The rain splatters against the pane like gunfire. Jimin lies on his bed, on his back, eyes open and counts each bullet that hits the glass. He wonders if he can wish them into reality so that he could die right now, blood spurting out and staining the bedsheets a wonderful crimson color. His lungs would slowly cease to function and his skin turn pale from oxygen loss, and slowly – beautifully slowly – he would cease to exist.
“Jimin!” comes a faint call and a rapid succession of knocks against his front door. “I’m coming in.”
There’s the gentle beeping sound of the keycode being pressed in, then the door swings open, light casting a fine path into the dark room. Jimin folds a hand over his eyes to block it out.
“Jimin,” Hoseok chides as he enters. A click as the lights are turned on. A rustling as plastic bags are dropped. A soft snick as the fridge door is opened. Hoseok and Seokjin have been alternately doing the shopping and cooking for Jimin to the point that Jimin feels guilty.
Before it all happened he would be up and running to help take the bags off Hoseok and get him something to drink. But now sorrow drowns out everything else.
Jimin feels the soft sink of his mattress as Hoseok slides over the bed and tentatively sits down. He’s still treating Jimin with kid gloves. All of them are. After the incident where Jimin had snapped and thrown his ceramic plate at Seokjin’s head – narrowly missing his cranium by millimeters – they have been treading around him warily.
What do you mean I should just accept it! He’s not gone. He’s not gone. He’ll be there tomorrow, whining that’s it’s too god-early and that I should shut the curtains and, and, and…
He’ll be there in the morning.
He can’t be anywhere else.
He can’t be. Yoongi can’t be-
“You probably haven’t eaten yet, right Jimin?” Hoseok nudges at his shoulder.
“Not hungry,” Jimin mumbles, voice muffled underneath the blankets he’s burrowed into. If he tries, he thinks he can still smell Yoongi on the sheets.
“You should still eat something,” Hoseok says, words soft as a feather’s down. Jimin know his expression right now will be one of despair, frustration that he cannot do anything for Jimin.
There’s lead in Jimin’s belly, heavy, and it drags him down, anchors him to the bed. He knows he should move, to please Hoseok if anything, but his limbs are just too heavy and the thought of peeling himself away feels like he’ll have to rip off his skin to do so.
Hoseok sighs. “I’ve left some food in the microwave. If you feel better later then please heat it up and eat.”
A shift of the sheets and Hoseok is at the door. “Seokjin-hyung says he’ll drop by later tonight to check on you. I have class now, but Jimin-“ There’s a pause. Jimin knows what words unspoken he wants to say. Please get up Jimin. Please step outside. Please. We miss you. We miss Yoongi too. But Yoongi wouldn’t want this. Yoongi wouldn’t want you to-
Hoseok exhales harshly. “Please eat,” he says and the door shuts behind him.
When Jimin wakes it is still raining. His stomach rumbles but he feels no urge to get up and go to the microwave where he’s sure Hoseok has bought his favorite noodles and left them with an extra-large topping of kimchi, just the way Jimin always likes it. But he should. He really shouldn’t let Hoseok good will go to waste.
Jimin groans and throws aside the bed cover. Goosebumps ripple across his bare arms instantly. He uses this as motivation to get up and shuffle out. His limbs feel waterlogged, disobedient to his will.
He gives himself orders. Maybe he’ll function better that way. Move to the kitchen. Heat up the food. Eat. Then you can-
A flicker in the window catches his attention. His head jerks to look, but there’s nothing. Just the falling rain, a veil of whiteness that has enveloped Seoul City. Maybe it was just a bird fleeing for shelter. Or a plastic bag in the wind.
Then it happens again. A sharp flash of white at the edges of his peripheral vision.
Jimin takes half a step forwards, eyes wide and searching. His fingers press into the cold, cold glass but he sees nothing. Just his imagination playing up…
Jimin pulls back, feeling the hollowness in his chest grow again.
There’s the imprint of his fingertips on the pane. They stand out starkly, pressure the evidence of his momentary panic. Jimin watches as they fade slowly, swallowed by the heat of the room and the coolness of the outside and then they-
A ghost of the imprint indented there, fingertips dug in, palm less prominent. It doesn’t match up to Jimin’s handspan. It’s slightly smaller than his, previously hidden underneath the width of his own hand. But now that has faded and what is left behind is…
Jimin reaches up in a trance like state and wipes across the print with his index finger. It does not smudge.
