Jungkook feels like he has been waiting for this day his entire life.
Maybe because he has. Even as children, Matching Day is something mentioned in every story, related to every historical figure, dressed up to be this wondrous occasion where you finally meet your soulmate, and only good things follow.
Jungkook believes in those stories. Genuinely.
He sees how his parents smile at one another, the way his father’s hand trails up his mother’s forearm to her shoulder, gently dancing across her skin, and then when her hands run through his father’s hair as he curls over the kitchen table, deeply engrossed in his work. They fit together perfectly, maybe even too perfectly. He has never seen them argue, not over anything, and any silence that fills the house is a calm and serene one. Not tense, angry, the type that would choke you if it had hands.
If he looks in the mirror, he sees a sleep-deprived man in his early-twenties, a toothy smile that only gets bigger when he laughs, hair so long he could tie it up, and eyes that his mother has often said are bigger than the plates they eat dinner off.
He figures it’s a compliment. Maybe if things were different, and you got to pick who you loved… many somebody would find his big eyes cute, and they would mention that when asking him what he’s doing later.
But the world doesn’t work like that. At least, not anymore.
His room is light when he sits up in his bed, the comforter pooling around his hips, and he rubs those big eyes of his with the back of his hand. Somebody obviously came in while he was asleep to open the blinds, to allow some natural light in the room to wake him up slowly. Except it was still the piercing sound of the alarm that woke him up, striking right into his head and yanking him cruelly out of whatever long-lost-dream he had been in with two hands wrapped around him tightly.
He cannot remember the dream. He hasn’t remembered his dreams for years now, except the dampness around his eyes only tells him it must have either been an important one, or a scary one.
Or maybe both.
As his feet hit against the stairs, his mother is there to greet him. Dressed up smart, hair tied back, glasses perched on the end of her nose, ushering him down and hopefully out of his sleepy stumble as his father cooks them breakfast. Orange juice already poured and waiting in tall glasses, Junghyun sat down and resting his chin in his palm.
“You excited, Kook?”
He cannot muster much of a response to his older brother, beyond the breathy word and a muted smile, his hair brushing against his jawline and he drops into the chair rather unceremoniously. The sleeves of his shirt hang off around his arms; Jungkook’s parents had commented multiple times about their confusion at his style, always wearing clothes three sizes too big.
Junghyun said Jungkook was obviously trying to be edgy.
That would usually end with a book thrown at his brother’s head.
“You don’t sound it,” Junghyun comments, picking up his glass and bringing it to his lips with a raised brow.
“I just woke up, hyung,” Jungkook shrugs, thanking his father as he piles pancakes onto his plate. Pancakes. “I’m still trying to like… process. That today’s the day.” Thick, golden pancakes, soon to be drowning in syrup and Nutella and strawberries and whipped cream, and the rather extravagant concoction makes his mother question who it is she really gave birth to.
She even presses a kiss to his forehead as he begins to make his breakfast a little messy. It’s way to think for a moment, to have a split second to process what exactly today was. The day he had been looking forward to ever since he was little, since he would sit on the carpeted floor in his kindergarten, watching his teacher with wide, doe eyes as she would read fairy-tales about princes and princesses being each other’s Match, a mermaid finding her Match in a human, about how happiness would come as soon as you would receive that name, and know who you’ll wake up to every morning, for the rest of your life.
Because you would marry your Match. Because you loved them. Because that was just what happened.
The expectation works on both sides. Jungkook expects to meet the person he is fated to be with, and society expects him to marry them.
He cuts a piece of his pancake and eats it. Lost in thought, until interrupted.
“I’m so proud of you,” His mother wraps her arms around him, her chin on his head, rubbing his shoulders – crowding and suffocating him as he chews. “I can’t believe this day has come.”
She sounds almost sad, as her youngest son is now old enough to meet his soulmate. A prominent event in one’s life, practically the most important one in their society. It signifies that he is now a man, and she has no babies left to take care of.
Sad, but not enough to ruin the excitement thrumming through their veins.
“I know,” he smiles, though his cheeks are bulging with food. “It feels like I’ve been waiting forever.”
“You’ve been waiting your whole life.” His father mentions, complete with the warm expression Jungkook is used to. His parents are always smiling, always happy. And they say it’s because of the system. Because they were Matched, and Matched to each other after all. All Jungkook can really hope for is to one day be as happy as they are.
Slipping into the system almost wilfully, but he has no clue of any other option.
“Speaking of,” Junghyun stands up, his chair scraping against the floor of the kitchen. “We better start getting ready.”
“But, your breakfast-“ Their parents look at the two boys, those smiles faltering and eyes wide, but when his older brother shoots him a silent look, Jungkook shoves clearly more than the standard amount of food in his mouth in order to please both parties.
Almost choking, but that’s irrelevant as his brother claps a hand on his shoulder, and he stands up too, cheeks bulging, Nutella smeared in the corners of his lips, and somehow some whipped cream on his cheek.
