presses his tiny fists into his eye sockets, shutting out the world around him and plunging himself into darkness as he heaves and sobs.

If he can’t see them, they can’t seem him cry.

 

***

Jimin sits on the empty, abandoned beach at 11:58pm, burrowing tighter in to his furry jacket to fight off the biting cold of the seaside wind. He’s the only one here, everyone else has gone off to their own respective parties for the big Y-2-K. Jimin wasn’t invited, and he didn’t want to go back home.

A new millenia. The year two-thousand. The big one. The end of the world, some predict. Jimin’s world ended four months ago. The best thing that could happen to him now is a world ending tsunami hitting him square in the face right here on the sand.

He scoffs. What a joke.

He slips on his headphones, presses play, surrounding himself with his carefully curated music. A CD someone important to him had given him a long time ago, to help calm his ever clouded thoughts and anxious ideations. He just wanted to spend this night alone, away from everyone and everything. Able to dictate the night’s decisions. Free into the new millenium. New.

He watches the waves pound up on to the shore and huddles closer to the warmth of his jacket. He wonders how the parties are in Seoul for Y2K.

Are they better than the parties here?

The song on track 1 skips. Jimin hits the top of the CD player to set it right without thought, too distracted by his anger and desolation.

Not that he’d care to know.

Skip. Skip.

Smack .

Seoul can burn in hell in the millenium.

Skip. Skip. Skip.

Jungkook can burn in hell, too.

Skipskipskipskip--

Jimin screams in frustration, ripping the headphones off his ears and pounding his fists on to the CD player with abandon. The top lid cracks, the buttons fly off as he thrashes away at it. Pieces come off, and soon he’s picked it up and is slamming it repeatedly into the chilled sand with animalistic cries and grunts. Without thinking, he gathers the broken machine -- and the headphones, too -- and chucks them as far as he can in to the black, inky waters of the night sea.

He pants, trying to catch his breath. Horrified at what he’d just done.

The watch on his wrist beeps at him in excited celebration. Midnight.

The world keeps turning. It doesn’t end, even if Jimin’s has.

***

“Jimin, when you’re done with your break, can you move those pots outside of the shop to in here? I don’t want them to wither in the humidity.”

Jimin closes his eyes and he takes a long, slow drag of his cigarette. He pulls it out from between his teeth and shields his eyes from the overbearing sun as he leans around to the opening of the old flower shop, smoothing his apron down and hiding the cigarette from his aging boss.

“Yes!” he calls to her.

“Hurry, please! It looks like it might rain any minute,” she calls desperately from all the way in to the back of the shop, and Jimin sighs through his nose.

Yeeeees ,” he calls again, and takes another last, quick drag before throwing the cigarette on to the ground and stomping on it hurriedly. He picks up the evidence of his deed and throws it in the garbage bag set out by the store next door.

He wipes his hands clean from the sweat that has pooled in his calluses on his soil-covered apron.

Jimin sets to task, hoisting up the large plants in their pots the size of his stomach, and hauling them in to the cool air of the store by waddling hurriedly.

The summer has been one of the worst yet, Jimin thinks to himself, and it’s only just begun. He sighs after the second pot is in, and wipes the perspire from his forehead with the back of his forearm. If he stops now, he’ll never get them all in. He takes a quick swig of water from his bottle at the cash register and resumes the hard labor, mentally complaining all the way there and back with each pot that he’s not cut out for this type of work. He works in a flower shop, not a construction yard. He barely even fills out his apron. What is his boss thinking?

He sets down the second to last pot and flexes his sore hand, rubbing at the scar tissue on his palms. He winces and hisses in pain, but rubs the soreness out. As he does so, he catches a glimpse of the daily newspaper his boss had left at the counter to read while she had her morning coffee.

June 21st, 2004.

God, June already? Where had the time gone? Jimin wasn’t ready for the summer heat to start. He needed to pack up and move somewhere that didn’t have boiling heat waves like Busan boasts. Even the ocean was too hot to enjoy for a quick cool-off now. His apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, and the work his old boss has him doing is dog’s work.

He reads further down the newspaper as he rubs his hands more, procrastinating on the last pot in front of the industrial air conditioner his boss invested in much to Jimin’s delight.

“New high-speed train connecting Seoul to Busan for travel faster than ever thought possible has been functioning to near perfection with only very few performance hiccups,” Jimin reads under his breath, scanning the words with disinterest. “It is expected that new lines will open in the coming years as construction as already commenced and blah blah blah nobody cares.”

He stalks out of the store and grabs the last pot to his chest, counting to three and hoisting it up with a grunt to waddle back inside with. He attempts to pry the storefront door open with his foot to no success, cursing the wooden door stop that never seems to work when he needs it most.

“Come on, piece of shit,” he says under his breath.

He’s just about to throw the pot down and say fuck it, let this plant be a casualty to the summer showers, when suddenly the door swings open from someone behind him trying to enter the store. He tries to mutter a quick thank you when he’s interrupted by a deep, soft voice from up above him.

“Excuse me,” it says. And it sounds nervous. And quiet. “Can you tell me where to find the lilacs? They’re someone very important to me’s favorite.”

Jimin shifts the pot in his grip in annoyance; can’t this guy see he’s got his hands full? A Seoul accent? He doesn’t have the time nor patience for tourists when there’s so much work to be done getting ready for the forty days and forty nights of biblical flooding about to rain down on them all.

He turns to nod in the direction of the greenhouse where he personally had cultivated all the lilacs that grew there. “Yes, of course. If you walk around the side of the building to the greenh--”

Smash .

The pot slips out of a frozen Jimin’s hands, and he makes no effort to try to catch it before it hits the stone below where he stands and splits in two, sending soil and damp mulch leaking out onto his feet.

The confronting words die in his throat, and he stares wide-eyed and slack jawed up at a man with wild, fluffy summer hair, tan skin, and nervous eyes. He can hear his boss calling to him from the back of the shop to hurry, the rain is coming.

The rain is coming. Every summer, the rains come. They came before Jimin was even here, and they came every year as Jimin wasted his youth up on the roof of a nameless, unimportant school, soaking up the last summer rays sometimes alone, sometimes not. And, they will continue to come, long after Jimin is gone and he’s forgotten, and they will come whether you are ready or not, and they will wash away the old, and usher in the new.

The rains cleanse the heart , his mother would say. With them, they bring second chances.

A big, fat drop of water lands right on the tip of Jimin’s nose, and he flinches, bringing his hand up to his face and looking at it, astonished. The man across from him chuckles, low and coarse.

Jimin stares up at Jungkook where the rain is now painting his hair, face, and clothes with wet spots. The taller man doesn’t make a move for shelter, only stands there as the thunder tolls over both their heads. He smiles, softly. Unsure.

Waiting.

The sky above them opens up, and it begins to pour.


END