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Last Days Don't Last

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Present

          Namjoon thinks that it’s absolutely stupid how their school requires them to attend one more day of school when they just graduated yesterday. Yes, he already has his diploma framed (as per his mom’s urgent request) and his things are already boxed up and ready to be transported to his new college dorm (as per his mom’s urgent request as well. He’s starting to think that his mom just wants to urgently kick him out of the house).

          But here Namjoon was, standing at the back of the gym with a couple of gifts inside each paper bag on his hand, staring intently at Kang Seulgi as if the most popular girl in school just grew two heads.

          “Uhm…” Namjoon hummed which also means he did not quite understand what he just heard.

          Seulgi stared back at him, her cheeks resembling a bursting tomato. Obviously, she’s embarrassed and probably regretting what she had just done, but embarrassing Seulgi was never Namjoon’s intention. He was raised by his mother to be a gentleman (“Don’t make girls cry, Namjoon,” his mother would say. “Don’t be like your father,” she’d follow up with a quieter voice even though they both know that Mr. Kim heard her anway.”). Plus, Namjoon doesn’t think he would have survived high school if he were an asshole to the popular kids. He wasn’t on the top of the food chain which means that if the whole school were to know that he’s indirectly making a fool out of Kang Seulgi, head of the cheerleaders, he’d probably die.

          Seulgi shyly looks down on the paper bag clutched on her hands, seemingly weighing whether to continue with her plans or not while Namjoon continues to stare at her like a tall useless tree.

          Finally, Seulgi looks up to meet Namjoon’s eyes once again. A wary smile now plastered on her face. “I like you, Namjoon,” she says while handing the paper bag to Namjoon. “I’ve liked you for a while now but I never got the chance to tell you.”

          Namjoon finally accepted the paper bag and silently nodded at Seulgi as a thank you.

          Looking at Seulgi, Namjoon fully understands why she’s on top of the food chain. She is very beautiful with her long black hair and cute eye smile. Not to mention the fact that she dances and sings well. She’s also fairly great inside the classroom, too—a favorite of a number of teachers. Even if she’s wearing her ink-stained uniform from all the good bye messages that her friends and classmates left on the cloth (yet another reminder how influential she was during their stay), she still looks mesmerizing.

          “Why now?” But Namjoon knew why she waited this long to tell him. He understands why the other girls who gave their parting gifts to him only confessed now.

          Seulgi shrugs. “I guess because it’s the last day and I would have regretted if I didn’t even try?”

          Because I was never on top of the food chain. I wasn’t popular and someone like you associating themselves with someone like me will ruin your reputation, Namjoon replies internally.

          But he nods as if he accepted her rationale. “Thank you, Seulgi.”

          “You’re going to BHU, right?” Seulgi suddenly asks.

          Namjoon nods again. “Yeah. For Literature.”

          Seulgi gives him a sweet smile, clasping her hands behind her back which gives her the typical school girl look. “I’m in the Performing Arts department.”

          “I see.”

          Seulgi’s face turns serious. With a careful, dainty hand, Seulgi reached out to his arm. “Namjoon. If you want to—“

          “Joonie!”

          Namjoon curses once again while their high school required them to attend one last day of high school when they could all begin their new lives and prepare for college. If he would have stayed at home, he wouldn’t have received these cheap gifts from the superficial classmates he had for the past four years. Seulgi wouldn’t have confessed to him at the back of the gym.

          He wouldn’t have found himself in an awkward situation like right now: Seokjin eyeing Seulgi’s hand on his arm while Namjoon stares at him like a deer caught in the headlights.

          Namjoon mentally cursed himself when he realized he was still standing there, frozen.

          Seokjin looks at Seulgi then at Namjoon before clearing his throat and saying, “I’ll… I’ll just be at the gate.” Then he turns on his heel and walks away.


 

Eight Months Ago

          It was a rainy day when Namjoon’s mom packed him salted fish for lunch. Yoongi complained of the smell that permeated in the room (but Yoongi stole half of the fish from Namjoon anyway) while Hoseok whined at how gloomy the day was, very different from what the weatherman reported last night.

          It was also a rainy day when Kim Seokjin accidentally spilled his lunch on the classroom floor.

          If it were any other day, Namjoon wouldn’t have cared. Kim Seokjin wasn’t his friend considering Seokjin is kind of popular (not as popular as Kang Seulgi or Nam Joohyuk, though) and also one of the teachers’ favorite. It also didn’t help that he has an overprotective younger brother who just so happens to have a black belt in taekwondo. But it wasn’t also new for Kim Seokjin to spill his lunch since he’s known to be a bit clumsy. Why he’s still assigned as the class representative is still a mystery to Namjoon. But he never voiced those opinions because he didn’t care enough anyway.

          However, it was also a rainy day when Seokjin sat on his desk with a grumbling stomach.

          Yoongi was supposed to pick another piece of fish meat and chopped tomato before Namjoon decided that Yoongi has had enough and decided to put on his lunch box’s lid back on. He sighed and made his way to Seokjin’s desk and placed his lunch box down. “Eat.”

