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Ode to the Stranger I Used to Love

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Everyone keeps his first times in mind, not allowing them to dissipate, too dear to his heart to forget. First times are the epitomes of the melodies our lives would sound like if written down on a sheet music, each line broken by countless  pauses and full of meticulously coloured notes. Every first time one experiences is to be remembered for years, revived by one’s memory whenever melancholy encompasses our common sense. First times are meant to last forever, although sometimes Namjoon wishes it wasn’t the case.

 

+++

 

The moment Jin enters his new apartment he notices a heap of letters and magazines piling up on the round kitchen table placed in front of the window. He considers himself lucky Hoseok and Jimin were kind enough to arrange it for him, while he was working over hours just to keep himself busy, too afraid to risk his mind reminiscing the times when the smile plastered on his face was nothing but genuine.

 

Jet-lagged and with hooded  eyes, he stumbles towards the kitchen, a bag swaying beside his hips. He doesn’t pay much attention to the suitcase and shoes he left in the living room. He feels he could sleep for a thousand years, if only was he allowed to sink into his newly bought sheets, the scent of their newness still lingering in the air. Unfortunately he has to put his life together, even though starting all over again without him by his side doesn’t fill him up with much excitement.

 

He grimaces in a fruitless attempt to curve his lips into a broken smile. How could his heart long for someone whose presence is just as faint as tangible at the same time.

 

His eyes dart to the table which reminds him of the post Jimin collected for him over the last 12 months. He sighs as he coerces his legs to move in its direction, each step harder to make the the last one. He just wants to sleep and forget. Not necessarily in this particular order.

 

Grabbing the letters he doesn’t expect to find anything but bills and advertisements. After all that’s all each of us is welcomed by when unlocking our postbox. He almost decides to let it be and ignore trivial matters for one more day, when a distinctively not professionally addressed envelope catches his attention. He makes out the handwriting which seems oddly familiar at the first sight. And then it clicks.

 

“No fucking way”, he mutters with shaking hands. The realization deflates all of his hopes on getting some rest, on playing the fool like he used to in the USA pretending none of it happened in the first place.

 

He fights with the immediate urge to discard the letter without throwing a look on its content, even though he’s sure as hell he’d regret it someday.

 

Well, truth be told he preferred someday to not overrun him right now.

 

In spite of the mixture of fear and some crook satisfaction his fingers traces along the opening and tear it apart, giving him an access to the meticulously folded piece of paper. He plucks it out and induces his eyes to follow each letter, each word making a sense out of the shabby handwriting. Namjoon sure as hell didn’t improve in this aspect. He still struggles with deciphering coherent sentences, just as every single time in the past whenever Joon decided his thoughts sounded more reasonable when eternalized on a piece of paper. Something about the familiarity of it makes his heart clench in sadness.  

 

I heard you’re back from LA. Hope you arrived safe and sound.

When you find a second, come by to our my apartment, there’s still a box with some of your stuff.

See you soon, I guess

Namjoon

 

Seokjin doesn’t understand why his heart breaks for the second time or where the strange numbness comes from that pulls at his entrails, forcing him to grunt in anguish.

Because sometimes the absence of someone you loved could feel more present than the proximity of all the sweet nothings from the past.

Because sometimes you love when it’s too late.

 

+++

 

Namjoon is alone. It’s a state he should’ve gotten used to at this point, but the feeling of never ending loneliness stings at his skin, as if reer proximity of other people irked so much it became hard to ignore.

 

Ever since the breakup Yoongi prompted him to go out on many various occasions, yet the pain stifling his heart didn’t allow him to forget. Not even once.

 

The resplendent lights of reflectors casting colorful shadows on the mayhem of tangled bodies covered with sweat reminded him of all the nights they ended up falling asleep next to each other, Joon always being the one to admire faded street lights dancing on Jin’s ruffled hair before giving in to the drows taking over his consciousness.

 

Each morning coffee became a symbol of their youth, of all the first times they’ve shared. Being honest Namjoon couldn’r recall even one single memory of something he’s done for the first time on his own; just as if Jin embodied the epitome of what it feels like to live, to revel in a moment instead of getting lost in the muddled labyrinth of overthinking.

 

Now, sitting in the darkness, he muses about all the missed opportunities, all the second that redefined the path he was supposed to espouse. The windows are covered with heavy drapes, so that none of the street lights adorning the walls of their bedroom back then could remind him of all the remnants of their love that still haunted his memory. He makes out the bookshelves he fought about with Jin when arranging their apartment, he takes in the fragrance of nothing more than leftovers laying abandoned under the bed.

 

He’s really gone, isn’t he? , he thinks while the tears that gather at the corners of his eyes strain his cheeks. The world spins around, his chest feels like caving in any moment and yet all he can think about is the irony of loving someone you hate so dearly it almost feels like salvation.