“’m so full.” Jungkook stumbles out his chair, giving both of his parents a rather strained and chubby-cheeked smile before he bounds back up those stairs.
His brother, after all, has been waiting a little longer than him. Not quite in the right age bracket for the last lot, Junghyun got the short end of the stick, and had to wait for Jungkook’s class to take their Tests. Not something he blames his younger brother for – he knows it’s nobody’s fault – but Jungkook is willing to ignore the impatient tone that comes from his hyung. He knows he would be the same. If Jungkook has been waiting forever, Junghyun has been waiting forever and a day.
He doesn’t have to be a genius to tell just how excited his brother is by the way he fights the smile threatening to pull on the corners of his lips, and he brushes his teeth like his arm has a motor in it.
He’s the same when the two of them get dressed, Jungkook slowly dressing while his brother is ready before the younger can even blink. Only the sound of the kitchen being cleared away fills the house; dishes clinking together and a tap running to fill the sink, and that’s when Jungkook catches sight of himself in the mirror again.
This is what he will look like when he meets his soulmate. Bare-faced, top layer of his hair pulled back with a tiny hairband, looking… normal. Nothing flashy or special, nothing too outlandish that would make him stand out in the crowd, nor does he look like he doesn’t care, but something nice. Effort, but not too much effort. Indicative of his personality, he hopes, but not something that is going to leave him as an open book.
That excitement is plagued with nerves. Even as he fidgets with his clothing for what is likely the thousandth time, he cannot stop the way his hands tremble, and he runs his tongue over his lips.
God, he just hopes his Matched likes him.
He wraps two more hairbands around his wrist; one green, the other blue, only in case he loses one, though the need for two extras never seems to have much reasoning.
Jungkook has always had two extra of everything. It’s just a habit. It doesn’t mean anything important, has no convoluted symbolic meaning beyond the fact he just likes to be safe, likes to have two. Like everything has to be part of a set.
Two extra. Three in total.
Junghyun tugs on his arm, and with a quick goodbye from their parents, the two Jeon brothers leave.
“You’re nervous, I can tell.”
Jimin has never been able to hide anything from Hoseok, and the other man looks at him with such a pointed expression that all he can do is sigh, for there is no hope in denying it. Not even the tiniest bit.
“And you aren’t?” Jimin sighs.
“Why would I be?” Hoseok hums, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his once-ironed trousers. Now, they’re slightly creased, a little baggy, but it is somehow a look that he can carry off. “This is soul stuff, Jimin. The person we’re made for. It’ll all come naturally; I know it.”
“But what if something goes wrong?” The younger man worries still, fidgeting with the end of his coloured shirt, which somehow came untucked from his own trousers. It only makes him seem that little bit smaller.
“The Test doesn’t go wrong,” Seokjin pipes up, throwing an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, prompting the other to look up at him. “Have you ever heard of the Test giving a wrong result? Or not working for somebody?”
No is what Jimin should be answering. Not once should be the default answer. But when your father works in the law enforcement, and your mother works in the legal system, it’s hard to find such a way to praise these Tests when, yes, they do allow people to know their soulmates, their Matches, but it doesn’t solve every problem in the world.
Not every solution is all about finding somebody to love you, even if it is essentially in their DNA.
Fairy-tales are just stories. Jimin began questioning their accuracy years ago.
Jimin doesn’t understand how the Test works, how it finds your soulmate for you, but he wishes he did. Just so he could calm his nerves and stop his stomach from somersaulting all day long.
God, he’ll be a nervous wreck in the Testing Room.
“No,” he answers finally. “I haven’t.” But he has reason to believe there is always a first time.
If the Tests were meant to solve everything, how come crime still existed? Suffering? Why did his father need to strap a gun under his jacket when he went on duty? Why was his mother’s workload increasing far too much?
Hoseok offers a smile, a softer one than before, as if trying to understand just what has made the younger man quieter than usual. The sun is beginning to peek over the edge of the buildings, washing the three of them in shades of orange, making them squint as the rays cover their eyes. His hand moves to wrap around Jimin’s, to link their fingers together; they have been friends for so long. So many years, since Jimin’s cheeks were even chubbier than they are now and he still had his baby teeth, and he was small. Well, he’s still smaller than Hoseok now… and seeing his small friend be so lost in his own thoughts makes him worried.
“Hey, you know, after we hear our results…” He trails off, squeezing Jimin’s hand tightly. “We can go out to eat. Just the three of us. Maybe our Matches too, if we want, but they don’t have to join us.”
“You mean… to celebrate?” Jimin tilts his head.
“Yes! To celebrate and have drinks and eat barbecue!” Hoseok exclaims to the morning air, the clouds still low, the odd star still visible before the sun comes to hide them once again.
“I am definitely down.” Seokjin nudges Jimin with his shoulder – broad shoulder, the youngest notes – before smirking a little at Hoseok. “Dibs not paying.”
