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Shatters of the numerous vases can be heard from even outside the Chairman’s office, but no one dares to go in. No one dares to say a single word, as a heavy silence washes in waves over the Jeon premises.

She passes by the numerous Jeon staff starting to murmur wonders of what’s going to happen now, if they were all going to lose their jobs, what the state of the future was. The mansion is silent except for the hushed uncertain whispers and the bold click of her heels.

Despite the wide eyes, she stops in front of the familiar, big red doors. Standing in front of it now, thirty years older than she was when she first entered these doors, perhaps she should have foreseen this as a red flag back then, back when she was naive and loved the color dearly. The color of the doors that used to bring her warmth, comfort, and excitement, now paints an ugly, dull color, just a reminder of the person she used to be.

She wasn’t that person anymore, she was certain. Twenty-five years was more than enough time to grow, to mature, to become herself. The sacrifices she made in exchange for those years to herself were always haunting the back of her mind.

And one day, she woke up. She woke up and saw the world, woke up and saw past her limitations, woke up and saw herself rotting by his side. Through the many regrets she’s had, leaving was one she couldn’t afford to apologize for.

She couldn’t apologize, not to herself. Not to anyone else. Not even to her beautiful, lovable son she had to leave behind. She’s amazed at the bold, confident man he has become, but she knows she can’t be credited for his growth.

He’s turned out to be a stronger, bolder person than she ever was, is, and would ever become. Perhaps she should be a little bit more like him, and perhaps that was why she was able to come here. Maybe Jungkook gave her a push of courage.

With a deep exhale, she pushes past the doors for what she assumes to be her last, final time.

The office looks like a fitting place for the befallen Chairman; papers and files scattered everywhere, even making a hill in some corners of the room. She easily walks over the shattered bits of the vases he broke in her heels, the deliberate and bolder clacks of her heels echoing to let him know that he was no longer alone in the room.

Even when she makes her presence known to the Chairman, he doesn’t acknowledge her. 

Perhaps, just a little, seeing him in such a messy state, she feels like she’s won, even if it was a minimal victory. For the elite, prestigious Chairman she had lost her life to was sitting silently at his desk, eyes lost, hair tousled, and clothes crinkled. 

“You’re a mess,” she thinks aloud, but even then, the Chairman doesn’t so much flinch or breathe in her direction. She thinks it was like this back then, too, when she was still far too blinded by his light to see the manipulative, lonely person behind his title. Despite the lows they had shared, she finds even in this moment that she can’t bring herself to despise him the way she wants to, knowing that they had both shared the same burden. Growing up side by side with the Chairman, she knew the restraints of the system suffocated him the same way it did her.

They were two of the same pod, after all. She wasn’t any better than him, and nor was he. She had managed to find a way out, and he simply hadn’t. 

Or maybe, there had been no way out for him, really. Perhaps his downfall was fated to be.

She doesn’t believe in fate anymore, she knows this. She has to remind herself every once in a while, so she allows herself a moment to think that perhaps he had been the cause of his own downfall, not some vague concept known as fate.

A moment of silence comes over the room, but the tension no longer bothers her.

“Jisun,” he finally acknowledges, words slurred. It’s only then she realizes his intoxicated state, as if maybe a drink would take him away from this reality.

He wasn’t going to get away that easy.

“How unbecoming of you,” she scolds gently, “as the Chairman of the prestigious Zodiakos, to allow yourself to succumb to this state.”

“Have you come to gloat at me?”

“Nonsense,” she muses, “Me? Come all the way here from my beautiful home in Paris, just to gloat at you? Surely, you must know me better than that.”

“You are capable of more things than I had ever imagined,” he rallies spitefully, “especially when it comes to me and what you believe I’ve taken from you.”

“Perhaps,” she’s able to smile amidst the tension, “and truly, if I were the same person I was even just five years ago, I might’ve come here just to gloat at you.”

His eyes are unforgiving and suspicious, as usual. She used to believe that behind his hardness was a lonely man that she could save and become closer to, but over the years, she realizes the hardness of his shell was mere stubbornness and perhaps even a factor in his demise. 

She thinks being able to look past all this and reflecting back with feelings of mere nostalgia was perhaps a sign of healing.

“Are you here to pity me then?”

“Nonsense. I give pity to those who deserve it.”

“Ever the spiteful woman,” he snarks, but she merely shakes her head.

“Look at you. Look at your surroundings, listen to your tone, then observe me.” As if to make a point, she shifts her purse from her arm to her shoulder, pausing as his eyes stay latched on her. “Am I the spiteful one, or are you?”

“So you are here to gloat.”

“I’m here to scold you,” she responds disapprovingly, “about the trouble you made Jungkook go through.”

His eyes are hard, harder than she’s ever seen it. “Don’t mention his name. You ran away from your obligation to him, what gives you the right to suddenly concern him as if he were your own?”

