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“you don’t want to go back?”

yoongi’s voice is monotonous as usual, only the slightest hint of curiosity around his drawl. he’s fresh out of the shower and mostly naked and hasn’t slept, which means jungkook hasn’t, either. jungkook had waited, and tried not to think about it too much, and thought about it a lot; had kept himself up, up, high-strung and floating until yoongi got back, dirty, reeking.

he’s pulling on new clothes, seated on the bed, and jungkook refuses to look. he frowns at the dart stuck in the wall for a beat too long, glares down at his hand in offense, grabs another one.

“there’s nothing for me there,” his muscles ache pleasantly when he pulls his arm back, throws the dart with unnecessary force, the sharpest eyes boring into his back. “never was.”

jungkook is young and on the run and doesn’t want to go back. not to that place, or that time, or that life. he purses his lips at the darts in the wall. the first one he vaguely remembers having been to already, the second one he refuses to acknowledge, the third one will have to do.

“geumsan,” he reads off the map. he hears yoongi unzip the bag, start throwing the contents of the nightstand in. gray beginnings of daylight are creeping in between the mud-brown curtains. he wants to sleep during the drive.

he moves about methodically; collects the trash and leftovers, dumps it all into a plastic bag. he plucks the papers and darts off the wall, snaps the one that had dug into busan in half out of spite; decides to toss the map, too, for good measure, in case it brings bad luck. morbidly, he keeps the pictures he had collected; they resemble him, just not quite— a bit younger, a bit brighter, same eyes.

he puts them in yoongi’s bag, too. yoongi doesn’t try to talk.

they burn their traces, hands brushing, and jungkook’s tingles from the heat.

they’re gone like this: shadows between the run-down buildings and forgotten streets, all of their existence in shabby cars, squeezed in tight. sometimes jungkook knows where they’re going, and sometimes he doesn’t want to. sometimes he almost reaches for yoongi’s thigh, and sometimes he pretends not to want to. it’s all a blur, all the same, it doesn’t matter. yoongi’s always next to him.

it’s only a week in geumsan, it doesn’t feel right, and then yoongi rolls a dice. taps one, two, three, four over the new foldable map. his hands are big, veiny; his joints jut out. jungkook doesn’t care where they go, will simply follow those long fingers; loose on the steering wheel, tight and restrained on his pulse point. he remembers holding those hands, long ago, leaning into them after nightmares— but he wants them to do different things, nowadays.

yoongi gets them an apartment after a second night in the car, and jungkook never complains, but appreciates the bed and shower. always likes their longer stays, because then it’s not in a motel, with less people around. he doesn’t decorate, but unpacks the little he has; spreads the prints out on the dresser, the newest one from geumsan, next to yoongi’s new map. buys new clothes the next day, memorizes the streets for the next few months. it’s never more than months anymore, nowadays.

jungkook finds himself a night shift in a convenience store this time. they don’t need the extra money, but jungkook needs a distraction. yoongi suggested going to college for the fun of it, still sometimes asks about it; he would get him in, he would pay, he would take him anywhere he wants. jungkook knows that. but there’s no real merit to it, and jungkook doesn’t care for much besides yoongi, their messy motel rooms and cigarette smoke, waiting for the light of dawn; doesn’t have much interest in anything beyond killing time. people— they’re all the same to him, same faces, he’s seen them too many times. walk past him, brush his shoulder, go about their day, disappear from sight, from jungkook’s life. it never ends well.

jungkook can’t settle, and yoongi can’t disagree.

jungkook doesn’t like working during the day. night shifts are convenient, because nobody ever notices anything. nobody acknowledges him during those late, early hours, or cares to talk, or wonders about his empty eyes. they all look vaguely the same at night, tired, in a hurry. jungkook is always tired.

yoongi doesn’t sleep at night, so jungkook doesn’t, either.

it’s the golden thread running through their eleven years so far, their mess of a life: yoongi provides for jungkook, and jungkook doesn’t ask how. it’s self-imposed, even; yoongi never forbids anything, and yoongi doesn’t lie— he would tell him. has told him that it’s necessary, that it’s for the both of them. jungkook understands; understands yoongi is protecting them, however he can. but yoongi comes back different, tainted; looks a bit emptier than before, smells of always different people, different substances. very early on, it settled low and heavy in jungkook’s gut: he doesn’t want to ask.

jungkook works night shifts to not think about what yoongi’s doing with whom, and thinks about what yoongi’s doing with whom, and doesn’t know what to use the money for.

yoongi had sent him to school continuously when he was younger; a new one every year, at every stop, but yoongi had insisted either way. jungkook had tried to memorize names, faces, connections at first— before he understood it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t him. he answered to what wasn’t his name, and recited not his parents off a paper, and wasn’t able to keep any friends. yoongi was his uncle, later a cousin, waited for him after class and took him by the hand. lead him, lead him, away from the questions, calming with his own answers.

jungkook didn’t care for it, but he wanted to be good. yoongi told him to play along, to act like the others, so jungkook learned. he was good.

at his middle school entrance ceremony, every child was with their parents; jungkook was with his older brother yoongi. jungkook had felt the difference then, again, more than ever: the expectation, and his reality. yoongi had held his hand in a corner of the crowded hall, stiffly, mechanically ruffled his hair.

“do you miss them?”

jungkook was staring at another boy excitedly jumping around his mother some feet away, until the boy tripped.

“i don’t. i miss—” the mother helped her son up, carefully inspecting his knees. jungkook tilted his head, “what they could have been.” he shrugged. “but it’s too late now.”

he remembers yoongi sounding too blunt, but genuinely curious, watching the same scene. “how can you miss something that never was?”

yoongi’s never missed the many things that never were. jungkook frowned at the father hurrying over, chewing the inside of his cheek.

“i guess i can’t.”

he stopped looking at others, then.

between sleeping in cars or wasting the afternoons away behind a console, jungkook doesn’t have any friends. he sees all the people on the street, faceless, blurry, the homeless, the poor, missing person posters on dirty brick walls, in his bag. there’s no point in having friends. keeping people.

sometimes, when they have a proper apartment, and jungkook gets bored enough, he does entertain brief acquaintances. not too many, not too close. in school, bonding over games and anime was easy enough. in college, when he decides to go and do the bare minimum, lazing around some campus lounge, it’s still easy enough.

“you live alone? awesome.”

the voice is– a normal voice, young, male, a guy who’d complimented jungkook on his choice of manga. an average face, jungkook’s seen it hundreds of times, studied it in black and white prints. he could be anyone; jungkook could be him. he’s foreign in their space.

“i’m not alone. there’s yoongi-hyung.”

“right, your– brother? he isn’t there, huh?”

“yeah. my brother.”

something tingles beneath jungkook’s skin, crawling up his body. yoongi’s always there. he just doesn’t show himself right away.

jungkook blinks awake to yoongi tugging him up off the floor, bags ready, shushing his confused muttering.

“is he gone?”

