Pixies are among the most competitive beings in the universe, Jungkook learns when he decided that taking Jimin out to a mini golf course for their first date as an official couple was a good idea. They could have gone ice skating, or to an arcade, or even a museum.
“It wouldn’t be fair if we played a game on opposing sides,” Jimin had said. And to be fair, Jungkook is just as competitive but we would never tell Jimin that or like a pixie he would use it against him.
“Ha, yeah right. You don’t even know how to play the game.”
“I don’t need to have prior experience, you’re still outmatched.”
And that’s what fired Jungkook up. Jungkook is not worried about Jimin winning—it takes more than a set of wings and the ability to mimic others’ moves perfectly to win at minigolf. It takes experience that Jungkook has.
Jimin is buzzing when they pull into the parking lot. Underneath a windmill obstacle—much larger than should be allowed at a mini golf course—lies Jungkook’s undoubted victory. There are crowds of people walking around, leaving the arcade, entering the course, eating hot dogs from the stand at the corner of the laser tag arena and bowling alley. The funhouse is as large as a small city and surprisingly crowded for a winter afternoon. There are more humans here than Jimin has been exposed to at once—not counting the unnamable. Still, he doesn’t seem nervous. The only dust on him is yellow with a hint of orange. Jungkook hopes the excitement of new experiences never ends for Jimin.
Jungkook chooses a spot in the back near a row of hedges tall enough that no one can see through the windshield and throws the car into park.
“How are your wings?” Jungkook asks quietly. No one is close enough to hear them. Still, he is paranoid.
Jimin shifts, leaning forward to ease the pressure from his seat. “They’re fine. They won’t show.”
“I’m less worried about them showing, and more about how much it hurts.” He lifts the edge of Jimin’s shirt just enough to brush his fingers of the edges of his wings where they cling to his torso and wrap around his front. Pixie wings are flexible and soft, much how Jungkook imagines a butterfly’s would be. Butterfly wings don’t glow to reflect their emotions.
“I’m not in pain.”
“You’ll tell me if you are?” Jungkook unbuckles and reaches into the backseat for the hoodie Jungkook brought to add extra layers to the bulk of his wings.
“If I’m uncomfortable I’ll tell you.”
“Cool. I’ll go get us our tickets. You can stay—”
“No,” Jimin panics, his hand on Jungkook’s arm before he opens his door. “I need to stay with you.”
“Are you sure?” Jungkook asks. “We might have to wait in a line around other humans.”
“I’ve learned to control my dust.” Contrary to his words, Jimin loses a thin cloud of yellow that lands on his white hoodie, standing out like a paintball stain.
Jungkook swipes it away.
“Alright,” Jungkook sighs. “Let’s go over some rules, first.” Right now, Jimin is more like a cat who needs exposure to humans before he is ready to go out into the great big world and interact with others.
Jimin faces him, attentive, unblinking. He is so cute when he’s trying hard to convey something he is not really feeling. Jungkook can see the anticipation in the way his leg bounces. Siyeon and Bora aren’t here to offer protection and confidence in how to handle a pixie, leaving Jungkook solely responsible for Jimin, a being who, at Jimin’s core, Jungkook knows nothing about and Siyeon knows too much about. She didn’t exactly leave a note on the fridge with instructions for how to tame a pixie should things turn sour.
“Rule number one: no matter what you hear from anyone’s heart—including mine—don’t be aggressive about it. In public spaces like this, humans won’t attempt to hurt one another.” Most of the time, but he does not want to worry Jimin with the idea of assaults and robberies. This date is supposed to be about love and competition and the windmill.
“Most humans don’t want to see other humans hurt,” Jimin says, echoing Jungkook’s exact words like it was last week that they ventured out in public for the first time to visit the birds and snakes. Depending on who you ask, it kind of was.
“Correct.” Jungkook smiles, resting his hand on the back of Jimin’s neck. “You’re a quick learner.”
Orange and yellow like the light of thousands of tiny fireflies falls into the pile of dust accumulating on the center consol. Jungkook raises an eyebrow.
