Chapter 1: before
“how can you love me so much?”
“because i do.”
“even though i’ve hurt you so many times? jungkook, i’m not good for you, not good enough for you, and i never will be. you deserve someone who—”
“—jimin, listen. that’s the beauty of love. it’s forgiving.”
it's gotten to the point where it's normal.
excusable. understandable. acceptable.
jimin knows that aidan hates it when he hangs out with jungkook alone. calls him a fucking slut and delivers a blow to his jaw, because aidan knows, so well at this point, that it's the easiest way to bring jimin to the ground, has even rendered him unconscious on a couple occasions. but jimin doesn't even have time to register the pain before the older is on his knees in front of him, gathering the younger into his arms, eyes wide with regret.
"i'm sorry, baby," aidan will tell him. "i didn't mean it. you know i don't. i just hate it when you're alone with people who clearly want you."
and jimin will just smile softly, and tell him "i know. you're just looking out for me."
because that's what you do when you're in love.
"how have you been, min? i haven't seen you at all this week, and you usually come into the café at least once a week."
jimin looks back at aidan's sleeping form, making sure he's not awake, then proceeds to quietly close the door behind him as he slips out of the room. the call is going to have to be short, because aidan hates waking up alone, and ever since he's started spending more and more hours at the office with his current case, he likes to spend as much time as he can with jimin.
and who is he to blame the busy lawyer for that?
"i've been spending time with aidan, hyung. his current case is taking up a lot of his time, and he likes to spend his free time with me as much as he can. you get it, don't you?"
seokjin should. his hyung's boyfriend, namjoon, is another lawyer at the firm where aidan works—it's how they were able to meet in the first place. seokjin had asked jimin and jungkook to accompany him to a company dinner, a little over two years ago, knowing that the offer of free food was a no brainer for any college student that was sick and tired of their dining halls.
jungkook stayed with seokjin, trying to sneak leftovers into the tupperware containers he'd brought with him, even though he was perfectly capable of hiring a personal, michelin starred chef to recreate the entire meal they'd had that night.
jimin left with aidan, a little tipsy and a lot more intrigued by the tall, handsome man with a shiny rolex on his wrist who kept calling him pretty.
"yeah, i do. but still, we miss you. i bet if it weren't for the group chat, you wouldn't be up to date with all that's been happening."
jimin swallows down the lump in his throat. he hasn't been able to take a good look at it in a while, especially since aidan takes his phone to work with him, so that jimin isn't distracted from his studies by it. jimin has a laptop, but aidan has set it up in a way where jimin can't access the settings to change them at all. and when jimin does have access to his phone, it's limited, because aidan absolutely hates it when jimin is doing something else while they're together.
"uh.. i haven't really looked at it lately, hyung. could you bring me up to date?"
there's a heavy silence on the other side of the line before seokjin sighs. "well, for starters, yoongi is thinking of proposing to tae. which you'd know if you took, i don't know, maybe five minutes out of your busy day to check in."
jimin's stomach churns at seokjin's tone. he hates having people upset at him, having always been a bit of a people-pleaser, and the older knows this.
"o-oh. well, that's... nice. i haven't seen either of them in a while," jimin finishes awkwardly.
"it's been almost a month, minnie. none of us have seen you since august." seokjin sounds tired when he says this, and it makes a little bit of panic flare up in jimin's chest.
aidan is right. jimin's never going to be good enough to be a permanent fixture in someone's life that isn't his boyfriend's. who else is going to love someone as plain and boring as he is?
