The clouds inched across the sky and rows of crops and fencing whipped by the car window. A stark contrast between the two. Jungkook rested his head against the glass and watched as the car began to pass more and more houses. The familiar area told him he was almost home. He should’ve been glad, elated even. He would finally get to see his friends again, but after three weeks of summer school to catch up on the class he skipped last year he’d lost the ability to smile or show any form of positivity. To say he felt like a zombie would be an insulting understatement.
The car pulled into the ever so familiar driveway and the rest of his family piled out of the car. He didn’t move. He heaved a long, anguished sigh before snatching his duffel bag from the other seat and throwing open the door.
He was out the front door again before his mom could even ask him where he was going. Speeding his bike down the empty road that he’d ridden countless times before. He could make this route with his eyes closed. The house in question came into view and Jungkook pedaled harder to close the distance. He swung one leg to the opposite pedal and straddled it until he swerved to a stop in the driveway. The house was old, hadn’t been lived in for years, wasn’t on the market, yet wasn’t scheduled to be torn down. It was the perfect place for a group of teenagers to tear apart and put back together. Without knocking, he stepped inside and was hit with the welcoming scent of booze, pizza, and weed with notes of cigarettes and coffee. Music blasting from a distant room in the house lead him to the living room where he counted one, two, three, four, five people sprawled about the room. Upon noticing him standing in the doorway, they jumped up and raced to pull him into the room.
“Kook! How you been man? How’d surviving summer school go?” Taehyung was Jungkook’s best friend and unsolicited wingman. He was always trying to set him up with girls so he could get his v card punched. Taehyung was ever the ladies man. Never had trouble finding a date or a hookup. No one could blame him though. If they had that flawless, arrogant face they’d use it too. Despite his fuckboy nature, he was the best friend Jungkook ever had. They’d gone to the same school since they were 7 and Taehyung’s untamable charisma sniffed out Jungkook’s shyness rather quickly. They were inseparable and the rest is history.
“Fine I guess.”
“Kookie, come sit down! I’ve been saving your spot on the couch for you!” Jimin pulled Jungkook to the left corner of the C shaped couch. Jimin was like Taehyung in the sense that he also had no issues with finding partners. He wasn’t near as promiscuous as Taehyung, but he made up for it with his bisexuality. He had an entire other gender to choose from. Jimin was probably the nicest of the group. He always gave the best hugs and was their personal therapist. His aura seemed to coax you into opening up to him even if you hadn’t originally planned on it. He had a way of saying all the right words to make you feel better, even if it was just for a moment. On the other side of him, he was the biggest party animal the group had ever seen. Anywhere else, he was the purest angel that everyone believed could do no wrong. But at a party? Park Jimin was a demon. Seductively dancing in a stylish jacket, pants low enough to show his v-line, sweaty hair flipped back pounding shot after shot until he was the last man standing. That guy could party from sun down to sun up like it was a baby shower.
“Did you at least learn anything you missed last year?” Namjoon. Ever the parent. He was surprisingly humble given his father’s status and money. He easily had the best grades among the friends. School always came easy to him, no matter what it was. However, if you saw him outside of school, you’d never be able to guess he was one of the school’s top students. He carried an energy with him that dared anyone to mess with him or his friends. Although you didn’t see it often, he could make himself scary if he wanted to. All in all, he’s just a gentle giant that made sure everyone turned in their work.
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t know why they keep wasting their time on me.” Jungkook sighed. Hoseok threw a pillow from across the couch, smacking him in the face.
“Yah! Don’t talk about yourself like that!” Hoseok was the human charger. It didn’t matter if someone’s mama died if Hoseok was in the room there would be shenanigans. He was always the one to make some crazy dare that would end up getting them in trouble but they wouldn’t be mad because it was totally worth it. He also had great music taste and almost always was on aux. Hoseoks vice was coke. Often the driving force behind his hyper nature, it started out as just a thing he did at parties, but slowly creeped into his everyday habits. It hadn’t become a problem yet, he vowed that as soon as he started getting nosebleeds he’d stop, although Jungkook was wary of how difficult that was going to be.
“Where’s Emma and Yoongi?” Jungkook asked after noticing their usual spots empty.
“They left to get food. They should be coming back soon.” Jin assured him, giving him a comical slap on the thigh. Jin was the eldest, but rarely acted like it. Whenever he wasn’t making stupid dad jokes or eating he spent his time at the classical theater where he worked and sometimes acted. He planned on pursuing acting given his “world wide handsome face.” “It just has to be seen! People around the world need to swoon at my beauty” as he would put it.
No one heard the front door open and shut or noticed Emma and Yoongi standing in the doorway of the living room.
“Food’s here.” Yoongi finally croaked. Hoseok and Jin yelped and sprung up.
“JESUS! Ever heard of announcing yourselves?! I swear you guys are the exact same person!” Emma just gave a shrug and plopped onto the large bean bag that she’d claimed.
