There was a time when I was alone,
Nowhere to go and no place to call home.
My only friend was the man in the moon,
Even sometimes he would go away too.
Jeongguk is staring up into the skies with his back against the cold bricked walls, tear-stained cheeks bruised and bloody, as he heaves a sigh.
It isn't a foreign feeling to Jeongguk, the numbness and emptiness that fills his chest. When the pain leaves the wounds that he would get at a daily basis, they are the only ones left to stir inside him, accompanying him through the passing of day and night.
It didn’t use to be like this.
He used to be one of the normal kids who could attend school without being picked on, bullied nor called names. In fact, Jeongguk was looked up to. A perfect role model. He used to fit in, known to be one of the top scorers for every exam, one of the best dancers of the school's dance club, one of the best singers and one of the best athletes. People absolutely loved him; they adored him, they respected.
But they didn’t love his parents the way they did with him. In fact, they despised them.
He can still remember that night vividly, as though it had just happened yesterday. Flames spitting and hissing in bright orange and yellow shades, the embers flickering harshly as they devoured his house, black smoke filling so quickly into his lungs until it became too suffocating for him to breathe. The shrill screams that left his parents mouths as they yelled at him to run, Jeongguk, run.
Jeongguk had his feet rooted to the ground as he watched, helplessly and so afraid, as his house crumbled down piece by piece as the embers swallowed them hungrily and mercilessly. He was sobbing hysterically and screaming at the top of his lungs when he saw one of the concrete pillars tumble onto his parents from above, crushing their backs and emitting cries of pain that still haunts this boy when he closes his eyes.
When life had bared it's fangs and snatched his parents away from his grasp, Jeongguk did not just lose them. He lost everything else as well.
He was still sent to school right after the incident, due to his uncle's orders. But Jeongguk could not bear the fear and pain that haunted him daily, not only in his sleep in the form of nightmares that had him waking up drenched in his own sweat, but he would occasionally scream out of terror in the middle of nowhere because memories would flood into his mind without his consent.
The people in school had tried to help him, they did. Teachers would stop class to bring him elsewhere to calm down, friends would try and support him by being there beside him when he had his moments. He was even sent to the school counselors in an attempt to find a way to cure his wrecked condition.
However, sympathy could only last for so long.
People started to get tired of him because Jeongguk just wouldn't recover. He couldn't. His grades dropped drastically, and he couldn't do anything without suddenly entering hysterics. People slowly lost interest in him before they began ignoring him all together. Some of the students in school took advantage of this situation and used it as a golden opportunity to begin bullying him.
It used to be just name-calling and minor pranks, like stuffing balloons with ink inside his school shoes before he wore them, but it soon became destructive like hiding his gym attire when he had a class for it, only to be found later after school inside a trash can cut and torn, sometimes ripped into shreds. His table would always have a new set of insults scribbled across it every morning, and usually he would've taken the initiative to clean them up. But he stopped entirely as it went on even after a few weeks.
The best part is, the bullying continued to evolve as the months passed, and Jeongguk would always find himself in situations where he is being cornered by a group of tough looking boys, shoving his back roughly against the school walls and insulting him, cursing him, calling him names and asking him to just kill yourself already. He used to fight back, but it got to a point where Jeongguk just couldn't find it in himself to do so any longer, even when a feet is being shoved into his abdomen, or when a fist is being slammed into his face; Jeongguk stopped caring all together.
Life became hell for him. And today is no different.
Jeongguk's uncle never really cares about the boy to begin with, so Jeongguk takes it as an OK sign to not return to his house every day. He would come back to this burnt down building that was once upon a time a place he could call home, the only remaining pieces of it left were the broken bricked walls that outlines the frames of the rooms and a few burnt pillars here and there. Everything else had become the ashes that Jeongguk would step on every day when he returned to spend his night.
His eyelids are feeling heavy as they close slowly, allowing Jeongguk to chance one last glance at the empty black sky, save for the moon that is shining brightly down at him, before he is being pulled into another night of hopefully dreamless slumber. The memories had stopped scaring Jeongguk as much as they used to, and he had also witnessed less nightmares about the incident. But he had lost his self-confidence in that period of time. Lost the people he could once call friends, lost the love and care of his seniors and teachers, and lost the respect of society. He had taken a huge fall and now he can't be bothered to pick himself up again.
Before his conscience leaves him again for the night as it usually does, Jeongguk's gaze is fixed on the moon as he whispers, "Please, take me away with you soon."
Then one night, as I closed my eyes,
I saw a shadow flying high.
He came to me with the sweetest smile,
Told me he wanted to talk for a while.
Jeongguk is woken up to the feeling of being shaken gently on his shoulders.
He blearily opens his eyes, mind still foggy from sleep. His surroundings are foreign to him despite being in a blurry state in his eyes, but he can feel grass poking into his hair and hear water rushing from a distance, before realizing how he has no idea where he currently is, nor how he had ended up in this place. He is in the middle of convincing himself that is a dream before he notices that a voice is speaking.
“Hey, are you okay?”
Jeongguk squints as he makes out the outline of a boy with light brown hair that gleamed under the moonlight that shined down on him, with a look of worry reflecting in his chestnut brown eyes along with a small pout on his lips. He blinks, suddenly all too aware that the boy is practically straddling him as their lips almost touch at the proximity of their faces with the boy hovering above him.
“Um,” he manages intelligently, his voice coming out dry and raspy from neglected use.