 

 

+++

 

It’s a day like every other ever since he was gone. Losing Jin meant for Namjoon a readjustment of his daily routine now consisting of an iced Americano on the way to radio station he worked at, countless hours of sitting behind the mic and regaling deaf ears pretending he cared and returning to his empty four walls that kept laughing at him disgruntled, as if blaming him for all the bad in the world.

 

It isn’t that he hates his life, cause he doesn’t. Sometimes he’d just simply prefer to be dead instead. Whenever similar thoughts lodge themselves in his mind, he is promptly reminded  that the way he lives right now doesn’t vary that much from being a frigging corpse.

 

He’s on his way back home when he feels his phone buzz in the pocket of his sweatpants. It’s not like he has to wear something fancy, when going to work. After all it’s solely his voice that reaches the listener, not the greasy hair or dark half moons hanging under his eyes.

 

He plucks it out, noticing how the sky gets darker and darker, clouds hooding the last rays of sunshine. There’s something tranquil about the encompassing dusk, he thinks when he reads the text.

 

If anyone was paying him any attention the moment his eyes deciphered the meaning of the message, he’d for sure take him for a stature, frozen in time with a distorted grimace plastered on his face and a broken heartbeat permeating his shuddering bones.

 

He’s back.

Yoongi

 

After a year of silence, of disregarding the hole he dug in his chest, he dared to come back just like that. Just as if leaving him behind didn’t stop time from passing by. Finding out he’s back however somehow musters to disarray the perfect chaos Namjoon set up for himself, submerging in a bubble of familiarity, of numbness and frigidity.

 

Now he feels like all of the roots Jin has left behind after tearing out the amaranths adorning his skin were thriving once again; only that this time it it is one single daffodil blooming above the desert of what’s left.

 

His breaths stuck in his lungs making dizziness overcome him, but he doesn’t give up and induces his legs to stride forward. More than often he finds himself slamming into clueless passengers who  throw him annoyed looks he couldn’t care less about. He just wants to be home, in the affinity of his darkened bedroom that allows him to forget about the whole world for a moment.

 

He doesn’t know when or why, but the moment he enters the apartment and glances swiftly at the mirror in front of him, what welcomes him is a botched attempt to smile made by a broken man with eyes so desperate he starts to pity him himself.

 

Why are you back?

 

+++

 

Today’s the day, Jin thinks putting his shoes on. He messaged Namjoon exactly 45 hours and 14 minutes ago and he assumes he’s still a little bit surprised at the fact the other hasn’t changed his phone number for the last 12 months. Knowing Namjoon he expected him to cut all the ties linking him to the years they had spent together right after the breakup, but finding out he didn’t makes him even more confused. He didn’t dare to call him, too afraid of hearing his voice once again. He was always the one being susceptible to the overpowering of his own emotions.

 

He shakes his head vigorously in a frantic attempt to get rid of unwanted thoughts and plugs his phone and keys into the pocket of the black coat covering his broad shoulders. Some of the wayward strands stick to the drops of sweat on his forehead, but he simply ruffles them in order to hide all the traces of is nervousness.

 

He leaves the apartment with a quiet shut of the door and ventures out into the streets he knows by heart. He admires buildings littered with all types of advertisements and almost unnoticeable cracks on their facades, striding forward, never looking back. The branches of the trees above his head sway in an erratic rhythm and the familiarity of the hollering wind that brushes his reddened cheeks makes him accelerate his pace.

 

There was a time when he loved Seoul, but now he realizes it wasn’t the city he locked in his heart, but the person making all of its flaws appearing as the most beautiful of treats.

 

He wonders how things would’ve been if he hadn’t left back then, if he had fought for a little while longer, if he had tried… No, not again. He can’t go back to the same destructive thoughts that kept him hostage  in his bed during the first months in LA. Sure, he wanted to find a resort, a place where he could forget and mend his broken heart, but what happened instead were constant panic attacks imprisoning him in his own apartment and unstoppable waterfalls of tears flowing down his face.

 

Jimin and Hoseok, his best friends, tried to reach out, calling him everyday and leaving numerous messages on all of his social media, but being miles away there wasn’t much for them to do than watching his friend waste away. He loved them so much for not giving up on him, but he admits, there were times he just wanted to smash this block button and sink into misery he was already accustomed to.

 

After three months spent in bed he realized it’s not fair for him to be the only one in pain, so he build a thick wall around all of the memories he kept treasured in mind and opted to move on, to heal. Maybe getting drunk every night and waking up in a bedroom of a stranger couldn’t be considered a way of coping, but it helped him to turn into someone else for a swift moment, putting his mind at ease. All in all he really didn’t mind losing himself for a while.

