He was lost.
There was no doubt about it. He had no idea where he was.
Had he been under different circumstances he would have definitely enjoyed the foreign beauty in front of his eyes.
The deep blue lake in the middle named Bled, surrounded by green forests and peaky hills. The sun had almost set in, changing the peachy pink hues of the sky to purplish blue ones. He could ask the roaming tourists about his whereabouts but there was the language barrier. Jimim felt lonely and helpless.
His feet were aching from walking continuously for god knows how long. His shoulders were aching too, the backpack handles digging into the fabric of his hoodie. His wild guess was his muscles were taut and painfully crampy and he felt like he could drop dead from exhaustion any moment. He was hungry too but he had left his wallet in his room. Jimin silently cursed under his breath at his clumsiness.
"Um? Excuse me?"
His heart almost jumped and his head whipped to the side, eyes settling on the dark haired man who just spoke....korean?
The man smiled slightly at Jimin's 'deer caught in the headlights' expression. He was tall. Dressed in warm clothes and nose slightly pink and rosy from the biting cold. He had soft features and warm vibes. Eyes twinkling, the man smiled down at him politely.
Jimin realized the man was beautiful. Like, really really beautiful. Jimin could see his dimpled smile deepen and he flushed in embarrassment.
He did not reply the man back.
And he was checking him out.
H oly shit.
"You're korean, right?", the man asked, his brows slightly creasing.
"I-I yes", Jimin mumbled, red sprinkling his cheeks.
He mentally slapped himself.
"Oh. Cool. I was beginning to think you weren't and I was scared I would offend you or something. It's rare to find a Korean around here, ya know?", the man laughed. Jimin did not.
The man realized and his eyes formed apologetic crescents, "Pardon me. I'm Namjoon. Kim Namjoon", he poked out his hand for Jimin to shake.
"Nice to meet you?", Jimin was confused. He was lost. He needed to find his way back to his hotel and he did not have time to chitchat with a random korean dude. But he was lowkey relieved too. A familiar face among strangers gave him a sense of comfort. And to be able to speak korean to someone who understood was also a plus. His mind was tired of constantly reeling at hundred kilometres per minute speed everytime someone spoke another language with him.
It was nerve wrecking, to say the least.
"Nice to meet you too...", the man, Namjoon, as he stated his name to be, trailed off. Jimin eyed his circling hand in the air. His brows stitched together in confusion.
"Uh...your name?", Namjoon smiled quizzically.
Jimin's eyes widened. Oh.
"Jimin. Park Jimin. Hello", he wanted to dig a grave because he was a dumbass and he was too flustered and too clueless and all he wanted was to just go home.
"Hello", Namjoon slightly giggled, amused at the small flustered boy.
"I'm prolly gonna sound weird but um, I saw you go about this road for like...twenty times already? Are you okay?", he asked, concerned.
That sounded a little weird for someone to randomly ask a random pedestrian.
"Yeah. I...uh I'm kind of....um...a little lost", Jimin looked down.
"Oh. Cool.", Namjoon blurted out. Jimin looked up at him in slight apprehension. Namjoon back tracked.
"I-I mean not cool. Not cool at all. Yeah it's so uncool. To be lost and all, you must feel like shit, haha", Jimin felt like the other boy probably wanted to cry his eyes out.
Is he okay?
Jimin felt like yeeting himself out of there. Yeah, he thought it was about time he went about his way.
"....yeah. So you know, I'll just...be on my way then", Jimin pointed at the road above him and started walking away from the *weird* dude.
"Yes?", the blonde boy looked back, a little impatiently.
"I'm kind of familiar with this place. I was wondering if I can...I don't know, help you or something?", Namjoon said. His eyes reflected sincerity.
"You want to....help me?", Jimin was still slightly skeptical.
"I-", the other boy licked his lips. "I mean if you want, I can"
Jimin narrowed his eyes a little. "I appreciate the thought but I'm fine."
"Oh", Namjoon deflated. "Are you sure?"
Jimin weighed out his options. He discreetly evaluated the stranger and his offer. He could use some help, to be honest. It wasn't like he was gullible and he felt a little bad for the slumped boy.
That was definitely not the case at all.
"...okay", Jimin nodded after a few moments of considering. It's not like he had any other options.
He saw Namjoon visibly brighten.
"So um, do you know the name of the place you're staying in?", Namjoon walked up the road to where Jimin was standing.
"I don't remember. I had a card but, um, I think I lost it somewhere", Jimin started walking again, but with the tall stranger this time. He felt a little self conscious.
"Okay...any point of recognization? Anything near?"
Jimin felt like smacking himself.
Namjoon looked at him in surprise. Jimin kept looking down at his shoes, observing his steps.
One, two. One, two. One, two
"Ah...okay....then, what was the last thing you visited today?"
Jimin recalled his memory. He had come out of the hotel with nothing but water bottles and some snacks. He thought he wouldn't need anything else. Then, he went on to a mountain nearby to hike. He had climbed the mountain only to come across St Vendeta Church at the top.
The church was extra-ordinary. It was wide and spacious. And silent. A few tourists went inside to pay their respects. Its atmosphere was somewhat chilly and yet a tense calm was settled upon the prayers. Jimin gazed at everything in awe. He wasn't much of a religious person but he remembered sitting there and just letting everything wash over him like a sea splashing softly along the shore.
It was a good feeling.
He prayed for his family's happiness. And his....well being.
A bittersweet smile made its way on his face.
He walked out of there.
Afterwards, he just wandered about this way and that, his polaroid camera clutched tightly in his hands. He took a few pictures to include in his half complete journal. But there were still things that he wanted to do. Things that he felt like he needed to do. And he had little time to fit all of those things in.
Jimin remembered the last stop he had been at. It was a simple bench right in front of the lake, where he could take in as much sceneries around him as possible. Simply just sitting. And observing. He wasn't really good at those back in the day.
"A bench. In the middle of the park", Jimin replied.
Namjoon's eyebrows deepened.
"Well...um...that's vague",the older one replied, thoughtfully.
At that moment, Jimin's stomach growled.
Both him and the dark haired guy looked down at the source. His stomach.
Jimin flushed. Namjoon chuckled.
"I know this is obvious but are you hungry?", Namjoon asked, amusement dancing in his eyes.
"No, I'm fin-"
"Well then, let's get something to eat", There were those dimples again. "Come on, I know just the place."
Jimin was confused. But he was hungry. This was a stranger who could possibly be on his way to kidnapping Jimin and selling him for slavery or something. Better yet, he could be a serial killer out on his mission to target lost, foreign, pretty boys just to carve out their insides so he could put them up as tapestries. It could be anything. But like he said:
Jimin. Was. Hungry.
They walked on a little. "You don't talk much, do you?", the taller guy asked flashing a cute smile.
"I do but sometimes I don't when I'm not in the mood", Jimin replied, his breathing slightly ragged from climbing the steep road.
"Understandable. So you're not in the mood right now huh?"
He really didn't want to establish his image as a rude, snobbish tourist. But he couldn't help it. He had the tendency to sound *really* mean when he was tired and cranky. "Maybe"
"Oh?" Was it just Jimin or was Namjoon genuinely not affected at all by climbing such a steep road? How was he the only one panting like a dog?
"A person who's currently lost as hell in a place they have no clue about isn't supposed to be very talkative now, is he?", Jimin yapped.
Jimin's stamina needed an upgrade. His body needed to stop overreacting.
"I mean I can understand that", Namjoon replied.
And why was he not breathing heavily or something like Jimin?
"How far is this place?"
Jimin's legs were gonna give out any second now. How long had they been walking for? It felt like years. No, centuries. He was gonna cry. If only someone could carry him up. Curse that beautiful stranger and his long legs and his stupid suggestion of climbing this goddamn ro-
Jimin looked up from his crouched position, trying to regain his stable breathing.
Behold, a tiny burger shop. Cute and cozy and a very small space. Jimin could see a white woman in her mid thirties inside flipping some patties. She was probably the owner of the shop. Few small tables were surrounded by comfortable chairs that had spare blankets draped over them.
It resembled a small wooden cottage decorated with lighting wires and flower pots. The air had a delicious aroma of grease and delight. A few foreigners had gathered on one table, cheering and laughing and drinking.
"Come on", Namjoon called, smiling at Jimin's dazed eyes. "She makes *the* best burgers ever!"
Jimin's lips quirked upwards. The man who probably seemed close to his age suddenly had a childlike excitement to his eyes at the mention of his favourite burger shop. And Jimin couldn't deny it. He had only met Namjoon for what? Twenty minutes? But he found that little gesture, very if not more, cute.
Another thing off his bucket list.
Eat out with a stranger.
"Hi, Liz!", Jimin heard Namjoon call out to the lady arranging the patties in the burgers as he stood next to the rather tall fella.
Jimin, oh my god, do you have a tall kink or something?
Jimin coughed at his thought.
The brunette woman, Liz, looked up, her eyes shining. "Oh! Namjoon! Hello!", she flashed a big smile their way.
"Hey! how're you doing?", Namjoon matched her gleeful expression.
"Good, good. It's been a while", she wiped her hands on her apron. The grease on her fingers smugded the delicate flower pattern on it.
"It certainly has. You're still glowing, though", Namjoon wiggled his eyebrows at her playfully.
She laughed, "And you're still the charmer as usual". She put some sandwiches and coffee on a food tray, ready to serve. It smelled amazing. Jimin's nose tickled with the delicious aroma.
"Excuse me for a second, Joon. I need to-", she waved her arms around, signalling 'running business'
Namjoon laughed a little, "Ofcourse! It's no problem. Take your time"
"Okay. Thank you"
"Table 7! Order's up!", she yelled out and immediately a man who was sitting with a woman at the far end table, got up to take his food from the counter.
They both waited till she got the money from the customer and gave him his change back.
"Okay, so I'm back", Liz said, her smiling eyes scanning the two boys with a notepad and pen in hand. "Welcome back", Namjoon grinned.
"Who's the friend?"
So she noticed.
Namjoon looked at Jimin. "This is Jimin. Jimin, this is Liz. She makes the best burgers ever. And Liz, this is-"
Jimin was about to cut in with an "acquaintance" but Namjoon just carried on.
"-a friend I just made fifeteen minutes ago", he ended.
Liz's eyebrows lifted a little at that but she didn't comment on it and just smiled at Jimin politely. Jimin tried to smile back. He was tired.
"So what would you like to have? The usual?"
"You know it", Namjoon winked at her. "But make it two"
"Okay. Coming right up in ten minutes"
"Alright. Thanks again, Liz!"
"It's no problem. Go on, you two. Make yourselves comfortable."
Namjoon and Jimin walked back to find themselves a table for two that rested just by the corner. They passed a couple that were still eating and laughing together. Jimin looked at their hands that had beautiful golden wedding bands decorating their ring fingers.
Jimin's bucket list had one of those too.
To get married.
He was an embarrassingly sappy person. Jimin shook his head at himself.
"Hmm, could have done better", Namjoon mumbled under his breath.
"Sorry?", Jimin crashed back to reality.
"Oh. It's just...their order", Namjoon looked down at the food the couple were eating: steaming potatoes and ham sandwiches : and then back to Jimin. Jimin's eyebrows knitted together, waiting for the boy to complete his sentence.
"Liz makes good ham sandwiches, don't get me wrong but her burgers and her fries are a whole new experience", he continued, "Like...that," he paused, his eyes glazing over, "is just-" he visibly gave a chef's kiss and then grinned at Jimin.
Jimin couldn't help but giggle a little at his goofy nature. A little tension of hanging out with a complete and utter stranger and uncertainty lying in the near future sliding off his shoulders a bit.
"I see you're a fan of her burgers", Jimin smiled.
"Fan?", Namjoon fake gasped in fake offence, putting his hands on his chest, "Moi sènor, how dreadfully horrible of you! I am not a mere fan. I am a stan!"
That did it for Jimin.
He barked out a mellow laughter.
