Hoseok reaches across the table and grabs Jimin’s hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. “Are you really going to do this?” His voice is in shock, disbelief dripping off his words. Hoseok’s always been an open book, and right now he looked pale with dread, and there was no denying how clearly he thought this was a bad idea.
“Yes,” Jimin whispers and his hands are clammy around the thin stack of papers – papers that are about to change his life, throw it completely off its axis.
“But Jimin…” Hoseok trails off and looks to Taehyung for help. Taehyung offers little – he’s in shock too. He’s staring at his coffee mug with blank eyes and it scares Jimin how dead they look.
He knew this would shake his friends, but to this extent? He wonders if this is how he should be reacting, but he’s not. He feels tired over the whole ordeal, honestly. “Guys, really, this… this doesn’t change anything.”
Taehyung reacts to that. He looks up at Jimin with an angry, almost aggressive stare, looking downright insulted. They have been friends since middle school and Taehyung has never, ever looked at him like that. It makes Jimin’s blood run cold, freezing his veins, prickling his skin. He’s seething. “How can you say that?”
“This changes everything,” Taehyung hisses and Hoseok flinches back at the sheer bitterness of his tone.
Jimin feels a surge of irritation. “I’m telling you this is what I want. Jungkook and I barely see each other, and when we do we just argue. I’m over this. Shouldn’t you at least try to be supportive? Please? I don’t want to fight with you too.” He feels tears prick the back of his eyelids and the stress over the last few weeks rest heavily on his shoulders. He’s exhausted, he really is.
Taehyung breaths out harshly, fingers curling into a fist. He grits his teeth and glances away. Jimin wants to shy away from the tension that consumed them. Taehyung is not this sort of person, but right now it looked like it was taking everything he had in him to stay calm. “I can’t believe you’re just giving up.”
Now that hurts.
His words are sharp and they cut deep. Jimin feels it all the way to his heart, splintering across his body, crippling him with pain. “That’s not fair.” His voice catches and Hoseok squeezes his hand again in small comfort. “Jungkook wants this too.”
“Jung – Jungkook? Wha – you’re so fucking – fuck,” Taehyung cusses and pushes his chair away from the table they shared in the corner of the café, like he couldn’t stomach being near Jimin any longer. Taehyung sounds positively murderous, thank goodness no one was sitting close to them. “Do you even hear yourself?”
“What do you mean?” Jimin is getting exasperated. He’s guilty about this already, and Taehyung was making it worse. Since they became a couple, Taehyung had always been their biggest supporter. He introduced them to each other, cheered them on when things got difficult, and helped them make up when they fought. They wouldn’t have made it this far without Taehyung, but it was over now – it couldn’t go on like this anymore.
“Jungkook would take a fucking bullet for you. He’d do anything if you asked,” Taehyung snaps heatedly, running a hand through his hair.
Jimin swallows and a lump in his throat forms because he knows it’s true, or at least, was true. They would have done anything for each other. But it’s not the same – they’re not the same. “He said he wants this too,” he says again, it’s all he can think of at that moment. Jimin’s heart tightens inside his chest and the part of him that is still in love with Jungkook resents those words.
Taehyung shakes his head in what seems like utter pity. He scoffs angrily before standing up. “Then fine, get the divorce. If he said so. It’s your choice, at the end of the day.”
“He did… Taehyung, please, don’t go,” Jimin begs but Taehyung’s stalked off in quick strides, jacket resting over one arm, exiting the café without sparing a glance back. He’s furious.
Jimin wants to roll his eyes because this really has nothing to do with Taehyung, but he can’t because Taehyung is his best friend and what he thinks matters, it matters a lot and it always has.
“Should we go after him?” Hoseok whispers and Jimin feels even guiltier. Hoseok hates conflict, avoids it at all cost, and Jimin knows his friend is trying to stay strong for him and he shouldn’t have to. He hates dragging Hoseok through this.
“I don’t know,” Jimin replies, broken. He looks at Hoseok with watery eyes. His husband hates him, and now his best friend hates him. He wants to go after Taehyung, but he doesn’t know what else to say. This wasn’t a decision he just settled on yesterday. “Hyung, you – what do you think?”
Hoseok opens and closes his mouth, torn between the colliding opinions. “Um… well... I don’t know. I think you should do what’s best, I guess.”
Jimin wipes his eyes with the back of his hand. “I don’t know anymore. God, I don’t know. It never used to be this hard.”
Hoseok looked like he wanted to say something, but he didn’t.
“Jiminie, meet Jungkook,” Taehyung smiles and pats Jimin on the back, encouraging. He’s wearing that smirk that Jimin knows by now to be weary of.
It’s a warm day. The first day of spring.
“Hi, hyung,” Jungkook waves, ducks his head in politeness. He’s younger, but he’s much taller. His face is sharp and defined and he doesn’t look the image of a nineteen year old at all. Jimin’s seen him around the university campus before, always the centre of attention with friends on either side, never alone. There’s a slight air of confidence around him, but it’s not arrogant or uptight, in fact, when he smiles he looks a bit shy.
Jimin isn’t much better, though. He’s talkative, but not around strangers. Especially attractive, popular ones. “Hello. Nice to meet you.”
They trail off into awkward silence and uncomfortable glances.
Taehyung sighs dramatically at his two friends. “Wow. This went well.”
Jimin frowns at him. “Well, maybe it would be less weird if you told us why you wanted us to meet in the first place?”
“Oh,” Taehyung laughs to himself, shameless. He turns to Jungkook who raises an eyebrow in curiosity, more poised with Taehyung. “You see, Jimin and his boyfriend broke up and he’s been moping for weeks. He’s no fun at all. And Jungkook, well, you’re the complete opposite of Jimin’s ex-boyfriend. So, maybe you two could go on a date or something, give me my best friend back. You know?”
“What?” Jimin gawks and his cheeks redden in humiliation. Why was he friends with Taehyung, really? “Jungkook – no, don’t listen to him –”
“Sure,” Jungkook laughs and tilts his head at Jimin. “Let’s go on a date.”
What. Jimin’s eyes widen, incredulous. “But… why?”
“Well, we – we just met!”
“Got to start somewhere, right?” Jungkook chuckles and takes Jimin’s hand, smirk playing on his lips, coyness gone. His complete change in mood and attitude has Jimin doing a double take.
Jimin gulps because Jungkook is the epitome of handsome. His eyes are smouldering and his jawline chiselled, with high cheekbones and casually ruffled hair. He’s broad shouldered and toned and his voice is deep and inviting.
People like Jimin, small and nerdy and reserved are not seen with people like Jungkook.
Taehyung clasps his hands together and does a small, happy dance. “See? I told you I’d make you feel better, Jiminie. You just have to trust me.”
They go on a date that day, actually. They walk around the streets at first, just talking, getting to know each other, and then they stop at a gaming arcade and Jungkook destroys him no matter what they play. It doesn’t feel like a date, more like he was just hanging out with a friend, but it’s the most fun he’s had in a while.
There was a moment when they could have kissed, but Jungkook pulled away and Jimin’s glad he did.
They bought street food after and sat on a bench in the park, chatting a bit more. Jungkook is easy to talk to.
Jimin’s break up with his boyfriend had been messy, like ‘caught-him-cheating’ messy. Jimin hadn’t loved him, but nevertheless he had been hurt. He felt pathetic and used. Jungkook really was the opposite of him. His ex-boyfriend had been lazy, full of dry humour, and not a big fan of going out. Jungkook, on the other hand, was overly competitive, constantly teasing and eager to head out to parties and social events.
