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at some point down a night of boring eyes into pages full of difficult words and long definitions, of swallowing down caffeine in black or brown or yellow shades, jungkook starts to look more like a frightened, tiny animal and less like a human. the downturn of the lips, the sleepy haze in the eyes, the knees against the chest that make up the entirety of jungkook's demeanor tell yoongi it must be a little after three.

yoongi glances at the cuckoo clock he got from his grandma's attic when he was fourteen. the oldness of it used to contrast with the space-themed wallpaper back in his room at his parents' place. yoongi wanted to keep it hanged on a white wall of his and jungkook's apartment; a tiny piece of nostalgia that would keep him in touch with what he's left behind.

the little bird that lives in there hasn't yelled in a long while—it has probably been frozen in one spot since the day yoongi learned how to walk—but the pointers still work just fine.

the bigger one reaches seven, the tiny other goes past two.

so—yoongi wasn't exactly accurate. although the clock is not in its best condition, hasn't been since yoongi can remember, the times it displays is most likely right. yoongi fixed it this morning before going to work, when the eight thirty differed far too alarmingly from the seven twenty of his phone screen.

but: yoongi never could tell the difference between ten and sixty minutes, so it's not to be unexpected. also: the way jungkook is staring down at his textbook, face looking the same as when he attempts to wink, with one eye closed and the other trying desperately to do the same, makes yoongi unable to do anything but stare.

in those late hours, jungkook is three parts whine and one part pout and yoongi is completely, entirely weak.

in those late hours, the weight of yoongi's laptop on his legs is heavier, the silence of the room is quieter, and yoongi's heart is that of a train that has gotten off its tracks.

when jungkook speaks, it's barely a whisper, and yoongi can see his lips shaping around the syllable before he hears the word.

"hyung," jungkook says. a pause—a yawn. "give me, please."

yoongi stares harder. shifts his eyes from the pout that returned to jungkook's mouth half a second after the end of his sentence, trails his gaze down his neck, over his shoulders, up his arm, until it rests on jungkook's hand, fingers open like a star. yoongi feels a tiny lump forming in his throat, the words stuck on the expanse of it scratching his vocal chords like sand—give what?—yoongi doesn't say them. doesn't hesitate. just raises his own fingers from the stillness they had on the keyboard and leads them to jungkook's open palm.

it's a weird grip, what both of their hands make. the angle is odd: yoongi is up on the couch, on the left side. jungkook is sitting on the floor, a bit too much to the right for them to be what's considered close enough. the tips of jungkook's fingers are pointing at yoongi, and the tips of yoongi's are turned towards jungkook.

yoongi doesn't think about it when he presses life line against life line, when he slips his little finger under jungkook's thumb, when the ring and middle and index ones close around the curve of jungkook's hand like a stubborn parenthesis.

yoongi does think about it when jungkook breaks the almost wink he had, making his eyes wide wide wide. jungkook looks at him in a way yoongi doesn't quite understand—tilts his head, breaks the stare. nods with his chin to the further left, to the couch's armrest. yoongi looks away from a jungkook that seems to be a lot more awake than he did before (yoongi can't decide if this is a good thing), glances down and left, and finds the bright yellow cover of a book, the words cognitive psychology glaring back at him.

"the book, hyung," jungkook's voice is an apology. he grips yoongi's hand harder, squeezes it as if it's a secret he doesn't want to let go of, then loses the grip he had like he doesn't have a choice over it.

yoongi watches his arm that is still up in the air, pale getting paler on the patch of wrist where the tip of the radius bone juts out, stretches skin a little tighter. on the patch of wrist that feels a little more exposed to the world than the rest of him. he wonders if jungkook could sense his feelings when the pad of his finger rubbed over it. hopes he couldn't. yoongi thinks of saying something—then again, as he had done so many times in the last minutes, doesn't.

he grabs the book, gives it to jungkook, who takes it with both hands. there's a small smile on his lips showing bunny teeth and the tiredness-induced wink comes back; the subtle actions that make yoongi's heartstrings tie in a knot.

yoongi is motionless for a while. he closes his laptop, forgets all about the song he was trying to work on and stands up. walks over to the kitchen to make some coffee, changes his mind midway and settles on drinking water. when he grabs the glass cup, the ghost of jungkook's hand still clings warm onto his skin, like sun over his back on a hot summer day.

in the wordless quietude, yoongi repeats steadily inside his mind, the sentence shaping itself into a sort of prayer: it doesn't hurt. it doesn't hurt. it doesn't—

 

 

 

 

(it hurts a little.)

 

 

 

 

yoongi is in a hypnagogic state, falling into the ravine of sleep further and faster, when the other side of his mattress dips.

"hyung, can i sleep with you tonight?" the question doesn’t sound like a question. it’s more like a plea. yoongi blinks into a more awake version of himself, his eyes adjusting to the faint moonlight that comes through his windows. yoongi can’t see him quite right, but he knows jungkook looks like the personification of the nice dream he was hoping to find a few moments ago. jungkook closes one eye, yawns, and yoongi is helpless.

"yeah," he says, lifting the blanket. "yeah, come here."

jungkook does—he places his head on top of a spare pillow, facing yoongi. his hands rest on the portion of sheets that tears their hearts apart.

it might be just tiredness, but something feels off about jungkook—he doesn’t usually ask to sleep with yoongi unless he’s had a bad day, or a really happy one. by the purple under his eyes, one so strong that is visible even in the almost-dark, yoongi knows it’s not the latter option. so he asks:

"you okay, kookie?"

with a swift shift of his body, jungkook inches closer to yoongi. from up close, yoongi can see better the cleanliness and also the weariness of him. he’s all bare face and bare heart.

"i'm okay," jungkook says. "well, kinda. not really, no."

"what happened?" yoongi questions, but he thinks he already knows the answer. he looks at jungkook and it’s the same as when he sees himself in the mirror, sometimes. a little sad, a little rough around the edges and sore on the inside. it’s not unbearable, or anything like that. it’s just a bad feeling that hits suddenly, like good ones also do.

it’s the worry that comes after a hard day at work, when no melodies or words found their way to him. it’s wanting to take over the world and, at the same time, being afraid of the world taking him over back. in those days, jungkook helps. his other friends help. the brownies from the bakery of their street help. taking hot showers, where he tries to scrub off the mistakes written on his back that spell out human thirteen times, also helps, in a strange way.

the feeling doesn’t last long for him. he hopes it won’t last long for jungkook, too.

"rough day with my classes," jungkook says what yoongi already suspected. "don't know if it's quite right for me. if i'm good enough for this."

"you're good, kook," yoongi assures him, speaking the truth. jungkook understands people, and he has a way of making them feel better; some of the traits that help him so much in his psychology major. "you're the best, just—let's sleep, let's try to sleep. don't worry about it too much. 's just a bad day."

"i know. i know, hyung," jungkook says. now, he’s so close yoongi can feel each one of the words hitting his clavicles. “sometimes i wonder if i’ll truly be able to help people. i feel like whatever i’ll have to offer them is nothing at all."

the smallness of jungkook’s voice makes yoongi’s heart shatter a little. yoongi reaches out for jungkook’s waist, rests his arm over it, begins to draw slow circles on the small of his back. jungkook’s index and middle fingers are pressed against yoongi’s sleep shirt, on the part of his breastbone where his heartbeats hit a little harder.

"you’ll help them, kook. just like you help me, sometimes. you’ll do just fine.” yoongi tells him, makes the hold he has on jungkook stronger. then, not knowing more ways to make it better and placing all his hope in words he believes will help, yoongi tells him quietly, “your nothing can be someone's everything.”

jungkook doesn’t answer. yoongi looks at his face and it’s like staring into quiet water, calm and clear. he’s asleep.

yoongi falls into unconsciousness like that: a waist under the bend of his arm, a hand over his heart. his dreams are bittersweet and smell like the lavender of jungkook’s shampoo.

 

 

 

 

it's in the middle of the second, maybe third harry potter movie that yoongi decides it might be a problem.

it all happens like this: a woolen blanket thrown over his body, two packages of microwaved popcorn sitting heavy and salty in his stomach, the quiet laughs of his friends battling to muffle the soundtrack, jungkook's head on his shoulders. jungkook sleeping on his shoulder. yoongi not being able to pay attention to anything but the hot puffs of air that hit his collarbones, timed steady like a metronome. 

but mostly: jungkook's hand close to his. yoongi having to make a fist and press it over his chest—to breathe deep, once then twice then ten times, in order to calm his heart and his hands that just want to hold.

what yoongi thought to be a trait of his personality, or a silly habit made as a result of being touch-starved, turns out to be much more deeper and terrifying than that. way more jungkook-related than he would like it to be. 

there's something about holding hands, yoongi knows that. what this something really is, he can't be sure. it's probably along the lines of body heat, or the pulse point of another person making an acute angle with your own. something makes no sense at all, circling the thoughts yoongi doesn't like to dwell on unless it's dawn and he can't sleep and has too much coffee running in his veins.

but the thing is: there shouldn't be something about holding jungkook's hands, specifically. and yet, there is. he doesn't feel the urge to hold seokjin's hands, or jimin's, like he would if hands were really all there was to it.

so—yoongi comes to the conclusion that it's not about holding hands, not for him, not at this point. it's about jungkook, it always was. about doe eyes and how his voice lilts when he says yoongi's name. about the way jungkook was when they first met, all those years ago, brand new to seoul's pollution and looking a little lost, a little scared, reminding yoongi too much of himself.

harry potter is on the pixelated screen doing magical things that yoongi used to love, still does, when yoongi comes to terms with the mess he's in. because there's noise in the room, and there's light and all he can think of is jungkook's palm against his.

"can anyone make more popcorn?" taehyung's voice is loud. so loud yoongi is pulled away from the gravitational pull he had towards the hand jungkook has resting on yoongi's lap.

"can't you do it yourself," someone says—jimin, yoongi realizes belatedly. his voice is muffled by the fabric of namjoon's sweatshirt, where his head is resting on.

"i literally just did," taehyung whines. "it's someone else's turn now."

there's silence for a while. an almost-silence. yoongi watches seokjin and hoseok stare dully at the screen, probably having thoughts about doing it themselves but not wanting to leave their cozy state.

from his peripheral vision, yoongi watches taehyung rub his eyes and fake a sniff.

yoongi has a soft spot for taehyung—that and it's getting harder by the second to keep his fist close to his heart, and though he could stop dramatizing and overanalyzing and just take jungkook's hand, he still won't. 

"i'll do it," yoongi announces, voice high enough to be heard but not by everyone. not by sleeping ones. his sentence earns a smile from taehyung. the kind of smile that reminds yoongi of daegu, of the brighter sun that shines in there. yoongi smiles back, smaller. then, he loosens his fist, uncrosses his arms, grabs a pillow from seokjin, gets a quiet curse in return. he moves away from his lean on the couch slowly, carefully—he stands and quickly places the pillow on the spot he left behind, trying to kneed the material into the best shape of himself he can manage. 

jungkook's head falls onto it. he shivers, but doesn't wake up. yoongi walks. 

once he's in the kitchen, yoongi feels like he can breathe right again. like his heart doesn't race as much. he almost can't hear the talking and the sound effects from here. definitely can't feel jungkook's warmth—it makes something twist, low and heavy in his tummy, but the clock on the wall tells yoongi it's not dawn yet and there's barely any coffee in his system, so he blames it on the popcorn. 

the calmness doesn't last long: when he's putting the fourth package inside the microwave, arms curl around his waist and a chin rests on his shoulder.

the scent of lavender manages to overpower the buttery smell coming from the bowls. yoongi knows instantly who it is.

"kook?" yoongi calls, and it's almost a whisper. his cheeks burn as he watches his hand press buttons, close the little door. the first beep comes and jungkook's hold on him tightens. "did i wake you?"

"hey, hyung," jungkook's voice is a low mumble that hits yoongi with way more intensity than it should. "no. something in the movie blew up."

yoongi makes a small hum of acknowledgement at that. drops his hands, puts them over jungkook's for some time, drops them lower when he feels the small spurt of electricity that scares him too much flicker its way through his palms.

jungkook yawns, a soft sound that is followed by a question: "has anyone died yet?"

"what, in the movie? no one has died yet, i don't think," yoongi answers. he has watched the movies many times, but at this weird liminal space he finds himself in, it's like he can't even remember the plot. 

"i'm not really understanding anything about the movie, you know," jungkook says, which makes yoongi's eyes widen. inside the dimly lit microwave, the corn starts to explode into white, making noises that lead jungkook into holding yoongi's waist on a death-grip.

"you've never watched harry potter before?"

"never."

"you're lying," yoongi says in disbelief. turns around slowly—jungkook places his open palms on the small of yoongi's back.

"have i ever lied to you?" jungkook asks, speaking more through doe eyes that are bright and sincere than through words.

yoongi shakes his head. silently tells him he hasn't.

(a small, selfish part of yoongi hopes jungkook has been lying to him, in some sort of way. and it's not as much lying as it is keeping things hidden, keeping feelings hidden—just like yoongi does. he mentally advices that part of him to find something else to hope for.) 

"i can't believe it," yoongi replies, tone light, holding a hand over his heart dramatically. "we think we know someone but then they just—have never watched harry potter in their lives."

"it happens," jungkook shrugs.

"have you read the books?"

"nope."

(yoongi wonders how many little things about jungkook he has yet to learn.)

"so i'm gonna have to ask you to read them," yoongi says, tries to pull a straight face, fails to hide a smile. "or i don't think this friendship can be kept anymore."

"really, hyung? would you really trade years of friendship for harry potter? would you?" 

yoongi doesn't know why, but jungkook's words get him hit with a sudden wave of nostalgia. it doesn't feel like it's been many years he has known jungkook. yoongi misses the simple days, when he didn't live with jungkook, when he didn't feel like holding jungkook's hand, or being close to him at all times were things he needs to make his day complete. he misses them, but also doesn't. because it feels nice knowing that jungkook is this important to him, even if it aches a little. 

yoongi's thoughts blur under the bright kitchen lights, around the smell of smoke of the popcorn taehyung managed to burn a few hours earlier that still flickers through the air, mixing with butter, with lavender—the sum of it all making yoongi a little nauseated.

