Time is a tricky thing. Minutes blend into hours, blend into days and weeks and months.
Being stuck in a New York second feels like an eternity. Jimin doesn't cope well upon his return. The tears were the first to appear, then came the screaming; the pouring of anguished words that no one in his God-forsaken apartment complex could hear.
The doors are spread apart too far, the walls are thick. Perhaps that makes it somewhat better. Jimin can regret and regret, lock himself up and cry knowing that not one person will come looking for him to check if he’s okay. It gives him lonely privacy.
And even if there are hours spent like this, Jimin doesn't count any. His body and his grief-stricken brain don't allow him to do much of anything except curl himself underneath a duvet he can't find comfort in.
Jimin tucks away from the white and gray of the city. His chest feels as hollow as ever. Nothing, he thinks, can compare to the pain of returning. A dense pillow is hugged to his chest, a puddle of wet has formed under his cheek flat against the mattress. More than anything does he want to go back, does he want his family. His husband and his beautiful daughters along with their ugly dog.
The scent of the air is different here. There is nothing homely about it. Here is a place he once called home but now it feels alien, it feels deserted.
Without any energy to fuel him, it’s hard to get out of bed. When he does, the floor is cold on the soles of his feet. It stings at his skin and makes him shiver, feeling worse.
Jimin wanders to the restroom in a daze. Vaguely he registers that the skin on his face feels tight, that his chin itches. The pads of his fingers rub at them absently, the tips come back wet. The light switch stays off as he relieves himself. The second door that leads to the living room is cracked open.
There is the sound of something clattering in the next room. Jimin steps away from the toilet and nears the threshold to peak through the gap. Because he is numb in his sadness, not even surprise can sway him when he finds Hoseok lounging on his couch, munching on Fritos.
He sighs, exhausted. Shaking his head, he's about to close the door and return to his cocoon when Hoseok calls out,
"So, you're just going to ignore me?"
Jimin's eyes flicker to Hoseok's offended ones before he closes the door completely without an answer. He hears Hoseok squawk but ignores it. The covers welcome him when he climbs back into his mattress. Jimin's eyes only widen a smidgen at Hoseok already there.
"Get out," Jimin's voice croaks. It's raw from all the yelling and screaming and sobbing he'd done. "Don't want to see you."
Hoseok frowns at him from under the covers, eyebrows crinkled in concern. Jimin would believe the pity he sees in them if Hoseok wasn't the one who did this to him, who came in one day and messed with his life, with his head. Jimin didn't want this. He hadn't done anything wrong.
"You're not handling this very well," way to point out the obvious. "I didn't foresee this."
Jimin closes his eyes, wills down the anger threatening to swell up in his chest. There is nothing more he'd love at this moment than to punch Hoseok square in the nose. Even if he was a being from a higher power, Jimin would hold no regrets.
"Has anyone ever beat you up before?" Jimin whispers.
Hoseok scrambles away on his oversized bed.
"Uh, yes, actually," Hoseok answers.
The answer somewhat please him. "Good," Jimin says, sitting up. "Hope it hurt."
It takes a lot of his will power to stay upright. Just being in his skin is unbearable. The silence in the room is heavy. Hoseok takes the risk and scoots a tiny bit closer to Jimin. Perhaps he does it to comfort, though Jimin is convinced nothing could comfort him right now.
"I came to see how you were doing." Hoseok mumbles. Though his body language shows timidness, his all-knowing eyes bore into the side of Jimin's face. "But all you've been doing is moping around for days. I expected more."
"Don't feel like doing anything," Jimin responds, doesn't know why he's talking to someone he despises.
Hoseok makes a disapproving noise, says, "You can't just not do anything. You still have work and your friends--,"
Jimin grumbles. "I don't expect you to understand how I fucking feel."
"I do though. I know exactly how you feel," Hoseok throws the covers from his body and stands. A look of frustration appears on his face. "and I want to help you but I can't give you all of the answers, Jimin."
Jimin all but growls. "There are no answers!" before he too stands. It feels as though they're having a face-off, the mattress the only thing keeping them separated. His lungs heave, his throat aches but he can't quell his voice from yelling. "You don't get it Hoseok!"
His voice bounces off the walls of the room, loud enough that the quiet that follows is thick. Jimin feels a stream of words sitting in his lungs, they swell like balloons.
