Actions

Work Header

Band-Aids for Broken Dreams.

Chapter Text

we rise with the moon.

 

Silence strangles him.

In his mind’s eye, he’s grasping for purchase, desperate for foothold to steady the soundless storm in his head. 

Because there's nothing more exasperating than pulling on your comfiest pair of pajamas, putting on a face mask and then tucking yourself into bed... only to find yourself staring up at the ceiling two hours later.

Unlike most people, Jimin doesn't need caffeine to stay awake at night.

Dead silence shrouds the half-empty space of his bedroom, so quiet that it’s defeaning, in a way that puts graveyards to shame. Sometimes he wishes the heating vents overhead would develop a voice of their own so he’d have something to imagine talking to – whir, hum. Hello, human. Why are you still awake? Slivers of light stream through the thin gaps in his window blinds, casting the room in horizontal patterns of light-shadow, light-shadow.

Against all the muted-ness of the world, there are sirens blaring in his head, and that’s the problem.

Grumbling to himself, Jimin tosses and turns, before settling back down to laying flat against the mattress and throwing the blanket over his head. The mattress squeaks as though protesting against his restlessness. He sighs. Shifts his gaze back to the bare ceiling.

It's been like this ever since he moved to the city, into his new apartment. Taehyung says he's just 'adjusting', but it's been a month – surely he'd be used to it by now. With another sigh, Jimin yanks off the blanket from his face.

“One,” he counts, imagining sheep hopping across his vision. “Two. Three.”

He counts until he reaches 842 sheep—he’s good at math like that—and even then, his eyelids are nowhere near heavy. With mounting worry, Jimin glances at his digital clock.

3:43am. He’s supposed to be up in about three hours.

So he Google searches—

 

‘how to fall asleep in one minute’

 

—and tries out some of the suggestions recommended by so-called experts. According to the articles, he’s experiencing some type of ‘adrenaline rush’ due to stress induced by restlessness or overactive chemicals in his brain or whatever.

Jimin sits up and tries the breathing exercises, picturing himself as a yoga master in his mind’s eye, but to no avail. He’s still as fidgety as ever.

Next step: ASMR.

He’s heard a lot of positive feedback when it comes to that, so then he plugs in his earphones, scrolls through a few famous YouTube ASMR channels, and clicks on one with over 2 million views. The artist brings out a few materials to make sounds with, like shower gloves and lotion.

At the sound of a comb brushing against the mic, Jimin cringes.

When the artist starts lathering lotion over and over her own fingertips to mimic the sounds of massaging, Jimin nearly wheezes from the slimy, sticky noise squelching in his ears. He yanks the earphones out with a disgusted frown.

These are supposed to be considered 'comforting sounds'? Really, seriously?

With a whimper, Jimin tears off the earphones from his ears. He stands up from his bed and paces the length of his room, sucking his cheeks in and pursing his lips in worry.

What’s he supposed to do?

Scrolling through his phone, he settles on listening to some music for the time being, but when even that doesn’t work—partly owing to the fact that most of his playlist songs are upbeat, Hip Hop tracks—Jimin swipes off the music app and growls to himself, frustrated.

It’s at this point of the night—when the world is dark and quiet but the mind is chaos-ridden—that Jimin feels the most helpless.

Trying to steady his breathing, he sits on the edge of his bed and hangs his head low between his shoulders, burying his hair in his hands. Tears sting his eyes.

Let me sleep.

Because sleep is the only break he gets from the noise of the world, and to have even that taken away from him seems much too cruel. Too unfair.

With trembling fingers, he swipes at his phone screen desperately, as if doing so would show him an app that could grant him reprieve. And maybe it does, because somehow his haphazard swiping leads him to pressing on the radio app.

Jimin scoffs and raises an eyebrow. Radio? Who even listens to that nowadays?

He’s expecting to hear only static from his phone speakers, because it’s nearly 4am, so surely stations would be down.

But much to his surprise, there’s... a voice. A talking voice.

Startled, Jimin blinks, frown deepening as he strains his ears to listen:

“...and this is your DJ AgustD, staying up with you all night until the sun rises...”

Yep, there’s a graveyard radio show on-air right now. For reasons unknown to him, Jimin’s heart constricts, and his stomach swoops with a feeling he doesn’t have a name for.

Some voices, he muses, are just meant to be heard, as if the universe decided to magically grant certain people unique vocal charisma privileges at birth. Here is one of them—low and modulated and chocolate-smooth. Goosebumps ghost over Jimin’s arms, and he sits up a bit straighter, attention focused on the host. 

“...the perfect playlist for night owls like me,” the radio host – AgustD – drawls, sending shivers rippling down Jimin’s spine, yet calming his pulse at the same time. “And speaking of night owls, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, I’ve got just the song for you: I Need Some Sleep by Eels.”

The first few notes of a gentle song comes on, and perhaps it’s magic but Jimin finally yawns. It goes:

 

I need some sleep
It can't go on like this
I tried counting sheep
But there's one I always miss
Everyone says I'm getting down too low
Everyone says you just gotta let it go

 

It’s like AgustD—whoever he is—knows exactly how Jimin is feeling, and played exactly the lullaby he needs. As the muscles along Jimin’s neck and shoulder lose tension, he scoots back up to rest his head against his pillow. With another yawn, his eyelids begin to weigh heavy.

When the DJ’s voice comes back on, Jimin starts snoring.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

It turns into a routine.

One where Jimin needs AgustD’s voice every night in order to fall asleep. For reasons unknown to him, the man’s soft baritone works like a charm on his overly restless mind. He still can’t doze off on his own, but whereas he’d been a man struggling to breathe underwater before, now it feels like he’s been giving an oxygen tank to help him cope.

He supposes it must not be very healthy, because what if the graveyard radio show gets discontinued one day? But it’s not like he has a choice, so Jimin decides to go with the flow. For the next two weeks, he tunes in to AgustD’s radio show, which he found out starts at 3am and ends at 6am.

Jimin’s body clock readjusts itself so that he only starts to snooze in the wee hours of the morning, and while it’s not ideal, at least he gets to sleep. So while it’s not good, it’s not bad either. In the okay-ness spectrum, he’s somewhere between “I’m Fine” and “Save Me”.

Sometimes he just turns on the radio station - KkulFM 93.1 – to put AgustD’s voice as background white noise for him to fall asleep to. Jimin likes to imagine that there’s someone in the room with him, close and comforting, talking lowly while he dozes off. Other times he actually listens and pays attention to the radio host – AgustD is sarcastic and witty with his commentary, with a penchant for dry humor, and he always finds ways to make his shows seem so fresh each week.

Then one night, as he taps open the radio app on his phone, Jimin hears only static.

Static, like with every other radio station at this time of the mornight. Static, like a broken TV.

His stomach lurches and coils with dread, and he grips his phone harder. No. No, it can’t be. With each passing second he lays rigid in the trappings of his duvet, the static noise only grows in his ears as though taunting him.

He doesn’t get a wink of shut-eye that night, nor the night afterwards, because wherever AgustD has gone, it seems he’s still not back, and Jimin fears he might never.

So it’s fast approaching 2am the day after when Jimin—eyes bloodshot and cheeks hollow against the planes of his skull—drags himself down to the convenience store downstairs.

“!!!!” goes the black-haired guy behind the cash register, doing a double take the moment Jimin sets foot into the store. His face screams youthfulness, if those shining doe eyes are anything go by, and much to Jimin’s chagrin, he stands a head taller than him. “Wah. I thought you were roleplaying a character from a zombie apocalypse or something,” he remarks. Then, seeming to remember his manners, he dips his head in a quick bow. “Welcome.”

Jimin doesn’t have the energy to make a snarky comeback, but he glances down to note the cashier’s name—

“Jeon Jungkook,” he slurs, half leaning against an aisle of chocolates and snacks. “You got anything for insomnia?”

Jungkook hesitates and scratches the back of his ear, tilting his head this way and that as he tries to remember. “I don’t think this is a pharmacy...” he mutters to himself before his eyes brighten with a light bulb glint, “…but we do have some flavored condoms!”

Jimin chokes on air and turns it into a series of sputtering coughs, caught off-guard. “What?”

Grin turning cheeky, Jungkook says, “Sex helps people sleep better at night.” He shrugs like it’s nothing, but it’s a smug flex and he knows it. “I’m like, really educated and way ahead of my time, you know.”

Jimin gawps at him. Is this kid even legal? Teenagers nowadays.

“I’m nineteen,” Jungkook shares smugly, as if reading his thoughts. “Just saying.”

“Well, yeah, whatever. Listen. There are two S’s that people like,” Jimin says. “Sex and sleep. You might have gotten the wrong idea, because I’m looking to lay down and—“

“Get laid?”

“And SLEEP,” Jimin finishes curtly.

Jungkook nods in grave understanding, unaffected at best. “Well, good luck, hyung-nim. Can’t help you in that department. Sorry.”

Jimin’s shoulders droop, and if possible, his posture sags even further. “It’s fine.”

Just as he turns to go, though, Jungkook mentions, “Y’know, you’re a lot like him.”

"Like who?" Jimin glances over his shoulder.

"My brother. Hyung doesn't sleep much too, so he got himself a graveyard shift." Jungkook's eyes turn rueful, taking on a faraway glaze. "People call him lazy for sleeping all day, but he overworks himself while everyone sleeps, so who's the real winner here?"

"O...kay." Jimin nods politely, unsure whether to indulge the kid in his big bro complex. "He and I are in the same boat, then. I hope he's doing better than I am."

Jungkook shakes his head, sighing. "He's sick right now, so you're definitely in a better place than him."

They chat for a few moments more, before Jimin finally pushes off from where he's leaning against the counter and heads out, the cool air from the fan overhead swooshing through his cheeks as he steps out of the entrance.

"Wait!" Jungkook calls him back one last time.

Jimin turns around, expectant.

"Sorry if it's a bother..." Jungkook fiddles with the hem of his uniform, shy and reluctant. "But can I ask you for a favor? I need to check in on my hyung, but I can't exactly leave halfway through my shift here, so..."

As understanding registers in his brain, Jimin nods.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

As it turns out, Jungkook and his older brother live on the same floor as Jimin.

So here he is now, standing awkwardly in front of the light blue door next to his flat, one finger just a few centimeters shy of pressing the doorbell. A cool rush of autumn air breezes past his neck, and all Jimin wants to do is to step indoors. Anywhere would do.

And yet.

He’s hesitating. Why is he hesitating? He shouldn’t be hesitating.

I signed up for this, he reminds himself, before releasing a short exhale and rolling his shoulders back. No clue why, but he feels like he’s about to enter a warzone here. Jimin glances at his wristwatch. 2.30am. Jungkook’s brother would probably be asleep right now, right?

Or maybe not. Jimin makes a face, remembering how the cashier mentioned that his hyung isn’t huge on sleep, either.

While he’d like to make the excuse that nobody would answer the door, Jungkook—way too trusting for his own good—had entrusted him with their apartment’s six-digit security passcode. Him, a total stranger! Be that as it may, Jimin finds himself with no reason to say nobody answered the door.

Good thing he’s polite, and decides to ring the doorbell before trying to unlock the door.

The air stills, and the chill of the night seeps into Jimin’s skin as he stands there for a few uneasy seconds, waiting. He scuffs the toe of his shoes against the floor, waiting.

He waits.

He presses the doorbell again, and when it strikes clear that nobody’s going to answer, Jimin sighs and reaches for the security lock to type in the passcode. But just as he presses the first three numbers, the door before him unbolts and wrenches backwards to open wide.

With a small yelp, Jimin freezes in place, standing with one hand reaching for the doorknob while the other clutches a plain white plastic bag of medicine.

Well. This is awkward. He gulps thickly. What if someone thinks he’s trying to break in? “This isn’t what it looks like—“ he lifts his gaze, and forgets what he’s supposed to say.

When Jungkook mentioned something about an older brother, Jimin pictured someone middle-aged; one with an unkempt, bushy beard stained with pizza sauce and too much brawn to account for.

But no. This one is not quite what he imagined, but Jimin can’t say he’s disappointed. Far from it, actually. Before him stands a man, or a boy, or perhaps a man-boy: because while his face looks young and his jet-black hair is streaked with quirky, metallic silver strands, his eyes hold depth and wisdom beyond his years.

Eyes with bags underneath that would put Prada to shame.

Here stands a man who looks like a reflection of Jimin, in terms of sleeplessness.

Despite his sunken cheeks, there’s a slight flush over his milky skin—probably from fever. His lips are chapped from lack of water (that can’t be good, right?) and he’s dressed in black rumpled Kumamon pajamas.

He’s also peering up blearily at Jimin, eyes narrowed and hazy with sleep.

Jimin parts his mouth and closes them. What are words. What are words? Clearing his throat, he forces his lips to move. “Um. Sorry to intrude?”

The guy blinks, then glances down at the plastic bag he’s holding.

“Oh. Yeah.” Jimin passes it to him in one hurried motion. “Your brother sent me. Jungkook, the one from the convenience store?”

Understanding sinks into the guy’s eyes, and he nods once. When he reaches forward and unhooks the plastic bag from his curled fingers, Jimin holds his breath and purses his lips.

He’s nowhere near a hopeless romantic—he’s got a lot more realistic things to worry about—but he could’ve sworn there was an electric zing! that shot through him when their fingerbrushed.

Quick as a flash, Jimin pulls his clammy hand back and tucks it in his pocket, suddenly self-conscious. Now he wishes he’d gone back home even just for a few seconds to change out of his stupid elephant-print pajamas and plain brown hoodie. Not that he's looking to impress anyone, but he hopes to look at least somewhat socially presentable in front of cute creatures.

“I’m your new neighbor, by the way,” he adds, hooking a finger over his shoulder, towards his own front door – drab and grey. Jimin holds out a hand for a handshake, lips curving up into a small smile that he hopes looks confident. “Just moved in next door last month.”

Jungkook’s older brother nods once more, and reaches a hand out...

...to grip the front door’s handle, and pull it in to swing it closed.

Jimin blinks, his hand still hovering mid-air. Huh?

“Wait!” he cries, wedging an arm in the space between the threshold and the door right before it clicks shut.

The guy lifts a questioning eyebrow at him in surprise, and leaves the door ajar.

Jimin doesn’t know why, but he doesn’t want one of the few human interactions he’s had in the last few weeks (aside from convenience store cashiers and supermarket counter employees) to end this quickly. Call him an opportunist all you want, but only now is Jimin finding out how… cute… his neighbor is, and he’s not about to leave before at least knowing his name.

“What, no ‘thank you’?” he asks jovially, keeping the smile on his face. “No introductions or anything? I’m Jimin.”

Something akin to perplexion crosses the guy’s face and he sighs, button nose wrinkling.

Jimin’s shoulders deflate, and he steps backwards, taking that as a sign to leave. His hand drops to his side. “I mean, it’s okay if you’re not in the mood to. Make sure to take your meds, yeah? Guess I’ll just... go.”

He turns on his heel, but a hand closes around his wrist. Jimin stares at the pale hand on top of his skin, and looks up.

Face still pinched, the guy parts his lips and mouths the words, ‘Thank you’ in Jimin’s direction.

Jimin frowns. Why isn’t he talking? “Are you... are you okay?”

Another sigh. Clearing his throat, the guy opens his mouth... to produce a dry, croaking sound. Like the Grinch’s voice when he growls all angry and agitated.

“Oh. Ohhh. I see. Sore throat?” Jimin ventures, stepping forward again before his mind can register what his feet are doing.

All at once, relief smoothens the guy’s expression, and he nods limply, lower lip jutting out in the picture of a kicked puppy.

Poor thing. Jimin steals a quick glance at the apartment behind him, and notes that the space is in the hallway is cluttered with random boxes and junk; the air is stuffy. Not an ideal environment for the sick.

He knows he might regret what he’s about to do, but Jimin has never been the type to abandon those in need. Once, he picked up a 50-cent coin and returned it to the police station, fearing someone might go homeless without their money.

He gives a wry smile. “Have you eaten yet?”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Why am I doing this? Jimin wonders as he prepares broth in the middle of his neighbors’ kitchen. There’s not much in their fridge, but he’s scavenged the cupboards enough to find ample ingredients to make at least one decent bowl of porridge.

What am I trying to achieve? he thinks quietly when he instructs Sick Fellow to stay under the covers in bed when Jimin brings the tray over. With a sullen sneeze, Sick Fellow complies.

Who is he? Jimin doesn’t even know his name.

Through it all, Jungkook’s older brother watches him fuss around the house with a wary sort of reluctance, as if he’s uncomfortable with being attended to. Once or twice he tried to usher Jimin out, but Jimin doesn’t relent.

He won’t be sleeping anyway, so he might as well.

“So,” Jimin begins, sitting on the edge of the mattress as he picks up a small and hands it to Sick Fellow. “Is there anything I should call you by, or are you okay with Kumamon Dude?”

He watches the guy’s eyes grow amused before he snorts his soup through his nose at the term and levels Jimin with a look that seems to say, “Really?”

Grinning, Jimin points to the guy’s pajama-clad body. “I was just making a wild guess.”

In spite of his haggard appearance, Sick Kumamon Dude’s face morphs with the upwards twitch of his mouth. Even in the dim, warm glow of his bedside lamp, Jimin can imagine just what kind of charm his smile might possibly hold in tip-top health. Just one embarrassed smile, and the guy’s initial aloof demeanor changes.

Setting his bowl on the bedside table, he clears his throat before croaking out hoarsely, “You.... gi.”

Jimin cocks his head to one side. “I... what?”

Kumamon Dude shakes his head, and Jimin leans forward closer so that he can hear him whisper, soft but clearer now:

“Yoongi.”

He’s answering Jimin’s question. “Ohhh.” Nodding, Jimin sits back and regards him intently.

Yoongi. What a name. He’s the first Yoongi that Jimin has ever met. Names have power, or so he’d like to think, and he’s glad to learn this guy’s name.

“Nice to meet you, Yoongi.” He extends one hand, smiling shyly. It takes a heartbeat, maybe two, before Yoongi stops staring at his small hand and reaches out with his own. They shake hands, and Jimin is surprised by how stone-cold Yoongi’s hands are, for a feverish man.

Somewhere deep inside him, he thinks it might be nice to warm them up.

So he doesn’t let go, even when their handshake lingers far longer than it should. Yoongi doesn’t either, and Jimin guesses he must’ve read his mind. He smiles.

It’s strange. It’s not everyday we meet people that we just... click with, like second homes in a city of lost souls.

It’s not everyday Jimin finds hands like Yoongi’s.

He shouldn’t be this comfortable—heck, they’d only met literally an hour ago—and he shouldn’t be feeling so at ease, but somehing about Yoongi’s quiet calmness makes Jimin... yawn.

He freezes.

Yawn?

He doesn’t ever do that.

It must be infectious to insomniacs, because like some sort of mirrored joke, Yoongi presses a fist to his mouth to cover his own yawn, too.

Jimin glances at the clock. 3.30am. Usually, he’d be listening to AgustD’s voice by now, head lolling sideways as he slowly dozes off to each lilting sentence. Funny how his eyelids are drooping even though he’s not tuned in to his favourite DJ at the moment. Perhaps it’s the fatigue finally catching up to him.

“Sorry, I’ll clean up after you finish eating and go,” Jimin mumbles, voice muffled, rubbing at his eyes. “I don’t usually feel this sleepy.”

He stands, turning to hurry out of the room to fetch some lozenges for Yoongi, but not before hearing a soft, “Same.”

When Jimin returns, he makes sure to make Yoongi suck on a piece of lozenge. While waiting—or stalling, really—he sits down at the spot he’d previously sat.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping at home?” Yoongi whisper-croaks at him, eyebrows creased, and the crack in his voice makes Jimin grimace.

“I don’t sleep very well,” Jimin shares, wringing his hands together. “So it’s not a—“ he stifles another yawn, “...big deal.”

Yoongi looks dubious, but he doesn’t comment further, and his gentle gaze is the last thing Jimin remembers because the next thing he knows, his body is tipping forward and he face-plants into the duvet, knocked out cold.

Not more than ten minutes later, Yoongi falls asleep, too.

They remain like that for the rest of the night, literally sleeping in one bed together, a packet of lozenges and an unwashed bowl left forgotten on the beside table.

And when Jungkook comes home at the crack of dawn, he grins wide and mutters, “They better have used condoms.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Too bad that’s the last time Jimin gets a fitful night’s rest, at least for a while.

Because now, two days later on a Monay morning, he’s back to being a walking zombie. As comforting as Yoongi’s presence might have been, Jimin doesn’t exactly want to mortify himself again. Waking up entangled next to Yoongi the following day had been embarrassing enough.

Jimin can still remember the way realization dawned on him the same way the morning sun filtered through the window; can still remember Jungkook looming over them with a knowing smirk on his face.

“This is not what it looks like,” he’d reasoned, and Jungkook had nodded, that crooked grin ever-present on his face.

“Wasn’t saying anything,” the cashier said, tone still suggestive but quiet—Yoongi was still sleeping. “But I hope hyung’s feeling... better.”

Whatever ‘better’ meant, Jimin didn’t stay long enough to find out.

So nope. Trying to maybe-sorta doze off beside Yoongi again is out of the question, regardless of Jimin’s pure intentions. What’s he gonna do—knock on his neighbor’s door with a pillow in tow and ask to sleep together?

Unrealistic. They’re not even that close.

And so Monday chugs along like a rusty train, until morning turns to afternoon, and afternoon bleeds to dusk.

By the time the clock hits 3AM again, Jimin reaches for his phone out of habit, blinking at the heavy contrast of blue light in his eyes against the room’s darkness.

He licks his lower lip, and realizes that his hands have gone clammy. Closing his eyes to brace himself, Jimin presses the radio app, expecting nothing but empty, grey static once again.

It’s not.

 

“Now that he's back from that soul vacation;
Tracing his way through the constellation, hey, hey...”

 

Music pours into Jimin’s ears, filling his heart with liquid sunlight. With a gasp, his eyes fly open and he sits upright in bed.

 

“Now that he's back in the atmosphere;
With drops of Jupiter in his hair, hey, hey...”

 

Jimin gasps softly, and he all but slumps and melts into his mattress. He’s relieved. He’s so fucking relieved it feels like he might dance along the light of the stars tonight.

As the last few chords fade down, he sighs and relaxes against the headboard of his bed.

 

“And are you lonely looking for yourself out there?”

 

The song is over, but Jimin’s night has only just begun. He lays down with bated breath, waiting for the radio host to start their ment, because he has to make sure. He has to make sure that it’s—

“‘Drops Of Jupiter’ by train, and you’re here with me, DJ AgustD tonight until...”

Jimin bites back a squeal, fingers clutching his blankets tight, and maybe he’s a little too happy, because there’s suddenly a teardrop escaping his left eye.

It’s just a voice. It’s just a radio show. He knows that, but hey, people are strange—we form deep attachments to random things without ever realizing it.

“Tonight I’m finally back after a brief—and I quote the song, “soul vacation”—and you know what?” AgustD continues.

“What?” Jimin asks into the empty air.

“With this comeback, we’re gonna try something new, alright?” AgustD chuckles into the microphone, voice husky like boots against gravel.

Jimin shifts his position so that he’s lying down on his right side, phone tucked close to his chest.

“I’m taking song requests for the 1st hour of the show,” AgustD informs. “So if you’ve got any dedications or burning requests, drop me a call through the hotline, xxxx-xxxx.”

Eyes widening, Jimin’s back stiffens. His heart pounds against his ribcage, and his mouth goes dry. This is the man whose voice has been lulling him to sleep for the past few weeks. Jimin has always pegged him as someone untouchable, unreachable—like a faraway mirage.

It has never once crossed his mind that he may one day get the chance to converse with him one-on-one, or that AgustD is an actual living, breathing person.

Him? Talk to AgustD? How? Jimin gulps, a rush of anxiety and adrenaline surging through his veins. Taehyung had always told him he has to ‘YOLO’ more in life, so maybe this is his chance.

With trembling fingers, Jimin dials the hotline, pulse racing when the other end of the line starts ringing.

AgustD picks up not more than two rings later. “Hello?”

Jimin’s heart seizes and stutters, and his breath catches in his throat. He curls into fetal position like a spasming shrimp, trying not to scream because– come on, this is AgustD!

The DJ is smooth and professional in his job, though, and notes Jimin’s stunned silence. “Hey there, anonymous caller, this is your DJ AgustD. So. Who’s on the line speaking?”

His words snap Jimin out of his idol-worship reverie. “Oh. Uh.” He scratches his nose. “I’m... you can call me J.”

“Alright, Jay. How’s it going this fine night?” AgustD asks, making casual chat seem so easy. “Or morning, technically speaking.”

Jimin fumbles for words. “G-good. Very good.”

‘Cause of you.

“That’s lovely to hear, and I hope it only gets better for you here onwards. So, have you got any song requests you’d like to hear on air?”

Jimin blinks, belatedly realizing that in his sheer excitement, he’s actually forgotten the whole purpose of this call. In his panic, he blurts out the song he heard playing the other day, at the convenience store where Jungkook works at.

“Through The Night,” Jimin whispers into his phone. “By IU, please.”

AgustD hums in acknowledgment. “Stellar choice. Anyone this song is going out to?”

Jimin doesn’t think twice. Maybe it’s the warmth of being under his blanket making him feel bold, daring even, but Jimin wants to dedicate it to—

 “You.”

A pregnant pause, and Jimin feels like his heart might cave in, or the sky might come crashing down over his head at any given moment. If AgustD is surprised, he hides it like a pro. With one chuckling exhale, he says, “Hmm? Really? That’s very sweet of you, but are you sure?”

Jimin nods like his head was made for nodding, before realizing that this isn’t a face-to-face conversation.

But still. There’s so much conviction, so much yearning bubbling up inside of him; he wants to let the DJ know that he’s the sole reason he ever really sleeps nowadays.

“Yes,” he bites out with a quaver in his voice, his throat getting choked up. “Please accept it as a form of t-thanks from me. I just—” Before long, Jimin is sniffling into the phone, the faucet of his eyes switching on without his permission. “I’m so happy I found you,” he sobs.

Now he’s done it. He’s really gone and had an emotional meltdown on a live broadcast. Shame and embarrassment pulse through Jimin like a wild beast, and before AgustD can respond to his words, he clicks off and ends the call. He doesn’t want to humiliate the DJ on-air, too.

Little does Jimin know, that that’s not how a radio broadcast works.

(In truth, DJs have time—15 minutes at most—to record, edit and make a live call sound as best as it can possibly be before allowing it to go on air.)

Although he wants to turn off the radio, Jimin is curious.

So he stays tuned, and is wholly impressed and appeased when his “live call” with AgustD turns out just fine, normal even. There’s none of his emotional outburst, and their conversation sounds so convincing and smooth on-air that Jimin even second-guesses himself. Maybe he imagined his entire meltdown? Because whoever this AgustD DJ is, he’s a whole pro with sound mixing and audio editing software.

After the call request, when IU’s gentle vibrato starts trilling through his earphones, Jimin is convinced he can finally unwind and relax... when his phone lights up once more.

[Unknown number calling...]

Frowning, Jimin squints at his phone screen, baffled. Who the hell could be calling him at fucking 3:45am?

He doesn’t trust unknown numbers—they could be phishers or random sales people from the other side of the world—so he quickly swipes the red icon to reject the call. But then his phone lights up again, and with an exasperated groan, Jimin picks up his phone. Stupid salespeople.

“Wrong number,” he snaps. “Sorry, but whatever you’re selling, I’m not interested.”

There’s silence on the other end, and only then does Jimin’s nerves start to thrum.

“Wow,” a voice breathes, deep and bemused. “Okay, sorry, maybe I do have the wrong number?”

Jimin’s breath hitches, and all sound in his ears screech to a stop. No way. 

“Excuse me one second,” he tells AgustD, heart in his throat.

Flailing wildly, Jimin yeets his earphones off, smashes his face into his pillow, and screeches.

 

Chapter Text

of white noise and 4 o'clock rhythms.

 

Deep breaths, Park Jimin. He can’t allow himself to faint halfway through the Call of The Century. Plugging his earpiece back on, Jimin all but stammers, “Okay. Back. Sorry ‘bout that and um, hi.”

Hi. How intelligent of him. How worldly. Hell, maybe he needs to smack his deep-fried brain cells to life.

“Hey.” AgustD’s voice floats into his ears, and a symphony kicks up in Jimin’s chest. “Is this... anonymous caller J?”

It takes Jimin three seconds to remember what name he told the DJ. “Ah. Y-yeah. Yes, that’s definitely me, J! Your friendly neighborhood alphabet letter! Haha.”

Inwardly, he kicks himself and cringes. Brain cells, brain cells, where art thou?

But AgustD just chortles, amused, and Jimin can practically hear the smile in his laugh. “Well, that’s a relief,” he says. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to sell anything, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Jimin shakes his head vehemently, even though he knows this is a verbal phone call and nobody could see him in the thick of the night, in the safety of his room. “No! Not at all. And even if you were peddling rice cakes, I’d probably order a dozen from you.”

At this point, he clamps his mouth shut and curses himself to the moon. Keep it together. “I mean, it’s cool. Yeah.”

This time, AgustD laughs outright. It’s a sound Jimin hasn’t heard on-air before, in all the time he’s spent tuning in to KkulFM – pure, unbridled joy rings out and dances its way into his ears. And although his face must be blazing rouge, Jimin doesn’t care as he grins so hard his cheeks hurt, because in the darkness of his bedroom there’s only him and his heartbeat and his favorite voice wrapping around him like a security blanket.

“Listen, I don’t have that much time to talk right now,” AgustD says, “since I’m still in the middle of my show and I snuck away for this call while there’s a playlist I’ve set on-air. But I was worried.”

Jimin’s brows lift in surprise. “Hmm?”

The DJ clears his throat, taking a second to reply. “Are you uh, are you okay?”

“What do you mean?” Jimin asks, sitting up cross-legged as his fingers pick at loose threads on his pillowcase.

“Just... you hung up so quickly earlier,” the DJ quips. “And it sounded like you were crying? I played back the call a coupla times and yeah, I thought maybe I upset you?”

Suppressing a groan, Jimin buries his face in his hands. “It wasn’t anything you said. I promise. It was just...” He dips his head low and licks his lower lip. What could have prompted him to blubber like that? “You ever wonder why…we cry when we’re sad, and we cry when we’re happy? I think I was finally figuring out how tears work, and what they are.”

Though he must be feeling mystified by Jimins’ words, AgustD only huffs out a bemused half-scoff and a half-laugh. “And that would be?”

“Tears are…” Jimin muses quietly, “…tears are what feelings look like when our bodies can’t contain them.”

AgustD doesn’t say anything for a moment, and Jimin fears he’s gone too far yet again, talking to a stranger this way. They’re not even friends, and there’s no reason for Jimin to act like he’s having an in-depth, heart-to-heart talk with a buddy at 3am in the morning. But that’s the thing about loneliness – sometimes it gets so big it spills out of your body at the most unexpected times, to the most unexpected people.

He bites down on his inner cheeks and tells himself to be more careful next time, keep his emotions in check.

The DJ remains quiet, and Jimin almost hangs up, but then: “That’s a very unique way of putting it.”

He doesn’t say it like a mockingly, as though he’s just heard a ridiculous joke, and Jimin cracks a small smile of appreciation. In ways more than one, it feels like AgustD is trying to tell him, It’s okay.

