Five year old Yoongi first meets 3-year old Jimin at the playground with the yellow slide. He’s a chubby kid with full cheeks and pouty lips. He was crying. His face is all red and wet from the tears and snot.
Yoongi thinks he’s a pretty thing.
“Mama,” Yoongi calls his mother. “Why is he crying?” he asks, pointing to the crying baby.
His mama smiles at him. “Why don’t you go and ask him?” she says while ruffling his hair. Yoongi makes an icky face at her suggestion. He never liked making friends. The other kids were loud and messy and made fun of him for being quiet. But the crying kid was looking at him now. His eyes were sad and wide. He looks a little lost and still crying and Yoongi finds himself smiling at the boy.
Yoongi didn’t have any intentions of walking to the other boy. He just meant to smile and maybe wave a little before proceeding to the sandbox to play alone. But the crying boy made grabby hands at him and Yoongi never really knew how to say no to cute things.
“Why are you crying?” Yoongi asks softly. The boy wipes his tears before answering in a small voice, “Diminie alone.”
Yoongi frowns at this. “Why is Diminie alone? Where is your mama?”
“No mama. Diminie no mama,” he says. His cries have mellowed down to quiet sobs.
“Papa said Diminie wait here”
“Diminie wait by the yellow slide?” Yoongi asks. “Why is Diminie waiting alone?”
Diminie’s lips wobble as he says, “because… other kids don’t play with Diminie.” He looks up at Yoongi with teary eyes and asks, “why? Why no play with Diminie?”
(5-year old Yoongi thinks this is the prettiest thing in the world – Diminie, with tear tracks on his cheeks, lips set in a pout, and eyes that robbed the sky of its stars)
“Don’t worry,” Yoongi smiles. “I’ll play with you!”
“Really?” the boy asks as if he can’t believe Yoongi would play with him.
Yoongi nods before he adds, “and I’ll wait with you!” The boy looks like he’s about to cry again. Yoongi reaches out to wipe his tears, “so don’t cry now, okay?”
The boy nods eagerly. He reaches out to hold Yoongi’s hand before smiling a wide-toothed grin and saying, “okay!”
(Yoongi thinks this is the closest he’s been to the sun)
(He also thinks the boy is a LOT prettier when smiling)
Diminie holds his hand the entire time. Five year old Yoongi thinks this is the happiest he’s been.
Yoongi is sick.
Which sucks because it’s his first day in third grade and Jimin’s first day being a first grader. Jimin finally got accepted to Yoongi’s grade school or in the younger’s terms, “the big boy school that Yoonie goes to.” Yoongi had this big plan ready. He’d find Jimin during his break, give him the chocolate pudding he saved from last night’s dinner. Then, spend every available minute together. When dismissal comes around, they’d walk home together, hang out at Yoongi’s, and do their homework while Jimin tells him all about his day.
Instead, he’s stuck at home with a stupid fever and a stupid cold and a stupid nose and his stupid bed while Jimin’s in school. Alone. What if he’s lonely? Or scared? What if he’s crying?
He’s disrupted from his thoughts with a loud squeal coming from outside his room. He has just enough time to realize it’s Jimin before his door is thrown open. The boy looks like he’s close to crying when he rushes to Yoongi’s bed.
“Yoonie,” he whispers while crouching at the foot of Yoongi’s bed. “Are you okay?”
Yoongi smiles at him. His day already 100% better now that Jimin’s here. “I have colds and fever, Jiminie. Don’t get too close to hyung”
“if I kiss it better, will it go away hyung?”
Yoongi’s a big boy now. He’s in third grade and he knows kisses don’t really make the sickness go away but Jimin doesn’t know that yet. And his kisses really do make Yoongi feel better, so Yoongi nods his head and watches as a bright grin appears on Jimin’s face.
Jimin stands up and leans forward to place a big wet kiss to Yoongi’s cheek with a smile. “Are you all better now, hyung?”