"I can't just get him back," Jimin says. His shoulders hunch in, his eyes blur. "Things don't work like that, they don't. He lives in California, he's probably moved on, has someone else, has something better than me…”
And it’s like a punch in the gut to finally say it out loud. It has been days, days of denial, days of longing.
In his mind’s eye, he sees himself all those years ago, folded atop his desk chair with his knees to his chest, his cellphone to his ear. Then there was Jungkook, croaking into the line with a warbled voice telling him just break up with me, and Jimin was numb. And he was dumb, so he did it.
Then he was numb for weeks afterward until it stopped and until he moved on, as long as it took and as hard as it was.
But this is so much worse than that. What had been so tangible, what had been so real was the love they shared in that California home, palm trees lined on the streets outside, an ugly van in the driveway. Nothing would ever feel that right again.
“I miss them,” he whispers. His face stings with the onslaught of tears building up. “I want Jina, Areum, Jungkook. I want them.”
Hoseok says nothing, not for a long while. Jimin feels an ache in his chest so strong he can’t stay upright. He subsides into the bed, curls into himself and tries to breathe through the pain even if he doesn’t want to anymore.
It’s a second of hovering before Hoseok climbs in after him. Earlier Jimin wanted to hit him, scream at him until his voice couldn’t make a sound. But now he lets Hoseok pull blankets over him, lets him take a hand and twine their fingers together. A hand is in his hair a minute later, and this unearthly being must be doing something to him because suddenly his eyes are heavy, the pain in his heart decreases.
Before he can close his eyes, at the very last moment he hears an apology, then there is blessed silence.
Jimin wakes up to another day, though not different from the others. He is still curled in that same position under the blankets but instead of Hoseok’s hand in his palm there lies his cellphone.
Blinking at it, he sighs. He is startled a minute later when it rings, vibrating violently. Seokjin’s name pops up on the caller ID. For a moment he is tempted to reject it, but answers for the sake of hearing a friends voice.
“Wow,” Seokjin greets. “You’re alive.”
“Mm.” It takes a huge amount of effort to talk.
“Are you feeling well enough to come in this morning?”
Jimin blinks again. His eyelids feel like sandpaper against his pupils. A glance out of the window shows a gray sky, slowly coming to a glow with the rise of the sun.
“I should,” he answers. “but I’m not sure.”
Seokjin groans. “C’mon Jimin. You’ve never taken time off even when you had mono that one time.”
Jimin turns over onto his back. Surprisingly, he can feel his body start to energize itself. His eyes become more alert. For whatever reason, his chest isn’t aching, and he frowns.
“I didn’t have mono.” Jimin snaps. “I had strep.”
“They’re completely different—”
“Anyways,” Seokjin interrupts. “if you don’t come in today Marsha from Wyoming will cancel. She’s been refusing to cooperate with the other surgeons, says she won’t have anyone else but you.”
Then Jimin feels guilty. Marsha is one of his favorites, a porn star in the making with an infectious attitude and a great smile. His fingers twitch; after a moment he realizes he misses work. Seokjin keeps rambling, counting off how many things have been going wrong at the hospital since he decided to call in a random vacation time to mope.
As he rambles, Jimin listens and picks himself up off the mattress. Stretching and scratching at his hair as he walks into the restroom. The lights temporarily blind him, but what nearly blinds him permanently is the reflection of himself in the mirror. Jimin grimaces.
The stubble on his chin and upper lip are grown out, his hair is oily. There are the tiniest of breakouts along his forehead and his skin is dull. The shower is calling for him, Seokjin is still talking. For the first time in days does he finally get the urge to get out of his apartment, skin ready to feel the winter, body craving to be productive.
“—and to top it off, Heejin said that—”
“Okay,” Jimin interrupts, then adds. “I’ll be there.”
There is a pause. “Wait, really?”
“Yes,” Jimin sighs, then pulls off his shirt and starts the shower. “I’ll be there.”
“Oh thank God.”
Despite being away for weeks from surgeries and consultations, Jimin glides back into work gracefully. If anything, it’s been a welcome distraction from the slap of being brought to reality.
The first couple of days were hectic, but he had been welcomed back so warmly he almost teared up. The medical assistants hugged him, his patients were grateful to see him.
After a long day following his return, Seokjin had followed him to his car. At first, it confused him, but then a second later discovered why he was being tailed. Right as he reached the door Seokjin pulled him into a kiss. The shock had him frozen during the first few slicks of lips, then a mild taste of disgust welled up in him. He’d pulled back, wiped his mouth, and felt his cheeks color.
