childhood friends to lovers AU where jimin from busan gets a penpal in daegu named min yoongi
it’s part of a regional penpal programme encouraged by the school actually. jimin initiates contact by sending one letter first, and then two, but when he never gets a reply he starts to wonder if his penpal still hasn’t memorized his alphabet at the wise old age of 8
his first letter goes along the lines of,
“dear min yoongi,
hello i am park jimin! i am exzited to be your new friend. first of all i like color blue and chocolate ice cream. if you see this leter tell me whats yuor favourite color amd desert is also. bye bye, have a nice day!”
his second letter:
“daer min yoongi,
hello again i am park jimin from busan elementary school. you never replyed my 1st leter so here is one more. ok so i have a mother a father, a baby brother who is 3 and my grandfather is a fisherman. can i ask how big is your family?”
when the 2nd letter goes unanswered yet again, jimin throws a tantrum and pouts all throughout class because how come his classmates have such nice penpals, yet he can’t even hear back from his just once?
he vows never to write again! if min yoongi doesn’t wanna be friends, OK!
but 2 weeks later after he gets hurt during PE, jimin is made to sit out during sports day so he’s left to his own devices by the watch stands. he takes out a notepad and kills time by writing, painstakingly, with his left hand.
this, undoubtedly, is the hardest thing he’s done.
“hel lo, min yoooogi,
hi penpal pls dont i̶g̶n̶o̶r̶r̶ ignore me again becos i am sad. i have an owwie ok? i s̶p̶r̶e̶y̶ sprayned my hand so im using left today. so hard to do.
are you OK? can you raed my other letterz? have a nice day. byebye!
sad friend park jimin”
jimin gives up when he doesn’t hear back from after a few more days.
in his 8 years of life, he has never been so brutally rejected. when he tells his harabeoji, the old man laughs and ruffles his hair.
“stormier seas will come.”
“okay,” says jimin, “but we’re on land!”
so it comes as a total surprise when, the next day, his eomma quietly slips into his room while jimin is doing homework and slides a pristine white envelope across his kiddy desk.
jimin blinks down at it.
“from your friend,” says eomma.
jimin gasps and pounces on the envelope.
he gingerly opens the flap, noting how the letter smells like gummy bears, and reads:
yes, my name is min yoongi. my favorite color is grey and i like to eat dalgona candy. sorry i am writing this so late, my family moved downtown. if you hate me, don’t reply, it’s OK.”
“p.s sorry about the owwie. i sprained my ankle last year. drink medicine, did your eomma kiss it yet? i hope you are not sad. bye bye!
jimin decides he hates min yoongi so he doesn’t reply for two whole, gruelling days. it definitely has nothing to do with the fact that he can’t write with his right hand yet. it also has nothing to do with the fact that now that min yoongi is /real/, jimin feels shy to write.
“daer mean yoongi,
i hate you—
jimin tosses the paper into the bin.
he reads min yoongi’s letter over & over and realizes how they spell some words differently. he decides to copy some of the boy’s spelling:
“dear min yoongi,
is your new house big? do you have your own room?”
“dear park jimin,
good afternoon. i have a room with my hyung, and i sleep on the top bunk bed because i am lighter. our house is very big, it has an upstairs. i found a lizard egg in the closet so we are trying to hatch it.
i also have a mother and father.
over the course of the following weeks, jimin learns some basic facts about his daegu penpal:
- he likes orange juice
- he doesn’t like the sun
- he wants a bike
- he likes to play nintendogs
- he is older, or at least jimin thinks so.
“dear min yoongi,
are you my hyung?”
“dear park jimin,
how old are you?
the lizard egg disappeared but i saw a tortoise at the pond near our house. eomma says we can’t bring it in, so the tortoise will stay at the pond. it’s mine now.
also you like dooly right? i have an extra dooly notebook and ruler. want it?”
“dear min yoongi,
i dont like dooly anymore! i like pokemon now. bulbasor and charmenderr are good. the notebook and ruler? you can give them away to the cherrity. eomma says the cherrity is good.
i am 8. does your tortoise have a name yet?”
your friend also,
“dear park jimin,
the tortoise is called Bulbasaur.
p.s i am 10 years old. of course i am your hyung. what else would i be, your oppa?
jimin reads the afterthought note at the bottom of the paper and falls over himself, giggling. he clutches yoongi’s letter to his chest and snickers while rolling on his room’s floor.
/oppa!/ what a thought! this min yoongi penpal of him is funnier than the bananas in pyjamas!
“dear yoongi hyung,
you have the best jokes!
today during art class we made a bookmark. so i drew my laughing face so you know what i look like when i read your letters. what does your face look like? next time i will draw you too.
“dear park jiminie,
here is my self-portrait. i’m not as good as you at drawing.
min yoongi hyung”
“dear yoongi hyung,
wow yes the drawing is ugly, but its OK! so you look like Ditto uwah.ㅋㅋㅋ
hyung this week i am confused. my classmate hyeorin gave me her bungeo-ppang in recess. i tried to pay her but she just gave it to me for free. she is so nice.
Ditto? so funny ㅋㅋㅋ our halmeoni says our hyung looks like both of parents but i dont. our eomma told me once, she found me under a bridge thats why i dont look like them.
why are you confused with hyeorin’s gift? is she a friend?
min yoongi hyung”
jimin thinks long and hard about how to reply.
his eomma once told him that everyone in his classroom is his friend, but now that he’s become frequent penpals with min yoongi from daegu, he is beginning to wonder if the same definitions still apply. they’re not classmates, but+
jimin still knows more about min yoongi than he knows about the rest of his classmates. sure, he knows that yoo hyeorin is the quiet girl who sits at the front of class, but that’s it.
“dear yoongi hyung,
you dont understand, she’s a classmate. but you are my FRIEND.
he posts the letter in the morning on the way to school, but immediately sends a follow-up letter that afternoon since he has many burning questions.
“dear yoongi hyung,
what do you want to be when you grow up? i’m going to be a firefighter and save cats.
“Call me when you get home?” he asks in a small voice, stepping forward to—
To do what, exactly?
“Sure. Text me so I know you’re home safe?” Yoongi asks, taking a step with a raised hand. Jimin mirrors it—
“Last call!” Some yells outside.
And their hands meet in a high-five.