“Dibs not paying!”
“Ah…” Hoseok’s face falls almost comically for a moment before he pouts. “My friends are so cruel. Imagine making me pay for all their food… so cruel…”
“It was your idea!”
And there it is, the smile that Hoseok had been aiming for. Bright, uncontrollable, and plastered all over Jimin’s face. His eyes closed, his lips curled up, and the tension that had only just been weighing him down seemingly gone with a snap of his fingers. Jimin looks happy again, and Hoseok remembers one very dangerous fact:
Being in love with Jimin is risky.
Because if they aren’t Matched, he would have to watch Jimin fall in love with somebody else, he would end up falling in love with somebody else, and he doesn’t want that.
Forgetting his feelings for Jimin and giving them to somebody else just doesn’t seem fair to any party involved, least of all himself. Having to deny how he feels, using every birthday wish to either hope his feelings are returned or that they fade over time hasn’t helped, and now he’s arguably more anxious than Jimin ever was.
But he pretends otherwise. And smiles. And tries to cheer everybody up. After all, that is what he is best at. No point in giving that up now.
“So, Seokjin,” Hoseok falls quickly in step with them again, linking his fingers with Jimin’s and ignoring the way the younger man takes a look at their joined hands. “How do you imagine your soulmate to be?”
Seokjin hums. As the eldest of their group, he has spent the longest waiting for his Test Day, also just missing the last group’s one by a few weeks because of his birthday. He doesn’t complain about it, though. He says, ‘the best things are worth waiting for’, and Jimin hopes with all his heart that he’s right. Seeing Seokjin experience heartache would surely be enough to crush all of their spirits.
“Just somebody who I can have great conversation with,” the eldest gives a little shrug. “Looks aren’t important if you can’t talk to somebody, and we’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives with our soulmates so… somebody who is a good conversationalist.”
“What if we don’t have to spend the rest of our lives with them?”
The words that come from the youngest’s mouth makes the two men stop in their tracks. Eyes wide. Shocked, in all honesty, because things like that just aren’t said, they aren’t conceived in this world. There is such a danger that comes with this thinking, and Hoseok swallows the lump in his throat.
“I just mean, what if we don’t like them? Or they love somebody else? Or we fall in love with somebody else?” Jimin wrings his shirt in his hands, creasing it, untucking it form his trousers and ruining the previous ‘perfect’ image of a young man ready to meet his soulmate. Now, he looks torn. Maybe because he is.
“You really are worried about that, huh?” Hoseok’s expression falls a little, that smile long gone and replaced with a furrow of his brow and his lips turned down. Seokjin is shaking his head.
“You’re worrying needlessly. Come on, let’s focus on something else, if it stops our Jimin thinking so hard he breaks his brain.”
The thought of society dictating who you can and can’t love has never been a problem in Seokjin’s mind, not until Jimin had to mention it on the day they are literally walking to find their Matches. A pointless question, there is no need to worry about it. It’s worked for years, and there is no reason it would stop working now.
But Jimin knows better. He’s just not bursting everybody else’s bubble, not until he has genuine evidence to show his friends. Listening in on his father’s police radio became a bad habit in middle school, but it was something fun to do, something dangerous without any serious repercussions, after all.
Hearing a dispute between Matches, however, that led to them being separated due to ‘irrevocable differences’ is not something he had ever expected to hear.
And now it is all he thinks about.
He wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, his heart hammering so hard against his chest he fears it might burst out and land onto his bed, his breathing so fast that he feels lightheaded, all because of the singular dream of his Match hating him, of him hating his Match, and being left alone while his friends enjoy a fake happiness.
A fake happiness that he doesn’t want, but at the same time… he’s afraid of what life would be like if he didn’t have it.
Hoseok and Seokjin swiftly fall into another type of conversation, one far from the topic of soulmates and one that Jimin doesn’t pay much attention to. Lost in his own little world, one that can be so quickly ruined by the results of today, by the results that will affect his life forever. There is no excitement in his stomach, only the desire to get this over with, so he can know what to do for the rest of his life.
The wind picks up a little, blowing a few green leaves into their path; the trees shouldn’t be shedding this early on in the year, not for months at least, and while his friends pay no attention to the movement, Jimin certainly does.
He hates it.
He hates this day, he hates this society, he hates this government, this world, this universe, everything, everything. He hates it, hates it, hatesithatesithatesit-
Even standing on the street opposite the building, bag thrown over one shoulder and dressed hardly his best, he wants to run. Run away and find some other world where your entire life isn’t controlled by a few men who figure just because you and the average Joe both like cheesecake that you are obviously meant to be soulmates and you will obviously be together forever, and any other option is something akin to blasphemous.
Yoongi hates Match Day with a passion, and now it seems that he hates his own even more.
His parents had been excited for him. No doubt as to why. Fighting with them this morning only made his day even worse, if that was at all possible. Telling him that he should be excited, to not allow their history to affect his ‘special day’.