"Well I'll see it for myself soon enough", Jimin chuckled, shaking his head.
"Mhmm, well now that we're a little comfortable", Namjoon paused as he looked Jimin over, eyes scanning abit and then stilling over his chattering teeth. The dark haired boy got up, took the spare blanket off the chair and draped it over Jimin. The mere gesture melted something inside Jimin's heart.
He patted Jimin's head, lightly and then smiled. The blanket smelled really nice. Like the depth of ocean mixed with the slight tinge of lavender and detergent. It was warm and cozy and comfortable and it enveloped him like a cinnamon roll. Jimin let out a contented sigh.
"Better?", Namjoon asked as he sat back in his chair. Jimin nodded, "thank you"
"It's cool. So, now that we're finally comfortable, how about you tell me anything you've liked here or seen here and maybe we can find your way back?", the dimpled boy stated, his eyes warm and languid and very cute.
Jimin couldn't understand how telling him about anything he liked about Slovenia would give them a clue to his hotel but he decided to play along.
Who knew? Maybe it could work.
"Well, I like the Lake. Alot", Jimin started, hesitating a little because he was honestly just stating the obvious.
"I've seen the church too. It's cool, I guess"
Namjoon nodded for him to go on.
"Well....", he trailed off not knowing what else to say.
"Have you tried biking here?", Namjoon asked, an eyebrow lifting.
"You can bike here?"
"Ofcourse you can. But you gotta pay for how many hours you want it for. It's not that expensive. But it's one of the best feelings ever", Namjoon sighed. "That is, if you like biking"
"I do like biking. But I just haven't had the chance to do it", Jimin leaned back slightly to get more comfortable.
"Well, if you ever need assistance, you know where to contact me", Namjoon winked.
"Uh....I don't know where to contact you, though?", Jimin pointed out.
Namjoon almost face-palmed himself.
"I can't believe myself", he sighed. He took a tissue from the side table and a pen from his pocket and wrote something on it. He slid it towards Jimin.
His phone number.
"Well, now you know", Namjoon smiled cheekily.
"Already giving out numbers? That's quick", Jimin commented but he took the tissue and put it safely in the front pocket of his jacket.
Namjoon laughed out loud.
"What can I say? I'm just so smooth"
"So smooth I nearly slipped", Jimin smirked.
Oh? Getting brave, are we?
"Shut up", Namjoon stated, his eyes forming little crescents. "Stop slandering me"
"Ofcourse.", Jimin shook his head playfully. Since when was he so used to joking around with a person he didn't even know? It was probably just Namjoon's fun personality.
"So where are you from?", Namjoon asked.
Small talk. So that's where they were going.
"Busan.", Jimin rubbed his hands together to produce warmth. "You?"
"Mhm", Namjoon's breath came out in small puffs of fog. "You here to visit?"
"Yeah. Just for three days, though. I'm going back on monday"
And then still silence. It wasn't awkward, surprisingly. Jimin cleared his throat. "Um, you live here?"
Namjoon smiled at the question. It was different from the previous ones, though. It didn't reach his eyes. Cold. And a little sad.
"Not really. Just here for a few days for personal reasons."
"Oh", Jimin didn't know what to say more.
"How old are you and have you tried boating here?", Namjoon asked, out of the blue. He reached over and took out a toothpick from the stand in the middle of the wooden table.
"Random much?", Jimin lifted an eyebrow but answered the boy anyways. "I'm twenty three"
Namjoon's fingers picked at the sharp edge of the toothpick, twirling it in the process.
"Cool. I'm twenty four"
"I see", Jimin eyed Namjoon weirdly, "I've tried boating. There's that Island I went to. The golden bell myth one.", he recalled.
"Ah,", the dimpled boy nodded in recognition,"that one. I went there once, it wasn't much really. But since I love nature, I spent a decent time there."
"You love nature?", Jimin was curious. Not many appreciated nature these days. People were becoming robots now. Always busy in the hustle bustle of life. Slaves to technology. Servants of fatal survival.
"Oh, I haven't told you that but I'm, like, the biggest nature fanboy ever. Like do you see how absolutely breath-taking and beautiful our world is?", Namjoon's face brightened. His previous energy before the gloominess was back. It was intriguing.
"The trees, the water, the little animal friends, they are all just waiting for us to extend our hand to them, you know? Just someone to talk to them, ask them how they are. You won't believe how much they give back to you for simply being kind to them", the smile on his face deepened. "I think somewhere deep within, we also look for comfort from them. In our sad days. Happy days. Anxious days. You name it. There's always that feeling of warmth in there.", His eyes were dazed.
Jimin felt wonder and awe cloud his mind. He had never really had the time nor the thought to look at things that way.
It was a fresh point of view.
And Jimin liked it.
"I guess, you could be right", Jimin replied, wonder thick in his voice.
"I love how these little things just give us so much to look forward to. Everyday. The moon. The stars. The forests. Even the little flowers blooming in the middle of a footpath. Everything. They are all so welcoming. It's-"
Namjoon suddenly stopped mid-sentence. Eyes just a tad bit wide and mouth forming an 'o'. A deep red hot blush crawled up his skin when he realized he had just rambled about his creepily exaggerated fondness of nature.
Afraid that he probably creeped his new friend out, he peeked at Jimin from under his long delicate eyelashes who was looking at the table in a kind of daze.
"I-I'm sorry", he wheezed lightly, nervously scratching his neck. "I ramble alot so I apologise if, um, that was weird"
"No, it's fine", Jimin snapped his eyes to brown shy orbs,"I don't mind. And it's not weird at all."
Namjoon gawked at him.
"Here you go, guys. What would you like to drink with?", Liz suddenly interrupted, placing two plates of beef burgers on the table with side french fries that looked especially golden and crispy. The burger itself looked so juicy, it's bun glistening with the slight brush of butter, the veggies looking extra-ordinarily delightful and fresh. Jimin wanted to dig in right then.
"O-Oh. I'd like a sprite. What about you, Jimin?", Namjoon asked, though his eyes held a shy embarrassed look if the creeping blush on his face was any indication.
"Hmm? Oh, I think I'll just have beer, thank you", Jimin smiled at the owner.
"Okay. One sprite and one beer. Anything else, boys?", she asked.
Both the boys looked at each other and then shook their heads.
"Okay then. Enjoy your meal. Let me know if you need anything", she smiled and then went back inside.
Silence of a few moments slid between them like a coy slithering snake tightening its hold around its prey as they both collected their thoughts. Jimin, still eyeing the burger, waited for Namjoon to dig in first just to be courteous.
"W-well it's here. Let's eat, shall we?", Namjoon blushed in a very endearing way.
But no one made the first move.
Jimin looked at Namjoon while the dark haired boy looked at him.
Jimin's stomach growled as if to say just for god's sake, get on with it already.
Namjoon chuckled a little. Jimin flushed again.
"On the count of three, we both dig in. Sounds good?", Namjoon stated, smiling. Jimin nodded, smiling himself.
"One. Two. Three. Okay!"
Jimin didn't need to be told twice.
He was so hungry. A bite in and he could taste every ingredient seperately and collectively. His taste buds exploded. The cheese melted on his tongue. The pepper and salt tingled his mouth. The patty was so juicy, it made Jimin salivate even more. The bun had a slight scrunch to it.
Jimin couldn't help but slightly moan in delight.
Namjoon grinned at the smaller boy enjoying something he loved.
"Woah", Jimin wiped his face after he was done gobbling down the burger, moving on to the crunchy golden fries.
"I know, right?", Namjoon chuckled in 'I told you so'.
He wasn't kidding. It was probably one of the best burgers he had ever had, hands down.
"I hate to admit this", Jimin started seriously. "But this...is freakin amazing", he burst into a full blown smile, all the previous awkwardness done and dusted.
"Like? I told you, didn't I? It's so good!", Namjoon matched his delight.
"Oh my god yes and the juicy patty!"
"Right?! And the crunchy bun!"
"And the right amount of seasoning!"
"Okay boys! I hear you! Quite down, you!", Liz yelled from inside but her voice had a light playful tinge to it.
Jimin and Namjoon both froze.
And then they both burst into a fit of giggles.
"I loved your burger, Liz!", Jimin yelled in glee. His past self wouldn't do that in a million years but he realized why he came alone to a whole new country. It was to do everything he wouldn't ever do. And experience everything he never did before.
Like appreciating little things.
"Thank you, Jimin!", she yelled back.
"Ah, that was fun", Jimin leaned back in his seat and snuggled deeper into the blanket.
His eyes traced the withering, almost naked trees surrounding them. Winter had one of those tinges. The nostalgic and melancholic undertones. That things change. And they aren't always happy and bright and full of colors. Sometimes they are dull and aching and monochromatic. And as Jimin's warm blood swam through his veins, and the lingering taste of good food and beer made a home in the back of his throat, he realized the true essence of his existence.
He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
The falling yellow leaves reminded him of the old careless days. No matter how green and happy and beautiful those moments were, they had to get old and wrinkly and dried out. And eventually fall.
Jimin felt a pair of warm, almost intoxicatingly tender eyes on him.
The cold but gentle wind carressed his face and shuffled up his hair. Though, his feet were still suffering from a dull ache yet he was still somewhat....content.
He was at peace.
"....though, we still need to figure out where you're staying at", Namjoon finished, his eyes looking expectantly at Jimin.
"Huh?", Jimin snapped his eyes from his surroundings back to the boy sitted across from him. He had not listened to a word the raven-haired boy had said.
He coughed, embarrassed.
Namjoon's eyes danced with amusement. "You zone out alot too, I see"
Jimin wanted to crawl into a ditch and die.
"I-", Jimin had no excuse. "Yeah....sorry."
"It's cool. I was just saying I'll come back after paying so we can get back to searching for your castle, pretty prince", Jimin's heart shouldn't have lept that high at the indirect compliment. Or was it direct?
Jimin's eyes widened when he realized something.
"N-No! You can't be the only one to pay. I'm gonna pay for my own me-"
"Are you sure you have any penny on you?", Namjoon raised an eyebrow. Jimin's hand halted. He remembered he had forgotten his wallet in his room.
I'm a dumbass.
"How do you know if I have any money on me or not?", Jimin shot back.
"You were lost and hungry. But you were still wandering aimlessly. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together."
Jimin's brows furrowed. "What does that mean?"
But Namjoon just ignored the younger boy's question and tried to comtinue walking.
Namjoon stilled. "Yeah?"
"I think I may have some spare coins or something in my bag. Let me search, please", Jimin begged. He hated owing people. Especially anything related to free-loading. He would feel guilty over it for god knows how long. And he really didn't want to put himself through that kind of situation.
He shook off his backpack from his shoulders and dug in his hand to search for any spare money. But his hand came out empty. His heart sank.
A pamphlet flew out from underneath his bag but Jimin ignored it as he searched aggressively for any euros.
Namjoon saw the pamphlet fly out under the table. He bent down to pick it up and hand it back to the struggling boy but his eyes landed at a very familiar name.
Austoria Hotel and Co.
"Just give me a second, I'm sure I kept it in this pocket", Jimin continued to surf his bag.
"Is this where you're staying at?", a purple brochure slid in front of his face. He squinted at it and read what was written on it.
Namjoon watched as familiarization and recognization dawned on the other boy's face.
"Yes!", Jimin couldn't contain his relief. Oh god, he was finally back on track.
But there was still one thing.
He needed to pay for the damn meal. But he didn't have any money.
And he didn't want to let Namjoon know that either.
Namjoon, however, probably realized the boy's dilemma.
"Tell you what? Since we now know where you live, you can pay me back later and I pay for the both of us now?", Namjoon said.
The suggestion didn't sound bad. Jimin thought it over. He could also pay back as soon as they reached his hotel. There was no harm in it, was there?
Jimin nodded. Namjoon grinned.
"I'll be back"
While Jimin waited for Namjoon to get back, he picked at his navy blue sweater's loose threads. Was it okay? To depend on a complete stranger you just met? To be honest, Namjoon just seemed like a chill guy.
