Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

House Rules

By @Master_King_Queen

Rules: Coming Out

RULES: Coming Out

“We are now calling first class passengers for Flight 2013 to Honolulu. Repeat, first-class passengers for flight 2013, we are calling you now.”

A rush of people, as usual. Although not as many as the call for Economy; that would bring what is known as a silent uproar in the airport. Feet, still, softly pummeled the carpet as people lined up to get through the terminal.

Kim Taehyung sighed, working so hard to ignore the world. He couldn’t hear over the rigid beat of his “rotten, edgy, and godless” rock music, but he could feel the weight loosen on the seat next to him as someone got up, and he could see their flip-flops flap away towards the attendants. A finger tapped his shoulder, and as badly as he wanted to ignore it, Taehyung looked up through the blinds of his black hair and up at the smiling lady. “First class?” she posed, pointing to Taehyung’s ticket. It did, indeed, said first-class. The passenger scratched his head, unaware that they were already calling his group.

Park Jimin tripped on the carpet and stumbled out of the bathroom, regaining his footing back before jogging back over to the terminal lounge. He sighed as he sat down, grabbing his carry-on from his fellow Flight 2-0-1-3 neighbor and breathing out a “thanks.” Immediately after, he pulled out his phone and made a note to stop trusting strangers with his possessions once he got to Hawaii.

Kim Namjoon’s body tensed as Yoongi’s skinny-jean-covered knee cap poked the hairs atop his thigh, instinctively inching his leg away. He wanted to move all the way away—a whole seat away, possibly even a whole plane away—but he knew the impression that would leave…not that it mattered to either of them anyway.

Min Yoongi felt the hairs of Namjoon’s thigh slip out of his own covered knee’s stronghold, feeling a sense of satisfaction there. The game 2048 was taking years off his life. The greatest tile he had ever gotten was 128. He had also downloaded Color Switch, Fun Run, even a throwback to Candy Crush to get him through this flight. Now that Namjoon had touched him, it left a sour taste in his mouth. Yoongi switched over to Candy Crush.


Jeon Jeongguk laughed heartedly with his other classmates, even though he was the one that had told the joke. He could tell they were being obnoxious, but in a place like this what mattered more: Having friends or having silence? He wanted silence but needed friends…so he had friends. He watched two of his friends leave for first class: He wanted to be able to do that someday. That’s why he was here—they laughed again—that’s why he stayed.

Kim Seokjin and his ten other coworkers stared at their Blackberries, fat and worn thumbs swiping vigorously over the screen. They weren’t dressed like lawyers, but with the constant phone calls and automated barks of laughter, they acted like it. Jin didn’t, Jin did, Jin played both sides often. At least he wasn’t sitting with them on the airplane.

Jung Hoseok stretched his legs out wide, yawning. He checked his ticket again before checking the time. Waiting was never his strong suit. He pulled out his brochure again: Fun in Honolulu! Restaurants, attractions, and more! He read.

Economy was called and they were seated on the plane.

“Joon! Yoongi!”

Namjoon and Yoongi looked up at the woman waving to them from a few seats up. They waved back. Namjoon wished he could have sat with his sister, but their mom and aunt insisted she sit with them and give “the boys time to hang.” However, Namjoon and Yoongi were the only boys really in the family under the age of back problems and knee aches. Yoongi, being Namjoon’s sister’s husband, was new to the lack of men. Namjoon turned to look at Yoongi, and Yoongi didn’t look back but simply returned to his phone games. His attention redirected to the window: Being a man in this family doesn’t mean anything.

Jimin watched closely as Jin’s two masks slipped over his eyes and his nose and lips before everyone had even been seated on the plane. A large breath came out of the man through his nose, arms folded over his long torso and slumping. Jimin tried to follow, also relaxing his body in the seat. He closed one eye, then the other, and both of them were back open by the time the flight attendant’s voices rang across the plane.

“We will be leaving shortly. Please put on your seatbelts and the pilot will come on and talk about the flight. If you need assistance, the flight attendants will be walking around. Thank you.”