"stop bickering and come back," once again, taehyung's voice pulls yoongi out of his restless mind.

he's louder this time. yoongi looks at the door and taehyung is there—with bare feet, a blanket draped over his shoulders, hair in a sticky mess pointing east and west. his presence makes something in the atmosphere shift. jungkook steps further from yoongi—the microwave beeps five times, as if on cue. jungkook waits as yoongi puts the popcorn inside bowls, then helps him carry them back to the living room and distribute them, with some reluctance, to people who are apparently not as hungry as they are willing to keep staring starry-eyed at the screen.

they go back to their places on the couch, and jungkook's head falls over yoongi's shoulder like it was doing before. as if life is mocking him, too close to yoongi's reach are jungkook's hands, once again.

jungkook's delicate, lovely hands.

yoongi thinks about being brave, reaching for them and holding them tight and not letting them go for a few minutes. for as long as jungkook doesn't, too. he does think about it, but jungkook acts first.

jungkook wraps his hand around yoongi's thin wrist, closing from tip to tip, middle finger touching thumb, leaving a fair amount of space to spare between the arch of jungkook and the plain of yoongi.

on the screen, something happens, and it's enough for the whole room to descend into a cacophony of ohs and ahs. yoongi pays it no mind. he just focuses on knuckles and wrists and veins, on the pretty shade the colorful television lights paint jungkook—all the while hoping the latin words the characters shout are loud enough to dull the sounds of the havoc brought to his heart.

 

 

 

 

for the rest of the night, it burns. even the patches of skin that jungkook didn’t quite touch.

 

 

 

 

yoongi is running late. he was planning on getting out of the studio earlier today, but an hour before he was supposed to leave and meet everyone at their usual diner, a pretty melody crawled out the cracks between the piano keys and asked yoongi for some of his minutes. then, suran stopped by to talk about a song they were working on and—as always, yoongi lost the notion of time.

now, yoongi is driving as fast as he can without causing a car crash or getting a speeding fee, almost an hour late but full of good intentions.

when he gets to the diner, the first thing he sees and hears is his friends, as loud and obnoxious as six kids collectively throwing tantrums, but bearing a considerably bigger number of smiles. it’s nearly empty—seokjin and hoseok found the place in one of their nighttime quests for food. they go there enough for the workers to not mind their loudness, letting they yell their lungs out as long as they keep buying food.

every time, the whole atmosphere seems to be made of french fries and ketchup, of milkshakes and happiness.

everyone is dressed in bright clothes, jimin and taehyung have hair colorful enough to burn shades of orange and red in the corneas of yoongi’s eyes. but yoongi’s sight is still lured towards jungkook, whose grey sweater and very faded pink hair seem dull among the rainbow he’s in. jungkook nods at something namjoon is saying, smiling the nose-scrunching smile that makes yoongi feel calm.

yoongi calls his name—watches as jungkook stretches up up up like a meerkat at the telltale sound of danger. his doe eyes widen and blurs of pink fly to three different directions as he shakes his head, seizing the room. yoongi's heart swells.

yoongi takes the free seat in front of jungkook, says some hellos. when he looks ahead, he finds jungkook smiling wider. the way his slight overbite becomes a bit more noticeable, his cheeks paint cherry blossom rose and his eyes turn into starry crescents is so achingly jungkook that yoongi's head hurts.

“hyung!”

(yoongi think about kiss-biting red into the pink of his lips.

but that's just another entry on the journal of things yoongi should not think about, a little metaphorical thing with a blue leather cover that keeps getting more battered day by day with overuse.)

(yoongi buries the journal under metaphorical grass and dirt, choosing to focus his attention on the other five pairs of eyes that rest on him.)

“you’re late. you just lost jimin almost breaking the table into two with his own hands,” hoseok says, head gesturing to jimin, who’s in the middle of heart-eyeing namjoon.

“what?” yoongi deadpans.

“we’re doing hand wrestling matches,” seokjin explains, the seriousness of his voice contrasting with the subject. “jungkookie’s won every single one till now.”

“of course he did,” there’s no hint of surprise to yoongi’s voice. yoongi keeps his gaze fixed on jungkook and his smug expression, on the pink pink pink lips wrapped around a stripped straw. there’s suddenly the imminent threat of blood rushing into places it shouldn’t, so yoongi lowers his gaze—notices jungkook’s hand, still up in the air, all the knuckles in a soft bend. yoongi reaches out and holds, instantly feels warmth spread from his palm, from the spot between his thumb and forefinger. speaks of the intention his previous action already indicated: “do you think you can beat me?”

“i’m pretty sure i can, hyung. like, ninety nine percent sure. but, who knows, maybe you were bit by a radioactive mosquito overnight and gained super strength or something. so i’ll play it safe.” 

jungkook doesn’t let him win. not that yoongi thought he would—jungkook knows yoongi doesn’t like the sound of someone being too sympathetic to him when it’s all games.

but yoongi doesn’t go down that easily. he proposes another match, jungkook is quick to accept.

five seconds in, and he’s barely holding on. yoongi’s thinking of just giving up when taehyung shouts, in a mess of a deep tone muffled by all the food he has inside his mouth, of twisted syllables that form the sentence hyung you can do this. it sparks a brilliant, evil idea in yoongi’s mind.

the back of his hands is a little less than two inches away from the red table cloth when yoongi groans, yells:

“oh, fuck. shit, my arm. my arm hurts.”

the result is almost immediate. jungkook’s eyes turn the size of apples, the grip he has on yoongi loosens. yoongi wastes no time before mustering all of his strength, even the amount he doesn’t really need now that jungkook is so aloof. he hears the sound of jungkook’s knuckles crashing against hard wood and it sounds like a victory march. 

from across the table, taehyung’s smirk mirrors yoongi's. then, taehyung gives him a big smile, all teeth and wrinkles in the corners of his eyes—there’s a glint of understanding in them, one that is hard to find and that is important, even if the reason for it is the mutual agreement that is okay to cheat in silly games like this one.

yoongi feels lucky. feels pulling-the-longer-piece-of-the-wishbone lucky.

jungkook stares at the table for a while, dumbfounded, looking betrayed like a kid who just found out that santa isn’t real and that the parents have been lying about it all along. the blankness of jungkook’s expression disappears quickly, giving place to the sweet sound of his laugh. it’s a domino effect: every person who witnessed yoongi’s small act of immortality laughs too.

yoongi thinks it wasn’t that funny, but also thinks it doesn’t really matter. because everything is good and they’re friends and there’s so much food in front of them.

three hours later, yoongi drives while full of hamburgers, sitting beside one jeon jungkook who is mouthing the lyrics to a red velvet song.

yoongi can’t stop smiling the whole way back to their apartment.

 

 

 

 

sometimes, yoongi worries that his way of loving might be outdated. that wanting to hold hands, or to weave lines and lines of poetry about starry eyes might not belong to the frame of time they’re living in.

sometimes, being in love with jungkook feels like writing love letters he's not sure he'll get an answer to, but ones he knows are being read and thought fondly of.

but most times, loving jungkook feels like a happy accident. feels like being a teenager who’s crushing on someone in their summer camp, someone who lives four cities and three hundred miles away. it hurts a little, but it’s the good kind of pain: the kind that leads to carving initials in the trunk of a tree and smile while doing it. 

a love that feels like yoongi holding jungkook and jungkook holding yoongi with twice as strength in return—the pressure put around yoongi's waist just enough for him to know that jungkook loves him back. well. maybe he’s not in love, but it’s a love that yoongi can feel no matter the shape it comes in, a love that makes his days a lot better.

jungkook loves like: 

the end of an autumn afternoon, re-runs of friends playing on the tv. textbooks forgotten on the armrest, a bowl of popcorn, two coke bottles. shoulder touching shoulder, knee knocking knee, a lopsided grin. four golden packages with english words written all over them.

saying, “hyung, here, i got the coffee you talked about, the one you said you couldn’t find? so, this guy from my class works at a coffee shop and they sell like, the weirdest shit in there—not that your taste in coffee is weird, but. anyway, i got it for you.” 

and also:

the middle of a summer evening, cotton candy aftertaste, the outside of an amusement park. yellow street lights, a cacophony of different laughs, a nice fluttering feeling in the heart. warm fingers brushing against colder ones, a cat plushy being trusted into yoongi’s hands.

saying, "look how cute it is, i got it from one of the machines in there. made me think of you, hyung.”

and mostly:

the start of a spring morning, an old polaroid camera. yoongi lying over blue sheets, under sunlight, with pretty flowers in his hair. chamomile tea, classical music. yoongi telling jungkook how talented he is. the most genuine smile that was ever gifted to yoongi.

saying, “hyung, you look like you’re made out of stars. your hair looks so pretty, you look so pretty. and it’s not me, hyung. it’s all you, all you.”

 

 

 

 

the cold of the winter dies and gives place to the warm beginnings of spring. jungkook keeps giving him tiny bits of this love that is so unique, yoongi doesn’t quite know what to do with it—put it inside a little box, lock it with seven keys. frame it like a photograph, hang it up on the walls of his heart. keep it forever. 

it's a little overwhelming, getting so much love and feeling the urge to give love in return. but yoongi knows that the kind of love he truly wants to give has different undertones. still, he loves jungkook back, always making sure that what's written between the lines is blurred enough to be almost unreadable.

as the cherry blossoms start to bloom, jungkook makes it a habit to get under yoongi's blankets when it's a bit past midnight, mumbling in a low voice something about a cold mattress and loud noises—to spend lazy mornings on yoongi's bed, that only end when the alarm rings for the fourth time and they are bitterly reminded of the need to get up and do things.

jungkook seems to be made out of warmth. in the winter, he is warm eyes and warm hands and a warmer soul, bringing heat and color to the cold snow that falls over sad pavement. in the spring, jungkook is exactly the same. the same as love, yoongi doesn't know what to do with so much warmth. he feels constantly at risk of being cauterized by the heat of jungkook's back pressed against his chest. yoongi doesn't like any outcome his mind is able to provide him; he keeps thinking about how his skin would melt and his ribcage would break and all the feelings that burn bright inside his heart would boil out of him. 

in the last of the quiet hours, when the dangerous warmth is there but not completely there yet, yoongi spends a lot of time thinking.

thinking of jungkook, but also of himself.

thinking of his future as much as his past.

thinking of when he first arrived to seoul, of his freshman year of college, of a tiny stuffed apartment where he felt he couldn't breathe as well as he did in his house, back in daegu. now, yoongi is used to seoul lights, has graduated and works as a producer. and he's doing fine, really. about a year ago, he moved to a bigger apartment with jungkook, who hated the dorms and had the money to afford rent at a better place. had enough to afford a place of his own. but still asked yoongi if he, maybe, just maybe, wanted to be his flat mate. because he was always at yoongi's place, anyway.

their apartment is nice—the wallpapers that clad the hallways are pretty, the living room has a lot of windows, so when the sun is shining and the curtains are open, it almost feels like being outside. it's good, but it still doesn't feel quite like home.

it's in one of the mornings where yoongi wakes up with his head pressed over a beating heart that jungkook tells him he's going to be away for a month.

something about college, about a special course he has been wanting to take for a long time, one that is going to happen at a busan university. yoongi doesn't hold onto any details, though he usually would. it's too early and jungkook is speaking too fast and there's a tug stirring to life right bellow his breastbone that yoongi doesn't like very much.

one month is not a long time, yoongi knows that. but he hasn't been apart from jungkook for more than a few days since they moved in together. he got used to having jungkook close, having jungkook often—like a good song that sticks to the back of your mind like gum, one you want to hear while you cook, or shower, or do anything, really. one that, for some odd reason of the heart, never gets old.

so yoongi can't help the little pull on his heartstrings, the speeding heart that makes him want to press his fist onto his sternum to cancel the pressure coming from the inside.

yoongi can't help feeling a little sad.

"and like," jungkook continues, the stillness of his body very different from the excitement in his voice. yoongi rests his head on jungkook's chest and can't feel anything but the faint heartbeats and the light up and down of his breathing. "they'll have all those smart professors there, people from all over the world, isn't it nice, hyung?"

"it's so nice, kook," yoongi says, tries to make his voice as soft as possible, tries to conceal any disappointment that his tone might carry.

"busan. god, i really miss it. i think i haven't spent more than holidays there since i started college," yoongi wishes he could say the reason why he's so upset is because he got used to waking up to the sound of jungkook's alarm, a girl group song that changes every week. but he knows that's not all there is to it. "i miss my mom. and her food. and the sea. oh my—" 

he keeps talking. keeps saying things about busan with such care and love that it makes yoongi miss his hometown, too. the brightness of each sentence that leaves jungkook's lips is childlike—memories from when yoongi was a little kid start to spark inside his head. memories of sunburned cheeks, of the sweet smell of ice cream flickering through summer air.

jungkook's words melt into sort of a lullaby, sort of a tale, and some of the memories feel too much like a dream to be true. yoongi watches, like a movie that is just starting to get old, images of a smaller version of him wandering deep into the woods, shucking off apples straight from a tree, trying to tune out the buzz of mosquitoes, biting nature and having it bite him back. he tightens the hold he has on jungkook's waist when little yoongi goes back home, gets a forehead kiss from his mom, sits on the piano bench, legs that were still not long enough to reach the pedals swaying in the air. 

yoongi feels himself getting weary, the images getting a bit blurry, and he's almost falling asleep when the alarm rings—his alarm, the phone on the nightstand blaring obnoxious siren noises. the sound doesn't startle him as much as the abrupt jolt jungkook's body does underneath him.

yoongi reluctantly raises his head. untangles his legs with jungkook's, forces himself away from a waist thinner than his own, from a chest that seems to be simultaneously made of steel and wool, from a kind heart that is speaking a language yoongi wants desperately to learn. he grabs his phone, fights the urge to throw it harshly on the opposite wall, turns it off. silence comes, doesn't last. jungkook begins talking again, apparently picking up from where he stopped—his sentences along the lines of seagulls, this time. yoongi feels bad for not giving the most of his attention to him, but he knows jungkook will probably re-tell all of the nostalgia and longing he has bottled up inside of him in five different ways until the day he leaves.

yoongi glances down at the digital clock, sees it's not as late as he thought it was—but still, it's saturday, a rare opportunity of staying the whole day inside doing nothing. his eyes focus on the lock screen wallpaper. it's a picture of him and jungkook, from last summer, standing in front of a carrousel. their arms are thrown over each other's shoulders, the bright lights coming from the background almost steal the glow of their matching smiles. almost.

though the aftermath of a happy memory can fade into black at the press of button, yoongi is able to keep the gleam of it—it's like he has thousands of polaroids hanging in the corners of his heart, some capturing small moments, some capturing bigger ones. some are sad, most are happy. a lot of them have jungkook.

yoongi drops his phone on the sheets, lays down again. he gets closer to jungkook, throws an arm over his waist. yoongi lifts his hand to jungkook's hair, tangles his fingers in the strands, and jungkook relaxes into the touch. it's calming, hearing jungkook speak, even when he starts to get repetitive. his voice brings the same feeling as listening to good songs while driving aimlessly down a road, under the sun and close to the shore—there's not really a point you need to reach, a place where you need to arrive, but it still doesn't feel like a waste of time. it's something you enjoy mostly for the idleness of it.

yoongi watches the way jungkook's eyes shine when he talks about home. hopes that busan is not the only home jungkook has. outside, time attempts to go by unnoticed, fails when the soft light coming through the curtains turns sharper and signals the change of morning to afternoon. under the sun, jungkook looks golden, and his lips are a dark shade of pink, curling around the words like flowers as he speaks.

yoongi breathes steady and listens with all the heart he's got.

