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All of This is Not Coincidence

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Jeon Jungkook would rate himself a solid 8/10. One point was taken off for not having reached his full potential yet. In everything he did, there was still room for improvement — he could still run a little faster, jump a little higher, and lift a little heavier. The other point was taken off for not being the easiest person to live with. This was a fact stated not by Jungkook himself, but by his roommate, V.

According to V, who Jungkook would mostly regard as his best friend but sometimes as his part-time mother, Jungkook had many undesirable traits. The most frequently mentioned were his (alleged) inability to clean up after himself, lack of an actual sleep schedule, extensive eating, and chronic blindness to disorder and unkemptness.

He was reminded of this when V came home from a few days at his internship, and threw one of the worst hissy fits Jungkook had heard from him so far.

“God dammit , Jungkook, I told you Namjoon was coming over today! Honestly, I don’t understand how you can live like this, wading around in your own shit —”

Jungkook didn’t protest, though he very well could have. V wasn’t perfect, either.

“— but most of all, I just don’t see how you can ever expect someone to be comfortable living with you when you keep doing this to your surroundings. How did you manage to trash this place up so bad in under a week? Did you have a frat party?” His hands were in his hair.

Jungkook braved speaking. “You know I don’t throw parties.”

V laughed bitterly. “Yeah, I know. You just crash them, find someone pretty, and leave without even speaking to your friends.” He caught sight of something, and took a few steps, leaning down to pick it up. “Seriously, the flowers go in the pot. How is this so difficult for you?”

It was a challenge not to talk back. Jungkook was getting grumpier by the second. He couldn’t understand why V was still bitching about that party, which was two months ago; he knew very well that Jungkook didn’t waste his time getting drunk unless it was for a purpose.

V glanced up at him again, looking exasperated. “Did you even go to school this week?”

Jungkook looked down. He had the decency to be a little ashamed at that.

“I frankly don’t understand what you’re even doing at college. You pay money to be here, and you don’t even go to class?”

“Hey, just because I don’t conform to your work methods, doesn’t mean I’m not learning anything,” Jungkook finally spoke up.

V raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? Worked a lot in my absence, have you? Or have you been playing video games, telling yourself you might go pro one day?”

Jungkook licked his lips, probably looking very annoyed, and didn’t reply.

“That’s what I thought.”

“I’m doing fine in all my classes,” Jungkook said petulantly.

“Yeah, well maybe it’s not just about doing ‘fine’, Kookie. You’re not even trying. Sure, your grades are OK, but are you as good as you could be? This is your job we’re talking about, and you can’t care enough to even open a book.” V took a step closer, shoulders relaxing and the animosity bleeding out of him. “I’m not saying this to be cruel. I just think you might regret it down the line, and I don’t want that to happen. I worry about you, you know?”

The guilt sat heavy at the bottom of his gut, and Jungkook avoided V’s pleading eyes.

“I graduate in less than 5 months, and then you’ll be on your own. You barely go out unless I drag you with me. You don’t speak to anyone besides me, Hoseok, and Jin, and even then you barely say anything. When was the last time you spoke to someone in person?”

“I’ll be alright, Tae. You know I will.”

“Do I?”

Jungkook looked up at him. His brows were knitted, and his mouth was set in a hard line, turning down at the ends.

“I’m a grown man, I can take care of myself. I don’t need you to babysit me.”

V shook his head. “Fine. If you say so. I just wish you’d socialize more. No one’s better off alone.” Sighing, V took a moment to calm himself before he continued. “Just clean up before Namjoon gets here, OK? And for the love of God, take a shower.” He left, closing the door to his room a little harder than necessary.

Jungkook took a deep breath, swallowing all his angry words, and then started picking up things. Though he didn’t want to admit it, there was a lot of dirty laundry, and even more trash; empty bags of chips, cans, takeout containers, tissues, dried out contacts, crumpled papers, and the occasional piece of food. He couldn’t deny that it was a little disgusting. The roses had wilted slightly where they lay, knocked out of their vase, the water forming a small puddle on the carpet, probably collateral damage from one of his Just Dance sessions.

