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you're home to me after all

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All around him are cheers. Cries of joy. Of relief.

 

They won. The war is over. They’re free.

 

Except, it doesn’t feel that way. At least, for Yoongi.

 

He can hear shouts of We did it! and Stop the clock! as they escort them back to the Shatterdome. He can’t help but look at its looming doors as it opens up to take them in and it feels like they just returned from another mission, like there’s another one waiting for them inside.

 

He’s still in shock. He knows he survived. Jin is alive too. He knows because he can’t shake the fear he felt when he thought he wasn’t.

 

Now, they’re both being carried, too exhausted to move even one finger, bodies weighing heavy. The faces above him aren’t familiar, shadowed as the light fixtures of the dome’s vast ceiling glares at him.  

 

He closes his eyes, tries to lessen the sting that hits them. Everything is still a bit wobbly. Still the same rush, the need to put one foot after another as they head straight to their target. As they try to save the planet. One final push.

 

Behind his eyelids, he can make out a monster far bigger than him. A Category-5 Kaiju, glowing and snarling. It’s bright and blue against the inky depths of the sea they’re in.

 

He can still hear its roar, can feel its rage as it swims towards them.

 

Someone shouts Move! and he feels himself being jostled.

 

“Don’t worry, ranger,” someone says. “You’re safe now. We got you.”

 

His lips start moving on their own, trying to force out the words that comes to his mind.

 

The same voice from before shushes him, repeating the same words.

 

I’m not a ranger, he wants to say. I’m not.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

Yoongi is lying on a bed. It’s been hours since they were taken to the infirmary, since the doctors checked for their vital signs and patched them up back together.

 

(Yoongi knows there’s more fixing that needs to be done. His mind. His heart, too.)

 

Jin is sitting by his bedside. One look at the plastic chair he’s on and Yoongi can already feel his back hurting. Behind Jin, the sheets of his bed are a mess, almost reaching the floor. Like Jin was in a haste to get out, didn’t bother to at least put most of it back on the bed. The sheets are too white and pristine, too different from the rust and stains of the dome’s metal walls.

 

He is awake now, not as sluggish as before. His memories come back to him in bits and pieces. He remembers how his helmet had gone foggy, how harsh his breathing had become. He remembers a multitude of beeps and whirs, a robotic voice saying his oxygen levels were too low, that any second he won’t have enough left. But before that happened, he saw Jin through his haze, leaning over him and murmuring things he couldn’t hear but understood by the look in his eyes.

 

It wasn’t a goodbye. Jin knows he hates goodbyes. It was a see you later, one Yoongi didn’t even receive properly before he was propelled upward in his evac pod. Up, up, up. Past the Breach’s entrance. Until he’s floating along the water’s surface. Back to safety.

 

“You let me go ahead,” is the first thing he says, almost like an accusation. It wasn’t part of the plan.

 

Jin only looks at him. “Yeah, I did.”

 

“We were supposed to do it together,” he says, quieter this time. You weren’t supposed to be alone.

 

“I know.” Jin reaches for his hand hesitantly and it’s cold. It grounds Yoongi more than anything despite the slight chill he feels. “I know,” Jin repeats, more softly. “I’m sorry. But at the time, there’s no reason for there to be two of us when the detonation can be managed by one.” Jin looks at him as if he knows what he really meant. He looks at him as if he’s saying, I wasn’t alone, I never was.

 

Yoongi knows there’s more to it than that. He knows it’s also because there’s no reason for you to die when it can only be just me.

 

But he doesn’t point that out. He doesn’t need to. They both know.

 

Instead, he mutters, “Thank you.”

 

He’s not sure what he’s thanking him for. Thank you for risking your life for me, for the entire human race. Thank you for letting me be a part of something big, something greater than I’ll ever be. Thank you for holding my hand, even now.

 

He squeezes Jin’s hand and wonders how long it will take for the heat in his hands to warm Jin’s freezing ones.

 

Jin smiles at him, more out of reassurance than anything. “You’re welcome.”

 

They both know this too. That he only said that so that the topic doesn’t go to territories they’re not ready to venture into. Not yet at least.

 

They both know too that it’s more for Yoongi’s sake. It always is.

 

“If I’m sneaky enough, do you think I can get away with stealing a few snacks from the mess hall?” Jin asks.

 

No is already at the tip of his tongue; he only needs to open his mouth then purse his lips. There’s probably at least one doctor outside their room, and tens more of technicians, workers–men and women celebrating beyond this side of the Shatterdome. Jin can’t possibly be sneaky in the midst of all that, can’t expect not to be noticed when he is one-half of the saviors that the world claims them to be.

 

But Jin’s eyes are bright with mischief and he thinks he needs more of it. More of that light.

 

So, he says, “Depends. Grab me something salty?”