God. He wanted to be sick.
Instead he just grabbed his bag wordlessly and left the house. Dragging his feet against the ground, wanting to get on a train to Busan or Daegu, or anywhere just away from Seoul.
Standing on the sidewalk leaves him open and vulnerable, though. He knows the looks he gets when people see him, when they pass by him, wondering just why the town’s pariah showed himself, how he had the guts to do it.
Yoongi doesn’t know them. It’s not like he cares about their opinion.
Being the son of two Unmatched certainly comes without the perks.
Two people who were not soulmates, were not assigned on Match Day, but said screw it to the system anyway. Outcasted by society. Not a day goes by where a brick isn’t thrown into his father’s windshield, where his mother isn’t shunned by everybody on the street when she collects the post, where Yoongi and Geumjae aren’t called abominations on their way to school, college, work.
Yoongi hates Match Day.
Soulmates don’t exist.
The name is shouted at him from a group across the street. Four or five, possibly more by the way a few more people laugh, hiding their smiles behind their hands, or smirk in response to the name thrown in Yoongi’s direction. He doesn’t lay down easy, though, and like hell is he going to let them get away with that.
“The fuck you say?”
And Yoongi moves to take a step forward, dropping his bag to the side – and Yoongi isn’t an aggressive person. He isn’t violent, he doesn’t shout, but sometimes a cold look and vicious words can be even more harmful than a punch to the face-
But a hand grasps the back of his hoodie and pulls him back, off the street, and soon enough his back collides with somebody’s chest.
“Wow, thanks, Namjoon. Thanks for stopping me getting myself run over, and going over to chew some guys out which would definitely lead to me getting my ass kicked,” Namjoon sighs, smiling a little to himself as he keeps Yoongi within reach. “That’s alright, hyung. Don’t worry about it.”
“I could have handled them.”
“Except you wouldn’t have wanted to.”
Taehyung pops up from behind Namjoon, holding Yoongi’s bag and fixing his clothes, brushing his bangs out the way, smiling at the smaller man despite his scowling expression.
They know him better than anyone. They know despite his apparent cold words, Yoongi wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, despite what he might threaten every so often.
Words can be cruel, Yoongi knows just how cruel they can be.
A slow exhale, Yoongi doing his best to calm himself down before he takes his bag from Taehyung, who offers his boxy smile in return. A bright smile, and fingers moving to adjust the hat perched upon his head, adding some height to the already rather tall male. Taehyung is tall, but sometimes, Yoongi believes Taehyung could pass for shorter even than him. A good friend, along with Namjoon… who really just towers over the two of them. Friends that keep him calm, remind him that it is better to save his energy to fight for another day.
“It’ll be alright,” Taehyung speaks softly, standing next to Yoongi on his left, Namjoon on Yoongi’s right. “We’re here, hyung.”
“I don’t need anybody to take care of me, Taehyung.”
“I know,” he hums. “but we’re both still here, just in case.”
The two of them know exactly what Yoongi goes through on a daily basis, though only through witnessing, never from experiencing it themselves. Watching Yoongi be bullied and taunted and burned by so many, always there to push back attackers, to hand him tissue so he can wipe away his own tears, hiding him when he needs it.
Yoongi is not one to cry where others can see him, though it is not for viewing men crying as a weakness, as another beyond his own embarrassment at the expression he makes, but rather… he does not want them to win. To know their words affect him in such a way.
Namjoon only has to push gently at the small of Yoongi’s back for them to cross the street, joining the crowd, blending in seamlessly to the chattering groups of people ready for the rest of their lives, as they say. Yoongi believes different. If anything, to him, this is the beginning of the end.
He daren’t say so, least of all to Taehyung. He knows how he longs for his soulmate, as do most people before their Test Day, excited to meet their Match. Taehyung truly is no different, though Yoongi cannot be sure of Namjoon. The other has never even mentioned soulmates, though perhaps that is only in solidarity of Yoongi’s distaste for the entire concept.
Either way, he bites his tongue for as long as he can. There is no need for any unnecessary hurt, in this life nor the next one. After all, some believe soulmates reach across every lifetime, two people bound together by something more than just love, just marriage. Something else Yoongi laughs at. Nothing in the world is that strong.
Besides, his parents were happy together – taking away the stigma of their very relationship – so why should he believe in a flawed system?
If his parents had listened to what men in lab coats had told them, he and his brother wouldn’t have been born.
But even Geumjae had fallen trap to the system, falling for a girl with long, curly hair and a soft smile, warm hands and a voice that sounds like a song. At least, that is what his brother tells him. But Yoongi doesn’t speak to him much anymore. His brother falling in love with his soulmate had been a betrayal, one that hurt more than he would care to admit.
Soon enough, he may be considering his best friends as traitors too. And that hurts as well.
Approaching the door, the crowds of people slowly form into a queue, one that takes a while to go from a group to single fine, scanning their ID cards in order to allow each person into the building.