The change was refreshing, and Jungkook was nice.
Jimin returns back to the dorm with butterflies in his stomach, fluttering over the flowering of a crush, so fitting for the first day of the new season. His mind is filled with the boy in the white t-shirt and brown Timberlands. His roommate, Hoseok, asks him why he’s in such a good mood and Jimin can’t contain it inside him. But Hoseok responds with worry, “Jeon Jungkook? The freshman?”
“Just be careful with him, Jiminie. He goes on dates with almost anyone,” Hoseok said.
Petals quietly wither and die when he sees Jungkook passionately kissing somebody else the next day.
Jimin feels a twinge of disappointment but it’s passing and trivial.
Taehyung says he didn’t think Jimin would fall for him, he just wanted to get him out of the dorm and over his lousy ex-boyfriend, but Jimin says it’s okay because it is. It was just a crush, and over before it really began.
He’s not upset, but actually glad because going on the date with Jungkook had let him escape the gloom of his breakup. He doesn’t think about Jungkook much for the rest of semester, until they find themselves at a party hosted by a sophomore. Neither of them know who the sophomore is besides a name, but he knew how to throw a good party and that was all that mattered.
“I haven’t seen you in a while,” Jungkook smiles, eyes crinkling at the corners. He leans back on the wall, a hand in his pocket. He’s laid-back and casual like he’s done this a hundred times before, and he probably has. “Over your ex-boyfriend now?”
“Can barely remember his name anymore,” Jimin replies cheekily. He’s had a few drinks so he feels a bit of a buzz, and it makes him brasher than usual.
Jungkook’s tongue darts out of his mouth to wet his lips, pleased. “Good.”
Then he cups the back of Jimin’s head and kisses him.
Jimin stands up and throws on his jacket, and when he zips it up it feels looser than usual. He’s lost too much weight in the past few weeks. He’s been stressed and confused and the mere thought of food made his stomach lurch.
“Jimin, just… just think about it?” Hoseok suggested as he, too, got up. Jimin knows Hoseok’s secretly sided with Taehyung on this, but he doesn’t want to say it. The fact that Hoseok’s trying to be understanding is enough for Jimin already.
“I’ve been thinking about this for ages. I can’t sleep or eat or work,” Jimin presses a hand to his forehead, a headache forming; it had become a familiar, dull ache. “I can’t do this anymore.” He feels spent and drained all the time and everything feels like a chore, but when he finally lays in bed his mind is spinning and sleep doesn’t come to save him.
“Okay,” Hoseok sighs, defeated and sympathetic, and pulls Jimin into a warm hug. Jimin needs this more than he realises. “Okay. Call me once you’re done? I’ll go with you tomorrow to… to hand the papers in.”
Jimin thinks he can do it by himself, wants to do it by himself, but when he picks the papers off the table it feels like it weighs a million tonnes. He wonders if he really could let them go, let them destroy eight years of his life, eight years of laughter and tears and unconditional love – worthless now. He shouldn’t think about it like this, because they were experiences that made him who he is, as Namjoon likes to say, but no matter how Jimin phrases it it’s all the same. Eight years, and all for this.
All for nothing.
“Thanks, hyung,” Jimin whispers into Hoseok’s shoulder. “Thank you.”
He keeps his gaze on the floor as he leaves the café, parting ways with Hoseok in the carpark. Jimin unlocks his car and feels whatever little strength left in his body dissolve when he sits down in front of the wheel. He feels numb – a horrible sort of numb.
Detached. Drifting. Lost.
Eight years is a long time to be with someone, especially when you thought he was the love of your life, and maybe Jungkook is. The greatest loves are often tragic. The greatest loves don’t always last, and maybe they’re not meant to. They’re big and explosive and when it’s ablaze it’s magical, but when it’s smothered to ashes – it’s a memory, a dying fire. Still, it burned for them for quite a long time which is some sort of feat in itself, right?
It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like failure.
Jimin puts the papers on the passenger seat and a sense of purpose fills his body, makes him put the keys in the ignition, start the engine.
His chest hurts as he reverses out of the park and his hands move on their own accord, steering him onto the road that will inevitably lead him to their luxury apartment, the one they bought when they got married. They’ll have to decide who gets that too. Personally, Jimin doesn’t want it, doesn’t think he can bear to live in it, not when it’ll always linger with the absence of Jungkook. And yet, Jimin doesn’t know if he’ll be able to let it go. He can’t swallow the idea of Jungkook bringing back new people to the flat, sleeping with them in the same bed they made love in so many times, cooking for them in the kitchen Jimin once flooded, or Jungkook leaving sweet messages or stupid jokes in the foggy bathroom mirror after he showered.
Maybe they can sell it and split the profit.
But then, Jimin doesn’t know if he can bear other people moving in, maybe a couple like them, rewriting over their memories. Eight years and they’d be nothing, like they never existed, like it never happened. Like it never mattered.
Jungkook and Jimin. Done. Over. The end.
Jimin makes himself pull over and he feels sick.
It’s not the idea of leaving Jungkook, it’s the idea of letting those eight years go – until now it’s been everything, Jungkook had meant everything. Jimin’s just afraid of change, of moving, of starting over… he always has been.
That’s what Jimin tells himself, anyway.
He puts his head on the steering wheel and cries.
They don’t start dating after the party.
They hang out and kiss, just small pecks here and there, but they’re not together. They don’t do it all the time, just when one feels exceptionally happy or terribly sad or they lean in close and it’s just more natural to kiss than awkwardly lean away.
It’s fun. Jungkook is fun, and Jimin is crushing on him, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it, not yet anyway. Jungkook still goes on dates and flirts shamelessly whenever he sees someone attractive – he’s blatantly not looking for anything serious. His dates are always passing, fleeting, temporary.
Jimin, however, is a constant.
No matter how many times Jungkook tires of someone, he never bores of Jimin. He sleeps over in his dorm and blares Big Bang songs obnoxiously loud and tries to sit on the same chair as they watch anime on Jimin’s crappy, old laptop.
Jimin likes being Jungkook’s friend. He sometimes wishes for a little more, but it’s enough.
It’s Jungkook who actually wants it to become something more first. Their relationship begins to change when Jaebum asks Jimin if he wants to go watch a band performing, one they both like. Jaebum is kind and has the most charming eye smile, and he and Jimin have been friends since they started university. Jimin’s ecstatic. It’s one of those outdoor concerts and everyone basically screams and cheers and dances clumsily to the music and all in all have a good time.
“You don’t think it’s a date, do you?” he asks Jungkook who’s sprawled across his bed, scrolling on his phone. Jimin wonders because sometimes he thinks he catches Jaebum staring a little too long, and he’s always terribly nice to him, and maybe even flirted once or twice.
The younger looks up, distracted. “Huh?”
“This concert thing,” Jimin sighs and sits down on the bed. “I mean, it’s just the two of us as far as I know and… I sort of get this feeling that he may like me a bit more?”
Jungkook sits up slowly, eyebrows furrowed, phone forgotten. “Do you like him?”
“Not like that,” Jimin mumbles because it’s totally weird to have this type of conversation with the person he does happen to like. “He didn’t say it was a date, but… I mean, I don’t want to lead him on and let him think I like him back.”
Jungkook looks a little pleased. “Ah… yeah.”