 

Jin grins. “And I’ll get something sweet too. Best of both worlds, right, Yoongichi?”

 

He only nods, giving him a small smile in return. He’s not sure what else to say, but Jin is already moving, making his way to the door.

 

His eyes never leave Yoongi as his voice raises, just enough for Yoongi to hear him across the room.

 

“You’ll see. I’ll be as swift as Volchitsa and be back in a flash.”

 

Volchitsa. She-Wolf. One of the first Mark-4 Jaegers. Fast and deadly. Jin can’t be as swift as Volchitsa when it’s rotting away for a few years now, somewhere underneath the Atlantic along with its pilots.

 

Again, they both know this too.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

Two weeks after, they’re back in Seoul, welcomed like they’re heroes. Celebrated like they’ve done something great when most days Yoongi feels like he did not do anything but run. Just took one step and then another. Faster as he does.

 

Alone he is nothing. But with Jin, as they operated Gwisin–or Ghost, as the international news prefer to call their Jaeger–he let himself think they were something together. If he was feeling brave, sometimes he thought they were as much a force to be reckoned with as the sea, as the countless Kaijus Jin faced. As much as the few only Yoongi got to fight.

 

They sit on a bench as the float carries them along the streets of the capital. Banners are everywhere, signs made from paper boards and decorated using colored markers, maybe paint. Some say Thank you for saving us! and No more Breach! No more Kaijus! He thinks he sees a few of Gwisin, a smaller version of its dark and mysterious figure. Another is of Taehyung and Jungkook’s Jaeger, Bulgae, bold and fire red.

 

Everything else is full of color that he hardly recognizes Seoul. He thinks he won’t be able to recognize it anyway after years of moving from country to country.

 

Jin sits right next to him as expected while Taehyung and Jungkook sit in front of them. Two pairs of Jaeger pilots. The pride of their country. From far away, it will look like they are just as enthusiastic as the crowd that gathered along the sidewalk, waving back with smiles on their faces. But he can tell that it’s not the bench they’re sitting on or how long this parade is that makes their shoulders stiff and backs straight.

 

All of it doesn’t seem real. But it is. And Yoongi only feels out of place.

 

Later, as the host interviews them for his afternoon special, The World’s Heroes, South Korea’s Pride, he wonders if anyone in the audience can tell how much he feels like he shouldn’t be here. That he doesn’t belong.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

It’s not until the night before their fifth appearance on tv that Yoongi finally breaks.

 

The morning after, he will let his mind think for a moment that he’s surprised he lasted this long. Maybe he is stronger than he thinks. Or maybe he’s just stubborn.

 

In his dream, all he can see is darkness. A void.

 

Empty. Until it’s not.

 

There’s humming around him, something coming to life. He sways from left to right, a force keeping him down, down, down. He is unable to move, not even open his mouth for at least a whisper, a sad excuse of a call. And then he sees bubbles, rising from beneath him, from his mouth.

 

He’s underwater and it’s cold. The blue emerging from the shadows is icy. A chill runs up his spine as he sees a familiar set of beady eyes, skin stone gray and lined with a glowing blue.

 

It’s a Category-4. It’s Hammerhead, the first Kaiju he ever fought with Jin.

 

He takes a breath. The water comes rushing in.

 

Hammerhead opens its mouth and swallows him whole.

 

Another dream. This time, when he opens his eyes, he’s back inside Gwisin.

 

Outside is the Breach, hazy and mushy like the insides of a grotesque animal. Bolts of electricity dance across them, darting around from side to side, up and down. Water has leaked into their Jaeger, the haul compromised, but his lungs are working properly. His oxygen levels are okay for another fifteen minutes.

 

Jin still leans over him and Yoongi can see him clearly now. But everything he hears is muted, muffled like his ears are filled with cotton. He reads Jin’s lips instead.

 

And it’s wrong. What Jin said is wrong. He’s not supposed to say that. That’s not what they say to each other.

 

He bangs his fists against the lid of the evac pod, screams for Jin to let him out. Let me out, hyung! Let me out! He shouts that he’s fine. That he can stay with him for as long as they need to detonate Gwisin’s nuclear core. But the ruckus he makes is futile as Jin presses a few buttons and then he’s off in a blur of speed and desperation.

 

It ends when only one pod emerges from beneath the water’s surface. And it’s his. Jin’s pod is nowhere in sight.

 

Then there is pounding, like the beat of his heart. Belatedly, he realizes it’s the sound of padded footsteps against his hotel room’s carpeting. Footsteps he knows too well.

 

Jin shakes him awake, calling out his name. And it’s like the first time they drifted together, how the Shatterdome trembled as they went out of alignment. He recalls Namjoon and Hoseok almost had a heart attack as they oversaw Gwisin’s trial run while Jimin desperately tried to take them offline before they destroyed the base.

