Chapter 1: Chapter One
Fall, My Love
The day was cold, unforgiving and harsher than any he’d seen before. Clouds gathered above the sky in ominous grey swirls that threatened to pour long and hard onto the earth. A light breeze ruffled everything in its path on a street whose roads were always clean; always pure. It was autumn, and particularly chillier than the days prior.
Multiple voices came from a big villa far from one of the spotless roads, all high pitched and angry; distorted in their rage. The road always heard, but could never do.
A slap rang across the fields before the white villa, gardens almost rearing back from the sound wave that was the attack. Then came a jarring crash of rich wood onto rich stone, then a cry from a boy, then a noticeably stronger wind that blew bits of love and hatred along with it.
The Min’s were world-renowned violinists, and because of that the Min household was known for being harsh with it’s boys. They had three to take care of, and the eldest was the hardest to control. They would break and hurt to make sure their children were perfect protegees, and if they weren’t, then love was not a thing known to them.
The mother of the family was today stomping on some wood, the bits and pieces splintering and cracking like the heart of the boy before it. The boy reached out a hand, but then that was stomped on too; he let out a cry and his injured hand shot right back to his torso, where salty, warm tears dropped slowly onto the throbs. A duo of little boys watched from a doorway while a father shielded their all-seeing eyes from the agony of mother’s punishment.
The boys’ eyes shot to the father, pleading, begging, as he was known to be a gentler soul. The father just shook his head while the boy grit his teeth and beared the pain, as he always did with his mother.
“You stupid boy!” The mother shrieked as the pieces of wood on the ground, once a beautifully expensive violin, was ground to a rough pulp. “How many times? Tell me, how many times must I do this before you learn?!”
The boy tried to speak, but only a gargle came out. The stomp to the fingers and palm had really made him speechless. His brown eyes were glassy with tears, cheeks rough with the waterfalls still erupting from his eyes. He blinked, and they came down harder than before.
The stomping stopped, the boy looked up, and the mother was nothing but cold ice when she told her son to leave and never come back.
The boy didn’t think he had ever truly learned and listened to his mother. Not six years after, at age eighteen, had he learnt his lesson. He hadn’t returned to that villa, as asked, hadn’t spoken to his family, nor seen them in concert when they had come around. Not once, not ever. He honestly didn’t think he’d even be allowed past the security guards at the front. His mother would be smart like that, to get everyone to look out for him.
It was autumn once more, but in a different time; in a different world.
This world was one of repetition, where Min Yoongi, disgraced violinist heir of the Min’s, would play his sad songs on the same corner of the street, in the same exact place, every single day. In and out, no matter if he had a hangover from the spirits of the night before, or if he had somehow overslept despite his troubles doing just that, he never missed a day of it.
After that day, he had run. Run farther than any before and ended up here. He had gotten himself his instrument, and played. Played and played and played until his calloused fingers burned against the strings of the violin or his bow began to splinter. He couldn’t think of a life without this.
A life without his punishment .
Every day was the same. No change ever occurred, and maybe he liked it that way.
The same Park Jimin and Kim Seokjin driving by in their sleek black car, always looking away from him even when he would play harder just to get their attention. He knew they had the money to get him more than just scraps. Hell, one of them was the heir to a multimillion dollar company and practically loaded. He was--
Just how he used to be.
Min Yoongi slowed down his playing, notes strained and ugly. He pulled the bow up and down the strings, trying to make the notes pretty as they always were, but a wave of guilt overcame his common sense.
He let out a sigh. This was not him, but thinking about how he used to be hurt sometimes.
So he played long and soft, then hard and quick, as one of his favourite pieces flowed out of him. He would let out his emotions in this way, with his horribly old violin which could only dream to be even a fraction of his rich one. He leaned into the neck rest of his violin, breathing chilled by the cool air of autumn.
Then, as always, that sparkling, taunting car came around the corner of his street; a street lined with small businesses and other things as such. A coffee store at the end of the businesses was one he usually visited for some warmth, and a cleaner’s was usually where he got his clean clothes. Park Jimin never visited either of them, neither had his friend.
He played slow now, and with their window rolled down for some reason, he thought they might be able to hear him, so Yoongi played loud, and Park Jimin turned towards him. His hair had been bleached blonde for whatever reason, and it seemed he enjoyed the new trend of wearing blue contacts.
Yoongi could not deny that the heir was stunning, but that didn’t change his motives.
They locked eyes, and Yoongi swore Jimin could see him true right there; could see him along with everything else in his mind. So he played, continuing with his mind on his music, willed himself to do nothing but play.
Then their car stopped at the corner of the street, and Park Jimin came out, Kim Seokjin right after him. Yoongi could see another head in the passenger's seat, but didn’t mind that; they had stopped. After all this time, they had stopped to listen to him. They came towards him, Kim Seokjin with his brown hair and swagger beside the calm and quiet of Park Jimin. The boy pulled out his wallet, amen , and then gently put a fifty dollar bill into Yoongi’s violin case, which was open on it’s side by his boots. Jimin looked up, Seokjin making no move to give his own money, and smiled.
So many rumours about this boy, Yoongi couldn’t think straight as he smiled back, mumbled a thank-you, and continued to play. When Jimin didn’t move, nor Seokjin, Yoongi stopped playing and put down his violin, shoving the fifty dollars (as well as other coins and bills) into his pockets. They chinked merrily as more coins were joined together for his future use.
“Is . . . there anything more you want?” Yoongi asked hesitantly. Seokjin appeared to care less about what was happening, while Jimin looked content and interested.
“How did you learn to play like that?” Jimin asked softly, Yoongi’s heart lightly warming at the thought of-- not Jimin-- but the beautiful hot chocolate he would taste with his fifty dollars.
“An old family trick tradition forced me to learn,” Yoongi said with a shrug as Jimin teetered back and forth on his feet, the rich shoes almost sparkling without the sun.
“No,” Jimin said hesitantly. His hands were in his pockets, but Yoongi knew that if they were out and joined together, they would be fidgeting. “How did you learn to play with such-- passion?”
Yoongi almost snickered. Passion? His music was surely filled with anything but that. It was filled with broken desire. The horrible state of his violin definitely didn’t help his case. Strings fraying, bow slightly bent; his music could be anything but that yet . . . Jimin had come out of his car, given him his money, and stayed to talk. “It just takes time and experience,” Yoongi said simply.
“Ah . . .” Jimin said, the smile still nice on his mouth. “Do you always play here?”
“Always, I never miss a day without playing. Have you . . . never noticed me?” Yoongi asked so hesitantly; he knew the answer, yet he wanted to know how much earlier this conversation could have taken place.
They looked so out of place talking to each other; one with a rich black suit, the other with a tattered black overcoat and a dumb golden stopwatch strung around his neck.
“You look like a game character with a stupid low-level quest,” Seokjin said jokingly, “why would we?” Well, that certainly deflated Yoongi.
“Don’t say that, Jin!” Jimin said softly, obviously embarrassed of his friend as pink coloured his cheeks lightly.
“Why? It’s true . . .” Seokjin pouted his lip, acting as though he was hurt that Jimin didn’t enjoy his joke. Yoongi snickered a bit himself. He knew the truth of his looks, wouldn’t deny it. He wouldn’t deny that his breath stank of alcohol either, if that topic arose in Seokjin’s mind. Jimin looked surprised that he did do a little bit of a laugh, eyes widening that made Seokjin’s eyes light up a little in amusement.
“It’s fine,” Yoongi said quietly, “He’s not wrong about that. I’ve seen myself in mirrors, even I wouldn’t deny I look a bit low-level-ish.”
Seokjin immediately brightened more. “See, Jimin? Even this random guy gets my joke, so why can’t you?”
Jimin toed the ground with a pristeen shoe. “I thought it might be rude but apparently . . .” Jimin stuck out a manicured finger and poked it into Seokjin’s chest with a grin, “All those years of etiquette training taught you nothing!”
Seokjin laughed, the smile brightening up the world a little bit more with it’s humour. The two seemed to have forgotten he was even there. A bitter sense washed over him, one that wished to push and break up their happiness to steal it for his own while another soothed him and brought him to his own fond smile. Behind the boys, he saw the head from the passenger’s seat of the car staring at them with devil eyes.
He smartly chose not to meet those eyes.
“Listen . . .” Jimin began, and enough of a pause told Yoongi that the boy wanted his name.
“Yoongi, I’m Yoongi,” He stuck out a hand, scarred and callused. It took a moment for Jimin to stop staring at it and to shake it with his own. Even their skin colours seemed to glow a different colour; his dark with charred actions, while Jimin’s such a pure and innocent light that maybe, if Yoongi wasn’t human, it would have burned him like a demon.
“Yoongi,” Jimin said with a smile, “I’ll come tomorrow.”
“Why?” Yoongi asked suddenly. So they just met, and he wants to see him again?
Probably for his music, Yoongi said with a snort that Seokjin noticed with a confused glance. The boy on the right of Jimin seemed to radiate a sort of knowing that almost sent Yoongi to a laugh.
“Why . . . to hear your music again, Yoongi.” The sound of his name on the rich boy’s tongue almost made him want to take it and throw it away from him. He hates how they pronounced it, how it reminded him of his mother, brothers, father; that life. He did not do it, though; he let Jimin keep it, if only because he couldn’t understand anything more than luxury.
Yoongi nodded, “See you tomorrow, then?” He pointed to the car window, “And I think your dog is a bit . . . angry.”
As Yoongi pointed, those devil eyes only glowed brighter and narrowed; the man almost seemed to be growling, which only made Yoongi’s point stronger.
Seokjin burst out in a laugh with Jimin trying to hide his snickering and they left with a wave and a nod at his question. No more looks were shared with him as they got into their car and drove away.
Suddenly, the chill was cooler and the ticking of his golden watch was louder.
Yoongi let out a breath into the cold air, and watched the car leave.
First entwined with Kim Namjoon, and now Park Jimin?
He definitely had a knack for finding important people, it seemed.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Yoongi waited until nightfall to part from his usual post. He had made sure to carefully and quietly pack up his violin, the crooked bow in tow, and move out. The money had obviously made it’s ways right to his pockets, where they now noisily rested.
He always hated this part of navigating and moving through all of the backstreets and alleyways just to see a friend. It made him anxious and nervous every time; the thought of running into old enemies was nothing short of frightening. Worse, sometimes, were the thoughts of what they would do to him if they found him.
Yoongi loosed a sigh, didn’t mess up on his directions (even double checking them more than once), and finally made it do his all too familiar destination.
It was at the end of an alleyway, though this one was a dead end bathed in darkness. All that could be heard was a distant shuffling and grumbling, but of only one voice. Bottles and powders could be heard being moved inside of a small tent that could only hold a single person. Yoongi would not deny that he had been here before, and that he loved those sounds.
Yoongi let his footsteps be heard and the grumbling suddenly stopped. That was when a gang-hardened face with soft eyes popped out of the tent opening. A smile broke out on that face, and the two immediately clashed together in a hug. They saw each other frequently, but it was never enough to know the other was always safe.
“Yoongi!” The voice said into his ear as they embraced under the cover of darkness.
“Taehyung!” Yoongi breathed back and clutched his friend’s jacked before they both silently agreed to pull apart.
“Business is always lazy and slow without you, y’know?” Taehyung said with a laugh as he slowly walked back to his tent to grab some of Yoongi’s usual orders. “Maybe if Namjoon knew you were here . . .”
“Don’t even joke about that, Tae,” Yoongi said with a slight laugh as he leaned against a brick wall. “You can stay poor, just like me.”
Taehyung let out a noise that sounded like a scoff as more bottles moved. “Maybe if he gave me some money for anything other than useless drugs and shit, I could be doing something cooler,” He reached deep into his tent and pulled out a clear bottle, stuffing it under his cushioned arms. “The devil knows he’s loaded.”
Kim Namjoon, the city’s largest crime lord. He was known almost everywhere, and every crevice of the damn shithole knew about him. Even the dust seemed to move away in fear when he came by. Crimes upon crimes were committed under his name for even a taste of his gang. Barely anyone got in, and those who did were deathly loyal to him.
But Kim Taehyung? The Kim Taehyung, Namjoon’s second in command? Well, that was the person before him. His drug dealer who got him millions a year to spend on his lap dog, Jungkook. Though, nobody except gang members knew the name of JK, since it was kept under such a low profile. Unlike Yoongi, the boy hadn't been as noticeable, and had fallen under the shadows where he'd always loved to dwell.
Kim Taehyung came back with Yoongi’s order and handed him all of it. Yoongi shoved it into the own pockets of his overcoat, golden watch dangling precariously on his chest. The boy’s eyes caught onto that gold, and grinned.
“He’s still raging about that, y’know.” Taehyung said quietly with a shrug, nonchalantly explaining the Crime Lord's pure hatred, “Stabs the wall at least once every week, screaming your name.”
“Good,” Yoongi said, “At least he knows how I felt.”
“Until you, I didn’t think he could feel any emotion other than bloodlust and depression.”
“Yeah, me neither. Good to know he’ll surely put my head on a pike if he sees me.”
Taehyung laughed a bit at that. He turned back to his tent and sat down on a pillow near the center of the entrance. The whole tent was a bit crusty and run down, but Taehyung only went here during the night. The rest of the time, he was with Namjoon, advising him, or sleeping.
Being a crime lord’s second meant near to no sleep, so Taehyung got it whenever he could.
Yoongi popped off a cap from one of his drinks, setting the others down, and put the bottom of it to the night sky, chugging. The spirit was cold and harsh as it ran down his throat, gulps large and hard. Good. He’d need more of it to forget his feelings of today; the feel of Park Jimin’s disgustingly rich hand against his dirty one.
In a moment, the drink was gone, bottle smashed, with Yoongi stumbling against the brick wall for stability.
“Hard day?” Taehyung asked with a bit of a laugh as he sipped from a no doubt homemade cocktail. He smacked his lips together, smiling at the drink with his eyes glittering from the taste and looked back up to Yoongi.
“I’ll need more,” Yoongi said without answering the question. Tae only held out his hand. “Fuck’s this?”
“I need my pay, idiot,” Taehyung said with a snort, “We may be brothers, but that doesn’t mean you steal my load without giving me my pay. Joon monitors this shit, he’d know what wasn’t paid for the moment I came back without the wrong amount.”
Taehyung and he weren't truly brothers, but that's how the loved to see each other; how they'd always seen each other from the first day. Yoongi’s eyes narrowed, but he shoved a hand into his pocket, the fifty dollars coming out immediately along with other twenty dollar bills, and right into Taehyung’s expecting hand. The hot chocolate was forgotten completely, the warmth of the spirit doing more than enough to soothe his chills.
“Oh-ho-ho-ho, what’s this?” Taehyung pocketed the other coins and bills but held up the green fifty dollar bill as though it were Yoongi’s golden watch. “Who’s this from? Did you do a particularly complicated trick with your pet roaches to get this? Or maybe someone just felt bad for you?”
Yoongi almost hissed, but it came out as more of a sharp breath of air. “Screw off, Taehyung. I just got lucky. Take it or I take it back.”
“You can try, Yoongi. I don’t see that muscle anywhere on you anymore.” Amusement dazzled in those mischievous brown eyes, which made Yoongi crack a smile and come over to lightly smack the top of his head.
“Yeah, you’re still an ambitious piece of ass,” He grumbled, and Taehyung smiled.
A silence fell as Yoongi leaned onto a wall and fell down to the ground, black overcoat falling under his behind first to muffle his drop as he plopped onto the asphalt. He popped off another drink cap, kept the other four near him, and drank this one more sparingly than the last. It was swig after swig before Taehyung spoke again.
“I’m free all night, Yoongi, if you need me,” His eyes were shifty, but Yoongi knew the boy was good. Being Namjoon’s second, no matter how many people knew he even existed, still made him something. "It is like old times, after all."
Yoongi nodded slowly, the drinking already numbing his senses well enough that pinching himself didn’t even hurt much. He was finished another, smashing it against the black ground, then going for his third. He usually drank them all sparingly, but this night was slightly different than the rest before it.
“They kill former gang members like you,” Taehyung said quietly while looking up to the stars showing in between the gaps of the roofs of buildings. “Namjoon does it personally, Jungkook hunts them down. They always come back bloody. Sometimes he doesn’t even tell me what he did to them.” Taehyung then looked to Yoongi, who’s eyes slowly slid to meet his. Yoongi mouthed a swear and Taehyung laughed softly. “I’m serious, Yoongi, if he finds you, he’ll kill you there, or torture you, or whatever.”
Yoongi let out a shrug, “Maybe, Tae, I deserve to die.”
Taehyung shook his head, “I may be a drug dealer, but I know what makes a good person, good, and a bad person, bad. You, Min Yoongi, don’t deserve to die.”
Yoongi went silent, choosing to take another sip of his drink instead of answering. This drink was particularly bitter, and made Yoongi’s throat hurt. He didn’t stop chugging it down though; it helped ease his troubles.
“What will he do if he finds you, Tae?” Yoongi asked softly.
“Kim Namjoon isn’t one for mercy. He’d probably kill me on the spot for ‘treason’, or whatever kingly bullshit he believes in right now,” Taehyung said with a scoff and took a sip from his own drink. He smacked his lips once more, and placed the cocktail softly onto a stained and bloodied blanket. "I'm afraid that he wouldn't hesitate, and that's what scares me more than death."
“And you’re risking your life for me? Why? Why not just turn me in and be done with it?” Yoongi’s voice was hoarse now, the drinks taking their toll on him. He was at his fourth now, vision slightly wobbling as the strength of the spirits took their hold on his body.
“I already told you, I know good from bad, and you’re not bad, Yoongi,” Taehyung said softly, “I thought we said we were brothers, and now you’re telling me I should let you die? No way in hell I’d ever do that.”
Yoongi smiled at that, laughing softly.
“Anyways,” Taehyung continued, “Namjoon and Jungkook have been murdering a lot more than usual, so please, be careful, Yoongi.”
Yoongi nodded at that. “Only for you Taehyung, only for you.”
Taehyung smiled, then took out a breath. “When was the last time you checked the time on that golden watch?”
“Last time? I can’t remember right now.” He was slurring at this point, Taehyung taking a break to laugh at how horribly he pronounced his words. “I should leave,” Yoongi slowly rose, knees wobbling as he braced himself against a brick wall. His stomach swirled, bile rising in his throat, head spinning--
He ran into the open alley and vomited onto the asphalt, his last small meal and small hot chocolate covering the already dirty sidewalk. He coughed a few times, spat out what was left of his vomit, and braced his hands onto his knees. He inhaled and exhaled deeply, coughing a few more times before laughing a bit.
“I guess that’s what I get Tae, don’t I?”
“Definitely. Are you still gonna drink the last one?”
“As if I’m wasting my money on not.”
Taehyung laughed softly. Yoongi could hear him taking a soft sip from his drink and smacking his lips for emphasis. “Then begone, before you vomit on my tent.”
“Thanks for the idea,” Yoongi slowly lumbered back, but Taehyung’s mock-pleas for him to stop made him laugh a bit despite his drunkenness. “Thank you, Tae.”
Taehyung paused, then smiled in the darkness and said, “I love you, Yoongi. Goodnight. Stay safe.”
Yoongi laughed a bit more and made it to the end of the alleyway before vomiting once more. Taehyung erupted with laughter, slapping his hand onto his knees before Yoongi finally went to the corner of the entrance to Taehyung’s hut.
"I told you drinking was bad, and did you listen?" Taehyung said with a snort.
“That was so long ago . . ." He scoffed, though a smile was upon his lips, old memories touching the corners of his clouded conscious. "I love you too, Tae. Goodnight.”
Then he left, lumbering all the way back to wherever he was going to sleep that night. Like hell he was going to endanger Taehyung’s life by sleeping there and waiting for Kim Namjoon to find him. He wouldn’t give that lapdog the satisfaction of ripping into him. Not when he could still do something about it.
Yoongi spat onto the street and walked on, slowly drinking the final of his alcohol from Taehyung.
For all the time that he had spent in Kim Namjoon’s legendary gang, he would have to say that meeting Kim Taehyung was the best part.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
The night of Yoongi and Taehyung’s drinking, Jimin had spent with calm friends and music. Jung Hoseok, his piano teacher, was beside him and his school friend since childbirth, Kim Seokjin, was somewhere in their all-white music room playing his own violin. He disliked the sound a bit, for reminding him so much of Yoongi, but did not have the heart to tell Seokjin to play quieter.
The music room in which they resided was of all-white walls, creamy beige wood floors and no windows. A white piano with a luxurious red chair and a few music stands were the only sorts of furniture in the room, the rest an empty and blank space to allow music to flow freely whenever it dared. There were also no distractions, which Jimin's parents had said was a must, since practically everything caught the player's eyes.
Currently music was flowing through all of the spaces in which it could bounce off every wall, beautiful and clear-- until Jimin pressed the wrong key and an ugly sound rang through the air. He cringed, brushing away the blonde hair that had fallen into his eyes and glanced at Hoseok’s face.
The man’s eyes were slightly alight, but a small smile had beheld his face. He looked so different from the raging hound dog that had gazed upon Yoongi while they had been talking. Jimin smiled as well, remembering that moment. Seokjin was still continuing his violin in the background; pretty, sure, as any seasoned violinist would be, but it didn’t have that same thing that Yoongi’s had.
“I’m sorry, I think I should stop for the night . . .” Jimin glanced away from his teacher, letting out a sigh. Hoseok shook his head, lightly grabbing Jimin’s chin and drawing his attention to him.
“Don’t be sorry, Jiminie, please, just try again,” Hoseok said gently, and released his chin, allowing him to once more stare at the music sheet and the piano. The black and white keys almost blended together after a while, rather than being the stark contrasts they were supposed to be. It was also late; later than he liked to usually stay up. “One more time, from the top.”
Jimin’s chest puffed up lightly as his anger flickered. It was more like frustration and tiredness than anger, but it seemed the same on the outside. Hoseok made no move to let Jimin know that he had noticed, nor called the practice off. Which, they had already been practicing for two hours.
Jimin’s fingers ached from the couple hours of pressing the keys, yet he didn’t dare disobey Hoseok. He gulped, nodded, and continued from the beginning of the first page.
"We don't have any water, do we?" Jimin asked suddenly, pressing for time. "I'm . . . parched."
"Don't stall, Jimin," Hoseok said calmly and motioned with his eyes for Jimin to continue. The boy sighed and nodded.
He placed his sore fingers upon the keys where the starting positions had been engraved into his mind, and played. The melody was unique, composed just for them, as Hoseok had requested of his parents. Those parents, with all their business and busyness, had yet to see and listen to his song once. Sorrow formed in his throat, and he swallowed it down.
As his fingers fell into the rhythm, he felt himself growing lost to his music, as he always did. One hand high, another low, moving quickly when the crescendo peaked and went, close together and light when gentle parts ensued. He felt utterly helpless against the feeling in his chest that told him that he belonged to this instrument, this tune.
Then he thought of Yoongi, his violin, his look, his voice, and pressed the wrong key.
That ugly sound once more twanged through him, shaking his being and sending him from his straight-backed position to a slouched and saddened one. He let out a sigh, not wanting to meet Hoseok’s gaze which he knew would be filled with concern for his work. Hoseok once more drew his attention to him with a hand on the chin. He was forced to meet his eyes. Hoseok didn’t speak for a bit, but then opened his mouth. Little sound came out. It looked as though he was more concerned for him than for his work, but . . . Jimin didn’t let himself believe that Hoseok was nothing more than his parents’ trusted worker.
“Is there something wrong, Jimin?” Hoseok asked gently. Jin had stopped his playing, and the soft sound of pages being flipped filled the empty air. Then, not a moment later, did Seokjin’s violin continue.
“No, Hoseok,” Jimin said as he pulled his chin out of his grasp. "I'm fine."
“Then why are you having so much trouble today?” Hoseok asked, “I’m not stupid. I’ve heard your playing enough to when something’s wrong. We've spent enough time fixing mistakes that you know I'd pick up on something,” Jimin sighed and Hoseok smiled. There, he had gotten him there. “The big show is in four weeks, you can’t afford to be playing on an occupied mind.”
The big show, yes. That was why he was practicing so much instead of spending that same time on doing school work or studying. The Legend’s Duet was what it was called. It was a competition, one of the biggest in the world, where musical acts of duets would compete for a large sum of money and public recognition. It never failed to make musicians legendary; to change their lives. The Min's had won it only once, yet it had sent them from common nobody's to some of the most recognized violin players in the world.
So here Jimin was, under order of his parents, to train and practice and train some more in order to ensure that he won the competition.
As it was a duet, Seokjin was also here practicing, redoing the same song over and over again. He was good, but Jimin was worried. Worried that the boy wouldn’t help Jimin, but hinder him. But Yoongi; Yoongi could win it with him. He deserved it, with his music. He had only known him for mere minutes, yet something of the boy seemed so familiar and comforting, as if they were in the same league of some sorts. He gave off the same energy of the Min's, yet there was something different about him; something more illusive and interesting that none of the other members of the violin family had.
“Yes, about the competition, I’m . . .” Jimin didn’t know how to put it. Was there any easy way to say that he wanted a random boy over his childhood best friend? Surely Seokjin would understand, but Hoseok was a whole different story. “Worried.”
“Worried? Worried how?” Hoseok asked, his voice still as silky as freshly woven cloth.
“My partner. I’m worried about my partner . . .” Jimin was playing this tentatively; he hadn't yet chosen his partner, but everyone he knew wanted Seokjin. Yet, he just couldn’t get that boy’s music out of his mind. The way that it wove it's way through his troubles and went right to his heart to soothe him was something he could not forget. “Do you remember that boy I talked to today? The one with the violin and the golden watch around his neck?”
“Yes . . .” Hoseok said, leaning now towards skepticism. He crossed his arms and put one leg over the other, body language mimicking his inner thoughts. He definitely had not liked that boy one bit. “What about him?”
“I know you didn’t hear his music, but . . .” Hoseok’s face was now morphing into a bit of disbelief. “I want him to be my partner. I want him, but I don’t know how to recruit him, or even ask him to try it with me.”
“Well, no need to learn how, since you won’t be doing any of that,” Hoseok said simply, turning back to the piano. Jimin’s jaw flew open; he didn’t want to be disrespectful. Couldn’t, or else he’d feel horrible about it later. “You’re not going to recruit a hoodlum for the Legend’s Duet, especially not one that left you smelling like booze and alcohol.”
Booze and alcohol? Jimin widened his eyes to Hoseok, who nodded slightly. He hadn’t smelt those on the boy at all. He had only smelt the air of autumn. Perhaps he had been that lost in Yoongi’s music for a bit. That only further proved his point to himself.
“But, Hoseok, he was so beautiful! Even on a rickety violin, the sound was so new and fresh. He not like the others, I swear. I'd even say he’s on a higher level than Seokjin!” A small ‘hey!’ came from across the room as Seokjin heard all. Jimin couldn’t help but have a smile that quickly fell as he said, “Please, Hoseok, please. Just at least . . . consider it. For me?”
“No, Jimin. No way. You’ve already practiced time and time again with Seokjin. It would be a waste now, with only a month left, to start with that boy,” Jimin gazed at Hoseok as he spoke, almost opening his mouth only to be quieted by Hoseok’s, “No. That’s final, Jimin.” Jimin said no more, slumping in his seat as Hoseok told him to play once more. Jin’s light playing resumed, and soon, so did Jimin’s as he decided he wouldn’t anger his teacher anymore.
Hoseok had always known best, told him right from wrong and made him into the sensible person he was today.
That was the point, though. Jimin was sensible, and he would find that boy. He would find him, recruit him and win. Then, maybe, Hoseok would learn to trust him, if that was even possible at all.
For the rest of the practice duration, Jimin kept his playing slow, almost mimicking the time as it too went by at a lengthy pace. Occasionally he would press the wrong key, but only during harder parts he hadn’t mastered yet which, thankfully, Hoseok accepted as just being a part of learning new pieces. He made sure that his habit of hitting the wrong keys only centered around those parts.
The evening struck nine, and Jimin immediately got out of his seat and bowed to Hoseok, quickly cleaning up his items and placing them in their respective places. Hoseok blinked, getting up to his feet himself.
“You’re not going to stay until ten for extra practice, as usual?” Hoseok asked, to which Jimin shook his head to.
“No, Jinnie and I are going to the library to study,” He said in a cheery tone, and when Seokjin gave him a look that said ‘oh no, we weren’t’, Jimin gave him a glare and he immediately smiled as well. “We have a big test next week, worth a big percent of our grades.”
“I-,” Hoseok stuttered, used to the extended time beside Jimin, “Ah, sure, I guess. Go ahead?”
Jimin walked out of the door while Seokjin remained for just a moment. The boy and the piano teacher met eyes. Hoseok opened his mouth, then closed it, bringing his hand to his chin in a thinking position.
“Was it something I said?” He asked quietly to Seokjin, who shrugged.
“Think on it, I’m sure you’ll get it soon,” The boy said in a too-soft voice that left Hoseok confused. He exited the music room and ran after Jimin, who was already ways away from the entrance to the room of his instrument. “Stop going so fast!” He said, and Jimin finally turned around, waiting at the end of the corridor. “You’re gonna lose me in this maze. You know I don’t know everything about this place yet.”
“You know how to get out, just use your phone to call me,” Jimin said with a bit of agitation.
“ . . . Are you that angry about Hoseok? I thought we were supposed to be partners, so why does it bother you?” Seokjin asked, and Jimin rolled his eyes, shaking his head.
“You didn’t hear how he played Seokjin, obviously you didn’t. He’s going to win the Legend’s Duet with me, I can just feel it.”
“Are you hearing yourself?”
“Clearly you have an earwax buildup, because you haven’t even gotten him on your side yet. He’s still considering, Jimin. For all you know, you’d still have to be with me in a month on that big banquet stage, alright?”
Jimin scoffed, glared at Seokjin, then took off.
“Where are you going?” Seokjin asked, calling after him.
“The library!” Jimin called, and when Seokjin looked towards Jimin’s back in confusion, he called out once more, “We actually have a test! Did you forget?”
Seokjin paused, brow furrowing.
Then he remembered the big science test happening sometime next week, the date he couldn’t even care less about, and swore. He let out a groan then took off after Jimin once more, following him through multiple hallways and up and down different stairways until they’d reached the big wooden doors to the library and entered. The oiled doors didn’t even make a noise as they opened, revealing the Park’s gigantic book storage.
They’d both been here before, so as they walked in, nothing phased them. Rows upon rows of books in gigantic bookshelves were displayed in this large room with skylights, currently displaying the night sky and all of it’s stars. Low-hanging chandeliers with yellow light bulbs hung from the ceiling on chains, giving the illusion of candles and old age. Five tables were in the library in total, four stationed in four corners of the room, only two visible at any time when one was present in the library, and one near the viewing area. The viewing area, near the back, was found with stairs lead up to an outwardly curved glass wall that displayed the back gardens, which were lush, colourful and well-kept.
The two boys both went to the table near the viewing area, the moonlight from the full moon that night giving them enough luminosity in order to see where they were going and to be able to gaze at the gardens without needing artificial light. They both approached in silence and then gazed upon the gardens, watching as they shifted in the autumn wind.
Jimin let out a sigh, and Seokjin turned to him.
The first thing he notices about the boy is his hair; the blonde, under the white light, looked almost silver, while his blue-contacts changed his appearance completely. Seokjin shook his head and gazed at the greenery instead of Jimin, the distraction a bit too much for his straight thinking.
“Are you alright?” Seokjin asked quietly.
“Better than ever,” He replied sarcastically.
Jimin released another sigh and brushed away the hair that was going into his eyes. He pressed said hair onto his head and followed Seokjin’s gaze, who was currently looking at the fountain in the middle of the garden, stationed right beside some cherry blossom trees. “Seriously?” He said quietly and shrugged, shoulders gently coming up and then softly coming back down, “Seokjin, are you really . . . hurt, about me wanting Yoongi as a partner?”
Seokjin played with his fingers and left the glass windows, going to sit on one the tabletop near them. It groaned under his weight, but never threatened to tip or fall, as it was bolted into the wooden floor. “Maybe a bit, but . . .” He gazed at Jimin, who’d turned smiling a bit, “What kind of friend would I be if I stopped you from doing what you want?”
Jimin let out a quiet laugh and nodded, “Yeah . . . I should’ve thought about that. You’re not one to just . . . leave, right?”
“Definitely . . .” He said, trailing off. "And you too?"
Jimin turned away from Seokjin and towards the moonlight once more.
“Hoseok’s always been very hard to convince, you know that, right?” Seokjin said.
“I do,” Jimin said with a nod, “He’s always been . . . fond of me.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Said Seokjin. The way he was speaking made Jimin wonder if Seokjin truly did know what truly was the deal between him and Hoseok. The boy knew the other had no way of knowing, but the way he spoke made him sound like he knew everything about this subject. His piano teacher, his friend, his . . . whatever else they could be called, it would be no longer. “Did you guys ever . . .?” Seokjin trailed off, and Jimin turned towards him, eyes widening as an appalled expression came upon his face and he let out a laugh.
“Kiss?” Jimin said through an embarrassed laughter, “No, Jinnie, not once.”
“Yeah? Well, I bet he’d like to get all up in that.”
“Oh, shut up,” Jimin said while going over to the table and pulling up a chair, “Your judgment of people has always been the worst of the worst.”
“And you’re saying yours isn’t?”
“You literally just asked someone who stunk like a homeless drunk to play with you as your partner in the most esteemed competition ever, yet you tell me you’re not the most insane person in the world,” Seokjin said, getting off of the tabletop and into a chair opposite of Jimin. Now they faced each other, Jimin with his back to the window and Seokjin with his back to the books.
“It’s not insane, it’s . . .” Jimin trailed off with a small smile, waiting for Seokjin to finish the phrase.
“Uniquely thinking outside of the box . . .” Seokjin finished with a groan, “I thought you hated that teacher.”
“Yeah, but she forced us to memorize that so I might as well torture you with it too.”
“Everyone thinks you’re an angel, y’know?”
“And are they wrong?” Innocent eyes landed on Seokjin, which made him snort.
“On so many levels, Jimin. So many levels.”
Then they looked at each other, conversations travelling through their eyes until Seokjin paused, glanced away and then gained a confused look. His brow furrowed and he spoke, “We actually have a test though, don’t we.”
“Yup! You’re not prepared at all, are you?”
“Not in the slightest.”
“Classic Kim Seokjin, always doing whatever he can for the mark.”
They both laughed at that, and then walked into the depths of the library, going to different sections until they found all the books they needed and began studying. Jimin cracked open one of the largest Seokjin had seen, labeled a big fancy title that the boy didn’t have time to read, then immediately began flipping the pages until he found one relevant to the subject they were studying. Seokjin mimicked the movements of Jimin, finding whatever he could in his textbook as well.
“How long do we have to read?” Seokjin asked after he’d read only one page, Jimin already flipping to his third, concentration in his blue-contact eyes.
“Until we finish,” Answered Jimin simply. Seokjin took in a deep breath, already regretting following Jimin, and then took to reading.
Seokjin didn’t particularly like studying, nor did he do it often. The only times he did review notes was with Jimin, who always seemed to love school; the only reason Seokjin got respectable grades as well was also due to Jimin, who wouldn’t end a homework session without asking questions, and if Seokjin couldn’t answer them, would keep him there for another hour until he got them all correct.
Half of an hour passed by before Seokjin had finished his chapter, Jimin already on his second. Seokjin let out a yawn, raising his arms over his head and letting out a noise as his spine cracked; Jimin glanced up, smiling a bit at what had just happened.
“Jimin, it’s nine thirty,” Seokjin said through an elongated breath, “We should sleep-”
Jimin began bombarding Seokjin with questions, to which he fumbled and took long enough times on each. Seokjin failed each one, even begged Jimin for mercy, who shook his head and smiled, directing his friend’s attention to his textbook and then ignoring his pleas to get out of the library.
“I thought you liked the library, Jinnie,” Jimin said quietly, face to the pages.
“I like it when it’s not also a prison cell,” He grumbled.
“I mean . . . you could leave, Seokjin, anytime.”
“You act like I know where the hell I am in your home-maze.”
Jimin chuckled and looked down, ignoring all other attempts for conversation.
Eventually, after another half of an hour, it was ten in the evening. Jimin glanced up from his book and smiled. Seokjin shook his head, saying he’d question himself later, but Jimin took none of his excuses and asked once more. For a second time, Seokjin got most of them wrong; out of twenty, he only got three point five, the point five was Jimin being generous.
The questioning took half of another hour, landing them at ten thirty in the evening. Another study session took them to eleven, then another questioning brought them to eleven thirty. Seokjin blinked at his watch, staring at the time depicted, and felt exhaustion nipping at his consciousness. He could barely understand Jimin’s questions, let alone give the right or wrong answer as he saw fit. Sometimes, he would completely disregard the question just to make fun of Jimin, who would flick his forehead and direct his attention to the books.
“Jimin,” Seokjin said with frustration edging the sides of his faces, “It’s time to sleep, don’t you think?”
“It’s only ten-”
“No, Jimin, it’s eleven thirty.”
Jimin checked his own watch and let out a small laugh. “Oh! Oh. Oh,” He squinted at his watch, unable to believe the late time. “I guess I was wrong.”
“Yeah, what’s new?”
“For that, you get to clean all this up.”
Seokjin raised his eyebrows, “C-C’mon Jimin,” He said nervously. “Don’t be like that.”
“I’m quite tired, Seokjin, and as I recall, you don’t know how to get out, do you?”
Seokjin shook his head, and Jimin continued.
“Then I guess I’m your guide?” Seokjin nodded. “So, I guess you’re stuck with me?”
“You’re always a pain in the ass,” Seokjin said with a glare, and began picking up the books.
“Yeah, but you know you love me . . .” Jimin said with a smile as he propped his feet onto the table, stretching out his legs.
Seokjin shook his head, then said, “An unhealthy amount, apparently . . .” And trailed off, putting away all the books into their respective placed, which took long since they all came from different areas of the library. One book was in one corner, then another was in the opposite, and then in the opposite, and the trend continued.
“Did you plan it to be this hard?!” Seokjin yelled while he was rushing around, placing books in their respective places, all equally as far from each other. Jimin didn’t say anything, but snickered to himself; payback for earlier.
Finally, as Seokjin slipped a book into its final place, he lumbered back over to Jimin, steps lazy and labored.
“It was like fifteen books, Jin,” Jimin said while punching his arm, leading him back down the viewing nook stairs and over to the big mahogany library doors. “That shouldn’t have taken you an hour.”