So Jimin continues his line of reasoning, “I just have a lot of feelings, I guess, and they get worse at night when I can’t sleep.” He lets out a breath he didn’t realize he’s been holding. “You know?”

“I know.” AgustD’s response is immediate, and Jimin’s heart calms.

Now that they’re talking like this—not for the public to hear, but one-on-one between two private people—he feels like perhaps AgustD isn’t too different of a person from him after all. That they’re both human, with the complexes and troubles of any other random pedestrian on the street.

Jimin sucks in a breath. “Are you a night owl, too?” He doesn’t say the term insomnia. It sounds far too macabre for a first conversation like this.

Silence answers his question, and Jimin fears he’s prying for information that’s too personal, but then AgustD chuckles softly. “Yeah.”

“Ahh.” Jimin nods. “I guess you understand how troublesome it is to close your eyes but not your mind, then. Lmao.”

He purses his lips and closes his eyes. Damn it. He did not just say “LMAO” in a verbal conversation, did he?

To his surprise, the DJ goes with his flow. “Yeah. It’s awful. I get the worst headaches sometimes.” A cough escapes him, which makes Jimin’s mouth twitch south. “Actually I was sick for a few days, so I couldn’t go on-air for a while.”

Oh. Now Jimin understands where he’s disappeared off to all this time. “Well, I’m glad you’re recovering. If you’re ever lonely or in need of a buddy, you know where to find me,” he comments, half-joking. “Your friendly J-dude.”

He doesn’t expect the DJ to respond in kind. “I will... J. I’m glad you’re alright.”

Jimin’s heart thumps against his ribcage at the drop in AgustD’s voice. Why does that sound far more personal than a casual comment? This person on the phone is just a stranger, one of seven billion, and yet for all reasons unknown he makes Jimin’s chest tighten and thud.

He thanks AgustD for checking in, and in a hazy rush of adrenaline and bravery, nearly blurts out his real name when AgustD cuts their conversation short, but just then-

“The set’s almost over,” notes the DJ. “I gotta go.”

Jimin blinks and curls his fingers around the hem of his blanket, his real name teetering over his tongue’s cliff edge. Reality sinks back in. Right. The radio.

“Of course. The show. Yeah. You need to be there to host it.” Jimin starts his farewell ment, heart sinking at the prospect of having this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity end way too soon.

But then—

“Will you still tune in?” AgustD asks, and Jimin swears he hears hope there.

“Huh?”

“I’m going on-air in thirty seconds. Listen close, okay?”

Before Jimin can form a coherent reply, the line goes dead.

But the night’s only just begun.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

4 o’clock in the morning, Jimin notes from his bedside digital clock. Settling back under his duvet, he plugs in his earphones, and as soon as he does, AgustD’s voice fills his ears once more.

“...and that wraps up the last song request of the night, thanks everyone for staying up with me,” narrates the DJ, his tone conversational yet professional. “But before we go, it’s my turn.”

Jimin frowns, curiosity spiking.

“I’d like to dedicate a song to someone tonight.”

Jimin’s spine goes rigid, and he lays very, very still on his bed. It can’t be, right?

“This one goes out to my first anonymous caller tonight. Here’s to you, J,” AgustD murmurs, and Jimin is positive his lungs have stopped taking in air. “Thanks for the dedication, by the way.”

Exhilarated and stunned as he may be, Jimin is surprised to feel tears prickling the corners of his eyes. He blinks them away, and they land on his pillowcase, staining it dark green against the rest of his sheets.

It’s a nice feeling; knowing you’re not alone. It’s a nice feeling; knowing somebody out there cares enough to reach out.

The soft, opening notes of a new song start to play:

 

One day
I wrote a long, long letter to the moon
It would not be brighter than you 

Following into the deep night
The sound of you singing
Brings the red morning
A step, and another step

The dawn passes
And when that moon falls asleep
The blue shade that stayed with me disappears

 

It’s weird. AgustD is nothing but total stranger, but he feels like a long-lost friend. It’s like he just knows, silent as a sigh, not a need for words, exactly what Jimin needs.

Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, Jimin muses with childlike wonder, and then I found you, and now everything is music.

The song goes on like that, soft and gentle as a lullaby to Jimin’s racing heart. To the average listener it’s just a song, but to him it’s a serenade. A static serenade of sorts. He’d like to call AgustD again—to thank him; let him know he was heard and his words were received with a full, open heart—but Jimin’s eyelids start to droop, and in the still calm of his dark bedroom window he finally dozes off.

Maybe he’ll dream of a faceless voice tonight.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

The following morning, Jimin opens his refrigerator to find it empty.

There’s a carton of eggs without eggs, a box of milk without milk and a bottle of wine he doesn’t have the stomach for this early in the day. A quick check tells him he’s run out of rice, too.

To the grocery it is then.

There’s one just a 15-minute walk away from his apartment building, and to get there Jimin has to cross a train track—those old fashioned ones with red-and-white barriers that lift up and pull down every time a train passes by.

Jimin likes being outdoors, likes being reminded that there’s a world alive and pulsing outside of his own personal cage. When he steps outside, the sky is gradually lightening from a candlewick blue to peach-fuzz orange. He takes off in the direction of supermarket, and comes out of it armed with two heavy shopping bags.

Despite having had only four hours of sleep, he feels light as a feather, and hums to himself while sauntering down to a quaint café he likes to swing by during grocery trips. Café Mono, it is aptly named, and he’d found it one fateful Thursday afternoon a few weeks ago when he’d been wandering the neighborhood with no direction or purpose whatsoever.

The entrance bell tinkles when he steps in, and the owner greets him warmly.

“Morning.” Namjoon grins at him from behind the counter. His lavender hair makes him look like a blooming lilac, and in the middle of his flowerpot-ridden café, he might as well be.

In the entire month he’s spent here, Jimin has only ever felt wholly comfortable around this gentle giant. He might even go as far as to say they’re good friends. Namjoon is like the moon, or so he’d like to think—watching over him like the brother he never knew he needed during his darkest hours. He knows about Jimin’s inability to sleep at night (his cafe runs until 3am because it’s located near a university and caters to the walking dead—ergo, sleep-deprived students).

“The usual?” he asks.

Jimin nods, smiling tiredly as he approaches the counter. He breathes in the aroma of coffee beans wafting through the warm air. “Yes, please.”

Chamomile tea—customized for calming purposes.

“Gonna be a good day,” Jimin remarks, leaning against the light wooden countertop.

At this, Namjoon wrinkles his nose. “Wouldn’t say so. Did you bring an umbrella?”

“No.” Glancing out the window, Jimin frowns. All clear bluebell skies. “Why?”

“My spiritual ki tells me there’s a 3.142% chance of rain.”

With a snort, Jimin shakes his head. “Funny, hyung. Don’t go all pi on me.” Sometimes he can’t tell how Namjoon’s mind works.

“Speaking of pie, would you like to try our new one?” Namjoon suggests, gesturing to the array of cakes and pies and muffins in his glass shelving unit.

Jimin smiles, but shakes his head. He doesn’t tell Namjoon that he’d rather save the extra coins in his pocket than spend them on a calorie-infused dessert. Cake is a privilege when you’re living solo. “I’d love it if I could bring home some extra herbal tea, though. You know I love yours the best.”

And so it happens, that with a triumphant grin he exits the café with a takeout paper bag of herbal tea, and he thinks—yes, a good day awaits.

But then.

As he nears the train track crossing, the skies darken as grey clouds roll overhead like horsemen heading for the apocalypse. It all happens in rapid motion, like a movie playing fast-forward. Cue the rumbling clap of thunder, and a flash of lightning ripping through the sky. Without warning, raindrops pelt down like bullets on Jimin’s head. His jaw hangs open and he shudders.

You have got to be kidding me.

Arms full with groceries, Jimin stands there like a wet baby chick with its feathers getting drenched in the rain. Though instinct screams for him to run, he can’t—the barrier’s down, and he has to wait for an oncoming train to pass by.

Maybe Namjoon is a prophet of sorts.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jimin spots a lady dressed in pink standing beside him with an umbrella. So he scuttles over to her and taps her lightly on the shoulder.

“Excuse me,” he implores, putting on his best puppy dog face. “Could I take cover with you, please?”

The lady jumps as though startled, and glances at Jimin warily.

He points up at the sky. “I-it’s raining?”

Her mouth curls into a sneer that curdles his blood. “So?”

Lost for words, Jimin’s mouth parts and closes as he struggles to form words. Then he forces himself to regain composure, and clears his throat. “Um. May I stand under your umbrella?”

The woman recoils from him like he’s got an infectious disease and shakes her head. In a sour tone, she snaps, “My umbrella is too small. Sorry.”

Jimin gulps, feeling like he’s been struck across the face. He glances up at the pink, jumbo-sized umbrella she’s holding over her head.

It’s big enough to fit three.

No choice, then. Sending her a stink-eye, Jimin scoots backward and hangs his head, shoulders drooping, and returns to the same spot where he’d been standing. The grocery bags dangle like heavyweights on each arm, and he holds back a whimper. You’re okay, and you’re okay, and you’re okay, he tells himself, though he doesn’t believe a single word. It’s often hard to be your own cheerleader.

It’s during moments like these—without his Taehyung and his parents nearby—that loneliness hits him like a tidal wave. It’s raining out, and it’s raining in. Jimin’s heart heaves. Some days, like this one, feel trapped in a sort of forever rain.

Finally, the train completely passes through and the barrier blocking his way lifts slowly, clearing the path for pedestrians. Jimin shakes his head and tells himself to stay resolute. No to self-pity!

Just as he steps forward, a shadow falls over him.

This shadow is... shaped like an umbrella?!

Jimin halts and stands there, frozen in the middle of the tracks as he realizes that— ah, he’s no longer getting soaked by the rain. He doesn’t want to hope, but it’s possible that a kind Samaritan has noticed his pathetic state and allowed him to take cover with them.

That’s also when he notices the solid presence that has stepped beside him, and his breath catches. Slowly, ever so slowly, Jimin cranes his neck to the right.

Birds take flight in his chest.

It’s been a while since Jimin last saw him, but he looks less haggard now. No more dark rings circling the underside of his eyes, and with his silver-streaked hair no longer stringy and matted to his feverish forehead, Yoongi looks—feels—like a different person.

Jimin’s heartbeat surges at the sight of his neighbor. “Hello. It’s you.”

What are words? Once again he’s robbed of speech, not really sure howwhywherewhen, but it’s like Yoongi senses his unease, because the young man just offers him a twinkly-eyed smile.

“Hello, you,” he greets, and Jimin’s eyes widen.

All around them, the rain pounds hard against the ground, but Jimin’s heart pounds harder against the walls of his ribcage. It goes pitter-patter, wild and unsteady, and while it’s noisy everywhere, all sound fades away until he can only hear each hammering beat.

He doesn’t know why. This is a man he’s only met twice, but hey—people don’t choose who their hearts race for.

And maybe it is raining too hard—too noisy—because it makes it all the more difficult for Jimin to hear Yoongi’s voice clearly. All he knows is that the guy’s sore throat seems to be gone now, judging by the full baritone he hears.

“How’d you find me here?” Jimin asks loudly to counter the din of the rain.

“On the way home from work,” Yoongi answers. “Saw a soul in distress, and the anpanman in me just had to step in.”

Jimin barks out a laugh, eyes disappearing into crescents. “Anpanman?”

Nodding, Yoongi says, “You know, that—“

“Superhero,” Jimin says, grinning. “For children.”

Yoongi regards him appreciatively, eyes shining with a glee that mirrors the mirth warming Jimin’s tummy. “I see you are a man of culture as well. You know your classics. Impressive.”

Jimin rolls his eyes, but his cheeks hurt from smiling. Suddenly, the rain doesn’t seem too bad when he’s with Yoongi. He finds himself leaning closer to his neighbor as he says, “‘Course. I’m—“

“Oi!” a voice nearby hollers. “You two!”

The two of them spring apart, startled, and Jimin spots a man standing a few yards across them, waving wildly with his hands. “Get off the tracks, you fools!”

Only then does Jimin realize that the train barriers are lowering once more, sandwiching him and Yoongi within the perimeters of the metal tracks and directly in the path of an approaching train.

Without needing another prompt, the two of them bolt out and sprint for safety, the rain forgotten and umbrella lowered, and Jimin may or may not have realized that somewhere along the way he’d linked hands with Yoongi.

Did he grab first? Did Yoongi?

Does it matter anyway?

Though they’ve reached a safe zone to steady their breaths, they keep their hands clasped together, not quite interlocked, and that’s how they stay the whole walk home.

Yoongi brings up his black umbrella again, and Jimin—

Jimin doesn’t mind being pressed close to his warmth as the walk together. It’s raining out, but his insides are warming with starfire and sunshine giddiness.

“Your shoulder’s getting wet,” he points out to Yoongi moments later, noticing the dark patch of rain forming on top of his arm.

His neighbor shrugs. “So is yours. Shoulders are made for getting wet.”

“Oh?” Jimin says, because he could sure think of other body parts that are made for getting wet.

“Yeah. Look at me, sacrificing a shoulder for you.”

“A sacrifice, huh.”

“Totally. Be honored.” Yoongi sends him a sideways glance and winks, but then realizes how flirty that must seem, because the next moment he scrunches up his nose shyly, face flushing, like he can’t believe he just did that.

Jimin can’t help but smile.

They reach their apartment building far too early, far too soon, and the moment they clamber inside the elevator, Jimin lets go of Yoongi’s hand to press the 16th floor button. He doesn’t slip his hand back in his, and in the small space they stand in, he maintains distance.

Suddenly, cold silence ensues.

Suddenly, the air turns... awkward.

Because only now, away from the rain and the heavy, sweet air does Jimin remember the last time he was with Yoongi was when he’d ungracefully fallen asleep in his bed, like some random stray cat with no place to call home.

Jimin swallows and licks his lips nervously, keeps his gaze downcast. What’s he supposed to say now? Yoongi had made casual chat and banter with him just earlier, so maybe he doesn’t resent Jimin for overstaying his welcome from last time? He hopes Yoongi knows Jimin hadn’t tried anything unseemly while he slept.

It’s quiet the whole way up to their floor, and Jimin wonders if he’s making Yoongi uncomfortable. He hugs himself, shivering against his damp sweater. Should he apologize after all?

Ah. No. There’s something else he should be saying.

Jimin clears his throat just as the elevator dings at their stop. “Um. Thanks. For the umbrella.”

His voice rings loud and clear, and for some reason it makes Yoongi’s head jerk up. His gaze falls on Jimin for a fleeting second, brows creased with a sudden intensity that makes Jimin want to run and hide.

Then the elevator doors slide open, and Jimin takes the chance to scurry out.

“So um, yeah. Thanks! And sorry to intrude last time!” Jimin calls over his shoulder as he scampers away from the too-warm elevator. Yoongi follows out.

While Jimin unlocks his door, Yoongi walks past behind him and says, “No problem.”

Jimin pauses. Tilts his head to one side.

There’s something familiar about that intonation, that slight slur and inflexion at the tip of every word. It almost sounds like—

“Hyung!”

Jimin’s trail of thought shatters at the sound of Jungkook’s petulant cry the moment he sees Yoongi walking down the hall.

“What took you so long!” Jungkook whines, standing up from where he’s crouched outside their front door. “I left my keys inside the house...”

Chuckling to himself, Jimin shakes his head while he keys in his passcode and steps into his flat, shivering in his drenched clothes. No, it can't be, he convinces himself. Must be a simple, uncanny similarity.

Hopefully he won’t catch the flu.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

Later that night on KkulFM, AgustD comes up with a fresh new twist to his usual routine.

“Hey guys, welcome to KKulFM93.1’s late Pillow Talk show and you’re here with me, DJ AgustD all the way into the wee hours of the morning.” As usual, his voice is like gold-spun cinnamon, sweet and deep, and it dispels all previous doubt in Jimin's mind that anybody in real life could ever sound even remotely close to AgustD. Nobody talks that properly, or professionally. Jimin pulls his blanket up to his chain, wrapped in the dark stillness of his bedroom. “Tonight, I’m on a quest, a man on a mission.”

Jimin’s eyebrows rise to his forehead. A mission?

“Just like how you guys are always listening to me, this time ‘round I’m all ears for you and your stories,” continues the radio host. “Tell me something interesting, and share your stories on KkulFM’s official Naver blog along with your song requests. One hour from now, I’ll be picking five lucky listeners’ stories to read out live on-air tonight.”

Jimin doesn’t need any more encouragement than that. He wants to be one of the lucky five, of course he does. Without missing a beat, he flicks through phone and opens up Naver to search for the radio station’s official blog. He’s about to type in a random story about his day, when AgustD hurriedly adds—

“Tonight’s theme is: what is your fondest memory of a place? Tell me where, why, and what kind of memory you have of that place. Anything goes! Meanwhile it’s time for a little commercial break after this song…”

As AgustD’s segment cuts to the commercials, Jimin sits up in bed, frozen still in the his clouding thoughts. He stares at the empty comment box on Naver before him; at the type tool blinking up at him from his phone screen, and puts his device down.

Memories—Jimin’s stocked them up like data in storage chips after over twenty-two years of existence, but there will always be a few special ones that he keeps close to his heart. Everyone has those—they’re not particularly spectacular times of your life, but rather a collection of small moments that, put together, hold more meaning than any other grand event. Skipping stones with your best friends after school; learning how to ride a bike down the street of your childhood home; wading around an inflatable pool during family barbecue gatherings. Shining beacons in a tunnel of foggy, hazy remembrances.

Eyelids falling shut, Jimin can picture it all so vividly that it’s almost as if he’s back in the past rather than attempting to relive it.

In his mind’s eye, he’s not alone in his apartment room, restless and floundering in a city of hustlers. In his mind’s eye he’s another version of Park Jimin—one who doesn’t have a hard time falling asleep at night. Laughing without a care in the world. Deep inside him he knows it’s not precisely the place that was special, but the people he’d been with back then.

Back then.

Not now. Not here.

With a wistful sigh, Jimin pries his eyes open and starts typing into the comment box before hitting “submit”.

The show goes on. An hour later, AgustD begins picking audience stories—there’s one about a bachelor reuniting with his first love from high school that sounds like a plot straight out of a primetime TV drama; one about ex-best friends and their bitter history, and one about a single father with a daughter who’s so madly in love with a boy band that she keeps splurging money on said band’s merchandise.

“Most people would tell you, Anonymous Dad, that your daughter will eventually ‘grow out’ of that fangirl phase,” AgustD is now remarking matter-of-factly on-air, “but trust me when I say that even if that were really the case, it would probably take her a long time. My advice is to support her, but to set limits and boundaries. Everything in moderation, yeah?”

AgustD reads out another story about a quarrelling couple and plays them a song called “For The First Time” by The Script, citing it as a healing song for fighting lovers. Jimin wonders if his story wasn’t good enough to be chosen. It’s nearing the end of the radio show, and he pushes down the urge to start digging his thumbnail into the skin of his index finger – a nervous tick.

“Now, onto the final story submission for tonight,” AgustD announces, and Jimin’s pulse spikes. He crosses his fingers.

Dare he hope?

“This one is from…” AgustD clears his throat, and the next time he speaks, there’s a hint of amusement in his voice. “This one is from the username, ‘Friendly Neighborhood Alphabet Letter J’, and according to him, he has fond memories of the beach.”

Giggling, Jimin clenches his fingers into fists and punches the air with a silent shriek of joy. Legs kicking away his sheets, he rolls out of bed and shimmies his butt in a celebratory, happy dance. He got chosen. Chosen!

“I remember the lush beaches from my hometown the most,” AgustD narrates, reading out Jimin’s story, “because when I was younger, I used to climb the rocks by the shore with my little brother there. My dad brought us out on a sailboat to teach us how to fish for the first time, and even though I never once caught bait, I remember the sunset.”

Jimin’s breath hitches, and the wave of euphoria from mere moments ago crash-lands into something heavy and grey inside of him. He perches on the edge of his bed, frowning.

The sunsets were always the best part—a glossy backdrop to his dad and brother’s earsplitting smiles. Streaks of purple piercing through cotton candy tufts of marmalade orange. The waves lapping gently against the shores of Busan. Late summer breeze warm and cozy against his cheeks.

The sunsets were always the best part, but here in the city, towering skyscrapers and giant buildings are always blocking out the sun. There aren’t even ay beaches nearby. Here in the city, Jimin is covered by an ever-lasting shroud of—

Night, and night, and night.

He grimaces to himself. Why, of all stories he could have shared, did he choose to submit this memory? It’s far too important, far too secret within the caves of his heart to be said out there.

“Whenever I try to sleep at night, I think about those sunsets, and sometimes it helps,” AgustD continues on the broadcast. “Recently I’ve found a gentle voice that helps me sleep at night, and it helps a lot, too. I’m grateful. My song request is Rainbow Connection by Sleeping At Last, and it’s dedicated to that voice.”

Heat rushes up Jimin’s neck, and he shudders as he listens to his own words as told by AgustD. Yikes. Now that it’s out there, live on-air for all to hear, everything he typed in sounds so… so mushy and sappy and unoriginal. AgustD must be feeling so grossed out at the prospect of having to read his story right now.

With a groan, Jimin leans back and lies down, head dropping to his pillow. Like an uninvited pest, doubt creeps and slithers into his mind. Maybe he should just stop participating in this radio show’s little activities. It almost seems like this so-called AgustD is on a secret quest to crack open his heart, tear down his walls by making him overshare the little things.

“Well, mister J,” AgustD drawls, his tone suggestive as though he were a school counselor. “If there’s anything I learned throughout the course of my own experiences, it’s that when you find something that makes you feel safe, you hold onto it. It’s gut instinct. Why don’t you give this person a call?”

Jimin sits up in bed once more, mouth falling ajar. Did AgustD just…?

He shakes his head. No way. There’s no way he’s encouraging Jimin to call him. Right?

“Meanwhile, here’s ‘Rainbow Connection’, a cover by Sleeping At Last. I’ll be right back after the commercial break.” With that, AgustD goes off-air.

 

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side
Rainbows are visions
They're only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide

 

Heart ramming in his throat, Jimin does as the DJ urged, searching for a particular number on his phone. He still has AgustD’s personal mobile contact recorded in his recent call log from the time he called to check in on him post-emotional breakdown, and the pad of Jimin’s thumb presses down on the green ‘call’ button without second thought.

 

Someday we'll find it
the Rainbow Connection
the lovers,
the dreamers
and me

“Hello—“

“Did you know it was me?” Jimin fires right away, hand clutching his phone as an odd mixture of anticipation and excitement courses through his veins. He hugs a pillow to himself. “The one who sent that story?”

“Well, hello to you, too,” AgustD greets, his voice husky and playful, and in the shadows of his bedroom Jimin flushes deep crimson. He never knew just how much power voices could hold until this one came along.

“H-hi.” His voice cracks, and Jimin makes a face. Not again with those monosyllabic responses. He's capable of more. “It’s me again, sorry for calling halfway through your radio broadcast.” Again.

“S’fine. I get the feeling this won’t be the last time, anyway, so I might as well get used to it,” AgustD chortles, and Jimin can’t fight the smile blossoming across his face. “And to answer your question – eh, maybe. I mean, there are only so many people who refer to themselves as an alphabet letter.”

Jimin’s eyes widen into round coins. Going out on a brave leg, he breathes out shakily, “Good point. And did you know that when I said I found a rare voice that lulls me to sleep, I was talking about… you?” He fights to keep his voice even, to hide the fact that he’s practically baring his soul to a nameless voice. If AgustD knew whose voice he was referring to, then does that mean he deliberately wanted Jimin to call?

“Wait. No, really?” AgustD sounds surprised, and Jimin’s heart sinks a little, until he says teasingly, “Well, damn. I don’t know if I should be flattered or offended that my voice is apparently boring enough to drive people to sleep.”

Jimin’s frown melts into a soft laugh. “That’s not what I mean at all!” he interjects quickly, grinning so hard his cheeks hurt. “What I’m tryna say is… your voice is very soothing. Like a music box. That’s it.”

“That’s it?” AgustD repeats. “Ohhh. I see how it is…. so you’re only here for my voice, huh. Tsk tsk.”

Jimin unlatches his phone from his ear and gapes at it, his smile never once faltering. Pressing it back close, he tells the DJ, “You’re impossible.”

For the first time in a long time, Jimin feels… alive. There’s adrenaline rushing in his veins, dragons thrashing in his belly. Perhaps this is what undivided attention does to you. Makes you feel special. Heard. Seen.

“Wait a minute,” AgustD says slowly, curiously. “So… Rainbow Connection. It’s a song dedicated for me? Again?”

Jimin chuckles, twirling the cords of his earphones around his index finger. “What do you think?”

On the radio, the song is still playing; its lyrics echoing everything that Jimin wants to convey but can’t find the right words for:

 

All of us under its spell
We know that it's probably magic
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it

 

“Well, mister anonymous caller J,” AgustD teases, voice low and lilting, “I could very well be mistaken, but I daresay you’re flirting with me right now.”

“Hah!” Jimin scoffs and rolls his eyes, though his stomach swoops deliciously. “You wish.” When the radio host laughs out loud at his words, he racks his brain for something mildly intelligent to add. “Just take it as, um… as an answer to that song you dedicated for me last time. 4 o’clock, right?”

AgustD’s voice turns soft. “Yes.”

It makes no sense, really—that two people should be exchanging songs laden with double-meanings over the radio, in this day and age, absolutely floors Jimin’s mind. Isn’t this the kind of things that only happens in one of those vintage movies?

“Anyway, thanks for that. Oh, and nice story about the beach, by the way. I guess it’s safe to say I can expect to hear more about you from now on?”

Jimin dips his head shyly and tucks it close to his knees. “Mmm, maybe? And thanks, too.”

“Say, while we’re at it,” AgustD pipes up, breaking Jimin out of his reverie, “maybe you can send in your story for the next broadcast, too.”

“Yeah?” Jimin says.

“I’m not supposed to spoil it for anyone, but between you and me,” the radio host lowers his voice to an almost-whisper, “we’re going Halloween themed for the whole of next week’s broadcast, since it’s almost mid-October. So. Horror stories, ghost hauntings – you name it, I’ll be airing it. Keep it PG though, I don’t do graphic gore.”

“Oh,” Jimin whispers back, growing uncertain. Dread twists like rattlesnakes in the pit of his tummy. He’s not the biggest fan of horror, and doesn’t really have any haunted stories to share himself. “Sounds fun.”

“It will be,” AgustD affirms. “The best story wins a pair of movie tickets to the latest horror movie premiere in theaters this weekend so... I’ll be waiting, okay?”

“O-okay.” He sounds so eager, so expectant, that Jimin doesn’t have the heart to tell him that maybe he won’t want to participate for this one. When they end the call, instead of feeling appeased and calm like their first conversation, troubled waters stir in the deep well of Jimin’s gut. Staring into the blank nothingness, his heart skips a beat, but for reasons entirely different from when he first answered the phone.

A Halloween broadcast. That should be fun. Spooktacular.

Not.

Chapter Text

lean on me.

 

Shadows danced across the hallway, and it was cold like the dead of winter. The chill threatened to seep through her skin and into her bones. The house was as quiet as a cemetery, and the only light that illuminated her surroundings was from the moon shining through the rusted metal windowpanes.

Her blood rushed through her veins, and something inside of her screamed for her to turn back, to get away, but being in this abandoned mansion was better than getting caught out in the middle of a hailstorm outside.

Every bit of furniture was covered in years of dust. There was a staircase at the far end of the room, and she gingerly wove her way towards it. Silence swallowed every footstep, but when she placed one foot at the bottom of the staircase, it creaked and groaned like a door hinge.

The flutter of wings; a loud squawk. She let out a tremulous gasp when a pair of ravens rushed past the window.

Breathe, she reminded herself. Clutching her skirts, she continued her way up the spiral staircase.

But with an otherworldly howl of the wind, the front door slammed shut, and someone – or something – closed around her ankle like a claw, and yanked her down the stairs-

 

Jimin slams his laptop shut. Getting up from his swivel armchair, he fans himself and paces the length of his room, taking deep breaths to calm down the erratic beating of his heart.

Never again. Never again will he spend an entire day browsing the Internet and immersing himself in Creepypasta stories he doesn’t want to become a part of. Jimin can’t even remember how many tales of horror he’s consumed over the last twenty-four hours – all of them ending in the same fate of doom and death. Mutilated murderers, swimming pool ghosts, evil possessed dolls? No, thank you.

Now, alone in his room in the thick of the night, he realizes it was probably a bad idea to go looking for ghost stories when he doesn’t have Taehyung to cuddle with at the end the day.

Cradling his elbows close to his body, Jimin fights back a shudder, and forces himself to think happy thoughts. He glances at his bedside digital clock – it will be 3am soon – and remembers why he did all of this in the first place.

The best story wins a pair of movie tickets, AgustD said. He told Jimin he’d be waiting, and Jimin doesn’t want to disappoint. Besides, this could be his chance to finally meet the radio host, and though it’s a little typical, what’s a better first date than one to the movies?

So he settles back in bed, pulls his duvet over his shoulders to get as comfortable as he can, and tunes in to KkulFM to wait for the Pillow Talk show to start.

Instead of AgustD’s usual intro though, Jimin is startled when an eerie tune starts playing, complete with haunted sound effects – children giggling ominously, wolves howling, glass shattering. The hairs at the back of Jimin’s neck rise, and he grimaces to himself.

Seconds later, AgustD’s voice comes on air, and only then does Jimin allow himself to relax.

“Welcome to the Halloween edition of the Pillow Talk show,” says the DJ. “I’m AgustD, your host for tonight all the way into the wee hours of the morning. Now, prepared to be scared out of your wits-”

Cue the sound effects of thunder and lightning striking, sharp and unforgiving. Jimin nearly jumps out of his skin. Maybe he shouldn’t listen to this broadcast after all.

“…because I’m only accepting horror story submissions for the rest of the week in lieu of Halloween,” AgustD continues. “So give me your most chilling, haunting tales along with your song requests, and the best story will win a pair of movie tickets to the showing of One November Night by the award-winning producer-director, Bang Si Hyuk.”

The movie tickets, Jimin repeats to himself. Do it for the movie tickets.

“While waiting for your submissions to come through on our online platform, I’m going to talk about different ghost tale or urban legend for each night of the week,” AgustD says. “To kick off our Monday, let’s start with a cautionary tale that has turned into an urban legend today. Have you heard of the story of Kuchisake-Onna, the Slit-Mouthed Woman?”

No, Jimin thinks, ignoring the uncomfortable curdling in his belly. He tries not to choke on a gulp as another shudder makes its way down his spine, and he yanks his sheets closer around his shoulders. And I don’t really want to know.

“She’s a wily one, that woman,” shares AgustD. His voice lowers to a cautionary rasp. “Only likes to turn up in front of people who walk home alone. If you happen to run into her while walking home at night, well, you’re doomed.

People who walk home alone? Jimin can practically pinpoint the exact moment he feels the uptick in his pulse. Isn’t that him? He chews on his lower lip, unable to stop listening despite being the worry and anxiety. As AgustD continues his horror story, the background music fades down:

“The Slit-Mouthed Woman died after having her lips mutilated from ear to ear by her husband-“ Jimin momentarily pulls out his earphones to block out the sound effects of a lady screaming in agony, “but she returned as a malicious spirit who wears a red mask over the lower half of her face. You’ll identify her right away.”