Yoongi pretends he’s thinking before he nods and exclaims, “you made me feel all better, Jiminie!”
Jimin squeals. He claps his hand excitedly and reaches for the bag on his back. “Yay! I brought you goodies!” He pulls out tiny chocolate bars and different kinds of candies. “We can share them, hyung!”
Yoongi stares as Jimin counts the candies. Probably trying to divide them between the two of them equally. Yoongi smiles before saying, “you can have them all Jimin-ah”
“Really?” Jimin asks in awe. His eyes sparkle, hands already reaching out to the goodies in front of him. “You’re so nice to me hyung,” he says before proceeding to stuff his face with all the goodies he brought.
And there, as 6-year old Jimin sits at the floor of Yoongi’s bedroom, stuffing his face with goodies, Yoongi is filled with warmth and something else, something more. Emotions that are too much for his 8-year old body to contain.
Jimin continues to stuff his face with chocolate. Hands and face smeared with it. He looks like he’s trying to eat all of them at the same time. Yoongi thinks there’s no better time to say it than now.
So he does.
“Jimin-ah,” he whispers. Jimin turns to him. Eyes attentive as he continues to munch through the goodies. “I love you”
Jimin smiles at him – big and wide and bright. He smiles at Yoongi before returning his attention to the treats in front of him. He doesn’t know the weight of the words yet.
“Do you have them?” Yoongi asks as soon as Jimin enters the studio. Well, calling it a studio might be a stretch when it’s really just Hoseok’s small storeroom in his backyard.
Jimin huffs. “That’s the first thing you say to me? No hello Jimin-ah? How was the walk here Jimin-ah?”
Yoongi rolls his eyes at him. “Don’t be dramatic. Do you have them?”
Jimin ignores his question. Choosing instead to look around the room. There’s not much to look at actually. The studio is small and cramped. There’s a desk filled with music equipment in one corner and not enough space for a sofa.
“What do you think of a house plant, hyung?” Jimin asks. “Or a studio plant! Just to put more life in here”
“There’s not enough space. Do you have it,” Yoongi hisses, getting impatient.
It’s Jimin’s turn to roll his eyes, annoyed at how the older refuses to play along. “I do, I do,” he says, opening his bag. “Why do you have to say it like I’m bringing you drugs or other illegal stuff”
“Because you won’t give it to me!” Yoongi makes grabby hands towards Jimin as the younger starts to bring them out one by one.
“I have chocolate bars, cookies, fudge brownies, and some candies. Pick your poison”
Yoongi looks at him in awe. Ever since his mother went on a ‘healthy’ diet, he’s been sweet-deprived. Jimin has taken it upon himself to provide the older with his daily dose of goodies.
“I love you,” Yoongi whispers, reaching out for the cookies. Jimin’s giggles are loud in the cramped room. He fiddles with the candy but doesn’t open it.
“You only say that because I give you goodies”
Yoongi scoffs at him. “Can’t I love you and your sweets?”
Jimin rolls his eyes again but this time there’s a smile on his face. He reaches for his bag and says, “I brought cream puffs too”
Jimin just laughs.
(It’s later when Jimin is asleep, lying on the bean bags on the studio floors, that Yoongi wonders why he can’t love both Jimin and his sweets. It’s trivial at first glance but there’s something in the way Jimin laughed and shook his head in dismissal that rubs Yoongi the wrong way.
It’s later, when Yoongi wakes Jimin and tells him it’s time to go home. It’s during their walk, when the only star visible is the one beside Yoongi and the only light is Jimin’s smile, that Yoongi finds himself wishing Jimin took him seriously.
He spends the entire walk home wondering why.)
(It’s 2 years later when he gets the answer.)
Yoongi is 17 when he comes to terms with the fact that he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend; or as Hoseok liked to say, ‘whipped as fuck.’
And it’s okay, Yoongi thinks.