“Go, go, go.” Jimin spins Yoongi around the shoulders and gives the small of his back a firm push. “Talk later! Have a safe trip!”
Yoongi dashes forward, hair flopping side to side, and Jimin tries to tamp down the stabby ache growing in him the further his penpal runs.
Yoongi hops into the bus’ stairs just as the door closes. Through the glass, Jimin watches him walk down aisle after aisle before finally sliding into the seat next to Seokjin. The bus slowly reverses, and Yoongi’s face comes into view from the side.
Jimin waves wildly. “Byeee!”
His penpal cracks one of his gummy smiles at him and waves back. The bus chugs away from the terminal, but Jimin doesn’t stop waving until it disappears from sight.
He down at his palm, dry & red from the fall breeze. It’s cold.
The chatter of commuters around him is defeaning.
[a/n: pls play this track, I am so fond of it
A droplet lands on his palm. Jimin blinks, belatedly realizing it fell from his eyes, and then he laughs under his breath for being dramatic over something so trivial. His breathing is shallow, and the fluorescent lights are blinding despite his swimming vision. He finds a seat.
Chattering people meander around him, little streams carving paths around a boulder. Jimin feels like a rock suddenly, reluctant to move, half-convinced that if he leaves this bus terminal then he might forget that this day had happened at all.
His fingers curl over his knees.
There is something to be said for a boy crying alone at a bus terminal, unable to leave but knowing he can’t stay. Jimin isn’t sure what’s weighing his chest down so miserably. He sighs. Must be his usual separation anxiety.
His phone vibrates.
today, with marigold
Jungkook kicks at a big pebble as he paces the curb outside Jimin’s gate. When he hears approaching footsteps, he looks up.
“Yo hyung! So how was—eh?” Jungkook’s eyes widen. “Why are your eyes so RED? Did he turn out to be an asshole?”
Jimin laughs weakly. “The oppposite.”
For those of you who might be curious about Yoongi’s updated bucket list ㅋㅋㅋ
since we’ve already met
would you be more open to the idea of
voice calls ^o^
there was nothing hypothetical about what you just sent tho
if i called you right now
will you pls not hang up
Yoongi picks up on the third ring.
“Hey, marigold,” says his velvety voice, teasing and sounding /relaxed/ for once.
Jimin gnaws on his lower lip while literally sliding down his chair, ending up splayed across his bedroom floor in a heap of limbs and some remnants of boy.
But for once, there’s something bigger than his excitement at talking to his favorite hyung. The initial spike of gladness dips the moment Jimin remembers why he wanted to call anyway. His grin dims.
Yoongi hums. After a beat he says, “That’s not the Jimin I know.”
Jimin makes a garbled, curious sound. “It’s me, it’s me.”
“Hmmm, is this really Park Jimin’s number…”
“Ah, hyung! It’s me!”
“The Jimin I know has a lot more life and soul in his voice. Soul, you know?” Yoongi emphasizes, and Jimin may or may not have cracked a smile.
“I had a bad day, don’t tease me.” Jimin puts his phone on speaker mode and flops face-down on his bed.
A chuckle vibrates through the air. “Why? What’s up?”
Jimin sighs. “Igoofedupmyquiztoday.”
“What was that? Speak slowly, you silly.”
“My quiz,” Jimin says. “I scored bad.”
“Ah.” Yoongi hums again, as though deep in thought. “That sucks. Sorry, man. Can’t say I relate.”
Jimin clicks his tongue. “Can’t you let me be sad? I’ve spent the whole week missing your voice and this is the first thing I hear from you, I’m huuurt.”
The line goes quiet. “Oh?”
“Mmhmm.” Jimin doesn’t know how to explain it, the way a gaping hole seems to gave yawned in his chest ever since his little meet-up with Yoongi. Rather than ecstatic, he feels lonelier than ever, now that he knows what Yoongi’s company feels like. “I’m so sad.”
“I haven’t even told you why yet,” Jimin says sullenly. Not that he has words for it, thought he can try.
“You don’t have to justify being sad,” Yoongi says nonchalantly. “I mean, when did we ever ask people to justify feeling happy? No, right? So, just be. It’s okay. Just be.”
Jimin lets out a long whine. Those words make him miss his hyung even more. Is there a way to hug someone’s voice? “You’re the best, for real.” His phone vibrates with a new notification, and Jimin looks at the banner on his screen.
Yoongi hums. “Anytime—“
“What the hell— yah, Jimin-ah, is everything okay—“
“BTZ is having a comeback!” Jimin leaps out of bed, eyes furiously scanning the announcement from YouVerse.
“Whoa. They are?”
“And! They just DROPPED a whole teaser trailer with choreography! I think I’m going to evaporate!”
Yoongi chortle is unabashed. “Calm down, marigold, you’ll wake your neighbors. Isn’t it late?”
“It’s only 9pm, it’s fine!” Jimin shrieks, his earlier melancholia all but shaken off by his excited hopping. “Hyung, hyung, I gotta go. Talk later okay!“
Jimin hangs up.
“Heolll,” Jungkook breathes in awe, eyes round as coasters as he and Jimin crowd his phone screen while watching the teaser. “Did you hear that high note by Seagull?!”
“Right? Also the snippet of Gloss’s rap…” Jimin punches a fist in the air. “And J-dope’s dance!”
Jungkook yanks at Jimin’s sleeve, prompting him to stand up in the middle of their front porch. “Hyung, do you wanna—“
“Will we go viral if we—“
“Dance the choreo?!” Jimin and Jungkook chorus, exchanging exhilarated stares. They give each other double high fives while jumping.
And so, for the better part of the evening they spend time mapping out the choreo and teaching each other different parts. When they part after curfew Jungkook suggests filming their dance cover the following morning, to which Jimin agrees heartily.
His phone has 2 new messages.
[Mindeulle - 9.10pm]
just listened to the new trailer, it sounds so fun. u got a favorite part yet?
[Mindeulle - 10.19pm]
Jimin cringes and hastily types in a quick response, too preoccupied with the need to shower to give it too much thought.
yup gloss rap
When he gets back from the bathroom, Jimin finds a single message waiting.
Which is… unprecedented, to put it lightly. In all of their texting history, Jimin doesn’t remember Yoongi ever ‘k-ing’ him. He scoffs.
lolll are you ok
Jimin rolls his eyes and tosses his phone to his bedside table while a snort. He is in no mood to deal with mood swings tonight, not when there is BTZ’s comeback to celebrate! He jumps into bed and replays the teaser trailer over and over again.
