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Choking on Fantasies

Chapter Text

           Jimin had never thought deeply into his relationship with Jungkook. The boys were friends since they met in their university’s dance team. Jimin instantly latched on to the boy, drawn in by his passion, confidence, and cute bunny smiles. They were friends, the best of friends, and nothing else mattered. As long as Jungkook was by his side, nothing could be too terrible. Jimin would never let anything come between them. The younger meant too much to him and everyone knew it. His displays of affection were constant and obvious. It wasn’t until a day of goofing off turned into a hospital visit, that Jimin started to second guess his feelings.

            “Kookie, be careful,” Jimin called, smiling as he watched Jungkook. The boys had decided to spend their Saturday in the park. When they stumbled upon a swing set, Jungkook decided it would be fun to play around and jump off the way he did when he was little.

            “I used to do this all the time, hyung. I’ll be fine,” Jungkook laughed. He seemed to take Jimin’s concern as a challenge, because he started to push himself even higher. He was happy and confident in his ability to land safely, but had not taken into account how much he changed since he was ten, namely how much stronger he was. Jungkook managed to push himself so high that the swing’s chain began to wrap around the top, jolting the swing violently, and sending Jungkook flying off unprepared, in front of Jimin’s horrified eyes. Before he could even process the situation fully, Jimin threw himself down on the asphalt and Jungkook landed on his back heavily.

            “Oh my God!” Jungkook gasped, “I can’t believe that just happened. Oh man, how did that happen?”

            “Please, get off me,” Jimin groaned, pitifully. “Can’t breathe. Hurts.”

            Jungkook quickly sprang up and tried to help Jimin to his feet, but stopped when it caused the elder too much pain. Instead he gently scooped the boy up and carefully carried him to a nearby hospital. There they learned that Jimin’s dramatic save, while sparing Jungkook any serious harm, had left Jimin with bruised ribs. They were sent away with instructions on how to care for the injury properly and Jungkook promised to tend to Jimin as he healed.

            During the weeks that followed, Jungkook coddled Jimin the same way the elder usually coddled him. Jimin could barely move in his presence without Jungkook asking if he was in too much pain, if he needed help, if he could do anything for him. Any other person might have found it overwhelming, but Jimin basked in the attention. He felt safe and cared for. His reward for looking after Jungkook, more love and care from his favorite person than he could have imagined the boy willing to ever give him. Jimin was in heaven, until their friends started asking the question that Jimin was religiously ignoring.

            “Why would you do a dumbass thing like that to save Jungkook from his own stupidity?” was asked in different words (some less harshly than others) by Yoongi, Taehyung, Hoseok, Namjoon, and Seokjin. Why would Jimin go to such extreme measures to ensure that Jungkook wasn’t hurt by a fall he basically set himself up for? Would Jimin do the same of any of his other friends? He was almost certain he would. He would never want to see any of his friends in pain, regardless of how recklessly they behaved, but a more important question plagued him. Would Jimin accept bruised ribs with as little complaint and as much genuine relief at the other’s safety if it had been anyone other than Jungkook? The question draped itself on the corners of every thought and stabbed him with every pained breath.

            The question “why do you love Jungkook so much?” slowly became “how do you love Jungkook?” and Jimin could not make his brain stop looking for the answer. An answer he didn’t really have to search for. Of course, Jimin was in love with Jungkook. Every thought and every action he directed towards the younger screamed his devotion to the skies and back. Their friendship transformed into a feeling so much deeper, without him ever noticing the change. Jimin was in love and he already knew it was hopeless, because for as long as Jimin had known Jungkook, the younger had had a girlfriend. A beautiful, sweet, loving girlfriend that he absolutely adored and as Jimin cried from the pain that gasping caused his ribs, Jungkook held his hand, wiped his tears, made sure he was ok, and then returned to her presence.

Chapter Text

            “Jimin, what’s wrong? Your ribs are all healed, you should be happy,” Hoseok said with a slight frown. His usual sunshine antics and weird wiggly dances had failed to elicit the delight they deserved. He was wasting his best sunshine on a sad sack, but his only concern was the uncharacteristic slump to his friend’s shoulders. The other five boys in the room seemed worried as well.

           The inseparable seven, thrown together through common interests and held together by friendship and brotherhood, were assembled in Jimin’s living room to celebrate his recovery. The second Taehyung was informed that Jimin was fully recovered from “the swing incident” he demanded they throw a party, but the boy didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. Jimin was seated in the middle of the couch with Taehyung and Hoseok on either side. Yoongi, Namjoon, and Seokjin had all pulled up chairs to circle the coffee table, but Jungkook had chosen to sit on the floor by Jimin’s feet. Everyone was laughing and joking in their usual chaotic style, except for the noticeable absence of one high pitched giggle. Jimin seemed distracted and kept rubbing at his chest absent mindedly. Even when Hoseok took it upon himself to jump up and flail his arms in the strangest and silliest dances ever witnessed, he remained silent.

            “I’m just not feeling very well right now, hyung,” Jimin replied, still rubbing at his chest. “My ribs are fine, but I still feel weird. There’s this strange, itchy feeling in my lungs. Maybe I’m coming down with something.”

            “No, no, no, no, no! Our Jiminie just got better,” Taehyung unnecessarily yelled in his ear. “You can’t get sick right after you finally recovered. That is not acceptable. I want to run around with my Jiminie again! How did this happen, Jungkook? I thought you were taking care of him. Explanations, young one, explanations!”

            “Be reasonable, Tae. Kookie took excellent care of me. He was wonderful, but he can’t stop germs from existing,” Jimin was quick to defend. “I probably caught something on the bus yesterday. It happens. I’ll be running around with you in no time. I promise.”

            “You better,” Taehyung cried, before pulling Jimin into a bone crushing hug.

            “Let him go, Tae. You’re going to bruise his ribs again if you keep squeezing him like that,” Jin scolded, ready to rescue Jimin from the overexuberant arms wrapped around him.

            “I’ll rescue you, Jiminie,” Jungkook exclaimed, before lunging at Taehyung and tickling his sides. Taehyung was quickly reduced to a squirming mess of limbs and Jimin moved easily from his grasp, sucking in a much-needed breath of air.

            “Yah! I’m your hyung, you little brat,” came Jimin’s indignant response, after his release. “Show me some respect. And I didn’t need rescuing, I’m not so fragile.”

            “But you’re too small to be called hyung. You’re just so little and Taehyung could have crushed you. Can’t have you getting hurt again,” Jungkook said playfully. “Besides that, protecting you is my new default. After so many weeks of being your attentive caretaker, I have evolved into a new man. I have leveled up. Refer to me now as ‘Jungkook, defender of small hyungs in need’.”

            “Does this mean that you’re going to look after Yoongi-hyung too?” Namjoon laughed, “because I’d really love you see you try.”

            Jungkook winced, “I said ‘hyungs in need.’ Yoongi-hyung is too fearsome to be in need.”

            “Whereas Jiminie throws himself under flying idiots to cushion their fall,” Yoongi threw back, lazily.

            “Yah! Can you not mock me while I’m feeling sick?” Jimin sagged into the couch, he really was feeling very strangely, “I thought you were here to celebrate me feeling better. Besides, it was weeks ago, why are you not over this already?”

            “Because you threw yourself under a flying idiot,” Yoongi said. “We are not the type of friends to let you live that down. Deal with it.”

            “Be nicer, Yoongi,” Jin sighed. “Tone it down, at least until he’s feeling better. Poor Jiminie’s still fragile.”

            “Not fragile,” Jimin mumbled.

            “Now, tell me how you’re feeling,” Jin was now in omma mode and would not be sidetracked. “How exactly does your chest feel? Have you been coughing? Have you not been dressing warmly enough? Do you have a fever? When did it start? Have you-”

            “Slow down, hyung,” Namjoon cut in. “Let him answer a question before you ask a new one.”

            “Don’t worry so much,” Jimin soothed. “It’s not that bad, I promise. It’s probably just a little cold. I’ll take some medicine and be better in no time. I am completely fine, hyung. Let’s get back to celebrating.”

            With Jin’s fears put aside, it was easy to continue the party. Jimin made an effort to be more active and the others quickly forgot he had shown any discomfort. Hoseok did more of his wiggly dances; Taehyung threw out outrageous and confusing comments; Namjoon switched between adding to their antics and spouting philosophical streams of consciousness as they occurred to him. Yoongi took the role of salty commentator and Jin told some of his best (incredibly lame) jokes. Jungkook laughed at and teased all of his strange hyungs with his head resting on Jimin’s knees, small and gentle hands combing through his hair. They talked about music, video games, and, of course, asked about Jungkook’s girlfriend, JaeEun. The last topic sent an ache through Jimin’s chest, but he still managed to get through the evening without causing any further worry.

Everyone left happy and carefree. Jimin was fine. He had six crazy friends who made him incredibly happy. Any preferences toward a certain younger friend were not a problem. They were all brothers. How could Jimin not be fine when he had his brothers?

            It was a week later and Jimin was still just fine. Well, maybe the itch in his chest had turned into a mildly painful cough and he had been lying in bed for the last hour to avoid moving, but it would probably clear up soon. The tangled, thorny, vines wrapped around his brain and stabbing him with thoughts of Jungkook and his feeling for him? Those were bound to clear up too. Jimin was good at ignoring unpleasant things until they settled. He would never label Jungkook’s place in his life unpleasant, but his new self-awareness was making him second guess every action he made around the other. He needed to get over this cough and get his feelings in order. So, yes, Jimin was sure that he was fine. It was nothing he could not handle with a little cough medicine, careful reflection, and time. As Jimin stared up at his white ceiling and continued to avoid getting up, it seemed like the perfect time to begin his self-reflection.

So, Jimin was in love with his best friend? This had to happen to people all the time. When you’re very close with a person, spend a lot of time with them, share important details about yourself with them, and make them a central part of your life, feelings are bound to grow. Jimin’s feelings simply grew in a different way than Jungkook’s did. Now he just needed to figure out how to deal with his feelings, until they faded. They would have to fade. Jimin would not pine over a boy that did not love him back. Despite his small stature, Jimin was strong, far too strong to let unrequited love keep him down forever.

            The best, most obvious, solution would be to distance himself from Jungkook. Simple in theory, but Jimin knew their lives were just too linked for that to work. They shared their closest friends, often worked together (they worked at the same company were Jimin was a choreographer and Jungkook was a vocal coach), and had introduced their families to each other after they became close friends (their parents met for dinner every week now). Jungkook was mixed into almost every aspect of Jimin’s life. Changing that would be extremely difficult and did not appeal to Jimin at all.

            The second option that occurred to him, as he mapped the dips and imperfections in his ceiling, was to pull away from Jungkook in more subtle ways. He would cut down on the number of hugs he dragged the younger into, stop with the joking attempts to kiss him, and generally pull himself just an inch away from his side. Put himself at a distance more befitting a friendship. This plan could work. Jimin could do that. Jungkook tended to push him away and complain about his overly affectionate nature anyway. Jungkook wouldn’t have to fight off his exuberant affection and Jimin would be able to move past his feeling for Jungkook without losing an important person in his life. It would be a relief for both of them.

            With a workable plan in place, Jimin could focus on his demon cough. The medicine he bought was not bringing him any relief, in fact he felt worse. Quick exercises, that he usually breezed through, now left him wheezing, he often found himself short of breath, and every single, far too frequent, cough felt like a knife stabbing him in the chest. Jimin always worked to stay healthy and active, so the wheezing and coughing and chest pain concerned him greatly. A simple cold would not affect him this forcefully, but he still had hope that it was nothing too serious. He would get a stronger cough medicine and give it another week. If the cough was still bothering him, then he would go to a doctor.

            Feeling more content with things resolved, Jimin decided to go back to sleep, but was stopped by G-Dragon’s voice blaring through his room. Jungkook had changed his ringtone to Big Bang several weeks before and Jimin never bothered to changed it, since he loved Big Bang too. Thinking about it sent another ache through his chest and he answered the call coughing.

            “Morning, Chimchim,” came Taehyung’s cheerful voice. “Still sick? I thought you would be better by now.”

            “It’s just a little cough, Tae. I’m sure it will be gone soon. Sometimes the cough just hangs around for a while,” Jimin said. He didn’t want to worry his friends unnecessarily.

            “Ok, but please tell me you are well enough to come for movie night at Jin’s later,” Taehyung whined into the phone. “It’s not as fun without you there. I called to remind you and everything.”

            “You called, because I asked you if Jimin could make it, don’t lie,” Jin shouted in the background.

            Jimin laughed, “I guess you’re helping Jin set things up? Don’t worry I will be there. I’ll even bring the sodas so you two don’t have to go out and buy them.”

            “Yay! Jiminie’s coming and he’s bringing drinks,” Taehyung shouted. Jimin flinched away from the phone and when he returned it to his ear the call was disconnected. Taehyung must have hung up in his excitement.

            Guess I have to get up now, Jimin thought after checking the time. He got out of bed slowly, looking forward to seeing his friends later and reminding himself not to be glued to Jungkook’s side like he normally was. He lost himself in thoughts of other movie nights spent hugging Jungkook after the boy settled down and stopped playfully resisting him. I should have realized how I felt sooner.

            An uncomfortable feeling wormed its way through Jimin’s chest and he was suddenly overwhelmed by a violent coughing fit. His entire body shook violently and he curled into himself as he fell to the floor, unable to stay upright. The pain in his throat and chest brought tears to his eyes.

            This is not normal, Jimin realized as he struggled to breath. The coughs subsided slowly, but Jimin was too scared to get up again. He looked down at his trembling arms and resolved to go to a clinic the next day. He needed to know what was wrong with him sooner rather than later. Hopefully, he could get through the movie night without scaring his friends.

            Jimin walked up to Jin’s apartment feeling confident that he would make it through the night without any incidents. He hadn’t had any coughing fits since the one that scared him in the morning and he had been careful not to do anything strenuous. He was even running late, because he walked very slowly to prevent getting winded. He was prepared to have a good night with his friends and put aside thoughts of alarming health problems.

            Jimin knocked on the door and was startled when it immediately opened and he was dragged into the apartment by an excited Hoseok, the door slamming shut behind him. “Why are you late Jiminie?! I thought you weren’t coming. They picked a horror movie to watch and I thought I would have to go through it alone.”

            “You wouldn’t have been alone, Hobi. There are five other people here,” Jin popped his head out of the kitchen to look at them in the hallway. “And I told you that Jimin was coming with the sodas.”

            “I think we might want to be careful when we open them, hyung,” Jimin said, glancing down. “I kinda dropped the bag I put them in when Hoseok-hyung pulled me.”

            “Soda fight,” Taehyung ran in from the living from to scoop up the bag of sodas from the floor and prepared to open one.

