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Music of the Night

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It’s mostly ironic and just a bit amusing how people can learn a few facts about you, listen to you talking for less than five minutes, and all of sudden they feel closer to you. Like they got to know you more. And when they pay closer attention, looking for more information, it’s enough for them to decide that they know who you are. Research, some like to call it. To others it’s just stalking. Once they discover what your name is, it doesn’t take that much for them to start looking for more. But then again, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? That’s what the whole member reveal and introduction videos are for. To pique potential fans’ curiosity, to make them want to find out who the new idols are.

It’s funny, because Jungkook isn’t yet sure who he is himself.

He zips up his bomber jacket and tightens his grip on the Starbucks cup in his hand before stepping out of the coffee shop and onto the street, all of sudden exposed to the wind and the cold of the late November evening air. He fiddles with the green plastic straw as he strides along the sidewalk at a relatively quick pace, keeping his head down. He doesn’t necessarily have to worry about being recognized, JinHit Entertainment might have gotten more popular over the past year but still, he doubts there are that many people who watched the introduction video when it was released yesterday and would now recognize him as Jeon Jungkook if he happened to pass by them, despite him wearing a face mask and a dark green bucket hat. And yet, it makes him feel anxious, the awareness that his face, his name, information about him, it’s all out there somewhere on the Internet, so easy for anyone to find. It’s ridiculous, of course, it’s silly, that he’d be worried about that now. It’s him who auditioned for different entertainment companies, it’s him who went through the training and it’s him who wanted to debut. He still wants to debut. He wants to be an idol. He wants to sing and perform and be able to hear his music on the radio, he wants money and fame, but – perhaps not everything that comes with it. Because fame has both its good and bad sides. But he supposes it’s not fair of him to complain. Many only dream of having the opportunity he’s gotten.

He takes a small sip of his drink – strawberries and cream frappucino with chocolate chips, so sweet and sugary that it’s almost gross, but thankfully Jungkook likes sweet things, has gotten used to them being too sweet. He doesn’t mind that much. He just wanted to drink something unhealthy.

“Happy birthday to me,” he mutters under his breath.

It’s not his birthday, it’s not even anywhere close to, but he didn’t celebrate turning eighteen on the first of September, and today is the first time in a while that he went out somewhere alone and got to do what he wanted to do. So it’s a pretty good time to make up for the lack of any celebration of his actual birthday, Jungkook thinks.

Taehyung and Jimin would have done something on his birthday, he knows, if he only had told them. Which he never did. They have enough stuff to be worried about, enough work to do, and not enough time. Being trainees is tough, Jungkook wouldn’t want to unnecessarily bother his bandmates. It already feels like he does sometimes, being the youngest one, the least experienced, the person who’s always falling behind, needs more guidance and takes more time to learn than the other two. It’s only fair that he doesn’t expect anything from them. They’ve already given him more than enough. And of course they wouldn’t agree if they knew what he was thinking, because Taehyung and Jimin are absolute sweethearts who only see good things in people, always choosing to focus on their best side, so willing to overlook the flaws. Maybe it’s good they have at least one pessimistic person in their trio.

He feels a raindrop land on the skin of his hand, making him look up at the sky. The clouds are pretty today, but they’re also dark and the sky is gray. Perhaps the wind will chase the clouds away, but the other option is that it’s going to rain. Rather hard, possibly.

Jungkook lets out a sigh and starts walking even faster, hoping to escape the inevitable change of weather.

It doesn’t take him long to get back to the dorm. He bumps into a few people on his way there, they step on his feet and he almost spills his drink, it’s also beginning to actually rain, but soon enough he’s locking the door behind him, taking off his jacket, then shoes. He can hear Taehyung and Jimin’s chatter coming from where the kitchen is located. They’re probably making food. If it was up to him, he’d rather order take-out, but he knows that they shouldn’t, considering how close they are to debut. They need to make effort to eat healthy. And Taehyung and Jimin always stick to the rules and do their best to do what’s expected of them. Jungkook tries to as well. He likes being praised, likes knowing he did something right. It’s just that he likes seeing if he’ll be able to get away with things just as much.

“Hyungs, I’m back,” he calls out as he’s crossing the distance between the front door and the kitchen.

They must hear him, because the sound of chatter stops suddenly and a second later Taehyung’s head peeks out of the room just as Jungkook reaches it. The older boy gives him a bright toothy grin and reaches out to grasp the younger’s wrist and pull him into the kitchen.

“Good thing that you’re back. Jiminie is trying to make edible food and it looks like he’s almost finished,” he says cheerfully.

Jimin visibly bristles from where he’s standing by the stove, stirring the food in the frying pan. Jungkook shifts closer to him to get a better look at what he’s preparing. Rice with vegetables and some meat, it turns out.

“What do you mean, trying to make something edible?” Jimin asks, glaring at Taehyung out of the corner of his eye.

Taehyung shrugs in response, “Well, we won’t know if it’s edible or not until we actually try it, will we?”

Jimin looks like he’s about to say something, but Jungkook speaks first.

“I’ll set the table,” he offers quietly.

“Oh. Thanks, Jungkookie, that’d be great,” Jimin tells him, smiling.

And then Jimin and Taehyung continue their bickering, while Jungkook goes to grab three bowls and three pairs of chopsticks and set them on the table. Then he repeats the same action with glasses and napkins.

A few minutes later the three of them are sitting by the table and eating. The food isn’t bad. It tastes good actually, or maybe Jungkook is just hungry, or maybe he just isn’t focusing on it that much, instead listening to what Taehyung is saying.

“ – and I just think it’s cool that out of all the entertainment companies we went to the one with exciting ghost stories. It’s pretty awesome, right?”

“But if the stories aren’t real, it doesn’t make a difference,” Jungkook points out.

Taehyung hums thoughtfully, before shaking his head and pointing at him with his chopstick in a manner that looks almost accusatory.

“Who’s saying that the stories aren’t real, our dear Kookie?” he asks, squinting at him.

Jungkook rolls his eyes, though fondly.

“Ghosts aren’t real, hyung,” he lets out a small laugh.

Taehyung sighs heavily.

“Your narrow-mindedness and lack of faith disturb me,” he says.

“I bet Jimin doesn’t believe in ghosts either,” Jungkook tells him.

Taehyung freezes at the words, then slowly turns to look at the oldest of the their trio. Jimin stops with chopsticks raised halfway to his mouth. His gaze moves from Taehyung to Jungkook and then back to Taehyung.

“No. I’m not getting involved in this,” he says before quickly stuffing his mouth with food.

“But Jiminie!” Taehyung protests.

Jungkook of course has heard the ghost stories before. It’s the first thing you hear about when you join the company, the rumors about a phantom that haunts JinHit Entertainment’s building. He’s not sure how the story started or why it became so popular, why so many people seem to at least consider the possibility that it might be true, Taehyung being one of those people. Jungkook doesn’t believe in ghosts. But even if he did, he never once during the two years he’s been a trainee has heard or seen anything that would indicate that the phantom exists.

“Hyung, I think that if JinHit was hunted, we would have realized it by now,” he says.

“But what about the dance studio! I heard it’s never closed during the night and no one dares to go there!” Taehyung insists.

And there are so many possible explanations, but Jungkook feels too tired to argue.

“I don’t know, hyung. Anyway, have either of you checked the comments under my introduction video yet?” he changes the subject.

It seems to work, as Jimin and Taehyung both seem to brighten up immediately.

“Yeah, we have! Most of them are really nice, you should read them too, there’s nothing to worry about!” Jimin tells him.

Taehyung nods in agreement, “People seem to like you.”

And – it’s not like that, not quite, because they don’t like him, they only like the person they think he is, based on the few minutes they’ve heard him talk – about himself, about the group, about his hopes and dreams for the future. Even though he was genuine, that was just a small part of one side of him. A tiny bit that the world got to see and is already building its expectations for him on. Even though that’s not all Jeon Jungkook is, even though he may turn out to be not who the public expects him to be, even though he may still disappoint.

But still, he can’t help but to let himself feel relieved that he made a good first impression. It would be so much worse to have potential fans hate him from the beginning. Now, if they truly have a positive opinion on him, he has to work hard to keep it that way.

“I’m glad,” he says, allowing a small tentative smile to appear on his face.

“Let’s just hope they like us after we debut as well,” Jimin grins. “Though I doubt they’ll be able to resist our irresistible charm.”

Jungkook chuckles. He can only hope for that too.

They finish up eating, and he stays in the kitchen to wash the dishes. It’s his turn on Sundays. He can hear Taehyung and Jimin moving to sit on the couch and setting up some movie on one of their laptops. He considers joining them for a moment, but finally decides against it. He finishes what he’s doing and goes straight to their shared bedroom. He glances out of the window. Like he predicted, it’s raining hard.

It’s been raining a lot lately, he realizes.

*

There are two months left until their debut and he keeps messing up.

It’s just small things, Jimin says. It happens to everyone, it’s not a big deal, Taehyung tells him. But Jungkook doesn’t want to disappoint. Neither the public nor himself. So to him, it matters that he sounds just a little strained during the chorus, it bothers him that he made a mistake during the choreography. Maybe they have time, but even so, it’s stressful. He hasn’t noticed Jimin or Taehyung mess up like that. No, it seems to be just him.

“Don’t be too harsh on yourself, Jungkook,” their dancing coach says. “It’s important to fix what you’re doing wrong, but panicking and beating yourself up over it won’t help.”

“I’m not panicking,” he mumbles in response.

He’s not. He just wants to make sure he doesn’t screw up when thousands of eyes are on him, watching his every move.

He focuses hard during dance practice. He pays extra attention, does the choreography more careful than ever in order not to mess it up. He sings in a shower and while making breakfast. He dances before sleep until Taehyung throws a pillow at his head and scolds him for being too loud this late at night.

