the habits of a broken heart.
☾ genre : soulmates au, unrequited love, art student!JK, english student!Y/N, angst, fluff, subtle enemies to lovers
☾ pairing : jeon jungkook x reader
☾ summary : jungkook and you are soulmates. so says the matching crescent moons on both your wrists. however, things are never as easy as they seem, and you are quick to learn that falling in love with someone who does not believe in love is a one-way ticket to heartbreak.
“You still are, you know. Worth it.” You release a shaky breath. “But I was stupid to think that I am too.”
☾ word count: 26.3k (my biggest one yet!)
☾ author’s note: this took forever oh my gosh! i really hope you like it! it’s my first time writing such a big single piece, and trying a different style. thank you so much for your support, always! please let me know what you think ♡
The first time he had his heart broken, Jeon Jungkook had been 13 years old. He was fresh out of middle school and so ready to face his freshman year with an impressionable mind and plenty of voice cracks to earn him months worth of teasing. You see, at the age of 13, Jungkook wasn’t something to swoon over. He had yet to grow into his ears and Dr. Park assured him that his braces would be off as soon as she could get them. He was a little lanky and a bit too reticent to be considered social. So when a girl in his grade comes up to him, nervous and stuttering, and asks him to go to the heavily romanticized homecoming dance, Jungkook has already come to the conclusion that she might be his soulmate, even if he was far too young to get his mark yet.
Her name was Mina, and Jungkook is confronted with this memory every time he visits home and his mother makes the family flip through the photo albums dating back to his high school years. He grimaces every time he sees the picture of them together. Him in a pink button-up to match her offensively ugly ruffled taffeta dress.
Mina broke up with him three months after that picture was taken, through one of her friends no less and in front of his entire gym class. Jungkook couldn’t remember how long he cried for while he felt the pain from his first heartbreak would never go away, regardless of how much time passes. He held onto his mother and sobbed out the agony and humiliation of Mina not wanting to be his girlfriend anymore, and how he had lost his soulmate before he even knew it was her. His mother assured him that without the mark, there was no way to be sure and that there was hope. But back then, all Jungkook could think of was ways to avoid Mina the next day, especially when they sat next to each other in 3rd period biology.
At 13 years old, Jungkook thought he would never find love again.
He is 18 when he stands alongside his parents in a pale examination room and awaits his destiny. He’s leaving for college the next day, yet the only thing that’s making him nervous is the mark that will inevitably appear on his wrist in the next few minutes. The same one he would find on his soulmate’s, and Jungkook wonders if there is the possibility of scaring everyone away when the first thing he’ll ask on a date is: can I please see your wrist?
To say the least, Jungkook is petrified. Because that mark on his wrist is going to serve as a constant reminder of his missing piece, and Jungkook knows he’ll always feel lacking until he finds them.
It’s a crescent moon. Small and black and nestled comfortably on his skin. He knows many times the marks don’t have any correlation with the couples, but Jungkook wonders if you are an astrologist. Or an astronaut. Or just had a weird affinity for the moon. He smiles when they congratulate him and can’t stop himself from thinking that he might be in love with you already. Wherever you are. When he leaves for university, he feels less lonely when there is a crescent moon to accompany him.
Contrary to the beliefs of his 13-year old self, Jungkook does fall in love again. Hard. This time, it was a girl with brown hair and big eyes and a smile so pretty he could see it from across a crowded room. She was a grade below him; a frazzled college freshman with no clue to where her lecture hall was, and he: a sophomore who had a compulsion of changing his major every other month. When he met her, it had been chemical engineering and three weeks before that was film composition. Her name was Yoojung, 18 years old while he was 19.
Her soulmate mark is a single star, and even though he knows she is not his soulmate, he can’t help but to think how perfectly their marks complement each other. How they would make a perfect night sky.
They had met at a frat party, no less, and the combination of cheap booze and bad hiphop music had made her look so incredibly gorgeous under the dim lighting. They had their first kiss in a random person’s living room, highly intoxicated and much too irresponsible and Jungkook had barely even remembered it in the morning until she showed up at his doorstep and invited herself in. Yet it wasn’t too long before he made a perfect space for Yoojung in his life.
Each day after his physics lecture, he’d go to her dorm and they’d chat over breakfast until she had economics at 10 o’ clock. After she was done, he’d insist that they go get a greasy hamburger at the joint his friends took him to when they got high and, she’d end up dragging them both to the health food restaurant that prided themselves on only using organic. Leave it to Jungkook to find himself a vegan girlfriend.
Sometimes though, when he looks at Yoojung, his mind drifts to his actual soulmate and a little flower named guilt blooms in his chest. But he is so young and his other half could be anywhere in the world, so Jungkook thinks there is no harm in allowing himself to indulge in a little affection. These days, it wasn’t completely abnormal for soulmates to part ways, and when Yoojung is in his arms, Jungkook likes to think that his soulmate would understand. They would want him to be happy. In the middle of synchronizing their busy student schedules and sneaking in quick kisses through cramming for finals, he had found it unnervingly easy to fall in love with her.
Deeply and blindly in love.
Yoojung brought him home to her family on fall breaks and the occasional winter vacation and Jungkook had melded perfectly into their dynamic. The son I never had, her father would tell him over the dinner table while her mother constantly made sure his plate was piled high. Her little sister was visibly in love with him, and would ask Yoojung where he was every time she came home from university, yet avoiding him at all costs when he was there.
Jungkook’s own family, however, was a different story. To put it delicately, they had liked it more when he came home by himself and left her at school. It had put a strain on their relationship sure, but at the end of the day, Jungkook loved her. A simple love.
Every day he remembers that their marks do not match. But if this is love and he feels like he is on cloud 9 with every moment they are together, Jungkook begins to doubt if the universe’s will is truly divine and successful. Maybe Yoojung was his soulmate and it did not matter what was on their wrists.
He loved her intensely, and she did him. She was the first thing on his mind when he woke up and manifested in his dreams when he slept at night. To Jungkook, Yoojung could do no wrong. Like some sort of divine being or angel that the heavens sent just for him, and he found himself thinking maybe he wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life beside her.
But he would come to learn that the higher the climb...the harder the fall.
Jungkook and Yoojung were together for the better part of 4 years before she cheated on him with a guy that she’d supposedly met a couple weeks ago. When Jungkook screams at her asking why she had been disloyal, Yoojung shows him her wrist. Her single inked star.
“I found my soulmate, Jungkook. And I love you so much, you know I do. I didn’t know how to tell you so I…”
The rest of her words fade into white noise and all Jungkook can do is look at her and commit every detail to memory as he feels her fade farther away. Her teary and remorseful brown eyes. Her plush lips. The fan of her eyelashes and the mole on the side of her temple. He’ll never get to see her like this again.
“I was ready to be with you, soulmate or not. I know it’s not fair but I wanted the same from you”, he whispers, falling down on the couch and burying his face in his hands.
“Soulmates be damned, the universe was wrong. I was so hideously in love with you. How could you not at least tell me when you met him?” Jungkook feels his heart collapsing in on itself with every word of resignation. Of burgeoning acceptance. Yoojung can only mirror his desolate expression and stares down at the star on her skin.
Jungkook wishes it were a moon.
“Just go, Yoojung.”
It would have hurt less if it was only a one night stand with a stranger she did not know the name of. He was in love and spineless enough to move past a one night stand. However, Yoojung had found her soulmate and fallen in love with him. Jungkook had merely acted as a placeholder for the real deal to come along and sweep her off her feet.
This time he doesn’t cry. Just stares out the window of his living room and wonders what it would be like to disappear altogether. When the door is slammed shut, and he is left to nurse his aching soul, Jungkook apologizes in advance to the person that shares the same mark on their wrist as him. He no longer believes that soulmates exist.
When Jungkook looks back at his 13 year old self with the innocent construct of what heartbreak feels like, he wants to laugh and maybe slap that stupid boy upside the head. Yoojung had destroyed him. Destroyed the innocent and starry-eyed person that he’s tried so hard to preserve. Destroyed his vulnerability and bright outlook on life and in their place, cultivated walls of rock and steel meant to keep everyone out and him safely tucked inside. In her wake, Yoojung left behind a shell of a man who pushed his emotions so deep he became numb and forgot what it was like to feel.
So Jungkook does what he always does to push away the hurt. He changes his major; to art history this time. He stacks up bracelets on his wrist to forget the mark of a moon. He scrapes up his rainy day money and treats himself to the most expensive pair of Saint Laurent boots he’s ever worn. He tests the limits of the human liver, and takes advantage of the biceps and jawline he’s acquired since high school to establish a reputation.
To his friends, Jungkook remained raucous and always down to order infinite rounds of shots until he couldn’t see straight. To those that looked even closer, Jungkook was so completely shattered he didn’t even feel it anymore.
The second time he had his heart broken, Jungkook was 23. He promised himself he wouldn’t let it happen again.
“For the last time, Jimin, I’m not going to give you a blowjob so you can pay for my student loans.”
You don’t know how many times you’ve had this conversation with your roommate. Most of the time, it was convenient to have a roommate whose parents were loaded and sent him monthly installments that looked more like small loans than allowances. You knew he just wanted to help. Heck, he probably would be willing to pay them off for you without the promiscuous favor, but you had made it clear to Jimin that you wouldn’t be riding off of his charity.
“Ugh, Y/N you’re really no fun”, he sighs, falling backwards onto your twin-sized bed and feigning devastation. You reward his melodrama with a giggle, ruffling your hands through his fried hair. Jimin had a knack for changing his hair color as quickly as his mood.
You look at the bill that’s staring back at you from your computer screen, and it feels like it’s just reached out and punched you in the face. “Hey do you think it’s a common mistake for bank tellers to add a few too many zeroes?”
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m rationalizing as a self-defense mechanism.” Sometimes it was annoying that your roommate had a degree in psychology. Then again, Jimin was making more money than you and your degree in English.
You sigh deeply and look up at the ceiling in attempts to quell your tears of frustration. And also because it is a plea to whoever is up there controlling your destiny: please I’m begging you. Melt my debt away.
You and Jimin sit in comfortable silence and he plays with the hem of your worn comforter while you scroll through the emails you have been ignoring in your inbox. You want to smash your head in at all the deadlines. Times like these, there is one thing that brings you comfort and always has since you turned 18.
The quaint little crescent moon that sits right atop your radius.
You had a habit of pressing your thumb against it and feeling your pulse against the mark, stupidly wondering if your soulmate’s heartbeat has synched up with your own. If he was out there somewhere, touching his mark and wondering the same about you. He was taking his sweet time, that’s for sure. Jimin sees your nervous tic and sighs again.
“You’re so hopelessly romantic it makes me want to barf, Y/N.” You scowl at his words and chuck a pillow at his unsuspecting face.
“I don’t understand you, Jimin. Your soulmate is out there and you’re not the slightest bit curious? You don’t want to do anything extra to find them?” Jimin looks at you with a knowing smile.
“That’s exactly it, though. I know they’re my soulmate and I’ll find them when the time is right. So why worry about it? It’s better not to force anything.” His statement is followed up with a grin and his fingers reach out to pinch your cheeks. This was the dynamic of your friendship. He is easy-going and flows like a careless river. You’ve read one too many books to not vie and daydream for the moment you lock eyes with your soulmate.
Your mom always said that you’ll know just from a look. It’s like getting hit over the head with a ray of sun, she said. Like suddenly their eyes are the only eyes you ever want to look into again. Since then, you’ve dreamt for the day you find someone with that same moon on their wrist. For now though, you had more immediate concerns more along the lines of crippling debt.
“What do I do, Jimin? Should I be a stripper?” He laughs and the thought makes you groan. You couldn’t even walk in heels, much less try to dance or look like you didn’t have two left feet. Stripper life just wasn’t for you.
“Hm...I could call in a few favors for you at the office. Get you an internship or secretary position.”
“Maybe. Too much nepotism. Your father owns the office you work at”, you remind him, and his eyebrows crease further in thought. God, maybe you do have to be a stripper.
“Wait!” Jimin yelps so suddenly you almost fling the computer off your lap.
“I think I know someone. He’s been looking for a model for his art portfolio or something, and he said he’s willing to pay.” Jimin reaches for his phone and his thumbs type up a storm while you watch from the sideline.
“I think he mentioned it’s about a month-long project. You’d just have to be on call whenever a stroke of genius arrives.”
“That sounds great! I’m an amazing model!” you crow, to which Jimin giggles again.
“The several candids I have in my camera roll tell a different story, Y/N.” Naturally, he receives another pillow to the face. But you follow up with a cheery kiss to his cheek as you rejoice in the new opportunity for cash flow by a celebratory dance, which looks more like a wiggle when you remain seated on your bed.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”, you chirped, “I owe you one.”
“Hey...I know how you can repay me.”
When you look towards him, his eyebrows are raised inquisitively and there’s a devilish smirk on his lips.
Jimin gets a third pillow to his face that day.
Jungkook’s favorite type of arguments to get into is whether Neo-classicism or post-impressionism had the most impact on European art and architecture. Call him a snob, but he loves to prattle on about Degas and Caillebotte until his opponent tires or concedes out of pure exhaustion. Jungkook regards it as a battle strategy: bore your enemy so that they stop fighting.
He’s in the middle of a heated debate with his classmate from graduate school when he receives a phone call from Park Jimin. Now, Jungkook has no idea how or when Jimin became an installment in his life, or how he’s roped his way into his inner circle. He just remembers waking up one day with a killer hangover and finding that there was a pink-haired stranger lying on his floor. When he tried to shoo him out, the stranger shoved a wad of money in his shirt pocket, muttering “just five more minutes”, and Jungkook was in no position to deny easy cash. Jungkook now considers Jimin one of his close friends.
“What’s up, Jiminie?” He laughs into the microphone.
“I told you not to call me that, you brat. I’m older than you.”
“I’m taller than you.”
“My dick is bigger.”
“I-okay fine you got me there.” He hears Jimin wheeze over the line as he tries to rein himself in to say what he needs to say.
“In all seriousness, though. I have a proposition for you.” Jimin lilts in a mischievous tone, which makes Jungkook nervous enough to get up from the café table he had been sitting at with his friend and careen to a quieter corner.
“Okay, so you know how you were telling me about your portfolio for the gallery. The one you have to submit by the end of the season? How you needed a model on call 24/7 in case inspiration struck?”
Jungkook wants him to spit it out because he has been searching high mountains and low valleys for someone that would be willing to be his muse for a month or two. Constantly at his beck and call so he can finish this damn portfolio and get his name out there in the art world. Maybe start debating post-impressionism with the cream of the crop.
“I think I’ve found someone to do that for you.” Jungkook exhales in relief at his words.
“She’s my roommate and she’s super low on cash and unemployed with a bachelor’s in English literature, so she’s got time to spare.” Perfect. That way, Jungkook can call her whenever he needs to.