Closing his eyes, Jimin can vividly imagine her face as the DJ describes it – red mask that looks like blood dribbling down her face from a distance; long, black hair that hasn’t seen a comb in centuries, glassy pools of dark eyes that are either always blank or murderous with rage.

The radio fades up the sound effects of footsteps while AgustD narrates, “When she shows up in front of you, mask still on, she will ask you if she’s pretty.”

Watashi kirei?“ a faint female voice asks.

Jimin nearly jumps out of his skin. Hell. It sounded so close he could’ve sworn someone whispered it right next to his ear. Logically, he knows they’re all just sound effects from the radio station to set the atmosphere, but in the leering darkness of his bedroom armed with only his imagination, the line between storytelling and reality seems to blur. He swats at the empty space around his head and buries himself deeper under his blankets, sweat breaking out across his forehead.

“If you tell her that yes, she’s pretty, she’ll remove the mask and repeat the question.”

Kore demo?“ the female voice repeats, thin and sickly sweet. Jimin bites back a curse.

“If you say no, she’ll kill you and slash open your mouth to make you look like her,” AgustD informs. “But if you say yes… hah.”

Jimin chews on his lower lip nervously. Hah?

“If you say yes, you’re still not safe. She’ll follow you home and then murder you there, right where you live.”

Not safe. Not safe. Notsafenotsafenot-

Fear closes in on Jimin as he gasps for air, yanking the earphones out. The coldness of his room surrounds him, and he imagines shadow-like claws slithering, reaching for himin the darkness.

Scritch. Scratch. There – from one corner! What’s that noise? Is it all just in his head? Heart pounding, Jimin throws his blanket over his head. A bead of sweat trickle down his back, and he reminds himself to inhale and exhale to calm is racing pulse. He lets an artful string of profanity slip from his mouth.

This isn’t going to work.

If this is how the rest of the week will go every night, then Jimin very much thinks he can live without winning those stupid movie tickets. Maybe participating in that story submission contest isn’t such a good idea after all – reading all those horror stories has made him antsy, and now he’s definitely not in the right state of mind to be listening to horror broadcasts that sound too frighteningly real.

It occurs to him that he could call AgustD, let him know that he’s not really up for this anymore, but the radio host actually sounds like he’s having a lot of fun with this event. Jimin doesn’t want to seem like a wet blanket in front of him.

Very well. There can only be one conclusion. He’ll just… not tune in to the Pillow Talk show for the time being, until all of this is over.

Jimin sighs and rubs his hands over the pack of his neck to soothe the tense muscles there. It’s okay, he tells himself as he drops his head to his pillow. He survived without AgustD’s voice before, so he can definitely survive a few days without it again. He’ll be fine.

Right?

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

The next time Jimin opens his eyes, the sun is glaring down at him and heat sears right into his skin. He raises a hand to shield his vision from the blinding rays of light.

For some reason, the ceiling and roof has disappeared, and all he can find above him is the sky – a wide expanse of cloudless cerulean, stretching on forever. He doesn’t question it. It’s bright and he feels like a boy with springs on his heels, light as a feather.

Sliding out of bed with a smile, Jimin notices that his bedroom door is ajar, and his windows are open. His blinds have vanished, too, just like the roof, and again he only shrugs, fully accepting this fact.

On his bare feet, he pads across his apartment room towards the door to wrench it open. He steps into the living room…

…and suddenly his surroundings morph into something completely different from his big, bright bedroom.

His living room looks like a hurricane has trashed it. Here, it’s as dark as an abandoned basement. The rugs and curtains are torn apart. The couch has been ripped open, but instead of tufts of cotton, bloods oozes out of the claw-shaped gashes like a stream from a new wound. Something slimy wiggles through his toes, and he looks down to find the blood leaking through gaps on the floor, flooding the living room.

Jimin’s breath catches and he staggers backwards, but where there was a door behind him moments ago, now his back only flattens against a cold, grey wall. Beneath him, the floorboards starts to rumble and rattle. An earthquake?

Not wanting to risk it, Jimin flees towards the door leading to the kitchen, stumbling through fallen furniture and losing his balance as the world starts tipping sideways.

He’s not going to make it. Despair grabs him by the throat, and Jimin struggles to breathe, hot tears pricking his eyes.

But at the last second, the doorknob to the kitchen twists and a pale hand pokes out of the door, urging him to take it. His heart leaping, Jimin makes a grab for it, and lets the hand pull him to safety. Crossing the threshold, he finds himself in his untouched kitchen, and the door slams shut behind him.

He made it!

Jimin releases a sigh of relief, and looks up to show gratitude to his savior. “Thanks for-“

His blood goes cold.

Kuchisake-Onna stares down at him, her eyes sharp and crazed. Greasy strings of hair run past her shoulders and splay out over her chest. Her surgical mask is resting on her chin, revealing her too-wide frozen smile and a mutilated mouth that’s been slashed from one ear to another. He stands there, shackled to the floor, too terrified to breathe. From up close, Jimin spots scar tissue lining the throbbing, jagged skin, and when her grin widens, the skin swells and blood dribbles down her chin. And then:

“Watashi kirei?”

Jimin screams for his life.


☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

He bolts out of bed and into sitting position, heart pounding in his temples, breathing ragged. Tears are streaking sideways from the corners of his eyes, and Jimin rubs them away furiously. His fingers find purchase in his blankets and curls around the fabric, clutching onto it like a lifeline.

It’s only a dream.

Well, a nightmare really, but that’s nothing new to him. Jimin releases a slow, shuddering breath and folds his knees to hug himself, his mind troubled.

It all felt so real, too real, and he can’t un-see the awful images or wipe them out of his head. He pinches himself in the cheek, and nods in assurance when it hurts. Good. He’s awake then.

Maybe Taehyung’s advice from a few weeks before was right. Maybe Jimin should look into visiting a clinic in Itaewon and getting some Xanax prescribed to him or something. He glances at his bedside digital clock.

6.30am. From outside, the first few rays of weak morning sunlight spill into his room through the blinds draped over his window. Jimin scoffs.

Bloody great, he hasn’t even slept any longer than three hours since listening to AgustD’s broadcast. And there’s no way he’s going back to sleep now, not after that dreadful nightmare. With a resigned sigh, he drags himself out of bed, but no sooner than his right foot touches the cold, bare floor does he snatch both limbs back onto the bed and under the safety of his duvet.

Call him a scaredy-cat, but he doesn’t want to go outside today at all. Usually he loves the feel of being outside the suffocating four walls of his flat, but today…

Today, the thought of stepping beyond his front door, of having to face the bleak reality, terrifies him more than having to deal with unseen monsters he imagines crawling in the corners of his room.

So Jimin spends the rest of the day cooped up in his room, keeping himself occupied with various hobbies from reading a book to watching shitty Netflix originals to doing stretching exercises on the floor. He shrugs off the fact that he does all of these alone, figures this must be one of the perks of Adulting, where he gets to decide wherever he goes without anybody nagging after him. Stay in? Alright. Stay out? No biggie. He’s an Adult, after all – sailor of his own boat, captain of his one-man crew, and he gets to call the shots now.

(And if there’s something hollow about the way the air doesn’t ring with his mother’s constant nitpicking or his little brother’s yabbering or his father’s triumphant TV-soccer match yelling, he tries not to acknowledge that.)

Soon enough, the sunlight slanting into the window blinds starts to fade as the Seoul skyline prepares itself for the evening. Jimin is rummaging his fridge for something to eat other than instant ramyun when his phone beeps from the kitchen counter.

It’s a barrage of KakaoTalk text messages coming from Taehyung, making his phone vibrate incessantly as they arrive one after another. Jimin’s face breaks out into a slow grin as he reads:

 

21centuryvante
Chim! Jimbo!


21centuryvante
Happy birthday my soul partner~

21centuryvante
Did you think I’d forget? kekeke


21centuryvante
Love you bro! mwa. I’m eating cake for you today.
Make sure to blow out your candle before midnight ‘kay, before your day ends



Jimin’s jaw hangs open. Holy shit. He’s gotten so absorbed in keeping himself distracted from those horror stories and his nightmare that he forgot what day today is supposed to be. He double-checks the date on the calendar – 13th of October. His grin doesn’t fade as deep fondness rushes into him from the realization that Taehyung looks out for him better than he does for himself. Heart soaring and feeling lighter than it has the whole day, Jimin sends a quick thank-you reply and decides to follow what his best friend advised him.

Blow out a candle.

He could at least do that. Granted, it’s going to be lonely making his birthday wish alone this year, but the knowledge that someone remembered it for him is enough of a consolation to push Jimin to muster the courage to get out of his stuffy apartment. Surely Taehyung wouldn’t want him to be miserable today, right? He reckons he should do what he can to cheer up, if only for the sake of his best friend.

He checks the wall clock. Only half past seven – plenty of time to celebrate his birthday. Or what’s left of it, that is.

After showering, Jimin throws on a black coat over a pair of jeans and a plain black wool sweater. To avoid the trouble of styling his messy hair, he puts on a navy blue beanie before stepping out of the flat, making sure the door is locked securely.

He needs to get a candle first, so he heads down to the convenience store below the apartment building. Maybe he can grab one of those instant mini cakes along the way. The cool night air grazes his cheeks as he makes his way down, and he burrows his neck into his collar for more warmth. When he pushes open the door, the bell chimes to signal his arrival, and who else would it be behind the counter other than-

“Oh? Hey, hyung!” Jungkook greets with a grin as Jimin approaches. “You sure look tired. Again.”

Jimin plasters a wan smile on his face. He didn’t check the mirror before leaving home, but there’s no doubt he must look like a sleep-deprived cat right now under the convenience store’s bright fluorescent lights. “It’s my aesthetic.”

Tutting his tongue in a mild show of disapproval, Jungkook tells him, “Not sleeping isn’t healthy, hyung. Take it from this college student. If I were you, I’d take every chance I can get to knock myself out.”

“It’s not as easy as it seems.”

Jungkook hums, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. “Hmmm, sure didn’t seem like it when I found you and Yoongi-hyung snoring all over each other on his bed last time.”

At the mention of his utter failure at being a polite houseguest, Jimin flushes and smacks Jungkook lightly in the arm. “Like I said, it’s not what you think!” Seriously, this kid better not be Thinking Weird Things. “I only came to take care of Yoongi like you asked me to.”

Jungkook snickers at that and opens himself to make a witty retort, but at that very same instance, the entrance bell chimes again, and who else would it be other than Yoongi, stepping into the convenience store with his hands shoved into his coat pockets.

Speak of the devil.

“Oh! Hi, Yoongi-hyung!” Jungkook cheers enthusiastically from behind the cash register.

“Hey, Kook. I’m here-“ Yoongi’s head snaps up, and his eyes land on Jimin. He gives a small bow in greeting. “Ah, hello.”

Once again, a nagging feeling makes itself known in Jimin’s mind – something about the way Yoongi’s rough voice seems to sound so familiar and yet otherworldly to him – but he pushes the thought away. Jimin bows in return, then lifts his hand in a shy wave. “Hi.”

Why do his cheeks feel hot? Maybe he's about to have a fever. He slips his hands into his pockets to avoid fiddling with his fingers. Pull yourself together, Park Jimin. He can’t let himself get all wobbly-kneed like a high school girl in front of a man he’s walked under the same umbrella once.

He can still feel the weight of Yoongi’s warm gaze pinning him in place when Jungkook’s voice chimes, “I’m almost done here, hyung. Gimme a few minutes?”

Yoongi shrugs. “Sure.”

Remembering what he came here for, Jimin turns and browses the aisles, but says lightly to Jungkook, “By the way. I thought you’re a graveyard shift guy.”

There’s a pleased lilt to Jungkook’s voice when he answers, “Boss changed my schedule today at the last minute, so I’m free for the rest of the night.”

Jimin hums and nods, eyes zeroing in on a plastic packet of small, colorful candles at the end of the aisle. He makes a grab for it then saunters back to the cashier, where Yoongi is leaning sideways against, one forearm on the counter. He’s dressed in a faded denim jacket with a white pullover underneath, and although he looks worn out, when he smiles his gums peek out adorably. Jimin casts his eyes down to avoid getting whiplash.

“And what are you doing here?” Jimin asks, growing bashful when Yoongi inches just a little closer, stopping right next to him. There are strands of dark, silver-streaked hair falling into his eyes from the angle that he’s standing in, and Jimin’s fingers twitch in his pockets with the need to brush them away.

This level of cuteness is unfair.

“Oh, you know. Just…” Yoongi’s eyes carry a gleam that makes Jimin’s pulse do pirouettes. He can smell freshly baked bread and cinnamon on his neighbor, and he forces his mouth not to water. “…my usual superhero routine. Coming home from work to do my fair share of community service, one convenience store at a time. Gotta inspect the expiry dates of the products on behalf of the South Korean Food and Drug Safety code, and then pick up this annoying brat I call my brother to keep him from starving to death.”

Jimin giggles, because beneath the cool guy persona, Yoongi is such a goof. He doesn’t notice the way his body is slowly gravitating towards Yoongi when he remarks, “How saintly of you.”

Yoongi chuckles – low, almost like a purr.

“Gross.” There’s an incredulous snort in front of them. “Really? Right in front of my salad? My single ass is hurt.” Jungkook points at the packet of candles on the counter. “And that’ll be 2,000 won, please. Hurry, Jimin hyung, you’re the last customer I’m ringing up. Will that be all?”

Jimin blinks and springs back one step from Yoongi. He clears his throat. “Um. Yep.” He pulls out his wallet to pay for his candles, and with a cheer of relief, Jungkook deems himself free from cash register duties for the day.

“Actually, he’s here to come pick up so we can go eat at our favorite pojangmacha together,” Jungkook shares, hauling his backpack over his shoulder as he passes his shift to the next employee taking over him. He grins up at Yoongi. “Right, hyung?”

Yoongi smiles, warm and affectionate, and ruffles Jungkook’s hair. “He just doesn’t want to pay for lamb skewers with his own wallet,” he tells Jimin.

“Hey!” Jungkook gripes indignantly. “I’m just a broke student. Have some mercy and cut me some slack here.” Slinging one arm over Yoongi’s shoulder, he steers them towards the glass door to leave the convenience store. It’s almost comical, how Jungkook is a full head taller than his older sibling, but instead of chortling over it, Jimin watches the two brothers saunter away with a strange ache blooming in his chest.

He has a brother, too. Back at home. Someone who badgers him and annoys him to death, but also someone who always stands up for him when he’s caught in a sticky situation. Jimin sighs, hangs his head low, and picks up his feet to leave the convenience store, thinking he’ll just return to his apartment…

Until Jungkook looks back over his shoulder and calls out, “Well? Are you joining us or not?”

Pausing mid-step, Jimin’s eyes widen. He spins to find Jungkook and Yoongi waiting for him with expectant looks on their faces. “I’m invited?” Without meaning to, his eyes naturally find their way to meet Yoongi’s gaze.

Softly, Yoongi nods and answers, “Sure. The more the merrier. You haven’t eaten dinner yet, have you?”

Only then does it occur to Jimin that he indeed hasn’t, and neither has he gotten himself that mini cake like he originally intended to. With a small smile and a hopeful lurch of his heart, he replies, “Nope, not yet.”

Looks like he won’t have to celebrate his birthday on his own after all.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

At night, the city of Seoul breathes a different kind of air into its people. The atmosphere turns warm and heavy with the electric thrum radiating off faceless crowds, and the blinking neon lights and signs paint every street with a kaleidoscopic glow. It’s all sorts of heady and bedazzling and psychedelic. The aroma of spices from street food vendors waft through the air, and Jimin closes his eyes and inhales deeply, letting his worries slink away even just for the next few hours.

The three of them walk around Hongdae, weaving in and out of throngs of shoppers and bustling teenagers, and once or twice Jimin’s knuckles brush with the back of Yoongi’s hand. They don’t hold hands, have no reason to. Unlike last time, there’s no incoming train to avoid, no downpour of rain to take shelter from.

They don’t hold hands, and Jimin chides himself for wanting to.

Still, he continues to walk next to Yoongi, so close that their knuckles would brush every now and then. But that’s okay. After all, Jimin reasons with himself, it would be weird to walk two meters away from one another especially in a place as tightly packed as this.

“Here we are,” Jungkook says, ushering Jimin and Yoongi into a pojangmacha – one of those blue-tented street stalls that’s too small to be considered a restaurant, but big enough to hold a handful of makeshift chairs and tables for customers to dine in.

“We went to Hongdae all the way for this?” Jimin says, easing himself onto a chair.

“Oh, but this isn’t just any typical pojangmacha,” Jungkook admits proudly. “I mean, just look around you.”

Jimin turns his head to study the customers around them, noticing that majority are young females laughing and giggling with each other. “They’re all… girls?”

Making a sour face, Jungkook shakes his head and waves Jimin’s answer away. “No, I mean-“

“Jungkook comes here because he has a crush on the owner’s son,” Yoongi interjects with an amused grin. He cocks his head in the direction of the kitchen, where a handsome young man with sleek dark hair and broad shoulders is busy helping out a middle-aged woman with serving customers – his mother. Pointing to a menu taped to one metal pillar, Yoongi quips, “Personally, I’m here for their premium lamb skewers.”

“I-I’m here for the lamb skewers too! They're hella lit!” Jungkook sputters petulantly, though the splotches of pink dusting his cheeks give him away. Jimin chuckles behind his hand.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Just admit it. You’re just as whipped for Kim Seokjin as these girls are.” Turning to Jimin, he says matter-of-factly, “Seokjin is a senior upperclassman from Jungkook’s college… but I guess Kook isn’t the only one who’s got heart eyes for him.” He glances at the girls flocking to the table nearest to the kitchen doorway, trying their best to catch surreptitious glimpses of Seokjin.

Jungkook scowls. “It’s because he’s an ulzzang, an ulzzang! Just another popular guy. I don’t really care, but because I’ve got photographer’s eyes, I must admit that cameras love him.”

“And so do you,” teases Yoongi.

“S-shut up.”

Yoongi smirks.

Jimin laughs, his body bowing forward and hands clutching the sides of the table as if hanging on for dear life. He hasn’t felt this unrestrained and free in a while, and it’s all because of these two. In Yoongi and Jungkook’s presence, last night’s horror scenario melts away from the back of Jimin’s mind. If only he knew how fun and easygoing his neighbors were, he would’ve made friends with them sooner.

Because that’s what they are – friends. Right?

From his peripheral vision, Jimin catches Yoongi’s eye while Jungkook goes into another tirade about how beautiful faces deserve to be admired, and Yoongi’s lips quirk up into a soft smile that reminds Jimin of sea salt and the summer sun.

Friends. Yeah, he’d like that.

While waiting for their order to arrive, they chat among themselves, though Jimin does more asking than answering. If the two brothers notice the way he changes the topic every time the conversation skews towards him, they don’t comment on it, which Jimin wholeheartedly appreciates. There are many topics he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about – like his inexplicable attachment to a certain AgustD, despite the radio host being a public figure who should normally be an acceptable subject for casual conversation – because they feel like personal secrets, only his to keep.

Then Yoongi goes quiet for a couple of heartbeats, and when Jimin asks him what’s up, he says, “The candles just now. What did you buy them for?”

Jimin blinks. Right. “Um.” He hesitates, not really wanting to make his new friends feel burdened or obligated to celebrate his birthday with him. “Well…”

“Excuse me.” As if on cue, Seokjin approaches their table to serve their lamb skewers, and Jimin takes the momentary pause to let out a soft sigh of relief. Phew. He watches the way Jungkook averts his gaze from the waiter, cheeks red; the way Yoongi keeps an earnest gaze on Jimin, and wonders why he’s acting so closed off towards everyone. If he wants to make new friends, he should be more open, shouldn’t he? Maybe he could be honest about this one.

Jimin clears his throat, keeping his eyes directed to the plate of sizzling lamb skewers. “Well, actually it’s my birthday today.”

“What!” Jungkook exclaims, startling Seokjin and making the poor waiter scuttle backwards. “Oh man, holy shit.”

“I-is anything the matter?” Seokjin fusses, worried. He gestures towards the lamb skewers. “I’m sorry, did we get your order wrong?”

As if only realizing that his crush is talking to him, Jungkook’s eyes slide in Seokjin’s direction, and he stammers, “Oh. Oh. Nope. Sorry. I wasn’t like, shouting at you. I would never, Senior Pretty.” He chokes back on his last words, and then plays if off by blinking and smiling awkwardly, doe eyes wide. Beside him, Yoongi is hiding behind his collar like he’s mortified to call Jungkook his brother, and Jimin tries his very best not to giggle.

Seokjin slowly edges backwards from their table, casting Jungkook a weirded out look as he goes.

Once he’s completely out of earshot, Jungkook melts and bangs his head against the table. “I am. An embarrassment to all men.”

Yoongi snorts and flicks his brother’s forehead, telling him to snap out of it. He picks up a lamb skewer stick and passes it to Jungkook. “Here. Eat yourself silly.”

No man is immune to the temptation of warm, mouthwatering food, and within the span of a few seconds, Jungkook is munching happily away on his lamb skewers. Jimin would’ve laughed if he wasn’t so impossibly endeared.

“So. Your birthday, huh.”

Jimin’s eyes dart away from Jungkook, and finds himself matching gazes with Yoongi. The older brother’s eyes are dark pools of burning curiosity, and the intensity they hold makes Jimin’s face warm.

“Yeah, why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Jungkook says, almost like a whine. “We could’ve gone somewhere fancy to celebrate with you.”

“Oh, there’s no need.” Flustered, Jimin raises both arms to make a cross sign. “I wouldn’t want to make you feel obligated.”

“But we’re friends,” Jungkook points out mid-chew. “That’s what friends do.”

Yoongi asks, “How old are you today?”

“I’m twenty-two.”

“Where’s your candle?” Jungkook asks, an excited glint in his eyes. He puts his stick down and makes a careful attempt at stacking each lamb skewer on top of one another instead. “We don’t have a real cake right now, but we do have… lamb skewer cake. Ta-da!”

He brandishes his “lamb skewer cake” with a proud flourish of his hand as if he’s done something heroic, and Jimin kind of wants to melt and wrap him in a warm hug. Instead of teasing his brother for it, Yoongi just reaches out to tousle Jungkook’s hair. “Rascal. Don’t play with your food, you little shit.”

“I’m not playing with it. I mean serious business. Jimin hyung, the candles please.”

Chuckling wetly, Jimin unwraps three candlesticks, and Jungkook takes time to push each one into the meat of their lamb skewers. With a thoughtful hum, he asks the old man sitting at the table next to theirs for a lighter, and promptly ignites each candle with a flickering flame. “There you go.”

Pushing the plate of lamb skewers in Jimin’s direction, Jungkook whisper-sings the birthday song, and Yoongi eventually joins in, albeit reluctantly. In the candlelight of his makeshift ‘cake’, their eyes sparkle in hues of warm amber and iridescent orange. Through it all, Jimin’s heart swells until it feels like it’s lodged in the back of his throat, and the back of his eyes burn.

It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

“Now, make a wish,” Yoongi says.

Thank you, Jimin wants to say, but his tongue is failing him, and all he manages is a teary smile. Closing his eyes, Jimin clasps his fingers together and wishes for-

Wishes for-

I don’t wish for happiness, and I don’t wish for things to be easier, but please. Please don’t let me go through everything alone.

Eyes glistening, Jimin blows out the candles in one go and smiles, feeling hope – this ever-growing hope – flicker brighter in his chest.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

When they step out of the eating tent, Jimin’s mood starts to dip, and he prepares himself for another solitary night at home after a whopping roller coaster of a dinner. The he winces and catches himself – he shouldn’t be this clingy already.

But he can’t help it. Something about the easy way he gets along with his neighbors makes Jimin want to stay in their presence. It’s like there was a space in the mold of their lives carved out just for him, and now that Jimin has stepped into their orbit, he can’t pull himself away.

But then Jungkook says, “Where to, next?” and hope resurges anew in Jimin’s veins.

Yoongi frowns. “Jimin could be tired, Kook-ah. Maybe it’s better if we go home and rest-“

“I’m game.” The words leave Jimin’s lips before he can stop himself. “What? The night is young.” It’s not like he’s lying – all around them, Hongdae pulsates with the heartbeat of nighttime cruisers – groups of men and women, both young and old, drift in and out of shops and bars for drinking get-togethers and what-have-you. Jimin pastes a smile on his face, though in the back of his mind he’s desperately hoping the Yoongi will relent and say-

“All right.” There it is again – that soft upward curve gracing Yoongi’s lips, a smile that feels like it’s meant for Jimin and Jimin alone. If smiles had awards for the musical symphonies they could conduct in another person’s chest, then Yoongi’s definitely deserves a Grammy. “What do you want to do?”

Jimin hums thoughtfully, until the memory of AgustD’s words manifests in his mind. What was it that the radio DJ said? He could’ve sworn there was a movie premiere he’d mentioned… “Aha! One November Night!

Yoongi blinks, and a funny look crosses his face, before he says, “The movie by PD Bang Si-Hyuk?”

Jimin snaps his fingers. “Yes! That one. Let’s watch a movie?”

Beside him, Jungkook lets out a low whistle. “Oooh. That new film? I was planning to catch it!

Grinning, Jimin holds out a palm for a high-five, and in an unspoken alliance, the two of them turn to Yoongi with wide, puppy-dog eyes. “Please?” they both plead, lips curled into pouts.

It doesn’t take much to get the older to budge, so with a resigned half-groan, half-sigh, Yoongi relents. “Fine. Just… get your faces out of my face. Let me breathe.”

Jimin grins in victory, and he shares a fist bump with Jungkook, who looks seconds away from bouncing eagerly on the balls of his feet. The boy’s got so much energy packed in his body that Jimin wonders how he and Yoongi are related.

“You’re lucky I have free tickets for movie,” Yoongi grumbles, glancing at his wristwatch. “We’ve got time to catch the nine o’clock showing.”

“Really?” Jungkook says. “How’d you get ‘em tickets?”

“From work.”

“As usual.” Patting Yoongi’s shoulder proudly, Jungkook informs Jimin, “My hyung has a lot of workplace perks.”

Jimin has half a mind to prod and ask more, but Yoongi already looks uncomfortable by the sudden turn in this conversation, so he doesn’t push it. Just like how they respected him when he evaded their questions about his personal life, Jimin also wants to be polite about boundaries with his new friends. “Cool. Now, about that movie…”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

Jimin should never have come here.

The only cinema with vacant seats left is a small theatre at an old Cineplex tucked away into one corner of the city, and Jimin finds himself wiggling to free up some legroom in this space because hell- this theatre is cramped as fuck.

That’s not the worst thing, though.

Screech. Splatter. Squelch.

Onscreen, a woman screams for mercy as another zombie devours her intestines, clawing her guts out with savage speed.

In the darkness of the theatre, Jimin has his eyes screwed shut, and he debates flattening his palms by the sides of his head to cover his ears too, because he is not equipped for this. How was he supposed to know that One November Night is a horror movie? Granted, he should have checked the reviews or at the very least, looked at the film’s promotional posters, but in his excitement to stay out with his neighbors, he’d completely overlooked that detail.

And now he’s here.

Teeth clenched and jaw tight as he struggles not to yell at every jump scare.

Jimin repeats in his head over and over that it’s not real, none of this is real, but the crippling sound effects coupled by the gory graphics do nothing but chill him to the bone.

Only when the screen transitions to a brighter, calmer scene does he allow himself to relax, shoulders loosening. A slow sigh whooshes out of him, and he grabs his juice cup to take a sip – it’s not his chamomile tea, but the sensation of cool liquid running down throat calms to steady his heartbeat.

How much longer? How much more must he sit through this movie? No offense to the director, but Jimin isn’t cut out for straight-up horror, and if this goes on any longer, he can’t guarantee he won’t puke his dinner out right then and there. And he doesn’t want that, especially since he’s sitting sandwiched between Jungkook and Yoongi.

When the suspenseful music starts building up and the scene darkens to pile on the tension in the cinema, fear clenches around Jimin’s throat. He is a bird trapped in a cage. He is a victim drowning underwater. He is in outerspace, with no air to breathe, no solid ground to stand on. His head starts to spin, and he shuts his eyes once again, sinking deep into his seat. The music crescendos, and another piercing cry sails through the air-

…just as a hand cups Jimin’s knee, and he nearly jumps out of his seat in surprise.

His eyes dart around furiously, heart palpitating, until he catches Yoongi’s gaze.

They lock eyes.

They lock eyes, and Jimin’s world falls away. In the flickering lights of the cinema, Yoongi’s onyx gaze burns into his, glimmering with an emotion Jimin can’t fathom, and the space between his eyebrows are creased with concern. The skin of his palm is warm against the ripped jeans hole around Jimin’s knees, and just like that, the cage around Jimin breaks loose.

He lets out a quiet exhale, eyes never leaving Yoongi’s. His heart is still racing, but now he’s not quite sure why. The movie continues to play in front of them, but in the haze of Jimin’s mind, the sounds turn muted, the scenes get blurred, and all he finds is-

Yoongi.

Jimin’s ribcage threatens to give out. He pins the blame on the movie for making him feel this way.

Yoongi must notice a shift in the look in his eyes, because then he reaches out across Jimin’s seat, presses his fingers against one side of his temple, and guides Jimin’s head to rest on his shoulder. Lean on me, he seems to be saying, and Jimin doesn’t hesitate to melt in his gentle hold.

It’s both soft and solid at the same time, like ground to walk on.

Yoongi is real, and the movie playing in front of them is not, and that’s all Jimin needs to know. No words necessary.

Thank you, he struggles to say again, and when Yoongi tilts his head to rest lightly atop Jimin’s, he supposes that he didn’t have to say the words out loud for them to be understood.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

Later, as they key in the passcodes to their respective apartment flats, Yoongi chooses to linger in the hallway after telling his little brother to go on ahead inside. He walks Jimin to his front door, and linger by his side, too.

For some reason, Jimin doesn’t step into his home yet, either.

“Um…” he begins, but he doesn’t really know what to begin, because what conversation is there to have? He opts for the safe topic. “Thanks for the impromptu birthday bash. Of sorts.”

Yoongi hums – low, quiet. His eyes are trained on the floor, and Jimin would like to think he understand the need to do that – there’s something about looking into people’s eyes that makes you vulnerable. “Of sorts. It wasn’t much, next time we’ll treat you to something better.”

Next time. Such casual words, but so full of promise. Jimin purses his lips to hide a smile.

“So,” his fingers brush over the handle of his front door. “Good night.”

With a low grunt, Yoongi nods and steps away to let Jimin key in his passcode. “Night to you. I’m heading off soon after changing clothes.”

“Oh?” Jimin lifts his eyebrows. “Where to?”

“Work,” Yoongi replies simply.

“Ah.” Nodding, Jimin flashes him a smile that he hopes is encouraging. “Well then, fighting!”

It’s both a privilege and an achievement, he thinks, to watch Yoongi’s gummy smile blossom across his face like a spring sprout. His neighbor tips his head down shyly, pearly whites showing. “Thanks. I’mma just… go now.” Then he steps backwards, back, back, all while never turning away from Jimin. "Happy birthday."

Ears burning for no reason at all, Jimin steps into the warmth of his flat, but then-

“Oops.”

Jimin halts. Pokes his head out his door and glances out the hallway.

Yoongi is still standing out there down the corridor, looking up at the unit number of the door he’s standing in front of. There’s a flush pinking his cheeks, and he gives Jimin a sheepish sidelong grin. “Wrong apartment.” He scurries forward to the correct flat, and keys in his password before stepping inside without bidding so much as a last good night.