And it’s not like Seokjin was disgusting to him; they’d shared too many intimate moments for him to think that. But it didn’t feel right, not the way it had.
He wasn’t Jungkook and Jimin wasn’t ready for that yet. Intimacy with another person.
Seokjin didn’t get upset at being rejected. He’d tilted his head, shrugged, apologized, then ruffled Jimin’s hair much to his annoyance.
“That’s okay if you’re not feeling it anymore,” he’d said. “We can always just watch movies and cuddle or something.”
That’s what they did. Above all else, Jimin was grateful he had him as a friend. It made the evenings a lot less lonely.
One evening finds Jimin staring holes into his cellphone.
It had been a moment of revelation when Jimin was in the middle of consultation and suddenly he’d remembered the text Jungkook sent days ago. His patient had wished him a happy holiday and he’d realized that Christmas was around the corner, then the new year at which Jungkook said he would be staying in New York until.
When he arrived at home, he recalled the morning he’d woken with his cellphone in his hand. He’d wondered if that had been a hint. The opened, and un-replied to text still lied in his inbox. But he couldn’t bring himself to answer it.
Jimin’s managed to make dinner, watch television, shower, read, and lay down for an hour pondering about what to say. He opens the message.
With shaking fingers, he’s typed a million and one things. It’s with an accidental slip of his finger does he send an unfinished text.
And oh shit, Jimin curses to himself. His thumbs punch the keyboard with swiftness, but it’s useless. He nearly screeches when he gets a quick message back.
Jimin cringes, hits send.
I meant to say Hey among other things.
Dots appear on the bottom of the chat. His throat closes up when he gets another message.
Oh that’s okay! :) I’m just happy you replied.
Jimin’s heart pounds. Jungkook still seems as sweet as ever. He replies,
I meant to earlier, but I got sidetracked
It’s great to hear from you Kook
Are you still in NY?
He doesn’t get a reply for a while. It’s as he’s settling in for sleep does he decide to send another text.
If you still wanted to get some coffee I’m free anytime
I know a few good places. I can show you around. We can catch up.
I’d really love to see you again.
And he really hopes his desperation doesn’t cling to those electronic letters. Scaring Jungkook off would be disastrous to his being.
When the moon takes its place high in the sky, Jimin clings to hope.
He doesn’t know when he fell asleep, but he wakes up with a blurry head. His phone is clutched in his hand once again and inside is a message from Jungkook that has Jimin’s heart bursting with joy.
I’d love that too
Though there is dirt brown snow congregated in sidewalk crevices and lodged into dirty corners, a quaint café nestled in Queens keeps warm. Under a gray sky, the russet brick building pops its color in between its slate neighbors.
The afternoon is frigid. Jimin has bundled up in a parka, stuffed his legs into protective thick jeans. Boots save his feet from the harsh weather, gloves hug his fingers. And Jimin is fidgeting, tuckered down into a wooden chair and gazing across the café, thoughts going berserk.
In line stands Jungkook, though not the same Jungkook that was in his glimpse. This Jungkook seems brighter if possible, there is youthfulness in his features that was missing in Husband Jungkook.
They’d met up just minutes ago, a heart-pounding, breath-stopping, holy-fucking-shit-he’s-here moment that meshed them into an embrace. Jimin was sure he was trembling when Jungkook pulled him into a bear hug, smiling so widely his eyes were nearly closed. And all Jimin could think about was how it has been years…and this Jungkook was so different, but his eyes were the same.
His hair is carefully trimmed, but a fluffy light brown compared to the dark locks he’d grown familiar with. Jungkook is fit, fitter than he expected with a waist cinched so small he was sure he could wrap his hands around him. His complexion is glowing and healthy, there are no small stress lines around his eyes.
For a moment, Jimin almost lost himself into the urge to lean in and greet him with a kiss, but then reality bit him in the ass when Jungkook pulled out of the hug just as quickly as he was pulled in.
They’d picked a table near the window. Even if there are snow and dark skies, the city doesn’t slow. People pass by, most with noses in their phones, most with chins snuggled into scarfs. Jungkook had been the one to propose they order their drinks, going as far as to insist to pay. Before Jimin even got a word in he’d walked off, leaving Jimin to stew in his thoughts.
Anxiousness prickles at him, but more than anything relief is present because Jungkook is finally here, right in front of him and looking every bit as beautiful as he expected and more.