Contrary to what he must’ve expected, she laughs. “You were by his side the whole time, and still didn’t fulfill your obligation to him, either. The two of us, we’re just awful parents trying to use our son to get leverage over the other. Don’t act like you’re so much better than me, you old fool. Even Seonghwa was a better parent to him in the short time she was in his life than you were.”

He wants his words to hurt her. “I’ll always regret the day I married you.”

But she’s no longer affected. “As will I.”

A silence tugs over the two once again, and she reaches into her purse. “I’m not here to gloat or pity you,” she reiterates, “only to wish you a lifetime of happiness.”

This time, he laughs. “You? Wishing me happiness? We both know that’s a lie, Jisun.”

“Perhaps you’re still stuck in your own stubbornness and pride, but I am no longer stuck in that same place. Perhaps,” she pulls out a small card, “I despised and loved you for as long as I did because we were too similar. I saw too much of myself in you, and perhaps that is why I can still wish you happiness.”

A few more clicks of her heels to reach his desk, placing the card down. “I’ve made a person of myself. I took my love, my interests, and your resources to build myself on something. I’m learning perfuming, and recently with the help of some friends, I launched a line curated fully by me. Maybe one day, you can visit with her.”

He shows no reaction to the card, not even throwing a glance its way, but she’s unfazed. She knows the card will end up ripped or thrown in the trash bin, but perhaps it was because of everything he took from her that she was satisfied with merely wanting to show that she had become something.

Something outside of him, really. She’s no longer the Jeon Jisun who had grown up, contained and groomed to become a trophy wife who smiled with ease at the cameras.

“Goodbye, Joonki-sshi.”

She turns around, retreating back on the way she came, but exiting the room feels so much longer than entering had been. She doesn’t look back, knowing despite her words, this would be the last time she sees him again.

Jeon Jisun was finally free.




[EMERGENCY] Outrage in the Midst of Chaos

By Lee Soyeon from The Era of Stars (TEOS)

January 1st, 20XX. 05:32 am

 

As the clock strikes midnight to welcome in the new year, we receive information that would perhaps point to the end of the Era of the Stars.

As if intentionally starting the new year with a fresh start, we touch upon the bustling case of the Jeon heir, Virgo Jeon Jungkook, who was recently deemed guilty with heavy charges of treason along with Sagittarius Kim Seokjin, ex-Team Leader of the RRT.

The search for the two traitors has come to an end, but in a way no one has predicted. The outcome everyone expected with the two behind bars has flipped to citizens angrily rioting outside the iron bars of the gates to the prestigious Jeon mansion. The grey mansion looks a bit more lonely today, hidden behind the dreadful foggy morning.

The CCTV video proof evidence and documents have been summarized in the video link below:

www.neotube.com/jc-njdkh/ui2h383921j

(Leave suggestions for renaming The Era of the Stars.)

 

↳@d2saiki: ??????????????

     ↳@d2saiki: wait does that mean no more zodiakos like…. u just meet whoever? just like that????

        ↳@RRT: We take these comments and concerns very seriously. We will be taking action as needed.

          ↳@d2saiki: WE ARE FREE PEOPLE NOW U CANT DO SHIT




[BREAKING] Jeon heir’s Return

By Hyun Soo-Ah from Hanbam

January 1st, 20XX. 07:12 am

 

Virgo Jeon Jungkook, recently charged for treason as the Jeon heir, has made his first public appearance in two months.

Sagittarius Kim Seokjin by his side, the two arrive boldly arm in arm to the very gates the public are gathered outside of. A fury of questions from reporters surrounds them, but the two don’t seem to be fazed. Lips sealed, they only requested an audience with the Chairman before deciding to say anything on the matter.

There has been no news on the Chairman yet, however.

 

↳@jjkflicks: wtf the chairman cheated on his wife??? 

     ↳@jjkpegger: on such a fine ass woman too smh only sapphics treat women right istg

↳@JEONHOTCHEETOS: scorpio men truly are at the bottom of the barrel 🤢🤢




[NEW] The Chairman’s Arrest

By Ki Hyunbin from Daily News Today

January 1st, 09:42 am.

 

The long-awaited arrest of the Chairman was confirmed this morning at around 9 am.

It seems the audience that was requested with the Chairman from the couple who had quickly become the new hot issue over the past few hours was denied, as the Virgo and Sagittarius finally exhaust their patience and leave the scene of the arrest. 

After the arrest was confirmed by the officials, the charges against the Jeon-Kim couple have all been dropped. All eyes are hungrily looking at their screens as the country anxiously awaits more updates about the fate of Zodiakos.

The Chairman is to be held in the same cell he coldheartedly had his son incarcerated in. It seems the end of Zodiakos ends in irony alone.



White Turns to Ash

By Lee Miyeon from MB*

January 1st, 11:52 am

 

The day is grey.

The once prestigious Jeon mansion is grey. The sky is grey. The grave silence is grey. The anxiety in the hearts of every citizen is grey. The esteemed whitecoats associated with the prestigious crest of the Waxing Moons finally turn grey.

