can calm itself,
so can you.
― Nayyirah Waheed
They’re in Amsterdam and Autumn is settling in - all the leaves dying on the trees and the wind sharp enough to bite, to sink its teeth into your cheeks and nose and prick like glass shards in your lungs when you breathe it in. Last night, they played to a sold out crowd at the Ziggo Dome and Jungkook is still a little drunk off the cheers, off thousands of voices singing their songs, in spite of lingering frustration at his injury - at being stuck in a chair and potentially letting down everyone who came to seem them. He already battled through the crush of failure, though - drank a little too much, then did a VLive where he could finally put all his churning thoughts in order - and tonight was a good one.
Tomorrow is a free day - a breath between now and the two days of concerts in Berlin - and Jungkook’s looking forward to it. Wants a few hours in the city before they have to leave for the next one, just to wander and take pictures and maybe hold his boyfriend’s hand.
His boyfriend: Yoongi.
It’s both new and isn’t. Something that’s bloomed slow between them for what feels like years, but only gained a label six months ago, when Yoongi asked him to the studio one night and then asked him out on a date, shy and stuttering. They couldn’t really go out - didn’t want to risk that - so that date was Chinese takeout in the studio the next night. Yoongi lit a little candle for romantic atmosphere and kissed Jungkook squeezed onto his tiny couch, and it was honestly everything Jungkook could have wanted.
They told the others two nights later - hands gripped tight as they sat on the couch in their dorm and got the story out in one rambling spiel. No one was really surprised, everyone cautioned them to be careful. But it wasn’t a strong warning, because they’re all used to secrets, to being careful, to the things that they’ve had to keep hidden since long before debut.
Still, him and Yoongi have been careful. No overt affection outside the ordinary when in public, no dates beyond the safety of the dorm and the studio, kisses only behind locked doors. Not many people know his name in Amsterdam, though, so Jungkook wants a proper date, while they have this fleeting chance.
“It’ll be fun,” Yoongi murmurs when Jungkook slips into his hotel room well after midnight. He looks half-asleep already. Like most of them, he’s been stressed and close to sick lately, pushing himself far too hard and worrying far too much when Jungkook got injured, but he still insisted that he wanted to go out - as long as they take it slow. “But sleep now.”
Jungkook hums and curls up under the covers, draping himself across Yoongi’s back to be the big spoon and running his fingers through Yoongi’s red hair. “I like this hair on you, hyung,” he says. “Don’t know if I ever said.”
Yoongi huffs, but it’s a pleased sound. “You did, but thanks. Now-”
“Sleep, I know,” Jungkook teases and presses a kiss to Yoongi’s neck.
He drifts off faster than he anticipated, but wakes up with a jolt only a few hours later to the sound of quiet wheezing next to him. It’s pained, horribly familiar, and Jungkook scrambles upright, fumbling for the lamp and nearly pitching it off the dresser in his haste to turn it on. He manages to catch it, though, and a click echoes through the room before everything turns hazy and gold, light illuminating the bed and a glint of scales.
Yoongi is on his back, blinking up at the ceiling, lips parted and eyes almost completely black. He’s still got his sleep shirt on, but Jungkook can see the flutter of his gills beneath it, and where there were once pale, skinny legs there’s now a shimmering tail, brownish-red scales reflecting the light. The scales trail up his neck and arms too, lightly dusting his cheeks and jaw.
“Shit,” Jungkook exclaims and tumbles out of bed to rush to the bathroom.
Thankfully, they’ve long-ago learned their lesson and now only book rooms with a bathtub. Jungkook gets the water running, checking the temperature on the back of his hand, and plugs the drain, then rushes back to the bedroom as fast as his protesting foot will allow.
Yoongi’s eyes have slipped close, face scrunched up in a grimace. The oxygen is burning his gills, Jungkook knows. He’s described it before: this awful feeling of suffocating, even when the human part of his brain insists that he should be able to breathe.
“I’ve got you,” Jungkook reassures him, scooping him up bridal style. He grunts, tail twitching and flopping. He’s probably going to be upset about the ripped pajama pants later, Jungkook thinks as he spots them on the floor, but for now he clings to Jungkook tight and buries his face in Jungkook’s neck.
Jungkook carries him into the bathroom, glad to see that the tub is almost full, and carefully lowers him into the water, gritting his teeth against the sting of his heel when he kneels down. Yoongi shudders and wheezes again, slumping down so his whole torso is submerged. Jungkook reaches in to undo the buttons of his pajama shirt, easing it off his shoulders to reveal a scale-splattered chest.
“Thanks,” Yoongi murmurs after a moment, calming. His eyes have returned to their normal dark brown and his scales are shifting color, too, from the dull red that always manifests when he’s upset to a more normal blue. “I’m sorry.”
“What happened?” Jungkook asks, taking a seat by the tub. They aren’t close to a full moon, which is when the change usually happens. It can occur if Yoongi’s stressed or hurt or in emotional turmoil, but he’s gotten better at controlling it in recent years. For it to happen now … Jungkook is worried. More than a little. “Are you okay?”
Yoongi sighs, sinking further into the water until he can rest the back of his head on the edge of the tub. His tail is a little longer than his human legs, meaning he has to lift it up out of the water, bracing it against the wall so that he isn’t uncomfortably contorted. It still looks damn unpleasant and Jungkook vows to call their manager in a few hours - when it isn’t four a.m. - and ask if they can get a room upgrade. Usually a change, once it’s happened, is going to last at least twelve hours, and he wants to keep Yoongi from feeling too trapped or constricted.
“I’m fine,” Yoongi says. “I’ve just been … stressed, I guess. About the tour and then you getting hurt. My control’s been slipping more than I realized.” He puts a hand over his face, clearly embarrassed, and shivers.
His bloodline is from cold waters, he said once - the northern oceans where ice gathers even in summer months - but he’s still always preferred warmer climates. Jungkook still remembers him sighing happily in the oceans around Hawaii after the cameras stopped rolling - his tail incandescent in the tropical sun.
Jungkook silently stands and cranks up the heating, then returns to his seat on the floor and reaches for one of Yoongi’s hands. It’s always a little weird, feeling the rough slick of scales against his palm instead of skin, but he’s never minded the texture.
“How’s the hunger?” he asks, trying to keep his tone gentle.
Because Yoongi isn’t exactly a mermaid. He scoffs at those myths - at the Disney movie with Ariel brushing her hair and collecting treasures. No, he’s a siren. The kind that lured sailors to their deaths long, long ago. That sang to Odysseus of the future in Homer’s stories. There is something dark inside of his people, Yoongi told him once. A furious, seething shard of the sea that has never let go - even as they let the ocean currents carry them to new shores; even as they learned how to change their form and walk on land; even as some fell in love with humans and their bloodline diluted and mixed and adapted. The sea still longs for its children, and Yoongi says he can feel the call of it in his chest, especially on a full moon, when the tides pull the hardest. Come home, it always says. Come back where you belong. Come back to me.
