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His arms lift, bent at the elbows to block his face from the incoming storms. That's the thing about storms, they're hard and fast- blinding even. More often than not, you don’t realise one's brewing until the final moments and then it slaps the wind out of you and leaves a path of destruction in it’s wake. He thinks that maybe this isn’t just a storm full of rain and lightning, perhaps this storm's something else- it's like a hurricane, devouring and spitting while targeting places aimlessly.

The storm doesn’t land where he assumes it to, instead it’s a spark against his stomach- a good hard shove against soft tissue that he can feel, and it terrifies him because in his head he can only imagine organs rupturing and disassembling- so he cries out for mercy, for strength. He cries for anything out there in the universe to help him. 

He cries for everything to end quickly.

Jeon Jungkook knows he's not strong. He’s never been the type to hold in pain without making a face or fight back without hesitating or spit at someone coming at him viciously without being trapped in the clutches of intense guilt. He's always been the boy that endures, who closes his eyes and tells himself that it's going to be okay just as there's an eruption of white-hot agony somewhere along his tattered body.

You'll survive.

He doesn’t think he can, but he focuses on the world around him, at the vicious barking and searches for a softer, more shattered piece of music. He hears the quiet hum of a broken sob and he knows he has to endure. He can’t fight, he'll lose anyway, so all he can do is absorb the blows and hopefully everything would be alright.

Jungkook pushes himself off the ground, twisting as quickly as he can, but he’s not in the best of shape (all torn skin and bruised parts) so by the time his suffering body can complete half a turn, his wrist is caught in the clutches of cruelty. His eyes widen with terror, because cruelty’s fingers are not kind.

They're calloused, thick and grips his smaller wrist with enough force to crush bones into powder. His mouth opens, a plea stuck between his teeth. His eyes are desperate, searching for hope and salvation- searching for someone.

His wrist is yanked downwards and there’s a sharp crack that fills the static air of the room and he lets out a bloodcurdling scream that's so loud the walls shake and it echoes back into his ears. His vision blurs with the affliction, burns with the tears filling his eyes and his head spins like an uncontrollable child's top. It's so bad, the pain is so blinding and loud just like the shouting, it's so unbearable that his knees buckle and he collapses, screaming and clutching at his shoulder. He’s screaming and screaming and screaming because there's nothing he can do to try and release the pain. They say venting out eases it, but it's doing very little. He screams and screams, tasting blood on his tongue but doesn’t stop.

He can’t stop because his body's convulsing in pain and he can’t see through the tears.

He tries to listen again, tries to hear for his mother but he can’t. He can’t hear over the ringing in his ears.

And then comes another foot, right at the broken spot. He laughs this time, a manic hysterical bubble of laughter that erupts from his throat because what’s not broken anymore?

Everyone in this goddamn family is broken in places you can’t fix.

Jeon Jungkook is all sorts of broken and yet he pushes on. Pushes when his lips are parted and he's half-yelling for help, half-laughing at his helplessness. No one's going to come at this time of the night, no one's going to peek into their household and call for help. Hell, if he was hearing some fucker get the shit beaten out of him he wouldn’t try and help either. Humans are selfish creatures and they look out for their own. That's completely understandable.

Jungkook understands why it’s alright that no one's helping them, but with empathising with others it just digs a deeper hole of despair for him. No one's going to help so he's going to have to endure this for longer.

Glass shatters against his head and he feels the ripping of his skin and the warmth of blood dripping down his neck. At least something's warm.

"You're so weak!" comes the roar of the man he loves with all his heart, Jungkook's face contorts with a different kind of agony.

His broken heart trembles in his chest.

"You're so weak! You're so weak! You're so weak!" he thunders, over and over and over again until it's like a nail being hammered into Jungkook's head. He nearly opens his mouth to say, "Yes I am."

But he's being crushed, a foot against soft tissue. It hurts all over but the worst kind of pain is the one you can’t see, the type that's caught between your heartstrings and with every beat of the heart it feels like a slice of a knife.

It's a storm, Jungkook thinks when he's being dragged up and a fist slams against his eyes, his cheeks, his jaw, his teeth. He understands why storms are named after people now.

But just as a storm comes it has to go.

He doesn’t know why he can’t stop laughing. He can’t stop when his eyes are so swollen they’re nearly shut and he can’t stop when his mouth fills with blood. He can’t stop because he’s so fucking pathetic. 

What kind of person allows himself to get beaten up over and over again and still doesn’t do anything?

His laughing just angers his father and so the hits get harder, sharper, more blinding. He just curls his good hand into a fist, feeling the sting of his nails against his palms and breathes out raggedly through his mouth.

Endure it.

He’s wheezing, feeling the impact of his drunken father's fists and words against him. He feels himself break more and more. Jungkook can hear his mother helplessly calling out for her husband to stop, can hear her scream, "Run! Jungkook, run!"

But he can’t. He can’t fight back because he loves his father so much. It only hurts because he loves him with all his heart and he can’t find it in himself to push at the man.

Not when Jungkook closes his eyes and sees the smiling image of his father, sees him reflect the exact same smile he has on his lips. Jeon Jungkook can’t do this, he can’t.

He can’t when his father's just controlled by alcohol.

He's not a bad person, Jungkook tells himself, he's seriously not a bad person.

It's between these thoughts and the thunder of his own heartbeat in his ears that he hears a violent shriek, hears his mother shoot out from where she'd been laying. Her leg's busted and weak, and she's so frail and small between the two men.

She’s weak but she grabs at her husbands collar, yanking it back with eyes so wide and marked with an animalistic gleam that Jungkook can only stare. He's heard what torture can do to a person, has heard of the marvellous effects of adrenaline in a person's system.

But he's never seen it with his own two eyes.

His mother drags her flailing father back, throws him against the ground and then does the one thing that stops Jungkook from breathing entirely.

She picks up his beer bottle and then slams it against his head. There's a shout and a tinkle of broken glass before everything goes statically silent. It's so quiet Jungkook can hear ragged breathing, the beats alternating between his mother's and his. 

His father's motionless on the ground and for one moment his heart stutters with the possibility that his mother might have killed him. He brings his horrified gaze to his mother whose raven hair’s falling all around her face, her eyes rimmed with red and bagged heavily. Her body moves with each hard pant and there's blood dripping from cuts on her face and from her nose. Yet she stands there, her feet apart and her shaking fingers curled strongly against the glass bottle of alcohol and he thinks she’s the most beautiful and the most majestic thing he’s ever seen. 

He starts to cry, starts to cry because the hitting may have stopped today but it’s going to start again tomorrow and it's going to carry on until one of them dies. 

Endure it.

"Eomma," he calls out, flinching when his mother's shoulders stiffen and she turns to him with panic on her beautiful face, "Eomma, eomma, eomma." he doesn’t know what to say through the tears, he doesn’t know what to do.

Tonight's been one of the badder nights and he just wants to crawl into bed and sleep it off but he knows that sleeping it off won’t change anything. Tomorrow he'll wake up to his mother screaming from nightmares and he’ll have to hold her until she's asleep in his arms again. Tomorrow he'll have to face the repercussions.

"Run." is all she says, her voice just a feather of a whisper and then her eyes meet his- big and dark and filled with all the certainty in the universe. Their lives have always been filled with what ifs and I don’t knows but tonight's the first time he's seen his mother look at him with purpose.

And then she screams like a thousand diamonds reflected, screams with such clarity it rings through him.

"RUN!" and he's off, his bare feet slapping against the floor and he stumbles out of the house and into the cold night. He's going on, not stopping. 

Endure it.

His busted arm’s flinging limply and it’s burning with agony so he has to hold it down with his hand but he’s also screaming into the night, calling out “Help us! Help us!" but there's no one, just a long stretch of road and grass on his left. He wants to throw himself into the field, to run to the riverbank and cry. But he can’t, he can’t because he's just running and it feels so good to run. There's fire in his chest and his throat. Parts of his body feels like chunks of flesh had been ripped out but he carries on, his feet tearing against the hard gravel of the road.

And then there's a sudden flash of light, an incoming car. He's too disoriented, and the lights are sudden. He thinks of an angel, thinks of salvation the exact moment he comes in contact with the hood. 

He thinks of angels as he's flung over the roof of the car, thinks of his mother as he lands, shattered and exhausted behind the car. The night's cold and quiet, the night's beautiful.

He can hear frogs and insects, he thinks back to when he was younger, when he used to go into the tall grass and pick up frogs before comparing them with Jimin. He thinks of Jimin and of his sweet smile.

He's seen Jimin cry enough times over the abuse, so he pulls him out of his thoughts and pictures his mother's face. Pictures the kind slant of her eyes, her lips coloured pink on his graduation day. He pictures her pulling her raven hair back into a bun every morning before starting the day.

He allows himself to drift, his mind and body teasing it's way in and out of consciousness. His body goes lax against the gravel and soon he can’t lift himself even if he wanted to try. His lid's come down then go back up, each time getting slower and heavier than the first. He smiles against the night, tries to curse at whatever god's up there doing such a shit job but can’t find it in himself. He can hear shouting, someone talking furiously over the phone saying something about an accident.

There are footsteps, furious and panicky ones and someone- a woman- calling out, "Excuse me? Excuse me?"

He's still smiling- smiling is all he knows to do other than enduring- into the sky, into the fading image of his mother's face.

Just as his lids are about to close for good, he catches a face. Wide and dark eyes, full of panic and brown hair parted a little to the side but still hanging over his forehead. He catches a small beauty mark on the tip of his nose and another on the top of his lip.

He thinks they're pretty.

The boy clutches on to his shoulders shouting, "Wake up! Please wake up!"

It's the last thing Jeon Jungkook hears before he lets go.

-----

Chapter Text

"Ah, ah, ahhhh!" Min Yoongi exclaims in the most unattractive way possible, throwing his arms up into the air the moment he walks into the ward. His eyes had caught on to the one patient he deems the world's biggest black-headed idiot and then gives up on his life entirely and storms out of the ward.

He didn’t spend half his life sitting through boring assed lectures in medical school and then spend the other goddamn half paying off his enormous sum of tuition fees to see complete donkey assholes like Jeon Jungkook wander into the ER time and time again looking like bigfoot ate him and then shat him out. He doesn’t have the time to sit by his side and look over broken bones and failing organs because an idiot didn’t have the goddamn guts to take his ass and run when his fucktard of a drunken father felt that the best way of communicating with his son and wife was through his fists.

"Come on," Hoseok, his handy sprite-like intern says with a downturn of his lips, "You're his doctor."

"Nope, not today." Yoongi says quicker than lightning, his lips popping the p with determination, "Call Dr Kim or something I'm out of this."

He expects Hoseok to retort or pout at him but the taller intern just leans in and goes, "Uh... which Dr Kim? Kim Seokjin... or Kim Namjoon?" 

Yoongi's at a loss for words, mainly because Jung Hoseok's some sort of pure spirit and it's annoying how he can ask stupid questions and look at Yoongi with such dark and earnest eyes.

Does he even know how ridiculous he sounds? No, wait. Does he even know how disgustingly cheerful he is? This is a goddamn hospital, you don’t come to work looking like you can’t wait to see sick patients!

Yoongi lifts his clipboard, smacking it against the younger boy's head. Hoseok shrieks and touches the spot only to have Yoongi glare at him with half lidded eyes and say, "That doesn’t even hurt." like he's talking about what he'd just bought for lunch (a chicken sandwich, yes, boring).

Hoseok scrunches up his nose and looks away, "Either way, you'll still have to go in and check up on him."

Yoongi rolls his eyes, walking past Hoseok and then looking through the clipboard for details. The poor kid's got a ruptured lung, several broken bones including a badly dislocated shoulder and many badly bruised internal organs. Other than appearing to look like absolute shit, Yoongi's not sure what his mental state's like. This isn’t  the first time he’s seen Jeon Jungkook coming into the ER, being dragged in by his best friend screaming for help, but this is also one of the badder times where the kid couldn't even wake up.

The raven haired boy had spent the past four hours in critical care and then the next ten lying unconscious on a hospital bed. Yoongi would applaud his bravery for pulling through but he can’t seem to understand why anyone would even want to stay in a household like his where you’d go home praying for your father not to be there.

Goddamn it, that stupid Hippocratic Oath's flashing before his eyes (it's truly the most horrifying thing he's done, to swear on to something so as not to break it. Yoongi's never been one for long-term commitment but he'd said that oath with enough gusto when he'd finally graduated) and he can’t just turn away from his moral sense of duty.

In short, he's got a soft-spot for the kid. 

Tell no one.

"I already am, horseface." Yoongi rolls his eyes, turning on his heel and then walking into the ward without stopping to see the intern’s reaction. After all, Hoseok might be cute and all, but he’s still the junior and Yoongi enjoys the superiority he feels when he has to boss the intern around.

Yoongi is also insanely proud of his job. If he hadn’t, he'd probably just chuck all the work to someone else. This hospital's got tons of doctors and nurses after all, he could have easily walked away. Truth is, he'd studied his ass off in college for a fucking medical degree and obviously it wasn’t just so he could wipe his ass with it.

The kid's got his eyes open when Yoongi walks to his side, Hoseok quietly on tow, he's glaring, just like what he always does. Yoongi sometimes thinks that Jungkook doesn't have a soul at all. He's only seen him smile around his redhead friend, Jimin.

"You look like shit, Jesus fucking christ." Yoongi says almost immediately and then saunters over with one hand in his coat (he only does this to look cool) to check on Jungkook’s IV and vitals, "How do you feel?"

"Like shit." Jungkook replies in a curt voice like rocks against each other. His face is a masterpiece, Yoongi thinks, all purples and black and yellow with swollen lips and eyelids. That's the thing about day afters when getting yourself beat up- you always look worse the next day. It’s like evidence of the assault, always comes too late.

"Good that you know." Yoongi gives Hoseok a look before the intern fumbles with his clipboard. Yoongi reads out a bunch of things and Hoseok writes them down. They're a rhythm, Jungkook notes, one after another in perfect sync.

"Who brought me in?" Jungkook asks quietly, thinking back to those unfamiliar dark eyes he'd seen moment before his body had given way into darkness. He'd never seen them before, but they were so achingly familiar.

Jungkook thinks he'd almost seen himself in those eyes, had seen the wide veil of panic in the boy's gaze.

"Your boyfriend." Yoongi taunts and then with a small smile says, "Joking, your carrot-headed friend. Someone’s got to tell him that he looks like a horse puked all over his head after eating that nasty stuff.”

Jungkook chokes out a laugh and feels a scoring path of pain so he falls silent, bringing his gaze (okay he can only see through one eye, the other must be seriously swollen) to the hospital's white ceiling. He's not a hospital enthusiast, but he's been here so many times it's almost like his second home. Or maybe it should be his first, because people associate home with safety and his actual house is more of a danger zone than anything that can be remotely considered protective.

Jungkook feels safer in this hospital- hell he'd feel safer under a newbie doctor's knife- than his own house.

Dr Min's Jungkook's favourite doctor, mostly because he's sarcastic and biting and always says the weirdest insults. Everyone loves him since he literally takes no shit from anyone.

(There was this one time Jungkook watched him stab an erratic patient with a syringe without so much as batting an eyelash and then walking away like someone from a Bond movie).

Tell no one this, Jungkook likes to keep a blank face. He's emo as fuck.

"Where's he?" Jungkook asks, trying to push himself up. This is where Hoseok rushes in, grabbing on to the remote attached to the hospital bed and then pressing a few buttons to make the bed lift a little so Jungkook’s not in some awkward half-lying-half-sitting position. He thanks Hoseok quietly before the raven haired intern loudly goes, "Ah yeah! I'll go call him in!" before dashing out of the ward. Jungkook winces at the blaring boombox which is Jung Hoseok.

Jungkook catches Yoongi looking at Hoseok with his lips pressed in a thin line and his head slightly shaking.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Yoongi suddenly questions defensively. 

Jungkook's brow lifts and he shrugs his good shoulder.

“Don't shrug at me like that you mouldy cheesestick, I'll break every last bone you have."

Jungkook can’t help the laugh that coughs out of his throat after that.

"Oh my god you're alive!" Jimin exclaims, coming over to Jungkook's side with Hoseok on tow. His eyes wander over his best friend's body and then he lifts his hand and proceeds to flick at Jungkook's forehead.

"IF YOU FUCKING KNEW HE'D BE HOME WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE YOUR MOTHER AND RUN? ARE YOU AN IDIOT?"

He's got nothing to say to that and Hoseok takes a step back, his lips pressed together and his gaze dropping to his shoes. Yoongi slides away from his patient's side, literally slides away in his ugly green crocs to stand beside Hoseok.

"I'm sorry." is all Jungkook can mutter. He'd run, but he also wants to hold on to his father and shake him into being sober.

Jimin sighs and the heavy atmosphere in the room quickly disappears into something sadder, friendlier. Jungkook and Yoongi's used to this, used to feeling like there's so much they can do but can’t. The both of them are used to the constant Jungkook, get it into your head that you can’t save him.

Yoongi's said that before- in fact he'd said that while smacking the kid only to have him glare back at him with an annoyed "I'll try." He doesn’t know if the kid's going through teenage rebellion or he's just really distant from others, but whatever it is, it's not going to stop him from getting his ass kicked over and over and over again.

Trying isn’t good enough because trying is just a word and it doesn’t mean that there will be any action. I'll try to finish my homework, I'll try to do my chores, I'll try to study harder, I'll try to do this, I'll try to do that.

Yoongi doesn’t believe in the word 'try' he doesn’t think anyone who says it is serious about what they're attempting to accomplish anyway. Looking at Jungkook, at the way he's looking at the world with cold dark eyes, at the way he doesn’t open up or reach out when anyone's offering help. Yoongi will always remember the way he'd flinch when someone lifts their hands, just the slightest bit. He'll always remember Jungkook's first time at the hospital, at the way he'd refused to say anything until Jimin was brought in. 

Jeon Jungkook is damaged goods, as far as Yoongi can tell and the way he closes himself off from the rest of the world is a little troubling. But then again, it's also not his problem. He's just meant to fix up Jungkook as much as he can and then step away.

"Let's go." Yoongi nudges his junior, eyeing the curious way Hoseok's looking at Jimin and Jungkook throw their heads back and laugh like there's no troubles in the world and like one of them isn’t confined to a hospital bed with severe internal and external damage.

He's probably confused since Jungkook's mostly stone-faced and unsmiling.

Once out of the room, Hoseok clears his throat and then ruffles at his hair. Yoongi watches his long pale fingers disappear into the onyx wisps of his hair and then come back out, leaving his bangs messy and sticking out in random areas.

He doesn’t know why it annoys him, but he clicks his tongue and then smacks his clipboard against the intern's head, earning another shriek. Hoseok's two extreme points of a beam balance. He's either too quiet or too noisy.

But mostly noisy.

Everyone knows him as the eccentric intern, always screaming and shouting and jumping around. Yoongi thinks he's some sort of weird experiment by the government where they fused his DNA with a monkey's.

However, no matter how noisy and boisterous the idiot was, Yoongi always catches sight of adoration in the eyes of the patients Hoseok attends to. He's warm, Yoongi determines, warm and kind. He'll go far.

Yoongi can already sense what a great doctor this noisy airhead's going to be, but Yoongi's not the type to praise anyone so he chucks the clipboard at Hoseok and then says, "Go get me coffee you good for nothing duck penis."

Yoongi’s also been told that for a young doctor, he behaves like a grumpy grandfather.

The intern blinks at him, his lips cracking into the warmest smile Yoongi's seen on any doctor or intern (you see doctors and interns are overworked and overstressed so they depend on coffee for sustenance and always look like they’re about to piss on you anyway) and then goes, "Yes sir!" before dashing off.

Yoongi scratches the back of his head, confused and then goes, "He didn’t even ask me what type I wanted." before shrugging and walking off in the opposite direction.

-----

"Your idiocy's going to get you killed." Jimin says after their lengthy conversation on why the meat bought at the grocer is obviously some sort of goat-sheep hybrid and not regular meat solely because it tastes different every time. These are the kinds of conversations they usually have, stupid and completely out of this world but funny enough for them to at least chuckle. But it’s mostly Jimin saying stupid shit because he wants to see Jungkook smile since the younger boy rarely does so. His eyes are kind when he says this, glancing over Jungkook’s face. Ah.

It's one of the badder days for him, but definitely not one of the worst. Jimin doesn’t want to feel thankful for that (abuse is still abuse so no one can pardon that) but at least his best friend's alive and responsive so he’s willing to overlook his stupidity. 

Park Jimin’s been telling him for years to get out of that house, of course the chestnut haired moron wouldn’t listen, citing things like, "He's my father?" and "Where will I go to?"

Jimin's family's been waiting for the day they arrive at their doorstep because they've been willing for ions to accept Jungkook and his mother in. That's how friendship works, you love and care for each other.

"Death's not too bad." Jungkook says quietly, he's always quiet. Always looking into distances with detached eyes and doesn’t say much. Jimin's the chattier one of the duo which is why they balance out well.

"Asshole." Jimin chides, poking Junkook's forehead with a scowl, "It's getting late so I'm going to leave alright? If anything comes up I'm the guardian contact." he gets up, scraping the chair against the tiled floor and then gives Jungkook the lightest of pats, as though he’s not even touching him before turning around to leave. 

Jumgkook can only watch the narrow shoulders of his best friend as he walks to the door, turning around and with a smile and waves goodbye. He returns it, lifting his good hand with curled fingers hoping that he'd at least get a good night's rest. Sleeping for Jungkook's always been a nightmare because he can’t find the courage to actually fall into deep slumber for indefinite periods of time. His body's always on guard, always listening and feeling for signs of a sudden violent attack from is father.

He can’t fall asleep because he’s scared his father's going to kill his mother.

My father's not bad, Jungkook reminds himself, he's a good man.

"It's a disease." Jimin had said one winter morning when the both of them were sitting on Jimin's front porch peeling nuts and mixing fruits into a bowl because Jimin's mother loved to bake fruit cakes for christmas, "You can love him with every inch of your soul and he will still try to crush it."

"But he's my father." Jungkook had said softly, pouring raisins into the mix, "It's okay for me to love him that much."

He decides not to think, instead opting to close his eyes and relax into the pillows of the hospital bed. He's going to get a good night's sleep for the first time in months so he plans to savour the rest like an addict finally getting his fix.

It's then he hears a knock on the door and his eyes snap open, body on high alert. He stares at the only thing between him and the outside, stares until his eyes cross and his vision blurs.

Was it Dr Min? Hoseok? Maybe a nurse?

Abeoji?

Instead the door opens and a brown head peeks in, searching the room before finding Jungkook. It's that person, the one I saw before blacking out.

It’s the same person, Jungkook knows because of the shape of his eyes, the round of his nose, the curve of his cheeks. He's not panic stricken like the night before, but he sees Jungkook confined to the hospital bed and his shoulders sag in relief. 

How did this stranger know where he was? Maybe he'd met Jimin the night before and the orange-head had directed him to Jungkook. Or perhaps he asked the nurse at the front counter?

Either way, there's something so obscenely cheerful about this person that it's putting him off.

"Oh hey hi!" He greets cheerfully, practically skipping to his side. Jungkook doesn’t want to judge him- but he really can’t. This brown haired doofus is wearing these gross loose black pants and a white t-shirt. He wonders if he should call the fashion police and have this guy put behind bars for a lifetime.

Either way, Jungkook looks at the boy with distrust. He doesn’t find cheerful people reliable, they're too hysterical and bright for him. It's like turning on your iPhone with the brightness set to max in the middle of the night and blinding yourself for a few moments.

Jungkook prefers the dark, and the quietness desolation and seclusion brings. People hurt other people, and he knows this first hand.

"I'm so glad you're okay!" the brunette says, wide gaze looking over Jungkook's body. He's covered by blankets and a hospital gown so he wonders what this kid can actually see, "You looked really, really bad."

Jungkook blinks at him, lips pressing into a thin line. Was he trying to be friendly?

Jungkook doesn’t have many friends. No one sticks around long enough to want to deal with the soul of a broken human being.

Not to be emo, but Jungkook's life isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

"I mean, if you're wondering what I'm doing here-"

"I'm not." Jungkook interjects, giving the smiling boy a pointed look.

The stranger's taken aback for a moment but he clears his throat, smile widening (if that's even possible) and then continues, "I just felt bad you know? So I came to find you."

"Hooray I've been found." Jungkook says in a monotone, "You can leave now."

