Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

House Rules

By @Master_King_Queen

HOUSE: Going In

HOUSE: Going in

DISCLAIMER: Depending on when you are starting this, the names used to be the first names but are now the 2nd names aka their original names. Okay now enjoy this.

Kim Jum: Jung Hoseok

Cho Ji Soo: Park Jimin

Kim Man Young: Jeon Jeongguk

Yu Jin Young: Kim Namjoon

Moon Duck Hwan: Kim Seokjin

Kang Da: Min Yoongi

Park Hyun: Kim Taehyung

“Will you help me with this?”

Jerry leaned over his wife to grab an apple, ignoring her call for help completely and rushing back past the living room and up the stairs. Willa sighed, chopping the onions silently from then on. She sniffed, rubbing her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt before getting back to the grind. A few minutes later, she heard her husband march back down the stairs, searching for the remote. He turned off Sunday football and snaked around the kitchen island for his sneakers. “So, you’re not going to help me,” Willa reasoned, looking back at him with one eye unwillingly shut.

He paused and looked up at her, smiling finally. With a kiss on the cheek, he said, “Let me water the bushes first.” Willa nodded and let her husband open the front door and shut it with pride, his silhouette seen walking through the garden, shielded from view by the pastel curtains. As a few minutes passed, Willa got impatient. She covered the pot of stew and found her sandals, marching out into her garden searching for Jerry. She spotted him next to the bushes, a hose held firmly in his still hand. She smiled and walked up to him, unaware of what had caught his attention until she stepped closer.

Willa didn’t look at Jerry after that, nor did she say anything to him. The two just stood there, gazing up at the row of moving trucks filling the road outside the empty house that neighbored them. The grass had started dying around where the “For Sale” sign had sat for so long, and now it could be removed. A black minivan pulled up after the trucks just as they were opened by the drivers, revealing lots of boxes, their contents unknown. The movers began, well, moving as the doors to the van opened.

Jerry and Willa stood dumbfounded as they watched them exit the vehicle. At first, there was one, then another, and then seven people had left the van, chatting and stretching like they had been there for a while. But that wasn’t it. Behind them came a big dog, trotting to catch up with them. Behind that dog was a smaller dog, a Corgi. Behind that animal was a grey cat, and then—easily the most surprising one—a large black and white striped snake slithered out from the van and onto the driveway. They thought that was it, but then, just for good measure, a toad hopped out from the van and one of the car-people leaned down and picked it up, carrying it on their shoulder. They admired the house’s exterior. There was one with brown hair poking from out of their hood, and they turned consciously to the neighbors and waved.

“…Did six guys, one girl, two dogs, a cat, a snake, and a frog just leave that 5-seater van?” Willa asked, and Jerry just nodded.

It wasn’t long before they disappeared inside the house.

Jerry turned to Willa. “This should be interesting.”

~A week earlier~

Kim Namjoon felt his hand slip into a joint and he put pressure on it. A small gasp could be heard from his patient, and with all his years of experience, he still wasn’t sure if it was a good gasp or a bad one. He figured it out when the woman began to laugh afterward. “Mr. Kim, you are spectacular.”

Namjoon smiled, although he knew she couldn’t see him, as she lay flat on her back and he stood by her raised leg. “All I did was find the point of pressure, the medicine’s what’s really going to help.” He let her leg fall, pushing a strand of loose hair from his line of sight. He was so close to just cutting it all off. Although, if he did then dying it an off-white—or “whitesmoke” like the stylist had said—would’ve been pointless. His patient leaned up, facing him now. He half-smiled again and said, “Straighten your back, I don’t want to see you in here any more than I already do.” She smiled and fixed her posture, tying her hair back. “So, am I good to go?”

Namjoon sighed and pulled his chair away from his desk to place it in front of his examination table. “Have you been lifting, Gwen?” he asked sincerely.

Gwen paused, mid-tie when he asked. She let her hands fall and shrugged. “Just a bit,” she mumbled.

There was a brief show of tension on his face before he relaxed it, getting ready to explain the situation to her for approximately the 6th time. “Gwen, your ligaments are still torn in your left knee. You’re not getting any better, not because the medication is wrong but because you won’t rest. You need to take a pause and calm down.” He stopped short. “You remember RICE, don’t you?”

Gwen rolled her eyes and looked away, mumbling the acronym’s meaning. “Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevation.”

He patted her non-injured knee. “Then do that.” Namjoon rose. “I’ll see you in a few weeks.”

