BRANDT MUSIC ACADEMY
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Jungkook picks up a pencil and draws a circle on the sheet music propped up in front of them. “Bars 45 to 50 — there’s a crescendo here. Just keep that in mind — you’ll have a bigger impact on the audience if you follow through with it, because this is the song’s climax.”
His student, Tracey, nods, scrunching her nose. “Dynamics are hard.”
“I guess they can be,” Jungkook laughs, scrunching his nose as he circles the section with a pink highlighter. “But with enough practice, you’re going to kill it. I believe in you.”
“Thanks, Mr. Jungkook,” Tracey says with a toothy grin. “Can I try it again?”
“Definitely. One more time for the road.”
Just then, Jungkook hears a soft knock at the door. When he and Tracey look up, the person knocking opens the door.
Jungkook flushes red as Tracey enthusiastically yells, “Hi, Mr. Jin!”
“Whoops, sorry, should’ve double-checked the schedule before coming in,” Seokjin — Jungkook’s boyfriend — says, ducking his head in embarrassment as he peeks through the door. “I’ll—”
“We’re just finishing up,” Jungkook cuts him off, laughing. “You can sit over there if you want,” he adds, pointing at a little stool by the drumset.
Seokjin blinks. “You sure?”
“You okay with that, Trace?”
“Yeah, Tracey replies, smiling. “I don’t mind.”
Seokjin shrugs and walks in, shutting the door behind him quietly as he shuffles towards the stool. He rests the bag between his legs and watches as Jungkook and Tracey finish up their lesson.
When it finally hits 3:00, Tracey hops off the stool and collects her things. Jungkook pulls out a sticker sheet full of stars out of his bag and sticks a purple star above the bar they’d stopped at for the day. They wave goodbye, leaving Seokjin and Jungkook alone in the practice room. Seokjin sidles up to Jungkook, linking arms with him and kissing his cheek as Jungkook starts fiddling with some keys on the piano, improvising a melody.
Jungkook lets out a sigh of relief. “Thought you’d never ask.”
KUNG FU TEA, 20 minutes later
KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES
The Jenga tower stands tall between them, a single piece at the base holding up the entire structure.
Jungkook sips his drink -- a refreshing green apple fruit tea (with boba, of course) -- eyes narrowed as he decides on what piece to pick out next. He sets his drink down and looks over at Seokjin, who’s leaning back in his seat, arms folded, watching him intently.
“Jungkook, I’m almost done with my drink,” Seokjin complains, running a hand down his face as he tries not to laugh. “ And our chicken. Come on. The tower’s going to fall.”
“I can’t fuck this up. Not my fault you drink like a vacuum,” Jungkook grins, zeroing in on a piece right in the middle. He pokes the piece out with his index finger, freezing when the tower jiggles a little bit, and holds his breath until it’s finally out and placed on top. “Okay. There.”
Seokjin looks at him slyly and pouts his lips as he leans forward, arms resting on the table. Jungkook stares at the tower with an intense look as Seokjin opts to pull a piece off the side and place it on top.
“How were your classes today?” Jungkook asks as he scans the tower for his next move. “That other professor still giving you grief?”
Seokjin chuckles and sips his milk tea. “Nothing I can’t handle, honestly. He wants tenure, so he’s attempting to behave ahead of his next performance review.”
“Mmmm, still extremely sus to me,” Jungkook quips as he moves another piece off the middle of the tower. “Still haven’t forgotten the time he ‘accidentally’ spilled coffee on you when you won that award last year.”
“Thank god for multi-layered suits,” Seokjin laments, “my spirit was intact, but my good shirt did not come out of that alive.”
“That poor, poor Walmart top.”
“May it rest in peace.”
They sit in comfortable silence, trying each other’s drinks and making sure the Jenga tower stays intact, until Seokjin clears his throat.
“Come with me to Korea this summer,” Seokjin says casually as he pulls a Jenga piece off the side.
Jungkook’s eyes bug out and he nearly chokes on his boba. It’s mostly quiet in the shop, save for a few people chatting on the other side of the shop, the buzz of a blender, and the music videos playing on the TV screens hanging above them.