 

 

 

 

yoongi has been staring at the black and white of the piano keys for around five hours when hoseok gets to his studio. first, there's a phone call yoongi doesn't hear then four text messages he doesn't check and, lastly, the sound of fists banging on the door that are loud enough for yoongi to notice.

he opens the door to find hoseok standing there, holding a pizza box, and his smile seems brighter than the computer screen. it kind of makes yoongi think about the water bottle that stands full to the lid at his desk, and if his friend is actually some sort of mirage caused by dehydration.

hoseok walks in, throws an arm over yoongi's shoulders, and starts saying something about how he won't be the one to let yoongi just work away—which lets yoongi know hoseok is very much real, something yoongi is very thankful for.

it's not unusual for hoseok to show up unexpectedly at yoongi's studio. he works close, only a couple blocks from this building. he knocks desperately on yoongi's door, disrupting him from any work he's doing at the moment, at least once a week. yoongi offered to give him the password, but hoseok just shook his head and said it would defeat all the purpose of his visits. 

it really would, yoongi supposes. coincidentally, hoseok always comes over and brings him food when yoongi needs it the most—when he hasn't been too productive through the whole day, but still keeps pushing it, or when he just needs a break and someone to talk to.

"so, i heard jungkookie's going to busan for a month. now is that right?" is the first thing hoseok says to yoongi, while opening the pizza box. yoongi's stomach drops a little at the sound of jungkook's name—he's been getting the goose bumps, the speeding heart, the clammy hands. getting every kind of collateral effect of being lovesick and he thinks it might be a big problem for him. 

"yeah," yoongi answers, blunt even though he doesn't want to be. he'd rather keep the jungkook topic short for today. eating his pizza and hearing hoseok talk about literally anything else would be much better for him at the moment.

because the truth is: yoongi has been trying to finish this song for the last two days and he just can't. there's a little lull in it, right after the chorus, when there's nothing but static and quiet. he can't make the giant question mark that hangs in the silence disappear—but after jungkook called him around noon to ask him if he wants to go out for dinner, yoongi thought, stupidly, that the answer would be a sample of the way jungkook says his name.

so—yoongi is led into thinking that maybe, possibly, he is ruined forever, for everyone else.

hoseok says nothing for a while. then he asks, loud, around a mouth full of pizza:

"oh my god. i bet you get all your energy from staring at him in the morning. i mean, you just look so happy when you do it. will you survive, hyung?"

yoongi rolls his eyes, hard, trying not to think about the small but solid amount of pain that question brings him.

"fuck off," yoongi says, in that monotone, sort of mechanic voice that hoseok just thinks is the funniest thing in the word. hoseok laughs, and laughs, almost chokes on food. yoongi scoots closer, patting his back, taking the soda from the table and handing it to him. when hoseok is chugging it down at a speed that could easily cause him to choke again, yoongi adds, in a voice that sounds a little more sad and lonely than he actually feels in this moment, "i've survived a good twenty two years, haven't i?" 

yoongi meant it as a joke, mostly. a small part of him, the same that likes to understand his feelings for jungkook as an excuse to overreact, thinks it's anything but a joke—hoseok chokes again. something tells yoongi that it's not because it was funny.

once hoseok has recovered from suffocation for the second time in a five minute span, he stares straight at yoongi, eyes wide and mouth turned into a pout. there's that look on his face, the one he has when he wants to say something but doesn't exactly know what to say. when he wants so desperately to help but fears making the situation worse.

the silence seems to stretch. yoongi decides to change the subject completely, because thinking about jungkook and leaving in the same context makes the start of a migraine fire up inside his head, and he also doesn't like seeing hoseok so helpless. 

"it was this week, right? your anniversary with seokjin hyung," yoongi tried to think of something that would make hoseok smile and the first name that blinked bright at him was seokjin's.  

"yeah," hoseok answers. he still sounds a little off. then, suddenly, as if someone had turned on a switch, he straightens his back, says with more enthusiasm, "yeah! it was." 

"can't believe it's been three years," yoongi says, and he really can't. 

"four, actually," hoseok replies, and yoongi starts to wonder if his perception of time has gotten worse lately. "life moves too fast." 

yoongi nods. tries not to think of how life is moving fast and it just won't stop and how a month is not much but can be and—yoongi puts a halt on his mind. his thoughts are going somewhere gray and confusing, somewhere he doesn't ever feel like going. he plays with the straw of his coke as he asks, "so, did you guys do something? how was it?" 

"it was," hoseok starts, pauses, traps his bottom lip between his teeth and looks up as if trying to organize his thoughts. "i don't wanna say the best day of my life because i'm saving that for our wedding, or for, like, when i meet tinashe. but it's definitely up there, in the best days list."

yoongi makes a gesture with his hand for hoseok to keep talking. he does: 

"he teamed up with the kids at the dance studio behind my back," even if yoongi wasn't looking right at him, he'd be able to see the smile on hoseok's face. it's behind every word he speaks. "i went to the bathroom for five minutes and the next thing i know they're all standing beside each other, holding out papers that said you're my soymate. next, he walks in holding a bouquet and a bottle of shoyu. we went out to have dinner at some too-fancy place. pretty sure i ate half my body weight in sushi."

hoseok stops to take a bite of pizza, to swallow it down. yoongi feels good—the little bit of sadness he was feeling earlier is slowly going away. not fading completely, but hiding. that seems to be enough for now. because hearing hoseok talk, watching the way he moves his hands through the air, feels just like hearing someone tell a story, one that you're sure will have a happy ending. it brings the kind of peace that's brief and immediate, but still is exactly what we need, sometimes. 

(yoongi could sit and hear hoseok talk about anything and everything he did with seokjin.) 

"he gave me a little notebook, with probably every love pun that has ever existed written down on the pages. then there was cherries. lots of them. also whipped cream that he licked off—" 

(maybe not everything. ) 

"oh, wow, that's—that's definitely something, think it's enough for me to hear," yoongi interrupts, making his voice a little louder. "hyung is one for the great gestures, i see." 

"he's one for the great everything. he likes to wake me up at three in he morning and ask me if i want to drive around and look for an open bakery, because he's dying for cake but not really in the mood for making one himself. his way of loving is aggressive," hoseok says. the gleam in his eyes just gets shinier and shinier with every mention of seokjin's name. "seokjin loves loud."

yoongi places his hands on his thighs. looks down. stares at knuckles, fingers, wrists, bones. breathes deep—wants to be loved, too, so badly.

"it sounds scary," yoongi comments, eagerly, wrongly, because it really doesn't. yoongi yearns for it so much that love isn't all that scary for him anymore, not even when it screams. he corrects himself, "a bit overwhelming, i mean." 

"i'm used to it. i love like that too, i think," hoseok replies. stays in silence for a while, and when yoongi looks up from his hands hoseok is staring at him. the expression on his face is so kind. "your form of loving in gentler. quieter. just like jungkook's."

it isn't much of a surprising comparison. yoongi and jungkook do act alike, in a lot of ways: they don't talk too much until they do, they seem a little bit standoffish until they don't. they're both hardworking, and determined and somewhat stubborn. they're hard to get to know and easy to love. jungkook is easy to love. 

it isn't much of a surprise but it sill hits yoongi like one.

he thinks about all the little ways jungkook loves—thinks about all the little ways he loves, and wonders if everyone can notice them. if jungkook can notice them.

yoongi keeps quiet, with no words to say. well, with some words to say, three specifically. words that are small but feel big, important—words that belong to someone who isn't here, in this room, right now.

"you know," hoseok says, after more silence from yoongi. "the thing i said about you looking happier when you're staring at jungkook—it's true, but that's not all there is to it."

"i do," yoongi says, fast. "i'm happy when i look at jungkook," and then, because that sentence hides an only and implies no happiness for a whole month, yoongi corrects himself, again, "happier."

take one letter, add three more. it's really not much of a change. jungkook still makes him happy the most.

"but sometimes a little bit of sadness gets in the way—sometimes you look at him as if he's about to rip your heart out of your chest and squeeze it until it drips. as if his hands are just heartbreak waiting to happen," hoseok says it like he'd taken all the hurt and pain and longing from yoongi and made them his own. it's such a dramatic change of his demeanor in such a short time—it makes yoongi just ache more. "it worries me, you know. i wonder if you'll ever realize that's not true. not true at all."

yoongi swallows the lump that began forming on his throat at the very first mention of jungkook. circles his wrist, presses down on his little bone. hoseok's words fall heavy on his ears, and he knows he needs to think about them, dwell on their meaning, but not now. not when they kind of hurt.

hoseok's face is still so kind.

yoongi would prefer another predictable love story over this any day.

 

 

 

 

yoongi is stuck in traffic when his phone rings.

it's been a long day—a bad one. he's spent too many hours in his studio, staring up at the computer screen, down at the keyboard, not really able to come up with anything good. it frustrates him, to know that the melodies are there, on the tips of his fingers, and the words hiding inside the ink of his pen, and yet he still can't force them out, can't shape them into a song. days like this don't happen often, but they do happen, and yoongi is trying to learn how to accept them.

it's a very hard task: learning how to accept the part of him that sometimes can't get anything to go right, the part of him that gets stuck and gets angry, the one that feels the most human. it seems even harder after a day gone to waste, when he's alone inside his car, surrounded by nothing but loud noises and the strangeness of feeling lonely in a very big city, by the dark that fades into bright lights—when he knows that he'll get back to his apartment and find jungkook slowly packing his bags, as he has been doing every night for the past week. 

the cacophony of noises around him is made out of the car honks and pop songs playing from the radio. it feels more like an unpleasant white noise than anything else, an emptiness that tries to suffocate him from the outside, so yoongi is relieved when the call comes. he doesn't look at who is calling as he picks up. 

the sound of his mom's voice is comforting, as it is every time. it's what he needs after a day that hasn't gone quite right. when she first says his name, the tension on his torso relaxes, and yoongi feels like honey spilling all over the leather seat. when she tells him about holly, the white-knuckled grip he had on the steering wheel loses strength, and yoongi watches under the dim lights as his skin gains the color back. it feels good, listening to her talk about every day things. yoongi briefly gets the warm feeling of home, something he has been desperately craving lately.

everything goes well, until the subject inevitably shifts, and her whole behavior changes along with it.

she asks about his job, like she always does: carefully, with a certain tone in her voice that tells yoongi speaking about it feels like a task to her. as if the only reason she's asking is to prove to herself that she can be a better person and move on from disappointments of the past—which shouldn't be that bad. at least she's trying. but yoongi is human: he needs acceptance, attention, someone to understand him.

yoongi answers, like he always does: tells her he's doing fine, even when he's not doing very fine.

after that, it feels like they don't have anything else to talk about. their words die like a small fire in a whirlwind. a few moments of awkward silence pass before yoongi's mom finally says that his dad has gotten home and that she has to go. she bids him goodbye in the form of a take care, yoongi that leaves him hoping the sentence has more meaning than it seems to have. she doesn't ask him if he wants to speak with his father. yoongi doesn't mention it either.

the call was apparently shorter than yoongi deemed it to be because by the time it ends, the traffic is still jammed.

five minutes pass, maybe more, and the cars finally start moving forward again. yoongi has passed through three green traffic lights when he starts to feel a strain inside his chest, something curling around his heart and forcing it to beat fast, crashing it against his lungs. his breathing becomes irregular and it gets a little harder to see, the lights bleeding into one another and presenting as a threat to yoongi's tired sight.

he pulls over in the first empty spot he sees. turns the engine off, unbuckles his seat-belt. breathes deep, presses a closed fist against his breastbone, tries to conceal the pressure. yoongi feels lost, a little overwhelmed, the ugly, anxious feelings that have been falling over him at the speed of drizzle during the whole day finally crashing over him like a storm.

yoongi tries to tidy up the subtle mess his mind has become. tries to find something to anchor himself, to remember of anything that makes him happy, that makes him feel calm. 

then, like always, jungkook shows up in yoongi's mind when he seems to need it the most.

(yoongi wants to say: i think of you, a lot.)

then, yoongi writes a mental list of all the little things about jungkook he likes—pictures the habits yoongi probably notices more than anyone else, writes them down in an italicized writing. for him, jungkook is a sum of a lot of things: jungkook is his bright eyes and kind hands, is the softness of his skin and also the little scar on his cheek that tells a story yoongi has yet to hear. he is being a bit scared of a city so big, he is carrying a backpack with straps that always slip down one shoulder—taking the weight of books and dreams not as a burden of the past, but as a merit of the future. he is seeing what the world has to offer, facing small fears.

jungkook is remembering something yoongi says at random, a fact that is not so important for yoongi until jungkook mentions it and makes yoongi realize that it is actually kind of important. jungkook is finding the good in everything, giving a happy aftermath to things that are normally very sad. or maybe happiness is just a general side-effect of jungkook.

(yoongi wants to say: i think a lot of you.)

it helps, somehow. after a while, the heartbeats under yoongi's fist don't feel so hushed anymore. his breathing is more steady. yoongi chooses not to dwell on the implications of what thinking about jungkook can do to him—how it can make him feel safe, serene. how it lulls him with as much intensity as words spoken in satoori do. because he already knows what happens, exactly. what has been happening for a long time. yoongi is in love, and though there's a lot of truths about him he still can't admit, acknowledging this one comes easy. 

yoongi closes his right hand around his left wrist, holding tight, pressing his thumb down on the little bit of bone that juts out the most. breathes deep again, one last time. tries to connect with all the feelings that hide under his skin, with all the worries, with the parts of him that are so human it hurts. tries, again, to accept them, to love his little flaws. 

some time passes, maybe too much of it, but yoongi eventually feels fine again. he turns the car on, the radio off, drives in relative silence the rest of the way back to his apartment.

when yoongi gets there, jungkook is not shoving clothes inside a suitcase, like yoongi had expected. he's in the living room, sleeping on the couch, curled in the shape of a crescent moon. there's a romcom playing on the tv, muted. yoongi lefts his bag and keys on the table and walks to his room, very silently. he grabs a blanket and goes back. settles it over jungkook, turns the tv off.

just as yoongi's leaving to go to sleep, he feels something catch his hand, warmth clashing against his cold fingers. it's so sudden yoongi almost screams. the scare quickly fades into something fond when yoongi turns around and finds jungkook's stretched arm reaching out for him, his face still the perfect painting of the harmony brought by sleep, his hair disheveled over the couch pillow.