“That’s amazing, Jiminie. Can she meet me at the art building tomorrow at noon? We can start right away.” Jungkook breathes through the phone, a small weight coming off his shoulders now that another thing had been accomplished. One less thing he had to worry about on the journey to his goal. Jimin confirms the plans and they exchange pleasantries before Jungkook hangs up as the man on the other line starts screaming about his burning lunch on the stove.
Jungkook catches sight of the mark on his wrist when he looks down, and quickly rearranges his bracelets so that it is once again covered to his eyes. Out of sight and out of mind.
The gallery portfolio had been a thorn in his side. It had been months in the making and if he allows himself to reminisce, Jungkook remembers the nights he and Yoojung stayed up until dawn and talked about his blossoming interest in art. How he wanted a space of his own to display his works. Back then, she listened to him with stars in her eyes and basked in the afterglow of post-coital cuddling, promising that she would help him achieve it.
His heart sinks at the memory of the imprint of her tresses of hair spilling on his bedspread. He burned those sheets the second she left.
Jungkook represses his intrusive thoughts about Yoojung and wills her to get out of his head. He forces it down until it feels like he’s just dumped ice water over his heart and vomited out any semblance of emotion. He makes his way back to the cafe table with a sly smile that hides the internal ache he’s promised himself to never let anyone suspect of.
“So what were you saying about Renoir’s Moulin de la Galette?”
The art building is situated besides a library, with a bakery flanking its left. Two years spent at the university, and you’ve never once stepped foot there. Maybe it was the daunting abstract sculpture on the front lawn or the prejudices you held against annoying art snobs on their high horses, but you often found yourself subconsciously avoiding the space in intimidation.
“Okay, Y/N, you’re going to do this so you can pay off your loans”, you whisper under your breath, words meant for your ears and no one else’s. “And if he asks you to pose nude, you run the opposite direction.”
It was easy to get lost in the building. For art students that know how to draw, they really took advantage of abstractionism to make the most confusing map you had ever seen in your life. Luckily, with some direction from the vapid front desk secretary and some intuition, you were able to to find room 62B. You don’t think you’ll be able to forget the number 62B if you tried, Jimin had screamed it to you so many times as you left the apartment.
The door soundlessly opens with a nudge of your hand and you stick your head inside.
“You know when Jimin told me he found me a model, he didn’t mention her lack of punctuality.” His voice is calm and subdued with no lingering annoyance, even if his words are uncourteous. You whip around to him and the first sight you see of Jeon Jungkook is merely a tuft of brown hair behind a vast canvas. And some expensive looking leather boots that anchor his feet to the ground.
You clear your throat and approach with an outstretched hand and the shiniest smile you can muster.
“I’m Y/N. Jimin’s roommate. It’s nice to meet you.”
“You can call me Jungkook.”
It is when he steps out from behind the canvas that you finally understand what your mother meant when she said meeting your soulmate feels like getting hit over the head with a ray of sunshine. You can’t describe it any other way, but that’s exactly what it feels like. Like the air becomes so sweet in your lungs it turns to viscous honey. Like suddenly the person standing in front of you is Valentine, encapsulated.
You know he feels it too, yet you don’t know why he forces himself to remain blasé, and if you hadn’t seen his widened eyes and heard the gasp from his lips you would have never suspected anything at all. Stranger courtesy is abandoned and you forcefully grab his wrist, turning it over to find his mark while pulling up your sleeve to reveal your own.
A little black crescent moon.
Right on the pulse point.
Just like your’s.
When you finally muster up the nerve to look into his eyes again, you wonder if it is healthy for the human heart to beat so fast and so thunderously it feels ready to jump out of your chest. Jungkook, however, still wears that same expression on his face. Flat and cold, not even a glimmer in his eyes. He stares at you disinterested and wrenches his wrist from your grasp.
“Wait, Jungkook...aren’t you….”, you sputter through a desperate smile, “aren’t you happy?” He stays silent and trains his attention on the canvas in front of him, but you can see the conflict that swirls in his iris.
“I’ve been looking for you for so long! And I’ve finally found you. In the art building no less, just my luck that-”
“Y/N, I don’t know what you expect from me but I’m not looking for anything right now.”
There were no objectively ugly words. But you think the ones that have just spewed from Jungkook’s lips come pretty close. They stoke a fire in your chest.
“What do you mean? We’re soulmates”, you faltered, sinking deeper into confusion as you stare at the unaffected man in front of you, whose only concern is the conglomerate of paint on his palette.
Jungkook sighs monotonously. Almost as if he had better things to do than be here.
“It’s only a mark on your wrist. And we just happen to have the same one. Amazing that you still think somehow one single person was made entirely just for you.” His words are bored and he doesn’t even have the decency to look you in the eye when he speaks. You think you might want to punch him if you weren’t so speechless.
“Look”, he sighs as if you were inconveniencing him, “I’m not going to sugarcoat it and tell you that I’m the one you’ve been looking for this whole time. We have the same mark, but...I’m not the guy you want.”
“B-But...I’m your soulmate. We-we’re made for each other.”
Jungkook scoffs harshly, and you want to sink into the ground. “That’s just a silly myth.”
“So you don’t...believe in soulmates?” The words felt wrong to say when all your life, finding your soulmate felt like the ribbon at the end of the finish line. But here he was now, and you felt so small under his gaze. Like you weren’t meant to be there and standing in the same room with him was a concoction for heartbreak.
Jungkook’s syllable pangs in your ear, and you think it might be your least favorite sound. Then you leave. And if it was hard for you to meet your soulmate - the person who you’re destined to be with - who doesn’t believe in you, then walking away from him was a different cross to bear.
You take the bus home and ignore the glare of strangers when you burst into tears at a red light, and cry the rest of the way back. Your mother hadn’t described this. She prosed on and on about the feeling one gets after finding a soulmate but never mentioned to you how it feels when you find out they want nothing to do with you. What do you do when you realize the person you’ve been chasing for forever has been trying to run away at the same time?
Jimin holds you together that night on your bedroom floor, while you break apart and scratch at the moon on your wrist until your skin breaks. He listens to the words you sputter; as much as he can decipher when they are drowned out by the painful sound of your sobbing. Jungkook’s beliefs bleed into your consciousness. Perhaps he is right and perhaps there is no such thing as true soulmates, and the marks are obsolete.
However, when you fall asleep in your friend’s arms from the physical fatigue of violent crying and the sheer mental exhaustion of meeting Jeon Jungkook, your mind comes to a more painful conclusion.
A more truthful conclusion.
Your soulmate only needed to meet you to decide that he did not want you.
Jungkook doesn’t believe in soulmates. He thinks they’re a stupid coy to give people false hope. An illusion to feign happiness and to take Yoojung away from someone she genuinely loved. Though in the hours of the night, when he is by himself and the bed feels too big for one body, Jungkook wonders if there is truly a reason why someone has an identical moon on their wrist. But he is still so broken and unhealed from the wounds Yoojung left behind.
So instead of soulmates, he thinks about what she must be doing. If she’s eating well. If she’s moved in with her own soulmate and if they’re happy together. Jungkook is an involuntary masochist and he pays for it with every pillowcase that becomes stained with his tears.
He sighs out an expletive after downing a shot of whiskey, relishing in the familiar burn as it slides down his throat. Alcohol doesn’t seem to be working efficiently, though. He’s only barely tipsy after years in college building tolerance, and he can still see your face each time he blinks. Like you are imprinted on the back of his eyelids. Jungkook wonders why Jimin had cancelled on the group tonight.
There is a little devil called remorse and it stands atop his shoulder, unseen by everyone but him, and Jungkook decides he will get rid of it by calling another round of shots. From his seat in the dirty booth, he can see Min Yoongi and his soulmate practically dry humping on the dance floor. If anyone asks him if he ever gets jealous seeing soulmates happy and in love, he’ll laugh in their face and tell them he pities people like that. People that are so blinded by the system. But loneliness is a stern mistress and it makes him think of you. How lovely the moon looks on your wrist. How your hand felt so warm when it caressed against his skin.
He tips his head back again. Vodka this time.
“Dude, are you okay?”
To his right comes Kim Taehyung, designated driver extraordinaire, and he looks at Jungkook with friendly concern laced with amusement. Jungkook nods contentedly.
“Soulmates are so bullshit, Tae”, he snickers, fingers tracing the rim of the shot glass and smirk on his face to mask the bitterness of both the alcohol and his heart. Taehyung spares a knowing glance, resting a hand on his friend’s shoulder with the weight of knowledge of Jungkook’s past.
The night is young and so is he. He drinks until he can no longer taste the liquor and forgets altogether about what had happened only a couple of hours before. Until the crescent mark on his skin just looks like a shapeless black blob, and it makes him smile. He thinks he likes it better that way.
Taehyung drops him home and personally tucks him into bed while he is still in jeans and his shirt smells like the bar. His sleep is dreamless that night. When the morning comes and his friends tease him about how he begged Taehyung not to leave, Jungkook will laugh and blame the alcohol for his foggy memory. He won’t tell them that he does remember, and that he was only grasping at any warm body to soothe his aching loneliness.
Usually when he first opens his eyes in the morning, Jungkook is thinking about the next class he has to attend and if he is late (which is usually most of the time). This morning, albeit morbidly hungover, Jungkook thinks of the apple strudels they sell at the bakery next to the art building. Mrs. Kim always gets the pastry to filling ratio just right. But when he opens the door with a jubilant smile on his face and the scent of baked goods already in his nostrils, Jungkook has a feeling apple strudels will have to wait.
There you are. In all your messy-haired glory, huffing like a caged bull in the doorway of his apartment, fiery gaze directed completely at him and all he can think to say is:
“How do you know where I live?” Jungkook schools his face expressionless in your presence. He hopes this will discourage you, but it only makes you angrier.
“Park Jimin”, you snarl.
Of fucking course, it’s always Park Jimin. Jimin who drunkenly sleeps in his bedroom and now Jimin who is leaking his address to any stranger.
“Um”, Jungkook stammers and takes a step back, “what are you doing here? Didn’t I get my point through yesterday?” He can see the statement catching you off guard, and the fury in your eyes dwindles to dejection. Only for a millisecond though, before you are aiming your wrath at him once again.
You take a deep breath. “What is wrong with you?”
Jungkook can think of a lot of answers to that query. He opts to interpret it as a rhetorical question and keep his mouth shut.
“You just...found your soulmate! I’m your soulmate! And you don’t even want to get to know me? At all?”, you scream exasperatedly. Jungkook catches the gaze of a middle aged lady who is not-so-discreetly staring at the two of you, and pulls you inside his apartment by your arm. If you weren’t so frustrated, you would have been flustered at the physical contact.
“Listen. Soulmates don’t end up together all the time. I’ve told you I’m not really interested in anything right now and it’s not a priority”, he takes a breath through his passionate monologue, “and I’m sorry that that’s not something you expected, but I….don’t want a soulmate.”
Maybe...he just doesn’t want you.
When he says them out loud to a living breathing person, Jungkook realizes how cruel it sounds. He can see it in the way your eyes have become glossy under his living room lights and the way you shrink into yourself as self-defense against his blows. He rationalizes that he’d rather tell you the truth than lie to you now, only to hurt you later. Really, he’s doing you a kindness. Right?
You turn your back to him to gather your thoughts, and wipe the tears that you refuse to let him see. The salty drops sting the raw skin of your wrist after last night, and you are brutally reminded of the current reality. His brutal honesty makes you want to abandon all hope, but you were a woman with a plan. You came here for a reason, not to just lose your temper in your soulmate’s apartment and tell him what you really thought about him.
“I have a proposition for you”, you asserted calmly, staring Jungkook in the eye as he remains unbothered.
“Now I reckon something’s happened to you to make you lose all your faith in soulmates, so I’m not forcing you to do anything you don’t want to do.” Your eyebrows furrow when you speak focusedly.
“We don’t have to be together. That’s your will. But…”, you hesitate, pushing past the uncertainty and fear of another rejection from Jungkook, “will you let me at least try? You don’t have to promise anything. Can we just start as friends?”
Naturally, Jungkook wants to shoot down your offer, kick you out of his apartment, and pretend like he never met anyone by the name of Y/N. Call it divine intervention but when he looks at you, pleading for any semblance of connection, he feels a tug at his heart strings. So Jungkook makes another promise to himself. He would let you “try”, whatever that entails. But there was no virtual possibility of letting you any closer than necessary.
You both stand in contemplative silence before he lets out a resigned sigh. “On one condition”, he responds slowly, but there is already a premature grin growing on your face and you don’t think you could stop it even if you tried.
“You still have to be my model for the art portfolio.”
You agree before he even gets to take another breath.
When you finally make your way out of Jungkook’s apartment, parting ways with an awkward number exchange and a ‘see you later’, there is a simultaneous feeling of hope and desolation. The optimism for Jungkook combines with the insecurity that perhaps you, just as you are, is not nearly enough to make someone fall in love. Especially someone who disregards their soul connection to you.
You walk back to your apartment with a heavy heart that warms with embers of determination. Jeon Jungkook was an enigma. A Bastille fortress of self-defense mechanisms and destructive tendencies, and you know that there is unresolved pain. Call it a soulmate instinct or something, but you see it in his eyes. You see it in the way his face begs to show emotion but his mind refuses to acknowledge.
You know Jungkook is not obligated to accept you after the dust settles, much less fall in love with you. Under the peach blossoms of the campus sidewalk, you make a promise anyway. To yourself and to your soulmate and the silly little mark on the inside of your wrist. Even if he does not love you, you vow to help Jungkook learn to love himself.
When you are harshly woken up at 5:30 in the morning, the last person you expected to be blowing up your phone was Jeon Jungkook. If it weren’t for the pure exhaustion seeping through your bones, you would have been excited about your soulmate calling you. Alas, slumber was your soulmate now. Jungkook would have to step down.
On the other side of the paper thin wall, Jimin is frustratedly banging from his room, your ringtone reverberating throughout the entire apartment. You pick up his call without even opening your eyes.
“Y/N I need you to come to my apartment as soon as you can.” There is no sleepiness in his voice. Just clean and cold like it always is and he has hung up before you get the chance to scold him for waking you up at this unholy hour. You’re about to give him a piece of your mind but you remember he is paying you very handsomely for your efforts, and reluctantly drag yourself out of bed to call an uber. Thank god he doesn’t live too far away otherwise you’ll stick a foot through his canvas for the transportation bill.
The front of Jungkook’s apartment door is strangely therapeutic, and you find yourself falling asleep standing up after you’ve rung the doorbell. Either time passes too slowly when you are sleep-drunk or Jungkook moves to get the door as quickly as your grandfather does. Whatever the case, you are about to pass out on his doorstep if he doesn’t come soon.
“Y/N, why are you just standing there? The door has been open.”
“Jungkook. Why are you making me do this so early?”, you yawn, pushing inside the apartment.