The man comes back minutes later with steaming mugs balanced in both hands. They are placed on the coasters atop their lacquered table top, and Jungkook is beaming at him over their rims.
“You didn’t tell me what you wanted,” Jungkook says, blowing on his own drink. “So, I guessed.”
“Did you?” Jimin chuckles. He picks up his drink and sniffs at it. Whiffs of coffee and something inherently sweet jump out at him. “That’s rude. You could’ve asked.”
Jungkook shrugs. “Didn’t want to. It’s your punishment if you don’t like it, for leaving me on read for days.”
“I didn’t mean to!” Jimin defends with a pout. “I was a little, uh, caught up with something.”
“Sure,” Jungkook snickers, eyes teasing, smirk playing at his lips. “First I don’t hear from you after the split, then you don’t even reply to my text. Now that’s rude.”
And though Jimin knows he’s joking, the mention of their breakup makes his heart sputter a little.
“You haven’t even asked me why I’m here yet,” Jungkook jests before placing his mug down with a click.
“I thought maybe I’d ask how you’re doing first,” Jimin narrows his eyes and pulls back the hand wandering toward Jungkook’s own on the table. “Because I’m ya know, nice…unlike someone I know. You’re still a brat I see.”
Jungkook barks a high pitched laugh that echoes through the ceiling. Jimin’s stomach warms.
“I guess I am. But yeah, I’m doing great,” Jungkook answers, all traces of his teasing gone. “really great, actually. Though this weather is wearing me down, I don’t like the cold at all.”
“Some people say you get used to it,” Jimin takes his cup and puts it to his lips. “but that’s a lie. I’m still not.”
Jungkook’s eyebrow perks. “California boy through and through.”
Jimin nods. “And your parents, your brother?”
“Junghyun married ages ago,” Jungkook says, resting his head on his raised fist. “Has four kids. It keeps mom busy and dad spoils them rotten.”
Then his phone is pulled out; Jimin watches his long fingers swipe through an album then blinks at a photo Jungkook showcases. It’s a family photo; four little Korean girls around similar ages are kneeling on the floor in matching outfits, a tiny woman with a kind smile is under Junghyun’s arm who is standing next to his dad, their dad next to their mother, then their mother next to Jungkook. They look happy, they look healthy. Jungkook’s familiar big eye shape adorns the children, genes running strong.
“So cute.” Jimin giggles. “You guys look so cute.”
“It was taken around Christmas last year after my parents moved into their new house. They love it there. It’s their dream home.”
“That’s awesome,” Jimin congrats. “they deserved it.”
Jungkook hums. His phone is stuffed back into his pocket before he starts to strip out of his heavy coat. Jimin pointedly does not stare at his bulging biceps beneath a thermal long-sleeved shirt. Jimin suddenly feels too warm and also strips himself of the extra layers.
“How’ve you been?” Jungkook finally asks, eyes twinkling. “Haven’t heard much except for when I see your mom around.”
“She keeps you updated, doesn’t she?” Jimin feels a little sheepish.
Jungkook shrugs. “I don’t mind it. I like to hear about you from time to time so that way I know you’re still alive. But that’s an understatement, just look at you, all successful.”
Red rises in his cheeks. “Not…really.”
“Don’t be modest,” Jungkook laughs. “I’m really proud of you. You’ve worked hard, made a lot of sacrifices.”
Jimin loses his words for a moment. Thoughts stuck on sacrifices, eyes lingering on Jungkook.
“Too many,” he eventually says. “Too many sacrifices.”
The air gets a little thick with tension. Jungkook seems to buffer under Jimin’s gaze. After a moment, Jungkook clears his throat and glances away. Jimin turns his gaze to his lap.
“So,” Jimin’s coughs into his elbow. “What brings you here? Going to see the ball drop?”
Jungkook flaps his hand. “Nah…well, I mean, yes. But that’s not the only reason.” He says, then leans forward with a Cheshire grin.
Then Jimin is hit with déjà vu. He’s unbelievably familiar with this expression. It’s the one Jungkook adapts when he’s nearly bursting at the seems with a secret, wanting nothing more than for someone to ask what he’s up to, what he’s hiding. Excitement lines Jungkook’s lips.
Jimin raises an eyebrow, asking the question that’s expected to be asked. “Well, then what for?”
Jungkook’s practically vibrating.
“I’m on…” he throws out his hands. “a book tour!” then wiggles his fingers at the announcement.
Jimin’s mouth gapes open.