What he needs, he concludes, is privacy. He needs to practice in peace, where there is nothing to distract him and where he isn’t bothering anyone. Now, that’s kind of tricky because being a trainee doesn’t leave you with that much free time, and also he doesn’t know places like that. He’s reluctant to ask too, as he knows that his hyung will only tell him to not overwork himself.

So he carries on like usual.

The weather isn’t getting much better. It’s still cold and rainy, and Jungkook just wishes that it was at least cold enough for the snow to fall if it can’t be warm anyway. But that’s not the case. He’s still hoping for it to fall for Christmas, even though that probably won’t happen either. But they probably wouldn’t have time to enjoy the weather, so it doesn’t matter in the end.

Time passes. Taehyung’s birthday comes around. They don’t have that much time to celebrate it either. At least they get a cake. It tastes good.

December begins. He messes up the choreography again.

“Jungkookie, I mess up too. So does Tae. Why are you acting like it’s so much worse when you do it?” Jimin asks, concerned.

Jungkook lets out a frustrated sigh after taking a sip of water from his bottle.

“Because I do it far more often than I should. Far more often than you and hyung do.”

Jimin and Taehyung buy him some strawberry milk to cheer him up. Jungkook doesn’t get what the point is and how it’s supposed to help, but he likes milk so he drinks it anyway.

“I get that you guys are worried, but this is something I have to fix. If I mess up in front of an audience, I can’t just excuse it with a ghost tripping me up or something,” he tells them.

That’s when it hits him.

*

He’s already outside when he realizes that maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all. It’s cold, colder than during the day, and windy. The sky is dark, not a single star visible because of the clouds. Thankfully he can still see his surroundings though despite it being just before midnight, thanks to the lamps along the streets as well as the lit up signs above bars and convenience stores. There are still some people outside. Not many, but somehow that makes being out after dark less scary, seeing how there’s a couple rushing to get home, how a man is smoking outside of a closed restaurant, how a woman is feeding a stray dog.

It’s a good thing that the company’s building is just a little above five minutes’ walk from their dorm. And it’s already late, very late, but Jungkook know there are still people there, people who’ll let him in, as it isn’t his first time going there at night. He once left his phone there, and had to go back and get it. Now’s different though, because this time he isn’t coming in for just a moment, only to grab what he needs and leave. This time he’ll need to stay for a bit longer.

It turns out it’s like Taehyung said. The dance studio isn’t locked, Jungkook can easily enter, and there’s nobody inside. That’s good. He takes off his jacket and his woolen beanie and puts them down on the floor in the corner.

He goes over the choreography. Repeats the parts he feels like he’s been having problem with. Wonders what’s the issue. Does them again. It’s not awful, he thinks. Definitely better than during practice. But still. He could do better. He feels like he should do better. He repeats the move that he’s struggling with. Repeats it again. And then repeats once more. He keeps repeating.

Don’t overwork yourself, it’ll be counterproductive.

But he’s not doing that, it’s just… some extra training, when he should be sleeping. He needs this, he needs to improve, he needs to catch up –

There’s a faint sound of a piano playing.

Jungkook stops, and lets himself drop to the ground, immediately reaching for his bottle of water to take a sip as he listens. It’s a pretty, calm but happy melody. One that he doesn’t recognize. It’s muffled, too. Jungkook tries to focus harder on the sound. It seems like it’s coming from behind the wall to his left, the one with a mirror. Strange. He doesn’t think there’s anything behind that wall.

Still, he raises to his feet and comes closer.

“Excuse me?” he calls out.

The music stops abruptly. Jungkook frowns.

“Hello? Who’s there? That’s, uh, you’re really good at playing piano by the way. Or, I guess, you have a nice melody recorded on your phone… Anyway, where are you? Um, can you hear me? I know you’re probably not supposed to be here that late but that’s okay, neither am I! I’m a trainee! I’m Jeon Jungkook, I – I’m speaking to myself, aren’t I?”

No reply.

“Hello?” he calls out once again, tentatively.

Silence.

“So that was my imagination, huh?” he mutters to himself.

He must be more tired than he thought he was.

*

He still comes back two nights later. He had to wait longer before sneaking out this time, because Taehyung and Jimin decided to make a competition out of who can stand on their hands for longer and it lowkey freaked Jungkook out for just how long they managed to keep it up. But eventually they went to sleep and now he’s back at the dance studio, warming himself up, when he hears the piano again. He freezes mid-stretching and listens.

It’s the same melody as the last time. And once again, it seems like it’s coming from behind the mirror. He slowly moves closer to it, careful not to make any sound, this time not speaking out loud. He presses his ear against the wall to hear the piano better. The song that’s being played is beautiful. Calming. And somehow, though he’s not sure how exactly, Jungkook can hear in the sound that the person playing must be passionate about it. That they must love that song. Maybe it’s important to them for some reason. He tries to remember if anyone at the company plays the piano. He doesn’t think so. But, he supposes he can’t know that for sure. It’s not like he knows every trainee and idol at JinHit that well. Aside from Taehyung and Jimin, he isn’t very close with other people. It’s a bit hard to open up to people, to just talk to them when he doesn’t know them in the first place, when all that they have in common is the label they’re under.

But he wants to know who’s playing.

He gets up, as quietly as he can, and strides across the room to the door. He opens them and steps out into the dark corridor. He walks slowly, close to the wall. Not only is there nothing there (which shouldn’t be a surprise, considering room don’t just appear out of nowhere), but he can’t hear the music from here anymore. He frowns in confusion before returning to the dance studio, where the sound of the piano playing again reaches his ears.

“I – I’m sorry, but who’s there?” he decides to try again.

And just like the last time, whoever is playing, stops.

Jungkook sighs.

“Look, um, whoever you are, please don’t ignore me,” he says, moving closer to the mirror. “I – I don’t even know who are you or where are you, and, uh – but you can hear me, right? That’s why you stopped playing.”

Nothing.

It’s a bit scary, if he’s being honest. Logically speaking, it’s impossible for anyone to be on the other side of the mirror, let alone playing piano. But… he’s hearing the same song again. So if he’s not going crazy, there must be a person there. Or at least… something. And the thought sends a shiver down his spine, because – no, he shouldn’t think like that, but Taehyung’s ghost stories keep coming back to him, and if whoever is playing in fact isn’t a person then that would mean Jungkook is speaking to that something that can hear him, but – that’s also impossible. Ghosts aren’t real.

They aren’t.

“Am I… am I going crazy… or…” he’s not sure what he wants to say. “Nevermind…”

He’s just going to keep practicing, since that’s what he came here for. The only reason he’s getting freaked out by this is because it’s past midnight already. Surely, if it was happening during the day he’d be just a bit weirded out, but not scared. Not that he is scared. He’s not. At all. Nothing scares Jeon Jungkook. (Except for perhaps microwaves, but there aren’t any here).

He tries to focus back on the choreography, and at first it’s going well, he thinks he might actually be improving, maybe if he’ll come here often he’ll actually catch up and won’t mess up or hold Taehyung and Jimin back, but then the piano starts playing again.

He stops.

There’s nothing scary, it’s just a piano, there must be a reasonable explanation and – he shouldn’t be scared, he should be angry, because it’s distracting him, he’s trying to practice here, and whoever is playing first ignores him and then has the audacity to just carry on and –

He marches up to the wall with the mirror and knocks on it loudly.

“If you’re not going to reply to me, at least stay quiet,” he says, quite proud of himself that he’s managed to do it.

And for a moment, it is quiet, but then the pianist knocks back. Jungkook stands there, slightly dumbfounded, and stares. So this someone (or something) is communicating with him now.

An unpleasant feeling twists in his guts.

The knocking continues, and it sounds like a repeated rhythm, as if the person knocking wants to tell Jungkook something through it.

Then Jungkook realizes he understands. It’s Morse code.

Hello, Jeon Jungkook, it’s saying.

He almost jumps back.

“How the hell do you know my name?” he asks, warily.

A beat of silence. Then –

You literally told me the last time.

“Oh. Right.”

Aren’t you scared.

A bit. He’s not going to admit it though.

“W-why would I be scared?” he asks.

So you are.

“I’m not,” he mumbles, but then he gets no reply, so he repeats, louder. “I’m not!”

Sure you aren’t. You probably should be scared of me though.

And it must be a coincidence that at the same moment the lights flicker, but Jungkook can’t help but to gulp nervously when that happens. It just made what the pianist told him seem more ominous.

“Well… who are you then?” he asks.

Silence. He asks again, louder, but there is still no sound of knocking against the wall.

The lights flicker again. Jungkook flinches and steps away from the wall. Feeling anxiety rising within him, he quickly grabs his jacket from where it’s lying on the floor and puts it on, hastily throws his bag over his shoulder and rushes to leave the dance studio.

*

“We’re out of toilet paper, so buy it too,” he wakes up to Jimin saying.

“Didn’t you buy some like four days ago?” Taehyung’s confused voice asks.

“Well, it’s not my fault you guys apparently shit so much,” the older mumbles and a few seconds later there’s a sound of the door shutting close.

Jungkook opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling above him, wondering what kind of conversation he just witnessed. But knowing Jimin and Taehyung, it’s probably better not to ask. So he lies in bed for a few minutes, a luxury he can allow himself since his alarm clock is yet to set off, meaning that he woke up earlier than he needs to be up for once.

“Jungkookie, you’re awake?” Jimin walks back into their shared bedroom and notices that his eyes are open.

“Yeah,” he confirms. “Did Taetae-hyung just go to a store?”

“He did. We need a few things and it’s his turn today,” Jimin tells him.

“Oh. Do you think he’ll think about buying me some milk, or…?”

“I’ll text him.”

“Thanks.”

He reaches out to grab his phone and check the time. A little over an hour left until they have to go to a photoshoot.