It’s all so serious, yet Yoongi really questions why he hasn’t bolted by now.
He reaches into his pocket, feeling the familiar plastic card against his fingers, and he brings it out with a sigh. “God, this sucks. I just want to go home.” He grumbles, prompting the couple in front – two men – to turn and look at him.
“Just because you won’t have a soulmate, doesn’t mean you can try and ruin this day for the rest of us,” the taller one snaps at him, prompting the other to shrink away a little. “So just shut your mouth.”
“Oh, yeah? And why won’t I have a soulmate?” Yoongi scowls.
“Freaks don’t have soulmates, obviously.”
Namjoon pulls Yoongi back again, swapping places in line before he tilts his head at the rather rude man in front of them. “Maybe you should be more concerned as to your soulmate being stuck with an impolite man like yourself.”
His words are calm, complete with a smile, and they prompt the other to go bright red, huffing as he turns away, making sure the person next to him and stops looking as well. But only after the man with his hair tied up mouths a quick ‘sorry’ instead of his companion.
Taehyung hooks his chin over Yoongi’s shoulder, while the shorter of their group just crosses his arms tightly over his chest, a deep frown on his features. “I knew coming here was a mistake.” Yoongi mutters to himself, though Taehyung is so close that he hears, and all he hugs Yoongi tightly, wrapping his arms around his waist and squeezing.
“It’ll be ok. Don’t let some strangers drag you down.” Taehyung mumbles into his shoulder, while Namjoon gives a comforting smile to him as well.
However, Yoongi doesn’t feel all that comforted.
“This is bullshit.”
It’s been hours since they finished their Tests. Everybody had already had their assignments, gasping as they locked eyes with well-known classmates and blushing when they realised their soulmates had been by their sides for years, or calling out names, knowing somebody in the room would respond.
A certain plus side to everybody being assigned their soulmate in the same group, though Yoongi knows that’s definitely bullshit.
But what is actually bullshit, right at that moment, is the way he and two others are stuck outside an office. One of the head technician’s apparently, still waiting for the presumedly old man to become available to speak to them and explain what the actual hell they are still doing there.
Jimin squirms in the uncomfortable seat, a little deflated that he wasn’t given a conclusive answer straight away, and all that did was reignite the anxiety that curls in the pit of his stomach like some sort of snake, twisting around his organs and squeezing until he can barely breathe.
He tries not to focus on it though, and instead draws his attention to counting every squared tile on the ceiling above them all.
So far, he counted over a hundred until he lost count.
The youngest of them all, however, is seemingly more distressed than the rest of them, with the way he picks at the threads of his clothes, doesn’t stop bouncing his leg, and his large, doe-eyes shine as they keep focus on a spot on the floor.
All Jungkook had ever wanted was his soulmate, so when the large letters reading ‘INCONCLUSIVE’ had covered his screen, he panicked immediately. Because the results were never inconclusive. Sure, sometimes people had to wait for the next group to have their Tests, but then they would have the words ‘NG’ instead, signifying NEXT GROUP. Inconclusive was unheard of. Inconclusive was impossible.
Yet there were three with the same results.
Impossible, impossible, it just didn’t happen.
The system was flawless. But if the head technician themselves had to look at their results to give them an answer… it didn’t mean anything good, not at all.
And there were three of them. Soulmates came in pairs. Only two, never three.
Which mean one of them was going to leave alone, likely having to wait for the Next Group to have their Test. Which meant even more waiting, and Jungkook didn’t know if he could do that.
Jimin knows he wouldn’t be able to wait anymore.
“They’ll fix it,” he pipes up, not looking at the man who had spoken first. “Maybe there was a glitch.”
“Or the Test is just randomized, and it doesn’t work. Soulmates can’t be assigned through answering questions,” Yoongi scoffs. “I’m not allowing some old man in a lab coat tell me who I can and can’t love. It’s total bullshit.”
Jungkook purses his lips and looks up. “There… has to be some sort of reasonable explanation though. I mean, why would all three of us be here?”
That’s the question. There is no easy reason behind it, no way to explain why the three of them are there. Whatever situation any of them can come up with is a bad one, where one or more of them end up in an even worse situation. One of them without a soulmate, all three of them without a soulmate, or all three of them having to wait even longer before they receive their Matches.
Jungkook doesn’t want that.
Jimin doesn’t want that.
Yoongi doesn’t want that.
But in this case, it seems what they want doesn’t seem to matter.
The door squeaks as something moves and stands in the doorway. Pristine white clothes, hair scraped back, thin glasses perched on the edge of his nose, looking all sorts of smart and… plastic. Like somebody who just isn’t real, made artificially, waxed and polished, because there is no way real skin looks like that. “You can come in now.”
Yoongi moves first, though he will say it is only because he is closest to the door anyway, holding onto the edge to hold it open for the other two. Both of them duck into the room with a quick nod of their heads, and then the three of them follow, who they assume to be the technician, down a shorter hallway and just before another door.