As Gwen left the room, Namjoon leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes. It seemed crazy for him to have his own room, and his own desk, yet zero privacy. Namjoon whipped out his phone from his white coat’s pocket and unlocked it, smiling briefly at the screen saver of him and his mom. He went to messages and opened up a group chat between him and 6 other people. Hastily, he began to type. Once the message was sent, Namjoon got up from his solemn chair, gathered his things, and left the office.

 

The smoke was so thick that even with his mask on, Park Jimin heaved at times. Time for new masks, he thought, pushing a slab of wood out of his path. The flames flared up on his right, and instinctively he guarded his companion from it, stepping behind and letting him go first. Approaching the living room, Jimin realized just how disastrous it was. The ceiling fan had disconnected from the roof and fallen square in the room’s center, fueling the fire’s energy. The T.V. was so far unscathed, but the sofa had already been half scorched. Jimin only got a glimpse of the room’s mechanics before ignoring them and getting to work. Jimin gave his axe to the man behind him, needing both hands to get through. He ducked under a fallen pillar and squinted, searching for a figure.

Soon, he found it. Stuck under the collapsed, half-burned couch was a woman, the shelf collapsed on top of the couch weighing it, and her, down. Part of her hand was on fire. Yet, she didn’t scream. Taking this as evidence that she was unconscious, Jimin patted her hand softly, but with a violent intention. The fire went out, leaving her skin black and smoky. “Help me,” he said, turning back to the man behind him. The man nodded, lifting the couch so Jimin could reach under it, grabbing the woman by her bruised waist and gently lifting her in his arms. “Drop it and go,” Jimin spoke and the man did as he was told, dropping the couch and hustling out from which they had come.

Luckily, nothing more had fallen in their path, but the fire to their right was growing stronger. Once they were outside, Jimin’s companion took off his mask and called for help. The EMTs came rushing with a stretcher and an oxygen mask. Strapping her down, the woman woke up just in time to see Jimin take off his own mask and flick his sweaty hair about. The woman just stared at him, bright orange hair being pushed out of his sweaty face. “Ma’am, we’re taking you to the hospital, okay!” one of the EMTs called, but the woman didn’t look at them. Instead, she reached her unburned hand out toward Jimin and said…

“Wow…your cheeks are so big.

The EMT looked up at Jimin and rolled her eyes, rolling the woman away. Jimin just blinked, confused. He looked back toward the house, the fire inside and outside lessening as everyone had been evacuated from the building and they hosed it down. Jimin’s companion walked up to him, dimples showing as he chuckled. He patted him on the back, thrusting him forward. “Why does that always happen?” he pondered.

His friend chuckled, scratching his helmet-head of an afro. “Because you’re a handsome guy, Jimin, a handsome guy.” His hand went around Jimin’s shoulder.

“Yeah, except it’s never ‘handsome,’ it’s always ‘cute’ or ‘awww.’” His narrow shoulders slumped. “I just want handsome, just once.

As they packed up their truck, Jimin got in the back with the others, collapsing on the bench. As Jay turned back to say something to his friend, a sour look cascaded over his face as he saw Jimin pulling out a new pill bottle. “What is that, NatureThin?”

Jimin shook his head as he poured two of the green pills into his small hands. “No, Garcinia Cambogia Extract. Nice try though.”

“You don’t need those,” Jay said for the umpteenth time.

“Yeah, well,” Jimin pulled some water out of his bag, “It’s my body.”

Jay, although disapproving still, turned back to the woman next to him as they made conversation. Mid-swallow, Jimin’s phone began to ring. He held the phone to his ear—plugging his other ear with a finger—and muttered, “Hey, what’s going on?”

And a second later he was off the phone, trying to hold in a smile.

“Hey, you going out with us after this?” Jay asked. Jimin shook his head.

“I can’t. I just got plans.”

 

“Ma’am?”

“Huh?”

Min Yoongi’s head snapped up, her hood nearly falling off. With effort, she kept it on, concealing her uneven cut hair. After she cut it, she realized two things: One, that she felt naked without it, and two, that she definitely should have used a mirror rather than snipping it off at the bar in a half-drunken rage. She sniffed, rubbing her nose as she rang up items for the nice gentlemen. Her employers knew she was a hard worker, she just didn’t always have the best aura about her. That was why they tried to avoid putting her on the cash register as much as possible, so the customers wouldn’t get turned off the store; because it was never the occasional roach or the empty shelves…just her. Still, they were a member short and the grocery store was busiest on Sundays. That didn’t stop them from steering as many customers away from her register as possible.

