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Swords and Sails

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Jungkook wakes up the next morning feeling more alive than ever. As soon as his eyes open he’s tingling with life, desperate to get up. So he jumps out of his hammock and shoves his boots on. He’s one of the first to claim their breakfast from Seokjin, then he’s wolfing it down and rushing up to the deck, breathing in the ocean air like he’s never truly tasted it. It’s a new world which opens up for him, one which promises adventure and home.

 

Jimin is still rubbing his eyes when he spots him looking into the sails and wanders over, Jungkook trying to be patient despite the ache in his bones to be aloft once more.

 

Then Jimin is giving him the go ahead, something he’s still required to have as a new recruit, and he’s climbing.

 

Hand over hand he goes up, eyes trained on the sky which gets closer and closer until it feels like he’s standing in the middle of it. The weather isn’t sunny today, a thin blanket of clouds covers the skies, but it makes the view all the more breathtaking.

 

When he reaches the crow’s nest, the night shift lookout tiredly hands him the spyglass and scrambles back to the deck, mumbling a morning greeting to Jimin who’s only halfway up. 

 

Jungkook isn’t paying attention. He looks out past the ship and gasps.

 

Sunlight streams in through the gaps in the clouds, pouring down onto the water like bridges arching through the emptiness, connecting the world to the heavens. For a second Jungkook thinks he’s going to cry. His heart is beating deeply, a normal pace but it pulses in his fingertips, he senses the ship's movements through his feet and it feels like they’re breathing as one.

 

Then Jimin is tumbling in next to him, yawning. Jungkook hands over the spyglass without looking so he doesn't have to stop admiring the neverending ocean. Overhead there’s a flock of seafaring birds and he waves at them with a giant grin on his face. He can feel Jimin watching him with raised eyebrows but he doesn’t care. 

 

He enjoys every minute spent up there, knowing he’s escaping the duties which are sure to catch up with him. Sure enough, a call rises from the ground, and Jimin sends him back down despite his whining.

 

“You’re not allowed to miss the Captain’s briefing, Kook!” he laughs at him.

 

And maybe that’s the only thing which could have gotten him to descend the main mast: Taehyung is up. He’s getting ready to address them from the stern’s deck. Flashes of starlight smiles and chests pressed against each other burn through his mind as he scrambles down the woven ladder. From above him comes a worried call to be careful, to slow down, but he can’t control the sudden rampant desire to set his eyes on the pirate with golden hoops for earrings.

 

He’s still several feet from the ground when he jumps. His feet land on the deck with a resounding thump, knees bending to absorb the shock and hands touching down on wood. Then he’s standing up excitedly and he notices his mistake.

 

Every pirate on deck is staring at him, some shaking their heads with small smiles, others glaring at him, and above them, leaning against the higher deck railing, is Taehyung.

 

His eyes dance with something unknown, long tanned fingers threaded together, his rings glinting in the sunlight which decides to fall upon the ship right at that moment. Jungkook feels faint. Taehyung is smirking. The crew are watching.

 

Then their captain finally turns away and starts his morning briefing and he can finally breathe. Their captain talks them through the day’s plans, where they’re headed, which team has got what job, yet Jungkook isn’t listening. He should be listening. But he can’t help it. He’s somehow only just noticed how a particular strand of Taehyung’s hair curls into the nape of his neck, brushing the golden skin there every time he moves, and he’s unable to look away, unable to focus on anything else. Taehyung is talking and yet his words never reach him, they're just a beautiful mumble of soulful sounds.

 

Suddenly the sounds around him are rising once more as the pirates move off in groups, chatting animatedly to each other, and it snaps Jungkook out of whatever trance he’s been stuck in. Panic rises as he realises he's heard nothing. He doesn't know what they're doing, he doesn't know where he's supposed to go, all he knows is that Taehyung is too beautiful to fathom. Trying to rein in the blush he can feel creeping over his ears, he peers around, planning to sneak off to find Namjoon, hoping the man won’t have noticed his distraction. Maybe he'll tell him what he's supposed to be doing, maybe he won't ask him why he wasn't listening to a word of the morning briefing...