“Geez, how do you do this so often?” Jimin chuckles as he pockets his wallet, making sure he had withdrawn enough money to catch the bus and buy some food.
Jungkook shrugs, glancing away. “I think most people know I’m not really serious about them, anyhow. They just want a good time. I’m sort of doing them a favour.”
“Ah, I see, you’re a good Samaritan,” Jimin laughs as he slips into his shoes (“Exactly,” Jungkook nods), leaning down to tie the long laces. “But I really don’t want to give him any false hope.” He finished one foot and started the other. “Though I could just be stressing over nothing, I guess.”
Jungkook smiles. “Mm. Good luck, hyung.”
“See you,” Jimin waves and stands up, heading for the door. “Lock the door when you leave, okay?”
“Yes,” Jungkook replies exasperatedly, letting his body fall back down on the bed, messing up Jimin’s neatly set out bed covers.
Jimin has an awesome time with Jaebum. The band is spectacular and the crowd invigorating and by the time it ends Jimin’s tired from all the dancing and cheering and jumping around. Jaebum is nice and walks Jimin to his dorm room, even though his housing was on the other side of the campus. He opens the door and is surprised when he sees Jungkook still there, now flipping through one of Jimin’s textbooks, looking more at the pictures than the writing.
“Jungkook?” Jimin raises an eyebrow. “What are you still doing here?”
He expects maybe Hoseok to be there, but the empty bed on the other side of the room probably meant he was staying over at Yoongi’s or Taehyung’s. Jungkook looks at Jimin blankly before shifting his gaze to Jaebum who has a hand on the small of Jimin’s back. Jungkook clears his throat and lets the textbook fall shut. “I lost track of time. Sorry, hyung.”
“Ah, it’s fine,” Jimin brushes it off because it’s not really the first time Jungkook’s stayed up until early morning in his room, too lazy to walk back to his own dorm room just a story down.
“Did you two… want the room?” Jungkook asks slowly. There’s a weird undertone to it that’s not usually there – threatening? Troubled? Jealous? Jimin’s too tired to bother about it.
Jaebum coughs in embarrassment and Jimin flushes a deep crimson. What the hell. He told Jungkook he didn’t like Jaebum, why would he ask that?
“N-No, I’m leaving,” Jaebum rubs his neck awkwardly. “I’ll see you at the lecture Monday, Jimin?”
Jimin smiles despite his warm cheeks. “Yeah. Thanks for tonight. It was fun.”
Jaebum returns the smile, dimpled and sweet. He waves before walking away. Jimin steps in and closes the door, kicking off his shoes and emptying the contents of his pockets – wallet, phone, loose change. “Don’t say things like that Jungkookie!” he exclaims as soon as he’s sure Jaebum has left hearing distance. “It’s embarrassing!”
“Well, sorry, but you came back together, what was I supposed to think?” Jungkook scoffs but he seems oddly satisfied with himself.
“Don’t you walk your dates to their door?”
“Yeah, when I want to get in their pants.”
“Romantic,” Jimin throws his pyjama shirt at Jungkook who catches it and flings it back.
Jungkook props himself up against the headboard as Jimin took off his rings, laying them onto his desk. “Are you two like a thing, now?”
Jimin shakes his head, “I told you it’s not like that.”
“Well, he definitely liked you. A blind person could tell.”
He wishes Jungkook wouldn’t say that because it might strain his friendship with Jaebum. “It’s good I don’t like him, then.”
“Because,” Jimin sits down on the bed in front of Jungkook who’s peering at him with curiosity, grinning cheekily, “then we wouldn’t be able to kiss and hug anymore.”
Jungkook stares blankly at him, silent, and Jimin panics and wonders if he hit some sort of nerve. But then, Jungkook grins and clutches the nape of Jimin’s neck, eyes dancing with amusement. “And wouldn’t that be a shame.”
Jimin leans in for a chaste kiss, that’s how it always is between them, but Jungkook tugs him closer and runs his tongue across Jimin’s bottom lip. Instinctively, his mouth opens and Jungkook slips his tongue in, pressing it against his, running it around the inside of his gums, the roof of his mouth. Jimin’s face is burning with shock and happiness and his hands grip onto Jungkook’s arms – strong and sturdy. Jimin snaps back when he makes a small sound of pleasure, incredibly embarrassed.
“Jungkook, what the hell was that?” Jimin’s voice is low and whispery, like the fact they kissed is a dangerous secret.
Jungkook plays dumb. “What was what?”
“That kiss! We don’t – we don’t do that!”
“Yeah, why don’t we? We really should.”
The butterflies in Jimin’s stomach have gone crazy. “We can’t. It’s too – too…”
Jimin is not the sort of person who can do the whole ‘friends with benefits.’ Even with Jungkook, there are strings attached, at least for one of them. The small kisses were easy to control and Jimin could cope, but this? Definitely not. He already knew he was going to spend the next few days obsessing over it.
“Too what?” Jungkook presses.
“It’s just… not us,” Jimin argues, wishing Jungkook would just drop it.
“No. Not us. And there isn’t even an ‘us,’ really,” Jimin admits, hoping he doesn’t sound pathetic.
Jungkook bites his lip, glances away briefly, nervous. “Can’t there be?”
Jimin blinks, startled by his response. He wasn’t expecting that. “What does that mean?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“But… but you don’t date people, like more than once.”
Jungkook makes a sound of exasperation. “I don’t like them as much as I like you.”
“That’s hard to believe considering you went out with someone a few days ago,” Jimin mumbles but his heart is doing freaking gymnastics in his chest and he does not appreciate the strange feelings he’s getting.
Jungkook falters. Despite what people may say, Jungkook is not a slut. A playboy, absolutely, but not a slut. He doesn’t sleep with everyone he goes on a date with, in fact a shockingly minuscule percent of them, and doesn’t necessarily kiss them all the time either.
“I mean,” Jimin sighs. “It doesn’t seem like you like me that much, you know. And… I don’t want to stop being friends. I don’t want to be one of them to you, Jungkook.”
Jungkook exhales dejectedly. “But… I don’t know… it was just weird when Jaebum looked at you, that’s all,” Jungkook stands up and slips off the bed, grabbing his earphones off Jimin’s floor. “I think I’m just going to go back to my dorm… I’ll see you.”
“Okay,” Jimin replies because he thinks that’s best. It’s too awkward now. “Bye.” He’s worried, but reassures himself it’ll all work out. His small crush is even greater now, fuelling itself on Jungkook’s confession (did it even count as a confession?). He ruffles his hair and heads to the shower, hoping he hasn’t screwed things up between them.
The next day, they’re back to normal, or as normal as they can be whilst ignoring the elephant in the room. That day in the university cafeteria, Jimin sees Jungkook do something he’s never done before.
A girl asks for his number, and he says no.
Two months later, Jungkook is still the talk of the campus, but for a different reason. He’s stopped dating around. It’s gossiped about and beheld like some spectacular, ground-breaking record.
At the start of the third month, he’s finally got another hand clasped in his. And it’s the same hand he’s holding the month after, and the month after that, and for the next eight years.
Jimin wipes the leftover tears staining his face when the hiccups have reduced and he’s not making those awful sobbing noises. His eyes are red and swollen and his throat feels constricted.
“I can do this,” Jimin grips the steering wheel as cars pass him on the road, and he’s slightly conscious of their questioning stares.