Lives turned upside down, the enraged whitecoats throw their once symbolic and proud coats into a massive fire just outside the RRT center. The white walls that once held captive those who also stained the white of Zodiakos seem a bit more dim today.

Jeon Jungkook, in place of his silently failed father, agrees to an interview at the overlap of noon. 

Uneasy restlessness from the country can only hope that their fates aren’t grey either.

 

↳@jamaisvu: uhh yall i just woke up bc i’m too hungover from the new years party wdym grey fates what’s going on

↳@6sejeong: what a horrible father… apparently director jeon’s request for an audience was straight up denied too, like that’s your son?? my sister works as staff in the jeon mansion can confirm

     ↳@jksfavebae: i was the jeon mansion can confirm

↳@jksfavebae: ayo if the jeon family gets removed can i live in that mansion idc how grey it is

     ↳@JEONHOTCHEETOS: there is a country at stake here

        ↳@jksfavebae: the aquarius in me could never be bothered




 

 

The doors finally open, and the heavy silence suffocating the room finally eases with a collective sigh from the individuals, four pairs of eyes sharply redirecting their attention to the opened doors.

Mr. Shin, seemingly older than Seokjin had last remembered, only bows his head respectfully the way he always has, before his eyes meet his.

“The Chairman requests a meeting with the ex-Team Leader.”

Seokjin thinks his legs might have trembled just a bit as he sighs once more, the couple brushing themselves off as they rise from their seats before Mr. Shin raises a hand. “ Alone , with the ex-Team Leader.”

Seokjin doesn’t have to look at Jungkook to know what kind of face he’s making. “Whatever he has to say, he can say to both of u—”

“Jungkook,” Seokjin quietly urges, his hand rising to touch his shoulder gently, “It’s okay.”

“Hyung—”

“You’ll get your chance to say what you want to him when he’s ready to accept the consequences.” Seokjin slides on his jacket, Jungkook’s hands moving automatically to help him zip it up. “I have something to say to him, too.”

Seokjin’s eyes plead, the way he naively has the thought that they could communicate even with just a look of their eyes. No matter how many times he convinces himself that it’s ridiculous to know enough to be able to communicate without words, the dissatisfaction in Jungkook’s eyes disappears as if he truly does understand his pleads and dryly smiles.

“Come back soon, okay?”

Seokjin warmly smiles and reaches to squeeze his hand. “Of course.”

The hallways of the mansion are as dark and lonely as he always remembered them to be. They were never comfortable to make his way around, often getting lost to the point where he had finally constructed a map himself and memorized it all in the late nights after work. Looking back on it now, he starts wondering what he had worked so ridiculously hard for. To please the chairman? To get rid of one more thing he couldn’t do?

The chairman looks as dark and lonely as the home he resided in did. The staircase leading down to the very jail den he had changed his path in was one he never imagined to ever venture into again, and as he pushes past the door, he is greeted by the lonely back of the once esteemed chairman. 

Surprisingly, no anger or rage fills in the voids of his heart. What he feels for the despicable chairman is just… empty . He wonders if this emptiness he felt was maybe a small fraction of the void Jungkook must be feeling.

Even after Mr. Shin announces his arrival and leaves, the two only stay silent, not daring to move from their places. The room is silent, but it almost feels like an unspoken conversation. The chairman’s aura is just a bit similar to Jungkook, Seokjin can see, but Jungkook was nowhere near hungry as he was.

“Seokjin-sshi,” he finally acknowledges, although his back is still turned. Proud, as Seokjin will always remember him. Even behind bars, charged with treason, and as a failure of a father and leader, his lonely back is turned proudly.

He wonders briefly what it must have been like for Jungkook to grow under such harmful pride.

“Mr. Chairman.”

“Please,” the elder cackles dryly, “I am no longer the Chairman.”

“To me, you always will be. I looked up to you my whole life, sir.”

“But you look down on me now.” His proud back finally turns to acknowledge Seokjin’s person, eyes scanning him naturally as if trying to determine his worth. Long ago, Seokjin would’ve never crumbled under his gaze, knowing he was a valuable asset to him. Now, Seokjin can only think of pity.

Pitiful of his pride that had been his downfall. Pitiful of the farce he puts up even in the face of defeat. Pitiful of his past self, who had respected and admired such an inadequate figure.

Lastly, pitiful of the family the chairman had worked so hard to protect, but ultimately, destroyed himself.

“I do no such thing, sir. I still cannot look down on you, even as I’m standing on the victory side of the iron bars between us.”

“That’s what I liked about you, Seokjin-sshi. You were always so dedicated, straight by the book, and loyal. Your betrayal to me by running away with my son perhaps shocked me more than his betrayal.”

“It shocks me how little you think of Jungkook, even as you go from sitting on the throne to the floors of a cell.”

“There was not much to think about him. He was the only flaw in my plans, one that I tried my best to correct because I only wanted the best for him. I thought you meeting him would be a good thing, and that you’d correct him in the ways I couldn’t. That’s why I started putting him in charge of overseeing RRT affairs; alas, it backfired.”