“Are you going to tell us what’s wrong with our results?” Jimin asks.
“No, the head technician will do that.” The man responds, walking stiffly, clutching at a clipboard before he knocks on a clouded glass door, which is soon answered with a feminine sounding ‘come in’.
This door doesn’t squeak, and this time, the man holds it open as the three walk in, greeted by a ridiculously white room – everything shining without even the tiniest speck of dust, and large windows, which are also clouded. On the desk is an obnoxious Newton’s Cradle swinging back and forth, three piles of papers stacked neatly, and when Yoongi looks closely with a critical eye, he notices on the front page of each pile is a photo of themselves.
“Mr. Jeon, Mr. Min, and Mr. Park, please sit down.”
Behind the desk is a woman. A pretty woman, if you like women in that way. Her hair is tied back in a bun, glasses on her face much like the man, and dressed entire professionally with, as per technician standard, a white lab coat. Again. Yoongi is beginning to really hate the colour white.
And they drop into their seats in one fluid movement, all together in one simple moment, causing the head technician to raise her eyebrow. She then clears her throat, folding her hands together neatly on the desk, and thus over the three stacks of paper before her.
“You are here because of your results from the Test. On the screen, it read ‘Inconclusive’, correct?” She asks, and when she receives acknowledgement from all three – it takes a while for Yoongi – she continues. “The result is not actually inconclusive, but the system itself… was confused. It didn’t know which name to display, so it sent the alert and told you that your results were inconclusive, that they had no singular answer.”
“In other words, the system is broken.” Yoongi comments, rolling his eyes.
“Actually, it is not broken.”
“But then…” Jungkook presses his feet together, trying to make himself seem a little smaller than he actually is. “Out of the three of us, which ones of us are Matched to the other?”
“That’s a simple answer, Mr. Jeon.” She smiles. It’s a sickly smile, one that makes Jimin feel uneasy. “You are each other’s soulmates.”
There is a certain calm before the storm. A moment of hesitation, of processing. To allow the information to sink in, for three pairs of eyes to look at each other with a newfound emotion, a certain type of confusion, because in all of the years the Test had been, used and revered and made out to be this amazing thing, there had never been three soulmates before.
It was uncharted territory, moving into the seas while the waves thrash against your tiny boat, reading to leave you drowning in the water and your lungs filling up with air until your head feels like its about to explode. Jimin feels like his head is about to explode.
When he said he didn’t trust the system anymore, that he figured there must be a flaw ready to occur – a crack ready to expand – he never expected himself to be at the forefront; it feels like he’s about to go to battle with no armour and only a stick to defend himself with. And not even a big stick, like a twig. The smallest, weakest twig ever.
“…sorry?” Jungkook is the first of them to speak, to break that silence with a quiet voice, his brows furrowed and his lips drawn together. “We… have two soulmates? Three of us?”
“Oh, hell no.”
Before anybody can answer Jungkook, they all look to Yoongi, who is shaking his head and laughing. But it’s not a nice sound, not a pleasant one. It’s dry, and cold, like ice being stabbed right through your heart, and it takes Jimin’s breath away, and it makes Jungkook freeze like that ice went right into his soul.
“No. No way. Absolutely not. That’s bullshit,” Yoongi laughs again. “I didn’t even want one soulmate, and now you’re telling me I have two? Is this the universe telling me to fuck myself? I feel like this is the universe telling me to fuck myself.”
Jungkook frowns even more, his mouth opening as he goes to speak again. “Hyung-“
“I’m not your hyung, Jeon Jungkook.”
“No, ok? I refuse.” The eldest fidgets with his clothing as he stands up, still shaking his head. “Change the results. I know you can mess around with the programme. Make those two soulmates. Say I haven’t got one or something.”
That is a harmful blow. Jungkook looks up at Yoongi, trying his best to hide his vaguely hurt expression but to be told your soulmate simply doesn’t want you is enough to weaken you, make you want to curl in on yourself and hide. He had been waiting for this day for so long, had such high expectations for it, only to then find out his results were a glitch in the system, a stain on an otherwise flawless record, and that he has two soulmates instead of one.
And that should be exciting. To have two people to love and cherish, but all Jungkook wants right now is to go home and pretend that this day never happened, at least not in this way. Let him live in his dream with his one soulmate, or at least soulmates who want him. Give him that at least.
“It doesn’t work like that.” The head technician reclines in her seat a little, her hands now neatly resting on her abdomen.
“But it can.”
Jimin straightens up in his seat, frowning also; what was supposed to be a happy day has turned out to be quite the opposite. His fingers move to slide under his thigh, the pressing weight against his hand something to focus on as he thinks, and he processes, and he works on coming up with an answer to a seemingly impossible situation.
“Maybe the Test is just wrong.” Jimin offers in a quiet voice. Jungkook is immediately shaking his head, disregarding that notion without any hesitation.