 

First when the company he applied for threatened to abrogate his internship, he got a hold of himself. It wasn’t like the pain became any less numbing or the sleepless nights he spent clinging onto the only piece of clothes that belonged to Namjoon and trying to make out now almost undetectable fragrance that lingered onto the skin of the younger  bearable. No, it certainly wasn’t the case. But soon enough he found out there were other ways of distracting himself than getting pissed at the bars close to his apartment.

 

Somewhere around June, his eighth month in LA, his colleagues gave up on inviting him to hang out after work and accepted the fact that the life of Kim Seokjin couldn’t find enough space for something more than overworking himself to death and mourning over his lost love that sometimes felt maybe just a little bit too overwhelming for something that was deemed pointless and of no use.

 

In a blink of an eye he found himself facing the inevitable - going back. He didn’t know why his heart cracked at the mere thought of seeing the streets he knew so well or thats’s what he tried to persuade himself. The truth was all he saw wasn’t the always crowded sidewalks or shops and restaurants emanating warmth and familiarity. No. All his eyes could perceive were all the places where he and Namjoon made their firsts.

 

First kiss, first date, first hug, first smile directed straightly at him…

 

The knowledge the person he gave all of his firsts to isn’t going to be his last was incredulously excruciating.

 

And it hurt more than he dared to admit.

 

It still hurts.

 

He endeavors to get rid of the memories pestering his mind, but to no avail. He decides to accelerate to get it over with as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter whether he’ll encounter Namjoon now or in an hour. It will still break him. He was sure of it.

 

Before he realizes, he reaches the apartment block they used to live in together. Once he lifts his arm to ring at the door, he freezes no longer able to budge. He can’t do it. No, he won’t do it. How could he? How could he face the love of his life, the man he thought was his and his only. How could he look in his eyes and pretend as if the hole that had sucked him in didn’t turn him into a mess of unsaid truths and forgotten dreams.

 

He couldn’t…

 

Right then he hears his phone buzz once again.

 

Are you coming?

Joon

 

He guesses sometimes you just have to hand the gun to the killer in the hope he won’t aim for the head, even though right now Jin wishes he would.

 

+++

 

Namjoon doesn’t get an immediate response, but just when he starts panicking, because there’s no way Jin would willingly enter this apartment once again, he hears a quiet, almost tentative knock at the door. Fuck, it’s really happening. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

 

He runs his hand through his hair and makes his way to the door. He exhales deeply before finally opening it.

 

“Uhm… Hello I guess”, mutters Jin, his eyes wandering erratically in every direction that wouldn’t force him to face Namjoon. The younger takes his time as he surveys Jin comparing him with the man from his memories. There’s not a single thing they have incommon. The Jin from the past had eyes that were a home to the infinite galaxies, sparkling and dazzling no matter what time of the day. The Jin he had loved was athletic and kind, always in the mood to banter and steal a smile from him, because seeing him happy was one of the things that gave his life some sort of purpose.

 

The man in front of him is none of these things.

 

This Jin has dark circles under his eyes, his skin resembles rather a recycled piece of paper than the healthily puffy cheeks with a tinge of red adorning them whenever Namjoon directed at him one of his cheesy compliments. This Jin is broken and hopeless, devoid of any traces of emotions.

 

No, wait. If Namjoon isn’t mistaken, there’s an exiguous  spoor of fear hidden in the depth of his black orbs.

 

He feels like throwing up.

 

“Come in” is all he says.

 

Jin enters their - no, his apartment, Namjoon reminds himself. Something about the way Jin stands awkwardly in the living room they had shared together after all makes him feel sick.

 

He motions wordlessly for Jin to sit down on the couch they bought several months after moving in and follows him, choosing the furthest corner to plop down silently.

 

Nobody dares to break the stifling silence engulfing them in its tight embrace. Even though Namjoon feels like suffocating from all the things he should’ve said months ago, he can’t even coerce his lips to diverge in an attempt to voice them, to say nothing of even looking at the other male without a pang in his heart.

 

Instead, he focuses on the coffee table right in front of them and some of the pictures they got from Jimin and Hoseok for their second anniversary. Suddenly he misses the couple. He guesses that’s what breakups do to people - they don’t limit themselves to solely destroying the life of the pertained couple. Oh no. They reach every single person that has something to do with them and drown them in the ocean of misery, tearing them apart. One after another.

 

“So… Where’s my stuff?”, Jin utters finally. Namjoon’s heart sinks in his chest, but what the hell is he supposed to do? Plead for him to stay? For what?

