The kitchen was crowded as Yoongi pushed past the door and searched for the host whose birthday they were celebrating. Jimin had complained incessantly since they had arrived as a group twenty minutes before, entering through the front door and heading straight for the quieter space of the living room. They could hear the loud twitter of conversation drifting from the kitchen at the end of the hallway and, knowing few of the guests, had opted to stick together. Taehyung, Hoseok and Yoongi had brought enough bottles of alcohol to keep them occupied without having to leave the room but eventually, they decided, it was only polite to find the host and thank him for inviting them.
“We don’t even know him that well...” Jimin whined at Namjoon’s suggestion. “I don’t know why he invited us.”
The older member rolled his eyes. “It’s a big birthday. He’s forty.”
“It was nice of him to invite us.” Yoongi agreed quietly from his space on the leather sofa, taking a small sip of whisky from the little bottle in his hand.
“I hear his wife’s pregnant.” Taehyung added, slightly off-topic.
“Besides...” Namjoon continued. “He works really hard for us. He’s been with the company for a decade.”
Jimin sighed. “But the kitchen’s full of accountants.”
Jin turned to him with a grin. “Did you hear the joke about the interesting accountant?”
Jimin shook his head.
“No, me neither...” Jin finished with a loud, squeaky laugh. Yoongi pulled a face.
“I’ll go and congratulate him. I need a smoke anyway.” Yoongi stood up slowly, stretching his back.
“I hope your lighter’s working hyung.” Taehyung called as he headed to the door.
“Why?” He asked, turning back to look at the younger member.
Taehyung smirked. “Because no one here will have one.”
Yoongi scrunched his nose, his top lip curling over his teeth in a brief sneer. He headed down the hall and into the kitchen. Almost immediately, he found himself freezing on the spot as the soft tinkle of laughter from the corner of the room caught his attention. It was cheerful and a little high-pitched; a female voice. Before he had even registered who it was, his stomach simultaneously lurched and fluttered; he felt both sick and elevated. It was the queerest feeling and, he realised later, something which his body had reacted to before his consciousness had the ability to spot the source of the sound.
His eyes darted to the space behind the faux-marble island counter in the middle of the room to a couple standing by the sink. Her hair was shorter; her straight black locks just skimming her shoulders and a set of bangs brushing her eyebrows, but he would have recognised her, and the bright sound of her laughter, in a room filled with a million people. She hadn’t seen him, thank god. She was lost in conversation with the lanky man standing beside her. She looked up at him, smiling, their almost-matching glasses twinkling in unison, reflecting the lights which hung low from the kitchen ceiling. She wore a calf-length black dress, the neckline was high and covered her considerable cleavage modestly. He leaned down, stooping considerably due to his height, and whispered something in her ear. She grinned; her painted lips curling back to reveal her teeth as she rested her hand lightly on his arm.
The man, ten years older than her at a guess, must have been friends with the host. His plain white shirt and boldly decorated tie practically screamed out ‘accountant’. Yoongi wondered, later, whether he had met Jeong-sun during her economics course at University. It seemed unlikely, given the clear age difference, but the man could have been a mature learner. Either way, they were clearly dating. Not one for public displays of affection, the soft touch of her hand on his upper arm felt surprisingly intimate and made Yoongi’s heart sink. A blush spread out on the man’s otherwise pale and slightly stubbly cheeks as he regarding her expression. Leaning closer, he pecked her cheek softly before moving to her lips.