Korea. This summer.
“Sorry, could you repeat that again?” he asks, setting his drink down, leaning forward. The table shakes a little, and the tower collapses. They stare at each other for a split second before bursting out in laughter. Jungkook groans loudly and covers his face, now red from embarrassment. “God damn it. Sorry.”
“No, no, it’s okay. You just owe me In-N-Out next week now,” Seokjin says, doubled over, laughing. Jungkook playfully kicks him under the table. After a good minute, he collects himself and says gently, “I’m serious, though. Come to Seoul with me this summer? Be my date to Namjoon and Jimin’s wedding?”
He takes Jungkook’s hand, and Jungkook squeezes back.
“I think that’ll be fun,” Jungkook says, nodding slowly as he works through the running gears in his head. “They’re okay with that?”
“They insisted ,” Seokjin says, incredulous, fiddling with a Jenga piece in his free hand. “Namjoon and Jimin miss you. And Jimin says he’s not going to be sick half the day like last time.”
Jungkook laughs at the memory. Two years ago, Seokjin’s best friend Namjoon and his now-fiance Jimin had visited them over the summer and they went on a double date to Disney California Adventure. They’d dragged a very indignant and scared Jimin onto what was then known as California Screamin’ and he’d passed out right after their car went through the loop. Seokjin still has their souvenir photo from that day framed in his office at UCLA (Namjoon was holding up peace signs with a serious case of Roller Coaster Face™, Jimin’s head lolled against his chest, and Jungkook and Seokjin had attempted to do a Dragon Ball fusion pose in the front part of the car).
“If he says so,” Jungkook snorts, shaking his head. “You know what? I’d love to go. Haven’t been back since I was...one, I think? My mom’s gonna be super happy. Plus, Taehyung’s been begging me to visit since graduation.”
“Really?” Seokjin exclaims. “God, this is gonna be fun - are you going to be able to get off work? It’s in June.”
Jungkook nods. “The academy’s recital is in May, and after that...I think I can definitely take off. My students are gonna be okay,” he thinks. “I’ll send in a time off request when I get in tomorrow.”
Seokjin’s face lights up - “We’ve been together two years now, it’s about time I show you my old stomping grounds. Meet my family, maybe. Joohyun noona’s going to be there. You remember her, right?”
“I do!” Jungkook says excitedly, remembering Seokjin’s cousin, who he’d talked with over FaceTime a few times. “Wow, I get to see where the famous Professor Kim grew up. I’m honored.”
He tries to ignore the butterflies fluttering in his stomach at ‘ meet my family, maybe. ’
“There’s going to be a whole Kim Seokjin Hometown Tour Package,” Seokjin says, nodding and fiddling with one of the rings that Jungkook’s wearing. “Where I first went to the bathroom, the football field I nearly lost a tooth on when I was eight because Namjoon thought he was on Real Madrid, where I bought my first bottle of soju…”
“Amazing. I love a good tour package,” Jungkook chuckles.
“It’ll be great,” Seokjin says, leaning in. Jungkook follows suit, and they kiss.
“Do your parents know?” Jungkook asks when they sit back down properly in their seats.
Seokjin sips at remaining boba in his cup. “Yeah. They do. They know I’m bringing someone.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Can’t wait to meet them.”
In a far corner of the shop, a camera shutter goes off quietly.
CULVER CITY, CA
JUNE 16, 6:45 a.m.
Jungkook blinks blearily, blindly reaching over to his right to grab his phone as Ariana Grande’s Be Alright starts to blast at exactly 6:45 a.m. There’s a bit of light filtering through the blinds, and he sits up, peeks through, smiling sleepily, his mouth stretched into a yawn.
He looks over to the sleeping mass next to him --Seokjin, is pretty much dead to Ariana Grande and the rest of the world -- Jungkook’s always marveled at the fact that Seokjin manages to sleep through each and every alarm that he subjects them to every morning. (He’d once managed to sleep through the nightcore version of Cotton-Eye Joe , which Jungkook once set to play every five minutes one morning starting at 5:30 a.m. Needless to say, it ended up being a disaster.)