"I'm Kim Taehyung by the way." he says, his hand shooting out. Jungkook stares at it, noting little lines scabs along the sides of his fingers and palms. There's little bits of peeled skin along the corners of his nails.

"Look, I just want to-"

"Shake my hand man. Come on, I know you’re going for that teenage emo and ‘I can’t smile because it will ruin my aesthetic phase- all you’re missing is black eyeliner, but at least try to be a little less less goth.”

"I'm not goth!" Jungkook finds himself retorting, brows pulling down, "Fine, I'm Jungkook." he shoves his good hand into Taehyung's and gives it one hard shake. He's surprised when he sees this Taehyung guy smile wider, like the birth of the universe was the result of them meeting. He's grinning, practically oozing out sunshine and brightness.

Jungkook finds this a little troubling. No human should be this happy- at least- no one should be a Jung Hoseok 2.0, that intern's already too hyper and merry. 

He's got to steer away from this guy. He doesn’t trust him one bit.

"Alright Kookie," Taehyung says cheerily, his fingers still holding on to Jungkook's, "Nice to meet you. I've got a feeling that I'll be seeing you a lot."

"Do you work here?" Jungkook finds himself asking horrifically, did he have to search for another hospital now? Was this person some sort of self-proclaiming saviour? Well it only served Jungkook more purpose to stay away from him.

"Nope."

"Oh thank god." he deflates, "Uh your hand." 

Jungkook stares at their joined hand, noting the little cuts across Taehyung's knuckles. He probably used his hands a lot to do things. Was this person younger than him? He seemed a little too childish to Jungkook- or maybe it was his eyes. He had these dark eyes that looked like he'd been rolling in a bed of flowers all his life, like he hasn’t felt pain the way Jungkook has.

Jungkook's almost spiteful for feeling the jealousy sweep through his body. Not everyone grows up in hell, not everyone has to worry about trying to fix themselves or making ends meet.

Then again not everyone gets thrown about.

Taehyung seems to finally realise that he's still touching Jungkook so he lets go and Jungkook feels, for the first time, the way someone would when forgetting to wear a coat out in winter. He wonders why this is so.

Taehyung's rubbing his wrists, rolling it in his fingers but he's still grinning madly.

"You know, it's a real relief to see that you're okay." Taehyung says finally, the smile growing weaker and his eyes meeting Jungkook’s with gratefulness, “Get well soon.” and then leaves the room, practically hopping all the way to the door. Once there he stops, turns around and grins again.

Jungkook feels something warm spread in his chest so he frowns, blaming it on the medication.

-----

Chapter Text

Ceilings are fascinating. There's something about distance that Jungkook finds exhilarating. Perhaps it’s the fact that you can’t touch it, or maybe it's because distance is an abstract concept in itself, but either way, Jungkook finds comfort in ceilings. Ceilings are so high, so tall.

So untouchable.

If you want to press the tips of your fingers against them, you’d have to get a ladder tall enough to go that far up. If you want to rub against them you've got to find someone to watch you. It's unnecessary, which is why no one thinks of touching ceilings in the first place. It's why when someone goes "Let's scale a mountain!" they don’t go immediately.

Jungkook wishes he's a ceiling- or maybe not a physical ceiling. More of the metaphorical meaning of it. He wishes to be untouchable, that if someone were to want to feel his skin they’d have to think twice or ask or walk away. 

He’s been told that he appears to be isolated, lonely.

He swears he’s not lonely. You can’t feel lonely when you’ve got family and friends.

(Jungkook doesn’t have that many friends, just one he’d consider the closest thing to a brother and he’s a midget named Park Jimin.)

So Jungkook doesn't feel lonely. He feels tranquil.

Jungkook likes quiet and the sounds of coffee shops. He likes drawing although he’s not very good at it. He likes drinking coffee with too much sugar and burgers that are way too salty. He always gets hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and sandwiches with extra cheese.

Jimin once told him that he's got to stop finding comfort in objects and start searching for it in people. 

Jungkook’s not lonely, he just can’t trust easily.

It's a result of years of abuse and years of people saying, "I'll definitely help you." and not doing anything. It's not anyone's fault really, it's just his. Jungkook's a hard wall to get through- as noted by Dr Min Yoongi once- and he's not that flexible to changes around him- as once chided by Park Jimin. Jungkook's been like this for as long as he can remember, has always closed himself off to others.

He wonders why he'd label himself as a passerby in his own story. Maybe he's just terrified to involve himself in the lives of others, maybe he's terrified of letting others down.

No, you're strong as fuck.

Maybe that's why he's so anxious all the time, maybe that's why he can only sleep on his front porch. Jungkook can remember the first time he'd felt solace against the hard wood of the front of his house, can remember falling asleep almost instantly with the cold night air threatening to kill him with hypothermia, but even then he'd managed to let his body go and close his eyes in order to drift into a dreamless sleep.

If he sleeps in his own bedroom he wakes up with fear clawing at his throat and anxiety pulling at his shoulders.

It's not a sign of weakness, he reminds himself, sleeping out on the porch is a sign of healing. He'd learnt that the solution to escaping from nightmares of monsters with his father's eyes was to sleep on the front porch so he'd gone and done so.

The porch had become the safest place to him, safest in the most cruelest way possible. Since his father only used his fists inside, Jungkook's brain had quickly rewired to believe that anywhere outside was safe.

It's the same way that Jungkook's mother can only fall asleep in the kitchen, her fingers wrapped around a broomstick and beads of sweat dripping down her temples.

It's a sad life, but Jungkook's adamant not to give in to it. He's just a somber spirit- has always been.

He lifts his fingers up to the ceiling, the back of his hand facing him. He sees his knuckles, at the linear bone that jut out against his skin. Jungkook feels the strain of his muscles and nerves in his hand all the way down to his elbows, watches the pink tips of his digits go yellow.

He brings his hand down, squeezes his palm and then repeats. 

He remembers this feeling, the slight pain, the draining of his blood. He remembers this and tells himself that he's alive, that he's living.

Living's good. Living's always been good.

You are more scar than skin.

With a sigh he turns over, feeling the thin mattress shift beneath his body. It's not that cold out tonight, so he's discarded his blanket, allowing it to bundle up at his feet. Jungkook curls his body around a pillow at his belly and then adjusts his head so his ear's not uncomfortably pressing against the pillow under it. 

He stares into the night, at the tall dancing grass. He loves this neighbourhood for all it's been. All the houses are built in one line on one part of the linear gravel road and on the other's a long infinite stretch of grass as tall as Jungkook himself. Beyond that's another town entirely and cutting through it all is a river that's as ancient as time itself.

He envies the way the grass dances according to the wind's tune, envies the way they sway with nothing to hold them down. His mother once told him that he used to jump around the house, shaking his hips and laughing a lot.

She'd ended that story with, "You barely laugh at home anymore."

With a sigh he closes his eyes.

Jungkook hasn’t slept in four days. It’s not that he has nightmares that keep him awake, it's just that his body isn’t ready to drift away. Sleep's an extremely vulnerable time for him and his body isn’t ready to accept that he might get hurt when he least expects it.

Okay sleep Jungkook, sleep.

But he can’t because he feels a familiar crawl against his skin, coarse fingers with ivory nails. They dance across his skin, teasing at his nerves as they move from his back up to his shoulders. He can hear it's little laugh, can hear it call his name in a sultry whisper.

Anxiety is a lover that controls, it's a lover because it loves him too much. Anxiety is an addict and it won’t go away unless it's left a mark.

That mark's Jungkook.

He feels it’s fingers around his neck, rough skin, ragged breaths. Feels it’s fingers pat at his vocal chords- one, two, three.

It laughs. Jungkook holds his breath.

And then it squeezes.

Jungkook shoots up, a cry trapped in his throat, his eyes scoring with tears. He coughs, bringing his hands up to his neck to feel for calloused fingers but instead just feels his own skin. He claws at it, his chest rising and falling rapidly.

Fucking hell.

Eventually his sprinting heart calms and with it, his lungs learn how to function normally again. He takes in a slow breath, releases it and closes his eyes, dropping his head into his open palms.

"I'm safe, I'm safe." He repeats, voice muffled by his palms, "Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin."

If you're ever scared, say things that make you safe.

It's cheesy as fuck, but the people at the hospital makes Jungkook feel safe so he says their names on the ends of a panic or anxiety attack.

"Eomma."

It had been Dr Kim Namjoon who'd told him this, once walking by when Jungkook was on the beginnings of a panic attack. He hadn’t known what to do, hadn’t known how to calm the rapid breaths and the tears and the sprinting heart. The doctor had walked in, taken a look at him and then had gone, “Follow after me."

He'd breathed and Jungkook had breathed with him. When his heart stilled, Dr Kim Namjoon had smiled, ruffling at his hair and had said, "It helps if you say out the names of things that make you feel safe."

So Jungkook felt safest with these people.

"Who are they?" he hears a sudden voice, like melted chocolate over nuts, like warm wet sand over cold feet. It's deep like trenches but clear like an ocean. Familiar, yet unknown.

Jungkook lifts his head form his palms and looks over at the source of the voice, eyeing brown hair like milk chocolate with streaks of caramel and a smiling waving person. He recognises him as that eccentric boy who'd come into the hospital, too bright, too cheerful.

Jungkook scowls.

What's he doing here? Especially in the middle of the night- or rather early morning because Jungkook's watch tells him that it's 4AM.

"You were saying names! Who are they?“ 

What's his name again? Taeyang? Taehyun? Taeyeon? Jungkook doesn’t know, he doesn’t really care either. He just wants to sleep and even if his body doesn’t want to, he's going to force himself into slumber.

"No one." Jungkook grumbles back, loud enough for Taeyang-Taeyeon-Taehyun to hear before falling back down in his mattress. He does this a little too hard so he slams his shoulder against the floor (the mattress is way too thin) and winces.

It's quiet for a moment, except for the awareness crawling all over Jungkook's body. He imagines the idiot still standing at that spot, bouncing around his heels while waiting for him to give a proper answer.

Goddamn it.

Jungkook's cool and distant (and according to Jimin "Still caught in 2010's emo phase.") but he's not entirely heartless and dissociative. He gets up, groans and pushes himself out of the mattress.

Taeyang-Taeyeon-Taehyun's still standing outside, rolling back and forth on his heels and breathing out cold air. Jungkook watches him bring his hands to his face and breathe out into them.

Fuck my life.

"Okay Taeyang what do you want?" he's standing up, walking down the three steps to meet Taeyang-Taeyeon-Taehyun. He attempts to be intimidating so he leans against a banister, crossing one ankle over the other and then his arms over his chest. He eyes the brunette, at the way his pale face shines like the moon in the darkness- as pale, as bright. The tip of his nose is pink and so are his cheeks. He’s all blue under the night, nearly translucent.

Like a ghost.

But he grins like the universe was created just to see him smile. It infuriates Jungkook a little so he juts his chin out, narrowing his gaze at the other boy.

“First of all, my name isn’t Taeyang it’s Taehyung. Tae-hyung!"

"Glad that's cleared up." Jungkook deadpans, rolling his eyes. It's not that he cares to know his name. Jungkook doesn’t really like meeting new people, he loathes introductions and fictitious promises of keeping in touch. Jungkook doesn’t have time for all of that anyway.

“Who are those people anyway? Your friends?” he’s bouncing now- oh god he’s a man-child- appearing like this nearly dead conversation with Jungkook’s filling him with some sort of life energy or something.

Jungkook doesn’t want to judge him, but he really can’t help himself.

“Sort of.” Jungkook mumbles, “Now are you going to go? I want to sleep."

“You weren’t really sleeping.” Taehyung counters, his lips scrunching into a corner, “I heard there’s a river in this neighbourhood."

“Yeah?” Jungkook replies, rubbing at his itchy nose, “So what? It’s a boring ass river anyway."

“I wanna see it.” Taehyung’s stepping closer to him, so close that in the darkness his eyes appear so dark against his moonlit skin, “Could you take me there?”

“No.” Jungkook groans, “No I won’t."

Pleaaaaseeee!” Taehyung pleads, fingers wrapping around Jungkook’s forearm and his lips pulled down at the corners. His eyes are so wide, brows pulled together. He doesn’t know why his heart stops for a second at this and then swallows hard, his gaze unable to meet Taehyung’s. It’s awkward all of a sudden so he clears his throat and shuffles, pulling his arm away from the excited man-child.

“Fine, fine okay.” he figures that if he gives in- just once- Taehyung would realise how boring he was and leave him alone.

After all, he doesn’t need him to trail after him like a lost puppy.

-----

It’s astounding, really, how Taehyung can talk so much without taking in a single breath. In fact, he talks so much Jungkook thinks he needs to write down what he’s saying just to keep up. He jumps around topics like a frog on steroids and then stops suddenly, and continues once again.

It’s giving Jungkook whiplash. But even then he listens without kicking up a fuss. He doesn’t want to admit it, but Taehyung’s constant chatter makes him feel a lot safer while wandering through the tall grass when it’s still dark out. Taehyung sneezes at one point when the tip of a grass blade tickles his nose and Jungkook coughs out a laugh, sneezing seconds later when the same thing happens to him.

Taehyung gushes about how green the grass are, gushes about how quaint and adorable the neighbourhood is. He compliments how everything seems like it’s out of a storybook, like his neighbourhood’s a little fairytale. Jungkook personally can’t see what Taehyung admires so much, but he doesn’t put the older boy down. He listens, absorbs and then hums out responses when he has to. 

Taehyung’s sunshine reincarnate, like he was a child of the largest star in the galaxy. Jungkook wonders if Taehyung knows what sadness feels like, or how it would be to feel pure, unfiltered agony.

Seeing the other boy’s face, Jungkook feels the churn of envy in the pit of his belly, but he doesn’t say anything even as he steps over a large log and watches Taehyung trip over it and nearly fall.

Jungkook almost reaches to steady him, almost but he stops himself because helping him would probably give him the wrong impression and Jungkook didn’t need anything that would instigate friendship with this overly eccentric man-child.

They walk for a while when suddenly Taehyung stops, gasps and then turns back to grab Jungkook’s wrist. The younger boy could only take a fleeting glance, but he was sure that he’s never seen sparkles that bright in someone’s eyes before. Taehyung had been grinning so wide in those few seconds, and his eyes had been so clear and excited.

Jungkook’s breath had been lost somewhere between his mouth and throat.

The brunette’s grip is viciously firm around Jungkook’s wrist, but it’s not unpleasantly uncomfortable either. In fact, Jungkook feels warmth spread all the way from his hands to his cheek as he watches Taehyung drag him quickly, bouncing with every step. The tall tickling grass around them fades away, becoming shorter and more sparse to give way to more earth.

The river comes into view, the water almost grey against the darkness around them. It’s calm, streaming downwards into forever.

Taehyung lets go of his wrist at some point, abandoning him to run toward the estuary. He stops, right before the water touches the dry earth and lets out a long melodic “Woooow!”

Jungkook lifts an eyebrow at this. There’s nothing special about this river- or rivers in general. They’re just random bodies of water, filling up space and drenching everyone who falls into it.

It’s the memories you make at the river that makes it marvellous. Staring at infinite bodies of liquid just makes you look like a fake-ass nature fanatic. 

But even then, Taehyung’s squatting down, pressing both his palms into the water and chuckling. He’s in a world of his own, Jungkook thinks, he’s also a weird man-child. He’s never seen anyone this optimistic about living before because living is well... not exactly all that easy.

Yet, even when criticising him, Jungkook can’t look away. He’s drawn to the yellow aura surrounding Taehyung (much to his dismay) and he can’t stop himself from staring at the way he allows freedom to run through his veins. He’s a living embodiment of that goddamn river- flowing, revitalising, existing. He’s there, a physical creature. There, a mental picture.

Jungkook’s physically present most of the time, but his mind often takes a trip to darker waters. It’s one of his greatest flaws, to always find comfort in sadness and isolation. 

He’s not lonely, he swears by this. He just prefers to be by himself sometimes.

“Jungkook! Jungkook!” Taehyung calls out excitedly, coming over to where Jungkook had sat down. His eyes are so bright in the night, his skin so very pale in contrast to the sky.

But he’s shining from within. 

“What?” is all Jungkook can venomously say, he’s annoyed at the way he doesn’t  want to make ties with this person but his brain seems to have differing ideas. Even with the biting tone he’d used, Taehyung smiles, taking a seat beside him.

His hands are all wet, Jungkook notices, with bits of sand between his fingers and under his nails. He doesn’t know why he’s suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to clean them. He also notices little cuts along his knuckles and fingers.

Jungkook stares at his own fingers, noting the same. He’s got little linear scabs across his skin. Jimin’s always complaining about how he’s got a collection of scars, Jungkook doesn’t know how he gets them. He guesses he’s just really clumsy.

“How are you?” Taehyung asks out of the blue, his voice diving from something bright and flourishing to a deeper more set tone.

The younger boy’s take aback. It’s been so long since someone’s actually asked him, at least, asked genuinely like they meant it. And Taehyung’s genuine, he’s asking it with just a small smile, with his eyes locked securely with Jungkook’s. There’s no trace of humour of amusement on his face now, just honest sincerity.

The raven head doesn’t know what to do with the hurricane in his chest. It’s tight and tickling- hysterical. His heart’s a caged bird, trashing wildly against his ribs. He’s staring at Taehyung’s face, staring at something he can’t quite place but it’s messing up his emotional state.

He doesn’t know why, but he wants to go break something. Instead he just eyes that small smile across Taehyung’s face, realising that he’s actually not that bad looking.

“What’s your full name?” Jungkook finds himself asking, bringing his gaze away from Taehyung’s. He can’t stand to look at the other boy in the eyes right now, not when he feels something inside him crack a little.

He feels exposed in Taehyung’s gaze, like the brunette can see more of him than Jungkook himself knows.

It’s terrifying.

“Kim Taehyung."

“Okay Kim Taehyung,” Jungkook starts, “It’s none of your goddamn business about how I am or how I am not doing.” He clenches his jaw, feeling a little guilty. He swallows it down, reminding himself that Taehyung’s nothing but a stranger and he’s not obligated to spill all his dark secrets to someone he doesn’t quite know.

“Your father abuses you.” Taehyung says simply, like he’s reading out phone numbers, “He’s branded you."

Jungkook bites his lip.

“How are you?"

“I’m okay.” Jungkook mouths off, pushing to his feet. He doesn’t know why he’s annoyed. He doesn’t even know why he’s being defensive, “Stop talking about my father like he’s a bad person."

“I never said anything.” Taehyung says clearly, lifting an eyebrow. When he’s not smiling he’s scary, almost like he’s evaluating the world around him.

Jungkook doesn’t want him to look into his soul and see something he doesn’t want to reveal.

He has this feeling that Taehyung’s an ocean, bright on the surface but as you dig deeper, swim harder, you’ll reach the darker almost invisible parts of his soul. 

Jungkook’s been told he doesn’t have a soul, so he begins to wonder if Taehyung doesn’t as well.

“You don’t have to, it’s written all over your fucking face.” He spits out, eyes wide, chest rising and falling with the rage building itself in his chest. He’s on fire, because no one understands.

No one, not even he understands his father- but that doesn’t mean you can label him a criminal or a bad person. There should be a reason why his father uses his fists, maybe it’s his way of communicating.

His father’s not a bad person. His father used to cradle him in his arms, used to bring him out to play. His father used to kiss his cheeks, his foreheads. His father used to bring him to theme parks with him riding on his shoulders, Jungkook’s father used to hold on to like forever was coming to an end and Jungkook loves his father for this. So what if he’d lost himself to the alcohol somewhere in between?

So what if his father’s just the shadow of the person he used to be? So what if he didn’t know any other way to show his love other than to hurt and hurt and hurt?

My father ’s not a bad person, he’s just lost.

Taehyung purses his lips, nodding his head from side to side as though in thought before saying, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. The same way, fists don’t speak. Fists break and not just your bones.” 

“Fuck off.” Jungkook curses with a turn. He doesn’t have to stand there and listen to Kim Taehyung talk like he knows things about Jungkook. They’ve just met, Taehyung knows nothing.

And yet, the younger boy fears that he’s seen much more than heard.

“Jeon Jungkook,” Taehyung says from behind him and even though Jungkook wants to trudge on, he can’t. The older boy’s voice is crystal clear like a church bell on a rainy day, like diamonds and glass. He hears it, as though hearing it from all angles and it pierces his body sharply.

Kim Taehyung is serious and Jungkook doesn’t know why his heart is thundering in his chest- not from anger or fear this time.

It’s trembling with something softer, and he wants to deny it, so he presses his palm against his heart, fingers curling like he’s ready to dig them into his skin and rip the organ out.

“You can walk away today, but that’s not going to end anything.” 

Jungkook knows he’s right, but he can’t accept it. He knows that Kim Taehyung’s no longer a flat character that’s all childish humour and peculiarity. He’s idiosyncratic, multi-dimensional. There are facets to him, like a rarely cut diamond that’s yet to show itself.

Kim Taehyung must be avoided at all costs, because now Jungkook knows that the boy’s not just crazy, he’s also incredibly perceptive and intelligent.

Jungkook runs away, runs through the grass because he wants to hide, and hide forever.

----- 

Chapter Text

No matter how hard Jeon Jungkook tries, he can’t run away from Taehyung. The brunette weaves his way into Jungkook’s life too easily like a ribbon into a braid, appearing out of the blue especially when Jungkook least expects it.

He’s trying to work around Kim Taehyung’s magical appearances, so much so he’d begrudgingly asked for his number.

(The conversation may or may not have went something like “Give me your number.” and Taehyung chortling a reply with, “Ooo is little Kookie falling for me?” to which the raven head had turned beet red and had to hide his face and mention something about the heat although it was perfectly warm and not hot enough to burn him that day.)

At first, obviously it had been rather frightening. Especially whenever Jungkook’s out of the house and then suddenly finding Taehyung standing there, a grin plastered across his face and hand lifted in a half wave.

Jungkook thinks he’s disgusting, but his heart has other ideas.

He notices things about Taehyung, notices how he keeps rubbing his wrists, how his hands are always scarred. He notices that when he’s smiling his lips thin entirely and his eyes become slits on his face. He notices that Taehyung walks too close to him and touches him when he doesn’t expect it. He notices that Taehyung likes loose pants (god they’re so fucking ugly) and asking Jungkook if he’s doing well.

He also notices that it’s always hot and cold when Taehyung’s around.

Jungkook’s out of the house at the crack of dawn (he can’t sleep, can’t seem to find sleep), walking down the steps to get to the gravel road. He peeks beyond the tall grass, at the horizon painted in blues and oranges. They complement each other, fitting well even when one’s bright and the other’s dark.

He doesn’t see Taehyung, not waiting today at least and he doesn’t know why this disappoints him.

With a shake of his head he carries on, gravel crunching beneath his shoes.

It’s his favourite sound, almost like Taehyung’s voice.

Goddamn it.

Jungkook’s frustrated because it’s the first time in several weeks where Taehyung’s not greeted him in the morning (not that it should be disappointing him, but it’s become sort of routine and Jungkook’s decided that what his life needs is a good and logical routine).

He coughs (like that’s going to clear his head) and then continues the walk. 

Jungkook likes walking to Jimin’s house. It’s pretty... scenic.

Okay, maybe not scenic. At least, not in the nature kind of sense. Jungkook likes walking to Jimin’s house because that way he gets to see the guilty faces of his neighbours. They’re always calling out to him with a friendly wave or avoiding eye-contact. It’s humorous in all actuality, because he often feels this sickly perverse pleasure in the way his neighbours can’t hold eye contact with him. It makes him want to smirk every time someone goes, “Good morning Jungkook!” with that carefully painted smile across their face.

They can smile all they want, give them food and gifts on occasions. But their eyes- they can never hide their eyes. The guilt is too obvious in their pupils, too loud and bright for them to keep away.

He looks at it and laughs on the inside because everyone is to pretentious, everyone is so fucking painfully hollow he wants to grab them and scream “Help us!” 

Jungkook is a bitter soul. He’s bitter because no one would help and he wonders how they survive those torturous nights when his house screams alongside him, he wonders how they can pretend that he’s not getting torn apart.

Abeoji is a good man, Jungkook reminds himself, don’t think this way.

Plus, out of the guilt the neighbourhood ladies often brought his mother out shopping or invited her to cook together. They treat her well so Jungkook can’t say that them closing their eyes to the abuse isn’t all that bad a thing after all.

So he throws away his thoughts, hunching his shoulders into his hoodie and pulling the hood up. He stares ahead as he walks, feeling several neighbours wander out of their houses at first light but not bothering to give them a look.

