Yoongi swipes a glance at him. What is he playing at? Should Yoongi start being wary?
“So you don’t believe in soulmates.”
“But you like mysteries.”
“And you love your job.”
“Can I call you hyung?”
“Yes. Oh, wait—“
“Ha!” Jimin teases. “Caught you.”
“Park Jimin,” Yoongi admonishes even though he’s on the verge of letting out an amused snort.
“No, /no/ ‘hyung’. Park Jimin, I’m driving. Don’t distract me.”
“Oh?” Jimin waggles his eyebrows. “So I’m a distraction.”
“Yes, you’re very pretty, so be kind to me.”
At that, Jimin lets out a pipsqueak noise, gaping at him. Yoongi casts him a sidelong glance and smirks.
“What? Cat got your tongue?”
Jimin’s cheeks flush as he inhales deeply and leans comfortably against the passenger seat. “I happen to be very kind.”
“Well, be kinder then.”
Yoongi doesn’t understand where the urge to tousle the guy’s hair comes from, so he suppresses it by gluing his eyes back to the road.
Too bad the much-coveted silence doesn’t last for too long.
“So, tell me,” Jimin says after a while. “Why is this so important to you anyway?”
“You mean apart from the fact that the Folk Museum’s funding pivots on these paintings and I have a job to keep?” Yoongi says. “I guess you could say—personal interest.”
“Personal interest,” Jimin echoes. “In what way?”
How is Yoongi supposed to explain being drawn to the art?
He opens his mouth, then closes it, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. “Y’know how we all used to do magnetic experiments in high school?”
“Well, when I saw the paintings, I felt like an iron shilling that got re-orientated after years of being scattered.”
Yoongi doesn’t know how else to better put it; he’s no poet & he’s not equipped with words to make the connection sound eloquent. “I don’t know, it sounds stupid, right?”
“No, I get it. Finding a purpose and all.” Jimin licks his lips. “I felt the same when I saw the headlines.”
Yoongi shoots him a quick glance, and the moment their gazes lock, something warm stirs in Yoongi, like waking.
“There’s something you should know,” he says, shifting through his bag to pull out his tablet device. “I’ve been reading Princess Min Songhwa’s memoir.”
Yoongi shares the theory that he and Namjoon have come up with so far, and Jimin listens with rapt attention, the brilliance in his eyes hinting at a deep wisdom often masked by his vivacious manner.
“So, in other words, Princess Songhwa was in love with my great-grand-uncle?!”
“That’s what we think, for now. I can’t say for sure until I’ve read through everything she wrote down.”
“I didn’t know my family bloodline was good-looking enough to catch the attention of a princess, but I’m not surprised,” Jimin titters, taking Yoongi’s tablet. “Can I read?”
“Wait- 500 pages?!” Jimin’s eyes bulge at the page count. “Damn. Imagine being a princess and writing 500 pages of your personal diary, only to have everything published for the world to see hundreds of years later. Poor Princess Songhwa.”
Jimin flips to the chapter where Yoongi left off and clears his throat.
“/Orabeoni has officially become a Sungkyunkwan scholar today, and so has the Crown Prince. However, Abamama is throwing a celebration feast only for the Crown Prince. My heart aches for our orabeoni./“
Jimin hums. “I didn’t know the princess had an older brother.” He flips to the next pages, skimming through paragraphs of text. “Judging by how fondly she writes about him, it looks like they had a close relationship.”
“The First Concubine had a few children with His Majesty.”
“/The Royal Banquet celebrating Abamama’s birthday will be held next week, and my heart trembles in fear. Envoys from the Qing Empire will be visiting Joseon—I may get taken away to serve as a concubine for their Emperor but I refuse fo be separated from Yeol./“
Jimin looks up, forehead creasing. “Who’s Yeol?”
“Oh.” Jimin scrunches his nose. “They sound like very close friends.”
Yoongi bites back a tart remark. “Maybe. Keep reading.”
“/How will I ever sleep, away from my family and the arms of my beloved? Yeol is the warm spring air that thaws the palace winter, and each day I wake I feel only gratitude to see her face once more/—“ Jimin pauses. “Huh. I don’t know about you, but that sounds sapphic as hell.”
Yoongi presses his lips to a thin line. It’s not like the thought hasn’t crossed his mind, but so far what they’ve learned about the Princess’... preferences... doesn’t support his theories. “She could have been bi, we never know. Or pan.”
“I dunno, she sounds pretty whipped.”