Jungkook takes in your discombobulated appearance, and almost wants to laugh. You were still in your pajamas, and the bun on your head now looked more like a heaping blob that drooped down your temple. It was obvious that you had just rolled out of bed and he almost feels bad for disturbing your sleep, but he does not decide when his strokes of inspiration spontaneously appear.
The living room is bombarded with Jungkook’s art supplies and stray canvases, and you take note of the clay sculpting table that blends in as furniture next to his kitchen. You plop yourself down on the stool across from Jungkook’s easel, eyes still half closed and impossibly tired.
In this moment, Jungkook wipes the fact that you are his soulmate from his mind. He needs to do the portfolio. That is all he’s keeping you around for, and the only reason he agreed to your plan was so that you would remain his art model.
In the silence of his makeshift art studio, Jungkook paints whatever comes to his mind, referencing your figure on the stool for the curves he can never get right without a model and need for a human presence to translate onto his canvas. You become more lucid as time goes by and the sun starts to rise from outside his window, sitting up straighter and paying more attention to his concentrated face as Jungkook pours himself into his creation.
Looking at him in this light, you realize that he is beautiful. And not just because he’s your soulmate. Jungkook’s hair is scruffy and stubbled, undereyes sporting impressive dark circles. But the way he caresses the paintbrush and the way his body moves to the beat of the painting is poetic. He glances at you sporadically, eyes darting to and fro to capture as much as he can before the creativity burns out. He is beautiful and it makes your heart ache to know that he does not want you. In spite of the bond the universe has created.
You wonder if in his focused hazed, he notices the new glaze across your eyes and the silent sound of your soul calling out for his. You wipe away the first dripping tear as quickly as it came. You know Jungkook sees, but does not bat an eye and you can’t tell if you’d rather prefer him to acknowledge it.
It’s 8:00am when he puts the paintbrush down, takes a step back, and surveys his work. His eyes trail over each organic line and areas where he decided to use burnishing instead of cross hatching. It’s far from perfect, but it’s enough.
“Okay. You’re free to go”, he announces, plucking the painting off the easel and resting it against the wall, hidden from your eyes.
“W-What? That’s it?”, you sigh disappointedly, “you’re not even going to let me see it?” Jungkook shrugs. His detachedness makes you want to rip your hair out and sob into your pillow at the same time. You don’t understand how a person could be so unfazed.
“S’not ready for debut. Thanks for showing up, though.” He doesn’t spare you another glance. Just goes back to cleaning his brushes and dumping out the glasses of murky paint water. You ignore the twinge of hurt in your chest and slide off the stool.
“Okay, fine. Now it’s my turn. Would you like to go have some breakfast?”, you smile expectantly to Jungkook, who stares at you with an indifferent gaze. His first instinct is to make up a half-assed excuse to get out of this, eager to detach himself from you as much as possible and avoid any more interaction. However, he was insanely hungry, and the glimmer in your eye just looks so hopeful even Jungkook couldn’t bear to shoot you down.
He sighs with resignation. A little breakfast couldn’t hurt, and he wasn’t going with you necessarily. You were just...going to the same cafe in the same direction as him and likely sitting at the same table. Yeah, that’s it.
“Hurry up, I’m hungry.”
You blinked in shock at his lack of resistance.
“Yes. Now come on. I know a place with really great apple strudels.”
You weren’t aware that by ‘breakfast’, Jungkook actually meant sitting in complete silence and wolfing down food like your life depends on it. You want to be grossed out when he inhales 3 apple strudels in less than 10 minutes, crumbs flaking on his shirt without a care in the world. Yet you just feel endeared. The sight makes you smile. And maybe if Jungkook did not detest you, you would have leaned over and kissed the cinnamon sugar right off his lips.
“So….”, you sip on a sweet coffee, “Jimin told me you’re going for a masters in art history?”
Jungkook nods halfway through a bite of his pastry. “Yup.”
“Is it something you’re really passionate about?” you inquire, desperately wanting the conversation to delve into something that wasn’t so surface level.
“What are some other things you’re interested in besides art?”
Jungkook is completely clueless. He only spares glances to the windows and occasional looks to his oh so precious breakfast treats. You want to slap him and be angry, but you only sigh. It shouldn’t be so hard to talk to your soulmate, yet it felt like trying to pull teeth when he was so completely disinterested in you. You wonder if this is worth it.
You look up at him from your steaming cappuccino cup and use your wildcard.
“In my opinion, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus did little for the Italian Renaissance movement.”
Your statement almost has Jungkook falling backwards in his chair and choking on a piece of fruit filling, eyes growing as wide as saucers when he finally processes what you just said. A flaming insult to the entire art historian community.
“What do you know about Botticelli?”, he sneers, and you internally celebrate for this is the most emotion Jungkook has shown since meeting you.
“I know that his work supposedly epitomizes the spirit of the Renaissance”, you swirl the coffee in your cup nonchalantly, lips curving into a knowing smirk. “But if you ask me, Bellini’s San Giobbe Altarpiece did much more to encapsulate the values of 15th century Italy.”
Jungkook’s speechless expression is one that you want to take a snapshot of and frame it to your wall. It is glorious, and arguably more artful to you than Botticelli himself. So what, you had conveniently forgot to mention to him about the class you took junior year of college, with a professor that made you engrave the fundamentals of Italian painting in your brain. It’s so much more gratifying to see him stunned silent.
Across the table from you, Jungkook feels a warm smile itching to display itself. Before it can appear, he disguises it as a cold smirk. He feels something akin to a butterfly at the pit of his stomach, but blames it on indigestion and the inhuman pace at which he devoured his breakfast. Yeah that must be it. There was no way he was feeling butterflies.
He cracks his knuckles, raises his cup to gulp down a lukewarm green tea, and rests his elbows on the table separating the both of you.
“I don’t suppose you could tell me your thoughts on the influences of neo-classicism in the 18th century?”
“No, Y/N, turn to your left a little”, Jungkook frustratedly sighs behind the camera lens.
“Your left or my left?”
He pauses. “....left.”
To any outside eye, you and Jungkook look like two buffoons trying to take pictures on what might possibly be the windiest day of the season, under the peach blossom trees. Jungkook had called you earlier that day and stressed about how he needed mixed media in his beloved portfolio, and photographs were the next topic of interest. Though you couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just set out a fruit bowl on his windowsill and call it still life photography.
Jungkook stares down at his camera, dissatisfaction clear on his face. You almost want to apologize for your abhorrent modeling skills but hey, he was the one that chose you.
“Hmm...try staring at that boat in the distance”, he dictates, standing beside you and aiming the lens at your side profile. You do as he asks, but don’t hear the shutter of the camera. Jungkook sighs again and leans forward, so close you could feel his warm breath hitting your skin. You hope he doesn’t notice the beet blush on your cheeks.
Jungkook’s hands meet your chin when he uses it to slightly tilt your face downwards. He positions you in the way that he wants you to pose and you finally understand why photography is considered an art. Because it’s almost as if Jungkook is molding you like clay, to get the silhouette he wants to capture with his camera lens. The day is brisk, but his skin on your’s lights you on fire.
“Okay, that’s…..that’s perfect”, Jungkook breathes, hurriedly picking up the camera that had been hanging onto his neck by the strap and angling it. At the moment his index finger presses down on the button, there is a gust of wind that surrounds the both of you.
The breeze loosens a strand of your hair and it falls into your eyes. You let your eyes drift close for a second, smiling into the cold air that tingles on your skin. Jungkook’s breath catches in his throat and he thanks the skies for the howling wind so you wouldn’t be able to hear his thumping heartbeat. But surely it’s only because it’s cold. And absolutely nothing else. Jungkook coughs inconspicuously to snap himself out of his trance, sighing in relief when he realizes your eyes are still closed and that you hadn’t noticed his internal struggle.
He drags you to a bridge next and makes you lay on the cold wood to which you vehemently object before you remember that he’s paying you and that you want him to fall in love with you, not dislike you more than he already does. After the bridge, Jungkook makes you kneel beside the park pond and dip your hand in the icy water and you find yourself wanting to do the same thing to his precious camera.
Before the two of you have realized, the sun sets into the horizon and tinges the sky in a combination of purples and pinks that Jungkook himself has a hard time replicating on canvas. He aims his lens at the clouds and takes a picture that he knows won’t make it into his gallery. He just felt the need to have something to remember this day by. For no reason in particular…
A buzzing coming from your coat pocket alerts you both of the time that has passed and how the sky has considerably darkened since you began the session. When you fish your phone out, Jimin’s contact photo is staring back at you while the marimba ringtone continues playing. You put the phone on speaker.
“Hey Jiminie”, you smile and Jungkook catches a glance of it. And the discomfort in his chest is definitely, 100%, not jealousy. Not at all.
“I told you not to call me that! What is with you younger people and your disrespect for the elderly?” The corner of Jungkook’s lips twitch into a subtle smile at the similarity of your’s and his conversations with Jimin.
“Okay, okay, grandpa. What’s up?”
“Can you come home ASAP? I may or may not have broken the stove trying to make soup.”
The redundancy of his confession makes you sigh, as Park Jimin desecrating your shared kitchen space was not a rare occurrence by any means.
“I’ll be right there”, you chided through the line, “please do not cook anything else before I arrive.”
“Thanks Y/N-ie, you’re the best!” Jimin’s voice is far too cheery and you make a mental note to nag him a little extra when you get home. The phone call is ended promptly and you turn around to Jungkook, eyes widening in surprise when he has already packed up all his photography gear. The sky had turned dark and the streetlights had been turned on to illuminate the park. If you had craned your neck upwards, you would have noticed the stars that awoke again to shine down upon the city. But you didn’t. You only saw the stars that were twinkling in Jungkook’s eyes.
“Uh”, he stammers, “I’ll walk you home. It’s late.”
“Oh! Uh...Thanks.” Though he was still cold and indifferent, your heart jumped in elation. Perhaps this could be considered baby steps.
The trip home is quiet, only the sounds of your tandem footsteps on pavement and the rustle of a breeze through tree leaves fill the space of silence. But the quiet is not uncomfortable. Just a bit awkward as you two try to figure out how to be around one another. Jungkook’s hands are shoved in his pockets and your fingers itch to intertwine themselves around his own. To press your soulmate marks together and feel them calling out to each other. But you and Jungkook are anything but normal soulmates. For you are already head over heels in love with him and he is adamant on not sparing you a crumb of affection.
To your disdain, the apartment was closer than you thought and the short walk with Jungkook ended before it really even began. You could practically hear Jimin’s impatience emanating from the third story of the building.
“So I’ll see you later?”, you smile meekly. Jungkook readjusts the strap of his camera bag before nodding. He is walking away before you turn around to enter the apartment building and even though it was something small and mundane, you wished he would have waited to see you get in safely. You make your way inside, more downcast than you had been before.
You don’t see when Jungkook turns around. You don’t feel the reassurance that washes over him when the door shuts safely behind you.
That night, Jungkook is reminded far too much of Yoojung. When he goes to make his usual chamomile, he finds her mug at the very back of the tea cabinet. She must have forgotten it when she packed up her stuff. When he spoons in the sugar, he remembers how Yoojung drinks her tea with honey instead. And when he feels himself start to fall apart, he remembers how Yoojung is not there to keep him together.
Jungkook pushes away his pain, abandons the lukewarm mug of tea, and opts for an early bedtime to sleep away the ache. The camera sitting on his nightstand, though, beckons him to look over the photos you both had taken that afternoon.
In the moment, he had been dissatisfied with the pictures, always thinking there must be a better angle or a better position you could shift into. However when he looks down at his camera now, in the quiet and solemnity of his bedroom, Jungkook can’t help but to think they are absolutely perfect.
He doesn’t know whether to credit his own artistic skill or you; for breathing life into his photographs. It’s the lines of your hands, the slope of your nose, and the stray strands of your hair that makes his pictures more human.
The ones he ends up picking though, are not perfectly staged and not the ones where he made you change the position of your stance for 10 minutes. No, the best pictures were the ones he took without you noticing. When you had just been enjoying the cool breeze or admiring the beauty of peach blossom season. When you point out a cool looking bird and when you stared annoyedly past the cameras lens (at him no doubt).
Yoojung is gone from his mind for just a tiny fleeting moment. For little reason at all, Jungkook finds himself smiling. And there is only the company of the moon to see it.
It is ten o’ clock in the morning and Jungkook comes to a realization that in the couple weeks since he has met you, he has sighed more times than he has in the past 23 years of life. Jungkook sighs when you text him first thing in the morning about the dream you had the night before and describe it in painfully vivid details. He leaves them unanswered. Sometimes he wished you would just email him the google document instead. He sighs when you fidget in your seat when he’s trying to paint and keep focus, but you are only interested in asking him the snacks he has in his fridge or when he’s going to finish. He sighs when you and Jimin collectively trash his art studio by spamming his $1,000 camera with ugly face pictures and sword fighting with his sable paint brushes. Jungkook often has a hard time believing that both of you are in graduate school.
Today, he sighs when you bombard into room 62B of the art building; what is supposed to be Jungkook’s completely zen and peaceful creative space. You are tiptoeing around him as you always do, scared that you’ll do something to set him off and your soulmate will disown you for good. He glances at you once, eyes quickly darting back to the sculpture he is molding on the clay table and saying nothing.
“There’s a new cafe that just opened right across from the apple strudel place”, you gulp tensely. “I was gonna go check out the competition.” Your words seem deaf to Jungkook’s ear and he only furrows his eyebrows, fingers fussing over the mass of clay. There was just something he couldn’t get right. He didn’t know what it was.
Jungkook pushes away the sculpture frustratedly, wipes his hands on his apron, and finally looks at you. Maybe he did need a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. That’s all it was, though. A break. He wasn’t going because you asked him to.
“They better have blonde roast otherwise you’ll be compensating me for my time.” Jungkook is as ruthless and blunt as ever and you decide to look past it as you always do. Him agreeing to go with you was a mini success.
“Welcome in! You’ve stopped by at the perfect time. The strawberry scones have just been taken out of the oven!” The cafe employee is far too enthusiastic for receiving minimum wage and greeting grumpy people off the streets who just want to be caffeinated. His name tag reads Jung Hoseok.
“Oh, strawberry is my favorite”, you whisper, the statement only meant for your ears but Jungkook picks up on it anyway. He declines to tell you that strawberry is his favorite as well. Hoseok’s eyes light up when you and Jungkook approach the entrance, like he finally succeeded at luring a customer.
The cafe isn’t anything special. A bit more modern compared to the one across the street and you think you prefer the latter because this new one doesn’t have the owner’s handsome son standing at the cash register. He may not be your soulmate, but even you had to admit Kim Seokjin was a beautiful man if there ever was one. However, this cafe is warm and has ceiling length windows that let in an obscene amount of sunlight. Jungkook makes a mental note to try some pictures here in the future.
Jungkook’s phone buzzes in his pocket and you are already leaving him behind in the dust, walking straight to the counter and peering up at the menu deep in thought. You turn around to see that he is immersed in mysterious conversation, and take it upon yourself to order him a drink.