 

“There.” Namjoon motions simply towards the box placed in the corner of the room. Jin stares in the pointed direction, his body stiff and eyes wide open. “Do you maybe…”

 

“I have to go”, Jin cuts him off all of a sudden and jerks up, grabbing the box and clinging to it, as if it was the last thing standing between him and losing his sanity.

 

Namjoon doesn’t have any idea what he expected, but he sure as hell is certain it wasn’t anything like this.

 

“In this case wait a second. I need to leave for work anyway.” He stands up, throwing Jin another bashful look. He dies a little inside when he recognizes a seeming discontent evident on the other’s face. Ignoring the stinging feeling in his chest he fetches the bag from his bedroom, his eyes narrowed and full of fear. What if Jin leaves before… Before what exactly? , he realizes. Within the next couple of minutes he’ll have to say his goodbyes to the love of his life. And there’s nothing he can do to prevent it from happening.

 

Back in the living room, he eyes the beautiful face of the other male, so unalike to the memory that has been stuck in his head for months now, and he marvels at how effortlessly gorgeous he is, with all of the flaws and little imperfections that decided to grace his pristine exterior, too allured by Jin’s beauty to restrain themselves.  

 

Even though they stand merely centimeters apart from one another, it feels like there’s oceans none of the words is capable of overbearing.

 

+++

 

It wasn’t Jin’s plan to barge in, collect all of his stuff and leave. It really wasn’t. When alternating between all the possible scenarios, he’s never imagined himself panicking and fighting the urge to cry just because seeing Namjoon for the first time ever since they ended things between them made him want to lunge at the other and never let go.

 

Never again.

 

Instead, both of them stand in front of the elevator, indulging the silence to spread its wings above their heads. Perhaps they’re cowards. Perhaps there’s a thousand words they should’ve said to each other, but in this moment even staring in the other’s direction fills them up with anxiety.

 

Jin escapes all of the madcap looks Namjoon throws at him whilst praying to all of the gods he knows for the elevator to arrive already, because he isn’t sure for how long he’ll be able to withhold the tears convening in the corners of his eyes.

 

One would’ve taken for granted one of them would give in eventually, allowing the words to cut through the silence, yet  nothing like this happens.

 

When the elevator finally arrives, they don’t spare a glance towards each other, Jin feeling the desperation well up in his chest at the sudden realization that this is it. A crude look thrown in each other’s direction altogether with all the unspoken truths emerging from their eyes.

 

He keeps his eyes peeled for any sign of remorse on Namjoon’s face, but the younger steps forward and enters the almost claustrophobically small room. Jin has no other choice than to follow. He sees Namjoon pushing the button on their right and straightening up, eyes lingering on the now closed door.

 

Because of the limited space they’re forced to stand next to each other, their arms brushing against one another. Jin senses a tingle crawling up his torso, the sensation so familiar it almost presses all the air out of his lungs.

 

In spite of oneself he reaches out, his fingers sprawled out ready to meet the soft skin of  Namjoon’s hand, but just when he prepares himself to succumb to the proximity of the other, the elevator stops all of a sudden sending an impulse that sends them in the air for less than a second. They look at each other surprised, confusion evident on both of their faces.

 

“What the hell?” Namjoon ponders walking closer to the wall with the buttons.

 

“What’s happening?” asks Jin, not expecting an answer. He sees the other pressing the emergency button, which results in a voice of a woman permeating the air. Namjoon explains the situation they found themselves in and listens attentively to the instructions given from the other side of the line. Truth be told Jin doesn’t catch any of the words, too immersed in his zipping thoughts to fret about the consequences of the occurrence.

 

Suddenly he hears Namjoon saying something he assumes was directed at him, so he cranes his neck and focuses on the other, taking in the worried eyes, now narrowed and eyeing him suspiciously. After spending most of their lives together, there truly wasn’t a part of Jin Namjoon hasn’t seen yet. He knew him - wholesomely and completely.

 

“It’s gonna be okay, you’ll see,” Namjoon whispers reaching out, his hand barely centimeters away, when he realizes he’s no longer allowed to touch Jin, not like that. He drops his arm, eyes searching for something Jin isn’t ready to show him.

 

Not yet, not now.

 

Maybe never.

 

“Did she say when will we be able to get out of here?”, he murmurs instead. Sorrow evident on Namjoon’s face makes his heart squeeze in pain.

 

“Within next 3 to 4 hours. Apparently there’s some accident requiring the intervention of most of their people.” Namjoon slides down the wall and plops down on the floor, in which direction he motions proposing Jin to follow him. “We’ll be fine.”

 

Jin’s too scared of how close they would be if seating side by side, so he sits leaning his shoulders on the wall opposite to Namjoon. He doesn’t miss the pained expression imprinted on the other’s face for less than a second.

 

He hates it.

