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The Bucket List

Chapter Text

-1-

Eight months before

 

The music was loud enough to fade any thought away.

He couldn't hear anything else besides some broken lyrics distorted by the bass of the stereo.

It was the party of the century. Or that's what his classmates were going to say for the next two months. Some of them would be too drunk to remember a thing and others would rather to forget what happened that night.

He wouldn’t be able to erase that memory.

Dahye grabbed him from the collar of his shirt before he could say a thing. He wasn't drunk yet; he had had just one cup of beer when they arrived and some sips of random drinks of his friends.

Where was that tequila table?

"What?" He asked without paying much attention, instead he was scanning the place trying to find something similar to alcohol.

"I'm leaving." Dahye answered making Jeongguk stared at his sister.

She was taller than most girls but he was still a few inches bigger. They shared the same hair color, black and shiny like liquid tar. Her face resembled to a doll with her delicate features and big brown eyes. Yet he was sure she could kick his ass any day.

Dahye was often the center of attention in those events, her lips always perfectly red and rosy cheeks, her smooth porcelain skin. All the eyes ended in her somehow. She liked to keep a feminine and clean style, her wardrobe was full of skirts and dresses and flower patterns. She loved flowers.

That night wasn’t different; she was wearing a tight dark denim skirt with buttons at the front and a flowered blouse, pink with white daisies. Her heels were replaced for high boots and black socks. She was carrying her coat in one hand, outside was undoubtedly cold.

"Already? It's not even... What time is it?" Damn he had lost track of time.

"Not that late. I'm just tired, like really tired." Dahye emphasized how tired she was because she knew what her brother was going to say next.

"But this party is to celebrate the last exam of the semester. You, more than anyone I know should be celebrating." Jeongguk balanced her arms in the same way they did when they were children.

"It’s because of that that I'm tired." There was no point on discussing with her, if she was tired, she was tired. End of the argument.  She did seem tired. After excelling in her grades like she did he would be tired too.

Of course, she was a Jeon. Jeon's excelled in everything they did.

"Stay a little longer, sis. Have some shots maybe." Someone in the dance floor scream something incoherent, both siblings shared a twin confused and disgusted expression.

"I don't think so." His sister stressed.

"I'll take you. I'm fine." He lifted his feet to form a perfect four with his body, clear evidence of his soberness.

Dahye laughed at him. "I can see. Don’t worry, I'll take a cab, I already called one. Besides, you're having fun with your friends. I don’t want to ruin it. You did well too, Golden Boy."

Well, it was true. He had the best grades among his classmates and it was just his first year in college. Most, if not all of his teachers, agreed he was a brilliant student and a promising figure to keep an eye on.

“I’ll accompany you outside at least.” Dahye knew she couldn’t argue with her brother, he was going to follow her anyways.

“Fine.” She agreed.

The contrast between the warm and loud interior of the house and the cold and silent exterior shot him instantly. He could see his breath as the hot air came out of his body. He helped his sister to wrap into her coat but he had left his sweater inside, probably under a pile of other coats. Neither of them knew who was the owner of the house, a friend of a friend or something like that. Their parents wouldn’t have liked it.

There were a few people outside, next to the parked cars, some of them smoking and others waiting for the cold engines to warm up before going to the road. Jeongguk recognized a few of his classmates and his sister’s friends who waved at their direction. Dahye flashed a dashing smile and Jeongguk just nodded when they passed next to them.

They didn’t have to wait long until the cab arrived. It was a cab, a normal cab, yellow, black stripes, the green sign that indicated it was free turned off. He opened the door for her. Thick snow was covering the path from the house to the street where the taxi stopped.

"Call me when you get to your dormitory, alright?" Jeongguk was uneasy about the idea of his sister taking a cab in the middle of the night, but was better than a drive with one of her drunk friends.

"I will. Love you, grumpy bunny." A few girls were passing and laughed of the nickname she gave him when they were still children.

"Noona!" She pinched the back of his neck hard. It was her signature demonstration of «love». "Ouch! Stop! I love you too."

"Good boy." She kissed his cheek leaving some red lipstick impregnated on his skin.

He rubbed his thumb again the skin trying to get rid of the mark but those things seem to be made of the same thing than blackboard pens. Then he closed the door and waited until the car turned left getting lost in its path.

Jeongguk found his way to the shot's table and quickly went back to the dance floor where his friends were. He had a big group of friends back then, mostly freshmen just like him and some superiors who just wanted to be seen with Jeon Jeongguk. He was quite a celebrity on campus.

He had it all. The name, the face, the brain, the body...

Nothing could ruin his life in that moment. He had excellent grades, a loving and caring family, a healthy body, good friends and no need to be worried monetarily. Life was just great in every way.

Little he knew.

One hour later, his phone rang but he didn't hear it, instead he felt the vibration coming from the pocket of his denim shirt, the one closest to his heart.

Dahye's name shone brightly on the screen.

He excused himself again and escaped to the kitchen next to the corridor. There were a few people making out or playing beer pong, still loud but at least he was able to hear something. He grabbed the phone with his shoulder as he was looking for another beer in the fridge.

"Ya, you know my favorite song was playing..." His sister was a professional killjoy when it came about Jeongguk’s life and that didn’t seem to be the exception. Typical Dahye calling in the middle of the party’s peak.

Mr... Jeon Jeongguk?” A strange voice came through the speaker. One he didn’t recognize, it wasn’t his sister’s roommate or one of her friends. He immediately closed the fridge’s door and grabbed the phone back with his right hand. The woman in the line continued. “I'm calling from the hospital. Can you hear me clearly? This is important. There has been an accident...

There has been an accident.

There has been an accident.

There has been an accident.

He didn't exactly hear something after that, but those words were tattooed on his brain.

His body felt cold and heavy. In a moment his phone was in the floor and so was he in the next second. His knees failed and his entire body collapsed on the floor. All the people from the room turned back to stare at him. He was shaking while the woman was still speaking in the other line.

Words just didn’t make sense at all.

Everything was blurred.

He saw the snow falling outside the window when the first tear fell through his cheek.

It was winter and flowers died during winter.

-2-

Today

“Let me see if I understood. You’re 'suggesting' me to take a different course because…?” He did the quotation marks with his hands even though that gesture could be considered disrespectful while talking with a professor, but it was necessary. The whole situation already felt surreal.

“As I said, Jeongguk, your job last semester was impeccable. In fact, yours was the highest score in this class.” She started to explain.