          Seokjin looked at him like he was seeing Namjoon for the first time. And even if they have been classmates since freshman year, Namjoon wouldn’t be surprised if this is, in fact, the first time Seokjin took a good look at him.

          “How about you?” Seokjin asked.

          Namjoon shrugged. “Never was a fan of salted fish. You can have it.” He then made his way on the lower floor of the building to get a carton of strawberry milk.

          He was on his second sip when realization dawned on him. “Why did I just do that?”


 

Present

          Seokjin watched as his classmates filtered out of the school through the gates where he waited. Many of them waved a good bye at him and sent their good lucks for college. A few stopped to give him parting gifts or signed on his uniform.

          To be honest, Seokjin doesn’t know half of those people. They have familiar faces to him but their names were blurred out on his mind. He doesn’t really bother remembering their names, knowing full well that after the summer, when everyone’s driving down to their respective colleges in and out of town, they’d also forget his name.

          “Seokjin-hyung?” a high-pitched voice calls out to him. Seokjin turns at the familiar tone and was pleased to see Jimin making his way to the elder.

          Jimin opens his arms to hug Seokjin which Seokjin gladly reciprocates. “You’re not a senior and you’re definitely not from this school so I wonder what you’re doing here,” Seokjin teases even though he knows exactly why Jimin is here.

          “I’m gonna wreak havoc before summer officially starts,” Jimin says with a wink. It wasn’t long before the reasons why Jimin is here approach them. “There you are,” Jimin says while crossing his arms in a very bratty manner. Even if he does look like a spoiled child (which he is), Seokjin can’t help but find the sight cute.

          Jimin all but jumps in between Yoongi and Hoseok to give them a bear hug. Yoongi whines but still pulls Jimin close to his chest and so does Hoseok. The youngest gives a peck to Yoongi’s cheek then Hoseok. “Happy summer.”

          It was Hoseok who first notices Seokjin standing idly while watching the three of them. “Hey,” Hoseok greets while making his way to give Seokjin a hug. “Congrats to us, huh?”

          “Congrats to us, indeed,” Seokjin replies with a smile. Hoseok then retrieves a Sharpie from his pocket to sign his short message on Seokjin’s uniform.

          “Sometimes I forget how popular you are,” Yoongi says under his breath when he annoyingly discovers that the only space left for him to write is literally on Seokjin’s armpits.

          “Don’t worry, I do, too,” Seokjin chuckles as he holds his arm up for Yoongi to write. It tickles a little bit.

          When they were done, Jimin bids him farewell, promising his two not-boyfriends-boyfriends for a celebratory dinner.

          Seokjin only notices how fast time has gone by. He looks back at the building where he stayed for the four years of his high school, the fields, and even the students whom he interacted with in one way or another. It sure was a great part of his life but he can’t help but place certain moments in his mind—events in his high school life that he wishes he will never forget. Like the way he was nominated as class representative for four years in a row. The festival where their class won best booth. Even that one time when it rained so hard, when the thunder startled him enough to spill his lunch.

          Before he knew it, the sun was starting to set and a familiar face was making its way to him.


 

Six Months Ago

          “What do you think, Jin?” Hoseok turned to Seokjin, a smear of questionable cheese stained the side of his heart-shaped mouth. Seokjin inwardly cringes at the sight.

          Yoongi, on the other hand, clicks his tongue. His eyes were still trained on their game of Mario Kart despite his passionate debate against Hoseok about fighting tigers and sharks. “The tiger has an advantage because it moves faster.”

          “Not when the fight’s in the middle of the sea,” Hoseok argues.

          “Okay, but that’s unfair the same way it’s unfair if the fight is in the middle of the desert,” Yoongi counters. “Let’ say that the ground are in the beach. The tiger has an equal chance as the shark, don’t you think?”

          “I think…” The door suddenly burst open to reveal Namjoon carrying a tray of iced tea. “Both of you are stupid and should never ever join the debate circle.” He set the tray down before four hands hurriedly battled to get a glass each. Then he settled on the bed next to Seokjin.

          “Don’t worry,” Yoongi says after a sip. “Wasn’t planning on doing so.”

          It took a couple of minutes for Hoseok and Yoongi to finish a round (Hoseok won) before the four of them settled on Namjoon’s bed.

          They were supposed to do their math homework like they usually do on Thursday nights. But Namjoon’s mom was nice enough to order pizza for the boys and they can’t help but get distracted.

          The boys started chatting about nothing and everything—superficial things like who they think is the prettiest girl in school (“Kang Seulgi,” Yoongi answers without hesitation to which all of them agreed to anyway). Seokjin can’t help but smile at where he is now, in a friend’s room surrounded by these amazing people that he wouldn’t have imagined to grow close with.

          It’s not like he doesn’t have friends to begin with (“Your brother doesn’t count,” Yoongi argues when he named Jungkook as his best friend), he knew quite a few people (or rather, quite a few people knew him) and he never really felt left out. But sharing these moments with Yoongi, Hoseok, and Namjoon feels a little more intimate—a little more special. It’s such a shame that he only got close to them on their senior year.