“I can suppress it,” Jimin assures. “I’m not trying to yet. Keep going. What is the next rule?”
“Rule two is something I’m sure you already know, but no talking about humans as a separate species. Or pixies or warlocks.”
“No talking about stars either,” Jimin says.
“Or wolves,” Jungkook adds.
“That’s fair. Rule three is no wandering off. The last time that happened you were almost eaten by a wolf.”
“I wasn’t almost eaten.”
“You came close.”
“I had him pinned against a wall when you showed up.”
“Anyways,” Jungkook sighs, “you don’t have to hold my hand the whole time, just don’t disappear on me.
“Can I hold your hand the whole time?”
“Aw,” Jungkook coos, running his thumb over Jimin’s cheek. Jimin leans into him, his blushed skin warm against his palm. “Stop being so cute or someone is going to try to take you from me.”
Jimin laughs, so cute that Jungkook almost worries for real that someone is going to see him and try to flirt or fall in love. Jungkook knows first hand how hard it is not to fall in love with Jimin. So hard, in fact, that he did it twice.
“It’s pink,” Jimin says. There is no pink dust on his shoulders, none in the car at all. Jimin notices him searching. “On the inside. See? I can control it.”
“I love you too, cutie. Oh! That reminds me. The next rule is that you are not allowed to fall in love with anyone else. I don’t care how hot they are or what sort of string instrument is in their heart, I don’t want you to ditch me at a mini golf course for some other guy.”
To Jungkook’s surprise, Jimin does not try to correct him, say that there is no way he would leave him for someone else, or confirm in any way that he agrees to the rule. Instead, he rolls his eyes, then leans over the consol to kiss Jungkook, his hands resting on the back of Jungkook’s neck and playing with the ends of his hair. An eternity too soon Jimin pulls away, not giving Jungkook time to register and return the kiss.
“If there are no more real rules, can we go now?” Jimin asks, unbuckling himself and reaching for the door.
“Wait!” Jungkook hits the manual lock on his side of the car. “You won’t fall in love with anyone else, right?”
Jimin tilts his head, eyebrows furrowed as he studies Jungkook’s face. “You’re serious? This isn’t sarcasm?”
It might have been a joke until Jimin did not confirm nor deny his request. He may be acting irrationally paranoid, but with Jimin, he still doesn’t know. Technically they have only known each other for a couple of months,.
“You won’t fall in love with anyone else here, right?”
“I will not and do not want to love with anyone else.”
“Thank god,” Jungkook breathes, clutching a hand over his heart.
“You were actually worried.”
“Well, yeah. I didn’t know if you wouldn’t say no because it would be a lie, you know?”
“I was teasing you,” he says. Jimin laughs beautifully, dipping his head into Jungkook’s chest, the only thing holding him up being the grip he has around Jungkook’s neck. Jungkook unhooks Jimin’s arms and lets Jimin fall forward, a playful scowl on Jimin’s face when he finds his balance again.
“You’re getting too good at that,” he says, tapping Jimin’s nose. “Stop learning so fast.”
After another quick kiss that they both equally lean in for, Jungkook steps out of the car, meeting Jimin on the other side to hold his hand while they walk through the crowded parking lot.
Jimin’s fingers dig into the back of his hand and bicep, holding his entire arm firmly against his body. He darts from one human to the next, eyeing them up and down, not hiding his expressions as he reacts to their hearts.
“What are you hearing?” Jungkook whispers.
“Lots of excitement, mostly. That human over there,” he nods in the direction of a young lady stepping out of her car, “is trying not to cry.”
“I think it has something to do with the human on the other side. Why do they feel love and sadness at the same time?”
A man leans against the opposite end, scrolling on his phone.
“Maybe she caught him cheating,” Jungkook whispers.
“Like, when they play games?”
“Uh, yeah. Like Siyeon does,” Jungkook lies.
Jimin points to a group of college age students. “That one is thinking about sex.”