“I’ll have a matcha latte. And uh…”, you decide, trailing off as you wonder what kind of drink Jungkook would enjoy. “And an iced vanilla mocha latte, extra whipped cream, extra chocolate syrup. Do you guys have rainbow sprinkles?”
A little sugar never hurt anyone. Especially someone so often bitter like your one and only soulmate.
When Jungkook hangs up and makes his way to the corner table where you are situated, the sight of the concoction on the table is enough to give him an instant cavity. You hide your smile behind the mug of matcha. He grumbles and sits down swiftly, sticking the straw past his lips in defiance and you can only watch expectantly.
“Well…do you like it?”
This is when Jungkook realizes you didn’t order this to spite him. You just had completely zero idea what he liked and disliked and chose the first thing you thought was best. As cold as he is, he doesn’t have the heart to tell you that when he drinks coffee, he likes it black. No cream, no sugar, and the darkest roast with the most caffeine to push him through those nights spent in front of a canvas or over a clay table.
Jungkook fights to keep steady from the ambush of sugar and wills himself to swallow it down. There is sticky chocolate syrup on his hands and it feels cosmically more uncomfortable than paint. But Jungkook manages to look up at you and nod, to which you reward with a smile.
“I knew you would like it”, you say smugly, giving yourself a mental pat on the back. “You look like you have a giant sweet tooth.” There is a mellow giggle that follows your statement. Jungkook feels a flutter at the bottom of his stomach, and convinces himself it’s only because it sounds so much like Yoojung. He catches sight of the moon on your wrist, and pushes the feeling away even farther.
The two of you spend the rest of the midday there, tucked away in a corner of a cafe and losing track of time as you always do. Jungkook finds himself forgetting about the mountains of work he has to do to finish his art gallery portfolio, and the unfinished sculpture back at the studio that’s just not right.
Today, he allows himself to enjoy your presence and get to know you more. Your favorite color is yellow. You had a dog named Benny when you were a child. You detest beer with a passion, but enjoy a nightly glass of pinot grigio. Jungkook barely notices when the entire cup of coffee has disappeared. Every last rainbow sprinkle.
On second thought, he feels that maybe there was something sweeter than his unexpectedly delicious iced vanilla mocha latte with extra whipped cream. Maybe that something was sitting right across from him, rambling about the fundamentals of English literature with unexplained vigor.
Jungkook’s soul feels lighter when he goes to bed that night. And when he finally succumbs to Morpheus, his last lucid thought is of you; sun beams coming from the large cafe windows that comb through your hair. He looks at you through his mind’s eye and all he can see is the potential heartbreak you have the power to put him through. The fan of your eyelashes. The curve of your smile. The plush of your lips. All he can see is Yoojung as she crushes his soul in her bare hands.
Yet in the midst of his internal conflict, Jungkook’s subconscious allows him to fall in love with you a little bit. Perhaps not love just yet, but affection. Like a toe dip in uncharted waters or sticking his finger in a bowl of creamy cake batter just for a taste. The walls he has built are still there, strong as ever, but perhaps a couple bricks look a bit askew. He doesn’t know, but his soul calls out to your’s through the fortress.
“Y/N I don’t know why you thought this was a good idea.”
“Oh hush, just close your eyes and point where your heart tells you to.”
In the lobby of a train station, facing a map and an ETA board is where you and Jungkook will be embarking on your next “date but not really because you don’t believe in soulmates so let’s just hang out”. It had taken a good two hours of nagging and whining on your part to convince him to abandon his portfolio for just a little bit to go an outing. Now standing here, with you excitedly bouncing next to him and a mystery destination, Jungkook feels something akin to utter regret.
“What if I choose somewhere that’s a thousand miles away? Or just in the middle of nowhere?”, Jungkook groans, still putting up an unbothered and cold front.
“Well then we will go somewhere that’s a thousand miles away or in the middle of nowhere”, you quipped back at him. Jungkook had a feeling he wouldn’t be able to get out of this one.
He reluctantly places a hand over his eyes, sighing with resignation before pointing to a random spot on the map. There is a giggle that sounds to his left and Jungkook finds himself wanting to hear more.
“Wonderful choice”, you smiled, “couldn’t have picked it better myself.”
Jungkook peeked his eyes open one at a time, scared of seeing what his intuition has chosen for your guys’ spontaneous destination. He breathes out a sigh of relief when he sees that his fingers landed on a town on the outskirts of the city, 20 minutes away from the university. He silently thanks the universe for not sabotaging his wallet and time.
“We’re never doing this again, Y/N”, Jungkook speaks as you are in front of him, skipping happily to the front desk to buy two train tickets.
“Wasn’t it fun, though? The thrill?”, you chuckle at his demeanor, to which he only shakes his head vehemently. You note the newest thing you’ve just learned about Jungkook: he has an aversion to uncertainty and spontaneity.
The train ride was as brief as it was uneventful. You spent the time rambling to Jungkook about all the quips and quirks about yourself and he only listened. Though he kept quiet, his face was free of any annoyance or indication that you were speaking too much. Jungkook only stared at you and unknowing to you, he soaked in every bit of information like a sponge. If anyone asked, he could tell them what foods you were allergic to, what colors wash you out, and what vegetables you hated the most.
“Wow you didn’t have to pick somewhere so far away, Jungkook.” You muse as the two of you step out of the train car. So far away in fact, that if you were to crane your head up enough, you would be able to see the university from a distance.
“Hey, you were the one who made me choose”, Jungkook spares a rare smile, “Would you rather we have shelled out our wallets to go on an 18-hour train ride?”
“Okay, fair point.”
The city was as abundant as it was big, and the both of you walked aimlessly from avenue to avenue, stopping occasionally whenever you see a dog you just can’t help but to pet or whenever Jungkook complained about his sore feet. As cold and indifferent as Jungkook made himself out to be, you’ve quickly come to realize that he’s actually a big baby. He still hasn’t let you in or even lowered his walls by a tiny centimeter, but you like to think that even agreeing to go anywhere with you could be considered significant progress.
Jungkook doesn’t notice the pounding of his heart whenever his hands graze against your’s, walking side by side so close he can feel the heat emanating through your coat. He doesn’t notice the peace he feels, just the synchronicity of his feet as he places them on the pavement.
The fraught wind that blows straight at Jungkook’s face prompts him to look up from where his eyes were cast on the ground. He almost staggers at how strong it is, but finds himself weak in the knees for a completely different reason.
Of all the days, of all the times, of all the people in this entire city.
Of course she had to be the one that was currently staring at him from across the intersection.
The red light seems to go on forever. Either that or time has just spontaneously frozen, Jungkook can’t tell. But his eyes are fixed on hers and his feet bolster him to the concrete when all he wants to do is sprint the other way and forget he ever saw this ghost from the past.
Yoojung looks as beautiful as the day she left him.
She’s gained some weight and her cheeks have filled out, but it looks healthy on her now (Jungkook always chided her for forgetting to eat). She stares at him with a combination of shock and guilt and something he wants to overthink into affection but he won’t give himself that satisfaction anymore. She dyed her hair. Light brown looks good on her.
She looks...happy. As happy as anyone can look when they’re rushing through thick crowds of a city, traffic horns blaring like a dilapidated symphony.
In the heat of it all, it’s impossible for you not to notice Jungkook’s sudden change in demeanor or the way he has suddenly stopped breathing. When you follow his gaze, there is a girl on the other side of the street that shares the same starstruck expression and even from the outside looking in, you can feel the weight of something painful in his eyes. In her stature.
When the lights turn green, the throngs of city dwellers migrate across and you stay beside Jungkook when he doesn’t move a muscle. Not even a finger twitch. But she does. And he can only fight to keep the ache away when Yoojung gets closer with every millisecond. Until she is standing right in front of him and he can smell her familiar vanilla perfume.
“Jungkook”, she speaks, apprehension in her voice. “It’s been a while...how are you?”
Yoojung only spares you a side glance while keeping attention on Jungkook and you only grow more curious as to who this strange woman is.
He wants to speak so badly but his tongue remains frozen. He turns to you with flabbergast in his eyes and shakes his head to snap out of the daze of confusion. Of seeing the love of his life again. Or who he thought was the love of his life.
“Could you give us a minute, Y/N?”
You didn’t know why but the words that came from his lips made you feel disappointed. Perhaps you were just stupid for thinking he would introduce you. Tell her that you’re his soulmate and scream it at the top of his lungs with sheer pride. But your imagination has hurt you countless times and you had a feeling this one wouldn’t be the last. You manage a curt nod and push away the twinge in your heart. There was a boundary between you and Jungkook and today was not the day to cross it and introduce yourself as his soulmate to any random stranger.
Once you are out of vicinity and have found solace in a bookstore 10 feet away, Jungkook allows himself to breathe in Yoojung’s presence.
“I didn’t know if you were still in the city”, he falters, voice coming out quieter than he would have liked it to. But what was he supposed to sound like confronting the supposed love of his life.
“I never left, Jungkook...my entire life is here.” She sighs, smiling lightly with eyes seeping with guilt.
He scoffs. “I don’t know Yoojung, you seem to leave behind important things pretty easily.” Jungkook feels himself getting angrier and resentful by the second, and though he knows it is unfair of him, Yoojung’s mere presence brings back all the wounds he never truly healed from.
Granted, on a concrete sidewalk next to a traffic light pole was not the best place to have a heart to heart about failed relationships. But when has the universe ever given Jungkook the best things in life. He is devastatingly cynical for someone who dedicates his career to art.
Yoojung wears a frown on her face, but there is no vindictiveness there. Just an overwhelming sense of remorse that Jungkook communicates as pity.
“I don’t know how else to say that I’m sorry”, she sighs, eyes falling to the ground. Jungkook wishes it would just open up and swallow him whole.
“Then don’t say anything.” He turns to walk away.
“Wait! Jungkook can we...can’t we catch up or something? For a couple minutes?” Yoojung is visibly desperate, and her hands are outstretched as if wanting to touch him but keeping herself from overstepping the line.
Jungkook glances through the window of the bookstore, and you are situated on a chair, already nose deep in a hefty book. He wants to smile and tease you for being such a nerd, but the weight of Yoojung’s presence makes him reinforce those walls of indifference tenfold.
He exhales frustration and inhales temptation, looking back into Yoojung’s familiar eyes and nodding. Jungkook walks to a nearby bench and sits down with no words exchanged, looking forward coldly even when he feels her warmth next to him. A couple months ago, Jungkook would have set all his canvases on fire to feel her beside him again. Now, he’s not so sure.
“So…”, she starts, “who’s that cute girl you were with?”
“No one.” He shoots out a little too soon with no hesitation. Yoojung gulps.
“You know Jungkook, it’s okay to find someone. I-I know I hurt you, but I’m glad if you’ve found someone who doesn’t.” Jungkook doesn’t say anything so she continues.
“I’m really happy for-”
“I never really forgave you Yoojung.” He stares blankly at the passersby and tries to ignore the ache in his bones. The one that’s been there the day she left and took a piece of his heart with her.
“And I don’t want to blame you for my decisions but I want you to know that I push away a lot of people because of you. People that don’t deserve it.” From the corner of his eye, he can see her nod solemnly to his words and fidget with her hands in her lap. Part of him feels guilty for unloading on Yoojung. Part of him feels like maybe he deserves to.
“What you did was really shitty. Astronomically fucking shitty. And I’ve spent the past eternity hating you and maybe I still do, but…”, Jungkook takes a deep breath, “I want to forgive you now. If not fully, then partially. I hope you can understand that.” He finally tilts his head to look at her and though the smile on her face is as beautiful as he remembers it to be, Jungkook no longer feels the longing. No longer feels the sting that he usually does when his thoughts take him back to the years they spent together.
Jungkook doesn’t want to call it closure, not yet anyway. Sitting here on the bench, he still wants to scream and yell and tell Yoojung of all the nights he’s spent alone since she left. He still wants to drag her back and wonder if she could love him again like she used to.
But he doesn’t. He listens when she tells him about her new job and her new apartment right by the lakeside. They share snippets of their separate lives. Just deep enough to rekindle something warm but shallow enough to not invite anything else in.
When he walks away from the bench and into the bookstore, Jungkook stills feels the walls that he has built around himself. He is still scared of opening up and being vulnerable but the anger held for Yoojung for so long is no longer a raging fire. More so a wickering flame.
When he spots you, though, he remembers why he built those walls in the first place. He remembers how easy it used to be for him to climb a high peak and fall to his demise. Your eyes widen when you catch sight of him, lips curling into a wide smile and clear excitement in your expression. The book in your hands is tossed aside and tunnel vision reserved for him and him only. Something blooms in his chest and he can’t remember the last time someone’s been so elated to just simply see him...aside from his dog. Jungkook reminds himself to act uncaring. If he pretends long enough, he’ll start to believe it himself.
The train ride home feels longer than the one there. The minutes drag by and perhaps it is because of your drooping eyes or the way Jungkook is looking at you with a different tenderness than he has been before. His stare is not harsh. It’s soft and sweet, but subtle enough for you to wonder if you are just imagining it. The night has always been unforgiving and cold even in the spring, but perhaps all that’s needed to breathe some warmth, is a 15 minute train ride and a wrist with a crescent moon.
Yet every time you become more smitten with Jungkook, there is a harsh reminder that follows you everywhere like a designated storm cloud.
Jungkook does not love you. And you are trying and you will continue to try but his eyes tell you something he is too courteous to say. You see it now as he sits across from you and admires the skyline from the window. It makes you wonder if it is soulmates he doesn’t believe in, or if it is just you that he can’t bring himself to accept. With every cold glance and wall that he puts up, you start to convince yourself that it is the latter.
“We’re here, Y/N”, Jungkook speaks quietly, interrupting your drifting thoughts. He turns around and leaves the train car with hands tucked in his coat pocket. Did you expect him to escort you out and hold your hand? Of course not. But you were tired of Jungkook being so indifferent to your existence.
You follow him glumly out the doors that slide close after you step through. Then it zips off again and you wonder where it would have taken you if you just stayed in your seat. If Jungkook would have even noticed that you hadn’t followed him when he left.
You sigh into the night air and wish it was winter so that your breath could be visible as a white cloud. Maybe then Jungkook would notice that you were a living being beside him.
“Who was that girl that we met back there?”, you murmur hesitantly. Jungkook nearly chokes on air.
“No one”, he responds curtly, effectively cutting off the conversation then and there. It makes your heart sink. She must be important and all you want to do is know every single detail about their relationship, but the look in his eyes warn you to not pry.
You don’t think you can forget the way Jungkook looked at her from across the street. Like he had been lost this whole time and she was the North star. You saw the way his eyes twinkled in the midday sun and sparkled even more when she came closer. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to have that effect on him.