The photoshoot takes up more time than taking photos should take, in Jungkook’s opinion, but at least, as boring as it may be, it’s some kind of distraction. But afterwards they still have dance practice, which means going to the dance studio, and that’s when the memories of the previous night inevitably come back and start nagging Jungkook, making him glare at the wall with the mirror feeling uneasy, making it harder to focus on getting the choreography right. And he’s always self-critical, feeling like he should be doing better, but this time he can feel that he really messes up, to the degree that it’s not just him getting mad at himself, but that it actually causes Taehyung and Jimin to give him surprised and concerned looks.

He mentally curses at himself.

He’s trying his best, but the soft sound of a piano playing is stuck in his mind and he can practically hear the melody. It’s as if the song is haunting him, as if it’s already made itself at home inside his mind and is now waiting for him to break and admit that he wants to hear it again, wants to go back and listen to the whole of it, even if coming to the dance studio at night doesn’t sound exactly safe to him now.

And yet, he can’t help but to feel intrigued as his mind keeps coming back to the pianist.

He also can’t help but to think that maybe – just maybe, the studio really is haunted.

“Kookie, are you okay?” Taehyung asks him after practice.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he mumbles absent-mindedly.

*

“Are you… are you the phantom from those stories, or…?”

It’s quiet in the studio that night.

*

He’s recording a video for the fans that will be released on the day of their debut. Even though he knows that it’ll go through other people who will make sure to cut out the parts in which he’ll undoubtedly make a fool out of himself, Jungkook is still nervous. He wants the recording to go well, so he can be as genuine in possible in the final product that his potential fans will get to see.

“Hi,” he says to the camera, smiling shyly, and he already feels like this isn’t the right way to do it.

He gives a little wave and wonders what people will want to hear. He’s planned some things to say beforehand, but they all flew out of his head the second he sat down in his chair. But – he was planning to say something simple, right? It’s supposed to be a short video.

“It’s Jungkook of 3Wonders, nice to see you guys,” he continues. “You’re probably, um… you’re watching this after we’ve debuted, so, uh, I really hope that went well! We’re practicing hard to be able to give you the best performance we possibly could!”

Now, should he tell them about his day? Give them some context? Or just… keep talking about the upcoming debut?

“Yeah, we’re… really looking forward to getting to know you guys more. And, um, I don’t want to disappoint any of you, even though that might be hard, but – ah, what am I doing, I’m not supposed to say that,” he hisses at himself and quickly reaches out to grab the camera. “Off, off, off,” he mumbles, pressing the button to turn the device off.

“Crap,” he mutters and lets out a heavy sigh as he puts the camera away and leans back in the chair.

*

Maybe he’s just too tired. Maybe that’s why it seems like there’s something off with his dancing, even though this time he doesn’t mess anything up. It still feels like he’s done something wrong, like he’s missed something important, but this time, he doesn’t know what it is. And it’s frustrating, but he forces himself to think about how his decision to keep coming to the dance studio after all must have paid off at least a bit. It’s working. He’s getting better. He won’t embarrass his friends completely and he won’t be the reason of their downfall. There will be no downfall. Hopefully.

He glances towards the mirror. He isn’t sure whether he’s relieved or not that the music stopped playing. It keeps bothering him though. Jungkook doesn’t know why, but a part of him wants to hear it again. As if something is drawing him in, maybe the same thing that told him to keep coming back. And the silence isn’t that much better than a sound of a piano playing coming out of nowhere, not once he knows that something’s there. Now it’s unsettling.

“I’m still waiting for your answer,” he says every time before leaving.

But he has more important things to worry about than a freaking ghost living in the studio or whatever. Like ending Jimin and Taehyung’s silly feud over something as weird and random as who would win the fight, a tiger or Jin-nim?.

“A tiger is a tiger, Tae! It can’t be defeated by a human!” Jimin insists.

“No one is more scarier or powerful than Kim Seokjin, I’m pretty sure he isn’t human,” Taehyung argues.

Jungkook just wonders why the hell he’s friends with them, but makes them stop fighting by stealing their bottle of diet Coke which prompts them to chase him to the couch where he settles and turns on his laptop to find some anime to watch. Strangely, it works.

He also finally finishes the video for the fans. It takes him a few more tries, but eventually it seems like he’s gotten it right, having talked briefly about what they’re doing now, about his hopes for the future and how much he appreciates the support they’re already getting and that he can’t wait to meet them all at their first fan sign. (He doesn’t mention how nervous the whole thing makes him).

That’s a bit stupid of him, he thinks, to want to be an idol when he gets stressed over debuting and interacting with fans. But it’s still his dream. He still wants his music on the radio, wants to perform for people, wants them to love the songs he’ll deliver to them.

He just hopes it will all work out.

*

“So. Are you still going to keep ignoring me?” Jungkook asks, feeling kind of stupid talking to a wall.

But then –

Are you going to keep bothering me?

His eyes widen. The pianist replied. And – yes, that was what Jungkook wanted to happen, it’s good, it’s all good, but… still. He wasn’t expecting a response.

“Y-yes?” he asks hesitatingly.

Is that a question?

“Um, no. Sorry. Yeah. Unless you really want me to leave you alone, but I wanted to talk to you,” Jungkook says.

The pianist must be confused because the knocking comes late.

Why?

Jungkook shrugs, before realizing that the other can’t see him. (Or maybe they can? If it’s a ghost? Is that ghost somewhere in here, watching him?)

“Are you… are you a spirit of some sort?” he asks.

I don’t think anyone’s ever called me a spirit.

“What do they call you then?”

A phantom. Sometimes a ghost.

So he’s talking to the phantom then? The one he heard rumors about? About a phantom that haunts JinHit while seeking revenge and every once in a while someone sees his shadow or hears him moving around?

Ghosts aren’t real though.

But. He’s talking to something, that’s for sure.

“That’s not your name though, is it?” he asks.

What?

“You’re not called Phantom or anything. You must have a name, right?” Jungkook clarifies.

For a moment, it’s quiet. Jungkook thinks that maybe he shouldn’t have asked that, perhaps he’s overstepping and the phantom will go back to ignoring him, but then –

Yoongi.

“Yoongi?” Jungkook repeats. “That’s your name?”

Yes.

“Oh. That’s a pretty name,” he says.

Thank you. And after a moment: I like your name too.

Oh. The phantom – no, Yoongi, he’s friendly. Scary evil ghosts that want to eat your soul don’t tell you they like your name, do they? Of course they don’t. At least Jungkook hopes so. This one… he must be just… lonely. So he’s talking to Jungkook. Maybe he even wants to, maybe he’s being nice because he doesn’t want to chase him away.

“Why do you play the piano every night?” he asks.

I like playing piano. And it gets boring here.

“Okay, fair enough,” Jungkook nods. “Why are you stuck here?”

That’s for me to know and for you to wonder about.

He frowns.

“Is there any way to help you?”

No. A few seconds pass. You could just –

“I could what?”

You could just keep talking to me, I guess.

Jungkook smiles a little. Even though it’s just knocking, he thinks it sounds a bit shy, like Yoongi is almost embarrassed to ask. He really might not be as scary as it seems.

“Okay,” he says, sitting down on the floor to make himself comfortable. “What do you want to know then?”

The phantom takes a moment to think about it.

Well, why do you come here every night?

“I come here for extra practice so I won’t drag my bandmates down when we debut,” Jungkook tells him.

You’re a trainee here.

He’s not sure whether that’s a question or not, but he still answers.

“Well, yes.”

When are you debuting?

“A month and a half.”

Nice.

Jungkook stares at the wall. Then lets out a snort.

“Nice? That’s what you have to say?” he asks, amused.

Well, what do you want me to say? “Good luck, fighting!”?

Jungkook grins, “That would be very kind of you.”

No. A moment of silence. But don’t think you’re dragging your bandmates down. You wouldn’t be placed in a group if you were bad.

Jungkook blinks. That’s… strangely comforting to hear, from someone he doesn’t know. The dance coach, Jimin and Taehyung all told him not to worry about that, that he doesn’t keep messing up, but to hear an actual argument… it almost makes him feel better. Almost.

“What if I just got worse?” he whispers.

Then you would have been removed.

“How do you know that?”

I’ve been here for longer than you.

Jungkook tilts his head in curiosity, wondering if that was an unintentional slip-up or if maybe the phantom is willing to reveal little bits about himself. But no, Yoongi stated before he wasn’t going to tell Jungkook why he was stuck here.

“Oh. Uh, thanks, um, Yoongi-ssi. That’s a bit reassuring,” he says.

Oh my God, don’t call me Yoongi-ssi, ‘hyung’ is fine, you’re probably not much younger than me.

“I turned eighteen this year,” Jungkook tells him.

Yeah, you can definitely call me ‘hyung’.

“Alright. I will. Hyung.”

Also shouldn’t you be going back?

Jungkook checks the time on his phone.

“Oh! You’re right! Thanks for talking to me! I’ll… see you later?”

Yes. Now, go.

*

Jungkook starts coming to the dance studio regularly. He practices, he talks to Yoongi. It’s nice. Even though the phantom, or whatever Yoongi actually is, tells him that he should be getting more sleep instead. But Jungkook can see that he’s improving, that he’s doing better during normal practice with Taehyung and Jimin. And, he enjoys his little conversations with Yoongi, even if the other doesn’t  reveal much about himself. It’s mostly Jungkook who does the talking. He tells Yoongi about what Busan is like, about different sports he’s tried, about the video games he likes playing with his friends.

And Yoongi – Yoongi keeps playing piano.

“I really like that song. Did you write it yourself?” Jungkook asks.

Yes.

“Really? That’s cool,” he says. “Does it have lyrics?”

No.

“Huh. Maybe I could write some,” he jokes.

Maybe.