"i'm sorry, okay? i just. it's really hard for me to keep up with everything. i never thought—"
"—that having a boyfriend would be this much work? jimin, that's the excuse you use nearly every single time. if you don't want us to reach out to you anymore, let me know so i can tell the others," seokjin interrupts abruptly. "and please stop pulling the boyfriend card. i have one, hoseok has one, yoongi has one... and jungkook has a girlfriend. you can always make time for the people you love."
when seokjin hangs up, jimin can only stare at the wall in front of him, trying to let the feeling of the bedroom door against his back ground him.
he wants to call seokjin back. please, don't leave me alone, he wants to tell him. it's always so cold here. i miss the warmth of being in your company.
but then his mind goes back to the last thing seokjin told him.
since when does kookie have a girlfriend?
jimin met jungkook when he joined the dance team as a freshman. the older was a junior, struggling to balance two jobs to pay the rent of his shitty apartment in brooklyn, all while being a biochemistry major on the pre-med track.
the younger had been an absolute godsend. they bonded quickly over their many similarities, and two months into their friendship, jungkook asked jimin if he wanted to be his roommate.
jimin had said yes immediately, knowing he would go crazy if he spent any more time in his apartment—roaches were a standard anywhere in the city, and it wasn't like they were little ones. no, these were big. and they could fly. jimin was scared to walk under trees at night after one encounter where one had, quite literally, fallen out of the sky and attached itself to his leg.
jungkook came to pick up jimin, for convenience, pulling up in a glossy, black mercedes.
"who'd you steal this from?" jimin joked.
jungkook had laughed, nose scrunching adorably. "that's what you're worried about? if i were you, i'd be freaking out over the fact that the first time you come over to my place is to stay."
jimin rolled his eyes. "jungkook, you always insisted you wanted to come over to mine because you love my neighbor's cat. and anyways, i think we've established how we're actually the same exact person. i trust you, okay?"
"whatever you say, hyung," the younger replied.
the traffic was horrible, as it always was in the city, and jimin brought up the fact that they probably would've already been at jungkook's place if they'd taken the subway.
"while carrying all your shit? yo, i thought you were smart, jimin," jungkook teased.
but all the joviality was soon wiped off of jimin's face when he realized where jungkook lived.
"you live in a penthouse? jungkook... you... i... why didn't you say so?"
"i didn't think it was important?"
"i can't pay my half of rent to live here! if this is your sick idea of a joke, good job. you got me!"
"jimin, listen to me. i'm not playing any sort of joke on you. i really do want you to live here, with me. and you don't have to worry about rent. my parents actually bought this a while ago, even before they knew i was going to come to new york for school."
and that had been it. jimin still complained from time to time about the fact that he was living somewhere for free, but having a roommate, someone else to help out with chores and buying groceries, among other things, was very nice.
jungkook's girlfriend is beautiful.
that's all jimin can think about as he finds himself at jungkook's penthouse, once also his, only a few hours after his phone call with seokjin. the older had sent him a text saying that they'd be gathering there later that afternoon, to celebrate the completion of what would be yoongi's next album. he said it would be nice if jimin could join them.
he'd expected aidan to refuse to allow him to go out, but after a thorough search of jimin's phone and jungkook's instagram page—to confirm that the other did, in fact, have a girlfriend—aidan agreed to let jimin spend some time with his friends, but only if the older both dropped and picked him up at exact times.
there'd been a bit of tension when jimin first walked into the living room after seokjin let him in, the only one who knew he was coming, but things fell into place with ease, and for a moment, jimin could pretend that nothing had changed.
but things have definitely changed. he watches from his place on what used to be his favorite armchair as jungkook lays with his head in his girlfriend's lap, letting her play with his hair.
he's grown it out to be considerably longer than he's ever had it, and jimin thinks it suits him well. it makes him look devastatingly handsome, and jimin can only think of how lucky emilia, jungkook's girlfriend, is to have him.
not just because of his physical beauty, but because jimin knows how beautiful jungkook's heart and soul are as well.
jungkook, who would bring jimin coffee without fail during midterms and finals, who would climb into his bed where they would both share childhood stories when neither of them could sleep, who would always put the ladybugs he found on jimin's hands for good luck, who would always make jimin's bad days feel a little better with a single smile.
jimin gets so immersed into trying to get up to speed with what's been going on with his friends' lives, that he doesn't notice the ringing of his phone until yoongi nudges his shoulder and points it out.
aidan's name appears on the screen, and his mouth falls open when he sees the time at the top of the screen.