Jimin named this place the Riverhood. He used to live nearby (in fact two houses down) and when they were younger they used to go over to the river to play. Jimin was older than him (by two years he thinks, he can’t remember because Jimin’s such a child) and they’d met one day when his parents had to go out urgently and so dropped him off at Jimin’s (apparently their mothers knew each other quite well) who had proceeded to look at him and crush him in a hug before declaring that “This one’s cute, he’s my slave.”

Jimin had been five.

Honestly, Jungkook’s not sure how he’d have grown up (probably more emo) without Jimin. That idiot’s just a bundle of joy, always smiling and calling Jungkook over. Sometimes Jungkook thinks it’s out of guilt because his family had moved to another neighbourhood (thirty minutes by foot, forty by car) all of a sudden.

Every time Jimin tried to help, something would go wrong, so Jungkook had made him stop.

Truth be told, all Jungkook needed was Jimin by his side.

Tell no one, it doesn’t fit his emo aesthetic.

The raven head sometimes found himself telling Taehyung about Jimin and Taehyung would smile so wide and say, “He sounds like a great person!” 

Jungkook disagrees. Jimin’s not a great person, he’s fucking fantastic. Jimin smiles even on bad days and hugs Jungkook so tight, he holds Jungkook’s hand and makes him laugh even when his soul’s all torn up.

Jimin’s also his guardian in contact.

Jungkook tells Taehyung about Jimin and tells Jimin a lot about Taehyung. He’s sure that if the two met they’d kick right off (lightning and lightning is a better combination than lightning and thunder. When lightning’s with lightning they can strike at the same time, but with thunder one’s always faster than the other, always out of sync). Jungkook feels bad sometimes because he thinks he’s constantly making Jimin worry.

But that idiot always pats him on the head and says, “It’s fine."

So Jungkook believes Jimin because Jimin’s eyes are pure energy and Jungkook loves him way more than he should.

-----

“Jimin doesn’t like my noodles.” Mrs Park complains with a playful downturn pull of her lips. She eyes the two boys, paying extra attention to Jungkook. Has he lost weight? Is he covered in bruises?

Jungkook doesn’t miss this look so he smiles (at least smiles as brightly as he can) to ease her. Mrs Park sighs, almost like in relief before continuing, “He says it’s too salty."

“Because it is!” Jimin retorts, eyes wide and lips curving up, “You added too much salt!"

“Watch it, you’re not getting any noodles.” Mrs Park chides before placing two bowls in front of Jungkook. He eyes the thick and juicy yellow noodles underneath clear soup and smiles, placing his palm above the bowl to feel the heat of the steam. Jimin’s mother cooks up one hell of a meal and she always serves him extra when he goes over.

Jimin stick his tongue out when she’s not watching and then reaches for a bowl only to have his mother go, “Park Jimin I see you and that bowl is for Jungkook.” 

The older boy pouts, shoulders sagging. Jungkook can’t help laugh looking at his best friend. Jimin always looks tired (mostly because he sleeps late and wakes up even later). His orange hair’s sticking up at the back, his bangs pressing against his forehead. He’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt that reads I’ve Gone Apeshit with a picture of a gorilla on it.

Jungkook swirls his chopsticks into his bowl, smiling when Mrs Park turns around with an exaggerated groan and asks her son, “Do you want noodles, your majesty?” to which Jimin perks up, biting his lower lip and reaching his hands out, wiggling his fingers like a small child. Mrs Park’s face visibly softens and she scolds him halfheartedly before wandering back into the kitchen to fix him a bowl of her delicious yellow noodles in the secret Park family recipe soup.

“So did you see that weird boy again?” Jimin asks the Jungkook’s mouth is full of noodles. Jungkook glares at him- why do people always ask questions when your mouth’s full?- before gulping down the noodles painfully and shrugging.

“Dunno, didn’t see him this morning."

“I have yet to meet him.” Jimin pouts, pressing his cheek into his hand, elbow on the tabletop. He eyes Jungkook, looking around his face- searching for signs of a drunken bastard’s mark.

Jimin honestly doesn’t understand why Jungkook (fucking emo kid) holds on to the tiny thread of hope that his father might come home sober one day and they’ll sit in some goddamn circle and sing Kumbaya like nothing bad’s been going on in that family. Jungkook tries to be strong, but Jimin can see him cracking from his eyes. Jeon Jungkook is not strong. He might be physically built like a man, but his heart’s still young and he’s still a child.

If it were Jimin, he’d have shattered a long time ago. He worries that Jungkook’s trying to be strong for his mother (thus the distancing from others and the cold look in his eyes).

But the older boy’s noticed that something’s different about Jungkook these days and this difference had started with a groaning “Fuck there’s this annoying guy called Taehyung that’s attached himself to me like some sort of human slug."

When Jungkook talks about him- even when it’s mostly him complaining about this Taehyung dude- he smiles. It’s just a ghost of it on his lips, but Jimin can’t deny the look in his eyes. There’s brightness in his gaze, like he’s staring into an explosion. He glows every time he even begins to say that boy’s name.

Jungkook enjoys this Taehyung person’s company. The evidence is there, written all over Jungkook’s face.

Jimin’s happy for him- he is.

Okay maybe not entirely. It feels like bitterness in his bloodstream because he’s never made Jungkook smile this way before. He’s never put a secret smile of his own name on Jungkook’s lips, but this stranger Kim Taehyung has. When Jungkook smiles along the notes of Taehyung’s name, he smiles secretly. Just for him. Just for him.

Jungkook’s never smiled like that for Jimin before and it lodges a sharp shard in Jimin’s heart.

He watches Jungkook drink up the soup and then move on to the other bowl, watches the coldness in his eyes and in his body language. Jungkook is cold, he’s distant. It had taken years for Jimin to crack through all those walls he’d built up, and even then it’s not like Jimin’s managed to reach all the way through. Every time he tries to reach further, Jungkook closes something else up.

Jimin remembers the first time he’d had to drag Jungkook to the hospital. It had been raining that night and his father had been extra nasty.

Jungkook had nearly died in his arms and Jimin remembered himself bawling into the night, holding on to the almost too pale boy who lay limp in his arms. He’d been breathing so little and then suddenly not at all. Jimin didn’t know what terrified him more. He didn’t know if it was the fact that if Jungkook died in his arms, Jimin would remember it for the rest of eternity- or maybe it was living his life without him ever again.

He’d been so terrified, 

It had been Dr Min Yoongi who’d resurrected him from the dead. That was six years ago when Jimin had been twelve. He’d called out a name in the ER, the moment he’d reached the near shore. Yoongi had asked who it was, but Jimin can’t quite recall the name anymore. 

Come to think of it, Taehyung did sound pretty familiar.

“Where have I heard this name before?” Jimin asks suddenly, his noodles almost forgotten. Jungkook looks at him, clearly confused from the way his brows are scrunching and his lips twisted. Jimin always asks stupid questions when Jungkook eats.

And Jungkook would rather prefer enjoy his meal instead of talk, thank you very much.

“As in the name Taehyung, it’s familiar.” Jimin clarifies, realising that his previous question could have meant anything. 

“Cha Taehyun? The actor?” Jungkook replies like Jimin’s stupid and the older boy goes ah there’s the name. Well Taehyung and Taehyun are rather similar names anyway, one ends with a  and the other an n.

With just the mention of Taehyung’s name there’s life in Jungkook’s face, there’s life in the way he’s slurping up his noodles and Jimin can’t look away from his best friend. He can’t because Jungkook looks so happy. He’s glowing from the inside.

He’s like that when he talks about Taehyung.

“You’re an idiot.” Jimin says out of the blue, gazing down at the younger boy who stops eating to glare at him. Jungkook’s not scary- at least not to Jimin- but he tries to be.

Jungkook’s actually just an adorable bunny. Honestly.

“What’s this? Why am I the idiot?” Jungkook questions quickly, branding his chopsticks like a weapon.

“Because you’re you!” Jimin laughs, attacking Jungkook with his own pair. It goes on for a while, two idiot boys wielding their cutlery like weapons over noodles and soup before throwing their heads back and laughing.

This is how it should be, Jimin thinks when he stops, Jungkook laughing like this.

Jungkook should always be laughing.

Jungkook deserves to laugh.

-----

Taehyung finds Jungkook on his way home. He pops out from behind him, covering the younger boy’s eyes before whispering, “Guess who?” in his ear. His voice is low and rough and it makes Jungkook shiver. Jungkook knows it’s him immediately.

He pushes Taehyung away by elbowing his stomach.

“Ouch!” Taehyung mutters, clutching at his belly and bending over. His eyes are playfully accusing as they look up and into Jungkook’s from below his lashes. He smiles at Jungkook and it’s the evening and the air’s just right but Jungkook feels like his breath has been knocked out of him.

He ignores this and pushes at his hair as if to adjust it. Instead it just falls over his face and he gives up.

“You look cute this way,” Taehyung compliments, eyeing Jungkook and then coming to his side, “I’m in the mood for ice-cream."

“I’m full.” Jungkook says, he’d eaten too much at Jimin’s and then had lazed around for most of the afternoon playing Fifa with Jimin. The older boy’s absolutely terrible at it. Summers are great for wasting time, it’s also great for catching up on sleep because he’s not going to get much of it when school starts up again.

Taehyung rubs at his wrist, “Please?"

“No.” Jungkook says adamantly.

Five minutes later he’s got an ice-cream cone in one hand and Taehyung’s holding the other, licking at the cream and moaning into it. Jungkook finds Taehyung extremely embarrassing, especially from his childish behaviour to the way he looks at Jungkook.

(Like he’s gazing at the stars, full of wonder, full of questions.)

Jungkook doesn’t know why he feels all fluttery when Taehyung’s around, he doesn’t know why a tiny, tiny, tiny part of him’s singing Taehyung’s name in glee. He’s not sure of many things, but one thing he knows is that licking ice-cream on a warm and sticky evening with Kim Taehyung by his side isn’t so bad at all.

“Did you go to meet your friend?” Taehyung asks, biting at the cone.

Jungkook nods, “Yeah.” 

He tells Taehyung about Jimin a lot, tells him about how Jimin’s almost like him (but less of a man-child) how Jimin’s like a brother he loves too much. He’d once told Taehyung that his heart only has the capacity to love his family and Jimin’s and the brunette had looked at him fondly and asked, “Is that why you’re trying to get rid of me?” 

Jungkook couldn’t find words for that.

Taehyung baffles him, baffles him with the depth to his soul. Those diamond facets that Taehyung has? Yeah, he unveils them sometimes and Jungkook just marvels at it because Taehyung’s a storybook with millions of tales collected into one volume.

While Jungkook wants to peek through the book, another part of him wants to run away.

“It’s warm today isn’t it?” Taehyung asks and Jungkook nods because he can’t seem to find his breath anymore.

The sun’s hitting Taehyung just right, hitting along his forehead and his rounded cheeks and his pointed chin. His lashes are so long- god, Jungkook has this insatiable urge to reach out and flick them.

And fuck him, but he remembers that first night he’d seen Taehyung, he’d called him pale like the goddamn moon but as he met with him more, Jungkook realised that Kim Taehyung’s not pale he’s creamier, like caramel and milk. 

Taehyung glows from within, like there’s sunshine in his bloodstream. Jungkook is almost jealous- almost.

“My father hasn’t been home in weeks.” Jungkook admits, telling this to Taehyung instead of Jimin. If he’d told his best friend he’d have said something like “Thank god I hope the bastard got what he deserved."

Taehyung looks at Jungkook closely and then asks, “Are you okay?"

Taehyung’s always asking him if he’s okay. Always checking up on him.

Jungkook’s curious why his heart’s sputtering in his chest, why his hands are suddenly clammy.

Why it’s hot and cold.

He’s wondering why Taehyung’s looking at him like he’s the only thing in the entire goddamn galaxy, he’s wondering why his eyes are so brown in the light like an axinite gem. His hair’s red and gold under sunlight, his lips like raspberries.

Jungkook swallows, feeling his head go light and empty for a split moment before recalling that Kim Taehyung had asked him a question and is looking at him with widened expectant eyes.

“I’m okay,” He answers quickly, smothering his face with ice-cream to hide the red in his cheeks, “Eomma’s the worried one. She’s scared that something bad might have happened to him."

“What if that happened?” Taehyung asks quietly, “How would you feel then?” 

Jungkook stops walking. What if that happened?

How would he feel?

Jungkook doesn’t know what to feel, not much anymore anyway, but he’s thinking. He’s imagining what he’d do if he found out his father’s hurt or sick or unwell and he can’t help himself from feeling relief.

He’d feel relieved if his father’s hurt.

Jungkook is a mess and he hates himself for it, but he looks at Taehyung and says earnestly, “I don’t want him to get hurt in the first place.” 

“Then he’s fine.” Taehyung says like it’s a guarantee and it takes Jungkook by surprise. He’d expected Taehyung to say something dark or cruel (Jimin would have shaken his head and looked disappointed) but the brunette had reassured Jungkook.

God why is his heart shaking so much?

Taehyung chuckles, probably taking in the expression on Jungkook’s face and walks to him. He loops his arm through Jungkook and then tosses the last of his ice-cream into his mouth. Jungkook can’t help himself from staring at the way his jaw moves from beneath glowing skin (fluid, languid) as he chews and swallows.

Jungkook licks his lips.

“By the way, your ice-cream is melting.” Taehyung points one long finger at Jungkook’s cone and he’s brought back to reality (okay maybe he took a moment to gaze at Taehyung’s finger, skin a little torn around his nail and nearly invisible thin scars along the skin) before cursing and biting into melting cream.

Taehyung just laughs beside him and Jungkook thinks about sunrises and sunsets and then what it might feel like to watch them nestled into Taehyung’s chest.

-----

Chapter Text

The Riverhood’s awfully silent, just frogs and insects singing into the static quiet that Jungkook’s come to despise. He aches for noise, for dark brown eyes and milk chocolate hair and lips that thin when they pull into a smile.

God, Jungkook hadn’t wanted this but it’s happened so he just wants to sit around and mope (or maybe jump for joy) because he’s never actually liked a person before. When he’d asked Jimin (“Hey Jimin what does it mean when your heart’s squeezing as you talk to someone?” he’d answered with an absent, “Maybe it means you like them.” while flipping through a magazine.)

Because the world is suddenly so full of colour, the grass greener, the sky bluer, his eyes sparkling like axinite gems. Suddenly everything is so vivid and grand and Jungkook can’t find words to describe any of it.

He finds Taehyung in little things. When he eyes a scab on his hands he thinks of Taehyung, when he walks by the river he remembers Taehyung, when someone’s laughing a little too loud he hears Taehyung instead. Taehyung’s somehow managed to weave his way into Jungkook’s life and unlike most people, he’s managed to actually stay. It’s surprising to Jungkook as well, how Taehyung can annoy and put him at ease at the same time.

He wants to run, but he also wants to keep put.

It’s scorching today, the air burning against his skin. He feels this scorch against his skin and once again (goddamn it) he thinks of the way Taehyung looks into his eyes, blazing a trail. He’s an infant one moment, a man the next.

Is that even possible? To have so many facets to one person? Jungkook constantly feels like he wants to see all the different parts of Kim Taehyung, to want to reach into his soul and dip his blackened fingers into the pureness of it. It’s stupid to believe that Taehyung’s magnificent or anything, but since meeting him his father hasn’t been back in weeks and even though his mother still wakes up screaming from nightmares, Jungkook’s heart’s a little more settled than it used to be. He rubs at his chest, feeling the thuds from beneath his fingers.

Fuck I’m alive.

And god the world’s so bright it’s blinding and Junkook finds himself smiling for the first time by himself. He’s staring at the grass fields like a pathetic lovesick fool and he just feels so alive. It’s like there’s a match in his veins and he’s glowing and blazing from within.

Jungkook’s glad to be alive. So fucking glad.

He thinks of Kim Taehyung, spots him in the distance. He sees him and the older boy waves his hands, grinning a greeting. Jungkook’s about to lift his hands as well but when he turns his head his heart stops. There’s a vice grip around his chest, crushing his lungs and he wheezes out.

Abeoji.

And he looks furious.

-----

Min Yoongi trudges through the hospital, nearly slamming his face into a wall when he spots his colleague, Kim Seokjin walk by. The taller doctor pauses, backtracks and then looks Yoongi over before asking, “Bad day at the ER?” 

Yoongi can only nod, feeling the ache in his lower back and shoulders. The ERs crazy because everyone’s on constant high alert. There are always doctors rushing in and out, nurses colliding into each other. If you watch a shitty generic medical drama on TV where it’s chaos and people running into each other, the ER looks just like that. The only thing they don’t show are how doctors are so exhausted after every day (doctors on TV always look like they’ve just walked out of the shower). Yoongi runs on three hours of sleep and twenty-one hours of non-stop work. His feet are killing him but he doesn’t want to complain. After all, this had been his dream (okay maybe becoming an expert at the ER wasn’t all that planned, but it happened nonetheless so he’s just going to go with it.)

“When is it ever a good day?” Yoongi groans, reaching up to knead a stiff shoulder, “I need coffee.” goddamn it where’s that stupid intern of his when he needs him.

Yoongi and most of the doctors here survive on stale hospital cafeteria food. It could be worse, so Yoongi doesn’t really complain about it much. 

“Yeah me too.” Seokjin groans as well, rolling his shoulders. He works with critical care child patients, performing surgeries and rehabilitating kids. Yoongi’s seen him walk into surgery with a blank expression to perform a tricky procedure on children as big as his arm. Seokjin’s gifted, that’s one thing for sure and he wears his ugly ass pink scrubs like a medal of honour from a soldier gone to war.

Seokjin literally has to push Yoongi to the vending machine where they can get their caffeine fix because Yoongi’s just a shuffling zombie at this point. That goddamn intern of his was busy entertaining old people at their wards, offering laughter and joy.

Yoongi remembers telling him that there’s no point, because if they’re not going to die from illness they’ll die from age anyway. He also remembers Hoseok giving him the most disappointed look he’s ever gotten (Yoongi doesn’t disappoint people you see) and say, “But they’re people and there’s nothing wrong with making them happy when they’re alive.” 

Yoongi’s pretty sure that Hoseok’s brain is a deep trench and he’s not just an idiot like he behaves.

A nurse walks by them, greeting “Good afternoon Dr Min, Dr Kim.” 

Seokjin’s the only one to properly reply her, Yoongi (as per usual) just grunts out a reply. She grins, hobbling away with a clipboard in hand.

“Where’s your child?” Seokjin asks after shoving coins into the slot and stabbing buttons on the machine. He turns to eye Yoongi’s exhausted face (all eye bags and shiny fatigued skin).

“What child?” Yoongi asks, voice taking an annoyed turn and then he realises who Seokjin’s referring to and his brain does a there-sixty before he curses at Seokjin and says, “He’s not my child he’s my slave.”

Seokjin chuckles, muttering “Call him what you want.” before pulling out the can of cold coffee and then stepping aside for Yoongi to buy his. The blonde does it slowly because his muscles are too tired and he’s sort of hoping that no emergency patient is going to come in soon because he’s not sure if he can perform procedures in this lethargic state. It’s like someone’s poured glue all over his muscles because he just can’t seem to move.

The two doctors just stand by the coffee machine, sipping on canned iced coffee and swaying from side to side without saying anything. The cold liquid scores down Yoongi’s throat pleasantly and he moans out, pressing the can to his lips and gulping down some more. Seokjin just laughs into his coffee and shakes his head.

“Oh it’s Namjoon.” Seokjin mumbles when another blonde comes round the corner. He looks worn out (in fact his face looks exactly like a zombie’s). The tallest doctor trudges to the machine, mechanically shoving coins into the slot all the while mumbling, “I need coffee, I need coffee, I need coffee.” under his breath like a programmed robot. Yoongi thinks he might have lost his mind.

But if Namjoon loses his mind then his patients would have nowhere to go because Namjoon’s a god at his craft and he’s the most effective psychiatrist at the hospital. It had taken Yoongi a good six months to actually befriend the giant blonde haired tree because Namjoon tends to psychoanalyse everyone he meets and then go, “Ah sorry, psychiatric reflex.”

When they first met, Namjoon had flat out told Yoongi that he probably leaves his room in a mess and stays indoors before going, “You’re probably and INTP and never compliment people.” 

Yoongi had stared at him, annoyed and then had bitingly said, “I can google my MBTI you self-indulgent bastard.” 

But they’re okay now, Yoongi still thinks the taller doctor sits his ass on a horse too high but he doesn’t reply sarcastically anymore (it’s really no point arguing with a psychiatrist anyway.)

Namjoon’s just an oddball. People who are too intelligent technically seem to have a problem with communicating with others. It’s Seokjin who’s always defending Namjoon, always warning Yoongi to treat him nicely.

God, the day Yoongi treats someone nicely is the day Jesus is going to come down with a medal and congratulate Yoongi for changing his ways and accepting the goddamn lord.

“Bad day?” Yoongi asks Namjoon who finishes a can of iced coffee in three seconds flat and then shoves more coins for another one. The doctor turns to look at him, sclera marked with webs of red and then goes, “I just had a patient tell me that aliens are making him flash in front of school girls.” 

Yoongi exchanges looks with Seokjin and then the duo go, “Get another cup.” at the same time.

It’s tricky for Namjoon because he’s a doctor of the heart. Seokjin and Yoongi have it easy (at least in the blonde’s opinion) because if they were to perform a surgery, they can reach out and patch something they can see. Be it the physical brain or the heart, they can use actual tools and reach the root or as close to the root of the problem.

But with psychiatry, Namjoon’s trying to cure an unseeable sickness. He can’t use his eyes, only assumptions and contextual knowledge. He can only diagnose based on behaviour and written testaments. He has to put himself in the shoes of his patients, to see through their eyes, to feel what they feel. The sickness of the heart and of the mind is terrifying because Yoongi’s heard Namjoon talk about people who’ve spent their whole lives not knowing that their wife or best friend isn’t  real or that the voice in their head telling them to kill themselves isn’t god.

Yoongi can’t even begin to imagine what Namjoon has to go through on the daily. In fact, when Namjoon had first started out he’d needed a therapist of his own and he’s caught Namjoon on several occasions talking it out to Seokjin during lunch, where the older doctor nods and listens and tries to understand. When Yoongi hears some of the things Namjoon has to treat he feels like there are insects crawling all over his body. 

“Yeah thanks.” Namjoon says, downing a second can in less than a heartbeat. He perks up visibly, his back straightening and when he looks at Yoongi’s face he immediately asks, “Bad day at the ER?"

“Oh come on do I really look like a dog fucking pissed on me?” Yoongi throws his hands up, glaring at the two other doctors chuckling at him. He grumbles, just because he’s tinier than them- Namjoon had once called him a midget so he’d kicked him in the balls, safe to say Namjoon doesn’t associate him with anything synonymous to tiny anymore- doesn’t mean he can be the source of involuntary humour. Yes the ER is tiring, yes he looks like shit but at least he’s not some giant blonde headed tree and a princess in pink.

“By the way, where’s your boy?” Seokjin asks again, looking above Yoongi’s head mockingly (ah the shit, belittling his height again, he’s going to end up at the ER soon cradling what’s left of his balls).

“First off he’s not ‘my boy’ and seco-” Yoongi doesn’t finish because he hears a sudden bolt of high pitched thunder going, “Doctor Min!” and then the sound of rapid feet slapping against the polished floor. The three doctors turn their the heads the exact moment Hoseok appears, just for a split second before he misses the turn entirely and slams himself into the opposite wall.

Namjoon spits his coffee back into his can, Seokjin turns around to laugh and Yoongi just stands there, his lips scrunched up and thinking Oh for fuck’s sake.

Why did he have to get the idiot?

“Is he going to be okay?” Seokjin wheezes between his laughter and Namjoon’s just unable to stop.

“Doctor Min, Doctor Min- wait.” Hoseok says coming to a halt. His cheek’s all red and there’s blood dripping from his nose so Yoongi grunts, digging into his pocket before producing a handkerchief and passing it over to Hoseok without a word.

Namjoon observes this.

“Thanks, thanks.” Hoseok’s beaming, taking a bow as he accepts the handkerchief before pressing it to his nose. When his eyes land on Namjoon he’s suddenly in awe, lids widening and jaw dropping like he’s looking at Jesus or something.

Yoongi doesn’t know why this displeases him. The intern’s never looked at him like that before (and he is, after all, the ‘god’ of the ER).