Jeongguk felt relief as he collapsed in his seat away from the other college students. He could hear their distant chit chat, recognize their voices, but he hoped he slumped low enough not to be seen. Jeongguk texted his mother and father and told them he was on the plane, then he texted his cousin a short response to the meme he sent him: LOL, then he posted something on Twitter, then he looked over his Spring Break homework. Whispers were heard to his left where a large man sat. There were three seats to the middle row of the plane, and he waited for the chatter to stop so he could focus back in on his phone. It only intensified as the man got out of his seat and disappeared somewhere. Expecting that to be it, Jeongguk couldn’t help but look over as a new person came to take his place.

Taehyung thanked the flight attendant before she walked away, giving a curt nod to the guy beside him, finger mid swipe as he stared the new man down. Taehyung was just glad to be out of first class.

“…and have a safe flight.”

Hoseok’s feet tapped the floor eagerly. He put his phone into airplane mode and checked out his itinerary one more time before looking down the aisles. He pulled out a pack of goldfish and tore it open. “Want some?” he asked, turning to the man next to him.

Jeongguk took the stranger’s offer and popped a handful of goldfish, nodding a thanks.

Taehyung was still preoccupied with his music.

Jin was awoken by the pilot’s voice, now all too aware of the man next to him. His eyebrows flinched as the man shuffled with the safety guides given as a courtesy to him, paying close attention to the “in case of an emergency” video. He felt bad for him.

The flight was halfway over.


Seatbelt sign came on.

The plane shook ever so gently and Jimin’s hands cradled—he found it to be cradling, but Jin saw it as suffocating—the armrest. Jin, in the meantime, paid no attention. “Thank you,” he said as the woman handed him four or more snacks and a coke. Watching him closely, seeing the ease on his face, Jimin turned to the woman and said, “Me too please.” Maybe eating would make him feel better.

Taehyung never grew tired of listening to music, so even as the playlist gradually went from rock to country to pop back to rock again, he still listened and hummed along with the tune.

Jeongguk found the humming annoying, although not as annoying as his college friends screaming, “Kookie!” at him while the whole rest of the plane tried to shut them up.

Hoseok collapsed back in his seat, relieved that nothing insane had happened since the seatbelt light came on while he was midway through relieving himself. He buckled back in and sighed, trying to see out the window to his right, but the man sitting there’s head was too far forward.

Namjoon’s head felt permanently bent forward as he leaned over his book, glasses on so he could see. He thought many a time about taking them off, leaning back, and relaxing, but the beer he had ordered for some reason disagreed with that notion.

Yoongi found that the beer he had ordered too seemed to go against the idea of relaxation, losing his third game of solitaire and still not wanting to quit.

No, Joon didn’t know what it was, he couldn’t tell for sure, but something was calling his attention…something out there. He looked up for the first time, oddly aware of the silence gripping him, the ear popping sensation clogging out the world. His head turned toward the window and he watched the water of the Indian ocean move…or rather the plane move over it. There was something down there that caught his eye; a land mass. It wasn’t a continent…no, it was much smaller.

An island, hiding away in this remote part of the ocean, being its own self.

Namjoon’s eyebrows furrowed.

It was different somehow…new.

It was…what they wanted.

The plane dropped suddenly and the plane fell into turmoil.

The breath left their seven mouths as if they were one, seven different butts—all different shapes and sizes—leaving their seat as the seatbelt did little to keep them put. The screaming and the jerking were hand in hand; for every scream a jerk.

Scream: Jerk.

Scream: Jerk.