But what if, it was Jimin being a desperate gullible mess?
"Let's go", Namjoon declared after he had paid. Jimin decided to stuff his uselessly anxious thoughts in the lowest box possible and get up from his chair.
"So, from what I know Austoria isn't that far from here. It should be two roads down the alley. Come on", Namjoon walked down the steep road they had climbed up to the burger shop. Jimin followed.
They walked a little in silence.
"Where do you live?", Jimin just wanted to fill in the silence. He hated quite things, no matter how peaceful they were. He had always been a loud kind of person. But maybe the recent happenings of his life changed many things in him. For better or for worse, that he couldn't really decide yet.
"Me? You mean here or Korea?", Namjoon asked, slightly taken aback at the random question.
"Well...", Jimin noticed Namjoon calculating his words. "I live and work at a local cafe." He smiled tightly. Jimin felt something tug at his insides.
Jimin held his tongue. He wanted to ask more. Know more. It didn't help that he was curious. He had never really been good at containing his curiosity.
"Not to sound creepy but where's this cafe of yours?", Jimin decided to take the leap. Fuck being cautious. He had done that too much in his life for it to be a constant lingering regret hanging on his head.
Namjoon whipped his head to Jimin in slight surprise. "Why? You wanna come visit me sometime?", he smirked.
"Maybe", Jimin smirked back. "Something tells me you would absolutely *love* that"
Namjoon laughed at that.
"Witty and confident", he commented. "I like it"
Jimin fought a blush down. They walked across another road.
"Well, to answer your question. It's a small local cafe called Delamere cafe. Come whenever you like"
"I just might drop in sometime"
"Just let me know in advance, I'll save an apple & cherry pie for you", Namjoon winked. "It's our speciality"
Jimin giggled. "Okay"
"And, here we are", Namjoon declared. The hotel logo glowed in bright white colored cursive writing. Relief coursed through Jimin's whole body, his tense muscles finally relaxing. The threat of possibly spending his night on Slovenian footpaths diminishing. He looked at Namjoon gratefully.
"Thank you", he smiled.
"You're welcome", the dark haired boy smiled back kindly.
"I don't know how I'm gonna repay y-"
"You don't have to", Namjoon stopped him. "It's really no problem".
"I-", Jimin opened his mouth to say more. "Thanks". He decided against it.
"Well, go on now. I need to go home too, you know?", Namjoon grinned playfully. Jimin smiled.
"Yeah", he paused. "Then...bye?"
"Bye", there was the dimple. Again.
Jimin turned around to head back in.
And turned around.
Namjoon was still standing there, watching him.
"Will I see you again?"
The taller boy looked a little shocked at the rather vulnerable looking blonde boy.
Jimin couldn't deny he had a fun day with Namjoon. He wanted to do it again. Atleast for the next two days. Having his company didn't seem all that bad.
"Maybe", a slow small smile creeped on Namjoon's face.
"Do you want me to?"
"I would...love to have a guide", Jimin let out a small smile. "Just in case, so I don't get lost again"
Namjoon looked a little abashed. And endeared. Or maybe Jimin was seeing things.
"Alright", the taller boy breathed. "I'll come by, tomorrow. How does 8 sound?"
"And we can go biking too."
"Okay.", Jimin smiled. "I'll see you then?"
Namjoon was glowing warmly. "Yeah. See you."
Jimin went inside. Namjoon walked away.
Later that night, as Jimin laid in his warm bed, comfortable and cozy, and recalled the whole encounter, he couldn't help but feel a little warm inside. He didn't question it.
He also remembered something.
He had forgotten to pay Namjoon back for his food.
He cursed his forgetfulness. It was getting slightly annoying how easily he'd began to forget things. But, there was a comfortable niche in the back of his mind. He didn't mind it. He was gonna see Namjoon in the morning anyways. He could always pay him back later.
He was gonna see Namjoon, a man he had only just met but felt very warm around, in the morning.
He felt giddy.
Jimin tried to mask his smile and turned over to settle in a more comfortable position to sleep.
Except....Namjoon didn't turn up the next morning like he had promised.
And waited some more.
But there was still no sign of the dark haired boy he had met the previous night.
He promised to show up at eight. It was almost ten o' clock now. The church bells rang loud and clear in the distance.
Jimin was starting to think Namjoon was really nothing but an imaginary friend. A figment of his imagination his mind conjured up in a sad moment of desperation. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Or did Namjoon lie? Did he not want to see Jimin anymore? Was Jimin too boring to hang out with?
The blonde boy couldn't help but feel his heart sinking a bit.
Not that he was looking forward to spending an eventful day with him or anything.
He picked up his backpack and unzipped it to reveal its contents. A map? Check. Water bottles? Check. Wallet? Check. His phone? Check.
Almost all the things he would require in case of emergency.
He sighed and got off the stairs in front of his hotel and dusted away dirt from his pants. Well, he could always just go out alone. Like he had been doing all this while.
Jimin ignored the disappointment resting in the pit of his stomach.
Wandering aimlessly, he tried to remember his way towards the lake and the bench he had visited the previous day. He was missing the place, a little too much.
His ears perked up at footsteps running behind him and he whooshed his head back just in time to step aside before the runner could bump into him and particularly break his nose.
"Not...the...most...elegant way to make an entry", the newly arrived boy panted, crouching and regaining his breath back. "But I tried."
Jimin blinked slowly once. Twice.
"Namjoon?", he couldn't believe it.
"It's Namjoon hyung to you, thank you very much", Namjoon straightened and grinned at him. He looked ghastly pale. And a little tired. But he still had that boyish, almost childlike glow to him. His eyes were just as warm under the daylight as they were at night time. Oh. And there were the dimples too. They looked pretty enough for Jimin to want to step forward and poke them.
Jimin tried to suppress the fluttering butterflies in his belly.
"You're late, hyung-nim", Jimin pointedly stated.
The butterflies didn't say he couldn't express his slightly upset mood, though.
Namjoon scratched his neck, nervously, his eyes forming apologetic crescents. "Ah, sorry"
He grimaced when Jimin didn't respond and stared at him blankly. "I...um got caught up with work"
Jimin sighed. "Okay", he started walking ahead. He didn't really know Namjoon all that well to be upset with him. He didn't have any right. Namjoon had his own life too.
"I'm really sorry.", Namjoon jogged up to match Jimin's pace, eyeing the smaller boy who looked a little too defeated.
"It's okay", Jimin mustered up a kind smile. "I feel bad for pulling you out like this when you have work"
Namjoon stared at him.
"You didn't force me, though. I came because I wanted to"
Jimin's heart did a sommersault.
Calm the fuck down, jesus.
"I see", his heart was hammering very unflatteringly. "Well? Are we going to stay here forever or are we moving on to the fun part, Mr Guide?"
Namjoon's full blown grin was worth the tease.
"Let's go", Namjoon chirped. He was dressed in a biege overcoat, brown boots and very baggy blue-washed jeans. Jimin thought it was a good contrast to his small form clad in black jeans, white t-shirt and grey hoodie. They were both seemingly suckers for comfortable attires.
"Where are we going?"
"We're going biking. You said you haven't done that yet, right?"
"Yeah", Jimin felt a little, just a little touched at Namjoon remembering the insignificant information he had shared last night.
"I know this really nice old man who rents bikes for three euros along the lake. I'm telling you", Namjoon grinned. "It's a whole another experience. Especially along the lake"
"Do you rent bikes often?", Jimin asked, looking curiously at the other boy
"Well...", the raven-haired fellow thought about his words, "Not always. Like, sometimes? When I need to think about some things?"
"Yeah. It's nice to bike when you're stressed. It gives a very refreshing feeling. Like a bird"
Jimin thought about his words. A slight amused smirk crawled up his lips. "So you like biking because you wanna be a bird?"
Namjoon stilled for a moment. And then he visibly wheezed at Jimin's conclusion. "No! I do not want to be a bird, Jesus", he laughed.
"I meant as in a simile. Biking feels like a gush of wind gliding through your body. It's very uplifting and feels like...like*freedom*, you know? Like how a bird flies.", he paused, realizing how absurd he must be sounding. "Oh god", Namjoon rubbed his face, a slow embarrassed pink dusted upon his ears, "how do I explain this without sounding weird?"
Jimin found his rambling cute.
And he also found his embarrassed blush cute.
He found Namjoon extremely cute. And endearing.
"It does sound weird", Jimin said. Namjoon's face dropped. "But it kind of also makes sense", Jimin chuckled. Namjoon brightened.
He was like a bulb. Cute.
You did not just call a bulb cute, Park Jimin.
"Ugh. You're the only one who has gotten my point. People say I'm a weirdo", Namjoon made a derp face.
"No offence, but I don't particularly disagree with that", Jimin deadpanned.
Namjoon faked hurt. "And here I thought I was finally gonna snatch myself up a pretty prince as a friend. You wound me deeply, Jiminie"
Stop, heart. Stop thumping so damn loudly.
Jimin tried not to let two things Joon said faze him.
One, he had called him a pretty prince. Again.
Two, he had just called him a nickname.
Wait, Joon? Where the hell did that come from?
Jimin shoved Namjoon slightly. "Yeah, okay. Do you want some med for that wound, Joon?"
He had vocalized the internally made up nickname.
Namjoon's face wore an unreadable expression.
He noticed the nickname.
And he split into a grin.
"I would love to but", Joon stood aside expanding his arms at the row of seven to eight bikes just beside a small accessory shop. "Tada!"
There was a chalk board sitting just between the row of bikes that read:
'Rent bike: 3€ for 1 hr
6€ for 2 hr
12€ for 5 hr'
Jimin raised an eyebrow. Namjoon just beckoned him to follow him inside the accessory shop. An old man, probably in his fifeties was busy scrubbing a few silver watches. He wore thick rimmed glasses and his receding hairline was almost pushed back to the middle of his skull. At the entrance of both the boys, the bell above them rang mellowly, making the old man look up.
"Joe! My man", Namjoon smiled warmly.
"Namjoon?", Joe, the old shop keeper squinted. His face morphed into that of familiarization and endeared delight for a split second before it changed back to the previous straight face.
It seemed like Namjoon was a very well known and familiar face around this place.
It was a small tourist spot after all. And all these people worked here, together. It was no wonder they knew each other.
"Yo", Namjoon waved.
Jimin hesitated to greet. "Hello".
"How are you?", Joe asked. His eyes flickered to the smaller boy for a fleeting moment before setting back on the warmly smiling taller boy.
"I'm good. You taking your meds on time?", Namjoon walked up behind the counter and opened the cashier drawers casually.
Jimin's jaw almost dropped. Was he allowed to do that? Surf through another person's shop like he was the owner?
He looked at Joe, who had a rather bored expression on his face, watching the raven still going through the drawers of his shop. Then he just went back to wiping the watches with the dirty cloth, occasionally dipping it in acetone.
"Don't police me, boy", the old man grunted. "Shouldn't you be asking yourself that?"
"Aye, don't be like that."
Joe just grunted in response.
"Take care of yourself, oldie. I would hate to see this place not carrying your gloom", Namjoon poked his head out, grinned and then went back to doing whatever the heck he was doing.
"I am not gloomy", Joe narrowed his eyes at Namjoon. "I simply like peace"
"Ofcourse, Joey, ofcourse"
Jimin heard jiggling of keys and then dropping of some coins. He glanced at the dimpled boy closing the cashier drawer and then walk out behind the counter.
The old ma-, he meant Joe, didn't even glance up.
"Well, I'm off. Same timing. Don't worry. I'll take care of your bikes and not drown them in the lake.", Namjoon counted on his fingers as if reciting the old same boring rules he had to follow.
"And not a scratch on my bikes or I'm suing you"
"Yes, sir. Have a great day", Namjoon saluted and then signaled Jimin to head out.
And just like that, they were outside back in the cold, slightly warm from the sun, air.
