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the wind rises (we must try to live)

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When A Typical Trainee’s Christmas starts playing, the whole room erupts in laughter. Seokjin laughs when he sees Jungkook jump in his seat, throwing his head back and his hair flopping around. Unconsciously, his eyes fall on Namjoon. His eyes always fall on Namjoon. He stops laughing but he smiles just as wide. Namjoon returns it too, making his dimple impossibly deep in his cheeks and his eyes close cutely.

Seokjin wishes he could share some old stories about those days like they usually do when the subject comes up, but with a room full of cameras and crew members, he figures it’s not the best idea. Namjoon must think so too, because he nods slightly at him, as if telling him he understands the dilemma of sharing how dorky they used to be so their friends could kindly make fun of them, versus endangering everything they’ve worked so hard towards.

Hoseok seems to catch onto their muted conversation and smiles too - well he probably knows all the stories at this point. Maybe they like to talk about them a lot. Maybe for Seokjin it’s because he misses it a lot.

As he watches his friends sing and dance along to more of their old songs, all of them radiating the comfortable warmth he has grown to rely on after years of living and sharing every moment of his life with them, Seokjin feels incredibly fortunate that things ended so sweetly between them. The fact that he gets to enjoy that moment, that he gets to enjoy looking at Namjoon jumping up and down to the beat without any aftertaste, without any lingering bitterness in his mouth - it makes him feel proud.

He has this theory that because they’ve only ever said “I love you” once, it was easier to break up. Just slightly easier. He also has this theory that because they loved each other so much, breaking up didn’t feel as heartbreaking as it should have been. The breakup had been clean, no shouting, no crying. Just them saying goodbye. Getting together was a lot less clear to him. At the time they didn’t say they were dating - not to anyone, not to themselves. They just held hands, hung around each other, kissed. It came naturally, like the unavoidable flow of a river. But Seokjin supposes that rivers always come back to the sea one way or another. The inevitable flow of life.

When the song changes, Namjoon calms down for a second and looks at him from across the table. His chest falls hard after each breath, a smile stuck on his face. He squints his eyes a little and tilts his head to the side, silently asking Seokjin what’s wrong. The older smiles wholeheartedly and shakes his head a little. Later, he mouths. Namjoon keeps looking at him for a second but then Jimin sits up on his chair to start singing and the moment is lost.

 

Seokjin is always surprised when people listen to him. He thinks it’s because he’s always joking around, always trying to lighten the mood that people tend to forget that he’s serious at times. He can’t bring himself to blame them when his own behaviour makes them react that way. Not everyone though. The people closest around him have picked up on that behaviour and he’s more grateful for it than he would ever let on. Namjoon is probably the best at it.

So when Seokjin sneaks out of his room, trying his best not to wake Hoseok up, and walks outside to the patio, he’s still surprised to see Namjoon in the living room, leaning against the back of the couch.

“Ah hyung,” he says with a smile that warms Seokjin more than the three layers he has on. “I was wondering if you were coming after all.”

He offers Namjoon a sorry smile as he stops in front of him. "Sorry, I didn't know you were waiting." 

"Of course I was." He replies seriously. "I always am." Too seriously. 

Seokjin fiddles with his hands. "Do you wanna go outside? Look at the stars?" 

"We can see them from here?" 

Seokjin shrugs, making his way to the sliding windows. "Not sure, probably not as well as in the observatory but still better than in Seoul." He opens the window, letting a cloud of cold air engulf him. "It's cold outside, are you warm enough?" He asks without turning around. 

Namjoon hums as he follows close behind him. "I like the cold. Dinner made me too hot." 

"Yeah, you were dancing your heart out!" Seokjin replies with a wide smile, settling on one of the sun lounger on the patio. Namjoon only takes a second to join him after he closes the window. 

"It was nice," he says. "Reminiscing old times."

"Don't talk like an old man, that is my privilege." 

"Yet you can't be bothered to act your age," Namjoon snaps back, fondness clear in his voice. 