 

The pirates are still ambling on deck so he weaves a path away from the aft deck, aiming for the front of the ship. He’s hoping he’s escaped, ducking between groups of confused men, when his name rings out.

 

“Kook! Over here!”

 

Everything in him freezes, but then he realises it isn’t the deep, mesmerising voice he’s clearly unarmed against. Instead it’s a recognisable one. He looks over his shoulder and turns to follow it. Seokjin is standing near the front deck, waving madly at him, and the curiosity is too great for Jungkook to be careful. He regrets that immediately.

 

The crowd thins further and he’s only a few feet away when he realises Taehyung is stood right there. Right next to a grinning Seokjin. Even worse, peeking from behind them is the smuggest-looking Namjoon you could find. He definitely noticed how Jungkook had zoned out during briefing.

 

He’s sure his ears are bright red right now. He’s grappling with his own mind, desperate to find something to say, an excuse to save himself from the impending barrage of teasing questions he's sure to receive. And then Seokjin saves him.

 

“You and I are training today, Kook!” he says with the brightest smile.

 

He wants to ask what they're training for but he’s not sure whether Taehyung covered that during his morning briefing and there’s no way he’s admitting he actually spent the whole time staring at his neck. Thankfully, he’s saved once more.

 

“Aren’t you going to ask what you’re training for?”

 

Seokjin sounds so sad suddenly, and it draws his eyes to the ship’s chef.

 

“Um… cooking?” he ventures.

 

It isn’t a big stretch. But then Seokjin is huffing and mumbling to himself while Taehyung pats the man's shoulder playfully.

 

“I’m not just a chef, you know!” Seokjin suddenly explodes, but although he’s miffed, Jungkook isn’t scared.

 

He can only smile apologetically, his hands lifting to show he means no harm. And that’s why he’s taken by surprise when suddenly metal is hurtling his way. Panic rushes through him as he suddenly notices a blade is coming towards his face and his hands grab for the handle. He catches the sword remarkably easily, and that’s when he realises it was thrown ever so carefully.

 

Taehyung is smirking at him, handing a second weapon to Seokjin who immediately swings it around in complex shapes, and Jungkook looks down at his own. It’s got a simply carved metal handle, its blade shines. It's very clearly polished and its edges are rounded. Too curious, he presses it against his palm.

 

Nothing. The blade has been smoothed down until it’s unable to cut so much as a boiled potato. It's a training blade.

 

“You’re teaching me… sword fighting?!”

 

Seokjin sighs loudly and starts ranting about how he never looks like he’s a good swordsman even though he’s practically taught the whole crew, but Jungkook is distracted. His hands run over the metal, excitement filling him to the brim until he’s suddenly swinging the blunt sword around to test its weight.

 

Amused chuckles are echoing around him but he’s not paying attention. Suddenly Seokjin is in his space and his own sword his swinging downwards. Jungkook rushes the raise his arm, but he’s too late. The shock is too great and his own weapon is pushed aside. Seokjin’s blunt blade lands on his shoulder, and the cook grins.

 

“You lose!” He barks out cheekily, but Jungkook’s not having it.

 

“Again!” he says, and so the sword lifts and comes back.

 

He doesn’t know when Namjoon and Taehyung leave. He’s too absorbed in the lesson.

 

They spend most of the day fighting. By the time the sun is up in the sky, Jungkook is sweating more than he has in a long time, but he's loving it. The burn in his muscles feels useful and natural, feels needed. Although he's exhausted he also feels revived, alive. In the afternoon the skies turn grey with a solid, uninterrupted blanket of clouds. The breeze picks up slightly, so as the temperature drops, he regains some energy that the pockets of sun had leached from him.

 

Seokjin is mumbling about how he's got infuriating levels of stamina, and it makes him laugh. He's learning, building a home with a purpose at the centre of it, and he loves it.

