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Give Me Your Hand (Save Me Before I Fall)

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If Jungkook was an animal, he thinks he'd be a fish, always swimming but never getting anywhere he wants to be. He wakes up, goes to school, and aces his exams. He comes home, studies, does his homework, eats dinner, studies some more, goes to bed, and does it all again the next day.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

He works to find ways to distract himself from the numbness, but it's hard. He wanders around the school after class, looking into buildings, trying to find something to occupy his time. He goes to the gym to try working out, or maybe try sports. The basketball coach seems to think he has some potential, and encourages him to sign up for the team. But Jungkook doesn't have the energy, and he couldn't care less about the sport. He looks into the art building, looks at the little descriptions beside the paintings. They all invite him as the viewer to think about how the paintings make him feel. Jungkook thinks he's probably supposed to feel something like happiness, or grief, or love or something. But when he looks at them, he feels nothing at all.

But the first time he touches the piano on the sixth floor of the music building, the first time he hears a note ring high and pure through the room, he thinks he feels a little less numb.

He starts to spend as much of his time there as he can. He pulls up piano tutorials on Youtube, does his best to figure out what each of the notes and the little signs next to some of them are. He takes to it fairly quickly, fills the room with the sounds of simple melodies and later with harmonies too. He can feel his heart beat gently in time with each rhythm he plays. And the first time he manages to play something without constantly looking at his left hand, he thinks he's finally found what he's been looking for. He starts to hum melodies under his breath at school, things he's trying to teach himself, and his classmates start to look at him a little strangely. It's only when one of them shyly complements him that he realizes that they stare because they think he sounds good. And that opens up a world of possibilities. He starts watching Youtube videos of people performing by themselves and in public, and he dreams. He goes to the piano room and sings along with the melodies, tests out how high he can go and thinks about maybe filming his own Youtube video someday. The room becomes his haven, a place where he can go to feel something that isn't boredom or anger, even if it's just for a little while. A place where the world seems just a little bit brighter.

It doesn't last, though. Of course it doesn't. Classes and homework and studying start to eat into his time, until he can't practice or go to his favorite room at all. He taps out melodies on his lap at home. He lays awakes at night in his bed, heart aching. He misses the feel of smooth keys under his fingertips, the smell of dust and polished wood, and resents being pulled away from something he has come to love.

He brings up the topic of a career in music once near the end of freshman year. He tentatively tells his mother about his wish to perform, to make music to make people feel good. He tells her how much he loves the music building, tells her about his favorite room, about how he's been teaching himself everything. She wrings her bony hands and tells him that she loves him, but she won't support him. She tells him he can’t make money as a performer because it's just not a viable financial career. And he knows they’re not rich, that his mom sometimes has to work double shifts. And god, h e doesn’t know why he even bothered to bring it up in the first place. So he smiles, brittle and fake, and aces his finals and pretends to care about university and never brings it up in front of her again. 

The numbness creeps back in. He goes to school when it starts again, and pretends to be friends with the people in his classes. He goes to their class parties, laughs when he thinks it's appropriate. And then he goes home and studies. And eats. And goes to bed. And does it over again the next day.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Jungkook wants to die.

 

——

September brings the start of Junior year, and lately Jungkook's been thinking about what would happen if he went to the music building and just... jumped. He thinks he could open the door to the roof on the seventh-floor without setting off any alarms. He knows it well by now- it’s an old building, they probably don’t have any alarms. So. Seven flights of stairs, seven floors off the ground. Would that be enough?

He thinks and thinks, and one day he goes up the stairs and opens the roof door, just to see what it would look like. No alarms get set off, just like he thought. He walks to the edge and stands there for a couple of minutes thinking about it some more. It would be so easy. There’s no rails to stop him, and ledge itself goes barely up to waist-height. All he has to do is step on, and then let go. There's nothing to catch him on the way down, just a straight drop to the concrete.

That’s not very safe, he thinks. Maybe they’d change that, after. He rubs his hand on the ledge, perhaps for the last time. He closes his eyes.