 

It was his fault. He got lost in the memory of the very first Kaiju that hit South Korea, entering through Pohang’s seaport, destroying buildings and killing thousands as it made its way through Yeongcheon, then eventually Daegu, his birth city, where a Mark-2 Jaeger was able to put an end to its rampage. Him and his family barely survived that day, huddling together in one of the built evacuation centers underneath the city.

 

He got caught up in chasing the rabbit, and it almost cost Jin his second chance at piloting Gwisin again.

 

“Yoongi,” Jin says quietly as Yoongi opens his eyes. His eyes are wet and filled to the brim with tears. “Hey, Yoongi. That’s it, just breathe for me. It’s me, Jin hyung. Seokjin, remember?”

 

Of course, he does. He knows it’s Jin. The familiar tug in his heart is there, that lingering feeling after they drift, that desire for closeness. Only it has been bothering him for a while now. Maybe he’s going through withdrawals. Their victory against the Kaijus put a sudden stop to their drifting when, before that, he has been spending almost everyday in Jin’s head.

 

But his body doesn’t want to cooperate with him, his chest moving up and down as he desperately gulps for air. He reaches his arms out and Jin meets him halfway, letting Yoongi cling to him like they’re adrift at sea and he is Yoongi’s lifeline, the one to prevent him from slipping down beneath the surface, into the chilling depths.

 

Jin keeps murmuring phrases like it’s okay and you’re safe. He tells Yoongi that he is in his own hotel room, that he came rushing in to see if he’s okay. Something about having a feeling that he wasn’t fine at all. He anchors Yoongi to the present. Taehyung and Jungkook are still here with them, Jin tells him, probably dreading tomorrow’s interview as well. Jin recounts that, on the other side of Seoul, Namjoon and Hoseok have some matters to settle with the government, Jimin following close behind.

 

They’re all alive and well, just like Yoongi himself as he breathes more steadily this time. Just like how Jin is alive and well in front of him too.

 

“You said goodbye,” is all he says when he’s calmed down enough to speak. “You said goodbye, hyung.”

 

Distantly, he can hear the rush of wind outside his room’s window, whistling–no, it’s not whistling. It’s howling as it passes by, the windows and its hinges rattling from the force of it. The heavy rain is like static to his ears, disorienting and persistent. It reminds him too much of the silence before they were about to enter the Breach, when there was a moment no one from the Shatterdome was able to reply, when they were left alone with a monster. Sharp teeth and neon-blue eyes.

 

His heart still thuds against his ribcage, too loud and, most of all, too scared. That too reminds him of incessant beeping, of the blaring warnings of the haul has been breached! the haul has been breached!

 

“I didn’t,” Jin tells him. He moves closer, encircling his arms around him and for the first time since he opened his eyes, it doesn’t feel like he’s trapped. It doesn’t feel like he’s drowning. “I didn’t say goodbye, Yoongi-ah. I’m right here,” he whispers into his hair. “I’m right here,” he repeats like a prayer.

 

Yoongi hears him, he swears he does. Still, he tells Jin as if he doesn’t know as well as he does, “We don’t say things like that, remember? We don’t say goodbye.”

 

“I do,” Jin reassures him. “I promise I won’t say something like that.” Yoongi feels the brush of his lips against his temple. It barely lasts a second that he thinks that he imagined it–the sudden heat he feels there, the way Jin’s heart beats a bit faster than it did before. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Yoongi. I promise.”

 

And Yoongi believes him because he’s Jin and he has never broken his promises. He promised Yoongi after they recovered from their disaster of a trial run, their first drift, that it would never happen again. That even if it did, he would always find a way to bring them both back from the rabbit hole. That they wouldn’t be chasing the rabbit ever again as long as they were together.

 

It didn’t happen again, like he said, and being able to bury his face in the crook of Jin’s neck now, safe and warm, is proof of how he keeps his promises.

 

In the morning, they wake up to tangled legs and soft breathing. Yoongi cleans up as best as he can, tries to hide the redness in his eyes. The makeup artists and stylists do a far better job at disguising what remains of his nightmare on his face. Jin has been quiet ever since and watches from a far, but not far enough for Yoongi not to feel his comforting presence.

 

When the interviewer–a well-known news anchor locally and internationally–asks him how he’s doing, he tells her he’s fine.

 

He doesn’t look at Jin when he says that he is, doesn’t look at Taehyung and Jungkook too.

 

But he knows that Jin knows he’s lying, can feel his gaze along the side of his face. Briefly, he knows that Jin will probably ask him later, too worried not to say or do anything. For now, he ignores the thought until he has to deal with it.

 

He smiles at the interviewer.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

“What are you gonna do now?” Jin asks. “Got any offers?”