With the call comes a hunger and bloodlust that can be all-consuming. The ocean is where they used to hunt - humans and orcas and seals and all manner of deep-dwelling creatures - and their siren forms remember that, long for it again.
Some give in to it, Yoongi told him once, and become true monsters that hunt humans, never fully human again themselves. (Once you let the hunger in like that, Jungkook-ah, you can never go back. That’s what my mother always says.)
It’s the worst on the full moon. If they’re by the ocean or on a break, Yoongi will always disappear. He never tells any of them where he goes. Down to Jeju, maybe, or Hanagae or Deokjeokdo if he needs somewhere closer to Seoul. In America, he once slipped away into the vast Pacific and Jungkook sat on the beach in Santa Monica, watching the waves and waiting for him to return.
(He did, when the sun was coming up, dripping water all over Jungkook’s sandy clothes, brow pinched in concern.
You shouldn’t wait for me, he said.
I’ll always wait for you, Jungkook replied, and took his hand.)
Jungkook thinks that Yoongi hunts, out in those depthless waters, but he never wants to talk about it. He’s ashamed, sometimes, about this part of himself -
(I feel like a monster, he said, as they watched the sun rise over Newark a few months ago, shivering from the chill of the Atlantic. Like … like an animal.
You’re Yoongi, Jungkook insisted. You’ve always just been Yoongi, hyung. All these parts of you - none of them are wrong.)
- and Jungkook doesn’t always know how to comfort him. It would probably be easier if Yoongi just had Fae blood like Jimin, and only had to worry about an unconscious allure or the occasional, overwhelming hurricane of emotions that are difficult to control. Or if he was whatever ancient and timeless thing Seokjin is - so close to human but very much not in the same breath.
(They’ve asked, before, but Seokjin will never tell them. The running theory is that he’s a spirit or god from the old, old shamanistic myths - long before Confucianism and Buddhism came and rewrote the legends. He’s mentioned the fucking beginning of the Joseon Era before and that was over six hundred years ago. Either way, it’s probably best that they don’t know. Jungkook doesn’t like to think about the fact that he regularly engages in play boxing matches with what is probably a ridiculously powerful deity, thanks.)
But Yoongi has siren blood and a form that changes and shifts with every full moon, and Jungkook honestly wouldn’t want him any other way, as hard as it can be sometimes. Like he said before, they’ve gotten good at these secrets - they know how to keep them. The supernatural world isn’t exactly unknown, just … forgotten, for the most part. The average, ordinary person believes that myths and legends and lore are just that: stories. The truth has drained from them, and it’s probably safer that way.
“It’s not too bad,” Yoongi says, drawing Jungkook out of his rambling thoughts. “It’s not a usual shift so it’s fine.”
“That’s good,” Jungkook says and pauses for a moment just to take him in.
He looks a little bedraggled and washed out beneath the harsh bathroom lights, but still beautiful. Always beautiful. Like something out of the half-formed dreams that Jungkook used to have when he was younger and wanted to believe there was magic in the sea that bordered his city.
“You should go back to bed,” he says, turning his head to frown at Jungkook. “Get some more sleep.”
“I’m fine,” Jungkook insists. He hates the idea of leaving Yoongi in a cramped hotel bathtub by himself.
“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi huffs, frown deepening. He’s in full Hyung Mode now. “You need rest. I’ll be okay for a few hours.”
“Nope,” Jungkook says, because Hyung Mode has never really scared him. He knows that the soft spot Yoongi has for him is probably an ocean wide, and he doesn’t feel bad about exploiting it once in awhile. “This tile is really comfortable.” He stretches out on his back with an exaggerated, contented sigh to prove his point.
“Fine,” Yoongi surrenders, half-pouting. “But at least get yourself a blanket? And turn out the light?”
Jungkook figures he can compromise on that much. He pads back into the bedroom to pull the duvet off the bed, then flicks the light switch on his way back in, plunging the bathroom into semi-darkness. There’s a tiny window in the corner and through the opaque glass, he can just make out the yellow dots of the streetlamps as he spreads the duvet on the tile and lies back down, reaching up to twine his fingers with Yoongi’s.
“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says again. “We were going out tomorrow.”
“It’s okay,” Jungkook assures him. “It’s not your fault.”
Sure, he’s a little disappointed that they’ll have to cancel their first Outside Date, but honestly? He’s happy to just spend time with Yoongi, away from the rush of tour, and if that has to happen in a bathroom, so be it. They’ve made do with less, over the years.
He brings Yoongi’s hand to his mouth, feeling scales and skin against his lips as he kisses the back of it. “It’ll be okay,” he repeats. “Let’s sleep some more.”
Water splashes as Yoongi tries to shift into a more comfortable position. “Okay. I still think you should go back to bed.”
“I’m fine right here,” Jungkook says. “ Sleep, hyung.”
“Fine, fine,” Yoongi grumbles and falls silent.
It speaks to their exhaustion that they are actually able to drift off for a few more hours. When Jungkook next drags himself back to full awareness, it’s light beyond the window and his cell is buzzing in the other room. Yoongi moans as he wakes up - the sound trailing off into a weird sort of click noise that only happens when he’s in siren form - and Jungkook reluctantly lets go of his hand.
“Be right back,” he murmurs, ignoring the ache in his back from sleeping on a hard floor.
Walking seems like too much effort right now, so he just crawls into the bedroom and feels blindly around on the nightstand until he locates his phone. The screen kindly informs him that it’s nearly seven and he’s got half a dozen KT messages from Jimin and Hoseok, wondering why Yoongi isn’t answering his phone and if they’re coming down to breakfast. Texting also seems like way too much effort, so he calls Jimin.
“Kook!” Jimin answers, sounding way too awake for nearly seven. “Are you okay? Did Yoongi-hyung throw his phone out the window?”
“No, but can you get one of the managers? We have a situation.”
“What kind of a situation?”
“Yoongi’s in the bathtub,” Jungkook says flatly and Jimin makes a noise of surprised understanding.
“Right. One of the managers. I’ll do that now.”
“Thank you,” Jungkook says and hangs up. His suitcase is in his room, which is all the way down the hall, so he decides to steal an oversized sweater from Yoongi before crawling back into the bathroom - phone now shoved in the pocket of the hoodie.
Yoongi’s fully awake and stretching with a grimace on his face that he tries to wipe away when he sees Jungkook.
“How bad is it?” Jungkook asks. “And please don’t lie.”
“My tail hurts,” Yoongi concedes with a tired huff.
He still has it bent up against the wall. Jungkook really wishes they were famous enough to close the hotel pool and let Yoongi swim around there for awhile. Beyonce would probably be able to request something like that no problem, but he’s pretty sure that the concierge desk still half thinks they’re a weird tour group.