Perhaps they wonder what he’s doing, parked on the side of a relatively busy street.
Car trouble? Needing directions? Checking his phone?
Does it cross any of their minds that maybe Jimin’s world is crumbling before him, pieces shattering before he can catch them, destroyed by the brutal words they shouted at each other, too passionate to just be from the heat of the moment?
Could any of them understand what it’s like feeling like you can’t breathe, choking on your self-loathing, suffocated by endless ‘what if’s and smothered by the image of a future you’ve given up?
Can any of them fathom the agony of feeling like your walking on landmines, and every second your blood runs colder and before you know it you’re already bleeding out and by the time you misstep, it doesn’t even matter? You barely feel the explosion as it rips through your body and tears you apart – you’ve already felt it before, and the second time is almost a relief, almost a mercy. You’re going down with the mess you created – a beautiful, catastrophic wreck.
Jimin makes a pitiful sound as he claws at his throat, chest heaving. His heart rate is racing and a sweat has broken out across his body.
He’s having a panic attack.
They first started after Jimin saw a young child get hit by a car one late afternoon.
He was in a nearby convenience store and glanced outside when he heard pedestrians shrieking and car tyres screeching on the road as brakes are floored. The child is knocked onto the car windscreen and the car swerves into a lamppost. The driver loses his life the next day, the child will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Any life is precious, but this child – who Jimin doesn’t even know the gender of because he was too far away – reminded him of his little brother back in Busan. Jimin is numb as he walks away, numb when he opens the door to their then old flat. He’s numb when Jungkook looks up from the kitchen counter, frowning at a cook book and trying to figure out the difference between slicing and chopping. Jimin is finally pulled under by the tide and drowning in his sea of emotions – grief, fear, anguish - when Jungkook asks if he’s okay.
How can he be?
Jungkook is quiet and patient as he brings Jimin back to the surface. He then holds his hand as Jimin calls his younger brother who is left very confused as to why Jimin is asking about his health all of a sudden, as well as reminding him how to cross a road and, if possible, to just avoid it altogether.
Jimin unbuckles the seatbelt and throws open the door with frantic hands. Air rushes down his lungs and stops him from doubling over. He supports his frail body against the car, squeezing his eyes shut, steadying himself. He doesn’t know how long he actually stays that way, maybe a minute or two. Someone pulls over and asks if he’s okay, and Jimin forces a smile and waves them off.
They don’t know he’s falling apart.
Or maybe they do. Maybe they can see the heartbreak all over him. Maybe they all can.
The pain worsens when he realises he’s waiting. For something. For someone.
His ears are straining to hear a voice - kind and crisp and calming. He’s waiting for long arms to wrap around his waist, a chin to rest on his shoulder, a kiss against his temple. It’s not there, he’s not there.
Jimin swallows, his mouth feels dry. “I can do this.”
This has to end. He can’t continue tip-toing around Jungkook, trying to decipher his mood, hoping he doesn’t upset him. It’s been going on for almost six months. Jungkook is working himself to the bone – he’s stressed and tired all the time. Jimin feels like he’s annoying him whenever he's around. He can’t remember the last time they kissed, or even held each other. He can’t remember the last time they had dinner together or watched a movie or just talked. He can’t remember the last time Jungkook laughed or smiled at him, wrote one of those stupid messages on the steam coated mirror.
It’s not just Jungkook. Jimin has to travel sometimes for work, and the trips increased significantly this year. He became short-tempered from all the jet-lag and constant packing and time differences. He snapped at Jungkook when the younger asked him to do something, got angry when Jungkook complained about traveling so frequently, made all sorts of ridiculous, groundless claims. Of all the things he can’t remember, every image of Jungkook’s distraught expressions are imprinted in his memory.
The one that he sees the clearest is when he suggested a divorce – it was just an idea then. Still, Jungkook was beyond livid. There was no “we can work through this” or “I still love you.” It was angry, betrayed accusations and heated insults – all they did was blame each other for their crumpling marriage, neither able to step back and reflect, neither wanting to be at fault.
By the time they finished screaming at each other Jimin couldn’t hold on – what was he even holding on to? Lonely nights and an empty apartment and a husband who barely looked twice at him.
“I can’t keep doing this, Jungkook,” Jimin cried softly, face blotchy with tears, voice raw from yelling. “I can’t. This is going to drive me insane. I want a divorce. This just isn’t working.”
Jungkook’s head was lowered and he had a hand on the dining table, strained. “Then let’s get a divorce.”
Jimin packed a bag and left. Jungkook didn’t try to stop him, perhaps looked glad when he finally walked away. He drove to Taehyung’s at three in the morning. His best friend gaped at him with half-open eyes, bleary and confused. Jimin looked like he’d pulled himself through a storm – a storm of misery and grief and his hopeless love for Jungkook, and he almost got completely swept away with the debris.
“Tae,” he choked and Taehyung wordlessly let him in.
Jimin explained it all the next day. Taehyung had no idea it had gotten so bad, and Jimin understood because he had always made it seem smaller than it was. But even Taehyung didn’t quite believe Jimin would go through with it. Once before, when they were still dating, they had a brief breakup after some jealous spat but a week later they were back in each other’s arms, lovey-dovey as ever. But this time, two and a half weeks later, neither had tried to call each other and Jimin was going to see Jungkook to sever everything forever. Taehyung urged Jimin to talk to Jungkook, call him or go back to the apartment, something – anything.
They have overcome mountains together, sometimes jumped right off them, young and reckless, but this – a divorce, especially one like this – they can’t survive that. There’s no hope for friendship. It was never platonic between them to begin with.
Jimin gets back in the car and begins to drive again.
He’s going to lose Jeon Jungkook.
He’s going to lose his husband, the sappy, teasing boyfriend, the secretly dorky university student, the nineteen year old boy in the white t-shirt and brown Timberlands.
Jimin sighs as he tilts his neck to the side, resting against Jungkook’s dark hair, flipping the page of his notebook and internally dying at the page of notes. He can’t wait to be done and finished with university. He’s excited to get a proper, well-paying job and start buying nice things and sending some money back to his parents. Unfortunately, there was one last hurdle left. This exam.
“Maybe you should take a break,” Jungkook suggests as he lifts up the cardboard takeaway cup of coffee and hands it Jimin who sips it gratefully.
Then he cringes. It’s bitter. Jungkook takes his coffee black with one sugar, whilst Jimin likes his coffee with milk or cream. “This is yours.” He puts it back on the desk.
“I know. You drank yours half an hour ago,” Jungkook says flatly. His other arm is curled loosely around Jimin’s waist. Jimin, as the lighter of the two, always sits on Jungkook’s lap. The younger always complains after about his thighs being numb but he’s also the one who isn’t complacent with simply sitting beside Jimin in the first place.
Jimin leans forward and scans his notes, trying to ignore the kisses Jungkook was peppering across his neck, hand slipping just under the hem of his shirt.
“I’m going to miss you,” Jungkook mumbles into his skin.
Jimin blinks, surprised by his down tone. “What are you talking about? I’ll still be in Seoul.” Jimin bites his lip, wondering if he should ask Jungkook now.
Jungkook squeezes his waist. “It won’t be the same.”
“It’s only for a year, then you’ll be finished too.”
Although there was a two year gap between them, Jimin’s course ran for five years whilst Jungkook’s was only four.