“Um? The boy repeats, confusion evident in the way his brows furrow together. “Do you not understand me?”
"No, uh-" Jeongguk stutters, still flustered at how close their lips are. He can feel the warmth of the breaths that leave the boy brush against the skin just above his mouth. "You're just, really close to me."
"Oh," is what the boy says before he makes a move to get off Jeongguk and opt to sit beside him instead. Jeongguk sits up after that, and turns around to see the mysterious boy staring back at him. Now that they're not in a possibly intimate position, Jeongguk can study the features of the boy comfortable, like how his long fringe almost covers his eyes, and how his lips are still slightly jutting out to form a pout. He looks positively adorable and harmless, Jeongguk thinks to himself.
"Are you okay? How did you end up here?" The boy asks with a quizzical look, and Jeongguk is fascinated by how such a low, deep voice is paired up with such a childish and innocent looking face. The boys' head tilts to a side cutely as words continue to leave his mouth, and his eyes are shining with something akin to fascination. "Not that I'm complaining, it's just that I haven't had a visitor in so long."
"I'm- I don't know. I don't know how I ended up here." Jeongguk replies, before he starts to cough. The boy then reaches out a hand, but Jeongguk only flinches away the moment he feels the fingers touch his back. He almost scurries away when he tries to place a bit of distance between them.
Jeongguk does not notice the way the boy’s face fell.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, wrapping his arms around his frame protectively, a habit he had picked up after the bullying came around, "I'm a bit sensitive."
The boy shakes his head, before his previous frown is replaced with a bright smile, flashing white pearly teeth and his eyes forming half-moons on his face. Jeongguk notes how it appears to be rectangular, and deems it suitable for the boys' features.
“What is your name?” The boy asks, eyes shining with hopefulness.
"...Jeongguk." He replies, his lips pressing into a thin line right after. He knows that he should be wary when talking to strangers, because his situation is known to practically everyone that lives in his region, but the boy looks harmless and he had sounded genuinely curious to get to know Jeongguk. So instead of usually backtracking from a conversation, Jeongguk asks back in return, "What about you? What's your name?"
The boy's smile had become wider at the question. "I'm Kim Taehyung. People usually call me Tae or Taehyung, but I go by another name too."
“What would that be?” Jeongguk asks, genuinely curious.
"Some people like to call me Peter Pan." Taehyung says with a laugh, eyes crinkling at the edges.
Jeongguk frowns. “And why is that?”
“Because this is where I live,” Taehyung replies, lips quirking up into a smile. "In Neverland."
He said, Peter Pan, that's what they call me.
I promise that you'll never be lonely,
And ever since that day...
Taehyung had offered to show Jeongguk around, and Jeongguk had accepted the offer warily.
They had walked down forests trails and crossed rivers by stepping on stones, with Taehyung chatting animatedly about the animals and other wild life that supposedly live here with him. They got to know each other, with Jeongguk finding out that he is younger than Taehyung by two years, and that the boy has lived here ever since he was born. Jeongguk had nodded along to everything the boy says and he is grateful that Taehyung never expects him to reply. He is too busy looking around the place and admiring the wonders it had to offer.
The sky is still dark, but thousands of stars are scattered across it and painting it with beautiful white light that twinkled every so often. The air feels fresh here compared to the air Jeongguk used to breathe every day, and he finds that he likes this place that he's only ever heard of from fairy tales. He doesn't believe Taehyung about this place being called Neverland, though.
Jeongguk thinks that they're in some part of the region he lives in, but in a part of it that Jeongguk has never heard about nor went to before. He believes that Taehyung had named this place according to his own free will, despite the vast differences that he had noticed about the place, like the lush greenery and the overflowing life that seem to ooze out of everything that existed here. It makes Jeongguk feel more alive.
They are crossing yet another river now, hopping from stone to stone with great care. Taehyung laces their fingers together as he makes sure not to let Jeongguk fall into the river if he ever slips, which had unfortunately happened during their first attempt to cross a river earlier. The touch had been awkward during the first time, with Jeongguk stumbling over nothing on more than one occasion as he struggled to get used to it. It nearly sends the both of them into the rushing crystal clear waters beneath them for a second time.
Jeongguk is witnessing and experiencing things he has never imagined himself doing, like petting the fur of wild animals when Taehyung had insisted so, ruffle the feathers of a bird that Taehyung had sung to, and touch fireflies as the insects surrounded themselves around the two boys while showing off their brilliant light, fascinating Jeongguk with the beautiful sight.
He decides that he likes to wach Taehyung interact with the wild creatures, especially when the older sings to birds and they sang back. Every now and then, Taehyung will be seen cooing at a baby animal or imitating the sounds of the creatures that passed by while they continue to walk along the forest trails. He thinks that Taehyung is something rather otherworldly.
After a while, they arrive at a huge wooden cabin with an enormous oak tree growing out of a hole on the roof with dimly lit colorful lights dangling from its branches, filling the air with several colors. Orange light is filtering through the circular glass windows on the walls of the cabin and there is the sound of friendly chatter coming from it. Everything about the place gives off a homey feeling that is foreign to Jeongguk.
"Home sweet home," Taehyung announces happily, tugging Jeongguk's wrist and pulls the boy along with him when he makes his way towards the door. "There are five other people who live here with me, and we're practically family. They're very nice people, so I'm sure you'll love them. I'm at least 101% confident that they'll love you too."