Professor Nam, his teacher of Contemporary Arranging and Composition. She was in her thirties, maybe thirty four. Brown dark hair, skinny and tall like a crane. She always wore cat eyes glasses and tied her hair in a perfect bun which made her look a little more intimidating. Jeongguk respected her a lot; in fact he considered her one of the best teachers in campus.

But that day, it was ridiculous.

“You’re still lacking in execution.” She continued. “How can I say this in a soft way?” She rubbed her chin looking for the right words. Jeongguk knew exactly what she meant to say but still she was almost making fun of him on his face.

He was astonished.

“Basically you’re telling me I passed this class because I’m good studying, not because I’m talented enough, is that so?” He raised both eyebrows to complete the effect of his expression.

His professor kept a long and awkward silence. There weren’t nice words to say that.

“Look, Jeongguk, you are a brilliant student who I estimate a lot and I expect nothing but great things from. I was the one who wrote the recommendation letter to allow you take advanced classes and I don’t do that with everyone.”

That was truth. When Jeongguk was still a freshman she had suggested to the dean to skip three courses right into the advanced classes. He still had to take a few basic subjects but at least he didn’t feel stuck in «Composition for Dummies».

“Your latest work doesn’t have feeling. The song itself was wonderful but the way you played it... It wasn't appealing, just mechanic and monotonous, if I had to take into consideration aspects like those you would have failed, that’s for sure.”

If Jeongguk raised his eyebrows even more, they’d probably popped out of his face.

“I already cancelled most of the subscriptions you did into advanced courses. Instead I prepared a personalized schedule for you for this semester. Credits are the same but these are more suiting considering your needs at this precise moment.”

She handed him a paper he didn’t read right away. Still he glanced at a few titles «Creative Writing» and a class called «Sounds of the Nature». He didn’t even know that was a class. Who would take that kind of trash? Jeongguk had to bite his tongue before exploding into laughter. His teacher, however, was still serious as an owl.

“I’d like you to come back next year. Renovated mind, that’s what you need.”

Maybe she was right and Jeongguk was pressuring himself more than he should. It would be good, taking some classes that weren’t as mental tiring as he was used to.

“After… that, you didn’t take some time off. I think you need it.”

She had to say that.

Jeongguk was considering it, for a second he considered it. But then she had to bring that. His teacher just pitied on him like everyone else in the music department. He probably got the best grades because of that. Not because of his work.

“Is it alright then?” She asked and Jeongguk smiled widely.

“Of course, it’s okay. This is fine, it’s fine.” His voice turned into a high pitched sound. His teacher returned the smile back.

Indeed, it wasn’t fine.

-3-

Maybe it was illegal and he’d go to jail.

Scratch that, it was for sure illegal.

Anything would be better than spending the semester attending to a class called «Sounds of the Nature».

Yeah, it seemed like a better option.

The mailbox didn’t have any fault but every time he returned to the dormitories that stupid thing smiled and kept staring like if it was a character ripped out of Blue's Clues or something like that. No one decorate their mailboxes since 1950, thank you very much. The object in matter had a painted face, black eyes and a red smile; the phrase «Have the nicest day of your life» written in a beautiful cursive in one of its sides, green leaves and little yellow and red flowers all over the envelope entrance.

There wasn’t a soul in the streets to be seen. Perfect for a crime scene.

He took an old wooden stick from a trash can in the continuous alley and hit the mailbox until its happy face was erased it.

Damn, it felt good.

Well, it had felt good the first time and the second, the third one wasn’t different.

Yes, Jeongguk had hit the mailbox three times in the last month.

Yes, it was the only thing it made him felt better after a bad day.

Yes, he expected the blame for that soon or later but he definitely didn’t expect…

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” The voice came out of nowhere in the form of a flying kick.

Well, it came from the end of the street. The boy was carrying a few shopping bags but dropped them on the floor when he spotted Jeongguk.

Jeongguk moved just in time but he for sure had never been almost kicked like that.

“Did you just try to kick me like we were in fucking Karate Kid or something?”

The boy was holding a pose in the floor, heavy breathing for all the running he had to do. He suddenly turned back scaring Jeongguk.

“Do you… do you…?” He stood up losing all the dramatism from before. “Wait a minute.” He held his finger up while trying to catch his breath.

Jeongguk waited and didn’t even drop the wooden stick.

The boy had dark brown eyes and tanned skin. He was one or two centimeters taller than Jeongguk but his thin complexion made him look larger. He was wearing a red cap that covered his blonde hair completely showing his forehead and expressive eyebrows along with a pair of light blue jeans bent at the ankles and a white shirt with holes. And, were those black sandals and white socks?

“Okay, now… Wait. I think I might have twisted my ankle when I stepped here.” He shook his head before referring to Jeongguk again. “You… you…

“Me.” Jeongguk answered pointing at himself.

“This is the third fucking time you beat the shit out of my mailbox. May I ask what the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Asks the one who almost kicked me in the middle of the street trying to reenact a scene from a Jackie Chan movie.”

“Don’t change the subject. Do you know how many times I had to re-build that thing? Every time trying to paint with the same enthusiasm as the first time just to found it completely destroyed when I came back from the store?”

“Two. Now it would be three.” Jeongguk managed to keep a straight face while saying that.

“Is this some kind of hidden camera? Because you must be kidding me right now.” The boy started laughing; it was a broken laugh almost insane.

He just stared.

“Fight me.” The other boy said while he was rolling his sleeves obviating the fact that he was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt.

“What?” Jeongguk asked in disbelief dropping the wooden stick.

“I’m going to defend the honor of my mailbox. Fight me.” He sounded dead serious, but his angry face was laughable more than intimidating.

“I won’t fight someone who’s wearing sandals and socks.” Jeongguk stayed immutable. He could clearly beat the other boy but he wasn’t going to fight someone in the middle of the street… that day.

“I’m pretty sure that’s racist in some country.” The boy was preparing a fighting pose when Jeongguk’s phone rang.

Coconut head, are you busy after noon?” It was Hyejin’s voice, his sister’s roommate.

“I am. Although, I’m free now.” He totally ignored the other boy’s astonished expression.

“No, you’re not. Aren’t you going to fix this mess?” The boy asked while trying to reach his phone. Jeongguk held his finger against his forehead, easily immobilizing him.

Who’s that? Is your boyfrieeeeeend?” Oh, Hyejin wouldn’t stop teasing him about that.

“Nah, is just someone who watched too many action movies. Anyways, are you free now?”

I have a few classes left. I’m currently at class now but God I needed a shot of caffeine. Do you think you can drop by the dorm tomorrow?