With one hand in her pocket, she rang up the remaining items: Bananas, granola bars, eggs, and baby oil. Yoongi rose the baby oil in the air and made eye contact with the man. “What’s this for?” she asked, a lack of luster in her diction.

The man seemed flustered. “Uh, my wife.”

“Ah, of course,” she answered, no rhyme or reason to the question. Finishing up, she put the objects in the bag. “My husband used to buy baby oil for his face.” Yoongi let out a small chuckle, dimples showing where dimples hadn’t shown in a while. “I always thought it was weird.”

As she went over to the machine, calculating the grand total, the man spoke. “My wife’s the same. Although, I think that she thinks it’ll soak through her skin and somehow reach our baby’s bottom.”

Yoongi’s pinky finger twitched and she sucked in a breath, feeling her choker move as she did. “Ah, you’re pregnant?”

The man just nodded. Yoongi told him how much it was and he paid with his credit card. Gathering his bags, Yoongi called to him before he left. “…Congratulations.” The man nodded in thanks before leaving the store. Yoongi just watched him go, crossing the street to reach his vehicle. “…Congratulations,” she whispered again, unable to tear her eyes away. Something moved on Yoongi’s face and she wiped it away, looking down at her hand to see it now wet.

“I’m going on my lunch break,” she muttered to no one in particular, gathering her old, green backpack and rushing to her beat up Toyota. Hopping in, she scared herself as she saw a glimpse of a person’s face staring at her through the glass, thinking the worst. Sighing, she rolled down her window and smiled at her co-worker. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“What’s up?” Yoongi asked.

“Rita, Abdalla, and I were going across the street to the coffee shop. Wanna come?”

“No thanks.”

“Ah, why not? Where are you headed?”

“…My couch.” As Yoongi answered, her coworker simply nodded and backed away, sending her off. Yoongi rolled up her window and turned the car on, backing up and driving away. As she reached a red light, her phone buzzed. She grabbed it next to her on the passenger seat and checked the text.

In a split second, she was making a U-turn and heading in the opposite direction.

 

Once Kim Seokjin’s head connected with the wall for the 3rd time, his clients began to show concern.

“…Is it really that bad?” the woman asked, arm wrapped around her son’s shoulders. Seokjin stepped back from the wall and turned to her, eyes piercing. “Yes, ma’am, I’m afraid it is.” He pointed at her son, his head down as he stared at his phone. “Your son could get life for lying on the stand.”

“Life?” Her eyes widened. The wrinkles on her cheeks shifted. “All he did was s-spray paint his high school wall?”

“Are you saying graffiti isn’t a serious crime?” Seokjin’s hands fell on his desk, startling the woman and her husband. “Because I assure you, it is.

The man sighed, his eyes shutting quickly before opening fast. “Mr. Kim—”

“Please, call me Jin hyung—”

“—I’m not doing that—”

“—Then proceed.”

The man’s nostrils flared. “Look, we didn’t even want to take this to court. We could’ve easily just paid the fine and moved on, you’re the one who wanted to take this trial. You’re only here because you were court appointed and we can’t afford a lawyer, nor did we need one.” He ruffled his inattentive son’s hair. “Look, we just need to win this.”