“Hey, next time you should pick a place you and I both do not live in”, you giggle, nudging his shoulder with your own. It makes him smile and even though your heart feels heavy in your chest, Jungkook looks so beautiful when he smiles.
The two pair of feet subconsciously carry you both to the front door of your apartment building and the scene is too familiar from the last time. You expect him to turn around and whisper a hushed goodnight under his breath, and you’ll have to watch the back of his head disappear down the street. But he doesn’t. Just stands across from you quietly and waits for you to say something. So you do.
“Jungkook, I’m sorry if I brought up something you didn’t want to remember. I don’t really know your story but it seems you two have a lot of history.” You want to tell him how hard it is for you to be his soulmate when he is so clearly vying for the warmth of someone else. Someone who didn’t have a crescent moon on her wrist.
“I know you’ll tell me whenever you’re ready, and if that’s never then I’ll keep waiting until forever. But I’m here if you want to talk or unload and I already know I can help because…” you fidget with your hands and look around nervously.
“Well, because I’m your soulmate.”
When you say it loud and explicitly, Jungkook thought the statement would have made him recoil. But it doesn’t. It just seeps through his consciousness and feels warm when he thinks about the weight of those words. You are his soulmate, regardless of if he believes in such a thing or not. You carry the same mark as he does on your wrist and somehow, by some intangible factor, the universe had decided that you were created for him and he for you.
And when he looks at you. Really looks at you. When Jungkook processes your sincere words and how you manage to deal with his insurmountable boundaries even when you barely know him…
Jungkook has never wanted to kiss you more.
So he does.
Your lips taste like mint chewing gum and the ghost of words you wish to tell him but can’t. He feels you stiffen until you completely melt in his hold, and Jungkook cradles your face with both his hands, pulling you closer to him until there is no barrier between you but the clothes on your back and the emotional distance. You feel so far away even when you’re this near. Was it a trick of your imagination when you felt the moon on your wrist tingling?
It doesn’t last as long as you would’ve liked it to. Jungkook yanks his hands from you like your skin scalded him and takes several steps back. His chest rises up and down violently when his breath comes out ragged, posture stiffening as the gravity of what just happened finally absorbs. You’re there, he knows you’re there and standing in front of him. So why is it he can only see Yoojung. Yoojung and the star on her wrist and apologies on her lips. Yoojung and the tears in her eyes when she walks away.
You can only stare confusedly when his body goes rigid, and a sudden coldness envelops you both.
And in the haze of post-embrace, like any two normal lovers, you catch something in his eyes that sets a heavy feeling in your stomach. Before you can confirm if it’s just a trick of the light, Jungkook is already running in the opposite direction and you can only see a shadow of sullen love that follows him. He is gone and you are standing alone, wondering how moonlight could feel so cold even on a spring night.
You don’t get any sleep that night. Every time you close your eyes, there is only the sight of Jungkook’s disgust and regret to lull you to dreams.
20 minutes away from your apartment, there is a boy who doesn’t sleep either. He won’t text or call to tell you that he can’t shake off the feeling of your skin on his and your breath fanning his cheek. He won’t admit to himself that tonight, when he looked at you, he felt the possibility of falling in love. He won’t tell you that the moon on his skin longs to be traced by your hands. No, he just shares those secrets with his pillow as its linen soaks up his tears.
In the midst of it all, there is one verdict that becomes clear to him.
Jungkook wishes he had never told Jimin he needed a muse.
The next three weeks is dedicated to trying to get in touch with your soulmate. Through the whirlwinds of utter confusion and desperation, you try texting, calling, emailing, even showing up at his art studio and apartment to no avail. It seemed he had a talent for avoiding soulmates.
It hurt, to say the least. That he left you high and dry after giving you the most intense
kiss of your life and doesn’t even have the decency to let you know he’s alive. The feeling of his lips still burns on your skin and you wonder if you are a complete fool for being so smitten with a person who, quite possibly, hasn’t spared you a single thought after that night. You just want - no you just need some clarity.
Jungkook makes you wait another week before replying.
It is an impossibly sunny day when you wake up. Your neck is stiff from sleeping like a contortionist and your heart aches even more than your muscles with every passing morning with radio silence from your soulmate. You want to call him and tell him you’re sorry. That you’ll forget anything ever happened. It hurts to even think about it, but for Jungkook, you would go through a little more pain so he would let you into his life.
Outside the hall, Jimin is singing along to a familiar melody of a song you don’t know the name of and judging by the aroma that wafts through the cracks of your door, he has successfully made a pot of coffee. He has been an anchor throughout this whole thing, and sometimes you make a secret wish to the stars that Jimin had been the one with a crescent moon on his wrist instead. Perhaps that way, you wouldn’t have to go through the agony of chasing love that is constantly sprinting away from you.
Your phone lays on the bedside table and buzzes innocently to start the morning. When you reach over and scroll through notifications routinely, there is a name there that makes your heart pang. Makes you want to throw up and celebrate at the same time. A text from Jungkook. Your fingers shake as you open it.
I no longer need a model for the portfolio. Thank you for your involvement. Compensation will be provided promptly.
The day you met him, you already knew that Jungkook was cold. He never dawdled around a painful truth or toed the line between bluntness and sparing feelings. Jungkook spoke his mind, collateral damage be damned. But this is a different type of cold. This one feels more like dry ice on warm skin. Like the numbing chill of a fading hope. Like winter’s first snowfall when autumn had promised you it would forever stay.
Phone in your hand and tears threatening to drip down your cheeks, you wish you would have waited a bit more before opening his text. Perhaps that way you could have spent the rest of your morning basking in the spring sun, drinking Jimin’s inevitably bad coffee, having hope that Jeon Jungkook would grow to care for you. Perhaps if you hadn’t opened it so soon, your soulmate would still seem in reach.
Jimin’s mug nearly drops out of his hand when the door of your bedroom is slammed open. He flings it to the side when he notices your red-rimmed eyes and the shaking hands that clutch onto a cellphone. You scream and sob at the universe, at anyone, asking why it was you that had to experience the chaos of longing. Jimin was there to hold you, as he always is, and helplessly listen to the sound of your heart breaking once again by the hands of Jungkook.
Room 62B of the art building is a place you hope to never have to visit again. Though it’s walls contain memories of you and Jungkook, and the evenings navigating his gallery portfolio along with your convoluted relationship, the wallpaper bleeds with a longing ache. A yearning pain. And if those walls could talk, you don’t think you would want them to say anything at all. They would only murmur what you are slowly accepting to be true.
Jungkook, your soulmate, wants nothing to do with you.
When you hesitantly rap on the door with a fisted hand, the sound of him rustling from inside makes you want to run the opposite direction. It opens before you get the chance to change your mind and the sight of him nearly takes your breath away. He is beautiful as he always is, hair ruffled and mussed from undoubtedly running his hands through it compulsively. His lips are pink from biting on them and the dark circles under his eyes tells you of the dreams he has deprived himself of.
Jungkook is painfully gorgeous and painfully not yours.
“Y/N...I sent you a text earlier.” His voice is saccharine but the words taste so bitter.
“I know. I read it”, you murmur, shrinking in on yourself.
“I....Can we talk, Jungkook?”
His eyes dart around nervously at your question, chewing on his bottom lip and tapping the toe of his shoe as if he was impatient and you were bothering him. And you have known that simply being around Jungkook hurts but the light at the end of the tunnel only continues dwindling.
You understand why he is acting so restless when your gaze drifts past him and into the room. There is a girl perched on a stool, across from a canvas and easel that you know awfully well. You don’t recognize her but it’s only in your nature to begin comparing every aspect of yourself to this stranger. She sits on her hands and swings her legs back and forth, head in the clouds and eyes trailing the ceiling. She isn’t aware of the weight of her presence in the studio, nor the turmoil she has brought to you, who is standing just outside the door.
The oxygen in the hallway thins and the breath you’ve been waiting to release since knocking catches in your throat. Coming here, you prepared yourself for a long and inevitably heart-wrenching talk with your soulmate. But you hadn’t prepared for the possibility that he had replaced you overnight.
The only thought that blares through your mind is that this is your fault. For letting yourself think you were worth more to Jeon Jungkook than any other stranger. You can no longer find it in yourself to be angry at him. Just yourself.
“You…”, you gulp down a whimper, “you replaced me.”
Jungkook follows your vacant stare past him and sighs, realizing you had most likely deducted what this scene looked like. You would be right. Between the weeks of trying to understand what you were to him and the impending due date of the portfolio, Jungkook was sure the best way to move past this confusion was to just speed full steam ahead. That meant finding another muse. You were no longer an option.
You only stare down at the floor, but Jungkook begins speaking anyway.
“Y/N, I…I’m sorry.” You scoff at his words, feigning anger when inside, you truly didn’t know if you could piece yourself back together this time.
“Look, Y/N. It’s not you. It’s just that…”, he breathes deep, not knowing why it was so hard to say. “I’ve stopped believing soulmates were truly a thing a long time ago. I’m sorry.”
It’s not the first time you’ve heard these words but it doesn’t mean they hurt any less.
“I didn’t want to initiate anything, Y/N, but you did and I let you and that was my fault to let anything start. I shouldn’t have when I knew nothing would come of it.”
It was a fault to him. It never should have happened.
“So you just thought you would kiss me and decide that I meant nothing to you afterwards?”
“It was a mistake.” It was painful to think it but when you hear Jungkook say it, you experience a new kind of ache. A humorless chuckle bubbles past your throat.
“I really thought you would grow to love me. Now I know it’s not your fault that I’m a complete fool. To fall head over heels for my soulmate who wishes he had never even met me. Much less share a mark.”
You can see Jungkook’s eyes widen at your confession, but you can’t find it in yourself to care. It was the truth. He deserved to hear it.
“You shouldn’t. You can’t.” He reaches up to pull at his hair frustratedly.
“Can’t what, Jungkook? Love you? You think I want to be in love with someone who wishes I didn’t exist?” You hate your voice for breaking, but its impossibly painful when he does nothing to deny your statement.
“What do you want me to say, Y/N? What can I say to make this better?”
Try: I love you too.
“I don’t need you to say anything you don’t mean, Jungkook.”
“Then shouldn’t you leave?”
Jeon Jungkook is cruel even when he doesn’t mean to be. There is oblivion in his gaze, and his question is one of genuine curiosity. But it still stabs you exactly where your heart is most tender. Yes, I should have left.
“I guess I thought you were worth the pain, Jungkook. When you pushed me away and wanted nothing to do with me, I thought you were worth hurting for just to try a little more. Worth the uncertainty of being around you but never getting to actually be with you”, you numbly mutter, uncaring about the rivulets of tears down your face. Not like it wasn’t something he’s never seen before. There is more to come on the tip of your tongue, and Jungkook stays quiet to let you speak. There is conflict in his vision, but you don’t want to give yourself the false hope that he cares for you.
Look where that has gotten you before.
“You still are, you know. Worth it.” You release a shaky breath. “But I was stupid to think that I am too.”
Saying the words are revelation for you as much as it is for him. All this time, you’ve been running away from the truth in the pursuit of your soulmate. You hadn’t realized that the chase led you astray.
“And I know that loving me is not easy. I’m…”, you force the words out so he can at least hear your turmoil by his hands. “I’m never really good enough for anyone. Why did I expect that I would be good enough for you?”
Jungkook’s expression crumples into a frown. “Y/N, no, that’s not what I mean-”
“You don’t have to tell me what you mean, Jungkook. I meet you and the first thing you say is that you don’t believe in such a thing. I try to get close to you and all you know to do is push me away. And I try so hard to be enough but how can I when Yoojung still has your heart? So you don’t have to say it. I know what you mean.” You’ve stopped crying but the ache relents, and you can only look desperately at the boy who’s slipping from your grasp with every passing second.
“I’m sorry.” The message is redundant.
“I can’t…” Rip off the bandaid.
“I just can’t love you.”
The words make their way past his lips before he can stop them, and they shoot through your core ruthlessly. A sharpened dagger to soft flesh. It manifests itself in a physical pain that reverberates across your chest, and when the last strength left in you is used to stare at Jungkook through a pained and teary gaze, you are deaf to everything but those four words.
I can’t love you.
I can’t love you.
I can’t love you.
You’re not sure what he is sorry for at this point. If Jungkook is apologizing for not loving you, you don’t blame him. If he is sorry for entertaining the possibility, you don’t blame him. If he is sorry that you are the one with a crescent moon on your wrist, well...you don’t blame him either. All your life you cherished it like some kind of gift from the universe. Now, nursing your crumbling soul in front of Jungkook, you wish it had never appeared in the first place.
You shake your head, tucking your lip in between your teeth to stop the sob in your chest from escaping. Through the crack of the door Jungkook hadn’t shut fully, the girl was still there, patiently sitting where you were supposed to and making herself scarce after inevitably hearing you bare your heart to a boy who had no interest in it.
Humiliation goes hand in hand with heartbreak, and the embarrassment that comes with confessing your love and insecurity urges your feet to run home. But even you cannot deprive yourself of looking at him one more time.
His wavy head of hair. The scar on his cheekbone that makes him look even more beautiful, if that were possible. The gloss in his dark brown eyes, and the way he looks at you through stone cold walls. You commit it to memory, however painful, before you walk out of his life.
“Be happy, Jungkook.”
You truly mean it.
The sound of your footsteps getting farther away from him is a sound Jungkook thinks he’ll remember for a long time. It almost prompts him to run after you, cradle you to his chest, and profess how sorry he is again and again until you can truly feel the sincerity. But he doesn’t. Only remains behind the self-procured walls and watches when your figure disappears down the hallway.
Cold. Unbothered. Indifferent. That’s what he had always told himself when it came to you. But the hallway feels so lonely and the ghost of your presence feels even lonelier, and Jungkook wonders if he had been wrong.
He walks back into the studio, permanent frown on his face and shoulders hunched over in stress. The paintbrush feels like a stranger rather than an extension of his arm, as it always does, but Jungkook begins painting anyway. Looking at the girl in front of him, he is reminded of the look on your face when you realized he had replaced you completely in the span of three weeks, without even giving you a notice. Her presence in his art studio suddenly feels entirely suffocating.
“Mina, Get out.”
“Get out of my studio. I don’t need you as a model, anymore. Thanks.” His voice cut through the tension of the room, like a hot knife to butter. He recognizes it as the voice he always forces himself to use around you, and grows even more aggravated.
The girl scoffs annoyedly, snatching her handbag from the floor and rushing out of the room. Obviously she had thought something more was to come from Jungkook’s art arrangement. He made sure to let her know that was not the case.
There is a gnawing in his chest. Deep and subtle, but it becomes more prominent as the window view from his studio turns from blue to black. He ponders about spending the night in here, instead of going home to his bedroom where he is forced to consult with the agony of solitude. On top of everything today, Jungkook doesn’t think he can handle that.