After he ju-

“The fuck are you doing?”

Jungkook nearly has a heart attack. He whips around, and sees a boy sitting on the ground behind him. Jungkook must’ve walked right past him. 

Jesus christ. “You scared me,” he says, forcing a laugh.

“Oops,” the boy says, but he doesn’t apologize for it. He actually looks vaguely amused. Huh.

The boy looks about his age, maybe a bit older. His clothes- god, his mom would say he looks a little dangerous, black combat boots with tight jeans and a black leather jacket despite the relatively warm weather.  He’s pretty attractive, honestly, he admits to himself. The boy's eyes are slanted, pretty and sharp like a cat’s. And his lips are full and rounded in a tiny smirk around a cigarette, and wow, yeah, his mother would freak.

The boy sits, and Jungkook stands, and they stare at each other.

“You gonna answer me, or what?” His voice is a low rumble, syllables slightly accented. Daegu boy.

Jungkook panics a little. “Nothing.” He fishes for a vague answer. "Probably the same as you.”

Daegu boy raises an eyebrow, and holds up his lit cigarette. “To smoke? I doubt that.”

Shit. That’s not what he was going for. “Why’s that?”

“‘Cus if you were you’d be smoking already.”

Oops. Jungkook shrugs, because he honestly doesn’t know what to say now. There’s no way he’s telling this boy that he was here to jump. He thinks Daegu boy would probably judge him for it, and Jungkook isn’t looking for an audience anyway. He fidgets a little. Daegu boy is clearly loving how uncomfortable he’s making him, and Jungkook changes his mind. Daegu boy is not attractive. Daegu boy is an asshole.

“Does it matter?” He says, a little annoyed now.

“Nah, not really. I don’t actually care, ‘s just,” he waves his hand vaguely, “you’re blocking the view.”

Of what? He looks out behind him at grey, ugly buildings, concrete, and trash. Not exactly the eighth wonder. He doesn’t realize he said anything out loud until the boy snorts.

“Yeah, okay, so maybe you’re just harshing my vibe.” Jungkook has to hold back a bubble of… something. He thinks it might have been laughter. But he really didn’t expect those words to come out of a person like that.

“What vibe would that be, the eighties?” He retorts.

“Lame." Daegu boy blows out a breath of smoke lazily. "You need to work on your insults, kid.”

Jungkook raises a brow. “Kid? You don’t look that much older.” 

“Still older than you, kid."

Anger stirs in his chest at the response. Seriously, screw this guy. “It’s Jungkook,” he says, testily. Daegu boy waves a hand dismissively, and  Jungkook grits his teeth. "You shouldn't be smoking up here, you know."

Daegu boy makes a show of looking around. "Do you see any no smoking signs up here? 'Cus I don't."

"Well, it's still a school building. So you shouldn't."

"What are you gonna do, stop me?" Daegu boy blows out more smoke and laughs like that's the funniest thing in the world, and  Jungkook seethes quietly. What is he supposed to do now? The boy looks settled and relaxed, like he’s going to be there for a while. Like nothing Jungkook could do would change that. Should Jungkook try and fight him on it? But Daegu boy looks like he could probably beat him to the ground if he tried to do anything. He feels so stupid just standing here like this, feels insulted and hurt and completely out of his element.

And suddenly, Jungkook is just... tired. It's over. He failed. He sighs, fighting back the tears stinging at the back of his eyes. Time to cut his losses and go home. He walks away from the ledge and wrenches open the roof door. He’ll just have to come back later, or find another roof-

“You planning on coming back, Jungkook?” Daegu boy sounds equal parts amused and annoyed, like this is his territory that Jungkook has intruded on, and, that pisses Jungkook off. This is where he was going to- this is a public space, and this asshole doesn’t get to claim it all for himself.

The words are out of his mouth before he even realizes. “Yeah, actually.” Daegu boy’s smirk fades, and it feels like victory.

Jungkook can be pretty competitive when it counts.

He shuts the door behind him, and he hopes that Daegu boy will find another place to smoke, because the rooftop is his.