“Yeah, yeah sure.” The other boy stopped fighting at that point. He just seemed exhausted. Jeongguk almost pitied him. “I’ll call you later, okay?”

Yeah, say hi to your boyfriend.

“He’s not my…” She hung up before he could say something else.

Jeongguk turned his sight to the other boy who sat next to the pieces of the mailbox like a toddler, crossed legs and pouting.

“I can’t even say I’m sorry because it would be a lie. Here.” He extended twenty cash to him.

“Are you serious right now? This is the best you can say? I don’t want your money.” He pushed the bill.

“Just take it.” The other boy didn’t look at him this time. “By the way, one of your bags is spilling.”

The brown paper bag in the floor was all soaked in something that looked like broken eggs.

The boy’s left eye started twitching. He didn’t stand up but Jeongguk took that as his exit sign.

When he walked two steps he felt the impact on his polo shirt. Like a bullet wound, a yellow bullet wound on his blue polo shirt. And then another. He turned back just to receive another egg on his chest.

“Stop! Are you crazy?! This was a clean shirt.” Jeongguk uselessly tried to clean his ruined shirt.

“And this was a cute mailbox but I guess is not anymore. Like your shirt.”

Jeongguk grabbed something from one of the bags; it felt round on the palm of his hand, a tomato. Perfect. He threw it right on the other boy’s white shirt leaving a red stain right in the stomach.

At that moment, the other boy was seeing as red as the tomato. He stood up and grabbed one of the bags that contained vegetables looking for more weapons to hit him. Jeongguk couldn’t reach something else to throw in the short time; the other boy was already going towards his direction with a leek stalk.

“Ouch! That hurts! Stop it!” Jeongguk cried while trying to protect his exposed body but the other boy kept taking out more and more stalks and hitting him repeatedly. “Who buys that quantity of leek anyways?!”

“They are delicious!” The boy said without stopping the violence. “But guess what? I won’t taste any of them because of you!”

“And whose fault is that?” Jeongguk wasn't in the position of asking something like that buy he did anyways.

“Yours! Only yours!” He torn apart the last stalk with a furious expression.

“What is going on in here?” An old lady came from the furniture store across the street. Her horrified expression made the fight stop. “Do you think this is okay? You ungrateful children playing with food like that. Look at this mess! You should be really ashamed.”

“Miss Ji, I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention to…”

The woman was short and had grey-white hair but still Jeongguk felt like he should head down in front of her because the fight was childish and very stupid from anyone’s point of view.

“But you did it anyways. I don’t think this is the kind of behavior that should be expected by a young man like you.”

Uh. That was a low one.

“It’s not. I’m sorry. I’ll clean it all.”

“That’s what I expect. What is so funny?” She shifted her sight to Jeongguk. He didn’t realize he was smirking until the old lady pointed out. “Do you think this is a situation to laugh about?”

“It’s not, ma’am. I’m sorry too.” He bowed his head again just to contain his suicidal wish to laugh.

They cleaned the mess they made under the hawk eyes of the old lady. Silence reigned during fifteen minutes; Jeongguk felt the burning stare on his back coming from the boy a few times but they managed to finish the task without killing each other.

He didn’t want to admit it at first.

But it was the first time he had wanted to burst into laughter in the last eight months.

-4-

When Jeongguk arrived at his dorm the first thing he did –well, the second after taking a shower- was sitting in front of the keyboard. Pencil on his lips and a clean pentagram drawn in a notebook.

The clock ticking in the wall watched him as the hours gone by. At first the notes came like usual, he wrote them fast as he thought of the melody in his head. The song was finished in record time, but as a soon as he touched one of the keys he went blank.

He placed his hands in front of the black and white keys. The basic instinct told him he was able to play the instrument without hesitation, his whole life dedicated to music told him that there was no way he could forget a single day about it and still, his hands started to shake and he couldn’t feel the rhythm anymore.

The psychologist had said it was something related to a trauma. A trauma associated with the fact that Dahye had taught him how to play the piano when she was seven and he was four. Even if his sister didn’t really chase the composer career as he did, she was still very important in the development of Jeongguk as a musician. His primary memories about music were strongly bounded to her person as one.

He was four years old; he didn’t even know how talk properly when he climbed to the black grand piano in the living room next to Dahye. His sister was an excellent pianist, she had always been but Jeongguk was something else, he was a prodigy.

He was raised with the idea of being a music prodigy and all the weight that meant. Since a very young age he knew that music would be one of the most important things on his life. That day he fell in love with the sound of the clashing keys that played a simple melody, he knew he had to master it.

Jeongguk couldn’t spend as much time as other kids playing sports or throwing rocks to the lake instead, he spent hours sitting with his music teacher. He didn’t participate in many contests, although his teacher almost begged him on her knees. That wasn’t the reason he wanted to play music.

Even if he managed to perform a perfect symphony without mistaking even once, he wasn’t satisfied with what classical music had to offer him. That’s how he moved to composition, he rediscovered all the aspects of the music he thought forgotten.

He found a new target, something else he could excel on; the idea was frightening and exciting at the same time. The transition was slow but powerful. When he reached college his teacher had taught him everything he needed to know to pass to the next step.

But since the day of the accident, Jeongguk had slowly lost the ability of 'listening' to music. He still could write and play but there was a part of him that couldn’t feel it. No matter how hard he tried and how many hours he spent trying to recover his «lost gift» he couldn’t achieve playing more than a few notes before losing the beat.

Now he was unable of making music again.

-5-

“Thanks for your help today, Tae.” Hoseok said while taking off his green apron. “I owe you one; next time you come I’ll give you a coffee and a muffin for free.”

“There’s no need. You don’t know when you’re going to have another audition I’m glad I’m useful.” He took the apron from the other boy and started to tie it around his waist.

“I didn’t think I would make it to the second round that’s why I didn’t ask permission in advance but when they called me yesterday I almost flipped my shit, you know?.”

“I know! And I’m so happy for you!” He hugged his friend tightly with a smile on his face.

Hoseok was one of his best friends in town. He was a talented dancer majoring in the literature department. When Taehyung was a freshman, Hoseok helped him with the locations and schedules and since then they had been friends.

He worked in the coffee shop in front of the main dormitory on the campus and had asked Taehyung if he could cover him while he went to an audition for a dancing contest. Of course the boy had said yes without double thinking.

It wasn’t the first time Taehyung worked as barista in a coffee shop; he had done it here and there before. It wasn’t the worst job he had so he felt comfortable around coffee machines and client’s smiles.