 

Minutes pass, the silence amplifying each breath, each heartbeat bouncing off the walls. Jin doesn’t dare to gulp too afraid to remind Namjoon of his existence. He eyes the other instead, absorbing all the differences between the memory he has clung onto for the last couple of months. He’s hit with surprise, when he notices how skinnier the younger got, defined jawline so unalike the chubbier cheeks he remembers. Worry overcomes him, but there’s not really much he can do considering he was probably the one triggering the change in the male. Once gingerly styled hair loiters on his forehead, bangs greasy and way too long, so they end up hooding the eyes he fell in love with back then.

 

“You’re staring”, Namjoon sighs with a shade of a smile in the corners of his lips. Jin feels warmth spreading over his cheeks. Just when he opts to apologize, Namjoon stops him with a wave of his hand. “It’s okay… Considering the circumstances I shouldn’t be surprised.” There’s sadness stitched to his voice and Jin swears his heart falters in his chest.

 

However even though he wishes he could say something, anything at this point, there’s not a word deemed good enough, so he gives up. It’s not like he has ever done anything different than abandoning all the people he loved.

 

“You know what it reminds me of?” Jin narrows his eyes awaiting the continuation. “That one time, when we were still at high school and Yoongi locked us up in the gym, because you wouldn’t give him his water bottle back.” A nostalgic smile curves Namjoon’s lips and Jin isn’t sure anymore if spending these three hours in silence wasn’t a better option.

 

“He didn’t want to admit he had a thing with Taehyung, what the hell was I supposed to do”, he hums leaning his head against the wall. He cannot bring himself to look Namjoon in the eyes, so he decides staring absentmindedly at the ceiling might be better for him. There’s a crack in the left corner.

 

“Maybe something that didn’t require any unnecessary casualties, you know? I was innocent.” Jin snorts at that. “Don’t pretend you didn’t enjoy being hold a hostage with your boy-...” Only then he realizes what he said. He freezes, trudging with his eyes along the cracks. “Let’s just… not talk about the past, okay?”

 

Jin doesn’t expect an answer due to a short agreeing puff escaping Namjoon’s lips. That’s why he’s even more puzzled, once he hears the other clear his throat.

 

“Maybe that’s exactly what we should do.” Jin coerces his eyes to fall on Namjoon’s sunken face, making out some strange excitement exuded from the bottom of his eyes. “Don’t you think we haven’t talked for long enough already? I’m tired, Jin. I’m so tired of holding it inside.”

 

Jin purses his lips.


“I’m perfectly fine, Namjoon. Just let it be, alright? We just have to spend together these three hours and then you’re free to go. You can forget about me, about what we had, about everything”, he spits out the words frantically, his voice with a tinge of desperation that makes the grimace on Namjoon’s face soften. “I can’t just forget you”, the other deadpans. “It would mean I’d have to get rid of all of the memories I made so far. Fuck, we met in the primary school. There’s not a day that isn’t somehow related to you.”

 

“Then move on”, Jin strains shutting his eyes, too aware of the moisture conglomerating in the corners of his eyes. “Just live your life. It’s not like we haven’t ignored each other for the past two years.”

 

Namjoon freezes. Two?

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

Jin laughs without any sign of humor. “How would you call it then, huh? You stayed at the radio station for god knows how long doing god knows what and had the audacity to bash me for meeting with people instead of waiting alone until you felt like coming back home. Do you even recall one time we talked for longer than couple of minutes after having sex?”

 

Namjoon stills, his eyes wide and mouth slightly open. Surprisingly Jin doesn’t regret voicing his thoughts; he feels considerably lighter, as if the chains keeping him on the ground finally dissolved allowing him to spread his wings, breathe in the first epitome of freedom he’s ever had an access to in years.

 

“I… Of course we talked!”, Namjoon utters lifting his voice. “And tell me why was I supposed to come home, when every time I stepped foot in our apartment you were there with this Jungkook kid.”

 

Jin raises his eyebrows, exasperated.

 

“I can’t believe this. After all this time you’re still jealous of him? He’s Jimin’s step brother for god’s sake! He was about to apply for the same college I attended, so I just wanted to show him some support. How can you be this stupid?”, he bellows agitatedly. Fuck Namjoon, fuck this fucking elevator and fuck him for thinking this was a good idea. “Just admit you were looking for a reason to leave me. Being a saint you are I’m sure you didn’t want to be the one to end the things between us, didn’t you?”

 

At this point both of them stood up, sending murderous looks at each other. Jin feels the warmth of Namjoon’s body pressing against his pectoral, the younger just as roiling as him.