“A b-book tour?” he asks. “You don’t teach?”
Jungkook frowns in confusion as he puts his hands back down.
“No?” he answers. “I’d never want to teach.”
“You’re a writer?” his voice is a whisper. “But you were so good with kids.”
“Huh?” Jungkook leans in, straining to hear. “I didn’t catch that.”
Jimin waves him away. “No, no. It’s nothing.”
Jungkook plops back into his seat then picks up his mug again.
“A writer.” Jimin muses. “Wow.”
“Yeah,” Jungkook lifts an arm and scratches at the back of his neck. “I kind of started to pick it up after you, um, left.”
Jimin hadn’t known that, how did he not know that.
“That’s really cool, Kook.”
Jungkook smiles at him. “I love it. I love it a lot. To be honest, I didn’t really think that it’d go anywhere? I mean, I was just one gay kid in California projecting all my shit into words and then suddenly I was published and then suddenly more stuff was published. Then here I am, selling out and going on book tours across the US. It’s been a dream.”
“That’s fucking amazing.” Jimin awes. “I wanna read what you’ve written. You’re going to have to show me! I’ll buy all your books. I’ll even put up a shrine.”
For the first time of the afternoon, Jungkook blushes. Rose sits nicely in his cheeks and Jimin is so fond.
“A shrine?” Jungkook giggles.
“Yes,” Jimin nods. “Then you can sign all the other copies I’d buy. Maybe I’ll sell them on eBay and get rich.”
“You’re already rich!” Jungkook laughs. “And you don’t have to buy my books. Honestly, they’re not that good.”
“I want to!” Jimin insists. “I bet they’re incredible.”
“Being a writer is nowhere near as impressive as being a surgeon,” Jungkook jokes.
Jimin frowns. “Don’t do that.”
“Don’t undermine yourself, even if you’re kidding.” He says. “I’m so proud of you.”
Jungkook blinks at him then directs his attention to the window.
“I’m grateful we got to meet,” Jungkook says. “I um, I was a little scared to see you today.”
Jimin’s throat tightens. The mood sobers. He doesn’t mention that he’d felt the same way.
“Why?” he asks instead.
“I don’t really know…” Jungkook licks his lips, furrows his brows. “I mean, I know it’s been years but…maybe some part of me needed this,” he says then turns those deep brown eyes back to Jimin. “to see if you were doing well. To see if you were happy—healthy.”
Realization slams into Jimin hard. His chest feels choked up suddenly. In a whoosh of breath, he says:
“You wanted closure…”
Jungkook laughs a self-deprecating thing. “Yeah, I guess. Does that make me a little pathetic?”
Jimin shakes his head, doesn’t say anything for fear his voice will crack. Jungkook wants closure—so what does this mean? Does this mean he’s still not over it, does this mean he is, and this meeting is simply the final ending in their story?
“So,” Jungkook sighs. “Are you?”
Jimin meets his gaze. It’s hard to read.
His throat is a little dry so before he answers, he takes a swig from the cooled down drink. It’s delicious, well, it would be if it didn’t taste like ash on his tongue.
“Am I happy?” Jimin asks for clarification. Stalling.
And the first thing that pops into his head surprisingly isn’t "no", it’s "yes".
But it’s not "yes" because it's true, it’s "yes" because for years that’s what he trained himself to believe. It’s "yes" because that’s what he had to convince himself he was all throughout college, after their breakup; when he had to delete their pictures off his computer’s hard drive; when he had to block him on social media; when his mother accidentally slipped once and mentioned Jungkook over a phone call one summer that nearly ripped his fucking heart out.
It’s "yes" because accepting anything other than a "no", admitting that he’s not happy, would break him.
Then what would Jungkook think, if Jimin shook his head, if he confessed everything right here, spilling words he’s never spoken to anyone before, about how much he can hurt, about how much he stifles it?
How would he react?
Jimin can feel a breath shudder through his lungs. Then he decides to lie.
“Yeah,” Jimin nods. “I’m happy.”
And Jungkook grins at him, eyes crinkling, cheeks bunching. It’s the most beautiful thing Jimin’s ever seen, and he’s happy his deception put it there.
“I’m glad.” Jungkook breathes. “That’s all I want for you.”
“Even after our bad breakup?”
“Please,” Jungkook rolls his eyes. “that was ages ago. I’m over it, you’re over it. It’s cool that we can even stand to sit here right now.”