As he turned off the PlayStation, realizing he wouldn’t go back to playing anytime soon, his phone buzzed. It was a text from Hobi, asking if he had checked his inbox today. Jungkook shot a quick reply simply stating ‘no’, and managed to throw away some more trash before Hobi’s next text. It was a link to a video. Jungkook sat down to watch it. Leaning back, he scratched at his hair, frowning when he could feel how greasy and dirty it was, then focused back on the three minutes of cats doing silly things.

 

Namjoon arrived before he was finished. V let him in the front door, and didn’t even bother with scolding Jungkook, settling for looking disappointed instead. Namjoon stepped in, smiling, and said ‘hi’ to Jungkook.

Jungkook mumbled a response, and continued scrubbing at a resilient spot of strawberry jam on the floor.

“Sorry about the mess,” V stated, looking pointedly at Jungkook, who chose to ignore him.

“That’s totally fine. If you think this is bad, I’m glad we’re not at my place.”

V laughed at that. “I’m just gonna go and get my books,” he stated and went into his room.

Namjoon walked over, leaning against the kitchen counter a few feet away. “How’s it going?”

“Alright,” Jungkook replied, not inviting to more conversation. Namjoon was a cool guy, but Jungkook didn’t find himself in a talkative mood.

“Living up the bachelor life?”

Jungkook stopped scrubbing and looked up. “How so?”

Namjoon gestured out to the room in general, laughing a little. “I mean, it could use a woman’s touch.”

“That’s sexist,” Jungkook replied, going back to the stain. He saw Namjoon nodding at the edge of his eye.

“You’re right, it really is. I’m sorry, I didn’t think.”

V returned, and sat down at the coffee table, where Jungkook had already cleaned. He and Namjoon started up a conversation in English; Namjoon speaking slowly and clearly, repeating himself, and V stuttering out replies. Jungkook listened with half an ear, trying to make sense of it. Maybe he should try speaking lessons, too. He could read and write alright, but speaking always made him uncomfortable.

Checking his phone, he saw that it was getting late. “Hey, I’m gonna head out, I have that class with Jin in not too long. I’ll finish when I get back,” Jungkook said to V, heading for the hallway.

“OK,” V replied. “Tell him hi from me!”



It was only mid-September, but it was already cold outside. Jungkook walked as quickly as he could, and arrived 15 minutes too early. He sat on the floor next to the classroom door, hunched over his phone while waiting for Jin.

“Hey, Kookie! Are you ready to get your macramé on?” Jin grinned down at him, reaching out a hand to help him up.

“I’m always ready,” Jungkook replied easily as he was pulled to his feet.

They went inside to find their seats; threads and beads were already laid out on the tables.

When the instructor had finished his demonstration, and they all had some half-started pieces in their hands, Jin looked at him, smiling smugly.

“What?” Jungkook asked, suspicious.

“Do your socks have any holes in them?” Jin’s mouth was twitching.

“Uh, yeah, a couple. Why?”

“That explains how you got your feet into them,” Jin said, then started laughing.

Jungkook snorted. “That one wasn’t half bad.”

“Are you saying my jokes are usually bad?”

Jungkook grinned at him, but didn’t answer.

“Wanna hear another one?”

“Sure,” Jungkook agreed, looking up at the illustrations on the projection screen, trying to figure out how to proceed with the knots on his macramé.

“What did the bra say to the hat?”

Jungkook raised an eyebrow at him. “…what?”

“You go on a head, I’ll give these two a lift!” Jin burst into laughter, and Jungkook couldn’t help but chuckle.

Jin’s laughter faded as he concentrated on his macramé, folding the threads neatly in over themselves. Jungkook took a moment to watch his hands, feeling some jealousy over the ease with which they recreated the steps on the illustrations.

“So,” Jin started, “how are things? Tae came home today, didn’t he?”

Jungkook sighed. “Yeah, he sure did.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Jungkook shook his head, trying not to get annoyed. “It means he gave me an earful for not keeping our apartment immaculate in his absence.”

Jin laughed again. “Trouble in paradise?”

“You bet,” Jungkook replied. “The worst part is, he finished the tirade with complaining about how I’m never gonna get a girlfriend when I act like I do.”