"hyung," jungkook whispers. the next words come out slurred enough for yoongi to know the other boy is still mostly asleep, "i'll miss you."

yoongi feels a smile inevitably form in his face. he waits for a bit, hearing jungkook's soft snores and the too-loud ticking of the cuckoo clock's seconds pointer. he stares at jungkook, at the light movements his shoulders make with each breath, at the sweet angles of his face. whispers, " i'll miss you too."

the lack of an answer confirms that jungkook is truly sleeping. yoongi detaches jungkook's hand from his wrist, leads it to rest on the sofa. he walks back to his room, takes off his jeans, lies on his bed. 

it doesn't go away: the weight over his shoulders, the looming feeling of failure that makes him a bit breathless. it doesn't disappear, but the ache of it dulls so much that yoongi's dreams are made solely of tanned skin and dark hair that smells like saltwater. of picture-perfect luck—two twin four-leaf clovers, and a wishbone parted exactly in half. of a train that goes and comes back, of a lullaby-voice that says i'll see you soon, instead of goodbye

when yoongi wakes up in the morning, he still can see at the back of his mind, so painfully clear it doesn't feel quite like a dream: a couple of smiles, one full of gums and the other full of bunny teeth, both of them bearing a sense of joy that feels larger than life.

 

 

 

 

it's raining on the day jungkook leaves. a slow, gentle drizzle falling from gray clouds that seem to cover the entirety of seoul. jungkook wakes up very early, since his train is supposed to leave at seven in the morning, and yoongi wakes up along with him.

the first thing jungkook tells him is to go back to sleep, to which yoongi replies he doesn't really want to—he can't. his bed seems a lot colder without jungkook.

the first thing he tells jungkook is that he's going to take him to the train station, to which the younger replies that he can go on his own. but there's something in the tone of his voice confessing—in a quiet manner that maybe yoongi wouldn't catch if he didn't know jungkook so well—that he doesn't want to go alone. so yoongi just tells him he's going anyway. jungkook replies with a small smile. 

jungkook asks him as they're having breakfast, yoongi sipping slowly a cup of too-sweet coffee (that jungkook made) and jungkook shoving whole cookies inside his mouth (that yoongi made):

"have you ever been to busan, hyung?" the words come out a bit muffled by a mouthful of cookies, said by lips with crumbles on the corners.

"a long time ago," yoongi replies. thinks about—elementary school, a little blue backpack, the black hair of his teacher, holding hands so no one would get lost, being scared of the sea. "but i haven't seen much of it."

"we should go together. someday," jungkook says, a lot clearer this time. yoongi sees from over the brim of his cup the way jungkook is twisting his bracelet, one made of little black and white stones, one he never takes off. yoongi's thought about asking if it has any special meaning more than once. "i could show you around."

"i'd really like that," yoongi says, setting his cup on the table. he can feel jungkook's eyes on his face and swears that, at least for a second, jungkook's gaze rests on his lips. yoongi tries to fight the warmth that creeps up his cheeks.

"i'll bring you something. like a gift," jungkook stands up, takes the plate to the sink. yoongi watches, feeling a little wonderstruck, jungkook's broad back and narrow shoulders, the soft hair on his nape curling at the ends. jungkook turns around, leans on the counter, and yoongi feels even more enraptured. jungkook's voice is lilted when he says, "so you can have a little bit of busan until we go for real."

a lot happens to yoongi, all at once: the unfurling of something that seems to be longing inside his chest, the sugar still stuck to his palate, the unsaid words under his tongue.

in lieu of a response, yoongi mirrors the same sort of tiny grin jungkook gave him earlier, one that means okay, that means thank you, that means i won't forget about it.

they leave the kitchen, get jungkook's bags, carry them to yoongi's car. once they're out in the street, with the wind-wipers struggling to erase the blur of the rain falling on the windshield, jungkook grabs a cd from his backpack. he puts it on the radio, and the song that starts playing is one yoongi has never heard before—classical music, piano, full of melancholy and sounding like the end of spring, the notes sharp enough for yoongi to feel them on his backbone.

"i really like this song, hyung. it's my favorite," jungkook says, between hums that mimic the melody almost perfectly. yoongi holds the steering wheel a little harder, knuckles white and heartbeat erratic. "when i first heard it, it made me think of you."

he says it casually, like he's commenting about a pretty flower he saw on his way to class, like yoongi showing up in his thoughts is a fortunate coincidence. yoongi looks straight ahead, focusing on the mess of red and silver and black of the speeding cars. he can't see jungkook properly from his peripheral vision, but yoongi thinks he's smiling, hopes he is. all bright and easy, most likely unaware of what his words do to yoongi.

"it's a pretty song, kook," yoongi does say. doesn't say, though he badly wants to: that it makes him think of jungkook too. of his faded pink hair, like the remainder of a happy spring, a softness to hold on to as the heat of summer gradually comes.

they hit a red light. yoongi turns around, finds jungkook staring at him, his hand hanging on the space between the seats. yoongi doesn't think when he drops his own hand from the steering wheel, moves it to the right, intertwines his fingers with jungkook's. jungkook's smile grows—slowly but surely, like a homework-flower being cared by a very responsible kid. the press of their palms is tight, warm, love line against love line, thumb over thumb.

yoongi only thinks again when loud car honks take him away from this jungkook-induced reverie.

for the half hour that's left of the drive, jungkook's album plays from start to end. the first song starts again just as yoongi pulls over. the rain has ceased, sunlight finding its way through the clouds and falling over jungkook's hair, making him look like the best kind of dream. yoongi carries half of jungkook's luggage, which really isn't much, waits for him to check-in.

there's antique-looking wooden benches, a big digital clock hanging from the ceiling, people saying goodbye to their families all around them—yoongi starts to feel as if he's trapped in the final scene of a very dramatic movie.

before getting inside the train, jungkook hugs yoongi, pulls him up from the ground until he's standing on his tiptoes, holds tight tight tight, the pressure of his arms enough to compress all the feelings nestled inside his heart and blend them all, leaving yoongi a bit dizzy and confused.

with a soft sigh, jungkook lets him go. yoongi has turned around halfway when jungkook calls out for him, his voice very close.

"hyung," yoongi stops, turns back to jungkook, who takes a step, two steps, stops when he's near enough for yoongi to hear him speak low, "tell me a little something, hyung."

yoongi keeps his gaze fixed on jungkook, on the gleam of his eyes, the tiny upturn of his lips. yoongi's sure he knows a lot of somethings, and many of them haven't been shared with jungkook yet, but at that moment all words but one seem to escape from his reach. yoongi chews on the inside of his cheek, tries to think.

the silence that stretches between them is like a tea cup being held by a running child. unstable, shaky, at imminent danger to break.

yoongi wants to speak; he isn't fond of this sort of limbo they're stuck in. but he fears he might sound, to jungkook, more like the high-pitched noise of something shattering all over pavement. he also doesn't like the idea of getting the shards of porcelain that stick on the edges of his syllables dug deep into his skin. 

the word is selfish and painful in the most silent way and it shouldn't really coexist in the whole leaving for just one month context. yoongi doesn't want to think about it, but he does think about it, still. because sometimes people are selfish. and being selfish doesn't necessarily equal meaning any harm.

stay.

he looks at jungkook, at the pink lips that are slightly open, at the eyes that can diminish the glow of a star. its sit on his tongue, glued sweet to the back of his teeth.

yoongi almost lets it slip—but then he suddenly thinks of nature, of big fields with dry bushes. thinks of taehyung, of passion, the purest sort.

"meerkats," yoongi blurts out. jungkook tilts his head, looks at him with curiosity in his eyes. yoongi clears his throat, keeps talking, "they gotta be together, it helps them survive. they help each other, and fight other animals that wanna hurt them. they do stuff they wouldn't be able to do alone. it's sort of like humans, right? being together makes life a bit less scary," being together with you makes life a bit less scary. jungkook comes closer, yoongi loses his train of thought. "i don't know, tae—he explains it a lot better."

jungkook laughs, sounding like wind chimes in the spring breeze, and says:

"i get it, i guess. you kinda look like a meerkat sometimes, hyung. when you try to reach for things that are up too high for you, y'know?"

yoongi rolls his eyes. jungkook laughs some more.

yoongi thinks that's it, the end of their prolonged goodbye—but then jungkook curls his hands around yoongi's waist, presses his lips on yoongi's cheek and yoongi's heart is a lull in the lake being rippled by stones.

just as fast as he leaned in, jungkook moves backwards. his face is flushed pink. his fingers crumple the flannel of yoongi's shirt, so tightly yoongi can almost feel the warmth of them through the fabric. a small smile starts to pull the edges of jungkook's lips up, nothing but a little tug at the corners. it plateaus in a small grin for a while and then spreads fast, creating tiny dimples on his skin, making his cheeks puff. it's like the whole world lights up from the white of his front teeth outwards and yoongi feels so many things at once.

but mostly, he feels at peace.

because jungkook's smile is one that makes you want to love more, love better; that lets you know there's still good in the world, lots of it.

(one that wordlessly tells yoongi he'll be back soon.) 

jungkook lets go of him, turns around, smiles over his shoulder one last time, and finally walks in the cabin. yoongi stands, a fixed point in the platform full of moving people, until the train leaves.

the drive back to his apartment goes by in a blur. yoongi listens to the same song over and over, the one jungkook said he liked the most. he listens to it so much that his thoughts all turn into e-flat major. yoongi parks his car, gets the cd before turning the radio off.

when he opens the front door, the sun casts a sad light over the entire living room, making the shade of the hoodie jungkook left thrown on the couch lighter than it really is.

yoongi breathes deep, curls his fingers around his wrist.

the apartment has never felt this big before.

 

 

 

 

jungkook goes back to busan and yoongi's hands itch for four entire weeks.

he misses jungkook and it feels like every sad pop song he's ever heard being played at once, a cacophony of high-pitched notes and forlorn words and sellout drama.

yoongi misses jungkook except it doesn't quite feel like just missing—it punctures deep at his core with a little more sharpness than mere longing would.

("saudade," namjoon's voice is calm when he says the word that is not as foreign to him as it is to yoongi. they're in the library and namjoon's got that look in his eyes, the one that feels like he's letting you in a secret you could never begin to understand. 

"what?" 

"it's portuguese. look," yoongi turns his gaze to the line of the page namjoon is pointing at, catches said word highlighted neatly in blue.

"okay. what does it mean?" yoongi asks, because he always does.

"it's like, hard to explain. sort of like longing but not really? it's not just missing something when that something is gone. it's missing it before it even leaves. it has much more nostalgia and melancholy to it—i'm not making much sense," namjoon shakes his head. his glasses slip down the bridge of his nose and he looks two times more tired and disheveled than he did seconds before. "have you ever felt that, though, hyung?"

"i'm not sure," yoongi admits, feeling a little overwhelmed, misunderstood by the world at the same time he's relieved to know there are emotions out there as complex as the ones he gets, emotions felt by enough people to receive a name of their own—feeling as he does, sometimes, when he's with namjoon.

namjoon nods, looks down at his textbook. reads the words amor fati out loud and, for the next twenty minutes, yoongi is rewarded by the nice kind of headache.)

(yoongi is sure now.)

one night, a bad one, the sharp glare of his apartment lights is just too much. he turns every single one of them off, crawls under his blankets, curls into a little ball—knees against his chest, the beats coming from somewhere under his sternum so frantic he can feel it in all of his bones. 

yoongi grabs his phone, dials numbers he knows by heart.

(8 for the twisted kind of infinite that time feels like when we're together. 5 for all the notes you move past when you sing. 3 for the month of me. 9 for the month of you. then there's 4, three times. 4 like the clover-luck you bring, 4 like slow dancing in squares, 4 like the years between us. lastly, 1 for i am alone. and 2 for i won't be alone anymore.) 

buttons click and click, quickly comes the static—the nothingness that exists in quiet rooms and late hours and wired conversations. two beeps, twenty beats of yoongi's speeding heart. 

and then—

"hyung?" jungkook sounds sleepy. tired. makes yoongi wonder what time it is. his voice has that slight robotic tone cellphones give, and yoongi wishes jungkook was close to him right now so he could hear his name being said, loud and clear.

yoongi wishes but he takes what he can get.

"hyung, is it you? you okay?" the sentences have a little more worry in them and yoongi feels something deep inside him ache.

"tell me a little something, kook," yoongi whispers, words sharp on his tongue.

silence. deep breaths. the hums jungkook makes when he's thinking. faint talking from the background of the other side of the line.

"you know, hyung, we learn a lot of things as we grow up," yoongi can almost hear the little nods jungkook makes with his head, as he always does when he's in the middle of explaining or understanding. up, down, up down. "but we never learn how to smile. because it's innate. we're born with it, knowing how to do it is just a part of human nature."

tears prickle behind yoongi's eyes. he doesn't allow them to fall.

"so it makes me think—we're all born with a little happiness inside ourselves, and it has always been there, will always be. even when things get tough."

little truths try to make their way out of yoongi's mouth. truths like i miss you, or i want you, or i love you, among others yoongi doesn't mind much—and it's one of those that manages to escape the cage of his teeth:

"i didn't know that."

a small laugh. "can you smile right now for me, hyung?"

yoongi does, feeling the awkwardness of a non-spontaneous smile strain his cheeks. he tells jungkook so, and the way he speaks next makes yoongi believe jungkook is smiling back.

"your nothing can be someone's everything, hyung," yoongi thinks he's heard this before, said this before. "you never know how much you mean until you do, somehow."

after that, there's silence again. yoongi's heavy breathing, giggles coming from two hundred miles away, belonging to people he probably has never met. there's a whole world around jungkook, yoongi thinks. a whole world as yoongi is stuck inside the dark quiet of his room. a whole world and yet it feels like jungkook's attention is turned solely towards him. jungkook speaks again:

"you mean a lot to me," six words, said softly. they make their way inside yoongi and settle sweet under his ribcage like a lullaby.

yoongi falls asleep with the coldness of his phone screen pressed against his cheek and the sharpness of his jutting knuckles pressed against his heart.