 

“Why the hell was I supposed to leave you, Jin? Just tell me the reason, since you seem to know all the fucking answers ahead of me”, he spits out and perhaps for the first time in his life Jin recognizes real pain in the other’s eyes. Pain so intense it’s impossible to not succumb to it.

 

“Have you ever loved me, Joon?”, he asks instead. He hates how his voice cracks at the familiarity of calling the other how he used to. Silence encompasses them with a heavy veil, hooding their vision and blurring each other’s faces. First after some time Jin realizes he’s crying.

 

A simple “Of course” is all Joon musters to quethe.

 

“Then why did you leave me?”, Jin whispers too scared of how his voice would sound like if uttered just a little bit louder as he clenches his fists. He integrates all of the pain, all of the anguish that overflows his heart in a desperate attempt of redirecting them towards the energy required to control the quivering of his muscles. “Why did you give up on us? You’re all I’ve got, even after all these years. I would never-”

 

“But you fucking did, Jin!”, Namjoon cuts him off stepping closer, so that Jin is forced to stumble backwards, his shoulder pressed against the wall. “You fucking did and you know it. Yes, we weren’t perfect, but do you know somebody who is? We loved each other, you were on my father’s funeral for fuck’s sake. I was ready to give you the moon if you’d only let me to. But you decided for the both of us, didn’t you?” Jin doesn’t care at this point, sobbing wholeheartedly as Namjoon shuts his eyes, not able to look at the other without feeling the pain overtaking each inch of his body.

 

“What was I supposed to do, Joon? Please enlighten me, cause I really have no fucking idea. Should I have waited for you longer, for both of us to drift apart even more than we already did?”

 

“There’s always hope”, Namjoon grouses, sending shivers down Jin’s spine. “We could’ve worked it out.”

 

“You were not there!”, Jin yells. “And even when you were, it felt like you couldn’t wait to go to work or to see Yoongi, just so you could come back home drunk and completely out of it.”

 

Namjoon dares to glance at him with sad eyes.

 

“I loved you, I… I still do”, he mutters almost inaudibly, voice shaken up. “I never stopped, Jin.”

 

There’s a warped grimace adorning Jin’s beautiful face.

 

“It’s too late. You know it’s fucking too late for this.”

 

Namjoon hums in agreement.

 

“I know.”

 

“Perhaps it was meant to be”, Jin says weakly, trying to convince both of them. “Perhaps”, Namjoon echoes.

 

It seems as if the walls surrounding them had soaked in all of the words, each sound their bodies made, so they wouldn’t forget that, despite what they think, they’re still breathing, not too dead to feel the taunting pain with every heartbeat escaping their chests. Whatever they’ve just said to each other the air washed away, leaving them vulnerable,  with bare emotions written all over their faces. Jin’s eyes are still red and puffy, he already senses the familiar sting he has grown so accustomed to within these twelve months spent in LA. His gaze travels from one wall to the other, too scared to allow himself to breach the spell engulfing them in a silence, in peace. He’s sure he saw Namjoon’s bottom lip quivering, a manifestation of sadness overtaking the other’s body, but he’s too much of a coward to attempt to span the distance between them, now just as far as as a tiny shadow of a ship breaking the horizon when scouted from the shore. Jin wonders, which one of them would embody the ship: Namjoon, because he was the one to leave first without finding the courage to admit it, or Jin, because he said out loud, what both of them knew already.

 

He closes his eyes, waiting for something. He just wants to cry in the conversance of his bedroom, ugly sobbs permeating the air no one else than him breathes in. But he couldn’t, he fucking couldn’t.

 

“Don’t cry, please,” Namjoon pleads, his voice conspicuously shaky as if fighting the urge to break down himself. Some tiny part of Jin wants exactly this - for the other’s heart to cave in, to let out a quiet whimper and hurt just as much as he did, still does. “Why do you even care?” Just when he hears the younger opening his mouth, he rumbles “Never mind. Let’s just sit and pretend we don’t know each other.”

 

Hearing this, they both are perfectly cognizant of the non-existence of the right words, so they sit down once again, each in one corner of the lift, and stare blankly at everything that doesn’t remind them of the past. Jin admits begrudgingly, the brimming strain between then was mostly his fault. Namjoon only tried to… To do what exactly? , Jin ponders, as he plays with with his fingers, distracting his uptight mind from the nagging compunction. He hurt Joon, he knows he did and yet, he can’t help but gingerly deny himself the right to acknowledge his wrongdoings. It’s not like he should care.

 

He does.

 

He so fucking does.

 

Frantically he tries to come up with something, anything really, to survive the next couple of hours without going completely mad, but the only thing that pops up is the vision of both of them having an actual conversation, free of the reminiscents of the heaviness tying them down to the chagrin that the present is etched with. Was he ready to forgive? Was he ready to move on?