“Fifteen books in fifteen different secret hideouts, apparently,” Seokjin shook his head, mind throbbing a bit from the time of night, already spilling into the next day. As they exited the library, Seokjin spoke once more, this time rubbing his face as he spoke. “I’m sleeping in the guest room again tonight, right?”
Jimin shrugged, “If you want.”
Seokjin paused, “Are you saying I have other options?”
Jimin shrugged again, “You could sleep in my room, for good luck or something.”
“Share a bed? I’ll pass-”
“No, dummy, I meant take the couch and sleep in my room with me.”
“What’s the reason?”
“Good luck for tomorrow?”
Seokjin thought on it, then remembered that Jimin would be meeting the boy once more. That familiar heartache came back to him, of his best friend since childhood wanting someone other than him, but it quickly passed, the memories of how much time they’d spent together slowly fading away. “Yeah, sure. I’m good with that.”
“I’d kill you if you said no,” Jimin said with a laugh as they changed course from the guest room to Jimin’s room, which was in the more common parts of the mansion that Seokjin knew better.
“If you did, you’d be more on par with that boy,” Seokjin said with a huff.
Jimin let out a bit of a laugh, then shook his head, smiling down to the ground, “Bad joke, bad joke . . .”
“Yeah . . . thought so.”
They made their way to Jimin’s room, opening the doors and coming inside. They set up their sleeping placed, Jimin his bed and Seokjin his big white couch right beside Jimin’s king sized bed, and grabbed a blanket, placing it on top of himself and then lying down. He placed his arm under his head as a pillow, then settled in, gazing at the ceiling until Jimin turned off the lights, shoving the room into darkness and silence.
After a moment, Jimin said, softly, “What do you think he’s doing right now . . .?”
“Drinking,” Seokjin said simply.
Jimin moved in his sheets, Seokjin only hearing a rapid shuffling as he turned to gaze angrily at the darkness in his friend’s direction. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come on, he smelt like an alcoholic.”
“Pfft . . .” Jimin said, moving back into a comfortable position. “Doesn’t mean he drinks every night . . .”
“If I just got a fifty from a rich stranger, I’d be out spending it on booze too . . .”
“He probably doesn’t know who I am.”
“HAH, don’t be modest. You’re friggin’ Park Jimin, literally even animals know your name.”
“Yeah . . .” Jimin said into the sheets of his bed, “Is that what everyone thought when I was a kid? That I was just another Park and nothing more?”
“. . . Don’t think on it, Jimin. That time’s passed, nothing more can come out of it.”
“We should sleep.”
Jimin sighed and then nodded, going back to his bed, shoving a face into his pillow and trying to move into a position that didn’t require constant maintenance to relax. After some time, he landed on his back, and ended up staring at the ceiling, just like Seokjin, who couldn’t close his eyes and stop thinking about Jimin. Jimin had told him he’d never leave Seokjin, but that was a long time ago. A time when they were both outsiders and they both attracted each other like magnets. But . . . what would happen when a third outsider entered their tiny orbit, and Jimin gravitated to him, more than Seokjin.
“Is it-” Jimin began out of the blue.
“Sleep, Jimin, or else you’ll lose all of your hair from worrying.”
“How’ll you know?”
“I don’t dye my hair blonde, do I?”
Jimin paused, then mumbled, “Guess not . . .”
Then the silence continued and continued until Jimin’s live breathing became that of sleeping, and he let out little noises in his dormancy. Seokjin moved in the night, unable to sleep, even when it became two o’clock in the morning, and he even considered waking Jimin. He shook his head to himself, silently denying himself the option.
Oh Jimin, Seokjin said to himself as he stared at the darkness in the distance, Why can’t I ever stop thinking of you leaving me? Why can’t I stop wondering if you’re just gonna find someone new? Why do I always wonder if loneliness is the next thing waiting for me?
I’d choose getting shot over being lonely.
Will I be happy?
He paused his thoughts again.
He groaned, shoving his hands into his face and wiping up and down, exhaustion and frustration gripping his movements.
I just want you to be happy, Jimin.
Please be happy with him for me.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Headaches and throbbing temples was all that a night of drinking had gotten Yoongi. Oh-- and a sore throat from all of the vomiting thereafter. His tongue still tasted of bile, and whenever he swallowed, it stung and hurt. He couldn't open his eyes for too long or else he’d start to get dizzy; he couldn’t get dizzy, not if he wanted Jimin to see him for him and not as a drunk haggard.
Damn him, he should’ve thought of it. Should’ve seen the possibility through the dark.
But he hadn’t, and this drunken stupor was his punishment.
He hadn’t missed a day of his so-called “work”. He had woken up as usual at the start of the day and felt his pockets. He hadn’t had enough for a meal, since he had spent it all-- including Jimin’s fifty-- on drinks, so he had just started playing. His notes came from an empty stomach, one that usually caused him such hunger pains that he had to frequently stop to bend over and hold his stomach and wait for the hand of hunger to stop clutching his intestines. A crooked bow with his horribly cheap violin made for a horrendous duo. Yoongi imagined that people only gave him money for either pity or the state of his violin.
Many people passed, none looking even remotely close to Jimin, and every time he would close his eyes, he became more and more paranoid that Jimin would come, smell him, and leave without him ever knowing he was here. Compliments or not, the heir wasn’t stupid.
Yet, he had somehow been stupid enough to promise a return to Yoongi, and even been stupid enough to ask his name. Stupid enough to not clue in to what he could be, or why such a talented violin player just roamed the street. Oh, and stupid enough to trust he wouldn’t run with the fifty to another town.
Perhaps his parents had covered up all trace of Yoongi’s famous name; perhaps the Min name wasn’t what it used to be. Perhaps he was the dumb one for not giving Jimin a fake name. Perhaps he hadn’t wanted to.
His thoughts made his playing even more sorrowful. Though his violin was slack in his hands and sometimes he would press down on the wrong string to make a wrong note, it all added up to his true emotions. He let out a sigh to remind him he was still there and not dead, and continued on.
Then, footsteps, towards him. He opened his eyes hesitantly, slightly closed from the harsh milky sunlight, and gazed upon Jimin. The boy was as before, dressed the same, still shining as he always was. He was smiling so softly it almost made Yoongi want to stab himself for ever drinking as he had; apologize to Jimin for what the boy would never know he had done.
The heir held out a hand, and Yoongi clasped it gently.
Beside Jimin, Seokjin stared at their clasped hands, not saying anything; being unusually quiet for what he’d been yesterday. So mouthy. Yoongi didn’t meet his eyes.
Once more, Jimin’s soft fingers met those of callus from Yoongi’s, a stark reminder that they had been bred in different farms and raised in different conditions. Jimin made no mind to notice, he just kept that smile on his face. His contact-blue eyes showed the same joy.
“I thought you wouldn’t be here, Yoongi,” Jimin said. Yoongi let out a smile of his own.
“Had you looked out your car just once, maybe you would’ve seen that I come here everyday,” It came out harsher than expected. Yoongi’s eyes widening a fraction, the only show of his regret. Jimin made no sign to show that he cared. Seokjin, on the other hand, only gave Yoongi a quick look.
“I guess it’s true, isn’t it? I always passed and never even thought about looking up,” Jimin let out a sigh, his breath clouding before him and disappearing into the cold around it, “Entirely my fault then, isn’t it?”
Yoongi didn’t respond. Nothing was truly his fault. He was just a purebred pup only now noticing the dirty dog on his doorstep.
“Anyways,” Jimin said with a slight laugh, “I said I’d come, and I did, didn’t I?”
“I guess you did,” Yoongi said quietly, “But for what?”
“I heard you yesterday, and I couldn’t get you off my mind,” Yoongi’s eyebrows raised to Jimin, who laughed and waved his hand before him, shaking his head quickly as his cheeks dusted with pink. “Your music! I meant your music. I couldn’t get your music off of my mind.”
“Alright,” Yoongi said, “Let’s just imagine that you actually meant my music was the thing you couldn’t get off of your mind,” Jimin let out a groan; the purebred probably thought that Yoongi was like his private school friends-- that he’d tease him for this for life. “What of it?”
“The Legend’s Duet,” Jimin said quietly, seriously. “Have you heard of it?”
“Of course I have. I may be poor but I don’t live under a rock,” Jimin snorted at his tone, but Yoongi was telling the truth. He had lived too long on the streets with his violin to not know about the Legend’s Duet. A competition that could change someone’s life. He’d never enter with his lazy excuse for an instrument, but he had no doubt that Jimin might be entering with a friend.
“Fair enough, but . . . I wanted to know if you wanted to be my partner,” Jimin said this hesitantly; maybe he was smart. Maybe he had figured out that Yoongi was not a hoodlum, but instead Min Yoongi of the Min violinist line. Or maybe he had just liked his music. Either way, Jimin probably had a wish to lose.
“Your what?” Yoongi asked. “Your partner? I can’t be that. You can’t be serious.”
“I-I am,” The purebred stuttered, and Yoongi almost took a step back. So gentle, this money-dragon was. He’d probably never eaten less than the best and gotten no more than loads of love from his parents. Something Yoongi could have never had even if he’d wanted it.
“No, I’m sorry Jimin,” That seemed enough to widen Jimin’s eyes and make his mouth drop open. The next words made him blanche and resemble his bleach-blonde hair, “I can’t.”
“B-but why? I’ve heard you playing, even with that crooked thing,” Yoongi chuckled. So his violin wasn’t even that, but a thing . “You’re beautiful! With a new violin, who knows what you’d accomplish! Please, Yoongi, please consider it.”
“Jimin,” Seokjin said lightly, “If he doesn’t want it, don’t push him.” Their eyes met, Jimin’s shining with a bit of regret, Seokjin’s filled with consideration.
So, the purebred had a guard dog, and that guard dog had been ordered to stay quiet. It explains why he had been so quiet, why he had almost drifted into the scenery and not said anything. Odd, for the boy who had cracked jokes the day before, almost at Yoongi’s expense.
A flicker of regret went through Yoongi. He might as well be taking away candy from child-Jimin’s hands, but . . . he wasn’t meant for the musical world anymore. His brothers and Jimin were for that. Seokjin, too. He had no place in that competition, not when his mother could be watching.
Not when Kim Namjoon could find him easier.
“Then why don’t you come to my house, Yoongi? Why not try to understand me before you say no?” Seokjin cut Jimin a look, but the boy paid no mind to his friend. Jimin seemed unrelenting, and that blue-contact-eyed stare made Yoongi, despite his hardening, want to give in and give Jimin all. It was probably that same look that he gave to his parents in order to get them to bend over and give him everything. The same look Jungkook always gave Kim Namjoon, for that matter. “Maybe you could see everything, then? Please, Yoongi . . .”
Either way, he couldn’t go. He couldn’t . . . just couldn’t return to what his previous life had been. Couldn’t stand to go into that huge Park mansion and not be reminded of his family. His brothers as they’d watched helplessly while he’d been beaten, father too scared to do anything himself.
So he had run. He had run far, far away from things that even resemble his old life, and gone straight into what he’d thought had been the safest decision.
But Jimin made him want to step back into that world one more time, if only to feel his soft hands again or look into those eyes forever--
Yoongi shooed those thoughts away. How dare he even think that. He was probably already with Seokjin, and if he wasn’t then Yoongi was sure something would happen soon. Perhaps he had totally lost himself in those winding alleyways and cold, dead streets.
“I’m sorry, Jimin. I can’t,” Yoongi said quietly; Jimin deflated, Seokjin’s eyes sparkled with something like relief. “I’m sorry.”
Seokjin smiled slightly at that, their eyes meeting. Jimin didn’t move for a second, as if shocked that Yoongi hadn’t bent over and bowed right there for the request. Neither of them knew who he really was, it shouldn’t matter. He could just vanish into nothing. He’d done it once, he could do it again. Forever. Until everything within him stopped aching.
“I’m sorry for wasting your time as well, Yoongi,” Jimin mumbled and turned into Seokjin’s chest. Seokjin patted his back and they began to turn away. Their steps, slow; slowed down by Jimin, who thought they still had a chance.
Each step away was agonizing as they went, half-steps instead of strides. A minute before they got to their car, he calculated. A minute before the king went to his knight and rode away on horseback, far, far away from him. Thirty-seconds before his golden ticket ripped itself in half, and he threw away his legacy for a second time.
His body shuddered in disagreement as he called out their names, ringing down the street as cars passed by, unaware of the internal battle of Min Yoongi, who clutched his violin to the point of white knuckles.
They turned back to him, Jimin’s eyes glassy while Seokjin’s eyes were narrowed.
Yoongi . This was his chance, his one final call. He didn’t have to accept anything, but he could accept a stay at their house. He could endure this one thing. He could stop being his scared self for one day.
Seokjin glanced at him, eyes already widening while Jimin’s opened with glee. Jimin knew exactly what Yoongi was going to do, had probably recited this in front of his guard dog time and time again. That same guard dog thought he was off the leash as well.
“Jimin, no. I made a mistake,” Yoongi began, violin draping in his arms, crooked bow forgotten. “I want to come with you.”
“Oh, I knew it!” Jimin walked up to him and gave him a small hug. When he released Yoongi, Seokjin’s mouth was wide open. Yoongi didn’t move as Jimin said, “to the car, then!”
Seokjin stared at him, not saying anything. He simply hesitantly followed Jimin, who bounced with every step, into the car. He’d talked about this last night, had told himself before sleeping to stop his aching heart and be happy for Jimin.
They had chosen each other. He could see it in their two sets of eyes, in the way they spoke to each other; they wanted to be partners.
Yet, Jimin had no idea who Yoongi was. Didn’t know he was Min Yoongi of the most famous violinists in the world. Had no idea that his “passion” was actually bred talent passed down from generations. Didn’t know a bit of this, but . . .
Had still chosen him.
As Seokjin took his seat in the passenger's side of the car, he couldn’t help but long for that connection between them. Between the two musicians whose paths had crossed without them even knowing it.
Park Jimin, the piano saint, next to Min Yoongi, the disgraced violin heir. If only he knew what Yoongi had done, what he had made headlines for; what he had done alongside Kim Namjoon, the notorious crime lord.
Though, he doubted Jimin would even care, and . . .
Despite this, Jin couldn’t help but feel happy for him.
Even as they spoke in the back seat of the car as if they were friends older than he and Jimin, he was happy. Happy that Jimin was finally smiling as he had before the horrendous practice hours; smiling as if he didn’t care what Hoseok would think when he beat down into the boy for bringing the kid into the house. And . . .
Despite this, Jin couldn’t help but feel happy for him.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Here Min Yoongi was, on his way to a mansion for the first time in a while. The Park mansion, actually. One he had visited during a long passed summer as a child to explore, but only for that and no more. It had been big, halls leading here and there that he supposed made a maze; it was filled with furniture and books and other materialistic objects, but so undeniably empty. The Park’s hadn’t even been there, and if they had, they had been in some part of the mansion that he hadn’t visited.
The Park’s; just Jimin in singular and his cash-filled parents.
He’d be there soon; in no way comprehensible would he ever be thankful that this ride would be over soon. It could take hours and hours and the churning in his stomach would never stop. Not this uneasy queasiness, nor this horrible feeling.
In this fancy, black, Park-funded car he went. He and Jimin had stopped talking after a lengthy conversation over notes and musical pieces, in which the boy had asked Yoongi how he’d known so much if he’d really been self-taught, as he claimed to be. Yoongi hadn’t given a true answer, only saying that the garbage cans behind musical stores held lots of information. The Big Note music store right next to the coffee shop, he'd said and detailed it to the best of his abilities despite never actually having ever entered. Jimin had seemed unsatisfied with his answer, but not enough to go asking questions. In their moment of silence, Jin had booted in to steal Jimin from him, and now they talked. It seemed as though neither of them ever paused for breath, both always smiling and cracking jokes about the other.
"He won't have a place to stay," Seokjin had said calmly as though the driver weren't working for the Park's.
"I'll think of something," Jimin had replied, equally as serene.
"Yeah, because we know how well that always works out."
To that, Jimin kicked the chair a bit, and Seokjin let out a noise. He'd turned around like an adult and raised a finger with the fury of an angry grandmother and had said in a higher pitched voice, "Not with guests around, Mr Park!"
"Oh, quiet down, Seokmother, that one was light."
"Your definition of light scares me," Seokjin had said and turned around in his seat, looking forward. "
The cloudy day had turned into a rainy night, the soft pitter-patter of the light downpour pelleting the car and creating an atmosphere Yoongi had not felt in a while. He hadn't been in a car for a long time, he remembered now. The last time . . . he couldn't recall exactly, as he'd used to think of car rides as normal things; that he wouldn't ever have to remember them, since they'd always be at his disposal. He hadn't thought that one day he'd even struggle to catch a cab. The streets they drove upon became cleaner and cleaner, Yoongi knew they were getting closer. He couldn’t help but shiver at that fact, too.
Back to the big house, big cars and big everything else.
They went down roads that looks more and more kept, trash becoming such a rare thing that he swore he saw the ghosts of plastic bags flying around to replace his cluttered-street memories. Then, they went down a particular road that Yoongi hadn't caught the name of and soon approached a gate. A quick click of a speaker had the driver speaking into a microphone, then the large, black metal gates opening inwards to the mansion in order to let the car pass. It did, driving forward and into the property, just enough to let the gates close behind them properly.
Then the car stopped, and they had arrived.
Jimin got out without help, Jin too, while Yoongi had to struggle to open the door without grubbing it up with his fingers, then trying to gently pry out his disgusting, street-ridden case. Money jingled lightly in his pockets as he almost fell backwards with the pressure that was taking out his violin case without touching the clean sides of the car. The driver left the car after he’d done this, lightly chuckling to himself. Yoongi shot him a glare.
The darkness didn’t help anything as Jimin and Jin took a quick left of the trail leading up to the big house, running somewhere opposite of his supposed destination. So, he wasn’t going to the mansion then?
“Come, quickly,” Jimin said in a whisper to him, “I’ll tell you this now, none of this was planned. Quick!”
Yoongi, rushing as quietly as he could through the nicely cut bushes and wonderful smelling garden, followed Jimin. Everything he stepped on seemed to mush under him, like an oddly raw stew. He wondered if anyone had actually ever run through these bushes, or if the soil was hardened enough for even that act. Jin was ahead, doing scouting or something else stupid that would need to be done on a spy mission, not in a personal manor.
Then, out of the brushes and greenery, there appeared a side-house apart from the manor. Two story, it was like a little shack off of the main house, looking exactly as the big mansion did, but smaller and more modern. It looked like a townhouse, but more compact.
Beautifully architectured, it was nothing short of a glorified greenhouse. The walls weren’t see-through, instead a mixture of nicely placed black and grey, but the top of it was fully glass. Enough visibility for a pampered boy to sleep under the stars. Garden-lights led to the entrance, which were currently turned on, and all of the curtains to all of the visible windows were shut, giving it an empty type of feeling. Nevertheless, it was still a house beside a mansion, and that made it all the more greenhouse-y.
They arrived at the door and hurried in.
Inside, the luxury was even worse than the outside.
Everything was beautiful.
The warm, milky brown wood on the floor was shiny and untouched. The white leather couches crowding around a singular television were untouched as well, as though nobody ever came in here. The walls were all a calm beige that immediately evoked relaxation, and they were littered with beautiful paintings. In the mini-house, there was a refrigerator, as well as a microwave and a kitchen counter. A closet was beside him, filled with no coats. Near the winding staircase by the back right corner leading to the second floor, there was an all-white piano, practically collecting dust. A red plush seat sat under the piano, slightly ruffled and sad-looking, as though waiting for a long lost friend to sit upon it. Everything lacked a certain spark; a certain person.
He could only imagine what the upstairs was like.
Yoongi hadn’t even yet described the perfect violin that sat perched beside the white piano, like a gift.
That was when Yoongi realized, without a doubt, that this place was what Jimin had meant for him and he. The white piano and the violin for the two of them, as a duet. This place, to practice alone.
Rich-boy came prepared.
“I never use this shack,” Jimin said sheepishly. Shack, that’s what he had called it, shack . If this was a shack, then what were Yoongi’s living conditions? Earthworm status? Was he the literal dust under Park Jimin’s shoes? “So I thought I could give it to you.”
“If--” Seokjin interrupted, “If he decides to accept your duet request.”
Yoongi glanced at Seokjin. Seemed like he didn’t want something to happen between them. He didn’t say anything more, so Yoongi decided to speak for himself.
“Thank you, but . . .” Yoongi glanced around. He’d have all night to inspect this for himself. Jimin never used this, but this didn’t mean there wasn’t anything interesting here. “How could I just . . . have this? When you've just met me?”
“If we win the Legend’s Duet, we’d have this and more,” Jimin didn’t meet his gaze, “So I thought you’d might want to get used to it?”
Such soft arrogance. Yoongi let out a sigh and shook his head lightly.
“The violin over there, who’s it for?” Yoongi asked lightly, pointing towards the polished thing, so delicate and innocent in it's stand. So beautiful compared to the monster he held inside of his own case.
Seokjin’s head swished over to the violin, which looked brand new. His eyes then went to Jimin, whose head was bent.
“For you,” He said quietly, softly. Pink dusted his cheeks, like a rose had been crushed and brushed onto his face. Such a gentle blush, too. For his sake, he hoped the boy was blushing for embarrassment instead of sentiment.
So it had all been planned. For him to say yes, for him to come, to have his place. How ambitious.
But he'd said that nothing had been planned on the way here? Probably to butter Yoongi up, to tell him that this was all so unprepared, so secret, like a hoodlum would enjoy. A dumb hoodlum would have accepted it as a coincidence, but a smart hoodlum knew Jimin got whatever he wanted. He let out a sigh. He'd played right into Jimin's game.
“Since Jimin has apparently lost all of his words, I’ll explain this,” Seokjin said, taking the lead, “This place is yours, for now. All the booze in the refrigerator--” Yoongi’s head snapped to the fridge, trying to hide his lust for the drinks, “The violin is yours, and the bed is yours as well. Your decision is to be made tomorrow evening. If it’s a no, then you leave--” A small noise came from Jimin, but the boy was shushed as Seokjin slapped a hand onto his lips to keep him silent. Jimin’s eyes danced with amusement, Yoongi’s with surprise. “If yes, then you stay and practice with Mr. Park for the Legend’s Duet.”
Yoongi glanced up, arms crossing, nodding along with Seokjin’s words.
“Is that clear?” Seokjin asked finally.
“Clear,” Said Yoongi.
Seokjin then nodded, taking his hand away from Jimin’s mouth.
“Disgusting,” Seokjin muttered, “You licked it.”
“You’re more disgusting! You kept it on my mouth even when you knew I’d licked it!”
“Yeah, so I could tell you how disgusting you were after.” Jimin's eyes narrowed and Seokjin shrugged, wiping his hand onto his pants.
With that, they left. Out the door they went, bickering like an old couple all the way up the muddy path to the manor. Yoongi snorted. What a fiasco those two were. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what they were like at school. Private or not, they probably always broke out into elderly argument.
Now he was alone. Alone in this rich playhouse with booze and his instrument.
The ragged violin at his side seemed like a dead weight. It meant nothing now, it was complete trash compared to what was at his disposal.
Yet, despite this, Yoongi still placed the case on the ground gently and opened it. He stared at it, admiring it; admiring how much is had done for him for so long. The crooked bow received from an alley fight, the slightly frayed third string from playing particularly hard one morning. It was all parts of him.
But he couldn’t deny that it sounded horrible.
Yoongi laughed to himself, smiling at the violin. So many memories, this old wood held within itself. Then his smile fell, and he gazed towards the refrigerator. His addiction grasped hold of him now, long claws piercing his heart as he walked over to it. He opened the door of the fridge, white and in the best condition he’d seen in the past years, and felt that fridge-chill hit him. Even though the living space behind him was warm, the cool still shot to his bones. One more night of drinking. He would accept that stupid deal, the one that would doom Park Jimin and his future, then disappear once more. He could drink all he wanted tonight, at least.
He reached a hand in, mouth practically watering as he popped it open and began to chug it down.
Three were gone in a matter of seconds, Yoongi slightly swaying on his feet as he felt the alcohol taking its effects and splashing down into his stomach. He took sips from a fourth one as there was an endless supply left. He took two steps away, turned around, grabbed two more drinks, then walked as steadily as he could towards the white piano and it’s violin.
He haphazardly stationed the drinks on top of the piano, careful to not let them slip and crash into it’s open interior, then picked up the violin.
He’d received only two that had been this nice in his life.
One, from his mother, who had given it to him to practice with, as though it were nothing and . . .
Second, from the crime lord, Kim Namjoon. He’d given it to him after learning his full name, even encouraging him to play it between jobs and missions. He’d played for the gang a few times, always received more than extra pay the nights that he had, then had drank down all his problems and learned to play while dastardly drunk or hungover. A skill, he'd supposed, he'd never thought would come in handy someday.
The bow, the material, felt so nice against his fingers. This one was straight, only with a slight curve to make for maximum efficiency during playing.
He couldn't lie. It was beautiful, and much better than his older violin.
Yoongi brought the instrument hesitantly to his face and positioned the neck rest of the violin to where it was supposed to be, then moved his hands to their practiced places. His long fingers, efficient and lovely on a violin, had always been admired in his family. Even his little brothers hadn't sported his long ligiments, and for that, they hadn't been as valued as he had been.
Though, it was all genetics.
What piece would he play?
The disgraced heir glanced around slowly. There were no music pieces in sight. It seemed as though he’d have to play on his own will.
He let out a sigh, loosened his shoulders and gazed at the violin for just a moment before closing his eyes and breathing.
His breath, the violin, him. Those were the only variables in this equation.
The alcohol was still on his breath when he drew the bow and gave it one long stroke.
A single sound.
That was all it took to break him.
The violin fell to the ground without Yoongi’s grip, bow following as well. It hit hard, cracking along the side in an ugly line. He breathed heavily.
That beautiful, rich sound was one he could not bear to hear.
His eyes became watery with tears that soon slid down his cheeks, catching on his jawline. The alcohol had failed in every instance that Yoongi had hoped it wouldn’t. He had sobered in that one sound. He couldn’t help but just stare at that horrible violin.
He had sobered, and remembered.
Remembered his mother, remembered Kim Namjoon, Kim Taehyung, Jungkook and,
He still breathed heavily, hands shaking slightly as he took both bottles from the piano top, taking some time to take more from the refrigerator, and made his way to the upstairs bedroom.
That violin, he could not stand. Didn’t think he would ever stand.
And, if four bottles could not stop him from remembering, then maybe twelve more would take away the pain.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Yoongi, as always, was completely clueless.
The night was cold, chilly enough to pierce through the wool of Jeon Jungkook’s black sweatshirt as he watched Min Yoongi through the multiple windows of his new home. He’d been trailing the thief all day under orders from his superior, following him finally to the Park mansion in the richer areas of the city, where he'd watched the boy snuggle into his new bed so easily it made the watcher feel queasy.
Jungkook had thought that Min Yoongi had sworn against ever going back to a pampered life, as he had sworn to Kim Namjoon. But . . . it seemed as though he was experimenting with luxury once more. With each bottle he drank for free, and for each time he wrapped those clean blankets around his body during his sleep, it was a lessening of his vows.
The boy had picked up the violin, dropped it, then drank. After at least two years in the gang, at such a young age, he had developed his habit. Joon, at least, would be happy about that much.
A long walk away from the hideout had brought him here, paired with a watchful eye and shadows that never failed to conceal him. None of the boys had even noticed when he'd jumped into the bushes alongside them, nor watched them as they'd walked up the pathway and left Yoongi alone. He couldn't deny that it had been easy to bypass the Parks’ security to find the Min heir. He’d never visited before, the Park family often staying away from Joon’s hit-lists, but he’d at least expected a single camera on the outside.
Instead, just a stupid taxi driver in a suit guarded the entrance. Jungkook decided to spare him, deeming the act of scaring Yoongi away from this golden opportunity to be an unintelligent idea, so he'd settled for silently vaulting over the walls.
Jungkook sighed against the cold autumn air that was getting chillier every night. The Min boy still wore his black overcoat, as well as Joon’s golden watch around his neck. Namjoon would at least be happy to know the boy hadn’t destroyed it when he’d taken it but . . . the fact that he still wore it around his grubby, pampered neck would make the Crime Lord even angrier.
Good , thought Jeon Jungkook, He’s getting what’s coming to him .
From inside his small house, Yoongi threw a bottle onto the ground that somehow didn't crack, then turned in his bed and stopped moving once more. Observation for a couple of minutes following let Jungkook know that he'd had a burst of energy from a nightmare. The boy let out a laugh, satisfied at Yoongi's fear, then braced himself. With a swift movement, Jungkook took away from his perched position on the exterior walls of the Park property and dropped to the ground. He bent his knees, softening the blow, and began walking away. He’d seen enough. As Namjoon’s eyes, he might even be praised.
Well, might be. Taehyung would probably still be above him in rank no matter what he did.
Kim Taehyung, Kim Namjoon's infamous second-in-command.
Jeon Jungkook bristled at the title. The title he should be wearing. Everyone in Joon’s gang knew that Kim Taehyung had helped Min Yoongi escape when he’d stolen Namjoon’s golden necklace-watch, even nabbing the crime lord’s black long coat in the process. Knew it and resented him for it, plotting against him in silence; so many rumours could be heard when everybody thought they were alone. Yet, Namjoon still trusted him as though he’d done nothing wrong.
Innocent until proven guilty , Namjoon had whispered in his ear before pushing him away and grabbing a fistful of his shirt. And don’t ever question my choices again .
Jungkook smiled at the memory. That was his leader.
As Jungkook turned down a couple of alleys, making quick turns on light steps, he made his way down to the hideout.
The hideout was a large, cut-out area in the slums that resided in Namjoon’s territory of the city. Many houses belonged to the gang, but the one that Jungkook was headed to was known as the birth of Namjoon’s legacy. It was one story, relatively small, and was where meetings or missions were held or dealt out.
Jungkook arrived and knocked on the door. Three knocks, a pause, then five more. He was careful not to mess up. Namjoon had told him that his gang members were smart enough to never mess up the rhythm, and if they were, then they deserved to be shot.
There was a long pause before the door opened and a familiar laugh greeted him.
“You almost got it wrong on the fourth knock, didn’t you?” Said Kim Namjoon as his eyes lit up at the sight of him. The man was sitting on a comfortable throne -like chair bejeweled in pure, precisely cut diamonds that lined the edges. He had black hair, dark eyes and eye bags that covered the area under his eyes. His fingers were covered in solid gold rings with respective jewels of their own while his neck remained completely naked; it waited for the day it’s golden watch would return to it.
Kim Taehyung was sitting down on the arm of the chair beside Joon, leaning against the tall back of it. It was plush, a red-velvet backing fit for kings. Or, more fittingly, crime lords. Taehyung met Jungkook’s eyes for a moment, a light smirk coming from the boy as Kook looked away.
Jungkook smiled back to his superior, “How could you have known it was me had I not?”
“Good point,” Namjoon said with a laugh as he motioned for Jungkook to sit down. There were no chairs before the man so Jungkook pulled up a lower-quality chair from the side of the room. Taehyung’s eyes flickered with amusement as he watched the boy; watched him as though he were prey. “Tell me everything, Kook.”
Jungkook grinned; Namjoon always called him Kook , and he couldn't lie that it was his favourite nickname, even if it did sound a bit childish at times. “I followed Yoongi--” Namjoon’s smile grew while Taehyung’s gaze flickered for just a moment with concern. Too bad Namjoon couldn’t have seen it. “All the way to the Park mansion--”
“What was he doing there?” Taehyung cut in. Namjoon’s eyes flicked to his second for a second, as if considering punishing him for speaking out of turn, but then decided against it. Jungkook took this as a sign to answer the question.
“I hadn’t heard their earlier conversation together, but Park Jimin, Kim Seokjin and Yoongi had all gotten into a car together and driven there. The Park boy had even gifted Yoongi his own little condo on his property--” Namjoon’s hand tightened on the edge of his chair. He frowned, obviously remembering the thing sworn to him by Yoongi. “And given him a brand new violin, like the one you got him when he first joined. He took the violin, played it once, then drank the night away as far as I’m concerned.”
"What did he play with the violin?" Namjoon asked calmly.
"Nothing," Jungkook said, "He played it once and dropped it."
Namjoon nodded to this, hand still gripping the arm of his throne. Taehyung rested a hand onto Joon’s shoulder, that hand at the end of the armchair losing its grip for just a moment before it returned. “So he’s snuck off with the heir, hasn’t he?” He said.
“Apparently,” Jungkook said in response.
“Does he still have my coat and necklace?”
“The coat he wears and the necklace . . .” Namjoon’s eyes snapped open in calm fury as Jungkook informed his leader of the state of his golden watch-necklace. “It hangs around his neck like a trophy. He knew how much it would anger you to see it that way.”
Namjoon laughed lightly, almost a chuckle as he shook his head, “Smart boy,” He said slowly, “Just the way I raised him to be.”
Smart wasn’t the way Jungkook would describe the boy, but he wouldn’t just contradict Namjoon in front of him.
“What are we going to do about it?” Taehyung asked, staring towards Jungkook.
Jungkook shrugged, glancing to Namjoon, who smiled.
“Well, it seems we’re going to have to get our shit back quickly, no?”
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
The morning, just like the last, was greeted with a heavy headache and a good dose of regret for drinking as much as Yoongi had. A crusty texture on his face had him already being aware of the line of drool that had escaped from his lips, as well as the multiple glass bottles of liquor scattered around the bed. There were more bottles on the bedside tables, almost crammed to the brim. He’d drunk around . . . he didn’t know, but lots. Around twenty would have been his guess, though hungover math was not really his strong suit.
What time had he woken up at? Yoongi answered that question by looking at the golden watch around his neck. Thankfully, no saliva had fallen onto that priceless thing. It was eleven in the morning, earlier than he’d expected to wake up, but so much later than usual. It seemed as though that violin had really shocked him harder than expected.
Seeing as though it was eleven, and no one was supposed to know that he was here, he might as well--
A tapping sound arose from somewhere in the room. Yoongi sat up slowly, blinking away the throbbing pain in his temples and searching through the watery light of the morning. The tapping sounded human, and hoped it wouldn’t be, as he really didn’t need someone seeing him this dead.
Yoongi brushed away the line of spit, rubbed his eyes, and turned towards the door.
And there in the doorway, to Yoongi’s ultimate surprise, was Kim Seokjin. His foot was indeed the thing that was tapping, though it wasn’t a calm tap. It seemed angry; almost agitated.
“Do you plan on just drinking your life away, Min Yoongi?” Oh no. His name. His full name. Seokjin had said his full name. He hadn’t even mentioned it to Jimin. How could Seokjin know it? Oh shit.
“Only if you plan to spend yours in Jimin’s shadow,” Deeper anger flickered over Seokjin’s eyes as the words hit their mark, harsher than Yoongi intended. Still, a burn for a burn.
“I see you’ve had, what . . . twenty drinks from the refrigerator? Less than what the slums rumoured you used to take a night,” A lopsided grin. What did he want?
“At least I have one accomplishment, compared to your none,” Yoongi grumbled, then smacked his lips, “What do you want, Seokjin?”
“To know why you accepted after you declined.” Seokjin meant about when he’d changed his mind and grabbed Jimin’s hand. That was odd, but not odd enough to come watch someone sleep for an indefinite amount of time. How pleasant; not only did he enjoy the shadows, but he also enjoyed watching people sleep. Jimin sure did choose a unique friend.
“Why’s it anything to you?” Wrong words. Those were the wrong words to say as Seokjin approached Yoongi. He took hard steps, coming close and grabbing a fistful of Yoongi’s shirt to lift him up. Under Seokjin's professional clothes, he looked nothing like the brute he was acting to be. Yoongi followed his shirt, the back collar biting into his neck as he was pushed to his feet. In his hangover, he could only sloppily grab the boy's hands as they tightened around the fabric.
“It’s something to me because I care about Jimin, unlike a gang member scum like you,” Seokjin held on, making sure their eyes met as he poured salt into Yoongi's closing wounds. “Everyone knows about you, about how you disappeared from your house to just be a part of Kim Namjoon’s gang-- how it broke your mother when she saw it, how it pushed her to a heart attack,” Yoongi’s eyes widened then narrowed. He pushed Seokjin away, with a bit of regained strength. The boy stumbled, but stood up straight, a stark contrast to Yoongi’s hunched form in his exhaustion.
“You don’t know anything about it,” Yoongi said slowly, fixing the shirt that Seokjin had ruffled. “All you’ve seen is the news, and like a rich pampered boy, you believed it like it was the law.”
“Law that you broke for your so-called ‘family’,” Seokjin met Yoongi’s eyes, met cold regret and didn’t walk to push Yoongi up again. They paused, staring at each other. “Were you really his third?”
“You don’t need to know anything about me, Kim Seokjin, other than that I now duo with Jimin,” Seokjin’s eyes flashed with frustration, Yoongi continued. “I don’t want anything from Jimin. I don’t want him,” A lie; he found him interesting for some reason, he just didn’t want to admit it to himself. “I don’t want his money, I don’t want his fame, I don’t want his friends, I don’t want his anything. He wanted to duet with me, he liked me, so why not?”
“You want something from it, you still do, I can see it,” Seokjin said.
“And you’re an oracle now? I just said that you know absolutely nothing, and you don’t. Stick to that, schoolboy,” Seokjin bristled at that.
“If you try and hurt Jimin, I’ll make sure the police know about everything you’ve done. You can’t go running back to Kim Namjoon, can you? That’s why you’re out here, on the run,” Yoongi’s eyes flashed. That was . . . surprisingly close to the truth, but he wouldn’t let the two-faced guard dog know that. “And now you’ve got Jimin to protect you. Don’t think I won’t turn you in the minute any shit starts to pick up around here.”
Shit, as in gang activity. Yoongi didn’t reply, glaring at Seokjin glared to him.
“For his sake, and my sake, don’t .” And with that, Seokjin left. Yoongi waited for the sound of the front door opening and closing before he let himself truly fume.
That boy, he knew everything. Knew of his mother’s pain, knew of him, of who he was. Stupid, stupid he was for giving out his name so carelessly to the first rich thing that sparked his interest. He should've used a fake name. Something other than an immediate identifier.
Anger-fueled, Yoongi took the golden watch around his neck and ripped it off, throwing it onto the bed as though it were nothing. His tongue, despite the night, longed for the release of drinks. Instead, he went to the bathroom to get rid of his anger and freshen up.
It took until the evening for Yoongi to finally get out of his once-hot bathtub and get dressed. It had been a very long time since he’d worn something other than his black overcoat, pants and black shirt, and as he slipped into a fresh button-up shirt and dress pants, he couldn’t help but feel foreign in his own body.