 

Yoongi stills for a second. It’s not a goodbye but it almost sounds like one.

 

“I don’t know,” he admits. He’s only gotten a handful of job offers, mostly in South Korea, some in the US, one in Japan. “There’s… there’s one in Daegu. They asked me to help with repairs. Oversee the equipment they borrowed from the base.”

 

Jin’s eyes widen in delight. “Hey, that sounds like a great opportunity. It’s in your city too, how lucky is that?”

 

“What about you, hyung?”

 

Jin hums. “I didn’t get any that’s in Gwacheon, but there’s a couple in the nearby cities. I got some offers from overseas, but I don’t think I’m gonna take any of them. I miss home too much.”

 

Home. Yoongi’s not sure what home is to him anymore. It’s been so long since the last time he was in Daegu that he’s almost afraid to go back only to find that so much has changed, that he won’t recognize it at all.

 

“You’re not gonna go with the job in Daegu?”

 

In truth, Yoongi knows he has to choose one and the job offer in Daegu sounds promising. The job fits more of what he had been doing for years in Sydney, Nagasaki, and about a year in Hong Kong’s Shatterdome, the last one standing. He knew Jaegers from an outsider’s point of view, an engineer’s foresight. The theories behind its technology, the limitations and power underneath all that metal alloy. This was before they found out they were drift compatible. Before he decided to be Jin’s co-pilot and knew Jaegers in a way he never expected to.

 

Everything seems to point to Daegu, his home before almost everything fell apart as Kaijus started appearing and attacking cities. Like this, he can be with his family, spend more time with them. To anyone, it’s the obvious choice.

 

But he hesitates. He thinks about the cities near Gwacheon: there’s Anyang to its left, Seongnam to its right, and up ahead is Seoul where they are now. There are a few more, Jin’s statement too vague for him to determine which among these cities will be his home for a few months. Or maybe he’ll stay in Gwacheon and commute.

 

Either way, that’s more than a couple hundred kilometers between them if he chooses Daegu.

 

And he’s not sure what to make of that thought.

 

It’s a few months now since they closed the Breach. He still feels that tug, the urge for that connection with Jin’s mind. It grew fainter as the weeks passed by, but sometimes it finds a way to make itself known.

 

“I’m thinking about it,” he lies. It’s a first. With a sinking feeling, he thinks it may not be the last.

 

Jin laughs quietly. “Well, don’t think about it too long. They may not stick around long enough until you finally make a decision.” Jin looks at him and Yoongi wonders if he can still feel that tug too, the pull they have on each other. “Like I said, Yoongi-ah, it’s a great opportunity. Think about it. But, honestly, I think you should take it.”  

 

Without thinking, he says, “Okay, hyung, I’ll see if I can.”

 

When he looks at Jin, he thinks he sees a flash of sadness in his eyes, in the way they crinkle as he smiles. But it’s over before he can make sure that it was even there in the first place. He moves as if he wants to say more.

 

“Great. Maybe I’ll accept the one here in Seoul,” Jin tells him.

 

For some reason, it feels like that wasn’t what Jin was going to say.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

“Eomma, it’s me. Yeah, I know. Sorry it’s late, but I wanted to let you know I’m coming home soon.”

 

His mother is ecstatic, her voice slightly muffled as he faintly hears cheering in the background. She must have covered her phone’s microphone to lessen the intensity of her squeals as she tells everyone in her proximity, my baby’s coming home! he’s coming back!

 

He smiles. He’s glad to hear her so happy, but in the back of his mind, a scene plays out:

 

Jin and his pink luggage with a sticker of a ghost made of a single white sheet, Gwisin in bold, neon-green letters across its body. He shoulders his carry-on as he looks at Yoongi. The pull is strong, so strong that he’s a bit frustrated that Jin looks like he doesn’t feel anything at all.

 

Jin says, see you, with a smile and Yoongi gives him a smile of his own in return.

 

“–gi! Yoongi!” his mother calls. “Can you hear me? My signal must be weak, hold on–”

 

“Eomma, wait. It’s not. Sorry,” he sighs. “I can hear you fine. I was just checking on something. What were you saying?”

 

“I was asking you when you’ll come home. A month after?” she asks. “Are you sure you’re no longer needed there?”

 

“I’m sure.” He laughs into his phone’s screen. “And not a month. Within the week, actually.” He hears another squeal. “And… I got a job there, so I’ll be staying long.”

 

The scolding he gets from his mother for withholding this information is worth it when he hears her go on and on about stocking up on their groceries to make sure she’ll be able to cook his favorite meals.

 

“Will you be bringing him?” his mother wonders, and for a moment Yoongi is not sure who she’s talking about. “The other pilot for Gwisin? Seokjin, was it?” She adds, “I’d love to meet him. He’s a very handsome young man. Seems like a gentleman, too.”