Face up close, he exhales, and a plume of cloud crawls across the window, marring the fine handprint there. He wipes it away with the heel of his palm and it clears a clean track across save for the fingerprints still pressed there on the other side of the window.
But that is not possible. The studio flat Jimin and Yoongi own is four stories high and there is no balcony outside.
“Hyung?” Jimin whispers and his breath billows. The temperature feels like it has plummeted ten degrees. “Yoongi-hyung?”
His voice is thin and reedy. Jimin wonders if he is going mad.
“Please,” he begs. “If you’re there…”
The handprint fades and so does Jimin’s sanity.
He lets himself crumple to the floor, knees hitting hard on the wooden flooring. He doesn’t feel the pain. The hollowness grows and Jimin wonders: why did Yoongi have to go?
He doesn’t even realize he’s crying till the teardrops hit the floor, tiny patters of rain from the storm inside his heart.
Then, there’s a tap at the window. Jimin looks up slowly, prepared to be disappointed, but instead is met with a fresh handprint that overlays the previous faded one.
And Jimin recognizes them. That palm. Those fingers. The little creases in between. He’s spent nights intertwined with them, days watching them grip pencils and scrawl lyrics across lines, countless hours kissing them.
“Hyung,” he says softly, this time with certainty and steps upwards, one fluid movement that brings his hand to the glass pane. “Come out Yoongi-hyung. Come out please.”
It’s like watching someone emerge from a pool, water spilling down and over a set frame, picking out each feature and plastering it to their very bones. Yoongi appears just like that. Hair flattened to his skull, eyes, nose, lips, the column of his throat which gives way to the breadth of his chest and the stretch of his arm and finally, to his fingers which are pressed against the window pane and underneath Jimin’s hand.
His expression is that of tragedy.
“Don’t look so sad hyung,” Jimin whispers, pressing up as close to the window as he humanely can. As if doing so will let him touch Yoongi.
But he can’t. He knows he can’t.
There’s rain falling down around the two of them, outside, inside, a storm that Jimin thinks won’t cease even when the clouds stop crying.
It’s raining again. A sky made of grey and navy and all shades of what has been lost. Jimin stands there, not feeling the cold, but feeling a chill far worse envelope his entire body.
“Jimin! Get inside!” someone shouts.
He doesn’t move. He can’t move.
Jimin’s not too sure who is calling out to him. Everything else is a blur but that one spot of focus.
A sprawled body. A dash of red.
Someone slaps Jimin hard across the face. Jimin staggers backwards with the blow and looks up to see Seokjin, face pale, chest heaving. “Go inside Jimin,” he says, clearly working hard to keep his voice level, to keep the terror at bay. “Hoseok, go with him.”
“Go!” Seokjin snaps and Seokjin so rarely ever raises his voice that Hoseok obeys instantly. There’s a hand that tugs at Jimin, guiding him indoors like a lost sheep and then a soft towel that dries him. But even warm and dry, the trembling doesn’t stop.
Jimin can hear still hear the sirens ringing in his ear.
“Jimin,” Hoseok is saying but it’s faded, like background music. “Jimin!”
He can still see the scene imprinted on the back of his eyelids. A fallen body, a car hurriedly skidded to a halt. Yoongi had only been a pace behind him. And now... Now he’s…
Yoongi smiles sadly and looks to their joined hands, separated only by a window and a world.
“Smile for me hyung,” Jimin all but begs. Yoongi can only offer him a downturned smile.
I can’t you idiot, he seems to say with his eyes alone. I can’t, because I’m dead.
Yoongi doesn’t remember dying much. One moment he was walking behind Jimin who had spinning his umbrella, flicking water all over Yoongi’s shoulder to the point that he had rolled his eyes and taken a step backwards, having given up on staying dry. He held out a hand and watched as water had trickled through his fingers.
He hadn’t even seen the car coming, skidding across slicked tar. All he had seen was the bright shine of head lights and knew that it was heading right for Jimin. Instinct had overridden logic and the last thing Yoongi remembers is the warmth of Jimin’s wrist under Yoongi’s grasp and the sound of tyres screeching. Rain and burnt rubber filled the air.
The next moment Yoongi had opened eyes to cold rain. Only, he couldn’t feel the cold anymore.
It had taken him a good few minutes to realize that something was wrong. Time seemed different. The people are him were different. He felt like he had woken to a different age.