It’s not that Jungkook doesn’t sleep in - it’s just that he’s more prone to pressing snooze than sleeping through all of the alarms entirely.
Today, however, is different.
They’re finally going to Seoul.
Jungkook’s heart thrums with an nervous, excited energy as he starts to stretch, arms over his head, neck side to side, wiggling his toes. It’s been three months since Seokjin had asked him to accompany him home, but the fact that they were actually going hadn’t hit him until last night at Target when they were buying TSA-approved toiletries.
He hasn’t been back to Korea since he and his mother moved to California nearly 23 years ago. “It’ll be a little different back home,” she’d said as she helped him shop for outfits at the Citadel Outlets a few weeks ago. “ Just remember, always be respectful. I know that won’t be a problem for you because I raised you right.”
“What do you mean, ‘a little different’?”
“You’ll see. Jungkook-ah! Why are you getting another hoodie? Put that back.”
Jungkook falls back against his pillow, hair fanning across the sheets. They don’t have to leave for another hour and a half, but he just can’t bring himself to fall back asleep. He looks over at Seokjin again, still fast asleep on his back, lips slightly pouty as his cheek is squished against his pillow.
Wow , he thinks dumbly, thanks in part to his sleep-addled brain and the fact that he really, really fucking loves this guy.
With that in mind, he decides to lay flat on top of Seokjin, chest-to-chest, nearly smothering him, poking at his nose, his lips, his eyelids, his cheeks, until--
“Is there something you need?” Seokjin says sleepily, eyebrows furrowed, lips upturned in a sly smile as he comes to, moving to wrap his arms around Jungkook’s waist securely. Jungkook can feel the two of them sink deeper into the mattress.
Jungkook props his elbows up on Seokjin’s chest and smiles. “Today’s the day.”
“Hm, laundry day?”
Jungkook tucks his head against Seokjin’s chest, laughing in disbelief. “Jin.”
“We gotta head to LAX in an hour and…” Jungkook looks over at his phone; it’s flashing with notifications, “...an hour and twenty minutes.”
Seokjin shrugs and rolls them over so that he’s hovering over Jungkook, who’s giggling and wrapping his arms around Seokjin’s neck. “I think...that’s plenty of time.”
“You suck,” Jungkook says, scrunching his nose.
“But you like that,” Seokjin replies, kissing his nose.
“I guess. ”
“Mmmm, I love you. I’m excited for this trip.”
“Love you, too. And same,” Jungkook says breathlessly, his eyes fluttering shut as Seokjin slowly rolls his hips against his. “Are we really doing this?”
“I mean, if you want to.”
Jungkook sits up on one of his elbows and pulls Seokjin’s face towards his by the back of his neck, and kisses him, tracing his tongue along the seam of his lips. “We’ve got an hour and ten minutes.”
LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
“Okay,” Jungkook says excitedly as he and Seokjin exit their Uber, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “Got my passport, you’ve got your passport, there’s a Shake Shack in this godforsaken airport — we’re good to go.”
“Not quite,” Seokjin says, sucking in a breath as he heaves both of their luggage bags out of the backseat and thanks their driver, who zooms away as soon as the two of them step up on the curb. “Wait just a second.”
“Wait—we need to check in, we’re almost late—”
“Mr. Kim, Mr. Jeon,” a voice cuts in. The two of them turn around and a young woman in a Singapore Airlines flight attendant uniform is standing behind them, bowing. “I’m Lianne, and I’ll be escorting you both into the terminal.”
“Are we in trouble?” Jungkook asks confusedly, looking from Lianne to Seokjin nervously, scratching his head. “That won’t be necessary—“
“Thank you, Lianne,” Seokjin says with a bright smile.
They get through check-in, TSA, and immigration quickly through an express line - one that Jungkook never even knew existed at any airport - and they’re at their gate in a flash. They’re not left idle for long - Lianne leaves and comes back with the captain of the plane, who escorts them inside himself. They walk past the first class and economy seats, and find themselves in a hallway lined with sliding doors etched with intricate patterns.