          Jungkook didn’t approve at first when he started telling him and their mom about hanging out with the boys. Jungkook is notoriously known as his overprotective brother who would probably break someone’s bone if they tried to hurt Seokjin. But Seokjin reminded him that Jungkook is not in charge of his life. Eventually, Jungkook left him to his devices but still leaves warning looks at his friend whenever he can.

          “Are you guys excited for college?” Hoseok asked out of nowhere, and suddenly, all of them fell into silence.

          The truth is, Seokjin is not worried about living away from home or passing his subjects because he knows that he could always call his mom and his brother and he works hard to study and accomplish his tasks. He’s worried about falling apart with his newfound friends. It wasn’t that easy to finally be accepted into their friend group even though there’s no requirement for him to fulfill. But he also took two weeks before he could return Namjoon’s lunch box then another two to prepare lunch for Namjoon (and by extension, Yoongi and Hoseok) as thanks and apology. And the truth is, he’s going to miss them. He’s going to miss hanging out and talking about nonsense. He’s going to miss cheering for Yoongi while he plays basketball or when Hoseok partakes in a dance recital.

          “I think we’re going to be fine,” Namjoon answered with a smile that did not quite reach his eyes. They knew that the sentiment was there, though.

          He’s also going to miss this tall tree of a person. Namjoon who offered him lunch that rainy day. The one who hosts their Thursday night activities. The one who talks constantly about life and literature even though those are probably the most boring topics that Seokjin could think of.

         When Yoongi received a call from his mother, telling him to go home, all of them decided to call it a day. Yoongi and Hoseok bid Mrs. Kim a good bye while they rode off their bicycles.

          Seokjin was the one who put the dirty dishes and glasses on the sink before putting on his coat as well.

          “You’re gonna walk home?” Namjoon asked. Seokjin nodded in response. To his surprise, Namjoon also grabbed his own coat and put it on then yelled, “Mom, I’m gonna walk Seokjin home.”

          “Okay, sweetie,” Mrs. Kim answered from upstairs.

          “You don’t have to,” Seokjin said as he put on his shoes. “It’s just a short walk from here. I’ll be fine.”

          Namjoon grabbed him by the wrist and exited their house. “Yeah, I know. But she’s gonna make me do the dishes and I don’t want that.”

          With a chuckle, Seokjin nodded and walked side by side with Namjoon.

          The thing is, out of the four of them, Seokjin and Namjoon are the quietest. They have different interests and they often find themselves running out of topics to talk about when they’re left alone together. Yet, somehow, Seokjin is the most comfortable in Namjoon’s presence. They could walk hours on end without uttering a single word and he’d feel fine. They didn’t have to fill the dead air with words.

          They reached Seokjin’s house in no time. “Thanks for walking me home even though you really didn’t have to.”

          “It’s fine.”

          They stood there staring at each other for a moment, wondering how to properly say good bye, before the gate opened. Jungkook stepped out with a frown on his face.

          “You said you’d be home by seven.”

          Seokjin rolled his eyes. “Yes and I’m thirty minutes late. Don’t act like it’s the end of the world.”

          Jungkook eyed Namjoon but didn’t bother to greet him before turning back to his brother again. “Mom made spaghetti. Come inside.”

          “Well, that’s my cue,” Namjoon said. “See you tomorrow, Jinnie.”

          Seokjin pretended not to heat up on the nickname that Namjoon started using about a month ago and instead raised a hand to wave a goodbye. “Bye, Joonie.”


 

Present

          The paper bags on Namjoon’s hands hang heavily with every step he takes but he can’t imagine how it must be heavier for Seokjin considering he’s got triple the amount that Namjoon was given. But Seokjin doesn’t complain, only looks forward and continues to walk without sparing Namjoon a glance.

          Usually, walking side by side with Seokjin in silence feels comfortable, but after witnessing Seulgi’s confession, Namjoon somewhat understands why he feels tension in the air.

          They kept walking and walking and walking until they passed the 7-Eleven by the intersection. Seokjin suddenly halted and turned to look up at Namjoon. “Do you want to go to the fair?” he asks.

          Since summer officially starts this week, the town set up the annual fair at the park also as a fund raising project for the community. Namjoon’s mom usually bakes pastries and sells them at the fair but she skipped this year because she was busy with getting Namjoon set up for college. The fair is fun because besides the food and pretty trinkets they sell there, they also set up a mini rollercoaster, carousel, and Ferris wheel which drives lots of children in. They also have games and other activities for the whole week.

          Without hesitation, Namjoon nods and says, “Sure. Let’s go.”

          Seokjin leads the way with hurried steps until they entered the park. Sure enough, the place was crowded with people. The smell of fried food filled the air and made Namjoon grumble. The kids were all loudly playing in the booths to win stuffed animals. In the distance, various screams can be heard as people rode the roller coaster.

          “I want strawberry crepes,” Seokjin mumbles before dragging Namjoon by the wrist once he spotted the crepe stand. Seokjin did get strawberry crepe while Namjoon settled for honey and banana crepe.

          The two continued walking around the fair, glancing at the booths that sold little trinkets that say ‘Happy Summer’ or ‘Sunny Days’ or the occasional ‘Congratulations, Batch 20**’ meant for the graduating students. Seokjin even laughed at the funny fishes that were in a booth but still, he didn’t speak to Namjoon. They only stopped at another booth so Seokjin could buy a lemonade and Namjoon a Coke.