Seokjin turns his head to his side and smiles. "Being old is a state of mind." 

"Is that why you decide to be baby?" 

Seokjin instantly turns red. There's still a chill that goes down his spine every time Namjoon calls him that. They both know about it, probably no one else does. Seokjin thinks it's better to keep it that way, it's fun sharing embarrassing stories of being nerds and dating your best friend until you feel some of the feelings still alive and breathing under your skin. 

Namjoon calling him "baby" just sets him back years ago, makes him relive the walks down Han river late at night, the unaddressed pinky fingers linking on the bus back to their dorm, the hours spent in Namjoon's studio, making music, studying for their classes, studying each other. 

No, while Seokjin likes to reminisce, he thinks there are some things that deserve to stay hidden out of sight. Caged in his chest, somewhere between his ribs. 

He does his best to appear unaffected, but it ultimately fails. Instead of sending back a sarcastic remark, Seokjin stutters his way through a shaky "N-n-no" and gives up, suddenly becoming fascinated by the shape of the moon behind the thin clouds.  

"Sorry," Namjoon whispers. "Yeah that was a bit much." 

Seokjin gulps. He shrugs the best he can, he can't tell if Namjoon noticed it or not. "It's alright. I am baby after all." 

"Just not my baby," he hears Namjoon whisper in the wind. 

The breeze picks up, as if finding renewed energy from Namjoon's unsaid wish. Seokjin feels it pounding in his chest. The lines of the moon get more and more blurry the longer he stares at them. 

"It's too cloudy for stars," Namjoon says, breaking the silent with a soft voice that will never not sound like honey to Seokjin's ears. 

He looks up from the moon, neck bending so much it hurts a little. It's a good kind of hurt though, one that you get because your muscles are getting stretched just the right way.

The clouds look white under the moonlight. It barely feels like nighttime. Like a strange hybrid between dawn and dusk, where time doesn't really exist and you can convince yourself that you're the only person left on Earth. 

"Yeah," he breathes out. "That's disappointing." 

"The clouds are beautiful though. It's like cloud watching in black and white." 

Seokjin turns his head towards Namjoon again, pressing it into the back of his chair. He's about to say something but Namjoon asks him first, eyes still glued to the moon watching over them. 

"What did you want to talk about?"

The moonlight makes Namjoon's skin shine brighter than the sun.

"Nothing much. The end of Bon Voyage made me melancholic." 

Namjoon finally turns to his side. He doesn't even seem surprised to find his gaze falling on Seokjin already staring at him. He just… he just smiles and Seokjin suddenly wishes things had turned out differently.

"Nostalgic too?" Seokjin nods. "Yeah, me too."

The wind blows past them again and Seokjin thinks he'd be cold if it wasn't for the heat in his cheeks. 

"Remember the Miyazaki movie we went to see when it came out… I think in 2013, a little after debut?" 

Namjoon nods, taking the opportunity of the shift to fold more on himself, dragging his knees to his chest. He looks small and Seokjin just wants to wrap his arms around him and make good use of his overly large shoulders again. 

"Yeah I remember," Namjoon mumbles and the night carries his words to Seokjin's ears. " The Wind Rises. "

"Yes!" Seokjin shouts a little too excitedly, and slaps a hand in front of his mouth to shut himself up and not wake their friends. Namjoon giggles at how big his eyes grew. "There's a line from a poem at the beginning," Seokjin goes on a lot quieter. " The wind rises, we must try to live. "

Namjoon nods. "I remember. You really liked it." 

Seokjin's cheeks turn impossibly more pink. "I did. I still think about it every time I feel the wind. It makes me feel like I'm riding waves of air, like my hair is floating around in that Studio Ghibli style." He pauses, studying Namjoon's quiet smile. "It makes me feel alive."

Namjoon frees his right hand from around his legs and sticks it out in Seokjin's direction. Palm up to the sky, inviting and reassuring. Seokjin has never seen a threat so peaceful. 