Jimin looked at Namjoon.
The taller boy just walked towards two red bikes to unlock them from their place.
"So...um...what was that?"
"Hmm", Namjoon looked up momentarily. "Oh, that? That's Joe, the owner of the shop"
"I think I got that down already, hyung", Jimin rolled his eyes. "I meant what was that? You casually going through his money?"
"Okay. Chill with the sass", Namjoon chuckled. He beckoned Jimin to come forward and take one of the unlocked bikes. "And I wasn't going through his money. I was just finding the keys to the locks and dropping the rent in there. I do that all the time now since I'm kind of a regular customer."
"And he's cool with it?"
"Yeah. Said he's tired of me barging in regularly for a bike key and that it hurts his back to get up that 'damn often' so,"
"Well," Jimin sucked on his bottom lip. "I'm kind of surprised how you were so casual with him. He didn't seem the most....*friendly*person out there"
Namjoon smiled a little sadly.
"Cut him some slack. Mans opened a shop here after his son tried to send him off to an old house for being an 'annoying' old man. He spent all his life savings on this place.", Namjoon walked towards the road specific for cycling with Jimin tailing after him. "He's a little cranky. A total pain in the butt, sometimes. But he's also sweet.", the dimple appeared. Namjoon grinned. "Which is very deep, deep, deep within. But it's there."
Jimin listened, thoughtfully. He felt guilty for judging the poor man on the basis of his behaviour.
He shouldn't have done that.
Namjoon sat on the bike and paddled a few strides away. Jimin followed suit.
They biked that way a little. In silence. Namjoon a little ahead of him. Watching the passerbys. Letting air hit their faces. Watching the lake glimmer in the sunlight. Letting the wind carress their hair out of their faces. Gazing at children running around and laughing. Staring momentarily at couples exchanging lovesick glances and whispering sweet things in each other's ears.
Jimin closed his eyes. He could understand why Namjoon would think it was equal to a bird flying.
Free. Careless. Independent. Without a worry in the world.
"Wanna race?", he snapped his eyes open at the thick raggedy voice and the suggestion it splayed out in front of him.
"You'll regret it", Jimin smiled.
"Oh?", Namjoon raised an eyebrow. "Cocky, are we?"
"Then, wanna bet on who wins?", there was a mischievious glint in those brown honey colored orbs.
Jimin felt his insides stir up in excitement and anticipation.
"Bring it on"
"Winner gets to chose the place we eat at?"
"Okay", Jimin nodded. "End destination?"
Namjoon looked around. "Hmm, that pole beside the small hotdog cart?"
Jimin located the said cart and burned the image in his brain. He was gonna win this one. He hadn't paid for the last meal either.
"On the count of three", Jimin paddled beside Namjoon and stopped.
"One, two, three!"
Jimin paddled as fast as he could. He could see the taller boy grin at him cheekily before he paddled ahead. Jimim cursed his short legs and raggedy lungs for giving out on him. It was almost there. The hotdog cart. He needed to do better.
Shit, shit, shit.
"Aw man, this sucks!", he whined. "I can't believe I lost."
"Told you, didn't I?", Jimin giggled. "You'd regret it."
He had won the race. Though, the game took a 180° round about almost at the end. It was nerve-wrecking but Jimin had made up his mind to win it no matter what.
Go big or go home.
He paddled as hard as he could and just threw his head down and paddled, paddled, paddled. It also helped a little that Namjoon underestimated him from his starting performance and had let down his guard.
"I mean I don't regret it. Seeing as you're so happy", Namjoon grinned cheekily. Jimin's legs almost gave out.
"You look nice when you smile"
Jimin choked a little. That was a random compliment.
"T-thanks?", he tried.
Momentary silence pursued between them.
"Ugh", Namjoon exclaimed suddenly, trying to look sad. "Now I gotta eat something sweet"
Jimin quirked an eyebrow. His blush was still clearly visible in the daylight no matter how much he fought it down. "And why would you assume I'll go for sweets?"
"I don't know? You just seem like a soft fluffy person who would like sweets.", Namjoon shrugged.
"What can I say? I have limited experience with soft fluffy dudes who giggle in rainbows"
"Are you flirting with me?"
The older boy choked.
Now it was his turn to blush slightly. "I don't know, you tell me"
Jimin tried to stay level headed. "Touchè".
Jimin was kind of digging his newly found confident self.
"Well, no more delaying now. I'm hungry.", Jimin stated.
"So where do you wanna go?", Namjoon asked, his eyes gleaming.
"I've heard of a very cute cafe here. I think it was....cafe Guzera? Or something?"
"Oh", recognization dawned on the tall boy's face. "I know that cafe. But I haven't gone there alot"
"You do know the way to it, though, don't you?"
"Then, let's go"
Both of them rode on their respective bikes and then cycled down the road. Namjoon lead the way around three alleyways and took a turn towards the left before a small cozy coffee shop came into their view. Jimin's nose slightly twitched as he sniffed the coffee aroma from afar. He smiled.
It was a very familiar aroma.
He loved the smell of coffee.
They got off their bikes and parked them on a side before both of them took a seat just by the window.
"Hello, how may I help you guys?", both the boys looked up at a pretty perked up brunette smiling down at them with a notepad and a pen in hand.
"Hello. Can we please have the menu?", Jimin said. He couldn't speak english that well but he could understand a few standard sentences and he had also memorized them too. Just in case.
Namjoon's eyebrows flew to his hairline in surprise and admiration.
"Ofcourse. I'll be right back", the brunette, Emily as her nameplate suggested, headed back in.
"So you can speak english too?", Namjoon asked as soon as the waitress disappeared.
"Not really", Jimin flapped his hands in dismissal. "I've just memorized a few words in case of emergency"
"Oh. Impressive, still".
It was a compliment. Jimin couldn't help but feel a little accomplished.
"Here you go. I'll give you guys time to decide. Call me if you need anything", Emily smiled politely again before she moved on to another set of customers.
Jimin's eyes grazed the menu contents. He was just looking at what the cafe offered. He had already decided what he wanted.
Iced Americano. And cream croissants.
He decided to lower the menu and tell Namjoon his order when his breath got caught in his throat at the older trying to make sense of the menu.
Full lips slightly jutted out in a pout. Eyes scanning each and every word and forming small crescents at the edges. Forehead slightly creased in concentration and sharp eyebrows deepening just a little. His silky black hair was almost covering his eyes.
Jimin wanted to carress them away and peck his cute forehead.
Woah, woah, woah, wait, what?
Jimin blushed slightly. At this rate, his blushing cells would overwork themselves and start to die little by little.
Feeling eyes on him, Namjoon lifted his head to a very red Jimin. "Everything okay?"
Jimin looked at him, taken aback. "O-oh, yeah. Everything's fine"
"Did you decide what you want?"
"Yeah. Cappacino and red velvet cake.", Jimin stated in panic.
That was not what he wanted to order. Fuck.
Namjoon raised his eyebrows a little. "Okay. I thought you said you weren't in for the sweets"
"I changed my mind"
He didn't. But it was too late to take back.
"And to think you slandered me for predicting you were into sweets", Namjoon shook his head. He raised his hand for the waitress to notice him and take his order. She came over immediately.
"So have you guys decided?", she looked at them expectantly. Namjoon smiled. "Yeah, we'll have a Cappacino and a slice of red velvet cake. And Iced Americano and cream croissants for me. Thank you"
Jimin's eyes almost widened.
Namjoon noticed. "What?"
"Iced Americano and croissants are for you?"
"No, they're for you", Namjoon deadpanned.
Jimin almost melted into a puddle. How did he kn-
"Ofcourse, they are for me. What? You wanna eat my stuff too?", Namjoon lazily smirked.
"What if, I do?", Jimin confidently leaned forward and put his head over his crossed hands.
"Oh?", Namjoon smirked and leaned forward too. "Then I'll just say 'too bad, it's mine', he whispered lowly.
It was the hottest thing ever. Jimin was getting dizzy from Namjoon's duality.
Jimin tried to roll with it as if he wasn't affected in the slightest.
"Okay, selfish prude", Jimin leaned back, rolling his eyes.
"I like the sass", Namjoon grinned, leaning back himself.
They waited for a few minutes before Emily, the waitress, came back with their respective orders. They both mumbled out a gleeful 'thank you'.
She placed the Americano in front of Namjoon and Cappacino in front of him and Jimin tried to discreetly eye the things he wanted to order but ended up ordering completely random shit.
Fuck his stupid flustered self.
"Wanna share?", Namjoon was looking at him expectantly.
Jimin paused. "With me?"
"No, with my grandmother's dead dog", Namjoon rolled his eyes.
"That's what you get for asking a dumb question. Ofcourse, with you"
"So? Do you wanna share?"
Jimin looked at Namjoon and then back at the food and then back at Namjoon. "I would love to", he slowly grinned.
He pushed his plate towards Namjoon and the dark-haired boy put a sugar covered cream croissant on his plate. Jimin did the same with his red velvet cake.
Jimin thought they couldn't possibly share the drinks because each of them already had gulped down the first sips. And well, it was theirs now. It would be weird for them to share drinks. Wasn't that what close friends did? Not newly made acquaintances. Certainly. Right?
But, he was sadly mistaken.
Jimin was busy trying to break the croissant gently into half before he saw Namjoon take a sip of his Iced Americano from the corner of his eye and then slide the drink towards Jimin and take Jimin's coffee cup.
Jimin stopped wrecking the poor croissant and raised an eyebrow at Namjoon.
"What?", Namjoon raised his own eyebrows at the questioning eyes of the blonde boy.
"That's my coffee", Jimin deadpanned.
"You're drinking my coffee?"
"We decided to share, didn't we?"
"Yeah, but", Jimin tried not to blush. Goddamnit. He needed to stop blushing at everything. It was*not*flattering.
Except, it was. To the one sitting in front of him but he couldn't possibly know that.
"Hurry up and eat. We gotta keep moving"
Jimin decided to keep his mouth clamped shut and just stop overthinking everything. He took a bite into the soft croissant, almost making the cream inside ooze out.
He slightly hesitated before moving the straw of the Iced Americano into his mouth and slurp it up a little. Namjoon was too busy eating his croissants to notice the flamingly red boy sitting with him.
It's not an indirect kiss. Please stop overthinking.
And they kept eating and drinking silently. Occasionally, sparking a random conversation of 'So how long have you lived here?' to 'What's your favourite color?' to 'Bro, no offence if you're into that shit but mint chocolate is gross. I said what I said'
And all throughtout the conversation and the bitter coffee that left a warm aftertaste and the sweet soft delicacies that melted in his mouth, Jimin enjoyed his time to the fullest. Namjoon's company was something he probably didn't think he needed until he got the taste of it. The man certainly had his way with words. And he was a pretty man too. And he was genuinely just so endearing and cute and a little goofy but very ado-
Okay, that was enough.
Namjoon was sorta cool. Yeah.
"I wanna pay"
"No. You're a guest"
"What does that mean? I'm a capable man"
"I never said you weren't but you don't have to"
"You paid last night too. I would hate myself if I kept using you like this"
"Literally no one is using anyone. I-"
"I. Will. Pay.", Jimin's voice was stoic and fierce and left no room for arguement. He will NOT have Namjoon pay for his shit anymore.
"But we can do half ha-", Namjoon stopped at Jimin's cold stare. The blonde boy lowkey gave him slight jitters.
Kinky? Uh, no.
"Fine", he gave up. There was no point in arguing anymore. He wasn't gonna budge anyways.
"So where to, next?", Jimin asked after he had paid for their sweets & coffee adventure. He felt a huge weight of potential free-loading off his shoulders.
"Hmm, I don't have anything in mind. You've already done boating. And you've seen the church. We've done biking too. And we've eaten", Namjoon listed off. "I'm kind of out of ideas. This place doesn't offer that much"
Jimin thought about his options. They could always do spontaneous stuff. And he didn't want to experience anything extravagant. He came there because he wanted to appreciate the little things and just get out of the loop of his depressive life.