And perhaps there is something weird about it. About the haunted dance studio, about the phantom, about the fact that Jungkook just started talking to him on a daily (or, well, nightly) basis. But. He likes it.

Maybe ghosts do exist.

Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing.

*

When Jungkook was six years old, his brother talked him into going with him to that abandoned house that was rumored to be haunted. It was around Halloween and it was already starting to get dark. We’re just going to the candy store, his brother told their father before they left. And Jungkook didn’t feel good about lying, but he wouldn’t feel good about getting his brother in trouble for lying either. And so they went.

Now, he doesn’t remember a lot. It was a long time ago. But he remembers being scared, remembers clutching tightly onto his brother’s sleeve and Junghyun telling him that it’s okay, I’m here, I’ll protect you. And it was alright for a while until it wasn’t, until Jungkook started hearing strange sounds and thought he could see some strange silhouettes even if just for brief seconds. He remembers his fear becoming too much and tears prickling at the corners of his eyes, then more tears coming until they were streaming down his face and choked sobs started coming out of his mouth. They got a bit lost in the house and Junghyun told him to stay in one place then went to look for the exit door. Jungkook thinks he can remember noticing someone standing in the corner of the room, staring at him. He thinks he can remember someone whispering something in his ear, thinks he remembers hearing his brother’s voice calling him coming from one direction and then Junghyun walking into the room from another. Hey, hey, calm down Jungkook, it’s okay, ghosts don’t exist, it’s just your imagination messing with you, I’m here. They left the house and came back home. He couldn’t fall asleep that night, too scared to lie in darkness, and ended up grabbing a flashlight and walking with it to his brother’s room and crawling into his bed, crying into his pajamas, repeating how terrified he was. It’s not real, Kookie, it wasn’t real.

And Jungkook was so frightened that his only option was to believe his brother.

Maybe that’s why he rejected the idea of ghosts being real so firmly throughout his life. Because accepting their existence would mean acknowledging that what happened at the haunted house may not have been just imagination, that it could have been real as well, and that’s not something he’d ever want to have to believe in. It was something that felt so horrible when it was happening that he refused to do anything other than deny it.

Yoongi isn’t like the ghosts from his childhood. No, his presence calms and comforts him in a way. Jungkook comes to the dance studio to practice on his own every night, and after more difficult days, it’s nice to just lie on the floor and listen to the now familiar melody. Even though there is still that part of Jungkook that’s the reason for a thought at the back of his mind that maybe, just maybe, he should be wary around Yoongi. But so far, nothing happened to make him think that the phantom is anything other than harmless. And – well, it’s fun. It’s fun talking to him, telling him about how preparing for the debut is going, learning little things about Yoongi like that he’s scared of fireworks or that he used to like having his hand held when he still could. (That one makes Jungkook just a little sad and for some reason he finds it proper to say that he’d gladly hold Yoongi’s hand as much as he’d want him to if it was only possible.)

When is your debut, Jungkook-ah? the phantom asks once.

“In three weeks. Why?” Jungkook asks.

Just asking, Yoongi replies. And then, You’ll still come to talk to me, won’t you?

“Yeah, of course,” Jungkook assures him. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Maybe it’s a bit weird to say that. That he’s friends with a ghost. But he’d like to think that’s really what they are, that they are getting along well. At least it’s how he sees it.

Yeah. I suppose you’re right.

Jungkook grins in the direction of the wall he’s been talking to for the past few weeks.

*

He’s running late. He should have crawled out of his bed when Taehyung attempted to wake him up, telling him that he and Jimin were going to get breakfast at that new place that opened on their street and asking if Jungkook wanted to join them. And a part of Jungkook did want to join them, but another part of him was too sleepy to do anything other than bury his head under his pillow and tell Taehyung to go without him.

And of course that one morning when his roommates aren’t there, he oversleeps.

They have a photoshoot that day. And Taehyung and Jimin are probably now being dressed up by the stylists, meanwhile Jungkook’s rushing through the building, trying to finish his take-out coffee without spilling any of it as he’s on his way to his destination.

And it’s just his lack that he literally runs into somebody.

Fuck, I’m sorry, I – “

Jungkook looks up at the person he bumped into and freezes as his eyes go wide.

First he notices his coffee spilled on the other’s jacket, which already makes him anxious because crap, he spilled coffee on someone, they’re going to hate him, and then he sees the man’s face, which makes him pale and almost gives him a heart attack.

He spilled coffee on Kim Seokjin.

And of course Jungkook has seen Kim Seokjin before, has talked to him a few times, but it was all brief and out of necessity and he was panicking each time so he can’t say he knows that much about the CEO of JinHit. He’s extremely successful, feared by the media and also considered the most handsome man in South Korea. He could fire Jungkook on the spot and no one would bat an eye. Which. Is unlikely that he’ll do, but still. Spilling a coffee on his boss is not a good thing and knowing Jungkook’s luck, Seokjin might just be the type to remember things like that and hold them against people and what if –

“Well, good thing I’m not headed for a meeting, isn’t it?” the man asks, raising an eyebrow at Jungkook.

“I – oh my God, I didn’t – I’m so sorry, I don’t – Kim PD-nim, forgive me, please, I – “

“Jeon Jungkook, right?” Kim Seokjin cuts him off. “You’re debuting soon. With 3Wonders.”

“I – um, yes, that’s me,” he says, dying inside a little because this is mortifying.

But, as he gathers up some courage to look the man in the eyes, he realizes that the CEO looks strangely amused. He’s not sure if that’s good or bad. Both, maybe? It depends whether Kim Seokjin is just entertained by seeing Jungkook all flustered and in panic or entertained thinking of ways to punish him for ruining his jacket.

“Once again, I’m extremely sorry for – “

“It’s alright,” the man dismisses his apology with a wave of his hand. “But you look like you’re running late. Don’t you need to get somewhere fast?”

Jungkook’s eyes widen.

“Um. Yeah, Kim PD-nim, actually, I have a photoshoot right now, I have to hurry, I’m so – “

“You’ve already said sorry, Jungkook,” the other chuckles. “Come on, I’ll walk with you, I’m curious about a few things so maybe you’ll answer my questions.”

Perhaps Kim Seokjin has a different definition of running late than Jungkook, but he decides it’s best not to argue and just go along with it.

Seokjin turns out to be a pretty decent guy, actually. He’s still intimidating, but not exactly scary. He makes some awful dad jokes that Jungkook awkwardly pretends to laugh at, and asks about how’s Jungkook feeling before the debut and if he gets along well with Taehyung and Jimin.

“Yeah, they’re really nice. We’ve become good friends, I think. I couldn’t do this without them,” Jungkook says. “I’d probably go crazy.”

“It’s that bad here, huh?” Seokjin raises an eyebrow at him.

“What? Oh – no, no! Company’s fine! It’s just…” Jungkook trails off and shrugs, wondering how to finish that sentence. “It’s just I guess becoming an idol seems more and more frightening the closer we are to debuting.”

“Frightening in a good or a bad way?”

Jungkook hesitates. The other is his boss. He shouldn’t reveal any weaknesses to the man, he really shouldn’t, but then again… Seokjin does seem genuinely curious.

“Both, I think,” he answers honestly.

Seokjin hums thoughtfully. He looks like he’s going to say something more about it, but then they arrive at where the stylists must already be preparing Taehyung and Jimin for the photoshoot and Jungkook really needs to go inside already

The stylist are, like he predicted, reasonably mad at him. He apologizes profusely for being late, doesn’t complain once about how much he actually hates the clothes that were chosen for him, and mentally comforts himself that at least his make-up looks nice.

“Where were you?” Taehyung asks him as later they’re getting into the car supposed to drive them to where the photoshoot is taking place.

“I overslept. And then bumped into Kim Seokjin and he wanted to have a chat,” Jungkook replies.

“He what?” Taehyung asks, but before Jungkook can answer the staff is already interrupting them, distracting from the question.

*

It’s satisfying, to see his late-night dance practices paying off. He’s tired but happy. He does better, he makes less mistakes, he can tell. The coach praises him, much to his joy, and Taehyung and Jimin offer him proud grins after he performs the choreography flawlessly. So he ignores the fact that he has to force himself to get out of bed every morning and that he needs to drink twice as much coffee in order to not fall back asleep.

It’s worth it, he decides. He can do this.

*

When Jungkook wakes up, he’s surrounded  by darkness. It takes him a few seconds to realize that he’s lying on the floor of the dance studio, where he must have fallen asleep. His back hurts from lying on the hard surface. He’s not sure how long he’s been asleep, he can’t tell what time it is, as there’s no window in the studio, but it must be still night, considering no one found him yet. And – fuck, maybe the building is already closed. He sits up rapidly and starts to explore the floor around him with his hand, trying to find his phone to check the time.

“It’s a bit past two, no need to panic,” a voice says from behind him at the same time someone puts a hand on his shoulder.

Jungkook almost jumps and he turns around quickly, trying to back away, and his eyes widen, because shit, somebody is there. It’s not a voice he recognizes, it’s deep and raspy and smooth and definitely belonging to a stranger and there shouldn’t be anyone here, oh my God what if it’s a stalker and Jungkook is about to scream but whoever the person is – and Jungkook now notices a pair of eyes, dark and staring at him intently – they clasp their hand over his mouth, silencing him.

Shush,” the voice whispers. “Be quiet, it’s me. It’s Yoongi.”

Jungkook stills. He heard what the other said clearly, but it doesn’t make sense. Surely, nobody knows of Jungkook’s friendship (if he can call it that) with Yoongi except for the two of them, but also Yoongi doesn’t speak. He’s a ghost. A phantom. They communicate in Morse.

“Yoongi never speaks to me,” Jungkook tries to say, but it comes out muffled.

“I do speak to you, you just never hear me,” is the response, and the hand covering his mouth drops, but not without obvious hesitation.