“And it turns out he didn’t need correcting all along.” 

It was us who did.

We ,” the chairman leans forward, “can still correct this. Correct all of this. What would the country do without the stars they look up to every night? What would the country do, lost in a love that isn’t supposed to work? What would the country do, roaming free believing they’ve beaten fate? It can still be corrected, but only you can do it.”

There it was, Seokjin sighs, the real reason the Chairman had called for him, but not his son.

“Say the evidence is fabricated. Pin the blame on Jungkook. I’ll even have Kenny accountable, saying that the CCTV evidence he presented of the night you had run away with him was fabricated by Jungkook as well.”

Seokjin’s glad he has a lot of control over his facial muscles, otherwise the expression he would’ve made would’ve been harsher than any spoken curse. 

“We’ll say it was to force you into hiding with him, that his love was one-sided. I’ll drop the charges on you, even get you something new for that.” His eyes look pointedly at Seokjin’s decapitated wrist. “Can you really rebuild a new world if Zodiakos crumbles? Lead a country without the very system they learn about in early education? Lead a world separate from the stars? Do you think the public will approve of you and Jungkook together even after this is over? You will always be scrutinized, watched, condemned. You don’t think that would strain you? Or strain Jungkook away from you? Don’t you…”

Seokjin’s steps coming closer to the cell effectively forces the chairman’s voice to falter. He sighs as he crouches over, leaning in just enough to see the cloudiness of the chairman’s eyes and the gears turning in his ancient head. Even in such a situation, it both impresses and astonishes Seokjin how he could keep thinking of ways to try to save himself.

Perhaps his strong survival instinct was what kept him afloat for so long, in the grand scheme of things. But Seokjin doesn’t think about that kind of stuff anymore. He thinks he’s just exhausted, playing so many mind games and thinking too much. Frankly, in this moment, he would give anything for the day to be over and he gets to crawl under the covers with Jungkook for the night.

“Mr. Chairman, the level of delusion you have reached is high. I pray that you come back down to Earth as soon as you can, so that you can face your punishment head-on with a ready heart, and finally be the man I had admired you to be from a young age.”

The elder’s eyes narrow. “It’s not like you to make consecutive bad decisions in a row, Seokjin-sshi. Do you really wish to make me an enemy? Do you know what I am capable of?”

“There is no more fight to win or lose, sir.” He straightens up, stretching his back and arms up before finally easing his stance. “Do not worry. I will give Jungkook plenty of love, to make up for the love he couldn’t receive from you. I will put his happiness first, the way you couldn’t. And I will make sure you never have the audacity to show your face to him first ever again.”

“You don’t know what I can do.”

“I am fully aware, as someone who tried their best to model you. I notice a lot more than you give me credit for.” Seokjin tilts his head to the side, eyes unwavering. “It seems you don’t know what I can do.”

The room is silent again as Seokjin closes the door behind him. Then, he hears an enraged, muted scream, but it barely falters his steps taking him farther, and farther away.

He just wants to find Jungkook. He hopes Jungkook isn’t too many steps away.



 

 

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“All these messages get recorded, right?”

“Yes, ma’am. What’s your emergency?”

“Good… good. My name is Jeon Jisun, I need to leave a message for my son, Jeon Jungkook. I’m on flight 226 to Paris and the plane is going down.”

“Your plane is going down, ma’am?”

“Please, please look, I don’t have a lot of time. I-I need to say something to my son, please just let me do that.”

“Okay.”

“Look, I’ve done a lot of wrong to him. Abandoned him when he needed me the most because I had to find what was best for myself. Tell him that I was always thinking about him, my joy. And Seonghwa, who looked after him when I couldn’t, thank you for being my eyes and messenger when I wanted to run back home to see him but couldn’t. I love you, Jungkook, so, so much ” The call muffles with cries and screams in the background, “ Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?”

“Yes ma’am, I can hear you.”

“Thank you. Jungkook, I love you so, so much, and that’s not going to die even if I do today. I promise you, I’ll always be watching you, the way I always have been from the distance. I’m so sorry that I cannot come home, that I can’t apologize or say goodbye in person. I need you to be strong, the way you always have, and

The call loses signal.



 

 

The grey days continue, and as if the sky knew, sprinkles of gentle rain stain their umbrellas and the grey tombstone.

Taehyung’s eyes keep flickering over to Jungkook, and it must’ve been obvious, because he feels a nudge.

“Taehyung,” Namjoon murmurs warningly, “You know he doesn’t like it when he makes others worry about him.”

“I know. I know , but…” He sighs as he averts his eyes to the ground. “He could shed some tears, you know? Grieve outwardly. There is no press here, and no one’s going to judge him for it. I just… I just wonder if he’s not comfortable enough to grieve in front of us.”