          It only dawned upon Namjoon how they finally finished high school when he watched Seokjin looking at the local artists’ pieces displayed on one of the booths. It was then did he realize that after the summer, he’d have less and less communication with his friends now that they’re finally starting college. Namjoon will be at BHU for Literature, Yoongi and Hoseok at CYU for Music and Dance respectively, and Seokjin will be at AE University to pursue a career in the medical field. Seokjin has always wanted to be a veterinarian.

          Namjoon wonders if his friends have the same worry as him—growing apart. Even though he’s sure that he’ll probably FaceTime Yoongi and Hoseok every day, he can’t say the same for Seokjin. It’s not that they’re close but compared to Yoongi and Hoseok, Seokjin has been his friend for the shortest amount of time. They don’t even like the same things or have the same opinions on many things but that doesn’t mean Namjoon doesn’t consider Seokjin a close friend.

          Seokjin has been his friend for the shortest amount of time but why does he feel like he’ll miss Seokjin the most? Of course he knows why but there’s no point in admitting it now, anyway. They’re going to be parting ways soon.

          He doesn’t notice how long he has been staring at Seokjin until the latter walked up to face him with a sad smile. “Do you want to ride the Ferris wheel?”

          And just like always, Namjoon agrees because he can’t say no to Seokjin no matter how hard he tries.


 

Three Months Ago

          Hoseok was standing on the makeshift stage in the middle of the running field with a megaphone in one hand as he led the stretches before the official sports event. Being the president of the sports club, he had the privilege to do so, although, in Namjoon’s opinion, he didn’t need a megaphone for him to be heard by the whole school.

          This year, Namjoon’s class has the color pink assigned to them so they prepared pink headbands and arm bands for everyone. Five girls from their class are also part of the cheerleading team so with Seulgi’s leadership, the five of them also dressed up in pink uniforms and made cheers for their class. They were no doubt going to be the best class this year.

          They were in the middle of hip circles when Seokjin jogged by his side. He was sweaty and obviously running out of breath but still he caught up with the instruction.

          “You’re late,” Namjoon whispered as he rotated his hips.

          “Yeah, I know,” Seokjin replied in between breaths. “But Jungkook made me run with him all the way here because he wanted to warm up for his event. He’s so determined to beat Chansik this year in track and field.”

          After the stretches, the event finally started. Yoongi obviously signed up for basketball and they were all cheering for him nonstop. Hoseok signed up for tennis and volleyball. Seokjin, on the other hand, decided to help out with the council and referees for a few events, choosing to skip participating any sports because he’s not really a sporty guy. Namjoon did the same by passing out energy drinks to his classmates.

          Without a doubt, their class did bag most of the major events and even if the other classes win a couple of games, their class are so far ahead. Then the afternoon came for Namjoon to sit on the bleachers with Seokjin, handing a piece of corndog to his friend before sitting down.

          Namjoon watched as the runners stretched on their posts, his eyes particularly trained at Jungkook who was flexing his intimidating calves at the audience. The girls all whispered their appreciation for the sophomore which prompted Seokjin to roll his eyes.

         “They’re just inflating his ego more,” Seokjin said before taking a bite.

          Later on, Yoongi and Hoseok joined them on the bleachers.

          “This is rare for me to say but I hope your brother beats Chansik,” Hoseok said with furrowed brows.

          “Why?” Seokjin asked.

          Hoseok then tells them how arrogant Chansik has gotten after bagging gold for the past three years. Because he’s gotten popular, he also used his influence to bully a number of students. “Yesterday, I saw him and his goons make fun of Kim Taehyung. That art kid who always wears a beret?”

          “Yeah, I know him,” Seokjin supplied. “He’s friends with Jungkook. Or was until a week ago, I think?”

          “What happened?” Namjoon asked but was answered with a shrug.

          Then, the countdown began and the sound of the starting pistol echoed across the field. Each class was cheering for their respective representatives but since Namjoon’s class didn’t have one, their classmates cheered for other students. Many of them chanted ‘Chansik’.

          Not Seokjin, though. He screamed ‘Jungkook’ at the top of his lungs. Namjoon thought that Seokjin’s cheers were effective since Jungkook caught up with Chansik in no time. They were head to head as they neared the finish line and Chansik was visibly starting to worry. He tried to run faster and faster but Jungkook wasn’t giving up as well. When they reached the finish line, even for just a slight inch, Jungkook made it past Chansik and broke the latter’s streak.

          The sophomores from his class cheered and ran towards Jungkook but the crowd parted when someone screamed “Jeon Jungkook!” Everyone’s heads turned to the source of the sound which turned out to be Kim Taehyung running as fast as he can from the bleachers and towards Jungkook, barreling his friend down.

          There was a collective gasp that made Seokjin stand up and peer at the commotion. When the crowd cleared enough, they all saw Kim Taehyung gripping Jungkook by the collar with their lips attached in a kiss. Jungkook’s eyes bulged out of their sockets. Even Seokjin gasped.

          “My baby brother got his first kiss,” he said under his breath.