He turns around to his left side, facing Namjoon completely. His hand reaches out to Namjoon's outstretched fingers but he can't quite get to them. He tries and grunts a little as he mentally tries to make his bones grow a few centimeters. Namjoon just laughs, and it feels like the stars have finally shined through the clouds. He moves his chair closer to Seokjin's, sends him a smirk that says "I really have to do everything around here", and his hand is asking for Seokjin again. 

Seokjin didn't use to have a thing for hands. Well he still doesn't, he thinks he just has a thing for Namjoon's hand. Looking at other people's hands used to remind him of his own crooked fingers, of the kind of things he could never have. But he never felt envious of Namjoon's hands, he never felt like their sole existence was the taunt him, to remind him that he was different. Namjoon's hand are just there, palm up to the starless sky, waiting to close around Seokjin's fingers. 

It also doesn't help how big they are compared to Seokjin's. And how it's the most simple kind of skin on skin contact they could have but it still sends electricity to their cores. Seokjin still feels the electricity when he lets his fingers drag against Namjoon's palm until the younger's fingers wrap around his wrist. The electricity never left, the slight burning of a touch that was usually too dangerous to revel in. But Seokjin can tell that it's a different kind of electricity. While it used to be more static than anything, sharp bolts of wonder every time their fingers brushed past each other - now it's more delicate. It's like the spark they create turns into an incandescent fire burning through their veins. 

"We had a good run, didn't we?" Namjoon cuts through Seokjin's train of thought and leaves him staring at him, mouth a little open as he tries to make sense of who he is again. 

"What do you mean?" 

"When we were together," Namjoon explains. "We were good, right?" 

Seokjin smiles. The fire in his veins reaches his heart. "The best." 

"Hyung," Namjoon starts with a small voice - and somehow Seokjin already knows what's coming. But he doesn't have the willpower to stop it.  "You remember that video we did on one of our dates?" 

"How could I forget! PD-nim didn't allow us in the studio for a week after that." 

Namjoon smiles, it makes his eyes disappear and his teeth shine a little. When it comes to Namjoon, Seokjin sometimes thinks he even has a thing for teeth. 

"You remember how exhilarating that was? Being together and broadcasting it but not really?" 

Seokjin rolls his eyes and lets out a falsely exasperated sigh. "It was your idea if I remember correctly. Adrenaline junky that you were, just couldn't sit still had to do something about everything." 

Namjoon chuckles, hiding his face behind his free hand. Oh how Seokjin loves it when he manages to make Namjoon shy. 

"I know but… you rolled with it. I can't be the only one to blame, you were supposed to be my voice of reason."

"Eh, I was always weak for you. Would have let you get away with anything." 

Namjoon squeezes his hand and he doesn't have to say anything- Seokjin gets him. And he giggles. "I am still weak for you now," he whispers at the sky, hoping the wind will carry his words. 

Namjoon sinks in on his chair, squishing his cheek against it. Seokjin stares at it for a little too long, from thinking about how it used to be his favourite part of Namjoon, to wondering if he could kiss it again now- that's usually when his train of thoughts needs to be stopped. 

"We were legends," he simply says. His chest feels heavy. They really were something. 

"Do you-" 

"Are you sure you want to ask, Namjoon ?" Seokjin's throat feels dry as he squeezes the words out of him. Sometimes his own willpower surprises him. 

Namjoon's index moves around Seokjin's wrist until it's pressed against the veins and he can feel the older's heart beating through the liquid fire in his blood.

He's always done this, Seokjin remembers. Namjoon has always tried to get physically close to his heart. He would lay his head on Seokjin's chest for hours, not letting him free until he had his heartbeat engraved in his bones. When they held hands, Namjoon's hands were always so big that he could drag his thumb over Seokjin's wrist and - much liked he's doing now - let the thin skin at the tip of his finger bump against Seokjin's pumping blood softly.

They've never talked about this - like most small things in their relationship. Partially because they were too young to notice or find the words, mostly because they didn't have time. 