“Nonsense.” Namjoon’s eyes remain forward, straight towards the pastor who finishes with a prayer. “There’s no reason for him to distrust us, or be uncomfortable. He knows we aren’t like that. Everyone has their own way of grieving, and maybe this is his.”

Taehyung’s eyes flicker to the ex-heir once again as soon as the prayer finishes. Jungkook doesn’t seem too different from the other days, despite attending his mother’s funeral— His eyes light up at the sight of Miss Kim Seonghwa, addressing her with a preppy eomunni! before she clasps his hands and they exchange a few words. He doesn’t sense any form of a farce from him, and wonders briefly if he’s reading too much into him.

How do you react to the death of an absent mother? Does it feel any different?

It must be, Taehyung shakes his head. One implies that she still has a reachable presence elsewhere. The death of a mother doesn’t.

“You’re overthinking it,” Namjoon says with a pat to his head.

“That’s what I usually say to you.”

“I know you’re worried— we all are. Jungkook’s lost a lot within the last couple of months, probably a change in his life that could always haunt him.” His hand reaches to clasp Taehyung’s. “But he got his closure and his goodbye.”

“The call?”

“The call,” he affirms. “I think he got to hear everything he needed and wanted  for so long, from it alone. He told me last night that he doesn’t despise her, that perhaps he never could— how could he despise her, knowing she wanted to run away from something she was trapped in? Or so he said.”

With one, swift movement, Namjoon’s hands move to his back to push him forward. “You said you had a gift for him, right? Go on. We’re going to all go for drinks after this, and I doubt you can give it then. Everything’s about timing, and lately, I don’t think it’s been on Jungkook’s side. Take hold of this timing and give it to him.”

Taehyung nods, shooting a grateful smile at him before waving towards Jungkook, who catches sight of his ridiculous hand movements to the side and nods with a smile towards him. The younger briefly turns back around to excuse himself, fixing the hem of his black tuxedo before following.

Taehyung hadn’t meant to lead him so far away from the ceremonial service, but before they had known it, they had reached the dying Jeon garden away from everyone else. Their distinct chatters and voices can be heard fading as Taehyung’s steps come to a stop in front of what was once his favorite place. The only place in the entire mansion that had felt like his, even if it was easily accessible to others. His silent conversations with the flowers, the splash of colors that invited him in from the weariness of the grey mansion, the moments of truths that had spilled its way out here— this was his place, even if the mansion were to fade. Even if the flowers were to die.

“Hyung?” He hears behind him. “Are you okay?”

That’s what I want to ask you, he almost says with a sigh, but shakes his head before smiling and turning on the spot, holding out a nicely wrapped purple box. “I had something to give you.”

Jungkook raises his eyebrows, slowly reaching out to take the box in his hands. “What is this? You didn’t have to.”

“It’s not a gift from me , per say. It’s from your mother.” Jungkook’s eyes widen and drop to the box, where he gingerly caresses the delicately tied ribbon. “Before she’d launched her perfume line, when we were engaged, she’d sent me a bottle of the perfume as a gift. I’d never opened it, much less used it. It felt like it was something I shouldn’t open, and now I’m glad I can give it to you.”

Without a word, the younger opens the box, carefully, as if it were fragile, before holding up the crescent moon shaped bottle filled with a light lilac colored liquid. “I didn’t even know there were any of these left. Last I’d heard, I heard her factory closed down after her death, and all the perfumes were destroyed.”

“I forgot about it for a while,” Taehyung admits, “but when I was cleaning out my room, I found it in the corner of my drawer. I just knew I had to give it to you, but I couldn’t find the timing for it. You were away, and I was unsure of your feelings towards her. I didn’t want to give it to you if it was going to hurt you still.”

A bright, fond smile tugs at Jungkook’s lips, finally tearing his eyes off the bottle upon inspection and carefully removing the cap, hiking his sleeve up just a bit before spraying lightly on his wrist, where his Virgo imprint was fading. He brings the wrist up to his nose, taking a deep inhale in, and a sigh of satisfaction as he exhales.

“Thank you, hyung. I’m glad you gave this to me. I couldn’t have asked for a better keepsake.”

Finally, Taehyung lets out a sigh of relief, an easy smile making its way onto his lips. “Of course. I think it was always yours to begin with.”

Jungkook carefully puts the bottle back into its place, closing the box before opening his arms out for Taehyung, who accepts the embrace with no hesitation.

And finally, they weep.



“There you are,” Yoongi says with a sigh, tugging Hoseok along behind him as his eyes land on Jungkook. “Seokjin hyung’s been looking for you, worried you might have run off.”

He dismisses the redness under Taehyung and Jungkook’s eyes if he notices it, and Jungkook raises an eyebrow. “Seokjin hyung? Were you two ever close enough for you to call him hyung?”

“Don’t question it,” Hoseok grimaces, “They’ve been going at it challenging each other for ‘custody’ over me, and last time Yoongi lost, so now he has to call Seokjin hyung with honorifics.”

“What a stupid wish,” Yoongi grumbles, “He could’ve just told me to call him that instead of making a whole fucking challenge for it.”