The coffee shop was a well-known place among the student body. Most of them technically lived there where their craving for caffeine could be satisfied. During winter it was crowded from morning until the closing hours but early fall days like those didn’t attract as many people as the warmth of the shelter for the icy breeze, they’ll start appearing with the time. Although, there still were a few air conditioner seekers ready to avoid the sticky heat of the outgoing summer.

It was a tranquil afternoon. A few occasional customers came looking for their daily dose of iced latte or lemonade however was the case, Taehyung was having an excellent day chatting with clients and other baristas.

Until…

“Oh no. It’s Luci.” One of the workers called Jie Qiong said. She was wearing the biggest hoops Taehyung had ever seen but still could move her head with dramatism.

“What he’s doing here? I thought he didn’t arrive until pass five.” Junhong asked.

“I think is due to the change of courses.”

“Who’s Luci?” Taehyung asked without taking the eyes of the coffee machine while he was preparing a chai latte.

“Oh, no one, just our scariest client. He comes thrice for week and orders an Americano without sugar sits on the table and never speaks to anyone, just works on his computer.”

“Why is he bad?”

“He’s not bad he’s just… cold. I heard that one of the girls from the previous shift brought his coffee kind of cold and he threw it to the wall.”

“I heard he rejected someone in that same spot. And it was brutal.” One of the waitresses said while passing by.

“There are several stories related to him. He got the nickname 'Luci' from Lucifer because he’s scary.”

“I think he’s hot. If he wasn’t that mysterious and intimidating I would attempt to flirt with him and probably fail terribly. But still…” Jie Qiong said while curling her pink hair around her finger.

“He can’t be that bad.”

Taehyung lifted his gaze to meet with the infamous client.

The boy sitting in the table was undoubtedly attractive. He was wearing a black beanie along with a basic white tee, jeans and camel brown Timberlands; headphones on his ears and a few dark brown locks escaping from his hat.

Well, attractive if you’re into rude mailbox killers.

Surprise, surprise, Luci was no other but the psycho who broke his beloved mailbox just one day before. Maybe he was Lucifer. What a coincidence and what a wonderful chance of getting revenge.

“I’ll take his order.” He said with a Grinch smile growing on his face.

His coworkers seemed absolutely perplexed but amused by the fact that Taehyung was brave enough to take the risk; half of them were gathering around the cash register staring every move he made.

Taehyung walked towards his direction, the boy was sitting alone in one of the tables far from the windows, his computer was occupying the biggest space of the table and he seemed to be too mesmerized by whatever he was doing to notice that Taehyung was his waiter.

“Good evening sir, welcome to…”

“Large iced Americano, no sugar.” The boy cut him before he could finish the speech he had prepared for the occasion when they met again.

Taehyung had to contain himself from throwing a glass of lemonade to his face but instead, he smiled and went back to the counter where the rest of the employees were watching like he was walking through the doors of hell.

Taehyung didn't say a thing while preparing the large cup of Americano, but his devious smile indicated he had plotted something.

“He said no sugar…” Junhong indicated.

“Yeah, I know.”

He left the cup next to the other boy's left hand; he didn't even notice Taehyung's presence or he did an amazing job ignoring it. Whatever was the case, he didn’t take the look off the computer.

Taehyung moved a few meters away. The boy was pressing the keys of his computer without even blinking. Behind him his temporary coworkers were so curious about the situation that they didn't want to miss a single second of it.

Finally, the brown-haired boy held the cup and moved it closer to his lips to take a sip of the dark brown liquid. His face turned into a meme like expression of disgust and Taehyung captured the exact moment with a click of his phone.

“What the hell…” The boy stood up and then noticed the mailbox drawn on one of the sides of the cup.

Taehyung did a good job with that little piece of art but he had to admit that his expression was even more priceless than any of his drawings. The eyes of the boy scanned the coffee shop looking for someone to blame and met with Taehyung’s while he was smiling widely.

“You…” He said while almost throwing fire from his nostrils.

“Me.” Taehyung answered in the same way he had done before, with an innocent tone. “What’s wrong? I thought you said 'no sugar'.”

“In normal people’s world that doesn’t mean salt instead.”

He angrily walked to the cash register where the other workers were without even spending one more second on Taehyung who followed him right away.

“Can I speak with the manager?” Jie Qiong and Junhong exchanged a glance of fear.

“We can call him but I don’t think my cousin would mind.” Taehyung answered with confidence.

“You tried to poison me.” The boy accused him.

“You killed my mailbox.” Taehyung wasn’t going to forget that little fact so easily.

“I’ll just bring you a new cup. You don’t have to… get uh- violent.” The pink haired girl almost run to the coffee machine and Junhong followed her.

“What’s your problem?” Taehyung asked waiting for an answer. “Yesterday you destroyed my mailbox, refused to give me an apology and then you threw a tomato to me…”

“Because you threw eggs at me! Then you attacked me repeatedly with a maze of leak. And let’s not forget you tried to kick me like if you were in a Kung Fu film.”

“Why do you even try to make the problem about me? Destroying private property is a crime I could go to the police and tell them what you did.”

“Then go ahead and do it! I don’t care.”

“This is not about… Look, I have bad days too I would understand you have a reason to kill an innocent unanimated object I’m only asking for an apology. That’s it.”

“And I already said I’m not sorry for throwing that thing apart.”

“Stewart wasn’t just a thing!” Taehyung cried.

“It had a name? You got to be kidding me.”

“Just apologize and I would avoid your face for the rest of my life, I swear. If you don’t do it, I won’t stop until you do.”

The boy seemed to consider it but Jie Qiong interrupted bringing his coffee before he could make his mind. He collected his computer from the table and walked out the place without saying a thing.

“This guy I swear…”

“Taehyung I didn’t know the manager was your cousin.” Junhong went to pick the salty coffee from the empty table.

“Of course he’s not. But I don’t even work here anyways.”

-6-

“I’m here. Open the door.” Jeongguk knocked twice before Hyejin opened it.

Room 405, the walls remained the same than last time.

A nostalgic sensation exploded inside of him. Usually the one who opened the door was Dahye, toothbrush on her mouth and her hair tied in a messy bun. He had been there hundreds of times. His sister used to live in the mixed dormitories next to campus; he lived a few blocks down the street where the single rooms were, Jeongguk didn’t want a roommate.

His sister didn’t want it either at first but she got used to share the place with Hyejin, although they were the complete opposite one to the other, they shared one thing. Hyejin had attitude, and that’s why his sister got to like her, because she said things without hesitation and knew exactly when Dahye needed to being dragged back to Earth when her ego was reaching the moon.