Seokjin looked him straight in the eye, letting his black hair fall into his face. “Trust me, you will.”

~~~

“We the jury find the defendant, Mark Kingman, guilty of vandalism.”

The crowd said nothing, mainly because the crowd consisted of Mark’s mom and dad, the Principle of Mark’s school, and the Vice. The Judge banged the gavel and that was that, leading to a large amount of yelling towards Seokjin before he sat on a bench outside the courtroom, head hanging in shame.

A hand smacked his shoulder, but he didn’t budge. A friend sat next to him on the bench, sighing peacefully. “What a beautiful day.”

Seokjin scoffed. “To you, maybe. I just lost my 5th case. If I lose anymore…I don’t know what’ll happen to me.”

“Yeah, I agree you are by far the worst lawyer I’ve ever met.” Seokjin looked over at the guy, and he smiled. “But you’re also the nicest lawyer I’ve ever met.” With another more or less violent slap on the shoulder, he walked away, shoes clapping against the floor and echoing throughout.

As Seokjin was about to settle back into his depression, high heels click-clacked up to him, reaching out. “You left your phone in there,” a woman said, handing it over to him. He looked down at his phone, turned it on, and checked the 13 messages from Ebony with displeasure. The woman peered over to see who it was and rolled her eyes. Seokjin had seen her doing this and muttered, “Shut up JJ,” scrolling through the plethora of angry texts. “She’s just mad I didn’t call.”

“Yeah, because you were too busy trying to save a kid from jail time,” JJ pressed, shaking her head. “Dude, if you’re name’s not Ivory, then you have no business dating an Ebony…or at least not that Ebony.” Seokjin just looked up at her and she shrugged back, clacking her heels back down the hallway and into the courtroom.

Seokjin’s spirit began to drop as he kept scrolling, fatigue running through him. In an instant, a notification popped onto his phone; another text. He opened it and smiled.

Now—still within seconds—he was heading out.

 

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever read in my entire life as an editor.”

Jung Hoseok had never heard such a heartbreaking thing in his career, although he would never actively admit that. Instead, he put on a brave smile and just listened as his editor continued. “The book’s about a werewolf, right?”

Hoseok blinked once before shaking his head. “No, it’s about a mermaid.”

His editor burrowed her eyebrows and scrolled through the pages again. “Then why is she so hairy?”

“She’s expressing herself by not shaving. Women can do anything.”

The editor let out an exasperated sigh before rubbing her eyes and dropping her pencil. “Hoseok, I can’t handle this anymore. Your book is just getting progressively worse. What you need isn’t an editor, you need a creative brain.”

Hoseok pulled up his loosened suspenders slowly. “But, you like my artwork, don’t you?”

His editor nodded, following up with, “And you should stick with that…because you suck at everything else.”

~~~

As Hoseok walked out of the building, he reached into his pocket for his pack of cigarettes. Taking one out, he thought about it before letting it flitter from his fingers and fall to the ground.

He was in no mood for a smoke.

Hoseok took off his beanie and clutched it in one hand as he answered his nagging phone with the other. “What?” he said, fatigue ripping through his voice. Suddenly, he perked up. “You’re picking me up? From where?”

 

“And that concludes our lesson. Don’t forget you have a test on Monday, your essay’s also due on Monday, and your online homework is due by 11 tonight. Have a good weekend.”

As the class of 35 all hustled up from their seats to leave, Jeon Jeongguk did the same, but slower. He thrust a hand below him in search of his bag while trying to finish up a few more notes. Before he could, his professor shut the PowerPoint off. Sighing, he grabbed his bag, shoved his notebook inside, and left with everyone else.

“Food?” Jeongguk turned to the man next to him, looking at him with kind and curious eyes. He just nodded vigorously, and the two went to get something from the McDonald’s across the street. As they went in and waited in line—busy from the afternoon college student rush—his friend spoke. “How’s your essay coming?”

Jeongguk sighed, staring forward. “It’s not, I literally haven’t written anything yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not good with essays, all I know how to do is math…” He paused. “…and some science…” He paused again. “Okay, well I’m good at English too but I’m just not in the mood right now.” Jeongguk pouted. “I don’t understand why this much writing has to be done just to become an astronaut. Like, how much am I going to be writing on Mars, it’s Mars.”

“Calm down, Rocket Man,” his companion said, patting him on the back. “You’ll get to Mars eventually.”

“Not the way he teaches,” Jeongguk muttered, the line jumping forward. “He has no passion when he talks, I have to translate all the passion when I write it down.” He shook his head. “College sucks.”

“You’ve been at it for four and a half years now. You left high school hella early for this, don’t give up yet.”

The two friends heard skidding behind them and turned to see a car coming to an abrupt stop outside. It wasn’t until the driver wound down the window that Jeongguk recognized them. “Forget lunch, I’ve gotta go.”

Without another word, Jeongguk exited the store, leaving his friend behind.

 

Kim Taehyung grunted under the pressure of the wardrobe, the other movers standing back as they admired the muscles flexing in his exposed arms. Taehyung sweat profoundly in the hot sun, strong enough to use his left arm to wipe his face whilst still clutching the wardrobe in his right.

He reached the top of the stairs and took two steps toward the front door, meeting the astonished owner. The balding man blinked once, speechless. “Where do you want this?” Taehyung asked, breathing heavy.