 

Dinner with the crew seems rowdier than usual, and this time he joins in. When they break out the bottles of rum, he takes a sip and chokes on a cough at the strong taste, refusing any more after that, and it makes the pirates around him laugh. Soon he joins in with the loud singing, and by the time the crew go to bed all together, the wind is too strong for him to go up on deck and meditate above the water, so he climbs into his hammock amidst pirates settling into sleep. It's with a smile on his face that he lets his dreams take him, not too far away, but to a bowsprit balancing over the seas.

 

 

༻ ◤◢◣◥◤◢◣◥ ⋅☾ ☠ ☽⋅ ◤◢◣◥◤◢◣◥ ༺

 

 

He's awoken by the sound of sloshing water and shouts. There's a hand shaking him awake and calls for buckets as the armada of pirates in the room pull on their trousers and boots haphazardly, orders trying to rein them in. Their quartermaster Min Yoongi is banging on a pot from the bottom of the stairs, and the sound rings every alarm in Jungkook's body. He leaps out of the hammock, only to have his feet sink into water, and it laps over his ankles. It's freezing cold.

 

There's panic in the air, but more than that, there's Yoongi's voice breaking through the fear, calm and loud and straightforward.

 

"LOOKOUTS TO THE RIGGING! CABIN BOYS TO THE DECK! CANNON CREW GET YOUR BUCKETS!"

 

For a minute it's pure chaos as the entire crew searches for their shoes and clothing, then they're all running up or down stairs. The portholes are pushed open and a humongous chain of men start collecting the water cascading down the stairs with pails and tubs, then they're chucking it back into the ocean through the open windows.

 

Jungkook's pushed up the stairs without warning by an unknown hand, through the waterfall in the stairwell and up onto the soaking deck.

 

It's hell on Earth.

 

The soft grey clouds from the night before have turned into a ruthless storm, one of the ones which would cause him to barricade the farm back at home, hiding the animals away from the torrential rains and praying their crops would survive. The sails are billowing dangerously, making the ship skim faster than ever into wall-like waves. The ocean swells crash into the ship and rise above the pirates, falling back down in cascading waterfalls.

 

At the wheel of the ship is Taehyung, his hair pulled back into a bun so he can see through the storm, a light swinging wildly and uselessly by his side. He looks fierce. He looks like fire battling an ocean. There's a glint of challenge in the way he's looking around, something about him which suggests he isn't worried, and it settles Jungkook's nerves. Taehyung's shouting down at Yoongi who's relaying his orders with more hand gestures than words, and the crew obey immediately.

 

There's a set of men who are used to climbing the rigging who are suddenly up in the skies, gales of wind battering violently at them. They swing dangerously, their hands slipping on wet ropes. Right at the top Jungkook glimpses Jimin who's wrestling a cable which has broken free and is whipping around dangerously. Then Jungkook is pushed forward, and now he's moving fast. Weeks of labour have fashioned his instincts; the ship needs him.

 

His hands grasp at the aft sail tethers and he pulls, using his whole body, another pirate pulling behind him in perfect sync, and almost instinctively they're all in improvised pairs, hoisting the sails up as quickly as possible. At the top he can make out tiny figures trying to secure them. He can barely see through the waves crashing onto deck, through the rain pouring down upon them. The ship heaves itself over another wave and when it reaches the crest and comes back down, Jungkook feels his body react.

 

His stomach flips and his feet dig into the slippery ground just as everyone round him starts to slip and slide, their progress with stowing the sails halting. But they need them down. Now. An hour ago. The higher the sails, the more raging wind they take in, the faster they collide with mountain-like waves and he can't let his home go down like this.

 

The ship crests again, then swoops down through the angry seas, and a sound resonates from right next to him. It's horrifying, followed by a grunt of pain. Jungkook forces himself to finish tying off the sail they've managed to heave upwards and then he's looking down at the man groaning at his feet. It's one of the lookouts, shouting in pain. He doesn't look hurt but he's winded, barely conscious. In a second there's muffled shouting, then Yoongi is fighting his way towards them through the rain, relaying new orders and two men are pulling the injured one below deck. A hand grabs onto Jungkook's arm.