"i really need to go," jimin blurts, interrupting hoseok's story of his awkward run-in with his latest ex at chelsea market. "i'm so sorry, i wish i could stay longer. it was really nice to see you guys. i love you all!"
he leaves, hearing his friends' sounds of protest and disbelief at his abrupt exit. his heart thuds audibly in his chest as he runs to the elevator, frantically pressing the button. it's currently 6:46 in the evening. aidan had told him he'd be in front of jungkook's building at 6:30, and that he expected jimin to already be waiting for him.
he wrings his hands on the way down, and hopes aidan won't yell at him until they're at home. he deserves whatever punishment may come, but he just hopes it won't be in public.
like the last one, jimin thinks.
he runs out into the lobby as soon as the elevator doors open, only to crash into someone's chest.
"there you are. i was wondering if i needed to go upstairs and pick you up like some kid."
jimin's shoulders tense at the sound of aidan's voice.
"babe," he starts, trying to make his voice sound as soothing as possible.
but it backfires.
"don't 'babe' me," aidan snaps. "i gave you a time and all you had to do was abide by it. i didn't think it was a hard task, but clearly i was mistaken. i'm not your fucking parent, jimin. you know how to tell time and you have two, perfectly functional legs to take you to wherever it is you need to be."
jimin stays silent, hoping that it'll mellow out aidan's anger. he learned not to talk back a long time ago.
"i'm talking to you, jimin. i want your eyes on me when i'm speaking." aidan grabs jimin's chin and roughly tilts it up so that he can meet the taller's gaze.
they're cold. reflecting no emotion. there was a time when those eyes sparkled with kindness, with love.
jimin can't even remember when was the last time aidan's eyes showed something other than contempt.
"don't look at me like that. you know you did something wrong, jimin," aidan comes closer, and jimin can feel his hot breath on his forehead. "do you want me to think that you find your friends more important than me?"
jimin is quiet. he doesn't know what to do. this can go either one of two ways. aidan either cups his face and kisses him or—
jimin doesn't register the slap until he feels the familiar sting spread across his cheek. he sees aidan raise his hand again from the corner of his eyes, so he closes his eyes and braces himself.
the slap never comes.
but a new voice does.
"what the fuck did you just do?"
jimin's eyes open to the sight of jungkook holding aidan's arm, both men glaring at each other.
"none of your business. what i do with my boyfriend is between him and i." aidan tries to break from jungkook's hold, but fails. jimin knew his boyfriend would be unsuccessful—jungkook has been working out religiously since before they met, and while jimin has never learned of the true extent of the younger's strength, he is certain that jungkook is much stronger than aidan.
"it is my business when your boyfriend is my best friend," jungkook counters, moving closer to aidan.
aidan lets out an exasperated huff. "just let me go, okay? jimin, baby, tell him that you're fine."
jimin knows he doesn't look fine, with his red cheek and watery eyes—nor does he feel fine—but he still forces himself to say, "it's okay, jungkook. you can go back upstairs now."
please don't make this any worse than it already is. jimin observes as jungkook reluctantly lets aidan's arm go and hopes that he'll simply turn around and forget all of this ever happened.
"i'll come visit you soon, hyung. okay?"
jimin's stomach sinks.
jungkook gives him a small smile and turns around in direction of the elevator, while aidan takes hold of jimin's arm and starts to pull him towards the exit.
jimin makes eye contact with the doorman as he leaves, and there must be something awfully terrible written on his face for the elderly man to turn pale.
jungkook had almost found out pretty early on. it was all because jimin, being ever so clumsy, spilled orange juice all over himself while trying to arm wrestle with the younger at the table.
they were enjoying their last breakfast together as roommates, bringing an end to almost three years of living together.
jungkook sprung up from his seat immediately, running to the sink to grab the sponge, while jimin, not seeing the roll of napkins anywhere within arm's reach, yanked off his shirt to put on top of the spreading spill, to prevent any more juice from dripping onto the floor below him.