            “Do that and you’re dead,” Jin said sweetly, giving Taehyung a terrifying smile before returning to the kitchen.

            “Sorry, hyung,” Taehyung followed Jin into the kitchen with the sodas, his head dropped like a puppy scolded by its owner. Hoseok and Jimin shook their heads at their friend’s antics.

            “Come on, everyone else is in the living room,” Hoseok said, grabbing Jimin’s hand and pulling him into the living room. Jin and Taehyung had moved the coffee table to the side of the room and laid out a blanket with cushions so they could all watch the movie on the floor together. Yoongi, Namjoon, and Jungkook were already lounging on the blanket comfortably, but Jungkook popped up when Jimin and Hoseok entered the room. The boy walked around them, before wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist and pulling his back to rest against his chest.

            “Kookie, what is this,” Jimin asked, his heart pounding at the tenderness of the embrace he found himself in.

            “The back-hug scene,” Jungkook answered, with a bright smile, then pulled Jimin even closer and rested his chin on the elder’s shoulder. “Have to make sure my Jiminie-hyung is ready for the scary movie.”

            Jimin felt his heart squeeze at the endearing words. He felt so loved in the warm embrace of his sweet dongsaeng. He smiled contentedly and snuggled into his hold. His mind wandered to warm sunny days laughing with his friends, holding Jungkook’s hand to stay together in a crowd. The world felt so light and happy. Then he remembered his plan to get over Jungkook and a sharp pain clawed its way up his throat. Deep, hoarse, coughs ripped their way out of his body and Jungkook adjusted his hold to keep Jimin upright until the coughing fit passed.

            “That is not a little cough, Jiminie,” Yoongi said, with an annoyed tone. He and Namjoon had leapt up while he was hacking and Jin and Taehyung had come in from the kitchen, so that Jimin found himself surrounded by worried faces. “Why did you lie to us?”

            “I didn’t want to worry you guys,” Jimin hung his head. “Normally the coughs aren’t that bad, but I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow.”

            “You cause more worry, when you don’t tell us what’s going on,” Namjoon said, gently. “Khalil Gibran once said ‘friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.’ We’re not your friends so that you can bring us joy and suffer in silence. We take on the responsibility of friendship so that we can help you through whatever may come. Worrying about you is not a bother. It is a part of the love we all have for you.”

            “Sorry, hyung,” Jimin whispered, touched by the kind words. “I promise to tell you how it goes.”

            “Good,” Jin pulled Jimin out of Jungkook’s arms and into a tight hug. “We love you, Jimin. We want to look after you.”

            “Exactly, we need to make sure out cute little Chimchim is ok,” Hoseok said with a blinding smile.

            “I agree, but can we get on to movie night,” Taehyung whined. “I love you, Jiminie, but this is way too sentimental. We could be watching the movie already.”

            “You just had to ruin the moment,” Jin said in exasperation. Jimin laughed as Hoseok smacked Taehyung and the two started playfighting. The serious atmosphere quickly dissolved and everyone settled down on the blanket to watch the movie. Namjoon sat in the corner and Jin sat next to him. Taehyung laid down with his head in Jin’s lap and pulled Hoseok down with him. Yoongi walked over to spread out on the couch behind them and Jungkook sat beside Hoseok, bringing Jimin with him and pulling him to sit between his legs.

            “I can sit by myself,” Jimin sighed. Jungkook wrapped his arms around Jimin’s waist again and let his hyung use him as a backrest.

            “It’s a horror movie, hyung,” Jungkook replied, unaware of the effect his attention was having on Jimin. “You need someone to comfort you.”

            Jimin knew this was true, so he remained in the spot with a quiet, “Thank you, Kookie.”

            They started the movie and, as everyone predicted, Jimin and Hoseok were the most affected. Hoseok jumped and screamed at every jump scare and wailed dramatically through all the gore. Jimin turned from the movie at a particularly frightening scene to bury his face in Jungkook’s chest. The younger boy simply chuckled and rubbed soothing circle on his friend’s back, murmuring reassurances. Jimin spent the rest of the movie completely tangled around Jungkook, hugging him tightly. He was so relaxed and comfortable that he even fell asleep despite the shrieks coming from the television.

            “Wake up, Jiminie-hyung,” Jimin woke up in a cocoon of warmth. A large hand was wrapped around his shoulder to shake him gently. “The movie’s over.”

            Jimin groaned and shifted, but kept his eyes closed. He was too comfortable to consider getting up. It was so warm and cozy that all he wanted to do was snuggle in closer, so he did. He was dimly aware of a light chuckle and a chorus of ‘aw’s.

            “He’s such a cutie. Let him sleep,” a voice he slowly recognized as Jin’s whispered.

            “I’ll take him to the guestroom,” Jungkook’s voice rumbled softly, seeming to come from all around him. Suddenly, he felt himself being moved gently and whined when the warmth faded temporarily before cradling him once more. “He really is out of it.”

            A small strain of coherent thought made Jimin realize that the rocking sensation he was feeling meant that someone was carrying him. He curled into the strong arms, pressing his face against a firm chest and inhaling the soft, clean scent. Some part of him knew whose arms these were, but his sleep fogged brain was too blissfully happy to heed the warning. He could hear soft footsteps on the floor and felt himself get shifted slightly when a door creaked open. Then he was being lowered and his back hit a bed, but the arms were pulling away.

            “No, stay,” Jimin mumbled, still half asleep. He wrapped himself around one of the arms, clinging to the security the other person provided.

            “Wow, you’re even cuddlier in your sleep,” Jungkook said. He pulled Jimin carefully off of his arm. “Sorry, I have to go. JaeEun, gets back from a business trip tomorrow, so I need to pick her up early in the morning. Can’t see my girlfriend, after a month, dressed in yesterday’s clothes. Sleep well, hyung, feel better.”

            Jimin felt a kiss pressed to his forehead, followed by the sound of footsteps and the dooring swinging closed. He squeezed his eyes shut tighter, no longer sleepily content. A heavy sadness flooded his body. Jungkook had been sweet and caring and Jimin was in way too deep. He loved Jungkook with every speck of feeling his soul possessed. It was suddenly clear to him that a feeling this strong would not fade. This was not a crush or blind infatuation. Jimin loved Jungkook for all that he was and is and ever could be. He didn’t just make the younger a part of his life or his heart, but a part of his very soul.

            “I love you so much, Kookie,” Jimin whimpered, a lone tear trickling down his cheek, before a massive pain shot through his chest. Cough after excruciating cough tore through Jimin, who curled into a tight ball and prayed from the pain to stop.

Chapter Text

            Jimin woke up to stiff limbs and Jin’s gentle hands combing through his hair. He had fallen asleep right after his coughing stopped, never uncurling from his cramped position.

            “Morning, Jimin,” Jin smiled down at him. “I wasn’t sure what time you were planning to go to the doctor so I got up a little early to make us breakfast.”

            “Th—,” Jimin broke off to clear his raw throat, “thank you, hyung.”

            “You don’t sound so good,” Jin frowned. “I thought I heard you coughing last night. I should have come in to check on you. Do you want me to come with you for your appointment? I’m getting really worried.”

            “No, hyung,” Jimin’s voice came out hoarse. “You already let me stay the night and made me breakfast, you don’t need to hold my hand through a checkup.”

            “I just want to make sure you’re ok,” Jin said. “Let’s go eat, our breakfast is getting cold. We can discuss this later.”

            Jimin sat impatiently in the clinic waiting room, worrying about possible outcomes. He managed to convince Jin to let him go alone, but was starting to regret it. With no one to talk to his mind was spinning through all the worst-case scenarios. Most of them involved debilitating illness and death. The quite room with its cream walls and chairs filled with somber faced people was slowly driving him insane. He needed Hoseok’s hopefulness, Jin’s comfort, Taehyung’s silliness, Yoongi’s calmness, Namjoon’s philosophy, Jungkook— he coughed, doubling over in his seat with the force of it.

            “I can see what brings you in,” a tall doctor with a kind face said, her eyes filled with sympathy. “Do you have an appointment?”

            “Yes, I’m Park Jimin,” he replied in a rough, scratchy voice, “my appointment should be one of the next ones.”

            “Oh, good. I’m Dr. Kim and you’re my next patient,” the doctor smiled. “I can take you now. Follow me, please.”

            Dr. Kim led him to an exam room and instructed him to sit on the paper covered exam table. She quickly scanned his chart, before pulling out a stethoscope and pulling up the back of his shirt to listen to his breathing. She fired off a few questions about how long Jimin had the cough and what other symptoms he was experiencing. Jimin was worried to see a slight frown on her face at his responses.

            “Well, Park-ssi, based on your symptoms and what I heard when I checked your lungs earlier, I’d like to do a chest X-ray,” Dr. Kim said. “It could be a chest infection but I want to get a good look at your lungs to make sure it’s nothing more serious. We should be able to get you scheduled to do it in a nearby hospital tomorrow afternoon, if you’re available. It would be best to do it as quickly as possible. You can talk to the receptionist before you leave to work out the details.”

            “I can free my schedule for tomorrow afternoon,” Jimin wrung his hands nervously. “Thank you, Dr. Kim.”

            Jimin exited the clinic with his stomach churning. He had thought that the clinic visit would resolve his fears and show him that he was overreacting. Instead he was even more nervous at the idea of chest X-rays. It made everything more serious in his mind. He quickly pulled out his phone and sent a text to all of his friends, letting them know he was out. It only took a few minutes for his phone to ring with an incoming call from Jin.

            His hyung quizzed him on how everything went at the clinic, wanting to know what the doctor said as quickly as possible. When Jimin explained that he would being going in again the next day for X-rays, Jin’s concern was clear. He insisted that Jimin would not be going to the clinic alone. Jin would make sure that at least one of their friends went with him. Jimin knew better than to argue, not that he wanted to. It would be nice to have some support. Not long after he hung up with Jin his phone rang again, this time it was Taehyung. Jimin ended up explaining four more times on his way home, calls coming in back to back. Only Jungkook didn’t call.

            He’s spending the day with JaeEun, Jimin thought, as he opened the door to his apartment. Of course, he’s too busy to call.

            “Hey, Jiminie,” Jimin jumped at the voice coming from his kitchen. He walked in to find Jungkook scrounging through his fridge for snacks. He gave Jungkook a key to his apartment shortly after he first moved in. The boy spent enough time there that it would be strange if he didn’t have his own key.

            “Damn it, Jungkook,” Jimin shouted, exasperatedly, “you scared the hell out of me. Also, I’m your hyung. I’m two years older. Respect me.”

            Jungkook laughed, “sure, Jiminie, sure.”

            Jimin shook his head, “why do I put up with you? And why are you here? I thought you were spending the day with JaeEun.”

            “Like you don’t love having me here,” Jungkook teased, “I was with JaeEun earlier, but she was tired from traveling, so I didn’t stay too long. We’re going to spend tomorrow together, after she gets some rest. And I’m here to see how it went with the doctor.”

            Jimin smiled, touched that Jungkook came to check on him. He was opening his mouth to reply when a cough overtook him. Jungkook rushed forward to hold him up as he shook with the force of it shredding through his lungs. The rough, hacking, wheeze only worsened as Jungkook rubbed his back and pulled him to his chest. He was in agony, tears streaming down his face and soaking into Jungkook’s shirt, as he struggled to drawn in a breath. Jungkook swiftly lifted Jimin up and carried him over to the living room, laying him down on the couch, kneeling before him, and grabbing a hold of his hands.

            Jimin could barely see through the haze of tears, but he could feel Jungkook’s hands shaking and knew the boy was distressed. He felt a tear land on his hand as he gasped and wheezed, his body shuddering. He squeezed the hands engulfing his own and tried to focus on the action, tried to calm down and focus on the comfort Jungkook was trying to send him. Every second was torture, but the coughs slowly lessened in intensity until he was left panting on the couch.

            “H-hyung,” Jungkook whispered, tears falling freely down his face, “hyung?”

            “I-I’m alright now, Kookie,” Jimin answered, his voice was much rougher and deeper than normal. “Don’t worry.”

            “You’re not alright, hyung,” Jungkook leaned forward to rest his forehead on their clasped hands. “You scared me so much. How can you tell me not to worry after that? What did the doctor tell you?”

            “She said it might be a chest infection…” Jimin trailed off.

            “And?” Jungkook prompted softly.

            “She wants me to go in tomorrow afternoon for chest X-rays incase it’s something worse,” Jimin finished.

            “I’m going with you,” came Jungkook’s immediate response.

            “You have plans with JaeEun tomorrow,” Jimin reminded and let out a small cough, causing them both to freeze momentarily.

            Jungkook scoffed, “I know, but going with you is more important. She’ll understand. She knows you’re my best friend and she cares about you too. I’m going with you and you can’t stop me.”

            “Alright, thank you, Kookie,” Jimin said in a small voice, feeling fragile.

            “And I’m staying here tonight,” Jungkook added with finality, “I’ll make you dinner, you stay here and rest.”

            “But you can’t cook,” Jimin giggled, “you want to poison me now?”

            Jungkook made a face, “I can reheat. I saw left overs when I was raiding your fridge earlier. Now, stay put or I’ll tie you to a chair.”

            “Sounds fun,” Jimin called, as Jungkook headed towards the kitchen.

            The rest of the evening passed like most of the times Jungkook stayed over in the past. They talked, laughed, and watched movies. Jimin had another coughing fit later on, but it was nowhere near as terrifying as the previous one. They both tried to forget their fears of what tomorrow might reveal and just enjoyed their time together. When they got tired, Jungkook joked that the trip was too far for his tiny hung and carried Jimin to his room, but Jimin knew he did it out of concern. When they were both settled on the bed to sleep, Jimin felt an arm snake around him and pull him back so that Jungkook was spooning him.

            “What are you doing, Kookie,” Jimin asked.

            “Please, hyung. I just— I was so scared earlier… you scared me so much,” Jungkook whispered and Jimin knew that he could only admit this, because of the darkness surrounding them. “I just need to make sure you’re here, that you’re with me”

            “I’m here, Kookie,” Jimin whispered back. “I’ll always be with you. I promise.”

            The next morning passed by all too quickly. Jungkook brought Jimin breakfast, cereal, in bed and they hung out in the apartment until they had to leave for Jimin’s appointment. As they walked into the hospital, Jimin’s fingers were twitching nervously and Jungkook must have noticed because he reached out and held his hand. They managed to find the reception area quickly and were directed to the proper floor. They remained hand-in-hand the entire way, only letting go when they were told that Jungkook had to remain outside for the x-ray.