 

“He is, but–uh–no, he’s not coming,” Yoongi answers. “He went back home already.”

 

“That’s a shame. You didn’t invite him?”

 

I can’t ask him that, he says in his head. I don’t know how to speak to him anymore. Something feels off and I don’t know how to fix it.

 

What comes out of his mouth is, “I didn’t want to keep him away from his family,” and it’s not entirely a lie.

 

“Oh, of course, you shouldn’t. Invite him next time, okay?”

 

“I will,” he answers and this time it is a lie.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

jin hyung:

how’s daegu?

i’m still at home

[attached photo]

i feel nice so have a cute pic of our dog

 

me:

you reacted to jin hyung’s photo

very cute

[attached photo]

but my holly is cuter, sorry

and daegu’s great

it’s still the same but different too?

eomma’s happy I’m back tho

 

jin hyung:

jin hyung reacted to your photo

okay let’s just say they’re both cute keke

but I get what you mean by it being the same but not

it’s like that here too

it’s… weird

they treat me like a celebrity

and i should be used to it by now

a lot of the jaeger pilots before us ended up like this

but i’m not

i don’t think i’ll ever be

 

me:

yeah, it’s pretty much the same here too

i don’t think i’ll get used to it either

our neighbors even gave us some food earlier

to “thank me” and all

i mean i won’t turn down free food

but “to thank me” part makes me kinda uncomfy

 

jin hyung:

exactly!!

can’t deny i’m kinda jealous you guys got food

a lot of people just greet me on the street

ask for some photos

 

me:

why does this sound like you’re bragging…

 

jin hyung:

i’m not!!

just stating the truth ;)

 

me:

sure you are

 

jin hyung:

you don’t believe me

hmph

 

me:

kekeke sorry

when does your work start?

 

jin hyung:

in two weeks

so i still have time to mess around with my family

might not go out as much

or maybe i’ll wear a disguise

what about you?

 

me:

what do you mean?

 

jin hyung:

cmon

you can’t expect me to believe all you got is food

 

me:

okay fine

there’s a local news channel here

covers everything that happens in the city

and they asked for an interview

taehyung should’ve been with me but he’s busy

so it’s a solo interview

 

jin hyung:

oh??

what did you say?

 

me:

nothing

eomma went ahead and said yes

i only found out because she asked

me when i’m free to do an interview

 

jin hyung:

i think i like your eomma

 

me:

shut up

 

jin hyung:

kekekekekeke

kidding aside

will you be okay?

 

 

 

Yoongi stares at the question for a few seconds longer. He types, i have to be. Backspace. He types, i don’t know. He erases it again. He types, i would be if you were here. His thumb hovers over the send button, but eventually he erases the words again.

 

 

 

me:

yeah, i’ll be fine

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

The lights are too bright and the cameras too intimidating despite there being only two.

 

He doesn’t know why he feels more nervous for this interview than the ones he had around Seoul with fancier studios and even fancier equipment.

 

Maybe it’s because he’s alone this time. Maybe it’s also because he knows Jin is watching him from his laptop screen. The local news channel is not only broadcasting this live on tv but through its YouTube channel too, so Jin is able to see him despite the distance between them.

 

For a second, he allows himself to think that it’s unfair that Jin gets to see him while he doesn’t. That he gets to see Yoongi in a place he doesn’t want to be in. It’s unfair that Jin knows him so well that, if Yoongi isn’t careful, just one look and he may know everything, even things that Yoongi doesn’t know himself.

 

The interview starts like any other, so he greets the same way, smiling enough to not seem bored, but firm enough so none of them get any wrong ideas and ask personal questions. From the first question, he can tell it is like the interviews they had before, they just have different styles of wording. But, his answers are capable of adapting too, seeming like they’re genuine when they’re just a repeat of the same thing he told all those men and women from the media.

 

“What does it feel like to be a hero, to save the world from the Kaijus?” the interviewer asks him.

 

I’m not a hero. I’m a far cry from it. I was just a last-minute replacement, someone to fill a position so we have another weapon we can use against those monsters. Really, I was just a kid who knew a lot about how Jaegers function. Good at fixing things if given the right tools and time. I can go through theories the way people read magazines.  

 

I don’t feel like a hero or that I saved the world. I just happen to be drift compatible with someone who is.

 

He answers instead that he was simply doing his job, following orders, and dealing with unexpected events as efficiently as he could. That he wasn’t the only one who did his job, giving credit to Namjoon and Hoseok for their leadership, Jimin for monitoring every mission, Taehyung and Jungkook for backing them up in their last battle, the tech crew, officers of every rank. They all worked hard.

 

Harder than I ever did, he thinks. She accepts the answer with a smile, lips cherry red.