"you can go to the bathroom and rinse off. i'll clean up, don't—"
jungkook's sentence cut short, and jimin looked up from where he was staring at his feet to see why.
"hyung... where did you get those?"
jimin furrowed his brow quizzically. "what do you mean?"
"you have bruises, kind of where both of your clavicles are."
jimin wrapped his arms around himself on instinct. "they're... they're nothing, gguk. don't worry about it." he tried to laugh in an attempt to convince jungkook, but the sound came out sounding awkwardly forced, and it made both of them visibly cringe.
"if you say so, hyung." jungkook said slowly after a few moments, eyes reflecting the concern he wasn't verbalizing.
but how was jimin supposed to explain that everything was okay? that it's what he got for letting others dance too close to him when went out with aidan. he wasn't being careful, had put himself in a position where he could've been easily taken advantage of, and that aidan only did this to him because he cared, and would hate for anything bad to happen to jimin.
how was he supposed to say that this is so far the worst that's happened? that all aidan did was roughly slam him against the wall, hands pressed hard into his shoulders.
we've been together for a year. aidan's only gotten a little rough with me on a couple occasions, but it's not like he does it often. i'm sure it's not anything to worry about.
"i should go finish packing," jimin mumbled instead. he refused to meet jungkook's gaze as he retreated back to his room.
it wasn't until an hour had passed and jimin heard the front door open and close, telling him jungkook had left, that he allowed himself to cry.
he'd always hated lying to jungkook. especially because the younger always could tell when he did.
from the moment they met, aidan and jimin's relationship moved at a pace too fast to keep up with.
but jimin didn't mind, not at first, because never had he had someone who paid so much attention to him. someone who was so attentive to each and every one of his needs. all the spoiling jimin missed out on during his childhood was being introduced into his life with the appearance of aidan.
he was seven years older, a lawyer at a prestigious firm in the city. his life was so different from jimin's, much closer to jungkook's.
by the time they'd been dating for five months, jimin had already visited seven different countries. his friends teased him, calling him a trophy wife and asking jimin to bring them along on his next trip. jimin didn't mind—he was fine with being seen as merely a decoration, a status symbol, for his boyfriend if it meant he was being treated as he knew he deserved.
but then, aidan started insisting jimin spend less time with his friends, and more with him. he convinced jimin to quit his job at the indie bookstore he'd been working at since his freshman year of college. then, when came time for med school applications, aidan told him there was no need for him to pursue such a career when the older was perfectly capable of providing for the both of them—that was when jimin put his foot down and disagreed.
when aidan started to change shortly after that argument, jimin wasn't given the privilege of leaving.
not when he threatened to stop giving jimin's mother money. she had done so much for him. it was the least he could do.
jungkook shows up at jimin's door three days later.
jimin's first thought is to act like he's not home, but he knows jungkook to the point where he can confidently say that the younger will stand in front of the door and knock until someone, anyone, opens.
"what are you doing here?" jimin hisses as soon as he opens the door. "you need to leave."
aidan isn't due from work for several more hours, but jimin has learned to be always be ready for his boyfriend to come home at any given time.
jungkook wordlessly brushes past jimin and makes himself comfortable on the nearest couch. "i'm not going anywhere until you and i talk about what i saw on saturday."
"kookie, i'm very touched to know that you care about me, but please understand that i'm okay. that what you saw doesn't happen regularly. he just—"
"—what i saw him do to you shouldn't even be happening in the first place, hyung. and why are you making excuses for him?"
it's because he's not always like that, jimin wants to say. there are good times, too. he surprises me with new jewelry and takes me out on expensive dates, just like i always dreamed.