Jeongguk feels a tug in his chest when he hears the word 'love', and relishes the new profound feeling that he thought he had long forgotten.
"It's not very grand, so there will be nothing great about it to amaze you, but it's comfortable." Taehyung adds as he uses his other hand to twist the doorknob. The wooden squeaks as it is being pushed open, followed by the sound of footsteps as the two boys enter the cabin. Taehyung then shows the younger around.
The interior of the cabin is as homey as it had seemed from the outside. There are potted plants aligned by all of the round windows by the wall, and most of the furniture are made of wood with floral-patterned clothes placed on top of them. It is a gigantic house with three rooms and a kitchen with a long wooden dining table next to it. There is also the faint fragrance of pine and roses in the air that makes Jeongguk feel strangely at home in his new surroundings. He decides that he likes the place.
Fives figures are sitting around the dining table while chatting and laughing loudly together, making the atmosphere feel warm and inviting when Taehyung and Jeongguk enters. The conversation dies down instantly when Taehyung makes an obnoxiously loud sound while clearing his throat.
"Hyungs! This here, is Jeongguk." Taehyung declares as he pats Jeongguk's shoulder, who is standing beside the boy and shifting awkwardly from foot to foot, not meeting the glances of the five other boys. "And from now on, he's family too. So be nice to him!" He continues, wrapping an arm fondly around Jeongguk's shoulder and grinning from ear to ear.
Once again, Jeongguk is rendered speechless by Taehyung's light and carefree tone when talking about family and love, not forgetting his tendency to show affection to the younger easily. His heart feels tingly and there is a foreign warmth that is spreading through his chest, travelling all the way to his fingertips. He holds onto the feeling dearly.
Taehyung isn't wrong about how Jeongguk would love the fiver older people. They welcomed Jeongguk's presence with open arms and had been very friendly to the younger, who is more than willing to bask into the warmth that they offered to him. They had introduced themselves as Seokjin, Yoongi, Hoseok, Namjoon and Jimin, all of them older than Jeongguk which efficiently made him the youngest. They had dinner together which consists of Seokjin's cooking that Jeongguk claims to be one of the best, and had blush a deep shade of red when he realized that he had said it out loud; but Seokjin's wide smile made Jeongguk grateful that he did.
The seven of them spend the rest of the night getting to know each other, then proceeding to talk about both everything and nothing, laughing at each other and joking around, until Jeongguk lets out a yawn and they decide that it is a good time to catch up with some sleep for the night.
Jeongguk follows after Taehyung who guides the younger to a large room with three beds, which he explains is because he shares a room with Hoseok and Jimin. He passes Jeongguk a set of fresh clothes before ushering him into the bathroom to shower and change. When Jeongguk finished washing up and putting on the clothes, he walks back into the room to find Taehyung sitting on the bed that is the closest to the window, Jimin and Hoseok sleeping soundly in the other two beds.
Taehyung smiles when Jeongguk approaches him, patting down on the spot beside him on the bed.
"You don't mind sharing a bed with me, do you?" Taehyung asks when Jeongguk sits down, his gaze flitting back to the small round window that overlooks the forest trails that are bathed in moonlight. "I don't feel like sleeping on the couch tonight."
"I don't mind." Jeongguk replies, his eyes following Taehyung's gaze to land on the scenary that the window had to offer. He slowly realizes that he had not slept in a bed for a few months now.
"Cool," Taehyung says with a grin. He dives into the colorful blankets and rolls onto one side of the bed, with Jeongguk watching him in amusement. The older boy pats down on the spot beside him, like he had just did a few moments ago.
So Jeongguk obliges, following Taehyung's movements and diving into the blankets, which emitted a fit of not-so-quiet giggles as the older recognizes the familiarity of it. The both of them stare at each other for a while, appreciating the silence between them with tiny smiles adorning their faces, before Taehyung reaches out to ruffle Jeongguk's hair, eyes widerning in pleasant surprise when the younger does not flinch nor move away from the touch.
The corner of his mouth lifts when he notices how Jeongguk's eyelids are drooping down very slowly, so he whispers "Good night, Kookie." Too sleepy to notice the use of a new nickname, Jeongguk's head bobs up and down slightly, causing the older to laugh.
"Will you be here tomorrow too?" Jeongguk's voice is timid and soft in his ears.
Taehyung does not understand the point of the question, but the look in the younger boy's eyes that are hardly opening tells him everything he needs to know. So he nods. "Of course, Kookie. Now go to sleep, and let Mother Dreams engulf you with her sweet love for the night."
For the first time in months, Jeongguk sleeps while feeling peaceful.
I am a lost boy from Neverland,
Usually hanging out with Peter Pan,
And when we're bored we play in the woods,
Always on the run from Captain Hook.
The first time Jeongguk meets Captain Hook, Jeongguk is sure he has never felt so alive and happy while trying to run from someone.
True to his word, when Jeongguk wakes up the next morning, Taehyung is the first he sees and he greedily drinks in the sight of it. It happens the next morning, the morning after that, and the mornings that follows after each night that is now filled with sweet dreams of lively adventures and wonderful memories.
Jeongguk slowly gets used to living with Taehyung and the other boys. They would go out fishing or searching for edible plants in the forests during the day, discover new species of animals in the afternoon, play around in the golden sands and salty waters of the beaches in the evening, before listening to one of the older brothers tell a tale during dinner time as they sat around the dining table, before they excuse themselves for the night. Jeongguk would snuggle up against Taehyung, and the other would throw an arm around Jeongguk's frame, with exhaustion pulling them into deep sleep as their hearts race while anticipating the adventures of the next morning.