“he left earlier. come on.”

he never gets to see any of his not-friends again— he used to feel a certain way about that, but nowadays, he can’t bring himself to care.

there’s a lot of routine, many habits built over the years, that connect them; unspoken things that were established or have naturally come to be, subtly winding around them— a string, red, around their fingers and rib cages and throats, tying them to each other.

they leave their places when it’s still mostly dark, something not decided on and announced, but felt in the air between them when it is time. they room together, and sleep together, and don’t leave each other’s side, safety in each other’s company. they go wherever coincidence leads them, not caring about where it is, as long as it’s just them. jungkook didn’t take long to fall into step, impressionable and accepting as a kid— still accepting and willing as a young adult.

that’s the big picture, but it’s true for the subtle things, too.

it’s in how yoongi gets dressed, attractive and dangerous in blacks and leather, to leave for the night around midnight. in how jungkook is still staring at his flighty shadow long after yoongi’s gone— worried, maybe; jealous, a little. how when yoongi returns, jungkook is still awake, waiting, welcoming him back. yoongi always looks different, smells of different people, when he comes in the early morning hours, just before dawn. jungkook wants to, but doesn’t say anything anymore, nowadays, only waits for yoongi to shower and put on new clothes, to crawl into bed and let jungkook nudge his foot with his own.

even if jungkook wanted to break free, he wouldn’t know how to untangle himself from yoongi’s being.

by high school, jungkook had become bold and fed up; he was irritable, not understanding. he didn’t want yoongi to go, to risk it, didn’t want him near them.

yoongi was all jungkook needed, so why wasn’t jungkook all yoongi needed in return? he had waited and tried and been good, he had grown, grown older, but yoongi will always be older than him, always ahead, jungkook can’t catch up.

it slipped out because jungkook was tired and selfish and had never tried it the obvious way before: “don’t go.”

it made yoongi glance at him, pouting on the bed, as he was putting on his jacket, smoothing down his shirt. yoongi looked good; messy black hair, black on black, intense eyes on jungkook through his bangs. yoongi’s always looked good, out of this world.

he continued to pull on his boots, no hesitance is his movements, only routine. “i’ll be back soon.”

jungkook had never demanded anything of yoongi; had never deemed it necessary. yoongi had always given him everything, except—


just tell me what you want.

“i said: don’t go.”

it didn’t sound confident, because jungkook wasn’t, then. he was seventeen and greedy for something he had no idea about, only knew he shouldn’t want. yoongi paused, though, eyebrows raised in surprise, lips curled in amusement. “oh? are you ready to give me commands now?”

“i– no, you said—” yoongi wasn’t taking him seriously, and jungkook was old enough to realize that much. “you told me to tell you what i want.”

yoongi straightened, regarding jungkook. then he strode over to the bed, slowly, in every way a hunter like this, jungkook the prey. “i never actually said i would do everything you told me to, did i?”

just tell me what you want, whatever it is. i will consider it. but you have to say it.

technically, that was true, jungkook knew, but in reality, effectively, “but– you never—”

“i’ve never said no to you before, hm?” yoongi loomed over jungkook then, at the edge of the bed; older, wiser, more powerful. not because he could’ve ripped jungkook’s heart out, but because jungkook would’ve let him. let him. his voice was deep, seeping into jungkook; in, in, deeper in, “maybe i should have? should have taught you obedience?”

jungkook was young and greedy and wanted to be good for yoongi. he was all he knew, and all he could see.

“so teach me, make me be good. stay with me.”

yoongi ran a hand up jungkook’s neck then, up to his throat, and jungkook bared it to him, trembling. yoongi was a paradox of scary and alluring, blunt and gentle, fondness in his carnivore eyes. he held jungkook, stroking over the chaotic pulse, the yearning in his veins, voice soothing, soothing, “you’ve grown, but i still can’t stay. and you still can’t follow.”

“why not?” frustration and want and youth slipped from him, petulant. obvious.

yoongi was nothing if not patient, knowing. an enigma to jungkook.

“because you don’t say what you mean.” jungkook wanted to protest, but yoongi was sliding his hands, his pretty, dangerous hands up his jaw, to his cheek, cupping his face, lulling him in. “you’re still young, jungkook,” and jungkook felt his eyes close, all the fight leave his body, “too young, and too good.”

yoongi kissed him then, for the first time, lips gentle on his forehead— barely there, but a mark, forever.

in another place, in the heat of another summer, jungkook spends his money on video games and manga, wasting away in their room because there’s nothing else to do. the owner of the motel looks at him funny, and he plucked two missing person posters off the back entrace wall, and so he doesn’t want to go out; doesn’t want to be here anymore. he didn’t get a night shift, either, but won’t sleep at night anyway. so he’s stuck in the room, awake by himself, reading, watching, playing, not thinking, but always thinking. dreading. he knows what yoongi’s doing, right now, with someone, what yoongi is— doesn’t really know, but knows, somewhere inside of him. knows it is maybe repulsive to some, knows it is wrong. yoongi says it is necessary.

he has no idea what to do; about yoongi, or what yoongi does, or what he feels about it. about how much busier yoongi gets the more crowded the city is. about the anger and adrenaline that clog up his throat when he looks at the people on the street, in the back alleys, the pretty women and handsome men and yoongi among them. his skin prickles, his fingers itch, and he wants— he wants, he wants, he wants, too. there’s a spark in his gut and a dull ache in his chest and it’s growing bigger, bigger, it’ll tear him apart.

jungkook is maybe repulsive to some, too. he knows that, somewhere inside of him.

sometimes, he wonders if yoongi feels the same. if yoongi feels the rope tight around their necks, ready to have both hang if one of them takes the wrong step.

one time, they maybe almost died. jungkook maybe almost killed them. maybe yoongi almost did.

yoongi taught jungkook how to drive when jungkook was eighteen.

they were driving around the middle of nowhere, middle of everywhere, again; trunk filled with everything they owned and cared to take with them, back seats holding food and water and blankets for chilly nights. the rain and heat of summer had passed, leaving the outskirts dry and pleasant for them. in spring and fall they would sometimes stay out; outside of inhabited towns and cities, outside of noisy crowds; outside of society’s hold on them. jungkook loved spring and fall a lot.

maybe it was a weekend, or maybe it was a day he hadn’t felt like going to school. had felt it time to leave.

“hyung, teach me how to drive.”

yoongi had been drumming along to the cheesy pop song blaring from the radio station jungkook had put on, not paying attention. jungkook’s eyes had been glued to the road for an eternity, unmoving in the passenger seat.

“you’re too young,” came the immediate answer, voice apathetic.

“am not.”

yoongi quirked one corner of his mouth at that, both well aware of his childishness. both aware it didn’t matter.

“why do you need to drive?”

“what if you’re not there?”

there was something like hesitancy to jungkook’s challenging voice, daring to insinuate something they didn’t usually talk about.

yoongi only snorted, “why, where would i be?” equal parts exasperated and endeared, always willing to indulge jungkook although he already knew the answer— jungkook needing to pose the question although he already knew the answer.