            The entire process was over quickly and they were told the results would only take from fifteen minutes to half an hour to come back, but each second they spent in the hospital seemed to drag on endlessly. They wanted to hope for the best, but after the coughing fits Jimin experienced, it was hard not to expect the worst. They were just waiting to put a name to the nameless terror, to find out how horrifying this horror would be.

            “Park Jimin-ssi,” a nurse called, “your results are in. Come this way please.”

            The nurse led Jimin to one of the exam rooms, Jungkook following right behind him. When they got to the room, Jimin asked Jungkook to wait outside, he objected at first but obeyed eventually. Something in Jimin told him it would be best to hear the news alone. He paced the room nervously for a few minutes before the doctor came in, “hello, Park Jimin-ssi. I am Dr. Choi, sorry it took me a moment to get here. The doctor who read your scan called me in to verify the results, since I specialize in cases like yours.”

            “It’s fine doctor,” Jimin said, looking up at the man nervously. A specialist being called in to verify results sounded ominous. “But what exactly are cases like mine?”

            “Jimin-ssi,” Dr. Choi said, carefully, “have you heard of hanahaki disease?”

            “Yes, I think everyone has,” Jimin answered, feeling a sinking in his stomach. He didn’t like where this was going. “I’ve mostly just seen the romanticized version in movies, but I get the idea. I can’t have that. I- I haven’t… there haven’t… been any flowers.”

Hanahaki was a sickness caused by unrequited love. The person affected would cough and choke up flowers representative of their feelings. The flowers would take root in their lungs and push their way up their throat. It was painful and horrifying, gory and disgusting. It doesn’t happen to every person who fell into a love without hope, but it wasn’t completely uncommon. Many movies and tv shows featured the disease, because it was so easy to create a heartbreaking tragedy around it. The romantic hero who dies from the pain of failed love.

“Well, the movies rarely portray the disease accurately,” Dr. Choi explained, “it takes time for the flowers to actually develop. Before that the only symptoms are severe chest pain and coughing caused by their growth.”

“The treatment is real though, right,” Jimin asked desperately. His mind was reeling. He knew about the disease before, but he never thought he would experience it. Hanahaki always held a note of fantasy that made him question its existence in general, but now it was all too real.

“There is a treatment, but its effectiveness varies based on the flower. I need to do a throat swab on you to determine the species, then we can discuss your options,” Dr. Choi said. “Many people come in with gloxinias, meaning ‘love at first sight’, and most cases with it respond very well to treatment. Knowing the type of flower will give the most important information for next steps.”

Jimin nodded, processing everything slowly. If he had hanahaki, he didn’t want this to be the truth, then it was because of his feelings for Jungkook, the boy waiting for him just outside the door. If he had hanahaki, Jimin already knew it wouldn’t be the ‘love at first sight’ flower the doctor mentioned. His love for Jungkook wasn’t fascination or intrigue. His feelings ran far deeper than that. He knew what Jungkook was passionate about and how to annoy him, how to cheer him up, when to give him space. He knew his nervous habits and how amazing he was as a person, but he also knew his flaws, accepted and loved his flaws. The only treatment Jimin had heard of would remove all memories of the patient’s love interest from their mind along with the flowers. If he had hanahaki, then he would have to give up the most important person in his life entirely. He would forget he even knew someone that brought him so much joy.

Every thought brought Jimin closer to panic, as his mind focused on Jungkook and the strength of their bond. He felt his chest constrict and was cast into another violent coughing fit. It was the most painful one yet. He felt like his lungs and throat were on fire. His entire world reduced to pain and the struggle for air. He clutched his hands to his face, trying to find some sort of control, some tether to a reality outside of his agony. He felt something clawing its way up his throat, searing a vicious path out of his body, then something slimy and unpleasant hit his hand.

Whatever had exited his throat brought a momentary end to the coughs and Jimin gasped in relieved breaths of air. Slowly, Jimin lowered his eyes to look at his hand and was scared by the shock of red decorating his palm. He was certain he had coughed up blood, until his mind registered the fact that whatever was in his hand was the wrong shade of red to be blood. Looking closer, realization struck Jimin. There was no denying it anymore. Jimin had hanahaki. In his hand, lay a small, red flower, covered in saliva after working its way up Jimin’s throat.

Dr. Choi came over to Jimin and gently took his hand to get a clear look at the flower. It seemed the throat swab was no longer needed now that Jimin had coughed out his first flower.

“Red camillia,” Dr. Choi whispered, seemingly awed by the flower.

“What does it mean,” Jimin panted out, gazed still fixed on the red in his palm.

Dr. Choi looked into Jimin’s eyed, faced filled with sympathy as he answered, “It means ‘you’re a flame in my heart.’”

“And the treatment,” Jimin asked, but he already knew that no good news would come from the look on the doctor’s face.

“I’ve never dealt with a case of red camellias,” Dr. Choi said slowly. “There haven’t been many cases of it, but all of reports I’ve read indicate that red camellias don’t respond to treatment at all. The flowers always come back. A specialist once attempted a lung transplant, but flowers simply grew in the donor lungs. I’m sorry Jimin-ssi. The only thing I can offer you is a prescription for the pain. Consult other doctors for a second opinion, but I doubt you will hear any differently.”

Jimin nodded weakly, taking in the information. He was dying. He was dying and there was no way to cure his illness. The knowledge hurt him worse than the flowers slowly clogging his lungs. He was going to die, because he loved too deeply and he was going to die in agony. The terrible pain he had experienced so far was only the beginning.

“How long do I have,” Jimin struggled not to cry at the words, at his new reality.

Dr. Choi sighed, “a few weeks, maybe a few months, no more than three. I’m truly sorry, Jimin-ssi. I wish there was more I could do for you. Let me write out your prescription and give you some information on what you can expect, then you can head out. I’m sure you don’t want to stay here longer than necessary.”

The doctor quickly jotted something on a pad and grabbed a few pamphlets, while Jimin stared down at his feet. He felt numb. There in that small room it felt like nothing was touching him anymore. He was already a ghost. In that moment, he could already see the world without him. He could see movie nights with five people spread out on the blanket, Yoongi on the couch, and one cushion empty. He could see them sitting around a table filled with Jin’s cooking and being left with one empty chair. This would hurt them, Jimin knew it would hurt them, but they would survive without him. He was a part of a band of seven brothers who could survive anything together, even becoming six.

Jimin walked out of the room still floating, still out of phase with the world around him. He clutched the papers the doctor handed him and stood outside the door, not sure where to go or what to do, he just stared at the floor. What was a ghost meant to do?

“Hyung? Hyung say something,” Jungkook called worriedly. He put his hand on Jimin’s shoulder and that was all it took for Jimin to crash. A strange, broken sound flew out of his mouth, a terrible, strangled cry for every moment of the long future he no longer had before him. He collapsed into Jungkook’s arms, trembling and sobbing, as the other boy wrapped his entire body around him. An arm came his waist, the other pulled his head onto a shoulder, the hand staying buried in his hair, and a head tilted to rest against his neck.

“I’m here, Jiminie-hyung,” Jungkook whispered, gently rocking from them from side to side. “I’m here and whatever it is, we’ll get through it together. You and me, Jiminie, like always, like you promised.”

Jimin just sobbed harder.

Chapter Text

            Jimin stood in the center of his living room, alone in eye of the storm. It was the day after his hospital visit and his six friends were all seated in front of him after hearing the news for the first time. After his breakdown in the hospital the previous day he had refused to tell Jungkook anything until they gathered everyone. Jungkook begged to know what was wrong, but this was not something Jimin wanted to repeat several times for each of his friends. Beyond that, he knew they would need each other’s comfort to get through this. He was glad he waited to tell them all at once, because it only took him saying the word hanahaki for the room to freeze.

            “You have what” Taehyung whispered, the first to break the silence.

            “We didn’t even know you liked someone,” Hoseok mumbled.

            Namjoon shook himself out of his daze, ever the strong leader of their group, fixing a determined look on his face, “so you’ll get the treatment and we’ll be there with you and then you’ll get better.”

            “I can’t, hyung,” Jimin said, voice small and wavering. He curled in on himself slightly at the admission. He was still getting his mind around the certain end in his immediate future and telling his friends, his brothers, was breaking him. He loved them and he hated how soon he would have to leave them. They always talked about the future in terms of seven, now he had to tell them it could only be six.

            “Don’t tell me you won’t get the treatment, Jimin,” Yoongi’s voice was filled with anger. “Whoever it is out there that doesn’t love you, is not more important than the six people here that do. You’re getting the treatment, even if I have to drag you there to do it.”

            “That’s not what I-I’m saying, Yoongi-hyung,” Jimin was struggling to keep his voice steady, to get through this without another breakdown. “I didn’t say I won’t get it. I said I can’t. A-apparently, the treatment doesn’t work in all cases. Th-the type that I have… he said, the doctor said… th-that… he said that … there are no cases were someone with my type… survived.”

            “What,” Jin gasped out, shaking his head in disbelief.

            “The treatment won’t work for me,” Jimin said, looking so small and breakable standing alone in front of them. “The doctor said I don’t have much time… that I’m going t-to-”

            “No,” Jungkook shouted, face dark with rage and leapt up from his spot on the couch. “Hyung, you can— it can’t— You’re not— No! What’s the point of a treatment if it can’t save you? This has to be some kind of joke. Why would you joke like this, hyung? It’s not funny. Tell me it’s a joke!”

            Jungkook had been pacing the room as he spoke, but stopped to stand in front of Jimin. He looked angry and desperate, because all of them knew Jimin was not cruel. He would never tell them something like this unless it was the truth. Jungkook grabbed Jimin by the shoulders and shook him roughly.

            “Jungkook, stop,” Hoseok said worriedly.

            “You can’t leave us, hyung,” Jungkook shouted. “You can’t leave me.”

            “I-I’m sorry, Kookie,” Jimin whispered, finally letting tears run down his face. “I’m so sorry.”

            Jungkook’s entire body wilted, all traces of anger draining from his face. A single tear trailed down his cheek and he bowed his head down to rest his forehead against Jimin’s. Jungkook inhaled a shaky breath.

            “Can’t we love you enough to keep you alive,” Jungkook asked, sounding like the sweet, innocent boy all of them knew him to be.

            “I wished it worked that way, Kookie” was the only reply Jimin could think to give. Soon the rest of their friends were gathered around them in a group hug. Each one of them found some way to hold onto Jimin, as if just holding him would keep him with them forever. “If anyone could, it would be you.”

            “We’re supposed to all grow old together, Jiminie,” Hoseok’s voice sounded into the sad silence. “The seven of us together.”

            “Nothing is stopping that,” Yoongi sounded rough and determined. “I don’t care what some doctor said, we’ll find a way. You’re not dying, Jiminie, we won’t let you. Hyung won’t let you.”

            Jimin nodded weakly, wanting to let them hope, even if he knew there was nothing they could do. Jimin was in love with Jungkook and Jungkook was in love with JaeEun and neither of those things was going to change. Jimin couldn’t ask for anything more than friendship from the younger, was content with the love the boy already gave him, but his disease didn’t seem to care. All that mattered was that Jimin’s feelings were not returned in the same way. Hanahaki was cruel, it chose Jimin and it would not let go, even though Jimin was happy with the platonic love Jungkook had for him. Now he would miss out on a long future with his friends. He would not be there to see them doing the amazing things he knew they were all capable of. He would not be there to support them when they needed it. He wouldn’t be there to cheer them on. And Jungkook, he’d be leaving the boy without the hyung that knew him best. Without the hyung the spoiled him. The one who always knew how to cheer him up.

            Jimin coughed and he wasn’t sure what hurt worse, his heart or his throat. His vision was completely blurred by tears as he sobbed and choked and hacked and he could feel the flowers fighting to break free. Each petal seared his insides as he felt them scratching their way up, blocking his throat and lungs of the air he desperately needed. The pain increased as the flowers seemed to get stuck in his throat, making the coughs even harsher and more powerful as the flowers built up in his system, until one powerful, agonizing cough finally dislodged them. A stream of camellias spewed from Jimin’s mouth and his friends just held him tighter at the proof laid out before their eyes.

            Jimin gasped and wheezed in the arms of his friends. They were holding him up, hugging him tight, holding him together. Jimin looked up at them, meeting their eyes as much as he could manage while still cradled in their arms.

            “I’m sorry,” he whispered again. Seven hearts broke.

            Over the course of the next week, Jimin found that his six friends had basically moved into his apartment. It wasn’t unusual for his friends to come over multiple times a week, but now Jin came over every evening to prepare a meal that the seven of them would eat together. The others would stay late into the night or even sleep over. It was getting very cramped in his one bedroom apartment, but Jimin didn’t mind. He understood that his friends were afraid of losing him, each of them manifesting their fears in different ways.

            Jin had started to obsessively clean up after every coughing fit Jimin had, as if any lingering trace of the red flowers would make Jimin worse. Namjoon was reading every textbook he could find on hanahaki and its treatment, desperate to find hope for his dongsaeng. Hoseok and Taehyung were obsessed with keeping Jimin happy and laughing, seemingly convinced that if they distracted him enough the disease would simply disappear. Yoongi seemed angry at the world, he raged at even the littlest things, but treated Jimin like he was made of glass. Then there was Jungkook who was glued to Jimin’s side every chance he got and texted Jimin every hour he was away to make sure he was alright.

Nothing was normal anymore. Jimin almost regretted telling them, but he could never have hidden something so important from his friends. Not to mention how obvious the flowers bursting from his lungs were. The only secret Jimin kept about his condition was the recipient of his unrequited love. The other six boys begged and pleaded for a name, knowing that the disease could be stopped if Jimin’s feeling were returned, but he would not tell. His condition was already causing them so much pain and knowing that it was Jungkook would destroy the boy. If he had no hope of saving himself, Jimin at least wanted to protect Jungkook from this knowledge. He would not back down.

            “Minie,” Yoongi ground out through gritted teeth, he had lost all patience at this point, “tell hyung who you’re in love with.”

            It was Friday evening, two weeks after he revealed his condition, and Jimin was curled on his couch, shaking in a pile of newly coughed up camellias with Jungkook sitting beside him, rubbing large circles into his back, and Yoongi crouched before him, staring him down. Yoongi and Jungkook had come to his apartment earlier than the others, sadly arriving just in time to witness another violent coughing fit. The attacks were getting more frequent and aggressive with each day and the pain medication did little to help Jimin. The boy was a quivering mess when they found him. They could hear the sounds of his distress the second they opened the door, but could do nothing but watch in horror as the tragically beautiful blooms of spit slicked red burst from his mouth. Jungkook immediately ran to his side to comfort his hyung as much as possible, but Yoongi came forward slowly and carefully, eyes hard with annoyance.

            “No, hyung,” Jimin’s voice held a hard edge of determination despite how fragile he looked in his current state.