Clicking his door shut, Jimin wrinkles his nose adorably and leans against the wooden surface, fondness coursing through him. Although there’s something about Yoongi that tugs at the back of Jimin’s mind, he chooses not to entertain any thoughts, at least for tonight. Today was a fairytale, not the kind you’d find in storybooks, but one for keeps anyway.

That night, he makes it a point not to listen to AgustD’s broadcast – no more Halloween stories, please and thank you – but by some miracle, the nightmares don’t come to plague him in his sleep.

He dreams of lamb skewers and birthday candles and warm hands tucking him to bed, and in ways more than one, it’s more than enough.

Chapter Text

seize the night.


The good news: Jimin becomes fast friends with his new neighbors, although he spends more time with Jungkook than Yoongi, owing to the fact that Yoongi prefers to stay indoors and sleep whenever he’s at home. One might even say Jimin’s gotten comfortable with his next-door friends, and that’s a feat in and of itself.

Because liking being in a part of a crowd is one thing, whereas liking people and getting all buddy-buddy with them is a whole other story.

The bad news: the nightmares never quite leave.

Sure, the first few days post-birthday night out were pretty peaceful, but eventually Jimin falls back into that same routine he’d caught himself trapped in before. It’s like climbing out of a ditch, only to trip and slip back inside again.

Every night, it’s a constant battle of will-they-or-wont-they, and every morning Jimin gets caught in a cycle of waking up feeling more dead than alive. Damp hair, ragged breathing, spiraling thoughts. There’s also this feeling of… of missing-ness, as if there’s an empty hollow carved out of his heart, a misplaced hole that shouldn’t be there, that follows Jimin everywhere like a nasty piece of gum stuck to this sole of his shoes. Perhaps Jungkook was right – perhaps Jimin is just a zombie, a caricature of the person he used to be.

He doesn’t want to seem like a needy wuss, so he doesn’t go around ringing his neighbors’ doorbells whenever he gets those nightmares.

Case in point: one of those nights, he dreams of himself trapped inside a giant haunted house. No matter where he runs or tries to hide, he ends up in the same plain, windowless room, grey walls caging him in. The lights don’t switch on – they never do in nightmares – so he maneuvers his way around the house in pitch black darkness. Sometimes the walls move and he gets suffocated or squished until he wakes up in tears. Other times, the floor beneath him cracks like an earthquake and completely gives out, swallowing him whole.

In every scenario, Jimin ends up on the losing end, and he never makes it out of the damned mansion. The nightmare has him waking up in the middle of the night drenched in cold sweat, damp hair matted to his head and framing his skull.

Whenever that happens, he hurries out of bed and pours himself some tea to calm down.

Tonight happens to be one of those nights, and much to his rotten luck, he’s run out of tea.

Jimin swears under his breath, glaring at the empty tea basket like it’s committed a heinous crime against him. How he wishes he could just… un-dream everything. In the end, try to avoid it as he might, it seems like not listening to AgustD’s soothing lullaby-voice isn’t a choice that Jimin can forgo after all. It’s almost as if the radio host’s voice is a talisman that casts aside bad dreams.

He glances at his phone screen, where the radio app button seems to be beaming up at him like a Cheshire cat’s smile. Should he just…?

No, he tells himself. No to unhealthy attachments to disembodied voices. He can’t allow himself to get addicted to a radio show DJ’s voice.

So he goes for the next best thing, and as soon as the sun rises, Jimin hauls his ass out of bed and puts on a coat to swing by Café Mono just a few blocks down. He’d like to think it’s his café, not by any way of estate ownership, but spiritually speaking. Namjoon seems fond enough of him and never shoos him away no matter how long he stays there (sometimes until closing time). In a manner of speaking, Café Mono is Jimin’s safe haven.

“Need a refill,” he mumbles sleepily as soon as Namjoon spots him from behind the counter. Even this early in the morning, there are already office-goers seated around the café, and the sight of their suits and briefcases unleashes a spike of unwanted jealousy in Jimin.

Because that should be him. He should be sipping coffee on the way to work, too.

He isn’t.

Jimin sighs, and when he looks up, he finds Namjoon’s soft gaze on him, understanding lacing his tone when he prods gently, “Bad night?”

“Bad everything.”

Namjoon snorts, fumbling behind the counter to reach for Jimin’s regular order – organic chamomile tea imported from Japan. “You know that’s not true.” He shoots Jimin a knowing glance. “It’s just a bad dream, not a bad life.”

Jimin settles himself on the booth seat closest to the counter to stay within earshot, and continues sourly, “Bad dreams are unnecessary.”

“Bad dreams are still dreams, Jimin. It’s up to you to turn them around.” Namjoon’s voice softens, and Jimin wonders if they’re still talking about nightmares at all.

What’s better – a bad dream, or none at all?

Rolling his eyes good-naturedly, Jimin throws his head back to rest it against the soft leather of the booth seat. If only he could be as optimistic as the next average joe.

The first time he met Namjoon, the man had been carrying over-stuffed paperbags of groceries stacked so high Jimin couldn’t catch a glimpse of his face. He hadn’t been planning to go inside Café Mono then, but he’d accidentally bumped into Namjoon while crossing paths on the sidewalk, spilling his groceries on the ground, and Jimin felt so guilty he decided to patronize the café as a low-key way of giving back. He remembers being pleasantly taken aback by how much Café Mono reminded him of home – it’s not loud or too elaborately decorated; a minimalist combination of muted, neutral colors, a potted plant here and there. His favorite part of the place has always been the random quotes of wisdom framed on the wall – sayings by the likes of Aristotle, Socrates, Roosevelt, Bob Marley – all so wonderfully unique and eclectic and inherently Namjoon.

Now, fast forward a few weeks later, here Jimin is. A loyal customer despite his reluctant beginnings. As the noise of the coffee grinder fills the air, he gnaws on his lower lip, eyes glassy as they stare up at the ceiling. “What if I don’t know what kind of dream I want?”

Namjoon regards him quietly, contemplatively, before shrugging. “That’s the best part, I guess. You get to choose. As Socrates once said, ‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing’, and I feel like that rings true for all of us.”

Jimin raises one eyebrow.

“In other words, take your time, it’ll get easier. I promise.”

He has a point – he always does – but there’s an unsettled feeling in the pit of Jimin’s tummy that twists into knots. He doesn’t feel like he has the leeway to just… choose a dream, and chase after it. Having a dream is probably scarier than not, because there’s just so much to lose. Jimin doesn’t like losing.

“Easier, huh.” Jimin slides out of the booth to collect his order, pulling out a few wads of cash from his back pocket to pay. “Hyung, can I ask you a question?”

Namjoon quirks an eyebrow at him. “It’s not gonna rain today, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“No, that’s not it,” Jimin giggles and waves his words away. “What if you meet someone, well, not really ‘meet’, but like…” He pauses to phrase his words carefully. “What if you find someone who makes it easier to breathe, to sleep, but at the same time you realize you’re getting attached to them?”

He doesn’t know why he’s bringing AgustD into this, but he hasn’t heard the radio host’s voice in days, and Jimin feels like a engine battery about to run out. Maybe asking for Namjoon’s two cents will help clear his head.

Brows furrowed, Namjoon muses, “Well, attachments aren’t necessarily bad, in my opinion? Is this person hurting you or behaving in a toxic way?”

Jimin shakes his head vehemently. AgustD has been nothing but patient with him. It’s Jimin who’s muddling his mind up by throwing complicated ideas into the mix.

“Huh. Then I don’t see any problem with that. If I were you, I’d stick to what makes life easier for me.” Namjoon’s eyes take on a glazed, faraway sheen, and he adds, “Isn’t that human nature? We take what liberty we have. We cling onto whatever lifeboat we can grab in the midst of a sea storm.”

His words feel like the stamp of approval Jimin has been waiting- no, hoping for. It shouldn’t be a big deal, not really – AgustD is but one radio host who caters to his audience – but deciding to continue listening to him feels like a precarious decision for Jimin to make. He didn’t even realize he was waiting for a go signal until he heard it from a trusted friend. His heart lifts. Nodding, he takes the paper bag of chamomile tea from Namjoon with a slow-spreading smile. “I’m glad to hear that.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

That night, the moment 3AM strikes and the static signal comes to life, Jimin isn’t lying on his bed for once. There’s a small balcony outside his bedroom, and that’s where he drags a chair to sit and admire the city lights twinkling below, like smithereens of stars. Autumn has always been his favorite season – there’s something enchanting about how the air is neither too chilly nor warm when it whispers secrets while brushing past his ears.

When AgustD’s honey velvet voice goes on air, a smile curves up the corners of Jimin’s mouth. How he’s missed this. Missed him.

“Hey night owls, this is DJ AgustD and you’re listening to the Pillow Talk show, how’s everyone?”

“I’m good,” Jimin finds himself replying out loud. It’s been a few days since the Halloween broadcast concluded, and he can't help feeling giddy and relieved now that his favorite radio show is back to its normal format.

“Tonight, we’re making things a little more interesting.”

Jimin brings his legs up on the chair and hugs them close to his chest, shifting to a more comfortable position, eager to hear more.

“This time, along with the song request segment, I’m giving you guys a Question of The Night, and you can tell me your answers at xxxx-xxxx.”

Listening to the DJ’s voice like this, all smooth and professional, Jimin second guesses whether their last phone call had happened at all. AgustD had sounded so.... hesitant, so careful and gentle with him on the line. So different from the one on-air right now. It’s like hearing two different people speak: one being a calm professional, the other just any other layman across the street. Jimin wonders if he’d just dreamed up all his previous calls with the guy. He wouldn’t put it past his vivid imagination.

“And based on your answer, I’ll pick a song and play it for you,” AgustD continues. “So how’s that? Let’s get this ball rolling, shall we?”

Jimin smiles. “Yes!” Now here’s a radio activity he feels at ease about participating in.

“Tonight’s question is: what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the courage or the chance to?”

Although eager to jump at the first chance to call, something about the question makes Jimin’s fingers pause over the dial keypad. His smile evaporates when he realizes: he doesn’t have a good answer. Or more accurately, he doesn’t have an answer at all.

What do I want?

It’s like one of those moments when people ask you for your favorite song, and suddenly you forget what kind of music you even like. Jimin’s mind draws a blank. Sighing, he stares out into the nighttime skyline, then glances down at the empty streets sixteen floors below him.

He lowers the phone in his lap, takes his time to contemplate.

Maybe he wants to go sky diving. Everyone wants to go sky diving, right? Or bungee jumping. He’s never done either. He’d like to get a tattoo, too. Maybe a pretty flower on his left shoulder.

There’s much to want, but none of them seem like worthy answers.

In the time it takes Jimin to come up with something worthy to say, other listeners call in and get their answers broadcasted on air.

“Hey there, DJ AgustD here, who’s this on the line?”

“Hi, I’m Nam– I mean, Moonchild.”

“Alright, Moonchild, are you ready to share your answer?”

“Oh, certainly. I’ve always wanted to fall in love with someone. I do think love is like a teabag?”

“A teabag,” AgustD repeats, and Jimin could’ve sworn there’s something close to sarcasm dripping thick from his tone.

“Yes, sir. Once you go all in, you never come out the same.”

“That’s... actually really profound,” AgustD comments, and Jimin can’t say he disagrees. “You looking for love, huh?”

“It’s all I want, sir. A teacup of something real and deep.”

AgustD chuckles. “Well, Moonchild, for you I’m playing a song called ‘Dear No One’ by Tori Kelly.”

The next caller is a little more upfront.

“Hi. Call me J-Hope, and I want to muster up the courage to confess to a high school crush at an upcoming reunion.”

“You sound confident,” AgustD notes.

“Nah. Just throwing all caution to the wind, man. I’m done being scared.”

The caller’s words make Jimin sit up straight. He’d like to think that he’s doing that too, abandoning his fears. Moving to the city had been the first step. Making friends was the next.

“For you, my man, I’m picking ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds,” AgustD says, and Jimin nods.

“The Breakfast Club, 1985,” he mutters under his breath, smiling at the distant dark skyline. “Good taste, AgustD.”

It’s as if the previous caller’s words helped to dislodge a knob of unease from Jimin’s chest, and now he whips out his phone and taps the screen to life, readying an answer.

“We’ve got one more caller on the line before the break,” AgustD says. “Hi, how may I address you?”

Jimin figures he’ll call after this one, and he nearly doubles over when he recognizes the caller’s name, who just happens to be–

“JJK, or Kookie, for short. Hello~”

Jimin narrows his eyes, thinking of the convenience store cashier. He can imagine Jungkook right now, bent over the counter with a phone in one ear, grinning hard. And maybe it’s his vivid imagination too, but Jimin thinks he hears the DJ’s voice turn exasperated.

“Hey there, JJK—“

“Something I’ve always wanted to do was go out for just one day with my hyung,” Jungkook cuts the AgustD off. “I have an older brother, see? But I hardly see him much, ‘cause I’m in college and I work part time at night. It’d be nice to... to spend time with him.”

Radio silence.

In his mind’s eye, Jimin pictures his quiet neighbor Yoongi, all tired eyes and slumped shoulders, like he’s carrying the weight of the world all alone. He remembers how the man’s entire demeanor changed with one smile that time under the umbrella, or when he was teasing Jungkook about lamb skewers, and decides that smiles suit him.

On air, AgustD clears his throat. “That’s very thoughtful of you.”

“Thanks. I hope my hyung’s listening to this show tonight.”

“...I’m sure your hyung heard you loud and clear.”

In that moment, Jimin’s heart aches for his neighbors. Whatever Jungkook is trying to say, the meaning resonates in the concave of Jimin’s heart. Maybe we don’t miss people simply because they’re absent, but rather the opposite. Maybe we miss people because we always carry them in our memories like an extra heart; present even when they’re not.

“So, DJ-nim, you got any songs for me?” Jungkook asks.

“Ah. Right. You know, I have a brother too,” AgustD says, voice soft, and Jimin’s eyebrows raise in surprise. He did not know that. “And so I’ll play you a song I think my little brother would love.”

The opening chords of a Coldplay song crescendos, their lyrics a timeless love letter:

 


“Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah they were all yellow

 
I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh what a thing to do

 
...For you I'd bleed myself dry.”

 

Jimin hopes, somewhere out there, that Yoongi and Jungkook are hearing this together. He wishes he had Yoongi’s number so he could at least shoot him a text and tell him to tune in to the radio, but oh well. Fingers crossed that Yoongi likes to listen to the radio while working.

After the song’s finishing chords fade out, the radio commercial break takes over, and Jimin presses call on his phone, numbers already typed out. Unlike the first time he called, it takes a few rings for AgustD to answer, and when he does, his voice is muffled and shaky.

“Hey there, you’re here with me AgustD, who’s on the line please?”

Fake cheer. That’s all that Jimin hears from the other end. There’s a difference, you know, in the texture and pitch of someone’s voice when they’re genuinely happy and when they’re just... trying to be.

“Hi,” Jimin says, voice small. “It’s me, J.”

“Oh.” All at once, AgustD’s tone morphs into relief. “Hello, you.”

Jimin stiffens, heart stuttering.

Hello, you.

He’s pretty damn sure he’s heard that before. Somewhere, from someone. Where?

Who?

He pushes all thought aside when he hears AgustD sniffle from the other end of the line. Jimin remembers how to Words.

“Yeap, it’s me.” He chews on his lower lip. “Are you like... sick or something?”

Another sniffle, followed by a throat clearing. “No,” AgustD says. “M’good.”

“You lie.”

“I was cutting onions and they made me wheeze.”

Jimin releases a derisive snort. “Everyone at the radio station must be in tears right now.”

“Mythbuster 101: most radio DJs actually host their shows in the studio alone.”

“So you’re alone?” Jimin says. “Crying?”

He’s not dumb. He knows how people sound like when they’ve been crying—voices nasal and noses clogged. Jimin would like to believe he’s an empath of sorts, always in tune with others’ moods and emotions.

“What am I gonna do, say yes?” AgustD counters.

“Yes.”

“Fine, then yes.”

Jimin lets out a soft sigh, stands up to lean against the railing of his balcony, and murmurs, “How come?”

“Just. This and that, I guess,” AgustD replies. “It’s been a while, J.”

The way he greets Jimin makes him feel like an old friend instead of a pesky, over-loyal listener. All this time, Jimin had been wondering if AgustD has noticed his lack of participation during the last few days, and his heart does a strange flip at knowing that he had. He must have. Licking his lower lip, he answers, “Yeah. Sorry I didn’t call in during your Halloween broadcast.”

A low hum. “No hard feelings. By the way, this is an official call, just so you know.”

Jimin blinks out of his glassy eyed stupor. “Huh?”

“You’re calling the station’s number,” the DJ explains, voice regaining its usual steadiness. “I take it as you’re answering the question of the night?”

“Oh. Yeah... yeah.” Jimin nearly forgot about the whole purpose of this call.

“So, caller J, tell me your wish.”

Jimin sucks in a breath, mind reeling. There are too many wants and to-do’s swirling around in his mental wish list that he doesn’t know which one to blurt out first. Small things, big things, and everything in between: he wants to–

“Live,” he says. “I want to live, and let go.”

With a curious hum, AgustD says, “I think we need to be a little more specific than that.”

We. He says it like it’s a special secret shared between them, like this isn’t something about to be broadcasted to the entire nation.

Right. The entire nation.

The reminder of this knowledge jolts Jimin back to reality, and suddenly he knows he’s not ready to have this conversation.

Making his voice light, he says, “Oh, you know. Random things. Book a plane and travel without planning. Sing in front of an audience. Play the piano–“

“Piano?” AgustD’s voice pings with interest. “Maybe I can help you with that.”

Jimin’s eyes grow wide. “For real?”

“Sure. I do some freelance producing and composing on the side.” There’s an uptick of pride in the DJ’s voice that Jimin can’t help but pick up on.

“Woah. You host and make music? Shakespeare’s quaking.”

A derisive snort. “I write songs, not tragedies.”

Jimin cracks a smile. Turning around, he faces away from the lights of the city and strolls back into his room, sliding the door closed behind him and silencing his environment. “Anyway, so that’s my answer to you. Well, one of them, I guess. I wanna… live spontaneously.”

One of them?” AgustD repeats. “What about the others?”

A grin spreads across Jimin’s face, and he gives a cheerful whoop of triumph on the inside. This is it. This is what he was hoping the DJ would pick up and be curious about. “Hmm. I’d tell you, but I like my privacy.”

And with that, Jimin swipes to end the call, heart slipping in and out of rhythm. He sits on the edge of his bed, a hand pressed to his chest.

Here’s to hoping that AgustD will catch onto what he wants.

He waits.

One minute ticks by, which stretches into two, and by the third, Jimin is convinced his trick didn’t work at all. His mouth curls into a disappointed pout, and he shakes his head. Maybe he overestimated AgustD’s interest.

But then his phone lights up with a message from an unknown personal KakaoTalk ID, the same one that had called him all those nights ago:

 

gloss
are you awake?

gloss
you didn’t let me tell you my song pick!!!!!!!!

 

Jpromises
ma’am this is a mcdonalds drive thru

 

gloss
????

 

Jimin covers his mouth with his hands as if to try and stop his grin from stretching even wider.

 

Jpromises
ㅋㅋㅋㅋ who is this?


gloss:
y
AgustD

gloss
let me just quickly wrap up this segment and then i will... deal with you

gloss
*squinty eyes*

 

“Oh, shut up,” Jimin curses under his breath, beside himself with glee. Cute. Way too cute, this AgustD is. He pinches his cheek to make sure he isn’t dreaming, or sleeping. Just in case the booming of his heart isn’t a phenomenon courtesy of too much caffeine.

He settles back down on his bed, happily keeping both ears alert for when his call gets broadcasted on air.

Once again, AgustD proves his magic in music and audio editing, because he manages to make their chaotic phone conversation sound smooth and... well, normal enough.

“For you, caller J,” AgustD now says live, in real time, “I’m dedicating one of my favourites. Here’s ‘Chlorine’ by twenty one pilots.”

Jimin’s breathing almost stops.

Why this song?

One of his favourite pieces of music, and it’s like AgustD knows. As usual.

 

“When I leave don't save my seat,
I'll be back when it's all complete...”

 

Without warning, tears prick Jimin’s eyes like a thousand angry needles.

 

“Had you in my coat pocket,
where I kept my rebel red
I felt I was invincible,
you wrapped around my head...”

 

Music heals.

Hurts.

Opens your chest raw and leaves you vulnerable for the world to pick apart.

Without trying, AgustD has looked into his secret self and tore it out in the form of a damn song choice. There’s a sadness in Jimin that he wears like second skin, and now all he feels is terror.

Once upon a time, Jimin had been a dreamer, a bird leaving the nest with starry-eyed wonder. But then his wings got clipped, and he crashed to the ground with no way back up.

 

“Can you build my house with pieces? I'm just a chemical.”

 

In the still darkness of his room, Jimin curls up into fetal position. He feels like he’s wading in deep sand, water cupped in his hands, and no matter how hard he strains to reach the sea, the water will always drain and slip and seep away from his fingers. No matter how much he tries, the water will run dry, and his hands will be left bereft with nothing to hold onto.

When AgustD’s caller ID lights up his phone, Jimin puts him on speaker mode just so that his room won’t feel too tight, too quiet.

“You’re lucky I have a whole 30-minute playlist prepared so I can call you like this,” the DJ quips lightly. “Alas, the life of— hey. You okay?”

“Talk to me,” Jimin grits out, clutching at the roots of his hair and reminding himself to breathe. “Keep talking.”

“I, you... what’s wrong? Why are you panting like you just ran a fucking triathlon? Are you out on a night jog?”

Jimin swallows down the lump in his throat. With a gasping breath, he lets out a wounded whimper.

“Shit, okay. Don’t cry, J. Breathe for me, will you?” AgustD’s words come out in a rush, high-pitched and hoarse. “Do you have water nearby?”

Jimin grimaces. “No.”

“Are you at home? I’ll keep talking. Just focus on my voice, okay, sweetheart?”

“Okay.”

“Good. So you’re at home?”

Home. Where is he? Jimin pries his eyes open, and tears leak out. “Y-yeah.” He lets out a sob, chest heaving. “My hands are shaking. The world is spinning.”

“Alright, deep breaths. Focus on what I say. Listen to my voice,” AgustD says, and the conviction in his tone melts away some of the nausea. Jimin chokes out a dry cough, fighting hard to keep bile from rising up his throat. Sour and bitter.

“What did you eat for breakfast this morning?” the DJ asks like he’s striking up a conversation with a friend.

A random question, but it works.

“Was it good? I had this shitty sandwich from a shop near the station, and it’s safe to say I am laying off sandwiches for the next month. Brrr.”

Somehow, it works.

Jimin pauses to think. He remembers something about seaweed, and kani sticks, and eggs...

“I had gimbap,” he whispers. “And tofu.”

“Are you a coffee person?”

“I...” Jimin wipes at his nose. “I prefer tea. For calming. Chamomile tea from Namjoon hyung. He makes the best.”

A pause. “Do you have some at home?”

A light bulb flickers to life in the back of Jimin’s head, and he bolts up to sitting position. “I do.”

“Wanna drink some?”

Nodding, Jimin slips out of bed and pads into the kitchen pantry, where he prepares his tea while AgustD murmurs calming encouragements into his ears. Keeping his phone tucked between his cheek and shoulder, Jimin sits down at the table and takes a sip of tea with trembling fingers.

“How’s that?” AgustD asks, keeping his voice tender.

“Good,” Jimin replies. “Want some?”

The DJ chuckles. “Thanks, but I’m more of an Americano guy.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Jimin says, adjusting his grip on his mug for maximum warmth in his palms. With every gulp, the raging tides rushing crashing over him recede little by little. Sighing heavily, he says, “Sorry you had to see me this way.”

“Technically, I didn’t see you.”

Jimin rolls his eyes, bites back the makings of a smile. “Nuance. Same difference.”

He takes another sip, and they stay in comfortable silence like that. Jimin can hear AgustD’s light, short puffs of breaths from the other end of the line, and he imagines their breathing syncing at the same time, echoing each other’s heartbeats.

“I lied to you,” Jimin admits guiltily.

“Hmm? When?”

“Earlier, about my answer to your Question of The Day.” Taking a deep breath, Jimin sighs then glugs down the rest of his tea. “To be honest with you, I’m not really sure what I want to do. I mean, I thought I did, but…”

But now, he’s not so sure. He doesn’t even know if anything he’ll be doing tomorrow will differ from today. “I don’t think I know if I have any dream to speak of.”

“What’s in a dream?” AgustD asks.

Jimin blinks, caught off guard. “Huh?”

“What’s so special about a dream that everyone makes a fuss over it? Is it some designer bag everyone has to have?"

A muscle works in Jimin’s jaw. He’s not really in the mood for wordplay or riddles. “Listen, I don’t think you get what I’m trying to-“

“I’m just saying,” AgustD cuts in roughly. “I’ve been in your shoes before. Used to think that- that I live because I can’t die. Used to be angry all the time. So angry, and I wanted to disappear. Because life is pointless without directions, right?” He hisses in a sharp inhale. “Humans are funny. We beat ourselves up over things we don’t have and run desperately after what we think everyone else has.”

Jimin’s mouth falls open. “B-but look at you now! You’re doing so well,” he reasons. In his mind’s eye, AgustD is a shining star, a stellar example of success. That he gets to be a mouthpiece for the nation alone is a huge feat already. “Everything you went through leads up to this moment.”

“Exactly. And I don’t regret it,” AgustD replies. “Now tell yourself that, will ya?”

Jimin clamps his mouth shut. “…oh.”

“Dreams are like stars. You can’t just look up and snatch one from the sky,” AgustD says gently. “Doesn’t work like that.”

Why? Jimin wants to ask. Why are being so kind to me? He forces down the lump in his throat. Stars, he said. Bright and small and so, so far away. No wonder they feel so out of reach. “I know.”

“Well…” the radio DJ trails off. “Do you want to talk more about it?”

Jimin’s eyes fall shut. Here is an opportunity to bare his heart out. Here is someone willing to listen, someone who won’t ridicule him. But… “Not to someone whose name I don’t know.”

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” AgustD says with a low laugh. “But I don’t actually know your name either. And yet here we are.”

“Here we are, indeed.” Jimin sets down his mug, and moves back to his bedroom. “Just who are you, AgustD?”

He hears a sharp intake of breath from the other side of the line, and AgustD mumbles, “...in person.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I said, maybe we could, uh. Meet up? In person,” the DJ stammers—the first time Jimin has ever heard him do so. “If you want.”

Ears perking up, Jimin asks, “Where?”

“Somewhere you feel safe.”

Oh. Jimin’s heart swoops and tumbles as he sits by the edge of his bed. “I know a place. I know someone.” He’s lucky, he supposes, that he happens to know a café and a certain owner.

Making plans to meet someone new has never felt so thrilling.

“Good,” AgustD says after agreeing. Then, in a husky rasp: “I’ll see you then... finally.

Only one word, and yet it makes Jimin’s heart sing with yearning. He inhales deeply, playing with the sleeves of his sweaterpaws. “Yeah... finally.” Hopefully.

“Good night, then?”

“You mean good morning.

“It’s not morning until I wake up,” AgustD retorts, and Jimin giggles.

How amazing it is, to find people who can calm our chaos.

“Good mor-night, then,” Jimin says.

“Good mor...night. That’s new.”

Jimin grins and ducks his head to hide his cheeks even though there’s nobody around to see how silly he looks. “So… are you gonna hang up first, or am I?”

“I’m not going to play that shitty back-and-forth game,” AgustD balks.

“Fine. I’ll go first, since you have a radio show and all.”

A string of curses. “...fuck.”

Later, when Jimin tucks himself to bed, it’s with the memory of a voice as sweet as a mother’s lullaby, and the promise of a new, yearned-for hello when he wakes up.

Tomorrow, he’ll finally meet the owner of his favorite voice.

Chapter Text

the art of freefalling.

 

When Jimin wakes up the next morning, it’s to the incessant beep-beep-beep and vibration of his phone.

Hardly cracking open his bleary eyes, he answers the call and presses his phone to his ear. “Hello—“

“Chiiim chiiiiiim!”

All at once, a wide grin breaks out over Jimin’s face. “Tae.”

“How’s my favorite person, the moon to my sun, the straw to my berry doing? You okay forging your own out in the big city?” Taehyung’s deep voice is a spring bird’s chirp after the freezing winter, warm and welcoming.

“Hah.” Yawning, Jimin sits up and cranes his neck this way and that to loosen some muscles, gone stiff from sleep. “Barely scraping by.”

“How’s the job hunt going?”

“Still applying. I haven’t heard back from any company, though,” Jimin sighs. “How long does this usually take?”

“I mean, we’re fresh grads. Don’t forget it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, especially in Seoul,” Taehyung says. “Give it time. I’m 100% sure the Park Jimin will get one.”

Sleep-soft as he may be, an overwhelming rush of fondness surges through Jimin’s veins, and a whimper escapes him. Taehyung doesn’t even have to try that hard to make him feel like someone worthy, someone who can. “Thanks. It’s just... sometimes I wonder if I made the wrong decision, Tae.”

“What, to go out there and carpe fucking diem?” Taehyung blusters. “You’re braver than any of us countryside bumpkins out here, Chim. You know I would’ve gone to stay with you too if I could.”

If he could. If he didn’t have grandparents to look after, or a farm to help manage.

Jimin doesn’t doubt his best friend’s words for one second. In fact, he’s pretty damn sure if souls could leave imprints on the world, then his and Taehyung’s would mirror each other’s. What with friendship being two souls in one body and all that shit. With a rueful smile, he asks, “How are you? How is... everyone?”

“I’m dying,” Taehyung bemoans.

Jimin goes still. “What?”

“Yeah. Dying without your love. I’m losing nutrients here everyday. I’ve started talking to the chickens, and I actually think we’ve reached an understanding. The chickens, I mean. They tell me they miss you. Woe is me.”

False alarm. “Kim Taehyung,” Jimin chides, shoulders sagging with relief. “You rascal. Don’t scare me like that.”

I miss you, too. It’s lonely out here.

Taehyung’s wild laugh rings through Jimin’s ears, and suddenly the slivers of sunlight peeking through Jimin’s blinds seem to radiate gold rather than pale yellow. “Real talk: grape harvest season’s out, so I’m not busy. The vineyard’s pretty dead. It’s boring out here, Jimin-ah. You’re living the best life.”

“And... what about them?” Jimin asks, voice going brittle without meaning for it to.

“They’re okay.” Taehyung pauses. “I think they’re starting to accept it? Maybe they’ll even forgive you–“

“By the way!” Jimin all but yelps, mind racing. “I met someone.” He rephrases his words. “Well, someones.”

Though he must sense Jimin’s desperate attempt to switch the topic, his best friend doesn’t miss a beat. “Look at my social butterfly,” Taehyung coos, but underneath the casual praise, Jimin can hear genuine gladness laced in his tone. “Making new friends already.”

Right. In the middle of the night, with convenience store boys and sleep-deprived neighbors and unmasked voices. “Yeah. I’m doing good, aren’t I?”