 

"UP YOU GO!" Yoongi shouts at him, pointing up towards the crow's nest hanging from the main mast.

 

"ME?!" Jungkook screams back through the storm, hair sticking to his face and getting into his eyes.

 

"TAE SAID YOU CAN DO IT! CAN YOU?!"

 

It takes him a second, just a glimpse at the captain above him who's somehow keeping his eyes on the battering seas and also nodding at him, and then Jungkook is running.

 

He's slipping and sliding along the deck as the ship tilts one way and the other, then he's reached the rigging rising to the centre of the ship. And he's climbing.

 

Hand over hand was easy before, now the tempest is against him. His sore muscles scream in discomfort, except the water cools them down, the wind batters at him but he is the ship. He is not a toy to steal from it. He will not fall. He is part of the ship, and he trusts it. Taehyung trusts him.

 

The rigging is slippery and shaking like a wild animal trying to throw him off, yet his teeth are gritted. He's pulling on his arms and pushing upwards and he struggles through the torrential rain until he's on the secondary main sail and he's shouting out to the pirates waiting for help. He's never tried to reel in the fabric before, but Jimin, poor exhausted Jimin, is there, and he's showing him how.

 

Latching onto wooden beams, they gather the material the pirates on deck are heaving up, him and Jimin on one end, two other men on the other, the four of them grasping at ropes flying wildly through the air and wrapping them round the sails which fight to break lose.

 

Nothing has ever been this difficult, Jungkook can see the wildness of the seas from here. They fight angrily against the ship, showing him how small they are, proving how puny the human crew are, and it's terrifying. Yet an image sticks in his mind, egging him on. An image of a man with his hair tied up, golden hoops still glinting in the stormy darkness, his eyes dancing with trust and challenge.

 

They can do this. Jungkook can do this.

 

The sail is stowed and the four of them rush to climb higher, to the top sail. Already the men on deck are hoisting it up, and up here the wind is crazier than ever. It bites at his skin, tears at his clothes, yet Jungkook keeps going. Up here it's even harder to wrestle the ship into submission. He can glimps see the lookout, clinging onto the crows nest for dear life, and Taehyung not too far below them on the highest deck.

 

And then the sound they all fear breaks through the madness.

 

It's a testimony to human survival instincts that they all hear the voice, but they do. Jungkook can tell by the way every pirate ties themself to the ship with the nearest rope, the way Jimin's eyes look at him in horror.

 

"BROACHING! BROACHING!"

 

It's Taehyung's voice. It breaks through the storm, like he controls the seas, like the winds have no power over him. Jungkook can barely see through the rain, but he has to peer down.

 

He knows what broaching is. He knows the ship is trying to keel onto her side, and once she does, it's over for them.

 

But Taehyung isn't scared.

 

Taehyung is looking up at him.

 

Jungkook's stomach heaves as he feels the Winter Bear turn and tilt, feels his heart leap upwards.

 

Taehyung is looking up at him.

 

His arms are fighting the steering wheel, arms bulging under the effort, body angling to fight the tilt of the deck, strands of hair falling out of his hairtie.

 

And then one hand lets go of the rudder, his entire weight thrown against it so he can steer them straight and still do the unthinkable.

 

He brings his arm out in a swinging ark, his eyes looking right into Jungkook's.

 

And he screams.

 

Taehyung is looking up at him.

 

"FLY!"

 

The sound barely reaches him, but when it does it echoes in his head.

 

Fly.

 

Fly...

 

Taehyung is looking up at him.

 

FLY!!

 

Jungkook doesn't think. He looks down at the rope his fingers are gripped around. He sees the way he hasn't yet stowed the sail properly. He sees that the right-hand storm sail has torn from its mast. They're unbalanced.

 

The Winter Bear is keeling left.

 

He's on the right.

 

FLY!!

 

Jungkook leaps off into the void.

 

His hands are wrapped in the rope and his feet are swinging through the hurricane. Air and water lashing at his face.

 

He's falling.

 

There's a monumentous tug and a burn rips at his hands, arms screaming.