“I guess,” Jungkook pouts and it amazes Jimin how he changes from a smirking, cocky tease to an adorable, doe-eyed baby. Sometimes he can’t believe they’re the same person. Jungkook pecked his lips before fishing out his phone, going back to whatever game he had been doing before. Probably piano tiles.
Jimin tries to refocus back on revising, but the words mesh together and just look like a bunch of scribbles and scrawls. “Jungkookie,” he says and the younger hums in response. “Do you… Do you want to move in with me next year?”
Jungkook almost drops his phone – the device slips and he fumbles with it before settling it on the desk. He looks up at Jimin with wide eyes. “Really?”
“Y-Yeah. It’s close to the university and there’s only one bedroom but we can… we’ll… obviously,” Jimin blushes and glances down, suddenly feeling very exposed. “Only if you want to. You can say no – I won’t be offended.”
“Baby,” Jungkook whispers and he’s gone back to being playful, “you love me that much?”
“What the hell?” Jimin rolls his eyes. “Of course I do.” Jungkook is smiling at him all happy and it’s warmer and brighter than the sun – Jimin is getting burnt by it. “Quit staring. Do you want to or not?”
“Fuck, yes,” Jungkook laughs and kisses Jimin’s cheek and then his jawline and then the corner of his mouth. “Are you sure, though? If this is about what I said earlier, don’t worry, okay? We’ll find time to meet up.”
“It’s not, I kind of already had a key cut out for you. We’ve been together for almost three years anyway, it was probably time,” Jimin mutters but he’s pleased, indescribably pleased. “It’s not a big apartment or anything...”
“It’ll be fine,” Jungkook chuckles and brings Jimin closer so his back is pressed flushed against his chest, warm and secure. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too.”
“Yes, well, who doesn’t?”
“Oh my, God. Shut up, and kiss me before I change my mind.”
They end up passionately making out for the next ten minutes, Jimin with a hand around Jungkook’s shoulder, body twisted backwards to kiss him deeper. Jungkook has one hand gripping the desk, the other on Jimin’s waist, under his shirt. They are completely lost in their own little bubble until the librarian looks into the study room and knocks on the window, scolding them with her fierce glare.
Jimin ducks his head in embarrassment, apologetic, whilst Jungkook throws his head back and laughs. He gets kicked out of the library a few minutes later and Jimin is glad because he can now study in peace, left with a content, fuzzy feeling in his stomach.
The day they move in is still one of Jimin’s favourite moments. The furniture all arrived in the morning and they spent the rest of the day unpacking their boxes. They lightly squabble over the setting out of the rooms and how to organise their things.
Their friends come along for dinner, bringing with them some food because they figured Jimin and Jungkook would be too tired to cook. Taehyung and Hoseok are like two excited terriers, bounding around the apartment with the energy of five year olds. Namjoon and Yoongi sit at the table, laughing and catching up with Jungkook. Seokjin and Jimin warm up the food and set out plates and utensils.
“Could you grab the wine up there?” Seokjin asks, plates of food in both hands, nodding up at the bottle in the top cupboard. He’s walked off before Jimin could protest.
Jimin curses his genetics for his short height, then curses Jungkook twice – once for putting it up so high, and then again for having been so eager with him today. He probably could reach it if he stood on his toes and stretched up, but when he tried to do just that pain shot up his back and he winced.
“It’s a new mattress. We have to break it in,” Jungkook had stated, solemn and serious, and Jungkook had looked extremely sexy today constructing the furniture in a loose singlet with his toned biceps on display, tongue out in the corner of his lips in intense concentration.
Jimin motions as discreetly as possible to Jungkook from the other side of the kitchen counter. Luckily, Namjoon and Yoongi are seated with their back to Jimin. His boyfriend raises an eyebrow but stands up all the same, walking over to Jimin, hands in his pockets. “Yes, baby?”
“Could you get that?” Jimin points up at the bottle. Jungkook follows the pointed index finger and snickers into his palm, eyes crinkling in amusement. Jimin hits him. “Do not laugh. It’s your fault.”
“How is it my fault?”
“You put it up there, and,” Jimin narrows his eyes and makes sure none of their friends are nearby, “my back hurts.”
Jungkook blinks innocently. “From what?”
“I’m not even going to reply to that,” Jimin scoffs. “Can you just get it?”
Jungkook easily reaches up and grabs the bottle, handing it to Jimin with a teasing wink. Jimin resists the urge to hit him again. He walks to the table where Taehyung and Hoseok have finally seated, already piling their plates with food. Seokjin takes the wine bottle and then his smile falters.
“Are you alright? You’re limping,” Seokjin asks, concerned.
Taehyung chokes on his food and Hoseok covers his mouth with his hand. Yoongi doesn’t even care.
Jimin feels his cheeks redden. “It’s just from all the work today.”
“He did it when he was breaking the mattress in,” Jungkook says, unashamed. He sits down casually and picks up his chopsticks. Jimin is mortified.
It takes half a second for the implication to set in and then Namjoon laughs and pats Jungkook on the back like a proud older brother whilst Seokjin looks embarrassed for asking and Hoseok and Taehyung are shaking their heads in pretend disappointment.
Yoongi just asks Jimin to pass him the kimchi.
“You two need some sort of control,” Taehyung mutters, mouth half full. “Even when you two kiss I’m afraid you’re just going to jump each other and start doing it in front of me.”
“Gross, Taehyung,” Jimin scowls and kicks him under the table. He misses and kicks Yoongi instead. He looks up with a frown. “Sorry Yoongi-hyung.”
“You two are the ones that are gross,” Taehyung cackles.
“Ah, leave them alone,” Hoseok grins, but then changes his mind and decides teasing them (which is really just Jimin because Jungkook is almost completely unaffected) is way too fun. “Besides, if you think them kissing is gross, imagine how I feel - Jungkook once started unbuckling his belt when I was still in the room.”
“Can we not talk about this?” Jimin squeaks, face burning as the others laugh and proceed to reminisce on Jimin and Jungkook’s cheesiest, sappiest, and inappropriate PDA moments, even going so far as to rank them.
Jungkook puts an arm on the back of Jimin’s chair and leans across. He’s wearing that cocky, smug expression and his eyes are dark with desire. Jimin knows that face very well.
“W-What are you doing?” Jimin sputters.
“Adding another onto the list,” Jungkook smirks before he captures Jimin’s lips in a heated kiss which has Jimin clutching onto Jungkook’s shirt.
“Oh my, God, stop.”
“That’s my boy.”
“Can you not.”
“Guys, I’m trying to eat.”
“Can someone please pass me the damn kimchi?”
That night, once their friends had all left with plans to meet up at Hoseok’s flat, and then the following day Taehyung’s, Jimin was lounging on the new bed, face pressed into the clean sheets. He rolls himself onto his back and raises his hips in the air, one knee bent and the other extended. He lets out a small moan as he stretches his tired body out. His pyjama shirt – which is actually Jungkook’s t-shirt – slides down and bunches across his ribs.
They still have heaps of boxes to unpack and items to sort through, but they had plenty of time due to being on holidays. Jimin smiles lazily as he thinks about waking up to Jungkook’s beautiful face every morning.
Said male is currently resting against the doorway to the bathroom, brushing his teeth. He pauses, eyes following the gorgeous curve of Jimin’s body and manages to say through the toothpaste, “Are you trying to tempt me?”
Jimin recognises the drop in Jungkook’s tone. It makes Jimin’s thighs clench and his stomach tighten. He props himself on his side with a small smirk, “Is it working?”