The man just said, “Living room,” and Taehyung was off, accurate enough to fit it into the doorframe and place it right where it needed to be. The movers had started working again, putting things out. Taehyung raked his hands through his short, curly hair, gripping it tight before letting it go. He looked around the half-finished room and nodded, hands on his hips. “Lovely home.”

~~~

“50, 60, 70—”

“—You know you don’t have to count it out loud, right?” One of the movers—the biggest one—looked down at Taehyung as he counted his payment for all the other movers to hear. “They don’t need to know that I pay you more.”

“They should,” Taehyung said, grinning. “I work harder than them, and I’m not tied down by the government’s taxes.”

“Watch that attitude, kid,” he pushed, handing him the rest of the cash. “You’ll feel the pain of not having a stable job eventually, promise you.” Nudging his chin, the mover walked back to his truck and his workers, leaving Taehyung wandering the streets with 500 dollars in his pocket. He sighed, looking toward a local bar: His favorite. Taehyung stopped, people behind him moving around.

That’s when his phone buzzed, and he fumbled in his pants to get it. Checking the text, a smile edged onto his face. With a quick turn of his heel, he turned and ran back down the alleyway.

 

Namjoon sat in the bar’s round booth impatiently, drumming his fingers on the table. That didn’t last long after he became conscious of the sticky suction when he moved his fingers away; unaware and uninterested in what the stick could be. He sat back and sighed, picking up his already half-empty mug of Porter beer and taking a modest sip to hide the fact that he had already downed two before ordering this one. The bar around them was mostly empty, only a few stragglers and day drinkers lingering around in their own worlds of pity separate from Namjoon’s, as the etiquette at the bar goes. It was dark in there; the only light coming from the countertop lamps where the bartenders met their loose-tongued matches, setting a mood only bars could set: Emptiness.

Namjoon had that feeling everyone got when they were waiting for someone and a figure appears too close for comfort in their peripheral vision. He turned and smiled at his first replier to the group chat’s message.

Taehyung sat down next to him in the booth, saying nothing as he stole Namjoon’s beer and took a little bit more than a modest sip. “How many would that be today at…” Namjoon pulled out his phone. “…two in the afternoon?”

Taehyung burped before turning his larger than life eyes to Namjoon’s. “I don’t know Joon, how many has it been since you’ve sat down?”

Namjoon smiled at his friend. “Three.” His smile didn’t fade as Taehyung’s eyes rolled back in his head as he thought. “…Seven?” Taehyung counted up his drinks for the day so far. “Eight including this one.”

Namjoon held his tongue as he heard the shuffling of many more feet to follow. Taehyung and Namjoon turned to see three newcomers walking with slumps in their shoulders and bags below their eyes, approaching the table like zombies. Yoongi slid in first next to Taehyung, Taehyung paying her little attention. Jeongguk and Hoseok slid in next to Namjoon, Hoseok going first. “Already drinking I see,” Yoongi noticed, nodding to Taehyung’s half-empty beer. He turned to her and offered his mug, which she gladly took. “Kookie, I thought you had class?” Namjoon asked Jeongguk. Jeongguk shook his head, looking inattentive when he did. He raised his hand and a waitress came over, taking his order. He, as usual, ordered for the whole table. Hoseok, despite the drumming in his fingers and the weight in his chest, smiled at everyone and asked how they were doing.

“Not yet,” Yoongi decided. “Wait for the other two to get here. I’m sure they have loads of stuff to say.”

A minute after seven drinks and chili cheese fries had arrived, so did the other two.

Jimin scooted next to Yoongi and Seokjin next to Jeongguk. “Ah!” Seokjin shouted, grabbing three fries at a time and chowing down. “You’re not eating all the food this time Jin,” Jeongguk argued, shying the large bowl of fries away from him.

“Leave some for the rest of them,” Jimin agreed, excluding himself. “We’ve all had a long day.”

A collective sigh was shared among the seven friends, nothing after that being said. Namjoon, as usual, kicked it off.

“I think I hate my job.”

“At least you have a job to hate,” Taehyung countered. “Joon, you can do whatever you want with a job like that.”

“No, Kookie can do whatever he wants,” Yoongi commented. “He’s already surpassed the basics of everything.”

Jeongguk’s nose twitched. “Right, because being in college for so long and not even having a social life is what I always wanted for myself.” He sighed, latching onto his cold drink. “I hate college, but it’s literally the only thing I know.”

Yoongi scoffed. “Whereas I’ve already been through two mid-life crises and I still have periods so…” Yoongi clinked her glass with Jimin’s untouched one. “…congratulations to me.”