“maybe you’re not there. what do i do, then?”

“i don’t know, what would you do?”

“drive on my own?”

yoongi let his mouth stretch, amused. there wasn’t any more sense to this conversation than any other they could’ve held, any other they’ve ever held. it wasn’t ever about the words.

yoongi shrugged one shoulder easily, hadn’t meant to deny the request in the first place. “fine.”

so yoongi had taken them further out, further and further, until jungkook couldn’t see the way back, couldn’t see anything but their rusty car and yoongi beside him. then yoongi had let jungkook behind the wheel, had instructed him; jungkook had followed, as usual.

it’s not that jungkook followed yoongi blindly or only out of habit— it’s that jungkook knew yoongi knew best, knew yoongi had the answers. knew yoongi would be with him, through bad and worse.

yoongi told him to go straight, so jungkook obeyed.

he followed the road, from asphalt to dirt, through mud, onto stones and over grass; ignored the crossroads and every right turn; further, further, calmly, until he couldn’t see anything else. until he could see the cliff, and he kept going straight.

jungkook didn’t tear his eyes off the road, yoongi’s on him.

yoongi snaked a hand up to jungkook’s neck, slowly, gently. jungkook remembers the touch as fond. yoongi stroked his neck, pressed his fingers to jungkook’s pulse, calm, too calm.

yoongi’s voice was low, a murmur, almost lost in the roar of the engine, “sunshine, do you want to turn around?”

“you told me to keep going straight ahead,” jungkook stated simply.

“what if you die straight ahead?”

jungkook shrugged, tilted his head, not paying attention to the rocks, bumps, uneven ground beneath them, shaking their metal cage. “i might.”

“you don’t care about dying?” there was such cruel amusement in yoongi’s voice, it made jungkook’s insides twist pleasantly.

“you’ll still be with me then.”

it’s the one thing jungkook has always known, had committed to memory and taken to heart; there it had taken root, had grown and spread and filled him in.

there was nothing around them, nothing but death, and jungkook drove, drove them towards the cliff. yoongi’s hand was firm and warm on his nape, gaze boring into him.

yoongi let them drive, closer and closer. took his time, too much time, until he chuckled.

“i will be,” he squeezed jungkook’s neck, calmly, finally relenting. “stop the car.”

jungkook hit the brakes immediately, as told, suddenly unmoving tires dragging over the ground noisily, enveloping them in dirt and dust. they slid closer and closer, until they came to a screeching halt. jungkook wasn’t scared. jungkook could only see the abyss.

yoongi pulled him in by the back of his head, fingers tangling in his hair, to touch their foreheads together. they breathed like that, breathed each other, calmly. yoongi patted jungkook’s head, gently, maybe almost lovingly.

jungkook remembers the sudden pounding of his heart, the tremble in his fingers on the leather seat.

yoongi had looked him in the eyes so deeply, deeper, deeper still— maybe fondly, maybe almost lovingly. had stroked his hair, his cheek, his throat. had spoken so gently, then, into the silence.

“you did well.”

jungkook remembers the urge to taste him, take the sweet words out of his mouth. remembers the quirk of his lips, the pink of his tongue when he wet them.

“teach me more, hyung.”

yoongi had chuckled, laughed, showed his gums; ruffled jungkook’s hair, made them switch seats, taken them back to somewhere, nowhere, another temporary place. jungkook remembers the itch beneath his skin, the fire in his gut.

“i will.”

getting along with peers isn’t hard; jungkook knows the common topics, the rules of small talk. he offers games and tv and fast food, and that’s already good enough. enough to keep it up until they disappear.

one calm fall, he tries going out with them. a mixed group of seven, he is number eight, in a stuffy bar and then a club. the alcohol and smoke he knows; the bodies pressing close to him remind him of forgotten nightmares. he struggles, first, to keep his cool; drinks, then, to suppress it all. he wants to be good, he tries hard to be. there are people that try to dance with him, too close, touching him. he tries not to, but he thinks of yoongi. it always ends with yoongi.

he leaves them around four, insists he has to; chokes out a promise to see them again soon, expectant eyes forcing his mouth. then he all but stumbles back to his place, to safety, breathless and disoriented. there’s something fierce pounding against his ribs, itching at the tips of fingers.

“you had fun?” yoongi asks, low, something foreign slipping into his voice. he’s there— fully dressed in the armchair, stretching sleep from his limbs, shirt riding up to expose pale, perfect skin. jungkook can’t answer, not attentive enough, thoughts somewhere else.

his thoughts are always with yoongi. always somewhere else.

yoongi leaves, then, something terrible curling the corners of his mouth. jungkook only meant to play along, once. he meant to be good.

they slip out of the house when yoongi is back and smelling of strawberry shampoo, bags slung over their shoulders.

he didn’t mean to keep his promise.

the end of high school had jungkook feeling free— freer, in a way. away from the constraints of classrooms, society, expectations and rules. jungkook had always preferred the simplicity he had with yoongi, the lack of judgement and play-pretend.

yoongi had brought him alcohol, and firecrackers, and taken him out to nowhere in a beat-up rusty truck. jungkook had told him he’d prefer it over any senseless party with a too big faceless crowd.

so jungkook had drank, and smoked, and gotten dizzy and euphoric from that night out with just the two of them, huddled close under a blanket. had lost control of what he was supposed to say and do.

“i want you,” he breathed into yoongi’s neck, leaning on him, hand on his thigh.

yoongi chuckled lightly, shoving his face away. “you want me?

jungkook struggled against yoongi’s playful shove, insistently sneaking his hand further up yoongi’s thigh. “your—” his thoughts came slowly, but he still remembered. to tell yoongi what he wanted. “body.”

jungkook could feel yoongi’s amusement in the trembling of his shoulders, the hitching of his breath. why wasn’t yoongi taking him seriously? wasn’t he older now than he was the last time– when will he be old enough, good enough, enough, when—

“just my body? not me?”

no, yes, you, it’s the same, it’s all you. isn’t it all you?

“, too?”

yoongi firmly held him by the jaw, firmly but gently, and pulled him from the crook of his neck. his eyes were dark, deep, sparkling a little. his hands were warm.

“i told you not to tell lies.”

be honest with me. you can say whatever you want, but you have to mean it.

jungkook furrowed his brows, grabbed at yoongi’s wrists to tug him off, but he wouldn’t let go, why wouldn’t he let go, “no, it’s not—”

yoongi shushed him with a hand to his lips, firmly, not unkindly, but there was a sharpness in his voice that jungkook didn’t know then, didn’t understand. “you don’t know what that means yet. i will answer you when you do.”

but i—

and then yoongi leant in close, closer, touched his forehead to jungkook’s own, nudged jungkook’s nose with his. jungkook went still, too much energy and need in his body, but too attentive to what this could mean. he tried so hard to understand what it could mean.

“you want to be good,” yoongi murmured against his own hand on jungkook’s mouth, noses touching, foreheads touching. jungkook let his eyes flutter closed.

yoongi pressed a kiss to jungkook’s mouth, on the back of his hand; a first, but not really, he cheated. jungkook pressed a kiss back, into yoongi’s palm. yoongi only chuckled, knowingly.