“Oh doctor Namjoon!” the intern’s practically gushing when he calls out his name. Namjoon grins, giving Yoongi a fleeting look before asking, “Yeah?” 

“I was watching this show the other day,” Hoseok brings the handkerchief away from his face, “And I was wondering if a mentally ill patient can live his entire life believing something’s real when it’s not.” 

“Well yeah,” Namjoon nods his head, “Mentally ill patients can do that. But eventually the hallucinations get more frequent and dangerous.” 

“What if it’s not dangerous?” Hoseok asks, “I mean, is that possible.” 

“Well yeah, I had this patient who believed he had a wife for twenty years and he came in for marriage counselling saying that she doesn’t give him attention anymore. There’s always a trigger for things like this.” 

“Ah I see.” Hoseok says, and all the childish humour in his face drains away into something far more serious. In fact, it takes Yoongi by surprise because he’s never seen Hoseok look so... mature before. He’s all hard lines and focused eyes at this point, like his brain’s trying to wrap itself around something.

Yoongi feels something strange linger in his chest and then coughs, rolling his shoulders.

“What’s all this about?” Yoongi butts in, he dislikes how Hoseok’s been idolising Kim Namjoon like he’s so great and all. Namjoon’s not that cool, he’s just tall and his voice is deep, but other than that he’s just awkward and his jeans always look weird on him.

Hoseok looks at him, purses his lips and then answers, “I was just wondering about... uh... that abuse patient, Jungkook. It’s a wonder how mentally strong he is.” 

“Well beats me,” Namjoon swallows his coffee, “It’s not like can diagnose him based off on anything.” 

“He’s not our problem anyway,” Yoongi mentions, handing his empty can to Seokjin, “We have to go.” and then he’s pushing Hoseok who clearly has more he wants to ask but Yoongi doesn’t want Hoseok standing around looking at Namjoon like there are stars in his eyes.

“But doctor-”

“Shut the fuck up you goddamn lizard, we have work to do.” and he pushes at Hoseok and the intern’s laughing.

Yoongi seriously thinks he needs a lifetime of a holiday.

-----

Jungkook coughs, leaning back against the hard wood of the porch. He stares at the ceiling, lifts his hand and notes how there’s blood still against the lines of his palms, it’s a reminder that his father’s back and his mother is on the inside curled into a ball, rocking back and forth praying to gods who close their ears to them.

He laughs into the ceiling, feeling pain score it’s way down his throat to his body. It’s not bad today, it’s not bad.

It’s one of the good days. His father had kicked him around a little, maybe punched him in the stomach a few times. But it’s okay, he’ll live. The pain isn’t  too bad anyway, nothing he can’t take.

Jungkook’s father’s not home anymore. He’d mumbled something about having work to do and then had stumbled out of the house.

He laughs again, thinking about how everything’s so fucked up. He thinks about the billion calls Kim Taehyung’s left him, thinks about the way he ignored them all because he doesn’t want Taehyung to see him like this. He doesn’t want Taehyung to look at him with those dark eyes filled with pity, he doesn’t want Taehyung to say, “You’re going to be okay.” because Jungkook doesn’t want pity and he doesn’t want to know that he’s going to be okay. Jungkook just wants to lay under a blanket filled with stars and watch them with Taehyung.

You’re supposed to be emo as fuck.

Fuck that.

When Jungkook thinks of forevers he thinks of Taehyung, when he thinks of the sunrise he imagines Kim Taehyung’s smile. 

Jeon Jungkook is absolutely crazy about that idiot, absolutely crazy about his smile, his eyes, his ears. And god- god- that little beauty mark on the tip of his nose is a goddamn blessing. He wants to kiss it, kiss the tip of Kim Taehyung’s nose and laugh.

Jungkook hasn’t laughed like he does with Taehyung in so long, he hasn’t felt colour against his black and white soul before.

He thinks of Kim Taehyung and the darkened claws of anxiety slowly eases itself away from his skin and he laughs. He laughs and laughs until he feels wetness around his eyes and a voice calling out to him.

“Jungkook, Kookie,” comes Taehyung’s soft voice and his long fingers press themselves against the swollen skin of his jaw. It’s so unbearably gently, careful. Jungkook’s salty rivers of tears fall gently against the pads of Taehyung’s fingers and yet he doesn’t pull away. Jungkook’s heart calms in his chest and his eyes sting but he doesn’t hurt anymore.

Anxiety’s just waiting in the shadows, but it can’t pursue its course now- not when Taehyung’s around and his voice is soothing all of the rapid flames inside of Jungkook’s quaking soul.

It doesn’t hurt because Kim Taehyung’s leaning over him, voice trembling like stones being shaken in a plastic bowl and he’s saying, “Kookie, Kookie, Kookie,” over and over and over like he’s praying.

“Come on you have to sit up.” Taehyung says and Jungkook does because he can’t bear to hear the way Taehyung’s voice is trembling just like his heart and he can’t breathe with the knowledge that he’s lodged worry into Taehyung’s clear soul.

“I’m okay.” Jungkook mutters, breathing in Taehyung’s face. His brows are pulled together, lips pressed into a thin line.

“No you’re not. Fuck, no you’re not.” And Taehyung’s fussing over him, fingers on his face then shoulders then thighs. He looks, assesses and Jungkook’s heart dips and rises in his chest. He’s a mess and Taehyung’s touching him like he’s art.

Jungkook wants to kiss him, he really does.

“I’ll live.” Jungkook says bitingly, it’s easier to act like he doesn’t like Taehyung’s care and be an asshole than let his eyes show how much he wants Taehyung to keep fussing over him. It’s better to deny himself anything that he wants and just be cold and detached. After all he’s been doing that his whole life, just watching others smile into the universe while he keeps his lips at bay.

You’re hopeless.

“Yeah, live half dead.” Taehyung mutters back, bringing his axinite eyes to meet Jungkook’s. They’re so clear, so brown. 

So deep.

“What’s this?” Jungkook asks, spotting something across Taehyung’s cheek. He reaches out, not stopping when Taehyung flinches and turns his face with his fingers, running the pad of his thumb over a deep scar across Taehyung’s cheekbone.

Then when Jungkook looks further down he spots bruises across Taehyung’s collarbones, across his arms. He finds more scars over his hands, over his neck.

Jungkook’s eyes ask all the questions, because suddenly Jungkook’s looking at himself- looking at what he’d always wanted to be. He’d always wanted to be overly optimistic through the pain, always wanted to smile like it’s easy, always wanted to make his mother worry less and relax more.

He’d failed miserably, curling into himself, distancing his heart from others. Not talking much.

He’s suddenly twelve years old, sinking and sinking into infinite darkness. There’s nothing to pull him up, nothing to pull him out. Jungkook’s just drifting, with a muted scream all around his ears.

He’s sinking, he’s dying and then he sees eyes, a pair of dark brown eyes and a mouth that’s calling out to him and then he’s dragged out and into light, into brightness. 

Jungkook swallows, reaching out to graze his fingers over the bruises on Taehyung’s jutting collarbones. He feels the skin beneath his digits, feels the smooth skin over bones. He feels his heart collapse in his chest, feels the universe die because Taehyung’s in pain and his eyes are reddening and filling with little rivers. He’s looking at Jungkook, fingers on his cheeks and his nose is the colour of cherry tomatoes and his lips are trembling.

He mouths, “I’m like you.” and the tears overflow along with the shake of his fingers.

Jungkook’s soul parts, he dies a little. He’s never been good with sorrowing people and he doesn’t know what to do when he’s got tears in his eyes as well but he reaches out, remembering what Jimin used to do and he wraps his arms around Taehyung, bringing the older boy closer to his chest. It’s a collision of bodies together, Jungkook feeling Taehyung’s thundering heart beneath his, feels the other boy’s muscles and bones and skin pressed against his like they’re not even wearing clothes. He feels heat, a burning flame light up somewhere from the darkest parts of his soul.

So he strokes Taehyung’s back, strokes him because Taehyung’s beautiful even when he cries. He’s an angel, with gems for tears and a smile so troubled it makes Jungkook want to hold him so tight, makes Jungkook want to keep him forever and not let go.

Jungkook’s a mess because his heart’s beating for Taehyung and he’s okay with that. He’s okay with everything right now. 

The raven head might be in physical pain, but he thinks his hearts healing a little. It’s okay to heal, Jungkook tells himself, it’s okay to heal.

Later when Taehyung’s calmed down and his hands are in Jungkook’s he looks up and into the younger boy’s eyes with all the definition of the universe in his gaze, with a jaw set in stone and he says, “Be angry Jeon Jungkook. Be angry at your father. Rage because rage will set you free.” 

“And what about you?” Jungkook finds himself asking, his body malfunctioning when Taehyung lifts his hands and presses kisses to his knuckles, over scarred flesh and previously broken bones, “What are you going to do?” 

“Isn’t it funny? How both our lives are fucked up? How our fathers toss us around like we’re trash?” Taehyung laughs at this, just the smallest saddest laugh Jungkook’s ever heard.

Jungkook laughs with him because their lives have been built this way.

“I’m sure that when the universe was created,” Taehyung mumbles, putting Jungkook’s hand down. The air’s warmer, thicker. Jungkook’s not sure why his heart is making his head go light, “But our atoms must have been pretty damn close to each other for us to have met.” 

“I’ll protect you.” Jungkook blurts out, then winces because it can’t get cheesier than that, it really can’t. He wants to crawl back into his usual emo-ness and just roll in that because he feels like his mouth’s been washed with acid.

What the fuck is “I’ll  protect you,”? You can’t even protect yourself!

He’s ruining his own emo aesthetic at this point.

Taehyung grins at this and it’s a thousand diamonds in that one action. 

Jungkook kisses him.

It’s not planned, in fact Jungkook blames the setting (dipping sun, cool air, Taehyung’s smile) but when his lips meet Taehyung’s eager ones, he’s pretty damned sure that Taehyung’s kissing galaxies into his skin. Jungkook’s never kissed anyone before, but there’s an explosion behind his eyes and suddenly everything seems right.

Taehyung holds on to Jungkook’s jaw and he can feel every inch of his soul being shattered and put together again. Jungkook can’t think, only feel and what he feels is Taehyung smile against his mouth.

It pumps, scores, blazes. Jungkook’s nothing but molten and he’s sure these are the kinds of kisses people stay up at night dreaming about, these are the kinds of kisses in the eyes of brave men and women, these are the kind of kisses that you can’t find words for but there are fireworks and thunder and it’s the colour of sunrises and sunsets and a beating heart (too fast, too fast).

Jungkook doesn’t know how to kiss, but he’s doing it and Kim Taehyung isn’t letting him go and maybe two broken boys kissing on the front porch in front of a grassy field in the middle of summer isn’t so bad after all.

Taehyung pulls away, lips shining, axinite eyes bright and gleaming.

Jungkook’s branded himself on Taehyung now, has tasted him like wine.

Maybe being broken isn’t all too bad after all.

-----

 

Chapter Text

Taehyung wants to go to the river even though Jungkook would rather they go elsewhere (like a cafe or the park) but he doesn’t complain because Taehyung seems to love that boring assed river with his entire being and Jungkook enjoys seeing Taehyung smile.

He’s covered in more bruises this morning, blue on the side of his lips, fingerprints around his neck. Though covered in markings, Taehyung still smiles, throwing his arms around Jungkook’s neck and giving him a quick peck on the lips.

Jungkook’s not used to this kind of affection (even though he’d been the one to kiss Taehyung first) so every time Taehyung does it, Jungkook finds his vision blurring and his head spinning. He pulls away first and Taehyung just laughs his deep and throaty little laugh and says, “You’re so untrusting.” 

He is. He’d spent his entire life trusting his father, trusting fate, trusting god to help his family and every single time he does, he gets let down.

But this isn’t time to think about his life, this is the time to think about Taehyung and the way his skin glows under the sun and how brown his eyes are and that goddamn mole on the tip of his nose that’s driving Jungkook insane. He pokes at it, unable to contain himself and Taehyung’s head moves back in surprise.

Jungkook laughs seeing Taehyung’s expression (it’s all nervous energy and lip biting and glittering eyes).

Taehyung’s holding his hand as they walk through the tall grass, the tips of the plant ticking Jungkook’s cheeks. Taehyung’s hand is so warm and solid in Jungkook’s so he gives it a hesitant squeeze, and Taehyung does the same. 

Jungkook’s never been one for addictions- he keeps away from alcohol, smoking, drugs because he’s seen what it can do to a person (the rage in his father’s eyes is a stark example of it) but Jungkook doesn’t mind Taehyung. They say that obsessing over something’s bad for you, but this is Taehyung and its love so he doesn’t really mind. In fact, Jungkook doesn’t want to bet his life on it, but he feels the little shattered pieces of his soul fix up a little.

Taehyung’s eyes are so clear like crystals, so clear when he reaches over Jungkook’s head and pulls out bits of green, so clear when he grins into Jungkook’s eyes, so clear when he licks his lips or sticks his tongue out.

When they reach the river, the sun’s reflected against the water- streaks of orange against cerulean.

It’s halcyon.

Taehyung runs into the water, beckoning Jungkook over so the younger boy follows suit. He’s learnt not to argue with Taehyung because the older boy likes to pout and use his eyes on Jungkook and the raven head just can’t seem to say no to that.

The water's cool and Jungkook feels a sense of relief when his hot legs feel the temperature of the river. He closes his eyes, letting his toes dig into the rough sand beneath his feet. He imagines his skin wrinkling like prunes and smiles to himself. It’s been so long since he’s actually stepped into the river. He’d done it when he was younger (it was usually Jimin who pushed him into the water first) but ever since Jimin moved to another neighbourhood, Jungkook hadn’t visited the river.

This place was the epicentre of his childhood but it’s lost meaning to the raven head entirely, that is, until Taehyung came and now it’s sparkling like never before. In fact, Jungkook’s never realised how beautiful this place is.

Was it the river or Taehyung? Jungkook doesn’t really know because it’s almost like they’re the same at this point.

Taehyung makes Jungkook find beauty in everything, in anything.

He feels a sudden splash of droplets against his skin, ice against heat and opens his eyes to the sound of chuckling. Taehyung’s got a mischievous gleam in his eyes and his lips are pulled so wide they’re thinning over his pearly teeth.

Jungkook dips his fingers into the water, cupping them and then with quick upturn slide of his arm, splashes water all over Taehyung who giggles like a child, trips and falls back first into the water.

Jungkook can’t help the outburst of laughter that comes out from his throat suddenly. The air’s warm, the universe settled. He can feel his insides shift and his heart glow and the laugh is a hundred percent real and true.

He laughs with his head thrown back and his back arched, he laughs with a finger pointing at Taehyung, he laughs like there could be nothing wrong ever in his life.

He stops when he notices Taehyung’s sitting in the water and he reaches out to him, only to have the older boy grab his wrist and yank him down. He collapses on Taehyung with a sudden surprised cry, laughing hysterically along with the brunette. The cuts on Jungkook’s body sting in the water, but that’s easily ignored because all Jungkook can see is Taehyung glowing and glowing and glowing.

They’re both drenched, hair parting with the water droplets, clothes sticking to their skin. 

But they’re laughing and Taehyung’s wrapping his arms around Jungkook and he’s kissing him and kissing him and he’s whispering, “All’s good, all’s good.” 

All is good.

All is great.

Jungkook can’t stop laughing so the kiss gets ruined but Taehyung’s pressing his mouth to Jungkook’s cheeks and his forehead and Jungkook feels alright.

-----

Later when they’re all half wet and lying against the earth, chests rising and falling and staring up into the sky Taehyung coughs and coughs and then admits, “I’m going to take my mother and leave.”

Jungkook turns to look at him, tired now, “Run?” 

“Yeah.” Taehyung’s long fingers reach for his collarbones where the evidence of abuse lay, he dabs at it, tapping a rhythm against the jutting bone, “I’m afraid that if I don’t run he’ll kill her.” 

“Kill her.” Jungkook’s eyelids grow heavy, but he thinks of his own mother. Would his dad ever kill her? Lately he’s been coming and going, but every time he’s back he seems angrier, more drunk. He’s not in control (but has he ever been?) his fists land painfully against Jungkook’s skin but they also miss just as often as he lands a hit. 

“Yeah. It’s a great first step, when I leave I’ll call you.” Taehyung’s beaming, he looks at peace now. Jungkook’s always thought Taehyung was an embodiment of sunshine and happiness, but now he truly sees the freedom in Taehyung’s gaze.

How long had he been smiling through the hurt? How much had his heart trembled in his chest?

Jungkook feels for Taehyung’s fingers, feels scars against his skin. He rubs his thumb over Taehyung’s knuckles before he mumbles, “Okay.”

“You know Jungkook,” Taehyung’s voice is small, but filled with soul, “When I first met you, you wanted me to go away.”

“Yeah?” the younger boy smiles into the memory, “You were really annoying.”

“And you’re still emo as fuck, but like...” Taehuyng coughs, laughs, “Less emo now. For your birthday I’ll get you eyeliner and hair gel so you can really embrace your true emo-ness.”

“That’s not even a word.”

“What’s twelve times eleven?”

“Shut up.” Jungkook chuckles, “I have to meet Jimin later.”

“Okay.” Taehyung sits up, pushing his hair back. Jungkook can’t stop staring at his forehead, at his thick brows.

He looks older, more mature.

Jungkook so has a thing for mature.

Actually, he so has a thing for broken funny boys with eyes that sparkle and a smile that can heal the whole goddamn universe.

-----

“Okay what the fuck?” Jimin grabs at Jungkook’s arm, lifting it up to his face, “Why do you have so many cuts?”

His gaze dips to Jungkook’s legs and he eyes a few more, his brows pulling together, “What the fuck?”

“I’m just clumsy, fuck off.” Jungkook whines, pulling his arm out of Jimin’s grip. God, the asshole acted like a parent more than a best friend. He rubs at his wrist, tugging at the towel around his neck.

Appearing at Jimin’s front door half-wet and pink was something that took Jimin by surprise because the orange headed bastard had taken one look at Jungkook and then had gone, “Fucking hell don’t tell me you’ve got yourself a boyfriend.”

The answer was written all over Jungkook’s face so he didn’t have to verbally confirm anything. Jimin had whistled low under his breath and then had pulled the younger boy in, shoving him into the shower and then giving him a change of clothes.

“Clumsy?” he barks out a laugh then jabs at Jungkook, “You’re not the slightest bit clumsy.” 

The younger boy ignores Jimin, walking over to the windowsill to dry his hair. Jimin just watches after him, he doesn’t know why but there’s something different about Jungkook. It’s not his physical body, it’s something in his heart’s that’s giving him a different aura. He’s happier, smiling and laughing more often.

Sometimes Jimin catches him looking into the distance and then grinning. People do that, Jungkook used to do that (although it was more for actually staring into space than recalling some distant memory) but this time round, Jimin has this nagging feeling that Jungkook’s searching  for something, or he’s waiting. Jimin’s not sure, but it’s irking him.

Jungkook’s not himself and he knows that a part of him’s bitterly envious of the fact that it had been some other guy- Taehyung- to lift Jungkook’s spirits and not him (you see Jimin’s been trying for years and he’s never once gotten through to the younger boy).

He also can’t keep his eyes away from the scabs all over Jungkook’s body. The kid’s always been scarred, but lately it’s been increasing and Jimin’s not sure if it’s because of his own clumsiness (last Jimin checked, Jungkook could hold himself on pointe and not fall over) or if his father’s hitting him harder. Jungkook’s a collection of them, he can point at one and tell you exactly where he’d gotten them.

But as Jimin points at an open wound on Jungkook’s elbow- clean and pink- the younger boy doesn’t give him a proper reply. He looks at it, grimaces and says, “It’s just a tiny scar stop fussing it’s gross.”

Jimin’s gut churns with uncertainty. Has Jungkook been hurting himself?

One look at how Jungkook’s happily typing away on his phone (he smiles like his soul’s on fire and his eyes glitter like the night sky’s in them) and Jimin throws those thoughts away.

Jungkook’s just happy, he’s got a boyfriend, his father comes home less. Jimin should be happy, but he isn’t. He’s staring at his best friend, lost words printed on the tip of his tongue.

I love you.

When Jungkook looks up at him, eyes still shining from when he’d been texting Taehyung (it puts a burn in Jimin’s chest) Jimin’s at a loss for words, breath lost somewhere in the beats of his heart. 

“Let’s play Fifa.” 

Jimin nods.

The game ends up with Jungkook falling asleep mid match and Jimin figures that it’s because he’d spent most of the day with Taehyung. Jimin looks at Jungkook’s sleeping face (there’s anxiety written all over it, burned into the creases of his skin, blatantly obvious to the human eye).

He pulls a blanket over the sleeping boy, grazing his fingers over a scar on Jungkook’s cheekbone (Jungkook had been eight and he’d fallen off a table while playing lava with Jimin). The raven head squirms a little, brows pulling together before Jimin sighs and whispers, “Asshole.” and walks away.

-----

Jungkook wakes up screaming and as he does, Jimin comes running out of his room, blanket draped awkwardly around his shoulders and heart sprinting in his chest. He sees Jungkook at the way his eyes are wide and the veins in his neck are popping out against red skin, he sees the way he’s staring into nothing and his fingers are curled like claws.

His screams reflect like glass, and Jimin hears it everywhere, ringing in his ears, in the deepest parts of him.

He’s never heard Jungkook scream like this before and a part of Jimin shatters into tiny pieces.

Jimin drops down in front of him, knees slamming against the floor painfully but that’s the least of his worries. He grabs for Jungkook’s face, bringing it close to him and gives him one hard shake, his heart sputtering wildly, “Jungkook. Look at me. Look. At. Me.” 

And Jungkook does but his gaze is wild and distant and unfocused, marked with terror that Jimin’s never seen before. Jungkook can’t even get words out, he’s wheezing and gasping and his face is red. He’s looking right into Jimin’s eyes but at the same time it’s like he’s looking at something else, something terrifying and violent.

Was it a dream? Is he still on the endings of a dream, caught between it and waking up to reality?

“Jungkook repeat after me,” Jimin tries because his voice is cracked and broken like Jungkook’s soul. It’s been so long since Jimin’s had to deal with one of Jungkook’s panic attacks, “Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Ji-”

“T-T-Taehyu-ng...” Jungkook sputters, fingers flailing against Jimin’s shirt like he’s trying to grab on to it but he can’t find anything, “H-he’s h-hurt h-he’s all al-alone.”

“He’s fine, Jungkook he’s fine. Jimin tries to reason but it’s like screaming into the void and hoping for an answer in return. Jungkook’s lost between the spaces of reality and his nightmare.

“No n-no you don’t u-under-st-stand.” Jungkook’s eyes are scarlet webs and brimming with his fear, “T-Taehy-ung’s... I-I... he’s hu-hurt.”

“No he’s not,” Jimin says firmly, breathing in an out and grabbing on to Jungkook’s chin forcibly so that he’s looking squarely into Jimin’s dark eyes, “It’s just a dream. Jungkook, it’s just a dream.”

“N-no... he’s hi-his fa-ther’s hi-hit-ting him. He’s a-all alone h-he... he’s d-dying.” 

Something clogs at Jimin’s throat. Something hard and painful.

Oh god.

“It’s just a nightmare.” Jimin reasons again, his grip softening but Jungkook shakes his head and in one fluid movement, shoves Jimin away. He watches the younger boy reach for his phone and access the screen, his eyes wide and shining. Jungkook trembles like there’s an earthquake inside him, tearing him apart from within.

“Oh no.” Jungkook’s muttering, his hands shaking so much he can’t seem to hold on to his phone- or as Jimin sees, his sanity. Jungkook’s a mess and Jimin’s never seen him in such a state of panic over someone else before. He’s seen Jungkook panic over his mother, his grades, undone homework. But he’s never seen Jungkook look like his entire life’s gone. He’s never seen Jungkook cry for someone like this before.

Jungkook turns to Jimin, eyes wide and shining and unfocused in the darkness of the room. Jimin wants to protest, to tell him it’s a dream. It’s a dream, it’s a dream, it’s a dream.

Jungkook it’s a fucking dream, get a grip!

But Jungkook’s flashing the screen at Jimin but he can’t see anything because it’s too bright and the room’s too dark and then he’s slamming his fingers against it, pointing at something and shakily wheezes, “He’s h-hurt.”

Jimin watches Jungkook lose himself to the panic, eyes wide and trembling because Jimin doesn’t know what to do.