Jungkook only chuckles at that. “You two seem close. Where is he?”

“He’s waiting in the car, everyone else has already left for the pub we reserved. Hoseok sent Seokjin the address, and Namjoon told us to bring Taehyung.”

“My boyfriend didn’t even wait for me,” Taehyung pouts before being dragged away. Jungkook chuckles to himself once again, amused by the image of both of Yoongi’s hands being occupied with dragging them away, the two complaining nonstop.

When he finds their car, Seokjin’s already waiting in the passenger seat, head leaned against the window and eyes closed. Jungkook lets himself a moment to fondly smile before opening the door to the driver’s seat, Seokjin’s eyes opening abruptly as he closes the door, his eyes studying him carefully.

“You okay?” is all he asks. Jungkook nods, and only then, Seokjin sighs and finally acknowledges the box in his hands. “What’s that?”

“A present my mother gave to Taehyung. He gave it to me just a while ago.” He starts the engine, passing the box to Seokjin as he immediately accepts and places on his lap.

“A present?”

“The only perfume left of her line. I’m lucky to have gotten it.”

Seokjin only nods, his eyes studying the box. “It’s a good keepsake, I’d think.”

“That’s what I said too.”

“Too bad perfume scents only last a year, it’d be nice if it were more permanent.”

“Hyung, you know about perfumes?”

“Just a bit of the basics. You should know this too, you know.” His voice is scolding, but with no real bite to it. “The scents change to be more musky after a year, I believe.”

“Oh, that is a waste.” Jungkook sighs. “It’s very fitting, though. It’s much like her.”

Seokjin only nods, as if he understands, although there could be multiple meanings. “It is.”

“I haven’t seen Jimin hyung throughout the whole service, is he meeting us at the pub?”

Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “He didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“He went back to Busan after the New Year’s party. Something about preparing some stuff and a dance studio, I think he’s planning to open his own up soon.”

“Oh, so that’s what he did with the salary he got from the RRT .” Jungkook’s hand swiftly steers the wheel, and he can feel Seokjin’s eyes on him. He almost smirks, remembering how once Seokjin had told him he was immensely attracted to people who drove well. “I wish he had told me.”

“I think he wanted to show you after he had everything ready. I might not have known him for too long, but I get the feeling that he likes curating things about himself like an art museum.” Seokjin taps his chin. “If that makes sense.”

“Strangely enough, it does.”

“Taehyung’s planning to audition for something, he’s been keeping it under wraps with Namjoon. Probably has something to do with his movies and dramas he loves so much.” Seokjin leans the seat back a little with a sigh. “Yoongi apparently quit his firm to be Hoseok’s model for his new spring collection coming out. It’s kind of funny, the pictures Hoseok sends me, but Yoongi apparently has an affinity for the cameras.”

“Really? I never would have imagined.”

“Yeah.”

“And what about you, hyung?”

“Hm?”

“Do you have an idea of what you want to do?”

“Not at all.” But Seokjin smiles. “Maybe I can do something with this devilishly handsome face of mine.”

“I’d prefer not sharing that with the world, thank you very much. I’m a bit of a jealous person, I’d feel the urge to fight everyone who laid eyes on you.”

“Toxic behavior, Jeon. You can’t blame them for finding me easy on the eyes.” The two chuckle. “I’m kidding. I got an offer at a biomedical research firm.”

“That’s great, hyung!”

“I declined.”

“Why?”

Seokjin shrugs. “I guess I don’t want a job that takes too much time away from me anymore. Thirty years of life—” He glares at Jungkook when he corrects him with thirty one . “— and I don’t think I’ve accomplished much. I worked hard, but that’s about it. You know what I mean?”

Jungkook nods. “So no plan yet?”

“No plan.”

“And that doesn’t scare you?”

A pause. “Not anymore.”

Jungkook smiles. “Good.” He’s come a long way.

“... Jungkook-ah.”

“Hm?”

The older looks troubled, as if finding the right words for his thoughts were hard. “I just… I guess there’s no easy way to ask. Aren’t you going to go see your father? You haven’t gone to see him despite… despite demanding an audience with him as soon as you arrived back to the mansion.”

“For what?”

At that, Seokjin seems to find himself a bit speechless, but he manages to proceed, “For… anything . I don’t know, closure. An explanation.”

But Jungkook was already shaking his head as he steers the wheel swiftly once more, gaze not leaving the road ahead of him.

“Getting closure is a luxury that I don’t expect from him. I don’t want to gain closure on the possibility that more harm can come from knowing. I know what kind of person he is, and I guess… I guess I think some things are better left unsaid.”

Seokjin’s quiet, and Jungkook takes it that he understands; Seokjin always did. No matter how complicated his thoughts, emotions, or words made themselves out to be, Seokjin always understood. They were more similar than they thought to be, after all.

He almost laughs at the thought of their astrological compatibility. How foolish, he thinks now, that he had once agonized over their incompatibility. How foolish, especially since he thinks now that they couldn’t possibly be more compatible.