“you’re still too good.”

it’s another town, another winter, they had flipped a coin.

“back then,” jungkook doesn’t know why he starts, but he does, impulsively. he sits up to draw his knees up to his chest.

they’re both awake in the darkness of their room— always just one room, always theirs— and jungkook’s voice is the first thing to disturb the silence in hours. the first time in years he bothers to address the topic, not keen on childhood stories otherwise.

“what if i hadn’t…” jungkook’s throat is dry. it doesn’t bother him, per se, not really; just that recently there’s been a feeling somewhere in his stomach, a heavy tug, something spreading, taking root. “if they hadn’t—”

“died because of you?”

yoongi says it without judgement, completes his train of thought with ease; leaves out the ugly bits. his tone is light, conversational— as if he’s been ready for this since the day they met. he probably has.

jungkook thinks of the lady at the reception, the wary look she had given him when he’d trailed in after yoongi, in a love motel, this time. he had hid behind his bangs, his drawn up hood, made himself small. he’s been feeling— wrong, lately, and guilty, and at fault. for what, he isn’t sure. breathing, existing, carrying disease from town to town. it’s like he’s damned, cursed, a devil’s child. he brings bad luck, it’s him, he knows.

yoongi turns towards jungkook on the bed— always one bed, always theirs— propping himself up on his elbow, his head on his hand. it’s easy for him, because he knows the answers. jungkook only knows doubt.

“you would be in their stead.”

jungkook turns to meet yoongi’s gaze, and it’s heavy, he drops it. stares down at the floor, and all the way through it. in their stead. jungkook knows where that is.

“they are where they’re supposed to be, but you—” yoongi makes the effort to sit up, too, kneel in front of jungkook. he can’t really see anything else.

yoongi regards him carefully, from head to toe, eyes glinting in the dark— jungkook wonders what he sees. between eight and twenty-two, did jungkook grow worthy of him?

yoongi leans over, snakes a hand up to lightly hold jungkook’s chin. “do you regret it? calling for me,” his thumb lightly traces his jaw, runs along his bottom lip, makes him shiver all over, “me saving you?”

jungkook thinks about it briefly; the lonely nights and silent days, the crappy rooms and dirty covers, hours and hours stuck in a car, freezing outside. never settling, never staying, all of the hurt, always on the run. he thinks of yoongi’s hands; on his neck, his shoulder, patting his hair; yoongi’s smell, his own, in the sheets and discarded clothes. yoongi, always next to him.

jungkook also remembers the before, his other life— the end of it. remembers the noise and the pain and the wreckage. remembers the blood, all of the blood, remembers calling out for help, calling, praying— and then yoongi, looming over them. yoongi extending his hand. jungkook’s small bloody one grasping it tightly.

he won’t ever let go.

“i don’t,” jungkook’s breath shakes against yoongi’s thumb; against yoongi.

yoongi kisses him on the mouth this time, for the first time, in earnest, and it’s everything holy and ungodly then, otherworldly on jungkook’s lips. it’s a mark, it’s forever. yoongi breathes into him, seeps into him, he won’t ever let go.


cheonan, pyeongtaek, yongin, icheon, yeoju. jungkook reads the last five names off the map; they’re marked, he didn’t burn it. he doesn’t bother to memorize where they’ve already been, where they haven’t, what the last city was. two days ago, jungkook hadn’t wanted to go to seoul, and yoongi had complied; now they’re moving east. there’s nothing special awaiting them there, so jungkook is impatient for it.

yoongi kissed him seven towns ago, but still doesn’t stay the night. jungkook should’ve known, but jungkook is restless and nervous and greedy. he wants things for himself.

he wants, so bad.

it’s not that he couldn’t have done anything with peers at school. it’s not that he’s doing anything with yoongi at all. in this town, yoongi is just a friend. he’s never anything more than a friend.

jungkook can’t help the craving in the pit of his stomach, the heat beneath his skin. there’s an urge in his gut that is tearing him apart.

yoongi’s always given him everything. except this one thing.

so he drinks, and he dances, and he does what he’s observed everyone else do. he fits in, he plays along, he pretends.

girls are soft and pretty and smell good, so good; he wants to hold them tight, wants to feel their flesh, he wants— something more. more than that, sharper features, edges and hardness. boys are firm, can grip him tight, can push him back. he’s so hungry, he wants, he wants, he wants— something else, they struggle against him. it's not what jungkook wants. it’s not good enough.

it doesn’t fill him up. he’s lying on the floor in their room and their ceiling is cracking at parts and nothing fills him up. there’s something wrong, there's something missing. he’s never been human enough.

“i told you not to get too close to people.”

he doesn’t know how yoongi knows; how much yoongi knows. whether yoongi knows that he could only think of him. would rather forget, not think at all. he’s tired, he’s all over the place, he feels wrong.

“is that a rule?” it comes out harsh and cold, pent up anger from years, years of this uncertainty.

“advice,” yoongi never lets it affect him, and that only upsets jungkook more. he’s running and running and bleeding, he can’t breathe, it hurts— and yoongi’s sitting there, watching, seeing something jungkook can’t grasp.

“do you know what you did to them?”

jungkook gets up off the floor in one quick movement, levels yoongi with a sharp glare. he’s never rebelled against yoongi. had never felt the need to. yoongi’s always given him everything, except—

what i— i can do whatever i want,” jungkook all but spits out, tense and frustrated and emotional; too human for yoongi, not human enough for anyone else. there’s something clawing its way up his throat.

yoongi gets up, ready to head out, not disturbed in the slightest. not fazed at all. “what you want will become a problem like this.”

jungkook all but roars, indignant, feeling talked down to, again, again, as always, “what’s that supposed to mean?”

he’s over at the door in three quick strides, pushes against it with his hand. he’s physically taller than yoongi now. “i can fuck whoever i want to.” maybe stronger, with brute force. “and what about you?”

yoongi halts in front of the door, now blocked by jungkook. he licks his lips, eyes dark, piercing. “oh, you can certainly fuck them.”

“then what’s the big deal? are you jealous?”

jungkook knows, the moment he says it, that it’s not the case. knows how foolish it sounds, how naive. it’s not about sex, and yoongi doesn't have any reason to be jealous. and yet, yet— yoongi looks at him in a way that has shivers running down his spine, maybe angry, maybe hungry. jungkook needs to know what it is.

yoongi’s voice is still controlled, but gravelly, low.

“do you want me to be?”

jungkook breathes deep through his mouth, electricity in all of his nerves. he’s never had yoongi backed up like this. never tried to push him this far. he takes a step closer, and yoongi has to look up. “tell me what you want. from me.”

yoongi shuts his gorgeous devious mouth, not willing to play, and jungkook barely manages not to press his own to it, open it back up. he speaks demanding and firm, this time. it’s the first time.