Jimin took the unwelcome clink of his glass as a gateway to speak. “I think you’re lucky. I save lives. Everybody loves me.” The others waited for him to get to the point. “But knowing myself…it just doesn’t feel right. I’d much rather live under a bridge and be poor if it meant people saw me the way I see myself.” He then proceeded to chug his entire, once untouched beer.

“Until you find out bridges hate you,” Jin muttered, ignoring Jeongguk and Jimin’s orders and stuffing himself with fries. “I love the hell out of my job…I’m just not good at it.” He sighed. “Do you have any idea how sad that makes me?”

Hoseok stared at the drink, pulling out a box from behind him. “I do,” he admitted, pulling out a lighter. “Especially when I’m great at the thing I hate the most.” In any other case they would have told Hoseok to stop—along with Jimin as he finished off his beer—but in this time of mourning, no one said anything…

…or usually they didn’t.

“Jimin, what day is it?” Namjoon asked, turning slightly to him. Jimin looked up and answered, “March 11th, why?”

“Okay…” Namjoon nodded slowly, fingers drumming on the table. “My grandma died today.” All eyes were now on Namjoon, feeling returning to their faces. “What about you, Hoseok? Anything happen to you today?”

Hoseok blinked, thinking. “My editor—”

Namjoon stopped him there, telling him to say something that wouldn’t deject him. Hoseok told his friends, “I’m thinking of cutting my hair.”

“Eww, really?” Jin commented, staring at his light brown/orangish, long hair. “I don’t agree with that.”

“Well, what about you Jin?” Hoseok asked, passing the question on.

Jin stood up straight. “I tried to give this homeless guy 20 dollars…but he wasn’t homeless, he was just getting into character for a role.”

“On the street?” Hoseok asked.

“Yeah, I know! It was weird!” Jin turned to Jeongguk beside him. “Kook?”

Jeongguk shrugged. “I saw this really cool recipe for a sausage-based lasagna in this cooking magazine when I was getting ramen from the store, and I’ve been meaning to try it out for like six days. I was going to ask Jin for help.”

Seokjin perked up. “Oh, that sounds amazing!” he commented.

“Right?” Jeongguk agreed, turning to Jimin. “Soo?”

Jimin smiled, thinking of his answer. “I found a rabbit outside of the fire station today. I think I might take it home and see if Jimin will play with it.”

“I don’t think cats would get along with rabbits,” Namjoon commented.

“Well, you never know.” Jimin turned to Yoongi. “Yoongi?”

Yoongi looked up at them, seeing their anticipation. “Someone actually tried to rob the store today.”

“You’re kidding!” Jimin said.

“No, seriously. They came in, to my register of course, and put a gun to my head.”

“What?” Jeongguk said.

“That’s not even the craziest part,” Yoongi continued. “It was a water gun.”

They burst into laughter.

“And the guy was actually one of my coworker’s uncles with some sort of mental disability. He thought the whole thing would be a funny gag, a sort of humorous welcoming.”

“Oh my God!” Taehyung said, head down on the table as his body vibrated.

“Taehyung?” Yoongi said, passing it on.

Taehyung lifted his head, smile still wide. “Uh…I think my neighbor—the guy in the room next to mine—is caught up in the mafia.”

“Shut up,” Yoongi said.

“No, I swear I have the evidence to prove it. One word: Thin walls…wait that’s two words.”

The table erupted into more laughter, all of them chatting about their day and other random but intriguing things that had happened not only in the past week, but in the past month, and so on.

“Guys,” Namjoon said, trying to grab their attention. He did a poor job. “Guys!” he called out and the table fell silent. “…Why is this the first time we’re hearing any of this?” Namjoon looked around, but no one responded. “We see each other every day and we’ve never heard any of this. All we’ve heard is Yoongi’s mid-life crisis or how much Jin sucks at his job or Taehyung’s lack of confidence or Jimin’s self-image issues!” Namjoon’s shoulders released tension as he brought the booth back into the bar’s aura. “What happened that made our relationship turn so sour?”

Again, there was no response. They had known each other since high school, and since then they had rarely left each other’s side. They moved to the same city, the same area…yet they had never been more distant. Namjoon would call the meetings, everyone would come, everyone would sulk, and then everyone would leave. That was their relationship…and they all knew it was wrong.

“Move in with me.”

All eyes turned to Jimin as he spoke, looking up. “I have the biggest house…you guys should move in with me.”

“You want all six of us to move into your house?” Yoongi questioned. Jimin just nodded. “What about PipPip?” Yoongi asked about her dog.