 

Then he's swinging. Through the air and through the storm.

 

He's swinging down, fighting the elements, fighting to keep his grip and beneath him there's only water. But above him there is a sail.

 

His weight brings down the right hand side of it and suddenly the wind catches the canvas.

 

White fabric bulges outwards, and the ship tilts under the strain. He's sure he can hear the main mast cracking under the pressure, but he doesn't have time to think about it. Because suddenly he's no longer above water.

 

The sail billowing with wind brings him flying back with a scream, and time slows down.

 

Below him are pirates, looking up through the maelstrom. There's rain everywhere. And then there's Taehyung.

 

He's grinning.

 

Jungkook is screaming and the sail is whipping him back towards the deck and suddenly the rope he's clinging on to dear life to is catching on something.

 

It's pulled taut, and he's no longer swinging wildly. The rain screams and fights him, but he's halfway between a rippling sail and something tethering him to the ground.

 

He peers over his shoulder, and something stirs within him.

 

There are shadows all over the ship. Waves crash at their feet but they are rushing forward. Hands upon hands upon hands grab at the rope, and they pull.

 

The entire crew, together, heave at the wild sail. Inch by inch Jungkook goes down, until there are fingers grabbing at his boots and he's tugged to relative safety.

 

As soon as his feet are on deck he hears howling.

 

Loud, beckoning.

 

Taehyung is screaming at the skies, and the pirates answer him.

 

The pirate crew of the Winter Bear roar back at the storm.

 

Taehyung is mad; this is maddening. He made Jungkook fly.

 

And now they have to fly their ship through the storm. The crew secure the sail, bring down the surviving storm sail and they release the forward ones, stow away the canvas hanging from the main mast. It's hours and hours of work, Jungkook's hands are burning from the shock of the fall, exhaustion pulls at his muscles, but he's there. He's pulling and fighting against the elements.

 

And through it all Taehyung guides them, Yoongi organises them, the ship carries them.

 

They fight their way to safety.

 

When finally they break through into a patch of unexpected sunlight, Jungkook looks up in confusion. He'd lost track of when the seas had calmed, of when the rain had stopped.

 

All he knows is his legs are jelly, and he collapses onto the sopping deck, he's pretty sure a few others join him.

 

Somehow, laughter echoes around the deck. Orders to keep going try to force them to pull themselves together, but it doesn't work. Not until Taehyung starts singing.

 

It's a song they all know, one Jungkook has learnt over nights when the men drank rum and sang together under the stars. His baritone timber pushes Jungkook to his feet with an insane smile, and they get back to work.

 

The pirates sing their sea shanties and the Winter Bear survives the storm.

 

 

༻ ◤◢◣◥◤◢◣◥ ⋅☾ ☠ ☽⋅ ◤◢◣◥◤◢◣◥ ༺

 

 

That was insane.

 

The thought only settles into Jungkook's mind when the ship is following its new course smoothly, the storm now falling far behind them. He's stood on deck, heart struggling to calm down under the petering rush of adrenaline. His gaze is trained downwards, eyes running over the skin of his hands.

 

His palms are covered in rope burns, stinging painfully, and yet he knows he was lucky.

 

That was insane, he thinks. His mind feels breathless.

 

Out of the corner of his eye he vaguely registers someone counting crew members, and a general sigh of relief when they realise that, miraculously, they didn't lose anyone in the storm. He briefly wonders about the man who fell from the rigging, realises he can't have fallen from too high up if he survived.

 

That was insane.

 

He can't stop thinking, can't stop staring at his hands. Shock is taking a hold of him, the sudden realisation that the seas beneath him are deadly, ruthless. They stand on a piece of wood tied together with string and fabric. They are mortal. He is hurt.

 

That was insane.

 

"Hey."

 

The voice is soft and careful. It's deep and beautiful.

 

He looks up from his burning hands and stares into a proud, tired face. Taehyung's hair is pulled tightly into his bun once more, his golden hoops glinting in the welcome sunlight. From somewhere behind Jungkook comes the call for food, Seokjin gathering the pirates without letting them escape, forcing them down to the cantina so they can eat. The deck clears gradually, a small group of pirates remaining under Yoongi's orders, a new lookout climbing up the dripping rigging.