“The Test isn’t wrong. It doesn’t make mistakes.”
“It has before.” Yoongi speaks directly to the head technician now, crossing his arms and still out of his seat. Defiant in the way he stands, but judging by the slight trembling of his right knee, Jimin figures there is definitely more troubling Yoongi than he is letting on.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that Yoongi is talking about his own parents.
“I… if the Test is so perfect, how come people still fight?” Jimin asks, prompting the technician to freeze a little in her place. “How come people still argue, and they’re still unhappy if the Test is supposed to fix it by setting us up with the person who is meant to love us entirely?”
“Look,” the technician rolls her shoulders back, her expression hard and cold, something that hits Jungkook to the pit of his stomach. “I have told you your results. You may leave now.”
The door is opened before any of them can react, and though Yoongi is already on his feet, he doesn’t quite leave immediately. Instead, there is a pause, looking between his ‘soulmates’ and the woman he would argue has effectively ruined his life. Clearly, she doesn’t want to argue about the logistics of a system that isn’t supposed to break, yet there are three samples of that breakage before her.
Three faults, three mistakes, and god, don’t they feel it right there.
The sun began to set long ago. What had been a bright blue sky with only a few clouds was now an array of pinks, purples, oranges. Clouds covered in colours, making them look almost sweet. Jimin has never had the desire to dive into clouds, no matter how soft they look, but now it seems like a better option than to keep waiting outside the building’s gate with the only two people in the world who probably don’t want to talk to him.
Ok, maybe not, there are probably more people that won’t want to speak to him, but that’s beside the point.
He’s leaning against the wall, running a hand through his hair. Shirt finally untucked and looking nowhere near as neat as he had been earlier. Jungkook is sat on the sidewalk, his shoes in the road and his chin resting in his palm, while Yoongi is sat on the gate. Wordless. Silent. None of them even looking at one another, let alone engaging in some sort of conversation.
Awkward silence, or awkward conversation… honestly, Jimin doesn’t know which one would be worse.
He looks back up at the clouds again, figuring the view is better than the empty street. Nobody else is around, though the few houses near them have lights on, people moving around, but not outside, not able to be used as an excuse for any of them to talk, or leave, or run the fuck away.
This was meant to be a happy day, this was meant to be a day that would leave them smiling, would leave Jungkook smiling, but now all he wants is for his brother to answer his phone so he can find out where he is, no doubt to listen to his hyung wax poetic about how amazing his soulmate is and how wonderful today has been. If he asked how Jungkook’s Match was, he is certain he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from saying ‘which one?’ which is not what he needs right now.
More questions that he doesn’t know the answer, more waiting and more waiting, likely to lead to even more rejection, so excuse him if he’s not thoroughly thrilled by his options to either stay here in silence or go home and have to explain things that even he doesn’t understand.
Why couldn’t his results just be normal? Why did they have to be different?
And the only reason Yoongi hasn’t left is because he daren’t walk home alone. He’s not stupid enough to leave himself exposed to people who would like nothing better than to express just how they think of him and his ‘abomination’ of a family.
Some things can’t be fixed with a name on a screen, even when he’s supposed to have two.
He would never tell them.
“Maybe this isn’t too bad.” Jimin breaks the silence, but neither of the other two look at him, too lost in staring at whatever brick they find most interesting. “I mean, having two soulmates… some people would dream of having two people to love.”
“Some computer isn’t telling me who I can and can’t love.” Yoongi grumbles. Agitated, perhaps, tense. Even Jimin presses his back a little into the wall behind him, ignoring the way it almost hurts – the brick against otherwise soft skin, only defined through years of dance and not through much else. No hard labour, though this entire conversation feels like he has worked enough for this lifetime.
“Come on, hyu-“ Jungkook cuts himself off; he cannot call Yoongi hyung, not yet anyway. “Don’t you want to at least try?”
Try to get to know them, try to see if the rumours are true and you really do fall for your soulmate naturally. Because it truly is meant to be, even if it is illustrated by an apparent random combination of zeroes and ones, and surely that can’t link to the soul. Computers don’t have souls, so how can they understand the very concept of a soulmate?
To Yoongi, it just doesn’t make sense.
To Jungkook, he believes it so wholeheartedly that it almost makes up for the innocent look in his eye as he almost pleads with Yoongi.
To Jimin, he’s forcing himself to believe it,
Choking on the phrases, the very words, trying his best to act like he gets it, he understands, even though there are too many little flaws in a big machine. Eventually, they would build up, abd bring the whole thing crashing down.
Maybe the three of them being the first ‘trio’ of soulmates is the beginning, the first screw to fall before the entire thing collapses right in front of them. No doubt one of them would certainly be pleased, and another would be heartbroken, leaving the last one to be torn between the two.
Perhaps this is why three soulmates don’t work. Too much to balance out. Not enough people to balance it with.