His phone doesn’t vibrate again.
And it remains quiet up until next morning. Jimin’s heart drops ever so slightly when he checks his phone upon waking up and finds no good morning text like he hoped—no, expected. A bitter knot forms in his gut. What’s got Yoongi’s panties in a twist?
Oh well. Jimin is too busy.
“And five, six, seven, eight!” Jungkook calls out. They both throw their arms in the air and then sweep their feet in time with the beat, making sure to stay within the phone camera’s frame. Then Jimin accidentally trips on his own feet, which sends Jungkook into fits of giggles.
“Your balance SUCKS,” Jungkook taunts, which earns him a flick in the forehead from Jimin. He hisses and rubs his forehead, then nudges Jimin with an elbow.
“Guys, guys, let’s be civil,” Namjoon says, adjusting the tripod. “Let’s nail the next take, okay? I need my tripod back.”
Jimin glances at his phone’s lockscreen, heart sinking even further when he finds his notifications tab all clear. He wrinkles his nose sourly. “What if Jungkook just does it himself? Maybe I’ll sit out.”
“What? No way!” Jungkook’s eyes blow wide. “No backtracking, hyung!”
Jimin purses his lips, hesitating.
He’s distracted, and he knows it. It’s been niggling at the back of his mind since that morning, how all he’s been getting from Yoongi is radio silence so far. He’d texted a customary ‘good morning uwu’ but got nothing back.
Jungkook pulls him to stand in front of the camera again. “Come ooon. From the previous verse, again.”
“How long does it take for a person to read a text and reply? Like, generally speaking,” Jimin wonders out loud.
Namjoon hums in thought. “2 minutes?”
Jimin’s frown deepens.
It’s not the first time Yoongi has gone without contact for long stretches of time, but given how there was always a bad reason behind every ghosting event, Jimin can’t help but feel worried.
And annoyed, if he’s honest. He’d /asked/ Yoongi to be honest about communication!
Yoongi can go sulk all he wants, Jimin tells himself. It’s not like Jimin did anything wrong. In fact, he’s the one who feels wronged in this scenario—being so blatantly given the silent treatment seriously sucks.
They finish the dance cover, leaving the editing to Jungkook.
By late afternoon, Jungkook sends him a rough draft, made fancy with cool transitions and filters, and Jimin’s mood instantly lifts by several notches.
“Jungkookie is honestly so talented,” he says to Jihyun while showing their dance cover to his younger brother. “We look cool!”
“It looks like graphic design is his passion,” remarks Jihyun, nodding as a sparkly glitter effect lights up the screen.
“He’s 14. He’ll improve,” Jimin rushes to defend. Giddy with excitement, he forgoes his initial plan of ignoring Yoongi and sends him the video instead.
looookie hyung :>
we did a cover!!
aren’t we fast HAHA
Jimin grips his phone tight, waiting for a reply. When it doesn’t buzz even after ten whole minutes, he checks their chat.
Yoongi had double-ticked his texts.
Jimin feels his face go slack with dismay, then stiffen with irritation. It’s not fair. Why is Yoongi being such a meanie today?
Nothing hurts Jimin more than not being perceived when he wants to be. Yoongi’s blatant cold treatment towards him feels like a smack across the face.
what’s wrong with you
Oh, so he CAN reply, after all. Jimin’s thumbs fly over his keyboard.
you’re being so weird.
it’s not like you at all
not today, jimin
you couldn’t even be bothered to watch my video?
Jimin doesn’t know what riles him up more—the fact that Yoongi’s replies sound so lukewarm, or that Jimin feels like he practically had to beg for praise. How humilitating is that?
idw talk??? let me be??
ok now you just sound so salty
im just not in the mood damnit?
Jimin bites his lower lip and racks his brain for a possible catalyst to Yoongi’s sudden foul mood. He gasps when he remembers—
lmao is this because i hung up on u
thats so foul
i cant handle such pettiness
u wanna talk
it’s funny how u always expect me to coddle u but when i’m having a shit day suddenly u can’t take it
and yeah you were rude
but it’s not the only reason
it’s not abt u
Jimin scoffs as he reads the messages three times over, feeling more than slighted that this is what he gets for trying to hear Yoongi out.
thats a very roundabout way of saying it’s my fault
so technically yes, it is about me
i know you, hyung
you’re upset with me
if u know me then u should’ve known how much it takes out of me to even call u.
to even visit u.
jimin, come on…
honestly idk but it sounds like you’re using your social anxiety as an excuse to be blameless
why is this fight even happening
yeah and you’re just a kid
Jimin gives his most furious exhale, nostrils flaring, and hurls his phone at his pillow.
Never has Yoongi been so deliberately crass with him before. What’s gotten into him?
He doesn’t realize how wet his eyes are until the tears drop.
[A/N: heyyy you yes please do play this awesome song because it’s MEANT for this mood tbh!]
Jeon Jungkook, Next-Door-Neighbor, Graphic Design Extraordinaire, Future Black-Belter in Taekwondo, The Last of His Name and an Aspiring Film Enthusiast, has noticed that something’s been… amiss, lately.
“Hmm.” He slurps a slushie loudly, legs swinging.
“What?” Namjoon asks.
They’re sitting at the bench outside Namjoon’s gate.
“Not that I’m a genius, because I hate arithmetic and I can’t English-ing, but I think I’m actually smart sometimes,” Jungkook says, nodding to himself. The pieces have been piecing themselves over last few days.
“Do you wanna run your conclusions by me?” Namjoon says, biting out of his steaming hotteok.
“Hyung’s bedroom lights are always on,” says Jungkook, nodding at the house opposite them. “But he doesn’t come out. He hasn’t joined our food walks. I texted him but he said he’s fine.”
Namjoon tsk-tsks out loud. “And what do you think that means?”
“Honestly, I’ve known Jimin-hyung all my life.” Jungkook is confident he can tell apart which emotion is which based on the pitch of Jimin’s voice alone. But since he hasn’t heard from Jimin in days… “I think…”
He may only be fourteen, but a man can be a man at fourteen and a child at thirty. What matters is substance!