 

Taehyung is staring at him. Taehyung is running two fingers over Jungkook's cheek.

 

"That was insane," Jungkook says.

 

And Taehyung giggles.

 

The shock of the storm is cleared out by the sound. It replaces every emotion in his veins, brings him back to the land of the sane.

 

"It was, wasn't it?" the captain says cheerfully, like he didn't navigate them away from certain death.

 

Then he's looking down at Jungkook's hands, and his fingers leave his cheek, leaving an emptiness behind. But now his pads are running over Jungkook's palms carefully, and the feeling fills him to the brim.

 

The world had been nothing but a ship in the storm. Now his world narrows down to just the two of them, stood close on the soaking deck.

 

"Come on," Taehyung practically whispers. "Let's get you patched up."

 

The pirate king turns, his hand gently curling around his wrist, and Jungkook follows without resistance, without a word. They climb the stairs up to the sterncastle deck, and the shock may be seeping out of him, but it's replaced by something stronger.

 

He's mesmerised, enthralled. Taehyung's soaked white shirt sticks to his back, and he's divine. He's strong and beautiful and kind and the sound of him belting out sea shanties through a storm swims in Jungkook's head.

 

He's pulled forward, kindly, carefully. Then Taehyung leads him through a door, and Jungkook's jaw drops.

 

He's in the captain's quarters; he can't quite believe it. Is anyone even allowed in here?

 

There are wide and crooked windows letting newly found sunlight pour into the room. Beneath them sits a desk, huge, heavy looking. It's tethered to the wooden floor with thin ropes nailed into its side, instruments of all kinds slotted into grooves in its surface. The ground is covered with a thick rug, threads of purple meeting red, and for a second all he wants is to lie on it.

 

A chest sits on one side, bookshelves with large metal handles locking them shut cover one wall, strange shapes hang from the ceiling, beautiful and complex. There's a painting nailed to a wall. To his left there's a bed, not quite a double, but large enough. The biggest luxury on this ship. It's smothered with blankets and quilts, and that's where Taehyung guides him.

 

He pushes some of the fabrics away, then gestures at him to sit down, so Jungkook does exactly that. He feels incredibly out of place, yet his eyes are wide with curiosity, drinking in the room he's honoured to be allowed into.

 

Taehyung steps away, walking over to the chest sat across from them. Jungkook looks down at his wrist. It feels empty suddenly. It tingles.

 

"Do they hurt?"

 

He lifts his head up in surprise.

 

"Huh?"

 

Taehyung smiles, and Jungkook doesn't know why, doesn't understand. There is so much he cannot figure out about Kim Taehyung.

 

"The friction burns. Do they hurt?" he asks again, patiently, softly, as he bends down and Jungkook panics.

 

Kim Taehyung, Pirate King CANNOT be kneeling at his feet. He's about to say exactly that, mouth opening in protest and hands clenching, when Taehyung tuts at him.

 

"You'll hurt yourself more. Stop moving."

 

And just like that all the fight leaves Jungkook's body.

 

"It doesn't hurt..." he mumbles.

 

Taehyung peers up at him for a moment, and time seems to stretch for an eternity. His curly hair is drying, escaping his bun once more in curly, wild strands. His earrings dangle, glinting gold. His eyes are deeper than an ocean, his skin smoother than the morning seas.

 

"Don't move," he whispers.

 

It echoes through the room. It's louder than thunder

 

So Jungkook falls silent and watches, mesmerised. He watches as Taehyung settles a small box against the ground and flips its lock open. Then he's pouring some form of alcohol onto a cotton ball and pressing it into his palms. It steals a hiss from Jungkook's lips, but it doesn't hurt, not too much. He's too distracted for it to hurt.

 

He can't look away. Not when Taehyung is cradling one of his hands so carefully. Not when he's biting his bottom lip in concentration. Not when his hair is still pulled back and it lets him watch as every expression flits across his features.