“Hey, Kooker.” She dragged out.
“Hi Emma..” His unusual bland reply didn’t go unnoticed by her, but she brushed it off.
“You ready to get shit faced?” A playful grin plastered her otherwise tranquil face. A small smile poked at Jungkooks pursed lips. There was something about her character that always put him in a better mood. She was the one who invited him and Tae into the friend group in the first place, and because of that, he couldn’t be more grateful.
Yoongi tossed him a beer can and his car keys. “Start us off Jungkook.” Yoongi was by far the most terrifying one. It took some time to get to know his true person but there were still times when he still scared the shit out of him. Jungkook remembered when he first met Yoongi. He looked like he’d served time with the seasoned look in his eye that said he’d seen some shit in his day. He hadn’t spoken the entire time the group was talking and Jungkook was beginning to worry that he didn’t like him. It wasn’t til he finally spoke that Jungkook could release the breath he was holding. For someone so stoic and cold looking, he never expected him to have such a low, soft voice. He realized, Yoongi wasn’t scary, he was just quiet like him.
Jungkook took the keys and poked a hole in the bottom of the can. He pressed his lips to it and pulled the tab, sending the amber liquor shooting down his throat. He finished it with ease and crushed the can in his palm while the room cheered and chanted.
The loud music, laughing, and drugs drowned out everything in the outside world. It felt like the world ended and they were the last people left on Earth. Nothing mattered but what was right in front of them. The hours flew by until it came time for everyone to crash. Most of them were still raging drunk or high which only made them fall asleep faster. Jungkook didn’t drink much and he barely smoked. He just couldn’t get in the right headspace to enjoy any of it. So there he was, laying awake among a pile of snoring boys at some ungodly hour of the night. His phone buzzed in his pocket. He fished it out to read the text in his notifications.
Noona💜: come to my office
He shimmied out from under Taehyung and Jimin and tiptoed out of the room. He followed the smell of weed through the house because where there was weed, there was Emma. He stepped into the backyard and found her leaning against the wall, blunt between her fingers. The tip of the dark stick swelled into a bright orange when she took a drag. Smoke rolling out of her nose, she held it out for him. He hesitated.
“Your upset. Take it.” Which was a dead-on observation for Emma, who’s not normally revolving in the same direction as planet Earth. He hesitantly took a puff from it before handing it back. She spread her arms lazily and looked at him with a beckoning stare. He sighed and walked right into her arms that wrapped around his back. She was only older than him by a year, but her old soul and almost motherly demeanor made him look up to her like she was his idol. Sometimes, he forgot he was a whole head taller than her. “Welcome home, Kookie.”
“Was what obvious.”
“Me being upset.”
“Not really.” She flicked the ash off the tip of the brown stick, her gaze not breaking from its spacey stare.
“Then how’d you know?”
“Pain recognizes pain.” Emma wasn’t one for her genius epiphanies, given that nine times out of ten on any given day she was stoned out of her mind. She wasn’t dumb, god no. He wouldn’t doubt that she was smarter than him, but she rarely exercised her ability. As great of a gift that her mind was, it was an even worse curse. An inescapable tomb of her worst fears, thoughts, and intentions, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. So naturally, she tried anything and everything to silence her mind; alcohol, weed, acid, coke, molly, you name it, she’s done it.
“Yep.” There was a silence while he worked up the nerve to speak.
“How…uh….how long have you felt…the way you feel?” She chuckled and let her head fall back against the couch.
“Well I smoked a blunt with Yoongi in the car this morning and then-”
“No, I mean like…w-without drugs.” Her lazy smile didn’t change, but her eyes unfocused and she grew quiet as if lost in a flashback.
“How long do you think I’ve felt this way?” He didn’t anticipate this question.
“Uh…I don’t know…you hide it really well.”
“I couldn’t tell you when it started. I don’t remember much before 7. I’m told I was a happy kid, but it didn’t feel like it at all. All my life I’ve looked around and seen that everyone was so much happier than me, and I’d ask myself, ‘Why can’t I feel like that?’ It wasn’t until I was older that I learned…I was born to suffer. That’s just my place in the world.”
“I didn’t. My parents found my razors.” Jungkook always thought he saw scars on her arms and legs, but her milky skin made it hard to tell. It hurt his heart to know that it was true, and that every one of those once caused her pain. The image of her forearms and thighs slick with her blood brewed tears in his eyes.
“I was 13.” Really? “I found my brothers stash of weed in one of his shoes. I already knew what weed was and what it was used for, so I took about a gram and a rolling paper and taught myself how to roll a joint on my bathroom floor. I was shaking like a dog shitting peach seeds but when that joint hit, I thought…” She tilted her head to peak at him with an epiphanic smile, “This is it…This is the feeling that I’ve been waiting to feel my entire life. I thought I was sure to get caught and sent to juvie, but I wasn’t. The world went on, and I found a way to live. Now could my lifestyle kill me? Will it kill me? Yeah probably I don’t know, but at least I could’ve had a few years where I wasn’t begging the universe to put me out of my misery.” She paused to take another hit. “People often ask me, ‘Emma why don’t you try therapy? Drugs aren’t the answer.’ Yeah well, drugs work. Therapy’s a guessing game; you never know if it’s gonna actually help or not and end up wasting your time and money. But when I take that hit, that line, that tab, the world starts to slow…and everything goes quiet…and I feel safe. In my own head. And I can see the world in color again.”
