The hot sun hits my face as I step outside of my parents’ house for the first time today. Yesterday I arrived home from college and today I start my summer job at the new Jamba Juice on the pier. It’s weird that they’ve added a new shop because this town is in love with its old buildings and mom and pop shops. I’m just glad I didn’t draw janitorial duties like I did last year.
Since high school I’ve worked at the Jameson Pier every summer. They ask you to put in applications and the most qualified get the best jobs and people like me usually get stuck with low end jobs. I just finished my sophomore year of college and while I have some skills, they aren’t ones that can be translated to working here. Unless they let me perform but that would never happen. As I begin the hot ten minute walk from my house to the pier I think about what I want to do this summer.
I want to spend time with my best friends that I haven’t seen this year very much. I chose to attend a prestigious arts school three thousand miles away from home while my friends stayed together close to home. I will admit this has put strain on our friendship, but we’ve known each other for so long I don’t think we could ever stop being friends. I want to have a summer of fun with no worries. A summer where I find love and happiness. But if I didn’t find love in this town in the first 20 years of my life why would I find it this summer? Wow that was a little corny. I’m getting on my own nerves.
The pier looks just as I remember pastel colored shops and carnival games scattered between hundreds of people sweating in the hot sun hoping to ride one of the various metal contraptions I’m glad I’m not doing maintenance for. The purple metal of the Ferris Wheel is gleaming, and I can’t wait to ride it during sunset.
For as long as I can remember I’ve ridden the Ferris Wheel every clear day that I could. It’s a tradition that once I get off work, I’d go straight over there where I ride it once. Anyone who works at the Jameson Pier rides for free all summer and I definitely take advantage of that. A lot of my summer nights are spent riding the same rides with my friends and seeing how many prizes we can win for random children visiting our hometown.
“Jungkookie?” I hear being called in front of me and look around until I look eyes with my best friend, Taehyung Kim.
His black hair is pushed off his forehead, a look I previously haven’t seen on him. Not going to lie he looks really hot. Jin must have been making him workout more as well because he looks a lot more muscular than the last time I saw him. He looks so happy and I’m glad to be home with my friends.
“Tae!” I run forward as I yell his name throwing my arms around his shoulders. “I’ve missed you so much.”
We hug for a little longer than appropriate, but hey that’s our relationship. Inappropriate. When we were in high school, we decided to date and that relationship lasted for a full two years before we decided to just be friends. Since we broke up nearly three years ago, we’ve had the occasionally hook up with each other and, yes, we know it’s not healthy. I can’t help myself he’s pretty and knows how to use what he has. Sometimes I think Taehyung wishes we could be a couple again, but I don’t want that with him. His friendship is worth more to me than our relationship ever was. He isn’t my soulmate at least not that kind of soulmate.
I turn to my other friends Seokjin Kim, or as we called him Jin, and Jimin Park and they hug me at the same time ruffling my hair as they tell me they’ve missed me. I’ve missed these boys so much and I can’t wait for the mischief we are surely going to cause this summer.
“Where are you working this year?” Jin asks leading us towards a shaded area so he doesn’t burn his precious skin. His skin already looks darker than the last time I saw him during spring break. He must have spent time in the sun last week while I was finishing my finals. Everyone else has been home for nearly a week already but my stupid music school had finals a week after literally every other college in the country. In my colleges defense we did start later than everyone as well.
“The new Jamba Juice. I never expected that they would put a big company like that on the pier it’s so weird.” I say sitting under the tree Jin has led us towards. “What are you guys doing?”
“Tae worked all year so he could have an easy summer and my parents are funding my adventures this summer since I made Dean’s List all year.” Jimin says sweeping a hand through his soft black hair. I’m glad he decided to let his hair grow out again, it was getting so unhealthy from his constant changes. Smarty pants Jimin getting straight A’s while I’m out here not knowing if I even managed to pass my music composition class.
“I’m working security for the performers.” Jin says excitement easily noticeable in his tone. The pier will have mildly successful artist perform here because that’s all they can afford usually. A few that we are fans of have performed here and it’s always really cool to have a beach view concert. It’s helped a few people get more widely know since we do have a ton of tourists here.
We banter for a few more minutes before I have to head into work. All I want to do right now is sit with my friends and talk about all the stuff I’ve missed since I last saw them, but I can’t. I have to make money, so I won’t starve next year. Half of each my paychecks is going into a savings account. I may have a full scholarship but living out there is extremely expensive.