He felt . . . younger. His street-hardened clothing, discarded on top of his made bed, practically came from a different time. Yoongi gazed at his reflection in a nearby mirror, and frowned. He looked as he did when he had still lived with his mother . . .
A shudder ran through him. His mother, her heart attack, his absence.
With the way she’d demolished his violin, he didn’t think she had cared at all, let alone thought of it as an act of love . To someone as young as he’d been, it was as good as an act of hate.
The sun was low in the horizon now, but as it was always cloudy or grey these days, it didn’t make much of a difference. It was still always depressing; it was nothing like the joyous months of spring and summer. Sadly, the city still had winter to go through before they could see that sign of the coin.
A light rap of knocks on the front door of his shack had him stiffening. He was still in the upper levels of the mini-house, hadn’t left it since Seokjin’s arrival, and had been dreading seeing anyone since. Another light rap had him edging his way down the stairs. A third had him opening the door and finding Jimin on the other side, neck wrapped in a scarf and body wrapped in a long coat much like his, but white.
His blue eyes gazed to his as he said quietly, “Can I come in?”
“Might as well barge in, Jimin, none of it belongs to me.” Yoongi said, Jimin slowly came in, unwrapping his scarf and taking off his white coat, discarding them in the closet beside the front door.
“I like to think it’s yours; It would make me rude to just come in uninvited,” Jimin was so unlike Seokjin, who had just come in while he had been sleeping, tapping his feet as though he owned the place instead of Jimin. Yoongi concealed his spike of anger as best he could in front of Jimin. “Anyways, how was your day?”
“Boring, really,” Yoongi said with a yawn, not wanting to tell him of Seokjin.
“You didn’t practice, or go on your phone?”
“The . . . the violin cracked, and I didn’t want to touch it,” Yoongi explained quickly, then said as well, “I don’t have a phone-- or, I do, but it’s a flip phone.”
Jimin’s smile grew larger, “A flip phone? How old school.”
“Well, when you live on a budget of two cents per meal, it’s really hard to afford one of those new shiny gadgets,” Yoongi said.
“ Gadgets, ” Jimin mimicked, “You sound like you’ve been isolated from society.”
“You . . . could say that,” Yoongi said quietly, and before Jimin could ask him to elaborate on his words, he took the boy’s attention to the new violin. Said violin was still on the ground, a nasty crack running through the front.
“Oh my,” Jimin said, bending down and taking the instrument gently into his hands. He ran a finger down the line of the crack, staring at it in concern like it were a baby, lips pursed as he examined it. “What happened?”
“I . . . dropped it,” Yoongi said hesitantly, playing with his thumbs as he said so, “And it got a crack . . .”
“You speak like a child for someone who looks old enough to run a business,” Jimin teased, and Yoongi smiled. At least it hadn’t been a question. “I think . . . I think it’s still playable. Why don’t you give it a try?”
Yoongi gulped, nodding. Worse than a question, a demonstration. Jimin offered the violin to him, which he took into his hands. “Sure . . .” Yoongi said slowly as he took the bow from Jimin’s hands, which the boy had also picked up from the ground. When Yoongi hesitated more, Jimin gave him a concerned look.
“Is everything alright, Yoongi?” Jimin asked softly and took a step closer. Yoongi instinctively took a step back, Jimin’s face flashing with slight hurt and more concern.
“Yes, of course everything’s alright. Just . . . give me a second,” So Jimin did. After a moment, he took a seat at the great white piano. The boy looked perfect for the instrument, almost making Yoongi envy him for his aesthetic.
That didn’t matter now, of course, when he was hesitating so much to play a contraption that Jimin deemed he sounded amazing on. If Seokjin hadn’t yet exposed his identity like a tattle-tale, then maybe he still had a chance to get kicked out. At least with his title, he didn’t have to prove himself to anyone.
“Here, I’ll go first,” Jimin said quietly. Yoongi glanced at him, eyes filled with surprise as he let the violin fall slack in his grip.
Jimin placed his fingers onto the keys, some on the black, some all on the white, and watched the piano for a moment before the left hand struck the instrument.
A deep, deep chord from the lower side of the musical spectrum reverberated in his core. The song went high, back to low, then burst into a rhythm. The song was fast, yet Jimin’s fingers were faster. They were never sloppy, even when he had to move his hands so quickly from one position to the next that Yoongi swore he would’ve made a mistake had it been him on the seat. Jimin continued, eyes slightly closed as the boy fell into his own music, unaware of the wide-eyed disgraced heir beside him.
The music peaked, going into a magnificent crescendo that put Yoongi into something of a trance. He swayed with the music, not daring to close his eyes if only to lose himself. It peaked again, again, again , until it every so slowly got quieter and quieter, leading to its conclusion.
This song was a classic, obviously. It just sounded old , and as though it would fit perfectly with a violin beside it. If this were their duet song, maybe they did have a chance of winning.
Jimin, nearing the end, was smiling. By the time he was finished, he was beaming and breathing a bit unsteadily, as though the playing had exhausted him. He turned his gaze to Yoongi, who was still staring at the keys.
“It was . . .” Yoongi began, struggling for his words for the first instance in a long time. “Beautiful.”
“That’s what they all say, don’t they?” Jimin asked, a smile still on his lips, voice a bit weak. “But, thank you. I appreciate it.”
So, he’d heard of Park Jimin, but never heard him actually play. He’d been banished before he could have ever had the chance. Now he felt . . . foolish for leaving-- for choosing the life he had chosen.
Yet, he didn’t resent it, if not to lead him to the point where he was now.
“Is that song our . . . ?” Yoongi asked hesitantly, gazing at the piano. It seemed Jimin had memorized it, yet it was only five minutes long. Most Legend’s Duet’s were longer, some going to thirty minutes until an instrument broke or such.
“Our Legend’s Duet song?” Jimin said, gazing at the piano. He reached out a hand and touched the top of the instrument, lightly tracking dust where his fingers landed. He wiped the residue onto his pants and shrugged. “Seokjin and I have been practicing it for a while, but I find it . . . lackluster. That's only part of it, too.”
Of course he did, Yoongi laughed to himself, earning a look of confusion from Jimin. Only a prodigy would think a song such as the one he had just played would have been lackluster .
“We only have a month, and if not that, then what?” Yoongi asked. He still held the violin, had cursed himself for almost allowing it to slip while Jimin had played, and held on tighter than before. “Believe me, though. That song was anything but lackluster.”
Jimin chuckled to himself, “That’s only the first part of the song . . . the full thing is about twelve minutes, that wasn’t even half of it, really. Seokjinnie had trouble with some parts, which is what held us back, really.” So the guard dog screwed up and got pissy about a new challenger with better skills coming to town. How rich-boy typical. “But . . . yes, maybe we could do that song . . . It’s one that my piano teacher, Jung Hoseok, got custom written for us. It’s perfect for a duet. But . . . do you want that song?”
Giving him the choice? Yoongi let out a bit of a laugh and got closer. Jimin saw this and moved his place on the seat, almost going on the edge as he looked away for a moment, returning to Yoongi with dusted pink cheeks. Yoongi didn’t take the seat. “Did you bring any sheet music? Maybe for the violin?”
Jimin’s eyes widened as he thought. He got up without a word and scrambled over to his jacket. In a few moments, he was back with crumpled music sheets. There were lots, almost thirty-five pages of it. The song was . . . daringly complicated, but nothing he hadn’t seen at ten years old thanks to his mother. Yoongi glanced up through his brown hair. “I can get this down in two weeks, if that’s fine,” Said Yoongi.
Jimin lit up instantly. “T-that’s amazing!” He said with a slight stutter, “We’ve been practicing this one for six months and . . . only half . . .” He trailed off. Yoongi gave him a smile to which he turned away from.
Yoongi glanced away, violin still in hand as he brought a music stand to himself. Actually, a gold music stand. Yoongi stared at it, almost in awe.
Was there anything in this place that didn’t scream “rich-boy power”?
Nevertheless, he took the stand and placed the thick packet of sheets onto the stand.
“I’ll start, okay Yoongi?” Jimin said quietly as he tapped his foot four times before starting. Yoongi positioned the violin, breathing in and out for a moment or two before he pulled the bow across the strings, hands shaking slightly as he did so.
He . . . couldn’t hear the violin.
He couldn’t hear it’s right, familiar sound and therefore . . . could play. He stared at the strings, then to Jimin, and smiled. The bow, the strings, they felt so fine and nice. The sound, he didn’t hear, but the textures, he could feel.
He could feel, and ignored as best he could.
Maybe with Jimin there was a chance he could learn to love himself again.
Yoongi shook his head, banishing the thought and took another deep breath before he began to musically dance along with Jimin.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
They, as always, had big things planned for that night.
Kim Namjoon and Jeon Jungkook were together, walking the streets in disguises towards their next objective. Everyone knew what the Crime Lord looked like, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to get his hands dirt, leaving tons of hints to who it was, and never getting caught.
It was just what he did.
What else did he love to do?
Jeon Jungkook huffed into the air, smiling in anticipation of what was to come.
The duo were in pursuit of an ex-gang member who had stolen a single gold ring from Joon. It had been nothing compared to the stashes of gold and jewelry that Namjoon possessed, but it was one thing to show weakness and let something go and another to make them suffer and send a message.
Punishment is deserved if you dare to play with the devil, Namjoon had said to Taehyung and he before getting ready to depart. Tae had stayed on orders of Joon to guard the hideout, and had done so willingly. Lucky for him, that meant that Jungkook had more time with his superior.
“Almost there,” Namjoon said under his hood. Unfortunately, it wasn’t raining, which meant they’d have to conceal their steps more than during a downpour. As they neared the darker parts of the slums, their footsteps became lighter and lighter until they were no more than gentle vibrations on the concrete ground, a result of years of training.
The two approached a door in the back of an alleyway. Gazing up, Jungkook saw that it was a very small apartment complex made for those with extremely low salaries. The sides of the building smelt like piss and the bricks jutting out from the front were ugly and discoloured from age. Nevertheless, Namjoon took out an ungloved hand, better for the police to know who it was , he liked to say, and touched it all over before taking out a tool to pick the lock.
Then, Namjoon paused. “Hand me a cloth,” He whispered, and Jungkook did. Joon placed the cloth around the handle, holding it sturdy. Then, he began lockpicking. It took a few seconds and some muffled jangles before there was a sound of unlocking and the door, with Namjoon’s help, opened.
“Bingo,” Jungkook said, “We’re in.”
Namjoon gave him a look that told him to be quiet as they went in. There were stairs, rooms, and more stairs leading upwards into the higher levels of the complex. They were going to the third floor, room 305, and began ascending the steps.
Footsteps as light as feathers, they approached their final destination. Namjoon took out his gun, a silencer lightly placed on the tip, and knocked on the door. Grumbling sounded from the other side as a man, Yeon Bin , came to unlock it. There was only a split second between the opening of the door and the time when Namjoon shot the man. A muffled sound came from the gun and a scream from the man as he fell down, clutching his bosom.
“F-fuck you!” He said as he toppled down, gasping as blood came to rise. Namjoon glared as the body, treating it as though it were nothing as he kicked open the door and stomped on Bin's body. "F-F-" The sounds were lost in the space as the kicks continued and the anger from the wound, now bleeding all over his shirt, stopped him from speaking.
“Cut him, Jungkook,” Said Namjoon as he calmly walked into the apartment room. The place was nicely furnished, and would have been comforting had it not been filled to the brim with drugs. Packets and syringes littered the small table near the couches of a cluttered living room, and as Namjoon got closer to the little table, his face scrunched up as he beheld the substances. He placed his foot upon the furniture and kicked it over, watching as the open packets coughed out dusts in puffs of air and syringes shattered, liquids oozing out as the glass cracked around them. Yeon Bin made a quiet whine as he watched his investments turn to garbage.
Yeah, I know Yeon Bin, Taehyung had said to Namjoon when the leader had asked about him one evening, a dead look within his eyes, He comes for heroin every two weeks. I have all his info if you need it. The crime lord had gladly taken it all.
“Please, Joon-” Bin was cut off as Jungkook gave him a hard punch to his cheek. Nobody like Yeon Bin deserved to call Kim Namjoon by his nickname, and Jungkook knew that the most. A laugh sounded from Namjoon and a small ‘nice one, Kook,’ as the leader continued to search. “Please . . . “
As Jungkook began to slice into the delicate skin of Yeon Bing, a small sound of something pouring came from the kitchen, then Namjoon appeared with two wine glasses filled with alcohol. He gently placed one down onto a table, but kept hold of the other one in his hands. That free hand was then filled with a gun as Namjoon knelt before Yeon Bin and stared at him. “So,” He said, taking the gun close to the man's head. Yeon Bin shuddered, blood slightly crusting his lips as he coughed and struggled to breathe. “Where’s my ring?”
“What ring ?!” Said Bin, spitting lightly. “I never took a ring from you! I never took anything! Fuck-- ,” Jungkook whipped his own knife across the face of Yeon Bin, stopping him from saying the next thing he was going to. Blood dribbled lightly from the deep slice as he rasped, “I don’t have . . . a ring.”
“The golden ring you took from me when I banished you, you don’t have that one? I think my drug dealer strictly remembers seeing you buying heroin with that ring on your finger, is that right?” Realization sparked onto the victim’s face, the fact that Kim Taehyung was also part of Namjoon’s gang hitting him like a brick. “Or did you sell it to buy more heroin?” The slight hesitation in Yeon Bin’s speech gave Namjoon all the answer he needed. “Disgusting.” Namjoon said, then aimed his gun at the man’s skull, and despite the pleas for mercy, pulled the trigger.
Blood, warm and red, splattered onto the legs of Namjoon and the face of Jungkook. The boy gazed at the man, who shrugged.
Jungkook touched his face with a gentle finger and rubbed the blood down his cheek. He hesitantly took it away, and gazed at it, then to Namjoon.
"Don't act any different just because he begged, Kook," Said Namjoon as he moved his head from side to side and cracked the bones. Small popping sounds came from his as Jungkook nodded, sighing.
"I don't usually get blood on my face," Jungkook said simply, "It's weird."
They both paused, Namjoon staring at the body for a second before kicking it, then spitting on it.
"So he didn't have your ring, Joon?"
“I’ll just have to ask Taehyung to get it back. It shouldn’t be too hard,” Namjoon said nonchalantly, as though he hadn’t just murdered a man, and placed his gun back into his coat. He picked up the second wine glass once more, and, heading towards Jungkook, placed it gently into his hands. Namjoon smiled, taking the pad of his thumb and wiping away a bit of blood from Jungkook’s cheek before he turned away and spoke.
“The end to a new beginning,” He said powerfully, and drank.
By the time Kim Namjoon and Jeon Jungkook had come back to the hideout, it was well past midnight. Taehyung, who had been sitting on the arm of the crime lord’s throne, had gotten up and greeted them. Though, he had quickly washed his hands after, as blood had been smeared onto his palms. In fact, they both looked like they’d bathed in blood.
“So you killed Yeon Bin?” He asked to Namjoon. The other boy, Jungkook, had left, opting to take a shower instead of stay to watch their conversation.
“How could I not?” Namjoon said with a slight laugh. He carried two wine glasses with him which Taehyung supposed he’d add to his collection.
“And as always, you left your mark?”
“As always,” Said Namjoon, placing the wine glasses on a table where one of the members would later take them to their vaults. Vaults of gold and money and such, nothing grand for the Lord, really. “He said he sold my ring, so I really didn’t have a choice.”
“And you killed him for a single ring?” Taehyung asked.
“Of course. Nobody steals from me and gets out alive,” Namjoon had walked over to his throne now, sitting down as Taehyung pulled up a chair of his own before the mighty seat. Droplets of dried blood would be rubbing against the expensive velvet, and Tae wondered if Namjoon noticed, or ignored it out of exhaustion.
“And of that Yoongi boy?” Taehyung asked quietly, rubbing his wet hands against his body to dry them.
“Well, let’s just say his ending will be written very creatively,” Said Namjoon with a hate-tinged laugh. “I don’t want you bring him up, Taehyung. Is that clear?”
“Of course, Namjoon. Sorry,” Taehyung said quietly as he turned away, getting up and moving for the wine glasses. Guilt clanged through his body as he picked them up and began walking to place them somewhere else. Yoongi would die creatively. The boy, only eighteen, so young, didn’t deserve that.
So deep in his thoughts, Taehyung forgot to look where he was going. He brushed an arm against Jungkook’s as the boy returned from his shower. He only had his pants on as of that moment, a white, clean towel draped around his neck. His biceps and chest were prominent as he walked, abs even more so; for him to be walking around so naked meant he must feel comfortable. They matched eyes only for a moment before Taehyung smiled and gave the glasses to him. Jungkook glanced at them, then shook his head, mumbling a swear towards Tae as he left to place the wine glasses somewhere else.
“Oh, and Taehyung?” Namjoon said from his throne. He was picking at his fingers now, eyes concentrated on the blood crusted under his half-moon nails instead of Taehyung.
“Find me that ring, please.”
“. . . Of course.”
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Night after night after night was spent upon keys and strings for the Min and Park boys. Since the night of which Yoongi had finally played the rich violin, they had not stopped the golden opportunity that was practice. Time and time again they redid the same song, sometimes going farther than before and keeping them invested in the notes. Like a drug, the more they uncovered, the more they wanted it.
They had had little rest, using the time of sleep to play their instruments like no tomorrow. It was a gracious cycle, and one that they both enjoyed. Yoongi, pressed against his violin and Jimin, pressed against the keys of the white piano in the shack, both finished the part they had been playing. Jimin looked up to Yoongi with tired, blue eyes and smiled.
“I’m sorry, Yoongi, but I think I’m going to drop dead soon,” He said, smiling a bit stronger when Yoongi let out a laugh.
"That's fine. I think it's gonna be the same for me too, soon," Yoongi said and nodded, placing the new violin onto its stand and taking away the golden music stands back to where he had found them days before. Jimin got up, neatly pressing the red piano seat under the instrument and come to Yoongi.
The boy tripped suddenly, falling into Yoongi’s open arms. Yoongi froze for a moment before leaning into the hug. Jimin laughed softly, mumbled a ‘sorry’ and leaned in as well.
Like that they stood, leaning into the warmth of each other during their tired limbo’s. Jimin, Yoongi noticed, smelt slightly of soap, as though he never went one day without a hot shower. Yoongi, on the other hand, smelt simply like fresh clothing. He supposed the boy would’ve had a different scent had he been wearing the clothes that he had been on the streets. Yoongi also had a slight tang of metal to him, but that was just because of the golden necklace wrapped around his throat. He’d put it back on after playing a few hours of the violin, stopping their training just to fetch it.
Yoongi leaned away first, and there they were, gazing at each other. Jimin’s cheeks were dusted slightly with pink while Yoongi’s face was a bit less pigmented, as though all that was had truly been a hug to Jimin. They both glanced away, Yoongi in a shocked silence while Jimin laughed, his smile brightening up the room just a bit more.
“I’ll be going, then?” Jimin asked as he went to the closet to grab his coat.
“I think that would be best,” Yoongi said as he followed Jimin to the door. Yoongi didn’t open the door until the last minute when Jimin was finally ready. “Get a good night’s sleep, okay?”
“I wasn’t planning on it, but now that you said it, I just might,” said Jimin in a velvet tone as Yoongi opened the door and the boy walked out. Instantly, the chill of the night hit him.
“Try to stay warm, Jimin,” Yoongi said with a smile as he waved minutely to Jimin, who waved back in the same manner.
“Will do,” He said, and that was when Yoongi closed the door and let out a sigh. Instantly, he placed his face into his hands and rubbed. What was that? Why was that? How was that . . .?
Flustered, Yoongi quickly turned all of the shack lights off and ascended the stairs into his room. He plopped onto the bed. He had done that and . . . Jimin hadn’t seemed opposed to what he was doing . . . Maybe he was tired? Yes. Maybe he was tired and didn’t know what he was doing. Hopefully . . . Oh, what was he thinking now?
Yoongi got to his feet from where he had sat onto the bed and paced. His fingers itched for his old violin, but it would be no use. In a moment, that itch had turned into a craving for his drinking addiction. Yoongi froze. Taehyung.
A wave of sadness crashed over his body as he remembered his friend with Kim Namjoon. How had he forgotten about him? Ugh , Yoongi thought to himself as he immediately began dressing to go and meet his old friend, so it’s now established that I’m not only a horrible human being, but friend as well? Sweet.
He turned off the lights, shoved his golden watch around his neck into his shirt (the metal stung against his skin for a bit as the cold took effect on his chest) and opened up a window. He could see nothing, looking out into the pitch-black dark, but took the plunge anyways.
He plummeted, falling onto bent knees and feet that ached for a bit as he re-stabilized himself and got accustomed to ground that wasn’t smooth hardwood. His room when he got back would be horribly cold, but for Taehyung, he supposed it wouldn’t matter. By the time he reached the outer perimeters of the property, his exhaustion was forgotten, longing draining the overflowing glass of tired.
Yoongi stared at the tall, outer perimeter wall. He quickly rubbed his hands together, a bit of sweat already forming on his palms as he jumped. He held on as best he could and threw himself up, going over the wall and landing on the other side with his knees bent. He wobbled, toppling forward and then falling onto his hands. He huffed out a breath, the vapor forming before him as he took off in a walk.
It wasn’t long before he reached a part of the city slums and began to walk a bit faster. In a few moments he was within the vicinity of Taehyung. Yoongi approached the dark alleyway, hesitantly walking down it with light steps, one that Kim Namjoon had taught him how to use. As he came closer, there was a shuffling inside of the tent, and a familiar head popped out. Something briefly moved in the shadows around them, but Yoongi paid no mind as he ran to Taehyung and took him into a swift embrace.
“Yoongi,” Taehyung said, breathing into the dark overcoat that Yoongi always wore. “They know.”
The embrace was broken off, Yoongi staring at Taehyung. Who knew? He backed up a bit, grabbing one of Taehyung’s many pillows and sitting on it. The boy before him shuffled out of his tent and onto his own pillow. He gazed at the ground for a moment, mouth going dry. “Who knows?” Asked Yoongi.
“Jungkook. Namjoon. They know where you’ve been. They know about Park Jimin and Kim Seokjin. They know, Yoongi, they know where you’ve been. ” Taehyung said this briefly. He seemed more on edge than before. Yoongi wanted to just return to that calm night before he had been taken to Jimin’s house, just to see his friend’s face as it had been then.
“How? How do they know, Tae?” Yoongi pressed.
“Jungkook. Jungkook’s been watching you. He knows you’re in that shack, knows you’re with Park Jimin, playing another violin. Kim Namjoon knows that you’re still wearing what you stole from him.”
The words hit Yoongi, stabbed him, even. He stared at Taehyung, the emotions in his body not staying long enough to fall onto his face. For that, his heart began to rush, more than it ever had, and he pressed a hand around his stopwatch, feeling the ticks slither between his fingers. Not even in a single mission had he felt this sort of fear, not when he had . . . never mind that; not even the steady tick of the watch could sooth him.
Then, Taehyung continued. He explained all that had happened, all that he knew, why he was so on edge. He didn’t waste a single breath on anything other than helping Yoongi, and for that, his heart ached. He was known to be loyal to the gang, but right now, he was loyal to Yoongi.
“They’re coming soon. You can’t be here, it’s a risk for both of us,” Taehyung said, eyes bouncing off of every wall. That humour from earlier was gone, and Yoongi longed to see just a drop of it. “Here, take this--” In his hands was a very strong bottle of alcohol. He handed it to Yoongi, no price charged. He never did this, and for that, Yoongi felt even more helpless. “And run. Please, I’ll come to you. If I’m silent . . . you know what it means,” Yoongi’s stomach dropped, but he nodded.
“Taehyung . . .” Yoongi said quietly, “I love you like a brother, you know that, right?”
For a moment, Taehyung paused. His body became normal as he gave him a smile and a gentle laugh and said, “Of course, Yoongi. I love you too.”
Taehyung reached for Yoongi's hands, their calluses rubbing against one another as Taehyung's long fingers wrapped around his own, and held them there. "You gave me the chance to be a big brother again, Yoongi, and if those are my last words, then thank you."
"You're not dead yet, Tae," Yoongi said quickly, "You're talking like you can't run and stay with me. You're talking like-"
"Yoongi, did you ever wonder why you were the only escaped member to have lasted as long as you have?" Taehyung asked softly, then brought one hand to Yoongi's forearm as realization dawned upon his face. "Now please, if you don't hear anything, you'll know."
Taehyung took his hands away, and shuffled back into his tent. A few choked noises could be heard from within, but nothing loud. Yoongi gulped and turned away and sprinted to the Park mansion as fast as he could. He was paranoid now, and felt watched with every turn he took.
He wasn’t wrong, as Jungkook had been following him. Since Yoongi had left the shack, he had had a shadow behind him. One that had seen Taehyung’s real loyalty, and one that would report it all to Kim Namjoon.
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Four years ago .
The lair common room was a clean place that a fourteen year old Min Yoongi had come to know in recent years. It wasn’t littered with bottles or drugs or anything that he’d have expected when he’d first came two years ago, but instead neat and tidy, as though someone here had a knack for organization. There was a plush red throne in the center of the room and a few other pieces of furniture, but other than that, was a bit empty. The only thing that saved it from being a ghost town were the multiple members of Kim Namjoon’s gang that came in and out, providing entertainment for the younger audiences in the Crime Lord’s hands.
Two bodies hadn’t left the common room since noon, which both happened to be dearly engrossed in their game of chess. A sixteen year old Kim Taehyung, Kim Namjoon’s second-in-hand, leaned over an expensive-looking chess board and knocked over Yoongi’s pawn with his knight. Yoongi let out a groan, his voice higher than the present, as he realized he was surely going to lose then.
Taehyung had been teaching young Yoongi how to play chess, which was why they had been there since the after-morning hours. No bottle of alcohol was in sight, for Taehyung had claimed that it had no place in a sophisticated game of chess; Yoongi had scoffed and playfully punched his arm, sending them both laughing. Only Taehyung was laughing now as he knocked over the queen of Yoongi, effectively winning the game.
“That’s not fair . . .” groaned Yoongi, who stared at the board, “I forgot what the pawn does . . .”
“Hey,” Taehyung said with a smile and a laugh, “A move is a move.”
“But you’re teaching me!”
“Discovery learning, isn’t that what they call it?”
“But you’re not even stopping me or telling me the rules!” Yoongi whined.
“Oh, don’t be such a sore loser, Yoongi,” Taehyung said, “Let’s set up the board and I’ll repeat the rules again. Maybe I’ll even go easy on you this time.”
“You suck,” Yoongi said with a pout but obeyed and reset the board. He was playing the black pieces while Taehyung on the other end was playing on the white side. The board and it’s pieces were brand new, courtesy of Taehyung’s request to Kim Namjoon, who had ordered the finest playset he could find once he had heard of Yoongi’s newfound interest.
“And you swallow.”
“Awh,” Yoongi said with disgust, “You’re gross, Tae.”
“Not gross!” He said with a smile, “Unique . . .”
Taehyung trailed off when the lair door slammed open and a fourteen year old Jungkook appeared with an eighteen year old Kim Namjoon following him. The man, who was currently chastising Jungkook for opening the door with such force, looked relatively the same as the present; save for the golden stopwatch hanging around his neck and the calm glint in his eyes that seemed to have vanished in recent years after Yoongi’s leaving. Namjoon’s fists are split, blood slightly running down his fingers, with a bottle of alcohol in held in his palm.
Kim Namjoon only noticed Taehyung and Yoongi after Jungkook had been dismissed, who’d been talking back to the eighteen-year old. Talking back to him after Yoongi’s disappearance was forbidden, and one was often thrown out because of it. Only Taehyung and sometimes Jungkook were able to do it, and even then, it was limited.
“Still playing?” Namjoon asked, rounding over to Taehyung, who was smiling like a proud son.
“Yep!” He said, taking his first move onto the chess board and leaving Yoongi to calculate. “We’ve been at it since twelve.”
“Hah,” Namjoon said with a bit of a laugh as he stared at Yoongi’s move, “Amateur choice, Yoongi,” he said, then bent down and whispered into Yoongi’s ear, “Use your pawn to . . .” And then trailed off with chess terminology that seemed like nonsense to Yoongi, but the boy knew he’d be thankful for it later. “It can be a bit tough on the mind . . . drink?” He asked after he’d finished his information dumping, motioning to the bottle in his hands which was half full.
Yoongi stared at it. He didn’t know whether to accept it or not.
“No,” Taehyung said as he made his move, “He doesn’t want it, Namjoon. It’s fine.”
“You sure?” Namjoon asked, and stretched.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” He said, glancing to Yoongi, “We wanna be smarter,” He said, tapping his head, which made Yoongi snort, “Even gang members know that it dumbs you down. Plus, it’s bad for you. You should know that.”
“Ah,” Said Namjoon as he continued to stretch his body, shrugging, “It’s better than drugs,” His body suddenly tensed, his loose hand upon his bottle shooting into a grip. He glanced to Taehyung, where they shared a look. Namjoon’s eyes were filled with a sudden distress that Yoongi hadn’t seen before, and was desperately trying to decipher. The Crime Lord turned away before he could finish his analyzing.
“Nevermind,” Namjoon said quietly, “I’m going out again.”
“Be safe,” Taehyung nodded and said as Namjoon opened the lair door once more and left the common room for the outside. Yoongi glanced to Taehyung, begging for information. Taehyung simply shrugged and said, “Bah, he’s just in a bad mood.”
“It didn’t seem that way,” Yoongi muttered as he made his move, following the directions based on the predictions that Namjoon had made of Taehyung’s moves that were . . . surprisingly correct.
“He’s just got a lot of stress,” Taehyung said as they continued, “Don’t sweat it.”
Yoongi had more to say, but kept his mouth shut, clamping his teeth on his tongue. He’d never spoken much, nor did he like to, but Taehyung just made him speak. He smiled to himself from that, and made another move on the chess board.
The time had been around eight o’clock, but they continued to play until twelve in the morning. They’d concluded their game not shortly from then, and since that, Yoongi had been left on his own, Taehyung announcing that he’d have to go soon, and that he’d let Yoongi know when he’d be leaving. Yoongi had nodded and taken to wandering the halls since he hadn’t yet memorized them, even though he’d been there for two years now.
The halls were clean, their inside janitor doing a great job of keeping everything nice and quality. The janitor wasn’t actually allowed outside of the lair, though. The money he was receiving, Namjoon had told him, couldn’t actually be used by him. Yoongi had told him that that was unfair to the janitor, who thought he’d be able to leave in a year, but Namjoon simply told him that life was unfair sometimes.
Yoongi turned a corner and headed towards his room, which was secluded from a lot of the other rookies' abodes and closer to Namjoon’s room, just like Jungkook’s. Suddenly, out of the shadows, there the boy popped out, a stupid grin slapped onto his face and a familiar ‘you’re in for it’ look upon his eyes. He approached, hands wiggling before him.
“I saw that you didn't drink it,” He snickered, “A pretty wuss thing to do, if you ask me. It was especially funny when Tae had to come and save you there.”
“Yeah? Were you crawling through the vents like a scrawny rat again?”
“Yeah,” Jungkook said a bit hesitant at the admittance, “I bet you’d be doing it too if you didn’t want your clothes dirty, rich boy ,” He said, poking at Yoongi’s clean shirt, which he’d picked out for himself that day. Unlike most of the other gang’s clothes, his were cleaned with Namjoon and Taehyung’s laundry batches, which only received the finest washes. Jungkook’s loads, on the other half, were self-cleaned, which explained the little stains he couldn’t manage to get out of it.
“I’m not a rich boy anymore,” Yoongi said with a glare, wiping off Jungkook’s touch from his shirt.
“Oh yeah? Keep telling that to your nice smelling clothes and special treatment, alright?”
“Yeah, at least they protect me from your skunk-scent,” Yoongi said with a fake gag, making Jungkook’s eyes widen.
“Screw you, Min,” Jungkook said as he took off into the shadows again, where the boy liked to spy and stay unnoticed. The encounter was done quickly, as it always was when Jungkook randomly popped out of shadows to tease the boy. Yoongi snorted and continued on until another body popped out from a corner. Yoongi tensed, but then relaxed, seeing as it was Taehyung who was there. The boy didn’t speak until Jungkook was out of sight.
“Don’t mind him,” Taehyung said in a breathy laugh that made Yoongi fully relax in a matter of seconds, “He’s just a bit . . . jealous, sometimes.”
Yoongi shook his head, letting out a sigh, “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight.”
“How come?” Taehyung asked.
Yoongi didn’t answer. In truth, Jungkook scared him a bit, with his shadow-sense and vent-hopping. For whatever he knew, he could be in a vent above them listening in at this moment, so he chose not to answer truthfully. He especially didn’t want his neck slit tonight, either.
“Well,” Taehyung said slowly after a moment realizing that Yoongi wouldn’t answer, “You could come and watch over my tent with me,” He said with a smile, “How does that sound?”
Yoongi glanced up, brightening immediately. He’d never come with Taehyung to his tent before, mainly because he said there was too much alcohol and drugs, and that it was dangerous with all the broken glass and clients and whatnot. This was immediately exciting. Then a thought came about, and Yoongi pouted, slowing down his fast nods. “Wait,” He said, “You won’t have to ask Namjoon about it?”
“Already did,” Taehyung said with a wink and pointed toward Namjoon’s bedroom door. He’d only been inside once, and it had been fairly brief. He’d only seen a big bed, a giant desk with loads of paper, and a foreign looking rug that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the aura of the room. After the point from Taehyung, the door slowly shut closed. It seemed Namjoon didn’t want to be bothered.
Before Yoongi could brighten up once more, Taehyung laughed deeply and said, “I’ll race you . . .” Then, before Yoongi could fully register the words, sprinted off.
Yoongi stuttered, trying to grasp what had just happened, then laughed and ran after him, yelling, “Hey! Hold up! I don’t even know the way!”
It took about half an hour of following Taehyung for them to end up at the tent. It was around one in the morning when they arrived, it took half of an hour to set up the tent, another half hour to set up the alcohol and drugs from where they were safely hidden in a safe somewhere close, then (stupidly) another half hour to find Taehyung’s sitting pillows, which he insisted were invaluable to him.
Then, they finally sat down, and Taehyung pulled out an expensive sushi box that made Yoongi’s stomach growl. He opened the box which made the boy stare at the food, not having eaten anything but a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and the exhaustion of the lack of calories taking its effect.
“You like?” Taehyung said with a smile, “Well, Namjoon got it for me. He said it was from Japan, and in that sense, ‘ authentic ’ . . .” He then took out two sets of chopsticks and handed one to Yoongi. They both ripped the paper coverings and took out the wooden sticks, moving their fingers into the positions best made to grab them. “Really hope it tastes that way.”
“Namjoon doesn’t lie,” Yoongi said quietly as he took his first bite. He smiled in the luxury, as it did taste amazing. The simple tastes colliding in his mouth to make multiple flavours a reality. Yoongi glanced to Taehyung, who seemed to be experiencing the same feelings, they grinned at each other, finishing the box in seconds. There had been sixteen pieces, four rolls of four, and they’d split it equally in half.
“We forgot the soy sauce,” Taehyung said after a minute, then ripped the pack and poured the dark liquid into his mouth. Yoongi’s face contorted in disgust.
“Ew!” Yoongi said, lightly pushing Taehyung with his hands, “Gross, Tae.”
“Sorry, should’ve shared.”
Yoongi shook his head with a short laugh. The sushi was finished, and now they sat there in silence. It was exactly awkward silence, but it was close to them just enjoying each other’s presence, as though words weren’t needed to communicate what needed to be said. Occasionally a weird sound would happen, but until half an hour had passed, neither of them talked.
“I don’t usually get a lot of customers,” Taehyung said out of the blue as he stared into the alleyway before them. Yoongi turned his head to his friend, who shrugged, “Most people don’t know how to get to this place, and for good reason, right? If it was easy, then I’d be caught easy.”
“Namjoon made it that way, right? He chose the place so that you wouldn’t be in danger,” Yoongi said with a sigh.
“Yup, even told me that I’d be alone most nights because of it.”
“You don’t get lonely?”
“Well,” Taehyung said with a breath, “It’s nice to get out sometimes, the lair can be suffocating. Plus, who wouldn’t want to get away from ‘ The Big Power’ once in a while?”
Yoongi let out a laugh, “Did he used to call himself ‘The Big Power’?”
Taehyung nodded, “Pretty stupid, I know, but when we’d first met, he didn’t want to give his name, so he called himself that.”
“And you went along with it?”
“How could I not?” Taehyung said with a snort, “Every kid likes a good laugh.”
Yoongi smiled to that, his full stomach settling in his body as he moved a bit to the side. Then his smile disappeared for a moment as he thought back to his childhood, which had been cut off quite short. As though it had never been there, it’d been consumed with a violin then snipped in half by his acceptance to Kim Namjoon’s gang, which he’d come to at twelve.
“I never got to laugh a lot as a kid,” Said Yoongi suddenly, which made Taehyung blink. Yoongi never talked about his past, not even to Taehyung, who’d been like another guardian to him since he’d come to the lair and called it his new living area. Only Namjoon knew why he’d left his rich, pampered armour, and he had yet to tell anyone, not even his second knew.
“I guess you wouldn’t have been able to,” Said Taehyung, looking up to the night sky, “Being a Min and all.”
“Yeah,” Yoongi scoffed and threw a nearby piece of glass to the side of the alley. “My mom was always running around everywhere, worrying about me and my violin. My dad was always beside my mom, and never tried to stop her or anything . . . He wasn’t a Min originally, y’know? It was my mom who was the heir.”
“Oh yeah, everyone knows that,” Taehyung said, which made Yoongi himself blink a few times. No secrets when you’re practically celebrities, he guessed. “But, go on.”
“So, whenever he’d try to interfere, my mom would bring that up, and he’d shut up. My brothers . . .” He trailed off for a moment, him and Taehyung met eyes for a second, but Yoongi looked away, “They were young, so they couldn’t stop my mom when she’d . . .”
Taehyung glanced to Yoongi, then quietly said, “Hit you and whatnot?” To which Yoongi nodded slowly. They both paused for a moment. It had gone surprisingly dark in a matter of seconds, which Yoongi didn’t appreciate. He searched for words upon words until something popped up, and he blurted it out.
“But, I-I bet you would’ve stopped my mom, if y-you’d been my brother,” Yoongi said suddenly; Taehyung blinked, then let out a hearty laugh. He smiled brightly at that, and his grin grew even more when Yoongi continued on and said, “You’re like the older brother I never had, Tae.”