And that’s when Jungkook realizes another thing, and that is that Yoongi’s (if he assumes that it is, in fact, Yoongi) is quiet. So quiet that perhaps if it wasn’t for the darkness of the room, the emptiness of the building and the closeness between them, Jungkook wouldn’t be able to hear him. So – so maybe there is some truth to his words, as confusing as that it right now.

“I didn’t know you were corporeal,” Jungkook says and then cringes at how loud his voice is in the silence. He adds, lowering his voice to a whisper. “How come I never saw you before?”

“Well, I never chose to show myself,” comes the answer.

Jungkook sits back, letting himself relax a bit, just now noticing how tense he became, and he thinks. He stares, looking at that huge pair of eyes that is the only thing he can actually see, and tries to understand. This is Yoongi. Yoongi the ghost. The Yoongi he’s been talking to through the wall recently. His kinda-friend Yoongi the phantom of JinHit Entertainment company building.

“So. Why did you show yourself now?” he asks.

A moment passes before Yoongi replies.

“You became quiet all of sudden without saying goodbye, so I moved to the studio to see what happened. Then I realized you fell asleep and stayed here with you.”

“You were watching me sleep?” Jungkook asks. “Oh my God, that’s creepy.”

“I wouldn’t say watching. I can’t really see much, it’s too dark.”

Still,” Jungkook says.

And then there is silence again. It would be awkward if it wasn’t eerie in a way, with Yoongi’s piercing gaze on Jungkook being the only thing he can see and with how the world is almost unnaturally quiet. With how Yoongi is there, very much real, but they seem to be getting along so far, actually seeing him makes Jungkook fully realize that he’s been talking to the phantom, that it might be dangerous, that he knows nothing about the other. And if he knows anything, it’s still far from enough.

“So you’re real,” he whispers, a bit stupidly.

“No, the wall knocked on itself every time you spoke to it.”

Jungkook lets out a surprised chuckled at the sarcastic remark. But Yoongi doesn’t sound exactly mean or even mocking when he says it, it’s more teasing. Amused. Jungkook decides he likes his voice.

“Can I – can I touch your face?” he asks.

Why did I say that, why did I say that, why did I –

There’s confusion in the other’s eyes.

“Why?”

“I just – I don’t know, I think it’s still weird for me that you’re in front of me. And, well, I can’t see you and – um, just… God, I’m rambling, aren’t I?” Jungkook asks, feeling embarrassed.

“It’s okay,” Yoongi tells him softly. “And go ahead.”

Jungkook blinks in surprise and does nothing for a moment, but then he reaches out, his hands trembling slightly, and he gently touches the phantom’s face. First traces his cheeks, his nose, his eyebrows, his forehead, touches his soft hair. He’s startled to find out that Yoongi’s warm, so warm, no different from a human. And there is something now in his eyes, the way they’re looking at Jungkook while he’s holding Yoongi’s face in his hands.

Eventually, he lets go of the phantom’s face.

“You know, Jungkook-ah, you should probably leave before for your dorm already unless you want to be like a zombie in the morning,” Yoongi says.

*

Some nights he’s too tired to practice dancing even more, but he still comes to the studio. A few times he keeps the lights off, as that’s the only way Yoongi will show himself, and they talk. Chat about nothing and everything at once. Other times, Jungkook will bring a notebook and try to write lyrics to the melody he keeps hearing Yoongi playing. He likes it. He likes it a lot. The fact that there’s Yoongi, that the phantom exists. There is just something about him that keeps luring Jungkook in, that makes him want to be closer and learn more.

“Was there anything you used to like doing for fun except for playing piano?” he asks one time.

Fishing.

“Fishing?” Jungkook repeats, surprised.

Not the type of hobby he was expecting, if he has to be honest. It’s nice though. He can imagine Yoongi fishing, relaxing and just focusing on the lake, on the water, on the fish swimming in it, maybe chatting in his calm voice with someone if only he didn’t go alone.

Yes, fishing. I used to go a lot with S-

A pause.

I used to go a lot with somebody I was friends with.

“Oh! What was your friend like?” Jungkook wants to know.

Another pause. A longer one this time. So long actually, that Jungkook begins to wonder if Yoongi even heard the question when the answer finally comes.

I don’t know.

Jungkook frowns.

“You don’t know?” he asks, confused.

I don’t know.

“Do you not remember? Or – “

I do remember. But I don’t know.

And on nights like that, Jungkook knows that there is some line that he’s crossed, unknowingly, one he never even knew was there. But, for some reason, while Yoongi is fine talking about some aspects of his life before – whatever this before entails; there are still some things that just the mention of makes him all distant and unresponsive, a signal to Jungkook that it’s time to change the topic.

“Well, I like to game in my free time. Have you ever played Overwatch, hyung?”

Not really. I never played games a lot.

“No games at all?” Jungkook asks.

Does mobile games about farming count?

It’s nice.

*

“Have you seen my paint?” Taehyung asks, deep frown on his face.

Jungkook has not. It’s a day off for them, so he took the opportunity and just chilled on the couch, read some manga and watched some TV. Jimin only woke up a little over an hour ago, but Taehyung – he went to the company building because apparently some trainee was supposed to give him his paints back, and she did, but the red one was missing. When asked about it, the girl claimed that Taehyung never gave her a red paint in the first place.

“It must be somewhere here, if she swears I didn’t give it to her,” the boy insists.

“Maybe you did take it with you but lost it at the JinHit building?” Jimin says.

Taehyung’s frown deepens more, if that’s even possible. Jungkook feels bad for him, he knows how much his friend treasures his paints and how he’s been saving up to buy them. He still thinks that maybe the paint is just laying around somewhere in the dorm – either under one of their beds or behind other furniture.

“Come on, I’ll help you look for it,” Jungkook says, getting off the couch with a heavy sigh.

*

Writing lyrics is, as it turns out, hard. Jungkook stops scribbling in his notebook, hums the melody under his breath once again, and cringes because no, the words and the music don’t match. He crosses out the last line and groans in frustration.

“Other words for paradise…” he mumbles. “Heaven? Nah, that’s too short…”

There’s a knock on his door.

Jungkookie,” comes Jimin’s muffled voice. “Can we come in?

“Uh, yeah? It’s your room too,” Jungkook replies, confused.

The door opens and both Taehyung and Jimin step in.

“We thought you might be busy and not want us to interrupt you,” Taehyung explained.

“It’s okay,” says Jungkook, closing his notebook and putting it away. “What’s up?”

For a few seconds, the two boys exchange glances, and then they sit on both sides of Jungkook and start talking. They tell him they’ve noticed how tired he’s been lately and that they’re worried, that he shouldn’t be overworking himself, especially not with the debut so close, that they’re proud of him and how he’s been constantly improving over the past month, but also how his health is more important, how they want him to be happy and they’re there for him, that the debut is stressing them out as well but getting enough rest is important too, that they all need to remember this is something they’re doing out of their love for music and not to be perfect.

Jungkook listens, with eyes wide, not having realized how much he has worried his hyungs.

“I… I promise I’m fine,” he tells them quietly after they finish talking. “But, um… thank you. Thank you a lot.”

“But if you have any problems, you know you can tell us, right?” Jimin asks, rubbing at his shoulder in a comforting motion.

Jungkook nods, “Yeah. Yeah, I know.”

He does, really. Of course he can’t tell them about the whole phantom thing, but that isn’t exactly what he’d call a problem. But, if anything bad starts happening – he knows he can turn to them, he knows he can trust them. He’s thankful for that.

“You guys can come to me if you ever feel bad as well,” he adds.

That’s the best thing about being a group, he thinks. That you’re not alone.

He didn’t know he needed to hear what they told him, but he immediately feels better.

Later, he finishes writing the lyrics.

*

“ – and so we’re not allowed to go back to the zoo anymore even though I didn’t even do anything,” Jungkook finishes telling the story of how Taehyung got them kicked out of a zoo when he tried to pet a zebra, with Jimin being his partner in crime and helping him. (Jungkook still doesn’t know to this day what they were thinking.)

They’re sitting in the darkness again, Yoongi leaning against the wall next to him, and Jungkook can hear his breathing. It’s a human thing to do, to breathe. It makes him curious, makes him curious. It’s clear that the phantom isn’t a ghost in the most common understanding of this word, so Jungkook can’t help but to wonder how human the other is.

“The question is why they would think it’s a good idea to pet a zebra,” Yoongi says, as quiet as the first time they talked like that.

“I don’t know, hyung. That’s what I still wonder about,” Jungkook tells him. “But hey, at least it wasn’t the lions, right?”

“You sure have interesting friends.”

“Yeah… that’s a one word for it,” Jungkook snorts, a small grin creeping its way onto his face.

He leans back against the wall too and closes his eyes, feeling relaxed. It’s late, but not too late, not as late as usual, so he’s alright. He should probably head back to the dorm earlier too. Tomorrow is an important day. It’s the day.

“You know, I can’t stay too long today. I’m debuting tomorrow,” Jungkook tells Yoongi.

“Oh. Right. I forgot it’s already so soon.”

His voice sounds a little off, but maybe Jungkook is imagining things.

“Yeah… I’m nervous but also excited.”

“That’s… good.”

“I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, right?”

“Right.”

It’s gonna go well, he thinks. He hopes. No, no, it is gonna be great. They’ll do amazing, and he’ll have only good things to tell Yoongi about. Jungkook has to believe in that, and it will happen. Probably.

“Hey, Jungkook?” the phantom asks.

He hums to show that he’s listening.

“You’re a good person,” Yoongi starts.

“Um. Thank you?” Jungkook says, a little taken aback.

“Terrible things shouldn’t happen to good people, should they? They’re not going to.”

“What?” Jungkook asks, frowning. “I’m confused, what are you saying?”