 

 

 

 

some nights, yoongi dreams of jungkook.

he dreams of a blue sky and a still lake, of watching dragonflies hovering over clear water, as the warm breeze kisses his forehead and jungkook sings soft somethings to him. he dreams of melting popsicles and a checkered red and white picnic towel laid out on green grass, of words that were once unspoken being said by him and to him, of jungkook's fingers intertwining with his.

those dreams do not feel as much as dreams as they do as memories. memories of things that never were—things yoongi hopes will be, someday. 

some mornings, yoongi daydreams of jungkook.

he daydreams of a starless sky and wild waves, of watching a bonfire flicker with shades of red and yellow and orange, as the cold wind bites his cheeks and jungkook sings soft nothings to him. he daydreams of burned marshmallows and a stripped black and gray picnic towel laid out on beige sand, of truths that were once untold being said by him and to him, of jungkook's fingers letting go of his.

those daydreams do not feel as much as daydreams as they do as fears. fears of things that never were—things yoongi hopes will never be.

his sad reveries are frequently broken by texts or calls, all from the same number. yoongi holds his phone tight while jungkook tells him about busan, about the blue of the ocean, about the sun that makes the pavement scorch.

jungkook speaks and it's as heartwarming as hearing stories of your hometown that are long lost in time. as hearing secrets that belong only to the people who live there and to the people who do not live there but have lived once and miss there enough to come back—maybe, someday. secrets that are crafted by dialect and a shift to the voice and words that often only exist inside the borders of the city. 

and that's how jungkook happens to yoongi, most of the time: a slip of the tongue, a lilt to the tone, a pretty adjective that makes yoongi feel like he might as well be soaked in daegu sun.

yoongi thinks that it's a little weird for jungkook to feel like home when jungkook's home is not yoongi's own. when jungkook has never even been to yoongi's town—when he is the sea and the salt that do not quite reach daegu. 

but yoongi also thinks that home isn't limited to a place. that home isn't a fixed point in the linearity of his life. that maybe jungkook is a missing puzzle piece, filling out the fracture of what is home to yoongi that got lost when he moved to seoul.

the part of home yoongi lost when he packed up all the things he had into one stuffed backpack and two full suitcases—taking the most part of one of them, a clock that tells the time as well as yoongi's own flawed perception of it. when yoongi left everything he'd ever known until then with nothing but his heart etched on the lining of his sleeve, burying all his worries under the human hope that insisted on springing eternal around his lungs.

when yoongi carried his dreams on top of a hurt shoulder, his words under a tied tongue, his feelings beneath bruised knuckles. 

when yoongi left because he had so much to do, so much to say—and his words couldn't coexist with the daegu weather, with the disapproving looks of his parents. and his words didn't belong to that place, at that time.

when yoongi left because he just couldn't stay.

 

 

 

 

yoongi meets taehyung for coffee a week before jungkook comes back from busan.

taehyung sends him a text at the end of the afternoon, with too many emojis for too little sentences, saying that he's waiting in front of the company building and that yoongi needs to hurry because taehyung's really, really hungry and that he doesn't want to hear whether yoongi is too tired or just wanting to go home, since there's this super cool place taehyung found in a pamphlet pinned to one of the boards of the sociology building at uni, and he has to go there today and he has to go there with yoongi.

when he sees taehyung, he thinks of asking if taehyung isn't suffocating inside the sweater that is definitely too warm for a spring day, or what taehyung was doing in the sociology building, a place yoongi remembers to be a twenty minute walk away from the biology department. instead, yoongi chooses to leave his car parked on the street and hop on the back of taehyung's motorcycle, trying to delete the slight fear he has of it with the promise that the strawberry cake they sell there is really good. well, taehyung has a feeling it is. 

they get there in ten minutes of rushing their way under yellow traffic lights, of yoongi's heart trying to leap out of his mouth. but it's a nice cozy little place, the café, so yoongi thinks it was worth it. it's one of those establishments where there are no prices to anything—where the person has to decide how much the products are worth based on their own judgment and common sense.

yoongi pays more for an americano and a slice of cake than he usually would, but after two sips and one bite he thinks it still wasn't enough.

half an hour is spent with yoongi talking about the tracks he's producing, about this obscure indie movie he saw last week that he thinks taehyung will like. then, there's taehyung talking about baby lions, about the dog his professor took to class just yesterday.

somehow, the quiet, comfortable burn of their conversation sparks into wild flames and they're suddenly talking about life goals. taehyung speaks of how much he wants to go to africa and do some kind of research on meerkats.

yoongi worries at his bottom lip—he doesn't really know what to say.

because he's not quite sure about how to contribute to the topic, even though there's words and words lodged in the bottom of his throat. so yoongi just listens as taehyung rambles on and on, talking through kind eyes and tanned hands and chantilly-smeared lips. 

"—and then. well, then i don't know what i'm gonna do just yet, i think there's still a lot of time to choose. but it definitely involves living somewhere with a lot of a nature and a lot of dogs." 

yoongi hums in response. says, "and that somewhere is away from seoul?"

"possibly. well, probably," taehyung muses, taking another bite of cake. "i'd like to go back to daegu. maybe that somewhere is there. maybe it's my first home."

yoongi also thinks about going to daegu, sometimes. thinks about living there again. yoongi visits, but it never lasts longer than two weeks. hearing the easy way taehyung talks about home brings an odd feeling low in his stomach. makes yoongi wonder why it isn't that simple for him, too.

(but yoongi also knows that home is a bit different for everyone. knows that, though he wants to have it very badly, the home he's looking for will not be entirely found in the streets of daegu, in the swing that is still tied to a tree in the backyard of his parent's house.)

"i'll be happy for you, then. you and your dogs. i know you'll have a great life with them," yoongi says. means it. "though i'm gonna miss you, tae. if you go too far. don't wanna lose my partner in crime."

"you'll never lose me, hyung. i'm not that easy to get rid off, you know," there's a smirk playing on the corners of taehyung's lips. "i'm like a leech. or a really stubborn gum stain that never wipes away from you shirt."

"oh, okay. those metaphors are definitely—not very accurate, honestly. i think i'd like leeches and gum stains to go away. and i don't want you to go away. jungkookie doesn't know how to tell white lies. his bottom lip starts to tremble and he gets that sort of disembodied look on his face."

"i know. worry not, my hyung. i'll make sure to visit in wii nights and poker nights and board game nights. i'll also find someone nice and train them really well for whenever i can't make it."

yoongi knows no one will ever be able to understand him like taehyung does when it comes to cheating at games. he smiles at taehyung as if telling him how irreplaceable he is.

silence settles around them. the kind that is characteristic of seoul: a silence filled by little sounds—this time, they are the delicate clatter of plates, customer names being called. out of the need to fiddle with something, yoongi reaches out for the salt. he expects to find the metal of the lid, the glass of the container. he finds taehyung twining their fingers, instead. 

yoongi glances up. taehyung smiles, says:

"you just look like you need someone to hold your hand right now, hyung."

taehyung is looking at him with eyes so soft, holding him with a hand so warm—the only thing that yoongi can really do is tighten his grip.

 

 

 

 

jungkook comes back to seoul on a wednesday morning, two days before he was actually supposed to return.

yoongi is not expecting it, not at all. he's in the kitchen, making himself some coffee, the music that plays from his bluetooth speakers loud enough for him not to hear the sound of the door opening, the footsteps. it all results in him nearly yanking his forearm into the kettle when jungkook places his hand on the small of yoongi's back.

"fuck," yoongi hisses, turning around, heart speeding up at the thought of a possible break-in—he should be relieved, he thinks, the moment he sees it's just jungkook. and he is. but his heart still gets faster when he meets jungkook's eyes, instead of calming down like it should once yoongi realized he's not in any kind of death risk.

"hi, yoongi hyung," jungkook says and yoongi almost cries. he's not a very dramatic person, but there's something about hearing the voice of someone you've been missing a lot for the first time in a while—without any kind of technology involved, when you're not miles and miles away from them. 

yoongi takes a deep breath, the melodic sound of jungkook's voice ringing inside his head. 

"hi, kook," he says, finally. yoongi leans against the counter, tries to get a better look at jungkook. he's tanner than he was when he left, just a little bit. his hair is also different—it's dark pink again, the color very bright, looking soft. yoongi wants to run his fingers through it.

"i missed you," jungkook says, and he sound sad. it makes yoongi sad too. but the downturn of jungkook's lips and the little crease between his eyebrows quickly fade into a lazy smirk. "i mean, i missed that coffee you always make me. the one that's really sweet. with vanilla? i think i'm getting addicted to those," jungkook finishes, trying to smudge on his tone some kind of proof that he is always up to annoy yoongi, no matter how much he'd truly missed him.

those words end up not having that strong of an effect on yoongi, or maybe he is just that soft for jungkook, because he finds himself replying, almost immediately:

"i missed you too," yoongi hears his own voice very low. a weak mumble, feeling more like thought than speech, and for a second he wonders if he'd actually said it. but then jungkook smiles, and all yoongi can feel is the strain of his fingers, that are gripping tight the edges of the counter.

yoongi likes to see jungkook like this the most: in the spring, smiling big big big, very close to him, so near yoongi can almost taste the lavender of his shampoo. yoongi wants desperately to pull him close and grip him tight, like a teenager trying to hold on to the last weeks of summer—to live forever in the lethargic, warm afternoons that are sweet and lazy and feel like popsicles melting on the tongue.

because that's what jungkook feels like for him now that he's the epitome of sun and hours spent at the beach. like late summer, like the sun on his skin giving him a warm comfort, no longer hot enough to burn.

the metal of the kitchen counter feels cold against his palms, and jungkook seems so warm. yoongi is losing any kind of pressure his knuckles make, freeing his hands from the ninety degree angle they shape themselves into when jungkook steps close. closer. his hands find yoongi's waist, like they had done so many times before, enough for it to feel familiar, and it does. but still, yoongi feels like a match being lit. feels like dark coal lighting up very fast, sparks coming to life, warmth spreading like wildfire and making him feel alive, alive, alive.

yoongi reaches for jungkook's shoulder blades, places the flat of his hands over them, crumples the fabric of jungkook's shirt between his fingers. jungkook is solid, steady, like a good dream that has materialized—the way yoongi feels safe in his arms is familiar, too.

next, there's jungkook's chin in the nook of yoongi's neck. there's jungkook moving forward, and at the same time bringing yoongi near, so near. there's yoongi hitting a sharp edge, somewhere low in his back, a patch of skin and bone that starts to hurt a little. the ache goes almost unnoticed—jungkook's heart is loud, the beats of it so fast yoongi can feel their aftershocks hitting his own ribcage.

yoongi heaves a little sigh that feels like words on his tongue.

(yoongi wants to say, whisper close to his ear and also scream for the whole world to hear: i love you. love you like summer, all red and bright, and like spring, with the sun as warm as your skin and the breeze sounding like the way you sing to me. love you like fall, too, when everything is almost gone but so so beautiful. like winter, the end of it, when the flowers are all getting ready to bloom again.)

(yoongi says, whispers, screams nothing.)

jungkook lets him go, and yoongi doesn't even bother thinking about how much time they spent chest to chest. it always feels like forever and like no time at all. he grabs yoongi by the wrist, tries to pull him out of the kitchen, yoongi's body tries to go. but the kettle is hissing and, luckily, yoongi still has half a mind to turn off the stove. when there's no hazard of setting off the apartment's fire alarm, yoongi looks at jungkook, tilts his head, moves his chin towards the living room—all in that wordless kind of conversation that works so well for the both of them.

once they're sitting on the couch, facing each other, jungkook gives him a little red box tied closed with a bow that is close to falling apart.

yoongi is somewhat confused, brows furrowing in surprise.

"that's the gift i say i'd get you. from busan," jungkook explains, looking down at his lap and stealing brief glances at yoongi, who alternates between staring at the gift and at the way jungkook mindlessly plays with the hoops of his earlobes, a habit that tells he's a bit nervous. a little fact about him that, in this particular moment, makes yoongi a bit nervous too. 

yoongi starts opening the box, undoing what's left of the bow, his fingers careful even though there's no need for them to be.

when he removes the lid, he finds a bracelet: a delicate little thing made of black and white stones. yoongi has seen this kind of bracelet before. it looks a lot like jungkook's. it's the sort that is sold at seaside stores, or even at the beach, ones that are handmade and usually don't come in pretty boxes. the dull colors contrast against the baby pink velvet cloth—another small detail. tiny things that show jungkook thought about it more than he had to. it makes yoongi feel special.

(jungkook makes yoongi feel special.)

"the guy who i bought it from told me it has, like. magical properties or something. it keeps the bad stuff away," jungkook finally looks up at yoongi for good, his eyes big and brown and bright, the weight of them on yoongi's face way more heavy and nice than the previous quick glances. yoongi smiles and jungkook mirrors him. "the black ones are volcanic stones. i don't remember the name of the white ones but he told me they're supposed to have a calming effect? the guy was really convincing and maybe that's all bullshit, but it's nice to think they work. it's just like the one i own."

the last word jungkook speaks is followed by a sudden yawn, his hand coming up to cover his nose. it's a weird, odd jungkook thing that yoongi never really understood, and when he asked jungkook about it he looked just as confused and spent the following week running to the closest mirror whenever he felt the urge to yawn. it's also one of yoongi's favorite jungkook things. seeing jungkook doing it after a month of not seeing jungkook at all feels like a nice kind of sucker-punch to the heart.

yoongi picks up the bracelet from its velvet bed, slides it on his wrist. the stones that lightly scrape his skin feel like tiny thunders, sending jolts of electricity all the way to his spine. yoongi twists it around, presses the unnamed white ones down on his pulse. as his cheeks start to ache from the smile that grows bigger, yoongi wonders what is it about love that makes people exaggerate and dramatize. 

after a too-long pause, yoongi says, "you know, tae and namjoon got really close to making me believe in some fucked up conspiracy theories. i think i can give your bracelet guy a chance."

jungkook laughs, just a little, and it's probably the thing yoongi missed the most—the way his nose scrunches and his shoulders shake, moving up and down like shy waves. but then jungkook takes him by the wrist, forces open the nearly-closed fist yoongi was unconsciously doing, and starts tracing the lines of his palm with his index finger. and, maybe, that's what yoongi really missed the most: jungkook's hands touching his.

"you can fidget with it. you're always touching this part of your bone here," jungkook turns yoongi's hand around, presses his thumb on yoongi's protruding bone, the one that sometimes feel like a getaway—a button that shuts down his messy thoughts for a bit, that takes him a little closer to himself.

it feels nice to see that jungkook notices some of yoongi's small habits, too, just like yoongi notices jungkook's. 

"yeah, i guess i am," yoongi says, eyes fixed on the bracelet, on the dozens of little moons, tiny craters in each one of them. the volcanic stones are cold against his colder skin, but the warmth that comes from jungkook, be it either literal or metaphorical, is so strong that yoongi still feels like burning up. "thank you, kookie."