“’Course. You know I always believe in you,” Taehyung answers, raw and proud and true, and Jimin wishes he held at least one ounce of that same conviction towards himself, too. Because he trusts Taehyung with his life, he tells him more about more his neighboring brothers, his favorite coffee shop down the street, and a certain radio DJ known as—

“AgustD,” he says. “He’s a great host. From KkulFM93.1?”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Well I mean, his talk show airs at... odd hours.” Jimin doesn’t mention the sleepless nights, but it’s there in the air between them, hanging like an unspoken question. “He’s pretty great. I’m meeting him later for the first time.”

“…wait, you’re what?”

“—the thing is, I think I kinda maybe sorta have a thing for him? Or maybe it’s just his voice, since I’ve never seen his face. Can you have crushes on voices alone? It’s like melted honey—“

“Chim,” Taehyung interjects. “You’re meeting someone you’ve never seen? A stranger?”

When Taehyung puts it like that... “It’s not like we don’t know each other. I feel like... like he understands me, you know?”

It’s still too early to be making assumptions, but AgustD makes feel day like night, night like day. Jimin supposes that this must be what people mean when they say, "turn your world upside down". It's a topsy-turvy world, and they're the only two people in it. Still, Jimin frowns at how gullible his own words – his own feelings – sound even to his ears.

“Dunno ‘bout you, but I’d do some research on this dude first, since he’s famous.” Taehyung sounds skeptical, and Jimin can’t fault him for it.

“Fine,” he with a roll of his eyes. Plucking off his sheets and rolling off the bed, he sits at his study table at the other end of the room and flips open his laptop. “Since you say so, Mr. Genius.” On second thought, it really wouldn’t hurt to so some research.

“I’m just saying. Check the radio station’s social media pages?”

Jimin Googles the station’s Facebook and Instagram profiles online, but it’s peppered with photos of guerilla roadshows and live events, along with a colorful contest poster for a holiday staycation abroad. 93.1FM’s Annual Grand Giveaway, it reads. Not a single personality profile in sight though, not one that he’s interested in anyway. “I can’t find anything about him.”

“Try the official website,” Taehyung suggests.

So he pulls up another tab and searches for KkulFM’s webpage. “Bingo,” Jimin says, clicking on the “Our Show Hosts” button on the navigation. “AgustD, AgustD... there.”

Jimin’s brows knit together when he finds a simple paragraph consisting of only words staring back up at him. “Tae, there’s no picture of him.”

“That’s impossible. What, is he living in the 1800’s or something?” Taehyung scoffs.

With a wistful pout, Jimin closes the tab. “Maybe he’s camera shy.”

“Or he doesn’t exist. What if he’s dangerous, Chim?”

Recalling the way AgustD soothed him last night, Jimin shakes his head. “No.” Perhaps AgustD likes keeping his identity hidden. Although it’s the 21st century now—the age of digital sharing—that doesn’t mean everyone wants to go along with trends, right? “I don’t think he’s like that.” 

Taehyung reply drips thick with concern and uncertainty. “Just be careful, okay?”

“Yes, yes, I get you. Look, I’ll even bring pepper spray just in case.” In an absent-minded move, Jimin lazily pulls up his email page and logs in. Over the course of the recent weeks, it’s become a habit for him to keep an eye out for job openings and alerts. He might as well check since he’s already online.

When the first message in his inbox catches his eye, Jimin gasps.

“What?”

“Holy shit,” Jimin swears under his breath, eyes wide as he reads.

“Tell me!” Taehyung all but demands. “What’s going on?”

“Tae...”

“Yeah? Everything okay?”

More than okay, Jimin wants to squeak. “I got offered a job interview.”

From the end of the line, Taehyung cheers so loudly that Jimin can hear their dog bark outside, disturbed by the noise. “When?”

Jimin scans the rest of the email, and his heart plummets to his stomach. “...Today. At noon.”

Same time as his meet-up with AgustD, he realizes with growing dread.

“Dude, that’s like, five hours away. What are you waiting for?” Taehyung gushes. “Grab the opportunity!”

Jimin lets out a garbled ‘ha-ha’ sound that sounds more like a whining owl than a whoop of joy. “Won’t it be too late if I reply now?”

“Something’s holding you back,” his best friend observes, sharp as ever. “What gives?”

He already knows how silly it would sound before he says it. Playing with loose threads at the hem of his pyjamas, Jimin mumbles almost reluctantly, “I, um. I’m meeting AgustD at noon.”

The line goes cold. “Dude. Are you serious?”

Jimin remains silent.

“You gotta choose, then,” Taehyung concludes. “This or that.”

The choice is a no-brainer, and Jimin knows it, but obvious choices aren’t always necessarily easy ones to make. “But I wanna see him.” He pouts.

Taehyung groans. “Then text him, reschedule.”

So Jimin does exactly that. Moments after hanging up with Taehyung, he stares at the contact number on his phone screen, one thumb hovering over the green ‘call’ button. But right before he presses it, his phone starts to vibrate with an incoming call... from the same number he’s been staring at.

Pursing his lips, Jimin accepts it. “Hi.”

“Hey,” AgustD drawls, sending shivers down his spine. So early in the morning, and Jimin’s already getting attacked like this. Wild world. “Did I wake you?”

“No,” Jimin says, leaning against his swivel armchair. “Actually, I was about to call you.”

“Oh? How come?”

Jimin heaves a big, apologetic sigh. “Listen. I’m about to disappoint you.”

“Oh, damn.” Tutting his tongue, AgustD says morosely, “Let me guess: you’re actually a 80-year-old man catfishing me.”

“What?” A chortle bubbles up Jimin’s throat.

“I knew it,” continues the DJ, picking up the melodramatic ante. “Nobody can possibly sound so pretty on the phone. I bet you use some voice altering machine to enchant poor, unsuspecting young lads such as myself.”

“Shut up,” Jimin laughs, warmth blooming in his chest. And then, with a shy grin: “You think I sound pretty?”

AgustD gasps fake dramatically. “Now you’re just putting words in my mouth.” A low rumble of laughter breaks through the static, and Jimin’s smile widens. It’s a dance—a back-and-forth, push-and-pull waltz that the both of them seem to have memorized the steps to without ever having to try. A choreography only they know.

If 21st century phones had cords, Jimin would probably be twirling it around his index finger, coy and bashful. He may be sitting alone in his room, but in this special space created between the two of them, he’s far from lonely. There’s a word that Namjoon once told him – serendipity, a fortunate happenstance, or a happy accident. Jimin had never meant to find AgustD amidst the static white noise, but now here he is. As far as accidents go, he doesn’t have any regrets about this one.

“Okay, but for real though. I come bearing bad news and good news,” he finally says, chewing on his lower lip to fight back his earsplitting smile. “Which one do you want to hear first?”

The radio host hums thoughtfully. “Bad, then cheer me up with the good.”

“Okay. Bad news: I can’t meet up with you today.” Jimin’s smile dims. “I’ve got a job interview to go for.” It’s supposed to be a good thing, but why does saying it put a weight in his chest?

AgustD hisses an inhale. “Oooh, congrats. You’ll kill it, go be great.” He pauses. “And actually... I was about to tell you the same thing, too.”

Jimin gasps, eyebrows raised. “Really?”

“Sadly. My colleague called in sick so they’re getting me to take over her spot on the lunchtime show today.”

Everything’s coming up roses then. Jimin sighs in relief, feeling less guilty about having to call off their little meet-up. “That works for us both, then.”

“Yeah.” A momentary pause, then AgustD asks, “Will you listen? Before or after your interview or anytime, really. The lunchtime broadcast starts at 11.30 and ends at 2 so... yeah.”

“Why?” Jimin smirks. “Why should I?”

“I perhaps have a playlist.”

“A playlist for?”

“Just someone.” AgustD’s deep tone turns playful, reminding Jimin of tulips and daisies dancing on a summer prairie. “If you tune in, you might find out.”

He makes it so easy to be carefree. Jimin feared he’d be upset, or at worst, hate him, but no. Just like that, the apprehension in his heart lifts, and he giggles. “Do I have a choice?”

“No. Please come listen. I want to be heard by you.”

Jimin’s heartbeat skitters and skips. “O-okay. Sheesh. Since you requested so nicely.”

They agree on a new date and timing to meet up, and—

“Is it a first date?” AgustD asks.

Jimin shrugs, deciding to play coy. “If you want it to be.”

“I do.”

And so that’s how Jimin finds himself on a bus to the city’s central business district, headphones in, heart rate up, the rest of the world tuned out. Be it day or nighttime, AgustD does magical things to his nerves. He almost forgets he’s on the way for a job interview.

“It’s the lunchtime show and you’re here with me DJ AgustD for today. Don’t worry folks, DJ Han will be back tomorrow,” AgustD is saying on-air. “So buckle up, because I’ll be playing a special playlist for everyone who needs a little booster out there.”

A fresh song begins, and as rows of trees, office buildings and the cornflower blue sky overhead zips by, reflected against the clear glass of the window. Checking his own reflection, Jimin smiles. He’s wearing his best dress shirt and black slacks today underneath a sleek black coat – gotta make a good first impression. As the song continues to play, he hums the tune to himself.

 

“Into a place, where thoughts can bloom
Into a room where it's nine in the afternoon...”

 

It’s both ‘you got this’ and ‘good luck’ from his favorite DJ, and pure bright hope flares in Jimin. 

 

“And you know that you feel it too
'Cause it's nine in the afternoon
Your eyes are the size of the moon
You could 'cause you can so you do
We're feeling so good
Just the way that we do...”

 

Happiness, he muses, is a thousand times more precious when you live in constant darkness. Jimin wants to pick up these moments and keep them in a diary, or a secret, pocket-sized treasure chest where all things lovely should belong. With a smile, he fishes out his phone from the back of his jeans pocket and sends AgustD a quick text.

 

 

Jpromises
can I request a song?

 

AgustD responds almost immediately. It surreal, the way they’re communicating outside of nighttime. Jimin has gotten so used to only gracing himself with AgustD’s presence at night that he forgot the man is an actual living human, one who exists outside the little safety net Jimin has wrapped around his nightly routine.

 

gloss
maaaybe.

 

 

Jpromises
“Everything Has Changed”. Because, well... I just wanna know you better now.

 

The second Jimin hits ‘send’, he pushes down the urge to yeet his phone away because fuck, that was really cheesy. But it’s out there now, and when the song starts playing in his ears, Jimin grins anyway. AgustD sure is obedient.

Too bad good moods don’t last forever.

 

 ☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

The thing with life is that it has a nasty, sadistic habit of cutting off your feet when you’re ready to run; kicking you down when you want to stand. Jimin drags himself out of the interview room, and when the door closes shut behind him, he leans against a wall and sighs.

“How the hell,” he mutters under his breath, “do you expect a fresh graduate to come in with two years of experience already?”

Where in the world is he supposed to get those credentials? Fresh graduates are called fresh graduates for a reason. Welcome to apply, his ass. It defeats the whole purpose of hiring ‘new talent’. It’s always like this – how is he supposed to gain experience if nobody gives him the opportunity in the first place? Some logic.

So it’s with a heavy heart and low spirits that he plods back down his neighborhood. Head hanging, Jimin enters Café Mono. The entrance chimes above the door clang.

“Hey, Jimin,” Namjoon greets him, smiling. The aroma of freshly braked bread wafts in the air, and only then does Jimin remember he skipped lunch. He barely manages a nod at the owner, who nods, already knowing what his order is. There’s a song playing in the speaker’s overhead, and he recognizes IU’s voice.

Through The Night, he thinks while scanning the café for an empty seat. It’s the same one that was playing on the radio that night, the first time he talked on the phone with—

Oh.

There’s someone in his usual booth seat.

Someone in a black hoodie and a dark brown, oversized coat that’s so oversized it’s borderline drowning him. A pair of glasses sit perched on his button nose, and he looks so different—as with every other time Jimin has seen him—that Jimin almost doesn’t recognize him. His eyes are glassy as he looks out the window.

Jimin stops by the table and waves a hand in front of his face. “Hi, Yoongi.”

The man in question is slow to lift his head at the sound of his name, and blinks up owlishly at Jimin.

“Oh. Hey.” Yoongi smiles, wan and weary, and Jimin senses a bone-deep exhaustion weighing his body down, making it slump over his coffee cup.

Jimin slides across the table to sit opposite Yoongi, who doesn’t protest at the self-invitation. “Fancy seeing you out here.”

“Mmm,” Yoongi hums, chin resting against one palm, eyes half-closed. “Needed a coffee boost. I just came from work.”

“Work?”

“Yeah. Worked overtime today.” Even though Yoongi’s voice is slurred and rough with drowsiness, Jimin can’t help but notice...

“You know, you have a really familiar accent.” It’s been niggling at the back of his head since the first time he met Yoongi.

His neighbor huffs out an incredulous chuckle, and sends him a lazy smile. “You’ll soon find out that a lot of people in this city speak with a Daegu accent.”

Jimin nods. So he must be imagining it. Damn his mind for being delusional. “You’re from Daegu, then? Wait. But how come Jungkook has a Busan accent?”

As the song playing over the speakers changes to an acoustic instrumental, Yoongi looks down and swirls his cup of coffee with one hand. “Long story.”

“So entertain me.” Jimin makes a show of sitting more comfortably. “I’m all ears.”

Yoongi regards him for several heartbeats, as if he’s weighing the pros and cons of keeping Jimin company, until he breaks the expectant silence. “When our parents divorced, mom took Jungkook back to her hometown. I stayed with my dad.”

Jimin’s eyes snap to meet his, but he doesn’t prod further. A faraway look flashes across Yoongi’s eyes, like he’s not quite there with him, right in the café, but someplace else in the archive of his memories. “We grew up separately. Then I moved to Seoul to pursue my studies, and a year later, mom died.”

“I’m sorry.” The words fly out of Jimin’s mouth before he can stop himself.

Yoongi shrugs, thumbing over the handle of his cup. “S’not your fault.” He inhales, then sighs. “By then, Kook had just graduated high school, but he didn’t want to stay with my dad, so he followed me out here to study in Seoul instead. And now here we are.”

He takes a sip of coffee, and Jimin doesn’t say anything. How could words of comfort from a mere neighbor possibly soothe heartache that runs that deeply? He wonders how much Yoongi must have struggled to keep both him and his brother afloat. Living in Seoul is nowhere close to cheap – that much he can attest to. Scanning the dark circles lining the underside of Yoongi’s eyes, Jimin comments, “You look tired. Rough day?”

“Apart from having to work overtime? Not really.” Yoongi sniffs and leans back in his chair. “Just a little bummed, I guess?”

“Why?”

Yoongi arches an eyebrow.

“I mean, if you wanna share,” Jimin adds.

With another sigh, Yoongi plays with the strings of his hoodie. “This is gonna sound dramatic, but I was supposed to meet someone today, and at the last minute they couldn’t make it.” His mouth curls into a sad pout.

Jimin blanches. “You got stood up by a date?”

Yoongi nods gravely.

“Shit,” Jimin curses. What a low blow. “That’s such an asshole move. You don’t deserve that dirtbag, hyung.”

Yoongi shakes his head, and when he speaks again—in that raspy, deliberate drawl of his—it’s with a soft reverence that surprises Jimin. “It’s okay. He’s worth the wait.” There’s a glimmer in his eyes, one that speaks of something that runs deeper than fondness.

“Oh.” Jimin doesn’t know what to say. He wants to say he’s happy for Yoongi, but somewhere, deep inside of him, he can’t help but feel a twang of jealousy towards whoever the object of Yoongi’s affection is. The way the man’s eyes light up talking about him... damn, the guy must be so lucky. “Congratulations, I guess?”

Yoongi gives him a bemused face. “It’s a little too early for that.”

When Namjoon arrives to serves Jimin his usual order, Yoongi glances at the teacup in front of him. “Not a coffee person?” he ventures.

“I’m more of a tea type of dude,” Jimin answers. “Chamomile. For calming. I don’t sleep well, so it helps.”

And then the strangest thing happens.

No clue why, but Yoongi freezes.

Eyes sharpening into focus, his head snaps up and he leans forward to study Jimin so intently—gaze burning—that he squirms in his seat.

“Is... is there something on my face?” Jimin asks, feeling self conscious. He reaches up to wipe at a spot in his face, but finds nothing.

Yoongi’s eyes narrow by a fraction, and then he averts his gaze. “You drink tea often?”

“Um. Yeah?” It’s weird. Jimin can’t pinpoint the exact reason why, but in the snap of a finger there’s a sudden change in the air between them, a new kind of tension he can’t name. It sends bees and hornets buzzing in the pit of his belly. Jimin gives a small smile before politely asking Namjoon to help pour his drink into a styrofoam take-out cup.

“Where are you going?” Yoongi asks with hawk-like eyes, though his tone remains casual.

“Home.”

“Already?” Yoongi prods.

“Yeah,” Jimin ekes out nervously.

Yoongi’s eyes stay on him for a heartbeat longer, before turning mellow and tender. “Okay, then let’s go.”

Jimin blinks, taken aback. “Okay.”

They stand up to leave, and for no reason at all, Yoongi holds out a hand.

Is he expecting Jimin to take it? His eyes blow wide. “What’s that for?” he asks, fidgeting with the hem of his own coat. He sips from his takeout cup to give his lips something to do.

“Hand-holding.”

What. Jimin nearly sputters his tea out. “Why?”

“We held hands last time, and it was okay.” Yoongi shrugs. “Thought you might want to.”

Jimin stares at his outstretched hand, torn. Yoongi is the epitome of gentle and inviting, and he still hasn’t forgotten how firm his hand felt when they linked fingers while running from an oncoming train. Or the firmness of his shoulders in the darkness of the cinema. He wouldn’t mind feeling that warmth again, but now… now there’s another hand he’d prefer to hold, and it belongs to AgustD, and AgustD only.

He really wishes he could have met the DJ in this café today. With a sigh, Jimin declines. “Sorry.” At the startled look in Yoongi’s eyes, he adds hurriedly, “There’s um... there’s kind of someone else I’m holding out for.”

For the strangest reason, Yoongi’s expression doesn’t fall in disappointment, like he’s expecting it to. (Why is Jimin even expecting him to be disappointed? Yoongi is just a friend.) Instead, a huge grin lights up his face. “Oh?”

“Yeah.” Ah, damn. This is going to be awkward. What if Jimin is mistaken? What if Yoongi is simply the type who takes skinship lightly? How should Jimin break it to him? He can’t just say, ‘I’m taken by a DJ with a hot voice’ to his neighbor, can he? He needs to establish a safety net. Yeah, safety net sounds like the right term for it. So he settles for a polite smile instead. “So I’m kind of off-limits for now.”

To his surprise, a smirk works its way up Yoongi’s face. “I see.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s nothing to apologize about.”

Okay, he is officially giving Jimin the creeps. Turning away, he brisk-paces out of the café with a quick farewell to Namjoon, who’s been watching them with light in his eyes the whole time.

Outside, Yoongi jogs to catch up with him, seemingly pleased wih himself.

It’s not like Jimin can sprint his way out of this one, because he knows for a fact that they’re both going the same way. So there they stay, walking side by side—one stiff, the other with a skip in his step. When they pass by a vintage music store along the way, Yoongi pauses.

“Have you ever wanted to play the piano?” he asks in a sing-song voice, as though he’s asking a question to a bunch of children.

Jimin turns to give him a suspicious look. How did his neighbor guess that? “Just so.”

“Wanna play it with me?” Yoongi glances at the sign that says “OPEN”.

Because Jimin doesn’t want to be hailed as some sort of killjoy (and maybe because Yoongi’s gums are showing from smiling so eagerly), he sighs and concedes. “Fine. I know close to nothing, though.”

“S’fine. I’ll guide you.”

They enter the music shop, and warm air welcomes them. It’s a low-lit store, with dim orange light bulbs hanging from the ceiling to imitate the old retro style of music stores. Aisles of albums and tapes (tapes! In this era!) lay stacked in the middle of the store, while black vintage record CDs are smattered across an alcove by the right side. There’s a row of grand pianos lined one by one along the far left wall, and when Yoongi asks him to pick one, Jimin sits by the smallest one, made of pure black varnished wood. The ivory keys gleam up at him, and his heart starts a timpani beat when Yoongi sits down beside him, just a hairsbreadth of space between their hips.

Going slow, Yoongi teaches him basic notes and their counterparts along the piano, and Jimin listens with rapt attention because hey– he’s actually interested in what he’s learning.

“Wanna try playing?” Yoongi grins at him after going through ‘Chopsticks’ for the nth time.

Jimin lets out a short, shaky exhale. “Okay.”

Fingers hovering over the piano keys, he closes his eyes and presses on the first combination of notes—light, hesitant. When he makes a mistake, one finger sinking down against the wrong key, Jimin gasps when a hand folds over his.

“Like this.” Yoongi’s fingers find Jimin’s wrists to fold them to the correct position. One hand comes up to push down gently on his shoulders, and Jimin fights back the shudder that Yoongi’s touch sparks in him. “Loosen those shoulders a little. Relax. You’re gonna end up with stiff muscles otherwise.”

Thump, thump, thump.

Jimin’s mouth goes dry. Heart, be still. He can’t turn his back on AgustD like this. It feels like there are piano keys stuck in his throat, rendering his vocal cords discordant, and Jimin’s voice is hoarse when he mumbles dumbly, “Got it.”

Yoongi’s other hand comes up to cover both of Jimin’s, and with careful, deft movements, he swiftly maneuvers them down the piano keys. Unchained melodies fill the air, sweet and soft as a sigh. From this close, he catches a whiff of Yoongi's cologne - musk and spearmint, and it sends his head swirling in a tizzy. The good kind. Somehow, Jimin’s sloppy rendition of ‘Chopsticks’ sound so much more whole with Yoongi playing it with him.

After the last note fades into silence, Jimin turns to Yoongi with an exhilarated smile. “I did it.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi affirms, eyes gentle and appraising. “You did.”

“Play me something now,” Jimin requests, growing bold now that he’s invested in this music duet of theirs. It’s so easy, with Yoongi—easy to get lost.

Yoongi’s lips curve up. “Any song requests, sweetheart?”

The way he says the term makes Jimin’s breath stutter and stop. He gulps and tears his eyes away, pressing on finger to a random piano key. “Um. How about one of my favorite songs? ‘Do I Wanna Know’, please.”

“By Arctic Monkeys? Taste.”

Jimin hums, before sharing shyly. “Originally, yes, but I really love the slow cover done by Hozier. Have you heard that one?”

Yoongi nods and turns back to the piano keys, raising both arms. “Your wish is my command.”

Songs are magic. There’s something about the way the notes drape the air around them with something heavy but gentle and calm at the same time. Songs are magic and Yoongi is the wizard. Eyes fluttering shut, Jimin sways and hums the lyrics along:

 

 

“I dreamt about you nearly every night this week
'Cause there's this tune I found
that makes me think of you somehow
and I play it on repeat
Until I fall asleep

  (Do I wanna know)?
If this feeling flows both ways?”

 

When the tinkle of the piano fades, Jimin opens his eyes to find Yoongi already staring at him, eyes dancing with witchlight wonder.

Like he’s the first and last person he’ll ever play for.

It’s quiet, but the air between them buzzes with with static. Jimin lifts his fingers from the piano keys and brushes away the locks of hair falling into the space between Yoongi’s eyebrows. Those damned strands of hair, never staying in place. At his touch, Yoongi’s eyes flutter closed.

In the waning afternoon light, he looks like a miracle.

Voice hoarse, Jimin murmurs the last line, “Maybe I'm too busy being yours to fall for somebody new.”

He doesn’t feel the tears falling from his eyes. Why he’s crying, he’ll only ever wonder. There is no safety net now—there probably never was. Later, he’ll scold himself for being so clueless. Later, he’ll blame it on the music casting him under a drunken spell.

Later, later, later. The world can wait. This is a freefall.

Now, Jimin closes the gap between them to steal Yoongi’s lips.

Chapter Text

a freefall is a leap of faith.

 

Upside down.

Jimin hangs upside down with both legs slung over the monkey bars at a quiet playground, forehead crinkled and arms limp. This late in the afternoon, it’s quiet, as if the whole world has collectively conspired to hush and let Jimin’s thoughts buzz in his head in jumbled heaps, like angry bees around a nest.

He sighs. At least this way, if anybody questions why his face looks redder than red, he can tell them it’s the blood rush from hanging heels over head. He keeps his eyes peeled open for as long as possible until they get watery—heaven forbid he close them, even just by blinking.

Because every damn time he closes his eyes, all he sees at the back of his mind is himself leaning in—

Yoongi’s widening eyes—

A stuttered gasp and—

“Shut up,” Jimin chides himself with a slap to his own cheek, wishing he could control his racing heart. Who allowed hearts to have their own brains, anyway? “Stop thinking about anything, Park Jimin. Stop!”

He figures he must look crazy, talking to himself out in the open like this, but at least he’s alone with nobody to witness his antics. With another sigh, he massages his pounding temples and closes his eyes, which is a colossal mistake because it only brings back a flood of memories he doesn’t want to admit happened at all.

This is how it went:

A split second after realizing what he’d done back in the music store, Jimin pulled back as though burned by their touch, stared at Yoongi, and spluttered, “T-that was– I...”

What have I done?

Yoongi stared back unblinkingly, frozen, mouth parted in shock. Or was it awe? “You—“

“I’m sorry.” Too tongue-tied to say more, Jimin opted for the easy way out—the coward’s way out—and bolted from where he sat, bursting forth from the music store’s entrance like a madman on the run. He ran aimlessly until he found this playground, and now here he is, hanging upside down, because maybe his thoughts will rearrange themselves this way. Untangle and un-ramble from Nonsense to Some Sense.

A strong gust of wind sends a flurry of fallen stray leaves whirling around the playground, and some of them smack Jimin straight in the face, covering his eyes.

“Ow.” The leaves are dried and rough in texture, and Jimin hisses as he removes them from his eyelids, before choking on a yelp when he sees an upside down face staring at him.

“What are you doing?”

Arms flailing, Jimin looses his footing and his legs give out from the monkey bars. He slips and sinks to the grassy ground with a groan.

The silhouette of a face hovers curiously over his from above, pale and youthful with a mop of dark brown hair.

“Jungkook?” Jimin says, squinting. He rubs at the sore spot where his head collided against solid ground, hoping it won’t bruise or worse, turn into a concussion. What’s Jungkook doing out here?

His blood freezes in his veins.

Jungkook, as in He Who Remains Unmentionable’s little brother.

Shit. Could he possibly know already? What happened between them?

Scrambling to his feet, Jimin stammers, “H-how did you find me here? Were you sent by anybody? Are you trying to collect me?”

“Huh?” Jungkook furrows his eyebrows and gives him a weird look. He points at a campus a few blocks away from the playground and says, “My university’s here.”

Jimin’s eyes flit from the Jungkook and his school and back to him again, and he releases a breath didn’t realize he was holding. Dusting dried leaves off his hair, he says, “Oh. You scared me.”

“Scare you?” Jungkook repeats, shifting to make his backpack more comfortable on his shoulders. “Why would I?”

Jimin takes that as the first clue that nope, Jungkook likely hasn’t found out about his little stint with Yoongi (yet), and isn’t going to strangle him for kissing—kissing!—his big brother without a good reason (yet), and that yes, Jimin is probably just in panicked, overthinking mode.

He shakes his head and forces a smile. “Nothing.”

Dubious and baffled, Jungkook narrow his eyes at him and starts circling him like a hawk zeroing in on its prey. “You’re being weird, hyung.”

“I- I am?”

“Duh. Why were you hanging upside down just now?” Jungkook glances up at the monkey bars. “Is it a type of training for some kind of secret Kung Fu technique?”

“Uh...” Jimin racks his brain for a good response other than ‘I’m running away from your brother whose lips I have defiled, oh young one’ and instead finds himself agreeing. He snaps his fingers, as if Jungkook has made a Very Valid Point. “...as a matter of fact, it actually is.”

Jungkook’s eyebrows shoot up. “Really? Can I do it too?”

Jimin lets out a shaky laugh. “Sure, I guess.”

“Coolio.” Jungkook shrugs off his backpack and climbs up the monkey bars to hang upside down, and Jimin, not knowing what else he can do, joins him. He hoists himself up the bars and hangs upside down again, so that now they’re both facing each other.

“What’s this technique called?” asks Jungkook.

“It’s the... uh, Art of Clear Thought.”

“Sweeeet.” Jungkook nods, cheeks reddening from the sudden rush of blood to his face, and Jimin cracks a genuine smile. “So, what were you trying to clear from your mind just now? Penny for your thoughts?”

Jimin winces, and suddenly he wishes he never entertained the guy at all.

“C’mon, I’m a pretty good listener,” Jungkook insists.

Jimin sighs. “Promise you won’t judge?”

Jungkook clucks his tongue and shakes his head ruefully, and for the briefest flash of a moment Jimin thinks he sees the guy as someone more mature than his age accounts him for. “Hyung, I’m not gonna coddle you. You know everyone’s gonna judge you anyway, so you might as well be yourself.” Then Jungkook starts swinging back and forth, whistling to himself.

Huh. That’s actually pretty wise.

“Well… okay, fine. Let me ask you first: have you ever been attracted to two different people at the same time?” Jimin asks after a thoughtful pause.

Jungkook snorts. “Hell yeah. I had a fapping phase to Kogami Shinya from Psycho Pass last year while also crushing on IU’s voice.”

Jimin stares at him. “A fapping phase.”

“To Kogami Shinya. Well, mostly his voice actor, because he’s hot as hell. But have you heard IU sing? She’s an angel, I swear.”

Jungkook’s words set off a lightbulb in Jimin’s head. “So you’ve fallen in love with a voice before?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say I fell in love,” Jungkook says, humming thoughtfully. “I just got attached, I guess? I like how they sound, so to me they became my favorites. Simple as that.”

Jimin’s eyes widen. “You don’t think it’s possible to fall for someone just by hearing them?”

“Okay, I’m a bit of a dweeb, I admit,” Jungkook says with a casual shrug. “But I’m not that into Kogami or IU. When it comes to crushes, I tend to go for those I know in real life.”

Jimin thinks back to his not-so-secret crush on Seokjin, and heaves another sigh. Jungkook is lucky, he supposes, that his heart picks people who are within his reach. “I do think it is possible to fall for someone just by the sound of their voice, though...”

“How so?” Jungkook challenges with a cheeky grin and a waggle of his eyebrows.

Jimin thinks hard, recalling his conversations with AgustD. “I mean, hypothetically speaking: let’s say the sound of their voice lulls you to sleep and makes you feel safe and calm.”

“Then I think you’re mistaking comfort for love.”

Jimin’s face falls. Try as he might, he can’t deny that Jungkook, one again, does have a fair point. Because what if?

What if Jimin doesn’t actually like AgustD at all, and is only dreaming up some romanticized version of him because his voice makes Jimin feel good? What if he’s getting way ahead of himself, dreaming up non-existent scenarios about a nameless voice? Heck, he doesn’t even know what AgustD’s real name is!

He brings both hands up to massage away the persistent, throbbing headache at his temples, thoughts running amok. Just who is AgustD to him?

“One more question,” Jimin says.

“Yeah?”

“How do you know what a person means to you?”

“You mean like a crush?”

Jimin nods hesitantly. “I guess?”

Jungkook hums, almost in a sing-song manner, until he grins all cheeky and knowing. “Do you know the school game, ‘FLAMES’?”

Jimin purses his lips. It doesn’t ring a bell with him. “FLAMES?”

“Yeah. It varies from place to places. In some countries it’s called MASH,” Jungkook explains. “Basically it’s a paper doodle game that determines how you’ll end up with your crush. I can’t believe you never played this in elementary school before!”