“Well,” Said Taehyung, “Believe it or not, I had a few brothers and sister growing up . . .” He glanced to the sky once more, as though searching for those siblings. “All older than me, so I never got to see what it was like being a guardian-person. Now, I do. Like my older brother did to me, I take care of you, Yoongi, and for that, I’ll say that you’re the little brother I never had.”
They both smiled to each other, soft, full-hearted smiled that made both of their bodies feel warm with fulfillment. Yoongi felt brighter than he’d ever, really. Taehyung, his brother , he grinned from ear to ear at the thought.
“Y’know,” Taehyung began again, though it was soft, as though he were tired and the thoughts were running off the back of his mind, “Jungkook could be your brother too.”
Yoongi shook his head with a quiet laugh, denying it, “He hates me. Besides, he’d never compare to you.”
Taehyung smiles to himself and nods, “Namjoon told me once that love and hate sounded the same to him. Perhaps that’s just how Jungkook shows his love for you?” Yoongi practically choked on the way Taehyung was describing that cretin, but the older boy continued, pushing his ideas, “I mean, Yoongi, c’mon, the boy waits for you around the same damn corner every day just to talk to you.”
“If teasing is talking, then he has a huge mouth.”
“You know what I mean,” Taehyung said with a laugh, and Yoongi, in a way, did. Maybe . . . maybe Jungkook was listening from somewhere, and maybe they could be friends one day. But, he had to remember, even Taehyung said that Jungkook was jealous. That boy was a mess of emotions, even more than Yoongi. “We could be a family, huh? Us three brothers with Namjoon as the dad.”
“Namjoon as the dad?”
“Hah, yeah,” He said quietly, “He’s always been like my older brother, too,” He said more to himself than to Yoongi, “He looks after me, makes sure I’m eating, and never forgets anything. I mean . . . he got me that authentic sushi box, and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” He then paused and let out a sigh, “I just love him . . . like a brother.”
“A big family . . .” Yoongi repeated to himself, bringing his knees close to himself and making sure he was on the pillow rather than the cold pavement. Taehyung noticed a small glint in Yoongi’s eyes, as though the boy was feeling some sort of emotion that the older boy couldn’t place.
“Every Tuesday, Yoongi, help me look after the tent?”
Yoongi snapped out of his daze and that uncertain sparkle flew out of his eyes; they brightened and his smile returned to him.
“Of course, big brother.”
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
The Present Day
Yoongi had indeed sprinted back to the mansion, energy replenished by the anxiety that filled his core. His fear reminded him of gun fights, drive-by shootings and the smell of blood, which ran true along his dry tongue. It wasn’t until he’d vaulted over the outer Park walls, hauled himself into his shack and shuttered all the blinds or closed all the window curtains that he finally felt as though he could breathe.
He doubled over onto his knees, previous meals coming back into his throat as vomit threatened to flow from his mouth. He kept it down, though. He reminded himself that a run was nothing, that he had simply spooked himself. It didn’t change the fact that Jungkook had been watching him.
How many times had the boy seen him through the windows, checking himself out in his fresh, rich clothes? How many times had he been close enough to stab him, then Jimin for harboring him? Yoongi’s thoughts washed over him, drowning his mind and common sense. The bile rose up once more, so he ran to the sink. Despite the water being from the tap and chillingly cold, he gulped it down without a care until his stomach felt like it’s own little aquarium. Then, he leaned against the counter, breathing a bit heavily.
“Having trouble there?” Came a voice from behind him. Yoongi stiffened immediately. Could it be Jungkook now? The boy hadn’t yet matured when he’d last seen him . . . oh no. So Yoongi turned around slowly, wiping his wet mouth as he did so. From the corner of his eye, he spotted a rich shoe, then scoffed. Of course, another guard dog. But--
“None, thank you,” Yoongi said, voice hitching on his hardened breath. He didn’t let the fear show when he realized that another guard dog meant another mouth to keep shut, and Seokjin already wanted his head. This man seemed like he wanted the head and the body, just to marvel at the dead energy coming from it. Dressed in black dress pants and a cotton black shirt (which, frankly, no matter how little Yoongi didn’t care about his appearance, he still knew those did not match at all), sitting before him on a nearby couch was the man who’d glared bullets towards him at their first meeting. “May I know why you’re in my place?”
The man didn’t answer the question, eyebrows furrowing just for a moment to show his distaste. “Who the hell do you think you are and what the hell gives you the right to even think you deserve a spot beside Park Jimin?” The words came out in a flurry and, despite his agitated demeanor, the only thing he was moving in emphasis were his hands. Situated in one of his palms was a walkie-talkie. It occasionally spoke quietly, but didn’t speak much louder than a whisper. Yoongi eyed this device while the man spoke.
“Jimin chose me as a partner, that’s all you need to know,” Yoongi said as he glanced around disinterestedly. This small action paired with his words evidently made the man angry, as his free hand balled into a fist then relaxed itself a second later. “A partner for the Legend’s Duet. ”
“Your name, then?” The man asked.
“Full name, prick.”
“ Real name, prick.”
Yoongi froze, glaring at the man before him. The man grinned; Yoongi’s eyes flickered with a bit of agitation.
“That is my real name,” Yoongi said lowly.
“Not according to Seokjin, it isn’t,” The man said. So he’d told others? “Isn’t it something like . . . Min Yoongi, part of the Min violinist line?” He drew his fingers to his chin in obvious thought as he said, “Or maybe Min Yoongi, the boy who left his family for a gang? And not just any gang, but the gang of--”
Yoongi spun around, his eyes narrowing as he took a step towards the man, who flinched but held his seat. Yoongi took another step, standing with both feet strong now. “What’s your point?”
“Jimin must know is my point, Min Yoongi,” The man growled the words out, “As his piano teacher--”
“So you’re Jung Hoseok?” Yoongi drawled, “A little underwhelming.”
“U-underwhelming?” Hoseok stuttered in his minor rage as he grit his teeth a bit. “I’ll have you know that one word into this walkie-talkie will have you gone and in prison for your crimes. Is that clear, Min Yoongi? ” A shiver went down his spine, but he didn’t let it show. Yoongi’s eyes simply glinted a bit in anger as he began fingering the buttons of his shirt, a nervous tick if anyone knew to look for them. Jung Hoseok eyed Yoongi's hands, looking at the buttons as though he were preparing to catch them would the boy want to throw them.
When Yoongi didn’t respond, Hoseok rose from his seat, jaw set. He was just a bit taller, but all he had to him were piano-hands and a lean body. It was something compared to Yoongi's weakened body. They locked eyes before the man said, “Or maybe I’ll notify your parents?”
“I thought you’d be smart enough to know that my parents want me dead,” Yoongi said simply.
Hoseok shook his head, “Of course someone as simple minded as you would think that. Even with all the money in Kim Namjoon’s gang, he couldn’t at least let you watch the news?”
Yoongi glared and grit his teeth; so many people getting on his nerves these days. “Fuck off,” He said, and Hoseok shrugged.
“That only further proves my point,” He said, and opened the door to the outside. Before he left, he paused, then glanced back to say, “You’re on thin ice, prick. The only thing between you and bars is no longer Kim Namjoon, isn’t it, now? Now all you have is Jimin, my Jimin. I swear if you--”
“Save it, Jung, I’ve already heard it once before, I don’t need your lips flapping everywhere too,” Yoongi said in a harsh voice as Hoseok glared, set his jaw in slight anger, and slammed the door.
Then, and only then, could Yoongi finally look at Taehyung’s bottle with a savage hunger. It was practically three in the morning now, and he didn’t feel like sleeping. Not anymore, not with dogs pounding on tail every single second.
A cat is what he seemed to be to these animals, always slipping out of their giant dog paws and getting away. Yoongi scowled as he popped the bottle open with a quick twist and smelt the fumes from the liquor.
Rich and delightful, it smelt so nice . He let out a shuddering breath as he took the bitter liquid to his lips and chugged it. It stung and burned as it slid down his throat, leaving marks as it traveled. He supposed with a drink like this, he’d be gone soon. At the thought, he smiled against the bottle cap and drank more.
By the time he’d finished chugging, he had only hit half the bottle. He slammed it upon the counter, almost cracking the sturdy stone while he breathed heavily, regaining his breath from the lack of it. What had been intense sadness for Taehyung and irritation for Jung Hoseok was now being replaced with an aloof drunkenness. It washed over him, creating a melancholy feeling, one that usually took six or seven normal drinks to achieve. He hiccuped for the first time in a while, then held his breath to get rid of the childish noise.
He grabbed the bottle, pressing it close to him as he lumbered his way upstairs to his bed. Practically collapsing on the bed, he continued to drink the bottle. It wasn’t until the whole bottle was finished while he thanked Taehyung that he finally managed to fall asleep.
Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
Hunting, once more, like predators in the wild, they walked. This city, this grand, grand city, was their playground to run and catch prey in. Currently, they were stalking their next meal. To a lion, said meal would look like a plump zebra, to Namjoon and Jungkook, it looked like a former member with a fat stack of cash.
Yeong Ji, a tall, lean man with a knack for business and a big brain was their new target. The ex-member had run away in fear after accidentally shooting a friend in the face during a gunfight, and had been hiding away in a mostly forgotten part of the city slums. Intelligent as always, his smarts had whisked him away from Namjoon’s clutches for about a month, but as everyone knew, nothing got away from the King.
“It’s a shame that we have to dispose of Yeong Ji, Kook,” Namjoon said as they walked nonchalantly on a busy street towards their destination. Tonight, Namjoon was wearing a long black overcoat that buttoned at the front, concealing most of his body. On his face he wore a mask to cover the lower half of his face; though nobody knew what the infamous Crime Lord looked like (thanks to Namjoon’s influence on the city and therefore media), one could never be too safe. “I quite liked him.”
“You might have to dispose of someone else you quite like, Namjoon,” Jungkook said as a particularly loud car whizzed by, concealing his words to everyone but his leader. A glint passed through Namjoon’s eyes as his pupils lazily moved over to look at Jungkook. He did not stop walking as he spoke.
“Care to tell me who that might be, Jungkook?” He asked. Jungkook felt himself go rather tense under the gaze of Kim Namjoon. Though, the man must have realized this as he laid an arm over the shoulders of Jungkook and pulled him in close. His lips came close to the boy’s ear as he said, “I’m waiting.”
“Taehyung,” Jungkook managed to get out. Who knew how many knives Namjoon had on him at this time, whether the wrong word would get him stabbed right here. Accusing his second-in-command. Jungkook tensed more strongly as he continued, “I saw him with Min Yoongi,” Namjoon’s hand clutched Kook’s shoulder for just a moment before it relaxed, the Crime Lord’s face showing none of the anger that had fabricated within the man’s palm. “Warning him, telling him to go away. He isn’t loyal to you. He’s never been--”
Namjoon cut him off by raising a hand and nodding. He closed his eyes for a brief moment and whence they opened again, they were no more the clear brown that they had once been, but instead had turned into a murky mud that felt contaminated with emotion . It became clear after a moment that the clouding was hurt and agony, not confusion.
“There is a way to play this right,” said the Crime Lord after a moment of staring ahead without word, “There is a way to get everything back that is rightfully ours.”
“No, Kook,” Namjoon said with a quietly but forcefully. Now, they had gotten off of the busy street and turned into a dark alleyway with no illumination save for the moonlight above. Even with the milky light, Jungkook couldn’t help but kick a few stray beer bottles on accident as he followed Namjoon, his quiet feet technique required too much of his concentration to be used at the moment. The leader made no move to chastise him as he continued soundlessly through the path. “We keep him alive for now.”
“But why ?” Jungkook asked. “You want your things, so why--”
“Questioning me?” Namjoon asked sharply as he reached a door and cocked his gun.
“No, Namjoon,” Said Jungkook with a slight pout.
“Good,” Said the man simply as he patted Jungkook’s and gave him a venomous smile.
They had finally reached their destination. The numbers seven and three were painted onto a door, cracked and peeling. It looked almost as run down as the rest of the slum, save for the extra and distinctly new locks placed on the sides of the door. This new improvement made for a wonderful beacon as Namjoon inspected them and gave a soundless laugh. With a swift kick, Namjoon had the door open and a screaming began. There, in the middle of the room with a gun in his hand, was Yeong Ji.
“Put it down!” Yeong Ji screamed as Namjoon pointed his previously cocked gun to his target’s head. His brown hair was everywhere and his eyes were crazed as a cocking sound came from the gun of Yeong Ji. The man grit his teeth and yelled again, “Put it DOWN!”
“Listen to me. Lower your gun and listen,” Namjoon said quietly, soothingly, but as Yeong Ji refused to lower his own gun, Jungkook saw it fit to attack for himself. He glanced to his leader before snatching a knife from his own belt and throwing it as Yeong Ji’s hand.
The man screamed, but Jungkook had only gotten one of his arms. A gunshot rang out in the room, a bullet running towards Namjoon’s head. The man dived down swiftly and rolled into a sad excuse for a kitchen. There, he was behind cover.
Yeong Ji began shooting everywhere, and before long, Jungkook had a graze on his palm. He hissed, and glared at the man, who was simply becoming trigger-happy. Namjoon could not be seen by Jungkook, but as a final, more distinct gunshot rang out through the room, the boy knew it was over.
The crazed gunfire stopped, and Yeong Ji’s body slumped to the ground as it became heavy with death. A shot straight through the man’s temple was now oozing with blood. Namjoon calmly strode over to the body, reared his leg back, and kicked it hard in the face. From the force, it slumped over onto its back, nose now oozing with blood from the blow. Then, Namjoon took his gun and shot Yeong Ji three more times in the face.
Jungkook stared at the mutilated body, the face almost unrecognizable, then to Namjoon. Namjoon only shrugged, put his gun away, cracked his neck in new relaxation, and glanced over to Jungkook.
"Did he get you?" Jungkook asked softly, looking his leader over. Namjoon shrugged that off as well, only cracking his fingers in response.
“And the wine, Kook. Did you forget about the wine?” Namjoon asked, ignoring Jungkook's question as he rubbed his back and neck with his hands.
“Sorry,” Said Jungkook quickly as he rushed over to the kitchen. Quickly as he could, he searched the cupboards for wine until he found something formidable to or similar to the substance. In dirty glasses, he poured the rich liquid and passed it to Namjoon. Namjoon didn’t thank him for it as he took it and raised it to the air.
“The end to a new beginning, Jungkook,” Said Namjoon.
“The end to a new beginning,” Repeated Jungkook as they clinked glasses and sipped.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
Jeon Jungkook had always been alone, even truly from birth. He’d entered the cold world practically solitary, with no parental figures to protect him, nor to hold him tight and tell him that they would take care of him for the rest of their times together. No, he hadn’t gotten a single drop of the affection which other children had in abundance; instead, the shadows had been the ones to show him love and kindness.
When he’d been born in the small, low-budget hospital where his money-less mother had rushed to alone, nobody else had been there to ogle at the newborn baby as movies and television shows so graciously liked to display for the masses. His mother had been abandoned by her family, deeming her cursed and tainted, then throwing her away to the streets as though she were nothing but a rotten apple. She’d had conceived a child with a criminal, knowingly and willingly, and her family had despised her for it.
His mother had died in that same hospital during his birth, her increased levels of stress and depression and pain breaking down her nerves to the point that her baby, one that had been born small and underweight, much like the state of it's bearer, had been her end. Nobody had heard her last words, or at least, no one that could have told Jungkook what they had been, or if she’d actually wanted to have him.
As if laid in stone, his beginning had determined his childhood. His loneliness in the parental department had strengthened him, but not enough to survive the trials of the foster care system. He’d cried for nights on end about it, in multiple different beds, since he was never allowed to stay in one bed for more than a week.
Nobody ever adopted him, not even the couples that looked as though their hearts had been crafted from the finest of silks. Nobody ever looked at his name for more than a second before immediately cringing and putting it back into a recruiter’s hands, sometimes they’d even do it right in front of him, not caring that he’d end up sobbing into someone’s sheets about it that same night. Why did nobody ever want him? Was it his looks, for he knew he sometimes looked a little cold. Could it be the way he spoke? Well, he rarely did so either.
Then later, Jungkook found out it was due to his records. His birth records and the names above his gave him away so quickly that couples didn’t even want to take a chance with him. His past, which he had not chosen, defined him starkly. His father, a serial killer, in jail for the rest of his life, had cursed him. Nobody, and he knew for this for sure, wanted to house someone who had the possibility of being a sociopath, and so nobody took the chance.
In the times in between selections, he’d often sit in corners filled with shadows. The shadows, which spoke to him and called his name; they told him that in the darkness, everyone was the same, and he truly believed that and tried his best to become one with the thing he could never be.
He would sneak around the houses he’d visit, crawling through the vents or walls whenever he could access them, listening to conversations or stealing whatever he thought caught his eyes, then come back to the person who’d driven him to another house covered in dust or other miscellaneous substances. His caretaker of the time would slightly dust his shirt or pants, then laugh it off as though he’d been playing inside of a field of dandelions instead of the homeowners jewelry boxes. Nobody ever heard him during these times, either, but each time he’d think someone would adopt him, they would decline and complain of how he would often disappear, and send him back.
Despite this, he continued. He knew it was pointless, as everyone would just look at his records and put him back where they found him. He’d have trouble sleeping some nights, when wondering if he should stop, but then the thought that nobody could ever love him bit him in the back of his neck and he continued. Besides, if he were to eat multiple dinners each night with different couples who seemed so perfect, he might as well get something for his mom.
He knew she was dead, and had found that out at seven when he’d kept seeing different women who all claimed that he should call them ‘mom’, ‘mother’ or variations of that. He’d realized something was wrong, and had decided to seek further truths. Then he’d found out about her death, and felt numb for a few days.
His mother was someone he’d never meet, while his father was someone he could meet, but that everyone told him was a bad idea to. None of his family reached out, not even when the system had tried to get one of them to take care of him. They’d all declined and sent messages which his caretakers had not wanted to disclose, so he’d been left to make what he could of his lost family roots.
Every time he could, he’d make an effort to steal rings just to put it into a box for his mother’s grave. He’d prepare it with nice flowers and everything just so that he could place it before the tombstone and hope nobody would take it. He’d sit down before placing the box each time, and sit for half an hour, detailing what had happened in the time between visits, and all that he’d done for her. The two things he spoke to the most were her, who never responded (though he liked to think she responded in gusts of wind and leaves), and the shadows, who never spoke back either.
Well, nobody ever truly wanted to take an interest in him really.
No, not until Kim Namjoon set his sights on him.
He’d been at someone’s random house when his caretaker had called him over, telling him that someone was here to see him. Jungkook had walked over slowly, hiding the golden rings he’d been playing with and shoving them into one of his pant pockets. He’d hidden behind the wall of a corner and peeked around before seeing who it was.
Behind the wall had been a tall man, dressed in a long black overcoat and turtleneck, a golden stopwatch hanging around his neck, landing on his chest, and dark blue jean pants, which happened to be the only colourful thing on him. He wore stylish boots, and had glasses on, looking to be quite the rich man. Though, at the time, Namjoon was only fifteen, the boots adding to his already tall height, and his jacket covering up much of the muscle that was missing and needed to be concealed. Jungkook, eleven at the time, thought he would be much over twenty, but the boy wasn’t. He was just as much of a kid as the one he was about to see, though his fake identification card and driver's license fooled everyone, and left no questions to be asked.
“Ah! There he is, our little outcast,” Exclaimed his caretaker of the time, walking over to the wall and pushing Jungkook before it, presenting him to the teenage Kim Namjoon. “This is Jeon Jungkook, he’s a bit quiet but I’m sure you’ll warm up to him in an instant.”
Jungkook glanced up at Namjoon, the height difference major between them at the time. The boy smiled, sticking out a gloved hand in order to shake the little boy’s, who weakly put his own up, gently shaking the other’s. Nobody had truly interacted with him like this before. Everything was done through the caretaker, and if it wasn’t, then it was by accident.
“You’re really Jungkook, then?” Namjoon asked softly, and when Jungkook nodded, his eyes grew with interest, “Then my name is Yeon Sangeun.”
“Yeon Sangeun?” Jungkook repeated, and to his caretaker’s surprise, he had actually spoken. The little boy’s innocent tone went bitter quickly as he glared and said, “Are you going to leave me, just like the rest of them?”
His caretaker shook him, scolding him lightly, “Jungkook! We don’t say that to guests.”
“He’s leaving soon anyways, I just know it . . .” Jungkook said with a huff. “You’re going to look at my records, get scared, and leave . . .”
“What records?” Namjoon asked, then turned to the caretaker, who went stiff and apologized quickly, walking over to a stack of papers and handing one of the many pieces over to Namjoon, who looked them over. He then smiled, gave them back, and then said, “I’m sorry, Jungkook, but was there something special about your papers? I couldn’t see anything wrong with them . . .”
Jungkook’s eyebrows raised in surprise, but then he lowered them, “My father,” He said quietly, “You saw the name of my father. You’re bluffing.”
“I saw it,” He said, “And it’s just another name.”
In reality, Namjoon had actually sent a fake couple to the agency in order to inspect the papers, to see if Jeon Jungkook really was the son of a serial killer. They’d came back to him with photos of the papers, descriptions of Jungkook, what he’d do while they were there, and how he’d act. This wasn’t fate, as Jungkook believed it so hard to be, but smart planning that Namjoon had started one year ago in order to recruit a gifted spy. His gang was growing, and the more that came, the loyaler they would be; the son of a murderer who’d never tasted love before would latch onto him like nothing else mattered, which is what he planned to do.
He planned to do it, not only for the gifts that Jungkook possessed, but also to give a helpless child, the same age as he, a better life. One with a big family and friends and people he could enjoy being around. Years in foster care? Years where he’d been rejected and thrown to the side and neglected and whatever else he’d endured?
Namjoon didn’t mind that.
Namjoon thought he was perfect as he was.
They continued as such, Namjoon coming day after day under his fake name simply to bond with Jungkook. He’d talk with him, give him sweets and tell him of stories that Jungkook had never heard, as he’d never had a father to tell him of them. Namjoon played ball with him, showed him how to throw one steadily, and even taught him the art of card games when they weren’t having fun outside.
He’d laughed. He’d laughed more than any time before, to the point that some days his cheeks hurt from smiling and heart hurt from loving. The walls he’d set up in order to keep everything and everyone out cracked right down the center and made room for who he thought was just a generous man, not a cunning teenage boy with a growing street gang behind him.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the shadows swarming the little boy’s heart lessened, and he became more open to everything. Though he didn’t get out of corners when Namjoon wasn’t around, nor sneaking behind walls or in vents, he tried new foods and rode a bicycle for the first time-- he even burst out of his shell enough to go to a park and try the swings while Namjoon watched from afar, cheering him on like a father would have.
So when Namjoon had asked him if he wanted to leave with him to join his gang, in the slums of the city which he’d been informed were the worst of the worse, he knew he had no choice but to follow him.
It had been the evening of a sunny day, a year after they’d first met, when Namjoon had been walking a young twelve-year-old Jungkook back to his car, a sleek black thing, and had asked him a question. Jungkook had looked up, a bit confusedly, and demanded to know what he meant by ‘join my gang’. That was when the man he’d known as Yeon Sangeun revealed himself to be Kim Namjoon, the leader of the most prominent rising gang (the name undetermined, though the media had labeled them as the most troublesome group of people they’d every encountered) in the city.
Jungkook had blinked, and then taken a step away, then . . . taken a step closer.
“I know . . . it’s much to process, and something that you may not believe, but it . . . it is the truth,” Namjoon had said through a hesitant voice, as though a cold killer could have emotion. He was sixteen now, yet nobody knew that. Everyone thought of him as a twenty-year old, thirty or something much more suitable for his position. “I took the name Yeon Sangeun, because if I’d come with my real name, they’d have arrested me. Does that . . . make sense?”
Jungkook had nodded slightly, then said, “But why choose me?”
“Well-” Namjoon blinked, “Sorry?”
“Why did you choose me for the gang instead of another kid? Why did you come to me as Yeon Sangeun instead of another child? Why, out of so many other talented children, who were so much more-- better than me, did you choose me?”
“You were just like me. You had nobody, and I wanted to give you somebody.”
Jungkook gulped, then had balled his hands into little fists. He felt his nose beginning to itch with the same type of emotion he’d feel when lying in bed while crying.
“You knew about my p-past, didn’t you. You knew all along.”
Everyone knew of his past. Who he’d been. It was why nobody wanted to spend more than second in his presence, and why everyone had thrown him to the side and taken others. It was why he had been alone for ten years, and why nobody but the person obligated to take care of him had even attempted getting his friendship.
But now, staring at a man who he’d heard called the most heartless man in the country, take the weakest lamb, and bring him into the warmest of lights made Jungkook’s heart twist inside of himself.
“And I could care less.”
“And you could care less . . .” Jungkook repeated, eyes beginning to well up with a familiar liquid.
Then Namjoon opened his arms, wide with his warm overcoat still on his arms, inviting the crying boy for an embrace.
“Come here, Jungkook,” He said softly, looking at him with eyes he’d dreamed so many times of his dead mother gazing upon him with, “You won’t be pushed away anymore . . .”
Jungkook ran into those arms, wrapping his own around Namjoon’s tall waist, crying into his chest and saying nothing as those comforting fatherly arms secured him into a hug he’d never had before. He was destined to be the son of someone who’d committed crimes, though he’d never know that the coldest heart would have the warmest smile.
“It’s alright, Kook,” Namjoon had said, calling him by his forever nickname for the first time, patting him on his back and then lightly and comfortingly stroking his hair so that he could cry even more, the quiet crying in his room stopping him from letting out the wails he should have been able to make. “Shh, c’mon, it’s alright now. You’re with me, and soon you’ll have the gang.”
“A-and I won’t b-be alone anymore?” Jungkook had said, shoving his face into the nicely smelling fabric of Namjoon’s shirt.
My first friend , Jungkook thought, the tears rushing into his cheeks, my very first friend.
“Never, Jungkook, I’ll make sure of it for the rest of our days that you’ll never walk alone.”
The inside of Namjoon’s sleek black car was new now; different from how Jungkook had seen it before. Before, it had been just like any other automobile: used, normal, unattractive, but now it had a different smell to it, a different touch, a different aura . Before, it had been the car of Yeon Sangeun, and now, it was the car of Kim Namjoon.
Yeon Sangeun, the honesty business man, versus Kim Namjoon, the man who paid in blood money. The two had seemed so starkly different before to Jungkook, but now that he compared them, he wondered if they were all that different.
The man, or-- boy , as he should consider calling him, since he was only sixteen, had acted like the father he’d never had. Had embraced him, as someone who’d stabbed another could never be able to do. Embraced him as though he knew what Jungkook had gone through, with his loneliness and never ending sorrow. As though he’d been a child with the same plights as he.
Jungkook now sat not in the back seat of Namjoon’s car, but in the passenger’s seat, right beside his now caretaker. Right. That’s right. Namjoon was his new caretaker. The new pseudo-adult who would take care of him like a real parent, instead of those “heartless idiots” at the center, or so he had put it. -
The car, an automatic, left Namjoon’s hands free, and with one hand, he pulled out a juice box from under his feet, handing it to Jungkook. The boy took it with a hand, taking the straw out of the plastic and then plucking it into the box, sucking lightly to get the sweet liquid into his mouth. The taste was of apple juice, the most common of them all.
“Sorry,” Said Namjoon as he put his attention back onto the road. “They were all out of fruit punch.”
“It’s alright, Namjoon,” Jungkook said as he took a gulp and smiled at the container of juice, “This is the best apple juice I’ve ever had.”
“Hah, I hope so. I never got juice boxes as a kid, so I didn’t really know what to get . . .” At that, Jungkook furrowed his brows. Never? He’d always had them complimentary with his meals or sometimes, he’d even pass the street and buy some out of a vending machine. To never have one must have meant he’d never gone outside, or something like that, Jungkook couldn’t really piece it together. “Anyways, we’ll be there soon.”
If Namjoon thought that forty minutes was soon, then he must be used to waiting long times.
Jungkook knew where the slums were from the city where he’d grown up. It took about twenty minutes by car on average, but traffic at this time, seven o’clock in the evening, made it hard to get anywhere fast. The sun, which had been going down when they’d left, leaving a golden sheen on everything, was now setting into a purple end, which soon would become black by the time they made it to his supposed hideout.
The boy had asked about his caretaker, and how she, even though she cared no more about him than a pin on the ground, would find out. Namjoon had simply said that Taehyung, a boy he’d meet soon, would take care of it.
“What’s Taehyung like?” Jungkook asked out of blue as Namjoon drove past a green light, slowly turning yellow.
“He’s got brown hair, has a big appetite and a warm heart . . . he’s also fourteen, so closer to your age.”
“ . . . Was he supposed to be older . . . ?”
“No, just . . .” Jungkook hesitated. Namjoon’s gang had been elusive, too elusive for the media to ever get anything right, apparently. Of course the media knew of Namjoon, that he was the one running all the operations and executing all of the demands for the gang, but they had thought he had had to be at least thirty, and Jungkook had thought that as well. When Taehyung had surfaced under the alias of ‘V’, they had thought him to be at least twenty eight, since his dealings were in that of drugs. Though, the news stations never covered him as much as they did the leader. “Everyone says he’s gotta be at least twenty-eight . . . I didn’t think . . .”
“Oh, well,” Namjoon shrugged, “Stuff happens sometimes, Kook. But, all you gotta know is he’s a nice person.”
“You know how everyone thinks I’ve killed too many people?”
“He hasn’t laid a single finger on anybody.”
“Really . . . ?”
“Really, Kook. I think you’ll like him.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then I think he’ll make you like him.”
Jungkook laughed at that and nodded. “Wow . . . How . . . how long have you known him for?”
“Four years, about.”
“That’s a really long time, Namjoon.”
“Not if you know they’re a keeper, Kook.”
“How do you know if someone’s a keeper?”
“It’s just something you know.”
Jungkook sipped the last of his juice box, and Namjoon gave him a look that asked if he wanted more, and Jungkook nodded. He did the same as he had with the last one, and continued drinking.
The streetlights had turned off now, and the daylight completely vanished. Now all that left was the darkness before them and the occasional luminosity that would spill into their car, yellow and soothing, like the light of a candle. Every few moments they would stop, the traffic unrelenting.
“Is it true about Min Yoongi?”
“Min Yoongi? What about him?”
“Is it true he’s gonna join the gang too?”
Namjoon shrugged, “I . . . want to help him get out of his situation, but it’s up to him if he wants to come. Just like you had a choice. I won't force anyone to join, even if it is the better choice for them.”
“How can it be the better choice?”
“He has money, parents, brothers, a big place . . . he probably has everything he wants there, right? Plus a legacy and all this cool stuff he has to take care of. Why would he want to leave it for a street gang in the slums?”
“Sometimes all of that stuff can be toxic.”
“Money . . . ? Toxic . . . ? But the news makes them seem so-”
“Don’t believe the news so much, alright?”
“Yeah, okay, sure,” Everything from the news had been wrong so far, he supposed, he might as well listen to Namjoon. “But how?”
“He’s just . . . not as happy as he could be where he is, does that make sense?”
“I . . . I guess, but how?”
“Maybe you can ask him if he decides to come.”
“. . . Okay,” Jungkook said, though his nerves tingled. A new boy? His age? Especially from his background . . . he’d probably be all posh and cool and stuff. All he knew was that he was supposed to play the violin all day . . . maybe that was bad but . . . not as bad as not having anyone to talk to, like him, he was sure of it.
The car took a left turn into a dark street that continued on for some time until it hit a parking lot filled with cars. Namjoon drove in and searched for an open parking spot, when he had found one, he slowly curved in and halted his car, parking it there.
“Please don’t tell me your whole gang works at a grocery store.”
Namjoon laughed, staring at the store and shaking his head, a smile still upon his lips. “Good cover, but no. We’re farther away, I just can’t drive there or else my car will end up looking like a garbage can tomorrow morning.”
“Nice car, not so nice people. No balance.”
“Oh, okay . . . how long of a walk, then?”
“Fifteen minutes, I guess. I never counted.”
Jungkook nodded, and as the beep of a car key signaled that the car was now locked, the two set off for the dark road once more, following the sidewalk instead of crossing. The street had no lights, as the city ones had had in abundance, but instead it was covered in blackness and fog, as though perfect for the slums.
Occasional sounds rustled in the nearby bushes around them, so Jungkook stayed particularly close to Namjoon. At one point, there was a scream of agony and two gunshots, which forced the man to push the boy before him, one hand on his shoulder in order to keep him safe.
“I didn’t know it was this dangerous here,” Jungkook whispered to Namjoon, who strained to hear his words.
“Murders get covered up. Sometimes you don’t know when someone’s dead until a bloody letter with a finger comes up in the mail with your name on it.”
“Eugh, that’s happened before . . . ?”
“How does the news never know?”
“Nobody cares about who dies in the slums,” He said with a small sigh, “Since everyone's probably a criminal anyways, they just don’t think it’s worth investigating.”
“Doesn’t that make sense, then? That everyone’s a criminal?”
“But he sells drugs.”
“That’s only because it’s his job. Doesn’t mean he likes it.”
“Like a banker?”
“Yeah, you could say he’s like a banker if you think about it.”
Jungkook snickered then. Of course he wasn’t a banker, but thinking about this fourteen-year-old as one made him laugh.
Then Namjoon pulled on his shoulder and took him down between two buildings through a narrow passage. Bottles and syringes littered the ground, but Namjoon told him not to look, so he didn’t. Instead, he gazed upon the stars through the tiny crack that allowed him to look at the sky. Tiny flickering lights, so many and so bright, so captivating that he almost forgot to move until Namjoon whispered his name and he snapped back into reality, shimmying his way over.
“Just a few more minutes, and we’ll be there,” Namjoon said in a whisper, the alleyway so quiet that Jungkook could only hear his surprisingly hard footsteps, those of Namjoon’s as quiet as feathers.
“How do you do that . . . ?” Jungkook asked.
“Walk so quietly.”
“ . . . I’ll teach you sometime, alright?”
They went quietly then, Namjoon telling him to be quiet as children weren’t taken nicely in the areas around the lair. They barged into an alleyway then went left, right, left, right, left and so many rights and lefts more until they landed before a door, surprisingly well-kept compared to everything else he’d seen so far. Namjoon paused before the door, knocking a code that Jungkook would soon learn by heart to get into the lair, and then the door opened, revealing a common room filled with modern seating that he’d never thing someone such as Kim Namjoon could ever have taste for.
“This is it, Kook,” Namjoon said as he walked in, motioning for Jungkook to do the same. He heard a gasp come from inside as someone got up from some chair and whispered ‘ that’s the one I scouted for!’ . “Meet your new family.”
Taehyung had been the first one to embrace him, pulling him into a hug and looking at him with such awe that he’d never thought he’d live to see anyone look at him like that . Admiration and gratefulness mixed with a deep appreciation for something other than Jungkook. His hug, back to that, had been warm and had felt like a mother’s instead of the fatherly hug that Namjoon had given him. Everyone else shook his hand or patted his back, nothing matching the extravagance of Taehyung.
He’d spent that night with the members of the gang, some eight were present, all skilled in what they did, while the rest of the gang went back to their respective living abodes. They’d all shared a dinner cooked by one of the members who took an interest in cooking. Seasoned chicken with soup had been the menu, and when it’d been served, Jungkook had shoved it down his throat as though he’d never eaten anything every before.
They’d all laughed at the table while they’d taken their time, so different to Jungkook. More than one juice box had been presented to him and he’d made sure, out of respect, to drink them all. Sweet juice after sweet syrup had gone down his throat and into his stomach, piling up until he felt like he’d vomit from how much he’d eaten.
Then, after their first dinner, they’d all played cards. No go fish, but poker. Jungkook had lost so hard that everyone had insisted Namjoon help him, but the boy had shaken his head, smiling. The leader always won, no matter the circumstances.
“No free wins in this place,” He’d said with a smile as he’d placed down his hand and won once more, everyone’s chips piling over to his side, where he’d laughed like Jungkook had never heard before. Then he’d gotten up and told everyone that it was time to go to bed.
Like kids, they’d all groaned, but nodded and shaken Namjoon’s hand.
“Good win,” The member who’d cooked their meal had said, “But no more dinner for you, Joon,” which had made Namjoon snort and shake his head.
“Zero respect,” He’d mumbled which had made the member, a girl, laugh and smile. They’d shared a moment, but one that did not last long as Namjoon soon looked away, then at Jungkook.
“I’ll show you your room,” He’d said and pushed him out of the dining room, going towards the halls and then towards the sleeping area.
Nobody truly slept at the lair yet except for Namjoon, Taehyung, and the other six who the leader and second-in-command deemed valuable.
One of their names had been Kim Minhyu, a boy who had been especially good at picking locks and getting into hard-to-get places. He always wore black latex gloves and had a black face mask over his mouth, which muffled his words. His hair was black, and he had bangs in the front, and Jungkook supposed he might have been quite handsome if he didn’t cover his features so much. Not to mention that almost all of his body was covered by a large black jacket that went down to his knees that he rarely ever took off. He never spoke unless it was to Namjoon or Taehyung, who close to never spoke to him either.
He had been known to lurk in the shadows, so when Jungkook had come, he’d immediately taken an interest to him, and even under instructions of Namjoon, had attempted to teach him some of his tricks.
Until he’d been killed in a gang fight.
Not even a week after Jungkook had come and started eating meals, laughing with everyone who took part in this fiasco, had his first maybe-friend been shot in the lung while out doing an information-run. Scouting the other gang territories, he’d been too far gone and had been caught. He’d been burned, lithe body cut and punctured in so many placed that Jungkook had cried so hard after seeing what had been done to Minhyu that he’d vomited.
Namjoon had found him in his room, the one he’d used to have shared with that same boy, and cradled him in his arms. Jungkook had cried for the second time into that sixteen-year-old boy’s shirt, dampening it once more with his sorrows.
“What’s gonna happen n-now?” Jungkook had asked through his sobs, remembering their frank meetings and words where Minhyu had told him that he’d be sure to teach him everything the boy knew.
Then proceeded to be murdered.
“What do you mean, Kook?” Namjoon had responded softly. The door had opened then, a white-faced Taehyung lumbering in and sitting upon the bed of Minhyu, rubbing his neck in a nervous and anxious manner that did nothing to fit his calm and warm atmosphere.
“To Minhyu . . . to everyone. What happens . . . ?”
“You’re gonna hate me, Kook, but we just move on.”
Jungkook’s heart had dropped, and he’d choked on a cry, snot-ing all over the shirt of Namjoon, who’d just come back from burying Minhyu. Where, Jungkook did not know, and he supposed he’d never know, since Namjoon kept so many secrets from him for his own safety. “Move on?” He whimpered, glancing up from the fabric to gaze upon Namjoon.