It hadn’t been a different age, but time had passed, that much was clear.
He had died and awoken at the very same spot.
Yoongi had turned, ninety degrees, his body’s rusty cogs slowly grinding back to normality. There to the east, the studio apartment that he had lived in alone throughout his first two university years until Park Jimin had stumbled into his life.
He couldn’t help but go.
Jimin had been sitting on the floor, back to the wall and staring into space. Yoongi had squatted down to eye level, but almost immediately had leapt backwards. The dull pair of eyes that had stared back had scared him. They were glassy, like the fish on sale at market, iced over and black like oil. His hair was a mess and his clothes rumpled as if he had been wearing them for days.
Jimin had looked half dead himself.
Yoongi couldn’t help it. Instinct moved him to reach over and cup a hand around Jimin’s cheek, a gesture borne of habit and intimacy. But before he could make contact, there was a voice.
“You shouldn’t do that,” someone said and Yoongi whipped around.
“Who are you?” Yoongi had asked warily, subconsciously shifting his body to shield Jimin.
The man had raised both hands amicably. “My name is Namjoon,” he had said. “I sensed a fellow Ghost in the area and thought I’d pop in to see who it was.”
“Ghost...?” Yoongi echoed hollowly. He stared down at his hands. It was only then that his body wavered, skin there one second and the next he could see through to bone, the slim lengths that bent and crooked as he flexed them. And then skin and cartilage had returned and his hand was normal. As normal as a human hand may seem.
“What does this mean?” Yoongi had whispered, feeling faint.
“It means we should not be interacting with the living,” Namjoon had said bluntly. “We are dead and so we have no right to interfere with the living.”
Yoongi had looked back at Jimin, still hunched over, hands limp in his lap. “I can’t just leave him like this,” he said fiercely.
“You have to,” Namjoon had said sternly. His eyes were like beacons, warning Yoongi against any ill action. “There are consequences if you make yourself known to him.”
Yoongi’s eyes sharpened. “Which means I can.”
Namjoon exhaled, frustrated. “You can,” he admitted. “But like I said, you shouldn’t. We’re ghosts. We’re stuck in the past. But they,” he gestured to Jimin. “They’re alive, flesh and pumping blood, and we have no right to tie them down.”
Yoongi’s eyes flickered.
Namjoon read the indecision there. He let out a small sigh, knowing his words were unlikely to be heeded. “Think it over,” he said shortly. “Just know that I’m saying this for your own good. Nothing comes well of the dead meddling with the living.”
I know it because I’ve seen it, his eyes seemed to say.
He gave one short nod to Yoongi, and then he was gone. Vanished with the wind.
Yoongi had taken his words to heart and chose to spend the next few days simply watching Jimin. Not that Jimin changed much. He mostly sat there, or lay in their bed, eyes staring not at the walls but at something beyond.
Hoseok and Seokjin dropped in every hour or so, sometimes alone, sometimes together.
From their brief chats he gathered that he had died over two weeks ago. In that interval his wake had been held and police reports resolved.
Initially Jimin had been placed on a round-the-clock monitor. His parents had called every day. Hoseok and Seokjin had slept over in turns, fitfully waking up every now and then. But time had showed that Jimin held no suicidal tendencies and a doctor had recommended slowly giving him space and independence.
But Jimin just sat there, a soulless puppet.
Yoongi wanted to change that. But he didn’t know how.
And then he had slipped up. Had seen Jimin move of his own volition for the first time in days and it had excited him. Yoongi had stepped forwards, hands pressed to the window eyes wide so as to not miss a thing. He was doing it! He was getting better. He could-
Jimin had turned, eyes sharp and drawn as always to Yoongi. Yoongi had stumbled back. He wasn’t supposed to see him. Wasn’t supposed to sense him. The dead were not meant to meddle with the living.
Jimin’s voice had been rough with disuse, but it was still that wavering high pitch of uncertainty and fear and Yoongi wanted to wrap his arms around it.
Jimin was on his knees and Yoongi couldn’t help but press his hands against the window pane again, the urge to touch him and comfort him too strong.
And Jimin could see him. See him for what he was.
“Come out Yoongi-hyung.”
“Don’t be so sad Yoongi-hyung.”
“Smile for me hyung.”
Oh Yoongi wishes he could. But he can’t. He really can’t.
Because he’s dead. And Jimin is alive.
And it’s as simple as that.