There are days when the love is calm – when they’re walking together and the setting sun is their background. The only sound you can hear is Jimin’s voice and Yoongi’s hums. Days when the love is silent – it’s Yoongi waiting for Jimin after practice. It’s Jimin’s warm presence in the cold, cramped space of Yoongi’s studio; Yoongi’s only company for the night. Days when the love is comfort and honey. It’s Jimin hugging him tightly as he cries himself to sleep because the world is too harsh and unkind. It’s Yoongi holding Jimin’s hand in new places because Jimin never quite liked change. Days when the love is a soft hum, a buzz under Yoongi’s skin – content, embedded in the deepest parts of his being; when loving Jimin is just part of who he is.
But there are days when the love is loud and deafening. It’s the sound of gunfire when cheers erupt in the dance hall and Jimin is sweaty and tired but bright; so, so bright and Yoongi is proud. The ‘I love you’ is stuck at the tip of his tongue and he tries hard to reign it in. Days when the love is grating; like scratches on a chalkboard and there’s a different arm around Jimin’s shoulders or a face too close for comfort. It’s bright red to Yoongi and a reminder that Jimin is beautiful and loved by others and him. It’s days when Yoongi wonders if he’s worth staying for; nights wondering when Jimin would leave.
Days when the love is throbbing. A steady beating of heartbeats roaring like drums in Yoongi’s ears – when Jimin is close to him, smiling and warm and bright. And the love is too much for Yoongi to keep, to contain, to hide. They’re all bursting at the seams and the ‘I love you’ is begging to be said. So, Yoongi says it.
“I love you,” he confesses. They’re in Yoongi’s room, buried in their homework and Jimin stops. He looks at Yoongi, smiles softly and asks, “on what basis?”
– on the calm and silent; and the comfort of honey you give. On the basis of all that is loud, deafening and grating. On the basis of my heart beating and my skin buzzing. On the basis of all the ‘I love you’ s I never said and the ‘I love you’ s I wish to say.
“You make me happy,” Yoongi answers.
Jimin chuckles. “I make everyone happy. I make people feel special. You love how I make you feel,” he says dismissively. Jimin returns his focus to work and Yoongi doesn’t answer.
There’s something sad about what Jimin said. It’s too full of disbelief and doubt that it hurts Yoongi. He would’ve said something more but he knows Jimin wouldn’t pay attention.
They leave it at that.
(It’s later, when Yoongi’s alone and Jimin had left, that Yoongi thinks it’s sad that Jimin makes him happy but wouldn’t let the older love him.
Yoongi sleeps thinking of his smile.)
It’s on Jimin’s 18th birthday that he tries confessing again.
It’s a Friday when Yoongi takes the train from Seoul to Busan with a bouquet of flowers in his arms. (Jimin’s always loved flowers). He takes the bus to Jimin’s high school and waits. And when Jimin sees him standing by the gates, the younger squeals and runs to him. Yoongi feels like he’s god’s favorite.
He treats Jimin to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. There’s a big smile on both their faces the whole time. He buys Jimin a double scoop before dragging him to the hills.
The sun is setting and Jimin’s playing with the snow globe Yoongi gave him when Yoongi tries again.
“I love you,” he says. “I want to make you happy.”
Jimin scoffs before he answers, “because if I’m happy, I can make you happy.”
“Why do you think like that?” Yoongi asks, hurt and annoyed. “Is that how you love?”
Jimin stops playing with the snowball. Yoongi bites his tongue. He’s about to apologize when Jimin replies, “no.” The younger looks at him. He’s contemplating, eyes filled with speckles of something unreadable.
Jimin leans in until their faces are mere inches away. “This is how I love,” he says. Yoongi closes his eyes in reflex.
There’s a pair of soft lips touching his forehead. Jimin whispers, “I love like this – calm.” Jimin leaves a soft kiss just under his left eye, “proud,” and his other, “patient.” He leaves another on Yoongi’s nose, “caring.” He kisses Yoongi’s left cheek, “ardent,” and his right, “soft.”