“Seokjin,” Jungkook whispers warily, clutching his boyfriend’s sleeve. “Where are we going?”
Seokjin turns to give him a nervous smile as they come to a halt in front of one of the sliding doors.
“Mr. Kim, Mr. Jeon, welcome to our exclusive platinum-class suite,” the captain says. Lianne presses a button, and the door slides open to reveal a large suite, with a bed in the middle and two comfortable-looking reclining chairs.
Basically, it's a hotel room in the sky.
Lianne and the captain say a few more things, but all Jungkook can hear is mush. Absolute mush. He looks over at Seokjin, then at the suite, then at the captain and Lianne, jaw hanging open and nodding dumbly.
Finally, the captain and Lianne leave, and Seokjin closes the door behind them.
“So…” Seokjin says, clutching his bag straps, smiling hopefully. “What do you think?”
What do I think?
Jungkook feels the bed sheets and smoothes a hand over the pristine leather lounge chair. He cocks his head, trying to take it all in, and then he says slowly: “We can’t afford this.”
“It’s on me.”
“It’s on you? ” Jungkook says, concerned. “I feel like I saw this on Buzzfeed Worth It. Wait. I did. Singapore Airlines. Platinum Class Suite. Oh my fucking god, this shit is worth $25,000—”
“—It’s okay!” Seokjin cuts in. “It’s on me, don’t worry!”
“You were sad about your Walmart button-down being stained for life when it kinda seems like you can literally buy out Walmart. You like buying 60 pieces chicken nuggets at McDonald’s because it saves us money. Seokjin, we flew economy on our trip to Canada because you said first class was too expensive.”
“It was expensive!” Seokjin says indignantly.
Jungkook slumps into one of the seats, staring at nothing in particular. “Oh my god. You’re loaded. And you didn’t tell me.”
“Jungkook,” Seokjin sucks air through his teeth and runs a hand down his face. “My family is...comfortable.”
Jungkook lets out a barking staccato of a laugh, standing up. “ Comfortable . We’re extremely comfortable up in this $25,000 dollar airline suite, soon to be a zillion feet up in the air, alright. We have our own room, basically. A sliding door with a doorbell? I think these sheets have a higher thread count than anything I’ll ever own in my life,” he says, walking over to one of the cabinets and pulling out a blanket, holding it reverently. “This shit feels like it’s from the Palace of Versailles.”
He pauses and takes a deep breath, still clutching the blanket. His heart’s beating rapidly as he takes in the suite, with its two recliner chairs, the large television, and the bed in the middle. The most he could ever afford in his life is a cramped Southwest seat. Jungkook wonders why Seokjin had kept this very big secret from him, and he feels a little hurt, but can see how anxious Seokjin is as he fumbles with his backpack straps, avoiding his gaze.
Jungkook takes a deep breath. “Okay. First off, how?”
“My parents...they have an in with the airline,” Seokjin says, scratching the back of his head as he sits down on the bed in the middle of the suite.
“What do they do?”
“They dabble in real estate. Tech. Um...things like that,” Seokjin says, his ears turning red. “But that’s their money. They can do whatever they want. I just...I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think it was important. The money and all of that shit. I wanted to, you know, carve my own path in a way.”
Jungkook relaxes a little and hesitates before he sits down on the bed next to him. “And I’m proud of you for that. I just...I kind of wish you told me. Sorry for freaking out on you. I’m just a bit overwhelmed right now.”
“No, it’s okay. You have every right to. I really should have told you.”
“Do your parents know?” Jungkook asks suddenly.
“Me. Like. All of me. What I am. Who I am.”
“They know we’ve been dating the last two and a half years. I told them you work in music. I don’t...really tell my parents much,” Seokjin says, swallowing. “But they’re very much...stuck on the idea that you’re a music producer.”
“They’re what? I mean, that’s what I want to be, eventually, I’m working towards that, but really ?”