I walk through the glass door of the building I will be working in for the next few months and the sound of a bell chimes through the air. Everything about this place is weird and doesn’t fit in with the theme of the pier. It’s not a booth like everything else. This is a proper building with like air conditioning and all the works. I don’t see any employees or customers and I’m suddenly wondering if I was given the wrong building number. I hear footsteps coming from the back and someone says,
“Hi you must be my co-worker I’m-“ He stops when he sees my face and the bright smile that was there a moment ago fades, “I’m Namjoon Kim.”
“I know who you are.” I say bitterly, walking to the back to find the apron and nametag for me.
Namjoon Kim and I have gone to school together our entire lives until he graduated high school. He’s a year my senior and is incredibly smart, talented and unfairly handsome. He got into three ivy league schools and every other school he applied too. We’ve always seemed to have it out for each other, but something that happened the summer before my freshman year made it worse. To add to that I guess I find it annoying how he always strives to be so perfect and well put together. He used to rap when we were younger and that made me mad because music is my thing and he’s better at it than me. Namjoon isn’t even pursuing it, he’s a freaking political science and history double major. What kind of fucking nerd do you have to be to choose those? Of all the people from my high school that I don’t like why did I have to be paired with him? Why don’t they have him leading a tour about historical monuments or crabs or something?
“I’ve already been here for a week, so our manager asked me to train you.” He says not meeting my eyes and talking with a lot less emotion than I’ve heard in his voice before. His stupid perfect hair is a light pink and it makes me mad that this color can look so good on someone. I’d probably look like a drugged-out barbie doll if I tried that but here is looking like an angel, when I know that he’s not. Disgusting.
Over the next hour he shows me how to use all the machines while talking to me as little as humanly possible. I’m really interested in why he’s treating me this way when I’ve never seen or heard him to talk to anyone else like this. Everyone I’ve ever complained to about Namjoon Kim tells me how kind, respectful and understanding he is. Maybe he is just throwing back the vibes I’m giving to him. I don’t like him and I don’t think he’s a good person.
We open the store soon after he deems my training is complete and I roll my eyes. I assumed this store wouldn’t get a lot of foot traffic because it isn’t like most of the shops here, but people seem to love it. We are busy for about an hour before things slow down and my friend Jimin shows up.
“Jimin!” Namjoon says brightly smiling widely to show off his stupid perfect teeth. I didn’t know Jimin was friends with him. When did this happen? Why wasn’t I informed? They know how I feel about him. Then again Jimin does have a weakness for tall pretty boys. He used to have a crush on me for some reason, I think he got over it when they finally realized me and Taehyung were dating. “What can I get you?”
Jimin orders a drink and Namjoon sends me off to make it while he talks to my best friend. Namjoon leans his elbow on the counter resting his chin in his hand as he looks in Jimin’s eyes. They are talking about school. Jimin is fascinated with the idea of an Ivy League school. If he’d spent a little less time screwing around with me and Tae, and Jin in high school he may have been accepted, but he wanted to have a good time with his friends. I think he has a similar mentality now, after all he did choose to go to a state school with the boys over a few better options. I don’t really think it matters where someone goes to college but it’s something people talk about so much here.
“Kook, Hoseok is having a bonfire later and he invited us. Do you want to go?” Jimin asks me once I’ve handed him his smoothie. I can already tell if I don’t say yes, he is going to use his pout face on me and lord knows no one can say no to that. Really, I’m not sure how I ended up with friends who are such good manipulators. I stand no chance against any of them. Maybe it’s just my gay panic. They are unfairly pretty. I’m not sure why a bisexual ass mess like myself would have made friends with them. I’m surprised I can even speak to them. Maybe it’s because I met them before I realized I also like boys.
“It depends how tired I am after my shift. I’ll probably go home for a bit then come back down and check it out.” I say and he gives me his cutest smile, one where he crinkles his face up. He looks like a cherub.
“Joonie are you coming? Hobi said you sounded like you didn’t want to.” I turn away from their conversation and start cleaning the blender that I just used to make his smoothie. I don’t really want to go if he is going to be there. It’s bad enough standing next to him for hours on end.
Hoseok’s bonfires do tend to have a lot of people so it might be bearable. I know Taehyung will drag me out if try to say no. They haven’t seen me in months, and they love nothing more than ‘getting baby Kook’ drunk. Apparently, I’m really funny or something. I do want to spend time with my best friends. I miss them more than anything and it’s hard to feel included all the time when I’m 3,000 miles away. Today on how many times can Jungkook think about how much he missed his best friends.
“I’ll come get you at ten if you aren’t already back on the pier.” Jimin says several minutes later before he walks out leaving Namjoon and I alone in silence again. I scroll through twitter on my phone trying to find something interesting instead of another beach picture of my best friend. I tweet about how boring work is and how my ‘annoying’ co-worker isn’t speaking to me.