Round and round until the lights went out and the windows shattered. The plastic mask on a rubber string dropped down and hopped up and then dropped down and then went up again, Jeongguk surprised at how something supposed to be life-saving could be so unstable at the same time. Jeongguk’s mask was on before Hoseok or Taehyung’s, allowing his head to turn to and fro to make sure they knew how to. It felt like the first time the three had really looked at each other. Jimin’s eyes were sewn shut, so the mask dangling before him was not seen. Jin didn’t wait to put his own mask on before forcing the mask onto Jimin’s face, catching him off guard. He breathed in deeply anyway, taking his shaking hand and pulling the strap over his head. Jin put his own mask on, feeling as if the shaky-hand syndrome had transferred over to him now. It wasn’t that Namjoon’s eyes were closed, it was that there was no mask for him to notice. He searched and searched, waiting for it to pop out, but none did. Yoongi was waiting, praying that he wouldn’t have to do what he did. He took off his own mask and placed it over Namjoon’s mouth, telling him to breathe. He did, although simultaneously trying to take it off so Yoongi could breathe himself. But looking down he noticed something worse than not being able to breathe, depending on if any of them were able to swim.

The ocean, yes, through a small crack in the airplane’s walls, Namjoon didn’t need the window to see it. His eyes went wide as the crack slithered up the wall like a snake, making its way to the window. Somehow, over the screams and hysteria, the jerking and irrational movements, six other passengers noticed that crack right away…and they paid attention to it. Jin looked over at his own window and saw his own crack just reaching the window’s glass, hearing now that rich crack sound that made humans cringe. Jeongguk, Taehyung, and Hoseok felt the floor beneath them crinkle and dip, their entire seating losing its foundation.

But only them, they noticed, only they could see it—

—Namjoon, Yoongi, Hoseok, Jeongguk, Taehyung, Jimin, and Jin all stared at each other—

—It was only happening to them.

The walls tore apart. Namjoon and Jin were the first to feel their bodies fly from the plane and into the open air. The jerk was violent, but the confusion of free-falling while still technically sitting down in their chairs was mortifying to Jin. Yoongi and Jimin went next, not taking much for their seats to give into the pull. Jeongguk, Hoseok, and Taehyung were the ones that were most baffled, feeling themselves shutter as the seats seemed to stumble and rumble. In a rash decision, Taehyung grabbed Jeongguk’s hand. He took the hint—realizing it would be worse for them to separate—and took Hoseok’s hand firmly. Muscles tensed, especially Jeongguk’s as Taehyung began to slip towards the hole in the left of the plane instead of the right. “Ah!” he shouted, pulling Taehyung back. Eventually, their fates took a hint and they all went flying out of the right hole of the plane, hands letting go once they were out. The seven swirled in the free air, their bodies and seats plummeting to the crisp, blue waters below. At a time like this, it looked crisp enough to cut and slice, crisp enough to kill.

“Unbuckle!” Jeongguk shouted over the wind, his face so tight it barely let him speak. Still, in the chaos, they heard, unbuckling themselves from the seat but still holding on. The seats would either sink or float, they hoped the latter.

They could still hear the plane above them, the screams coming from it. Namjoon had to wonder: Were they better off now?

The water was coming up fast, faster than they wanted, faster than they could handle, faster than—

They hit.

The wind was already cold, but the ocean made it so much colder. Taehyung felt the water stab at him viciously, like a mother forcing its newborn out of her womb. He was the newborn.

Jeongguk couldn’t get a good standing before the water hit, his body positioned above his chair so when he hit the water, his back bent over the chair before he sunk in. He heard the crack and unfortunately felt it after.

The seven of them gasped as they emerged from the water, Jin first and the others afterward. Jimin came last, clutching his chair like a lifeline.

They did float.

They flinched as the left wing of the plane crashed into the ocean, or rather scratched the surface before lying atop of it. It was then that they realized where they were.

The middle of the ocean.

Jin was the first to rip off the life vest from the bottom of his seat and work his way over to the fallen wing. The rest followed his example. Jin forced himself on top of the large, metal platform, collapsing on it with heavy, wet breaths. Namjoon came up second and helped the others up. Jeongguk tried to get up by himself, but struggled, feeling a tremor in his back that he had never felt before.

Damn, he thought, sliding delicately onto the wing.