Hyejin hadn’t changed anything since his sister passed away, her side was still unoccupied. The lavender wallpaper and the grey carpet were still all over the room. Although, all of her things were gone, packed in plastic back at home, there was still something of Dahye living there.

Maybe it were the memories. Jeongguk could still smell her perfume, roses and something sweet enough to make your nose itch. He could see her after a night of studying texting him asking for an emergency cup of coffee from the coffee shop across the street. He could still felt her presence all over the place.

“How you’re doing my dear child?” Ah, there was Hyejin. She moved so Jeongguk could step in.

Although she was the queen of eyeliner, Hyejin could manage to look flawless without any make up on. Her hazel hair was tied in a small ponytail and she was wearing her oversized black t-shirt from the economics department with her favorite pair of bear slippers and cloud printed pajama shorts.

“Besides the fact that I’m obligated to take several filling courses instead the ones I’m actually aimed, pretty good I must say. Oh, and some crazy dude spoiled my coffee with salt two hours ago so, yes, fine.”

“Well I got a new pimple on my chin and some stupid girl mixed her red t-shirt with my white ones. It seems I’m finally a girly girl.”

“Do you need a pity beer as much as I do?”

“You don’t have idea… I wish I could join you but I have to take attend at a conference tomorrow. No chance I can miss it.”

“Then what am I doing here? I thought numbing things with alcohol was our thing.”

“Yesterday… uh, I found some of her things on the closet. I just came back a few days ago so I didn’t want to… I thought you’d like to have them.”

“Oh. Sure, sure…” Both of them looked away. The air of the room was suddenly full of awkwardness.

“Let me get that box, is here.”

She brought a medium size box, a little taller than a shoe box. It was cover by a colorful air balloon paper and had been tagged as «Dahye’s stuff» probably by Hyejin. Jeongguk didn’t open the box right away; he knew there were probably just remains of his sister’s life in college. A few books, pens, maybe some letters from her long list of admirers, a lost pair of earrings she would never use again anyways.

“I thought you could have these. Take them home when you have a break”

“Yes about that… I’m not going back for the anytime soon… I can’t go back Hyejin.” He took a deep breath. “Last time I was in Busan I… went for the funeral and then again for the summer break but since then every time I try to ride the train back I just can't. I get nauseous.”

“Oh… Jeongguk I didn’t know… I’m sorry; if you want I can take it with me…”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll take it.”

“What does your mom think about it?”

“Well… she found out when I stayed a short period of time during the break. We aren’t speaking that much either.”

Hyejin squeezed his shoulder trying to comfort him. “I promise you I’ll take you for that pity beer during the weekend, okay?”

“You better.”

He smiled in return but the bitter feeling he had being avoiding since he decided not going back home came back in that exact moment.

-7-

The following week was as ordinary as usual. Jeongguk had still two weeks before the classes began again. During those days he would go to the gym, listen to new music and avoid calling his mother. Basically what he did always minus the classes.

But after a few days of quietness, a patron began.

A very odd and displeasing patron of conduct.

The day it began, Monday, Jeongguk was coming back from the coffee shop with an iced Americano on his hand and a few music sheets in the other. After the incident of the salty coffee he didn't see the crazy mailbox enthusiast again, apparently, he didn't work there after all.

Not that Jeongguk cared.

He just wanted his bitter coffee bitter and nothing else.

But that one day...

There was a park near the coffee shop so it wasn't strange seeing a few animals like squirrels or cats playing around; when he heard a sound coming from the bushes he didn't pay much attention to it.

Again the sound didn't cease so he thought it might had been a hurt bird, of course he should have realized earlier that elephant birds were extinguished and there was no other bird on Earth that could possibly make such rampage.

When he got close to the moving bush it wasn't a bird or a cat what precisely jumped.

"Mailbox killer!" That madman shouted making the younger boy fell on his back hitting the grass.

"Dude! What the hell is...? Oh God you almost killed me." Jeongguk touched his chest to feel his beating heart trying to pass through his body. He slowly got on his knees before facing the slim figure in front of him.

"Apologize!" The boy demanded. The sun was over his head and Jeongguk couldn’t seem him properly.

"What? What?" Jeongguk almost choked as he was caught off guard. It was too much to process at once.

"I told you I wasn't going to stop until you admitted you did wrong." He seemed super chill about it even if he still had a few leaves from the bushes on the top of his head.

"Look, you hit me with a maze of leak and almost poisoned me with salty coffee. I think we're even." Jeongguk managed to stand up again while shaking some of the remaining grass from his pants.

He had the chance to seen properly again. Under the cap of the other day the boy had blonde hair and he had changed his cut t-shirt for a white shirt and a camouflage jacket. And thankfully he was wearing red sneakers instead of sandals and socks.

"You're not going to say sorry, are you?" The other boy was holding a pose crossing his arms over his chest. He didn’t seem to hesitate at any moment but Jeongguk wasn’t going to twist his arm either.

"Well, no." Jeongguk shrugged and adjusted his beanie.

"Then I won't stop until you do it. You haven't seen the last of me, by the end, you'll be wishing you wrote Justin Bieber's Sorry. Believe me."

“Is that supposed to be a threat or?” He wasn’t concerned at all. Who would be worried about a guy like that?

He didn’t answer. Instead, the boy walked on a different direction of the park trying not to look back, but got distracted and stopped to pet a dog. Then he realized Jeongguk was still staring and dedicated a challenging look and the sign with his fingers that proclaimed «I'm watching you».

"What a weirdo."

-8-

"Mailbox killer!"

"Not again."

That time Jeongguk was jogging in the park and wasn't going to stop to hear that guy's nonsense.

Obviously, he wasn't ready to run five kilometers and didn't wear the proper fitness outfit either so Jeongguk found it funny how easily he could make him angry due to that fact.

"You... You..."

"Someone's out of shape. I thought you said you wouldn't stop until I apologize." Jeongguk mocked while turning around without stopping his pace.

"Seriously... you're the... the worst human being on Earth."

"What? I don't think I understand what you're saying."

"Are you deaf or stupid?"

Jeongguk didn’t answer though he had a few ideas but, before he could say something else, he saw the other boy giving up for the day and falling in the grass like if he was defeated.

"See you tomorrow."

Oh but Jeongguk regretted his words. At every attempted, the madness increased and the mailbox boy became more creative.

-9-

When he less expected it he would find a note or the other boy would pop out of nowhere. He was even getting paranoid now, ready for the jump scares at any moment of the day.