"'s nothing, hyung," jungkook replies, voice soft. yoongi is still looking down, watching the way jungkook taps the back of his hand with all five fingers, slowly and rhythmically, as if playing a beginner’s song on the piano. then, the quiet waltz he makes fades from view—yoongi hears jungkook yawn again, looks up fast and there it is: jungkook's hand covering his nose. a fond feeling sparks right under yoongi's ribcage and spreads all over.

after that, jungkook stands up. he sounds drowsy as says he'll go to his room and get some sleep, since he doesn't have any classes for the rest of the day and he couldn't get any rest the previous night knowing it would be his last one in busan.

through the rest of the day, yoongi's mind is the shelter of many thoughts:

yoongi thinks of all the notes meant for jungkook that he wrote on the back of his hand, up his forearms. of black ink and pale skin, of being lovesick in secret.

(i had dinner with hoseok and jin hyung. third-wheeling is boring without you there. we ate chicken. seok-seok and i pulled the wishbone and i got the longer piece. i used to believe in it, but i'm starting to think that what they say about the luck it has isn't true, because you didn't text me for the rest of the night.) 

he thinks of this old, timeless notion of home that is made of kind, motherly eyes, of cold ivory under the pads of his thumbs.

(coffee and vanilla cake, knee bones jutting out, an old brown piano, slender fingers running through his hair. a sick day, skipping class, cold sheets against his fever skin, the taste of tylenol, heartfelt lullabies.)

thinks of this new, infinite notion of home that is being made of veiny, beautiful hands, of the sharp lines that frame jungkook's face.

(lavender, the sound of the rain hitting the window, woolen blankets, a laugh that rings deep inside. warm hands and cold rings, cotton candy, the shutter of a camera, flower petals scattered over morning-sky blue sheets, french fries.)

through the rest of day, his body is the shelter of many things:

in his heart, a name. along with it, two four-letter words, of the same vowels and different consonants—ones that yoongi is starting to see as synonyms.

in his stomach, butterflies. and also, looking sad and gray and all sorts of bittersweet, the consequences brought by the beauty of them—the inevitable hurricane that will eventually come with the flap of their wings.

 

 

 

 

the end of spring brings rain. brings a chilly weather that is not fall-cold but is bold enough for the wind to whistle all over seoul, for the weak sun to soak the days of the in-between seasons in a rose-colored gloom.

yoongi feels good. feels mostly good. jungkook is by his side when the morning starts and when the night ends, doe-eyed and pink-haired. the days melt like popsicles, all over his hands. yoongi works on new songs, and he really likes them as they turn out. he goes out with taehyung to their coffee shop, and one wednesday seokjin comes along too, and he keeps talking about how everything in there is priceless, quite literally. he hangs out with jungkook the most—it feels like they're the closest they'd ever been.

yoongi does know he has something to find. knows he has feelings that have been taking shape, growing stronger inside of him. but for the last of the season, yoongi presses them hard towards the core of his heart, trying to ignore the fact that they will try to break free anytime soon.

(every time jungkook smiles at him, yoongi wishes he could love louder. a little louder. just loud enough for jungkook to hear—clearly, without getting some of the nuances of this love lost in space.)

two days before summer, yoongi makes a memory that will shine star-bright when he looks back at it in the future.

it's a late afternoon, friday, and he and jungkook are at the new ice cream shop near their apartment, a place they've been visiting pretty much every day after work is done and classes are over. jungkook is making it a point to try all the one hundred and five flavors they have, and today's is peach. he likes it a lot—it shows in the tiny whimper sounds that fall out of lips. yoongi tries the lemon one and finds he's not too fond of it, too acidic. he keeps wondering how sweet it would taste if he reached over the table and placed his mouth on top of jungkook's during the entirety of his soft serve.

when they're heading out, it starts to rain—hard. it's sudden: the sky was gray since morning, but it wasn't really dark. not the there's a downpour coming kind of dark. for a little while, they stand by the glass doors, side by side. yoongi glances at jungkook: he has his bottom lip between his teeth, his eyes look up and down as if thinking how drenched they will get if they just go for it, run all the way back to their apartment. it's the best option, really. they've got no phones, no bags with them. so—jungkook's apparent idea isn't really sudden.

the thing is: running home isn't what jungkook has in mind, not at all.

jungkook's face is so lovely when he asks, "dance in the rain with me, hyung?"

and—with a choked-out whisper of yes, yoongi agrees.

jungkook grabs him by the hand, laces their fingers, opens the door. they go out, get instantly damp, damper, soaked. they walk a little, jungkook guiding the way—he stops when the sidewalk gets a little larger, so people can walk by them with no problems. 

jungkook places his hands on yoongi's waist, starts waltzing from side to side, moving yoongi along with him. it's so odd—there isn't any song playing, none of them is making the effort of humming some sort of melody, the world is nearly falling apart around them. but still—jungkook sways and yoongi sways, too. jungkook looks at him and yoongi looks at jungkook back.

jungkook parts his lips, mouths a word, once then again—the rain is too loud, yoongi can't know if he's actually making any sound. but he knows this: jungkook molds his lips to the form of yoongi's name.

there, yoongi feels as if his chest is a little torn open, baring a bit of his heart for the world to see. for jungkook to see—he could take a look inside and catch a glimpse of a moving, wild little thing that is beating specially fast right now, in complete contrast with the gentle, deliberate way they move.

tearing him apart a little further, making his heart more exposed, jungkook would see all the things that mean so much to yoongi. things that go way back, like sweater-pawed hands over piano keys, or the patterned image of a basketball bouncing on the pavement, or a cuckoo clock that still works almost perfectly. and also, ones that belong to the present: a black and white bracelet, a pile of polaroids that only increases in size, twined fingers.

in that nearly empty street, yoongi finds new things to add to the ones that already take a good part of his heart.

things yoongi wants to remember, forever: a storm he's not afraid of, slow dancing to no song. jungkook's hand on his own, on his waist, on his cheekbone. his name, shaped soundless, on jungkook's lips.

 

 

 

 

yoongi knows it will be a bad day when he first wakes up in the morning—closes his hands into fists and rubs the sleep out of his eyes, senses the start of a headache forming in the back of them.

it's the beginning of summer. sunday, a lazy one, and yoongi has nothing much to do. it's early july but it feels like late december—like one of the days between christmas and the new year, when the winter has just arrived in an extremely bold way, made mostly of gray skies and lonely last-hour trips and snow-jammed roads.

yoongi sits on his bed, brings the blanket high up to his neck and tries to curl small against the headboard. the sunlight hits the window, a gentle and yellow glow, but yoongi feels as if he's staring at a glass that is starting to freeze. everything is blurry, nearly frozen, but not the good type, the very sweet and very cold juice on a hot summer day type of nearly frozen. it's the bad kind. the i'm sick and tired and all of my family is at another town, waiting for me, who is stuck in the middle of nowhere for at least ten more hours.

he feels as if he's alone, inside of a car, the heater trying to warm him up and not being able to bring him any warmth—leaving him with purple lips and knuckles that feel like they can crack as if they were ice.

yoongi feels alone but he doesn't want to feel alone anymore. so he gets up, walks to his door, tries to find jungkook.

jungkook.

it's always jungkook lately.

it's all jungkook jungkook jungkook, the repeating of his name echoing incessantly inside yoongi's head, inside his heart—at this point, yoongi doesn't really mind it. tries not to. the name brings love along with it, this feeling that is both gentle and strong settling right beneath his ribs, whispering low like the ocean breeze at night: one word, one name, over and over and over.

yoongi is told to find jungkook—also, to find tied to jungkook's hands, tangled around his little finger, the promise of something yoongi has been searching for lately.

so—yoongi does. he finds jungkook.

jungkook isn't in his room, lying on top of his bed like a starfish, sleeping soundly and dreaming of something nice. no, he's in the balcony, sitting at the swing chair they have there, sitting all wrong—elbows on his knees, his back far from where it's supposed to be. the chair moves lightly, and jungkook's feet remain glued to the same spot on the ground. 

yoongi's found him, but jungkook's hasn't found yoongi yet—he's staring at the city, eyes a little distant. his mind must be a little distant, too. yoongi steps closer and closer, tries to make no secret of his presence, his footsteps loud against the wooden tiles.

the sunlight on the porch seems brighter. yoongi wonders if it's because his window turns to a different direction, of if it's just jungkook, making everything glow more, feel less frozen.

(it's probably jungkook.)

(it always is.)

the louder-than-usual footsteps aren't enough to take jungkook away from his haze. the sound the glass door makes when yoongi hits his shoulder on it isn't what it takes, either. just as yoongi is about to call jungkook's name, the wind gets a little braver, makes the chimes that hang from the ceiling move and sing and—and.

jungkook finds yoongi.

"morning, hyung," jungkook says, looking at him with one eye closed. jungkook's hair is sleep-messed and the collar of his shirt is loose, showing collarbones. yoongi gets a funny feeling in his hands.

"morning, kook," he says back, sits on a chair, a regular one. "slept well?"

"yeah," jungkook straightens his back, makes his voice a little kinder, "you?"

yoongi doesn't answer. he can't really remember if he slept well or not—the hours of dawn are a blur in his memory. yoongi thinks that not remembering is worse than having clear images of the worst nightmare. it feels like something is missing. yoongi is tired of missing things. 

still, jungkook looks at him, expectant. he cares so much about tiny things. things that seem tiny but are really not.

"what were you thinking about?" yoongi asks, for the lack of a proper response. 

"i was thinking—" jungkook starts, stops, looks up at the blue sky, squints a little bit. "this balcony. it looks. kind of colorless? too black and white. we could put some plants in here, some flowers. it's summer now."

"it is," yoongi replies, voice steady as if he's speaking a truth—and he is. it just doesn't feel like a truth to him, on this particular day. because he's always happier when it's warm. his heart is more full, has a little more weight to it in the summertime. right now, all the space inside his ribcage seems to be filled by nothing but air, weightless. the smile he tries to plaster on his face must make him look like he's inside a family christmas photo he didn't want to take.

and jungkook—jungkook. he looks like the very epitome of summer. bright eyes and pink lips and the little kisses the sun left on his skin still pretty visible. "i think flowers would be nice. i don't really know if i can care for them, though. you'd have a lot of work," yoongi says.

jungkook hums pensively. a couple of quiet minutes pass, the light that overcasts them turns a little brighter. jungkook's hair glistens under it, like a ripe cherry. yoongi stares and stares, and jungkook keeps his gaze away, looking to the other side of the balcony, probably already thinking of the best way to arrange the flower pots. he doesn't seem to notice the weight of yoongi's eyes on him. yoongi feels trapped in a sad sort of secret, in the silent night—feels like a teenager stealthily throwing pebbles on the window of a lover that has gone away for the weekend.

jungkook doesn't seem to notice him, until—he does.

yoongi doesn't look away. he's caught in his secret, and jungkook is now sort of caught in it too, even if just for a little while, and it's okay. for a moment, it feels like summer again.

yoongi's heart is like the ocean at night, restless and a little warm, when jungkook says:

"you can, hyung. you might think you don't, but you have a way of taking care of things," there's a little smile on the corner of his mouth that doesn't go away when he speaks. a little smile, lopsided, unwavering. "taking care of me."

jungkook's eyes are still on him. bright and gentle and making yoongi believe every word he says. yoongi looks down at his thighs, at his hands resting overlapped on top of his legs—at his wrist, the right one, where the heart jungkook drew on him last night is. faded, a little, but there. their initials are written inside of it. yoongi has managed not to think too much of it, until now.

those letters, in jungkook's handwriting, the tone of jungkook's voice when he says those heartfelt type of things to yoongi—it all makes him want to say something. and he does want to, but at the same time he doesn't trust himself to say something without saying everything. without letting the bits of his secret he hasn't shown to jungkook yet pour out of his lips. 

jungkook grabs yoongi's wrist, touches the inner part of it, where there's purple veins trying to pull the skin tight. he traces carefully the outline of the permanent marker heart, the pressure of his finger smudging a little of black ink, making the edges blurry and gray. 

"i'll teach you," jungkook's thumb presses on yoongi's pulse point, then goes back to the heart, stops there, presses harder—as if that little thing is a promise, something he wants yoongi to keep forever. "i mean, i don't really know how to take care of flowers, too. but we can learn. you and me."

yoongi likes the idea—choosing the prettiest vases, trying to figure out how to do everything right, together. making a small mess on their balcony, the sun warming their skin, splattering dirt on the floor, fresh and brown like soil after the rain. then, waiting for the flowers to grow, getting a nice feeling of accomplishment when they're in full bloom.

yoongi thinks it'd be nice to care for something with jungkook by his side. so he asks: 

"what do you think about tulips?" jungkook's smile is all the answer he needs.

the morning goes on. jungkook goes out and doesn't come back until noon, something about meeting taehyung at a dog café. he asks yoongi if he wants to come with. yoongi says he doesn't, that he's too tired and should try to get some more sleep. he rolls around on top of his sheets for three hours and regrets not going.

the afternoon goes on, too, and the sun keeps shining and yoongi keeps feeling all wrong and crumpled—like an origami paper folded over and over by a child that can't stop changing their mind. like he started out to be a rose, turned into a little boat, ended up as a crooked crane made of too-feeble paper.

it's around 8 p.m. when yoongi feels the closest to bursting. the emotions that have been piling up inside of him through the whole day, the whole week, the whole month, even, suddenly seem too much for him to handle—standing out like a sore wrist in the middle of it all, there's confusion. confusion as to why he's feeling the way he is. everything is good. everything is really good. jungkook came back a little after five, and since then they have been cuddled up on yoongi's bed, blankets on their laps, the air-con freezing the room and giving it a fall-like atmosphere.

jungkook's head is resting on his shoulder and his hair smells like lavender; jungkook's fingers are circling his wrist and the warmth that comes from his palm is enough to dull the chill of the bedroom. everything should feel okay, but—it just doesn't.

at first, yoongi can't understand why. he sits there, being kind of grounded by jungkook's presence, watching a movie, then two movies that pass in a blur of laughter and bright colors on the screen, and then—then it all clicks. 

it's jungkook. 

(it always is.)

yoongi has always been honest. too honest. but when it comes to jungkook, he's been keeping away too much. he's spent a long time with his heart up to his teeth, trying to break free from the cage made by his closed lips. too long hiding the brightest part of the love he has for jungkook under the skin of his knuckles, managing to block the shine of it whenever they held hands. this slow gnawing sensation he's been feeling all day—it's just the result of those locked up feelings.

maybe yoongi is one sleepy wink away from letting all the words that are inside of him overflow.

and, maybe, that's exactly what should happen.

the credits start to roll on the screen. yoongi feels the pull of every sigh he's ever heaved weighting down his lungs.

he must've made some sort of sound, because jungkook raises his head from the soft pillow of yoongi hoodie-covered shoulder, looks at him with one eye closed.

