Jihyun is dead.
Jungkook is his replacement.
Unlike his hyungs, Jungkook doesn’t consider himself his own person, his own identity. Not really. Like, how could he? When you’re ‘born’ as just an attempt to fix the hole in someone’s heart, you’re bound to take the shape of whomever that hole belonged to. So yeah, he doesn’t really feel like he’s Jungkook. Well…not just Jungkook. And sometimes, when he talks to Minjun-hyung, he spills these insecurities, but he mostly keeps it to himself.
He honestly doesn’t feel like Jimin is the only one cursed with split identities, but he doesn’t think his hyungs would take him calling them a “curse” too nicely.
He’s Jihyun’s replacement. He knows this even if the others insist otherwise.
He can feel it sometimes. When he calls the others ‘hyungs’ by impulse, or when he gets flashes of a long forgotten memory of Jimin and Jihyun together.
However, he also knows that he’s not just Jihyun. He’s Jungkook too in one way or another.
But where does Jungkook begin and Jihyun stop? He’s not quite sure. The lines aren’t clear. He’s both but neither simultaneously.
In theory he knows who Jihyun is– who he was. Who he should be.
But who is Jungkook besides his replacement? Deep down he knows the answer, but he’s afraid of the ugly truth. For now it’s better to live plagued with uncertainties rather than wallowing in reality.
He thinks he’s probably having and identity crisis or something.
“Here’s your ice cream, sir.”
Jungkook blinks out of his reverie, handing the vendor the money and delicately taking the cone with big eyes– chocolate fudge with vanilla caramel swirl. Shiny bits of caramel and dark chunks of fudge among the chocolate and vanilla ice cream stares back at him. Reminds him of Milky Way. Ha. He blames Jin for that bad pun. But the treat looks tasty aside from the slight melting of the cream on the cone.
It’s Jihyun’s favorite, Jimin oh-so helpfully reminds him.
Jungkook rolls his eyes. Honestly, Jungkook doesn’t get why he keeps mentioning him. It’s a stupid, painful memory for all his hyungs and it’s irrelevant to him. Fuck off. If he hears Jimin makes a choked noise, he dutifully ignores it.
Go on, Jungkookie, he tries in an encouraging tone. Try some! I promise you’ll like it! Cross my heart!
God, he can practically see the eye-smile Jimin’s emanating even if it was just his voice.
Yeah try some! This will be the first time you’ve ever really had ice cream right? V pipes in.
Jungkook absent-mindedly hums, staring intensely at the treat. He knows what ice cream tastes like…in theory. He’s not stupid, he knows it’s sweet and cold and comes in different flavors…he’s just never tried it firsthand. No biggie. Only kids make a big deal out of ice cream. He refuses to be seen as one.
But god forbid that “Jungkookie” has never tasted real ice cream before. It’s dumb. Seriously, who knew his hyungs could be so bothersome over something as trivial as ice cream. There are much more important things to worry about. Like how to get Jimin better or watching the new episode of Game of Thrones (which he is currently missing).
But no, apparently it’s ice cream first, important shit later.
…Sweetie, you know we can hear what you’re thinking right?
Damn. He tries (and fails) to keep his face from flushing red.
You’re still new at this so it’s going to take some time to learn how to block us from some of your thoughts.
God, this is just embarrassing now. He stares adamantly at his slowly melting ice cream, hoping that he could somehow absorb the cold from it to cool his burning cheeks. He gets that RM isn’t trying to rub it in his face but it’s been what, three months now? And he still can’t guard his thoughts when he’s In Charge.
For fucks sake, we can still hear you.
Jungkook snaps his metaphorical mouth shut. He may not have been around for very long, but he knows very well that an irritated Suga is a really scary thing. Survival instincts kicking in, Jungkook glowers at the drops of ice cream that slides down his cone. He feels like he’s at a crossroads: eat the ice cream and please his hyungs or throw it out just to spite them. His contemplation is rudely interrupted by J-Hope.
If you’re just going to just stare at the ice cream and not eat it, mind if I have it?
Fuck no. Jungkook may or may not admit that he’s petty. J-Hope can get his own ice cream on his own time. Screw him. “No, it’s my ice cream. I paid for it.”