They were walking along the small shops offering a variety of souvenirs to the tourists now. They had returned their bikes after the few hours they had paid for. The old man, who ran by the name of Joe but Jimin just seemed to address him as the old man, didn't look up when they entered the shop to return the keys of the bikes. The taller boy beside him smiled at Joe, made a few jokes of him being a boring single old man with Joe shooting a dead stoic look without malice his way and mumbled a thank you before exiting with a 'see you later, oldie!'
The old man just grunted in response.
"How about that vintage shop?", Jimin pointed out at the small shop that was just a few steps away from them.
It seemed promising.
"Well, we could check it out if you want. We have time till the sun goes down", Namjoon eyed the shop before his eyes settled on Jimin who was still gazing at the shop intently. It was almost evening now.
"Let's go, then"
It was a cute little shop with a variety of small things to offer. Keychains, stationary, cute furry dolls, pens, a few church goods, spooky dolls, small wine bottles, wooden figurines, lomo cards etc. Jimin glanced at everything inside with awe and reverence. The owner, who sat behind a desk in the corner, greeted them with a smile and then went back to stitching up his newly made doll. It was a rag doll. Jimin looked at the middle-aged black man go about his way with the needle with uncanny expertise.
"Jimin!", Namjoon called out. Jimin's attention reverted back to the boy who had called him. The raven haired boy was standing at the other corner, leaning forward slightly and gazing at something particularly in wonder. Jimin walked over to him.
"Look!", Namjoon showed him a pair of cute keychains. They were some sort of animated characters. A yellow hoodie wearing kind of a bear? Cat? Dog? with its tongue out and a blue koala with a purple nose. The yellow one had 'chimmy' written on it while the blue one had 'koya' written under it.
"This one looks like you", Namjoon grinned and shoved Chimmy into Jimin's face. "And this one looks like me"
And it kind of did. The droopy eyes. The cute button nose. The fluffiness.
Namjoon tried to mimick the sleepy blue koala, making a sleepy derp face. Jimin laughed out loud. "It does look like you"
"I'm gonna buy these", Namjoon looked down at the keychains and smiled. Jimin smiled at the sight.
They walked to the counter. The owner was almost finished with his doll. He put the remaining work aside and greeted them again with a smile. Namjoon conversed lightly with him and they both walked out with the newly bought cute keychains.
"You keep this", Namjoon handed him a little package.
"Wait", Jimin furrowed his eyebrows slightly. "Isn't this the keychain you bought right now?"
"It is", the raven nodded. "I want you to have it."
Jimin took out the little gift he received. It was Koya. The blue koala.
"I'm gonna keep this", Namjoon jiggled the yellow keychain and smiled.
"Well, just so we can both remember this time we spent together as a good memory."
And Jimin didn't know why but the simple gesture touched him so damn hard. It was so kind and gentle and sweet in the simplest way possible. Literally a bare minimum. It was just exchanging small keychains. Nothing over the top. But....
But Namjoon's smile and his eyes and his warmth just felt so, so genuine.
Jimin wanted to bawl.
He had never seen a man like Kim Namjoon.
"You're...", Jimin couldn't find the right words, "really something, aren't you?"
That's not what he wanted to say.
He wanted to say stuff like 'you're so sweet and kind, how are you real?' or 'Man, stop being so awesome, I'm not okay with this' or 'Honestly, just marry me at this point'.
But he couldn't possibly say that. He didn't have the guts.
He wished he did.
"So I've been told", Namjoon just grinned. Jimin smiled, fondly.
"Wait a second", Jimin shrugged off his backpack and then slowly, gently unpacked the keychain. He shoved the bag into Namjoon's arms who looked alarmingly startled at the sudden movements and hooked the keychain to the zipper of his bag.
He smiled at the bright sky blue colored keychain. A proof of a good memory. Rememberence of a good person.
But something hollow slid it's way into Jimin's veins. Something cold and brutal and gnawingly empty. It was also a sign of their limited time together.
Before Jimin left Namjoon. To go back to where he came from. An end to these days full of warm dreams and bright giggles.
Just one day, left.
And though Jimin decided to ignore the growing dull ache in his chest as he tried to smile at a confused Namjoon and took his bag back, the hollow feeling just dug deeper into the pit of his stomach. He felt like throwing up.
"You okay?", Namjoon asked, voice gentle and eyes worried.
And he wanted to cry his eyes out. It hurt. The burn in his heart grew more and more. It was painful. Jimin decided to ignore it too.
A coward. That's what he was, anyways. All he knew was running away.
"I'm okay", Jimin smiled.
"So where do you wanna go?", Namjoon asked.
"Nowhere in particular"
"Do you wanna sit down somewhere?"
"Yeah, ofcourse. We can just sit at the benches near the lake. That, okay?", Namjoon still had those glassy worried eyes. He was suddenly very gentle and tentative at the sudden mood change. He didn't know how to deal with it. Was it something he said? Did he fuck up?
"Yes. Thank you", Jimin smiled reassuringly. Though, it was a small smile and he wasn't really sure if Namjoon saw it, considering the growing dark.
Jimin followed Namjoon to the nearest bench that almost overlooked the lake surrounded by massive green hills. The streetlights shined and reflected off the surface of the water. It was immensely intimidating and calming at the same time.
"Pretty tranquil, isn't it?", Namjoon said. Jimin turned his head and blinked at the boy beside him who was staring off into space, blankly. The moon was pretty bright that night and the way it lit up the bigger boy's side profile made him look all the more warm and kind of....ethereal.
Jimin nodded and looked straight ahead. "Yeah"
Silence fell upon them again. Each boy recoiling back into the bubble of their own thoughts and apprehensions and fears and their inner turmoils. Jimin's ears rang from the overbearing quite.
He thought about the day he had spent with Namjoon and how much he loved doing the simplest things with him. And he also recalled how much joy he had felt in a while doing the most wholesome yet very insignificant things with the said boy.
It scared him.
The silence stretched on.
And on. Until.
"It wasn't work", Namjoon countered, suddenly.
"Hmm?", his eyes snapped up at the dark haired boy who was still staring off into space.
"It wasn't work, today", Namjoon repeated. "That held me back when I was late this morning". His voice had a strange restraint to it.
Jimin's chest tightened.
But he didn't say anything. He just kept quite.
"I....", maybe it was Jimin's false assumption or maybe it really happened but Namjoon's eyes became glassy as he swallowed the lump in his throat. "I..um..was at a hospital"
"And I have absolutely no clue why I'm telling you this", he let out the saddest chuckle ever, maybe to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe it was to make himself feel at ease. Maybe it was even for Jimin to laugh off with. But it only made things worse. Jimin felt numb again. Just listening to what the other boy wanted to say, the boy he was shamefully falling a little too hard for and a little too fast to comprehend.
He wanted it to stop.
"But I feel like talking it out, you know?", Namjoon looked at him. The sad smile on his face pulled at something inside Jimin. "I will understand if you don't want to listen, though. You don't have to. No one has to. I don't want to bore you with my sob story and I'm sorry-", he swallowed again.
Jimin's heart thrummed.
It was happening too quick. What was going on? Why was Namjoon at the hospital? Was he ill? Cold? Flu? And why was he having such a hard time saying something? Why was Jimin's stomach pooling with dread, his gut making red alarms go off?
Jimin reached out his hand, hesitatingly and covered Namjoon's trembling ones.
"I'll listen. As a friend. As a stranger. Whatever you want", he heard himself say. Which was weird. Because he didn't think he was processing anything fast enough for him to comprehend and respond respectively. "Why were you at the hospital, Joon?", he asked looking into the older boy's eyes tentatively. Voice almost as gentle as a feather. Scared that if he talked in a tone above a whisper, he'll break the trembling boy who looked smaller than he ever did before. Vulnerable.
"For my check up", Namjoon looked at the smaller boy's hand resting on his, giving off the kind of warmth he thought he had probably lost and back to Jimin's sincere but curious eyes.
"My liver. I have chronic liver cancer"
Jimin's ears rang.
It was like all of a sudden, someone just pushed him into the water. Tied a big giant rock to his feet and then threw him off into the depths of silent water. Was he choking? He didn't think so. He wanted to, though. Maybe the water choking him would give him a sensation. Burn his lungs from lack of oxygen or hurt his limbs for pushing too hard to get away from his predicatement.
Anything. But the numbness he felt run from his head to his feet and ooze out of his toes.
And it was so painfully quite. His eyes just saw absolutely darkness. Nothingness.
Was his heart working? He couldn't really confirm. Was it beating okay? Because all that Jimin felt was a faint dull throb, a slight aching pull in his chest. Was that his heart? It felt hollow, though. Hollow. Empty. Cold. But painful.
"You....have c-cancer?", Jimin asked, disbelief clogging his throat.
Namjoon's lips trembled. Jimin could see that. Jimin could also see how it wasn't hard for Namjoon to say that he had cancer, as if he was talking about the weather. But he felt nervous energy from him. As if. As if Namjoon was scared Jimin would pull his warm hands back and ask him if Namjoon was okay and give him a sympathetic look and move on with a 'Sucks to be you, mate. I'm sorry'
"Surprise, surprise, it's chronic too", the raven tried to make a joke. His small smile faltered at Jimin's still form. He squeezed his hand.
"Was that....why you were pale too?"
Namjoon's eyes mirrored surprise and slight appreciation because maybe he didn't expect Jimin to be that observant.
Jimin squeezed Namjoon's hand. Namjoon smiled at him, slightly.
"I'm cool with it.", the dimpled boy sighed. "I've learnt to live with it. It's shortened my life from 80 years to five months. Two months left, by the way.", he smiled as he patted Jimin's leg that was now almost touching his own. "But I'm okay."
That's all Namjoon had to him.
Only two months.
Jimin's heart hurt.
"Stop lying", Jimin stated, sniffing a little. His voice wavered slightly. But he stopped himself. Namjoon decided to tell him something, a whole stranger, a person he knew for a day, his most personal information. And Jimin had a feeling he was not looking for tears or sympathy or sadness.
He just wanted to talk. Get it out of the way. Acknowledge it.
Maybe that's why he told Jimin.
Because when you say things out loud, that's when things really start to get real.
And it's scary. Intimidating. Very uncomfortably frightening.
But it's one step to acceptance.
"What?", Namjoon looked baffled.
"I said, stop lying to yourself. You're not okay with it. No one's okay with dying, Jesus christ", Jimin countered. His breath was slightly uneven. Slightly. Hard to notice. But still there. Because his heart was hurting so fucking much and he wanted to run away or jump in the goddamn lake or scream his lungs out because it was hurting, god fucking damnit.
Namjoon swallowed. So many emotions flashed through his eyes. Surprise. Shock. Apprehension. Denial. Sadness. Guilt.
His eyes glossed over. "You're right", he whispered. "I'm fucking terrified", he laughed breathily.
Another pause. His hands trembled. And his lips trembled. His body felt like it was gonna crack and combust into a thousand million fragments.
"I'm scared out of my wits.", he mulled over silently. "Because I still haven't experienced so many things. And I'm still so young. I have no accomplishments to my name. And I have my mom, who's gonna shatter when I leave and I have friends I don't want to say goodbye to yet because I wanna make more memories with them. And I have my dog, Rapmonnie, who still waits for me no matter how long I stay away for my treatments and he welcomes me brightly everytime I come home. I can't leave him. Heck, I haven't even gotten a bouqet of roses from my crush yet. I can't die. Not yet", a single hot silent tear left his eye.
Jimin's heart clenched tightly and his throat clogged up with something rock hard and hot and painful and so, so difficult to swallow down.
But all he could do was squeeze the older boy's hands.
"But it's sick. It's unfair. Because I don't get a say in it, Jimin", he shot a tearful smile Jimin's way and it just....shattered everything in him. "I don't have any say in it", he whispered.