            “Please, Jimin,” Yoongi pressed, angrily. “I can’t keep watching you go through this without doing anything. You said the treatment won’t work for you, but if they love you back, it doesn’t matter. Just tell me who it is. We’ll make them love you.”

            “You can’t make them be in love with me,” Jimin whispered.

            “We can try,” Jungkook said and Jimin would have laughed at the irony if it wasn’t so terribly cruel. “We need to do something. We need you to stay with us Jiminie-hyung.”

            “You don’t understand,” Jimin turned to look into Jungkook’s eyes, hoping to convey just how deeply he meant his next words. “They do love me. They love me as deeply as they can and I can’t ask for more. The love they give me is more than enough.”

            “It’s not enough if you’re still dying,” Jungkook drooped, leaning into Jimin’s side. “It’s not enough if you’re still leaving us. I hate whatever person out there did this to you. I hate watching you go through this. Please, just tell us who it is.”

            “Don’t hate them, Kookie,” Jimin’s tone was fierce. Even if the younger didn’t know who he was attacking, Jimin felt the need to defend the other, even from himself. He hated keeping secrets, but he knew that Jungkook’s hatred would be directed internally if he knew Jimin was in love with him. Jungkook could never know. “Don’t blame them for this. They did nothing wrong. What’s happening to me, they didn’t cause this.”

            “Damn it, Jimin,” Yoongi yelled. “Stop defending them and just tell us who it is!”

            “I won’t, hyung,” Jimin said. “They are not to blame. You can stop asking me or you can leave now. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I won’t tell any of you. It won’t solve anything. You can’t force love, telling would only hurt them and I will never let that happen.”

            “So, what?! We just watch you die,” Yoongi shouted before freezing at his own words. It was the first time he admitted out loud that Jimin was dying. His face went blank and he looked numb as he continued in a soft voice. “We’re just watching you die, Jiminie. We’re watching you die and I can’t do anything. I’m your hyung. I should be able to do something.”

            “You can’t fix this, hyung,” Jimin stated. “If there was a way out, I would take it, but there isn’t. Just, please, please, stop asking. It would hurt so much more if they knew.” Jimin said the last part softly, tears forming in his eyes from the desperation of his plea.

            At some point during their argument Jin, Namjoon, Taehyung, and Hoseok had entered the apartment. They were hovering at the entrance of the living room, but Hoseok took this moment to push past the others into the room. He walked over to the couch and stood beside Yoongi, trampling over camellias, to place a hand on his shoulder.

            “Stop, hyung,” Hoseok whispered, then reach out his other hand to gently ruffle through Jimin’s hair. “We’ll stop asking Jimin. I promise.” The others slowly nodded, struggling to stay composed. In the silent room, the other six boys traded glances, trying not to make this even harder for Jimin. They hated agreeing to stop asking, but they couldn’t risk driving Jimin away when he needed them the most. The promise felt like giving up on him surviving, but it was the only way to keep him with them for even a short period of time.

            The rest of the evening was awkward. They brushed off the earlier confrontation, but the tension remained. Every time Jimin coughed, he would catch at least one of the others opening their mouth to say something before quickly stopping themselves. Most of them left earlier than any other night in the past weeks, except Jungkook, who insisted on staying the night.

            Jimin woke up feeling warm and happy. There was no pain in his chest for the first time in weeks. He burrowed into the covers, ready to get more rest, when he felt a weight around his waist shift at the movement. He opened his eyes to see a pale arm wrapped protectively around him and smiled contentedly. Jungkook was laying beside him on the bed, snuggled up to Jimin like a child hugging his favorite teddy bear. His heart flooded with affection for the sweet boy, before he gently removed his arm and rolled off the bed.

            In the past weeks, Jimin was constantly plagued by chest pain and being relieved of the constant ache was making him feel normal again. Instead of following his cautious new patterns of living, he followed habits from before his illness and that meant a special best friend breakfast to spoil his precious dongsaeng. It was tradition that whenever Jungkook slept over, they would have dessert for breakfast. Jimin quickly and quietly dressed and gathered his wallet and keys to head out to his favorite nearby bakery. There he knew he could get all of their favorite desserts for them to feast on.

            Feeling excited and carefree, Jimin jotted down a quick note, in case Jungkook woke up before he returned, and headed out of the apartment. His mind was filled with memories of other breakfasts spent joking and laughing with his friend. There was a bright smile on his face, as he began climbing down the stairs to leave the building. He could see the younger boy’s cute smile, hear his melodic laughter, and delighted in knowing that he was the cause of the joy the younger had in all of those memories. Jimin chuckled to himself, knowing it was strange to be this happy about buying breakfast, but he couldn’t help it. The littlest moments with Jungkook brought him so much joy.

            Reaching the landing to the next flight of stairs, Jimin was completely immersed in his happy thoughts, so it was especially jarring when a stabbing pain sliced through his lungs. He immediately realized what was happening and clutched at the banister for dear life, internally cursing himself for being reckless. Of course, he was having another coughing fit, he couldn’t go long without one these days. The stairs in the building were concrete and, despite having climbed part of the way down, there was still a number of steps left to the bottom. A fall from that height was the last thing he needed, but the coughs had taken over his body once more, harsh and merciless in their assault. His face was red from lack of oxygen and his eyes were tearing up from the pain, but it still continued. He could not physically endure much more; his shaking limbs were going to give out at any moment. Tears streamed down his face, overwhelmed by pain and exhaustion. Then the inevitable occurred. The harshest and most violent cough hit Jimin’s weak body. The force of it dislodged his fragile grip on the banister and sent him flying forward.

            Jimin crashed down the stairs with red camellias bursting from his lungs. He tumbled helplessly, striking the steps in painful jolts. Somehow, he was still coughing out blossoms and couldn’t even call out for help. Nothing and no one was there to stop his awful descent, until he finally landed at the bottom, smacking his head and laying splayed out on the cement. All down the stairs, a trail of red marked his path, blood and flowers scattered on the steps and strewn all around the beautiful boy with a tear-stained face and a red flower petal clinging to his lips.

Chapter Text

            Jimin woke up to a warm weight on his hand and a beeping in his ears. He felt foggy and disoriented, unsure of where he was. There was a dull aching throughout his body and his head throbbed unpleasantly. He tried to figure out where he might be, but his sluggish mind provided no answers. It was worrying him and he was vaguely aware of the beeping sound speeding up. A nagging feeling in his gut told him something was wrong. He struggled to open his eyes, quickly shutting them again when the light burned. Taking a second to adjust, he tried again, this time managing to squint at the world around him and realized he was in a hospital bed.

            Did I have a really bad coughing fit, Jimin wondered briefly, before the memories of his terrible fall crashed down on him. He struggled to calm himself, as the panic rushed through him. Just recalling the horrific scene scared him.

            Needing a distraction, Jimin carefully sat up, struggling against his aching body and weak limbs. When he was finally upright, he looked around the room, only to stop when he saw a head of light brown hair resting on his left hand. He sighed at the sight, instantly relaxing at the familiar fluff. Any distress was removed by the comforting presence beside him. He gently moved his thumb to caress the cheek on his palm.

            “Kookie,” Jimin whispered, wincing slightly when the word grated at his dry throat. “Kookie, wake up.” A small groan sounded from the boy and Jimin let out a giggle before calling louder this time, “Come on, Jungkookie. Wake up for your favorite hyung.”

            “Jiminie,” Jungkook spoke groggily, then jolted up to lock eyes with Jimin.

            “Yah! It’s hyuuuuung,” Jimin whined. He had a fond smile on his face that took any seriousness out of the protest. He coughed lightly and Jungkook jumped up to grab a water bottle from a small table beside him. He handed it to Jimin who smiled gratefully and took a sip.

            “You’re really awake,” Jungkook said, his eyes wide, as he settled back down in the chair next Jimin’s bed.

            “Yes, Kookie, I’m definitely awake,” Jimin titled his head in confusion to the other’s words, but regretted it when the movement caused a nasty spike in the aching of his head. Studying Jungkook’s face carefully, Jimin noticed that he looked pale, tired, and there was a redness to the boy’s eyes, which distressed him greatly. Had Jungkook been crying? “What’s wrong, Kook-ah? You look like you’ve been crying. Are you alright?”

            “Am I alright,” Jungkook repeated incredulously. “Hyung, you’re in the hospital! You have a concussion and you’ve been asleep for about two days. I think the reason I’m upset is pretty obvious!”

            Jimin blinked at Jungkook’s statement, startled by his strong reaction. The fact that Jungkook did not deny crying showed just how distressed the boy must be. Jimin knew how much he hated seeming weak. Ever since Jimin got sick, Jungkook was showing his vulnerable side more openly than ever. Usually, Jungkook would try to keep all of his worry buried inside, but it seemed that his feelings about Jimin’s declining health was too strong for him to hide.

            “I-I’m sorry, Jungkookie,” Jimin stuttered out weakly. “Hyung didn’t mean to scare you.” He felt guilty for worrying Jungkook, even though it was an accident. He hated it when Jungkook was upset. Jimin always saw a sweet, pure soul in his eyes, it was one of the many things that first drew him to the younger, one of the many reasons he doted on him so much. Seeing that purity tainted by distress was torturous for Jimin.

            “JIMINIE,” two voices shouted in unison, breaking the slightly tense silence that had developed in the room. Jimin looked up to see Hoseok and Taehyung rushing up to his bed, Yoongi, Seokjin, and Namjoon following behind them. The five of them quickly crowded around Jimin’s bed. Hoseok and Taehyung stood beside Jungkook, seated in a chair on Jimin’s left, and the other three walked around to his right side.

            “Hi,” Jimin greeted them all happily. “You guys are all here.”

            “Of course, we’re all here, idiot,” Yoongi scowled at him.

            “Yoongi, he’s in the hospital, be nice,” Seokjin scolded, before studying Jimin. “How long have you been up? How are you feeling?” It was obvious that Jin had more questions to ask, but was trying not to overwhelm Jimin.

            “I’ve only been up a few minutes, so I’m a little disoriented,” Jimin answered, “but other than that I’m alright.” In reality he was feeling achy all over and the dull throb in in his head was making him queasy, but it seemed better not to worry them more than they already were. Weeks of chest pain made him used to hiding his discomfort.

            “Don’t lie to me,” Jin glared at him. “The doctor said you would be in pain when you woke up. That was a nasty fall, Jimin. You need to tell the truth so that we can take care of you properly.”

            “Sorry, hyung,” Jimin hung his head. Seokjin was right, but he stilled hated worrying them.

            “What were you thinking anyway,” Yoongi’s voice was heated. He was normally gentler when he spoke to Jimin, because he knew how sensitive the younger could be, but he was too upset to reign himself in. “Why would you go out alone like that, when you know what could happen? Do you want to die? Is that it? Because you easily could have!”

            “Calm down, Yoongi-hyung,” Namjoon turned in his spot sandwiched between Yoongi and Seokjin, to push Yoongi back. “I know you’re worried, but you’re not helping.”

            “It’s ok, Joonie-hyung,” Jimin spoke softly. He stared down at his lap, as he continued in a shaky voice. “He’s right. I should have been more careful, but I woke up and for the first time in weeks, I felt good. I felt normal again and I just wanted to act normal. I wanted to forget about everything, the pain and the flowers and the fact that I’m dying. I stupidly hoped for a second— but no, I should have been more careful.”

            The room fell silent. Hoseok, Taehyung, and Jin were teary-eyed, Namjoon looked lost, Yoongi seemed ready to punch himself for his words, and Jungkook looked like all the air had been knocked out of him. Taehyung gulped in a shaky breath, then grabbed Jimin’s had and shot a glare at Yoongi. “No, Jiminie, no. You don’t need to be sorry. Yoongi-hyung is just being a grouch instead of admitting he was worried. None of us are mad at you.”

            “There’s nothing wrong with having hope,” Namjoon added. “Hope is gift that you should hold close to your heart. It is what keeps us going in the worst of times, stumbling through the darkness with no guarantee that we will ever find the light.”

            “But there is no hope for me, hyung,” Jimin mumbled.

            “Please, don’t say that,” Jin reached forward to stroke a shaky hand through Jimin’s hair. “You have me, your stunningly handsome hyung, taking care of you and these other, less attractive, idiots too. The other people who dealt with hanahaki didn’t have us. My beautiful face will heal you.”

            Jimin giggled, glad for the change in atmosphere. Everything in his life was sad and tense, a little bit of silliness was welcome. The others laughed too, ready to jump at every chance they had to make Jimin smile.

            “Maybe my face will heal Jiminie,” Hoseok shouted, flashing a giant grin at Jimin.

            “You look like a horse,” Yooongi smirked at him.

            “Well you look like a turtle,” Hoseok scowled at the insult.

            “No, Yoongi-hyung is a sloth, cause he’s always sleeping,” Jimin chimed in, cheerfully.

            “I work hard, brat,” Yoongi said, but smiled indulgently at Jimin’s playfulness. “I take naps to make up for my crazy hours.”

            “What’s the longest you’ve slept,” Jimin challenged.

            “I once slept 20 hours straight,” Yoongi answered, seeming proud of this record.

            “That’s not normal,” Jimin laughed out. His face lit with a brilliant smile.

            “Hyung is a professional sleeper,” Taehyung burst out loudly.

            “Quiet down, Tae,” Namjoon said. “Jin-hyung can only flirt with the nurses so much before they stop falling for his charm and we get kicked out.”

            Jin scoffed, “My charm only gets more affective with time.”

            “Come on, we all know you’re old, hyung,” Jungkook joined in with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

            “Ok, ok wait,” Namjoon tried to reign everyone in, as they descended into bickering chaos. “We need to tell you something, before we forget.”

            The others sobered at the comment, though the bright atmosphere did not completely evaporate. There was a seriousness in their faces, but they smiled at Jimin, then gave their attention to Namjoon.

            “So, Jimin, the doctors spoke with us while you were unconscious,” Namjoon began, “and they said that it might not be safe for you to live on your own anymore. None of us want to see something like this happen again and with your apartment several floors up and no elevator, it would be better for you to live with one of us. We talked it over and we think you should stay with Jungkook. His apartment is on the first floor so you will be able to leave the apartment more, plus the rest of us live almost equal distances from there so it will be easy for us to come over and help you.

            “Until you get better,” Namjoon gave Jimin a pointed look, “we want to take care of you. Don’t try to refuse or make a big deal of ‘bothering us.’ Besides, the doctors will only release you from the hospital with someone to take care of you.”