Jungkook watched her blissful face while she was lost in thought. She must’ve been pretty high because this is the most personal she’d ever gotten with him or possibly anyone that wasn’t Yoongi. “Noona?”
“W-what if I don’t feel what everyone else feels either..?” He pinched the skin between his fingers to keep his tears at bay, a nervous habit he’d picked up from her. She reached over and took his hand in hers, the webbing between her fingers had white and pink stripes from years of fingernails digging into the flesh.
“Jungkook,” she didn’t use his nickname, “I know how hard it was for you to say that. I want you to know how much I appreciate you telling me, because if anyone knows how you feel, it’s me. I want you to come to me when you feel like this. Even when you think it’s a bad time it’s not, because nothing in that moment is more important to me than you. I don’t want you to go through the same thing I did, so please, even if you don’t want to talk, maybe I can at least keep you company.”
For the rest of the night, Jungkook told her everything. About the pressure, the stress, the desire to collapse and let the world go on without him, his inability to see a future where he was fulfilled. The words often caught in his throat, having never said them out loud before. Emma didn’t say much, she just wrapped them in a blanket and stroked his hair while she just let him talk. Sometimes, he’d have to stop to cry and she’d hold him a little tighter, wipe his tears away with her thumbs, and wait til he was ready again.
Eventually, he had nothing else to say, his tears dried, and his body stilled.
Emma nodded off a little later but was woken up by a raccoon tipping a trash can. She rested her cheek on his head and tried to go back to sleep, but it never came. She just continued to rest her eyes while playing with Jungkook’s hair and tracing lines along his features.
She didn’t know how long she laid there but soon the birds began their routine morning songs and she was sure she wouldn’t get back to sleep now. The faint tap of shoes on the concrete perked her ears, but she kept her eyes closed. The footsteps stopped behind the couch where she sat. It was quiet before the person chuckled quietly. A warm hand smoothed back the hair in her face and a little kiss was planted on her forehead. She couldn’t help the smile that spread across her face.
“Yoongi, I’m awake you creep.” She cracked her eyes open to see her boyfriend laid over the back of the couch hovering above her, his dark hair tickling her nose. He smirked.
“Well in that case,” he grabbed her chin and tilted her head up before capturing her lips in a playful kiss. When they parted, he glanced down at Jungkooks still sleeping figure. “You guys stay out here all night?”
“Yeah,” she looked down at him and smoothed his hair back, “he just had a few things to get off his chest.” Yoongi almost asked what it was about but her face gave him an idea.
“It’s cold, you want me to take him inside?”
“It won’t wake him up will it?”
“If he’s as out as as he looks, he won’t.” She nodded and Yoongi circled around and slipped his hands under the sleeping boy’s body. Much to Emma’s pleasant surprise, he lifted him bridal style with ease and she followed him into the house where he placed him next to the other slumbering boys.
“I always loved the time just before dawn.”
“Why is that?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pressed his cheek to hers.
“It’s so calm and peaceful. And incredibly quiet besides the birds. It feels like I’m in another dimension where everything is okay.”
“You want me to show you my favorite time of day?” She turned to him with a curious look. “Follow me.” Not long after, the two were perched on the flat portion of the roof with Yoongi’s bong sitting between them. His angular fingers effortlessly packed the bowl and held it out to her. “All yours.” She took it with a smile.
“What a gentleman~”
Soon, the sky went from a pale blue to pastel shades of orange and pink. He looked over to see her fiddling with a thread on his hoodie she was wearing. “This,” he took her jaw and guided her eyes up for her to see the sunrise, “is my favorite time of day.”
“It gives me hope. Kinda like you.” He was glad she didn’t say anything. She was lost in the color palette of the scene before her, the weed making everything so much more vibrant and striking. He could see the sky reflected in her teal eyes, making the view ten times better. More time went by and she rested her head on his broad shoulder while they watched the rest of the sunrise.
Back on the ground, Yoongi cleared the bowl and poured out the bong water before setting it on a table by the couch. Emma was on her back in the center of the empty pool, slowly tearing a leaf above her face and analyzing how it separated cell by cell. He stood on the edge above and watched her do this another four times much to his amusement. “You wanna get breakfast?”
She was out of the pool and in his face before he could finish his sentence. “Sí.” He chuckled and rolled his eyes before turning and walking to his car. “Hey Yoongi.”
“Yes ma’am.” She let out a yelp when he scooped her off her feet and marched the two of them to his car waiting on the street.