“tell me. do you want me?”

yoongi’s never said what he wants; jungkook’s never asked. never known what to do with the inevitable answer.

yoongi regards him carefully now, considering; then his lips stretch, slowly, surely, into a wide smile. it’s feral, he’s baring his teeth, his eyes go all black. jungkook thinks, briefly, he made a mistake— he’ll lose his life. feels, much stronger: finally. shivers, shivers, shivers all over as yoongi growls, hand flying up to his throat,

“i want all of you, darling. but do you know what that means?”

jungkook is looking down, but it doesn’t feel like it, he’s not the hunter here. he’s the prey. he’s the prey and he’s pushing, pulling, he’s always needed this one thing, pulse beating frantically under yoongi’s touch. he’s always known, somewhere inside of him.

“i do. i want you.”

yoongi grins, knowing; hungry, starving, jungkook lets him loose.

yoongi’s always given jungkook what he wanted, except for this one thing. when jungkook is twenty-two and more honest, yoongi gives him pleasure, too.

gives what jungkook asks for, bites and scratches and soothes, whispers, baby, it’s okay, i got you.

shhh, i got you, i got you. you can let go, come on—

he wakes, and yoongi’s gone, and so jungkook lies awake in bed for a long time, thinking. it was what he’d wanted, but maybe it wasn’t it.

yoongi hadn’t given himself to him.

“what happens after you die?”

they’re next to each other in the back of their truck, miles out in the nothingness, a warm night and stars above them. jungkook tries to trace some constellations with his fingers, but yoongi finds more.

“after you die, or after they died?”

yoongi knows what jungkook means even if jungkook won’t say it. he’s always known. sometimes, he just waits for jungkook to be brave enough.

jungkook props himself up on his elbows, “back then—” turns to look at yoongi by his side. fourteen years ago, is what he means, but knows he doesn’t have to specify.

yoongi’s got his arms folded behind his head, otherworldly, gorgeous in the moonlight. but also shameless and distracting, still shirtless from when jungkook had tugged the clothing off of him, persistent, hands everywhere, until yoongi had pinned them to the floor, had made jungkook go pliant and pleading. the blanket is uncomfortably damp beneath his skin.

“did they suffer? when you—” jungkook waves a hand around vaguely, eyes wandering down yoongi’s chest, skin pristine, misleading. he’d wanted to leave a mark, but hadn’t.

did,” yoongi echoes, stretches his limbs, back arching. “that’s assuming they aren’t, presently.” he pointedly turns his head towards jungkook, cocks his eyebrow when he catches him staring.

jungkook licks his lips, swallows; watches yoongi’s sharp eyes trace every detail, the movement of his throat. “...are they?”

yoongi grins, lazily, and jungkook can see his eyes darken, darken, they go all black.

“do you want them to be?”

jungkook grins back, still so greedy, but not too shy to ask for things anymore. he lets himself be honest, sways towards yoongi, “that too,” leans in to fit their mouths together before yoongi can do it. they kiss in all the wrong ways, all the bad ways, and when jungkook tries again, gets above yoongi this time, he’s all he can see.

yoongi’s everywhere, everything jungkook can ever see.

yoongi gives, and gives, until jungkook can’t take it. light touches, then firm, bruising, mouth hot on jungkook’s skin. yoongi gives him almost everything, anything between pain and pleasure. it’s what he wants; almost; maybe it isn’t.

yoongi is still there in the morning, sleeps in with jungkook; a bit longer than usual, closer than usual, and the next day, too, and the next. he doesn’t talk, and jungkook doesn’t know what to say. he reaches for yoongi’s hand under the covers once, hesitantly, then again and again.

jungkook tries to sleep at night, tries to change his ways. he doesn’t choose a convenience store this time, but book shops attract attentive, imaginative people. jungkook settles for a music store; finds out that yoongi likes them.

yoongi doesn’t have many preferences to begin with. one is jungkook, another is jungkook’s selection of sports anime. yoongi looked the least bored at basketball— he cracked a genuine smile, too, the other day.

another is what he does at night: a craving for everything dark and terrible in the shadows of alleyways; the ugly beauty between humanity and beyond it.

but music stores, jungkook finds, bring them a little bit of peace.

yoongi visits him, once, twice, every now and then; stands hunched by the counter, scaring the kids, and watches him work: sort through new arrivals, bring the shelves in order, dust off the instruments. neither one of them have much in common with people, but instruments are another thing.

sometimes yoongi will sit in a corner and play the guitar. jungkook doesn’t know how yoongi knows how to play it, but it doesn’t matter. he watches, listens, almost drifts off; doesn’t think about missing parents and missing siblings and being on the run, for once. sometimes, yoongi will sit at one of the booths with the fancy headphones, and go through record after record, of oldies and indie rock and 90s western rap. jungkook watches, and watches, and feels— a bit calmer, somehow; fuller, maybe.

yoongi always gives jungkook what he wants; yoongi doesn’t take. jungkook knows there’s a difference.

it’s a usual night, in a cozy small apartment, sometime at the beginning of a winter.

yoongi returns too early.

it’s only around three, and jungkook wakes from the noise, sits up in bed clumsily. he blinks at the muted tv he fell asleep to. yoongi stands in the doorway for too long, gaze far away, on the floor.

“won’t you ever ask me where i’ve been?”

jungkook shudders at his tone, different, colder; inhuman. yoongi is rarely warm, but never this cold. never this— empty.

“i don’t need to know,” jungkook mumbles, frowning. maybe means: i don’t need to hear it. he doesn’t, because it wouldn’t change anything between them, even if he knew. even if yoongi said it. maybe jungkook already does, and it’s okay. okay if neither one of them says it.

yoongi, inexplicably, looks broken.

he makes his way over to jungkook, dragging his feet, whole body in slow motion. his shoulders look heavy, hunched. the mattress dips low under his weight, and he’s still in his soiled clothes, dirtying the sheets.

jungkook swallows, hard, can barely find his voice. it’s okay like this, but— “do you want to tell me?”

yoongi lies down, tired, burdened by lifetimes. jungkook lies back down next to him, noses touching.

“no, i don’t want to tell you,” yoongi brings a hand up to jungkook’s chest, presses against it with intent. “i want you to know.”

he closes his eyes with a sigh, exhales all his strength with it. “i want you to admit that you know.”

jungkook shivers, suddenly frozen, in over his head. his own heartbeat is loud in his ears, yoongi’s touch searing. he carefully covers yoongi’s hand with his own, over his heart, lets yoongi burn another mark into it.

“what if i can’t, hyung,” he trembles.