Jungkook slurps his slushie. “Based on my calculations, I think Jimin-hyung is VERY upset about the way I edited our dance cover. That’s why he won’t see us anymore.”
All thet secrecy, the lack of contact with the outside world… Jungkook’s eyes widen. “Or, he’s joined a drug circle and has to keep the goods in the attic.”
“I don’t think the Parks have an attic,” Namjoon squints up at the house.
Jungkook shrugs. “Or maybe he’s heartbroken.”
But really, what could Jimin be so upset about that he won’t even come out to eat snacks with them anymore? It’s abominable!
Snack-eating is bro tradition, and breaking tradition requires Life Altering Reasons in order to be valid.
Jungkook says, “He better not hate my edits.”
Jimin trudges down the pavement on the sloping hill leading from his house to the newrest convenience store, kicking at stray pebbles in his way. Before he enters a he hears a soft—
He looks up. Jungkook and Namjoon are sitting on the bench outside the convenience store.
Jungkook raises one hand in greeting, expression frozen mid-chew from the steamed hotteok he’s holding. Next to him, Namjoon is drinking hot choco.
“I re-edited the dance cover,” Jungkook says as an opening statement. “You don’t have to be so upset, hyung.”
“Join us?” Namjoon offers, patting the empty space next to them.
“Here, I can show you,” Jungkook says, scooting over to make more space for Jimin while fumbling for his phone. “I chose a different font for our names.”
For the first time in two days, Jimin cracks a smile.
He excuses himself to buy his own warm hotteok, then shuffles out of the convenience store to sit with his friends. “I wasn’t upset with you,” he says to Jungkook, who then makes a curious noise.
“Then why have you been skip snack runs with us?”
Guilt encroaches Jimin’s heart.
He sighs, taking a bite out of his hotteok pancake to bide his time. Steam wafts out of the bitten portion, revealing the sweet brown filling inside.
Jimin thinks of the radio silent communication with Yoongi ever since that stupid fight, and feels the lump in his throat rise.
It was such a stupid fight. Looking back on it, Jimin doesn’t even remember why he felt so upset at all. It’s not like Yoongi hasn’t had bad days before.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Namjoon’s voice breaks through the haze.
He sounds so gentle, kind.
Jimin lets out a pitiful sob.
Jungkook’s eyes go rounder than they already are. “Oh, oh? Hyung, why are you crying? What the. Are you stressed?”
“Is school hard lately?” Namjoon asks. “My teachers have been snappy.”
“Is it your,” Jungkook lowers his voice, “dad?”
Kind. Too kind. Jimin doesn’t deserve them.
Jungkook pat-pat-pats Jimin’s back and turns to Namjoon. “I bet he got a bad hotteok. Here, hyung, you can have mine. Let’s swap.”
Jimin’s sobbing escalates to full-blown wailing, his chest heaving up and down. Jungkook leans back, staring.
“I,” Jimin manages through his tears.
“What is it?” Namjoon prompts. “We won’t laugh. Life’s tough. I get it, totally.”
“I,” hic hic, “had a fight,” hic hic, “—with Yoongi-hyung.” Jimin takes another bite of his hotteok, muffling his own cries. “And now he /hates/ me.”
Surely he’s lost that friendship by now.
“Eh?” Jungkook makes a flabbergasted, puppylike noise. “But you guys L-word each other, how could he hate you?”
“Bro, what happened?” asks Namjoon, brows drawn in concern.
Now that the floodgates have opened, the story pours out without hesitation. “I said mean shit, bro.”
He relays the situation as truthfully as he can, and his neighbors listen with as minimal interruption as possible. When he finishes, there’s an odd sense of lightness in his chest, as if an acupuncture needle has just been plucked out of a sensitive nerve. “So, now he hates me.”
“How do you know he hates you, though?” Namjoon asks. “He said so?”
“That’s the thing, we haven’t texted since,” Jimin admits. He’d texted Yoongi good morning as per their usual the following day, without reply. “But not answering my texts… that means it’s game over, right?”
“No, it could also mean he’s hurt,” Namjoon says without a trace of malice in his voice. “Or angry, but he doesn’t want to take it out on you.”
“Why won’t he just /talk/ to me?” Jimin whines, sniffling.
Jungkook shrugs. “‘Cos he’s a COWARD.”
“Or he needs space,” says Namjoon.
Jimin grunts in frustration. He’s torn between the desperate desire to understand where his penpal is coming from, and annoyance that Yoongi is so deflective and hard to read. “But not talking doesn’t solve anything.”
“Have you ever seen a shelter cat?” Namjoon asks suddenly.
Jimin nods. He loves watching animal rescue videos, and hopes to start volunteering during the summer holidays. “They’re cute but scary. They hiss and claw people a lot.”
“Scary because they’re on the defense,” Namjoon explains. “When cats get hurt, they lash out then withdraw.”
Jimin chews on his hotteok, sulking. “I did say mean things, but he called me a kid! He knows I hate when people treat me like a kid. I can’t control my age.”
Namjoon sends him a perplexed look. “So you called out his social anxiety since it’s also something he can’t control?”
“Yup. And then he started ignoring me.”
Jungkook shakes his head and wrinkles his nose at Jimin. “You know what, I feel bad for your friend, too. That was mean.”
Namjoom nods. “That must’ve hurt.”
“Okay, okay, I get it!” Jimins throws his hands up in the air. “It was wrong.”
Yoongi has every right to hate him, but it still stings to think about, especially since they haven’t talked it out. If only he could read Yoongi’s mind, get through to him. Jimin sighs & leans over to drop his head in his hands.
Jungkook asks, “Why do you care so much, anyway?”
Jimin scoffs. “I do /not/ care.”
“Bro, you skipped snack runs with us!” Jungkook cries petulantly, lips curling into a pout. “You got so upset you cooped yourself up at home!”
“Because I hate fighting with friends!”
Namjoon arches an eyebrow. “/Just/ a friend?”
“Would you skip snack runs if you had a fight with Jungkook?” Namjoon says.
Jimin gives a bitter laugh. “Of course not. I’ll drag him out and make him talk to me.”
“There you go.” Namjoon crosses and arms and gives him A Look that Jimin can’t quite discern.
Namjoon rubs the back of his neck sheepishly. “I don’t know how to break it to you, but I think you might feel less stressed if you ask yourself why Min Yoongi’s attention means so much to you.”