And then Jungkook’s jumping to his feet, looking at the front door and then running out of the house, screaming “Taehyung! Taehyung!” into the unforgivable distant night and Jimin’s chasing after him, his heart lodged in the middle of his throat, shaking violently. He dashes after the younger boy, in the middle of the night, in the middle of his trembling heart.

Jimin wants to cry because Jungkook’s so hurt

And it’s not the physical kind anymore. Jungkook loves Taehyung with his entire soul and while it’s shattering Jimin’s heart, it’s shattering Jungkook as well.

“Jungkook be careful!” is all Jimin can scream into the night because Jungkook’s much faster than him and there’s a stitch forming on Jimin’s side and his breath is hot and painful in his airways.

There’s a busy intersection up ahead and it worries Jimin because Jungkook’s not going to stop. He’s not going to stop until he’s by Taehyung’s side.

“JUNGKOOK!” Jimin screams, feeling his voice tear and his feet trip over themselves, “Jungkook come back! Come back!”

Come back to me, I ’ll keep you safe.

But Jungkook doesn’t stop and the busy intersection comes into view. Jimin can hear the cars, hear the sound of wheels against tar, can hear beeping and honking. He can hear his own violent heart thundering in his ears, can hear his voice call out to Jungkook one final time.

He stops, eyes wide and heart freezing in his chest as Jungkook runs through the busy intersection, cars coming to an abrupt halt in front of him. Jungkook’s hands lift, and he apologises several times as he makes his way across and then he’s running and running and running.

Jimin watches Jungkook disappear into the distance, cars and road separating them. The fucker’s made it across safely but Jimin can’t help himself when he thinks that Jungkook would have never done this.

And it worries Jimin because Jungkook’s happy and he’s in love.

But there’s something else, something he can’t quite place and his heart’s shaking because of that.

-----

Chapter Text

Help me, help me, Jungkook help me!

Everything hurts, from his breath to his legs to the corners of his eyes, everything hurts. This hurt doesn’t come in the from of a physical pulse, no, it’s ten times worse, ten times more painful, ten times more real.

Because he’s running with his heart screaming for Taehyung.

He breathes and it’s Taehyung he beats and it’s please be safe. Because he knows Taehyung is in pain, he knows that Taehyung’s covered in blood and choking on his own cries, he knows because Taehyung’s whispering his name from torn lips.

Jungkook knows and the night’s not getting any easier. His feet tear into the earth, his lungs scream. 

I ’m coming, Taehyung I’m coming.

So he runs even with the remnants of a panic attack etched to the insides of his throat, he runs even when his eyes are blurring and his calves throbbing.

The stars are out tonight, but so is Jungkook’s tepid heart and there’s nothing that can possibly calm down the younger boy from running aimlessly into the night. He’d been vaguely aware of Jimin screaming behind him, had barely heard the older boy plead for him to stop. Jimin doesn’t know, Jimin cannot possibly know.

Jimin’s never loved someone the way Jungkook loves Kim Taehyung and he will never understand the terror and panic coursing viciously through Jungkook’s veins. Jungkook’s been living in the dark for so long and he craves it because it’s all he’s ever known, because it had been familiar. He’d never felt the need to venture out of the ever constant gloom because it had felt comfortable against the curves of his skin. Light is something he hadn’t known well and safety and light scare him more than any other thing because he doesn’t know it, he doesn’t know how to erase the bleakness of his soul. 

But Taehyung had come and he is light in every aspect- from the tips of his hairs to the base of his feet he is magnificence untold. Jungkook’s finally learnt that light isn’t terrifying or unfamiliar, light is light and it has the power to brighten up any dark surface it touches.

Taehyung had touched him and he’d been illuminated.

He sees Taehyung- or he doesn’t see Taehyung because he sees a man, screaming into the night, feet kicking into grass and Jungkook’s panic and fear turn into something deeper, something terrifying.

He’s burning. Anger’s a flourishing violent river, and it froths a bright unblinking scarlet.

He doesn’t stop, because in the midst of the turmoil in his head, the ringing in his ears, the twinkling of the stars and the screaming man he hears a soft, nearly melodic broken cry going, “Abeoji, abeoji stop.”

There’s an earthquake within Jungkook, his bones rattling and shaking against each other like an out of tune wind-chime. They stagger against his organs, puncturing and pricking, rubbing raw against muscle. His breathing’s ragged, breaths chasing after one another too quickly and even if he reaches out to grab one, his fingers can never reach it.

He gasps, he claws and then he dives in.

Jungkook’s fingers curl and they land against soft skin and then his knee connects with skin and bones. There’s a cry from the man, and he reeks of cigarettes and alcohol, he reeks of disaster and temperament and failure. Jungkook thinks of his father, thinks about how the alcohol’s turned him into a monster and for the first time in his life, he thinks that his father’s a bad person. There’s no reconciliation or explanation, he’d shattered important parts of his own son and there is no need for the young boy to accept it or forgive him.

He’d been a good man, he’d treated Jungkook like a son but the moment he’d turned to drink- no matter how much pain he’d been in, no matter how broken he’d been- Jungkook hadn’t deserved to die every time his father came home, he didn’t deserve to shatter or break or have most of his childhood fall away into bad memories and darkness.

He’d deserved better. He’d deserved an actual life, an actual story. Fuck being a passerby or Person 1 in his own life, he was meant to be the fucking main character and nothing else.

Jungkook grabs the collar of the man’s shirt and he glares monstrously into a pair of dark eyes that appear eerily just like Taehyung’s, eerily like his own father’s and he smashes his forehead against the man’s face, feeling his nose break and blood splatter against his face. Jungkook’s all rage and no human, and any given part of his soul’s turned black.

Because Kim Taehyung’s whimpering in pain and he’s coughing up blood all alone so there’s no way, no fucking way that Jungkook’s going to leave this man in one piece.

Jungkook’s burning, with rage, with terror, with anxiety burnt deep into his veins but he’s functioning solely on instinct and there’s a part of him that chants kill him, kill him, kill him,

The man fights back, obviously, but every time he swings, Jungkook ducts and every time he shouts Jungkook grins into his face. They communicate with fists, dancing around one another like two animals in heat.

Except this fever is savage and one of them isn’t going to leave in one piece.

The man reaches for Jungkook but the younger boy catches the fist, twists it hard enough with no light in his eyes.

There’s a vicious crack that resounds in the air followed by a violent scream and the man reaches for his broken arm only to have Jungkook reach in for one last attack and then he’s down, just a result of the toxic weave of alcohol and poisonous rage.

Jungkook breathes in, breathes out hard. The man’s covered in cuts, bruises and blood.

He doesn’t feel any remorse, not even when his knuckles are torn open and blue, not when he spits out scarlet or feels the sting of open wounds against his skin. He turns and rushes to Taehyung’s side, seeing him lie motionless in the middle of tall grass. 

He drops down, fingers trembling. The fear’s finally caught up to the rage and it’s blindingly powerful in Jungkook’s heart. It pounds, sputters and screams because Kim Taehyung’s so bloody and so pale like the moon and still Jungkook doesn’t know what to do. He presses his ear against Taehyung’s chest, feeling the hard pound of his heart, feeling it stammer and whisper against his ear.

And he’s crying because Taehyung’s alive, he’s alive and he’s alright. 

Jungkook doesn’t like to cry but with Taehyung he feels like it’s okay. Like it’s okay to give in to fear and sadness and not feel ashamed. He doesn’t hear his father screaming “You’re weak! You’re weak!” in his ears or see dark eyes that Jungkook can find on himself. He doesn’t have to remember that even though he doesn’t think he’s lonely, he feels like he’s a separate entity in the universe and that watching people laugh and breathe doesn’t make his heart tremble in his chest.

He feels fingers against his head and then in his hair, cold-tipped fingers that quiver against his scalp.

And then soft, nearly inaudible laughter. Taehyung’s stomach moves along with it and Jungkook’s burying his head into Taehyung’s chest, covering his face because he’s so relieved he doesn’t know what to feel.

(Technically relief comes in the form of hysterical bubbling in his chest and he doesn’t think it would be quite appropriate to chortle manically into the night.)

“You came to me,” Taehyung says, voice like boulders rubbing against each other, like someone’s rubbing sandpaper from within his throat. Jungkook can’t believe how much it makes him contented to hear that broken whisper of Taehyung’s.

“Of course.” his voice cracks like lightning and he lifts his head, seeing that Taehyung’s looking at him with a small smile across torn lips and a swollen eye, “Of course I came for you. Fuck you.”

Taehyung’s laughing again.

He adjusts himself against Taehyung, staring up into the night sky. He’d wanted to see the sun rise with him and then the sun set, and here it is, the beginnings of a new day, the beginnings of healing.

Because they both have known loss like the sharp edges of a knife, and have survived with more scar tissue than skin. Falling in love had obviously not been part of Jungkook’s plan because he’d fallen in love with Taehyung in the middle of pushing broken pieces of himself back in place, he’d fallen in love with Taehyung like a miracle and he guesses that that’s how they’re both going to heal.

Jungkook knows that he’s not the first person Taehyung’s loved, but he is the first person that he’s looked at with a mouth full of forevers and the universe printed in his gaze.

Jungkook wants to kiss Taehyung with absolve, to wrap his broken arms around the older boy and press his lips against his skin and promise him the safety of the galaxies.

Jungkook wants to write poems (and god knows he hates sappy poems) to the beat of Taehyung’s heart and compile a list full of words describing Taehyung and his smile and that godforsaken mole on the tip of his nose that’s always driving Jeon Jungkook half mad.

Because he is not afraid of Taehyung’s scars and neither is Taehyung scared of his and they don’t look at each other like they’re both made of glass, and even on days like these when one of them’s just shattered and lost they’re not afraid to fall into each other and hold on to what they can.

Jungkook’s tracing an old scar on Taehyung’s arm, running the tips of his fingers over the raised pink flesh and he smiles because he hadn’t planned to fall in love with Kim Taehyung but he’d do it over and over and over again.

-----

His mother’s eyes are wide when he walks through the door. She takes in the scars, the torn flesh, dried blood against his skin and then runs to him, throwing her soft arms around his body and pressing his head to her stomach. 

He feels the thunder of her heartbeat against him and he closes his eyes, it’s good. It’s all good.

“Someone I love got hit, eomma.” Jungkook says in a small voice because she’s begun to shake and Jungkook’s hugging her back, feeling the familiar curve of bones and skin and closing his eyes.

“Baby, baby.” She’s repeating, planting kisses all over his head and then his face and then she looks at him and she’s saying, “You’re so strong, you’re so strong.” 

Jungkook thinks so too but he smiles slowly and then says, “So are you, eomma.”

And his mother’s looking down at him, wondering what kind of miracle had entered her son’s life because he’d been dragging his feet around for years, the weight of his hurt evidently crushing him.

But now, he’s shining brighter than ever before and while she wants to hold on to that, there’s some part of him that’s different and she can’t place it. Nonetheless, she strokes his raven hair, so dark it’s almost blue and says, “I love you.”

Her son says it again and her eyes brim with tears because it’s been years since she’s heard him say that to her.

-----

Jimin’s laying upside down on his couch, multi-tasking between watching the television, munching on a hot-dog and checking his phone for calls from the one and only, king of disappearance, Jeon Jungkook.

It’s been three fucking days and honestly he doesn’t know why he’s waiting in the first place. The asshole’s made it very clear that he’d run out- mid panic attack- to find this Kim Taehyung.

Honestly (and Jimin’s saying this not because he might be hopelessly in love with his best friend or anything) Jungkook should have found someone who isn’t  covered in as much scars as himself. 

After all, two broken people falling in love is a catastrophe, it’s a catalyst for trouble and danger and Jimin’s pretty sure that they were going to tear each other apart instead of fix themselves up and he fears that they might end up as mere shells of their previous selves with nothing that could possibly save them.

Because two broken people have only known how to break and there is no way that someone as shattered as Jeon Jungkook could know what to do in order to fix up someone like Kim Taehyung.

Or maybe someone like Kim Taehyung wouldn’t know how to fix up someone like Jeon Jungkook.

Well whatever.

Either way it’s troubling Park Jimin to the point where he finds himself checking his phone even in the shower or in the middle of the night. He’s not sure if Jungkook’s alright or not, but whatever it is- it shouldn’t be bothering him, right?

(I mean, if you remove the fact that Park Jimin might be hopelessly in love with his best friend or anything.)

(Who is he kidding, Park Jimin’s a mess because Jungkook hasn’t called in three days.)

He shoves the remainder of the hot-dog in his mouth, feeling the soggy bread against the inner linings of his cheeks and then stares at the television where a very handsome Chris Evans throws his shield at some aliens.

God, he’s been playing this stupid ass movie for two days (a part of him hopes Jungkook would come running in to see Iron-Man since he likes him so much) and he’s starting to get rather sick of it, which is unfortunate because he’d seen this movie so many times with Jungkook that he’s memorised every last bit (including Captain America’s fine ass) of it.

He grumbles, changing positions so that he won’t choke to death and rolls his shoulders the exact moment his phone rings.

An olympic diver would be jealous, honestly, because Jimin dives for it cleanly, picking up the phone and answering with an incredibly perky, “Hey there!” without even glancing at the caller ID.

The voice on the other end kills his spirit immediately because it isn’t the soft melodic voice of Jungkook, it’s an older gruff male going, “Is this Park Jimin?” as though someone had pissed into his coffee.

To which he answers, shoulders sagging and chest painful because he’d swallowed his hot-dog so quickly he’s sure that his oesophagus hadn’t expanded in time to accommodate the half-chewed bread and meat.

It’s an officer, which surprises Jimin because he’s never gotten a call from the police station before. He thinks back to all the things he could have done to get into trouble. Did he not pay that library fine in time? Or was it because that one time he’d bought beer and not shown his ID? (Okay in his defence the cashier hadn’t asked.)

But it’s not either of those, the officer explains that they’d found Jungkook’s wallet by the side of the road (Jimin assumes it was on that day when he’d run out to find Taehyung) and that there had been a piece of paper inside with his number on it. 

When Jungkook had gotten his first phone, Jimin had written his number and had asked Jungkook to keep it in his wallet, in case it goes missing (and it certainly has).

“Uh... could you just mail it over to me?” Jimin says, rolling back onto the couch. His body relaxes into the cushions, feeling warm and cozy and extremely lazy once again. He hasn’t done anything productive this summer other than just waste his life away.

“We’ll need you to come down, there’s something you need to see.”

Jimin’s lips pull down. Well, well. Police officers these days must be rather proud of their jobs if they need you to come down to check the contents of the missing item. Jimin nods, impressed with the police officers of the twenty-first century, going “Sure give me half an hour.”

Half an hour later he’s at the station, sitting down irritably in front of two officers stabbing away at keyboards. He didn’t know stations were actually this busy (TV shows always made them out to be rather deserted) so he observes people walk in to make reports and officers walking around to do their jobs. Jimin wonders if he should switch majors to criminology, it seems interesting.

He’s also disappointed that he hasn’t spotted a single cop with donuts and coffee in their hands. Way to kill his stereotyping thoughts on police officers.

He leans back in the uncomfortable grey plastic chair, observing the face of the officers in front of him. They’re all hard lines and thin, cold eyes. They look exactly like the cops on TV, although he suspects that if he told them that he’d offend them.

Jimin really wouldn’t want to end up in jail.

“This is the wallet.” one of the officers (this one has a moustache) says as he hands it over. Jimin takes it, flips it open and then looks through the contents. Everything seems to be intact (he’s making guesses here, because Jungkook’s ID as well as his cash and cards are all in there).

“Thanks.” Jimin says, pocketing the object but just as he wants to get up, the other officer stops him.

“You’ll have to see this.” and he turns the computer to face Jimin. 

Jimin doesn’t think anything in the goddamn universe can prepare him for this.

-----

Chapter Text

Hoseok’s teaching this old grandmother how to do a hip thrust when Park Jimin runs in, nearly knocking him over if not for the old granny who- for some reason- manages to catch Hoseok.

It’s comical really, Hoseok’s beginning to think that this old lady isn’t actually sick because she actually winks at him and gives him a cheeky grin.

Jimin’s breathing heavy, one hand pressed to Hoseok’s shoulder and another to his chest as he breathes in and out raggedly. One look at him tells Hoseok that he’s either run long distance or sprinted a shorter one because Jimin looks like he needs some bottled air to keep him from collapsing. His cheeks are all red like roses and his eyes a little unfocused. His vibrant orange hair is all blown away from his face.

“I... Need to see Min Yoongi.” he’s wheezing out, speaking between gasps of air, fingers curling into Hoseok’s shoulder like he has to anchor himself to something. Hoseok winces, but catches the look of pure terror on Jimin’s face and nods at him. Hoseok’s still rather new to this hospital but in the few short months he’s been here, he’s seen Jimin and his friend, Jungkook wander in like he’s visiting the local convenience store.

Yoongi had filled him in on the backbone of their story: Jungkook’s father uses his fists, Jungkook doesn’t fight back.

Hoseok pities the kid, but he also understands why he wouldn’t fight back. In every blackened soul there’s always a small microscopic dot of hope, and hope is truly a loud thing. No matter how tiny, it has the effect of taking root in your heart. Jungkook must have been hoping for many years that his father might change.

Hoseok wants to be a source of hopes for his patients.

He peeks a look at Jimin, noting the tremble of his hands and his lips. Hoseok wants to put his arm around Jimin and tell him that whatever it is that’s making him shake that way would eventually be okay, but he’s not sure of what’s wrong in the first place and he’s not sure if everything in the universe would be okay. Hoseok’s been told that he’s extremely optimistic for someone who’s dreaming of becoming a doctor, but he’s also been told that a doctor can’t always make promises that their patients will be okay.

It’s funny because Hoseok’s a firm believer in ‘okays’. Even if the patient is about to die, he’d still say it’s okay. You’ve lived your life well so it’s okay to die, you’re going to lose your battle to cancer but it’s okay.

You won’t die with unfinished business or lay on a deathbed with uncertainty once you accept that everything is okay.

Hoseok doesn’t know if whatever it is that’s making Jimin look like he’s got nothing left on earth would be alright, but he tells Jimin “It’s going to be okay.” and catches Jimin’s clear sclera turn salmon pink.

“I don’t know.” is all Jimin says as they round the corner, passing nurses and patients that smile a greeting at Hoseok. 

“Here we are.” Hoseok finally says, coming to a halt in front of a brown door with a sign that reads Min Yoongi. He takes another look at Jimin’s face, noting little beads of sweat rolling down his temples and the way his shoulders quiver before pushing the door open.

Yoongi looks up from whatever he’s been reading and then eyes Jimin walk through, steps unsteady and expression clearly telling the good doctor that something’s terribly amiss.

“Well good afternoon carrot head.” Yoongi says, and then mentally cringes because he knows the mood’s not going to be good but his mouth’s decided to take charge this time. It only means one thing: caffeine.

“Hey dickhead.” he calls out to his intern who turns to look at him. Hoseok usually does this with a bright smile and a slight jump but this time he turns and looks with worry written across his face. Yoongi feels his chest constrict and then clears his throat cursing his misguided mouth and thinks that maybe coffee at this time isn’t all that appropriate after all, “Stay.”

This puts a small smile across Hoseok’s face.

“Jimin,” Yoongi says in all seriousness now, “What’s the matter?” the air’s already thick and heavy with languor, and there’s a tick under Yoongi’s left eye (according to Seokjin it means that something bad’s going to happen). He’s also seen Jimin terrified, upset, frightened. But he’s never seen it to this extent before, never seen it engraved so deeply into the corners of his eyes, the hollows of his cheeks.

Jimin looks absolutely hollowed out, his eyes are distant and vacant, his lips pulled down. He blinks at Yoongi and then pulls out a thumb drive from his pocket and slides it across the desk. Yoongi stares curiously at the little black drive, noting how Jimin’s fingers had trembled like they had little earthquakes in them when he’d done the small action.

Yoongi takes it, flipping it between his fingers and then asks, “What’s in this?”

Jimin blinks and the whites of his eyes redden.

He just looks so unbearably sad.

Yoongi doesn’t think Jimin wants to talk all that much right now so he silently plugs in the drive into the computer and waits for it to get detected before clicking on it.

There’s only one video file in the two gigabyte thumb drive so he selects that and waits for it to play.

Three seconds in and he looks at Hoseok before choking out, “Call Namjoon. Now.

-----

“How long has he been seeing this boy?” Namjoon asks, carefully detailing the contents of the video, elbow pressed against the desk and long fingers rubbing against his thick lower lip. He pauses the video- right where Jeon Jungkook is seen throwing his fist into air- and then brings his steady gaze to meet Park Jimin’s. The orange haired boy seems lost in his own world, but Namjoon’s voice (Seokjin says it does have an effect on people) brings him back to present day.

“Uh... several months now. I...” Jimin’s head spins and then his eyes widen, “That time... the... the first time he got admitted here he whispered the name Taehyung.

“That was a few years ago.” Yoongi adds in, kneading at the space between his brows. Goddamn it, he should’ve known that that kid couldn’t possibly be alright after years and years of abuse.

“And you say he’s been hurting himself?” Namjoon enquires, clicking play on the video. Jungkook continues to thrash at air, flinging himself at nothing and then pausing, turning around looking worried.

It doesn’t take an idiot to see him mouth Taehyung from the grainy CCTV footage.

“I... I don’t know... but he’s got more scars,” Jimin licks his lips, “More open cuts and they’re not from his father.” 

Namjoon nods his head, “I can’t give you a perfect diagnosis here, so I can’t immediately tell you that he’s a schizophrenic or anything.” he looks at Jimin, noting how the boy’s shoulders sag in mild relief, “But from what I can see, he is suffering from psychosis and hallucinations are a clear indication of a larger problem. He believes Taehyung is real?”

Jimin nods. “He texts him and calls him as well... god,” he’s so defeated, “Why didn’t I realise...”

“It’s not your fault,” Namjoon says- he’s the only one in the entire room who’s entirely calm and constant- he has to be if not Jimin’s just going to blow up, “I’ll have to see him to give a proper diagnosis, but from what I can tell...” there’s silence, anticipation.

Namjoon looks Jimin square in the eyes and he says, “There is a very high possibility that he might be a schizophrenic.”

Yoongi sighs out, feeling a little deflated. He’s not sure why he feels so... disappointed in himself.

“We’ll have to hospitalise him immediately.” Namjoon gives Yoongi a look and the other blonde doctor nods. Jimin drops his head into his hands and his shoulders shake.

How could he have not known? How could he have not seen

Jungkook’s not tough. Jungkook pretends to be tough and emo and cool but all this time he’s probably been trying to hold himself together and failing so miserably. He’s probably been trying his hardest to fix the important broken parts of himself.

How broken are you Jeon Jungkook and why didn’t you tell me?

“He’s going through a psychosis where his reality is severely distorted at this point.” Namjoon says, “He believes that this Taehyung is real when he’s not and I’m making an assumption here but it’s perhaps because of his inability to cope with the abuse and torment. Taehyung’s a creation of his brain that he can protect when he can’t do it for himself. The more he wants to protect Taehyung the more he’s going to hurt himself and-”

“Ultimately the need for protecting his hallucination is going to lead him to death.” Hoseok says softly, like a little hum in the room. Yoongi observes the sad drop of his shoulders and reaches for him, giving the intern a small pat.

Hoseok smiles, sad, but still a smile.

“How are we going to hospitalise him? I haven’t been able to contact him for three days.” Jimin expresses, eyes wide and shining, cheeks stained with little linear marks of his tears. His heart’s hurting so much, hurting and hurting and hurting, “He’s fucking in love with him!”

“We’ll arrange for an ambulance tonight but you have to get him here. EMTs will be there on standby and so will I, Jimin do you understand me? Whatever it is, you must bring him in.”

Jimin’s lips part but nothing comes out.

“Jungkook’s losing grip of reality,” Namjoon’s voice is softer, like the edges of a rubber ball and his eyes are fluid and warm, he reaches across the table to pat Jimin’s shorter fingers, “And if you love him as much as I think you do, you’ll drag his ass here. It’s going to be tough, I know, but you’ll have to inform his mother. Jimin can you do this?”

Forty minutes later Jimin’s on the phone, biting his lip so hard he can taste blood as Jungkook’s mother sobs on the other end and there’s nothing they can do but hope that Jungkook will be alright.

-----

Taehyung says he wants to run away, to somewhere with an open field like the grassland in front of Jungkook’s house. He says he wants to go there with his mother and start afresh. He says this while looking up into the sky, a small smile spread across his face. He rubs at his wrist, and now thinking about it, Jungkook realises he does that a lot.