“Then hurry up and come fuck me, baby,” Jimin licks his lips and rolls onto his back again, keeping the shirt hoisted up and parting his legs a fraction more. Jimin doesn’t swear often, but for these moments he makes an exception. Paired with the term of endearment, he knows he’s pushed all the right buttons.
Jungkook turns around abruptly and Jimin hears the tap run, then the sound of the toothbrush holder clinking. Then Jungkook is flicking off the bathroom light and striding to Jimin, eyes dark and ravenous.
Damn, he’s going to be wrecked tomorrow.
He arrives at the apartment and the building that once made his heart flutter in excitement, drawn to it by belonging and the knowledge he was going to be greeted back with a boyish grin and kiss, suddenly looked like a prison. A prison keeping locked up their happy memories, the key is lost somewhere in the past. Jimin’s scared if he walks in he’ll become a willing hostage.
He steels himself and gets out of the car, hands already beginning to shake. He can’t tell if it’s excitement – to be free of this marriage – or trepidation. He hopes it’s not the latter. Jimin makes it inside, to the elevator, to the correct floor, to the hall. He sees the grey door both beckoning and repelling him, the silver handle glinting in the white artificial light.
Jimin swallows and begins to walk.
He thinks about all the times he’s walked here, down this very hall, to this very door.
The very first day, the day they got married, running hand in hand, giggling in excitement as they slipped the key in, hearing the click – a new beginning.
The day Jimin surprised Jungkook by coming home two weeks early - the younger was sitting on the couch watching some drama, mouth falling open in surprise when Jimin snuck in to scare him. Jungkook almost punched him because he thought he was a burglar.
The day Jimin couldn’t keep his hands off Jungkook because he got a new haircut for his fancy job and the slightly parted hair made him look downright fine. Jimin has him pressed against the wall, hoping no one walks past, and Jungkook is smug beyond words.
The day Jimin came home from a horrible business trip, nothing had gone right, and Jungkook brushed past him, icy and aloof, not even sparing him a ‘welcome back.’
Jimin takes a deep breath and the papers in his hand crumple from how hard he’s gripping them. Almost like it’s his lifeline, and yet, it’s also what’s going to destroy him. No matter how much he needs this, Jimin knows it’s going to hurt like hell when it’s over. He’s just hoping he’ll be able to pick himself up, glue his fragile world back together and maybe one day the cracks will disappear.
Nothing could be worse than this, he tells himself. Nothing could be worse than the constant arguments, the resentful glares, the growing distance. He has to let Jungkook go, he’s so tired.
And maybe Jungkook’s already let him go too.
He can do this.
Jimin puts his hand on the handle, metal cool against his clammy palms. He doesn’t know what to expect. He hasn’t seen Jungkook in almost three weeks, and even though they’ve been apart for far longer, it’s felt like months. He pauses, wonders if he should knock, but then changes his mind. He still lives here too, and knocking just felt so… wrong. Like he was an outsider.
Jimin opens it slowly, heart pounding hard against his chest, nervous. He’s biting on his lip so hard he’s worried he’ll draw blood.
“Jungkook?” Jimin calls. His voice sounds weary and anxious as it echoes around the empty room, but Jungkook’s name sounds lovely regardless.
The kitchen looks the same as when he left it with a few extra cups and mugs to be washed. The TV is on but the volume is low and it’s lost in the background like white noise. One of Jungkook’s ties are draped over a dining chair, another on the carpet near the couch – he leaves his ties everywhere, treats them too carelessly considering how much he paid for them. But the place looks fine otherwise – tidy, organised, neat. It makes Jimin even more nervous, a little more upset. Then guilty, for having wanted Jungkook to suffer.
He’s fine without me.
Jimin wants to cry at the unfairness of it. He’s barely functioning – he’s had his second panic attack that month, his boss made him take some time off, he’s overdue for a good night’s sleep and now bordering underweight.
“Jungkook!” Jimin calls again, a little louder, and he hates the desperate edge to it. He wants to get these signed and then he wants to be out of here. The place is already drawing him back in with reminders of happier times when they snuggled on the couch and danced in the living room and painted the back wall a navy blue, splattering paint onto each other and getting drops on the floor – they ended up just covering it with a carpet, their own funny secret. He’s still clinging onto those memories, he doesn’t want to lose them even if he knows he has to.
Jungkook finally comes into view, descending the stairs, mouth pressed in a firm line. He’s wearing his black button up shirt and Jimin knows the fabric is smooth and soft and comfortable. He knows because he’s worn it countless times when he couldn’t be bothered to wear his own shirt - its Jimin’s favourite, for himself and on Jungkook. His hair isn’t styled but it still falls perfectly over his piercing eyes, and with his fitted black jeans, tall and lean, he looks like he’s stepped right off a magazine.
Jimin lays the paper on the table, the black print makes him shudder. He has to do this. Jungkook is in front of him and Jimin can’t look. He’s worried he’ll feel something like regret. He’s worried he’ll see the damage he’s done to Jungkook, or the damage he hasn’t.
“I’ve already… signed,” Jimin whispers and he knows Jungkook’s body briefly stiffens. The tense air between them is unwelcome, but not entirely unfamiliar. An uninvited stranger that’s made itself at home.
Jungkook leans down on the table, hand supporting his body weight as his eyes trace over the words. Jimin wants to ask how he’s been, if work is busy, if he’s spoken to Taehyung, but the words don’t make it past his lips. He feels out of place – they’ve never been here before, never thought they would. It’s new territory and Jimin doesn’t know the terrain. It’s dangerous, and makes him uneasy.
Unable to help it, Jimin’s gaze sweeps across Jungkook’s shoulder blades, the nape of his neck, his long arm, the silver band on his left ring finger.
Jimin’s own ring suddenly feels tight, like it doesn’t want to be taken off. Their wedding date is engraved on the inside, along with the initials of their first name – JK and JM. He’ll have to stop wearing it after this.
It hits him then that it’s really ending, they’re really ending, and Jimin is overwhelmed with confusing emotions. A part of him is thankful, the other is miserable.
It was like the past few weeks had been a blur, dreamlike, unreal, and he just hasn’t quite woken up until now.
His attention snaps back to reality when Jungkook looks up at him expectantly and Jimin realises he has spoken to him.
“Um, sorry?” Jimin asks, startled. He’s being swept up in those brown eyes, but they’re guarded. They never used to be, not to him. Jimin was always allowed in.
“Do you have a pen?” Jungkook repeats.
Jimin checks his pockets even though he knows he doesn’t. He’s sweating and going red under Jungkook’s stare, and he spins around, eyes scanning the room. He knows there are pens in the corner of the kitchen counter, right next to the phone and address book. Yet, he’s looking around the apartment like he hasn’t been living here for the past three years. “N-no… uh…”
“I’ll get it,” Jungkook straightens and strides to the counter, swiftly picking up the black pen before walking back. He clicks it and touches the tip to the paper.
Jimin can’t look. A frosty hand seizes his heart and it struggles to continue beating. A chill runs through his veins.
He’s really signing it.
But this is what he wants, right?
Jimin’s nails unconsciously dig into his palms and when Jungkook flips the page it feels like a part of him is being ripped away. Jimin’s been walking on broken glass and now they’ve finally cut into his feet. Each time Jungkook signs, quick and hasty, it’s another tally, another scar.