"i'm not making excuses for him!" he argues instead. "maybe you're just too invested in my relationship when you have your own."
jungkook groans. "jimin... jimin, listen to me. the only reason i thought it was a good idea to drive all the way over here was because this relationship has only made you drift apart from us in ways we never thought were possible. you're my best friend, jimin. i'm allowed to worry about you. and you're allowed to ask for help."
"i don't need help," jimin insists. "i'm perfectly fine. i know there's a domestic violence hotline, if that's what you're assuming."
jungkook raises his hands in surrender. "hey, i'm not assuming anything. i'm just saying that slapping your boyfriend, and in public, just isn't okay. at all."
"but i'm fine," jimin repeats, trying to make jungkook understand. "i love him and he loves me. that's all i need. take a good look at me. do i look like someone who gets hit?"
jungkook only stares at jimin with an unreadable expression in his eyes before he stands up and walks to the front door.
"i don't know, jimin. you know they say your mom didn't look like she got hit, either."
and when the door slams behinds jungkook, jimin stands motionless, his bruises throbbing under his shirt.
jimin has no memory of his father.
he left when jimin was six, and all he has of him is a picture of his parents on a date when they were in their teens, the watch he used to wear, and a mother who has to live every day with the aftermath of domestic abuse at the hands of the person who was supposed to love and cherish her always.
aidan somehow finds out about jungkook's visit. he also finds out that jungkook has broken up with his girlfriend.
"you think i don't know what he wants?" he yells at jimin. "he wants you. he wants to take you away from me. he's never had to work for anything he has in life, so he thinks it's really easy for him to just show up and want to steal my boyfriend."
jimin's backed up into a corner, can't see anything past aidan's body because that's how close he is.
"why are you acting like you're scared of me?"
"i'm... i'm not."
aidan slaps jimin, takes no hesitation before striking him for the second time.
"you know who's fault it is that i have to do this to you."
jimin stares at the floor as aidan walks away, the urge to leave starting to swallow him up whole.
aidan's mom gets diagnosed with cancer in mid october.
he's given no specific information about the situation, nor does he ask for it, but it means that aidan disappears for days at a time. when aidan comes back, though, all he does is take out his anger and frustration on the smaller. like i'm his personal punching bag, jimin muses one night, as he applies neosporin on an open cut on his left side, biting down on the collar of his shirt as to not make any noise.
aidan disappearing is nothing new. when they'd first moved in together, aidan had used it as a way to scare jimin into believing that the older was going to leave him. jimin would tearfully welcome him back, promising to stop doing whatever it was that was making aidan leave in the first place, and beg his boyfriend to never do it again.
jimin was just scared of being left alone.
currently, he sits on his favorite couch in the living room, covered in a fluffy throw that aidan brought back last time he was gone. he picks up his phone from where it lies next to him from time to time, checking to see if he's received any new text messages from his friends. aidan left earlier in the morning, pressing a kiss to jimin's forehead before placing his cell phone in his hands.
"make sure to always check it, jimin," aidan had told him. "and i expect you to be using it wisely."
jimin had been overjoyed by the fact that his connection to the outside world had been restored, and the first thing he did after aidan disappeared into the elevator with a final wave, was text his friends and invite them over. they'd all replied almost immediately—even jungkook, who jimin had assumed would still be nursing a broken heart—agreeing to come over as soon as their schedule allowed them. the last time jimin had seen any of them was a week ago, when he dropped by the café seokjin's family owns to pick up some chocolate croissants, and happened to run in to yoongi and taehyung.
before that, he'd seen them all for short brunches scattered across the weeks since they'd last all been together in jungkook's penthouse.
jimin wonders, briefly, if jungkook will pay him more attention now that he doesn't have a girlfriend.
even if he does, it doesn't matter. i have a boyfriend, who i love very, very much . his mental affirmation sounds weak, and jimin doesn't even have the strength to try to convince himself to repeat it more wholeheartedly.