They were all on, that was it, that was all they needed…but there was always more…because they had come from more.

So, of course, another BOOM! CRASH! CREAK! SCREAM! was heard, and of course, it came from up above. To some it must have looked like fireworks, for others like war; either way, there was an explosion that caught their attention.

The seven watched in stunned silence as the plane they were once resting comfortably on tore apart and exploded, pieces of luggage, metal, and bodies breaking apart again and again until it became nothing but multiple heaps of waste and exhaustion.

The silence came back much sooner than they were expecting, and what would happen next wasn’t clear.

Yoongi did well to fill this space.

The only screams they had heard were over excess noise or excess space, but Yoongi’s scream was up and close, it was personal. His eyes were fixed on the remaining falling bits of the plane, unsure which one his anger was focused on. Or was it anger? Guilt? Regret? It was all of these things, because the death of a loved one can cause all of these things.

Oh, Namjoon thought. Everyone, or mostly everyone, I’ve loved…has just died.

It was starting.


The seagulls hovered over their blue oasis, never daring to take a step in. They just watched it, like a piece of cake too decorative to consume, like a painting to exact to touch, like a flower too pretty to step on. But then a strip of white metal ruined that perfect oasis, and the seagulls didn’t avoid it because it was too perfect; they avoided it because the ruin was too much to bear.

And the pests running amuck inside weren’t helping either.

Namjoon’s feet burned on the white metal of the plane’s wing, blinking once as he adjusted to the sunlight again, his eyes having shut for longer than expected. The clouds were scarce, and everywhere the seven were vulnerable to sunlight.

Their backs ached, their skin burned, their clothes wet, their organs bit, their skin itched, their mouths dried, their expressions graved. Very little time had passed, but still, they were floating on nothing.

Namjoon sighed, bringing about the first noise that wasn’t sea creatures, birds, or wind. “Names?” They all understood what he was trying to say, but no one wanted to speak first. It made sense, he expected it even. No one wanted to be the first—the leader—in a situation like this: No one wants to be a hero.

“I’m Namjoon.” The others looked up at him with stale faces. “It’s nice to meet you guys.”

Yoongi scoffed, sitting near the edge of the wing, having contemplated sticking his foot in for ages. “Is it?” His tone was bitter. Yoongi turned around to face them. “I’m Yoongi.”

Seeing where this was going, Hoseok decided he would be the 3rd to answer. “I’m Hoseok…I’d tell you my last name but there’s no real reason for that.” He chuckled. “You might steal my identity for all I know.” Hoseok acted like he wanted to say more…but didn’t…or maybe he couldn’t.

“I’m Seokjin,” Seokjin said, sweating under his armpits but trying not to show it. He was trying to establish a good image for himself, even here. “You can call me Jin.”

“Why?” Yoongi posed.

Seokjin shrugged. “Believe it or not, every time I hear Seokjin I just think about the seven colleagues that just died who used to call me that.” He shrugged. “Go figure.”

“Jeon Jeongguk,” Jeongguk announced, head down as if he was thinking.

“Pretty young to be traveling alone,” Yoongi noted.

“Wasn’t alone, not that it matters my age,” he reassured. “All that matters now is if I’m smart enough to survive or not.” The other six looked at him curiously, unsure if it was an insult towards them.

Taehyung took one look at Jimin biting away at his long fingernails absent-mindedly and decided to go. “I’m Taehyung…that’s it.”

Now all eyes were on Jimin as he sat there, head down, fingers in mouth, frozen. “Park Jimin,” he answered in a whisper. His head went up and there was a sudden piercing when he made eye contact with them. It was a piercing that was somehow soft as it was violent. “Sorry to be a bother.”

“Where are you headed Jimin?” Hoseok asked, trying to sound friendly…if friendship was really a necessity now. Jimin shrugged. “I was going to Honolulu…I mean that’s where we were all going.”

“I mean why,” Hoseok clarified, or he thought it was clarifying, despite the complete change in question.

Jimin shrugged again. “I wanted to try something new.”