“He said that?” Jin asked, sounding surprised.

“Well, not exactly, but he said something about how no one would be comfortable living with me. He’s constantly on me about not socializing enough, and telling me to clean up, to go to parties, to invest in someone other than myself —”

Jin stopped his braiding, looking at Jungkook with a raised eyebrow.

“What?” Jungkook asked.

“He has a point, you know.”

Jungkook frowned. “You’re supposed to be on my side, here. V’s the one being unreasonable.”

Jin continued braiding. “I think you’re both being unreasonable.”

“Are you for real?” Jungkook put down his macramé entirely, staring at Jin in disbelief.

“Look, Tae’s an anxious lovable idiot who cares too much about everyone around him, but refuses to just tell them so. You’re a selfish ass who’s so set on being the best that you won’t commit to anything, instead cycling through workshop after workshop with a guy who’s 5 years older, because he challenges you enough to keep you improving. Tae cares too much, you care too little. It’s bound to implode.”

For some reason, Jungkook’s stomach clenched. Momentarily he was worried he might be ill, but it passed after a moment. Shaking off the uneasy feeling, he looked at Jin, who was still focused on what his hands were doing.

“I’m not saying you can’t be friends, I’m just saying you need to start compromising. People are like macramé, you know? You have to treat them gently, and with care. You can’t force them to do what you want; you have to learn what they’re like, what they’re capable of, and what they need from you. You can’t expect them to be there for you, sacrificing something of their own, if you’re not willing to give back.”

“That comparison made absolutely zero sense,” Jungkook complained.

Jin shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. Just look at the way you’re treating yours; you know nothing about how to handle it, so you use brute force, and you end up with a tight knot, which is nothing like what you want. If you apply some gentle care and a whole lot of patience, you might find the results to be entirely different.”

Jungkook didn’t reply, instead looking between his macramé, and Jin’s. There was an obvious difference in skill, Jin succeeding in making it even and beautiful with his deft fingers and a good understanding of patterns, but even so, his own frustration was clearly visible in the attempt he’d made. It had gotten tighter and tighter as he’d carried on, and the rope was frayed in places.

He didn’t quite see how that connected with Jin’s claim that people were like macramé, but then again, half of the things Jin said made little to no sense.

“I know your stance on relationships, Jungkook, and I also know self-realization is numero uno on your agenda. That’s just who you are. But sometimes, maybe it would be worthwhile to put something else ahead of that. You might be surprised.”

Jungkook didn’t reply.

Jin looked at him, and sighed. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I don’t care, because I need to say it. I don’t think you can go through life all by yourself. It might be alright in the beginning, but a few years down the line, it’s going to get lonely. You’ll be looking at all your friends, who are busy with their wives and children, and you’ll regret the choices you made way back when.”

“Sounds like you’re speaking from experience,” Jungkook said evenly.

“Maybe I am,” Jin nodded.

Jungkook paused for a bit, weighing his words. “I trust what you’re saying is true for you, Jin, but we’re not the same person,” he started. “Maybe you need someone around you to be happy, I know V certainly does, but I don’t. I mean, I like having friends, but I don’t need anyone. I’m fine on my own.”

Jin frowned. “That’s hurtful.”

Jungkook held back a sigh. “You know that’s not what I meant. I’m happy I have you as a friend, and I’m happy I have V, and Hobi too; I’m just saying I wouldn’t die of loneliness. V is wasting all this energy being concerned about what’s gonna happen to me, and he refuses to listen to me when I tell him that it’s gonna be alright.”

Jin nodded, looking a little displeased, but apparently choosing not to comment on it. “Want me to help you out?” He asked eventually, nodding at Jungkook’s attempted braid.

“No thank you, I’d like to complete it on my own,” Jungkook replied, trying to sound neutral despite knowing he was rejecting Jin’s peace offering. He really did want to do it by himself, because that was the way he would learn the most.

“Asking for help isn’t a defeat,” Jin said in a friendly tone of voice.

“I know.”



On his way home, Jungkook thought it must have gotten colder outside. Even through his scarf, there was a gust of wind creeping alongside his neck, making him shiver.