On Wednesday he was sitting on the library looking for a biography, when he sat on an empty desk he found out that the marked page had a post-it with the words "Mailbox killer" written on it.

"For fuck's sake... Really?"

He scanned the library looking for the one to blame, but no one else but a study group was there.

"Ha ha, hilarious. Is this fucking Pretty Little Liars or some shit?" He threw the note without checking again.

-10-

“I’m taking you for dinner and you can’t refuse.” Seokjin said and technically kidnaped Jeongguk.

Seokjin was Dahye’s boyfriend during her freshman year. They formed the “Golden Couple” of the university. He was a wealthy medicine student who looked like a supermodel and behaved like a prince, or was the other way around? Whatever was the case, Jeongguk’s parents loved him fondly and were devastated when their broke up.

Dahye and him ended up in good terms and become friends with the time. As consequence, he named himself as Jeongguk’s older brother, whenever he was having problems Dahye would send him to talk with Seokjin. After her death both of them maintained the relationship, no matter how hateful Jeongguk behaved Seokjin would stay like a guardian dog watching over for him and scold him from time to time.

“You mother told me you didn’t call her since you came back from Busan for your summer courses.”

“Do you still talk with my mom?”

“Once every two weeks. We exchange notes about you and maybe a new recipe of banana bread, yeah.” Seokjin revised the menu like it was the first time they were in that restaurant. Which it wasn’t the case.

He was wearing one of his expensive pink cashmere sweaters along with a light blue shirt and grey pants. His brown hair was at its perfect length, like if he went to the hair salon every day. A big watch made of titanium decorated his left wrist and his body emanated a strong cologne with mint and cedar wood notes. His entire outfit made Jeongguk’s jeans and plain shirt look like a beggar’s clothes in comparison.

“All from page five and don’t forget the miso soup. Would you like something else, JK?”

“You got me with the sashimi. I think that’s it.” He returned his menu to the waiter and then focused on his conversation with Seokjin again.

“I didn’t feel like talking with her. I’ve been struggling with some of my courses, my professor wants me to avoid all advanced classes I wanted to take this semester.”

“Composition for Geniuses where they give you golden music sheets and your piano chair is hand-knit?” Jin mocked him knowing Jeongguk would roll his eyes.

Jeongguk rolled his eyes. “Yes, that one. I have to take some classes where I probably have to do yoga desk and recite some mantras.”

“Good, I always thought you could use some yoga, gives you flexibility what you’re lacking off.”

“I hate that word 'lack'. It makes me feel useless, incomplete.” He took a sip of his tea and tasted all the bitterness of his words.

“But being incomplete means you can always get better. On the contrary, I would be terrified of being complete one day and never get the chance of experimenting something new, of discovering that I could love something I never knew before.” Jin shook his head. “You Jeons and your crazy idea of being perfect in everything.”

The food arrived minutes later. It was almost impossible to chat with Jin with his mouth full of sushi rolls but he still talked about his classes, his holidays on the beach and the new car his father bought. Then he asked about his friends and personal life.

“I’ve been single for a while but what about you? Are you seeing anyone?”

Jeongguk shook his head. “Nah, just…I haven’t had time I guess.” He suddenly felt shy.

It’s not that Jeongguk didn’t have offers, he had plenty indeed. But since he managed to push away everyone else in his life besides the usual crew he hadn’t attended to any big party or date much after that. He gained a reputation as an Ice Prince who was unreachable for all the simple mortals.

“Why not? With that face… want me to set you up with someone of the medical department? I can’t assure you there will be a cute doctor as me but…”

“I’m fine, for real. Now more than ever I need time to focus on my songs and…”

“Shut up. I’ll find you a suitable candidate who’s…” He was cleaning his face with a napkin when his expression changed. “Mailbox killer? Who’s that? Is this a prank?”

“What? Let me see that.” Jeongguk reached the napkin just to find a mailbox drawn and the inscription Mailbox killer under it. “Oh c’mon.”

The younger boy turned around but didn’t get to see anyone in the restaurant, although when he took a look at the window he spotted the blonde boy waving and smiling before leaving. Jeongguk buried his head between his hands. Then he caught Seokjin’s gaze.

“What?”

“Nothing, nothing.” He whispered just before drinking water. “I guess I know why you don’t want me to set you with anyone.”

“No, oh God no. You too. Listen, he’s not anything, he’s just a crazy stalker that follows me around asking me to apologize for destroying his hideous mailbox.”

“Did you have an accident? Did you hit it with a car?”

“No, with a wooden stick. Don’t give me that look that thing was horrible and I was having an awful day.”

“I’m just going to say you picked the mailbox from the ugliest owner to destroy.” Then he winked.

“Shut up. I don’t even know his name.”

“Uh? Is that so? You exchange love drawings but don’t know names? I don’t think I can’t believe that.” He took a deep breathe. “Luckily for you… I do know his name.”

“I don’t care.” Jeongguk put another piece of sushi on his mouth.

“He is in the radio diffusion department… cute. I think he’s a sophomore, maybe older.”

“How in the world do you know him?”

“He has a radio program all Thursdays at midnight. Your sister used to listen to it to study, she said it helped her chilling and kind of hooked me into. You should listen to it tonight.”

“I don’t want to. I don’t want anything to do with that guy I told you. We’re not friends.”

“Okay, okay. But you heard it here first my friends.” Seokjin wasn’t going to erase his smile.

-11-

23:53

He wasn’t going to listen to that stupid radio show.

There was no way he was going to listen to that radio show.

Not in a million years.

Seokjin was just bothering him… Maybe he was joking.

He heard his voice several times so far, he didn’t have any particular trait for a radio voice.

There was no way…

And why he kept turning around in bed?

He was sleepless. Probably wasn’t going to sleep anyways.

Maybe just a few minutes… Music might help him to get some sleep.

No one had to know.

He tuned it the college’s radio channel on his phone and got his headphones from the nightstand. It would be just a couple minutes anyways.

Good night everyone, this is Kim Taehyung live from the college station and this is Jazz 101 the only show with a full hour of jazz music.

What. The. Hell.

That wasn’t his crazy stalker’s voice. By any chance.

This guy’s voice was like honey to his ears. Similar to a glass of brandy or a caramel candy which center you only discover in the end of every chew. Jeongguk’s eyes were closed buy he was caught by surprised and opened them widely.

A melody started playing in the background. Jazz music as he had said before, slow and chilling. Perfect for an evening in a lounge. Jeongguk could felt the notes on his hands, the sound of the drums and the other instruments all together. And then the voice came again.