 

The pirate king is so careful as he puts Jungkook's hand down and picks up the other one, repeating the same movements. Silence stretches through the cabin, only interrupted by the sounds of alcohol sloshing in its bottle and of their breathing.

 

The tingle in his palms hurt, but the sight is soothing. He can't believe someone as beautiful as Taehyung exists. He cannot fathom it, even though he's staring right at him. It doesn't make sense: the way Taehyung is brave and inspiring, maddening and teasing, careful and nurturing. One person cannot contain such multitudes...

 

And yet.

 

He's so lost in staring at the man at his feet that he doesn't notice when Taehyung is bandaging his hands. It's only when the pirate is tucking in the last bandage that he manages to tear his eyes away from Taehyung's face.

 

He glances down at his hands, sees how they're snuggly fitted, wrapped so carefully, and he flexes his fingers tentatively. It doesn't hurt anymore, but more than that, the shock of the storm has somehow seeped out of him.

 

"Thank you..." he whispers.

 

There's not enough strength in his voice right now to say anything without it coming out as a murmur.

 

Taehyung opens his mouth, looks like he's about to say something.

 

There's a knock on the doorframe and a head pokes in, freezing at the sight of his captain kneeling in front of their newly acquired cabin boy. Namjoon looks exhausted, yet he still has the energy to blink in confusion at Jungkook, raising an eyebrow at his captain who simply ignores it, asking what's up.

 

"I finished rectifying our course," Namjoon says, tearing his eyes away from Jungkook and back to the man with the golden earrings. "We went off by quite a bit, but we're not in dangerous waters. We're a little closer to the shipping lanes, but we can work with that."

 

Taehyung nods thoughtfully, humming, then he waves Namjoon away.

 

"You've worked hard, Joon," he says. "You deserve to go eat and nap. I'll call for you if I need anything."

 

Their sailing master looks beyond relieved, and he leaves almost immediately, only lingering long enough to stare at them curiously some more. But when he receives no explanation as to why Taehyung has someone in his cabin, he leaves.

 

And then Jungkook rushes to his feet.

 

He shouldn't be here. People will misunderstand. Taehyung is being too kind, too nice... it's messing with his head. The smell of wood and salt and vanilla permeates the air, stifling, addictive.

 

He needs to get out of there, or he'll do something he'll regret. He can feel it in the way his fingers twitch. They want to touch so bad.

 

"Kook?" comes the confused voice from behind him.

 

"Ah..." he panics, doesn't know what to say, fumbles with his words. "I... thank you for... the hands? The bandages! Thanks for... um that. Cap'?"

 

The name comes out like a question. He doesn't like the taste of it on his tongue, it feels weird. It feels common.

 

"Kook," Taehyung says, and Jungkook shivers.

 

He's right behind him, a hand gliding over his shoulder and pulling ever so slightly. Like a question. Will you turn around?

 

He does.

 

The other is stood too close. It robs him from his breath, his body still doesn't know how to react when he's this close to the maddening captain. Taehyung is smiling at him, softly.

 

Everything about him is soft in that moment. The sunshine pouring in through the windows and sending ripples of light to caress his cheeks is soft. The slowly drying shirt wraps around him softly. His lips smile and look so, so soft. His eyes are open and twinkling and kind.

 

"Just call me hyung, kay?" he says, low and melodious.

 

Soft.

 

Jungkook can only nod. Then the hand is dropping away from his shoulder and he's walking out on shaky legs, forcing himself to move. And just as he's crossing the room's threshold, he stops. Doesn't want to leave like this. So he turns to grin over his shoulder.

 

"Thanks, hyung."

 

Taehyung smiles back, his lips stretching into a wide grin which goes straight to his heart.

 

"Thanks for what, Kook?"

 

Thanks for what indeed. Jungkook just shrugs, smiling still, then he escapes.

 

His feet make a thudding sound on the wooden deck. The sunshine is drying the floor, cleansing the water from their home, and he gazes into the once more bright skies.

 

This is insane. And it's home.