Jimin swipes vigorously on the tablet to flip through the book, skipping a few chapters until he’s neatly in the middle. “Maybe we’ll find out something about my great-grand-uncle in this section.”
“By all means,” Yoongi says, eyes on the road. “I like your voice, keep reading.”
Jimin clears his throat, but Yoongi doesn’t miss the small smile that pulls at his lips.
“/It is a bleak day, heavy with rain. Rain finally pours after the long drought.
Something sinister is happening in the palace, and I am afraid. The Crown Prince has died. We are broken./“
This time, Yoongi doesn’t have to keep egging Jimin to read on, because Jimin swipes to the next page as though in haste.
“/Today, they’ve brought him back for questioning, our favorite court dancer. It pains me so, to write this, but he admits to treason and must be punished/.”
Wait, did she just...?” Yoongi breathes, heart rate accelerating. He exchanges a stricken look with Jimin and nods.
Jimin reads the next entry tremulously:
“/The day after orabeoni’s coronation was the day our dancer was hung for crimes against the throne.
it was necessary./“
like I said, short update ㅠㅠ me sleepy! thank you for staying up!
what do you think is GOING ONNNN haha! gimme your best guesses!
linking the playlist here once more!!
AU where Yoongi is a museum curator at a gallery in Seoul. One day a huge delivery comes in—a recently found set of paintings circa 1500s, tracing back to the Joseon period. Artist unknown. The paintings all seem to portray one subject: a slender, long-haired male dancer
To those subscribed to my Patreon, surprise! You can now access a snippet of Jimin’s POV below. This is a deleted scene that will not be included in the main thread
Once again, thank you for the overwhelming love & support!!
The silence that descends following Jimin’s reading feels so thick it seems to permeate inch of the car. Yoongi finds that his throat feels scratchy. When he clears his throat, tears sting at back of his eyes.
“Sheesh,” Jimin musters shakily, putting the tablet down in his lap.
“I know it was centuries ago, but”—Jimin looks out the window—“finding out how your ancestor died... feels kinda shitty man.”
Eyeing the still-open memoir on his tablet, Yoongi tamps down the urge to ask Jimin to read back a few pages. Not when the guy seems so visibly affected.
Yoongi’s fingers tremble on the steering wheel. He is not in the business of faking sympathy for others—he’s a museum curator, not a therapist—but he finds himself brimming with full sincerity as he mumbles, “Wh-what a jerk.”
“Huh?” Jimin cuts him a wary look.
He turns the car out of the expressway and into the road that leads out into Gangneung city. He ignored the way Jimin’s lower lip wobbles. “Princess Songhwa said this happened after the new Crown Prince stepped in, right?”
“He must’ve ordered it, then. What a bastard.”
“You don’t know that,” Jimin counters softly. “Anyway, earlier when you said the letters were threats—what did you mean?”
Yoongi swipes his tongue over his upper teeth, deep in thought. “They weren’t explicit. They were riddles, idioms.”
“Then how’d you know they were threats?”
“I’m not saying for sure that they are. But the imagery used...” Yoongi shakes his head. “It’s gut instinct. They seemed to be layered in some kinda double-meaning. I mean, ‘Shoot down the bird blocking the sun in the sky, casting a shadow over the town’ sounds pretty taunting.”
“In what way?”
“You know that a metaphor for the rulers of the Joseon dynasty was ‘Sun’ right?”
“And the queens are called moons, yes. I know my sageuk, dude. I binge-watched The Moon Embracing The Sun with my aunts when I was in high school— ooh, hyung, hyung, look outside!”
Their roadtrip has brought them to Gangwon-do. By now they’ve crossed the expressway toll, emerging into an open skyway, and Yoongi spares a glance outside at the same time that Jimin rolls down the window and cries happily, “It’s the sea!”
“Jimin, keep it down—“
Yoongi muffles a snort, reminding himself to keep his eyes peeled to the road. But every now & then, he catches his gaze slipping.
Stark against the hue of the approaching dusk, Jimin’s sunset-dappled cheeks appear emblazoned in gold. He looks angelic—
“TAEHYUNG-AAH! I’M HERE!”
A smile cracks over Yoongi’s face. He doesn’t even bother shushing the guy. “Isn’t Taehyung deep in the mountains or something? How’s he supposed to hear you?”
“The wind will carry my affections,” Jimin explains gravely, turning to face Yoongi for a brief moment. “HELLO, WORLD!”
“Yes, hello to you too,” Yoongi mutters playfully, rolling down his own window to enjoy the breeze. His palms are sweaty, but not from anxiety.