          Later, after taking celebratory pictures after their class had been declared this year’s overall champion, a few students stayed to clean up including Seokjin and Namjoon. Hoseok said he was to meet with the sports club and Yoongi with the basketball team.

          Namjoon purchased two cartons of chocolate milk from the vending machine and made his way back to their classroom where Seokjin was just finishing up but instead saw his friend staring out the window in contemplation.

          “A penny for your thoughts,” Namjoon interrupted while giving Seokjin a carton.

          Seokjin just smiled before elbowing him weakly. Hani, one of their classmates, said goodbye to them, leaving the two of them to share their chocolate milk together.

          “I kinda saw it coming,” Seokjin started, still looking out the window. “Jungkook and Taehyung. Jungkook hasn’t been invested in someone like this before.”

          “With the exception of you,” Namjoon countered.

          Seokjin snorted. “I’m his brother, I don’t count.” Seokjin took a long sip from his carton before continuing. “It’s just that, I’ve always known Jungkook since we were kids. I promised his dad that I’d take care of him like I’m his real brother but he’s been the one protecting me. I just wish I could have done more for him.”

          Namjoon moved to sit on Seokjin’s table as he too watched the setting sun. “Don’t talk like you haven’t been the one preparing his meals. Or the one who helps him with homework. You care for him just as much as he cares for you.”

          Seokjin smiles. “Yeah, I guess.” Then he chuckles. “I guess it just bums me out that he’s gotten his first kiss before I did.”

          Seokjin probably meant it as a joke to lighten up the mood. He’s never liked talking about deep topics especially with how philosophical Namjoon could get. But it doesn’t mean Seokjin’s words didn’t make Namjoon’s heart race. Or his cheeks warm up. Or his palms sweat profusely.

          “It’s not a big deal,” Namjoon almost whispered. “It’s just a kiss.”

          Seokjin turned to him with curious eyes. “You’re right. It’s not a big deal.”

          Namjoon held his stare as if waiting for something to happen. What exactly? He doesn’t know or maybe he does but wasn’t sure if it’s the right answer.

          Seokjin broke eye contact as he placed his carton of milk on his desk behind Namjoon. Then, he removed the towel around his neck to place it on Namjoon’s before he pulled it in to bring Namjoon forward.

          Namjoon was pretty sure that it was a kiss. Their lips touched for two seconds and they both had their eyes closed. It was definitely a kiss.

          “Not a big deal,” Seokjin said again as he returned the towel around his neck before he rose from his seat. He hurriedly retrieved his stuff and dashed to the door before Namjoon could catch up.


 

Present

          The Ferris wheel halted when their pod was at the very top where they could see the sea far up ahead and the orange sun setting. Seokjin continued sipping on his lemonade to try and stall himself from asking the question that has been eating him up ever since he saw Namjoon and Seulgi at the back of the gym.

          He was about to open his mouth but Namjoon beat him to it.

          “You’ve got a lot of gifts,” Namjoon remarks as he nods towards the paper bags on Seokjin’s arms. “Your uniforms is also turning black from the ink.”

          Seokjin turns to him with an inquisitive look. “You’ve got gifts, too.” It was petty, he knows. But since when did he back down from Namjoon’s challenges?

          There was a moment of silence again which Seokjin chose to retain as they felt their pod slowly descend. Seokjin didn’t turn to Namjoon and instead picked on the lint on his slacks.

          The staff greeted them a happy summer when they exited the pod.

          “It’s almost seven. I should walk you home,” Namjoon says.

          Seokjin did not protest and instead walked side by side with Namjoon as they exited the park. He purposefully turned on another corner, the one that prolongs his way home, but he doesn’t care. He needed more time with Namjoon. And if Namjoon minded, he doesn’t voice it out.

          Instead they walked until they passed their favorite bakery, until Seokjin was sipping on air, until Seokjin finally felt gutsy enough to say, “I guess Seulgi worked out the guts to confess to you.”

          “You knew about it?” Namjoon asks, surprise evident in his voice.

          Of course, Seokjin knew about it. He wasn’t the most popular kid in school but he was part of that crowd to some extent and Seulgi was nice to her. They were seatmates during senior year and sometimes Seulgi lets him in on the newest gossips. In fact, Seulgi even asks him about details about Namjoon since their newfound friendship was born.

          And Seokjin, despite playing naïve and supplying Seulgi with information, knew more than he was supposed to.

          “Honestly,” Seokjin started. “I thought she was going to confess to you on Valentine’s Day but I guess she was just waiting for the right timing.”

          “You could have warned me,” Namjoon protested.

          “I don’t think it’s a good idea to meddle with other people’s business,” Seokjin countered. “It was her feelings, not mine.”

          Internally, Seokjin laughed at how ironic his sentence was. At least Seulgi worked up the courage to confess to Namjoon despite only liking him because Namjoon was hanging out with Seokjin. He, on the other hand…

          “I have a question,” Namjoon says as they turn left at Oak Street. “You have a lot of admirers. Every event, you get gifts from people. On Valentine’s, you’ve girls confessing to you every period. But after all these years, why haven’t you accepted one?”

          There were many factors that came to play when it comes to Seokjin’s views towards people who confess their feelings for him.