Jimin enveloped the shaking boy into a warm hug. He hugged him as tightly as he could to offer whatever comfort he could manage to convey with his smaller frame.
And they stayed like that. Just two souls seeking comfort in each other.
"Will you be okay?", Jimin asked, concern lacing every word that came out of his mouth.
After their....encounter, they had just sat by the lake in silence. Not uttering a word. Just sitting by each other. Basking in each other's presence. Recalling everything that had happened. Their fingers still interlocked as if to confirm that the other person was right there, beside them. And they were as real as one could get.
"Yeah", Namjoon grinned. Though, his bloodshot eyes and pink sniffling nose had another story to tell. "And I'm already very embarrassed. I need to go die in a ditch or something", he scratched his neck awkwardly.
Jimin's heart tugged at the casual use of the D-word.
"Not that I'm not gonna die from liver failure already but-", Namjoon grimaced when he observed his dark joke was not appreciated by the smaller blonde boy. If the frown was anything to go by.
"It's....okay.", What could Jimin possibly say instead? "You don't have to feel embarrassed. You're just a human. You needed that"
Namjoon's gaze softened. "Yeah, but it was unfair to dump it all on you."
"I didn't mind, though. I would love to be your emotional rant outlet anytime"
"Okay. Marry me, already", Namjoon chuckled. Jimin tried not to flush.
Jimin was ready to act like before if it meant seeing Namjoon get comfortable around him again. He had been extra tense and slightly distanced after his outburst.
"Too bad, I don't have a thing for noodle men", Jimin shot a small smile his way.
Namjoon faked hurt. "Low blow, Park Jimin, low blow"
Jimin giggled, slightly.
They stood outside Jimin's hotel, just smiling at each other.
"Have plans for tomorrow?", the oh so sweet dimple appeared again. Jimin was a goner.
"Not really. Do you?"
"Nope. Wanna hang out again and share an emotional outburst tomorrow too?"
"I would love to", Jimin smiled sweetly.
"Okay. Come by, at cafe Delamere. 2pm. Two roads down this alley. I work there.", Namjoon smiled back and turned around to walk away.
"I'll see you, then!", Jimin shot at Namjoon's retreating figure.
Namjoon stilled, turned back and mumbled out a "sure!" before walking away.
Jimin's eyes softened. His smile fell off, almost instantaneously. And although he didn't notice when or how but still, a silent stray tear escaped his eye and slid across his cheek and dropped on his shirt as reality slowly settled in the niche of his mind.
"Got here fine?", Namjoon loomed over while Jimin sat in the central booth. The taller boy looked especially beautiful today. Dressed in a plain, white crisp dress shirt and comfortable black slacks with a white and black striped apron securely wrapped around his lean waist. Eyes still the same sparkling crescents. Smile still as radiating as the sun. The same comforting warmth surrounding him.
"Yeah", Jimin smiled.
"I'm glad", Namjoon breathed.
The cafe was cozy. Slightly spacious but still very warm and home-y. The smell of coffee and freshly baked cookies wafting into Jimin's nose as he inhaled deeply. Wooden floors and overall a very chic place. Jimin kind of approved silently. It was nice.
"Well? Do you wanna eat something? Coffee?", the dimpled boy fished around in his pocket and came up with a notepad and pen. Though, in the haste of his struggle, the pen slipped out of his hand and landed on Jimin's lap.
"Ah-", Namjoon bent down to pick it up, his fingers slightly brushing against Jimin's...crotch. Both the boys' eyes widened. "I'm sorry!", Namjoon flushed, turning his head and coming face to face with Jimin's.
Namjoon was so close. His breath, slow and relaxed, fanned across Jimin's heated face. Jimin's eyes locked onto Namjoon's and he just....wanted to die. His gaze was so piercing. His eyes were a very pretty shade of brown, Jimin noticed. Almost like the color of honey and chocolate, mixed. And he had such long eyelashes. He had a little mole just under his bottom lip. And his lips....they looked so plushy and soft and so kissable.
Jimin's heart beat almost choked him. He flushed.
Namjoon picked the pen, still blushing a deep red, and straightened. He cleared his throat. "Well, um, that was awkward.", he croaked. "Sorry."
"Oh", Jimin laughed nervously, "it's fine".
Jimin's fast pacing heart was telling another story.
Upon seeing Jimin's confused, hazy stare, Namjoon smiled slightly. "Your order?"
Realization dawned on the blonde boy. "I'll have Iced Americano and...", he thought back to the offer Namjoon gave him and he grinned up at him, "your infamous cherry pie."
"You remember?", Namjoon looked kind of endeared and a little blown away.
Jimin giggled. "Ofcourse I do. I'll try the apple pie next time."
Jimin's gut splashed with cold water at Namjoon's sudden twist in his face expression. His genuine smile faltered into an almost...sad one. It was a normal smile. One you wouldn't notice is a sad smile at all. But Jimin had noticed something about Namjoon and his different types of smiles.
When he genuinely smiled, his mouth formed a U. Like, his eyes almost shut close. And his ear twitched, just the slight bit.
But when he sad smiles, nothing really....changes in his facial expression. Except maybe his lips, that quirk up slightly. Only the edges lifting up. But they look so forced and struggling and just...wrong.
And his ear doesn't twitch.
So, it hit him a bit in the intestines, when the mood turned....dark. All of a sudden.
Jimin realized his mistake.
He thinks there won't be a...a next time.
"Got it. Just give me five minutes. My shift also ends in-", Namjoon looked at his watch, "fifeteen minutes."
"Okay. I can wait that long"
And then Namjoon left Jimin to entertain himself while he worked his order. Jimin sighed.
He was tired. Exhausted. Not necessarily physically. But just...
He didn't know how to give his feelings a cloth of words.
Five minutes and he could see Namjoon putting together his coffee and pie before the dark-haired boy walked towards him.
"Here you go. Bon appetite.", Namjoon smiled and walked to another table of customers.
Jimin smiled and mumbled a small 'thank you'. He wasn't particularly hungry. But he did want to try Namjoon's recommendations. From where he was sitting, he could see Namjoon's back, his tall frame almost covering one of the customers that had come in a pair.
Jimin noticed how Joon's shoulders flexed under the tight shirt. How his frame slightly shook when he giggled. His undercut looked clean and neat and it made his small head look especially adorable from the back. He had small ears. They were kind of cute.
Everything about Namjoon was cute. And warm. So warm.
He bit into the crust of the pie. The flavor of the biscuit and cherry combined burst a bubble of sweet and sour flavors in his mouth. He took a sip of his Iced Americano.
"Did you like the stuff you had?"
"Hmm? Oh yeah, it was very delicious. Thank you"
"It's cool", he paused, "Come on, my shift's over. Let's get out of here."
Namjoon took Jimin's hand and stuttered out of the cafe. Jimin tried not to concentrate a little too much on the interlocked fingers. Especially the ones that oozed out warmth into his own and made his insides extra tingly and his toes curling.
No, stop. Stop thinking.
"Where are we going, today?", Jimin asked.
Namjoon turned. "Nowhere in particular. Just the lake. I think you like the lake the most. So..."
Jimin did like the lake the most. It gave him a sense of calmity. Tranquility. Peace.
Something that he still lacked in his life.
"Is it okay? Did you have something else in mind?", Namjoon queried. Their hands were still linked. Jimin wondered if Namjoon was just as affected by the small gesture as Jimin was.
Jimin felt stupid. Like a schoolboy experiencing having a crush on someone for the first time.
"Not really. I just wanna feed the ducks there."
Namjoon laughed. A low mellow reverberating sound. Deep. Comforting. And so very endearing. One that would leave the warmest fluid flowing in your veins and then dancing into your insides. Like hot chocolate in the coldest of the winters.
"I've got some bread crumbs in my bag. We can use those", Namjoon grinned at Jimin.
And Jimin nearly cried.
Because his ear twitched. It was genuine.
He was such a whipped bastard.
The ducks were waddling around. White and grey. Like polka dots. A few swans swam along the lake's edge. Some of the passerbys stopped to take their aesthetic pictures for their instagrams and whatnot. Sun shining through the white fluffy clouds, the bluish green lake glimmered majestically.
It waa truly a scene out of a movie.
Namjoon and Jimin sat down on the wooden boards pushed out a little into the lake and dangled their legs off it's edge, just above the water.
Their hands were now by their own sides but Jimin could still feel the sensation of Namjoon's fingers wrapped around his own, their ghost underlying and very real.
Jimin peeked at the boy beside him from the corner of his eyes. Namjoon was silently staring off into the lake.
He did that alot too. Stared off into space as if there were just so many thoughts circling his mind. Like a tree and it's branches just stretching out and dividing continuously. And he had the desire to give each of them a seperate place in his brain, giving them attention individually. To analyse them and form a conclusion. Yet, they were just so hard and difficult to comprehend for him, much less form a conclusion of them.
Jimin stared at the water below.
The words from last night still made his hollow heart ache.
Liver cancer. Chronic. Two months.
And Jimin couldn't really pinpoint the reason why he was just...so...devastated.
He didn't want to move that morning. All he did was wallow in...what? Sadness? Despondency? Mournfulness?
What was he mourning?
He had known Namjoon for two days. Sure, he should be feeling sympathetic. He should even feel bad for the poor young boy.
But he felt more than the obligated sympathetic feelings he was supposed to experience.
It wasn't fair.
Namjoon was still so young. And so nice. He had such a unique way of thinking and talking and carrying himself. He was genuinely such a beautiful soul. He was kind and friendly.
He deserved to live a long, happy, healthy life. Only waiting for death at the age of 90 when he would be wrinkly and his knees would hurt and his grandkids would come and tease him for whining about his aching bones.
Not like this.
Not this young, just waiting for the two months to be over and preparing his last speech for the people he loves and making plans of how his tomb would look like and what he would like to write on that.
Jimin wiped a tear discreetly. He couldn't cry. He wouldn't cry.
"Jimin?", Namjoon turned his head to look at the smaller boy. His eyes were glassy. "What's wrong? Is everything okay?"
"Yeah", he tried to smile. "Something just went in my eye", he rubbed his eyes to prove his point.
Namjoon's eyes softened. As if he knew Jimin was lying through his teeth. As if he knew what Jimin was actually thinking.
"I see", he took Jimin's hand in his big one. "Tell me something". He smiled.
Jimin looked up at him quizzically. "What is it?"
"Tell me something about yourself. Anything, really", he said, looking out at the far hill then he turned back to Jimin, "How you live your normal life. And. Stuff"
Jimin's breath hitched.
Namjoon wanted to know more about him.
"I...live a normal life, back in Korea I mean.", Jimin started, staring at the hand Namjoon's own fingers were playing with. "I have my parents back home. And a few close friends...um"
"What do you do there? Your hobbies? Anything you like?", Namjoon encouraged.
"I dance. I mean I take a few singing classes too. But, um, dance is my major. And you know, I like sweets"
Namjoon laughed and nodded. "Yeah, I've got that down"
"And well...that's all I guess. Pretty boring, huh?"
"Not really. I think you're very talented and amazing for managing to do all that", Namjoon smiled. Admiration and perhaps, Jimin was seeing things, but he saw adoration in those brown orbs too.
"T-thanks, I guess?"
"So, tourist Park Jimin, what made you want to suddenly explore the world?"
"Nothing special really", Jimin countered.
"That can't be it", Namjoon looked a little skeptical. "There's always a trigger. Look around you", he pointed out at the random onlookers.
"All of these people", his gaze sauntered over the clutter of tourists surrounding them, "each one of them has a reason to be here. Some are here to have a vacation. Some here for honeymoons. Some to take a breather. Some to rebond. And some...are even here to find themselves"
To find themselves, huh?
"Precisely", Namjoon bemused. Jimin hadn't realized he had vocalized his thoughts.
"So, what are you here for?"
Jimin tensed. Maybe it would seem like a simple question to an outsider. Just a harmless curious query. Nothing more. Nothing less.