“He’s my friend.”
“/He’s my fwen/,” Jungkook mimics playfully. Jimin glares at him.
Jungkook snickers behind his hand.
Jimin bites down on his lower lip, considering Namjoon’s words carefully. “I like Yoongi-hyung’s attention because he is really smart. His voice calms me. He helps me see different angles to a topic. When I’m with him, I want to be good.”
“Uh-huh,” Namjoon prompts, nodding.
Jimin continues, despite his rising embarrassment. “If I have Yoongi-hyung’s attention, it means I’m good enough and I’ve earned his time. I want him to like my behavior because he’s… he’s my mentor.”
Jungkook bursts out laughing.
Jimin pinches his best friend’s arm, which makes Jungkook hiss and lean down to pull out and undo one of Jimin’s shoelaces.
Namjoon gives a calmer reaction, just grinning. “Good. Slow progress, but we’re getting somewhere.”
Jimin presses his lips together in a tight line.
“Jimin-ah, I’m gonna ask you some questions and all you need to do is answer yes or no,” Namjoon says. “Is that okay?“
Suspicion creeps up Jimin’s spine. He doesn’t like feeling grilled, but… “Fine.”
“OK. Do you admire Min Yoongi?”
“Do you want to hang out with him?”
“Do you like his attention?”
“And you feel good when he looks at you?”
“What if he looks at others?”
Jimin blinks, startled. “I… I don’t know?”
“Just answer yes or no,” Namjoon reminds him.
“Um. I want him to focus on just me, so… no.”
A new kind of light that has nothing to do with the lamppost above them glints in Namjoon’s eyes. “Do you enjoy spending time with him?“
“Do you miss him right now?”
A knot twists itself in Jimin’s gut, and he nods slowly. His voice sounds thin. “Yes.”
There’s a dull ache, a kind of undefined sadness that engulfs Jimin following those words, and he realizes that the word ‘yes’ isn’t sufficient to emphasize how true his answer is. He raises his legs and hugs his knees close. /I miss him/.
“Would you ever want to hold his hand?”
Jimin nods. “I like holding people’s hands.” To prove a point, he reaches over and links fingers with Jungkook. “See?”
Namjoon is quiet for a long pause. “Have you ever wondered what it might be like to kiss Jungkook?”
Jimin blanches. “What? Ugh. No!”
“What about Min Yoongi?”
Jimin’s mind goes blank.
As though his brain is an SD card that’s been reformatted, emptying itself of all thought. He drops Jungkook’s hand, shaking his head.
/Kiss/ Yoong-hyung? He’s never even wanted to! That’s abominable.
It’s not like Jimin has never… wondered.
He stands up abruptly, jostling Jungkook’s hand out of his grasp.
“I don’t- I don’t understand what you’re trying to say,” Jimin titters nervously, his blood rushing loudly in his ears. His throat is tight. He shakes his head. “Why does it matter if I’d k-kiss— I don’t care!”
Jungkook and Namjoon stare back at him wordlessly, until Jungkook lifts a hand as though to reflexively reach for Jimin. Then he drops it and shrugs.
“It’s okay if you do.”
Jimin’s breaths turn shallow.
Jungkook opens a bag of chips from his plastic bag. “Want a potato chip?”
Jimin, unable to quell the rising burn in his throat, turns on his heel and flees.
In the wake of his departure, Jungkook turns to Namjoon and sighs apologetically, gesturing to his bag of chips. “It’s not his favorite snack brand, you see. Hyung prefers Lotte.”
When Jimin opens their rattling gate, accompanied by only a whirl of new dangerous thoughts about the texture of Yoongi’s mouth (curse Namjoon for inserting such possibilities!), he doesn’t notice the pair of polished dress shoes outside their front door.
Jimin bursts through the door, panting from his sprint, then straightens up inmediately.
There’s a man sitting at their dining table, dressed in a crisp grey collared shirt and black trousers. It’s not their dad.
His eomma pads in from the kitchen, carrying a pot of samgyetang.
Her shining eyes land on Jimin, and she sets down the pot on the table. “Just in time! Come, Jiminie, join us for dinner.”
Jimin’s gaze slides over to his brother, who is sitting diagonally across the stranger, and when their eyes lock, Jihyun shrugs with a frown.
Tentatively, Jimin quietly slides into the seat next to his brother, diagonally across the stranger. Try as he might, he can’t help but stare.
The man is handsome for someone who looks like he’s in his forties, with a stubble across his chin and glasses that make him look sharp.
And because Jimin has manners, instead of asking directly, he turns to his eomma with a question in his eyes.
She smiles, setting aside the kitchen mittens and moving to sit next to the man. “Jimin-ah, Jihyun-ah, say hello to uncle Park Taekyung. He’s our lawyer from Seoul.”
Lawyer? Jimin’s eyebrows furrow at the word. Surely nobody in his family has gotten into anything shady in the last few months? Unless…
Before he gets to entertain the thought, the man grins at them and points at the graphic tee Jihyun is wearing. “So, Marvel or DC?”
Jihyun’s eyes flash with interest at the older man. “Marvel!” He looks down at the superhero on his shirt. “Superman’s okay, but this one’s a gift, so I just wear it anyway.”
‘Uncle’ Park Taekyung is a fun & kind man who helps their eomma with the dishes and repairs light bulbs.
Over the weekend, Jimin barely has time to reflect on whatever is happening to himself or his family, because it seems that his eomma had made plans for a sudden family outing, including picnics and fancy lunches and a trip to the museum. Jihyun warms up to Uncle Park right away.
It’s weird. Jimin has spent the last few months adjusting to spending his time at home with only his brother and mother, so having a stranger insert himself into their quality time makes Jimin feel like he’s walked into a different family altogther, an alien in his own home.
Only at night does Jimin find some form of downtime to ruminate the events of the day, where the issues with Yoongi that he’s pushed to the back of his mind return to the forefront of his focus. Jimin doesn’t yet know what to make of Namjoon’s words, but he is sure of one thing.
He doesn’t want to back down and give up on his friendship without at least trying to mend it. So he takes out a paper and pen—if Yoongi won’t talk to him through the phone, there is one surefire way to reach him.
If you think you could get rid of me easily…”
No, that doesn’t sound quite like what Jimin intended. He crumples the paper and tosses it behind him.