The car sits in comfortable silence, Seokjin nodding in and out of sleep before they arrive at the pub, the lights and chatter from inside reaching out as Jungkook shivers, pulling on his jacket and holding out Seokjin’s. Bleary-eyed, Seokjin slides his arms into the outstretched jacket just as they’ve always done before and Jungkook can’t help smile at the thought. It might be selfish of him, but he hopes that he can help him put on his jacket for as long as time permi—

“Forever,” Jungkook hears a whisper, and he blinks.

“Forever?”

“Forever,” Seokjin nods and reaffirms. “There was a time I told Hoseok forever was an impossible concept, because he always talked to me about wanting to play together forever when we were kids, but this…” He turns around, his arms naturally coming to hug Jungkook’s waist and pull him in closer, “I hope you help me put on my jacket forever.”



 

 

The night ended with every one of the Jeon members barely able to stand.

Taehyung and Namjoon had left first. Taehyung already didn’t have an affinity to alcohol, but it appeared Namjoon was only barely better. By the time Jungkook and Seokjin had made their way inside, the ex-secretary had already been spewing gibberish barely understandable (Seokjin thinks he heard something in between Give Tae his oscar! and Mitochondria is not the actual powerhouse of the cell ), and it was only around thirty minutes after they had finally sat down that Taehyung got tired of Namjoon’s ramble of Aristotelian virtue ethics before finally excusing themselves and dragging his boyfriend out with complaints spilling from his fond smile.

Hoseok didn’t have an affinity to alcohol either, Seokjin knew, so while Seokjin coddled over the amount he was drinking, Jungkook and Yoongi must’ve started a challenge. Seokjin was certain it would end quickly, aware of his boyfriend’s ridiculously high tolerance ( His boyfriend , he can say now. He could say it out anywhere, and it wouldn’t make it any less true. How weird.), but it turned out Yoongi could put up quite a fight himself as well. Sooner or later, the scene quickly shifted from Seokjin coddling Hoseok and Jungkook/Yoongi’s competition to Hoseok and Seokjin arguing whose boyfriend could drink better and their respective partners clinging to them, wanting to go home. 

It’s only after around midnight that they part ways, Seokjin having to get used to driving with one hand while Jungkook showers him with compliments ( “Seokjinnieeeeee,” his words drag out, and Seokjin takes his hand, “Did you know? Did you know that you’re the absolute prettiest I’ve ever seen in my life? Prettier than any flower? Sweeter than any scent? Oh! Your ears are red again!” ) that they finally get home— well, Seokjin’s home. Their boxes were still unpacked and littered in the new apartment they were going to move into within the next week, but Seokjin’s concept of home has changed over the last few months. Wherever he was with the people he loved, especially Jungkook, he thinks might be home, no matter how empty it was.

Barely managing to get Jungkook inside and pushing him onto the bed, Seokjin lets out a heave as he stretches his back, muttering something about not being young enough to do this anymore, before he finally flops down on the bed next to Jungkook. His eyes are barely open, a hazy smile lingering on his lips as Seokjin barely resists a fond smile.

“Seokjiinnniiieeeee.”

“You really like calling me that, huh?”

“Seokjiiiiiiinnnniiiiieeee.”

“Hm, Jungkookie?”

“You’re pretty.”

“I know, you told me.”

“No, like, you’re really pretty.” Jungkook’s hands suddenly reach to clasp Seokjin’s face in between, his cheeks rounding up in his palms. “I don’t think you know that like you should.”

“I think you tell me enough, Jungkook-ah.”

“Not Jungkook-ah. Jungkookie.”

“Jungkookie.”

“Hm?”

“Do you want some water?”

“I want some kisses,” he demands, and who was Seokjin to object? He merely chuckles as Jungkook pulls his face in closer to give him a sloppy kiss, missing his lips by a few centimeters to the left as he bursts into laughter.

“Jungkookie, your breath smells like beer.”

“Get intoxicated in me, then.”

Seokjin reddens. “You’re no longer allowed to talk to anyone else when you’re drunk.”

“Huuuh? Whyyy?”

“You’re gonna find yourself another pretty one to woo.”

Jungkook adamantly shakes his head, a bit too rigorously that he has to take a moment to clear the dizziness. “Won’t be prettier than you.”

“Sure, Jungkookie. We’ll see if you keep thinking that.”

“Won’t change.” He surges forward to pepper his face in kisses, in which Seokjin yelps with laughter. “Always going to be you. Make sure you always choose me, too.”

“You know I would.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t work elsewhere.” Jungkook raises an eyebrow, as if seriously contemplating the idea. “You’re a dangerous face to let out into the world. Enough to start wars.”

“Nonsense, baby.”

“Ooh, again.”

“Baby?”

He lets out a satisfied hum, placing one final kiss on his cheek. “I like it when you call me that. Makes me feel like I’m really yours.”

“Nonsense, you really are mine.”