(the words linger under yoongi's tongue like a hard candy.)

"you look sad today, hyung," he asks, the worry clear in his careful tone. "are you good?"

"i just," yoongi doesn't feel good—he feels all blunt edges, jagged and worn, tearing apart all over, already torn at the very center. he's wearing thin, ready to break. he just doesn't know if this feeling has a name. doesn't know how to describe it without making jungkook aware of the reason behind it. "i'm just feeling kinda of lost. lonely, i guess?"

jungkook tilts his head, pouts, says, "what about my company?" 

"not that kind of lonely," yoongi says, words nearly whispered. he tries to think of a good way to explain it, but there's really no good way to do so. he doesn't want to just blurt out, being close to you is making me lonely and sort of sad because i don't feel close enough, not the way i want to be. those words are a confusing mess inside of him. they fill out his lungs like cotton. he doesn't want to recklessly throw them to jungkook, not like this. "it's not really something physical. it's more—emotional? i don't know." 

jungkook looks as confused as yoongi feels.

"isn't all loneliness kind of emotional?" he asks. yoongi gives him a lazy shrug. it makes sense—it would explain why during the first months he moved from daegu, with no friends, no nothing he knew in seoul, yoongi used to feel so alone in a city that is so crowded. "so, you're the heart kind of lonely?"

"heart?" yoongi asks, needlessly. he knows what jungkook is talking about, knows how to catch the meanings of his weirdly-phrased sentences—he hasn't been with anyone, not seriously, since he moved in with jungkook. so it's fair for jungkook to assume yoongi is the heart kind of lonely. still, he asks, "what do you mean?"

"you know what i mean," jungkook says and glances down, at yoongi's lips—it's brief, unbearably so. for a moment, yoongi wonders if he's been loving jungkook loud enough for him to feel the part of this love yoongi has tried to keep hidden. for more than a moment, yoongi hopes he has. "you should also know, hyung, that you don't have to be lonely," jungkook's gaze is back up. "you don't have to be any kind of lonely."

"it feels hard to know that sometimes."

"they'd be the luckiest person in the world," jungkook continues, and yoongi wants to correct him: i would be the luckiest, if they were you. "whoever is able to take you heart-loneliness away. and i know that it doesn't fix everything, but—"

jungkook keeps talking. he talks and talks and, at some point, yoongi stops listening. the cotton keeps piling up inside his lungs, pushing hard against his ribcage. it's there, pressing against his palate, sticking to his teeth, what yoongi tried to maintain unsaid for too long, and it's too much, too much

"i love you, kook," yoongi interrupts him, words trying to run over each other, syllables shaped like badly folded cranes, the corners of them that are still a little sharp paper-cutting yoongi's lips.

"i love you too, hyung," jungkook replies, so surely.

something inside yoongi just breaks.

"no. no, i love you like—i’m in love with you. i'm in love with you and it hurts. it hurts to keep this feeling all trapped inside of me," yoongi speaks fast fast fast, his lisp becoming evident in some of the words, and he doesn't really register what he's saying. he just looks at jungkook's eyes, bright and fixed on yoongi's own. he looks at jungkook and the words come rushing again like a flood, "it hurts wanting to hold your hand this much. i don't like not being honest with myself, and with you too, and i haven't been showing all my love, not properly—"

"hyung—"

"—i wish i could love a little louder, just a little—"

yoongi's voice dies in his throat. he knows there's still so much to be said, but it seems like the cotton has reached up past his tongue. jungkook is looking at him, so so gently. yoongi looks at jungkook too, with a burning feeling in the back of his eyes, the telltale of tears. yoongi waits, tries to make his breathing more steady. waits for something—for the confirmation that everything he's been hiding, everything he's been feeling, is being felt back. for the kindest rejection. for anything but silence. yoongi waits for what must've been no more than a minute, feeling like an hour, and then—

jungkook reaches out for yoongi's hand, wraps fingers around yoongi's wrist—his thumb presses down on the one jutting bone and everything is so familiar. it gets a little harder to hold the tears. jungkook's guides yoongi's hand towards his chest, the left side of it.

yoongi's palm, over jungkook's heart.

“hyung, hear it.”

yoongi can't hear it. he can feel it, though. erratic beats, right against his love line.

“it’s beating fast," yoongi says, voice the same as the heart under his hand—unsteady. jungkook lets go of yoongi's wrist, presses his palm over yoongi's knuckles, adds more pressure. yoongi can feel the beats even more.

“it’s talking too," jungkook keeps phrasing his words in this weird manner of his. it increases yoongi's fondness and confusion in a balanced ratio.

“i don’t speak heart, jungkook,” yoongi intends to add a low chuckle after his words, but it gets caught somewhere in his throat, and comes out more like a sob. that's when he notices his cheeks are wet. he's crying, and jungkook is there right next to him, not speaking clearly, and that's not what yoongi needs right now, that's not—

“well, i do. i do and-and—" jungkook stops. drops his hand. shifts on the couch, gets closer—yoongi remains still, jungkook's heart the complete opposite. "my heart—my heart's saying that i’m in love with you too.”

there's things jungkook does differently. small habits—covering his nose when he yawns, closing one eye when he's sleepy. when he does those little things, yoongi falls in love a bit more. right now, after jungkook has given him a confession made of repeated words, of his need to make things more extra—yoongi thinks he might have fallen in love all the way. 

"i'm in love with you," yoongi says again, staying true to what he's feeling. he raises his hand from jungkook's shirt, from his heart—his fingers trace a path, feather-light, from jungkook's collarbones to his neck to the side of his jaw. jungkook closes his eyes, leans into the touch, and he looks so beautiful as he does it that yoongi thinks it might all be a mirage. "you know that, right? you know now."

"i know, hyung. i always knew," jungkook turns his head a little to the side, kisses yoongi's wrist—his lips are soft when they touch the faded heart. "i just thought you knew about me too."

any remaining worry yoongi had washes away like sidewalk chalk drawings during the summer rain.

jungkook gives another kiss to his pulse point and yoongi thinks about the bracelet he brought him from busan. jungkook kisses yoongi's knuckles, each one of them, and yoongi remembers jungkook sleeping on the couch, waiting for him to come back from work. jungkook wraps an arm around yoongi's waist and brings him near, until they're chest to chest, heart close to heart—yoongi has memories flood his mind, dozens of them. memories of all the little quiet ways jungkook has been loving him. has been in love with him.

yoongi wonders why it took him so long to truly notice. to understand all of jungkook's love.

"can i kiss you?" jungkook asks, and he's so close. yoongi can see the shadows his eyelashes cast under his eyes. can see the little mole under his bottom lip. jungkook's neck is warm under his palm. "hyung, can i kiss you now?"

"yeah—" yoongi's voice is muffled by jungkook's mouth against his. it's slow. careful, like they're just learning a new thing about each other, and they kind of are. so—minutes pass, and they kiss and kiss and kiss, and yoongi learns. he learns about those soft whimpers jungkook makes whenever yoongi traps his lips between his teeth. learns about the way jungkook holds him tighter whenever yoongi lets out whimpers of his own. 

after some time, yoongi's heart is erratic, his skin is hot, his face is probably red. jungkook pulls away, just a bit, whispers right onto yoongi's skin:

"you love loud enough, hyung," a kiss to the cheekbone. another to the forehead. "loud enough for me to hear."

still too fresh in yoongi's mind: the day jungkook's love was, maybe, the loudest. the end of spring, an ice cream shop, a sudden storm. slow dancing, the sound of jungkook calling for him muted by the rain.

"say my name," yoongi asks, a little breathless, for the thing he didn't get to hear that day. "jungkook, say my name."

"hyung. yoongi hyung," jungkook's voice is raspy, kiss-tired. "yoongi. yoongi. yoongi—" he says it quietly, then not so quietly, tone a crescendo, getting bold just like the tingly feeling yoongi gets inside the chest every time jungkook repeats his name. "i love you, yoongi hyung."

"i love you too, kook," yoongi says—yoongi smiles, and he has a feeling he will keep smiling until his cheeks hurt. jungkook leans in, once more, pecks the corner of yoongi's mouth. he loosens the grip he had on yoongi's waist, searches for his hand, finds it, holds it.

yoongi looks down at blue sheets, and he swears he can see daisy petals, messy and white, all over them. he looks at jungkook's fingers intertwined with his, at the nice contrast made by the silver and gold of their rings. 

yoongi thinks of how jungkook feels like—

lullabies that are whispered softly, the highest c of the piano. the best secret of the heart. knowing how small you are for the world, staying at peace with it. understanding, being understood

—home.

jungkook feels a lot like home.

 

 

 

 

yoongi is running late again. he still doesn't know how to deal with time quite right. doesn't think he'll ever know—and it's okay. 

when yoongi finally gets to the diner, he walks through the door and down to the very back of the room where there's a loud tiny chaos. he doesn't have to call jungkook's name to get his attention. there's doe eyes already focused on him. 

it's like it always is: dramatic, though yoongi hates to admit it. he spends hours and hours without seeing jungkook's face, without hearing his voice, without being a witness to one of the dozens jungkook things that make yoongi love him even more. then, when he's finally close to jungkook again, the rest of the world fades from view, from sound. sure, he can kind of hear taehyung's deep voice giving out random animal facts to everyone in the table, namjoon being the only one who's actually paying attention. and he can see the way seokjin is clapping his hands in an exaggerated manner as he chews on what must be exceptionally good food, given the diner's usual quality.

he can hear and see the bright, loud image of his friends just being them, but at the same time, he kind of can't.

because right there is jungkook, dressed in black and white in the middle of all shades of a rainbow, standing up from his seat and walking fast towards him. he's the only spot on the canvas that has yet to be colored, and yoongi is the artist who gives him his full attention. 

sooner than yoongi expected jungkook to cross the half room that keeps them apart—he already has no such thing as a good perception of time, maybe his perception of space is deteriorating as well—jungkook is there, in front of him, cheeks pink and hair a little messy.

yoongi opens his mouth to say hello, or i missed you, or some other combination of words that carry, between the space of their letters, just how much in love he really is. but before he can say anything, he has a face full of the soft material of jungkook's sweater. the smell of fabric softener tickles his nose, making the situation less romantic than it'd usually be. he stands very still as jungkook closes his arms around him, a gentle sort of chokehold around his waist, and whispers really close to his ear: 

"hi, my love," just like jungkook himself, jungkook's voice stands out in the cacophony of other sounds.

time, once again, proves to pick jungkook's side over yoongi's, because yoongi has none of it to say anything back before he is being raised from the ground, the hands that were gripping his waist tight now holding him by the back of his thighs. yoongi lets out a muted scream.

it's natural, how his arms find their way to jungkook's shoulders; how jungkook seems to be so strong and careful and sure when he hoists yoongi up higher—and yoongi isn't afraid, not even for a millisecond, that jungkook will accidentally drop him. he holds him as if he's very used to carrying yoongi around like this, even though yoongi doesn't remember ever being in this particular position before.

it's been a couple months and yoongi keeps adding items to the list of things about jungkook he didn't know before—things of the past, that had some sort of influence on the kind of person jungkook is today. like how he got the scar on his cheek, or that he used to be very scared of the sea when he was little. and other things, tiny details don't really mean a lot, but are still nice to notice. like how jungkook has a habit of bumping their noses lightly before he kisses yoongi, or the way his name sounds in the shape of jungkook's moans.

but, most importantly, he's noticed that no matter how much he knows about jungkook, jungkook will always find a way to surprise him, to sweep him off his feet—sometimes, literally.

"kook, put me down," yoongi says, not really meaning it. he finds that he likes it, having jungkook hold him up high, so that he's suddenly feeling a lot taller. he likes staring at jungkook from this angle, having to crane his neck down. when jungkook tilts his chin up, the lines of his jaw seem sharper. under the weak yellow lights of the diner, his eyes look full of star-shine and moonbeams.

he likes it, but still—he maybe likes to tease jungkook a bit more.

jungkook likes to tease him just as much.

"no," jungkook's voice is daring, his tone sounding like a challenge. he bounces yoongi up a bit, for emphasis.

jungkook laughs, a small, bubbly sound that tingles yoongi's spine. from up here, yoongi thinks, the world doesn't seem as big and overwhelming as it really is—and yoongi gets the feeling he believes a kitten gets when it learns to jump and climb things for the first time, an innocent sense of invincibleness that makes yoongi the best kind of confused.

(from up here, in his arms, i feel safe.

"i'm getting angry," yoongi tries to put as much bite in the sentence as he can muster, but the smile that is trying to tug on his lips is most likely transparent in his voice, on his face. "see?" next, yoongi pouts, furrows his brows—actions that prove to be much more difficult than they should.

"i don't see," jungkook says, shakes his head, eyes blown wide wide wide. "you seem happy to me. that's great, because i'm happy too."

jungkook smiles. first, it's gentle: close-lipped, a small pull on the corners. then, it grows and blooms, but it doesn't stop being gentle, though it gets bold: a smile made of subtle overbite and pretty pink and the tiny mole jungkook has under his bottom lip. the whole world lights up. yoongi gets hit with a terribly nice sense of deja-vu. thinks, i've seen this before. hopes, i'll see this again and again and again. 