“Okay! No more mind reading. It’s awkward to feel like that around other humans and I’m sure they don’t want anyone else to know.”
Jimin grins into Jungkook’s arm. He likes when Jungkook is flustered, and around Jimin that happens too often, too easily. He is too much of a pixie not to use it against him.
“What would you do if I made you feel that way around other humans?”
“Are you flirting with me right now?”
“Is flirting when you talk about magenta?” The most adorable code word.
“Sometimes…” Jungkook hates and doesn’t mind this conversation at the same time.
“Then yes, I’m flirting. What would you do?”
Jungkook is saved by the white arch above the gateway to the ticket stand. “I would buy us some tickets and beat you in mini golf.”
Jimin drops the flirting that he, of course, is naturally good at, like pixies usually are, and lets Jungkook buy their tickets in peace, only releasing the death grip he had on his arm when Jungkook hands him a red putter and ball. He shoves the tiny scoring pad into his pocket. They won’t need it. Jimin’s eyes widen. He swivels the club in front of his face like he’s seen it before.
“There are staves in mini golf?” He taps the top of the club with the ball, trying to connect it. “How do you ignite it?”
Jimin is so cute it makes Jungkook look stupid.
“They don’t ignite. See how other people are playing? The way they hit it?”
Jimin follows Jungkook’s gaze to the trio at the second hole down one of the routes, a tropical themed course with palm trees and coconuts with holes dug through them as obstacles. While he watches Jimin spins the club around one hand like a baton and the club sticks to his hand like glue. He makes note to ask Jimin what exactly a game of staves entails and why it’s so hot that he can do tricks with his club. Jungkook doesn’t dare attempt the elegant spin Jimin has.
There are two routes to take—beginner and expert looking courses. Jungkook chooses the one with the castle, of course, his favorite, and leads Jimin down a hill to the first hole, a plain looking expert hole with nothing but a couple of triangular blocks and a bridge over neon blue water.
“You use the club to hit a ball through hoops? Like croquet?”
“Yes! Exactly like croquet—except with fun obstacles, and the ball is lighter, and there’s a hole you’re trying to make it into.”
“I’m not worried about winning anymore.”
“You give up already?” This isn’t the Jimin who said he could kick Jungkook’s ass at any competition.
“Jungkook, you have no chance of winning. The odds are against you.”
Jungkook’s jaw drops. First Jimin excels at flirting, surpasses him in club tricks, and his smack talk game is already at max. Jimin moves forward like he didn’t just dunk on Jungkook and lines up behind his ball with the club facing sideways like a croquet racket.
Jungkook gets the best idea he’s had since he decided to take a pixie out to play mini golf.
“Wait, like this!” He’s always wanted to do this. Jungkook comes up behind him and crowds Jimin close enough to reach around and guide his hands, not too close that he puts any pressure on Jimin’s wings. Jimin closes the space and leans into him and Jungkook twists the club and pulls their arms back a few inches.
“Isn’t that sideways? You’re supposed to hit it from the brunt.”
“Not in this game.” This is going to be easier than Jungkook thought. He isn’t an experienced player by any means but compared to Jimin he looks like an expert. He helps Jimin putt the first hit directly over the bridge and into a triangle that bounces it to the edge of the bricks and roles onto the green. Jungkook has never had such a perfect starting hit before.
“I’m trying to aim for the hole in the field, correct?”
“Yes. But now it’s my turn.”
Jungkook sets up and lines up for a putt that goes less perfect than his hit with Jimin. It bounces off the triangle, but at the wrong angle, and rolls back into the water. He tries not to get too agitated—it’s just a game.
A game that he has to win or else Jimin will win and that won’t do.
“Is there a prize I get for winning?” Jimin asks like he’s already won.
“No, don’t you dare. You’re not winning anything.”
“So, no stakes?” A disappointed pixie is contagious. Jungkook can’t leave him like this.
“What do you want to bet?” It’s not like they have much to win or lose anyways. The only things Jungkook can think of are subjects he can’t just shout across a mini golf course.