I know you’re probably asking yourself, why you should listen to this radio show when you just could search for a playlist online or on Spotify. Let me answer that for you, because of me. You won’t get the chance of hearing this velvety voice anywhere else.

“Shut up, get back to the music.”

Shut up, get back to the music. Is that what you’re saying? I’m sorry.

Jeongguk blushed without knowing the reason.

This is the first song of the night in this mellow mix is called…

There was something on his voice… the way he pronounced every word like if he was whispering to your ear while touching your hair. That’s the way it felt. Like a caress on your head.

The music started playing again, louder this time. This wasn’t the kind of songs he was used to listen to or play. It was different, the beat, the melody, the feel… it was refreshing.

Jeongguk fell asleep in the middle of the last song even though he tried hard not to.

-12-

The day the classes began again, Jeongguk was sitting on one of the campus bench waiting for his first period of the day when the familiar phrase sounded on the back. How could that be the same voice that lulled him the night before? It couldn’t be true.

"Seriously, why are you so obsessed with me?" He was already tired and annoyed by his presence.

"Whoa, calm your shit, Regina George. I ain't obsessed with you in any way."

"Then why you keep stalking me?"

"Because it's not fair that you destroyed something mine and got away with it."

"So you're admitting that you were stalking me."

"Oh my God, you're fucking Regina George, aren't you?"

Jeongguk sighed. “Alright, sure. Listen I’d love to keep talking with you. For real, I would love to.” He didn’t even bother to hide the sarcasm. “But I have classes to attend and I hope I don’t get any surprise from someone.

“You know you think too high of yourself? Anyways, I have my own classes to go. I won’t spend any other second with you.”

“Fine.”

“Yeah, fine.”

-13-

His “Sounds of the Nature” class wasn’t as bad as he had imagined.

It was worse.

The professor, Miss Lee had a perpetual expression on her face, half awake, half sleepy. One of her eyes, the left one, was always just half opened while the other seemed to be about to pop out her face. Which was already very distracting, adding to the fact she only or solid color for the day, sometimes was red, others green, yellow, she would only wear clothes of that color, head to toes.

The first day she brought a two hours recording of different types of animals and she explained “All we have is because of nature, to do better music we must return to our roots. Find the rhythm and soul in the uncountable amount of opportunities we have outside.” It got worst.

Much worst.

Miss Lee started imitating sounds of the recording and then she left homework.

Find something in your daily environment that inspires you and record it.

Great. He would have to spend more time than he thought in that stupid assignment of an invented class.

Just wonderful.

God, he had wished not to tear down that mailbox just to do it now instead.

“What are you doing here?” A well-known voice said.

“Oh, kick me in the face.”

“Gladly.”

“Figuratively speaking.”

“Gladly.” He repeated.

Taehyung was sitting on the floor of the equipment storage untangling what it seem to be video types, black type hanging on his ear and a disgusted grin on his face. He was wearing a red beret with a black and white striped t-shirt and jeans and looking good by any angle. Not that Jeongguk was going to admit it.

“I’m not spending saliva with you. I’m just going to take the equipment I need and…”

“Oh no, you’re not touching my babies.” The older hugged the piece of black plastic tightly.

“Your… babies?”

Taehyung snorted. “This semester I’m in charge of all you see here.” He spread his arms. “So don’t you dare to touch anything. As far as I know you destroy everything you touch.”

“I need it for my… uh… one of my assignments.”

“Ah yeah? Which one?”

“Sounds of the nature class with Professor Lee…” He whispered in an inaudible tone.

“What? I couldn’t hear you.”

“Just lend me the damned equipment so I can leave!”

“How I know you’re going to take care of it?”

“Give me the paper and I’ll sign it, I know I have to do it anyways.” He took the payroll from the table and sign before Taehyung could move.

The blond boy plucked it from his hand.

"I don't like you... Jeon Jeongguk." He read while grimacing with disgust.

"That's nothing new. Give me the equipment, hurry." Jeongguk indicated.

Taehyung didn't move.

"If you give it to me now, I'll go and finish the task earlier and won’t come back again.”

Grumbling, Taehyung went to the storage closet and handed him a recorded machine labeled as number nine.

“There’s no need to say if it’s somehow damaged at the end of the day I’m hunting your head.”

“I wouldn’t expect less. Thanks, I guess.”

“Get out of here, mailbox killer.”

 

-14-

Two and a half hours. The exact time it took him to give up. How was he supposed to record something in the nature? The only things he heard were car horns and noise pollution.

The only thing worse than taking a class called Sounds of Nature would definitely fail a class called Sounds of Nature. That stupid assignment.

He would have to wait until the next day and record early in the morning but all his classmates were going to be there doing the exact same thing. There wasn’t another green area near the campus. Unless he wanted to spend more time and take some buses, thing he wasn’t willing to do for that project. He kicked a rock before heading back to his dorm.

Jeongguk turned on the lights and left the recording machine on his desk and then he threw himself on the bed. The whole situation frustrated him enough to lose any other sort of wish of doing something else. He didn’t know how many hours passed by until he spotted something on his nightstand.

Dahye’s box.

“This all your fault, you know? Or maybe it’s mine.”

He gulped.

What if.

What if I he hadn’t let her go alone?

What if he had driven her instead?

What if he had convinced her of staying until the snow would melt?

What if.

Two words that could destroy your life.

The number of endless possibilities kept floating on his head.

The night Dahye died, he couldn’t stop blaming himself. Even though he had gotten to accept the fact it wasn’t his fault those guilty thoughts came back to torment him, and they were worse than any movie ghost.

You should’ve done something.

That was a heavy weight on his back and that box felt just even heavier.

The box was staring at him, mocking.

How tragic that a life could be packed in a box.

It was going to be impossible doing something with that box there, he thought of send it back to Busan the next morning or maybe even disposed of it. All her important things were at home and if it wasn’t there then it wasn’t that important.

He opened the box, as he imagined, a few notebooks, pens, a necklace, and a sweater. Useless things for him but Dahye’s things in the end.

He was trying to reach for his phone to text his mother but accidentally dropped the box from the nightstand. With a long and tired sighed he started to collect the items but there was one in particular that caught his attention. It wasn’t extraordinarily sparkly as the other notebooks, it was rather simple.

A spiral notebook, a little longer than ten centimeters, cover by a pastel polka dot design that reminded him to a birthday tablecloth. Dahye’s name was written in a tiny yellow box. He took a quick look through the pages, several of them were written and others were blank. The first to pages were English notes but after that, lists.