"i can be happy and angry at the same time," yoongi says, squeezing jungkook's shoulders, the leather jacket under his fingers crumpled and black, the skin of his knuckles stretched and white.

jungkook starts moving, then, towards the table—their table. yoongi looks over his own shoulder to find his friends gawking at them like smiling hawks. he moves his head from left to right to left. there's not a lot of people in the diner, there usually isn't, and the ones who are there don't seem to care that he's koala-hugging his boyfriend, who's ambling dramatically to the back of the room like the floor is some sort of makeshift catwalk. the only ones who are giving them their attention are the ones yoongi really wants attention from, the ones he cares about the most. 

yoongi stares at the receding figure of the front door, the glimpses he gets of moving cars and bright lights through the glass panels getting blurrier with the distance. yoongi leans down a bit so he can whisper to jungkook, before they get to their table—whisper words that are real and have meaning and feel light on the tongue:

"i'm really happy, kook," yoongi's lips brush the shell of jungkook's ear. he slides his hands down from jungkook's shoulders to his back, overlaps them, presses his thumb on the little bone of his wrist. yoongi feels grounded—overwhelmed with every feeling that lives inside of him, but this time, he's not afraid to drown in them. he accepts them, lets them fall over him like a downpour.

it feels nice. feels even better when jungkook speaks loudly:

"i just hope we'll always be happy together, hyung," the last word comes with a tug on yoongi's heartstrings and with a halt of jungkook's feet. they stand, by the table—yoongi can hear taehyung cooing at them, and hoseok's protests of jin hyung, you never do that to me.

he thinks the time has come for jungkook to put him down—but jungkook doesn't. he stands there, motionless, smiling up at yoongi, who mirrors him as he wonders if jungkook's arms aren't getting sore. apparently, they're not, because jungkook makes a show of turning around and swirling and swaying, and by the time he finally sets him back on the ground, yoongi's head is spinning like weathervanes on a windy day.

yoongi sits, being very careful not to trip and fall, on one of the empty chairs. jungkook sits right beside him, promptly throwing an arm on the back of yoongi's seat. the bubble of quiet and whispers they were trapped in bursts very quickly as they find themselves between the loudness of hoseok and taehyung.

there's barely any time to say hi to everyone before hoseok pretty much throws himself on top of jungkook, his body twisted in an emphasized display of flexibility. just looking at him gives yoongi back pain.

jungkook lets out a loud yelp of surprise, and yoongi could bet hoseok's elbow on his stomach gets the blame for such sound. hoseok looks up apologetically, seems to think better of it and untwists his way back to his own chair—only to stand up, walk towards yoongi and place a hand on his shoulder as he shoves something right in yoongi's face, so close his vision can't focus.

yoongi wills his hand away with a light flick on the wrist. turns around on his chair, so he can see hoseok better. jungkook's arm hasn't moved away from their spot, even with the whole commotion.

the first thing he sees is the yellow of hoseok's fluffy sweater, the color of a sunflower in the sunset. then, almost as bright, hoseok' smile. lastly, between his thin fingers, a wishbone. yoongi doesn't know how he got it: there's nothing but fries and hamburgers and sodas on the table. he decides not to ask.

"hyung," hoseok says, waving the bone in the air with careful fingers, like it's a precious thing that might break if he moves it too fast—and it is something that might break, something that's supposed to break. but not yet. it has the right moment, just like everything else. in some weird way, knowing this makes yoongi understand time a little better. "do you wanna? i'm feeling good about this tonight, i really am."

yoongi says nothing, just puts his hand up, and in no time his fingers are curled around one half of the bone.

his eyes are focused on hoseok, on the smile turning to a confident smirk. he doesn't see jungkook raise his arm from the chair, place his palm on the curve of yoongi's shoulder, his index finger going under his sweater, pressing down on the protrusion of his collarbone, skin on skin. jungkook's grin is hardly discernible in his peripheral vision, from how unwavering his eyes are on hoseok's. but the warmth is there, still. there's challenge written in the dark of hoseok's pupils, and yoongi wonders for a moment when did all his friends get so competitive about everything. the confidence hoseok has is nearly palpable, nearly intimidating, but yoongi is feeling really good about this tonight, too.

everything has the right moment.

and this is it.

yoongi pulls the wishbone, again.

the scene paints itself the same way it did months ago, though it's a lot more colorful this time: hoseok gets the smaller piece. realizes it instantly. pouts, because it's the kind of thing that gives people a brief pang of disappointment, whether they're believers or not—hoseok is definitely one. yoongi gets the longer piece. takes two seconds to realize it. grins, because it's the kind of thing that inevitably brings a smile to people's faces, whether they're believers on not—yoongi most likely isn't.

but it's kind of hard not to believe in luck when he's in love with a whole jeon jungkook who loves him back just as much, just the same—a boy so soft-spoken and soft-hearted, gentle and kind and sweet to the point that yoongi's teeth ache.

from his left, jungkook repeats, words in an urgent current: make a wish, hyung, fast. yoongi doesn't. he drops what's left of the wishbone on the table, turns to the side, holds jungkook's face between his hands and kisses him right on the mouth. yoongi holds the luck he got from causality close to his heart, but he keeps the promise of a wish for a rainy day—he feels like he has everything he needs right now, right here. 

later, after they get back to their apartment, jungkook will pick him up again. he will press yoongi against the wall as they kiss, unhurriedly, the cuckoo clock not making a sound, as if to let them know that they have all the time in the world. 

later, yoongi will tell jungkook that he loves him in every sort of way, but loves him like summer the most, all warm and endless. jungkook will laugh—will say that he doesn't understand but kind of does, that summer isn't endless but kind of is, and that he loves yoongi as well, so much.

later, they'll hold hands as they fuck slow, and jungkook will tell him how his kisses taste like sugar and how good yoongi is for him, and yoongi will tell him back, between breathy moans and broken whimpers and brief sighs, how good jungkook is for him too.

but for now, yoongi will enjoy some of the small, present things. like feeling the weight of jungkook's hand on his thigh, tasting the strawberry of his milkshake, hearing a story about one of hoseok and seokjin's midnight escapades going wrong that is just as funny as it is tragic.

outside the diner, the moon rises and the night gets colder and the city doesn't stop. time goes by as it always does, but yoongi doesn't feel it grabbing him by the neck and urging him to move fast, to keep up with it, like he felt so many times before. 

instead of that hushed, desperate feeling, there's stillness.

everything seems calm, though it really isn't: taehyung is demonstrating to a very wide-eyed and confused-looking jimin what kind of sounds you hear when you walk through a rain forest, hoseok is whining to yoongi about how he'll definitely get his wishbone revenge someday, and jungkook and seokjin are loud loud loud when they start to bicker about something that is not as irrelevant to them as it is for the rest of the world, and yoongi knows that it's only a matter of time before they attempt to throw hands at each other like two little kids.

it's a bit of a chaos, but yoongi still feels good. so so good.

maybe tomorrow will be a not-okay day, maybe he will feel tired and lost and the furthest away from home he's ever been. but he'll get through it just fine—he'll tell jungkook about his worries, and jungkook will understand. he'll call taehyung, and talk to him a little bit, let his familiar voice that reminds yoongi of daegu calm him down.

eventually, he will remember that he has happiness and that he has home, even though those concepts feel a little hard to be understood on the dark days. he'll find comfort in the bigger things, like the way jungkook sounds when he says he loves him, or the pictures of holly his mom sends him. but also, on the smaller things, like the bracelet that lives around his wrist, or the glass jar that earns two paper-cranes crafted by him and jungkook every night. even if it takes a little while, he will feel good, feel happy again. because, unlike this sudden sort of sadness, this happiness he found is not the fleeting, brief kind.

it's a happiness that reaches deep into the heart and roots there.

yoongi might not know what home truly is quite yet, but he has a pretty solid idea of it:

home is his friends, with their bright colors and loud voices and stupid challenges that seem to increase by the second. home is this diner, with the red table cloth and the employers who are kind of not rude to them and the soggy french fries. 

home is jungkook, is the candid polaroids he's always taking, is the lavender of his hair, is the hearts he likes to draw on yoongi's skin. home is their apartment, with the big windows and the cuckoo clock and the flowers that receive more care from jungkook than they probably need. 

home is daegu, too. is an old brown piano, is the smell of grass after the rain. home is strengthening bonds that were almost broken, once. home is the firm handshake of his dad, the soft voice of his mom when she asks him how he's been.

home is a lot of things. has a lot of meanings—ones yoongi is figuring out day by day.

once again—a few hours later, yoongi drives while full of hamburgers, sitting beside one jeon jungkook who is mouthing the lyrics to another red velvet song.

yoongi can't stop smiling the whole way back home.

 

 

 

 

the dreamy melody of chopin’s nocturne op. 9 no. 2 comes to life by the needle of the old vinyl player jungkook brought back from busan, months ago. 

yoongi lies down on the bed, flowers in his hair, the morning sun that comes through the blinds trying to warm his skin. he lies down as jungkook hovers over him, camera in hand, the sunlight falling and moving on his face like waves. jungkook's gentle fingers fix the parts of yoongi's hair that insist on going stray, brushing lightly over his cheekbone before they leave. jungkook gives him directions, tilt your chin, close your eyes, all in his high tide of a voice.

yoongi yawns, suddenly, and his hand instinctively rises from the bed and covers his face—maybe only his nose. he's been picking up some of jungkook's small habits lately. yoongi feels even more lethargic than he did a few minutes ago, and drops his forearm over his eyes to block any brightness, even if just for a while. barely five seconds pass before jungkook speaks, in a tone that is more whine than anything else:

"hyung, no, let me see your face, hyung," there's fingers closing around yoongi's wrist, pressing down on his skin the little stones of the bracelet he never takes off.

yoongi opens his eyes, fast—takes in the dreamlike image that jungkook makes, the same as he did when yoongi last looked: caramel hair, flushed cheeks, a little lopsided grin playing on his mouth. jungkook lets go of yoongi's arm, pokes his tongue on the inside of his cheek, still kind of smiling, and says:

"the light looks really good right now, just lemme—"

he has no time to finish his sentence before yoongi's back leaves the mattress, the sudden haul of his body bringing him close to jungkook and closer to the camera. yoongi almost knocks his nose on the lens, but jungkook has reflexes fast enough to bring it down to his lap. just as suddenly as he sat up, yoongi pulls jungkook in by the loose collar of his shirt and kisses the corner of his lips.

there's hands on the sides of his hips, and yoongi lets out a small surprised noise when he realizes he's being pulled to jungkook's lap, the camera that was previously there now gone. yoongi crosses his arms over jungkook's shoulder blades, fitting perfectly, the action so usual, so frequent for them—it's almost like yoongi is some kind of human-shaped talisman that jungkook carries around his neck most of the time.

jungkook's hands also find one of their favorite places, curling around yoongi's waist. they kiss slowly, then a bit fast—jungkook's hold on him tightens, then loosens. it's the perfect balance of contradictions and yoongi is enchanted.

outside, the weather is cold, getting colder, but jungkook still feels like late summer, like the start of spring. yoongi gets the butterflies, the daydreams, the urge to write long love letters and carve initials on the trunk of a tree just like a teenager would, even though he's almost twenty seven. the air between them is hot and sweet like bonfire-warmed marshmallows. their lips keep parting just to meet again. yoongi pecks him repeatedly, in a hurry, stolen little kisses that sound like pebbles hitting the window in the midnight silence. 

when they stop kissing, they're breathless—yoongi is sure his face is all red, and the hairs on the nape of his neck feel a little damp. he looks at jungkook, at the doe eyes and the bunny teeth. looks at jungkook, who is the very epitome of a fever-dream that is just too nice to be real. feels confused, and then so happy. because jungkook is staring back at him as if he's burning forty degrees as well.

yoongi looks down to the left, then, sees the camera on the bed, lenses-down like it had been thrown there carelessly. it most likely was.

"aren't you tired of taking pictures of me, kook?" his voice is shaky, stammering.

"nope," jungkook pops the p, gets his voice really high and kind of annoying. yoongi rolls his eyes and jungkook keeps talking, "not when the sun is on you, all pretty like that," his hand leaves yoongi's waist, runs over his chest and settles on the side of his face. he cups yoongi's cheeks with as much care as taehyung carries his puppies, or hoseok holds his wishbones—like yoongi is something fragile, beautiful, that can break easily. jungkook knows he's really not. yoongi knows it as well. knows that he's strong, tougher than he looks. but it's still nice to be treated with this much love.

jungkook kisses him again. yoongi might be dramatizing, might be so high in love that he's started to think things that make no sense at all. because even though they only had black coffee so far this morning, jungkook tastes like one of those cherry-chocolate cupcakes his grandma used to bake for him. so familiar, soft and sweet, glowing red in the middle.

"where are you keeping all those pictures?" yoongi mumbles. "is there, like, a little box meant just for them, or do you just leave them scattered 'round the house? i swear one of these days i found my laughing face where we keep the—"

his words find a barrier, one that is made precisely of jungkook and nothing else. yoongi starts to believe jungkook is not letting go of him any time soon in this century, but then he does—puts something that actually can be considered distance between them for the first time in the past minutes.

"you know, hyung, home is a place that makes you smile. that makes you happy," jungkook sounds serious, so genuine. there's a smile on his face as he speaks. yoongi gets tiny happy riots, all inside his body. a bumblebee in his chest. a small hummingbird in his mind. jungkook continues, "this is our home, hyung, you are my home. so it makes sense for me to want tiny pieces of my happiness everywhere."

yoongi lifts his eyebrows, slightly. doesn't even try to fight the smile. asks, "everywhere?"

"yeah," jungkook answers. "even outside of this apartment. in the car, too. i put one in the glove compartment, did you notice?" jungkook lets his arms fall, landing palm-down on yoongi's thighs. "there's one at hobi and jin hyung's place too. at that coffee shop tae likes a lot. at namjoon's office. jimin's dance studio. at the diner—"

"every fucking where, i get it," yoongi cuts off what he knows will be a very long list of places. jungkook likes to prove his point, and enjoys annoying yoongi even if just a little as he does it, but he doesn't seem to be too bothered by the interruption. specially when yoongi keeps speaking, "you're home for me too," it feels good saying it out loud. the word doesn't seem foreign, heavy on his tongue, doesn't scrape and scratch when it leaves his lips, like yoongi had thought it would, back then—back at a time that seems like so long ago. 

jungkook smiles the biggest and the brightest, which is really a feat considering how much he's been smiling lately—what was left of the knot in yoongi's chest unfurls. jungkook says nothing back, doesn't have to. there's really nothing else left unsaid. jungkook kisses him, and it's all the answer yoongi needs.

when it's nearing noon, and they're still in bed—the sheets now all crumpled and messy, the camera forgotten on the nightstand and the daisy petals starting to stick on yoongi's sweat-damp skin—yoongi tells a joke, one he probably heard from seokjin, one that is not very funny when said by a dull tone. still, jungkook laughs, and the lilt of it reaches yoongi bone-deep.

the rest of the day goes like this: kisses and polaroid pictures and smiles, repeat repeat repeat—a broken record that's playing the best track of the album, in an endless loop.

jungkook kisses yoongi’s mouth, holds yoongi’s hands between his. it never gets old. every time jungkook leans in, or offers his arm, the first bars of the song, their song, starts to play, and yoongi just knows: there's something about holding hands—but there's a lot of things about jungkook that manage to steal the glow of twined fingers and increase it by tenfold.

yoongi feels always so, so fond of jungkook—an emotion that spreads fast through every muscle of heart, and doesn't stop.

autumn is almost over: there's orange leaves leaving the trees, and the cool weather of fall turning into the cold of winter. but it’s okay—yoongi barely feels the ice of the wind. because yoongi has love, lots of it, everywhere. love that crawls into the hollows of his ribs and warms him from the inside out.

yoongi feels it the most when he looks into jungkook’s eyes.

jungkook’s delicate, lovely eyes.

yoongi feels love, as in: i’m happy you happened to me.

love, as in: when i hold your hands i know i found a home in them.

love, as in: when you tell me you love me back i know i found a home in you.