“If something bad happens. If bad things start happening here. You shouldn’t be scared. Because they won’t be happening to good people.”

Jungkook’s eyebrows furrow. What is Yoongi talking about? And all of sudden, like that? It confuses him.

“I don’t get what you’re trying to tell me,” he says.

There’s no response.

“Yoongi?” he tries again.

Silence.

Jungkook grabs his phone and turns the flashlight on.

The studio is empty aside for him.

*

Debut stage does, in fact, go amazing. And Jungkook wasn’t expecting it to be this amazing, but it is. All that extra practice paid off, because he doesn’t make one mistake and neither does Jimin or Taehyung. The three of them feel justly proud of their performance. And the audience – they seem to love it. That’s the best part. Getting to see their enthusiasm, getting to hear their cheers. Seeing all those messages full of love and support they’re flooded with on social media. And, of course, there are some hateful comments as well, but for once, it’s easier for Jungkook to ignore them and focus on the positive things.

He’s happy. He’s riding on the adrenaline rush, he keeps laughing throughout the evening. He celebrates with Jimin and Taehyung. They have a small party just for themselves, they eat the most disgusting and unhealthy food they can get close to where they live, they get drunk and do a dance battle in their bedroom, then end up falling asleep all cuddled together on the floor.

He doesn’t go to the studio that night.

*

“Hey, Yoongi. I knew I was supposed to come last night, but, uh. We were celebrating and I got drunk and… yeah. I’m sorry. I am.”

No response.

“Yoongi?”

Silence.

Jungkook frowns. He doesn’t like it, not at all. And – there is also something a little worrying about this, because he’s not sure why, but he doesn’t think Yoongi is actually angry with him. There’s just something inside him that tells him that it might be something different, that it’s not just because of Jungkook not showing up the previous night.

Something was just off about the last time they talked.

“The debut went good,” Jungkook decides to keep talking. “Great, actually. And the fans, uh – to be honest, it’s kinda weird to call them that, after only one performance. But, um, I guess that’s what they are? They seem fantastic too. Super enthusiastic. So supportive. From what I’ve heard, those can get too much sometimes, but… I hope it’s gonna be okay. I – I wanna be optimistic, you know? I have… hopes, for the future. Yeah.”

Still nothing. No knocking. No extremely quiet whisper. No Yoongi.

“Hyung?” he asks quietly.

“Okay. You don’t – I don’t expect you to reply. Though… I’m not sure why you’re not saying anything. But, uh, if it is because you’re upset with me… then I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. “But also there is something I wanted you to hear.”

He reaches into his pocket to take out the folded piece of paper. He smoothes it out, reads the words really quickly again.

“I really like the melody you’ve been playing on the piano a lot recently. And I… I wrote lyrics,” Jungkook confessed. “I wanted you to hear me sing it.”

Nothing.

“Okay. Here I go.”

He takes a deep breath, and sings. He closes eyes and focuses on singing it the way he wants to, on expressing what the lyrics are supposed to mean, on conveying the right emotion, on thanking Yoongi for being there and for inspiring him through the song. He ignores the unpleasant feeling in his gut caused by the silence. No, this is about getting the message through.

He’d like to be able to say he did a good job.

But after he’s finished, there is still no sign of Yoongi’s presence.

*

Having fans is overwhelming. Of course Jungkook knew they were there, even before their debut, people looking forward to seeing them grow, ones that offered support and love and waiting curiously to find out what 3Wonders has got in store. He read comments from them before, the ones on his introduction video, but only a few, just because it was hard not to, but at the same time he didn’t want to see people judging him based on a few minutes of him talking nonsense.

Now, after debut, he’s made very aware of their existence. They get a Twitter and people start liking their tweets, retweeting them, leaving oh so many replies. So many messages of I love you and woah these guys are cool and tons and tons of heart-eyed emojis. They go live on VLive, and comments roll in, so many telling them how cute they are, how good they voices sound, how great their debut song is, and once again, so many of I love you, I love you, I love you. Jungkook reads these comments, these replies, and they make him smile, they make him feel good, but at the same time there are questions in his head, his mind keeps asking how can you love me? You don’t know me. How can you love someone when you don’t know them? Why do you say you’ll support me when you don’t know if you’ll like the next album? What if I start annoying you? What if you hate me?

Then the first fan sign happens. There is something about it that makes it all of it more real, even though it was already real before. But it just hits Jungkook, the reality of having fans, as he sits behind the table and sees all these people, girls and boys alike, some younger than him, some his age, some older, staring at them with awe and admiration and sometimes with curiosity. And there is a girl standing in front of him right now, she can’t be older than maybe seventeen. She’s looking up at him with wide eyes and there’s a blush on her cheeks and she’s stuttering a little as she speaks to him while he’s signing her copy of their album.

“You guys have been posting c-covers on YouTube before you debuted and I r-really liked them, which is why I was looking f-forward seeing what your music would sound like,” she says, and her voice is quiet, but still loud enough that Jungkook can hear her. “I love it so m-much. The lyrics mean a lot to me as well. I’m so h-happy I decided to check your songs out, oppa, I will d-definitely continue to support you in the future.”

And hearing it from her as she’s standing right in front of him, Jungkook believes her.

“My sister kept talking about what great vocalists the three of you are, so I gave your debut album a try,” a boy his age who comes next tells him. “It’s, uh, it’s a bit silly, but I actually cried a little while listening to it,” he adds, rubbing at the back of his neck in a slightly embarrassed motion.

“I don’t think it’s silly,” Jungkook tells him, offering him a warm smile, because he feels warm inside, all these words from all these people go straight into his heart. “We’re trying to make music that will get through to people.”

And after him there’s another girl, also around his age, perhaps a little younger, who’s smiling brightly, visibly excited to have the chance to see him.

“You’re amazing,” she tells him. “I love your music so much. And you seem to be fun people too. I guess I already love you guys a little.”

“Thank you. I guess I already love you all a little too,” he says.

Jungkook realizes he means it. Despite his doubts and the questions, despite how many people are here and the fact that he won’t remember all of their faces, their names, he still feels like this group here, and not just them but those replying to their tweets and commenting on their live – all of sudden they all seem special.

And he thinks that if he has Jimin and Taehyung and they have their fans, next years are going to be good.

(Even though there’s one more person that he wishes could be there for him.)

*

“I kind of screwed up yesterday’s performance,” Jimin says, frowning, in between of taking sips of his coffee.

“You’re imagining things, no one noticed anything,” Taehyung tells him.

“I’m actually rather proud of us,” Jungkook says, smiling shyly.

“Aww, Kookie, good to see you getting more confident,” Taehyung grins at him. “Now Jiminie needs the same attitude.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, just – “ Jimin stops talking and frowns slightly. “What’s going on there?”

Jungkook follows his gaze to see a small group of people gathered not too far away from them, all turned towards the same wall. He tilts his head in confusion and squints, trying to see what’s all the commotion about. There’s a sound of conversation going on there, a nervous one. He can see a few trainees, some of the staff and one of the other idols.

“ – did this, will be skinned alive, I’m telling you,” he can hear a woman from the staff saying to the idol.

“By Kim PD-nim?”

“Oh no, I’ll do it myself before Seokjin even finds out who’s the culprit.”

The menacing tone of her voice just makes him more curious, so Jungkook speeds up a bit. And soon they’re standing there too, with the others, and he looks up at the wall and freezes, his mouth dropping open.

“What the fuck…” Jimin whispers from beside him.

Holy shit, boss is coming,” somebody says.

And like most people who heard the words, Jungkook turns around, just in time to see as Kim Seokjin stops walking and his face pales instantly, shock flashes in his eyes and his grip on his bag visibly tightens. Jungkook waits, holding his breath, as the man stares up at the words painted across the wall in big red letters.

Burying memories doesn’t bury the past, Seokjin. Remember what anniversary’s coming up in a week? – M.Y.

*

Jungkook stares at the wall, his eyes wide. He blinks a couple of times, as if he’s expecting the words to disappear after he does so, but they don’t. Of course they don’t, they’re still there, large and red and staring at the small crowd that gathered to look at them, the same crowd that is now slowly directing their stares at their CEO, the man the message seems to be meant for. He’s standing still, the look on his face going from shocked to completely blank.

“Whoever is found responsible for this better packs up, as they will be fired the moment they’re revealed to be the culprit,” he says in a calm, loud voice.

With that, he turns and walks away. And Jungkook stares after him, feeling anxious, as this Kim Seokjin is much different from the one he talked to just three weeks ago. This is the Kim Seokjin he used to imagine before, the serious and powerful businessman who gets what he wants and does what he wants. He supposes this one might be true as well after all, and only needed a trigger to reveal himself. And he isn’t sure what the trigger is, because – yes, if the message on the wall is a stupid prank, there are loads of people who’d be annoyed by it. But then why wasn’t there any anger visible in the man’s posture? Any annoyance? No. Just shock, and then complete lack of any emotion.

It terrifies him a little.

“Come, let’s move,” Jimin says, nudging both him and Taehyung.

And – yeah, Jimin’s right. They’re supposed to be going to the meeting about their next album, because the company wants to start preparing a comeback soon, and there are already ideas about the concept. They’re supposed to talk about what they want to sing about, what kind of music they want it to be. And they all have some ideas, ones that they’re excited to discuss. And none of them is responsible for this, so it’s no use getting distracted. It doesn’t have anything to do with them after all, right?

So they start walking, ignoring the whispers of –have never seen PD-nim like that before and whoever did this must be a madman. As curious as they are, it’s none of their concern.

(But then why does Jungkook feel so anxious about the situation, why does he feel like he’s missing something obvious…?)