Jimin rolls his eyes. “Well, sorry for my boring-ness.”

In the simplest manner possible, Jungkook explains to him how FLAMES works: you put your crush’s name with yours, strike out the similar letters, and count the remaining letters that weren’t struck out. Then, using that total, you count through each letter in the word:

 

F – Friends

L – Lovers

A – Angry

M – Married

E – Enemies

S – Soulmates

 

…and the letter that you end up with after counting determines your ‘future’ with said crush. Throughout Jungkook’s little tutorial session, some of the tension seeps away from Jimin and he laughs and smacks the younger boy by the shoulder.

“This game’s ridiculous!”

“Hey, you say that now, but back then everyone in my class did it,” Jungkook said defensively. “I even became Soulmates with my crush, and he kissed me on the cheek. FLAMES is a deadly tool, hyung. Don’t underestimate.”

Grinning, Jimin just rolls eyes good-naturedly, and the both of them lapse into comfortable silence, getting lost in the realm of their own thoughts.

After a while, Jungkook asks, “Are you sure this is the Art of Clear Thought?”

“Why?”

“I’m trying to make a decision that I haven’t found the answer to yet.”

Jimin looks at him curiously. “Which is?”

“Whether to quit my part time job at the convenience store or not.”

A surprised sound falls from Jimin’s lips. “Why?”

“’Cause of Yoongi-hyung. He’s not around much, and whenever he is, I’m asleep because he’s a damn insomniac, like I told you before,” Jungkook shares. “So I guess I just… wanna spend a little more time with him.”

Yoongi. The mere mention of Yoongi sends Jimin’s pulse catapulting back to distress levels. He fights to keep his cool in front of Jungkook. “Say, tell me more about him. Is your brother… um, the grudge-holding type? Or is he typically really chill?”

Jungkook sends him a weird look. “Huh?”

“I mean, hypothetically speaking—

“Pffft. What, are you like, a scientist?”

Jimin tuts his tongue and shushes him. “Listen. Given a scenario where somebody, um, accidentally kisses your older brother, how do you think he’d react?”

Jungkook surprises him by howling with laughter. “Yoongi-hyung? Getting his first kiss?” He guffaws, eyes disappearing into laugh lines. “I’d be hella proud!” 

As his words click, Jimin’s jaw hangs open.

Wait a second.

Did Jungkook just say first kiss? 

“H-has your brother ever kissed anyone before?” 

“Meh, no. Said he’s reserving them for The One, or some sappy shit.”

Jimin gasps, hands flying to his mouth, as heavy guilt settles into his stomach like an uninvited snake, coiling and slithering without remorse. If there’s a feeling as strong as shame, it’s probably guilt, and Jimin’s mind screams as he realizes that—

He’s a First Kiss Thief.

 

 ☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

“TaeTae,” he moans unhappily into the phone later that evening. “I’m the bane of all humanity. Please end me, I’m lower than dirt.”

At this point and time, Shame and Guilt have made themselves a home in Jimin’s heart, and he wants to smack himself for being so reckless. He’d really just gone ahead and ruined things, didn’t he?

“Okay, one by one, Jimbo. What’s up? How’d your interview go?”

Jimin snags his upper lip with his bottom teeth. “Not good. My day has been shit, but not because of the interview.” In fact, the job interview is the last thing on his mind at this very moment. Restless, Jimin paces the corridor connecting the kitchen to the living room, before returning to kitchen to open some cupboards... only to close them again.

“Then?” Taehyung prods, gentle and ready to listen like he always is, always has been.

“I perhaps kissed someone.” Jimin gulps.

“Aha, so you did manage to meet up with that AgustD boy of yours? How was he—“

“No. Not him.” Jimin gulps. “My neighbor.”

The other end of the line goes quiet. The air vents above start whirring. Jimin’s stomach churns with dread.

“Uhhhh. Don’t mind if I ask,” Taehyung drawls. “But are we still in the same fictional universe? Because I feel like I’m missing some crucial point of information here. Last I knew, you were gaga over some radio DJ.”

Jimin frowns, befuddled. “What?”

“Nothing. Never mind.” Taehyung chuckles lowly. “So. A neighbor, huh. You mean the brothers living next door?”

It’s like Taehyung already knows what Jimin is thinking without trying to. “Yeah.”

“The younger one or older?” Then, his best friend gasps. “Or don’t tell me… both?”

“Hey!” Jimin pouts. “You know I’m not like that. But um… yeah. The older one.”

“Oh…kay.” He can practically hear the gears in Taehyung’s brain churning. “Pray, tell me, my sweet pecan: what’s with this sudden change of heart?”

Jimin groans and shakes his head vehemently. “No, no! You don’t get it. I’m not into Yoongi. It was a mistake, an accident. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“You didn’t? Come on. How do you just accidentally kiss someone?”

Just like that time when he knocked on Yoongi’s door for the first time, Jimin hesitates. Why is he hesitating? He shouldn’t be hesitating.

But was it really an accident?

Instead of answering, Jimin speed-walks to his bedroom and plops face-down on the mattress, wanting to hide from the rest of the world. “I’m so confused, Tae. I don’t even know what to think anymore.”

On one hand, there’s AgustD—smooth, sweet, shy at times and a total charmer.

On the other hand, there’s this Min Yoongi living just next door, real and raw and warm albeit a little awkward. Jimin may feel like shit for stealing his first kiss, but what shocks him more is that he doesn’t even... regret it.

Groaning, he buries his face in his pillow. “I officially suck.”

“No you don't. Sucking only applies to you when it comes to the male anatomical—”

"Alright, alright, TMI." Jimin rolls over and stares at the empty ceiling. Not even his best friend's attempt at humoring him is working tonight. Then, with a heavy heart, he tells Taehyung about what Jungkook had told him earlier—about how it’s impossible to fall in love with a voice, and how it’s making him doubt everything he’s ever had with AgustD.

How real can something be if you’ve never seen it?

“Well, you know what they say,” Taehyung says noncommittally. “When in doubt, remove yourself from the situation. Give yourself some time to think, Chim. Maybe it’ll help if you sort yourself out first on your own, away from AgustD.”

Jimin rests his forearm over his eyes and sighs. “Yeah. You’re right. Perhaps I should.”

Taehyung tells him goodnight, to which Jimin responds with a half-hearted one of his own, and the moment they hang up, his phone lights up with a new incoming call. He takes note of the contact on the screen.

It’s AgustD’s number.

Speak of the devil. A whimper escapes Jimin, flare gun going off in his chest, and against his better will, he decides to follow Taehyung’s advice this time round.

He swipes over to the red button to reject the call.

When another call makes his phone ring, Jimin rejects it again. Choosing to send a text instead, he types:

 

Jpromises
Sorry. I won’t be available for a while. Something came up and I need some time

 

Jpromises
It promise it’s not you, it’s me. It’s probably best if we don’t meet up just yet, too. I’m really sorry.

 

He sends the text before his will falters. Pressing his phone close to his chest, Jimin heaves a great sigh, feeling like a shriveling sprout.

It’s probably for the best, right? His whole purpose for coming to the city was to find a job, not flirt with random boys who confused him to no end.

But if it’s for the best, then why does he want to cry?

No. Jimin shakes his head and swabs at his misty eyes. He’s a tough cookie! He can be alone; this is the perfect time to figure things out.

It’s only then that the most absurd of memories come clamoring for his brain – what was it that Jungkook said again? Something about determining your fate with your crush…

Jimin can’t believe he’s getting cajoled by a college kid to try a game as absurd as this, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and he figures he might as well try. Couldn’t hurt, right? Before he knows it he’s dragging his feet to sit at his study desk and pulling out a blank sheet of white paper. Gingerly, he picks up a pencil and writes out in capital letters:

 

F L A M E S

 

Then he writes out:

 

A G U S T D

P A R K J I M I N

 

Once again, Jimin curses himself for not finding out the radio host’s name. How could he have been so careless? The next time they talk – if they ever do again – he makes a mental note to ask.

 

Their ‘names’ only have 2 letters in common, so Jimin counts the rest, which brings him to a grand total of 13 uncommon letters. Then he counts through each letter of the word, and comes up with:

 

F L A M E S

 

Friends.

Jimin’s heart sinks. Really? Frustrated, he slams the pencil down on the table and stomps away. Just friends? He knows there’s no factual basis to silly games such as this, but he can’t help but feel bummed out that he doesn’t get to live a happily-ever-after even in a kids’ game like this. Stupid FLAMES.

He sulks, staring into the empty air with his arms folded. He sneaks a glance at his phone, and his chest deflates upon seeing that he hasn’t received any new texts from AgustD.

Jimin wants to talk to him so badly, but he’s never been anything but stubborn, and it’s with the same stubborn pride that he chooses to stick to his decision. Maybe by distancing himself from direct contact with the radio host in question, he’ll eventually fall out of like.

Nevertheless, he reckons he’s at least allowed to hear the DJ’s voice on air, even if it’s not talking to him, so when the clock strikes 3AM, Jimin turns on the radio... to find only static.

Static: shrill and scratchy, exactly like way Jimin had found it a few weeks ago. It’s like AgustD has disappeared from his life all over again. This time though, Jimin’s not sure if he’ll ever be found again.

He shuts off the radio app, head pounding painfully. Looks like he won’t be sleeping tonight.

He wanted this, so he shouldn’t complain.

Settling onto his mattress not long after, Jimin tosses and turns in his bed. Seems like Peace isn’t willing to be his friend tonight. His mind is elsewhere, echoing a name he doesn’t have the rights to utter while his eyes tear up with an inexplicable ache, so Jimin sits up and musses his hair, irritated with himself for his inability to fall asleep again.

Fresh air. He needs some fresh air.

Slipping out of bed, Jimin pads over to the kitchen to make himself some herbal tea, hating the way even that reminds him of his favorite voice. Then he slides open his balcony door and steps out...

...at the same time that someone else does, strolling out to their balcony.

Someone who lives right next door to Jimin, so that their balconies are side-by-side each other.

It’s unclear who spots who first. Jimin’s spine goes ramrod straight, while Yoongi, on the other hand, halts in his tracks and studies him with a gaze full of emotions that Jimin can’t place.

The urge to run away again seizes him again. He stole this man’s first kiss, after all.

But he doesn’t scurry off. Jimin’s feet stay rooted to the spot, because athough his face is burning with embarrassment at the memory of what he’s done earlier, having Yoongi here, now, means he’s not alone anymore.

And not being alone is exactly the breath of fresh air he wanted.

Yoongi says, shy and tentative: “Hey.”

He doesn’t seem to hate him. His eyes aren’t dark nor hard, like Jimin feared. Right then and there, Yoongi’s eyes are liquid moonlight and silver glitter, and Jimin is convinced no amount of citylights could hold a candle to this witchlight.

Jimin doesn’t understand it too well himself yet—this atmosphere that surrounds him whenever Yoongi is around, like he’s floating on air. It’s not something that can be pinned down with words. Right now all he wants is comfort and a safe place, and apart from AgustD, the only other person he’s found those in stands before him now.

“I’m about to say something really shameless after this afternoon,” Jimin says, making his words sound like a cautionary warning. “But I’ve had a shit day and I’m trying not to cry right now so...”

Yoongi waits, quiet and patient.

Jimin murmurs, “Can I ask for a hug, please?” 

 

 ☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Min Yoongi likes to consider himself a pretty simple guy: when it comes to things he doesn’t give two shits about, he’d never move his ass an inch, because he’s stubborn like that.

But for people who means galaxies to him? Yoongi would go leaps and bounds.

In this case, literally.

Jimin asked for a hug. He’s standing there, one balcony away, looking like a lost chick without its mother hen, and Yoongi kind of wants to hold him in his pocket. For keeps.

Jimin asked him—him, plain old Yoongi, and not radio star AgustD—for a hug. And so a hug he will get.

The parapet of his apartment’s balcony is about 12 inches thick, enough for a pair of feet to stand and balance on. Yoongi braces both arms against the balcony’s surface, then hoists his right leg over the ledge.

He hears his neighbor gasp. “What are you doing?”

Yoongi looks up. Jimin’s face is a mask of panic and horror as he stares at him. “D-don’t do it!” he cries loudly, both hands stretching out in front of him as if to try and stop Yoongi. “Shit, Yoongi, oh my g- don’t do it, please. Whatever it is you’re going through, we’ll figure it out together, okay?”

Yoongi blinks, taking his time to clock in what Jimin is saying. He sits there in the ledge, frozen in place as realization dawns on him.

Oh.

By now, Jimin’s upper torso is half-leaning out over his own balcony, face streaking with fat teardrops, arms outstretched. “Yoongi, please, talk to me. I’m here, I’ll catch you, just don’t—“

Yoongi cuts him off with a sudden grin. “You silly.”

Then he hauls his left leg over the ledge, stands up, and leaps.

The distance between his and Jimin’s balconies can’t be any more than a door’s width, and Yoongi’s pulse skyrockets as he lurches, weightless for a moment...

...before landing in Jimin’s arms.

Jimin, who lets out a shrill yell from the impact of their collision. Jimin, who, out of instinct, immediately clings onto Yoongi and wraps both arms tight around his waist. They lose balance and topple backwards, knocked over by the jump’s force. When Yoongi’s elbows bump against the balcony’s floor, pain shoots up his arms and he groans. Feeling Jimin’s chin digging into his shoulder blade, he hisses in pain.

Seriously. The things he does for this boy.

Nonetheless, Yoongi’s heart sings on the inside, because hug?

Big fat check. Achieved!

But then he frowns, realizing that underneath him, Jimin’s shoulders are shaking with tremors, face still pressed hard into the juncture of his neck.

“Jimin?” Yoongi says, heart plummeting. He uncoils one arm from around Jimin’s waist to lift his chin and lock gazes. “Hey. What’s wrong?”

His neighbor pounds at his upper arms with trembling fists, and Yoongi flinches until he slowly disentangles himself from him. He doesn’t scoot far, though. “Ow, ow. What was that for?”

Jimin shoots dagger eyes at him. “You idiot! What was that for? Who the fuck jumps from their balcony like that?”

Yoongi racks his brain for a proper answer for an improper act.

(He comes up with nothing in his defense.)

“You could’ve lost your balance and hit your head on the parapet!” Jimin admonishes, nostrils flaring. “Or worse, slipped and fell over the railing. Yoongi, I can’t even—“

“You wanted a hug.”

Jimin halts mid-sentence, face still distorted with apprehension. “What?”

Yoongi clears his throat, ignoring the way his face is warming. “You wanted a hug. So I gave you one.”

If anybody thought he’d miss out on the chance to hug Jimin, they were sorely mistaken.

He watches the way a myriad of emotions flash over Jimin’s eyes, reflecting the city lights below like projector slides in technicolor. Rouge fury, grey confusion, orange perplexion, until finally, the teal blue of relief.

With a huff, Jimin punches Yoongi’s side lightly, now with less bite. “You scared me.”

“I daresay horror is my forte,” Yoongi jokes, grabbing Jimin’s hand—the one he used to punch Yoongi with—by the wrist before gently unfurling his curled fist so that now, their palms lay flat against each other.

He’s surprised—the pleased kind— when Jimin doesn’t pull away.

The whole day today, Yoongi spent a lot of time and lost brain cells fretting over what Jimin thought of that sudden kiss back by the piano. Is he blaming himself? Is he angry?

(Personally, Yoongi would’ve preferred for the kiss to last longer, but we can’t all have nice things.)

And when Jimin kept rejecting his calls right before sending those Ominous Text Messages, panic surged through Yoongi, and his mounting worry tripled to the point that he called in sick to his station producer for the meantime.

“I’m sick, PD-nim,” he’d mumbled.

“Fever?”

“No. Heartsick .”

Now, here he is in front of Jimin at last, and although Yoongi swears he had a monologue and a half prepared for when they finally got the chance to talk, he finds himself dazed, not quite able to form words.

Even distraught, Jimin is as beautiful as starfire.

His hair, a shaggy sandy blond, is tousled in a way that drapes over his warm brown eyes in loose curls, and he fights back to urge to reach out and push them aside. His lips: cherry and velvet. His skin: milky fair and porcelain.

“Don’t ever do that again, okay?” Jimin chides glumly. He holds out a tiny pinky finger. “Promise me.”

Yoongi raises an eyebrow at his outstretched hand. “Pinky promises? Seriously?”

“What?” Jimin says indignantly. “They’re the equivalent of blood oaths, except without blood.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, but he’s nothing if not weak for brown-eyed boys with crescent moon smiles, so he raises a hand to link pinkies with Jimin anyway. “Fine.”

There are varying degrees of zing and tingle, and from where his skin makes contact with Jimin’s hand, there is zing. There is tingle. For the first time that night, Jimin’s face spreads out into a slow, genuine smile, and Yoongi is convinced he’s minutes away from going into cardiac arrest.

(Not really, but you know.)

“So,” he stands and dusts off his backside, before pulling Jimin up along with him. “Rough day?”

It’s the same thing Jimin asked him back at Café Mono, but this time round he’s not just asking about Jimin’s day, and they both know it.

“A little.” Jimin leans his elbows against the balcony’s edge, quietly watching tiny cars zip by in the streets below them. From where they stand, the world looks so far away, like they’re viewing it from a different screen. Untouchable. “By the way….um.” He grows hesitant, but Yoongi waits. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier…“

Ah. Right, that kiss. Yoongi purses his lips and croaks, “You uh, you don’t have to apologize.” He doesn’t want to hear how much Jimin regrets it, because Yoongi sure doesn’t.

Jimin glances at him for a nanosecond, then shifts his eyes back to the distant skyline. “Yoongi, you don’t sleep that well either, do you?”

Yoongi nods slowly. “I consider myself nocturnal.”

Jimin smiles ruefully. “We really aren’t that different, then.” He cocks his head in the direction of the city. “Sometimes I tell myself I’m not so alone, that there are other people out there who can’t sleep at night either, and it helps me feel better.”

“We could start a club,” Yoongi offers, half-joking. “Call it ‘Night Owls Society: All Resident Insomniacs Welcome’.”

“We’ve got free soju and fried chicken,” Jimin chimes in.

“We don’t claim people who pour their milk before cereal.”

“And when we say Netflix and chill, it literally means marathoning movie after movie while bingeing on Doritos.”

“And wine,” Yoongi adds, grinning. “We’ll take over the night and rule while the world sleeps.”

A rueful smile. “That’d be fun,” Jimin sighs, looking out over the view before them. “We live in a city of night owls, on a boulevard of broken dreams.”

Green Day, huh?” Yoongi can’t help it—the radio host in him identifies music like a jukebox on the spot. “Why that song?”

To his surprise, Jimin’s lips quaver, and his eyes start glistening with unshed tears. He looks up, craning his head backwards in the way that people do when they’re trying to fight back their tears. 

Although Yoongi longs to reach for him, he keeps a respectful distance, waiting patiently, quietly.

Then Jimin speaks, soft and hesitant: “I ran away from home.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Hearing himself say the words out loud, ringing back in his own ears, sends nausea coursing through Jimin. He doesn’t even know why, of all people, he’s baring his heart out to someone as random as his neighbor, but here he is.

And the words don’t stop.

“I ran away from home because I felt lost in my own skin,” he says, his voice a hum in his throat. “But I never expected it to be this… tough. I thought being alone would do me some good, y’know? Find yourself and all that.”

Back in his hometown, he’d been Park Jimin, Golden Son.

Fifteen solid years of modern dance experience, starting even before he entered elementary school. He won competitions and aced recitals, became someone to envy and work towards. Even his peers’ parents were proud of him, rather than their own children.

Jimin was groomed for greatness, or so he’d always heard from his instructors, and his parents knew it, too. Oh, how they bragged. How they announced that their son was the standout of his class, the rose among a clump of weeds.

“My dad and mum were proud of me,” he continues.

Yoongi furrows his eyebrows, not seeing his point.

So Jimin inhales and adds, “But I wasn’t proud of me.”

There comes a time in our lives when we hit a crossroad lined with mirrors—you look at your reflection and think, This is me?

Sometimes you marvel at what you see. Other times you wonder who the hell that person in the mirror is. Would 10-year-old you be proud of what they see on the other side?

A week before graduation, Jimin had looked at himself in the mirror—truly looked, instead of giving a fleeting once-over—and saw not Park Jimin, but ‘Golden Son’. A caricature of himself molded by his parents’ pride and society’s expectations.

And something snapped.

“I didn’t like it,” he tells Yoongi, who has somehow found a way to rub soothing circles into the palm of his hand. “I mean, sure I loved dancing, but...”

But his world his had been so... small. Jimin felt indefinite, like a half-formed ball of gas that didn’t know how to be the star everyone wanted. It was then that he knew he wasn’t quite where or who he was supposed to be.

“So I packed up. Took all my savings one night and just... left.” Jimin chews on his lower lip, suppressing the growing knot of anxiety in settling deep in his tummy. “Got a place in the big city, started looking for jobs. I was cool, yeah? Or so I thought. I left behind everything I’d ever known for a shot at what-could-be.”

Taehyung was the only one who knew about his grand plan.

He was the only one who supported Jimin, who made it a point to make himself unreachable to anyone from his hometown. Though Taehyung never says it out loud, Jimin is sure his parents must hate him. Hell, who wouldn’t?

Scholarship gone. A shot at superstardom, gone down the drain.

His first few weeks in the city ware great, thrilling even. Jimin basked in the gentle chaos of nightlife, took morning walks at the nearby park. He was alone and free. But life happens, and to Jimin it happened in the form of money running out. It’s as simple and complex as that.

And then he realized—he was alone, and lonely, in a city where people worked like robots and basic necessities were expensive. Takeout street stalls replaced fine dining restaurants. Carefully rationed packets of ramen instead of strips of meat, because meat is expensive. Everything the movies said were lies, because life alone isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

Then the nightmares happened, and even sleep no longer came easy to him.

“I’ve been living a sheltered fairytale my whole life,” Jimin sniffs, cursing himself for looking so weak in front of Yoongi. “And then I walked out, thinking myself brave, but reality is just. Tough.” He frowns and blinks back the tears. “It’s hard.”

Yoongi squeezes his hand, quiet and reassuring, and Jimin gives him a sad smile in return. “I used to think I knew who I was and what my dream was, but somewhere along the way I guess I lost sight of it. So I came here to find myself, but instead I just...”

Broke myself.

“Lost myself,” he finishes bitterly.

Sixteen floors below them, a car honks, and a drunken man shouts profanities. From the next apartment building over, a dog howls. Life in the city hustles & bustles on, and Jimin feels like a pebble in a sea—lost, unfound.

“So?” Yoongi quips after a moment. “That’s your sob story?”

His words carry more sting than they should. Jimin flinches. “What?”

“What’s next? You’re gonna waste away and drown in self-pity now?” Yoongi arches an eyebrow, mouth pressed into a tight line.

“I...” Hurt, Jimin swipes his hand away from his neighbor’s grasp and crosses his arms, trying not to sniffle. “Well, I’m so sorry to bore you with my misery.”

Because seriously. What an awful, mean thing to say. Yoongi doesn’t get it one bit. Perhaps baring his heart out to random neighbors isn’t such a good idea after all. Jimin stands up. “I’m so sorry that you have your life so put-together, so you don’t know what it’s like to feel like Pluto!”

A scoff. “Pluto?”

“I’m just...” Jimin sniffles again, and he presses the back of his hands against his eyes so that he won’t have to look Yoongi in the face. Keep it together. “I’m just a meaningless dwarf planet, Yoongi. I’m just—”

Trying to make it in a solar system of real planets. Jimin feels like a pretender. He takes a slow, steadying breath.

“It’d be nice to feel like I belong somewhere. Is that so bad? Is it so bad to want to find a safe place?” Jimin lets out a shaky exhale to mark his words, heart laden with lead. “Who am I kidding, you probably don’t care—“

Yoongi silences him by pressing their lips together.

Jimin freezes, caught completely off-guard. It’s a brief peck—not lasting more than a second—but it does the job. All words die in his throat and his mouth goes dry as his brain struggles to keep up with what just happened. He parts his lips to say something, anything to calm the jackrabbiting of his heart, but comes up short.

What was that for?

“We both know that’s not true.” Unfazed, Yoongi holds Jimin close by the shoulders. “Listen closely.”

Still stunned, Jimin just nods dumbly. What are words?

“I’m not the best at comforting people like this, but let me just say what I know.” Yoongi keeps his eyes trained on Jimin. Gentle. Understanding. “Fact is, life’s the biggest slut. It screws everyone over.”

His words pull a startled chuckle out of Jimin, who finally snaps out of his stunned reverie.

Yoongi grins back sheepishly, “Hey now, don’t laugh at me while I’m in Advisor Mode. Anyway,” he continues, “We make decisions, yeah—some good, others terrible. Do you regret yours?”

Does he? Coming all the way out here, meeting new people, finding new places.

Finding possible love.

Jimin remembers the night he found AgustD’s radio station, the first time he got a fitful night’s rest after a cycle of nightmare-ridden days.

Slowly, he shakes his head.

“If you don’t, then that means somewhere deep down inside, you’re still holding out hope that things will work out,” Yoongi says sternly. “Think of it as a journey, Jimin, not a destination. Yes you’ll be miserable at times, but it will pass.”

With a sniffle, Jimin swallows down the lump in his throat, and Yoongi gives his hair an affectionate ruffle, and uses one thumb to stroke away a stray teardrop from Jimin’s cheek. Then he says, with raw wisdom beyond his years: “If you feel like you’re going to crash, then step down on the pedal and accelerate more, you idiot.”

Jimin breaks.

His face crumples, and as the first sob tears out from his throat, he yanks Yoongi by his hoodie’s strings to bury his face into his shoulder. He’s been so, so fucking tired lately, just another bone-weary soul on the cusp of adulthood. Hearing the smallest ounce of sincerity from a kind soul feels like balm to his bruises.

Yoongi wraps both arms around him and holds him steady, keeps him grounded. Jimin is a kite string and he is a rock boulder keeping him tethered to the earth. “So cry. Cry now so that when tomorrow comes, you’re back on your A game again.”

He’s not even AgustD, but Jimin feels just as safe.

“Thank you,” he murmurs into Yoongi’s chest, hands fiddling with the hem of his hoodie. “Your words are like... chicken soup. Or band-aids.”

“Band-aids for broken dreams, huh,” Yoongi mutters. “Sounds like a great song title.”

The ghost of a smile pulls at Jimin’s lips. “Are you a songwriter or something?”

“In a manner of speaking.” Yoongi smoothens his hair with one hand, and when Jimin starts pulling away, his neighbor’s arms tighten their hold around his waist. “What? No more hugging already?”

Jimin laughs. “I wouldn’t wanna make you feel obligated—“

“I fucking jumped over a balcony for you, and you say I feel obligated?” Yoongi says, feigning affront. “Wow.”

Jimin blinks. “Um...”

“Consider this as me paying you back for taking care of me when I was sick,” Yoongi tells him matter-of-factly, cupping the back of his head to pull Jimin close to his shoulder again. “I give you cuddle rights just for tonight. Be very honored. Now my debt is repaid.”

His words almost prompt a giggle from Jimin. Debt, huh. He can roll with that. “Fine.”

He melts into Yoongi’s hold, presses his ear to his chest where he can hear each heartbeat thud. Jimin wonders if he should mention Yoongi kissing him to shut him up just now, but reckons it’s just probably some sort of... repayment, too, for what he did at the piano store.

“Jimin-ah.”

“Hmm?”

Yoongi’s voice is a soft whisper beside his ear. “Do you know what sea glass are?”

What a random question. Jimin turns his head to nestle more comfortably against the crook of Yoongi’s neck. “No.”

“They’re random bits and pieces of things that were once whole.” Yoongi brings up a hand and cards it through Jimin’s hair. “Like shards of a broken mirror, or a bottle adrift the sea. Different colors, different shapes and sizes. They wash up a beach shore, ugly and broken and waiting to be found, but once someone who cares about them does, they can become so beautiful.” He pauses, voice deepening to a rasp, and pulls back to look Jimin straight in the eye. “So fucking beautiful.”

Jimin frowns, not quite understanding where Yoongi is going with this. Perhaps he should ask for photo examples of this so-called sea glass. “And your point is?”

He feels Yoongi’s chest rise in an inhale. “You’re some meaningless dwarf planet, okay? Rather than Pluto, Jimin, I– I think you’re sea glass.”

Chapter Text

confessions, and then some.

 

It’s usually easy to miss beauty when you don’t look. It’s the little things in life—elderly couples walking while holding hands, a child’s laugh ringing through the park, the sky being kind for once and not pouring without warning.

But it’s not easy to miss beauty when it’s right before you.

At Yoongi’s words, Jimin visibly melts and it’s as if his legs have turned to jelly, because suddenly Yoongi holds back a gasp as he loops an arm around his waist to keep his knees from buckling. He watches Jimin’s Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallows, eyes swimming with emotions unnamed.

So this is what swooning looks like, Yoongi muses, and he prides himself for making someone as beautiful as Park Jimin blush. A small smile creeps up his face as he lifts one hand to smooth Jimin’s bangs. “Need some tea for that? For uh, calming?”

Jimin’s eyes are hazy, clouded with a daydream the world isn’t privy to, but Yoongi’s words snap him back to Earth.

“Tea?” he parrots breathily, standing upright and wiggling to loosen Yoongi’s hold on him. “Right. Yes.” He presses a hand to his chest as if to check his heartbeat. “Definitely need some tea.”

And under the sprinkling of dim city lights, Yoongi swears he sees two splotches of pink dusting across Jimin’s cheeks as he steps backwards.

He spins around to enter the direction of his house, then pauses to glance back at Yoongi just as he reaches the balcony threshold. “Do you... wanna come in?”

Yoongi grins, and he doesn’t miss the way Jimin’s eyes widen his gummy smile. “Thought you’d never ask.”

This could be his chance. He could tell Jimin who he really is tonight, and then they’d maybe hopefully kiss and live happily ever after. You know, the usual. Yoongi wants to think he’s a patient man, but that would be lying. Now that he’s established a more secure sense of closeness with his neighbor a.k.a his secret radio caller friend, he just wants to get to the happily-ever-aftering part already.

Jimin leads him inside to the kitchen, towards a countertop separating the dining area and the pantry, and immediately they’re surrounded by the heated warmth of the apartment. Sparsely decorated, Jimin’s flat place smells like himself—lavender and spearmint. Simple. Clean. Cozy.

Yoongi offers to help boil some hot water in the kettle, but Jimin respectfully declines with a stern ‘tsk-tsk’.

“You’re my guest,” he reasons. “Sit down and do... guest-ly stuff.”

So Yoongi does, and as his lowers himself onto one of the stools at the kitchen, he clocks in the muted silence of Jimin’s flat. The only sounds are of him bustling around the kettle, the clink of ceramic mugs being placed on the marble counter, and the crinkling of tea packets ripping open.

Yoongi watches Jimin’s back, hunkered over what he’s doing, and feels a rush of sadness for this sweet boy. Hell, if he lived in a place like this, with nothing but cold quiet to greet him—none of Jungkook’s incoherent fanboying or a trusty old keyboard to make music with—he’d be crazy lonely, too.

“So how did your job interview today go?” he asks as a conversation starter.

“They said they’ll get back to me, but that’s literally what the last four companies told me too, and did they?” Jimin turns around, one steaming mug of tea in each hand. He sets one down in front of Yoongi, a look of disdain curling the corners of his mouth. “Surprise surprise: nope.”