 

Eventually, after what it feels like thousands of lost fights with himself, he jots a look at Namjoon, taking in his blank face, devoid of any emotions. It’s so unalike, almost like a countenance of a stranger. Maybe that’s what we end up being after neverending sweet nothings and  waterfalls of confessions being gone. Maybe, separated from the non-rational affection and blindening love filling us up like an ambrosia, we’re nothing but two bodies delving cluelessly in the expanse of the chaos the world is for just a little bit of love, of purpose.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jin whispers, his breathy voice cutting through the air, surprising both of them. Namjoon raises his head and tries to appraise the intention of the other, as reflected in the way his eyes roam all over Jin’s body, searching for any indications, any clues. “For what?”

 

“For making it sound like our past, what we had, doesn’t matter to me anymore.” Jin scoots over, so that he can face Namjoon without any hassle. “It does, I swear, it does, but…”

 

“It hurts, doesn’t it?,” the other says with an impish smile plastered on his face. Jin knows him well enough to discern there’s no grudge laced with his voice; Namjoon’s just pleased with the togetherness they still seem to share, after all this time.

 

“Sometimes more than less.”

 

When Namjoon smiles even brighter, displaying the pretty dimples Jin used to pinch at when he had been still allowed to, he feels his lungs caving in, all the oxygen fobbed off from his lungs.

 

“I liked what we had. I still consider it one of the best things that have ever happened to me,” Namjoon declares with incredulous seriousness imprinted on his face. “I mean it.”

 

“I know, me too.”

 

Jin picks at the loose strand of his sweater, gathering enough courage to ask what’s been haunting his mind ever since they fought. Maybe it seems too simple to just get over an argument and move on, not a thought spent on the words whipping his soul, more harmful than any physical anguish he can think of. And yet it’s okay. They are okay.

 

“Why did you leave, Joon?” This time his voice doesn’t shake. Moreover, it’s more vibrant and clear than ever. There’s no sign of accusation or annoyance, Namjoon notices relieved.

 

Jin tilts his head, as he hears Namjoon gulp heavily, probably searching for the right words, so none of them could get twisted and provide for further predicaments. The dim light casts soft waves of brightness on top of his forehead, as if they stayed underwater and the only way to breathe was through spitting out the words they were too scared to voice.

 

“Remember when you noticed me for the first time?” They remain silent for a while, until Jin realizes Joon expects him to react. Perplexed, he stares at him owlishly as he nods. “How could I forget?” he chuckles with a fondness. “You basically screamed out loud in front of the whole class that you had a crush on me.”

 

“I did. But it’s been so much more than just a crush, even back then. I liked your smile, I was so mesmerized by how untouchable you seemed to be despite so many insults thrown at you every now and then. As much as people were annoyed by it, I loved hearing your laughter.” Jin throws him a disapproving look at that. “Don’t look at me like that. It was somewhat annoying, but I liked it. I still do. And you know, that day Yoongi nagged at me, being his usual pain in the ass, because I was too scared to approach you, whilst everything I talked about was… well, you. I got so nervous that I just yelled at him.”

 

“You do know I sat literally two rows behind you, right? Even if you had whispered, I might’ve pick up on something,” Jin gushes, leaning his head against the wall, eyes stuck on the shiny buttons on the opposite wall.

 

“My younger self might have forgotten about this tiny, little detail.” Jin doesn’t have to look to know Namjoon’s eyes glistened with a heady fondness. Then, when he endeavoured to make a joke, he sees a change encompassing the other’s face, soft smile curving his lips and an eerie peacefulness to his eyes. “You asked if I’ve ever loved you.” Jin’s heart is about to combust. He’s nervous, he’s so eager to know, he’s all the things and yet none of them at the same time. “The moment you made fun of me in front of my friends and a damn teacher, I liked you. When you started leaving those crumpled piece of papers with the lamest of jokes written on them in my locker I adored you, but love… When it comes to falling in love with you, I do believe I haven’t really noticed when it happened or when the whole process began. I guess it was too easy to love you, actually, cause I can’t recall a day when I didn’t.”

 

When the words reach Jin, his eyes widen and all he can mull over is what the hell happened to them? They loved each other, the feelings too strong, too jarring, to let them dissipate with time, yet here the are - in a broken elevator, at the verge of tears; together and still more alone than they’ve ever been.

 

“Then what happened?”

 

Namjoon hums, deep in thoughts. “After our first date in our senior year I felt like the whole universum ceased to exist. Sometimes I caught myself believing we’re the only people that matter, as if everything was programmed for us to be happy. You were the first person I saw after waking up, just as the last one I said my goodbyes to before going to sleep. I guess that’s why when the others joined our small group of friends and you started to hang out with Jimin, Hoseok and Tae even more often, I became anxious; that maybe I was the only one feeling like we were made for each other.”