Namjoon cringed at that. And for this to be his first time, he thought, feeling like it was somehow his fault. Namjoon was about to ask Hoseok where he was headed when his eyes glided over Taehyung and stopped, seeing a new form of liquid running down his cheek. “Taehyung, what’s wrong?”

He didn’t mean to put him on the spot, but a quick reaction showed that Taehyung didn’t mind it. “I miss my family.” He blinked his tears away.

“Were you visiting them?” Seokjin asked, putting a hand on Taehyung’s back, surprising even himself.

“Yeah,” he admitted. “…I just wish they knew how much I cared before I—”

Namjoon took a hasty breath, wanting to stop Taehyung before—

—die. Before I die. Namjoon’s brain had already auto-typed it out.

Seokjin filled the space for him. “This was the longest I had ever been with anyone,” he realized aloud. “I wish I hadn’t left…I just wish I had something of hers…I wish I had her.”

Hoseok’s head went up and down in courtesy, seemingly stolid in his actual care…or perhaps absent with his own issues. “What about you, Namjoon?”

Namjoon glanced over at Yoongi, but Yoongi stayed silent. “Uh, family trip.”

“…Were they all—?” Seokjin didn’t finish before Namjoon nodded, showing that yes, most of his family was on that plane. He, again, side-glanced Yoongi, but he said and did nothing in response.

As the sky began its pinkish blue decent, the conversation changed.

“Everyone has their life vests, right?” Namjoon posed, looking around.

Jimin’s shy head popped up suddenly. “L-life vests?” He seemed flustered, breathing softly but irregular. “T-there were life vests?”

Seokjin blew up. “You watched the video!” His eyes were wide. “You’re the only person who’s ever done that, how did you miss the life vests?!”

Jeongguk looked at the seat still floating in the water, distant but there. His heart pounded, but he was never really good at listening to his heart. Taking a few steps back, Jin sensed it before it happened. But by the time he could reach Jeongguk, it was too late. He had jumped back into the ocean.

“Hey!” Namjoon called, his feet dangling off the edge. Hoseok’s hand landed on his arm, pulling him back.

“Two is not better than one, Joon,” Hoseok pointed out, shortening his name; Namjoon wasn’t sure if it was for Hoseok’s sake or his own.

Jeongguk’s muscles tightened in the cold of the ocean, a not-so-irrational fear of a shark gripping his toe and pulling him down evident as he swam toward the chair.

I’m okay, I’m okay, Jeongguk told himself.

“Now I get why his friends call him Kookie,” Jin muttered. “He’s an idiot.”

Jeongguk tore the life vest from the bottom of Jimin’s chair and turned back, gasping as something touched his foot.

They saw him freeze, nervous at his stillness. “Jeongguk!” Jimin shouted, swallowing to bring any moisture back to his mouth. “Jeongguk?”

And then he went all out.

Jeongguk swam only as fast as the shadow of a sea creature could swim right below him, the two in sync almost. Now they were all shouting his name, worry choking them.

Jeongguk could only reach the edge of the wing, but not before being dragged under.

Hoseok ended up being the fastest, reaching his hand into the blue pool and searching for anything to latch onto. He found it, feeling it start to pull him down. Joon grabbed Hoseok’s waist, trying to hold him steady, but the pull was stronger than either of them expected, causing Hoseok’s head to go under and Joon’s close behind. Yoongi, Jin, Jimin, and Taehyung were already at the edge waiting, but now they were in a panic. Hoseok felt the bubbles exploding on his face in the busy water, his only assumption that they were the result of Jeongguk’s screams. He wanted to scream too.

Jeongguk was trying not to slip from Hoseok’s grip, but the mouth clasped on his leg was strong, too strong. For the first time in so long, he was not strong enough.

“Agh, I’m still wet!” Joon said, wishing that friction did a better job holding him. Taehyung, Jin, and Yoongi were ready to grab him—help him—but Jimin pushed them back. He was still shaking it seemed, eyes wide, shocked. But that didn’t stop him from taking Joon’s waist in his small hands…and overpowering him.