            Jimin blinked at Namjoon’s speech. It made sense to stay with someone after his accident, but to stay with Jungkook. He felt like the universe was playing some cruel joke on him. They wanted him to live with the person he was dying for. He was around Jungkook constantly as it was, but staying with him twenty-four/seven sounded like a terrible idea. It would mean constant exposure to the source of his illness. It would be a constant reminder that Jungkook loved him enough to sacrifice and take care of him, but not enough to keep him alive. A constant reminder of the most important thing he was leaving behind, his role as Jungkook’s constant supporter.

            “U—um, hyung,” Jimin stammered tentatively. “Kookie is the youngest. He shouldn’t have to take care of me. I should stay with someone else.”

            “No matter where you stay, I’m helping take care of you,” Jungkook stated. “Don’t you trust me to look after you?”

            “Of course, I do,” Jimin hurriedly assured him. “You helped me so much with my bruised ribs. I just— wouldn’t it be better if I stayed with one of you, hyungs?”

            “Minie, we are all going to take care of you,” said Hoseok.

            “And if you don’t stay with me I’m camping out wherever you stay,” Jungkook’s mouth was set in a determined line, which Jimin knew meant he was serious.

            “We talked it out, Jimin,” Namjoon spoke sternly, “and staying with Jungkook seems like the best option for you. Unless there is a specific reason you want to stay somewhere else, we can start moving your stuff into his apartment today.”

            Jimin floundered for a reason that would not reveal his feeling for Jungkook and came up empty. There was no good excuse he could think of that would satisfy them.

            “No, there’s nothing, hyung,” Jimin put as much cheer in his voice as he could muster, “of course, I want to stay with my favorite dongsaeng. Me and my Kookie living together. What could be better?”

            The rest of the day passed without much incident. They worked hard to keep a positive atmosphere in the hospital room, even when Jimin was racked with coughs and flowers piled on the blankets around him. Jin managed to sneak in some food he cooked, so they ate a feast for lunch, before Jin and Taehyung left to gather Jimin’s clothing and Hoseok, Yoongi, and Namjoon went to Jungkook’s apartment to start setting it up. They wanted to have everything ready for Jimin to leave the hospital the next day. A look that Jimin did not understand passed between them when he asked why Jungkook was not going, since it was his apartment they were setting up. There was an awkward pause, before Taehyung rushed out a quick, “We don’t want you getting bored here all by yourself and Kookie would just be a brat and mess around or start showing off how strong he is, if he came,” then rushed out the door.

            Jimin frowned at the strange behavior, but allowed the reaction to pass. Spending the afternoon with Jungkook was no hardship for Jimin. Why would he want to be alone in a hospital bed, with nothing to entertain him? The younger quickly distracted him from their current location with videos, music, and strange conversations that only made sense to Jimin and Jungkook. In the evening, when the nurses came around to declare the end of visiting hours, Jimin was surprised to see the nurses skip his room. One nurse stopped in the doorway to Jimin’s room, saw Jungkook and immediately turned and left.

            “What was that about,” Jimin asked, head tilted in curiosity. “Why would she let you stay, when they are kicking out all the other visitors?”

            “Do you want me to leave,” Jungkook, asked instead.

            “You know I don’t,” Jimin smiled at him, “but why did they not even say anything to you? That seems weird.”

            “Well, um…,” Jungkook hesitated to explain. “The first night you were here they let us stay the night, because we were all so worried and Namjoon found a way to logic them into allowing it. Yesterday night, they kicked us out, but…” Jungkook struggled with his words, “but… Jin got upset as we were leaving so Yoongi yelled at the nurses and threatened them into letting us stay. Apparently, it was affective enough to work for today too.”

            “He must have really done a number on them,” Jimin giggled at the thought, “I’m sad I missed that. It’s fun to watch Yoongi yell at other people.”

            The two boys fell into a playful conversation, until Jimin started yawning and they realized that it was getting late. Jimin told Jungkook to go home and get some rest, since it was obvious that the younger had not left the hospital since getting there two days ago, but Jungkook refused. He was adamant about staying the night again. Jimin assured him that he would be fine, but Jungkook ignored him. Instead, he curled himself up in the uncomfortable, vinyl, hospital chair and declared it a “heavenly cloud” that he simply could not leave.

            Jimin found Jungkook’s presence in the room comforting. With how weak he was from his illness, the effects of the accident, and the peace he felt with Jungkook near, he fell asleep easily. He was in the midst of a bright happy dream, when he startled awake. Something external had woken him up, but his sleep dazed mind could not locate the disturbance. Jimin was ready to just go back to sleep, but his brain slowly processed a noise from beside him. A soft sniffling could be heard, followed by a cry in a voice so dear to Jimin.

            “No,” Jungkook whimpered, the sad sound ripping through Jimin’s heart. “No, please… no.”

            “Kookie,” Jimin whispered. “Kookie, what’s going on?”

            “No, no, no,” Jungkook continued to plead. “Hyung… please, hyung.”

            “Kookie, what’s wrong,” Jimin tried louder, concerned about the younger.

            “You can’t leave me,” Jungkook’s sniffles were getting more rapid and unstable, “hyung… Jiminie-hyung… I need you…”

            “Kookie, I’m right here,” Jimin struggled to get through to him. “Kookie. Kook-ah. Jungkook!”

            Jimin saw the vague figure of Jungkook beside him jolt in his chair.

            “Wh—what” Jungkook finally responded, “what happened?”

            “Jungkookie, you were talking in your sleep,” Jimin fought his way into a seated position, then leaned off the bed and flailed his arm blindly in Jungkook’s direction, until he lightly swatted his leg. From there Jimin was able to trail his hand up the arm rest until he found Jungkook’s hand and latched onto it. “You were having a nightmare.”

            “Thanks for waking me,” Jungkook squeezed Jimin’s smaller hand, voice rough with tears.

            “Do you want to tell me about it,” Jimin asked. “It might help.”

            “I’m not sure if it will,” Jungkook said hesitantly.

            “You can tell me,” Jimin coaxed, “let me help.”

            “My dream was…,” Jungkook started softly, sniffling. “it was about your accident.”

            Jimin’s heart throbbed at those words and he gripped Jungkook’s hand tighter, hoping to ease the other with the contact.

            “The morning of your accident… I was,” Jungkook’s hand was trembling as he struggled through the memory. “I was the one that… found you. I woke up that morning, saw your note, and got excited. I started setting the table for breakfast and planning out a movie marathon for us. When I stopped to look at the clock I realized it was half an hour later and the bakery is only a few blocks away, it wouldn’t take you that long. I thought maybe you were going overboard in your ordering. I tried texting you to see if you were on your way, before I decided to just head over to the bakery to check for myself.

            “So, I left your apartment and I walked to the stairs and I could see something red at the top of the stairs, but I didn’t think of…,” Jungkook’s voice was beginning to waver. “I could see more red going down the steps as I got closer and then I got to the top step and I saw you.” Jungkook’s control of his emotions broke down and a sob shook his frame.

            “I thought you were dead hyung,” Jungkook sobbed out. “You looked so small and broken at the bottom of the stairs. I don’t even know how long you were lying there, before I found you. The worst part was the stupid flowers. They were everywhere, all over the stairs and all around you. When I close my eyes, I can still see it. I can’t stop seeing it, hyung. I lied to you earlier, when I said that Yoongi-hyung yelled at the nurses because Jin got upset after we left your room. Hyung yell at the nurses, because I had a panic attack, before we even got out of the hospital. It felt like, the second you were out of my sight, you would be lying at the bottom of those steps again.”

            “Jungkook-ah,” Jimin sucked in a ragged breath, “I’m so sorry you had to see that, but I’m right here. I’m always here for you.”

            “Y-You can’t promise that anymore,” Jungkook choked out. “This accident and the mountain of flowers you cough up every day are proof of that.”

            “Yes, I can,” Jimin tugged Jungkook’s hand to himself, urging the younger to come closer to him in the dark room. “I can promise that I’ll always be with you, because I always am. I don’t have to physically be there to love you, nothing can change that. Even after… I’m gone.”

            “I need you here, hyung. We all do,” Jungkook struggled, unsuccessfully, to calm down. “Why did you give up? Can the person, really never love you back? Can you try to forget about them, love someone else? Please.”

            “It’s not that easy, Kookie,” Jimin’s voice wavered and he pressed Jungkook’s hand to his heart. “I love them too much to love someone else, my heart can’t forget them. They are a part of who I am and… and I would never want that to change. Even though it hurts that they are in love with someone else, I could never stop loving them. Would you be able to just stop loving JaeEun?”

            “…no,” Jungkook admitted and the small corner of Jimin’s heart that hoped otherwise, the part he never realized existed, bled out into a pool of grim acceptance. “No, I love her. We’ve been through so much together. I think… I think I’ll marry her one day.”

            “I—” Jimin wheezed out a few agonizing coughs, dislodging a single blossom from his throat, but was mercifully spared a full-scale onslaught this once. He inhaled a shaky breath, before continuing. “I would love to see that day, Jungkookie. I know you’ll be so happy together. For now, let’s try to get some rest.”

            “Ok,” Jungkook whispered, sounding more collected, now that his thoughts were centered on his girlfriend. “but can we keep holding hands, Jiminie? I think that will stop the nightmares.”

            “Of course,” Jimin settled down on the bed, keeping Jungkook’s hand close to his heart. “Anything for you, Kookie.”

Chapter Text

            Jimin settled into Jungkook’s apartment easily. Despite his initial resistance to the idea, living with Jungkook made him happy. Even when weakened and in pain, Jungkook was a source of joy in Jimin’s life. It was just as the flower meaning suggested. Jungkook was a flame in Jimin’s heart, providing light and warmth in the darkest of times. A flame that would never die out. An equal source of pain and comfort.

Beyond the joys of spending so much time with the one he loved most, there was an important advantage to living with Jungkook. Being alone in his apartment for some of his coughing fits had been terrifying and it was comforting to know that Jungkook was there or would be home soon, if an attack hit while Jungkook was out. Jungkook attended to Jimin’s needs and Jimin did what little he could to ease the younger’s burden, sleeping in his room at night to fight away the nightmares. The two of them quickly fell into a pattern of living that suited them both perfectly. Jungkook would get up in the morning, wake Jimin and help him to the kitchen where they would eat breakfast together, before Jungkook brought Jimin to the living room and left for work. During the day Jin, Namjoon, Taehyung, Yoongi, and Hoseok would find a moment to drop by and check on Jimin so he was rarely alone for long. In the evenings, they would all have supper together and watch movies until the others went home.

Jimin smiled, laughed, and joked with them on a daily basis, but, no matter how cheerful he was with them, no one could miss the obvious signs of his deterioration. His coughing fits were lasting longer and producing more camellias, his breathes often came out in a terrible wheeze, and it was difficult for him to walk even short distances without having to take a break. The doctors they visited were surprised that Jimin was lasting so long, but told them his lungs were getting too clogged from him to hold out much longer. They said it could be days, it could be weeks, but it would not be more than a month. Every moment was precious.

The six of them were holding onto Jimin as tightly as they could. They wanted him to feel as precious, as cherished, and as deeply loved as he was by all of them. They wanted him to live and Jimin could see the strain it was leaving on all of them, especially Jungkook. The boy had always been talented, handsome, and lucky. He was used to being faced with problems he could easily solve; now he was helplessly watching one of the most important people in his life suffer and drift away. He was focusing all his energy on Jimin and it was weighing him down.

“You’re going out today,” Jimin said with all the force his weak body could muster. “You have to, I already called JaeEun. She’ll be here in an hour to pick you up. You’ve been an awful boyfriend lately, I know, I live with you. Go out and have fun with your girlfriend. I know you miss her.”

“No, hyung,” Jungkook frowned down at Jimin, laying on the couch. “I’m not leaving you here alone. JaeEun understands. I can just call her to cancel. I took the day off work, because the hyungs can’t check on you today, so I’m staying here with you.”

“You need a break, Kook-ah,” Jimin smiled up at him. “It’s too much stress. I can tell. So, you go out and have fun. You don’t have to worry about me. I asked the others to lie to you to help set this up. I wanted it to be a surprise. Hoseok-hyung has the day off work, he will be with me all day. You can go and just forget everything.”

“Jiminie,” Jungkook whined, “why would you do this? I’m fine. I don’t need a break. Nobody needs to take over for me. I can handle everything just fine without taking a day off.”

“You’ve been taking great care of me,” Jimin told him, “but I’m still your hyung. I look out for you, no matter what. I’m not saying I want to stay with anyone else, or that you haven’t been amazing. I’m just saying that anyone would need a break, golden maknaes included. Stop arguing with me and get ready to leave, forget about me for the day, or I might just ask Hobi-hyung to take me with him when he goes home.”

“He wouldn’t take you,” Jungkook resisted, petulantly. “Everyone agreed that my apartment was the best place for you. This is where you stay. I already won that battle.”

“But if you’re burnt out, which you are,” Jimin argued, “and you refuse to rest, then here is not the best place anymore. I already asked Hobi-hyung and he agreed. Even the great Jeon Jungkook needs a day off sometimes. Don’t be a brat about this. You’re just mad, because JaeEun is coming and you don’t have enough time to look good for her.”

“I don’t need time to be handsome,” Jungkook smirked, rising to the bait exactly as Jimin knew he would. “I just am, but fine. You win. I will spend the day with my lovely girlfriend. You’re right, I do miss her.”

Jimin cheered at his victory. He was so worried about Jungkook, he looked so tired and drained from worrying about Jimin 24/7. The boy desperately needed the break. Whether Jimin was sick or healthy, bed-ridden or bouncing off the walls, Jungkook would always come first to him. Any moment of happiness he could give was more than worth the effort. Jimin could already see Jungkook relaxing as he headed to his room. The tense set to his shoulders was loosening up, but he paused in the doorway.

“Thanks, hyung,” Jungkook spoke softly, not turning around. “I’ll make sure to enjoy today, but I won’t ‘forget about you.’ I could never do that.”

“I know, Kookie,” a fond smile graced Jimin’s lips. “I know.”

JaeEun arrived at Jungkook’s apartment before Hoseok arrived. Despite Jimin’s protests, the couple refused to leave until Hoseok was there, so they spent a few minutes chatting together on the couch. It was the first time JaeEun had seen Jimin in a while and the changes in him obviously shocked her. Hearing about his condition and seeing him were two very different things. She was so used to seeing him run around with her boyfriend and all their friends, but instead he looked so frail. It was understandable that, when she saw him she froze, tears welling in her eyes, before Jungkook nudged her lightly.

“Don’t cry, JaeEun-noona,” Jimin threw her a sincere smile. “I’m fine. Jungkookie has been very good to me. I’m getting really spoiled. You know how hard it can be to get his attention.”

“It’s good to see you, Jimin,” JaeEun fought to reign in her emotions, squeezing Jungkook’s hand gratefully, when he took her’s, in a soothing gesture. They both missed the slight wince it caused Jimin. The action sent an aching through his lungs that was all too familiar. He knew it would be a long day of coughing.