“World, is this the youth you told me about?” Jimin screams into the open seascape. “World, have we met before?”
“Maybe,” Yoongi says.
With a gasp, Jimin’s head swivels around and he stares at Yoongi, eyes softening. Against the window, silhouetted by sunset, his gaze sends heat like embers prickling up Yoongi’s nape. “I think so, too.”
Yoongi’s brows knit together as he studies the man thoughtfully. “Mmm.”
“I’ve known you 4 days, Min Yoongi, and we’ve never met before,” Jimin sighs, eyes closing as he leans back to rest his head. “And yet the world tells me we have, we have.”
Yoongi feels his chest constrict. For a foolish second he wants to reach out and—
“Can I hold your hand?”
“What—“ Yoongi splutters, heartbeat spiking. His hands tighten over the steering wheel, gripping for dear life.
“Relax,” Jimin coaxes, lifting his right hand by the wrist & laying their palms flat together. “I just wanted to see.”
“If it’s still bigger than mine.”
A car horn from behind snaps him back to focus. Yoongi realizes the car’s been slowing down. He snatches his hand back and places it firmly on the wheel. “Of course it is.”
How does he know that? He turns to Jimin, who wears a mirroring frown.
Then Jimin’s stomach growls.
The tension in the car breaks with their chorused laughter. Yoongi’s cheeks hurt with the fierceness of his grin, and as he steers closer into the city center, he says, “It’s getting dark. Dinner?”
Jimin’s answering smile is like clouds parting. “I was craving for samgyetang.”
They stop at a local restaurant and order two steaming bowls of samgyetang to fight off the steadily growing autumn wind that comes with the night.
While their food gets served in front of them, Yoongi can’t help but feel pinned by Jimin’s googly eyes on him. “What?”
“Is there something on my face?”
“Yes,” Jimin says. “Beauty.”
Yoongi narrows his eyes. “If you’re trying to buy my good graces, you’re doing a shitty job.”
“Eyy, I don’t have to,” Jimin laughs. He leans forward, cupping his chin. “So. Since when did you fall in love with me?”
Broth spurts out of Yoongi’s nose mid-sip. “I- what?!”
Jimin gestures to the space between them. “Look at you, now look at me. Look at you, now look at me. It’s a date.”
“Are you quoting an Old Spice commercial?”
“No, I was singing a BLACKPEACH single.” Jimin smiles primly.
None of that matters to Yoongi right now; there’s only one word that stands out from whatever gibberish Park Jimin has just spouted. “We are on a business trip.”
“You trusted a stranger’s tip, brought him out with you in your expensive, and now you’re eating together. Romance!”
“This isn’t a /date/ until I say it is.”
“And this isn’t a not-date until I say it isn’t!” Jimin holds up a peace sign. “It’s okay. No need to be nervous, you look like a cornered cat who’s never been in a romantic relationship.”
Yoongi squirms in his seat and sips quietly.
“Wait, unless...” Jimin trails off, and Yoongi focuses very hard on the piece of tissue tucked under his bowl. Such intricate patterns pressed into the paper. What fine art.
“Oh. Ohhh. Hyuuung,” Jimin singsongs. “Have you ever fallen in love before? Dated?”
Yoongi carefully takes his time dipping his spoon into the bowl, and carefully takes his time sipping the broth. Part of him fears getting made fun of. The other part wills him to stay honest. “No.”
To his surprise, Jimin doesn’t point and laugh.
What is there to be said about Min Yoongi’s approach to love and dating? He would perhaps compare it to finding good apples at the marketplace. Too bad he hasn’t even found a worthy marketplace at all. “Didn’t feel right.”
“Hmm. Then maybe find someone who doesn’t feel wrong.”
Yoongi lowers his spoon against the edge of his bowl, jaw clenching. In a heartbeat of a second, he seems to grasp something—words stitched in the fabric of his memory.
/If you are so lonely, & worry too greatly about making mistakes, find allies who don’t make you feel wrong./
The rest of what comes next gets drowned by a strong wave of tinnitus ringing painfully in his ears. Yoongi grimaces and clutches at his head.
“Hey,” Jimin’s voice fills with concern. “Everything alright?”
“You,” Yoongi rasps, swallowing thickly.
Jimin points at himself. “Me?”
“You talk too much,” Yoongi explains. The pain knocking at his temples subsides. “I thought you were hungry? Eat up.”
Jimin pouts but obliges.