“It . . . it happens, Kook. In gangs, stuff like this happens.”
“It just happens?” Jungkook whispered, voice breaking.
Namjoon had nodded. “Minhyu loved what he did, Kook, and he loved the gang too. He would’ve . . . he would’ve been happy to know that you cared so much, Kook.”
“Does nobody else?”
“Everyone else has had too many Minhyu’s come into their life and go, Kook, so some of them just don’t want to hurt anymore.”
“Are a lot of people gonna come and go?”
Namjoon had kept silent, but nodded. He’d clutched Jungkook, wrapping his arms around the boy and saying softly into his hair, “I know, Kook, I know.” The boy’s warmth swept over Jungkook, and the exhaustion from his tears had clutched him, grabbing his eyes and making them heavier and heavier until he’d fallen almost-asleep in the arms of Namjoon.
He’d smiled, laying the boy onto his bed, and tucking him in, rubbing and fixing his hair until he glanced at Taehyung, who was still glancing between Namjoon and the boy, squinting. Something was bothering him, Namjoon concluded, as Taehyung never seemed this nervous around Jungkook.
“Something happened, Namjoon,” Taehyung said in a whisper.
“Then tell me outside of the room.”
Taehyung had nodded, collecting himself and going into the hallway, closing Jungkook’s door on the way out, but leaving it open a crack. Jungkook was not asleep, but tired, and the open door allowed him to hear everything that happened next.
“It’s the Min boy,” Taehyung had whispered to Namjoon.
“The Min boy . . . ?” Namjoon had said, voice strained, “What about him?”
Taehyung hadn’t been kidding, for the next morning, when Jungkook rose to expect that the older boy had been lying, had he found a new visitor sitting in the common room. The Min boy had been accompanied by Taehyung, who was sitting before him asking him questions, to which from a quick analysis from behind a wall, Yoongi was only answering with one-word replies.
The boy was skinny, unnaturally so, with long fingers that looked very much callused. His black hair was draped over his face, covering his eyes, though he could not hide the tears that fell from his face, and the downward curve of his mouth that opened in a hiccup every once in a while. He looked utterly miserable, and he was clutching a piece of wood that looked very much polished and broken at the same time.
A shadow passed behind Jungkook, and the boy moved from where he was spying in order to allow Namjoon to pass. The man took two steps before Jungkook has rushed out and grabbed his hand. Namjoon turned around, eyes a bit too-closed for him to be fully awake, and glanced at the boy.
“Who is he? Why is he here?” Jungkook asked in a whisper as Taehyung continued to keep Yoongi distracted.
“The Min boy,” Namjoon said with exhaustion lacing his voice, his movements and reactions seeming to be slower than usual. “He had nowhere else to go.”
“Is he staying?”
“We’ll see,” Namjoon had said and then let go of Jungkook’s grip, walking over to Yoongi and getting down on one knee before him, beginning to console him and ask him questions. The dialogue was around the lines of simple comfort, but Jungkook knew Namjoon was getting more information that Yoongi knew he could get out of a question like ‘when did you leave?’.
Then the three spoke together. They spoke and spoke and spoke, working on opening the boy up so much that he began speaking in full sentences rather than short-word answers. They did not stop making him feel at home, and as the days passed, no one glanced to wonder if Jungkook was okay, but instead if Yoongi was feeling relaxed. Soon, Jungkook was not the newbie, but instead Yoongi was.
Taehyung stopped visiting Jungkook during the night, settling for Yoongi instead, and Namjoon somehow became busier than before, having less and less time for his ‘Kook’. Soon, no member looked to him when something traumatic happened, but instead to Yoongi, who always seemed to be the centre of attention.
Everything he’d gotten that hadn’t been his had been ripped from his soul once more.
The attention, the friendship, the family he’d gained was now someone else’s, and as though someone had known this would happen, he got no comfort. He spoke to Namjoon when he was called for training, jobs, and whenever he had a chance, but apart from that, he was left in singular once more. He was no longer obligated to go to the dinners cooked by the members, and for that, he skipped meals, sorrow filling his stomach more than that of the laughs he could hear in the other rooms.
That sudden euphoria, the drug of love, which had affected him so greatly, was draining. Out through an open wound, the rainbow liquid seeped out and into the shadows, where his old friends gobbled the syrup up, begging for more whenever he would try and cling onto the warmth of the past. What had made him more jolly was now making him sour.
Everyone was a criminal here in some way, except Yoongi, which made him infinitely more interesting to the members. With his violin bought for him by Namjoon, and his always-nice shirts, he radiated an innocence nobody else had. Jungkook had tried to speak to him, but nothing had ever flourished out of their dry bud.
One time, Jungkook had tried to approach the boy with sadness, and attempt to bond over such sentiments. To say the least, it had gone horribly.
It had been in the halls, when Yoongi had been off to his bedroom. He’d been carrying his violin, still brand new from a few weeks ago, wish a content smile upon his face. His eyes had been glittering, heart seemingly full until he’d seen Jungkook, where he’d frowned and narrowed his eyes. Jungkook had slithered out of the shadows from a corner, with a crooked smile; the best fake joy he could produce, since most of his evenings were spent in sorrow.
“Nice performance,” Jungkook had said, attempting sincerity but instead seeming snarky. “I liked the tune.”
“I made it up on the spot,” Yoongi had said quietly, placing his hands at his front and fiddling nervously with his fingers. “I’m glad that everyone liked it.”
“ . . . Have you ever felt sad while playing?”
“ . . . Would you like me to feel sad?”
“Wh-” Jungkook’s eyes had widened, “No-, I mean-, maybe sometimes, but-”
“I think you’re tired, Jungkook,” Yoongi had mumbled, “You should go to sleep. It’s late.”
Jungkook’s blood had bubbled, frustration rising in his throat, “Don’t tell me what to do. Get your ears cleaned! It seems you can’t do anything but steal attention.”
“Listen,” Jungkook had said, temper rising, “You’re a good for nothing-”
That’s when Taehyung had appeared behind him and touched his shoulder, putting a finger to his mouth and hushing him. “No fights inside the lair, remember?” He’d said, while Jungkook’s eyes had been quickly filling with tears of frustration. He’d grit his teeth as Taehyung had escorted the boy the rest of the way to his room, Yoongi occasionally looking back wearily as he went.
When they’d passed, he’d turned and punched the wall. A crack sounded from his joint, and he let out a breath of air as he pulled away hit fist to see one of the knuckled had opened. He sucked in a breath through his teeth as some tears fell down his face, frustration mixed with despair.
Why can’t I do anything right? He’d asked himself while weakly walking back to his room, When did everything go to such shit?
He’d wiped his nose upon entering his room, and crawled into bed, not bothering to change his clothes or clean his cut. The shadows would take care of it, he told himself as he began to weep, the stinging in his knuckle only a fraction of the pain his heart felt.
Yoongi had caused this , He’d tell himself while crying as quietly as he could, Yoongi had changed everything. Yoongi had taken everything I’d had and left me with nothing. And then a final thought occurred to him that he’d never forget. And for that, maybe I want to kill him .
His days continued like that, so slow and depressing where he’d only laugh on occasion until the day he’d insulted Yoongi and then slinked off into the shadows, dust on his shirt and all.
Yoongi had run into him once more, just like he always did, courtesy of Jungkook’s planning, and then walked off, where Taehyung had come out to talk to him, just as Jungkook had known he’d do thanks to spying on his conversations earlier that day.
Those two were becoming the thing he’d once been with Namjoon.
He bit his lip, stopping his tears now, since he didn’t want to be seen crying again, and walked. To where? He didn’t care. Maybe he’d continue walking down the lair halls until he got lost and starved. Or, maybe, until the janitor found him and told Namjoon where he was, just for the eighteen-year-old to give him a stern ‘talking-to’ and then release him so that he could do whatever he wanted again.
Again and again, this was his life. He knew it as he dusted off his shirt, and knew it as he couldn't stop a single tear from running down his face. Knew it as he took one more step and intended to lose himself until-
He bumped into Namjoon, taller than when he’d been sixteen and more lithe than ever before. He’d grown into his body, Jungkook knew, as the fourteen-year-old had yet to do. His golden stopwatch continued to never leave his neck, and his black overcoat never left his shoulders. He was holding some papers and a pen, nothing special to Jungkook but important to the Crime Lord.
“Kook,” Namjoon had said quietly, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” Jungkook had said with an obvious pout.
“Are you . . .” Namjoon had bent down to look into Jungkook’s eyes, which the boy desperately tried to hide with his hair. “Crying, Kook?”
“N-no,” Jungkook had said, “I’m not. I’m not crying. I don’t cry.”
“Who told you that?”
Namjoon shook his head, grabbing Jungkook’s shoulder, “Come,” He’d said, “I . . . I think I need to talk to you.”
And they’d gone to his room, one he’d been in multiple times and had enjoyed being a part of. He’d walked in, sitting on one of the many plush chairs and then curled into himself, trying not to focus on the voices of Yoongi and Taehyung outside of the room while Namjoon slowly shut the door, muffling those sounds.
Namjoon took his papers and walked over to his desk, sitting down and placing the papers and the pens into multiple different places which Jungkook could tell had been sorted from the way the man was methodically checking and then placing them. It took a few seconds before he was done, and then came over to Jungkook, sitting in a chair beside him.
“Is there something wrong with me, Namjoon?” Jungkook had blurted out suddenly.
“What?” Namjoon had asked, confusing overcoming him.
“Is there something wrong with me,” More of a statement than a question this time.
“No! Kook, no. Nothing is wrong with you. Why?”
“Because everything is going to shit.”
Namjoon slightly cringed at the foul word but said nothing of it as he continued, “How?”
“I feel like I did before. I don’t want to feel that way, but I can’t help it. I just-” Jungkook struggled for words, “I feel like everything is going away. Everything I loved is being taken away. It started with Mr. Sangeun, then Minhyu, then the gang stopped talking to me, and then Yoongi was the final piece in the puzzle. Everyone left me alone, like I was nothing,” He took a shuddering breath, “I thought the gang would be better than home, but it’s just turning into the same place.”
“For how long?”
“How long has it been this way.”
“A few weeks after Yoongi came, it all slowly left me.”
Namjoon paused, then he placed his head into his hands and shook his head, he closed his eyes, something causing him to shudder. He wondered if Namjoon was picturing something, or if some kind of memories were coming back.
“I’m sorry, Kook.” He’d said in a whisper.
“For what?” Jungkook had asked.
“For leaving you alone for so long,” He groaned, “I should’ve known that you’d need me, right?”
Jungkook nodded. He should’ve.
“And I didn’t,” Namjoon had said, then gotten to his feet, slouching and swaying. “I’m horrible, aren’t I?”
Jungkook paused, “You saved me once, so . . .no.”
“But can I do it again? Do you want me to help you this time?”
Jungkook paused for a second time, “I-I didn’t want a father, but you gave me one anyways.”
“A father? Who?”
When Jungkook didn’t answer, Namjoon’s eyes widened and his whole body tensed. His pupils seemed to swirl with something unidentifiable until he blinked and it was gone. His vocal chords seemed to have failed him, and he blinked more, seeming to try and release himself from a trance. “You thought of me, Kim Namjoon, a murderer, as your father?” The boy almost choked on the final word, a hiccup in his usually stern dialogue.
“ . . . You’re not that different from the real thing . . .” Jungkook said, looking away, “You were always there. You fed me and gave me something to look forward to and gave me advice, it’s just . . . I never had one, so I guess you became it.”
Namjoon then began laughing to himself, “Kook . . . god, Kook,” He whispered, “Everyone always tells me how smart I am, and I couldn’t even figure this out . . .” He frowned to himself. “I couldn’t even figure out what was wrong, Kook, and for that, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
“It . . . wasn’t your fault, Namjoon,” Jungkook said quietly, “What happened, happened. You shouldn’t beat yourself up over it . . .”
“I should’ve known though, Kook, I should’ve felt something or at least checked in on you, I just . . .” He loosed a sigh and shook his head, “Taehyung told me you and Yoongi were trying to be friends, so I left you two alone, I-”
“What happened, happened, Joon,” Jungkook repeated, ignoring Taehyung’s lie and not pointing it out either. He’d find a way to deal with that himself as well. “I was alone, but . . . you’re talking to me right now, and I think that enough . . .” He paused, “You saved me from one situation, I . . . I think that’s enough.”
“I should always try to be good to you, Kook,” Namjoon let out a breath he’d been holding in, then placed his elbows on to his desk, running a hand through his hair. “And if I’m not, then you have permission to leave. You have permission to go and find a new home and blame everything on me, okay?”
“You should never be sad, Kook. I chose you to give you something better, not to make you miserable . . . that’s . . . that’s what caretakers should never do.”
“You can just say father’s, if you want.”
“It . . . doesn’t suit my definition of the term.”
Jungkook nodded. He played with his fingers as Namjoon clicked a pen nervously, writing things down and signing documents before him. The calming sound of ink scratching onto paper filled the room, and once more, it was silent between them.
“Tuesdays,” Namjoon then blurted out, “So that you’re never lonely, why don’t you join me on Tuesdays?”
“Like Taehyung and Yoongi, they asked today if they could be together on Tuesdays. Do you want that, Kook?”
“To do what?”
“To . . . just be together, Kook. To . . . spend time.”
Jungkook brightened up. The ball games, the laughter, the fun and roughhousing with Yeon Sangeun, would it come back? Everything that had brought him joy, would it do that once more?
“You’re not joking . . . ?”
“I still haven’t taught you how to walk without sound, have I?”
Jungkook smiled brighter and got up from his seat.
“I’ll teach you that, but . . .” He paused and opened a drawer. He pulled out a bento box filled with something Jungkook didn’t recognize. “You’ve never had sushi before, have you?”
Jungkook shook his head as Namjoon came out from behind the desk, he smiled and walked over to Jungkook and placed an arm around his shoulders, pulling him into an embrace. Namjoon, Jungkook noticed, smelt different from previous years. He now smelt of rusted metal and lilac, though one could notice the blood-scent. Jungkook ignored it though, if only his happiness stopped him from really diving into it.
“It’s right from Japan, Kook. I’m sure you’re gonna love it.”
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
The Present Day
The knight toppled over the king piece, and a laugh erupted from Jimin’s mouth while Seokjin’s fast hand met the table with a loud bang. Practically fuming, Seokjin flipped over the table (where all the pieces and the pricey chess board crashed to the ground), and pointed a finger at Jimin, who was still laughing, clutching his stomach with tears coming from his eyes.
“Cheater! You cheater!” Seokjin screamed as he kicked the table in anger for effect. The wood, harder than the boy had anticipated, stood strong against his foot and bit back. Seokjin let out a breath, as though he’d been punched, and turned away from Jimin to hold his foot.
“H-hurt much?” Jimin said between laughs as he practically gasped for air.
Seokjin turned with a poker face, completely different from the wheel of emotions he’d experienced earlier and said in a monotone, “I’m never hurt.” Which sent Jimin into another laughing fit. The boy, still in his plush chair, toppled over as well, landing on his hands and knees; he weakly slammed his hands into the wooden floor of the music room, unable to contain himself.
Suddenly, two knocks rang into the room from the white door, and Hoseok’s tired face popped in. It was morning now, about eight o’clock if the clock in the music room told the right time, and Seokjin and Jimin had woken up wanting to play chess. That sentiment was all the boys had needed to have the fuel to drive them into lugging the expensive chess set from the Park’s living room into the room they were in. Hoseok pieced together as much.
Jimin took no mind to his teacher until Seokjin whispered for him to “ Shut up!” and had tapped him on the shoulder.
Before the boy stood his teacher with a morning coffee and an annoyed face. “Jimin,” he said, glancing at the chess pieces with unreadable eyes.
“Yes. . . ?” Said Jimin hesitantly, Seokjin already snickering. The piano player shot the violin player a quick glare, to which the teacher stood between them. Hoseok got down to Jimin’s level, knees bent like a frog’s and simply said.
“I need to speak to you,” He said, though no dismissal for Seokjin was evident. The boy slowly got up and walked out, fun forgotten and laughs vanishing from the space. Only when the echo of the music room door opening and closing had finished did Hoseok speak. “It’s about Min Yoongi.”
Jimin’s eyes widened at the name. Min Yoongi? Who could that be? Surely . . . not the violin player in the shack? The boy got to his feet, repositioned his chair, and sat down. Hoseok pulled up Seokjin’s fallen chair and sat down himself. Neither of them went to pick up the chess set; Jimin cringed at the long crack down the middle of the main set piece, almost hoping that it was hidden from his teacher’s view just long enough so that he could be gone before the rage began. “Who?”
“Your friend. The one you brought in to the property not so long ago,” Hoseok said; it only confirmed what Jimin suspected.
Then it came crashing in. The news reports, the familiar face, the familiar name . Oh, and how could he forget? The weeping Mrs. Min, coming to their door, begging them to send out patrols for her son, then the next day having a harsh change of heart and telling everyone to call the police on him if they ever truly saw him. Then the bounty, then the relinquishment of said bounty, then the limbo of Mrs. Min.
“You can’t have him in this house, Jimin,” Hoseok said, crossing his legs, “For your safety, mine, Seokjin’s--, you just can’t have him here.”
“But the Legend’s Duet!” Jimin said quickly, the thoughts ebbing away from him for a second. The media was always being tampered with, thought Jimin, for all he’d seen so far had been a gentle, soft but broken boy. A broken boy who’s sorrows formed his pieces and whose intentions were not ill. “You know how wrong the news can be--”
“Rumours say he killed men,” Hoseok said quietly, taking a sip from his steaming coffee and looking away. “They say he worked with Kim Namjoon. Do you know who he is?”
Of course Jimin knew. Everyone knew of Kim Namjoon. Nobody in the city hadn’t been touched by his shadow hands, those hands that take and never give, that have ties around every corner and crevice of his home town. “That doesn’t change anything.”
Hoseok acted as though his coffee had burnt him, obviously to hide his wince as his eyes lit up with a slight anger. “How does that not change anything ?” He said, drink slightly spilling onto the ground of the room. “ Murderer , Jimin, he could be a murderer .”
“But his past, Hoseok. If what you're saying is true, then he’s a Min. He’s born for the violin. You of all people want to win--”
“Of course what I'm saying is true! I,” Hoseok said, doing his best to keep his calm, “Of all people want to see you safe , Jimin.” He placed a slim, piano-worn finger along Jimin’s jawline and traced it down, “You don’t know how much pain I’d be in to see you hurt, Jimin, do you?” He said quietly, standing up and moving closer; Jimin’s body had gone stiff now, without Seokjin in the room, he was practically defenseless. He gulped, and his throat bobbed with the action. Hoseok’s eyes trailed the movement, and traced his fingers along that place too.
“So please, just please . . .” Hoseok grew closer, until their lips were practically touching. Jimin could feel his hot breath against the soft skin of his mouth, and out of instinct, parted for him. But--
Jimin shoved Hoseok away, the coffee cup in his hands smashing against the floor. Brown liquid and ceramic infected the clean beige wood, his teacher’s face mimicking the panic of the matter. Seokjin burst through the door, staring at the scene. The piano player’s hands slightly shook as he bowed his head in disgust at his own actions, but did not dare to feel bad for them.
“You don’t know when to stop, Hoseok,” Said Jimin as he balled up his fists and stormed for the exit, partly for Seokjin as well. He mumbled a quiet, “I’m sorry . . .” Before his friend slammed the door for effect and left with Jimin.
It took about four hallways and the morning sky outside for Jimin’s tears to stop. The boy didn’t have a jacket on, and for that, Seokjin had handed him his own black sweater. A bit oversized due to the shoulders, but still warm enough to fend against the almost-winter air. The sleeves, long and covering Jimin’s palms, allowed him to press the fabric against his wet eyes and lessen the moisture. Despite all the comfort, Seokjin still wrapped an arm against the boy’s shoulders and pressed him close. He hadn’t asked what had happened in the music room, though he knew their relationship, and partly cringed from it.
“Are you going to be okay, at least?” Seokjin asked gently, and when Jimin didn’t reply, he simply looked away and enjoyed the view of the sky. It was a pale morning, with cotton-candy clouds littered here and there. It was a fluffy day, somewhat different to the words he’d heard through the thin music room door.
A slight wind ruffled the hair of Jimin, sending the blonde here and there. Seokjin held out his hand, offering it to his friend, who glanced at it and took it. Then there they stood, for a while, until Jimin’s sniffles came and then left, leaving him finally with an unpuffy face and damp sleeves.
“Do you like Yoongi?” Jimin asked quietly, “Are you okay with him?”
And though it pained him to say it, he nodded and said, “Yes.”
“Can I . . . Can I go to him?” Jimin asked, even more quietly.
And though it pained him more to say it, he nodded and said, “Yes.”
And why did he say it?
Because unlike Hoseok, he wanted to see Jimin happy, even if it meant without himself.
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
Staring at the golden clock in his hands, the one that Yoongi usually kept around his neck, he could not stop thinking sorrowfully. How he’d stolen it, after whoring and killing for Kim Namjoon, then run away as though the man had done nothing for him . . . that was what hungover thoughts brought you to.
Sometimes, just sometimes, during drunken nightmares or just regular nightmares, Yoongi could feel that gun in his hand, the trigger as it clicked and the bullet as it flew towards an innocent skull. He supposed he’d stolen the watch just to remember himself of his guilt, or perhaps to get back at the Crime Lord for allowing him to do such vile things.
Yoongi let out a sigh, shook his head (even though the action caused his head to spin), and closed the cover to the golden watch. He placed the trinket around his neck, where it always was, and leaned back on his couch. It was the morning, nearing noon, though he guessed his body still wasn’t used to the luxury of not having to wake up to immediate responsibilities.
He had to admit, it jarred him each morning when he awoke in a pristine room that didn’t belong to the gang, or that he wasn’t half-dead in the streets; that he didn’t have to instantly check for his watch, even if it had been around his neck, under his shirt the whole time.
He supposed he hated it even more that he could drink in security and wake up hungover as ever without having to have a second thought besides the whereabouts of Park Jimin and when the boy would come next to practice. The violin, he had to admit as well, still pained him a bit to play, but he’d gotten over it for the rich boy’s sake. He hadn’t wanted to seem weak, though . . . some part of him told him that Jimin wouldn’t care either way. He didn’t listen to that part of him.
There was no knock upon the door when Jimin had strolled into the mini-house. Yoongi jumped from his thoughts, eyes widening at the sudden presence, though calming down and returning to the relaxed state they were always in when realizing who it was. Two people already knew about him, it wouldn’t help that every quick action made him jump, or that every flick of a light switch made his whole body tense up (for the noise was too similar to the sound of a gun cocking).
“Do you . . . need anything, Jimin?” Yoongi asked hesitantly, trying to act as though staring at the ground for an undetermined amount of time was normal to walk in upon.
The boy didn’t respond, only pouring himself a glass of apple juice and quietly walking over to the couch where Yoongi sat. At the table before the seating area, Jimin took a sip of his drink and then placed it upon the glass surface. He then took his own seat where Yoongi instantly noted the oversized black sweater. Odd for the boy who always seemed to be wearing the best of the best (never loose clothing, only tighter fitting ones that seemed to show off his assets). Then, his eyes wandered to the pants of Jimin, which were dress pants.
Someone else’s hoodie? Yoongi wondered, and forced his eyebrows not to raise.
“A hug,” Jimin said, a bit hoarsely. Noon light filtered in through the windows, much different from the milky morning that had graced them all. “I need a hug.”
Yoongi’s eyebrows then did raise, but he said nothing as he hesitantly opened up his arms and allowed Jimin to cradle into the crook of his shoulder, like a baby in need of nestling. Jimin took his arm and placed it securely around his own neck, as though he were afraid Yoongi could drop him if not holding on tightly enough.
Yoongi had never “cuddled” before, if that’s what this could be called. His mother had never took him into a hug, though his father had once, briefly. He supposed he’d hugged his younger twin brothers at one point, but they’d both said nothing and had only smiled back instead of wrapping their arms around him.
No, he was wrong. He had "cuddled" before, but he hadn't considered it that. He considered cuddling more romantic, though. was this romantic? They were just friends, weren't they? Only partners for the greatest music show. His thoughts made his head spin, especially when the remnants of his headache was still in effect. It took a minute before he pushed them all away to focus on Jimin.
“Is something wrong?” Yoongi asked hesitantly.
And that’s when Jimin’s lip began to quiver, eyes begin to water, and hands begin to shake gently. In a weak attempt to conceal his emotions, Jimin sucked in a breath, but that only hurt him more as he sank into Yoongi’s arm like a lifeforce, and started to cry.
His breaths came in shudders as he told him about Hoseok, how he’d pushed him and not meant to, how he felt extremely sorry about pushing him, then finally, about why he’d pushed him. He described the feel of his instructor’s lips against his, how he’d hated it, even if he knew Hoseok really liked him.
“It’s okay,” He said gently, though he wanted to say so much more about his thoughts on Hoseok, “He can’t hurt you with me.”
“He knows about you,” Jimin said weakly, which sent ice travelling down Yoongi’s spine. “He knows about your gang, your name, you family . . . Yoongi . . . he might . . .” And Jimin was overcome with another fit of tears, but Yoongi knew what the boy was going to say. That he might take him away from the piano player.
He’d elaborate on that part later.
“He wouldn’t do that,” Yoongi said quietly, “Not if you care so much.”
Jimin glanced up, eyes watery. “How do you know that . . . ?” He asked, voice muddy through tears.
“Well, he came to me one night and told me that the only thing between me and bars is you. He wouldn’t hurt me for you . Even though he’s a sick--” Yoongi cut himself off, changing his words, “Even though he made some awful decisions, he still--” He thought about his words, everything more horrible than the last. Hoseok didn’t care about Jimin, he loved the boy with some sick passion that drove him to try and control the other. It reminded him of one duo he hoped every night he wouldn’t see ever again. “Jimin . . . just know that I’m safe as long as you’re safe.”
And with that, Jimin nodded into Yoongi’s shirt, which had been clean until Jimin had shoved his face into the cloth, effectively making it wet.
They sat like that in each other’s arms for a bit, enjoying each other’s warmth until Jimin glanced up and pointed towards the piano. His lips and nose were still slightly red and swollen, but his eyes seemed to have cleared enough to let him see without tears obstructing his view.
Yoongi took the pointing as a queue to go play, which he’d obeyed. As if he’d say no to a crying boy. So Yoongi rose from his seat, helping Jimin out of his position, which resembled a piece of crumpled paper, and went over to the two instruments which never left their spots. They held hands through the entire walk over, mostly because Jimin was still a bit wobbly on his feet, but neither of them particularly wanted to let go. Yoongi glanced towards the violin, Jimin shrugged, and only then did they release each other.
“The same piece as usual?” Yoongi asked quietly as he brought the violin’s neck rest to his own, placing his hands delicately on the strings and grabbing the bow, as was natural by now. He began flipping through the sheets of music, carefully moving the pieces of paper upon the golden stand.
Jimin placed his own hands gently onto the keys of the piano, pale fingers interlacing with those of white and black, took a breath, a sniffle, and nodded. The boy had memorized it by now, and did not need the sheets of music, save for when they got deep into five minutes of the song. “Yes,” He said, voice already half-muddled with the beginnings of immersion, “same as usual.”
Then, after a few seconds pause, Jimin began. First there were the low notes of his part, which lasted for about fifteen seconds before Yoongi took over with extremely high notes for another fifteen seconds, and then, after thirty seconds alone, they crashed together with their two crescendos which lasted for long moments. They both had their eyes closed, were living inside of the music, bouncing around it and almost dancing together in a way that gave each of them goosebumps, until--
Jimin touched the wrong note, and immediately the illusion collapsed, cracking and falling around them. Yoongi blinked, the goosebumps that had been travelling along every square inch of his body fading and smoothing, he glanced to Jimin, who had never played a wrong note with him before.
“Jimin?” He said hesitantly to the boy who was staring at the keys and slightly biting his lip, as though he were nervous to speak.
“I never play the wrong note,” Jimin said quietly, eyes slowly turning to meet his, “But I always do when something’s bothering me.”
Yoongi clued in that something else was of the matter, and blinked some more, the euphoria still ebbing away from his body. He spoke soothingly and said, “Something else is bothering you?"
Jimin nodded, eyes snapping back to the keys; he was unable to meet the violin player’s eyes. He thought of Jin, how he wanted his calming quiet and perfect innocence, but then shook his own head, deciding it would be better to talk now.
“Why do you drink so much, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, still staring at the instrument. His eyes watered, though his voice held strong. The disgraced heir glanced to the ground, which seemed better than looking at Jimin.
Why did he drink so much?
Ah. He knew.
“It always takes away the pain,” He said into his neck rest. “When I can’t make sense of myself, it helps me,” Yoongi quickly thought about something more, earning himself a little laugh, “But you should stick to apple juice,” He paused once more, mustering up pride and saying, “Please.”
Jimin stayed silent for a second, biting and nibbling on his lip until he said, in a bit of a breathy voice that was obviously due to the strain of his emotions, “I’ll stick to the apple juice,” he said with a small smile, but then continued. “Do you think that maybe . . . maybe someday you could go to apple juice, too? That . . . I could take away that pain . . . ?”
Yoongi let out another breathy laugh, taking his head away from his violin and taking a deep breath. “I don’t think I’ll ever be rid of this pain, Jimin, but . . . maybe, just maybe, we could try.”
“Yeah,” Jimin said quietly, “I want to try.”
“Yes, Yoongi. I think I want to try . . . with you.”
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
It was evening the next day, and Jimin had yet to show up for his daily music practice. The music room seemed empty without him, large and white and filled with nothing but two instruments and golden music stands accompanied by Hoseok and Seokjin. Hoseok, in his self-hatred, had kicked the white piano, leaving a black shoemark in its place. He was currently cleaning that while Seokjin fixed the broken string of his violin which had popped after he’d played it extremely hard in his anger towards Hoseok.
“If we intervene, Hoseok, he’ll hate us both,” Seokjin said with a sharp tone; he was angry, but not angry enough to miss his expensive lessons. “If you actually love Jimin like you say you do, then you won’t take that boy away from him. Especially not when he comes from the family that he does.”
“You think you’re so . . . bright , Seokjin. You want the best for him but . . . I know what’s best for him, and that rat is not it,” Hoseok said as he rubbed a cleaner against the black mark, which was not coming off easily; he swore under his breath in frustration.
“And kissing him is your solution? Forcing yourself onto him is your solution?” Seokjin had put his violin down and was now staring at the side of Hoseok, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. Seokjin disliked even looking at his sideprofile, which was unnecissarily sharp.
“Don’t, Seokjin,” Said Hoseok with a warning tone. “You don’t know anything about what’s happening.”
“ I don’t know anything? I don’t know anything even though I’m the one who told you who that boy was? You say I don’t know anything even though you wouldn’t have even fucking clued in had I not came to you.” Seokjin spat his words, glaring at the shirt of Hoseok, who would not come out from his place under the piano, “Yet you say I don’t know anything about what’s happening?!”
“Yes, Seokjin,” Hoseok said, “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You absolute child --”
That was it for Seokjin.
Seokjin threw the pretty violin onto the ground, the force of the blow popping the string that he’d just attempted to fix. With his hands, he pushed Hoseok onto his side and dragged him out from under the piano. In swift movements, he had him pinned on the wooden floor, breathing heavily as Hoseok only attempted to be free of him. He wriggled like a worm under the weight of Seokjin, but the skinny teacher was no match for the energy-pumped boy.
“Listen to me, you diluted piece of shit ,” Seokjin said breathily, “Neither of us have a chance with Jimin, so accept that. You. Don’t. Have. A--”
Hoseok loosed a hand, shoving Seokjin’s arm off of his own shoulder and socking him in the cheek. From the blow, everything of the boy’s hold fell limper and Hoseok was able to push Seokjin off of him. The boy stumbled backwards, staring at the teacher with knives in his stare.
They said nothing for a minute, only exchanging stares before Hoseok rose to his feet, Seokjin mimicking the movement. For another minute, it seemed as though it would end there, without a conclusion. Then, Seokjin opened his mouth and closed it. By the fourth time he did this, he spoke.
“We should let Jimin have his freedom, for once in his life,” He said quietly, fists balled and cheek growing redder from his teacher’s hands. “We should let him be happy.”
“He’d be happy with--” Hoseok began, but Seokjin cut him off quickly, ending his spree before it could commence.
“Hoseok! Do you hear yourself ?” He said, glaring, “I heard what happened. He pushed you away. It wasn’t hard to put the pieces together once he came out crying while you were on the floor. Who do you think you are? Was he happy with you?” When Hoseok didn’t answer, Seokjin bounded over, grabbing his teacher by the shirt and, bringing him close, he spoke clearly into his ear. “We should let him be happy , with or without us.”
Seokjin released Hoseok, who stumbled on his feet, hands also balled into fists as he struggled internally.
“Does he not already have freedom?” Hoseok finally said, “Is he not already happy?”
“Not with us, Hoseok,” Seokjin grumbled, “If you paid any attention to him, you’d see the way he looks at that boy. You’d see how he changes, how he brightens up like he never does with us. You’d see it if you cared , Hoseok.”
Hoseok stayed silent once more, fists this time closing and releasing until they finally became flat, as though that inner struggle had been relinquished.
“And . . . and with that Yoongi criminal, he’ll be happy?”
Seokjin ignored the insult towards Yoongi, since the feeling was mutual, and said, “I don’t know, Hoseok, but I think he’ll have something pretty close with him.”
With that, Hoseok looked away and slumped onto the piano chair, holding his face with his hands. His mouth contorted and his eyes tightened shut; Seokjin stared at his teacher, then looked away, picked up his violin, and placed it onto its stand. He decided someone else would fix it.
The boy neared the door, deeming it unfit to stay, until Hoseok raised his voice and told him to wait. He turned his head, looking over his shoulder at the heartbroken instructor, who asked him if he was wrong for doing what he had done-- if he had been wrong for trying to keep Jimin safe, in maybe a different way than was normal. If he had been wrong for being so blindly entranced within Jimin’s song.
Seokjin blinked, brows furrowing until he turned away and said simply, “You’re asking the wrong person,” to which he left, despite Hoseok’s pleas for him to answer his question.
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
Two years ago
When they’d first met, in that exact moment, Jung Hoseok had felt nothing but interest and ecstasy. Two feelings he’d thought he’d never feel again, not for as long as he’d lived. When they’d come with a spark that he hadn’t expected, he’d felt like a different person, as if he’d been reborn.
He’d been sixteen while Hoseok had been twenty, quite young for someone who was such a bright light. He’d known his new duty had been to protect that light for reigniting his, no matter what lengths he had to cross to keep it that way.
What many people did not know was that Jung Hoseok was actually a prodigy, but one who had chosen the life of a teacher instead of a celebrity. People liked to call him an underground prodigy or a fallen star, and even though he had few students who could run and blab about his talents, somehow the Park’s had found out who he was, and had hired him to take care of their blooming son and to teach him how to be as good at piano as he.
‘’And he’s played piano before?’’ Hoseok had asked over the phone one morning while sitting in his small condo, modest for his single body and with a giant black piano in the middle of the room.
‘’Since the age of three, but he’s stiff and troubled . . .’’ Park Jimin’s mother had responded, the sound of her husband coming from the telephone static behind her. ‘’Please, we’ve heard only the best about you. We know he’s late, but you could try, couldn’t you?’’
‘’I guess I could try,’’ Hoseok had responded while letting out a sigh. ‘’Just send me the information via email, and I’ll check it out later.’’
‘’Great! Thank you so much, you won’t regret working with Jimin,’’ That had been her last words before she had sent a lengthy email to Hoseok’s mailbox detailing everything about their meeting. Saturday evening, six o’clock, wear fresh clothes-- it was basic and nothing Hoseok was surprised of, but they mentioned that they would be absent. Nothing out of the ordinary, he had said to himself, and gone to continue his day.
Lately, piano playing had become more of a chore than anything he enjoyed. The keys meshed together, songs were no longer interesting. It was a job, not a hobby, but this paycheck was larger, so he told himself that he might as well suck it up and go.
Soon, their meeting had come upon him and he’d ended up travelling to the Park mansion, and arriving right on time, moving up the steps and checking the email for the directions to their music room until he’d found it and opened it, careful to close it behind him when finished entering.
He’d fixed his jacket, made sure his music papers were still in his hand, then raised his head to glance at the student. Who had he been? Well, he’d been small, soft, and brighter than anything he’d ever seen before, and at the time, he’d given him the warmest smile Hoseok had ever received. It had taken Hoseok a moment to collect himself (the greeting unusually welcoming for the then emotionless tutor) before coming up to the boy and saying a greeting, shaking his hand and then sitting beside him, the bench long, velvet, and roomy.
“Hi!” The student, Jimin, suddenly chirped beside Hoseok, slightly scaring him. His hand bounced along a treble clef and his sharp nails cut the paper, making a small rip. Hoseok blinked, staring at his hands for a moment before returning to look at Jimin. He produced the best smile he could manage, which was small and forced, and then nodded.
“Let’s just start.” He’d said, looking as though he’d ignored Jimin’s words. The boy, still awkwardly growing into his body at the time, fiddling with his fingers as he watched the more mature man fix himself.
“Definitely,” Jimin had said, fixing his sitting position on the piano to match Hoseok’s more. “I wouldn’t think of anything else.”
Perfectionists , Hoseok grumbled within his mind. He didn’t mind students like these, as he was one himself, but he always hated how they were so stubborn to move on from something they didn’t have down ‘perfectly’. It made extra lessons a pain as it usually sucked up Hoseok’s free time.
When Jimin didn’t do anything, Hoseok crossed his arms. In the email he’d received, his parents had told Hoseok that Jimin would have shown him his skills right off the start, yet the boy did nothing. Jimin teetered nervously.
“Show me what you’ve got,” Hoseok said finally as he moved to the edge of the velvet seat, leaving the white piano all to Jimin. Jimin’s eyes widened, though his face continued to look towards the instrument.
“What do you mean?” He said quietly, “R-Right now?”
So he knew what Hoseok meant.
“Exactly. Right now,” Hoseok said while nodding his head.
“What do you want me to play?” Jimin said, slowly edging towards the middle of the velvet seat so that he could get the best length for his arms. He hovered his hands over the keys, not daring to rest them lest he make a sound and anger Hoseok. “Anything?”
“Anything. Your best piece, your worst piece. Just let me hear where you are.”
Jimin nodded, but he licked his lips and said, “Do you have a favourite song?”
Hoseok teetered his head, “Not one that you’d be able to play right off the bat.”
“Are you sure?”
Hoseok shook his head and pointed his finger towards the piano. “Stop stalling and play.”