“Animals can come too. Hobi’s snake, Kookie’s toad, Joon’s dog.” They looked skeptical, so Jimin went in deeper. He reached out and grabbed Seokjin’s hand from the other side of the table and then grabbed Yoongi’s. Seokjin grabbed Jeongguk’s and Yoongi grabbed Taehyung’s and so on. Namjoon was the last to receive their hands, wondering how they must look right now. “We need to reconnect guys, we were so much happier when we did.”

 

Namjoon rolled up his sleeves, the heat of midday soaking into his dark fabric. He sat on the curb outside the bar, keeping his legs tucked so they wouldn’t get run over. He closed his eyes, letting the other senses heighten. The smell of stale food, weathered streets, and gasoline seemed stronger now. The sound of cars passing by was heavily anticipated, the noise getting louder and more abrupt as it came closer. Sometimes two or seven cars came out at a time, sometimes only one. Still, they startled him as they passed.

However, the element of surprise is what really caught him off guard, unable to help jumping as a hand landed on his shoulder. Namjoon opened his eyes and looked backward as a shorts-wearing individual sat next to him. Hoseok sighed, arms resting on his knees. “Why are you out here?” Namjoon asked.

“I don’t know, why are you out here?” Hoseok countered, tilting his head. Namjoon’s shoulders slouched, feeling dull. He didn’t answer, therefore Hoseok went on. “Seven people and a bunch of animals living in one house is some intense Noah’s ark stuff…it was a pretty weird idea.” Namjoon just nodded. “So…” Hoseok was clearly getting ready for a long monologue. “I know I’m agreeing to it because as a failed author but a ‘surprisingly brilliant’ artist, I need people around me to let me know if I should give up on my dreams or not.” He paused. “I know Taehyung’s doing it because he’s basically homeless…and also because he doesn’t know what he wants out of life yet, and wants us to tell him. Yoongi’s doing it because if she’s with us…she forgets how shitty her life actually is. Kookie’s just sick of school and would agree to anything if it meant he spent less time there. Jin doesn’t think he can do anything right, Chim Chim’s overcompensating…but what about you, Joon?” As Hoseok’s eyes settled, Namjoon decided to turn away, a pressure pressing hard on his chest. “You’re a chiropractor with your own office, your own house, your own space…why the hell would you want to move in with six other people, two dogs, a cat, a toad, and a snake in a, considering everything, small house?”

Namjoon stayed silent still, not precisely thinking but wondering how he would say what he needed to say. In the meantime, Hoseok reached into his jacket pocket and struggled to pull something out. Before he could utilize the object, Namjoon put a hand out over the pack of cigarettes, turning an eye down at it. “Don’t,” Namjoon spoke.

Hoseok just looked at him, moving the pack out of his reach. “Then tell me what’s going on…why do you want this?”

Namjoon’s muscles tensed, back straightening. Hoseok just looked at him, grinning in triumph. Finally, Namjoon’s muscles relaxed and he explained. “People come in and out of my office all day, Hobi…like all day. I don’t get time alone often when I’m there. And still, whenever I do…I call you guys.” Namjoon’s nose wrinkled, eyes shifting. “…and then I leave. I go out with you or Taehyung or any of the others because I don’t want to be alone, Hobi. I hate being alone.” Namjoon’s nose scrunched now, struggling to keep that hollow feeling at bay. “And then it’s over, and we go back to our individual lives; going home, going out, working, drinking, eating and I just…I hate my life when I’m alone…I hate me when I’m alone.”

Hoseok was about to say something when the doors to the bar opened again, five other familiar faces pouring out.

Namjoon’s stature changed as the distant yawning and moaning rose in volume until an arm landed on his stiff shoulders. Taehyung got behind Hoseok and straddled his back, looking out at the nearly empty street. Jeongguk was the force weighing down on Namjoon’s shoulders and Yoongi, Jimin, and Seokjin stood behind them. “Ah, it’s cold,” Seokjin noted, a concept that should have already been obvious and pointless to say. However, it miraculously sparked a question in Taehyung. “Is that window still broken in your living room, Jimin?”

Jimin shrugged, arm on Yoongi’s unprepared shoulder. “Probably.” He sighed, a cloud of freezing smoke jellyfishing away from him. “Let’s not move into Jimin’s house,” Namjoon said.

Yoongi, Jimin, Jeongguk, and Taehyung looked down at him, Hoseok’s eyes shifting right. “Let’s get a new house together.”

They had agreed.

~Present day~

Jimin was the first to take a step out of the vehicle, stretching his back out from the constraints of their crowded car. Some of them had their own cars, but others rode bikes or walked. Jimin had traded in his own car to help put in for the house, and Yoongi’s car hadn’t been working lately anyway. Instead, Namjoon’s old Subaru was traded in for a black minivan they could all fit in, if the need arose.