“It’s good to see you too,” Jimin replied. “I hope you don’t mind how much time I’ve been hogging Jungkookie lately. And now I’ve moved in with him, I always thought it would be you.”

“Feel free to borrow, the brat,” JaeEun joked lightly, slowly regaining her composure. Jimin looked weak, but he still projected the same cheerful energy, making it easy to forget his condition. “Maybe your respectfulness will rub off on him.”

“Yah, why are you two ganging up on me,” Jungkook grumbled.

“Because you deserve it,” JaeEun laughed.

“You’ve turned my girlfriend against me, hyung,” Jungkook exclaimed, indignantly.

“I would never do that,” Jimin smiled mischievously, “that’s all your own doing.”

“Oh, how I’ve missed you, Jiminie,” JaeEun said happily. “We make such a great team, when it comes to annoying Jungkookie.”

The next few minutes passed with JaeEun and Jimin playfully teasing Jungkook, until the door burst open to admit a smiling Hoseok. It took a bit more convincing from the other three for Jungkook to actually make it out the door. Even with Hoseok there to look after Jimin, Jungkook was reluctant to be separated from his small hyung. He had to be pushed to the door by JaeEun and Hoseok, while Jimin shouted reassurances that everything would be fine. Despite their combined efforts, Jungkook still managed to pause at the door to cast one last look back at Jimin before leaving.

Once the couple finally left, Hoseok descended on Jimin with a full list of things to do during the day, most of them thoroughly impractical even if Jimin was not sick. They had fun laughing at the list and coming up with crazy plans for some of the more outlandish ideas, like ‘find Taeyang and convince him to give us a private concert.’ Hoseok had a talent for making everyone around him happy and he was not holding back an ounce of that talent during his day with Jimin, but certain realities cannot be escaped.

As Jimin predicted, it was a day filled with agonizing coughing fits, harsh and unforgiving, only made better by Hoseok hugging him and gently rubbing his back until the coughs died down. Hoseok would then clean up the mess of flowers, wipe his tears, and return to a Jimin already smiling as if nothing had occurred. Hoseok did his best to follow Jimin’s lead and act like everything was fine, but each attack made it harder. He had to watch his friend in agony, fighting just to pull in a breath of air, and then smile like everything was normal. It was too much and he knew that Jimin was just putting on a brave front to make him feel better. By the fifth coughing fit of the day, Hoseok could not take it anymore.

“You don’t have to smile for me, Jiminie,” Hoseok said after he had cleaned up the last of the camellias and come back to find Jimin smiling on the couch. “You don’t have to pretend that everything is fine.”

“I’m not pretending, Hobi-hyung,” Jimin insisted, his smile not diming in the slightest. “I know what’s happening, but dwelling on it will only leave me with less moments in my life where I was happy. I do actually listen when Namjoon-hyung gets all philosophical sometimes.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Hoseok tried again. “You keep trying to take care of us, when we should be taking care of you.”

“You are taking care of me,” Jimin reached for Hoseok’s hand and pulled him onto the couch, “but this is hard for you too. Can’t I at least try to make it easier for you?”

“Nothing will make this easier, Jiminie,” Hoseok sighed, “but you are helping us stay strong. What are we gonna do without you?”

“You’ll be fine,” Jimin promised, “you have each other.”

“We won’t be fine,” Hoseok said, “we’ll be incomplete. There will always be an empty spot where you should be.”

“Well, then I’ll just have to come back as a ghost to haunt you,” Jimin attempted to lighten the mood.

“Don’t joke, Jiminie,” Hoseok frowned. “Can you just let me do one thing for you? One thing that might make you feel a little bit better?”

“What is it,” Jimin asked.

“It has to do with who you are in love with,” Hoseok started and held up his hand, “no, before you get upset, I am not going to ask you who it is.”

“Ok, then what is it,” Jimin looked at Hoseok cautiously, prepared to shut down the conversation if it headed in a direction he was uncomfortable with.

“I don’t need to ask you who it is,” Hoseok’s voice was calm and soothing, for once. “I know you, Jimin. If there was some wonderful knew person in your life that you were in love with, you would have introduced us to them. We’ve been introduced to all of your friends. There is only one person, I know of, who you would protect as fiercely as you are protecting the person you are in love with. I know who it is.”

“H-hyung,” Jimin’s voice shook with anxiety, “what are you talking about? You don’t know them. I-I never got a chance to introduce you to them.”

“You’re a terrible liar,” Hoseok smiled weakly.

“N-no, really,” Jimin tried. “You’ve never met him— them.”

“I know it’s a him,” Hoseok said, with only a hint of sadness in his voice, “and you can’t convince me I don’t know them. You’re an open book, Jimin.”

“Hyung,” Jimin shook his head, his face filled with horror, “hyung, you can’t know. You don’t know… please…,” Jimin hung his head in defeat, “please… don’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t, I promise,” Hoseok assured. “I promise not to tell him or the others. I would never do that to you.”

“H-how did you figure it out,” Jimin whispered. “when did you find out?”

“I’ve only known since the night before your accident, when you yelled at Yoongi-hyung,” Hoseok patted Jimin’s knee soflty. “You were so determined to keep the secret and I’ve only seen that look in your eyes when it comes to him.”

“D-do any of the others know,” Jimin shrunk in on himself at just the thought.

 “I don’t know if they know,” Hoseok sighed. “Yoongi and Jin probably don’t. You know Yoongi-hyung would have done something crazy if he knew and Jin-hyung would have some giant reaction. I can never tell what Tae knows. I wouldn’t be shocked if he did, but he could also be guessing someone completely random. Namjoon, I’m almost certain he does. He won’t say anything though, but sometimes he watches the two of you with the saddest look on his face. And… well, we both know Jungkook doesn’t.”

Jimin nodded slowly, trying to process the fact that someone else knew. He raked a hand through his hair and looked up at Hoseok, small and vulnerable. “So, if you’re not going to tell anyone… where is this going?”

“I think you should say it out loud,” Hoseok said, firmly. “just once. I think it would be good for you, at least mentally. I already know and no one else is here. Let it out. Let me take on your worries for a moment.”

“Wait, is this a trick to make me tell you,” Jimin looked at Hoseok sharply, realizing his hyung never actually said a name.

“No, Jimin,” Hoseok smiled sofly, “I just want you to say it. If you don’t believe I know, then I can prove it. The person is younger than you, he’s taller than you and likes to tease you about it, he’s a brat, and he is one of our closest friends. That proof enough?”

“Ok, ok,” Jimin conceded. “You know.”

“So,” Hoseok pushed, “are you going to say it? I really think it will help. Just trust me.”

“Yeah,” Jimin took a deep breath, “I just need a second… I didn’t think any of you would find out.”

“I understand,” Hoseok ruffled Jimin’s hair, gently, “take your time.”

“I… I…” Jimin gulped. He never thought he would actually have to say it to anyone. The words had taken over every space inside him, they were pulsing through his body with every heartbeat, inescapable, ever present. His brain was telling him that releasing them in front of anyone, even just one person, was too dangerous. He could not speak the words that he spent so long fighting down.

“I don’t think I can say it,” Jimin whispered.

“It’s ok, Jiminie,” Hoseok pulled Jimin into a tight hug. “You don’t have to say it. Just know that you can. I’m here for you. Nothing bad will happen if you say it, just this once.”

“I…” Jimin buried his face in Hoseok’s neck, taking in all the comfort his hyung was trying to send him. “I love…I love…him… I love him…”

“You can say the name,” Hoseok rubbed Jimin’s back. “It’s ok to say his name.”

 “J-Jungkook,” Jimin chocked out, tears beginning to slide down his cheeks and soaking into Hoseok’s shirt. “I l-love Jungkook… I love Jungkookie s-so much. He i-is the most i-important person i-in my life. I would do anything to m-make him h-happy. I j-just… love him. I don’t need him to l-love me back… I just need him to smile.”

“I know, Jiminie, I know,” a tear trailed down Hoseok’s cheek.

“He has the cutest smile and he pretends that he’s tough, but he is actually really affectionate, even though he’ll never admit it. He can be so irritating, but he can also be so caring and I can never stay mad at him. He is so protective of the people he cares about. We’re all older than him, but he tries to look out for us too, you know he does. He’s so strong and he hates seeming weak and, hyung, please,” Jimin pulled back from the hug slightly to look Hoseok in the eyes, his face a mask of desperation. “Please, look out for him, because he can be so reckless, especially when he’s upset. I know you know that, but I just…”

“I will,” Hoseok promised. He was past the point of trying to convince himself that Jimin would be there to look after Jungkook in the future. The best thing he could do was try to bring Jimin whatever peace he could. “Of course, we all will.”

“Thank you, hyung,” a genuine smile curved across Jimin’s face, bright and happy despite the tears, before he pushed his face into Hoseok’s shoulder again and snuggled in. “Thank you.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for,” Hoseok whispered, as Jimin drifted to sleep in his arms. The sick boy’s body was drained from all the pain and the emotional strain of their conversation took the last of his energy. “Anything for my sweet dongsaeng.”

 When Jimin woke up again, he was lying in Jungkook’s bed with the covers tucked neatly around him and he could hear someone moving around the apartment. Hoseok must have carried him to the bed after he fell asleep. Jimin only had a moment to wonder how long he was asleep, when the door was slowly pushed open.

“Jiminie, are you awake,” a melodic voice drifted, lightly, into the room.

“Yes, noona,” Jimin replied. He carefully pushed himself up in bed, barely managing to support his own weight and panting from the effort. “How long have you been back?”

“Kookie and I got back an hour ago,” JaeEun answered. “Hoseok said you’d been asleep for a while. He left not long after that. He wanted to say goodbye, but he didn’t want to wake you.”

“Alright, are you sticking around for a bit,” Jimin asked.

“Yeah, I’m going to stay for dinner,” JaeEun smiled. “We ordered some food, should be here soon. Jungkook picked for you.”

“Sounds good,” Jimin stretched and yawned, still groggy from his long nap. “Where is he?”

“Oh, he’s taking a shower,” JaeEun laughed. “He may have slipped and gotten all full of mud. He didn’t listen when I told him to be careful, because it looked like the grass was wet, but you didn’t hear it from me. No, I would be sworn to secrecy if something like that happened.”

Jimin giggled, “noona, how can you break your promise like that?”

“When you have a boyfriend, who is so talented at so many things, you have to find ways to keep him humble,” JaeEun said with a wink.

“I’m sure you do,” Jimin smirked, already planning to tease the younger about it later. A few painful coughs overtook him at that moment, his hand clutching at his chest, but a full coughing fit did not come. He sighed gratefully, when it stopped, and looked up at JaeEun in the doorway. She was shifting uncomfortably, but locked eyes with Jimin and walked into the room, closing the door behind her, and settling down on the bed in front of him.

“Can I talk to you for a moment,” JaeEun glanced at the door, “before Jungkook gets out of the shower? Just the two of us.”

“What is it, noona,” Jimin was intrigued. He and JaeEun had never spoken about any very serious topics and Jungkook was almost always involved.

“I know we aren’t super close,” JaeEun admitted, “but I think of you as a friend.”

“I think of you as a friend too.”

“Good, that makes me really happy. I just wanted to say,” JaeEun paused to ground herself before continuing. “that I care about you. You are so kind and genuine. If the world was fare, only good things would come your way.”

“Thank you, noona,” Jimin smiled at her, “but why couldn’t you say this in front of Kookie? I thought it might be something bad.”

“Jungkook,” JaeEun sighed, “he would get mad at me for saying this. It would sound too much like a goodbye. It’s not, but he would see it that way. He yelled at me earlier, because I asked if we should bring you back some mementos from the gardens we went to. He said you could go there yourself and see them. That’s not at all how I meant it but… well Kookie’s pretty sensitive anytime your name is mentioned.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin whispered.

“It’s not your fault,” JaeEun shook off the apology. “He apologized right after and I understand. You mean the world to him.”

Jimin shook his head, “I’m one of his best friends, he cares about me a lot, but you are the one that means the world to him. You are his girlfriend.”

“Yes, I am and I am happy to be his girlfriend,” JaeEun said sadly, “but I’m smart enough to realize that it doesn’t make me the most important person in his life. I’m not upset about it. I know he loves me. I love him too, but I also know how special you are to him. I could almost be jealous. I’ve known him a little longer than you have, we’d only just started dating when you two met. It took me such a long time to get to know him, to get him to open up to me. He can be so guarded, but one day he starts talking about ‘this crazy hyung that won’t leave him alone’ and I could see this fond glint in his eye. You broke him out of his shell in ways I never could. So, yes, you mean the world to him. You are the most important person in his life. I don’t know what he’s going to do without you. That’s not a spot I can fill. It’s a spot that only you fit into. He has this perfectly Jimin sized space in his heart and no one else will do.”

A wave of grief passed over Jimin at these words. Being special to Jungkook only made everything harder. It was too cruel that his body was betraying him this way. He was dying from a disease caused by unrequited love and was being told how much the person who was not in love with him, loved him. And he knew it was true. It was too much for him to think about.

He almost welcomed the coughs, when they came this time. The pain drove away all thoughts of his torturous emotional reality. There was only him and the raking claws of agony searing through his throat. He was lost to the world, fighting for air, nothing could reach him. Not JaeEun’s worried shout, not frantic footsteps pounding closer, not the door banging open. He was alone in his pain, until strong arms wrapped around him and the most beautiful voice he has ever known whispered in his ear, “I’m here, hyung. I’ve got you.”

The torrent of red camellias that followed was horrifying, but the arms kept him safely against a warm chest and the voice kept whispering assurances in his ear. Jimin gasped in what little air he could, as his body finally relaxed, slumping into Jungkook. He used what little energy he had left to turn his head and smile at Jungkook. “Thank you.”

The younger just pressed his forehead to Jimin’s and whispered a shaky, “I’ve got you, Jiminie-hyung.”

Chapter Text

When Jimin asked if his six friends could find a way to take him outside for a day in the park with them, they all knew what it meant. After weeks of fighting, after lasting longer than any of the doctors thought possible, this was Jimin’s way of letting them know he could not hold on much longer. This was not just a day out with his best friends. It was a final day out with his brothers. He was trying to give them one last happy memory of the seven of them, before he was no longer able to. He was already so weak and the other six boys could do nothing, but agree and start making plans. Jin dragged Taehyung and Hoseok to help him prepare food and they all teamed up to convince Yoongi to wake up early so they would have more time to enjoy.