Every time he closes his eyes, he sees the pain in your face when he tells you that he can’t love you and he hears the shaking in your voice when you tell him the things that weighed on your soul. He thought the word “wither” was only reserved for flowers. Jungkook didn’t realize a person could wither until he saw it right in front of him.
In truth, he didn’t know. He didn’t know if he could love you or not. And to Jungkook, that was already a feat in itself. He’s spent so many months convincing himself that his emotional fortress was impregnable. So many nights over whiskey bottles telling himself that love was only for fools and pretenders. To be uncertain about love, now, well...that’s something he is not yet ready to admit to himself. Much less admit to you. But letting you any closer was a fatal game.
Being uncertain about love means being uncertain about getting hurt. Jungkook has a feeling he wouldn’t make it out in one piece if his heart fell into wrong hands.
He does end up returning to his apartment that night. But the walk feels far too long and the air feels far too frigid, or perhaps is it because he can’t hear the tread of your footsteps beside him?
Whatever the reason, tonight feels more lonely.
The stars tell him it’s because he does not like the person he’s alone with.
Back in room 62B, there is an abandoned painting on a rickety easel. He hadn’t even had the will to wash out his paintbrush, and he’s sure he’ll pay for it the next day. Looking at the piece now, his professor would tell him that there’s too many colors. Too much contrast and nearly not enough depth in his strokes. But what was he to do when he had kicked out his new model and couldn’t get the image of your visible heartbreak out of his brain?
A familiar wrist with a quaint crescent moon sits on the canvas, and he sure as hell didn’t use Mina as the inspiration. Jungkook reminds himself to throw out the painting tomorrow morning.
The grease on Jimin’s skillet pan is always so hard to clean. The dish soap never truly cuts through the oil, and no matter how much you rinse it over with scalding water, it still feels soiled. On a normal day, it wouldn’t frustrate you so much. Today, a month-and-a-half after your soulmate made it clear to you that you had no place in his life, you want to throw the pan out the window and cry on the kitchen floor until it collapses with the weight of your tears.
You settle for throwing down the sponge and making Jimin wash his own dishes.
The phone-that you usually now tend to ignore-buzzes on the counter, and you groan at your complete lack of desire to answer it. But the screen lights up with your roommate’s name and you hit the green button.
“Y/N! How are you feeling, lovebug?” Jimin’s cheerful tone on speakerphone makes you want to cry. You can only imagine how terrible it is for him to be your roommate when all you know how to do now is mope and cry about a boy who probably hasn’t thought about you since. But he’s been holding you through all your breakdowns, and even sets up the air mattress on the floor of your bedroom when some nights are a little bit harder than most.
“I’ve had better days”, you glare at the pan in the sink. “What’s up?’
“So I have a friend…”
He sighs over the phone understandingly, but still not satisfied. “I know it’s only been a month Y/N, but it doesn’t have to be anything. He’s not looking for anything serious either. But maybe it would be good for you to take your mind off things.”
It’s been a month. Four weeks. Roughly 31 days, and you still remember every word he said to you in the hallway of the art building. Every pause and quiver of his breath, and the way he looked so completely indifferent to your pain. Was one month enough for you to let go even after finding out Jungkook never planned to hold on in the first place?
“Look, you don’t have to decide now. I’m sorry for pushing you if you’re not ready.” His mumbling is apologetic and it makes you realize that Jimin genuinely means well. Maybe you weren’t ready to move on from Jungkook yet. Maybe you never will be. He was your damn soulmate, after all. But maybe a distraction couldn’t hurt.
“I’ll do it.”
You can practically feel him smiling like an idiot over the phone. “Really?!” You sigh into the speaker and Jimin knows better to continue talking before you change your mind.
“His name is Namjoon, he works with me at the office. Super cute. Super hot. Super smart. Checks all your boxes!”, he rambles on about the nitty gritty details and though a part you is proud that you’re making the decision to move on with life, you can’t help but to realize that no one will ever be able to “check all your boxes”.
Not if they’re not Jungkook.
“He sounds great, Jimin.” Anyone can tell your happiness is disingenuous, even through the phone. Jimin tells you that he had already planned a date (without your knowledge), and sends you on your way with a quick goodbye when his taxi arrives. The silence of the apartment after the conversation leaves you feeling even more weighted, but hopeful for the possibility of a distraction. You had a feeling you won’t be able to forget the likes of Jeon Jungkook if you tried. But, if only for a night, you were to forget the pain of loving him, you’ll take that chance.
“What do you mean they all ‘feel the same’?” Jungkook is exasperated. He had drafted a complete version of his portfolio, working through the nights by the sweat of his brow. Now his professor was telling him that all his pieces felt the same and Jungkook thinks he might commit arson to the art studio.
Professor Sejin sighs contemplatively, taking off his glasses and throwing them on the table, all too familiar with Jungkook’s periodic art tantrums.
“I mean that your pieces lack any variegation. The portfolio is well done and coherent, but the completed package is one-noted. It’s consistent. But too much so.”
Professor Sejin’s words make him fall back into the chair dejectedly, shoulders slumped and disappointment in his eyes at the critique of his art. Though it is hard to hear, Jungkook always welcomes productive criticism. The older man sympathizes with his downcast eyes and the visible stress on his back.
“Look, Jungkook”, he affirms sincerely, “you just need to find some dynamic. Something to make people know that you can do more than one tone of art.” It’s obvious that the professor has a soft spot for the boy in front of him, who looks like his entire world is collapsing. The portfolio folder is handed back to him and Jungkook has the urge to burn it and not hear the word “gallery” again in the next decade.
“I have faith in you. You’ll figure out what it is that you’re missing.” The smile on the man’s face is congenial. Genuine. And even though he has an ambitious amount of work to do, Jungkook finds the will to nod, haul himself off the office chair, and begin the trek back to his studio.
The pinnacle of spring is approaching and the sun shines brighter with each morning. Not that he would know or care. He’s spent the last month locking himself inside, dedicating every fluid ounce of energy towards completing his project. It’s been surprisingly easier, and Jungkook finds himself finishing paintings, sketches, and sculptures with ease. Like untapped inspiration had revealed itself to him suddenly. Yet it still wasn’t enough...at least not according to Professor Sejin.
Headphones drown out the cacophony of hustlers and bustlers with the laughter of children as accompaniment. He doesn’t allow himself to enjoy the music of the city. Not anymore. It gives him too much space to think, and Jungkook has a feeling that’s not good for anyone and definitely not good for him.
The sight of a familiar bakery with particularly delicious apple strudels is enough to stop him in his rush, feet winding down until he is standing outside, staring at the door and wondering if he could go in without being reminded of you. Well, it might be too late for that anyhow, but further signs of protest are halted when he hears his growling stomach.
Jungkook had morbidly underestimated your presence in the memory of his favorite cafe. You are everywhere. He sees your smiling face when he looks up at the chalkboard menu, soul vying for you to be next to him and excitedly choosing a new fru-fru drink that would undoubtedly have excessive sugar. He hears your giggles ruminating through the cafe while the other patrons only hear the music over loudspeaker. He practically feels you near, but that doesn’t matter now. It’s better this way. No one gets hurt this way.
Jungkook plops himself at a corner table and buries his face in his hands, fingertips soothing over his pulsing eyebags and wrinkles he’s gotten from sleep deprivation. He desperately needs an espresso shot. Or five.
“Hey…”, a voice makes him snap his head up. Jungkook recognizes the stranger as the owner’s son, who always stands guard at the cash register. The tag on his lapel reads Kim Seokjin, and Jungkook has a distant memory of you gushing over how nice Seokjin’s hair was. He had acted unbothered back then, but Jungkook would die before telling a soul that he was annoyed and jealous when you thought the cashier was cute.
“Jungkook, right?”. He has a kind smile and a natural air of invitation. Jungkook nods.
“I’ve seen you around a lot. Where’s that girl you always come here with?”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business”, he nearly hisses, antsy at the mere mention of you. He instantly regrets it though. Seokjin looks like he’s been cornered with a blunt weapon, and it makes Jungkook sigh at his own asshole-ishness.
“I’m sorry”, he mumbles, “just not a good day. At all.”
There is a pause and hesitation before the boy speaks. “Do you...wanna talk about it?” Seokjin’s question is met with silence.
There is a predictability about Jeon Jungkook. He doesn’t open himself up to anyone. He pretends that he doesn’t have problems so well, people start to become convinced. He avoids new connections like it’s the plague. But there is something so idiosyncratic about Kim Seokjin that makes him want to talk. Makes him want to trust a complete stranger.
So Jungkook nods, depositing his black backpack besides him and lets himself breathe deep.
“Her name is Y/N….”
In the lukewarm air of the café, Jungkook tells Seokjin about you. About the tiny crescent moon on your wrist that identically matches his - even unwraps his cloth to show it - and how he pushed you away hard enough to put an ocean’s worth of distance between the two of you. He tells Seokjin about Yoojung and the stars on her skin that have been plaguing him since the day she left. He tells him about that damn portfolio that refuses to be finished; one that he apparently has to start over because Professor goddamn Sejin says it's too boring. He allows himself to unload, and wow is it easier to breathe when you talk about your feelings. Jungkook reminds himself to do that more often.
The “conversation” seems to stretch for hours (if a conversation can be considered one person unleashing all their hidden baggage on the other while they sit in silence). Jin listens intently through the entire ordeal, offering occasional nods and encouragement for him to continue. When Jungkook finally finishes with a deep breath, falling back on the chair looking completely worn out, Jin fixes him with a hot tea before speaking.
“The portfolio is important to you, Jungkook. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. Something tells me that you’re not one to give up so easily”, he quips with a playful lilt in his voice. Jin’s genuine faith in him makes Jungkook believe in himself.
“And as for Yoojung, well, I can’t speak on your pain. You are the only one that narrates your experiences but as much as she seems like a villain in your story, perhaps she has opened a door.” Jungkook thinks his voice sounds far too wise to be coming from a guy in his 20’s.
“Would you have known how to nurse a broken heart had it not been for her? I’m sorry she did that to you, Jungkook, but..Yoojung is your past. And I see so much in your future.”
Jungkook only stares into the abyss of his tea cup. The reflection that stares back is someone he desperately wants to learn to love. When he looks up again, there is a sad glimmer in Seokjin’s gaze. Something so despondent that he feels second-hand pain.
Jin pulls up the sleeve of his knit sweater. On his wrist sits a faded marigold, so blanched it almost blends in with his skin and makes him wonder if it will just disappear one day. Jungkook feels his blood run cold.
“It’s been two years since she died”, he stares solemnly at his skin, “I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about her.”
Jungkook’s thought about his soulmate mark disappearing before. Even hoped and prayed for it the days after Yoojung left. But now, when he sees it up close on Seokjin’s wrist, Jungkook doesn’t want to wish that loneliness upon anyone.
“She was so damn...persistent”, Jin laughs, fondness dripping in every word. “Like your Y/N in that way, I suppose. She had a goal and was hell-bent on achieving it. She was so kind and strong and much more of a badass than I could ever be. I loved that about her.” There is sorrow in his voice when he uses the past tense, and Jungkook feels even worse for pouring his heart out about his very alive soulmate.
“She was studying to be a doctor, you know? Ironic that even the best doctors couldn’t have saved her in the end.” His sentence trails off and he loses focus gazing out the window, fidgeting with the ring on his left hand with a faraway look in his eyes.
“I don’t mean to ramble about my dead soulmate for no reason, Jungkook. And I’m in no position to tell you what you should or should not do regarding Y/N. But if I could restart this life with my soulmate, there wouldn’t be one second I would waste not at her side.” Jin’s tone is not accusatory or convicting. Just honest.
“It’s normal to be scared and apprehensive. Hell, I would be more concerned if you weren’t going into it with a shit ton of skepticism. I was terrified. Yet out of the billions of people that could’ve had my mark on their wrist, just knowing that she was that one was enough for me to love her.”
The cup of tea has long gone cold. Jungkook only manages to stare at the mahogany table, thoughts too heavy to voice aloud, so Jin continues.
“I think I would give anything to know that such a person still exists for me. Someone out there that was chosen by an unknown, cosmic force for an unexplainable reason just for me. To see a mark that matches my own. Well…”, Jin breathes deeply, tears welling in his eyes but not falling, “I think that must be the most wonderful thing in the entire world.”
Seokjin’s words stick with him long after he has departed from the café. Long after the tea has settled in his stomach along with the weight of what a soulmate means to this stranger whose life story he has learned in the course of an evening.
Even so, Jungkook’s not sure what he should feel. The fear of vulnerability still feels like a designated thundercloud above his head, and the thought of letting you past his walls makes Jungkook want to run the other way.
At the same time, the trepidation doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. It’s still there, and he can’t pinpoint exactly what happened but when he sees your smiling face behind his eyelids, Jungkook doesn’t feel scared. When he focuses on what you look like under sunlight, or your eyes staring at him through a camera lens, there is no fear of the broken heart you could leave him with. Just something warm. Something that feels an awful lot like...love?
But what does Jungkook know about such things?
He shrugs it off his shoulders, and readies himself for a night of inevitably restless sleep. He blames it on the impending due date of his beloved portfolio, but really, it is you. You and your insistence on trying every single coffee shop in the city. You and your convoluted idea of a date; letting your partner choose the location with their eyes closed. You and…
Just everything about you.
He falls asleep well into 4am. The thin strap of cloth sits on his bedside table. Even if it is only for the night sky to see, Jungkook lets his soulmate mark breathe.
It’s been so long since you’ve dressed up or cleaned up to go out anywhere, the reflection that stares back feels like a stranger. You’ve opted for a bold red lip, meticulously applying your makeup so that even the wing of your eyeliner was sharp enough to kill. Jimin forced you to curl your hair too, of course. The girl in the mirror looks beautiful. You know that she is beautiful.
So why is it that you can only see the face that is not enough for Jeon Jungkook? A person that he is unable to love. No, not even foundation can cover the face of longing.
“Y/N”, Jimin sing-songs, “hurry! You don’t wanna be late do you?” No, you don’t want to be late. You want to not go. Maybe retreat to your bedroom and cry the night away again. But you won’t tell him that when he is so clearly ecstatic that you’re spending a night out for the first time in months.
The restaurant looks like it is entirely out of your budget. Well, you reckon any restaurant is out of your budget with all the debt that looms overhead and your painfully apparent unemployment. Waiting for Namjoon is less than exhilarating, and you spend the time fiddling with your bracelet that conveniently covers the crescent moon. These days, you can’t bear to look at it anymore. Your eyes are glued to the little mark, before a voice sounds from across the table.
“Sorry I’m late, traffic was insane. You must be Y/N, nice to meet you.” You weren’t sure what you expected Kim Namjoon to look like but were pleasantly surprised. Namjoon looks like he takes care of himself, neat and clean and sporting a very shiny watch that looks like 4 months’ worth of rent.
“And you must be Namjoon. Likewise.”
When he pulls out the chair to sit down, you can’t help but to notice the cloud on his wrist. It was smaller than yours but you had no doubt it felt just as heavy. If Namjoon felt your gaze on his skin, he did nothing to show it.