But it was such an intimidating question for Jimin. It was like Namjoon asked him to strip off his clothes and entrust himself to him with his vulnerable naked form. But instead of body, it was like he wanted Jimin to entrust him with his secrets. His emotions.
And it kind of made Jimin scared.
Because he had no idea how to answer it.
"I...", he began, seemingly struggling to find coherent words.
"Take your time. You don't have to answer if you don't want to."
But Jimin did want to answer. Because he was searching for the answer himself. And to say it out loud would solidify his reasons. Make them either sound really dumb or really validated.
Jimin sighed. Namjoon smiled and squeezed his hand.
"I...came here to find peace", Jimin slumped a little.
"To find peace?"
Jimin nodded. "Yeah"
Jimin took a deep breath before he answered, "I've always been all sorts of normal. Normal parents. Normal grades. Normal friends. I've never experienced anything too hard in my life-"
"-but recently, I began to feel so empty. So lost? You can say", Jimin looked up to see Namjoon nodding in understanding. "I didn't know what I was doing. Why I was doing things the way I was doing them. What even was the point. It kind of....became a hurdle to get out of bed", he sighed, remembering all the things he felt.
"It became so...stiffling. Being in the same routine. The same cycle of everyday life. Work. Family. Friends. Work. Sleep. Repeat. I just....felt shackled. Unmotivated. Uninspired to do a single thing. But....nothing was wrong, though?", Jimin looked at Joon as if the boy would have his answers.
"It happens, Jimin", Namjoon looked at him tentatively, "daily life...can sometimes be very robotic. A constant never-ending cycle. And it can be...draining. So your feelings are validated, okay?"
"But I felt so hollow. Like there was nothing wrong? My family was nice. My friends were cooperative. I was doing what I loved. Then why? Why did I feel so...empty? Cold?"
Namjoon remained quite.
"I felt lost. I still feel that way. But, coming here has helped me. In a number of ways. And um..you've also helped. I think...I just needed some time to myself and my surroundings.", Jimin watched his dangling legs and the surrounding ducks coming nearer to them.
"Here", Namjoon handed him some bread crumbs as they both threw them at the birds.
A momentary silence filled spaces between them. Both engrossed by the words spoken recently.
"I must sound like such a dumbass to you", Jimin covered his face in embarrassment.
Namjoon's slender warm fingers cinched his hands away from his face. "No", he shook his head and shot a small smile his way. "I understand."
"Here's my take on this", Namjoon said. "You're human and at some point, we all feel that way. Lost. Nowhere to go. Stuck. And you know what? That's okay."
"Yeah. It's okay. Almost all of us feel hollow, sometimes. Like...there's something wrong but when you look at it, there's nothing wrong? So you keep wondering if there's something wrong with you? And that sucks", Namjoon squeezed his hand and smiled. "But believe in yourself that even if there's something wrong, you can fix it."
Jimin felt like crying.
Namjoon's words hit him. Hard.
"Then...why don't you believe in yourself?"
Namjoon looked taken aback. "What do you mean?"
A tear left Jimin's eye. "Why do you...look like you've given up?"
"Why...do you look like you've just accepted things as they are?"
Namjoon's gaze softened. A slight, almost painful smile masked his lips as he brought his hand to Jimin's cheek and slowly but so sweetly wiped it away.
"Why are you crying, Jimin?", he breathed softly.
"Answer the question, Joon", he whispered.
Except Namjoon didn't answer the question. He got up, silently and patted his jeans and pulled a trembling Jimin up. "Come on, I feel like doing something"
"Please, Jimin? Today's your last day here, right? Let's make it count"
Jimin's words died in his clogging throat. His lungs were burning but something, just something, in Namjoon's eyes or his smile was just so-
As if he wanted to forget for a day about his condition and just spend happy moments with Jimin.
As if he wanted to make as many happy memories as possible.
So he could finally...
The air between them felt heavy as they walked, a clear distance between them, but Namjoon's stance stated that he did not want to hold further discussions about himself nor his....state.
He saw Namjoon stop by a florist and buy two blossom flower crowns. He gave the lady a few coins and thanked her before he grinned and walked back to Jimin.
"Here", he stepped forward to place one of the flower crowns on Jimin's head. Jimin held his breath as he came face to face with Namjoon's chest. It mesmerized him, the constant rise and fall of it. Life. In Namjoon. Jimin bit his lip. He tried not to smell Namjoon's faint cologne or feel his body warmth because if he got even a little familiar with it, he would never be able to part away from the raven haired boy that had somehow made his way into Jimin's heart.
"Pretty", Namjoon breathed as he stepped back and gazed at the blonde boy softly. It sent shivers down Jimin's small frame.
Namjoon put the other flower crown on himself and grinned.
Jimin thought he looked so...beautiful. Like a gentle prince. Glowing. Radiant. And so pretty.
"Look there's a guy with a guitar there. Wanna take a look?", Namjoon pointed out.
Jimin followed his line of sight and fair enough, there was a man playing guitar on the street. A few people dropped coins in front of him. Some stood on the sidelines, watching and bopping. Some passed, continuing to mind their own business.
It was his last day. Might as well take all the experiences he could get before he went back home.
His heart strings tugged painfully.
They reached the guitar guy. Jimin stepped forward and dropped a few euros in the guy's moneybox. The guitarist smiled in gratitude. Jimin smiled back.
A hand made itself visible to Jimin's eyes. He traced the arm back to Namjoon who was smiling down at him as he extended his hand out, "Jimin, wanna dance?"
"But you said you're a dancer."
"But I'm not a street dancer."
"Come on. Don't be a sour puss."
Jimin hesitated but before he could refuse more, Namjoon took his hands and dragged him in to dance slightly. He put Jimin's hands on his shoulders while he put his own hands on Jimin's waist. It burned where Namjoon touched him. His face blasted into a red heated mess.
"Don't be so stiff now. Move", Namjoon grinned. Jimin loosened his stance a little as he swayed his body to Namjoon's rythm.
It was disturbing. How Jimin couldn't think about anything else but how well he fit into Namjoon's arms.
He was so creepily delusional.
"Aww, you guys are so cute!", a lady shot at them. Jimin flushed. Namjoon chuckled. "Thank you!", he shot back.
"Oof, she thinks we're cute. I say we're hot", Namjoon smirked.
Jimin giggled. "Shut up. We're not even a thing"
"Do you wanna be?"
Jimin's breath hitched. The taller boy gave a lazy loopsided grin at the smaller boy's blushing face.
"Oops", Namjoon grinned. "Sorry."
They goofily danced for a while. Joking and laughing. Forgetting the heaviness that was hanging over their heads, not too long ago. Before both of them got tired and decided to move on.
"I like you", Namjoon stated out of nowhere as they both sat at a small pub. Evening had proceeded. It wasn't really a pub. More like a...drinking cafe, if you must. A few lighted bulbs illuminating the small space. Jimin could hear a gathering in the back laughing and cheering. It was too casual to be called a pub.
Jimin choked on his lemonade.
Namjoon chuckled and patted Jimin's back. "I mean I like your company. I like spending time with you. So, yeah," he grinned,"I'm prolly gonna miss you around here."
"Oh.", Jimin coughed a little. "Well...I'll miss this place too."
"Not me?", Namjoon pouted.
You, out of all the things, I'll miss the most.
"Well, good to know. I hope you enjoyed your stay here."
"I did", Jimin paused, "Thanks to you."
"Aww, don't make me soft, I'll cry", Namjoon wiped a fake tear and grinned at Jimin cheekily. "So, when are you leaving?"
"Uh....tomorrow? 5 am because my flight back to Korea is 8 am"
Silence. Both the boys sipped on their drinks. The threat of separation and reality deeply rooted between them, almost morphing into an uninvited third wheel.
"Want me to help out with the cab and stuff?"
Jimin looked up, slightly surprised. "You don't have to."
"I want to", Namjoon smiled. "As a friend."
As a friend.
"Oh. Yeah, sure", Jimin tried not to let his disappointment show as he sipped his lemonade.
"Jimin? I brought cab for you. Are you ready?", Namjoon knocked. Jimin had told him to come up and knock at his room door when the cab was down.
"Yeah. Just a sec!", he called out.
He turned back to his balcony and gazed at the scenery in front of him, clutching his sweater in anticipation and anxiety. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath.
For the last time, he was breathing in this air. Tomorrow, it would be another place. Not this one.
Not where Namjoon lived.
Double-checking his pockets and picking up his phone, Jimin opened the door. Namjoon was slightly leaning against the door frame but he straightened up when he heard the shuffling noises of Jimin's footsteps growing closer.
"Ready?", Namjoon breathed as he silently took in Jimin's flushed face and pink nose.
Namjoon's face softened. "It's okay"
Jimin looked up, masked sadness clear as day in his eyes. "Will I be able to see you again?"
The taller boy smiled a small soft smile. His eyes held a painful glimmer. Like whatever he was about to say was nothing but a mere words to soothe the boy. Like they held no weight but he had to say them. To ease the smaller boy's anxious nerves. Nothing more than a bare necessity.
"Maybe", Namjoon smiled. It was hollow. "Who knows? Maybe I'll come crash at your place in Korea"
"You're always welcome, just so you know", Jimin smiled back.
"Right. Then, what are we waiting for? You have a flight to catch"
Both of them took the elevator to the reception where he signed a few things and proceeded to check out. Namjoon took Jimin's luggage and helped load it in with the help of the driver. Jimin followed him out.
Namjoon noticed Jimin slightly shivering in the cold even though he was wearing a thick coat and black gloves to warm himself.
He took off his scarf and draped it around Jimin's neck. The smaller boy looked up at him in surprise. Namjoon looked at his flushed cheeks and his full lips, his hand lingering on the scarf.
Jimin's heart hammered in his chest. He felt Namjoon's hand move from the newly adjusted scarf to his cheek. It was warm. His hand. And soft, too. Jimin closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. He was just so numb. Was he hurting or longing? He didn't know. Couldn't put in the effort to understand. Because he knew the answer would destroy him.
"Take care of yourself, Jiminie", Namjoon whispered, his thumb carressing over Jimin's soft cheek, slightly tracing his cheekbone. "I hope you have a great life."
"You too", Jimin breathed. Namjoon's gaze pierced his own with a tender intensity. That moment between the two of them was just so....tender. So bittersweet. So hurtful yet so beautiful.
Jimin didn't want it to end.
Jimin almost whimpered at the sudden loss of contact as the older boy stepped back.
"No", Jimin stated, "See you later", Jimin went in for a hug.
And it was the warmest hug he had ever shared with someone. Namjoon's long comforting arms wrapped around his small slim frame, almost engulfing him in. Jimin tightened his hold as he laid his head against Namjoon's chest. He could hear the taller boy's heartbeat.
The symbol of his life.
But Jimin willed himself not to cry.
Then, they parted. Just like that.
Jimin sat in the cab and watched back as the car drove away, Namjoon still standing and gazing at him as the car took a turn.
Jimin's breath caught dead in his lungs.
"Namjoon", he breathed, eyes filling up with tears.
"So you...do remember...me", the tired weak chuckle filled his veins with cold water. "I was...afraid...you had forgotten."
"I could never."
"I'm here.", he heard Namjoon breathing heavily. As if it hurt him physically to talk. "Come...crash at my place?"
It was dizzying.
The smell of phenol and death.
Jimin felt his stomach churn, his eyes following the people clad in white running around. Some carrying clipboards, others carrying weird medical equipment. It made him want to throw up.
He was never good with hospitals.
"Park Jimin? Is there someone named Park Jimin here?", Jimin snapped his head to a small petite older woman eyeing the people waiting in the visitor's room.
Jimin raised his hand, causing her sharp eyes to snap at his form. "It's me."
The brunette boy next to Jimin squeezed his hand in comfort.
"You came to visit...Kim Namjoon, yes?", the woman squinted her eyes.
"Y-yes?", Jimin's heart sank to the bottom of his pit.