Well home, he made himself a cup of tea. He wasn’t a big tea drinker, but V always kept some in the kitchen cabinet, and he thought it was a good way to get warm again.

Namjoon and V were still practicing English. Jungkook didn’t feel like hanging out around them, so he went in his room instead. Lying in bed, looking at the steaming mug on his desk, he found that he mostly just wanted to play video games, but he’d have to go in the living room for that. He turned over, groaning into his pillow. After a moment, he unlocked his phone, looking at the screen. There were no messages. He shot a quick text at Hobi, asking what he was doing. The reply came after several minutes.

JH: Remember that guy I told you about

Jungkook paused, thinking back.

You: the hot one?

JH: Yeah

You: what about him

JH: It didn’t work out :’(

He frowned with sympathy. Hobi was a fantastic person, and he deserved all the love in the world.

You: i’m so sorry :/ are you ok?

It took a couple of minutes before the reply came.

JH: No, I feel like shit. I’ve been into this guy for months

Jungkook considered inviting Hobi over to watch a movie or something, but at that moment Namjoon laughed very loudly, and he immediately discarded the idea. What Hobi needed, was to get laid.

You: let’s go out

JH: Now?

You: yeah

Waiting patiently for Hobi to make up his mind, Jungkook took a few sips out of his tea. It tasted like dirty water.

JH: OK just give me half an hour

JH: Text me where to meet

Jungkook fistpumped, and got up to shower.

Half an hour later, he was at his favorite student bar, the one that served super cheap shots. Jungkook didn’t go out much, but when he did, he wanted to get drunk as efficiently as possible. Dragging Hobi along with him, he went over to the bar.

“6 shots, please.”

“What kind?”

“The cheapest that isn’t tequila,” he replied, looking over at Hobi.

“6? Isn’t that a bit much?”

Jungkook grinned at him. “We’re sharing, so it’s really just 3. And frankly, you look like you need a little liquid courage right about now.”

Hobi sighed. “I don’t want liquid courage, I just want that stupid ass to go on a date with me.”

“Could you at least tell me his name?” Jungkook asked, watching the bartender set out 6 glasses in front of him.

“No. It’s too real if I say it out loud,” Hobi replied.

Jungkook picked up 3 of the glasses. “But he’s hot?”

“Very,” Hobi sighed, grabbing the other 3.

They found a table by one of the walls, and clinked glasses before downing their first shot. With the other two lined up, they talked about this and that, Jungkook scanning the crowd for someone fitting to set Hobi up with.

At a lull in their conversation, Jungkook spotted someone at the bar. “He’s cute, right?”

Hobi squinted his eyes, trying to focus from afar. “Yeah, he’s okay, but not quite my type.”

“You have a type?” Jungkook asked curiously. He’d known Hobi since they were kids, but he knew next to nothing about his romantic preferences.

“Well,” Hobi seemed to consider it, “maybe not, but I think I’d prefer someone a little…smaller? I don’t know. It’s silly.”

“No, not at all!” Jungkook actually thought it was a little funny, but this wasn’t the time to joke around. “Someone shorter than you?”

“Um, yeah.” Hobi seemed embarrassed.

Jungkook nodded. “No problem. What about that guy?” He pointed at a man walking across the room, who, unfortunately, turned his head just then and saw Jungkook pointing. Hobi threw himself over Jungkook, wrestling his hand down.

“You can’t just point openly like that, what is wrong with you!” Hobi hissed.

Jungkook tried to wrench his hand free from Hobi’s grip, but without succeeding. “Come on, it’s not the end of the —”

“Hey. Did you need something?”

Jungkook and Hobi both looked up, and the man was standing right in front of them, smiling. Jungkook noticed now that he was dressed as a waiter.

“No, we just —” Hobi started, but Jungkook interrupted him.

“Hi, this is my friend, Hoseok. He thinks you’re very handsome.”

Hobi turned on him immediately, slapping his shoulder. “You little —”

The man laughed, drowning out the rest of what Hobi was saying. “Thank you, I think you’re very handsome as well, Hoseok,” he smiled. “Would you like to order something?”

Hobi stared at him, and Jungkook decided he would need to take action. “What do you like to drink?”