“Hey, I know I just got here but…”, he sighs and takes a look around the room, “do you wanna get out of here? Find the cheapest and greasiest food we can?” His request makes you smile, and you grab the purse that rested on the table.
“Namjoon, I think that’s the best idea you’ve had yet.”
You and Namjoon manage to find a diner that wasn’t far from the fancy restaurant, and you thank the skies that you didn’t have to pay $50 for a salad tonight. Just some pocket change for quite possibly the best and oiliest hamburger you’ve ever had.
By conversation that happens through mouthfuls of food and faces smeared with milkshake residue, you come to learn that Namjoon is an unsurprisingly nice guy. He studies poetry, but is working as a secretary at an office, hence his connection to Jimin. He loves to garden and talks about his bonsai plants to you like they’re his kids, even pulling up pictures on his phone and gazing down at them fondly. It makes you smile. He plays the piano, and likes to take long bike rides when the weather permits.
It’s nice to have someone reciprocate your effort. It’s something you haven’t experienced in a long time, all credit to one Jeon Jungkook. Namjoon is warm in all the corners where Jungkook is cold.
In a word, he is pretty damn perfect. And if he had a crescent moon on his wrist, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye or have a lick of doubt in the universe. He encompasses everything you want, so alike you in so many aspects it makes you wary. If Namjoon had your matching soulmate mark, you would already be in love with him.
But he doesn’t. And that thought alone keeps you from feeling anything but platonicity. He is not Jungkook. You don’t think anyone can make you feel the way Jungkook does. You want to curse the stars for making this so.
It’s well into the night, and you both remain planted in the diner booth, chatting and chuckling over a plate of french fries. It’s when you drift off while he’s talking about his latest attempt at focaccia that Namjoon sighs and sits back in the seat.
“What?”, you confusedly ask after he suddenly stops speaking.
He smiles. Stays silent for a couple seconds. Then speaks.
“So what did your soulmate do to you?”
His question catches you off guard and you can only stare at him, frown on your face and words lost on your tongue.
“You’ve been staring into space every 5 minutes this whole night, and fidgeting with your bracelet so much I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen off”, he explains, tenderness and sympathy in his tone.
“Every time I speak, you have this sad look in your eyes and I have a feeling you’re imagining someone else’s face, Y/N. I’ve enjoyed talking to you...a lot. But I can tell you want to be somewhere else so”, Namjoon places his elbows on the table and gazes at you endearingly, “tell me about your soulmate.”
You stare at Namjoon through shocked eyes, glistening with the onset of tears that you manage to keep from escaping. Gosh, you were pathetic. Already wanting to cry at the mere mention of him. Or maybe the fact that someone could see through your facade. You take a deep breath.
“His name is Jeon Jungkook.” Your voice quivers, and Namjoon continues listening intently. You are reluctant to continue because you know that once this conversation begins, there is a chance you might have to confront yourself again with the pain of loving someone who doesn’t want love. You internally apologize to Namjoon in advance, for you might cry on this first date.
“I…I’m completely head over heels in love with him but after everything, I’m not sure I have the slightest clue what love is. Because what sane person can fall in love with a person who has made it clear that that love wouldn’t be reciprocated from the get go?”
You fiddle with the plastic straw in your milkshake, searching for the courage to go on and tell him about every thought that you have denied yourself the satisfaction of verbalizing.
“He loves apple strudels, you know. Eats them every time like they’re the last apple strudels he’ll ever have and he doesn’t give a damn who’s watching”, you chuckle, gaze drifting off to space. There is a fondness in your eyes as you speak, and Namjoon does not miss it.
“He’s as punctual as the day is long. One time I was late to a photoshoot and he almost made me cry lecturing me about the importance of being on time. But now I’m never late.”
The memory makes you, as well as Namjoon, smile.
“He paints like his life depends on it, and he’ll get oil paint on his face without noticing and sometimes I just want to reach out and wipe it off. But I think he’d murder me on the spot.”
“How come?”, Namjoon offers his first words in the midst of your monologue. You’re not sure what to say next.
“Well...I think Jeon Jungkook might be the coldest person I’ve ever met”, you dejectedly sigh. Reality tastes bitter even with remnants of whipped cream on your lips.
“Every time I was around him, it felt like I was willingly breaking my own heart just for the chance to know that he was next to me. That in this entire world of billions of people, the one with the same moon on their wrist was next to me. And...I guess I didn’t really need him to love me yet”, your gaze locks onto Namjoon and you find he is already staring at you with utmost curiosity and subtle pity.
“Jungkook alone was enough. I just wish he could have felt the same about me.”
Perhaps the reason why the truth is so painful to speak is because people have a tendency to run from it. Then when it catches up to you, it’s a harsh trip and fall to the rocky ground. There is no cushion when you land.
Namjoon doesn’t offer advice. Doesn’t dish his own experiences to relate to your own or even make any comments from his perspective. He just sits and listens in silence, but it doesn’t feel like he is disregarding you. No, his eyes tell you that he soaks in every word. You hope you’ll get the chance to do the same for him...if he ever decides to share his story with you.
The two of you leave the diner with a prospective to be friends, and no plans of a future second date. You had a strong feeling that spending the entire evening talking about your unrequited soulmate love had something to do with that. Nevertheless, though Namjoon didn’t work out as a distraction, you were glad to have met him. It made you realize something.
Even if Jimin thought you were ready to move on. Even if you thought you were ready to forget. It might be a lifetime before you finally let go of that boy.
The morning reeks of rain and dew, humidity nearly clawing its way through his window and turning his apartment into a swamp. When he wakes up, it is not to his blaring alarm clock, but the uncomfortable sensation of a sweaty shirt sticking to his back. Jungkook groans, already tired of this day. It seems hopeless from the beginning.
As much as he wanted to stay home and crank up the air conditioner so much that his landlord would come running, Professor Sejin’s voice reverberates through his eardrums.
You art is too one-noted, Jungkook.
Be better, Jungkook.
You’re talentless and will never succeed, Jungkook.
Of course, these are not Professor Sejin’s verbatim, more so Jungkook’s own mind that twists his teacher’s constructive criticism into something else. He is a master at feeding his insecurity.
Jungkook chugs down a lukewarm cup of black coffee, and his stomach growls for something with a little more sugar and maybe a dash of rainbow colored sprinkles. He guesses he has you to thank for that. The art studio is always a daily destination, and this day is no different. Jungkook has a plan to dedicate himself to fixing his portfolio and maybe finish that clay piece he never got around to.
The studio is too cold for his liking; Jungkook can’t remember how many times he has begged the superintendent to lower the AC. The cold he can deal with. The loneliness, however, is a different story. Jungkook is always alone. Alone when he’s in his apartment. Alone when he’s in class. Alone when he’s in the art room. These days, aloneness feels more haunting when he knows he had the option to escape it, but chose to stay. A part of him is ready to admit that it’s because of you.
Jungkook hums a random melody that had been stuck in his head since the morning, fingers gliding over the slick sculpting clay. The days are easier now. He doesn’t think about you so much when the sun is out and there is the bustling of the busy city to distract him. The nights, however, are just as difficult as they have been. Jungkook’s last drifting thought is of you, and your face torturously carries over to each dream. Like his entire being misses you but he refuses to accept it.
He takes a deep sigh in relief once the sculpture feels finished. Professor Sejin wanted something more dynamic, so there: his very own realist clay piece drawing inspiration from Praxiteles’ sculpture of Aphrodite. He sits back in pride, admiring his own handiwork and giving himself a mental pat on the back. It looks great. Perfect even. It looks….
It looks like you.
Jungkook pales at the realization as the clay face stares back at him. No, this was supposed to be Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, inspired by the ancient Greek artist that sculpted her. Then why does she have your nose? Those eyes are definitely your’s and even those cheeks are identical. Jungkook hadn’t even realized that in the rhythm of his art, he got lost and accidentally sculpted your face instead.
He walks away from the clay table and hurriedly yanks off the soiled apron around his waist, confusion swimming in every cell of his body. How had he just...made a sculpture of you? With no knowledge that he was doing it?
Jungkook leans with his back against the sink, staring down at the floor with furrowed brows and a thundering heart. With a sudden epiphany, Jungkook leaps from his position and pulls out all the canvases, printed photographs, graphite drawings, and clay pieces he’s made for the past few months. Everything he can grab in the small studio space.
It is then that he comes to the daunting realization:
Professor Sejin was right.
Everything feels the same. His whole portfolio has one note and no dynamic or diversity because...well, because all of his pieces are of you. Not you, necessarily, but your breath has come alive on his art in some way, shape, or form.
The multimedia painting he made two weeks ago using polystyrene sheets was supposed to mimic sunlight through a stained glass window, but Jungkook hadn’t even noticed he'd drawn the window of the café you dragged him to on its opening day. And the colors of the glass is just the twinkle of your eyes when they stare back into his.
The photoset he spent hours taking around the city, after taking a 15 minute train ride, were just repeats of all the places you two went to that one day. The book store. The park. The streetlight where Yoojung stopped him. He hadn’t even realized he only saved the photos associated with a subconscious memory of you.
Jungkook can’t explain it, but he feels you in every single picture. Every piece of art that his hands have manifested since you walked into his life, stupid smile on your face and that little moon on your wrist. He feels it...and call it artist’s intuition or something but perhaps that’s why Professor Sejin could feel it too.
Even though he stopped making you his muse months ago, you are still the root of inspiration for whatever he’s produced since. And if that’s not enough to finally tell him what he needs to hear. Finally make him realize that he’s fallen in love with you without even knowing it, the universe doesn’t know what will.
The minutes it has been since he realized your place in his life melts like slow dripping honey, feeling like an eternity when it is mere moments. Jungkook regains his focus in the haze. He knows what you mean to him now, but there was something he had to fo first.
He swipes all his paintbrushes and palette knives to the side, sweat on his brow as he furiously rearranges his portfolio. He takes out the pictures of Mina - no one would miss them anyway - and trashes all the photos he took before he met you. He only uses the art he’s created post-Y/N and tucks them in the manila folder so rapidly, there’s paper cuts on his fingers. But he doesn’t feel them. Jungkook has only one objective.
He snaps a picture of the new clay sculpture he’s just finished. The photo goes into the portfolio with the name ‘Aphrodite’, but Jungkook knows better about whose face that truly belongs to. Not that anyone would bat an eye. He thinks you are as beautiful as the goddess herself.
The trip to Professor Sejin’s office is short, unsurprising though, since Jungkook sprints the whole way there. When he arrives, and the professor can only stare as he’s bent over and huffing violently trying to catch his breath, Jungkook reminds himself to spend less time at the studio and more time on the cardio.
He throws the portfolio onto the man’s desk unceremoniously, nearly collapsing on the chair across from him and not ready to speak yet. Professor Sejin confusedly rifles through the folder quickly, too quickly, and sighs, ready to offer Jungkook yet the same critique again.
He opens his mouth, but Jungkook cuts him off.
“Before you say anything…”, he gulps, finally ready to admit the truth to himself.
“I want you to know that I’ve met my soulmate, a-and there’s a reason why you feel that my portfolio is all the same. There’s a reason why you feel it’s all one-noted or that there’s no progression.” Jungkook takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, and you are there behind his lids.
“It’s because she sowed the seeds for all of them. Everything. Those paintings and photos and sculptures are just symptoms of what I’ve been feeling this whole time after meeting her. She’s practically the artist, not me.” Professor Sejin stays silent at his monologue, gaze unreadable but eyes sharp and trained solely on Jungkook.
“Maybe...Maybe art doesn’t need to be super variegated all the time. Maybe it’s supposed to be a cohesive unit and the pieces should string to each other. Maybe paintings should have a relationship to photos and them, to sculptures. Maybe you’re just...wrong.”
He is exasperated and passion flows out of him through every pore. Jungkook looks expectantly at his professor, who has the open folder in his hand and still in the process of taking in his words. When the adrenaline starts to fade, he realizes that he just dissed his venerable teacher.
“With all due respect…”, he coughs, “sir.”
Professor Sejin lets Jungkook spend the next couple minutes in complete torturous silence so that he can finish reviewing his portfolio. The tension is cut with the sound of the man’s hands slapping together as he closes the folder. Jungkook prepares himself for a stern lecture.
However, when he looks up, there is a smile on the man’s face. There’s no malice there, or even disdain. He pulls off his glasses, sets them on the table, and sits back in the office chair, arms folded over his chest. Jungkook can feel his heart threatening to pound past his rib cage.
“Jungkook…”, Professor Sejin declares, “I think you’ve got a contender for the gallery spot.”
If someone had asked you what Jeon Jungkook meant to you, you would look them in the eye and tell them that he meant nothing. Because it’s easier to pretend that someone does not mean anything to you after they pretend that you do not exist. That the universe had not given you both matching marks and deemed that your souls were meant for each other. Jeon Jungkook is a stranger to you. One that you wanted so badly to love. But you’ve come to learn that no matter how hard you try; you can’t love someone who doesn’t want to love at all.
So the days trickle by as they usually do. Painstakingly slow and viscous with memories of a boy named Jeon Jungkook and the way he has hurt you enough to last a little bit over forever.
“I understand why you don’t want to go, Y/N. But aren’t you the least bit curious? Especially after that fancy invitation in the mail?” Jimin’s query is innocent. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make your blood boil.
“I don’t know...the thought of going to my soulmate’s grand art gallery when the last time we spoke, he told me he can’t love me, just doesn’t seem appealing Jimin”, you snark, burying your face into the bowl of cereal you are now spooning far too aggressively.
“But...it’s been months. And he wouldn’t have sent you an invitation if he didn’t want you to come.”
This conversation has happened too frequently since that red envelope arrived at your apartment. You cried your eyes out when you opened it, both out of pride for Jungkook and the fact that no matter what you did, the universe found a way to keep you from moving on.
A sigh heaves through your chest, and the cereal is abandoned by your loss of appetite. “I’m not going to show up there and have him tell me again all of the reasons he can’t be with me. I barely survived it last time.”
“But what if, Y/N?”
There is a glimmer in Jimin’s eye and he radiates so much hopefulness for you, you can’t help but to feel it too.
“Isn’t the what if already enough? You used to tell me that Jungkook was worth anything. Isn’t he worth the risk this time too?”
You don’t have anything else to say after that because as much as you hate to admit, perhaps Jimin is right. Jungkook is worth going through anything for, even if he wants to stay as far away as possible. Call it a fluke in the postal system that the invitation to his gallery landed on your doorstep, but can you allow yourself to read between the lines and dare say that he sent it himself? Can you put yourself through such a perilous thing like optimism?
Jungkook has left you battered and broken for the past months. But you would give your heart to him to break all over again if he asked.