“Companies like those are like stupid exes,” Yoongi says. “You’re better off without them.”

“Philosophical. Enlighten me more.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, if only to hide how much he’s enjoying this. One minute Jimin’s blubbering all over him, the next they’re trading wit and banter like lightning bolts in a stormy sky. “Just keep trying.”

Suddenly, Jimin freezes, and stares at him.

“What?” Yoongi says, taking a sip off his mug.

“How did you...” Trailing off, Jimin furrows his eyebrows, as though ruminating his next words. “How did you know I had a job interview today?”

Yoongi chokes on his tea. Fuck.

Instinct kicks up inside of him. Thing is, Yoongi’s never been fond of letting others know about his alter ego or the nature of his job, so instead of telling the truth, his mouth goes against his will and blurts out, “You uh. You mentioned it earlier! At the balcony. While telling me your story.”

Double fuck. Now he’s done it. Cursing to himself, Yoongi grimaces. There goes his chance at happily-ever-aftering. Missed opportunity! Strike one. Yellow card. Stupid, stupid self.

Why, oh why, did he have to panic?

“Huh.” Jimin tilts his head to one side thoughtfully, unaware of the panic brewing in Yoongi’s chest. “Did I? Maybe the lack of sleep is making me forgetful?”

Heart in his throat, Yoongi can only make a garbled, dying whale noise that he hopes to pass off a chortle. “Hah. Maybe.”

He should shut up. Shut up and rewind time by a few seconds, so that he could—

“Well, enough about me for tonight, then.” Jimin chuckles and turns his mug, cupped between sweaterpaws. “I’ve always wondered about you.”

Yoongi blinks. “Me?”

Jimin nods. “Jungkook once mentioned that you work graveyard hours. So... what is your job? I feel like you know so much about me, but I hardly know you.”

Yoongi’s eyes widen, pulse spiking. Finally—a window of opportunity! He whoops internally. Jungkook had always told him to “carpe diem” more, to be more willing to seize any given moment, so he decides that this is it: the Moment Of Truth. Carpe fucking diem, baby. He’s spent so many countless nights imagining, daydreaming about this exact scenario to happen, wondering who his mysterious caller was.

And the fact that it’s been Jimin all along? Perfect. The stars are aligning in his favor. This is his chance to redeem himself!

It’s time.

Setting down his mug, Yoongi leans forward on his forearms and puts on his best impression of a mysterious Casanova smile, smirk and all. Gotta fake the confidence even though he’s highkey screaming on the inside. “Hmmm. You wouldn’t believe me.”

Jimin shoots him a pointed look. “Try me.”

“Well, what if I told you,” Yoongi drawls suggestively, heart hammering in his chest, “—that I’m secretly the radio host AgustD by night?”

There it is. Cat’s out of the bag. Yoongi holds his breath and keeps both eyes trained on Jimin’s face intently, waiting for that moment where everything clicks and falls in place. See, if this were a movie, this is what should rightfully happen:


• Jimin gasps and squeals
• Yoongi nods smugly and goes all, “Yeah, you got me”
• they hug and kiss
• Happily Ever Aftering Time


But instead, tea squirts out of Jimin’s noise as he bursts out in peals of laughter. He clutches his stomach as he bends over while Yoongi sits there, still as a statue, mortified and a little flabbergasted because– what the fuck?

“You’re right,” Jimin says between gasps, wiping a tear away. “I don’t believe you. Oh, that’s funny.”

“It’s true,” Yoongi insists weakly, his grip on his mug’s handle faltering as he remembers– he can’t even prove it to Jimin now. He doesn’t take photos at work, and he lost his company ID a month ago and couldn’t be bothered to replace it. Shit. Now he regrets it. “He and I are one.”

“Yeah, tell me more,” Jimin giggles, resting one chin on the palm of his hand as he regards Yoongi with amusement dancing in his eyes. “Say, if you’re AgustD, then I’m Prince William.”

Yoongi’s mouth goes dry, and his brain short circuits. He didn’t have a plan for this scenario. In fact, he didn’t have a Plan B for any other outcome at all. What’s even worse is the idea that Jimin doesn’t even consider him anywhere close to his cooler, smoother persona. Is Min Yoongi that plain and boring compared to AgustD? Or is he so damn professional that people can’t recognize him as his on-air persona? Surely there must be glaring similarities, come on.

But Jimin’s face says it all – mirthful eyes and cheeky grin; he really does think Yoongi is bluffing. Tension whooshes out of his in the form of a loud sigh. There are too many thoughts whirling in his mind. His heart sinks.

Suppressing the urge to sniffle and pout, Yoongi pushes away from the kitchen stool and stands up to leave. “I’ve overstayed my welcome.”

Jimin blinks. “Huh?”

“I’m going back.” Deep inside him, Yoongi knows he can just call Jimin and prove it, but he’s far too pissed after getting laughed at. He turns to head for the front door, but before he can stride two feet out of the kitchen, a hand grabs for the hem of his hoodie.

“Wait.”

Yoongi halts mid-step.

“Please don’t go yet,” Jimin pleads, voice soft and small, all previous glee gone, and Yoongi wants to smack himself for being so damn weak.

He turns around. “I think you should—“

The breath is knocked out of him when Jimin launches himself into his arms. He freezes as the boy embraces him tight, hooking his chin over the crook of his neck as though burrowing for warmth. Despite knowing better, the angry stiffness and tension melts away from Yoongi’s shoulders like butter on warm bread.

“I’m sorry if I said anything to offend you,” Jimin whispers wetly. “Don’t go yet?”

Yoongi’s eyes fall shut. He’s always been a terrible naysayer, and now isn’t any different.

“It’s just... I forget that I’m not a failure when I’m with you, you know?” Jimin shares. “Please stay. I wasn’t gonna tell you this, but I was hoping to fall asleep with you here.”

Against all logic, Yoongi’s arms come around to rest on Jimin’s waist, returning the embrace. Damn this boy and his own weak heart.

“You’re not a failure,” he says, trying not to sound choked up. Later, he tells himself. Later when he’s thinking clearer, he’ll come up with something. Some fresh way to let Jimin know the truth. “Don’t be dramatic.”

Jimin pulls back. “I had to be. You were gonna leave.”

“Well, now I’m not.” Yoongi gently unhooks Jimin’s arms from around his neck. “Where’s your bedroom? Come on. I’ll tuck you in.”

He doesn’t understand Jimin’s fixation with falling asleep with him (he’d rather sleep with him, but ah. Well.), yet for some reason Yoongi’s glad Jimin wants him to stay.

A triumphant smile blossoms across Jimin’s face, and he looks like a child who’s just convinced his mother to buy him the candy he wants. Grabbing Yoongi’s hands, he steers them into his room.

It’s plainly furnished, like the rest of his apartment—a king-sized bed tucked against the far end of the wall, a lone lamp on a polished wooden nightstand. Jimin switches it on, bathing the minimalistic room in a warm sepia glow. There aren’t many knickknacks scattered on the floor, not a lot of personal belongings that make the place look completely lived-in, and it reminds Yoongi that Jimin has only been here for a little more than a month.

When Jimin crawls into his bed, Yoongi kind of just... lingers by the door awkwardly.

“No need to be scared,” his neighbor says lightheartedly, settling under his duvet. “I won’t bite.”

No, but I might, Yoongi thinks to himself grimly. Jimin looks absolutely adorable surrounded by his blankets, like a newly hatched chick, and distantly he tells himself to hold back and not jump the poor guy.

Jimin pats the empty space beside him. “Come sit beside me.”

Yoongi finds his feet following suit, and before he knows it he’s perched on the edge of Jimin’s mattress. He clears his throat, trying not to look too flustered. “So. How, exactly, do you want to do this? Shall I Google a bedtime story and read to you?”

Jimin smacks his arm.

“Ow. You keep hitting me!”

“You’re squishy, that’s why!” Jimin counters.

Yoongi rolls his eyes, then sits cross-legged. His eyes take their time scanning Jimin’s face, now smiling and his head covered by the yellow blanket that he’s got wrapped around his whole frame.

“This is nice,” Jimin comments, and Yoongi can’t help but silently agree.

The mattress squeaks when Jimin shifts, and Yoongi splutters incoherently when he moves to rest his head on his lap. “Your voice is so warm. Actually, it kinda reminds me of someone.. .can you keep talking? Or sing. I think it’ll help me fall asleep.”

Yoongi balks at that. “Sing?”

“Or anything you want.” Jimin yawns, eyes fluttering shut. Yoongi sits frozen, hyper-aware of the warmth of the guy’s head on his lap, yet not quite knowing what to do with his hands. Silently, he curses himself for being such an awkward prick at important moments like these. When Jimin speaks once more, his voice is soft with sleep: “I just like this... being close to someone. It’s been a while. Taehyung used to cuddle with me a lot.”

Though he has no idea who in the world that is, Yoongi just hums in acknowledgement.

Now, on no grounds would he would ever sing for just anyone, but Jimin isn’t just anyone, so he picks a personal favorite, and tries his best not to croak out a tune in that raspy voice of his:

 

 

“I turn off the lights and let you sleep

Just close your eyes and

Breathe in slowly

No don’t feel lonely ‘cause

 

I’ll be right here by your side

If you should awake into the night

Keep dreaming ‘cause I’ll be

Keeping your heart in mine”

 

 

When Jimin’s breathing gradually evens out and turns shallow, he sings softly:

 


“Even in the hardest times,

When you’re feeling lost

Don’t give up because it’s alright

When you close your eyes

 

I’m by your side.”

 

Moonlight cascades from the open window in silver wispy streaks, and Jimin’s face glows.

Yoongi’s hummed words fade down, and he stops to stare, breath hitching. The whole world—it pauses on its axis to hyperfocus on this one moment, where he leans down to brush stray locks of hair splayed over Jimin’s forehead. When he’s asleep like this, the creases of worry ease off his features, making him look years younger. He’s both beautiful and handsome, in a way that makes Yoongi’s chest hurt. Jimin is a well of mysteries that he is only learning to unravel, piece by piece.

“Good night, sweetheart,” Yoongi whispers, pressing a featherlight kiss to his forehead.

It’s quiet in the room, but his heart races madly in his ribcage as he lifts Jimin’s head from his lap to rest on his pillow. When he reaches over to turn off the lamp on the nightstand, Jimin’s phone vibrates and lights up suddenly, and in the stillness of the apartment, it’s a ruckus that makes Yoongi cringe. Even in vibration mode for phone calls, it’s noisy against the wooden surface of the nightstand, and Yoongi fears it will wake Jimin up.

Should he help to pick up the call?

Though Yoongi really, really hates disrespecting others’ privacy, he figures he’ll break his own rule just once this time round. It’s probably just some random wrong number, anyway; maybe some insurance company with their advertising talk, so all he has to do is reject the call. But a glance tells him the caller ID is “Soulmate”, and when Yoongi answers the phone he finds—

“Aha! I knew it!” a baritone squawks from the other end of the line. “My gut feeling was right! You’re still up. You haven’t been sleeping well, have you, Park Jimin?”

“Uh.” Yoongi fumbles for an answer, glancing back towards the bed. “Jimin actually is asleep right now.”

A theatric gasp. “Chim– wait, no, who is this?”

“This is... his neighbor,” Yoongi says.

“Ohh. Piano Kiss Guy, huh? I’m Taehyung. Kim Taehyung.”

Yoongi feels his cheeks go hot. Piano Kiss Guy? “Um.”

“Wait. Waaaait a second. If you’re with Jimin and it’s 4.52am now,” the voice theorizes, “—did you guys… like, sleep together?”

Yoongi’s eyes blow wide and he stammers a garbled response, but Taehyung doesn’t seem to be listening, because he mutters darkly: “That sneaky Park Jimin... I could’ve sworn he told me he was out to steal AgustD’s heart”

Startled, Yoongi purses his lips. “Well, about that...”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾  

 

Later, when Yoongi ends the call with Jimin’s best friend, it’s with a gleam in his eye as his fingers clench in excitement. He struggles to fight back a squeal. Bless this Kim Taehyung for his creative genius and knack for formulating wacky plans.

Because there’s a wild tornado brewing.

Yoongi grins.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

When Jimin wakes up the next morning, the sun is already high in the sky, and one glance at the digital clock on his nightstand tells him he’s slept in. Calling it a morning now might even be too far of a stretch, since it’s practically almost noon.

And... someone is holding his hand.

Awareness sinks in. Rubbing away the sleep from his bleary eyes—it’s a miracle that he’s slept this long—Jimin blinks to find his vision zeroing in on a mop of black hair. On the floor; with his head face-down on Jimin’s bed.

“Yoongi,” he croaks, voice rough from sleep. “Why are you on the floor?”

Not hearing him, his neighbor only stirs, mumbling inaudibly, and turns his head sideways. His eyes remain closed. Jimin snags his upper lip with his lower teeth in an attempt to bite back a smile. Rolling over to one side, he scoots closer to watch the way Yoongi’s eyes roll and shift under his eyelids. Dreaming.

Jimin thinks he will never under the way Yoongi makes every small thing seem fascinating to him. Even now, under the late morning sun, Jimin’s eyes widen slowly as he studies wisps of light that seem to settle Yoongi’s long eyelashes like lost flecks of fairy glimmer, and he grows curious. Are they soft to touch, too?

Quietly, so as not to disturb this fragile air between them, Jimin reaches out to brush them. Right before his fingers make contact with Yoongi’s skin though, his neighbor’s eyes snap open.

Jimin gasps softly, caught red-handed.

“Oh. Um,” he starts withdrawing his hand, heart in a state of sudden disquiet.

But then Yoongi grabs his hand, never breaking eye contact.

Jimin feels all breath rush out of him. Their gazes stay locked, and he thinks he sees something deep and burning, flashing across those dark eyes. But then it’s gone the next second when Yoongi smiles and stretches like a cat, letting his hand go.

“Morning,” he yawns.

Jimin leans away to put some distance between them and clears his throat. “You stayed,” he notes, not even bothering to hide the happiness in his voice.

Why? Why is he so glad? Yoongi doesn’t mean anything to him, so... why?

“You asked,” Yoongi responds, stretching his neck to crack some muscles, and wincing when he realizes that his sleeping position has caused a stiff neck.

“Why’d you sleep on the floor, though?”

At his question, Yoongi flushes pink. “I didn’t have your consent to sleep on your bed.”

Jimin tuts his tongue, but his heart rate spikes in appreciation for Yoongi. A man who knows the meaning of respect? Rare.

Sliding out of bed, he beckons, “Come on. It’s a little too late for breakfast, so I’ll make us some brunch.”

Yoongi stops stretching, and chews on his inner cheeks. “Do you mind if I... uh. Head over to my place and clean up a little first? Hygiene, you know.”

Jimin gives him a one-shouldered shrug. “Sure.” Then he adds playfully, “And take the front door, will you? No more jumping balconies.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Wasn’t gonna. You told me not to.”

Jimin smirks. “You’re an obedient one, aren’t you?”

“Nah. Just looking out for your blood pressure.” Yoongi winks at him. “I’m kind.”

“Oh, shut up.” Jimin grins and picks up a pillow off the bed to mimic throwing it at Yoongi, but his neighbor scampers out of his bedroom in a flash. A few moments later, he hears the front door click shut.

Jimin’s fingers curl around the pillow, warmth spreading to his toes.

It’s been a while since he felt like this. It’s been a while since he woke up feeling refreshed and energized rather than with the urge to sink into the pits of hopelessness. Yoongi must be some kind of magic maker. Or perhaps he’s a sleepsmith. Jimin’s not inclined to believe in fairytales, but Yoongi kind of feels like one.

He’s humming to himself and setting the dining table when the doorbell starts ringing over and over, as though someone can’t help but press it… which is strangely out of character for someone with a disposition as calm as Yoongi’s. Nevertheless, Jimin goes to open the door without peeking into the peephole, because who else would it be?

“Hey, brunch is—“

“CHIM!”

Jimin’s next words get cut off when all breath is knocked out of his lungs as somebody leaps to wrap both arms around his neck. What in the world? He stumbles back in panic and tries to yank the person’s arms off, but they hold him tight, like a koala to a tree.

“W-wait, sorry—“

“My sweet sparrow! The wheel to my barrow, my one true soulmate,” the newcomer all but weeps into Jimin’s shoulder, and recognition shoots through him at the sound of that familiar baritone.

Jimin stammers, “Taehyung?”

His best friend pulls back, all smiles, and salutes. “Yo. Long time.”

Taehyung’s hair is the color of ripe strawberries, and his golden skin is a lot tanner now. His eyes are still kind, but they’re still gleaming with mischief, like they always are.

Jimin’s jaw drops as wave of emotions crash through him, not noticing how he’s tearing up until Taehyung wipes his cheek. It’s only been a month and yet it’s been forever and a half. There’s a dam welling up inside Jimin, and he ekes out a small and hesitant, “You’re really here?”

Friends—we don’t miss them until they’re gone, until they’re walking a different path. For the longest time, they were TaehyungandJimin, JiminandTaehyung—neither one complete without the other. People at home even called them twins. Here is the person who cried with him inside bathrooms on days when Jimin threw up his lunches, the person who knows him inside out.

Jimin didn’t know he wasn’t whole until he went without Taehyung.

“Chimchim, why are you crying!” Taehyung half-chortles, but Jimin can see right through him, can hear the crack in his voice, and through his blurry vision he sees that Taehyung’s eyes are misty, too.

When Taehyung pulls him in for a tight hug, something inside of Jimin calms, like a thunderstorm finally succumbing to stillness.

Friends—we make homes out of them. How lucky we all are; to have the privilege of finding pieces of our souls scattered somewhere in this world.

And that’s how Yoongi finds them, sniffling into each other’s shoulders by the threshold of Jimin’s apartment. If only Jimin had eyes at the back of his head, he’d catch the exact moment Taehyung spots his neighbor... and grins wide.

“Am I interrupting something?” Yoongi asks.

The sound of his voice alerts Jimin, and he straightens his spine, disentangling himself from Taehyung’s embrace.

“Oh,” he breathes. “Hey. Yoongi, meet my best friend, Taehyung. Taehyung, this is my...” He trails off even when he shouldn’t. What is Yoongi to him? He’s not nothing, that’s for sure. He wants to say ‘friend’, but that doesn’t sit too right, either.

“...my friendly neighborhood sugarman,” Jimin finishes lamely. Yeah. Sounds just about right.

Yoongi blanches. “Sugarman?”

Taehyung elbows Jimin, making waggly-eyebrow faces, and leans in to whisper, “Oooh. We going by nicknames now, eh?”

Heat floods Jimin’s cheeks. What the hell even is a sugarman? In what dimension does that term exist? Jimin internally slaps himself. Get a grip.

“Don’t tell me… you’re not some kind of sugar daddy, are you?” Taehyung asks Yoongi, but there’s mirth in his eyes that Jimin can’t understand.

“Alas, I’m not that rich,” Yoongi answers pseudo-dramatically, bringing up a hand to massage his nose bridge as though he’s in a do-or-die situation.

Jimin senses something a little... off between the two of them—after all, this is their first encounter, but how come they’re acting like friends?

“What I mean to say is, he’s a very... sweet neighbor,” Jimin settles on saying as a form of explanation. He points between the two of them. “Do you guys know each other?”

It’s as if his words activate a Social Politeness Switch in both men. Suddenly, Taehyung and Yoongi start bowing to each other, a cyclone of greetings and formalities spilling from their lips.

“Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too, new friend,” Taehyung says, putting extra emphasis on the phrase new friend, and Jimin wonders what the hell is going on.

Taehyung’s always been a social butterfly, but surely people aren’t on a ‘friends’ basis first time they meet?

But whatever. He’s probably looking too deeply into this. Jimin shakes his head and allows himself to bask in the glow of pure happiness—he’s flanked by two people who care about him, and for a guy who’s been sleeping and eating and doing everything alone, it’s a huge solace. Giddiness surges up and down his spine, and Jimin grins wide as he invites both Taehyung and Yoongi in for brunch. He offers to help Taehyung bring his bags in, but his best friend protests on grounds that he’s the intruder here, so he should be doing all the moving.

In Jimin’s mind, today is a Special Day, so he brings out his best ingredients to prepare a heart breakfast.... well, as hearty as he could afford. Pancakes with bacon and eggs. It’s not much, nothing to grand, but it’s the company that matters, and Jimin beams when both guys gobble them down.

“So,” he begins while they sip coffee, and Taehyung perks up to face him. “Not that I’m complaining, but what brings you here? You didn’t even warn me beforehand. I could’ve cleaned up first.”

“Uhhh—“ Taehyung does what must be the longest uhhh in the history of mankind.

So keen to hear Taehyung’s answer is Jimin that he completely misses the eye contact between his best friend and his neighbor.

“I won a contest,” Taehyung finally states matter-of-factly, eyes trained on Yoongi. “A radio contest.”

Jimin raises a skeptical eyebrow. “You listen to the radio?”

“Totally,” Taehyung balks. “What do you take me for? Someone who talks to his strawberry crops in the countryside?”

Jimin laughs, because Taehyung does sing and converse with his strawberries back home. You could say he’s dedicated like that.

“Anyway, I won a radio contest.”

“A radio contest,” Yoongi repeats. “Huh. That’s so interesting. Tell us more.”

Jimin glances at his neighbor—he’s never seen Yoongi this enthusiastic before, pupils dilated and all.

“Yeah, and the station called to tell me that I have to collect the prize here in the city.”

“So what’s the prize?” Jimin asks, sipping his coffee.

“A chance to accompany your favorite DJ to a roadshow gig!” Taehyung exclaims, tone smug. “Like a chance to see how they work during events. And it’s gonna be an overnight one at a resort out of town. Free of charge.”

Whoa. That almost sounds too good to be true. Jimin gapes at Taehyung and sits up straight, recalling the contest poster he’d scrolled past KkulFM’s Facebook page that time when he was trying to investigate AgustD’s identity. “You won that one?”

Taehyung’s eyes glint as he says, “And get this: it’s good for two. So I thought, since you’re such a huge fan of a certain AgustD, why don’t I ask you to come along...”

Jimin gasps, and his knee-jerk reaction is to whoop and cheer, but then he feels a pair of eyes trained on him. From the corner of his peripheral vision, he glimpses Yoongi watching him intently, face unreadable. He’s not saying anything, and Jimin—

Jimin, for some reason, doesn’t want Yoongi to peg him as some sort of fanboy who’s hopelessly in love with a famous, unreachable star.

So he steels the jittering in his belly until it hardens to ice, clears his throat and puts on his best apathetic veneer. “That’s... cool.”

Taehyung cocks his head to one side. “Cool?”

“Yeah, I mean,” Jimin dips his head to sip from his mug. “I’m try to get over AgustD. You told me to stay away from him, remember?”

It’s as if a snow blizzard has suddenly taken over the temperature around the dining table, because the next thing Jimin knows, Yoongi is... glaring daggers at Taehyung?!

Meanwhile Taehyung’s eyes are wide, like a deer caught in headlights.

Jimin frowns. “Um. Everything okay?”

These two sure are acting weird.

Taehyung averts his gaze, and clears his throat. “Wow. My throat is parched! Hey, do you want me to buy us some juice? Wanna show me the way, Yoongi hyung?”

Jimin’s forehead wrinkles in confusion. “Eh?”

“Sure,” Yoongi says thinly. “Let’s go.”

The two of them push their chairs back to stand up before making their way to the door.

“Be right back, Chim!” Taehyung calls out just as the door closes behind them, leaving Jimin alone in his apartment with nothing but a thousand questions marks over his head.

What?

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

“I thought you said this plan was gonna work,” Yoongi sulks the moment they’re out of earshot.

Taehyung’s little scheme had sounded so faultless—the perfect way for him and Jimin to ‘meet’. But now...

“And now I find out you’re the one who encouraged him to push me away.” Yoongi narrows his eyes into slits.

Walking beside him, Taehyung raises both hands in a show of surrender, a sheepish expression on his face. “Heh. Sorry. But hey, that was before I knew who you were, so no hard feelings, yeah?”

Yoongi sighs. “Now what?” Hopelessness claws its way into him like spiders.

Taehyung pats his shoulder reassuringly. “There, there. I’m sure there are many more fish out in the sea.”

Yoongi scowls at him. “Not helping. I don’t want any other fish. I want this fish.” With a sullen sniff, he shoves his hands into his pockets and stares at his toes of his shoes.

Taehyung hums thoughtfully. “Don’t worry, when there’s a will, there’s a way!”

“Not if the way is barricaded by roadblocks.”

“You sure are an optimist, aren’t you?”

Yoongi shrugs. “I’m a radio host, not a therapist.”

Just then, Taehyung pauses and stares at him, eyes wide.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. He can imagine the gears turning in the boy’s head. “What?”

With a snap of his fingers, Taehyung exclaims, “Exactly!”

“Exactly what?”

“You’re a radio host!” Taehyung’s eyes are shining—a little crazed, a little frightful, a lot genius—and honestly it makes Yoongi quake in his shoes a little.

“So?”

“So...” Taehyung drums his fingers together like a cartoon caricature of a scheming scientist. “Just tell him the way a radio host would. At this rate, Jimin would believe anything AgustD says.”

When Taehyung’s words finally dawn on Yoongi, he gawks at him.

And smiles.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾ 

 

After that brunchtime madness, the rest of the day passes by smoothly. Yoongi returns home from brunch to “get more sleep” and Jimin takes it upon himself to show Taehyung around his neighborhood.

Hand in hand, they skip after-rain puddles and balance on sidewalk islands, laughing. Conversation with his best friend picks up as though they’d never been apart at all. Sometime in the midst of catching up on what they missed and trading inside jokes, Taehyung slips in, “They miss you, you know. They wonder how you’re doing.”

Jimin’s chest constricts, but he doesn’t comment on those words. Life hinges heavily on chance and timing, and only now does he understand that he’s not quite ready to go back and face that side of himself just yet. Of course, he’ll eventually tackle his demons, but… slowly. He can go about it slowly.

It’s late in the afternoon when they pass by Café Mono and Jimin spots a familiar figure standing outside its glass entrance.

“Jungkook!”

The boy in question is reading a sign taped to the glass door, and at Jimin’s voice he looks up, startled. Like a bunny, he scrunches his nose. “Oh. Hey, hyung.”

After Jimin introduces Taehyung and Jungkook to each other, he glances at the sign that Jungkook was reading. “What’s that?” He peers closer.



NOW HIRING: part time and full time staff.

Walk in interviews welcome. 10,000KRW/hour.



Jimin frowns, and turns to his neighbor. “Don’t you already work at the convenience store?”

“I quit my job,” Jungkook announces with a tone of finality.

“How come?” Taehyung asks casually, as if they hadn’t just met. Ever the curious one.

Jungkook shrugs. “Boss was an asshole, and now I can ask my hyung to teach me more piano.”

Jimin leans in close to his best friend whisper, “He’s Yoongi’s younger brother.”

“Ah.” Taehyung nods in understanding.

Pointing at the sign, Jimin says, “This is a pretty cool place. I know the owner personally, and he’s great. You should definitely apply if you’re considering it.”

Taehyung nudges him. “Why don’t you give it a try, too?”

Jimin shoots him a doubtful look. “Me?”

Taehyung nods eagerly.

Come to think of it, Jimin’s never actually considered trying things outside of what he knows, fields outside of what he’s learned in university. He’s somehow convinced himself that dancers can’t—shouldn’t—be anything else, and now he wonders if he’s been stunting his own growth as a person all along.

He might’ve left behind his hometown, but he carried the wrong mindset along to the city.

The realization takes Jimin by surprise, but it doesn’t whip him like a burning lasso. Instead, he rolls back his shoulders and… nods, a smile forming on his face. If he wants to get anywhere, he has to step forward, doesn’t he? And now’s as good a time as any.

When the three of them walk into Café Mono altogether like soldiers marching in solidarity, Jimin feels like he’s finally—somehow, in baby steps—finding his footing and heading in the right direction. There’s a lightness in his chest, diffusing the shadows, and it feels... good.

And when Namjoon welcomes them all suave and warm, and Jungkook’s eyes widen at the sight of him as though struck by a cupid’s arrow, Jimin chuckles to himself.

It feels like the turning of a new chapter.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾  

 

The door hinge creaks to a shut as Yoongi steps out of his flat, one arm half tucked into his coat. He’s slept the entire afternoon, and although nighttime hasn’t fallen, he wants to get to work early. Tonight’s a busy night. With the new Operation Confession that Taehyung set in motion, he wants to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

He doesn’t get too far though, because in order to get to the elevator lobby, he has to pass by Jimin’s front door. That’s the moment when his eyes fall on an unfamiliar face standing in the hallway – a woman with a bob cut who seems to be in her mid to late forties, lingering outside Jimin’s door as though unsure of whether they’re in front of the correct apartment unit or now.

“Can I help you?” Yoongi finds himself saying.

The woman jumps at the sound of his voice, eyes darting until they land on him, and her posture relaxes. She gives Yoongi a small nod of acknowledgement. “Hello. I’m looking for somebody called Park Jimin? I heard he lives here…”

Yoongi’s eyes flicker to her face, studying her expression, her squat stature. She looks anxious, like she knows she’s somewhere she shouldn’t be, but also nervous. Worry creases the corners of her eyes, and he realizes that those eyes… they look oddly familiar. Same goes for the slope of that nose, the shape of her cupid’s mouth.

He realizes he must be staring. “Yes. I’m his neighbor.” There’s a suspicion nagging at the back of his mind, but he makes no remark. Not just yet. He glances at the door behind her. “I think he and his friend went out earlier. Nobody’s home.”

“O-oh.” The woman’s shoulders droop, and her face falls. If heartbreak had a human face, this would be it. “I… I guess I’ll come back next time then.”

And then Yoongi, for all of his introverted-ness, surprises himself by blurting, “Would you like to come inside my place first for a while to wait for him?”

The woman shakes her head vehemently. “I’d hate to disturb. Could you just-“ she inhales and sighs, “-let him know that I was here? My name is Park Minji.”

Yoongi nods, and finally observes, “You seem to know my neighbor well.”

“Know him?” the lady repeats, licking her lower lip. A haunted look crosses her gaze, and she says sadly, “I do. Very well. He’s my son.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾  

 

That night back in his flat, Jimin marathons several movies and plays board games with Taehyung, and they get so caught up trying to catch up with each other that they don’t notice time flying. 12 midnight strikes, then 1am, then 2am, and once 3am hits Taehyung says—

“Let’s turn the radio on.”

Jimin’s laugh fades, and he gulps visibly. He doesn’t know why, but a small part of him is afraid.

Afraid that if he hears AgustD’s velvet chocolate voice, so professional and steady on air, he’ll return to being smitten for a mirage again. He wants leave that behind.

Besides, there’s Yoongi right next door. Yoongi is real. He’s nice and sweet and present. There’s a small hope in Jimin that’s gradually growing into big hope whenever he thinks of his neighbor now. At least this guy isn’t some fantasy dream made out of delusion. “Tae, I don’t—“

“I know what I said,” Taehyung cuts him off. “But please.”

Jimin sighs. “I’m didn’t come to this city to play games and fall in love with voices—“

“Just trust me,” Taehyung urges, his voice borderline imploring. “Just for this one. I promise you won’t regret it. We can listen together, too!”