“Does your wrist hurt?” He finds himself asking, reaching for Taehyung’s but the older boy pulls it away gently saying, “Nah, it’s just a little rigid.”

The raven head reaches out to touch Taehyung’s scars, noting that in just a few days they’ve significantly healed and disappeared. Jungkook’s own scars, on the other hand, need a lot more time.

He’s staring up into the sky, lifting his hands out to them. There are scabs coating his knuckles- all torn and blue-yellow at this point. Jimin’s been calling him for days but he hasn’t bothered picking up.

He just wants to be with Taehyung, just wants to feel his skin against his, feel his heart against his.

Taehyung presses his lips against Jungkook’s shoulder, then mouths, “I’m going to run away tonight with my mom.”

“Run where?” Jungkook asks, turning his head so his mouth’s at the top of Taehyung’s milk chocolate hair, “You can’t just run with nowhere to go.” they stay in silence for a while, listening to the sound of the river and then birds. Their fingers are tangled with each other, like knots that would take forever to undo. 

Jungkook thinks of forever and he’s okay with that. He thinks of forever and he sees Taehyung’s smiling face, he thinks of forever and he imagines waking up to the sound of the river and his skin’s free of markings.

He’s not going to let his father use his fists against him anymore, he’s not going to allow himself to curl into the weak shell that he is. He’s going to fight and he will fight until he can run away with nothing to hold him back.

Kill him if you have to.

“I love you.” Jungkook says and it doesn’t feel acidic or burning, it doesn’t feel wrong or awkward on his lips. It feels just right, like rolling wine on his tongue and swallowing it. There’s a buzz in his chest, all warm and tingly.

It’s like melting warm chocolate against his skin, like a nice shower after a hard day.

Jungkook grins into Taehyung’s eyes, drinking in all the brown in his gaze, seeing himself reflected in his eyes- all battered and broken but just right. It’s all right.

He met Taehyung and his unsettled heart finally found home.

Taehyung starts giggling and he’s once again that stupid man-child Jungkook had first met, eyes full of childlike mirth and lips that spread too wide across a battered face. He grins and chuckles and then points at the sky, his mouth running off like a train on full speed, describing everything. He says that the sky’s so light and pale and then compares it to Jungkook’s soul, saying that when they’d  first met Jungkook was the night sky and now he’s the afternoon’s celestial sphere. He looks at the birds and mentions how they’re no longer caged, but they’re free to go wherever they want to go.

He rubs at his wrist, laughing into Jungkook’s cheeks, planting little kisses on them. Taehyung’s full of kisses and Jungkook’s still learning to accept them but he doesn’t push the older boy away when he does so, solely because Jungkook feels like his soul’s on fire every time Taehyung touches him. He feels alive, he feels real.

Kim Taehyung’s so real it makes Jungkook’s heart swell.

“I love you too, emo kid. Taehyung chuckles, running his fingers over Jungkook’s bicep and turning the younger boy red.

Jungkook wants to kiss galaxies into Taehyung’s skin and that’s all he is contented with. 

Taehyung reaches for Jungkook’s nose where there’s a wound on it’s bridge, his fingers are gentle as they dance over it and then Taehyung says, “Now that you’re here, everything’s okay.”

Jungkook can’t agree more.

-----

His father’s home, and he can hear his mother’s terrified screams from inside the house. They enter Jungkook’s swirling around his body and he feels terror and rage like never before.

Not today.

He runs inside, there is a storm- no a hurricane- tearing through his body leaving only fury in his chest and he doesn’t know what to do with it except that there’s a shout on the tip of his fucking tongue and rage burning in his eyes and through the tips of his fingers. He wants to curse and scream but that’s not going to work, not now because he walks into the house and his father’s slapping his filthy palms against his mother’s face and her nose is broken.

Today is one of the worser days and Jungkook’s ready to fucking fight. 

Jeon Jungkook’s a cracked damn holding up all his emotions and today it’s breaking, piece by piece this carefully crafted structure is falling apart and the feelings are rising over the top like a tsunami wave, tearing the foundations and crumbling them to the ground, brick by brick. And suddenly he doesn’t know how to talk with words, he only knows how to talk with fists so as his father lifts his drunken hand to hit his mother he pushes into him with his entire weight, toppling the drunkard over and then slamming him into a wall.

They crack it, photo frames and shelves falling off of it. Jungkook’s a loose screw, his visions scarlet and his blood’s pumping with furious rigour.

His fists meet his father’s face in a hello, and then his foot in a goodbye. The hard soles of his boots meet soft tissue and he’s kicking and kicking and he can’t stop, he won’t stop because he’s sick and tired of getting beaten up. He’s sick and tired of allowing his drunken father to overpower him.

He’s tired to closing himself up into a bubble of desolation, destroying himself from within. He’s sick and tired of being a shattered teacup because shattered things cannot be put together once again.

So he kicks and he punches and he’s breaking parts of his father’s face- his nose, his jaw, his cheekbones.

He thrashes like an animal out of it’s cage, like a violent bolt of lightning aiming to destroy everything that it touches because today Jeon Jungkook is going to end everything once and for all.

His father shouts, shoving Jungkook off and then grabbing his shirt, wrinkling it at the collar, glaring into the manic boy’s eyes.

Jungkook remembers his father, smiling at him with a curve of his lips, saying, “Jungkook I love you my son.” he remembers his father reaching for him, pulling him into a hug when he’d fallen down and his knee was sore and bleeding, he remembers his father holding him with all the warmth in the world. He used to feel safe in his father’s arms, he used to feel like he could conquer the world.

But his father had turned to drink when times got bad and then he turned to drink when times were good and soon drinking was his life and Jungkook was nothing more than another form of release for his father. The first time he’d gotten hit Jungkook had crawled into his father’s arms and he’d whispered, “I’m sorry for hitting you.” but then it had happened again and again and his father no longer apologised because he became a slave to his addiction and Jungkook was nothing to him anymore.

Jungkook smiles at his father, saying Come fight me bastard and his father answers with a fist to his teeth and then a foot to his stomach. Jungkook collapses, getting his sides kicked in over and over. There’s a crack that echoes in Jungkook’s ears and ah there goes my rib before he rolls over, grabbing on to his father’s foot and then shoving, making the man fall over the table with a shriek, destroying it in the process with a crash.

Jungkook gets to his feet unsteadily, feeling the world spin around him. He stops for the fraction of a second, eyeing his mother and the way she’s clutching at her wrist. He rubs his own and then gasps when his father lifts a piece of the broken shelf and slams it against the back of his head. He hits the ground, feeling wetness spread across the back of his head.

His mother’s screaming his name, screaming “Jungkook get out! Get out!” but he can’t move because his vision’s blurring and the rage is still scoring through his bloodstream like a thirsty bloodhound.

He feels his blood boil like it wants to explode and his fingers ache for destruction. He lifts himself off the ground only to get kicking down. He coughs and his lips stain with scarlet. 

It hurts, everything hurts.

Endure it. Endure it.

He’s good at enduring, Jungkook’s endured all his life and at this point all that endurance has stored in his cells only to burst out like a thousand magnificent diamonds full of fury and destruction.

But his mother’s still crying and Taehyung’s bleeding, oh god Taehyung’s bleeding and he’s screaming and he’s running with his mother. He can’t make it, he won’t make it, she’s as injured as he is and his father’s chasing after them.

Taehyung’s arm’s badly injured, it’s bleeding so badly.

Jungkook pushes himself to his feet, seeing his mother scream at him, she’s screaming and her eyes are wide with terror, she’s screaming “Stop it! Stop it you’ve hurt him so much! Stop it!”

But his father uses his fists and his violent mouth and Jungkook fights back by pushing him away with his entire body. 

He has to get to Taehyung. He has to get to Taehyung, he’s hurt so badly. He’s going to die, his father’s going to kill him. He’s going to die and if he dies what would happen to Jungkook? 

The drunkard lifts the piece of wood again but this time Jungkook sees his intentions and steps away, kicking at his leg. The man goes down, shrieking once again, arms and legs flailing.

Jungkook’s not human anymore, just a complete animal going by primal instinct. His head’s spinning, his vision blurring but he steps down as hard as he can against his father’s bloated belly and then he shoves his boots into his side over and over, repeatedly stepping and kicking until his father coughs up blood and goes still.

There’s silence, just complete utter silence until Jungkook turns his head at his mother’s voice and she’s screaming at him once again to run, run out of the house Jungkook just go! Just go!

Her eyes are wide and furious, filled with determination Jungkook’s never seen before. She looks at her unconscious husband with disdain, with disgust and she rises to her feet, blood dripping from her face, down her arms. Her hair’s all disheveled but she stands in the middle of a broken home, tall and strong appearing like a goddess amongst ruin.

Her gaze meets Jungkook and it’s full of vigour as she screams, “JUNGKOOK, RUN!

And as Jungkook looks at the doorway he sees Taehyung sprinting, holding on to his arm that dangles lifelessly by his side. His clothes are tattered and torn, soaked in his blood. He doesn’t even see Jungkook as he runs by and the younger boy can’t help himself when he shouts, “Taehyung!” and then runs outside.

There’s a distant wail of an ambulance and the houses at the end of the street glow in reds. He’s screaming, racing after Taehyung. The brunette’s crying, his eyes overflowing with the pain and sorrow. His arm’s broken in different places and his stomach’s ruptured.

He’s going to die at this rate and Jungkook will not allow it.

There is one force that’s greater than love and that is fear. Fear sinks it’s claws into your shoulders slowly and sits there, pricking you at times of weakness or when you’re unthinking. In it’s grip the strongest of people can only become puppets- slave to the blaring fear that’s got it’s grip in it.

“Taehyung!” He’s screaming into the night, reaching out but never being able to touch. Every time he tries to catch up with the source of the fire in his soul, he gets farther and farther away. Every time Jungkook tries to call out to him it’s like screaming into the void and getting nothing in return.

It’s like months before when Jungkook had run out of his house, his arm broken and useless by his side, when he’d screamed into the night for help only to get answered violently by a car against his body.

The sounds of the ambulance gets louder, piercing and exploding in Jungkook’s hysterical brain. He wheezes out, calling out to Taehyung once again.

And then there’s a sudden brutal roar that rips through it, powerful and loud enough to stop his heart for a moment.

It tears through the night, ripping apart the peace and quiet, stilling the tremor in Jungkook’s soul and throwing him off course. He falls, landing painfully on his shoulder and turns with his breath caught in his throat, seeing a burning castle, the flames swallowing and gulping every inch of wood and concrete and paint. It devours, chews, destroys and illuminates the darkness of the night. It stills everything in it’s wake, cackling and laughing and mocking at the universe.

His house is on fire and with it, everything inside. His eyes widen, panic ripping through him with a blunt knife so it stabs and cuts and cuts and cuts through tough flesh. His dark eyes widen, reflecting the golds and yellows of the vibrant and greedy flames.

“Eomma! Eomma!” He screams, unable to reach for the house because all the pain in his body’s caught up to him and he’s wheezing, “Eomma!”

And Taehyung’s still running, still torn apart in unfixable places and that goddamn ambulance is wailing so closely to his ears, wailing and screaming just like him and he doesn’t know what’s what or what’s happening anymore because everything’s just a mess and his heart’s tearing in important places.

“Taehyung!” he calls out, seeing the love of his life collapse, “Taehyung please! Taehyung!” he screams even when he feels someone drop beside him, wrapping arms around his head and bringing it to a chest.

“Jungkook, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” Jimin’s whispering even while Jungkook’s thrashing, throwing his arms out and screaming, “Taehyung! Eomma! Taehyung!”

He’s screaming, shoving at Jimin’s who’s got a vice-like grip on him, sobbing into the dark head of the boy he loves with his entire life, sobbing into the result of a crushed soul.

“Taehyung!” Jungkook screams when more people come, he’s biting at Jimin now, trying to get away.

Taehyung needs him, Taehyung is going to die. Taehyung is going to di-

Someone stabs at his arm and he screams, louder than anything before, tearing at his vocal chords. Jimin’s still sobbing, his house is burning and Taehyung collapses by the side of the road, eyes wide and unseeing, scarlet blooming across his stomach. He wheezes, lips parting and corner of his mouth dripping with scarlet. His chest rises and falls, small little actions, rises and falls.

Jungkook feels Taehyung’s heart sputter in his chest, feels it grapple on to life. He feels Taehyung’s chest dip, lower and lower until his gaze goes completely blank and he stills completely, like a boat in the middle of a calm vast ocean.

He doesn’t breathe, won’t breathe again.

Jungkook screams again, calling out for Taehyung but being unable to reach for him, he screams to gods of the universe to anyone, anything to save him. To save his light, to save his soul.

He’s screaming when his vision blurs between darkness and light, between Taehyung’s bleeding eyes and nose and lips and his gaze fixed and unfocused and cold.

Dead.

Jungkook’s eyes widen and then the world collapses on him, slowly at first and then all at once and he’s out.

The screaming’s stopped but the pain hasn’t.

-----

Chapter Text

Liars, they’re all liars.

“Jeon Jungkook.”

Liar. 

“Do you know why you’re here?”

Liars. They’re all goddamn liars.

“Where is Taehyung?”

Jungkook’s heart is rapidly fluttering, his muscles lethargic. He feels like someone’s opened up his body and poured hot glue into it, only to become hard and tacky, making it hard to move even the slightest bit. He feels present, but like he’s encased in a glass cage.

There are so many people, or maybe there aren’t but the room’s too full and Dr Kim Namjoon’s face is too close to his and Hoseok’s just watching on with a notepad opened up in his palm and a pen lodged between his fingers. Jungkook looks around slowly, taking in the cream walls of his ward room, the large wooden door that he won’t be able to get through with strength, he eyes the empty bed, cupboards. Comfort, this room will make you comfortable while you stay.

He feels like the IV drip inserted into his vein’s sucking out his life.

“Where is Taehyung?” Namjoon asks again and Jungkook blinks slowly, lips dry and grey and tearing. He licks at them, feeling the roughness under his tongue and then looks around the room again, eyeing Taehyung standing by the corner of the door, grinning at him with the entire universe in one smile. His eyes are glittering, his long fingers raised in a greeting. 

It’s hard not to smile back so Jungkook tries, hoping with everything that he could go over to the brunette and throw his arms around him. He wants to feel his soft skin, to press the top of his head under his chin, to kiss his lips.

But he can’t find the energy to do so.

So he reaches out, feeling an ache in his arm, in his heart for Taehyung, and the brunette reaches back, but they can’t touch. At least, they can’t touch now.

Namjoon follows the line of Jungkook’s arm, plotting a path and then shakes his head slowly, giving Yoongi’s intern a look. Hoseok nods slowly, writing more things down on his little notepad before making a turn and walking out of the room.

We did tests on you, Jungkook, and you’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Do you know what that means Jungkook? It means that you’re unwell, you have a mental disorder that makes you believe things that aren’t real.

Jungkook blinks, turns back to Dr Kim and wheezes, “I’m not sick.”

“Jungkook,” Namjoon says, reaching out for the boy. He knows that Jungkook wants to pull away but can’t because the medication’s numbing him and slowing him down and Namjoon knows that Yoongi’s outside the ward trying to console Park Jimin and Namjoon also knows that Jungkook’s got a long way to go before he can figure out that Kim Taehyung is, indeed, not real. When Namjoon follows the path of Jungkook’s gaze, notices that the younger boy’s trying to smile or say something, it’s to nothing but air, “When did you first meet Taehyung?”

Jungkook’s pale, eyes lined with red and bagged heavily. His lips are grey, gaze unfocused. He sits with a slump as though too tired to keep himself together. When they’d brought him in he’d been screaming, thrashing wildly. Namjoon won’t forget the look in his eyes, because he’d seemed like they were going to pop right out, like Jungkook’s limbs had been torn from his body while he watched.

Namjoon’s never seen panic and fear like that before and he’s had his fair share of schizophrenic patients.

“F-first?” his voice barely makes it past his lips and then he blinks, rubs his wrist, “A... long time... ago.” and then he’s looking off into that corner again, lips quivering, “He’s right there.”

And he points, at nothing to Kim Namjoon, at everything to Jeon Jungkook.

Why can’t you see him? He’s smiling right there?

“Jungkook,” Namjoon says slowly again, “He’s not real.”

“Liar.” Jungkook hisses, narrowing his eyes. They’re all liars. They’re all fucking liars.

Kim Taehyung’s real, he’s right there smiling back at him, right there looking at Jungkook with the sun in his gaze and a mouth full of forevers.

Taehyung’s real, he’s always been real. Always been there for Jungkook, always had held on to his broken heart and patched up the broken pieces. 

He’s real. He’s right there.

Jungkook doesn’t understand why no one else wants to see him, he doesn’t understand why they’re trying to tear them apart.

He’s real, he’s there. He’s always been there.

-----

Namjoon shakes his head when he walks out of the ward, closing the door softly behind him. He looks at Yoongi and Hoseok, standing by each other’s side and Jimin who’s sitting down with his head in his hands.

“He believes that Taehyung is real.” Namjoon says gravely, his shoulders sagging. He catches Jimin stiffen and moves to him, placing one hand against the small of his back, “His reality has been severely distorted Jimin, he doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not.”

“I know.” Jimin mutters, lifting his gaze to meet Namjoon’s, “What can we do?”

“Nothing.” Yoongi mutters savagely, narrowing his eyes at the ward’s door, “Fucking piece of shit, he has to figure it out himself and if that fucker doesn’t he’ll just be stuck in that ward forever.”

“Yoongi.” Hoseok says lowly, a warning, “Stop.”

“What?” Yoongi bursts out, “What? What? What? Scumbags. You’re all fucking scumbags!” and then he’s turning around, marching off into the hallway, throwing his hands up in the air roughly.

Namjoon and Jimin blink after him, completely at a loss for words.

“Uh,” Hoseok laughs flustered to lighten the atmosphere (the air’s too thick, too choking), scratching at the back of his head, “He’s guilty that he didn’t see this coming so he’s sorta... venting out.”

Namjoon can’t help the small smile that curves at his lips and then he goes, “Well run after your boyfriend, I’ve got some things I need to go over with Jimin here.”

The intern turns red and he’s about to say, “I’m not his boyfriend.” but Namjoon’s already talking to Jimin in a low voice and the atmosphere is back to it’s static deafness that Hoseok’s never liked so he turns and runs after his mentor, unable to calm the flames in his cheeks.

-----

Hoseok’s huffing by the time he reaches Yoongi’s office, walking in to see the blonde doctor with his fist pressed against his cheek and elbow against his desk. He’s glaring at something on his computer’s screen, unblinking with his lips set in a thin line.

It wouldn’t take an idiot to figure out that Yoongi’s angry- not at Jungkook or his job or anything- he’s angry at himself. He’d always known that there would be a psychological toll on the young boy, no one can endure that much torture and come out spotless, but schizophrenia? God, he’d always banked in on depression, but never really something like schizophrenia.

Kim Taehyung ’s a creation of himself, someone to protect, someone he wants to be so he can cope.

God, did that idiot think he was alone in all this? Did he think he could handle it all by keeping it to himself? Well what an idiot, what an absolute fucking idiot.

You should have paid more attention to him.

“Fucking hell!” Yoongi curses out loud, causing Hoseok to take a step back in shock. Yoongi stares at the intern, at the determined gleam in his eyes and barks, “You think he’ll pull through don’t you?”

Hoseok’s lips thin and he nods, Yoongi doesn’t know why this pisses him off so much so he gets on his feet and moves over to the intern, grabbing his collar and yanking him down so he can stare into those warm dark eyes of an overly optimistic asshole.

Yoongi hates idiots like Hoseok, who think that everything’s going to be alright. Yoongi might be in charge of the ER but he’s heard of schizophrenics before, he’s read about them (okay well not exactly, but in forty-eight hours he’d read up on what he needs to know when tackling a schizo patient) and it’s a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder

And Jungkook’s suffering from psychosis, going through positive (ha ha what a fucking joke, there’s nothing nearly positive about this) symptoms of the disorder where he’s encountering hallucinations. He’s seeing, feeling, hearing an entire being, someone conjured up from the deepest parts of his soul to help him cope with the pain and suffering.

Yoongi feels like he’s failed as a human- because goddamn it, he cares about that fucking boy and yet he’d done nothing even when he’d noticed that Jungkook doesn’t like talking to people or how cold and distant he appears to be.

“Of course.” Hoseok says defiantly, his chin tilting upwards as if to size up his mentor, “Don’t you? Aren’t you a doctor too? How can you believe that he’s a lost cause even before treatment’s started?”

“Because it’s been two weeks!” Yoongi spits exasperatedly, “Two fucking weeks! And Namjoon’s increased his dosage but he still believes that that Kim Taehyung thing is real!

“He’s still healing!” Hoseok storms back, eyes wide and cheeks reddened with anger, the always cool and calm intern’s lost it at this point because he’s sick of his negative Yoongi can be, he’s sick of Yoongi’s moods and having to smile after him.

Hoseok’s a person too and he’s not afraid of standing up to the doctor, because while Yoongi is fantastic as a doctor but he has so little faith. Hoseok’s a big fucking believer in ‘it’s okay’ and he thinks it’s okay for now, it’s okay that Jungkook still sees Taehyung, it’s okay that the treatment hasn’t been working because they’ve just started and starting it already a big goddamn step for Jungkook because it’s not like he’s refusing treatment.

“Goddamn it Yoongi! He’s going to be fine!”

Hoseok’s eyes are so wide and so clear when he says this, so bright like the goddamn sun it makes Yoongi want to puke because at this moment it’s like a light’s been lit from inside Hoseok’s face and he’s shining so bright Yoongi feels like he’s going to get burned.

So he kisses Hoseok- he’s not really sure why, maybe it’s all the pent-up rage, maybe it’s because Hoseok just looks so unbelievably good right then, but he kisses Hoseok and the intern makes a sound of utter surprise that Yoongi finds he wants to keep hearing over and over again. (Maybe he should kiss Hoseok suddenly again).

(Fucking hell, he’s not one for ‘dating’ or ‘commitment’ because it terrifies him.)

When Yoongi pulls away he’s all red and flustered and trying to keep his cool so he adjusts his coat and then says, “Go get me some fucking coffee.”

It takes Hoseok a good half-minute to process Yoongi’s words and then he’s nodding and running into the door because his head’s spinning and he can taste Yoongi’s mouth on his (like coffee and acidic remarks) but he’s smiling like an idiot because Yoongi laughs from behind him.

Hoseok really likes Yoongi’s laugh.

-----

Taehyung comes by Jungkook’s bed, crawling under the covers and pressing his cheek to Jungkook’s collarbone. Jungkook feels Taehyung’s hair against his skin, those soft silky threads and he closes his eyes, feeling the scratch of moist lids against dry eyeballs.

“They keep...” He swallows to wet his raw throat, feeling pain in his ears, “Saying that... you’re not real.”

“Not real?” Taehyung repeats, dark chocolate voice pitching in surprise, Jungkook can’t help the ghost of a smile across his lips, “Yeah, they say I’m sick.”

“You’re not sick,” Taehyung says and Jungkook opens his eyes, staring into the dark ceiling of the hospital ward, seeing the grey shadow of a lamp across it. Jungkook likes ceilings but he can’t lift his hands up to it, can’t find it in himself to do anything other than stroke Taehyung’s back, feeling bones and skin and muscle beneath the pads of his fingers, “Do you think I’m not real?”

“You’re real.” Jungkook breathes, swallowing the lump in his throat, “Eomma survived the fire. I think she blew abeoji up.”

“Oh.” Is all Taehyung says and then it’s quiet, except for Jungkook’s ragged breathing, the machines and the air-conditioning.

Taehyung’s real, he’s in his arms. He’s there, alive, breathing, calling out to him.

Taehyung’s real.

“We have both loved each other with more scar tissue than skin,” Taehyung says after a while, lifting his head to look into Jungkook’s cold, distant eyes. The younger boy feels the pull of the pills he’s made to swallow everyday, he feels the gentle tug of sleep (Jungkook’s barely had sleep in months, always waking up in the middle of the night, always unable to trust the universe to keep him safe), “I love you Jeon Jungkook, even on days when you’re the moon and then on days you are the sun.”

“Your cheesy poetry sucks.”

“Well I tried.” and Taehyung’s laughing and pulling away, climbing off of the bed and prancing across the room. He touches the IV, frowns and then goes over to the cupboards, opening them up to peer into emptiness, “Are you going to wear that dress for the next few months?”