My shift ends without any mishaps and then I’m bolting out of the door towards the Ferris wheel so I can ride it as the sun sets. Taehyung is standing at the bottom waiting for me and my heart feels a little constricted as I remember how many times he’s waited like this for me. Every summer night that we dated he would wait right here to ride with me at sunset. We’d snuggle in the seat and kiss at the top, we were truly disgusting. I’m glad my first love is still my best friend.
Tae starts telling me about his day as I show Beomgyu, the operator of the ride, my worker’s pass. He nods his head and we settle into our seat. Beomgyu makes sure we are properly strapped in before he steps away. I start complaining about Namjoon and Taehyung rolls his eyes like he does every time I mention him. He is under the impression that just because I happen to think Namjoon is attractive that I must be in love with him. I think this stems from Tae wanting to have a more tangible than we are just better as friends. I don’t think he’d say no if I asked him to kiss me right now. He knows what happened. Everyone knows what happened and no one thinks its as weird as I do.
“Joon is really not that bad. It’s not a big deal, we’ve been over this. Beside I think it’s mostly jealously on both ends.” I smack his shoulder when he finishes his sentence. I knew this bitch was dumb, but not this dumb. Namjoon has nothing to be jealous of he’s mister perfect. Perfect face, college, family, friends and life. I ignore what he’s just said looking out on the horizon as we reach the peak of the wheel. I take a few photos for Instagram and post one to my snapchat story with some text that says: Missed you JP!
“Are you going to get drunk with me tonight, TaeTae?” I whisper leaning closer to his ear to see if I can get some kind of reaction out of him, after I’ve put my phone away. He starts in surprise and I giggle. I only have this kind of confidence with Taehyung. I’m so comfortable with him that I can say anything. He might judge me but we don’t get embarrassed around each other often anymore.
“Of course, I bought our favorite in preparation for your first party back.” He says showing me his boxy smile. I’m so lucky to have friends like Taehyung. We’ve done things best friends should never do yet we can sit here and tease each other like nothing ever happened. “Are you going to sing for us again?”
He asks this because during our spring break adventures I was a lot not sober and started singing them a song I wrote apparently. They took a video of it, and I had never heard the song before. I used it for my final, so hopefully I pass. You know I’m not creative enough when I have to use a song I made up when I was intoxicated for my half way final. I can’t believe I’m already half done with college. It’s a little insane that I’ll be a junior in just a few months.
Taehyung drags me around to ride ever ride we are allowed on then we sit down for chili dogs. I stare at him for a moment as he shoves a too big bite in his mouth and almost starts choking. He really needs to learn to take things like that better. Honestly, he is baby. He needs a daddy and not even in the kinky way. I’m surprised he’s survived this long.
“I can’t believe all of you are still single.” I say after I’m sure he’s not going to die on me. “Don’t people usually find the love of their life in college or some shit?”
“I don’t think you have any room to talk, Kook.” He says with an evil smile on his face. I mean he’s not wrong. I am just as single as they are. “Jimin was seeing someone for a little while, but it didn’t pan out well. I think he likes Yoongi Min, that kid that was a year above us from the school across town. I think he raps.”
Namjoon’s best friend. Why is the universe trying to cross our paths? It’s bad enough we work together and go to school on the same side of the country. I try to push the thought out of my mind but all I can think about is his stupid pink hair. The shaved sides that I wish I could pull off so desperately. His stupid plump lips that stretch into his kind smile as he greets customers. I wonder what else those lips could do…
“I need to get drunk like right now.” I mutter looking down at my hands that are folded on the table. Taehyung looks at me like a confused puppy and I sigh. “Let’s go to my house so I can change.”
We clean up the area where we were eating and start walking back to my house. Taehyung starts animatedly telling me this story about how he finished a paper after partying all night and how he was sure he was going to fail. To be honest he has a lot of stories like this. He’s not the best at time management. He will go to the ends of the earth to procrastinate. One time in high school he knitted me socks instead of studying for our history final. I’m not sure how he passed that test to be honest, but I wish I could do that and not fail.
“I’ll meet you back here in like ten minutes.” Tae says when we get to the door. He swoops in to peck his lips to my check and I give him a dirty look as he runs towards his house.
“We agreed not to do that!” I yell with no purpose. He never listens to me and it’s fucking annoying, but he’s my best friend. I don’t really mind that he does it, but I know he still has feelings for me even if it’s been years. He told me on spring break that he’d wait a thousand years to have a second chance with me. We were drunk I told him to stop being so dumb. That’s not what I want. I know it hurts him and that’s the last thing I want, but I have to look out for myself.