He hears a half-hearted huff from Jimin. Well, technically I paid for it…
Jungkook ignores him and in favor of taking a sizable bite-
-only to nearly spit half of it out from the cold fucking freezing his teeth off.
“Aish!” He sputters through a cold mouthful of sugar and cream. Jesus Christ it’s cold! He opens his mouth slightly in an attempt to dispel some of the cold, making strange huffing noises in the back of his throat in an effort to try and force warm air onto the very cold treat. He definitely hears someone laughing their ass off in his head. He tries to ignore them in favor of saving his teeth from falling out. After what felt like ages (which probably has been only a few seconds), his teeth finally, finally, begin to thaw out.
And his mouth explodes with a rainbow of flavors.
He tastes the vanilla, strong and sugary, spreading a pleasant flavor across his taste buds. The caramel plays with the sweetness by adding its own sticky, saltiness. Fucking edible liquid gold. Bits of chocolate fudge, tasting heavenly and dense, melt in his mouth in a highly satisfying way and mixes with the vanilla. The condensed taste of the fudge is embellished further by the rich chocolate ice cream encasing it. The chocolate cream simultaneously joins the vanilla, caramel, and fudge already assaulting his tongue. It’s a dance of two opposite sweetnesses in the best of ways. A song of chocolate and vanilla. Ha. Maybe he’s still not quite over missing Game of Thrones after all.
But he’s definitely not over the fact that ice cream tastes fucking amazing. Jungkook allows himself to let out a small, tiny moan in contentment, closing his eyes to further appreciate the taste. It tastes soooooo good. He quickly takes another (smaller) bite. He ignores the weird feeling of deja-vu washing over him. For those few moments, he feels like he’s in his own little world, a world filled with sweet things and content feelings and happiness.
So? How is it! I take it you like it?
It tastes good, right!
So distracted by the cocktail of tastes in his mouth, he answers V and Jimin’s excitement honestly without much thought.
“Hyung, I think I’m going to marry ice cream. I’m fucking in love.” He answers with eyes sparkling with a childlike innocence (well, as much innocence there can be with the word ‘fuck’). He feels like a kid in a candy shop though.
Huh, there’s that deja-vu again.
He disregards it in order to concentrate on taking another bite. It takes him god knows how long to finish his two-scoop cone, but he definitely thinks it takes quite a while, savoring every bite for at least 30 seconds before taking another. Everyone is quiet in his head and he takes a moment to appreciate this rare alone time. He takes in the scenery around him. There’s an arcade across the street from the ice cream stand situated at the edge of a park. Jungkook notices how two kids, a brother and sister by the looks of it, bicker over whose turn it is to play a cute-looking fishing game. An urge to get closer to the arcade suddenly hits him and he moves to cross the street.
Jungkook loves games after all (and kids but he’ll never admit that out loud). But that could have to do with his…ambiguous mental age. Fuck, he hates being called a kid but even he has to admit to himself that he can’t help but to give into super childish impulses at times. Like wanting to play on playgrounds or running around with other kids playing ball games.
Or like not looking both ways when crossing a street.
When Jungkook comes to, he’s standing in front of the arcade. Well, maybe ‘standing’ isn’t the best word. He thinks ‘leaning heavily against the outside wall of the arcade panting like he’s just run a fucking marathon’ is a better way to describe it. And of course, let’s not forget the deafening headache. He hears his heart beating in his ears and goes to feel it with his hand only to realize that there’s a slight tremor accompanying it.
He notices the kids from before staring at him. Flustered, he pants out a “what’re you looking at?” The previously deemed brother doesn’t seem to notice his snappish tone.
“You dodged a car, Mr.,” The boy says with an awed expression painted on his features.
Jungkook was surprised to say the least. If he himself dodged a car he would have definitely remembered it. It’s possible that one of his hyungs did it but if that was true then he wouldn’t have still been In Charge like he is now (when one of them takes charge from someone else it takes a while for the one pushed back to become In Charge again. RM speculates that there’s a certain recovery period needed or something like that). Honestly, to say he was flustered would’ve been an understatement.