“My favorite hyung,
If you’re reading this, it means you’re not so angry that you wouldn’t open the envelope, right?
That means you still care, right?
So, please read on. +
When you receive this letter, it would be a week since we’ve spoken, the longest time I’ve had to go without you in a while. I miss you!
The truth is, I don’t like fighting with you. I don’t even know what I got mad, but I know what I said was wrong.
Don’t hate me?”
He posts the letter on the way to school on Monday morning before he can lose his cool and chicken out. Yoongi might receive the letter only a few days later, but Jimin can afford to wait. He’s already decided Yoongi is more important than a fight. He hopes Yoongi thinks so, too.
Meanwhile, Uncle Park keeps visiting the house to discuss ‘adult matters’ with their eomma almost every night, much to Jimin’s discomfort. Jihyun, on the other hand, is more than happy to have him over since the man never visits empty-handed. Doughnuts and snacks and a favorite.
On Friday night, Jimin comes home from school and is more than thrilled to find the house empty. Call him mean-spirited, but those nights of arriving and finding a stranger’s shoes outside their front door have been taxing. It’s not that he hates the man’s company, it’s just odd.
He sets down his bag in his room and makes a beeline for the bathroom when—
“Jimin-ah?” His eomma’s head pokes out from her bedroom.
Jimin jumps with a start. “Eomma. I didn’t know you were home.”
“I came home from my shift early today,” she replies. “To talk to you first.”
Jimin goes still, something like dread flooding his veins. His mother only uses that tone when she’s mad at something Jimin or his brother did, or when she’s laying out strict instructions for them before she leaves for one of her graveyard shifts at the hospital. “What’s wrong?”
She shakes her head. “Nothing’s wrong, honey.” She moves to plant a kiss on Jimin’s forehead before guiding him to the couch. “Just missed my son!”
Jimin squints at her. “Uh huh…?”
“And I was wondering. The last few days, they’ve been fun, right?”
“You mean with Uncle Park?”
His mother nods, eyes wide.
Jimin shrugs noncommittally and tugs at a loose thread on one of their pillow covers. “It’s cool, I guess. I feel a little tired and it’s a bit weird, but he’s not bad.”
“Would you like if everyday was like that?”
He looks up at his mother. “Huh?”
His mother licks her lower lips and cradles her elbows with her hands, hugging herself. “The truth is, well. Appa and eomma won’t be together anymore. The reason why Uncle Park is here is to help my case.”
Jimin’s body goes cold. “You’re divorcing?”
His mother nods.
A white-hot stab of pain burns behind Jimin’s eyes. “You don’t love Appa anymore?”
“It’s not that—“
“Then why are you separating? Jihyun and I, we’ve been waiting for Appa to come home. He promised to celebrate Jihyun’s birthday in spring,” Jimin elaborates.
“And you can still celebrate together,” his mother says in her best soothing voice, the same voice she would use when she senses that Jimin is about to throw a tantrum during his childhood years. “We just won’t be- we won’t be living in the same house anymore.”
“I don’t get it.”
“I know it’s a lot, that’s why I broke it to you first before telling Jihyun, it’s something I’ve been sitting on for weeks now…” his mother trails off.
Jimin is vaguely aware that there is a conversation happening, yet at the same time it feels as though he’s not present.
It’s as though his mind’s been ripped from his body, leaving him floating in the air, and if he were to focus enough he might see Park Jimin from bird’s eyeview, sitting in a couch while his mother proceeds to tear down the bricks that hold together everything he has ever known.
“…so, that’s why we made a decision to separate,” his mother says carefully, as if afraid to disturb a feral cat.
“Where will Appa live?” asks Jimin.
“The house is under his name, and he wants to move back in.”
Jimin frowns, confused. That’s a good thing, right? “With us?”
His mother falters, complexion paling. Jimin’s heart thuds. Even before she speaks, something—intuition, perhaps—already has Jimin bracing himself for the worst.
“What do you think about living away from Busan, Jimin?”
Jimin swallows. “Where?”
His mother pauses. “Australia.”
Jimin feels ill. His heart thuds so hard he can physically feel his pulse slamming against the walls of his throat. He might puke, he can’t tell.
Five seconds pass. Ten seconds. Is he even still breathing? His eyes feel so watery. His mother guides him to lean against the sofa.
She moves away to fetch him a glass of water, and when she comes back all she says is, “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But hey, new friends, new places to explore—“
“My English sucks,” Jimin says weakly. Jungkook and Namjoon’s faces flash in his mind, and already he wants fo cry.
“You’ll learn, I’ll find you the best language schools,” says his mother. “It’s a fresh start. We can survive anything as long as the family is together. It’ll be fine as long as I have you.”
Jimin stares at his mother, aghast, unable to say any more than, “You’re so selfish.”
His mother sighs and nods. “I understand. Take some time and go to your room to let off some steam. We can talk about this tomorrow morning.”
Jimin doesn’t need a second more to remove himself from the sofa and lock himself in his bedroom.
As soon as his face hits the pillow, the waterworks burst. He cries himself silly, until his mouth runs dry and his eyes are swollen red. He cries himself to sleep.
When he wakes up, a full moon is already lording over the sky, sending streams of silver through his window.
Groggily, he rubs his eyes and checks his phone for the time, only to find a notification banner for a new message, headed by a contact name he’s been craving to see all week.
hey. I read your letter.
I don’t hate you.
Jimin lets out a pained sob & hugs his phone close to his chest, fresh tears leaking out of the corners of his eyes. He presses his face to his pillow and screws his eyes shut. It hits him all at once then, that he has no safe place even in his own home. No safe place but Yoongi.
A new idea strikes him, making him freeze. He checks his phone again, mind churning like a well-oiled machine. It’s only 10pm.
The last bus to Daegu is 10.30pm. If he packs fast enough, if he makes a run for it without getting caught sneaking out of the house…
It’s not like he wants anything to do with this place anymore.
Jimin springs out of bed, with nothing but pure adrenaline pumping him into action. He dials Yoongi’s contact & presses his phone to his ear while throwing some clothes into a duffel bag. He takes out his piggy bank.
Yoongi answers at the first ring. “Hey. Jimin, look—“
“Come get me,” Jimin says hastily, keeping his voice low. “I’m going to find you.”