Without Jeongguk realizing, days slowly turn into months and never once had he stop to miss his previous life in the city.
It is noon, and Jeongguk is examining an exotic-looking plant with purple leaves, Taehyung squatting down in front of him as the older sings to the birds who are chirping noisily on a branch, when Jeongguk notices the frown on Taehyung's face. "What's wrong?”
"The birds are saying something, but I can't really hear them because they're all squawking so loudly at the same time." Taehyung says with an annoyed huff, but he is still smiling. Jeongguk glances up at the branch where a colorful array of birds are perched on, flapping their wings against each other as they chirped, before noticing a beehive with bees swarming around it hanging on a nearby branch. He smiles fondly at the sight.
"Maybe they're gossiping about you," Jeongguk laughs when Taehyung throws a mushroom at him and it hits him on the head. He mocks a hurt expression. "Ouch."
"You're getting cheekier by the day now," Taehyung says as he points an accusing finger at the younger, before a box smile lights up his features. "I'd ask you to return the innocent, fetus-like Jeon Jeongguk that I used to know, but the cheekiness is also a good sign."
"How so?" Jeongguk asks as he diverts his attention back to the plant, fingers brushing across the soft surface of the leaves.
"You're talking more often." Taehyung replies, his own gaze shifting back to the birds perched on the branch on top of them, frowning as he tries to comprehend what the ruckus is all about. "It feels nicer now that you're talking often."
"I thought you were cool with me just listening to you." Jeongguk points out.
"I am, but I like hearing you talk sometimes for a change. Your voice is nice to listen to."
Jeongguk feels his heart do a somersault in his chest and his cheeks heating up, so he opens his mouth, about to counter the older when suddenly Taehyung presses a finger against his lips, emitting a surprised gasp from him.
"Shh." Taehyung whispers, eyes dancing around nervously. Jeongguk stares at him, confused, when the older grabs his wrists and pulls them both to dive behind a huge lump of untamed bushes.
Then he hears the sound of leaves crunching as footsteps can be heard approaching them.
It should not scare Jeongguk, because it may be one of the other boys, but there is something a tad different about these footsteps. They are too heavy, too harsh against the dried up leaves that laid on the forest floors, so unlike the light footsteps of those he is familiar with, as though they are dancing with the life of the woods.
These footsteps sound like they're about to burn the woods down.
“Captain Hook,” He hears Taehyung whisper into his ear, a look of alarm flashing in his wide brown eyes.
Jeongguk shoots the other a look of disbelief. Sure, he enjoys living here in this so-called Neverland and he understands why Taehyung would be given the nickname of 'Peter Pan', but for Captain Hook to exist? Jeongguk isn't sure if he can do so much believing in fairy tales.
"You don't believe me, do you." Taehyung says with a pout. There is a hint of playfulness in his eyes as he smiles, his hand reaching out for a box of matchsticks that he had found during their previous food-hunting sessions. "It's alright, you'll see for yourself."
Jeongguk watches Taehyung as the older slides open the box to bring out a match before lighting it up by grazing it across the side of the box, the small flame nearly making Jeongguk jump backwards in surprise. His heart is racing a little at the sight of the fire, but Taehyung's worried expression calms his nerves instantly.
"I'm fine, I'm fine, just a bit surprised." He reassures the other before the question comes.
Taehyung nods then, picking up one of the mushrooms from their little rattan basket before placing it close to the flame on the matchstick. Jeongguk notices how close the footsteps sound now.
"What are you planning to do?" He whispers to Taehyung.
The older just grins, eyes shaping into crescents and crinkling at the edges, making Jeongguk shrug in return. He has gotten used to Taehyung's antics, and this one is no different. He turns around to the direction of the sound of the approaching footsteps, only to not expect the sight of a handsome-looking and well-dressed man marching towards them when his eyes peek through the leaves of the bush.
The man, which Jeongguk assumes to be the one Taehyung refers to as Captain Hook, has deep blue eyes and long dark curls that reminds Jeongguk of the darkness of a black night sky devoid of stars. His eyebrows are thick and bushy, and his lips are curled upwards to form a sneer that is barely covered by his long mustache. A hook is fixed on his right hand and his eyes hold a bloodthirsty look in them, leaving Jeongguk to shudder at the sight of the man.
"Alright." He hears Taehyung say from his side, and turns his head to see a mushroom being set ablaze in Taehyung's hand. Jeongguk swallows, but Taehyung does not notice it as he continues, "Now all we gotta do is.. Wait."
The younger watches in slight terror as Captain Hook approaches them with every deadly footstep he sends towards the poor leaves on the ground, his eyes shifting nervously between the sinister-looking man and the excited-looking Taehyung. Whatever the plan is, all Jeongguk prays for is that they make it out alive.
Jeongguk is in the middle of trying to curl up into a ball as a poor attempt to hide when Taehyung just stands up from his previous crouching position, making Jeongguk yelp in surprise and Captain Hook yell "Aha!", before Jeongguk sees a burning mushroom flying in the air and towards the beehive he had noticed earlier.
He wants to scream bloody murder, but Taehyung is faster than him, whistling loudly with both his pinkies pressed together and forming a 'V' shape placed under his tongue, and Jeongguk feels himself being tugged onto his feet while running the opposite direction from where Captain Hook is now screaming in horror as well as a "NOT TODAY, SPAWN OF SATAN!"