«Bucket List»

«Movies I want to watch»

«Places I wanna go»

«25 things to do before turning 25»

«Favorite songs ever»

«Books I wanna read»

 

Jeongguk was calling Hyejin before he realized, maybe she knew what was all that about.

“Hi, can you speak?” He asked when the girl answered after two rings.

Yes, sure. What’s up?

“Hyejin, do you remember the box you gave me last week?” He waited until he heard the agreement sound in the other line. “Do you… there is one notebook here full of lists…”

Oh. Her lists. Yes, I remember. Your sister was a freak, she wrote lists for everything. Homework, assignments, exams. Clothes she wanted to buy, food. I don’t know, just everything. She borrowed a book for one of my classes, about leadership I think. It basically said that if you wrote something down there was a bigger chance of coming truth because it was settled in writing. Some bullshit I didn’t believe.

“I see.”

Was it something else? I can keep her stuff if you don’t feel comfortable and-.”

“No, it’s fine. It was a supermarket list.” He lied. “Thank you, see you later.”

Hey! Call me if you need anything. Yes?

“I will.” He hanged up.

He read the one called «Bucket List»

  1. Driver’s license: Well, it’s about damn time don’t you think? Call the car-school, do some research online and pass that test!

It was true, Dahye never got her driver’s license, she never needed it anyways.

     2. Learn something: I mean like tango or taekwondo. Something you’ve always wanted to try! Have fun!

Wasn’t she attending to tango lessons during spring break?

     3. Language: I don’t care if it’s French, German or Thai. Start learning a new language.

     4. Read more: Big books, short books, any book. Challenge yourself, try a new genre!

What a nerd.

     5. Get a tattoo: Small, not big deal… Or who knows?

Their parents wouldn’t like that one.

     6. Travel: Somewhere you’ve never been before/ Somewhere you feel like home

     7. Watch Star Wars: Honestly I’m just curious for this one.

     8. Do something extreme: Nothing like something slightly dangerous!

That didn’t sound like his sister at all. She was a chicken for extreme things unlike him.

     9. Plant a tree.

     10. Road trip.

The list continued but he couldn’t keep reading.

The truth hit him all suddenly.

All these things were things she didn’t do. She planned a life she wasn’t able to live. All her personal challenges, life experiences just there written in paper but uncomplete. That list wasn’t more that disposable trash.

She was never going to get a driver’s license.

She was never going to get a tattoo.

She was never going to watch Star Wars.

Small things but also…

She was never going to grow up with him.

She was never going to spend another Christmas day with their family.

She was never going to meet the love of her life.

She was going to remain the same.

Forever.

Tears were falling down his cheeks. The empty room felt smaller. The air wasn’t getting to his lungs, he felt dizzy.

Melancholy was such a dismissed feeling, it could hurt worse than physical pain.

-15-

Taehyung waited and waited until the closing hours. He told him he was going to return the recording machine that same day. He should’ve figured it out, he was lying.

He didn’t know why but he just should have stopped bothering him. It was quite obvious he wasn’t going to apologize with him. He could replace his mailbox with a regular one instead, to avoid future prowlers.

He could just give up and…

No.

It wasn’t his fault. His mailbox was probably the only enjoyable part of the place he was currently living in. Even if he had re-built it two times already a third time wouldn’t change the fact that he was doing a big effort to make things better, to build a colorful life to live.

Who cares if a rude boy like Jeon Jeongguk didn’t like it? One of how many?

Just a spoiled brat.

A spoiled brat who deserved to be…

A spoiled brat who was crying in the sidewalk.

He recognized the same blue blazer he was wearing earlier.

Oh shit.

He was crying or just sleeping while sobbing. Maybe he was sleeping...

He sobbed louder.

Oh shit.

Taehyung shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t care.

But Jeongguk seemed so small sitting there; he looked more like a child than an adult.

Oh shit.

Don’t do it.

Don’t do it.

Don’t-

“Are you… are you okay?” Taehyung’s voice was soft. He had never used that tone with him.

Jeongguk wiped his tears with his left sleeve. He rushed to stand up, apparently, he was the type who didn’t like to be caught while showing any kind of emotion.

“Yes… It’s… nothing. I’m fine.”

He didn’t look fine. It was probably the first time Jeon Jeongguk looked fragile in front of Taehyung’s eyes.

He sniffed a few times and tried to go away but then fell on his knees, unable to hide his tears anymore. No one on the streets made them company apart from the lights from the sleepless rooms upstairs. Taehyung got closer.

“Uh- I… I went to the store on my way here and buy… plumps? Do you want one?”

Jeongguk just sobbed again.

Taehyung scratched his head while checking the paper bag as if it was Doraemon’s pocket.

“Uhhh… these are for my neighbor… protein bars?” Jeongguk didn’t response.

He didn’t want to. He truly didn’t. He almost cried too.

“This is my… my only Snickers. You can have it.” He closed his eyes waiting for the rejection but instead he felt his chocolate disappearing.

Son of a…

“Thanks.”

Taehyung sat next to him when he tried to steal a bite of the chocolate bar he got easily blocked. He stared at Jeongguk who reluctantly gave him a small bite.

“Why were you crying anyways?” He chewed the sticky caramel and the crunchy peanuts.

“I… I felt frustrated…”

“By that project you have to do?” Taehyung lifted one eyebrow. It was ridiculous. Jeongguk nodded. “It can’t be that bad.”

“It’s just a small part of the problem but still.” He took a deep breath. “I’m… I’m sorry about your mailbox and... for being an idiot.” He mumbled.

Was he in a hidden camera again?

You’re gonna regret it, Kim Taehyung. You’re gonna regret it.

“I could help you…” He suddenly realized how close they were, almost like friends in an intimate space.

“What? You?” Jeongguk didn’t sound cocky like other times but surprised.

“Well, yes.” Taehyung avoid looking at him. “I once worked with Miss Lee, help her with a similar project… She’s quite uh- peculiar.”

“That would be the word.”

“You have to record things and It happens that I’m the one in charge of the equipment, isn’t that convenient?”

“You don’t even know what I have to do.”

“It can’t be worse than that time we went recording bees.” Taehyung’s expression made the younger boy giggled.

Giggled.

His heart skipped a beat.

How…

How…

How cute.

The Mailbox Killer was cute.

In what universe?

Oh shit.

Taehyung was starting to feel flustered and about to withdraw his offer but then…

“Okay. I guess I could use some help.” Jeongguk was being nice for a change.

Uh?

“Are you busy tomorrow?”