“I called Jimin,” he says, leaning his back against the side of the tub. “We’re gonna try to find a bigger one.”
“Ah,” Yoongi says, an embarrassed flush creeping over his face as he ducks his head. “You don’t have to do that.”
“Well, I wanted to,” Jungkook insists, and reaches over to poke Yoongi’s cheek and the corner of the smile that’s taking over his mouth.
“You can still go out,” Yoongi says, stubborn as always. “You shouldn’t stay cooped up in a hotel with me all day. Just bring me back some chocolate or something.”
“The whole point was to spend time with you, hyung,” Jungkook says. “We can have a date here. Get candles or something. Play romantic music. It’ll be fine.”
“Romantic music, huh?” Yoongi asks with an arched eyebrow - smile turning a little teasing.
Jungkook shrugs. “Yeah, like a violin or something. Pretend we’re in a fancy restaurant in Paris.”
“You watch too many romances movies,” Yoongi says.
“What’s wrong with romance movies?”
“Says the mermaid in the bathtub.”
“Yah!” Yoongi flicks water at him. “I’m perfectly realistic. There are stories about my people from ancient fucking Greece, it’s not my fault humans started insisting supernatural shit isn’t real.”
Jungkook giggles at Yoongi’s indignant expression. “Okay, okay. You’re a mermaid and I believe in soulmates - nothing wrong with either of those things.”
“Soulmates?” Yoongi asks softly, tilting his head.
“Yeah,” Jungkook says and reaches into the water, brushing his fingers gently along Yoongi’s tail. “Soulmates.”
Yoongi hid it from them, at first. For a long time. He doesn’t like talking about those early days, when he barely had enough money for the bus - let alone a room for a night. He’s told Jungkook some of it: lying on the floor of tiny hotel shower, just so that his gills could stay wet while his tail dried out and cracked and ached; chaining himself to the radiator when the hunger became overpowering and he could feel his fangs form in his mouth and the acid drip of venom against his tongue and the ocean in his head roared roared roared; the terror always twisting in his stomach - that the company would find out and fire him, that the others would reject him, that he’d have to return home with his shattered dreams and face the smug condescension of his parents.
There is plenty more he’s never said, but Jungkook has simply learned: how much the hunger hurts, how bad it is when he can’t get water, how he belongs to two different worlds and neither want to coexist peacefully. That it’s never a simple choice between the earth and the ocean - his kind lost that ability long ago, when the magic of shapeshifting became a part of their blood.
Jungkook remembers the summer of debut and the heat that blanketed Seoul and weighed everything down - soaked his clothes in sweat in the practice rooms and made the air stick heavy to his tongue. He remembers how scared he was of the future careening towards them - that he was so young and full of dreams and doubts in equal measure. He remembers Yoongi counting won at the little white table in their blue-walled living room, when the moon was nearly full over the neon-lit city. Yoongi’s hands shook as he laid the bills down, one after the after.
“I don’t have enough,” he whispered, mostly to himself. “Fuck, I don’t have enough.”
Jungkook remembers not knowing what that meant, at the time, and learning it two nights later. The moon hid behind the clouds, but it was full and the tide was high on the coasts and Yoongi shifted in the bedroom of their tiny apartment. Jungkook remembers standing in the doorway with a mixture of awe and terror clanging around inside of him - suddenly thinking of being five-years-old on the beaches of Busan and seeing something in the water that looked human and not all at once. Then Yoongi’s pained whines filled the room and everything shifted again.
Their shower was too small to fit him and they didn’t have enough water to run it continuously. It was Seokjin who took charge, snapping everyone out of their stupor to fill up buckets and fetch towels and blankets. He carried Yoongi into the living room by himself and laid him gently down on the nest of blankets Jimin had prepared. Swept his hair off his forehead and said, “stay with us, Yoongi-yah.”
It was agony. They packed wet towels against Yoongi’s inflamed gills. Poured water into them from buckets that they refilled every few hours so as not to rack the bill up too high. Yoongi wheezed and thrashed and finally went limp and dazed, on the edge of suffocation, and Jungkook remembers the tears that slipped hot down his cheeks. Remembers Yoongi seeing them and rasping, “I’m sorry, Jungkook-ah.” Remembers shaking his head and pressing his forehead to Yoongi’s - so afraid that he was going to lose his hyung, this person he’d come to love so much in such a frighteningly short period of time, this boy his sixteen-year-old self believed was invincible.
Seokjin went toe-to-toe with the company to get all of their practices cancelled for the day. Namjoon held Yoongi’s hand so tight that it looked bruising. Hoseok hummed random songs under his breath while he ran his fingers through Yoongi’s damp hair. Jungkook rested his head against Yoongi’s chest, watching the open-close of his gills that meant he was still with them.
“I thought I was the only magical one,” Jimin said, holding Yoongi’s other hand.
“I thought you’d be a gremlin or something,” Taehyung said.
Yoongi laughed, wheezing.
And after he shifted back, Seokjin crouched in front of him and said, more serious than Jungkook had ever heard him, “Yoongi-yah, don’t you ever think you have to do this alone again.”
“Okay, hyung,” Yoongi whispered, still too-pale and too-weak, but alive alive, and opened his arms to fit as many of them in his embrace as he could.
And in that moment - sixteen and terrified and determined- Jungkook swore to protect him. Whatever it took to keep him alive. To keep his secret safe. Yoongi might not want to accept that kind of help, but Jungkook didn’t care.
It was the only way he knew how to love.
Five and half years later, twenty-one-year-old Jungkook takes a call from Sejin, who says that they’ve booked out the honeymoon suite because apparently it has a jacuzzi-sized bathtub. They just have to move Yoongi somehow.
“I have an idea,” Jungkook says.
Namjoon brings up the wheelchair as requested a few minutes later, face pinched in concern when Jungkook opens the door.
“He’s okay,” Jungkook says. “Just stressed, I think. Don’t worry, hyung.”
“Do you need any of us to stay?” Namjoon still asks.
Jungkook shakes his head. “No, go have fun. Take cool pictures. Bring back cheese and chocolate.”
Namjoon lingers, clearly torn, and Jungkook makes a shooing motion with one hand. “We’ll be fine. Go.”
“Okay, okay, we’re going,” Namjoon relents, finally backing away from the door. “Just call if you need anything. And keep us updated.”
“I will, I promise.” Because they all worry about Yoongi in a way that they don’t about Jimin or especially Seokjin. That one night in Seoul haunts every single one of them, Jungkook thinks. In this, he isn’t special.
But today, he’s got this.
He shuts the door once he’s confirmed that yes, Namjoon is headed for the elevators, and parks the chair in the middle of the room. Fishes around in Yoongi’s suitcase until he finds another baggy sweater and one of Yoongi’s baseball caps.
“Was that Namjoon?” Yoongi asks when Jungkook returns to the bathroom. He looks more alert now, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “And who were you talking on the phone with?”