Jimin leans sideways on his elbow against his club, somehow not falling as it tilts back and forth. He looks like he’s a regular here already. Is Jungkook going to have to accept that a pixie’s ability to learn and mimic trumps Jungkook’s prior experience?
“If you win, I’ll wear a seatbelt without struggling for the next calendar week.”
Jungkook gets nothing out of that. In fact, he loves Jimin’s dependency on stubbornness. He never wants him to climb into a car without a fight.
“And what if you win?”
Jimin doesn’t miss a beat.
“Accept my offer.” He’s thought about this.
“That’s not fair at all, cutie.”
“Fine.” Jimin swings back and forth on the club, surveying the vicinity for humans. “If you win, I’ll show you Jupiter.” His eyes spark gold that fades instantly.
The astronomical stakes are tempting. It’s not like Jimin is going to win anyways. Jungkook has nothing to lose but his humanity, and Jimin has nothing to lose but a trip to space, and suddenly the bet seems to lean too far in Jimin’s favor.
“This year, not a hundred years from now, right? You’ll take me to Jupiter by this day next year?”
“I’ll take you to Jupiter this year if you win, and when I win, you have to accept my offer and complete the ritual the day Siyeon comes back.”
Jimin isn’t going to win, so there’s no real risk.
It isn’t until the third hole with Jungkook’s lead that Jungkook remembers just who exactly he brought to a mini golf course. He can’t believe he didn’t see it before, but he’s glad now that they started with the expert’s course.
“That’s not what a stump looks like.” Jimin glares at hole six behind the castle at hole five. The expert route at this course features Jimin’s arch nemesis. Jungkook wishes he could say he planned this to throw him off his rhythm.
“It’s just a setting some dude came up with at a drawing board. It’s not supposed to be accurate.”
Jimin passes the third hole they are on and rounds the castle. There aren’t many people in front of them anymore, just one group already on the last hole. It seems people finally realizes how ridiculous it is to be mini golfing outside in this weather.
“Jungkook, those look like fairies.”
Jungkook laughs and Jimin glares harder at the fake fairy-mushroom-stump fantasy set up on the sixth hole. On top of a wooden and real looking stump, a pair of fairies with sparkling blue wings ending in a point sit over the edge, judging your shot on either side. It’s too perfect. Jungkook wishes he could say he planned this.
“You can hit them in the face with this when we get to that hole.” Jungkook picks up Jimin’s ball from the tee at hole three and tosses it to him. Jimin has perfect reflexes but the ball is still slippery from its last fall in the pond on hole two. It bounces at his feet and rolls into the brick lining the base of the castle. Jungkook takes a video to remember the moment while Jimin drops his club and chases the rolling ball down the next hill. It’s so windy that Jungkook’s laugh will be lost in the video, but he enjoys it in the moment.
Jimin finally catches up to the ball at the fake fairy stump course. Not a single spec of dust puffs out but he doesn’t hide his disgust when he brings back the ball, shaking off the slimey water and dirt, and places it on the tee next to Jungkook’s.
“Fairies aren’t that interesting,” he mumbles.
“You’re much cuter,” Jungkook adds. “I could never fall for a fairy like I have for you.”
“Are you flirting?” Jimin asks.
“Maybe. Why? What did you hear?” Jungkook covers his heart.
“You weren’t lying. Fairies aren’t cool ,” he says, and drops it.
At hole four, swamp themed, Jungkook passes Jimin by one hit. At the castle, Jungkook passes Jimin by two more hits. At the fake fairy stump, he lines up his shot to shoot straight through the tunnel under the stump and around a corner through a forest of red and white sparkly mushrooms. It lands in the green, not quite a hole in one, but he might make it in two. He needs to make it in two. He really wants that trip to Jupiter and he really doesn’t want to think about what he actually agreed to. He doesn’t know if Siyeon and Bora are coming back to Terra tomorrow or ten years from now or ten minutes from now.