Jeongguk dares to chance a glance at the man, and he is not regretful about his decision.
Bees are swarming around the man and most probably stinging him from the way Jeongguk see the main flinching and trying to whisk away the insects with his bee-filled arms while cursing strings of insults loudly. Animals had gathered around the man with a not-so-friendly atmosphere and Jeongguk is impressed. He watches with a huge grin spreading across his face as birds peck at the man's head and squirrels throw acorns at his abdomen, emitting cries of pain. He laughes breathlessly when a raven swoops down low enough to pick the man's grand-looking hat with its beak before making a swift escape, leaving the man looking much more flustered than before.
Taehyung bursts into a fit of giggles as he himself enjoys the sight of the main being physically tortured by the animals of the woods, taking a deep breath before yelling out, "Looks like the 'spawn of Satan' lives for another day, Captain!", and they both throw their heads back to laugh aloud until they run out of breath with their fingers intertwined together as they continue to run back to the safety of their home, mushrooms and plants long forgotten.
He sprinkled me in pixie dust and told me to believe,
Believe in him and believe in me,
Together we will fly away in a cloud of green,
To your beautiful destiny.
Jeongguk does not realize that he has been living with Taehyung and the others for a year now.
He is sitting on top of a thick and large branch of the tree that sprouts out from the roof of the cabin, enjoying the breathtaking view of the orange-tinted skies that are bathing the endless rows of trees in warm light, announcing the starting of a new day.
He hears the sound of leaves rustling and footsteps, followed by a presence sitting down beside him, and Jeongguk does not need to turn around to know that it's Taehyung.
“Good morning.” He greets, eyes still trained on the sunrise.
"Good morning, Kookie." Taehyung responds with a bright smile, his hand pulling Jeongguk closer to him as he swings an arm around the younger's now broad shoulders, mostly out of habit. Jeongguk rests his head into the crook of Taehyung's neck, despite him being the bigger one in size now, before closing his eyes and relishing the moment. He had always enjoyed moments like this the most.
"Why did you call me to meet you out here today?" Taehyung asks after a beat of silence, his fingers drawing soothing circles on Jeongguk's toned arm. The younger just curls into Taehyung's chest more.
"I have a confession to make." Jeongguk states, his voice timid and hushed. Taehyung lets out a hum of acknowledgment.
"I'm listening." Taehyung says, leaning his head against Jeongguk's.
"I think-" Jeongguk stutters, then buries his face deeper into Taehyung's chest and breathes in the scent of him, his own facing turning crimson red as the blush creeps up all the way to his ears. He sighs.
"Your face is burning up, Kookie." Taehyung points out, poking the younger in the cheek with a finger gently. "We can have this conversation inside, no one is awake yet."
Though before Taehyung can even make a move to stand after unwrapping his arms around Jeongguk, the younger pulls Taehyung's shirt roughly and mesh their lips together into an awkward kiss, making Taehyung's eyes widen in surprise.
When they break the kiss off with a slight pop, Jeongguk feels as though his entire face is on fire, and Taehyung is just staring at Jeongguk with eyes so wide that they look as though they're about to pop out from their sockets. Thoroughly embarrassed at this point, Jeongguk buries his face into the palms of his hands as he finishes his confession from where he left it earlier.
“I’m in love with you, Tae.”
The both of them didn't move, mostly because Taehyung is so surprised by the sudden string of unexpected events and Jeongguk because he thinks that he has screwed up big time, burying his face into the palms of his hands. After a long stretch of deafening silence and still moments, Jeongguk peeks through the gaps of his fingers to look at Taehyung, only to find the older sniffling and hiccuping with tears streaming down his face. Jeongguk's hands fall from his face at the sight.
“Tae-” He begins.
"You have no idea how long I've waited for you to say that, Kookie." Taehyung practically wailts as he frantically tries to wipe the tears away with the back of his hands, and Jeongguk feels his heart squeeze painfully at the sight of Taehyung crying. He pries Taehyung's hands away from his face to hold them gently in his own, before placing them on his lap and bringing his own hands to wipe the tears away. Jeongguk leans in to place a kiss on the tip of Taehyung's nose before wrapping his arms protectively around the man before him, pulling Taehyung into a tight embrace.
"I've wanted to do this for so long." Jeongguk mumbles absentmindedly as his hand strokes the soft strands of Taehyung's hair.
"Idiot," Taehyung mutters in response, his shoulders shaking against Jeongguk's chest as he laughs. "Idiots, the both of us."
Jeongguk laughs along with him.
"I'm in love with you too, Jeongguk." He hears Taehyung whisper softly in the midst of his sobbing. So he tightens his hold around the other as he appreciates the moment they are sharing in comfortable silence.
Maybe life isn't as bad as he thought it was after all. Because now he knows that he can believe in Taehyung to catch him whenever he falls, and so can Taehyung.
As we soared above the town that never loved me,
I realized I finally had a family,
Soon enough we reached Neverland,
Peacefully my feet hit the sand and ever since that day...
After yet another year of spending his time with the five close friends he had made and the love of his life that he found during his stay in Neverland, Jeongguk finally dreams about his old family and old hometown.
His affected mood did not go unnoticed by everyone else.
"What's wrong?" Taehyung is the first to ask when everyone is seated together by the dining table, feasting on the nuts and fruits that they had gathered during yesterday's food hunt, with worry dripping out from every word.