First, he’s not really interested in dating since his priority was his studies. His mother wants him to be a doctor someday and he’s not going to be accepted into a good medical school if he were to slack off. For him, dating would have been a distraction.

Second, he knows jack shit about dating in the first place. He’s scared that if he does accept a confession, he might not be able to satisfy the person he’s dating because of his inexperience.

Third, his brother can be scary. Jungkook usually sets fire to the letters he receives.

And fourth…

“I already have someone I like,” Seokjin answers.

His statement stops Namjoon on his tracks which makes Seokjin look at his taller friend. “What?” Namjoon asks in disbelief.

Seokjin doesn’t know if he should laugh at the way Namjoon’s eyes bulged or the way his jaw slackened. “Yeah.” Seokjin turns and continues to walk. “But I don’t think they like me back.”


 

Four Years Ago

          The entrance ceremony wasn’t going to start for another thirty minutes but Seokjin’s mom had to drop him off because she was urgently needed at the hospital where she’s working at as a nurse. Seokjin didn’t complain and instead used his spare time to walk around the campus and familiarize himself with the surroundings.

          His high school was much bigger than his middle school. This one has a huge field and plenty of greenery that’s calming to look at. He was particularly attracted to the wisteria tree which bloomed violet. He took out his phone and snapped a couple of pictures to show Jungkook later.

          But then he heard incessant meowing coming from behind a tree and another voice that kept on cooing. Slowly, he moved his way behind the tree to see someone, a freshman, squatting down to pet three kittens inside a box.

          “It’s okay,” the student said to the kitten. “I’m gonna find you a home soon. Or maybe I can bring you home and convince mom that kittens are substantial for having a relaxing environment to study in.” Even Seokjin wouldn’t believe in that.

          Then the student stretched his legs which were longer than Seokjin anticipated then turned with the box of kittens in his hands. He briefly looked at Seokjin and flashed him a shy dimpled smile before running off into the distance. Far ahead, Seokjin could see the student waving at two new boys that arrived at the gate.

          It was the first time that Seokjin felt his heart race like crazy.


 

Present

          Namjoon swallowed the lump that formed on his throat. He anticipated it, really, for Seokjin to have liked someone. It’s not like Seokjin is a heartless robot who just happens to be handsome and kind and smart. Seokjin is a healthy human boy who just happens to be handsome and kind and smart. And, of course, he also has feelings no matter how vague they can be.

          That doesn’t cushion the blow he felt in his chest, though, when Seokjin revealed that he already has someone he likes. He shouldn’t be affected. He asked in the first place. But sometimes, Namjoon’s mouth works faster than his brain.

          “Since when have you liked them?” Namjoon asks. He realizes he must be a masochist.

          “Since freshman year.”

          “That’s a really long time,” Namjoon ponders. His crushes last only months. Well, except for one crush. But still, he can’t fully understand how someone could like one person for years and not confess.

          “Yeah,” Seokjin half-chuckles.

          When they turned at the movie rental place, Namjoon decided to walk closer to Seokjin. He doesn’t know why but he feels like if he falls back even just one step… he feels like Seokjin would just walk farther and farther away from him. They still have a few minutes before they make it to Seokjin’s house. He’s going to make the most of it. Even just for today.

          “How about you, Namjoon,” Seokjin asks. “Do you like someone?” Namjoon can’t help but hear a certain wariness in Seokjin’s tone but he knew better than to assume. He doesn’t want his own feelings to cloud his perceptions. Seokjin is his friend and he only asked because Namjoon asked first, anyway.

          “I do,” Namjoon answers as he wets his lips. “I do like someone.”

          “Is it Seulgi?” Seokjin asks again with a smaller voice, almost sounding… dejected? “I mean, I can’t blame you. Seulgi is really pretty and smart. And she’s nice, too. I mean, it would make sense if you like her. She confessed to you and you have her gift so—“

          “It’s not Seulgi,” Namjoon cuts him off before Seokjin rambles nonsense. Namjoon doesn’t like Seulgi like that. In fact, Namjoon feels indifferent about Seulgi but that’s okay. They never really had real and meaningful reactions throughout high school. Save for a few hours earlier but he doesn’t count that, still.

          “Ah,” Seokjin resigns.

          “You know, from the way you speak so highly of her, I feel like you’re the one who likes her.”

          Seokjin chokes on air and had to stop to regain his breath. “No! I don’t like her that way. We’re just friends!”

          “Are you sure?” Namjoon teases even though it kind of hurts thinking about Seokjin liking Seulgi.

          “I’m sure,” Seokjin says with finality before resuming his steps.

          When they reached the abandoned yellow house that all the kids go into during Halloween, Namjoon knows they’re about fifteen minutes away from their destination.

          If it were only up to him, he’d drag their walk just a little bit more just so he could make up his mind if he should say something, if he should let Seokjin know about the thing he has been feeling for the past few months. Is it always this difficult? He wonders if Jimin also felt the same way before he confessed to his best friends. But knowing Jimin, he probably wasn’t as nervous because he’s got that kind of face and personality that no one really rejects. As for Yoongi and Hoseok, they have been friends for years and realizing their feelings for each other and for Jimin just seals the deal. He wonders how Kim Taehyung mustered up the courage to run towards Jungkook that day when everyone knows Jungkook has the capability to snap a man in half. Did Jungkook even ask Seokjin about stuff like this before he decided to be together with Taehyung?