“Daegu. Please come get me, hyung.” Jimin can’t keep the panic from cracking his voice. “I’m on my way. Need to see you.”
“Wait, wait, wait. What are you doing? What happened? It’s so late at night—“
“Don’t try to stop me,” Jimin snaps. “I can’t take it from you today, not right now. Please, hyung, please.” He lets out a shuddering breath. “I’m going to you, so please don’t turn me away, again.”
The line falls quiet, but Jimin is breathing so hard that he’s certain Yoongi can hear him over the phone.
“Okay,” Yoongi concedes, simple and short. “I’ll text you the directions to my bus stop. Call me or text me any time you’re not sure.”
Jimin bites back a sob of relief.
It’s not his first time sneaking out of the house. During a festival a few years back, Jungkook helped him sneak out of his room by keeping his mother distracted with complaints about the broken lamp post between their houses. While her attention was diverted, Jimin tiptoed out.
This time, with the whole house quiet and dark and everyone asleep, it doesn’t take Jimin too long to slip out through the door and slither out the gates.
If anybody at the bus terminal is wondering why a kid is paying with wads of cash from his piggy bank, they don’t ask.
[a/n: this song… is the only way to describe this mood]
Yoongi texts him and keeps his mind from spiraling on the bus to Daegu.
you okay, marigold?
want to talk about it?
i feel ill
hang in there
i’ll make hot choco for you
you wanna eat anything?
There is something about bus rides at night. Signboards and streetlights blink out at the bus’ windowpane—scarlets and purples and teals screaming for Jimin’s attention, reflected in the glass. But Jimin’s eyes are hazy throughout the entire ride, his mind steeped in sludge.
He ought to be more jittery than this. He realizes just how crazy he’s behaving, how this is the wildest stunt good boy Park Jimin had ever attempted in his young life. But it’s just so hard to care right now. The ride takes roughly over an hour. At some point, Jimin dozes off.
He wakes up to his phone vibrating with an incoming call. Yawning, Jimin answers. “Mm, hyung?”
A sign blows through the other end of the call. “Okay, you’re awake. When you get down the terminal, just follow the text I sent you, have you read it?”
“Mm-hmm. Fifth bus stop.”
“Good boy. Text me if you have a hard time transferring buses, no— text me when you reach the terminal.” Yoongi takes a deep breath. “Actually, just text me whenever. I’ll wait for you at my bus stop. Unless you want me to fetch you at the terminal itself?”
Jimin almost smiles.
“It’s all right, I can manage. Are you worried?”
“Yah, are you kidding me?” Yoongi answers, his voice taking on a rough edge. “Of course I— look, just come here quick, okay?”
“Stay safe. See you in a bit.”
Jimin’s heart skips a beat. “See you.”
He arrives in Daegu half an hour later, and successfully finds the correct local bus that would bring him to Yoongi’s neighborhood. It’s one of the more obscure uptown areas in the city, every street lined with gated estates and high-rise buildings.
Jimin counts the number of bus stops until Yoongi’s. When the fifth one looms into view, he whips out his phone to type a quick text, but then falters when he narrows his eyes at the lone, coated figure pacing up and down the otherwise empty bus stop.
The bus grinds to a halt.
As soon as the doors slide open, Jimin bounds down the steps and makes a run towards Yoongi, who’s waiting with his hands in his pockets.
The duffel bag slides off Jimin’s shoulders. Cold air zips past.
“Yah, what were you think—“
Jimin launches himself into Yoongi’s embrace.
His second time meeting the guy, and he’s already wrapping both arms around Yoongi’s neck. Jimin supposes he should feel a lot more awkward about this, but all he feels is calm.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs into Yoongi’s ear. “I hurt you and now I’m troubling you.”
Yoongi is frozen.
Jimin steps back sheepishly and gives a pinched expression, disentangling his arms from around Yoongi’s neck, embarrassed as he realizes Yoongi hasn’t hugged him back. “Thanks for fetching me.”
Yoongi undoes the scarf around his neck and wraps it around Jimin. “I’ve got you.”
Jimin smiles ruefully.
“Cold?” asks Yoongi. He picks up Jimin’s duffel bag.
/My hands are./ Jimin shakes his head.
“Let’s go. My house is this way.”
Jimin trails Yoongi and burrows into the scarf, and for the first time since last night he closes his eyes and—
“Sorry for the mess,” Yoongi says as he lets a wide-eyed Jimin through the front door. “We weren’t expecting visitors.”
Jimin hasn’t managed to speak a word since the moment they entered the gate, purely because his mouth hasn’t closed yet. He swallows. “/What/ mess? This is…”
All these years of communicating with each other, and Jimin had no clue how well-off his penpal’s family is. He’d always assumed that Min Yoongi was just a regular kid like him, but how that he thinks about it, Yoongi often used to write about having to attend formal functions.
“Your house has TWO floors,” Jimin croons as he walks down the hallway, neck craned upwards to take in the various framed photos on the wall. He stops at a portrait of a lady in a navy blue dress and gasps. “Is this the famous opera singer Min Jooyeon?”
Yoongi shrugs. “Uh huh?”
The pieces click into place. /Min Yoongi/.
Jimin is just about ready to yell into the void. He says slowly, “Hyung. Your eomma is one of Korea’s National Treasures?!”
Yoongi makes a face. “That’s an exaggeration.”
“B-But she’s the Miracle Singer, the Golden Voice of the 90s!”
Yoongi balks at each pseudonym as he sets Jimin’s bag on the floor. He opens his mouth to answer, but just then, a bounding noise comes from the stairs—
“You’re lucky they’re not home, or she would’ve gloated while pretending to be humble in front of you,” says a familiar voice.
Jimin glances up just in time to see Seokjin leaning over the winding, spiral staircase, a mug in hand. He offers Jimin a casual salute. “Hey, there, marigold.”
The nickname has Jimin forgetting the reason why he came. Yoongi makes an incredulous & sends an icy look at Seokjin.
Jimin returns his greeting with a shy wave. “Sorry for the intrusion, EatJin-ssi.”
Seokjin throws his head back with a laugh. “Yah—just call me hyung. And you’re welcome in our humble abode.”
Jimin could hardly call this mansion /humble/. He looks at Yoongi. “So, your parents?”
“Away for business in Hong Kong,” Yoongi grunts, turning around and motioning for Jimin to follow. “Well, abeoji has business, and eomma usually just tags along. She likes to travel. Anyway. Have you eaten?”