 

The last question should be easy, having expected it from the very beginning. He answered the same question at least five times in six, maybe seven different interviews.

 

“What are you going to do now?”

 

The way it’s worded throws him off a little. For the first time, it takes a while for him to answer.

 

He hasn’t thought about the future, what he’ll do in the long run. Right now, he only knows that tomorrow he needs to do some maintenance on the machineries they’re using. In the evening, he’s gonna help Eomma make dinner. A few weeks in and it’s almost a routine now, working in the weekdays from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon and doing chores at home when he needs to.

 

Then he thinks about Jin:

 

His cold hands grasping Yoongi’s own warms ones as he tells him that he’s sorry when he’s really not, when he would do it all over again if it meant Yoongi has a better chance at surviving.

 

His ‘you’re safe’s and ‘i’m here’s as he pulls Yoongi closer to him, making him forget about the dark depths of the sea, the bright blue eyes of a monster he would never see again, at least not when he’s awake.

 

His promise to Yoongi that he’ll never say goodbye and the rest of the promises he made, the way he has always kept each one.

 

He thinks about all these and almost answers the interviewer, I’m coming home.

 

But he catches himself last minute. Jin is watching right now and he doesn’t want him to find out.

 

He smiles at her. “I’m trying to help rebuild the city.”

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

jin hyung:

you did great, yoongi-ah

proud of you

let’s talk soon after you rest, okay?

you worked hard

 

 

 

Jin’s last message doesn’t make sense to him.

 

He worked hard? It doesn’t feel like he did. All he did was answer the same questions other interviewers had been asking them for months now.

 

He types, i didn’t. A few seconds later, he backtracks.

 

He types, all i did in the interview was think about you and how much i miss you.

 

He erases that too.

 

 

 

me:

thanks, hyung

i’ll talk to you later

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

One night, Yoongi sees it again.

 

He’s underwater, floating in the murky depths of the sea. This time, Ronin swims in front of him, the first and last Category-5 they fought and whose carcass they used to enter the Breach. Beyond it, the entrance to the Breach crackles with life and energy, the only source of light in the darkness.

 

He’s alone again and he’s not sure if he prefers it that way or–

 

Ronin growls, the seabed quaking at the guttural sound.

 

Yoongi can only stare back as it launches straight for him with bared teeth.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

It’s late at night when he woke up to a worried look on Eomma’s face. She hands him a cup of tea after the worst of his nightmare passes. It’s warms in his hands and he thinks about Jin’s hands, how they’re the complete opposite of the heat he holds in his own, and wonders if they’re okay being cold all the time. He wonders who holds his hands when the chill gets too much.

 

Carefully, he takes a sip.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

me:

hey, hyung. i had another dream again. it’s not as bad as before and i think maybe i can handle it better from now on. honestly, i don’t know why i’m telling you this. no, wait, that was a lie. the “i don’t know why i’m telling you this” part. everything else is sort of true. i’ve probably lied to you more than a few times now. i didn’t want to and i never thought i would but somehow i did. i’m not even sure what i want to say right now but i really want to talk to you. there’s more i want to say but every time i somehow can’t find the right words. you probably won’t even see this because i know i’ll just delete it again so i might as well say i miss you. it’s not because of the nightmare i had and that i need you to make it go away. it’s not even because of that tug i still feel when i think about you. i don’t even understand it myself. i just miss you, hyung. i hope you’re keeping your hands warm. i don’t think i’ve told you how much i hate the cold but

 

jin hyung:

jin hyung is typing

yoongi? i see you typing

it’s late, are you okay?

 

me:

yeah, hyung

just wanted to say good night

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

Taehyung and Jimin are drunk.

 

On his phone’s screen, they’re a bit pixelated but Yoongi can tell through the giggles and snorts he hears that they maybe had one too many drinks.

 

He sighs as Jimin shoves Taehyung to the side, putting him out of the view of their phone’s camera. “Okay, I think you’ve had enough. Drink–” Taehyung comes back into view and tackles Jimin for the phone. Yoongi feels dizzy seeing the blur of shapes and colors on his screen. “Taehyung, Jimin,” he calls out. His voice comes out stern, but he can see himself at the corner of his screen with a small smile of his own reflected back at him. Once they settle down, he continues, “Drink water and rest. Besides, I thought you two wanted to talk yet you’re already drinking when I answered.”

 

Jimin sniffs. “You’re no fun, Yoongi hyung.”

 

“And you’re drunk.”

 

“I haven’t seen you for months now. Come to Seoul, hyung,” Taehyung says with a pout.

 

I can’t. I don’t think I’m ready to see him. “When I’m free. It’s been a bit busy.”

 

“Come on, please,” Taehyung whines. “You haven’t seen Jin hyung, right?”