Jeongguk tells them about the dream, the horror of the incident that had been haunting him before he arrived here, and the events that followed after it. He did not leave a single detail out.
"Truth to be told, I still have no idea how I ended up here." He adds bitterly, leaning into Taehyung's touch as he is being pressed against the other's chest. "I only remember sleeping in the burnt building that used to be my home. Next thing I knew, I woke up and Taehyung is just there."
"Do you want to know?" Seokjin asks from his side, voice gentle.
"I didn't at first, because I never thought about it. The dream had brought up my forgotten curiosity." Jeongguk replies, eyes downcast as he stares at the wooden flooring that he had gotten used to over the years.
Nobody says anything for a while, until Taehyung lets out a soft hum. "Then, shall we go visiting?"
Jeongguk looks up at this, eyes full of curiosity and wonder. "How? Do you even know where I used to live?"
Taehyung laughs at this. "Jeongguk, do you remember what I told you when we first met?"
The younger frowns, eyebrows knitted together in deep thought. "Not really?"
"I told you how I used to go by another name."
Jeongguk's frown deepens, before realization dawns upon him and his eyes widen. "Peter Pan."
Taehyung's eyes turn into crescents as he beams down at Jeongguk. "Yes, but we'll have to wait until night time before the magic works its wonders."
So at night, with rays of moonlight shining down at them and gleaming across the riding ocean waves, the seven of them gather together at the beach where they usually play at together. Taehyung holds out his hand and Jeongguk laces their fingers together immediately, making the other grin. Everyone else follows the movement, holding hands and forming a circle in the beach, before Taehyung momentarily lets go of Jeongguk's hand to reach out for a small glass jar of what seems like glitter from his side.
"What's that?" Jeongguk asks, eyes wide and curious.
"I like to call it pixie dust." Taehyung replies, lips curling up into a smile at Jeongguk's signature look of disbelief. "Don't look so doubtful. You'll see why I gave it such a magical name."
Taehyung opens the lid of the jar and places his hand inside to grab a pinch of the shining power, before putting his hand above Jeongguk's head and sprinkling it gently. The gold of the pixie dust glints when moonlight touches it and Jeongguk watches in amazement as the glitter rains down onto him.
"Where did you get this from?" Jeongguk asks, studying the gold sparkles that had settled onto the back of his hands.
"A little girl called Tinkerbell gave it to me, before she flew off. I've never seen her since then." is all Taehyung replies, laughing at the look Jeongguk gives him.
What Jeongguk isn't prepared for is when he feels himself being lifted of the ground, the pixie dust floating around his legs, with his hand still holding onto Yoongi's who had been standing beside him the entire time.
So he lets out a squeal - an actual high-pitched, frightened squeal - as he feels himself floating into the air and away from the beach. The others, including Taehyung, are cheering and laughing at Jeongguk's completely terrified face as he continues to float away. Taehyung reaches out his hand when his own feet lifts off the ground, the rest of the group being dragged along as they joined their hands together, and Jeongguk hurries to take Taehyung's hand into his own again.
Jeongguk feels his fears melt away into excitement when Taehyung offers him a reassuring smile, and the pixie dust guides them as they float towards the moon. The ocean breeze is refreshing with every inhale Jeongguk takes, and his heart is racing at how much closer the sky is to him at the moment, his eyes trailing after the path of stars that seem to be winking at him. He laughs.
He laughs not just at how amazing he feels, but because out of everything Jeongguk can imagine himself doing, flying in mid air in the middle of a cold, frosty night with the stars gazing down at seven people who had their hands linked together is definitely not one of them. It is all too bizarre for Jeongguk to digest the reality of it.
He enjoys the scenery as they float past islands, pirate ships, towns and cities, his newly formed family chattering loudly as usual while laughing away, fooling around even in the air and continuously teasing Jeongguk about his earlier reaction to flying, and the youngest feels all of his earlier doubts and anxiety ebb away, replaced by the feeling of happiness bubbling in his chest along with a sense of belonging.
He realizes that he isn’t afraid of the truth any longer.
At first, when he had the dream, Jeongguk was afraid. He had been afraid that something will change after that. So when Taehyung had offered to them to visit his hometown, Jeongguk honestly wanted to reject the idea. He didn't want anything to change; his new home, his new family. He wanted everything to just remain the way it is and pretend that the dream never appeared, and his curiosity had never resurfaced. He had been afraid that the truth might crush everything that Jeongguk had managed to build for himself again.
When Jeongguk feels his hand being squeezed, he turns his head to see Taehyung looking at him with a look of fondness, and Jeongguk smiles.
What a fool for thinking things would change, he thinks to himself.
They soar past a few more islands and ships before Jeongguk can see the familiar outline of his hometown, and he draws in a sharp breath. "That's it."
Taehyung nods at this, before speeding up a little and bringing them to land safely at a playground that Jeongguk painfully recognizes as the one he would play in as a kid. His uncovered feet sinks into the mushy soil and he realizes with a large intake of breath that it had just rained. Yoongi looks around curiously while Namjoon whistles at the sight of the city lights and the sound of cars honking at each other on the streets, accustoming themselves to the garden of concrete that practically screams a bustling city life, a complete opposite of where the seven of them had been living in the peaceful forests with animals and wild life.
"So this is where you lived." He hears Hoseok gush as the older boy twirls around, eyes reflecting the lights of the lamp posts situated around them. "It's really pretty."