To say that you did not fit in with those dawdling around the art gallery was a gross understatement. You didn’t just not fit in. Your entire presence and aura defied every expectation, and suddenly, watching the upper echelon of the city mingle with champagne and gaze critically at Jungkook’s art, makes every breath feel like an insecurity.
The boy in question was nowhere in sight, and you now regret not dragging Jimin with you. The invitation had specifically prohibited plus one’s, and though Jimin whined to no end about his hurt feelings and emptily promised never to talk to Jungkook again, you managed to keep him home. Now, you wish you were back at the apartment with him.
The pieces were, in short, completely breathtaking (to no surprise, of course, this was Jungkook you were talking about). Though you knew he always held doubt in himself, in the short time he allowed you to be in his life, you had never once thought he was anything less than spectacular. Yet you could not allow yourself to completely enjoy them. Each brushstroke and paint color you remember from his palettes, or the filters on the photos that you helped him with, was agonizing to look at.
You are standing in front of a canvas titled “Windowlight” when a man comes up beside you. He nurses a flute of bubbly champagne and makes no move to gain eye contact. Unknown to you, Professor Sejin knows exactly who you are. He’s seen your face in his student’s portfolio one too many times.
“Artful use of mixed media, isn’t it?”, he mutters.
“I suppose so.”
“He’s quite the prodigy. Have you met him yet? I’m sure he’s lurking around somewhere.” The man takes a sip from his glass, smirk on his lips hidden from your eyes that still blankly stare ahead.
“Yes. He’s a...friend.” We share a soulmate mark. He hates my guts.
He hums a sound of affirmation and you ignore the weird feeling it leaves in your stomach; one that tells you this stranger sees right through you.
“Ah, how rude of me. Professor Sejin. Arts director and senior advisor.” He spares you a brief glance, but you make no move to shake his hand or pretend to be courteous. You don’t have the energy for it tonight. Just being in this building, surrounded by everything Jungkook has touched, makes you want to collapse into yourself.
“It was nice to meet you, Y/N.” He speaks nonchalantly, and you almost miss the fact that you never told him your name. Your brows crease in confusion and you are ready to turn and interrogate the stranger, but he is already walking away, gliding smoothly across the gallery. Before he gets too far, though, Sejin cranes his neck and makes eye contact.
“Oh, and be sure to visit the one called ‘Moon’. It’s upstairs, next to the Aphrodite sculpture on the second level exhibit”, he entreats, a suspicious lilt in his voice.
“Something tells me you’ll appreciate its…sincerity.”
Honestly, you’re not sure what you expected when you came to Jungkook’s art gallery tonight. But to be approached by a stranger who already knows your name, who dubiously instructs you to seek out a mystery art piece, was not on the list of expectations. Still...Professor Sejin’s words made you curious.
Through the night, your eyes subconsciously seek out that familiar head of fluffy brown hair and a tall gait that always seems to stick out, even in a large crowd. It was as if Jungkook versed himself in complete camouflage, so much so that you began to doubt that he was even in the building.
The traipse through the gallery is done in silence and solitude, and you tune out the sounds of popping champagne and raucous laughter coming from the second floor, as the patrons undoubtedly banter over which piece to auction off. You hope he keeps them. You’ve never seen someone appreciate art the way that Jungkook does.
You catch sight of a few pieces that you recognize, ones that you remember him showing you when he had finished. You always excitedly told him every single one was a masterpiece, and Jungkook only rolled his eyes and made minimal effort at hiding the blush on his cheeks. Your steps falter when you come across a set of photographs in black and white, set in consecutive frames next to each other and it feels so warm despite the lack of color. Jungkook just had that special talent when it came to photography.
It’s the bookstore. In the city during the impromptu train ride you had coerced him to take. Your heart catches in your throat as you recognize all the other ones immediately because well...you’ve been to all those spots. A familiar pressure builds in the back of your eyes, and you swallow down a whimper of pain.
The urge to leave becomes too strong. But not strong enough to quell the slow burn of curiosity from Professor Sejin. There is a chance that you might not run into Jungkook at all tonight with the vast space and people bumbling through the corridors. It hurts to think that you might never see him again at all, but you’ll allow yourself another indulgence. Something is calling you.
Moon. He titled it Moon? You grip onto your wrist reflexively and run your thumb over the mark, like you did when you were younger and still had hope for soulmates. The pulsepoint there beats under your finger and lets you know how alive you are. Compels you to give into your curiosity, even if it might decimate your already crumbling heart. The stairs that lead up to the second floor are short, but the trek feels like it knocks the wind out of you, or perhaps that was just the anticipation of what was waiting for you on the other side.
You were right to be scared. Because right in the smack dab center of the circular room is where you see it, and your gasp is one that can be heard from each wall and corner.
A painting of you. A portrait from the waist up, with oil paint and so much detail, Jungkook has even managed to line the shallow wrinkles by your eyes when you smile. You have never considered yourself beautiful in any sense but the way he has captured you on canvas starts to make you believe that you truly are. You feel Jungkook in each streak of the brushstroke where he hadn’t spread the color evenly. It is as if the painting is alive, and though you are staring at yourself, it doesn’t feel like the way it does in the mirror. Doesn’t feel like a reflection.
No, this feels like looking through Jungkook’s eyes. It is what he sees in you, rather than what you see in yourself. And what he sees is beautiful. Through the haze of shock and confusion as to why he chose this as the centerpiece, you don’t notice the warm presence that lurks behind you. The one that has watched your every move since you walked into this building.
“Yeah, that’s my favorite one too.”
You whip your head around so quick it nearly gives you whiplash, but the sight of him is the nail in the coffin. Jungkook is cleaned up in a black suit, and an unfamiliar smile on his lips he rarely lets you see. A genuine one that he’s tried to hide so many times but now that it’s clear and up close, you resent him for keeping it from you.
Jungkook is just as gorgeous as the day you lost him.
But looking at him hurts. You don’t know why you’re even here, and why he sent the invitation, or why he was standing in front of you now and there is not a sliver of antipathy in his eyes. You don’t know why your face is plastered in the center of the gallery. Most of all, you don’t know why you are still weak in the knees for Jeon Jungkook.
“Although, I have to say, it was a close race between this one and the pictures I made you take at the lake, when you nearly dunked me in the river because it was so cold”, he breathily laughs but you aren’t able to get through the shock just yet. If Jungkook notices your starstruck state, he doesn’t let it affect him.
“And I definitely have to give some credit to the one I painted after you told me about your dream”, Jungkook prattles on, “where you were a mermaid who planted peaches under the sea, remember? That’s an honorable mention.”
These memories make you want to smile but in this moment, the best you can do is try to hold yourself together when your eyes begin to warm with tears. Jungkook stays silent when you do. He notices you haven’t said a word and your gaze refuses to meet his.
“Why are you doing this, Jungkook?”, you curse yourself when your voice cracks. “Why are you telling me these things? Haven’t you hurt me enough?” Jungkook’s smile drops off his face, and for once, you can see your own pain reflected in his eyes.
He takes a deep breath, hands hanging limply at his side that itch to wrap themselves around yours. To feel your skin. Feel your mark.
“I…”, he hesitates in his words, “I remember that day every night when I go to sleep, Y/N. Every time I shut my eyes, I just see your face when I told you I can’t love you, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt such aching before. Not even when she left me.” Jungkook’s voice is tinted with desperation but it just makes your walls rise higher.
He’s lying to you. Your tongue wants to protest, but he continues.
“I see you in everything”, Jungkook breathes out, like he is also admitting it to himself.
“The paintbrushes I can never put down to the black coffee I force myself to drink nowadays because the ones I actually like, the ones with too much whipped cream and vanilla syrup, just reminds me of you.” His brows are knitted, and his feet vie to step closer to your quivering form. But you look like a caged animal about to bolt at any moment.
“And when I’m reminded of you, I am reminded of…”, he gulps down the fear, “I’m reminded of how I am utterly in love with someone who deserves so much more than what I have put them through.”
The blood that runs through your veins drops to subzero temperatures, and you swear in the split millisecond that you have absorbed what he’s just said, your heart ceases its beating. The world stops turning, and the waves still for a brief moment. You can’t find any words just yet, but Jungkook can see straight through you and your stupefied expression.
“Y-you’re lying to me, Jungkook. Stop lying.”
“I’m not lying, please…” Jungkook knows he’s losing you by the second, but he’s promised you he would persist. He just wants you to listen. Wants you to feel how sorry he is, and how his soul screams to be next to your’s.
“I can’t explain how it happened. Like it was an epiphany. Like someone has been screaming at me and I had been ignoring them, and that someone was my own heart.” Jungkook doesn’t stumble over his words once. He does not stutter because it is the plain white truth.
“It’s been knocking on the door of my chest and when I finally let it in, it just yells and shouts ‘oh my god, you’re in love’ and then I realized oh my god, i’m in love. In between painting you and convincing myself that soulmates meant nothing to me, I’ve completely and unquestionably fallen in love with you, Y/N.”
Jungkook can’t decipher the look on your face. Something between the lines of disbelief and heartbreak, and it makes him want to split at the seams at the pain he’s put you through. How he’s convinced you you’re impossible to love. He vows to make it right again.
“And you’re wrong, you know. You’re not hard to love. Hell, I was dead set on never loving again and you managed to make me so smitten, I can’t paint or draw a damn thing without including some aspect of you in it.” Jungkook steps back and gestures to all the canvases and photos that hang on the wall.
“Take a look around, Y/N. It’s all you. Every piece.” Once he says it, you finally notice Every piece of art in this room can be traced to you, or a memory you two share. It’s so clear, you don’t know how you missed it before. You feel yourself in the art Jungkook has poured his soul into. Instead of making you feel elated, these words that you’ve been waiting your entire life to hear just ignites the sting.
“Just stop. Please.” It is only a weak whisper through your lips, and he ignores it.
“If you can’t forgive me, I get it Y/N. I can’t forgive myself either. But can you just know that you are enough. You are more than what I deserve. And I know you told me to be happy, but there is no way I can possibly do that without you.”
When your gaze falls to the floor, you notice that his wrist is clean of any bracelets or watches. Come to think of it, this is one of the first times you are seeing it clear and in the flesh. Jungkook doesn’t tell you, but nowadays, he doesn’t allow anything to impede on the sight of the crescent moon.
When your guard is down and you are distracted, he finds the perfect time to finally reach forward and take your hand in his. His touch is gentle when it wraps around your wrist, tugging off the ribbon that circled it, and revealing the matching mark. Your pulse jumps under his fingers, and skips a beat when he runs a thumb over the moon. You are already melting with such simple contact, and you almost allow yourself to succumb. Almost.
It’s as if suddenly his skin was scalding, and you snatch your wrist from his grasp at lightning speed. The tears that have strayed down your face are wiped away as quickly as they came. The surprise on his face is missed by your eyes because before he can comprehend what is happening, you are bolting down the staircase and out the glass doors of the gallery. No, you cannot forgive him yet. What would you do if he hurt you again? You don’t think you would survive.
You ignore the pain of seeing his art pieces as you run, now that you know you are the muse behind them all. The only noise is the sound of blood rushing in your ears, and you are oblivious to the racket of Jungkook’s shoes clapping against marble flooring as he chases after you, expertly dodging the other patrons and butlers holding trays of champagne.
And Jungkook? Well, he is oblivious to the complete turmoil that runs through your every nerve. He only sees your back, and not the way you bite your lip painfully to keep the sobs from escaping. Not the way your pain is exhibited clear as day in the crease of your eyebrow and the wrinkle of your nose.
The air outside is so cold it bites at your nostrils, but makes it easier to breathe. The wind calms the thundering heart in your chest.
He must be lying. There was no way he had a change of heart now, not when he was so rooted in his belief before. There is no virtual possibility, on any plane of existence, on any dimension where Jeon Jungkook has fallen in love with you.
The hand that circles around your wrist tightly to keep you from getting any farther tells you that you are wrong. He did come after you. Jungkook’s strength forces you to stop running, but you can’t find the courage to turn around and face him just yet. But you don’t make an effort to pull away, and he takes it as progress.
“You can run if you want, Y/N. You can walk away from me and from us, but don’t doubt that I’ll always be chasing after you. For as long as it takes.” He is panting and speaking through heavy breaths, but you hear him. Loud and clear.
“I won’t let you leave again. Not like last time.”
There is no malice. No coldness, and for the first time since you’ve met him, his words feel like warm honey instead of monotone ice. He is utterly distraught when you turn around slowly, hesitant like you’re afraid he will break your heart right then and there.
His heart shatters at the wetness at your waterline, and the way you look up at him; completely vulnerable and scared.
“Do you promise?”
There is a lot of weight in your three-word question. It’s not as innocent as meets the eye, and Jungkook knows it. He feels it. When you ask him if he promises, it is an invitation back to you. You are offering him your heart, which he has already broken and bruised, and trusting him to be careful with it this time around. Jungkook already knows he loves you. And if you let him, he’ll spend the rest of his life making sure this promise remains unbroken.
It’s a commitment. One he used to be terrified of making, but it seems so easy when it’s for you.
And when you fly forward to wrap your arms around him, Jungkook feels like home. Like the stars twinkle a little brighter and the earth stops spinning for a mere second, just for the two of you. You feel him squeeze you closer, just as tightly, and Jungkook wants to kick himself for depriving you both of a simple thing called love.
You are here, souls and now bodies intertwined, and Jungkook lets the pain of past hurt fall away. Pain is so miniscule when you are by his side. When you pull back, Jungkook frowns at your red-rimmed eyes, and the tears that still persist. He wipes it away oh so softly, as if you were delicate clay and he, a sculptor.
“Please don’t cry anymore, princess, it breaks my heart. I’m so sorry.” It is the softest, most sugary tone you’ve ever heard out of him. But hearing affection from his lips makes you feel that perhaps all of this sorrow, this longing, has been worth it. He has been worth it. He always has.
“I love you, Y/N.” Jungkook’s words are almost as beautiful as he is.
His lips are familiar when you lean forward and kiss him. Yet they are different. This time, the hands on your waist hold you a bit more carefully, even closer if that were possible. You can feel his thudding heart as it beats against your own, learning to match rhythms with each other, and Jungkook cradles your face in his hand like you are the only artwork he has truly been proud of.
And it’s true. All the canvases and paints and camera film seem wasted now. Nothing he ever makes will be quite as alluring as the art he holds in his arms in this moment.
“I love you too, you goddamn idiot.”
You meant it all those months ago, and you mean it now. If Jeon Jungkook was the sun, you would gladly change your name to Icarus. If Jeon Jungkook was the moon, then you are the tides that he pushes and pulls. If Jeon Jungkook belonged to you, well...you don’t have to imagine that anymore. He is your’s, as you are his.
Old habits die hard, but they are not immortal. They wax and wane, and remind you that in the cosmic vastness of things, you are only human. Humans whose hearts beat in tandem and souls made to complete the other. Humans with identical crescent moons, lost but now found.
Old habits die hard. But you have learned to fix those of a broken heart.
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