Suddenly, something churns in his guts and he comes to a halt as certain words ring in his head. If bad things start happening here. You shouldn’t be scared. They’re not going to happen to good people. Bad things. Good people. Something happening. Something bad happening. Not to Jungkook. Why not Jungkook? Because Jungkook is a good person…? To whom then? Kim PD-nim? Right. Why? They’re not going to happen to good people. Is he a bad person? And why did Jungkook get the warning? Why no one else? And how did the phantom of all people know that –

Jungkook looks at the initials under the sentence painted on the wall.

His eyes widen.

“I gotta go,” he mumbles, turning back and pushing past people and –

“Hey, we have a meeting, where are you – “

Jungkook has trouble focusing on the words Jimin is speaking to him. His friend is saying something to him, but what? Jungkook isn’t sure.

He runs.

*

Nothing happened at JinHit around this time of the year a year ago. At least if Jungkook can trust his ability to find information on the Internet. But that’s all he has to go on, so it’ll have to do. Further research tells him that no strange events occurred two or three years ago either. Four years earlier, there was a fire. That’s what catches Jungkook’s attention and what he decides to focus on, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the answer. According to the article he’s reading, it wasn’t a big tragedy. A part of the company building burnt and had to be rebuilt, but everyone managed to escape and except for one injured person, the rest was safe and there were zero casualties.  But still, that was all he could find. No other incidents that could be the reason of the current issue occurred. Maybe he just needs to dig deeper.

There are idols at JinHit who were trainees at that time. People who must have been in the building when the fire started. That’s where he has to go looking, Jungkook concludes. If he asks around, finds possible witnesses, perhaps he’ll finally learn something, find some clue.

“Are you okay?” Taehyung asks him, concerned, as Jungkook leaves the dorm in a hurry.

Jungkook just nods. The first person he needs to talk to is the first idol JinHit ever debuted. She must know something, at least. Maybe she isn’t directly connected to whatever the problem is, but having spent the most time working for the company, there are plenty of things she might have noticed.

But she doesn’t say much.

“I don’t remember the day very well, to be honest,” she tells him.

“Oh, okay. Do you maybe know if Kim PD-nim was there?” Jungkook asks. “Or if anything that could have affected him happened?”

The woman gives him a strange look.

“What is this, an interview?” she asks. “The building burnt, so yes, that affected him. Now go, I don’t have much time.”

It’s a bit strange, how hostile she was towards the end. And at first Jungkook thinks he might be reading too much into everything, but as he goes and asks other people – other idols, the staff, he soon discovers that everyone gives him similar reaction.  It’s not his business, it’s not important, they don’t remember, doesn’t he have something else to do anyway?

It’s all a confirmation that something’s up.

His thoughts go back to the last time he talked to Yoongi. The phantom knows something, Jungkook is sure. He must have predicted that something was going to happen. He warned Jungkook after all. Assured him nothing bad would happen to him. But how did he know? Maybe Yoongi himself is involved. It’s not a pleasant thought or a one Jungkook wants to consider, but it’s a thought that makes sense. That’s rather difficult to ignore.

The thing is, he can’t ask Yoongi. The phantom’s been silent, and maybe whatever is going on is the reason as to why. He doesn’t like it. He wants to know, he needs to get an answer, because whether Yoongi meant to involve Jungkook or not, Jungkook feels involved just by maybe knowing who’s behind the message for Kim PD-nim.

He also doesn’t like it because he misses Yoongi.

It’s kinda silly, he knows. To get attached to somebody that you don’t even know what they are, where they came from, or pretty much anything about them. It’s stupid to miss somebody who might be dangerous. Who lives behind a mirror, like a ghost from a horror story, and perhaps that’s what he s. Jungkook wouldn’t know. But Jungkook knows that Yoongi is gentle and speaks quietly, that he has soft hands, that he likes talking to Jungkook, that he’s probably lonely, and that he can play piano, and that he does that beautifully, in a way that’s enchanting.

The piano is what lured Jungkook in.

But things are always beautiful when they’re supposed to trick you, so maybe he shouldn’t rely too much on his own impression of the phantom.

And yet –

Jungkook is safe. Yoongi never even seemed like he was going to hurt him. He just talked to Jungkook. He just played for Jungkook. And –

Wait.

The piano? Yoongi plays piano. But why does that make Jungkook’s process of thinking halt and focus on that one thing? What’s so off about it that –

Ah.

Jungkook has never seen a piano at JinHit Entertainment building.

A chill runs down his spine. He’s not sure whether it’s fear – because this is creepy, this whole situation is somehow wrong and he doesn’t want it to be happening; or is it excitement, because he finally might be onto something.

*

“You can’t just run off like that.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“We were worried about you!”

“I’m sorry.”

Jimin purses his lips, worry visible on his face. He moves to sit on the side of Jungkook’s bed, and shifts so he’s facing the younger. Jungkook avoids his gaze by looking up at the ceiling. He is sorry, for scaring them. He should have told them were he was going, and why he was going, instead of leaving them like that. But he’s not sure how to explain or where to start. So, I’ve kinda been sneaking out to the dance studio and hanging out with the phantom from the stories and I think he might be the one behind the message for Kim PD-nim but something about it seems off to me because he’s friendly and has nice hands? Not the best explanation.

Taehyung crawls onto the bed and shifts so he’s lying down, facing Jungkook. Jimin follows suit and lies down on his other side. Both stay quiet for a moment, just looking at Jungkook, and he knows that he’s not gonna get out of this without telling them anything.

Crap.

“Jungkookie,” Jimin starts, his voice quieter and softer, but also laced with worry. “What’s going on?”

They’re waiting for him to answer. Jungkook supposes he has to.

“It’s just… ah… I think I might now who left the message on the wall,” he says.

He can feel Jimin’s body jerking in surprise beside him and Taehyung going still, probably in shock. He squeezes his eyes shut, cursing mentally.

“You know who left the message?” Taehyung repeats, confused.

“T-That’s – Jungkook, that’s a very important thing, how do you – “

“I said I might know,” he cuts them off. “And you wouldn’t believe me anyway.”

Taehyung frowns.

“We’ll always believe you,” he declares.

Jungkook sighs. Of course they think they’re going to believe him, because they think he’s going to say someone they know, someone who’s human, because nothing else is possible or could be considered an option, after all.

But oh well, it doesn’t hurt to try.

“It’s the phantom,” he says.

A moment of silence. He thinks one of them blinks. And then –

“The phantom?” Jimin asks, confused.

“Like from the story of the building being hunted? But I thought you didn’t believe in that,” Taehyung muses.

“Because I didn’t,” Jungkook confirms. “And then I did.”

They look at him. Then exchange glances. Then look at him again.

“I don’t understand,” Jimin tells him.

And does Jungkook really understand?

“It’s… kind of a long story,” he says. “But do you guys remember when I felt really bad because I kept messing up the choreography?”

They nod.

“Well, uh, that’s when I – when I started sneaking out to the dance studio at night to practice more.”

“Oh my God, Jungkook, we told you – “

“Is that why you were so tired every morning – “

“And when we couldn’t wake you up – “

Hyungs,” he cuts them off once again. “This is not the point.”

Thankfully, they fall silent. Jungkook waits a few more seconds in case they start asking questions again, but they seem to be willing to listen, so he continues. He tells them about hearing the piano play, about the knocking through the wall, about writing the lyrics to the music, about meeting Yoongi, about learning about the phantom, about their last conversation and then the other’s disappearance, and finally, about his own suspicions. Jungkook is grateful that Taehyung and Jimin listen carefully and quietly, that they don’t laugh or throw judgmental glares at him. That they seem to be taking him seriously.

“So. You don’t think I’m crazy?” he asks.

Taehyung is the first to answer.

“No. I told you there are ghosts at JinHit, you’re the one who never believed me!”

“And I don’t really know what to think, but I know neither of you lies,” Jimin says, sounding a little bit less sure, but still sure enough.

It’s enough for Jungkook, at least.

“But what do you want to do?” Taehyung asks. “Tell Kim PD-nim that a phantom is after him?”

Jungkook shakes his head. “I’ll just try to figure out what exactly happened during the fire.”

*

This time, what he asks about is did we ever have a piano at JinHit? And people are confused by the question, but they don’t react badly like to the one about the fire and the CEO’s connection to it. And this time, Jungkook actually gets some answers. Not much, but still better than the last time, when after a few i-don’t-know-s, somebody confirms that they remember a piano being in the building.

“What happened to it?” Jungkook asks, trying not to sound anything more than curious.

The guy he’s talking to shrugs.

“I don’t really know. The room it used to be in doesn’t exist anymore, but I have no idea what happened to the instrument,” he says.

Jungkook eyes widen slightly.

“Doesn’t exist anymore?” he repeats.

“Yeah. Not after the fire.”

“Do you know why?”

“Nope. Never really wondered about it either.”

It’s not just something, it’s a lot. Jungkook can work with that, he thinks. First he tries googling it – JinHit Entertainment building fire, and he looks through all the articles he can find again. There aren’t any descriptions of what exactly got destroyed in the fire. He can’t find an old plan of the building either. But, he’s pretty sure someone must know something more.

“We can try asking around too,” Taehyung suggests.

Maybe telling them wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

They keep looking, keep searching. It’s difficult, because of their schedule. They have a meeting to attend, lyrics to work on, a photoshoot to go to, an interview to attend. And once again, people stop giving useful answers, and they stop having enough time to push.

*

It’s six days after the message was left on the wall and they’re seated in chairs in front of the mirrors as their stylists put on their make up for them. Jungkook tries to relax and he closes his eyes for a moment, trying to let his eyes rest. The staff may hide the bags under his eyes, but they won’t erase his sleepiness and tiredness. He only half-listens to what people present in the room are talking about.

Suddenly, the lights go out. Jungkook opens his eyes, startled, as somebody behind him lets out a gasp.

“What’s going on?” he can hear Jimin muttering.