"It is," Jeongguk admits after having a good look at his surroundings. His hands are still holding Taehyung's, so he could feel the other giving another squeeze. He closes his eyes.
“I’d like to visit my uncle, before going over to my old house.”
It is then decided that Jeongguk will be given his privacy to walk alone with Taehyung to his old house after they have made a stop to his uncles', and Jeongguk is grateful for the suggestion. They trot down the streets where cars are zooming past them every second, his brothers offhandedly commenting about the city and people that pass by do not spare them a glance, eyes cast downwards to stare at their phone screens. This reminds Jeongguk of his old phone that was smashed into smithereens by a baseball bat right in front of him. He shakes away the memory.
They pass by endless rows of shop lots, bus stops and neighborhoods before Jeongguk halts in front of a double-story house that is painted a light wash of blue. Jeongguk feels his pulse slow as he takes in the familiar sight of his uncles' house; the unkempt lawn full of untamed growth and the familiar porch where two old-looking rattan chars are situated in front of a square window. He takes a deep breath before he opens the gate door that he remembers to always be left unlocked, smiles a little at the memory, and makes his way to the door, with the rest of the group trailing after him in tow.
He knocks against the door; three times, loud and clear.
There is the sound of feet shuffling, followed by a sharp click as the door cracks open, revealing a middle-aged woman with dark brown curls tied up into a short ponytail while wearing an apron on top of her pink dress. Her eyes are wide with what seems like disbelief and her breaths are coming out in short and harsh pants.
"Jeongguk?" He realizes that it is his aunt, and he smiles warmly at her. She looks thinner and a lot more fragile than how he remembers her to be, and feels guilt swirl up in his chest at the thought of how he might be the cause of his aunt's current condition.
“Yeah, Aunt Jan-”
"Whaaaaaaat are ye' talking about, Janeeet." He hears a deep gruff voice resound from behind his aunt. The door is being swung open with far too much strength, making it slam loudly against the wall inside the house and his aunt yelping at the sound, her eyes wide and frightened. A drunken man comes into Jeongguk's view, a glass bottle that Jeongguk recognizes to be beer in his right hand. His words are slurred together as he says, "'You needa 'top answering th' door 'like that or you're gonna scare the g-guests awaaay."
"But uncle, I'm right here-" Jeongguk tries to interject.
"I'm sorry," Janet whispers, burying her face into her hands. "I still- I still can't get over it."
Can’t get over what?, is what Jeongguk wants to ask, but he watches in terror as his uncle seems to sober up quickly, his back straightening up and his previously drunk face contorting into one of anger, his nostrils flaring and cheeks turning red and angry. The beer bottle is smashed into tiny bits as Jeongguk's uncle slams it down onto the floor, before stalking up to Janet and clasp both his hands on her shoulders.
"Then get the fuck over it, Janet! He's gone! He can never come back!" He is yelling at the top of his lungs now, his big and calloused hands shaking his wife roughly, and she wails in fright with her hands pressed over her ears, shaking her head fervently at every word he spits out. "He fucking got shot in the head by some guy who we still can't get traces on while he was sleeping in that cursed building that one night! He's been gone ever since then, Janet! Get over it already!"
Jeongguk feels his blood run cold.
“Uncle, what are you talking about-” he finds himself saying, his voice wobbly and unsure, until he feels his right wrist being pulled and he is running now, away from the house and away from the shrill screams that leaves his aunt's mouth, Taehyung's back facing him as they just continue on running into the night, the rest of the group in tow, with no fixed destination in mind.
They stop running when Taehyung stops in his tracks in the middle of a grassy field, before he kneels down onto the ground and breathes in harshly. The other boys are also panting, breaths coming out rapidly in short gasps, before they start to tumble down one by one with their backs against the dewy grass. Jeongguk follows suite, dropping his back onto the grass as he greedily sucks in the fresh air while squeezing his eyes shut, mind going completely blank.
“Shit.” He hears Yoongi mutter from beside him after they had a moment to catch their breaths, and Jeongguk sits up.
Jeongguk wants to ask them about the entire exchange, until he realizes that everyone has either a terrified or shocked expression worn on their faces. All except one, which is blank and solemn.
“Tae?” he asks, his voice small and brittle even to his own ears.
Taehyung just shakes his head, his eyes holding a look of defeat; a look that Jeongguk has never seen on the older before. He feels tears prickling at the corners of this eyes.
"What exactly happened to me?" He asks again, but this time the question isn't directed at anyone.
"We don't know, Jeongguk." Seokjin replies, sitting up as well to place a comforting hand on Jeongguk's shoulder as the younger begins to sniffle. He is putting up his best smile which he hopes is reassuring. "We've never tried visiting our old hometowns and families like you did. This is our first time seeing such an exchange too."
Jeongguk starts to cry at this, his sobs coming out choked and strangled as the reality of everything sinks into his mind slowly. He hugs his knees closer to himself, burying his face into them. Now everything starts to make sense to him- Neverland, Taehyung, Captain Hook, pixie dust, flying abilities, magic. Everything falls perfectly into place like puzzle pieces.
Taehyung makes a move to stand up before walking up to the younger as he drops onto his knees to wrap his arms around the boy, squeezing him tightly as he envelopes the younger into a bone-breaking embrace. He nuzzles the boy's head before he presses their foreheads together and takes a deep breath, willing every fiber of his being to hold back his own tears, and starts to draw soothing circles on the small of Jeongguk's back.