It feels like a knife is being twisted into his gut, but Jimin soldiers on. “Right, right.” He agrees. “And you seem happy too.”
Jungkook is enthusiastic in replying. “Completely. Though sometimes shit gets hard, I’m good.”
“That’s…” shitty, this is shitty. Jimin’s run out of positive words. Just keeps saying, “that’s really cool.”
Like an idiot. He’s an idiot. Any kind of hope he’s been harboring about this get together is dwindling. And it’s so unfair that Jimin must be the one to suffer through all this emotional turmoil. He wants to feel as okay as Jungkook too.
“Mhm,” Jungkook stretches his arms above his head, then checks the time on a glinting watch around his wrist. “Ah…”
Dread fills Jimin’s stomach. “Do you need to be somewhere?”
Jungkook shoots him an apologetic look. “I’m supposed to meet my agent back at my hotel in thirty and I’m still adjusting to the subways. I should leave soon.”
Jimin practically shoots from his chair, a little frantic. “I can drive you.” He offers. “I drove here, and I can drive you.”
“Are you sure?”
Jungkook shrugs. “If you insist.”
The valet across the street brings Jimin’s vehicle around. From his peripherals, he catches Jungkook’s expression morph into shock and some pride surges through him.
Jungkook is staying at a hotel not too far, but the roads are a little congested. The drive is quiet. Jungkook’s eyes are trained out of his passenger window, Jimin’s keep straying toward him. The familiar scent of something purely Jungkook fills the car and his stomach clenches. A flash of intimate moments renders him breathless as they cross his mind; soft sheets, even softer skin.
He clears his throat, shakes his head to rid the thoughts, and turns at a green light. A moment too soon and they’re pulling up on the road where Jungkook is to be dropped off.
“We got here early,” Jungkook enthuses. “sweet!”
Jimin puts the car into idle once they arrive out front. A valet comes over and Jimin hands him a bill but tells him to keep it running since he’ll be leaving soon.
They turn to one another as they make it into the lobby. It’s a grand hotel, with glimmering-golden chandeliers, checkered-polished floors, great-white pillars that house staff dressed in pressed suits. They hover near an oak table with a vase full of fresh flowers of every kind. An ornate clock ticks away next to it.
Jimin is desperate for more time.
“Thank you for seeing me,” Jungkook says. He tilts his head, regards Jimin with a muted adoration. “It was nice.”
“It was.” Jimin answers. Blood is rushing through his ears. It takes everything in him not to cry.
“I’ll see you around, yeah?” Jungkook spreads his arms at his sides, beckons Jimin into a hug.
And Jimin falls into him. He fits so perfectly its almost too painful to endure. His arms wind around Jungkook’s waist, he tucks his chin over his shoulder and nuzzles down. His body pulses with the saddest of needs. This feels even worse than the first time it happened, back in that California airport.
Soon, much too soon, he finds his hands unlocking from behind Jungkook’s back, finds his legs taking a backward step, finds his eyes dry, meeting Jungkook’s own. He thinks that maybe this is how it’s supposed to be even if it feels all wrong. To let go.
“I’ll see you.” Then he’s smiling, so fake, so forced.
Jungkook gives him one last meaningful expression before he turns to walk away.
This is how it must’ve felt when I left first.
Because his heart is breaking, and all he wants to do is throw Jungkook’s old words back at him and ask him to stay.
I choose you, I choose you over everything.
The valet doesn’t say anything about the tears streaming down Jimin’s face. He only gives him a look as if he’s deranged and eyes him as he gets into his car.
Jimin is wailing hysterically once he’s down the road. His vision blurs so badly that he decides to pull over until he calms. As he’s blowing snot into a receipt paper because he has no tissues, Hoseok magically poofs into existence in his passenger seat. Jimin screams.
“You’re making a mistake,” Hoseok monotones. There is a furrow in his brow. He’s wearing a fully white tuxedo. “Have you learned nothing from the Glimpse?”
Jimin squints at him. “W-wha?”
Hoseok groans then flicks Jimin’s forehead with a thwack. “You’re hopeless.”
“But he’s moved on,” Jimin sputters through tears. “He’s happ—”
“You love him, don’t you?” Hoseok asks. “You love him, and you’ll never be happy with anyone else.”
“What does that matter?”
“Everything you do matters. Everything you want matters. And you’re supposed to fight for it Jimin!”
Jimin freezes in his seat. Hoseok is yelling at him, and it doesn’t feel very good.