“I’m sorry!” Seokjin says, holding his hands up defensively, “Like I said, I don’t talk to them as often--”
“They think I’m a music producer? ”
“I’m sorry,” Seokjin rubs at his face. “I mentioned that you produce music, and my mom went with it.”
“On the side for now! Oh my god. I’m. I’m literally going to die on this trip, aren’t I?” Jungkook’s rubbing his temples now, falling back against the bed. “I’m going to die. Your family is going to kill me where I stand.”
“They’re not,” Seokjin reasons, scooting up next to him. “And it’s technically not 100% a lie.”
“You didn’t bother to clarify,” Jungkook groans. “That’s the thing, Jin, you didn’t bother to clarify. God, this is embarrassing.”
“I’m sorry! I was put in a corner. It’s difficult with my mom!”
Jungkook sucks in a breath, and exhales loudly. “So what are we going to tell your mom? Should I pretend to be some fucking hotshot producer?”
“I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Seokjin asks, frowning. “The truth’s probably better.”
Jungkook looks up at the white ceiling of the plane, hands folded over his stomach. He’d wanted to be a producer ever since he was in university; he’d even gotten an internship at a small indie label during his senior year two years ago, but after graduation, nothing ever really worked out for him. He did produce and work on a few tracks for his friends’ Soundclouds over the last few years, using the mini studio at the music academy he teaches at, but mainly focused on saving money and teaching. So Seokjin isn’t completely in the wrong, letting his parents believe that Jungkook’s a producer—
Maybe, the more he says it, he’ll finally believe it himself, and get back to work once they return from Seoul. It’ll be nice to sound less like a failure.
Seokjin starts: “We can just clarify with my mom if and when she asks—“
Jungkook holds up a hand. “No, it’s fine. You’re not wrong.”
Seokjin blinks at him. “Huh?”
“If she asks, I’m just gonna say that I’m a full-time producer. Good practice for the future, right?”
“I...yeah?” Seokjin says, a little dubious. “Really?”
“It’s about time I take ownership of what I want to do, I think,” Jungkook nods slowly, gears running in his head. “Just tell her I’m the mysterious Agust D,” he jokes, referencing South Korea’s top-selling rapper and producer, known for their secret identity.
“Agust D,” Seokjin snorts. “No one knows who Agust D really is.”
“Exactly. Just...gonna stroll up to your mom’s place: hello, Mrs. Kim, I’m Jeon Jungkook, also known as Agust D.”
Seokjin laughs. “That would be funny. Kinda scary, though.”
“Better than telling her I give music lessons to supposed prodigies who are just gonna quit in a few years.”
“Jungkook…” Seokjin looks worried, taking his hand.
“I’m kidding.” He’s half-kidding. “Plus, we’re just...sugarcoating the truth a bit.”
“Okay. If it gets to be too much, we’re gonna cut it out,” Seokjin says firmly. “Got it?”
Jungkook shrugs. “Got it.”
“Though, I’d rather you be yourself from the get-go,” Seokjin reasons, brows furrowed in concern.
“Eh, that can be a little boring, sometimes, right?” Jungkook says, scrunching his nose and picking up the fancy blanket again, running his hands over the smooth fabric.
“Okay, Mr. 2013 Tumblr.”
Jungkook picks up a pillow and whacks Seokjin gently, chuckling. “We’re doing this.”
“We are doing this.”
They nod to each other and silently stow their backpacks away for takeoff; Jungkook further explores their suite, pressing buttons and flipping through menus, quietly taking note of his preferred meal for later - a very expensive-sounding steak and a tasty-sounding cocktail.
“I wonder how many business deals have gone down in here,” he jokes, pointing at the table by his reclining chair.
Seokjin snorts as he slips on his airline-provided slippers. “Who knows?”
The captain’s voice comes up over the speakers, telling the passengers to put on their safety belts, and two of them move to sit on their leather seats, buckling in and looking at each other; Seokjin winks at Jungkook, who shoots back two thumbs up.
Jungkook feels that nervous thrumming in his heart again as the plane prepares for take-off.
“Singapore Airlines flight SQ 5701, Los Angeles to Incheon, ready for takeoff.”