at some point, in the midst of aidan's shift from the man he fell in love with, jimin has fallen out of it.
and that terrifies him, because who is he supposed to be dependent on if he no longer has aidan?
when jimin used to think about love, when he was still a wide-eyed child, captivated by the wonders of the world around him, he would often ask himself about how it felt.
did it feel like his mother running her fingers through his hair before pressing a kiss to his forehead?
did it sound like his little brother's giggles as jimin chased him around their small apartment during a game of tag?
jimin likes to think he's well-versed in the art of loving others. he's always been told he has a heart that is much too big for his body.
he's learned that love feels best when it's returned at the same intensity as gives it.
he's learned that love can hold you together when everything seems to be falling apart around you.
but right now, his whole world shaky and unstable, and aidan, the person who'll reach for him under the covers in the middle of the night and pull him closer, can't see that he's the reason for that.
a week passes.
jimin doesn't hear from aidan at all.
at first, he panics, wondering if this is aidan's way of leaving him. but then he realizes: this is his chance to be free.
jungkook texts jimin one day, while he's studying for an upcoming exam at his school's library, asking if he's available.
𝚒'𝚖 𝚊𝚕𝚠𝚊𝚢𝚜 𝚏𝚛𝚎𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚢𝚘𝚞, 𝚔𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚒𝚎. he replies. 𝚒'𝚖 𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚕𝚒𝚋𝚛𝚊𝚛𝚢 𝚛𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚗𝚘𝚠. 𝚒 𝚜𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚕𝚍 𝚋𝚎 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚍𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚒𝚗 𝚊 𝚑𝚊𝚕𝚏 𝚑𝚘𝚞𝚛. 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚘𝚔𝚊𝚢 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝?
jungkook doesn't answer, worrying jimin, but after twenty minutes, a body drops in the chair next to him and places a bag of takeout on the table.
"oh, jungkookie," jimin whispers, putting his pen down so that he can envelope his best friend in a tight hug, ignoring the way his ribs scream in pain. "what would i do without you?"
"starve," jungkook jokes in a low voice. "you want to go outside and eat? it's really nice out."
and that's what they do.
jimin feeds jungkook some of his sandwich, and jungkook laughs when jimin takes a sip of his kombucha.
"that shit is nasty. i don't know how you even like it."
"it's good for you, hyung," jungkook laughs. "it gets better with time."
"who the fuck thought making a vinegar drink was a good idea?" jimin mutters, raising his arm so that he can use his sleeve to wipe his mouth, and jungkook bursts out laughing again.
"i don't know, actually. but whoever it was, i would like to know so that i can—"
jimin shoots jungkook a confused look when the younger stops mid sentence, his doe eyes wide and swimming with an emotion jimin can't decipher. "hey, you okay?"
jungkook responds with reaching out and gently grabbing jimin's arm, slowly starting to push up the sleeve.
jimin realizes immediately what jungkook's doing, and immediately takes his arm out from the younger's grasp. "what are you doing?" he hisses.
"jimin, i know you know what i saw. and don't even try to make up another excuse for that piece of shit. i tried my hardest to not intervene, hoping that you would reach out to us first, but i'm tired of waiting. i drive myself a little crazy over thinking if you're safe when i'm not with you."
jungkook's voice is shaky, and it causes jimin's stomach to lurch. "the others... they know?"
"that's what you're worried about? jimin, i've had dreams where you die at the hands of that man. you do realize how dangerous this situation is, right?" jungkook's eyes are sparkling with unshed tears.
jimin knows how much jungkook hates crying.
"i'm not... i'm not going to die, kook."
there have been moments when i hope that the hit he's about the deliver is going to be my last, is what he wants to say.