“It’s not going to fall into your lap just like that,” Hoseok’s fingers snap. “You have to work for it. And it’s going to be hard, but you’ve got to be honest. With not only him but for yourself.”
Jimin blinks wetly at him.
Hoseok asks. “What do you want?”
Jimin doesn’t know how to answer.
Hoseok huffs. Then asks again. “What do you want, Jimin?”
“You know what I want,” he mumbles because Hoseok is losing his patience. It’s a scary sight.
The gaze Hoseok is leveling him with is piercing, all-knowing.
“I do,” Hoseok nods. “but I’m not the one who needs to be convinced.”
After Hoseok disappears, Jimin sits. He sits for so long that the sun descends into the west behind the clouds. The skyscrapers keep his car in the deeper shadows. Traffic begins to pick up once again. A restaurant opening for dinner begins to fill right beside him and an annoyed manager comes out to knock on his window.
“Sir,” his voice is muted. “you can’t park here.”
Jimin turns to meet his eyes and slowly rolls down the window. The man throws out his hands in exasperation.
“Well,” the man snoots. “Are you going to move?”
“I didn’t…tell him…” Jimin is speaking to himself.
Jimin squeezes his hands on the steering wheel, knuckles white.
“I didn’t tell him the truth.”
The man huffs. “Sir, if you don’t move I’ll have no choice but to have your car towed.”
Jimin whips his gaze to him wildly and the man flinches back. He hops out of the way when the car door is swung open, after Jimin shuts off his car, and stuffed his wallet and keys into his pockets. He hears none of the threats the man is spewing, is doing nothing but moving on animal instinct.
The lights of Jungkook’s hotel are within sight, a couple of blocks back from whence he came.
“Sir!” the man is calling for him when Jimin starts to retreat. “Sir!”
“I didn’t tell him.”
And he chants it to himself over, and over again, even when his legs break into a sprint, dodging pedestrians clogging the sideways, hurdling over small dogs and the trash on the floor, and maneuvering around cars. He slips more than twice. Snow begins to fall when he makes it to the second block, cool flakes smacking his cheeks, wind frosting his nose red.
The receptionist looks ready to call security when he bursts back into the hotel lobby. He placates her through huffing breaths.
“Just…need,” he inhales. Can’t catch his breath. “To know which… r-room Jungkook Jeon is in.”
The woman narrows her eyes at him, more than suspicious. “We don’t have anyone staying here by that name,” she lies, without even touching a computer screen to look it up.
Jimin wants to scream. “Please,” he begs. “I’m an old friend. I know he’s here…I just need to see him.”
“I already told you there is no one here by that name—”
And God, that blessed voice. Jimin turns to look behind him and there is Jungkook, in a crisp suit standing on the edge of the carpet that leads into the hotel bar with a man near his elbow, looking on curiously. His eyes are creased in concern, glancing from the receptionist to a harried Jimin.
“Are you okay?” Jungkook asks, then whispers something to the man near him. After a moment of hesitance, the stranger leaves. “What’s going on?”
“I didn’t tell you.” Jimin chants again, adrenaline fueling him. His mouth is cotton-dry, his knees are weak, but he moves toward Jungkook anyway. “I lied.”
Jungkook glances around the lobby and pulls Jimin by the elbow into a secluded area near the back.
“Lied about what?”
Even though Jungkook is looking at him like he’s lost his mind, Jimin doesn’t care. All his life he’s been making selfish choices, all his life he’s been a liar. For tonight, he’s going to make one more selfish choice.
What’s the truth if it was never a lie to begin with?
“I’m not happy.” Jimin states. He glares down at his shoes, they were shiny earlier and now they’re scraped up from the asphalt. Jungkook’s grip tightens on his elbow before it loosens and falls away.
Jimin directs his eyes to Jungkook’s face. “I’m not happy,” he says. “I- I don’t think I ever was, not after we broke up.”
And he can tell his confession catches Jungkook off guard. It’s in the way he takes a step back, in the way his eyes widen, and his jaw tightens. Jungkook rubs a palm over his mouth.
“Look, Jimin.” Jungkook sighs then smiles so soft. “If this is about that closure…if you need more, I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about me. Yes, I was heartbroken, but I got over it.”
Jimin blinks through stinging eyes, wants to reach out so bad but knows its not his place.
“Maybe,” Jungkook gives him a gentle pat on the shoulder. “Maybe you should move on, too.”