“you will,” yoongi breathes back.

he tilts his head forward, curls his body towards jungkook until his forehead is pressing against jungkook’s chest instead, against his wildly pounding heart. it’s intimate, and vulnerable, and yoongi almost scares him, like this. the urge to touch scares him, this strong.

jungkook lets a hand snake up yoongi’s back, to his nape, tangle in his black messy hair. he holds his guardian close, closer, tries to contain all his ugly impulses. “does it hurt?”

yoongi looks like it hurts.

he presses a hot kiss against jungkook’s throat, breath sending shivers down jungkook’s spine again. “it does.”

jungkook can’t do anything but hold him, hold onto the only thing he’s certain of, hopes it grounds them both. keeps them both from stepping off the edge.

yoongi lets himself be held, this time, fingers tight in jungkook’s shirt.

when they wake up, the moment is over.

yoongi makes jungkook sing, plead, cry. he still won’t let jungkook do anything. won’t take what’s rightfully his. he gives, as jungkook wanted, and doesn’t ask for anything back. won’t say what he wants back.

he holds him, though, all throughout and afterwards, too; strokes his hair, kisses his nose, whispers, it’s okay, baby, we’ll get there. you’ll get there, you’re close.

maybe it isn’t.

it’s past another village, town, city, far out in an ugly motel. they had drawn lots for it.

the tiny room is stuffy, windows fogged behind the wine red curtains. it smells of alcohol and smoke and sweat. a bit of sex. jungkook doesn’t mind life like this.

yoongi’s lying on his side, drawing patterns onto jungkook’s skin with his fingers. sometimes he digs his nails in, leaves a light red trail. jungkook doesn’t mind an eternity like this.

it’s alright now, how it is. yoongi was out, and jungkook had kissed him goodbye, had kissed him hello, had tugged off his clothes and pulled him into bed, tainted. jungkook knows— has always known, that it is part of it. knows that yoongi has been waiting for jungkook to be brave.

“do you fuck them, at least? when you’re out.”

yoongi scrapes his nails down jungkook’s side, makes him whimper.

“i don’t.”

jungkook catches his gaze, yoongi watching him attentively. “you don’t do this to them, either?”

yoongi’s eyes glint dangerously, he takes the bait. “i don’t do this to anyone but you.” he digs his nails in, again, and jungkook moans in the back of his throat; starts to fidget when yoongi drawls into his ear. “you know what i do to them.”

“i don’t,” jungkook breathes out of habit, but everything in him catches fire at the thought, his want obvious between them. yoongi’s smiling, beaming, all terrible and wrong.

he cups jungkook’s jaw, turns his face towards himself. he runs a thumb along his brows, his nose, beneath his lashes. when jungkook looks up, yoongi’s all hunger and need. “your eyes betray you, my angel.”

jungkook can’t help but shift closer, biting down on his lip. he knows yoongi wants him to say it; jungkook prefers yoongi to do the dirty talk instead.

yoongi’s all over him, around him, against his body and in the air he breathes and flowing through his veins, voice the darkest chocolate, the deepest crimson between their mouths.

“you want me to say it, love?” yoongi’s drawing melodies from jungkook’s throat, tongue searing jungkook’s skin, hand deliberate between his legs. “how i make them believe every word i say,” and jungkook believes, “take everything from them,” jungkook knows, “how i make them cry?” jungkook is faithful under yoongi’s gaze.

“hyung,” he’s panting, arching up, pressing close. everything is yoongi, since the very beginning of him. it all starts with yoongi.

he exists to save him.

“or do you want me to do that to you?” his hand goes so slow, so maddening, he loves torturing jungkook. “you’re so pretty when you cry.”

he exists for his torture.

“i want you to.”

somewhere between pohang and gyeongju, their car breaks down. jungkook groans low in his throat, grimacing at the rain pouring down, drumming loud in their ears. yoongi grabs their stuff, leaves the car first with a nudge to jungkook’s shoulder.

they walk, along the road and patches of dirt, mostly in silence. jungkook’s huffing next to yoongi, trying not to step into puddles, and uselessly points out they had forgotten to get a new umbrella.

he steps into a puddle, swears under his breath.

“can we go abroad sometime?”

“on vacation?”

it’s hard to hear each other over the rain, so jungkook leans in close, sulking.

“leave the country. go somewhere sunny. i’ve never been to hawaii.”

jungkook’s just babbling, feeling pouty and bratty again like in high school, making yoongi flash him an endeared smile, shrugging one shoulder. “if you want to. wherever you wanna go.”

when a truck slows down next to him, jungkook almost doesn’t notice, noise all but drowned in the rain.

“hey, kid,” the driver yells through the downpour, leaning over to get a better look. “want a ride?”

jungkook squints up at the guy, takes in what he can see: middle aged, scruffy beard, a weak lopsided smile. he swipes his wet bangs out of his face, drenched through to his bones. he wants to just get out of the rain, but feels a certain shiver on his back. he turns to glance at yoongi, questioning, and yoongi returns his gaze, surprisingly sharp.

“thank you, but no need,” jungkook yells back. the guy’s eyes are caught somewhere behind jungkook’s shoulder for a moment, faltering. he blinks back at jungkook.

“you sure? it’s still quite a bit to—”

“i’m sure, thank you.” jungkook cuts him off, louder, gaze turning firm. yoongi’s fingers are pulling at his sleeve.

when they’re alone on the road again, jungkook sways into yoongi, bumping their shoulders together. he grins, easily, accustomed to this.

“i think you scared him, there.”

yoongi chuckles, bumping jungkook with his hip.

“wasn’t it you?”

jungkook loses balance and stumbles into a puddle, soaking his shoes. yoongi laughs brightly over his cursing.

“forgive me, father, for i have sinned.”

jungkook echoed the words easily, a weird taste in his mouth.

“i haven’t confessed in… eight years.”

jungkook couldn’t see the priest’s face, but the voice was gentle, kind. different from yoongi’s gentle, yoongi’s type of kind. jungkook wrung his hands in discomfort.

“what is your sin?”

yoongi was dozing off outside in their car, parked under one lonely tree, windows rolled down but no breeze having mercy on them that day, a hot summer during jungkook’s high school years. jungkook had left him to sleep, perpetually tired and restless, and wandered off by himself. there was nothing out there, where they were.

except the one crumbling church just beyond the hill.

“go on, son. you can speak freely here.”

it wasn’t that jungkook couldn’t speak freely normally— yoongi had never forbidden jungkook from saying anything, quite the opposite. yoongi was always listening, waiting, for jungkook to gather enough courage to say what he meant. he’s always been able to speak freely. but he’s never had the courage to.

he shivered, long repressed dread clawing at his spine.

“what if,” he licked his lips, mouth dry, voice refusing to make it out of his throat. “what if i know something bad?”

“something bad someone did?”

jungkook was furrowing his brows, fingers pressing into his thighs. the words weren’t quite right, but he didn’t know what to call it— not any one specific action, but an overall thing, a feeling. an ugly truth beneath his ribs.

“did you tell anyone?”

“i didn’t.”

“why not? are you close to them?”

jungkook thought of tiny motel rooms, messy and old, but comfortable; dirt and blood and tears; yoongi and him.

“i am.”

“do you want to protect them, although you know what they did was wrong?”

jungkook closed his eyes, feeling nervous and misplaced in those walls. he hadn’t dared to look at the saints, or the brightly colored stained glass.