“Sorry,” Jimin muttered and let out a breath. He closed his eyes, presumably thinking of the best song to play, and then opened them. His hands went into very specific positions and his feet moved to rest upon the pedals below the piano.
It was another five seconds before the first chord rang out into the well-insulated music room. It was deep and melancholic, sorrowful and mysterious, and it bounced perfectly off of every perfectly white wall. The boy hit one chord, then the next while his right hand hit high notes that blended and danced with the dark and sombre notes that he struck with his left. His fingers then waved along every key like small waves of their own, seeming so fluid that Hoseok would not have thought possible for such a stiff and nervous boy.
Hoseok instantly recognized the song; Fantaisie Impromptu by Chopin. It was a classic, and it seemed, surprisingly, that Jimin knew it by heart, as sometimes he even closed his eyes while playing. The notes and the melody were smooth like butter and flowed into each other as they always should, but they missed a passion that forced the tune to have a sour taste. It had an odd lifelessness to it that could be heard in the way that Jimin sometimes would even flinch at when noticing that it became too loud compared to the real song.
Fantaisie Impromptu came to an end as Hoseok said, “That’s good, Jimin. You can stop.”
“S-sorry,” Jimin said as he took his hands back, flexing the knuckles as he did so.
“For what?” Hoseok asked, staring at his papers as he asked the question. He fixed one paper that was standing lopsidedly and then looked to Jimin. Hoseok’s eyes turned an odd emotion as they sparked with interest. Did the boy know about his own lack of love?
“For messing up,” He said quietly.
Hoseok’s eyes widened, “I didn’t hear any mistake, Jimin.”
Jimin shook his head, “Nevermind, then. I’m sorry again. Continue, if you can.”
Hoseok took a breath. This one was unlike any of his other students. He was so confusing and seemed to be clouded, almost confused half of the time. He seemed to be missing something, or having trouble connecting with something. Perhaps he knew about it, or maybe it was something Hoseok didn’t need to yet know about.
This is only a single piano lesson, Hoseok reminded himself, No need to get attached .
“Well,” Hoseok said, “I did notice one mistake.”
“W-what was it?”
“You don’t love the piano, do you, Jimin?”
Jimin’s eyes widened, and then he shook his head. “Are you going to tell anyone?”
Hoseok shook his head, “The confidentiality agreement says I can’t.”
“Did you make the agreement yourself?”
“Of course I did,” Hoseok said. He had an agreement on every one of his lesson contracts that told the parents that anything within the music room stayed inside of the music room. He’d hoped they have had read it, because Jimin obviously hadn’t been allowed to. “I have too many students to be telling all of their secrets.”
“Have you ever?”
“I just said not once,” Hoseok said, “Now, do you love the piano, Jimin?”
“Why can’t you answer?” Hoseok said calmly.
“You can tell my parents, can’t you? You can tell them that I don’t like the piano.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Because I’m a Park.”
Hoseok snorted. Who was this child? Did he think he was better than others because of his title? Maybe because he looked better than most with his blonde hair and, at the time, purple contacts? Nevertheless, the boy continued to fidget.
“What does being a Park mean, Jimin? Give me a reason why I should care whether you are a Park or a Min compared to an average Kim musician. Please, enlighten me.”
“It means I have to be good. It means I can’t not like the piano if I’m good at it.”
“Who says you’re good?”
Jimin looked taken aback for a second. “Am I not?” He said quietly.
“Do you like the piano, Park Jimin?”
Jimin bit his tongue on his response, holding it in. He finally let out a sigh.
“My parents wouldn’t like it if I didn’t like the piano. They wouldn’t like it if you told them. They just . . .”
“You’re parents aren’t here right now, Jimin.”
“That’s . . . That’s the point.”
Jimin suddenly looked away, hands rushing to his eyes as he sniffled and then shrugged. Hoseok realized he shouldn’t pry any more and pointed towards the piano.
“I’m assuming you don’t like the piano, then.” Hoseok said, and without verbal agreement, Jimin didn’t nod or shake his head.
“I was forced into it,” Jimin said with a shrug.
Hoseok’s eyebrows raised. Him and Hoseok both, then? They shared something in common, at the least. His interest sparked further. Quietly, he said, “I get that,” but continued.
“Why don’t you try pouring your emotions into the piano, like it were more than just a tool? Put your anger, sadness, or anything into the piano. Just try and get that missing link to come back. The one thing you notice is missing.” Hoseok explained as he glanced to Jimin.
“Missing link?” Jimin asked quietly.
Hoseok nodded, giving a small smile. “Let’s just say you’re one foot short of wonderful.”
Jimin’s eyes widened and then he nodded. “I can . . . I can get one foot closer. That’s not a problem,” he said, then mumbled, “I can be a good Park.”
“Then, Jimin,” Hoseok said, motioning to the piano and smiling faintly, “Just show me that.”
So Jimin dived back into the piece that he knew so well, a little less stiff now that he had gotten a bit more familiar with his teacher. His eyes stayed closed, fingers on the piano, and this time, that little bit of sour taste disappeared. The melody sang with the player, wrapping around him instead of choking him. Each note flowed better than the last, Hoseok could tell, but it didn’t last long until the ugly flavour returned, and it was back to being as stiff as ever.
Jimin ended the piece, slowly opening his eyes once the last note rang out in the room and then finally disappeared. He turned his head to Hoseok, eyes hopeful.
Hoseok nodded, half-closing his eyes as he let the corners of his mouth curve upwards as he said, “We’re going to need a lot more practice, you and I.”
After that fateful day, more and more lessons were booked until Hoseok became a regular visitor in the Park mansion. He would come over when he wanted to, when he was free, or when he wanted to see his pupil’s progress. Surprise check-ups , he would call them each time he would stroll into the music room while Jimin was playing, sit down and simply listen.
Overtime, they’d gotten to know each other, getting closer and closer until they didn’t even mind sitting in the same room together, mulling over theory for hours on end. Each time Hoseok would visit, Jimin would progress more and more, becoming such a fine pianist that even Hoseok’s talent would soon be surpassed. He knew this, and was proud.
Though, despite Hoseok’s many visits, though, he’d never once seen the Park parents within their own household. He’d never heard a whisper of them upon the housemaid’s mouths, nor seen Jimin even want to talk about them unless Hoseok approached the subject. Hoseok decided to leave it alone, seeing it best until the right time came.
The current date was nearing Jimin’s seventeenth birthday. It was rumoured that the boy would be playing a set collection of pieces for the guests there, and preparation for that was needed.
Nights upon nights were spent slaving away, staring and playing the notes upon the pages until they were ingrained into the memory and second-nature to play without mistakes. Day after day was not missed, and even when Jimin had come down with a minor cold that left him with little energy, he still rose early to come upon the piano and play his heart out, even when Hoseok wasn’t there.
Then, finally the day had come.
Backstage, they prepared one last time before the curtains would fall and everyone would listen to the playing for the Park heir.
The venue of Jimin’s birthday was that of a small apartment on top of a very wealthy building. The walls surrounding everything were made of marble, and the ceiling was made of glass, turning it into a skylight where everyone could see the stars above. The floor was made of a calming beige hardwood, which complimented the simple colours of everything else. Beautiful chandeliers of gold came down to hang from the skylight, illuminating everything with a dim yellow glow while candles did the rest of the lightwork down on the ground below. Rose was the scent of every candle, and they were placed upon every table (there were fifteen), burning brightly with anticipation.
The crowd chatted fervorously, all with very high-class dialect. Jimin was to play upon a wooden platform in the corner of the room, which was slightly higher than the rest of the crowd. Blood-red curtains came down from the ceiling, providing privacy for Jimin to speak with whomever he wanted before he was to play. Currently, he was dressed in a white suit and pink tie (complimented by a red rose in his pocket) before his white piano. He stared nervously at it while speaking with Hoseok and Seokjin.
“You’ve nothing to worry about, Jimin,” Hoseok said lightly, brushing his shoulder affirmingly and comfortingly. He gave a firm squeeze before continuing, “Just imagine me beside you. It’ll be identical to practice.”
Jimin, whose hands were shaking, nodded lightly. His eyes were wide, focusing on the pale blue suit of Hoseok and then the pale purple suit of Seokjin, and then mustering up enough energy to smile. “I’ve . . . I’ve never practiced before an audience this big,” He took a shuddering breath, “It’s . . . nerve-wracking.”
Seokjin smiled, patting his friend upon the back on the opposite side that Hoseok had done. He leaned down and whispered something into Jimin’s ear. Jimin’s face contorted in disbelief.
“What? No! Seokjin, I don’t want you to buy me a pet inchworm.”
Seokjin snorted, “If you do well enough, then I guess I’ll have no choice but to get you a present, right?”
Jimin shook his head, “You’re not making this any easier, Seokjin.”
Seokjin let out a sigh, “Hey, at least now you’re not thinking about the show as much, are you?”
Jimin pursed his lips, beginning a reluctant nod before letting out another shuddering breath. Seokjin and Hoseok both gave him another squeeze before they both abruptly stopped. An audible hush fell over the crowd as Jimin’s parents came onto the part of the small wooden stage that hadn’t been overflowing with red fabric. Jimin’s eyes clamped closed as he whispered, “I haven’t seen them in a year. If I mess up, what will they think?!”
“That you tried your best, Jimin,” Seokjin said reassuringly.
Jimin hesitantly nodding, ears straining to hear his parents as they began to speak.
Jimin’s parents, who stood before the stage, looked almost nothing like their son.
Mrs Park, who was a woman who walked with authority, had jet-black hair and upturned eyes that were of the darkest black. She looked younger than she was, and almost had no wrinkles despite her age. She gazed upon the crowd with satisfaction as she spoke, her perfect red lipstick lining her lips like the truest of blood. Her nails were perfectly manicured, and her dressed was short, cropped just above the knees. It complimented her slim legs, with looked toned despite the lack of exercise that her work demanded.
Mr Park, on the other hand, had very few words to speak. He had salt-and-pepper hair, grey with a bit of white, and his face looked tired. He had a simple black suit upon his body and bore hands that looked like they never stopped working. His eyes were oddly a light hazel, though, and his lips were oddly plump, which was something Jimin had received.
To say the least, the parents looked and acted nothing like their nervous bundle of a son.
As they finished up their speeches, Seokjin and Hoseok took to leaving.
“Happy Birthday, Jimin!” Seokjin whisper-yelled as he opened up the curtains on the side of the stage and exited using the steps. “You’ll do great!”
Jimin nodded, whispering his small thanks, and then turned to Hoseok.
Hoseok wasted no time as he spoke, “Remember the practices, it’ll be like I’m right beside you, okay?”
“I-I’ll try,” Jimin said with a stutter. Hoseok exited the stage, walking off the steps and going to his seat at Table One, where he greeted the Park parents and sat beside Seokjin, making sure he had a good view of his pupil.
Then, the curtains fell, revealing Jimin, stone-faced and handsome in his pure-white suit and red flower, light features looking chiseled against the yellow glow of the room. He smiled a bit to himself as he hit the first note, a tiny high note that then devolved into a heavy low note. That was only the introduction though, because he soon ran into the meat of the peace, which was upbeat and jittery. A playful song, something that someone with a high skill level would have to do, as Jimin’s hands rose up into the air as they crashed down at the same time to hit notes that were nowhere near each other.
To and fro, his fingers flew in name of the piece. It didn’t take long for the crowd to begin feeling the energy and begin tapping their feet under their chairs to the tune, or humming it in their heads at it came. Smiles broke out upon their faces, not large and surprised, but contained and small.
Jimin danced along the piano for a few more minutes until he quickly finished, stopping and laying his hands flat. It took seconds for the crowd to realize he was done, and then begin clapping. The clapping went on for long, not stopping until everyone had gotten their fill of the boy. Jimin, on the other hand, was contained in his face, but his eyes put off a different aura.
As he gazed upon the small crowd of around seventy-five, his eyes sparkled and shone, telling Hoseok and Seokjin that he was happier than ever. He heard a few comments rush up from the bustle, some like "with his eyes closed, could you believe that?!" and others saying "the Park's are lucky to have someone like Jimin as their son". The piece hadn’t been stale, but instead almost a tribute to everything Jimin had gone through in his musical journey. He let off no other emotion other than gratefulness as he got up, bowed once, twice, and then waited for the audience to be quiet before he walked off.
The crowd broke away from staring at the stage long enough to go back into their own conversations as Jimin walked over to Table One. First, the Park parents both got up, Mrs and Mr Park kissing him both on the cheeks and giving him lifeless hugs that both of Jimin’s companions could tell he didn’t enjoy. Jimin entertained a conversation with his parents before he sat down at Table One, where his assigned seat was. People kept turning and looking at him as he sat, but he ignored them all to talk to Hoseok and Seokjin.
Finally, when he gazed upon his companions, did he break out into a gigantic smile that forced his eyes closed to the point where he couldn’t see.
“That was amazing, Jimin,” Hoseok said, holding Jimin’s hand with the force of a proud teacher.
“Was it . . .?” Jimin asked shyly through his grin.
“Oh, shut up, Jimin,” Seokjin said playfully, smiling as he stuffed some break into his face. “You know you were amazing, no need to be modest.”
Jimin smiled to Seokjin, but as the night went on and Jimin continued to go on and off the stage, playing pieces that he finally loved thanks to Hoseok, the teacher promised himself, deep in his heart, something that he knew he would never break. He promised himself that he’d never let anyone hurt Jimin back into his place of sadness ever again.
Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen
The golden watch marked him like target, flashing annoyingly like a beacon in the Saturday night moonlight. Yoongi growled at it, upper lip raising in disdain as he stared at it through the mirror of his room. The indoor lights had been turned off as a test, allowing the outdoor lighting to flood in through his glass ceiling; though the stars had been beautiful, the sparkling of his watch had not been, and so he continued to stare at it, an inner battle raging through him, debating whether he should take it or not for his next trip to Taehyung’s.
Despite his friend’s warning and assurance that he would somehow notify Yoongi when everything was clear, the boy still continued to yearn for Taehyung. Taehyung, and a drink . Jimin’s words had soothed something upon him, but one could not get over a years-long addiction so fast. In addition, he had a suspicion that the silence was the queue, as it had been many times with Kim Namjoon. The silence was a silent message that everything was okay, and that no flashy messenger was needed, or, Namjoon had told him as much.
From age thirteen he’d started drinking, exactly one year after he’d joined the gang, right on his birthday. Kim Namjoon had brought him some spirits, to which -- as a gluttonous youth -- he’d gladly accepted and chugged. Then came his fourteenth birthday, when he’d been introduced to stronger alcohols. Fifteen had been reserved for wine, and sixteen . . .
Well, he’d left at sixteen.
Joined the streets and for two years stayed on the run. He knew he was the longest known fugitive of Kim Namjoon. He hoped to stay that way now, if not for Jimin’s sake, at least.
Yoongi glared at the watch once more, lost in his thoughts for but a second, until he ripped it off of his neck and threw it into a drawer. He slammed the fine wood shut, gazing at the closed space for just a moment before turning away. Not only would it be a beacon, but a reminder, and if something were wrong, then he’d surely hate to have that beacon around his neck for one of Namjoon’s spies to see.
Was he dumb for doing this?
Probably , thought Yoongi as he vaulted over an opened window and plunged into the night, landing on deep bushes. But I need my drink . And a slap from Taehyung .
Yes, he did need a drink-- and his Taehyung. Something stronger than the point-five percents in his fridge; something like the one he’d had that night Jung Hoseok had shown up. Something to wash away his pain.
Through the many alleyways he traveled, lightening his steps until he could no longer hear sound from himself, even when he accidentally crunched over a stray pop bottle that had been blown under his feet from the wind. It didn’t take long before his scenery changed from lush forest to the maze of dirty slums. Not only dirty slums, but the distinct dirtiness that always surrounded Taehyung’s hideout.
Yoongi turned a corner, a small smile on his face about how he’d bully Taehyung for being too much of a stingy bitch and not sending a messenger until he paused.
His eyes beheld too much, widened too fast as he took in the scene before him; one that made him want to vomit and run and fight all in the same second. His face contorted into mixtures of despair and anger before he froze in place, body going rigid from long dormant fear.
Taehyung, instead of being happy in his tent, was now bloodied and being held up by his hair. His tent, which Yoongi had hoped to see filled with booze, was cut up, the smell of alcohol and the sight of smashed bottles everywhere. Cuts littered Taehyung’s cheek, but the most shocking part of all was the knife positioned right above his jugular.
The shadows scattered and the knife-bearer, Jungkook, and another,
Fuck me, Yoongi said to himself, veins going ice cold.
Namjoon, wearing an identical black overcoat to the one of Yoongi, appeared. His face, harder than the last time he’d seen it, was set with a grin and eyes colder than the tundra; drops of blood spotted his face, though it blended in with his light-brown hair. His tall frame still scared Yoongi to this day, made even worse by the expensive, bloodied gun that he held before him. And his neck, that stupid neck, was empty. It was not fear for himself that he felt at the moment, but it was fear for Taehyung, and fear that Namjoon would shoot his friend right then and there with that gun.
The multiple rings on his fingers all sparkled individually in the meek light of the alleyway, all fighting for the attention of someone who was too scared to even speak. Kim Namjoon grinned as he pressed his cocked gun towards the temple of Taehyung, his eyes dark and searching.
They were hungry and waiting to feast upon the reaction of Yoongi.
He grinned before speaking, that disgusting intelligence hidden behind his clothes and way of talking.
“It seems we’ve found the conspirator, haven’t we, Kook?” Kim Namjoon said slowly; Yoongi’s eyes widened as he glanced at Jungkook, who tightened the knife. Taehyung stiffened against the blade, eyes pleading Yoongi to run away as quickly as he could, though the message was never received.
Jungkook, now he remembered more. The boy who’d always been behind Yoongi; Namjoon’s second favourite when it came to younger members. Yoongi had always been the leader’s favourite, which Jungkook had always hated.
Now he had his chance for revenge.
Suddenly, the gun fell from Taehyung’s temple and came upon Yoongi. He felt as though his knees would give out, as though everything were being taken from him. His mouth opened and closed, mind raced for something , anything to say that would save Taehyung. Anything that would stop him from getting shot --
“I don’t have it,” Yoongi blurted out, earning a grin from Jungkook. Namjoon raised an eyebrow in interest, motioning with the gun for Yoongi to continue what he was going to say. The boy gulped, eyes still darting wildly. “I don't have your watch.”
Kim Namjoon let out a laugh, deep and cumbersome as both of his eyebrows now raised. Instead of making hand motions when he spoke, he simply waved his gun around. “Oh! You don't?” He said as though he were greeting Yoongi like an old friend, “Well that sucks, it really does, doesn’t it?”
“It’s a shame,” Said Jungkook, who then hit Taehyung as though he were a dirty piece of trash, no different from the garbage beneath his shoes. Taehyung's head reeled in the direction away from the punch, and stayed limp without purpose for a few moments before it came back to life, spitting blood. His breaths were shallow and strained, like he couldn't bear the burden of living for any longer.
“It is, isn’t it, Kook?” Namjoon said, “I thought I could’ve been done with this tonight, but you tell me I have to wait ?”
Yoongi gulped. Namjoon laughed some more, gun still high in the air as he took a relaxed stroll towards his escapee. He came close, closer than Yoongi liked to admit he’d let anyone like him come, though he was smart enough not to hurt him, lest Taehyung’s neck be slit right then and there.
“You remember me, don’t you, Yoongi?” He said quietly into his ear once he had walked close enough. He now moved behind him, like a shadow, the gun still positioned comfortably in his hand as he spoke, “Remember everything I hate, love, hate more, love more,” He drawled, but then came close, his tone growing sharp as he said, “But remember , I absolutely despise waiting.”
Quickly, Kim Namjoon returned to his position beside Taehyung, who was kneeling on the ground with tears in his eyes. Yoongi hadn’t noticed this before, due to the light, but he now saw the long gash down his cheek, still bleeding; still fresh.
Yoongi stared at it, even when Namjoon began to speak.
All he could think about was his friend. His friend who’d helped him escape, who’d told him not to come, who’d joked with him and given him information despite the risk.
The blood inched down his face, mimicking the clear tears that ran over his cheeks and down to his chin; he was weeping quietly, and couldn’t stop, even when Jungkook hit him and demanded he “shut up and make this easy for himself”. Yoongi’s heart hurt at that moment, it hurt--
Kim Namjoon’s hard hand met Yoongi’s face and sent the boy crashing down into reality. He fell into the side of the alleyway, his arms meeting a brick wall as he attempted to stabilize himself. His stomach felt so horrible, almost as though it were a pot being stirred, and he was the spout of the soup.
“ NO! ” Yelled Taehyung, but a hard slap against his face from Jungkook kept him quiet.
“I thought you learned about listening to me, Yoongi,” Said Namjoon as he pushed Yoongi away from the wall, causing the boy to fall onto the pavement. His callused hands met the many shards of glass that were scattered upon the ground, slicing deep into the soft skin and earning him multiple cuts. He sucked in a hard breath, more cuts erupting from his attempts to get back up. It took three tries before he was able to get back onto his feet. “Seems as though those lessons didn’t teach you enough.”
Jungkook let out a laugh as Namjoon spoke, even earning a fit when he saw Yoongi’s face as Namjoon’s gun rose once more to meet the eye level of Yoongi. He gulped, eyes becoming glassy, a mixture of pain and helplessness for Taehyung’s sake, who did his best to stay quiet now.
“Three days,” Kim Namjoon said in a low, threatening tone, “You have three fucking days to come back here and give me my shit before I pop Taehyung’s fucking brains,” A small whimper escaped from Taehyung, who was shut up by a kick in the gut from Jungkook’s boot.
“Run!” Taehyung said quickly, his face to the ground, “Don’t lis-” And he was cut off once more by Jungkook.
Though this time Yoongi could not bear to look as Jungkook’s knife slid into Taehyung’s arm, and the man let out a cry that mimicked those of Yoongi’s nightmares.
“Shut up !” Jungkook said annoyingly, stabbing Taehyung’s arm once more. Yoongi opened his mouth, making a move to run to Taehyung, whether he had a weapon or not but then--
Kim Namjoon’s gun was at his own temple, and the man’s stern face had that stupid grin upon it.
“Go,” He said calmly, and when Yoongi didn’t budge, he said it more sternly. “I said, go .”
Yoongi’s eyes watered, but he obeyed. For everything wrong in him, he obeyed. He turned, sprinting out of the alleyway. He sprinted all the way back to his hut, and could not stop the liquid that flowed from his eyes that he’d stopped so many times before.
He also could not stop himself from vomiting into the toilet.
Nor could he stop hearing Jungkook’s laughs and Taehyung’s cries,
And he hated himself for not doing anything.
Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
Not a lick of sleep was granted to the runaway that night, not even when he’d stayed still for fifteen minutes (as a website online had told him to do), nor after the eight alcoholic beverages he’d chugged and hoped would knock him out, but then proceeded to all vomit up into the toilet. He supposed it was fitting, and that he’d end up staying up anyways, building up nervous energy until he eventually overflowed.
He’d glanced around the living room once he had come down from his bedroom, looking for something. He’d wandered over to the kitchen, opened up a drawer, and stared at the knives placed inside. Under the harsh yellow light coming from one of his many hanging light bulbs, they all glinted in such a pretty way. His hands had moved on their own as they’d grasped the sharpest one, then moved the blade towards his own jugular in the same way that Jungkook had done to Taehyung.
A single tear had traveled down Yoongi’s cheek as he mouthed the words, ‘finally’, and had pressed it deeper into his neck. His wrongs, his mal-actions, his tainted past, they would all end there, he thought. Everything he wanted to say or do or be would vanish, but with that, so would his nightmares, regrets, and demons. He had smiled to the sky, and had let out a breath.
It took a weak trickle of blood to get him to come back to his senses.
He had jerked and dropped the knife, staring at the slightly bloodied thing as it had crashed with the ground, clanging and spotting a single drop of blood onto the beige wood. He had stared at it, eyes welling up with more tears as he’d kicked the thing under a counter and crumpled onto himself, curling into a ball and holding his head in his hands. He had wept in the corner of the small kitchen, cursing himself for ever being what he’d become, for ever letting himself come to this point.
It took him half of an hour to collect himself once more, and continue.
In his self pity after his session of sobs, he’d at least managed to place a bandage on his tiny cut, which had stung like a paper-cut, and blown his nose. At least now, he thought, he didn’t look like a child.
He had taken to his violin thereafter, deeming it the only thing to calm him down.
Yoongi had been wrong.
The nervous energy coupled with the great waves of emotions from his beloved instrument overwhelmed him. Instead of being lost in his music and treating everything with a gentle touch of a father, he’d played his violin so viciously that all of the strings had broken. He’d grit his teeth and shoved his bow deeper into each string until the satisfying pop of their fraying had satisfied him.
More emotions crashed with his frail soul, anger and despair and exhaustion crashing together and exploding like a failed chemical experiment. He’d thrown his violin, the crack in the side causing the whole of the polished wood to shatter and scatter like broken glass. He had stared at the mess, breathing heavily as more tears had streamed down his cheeks. He’d shoved his hands into his face, pulled strands of his hair out as stress got the better of him, then had forced his fist against a wall until marks had marred the white surface. He’d only stopped when the stinging of his split knuckles had screamed at him to stop.
In his rage, he’d even contemplated smashing Kim Namjoon’s golden stopwatch before realizing it was the only thing keeping Taehyung from death. He’d stared at the shiny, slightly dirtied surface, and had cursed himself, weeping more and more until it seemed he’d run out of tears.
Another rage took him over, and he’d used his left hand to knock three more holes into a different wall before soft, un-calloused hands had wrapped around his fist, stopping him from doing anymore damage. Yoongi turned his head, tears still pouring out of his eyes and face contorted into a deep despair, and saw Jimin with concern plaguing his own features.
“What are you doing?” Jimin had whispered before wrapping his arms around Yoongi’s head and pressing him into an embrace. Yoongi then began crying into Jimin’s shirt, letting out deep sobs that had no sounds, showing how deeply it hurt to be alive at that moment. Jimin’s arms only tightened around him in a reassuring manner that Yoongi had never felt before. He felt small and frail, like he was reliving what his childhood should have been like through each gasp. One gasp was for his mother, and her lack of care; another for his father, and his lack of awareness.
Seokjin, who had entered after Jimin, was thoroughly surprised at the scene. He pushed his hands into his jacket pockets, closed the door, and leaned against the wall near the door. He avoided directly looking at Yoongi and Jimin, choosing to face away from the two embracing. Seokjin didn’t suppose Jimin would understand his pain, nor did he ever intend on telling him. Suddenly, he noticed shards of splintered wood, followed the trail with his eyes, and saw the utter destruction that Yoongi had caused to the shack.
Deep holes in the walls, his expensive violin (which Jimin had paid for himself) had been smashed, the strings all broken and left without care in a way that made Seokjin sick. The instrument, such a beautiful object, mutilated and left with its intestines out for all to see. He shook his head, glancing away from all scenes and choosing to stare at the ground. It was a moment before he thought of humour to lighten up the scene.
Jimin glanced over to Seokjin, who was glancing between them and the ground with an odd hardness in his eyes. A faint smile played upon his lips, which was oddly placed as well, almost a bit fake. It seemed as though something was bothering him, though Jimin couldn’t think much on it through caring for Yoongi, who continued to sob.
“Did you see a really big spider or something?” Jin asked jokingly, though it was dry and unmotivated, only to hear no laughs from the others. He blinked, the reaction expected. Jimin shook his head and smiled to him, only to reassure him there were no hard feelings before he spoke.
“I’ll catch up with you later, Seokjin,” Jimin said quietly, to which Seokjin blinked some more and nodded.
“ . . . Sure.” He said quietly, opened the door for just a moment not to let in too much frigid air, and closed the door, taking care not to make too much noise with his exit.
Jimin and Yoongi were alone now, which allowed Yoongi to cry even harder into Jimin’s shirt; by this point, it was as damp as it would be in a downpour. Jimin stroked the boy’s back, the other arm still wrapped around his head, soothing and calming him down. He navigated Yoongi over to a couch and allowed the boy to cry more into his chest, not caring about anything but his comfort.
Jimin’s soft hands wrapped around an even softer blanket and drew it upon them, allowing Yoongi to have the most of the fabric even though Jimin’s single shirt was quite thin. Yoongi’s body slowly warmed up, but not in the way that rage heated you to the core, but the way a hot chocolate gently caressed your heart until your temperature rises in a calm way. That way they stayed, with Jimin drawing soothing circles into Yoongi’s hair, neck and back until the runaway had eventually fallen asleep.
The first time in a long time, really, that Yoongi had fell into a slumber without the help of sleeping pills, spirits or a fist to the temple. He slept against the chest of Jimin, back rising and falling slowly to indicate a sound sleep that the heir smiled against. He pressed his face into Yoongi’s hair and soon fell asleep himself. It was around 3 o’clock in the morning by the time that both of them had succumbed to exhaustion.
Jimin never asked for a reason as to why he’d lashed out so suddenly, nor as to why he’d cried so hard into his shirt, and for that, Yoongi seemed to realize how much he might be willing to try with him.
Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty
Yoongi woke up in a cold sweat, a memory-dream sticking to the insides of his eyes with super-glue strength; every time he would close his eyes, he could see the face of Taehyung, and in every blink, that loving face switching from brotherly love to a brotherly agony. In his ears, the ringing of his last ‘I love you’ crashing with that of his desperate plea for him to flee. He shoved his face into his hands, begging the torture to end.
What would he do? What would he do? What would he do?
His heart ached. His heart ached. His heart ached so badly that he wanted to rip it from him, even going as far as digging his nails into the sweaty fabric of his shirt and leaving marks on the other side. He breathed heavily.
Taehyung. Taehyung. Taehyung.
I’m sorry, Taehyung. I’m so fucking sorry.
This would be his first day out of three.
First, of three .
Oh no, please no, this can’t be-
A calm, steady, soft hand lightly touched his dampened back, soothing him back into a state where he wasn’t about to hyperventilate. He took his face out of his hands and glanced back to the owner of the hand, Jimin, who was smiling. He looked so much like Taehyung when he used to have nightmares; it made him sadder.
“Come, Yoongi,” Jimin said quietly, and opened up his arms. Morning light was streaming in now, and Yoongi’s head pounded with exhaustion. He’d only gotten about five hours of sleep before waking up. He slowly nestled himself into the crook of Jimin’s arm, where a heat unlike his dream-sweat took over him, cradling him like a baby into a state of relaxation. His mind continued to race, but his body accepted this foreign warmth and calmed itself.
“I’m sorry, Jimin,” Yoongi said quietly, more to himself, “It hurts.”
“Can I ask what hurts?” Jimin asked tentatively. Yoongi paused.
“No, Jimin,” Yoongi said, his eyes shuttering closed to stop himself from looking at Jimin’s tender smile and being immediately reminded of Taehyung’s. “You can’t.”
The first day was spent just like that. Jimin had been slumbering in his room since the morning, and Yoongi hadn’t complained to his overwhelming warmth, even leaning into it for more support sometimes. He hated himself for doing thing-- for wanting to be held and comforted when he should be doing everything to help Taehyung.
But what could he do, truly, when Kim Namjoon owned the city? The police that were greedy enough to take his money always obeyed him and turned multiple blind eyes to his crimes, and those who stuck true to their duties were always too afraid that their families would be murdered if they were to confess to a higher power. Yoongi couldn’t ask anyone, it seemed, so he needed to rely on himself and his shitty ways of fixing horrible situations.
A few times during the day, Jimin had brushed away Yoongi’s oncoming tears and told him that everything would be alright. Yoongi didn’t tell Jimin about the police, or of Kim Namjoon, for he suspected the boy already knew the nitty gritty of his background. Telling him of Kim Taehyung would not only make him feel naked (as he would be without his secrets) but also make him hurt more.
“I’ll make you some tea,” Jimin had said when the clock had struck three o’clock in the afternoon. He’d gone over to the kitchen, still wearing clothes from the day before, and pulled out so many machines that Yoongi had lost count of what he needed to make a mere cup of steamed herbs. “What kind do you like?”
Yoongi thought upon that. He’d only had tea a few times, mainly before he’d been kicked out of his house at the age of twelve. He’d tasted grey earl, and thought it had tasted too bland; he’d tried green as well, but it had been a bit too bitter for his liking. His brain wandered, going over to his memories where the japanese sushi box resided. The corners of his mouth curved upwards slightly, though Jimin noticed that they boy’s eyes remained dank and dark.
“Jasmine. I’ll take jasmine,” Yoongi had said softly. Jimin had nodded, shuffling around a moment more and then plopping a tea bag into the cup of water and waiting five minutes for it to simmer before throwing that same tea bag out. Then handing the hot cup over to Yoongi, he enjoyed its heat so much that he’d almost fallen asleep while holding it.
“Here,” Jimin had said hastily, wiping the drops of hot tea that had poured onto Yoongi in his haste with a paper towel. He’d gently taken away the tea and held it himself, “Let me hold it,” He’d said, “Your hands probably aren’t used to carrying hot drinks, I’m sure.”
“Or I’m insanely tired.”
Jimin had chuckled, “That, too. Try and get some sleep, for me, at least.”
Yoongi had shaken his head, “I should be doing something right now, Jimin.”
“Do it in dreamland.”
“No, I’m serious--”
“A sleepy soldier is never a good one.”
Yoongi groaned, turning onto his side on the couch and wrapping a grey blanket around his body. “You’re stubborn, Park Jimin. You’re as stubborn as a donkey.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t swear for the donkey part. ”
“And as annoying as an ass.”
“Still better than Seokjin, who says I must be related to a chihuahua with rabies.”
“I’m starting to think Seokjin was raised by pigs.”
Jimin let out a high laugh, and then laughed more about his memories of Seokjin and what he would call him. He couldn’t talk, and he placed down the tea. He told Yoongi of all the things Seokjin would call him, and there were so many that Yoongi actually fell asleep.
When the night came, Yoongi had a nightmare. This nightmare had been deep and sorrowful, as though he didn’t need any more depressing omens in his life. It had been war-themed, with a little soldier boy lying down face down into a puddle of mud, a stab wound scarring the soft skin on the back and allowing blood to pour out all over. The surrounding liquid was a brown-red, slowly mixing together as rain pelleted the terrain. Surrounding troops were screaming at each other, one man even accidentally stepping over the boy, feeling how squishy the ground under him was, then falling over and yelling in horror, only to crawl away and be shot because of his seconds of inability to fight.
Dream-Yoongi looked around wildly, terror everywhere. He didn’t know what to do other than to keep his mouth shut, as the lucidity of the nightmare was very high. A gunshot whizzed past him and he fell to the ground, only to look up and come face to face with the bobbing boy, a grin then upon his muddy lips. The face morphed into multiple, first Tae’s, then Kim Namjoon’s, then finally Jimin’s as they all stared at him with eyes all filled with admiration and love.
That was when he screamed himself and back away, begging for them to stop looking at him in that way. The way in which everyone who loved him seemed to get bitten. He raised his hands as the stabbed boy lumbered towards him. Suddenly his surroundings vanished, and it was just him and the shapeshifter in a white room. He screamed louder, begging it to go away as it began to shake and throw him around like a ragdoll--
Yoongi opened his eyes, morning light filling the room as Jimin shook him awake. He immediately became aware to the sweat that stuck his hair to his forehead, as well as the dampness in every part of his body. The piano player’s confused face met his, and Yoongi looked away, unable to lock eyes with the same person he’d seen in his freakish dream.
“Yoongi! What happened?!” He asked quickly while shoving a cup of jasmine tea into his hands. He had a cold, damp towel in his own hands, which he used to cool Yoongi’s forehead. He must’ve thought Yoongi was suffering from a cold instead of a case of the nightmares. “Is everything alright? Are you sick? Do we have to call a doctor?”
Yoongi shook his head, taking a sip from his warm tea. The concoction slid down his throat and soothed it so nicely that he almost shivered from the sensation. He blew into the cup, cooling it down a bit before taking another sip that served him even more pleasure. “Don’t call a doctor,” He said raspily, “They’ll know who I am from records.”
Jimin’s face blanked, then he nodded. “Yes . . . right. Sorry. I didn’t think of . . . that.”
Yeah, his past . He didn’t want Jimin thinking about it either. He shook his head with a bit of a chuckle to ease Jimin’s tense stress, then said, “I’m fine. I just had a . . . strange dream.”
“Would it help to tell me?” Jimin asked hesitantly and quietly, to which Yoongi shook his head more quickly. No, it wouldn’t. Discussing to someone as gentle as him of how he’d just had a war dream concerning the three largest influences of his life was not what would soothe him.
“It wouldn’t, no,” He said into his tea as he took a sip. He placed the tea onto the table and relieved himself of his grey blankets that had curled around him like vines, and glanced down at his shirt.
Every part of it was moist, from the arms to the chest to the back, it was completely drenched in sweat. Yoongi made a face of disgust, which Jimin chuckled at.
“You should probably take a shower, don’t you think?” Jimin said quietly.
“I don’t think, I know I have to take one,” He said with a disdain.
He took his body out of the living room and roamed to his own room, where he quickly became undressed and walked into the walk-in shower. The water hit his body, at first cold (which he jolted away from), then a soothing warmth as he began to wash himself. The sweat, along with the horror of his nightmare, fell off of him and spiraled down into the drain, where it disappeared from his immediate thoughts.
He pressed his head into the wall behind him, allowing the warming water to hit his exposed throat. He gulped, adam's-apple bobbing as the steam began to build up in the small area. He eventually got to relaxingly cleaning his hair, but only after he’d gotten comfortable enough to move from his position of cleansing.
It had been about forty-five minutes before he’d left the shower, dressed, and found his golden stopwatch, which he’d kept in his room for Taehyung’s visit.
He held the object in his hands, gently as he ever could. The watch glinted once more for him, but in the morning lights instead of evening lights. It almost seemed to be wanting to tell him something every time it would shine into his eyes and give him a different colour of yellow-white. Namjoon had demanded for this, and he hadn’t had it. He could’ve ended it there.
Yoongi balled his hand into a fist, breathing slightly worse than before. He coughed, steadied himself, and let out a puff of air.
“You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you?” He said quietly to the watch. Thank goodness he was alone, for anyone would think a boy talking to his watch would mean he was near insanity. “Just like your past owner in that damn chess match. You’re rich in information, aren’t you.” He stared at it for a moment, hatred piercing it with the burning of a thousand aching hearts, until he stopped. He sighed, slowly placing the metal around his neck, the familiar weight regaining it’s spot and a tension in his body somewhere relaxing. He gazed at his reflection in a mirror, and hated what he saw. A boy, dressed finely in something he'd vowed to never wear again, with a golden watch that should've been relinquished some time ago.