“Okay, first off- this is not a dress.” Jungkook puffs out with enough bitterness to make Taehyung turn around and laugh, “I have pants under these. And they’re nicer than those ugly loose pants you love so much.”

“Okay come on ice-boy, these pants make me feel free!” Taehyung does a little dance and then poses, appearing like the fool he is and Jungkook wheezes out a laugh, feeling sleep curl it’s fingers around his shoulders and pull him into it’s embrace.

He yawns, letting the darkness of the night invite him.

“Goodnight Kookie,” Taehyung whispers, at his side now, pressing his lips gently against his temple, “Goodnight.”

Jungkook can barely reply back, but he tries anyway because Taehyung smiles at him, pressing his lips gently against Jungkook’s.

Taehyung is real.

-----

A week later Jungkook doesn’t see Taehyung, he doesn’t visit- not once- and Namjoon congratulates him like it’s nothing. But to Jungkook, it’s hurt written all over in thick scarlet.

Is Taehyung okay? Is he away from his father? What if he hasn’t visited because he’s hurt badly?

A nurse wheels him into a large room- one that he’s never seen before. He spots Yoongi there, as well as Hoseok standing with their backs pressed to a wall. He wonders where Jimin is, but that thought doesn’t really last long because he sees Dr Kim Namjoon with a laptop hooked up to a large screen. It displays his screen’s background (an image of him and Dr Seokjin showing peace signs and looking extremely chummy) with a bunch of different icons scattered across the screen. 

Jungkook wants to frown at him. How someone manages their desktop’s icons tells a lot about them- just like how Jungkook infers that 1) Kim Namjoon is a slob and 2) he may or may not have a thing for Dr Seokjin.

But that’s just his assumption. He’s too tired to think nowadays, always wanting to fall asleep.

He doesn’t talk much so his voice comes out like a weak puff of air instead of a sharp and steady sound.

The nurse wheels Jungkook to the front of the room, tucking him under a table with Namjoon sitting to his left. Namjoon looks at him and then asks, “How are you feeling?”

Jungkook gives him a look which makes Namjoon smile a little.

The younger boy licks his lips and stares ahead, watching Namjoon click an icon, opening up a video file with a date typed out as the name of the clip. He stares at it, feeling his eyelids grow heavier with each blink. He sits with a slump because he’s too tired to hold himself up.

He’s too tired to hold himself together these days.

“What happened that day when you went out to save Taehyung?” Namjoon asks slowly, and the room quietens further. Jungkook tries to find the memory and it comes to him slowly, like someone pulling thread out of the darker corners of his mind.

“His... father was hurting... him.” Jungkook says, “He... called me...”

“I see.” Namjoon says and there’s a mild buzz from all the doctors behind them, Jungkook wants to ask them to stop talking because his head’s hurting with all the lethargy in his muscles, “Take a look at this clip.”

It’s a CCTV footage and the lights in the room dim until it’s only the video that’s illuminating the darkness. Jungkook watches an empty field, nothing but just tall grass. He realises that this is near his neighbourhood, and wonders why he’s being shown this.

And then a boy comes running in, throwing himself at air and then flinging his fists, kicking his feet. He fights something only he can see, throws himself and gets cut up and bruised because he’s slamming himself against grass, against gravel. He’s hitting himself, scratching himself.

It’s like watching a violent, half insane mime.

Jungkook watches the boy, his shoulders sagging and head tilted. It feels like an insanely difficult job just keeping himself in the room because all he wants to do is sleep. He doesn’t even have the energy to keep his mouth closed.

He’s been told that the medication given to him has several side effects including drowsiness and dizziness.

You’ll be getting antipsychotics.

Jungkook watches the boy in the video battle against the night, battle against an invisible force and then stop, staring down at a spot on the gravel, his chest rising and falling rapidly. And then he turns, shouting out a name and then running to the patch of grass where he’s hidden from view, but you can tell he’s kneeling and calling out to someone, or something.

Namjoon stops the video there, exiting the tab so Jungkook’s staring at that ghastly background image of Seokjin and Namjoon smiling with peace signs. (Do they think they look cute? They look like grandpas.)

“Do you know who’s that in the video?” Namjoon asks gently, the lights in the room brightening.

Jungkook shakes his head, no.

“That’s you.” Namjoon answers, closing the laptop and then waving his arm in the air. The sudden gesture makes Jungkook flinch, Namjoon notices this and brings his arm down. Jungkook hears the doctors shuffle away, but feels the lingering presence of two people- probably Yoongi and Hoseok.

Is Yoongi even allowed to be here? Wasn’t he the ‘ER god’ or something?

“Do you understand Jungkook? That was the CCTV footage caught on the day you were supposedly going to save Taehyung. Do you see anyone else there?”

Jungkook shakes his head, no.

“But you were fighting someone?”

Jungkook nods, yes. 

“Is Taehyung in this room, with us?”

Jungkook turns his head, finding Taehyung seated by the window, staring out of it and into everything down below. He’s watching the people walk around, making notes of how many patients and doctors and nurses that cross the path. The morning light’s making his hair browner, even a little bit red and his golden skin’s absorbing the blue sky. He turns at the mention of his name, clear axinite eyes meeting Jungkook’s.

He smiles like moonlight, like sunlight, like his heart’s beating just for Jungkook.

Jungkook stares at him because he’s so undeniably beautiful here in this silent room, so painfully his. Jungkook’s heart beats for for Kim Taehyung and no one else. Not for anyone else.

Not even for himself.

Namjoon follows Jungkook’s path of vision, seeing an empty area and reminds, “Taehyung is not real, Jungkook. He is not real.”

But Taehyung’s right there and Jungkook’s too tired to say anything else.

-----

Chapter Text

Namjoon says that his mother can visit him after another week (which puts Jungkook in the hospital for a total of four weeks) and in the past two weeks the cold and distant boy hasn’t seen Taehyung.

Sometimes Jungkook feels his presence but when he turns to look, he’s not there. He figures that he misses Taehyung too much and he still doesn’t understand why Dr Kim Namjoon, Yoongi and Hoseok keep asking him if he sees the brunette.

The answer is no and his heart hurts a lot because of it.

For four weeks he’s been left with his own company (Taehyung had visited in the first two and then hadn’t). He didn’t have his phone, couldn’t go outside, he couldn’t talk to his mother or Jimin or anyone.

Only doctors and nurses would come in and they’d ask him the same questions: How are you feeling?  Do you need anything?

He desperately wants to ask for his freedom, he wants to ask them to allow Taehyung to see him again.

He misses Taehyung like the sun misses the moon every morning.

The medication makes him lethargic, he’d been told it’s a side-effect. He doesn’t understand why he has to take medicines in the first place, there’s nothing wrong with him. But according to Yoongi, he’s sick.

The medicines are making him sick because there’s nothing wrong with him to begin with.

Jungkook asks about his mother and Dr Kim Namjoon says that she’s well and staying over with her sister, when he asks about his father Namjoon grows all quiet, his demeanour becoming smaller, eyes more fluid and then he says, “I’m sorry.”

Jungkook doesn’t feel anything about his father’s death, he doesn’t even feel relieved because the medicine’s just numbing him, making him feel hollow and empty, like if you screamed into him he’d just echo instead of respond.

He doesn’t feel like himself, doesn’t feel human. So when his mother comes to visit, eyes reddening and her lips trembling alongside the fingers she’s placing against his warm cheeks (her fingers are cold but he’s never felt this kind of warmth in so long), he chokes out “Eomma take me home.”

And his mother shakes her head, shakes it until he’s dizzy.

“Please,” he’s begging, feeling his eyes go hot, feeling his heart shatter into tinier pieces. He can’t deal with being locked up in this hospital room, can’t handle being a spectacle for doctors to see and for interns to learn from. He feels like a science experiment- miserable and wrong. Jungkook feels like he’s drowning in himself, legs kicking and hands trying to grab on to the surface of the sea, but he can’t because he might be physically present in the room, but he’s not mentally there anymore. He feels like he’s just watching the world go by, like he’s on drift wood and everything’s changing around him.

He can’t react to these, he can’t even participate. He’s just there, like a wax figure with a beating heart and soul.

Her fingers quake against his cheeks again, shaping against skin that’s sunken too deep, looking into eyes too empty for a boy. Her eyes dart all around him before she breathes, “Y-you can’t come b-back yet,” her voice tears like it’s a thin sheet of paper, “The doctors say you aren’t... ready.”

“I haven’t seen him in weeks, eomma.” he puffs out, finding that speaking itself is a herculean task, he can’t even gather enough of himself to voice out to his mother and she can tell because her torn up lips quiver and her ripped up hands reach for his, wrapping them and giving them a small squeeze, “I... don’t feel like myself here...” and his eyes fill with tears because his mother begins to cry and he realises that she must be struggling so much.

His father’s dead, his mother’s as torn and tattered as he is. He can see it on her face, four weeks has done little to conceal the damage. Her skin’s torn, her nose crooked, her lips bleed sometimes when she talks. His mother’s fingers are all crooked from being broken over and over again. Their torture’s ended but there’s another coming in like a speeding train and that’s recovery.

Because they won’t get hit around like they used to but every time they look into a mirror they will remember from the testament printed into their skin. The effects of their abuse will linger on them forever.

“You’re not well Jungkook,” she says, running her thumb over his jutting knuckles, “You need to stay here and recover.” her eyes are two drops of steaming coffee as she says this, her mouth and jaw firm.

Jungkook’s hands tremble, he can’t do this. He can’t stay here, he just can’t.

He feels weak, feels as helpless as he was when his father tossed him about, feels like he can’t even protect his mother or himself. He’s nothing in this ward, he’s nothing in this universe if he can’t feel. He looks beyond his mother’s shoulder and sees Taehyung for the first time in weeks. His heart should be galloping, but he’s so numb, so tired he can only just stare at the brunette as he grins back, looking so comfortable and warm and familiar.

“You can take me home... you’ll help me. I’ll take my medication,” He begs, eyes wide and gaze fractured, “I’ll be good... I promise to get better I... eomma help me please.

She shakes, her eyes meeting her son’s and she sees herself in his eyes, sees the broken shell of the miracle she’d given birth to. He’s like this because I couldn’t protect him.

He’s never asked for her help, has never come to her if he needed something and she can read the need in his eyes like a bold and vivid letter, blaring right into her corneas.

She kisses his forehead and whispers, “I’m so sorry.”

-----

Hoseok runs after Jungkook’s mother, jumping in front of her with his arms and legs stretched out like a starfish. His nostrils flare and his brows pull together. Holy shit this can’t be happening.

The woman jumps back, startled, a small shriek escaping her lips before she realises that Jung Hoseok is not a threat and then straightens herself, clearing her throat and adjusting the hem of her blouse.

“Can I help you?” she says in her most confident voice only to have the intern nod violently, looking completed baffled and lost.

“You can’t do this ahjumma,” He says, “Jungkook needs treatment here if not things will get worse.”

“I can help him.” Jungkook’s mother says defiantly, her eyes gleaming with certainty, “Look here, I don’t think you understand but my son’s been through years of damage and I’ve never been able to protect him. Let me do my job as his mother, I’ll give him his medication and make sure he takes them. He hasn’t seen that in weeks now, so surely he should be well enough to function. I saw how you’re keeping him here,” and there’s a spark of anger in her eyes, she sucks in a breath before spewing, “And I don’t like what I see. He’s not a person anymore, just a hollow case of what he used to be.”

Hoseok can only blink, knowing that this battle’s already losing for him. He can’t argue with that- and even as an intern he has absolutely no power over decisions like these. Hell, even the doctors here can’t do anything.

And then she hits Hoseok with the final blow that makes him step aside because she says, “He’s never asked me to help me before, doctor. This is the first time.”

All the intern can say is, “You’re making a huge mistake.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take if it can fix my son.”

Hoseok wants to say that she can never ‘fix’ him in the way she thinks it would be. Illnesses like schizophrenia doesn’t have an absolute cure, it can be suppressed but it also needs constant monitoring and medication.

She can’t ‘fix’ Jungkook, not in any way. The only possible solution for the beginning of recovery is for Jungkook himself to realise that Kim Taehyung isn’t real, because if he doesn’t he doesn’t stand a chance at getting better. He can be pumped with as much antipsychotics and drugs possible, but the first step to recovery is to accept your illness.

And Jeon Jungkook is far from that.

-----

The thing with sicknesses- be it the common cold to something more dangerous like cancer- is that it needs constant care and treatment before the patient can get better. And the thing with sicknesses is that when left untreated it can become worse or if you don’t seek professional help, it might take a longer time in order to heal.

Jungkook sees Taehyung, sees him pop out randomly and smile and reach for him. He’s just glad that Taehyung’s back so he reaches out as well, feeling the older boy’s cold finger tips against his. It’s electric, a sudden terrifyingly familiar force that keeps Jungkook’s heart at bay.

He doesn’t tell anyone that he sees Taehyung, fearing that they might take him away.

Or cage Jungkook up once again.

It’s been six days since Jungkook’s left that godforsaken hospital and the air’s much fresher, the grass greener. They’re at his aunt’s villa, which is near the countryside. It’s away from the city so according to his mother, “Healthier for him so he can make a quick recovery.” Jungkook doesn’t see how this is possible, but it gives him an excuse to leave the suffocating four walls of the house and wander around the path, walking by grass until he can reach a small pond. He does this often, sometimes by himself, sometimes with Taehyung.

It’s refreshing to be away from the hospital, in fact he feels more like himself again. He can speak without wheezing and breathe without feeling like there’s a rock lodged in his throat.

And away from the hospital, he can finally exist so he’s not just watching the world go by. Outside of the hospital he can finally hold on to Taehyung’s hand and feel his skin and bones beneath his fingers.

Kim Taehyung is real.

Jungkook doesn’t answer any of Jimin’s calls- in fact he’s got his number blocked- because every time Jimin contacts him, it’s to tell him to get back to the hospital. It’s annoying, it’s painful because Jimin knows who Jungkook’s heart belongs to and yet he tries to tear them apart as well.

Why won’t anyone see Taehyung? Why won’t anyone bother to believe in Jungkook?

Jungkook feels the sun’s warmth against his face, feels his fingers actually touch something.

Taehyung’s playing in the stream, stepping into it and waddling around, kicking at the cold liquid and splattering it at Jungkook. The younger boy laughs, the sound mingling with Taehyung’s deeper one to form a melodic song that would make any composer envious. They’re a fantastic pair, Jungkook thinks, with Taehyung being lightness and he darkness. Taehyung is warmth and golden honey while Jungkook takes after the moon- cold and distant but present.

They’re the sun and the moon, polar opposites but Jungkook doesn’t mind dying every single night just to let Taehyung breathe.

(Jungkook really isn’t one for poetry but Taehyung makes him want to write songs to his name and scream into the unknown, describing Taehyung like someone writing fine literature.)

“Do you still believe in me?” Taehyung asks, dipping his reddened fingers into the water, picking up smooth pebbles and then skipping it across the surface, “That I’m real?”

“Yes.” Jungkook says confidently, because Taehyung’s real. He’s as real as his mother, as his aunt, as those tiny little purple flowers blooming amidst cracked rocks. Their love is like those flowers, hopeful amidst disaster.

Jungkook doesn’t want to let go of Taehyung, not when he’s learnt how to smile after so long.

The raven head leans back, watching Taehyung dance in the pool, stepping across rocks with as much grace as a crippled horse. He laughs whenever Taehyung trips and falls into the water, then laughs some more when he gets up, chuckling with cheeks the colour of roses. Jungkook rubs at his wrist.

Jungkook feels like he can do anything when Taehyung’s around.

When the sun starts to set they head back, Taehyung reaching for Jungkook’s hand and Jungkook holding on to it.

Because Jungkook’s finally learnt to love and he’s going to hold on to it with both hands.

-----

Jimin’s a storm when he has to be, he can be hurricanes and violent showers. He can bring hell to earth if he wants to and he can conjure up destruction so devastating that nothing can be repaired.

He can do this because Jimin rarely gets angry, it would take a lot just to piss him off to the point of rage.

Jimin catches Jungkook walking in a field of emeralds and while he would want to stop and admire the taller boy, he can’t. Jungkook’s at peace, strolling across a pale grey path- clearly unused for years- with his hands in his pockets and his chin tilted up into the sky.

Jimin sees this and his blood boils, he’s a little container of scarlet fury and it’s managed to overflow at this point so he runs over, grabbing Jungkook by the collar and dragging him down to his level with wide eyes, the colour of blood.

Jungkook flinches, fear evident in his eyes but his gaze darts to something behind Jimin and the older boy can’t help himself when he wheels his fist back, muttering, “You fucking dumbass.” before striking the younger boy. Jungkook grunts, obviously taking the attack by surprise (you see Jimin doesn’t hit people much less the ones he’s in love with, but he can’t help himself because Jungkook’s being a dumbass and his heart hurts so much knowing that Jungkook is not okay).

The younger boy reels back, fingers reaching up to cup the side of his mouth. He looks at Jimin accusingly, noting that Taehyung’s gone and then yells, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you? Jimin spits back pure fire, cursing at the gods, cursing at himself, cursing at everything because hell fighting with Jungkook’s going to tear him apart but there’s nothing he can do about it because this is the only way he’ll listen.

Jungkook can’t see that Taehyung ’s not real because he’s too detached from reality, only you can bring him back.

“Fuck off Jimin! Leave me alone!” Jungkook reaches out, pressing his palms against Jimin’s and then giving the older boy a good hard shove. Jimin doesn’t move, instead he grabs on to Jungkook’s wrist, pressing it over his thundering heart and demands, “Feel that? That’s real. Taehyung is not.

There are always inconsistencies with hallucinations, you have to make him find that inconsistency in his hallucination.

“What’s Tae ever done to you huh?” Jungkook’s roaring now, and Jimin understands why storms are named after people because Jungkook’s positively thundering at this moment and Jimin fears the path of destruction he might bring to himself and the people around him.

“I’m real.” Jimin’s voice lowers when Jungkook tries to pull his wrist away, “I’m Jimin, your best friend and I’m real.”

“And so is Taehyung.” Jungkook mutters defiantly, “You’re all liars.”

“Then tell me Jungkook, when you went to save him, how could there be no one in that video? How come no one else can see him except for you? On that day you ran to save him, how did you know he was dying when you hadn’t seen him yet? How could you describe to Namjoon in vivid detail how he was getting hit when you hadn’t even seen him yet? Huh?” 

Jungkook doesn’t answer.

“And a hospital, it’s not easy for just anyone to come in and out so how can he enter your ward? We checked your phone and the number you saved doesn’t exist, Jungkook, listen to me, Taehyung is not real.

“FUCK YOU.” Jungkook spits back, “FUCK YOU, FUCK EVERYONE.”

“YES FUCK US ALL!” Jimin roars, his vision burning scarlet, “FUCK EVERYONE BUT IT DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT YOU CAN’T EXPLAIN ANYTHING!”

Silence falls, thick and heavy between both the boys, choking and painful. They’re breathing heavily, chest rising and falling and Jimin can’t remember the last time he’s slept without worrying about Jungkook. Even now looking at the younger boy he worries, Jungkook looks older, more tired. There’s anxiety crawling all over his body, evident in his glacial gaze.

But he’s never smiled this much before and it’s killing Jimin to have to drag Jungkook to reality.

Once he figures out that Taehyung ’s not real, he’ll come by himself for treatment. Have faith in him as well Jimin.

“Look here Jungkook,” Jimin sighs out, taking Jungkook’s hand and lacing his fingers through them, “When you see Taehyung again think about all those times we did idiotic shit when we were younger. Taehyung is a creation of your subconscious, because you can’t protect yourself and your mother. You’ve created him- someone you can protect. Don’t you think it’s too much of a coincidence that he gets abused too? Taehyung is you.”

Jungkook’s just glaring at him, and Jimin can feel defeat in his blood, can feel himself losing Jungkook entirely.

But he won’t be able to live with himself if he doesn’t try at least.

“Every hallucination has an inconsistency,” Jimin says and he feels like he’s years older now, “Just look for the inconsistency in Taehyung. If you can’t find any you can come beat the fuck out of me, but if you do- call me.”

And then he lets go of Jungkook, walking around the boy feeling like the fist lodged in his chest unclench and then disappear. He breathes in, his eyes filling and walks away with a plea, “Please help Jungkook.”

-----

He feels unsettled, like a brick’s pressing against his chest.

Jimin’s successfully placed doubt in the middle of his heartstrings. When he thinks about it, he’s got no answer to Jimin’s questions. He can’t even make sense of it himself and it’s making his nerves crawl and that stupid rock of doubt increase in size.

He rubs at his chest.

He is you.

No he can’t be. Jungkook rubs his wrist and then stops halfway, eyes widening.

He’s rubbing his wrist.

Taehyung rubs at his wrist.

Jungkook let’s go, slowly- a finger at a time and then stares at the spot, too red because he’s been doing it without thinking. He stares at his wrist and then at the ground, feeling his breath quicken and his heart come to a halt.

It ’s just a coincidence. Just a habit picked up from Taehyung. Habits can be picked up, right?

His vision blurs for a moment and he takes a step back.

How did you know he was dying when you hadn’t seen him yet? How could you describe to Namjoon in vivid detail how he was getting hit?

Taehyung is you.

Jungkook bites his lip, thinking back. Taehyung pops out of nowhere, he’s abused, Jungkook went to save him knowing exactly what was wrong with him.

No, no. Taehyung is real. He is very real. Jungkook knows him, tastes him. The tips of his fingers remember him like an old distant memory, Jungkook can name all the parts of Taehyung hurt and unhurt, he can count the scars on Taehyung’s skin. He can hold him.

He can hear Taehyung’s heartbeat in his ears- hear his name being called in a voice like melting chocolate. He can see dark eyes and a smile full of stars.

But how did you know? How did he get into the ward?

Taehyung appears in front of him, jumping out from the grass with a wide smile. He’s wearing his loose pants again and that same white t-shirt, his hair’s sticking to his forehead and he’s grinning so bright it’s the stars are put to shame.

“Kookie!” he calls out, and then his attention diverts to something in the grass and he turns his attention away. Jungkook watches him rub his wrist.

Every hallucination has an inconsistency.

Taehyung’s real, so he shouldn’t be searching for an inconsistency- right? But that huge rock of doubt is getting bigger and bigger and Jungkook steps back, eyes feeling thick and heavy as he eyes Taehyung from the tip of his head to his toes.

Taehyung’s wearing loose pants and a white t-shirt, something he always wears. The same shade, the same length...

The same.

Taehyung always wears the same thing and the realisation puts Jungkook into overdrive, he feels a choking breath caught somewhere in his throat and his lungs, he feels his body go hot and cold at the same time.

But it’s okay, right? For someone to wear the same thing?

Then he takes in Taehyung’s hands, noting that his knuckles are all covered in cuts and bruises, and that he’s rubbing that wrist- always, always rubbing at that wrist. He’s grinning into the earth, the sun hitting him just right, making him glow from within and he’s surrounded with a halo because Jungkook’s eyes fill with tears and his head’s spinning and oh god everything hurts.

Taehyung is real. Taehyung is real, I love him, he’s real.

Jungkook touches his heart, feeling the steady beat of it under his trembling icy fingers.

I ’m real.

“How can I be you when I’m me?” Taehyung says and Jungkook stops breathing because he hadn’t said his thoughts out loud and he sees Taehyung’s eyes look at him like ice, look at him with curiosity and shock. There’s betrayal in his gaze, like Jungkook’s hurt him beyond measure.

Is Taehyung... not real?

He remembers Taehyung, remembers his lips against his, his laugh, his skin, his hair. He remembers Taehyung grinning into him and his stupid poetry and the way he loves that stupid river. He remembers Taehyung and ice-cream, Taehyung covered in bruises from head to to. He remembers Taehyung...

He remembers Taehyung’s unseeing cold eyes from that night.

And then he spots the inconsistency- and it’s been glaringly obvious. Jungkook hadn’t needed to look carefully, or scrutinise Taehyung’s appearance because it’s written all over Taehyung.

It’s not the fact that he wears the same thing, or the scars on his body. It’s the very fact that he’s alive. Because the night before Jungkook had been hauled off to the hospital Taehyung had died, covered in blood and his arm broken. Jungkook had looked too broken to be alive, and to have healed this quickly. It had never occured to Jungkook that there was something wrong with how quickly Taehyung’s wounds quickly faded into scars while Jungkook took weeks to heal.

It had never occurred to Jungkook that when Taehyung had appeared to him after that night he shouldn’t be clean, he shouldn’t have appeared in the first place because Jungkook had watched him die.