“what if i’m wrong?”

his voice was weak, thin as a hair. maybe he was scared. had been scared for a while. not of something happening to him, not of yoongi, not really, but—

“wrong about what you saw? you can—”

no. no, jungkook thought, not hearing, claws at his back, pressure tight around his neck. it was the other way round.

he thought of yoongi and him; yoongi and jungkook.

he was the one that was wrong.

one time between summer and fall, yoongi wakes jungkook early.

“baby, wake up.”

he’s nudging his shoulder, gently, shifting above jungkook. jungkook feels a spark in his gut at the petname.

“i’m taking you out to that dumb amusement park you were eyeing on the way here, yeah?”

yoongi’s voice is low, sleepy, still, but he’s pushing at jungkook, pulling him into conciousness. jungkook only blinks, for too long— yoongi snorts against his jaw.

“amusement— why?”

“it’s your birthday, isn’t it.”


they don’t celebrate birthdays or even holidays, not usually— will sometimes watch cheesy family movies they don’t understand around new year's, feeling distant from it, but not alone, with each other. sometimes jungkook makes yoongi marathon horror movies with him for halloween, too. yoongi hasn’t told jungkook his birthday, and jungkook’s— is nothing he’s ever felt like celebrating, before. and so they don’t. except.

except that yoongi’s waking him with kisses, all sweet, murmuring soft words into jungkook’s ear, stroking his cheek. yoongi’s not usually this sweet, but has been getting there, lately.

“ah, hyung— we don’t have to—”

“i know you want to. be honest with me.”

yoongi’s pressing up against jungkook’s body, lazily, but jungkook feels heat flare in his gut, his instincts reacting to yoongi’s voice, his touches. “i want—”

they stay in bed for a while longer, and yoongi is deceptively sweet, so sweet, jungkook can’t quite take it; asks for more, pleads, it’s my birthday, hyung.

yoongi takes him out to an amusement park, later.

there are three rules, if jungkook were to call them that, that yoongi once set for him: to say what he wants, and to not lie to him. jungkook’s always struggled with those, he realizes in hindsight, but yoongi’s always been patient. the third one, however—

you can’t follow me there.

jungkook’s never even wanted to try.

jungkook used to think it was to protect yoongi’s image. these days, he thinks maybe it was to protect jungkook’s image of himself.

yoongi’s getting ready to head out, disappear into the dark like he belongs in it, like it is his. jungkook knows it is. jungkook knows what he said.

you can’t follow me there.

whether in darkness or blinding light, jungkook wants to be yoongi’s. wants yoongi to be his. he knows, has always known what it is. he isn’t so scared anymore.

you can’t follow me there.

“i want to go with you.”

his mistake was trying to make yoongi stay. trying to make yoongi change for him.

yoongi slows his movements, straightens fully; halts. he turns to look at jungkook, curiously, and jungkook doesn’t drop his gaze. there’s nothing to stumble over or take back, no hesitation or afterthought. he wants to go with him, finally.

finally, jungkook sees, all over yoongi’s face: in the twitch of his mouth, the slow stretch of his lips, the gentle smile. the way his eyes narrow from it, glinting with interest. how he just stands there and stares at jungkook, like he didn’t think it would happen.

“i’m ready now,” jungkook murmurs, eyes dropping to yoongi’s gorgeous lips.

“...c’mon, then. grab your jacket.”

it was always supposed to happen. it was always going to.

he falls in step with yoongi easily, a second nature, knows his movements and pace; through the lights and shadows of a cold daegu at night, in and out of the dark, the crowds, the still living. he reaches for yoongi’s hand to hold, intertwines their fingers. he’s not scared of monsters in the dark. he’s walked with one for all his life.

yoongi squeezes his hand, gently. directs them this way and that, further, further in, into the heartbeat of the city, the warmth of the mass. jungkook watches the people curiously, watches yoongi watch them, consider, move on. they’re all laughing, all bright, blurred shapes and all the same faces, jungkook’s seen hundreds like them, printed, missing.

men, women, dancing, pushing, young and old; jungkook’s hand in yoongi’s.

he’s controlling the monster; he’s doing as told.

jungkook’s eyes get stuck at a young boy, early twenties, boyish face and pretty hair, trying to be unseen in the shadows of a bar. jungkook knows this, too— has seen this in the mirror. he feels a rush of sympathy and hate, a certain need to hold and shake and break. he wants to save him, wants to save himself.

they don’t deserve this; they won’t be missed.

yoongi’s attention is elsewhere, piercing sharp: an older man, sweaty, pressing close; a young girl against the wall, pushing, trying to get him off. she struggles, and he enjoys it, and they don’t say a word as they make their way over, yoongi scary and cold.

jungkook lets yoongi’s hand go— lets him free.

there’s no hurry to his steps, no urgency in his firm grip. it’s all under control— under yoongi’s, under jungkook’s. the back alley is dark and empty, faraway echoes of life in it, still. the body struggles, tries to yell, tries to call for help. jungkook knows it doesn’t exist. there was no help for him; was, is, will be no help for them. there is no mercy for the damned.

jungkook stands and watches, for the first time, with eyes wide open. sees, for the first time, what he was afraid to acknowledge.

it starts and ends with yoongi. yoongi is—


jungkook’s always thought that, since the very beginning. but there’s something different to him now, bathed in black and white, shadows and moonlight, the delicate features of his face. it’s where he belongs, it’s how he’s meant to be. humans never had anything on him. jungkook will never have anything on him.

his lips stretch in a slow smile, awful, red, skilled hands around splintered bones. “am i what you prayed for?”

jungkook shivers, in fear and need. he’s never been this close to death, this aware, but it doesn’t feel any different than before. he wants to be prey under yoongi’s gaze.

“…is that what you’re going to do to me?”

jungkook gravitates towards the darkness, and yoongi meets him halfway.

“what do you want me to do, darling?”

yoongi is ethereal, like this. like this, more than ever. he’s beyond reason and purpose, bigger than anyone’s existence could ever be. jungkook can hear his blood rushing, rushing, can see yoongi’s eyes trace it in his throat.

“be mine,” jungkook smiles, beyond reason.

“i have always been,” yoongi smiles back, gruesome and pretty. “but you know how this is going to end.”

“yeah,” jungkook takes his red tainted hand, and then it’s on both of them, it’s both of them, it’s everywhere.