“Listen,” Jungkook glances off to the side and sees that man hovering nearby with an impatient aura. “This isn’t really a good time. I’m sorry, but I have a dinner meeting I need to get to soon. Maybe…you can call me later?”
Fear grips Jimin by the gut, he tries to keep Jungkook with him with a gentle hand on his wrist, but he pulls away.
“I really have to go,” Jungkook says.
Then Jimin is watching him walk away again, two times in one day. The man Jungkook is walking toward throws Jimin a look of interest but turns away as they make their way to the rotating doors.
Everything in his very being is terrified shitless because it knows, he knows that if he doesn’t do this right here, right now, he might not ever get the chance again. His mouth opens.
“I had this dream!” Jimin shouts across the room like Martin Luther King Jr., loud enough to bounce through the walls, loud enough to stop everyone in their tracks, including Jungkook who is leaving. When Jungkook glances back at him from over his shoulder, he keeps going. “I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know why it happened, but it— it felt like it lasted a lifetime.”
Jungkook turns scarlet under the attention. Some people have already turned back to their business, but most others watch the scene unfold, even the staff, even the security.
“Her name was Areum.” Jimin almost cries, feels his voice wobble. “She was our first daughter. God, and she was so bright ya know? At only five years old she held this wisdom beyond her years. And although she watched too much television, she managed to be the smartest kid in her grade. Kind of like me,” he laughs with a wet voice. “And then there was Jina, she was just a baby, but she already looked so much like you. Her eyes were so wide and brown. She missed nothing, learned so quickly and grew out of her clothes so fast we got tired of buying her new shoes.
Then there was you, Jungkook.” Jimin laughs, wipes a stray tear away. At some point, Jungkook had begun gravitating toward him with wide eyes. “You were a teacher. And you loved it. You’d come home and tell me about your day, about your best friends named Yoongi and Haseul. You couldn’t handle your liquor well and you yelled at me a lot, but that was okay because I messed up a lot too. You loved bowling, made me wear this hideous shirt that I dealt with because…
Because we were so in love.” Jimin says in earnest, feels that very same love pass through him in waves. “After years and years of marriage, we were so in love. It was as if it never went away…as if I never left.” He winces. “But most of all, Jungkook, you made me so much better than I ever was. Than I ever could be.”
Jungkook’s eyes are wet when Jimin feels brave enough to go to him.
“I don’t know how, but it felt so real.” Jimin’s face crumples. “I lived in our house in California, I saw our wedding…and I don’t know,” Jimin shakes his head. “I don’t know if this makes me sound crazy or seem desperate or whatever and I don’t really care. But what I do know is that I lied. I’m not happy. And I’m not asking you to fix it, but what I will ask you is if it’s okay if – if I can take you out on a date. If you’d give me another chance.
Because after that dream, after seeing what we could’ve had together, I can tell you that it was incredible. And after everything, I choose us. I’d choose you, over everything.”
Jungkook’s chest is huffing after Jimin finishes, looking as winded as Jimin feels. Their gazes linger on another. Jungkook is sniffling and swiping at his nose. He doesn’t say anything and Jimin doesn’t know what that means.
“Just,” Jimin closes his eyes. “Please, stay with me. Don’t…don’t go to dinner.”
And suddenly Jungkook is barking a laugh. It startles Jimin out of his desperation and he opens his eyes to a red-nosed Jungkook. He turns toward the man lingering around to hear, who’s also in tears, and says:
“Reschedule dinner.” And the man sputters. Jungkook grins back at Jimin. “Tell them that a sudden proposal came up that I can’t miss out on.”
Jimin’s heart pitches through his chest, throwing him forward into the open arms Jungkook uses to catch him.
When the moon takes her place in the navy-blue night, a miracle happens. For the first time in days does the sky clear of the snow, of the clouds. The stars don’t blink into existence, but airplanes up hundreds of feet high twinkle almost as prettily.
Inside Jimin’s penthouse suite sits the pair. The lights are dimmed, the only source of glow comes from the window where they’ve settled themselves on the floor, on top of layers of down blankets. In front of a never-sleeping city.
A glass of wine is nestled in between them as they speak words that need to be spoken. Their fingers hold onto the thin stems of crystal-clear glasses.
When their palms drift after hours of hushed assurances, the universe accepts it. Their fingers lock together, interwoven with possibilities, and provoking aspiration throughout hours and hours.
Fate keeps watch from the roof across the street, definitively sealing their destiny with a heart-shaped grin.