And Taehyung’s smiling at him, like there’s nothing wrong in the entire world, like he’s real.

Jungkook’s heart breaks, it falls and shatters and turns into dust and he can’t help the tears that spill, he can’t help that he’s pressing his palm so hard against his chest to feel his own heartbeat, to remind himself that he’s the real one.

To realise that the love of his life isn’t real, that he’d been shattered to the point of disintegration. 

I ’m sick.

I’m so sick.

And he wails out for the life he’s lost, for the childhood he’s never had, he cries out for the fact that Taehyung isn’t real, that he’s been unwell all along, that he’s crazy, that he’s got important pieces of himself that will never completely be put together again, that he’s missing a few things, that he’ll never be Jeon Jungkook without his illness.

So he screams and he cries and Taehyung just stands there, grinning at him like everything’s going to be okay because Jungkook can see himself in Taehyung’s eyes, can see himself all battered and bruised and bloody and screaming out for mercy.

He’s not looking at Taehyung anymore, he’s looking at himself and he’s cracked and unfixable. Jeon Jungkook is a slave to his abuse and he’s hurting- oh god he’s hurting and Taehyung’s just grinning over there, saying “I’m me, I’m me.”

He sees himself for the boy he used to be- the boy that had been hit around the first time, the boy who’d nearly died from his father’s hands. He sees himself weeks ago, sees himself covered in hurt and evidence right before everything fell apart. He sees himself in all the glory of his own death, sees the cold and distance in his own gaze and it becomes so vividly clear before diminishing and all that’s left is Kim Taehyung staring back at him- staring back with Jungkook’s eyes attached to his face.

Jungkook turns and he runs and runs until he’s at the villa and eyes Jimin sitting on the porch, staring down at the earth like there’s nothing to look forward to in the universe. His heart’s bursting and he pushes forward, throwing his arms around Jimin who nearly falls back.

It’s over, it’s all over. 

“Jungkook?” he wheezes since Jungkook’s holding him to tight he thinks the younger boy’s going to crush his bones into dust. But Jungkook just holds on to his best friend, remembering his smile, remembering Jimin’s heart beneath his fingers.

Jimin’s real. Taehyung’s not.

Jimin’s real. I’m real.

And he’s crying into Jimin, pouring his fears, his anxiety, his sorrow. He dumps it all out, emptying himself because he’d loved and loved but he’s broken. 

Broken people can’t love like that.

“Jungkook what’s wrong?” Jimin asks and his voice is so loud, so clear like a church bell on a rainy day, like a lighthouse’s glow against a foggy night. He’s real.

“Taehyung,” Jungkook cries out, curling his fingers into the material of Jimin’s clothes and feeling it wrinkle, “Taehyung...”

Jimin stiffens beneath him, and Jungkook feels his best friend stop breathing.

“Taehyung... he’s...” And Jungkook squeezes his eyes shut and tears slide down from the ducts, feeling the ball in his chest constrict to it’s limit and then he declares, “Taehyung’s not real, he doesn’t exist. He’s never been real.” and the ball in Jungkook’s chest explodes into billions of tiny pieces, glowing against the darkness of his soul, lighting up the way and Jungkook feels a quietness settle against him like a comfortable blanket.

He cries into Jimin, cries into something that’s real and alive and even though Taehyung’s taken pieces of Jungkook he thinks he’s going to be okay. He’s going to be fine.

Taehyung had been an opia but Jimin’s real.

Jungkook’s real.

And it’s okay to be broken.

-----

Chapter Text

Jungkook’s not good with goodbyes, he doesn’t know what to say or what to do. It’s not that he’s never done it before, it’s more of the fact that he’s never had to send someone off forever.

Forever.

It haunts him, like a peeking moon just before sunset, because when he thinks of forever he sees a pair of axinite eyes and a smile so full it’s the beginning of the entire goddamn universe. A part of him doesn’t want to let go- the darker, more hidden parts of his soul.

Jungkook imagines himself as an entirely opaque figure, cast out of black dust and hardened to the perverseness of the universe. He’s still, caught between insanity and reality- and then there’s a crack, another crack and an entire chunk falls off, revealing white light that shoots out and dances across his body, shining and revealing the smooth texture of the shadow he keeps hidden in the creases of his heart.

You see, the first step to healing is to accept that you’re sick and Jungkook feels this acceptance like a knife dipped into alcohol, plunged right into the middle of his chest, he looks at his own face and sees Taehyung staring back with eyes so clear and bold and real.

Jungkook knows he’s not real, feels his heart tremble and shake and shatter every time he tries to remember every single small detail of Taehyung because he can’t and it feels like someone’s prickling at him.

You can do this.

But he honestly doesn’t think he can. He doesn’t think he can look at Taehyung’s face anymore and feel at peace, he doesn’t think he can allow himself to kiss the eccentric boy and feel like he’s being bundled up in warm blankets.

He doesn’t think he has the strength to look into Taehyung’s crystal clear axinite eyes and say, “You’re not real.” because Taehyung still lives within the corners of Jungkook’s vision, on the tip of his tongue, in the palms of his hands. Taehyung lives and breathes the same soul as he.

Taehyung is you.

He stands, he breathes and then closes his eyes.

“You don’t have to go in now.” He hears Jimin say, feels him come up behind him like a comforting shadow. Jungkook doesn’t turn to him, preferring to calm his racing heart to the ending notes of Jimin’s voice.

“I’ll have to eventually,” Jungkook finds himself saying with a tremble of his hands. He clenches them into fists to keep the quaking at bay but it does little help. He shakes like a withered leaf, submitting to the harsh echo of the wind around him.

“Look at me.”

And he does. He turns and he looks into Jimin’s kinder eyes. They slant nicely, peering up into his with cheer and confidence, smiling. Jungkook’s never realised until then how much of a reliable person Jimin was. He’s always there, on days when Jungkook burns more brilliant than the sun and on nights where he collapses like the moon. Jimin’s always there to make sure that he wakes up and falls asleep, always there to ensure that Jungkook has a sufficiently beating heart in his chest.

Jimin smiles at him, just a small little smile that makes his cheeks round and his eyes sparkle. Just a little, just a little.

A minute part of Jungkook’s beginning to compare him to Taehyung and so he tries his hardest to shove it away by focusing on Jimin’s face.

“Eventually, yes, but eventually could also be tomorrow and the next day or-”

Jungkook flips him off, only to have Jimin stare at his finger and then crack out in a grin that’s so absolutely Jimin with his lips tearing across his face, cheeks rounding and his eyes turning into two crescent moons on his face.

The younger boy’s never felt so comforted looking at Jimin’s retarded smiling face before and it eases his tension, eases the toss and turn in his body. He can do this, he can do this. He can.

He can.

“I can do this.” Jungkook says with thunder, “I can.” and he turns around to face the wooden door leading to his ward. He stares at the light brown wood, the colour of caramel and then focuses on the smell of the hospital.

It’s clean, safe. Jungkook’s always found safety in hospitals, in the way the nurses watch you, doctors check up on you.

In the way his father can never come in and talk with his fists.

But his father’s dead and his house is burnt down to the ground just like everything else in his life that should be going wrong. Maybe destruction’s just a way for new things to come through, just like how you’d have to tear the earth apart in order for flowers to grow.

Take a leap of faith because if you don’t, you won’t be able to do it again.

Jungkook thinks that Dr Kim Namjoon’s full of drama because he’s got this voice that can go all sultry and smooth and serious and he’ll tell you things that sound like someone’s buttering bread properly.

He believes Dr Kim Namjoon every time the older doctor opens his mouth because Jungkook thinks that the doctor’s a bit of an oddball (no one that talks poetry is a normal person) but every time he says something, Jungkook feels it deep in his soul.

He enters the room when Jimin starts to say his name, leaving the comfort of Jimin’s familiar voice and into the eyes of his own soul.

-----

Jungkook’s not good with goodbyes, he doesn’t know what to say or what to do. It’s not that he’s never done it before, it’s more of the fact that he’s never had to send someone off forever.

Forever.

Forever. It echoes in his head, shatters his glass heart like an arrow shot right into it. Jungkook stares into Taehyung’s crystal clear eyes, stares into familiarity and kindness and forever.

They were supposed to be together forever, was supposed to taste eternity with blood on their lips and smiles on scars more than skin. They were supposed to lock their broken hands and get through pain and suffering together, were supposed to ride to the top of a mountain and leap with their fingers interlocked.

Forever.

“T-Taehyung.” his voice shatters like a crack of glass and he feels his nose heat, feels his eyes grow heavy and the other boy turns around, smiling at Jungkook with everything that’s not supposed to be this real.

But Jungkook reaches out and his fingers feel into the silkiness of Taehyung’s hair, he can feel the curve of his head beneath his digits, can feel Taehyung’s breath against him.

He feels so real.

But he’s not.

Taehyung is not real.

Taehyung is you.

“Kookie,” Taehyung breathes and his voice is real, real, so very real. It’s the same warm melted chocolate, that same sandpaper against his skin. It’s the same like the first time he’d heard it, the same every time he hears it.

Taehyung’s fingers against Jungkook’s shoulders feel the same, same like every time they touched, every time they dipped their fingers into each other’s souls and pulled out the darkness residing within them. Taehyung smiles, smiles, smiles- he’s always smiling. Smiling when he’s torn apart, even when his body’s a mangled mess from the remains of his own destruction he smiles.

You.

Jungkook feels the first tear against his eyes, feels it drop out and slide against the curve of his nose. “Take a seat.” and he gently pushes Taehyung into a chair, watches the older boy sit down with bewilderment in his dark eyes. 

They stare out the window, at the dimming sky. It’s all a grey-blue, descending into something deeper, sadder.

Taehyung used to tell Jungkook that he’s the night sky, he used to say that Jungkook’s danger and sadness rolled into one and somewhere deep within him a simmering rage exists, waiting to touch gasoline and explode.

They stare out at the patients below, wandering about while hooked up to their IV drips. Nurses follow after them, doctors rush about. They stare at a fountain, standing tall and mighty amidst all the sorrow a hospital usually brings and the patients and children who sit by it, gazing at the waters flowing down in a rush.

Jungkook feels his heart race along with the water, and then he catches Jimin- just a small tiny figure amongst everyone else but he can tell from the bright colour of his hair.

Jimin clutches something to his chest, and then he flicks whatever it is into the air which causes light to catch against the object and for one heartbeat the object shimmers before falling into the fountain’s water only to sink to the bottom.

Jimin had made a wish.

Jungkook turns his head slightly, watching Taehyung gaze outside the window with marvel, his eyes wide and childlike, gleaming with curiosity and mischief. The raven head feels his heart break a little and then reaches for the tray he’d asked Hoseok to prepare.

He gets to his knees, dropping right in front of Taehyung and blocking the other boy’s view of the outside. The brunette looks down at Taehyung mischievously asking, “What are you doing? Have you finally realised that you’re my slave?”

And he laughs while Jungkook can only smile because what an irony. Jungkook had been a slave, maybe not to Taehyung, but he’d been a slave to his abuse, to his own sadness, to the weakness, to loneliness. Jungkook was a slave to his own broken soul and he’d suppressed all that because weakness was failure to him.

“Yeah.” Jungkook surmises, “Just sit still.” and then Jungkook’s pushing up the silky material of Taehyung’s loose black pants to reveal more scar than skin. There are open wounds everywhere, thick and red and purple.

Jungkook rubs the tips of his fingers over them, feeling the bump against his skin and then reaches for antiseptic and bandages, “Why don’t you put plasters?”

Taehyung chuckles, “I want to look badass.”

Jungkook hides his face when the tears come but he cleans up the wounds on Taehyung’s legs and covers them up with bandaids. Taehyung doesn’t say anything while this happens and Jungkook’s glad because he doesn’t know if he can stop himself from falling apart.

It’s killing him. Trying to say goodbye is killing Jungkook but it has to be done.

“Do you think I’m real?” Taehyung asks, viciously tearing at the lingering silence in the room, but as he asks this his voice is soft and husky, rolling over Jungkook’s skin like satin. He looks at the brunette, eyes rimmed with red and little rivers of his heart against his cheeks and he doesn’t answer. Jungkook reaches out for Taehyung, pressing his fingers against the side of his face and the older boy tilts himself into Jungkook’s palm.

They fit. Better than a jigsaw puzzle, better than a sweater. They fit like two parts of a whole.

Taehyung ’s you.

When he takes his hand away, Taehyung watches him and when Jungkook fixes up all the wounds on Taehyung’s arms he feels the sky darken behind him further.

“I thinks you’re very real to me.” Jungkook finally says, picking up Taehyung’s hands (all torn skin around nails and wounds on knuckles and fingers) and pressing his lips against it.

It’s terrifying how Jungkook can actually feel skin and scabs on his lips when Taehyung’s not supposed to be real.

Taehyung smiles at this and then reaches out to rub at his wrist.

It ’s time to say goodbye.

Jungkook smiles even though it hurts and he rubs his fingers over Taehyung’s wrist before reaching for a wristguard.

He remembers Taehyung in all his glory, at the way his hair’s golden and sometimes red under the sun, how his skin glows from within. He thinks about the first time they met, when he’d been hit by the car, at the face of a panicked boy reaching out to him. He remembers taking Taehyung to the river because he’d wanted to see it, can remember Taehyung laughing and dancing against rocks.

He remembers the first time they’d kissed, at the way everything suddenly seemed brighter and terrifying, he remembers Taehyung’s skin against his, remembers the melody of his laugh. He remembers peace and quiet.

Remembers how he had something to hold on to. 

He also remembers Taehyung’s skin covered in black and blue, remembers how he’d been running on that fateful day with blood coating his skin like clothing. Jungkook remembers his own father, remembers the violence.

He can hear his own screaming in his own ears. He can hear himself shrieking, “Abeoji, abeoji stop.”  and suddenly he’s twelve years old and he’s being hit with a pipe and his world withers and fades into nothing.

He remembers Jimin screaming his name like a distant echo, he remembers drifting like he’s out at sea. He remembers falling and falling and falling.

Then he remembers a voice, like chocolate and then eyes and with the sudden zap of a defibrillator his lids open and he gasps, “Taehyung.” and he remembers seeing him standing by the corner of the room like a shadow, a ghost.

And then he’d forgotten him.

Jungkook lets himself cry, lets the tears crawl out of his eyes as he slides Taehyung’s long and slender fingers into the guard, lets himself fall apart a little as he tightens it around Taehyung’s wrist and then secures it.

The sky’s getting darker and when he looks up and into Taehyung’s eyes, the brunette’s got tears in his. Jungkook stares at the face of disaster, of salvation and he smiles, smiles because there’s no better way of saying what’s to be said.

“Do you want me to leave, Jungkook?” Taehyung asks and his voice cracks, just like Jungkook, just like everyone.

Does Jungkook want him to leave? Does he?

When he looks into Taehyung’s eyes, so heavily marked with sorrow and loss and then at his lips which tremble he doesn’t see Taehyung. He sees himself, twelve years old and dying on a hospital bed, he sees himself, eighteen years old and desperately trying to cling on to something- anything that could possibly numb the pain that explodes within him and on him.

Your father’s not here, you’re safe, he can’t hurt you. No one can hurt you now.

Taehyung had told him that once, when they were laying against the earth in each other’s arms and Jungkook had been covered in bruises.

“Do you want me to leave forever, Kookie? and Jungkook disintegrates into dust, shattering beyond recognition. He gets up, presses his lips to Taehyung’s forehead, feels skin and hair beneath his lips and straightens.

He hugs Taehyung’s head to his stomach, feeling the brunette, the boy, his salvation, his life and soul.

His hallucination.

Taehyung shakes, and there’s silence, absolute silence.

The sun sets and darkness takes over, washing the hospital room entirely, making it too dark for Jungkook to see.

“Yes.” he says finally and the automatic lights go on.

And Taehyung’s not there anymore.

-----

Yoongi smacks Hoseok in the head, earning another shriek that Yoongi cringes from. Hoseok’s always too loud- always screaming or jumping or laughing at something. It makes his head hurt but it also makes him feel all warm and cosy on the inside.

Don’t tell anyone. He’ll cut your balls off and stick it to your forehead. Yoongi is, after all, not one for love and romance and sappy shit.

Seriously though, he will kill you.

“Shut the fuck up radish head.” he glares at the intern to which Hoseok makes a face and then threatens to throw Yoongi’s freshly made coffee down the sink. The grumpy blonde curses out loud and then reaches for the cup of hot and steaming caffeine that the intern gladly gives to him (sometimes Yoongi imagines Hoseok with bunny ears and pink blush, which makes him uncomfortable because well, he looks adorable.)

Yoongi sips the coffee, letting the hot liquid score it’s way down his throat and become all warm and fuzzy in his chest. It’s satisfying and just like his soul, bitter all the way till the end.

(He loves the way Hoseok makes him coffee and even if it’s not brewed from his hands, he finds that any coffee- even the cafeteria’s shitty fake Starbucks- tastes good when given to him from the hopeful hands of Jung Hoseok.)

(Tell no one or he’ll kill you and shove your body up a horse’s asshole without so much as batting an eyelash.)

He remembers the first time Hoseok asked him what coffee he liked. Yoongi asked him to guess and he’d got it first try, saying “Cappuccino!” and his eyes were wide and sparkling and he looked so absolutely excited about it. Thing is, Yoongi’s favourite isn’t even a cappuccino but he suddenly finds himself craving for it asking ordering it when he does go to get coffee.

“Who am I supposed to check on next?” Yoongi asks absently, taking the first step with Hoseok falling behind him in perfect sync. Yoongi’s noted that they do things in perfect coordination working like systematic gears that complement each other. Namjoon makes a joke out of this often and then Yoongi gets back at him accusingly, saying that he thinks he’s such a smart mouthed big foot but can’t use that same mouth full of shit to ask Seokjin out on a date.

Namjoon usually becomes a tomato at that point and then stares at his shoes, grumbling about how Yoongi’s mouth is going to get him into trouble one day. Yoongi doesn’t have a problem with his mouth, he just thinks people are too sensitive and lack a sense of humour.

Yoongi thinks he’s funny. (He’d once told this to Hoseok and the intern had scoffed.)

The good doctor hasn’t felt this alive in days (even though he’s spent the past seventy-two hours running in and out of the ER and had gotten a grand total of six hours of actual slumber in that time). He’s not much of a zombie anymore- not when Hoseok’s always so bright and chirpy like he’s the goddamn sun. Yoongi honestly has no idea how he does it, there was once he’d even found himself asking if the the intern had ADHD only to have Hoseok walk out on him.

(Yoongi may or may not have gone after him, repeatedly apologising for his ‘uncontrollable’ mouth.)

(Hoseok may or may not have also kissed him on that same ‘uncontrollable’ mouth.)

“Mrs Gringham.” Hoseok says quickly, scrunching up his mouth, “Or is it Grisham? I can’t read this.” this earns him another smack and a smug look on Yoongi who places his clipboard against his shoulder and then his hand inside the pocket of his lab coat before continuing on. He rather likes poking at Hoseok, it makes his cheeks all pink and warm.

The duo walk into Namjoon who’s walking down the corridor with a cup of coffee in his long fingers. He looks like a dead fish- all hollowed eyes and a hanging mouth. Yoongi thinks that he might drool so he whistles and Namjoon nearly jumps back, bringing his attention to the shorter blonde, taking a moment to internalise that it’s his colleague and then coughs out a greeting.

“Yeah hi there coconut head.” Yoongi says like he’s talking about the weather then lifts his brows at the clipboard in Namjoon’s hands and asks, “How’s he doing?”

“Quite well actually.” Namjoon says with a perk, “It’s been a month since he’s been discharged and his progress is pretty impressive. Mind over matter.” Namjoon says tapping at his temple.

Yoongi nods, “That’s good.” before clearing his throat, “Thanks... uh... again for helping him.” 

Namjoon nods, appearing baffled. He looks like a fucking fish with his mouth hanging open and this blank, almost befuddled look in his eyes. What, has he never received compliments before?

“Fuckin giraffe.” Yoongi mutters under his breath and Namjoon laughs. Yoongi walks away, covering his mouth to hide a smile that’s blooming across his face, because smiling at nothing would make him a retard.

“I’m glad.” Hoseok says behind him and Yoongi can’t agree more.

All’s good. Jungkook’s good.

It’s like that goddamn rock of guilt in his chest is gone and Yoongi can finally breathe better.

-----

Jungkook accepts the spoon of rice that Jimin tries to feed him, grunting out a curse and chewing the food. Jimin’s laughing his head off, and his laugh is a song on it’s own, creating it’s own version of joy with every note.

Jungkook smiles at this and then swallows the rice to hide it before Jimin can see.

He doesn’t see Taehyung anymore and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss him like crazy. Sometimes Jungkook feels like Taehyung’s around, watching him, breathing into him, laughing into his ears.

But he’s not and it’s just Jungkook’s desperation to hold on to something.

“Hold on to me,” Jimin had said, “Because I’m real.”

And so Jungkook does that. He holds on to Jimin, memorising the beats of his heart so that he will always have an anchor to the world. Taehyung isn’t real.

Jungkook is Jungkook now.

His mother had seen to it that no one could ever touch him the way his father did, had made sure that Jungkook felt the breeze against his face and let the sun against his skin. She’d said, “You can start school again next year.” so that he had time to heal a little bit more. Jungkook’s heart is still raw and fresh, with his heartstrings attached to a boy that makes him feel like the universe is exploding, to a boy that comes and goes.

To an opia.

He wakes up every morning- in his bed this time because his aunt’s villa had given him a sense of safety his own home could never give him. 

Jungkook and his mother had visited their old home once, just because the police had questions. Jungkook remembers looking down at the charred remains, remembers stepping on ash. He’d kicked something and it had been a picture frame, the photograph burnt in a way where you can only see his mother. He’d been burnt in half and his father gone entirely.

It’d been too metaphorical, he remembers looking at it and laughing. His mother had been crying. She cries a lot these days and that’s okay. Dr Kim Namjoon says that crying is helping her heal, he’d said that she’ll cry for a while and after that she’ll be okay.

Seeing that old fucking house in ash healed parts of Jungkook, seeing the death certificate of his father gave him relief like a warm embrace. His mother cried while he laughed.

It’s over. It’s all over.

He’d visited the river on that day as well, stepping into the icy waters and letting it wade around his ankles. He’d stared into the distance, hands in his pockets.

He’d missed Taehyung desperately that day, had felt the tug of his heart, the pull of his mind to find the brunette, his fingers still remember him like he’d just touched him yesterday.

But there’s also a sense of peace knowing that Taehyung’s not around, like Jungkook can press a hand over his unloving heart and remind himself that love is not over for him.

He can love again. He can.

Jeon Jungkook is broken in important places, but he’s patching himself up at his own pace, fitting pieces of himself into parts that it can mostly fit into. Jungkook lives and he breathes and yes, sometimes he misses Taehyung but he’s here. He’s real.

Taehyung’s an opia.

Jimin laughs into Jungkook’s eyes and then he says he needs to get some water so he leaves the room. Jungkook sighs, scratching his cheek. 

All’s well, all’s good.

Jungkook is okay. He’s going to be okay.

He’s not going to be a hundred percent but he’s going to try his hardest to get to that point. You can’t fix schizophrenia, but you can suppress it and yes he’s going to be on medication for the rest of his life and he’s going to have to visit the hospital for checkups and he’s going to be on guard all the time, but the fact is that he’s been to hell and back and he’s alive.

He might still feel the pound of his dead father’s fists against his body and he might have to go to his mother in jail to see her, but they’re alive, they survived. They got through hell and came out burnt and bloodied but they’re whole now. Jungkook tells Hoseok that he thinks brighter days are up ahead and the intern just laughs at him, fake punching his shoulder and teasing, “You sound like a love drunk idiot.”

He supposes he is because his heart still loves for an opia, but that’s fine. Hoseok reminds him that time heals all wounds, Jimin stays over at the villa on most days to play Fifa and have epic pillow fights until someone yells at them to shut the fuck up. Jungkook falls asleep in a bed and his mother goes for therapy for her guilt and PTSD. Jungkook thinks that the storm’s over, at least for now.

No one’s ever going to be whole- but has anyone ever been that way anyway?

Jungkook smiles into himself, tilting his head up to the ceiling when he hears something tap against a window. He blinks, turning his head slowly. It’s so bright out- had it always been this way? Had everything been this clear?- so he rubs his fists into his eyes to clear them and then his breath stops in his throat and his vision blurs.

Kim Taehyung.

-----

THE END