“Sejin,” Jungkook says, kneeling next to the tub again. “We found better accommodations, but we need to move you.”
“Through the hotel?” Yoongi asks dubiously.
“I have a plan,” Jungkook assures him, taking his arm to help him sit up as much as possible. “And we’ll be fast, don’t worry.”
“What’s the plan?” Yoongi’s gaze lands on the sweater Jungkook’s laid on the floor. “Are you carrying me?”
“Not quite. Wheelchair.”
Jungkook pauses, biting his lip at the nervous expression on Yoongi’s face. He knows this is hard. That Yoongi hates how helpless he is like this (even if he isn’t technically helpless - Jungkook knows Yoongi’s got claws and fangs that can form and venom that could paralyze a whole shark, let alone a human, and a voice that could probably compel him to do just about anything. He also knows Yoongi would never use any of those things, especially against one of them), and that moving is going to hurt him, even if they’re fast.
“Do you trust me, hyung?” he asks.
Some of the tension bleeds out of Yoongi’s jaw and brow. “Of course I do, Kook-ah.”
Jungkook’s chest tightens at that - at Yoongi’s easy, easy acceptance. “Okay, then let me do this. You take care of me every other day, all the time. Days like this - I get to take care of you.”
A soft smile steals across Yoongi’s face and in the water a pink hue tints some of his scales. “Okay,” he says. “Okay, you can take care of me.”
“Good,” Jungkook huffs and bends down to press a quick kiss to his mouth. His lips are cold, which is another worry. Jungkook needs to get him warmer.
He helps Yoongi sit up in the tub and then carefully scoops him out of the water, once again telling his stupid heel to shut up - they can deal with the pain later. Yoongi rests his head against Jungkook’s chest as Jungkook carries him back out into the main room, uncaring of the fact that Yoongi’s getting all his clothes damp. Sejin promised to move his suitcase, too, so he can change later.
He sets Yoongi in the wheelchair and then swiftly pulls the hoodie over Yoongi’s head. Yoongi hisses quietly when the fabric brushes his sensitive gills, but doesn’t protest beyond that. The cap goes on Yoongi’s head next, pulled low to hide the scales on his face. Then Jungkook crouches and drapes a spare blanket over Yoongi’s tail, practically swaddling him as he tucks the ends in to conceal Yoongi’s fins.
He presses a kiss to Yoongi’s cheek as he stands and grips the handles of the chair. “Hang on, hyung.”
Yoongi laughs, more of a wheeze, and curls his fingers around the armrests. It takes a little maneuvering to get out the door - Jungkook triple checking sure Yoongi’s tail isn’t dragging on the floor or won’t get caught in the wheels - but then they’re off down the hall. Jungkook tries not to outright run because he doesn’t want to arouse suspicion and that would probably open the cut on his heel even more and the staff would never forgive him, but he definitely power walks as fast as he can. Yoongi reaches out to hit the button on the elevator when they’re close enough and Jungkook taps his foot impatiently as they listen to it rumble towards them.
Finally, the doors open with a cheerful ding, and Jungkook executes what he thinks is a pretty smooth turn to back Yoongi in. There’s weird jazz music trickling from the speakers that they both giggle at. Jungkook hits the button for the top floor, ignoring Yoongi’s questioning look. He wants part of this to be a surprise.
“C’mon,” he mutters in English as the floors tick by at what feels like the speed of molasses. Yoongi’s breathing is getting raspier, a distressed clicking noise slipping out with every labored inhale.
But they make it, the elevator gliding to a stop on the top floor and Jungkook spots Sejin waiting for them at the end of the much shorter hallway. Yoongi hunches down in the wheelchair - still hates too many people outside of their immediate group seeing him like this - and Sejin politely averts his eyes as they approach. Hands Jungkook the keycard and says their suitcases are already inside and please keep him posted. If need be, they’ll arrange for him and Yoongi to leave later tonight and meet up with the others in Berlin.
Jungkook thanks him profusely (only a few people at the company know about Yoongi, Jimin, and Seokjin, but all of them are understanding and accommodating and Jungkook’s eternally grateful for it), and lets Sejin open the door for him so that he can wheel Yoongi inside.
And whoa. This really is the honeymoon suite. It actually looks like something out of a film, right down to the rose petals scattered across the pristine white bed and the mood lighting from the modern, artsy chandelier that he vows to take a picture of for Taehyung later.
Right now: bathroom.
He peels the blanket off Yoongi and scoops him up one more time, glad that he doesn’t get much bigger in mermaid form than in human form and so he’s still light in Jungkook’s arms.
“Almost there,” he says and gets a wheeze and a click in response.
The bathroom is everything that was advertised, holy shit. The tub is huge and really deep, accented by an intricate marble backsplash. The floor beneath his socked feet is marble, too, and there’s a giant window looking out over the grey-sky city, bathing the whole space in soft light. Someone’s already filled the bath and sprinkled even more rose petals and bath oil in it. The smell is kind of overwhelming - sickly sweet - and Jungkook wrinkles his nose as he carefully scoots over to the tub, trying not to slip.
He lowers Yoongi into the water, rucking up the sweatshirt so it doesn’t hinder his gills as they expand, and taking the cap off his head. Yoongi’s eyes blink open - black sliding into brown - and he sighs in contentment, immediately submerging completely. His scales brighten, some green mixing in with the blue, and he rests against the bottom of the tub, eyes closed and hair fanning around his face like a ring of fire.
“Hey,” Jungkook squawks, slapping a palm against the surface of the warm water. “I need to get that hoodie off you, hyung.”
Yoongi squints up at him, probably unable to hear. Jungkook tugs at his own sweater for emphasis and then stifles a snort of laughter when Yoongi blinks down at himself and realization dawns across his face. He reemerges, shoving his hair off his face.
“Sorry, I forgot I was wearing it.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Jungkook says, but helps him get it off, dropping it to the floor in a sodden heap to deal with later. “Feel better?”
“So much better,” Yoongi declares, flicking his tail happily. “It’s so warm.” Then he notices the rose petals, scooping several up in his palm. “Are these … roses?”
“Well this is this honeymoon suite,” Jungkook points out, perching on the edge of the tub again.
Yoongi splutters. “The honeymoon suite?”
“It was the only one with a big enough bathtub,” Jungkook says with a shrug and a teasing smile. “Happy honeymoon, hyung. Sorry you missed the wedding.”
“Eh, the honeymoon is more interesting, anyway,” Yoongi says, winking, and Jungkook dissolves into giggles as Yoongi lounges back against the bath, arms spread like he’s a gangster in an old Hollywood film, and flicks his tail in a “come hither” motion.
And well. Who is Jungkook to refuse? They haven’t had time to themselves in so long.