Jimin’s bleeding out. He doesn’t know what to do.
“Done,” Jungkook says and his voice is surprisingly soft and gentle, like he’s scared speaking any louder will send Jimin toppling over, and he just might.
He takes it and it feels heavier than it did before, because now it’s holding the shards of their broken promises, pieces of a future crumpled up like garbage, and fragments of their fragile love. It’s all there in the curves of Jimin’s scrawl, the sharp lines of Jungkook’s signature, the pool of ink where the pen stayed motionless on the page too long. Their relationship is splitting like the dotted line where they signed away more than their marriage, but their friendship, their trust, their lazy Sunday mornings and toasty winter nights, their friends complaining for kissing again and Jimin hiding his face in his partner’s shoulder, self-conscious.
Jungkook was supposed to have been Jimin’s forever.
And now it’s goodbye.
Jimin holds the papers to his body, folding his arms across because he’s afraid they’ll slip away and scatter at his feet, and if they do Jimin doesn’t know if he’ll bother to stop and pick them up.
He wants to say something – an apology or a thank you for all the times Jungkook’s given him strength, pampered him with love, listened to his fears, but there’s something so absolute about it, a finality he’s not ready to acknowledge out loud.
Not yet. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after that.
Jimin turns on his heels and there’s a photo framed on the wall – Taehyung and Jimin. It’s their university graduation and Hoseok is talking to his sister in the background and half of Yoongi’s head can be seen in the top right corner. Taehyung and Jimin are hugging each other and Jungkook is taking the photo. Taehyung’s grinning his unique rectangle smile, all teeth, and Jimin feels a pang of ambivalence.
“Is this what you want?” Jimin blurts it out before he can stop himself. He can’t face Jungkook, won’t let himself, but he knows he’s caught Jungkook by surprise.
“Is it what you want?”
Jimin doesn’t know. He thinks it is, at least. But is it meant to hurt so much? Is it meant to feel like he’s dying inside? All he knows is that his marriage with Jungkook doesn’t feel like one anymore. “Yes.”
“Then it’s what I want.”
Jimin almost spins back around to see him, to find the answer himself, to pick apart the tones of his voice, search for the truth in it all, but instead he wills himself on. He’s opened the door and about to leave, about to turn his back on this apartment, his husband who may be the love of his life, and everything they’ve shared together, when Jungkook speaks again.
“Take care of yourself, hyung.”
He sounds like the nineteen year old boy again who Jimin fell hard for, rejecting dates from pretty strangers, bursting into his room at midnight when Big Bang releases a new song, watching anime and sleeping in his dorm room, holding Jimin on his lap.
Jimin wants to say “you too” but he can’t. He can’t say anything in fear he might say the words he can’t afford to. Not when they’re so overdue. It’s not fair on Jungkook. He nods instead, hums in response and hopes that suffices.
Regret is already overcoming him by the time he’s closed the door.
Jungkook’s response poisons his mind as he walks to the elevator.
“Is it what you want?”
“Then it’s what I want.”
Jimin rubs the back of his sleeve across his eyes.
Then it’s what I want.
Why did he phrase it like that? Why did he have to say it like that? Thorny vines are wrapping around him, digging into his skin, and the once beautiful roses have withered and died. All the water’s been wasted putting out the fire between them. Bright and warm flames dying in a pile of rubble, wisps of sad, regretful smoke.
Jimin feels cold without it.
Then it’s what I want.
Jungkook’s hollow voice rings again and again.
“Jungkook would take a fucking bullet for you. He’d do anything if you asked.”
Jimin stops. He can’t keep going. Every step is agonizing.
Is this what you want?
Jimin throws open the door and it smacks against the wall. The action is impulsive and sudden. Jungkook flinches in surprise. He’s sitting at the table, head in his hands. His cheeks are wet.
“What do you mean?” Jimin gasps and his voice is tight and high and he’s on the verge of tears too. He hates seeing Jungkook cry, especially because he doesn’t very often. Jimin can probably count the times he’s seen him cry on his fingers.
Jungkook stares back at him, puzzled. He stands up slowly and Jimin finally notices it – the fatigue. Jungkook’s skin is dull and pale and he has dark rings under his eyes. Jimin can see red, irritated skin above his jawline, something Jungkook develops when he’s stressed or anxious.
“What do you mean ‘then it’s what I want?’” Jimin chokes out and to be honest he’s probably already figured it out, but he needs to hear it from Jungkook. Needs to hear Jungkook say it.
His husband, he was still his husband, looks down. “It means exactly what you think it means.”
That’s not enough.
Tears spring to Jimin’s eyes. “I can’t, Jungkook. I can’t keep doing this. I’m so tired.”
The younger frowns and runs a hand through his hair. “Then what the hell does that mean?” He’s raised his voice – he’s frustrated too. He’s developed a quick temper over the past few months.
Jimin braces himself from cowering away. “What?”
“You keep saying you’re tired, but what are you actually tired of?” Jungkook snaps and he was pacing now, veins visible and voice thick and strained. “Tired of me? Tired of our marriage? Tired of living here? What?”
Tired of fighting, the loneliness is what Jimin goes to say, but it’s not just that. They were the surface problems, the easy ones; the root causes were buried deep under the soil. Jimin didn’t want to dig in fear of what he would find. “I don’t know,” he says feebly. Gosh, he’s pathetic.
Jungkook laughs, bitter and short. “You don’t know? You don’t know but you want to get a –” He cuts himself off and bites his tongue, facing away and clenching his jaw. He’s pissed. He closes his eyes and presses his hand against his forehead, before gazing at Jimin, accusing, and broken. “You gave up on us.”
Hearing it from Jungkook is a thousand times worse. If Taehyung’s words cut deep, Jungkook’s stab right through him.
“Don’t you dare, Jungkook,” Jimin hisses and he’s shaking with anger, a touch of guilt. He’s surprised he isn’t hysterical by now. “Don’t you dare try to turn this on me, not when you didn’t give me a reason to fight.”
“I didn’t?” Jungkook snaps, glaring. “You’re the one who asked for the divorce!”
“You didn’t give me a choice!”
“You’re the one who’s so eager to end this all. You leave for weeks, and yesterday you text me to tell me you’re coming to get those fucking papers signed,” Jungkook’s seething. “You didn’t even suggest trying to work this all out. You’re so ready to give up.”
Jimin doesn’t want to do this. They keep going around and around in circles, blaming each other, picking apart their flaws. Each heated word is a bullet, lodging into a battered body, shrapnel in his back. But he’s right, Jimin gave up. The never-ending fights, slamming doors, constant avoiding of each other destroyed his defences and Jimin decided he couldn’t do it anymore. He put down the gun and admitted defeat. There was nothing else left to do.
The younger is waiting for Jimin to respond, maybe to throw it all back in his face, but Jungkook just can’t see the white flag yet. And Jimin’s brain is still stuck on Jungkook’s previous question.
What are you actually tired of?
Jimin knows the answer.
He’s tired of not being able to hold Jungkook, not being held by him, not smiling and laughing and snuggling together. He’s tired of travelling and leaving Jungkook behind, tired of feeling guilty when he comes back, tired of having to cancel plans and break promises. He’s tired of not acting like they’re a couple, tired of the cold shoulder, tired of feeling like he doesn’t matter to the person he married.
He’s tired of missing Jungkook. He misses him a lot.