With some effort, Jungkook tries to make sense of his muddled mind. His head feels like it wants to spit in two though. There’s a throbbing that gives him little to no ability to concentrate on anything. He decides to focus back on the boy in front of him; at this point he probably knows more about what’s going on than he himself does and it’s high time to investigate what the fuck is going on.
He licks his lips and eloquently clears his throat. He opens his mouth ready to get some answers and says, “no shit, Sherlock.”
He then proceeds to sprint in the opposite direction.
When he finally stops running, it’s less of a choice and more of an obligation; unless he wants to throw his lungs up that is. He must not have run very far though since it appears that he’s still parallel to the park from earlier.
That, or it’s one huge fucking park.
But it’s quieter here than it was before. He guesses he ran into one of the residential neighborhoods surrounding the park judging by the lack of stores. It was a quaint area, a surprising amount of trees and bushes both in the park and the neighborhood. The sidewalk was a bit cracked but instead of it feeling rundown, it felt homey. It was quite relaxing actually. Still, something felt amiss. Perhaps not with the environment he was in but…
The young maknae felt his hands starting to get calmly. He tries to wipe them off on his jeans. It’s stupid to get nervous about this; it’s what he wanted, right? A dry swallow follows anyhow. Cautiously, he parts his lips. “Hyungs?”
Silence has never sounded so deafening.
Oh what a double-edged sword it is. Something he always desired has turned into his worse, unspoken nightmare. Like a genie who grants the wish you want but always in some twisted way.
Oh god, he’s alone.
He looks down at himself– no, at Jimin. Silence means that it’s just his voice in his head right now. It means he’s alone with a body that’s not his. He feels Jimin’s heart speed up. He’s in a body that’s not his. It’s not his. He feels sick. He’s Jungkook. But Jungkook doesn’t have a body. Jungkook’s a weed. A weed that grew in place of a deceased flower. A weed that will never be as beautiful or loved as its predecessor. He doesn’t want to be a weed. But to live he must. What a life he lives.
Nothing but a curse to Jimin and a shadow of life.
God, please, please just kill me, he pleas; to the body he haunts or to the air he steals, he doesn’t know.
I am a virus that should be eradicated.
He imagines himself as one of those charismatic anime characters who turns their face to the sky and screams their innermost desires out. Screaming and letting the world know who- what he is with anger and strength and acceptance.
But he knows he’s not.
Instead, he crawls behind a bush that sits in front of an entrance to an alleyway, nose full of snot, eyes blurred, and chest aching.
Jungkook guesses an hour or two must have gone by judging by the elongated shadows when he finally calms down enough to breath normally. The young maknae’s not too sure though, he feels like he might have blacked out a bit from crying. At least his throat’s not raw (he passingly remembers that Jin told him that he and Suga trained Jimin’s body to cry silently, so he could cry without a sound in peace and safety). His head also feels much better.
Jungkook? Hey baby, can you hear me now?
Jungkook hums in acknowledgment before he can register what he’d just heard. When he does, he manages to choke on his own spit. J-Hope-hyung…?
Ah, so you can! It’s me, baby, don’t worry. Everyone else is okay too but it’s just me and you right now okay?
Swallowing past the lump in his throat, he lets out a small ‘mm-hmm.’
How are you feeling? Do you feel better now? We all love you very, very much Jungkook, J-Hope says softly, please don’t forget that. You’re not a weed.
The boy takes a moment and blinks slowly, his mind still reeling in relief. “How do you know that…?”
How do I know you’re not a weed or how do I know that you said that?
Both I guess, Jungkook thinks. He hears J-Hope ‘hmm’ accompanied by a small sigh.
Well…you’re still a bit new to all this, Kookie, but you’re smart –don’t doubt yourself on this– so I’m sure you’ve guessed that each of us has a distinct…purpose, I suppose, in being here. Something that Jimin needed but couldn’t possess himself.
Jungkook’s heart sinks a bit. “Yeah, I kinda got that.” A sad, bittersweet smile comes to his face. “After all, I’m Jihyun’s replacement, aren’t I?” It sounded more like a statement than a question. J-Hope sighs again.
