tomorrow can and may and will bring multitudes.
and take them, too.
jimin smiles at him.
jeongguk wants to smile back. he usually does, no matter what’s swirling in his mind at the time, but this time it’s too much. jeongguk just sits, and looks, and then leans his head against jimin’s knee.
“jeongguk,” jimin says, again, and jeongguk just traces a finger over jimin’s ankle.
jimin laughs, moves his foot away slightly. “jeongguk.”
“i’m thinking,” jeongguk says, stubbornly. (i’m trying very hard not to cry in front of you.)
“you don’t have to,” jimin says, like he always does, as if today is as simple as all the other times. “all the thinking is up to me.”
“then you should’ve thought better.” the words are out before he can help it. jimin’s hands rest on his thighs, fingertips brushing jeongguk’s cheek. now, they stiffen, and then slowly card their way through jeongguk’s hair.
“i’m sorry,” jimin whispers.
“do you - ” jeongguk starts, then takes a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut. he feels jimin start to move, and wishes he wasn’t like this. wishes none of it the was the way it is now. maybe if he’d never been the son of a steward, maybe if jimin hadn’t been the older prince, maybe if they’d never met -- his heart clenches, and he tells himself to stop.
jimin’s off the throne and sitting close to him now, both of them on the last stair.
“jeongguk,” he says.
it’s all he gets to say before jeongguk buries his head in jimin’s lap, shaking.
“i don’t want you to,” says someone, over and over again, until jeongguk realizes it’s himself. “i don’t want you to,” jeongguk keeps saying, as jimin slowly gathers him up until he’s sitting, until his head’s on jimin’s shoulder, until they’re clinging to each other with a desperation they’ve never needed to have before.
“oh, darling,” jimin whispers, into jeongguk’s hair. jeongguk wishes this would all stop.
“remember,” jeongguk says, and forces himself to lean back, out of jimin’s embrace. jimin looks at him, listening.
“remember when i wouldn’t want to go at night,” jeongguk says. he’s the last person to want to bring up times in the past where he’d acted foolishly, even if he was just a child then. but he needs jimin to understand without jeongguk spelling it out. jeongguk can’t spell it out. he’s never been good at it.
jimin smiles, and lifts his hand to place over jeongguk’s, still closing the space between parts of them at least. jeongguk is grateful.
“and you would tell me something?”
jimin’s hand curls a little, over jeongguk’s. it brings relief, that jimin understands - and a spark of something bitter, something like (i knew you would). “i would tell you,” jimin says, voice wavering a bit. still, he spells it out. he’s always been the bigger, smarter one. “that there’s always tomorrow.”
jeongguk flips his hand to squeeze jimin’s. it’s an awkward angle. his wrist strains a little.
“and that tomorrow,” jimin continues, quietly, “can. and may. and will. bring multitudes.”
my prince, jeongguk wants to say - “hyung.”
over the years, they’ve grown into their roles well. it’s the first time he’s said that in a while.
jimin is resolute, of course. he does not break. he opens his arms, and lets jeongguk in again.
“and tomorrow?” jeongguk asks, begs, trying so hard not to cry. “tomorrow?”
“tomorrow will be the same, jeonggukkie,” jimin says. jimin doesn’t break, because he wavers, he regains balance. he’s wavering now, shoulders and voice trembling just as bad as jeongguk’s. “just a little different.”
“how little,” jeongguk says, dully, trying now only to keep hearing jimin’s voice, to keep jimin in his reach, the smell and the feel of him, the way his body is and how his skin dimples under touch.
“as little as this,” jimin whispers, tapping a finger on jeongguk’s wrist. “and it’ll be just a moment.”
“it won’t,” jeongguk says, and jimin has nothing to say.
jimin holds him.
the bells toll for the evening. they sit still. once they stand, they will have to go to jimin’s chambers. in the morning, jeongguk will come and fasten jimin’s belt around his waist, drape the royal cape over his shoulders, sheathe the sword and hand it over.
in the morning, jimin will leave for battle.
after that, neither of them knows.
the bells toll for the evening.
they rise. they head for the prince’s chambers. jimin sits on his bed and watches jeongguk get the bath ready, watches jeongguk walk towards him, watches jeongguk. suddenly, it feels like there is nothing behind his eyes. watching jimin back, jeongguk feels like jimin is already not here.
“don’t,” jeongguk says, voice fraying at the edges. he starts to panic. “my prince.” he goes to his knees, looks up at jimin. jimin looks him down, blinks slowly.
“jeonggukie?” jimin says. then: “my dearest friend,” he smiles, the light coming back in his eyes, offering his hand - not to kiss, like jeongguk so dearly wants to, but to let jeongguk stand up. jeongguk breaks again.
he refuses; he’s done it before so many times, growing up. standing up to the prince, bullying him sometimes, even, refusing to listen. he refuses now, to stand up, to act as equal. instead, he takes jimin’s hand, its cascade of rings and bracelets that jeongguk has learned to put on jimin in order the same way jeongguk’s learned to breathe for himself, and kisses it. slides every ring carefully off, settles it on the bed and then kisses each knuckle, each nailbed, each bitten nail that jeongguk will have to smooth out in the morning, each inch he can -
“jeonggukie,” jimin says, again, as if from some place far away. jimin’s other hand comes up to jeongguk’s face, so gentle. “i’m here,” jimin says. “i am with you.”
“i’m apologizing,” jeongguk says, senseless.
jimin’s hand grows stiffer, stronger. “no, darling. you’ve done nothing wrong. what for?”
“for every moment,” jeongguk takes hold of jimin’s other hand and turns it over, presses it fervently to his mouth. “i won’t be with you.”
hello, captain softboys, it's over to you now!