Jimin smiled at the house’s size, seeing how big it felt on the outside. The yard’s grass was a green that didn’t need sunlight to glisten, sunlight only adding a blinding glare. Some daffodils and sunflowers were growing, and a line of bushes separated their property from the neighbors. A hand shoved Jimin forward and Namjoon came out second.

Namjoon felt the house somewhere in his gut; perhaps it wasn’t the house, but the energy felt inside of it. The house had beige slidings that based its outer walls, a light blue roof structured atop of it. The pillars outside and the counter posts were maroon, giving the house an added splice of color. There were two—no three—steps leading up to the long porch outside, empty and waiting to be filled. The front door was also a light blue paint slabbed onto strong wood and pierced with a bronze door handle. The windows on the first floor were rectangular, the glare preventing them from being peeked into. The windows on the 2nd floor were squares, a chimney’s love placed on the roof.

The rest of them walked forward, all of their animals sliding out of the car as well. Yoongi turned to the neighbors watching them and waved.

They waved back, but not with the same will.

The others ignored them completely as they muttered about the house’s yard. Namjoon took the first steps up the porch and reached in his pocket, pulling out their silver lifeline. Inserting the key into the door, it unlocked and opened for him, a crisp cool cascading down his face and soon his legs.

“Guys.”

Namjoon’s call brought everyone out of the reserved yard and into the house, pushing Namjoon forward.

Taehyung’s nostrils flared and his body took in the scent willingly, feeling a comfort from it. It smelled unlike any other place he had lived in. In those places, there was a scent that had been installed from all of the feet walking to and fro, the mouths chewing, talking, bodies jumping, sitting, laying, noses sniffling, love-making…but this house had none of that…yet. It smelled quiet.

Hoseok’s boots broke the spines of the newly placed wood on the floor, the creaks stopping as soon as the floor adjusted to the added weight. It was not prepared for seven people at once.

Seokjin turned to his left and immediately saw the kitchen. There was an empty island—counter white and the base black—semi-surrounded by longer countertop pressed into the corner and working its way around the walls. Above the gas stove was a microwave embedded between a row of cupboards, and within a break in the countertop was the silver fridge and freezer. The oven was far away from the other appliances, placed after the counter bent into the corner; placed on the same wall as the front door.

The others followed as Hoseok took the first steps toward the white ajar door just beyond the kitchen—straight ahead, if not a little to the left. He pushed the door open all the way. There was no furniture yet, but the room was big enough to hold a few people. The window was all the way on the other side of the now brown carpet. The walls were a sweet eggshell, and the sun came in through the blinds and gave the fresh carpet a patterned tan. Hoseok closed the door and went out of the room.

Jeongguk’s feet went as well, but to the left this time. There was half a wall separating the door from the other part of the house, and Jeongguk walked through the archway leading to the rest of it—others followed still. They passed another door, a downstairs bathroom it was. The living room was, again, a wide-open space with two windows beside each other, open to the front of the house. The fireplace rested right below the staircase, an odd place for it to be Jeongguk thought.

Yoongi rushed upstairs, many other feet pounding behind her. The hallway was a little dark only because windows were lacking. It was on the narrow side. Yoongi checked the bathroom in the now peach-colored hallway, seeing that its wide sink and decent size would do. There were two more rooms on this floor, identical to the one downstairs, but slightly smaller.

Eventually, they all ended up back outside, sitting on their porch, shoulder to shoulder, feet dangling below to the earth. The wind blew gently, the neighbors had gone away, and the moving trucks’ engines were off now.

Yoongi scoffed in a happy tone, her body going up and then down. “This is amazing.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk agreed. “…But it’s small for seven people.”

They all grunted and nodded in agreement.

“That wall separating the living room and the front door area needs to go,” Seokjin said.

They grunted and nodded again.

“We’re gonna have to figure out who rooms with who.”

Grunt then nod.

Namjoon sighed. “But we can do it, right?” He looked to his companions and they looked back. There was no grunt or nod. Namjoon still went on.

“All we need is a few house rules.”

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