One side of the man’s lips tugged upwards. “I appreciate the gesture, but I’m afraid I can’t drink while I’m at work.”

Jungkook elbowed Hobi in the side. Hobi looked at him, then looked back at the waiter, his mouth slightly ajar. “I, um…something non-alcoholic, then?”

The waiter looked like he was taken by surprise. Jungkook certainly was.

“Uh…a coke, maybe?”

“Cool, I’ll order a coke for you, then,” Hobi smiled, nothing but charm like his usual self, and not a trace of the pining, heartbroken mess from earlier.

The waiter went away, and Jungkook turned to Hobi. “What the hell was that?”

“What?” Hobi looked pleased with himself.

“You could have asked him what his name was, when he gets off work, if you could have his number…anything, really,” Jungkook finished.

Hobi shrugged. “He’s at work; he’s not going anywhere.” Hobi looked over to the bar, and Jungkook followed his eyes, seeing the waiter raising a glass bottle at them. Hobi picked up his next shot, and raised it as well. He turned back to Jungkook, looking expectedly at him. “Well?”

Jungkook picked up his own drink. “To original pick-up lines,” he said, and raised his glass. Hobi laughed, toasting with him, and they both downed their drinks.




It turned out that Hobi fared better than Jungkook thought; when the bar closed at 2 AM, the waiter came over to their table, asking Hobi if he’d like to walk him home. Jungkook gave Hobi two thumbs up and a big grin, wiggling his eyebrows. He then quickly picked up his things and left the bar to leave them alone.

Now that he was walking home, he really regretted choosing his leather jacket; it looked cool, but it did little to warm his shivering self. The 3 shots, which had become 5 shots while waiting to see what would happen when the bar closed, kept his heart beating fast and his blood flowing, but it was still bitingly cold. He was also very sleepy, which didn’t help.

As he was about to turn the corner, a thought occurred to him. Hobi’s student housing was just a block down the other way. He could just crash there; it wasn’t like Hobi was gonna mind. He briefly considered calling him to make sure, but then realized that was a stupid idea, and made up his mind to just do it.

When he got to the front door, he remembered he didn’t have a key. Jungkook vaguely registered that he wasn’t thinking quite as fast as usual, based on how long he tried his own key before realizing he didn’t actually live here. Taking several steps back, he started counting upwards. He knew where Hobi’s room was, and he knew he always left the window open to let in some fresh air when he went out, and counting the sills, he ended up on one that was, indeed, open. He counted over again 2 more times before feeling certain it was the right one, then he started climbing.

It was harder than he thought it would be, but once he passed the second floor, there really was no turning back. Hobi lived on the fourth, so he just had to keep going, and pray to God his stiff fingers wouldn’t cramp up.

By some miracle, he made it. He put a thumb under the pin, and pulled the window open enough to clamber in. His foot hooked on the sill, and he stumbled forwards, crashing into the floor with an ‘oof’. Gathering himself in the darkness, he made sure none of his limbs were broken.

Then the lights turned on, and there was someone shouting at him. “Don’t even think about it!”

Jungkook turned around just in time to see a baseball bat nearing his face at an alarming speed. He flinched back, too late, but the bat stopped just in time — the guy holding it stared down at him with a confused expression.

“I’m not a burglar!” Jungkook shouted, holding his arms up in surrender.

“You’ve got a what?” the guy asked, looking even more confused.

Jungkook frowned. “I said, I’m not a burglar.”

“Oh,” he replied, lowering the bat. “Well, what are you doing in my room, then?”

Jungkook stared up at him. His voice was aggressive, but there was nothing about the way he looked to back it up. He wore a white T-shirt with a pair of shorts, and his hair was a mess of blond strands, filtering into each other and standing on end. His face looked soft, with puffy, sleep-ridden eyes. Jungkook looked down at the baseball bat in his hand, and noticed how incredibly short his fingers were. Somehow, all of this registered with his befuddled, slowed-down brain.

“I’m Hobi’s cousin,” Jungkook started. “I was just gonna crash on his bed.”

The guy frowned.