They eat dinner wordlessly, and Yoongi’s attention drifts to a live telecast on the TV propped against the far wall of the restaurant:
“/An annular solar eclipse, also known as the 'ring of fire', is set to light up the skies of South Korea tomorrow. It will be visible between 11.24am to noon, and is the first eclipse of this kind to occur in over 99 years.../“
“Oooh,” Jimin comments, staring at the TV.
“I hope we can see it better from the mountain temple!”
Yoongi resists the urge to tap his knuckles against Jimin’s forehead. “You fool. One shouldn’t view a solar eclipse directly with the naked eye. You could go blind. And besides, we’re not here to go sightseeing.”
The newscast switches to current affairs, and to Yoongi’s utter dismay, he sees a shot of himself at the Seoul Folk Museum, with a photo of the paintings juxtaposed next to his face.
“No comment,” TV Yoongi says.
“How profound!” Jimin cries out in glee. “What a celebrity.”
Yoongi glowers at him. “Don’t pay attention to that, yah, are you done eating? We should go.”
Jimin’s lips curve. “Sure, but wait!” He fumbles around for his phone.
“What now?” Yoongi groans.
“Let’s take a selca to celebrate our first date!”
Yoongi rolls his eyes. “It’s not—“
He barely gets to finish his sentence when Jimin crowd around him, grinning and resting a hand over his shoulder. “Say ‘kimchi’!”
Yoongi inches away reluctantly. “Come on, be serious.”
“What’s this for, then?”
Jimin’s face is solemn. “In case you forget me again.”
His eyes seem to twinkle with something other than mirth tonight, but Yoongi doesn’t let himself acknowledge that. He doesn’t even know what rubbish the guy spits half the time. Rubbing the back of ear, Yoongi sighs. “Fine, fine. Take a damn selca. Then we hit the road.”
[quick break, be back in 15min! uwu]
THANK YOU FOR THE ART!
@Ane they’re wonderful. I love your art style sm ;;
By “hit the road”, Yoongi meant to keep moving, not to literally hit a road—in the form of a dead end.
“Please don’t tell me we’re lost,” Jimin says, looking out over the window. “Do you perhaps have night blindness and can’t read directions?”
“My eyesight is perfectly fine,” Yoongi, reversing and sighing in relief when they reach the main road again.
He flicks his wrist. 9pm. With the sun completely down now—
“It’ll be impossible to reach Taehyung this late,” Jimin announces.
Yoongi clucks his tongue impatiently.
“I know, I know—pressed for time,” Jimin says, seeming to read his mind. “But we can’t hike at this hour. Even I wouldn’t trust myself with navigating the mountain path to reach the family temple. Too dangerous.”
Yoongi lets out a frustrated breath. “Let’s find a motel for now.”
“Ooooh,” Jimin cackles, beside himself with giddiness. “Is this the part where the receptionist tells us there’s only one room left, and there’s only one bed, and—“
“Don’t get your hopes up,” Yoongi says. “That kind of thing only happens in dramas.”
“You’d be surprised.”
At that moment, lightining scissors across the sky, followed by a clap of thunder. Next to Yoongi, Jimin tenses.
Then the sky parts and starts pouring.
Yoongi says nothing, but he may or may not have stepped a little harder on the pedal so they could secure a place quicker.
“Two rooms, please,” Yoongi says over the counter at the nearest place they could find—a traditional, Korean style inn, similar to the Hanok stays in the tourist districts of Seoul.
“Just a minute, please,” the receptionist says.
Another roll of thunder reverberates through the sky, and Yoongi bristles when cold fingers grab him by the crook of his elbow.
“Hmm?” He glances over his shoulder to find Jimin sporting an uncharacteristic frown, lips pressed thinly together.
“I don’t want to be alone.”
Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “Ah, so you’re brazen enough to say shameless things and strut around all day, but a little rain and thunder bothers you?”
Jimin looks away pointedly, not emitting a single noise. Yoongi frowns. He was expecting the guy to come up with a wily retort.
“I don’t vibe with storms,” Jimin says, gaze pinned to the wooden floor. “But, ah. I can understand if it it bothers you.”
“The idea of two men together sharing a room can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it. I take it as you haven’t served the military yet?”
“What the- I have,” Yoongi says, petulant.
“Then why?” Jimin pouts and peers out the nearest window, into the sheets of rain pattering against the ground. “It’s a brotherly experience, is it not? Brotherhood. If I make you so uncomfortable, then—“
“Fine, fine,” Yoongi grumbles.