“Really?”

Seokjin deadpans. “I ran away from the government for you. I lost a hand for you. You better be mine.”

Jungkook reaches for his hand— well, the missing one, so maybe not his hand. His wrist. He reaches for his wrist— even drunken, he caresses and touches him like he’s delicate, like he mustn’t dare touch him recklessly. He peppers lighter kisses on his wrist, like he always does, no matter how many times Seokjin tells him it doesn’t hurt anymore. 

“I’m yours,” he mutters softly, before peering up at him with a bright smile, “For as long as you’ll have me.”

“Forever,” Seokjin corrects pointedly, “I told you earlier. Forever .”

“Yes, forever.”

“Let’s get you to bed, Jungkookie.”

It’s when Jungkook finally sits up so Seokjin can undress him to sleep comfortably that it comes out of nowhere. “I think I know what I’m going to do?”

“Hm?”

“Future, and all that. I’ve been thinking about it ever since you told me what everyone else was doing. It made me feel left out.”

“I’m not doing anything,” Seokjin offers, but Jungkook shakes his head. 

“I’m not criticizing you for choosing not to do anything, but I think I know what I want to do.”

Seokjin finishes unbuttoning the last stubborn button he’s been stuck on (all tasks were around five times more difficult with one hand), sliding his shirt off in one swift movement before deciding to toss it to the side for later. He could deal with laundry in the morning. “What is it?”

“I want to reopen my mother’s factory.”

Seokjin contemplates it, nodding slowly as it processes. “The perfumes?”

“Yeah, the perfumes. I’ll name them all after her favorite flowers.”

“I think that’s very sweet, Jungkook.”

“I probably have to do a lot of studying beforehand, and it might take me a while to be able to get everything back together again. But I think I want to do it.” Jungkook gives a lazy thumbs up and offers a wink. “You may not believe it, but I was one of the top marks in school. I think I can do it.”

“I believe you, baby. I think it’s awesome that you want to do that.”

“You don’t think it’s unrealistic?”

“What’s unrealistic about it?”

“I just thought you might’ve had something to say about it, maybe some realistic advice. Like, maybe how the hell is the ex-heir who only knew about the stars going to start a perfume line? , or something like that.”

Seokjin shrugs. “True, maybe if I were the same person even just a year ago, I would’ve tried to butt in like that. But I think the fact that you have something you want to even try puts you above me. I’ll have to think of something to do soon,” he smirks, “so that I don’t embarrass being by your side when you become a top brand perfumist.”

“Better catch up soon,” Jungkook says playfully as he sprawls out on the bed again and kicks off his pants.

Seokjin’s response quickly dies on his lips before it even has a chance to come out, as he peers to the side and lays his eyes upon Jungkook’s closed eyes. His sleepy breaths, the way he looked immediately younger and peaceful when he drifted to sleep. The way his chest rises and deflates as it quickly and steadily slips into a peaceful rhythm, and Seokjin doesn’t have it in himself to resist a fond smile this time.

Why was it him? Hoseok had asked the night they’d finally come back from their days of running, the night Jungkook was dragged away by Namjoon and Yoongi and had left Hoseok and Taehyung alone with him.

What do you mean?

What made him so special?

I fell in love, Seok-ah. You should know, too. You did stupid things for love before.

You’ve fallen in love before. They never made you throw away your ideals, your life, your future. Why was it him?

Seokjin knows underneath these questions is a persisting, silent question that Hoseok had never gotten around to asking when he had learned of the two: What made it him, and never me?

He couldn’t answer him then, Seokjin realizes as his hand makes its way up to Jungkook’s face and carefully brushes the hair out of his face. Even if he were asked the question now, he’s not sure if there were enough words, definitions, concepts, or feelings enough in the world to express it correctly.

I don’t know how to express it to you, Seokjin thinks as he finally lays down and his arms wrap around him, the way it always snugly fits. The way it felt like Jungkook’s mold was made just to fit him, as if it was always meant to be like this. When they held each other’s hands, kissed, embraced. When their fingers danced along the other’s skin like small whispers of love that words could never express. I don’t know how to express to you why, how, and the quantity of how much I love you.

It’s about everything, but also nothing at all.

My heart just tells me it’s you I love.

No matter what version of yourself you become in the future, I won’t keel over.

“Seokjin hyung,” he hears a slurred murmur, and Seokjin curiously looks up.

“Go to sleep, Jungkook-ah.”

“Thank you.”

“Hm?”

His next murmur is unintelligible, and then there’s a pause. Finally, the younger yawns, and he wraps his arms around Seokjin to bring him in closer.

“Choosing me.”

“Jungkook-ah?”

There’s no response, just the sound of his comfortable breaths, and Seokjin can’t help but allow himself a soft, embarrassed laugh as he finally closes his eyes.

There was something better than the darned stars right in his arms; he’d be a fool to not choose him, over, and over again.

 

It was a cold, beautiful winter day when Seokjin’s life had finally become right.