Yoongi looked away, his head snapping to the side. It felt like a river had just broken free of a dam inside his chest; as though his body was drowning and he realised, belatedly, that he hadn’t taken a breath of air in the last twenty seconds. His limbs felt both agonisingly heavy, as though they were made of rock, and insubstantial; he couldn’t feel his feet on the floor. The bright room, crowded with men and women, swam before his eyes and he gasped; the natural instincts of his body taking over and forcing him to breathe. He blinked a couple of times and the room came back into sharp focus. Yoongi took a few deep breaths, trying to concentrate on regulating his breathing, focusing all his attention on his rising stomach and chest. When he realised he had his body under control, a panic attack narrowly dodged, he looked around, confused. The sky was dark and he was in the middle of a deserted town road. He heard the soft murmur of conversation from somewhere behind him and turned around. The house he had just been in was now more than twenty feet behind him. The kitchen door was still open and the soft glow of artificial light streamed out of it and onto the tarmac of the drive. He realised he must have left the room in a haze, his body on autopilot, wanting to get as far away from the couple as possible.
The thought of going back inside, to explain to his band mates what had happened, didn’t even cross his mind as he continued walking away from the house, the sound of the guests growing more and more distant with every passing second. Namjoon had driven them there as a group in his new Palisade, which he had parked a couple of blocks away from the house. Yoongi passed it without a glance, his legs working double time to get away, his head throbbing.
It had been six months since she had left him. The memory of that day swam through his mind. The band’s latest album had been released a month later and, in a way, he was grateful for the distraction. He had written and recorded songs in a haze; performing on television shows and at concerts to the best of his ability, but feeling empty inside. His period of mourning had been cut short when Hoseok had visited his apartment and convinced him to come back to their shared house to work on the new album. Before leaving, however, he had entered his cold, dark studio, glancing around. The last time he was in the room had been with her, several days before, and now felt haunted. He switched on the light and walked over to his black baby grand. The smooth surface was littered with smudged fingerprints; both large and small, from where his palms had clamped over hers as he fucked her. Her moans had echoed around the room to join the sounds of their naked bodies coming together.
He wiped his eyes absently as he walked, brushing his wet cheeks. He had brought her to orgasm, their bodies pressed against the piano, and she had squirted for the first time. The result of their almost-mutual climax, his and hers, covered the wooden floor and, before he joined Hoseok and the others back in their apartment, he had gotten down on his knees and scrubbed it clean. Afterwards, he took a yellow cloth and a bottle of polish and wiped the marks off the black, shiny surface of the piano, feeling his heart break all over again at the sight.
Now, he found himself fishing in his jean pocket for his house keys. He glanced at his silver Rolex and realised he had been walking for forty minutes. His feet had taken him home; back to the apartment he had bought and resided in alone. He had only been back a handful of times in the last six months, usually to pick up more sets of clothes or to turn on the heating for a few hours, to ensure the damp stayed away in the cold months. As he closed the door behind him, attaching the safety latch automatically, his mind returned to the scene in the kitchen.
A hundred-thousands thoughts threatened to break their way to the surface, memories of his and Jeong-sun’s time together over the space of nearly a year jumbled together with recollections of the cold, dead months since which he had spent without her. In the end, as he entered the silent and dark living room, three clear thoughts stood out against the rest.
The first was that they had looked good together. He wondered whether people had thought the same when they had seen himself with her. He had no photographs of them both from their time together so he could only speculate but be thought that the answer was probably no; the fact that only Hoseok had noticed Jeong-sun with him when they had been dating suggested that they hadn’t looked like a couple. Her new boyfriend, on the other hand, seemed to compliment her perfectly physically. If he hadn’t heard her laugh earlier in the kitchen, he wondered whether his eyes would have passed over them both without so much as a second glance. The man she was with could not be described as handsome, exactly, but his features had been warm and friendly. Even their clear height difference didn’t seem to distract from the fact that they looked as though they had been made for each other.
The second was that she seemed happy with him. While Yoongi had loved her with all his heart, in the end, he had not been able to do that. He realised, with a sinking heart, that he could hate her new boyfriend with every inch of his being but that it would not change this fact.
In his apartment, he felt his hot, pink cheeks with trembling fingers. His eyes had been streaming for the past twenty minutes and they stung with hot tears. He had barely noticed. Now, as he collapsed on the small, two person sofa, he became aware that his entire body was shaking. He looked around the dim space slowly; his apartment had never felt so empty.