They set out on a sunny Saturday morning armed with bags of food, a blanket to lay out on the grass, a Frisbee, and a soccer ball. Hoseok, Yoongi and Taehyung were tasked with carrying their supplies, while Jin, Namjoon, and Jungkook took turns carrying Jimin on their backs. Everyone was looking forward to a fun day together, excitedly talking and joking as they searched for the perfect spot to claim. They ended up picking a grassy area mostly free of other people with big trees to provide shade. Namjoon, who was in possession of Jimin at the time, settled the boy under a tree as they all prepared to create chaos.

“Jiminie,” Namjoon said in a soft voice, casting a quick glance at the others to make sure none were in hearing range. “Before today gets too crazy, can you tell me one thing?”

“What is it, hyung,” Jimin asked.

“I just want to make sure that today, us having this day together, isn’t your way of giving up,” Namjoon was kneeling in front of Jimin and studying his face carefully. “I don’t want to spend today thinking that this is your goodbye to us.”

“No, that’s not what this is,” Jimin’s tone was serious, his eyes shone with honesty. “I am going to fight for as long as I can, hyung. I want to stay with you as long as I can, but… we all know what the doctors said. I just want to have a good day with all of you.”

The words ‘while I can’ seemed to hang in the air around them, but Jimin just sent Namjoon a bright smile. It took a few moments for Namjoon to give a solemn nod and return the smile. They needed a happy day, all of them, so Namjoon left it alone and joined the others to settle their things in the grass.

The only rule of the day was that Jimin was never left out of any of their antics. They played some games sitting in a circle so that Jimin could easily participate and when they were running around, one of them was always carrying him. At one point, they even made a game of trying to capture Jimin. It started when Taehyung and Jungkook argued about whose turn it was to carry Jimin. Hoseok quickly joined the argument, which evolved into playful shoving, and Namjoon and Jin got drawn in when they tried to settle the other three down. Yoongi just watched the whole thing happen, with an amused smirk, calling them all idiots as the mayhem began. Jin took an early lead, when he had Jimin sitting behind him as he warded off the others, but Jungkook was able sneak around the eldest to steal Jimin away. The youngest ran with his hyung in his arms, placed him gently in front of a tree, and then tackled the others whenever they tried to get to Jimin. None of them managed to defeat Jungkook and Jimin may have taken too much pleasure in watching Jungkook tackle Taehyung to the ground while shouting “Jiminie is mine”, but he let himself enjoy the moment. No one else would know.

The best thing about the day, for everyone involved, was how few coughing fits Jimin had. It had become normal for him to suffer through several before lunchtime, but the boys were pleased to note that Jimin only had three the entire day. They all knew it did not mean that the boy was magically cured of the illness destroying his lungs, but it gave them hope that maybe he could hold on longer than he thought himself capable of. When they gathered their things and left, with Jimin safely on Jin’s back, they were all in high spirits. It was as perfect a day as they could have possibly had. Jimin settled into bed that night knowing that he had given his friends, his brothers, a day they could cherish. He fell asleep with a contented smile on his face, taking joy in knowing that he had given them happiness.


It was a warm sunny day and Jimin was laying in the grass, his eyes closed. He was humming a simple tune, content to enjoy the gentle breeze caressing his face, when he realized something was missing.

“Kookie,” Jimin sang out happily. “My handsome Jungkookie, where are you?”

He heard an amused snort, before a large hand stroked his hair and an innocent kiss landed on his cheek.

“I’m right here, hyung,” the beautiful voice he was longing for replied. “Close to you like I should be.”

“Should be,” Jimin repeated, open his eyes to find Jungkook hovering over him. “Why should be?”

“Because, we are so good for each other,” Jungkook smiled down at his hyung. “and I always want to be with you. I am happiest when we are together.”

“So am I, Kookie,” Jimin beamed, his eyes disappearing from the force of his radiant smile, “I love you with everything in me.”

“I love you too,” Jungkook replied. “with everything in me and since you’re so small, that means I win. I love you most.”

“Yah! You brat,” Jimin fought back a giggle, “are you trying to ruin the moment?”

“Of course, I am,” Jungkook smirked, “this is all far too cheesy.”

“Why did I fall for you again,” Jimin joked.

“Because I’m amazing at everything,” Jungkook answered with no hesitation.

“No, it definitely wasn’t that,” Jimin said, an exaggerated look of concentration painted across his face. “Hmmmm… what could it have been?”

“Hyuuung,” Jungkook whined.

“Maybe, it was… how caring you are,” Jimin planted a kiss on Jungkook’s left cheek, “or how brave you are” another kiss to Jungkook’s right cheek, “or how cute you are” a kiss on the tip of Jungkook’s nose. “or…”

Jimin trailed off as his gaze locked with Jungkook’s, seeing the younger boy smiling a lovely smile as he leaned closer to Jimin. His eyes were filled with affection, like the older boy resting beside him was a treasure.

“How is this real,” Jimin whispered, his heart overwhelmed by the beauty he found flowing from every portion of Jungkook’s soul. “How are you real?”

Jimin woke from pleasant dreams of bright bunny smiles, to a haze of pain and discomfort. He felt like his chest was being ripped open from the inside out. Instinctively, he curled in on himself, drawing his legs up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, in an attempt to hold himself together. The pain seared through him and he let out an almost inhuman noise of distress, the most his lungs were capable of producing. His mind swirled with panic and confusion, until he realized what was happening and prepared himself for the coughs to hit. He felt so alone and scared, but then he uncurled his right arm from around his legs and reached out blindly. He knew what he needed, who he needed, and felt some of his panic settle when his hand knocked against his target, Jungkook. Jimin’s hand locked around the younger boy’s bicep in a tight grip, as he struggled to calm himself and fight the intense agony fraying at his sanity.

Another, louder, distressed noise escaped Jimin’s tortured throat and he felt Jungkook jolt awake beside him. Jungkook used to be a very heavy sleeper, but ever since Jimin had moved in, the boy seemed to wake up to care for his hyung every time a coughing fit hit during the night. This time was no different. The younger boy immediately sat up, gently shook off the grip on his arm, and pulled Jimin from his curl up position into his lap. Jimin’s fragile shuddering frame immediately settled into the strong hold. His head was cradled on a firm shoulder, a large hand tangled in his hair, and an arm wrapped under his knees so that his entire body was engulfed by the taller boy.

The aching torment continued to build in Jimin’s chest, until the first cough carved its vicious path up Jimin’s throat. It felt like glass shards were scraping their way through his already inflamed throat. The next cough came immediately after, giving the frail boy no time to recover. He could feel the blossoms clogged in his lungs, trying to push their way out, to tear him apart. Jimin had suffered through many coughing fits, but he had no doubt this one was the worst.

“It’ll be ok, hyung,” Jungkook whispered into Jimin’s ear as the coughs continued their merciless assault on his body. “It’ll be over soon.”

Jimin weakly nodded his head at the comforting words, even though the fit did not seem anywhere near stopping. The vicious torrent of blossoms was remaining firmly lodged in his mutilated lungs. With each second the pain increased to new levels of torture that had Jimin’s mind drifting to a half mad state, desperate to find some escape from the torment. His hands gripped weakly at Jungkook’s shirt, violent tremors making it impossible to get a true grasp on the fabric.

“The flowers will be out soon,” Jungkook tried to assure Jimin, “and then the coughing will end and you can rest.”

Both boys were starting to feel like this was different from the previous attacks. Most of the attacks had been shorter than this one and Jimin still had not coughed up a single blossom. Jungkook almost heaved a sigh of relief when he felt something hit his neck, until he realized that it did not feel like one of the slimly blossoms that he was now used to feeling land on his skin. Carefully, Jungkook untangled his hand from Jimin’s hair and reached out to turn on the lap beside his bed, before returning his fingers to Jimin’s hair. Once he adjusted to the light, Jungkook gently pulled Jimin’s head down to rest in the crook of his arm, so that he could look at Jimin’s face, and let out a horrified gasp.

Jungkook had always considered red to be one of his favorite colors, but in that moment, it was the most gruesome color he had ever seen. After he had found Jimin lying motionless at the bottom of the stairs, Jungkook’s dreams had been haunted by the image of a red flower petal glued to Jimin’s lips. That nightmare was nothing in comparison to the site of a vibrant red staining the plump lips and trickling from the corner of his mouth.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” Jungkook chanted, helplessly, his vision rapidly clouding with tears. “Hyung, no. Please, please, no.”

Blood, nothing good could come from coughing up blood. There was no way Jungkook could have prepared himself for the sight of blood spilling sluggishly out of Jimin’s lips, but even worse was the anguished look in his eyes. One person could only take so much pain.

“Hyung, stay with me, y-you have to stay with me,” Jungkook begged. He pulled his arm out from under Jimin’s legs and lunged for his cellphone, while keeping the older boy cradled against him. Immediately he was calling EMS and yelling frantically into the phone. “You have to help him. Please, you have to save him!”

Jungkook struggled to get out the information they needed, in his panic. It felt like a nightmare, but he knew it was all too real. He could never have dreamt up such a terrifying scene, each second worse than the last. Jimin was not getting enough air and the horrible coughs were transforming into a sickening wheezing gurgle, his chest convulsing as his body worked fruitlessly to reject the flowers in his lungs.

“Jiminie, you can’t go,” Jungkook whimpered. He dropped the phone beside him and placed his palm against Jimin’s cheek, locking his eyes with the pain clouded orbs. “I-I need you.”

Something in Jimin’s eyes cleared a little with those words. One of the small hands tangled in Jungkook’s shirt released its grip and a finger started to trace something on to his chest. Jungkook was too distressed to take notice, but the hand tapped against his chest and the brown eyes he stared into looked down pointedly, before meeting his again. Slowly, Jungkook realized what was happening and tried to make sense of the patterns being traced out, characters.

It’s ok,’ Jungkook felt Jimin spell out and the younger boy shook his head incredulously. Through all the pain, the blood, and the wheezing, Jimin was still trying to take care of him. He didn’t understand how Jimin was still coherent enough to try.

“No, nothing is ok,” Jungkook said. “Please, please, please, hold on. Don’t leave me. K-keeping fighting. Please, for me.”

Trying’ Jimin traced out, staring up at Jungkook, chest still heaving, blood still trailing from his mouth. ‘Hard

“I know,” Jungkook assured him. “I j-just… I don’t know what I-I’ll do without you.”

Fine. Hyungs. JaeEun,’ Jungkook felt against his chest next.

“B-but I need you too. I need you most,” Jungkook cried. He could see sadness and remorse mixed with the pain in the eyes staring up at him. Despite everything happening to him, Jimin was still worried about the younger boy he always clung to. The boy now desperately clinging to him. Jungkook desperately searched the gaze for any hope, but only noticed Jimin’s eyes starting to fall shut and shouted out in fear. “No, stay awake! Look at me, hyung!”

Be happy’ Jimin’s eyes were still drooping, but there was desperation in the shakily traced out words.

“Don’t say goodbye to me,” Jungkook shouted frantically, “You promised we’d always have each other. Hyung, please!”

Love you.

“I love you too, hyung,” Jungkook replied. “So please stay with me.”


Jungkook watched helplessly as Jimin’s eyes fluttered closed and the hands against his chest fell limp. The violent jolting of his chest was slowing down and Jungkook knew it meant that Jimin was losing the fight. His body was shutting down. A few jolts later, Jimin’s chest stopped moving completely and a terrible silence fell in the room.

“H-hyung,” Jungkook shook Jimin, even though he knew it would do nothing to help. “Hyung, w-wake up.”

Jimin remained still and silent in Jungkook’s hold and an awful keening wail sounded. Jungkook hugged the smaller, lifeless body tightly, sobbing out hopeless pleas for the boy to come back. He had never felt so small, so helpless, or so, terrifyingly, alone. Jungkook closed his eyes and hugged Jimin closer, hoping it was a dream, hoping for a miracle, but the hug only made him feel worse. Never before had he ever hugged Jimin and not felt the embrace returned. The most precious person in Jungkook’s life was hanging limply in his arms, slowly growing cold.

“How can you leave me when I still need you,” Jungkook whispered into Jimin’s neck, rocking back and forth. Tears were forging rivers across Jungkook’s cheeks. He let out an agonized shriek. His grief was taking on a life of its own. It was beating him down into the farthest reaches of him mind, untouchable, lost from world. There was nothing, a hollow numbness taking over his body. The broken sobs slowed, but his grip on Jimin held firm.

The paramedics burst through the door minutes later to find a silent boy with vacant eyes clinging to an unbreathing angel.


Jungkook looked at a vibrant floral arrangement and scoffed. It was ugly. To him everything was ugly, but flowers were the worst. He could not stomach the sight of them.

“What idiot thought it was a good idea to bring flowers,” Jungkook growled. He was standing in the hall for his memorial and every bright petal placed beside the large photo of the cherub faced boy felt like a punch to the gut. People were milling about, telling stories, giving condolences, but Jungkook could only focus on one thing. He glared at the delicate blossoms, his anger growing, until he was throwing the large display to the ground, stomping and kicking at it to vent his rage.

“Jungkook,” Jin shouted, running from across the room. “Stop it!”

Namjoon and Yoongi followed behind him, quickly grabbing the crazed maknae by the arms and pulling him away from the offending foliage.

“Why are these here,” Jungkook shouted back, trying to tug his arms out of Namjoon and Yoongi’s grasp. Taehyung and Hoseok soon rushed over, joining the others in a useless attempt to block the dramatic scene from prying eyes. Everyone was staring at the six young men, all of Jimin’s friends and relatives, but none of that mattered to Jungkook. All that mattered to him was that flowers were still around and haunting his precious hyung even at his memorial.

“Jungkook, you need to calm down,” Namjoon whispered. “Most people here don’t know what happened. He told everyone that he was sick. He only told us what he was sick with.”

“I don’t care,” Jungkook hissed, still struggling to break free from the two restraining him.

“I wanted to rip them down too, kid,” Yoongi stated, a hard edge to his voice, “but you need to pull it together. We’re all upset. We all miss him, but destroying every flower you see won’t bring him back.”

“Let go of me,” Jungkook yelled.

“Only if you calm down,” Namjoon said calmly. “We’re here to honor Jimin’s memory and this is not how you do it. I know this is difficult, but do it for Jimin. He would want you here. Now, can you stay here or do you need to leave?”

Jungkook sagged in Yoongi and Namjooon’s hold at the mention of Jimin’s name. The older boys slowly released their grip. Five sets of eyes watched him carefully.

“I’ll stay,” Jungkook answered. He looked around at the circle his five friends had formed. Jin was standing across from him, Yoongi and Taehyung were on his left side, and Namjoon and Hoseok were on his right. The formation looked wrong to Jungkook.

There should be another spot,’ Jungkook thought.

“Kookie,” a high, concerned voice called from behind him. If he tried hard enough he could almost pretend it was the voice he needed, but it was too high, too feminine, to satisfy his ears.