But maybe the realisation hasn’t come in time, because Jungkook is looking at him like he hates him. Really, truly despises him. And who can blame him? Jimin’s dragged him through all this chaos only to realise he wants to jump back in. There can’t possibly be any love left.
It’s too late.
It’s not fair on Jungkook.
Jimin gave up. He lost.
Jimin’s breath catches and his pulse quickens and his body is trembling uncontrollably. His hand reaches up to his throat, eyes widening. The papers slip from his grasp and slide across the floor.
Jungkook’s face switches from anger to concern and he’s in front of Jimin in an instant, not even glancing at the fallen files. “Oh, fuck, Jimin. Jimin, breathe. It’s okay. I’m sorry.”
Jimin doesn’t want Jungkook’s apology. He’s drowning, and he’s too weak to swim, and Jungkook is stuck on the shore, watching him sink.
“Jimin, listen to me, calm down,” Jungkook says, louder and firmer. He gathers Jimin in his arms and kneels down on the floor, bringing the smaller with him. Jimin takes deep breaths in and out, clutching onto Jungkook like he’s done so many times before, and it feels safe and familiar and right. “Breathe, you’re okay. I’ve got you.”
I’ve got you.
Jimin is sobbing on the floor like a child. He can’t let Jungkook go, even if it kills him. He’ll go down in his own beautiful, catastrophic tragedy.
Jungkook’s lips brush against his temple in lieu of the usual kiss he’d place there, but his arms are wrapped tightly around Jimin’s body. Jimin wonders if Jungkook can feel how skinny he’s become, and he feels self-conscious because he doesn’t want Jungkook to blame himself. That’s the only thing worse than when he blames Jimin.
“I love you,” Jungkook suddenly murmurs into his hair, hesitant but the three words certain.
Time stops. Jimin’s body freezes, ice crystallizing across his skin.
“I love you,” Jungkook repeats and he’s shaking too. Jimin can feel his tears splashing on his shirt. “And I know the right thing for me to say is that it’s okay if you don’t love me back, that I understand. But damn it, I don’t, because I’m still in fucking love with you…” Jungkook pulls back to look at Jimin square in the eyes, tear droplets quivering to his eyelashes, “and I want you to tell me you're in love with me too.” Jungkook is pleading. “Please.”
Jimin must be a teary mess. His throat is choked up and he doesn’t know if he can even get a sound out, but he’s swallowed down so many words today already and this – this is the one that matters the most. Jungkook looks more vulnerable than he did when he proposed.
Jimin’s voice is all crackly and uneven when he replies, but it doesn’t matter.
“You’re the love of my life, Jeon Jungkook.”
They sit on the floor, just holding each other, desperate for contact, trying to repair their fraying relationship, seam by seam.
Then Jungkook says the words Jimin’s been aching to hear for so long, a flicker of hope, and a reason to stay. “We can figure this out.”
And, it’s finally enough.
“Jeon Jungkook, do you take Park Jimin to be your husband, your partner in life, cherish his friendship and love him today, tomorrow and forever? Do you promise to trust and honor him, laugh with him and cry with him? Do you promise to be faithful through good times and bad, in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live?”
Jungkook looks ethereal. He could pass as a model in his expensive, tailored suit. He’s kept it simple, a white dress shirt and black jacket and tie, but he’s perfect. Jimin bites his lip and meets his eye. Jungkook smiles, warm and lovely. “I do.”
Jimin is almost bouncing on the balls of his feet, happy beyond words.
The minister turns to Jimin, asks him the same thing. The “I do” is flying out of his mouth the second he finishes. The minister chuckles at Jimin’s excitement and then Jungkook steps forward, cups the back of Jimin’s head and presses their lips together like he did the first time they kissed. Jimin links his hands around his neck and tilts his head, kisses him deeper.
“B-By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you married. You may now kiss,” the minister blurts out quickly, but everyone has gotten to their feet and are clapping.
Seokjin had been recording the ceremony on his camera and Taehyung mutters in the background, “Wow, even the minister can’t stop them.”
They throw the divorce papers in the bin and talk for almost the whole night, catching up on belated kisses and murmuring apologies into the darkness. Jimin’s hand is entwined in Jungkook’s and their rings press against each other, a lasting vow. He's reminded again of how it felt to be loved by Jungkook, to be looked at like he was the most beautiful person in the world, to feel Jungkook's breath against his skin, his words on his lips - he's reminded of how it felt to be incandescently happy, and he knows he could never have walked away from this. He knows, and he's glad. He's glad he can't.
Jimin wraps his arms around him and pulls him closer under the covers, smiles when Jungkook kisses the crown of his head. The fire he thought had dyed out between them had merely been reduced to embers, just waiting for another spark.
“I have to call Taehyung tomorrow,” Jimin whispers into Jungkook’s neck, smelling his minty shampoo. “He’s furious with me.”
“Furious with me, too,” Jungkook replies, hand stroking up Jimin’s side. “He called and… asked me not to sign it. Said it wouldn’t make you happy, told me not to do that to you.”
Jimin’s chest aches. His best friend is always looking out for them. “We have to do something nice for him. We owe him so much.”
Jungkook hums in agreement, kissing Jimin’s forehead. His hand stops at his ribs and Jimin tenses. He already knows before Jungkook speaks. “Did you lose weight?”
“A little,” Jimin mumbles.
Jungkook pulls Jimin in closer, another silent apology. Jimin kisses the irritated area above his jaw, a nonverbal ‘it’s okay.’
They fall asleep together sometime in the early morning, and wake up around noon.
Jungkook is still asleep, head on his chest.
Jimin finally feels rested.
Jimin finds a new job – one that doesn’t require him travelling as often and he can mostly work from home. There’s still going to be a trip here and there but it’s significantly less than before. Jungkook agrees to cut down on his hours, and he gets the weekend off. It’s not easy to go back to how they were before, but they’re getting there. Loving Jungkook had always been easy, but life was difficult – life got in the way. But Jimin couldn’t imagine a life without him.
When Jimin steps out of the shower, steam trapped in the bathroom, he wraps the towel around him and writes ‘Love you’ in the foggy mirror. Jungkook writes ‘I love me too’ half an hour later, then goes back to change the ‘me’ to a ‘you’ when Jimin sees it. He’s laughing that dumb, adorable laugh of his.
Taehyung hangs up on them after they call and tell him the news, says he won’t be talking to them for a while. However, the next day he comes to their apartment with the rest of their close friends, and punches them both in the shoulder. It isn’t very hard, but the intention behind it was all that really mattered.
“You two are so fucking stupid,” Taehyung sat on the couch, shaking his head. “So fucking stupid, and so fucking perfect for each other.”
Jimin peers out the window, watches a mother walk her two kids to school. He and Jungkook had talked about adopting, but it wasn’t time yet. Maybe next year, or whenever they felt prepared to become parents.
“Okay, I’m ready now,” Jungkook says, stops, and then holds up a finger. “Hold on, I forgot my phone.” He disappears back into the bedroom.
Jimin rolls his eyes.
Jungkook emerges a few seconds later, phone in hand, car keys in the other. “Now, I’m ready.”
“Finally,” Jimin sighs but he’s not frustrated, not even a little. “If we’re late again, Yoongi will make us pay, and he’ll purposely order the most expensive thing on the menu.”
“I know, I know,” Jungkook smiles cheekily, and it still reminds Jimin of the first day of spring, and the nineteen year old boy he fell in love with in the white t-shirt and brown Timberlands.