“Wait, is this not Hobi’s room?” Jungkook looked around, confused — but yes, all the pictures on the walls were the same as he remembered them from when he was here a week ago; the clothes hanging from the closet on the other side of the room looked suspiciously much like Hobi’s.

“Um, yes, it is. I just didn’t think — wait, where is Hoseok, then?”

Jungkook grinned at the thought. “He’s out,” he answered, deciding less was more. “Wait, you’re his roommate, then?”

“Yeah,” the guy said, sounding hesitant. Then he seemed to have a moment of realization, judging by the way his face changed. “It’s you! You’re the one who keeps leaving crumbs on my bed!”

Jungkook scratched the back of his head. “Uh, yeah, probably,” he tried to laugh. Hobi’s roommate did not look amused, however. “Well,” Jungkook continued, “now that that’s settled, how about I just go over here —” he started crawling towards Hobi’s bed, but the guy stopped him by holding the bat out in front of him.

“Oh, no,” he laughed. “You’re not staying here. Get out.”

“What? Why?” Jungkook whined. He’d already braved the building’s facade; he was not in the mood for walking the entire 45 minutes it would take him to get home now that the busses had stopped going.

“Because it’s 2:30 in the morning, and I’ve never even met you.”

“But —” Jungkook tried, but the guy stepped forward, poking him with the bat until he got up from the floor. As Jungkook stood up, he realized he had a good 2 or 3 inches on the guy, which, when he thought about it, he kinda liked.

“Out,” Hobi’s roommate repeated, shoving him to the door, unlocking it, and then giving him a final push to get him past the frame.

Jungkook turned around just in time to see the door close in his face. He stood there for a moment before deciding that knocking to talk to him again would be futile, then sighed and turned around, grateful that he could at least use the stairs to get back down.



With the way he dragged his feet, stumbling every now and again, Jungkook wasn’t home until it was nearly 4 AM. He was starving, and hoped there would be some leftovers in the fridge from V. But when he unlocked the door and took off his shoes, he was surprised to find all the lights still on, and in the kitchen, leaned over the low table, was V.

Jungkook peeked over V’s shoulder, and found a casserole, surrounded by a lot of empty bottles of cheap soju. The casserole looked a lot like curry. Finding a bowl in the cabinet and filling it halfway up with rice from the rice cooker, he sat down on the floor next to V and helped himself to some very delayed dinner. “What’s up?” he asked as he chewed around his first spoon. It tasted divine.

V turned his head, looking up at him, with a dejected expression. “Life,” V responded cryptically.

“Anything in particular?”

V sat up, stretching his neck. “No, just…you know, there’s a lot happening, and I’m kinda stressed, I guess.” He paused for a moment, and Jungkook looked at him curiously while eating. “They said today, at the preschool I’m interning at, that they may not have enough funds to hire me after I graduate.”

“Oh no,” Jungkook exclaimed. He wasn’t one to get upset, but this was really important to V.

“Yeah,” V sighed. “And I guess, maybe, I’m a little terrified I won’t be able to find a different position. There’s a lot of competition, and as you know, my English isn’t the best, so I’m not first in line for the international schools.”

Jungkook nodded. He knew V had been practicing his pronunciation with Namjoon for months already; he was really working hard. Jungkook felt sad at the thought of his hard work not paying off. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, in the end. You might struggle a little more to get there, but I know you can do it.”

V smiled sadly, closing his eyes and putting his head back down on the table.

Jungkook ate a few more spoonfuls, before he realized V was crying. He put down his bowl and his spoon, and leaned over to pat V on the back. He could feel V shaking under his hand.

Then V sat up, wiping at his eyes. “I’m just so —” he hiccuped a little, trying to swallow it down, but not able to stop it from traveling through him, “— just so worried, you know?”

Jungkook nodded, having a lot of sympathy for V’s situation in general, and not at all looking forward to a few years down the line, when it would be him out there, desperately searching for a job.

“It’s not just about finding a job, it’s about, you know, leaving all my friends and being all by myself.” V wiped at his eyes again. “I haven’t been by myself since I started middle school. Every step of the way, there’s been at least one person I’ve known, who I could hang with until I found my crowd.”