As he got once more to his feet, so head back into the hallway, the third agonising thought hit him. His head quickly turned to the side, as thought he had been slapped, and he found himself changing direction, pacing back into the living room once more, every room he passed reminding him of her; their time together, making love on the sofa, in the bed, in the shower. Laughing as they cooked dinner or washed the dishes. Him curling against her body on the sofa, snuggling his cheek against her warm breasts as he wrapped his long fingers around hers. The final realisation was tortuous, harrowing, excruciating, and he found himself hovering in the centre of the living room, unable to move as he understood; as he became aware that things were truly over between them.
He recognised now that he had spent the past half-year hoping, praying in the back of his mind, that they would be able to reunite. That if he kept his mind occupied, working with the others, pushing away his emotions, that she would eventually come back to him. The thought was stupid, almost bordering on superstitious, but it had been there nonetheless. Now, he could not deny that this would never happen. He thought back to her face in the kitchen; the twinkle of the lights reflected in her square glasses as she gazed up at her new boyfriend. She seemed happy. He wanted her to be happy. No matter how bereaved it made him feel, no matter how much he wanted nothing more than to have her back, he would not sacrifice her joy for that.
Glancing around the living room, he spied a square shaped bottle on the floor, tucked away behind the sofa. The whisky had been a present from Jungkook a few months before and he had been saving it for a special occasion. Before he realised what he was doing, the bottle was in his hand, the other pausing to unscrew the black cap. He considered drinking it all at once; flooding his body with the intoxicating liquid gulp after gulp, not caring if it burned his throat and made him choke. The thought of not feeling anything, for hours or days or ever crossed his mind and he snapped his hand away from the cap quickly, as though he had just been burned. The loud, crashing sound of glass breaking filled his ears as the bottle hit the wall; brown liquid ran down the magnolia wallpaper in long, thin drips and the smoky, earthy scent of peat filled the room. His headache intensified as he dropped to his knees; the heady perfume of the drink stinging his nostrils. Feeling of guilt merged with his sorrow; the whisky had been a good gift and really, it was not Jungkook’s fault that any of this had happened.
He heard the sound of his own, loud sobs echo around the room as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He searched through his text messages and found what he was looking for after a few scrolls. The last time she had texted him had been two months before after he had asked whether she was doing okay. She had replied in the affirmative but had then told him she had to go as she was meeting a friend. He wondered, jealously, whether it had been the guy from the party and whether they had been dating at that time. He shook his head, rattling the thoughts from his brain as tapped a few buttons with his thumb, deleting her number from his memory. Pocketing the cell once more, he began the slow work of cleaning up the mess he had made.
He awoke the next morning on the sofa, his neck and back tense and aching. Despite him spending over twenty minutes the evening before clearing up the whisky and glass from the wooden floor, the scent of whisky still lingered in the air. He slowly got up from the seat and walked over to the hallway, meaning to get a glass of water from the kitchen to relieve his aching head.
“Shit!” He cried out in a low voice as a sharp jolt of pain leapt through the sole of his bare foot. He glanced down at the floor and observed the small puddle of blood on the floor, realising that he must have missed a few shards of glass during the clean up last night. The sight of the claret liquid caused another brief memory to flicker through his mind, Jeong-sun clutching his bleeding palm to her chest and holding it gently under the icy-cold stream of tap water to clean the wound. They had made love for the first time shortly afterwards; he had clutched her tightly to him as he came inside of her; his body relaxing and sinking into her warm, sweetly scented skin; her tenderness towards him acting as a remedy.
He felt his pocket vibrate and his body lurched in surprise. He reached inside his jeans and pulled out his cell. He had three missed calls; two from Jungkook and one from Hoseok. He checked his texts and found that the latter had just messaged him.
I told the others you had a headache. I hope you are okay. x
So Hoseok must have also spotted her in the kitchen...Yoongi sighed to himself but felt thankful that there was at least one person who understood.