I’m being as honest as I can right now with you, Jungkook. So yes, in a way, you are. But before you go moping about it again, know that it’s not in the way you think it is.
If Jungkook thought he could scoff and get away with it he would’ve, but considering they were literally sharing a body, he stayed silent.
Yes, you were born after Jihyun’s passing but you’re not his clone nor were you ever meant to be. I know Jimin’s memories of Jihyun overlap with your personality but that nowhere near defines you. You’re not a surrogate Jihyun, you’re a sibling to Jimin. A sibling free from the horrors and abuse of his childhood. If anything, you’re a blend of the best parts of us. With Suga’s snark, V’s innocence, RM’s brain, Jin’s care, and so on. Listen to me when I say that you’re not a weed growing in the shadow of the past. Weeds are unwanted and imitations of unique and beautiful flowers. And you’re anything but that. You’re Jungkook: the maknae to our ragtag family who swears every other sentence and has recently fallen in love with ice cream. The boy who cares so much for others that he’s willing to sacrifice himself for their happiness. I’m not telling you that’s who you are Jungkook –that’s something for you to discover– but I am saying that you are unique and special and beautiful and loved. Don’t forget that.
Goddammit, whose cutting those fucking onions.
Aww our Jungkookie is crying.
He’s sure his “stop teasing me” would have been more convincing if he wasn’t blubbering the words out. But quietly, in the deep recesses of his mind, he calls to his hyung, Thank you for loving me.
His chest aches but for all the right reasons.
Jungkook’s a bit (a lot) embarrassed to admit that it took him a good 10 minutes to stop crying from J-Hope’s pep talk. Not like anyone else will know except the two of them but still. Which brings him to another point that’s been freaking him the fuck o– ahem, mildly concerning him for a while.
“J-Hope-hyung, where are the other hyungs?”
Ah, well, so do you remember how I mentioned that each of us has a sort of purpose?
Well, I basically pull people out of bad situations. Not really physically or anything, although I guess you could technically say that I do, like with the car thing from earlier and all that.
“What…that was you?!” Smooth, Jungkook, smooth.
Yeah but that’s kinda just one example of many. I can force you or Suga or Jimin to take a step back in dire situations. Other’s, like Jin, can do it to but I’m kinda like a ‘kill switch’ I suppose…I can do it nearly instantaneously and can be completely In Charge without any real repercussions. Aside from the fact that I can’t really be In Charge for long. I can slingshot myself into being In Charge but once I give it up willingly or lose the stamina, the one formerly in charge is then slingshotted back with so much force that it sorta stuns them mentally. Hence why you had the really bad headache and couldn’t communicate with me. It wears off after a while. But with both me and you being catapulted with so much force back and forth, it also stuns the other hyungs for a bit too. Not as long as now, but I’m forcing them to stay stunned for now since I thought it was necessary! J-Hope tried to end brightly, a hint of nervousness evident in his tone.
“Ah. Okay,” he didn’t really know what to say to all that. Luckily, J-Hope stepped in again but Jungkook was caught off guard by what he said.
Please, for now, don’t ask me why I can do this.
He nods with a bit more hesitance than before again. The maknae then recalls something J-Hope said earlier about him…sharing memories with Jihyun or something? He carefully asks about it.
Right, that! So one other thing that I can do is that I can feel everyone’s experiences and feelings –while they're experiencing them at that moment that is– a bit better than the others. Do you remember earlier when you kept getting a bit of deja-vu, Kookie?
To be honest, Jungkook forgot about it until now. It wasn’t the first time it happened anyhow. But in a way Jungkook was a bit relived that someone else knew what was going through his head (would that be a pun then?).
You had deja-vu then because within Jimin’s memories he remembers Jihyun having a near identical response to ice cream– well, minus the swearing of course. Since these moments are unexpected the others are sometimes caught off guard…Yah! I feel you getting all depressed again so let me tell you now that these memories don’t dictate you, they’re just one ingredient in what makes you, you!
Jungkook grumbles a bit. Okay so maybe his relief was a bit premature.