"jimin... i really don't know how it is i'm supposed to talk to you about this, but i just can't anymore."
panic settles in jimin's stomach. he's going to leave you. he's sick and tired of you. he's going to leave you and take all of the rest of your friends with him. he's going to leave you with aidan and then you're never going to—
"don't leave me," jimin begs. "please. i... i don't know what to do, either. all i know is that i need you here, with me."
aidan comes back after two weeks unrecognizable, to the sight of jimin's suitcases at the door.
"what are you doing, jimin?" he'd demanded immediately.
"i'm leaving," jimin had replied, trying his hardest to not let his voice show how nervous he was. it wasn't his first time threatening to leave aidan, but every single time before had ended terribly.
"jimin... you can't leave me. my mom is so sick. who's supposed to take care of me if you leave me?"
the younger's eyes fill up with tears. if he can exit through that door, then he'll be one step closer to being free.
"you have your siblings, aidan. they'll be able to understand you in ways i can't and never will."
"baby, don't do this to me." aidan falls to his knees at jimin's feet, and wraps his arms around jimin's legs. "you can't leave me when i love you so much. we're supposed to be together forver, remember?"
his sobs are loud, and they rack his body enough that jimin starts to feel unsteady on his feet. he wasn't expecting something like this from aidan, and it makes him feel like the world's worst person all of a sudden.
no, jimin. you need to get out, remember?
"aidan, i need you to let go of me, please?"
"no! i'll... i'll kill myself if you leave me. you can't. i won't be able to bear it."
jimin starts to frantically look around the place, as though someone is going to randomly pop out and help him.
"aidan, please," jimin pleads, vision starting to get blurry from the tears that haven't spilled yet. "i need to go."
the older is still for a few moments. jimin is about to lean down to see what he's doing, when aidan looks up, a murderous expression reflected in his eyes.
"i said you're not fucking leaving."
jungkook is roused from his sleep by the sound of his ringtone.
he groggily reaches for his phone, from where it's charging on his nightstand. he squints at the sudden brightness, brows furrowing at the display telling him it's an unknown caller. he's tempted to decline the call and go back to sleep, but something tells him to answer.
"j-jungkook? is that you?"
jungkook sits up at the sound of jimin's quavering voice on the other side of the line, mind racing with all the possible reasons why the older is calling him at four in the morning.
"jimin? jimin, where are you? are you okay?"
there's silence, and jungkook starts to grow agitated.
"please come save me."
jimin has never been in the emergency room before in his life.
he zones out as the doctor tells jungkook all that's wrong with him now. all that's wrong with him after avoiding his yearly check-ups, and anything that required seeing a medical professional, out of fear that he would be found out.
the drive back to jungkook's penthouse is short and quiet, and jimin lets his mind drift.
"wait, jungkook." jimin jolts forward, ignoring the stab of pain at his side. "my mom... my mom! we need to go get her. aidan could hurt her, he always said he could, and i don't want anything to happen to her. what if he kills her? jungkook, we need to go back. we need to—"
"—jimin," jungkook interjects, voice soft and soothing. "your brother helped me move her and some of her things to my place while we were at the er."
"wait," jimin tries to control his breathing. "really?"
"yes, i promise you that she'll be there when we get home."
home. it's been a while since jimin has heard that word used to refer to a space shared by jungkook and him.
"and he won't be able to get inside? he knows where your building is."
"i made sure that he won't. if it makes you feel any better, there's also a security guard posted right outside my door, and he'll remain there until we're able to get a restraining order."
jimin's heartbeat slows at jungkook's words. "it does. you're the best, jungkookie. you know that, right?"
"of course i do."
it's not like jimin expected that by leaving aidan, everything would be okay.
the night he called jungkook, he'd been almost certain that that was it for him. there'd be a huge story on the news about the body found in a condo in lennox hill in the morning, and that would be how his family and friends would find out about his death.
it's been a month, and jimin still wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
when jimin mentions it to jungkook in passing one morning, as he's getting ready to go to class, the younger's demeanor changes entirely.