"Well, he's asking for you. Room 206. Second floor", she stated before she walked away.
"Are you sure you'll be okay, Chim?", the brunette boy asked, his brows creased in worry at the slightly pale and shivering boy.
Jimin took deep calming breaths before he looked up and smiled. "I'm okay, Tae. It's just Namjoon. My Namjoon. I'll be fine."
Taehyung's eyes wandered his face as if searching for doubt or a single hint of a lie. Maybe he didn't find one because he instantly sighed and nodded. "Okay. But call me if you need anything. I'll wait here for you."
"You don't have to wait."
"What?", Taehyung looked taken aback.
"Go. I'm staying with Namjoon tonight."
"But-I- is that even allowed?"
"Yeah. Namjoon arranged it anyways."
Taehyung opened his mouth to say something. "Tae", Jimin breathed lowly, "please?"
Taehyung's shoulders slumped. "Okay. Just...take care, yeah?"
"I will", Jimin nodded, "thank you"
Taehyung leaned in and kissed his forehead. Jimin closed his eyes and relished in the soft moment. He watched his best friend walk away, hands in the back pockets of his jeans.
Jimin mustered up his courage and walked up to room 206. He took deep breaths in to calm his nerves. Beyond that door was Namjoon.
The boy he had met as a stranger. In a foreign land. The boy who helped him grow as a person. The boy who made him realise the beauty of everything around him. The boy who was just so warm and so comforting and so sweet & kind and just....so tender.
The boy who he fell in love with.
He opened the door.
"Ji...Jimin?", the body sprawled on the hospital bed croaked weakly.
Everything inside Jimin just....shattered.
His eyes brimmed with tears enough to spill over. A hand covered his mouth in shock.
It was Namjoon, right? The glowing Namjoon he knew. Who had such a beautiful tanned skin to make him shine under the sun or the one who was so uselessly tall or the one whose voice was so deep and reverberating, it made his insides tingle and the one whose dimples were so deep and cute, that Jimin wanted to dig them deeper and just die in them.
But all of that didn't fit the description of the person lying in front of him.
The person who had croaked out his name had a yellowish, pale and absolutely ghastly skin. He was skinny to the point, his cheeks looked sucked in and hollow. His eyes were the same warm brown color, but they looked extremely tired. Worn out. Almost at the verge of closing and never opening again. There were plastic wires around him. All connecting to his wrists and elbow joints. A breathing mask lied under his chin as his tired lips quirked upwards.
"Namjoon?", Jimin slowly willed himself to walk beside the bed and not curl up on himself.
Namjoon tried to sit up but he winced in pain at the attempt. Jimin palmed him down gently. "Don't."
Namjoon laid back and smiled softly. "Sorry I...changed my appearance a little", he chuckled breathily.
"I still recognized you, didn't I?", Jimin smiled ruefully.
"Ah...no one can fool...Park Jimin, huh?"
"Yeah...", Jimin sat down beside Namjoon, taking his hand in his own. Namjoon's once warm hand was now stone cold. His fingers looked blue. Jimin's eye twitched. He sniffed.
"You don't look so well, Joon."
Namjoon gazed at him warmly and then he looked up at the ceiling, taking a deep breath in, "I've...seen better days."
Jimin tried to smile at his poor attempt of lightening the mood.
"I...wanted to see...you", Namjoon stated, looking back at Jimin who was staring back at him with...so much love and...pain in his eyes. It hurt.
"Me too", Jimin brought Namjoon's hand to his lips and left a feathery kiss on it. He couldn't help but let a tear fall. His heart was tearing apart at an unbearably slow pace.
He wanted to cry harder.
"I missed you so much", Jimin cried softly.
Namjoon smiled ruefully, "I missed you too", he squeezed his hand.
They sat in silence. Jimin silently sniffing away. Namjoon just staring at him with the softest eyes ever. Like he was observing every little detail of Jimin's and burning it in his brain before safely putting it in the most precious chest of his memories.
Like that was all he needed to revisit before he flew over his numbered days.
"Do you...know what cherry blossoms mean?", Namjoon asked suddenly. Jimin shook his head. The older boy smiled, "It means...fragility. Beauty of...life and...tragedy of its...shortness," he paused, catching his lost tired breaths. "But it also...means a wish of healing. A...fresh start."
Jimin nodded. He didn't know where Namjoon was going with all that. But listening to him was so soothing. So calming. It gave him a comforting warmth. He wanted to listen to Namjoon talk forever.
"The last day...in Slovenia...I gave you...a blossom flower crown", he smiled recalling the memory. "You...looked so...pretty in it."
Jimin simpered. "I see."
Jimin thought over his words, squeezing Namjoon's hand. "I'm better now. Still figuring out somethings. But,", he paused, taking a deep breath, "I'm doing okay now."
Namjoon's lips quirked. "I'm...glad."
Silence settled upon them again. Jimin meant what he said. He was truly doing better than before. The trip had truly made him shape up into a better person. Especially Namjoon.
"Got...someone you're in love...with?"
They smiled at each other, hot silent tears slowly sliding down their cheeks. Love and seperation. Warmth and pain. All in the same moment. Just two souls mourning the loss of something they never truly had in the first place.
"Sing...me a song...please?"
Namjoon had remembered that Jimin sung as well as danced. He wanted to hear Jimin sing for him once. And so Jimin did. Though, it was accompanied by a lot of sniffing and hiccups and silent mournful whimpers. But...he still sang.
I wrote a long letter
To the moon one day
It isn't brighter than you but
I lit a small candle
The nameless bird that sings
In the park at dawn
Where are you
Namjoon closed his eyes, tears leaking from the corners of his crescents but his lips accompanied a wistful smile, nonetheless. As if he had no regrets. As if he had accepted things as they were instead of fighting them.
Why are you crying
It's only me and you here
Me and you
A knock echoed in the empty room. Except that, it wasn't really empty. If the slow tired breaths and the dull rythmic beep of the ventilator was any indication.
Jimin opened the door and stepped inside, his eyes finding the most beautiful man he had ever really known.
"I'm back, Joonie", he breathed, smiling slightly and walking over to the boy he was so desperately in love.
Namjoon didn't open his eyes.
But the dull beeping of the ventilator said he was alive. He was breathing.
He was there. With Jimin.
Jimin bent down and left a slow lingering kiss on the older boy's forehead and leaned back to stare at him lovingly. "Look, I brought you a bouqet", he smiled, "you said you never received a bouqet from your crush before so I thought..."
Jimin sat down beside him and took his delicate slim hand into his own. Namjoon's skin had turned such an ugly shade of bluish yellow. His cheeks had hollowed up even more. The glimmering shadows of agony and death lingered heavy on both their heads.
But Jimin was just so in love. So painfully and devastatingly in love. And he was aware that they were gonna part. Yet, he couldn't find it in his heart to love Namjoon any less.
"I hope you get well, Joonie", he whispered wistfully, "So we can do more than just...giving each other flowers", Jimin kissed Namjoon's hand, his heart burning up with pain. A tear leaked out from the corner of his eye.
It was just that. Wistful wishing.
Miracles were a myth.
And time waited for no one.
Jimin's heart shattered even more when he realized that even though, Namjoon was right beside him, he was missing him so much.
So. Freaking. Much.
He started humming the same song he had sung to Namjoon a week ago. Something about the lyrics strung him way too hard. Jimin didn't know why he sang that song precisely, but, it was the first song that popped up in his mind when he thought of Namjoon.
The nameless bird that sings
In the park at dawn
Where are you
Why are you crying
It's only you and me here
Me and you
Jimin stood there, silently.
He was numb. A faint dull ache resided in his chest and ran to the ends of his toes and the tips of his hair.
But he was still just numb. Cold. Hollow. Empty.
"You'll be...fine", Namjoon had smiled at him the next morning when he had first visited him in the hospital. "I know it."
But what Namjoon failed to realize was that Jimin would never really be the same.
And as he saw some men pour solid soil over the fresh flowers attached to the wooden coffin, he couldn't help but feel awfully detached.
Like it wasn't happening in front of him. Like he was just watching all these people dressed in black gathered around a freshly dug ground from afar. A detached point of view. Nothing more.
Namjoon looked so at peace. Dressed in a formal attire. A red glimmering rose peeking out from his left front pocket. Eyes closed, eyelashes so pretty and long, resting against his cheek gently. He was still pale but there was a serene glow to him.
Jimin had an urge to look in his deep brown, almost dizzingly beautiful eyes.
But they were closed. Forever.
Jimin watched people weep and wail and silently cry. He saw Namjoon's mother sobbing silently on the right. He also saw familiar faces. Liz and Joe from Slovenia. Liz had her head hung low, teary eyed and lips trembling. Joe, the one he thought to possess no other feelings except distaste or boredom, stood a bit far. He looked a bit lost. And almost frozen. His face looked sullen and grieved. Jimin realized Namjoon must have been loved by everyone around him.
Jimin felt nothing when they brought Namjoon up to the altar.
He felt nothing when family and friends gave their two cents on how Namjoon was 'such a great person'.
He felt nothing when he went up to Namjoon and placed a white rose on his chest.
He felt nothing when they closed the coffin and put Namjoon in his final resting place and covered him with dirt and wet soil.
Jimin stood silently. Watching it all.
"Are you...Jimin?", he whipped his head to an old sullen woman, staring up at him. Namjoon's mom.
"Yes", Jimin bowed.
"Nice to meet you, sweetie", she nodded.
"Likewise", Jimin stated.
"Namjoon told me alot about you", she smiled sadly. "He liked you so much"
Jimin wanted to run away. He knew. Namjoon liked him and he liked Namjoon. It devastated him and he didn't want to hear that from Namjoon's mother because he would definitely break down and he needed to find a way out and run away before he shattered.
But, he just nodded.
"He...", she croaked, "he wanted me to give you something."
Jimin stared at her.
"This", she extended her hand and shoved a blue thing in his hands. "He said you'll know what this is. And he also asked you to take care of it."
And then she smiled again. "Well, that's all", she walked away.
Almost robotically, Jimin opened his hand to see what the woman had given Jimin. Jimin's heart got completely crushed in his chest.
It was the keychain. The yellow bear keychain Namjoon had bought him in Slovenia. The one Namjoon said reminded him of Jimin.
A flood of tears swept down his cheeks.
"Hi, Joon", the blonde haired boy stood frozen in place. Three years time apart had given his face a very wise onlook but his features still held a soft sharpness of maturity. A small smile played on his lips. "How are you?"
Silence mixed with the light breeze of wind and the quite rustling of autumn leaves was the grave's answer.
"Are you resting well? Are you happy where ever you are?"
The boy beside him squeezed his hand. Jimin looked to his right, at his boyfriend. Black orbs mixed with warmth and comfort stared back at him. Jimin squeezed Taehyung's hand back and smiled reassuringly.
"I'm doing great, right now", Jimin gazed back at the cobblestone.
Here lies: Kim Namjoon, 24
A good son
A great friend and
A beautiful human.
Jimin thought it didn't really do justice to how absolutely gorgeous of a person Namjoon was.
"Just like you said-", Jimin looked up at the blue sky. Serene. Calm. Beautiful. "I'm doing fine. I still...miss you, not going to lie", he laughed, heart still heavy but not as such that it would crush, "but I'm fine. I'm okay now."
Jimin laid down the cherry blossom flowers he had bought.
"I was lost. And you found me", Jimin recalled back to the day he had wandered in a foreign land not knowing a thing about it and the day he had shared things about himself that he had never shared with anyone else.
His face glowed with a warm grateful soft smile.
"Thank you for that", Jimin paused. "Rest well", he got up and dusted his knees, "I love you. I'll never see you again. But.....this is not goodbye. Till next time. See you later", he grinned at Namjoon and turned. Almost as if Namjoon was sitting right there, in his usual baggy clothes and wearing that same dimpled pretty smile. His brown chocolaty orbs morphing into the cutest crescents ever as he waved goodbye to Jimin's fading back.