A small laugh escaped Jungkook. “Your crowd? Tae, the world is your crowd. You know every damn person on this campus. Your networking skills are unprecedented. Come on, you even have friends who are famous actors.”

V shook his head. “That doesn’t mean anything when I’m trying to convince some company to pay me money to do shit I barely know anything about. And what does it matter, having lots of friends, if I just have to leave them all behind?”

Jungkook didn’t have an answer for that, and V seemed to be working himself up, swiftly carrying on. “Then there’s you .”

“Me?” Jungkook asked, blinking, struggling to make his eyes focus.

“Yeah. What’s gonna happen to you when I leave? What are you gonna do? Will you end up dropping out? Will you just be a shut-in? Are you gonna be miserable? I worry so much about your shitty little ass, you have no idea.” V laughed, but tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“Hey, hey,” Jungkook said, shifting to sit by V and put an arm around him. “You don’t need to worry about me, you know that.” He had to fight against his uncooperative tongue to make the words come out right.

V sobbed, eyes closed and his head still down on the table.

Jungkook hugged him tighter, rubbing small circles on his back. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll manage. You know me. I won’t be lonely.”

V cried harder, and Jungkook was starting to worry if maybe he was saying the wrong things. “I’ll miss you a lot, though. How could I not?”

Comforting upset people was not on the list of things Jungkook was good at. He had to admit he was starting to get a little stressed out; V was not calming down, not at all, actually. Jungkook wondered if he should try changing the subject, and see if maybe he could distract V instead.

“Hobi went home with a guy tonight.” It was the first thing that came to his mind.

V sat up. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook said, smiling at him. “A really handsome guy. Actually, he turned out to be one of the waiters, and Hobi bought him a coke instead of a drink since he was working. I don’t know how he did it, but he charmed him, I guess.”

V laughed. “Yeah, that sounds like Hoseok.” The smile faded from his face, and then his eyes got blank. Before Jungkook knew what had happened, he was bent over the table crying again.

“What?” Jungkook asked desperately. He really just wanted to keep eating his curry. He loved V and all that, but drunk V was no fun. At least not when he was the depressed kind of drunk.

“I’m just so worried you’ll never…what if all the love you get to experience, will be these one time things? What if you’ll never feel loved, like, truly?”

Jungkook’s brain had to take a moment to process what V was saying. Jungkook couldn’t for the life of him understand how V managed to form such long sentences, with the state he was in.

“I met a guy tonight.”

The words were out of his mouth before he even knew what he was saying. Half a second later, he realized what his alcohol-muddled brain had made him imply. It wasn’t a lie, per se, but it was a misconstruction. V looked up, blinking at him with swollen eyes. “What?”

“I met a guy tonight,” Jungkook repeated, deciding that this might actually work. It was a white lie, but sometimes those were necessary to protect the people you love. “Really sweet. Blond. Not very tall, but very, very cute.”

V looked at him with wide eyes, no longer crying. “Really?”

“Yeah.” Jungkook snorted a laugh. “A real firecracker. I might see him again. Think he could be good for me.”

To Jungkook’s despair, he saw tears forming in V’s eyes. Then V threw himself over him, hugging him tight, and laughed while crying. “That’s amazing! I can’t believe it! I’m so happy for you, Kookie, you have no idea —”

Jungkook tried to stay upright, but V was leaning his entire body weight on him, and it was proving very difficult. He gave in, and felt them both tumble backwards. V yelped, but stayed on him, laughing. “Tell me more about him,” V insisted.

Extracting himself, Jungkook sat up and grabbed his bowl, getting a few more bites in before V poked him forcefully in the back with a toe. “Hey, I’m eating.”

“Yeah, well, I want details,” V replied playfully.

It was a complete turnaround from earlier, and Jungkook couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry, no details so far. I’ll let you know if I see him again.”

V nodded, grinning, seemingly content with the promise. He got up and went over to the sink, filling up two glasses with water while humming some tune.

In the end, V fell asleep with his head on Jungkook’s lap, a smile playing on his lips. Jungkook looked down at him, happy despite it all, and wondered if maybe Jin had been right — he really would be sad when V left. Maybe he did need friends, after all.