He’ll show Jimin he’s not bothered by proximity. Real men sleep side by side! Brotherhood!
He stalks back to the counter and whispers to the receptionist, “Actually make it one room, please. But with 2 beds.”
With his back turned, he doesn’t see Jimin pumping a fist in the air.
Their room is small and quaint, but boasts a charming view of the garden that looks like it should belong in some period drama. As soon as Yoongi pushes aside the sliding door, a phantom rush courses through him, overwhelming him enough to make him sway.
“You okay?” asks Jimin.
Yoongi directs a polite smile at him. “Just. A case of vertigo.” He doesn’t mention how there’s a tingling in his ears or a niggling sense at the back of his mind that he’s been here before. That would be eerie, since he’s never personally had an overnight stay in Gangwon before.
Maybe he should get checked when he gets back to Seoul. For all he knows, he could be coming down with an illness or something.
He tells Jimin to shower first, and while waiting Yoongi sits at the edge of the door, looking out over the rain-soaked garden.
He stretches out a hand and catches fat raindrops from the roof.
There’s a loneliness to this place, Yoongi thinks. An aching emptiness, spreading and pulsing into the life force of each bonsai plot, each wooden beam supporting the ceiling.
Or maybe Yoongi is just overthinking.
Just then, the other door slides open and Jimin steps in, towelling off his wet hair while humming to himself.
It’s a melody that strikes something deep in Yoongi. He turns, frowing slightly. “What song is that?”
“Huh? Oh.” Jimin shrugs. “I don’t know. I just hum whatever.”
The conversation ends there, and Yoongi takes his turn to shower.
Later that night, while they tuck into their separate beds, Yoongi takes out his tablet, casting a bluish tint across the otherwise darkened room.
“Still reading the Princess’ memoirs?” Jimin asks from his bed.
Yoongi hums noncommitally. “It’s better than falling asleep.”
“Nightmares,” Yoongi says without thinking.
“Well, maybe if you didn’t read tragic things before bed, you’d dream better.”
Yoongi looks up from his tablet. “What do you prescribe then, oh genius doctor?”
Jimin grins. “Sing!”
Yoongi blanches. “No way. I’m more into hip hop and rap, if you catch my drift.”
“I don’t mean that,” Jimin elaborates, eyes crinkling. “Hasn’t your mother ever sung you lullabies to sleep?”
Yoongi rolls his eyes. “I’m not a child to be consoled.”
“Eyyy, don’t be like that,” Jimin says into the darkness of the room. “Everyone is just a child in an adult’s body. Sometimes, at the end of a tiring day, you need somebody to pat you on the back & say, ‘good job, good job’. It’s a huge comfort.”
A long pause overtakes the room.
Yoongi pushes down the lump forming on his throat. “You sound oddly well-versed in this field. Are you secretly a therapist?”
“No. I’ve just seen enough pain to last lifetimes.” Jimin yawns. “When we get the chance, we should comfort ourselves, too.”
“If you’re that good, let me hear,” Yoongi forces himself to say, feeling teary-eyed all of a sudden. He doesn’t know why he wants to hear Jimin sing so badly. “You have a nice speaking voice. Don’t disappoint me with your singing.”
“Ha. You wish. I won a trot competition once.”
Yoongi lets out a long exhale as Jimin picks up the same gentle melody from earlier:
“I remember the melody of the song // that we sang together as we sat across each other // in my softly closed eyes // I’m placing images of you.”
A tear escapes down the side of Yoongi’s face.
“Like a small photo in my mind // you still remain // Even if this dream-like fate disappears // You’re engraved deep in my heart
Even if I’m alone on this road //
I can still see you.”
Yoongi closes his eyes and focuses on keeping his breathing steady and even. It hurts to.
Jimin’s voice cracks nearing the end of the song.
“Do you know?
Because of you, I live today.
Don’t be lonely;
don’t be hurt again //
Live in my heart like this.”
Yoongi could have sworn he heard soft sniffles coming from the other side of the room. His throat feels raw.
In the shadows of the room, Yoongi blinks away tears that feel like they don’t belong to him. He shifts his position and whispers, “Beautiful.”
Jimin makes a soft noise of acknowledgment. “I could sing you more. Sing you to sleep.”
“You’ll do that?”
“Everyday if I could.”
Yoongi scoffs lightly, eyes gradually falling shut. “We barely know each other.”
Jimin doesn’t answer, just starts another song again that sounds more like a lullaby this time. His voice is oddly soothing, like warm soup on a winter night.
Yoongi fades to sleep in minutes.