“but you’re still going to be with me then.”

yoongi allows jungkook to see him, then, for the first time fully; all of his raw being and need in his veins. yoongi says to accept the bad and the ugly— but jungkook still can’t see a single bad or ugly thing, can’t remember what he was afraid of. he sees only beauty and inevitability, heaven’s offering to him, it must be, he is on his knees.

yoongi never loses control, never lets go, but allows jungkook to touch him, then, to hold him close. allows himself to spill his feelings, longing, finally; it’s all in jungkook’s palms, all over his heart, between their lips.

be mine, and yoongi is— and jungkook needs to go back to the start.

he thought it would fill him with old dread and painful anger, but now, instead—

busan fills him with excitement, anticipation, grants him a spring to his step.

jungkook remembers most of it only vaguely, made no effort to hold onto it: his uncle and aunt, the fear, the crash, their panicked voices— his own, his cry, his plea for help. that day, and all the dark days he went unheard before, some lifetimes ago, somewhere unseen on these streets.

his stomach twists, his fingers itch. it’s not that he’s holding a grudge.

yoongi’s trailing behind him, amused, maybe. letting jungkook lead the way, stop and pause, turn this way and that. he’s smiling, faintly, all the while. has been smiling all the time, since the cold daegu night.

they visit his aunt and uncle first, because it’s on the way. jungkook doesn’t stay long, doesn’t have a lot to say. he gives their grave a cheery two finger salute, sing-songs, i’m back.

yoongi chuckles into his collar, reaching for his hand.

finding jungkook’s parents is easy; they haven’t moved or changed names a hundred times. the fence was repaired twice, and the swing on the big tree is gone, and it all reeks of death already. always has, to jungkook.

he’s always known god wouldn’t save him. god had put him there.

this god his parents had told him about is nowhere near.

yoongi’s staring intently at the picture of jungkook they had dared to put up— eight years old, no smile, wide fearful eyes, black ribbon around the picture frame. jungkook feels the fire, the heat on his skin, more than he sees it in yoongi’s eyes.

jungkook remembers: being alone and scared, hurt, crying. always hiding from the monsters in his parents’ skin, his relatives’ touches, his brother’s silence and the neighbors’ eyes. hoping to not wake at home, to not wake at all, to not feel them anymore. praying, praying, for a quick death.

he grins, intertwines his fingers with yoongi’s lazily.

remembers: praying for their death.

it’s a cold, cold night, the sky is black, and god won’t come to save anyone now, either.

he remembers: yoongi’s outstretched hand, his savior, black and red.

remembers: yoongi saving him.

when jungkook claims what is owed to him, returns the years of terror and hurt, yoongi watches; he is there, sharp eyes, voice in jungkook’s ears, touch soothing on his back. jungkook’s hands are numb, he is numb, but so alight, here, where it all started. he holds close what is his, the monsters that gave birth to him, that are the same flesh and blood as his— holds them, gently, as they crumble in his arms, breath stuck beneath his grip. he breaks them, he saves them, he saves himself.

yoongi takes his hand, red, and then it’s on both of them, it’s always been both of them, will always be them.

there’s a memory, blurry around the edges; sometime in elementary school, some lifetimes ago.

“when i die… will i see them again there?”

jungkook was staring, brows furrowed, at some chicks chirping high in a tree, dead mother bird lying in the grass. yoongi had paused, head tilted at jungkook.

“do you want to?”

jungkook stared and wondered and didn’t reply. he can’t recall what he had thought, now, but he probably knew even then. he was just too scared of himself to say.

yoongi led him home, to their place, hand warm and big around jungkook’s. it could have been anticipation, a bit of joy in his voice.

“it’s okay. there’s something else waiting for you.”

when jungkook is free and honest and unafraid, he pulls yoongi close, urgently, struggles to breathe against him.

be mine, he had said before. he hadn’t dared to say the other part.

“make me yours.”

yoongi slows their movements, makes jungkook slow down. he’s beautiful, as always, the most beautiful in the dim lights of the night. he smiles, gently, stares at jungkook; from head to toe, over his hands, his neck, from his lips up to his eyes. looks at jungkook like it’s the first time he’s seeing him, truly, fully this time.

there’s no sharpness to yoongi’s teeth like this, no pain in his touch, and as much as jungkook craves it usually, always craves it so much— he lets himself be lowered slowly, laid on soft sheets and covered with yoongi’s warmth. there’s no urgency to this, suddenly, between them: it’s not having sex as much as it is— a sign, a mark, making—

love isn’t something jungkook has a concrete idea of. has never asked yoongi about it, has never heard him explain the word. jungkook wouldn’t know how to define it; doesn’t know what it is, it, between them, apart from the need in his veins, the gravitation felt deep in his bones. the calmness that overtakes him, like an embrace, when yoongi is there. the golden thread, the red string, the bloody rope.

jungkook gives himself to yoongi, fully, and yoongi takes, and takes and takes. he’s gentle, maybe almost loving, he takes his time, he doesn’t let go. but jungkook can tell, from years and years in cars and beds together, that he’s greedy, too. has been waiting to be given this, for jungkook to realize and decide it was meant to be this.

jungkook could pray, could cry in relief, chants yoongi’s name in his rawest voice. it’s always been yoongi, is all yoongi right now. he saves him, he fills him up; breathes into him, is in his body and in his blood, curls around his soul, a hand around his heart. jungkook’s always known it was his. he’s not scared to give it to him anymore.

“who are you, really?”

jungkook’s out of breath, he can barely speak. he’s weightless, shapeless, blissfully filled and emptied on stained sheets. they’re damp, there’s blood, it’s not his. yoongi is everything, in him, around him, he’s all he can see.

yoongi’s staring down at him, smirk something terrifying. jungkook loves it like this; has always loved it in every way.

“it was you who called out to me. who did you want me to be?” yoongi speaks softly, a beautiful low drawl. jungkook already misses it on his tongue. “god? an angel?”

jungkook giggles, nose scrunching up.

“we both know the answer, love.” yoongi bends down to kiss him, sweetly, blood in their mouths. jungkook hooks his arms around his neck to keep him there. “do you still want to be with me?”

“yes,” it was never really a question; was something jungkook had to come to realize for himself, at the same time. choice, inevitability. it was inevitable that he would make this choice. “do you?”

“i do.” yoongi presses a kiss to his throat, scrapes it with his teeth. his nails dig into jungkook’s sides, voice dropping low, low, “say,” going all dark as he presses closer, closer, into him, “will you pray to me?”

“yes,” jungkook writhes under him, satisfied but not satisfied at all, not yet, “will you answer?”

yoongi answers him, openly, fully; shares everything between their tongues, bodies, the pulse in their veins. it’s all hazy, all blurring edges, no end to one or beginning to the other, they’re all tangled, all the same.

“as i always have.”

yoongi’s watching him, has always been watching, eyes all cruel and loving and black.

jungkook grasps at him, holds him, cradles his head in his arms, lets yoongi live off the beat in his chest.

yoongi kisses him on the ribs, burns through the skin, etches himself into jungkook’s heart. “because you’re mine, love.”

“because you’re mine.”

they’re gone like this: traces of their existence given over to the fire, hands intertwined, steady steps into the dark. jungkook doesn’t know where they’re going, doesn’t need to, knows it’s all the right place with yoongi by his side. knows yoongi is always going to be there.

they go like this: two shadows, faceless, living in the forgotten, unseen parts. always moving, always growing, growing closer, growing as one.

and so they go, and so they live, and one day they disappear, but not really— together in the darkness, always, as one.

when i die… will you still be with me then?

if you want me to be.

i want you to.

hmm. i guess it’s forever, then.

let it be forever, then.