Hoseok and Namjoon left shortly after realising Yoongi wasn’t coming back, much to Jimin and Taehyung’s protests that they hadn’t drunk enough alcohol yet. Hoseok had spotted Jeong-sun in the kitchen as soon as he entered the room and, after saying goodbye to the host, said hi to her as he passed. There was no resentment in his voice, but she looked alarmed nonetheless as he walked away, leaving by the kitchen entrance with Namjoon. Her eyes darted around the room quickly, scanning the space for the other members. She wondered whether Yoongi was with them. Seung-yoon, the man beside her, noticed and leaned down; his crane-like figure bending sharply at the knees.
“Are you okay?” He asked, his kind voice a little concerned.
“Can we go?” She asked, the slightest hint of panic rose in her voice but he didn’t seem to notice.
“They haven’t cut the cake yet.” He said with a smile. “Let’s just wait another half hour.”
She reluctantly agreed but felt her stomach drop, ten minutes later, when Seokjin, Jungkook, Taehyung and Jimin streamed into the room to watch the host blow out the candles. The lights had been turned off but she noticed the youngest three glance her way from across the marble island. Jimin nudged Jin and whispered something in his ear. Her heart seemed to stop in her chest and she shifted uncomfortably, unable to look away from the small group.
On the other side of the room, Jimin whispered: “Isn’t that her?”
Jin turned his head to look at the younger member. “Who?”
“Angel’s friend.” Jimin explained, nodding towards the older woman across the room. “The one who was in the closet with Yoongi?”
“His ex.” Taehyung explained simply from his other side. Jin looked at her, trying to keep his glance brief but recognising her immediately. His eyes darted to the tall, slim figure by her side who was holding her hand.
“Yeah, that’s the girl.” Jungkook confirmed quietly.
Jin shook his head, turning away from the host who had managed to blow out all forty candles in just three puffs. “Do you think he saw her?” He asked the cluster of men who surrounded him.
Jimin shrugged. “He didn’t seem to have a headache before he went out for a smoke...”
The lights came back on as the audience clapped; the host was grinning and thanking the guests. Before Jin could stop him, Jimin started to walk over to the couple.
“No, don’t...” Jin called out weakly, but the younger member either didn’t hear him or didn’t care. He came to a stop beside Jeong-sun and reached past her to pour himself a paper cup of vodka and coke. She watched him closely, anxiously.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit soon?” He asked, casting her a sour glance.
She regarding him coldly as he took a small sip from his cup.
“What did you say?” The man beside her asked, peering down at him. His voice was not unkind, having not properly heard what the younger man had said, but Jimin felt his heart skip unpleasantly nonetheless, his earlier confidence suddenly slashed. The man was at least eight inches taller than him and, accountant or no accountant, could probably land a good punch if needed.
“Oh, nothing...” He muttered, quickly turning away and joining his previous group.
“What did you say to her?” Jin asked nervously,
Jimin shrugged. “I just asked whether she was enjoying the night.”
The older man glanced at him suspiciously. “I hope you didn’t upset her.”
“Why?” He asked, a little defensively.
Jin sighed loudly. “Because Yoongi wouldn’t want you to.”
Jimin thought this through for a second before turning to Taehyung, feeling a little wounded. “She has some nerve...” He shook his head in disgust.
The younger man smirked, eyebrow raised. “Her boyfriend must be friends with the host. Did you see his tie?”
Jimin shook his head, noticing that both Jeong-sun and the man had left the room. “What does she see in him?” He murmured.
Jungkook opened his mouth to speak; taken aback by Jimin’s words. It seemed that it wasn’t that long ago the older member had asked the same question about what Yoongi had seen in Jeong-sun.
“It’s not our place to say.” Jin cut in, breaking the maknae’s trail of thought. “Has someone tried calling him?”