          He looks forward, he was once again a step behind Seokjin just like in every other aspect.

          He wasn’t popular like Seokjin, wasn’t interesting enough for the teachers or parents to like. He wasn’t too smart or too diligent unlike Seokjin who does a hundred and one percent in everything he does. He didn’t have many friends or admirers. And sometimes, it does feel like he’s going to be stuck one step behind Seokjin.

          Maybe it was a mistake, that one rainy day, when he decided to give his lunch to Seokjin. Maybe it was a mistake when he accepted Seokjin’s offer to do homework during Thursday nights or to meet up every weekend to catch a movie or eat lunch or just be in each other’s presence. Maybe if he wouldn’t have done those things, he wouldn’t have fallen.

         Ten more minutes and they’re going to be arriving at Seokjin’s place.


 

Two Days Ago

          Namjoon found his mom staring at a picture frame in his almost-emptied room. The woman had unshed tears threatening to fall from her eyes until he knocked on the door and distracted her from her thoughts.

          “What’s that?” he asked.

          Mrs. Kim turned the picture frame over to reveal an old picture of Namjoon, Yoongi, and Hoseok during a family trip when they were five. Namjoon and Hoseok were captured with bright smiles as they tried to bury an equally beaming Yoongi under the sand.

          “One moment you guys are crying over unchanged diapers, the next you’re gonna separate ways for college,” Mrs. Kim said with a choked sob. Namjoon made his way to his mom and hugged her tightly. He couldn’t remember those times when he was fairly shorter than his mother. Now, he let her bury her face on his chest as she started to cry.

          “It’s okay, Mom. It’s not like we’re not gonna go home when we got time,” Namjoon assured as he rubbed comforting circles on his mom’s back. He decided to leave the picture with his mom so she’d have something to look back to when she misses them.

          They continued putting in Namjoon’s things into labelled boxes set to be transported to his new dorm. His mom had to slap him a few times when she realized that half of the things they’ll be transporting are only clothes. But Namjoon argued that he had to look his best for college and that silenced her for another hour before she grumbles again about the generation’s fashion sense.

          The last item they encountered was the tomato lamp that Seokjin gave him for his birthday. It was a funny little thing.

          Mrs. Kim looked at her son knowingly. “You know, if you want, you can invite Seokjin over for dinner after the ceremony tomorrow. He and his family. I’ve yet to properly introduce myself.”

          Namjoon turned to her with a concerned look. “Uhm… His mom actually has tight shifts at the hospital so…”

          “Then, just Seokjin and his brother,” Mrs. Kim insisted.

          “I’m sure they have plans, Mom.”

          Namjoon was immensely surprised when his mother flicked him in the forehead and then clicked her tongue in disappointment. “You and your dad are the same.” She exited the room to go downstairs. “Both idiots!”


 

Present

          Seokjin counted slowly in his head. He knows that in five minutes, he’ll be home and he’s going to lose his last chance to finally confess. But he just couldn’t bring himself to turn around and just face his greatest fear.

          Seokjin has accepted by now that Namjoon doesn’t like him the way Seokjin likes him simply because they are friends. They haven’t even been friends for a full year. Besides, he’s sure that Namjoon probably likes girls. Or at least, he’s never expressed an interest in boys. Or in Seokjin in particular, so he’s quite certain that if he confesses now, things would change. They wouldn’t be the same friends anymore. And Seokjin doesn’t really like that. Their interactions would be lessened with college coming their way and he doesn’t want to make things worse for them.

          Then again, if Namjoon did reject him now, he’d maybe move on easier in a new environment where no one knows him. Maybe. It doesn’t help the fact that Seulgi’s going to the same university as Namjoon but why would he care, right?

          No, he cares a lot. A lot. A lot.

          When Seokjin looks up ahead, he could see the green paint of their house’s gate and immediately, he stops from his tracks. His breathing got heavier and he quickly blinked back the tears that were threatening to fall.

          “Everything okay?” Namjoon asks.

          Seokjin knows full well that he’ll miss Namjoon’s deep voice when he asks him if he’s okay or if he’s eaten or if he’s ever contemplated about the possibility that aliens exist. He’ll miss Namjoon’s comforting scent because even if Yoongi teases him about it, Namjoon would never trade his vanilla body wash for anything stronger just to prove his masculinity. He’d miss the way Namjoon looks at him with concern. He’d miss his dimpled smiles.

          He’d miss Namjoon. Everything about Namjoon.

          “Do you like boys?” Seokjin mentally slaps himself at the weird question.

          “Huh?”

          Seokjin blinks hard but doesn’t turn towards Namjoon. “You heard me.”

          It took a second for Namjoon to respond. Seokjin felt Namjoon circle around to face him but his eyes were on his leather shoes. “Would you mind if I said yes?”

          “No,” Seokjin answers truthfully because it’d be very hypocritical of him if he said yes.

          “Okay,” Namjoon says under his breath.