I walk inside and my mother asks me how my day was. I tell her that it was okay and that I’m heading to the beach to hang out with my friends. She tells me to be safe and with a kiss of my forehead she lets me go to my room. If I’m successful in school and somewhat successful in the rest of my life my parents tend not to intervene much. I am a grown ass man now I suppose so it makes sense.
My room is a mess so finding anything decent to wear might be a challenge. I haven’t unpacked my bags yet and am definitely not looking forward to having to do that. I say something decent like I don’t primarily wear plain black or white shirts and jeans constantly. I find a pair of jeans in my suitcase that don’t smell too dirty and quickly change into them. I opt for an oversized hoodie from my college and suddenly I’m bonfire ready. I make sure I have everything I need before rushing out the door. The last thing I need is for my parents to stop me from going. This is a rare time that they might because I haven’t been home in months and they might want ‘family time.’
Jimin is waiting on my front steps with Jin and Taehyung and they look ready to go. Jin is holding a blanket for us to sit on and I’m sure Tae has our drinks in his backpack poured into our water bottles. When we were in high school, we bought engraved water bottles with our names on them so we wouldn’t lose them when we filled them with alcohol at parties. It’s tradition even if we don’t really need to hide anymore.
“Let’s get it!” I say jumping on Jin’s back. He lets me hang there for a moment before he throws me off. Everyone laughs and we start walking towards the beach. It’s fortunate that we live in the same neighborhood not very far from the beach. We never have to worry about a designated driver. Though, it was harder to lie to our parents when we were in high school.
“So…Jimin told us that you are working with Namjoon Kim?” Jin says with a weird kind of smile on his face. “Didn’t you used to call him your ‘worst enemy’?”
“Why do you guys hate me so much?” I ask crossing my arms a puffing my cheeks into a pout.
“He and I have never gotten along. You know what I think and yet you keep bringing this up.”
“Seriously, it’s been years give it up-“ Jin slaps Taehyung across the head and I wonder what else he was going to say. Probably the same old shit about how it wasn’t Namjoon’s fault, there was nothing he could have done and that he’s so nice and kind.
It’s about ten by the time we arrive at the bonfire and not a lot of people are here yet. Other than us there is probably five people, which is very unlike Hoseok’s normal bonfires. It is still early. Taehyung hands each of us our water bottles and I walk away as I take a swig. I walk to the other side of the fire were Hobi is sitting next to Yoongi. Namjoon is sitting nearby his features illuminated by his phone.
“Hoseok! I haven’t seen you in ages. How are you?” I say sitting near him with my back to the fire. My friends quickly join us forming a lopsided circle.
There is lots of catching up and slowly more people start coming and Jin takes over DJ duties. There are tons of people here now mostly people who we went to high school with that are home for the summer. I’ve drunken almost my whole water bottle of tequila and I am more than a little drunk. Jimin is sitting beside me on the blanket that Jin brought, but he’s talking to Yoongi Min. I poke him in the side and looks over to me.
“Kook are you okay?” He asks putting a hand on my shoulder. He scans my face with his pretty eyes before determining that I’m okay. He turns back to talk to Yoongi and I cross my arms and pout. Not even Taehyung is paying attention to me. Why did they ask me to come if they were just going to leave me? Rude ass bitches I should-
“A-are you okay? You look upset.” Someone says from behind me and crane my neck back to see the eyes of an angel looking at me cautiously like I might explode at any moment.
“Why do you care Mr. Perfect ass everything Namjoon Kim?” I say throwing my arm up to point at him. I fall on to my back and a giggle bubbles from his lips. Even his laugh is cute. This is some bullshit. Why are the cute ones always bad?
“I’d rather not have one of Hobi’s friends puking everywhere even if we are on the beach.” He says kneeling beside. I think this has to be the most words he’s ever said to me that didn’t involve work or school. The sound of his voice is clear but soft and gentle at the same time. He’s wearing a black baseball cap, a hoodie from his college, skinny jeans and a long coat over it all. Namjoon is dressed like it’s not still sixty degrees outside.
“I’m the strongest baby boy out here. I don’t need you to worry about me.” I say sweeping my hair out of my eyes as I finally sit up. Namjoon sits down and laughs loudly drawing some attention towards him. I scoot away from him looking up at him with a mean face.
“Did you just call yourself baby boy?” Namjoon asks with an expression that is somewhere between ‘wow this guy is a real idiot’ and ‘he’s an adorable idiot.’
“I’m baby.” I say puffing my cheeks out as I pout my lips. A song I don’t know starts playing so I get up shakily and start dancing with the nearest person that isn’t Namjoon or Jimin. I don’t recognize them, and my drunk ass doesn’t care. If I do something stupid that I don’t remember that’s future Jungkook’s problem not mine.