Three is an odd number, one that can’t divide up equally, and maybe that’s it. One is always left one, one is always walking behind; they don’t call it the third wheel for nothing.
“Why are you so… worried?”
Jimin’s voice is quiet, soft compared to the bite of Yoongi’s, and while Jimin is warm, Yoongi is cold. Shutting himself off, not wanting to speak to them, look at them, entertain the idea that one day they might all love each other. Truly. Wrapped around each other’s fingers, hands interlocked, whispering ‘I love yous’ into heated skin-
An impossible dream at this rate. Even Jungkook knows when to cut the crap and not delve into a delusional way of thinking. He knows it’s not going to happen, so there’s no point in trying to kid himself.
“Well… regardless. I’m happy I got two soulmates.” Jungkook offers this little shrug, and then it’s the first time Yoongi looks at the other two. “We must be pretty special to get two, right? For us to be three?”
Yoongi gives this bitter laugh, complemented by the shake of his head, and if Jimin didn’t know any better, he would note it was a sad laugh. One that holds a bitterness, yes, but maybe more than that.
“You two can have each other. I’m not into that, sorry.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Park Jimin?” He jumps down from the gate, brushing down his trousers and pulling his bag over his shoulder; it sags a little, too heavy for his frame. “I do not want a soulmate, let alone two of them.”
“You say that, but I don’t believe you.” Jungkook moves to stand in front of him, getting off the ground before Jimin can even blink, but the shortest still wraps a small hand in Jungkook’s jacket, twisting the material between his fingers, though to keep him close or stop him from snapping at Yoongi, Jimin cannot say for certain.
Jimin has always thought the worst of people since that day, regardless if they’re Matched or not.
“I think you want a soulmate, but like Jimin said… you’re too worried, or afraid, or something.”
Yoongi looks up at him defiantly, and Jimin moves to wrap a hand in Yoongi’s clothes as well; surprisingly, the eldest doesn’t push him away.
“I’m not afraid of anything, Jungkook. But you want to know what I’m worried about?”
“Yes,” Jimin answers before Jungkook opens his mouth. “We want to help.”
“Maybe I’m worried about what other people would think,” Yoongi gives a shrug, though the answer does not sound very Yoongi-like at all. “Becaue you two don’t get it. Your families fit that perfect mould. You yourselves are perfect examples of how well the Test works and look what the Test can produce: two more ready to be chewed up and spat back out by the system. But my family is considered wrong. We’re called freaks because my parents loved each other, not who the Test told them to.”
“Yoongi-“ It’s only then that Jimin has his hand pushed away, and look in Yoongi’s sharp eyes cold, and he swallows through the lump in his throat. It’s a piercing gaze, one that may as well strike him through the heart, leaving him breathless and unable to move from the action. It’s not a look he ever expected to receive from somebody supposed to love him.
But Yoongi doesn’t stop there.
“My brother and I weren’t even teenagers and we were having things thrown at us, names shouted at us over the street. You know,” he laughs again, that same bitter laugh. “Kids were told not to talk us by their parents, in case something happened. What the fuck is a six year old and a nine year old supposed to do to double the amount of kids the same size as them? Having Unmatched parents opens your eyes a lot more than you would realise, Jimin. And say we face that same treatment? Nobody has ever heard of three soulmates together, not before us, and like fuck do I want to be the societal guinea pig. Fuck that.” Yoongi shakes his head, turning away from Jimin and looking back to Jungkook. “The Test isn’t the be all and end all. If I want to love you, to love both of you, it should be on my terms.”
It’s not something Jungkook expected. Even when he hears the words, the confession, the historical recount of Yoongi’s childhood, he doesn’t listen to the bitterness. Instead, he hears the tremble in his voice, he sees the way his fists clench at his sides until his knuckles turn white, he watches the way Yoongi won’t make eye contact, instead focusing just a little on the mole underneath Jungkook’s bottom lip.
Jimin is the one that moves first after Yoongi’s outburst. His arms wrap tightly around his shoulders, bringing him to his chest, running his fingers over the expanse of his back.
“Whatever happens, we face it together. You don’t have to love us straight away, Yoongi.” Because God knows Jimin doesn’t exactly love them right now either. It takes longer than just a few seconds of eye contact and a firm handshake before you fall for somebody. “But at least let us be friends. Just until we can sort it all out.”
Yoongi doesn’t respond, all that pent-up anger still in his frame, but he does give one nod. A singular nod, and Jungkook releases a breath he didn’t realise he had been holding and Jimin leans his cheek against Yoongi’s head. Perhaps that is all they could really ask for; not all wounds can heal as quickly as they would like.
One hand reaches to the side, and Jimin moves to tug Jungkook into the embrace. Where the three of them can just… be with each other for that moment, without the stress of thinking ‘what happens now’, but rather listening to each other breathe, feeling each other’s heart rates, calming one another down because surely, they will need the calm before the storm.
Fuck… they are really going to need it.