"do you not feel safe? is the restraining order not enough? or did you want your mom to stay for a little longer?"
jimin laughs. "no, i feel safe, especially when i'm here with you. i know my mom is safe, too. i just think this is more... psychological."
"oh. right. well, i think getting help is the best decision you could ever take. whatever it is you decide to do, or whoever it is you decide to seek, know you have all of my support."
his therapist ends up being a small, round faced woman with a voice that reminds him of his mother's.
he doesn't really talk at all during his first session, mostly stares at his hands and picks at a loose string on his sweater.
"thank you, jimin. i'll see you next week," she tells him at the end of the hour as she walks him to the door.
there's something in her voice that tells jimin that today wasn't a failure entirely, and that gives him hope.
jimin starts to reintroduce a social life into his daily routine. it's been a while since he's had the liberty of choosing who he gets to see, when and where he gets to see people, as well as for how long. it makes him feel a little uneasy at first, like he's doing a bad thing, but jungkook is always there to reassure him.
they go out at night, with the rest of their friend group. they don't stay out as late as they used to anymore, but it's still a fun experience for jimin. he always loved going out, especially when he knew that the night would include drinking and dancing.
aidan hadn't allowed jimin to drink after they moved in together, and jimin worried that his first taste of alcohol in some time would cause some sort of negative effects. to his relief, it doesn't, but he doesn't want to take any chances, so he never gets drunk. only drinks enough to feel a warm buzz through his body.
during his nights out, he watches as taehyung and yoongi dance together, while simultaneously trying not to get crush. he laughs at hoseok's blatant flirting with anyone who shows interest in him. he pretends he doesn't see when seokjin leads namjoon to the bathroom, both of them drunkenly giggling.
"what are you thinking about tonight, huh?"
you, is jimin's first thought as he turns to face jungkook. the younger always stays sober whenever they go out. jimin knows it's because he's scared of something happening and him not having the capability to act, but jungkook says it's because he doesn't want jimin to feel left out in a group of drunk people.
"everything," he says instead.
"what's that supposed to mean?"
"i don't know," jimin replies. "i'm still trying to figure it out. i'm still learning."
jungkook woke up at around ten in the morning to a loud series of knocks at the front door. he sat up and looked around his living room with confusion before remembering that he had fallen asleep on his couch at some point, waiting for jimin to come back from his night out.
he was greeted by the sight of a smiling jimin once he opened the door, immediately tackled into a hug thereafter.
“jungkookie,” jimin started in an exaggerated stage whisper, followed by a set of airy giggles. “i did a bad thing.”
the younger laughed at the older’s words as he walked them backwards into their apartment. “what did you do now, hyung?” he asked as he closed the door behind them and followed jimin into the kitchen.
“i think i'm in love," jimin said simply as he pulled out their brita from the fridge.
jungkook’s stomach churned uncomfortably at jimin’s words. “oh really?”
jimin hummed in agreement, setting the pitcher down and going to look for a cup. “he thought i was pretty. kept calling me… he kept calling me a fairy.”
“o-oh. well... i think that’s great, hyung. i take it you had a good night?”
jimin giggled. “the best. and he asked me on a date for later tonight. can you believe it? i thought i was too ugly for dates.”
jungkook doesn’t have the heart to tell jimin that the reason he hasn’t been asked on dates lately is because everyone thinks that the two of them are a couple, and he was counting on that to give him a little extra time to gather the courage to confess.
“are you going to go?”
jimin pours himself some water, and drinks all of it before answering. “of course i am, kookie. i’d be a fool not to, don’t you think?”
“yeah,” jungkook agreed, physically feeling his chance with jimin slip out of grasp.
edit: i've been super busy with midterms and all things involved with them to add this final note, but i saw a lot of confusion in the comments, so sorry about that! anyways, jikook is endgame and the final scene is supposed to be jimin coming back home after meeting aidan and spending the night with him. sorry again !!