 

Jin furrowed his brow.

 

“But it’s been 5 years, Joonie. You can’t tell me some insecurities of your eighteen years old self caused us to fall apart in the end.”

 

“Maybe not directly,” Joon insits. “Somewhere around our second year together I noticed I had based all of my happiness, all of me really, on you. You were my fundament, my beginning and my end, my everything, Jin. But then I also realized, you weren’t like me. I wasn’t  the centre of your universe, you didn’t need me there to be happy. I loved that about you, you know?” Luckily, this time Namjoon doesn’t expect Jin to answer, cause his tongue felt heavy in his mouth, not allowing any words to escape. “I decided I can’t build my life on another person, so I tried to… Actually, as stupid as it sounds I have no idea what I was thinking, but back then distancing myself seemed like something I needed in order to find out who I was without you. Who was Namjoon without his friends and the love of his life by his side. I wanted to get to know him.”

 

“But you could’ve told me, Joon. This would spare us so much pain,” Jin laments shifting, so his left arm is now brushing against Namjoon clothed skin.

 

“Now I know I was wrong, at least when it comes to the execution of my plans. But I wholeheartedly believed that was the right thing to do. Soon enough I realized I started to feel lonely more often and even though you’ve always been the one I confide in, I stupidly assumed it would destroy all of the progress I made so far. So I found other ways to cope.”

 

Jin gasps for air, as the realization hits him.

 

“That’s how you started drinking, isn’t it?”

 

Namjoon nods silently, ready to continue, but Jin isn’t sure if he’s ready himself.

 

“That’s how I started drinking,” he repeats before he crane his neck, so he’s able to look Jin in the eyes. The same brown eyes, maybe a little bit sadder than the orbs he remembers, but eyes of someone he loves nevertheless. “Yoongi tried to get me out of this; his first thought was to let you know, cause he knew you’re the only one I’d listen to, but something about using you again just to get better, just to alleviate my own wounds, made me feel so useless. The self-hatred that had become such a huge part of my mindset induced me to confer it on you, so eventually I somehow made myself see in you the reason for all of my shortcomings. I loved you so fucking much, Jin. I swear I did, still do, and I’m not entirely sure if I’ll ever stop.” The silence that befalls is just like a bottomless precipice, alluring them with its promise of the nothingness consenting their feelings to ebb. It’s Namjoon to breaks it once more.  “Isn’t it weird, I don’t even make an attempt to move on?”

 

Jin shakes his head vigorously.

 

“Not at all. It’s not like I’ve been any better than you.” He laughs gleefully at the mere thought. “After all I was the one who runned away, wasn’t I?”

 

“I guess you were.”

 

It’s nice to acknowledge things as they are, without maintaining the semblance of indifference, while all he wants is to say out loud what has been threatening to smother him for way too long.

 

Jin reaches out, his hand shaking seemingly as he nears Namjoon’s arm. Suddenly the dimness of the room disturbs him as it masks all of the signs he’s searching for on the other’s face. He’s scared, so fucking scared of doing the wrong thing, of ruining the fragile conformity they found in each other. He can’t lose it, not again.

 

Just when he’s ready to recoil, he feels Namjoon gripping his hand and squeezing it gently. Jin can’t help himself but to intertwine their fingers, holding onto each other desperately as if afraid of the other to disappear the moment they’d let go.

 

“I’m sorry I ended it like it wouldn’t matter at all.”

 

Namjoon glances at their hands, skin brushing against skin, the familiar warmth of the other making his chest swell with a feeling he’s never expected to discern once again. He likes how easy it is, to forget about the past, how effortlessly he can put all of his regrets aside and focus solely on the man in front of him. On the love he conveys with every single heartbeat that resonates inside his chest, each sound resembling a timid melody calling out for Jin, for him to recognize the suffocating yarring etched to it.

 

“I understand.”

 

And somehow they both knew there’s nothing left to be said. The words, they both gingerly kept bottled up inside their minds, dissolved into something new - a crooked feeling of insecurity filling up their hearts. The brimming trepidation gone, allowing them to breathe, to live. For the first time ever since they broke up the vividness of their own bodies isn’t deemed a cruel irony laughing at the lifelessness of their hearts. For the first time they feel; they feel everything at once.

 

It’s scary, but somehow, having Jin’s hand in his, the eyes of the man he loves with all of his being looking at him as if he offered him the whole galaxy in a form of a shy smile and fingers rubbing against the bottom of the other’s hand, he’s not so scared anymore.

 

Cause maybe, for the first time in the history of the mankind, a soul mastered to recognize its soulmate in disguise of a stranger.