Seokjin closes his eyes and relishes on the familiar touch. He thinks Namjoon has never heard his regular heartbeat. The way his heart wakes up when it's around Namjoon, when it seems to remember that it's alive and healthy and its job is to pump blood so suddenly it has to over achieve. Namjoon makes his heart beat so fast Seokjin used to think it would bounce out of his chest. Now it just feels like the wind against his ears - it makes him feel alive. 

"Do you sometimes wish we could go back in time," Namjoon asks, voice low, so low it resonates in Seokjin's body. "And fix... and do better?" 

Seokjin opens his eyes again. The black clouds have moved out of the way and he can see the moon better now. He didn't realize how big it was before, but suddenly it feels bigger than anything he's ever seen. 

“Constantly,” he breathes out. He squeezes Namjoon’s hand a little, just to make sure he knows he’s talking to him even though he can’t stop looking at the moon. “You know you’re still the only one-” He can’t bring himself to say what he wants to say. He doesn’t know if he ever will.

The break up happened on the first day of spring 2013. As dance practices and photo shoots became even more intense than usual, both Namjoon and Seokjin could feel the day looming over them. They didn’t talk about it with anyone else, Seokjin is pretty sure only Yoongi knew about their relationship back then. They barely talked about it between themselves, because they knew they wouldn’t be able to find the right words anyways.

Instead they stayed up all night playing Mario Kart in the living room, a beer in each hand. Seokjin didn’t even really like beer, but it was comforting to have something warm his insides. Between each game they would somehow fall on each other’s lap and make out for what felt like hours - because it always did. Time used to still for them - until it stopped. Until March came around and everything in their life started spiraling and they knew what they had would get out of control.

After a while, they didn’t restart another game. They talked for a bit, Seokjin showed Namjoon some pictures his mom sent him, Namjoon ranted about something his friends had said about him. Seokjin didn’t want to let go. He could tell, maybe more than Namjoon, that they needed each other. No matter the form their bond would take, they needed each other.

So he told him, “I’ll always love you,” with a hand cupping his cheek. “And I’ll always be there for you.” They kissed for what felt like the last time, and though they didn’t say much more, they understood.

Since then, there has been an unspoken arrangement that certain things are not to be said out loud. Not in front of anyone else, not to each other, not even to themselves. Seokjin had wanted to bring it up several times over the years, wanted to beg Namjoon to move on, to find someone else, to simply lose him. But Seokjin knew it would be unfair to ask that of him. It would just reopen a conversation that never ended and that the two of them were too careful to get anywhere near.

Now it’s 2019. Somehow they’re in New Zealand. It’s almost 2am. They have a morning flight back to South Korea tomorrow. 

All Seokjin can think about is a tiny star he spotted behind the clouds a few minutes ago. How it shines so bright despite the blinding moonlight.

“Do you think we made the right choice?” Namjoon voice breaks the silence like a snowflake falling on the ground. It’s fragile and unsure, like it knows it’s going to melt as soon as it goes down its fated route. 

Seokjin looks back to him and allows himself to study him like he used to. Study the shape of his nose, the color of his lips, the shape of his eyes. His hair blowing in the wind. Seokjin thinks he might be straight out of a Ghibli film. 

“I think we did what we could,” Seokjin supplies. “It brought us to where we are today, so-” he holds on tighter to Namjoon’s hand, pressing his fingers against the back of it, “I’d say we did okay all things considered.”

“I have a lot of regrets,” Namjoon confesses. Seokjin isn’t very surprised to hear that. “I don’t think I did enough. I don’t think I was strong enough back then, or brave enough to be willing to fight for us.”

Seokjin’s heart breaks a little. Just a little, but still enough for him to let go of Namjoon’s hand and stand up from his chair, walking over to Namjoon’s and commending him to scoot over so he can lie next to him. Namjoon gulps as he looks up to him, but still does as he’s told.