"Do you still want to visit you old house?" The older asks, voice hushed and soft as though he is speaking to a frightened 5-year-old who just got separated from his parents.
Jeongguk shakes his head fervently.
He doesn't need another indication to prove the reality of the situation that he had struggled to understand.
"Okay." Taehyung says as he presses feather-light kisses on Jeongguk's hair, just slightly above the shell of his ear, his arms still wrapped protectively around the younger.
It takes Jeongguk approximately 10 minutes of crying and sniffling before his breathing regulates back to normal, his eyes now red and puffy from his sudden display of extreme waterworks. He takes a long deep breath before he announces that he wants to return to Neverland, not wanting to spend another moment in this place.
His older brothers smile at this. Jimin reaches out a hand to ruffle Jeongguk's hair as he speaks with a gentle tone, "Yeah. Lets go back home, where we all belong."
It takes all of Jeongguk not to cry again, this time not out of sadness.
Run, run, lost boy, they say to me.
Away from all of reality,
Neverland is home to lost boys like me,
And lost boys like me are free.
Jeongguk and Taehyung are sitting on the same branch they sat together two years ago, where Jeongguk had apparently stolen Taehyung's first kiss in pleasant surprise. The memory still makes Jeongguk turn beet red and blush to the tip of his ears, which Taehyung finds to be completely adorable.
Their hands are linked together, eyes watching the sunlight peek through the horizon, marking the beginning of yet another day.
"You said you lived here all your life," Jeongguk starts, turning his head to look at the other.
Taehyung lets out a hum. “Yes, I believe I did.”
“Do you remember your parents, then?”
Taehyung smiles at this, but it is bitter and sad. "No, I don't."
Jeongguk squeezes his hand, before leaning in to press a chaste kiss on Taehyung's lips. The smile widens against Jeongguk's lips and the other kisses back, tipping his chin a little to deepen the kiss. It is a small gesture of comfort, and Taehyung makes sure that the other is aware of how grateful he is for it.
They stare into each others' eyes as their lips parted, breaths coming in soft pants. Taehyung's eyes curve up to form half-moons, revealing the rectangular-shaped smile that Jeongguk had fallen in love with. Thus it leads to the younger placing another kiss to the tip of Taehyung's nose, before resting his head against the others' chest, content as he listens to the sound of Taehyung's steady heartbeat and feels the rise and fall of the his chest.
"Are you still bothered by the events of that day?" Taehyung asks. Jeongguk does not require further explanation to know which day Taehyung is indicating.
"I'm not bothered," Jeongguk replies. "I'm just curious about the origin of this place, and you."
Taehyung hums thoughtfully. "Well, if it helps, I have no clue who my parents are, or how I ended up here. But I do remember growing up here, being taken care of by the animals that live here, thus my ability to understand every living creature we come across. And one day, while I watched the birds soar through the sky, I realized that I could do it too. Although I had fallen from the branch on more than one occasion."
Jeongguk laughs. He can imagine the experience vividly.
"Who is the first human friend you made, though?" Jeongguk asks, eyes fluttering shut to the soothing sound of Taehyung's steady heartbeat.
"The toughest nut to crack that exists in the world." Taehyung responds, a cheeky smile lighting up his features. "Yoongi hyung was the worst. It took me so much blood, sweat and tears to even try to break down the walls he built. But hey, the end result is worth it. Look at how much of a sap he is when it comes to Chimchim."
Jeongguk laughs again, sighing in content when he feels long fingers treading through his hair gently. "I suppose so."
"I do have a theory, though." Taehyung says. Jeongguk just hums as an indication for Taehyung to go on.
"Like, maybe, you guys have been treated badly and had, um, passed away with a lot of regrets and loneliness. So you guys were sent here to meet me, a lonely boy in a deserted island who doesn't even know how he came about, as though you guys are given a second chance to live but in a different environment and with different people. Like life's trying to own up for it's bad service or something. I don't know. It just makes a lot of sense to me."
The younger dissolves into a fit of giggles at this, disbelief evident in his voice. "Everything in the world makes sense to you Tae, no matter how absurd it actually is."
Taehyung says nothing to deny it, instead, he opts to huff a laugh and playfully slap Jeongguk on the shoulder, making Jeongguk feign yet another mock expression of hurt.
"Does it matter, though?" Taehyung mutters softly under his breath, probably whispering to himself. But Jeongguk hears it anyway.
Jeongguk gives Taehyung's hand a light squeeze, before he unlaces their fingers together to play with Taehyung's long and slender fingers. "No, it doesn't. I'm still grateful about the fact that I was sent here to this place to meet everyone." He brings Taehyung's hands to his lips, placing a kiss on the back of his hand, pink tinting his cheeks as he musters his courage to speak with an unwavering voice, "Especially you. You're still the most amazing thing that has happened to me."
He feels a pair of lips being pressed into his hair, and the corners of his mouth twitch up into a smile.
"Yeah," he hears Taehyung whisper, their heads pressed together. "I'm eternally grateful that you were sent here to meet me on that day."
Jeongguk couldn't agree more, and he knows that he doesn't need to respond to ensure that Taehyung is aware of it. He just intertwines their fingers together again, letting comfortable silence settle between them as they watched the sun rise from the horizon, feeling content and right at home.
Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling,
Even Captain Hook, you are my perfect story book.
Neverland I love you so, you are now my home sweet home,
Forever a lost boy at last... And for always I will sing.