They all shook their heads and Jungkook, wanting to be useful, took out his cell phone and tried. He sighed after a few minutes. “No answer.”
“Are you sure you are okay?” Seung-yoon asked as she closed her apartment door behind them both.
Jeong-sun nodded. “I just feel a little sick. I think it was the shrimp.” She headed past the living room and attached kitchenette, walking to the bedroom. Her boyfriend followed her, his expression worried. They had been dating for the last month and a half and Yoongi had been half-right about how they had met. He had been in one of her university classes, five years ago, but she had barely spoken to him during her time there. He was not bad looking, but hadn’t been a natural conversationalist. She had bumped into him in small, secondhand bookshop around the corner from her apartment a couple of months ago and, recognising each other, had started conversing. He had invited her to watch a movie with him at the local cinema the next week and, despite knowing her wasn’t her usual type at all, had agreed on the spot. Him similarities with Yoongi went no further than their shared kindness and their love for her and, if she had stopped to properly think of it, she would have realised that she was mostly dating him because he was everything that Yoongi was not. She could come to rely on him being there when she finished work; often having cooked for them both and waiting for her patiently. They had slept together shockingly quickly and, while he had not yet made her orgasm, the sex was perfectly fine.
“I thought you didn’t like shrimp?” He frowned as she sat down on the bed and glanced up at him.
“I don’t.” She said drily. “I saw a plate of it at the buffet.”
He blinked. “What do you mean?”
She shook her head with a small sigh, a humourless smirk tugging at the sides of her lips. Her boyfriend was sweet and kind but had a tendency to take things very literally. She thought that Yoongi would have gotten the joke. She shook this thought away from her mind quickly, not allowing it to linger. “It doesn’t matter.” She said softly, taking his hands in hers.
He peered down at her with a warm smile. “You say the strangest things sometimes.”
She grinned, her brown eyes sparkling. “It’s a talent.”
“You’re so cute...” He let out a small laugh and leaned down to kiss her cheek gently. He smelled of sweet, soft pine and she felt the light graze of his short stubble against her skin. “So do you really feel okay?” He asked as he pulled away. The look of concern on his face made her heart ache and she nodded slowly, pressing her lips to the knuckles of his hand.
“I’ll be fine.”
He didn’t look convinced. “Was it something that guy said to you? At the party?” He asked.
She shook her head. “I think he thought I was someone else.”
“Oh.” His expression relaxed. “I thought for a second that he might have been an ex boyfriend.” He said, a smile creeping on his face.
Jeong-sun felt her chest tighten beneath her black dress. “He’s an idol.” She muttered, as though in explanation, getting to her feet to undo the side-zip of her dress.
“That makes sense.” Seung-yoon said with a smirk, watching her undress. “I didn’t think he looked your type.”
Her stomach once more jolted. Shutting him up, she leaned in and kissed him; having to stand on her tiptoes to reach his mouth. She pressed her tongue against his, a little roughly. He giggled into her and pulled away.
“How much have you had to drink?” He asked. She tasted of whisky and coke. He had stuck mostly to water and non-alcoholic beer.
She looked him in the eye. “Not enough.”
He smiled in reply. “Let’s get you to bed.” He moved towards her and their lips met again.
The soft morning light from the gap between the curtains woke her up prematurely and she rolled over onto her side, facing the man beside her. Her heart sank and she wondered why, when she kissed him and he fucked her, she seemed not to feel anything but emptiness. He woke up moments later, as though sensing her gaze on him. He smiled as he opened his brown eyes.
“Morning beautiful.” He leaned forward to kiss her cheek. She let him, expecting her cheek to tingle pleasantly afterwards, but feeling nothing. “How did you sleep?” He asked.
Jeong-sun tried to smile. “Like a log.”
“Shall I make us breakfast?” Seung-yoon asked chirpily. He was the only person she had met, beside perhaps her mother, who was truly a morning person. She yawned lazily.
“As long as I don’t have to wash up...”