Jimin shakes his head. In his frustration, he’d forgone dinner at home.
Yoongi shakes his head at him. “Figured. I made kimchi jjigae.”
Jimin’s eyes light up. His favorite!
“Sit down, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says, padding into the kitchen to pour himself some lemon water. Jimin gingerly takes a seat at their expensive-looking, dark wooden dining table.
“Want some tea? It was pretty chilly out tonight,” Seokjin offers while Yoongi busies himself with scooping a generous portion of stew into a bowl.
Jimin can only nod, watching in quiet amazement as the two brothers bustle about the kitchen in perfect harmony, not a word spoken.
Within a span of minutes, a steaming bowl of warm soup is being placed in front of Jimin, its savory aroma making his stomach growl. Yoongi hands him silverware before shifting to sit in the chair directly across him.
Then Seokjin settles next to his brother, carrying a tea tray.
Jimin stares at the steam wafting from the bowl, his breath hitching with emotion. He’s gotten so used to taking care of others that he’s forgotten what it’s like to be taken care of. Most days he cooks his own meals, or helps his eomma prepare them.
“Eat,” Yoongi instructs.
Jimin picks up his spoon and takes a sip of broth, eyes blowing wide at the tangy, slightly spicy flavor that bursts on his tongue. He makes an appreciative noise, then wolfs down the rest of the soup. He’s so preoccupied that he misses Yoongi and Seokjin exhanging fond glances.
“Slow down,” Seokjin says when, at some point, Jimin accidentally chokes on his own spit and starts hacking loudly, He beats a fist to his chest with one hand while the other grasps around for the cup of water that Yoongi is fetching for him.
“But it’s SO good,” Jimin whines.
Yoongi’s lips twitch upward, but his face doesn’t quite break out into a full smile. He crosses his arms and leans back, studying Jimin. It’s the kind of curious, probing look that makes Jimin feel like a specimen being scrutinized, and he hates it.
So he asks questions instead.
“So,” Jimin starts, pausing to swallow his food. He considers what would be the best, most tactful way to probe without being nosy. How would Jungkook phrase his burning curiosities? He decides to adopt the frank approach that Jungkook Might Take—
“Are you guys chaebols?”
Yoongi snorts. Seokjin chokes on his tea and lowers it to its saucer with a loud plink.
“It’s not a Samsung heirs situation, if that’s what you have in mind,” says Seokjin. “My dad runs an independent textile business and he’s just been lucky with his career decisions so far.”
“Ohhh.” Jimin nods slowly, trying to make sense of this information. He’s not quite sure how to classify Yoongi’s family’s status, but it’s not like it changes anything major—his adoration and admiration for his Yoongi hyung has always been intact since they were kids, after all.
There’s another question burning at the forefront of his mind, one that’s been planted ever since he crossed paths with Seokjin. With the difference in surnames, Jimin never would have guessed they’d be brothers. But before he can ask, Yoongi says, “Does anyone know you’re here?”
Jimin bites his bottom lip and shrugs. “I left without telling.”
“You…” Yoongi smacks two palms against the sides of his head. “You ran away from home?”
“What about it?” Jimin snarks, pouting. “Did you think I just suddenly wanted a fun sleepover in the middle of the night?”
“Not that I’m against sleepovers, but”—Seokjin gives him a stern look, which honestly makes Jimin squirm more guilty than Yoongi’s glare—“won’t your parents worry? I don’t wanna get into trouble.”
Jimin swallows a mouthful of kimchi jjigae. “It’s not like I’m planning to stay.”
“Still. I don’t want your mom to freak out—she should know you’re here,” Yoongi says in an even manner.
He’s never felt so before, but right now Jimin’s nerve-endings prickle at how calm and /rational/ his penpal has to be all the time. “Let her freak out then. She deserves it.”
Now that he’s gained some proper distance from home, Jimin can feel his initial devastation boil into anger. It’s not fair that his eomma is the only one who gets to call the shots just because she’s the adult! Jimin can’t wait to turn legal. “She should face the consequences.”
“Park Jimin,” Yoongi says, and the tone of his voice sends hit tears gathering at Jimin’s eyes. It’s such a double whammy that the one person Jimin had relied on taking his side seems so against his decisions. Jimin turns away stubbornly.
“Jiminie. What happened? Tell hyung.”
Yoongi’s hand creeps across the table to nudge Jimin’s trembling pinky finger. “Pssst. C’mon. I’m sure it can’t be that bad.”
Jimin’s walls break with a hapless whimper. “But it is. Hyung, my parents are divorcing.”
Seokjin gasps. Yoongi’s eyes widen.
“And we’re moving away.”
“What?” Yoongi splutters. “Where to?”
Jimin clenches his fists. “Australia.”
Yoongi withdraws his hand to his lap without a single word. His gaze falls to some undefined spot on the table. Jimin wishes he would say something.
It’s Seokjin who clears his throat. “That’s far.”
Jimin leans forward to sip some broth, if only to distract himself from waiting for Yoongi’s reaction. “Mm-hmm.”
“When will you move?” Seokjin prods, keeping his tone light as if they were discussing sports news.
Jimin shrugs. “Dunno. Doesn’t matter ‘cos I’m not going.”
“Do you have any other places to stay?”
“I could... I could stay with my aunt and uncle in Chuncheon,” Jimin says, puffing out his chest. “I don’t want to be uprooted in the middle of the semester.”
“I’m sorry,” Seokjin offers with a wistful frown. “I can see why you ran here.”
“Yeah. Hey, why don’t you take me in? I’ll do the housework. You won’t have to pay me.” Jimin laughs humorlessly. “Hah. Just kidding.” He glances at Yoongi, who’s frowning down at something on his lap. His lack of a reaction makes Jimin feel uneasy.
“While that’s not such a bad idea, I don’t think we have custody of you,” Seokjin says with a good-natured smile. There’s this empathetic aura about him that makes anyone he talks to feel at ease. “Please don’t be the reason this family gets jailed for child labor.”
Then his gaze slides back to Yoongi, and his heart sinks just a little bit more. His penpal’s demeanor had gone from curious and even a little excited at having Jimin in his home, to gloomy and silent. This is another reason why Jimin was reluctant to explain the whole thing.