There’s a pause but before Yoongi can open his eyes, Jimin kisses him. On the lips. Where Yoongi would never forget. It’s soft. Just enough to feel but not enough to taste. And he says, “waiting.”
(Jimin pulls back after that. He smiles at Yoongi softly but he doesn’t say anything. They pretend it didn’t happen. Yoongi acts as if it’s not all he thinks about.)
Contrary to what Yoongi wants and expects, they’re not boyfriends; but they’re not just bestfriends either. They’re something Yoongi can’t name and Jimin’s too afraid to. So, they’re here – at a standstill, an impasse, an almost.
More importantly, they’re at a party. The lights make Jimin more beautiful and of course it’s there and then. It’s at the middle of a party with drunk college kids at the background that Yoongi confesses again.
“Jimin-ah?” Jimin hums. “I –“
“You love me?” Jimin cuts him off, eyebrow raised. He has that look on his face as if saying Yoongi’s become predictable.
“No.” Yoongi blinks. “I…I want to stay with you,” he stammers, trying to save himself. Jimin squints his eyes at him. Yoongi continues, “…and make you happy…”
Yoongi sighs, “…and I love you.”
“Until when?” Jimin asks. He looks at Yoongi expectantly. The question catches Yoongi off guard. His confessions often end with Jimin dismissing him but it’s different now. Yoongi wonders for a second what makes this different. He stares at Jimin as he mulls over his words, trying to figure out which one’s the right one. But before he gets the chance to reply, Jimin speaks again.
“And if you say until forever, you’re lying. People die. And if reincarnation does exist, people forget. So how can you love me then?
“If you say for a lifetime, you’re still lying. People are fickle beings, always changing. If you promise me a lifetime, then you promise me to go against the very nature of your being. Do you promise that, hyung?” Jimin asks. His gaze hard and unwavering.
Yoongi tries not to stumble over his words as he says, “until you want me to, then.”
Jimin huffs, “and what if it’s a bad day and I hate the world. And all I want is to be alone. So I tell you, ‘Yoongi-hyung, I don’t want you to love me –‘“
“Is that not what you’re doing now?” Yoongi mumbles.
“– will you stop loving me then?” Jimin finishes.
It’s quiet as they stare at each other. Yoongi’s ran out of words to say and Jimin has nothing more. Jimin smiles softly before he leaves.
Yoongi looks for another drink.
(It’s later, when Yoongi’s lying on his bed. He’s still a little tipsy. Still thinking about Jimin. Always thinking of Jimin. It’s later, when Yoongi asks the universe, “until when do you love a person?”
The universe is silent.)
It’s two years later when the universe gives Yoongi a reply.
The moment the train doors open, Yoongi runs home. He pushes past the people. It’s been two years since their conversation. It’s two years later when the answer finally reaches Yoongi.
He runs home – to Jimin’s smile, to their shared shoebox apartment. Between the two of them, Yoongi has always been the poet; the one with the fancy metaphors and rhyming words.
But Jimin, Jimin’s pure. And raw. And honest. And he never asked for the universe.
Jimin startles as Yoongi slams the door open. And as he tries to catch his breath, Yoongi tells him, “I love you.” It’s a little breathless and not for the reason Yoongi would’ve wanted.
He repeats again, “I love you.”
There’s a smile on Jimin’s lips and a knowing look on his face. He looks like he’s waited all this time for Yoongi to catch up.
Jimin never asked for forever or the universe.
“Until when?” the younger asks.
All he ever wanted was Yoongi.
“Until the nature of my being allows me.”
It’s quiet for a minute. The universe calms as it tries to fix itself. Jimin smiles brighter. The earth turns again.
“Tomorrow. The café near my college building. Noon.”
The universe is happy.
(“I’ll bring you flowers”
“I expect you to”)
(“I love you”
(“I love you”)
(“I love you too, hyung”)