And there are speakers in several places at JinHit, hung by the wall right under the ceiling, kind of like in high school. Jungkook often forgets about their existence, as they’re barely ever used. He thinks Kim PD-nim used them once for an announcement and once for April’s Fools Day joke. Other than that, he doesn’t think the speakers really get to serve their purpose.

Except now. A voice comes from them, deep and quiet, but loud enough thanks to the speakers.

Jungkook knows that voice.

Are these working…? Ah, I think they are. Hi, Jin-hyung. And everyone else for that matter.”

One of the make-up artists gasps. Jungkook listens, his face paling. It’s Yoongi’s voice, there’s no mistaking it, but it sounds so different from when he talked to Jungkook. It’s colder. Harsher. Bitter. Nothing like the soft gentle voice that spoke to him in the dance studio.

You remember what happened tomorrow four years ago, right? I’m sure the message I left for you reminded you. Fun day, wasn’t it?

The woman who gasped earlier lets out a choked sob.

“That’s Yoongi-oppa…” she whispers in a voice that can only be described as terrified.

Jungkook whips his head around to look at her, even though he can’t really see her in the darkness.

“You know the person speaking?” he asks.

I’m certain it must have been for you.

The woman sobs again.

“I – I d-do,” she whispers. “The building… the building r-really is h-hunted.”

It’d be nice to meet up and talk about old times, wouldn’t it? I’m waiting by the one thing you didn’t get rid of.”

It goes silent then, and nobody says anything for a moment except for the make-up artist who’s crying loudly, and she seems to be trying to say something, but Jungkook can’t make the words out.

“I’ll go try and see what’s happening,” someone says and he can hear footsteps and the door opening and then closing.

“Um. Excuse me, but what was that?” Jimin’s slightly shaky voice asks.

Jungkook imagines that everyone turns their heads in his direction. At least that’s what he does. And there are a few seconds when nobody’s saying anything, but eventually one man answers him.

“We have no idea, but it sure sounded hella lot like Yoongi,” he says.

“Who’s Yoongi?” asks Taehyung.

“We u-used to get c-coffee t-together with him,” the woman sobs.

Jungkook thinks the man nods, but he can’t be sure.

“Yeah. He used to be Seokjin’s best friend.”

“Kim PD-nim’s best friend?” Taehyung replies. “What happened to him?”

They used to be friends? Did Seokjin meet the phantom before? But if the make-up artists know him as well… was he human before? Something’s not adding up. But Jungkook’s heart starts beating faster, because he feels that now is the moment that he learns something new, something crucial about Yoongi.

He’s not prepared for the reply.

“He burnt to death during the fire four years ago,” the man whispers. “They never found the body.”

And the beating of his heart stops for less than a second, and the anxious feeling inside of him is boiling. He’s sure this is somehow wrong, because Yoongi can’t be dead. Perhaps he isn’t human, or at least Jungkook believes so, though he isn’t sure what phantom even means, but he doesn’t think Yoongi could be a spirit of a human that died, because he talked to Yoongi. He touched Yoongi. Yoongi has to be alive, whatever he is.

“I have to pee,” he blurts out.

“Jungkook-ah, I don’t think it’s the best idea to – “ the guy who was speaking earlier starts protesting, but Jungkook cuts him off.

“I really have to,” he says.

He quickly grabs for his phone and turns on the flashlight in it so he can get to the door without tripping over anything. He’s in a bit too much of a rush for it to not be suspicious, but maybe the others will believe that his bladder is in a very urgent situation.

The corridor is relatively empty, safe for two people he passes by as he’s walking forward in, his pace quick. His mind buzzes with thoughts, all so chaotic, and he just needs to finally get some answers.

He finally reaches the dance studio and bursts inside, finding that it’s thankfully currently unoccupied. He strides across the room, then raises his clenched fists and bangs it against the wall a few times, loudly.

“Yoongi-hyung!” he calls out. “I need to talk to you.”

And Yoongi might not even be there for all he knows, but he has to try. He’s panting slightly since he got here as fast as he could, and his heart is racing, anxious. But he just wants to finally understand what is going on, what happened, what the heck is up with the phantom and what does Kim PD-nim have to do with any of that.

“Hyung!” he calls out again. “Hyung, listen to me, please just – “

And then a hand clamps over his mouth and an encircles his waist and it startles him so much that he lets out a loud but muffled yelp, but the hand is familiar, so he forces himself to relax at least slightly and lets himself be taken to wherever the phantom is currently dragging him. He closes his eyes for a moment, since the lights are out anyway, and tries to figure out where they’re going. It kinda feels like they’re gonna walk into a wall. But they don’t. Instead, the darkness in front of him becomes a bit lighter, prompting him to open his eyes just in time as Yoongi lets go of him and Jungkook stumbles slightly before turning around and taking in his surroundings.

They’re in a room, lit only by a few candles. There is a mattress lying by the wall, with a pillow and a few blankets that seem old. Neatly folded into piles on the floor there’s a bunch of some papers. In the middle of the room stands a piano. And next to it – oh.

So this is Yoongi.

He’s kind of short, or at least shorter than Jungkook, and also scrawny and pale, which gives him this sickly look, as if health has been slowly moving out of him. His black hair is very messy and there’s some mint dye on it, except it seems to have been done rashly, and it’s already faded a bit. He’s dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, but his feet are bare, pale and fragile like the rest of him.

In a strange way that Jungkook can’t really explain, he’s also beautiful, despite looking like a complete wreck.

“Yoongi-hyung?” he asks.

The phantom – the man? Yoongi. Yoongi lets out a sigh.

“Why are you here, Jungkook-ah?”

“I don’t know, you’re the one who dragged me into this… this – what is this room anyway?”

Yoongi stares back at him, and for a long moment, he’s silent. They just stand there, looking at each other, and for a second, Jungkook thinks the other is actually going to ignore him, but then the phantom (?) opens his mouth and speaks.

“This is where I used to work when I was still a JinHit employee,” he says.

Oh, so there it is. A confirmation from Yoongi himself. Some kind of an answer.

“You were a JinHit employee?”

“Yeah.”

“And then?”

“Then the fire happened.”

“Did you really burn to death?”

“I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“So you’re alive?”

“Depending on your definition of being alive.”

There is a sad tone in his voice that causes Jungkook’s heart to clench just a little. There is another moment of silence before Yoongi sighs and goes to sit on the mattress before turning his gaze to him.

“I got burnt. I still have marks on my arms, and a bit on my face if you look closely. I didn’t die though,” he says.

It sounds almost like he’s telling Jungkook that he’s allowed to see, so Jungkook strides across the room, his legs shaking just slightly, and then he sits next to Yoongi and looks. And there is in fact something wrong with the skin on his left arm and under his right eye. Without really thinking, Jungkook reaches out and for some reason, the other doesn’t move away as he touches the place where he must have gotten burnt during the fire, only flinches a bit, causing Jungkook to retract his hand quickly.

“Sorry,” he whispers.

“It’s okay.”

And now, he realizes, now he has the time to ask. He sure has several questions, like why is Yoongi living there or what has Kim PD-nim done, and what is going to happen or –

“Did you hear the song?”

“The song?”

“Your song. When I visited the dance studio and sang the lyrics I wrote for it.”

Something in Yoongi’s gaze softens, and Jungkook thinks, this is the Yoongi he’s met before.

“I did,” he admits quietly. “I liked the lyrics. And you have a beautiful voice, Jungkook.”

His heart can’t help but to skip a beat, and a small shy smile crawls onto his face.

“Thank you,” he says. “I worked hard on it.”

“You did well.”

And the Yoongi Jungkook has met before must be real because there is gentleness in his eyes and something so incredibly soft that he thinks he could melt. And the phantom looks so genuine, and even his faded badly dyed hair look adorable.

But then –

“What happened four years ago?” he asks.

Yoongi averts his gaze and shrugs, “What you probably already know. A fire. One that everyone survived. Except two people got stuck. One of them managed to escape, left the other behind to save his own life. The second one almost died but survived by miracle. Hid for two days straight out of shock and horror. Next thing I knew I was apparently dead and Seokjin was erasing any trace of me left at JinHit.”

It sounds way simpler than Jungkook thinks it should be. He’s aware there’s probably some kind of bigger context, that Kim PD-nim must have had no choice, that he truly believed that Yoongi was dead, that he must have been suffering and mourning. But the way Yoongi says it – it just sounds cruel, so Jungkook watches the other with wide eyes.

“And no one realized you were here?”

Yoongi snorts, “You’d be surprised what kind of things you can hide from people if you really want to.” He stands up and moves to where the papers are lying. “I had several works that got never released in the end. A pity, huh? But I’ve picked up a lot of information while living here.” He grabs one of the sheets. “JinHit Entertainment isn’t all that perfect…” he muses. “Gathered some blackmail material on Jin… It’s going to be a fun conversation when he shows up.”

It’s ridiculous how quickly Jungkook’s mood changes, how something sick churns inside his stomach.

“Why? What do you want from him?” he asks.

Yoongi looks up at Jungkook.

“To be alive again, I guess.”

“And what does that mean?”

“To not be buried down like a useless memory would be nice. A good start that’d be, I’d say,” Yoongi mutters.

And Jungkook – Jungkook still doesn’t understand.

“Can’t you just – leave?”

Yoongi chuckles humorlessly as he comes closer and crouches down in front of Jungkook.

“After that long? I don’t know how,” he says, then takes Jungkook’s hand in his and rubs his thumb over the younger’s palm, as if in a soothing motion. “When Seokjin shows up, if he shows up, what I suppose I want is an explanation. And a closure. And the release of my works, and to be credit for the music I’ve produced before the fire that he later used. But most of all? Deep down, I think I just want to get back at him and make him scared.”

The bitter grin on his face is what suits the image of the phantom that most people seemed to have in their minds.

“So what do you say, Jungkook-ah, you wanna stay for the show?”