I heard that! It’s true though, you’re our unique, cute little maknae~ kissy kissy~
He sticks his tongue out in disgust. “Eww okay, stop that, hyung.” He hears J-Hope make a strange popping noise which he assumes is his way of complying. “Could you wake the others up now? I kinda want to go home.” He definitely wasn’t going to admit that all the a) crying, b) revelations (he’ll put trying ice cream in this category he supposes. It was a spiritual revelation after all), and c) life-threatening situations, has tired him the fuck out.
Okie dokie! I’ll go ahead and start ‘waking’ them up. Just start walking back home.
It was at that moment that Jungkook realized that sitting curled up next to a bush for half the day does a number on your body. With all the grace of a newborn giraffe (except Jimin’s short so maybe he’s a miniature pony or something), he stands up, attempts to wipe his tear tracks away and pat his gray hair down a bit, and walks out from behind the bush.
He ends up tripping on a crack and face planting.
By the time he gets back to their apartment, he’s about to keen over from exhaustion. Not that it was a far walk back from the ice cream stand, but Jungkook ran like a bat out of hell and ended up much farther away than he originally thought. So basically it took for fucking ever to find his way back home. The one thing he can find solace in is that J-Hope did manage to ‘wake’ everyone up by the time he reached the front door. He thinks that his hyung has been quietly updating everyone on what happened since they don’t ask him any questions really. Plus V has just been giving out compliments about him left and right (not that he’s complaining, it’s just a bit weird. But it is V so maybe not).
As soon as he sits down on the worn couch though, he can barely keep his eyes open.
Sleep, he thinks he hears Jimin whisper, I got this.
Jungkook feels a gentle tug and he lets himself fall back without a fight.
It’s been a few weeks since the whole ‘Ice Cream Incident’ as he so dubs. In some ways, it solidified his existence as Jungkook and not as Jihyun but in other ways, nothing has changed at all. He tries to live his life as purely Jungkook now, as an independent entity from Jimin or Jihyun. He’d be the first to admit that while he isn’t necessarily ‘loyal’ to Jimin like his hyungs are, he does care for him deeply. The day after the Ice Cream Incident, him and Jimin (the other hyungs listened in but it was mostly just the two of them) had a heart-to-heart about Jungkook’s purpose. Jimin mostly reiterated what J-Hope had told him the day before but by the end, they agreed that Jungkook’s purpose was to just be, well…Jungkook. Not a caretaker like Jin nor a ‘friend’ like V.
Nope. Just Jungkook.
He’s fine with that he supposes (he wouldn’t know what else he could do anyway), but he still believes that Jimin needs to be cured of them. At the end of the day –no matter how much Jimin protests– Jungkook and the rest of his hyungs are a disease. While he can finally admit that it’s an amazingly loving disease that has created a family, it still is something that prevents Jimin from having a normal life. But he does understand that for the time being, they’re still needed to help Jimin heal and grow.
Man, he’s trying to act all fucking mature and shit but he’s scared. Yes, he knows that what he said is true. Yes, he believes it.
But the more he lives his life as Jungkook, the harder it will be to say goodbye.
Ha. What we do for the ones we love, am I right?
It’s at that bittersweet moment that Suga decides to yell an eloquent, “FUCK you all and your SHIT cooking skills! Thank FUCK I actually moderately like you fucks or you will all be eating SHIT and starving like the BASTARDS you are!”
Jungkook lets the moment break easily. Might as well enjoy living (or listening in this case) as Jungkook as much as he can.
HEY! I’m not that bad of a cook either! I would say I’m third place right after Jin! He hears J-Hope pouting.
Sighing for what feels like the hundredth time, Jin laments with a, how come all of our arguments always come back to cooking?
Shrug, I’m not complaining as long as I get a decent meal.
Gotta agree with V there.
If he was In Charge now, Jungkook would definitely be smirking.
That’s just because you’re lazy, Jimin-hyung.
Jimin gasps, not true!
I mean…isn’t it…?
Shut up, RM!
Yep, he will definitely enjoy this for a bit longer.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP I’M TRYING TO COOK.”
Ahh love is in the air.
And he’s never been happier.