In the distance, the door to his shack opened, and he saw it fit time for him to go. He traveled out of his room and down the stairs, where a wary Kim Seokjin and a Park Jimin both talked to each other. They paid no mind to him until he cleared his throat and then both darted their gazes over to him.
Seokjin was dressed in a big black parka that went down to his knees, which Jimin then offered to take. He declined, though, and said that this visit wouldn’t take long. He had a mask on as well for the cold that usually only went up to the nose that currently sat under his chin, making his jawline sharper than usual. Amusement glinted in his eyes when he saw the dampened hair of Yoongi and freshly dressed clothes. In his hands he held an obviously expensive violin case.
The boy bounded over towards Yoongi, which he did not move at all.
“It’s chilly,” Seokjin said quietly, though without malintent. “You should dress well next time you go out.”
Yoongi’s brow furrowed as Jimin suddenly led him over to the seating area. They all sat down, like friends, although it was evident that Seokjin had seen more than Yoongi would’ve liked. Nevertheless, the boy acted as though nothing had happened, and as though words hadn’t been said.
“Seokjin wanted to give you his violin,” Jimin started, “He said he’d let you use his while he goes to get your’s fixed. How does that sound?” Yoongi blinked. Truly?
“Are you sure?” Yoongi asked to Seokjin, who shrugged.
“The Legend’s Duet isn’t just something to push over. Every second of practice counts, and since your violin is basically dead, you might as well use mine,” Seokjin said, to which Yoongi blinked.
“I, hm,” Yoongi stared at the violin case that he continued to hold, “Thank you, Seokjin. I’m . . . grateful.”
“Yeah, yeah, just don’t throw a hissy fit and break this one too, clear?” Seokjin said nonchalantly, handing over the violin case which Yoongi quickly opened up.
Inside, there was a violin (as expected) that looked to be brand new. There were a few scuffs on one side, as well as a single string that looked slightly newer than the rest, but other than that, nothing was wrong with it. The wood felt smooth under his touch, like soft caramel, and it’s colour was wonderful as well, exactly like the violin he’d smashed the other day. He cringed at the thought, hating himself for abusing an instrument like so.
“I won’t, don’t worry,” He said with a small smile. Play it well with Seokjin while he was here, and he’s supposed to be fine. “Thank you, once more.”
“Jimin, you caught a broken record instead of a protegee,” He said and then pouted, “Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. I get it. I’ll just grab the broken one and go now. You guys should practice,” Jimin let out a laugh, but then Seokjin dropped the smile that had formed upon his lips, “Seriously, the duet is important.”
“We know, Jin,” Jimin said, “ You’re starting to sound like a broken record.”
“Ha-ha, reuse my jokes, why don’t you,” Seokjin said as he grabbed a different violin case, one with a red velvet covering, and then took towards the door. Yoongi got up from his seat and went to wish him well.
Seokjin turned around, and Yoongi held out his hand.
Seokjin glanced at it, then hesitantly shook it with his own free hand. Yoongi leaned in quietly and said, “If something were to happen to me, I know you’d keep him safe.”
“Without missing a beat,” He said with a bit of a glare. “Don’t you dare bring him into whatever shitshow you’re playing with. I swear on it, I’ll murder you.”
Yoongi smiled slightly at that. As Jimin was watching, so Seokjin leaned in to give a one-handed hug, which Yoongi returned. For the split-second they embraced, they whispered threats into each other’s ears.
“I’ll shit on your pillow,” Seokjin said, “I hope you get chronic pink eye.”
“I’ll break every pipe in this place so that you can’t bathe in money anymore,” Yoongi returned.
“I’d stab you without a second thought,” He said as they pulled away.
“Fuck you,” Yoongi whispered.
“And you as well, Madame Fuckingasshole,” Seokjin bowed dramatically as he left.
Yoongi snorted, “You can’t even be serious when giving threats; typical.”
“Oh, typical , I’ll show you typic- ” But the door closed on his words before he could finish.
Jimin was sitting on the couch with his knees to his chest, sipping his juice, “You guys seem like you’re on good terms,” he said with a small smile.
“Oh, the best ,” Yoongi said sarcastically. Jimin shot him a confused look, which he ignored. So he’d finally seen Seokjin’s name-calling in action.
Second in line compared to Jungkook’s when they were fifteen, but he couldn’t really explain what ‘cockroach-eating-manifesto-looking-bug-in-a-pampered-suit’ meant to someone who used such basic names as ‘Madame Fuckingasshole’. He snorted at the memory, the joy quickly snuffing out as his minor happiness fell away from him, his reminders of the current situation coming back to him. He let out a sigh.
“We should get to playing,” Jimin said quietly as he placed down his own tea, and got up from the couch. “Is that okay?”
Yoongi nodded, “Better than okay. I’ve been meaning to get back to playing.”
“You . . . stopped?”
“Not playing for two days has never really happened before,” He said quietly as he took Seokjin’s violin out of the case, taking the bow as well and walking over to where the golden music stands and the pure-white piano were. Jimin took a seat on the plus stool before the large instrument and placed his hands onto it, music sheets already in their designated places. “It feels like I lost a part of me, or that I got out of touch with myself.”
“Hah, yeah,” Jimin nodded, “I’ve gotten that before.”
Yoongi placed his violin against his neck, allowing the neck rest to fit snugly in its usual place. This rest, unlike most, was moulded a bit differently; it allowed more comfort and visibility of the violin and it’s strings. Typical rich boy attitude, to get something custom just for themselves. He sighed into the black plastic and positioned his bow onto the strings, waiting for Jimin.
“Start a page four?” He asked quietly, his eyes already half-closed, preparing himself for what was playing .
“One. Let’s start at one,” Jimin responded as he flipped through the multiple sheets of music notes to get to the first. Once he found it, after about a minute, he sat up straight and raised his fingers to the multiple white keys, and played .
Once more, there was the large conjunction of notes that was Jimin’s small solo piece at the beginning, which flowed in and out of Yoongi’s ears, and then his own solo, which went hard and fast and evoked the right emotions in him. His anger, his sorrows, they all poured into what he knew would be his time on stage. His fingers, a bit unused to the fast movements after two days of not playing, fumbled a bit, but he made sure that they never hit the wrong note.
With his eyes closed, he saw colours upon his eyelids that made music even more exciting to go along with. He tapped his foot in a metronome-like rhythm, and melted into the tune. He imagined playing this piece, what he could argue was the best thing to happen to a duet that he’d ever heard, when his imagination and ecstasy came crashing down around him, falling out of his vision like shards of consciousness. He slowly opened his eyes to find Jimin looking at him nervously.
“What did you mean when you said if something were to happen to you, that Seokjin should protect me?” Jimin asked quietly, his hands still on the wrong key that he’d pressed, the sound from the note still lingering through the room. Yoongi slowly put down his violin.
“So you heard? Were we not quiet enough . . . ?” Yoongi asked.
“Yes, I did. No, you weren’t, not in the slightest,” Jimin said, then hesitated and added, “Well, you were, but . . . it’s a small space, there’s no way I couldn’t have heard. But! Nevermind that, what did you mean? ”
“Jimin, you won’t tell anyone?” He said quietly, and Jimin tensed, nodding.
“You know me, you can trust me.”
“I don’t, but I hope I can.”
Jimin gulped, but Yoongi continued.
“Are you sure you don’t want to just--”
“I want . . . to know, Yoongi. If you’re willing to try, then try.”
Yoongi nodded, “Jimin, tomorrow night, you cannot leave the house or follow me by any circumstances. You cannot ask where I am, and if I do not come back, then you do the duet with Jin. You forget about me, and for the authorities sake, if they come, you act as though I’d been hiding out in this house without you knowing. Is that clear?”
“I can’t just forget about you. Where are you--”
“Yoongi! Please, I’m worried for you, so please just let me know this one thing. If I can’t know where you’ve been going, or what you’ve been screaming in your sleep about, then at least let me know where you are.”
“Jimin, I am not going to let you be hurt because of my stupid past actions . Is that clear.”
Jimin didn’t respond, so Yoongi took this as a chance to continue.
“There’s something I have to do and if I do not come back, and you get hurt, I . . .” He trailed off, gulping himself as he forced himself to continue. “I have not known you for long, Jimin, but you’re not like others. If something happened, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, so please . Take my word for it . . .”
Jimin’s eyes widened as he nodded and turned back to the piano.
“Let’s . . . continue,” Yoongi said quietly as he began from his solo instead of Jimin’s.
Chapter 21: Chapter Twenty-One
Eleven Years Ago
The steady pitter-patter of rain pouring against the windows of his family’s trailer was always annoying at best, if he had to admit it. The humidity that infected the interior made the cheap furniture stink for days, and the fluffy carpet was always sticky for more than a week after every downpour. Not to mention all of his children’s books always rotted once they survived more than four rain sessions, and he hated it because he knew his mother couldn’t afford to buy him any more.
Next to the window where the boy was watching the rain was the kitchen; a brown mess that was rarely cleaned save for the times his mother would take time out of her busy multi-jobbed day to tidy up. Syringes filled with yellow or clear liquids and powders of various colours, but mostly white and arranged into thin lines, littered the top of their once-pure cooking counter. Elastic bands and ropes also lay around the food area, very different from the chemistry-like ingredients surrounding them.
No food was really in the kitchen apart from three brown, rotting bananas, other mushy fruits, and multiple cheap boxes of cereal, most of which had been bought one day from expiration and had yet to be eaten. In every cupboard there were either narcotics or rotten items, neither of which a young boy could eat and sustain himself upon. His mother usually brought him food from one of her three workplaces anyways.
A television was playing in the trailer’s sad excuse for a living room, showing an episode of a certain father’s favourite tv show. The volume was turned up close to full so that the man on the couch could listen to the words, and he paid no mind to his child, whose ears were hurting from the loud explosions that would erupt from the dirty screen every now and again.
“Turn it down, dad . . .?” Suggested the boy, who had come close enough so that his father could hear him, even when the man had finally turned the volume up to the highest it could be so that he could drown out the pleas of his son. “It’s hurting my ears . . .”
The father’s red, veiny eyes turned to the boy, and narrowed. Bits of food were crusted at the corners of his mouth and flecks of white powder still stuck to his nose from when he’d snorted some of the kitchen powders earlier that day. It was currently seven o’clock in the evening, and the boy’s mother had yet to come return home. Nevertheless, his father gave him a glare of agitation, pushing him off of the smelly couch where he sat. “Fuck off, Namjoon. I don’t need this right now . . .”
“Mom would turn it down,” The little boy named Namjoon, scrawny and underfed for his age with dead brown eyes and straw-like brown hair, said. When his father didn’t respond to what he’d said, the man twitchily watching the tv, he repeated what he’d said.
“Alright! Alright!” The father said, pushing small Namjoon away, where he stumbled back from the force of his father’s hand, “Get off my ass! Fuck. Go bother some other little shit like you, okay? I said I don’t need this right now .” He wiped his nose, looked at the white powder upon it, and wiped it against his leg.
Suddenly, the door to the small trailer opened and a too-thin woman with tired eyes walked into the living space, slightly soaked from the rain. As she was unable to afford a parasol, she could never do much against downpours; another reason why the little boy disliked the rain so much. He ran towards her anyways, and hugged her around the waist, where he’d grown to be lately.
His mother’s golden stopwatch hung around her neck, moist as ever. It was slightly rusted, but easily his favourite piece of jewelry that she owned. His father pestered her multiple times a day to sell it, but it was the one thing she refused to give him.
“Finally,” Said Namjoon’s father from the living room, the television still blasting. He was practically yelling over the noise, which he could have easily turned down. “Why’d you take so long to come home? I know you finish at six.”
“You know why I came home late,” She said quietly, taking off her jacket and hanging it onto a chair where his father’s ripped leather jacket was. Under his father’s jacket was his own, which was a bright blue, red and yellow piece of fabric that was a bit too thin for the spring weather, but was the best they could afford at the moment. He’d gotten the slightly beaten thing for his birthday two years ago, and it was still oversized; his mother had opted for getting an extremely large one so that she could pay once instead of three times. “Why, what did you need me for?”
“Food,” He said grumpily, scratching his stomach, “I’m hungry.”
“Just eat your drugs. I see you have plenty here,” Namjoon’s mother said, eyeing the multiple powders on the counter that hadn’t been as numerous as before she’d left. Her eyes widened as she counted the number of substances, brows furrowing and the bruise under her jawline only showing when her mouth made an ‘o’ shape and elongated. “Don’t tell me you spent this week’s money on cocaine.”
“ . . . I did.”
“You piece of shit . . .” She mumbled to herself. Namjoon saw his father stiffen. “That was for Namjoon, not your happy place,” She placed a hand onto the kitchen table and wiped a load off, the dust sprinkling onto the ground. "Fucking druggie."
“ Don’t call me names, you know what happens when you call me stupid names,” It was his mother’s time to stiffen as she balled her hands into fists and sighed. Her brown hair was thin and soft, unlike the straw-like kind of Namjoon’s. The boy sat upon the counter, innocent eyes glancing at his mother as his stomach growled lightly. “You’re ballsy tonight.”
“It’s alright, Joonie,” She said softly while pulling out a small plastic wrapped sandwich and putting it into her son’s hand. He smiled largely and began unwrapping it; he only managed to take one bite before his father lumbered over, snatched the food from out of his hands and threw it to the ground. His mother screamed his father’s name, pushing him back as she took the sandwich back into her dainty hands and gave it to Namjoon. “Stop it! What do you think you’re doing?!”
“Oh, that’s it,” Namjoon’s father said as he rebounded from the cupboard and grabbed his mother’s wrist, twisting it so that she’d be forced to have her back to him and be pressed against his chest. His mother let out a cry as his father placed a hand upon her mouth, stopping her from screaming out in pain as he twisted farther.
“Stop!” Namjoon cried out, running over as quickly as he could to push his father. Though, it did nothing, as his father simply used his foot to kick his own son over, where he fell against a cupboard and hit his head. He blinked, pain rushing in as shocked tears flew to his eyes; an immediate bump began to form on the back of his head. He rubbed it, and wiped the moisture away from his eyelids, glaring at his father.
His eyes then slipped to his mother, who shook her head gently.
Defeat . . . she was accepting defeat.
Namjoon’s father grunted and threw his mother onto the ground, where she bumped her chin on a near chair. She fell to her hands and knees, a bit of blood already dribbling away from the small scuff that now marred her skin. She hissed; the wound had hit one of her previous bruises, less noticeable due to the yellow tone that it had turned. She breathed heavily, eyes watering from the pain as she glared up at her husband, who was twitchily walking back to the couch.
“Namjoon,” His father said, turning up the volume to the television once more, the explosions from the show coming back into full blast. His father had to yell once more to communicate. “Bed. Now!”
Namjoon glanced to his mother, who he hesitantly walked towards. He was stopped by his father’s yell.
“We don’t help whores , Namjoon. We men don’t help women who can’t even bring food for the real men , okay? We don’t help bitches who serve idiots like you first instead of their husbands, alright?” He said, aiming every word at his mother instead of at his son, who was wearily watching now. His father noticed he hadn’t gone yet, “Was I not clear?”
The boy gulped and nodded, saying goodbye to his mom and not his father, and walking just a few steps over to his very small bedroom (a cot and a bin for books, not even a nightlight incase he grew scared of the darkness), where he sat down onto his bed and closed his door, making it a loud shutting so that his father could hear.
In the black of his room, he weeped into his hands, thinking of his mother. Why was his father like this? So heartless, so uncaring, so mean . Thick tears ran down his cheeks, heavier than the initial tears of when he’d hit his head, that throbbing pain making room for the agony of his heart. His mother, her bruises, her shriek when she’d seen her hard-earned sandwich thrown to the ground by someone who smelt of urine. He didn’t deserve her--
Out of nowhere, a bottle smashed against a counter and the sound of shards of glass falling to the ground could be heard, even over the obnoxiously loud television show. He heard his father’s voice faintly, then his mother’s shriek. He stiffened.
This happened every night, or almost every night. He would be sent to his room and his mother would be beat, hit, knocked into every corner of the room and stepped on until tracks marked her body like a road, and then his father would go check if he was sleeping and then go to bed himself. If Namjoon happened to be awake, his father would hit him as well; if he was asleep, he’d leave him alone.
But almost always his father would snort something just to have a reason to wake Namjoon and beat him anyways while his mother was ‘asleep’ in the living room. One time, he’d even seen his mother on the couch, eyes shut as his father told him that she was just watching T.V. A split lip had had blood dribbling down to her chin just then, and she looked more dead than sleeping.
A crash came from the other room and his mother let out a screech. His father’s voice was louder now, and the boy went as taught as a tight string. He breathed heavily, ears ringing as he thought of what was happening. In and out, his breath felt like hot ice in his throat while it traveled, and his palms began to sweat. What was happening?
Suddenly, there was the sound of the television crashing and the loud explosions going blank. Then, only then could Namjoon hear the sound of his father’s voice clearly when he said, ‘ you’re dead, whore ,’ and then footsteps as his mother ran, and heavier footfalls as his father chased her. Their trailer was small, very small, and as Namjoon’s eyes watered more. He feared he was going to suffocate in here.
Then, his mother let out another scream, then there was a thud as something fell to the ground, then more heavy thuds as he presumed his father was doing something more. It had gone awfully quiet, and as Namjoon bit his lip, breathing going shallow, he grew more and more nervous. M-mom? He wanted to call out and say, but knew he could not. Instead, he took a breath and wiped away the tears he’d forgotten to wipe away, and paused, staring at his entrance.
He pressed his hand against the door, and quietly pressed it open, view obstructed by the patchy tears that kept building up in his eyes and streaming down his cheeks and onto his shirt. He slowly made his way to the living room, then to the kitchen, where at the end of the kitchen, he saw his father holding his mother on the ground, a broken glass bottle in her abdomen, protruding out like an ugly splinter. His mother’s small hands were pressed around the wound, her nice work-shirt already soaking with blood around the wound; she stared at the bottle with such shocked eyes, practically bulging out of her face as she made small whimpers, strained breaths. His father stood before her, breathing heavily, one hand twitching and the other holding his mother’s beloved golden stopwatch.
“W-what did you do to her?” Namjoon asked quietly as he approached the scene, eyes filling with more tears as he watched his own mother frantically press her wound, trying to staunch the bleeding with her already-bloodied hands. His father slowly turned towards him, a lazy grin on his face.
“I just showed her her place, Namjoon,” He said raspily, intense euphoric happiness written everywhere along his face-- or was that the powder? The drugs. Now he remembered. It was the drugs he took that made him this crazy monster. Was that what all the powder was? He wasn't like this before. He used to have a job and take Namjoon out to play ball and teach him how to play cards, but after the powders . . . He was never the same. “Don’t you see this?” He said, turning back to kick his mother’s head. She jolted, whimpering as she couldn’t get away, the blood and pain laced in her face from his father’s attack shown so obviously that Namjoon’s heart hurt so much, he wanted to get rid of it.
“D-don’t do that, please,” Namjoon said in a weak, wobbly voice, emotions rising up from the depths of his being and attacking his soul, every piece of him trying to grasp what was happening right now, why his mother was on the ground, if his mother would die . Fat, goopy tears came down his face once more. Despite all this, his mother smiled and shook her head.
“Go back . . .” She rasped with agony in her eyes, “Please, Namjoon! It’s all going to be o-okay,” And that smile grew brighter, all pain erased until his father pushed her shoulder, that mask ripping away from her face and coming back in full force, her brows furrowing and mouth opening wide as she had halted breaths and clenched her teeth, the shock slowly ebbing away to reveal sharp jolts from her side whenever she moved in any way.
“No, no! He can stay,” His father said, and when Namjoon glanced at his face, he saw his nose was dusted a white and that his eyes were erratic and bulging, just like his mother’s, though his were popping out in ecstatic energy instead of numbing hurt. He pointed towards Namjoon’s mother’s body and said, kneeling to the ground, “This is what happens when whores speak up to men. I don’t know if I ever told you what a whore was, did I? Well, it's someone who isn't afraid to disobey their masters and suck every little dick in the neighborhood. Isn't that right, Namjoon? Isn't that what she does, Namjoon? Guess what your mother is, Namjoon.” His father’s eyes landed impatiently on Namjoon, who only sniffed in horror as wetness littered his cheeks.
His father smacked his lips and said, “Answer, Namjoon, I’m waiting.”
He looked to his mother who shook her head and mouthed, ‘whore’.
“W-whore,” Namjoon said, voice shaky and breaking from the force it took to utter those syllables, his mind already regretting even accepting his father’s request. He bit his bottom lip and sniffed up the snot that was coming upon his top lip, body beginning to shake from the realization of what was really happening.
Mom, please don’t do this . He wanted to scream that. Dad, stop it. Can’t you see what your doing ? Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.
“Exactly! So when I teach your mother with pain, and she doesn’t learn, that makes her a disobedient . . .” His father paused, staring at him, eyes jolting every which way, unable to stare at Namjoon for more than a second without the narcotics coursing through his veins forcing him to look away.
“W-whore,” Namjoon repeated.
“No! No, it makes her a bitch ! A disobedient bitch!” He licked his lips and grabbed a nearby glass bottle, smashing it upon the counter, where it shattered into pieces, much like the one inside of his mother. A clear liquid flew out, and after a moment, Namjoon identified it as vodka, as the pungent scent in the air was unmistakable. “And disobedient bitches don’t get the luxury of living in a world with men like me.”
That was when Namjoon’s world crashed down around him.
A ringing so loud flooded his ears that he didn’t know what was real or not anymore. His vision spotted with black spots so strong he thought he was going to faint, he teetered so hard he thought he might hit his head and die right then. His body stopped all of it’s functions except for it’s tears as he stared at his father.
As he watched his father raise the clear bottle of vodka into the air and then crash it down onto his mother, who let out a bloodcurdling scream while the second bottle met the soft stomach of her skin and tore through it, spraying spurts of blood everywhere as he raised it once more and did the same thing, the bottle hitting his mother multiple times in the same place, shredding her organs and intestines and leaving nothing to be salvaged. Each yell she let out became weaker and weaker as her life force slowly slipped away from her grasp.
Namjoon covered his mouth as a small pool of blood began collecting around his mother’s loving form, entirely soaking the warm clothes she’d put on for that day in order to survive the rain.
Reality crashed harder this time, but not as hard as his rage, which speared straight into his heart and filled his body with such a vibrant hot that he could not ignore it. His soft tears of disbelief turned into angry tears of frustration and agony as he balled his little hands into fists. Stop , said the thoughts barrelling into his mind. Stop it. Make them all pay .
“ LEAVE HER ALONE!” Namjoon screamed, voice so high and loud that it broke multiple times during the sentence, the rage lacing the letters so strong that even his father stopped. His father stopped and turned to laugh at Namjoon and his weak energy, but was not fast enough to stop the bottle that fell into his own throat.
He failed to notice that he had finally broken something.
He had broken his son.
The bottle he’d smashed in an instant that had been beside the vodka drink was now inside of his father’s neck, and then back out into his hands as he took it away and watched his father’s reaction. He watched the bulging eyes filled with unseeing take him in wholly, watched the twitchy hand as it slowly raised itself to its owner’s jugular, watched as the man he’d called ‘father’’s vision fill with darkness as his own blood sprayed everywhere; watched as he tried to say his son’s name, but couldn’t from the red liquid that was choking him.
It wasn’t enough, though.
Namjoon took the bottle and shoved it into his father’s eye, mutilating it and leaving one part of him sightless; he ripped the bottle out and then shoved it into his own abdomen, pushing his father over and then going in and out and in and out and in and out until he was covered in blood up to his elbows, face covered in the substance he’d thought he’d been dealthy scared of.
His father twitched momentarily, but the more Namjoon shred him into ribbons, the less he attempted to move. The more the blood pooled at Namjoon’s knees, the better he felt about what he was doing; the more he felt his father was being paid back for what he had done to his mother. The more he was okay with what he was doing.
When the glass would get stuck, he would twist it and pull it out, which would on a rare occasion make his father gargle. It happened and happened and happened until his father did not gargle, and his eyes had rolled back into his head, the blood in his mouth slowly dripping down his face and travelling down his uneven beard onto his chin, where it pooled onto his neck wound.
He finally shoved the glass into his father’s stomach, leaving it there. He stepped back, breathing so heavily he wondered if he would indeed drop onto the ground.
He shook his head. He couldn’t do that.
Then, a whisper came from his mother, who was breathing so shallow that he wondered if he’d imagined it. Only when the second whisper came did he know he wasn’t dreaming. He rushed over to her, grabbing the hand which she’d raised towards him and pushing it against his cheeks, wanting to feel her escaping warmth for one more time.
“Mama . . .” Namjoon said weakly, his soft self returning as the tears came back and he referred to his mother as a baby would. He wanted comfort, but as he gazed upon the shredded intestines of his mother, it only killed his heart even more. “I’ll call the police. I’ll get you saved. I can save you! I can, I can . . .”
His mother shook her head, and his brows raised upwards in confusion.
“I just want to help you . . . ?” He said quietly, and his mother smiled sweetly and gently.
“No, baby, don’t . . . don’t do tha . . .” The breath was taken from his mother’s lungs as even the slightest of breaths hurt her frail, malnourished body. “They’ll take you . . . I don’t want that . . .”
“I’d let them take me away for you! I’d let them . . .” Namjoon devolved into sobs, crying out like a newborn as he shoved his mother’s hand into his face, wishing, if only hoping that this was all a dream. Even if he returned to the same father, at least he’d have more time with mom . “Please . . .” He whispered into her hand, crying harder, the noises coming out from his mouth ones he’d been hit by his dad for making.
“Mm-mm, baby, no . . . shh . . .” His mother said gently, a weak hand upon her face while she mustered up the ends of her energy just to speak and caress his face, to tell him that he’d be alright. “Duh . . .” She took a breath, and coughed, which was enough for her to start breathing even more shallowly, “Don’t cry . . .” But that made him weep even more, into her hand or onto the ground, his face contorted and snot dribbled down his nose as he stared at her face, her eyes , so filled with love that he wanted to be rid of his heart from all of the agony it was making him endure.
“W-what am I going to do without you? P-please, don’t leave. Don’t leave me. I need you. I n-need you! Please . . .” Namjoon was a blubbering mess, his sobs becoming quieter and head beginning to throb from all of the extra energy he was exerting from just crying. So much extra energy that he didn’t have.
“Joonie . . .” She rasped, and Namjoon grew closer, nodding his head so rapidly it made her smile just a bit more, and eyes soften and close a bit more than before. She took the hand from her abdomen and pointed towards the golden stopwatch which was in his father’s palm, whispering, “Get it, Joonie . . .”
He did so quickly, keeping his mother’s hand close to his face as he reached out with an arm to grab the golden chain closer to him and bring the family heirloom so close to his heart that he almost hurt himself in the speed of which he did so. “W-what now?” He whispered, and his mother smiled so softly and weakly that Namjoon’s heart was shot in half, falling to each side of his body where he didn’t think he’d ever find them again after today.
“It’s yours . . .” She whispered to him, and his eyes widened, he shook his head.
“It’s yours, mom. No . . . it’s yours!” He refused and refused but as her eyes grew closer and closer to closing completely, his tears came back, harder.
“Over your neck, Juh . . .” She took a deep, deep breath, the bottoms of her lungs deflating audibly with the force it took for her to continue talking to her son. “Joonie . . .” She made out, and Namjoon nodded, shoving it so quickly over his neck that the back of the chain got caught in his hair and tugged. He ignored it, attention shoved all into one place.
“W-what now?” Namjoon said with a hiccup.
“My jah . . .” She paused, eyes going sightless for a moment before Namjoon’s face contorted once more in disbelief and he tugged on her arm. For a moment, she blinked and a familiar warmth returned, her smile fell, though, the energy too much of a strain on her form. “I’m s-sorry . . .” She said slowly, slurring her words, “My jacket-t,” A gasp of air, “Take it and go . . .”
“The black one? The long black one?”
“Ye . . . s,” She whispered out, her eyes once more becoming sightless.
“I-I’m sorry, Mom. I should’ve known. I should’ve known and done something , I should’ve known . . .” He began weeping once more into her hand, shoving it so hard into his cheek that the ends of her nails cut into the soft cartilage of his ear lobe. “I’m so . . sorry . . .” He said as he shook her head so softly and then looked away, she took one final breath and said so quietly, he almost didn’t catch it.
“I love you, Joonie,” and her eyes fell sightless once more, the vision that had once been there gone as though someone had blown on the fire of her candle, and her soul had been released. At first, Namjoon didn’t notice this, and continued saying words to no one, but after she didn’t say anything, not even her forced phrases, he glanced at her.
Her arm went slack. He shook her, said her name so many times and so weakly while his voice broke so many times that he knew he looked pathetic to his father. He finally whispered her name for the hundredth time and when she didn’t even blink, he slammed his fist onto the ground and screamed onto the carpet floor.
“ You took her away from me!” He screamed towards the corpse of his father, his eyes also unseeing, which made him cry even harder. The tears flew down his face as he curled into a ball for five minutes and just wept, staring at the dead bodies of his parents and begging some unknown force to go back .
Let me go back , he screamed in his head, so hard the walls of his mind shook, let me go BACK!
But nothing answered his call, and his mother was right. Someone would come. The police wouldn’t believe a malnourished boy with blood all over him. They’d imprison him and he wouldn’t even have enough money for a lawyer or whoever defended victims in court.
He’d be the murderer in that case.
He hiccuped, getting to his feet so gently so that his knees would not wobble, fixed the golden chain that had stuck to the back of his head and went to get his mother’s black overcoat. As old as it was, it would keep him warm and was large enough to last him a long time.
He stared at it from where it hung in their trailer, collecting dust.
He touched it, felt it, embraced it.
Then the scent hit him, his mother’s scent, and his tears came anew.
His wails were choked as his throat closed up around the emotions flowing through him, so many he hadn’t felt before and so many overpowering his senses to the point that his knees did give up on him, and he fell to the ground, shins banging to the ground as he shoved his hands into his face and weeped once more.
His head throbbed so hard, but he could not stop himself from sitting down and mourning for just a minute before he made his escape and left this place, never to return. He decided he’d visit his mother’s grave when he found out where it was, but that he’d never come back to this cursed trailer park, not anywhere near this area. He decided he’d go to the city, where nobody would recognize him; where none of his mother’s neglectful family would seek him, and where none of his father’s drug junkey’s would think to seek him.
Namjoon placed the black overcoat onto his shoulder, shoving his arms through the sleeves and feeling it upon his body. With a swollen face, he looked upon himself in the cracked bathroom mirror.
The shoulders were too large, the sleeves to long and the length down to his shins.
He shook his head. If his mother had liked it, then he would too.
His eyes then wandered to his golden stopwatch, hanging right over his heart, glinting so tauntingly but weighing so comfortably upon his chest, he knew he’d kill anyone who’d try to take it from him.
He let out a sigh as a single, final tear fell down his face, and he let out a final shuddering breath.
He stepped one foot out of the door to his trailer, then another. Then one step into the outside world, then another and another and another.
He wasn’t a murderer, he said to himself. He hadn’t killed without reason.
And for his mother, he would never kill without reason.
He was not sad anymore. No, not as he stepped onto the city bus and took whatever coins were in his jacket to pay for the bus fare to the city, nor was he angry when he entered the city slums and cried himself to sleep until his whole body became numb of all the emotions he’d been so prone to before.
No, he was not any of those things anymore.
He was now, and forever,
Simply broken beyond repair.
Chapter 22: Chapter Twenty-Two
The Present Day
The night had come. The one that Yoongi had dreaded and had no power to stop; it had come. Faster than he’d expected, though he shouldn’t have wasted days, and as guilt stabbed him through his heart multiple times, he knew he’d made the wrong decision somewhere. He’d listed off every possible thing he could have done to prevent this, yet nothing could stop what Kim Namjoon was, and he hated every fiber of the man’s being for that.
Standing in his room, gazing up at the stars for what he supposed could be his last time in this very room, Yoongi sighed and breathed in the clean-sheet air for one good final time. There were few stars, actually, that Yoongi could see clearly through the darkness of gathering clouds. It looked like it was going to threaten to rain, and for that, little of the full moon could be seen. Limited visibility tonight, the boy supposed.
He had no choice, though, whether to go or not to go. Both was suicide, but at least one ended in galancy instead of a rope around the neck. He clenched and unclenched his fists, exhaustion nipping at the corners of his mind as he prepared himself. He’d already drank a glass of water, not alcohol, and had already eaten at least something, lest he faint on the way there. Finally, he rested his hands beside his body and turned towards the dresser.
Yoongi walked towards the piece of furniture until he stood before it, then opened the drawer in which he’d placed the golden stopwatch and took it out, fingers wrapping around the honey chain in case his nerves got the best of him and he dropped it. His eyes beheld it, and he clenched his teeth, stopping his hands from clenching around the object and throwing it onto the ground, just to anger Namjoon.
No , he told himself, shaking his head lightly, that won’t help anyone , and he slowly placed it around his neck until the familiar weight came again, and that sickening reassurance filled his soul. That stopwatch which he’d had for two years was going to be gone, and even if it wasn’t his, it sure felt like it belonged around his neck instead of Namjoon’s.
With sweaty hands, Yoongi continued his preparation. Namjoon’s long black overcoat was shrugged on along with some of the best shoes he could find tonight, which looked more like army boots and gave him a bit more height. In all, he was dressed head-to-toe in black, save for his light blue dress shirt, which looked sorely out of place. Jimin--
Oh, Jimin , Yoongi thought as the boy broke his thoughts and he clenched his jaw just to stop himself from saying something. At least you’re safe. Please, he begged anything around him, even though he’d never been religious in the slightest, keep him safe for me, if that’s the one thing you can do for me tonight .
That was all the delay he would take, and walked away from the bathroom, only taking one more sip of water from a nearby glass before going towards the window he’d always used for escapes in the past. The hinges, already opened, made no noise as he lifted them up, allowing a cold air to blow into the room. Nothing moved as the wind pushed through and made a slight whine with it’s pressure, but then calmed down and began ventilating the room. Immediately, the clean-sheeted smell was replaced with that of the decaying freshness of autumn. He took one breath, two, then hoisted himself out through the window and onto the yard below.
Knees braced, he landed, then took off into the routine he’d made for himself. Straight for some time through the woods that surrounded the Park mansion then into the slums, where he would go through a labyrinth of buildings just to get to the secretive area of Taehyung’s hideout. He tried not to think about the destination too much, since it always made him feel sick in some way.
Fifteen minutes passed, and he was out of the woods, the sounds and lights of cars becoming apparent as he rushed, the anxiety coursing through his body forcing him to be more energetic. He emerged from the forest, and took to the shadows, making sure he wasn’t seen when he crossed the street and then shimmied in between two buildings to get to the heat of the dumps.
Left, right, left, right, another left, two rights and finally it became clear that he had only two more pathways and he would be there. He walked slowly now, making sure to hold the stopwatch in case it caught light and flashed, alerting anyone who was looking for him. He looked down instead, but only found used syringes and broken beer bottles, some of which were still half-filled with whatever substance they’d been containing. He tried not to step on any of it, even though his boots would be strong enough to protect him.
A final left, and he took it. His breathing grew shallow, his heart began to beat through his chest and as he used techniques he learned long ago, he silently made it into an open alley. Familiar, so familiar were the cracks in the wall and the dried vomit from when he’d come that first time, what seemed to be so long ago now. He paused, listening for anything, and then he heard a cough.
He rushed, adrenaline coming upon him as he turned that corner to his hyung’s tent and found him. His heart swelled but then deflated, doing so multiple times as he breathed with a smile upon his face that changed so rapidly to a frown that his cheeks hurt. Mixed emotions, too powerful within him, that he forgot about what was happening and froze.
Taehyung was there, his brown hair and eyes were darting everywhere until they landed upon him, and their gazes met. Taehyung’s eyes widened, and he shook his head, revealing multiple cuts along his neck and bruises on the parts of his body that were visible and not covered with torn pieces of clothing. Deep wounds with blood crusted around them were apparent, and as he clenched his teeth, nothing to stop him from speaking, Yoongi noticed the two cuts on his lower lip, both bleeding lightly.
“Hyung . . .” Yoongi breathed as he took a step closer, then another. Taehyung writhed writhing his bonds, as he was tied to a wooden chair, rope around his legs, torso and hands.
“ No! ” Taehyung yelled, and Yoongi stopped his movement, body going rigid. “Run, Yoongi, please, run ,” Yoongi’s own eyes grew wide, a hostility and sorrow within Taehyung’s eyes that Yoongi had never seen before; that made Yoongi’s heart crack just a bit more. “It’s a trap, Yoongi, please. Namjoon has changed . He’s not the man he once was. Please, run , I don’t know what he’ll do .”
“I can’t leave you, Tae,” Yoongi said quietly, “I’ll give him what he wants and that’ll be it, right?”
Taehyung’s eyes became glassy, that simple heartwarming tenderness somewhere deep beneath their murky surface.
“No . . . it’s not that simple anymore. I’m begging you, Yoongi,” Taehyung said with clenched teeth. “ Leave .”
Yoongi shook his head, and took another step forward, then another, but was not fast enough to realize that Namjoon wasn’t one for mercy, and that Taehyung was indeed correct, as he always was. Jungkook, from the shadows, ever so silently came upon Yoongi and grabbed the fabric of the overcoat. He pulled the shorter boy to him, and placed a knife to his neck, whispering into his head and grabbing his hair to keep him in place.
Yoongi tried to say something to Taehyung, but could not as the knife tightened around his neck, a trickle of blood coming down to his collarbones as Kim Namjoon came from the shadows as well, a gun in his hand.
Though he looked like a different man, which made Yoongi’s stomach plummet.
The man who’d accepted him as a father, who’d given him his violin while rubbing his head and giving him an embrace was nothing like the man before him. That calm, concentrated look that had always signified that he was a leader was now replaced by this wild and dead look, one that screamed the words ‘ no morals ’. His jaw was set, and his lips were in such a thin line that he looked like a ticking time bomb, only minutes away from exploding. No longer did he appear like a tightly-knit scarf, but instead one that had been poked with so many holes that it looked to be falling apart.
His finger, Yoongi noticed, was already cocked on the gun’s trigger, and as he put the gun towards the temple of Taehyung’s, Yoongi jolted. Namjoon’s head whipped to Jungkook, not Yoongi, who tightened the knife around him even more. Yoongi tipped his head up, teeth clenched, as the stinging pain then became clearer and more striking.
Taehyung did not look up when he spoke, but instead kept his eyes to the ground. “You’ve changed, Joon,” He said in a rasp, using the man’s nickname.