Jimin makes it through the stump in two hits and hits the mushrooms three times after Jungkook has already sunk his ball. Jimin lines up behind the ball, glaring at the it the whole time, nose scrunched, eyes focused, locked onto the fairies atop the stump. He isn’t even looking at the ball when he shoots for the green and misses the path through the mushroom forest.
“Hey, hey,” Jungkook coaxes, dropping his club and holding Jimin’s hands over his own. “Are you really that bothered by the fairies? We can skip this one, call it a draw.” Jungkook will still be in the lead, which is comforting, even though his confidence wavers.
“I’m not… Yes, I am upset about the fairies but I’m more upset that you’re winning.” His grip of the top of the club tightens. “How are you winning? I’m doing exactly what you’re doing.” He gestures to the mushrooms. “And this should be easy for me. I watched croquet hundreds of times, I know how to use a club. It’s not like the ball is slippery or my club is crooked, so why? Why isn’t it going in?”
“It’s not going to be easy to learn a skill the first or even tenth time you try it. After a while it becomes instinct, but how do you think that instinct develops?”
“By watching others.”
“No. By experiencing the game. Come on,” Jungkook takes Jimin’s club and brings them back to the start of the fairy course. He hands it to Jimin and wraps himself around him from behind again when the shot is lined up. He can feel Jimin shudder, it might be from irritation. “You’re not going to be good at mini golf unless you practice, and you’re going to hit a bunch of stumps and bridges and alligators but each time you fail you learn how not to do it.”
“I learn by failing,” Jimin murmurs. “That makes no sense. Okay.” He takes the shot with Jungkook’s guidance and the ball rolls right through the stump. “I hit it harder this time,” Jimin notes.
“Yep!” Jungkook ruffles his hair. Jimin loves the encouragement. “Now miss your next shot through the mushrooms.”
Jimin’s next putt bounces between two mushrooms and rolls back down the hill to the edge of the stump where the fairies overlook, judging.
Motivation is also a key factor in learning. “Pretend there’s a fairy right behind them. Aim for its head,” Jungkook says.
Jimin hit’s his invisible fairy and lands in the green.
“This doesn’t count, by the way,” Jungkook says, putting and missing the hole. “You’re still down by like five.”
“I want to take you to Jupiter.” Jimin misses the hole gracefully, perfectly.
Jungkook is focused on the ball, speaking only by first thought while Jimin takes aim. “And I want a forever with you.”
Jimin’s ball roles in. His expression lifts, eyes wide.
“What?” Jungkook asks. “Oh,” he realizes. “Well, it’s true.” There is no one around to hear them. The wind chased them away. “I just don’t know what I’m willing to sacrifice for it.” Jungkook sees blue when he looks at Jimin. “But we can talk about it more! It’s not like I’m going to let you win anyways.”
Jimin stiffens and clears his throat, how very human of him. “I’m going to lose this game so I can beat you next time.”
Jungkook wins and walks a dejected pixie to the club drop off area. The sun sets gold over the clouds above the rolling hills on the other side of the bay. Jimin smiles as Jungkook tosses the score card in the trash on the way out and holds his hand all the way back to the car until they are forced to part at the door.
“You did great, cutie,” Jungkook says as he pulls on his seatbelt. He waits for Jimin to do the same and loves that he doesn’t. “Put it on and I’ll kiss you when we get home.”
“I want to do a kiss now.”
Jimin gets what he wants and fastens his seatbelt. Now Jungkook has to prepare a list of things to pack when they finally go to Jupiter.
As they pull out of the lot, Jungkook notices three men lined up at the entrance to the course under the white arch, all wearing the same tacky suit, and there are no other people at the golf course, not even in the ticket booth. They are all facing the car, expressionless. Jimin notices too. Jungkook fears the worst he knows how to fear. He doesn’t know of anything more dangerous than humans with an agenda that look like they want to stalk and eat him.
“Just go,” Jimin says.
“Do you see the—”
“There’s only three. It can’t hurt you. It’s just an omen.”
Another man joins the three as Jungkook pulls onto the road and drives home.