 

“We’ve both been busy,” Yoongi excuses. It sounds weak even to his own ears.

 

“Seriously? I don’t know how you do it, hyung. I can’t last a few days without seeing Jungkook at least once in person.”

 

He wants to say that he wants to see Jin more often, that he understands what Taehyung means, but what they have is different from Taehyung and Jungkook’s. It’s not that easy. Most of the time, he wishes it is.

 

Jimin snorts. “That’s easy for you to say, Tae. Jungkook’s just one city away. Yoongi hyung’s way farther than that.”

 

More than two hundred kilometers, he almost informs them.

 

“I’m–” Jimin hiccups, laughing. “I’m more surprised Jin hyung hasn’t–I don’t know–gone to Daegu to see you or whatever.”

 

He’s not sure what Jimin means by that. “He’s busy, isn’t he? I’m busy too, so it’s fine.”

 

“Hm, he is busy. Well, sort of, I guess. But he would do anything for you, Yoongi hyung, I swear. He’d probably drop everything if you ask him to. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. That man literally gave you air to breathe. Really, he–”

 

Taehyung elbows Jimin’s side, making him groan as he leans forward with his head bowed, face hidden from view.

 

“What?” Yoongi breathes. It feels like everything is at a standstill, even his heartbeat, as he registers Jimin’s words. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Jimin, you idiot.” Taehyung slaps his back.

 

“Shit,” Jimin curses. “I don’t think I was supposed to say that.”

 

You think?

 

“Jimin, what do you mean?” Jimin doesn’t look at him in the eyes. “What does he mean by that, Taehyung?”

 

Taehyung sighs. “Jimin, will tell you, Yoongi hyung.” To Jimin, he says, “You started this mess, so you explain. I’m not gonna get my ass kicked by Jin hyung.”

 

With his words slightly slurred, Jimin recounts the last few minutes they were in Gwisin. Yoongi’s low oxygen levels, the minutes they have left. Jin gave him his oxygen, switching the tubes connected to their neural suits.

 

“He gave us a scare when he had to manually activate the self-detonation sequence.”

 

“He–what?”

 

Exasperated, Taehyung cries, “Jimin!”

 

“I’m sorry! I get mouthy when I drink.”

 

It feels like he’s in the dark again. It’s cold and it’s not the kind of cold that he liked. It’s not like someone’s hands.

 

“I–I think I need to go,” he tells them. “I’m sorry, I need to talk to–”

 

“Yeah, we know, hyung.” Yoongi can see the understanding in Taehyung’s eyes despite the slight daze in them. They really should go to bed now. “You don’t have to explain.”

 

Yoongi nods. “Okay. Rest now, alright? Take care, you two.”

 

Taehyung drops the call after they wish him goodnight.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

“You gave me your oxygen,” Yoongi says in lieu of a greeting.

 

On the other end of the line, he hears Jin breathing. In and out, in and out. Jin says through the static of the phone’s connection, “I had to.” He doesn’t ask how Yoongi knew.

 

It’s silent between them. He’s never disliked it before, but it’s different now. His grip on the phone grows tighter. He can almost imagine its plastic cracking from the force of his hold. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“You didn’t need to know.”

 

“Of course, I needed to know, hyung. You should’ve told me.”

 

Jin sighs and Yoongi’s not sure if his breathing really came out shaky or that’s just a result of his slightly poor signal. “Okay, you’re right. But it’s okay, isn’t it? We’re here now. We’re fine.”

 

“It’s not fine, hyung. You had to initiate Gwisin’s core meltdown by hand without much oxygen left. I–” You could have died. I could have lost you. “You promised no goodbyes.”

 

“It wasn’t a–”

 

It was! It was, hyung. You–you shouldn’t have given me your oxygen. You shouldn’t have let me go ahead. You weren’t supposed to be alone. You could’ve–”

 

“Yoongi, hey, breathe for me for a sec, okay?” Only now that Jin says this that Yoongi notices how sharp his breathing is, how fear clings to every inhale and exhale. “There, that’s it. Slowly, yeah? Just take your time.”

 

It takes a few minutes. Yoongi answers a quiet yeah when Jin asks him if he’s feeling okay now.

 

He’s breathing fine. Steady and no longer out of breath. But he still feels like he’s under, can still see Jin’s lips say goodbye.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” Jin says after a bit of hesitation. There’s regret in his words and something else that Yoongi can’t determine. “I didn’t mean to at the time. I thought I could handle it alone and I managed to. I just–I just couldn’t let you–I didn’t want to see you–” He lets out a deep exhale.

 

“It’s okay, hyung.” He feels the need to comfort him like the way he does. He’s not sure how and he wishes he can hold his hands. “You… you don’t need to say that last part. I know what you mean.” At the last second, he adds, “It’s–it’s what I feel about you.”