“It’s alright JaeEun-ah,” Jin replied when Jungkook remained silent. “He’s ok, now.”

“We apologize for the disturbance,” Namjoon stepped out of their circle to address the entire gathering. “This is a difficult time for all of us. We hope that you can be understanding of our friend. Please, allow us to rejoin you.”

A soft murmur of ascent rippled through the assembled guests, as they turned back to their conversations. JaeEun slowly approached the group, coming to stand beside Jungkook, and took his hand in a hesitant grip. She seemed frightened, as if the slightest of gestures could set him off, and he knew it was a valid fear. Ever since that indescribably horrible night, Jungkook had been anything but pleasant to be around. His hyungs had arrived at the hospital that night to find the hollow husk of their maknae still fused to the body of Jimin. The boy was practically catatonic. It took a lot of time and coaxing to get Jungkook to look at them, to let go, to leave the room, and they still weren’t sure if they had truly succeeded. Had they reached him, or was some part of him still in that room with Jimin, vacant and alone? The memory was still too fresh and the loss too great for them to know.

“Come on, Jungkook,” JaeEun whispered, pulling him towards a quiet corner of the room. “Let’s stay over here. You don’t have to talk to anyone. If you want, we can leave. Just say the word.”

“I don’t need to leave,” Jungkook snapped. “I don’t need you and the hyungs to watch over me and reign me in.”

“Kookie, we’re just trying to help you,” JaeEun sighed, “I’m just trying to be here for you. Nothing will make this better, but at least let me be by your side.”

“I don’t want help,” Jungkook spat, his tone fierce with anger. “What I want is to wake up and realize that this was all just a nightmare. That hyung is sleeping an arm’s length away and all I have to is reach out and he’ll be there.”

“I want that too,” JaeEun said sadly.

They stood silently for a few minutes, neither ready to speak. JaeEun was too nervous about making things worse and Jungkook was fighting his anger. Finally, Jungkook calmed down and took JaeEun’s hand, squeezing it in a silent apology which she readily accepted. It took a few more moments for Jungkook to leave their isolated corner, JaeEun beside him, their hands intertwined. They walked over to join Taehyung and Namjoon in speaking with Jimin’s cousins.

It was the same conversation that was being echoed in almost identical words throughout the room. How special Jimin was, how kind, how full of life. The phrase ‘he was taken too young’ caught Jungkook’s ears several times. It sounded like everyone was reading from a script. Jungkook could almost roll his eyes at them, if he wasn’t so horribly aware of who they were speaking about. Every time he heard the word ‘was’ next to Jimin, he flinched away. The wrongness of it kept eating at him and it wasn’t long before he exploded again.

“I can’t take this anymore,” Jungkook shouted to the room, stepping away from JaeEun. “Stop talking about ‘how great Jimin was’ like Jimin was just anyone. Jimin wasn’t! Jimin is the most amazing person I have ever met. Jimin is the type of person that people aspire to be. Jimin is the person who always looks out for me. Jimin is the person I can always go to. Jimin is my best friend. There is nothing was about Jimin. There never will be for me. He promised me that we would always have each other and Jimin never breaks his promises. So Jimin is!”

Jungkook stood there, glaring at the silent room, and then ran from the memorial. He ignored the shouts of his friends and his girlfriend to wait, to talk to them. He needed to get far, far away.


“Kook-ah, please talk to us.”

Jungkook sat panting on the floor of his living room. He was slumped in the center of the room surrounded by piles of destruction. The coffee table was turned on its side, pictures and decorative knickknacks strewn across the floor, papers ripped and crumpled around. Two mugs were among the wreckage, one shattered in front of the couch, the other cracked and laying on the couch cushions. There was a noticeable dent in the wall behind the couch from where one of the mugs had struck it. Very little remained undamaged, but the cause of the destruction was more broken than any of the items in the room.

Jungkook had run straight from the memorial to his apartment where he proceeded to throw or knock over every easily moveable object in sight. By the time JaeEun and his hyungs arrived he had already collapsed in a heap in the floor. They all stood in the doorway, staring in at the wreckage for a moment, before stepping carefully into the room. He gave no signs of realizing they were there, he just stared ahead of him, unresponsive to any of their appeals.

“Kookie, can you look at me,” Taehyung was crouched in front of Jungkook, with Hoseok on his left and Namjoon on his right. JaeEun, Jin, and Yoongi stood behind them, watching anxiously, but trying not to crowd the vulnerable boy. “Come on, just look at me. At least let us know that you hear us. You’re not alone.”

“Jungkook, you need to talk to us,” Namjoon pleaded, “we need to rely on each other to get through this. The pain will never go away, but we will find ways to cope, to move forward. You can’t keep shutting us out. Let us help you.”

“You can’t,” Jungkook whispered, still staring vacantly ahead.

“Why not,” Hoseok asked. “At least tell us why you won’t let us even try to help you.”

“Because you don’t understand,” Jungkook’s response seemed to leave his body without his awareness. His eyes were still so distant, so detached from the world around him. “You’ll never understand. You weren’t there, so you can’t. It was just me and Jiminie and blood, blood, blood… and then it was just me and the blood and the silence…”

“K-Kookie,” JaeEun called cautiously.

“He was there, in my arms, and I couldn’t do anything,” Jungkook continued.

“There’s nothing you could ha-,” Namjoon tried.

“All I could do was watch,” Jungkook spoke over him. He was slowly coming back to himself with each word. He had been lost to a numbness inside his mind, trying to shield him from the unbearable grief, but the respite was short lived. There is was again, the tightness in his chest, the weight in his heart. He wanted to scream. He needed to cry, but all that would come out was the violent anger he had displayed multiple times that day.

“You’ll never understand. You’re lucky you’ll never understand. You didn’t have to see his eyes glazed over in pain. You didn’t have to see him chocking up blood. You didn’t have to see any of it, but I saw all of it,” Jungkook’s voice was shaking with the weight of his emotions. “He was in so much pain, but he still kept fight. He kept trying to hold on, because he knew I needed him. He was still trying to protect me, even then. He tried to comfort me through his own… through his own… I-I should have been comforting him.”

“How can I ever stop seeing that,” Jungkook finally looked at the faces around him, hoping for an answer as the waves of grief built inside him. “How?! Jimin d-died in my arms! Tell me how can anyone help me through that.”

Jungkook burst into loud, gut wrenching sobs, as the protective barriers inside him fell. The iron grip Jungkook had on his own heart slipped and the tiny fragments it had shattered into throbbed their anguish. Hoseok reached out to pull Jungkook into a tight hug, as Jin, JaeEun, and Yoongi moved forward to sit close around them. The room remained silent to every noise except for Jungkook’s broken sobs.

“Y-you know w-what he did,” Jungkook chocked out between sobs. “H-he couldn’t speak… s-so… he… h-he wrote...h-his f-final… final words to me… a-across m-my chest.”

“Shit,” Yoongi whispered, a tone of awe filling the curse.

“I-I know… h-how did he e-even think t-to do that…,” Jungkook gasped in a breath, trying and failing to stop his tears. “D-do you want to know w-what he s-said? H-he…h-he told me th-that I… I would be f-fine. H-he t-told me that I-I have y-you…He t-told m-me to b-be h-h-happy.”

“Oh, Kookie,” Taehyung reached out to rub Jungkook’s back. By this point everyone had tears in their eyes. Jin had scooted in between Namjoon and Taehyung and had his arms around their shoulders as the three cried silently. Yoongi had one hand over his face, trying to hide his tears, but the other was firmly clasped with one of Hoseok’s. JaeEun knelt in front of Hoseok, watery eyes locked with her boyfriend’s shaking back.

“He was d-dying and he s-still f-found a way… to s-say g-goodbye. To t-tell me one l-last time that h-e l-loves m-me,” Jungkook’s chest heaved uncontrollably.  “H-he l-loved m-me…”

Jungkook suddenly went rigid in Hoseok’s arms. His mind was looping the words in a vicious cycle of ‘he loved me, he loved me, he loved me’ as pieces started to come together in his mind. A reality so obvious, but too awful for the boy to comprehend.

He loved me.’ Jungkook could see the adoring smiles Jimin always sent his way. ‘He loved me.’ Jimin stopping by to take care of him when he was sick. ‘He loved me.’ Jimin clinging to him as they watched a horror movie. ‘He loved me.’ Jimin calling out in concern whenever he pulled a stupid stunt. ‘He loved me.’ Jimin diving to the ground to cushion his fall, when he flew off the swings. ‘He loved me.’ Jimin’s content, love-filled gaze, as the life drained from his body.

“Jungkook,” JaeEun asked, confused by the boy’s tensed posture.

“He loved me,” Jungkook mumbled, too softly for anyone to hear.

“What,” Tae prompted.

“He loved me,” Jungkook said louder. “Jimin loved me.”

“Yeah, Jiminie loved you a lot,” Jin agreed.

“It was me. It was my fault. Jimin loved me,” Jungkook jumped out of Hoseok’s hold and started back and forth, stomping on the wreckage he caused earlier. “Fuck! He loved me! I killed him! It was me!”

“Oh, shit,” Yoongi whispered.

“Jungkook, it wasn’t your fault,” Hoseok scrambled to his feet, everyone else following suit.

“Yes, it was! It was all my fault,” Jungkook shouted. “All of his suffering was my fault!”

“Jungkook, please,” JaeEun reached and grabbed Jungkook’s wrist to stop his frantic pacing.

“Don’t touch me,” Jungkook jerked roughly out of her hold. “This is your fault too! If I wasn’t dating you, maybe I would have noticed! Maybe I could have saved him! Why did I have to love you? I could have saved him!”

“That’s not fair and you know it,” Namjoon said, moving forward to comfort the shocked girl.

“I don’t care,” Jungkook growled, venomously, before turning away. For the second time that day Jungkook ran away from the people who loved him, detached from the devastation he left in his wake.


This is where I should have noticed, Jungkook thought as he glared at the swing set he had flown off of months ago. How was I so oblivious?

Jungkook wasn’t entirely sure why he had been drawn to this spot. Maybe it was because it was the last place where everything had been ok. It was the last moment he had spent with a completely healthy Jimin. This was the place they were at when everything fell apart. Slowly, Jungkook approached the swings and sat down, closing his eyes.

Look, hyung! A swing set! Jungkook could almost hear himself shouting. I used to love jumping off of them, when I was a kid. It felt like flying.

You are a kid, Jimin had teased him.

In that case, I might as well enjoy myself, Jungkook had laughed and plopped himself down on one of the swings, immediately pushing off to set the swing in motion.

With his eyes still tightly shut, Jungkook repeated the action, reliving the moment in his mind. He was so happy that day. He had nothing to worry about. He knew no real struggles or pain. He had Jimin by his side. Everything was perfect.

You’re not going to jump off are you, he remembered Jimin asking with a hint of worry in his voice as Jungkook pushed himself higher. You could get hurt.

I’ll be fine, Jiminie, Jungkook had responded, carefree. You worry too much!

I should have listened to him, Jungkook thought, still climbing higher on the swing, the air whipping around him.

You are so disrespectful, Jimin had groaned in annoyance, you drive me crazy. Such a brat! I’m just trying to be a good hyung and watch out for you.

Jungkook remembered laughing at his words. He wished he hadn’t. He wished he had stopped the swing and looked Jimin. Gone to him and told him what a wonderful hyung he was. Better than Jungkook thought he deserved. You were the best hyung. I should have been a better dongsaeng.

Kookie, be careful, Jimin had begged him, smiling at his antics, but still concerned by how reckless Jungkook could be.

I used to do this all the time, hyung. I’ll be fine, Jungkook had shouted down to him.

Jungkook could feel the swing he was on starting to reach the same height as it had on that day, so he slowed a little. He was alone. If the swing jolted out of his off today, there would be no one around to help him.

“Jungkook! We finally found you,” Jungkook heard Jin’s voice shout, but his mind was still focused on the memory.

This is when I fell off, Jungkook thought and let go of the chain, jumping off of the swing like he had planned to when he was there with Jimin.

“Jungkook,” he heard Taehyung shout.

Jungkook was flying through the air, eyes still closed, picturing the worried look Jimin had carried that day. He knew that he should open his eyes so that he could land on his feet, but he took one extra moment in the past, unable to stop the flow of memory, too trapped in the past to worry about anything else. There was no way he was going to land well at this point so Jungkook prepared for a harsh impact with the ground and that is precisely what he got.

Jungkook crashed to the ground face first, his forehead colliding with the pavement violently. A nauseating pain shot through Jungkook’s head and a loud ringing filled his ears. He tried to open his eyes, but it seemed like an impossible task. A haze was falling over him rapidly, numbing the swirling sick filling in his head.

“Shit! Jungkook,” Yoongi sounded distant.

“Tae, don’t touch him! It could hurt him worse,” Namjoon’s voice was panicked.

“There’s so much blood,” that was Hoseok’s voice.

“Head wounds bleed a lot. It might look worse than it is,” Namjoon again.

Jungkook heard more talking, but everything was so far away and he was having a difficult time concentrating. All he knew for sure was that all of his hyung’s were around him and everything was getting dark and fuzzy.

“Why do you have to be so reckless,” were the next words Jungkook was able to understand through the fog in his head. He had heard this question before. It was so familiar. He wasn’t sure what the voice was referring to this time though. Nothing was making sense to him.

“Sorry, Jiminie,” Jungkook slurred.

“No, Jungkook, that’s Jae—” a deep voice spoke, but Jungkook could not make sense of the words.

“I’m sorry I always worry you, Jiminie,” Jungkook struggled to say, fighting the darkness closing in around him. “You’re such a good hyung.”

“I-it’s ok Kookie. Hyung forgives you,” the voice sounded wrong to Jungkook, but he smiled a little at the words.

“I’m so tired, hyung,” Jungkook moaned. “Why am I so tired?”

“No, you need to stay awake,” Jimin’s voice still sounded wrong. “Hyung will be very mad if you fall asleep.”

“Sound weird,” Jungkook mumbled. “Can’t stay awake… Too tired…”

“No, no, no. Please, just open your eyes.”

“Sorry, Minie,” Jungkook wasn’t sure why Jimin was so upset, but he didn’t like it. “Please don’t be upset.”

“Kookie, don’t do this to us.”

“Love you, Jiminie,” Jungkook fought to speak. “Love you so much.”

“Hyung, loves you too.”

Jungkook let those words carry him into his sleep, succumbing to the pull of the dark fog.


The shrill cry of sirens broke through the chilling silence that had settled over the park, alerting the six people near the swing set to the arrival of an ambulance.

“They’re too fucking late,” a bitter voice spat. “He’s already gone.”