He peels off his damp sweater and pajama shirt, then shimmies out of his sweatpants and underwear at once, hyper aware of Yoongi’s hot gaze lingering on his exposed skin. It would have made him shy, not too long ago, hunching up and trying to hide. But Yoongi’s assured him over and over that he’s beautiful, gorgeous, hot - he seems to come up with different adjectives each time - and it’s hard to stay self-conscious when being showered with that kind of praise, when getting into bed with someone who is always eager and happy to have you there.
It may have done a little too much for his ego, because his first instinct now is to preen and waggle his eyebrows. “Like what you see?”
“No,” Yoongi says flatly, like his scales aren’t rapidly turning pink and giving away his arousal. “You’re hideous. Put your clothes back on.”
“Really? You’re sure? Because you’re blushing an awful lot, hyung.” Jungkook nods at Yoongi’s pink cheeks and pink tail and Yoongi huffs.
“Brat,” he says and flicks water at Jungkook with his tail.
Jungkook giggles again and starts for the tub. He’s about to climb in when he abruptly realizes that he’s still go his socks on. Then it’s his turn to blush as he bends down to take them off and Yoongi laughs.
“Shut up,” he huffs, throwing the offending pieces of clothing on top of the pile and finally sinking into the water, “I’m injured, don’t tease me.”
That was the wrong thing to say because Yoongi’s gaze immediately darts to his heel with concern. “Oh my god, I was joking, hyung.”
“Are you sure?” Yoongi asks predictably. “You’ve been carrying me around everywhere and the doctor told you to stay off your feet as much as possible-”
“And I’m off my feet now. It’s fine.” He splashes over to Yoongi and cups his face, stroking his thumbs across the scales on Yoongi’s cheekbones. “I’m fine.”
Yoongi’s big hands slide across his sides, cupping his waist, and he shivers at the contact. “Okay,” Yoongi says. “Okay, sorry. I know I worry too much.”
“I appreciate the worry,” Jungkook says, “but you can stop now. We’re going to relax in this bathtub instead.”
“This is the nicest bathtub I think I’ve ever been in,” Yoongi concedes, looking around again.
“Right? So let’s enjoy it.”
Yoongi hums, a deep rumble in the back of his throat, and sinks deeper into the water, pulling Jungkook with him. “Okay, Jungkook-ah. Let’s enjoy it.”
Jungkook grins and lowers his head for a kiss.
He went into the ocean with Yoongi once, in Kota Kinabalu - when the love between them wasn’t close to fully blooming. Yoongi originally told him to stay away, told all of them to stay away, but Jungkook was eighteen and curious and terrible at doing what he was told. So he snuck down to the shore not long after Yoongi left the resort. The full moon turned the water from black to glimmering silver and Jungkook thought it looked like something out of a story as he tugged off his sandals. Like the stories his mother used to read him as a child - the dragon king that lived at the bottom of the ocean; Maya and the turtle that fought for her life; the princess and the beggar she teaches to be a nobleman.
And when he ducked his head beneath the surface of the silver water, there was sand and endless sea and Yoongi twirling in the shallows. There wasn’t much human left - his scales covered his entire torso and crept up his face; his eyes were black as an abyss; his ears were pointed; and his webbed hands had claws where there were once nails. A full transformation, he remembered Yoongi explaining, only possible in the sea.
He was still incredible, Jungkook thought. He was the most incredible thing Jungkook had ever seen - a fairytale brought to life.
Then he twisted and spotted Jungkook.
Jungkook went still, because there was no recognition in Yoongi’s predatory gaze. Because when Yoongi’s mouth opened, fangs glinted ominously in the watery moonlight. Jungkook thought, for the first time, that this was probably a very, very bad idea. He’d drifted out deep enough that he couldn’t touch the seafloor and there was no way he’d be able to out-swim Yoongi. So he didn’t try, just kept himself very quiet and still as Yoongi darted forward in a dark blur. Squeezed his eyes shut and told himself that at least this was a pretty epic way to die: eaten by a fucking siren .
But instead of teeth in his neck or claws across his face, he felt fingers curl around his biceps and yank him up towards the surface. He gasped as he broke it, sucking air into his lungs, and blinking saltwater out of his eyes. Yoongi was staring at him - more human than he was a few seconds ago - and his eyes were blown wide with something close to terror.
“Jungkook-ah,” he said in a voice that wasn’t quite his own - darker, deeper, a few notches away from fully human. “What are you doing here?” His words were careful, too. Like this was no longer a language that he was used to speaking.
“I just … wanted to see,” Jungkook panted, gripping Yoongi’s wet, scaly shoulders. “I wanted to understand.”
“You should not be here. It’s dangerous.”
But it wasn’t, Jungkook knew then. He was foolish for thinking it would be, for thinking - even for a second - that Yoongi could ever hurt him.
“No it isn’t,” he said. “You’ll take care of me, right, hyung?”
Yoongi shook his head, but there was already the beginnings of surrender on his face.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Jungkook insisted. “I’ll never be afraid of you.”
“You should be,” Yoongi argued.
Yoongi: his safest place. The person who always looked out for him, right from his first terrifying night in the dorms - so young and so homesick, and Yoongi wrapped him up in a hug and told him that it was going to be okay.
And he was right.
“You’re Yoongi,” he repeated. “You won’t hurt me.”
Yoongi made an indecipherable sound in the back of his throat, but pressed his face into Jungkook’s neck and held on, keeping them both afloat in the calm water. “Okay,” he whispered. “You can stay for a little bit.”
“Thank you,” Jungkook said, squeezing him gently around the waist, trying to be careful of his gills.
Yoongi drew him further out into the water, until the shore became a dark smudge on the horizon, but Jungkook wasn’t afraid. He held Yoongi’s hand as they floated side by side, picking constellations out of the thousands of stars stretched out above them. He let Yoongi draw him back under to look at glimmering reefs and hundreds of colorful fish, let Yoongi point out stingrays and distant pods of dolphins and truly felt like he was part of a fairytale.
It’s still one of the greatest nights of his life - a secret just between him and Yoongi - and he’s held it close to his heart over the years, right next to the love that bloomed and bloomed and bloomed.
Yoongi gasps when Jungkook’s fingers trail down to gently trace the edges of his gills. He’s sensitive there, and across his stomach and hips - where skin fully gives way to the beginning of his tail. Jungkook draws patterns under the water, watching Yoongi’s tail twitch and his scales turn even more pink, like a full-body blush.
“Feels good?” Jungkook asks and Yoongi huffs at him.
“Yeah. Really good.”
Jungkook beams and drags a hand up Yoongi’s chest to rub gently over his nipples, drinking in the strangled sound Yoongi makes and the way his head tilts back to expose the line of his throat. They haven’t done this much, considering the random nature of the shift outside the full moon. Besides that, it took ages for Yoongi to allow this - so afraid that Jungkook would be repulsed by him in this form. But Jungkook’s a fast learner. And yeah, it’s a little different than touching Yoongi when he’s fully human, but it’s still Yoongi. The sounds he makes are the same and the way his lips part and his eyes squeeze shut in pleasure is the same, and all of it is still the hottest thing that Jungkook has ever seen in his life.