Jimin narrows his eyes, but Taehyung is one of his weaknesses, so he concedes. “Fine, fine.” He stands to fetch his phone from the coffee table. Unplugging his earphones to put his device on speaker mode, Jimin adjusts the volume so that AgustD’s words ricochets through his otherwise silent apartment flat.

Try as he might, he can’t help but sigh at the sound of DJ’s voice.

“Hey guys, I’m AgustD, your host for tonight...”

Now that he finally has someone to share his opinions with, Jimin can’t quite keep himself from remarking with a quiet sigh, “Told you, he sounds good. Doesn’t his voice just give you chills? Like. It’s better than that shitty ASMR trend.”

Taehyung just snorts and gives him the biggest ‘you’re a dumbass’, incredulous look, which Jimin scoffs at.

“You guys know the drill: as usual, I’m starting a weekly segment, and this week it’s gonna be a fresh one,” AgustD is saying on the broadcast. “My friends always ask me for song recommendations, so for every day this week I’m uploading playlists on the station’s Spotify page.”

“Do you have Spotify downloaded?” Taehyung asks, and Jimin nods.

AgustD continues, “I’ve already uploaded today’s playlist, so you might wanna check it out! Meanwhile here’s “I Like Me Better” by Lauv and I’ll be back shortly so stay tuned to the Pillow Talk show.”

The moment AgustD goes off-air and a new song starts playing, Jimin’s phone vibrates with a new message notification. He swipes to open and read.

gloss
I made you a playlist

Jimin freezes.

gloss:
Listen
I know you’re avoiding me, but I hope this clears up everything
Scroll carefully.

 

Heart pounding, Jimin puts his phone down, then glances back down to read the text message over and over.

“I don’t get it,” he murmurs, mind racing.

Growing impatient, Taehyung snatches Jimin’s phone and opens his Spotify account. “Just go to KkulFM’s main page.”

Jimin looks at him, suspicion setting in. “How come you’re acting so weird?”

Taehyung just clucks his tongue and shakes his head vigorously. “Do now. Talk later. I’ll explain. Just go what your DJ said because I’m literally going to fucking lose my mind here.”

So Jimin pulls up the station’s Spotify page, and the first playlist title that his eyes land on makes him do a double take. He blinks, rubs at his eyes, then blinks rapidly again to stare, pulse spiking.

 

 

Jimin could have sworn he heard that phrase before. Just the night before, he was talking about chicken soup and band-aids with...

His breath stops.

With Yoongi.

“Look at the songs.” Taehyung’s voice yanks him back to the present, and Jimin follows suit, heart threatening to beat out of his chest.

And he nearly cries.

 

 

Playlist Image 2

Playlist Image 3

Playlist Image 4

Chapter Text

A Series Of Events Chronicling Park Jimin’s Lovelorn Downwards Spiral, as seen through the eyes of Unfortunate But Highly Amused Witnesses:

 

Of all the ways he’d hoped—well, expected, really—Jimin to react, Taehyung did not once imagine he’d see his best friend’s face turn sheet white, paler than the moon, as though he’s just seen a ghost.

“Chim?” he asks, waving a hand in front of Jimin’s face.

Jimin’s lips are agape as he stares at the Spotify playlist. Then his eyes start glistening and he purses his lips, and Taehyung deduces that Jimin must be upset. Or disappointed by Yoongi’s identity reveal.

Oh no. Oh boy. Worry floods Taehyung’s veins, and he clucks his tongue, thinking maybe he should get up to fetch a cup of warm water when Jimin finally makes a sound.

“I...” Jimin all but croaks, unable to tear his eyes away from the screen. “Tae, I... he—“

“Yeah?” Taehyung pushes to his feet, ready to offer help in any way he can. “You okay? Need anything?”

Jimin shakes his head before reaching out to clutch the hem of Taehyung’s sleeve.

“It’s him,” Jimin finally says. “Taehyung, AgustD, he’s—“

Taehyung waits patiently while Jimin’s mind connects the dots. He’d like to blurt out the truth for them both, just to put it out there, but there’s something strangely satisfying about seeing Jimin finally see the light. Fine, then. He could wait a few moments longer just to enjoy this.

Then, three things happen all at the same time:

Eyes widening, Jimin’s face turns beetroot red, and he scrambles to his feet, fanning his face even though he’s not sweating. “I think I need to hang upside down.”

Taehyung blinks. “Huh—“

But not more than two seconds later, Jimin’s legs are buckling, and he melts back to the couch like jelly.

“Oh man, Tae I am an utter disgrace to humanity,” he now bemoans, voice cracking. He sinks slowly into the cushions as he covers his red face with both hands. “I have officially brought dumbness to new heights.”

Then, he’s up on his feet again and running... to the balcony?! Confused and alarmed, Taehyung hurries after him, and he hears something like the garbled noise of a dying whale rip out from Jimin’s throat, and when Taehyung rounds the corner—

Jimin is standing on his balcony, looking like he’s having some sort of existential crisis. “He was here.

Taehyung stares at him, wondering if sheer loneliness and the lack of proper meals have finally made his dearest best friend snap. Jimin must be losing his marbles. “Who was?”

“Him!”

Oh. Narrowing his eyes in realization, Taehyung leans against the doorframe and asks teasingly, “Him who?”

It’s as if those two syllables prompt another crisis inside Jimin, who throws his head back and groans, “Yoongi. Taehyung, I think Yoongi is AgustD. I have... I have theories.”

Taehyung scoffs as he rolls his eyes. “Dude. It’s not theory when it’s fact.”

Jimin gasps. “So you think so too?”

Some instances, Taehyung wonders how in the world Jimin topped as #1 in all his classes all throughout their high school years together. This is one of those moments.

“Chimchim,” he says, ever so calmly, though he can’t help smirking. “Literally you are the last person to know.”

Jimin gasps.

Taehyung gasps back.

Jimin gasps louder. “You knew?”

With a wicked grin, Taehyung raises both hands like a birthday party planner who just got busted. “Surprise surprise?”

He’s expecting Jimin to be mad at him, or curious, but instead Jimin lowers his body to the floor and lies down, eyes closing.

“Um. What are you doing?” Seriously. Maybe he should be concerned now, because Jimin looks like his soul has disappeared from his body.

“I just.” Jimin rests his head on the cold tiled floor, flattening his cheeks against it. “Need to think. Gimme a second.”

So Taehyung waits. He knows Jimin like the back of his hand, and counts down:

Three.

Two.

One.

Then Jimin screeches.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Jungkook considers himself a pretty peaceful dude who hardly gets fazed by anything. He’s chill. Chiller than a freezer. If you give him a jump-scare, he’ll probably just cackle in your face as if to say, “Loser. You tried.”

Jungkook is the meaning of calmness incarnate.

But when he hears inhuman shrieking from next door at roughly around 3.37am in the morning, needless to say he is... mildly concerned. He was sleeping—or trying to, if only he could forget the face of Café Mono’s tall, handsome, English-speaking owner—when someone bangs on the front door.

His brain concludes: murderer!

Immediately, his nerve endings are on fire. Jungkook bolts up into sitting position and rises from his bed. Stealthily, he creeps out to the main hallway in his socks and slippers to minimize sound, because in the spy and horror movies, you can’t make noise in these situations.

At times like these, he really wishes he played baseball in school. Then at least he’d have something thick and heavy to smack the shit out of shameless criminals. But as it is, Jungkook is just clad in his baby blue pyjamas and bunny slippers. He grabs the nearest household weapon he can find—a broom.

Now armed, he sneaks up to the front door, heart hammering wildly in his chest. He wishes Yoongi-hyung were here—he’d feel a lot braver.

If this is the last night of my life, Jungkook thinks to himself, then I’m going down as a hero who went while fighting to defend his home. It’s kinda like a video game, but real life. Jungkook is a soldier on a mission to protect his base.

Quietly, he peeks into the peephole.

This murderer, Jungkook muses, looks a lot like his next-door-neighbor. Same sandy hair, same stance, same dreadful eyebags...

Then it clicks inside his brain.

Huh? The adrenaline coursing through Jungkook shifts to something calmer but curious, and he casts the broom aside. Gingerly, he unlocks the door. Like water rushing to the shore on a high tide, Sleepy Neighbor Jimin’s body floods through the threshold, and Jungkook stumbles back with wide eyes.

“Hyung?” he sputters.

Someone files in after Jimin—it’s the guy Jungkook met outside the café earlier. Jimin’s best buddy. Firetruck engine red hair aside, Taehyung is pretty in the way that a lot of city boys are not. He gives Jungkook a mock salute. “Yo.”

Jungkook only grows more confused, feeling like a cornered rabbit in his own homestead burrow. “What’s happeni—“

“I hope you’ll pardon my best friend,” Taehyung says apologetically. “He’s in a bit of a... crisis.”

“Jungkook,” Jimin speaks up, and Jungkoook’s spine snaps to attention. “I never asked you, but what is your older brother’s job?”

“Uhh...” Jungkook trails off, suspicion gnawing in his nerves. He scratches his forearm. “Why do you ask?” He knows Yoongi-hyung isn’t too keen on people knowing who he is.

“It’s for science,” Taehyung answers.

“It’s for my peace of mind,” Jimin says.

Jungkook gives a low whistle, proud of his older brother. Science and peace of mind? Like... like yoga? Whoa. He didn’t know Yoongi-hyung was really out there starting a revolution out of his comfort zone. He should get a best big bro award. Maybe even a Nobel Prize. Yeah, hyung definitely deserves a Nobel Prize for existing alone.

Jimin starts pacing the length of the corridor, but when he spots a keyboard tucked away at the corner of the living room, he pauses and stares. He stares for so long Jungkook is scared he’ll burn holes into the instrument’s ivory keys.

Pointing at the keyboard, Jimin asks point-blank, “Yoongi is AgustD, right?”

Now, Jungkook is by no means a liar, but he’s not exactly a truther either, so he decides to go for half-half: “I neither confirm nor deny anything.”

“That means yes,” he hears Taehyung mutter to Jimin, whose looks like he’s on the verge of a coronary any second now.

Collapsing against a nearby wall, Jimin whisper, “I need to talk to your brother.”

“Now?” Jungkook stammers. “He’s at work...” He explains to the both of them that whenever Yoongi is at work, he’s strictly off limits from his phone (a point that has Jimin raising an eyebrow, though Jungkook doesn’t understand why).

“Why don’t you just wait until he gets home?” he suggests, shrinking back a little when Jimin glares at him. “What? What’d I do?”

“He’s just stressed,” Taehyung explains, putting a hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “Your brother just did something really cool, so here Jimin is.”

Oh. Yoongi-hyung finally did that, eh? “If it’s really urgent, you can try calling him, I guess,” Jungkook intones, but before he even finishes his sentence, Jimin is already dialing a number to call on his phone.

It goes straight to voice mail.

Jimin looks ready to tear his hair out.

“See? Told you,” Jungkook says, yawning. Padding to the couch, he plops down and raises both feet over the edge, arms tucked behind his head. “Just chill. You should just wait for him to come home. I’m gonna sleep now, okay?”

Jimin and Taehyung exchange meaningful glances. “OK,” Jimin sighs.

And Jungkook thinks that’s it. That maybe he’ll finally get some much needed peace and quiet and most importantly, snooze time. He thinks maybe his two uninvited guests would politely see their way out; leave him alone.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t quite turn out as he thought.

Jimin and Taehyung linger by doorframe to the living room, talking in hushed voices that Jungkook supposes they must think he can’t hear:

“I can’t believe he was right next to me all along. We’re neighbors!” Jimin whisper-hisses. “Am I blind?”

“Nah. Dense would be a better word.”

Jimin lets out a pitiful mewl. “I’m neighbors with the same guy that I was supposed to go out on a date with.”

Though his eyes remain closed, Jungkook’s ears perk up.

Date? He doesn’t remember setting a date with Jimin, ever. Now he’s getting worried. Does Jimin like, like him?

He sure hopes that the guy isn’t having delusions about dating him, because Jungkook kind of has his eye on someone else. It used to be Seokjin, but a recent encounter has broadened his perspectives of men in general. Jungkook now includes a mental checklist of what passes for Boy Crush Material:

  • Tall;
  • Bilingual;
  • With dimpled cheeks

It’s a totally fair standard, no biases held at all. And anyway, he’s well aware for a fact that Yoongi-hyung is crushing big time on Jimin.

They just can’t be.

Preparing his rejection speech, Jungkook sighs as he braces himself. But then Jimin continues speaking, which makes him pause. He pretends to be asleep for a while longer.

“I’ve been such a fool, Tae. I even...” Jimin gasps softly. “I even kissed him and ran away! If only I knew he was AgustD, I would’ve behaved better. He must hate me.”

“Nah.”

“Yes, he does.”

“No, he doesn’t.”

“And he’s so beautiful.”

“No, he doesn’t— oh, wait.” Taehyung pauses, and only then does Jungkook realize that oh, they’re not talking about him, but Yoongi.

Relief seeps into every part of his bone. Phew. That was close; they almost had him.

“But he hates me,” says Jimin.

At this, Jungkook can’t help but release a snort from where he’s lying on the sofa. “Yeah, right.”

Though he’s not looking, he feels the exact moment two pairs of eyes land on him.

“Hyung hates you so much that he’d make you a playlist and publish it for all to see,” he adds.

Cracking one eye open, he finds Jimin’s face hovering above his from behind the sofa, cheeks splotched pink.

“H-how did you know about that?” Jimin mumbles, pressing one hand to his chest.

He’s so smitten it hurts Jungkook’s single ass to see. “I helped pick some of the songs.”

Jimin lets out a slow breath wordlessly. He doesn’t have to say anything though, because his eyes speak for himself.

Jungkook flashes him a childlike grin. “Yeah, yeah. No need to thank me. I accept favors in return.”

Rolling his eyes, Jimin reaches out a hand to ruffle his hair. “You’re a lot like him.”

Jungkook remembers now—a distant memory from long ago: the first time he met Jimin, who walked into the convenience store like a dispirited zombie, he’d told him the exact same words.

You’re a lot like him. His heart soars. It’s the best compliment he’s received yet.

“Thanks,” Jungkook says, voice warm, before clearing his throat as he shifts to face away from both Taehyung and Jimin. Resting his cheek against his arm, he fakes a loud yawn. “Now if you’ll excuse me, some people are trying to sleep here. Go have your crisis somewhere else.”

“I’ll wait for him to come home,” Jimin declares. “Maybe.”

With a fond chuckle, he and Taehyung make their way out of the door, and Jungkook is relieved he can finally dream about cute coffee shop owners without getting interrupted.

Yoongi-hyung better thank him for this.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

It’s still dark out when Namjoon unlocks the main entrance to Café Mono—the Sun is lazy these days, and only peeks out a little over half past 7 in the morning. Which is totally fine for him. Gives him more quality time with the moon. 

These are the quiet hours. Customers will only start streaming in a little over an hour later—mostly morning regulars rushing for their daily wake-up caffeine boost. So Namjoon takes his own time opening the coffee bar and cash register, humming to himself as he goes. When the bell chimes to signal the arrival of a newcomer, Namjoon looks up in surprise.

He doesn’t usually get guests this early, except for… “Hey, Jimin.” Namjoon smiles.

Despite the disheveled hair and crinkled coat, Jimin’s face is glowing with a new kind of radiance. His cheeks are flushed and rosy, and his eyes are shining uncharacteristically bright for someone who usually swings by Café Mono looking like a zombie who climbed their way out of their gravestone.

“Hi,” Jimin greets. “I need—“

“Chamomile tea,” Namjoon says right away, never missing a beat. “Coming right up. Been anxious lately, haven’t you?”

But for the first time in the history of ever, Jimin shakes his head as a sugarplum giggle bubbles up from deep in his chest. He looks near euphoric, as though a candle flame has flickered to life in his eyes. “No, not today.”

Namjoon does a double take. That’s new. “No herbal tea?”

“No, I mean...” Eyes shining, Jimin looks a little breathless, as though he brisk-walked his way here. “I need something without caffeine to make my heartbeats feel less... less....”

A small smile graces Namjoon’s lips as he hazards a not-so-wild guess. “Fluttery?”

Namjoon is no fool. He knows how a deeply in love person looks like. In fact, he considers himself so well-versed on that subject matter that he might even write a book and title it ‘Trivia: Love’ someday, just to discuss this fascinating phenomenon.

“Yes,” Jimin answers, ducking his head shyly.

Sometimes, Namjoon imagines human hearts having invisible telephone cords, and that when you send a call, it just takes the right one to get a response. Perhaps his favorite customer has finally found a heart that answers to his.

Grinning back, he remarks, “It’s still early out. What’s got you in a tizzy when old mister Sun isn’t even up yet?”

Blushing furiously (Sign #1 of Lovesickness, according to Namjoon’s expert observation), Jimin licks his lower lip before saying, “I’m going out to find someone. I couldn’t stay at home and wait.”

“Ah.” Namjoon nods knowingly as he keys in Jimin’s order. Sign #2: effort and initiative. “What a lucky man he must be.”

“Oh, no.” Jimin shakes his head vehemently, beaming still. “If anything, I’m the lucky one here. This person... this person has gone through a lot for me.”

“Care to share?” Call him a hopeless romantic, but Namjoon’s got spare time and a spare pair of ears, so he might as well entertain Jimin. “What’s so special about him?”

There’s that glimmer again, that makes Jimin’s eyes luminous under the warm café lights. Namjoon leans forward, eager to listen, but Jimin only says, “If I told you, I’d ramble your ears off and waste your time, and by the time I’m done the Sun will be up and I’ll miss my chance to see him.”

Jimin smiles, teeth showing, and in that moment he is sunshine and softness. A vivid vision slices its way into Namjoon’s memory—of the first day he saw Jimin step into his café: sunken cheeks and sallow skin. Drooping shoulders.

Such a striking contrast to the boy that stands before him now.

Sign #3: Transformation.

Namjoon hopes one day he may feel something even remotely close to the festival of spring flowers that must be blooming in Jimin’s chest at this very moment.

Handing over Jimin’s order with a friendly pat on the shoulder, Namjoon chirps with a wink, “Go get him.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

“Coming up next, it’s ‘Confession’ by the Japanese rock band, RADWIMPS. You’ve been with me, DJ AgustD on the Pillow Talk Show, only on KkulFM 93.1.”

When the final song of the hour starts playing to cue the end of his ending ment, Yoongi lifts the headphones off from his ears and he sighs, slumping against his seat. He glances at his wristwatch—it’s already half past 6am. His show overran slightly later than usual today. Over the speakers, the last song keeps playing mutedly:

 

How long has it been since I started seeing myself as part of your future?
Or thinking it’d be nice if your future, and my future,
Could become one…
I’m the kind of person who breaks into sweat just watching from afar

 

Yoongi fishes his phone out of his pocket, making sure to note that the tiny aircraft symbol is still in place at the upper right hand corner of the screen, right beside the battery indicator. He put his phone on airplane mode earlier because he didn’t want to get distracted.

This is the crucial period. Post-confession. Yoongi knew he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on properly hosting a full broadcast not knowing how Jimin would react to his playlist, so he decided to completely eradicate all contact for a while to put his itching fingers at bay. He stands up to leave the radio station’s studio.

 

Looking over the crowds of people in my life,
There was just one thing that stood out beautifully
The very soul of color… in other words, you.

I’m so surprised someone could dominate the center of my heart like this.

 

Even now, he slips his phone back into his pocket. It would be better, he presumes, to talk to Jimin face-to-face later. Yoongi can picture it happening in his mind’s eye—either Jimin would be elated, or he’ll slap him for not telling him sooner. An apology seems only fitting.

The trip back home takes about an hour by subway, and the whole ride back, Yoongi keeps his black hoodie perched over his head like a blanket of safety. When he steps out of the station, cool air nips at his skin while the sky overhead is lightening from indigo to eventual peach. He keeps his headphones over his ears, muting the rest of the world and putting his playlist on shuffle, and by queer luck and chance, the same confession song from the radio station plays into his ears.

 

But if it was the gods of this world, being playful, who sent you to me,
…I’m really so thankful.
I’ll say it again and again.

Thank you so much.

 

Yoongi reminds himself to breathe in and out to calm his jitters, until he thinks—

Well, fuck it.

His feet are sprinting home before his mind clocks what they’re doing, and the wind rushes by and pushes his hoodie back from his hair. He can’t wait. The world can’t wait anymore.

Or... maybe it can, because by some stroke of terrible timing, he finds the barricade of the train-tracks crossing area near his apartment lowering slowly, ever so slowly, to alert pedestrians of an incoming train.

With a groan, Yoongi digs his heels into the ground to stop.

Ding, ding, ding, goes the warning signal. With an impatient huff, Yoongi snatches his phone out of his pocket and swipes it open to turn off airplane mode. He won’t stall for time anymore. If curiosity kills the cat, as the saying goes, then Yoongi is ready to dive headfirst.

Right before he can press the ‘call’ button onscreen, his phone starts vibrating, and Yoongi’s eyes blow wide, pulse stuttering. The caller ID is the only one he’s got in mind.

Meanwhile, the song continues to play through his headphones:

 

“I’ve found something precious,”

A voice somewhere deep inside me says.

 

Pulse quickening, he yanks his headphones off and swipes the green button on his phone to accept the incoming call.

“Hello?” he tries to croak out, but just then the train hurtles by, all clanking and whirring and churning noises, and Yoongi deflates because– fucking hell, screw this bad timing. He can’t hear shit. With a grunt of frustration. he looks down to scuff his boots against the gravel, waiting for the train to pass by, for the racket to die down.

The line on the other end is noisy, too, and briefly he wonders where Jimin might be. Not at home?

Finally, the train whizzes by, and Yoongi glances up across the train tracks, relieved that he’ll be able to hear the call clearly now.

And... there he is.

Standing on the other side of the train tracks, Jimin has his phone pressed to one ear, and he’s staring back at Yoongi as though he can’t believe his luck. As though Yoongi is some secret miracle maker and he’s only now—

Only now seeing it all.

Jimin whispers into his phone, silent to the rest of the world but loud against Yoongi’s ear, “It’s you. Isn’t it?”

In the wake of the passing train, the world goes still and quiet. Stray leaves dance in the air. Across Yoongi is him. Jimin’s hair is tousled in all the right places, and he’s in a baggy coat frames his slender form so loosely that Yoongi wants to rush forward and hug him tight. His heart swells and lifts, and he lets out the softest huff of relief, never once breaking their gaze. Yoongi opens his mouth but can’t bring himself to speak. Where would he start?

Jimin repeats, “It is you. Right?”

In the changing candlewick hue of sunrise, it almost looks like there are drops of Jupiter in Jimin’s hair. Sea glass shining in his eyes.

Then Yoongi is smiling, eyes crinkling soft and tender, when he answers into the phone:

“Hello, you.”

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

There he is.

Hello, you. Right across the railway, Yoongi is smiling at him, as if the world has screeched to a halt and Jimin is all he can see, and Jimin’s eyes burn from welling up with tears when he breathes unsteadily, “Found you.”

When he first came here, just another young blood trying to prove himself, he’d rapidly fallen into a deep pit of self doubt and fear. Jimin was so small, or so he felt, and the world—

The world was so cold and huge. He became so lonely he started enjoying his own shadow’s presence. He’d been a boat with no anchor, sailing without direction. Just like sea glass, Jimin had been drowning trying to search for the pieces of himself he’d lost at sea. He’d been looking for a safe place in a city so unkind, not knowing that those places can be people, too. Now though—

Now, Jimin’s anchor stands in front of him.

He looks tired—everyone is. Eyes drooping, shoulders hunched. Yoongi’s hands are shoved deep in the pockets of his hoodie, his face drawn with worry, but at the sight of Jimin he lights up with a secret kind of joy, and looking at him, Jimin finally realizes—

Perhaps his heart had known all along what his mind didn’t.

With a resounding ding ding ding, the rail track barriers finally lift to let people through, and although other passersby start shouldering their way past Jimin, he stays rooted to the ground, unable to move.

Shyness and hesitation hold him back. Now that he’s aware—now that the two people he’s been falling for happens to be one and the same—Jimin doesn’t quite know how to act. Maybe he needs some air. Maybe he needs distance.

So instead, with his phone still pressed to one ear, he tells Yoongi, “Excuse me for a moment—“

“I was on airplane mode,” Yoongi cuts him off, his words coming out in a rush. “I’m sorry.”

Jimin’s eyes shoot upwards, meeting Yoongi’s searching gaze. “Huh?”

“You must be mad at me. For being out of reach the whole night. For not telling you sooner. If you are, I understand, so let me apologize–“

“Idiot.” This time, a teardrop escapes the corner of Jimin’s left eye.

A pause. “Uh...”

Across the tracks, through the soft lavender clouds in the lightening sky, the first rays of orange blossom to paint Yoongi’s silhoutte in undulating ripples of light. Jimin’s heart swoops and skips, and his feet finally find the will to move forward.

“Don’t apologize to me,” he snaps before dropping the call.

And then he’s half-running across the railway, and to his surprise, Yoongi steps forward too, meeting him halfway so that they now both stand on the metal tracks. There’s wind brushing Yoongi’s dark hair over his eyes, and Jimin slowly reaches out to push them aside, needing to look, needing to see him.

Yoongi’s pupils dilate at his touch, but before Jimin can pull his hand away, he grabs his wrist in a gentle hold. His fingers are warm, and Jimin gasps softly when Yoongi presses a featherlight kiss to the ridges of his knuckles, eyes closed.

“Thank you,” he murmurs in a low rasp.

There’s so much more meaning in those two words than a simple show of gratitude, and Jimin understands that.

Thank you for coming to find me.

For not hating who I am.

Tears gathering at his eyes, Jimin shakes his head and murmurs, “No. Yoongi, thank you.”

For saving me when I needed it the most.

He’s imagined— no, daydreamed about this scenario over and over, a thousand times in his head before. What he would do, the things he would say. He had beautiful lines of poetry sitting on his tongue, but in this moment everything dissipates to dust. Words won’t suffice. Some feelings just cannot be contained by all the letters of the alphabet.

Yoongi has no idea, Jimin thinks, just how much he is the calm to his chaos.

Later, Jimin will tell him of all those nights he spent as a dedicated ghost listener of AgustD. Later, they’ll joke about it all.

Later, later, later. There’s more than enough time for that.

Now, Jimin throws both arms around Yoongi and leans in to connect their lips.

Dawn breaks through sky. Their eyes flutter closed. As the sun rises over the horizon, Jimin curls his fingers around the nape of Yoongi’s neck, their lips warming and softening against each other. Yoongi meets his lips just as desperately. His cheeks feel wet, but he doesn’t know who those tears belong to. Gently, Yoongi pulls him closer by the waist, and when Jimin stumbles on a pebble, he giggles into their kiss.

With a soft inhale, Yoongi breaks their liplock to rest their foreheads close. From up close, Jimin can almost count the light brown flecks dotting Yoongi’s irises—he’s got whole fucking constellations in his eyes.

Jimin shifts to press their noses together, before leaning in for another kiss, but then a gruff voice yells—

“HEY!”

The spring apart, safety bubble broken, just in time to see the barriers lowering around them. A man on the other side is waving at them wildly to ‘Get off the damn tracks!’ and Jimin emits a small yelp when Yoongi laughs, clasps their hands together, and tug them to sprint away, boots thudding against the pebbled ground.

Once they travel far enough, they slow down and bend over to catch their breaths, panting against the cold. Through it all, Yoongi doesn’t let go of Jimin’s hand.

“Please tell me,” Yoongi gasps lowly, grinning like an Olympic champion, “that I’m not just dreaming all this up.”

“Me, too.” Jimin can’t help it. He’s smiling so hard his cheeks hurt, face hot, and he feels so light—lighter than he has in months—that he thinks he might float away at any given moment now like a balloon. When his breath evens out, he stands up straight and mumbles, “I um. I saw your playlist.”

Yoongi’s eyes snap to his. “I figured.”

“Nice song selection,” Jimin responds coyly, tucking one foot behind his ankle.

Yoongi’s grin widens. “You think so? Thanks... anonymous caller J.”

Triggered by the nickname, Jimin gives a petulant cry and reaches out to pinch Yoongi’s arm.

A sharp inhale. “Ow!”

Jimin sticks out his tongue. “There. Now you’ve proof you’re not dreaming.”

Straightening up, Yoongi’s pained expression morphs back to a crooked smirk. “If this is reality, then I can take a few more hits, sweetheart.”

Jimin’s heart clenches. How could he not have noticed the similarities sooner?

“I can’t believe it,” he breathes in utter amazement as they resume to a walking pace, their pinkies bumping but never intertwining. “You’re really him. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Yoongi sends him a dirty look. “I literally told you point-blank.”

His words prompt another blush to creep up Jimin’s neck.

“Sorry,” he mutters darkly, lowering his eyes. Embarrassment floods his veins, and Jimin internally smacks his head for being so damn blind all along. “How can I make it up to you?”

Yoongi pretends to think, humming in thought. “You could kiss me again. If you want.”

Heart racing, Jimin stops walking and side-eyes him. Then, with an equally cheeky smile of his own, he answers, “Oh, I don’t know.” He folds his arms and strokes his chin to think. “Maybe if you take me out for brunch, I’ll think about it.”

Yoongi’s eyes disappear as he laughs, drawing Jimin into his arms once more for a hug that warms him to the tips of his toes. “If that’s all it takes, then it’s a piece of cake.”

Jimin does, however, reach out to link their pinkies together as they walk, because all of this—Yoongi’s smile; the roller coaster of the last few weeks; the entire collection of moments leading up to the present—feels like a newfound promise he wants to keep for himself.

The sun is shining; it’s the start of a new morning. Jimin looks over at Yoongi, and both of their cheeks are splotched pink, and he thanks the stars that instead of finding someone, Jimin was found by a voice that called out to him amidst the dreary grey static.

“You have great taste in music, by the way,” he pipes up on their walk back to their apartment.

Yoongi’s mouth curves up. “You like the songs I play on the radio?”

“The songs on the radio are okay,” Jimin comments offhandedly. “But my taste in music is your face.”

“Twenty one pilots,” Yoongi immediately points out. “You’re not too bad yourself, J.”

“Stop calling me that,” Jimin giggles.

“What, J?” Yoongi smirks, voice a soothing drawl that makes Jimin shiver despite the playful teasing. “Well, maybe if you kissed me—“

So Jimin does.

...on the cheek, that is. With a loud, resounding smack, he presses his lips against Yoongi’s left cheek.

The world can wait. Jimin understands that now—it’s time to stop running like he’s on a marathon; time to allow himself to make mistakes and stumble and grow. He won’t rush.

“You’re starved for kisses, huh,” he says, slipping his hand into Yoongi’s coat pocket and nuzzling the column of his neck. Yoongi stutters and averts his gaze. “Is it true that I stole your first?”

Yoongi scowls at him. “Who told you that?”

Jimin shrugs. “A certain rascal.”

“Jungkook, that little shit.”

Jimin chuckles, heart calming when the sight of their apartment building comes into view. “He looks up to you a lot. You know?”

“I know.”

The sun is shining, and Jimin decides he’d like to play in it from now on instead of hiding in the shadows.

Later that night, as Jimin tucks himself under the duvet with Taehyung snoring beside him, he plugs on his earphones and tunes into his favorite radio station, falling asleep to the sound of his boyfriend’s deep voice not because he needs to.

But because he can.

He’s lucky like that.

 

☾~ ☾~ ☾~ ☾

 

Everyone says there’s nothing completely certain in this world…

but y’know, right here,

we’ve got something that is.