 

He feels that tug again, the ache in his heart. Jin doesn’t voice it out loud, but Yoongi can feel him thinking, I know. I’ve always known.

 

Slowly, Jin says, “You know, in the last seconds before Gwisin’s core detonated and when I finally got into the evac pod, all I could think about was you.”

 

Yoongi breath hitches. Me too, hyung. You were all I could think about then. Even now.

 

“The hatch for the manual switch was the frustrating part,” Jin mentions, sounding amused. Almost like he’s reminiscing. “I couldn’t open it fast enough.”

 

“Really?”

 

Jin laughs. “Yeah, it was really heavy. I had to use both my arms, but I managed.”

 

Yoongi thinks about what Jimin said, how Jin would do anything for Yoongi. He wants Jin to know that he feels the same, that he would do anything for him too, but his tongue feels too heavy. The air around him heavier.

 

“Hyung?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

Yoongi breathes and it’s too loud for his liking. He just needs to put one foot in front of the other, just like he did before. But he doesn’t need to go faster this time. He only needs to take that one step.

 

“Yoongi?” Jin prompts after a few seconds of Yoongi’ silence.

 

“I… I miss you,” he manages. Another inhale, another step. “So much, hyung.”

 

“I miss you too, Yoongi-ah,” Jin says the words like he’s been waiting to all this time and Yoongi swears that it’s not just him that’s feeling this way, that Jin feels that tug too. “Can I ask you something?”

 

Anything. “Yeah.”

 

“Why did you really accept that job offer in Daegu?”

 

“My family’s there,” he answers.

 

In his mind, he also says, because I don’t know what else to do. Because you said I should take it. Because I’m scared of wanting to be close to you all the damn time so I chose the farthest place I can handle without feeling like I’m losing a part of myself.

 

“Is that all?”

 

“No,” he whispers and there’s too much emotion, too much of the truth in that one word that he knows Jin can tell.

 

 Jin exhales, breathy and anticipative. “Remember when I said that job offer in Daegu was a great opportunity?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I wasn’t completely honest with you,” Jin says quietly. “It’s great, but… I didn’t want you to go.”

 

Yoongi takes a deep breath. This time, it’s not water that comes rushing in, but something else. It feels a bit like courage. “I didn’t want to go either.”

 

“You didn’t?”

 

“I didn’t,” he whispers. “Hyung, there’s–there’s something I want to tell you. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now. I just–I didn’t know how to say it or what it is actually.”

 

When jin says it’s okay, take your time, Yoongi has a feeling that even if he can’t say it the way he wants to, Jin would know.

 

He’s always known what Yoongi’s heart is trying to say.

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

“How did you know, hyung?”

 

“Hm, I had a feeling. Plus, I was always the better liar out of the two of us. You suck at lying.”

 

Hey,” Yoongi complains.

 

Jin doesn’t laugh, but he can hear the smile in his voice as he says, “I like to think I just know you better than you think. But, really, there are times you wear your heart on your sleeve, Yoongi-ah, that sometimes you make it too easy for me.”

 

“Then, what about now? Can you still tell what I’m thinking even when you can’t see me?”

 

Jin pauses. This time the silence is pleasant.

 

The smile is still in his voice as he says, “I think it’s time I see what Daegu is like in your eyes.”

 

 

 

~~~

 

 

 

Yoongi hates the cold, but he finds that he doesn’t mind holding Jin’s freezing hands.

 

His hands have always been cold. It’s the first thing Yoongi noticed when he met him a few years ago, when he was just an engineer in the tech crew and Jin and his old co-pilot were starting to make a name for themselves with the number of wins they bagged. At the time, he didn’t know how much those hands would mean to him, how much important Jin himself would be.

 

Jin’s hands may be cold, but his lips are warm. Warmer than he expected and slightly chapped from the chill in the air. Yoongi breathes him in, takes in every brush of his lips against his own, the steady beating of his heart against the palm of his hand.

 

When they part, there’s distance again between them, but he thinks this much he can endure. Jin is still within reach. His hands clutch onto the front of Jin’s sweater. It’s blue like the sky that greeted them when they came up from the depths of the Pacific, the day they won.

 

Jin cups his cheek then stills. “Sorry, my hands are cold, right? Let me–”

 

Yoongi shakes his head and places his own hand on top of Jin’s before he can move it away, leaning into him more. He thought he already told Jin everything he wanted to say, but he finds there are even more words bubbling up his throat, wanting to be let out. A bunch of jumbled thoughts, incomplete sentences that don’t make much sense. I’m so happy you’re here, he wants to say. I finally get to hold your hand.

 

But unlike before, they have time. He doesn’t need to rush. Just one step after another.

 

“No,” he breathes, “they’re just right.”