(“Can you orgasm?” he asked Yoongi not long after they started dating, during one of their rare dinners in Yoongi’s studio, “when you’re a siren?”
Unfortunately, his timing was pretty terrible because it resulted in Yoongi choking on a mouthful of noodles for nearly a full minute. When he finally managed to swallow, he coughed and gaped at Jungkook. Jungkook, meanwhile, was fascinated by the flush spreading across Yoongi’s cheeks. It was a new superpower of his, he’d discovered, making Min Yoongi blush - and he felt more invincible than Saitama every time it happened.
“Why do you want to know that?”
Jungkook shrugged aggressively, because he didn’t really have an explanation beyond curiosity. And some horniness. Horny curiosity.
“You watch too much anime,” Yoongi grumbled, but he was still blushing. Fidgeting. “Yes, I can. It’s just … different. Kind of full body. It’s hard to explain. It’s like … like a wave breaking. You climb higher and higher and then you hit this crest and it just washes over you.”
“Does it feel good?” Jungkook asked, because that was one of his new missions: making Yoongi feel good.
“Yeah,” Yoongi admitted in a small voice. “Yeah it feels really good. But you don’t have to … we don’t have to do anything during a shift. Usually I won’t even be here, so don’t feel like you need to. I know it’s - it’s weird and probably kind of gross, so….”
“Nothing about your body is gross, hyung,” Jungkook insisted around a familiar ache in chest - one that had been there for years, digging in deeper every time Yoongi expressed shame over his siren form.
Yoongi nodded, but didn’t look like he believed Jungkook.
And well. It was definitely on, after that.)
“I’m getting water everywhere,” Yoongi whines when Jungkook starts kissing his neck. “This is your fault. They’re going to kick us out of the hotel.”
Jungkook giggles into Yoongi’s warm skin. “That seems a bit extreme, hyung. It’s just water. And this is the honeymoon suite, you know? Bet they see a lot worse than wet floors.”
Yoongi’s nose wrinkles. “You’re disgusting. I blame Namjoon.”
“I blame you,” Jungkook teases and sets about drawing as many sounds out of Yoongi as he can. Most of the bathroom floor gets soaked in the process, but he really can’t bring himself to care - not when Yoongi’s coming apart beneath his mouth and hands.
It’s worth it, for the heavy-lidded, blissed-out expression on Yoongi’s face when Jungkook finally coaxes him over the crest of that wave and holds him close through the rippling aftershocks.
“Fuck,” Yoongi mumbles. “You’re too good at that.”
“Again, your fault,” Jungkook says, though that probably isn’t true. Yoongi admitted, after much coaxing, where he was most sensitive in this form and Jungkook quickly took on the role of intrepid and determined explorer, and here they are.
“I’ll take care of you,” Yoongi continues, dipping a hand under the water to run too-gentle fingers over where Jungkook is hot and aching. “Just … give me a minute.”
“It’s fine,” Jungkook says. In some things, he can be patient. “We’ve got all day, hyung.”
“I still don’t get how you’re a mermaid,” Taeyhung teased in Saipan, “when you’re so terrible at water activities, hyung.”
“Because legs are useless,” Yoongi muttered, adjusting the goggles that made him look a little like a cute pufferfish (which Jungkook vowed to tell him later, just to watch him flush and squawk). “Who wants to swim with legs?” He pointed to the plastic flippers on his feet. “These are heavy. And a cheap imitation. And gills are so much easier than this snorkel.”
He grumbled, but Jungkook thought that the ocean still recognized him - still knew one of its own. Fish darted around him more than any of them and when he thought none of the instructors were watching, he swam down to the floor of the grotto and rested there, staring up at the sunlight piercing through the darkness with a peaceful expression on his face.
Jungkook joined him after a moment, reaching out to thread their fingers together because he knew the cameras were occupied with Hoseok and Taehyung. Because this thing between them was brand new, only a few weeks old, and he still felt sparklers going off in his chest every other minute - almost impossible to completely contain.
Yoongi’s eyes scrunched up behind the goggles and he pointed to a school of silver fish swimming past above their heads.
Jungkook wondered, in that moment, what it must be like: to hate the ocean just as much as you love it.
Yoongi does take care of Jungkook, as promised - sinks beneath the water and takes Jungkook into his mouth and Jungkook shivers and gasps and swears he sees stars on the plain white ceiling - and they settle after that. Jungkook’s skin is getting wrinkly and he remembers, somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, that he hasn’t eaten anything today. Yoongi sighs at him and orders him out of the bath to get room service.
He bundles himself up in one of the provided fluffy robes and hunts around the room until he finds a menu. He’s tempted by the steak, but he also doesn’t want to risk setting off the hunger that always lurks when Yoongi’s a siren, so bowl of pasta it is.
Actually, make it two bowls. He’s starving.
It takes him a moment to sound out the words in English and then relay it very slowly and carefully to the polite concierge staff. That done, he checks his phone and fires off a message to the group chat to reassure the others that they’re still okay. Takes a picture of the chandelier for Taehyung and gets a picture of a giant wheel of cheese back a few minutes later.
Satisfied that they’re okay and having fun, Jungkook puts his phone away and checks the stitches on his heel. Still intact, though he probably shouldn’t have kept them in the water so long. Whoops. He digs around again until he finds the bandages he tossed into his suitcase at Sejin’s insistence and plasters a fresh one over the wound.
He can hear Yoongi humming to himself softly in the bathtub and smiles. Yoongi usually avoids it when he’s around, because of the compulsion that’s always layered into the notes. Jungkook doesn’t mind it - it mostly just makes him feel relaxed and kind of floaty in a nice way, like a soothing balm - but Yoongi’s paranoid. It’s nice to hear him now: the low, almost lazy quality to his voice.
(You should sing more, hyung, Jungkook told him earlier this year. Nothing’s going to happen and people should hear your voice.
I’ll think about it, Yoongi said.
But he sang, in the end, and Jungkook figured this was another mission: reminding Yoongi of all the beautiful pieces has inside of him - ocean and earth and sky.)
A knock on the door cuts off Yoongi’s quiet singing and Jungkook makes sure his robe is tied tightly before opening it to accept the trays of food with a heartfelt thank you. He also noticed a note that he thinks says there’s complimentary champagne in the fridge, so double win.
Upon further inspection, the note is correct - there is complimentary champagne in the fridge. Jungkook crows in victory and pours two glasses, adding them to his tray. He wishes he had a rose or a candle or something, even though it’s mid afternoon and raining outside. He settles for scattering a few rose petals from the bed onto the tray. There. Close enough.
Yoongi laughs when he reenters the bathroom. “You know I can’t eat regular food right now, right?”