          A few tensed moments passed with just them standing there, Seokjin with his eyes on the ground and Namjoon waiting for Seokjin to do something, anything. But he didn’t. He just continued staring at his shoes, counting how many scratches were on the surface of the leather.

          “Jinnie, I feel like you’re trying to tell me something,” Namjoon presses on. “But I don’t really understand what you mean.”

          That nickname again. It came out of nowhere during Valentine’s Day when the two of them decided to watch a shitty romcom in Namjoon’s room while their friends went out on dates. Namjoon somehow convinced him to drink beer but as it turns out, Namjoon was too much of a lightweight that Seokjin called it a day before Namjoon starts throwing up on him.

          But Namjoon, in his drunken stupor, grabbed his hand and pulled him in. He snaked an arm around Seokjin’s waist and said “Stay with me, Jinnie. Stay with me here.”

          That was the first time he slept over on a friend’s house much to Jungkook’s annoyance. They even argued the morning he went home. He said that “It’s just Namjoon,” to which Jungkook countered with, “Exactly! It’s because it’s Namjoon!”

          Seokjin didn’t understand what Jungkook meant. How did his brother see Namjoon? Was there anything to see at all and why does it feel like he’s the only one who didn’t get the memo?

          “College is going to start soon,” Seokjin starts. “We’re not going to be the same friends anymore, huh?”

          “I guess,” Namjoon agrees with a sad voice.

          It was the last confirmation that Seokjin needed to push through with whatever unplanned plan he just came up with. Maybe it’d be easier for him to move on if Namjoon agrees that they’re not going to be the same anymore.

          With whatever courage’s left in him, Seokjin looked up to see Namjoon staring at him with sad eyes. “Namjoon, I…” he bites his lips, willing the words to spill out before it’s too late.

          Even if it’s too late.

          “I like you.”

          “What?” Seokjin asks with wide eyes and slackened jaw. “What?”

          Namjoon moves forward with his hands on either side of Seokjin’s face. “I’m sorry that I’m such an idiot and I’m only telling you now but I like you. As more than a friend and it’s okay if you don’t like me back but I just had to tell you so I wouldn’t have any regrets.”

          “Joonie…” Seokjin starts, realizing now that he was scared for nothing and just a little bit annoyed that Namjoon beat him to confessing.

          Seokjin moves his hands and places them over Namjoon’s before he surges forward and kisses Namjoon fully on the lips. It wasn’t like the last time they kissed (or the first time they did). This didn’t last two seconds. It wasn’t a mere touching of the lips.

          It was not ‘not a big deal’.

          Because Namjoon pressed their lips deeper after overcoming his initial shock. And he snaked his arms on Seokjin’s waist just as Seokjin’s arms made it into Namjoon’s neck. They kissed with intention, with every unspoken word and emotion that they have been keeping for years and months. And suddenly, Seokjin wasn’t just the kid who spilled his lunch that rainy day. And Namjoon wasn’t just the kid who cooed at tiny kittens on their first day.

          Suddenly, they’re both two people in love and too scared about nothing and everything at the same time.

          When they broke the kiss, they didn’t part too much, just enough so they could rest on each other’s foreheads and their lips still brushed when they breathe.

          “I’m sorry for taking so long,” Seokjin apologizes, making Namjoon chuckle.

          “You have nothing to apologize for,” Namjoon assures.

          They finally opened their eyes and looked at each other, taking in every delicate feature, every eyelash and freckle. And they just smiled because they were too happy to say anything.

          Once more, they kissed until Seokjin complained of the paper bags that weighed his arms down.

          It was getting dark so they took the remaining five minutes and stood in front of the gate.

         “I don’t know what happens next from here,” Seokjin says with worry. “But if you’re willing to try this I—“

          “I’m very much willing,” Namjoon says before pulling Seokjin by the waist suddenly and kissing him deeply again as if he doesn’t want to say goodbye (If it were only up to him, he really didn’t want to anyway).

          “Okay, then,” Seokjin says before placing one last kiss on Namjoon’s lips. “Then, maybe we should start somewhere. I know you’re moving your things tomorrow so maybe I could help and figure things out?”

          “Sure,” Namjoon replies, plotting in his mind how he’d hold Seokjin’s hand on their drive down to BHU. “And when you move, I’ll accompany you, too.”

          Seokjin hugs Namjoon and whispers in his chest, “I’m so happy.”

          “Me, too, Jinnie.”

          They looked up at each other, inching closer to kiss again like there’s no tomorrow until the gate opened prompting both of them to pull apart. Jungkook stepped out as usual and looked at his brother.

          “You’re late again,”

          “Sorry, was saying good bye to my boyfriend.”

          Seokjin expects Jungkook to lash out or even punch Namjoon because that’s what he would have done months ago. Instead, Jungkook looks at Namjoon and says, “Finally, idiot.” Then he steps inside as if nothing happened.

          “Uhm…” Namjoon stares at the closed gate. Then he turns to Seokjin who was opening it again to step in. “So, boyfriend?”

          Seokjin rolls his eyes, pulls Namjoon by the collar and kisses him again. “You really are an idiot.”

          “Your idiot.”