“Have I?” Namjoon asked, in that quizzical way that always gained the attention of followers-- though this time it was more bitter, more loaded with anger and discontent, “Or are you just now seeing what I truly am, and want to get away from it?”
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a slight downpour arose, light drops of rain spitting from the heavens and landing upon the jackets of everyone in the alley. Yoongi blinked, water spilling into his eyes as he breathed heavily through his nose, straining to watch Taehyung.
“I always saw what you were, Big Power. I saw it and I embraced it,” Taehyung said and then looked up. A tear, so much larger than the rain spotting his bloodied face, visible. Both his eyes were welling up with tears now, with the falling water washing away the drops of blood that rested on his cheeks and jawline. Namjoon paused, ever so slightly, and locked gazes with Taehyung, the grip of his gun slackening; it lasted a moment before he hit Taehyung with the muzzle of his pistol, the boy’s head turning with the force and going limp, eyes pointing towards his knees.
“You pushed me away,” Namjoon said, “You stopped accepting what I was when it didn’t suit your clean agenda. All those murders? You liked watching me do them until you started wondering what a rich boy would think of you, didn’t you?”
“I helped you build this shitshow, Namjoon. Open your eyes ,” Taehyung glanced up once more. “When did we stop being brothers, Namjoon? When did I stop helping you with everything? Open your eyes , Namjoon. This . . . this isn’t you .”
“This isn’t me? I’ve always been this way, Taehyung, and you’re just now realising it, aren’t you?”
“I saw you murder people the first time we met, Joon, yet I still followed you.”
“Out of necessity .”
“Because I loved you, Namjoon. You were a god to me back then, so I followed you. I followed you because I knew you’d make my life better!” Desperation laced his voice.
Namjoon paused, gulping as the finger on the trigger began to jiggle, his grip going slack, but then becoming strong once more. “Liar,” Was all he said before he seemed to gain control of himself once more, “You’ve become a liar. Everyone around me is a goddamned liar.”
“Jungkook, help me,” Taehyung said suddenly and lifted his gaze to Jungkook, who gripped his knife tighter at the sudden attention. The bonded boy’s eyes were filled with such need that Jungkook had to look away, gritting his teeth and gaining an angered look, “You’re the one who’s changed, Taehyung. You helped this sack of shit and never looked back. You made your decision long ago, and Namjoon knows it.”
“We don’t have to create a division--”
“We didn’t have to, but you forced us to, Taehyung. One wrong move and we all die. Letting Yoongi go was your wrong move . . .” Jungkook paused, a sudden anger overcoming him, “ Choosing Yoongi was your wrong move.”
Taehyung grit his teeth, knowing exactly what the boy meant. His frail, starved body then began to heave as fat tears began falling down his face and he looked up, the rain falling harder than before. “Namjoon,” Taehyung said weakly as he forced their eyes to meet, even when Namjoon looked away, “Big Power, our brother , don’t do this. Namjoon, I’m begging you, please --”
He was cut off by Namjoon’s angry tone. “Shut up,” He said, though his own hands began to shake, the muzzle moving rapidly and his eyes watering, though the rain did a good job of covering that up, too. “Shut up,” He repeated as Taehyung began blubbering of their past times together, where it was just the two of them. As the gun shook more and more, it seemed as though even Namjoon couldn’t believe what was happening.
“If my hands were free, I’d hold you Namjoon. I’d hold you like nobody else would. If I could just be free--”
“Be quiet. I said be quiet. Be quiet .”
“We could start again. We could all be a family again! We could--”
“Don’t say it.”
“We could be brothers--”
“I said don’t. Don’t say it, Taehyung .”
“You’re my brother, Namjoon. Please, just help me--”
Then the world stopped for just a moment.
Just a moment to allow Yoongi to breathe in the same air as Taehyung. For him to smell the fresh rain as it poured between them both, and for him to realize what was going to happen. For him to realize what was going to forever change.
Three bullets pierced the body of Taehyung, and as his final words were cut off, so did the string of his life, body going limp as his head lolled backwards in the chair he sat upon.
The small, circular wounds that pierced his heart, lung and stomach, all beginning to spurt with blood and cover his shirt. It darkened slowly, a cursed liquid infecting them.
Jungkook’s grip fell limp as Yoongi fell to his hands and knees, hitting the ground with a hard hit, a deafening sound filling his head.
Memories upon memories flashed through his mind. Their first real meal together, the first time he’d gave the boy his new violin, their time together, it all seemed so short. So close that he could almost touch them, but so short that they all vanished before he could return to them.
Yoongi was pertrified on the ground, and as the ringing in his ears slowly fell away, the rushing sound of rain coming back, it seemed the slight downpour had turned into a full storm.
He clutched his hand into a fist.
He tried to speak, but couldn’t. A lump had formed inside his throat. His lips quivered, and he could not dare himself to look upon the body of Taehyung even if he wanted it.
Namjoon said nothing, hands shaking so vigorously that he almost dropped his gun onto the ground. He seemed to not believe what he had just done. His eyes were darting wildly, just as Taehyung’s had when Yoongi had first seen him, and as he gulped, it seemed like Namjoon too had a thousand rocks stuck in his throat.
Jungkook’s eyes had widened as well, though he said nothing.
They all belonged as an imperfect trio, the three shots almost representing them.
The heart, for Yoongi had stolen it.
The lung, for Namjoon had once taken his breath away.
And the stomach, for Jungkook had been the hardest to digest, but the easiest to accept.
“Help him up, Kook,” Namjoon finally said, and Jungkook, after a moment, obeyed.
Yoongi felt hands wrap around his torso as he was hoisted up, his body folding as he reached for the ground, only for his hair to be pulled once more and for his face to be shown again. Rain pelletted his face, and he squinted, trying his best to keep his vision. He grit his teeth, eyes made as bullets and aimed towards Namjoon.
Namjoon, on the other hand, only looked at Taehyung for a second longer, and then fully turned his attention towards Yoongi, clearing his throat as he did so.
“Taehyung had to die,” Were his first words, and Yoongi was immediately thrown into a fit. The boy threw himself against the alley wall, barreling into it as Jungkook struggled to keep him in place. It was a moment before Jungkook had a knife in his hand and was cutting Yoongi’s cheeks when he stopped, breathing heavily as he was held up once more, that same blade being placed against his neck.
Namjoon cleared his throat once more, then said quietly to Jungkook, “Make him look at me.”
Yoongi’s hair was grabbed again and dead eyes stared into those of malice from Namjoon, swirling pools of brown that were indescribably blank, as though so much was happening behind the scenes that simple eyes could not tell the story of his emotions.
“He was a traitor,” Namjoon began, but was cut off by Yoongi.
“You never thought like this before!”
“You made me realize how important discipline was.”
Yoongi laughed, the arms of Jungkook squeezing his own arms behind him, making his shoulder ache. “When . . . ?”
“When you left, Yoongi. He helped you leave, he helped you go. That was when I realized that nothing of substance mattered to him.”
The rain grew ten times its weight as it hit Yoongi, showering his body in throbs. He might as well be the cause of his d-
He could not think of it that way.
“That reminds me, Yoongi,” Namjoon said, a new light igniting his once dry voice, “You deserve something.”
A fist connected with the soft skin of his gut, and Yoongi was sent forward from the force. A striking pain rose from his stomach, throwing his system into disarray. He coughed, gagged, and felt weak, knees failing him twice before he collected himself, sniffling as he breathed heavily, spittle coming down from his lip.
“Does thinking about hurting me stop you from thinking about what you just did?” Yoongi said through gritted teeth, and that earned him another shot to the stomach.
“My shit,” Namjoon said, ignoring Yoongi’s words, “I want my shit.”
“Should I take off his jacket?” Jungkook asked.
“Yeah, take my jacket back.”
Jungkook nodded and threw Yoongi to the wall of the alleyway, where the boy stumbled and leaned against the bricks for support. He looked away from the dead-end of the alley, knowing that what he’d see would send him into an even worse sense of disarray. He instead took this time to stare at his feet and hold his stomach, where he could already feel multiple bruises forming.
Strong hands grabbed the fabric of his black coat, ripping them from him and sending him into spirals. He lost his footing, falling onto the ground where he was kicked from the chest, his body tumbling and landing into a nearby puddle. He blinked, back to the ground as he breathed once, twice, and then felt a weight be ripped from him.
“My watch,” Namjoon said simply, then rose his leg and stomped down onto Yoongi, who took the kick, unable to find the energy to scramble away. Cuts upon his neck and cheek stung as water seeped into them, blood pushing out of the wounds as quickly as it could be washed away. “Jungkook, pick him up,” Namjoon ordered, and the boy obeyed.
Yoongi, now dressed in a thin dress shirt that was steadily being soaked through, stared at the ground as his hands were restrained behind him and he was forced to keep a straight back and stare upon Namjoon, the ultimate criminal.
“All he wanted was to be a family,” Yoongi said through gritted teeth, breaths steadily coming out through his nose as he struggled to collect himself with the paralyzing pain coursing through his body. “He just wanted your love , didn’t he?”
Namjoon ignored this, staring into Yoongi’s eyes and administering more forms of beatings. A fist, a kick, then another fist as the boy was forced to stand up straight, his arms held behind him by Jungkook, and if he were to lean forward, he would break both of his arms. Each hit made Yoongi cough more and more, spittle dribbling down his lip, all mixing with the rain that came down so hard that each of his grunts were concealed by the deafening sounds.
“Your murders won’t be forgotten,” Namjoon said as he wiped a bloodied fist over his forehead, smearing the red all over his skin. Yoongi’s dress shirt was slightly bloodied around the stomach area, skin being cut and ribs being broken as he continued to be beat. “Even if they were done under my . . .” A punch cut him off, the strength of the blow enough to stop Namjoon from speaking, “Name.”
“No . . . shit.”
“And I don’t think I’ll ever . . . forget the look on your mother’s face when I’d told her . . .” Yoongi took the two blows, letting out strangled yelps as the bruised area was hit over and over. His stomach churned and churned as he almost blocked out the words of Namjoon, but was snapped to reality when he mentioned Yoongi’s mother. “What I’d done with you. When she’d grabbed her heart and fallen on her own filthy rich steps. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, Yoongi.”
Yoongi breathed heavily through his nose, mouth aching too much and stinging too hard to receive the cold air of the rainy fall night at the moment, “You’re just trying to forget . . . Taehyung . . .”
“She looked at me so tenderly as I told her you’d murdered your first victim.”
Yoongi didn’t respond.
“I wish I’d killed her.”
Yoongi grit his teeth, then screamed, hard and loud into the ground.
“You MONSTER!” Yoongi yelled, writing in Jungkook’s grip as throbs of pain ran up and down his arm, shocking him and restraining him with each move he tried to make. “Taehyung,” Yoongi stared at his friend’s body as he continued to writhe, trying and trying to break free. Tears, he felt them but could not stop them as he ran down his face and screamed, sounding like a patient of an asylum. “TAEHYUNG! SAY SOMETHING!”
The body did not move.
He can’t be dead, Yoongi said after a moment. His body shook, and Namjoon did nothing but watch, a blank and unreadable expression upon his face. He can’t be. He’s going to wake up and say this was a big old joke, and that everything was a joke. Please, tell me this is a joke. Please, tell me that we can get sushi after. Just say something !
The body did not move.
But Jungkook’s did as a bullet shot through his body, forcing him to release Yoongi as his own toppled to the ground, clutching his chest.
Where Jungkook once stood was the far body of Seokjin, holding Yoongi’s gun and screaming at Yoongi to run. Yoongi did no such thing as he crawled towards Taehyung and grabbed onto his hand, begging him to just wake up .
Chapter 23: Chapter Twenty-Three
Jimin wasn’t known for having trouble with his dreams, especially lately now that Min Yoongi had come to join them with his talents for the Legend’s Duet, but two days ago, when he’d told Jimin that he might disappear from his life, he hadn’t gotten a lick of sleep. Not even the chamomile tea that he’d chugged down had made him drowsy enough to get more than five hours per night, nor the melatonin pills which Seokjin had suggested but Jimin had refused.
Then the day when Yoongi was supposed to disappear had arrived, and as Jimin had watched him land from his two-story window and onto the ground of the muddy gardens below, he’d knew from the way that his heart had clenched so hard it had made him cringe, that he must do something.
‘’Seokjin!’’ He had burst into the room of his friend, which had been right beside his, fully clothed and lightly sweating. He was breathing a bit more raggedly than usual, and as light spilled into his friend’s room, he could almost sense the boy's confusion.
‘’Weh . . . ?’’ Seokjin had grumbled in his drowsiness, sitting up in his small bed with messy hair and squinty eyes. ‘’What’s happening? Is there . . . a fire?’’ He asked quickly, but not hurriedly, as he stopped to rub his eyes and blink a few more times.
‘’No, Seokjin, no . . .’’ Jimin said quietly, looking around and clenching the jacket he had quickly grabbed in his hands. ‘’It’s worse than that. Way worse . . . Get dressed. I’ll tell you when you’re ready to go.’’
‘’Ready to go where?’’ Seokjin had asked, the reality of what was happening hitting him quickly-- that this wasn’t some drill. He tried to demand more but Jimin had already closed the door and cut him off. On the other side, a quiet shuffling could be heard through the door, but Jimin couldn’t bear to listen to it, his mind elsewhere. He shoved his jacket onto him, a white long rain coat that reached his knees, and placed his hands into his pockets, beginning to pace around.
Just a moment later, Seokjin emerged with fixed hair, attentive eyes and a jacket identical to Jimin’s. “Can you tell me now?” He asked quietly, checking the time and then pushing his phone into his pocket. “What could be so important that you had to wake me up in the middle of the night?”
“It’s Yoongi,” He began, and Seokjin’s eyes widened. “He might die tonight.”
That was all Seokjin needed to hear, or see (as Jimin’s face was wild and quite the sight), as he nodded and motioned for Jimin to lead the way. “I’ll help however I can, Jimin,” he said as they began walking down the halls as silently as they could, careful not to wake any of the few maids or doormen who slept here when Jimin’s parents were away. “But where do we start? Do you even know where he is?”
“We start at his condo,” Jimin said as he pushed through the door and into the outside. It looked like it was going to rain, so the jacket’s they’d taken would serve them well. They were met with wind and more chill as they walked down the path towards Yoongi’s abode, the lights all turned off inside. As they reached the entrance, Jimin pulled out a set of keys and opened the door, lightly pushing it to get inside.
They took a few steps, watching for movement. When nothing could be heard, they took a few more steps and began to search the area.
“Are you sure he’s gone?” Seokjin asked in a whisper.
“Positive. I saw him jump out of his window and leave.”
“What are we looking for?”
“ . . . A weapon.”
“To use on who?”
“Don’t make me answer that, Seokjin.”
“Jimin,” Seokjin said with a pause as he stopped looking around. “We’re not killing someone to save Yoongi.”
Jimin pursed his lips but didn’t answer, only kept looking. Seokjin let out a sigh after a second of watching Jimin and then continued looking himself. The condo looked untouched, save for a few misplaced blankets and a little bit of damage to the walls. Not even any of the cups had been moved, like the boy hadn’t been eating. Once they’d finished the main floor, they both moved upstairs.
It was only a short period of time searching the upstairs before Jimin found a certain something that he’d been looking for. The noises it made sounded foreign, so when Seokjin turned around and saw Jimin holding a gun, he rushed over to take it from him.
“Is this what you were looking for, Jimin?” Seokjin asked quietly and shoved it away from Jimin, pushing it into his own pocket as Jimin’s eyes stayed glued to it. “We’re not using it, Jimin.”
“What if we have to?”
“You’re not using it,” Seokjin repeated with a gulp, the phrase changed a bit from before. “Now let’s go.”
Seokjin left the room in a hurry, Jimin staying for a bit. He clenched his fist. Yoongi had been hiding a gun? But for what? Why hadn’t he taken it with him wherever he had gone? Why hadn’t Jimin pried more? Jimin let out a groan and rubbed his temples, a headache beginning to arise from his lack of sleep and abundance of stress. He had to go, follow Seokjin, and find Yoongi, lest he never see him again.
Jimin rushed down the stairs, pushing through the front door and following Seokjin, who had travelled to the back of the house and was staring at something. The boy walked over to meet him, seeing nothing in the dark.
“What are you looking at?” Jimin asked.
“Footprints,” Seokjin said, then raised his head and lifted a finger, pointing to the forest beyond their perimeter. “Yoongi left footprints.”
“So we follow them? A-and find him?” Jimin asked, hope welling up inside of him at the new discovery.
“Exactly. Let’s go.”
They followed the footsteps that led far into the woods and then opened out through a clearing into the city slums. Seokjin and Jimin paused, their clean boots now muddy and their hoods above their heads as it had began drizzling lightly. The slums were a sad place, with syringes and broken bottles everywhere, makeshift tents placed wherever they could be and people with oversized clothes for their too-skinny bodies walking to and fro. It smelt of human feces and urine and reeked of lack of hygiene. Buildings were damaged and graffiti was everywhere. It made the two of them look out of place and like easy targets. Despite what he had said before, Seokjin slipped a hand into his pocket and kept a firm hold on the gun he had just received.
“Have you ever been here before?” Seokjin asked Jimin quietly, who shook his head. “Good. In a perfect world, you should’ve never had to come here.” That was all that was spoken before they quietly made their way in, following the remnants of the muddy prints that were slowly being washed away by the falling rain.
The rain grew harder and harder as they continued until it was almost at a deafening downfall. They walked aimlessly, breathing heavily from the exertion until they heard it. It was a screaming voice, screaming the name of someone they’d never met before, but knew the voice of. They both turned to each other.
“Yoongi,” Jimin whispered before Seokjin could. “He’s that way!”
They both ran for a start, taking a way down a narrow alley before the screaming became loud and clear. They heard the deeper voice of a grown man, then one of a weeping boy and three gunshots. Jimin continued running until Seokjin grabbed his hand.
“Did you not just hear that?” Seokjin said in a savage whisper.
“The fucking gunshots! They have guns, Jimin!”
“Guns?” Jimin said wistfully, and then lowered his head. “I’m sorry. What . . .”
“What do we do?” Seokjin finished for Jimin. “I don’t know. Wait.”
The sound of someone screaming louder and louder could be heard, and Jimin flinched at the sound of Yoongi’s voice. The agony, the despair, it could be heard through the rain, and Seokjin could see it hurt Jimin to listen to.
“Who’s Taehyung?” Jimin asked quietly.
“I don’t know, Jimin,” Seokjin said quietly. He pulled out the gun from his pocket, clicking off the safe and breathing heavily.
“Seokjin, what are you going to do with that?”
Seokjin breathed heavily through his nose. “Something for you, Jimin, alright? Just . . . Stay behind me. Stay behind me or behind this wall, and run after I shoot, okay? You run.”
The rain was coming down harder than ever, and as Jimin gulped and nodded, Seokjin gripped the gun like it were to be his final action and let out a breath that could be visible in the air. He closed his eyes, mumbled something, then opened them, seemingly ready. He then mumbled a countdown, slightly louder for Jimin, and then walked out of their hiding place and into the view of the alleyway.
The view assaulted his eyes, and his nerves, already uneasy, snapped.
Blood, blood from a body and on the ground, spilling onto the gray concrete. The first thing that he'd only seen in movies before was right before him, and he couldn't take it. His breathing became quicker and his thoughts evaporated, something different controlling him.
His eyes whipped wildly from side to side and the boy closest to him became his target.
Without thinking, he pressed the trigger, and a bullet flew from his pistol's muzzle. It whipped through the air, a horrible sound coming from the gun, then it ripped through the body of Jeon Jungkook, who screamed the name of Kim Namjoon as he fell to the ground, clutching where the bullet of Seokjin had just torn through him.
Seokjin’s hands shook as he continued to stare, disbelieving in what he had just done.
Chapter 24: Chapter Twenty-Four
It all happened in a horrible blur, with Taehyung’s forever-sleeping face before him. Blood dribbled down Yoongi's hands from the wounds in that cold body, and he could barely see from the water in his eyelashes. The familiar weight around his neck was gone, and the black jacket that usually kept him warm was gone as well.
Suddenly, a gunshot sounded and he was brought back to life, head twitching backwards to look at what had happened. He let out a shocked noise when he saw the limp body of Jungkook fall to the ground. He was free, but at what cost?
The blaring ringing in his ears fell away bit by bit until he could hear the screaming of Seokjin through the harsh pitter of the rain. “Run!” He screamed so loudly, voice straining and cracking with obvious fear, “ RUN! ”.
Run? Yoongi asked himself, fresh tears running down his face as he looked to the sky. The rain smacked against his face, shutting his eyes. The screaming continued. He wanted to block it out. He didn’t deserve to run. He deserved to rot in hell beside Namjoon. He deserved to die.
But his body did not listen, and slowly, he got up, limbs weak and tired, so tired. His body almost felt like it would give up without some other force helping him up. He opened his eyes. He stared at the face of Taehyung, his hyung, and took it in for one last time. The blood dribbling down from the corners of his mouth, his eyes that would never open again, and the soft cheeks that grew colder and colder with each passing second.
“Open your eyes, hyung,” He said ever so softly, his final wish to Tae as he turned around, something guiding him beyond control, and ran. As the only two emotions he could feel in the moment filled him, pain and sadness, he ran. With no energy, his legs bent too much with each step, but he ran.
He ran past the convulsing body of Jungkook, past the blood puddle that was beginning to form around his stomach and soak his clothing, past the frozen body of Kim Namjoon, past the broken bottles on the ground that he’d never get to buy again. He ran past it all to where Jimin and Seokjin were rushing him over, their hands making motions that he should go faster. Oh, he was trying.
The end of the alleyway became clearer and clearer, and though his vision swam with dark tendrils of nothingness that threatened to take him under their grasp and drown him, he pushed his body not to stop. He finally reached the end of the tunnel, and burst through. His breaths came in ragged gasps, and it almost felt as though he couldn’t get enough air into his lungs.
“Yoongi,” Jimin said quickly, grabbing Yoongi’s face as to bring it up to his. “We need to go. We need to go.”
Yoongi paused, staring at the asphalt for a minute. Just a minute or two before he nodded. Jimin grabbed his arm and pushed him forward, running as quickly as he could and hauling the half-boy the rest of the way he could. Seokjin kept pace behind them, making sure to keep the rear instead Yoongi fell. The boy’s own knees were quivering as he ran. He’d shot a man. How was he going to live with himself?
One that he didn’t know, at that. One with a life, and a family, and probably whatever else boy’s his age had. Oh, but the face that that older man had pulled once the shot had rang down through the alleyway. The way it had immediately shifted and changed in so many ways that it seemed like masks were being switched all around his face. It was as though he couldn’t keep a single face on any longer. The body had fallen into the mud puddles around it, the face crushing itself with pain, and a pool of blood immediately spanning from under him, mixing and diluting itself within the rain. How would he ever justify this to himself? How would he ever make himself believe it was alright? How would he live with himself?
A thought came for him then. An eye for an eye. That body in the alleyway for the body of the man he’d just shot. That’s how he’d justify it. He’d forget this night and take sleeping pills to drug himself whenever the inevitable nightmares came. He’d do all that and more.
Jimin. He’d done this for Jimin. He continued repeating that name in his head, never letting it slip for one second. All of his energy concentrated on that and running, and nothing more.
As Seokjin continued to run, he didn’t hear the shouts of Jimin urging him to zig-zag, or do anything as Kim Namjoon walked out of the alleyway, the body of the other man slung over his shoulder as he walked, broad shoulders carrying all of the limp weight. It seemed the man that was being carried had passed out, a long trail of blood running down Namjoon’s sleeve and darkening with each minute that he walked. In his dominant hand was a gun, and as Yoongi turned around to see what Jimin was yelling about, he could not help but begin to yell as well.
It happened too quickly. In a bang of sound, Seokjin was on the ground as well, writhing within puddles and gasping with shock. At first, he didn’t feel anything but a slight burning. In a few moments, the agony set in and he was screaming, clutching his leg as it began to spurt blood, a major artery pierced.
He screamed and screamed, the shock not even enough to stop him from feeling everything that was happening. Jimin and Yoongi stopped their running, turning their heads to stare at what was happening. Jimin laid a hand over his mouth, but it didn’t stop Yoongi from hearing his whisper.
“No, Seokjin . . .” He whispered, loud enough only for Yoongi to hear, “Get up, Seokjin . . “
A blood curdling scream rose against the rest as his pain turned into a mix of burning and fear. Namjoon lumbered his way over, eyes filled with deadness and nothingness, brewing with something deeper and darker that not even Yoongi could pinpoint.
Tears welled up in Yoongi’s eyes.
He had promised himself that nobody would touch his Taehyung, but he couldn’t even exert a fraction of the lust for revenge that Namjoon was setting free. The man got closer and closer, and through the screams, Jimin and Yoongi could make something out.
“RUN!” Seokjin screamed, teeth gritted and jaw muscles almost giving out from the force of his bites, “RUN, RUN!” Was all he could make out as he continued to clench his calf, putting as much pressure as his weakening muscles could at the moment.
“I won’t . . .” Jimin began, and took a step, but was stopped. He turned to stare at Yoongi, who had grasped his hand and had begun shaking his head. The tears that were filling his eyes left nothing secret. He had just gone through the exact same emotions, and was not going to let someone fall into that dark hole; no, not until they were both safe. “I won’t leave him, Yoongi. Let me . . .”
“Do what he wants, Jimin,” Yoongi said, his voice like a croak from all the yelling he had done.
Jimin turned to stare at Seokjin, who was speaking clearly again, though muddled with spit as his own eyes began to well with liquid. Jimin, weirdly enough, was dry-eyed. He was in shock, Yoongi concluded, that was the only way he couldn’t be letting everything go.
“You were my best friend, Jimin,” Seokjin said in a clear voice. “You helped me when I couldn’t do it myself. You let me know I was loved. You didn’t leave me when everyone else did. You were my best friend,” He said, a hiccup in his voice, “And I don’t want to see my best friend die.”
He turned his head fully to Jimin now, making their eyes meet as he let out a smile that was clearly faked. “So please,” He began, one end of his mouth staying high as the other side of his mouth drooped, “ Run .”
Jimin shook his head at first, then nodded, his blonde hair spilling before his face as he did so, droplets coming loose from it. He nodded again, this time more frivolously, and didn’t say anything to Seokjin as he began to run. He ran, pulling Yoongi with him, though in moments they were at equal pace. They kept up with each other, holding each other’s hands as they ran, grips as strong as the cold that gripped their bodies as they rushed against the rain.
It was only a moment before they turned an alleyway and bent down to catch their breaths. It was the wrong idea, as they could still hear everything.
“Please,” They could hear Seokjin say through the rain. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry . Please, don’t kill-” His words were cut off by a nasty snap that could be heard clearly through the rain. A distinct snap that signified the breaking of a bone, followed by the ear-bleeding scream of their friend. Though weakened, it made Yoongi’s blood curdle.
“You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘sorry’ if you can so freely use it,” They heard Namjoon say, intention to kill deep inside of his voice. “I’ll teach it to you, won’t I?”
They didn’t hear any final words Seokjin had to say, if there were any, as complete silence fell upon the area once a gunshot blast through the sound. There was no longer a scream to accompany the pain, nor the words of Namjoon or Seokjin to fill the silence, but only rain.
Jimin’s head snapped up to meet Yoongi’s already watching eyes. His lips were blue, quivering, and pursed together. His hands were bunching up the fabric of his pants as he held over his knees, and it took a minute before the boy ran into a few steps of the alleyway before kneeling over his shoes and vomiting his dinner. His skin was pale, cold, and horribly lifeless as Yoongi stared at it.
Jimin began to vomit more and more until his gags became retches, and nothing came out. Snot dribbled down his nostrils and tears from vomit, not sadness, filled his eyes. He said nothing as he got back up and wiped his mouth with his coat, taking a few breaths to calm himself and then totally breaking down.
He didn’t say anything as he cried, only staring at his hands as he poured his heart out into his weeps, staring at Yoongi for only a few seconds at a time before continuing to cry.
Yoongi gave him a few moments before he held out his hand and tried to get Jimin to raised himself. It took two tries before that worked, each more lifeless than the last. All of his energy was gone and his eyes were threatening to shut on him every moment. His head throbbed, his joints ached. He couldn’t imagine what Jimin was feeling.
Then they stood beside each other.
“Home, before Namjoon finds us,” Yoongi said slowly, his words almost unable to curve to form the words he wanted them to say.
Jimin nodded, wiped his nose, and then began to walk in some lifeless direction. Yoongi caught up to him, and as they neared the end of the alleyway, Jimin stopped.
“Which way do I look?” Jimin asked.
Yoongi gave him a confused look.
“So that I don’t have to look at his body.”
Yoongi felt no surprise ripple through him. He felt numb. Even the tips of his fingers didn’t tingle at the moment. Nothing did. He used his hands to point which way they would be headed, and from that, they tried their best to make it back home.
Chapter 25: Chapter Twenty-Five
Jimin kept falling over on the way home. He would trip on the slightest of road blocks, no matter if he saw them or not. Sometimes he would even intentionally fall over onto his knees which, at this point, were scuffed and lightly bleeding. He bore scrapes on his hands and even a bit on his chin, which would give him pain each time that a salty tear would tread upon it.
They all stung, actually, since the rain kept pouring and didn’t give any sign of stopping.
When Jimin looked to the skies above, the soft dark of nothingness, he could see everything but the sun. Even the stars were hidden this night, almost like the heavens were frowning down upon them.
Looking to Yoongi, Jimin saw that the other boy was feeling the same miniscule physical pain. He had blood dripping down to his jaw from a few cuts on his face, and bruises forming from where he had been hit brutally by those men. He was gritting his teeth against his feelings, emotional or physical, Jimin couldn’t tell -- they were muddled together at this point.
While watching Yoongi once more, Jimin didn’t notice a stray brick before his feet. He took a step, foot catching on the ledge of the hardened material, and tumbled down into a puddle before him. His arms broke his fall as he crashed into the asphalt, head pushing down into his hands from the force. He held his body there for a minute, mouth changing as it elongated into a huge frown and he closed his eyes, tears coming down and then lightly gracing the top of the puddle he was laying in.
Seokjin, He said quietly within his mind, You can’t be dead. It’s not funny anymore. Please come out and tell me it was a joke. Please! Please. Please. Please.
It took a moment before Yoongi turned around and saw Jimin on the ground. His eyes told of nothing that was raging beyond, only being plain and almost lifeless. “Jimin,” He said through the rain, “We only have the forest to go.”
Jimin balled his hands into fists and shook his head, blonde hair sticking against his skull, his brown, uncontacted eyes turning up to meet Yoongi’s. “I can’t do it, Yoongi!” He screamed into the surroundings, “I can’t! ”
Yoongi stood rigid, mind flashing only with memories of Taehyung. He told himself to stop and walk over, and thankfully, his body responded and did just so. He knelt down before Jimin, lightly grasping his arm and slinging it over his own shoulders. He picked the boy up, and despite the screaming pain in his stomach that threatened to send him down from earlier abuse, he pushed himself and got up.
“We . . . we only have a bit more to go,” Yoongi said numbly, beginning to walk without purpose. “Can you do that for me?”
Jimin sniffled, but didn’t respond. He began walking, leaning almost all of his weight upon Yoongi. Despite the cold rain, their bodies began to warm up from the exertion.
They got halfway into the forest before Jimin fell down into the mud, shirt dirtying and hair mixing with the wet dirt. He moaned the name of Seokjin into the brownness, grabbing at the solution and crying into it. His once pristine clothes were now the colour of a shithole town, and his eyes were forever glossy with tears. He grit his own teeth, breathing heavily.
“It wasn’t fair,” Jimin said, “It wasn’t fair! ”
Yoongi looked at his own hands didn’t say anything.
“Give me a knife,” Jimin demanded to Yoongi while facing the ground. He scrambled onto his hands and knees, mud sloshing under him as he did so.
Yoongi flipped his head immediately over to Jimin. “For what?” He asked.
“So I can kill myself.”
Silence for a moment.
“I’m not giving you a knife.”
Then, Jimin got up to his feet and ran towards Yoongi. Yoongi, despite the screaming in his bones, raised his arms to catch Jimin’s wrists. They crashed together, the force of Jimin shoving them back onto the trunk of a nearby tree. “Give me the KNIFE!” Jimin shouted.
“No!” Yoongi said, trying but failing to move Jimin away from him. “I’m not . . .-”
“Let me join Seokjin. Let me join Seokjin!”
Yoongi stared into Jimin’s eyes, the boy returning the stare until he closed his eyes, took a breath, and fell limp.
“I can’t do this . . .” He said weakly as he slumped back down to his knees, staring at his lightly cut palms and gritting his teeth. “Yoongi . . .”
“You can do it,” Yoongi said, “Let’s just make it home.”
Chapter 26: Chapter Twenty-Six
They had stumbled the rest of the way home with only two more little mishaps -- one, in which it took Jimin five minutes to regain himself, and one where Yoongi had fallen himself, cursing furiously into the ground. Despite this, they trudged their way to the door of the shack, touching the rich wood and pushing it open.
Warm light poured onto their faces as they practically collapsed into the opening. Yoongi’s bones ached so terribly that he wondered if he may have broken them all, and Jimin’s cuts all stung so horribly that he wondered if what he was feeling was real pain, as it made everything else he’d ever felt feel so puny. Yoongi crawled a bit forward until he got past the section of coats, not even bothering to close the door, and then fell onto his side, gasping for air on the ground. He gulped, not even noticing the man sitting on the velvet piano chair.
Hoseok had been playing with his nails before the duo had stumbled into their room, and he had been fixing up a retort before he saw the gore that they had brought with them. Yoongi, cut up and bruised, looked as if he’d been mauled by a pack of hungry wolves. Jimin, more importantly, Jimin , looked as though he’d been mauled instead by a murder of ravenous crows. His hands and knees, which showed through his now-ripped pants, were scuffed and lightly bleeding. His face was oddly sunken in and his eyes and lips were so puffy that he almost looked like he’d been stung by a hive of hornets.
Nevertheless, Hoseok rose from his seat and ran over. He instantly sank to his knees, hand reaching for the face of Jimin and then instantly cupping it gently. Jimin grit his teeth and sucked in air sharply as Hoseok’s gentle fingers brushed the light scraping on the bottom of his chin. The man mumbled an apology as he examined Jimin’s face, shocked eyes searching the whole of him.
“What did you do to him?!” Hoseok asked Yoongi a whisper, eyes never leaving the face of Jimin, who had his own eyes half-closed, almost wearing a dazed look upon his visage. Yoongi, on his side, didn’t move until the question was repeated, this time sharper.
Yoongi did not directly respond to the question as he hoisted himself and his body to rest against a wall. He gently laid a hand onto his stomach, careful not to lift the shirt with the company around. His face was still bruised and his lips were lightly bleeding, but it was better than showing the most-likely purple and yellow mess that was his belly. “Help him. Just help him.”
“As if I wouldn’t,” Hoseok scowled, getting up slowly and then rushing over to the cupboards of the mini kitchen. He ruffled through all of them, clanging and sharp slamming coming from that area of the house before it stopped and the distinct sound of materials ruffling together came into the air. Hoseok then returned with a bright red first-aid kit, then proceeded to open it, rummaging around until he found the disinfectant, some cotton pads, ointment, and bandaids. He began to go to work on Jimin, whose eyes roamed everywhere but Hoseok.
“What’s wrong with him?” Hoseok asked as he pressed a cotton pad onto Jimin’s chin, which sent the boy hissing air into him through his teeth. He grit his jaw against his upper molars, eyes still not reacting despite the pain.
“Seokjin . . .” Jimin whispered as his eyes wet once more, mixing with the ointment that was now being placed at his chin. “Seokjin . . .” He moaned once more.
“What?” Hoseok asked for a moment, then realization shoved it's way across his face. He hadn’t seen Seokjin in his room when he’d come to find the two of them in the middle of the night, and had come here. If they had both left, then where was Seokjin now? He would have come home first, even coming first to see if the coast was clear. Why hadn’t he called Hoseok, then? “Where is Seokjin?” Hoseok demanded.
Jimin recoiled from Hoseok like the man had hit him. Tears came down Jimin's face until he eventually was overcome by sobs, and had to shove his face into his hands just to cover the waterfall that ran down his cheeks. Hoseok stared at them both with shock.
A breaking feeling overcame the teacher. Something within him shattered as he stared at the scene; a bloodied Jimin next to a beaten Yoongi. Jimin, shoving his hands onto his normally luscious skin, no contacts in his eyes. He hadn’t not worn contacts in all the time that Hoseok had known him, yet now he wasn’t? Something was very wrong.
He’d promised himself that he’d never let Jimin be broken ever again after his seventeenth birthday, but now he saw an eighteen-year-old Jimin who broken beyond compare over something that Hoseok hadn’t even had a say in. It made him feel like an utter failure.
“Min Yoongi, you bastard,” Hoseok said, viciously turning to the half-awake boy, “What happened?! ”
Yoongi licked his lips and, despite him being soaked to the core, looked dehydrated. When he didn’t answer Hoseok, the man balled his hands into a fist and crashed it down onto the floor, swearing that he would hit the cretin would he not respond. Yoongi flinched against the threat, and breathed shallowly a few times before responding.
“Give us time, Jung,” Yoongi said simply, to which Hoseok’s eyes diluted in disbelief, “That’s the least you could do.”
“No! What? No! Not in a million years, no,” His face dipped into anger, “You come into Jimin’s shack looking like shit , yet you dare try and keep secrets? No. No!” He glanced to Jimin, “Jimin, pl-” But his words were abruptly cut off.
Jimin’s eyes had finally met his, two pools of almond emotion meeting his, which ultimately made him look away. Within those eyes, pleading and love swam, but also the need to be alone was there too, at least with someone who knew what he was going through. Yoongi, whose eyes were drifting off too quickly into the realms of sleep, almost couldn’t believe it when Hoseok calmly (but obviously filled with rage) got up, leaving the first aid kit on the ground, grabbed his jacket, and left. He shut the door all too heavily, but not heavily enough to scare Jimin, who had gone back to holding his face into his hands. Hoseok had only managed to put one bandage on Jimin's body, which was where the small scuff on his chin rest.
Yoongi’s head went limp with almost-sleep until Jimin spoke up, face still aimed towards the ground and fingers still covering his eyes.
“Do you think he’ll tell anyone?” Jimin asked, a tinge of fear lining his voice.
“With you involved?” Yoongi rasped, throat feeling drier than ever, “No.”
Jimin nodded before his face grew long and he broke into another silent crying session and wept to himself. Yoongi dozed off a few seconds later out of necessity, but had he stayed up, he would’ve heard the moaning of Seokjin’s name once for every second that passed.