“Of course I do, these are for me. The real question is: can you drink champagne?”
Yoongi frowns, contemplative. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”
“Then we’re experimenting, hyung,” Jungkook says and holds out a glass to Yoongi. “Sorry in advance if I poison you.”
“I don’t think you’ll poison me.” Yoongi takes the glass.
Jungkook hops up onto the bathroom counter to eat his pasta while Yoongi takes a tentative sip.
“How is it?”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Yoongi mutters and Jungkook swallows his bite, then sticks his tongue out at him.
“How is it?”
Another sip. “...okay? It tastes a little more bitter than normal but it’s not bad.”
“Excellent. First experimental trial a success.”
Yoongi laughs, shoulders shaking. “What’s the next experimental trial?”
“No, I don’t want to risk being betrayed by whiskey.”
“Fine. First and only experimental trial a success.”
Yoongi smiles at him above the rim of his glass - all soft and fond in a way that still knocks Jungkook off his feet like an energy blast from Iron Man. He copes with it by sprinkling rose petals over Yoongi’s head, watching Yoongi’s nose crinkle up. He’s got both arms resting on the lip of the tub to keep his balance while he drinks the champagne, and Jungkook also takes a moment to appreciate the ripple of muscle that’s normally hidden under numerous layers of clothing.
Then his eyes move from Yoongi to the tub and oh.
“Hyung,” he says through another mouthful of pasta. “I’ve just made an incredible discovery.”
“What?” Yoongi asks as he drains the last of his champagne and stretches up to set the empty glass on the counter next to Jungkook.
Jungkook hops off and crouches by the tub, sticking his hand into the water and pressing a button on the control panel he somehow failed to notice earlier. A whirring noise echoes through the room and then the water in the bath starts bubbling as the jets kick in.
The stunned expression on Yoongi’s face is priceless.
“When did you know?” Jungkook asked the first time they were in Los Angeles - still so uncertain of the future ahead of them. They were on the beach, in a rare moment of downtime, watching the sun catch the horizon line on fire as it sets.
“When I was your age,” Yoongi said, arms wrapped around his bony knees. There was longing and loathing in his eyes as he stared out at the cresting waves. “Maybe a little younger. My parents warned me that it would be a possibility. My mother is one, but my father isn’t. My brother isn’t, either. I was lucky.”
His smile wasn’t really a smile at all - far too full of bitterness.
“But the shift didn’t start happening until I was sixteen. I had to miss school. The sea was too far away, so I would sneak down to the Geumho River and just swim for miles. Usually I would shift again before I made it back - had to take the bus home.”
“That must have been scary.” Jungkook couldn’t imagine, trying to navigate something like that on his own.
“It was. But my parents wanted me to spend my whole life hiding. I couldn’t do that. I don’t want to do that.”
Yoongi’s fingers dug into skin through the rips in his jeans. Jungkook wanted to reach out and take his hand but that seemed far too bold for his still-scared heart to manage.
“I think you made the right choice, hyung,” is all he said, in the end.
Yoongi, he thought, looked at him for what felt like the first time - surprise in his gaze and something else. Jungkook dared to hope it was respect.
The jets, Jungkook thinks, are possibly the greatest discovery he’s ever made - potentially even greater than learning Yoongi’s neck in siren form is a top erogenous zone and the noises he makes when you mark him there are pretty much a symphony.
“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi says with a groan, “Jungkook-ah, this is amazing.”
“Liking the jets, huh, hyung?” Jungkook teases, almost done with his second bowl of pasta.
He gets a happy gurgle in response and laughs quietly to himself. He’d never tell Yoongi this, but he’s so fucking cute when he’s happy or excited about something. He gets all giggly and his eyes light up and his skin glows, and Jungkook’s pretty sure that if there’s a source to his superpowers it’s that.
It’s Yoongi’s happiness.
He sets the empty bowl aside and sheds his robe again. “I’m coming in, make way.”
Yoongi drifts to the side of the tub to let him sink back in. The water’s warm again - probably drained partially and refilled while Jungkook was waiting for food - and he sighs happily. He doesn’t care how wrinkly his skin gets, this is amazing.
“Liking the jets, Jungkook-ah?” Yoongi teases and pushes him so that one is angled at his lower back, right over the spot that’s been bothering him lately, and the noise he lets out would probably be embarrassing if anyone other than Yoongi heard it.
“Best date,” Jungkook mumbles, content down to his bones, which he’s pretty sure are slowly liquefying.
“Even though we’re stuck in a bathroom?” Yoongi asks.
“It’s a really fancy bathroom. With champagne. And a nice view. And jets.”
“Okay, good point.” Yoongi settles down next to Jungkook with another happy sound, stretching his tail out. “I wonder if I can install jets in the bathtub back home.”
“Please try,” Jungkook says. “I’ll love you forever.”
“I thought you already were going to love me forever,” Yoongi murmurs softly and Jungkook’s heart squeezes again. He wraps an arm around Yoongi’s shoulders and pulls Yoongi into his side - once again secretly thrilled that he’s gotten tall enough for Yoongi to fit so perfectly there, like they’re puzzle pieces always meant to align.
“I’ll extra love you forever.”
“Well. Guess I’ll definitely have to try, then,” Yoongi says. His eyes are starting to droop, lulled by the jets.
Jungkook kisses his hair and lets him drift off to sleep.
“Hyung,” Jungkook whispered on a boat in Hawaii, out of earshot of the camera crews, “have you ever hunted a shark?”
Yoongi frowned at him and stayed stubbornly silent. Jungkook poked him in the side. “Have you ever punched a shark?”
“Why do you care?” Yoongi demanded, tugging his baseball cap lower over his eyes.
“Hyung, it is vital that I know if you’ve punched a shark. For my peace of mind. Please?”
Because Yoongi didn’t normally like to talk about this - thought it made him a monster. Jungkook just thought it made him incredible. He had a super form, like the Hulk.
“Fine,” Yoongi muttered, staring out at the waves whipping past them. “I’ve hunted a shark, sort of. Once.”
“Oh my god,” Jungkook breathed and scooted closer. “What kind of shark? A Great White one? Like Jaws? Please tell me you’ve hunted Jaws.”
“I haven’t hunted Jaws, calm down.” But a smile was starting to appear in the corner of Yoongi’s mouth, which was Jungkook’s real mission all along: draw Yoongi out of the shell he’d retreated into ever since he heard they’d be swimming with sharks. “But it was a Great White. I got too far out and it tried to attack me. I … fought back. And won.”
“Holy shit. Holy shit, hyung. You’re amazing.”
“I’m not,” Yoongi grumbled, but he was really smiling now.
“You are. That’s so cool. You’re like the Hulk.”
“I’m not,” Yoongi repeated, shaking his head.
“You are,” Jungkook replied stubbornly and watched Yoongi surrender with a resigned sigh. “Will they know you, though? The sharks?”