When Seokjin’s arms curl around Namjoon’s shoulders and he feels arms grasp tightly at his waist, he realizes how cold he was before. Now his face is centimeters away from Namjoon’s and the wind doesn’t blow on their eyelashes anymore.

“Please don’t beat yourself up over it,” Seokjin whispers. Namjoon’s hands grab a fistful of his coat. “I think it was inevitable. And probably for the best. Neither of us could have handled the pressure of being us while being together.”

“Sometimes I wish we could have crumbled under the pressure if it meant I had you,” Namjoon whispers. Seokjin tries to fight back tears and settles instead for a kiss on Namjoon’s forehead, tugging him under his chin by the same occasion. Namjoon leaves out an uneven breath against his collarbone, and he wishes he could never let go - he wishes he never had to let go in the first place.

Seokjin has so much he wants to say right now. About how much he loves him, how every day he wakes up and eats breakfast with him and wonders how they’re somehow okay with all of this, how after all these years, somehow nothing has changed - how much it scares him to know that nothing will change. But there are things they never say out loud, not even in the middle of the night somewhere in New Zealand, where even the wind couldn’t carry their words very far. There are some things they don’t say because if they do, everything will change. Because there are some things they simply can’t say no to-

“Sometimes I think we could make it work now.”

Things like that

“We know what we’re doing now,” Namjoon mumbles against his skin. Seokjin can’t tell if the waves in his voice are from tears or sleepiness. “We know what we need to do so it doesn’t… It doesn’t seem that scary or impossible anymore.”

“I know…”

“So what if we just… Just tried again.”

“Namjoon…” Seokjin’s breath shudders and he holds onto Namjoon’s shoulders even tighter. “You know I can’t say no but… is it really what you want? How would it even work?”

“Nothing has to change I just… want to be allowed to hold you without feeling guilty. I want to take you to dinner and romance the shit out of you.” Seokjin giggles and he feels Namjoon smiling against his skin. “I want to vlog us going on a date and mocking our boss…”

“Okay but I’m in charge of the editing this time.”

Namjoon pulls out of the crook of Seokjin’s neck to look at him in the eyes, pulling an overly offended face. “What’s wrong with my editing?”

“Your choice of memes for one, and also how you cut out a lot of parts where you were the only one in frame but kept all of the shots of me looking at my hair in the viewfinder.”

“You’re too pretty to edit out…”

“Also,” Seokjin ignores his comment but he can’t ignore how Namjoon’s eyes travel to his ears and how he smiles a little to himself. “Let’s never wear sunglasses at night again.”

Namjoon nods enthusiastically. “That I can do-”

“It was making it too hard to kiss you.”

Something in Namjoon’s eyes goes dark. Something Seokjin is all too familiar with and he realizes in that moment that this is it. That they won’t be able to go back to the weird close friendship they had before. They’ve talked about things they’ve avoided for years for that exact reason - but he also finds himself not as scared as he thought he would be.

It’s not even a big deal when he moves closer to Namjoon who meets him halfway and presses their lips together. It’s not a big deal because he realizes that the last time they kissed was only a few months ago for a reason he can’t even remember, and because their kisses have never stopped meaning as much as they meant when they were younger.

He’s not scared. He’s excited. Because of the way Namjoon’s lips fit between his, the way their nose bump, the way their bodies instinctively fit together like puzzle pieces that were never meant to be taken apart. They just work together, that has never stopped and Seokjin doesn’t think it ever will.

When they break apart, they press their foreheads together. The moon shines over Namjoon’s face, it makes his eyes sparkle, his skin glow. Seokjin has been in love with every version of Namjoon he’s ever seen, but he thinks this one might be his favourite. Because this Namjoon lets himself look at Seokjin softly, he doesn’t try to hide anything, he just feels.

“Maybe we needed this,” he thinks out loud.

“Needed what?”

“To grow a little more. Maybe we’re ready now.”

“What if we’re not?”

The wind rises. Seokjin shivers a little and hides his fingers in the small hair on Namjoon’s nape to keep them warm.

We must try to love .”