“I don’t know,” Yoongi answered truthfully. “I haven’t gotten this close to one as a human. I don’t think so? But the ocean works in mysterious ways.”
Jungkook reached down and squeezed Yoongi’s hand. “It'll be fine. And if it isn’t, I’ve kind of been dying to punch one.”
“I’ve noticed,” Yoongi said dryly, but he squeezed back and his smile was brighter now, happy.
They were okay, Jungkook decided.
They were going to be.
Jungkook isn’t sure how long they doze for, but when he wakes up again it looks like it’s nearly dusk. The change should be over soon, hopefully. Yoongi’s already awake, staring out at the city lights that are gradually getting brighter as the sun sets and the sky turns dark.
“Jungkook-ah,” he says and Jungkook’s name is raw falling from his lips, “I don’t think I’ve ever said thank you.”
“For what?” Jungkook asks, sliding over to rest next to him - put his arms over the edge in a mirror of Yoongi’s pose.
Yoongi huffs under his breath, like he usually does when he’s about to say something really sappy. “For … lining my pieces up. You … you always talk about how we put you together, but you put me together, too. All these conflicting parts of me, you helped connect them. Helped me love them. Love myself. And I … I love you so much. For that. Thank you.”
Jungkook swears he isn’t going to cry. Not in a hotel bathtub. He buries his face in Yoongi’s shoulder instead, breathes in roses and bath oil and the tang of the sea that Yoongi always seems to carry - in either form.
“It was the least I could do,” he says. “It was the best way I knew how to love you.”
“Sometimes I think you’re the magical one,” Yoongi murmurs. “Not me.”
“You’re magical and I have superpowers.”
Yoongi twists around to face him, eyebrows raised. “Oh?”
“I line soul pieces up,” Jungkook says, cupping Yoongi’s face. “And make you laugh when you’re sad. And make you blush. And help you not to be so afraid of the things inside you. So see? Superpowers.”
“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees and shifts to rest his forehead against Jungkook’s - a tender smile on his face, “superpowers.”
“I love you so much,” Jungkook says, because it feels like the right time, even if he still thinks there should be candles present. “I always have. It’s just … evolved. Mutated.”
Yoongi laughs. “Mutated?”
“Yeah, into something stronger.”
“I’ll take it,” Yoongi declares and kisses him - no hesitation like there was a few months ago, just heat and passion.
Jungkook wraps an arm around Yoongi’s back and opens his mouth for Yoongi’s tongue and listens to the rhythmic flick of Yoongi’s tail in the water, almost matching the ongoing beat of the rain outside.
He’s happy, he thinks. Right here, in this moment, he’s so happy.
“What do you love most about the ocean?” Jungkook asks in Malta, after he drank whiskey with Yoongi, busked alone, and then came back to their lodgings to find Yoongi surprisingly awake, sitting down by the water’s edge.
Yoongi sticks his bare feet into the sea and sighs, contemplative.
“I love … the vastness of it,” he says. “That parts of it are truly unknowable. Like space. A galaxy beneath the water. And the wildness of it. That it can’t be tamed - that it's the one thing we’ve never been able to conquer. We landed on the moon, but we can’t control the tides. Or the storms. It will always be the greatest force on this earth.”
He rubs his chest, right over his heart.
“And I hate the pull of it. The song I can hear in my head, always, but especially when I’m close to it. That it both wants me back and resents me for leaving. That I will never be free of it, even if I go stand in the desert - the sea will still call from somewhere. It lives inside of me. It’s beautiful and terrible, and I never know what to make of it.”
“Maybe you don’t need to,” Jungkook points out. “Maybe you need to just … let it be. Like us and the tides. It’s a part of you, isn’t it, hyung? The sea? Maybe you shouldn’t fight it so much.”
“Yah,” Yoongi looks at him and they’ve sat and talked on so many shores, but this is different. It’s different this time, because Jungkook knows what Yoongi’s lips feel like against his own. Because there is so much love inside of him, he doesn’t know what to do with it. “When did you get so wise?”
“A long time ago,” Jungkook says sagely. “You just didn’t notice.” He stands up, glancing at the crescent moon visible through the clouds and the city lights. “The water’s nice. Come swim with me?”
Yoongi hesitates, so Jungkook continues down the steps, submerging himself to his ankles, his calves, his knees. “Yoongi,” he says, reaching out a hand, “don’t you trust me?”
Yoongi laughs. Yoongi says, “always,” and twines his fingers with Jungkook’s.
Lets Jungkook lead him into the water, until it swirls around their waists, their chests, their shoulders. Jungkook can almost hear the murmur of it, he thinks. Maybe there is a tiny ocean shard inside all of them - a glimmer of magic they can’t see.
It doesn’t matter, because Yoongi looks ethereal in the moonlight, even in his black leggings and the bucket hat he still hasn’t taken off. His earrings glint and dance, reflecting the silver from the water and the sky.
Two worlds, one person.
And how Jungkook loves.
It’s dark by the time the shift comes again and Jungkook leaves the room while Yoongi’s gills close up and the scales vanish and his tail spilts back into ordinary legs. The change has always been a private thing, and he’s tried not to intrude on it. He texts Sejin instead, and asks if they can leave for Berlin early in the morning.
Yes, he gets back.
Jimin tells him that they’ll have chocolate waiting. Seokjin reminds him to make Yoongi get some sleep. Hoseok hopes they’re having a good time. He bids them all goodnight and brings a robe to Yoongi, whose legs are wobbly - unstable like jelly. It’s going to be a bit, before he gets the hang of walking again - before the siren part of him is fully tucked away. So Jungkook helps him into the robe and then carries him one last time into the bedroom, setting him down on the king-sized bed.
“It’s like a whole other ocean,” Yoongi says, spreading his limbs out like a starfish. “And it’s so soft. Fuck, I love beds.”
Jungkook lays down next to him, head on Yoongi’s arm. “Are you okay?”
“A little stiff, but I’ll be fine. Thank you, for taking care of me.”
“Always,” Jungkook says. “Though it would have been really fun if we could have snuck you into a canal.”
Yoongi grimaces. “Absolutely not. Do you know the shit that’s in canals? I’d die of some kind of disease within a few hours.”
“Fine, fine, no canals.”
“Are you happy?”
“Very,” Yoongi says, pressing his still-wet lips to Jungkook’s temple. “I’m very happy, Jungkook-ah. That was the best day stuck in a bathtub I’ve ever had.”
“Good,” Jungkook says. “Because I’m happy, too.”
And tomorrow, they’ll head to Berlin and rehearsals and another arena where they’ll sing and dance their hearts out. And he’s sure it will be incredible - one night on a growing list of nights that feel like a dream, like an impossibility - but for now, he’s content to lie here with Yoongi and listen to the rain as it plays drums on the roof.
To lie here with Yoongi and just be.