Yoongi’s eyes went wide and Taehyung’s jaw dropped as Jimin grunted, hoisting Joon entirely off the metal platform and into the air, taking two steps backward. Jin watched Jimin’s arms bulge, veins show, neck and calves thicken as friction appeared to work perfectly for him. Hoseok’s head came out of the water and soon so did Jeongguk.

Yoongi fumbled to get the pocketknife—one he had been carrying for a while now—out of his pocket and into his hand, already too late by the time Jeongguk’s voice could be heard. It was here that Hoseok realized Jeongguk’s air bubbles were not screams, but words…and those words were:

“It’s not a shark!”

Yoongi’s knife fell from his hands and Jimin’s whole body collapsed as the gray whale surfaced, flying up far above Jeongguk and the wing itself. A shadow came upon them suddenly, engulfing their world as drops of salt water pummeled their shocked faces and the large, gray, rubbery beast bent its body over their wing.

The whale crashed back into the ocean soon after on the other side, disappearing and silencing itself from their existence.

Their breaths were heavy and evident in the sudden push of waves, feeling uneasy and sick—all of them. Conversation seized from that point on…no one had anything left to say.


         The sky was completely dark now, no light but the moon to suffice them. They were good at recognizing shapes, and they had gotten very acquainted with recognizing each other’s. Before the sky had fully darkened, they worked hard to try and catch passing fish, only getting a sum total of three before night fell. Most slipped from their grasps or would flop back into the ocean before they were killed. Still, they shared the food and ate plentifully. Now they all sat or laid scattered around the wing, mostly silent and unaware of one another.

Jeongguk stretched his sore back, taking the risk of rubbing it in public. His hand stopped once he heard the patterned feet hustling over to him. Taehyung lowered, sitting crisscrossed next to Jeongguk. He sighed as he sat, handing the younger member a leftover piece of fish. “Here you go.”

“…Why?” Jeongguk asked, taking it gladly.

Taehyung said, “I don’t usually get that hungry…and I ate a lot on the plane. Have it.” Jeongguk nodded his way, smiling as he ate the raw fish. “You’re a lot stronger than I would have imagined.”

Jeongguk smiled, but this time brighter…not that Taehyung could see it. “Can I…ask you for a favor?”


Jeongguk winced as Taehyung lifted up his shirt, Taehyung wincing as well as if he felt his pain. “Okay, I’m going in.” With just a light touch of Jeongguk’s back, Jeongguk sucked in air. “I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re fine. Your hands are just cold,” Jeongguk assured, pressing him to keep going. Taehyung did, running his hand over his new friend’s back carefully. He did feel what Jeongguk had feared: Soft skin; bruising. “It’s not…great,” the older man finally said, letting Jeongguk’s shirt fall.

“I figured,” he admitted, sitting up straight. He sighed, leaning back and staring up at the stars. “At least it’s nice out.” Taehyung looked up as well and nodded. Jeongguk smiled at the spots of light in the vastly dark dome above him. “At least it’s nice.”

As Taehyung and Jeongguk spoke, Namjoon made his way over to Yoongi. He had no idea what to say, how to act, what to do in this situation. He had never imagined anything like this could have happened, especially not to him and Yoongi…together.

Despite Yoongi’s aging fears of the open ocean coming to fruit with Jeongguk’s incident, the skin around his pale feet froze in the black water, swishing back and forth.

Maybe the danger was what intrigued him, or perhaps just the feeling, any feeling, that wasn’t the feeling he felt now.

The numbing only lasted for so long before the one person that could bring the sharp pain back took a seat beside him. The differences between them were so evident that it hurt: Yoongi’s feet were in the water, Namjoon’s were tucked beneath him, Yoongi was slumped, Namjoon was like a stick, Yoongi’s hair shagged, Namjoon’s sat on the left side of his head….it was clear that they were not even close to the same.

Neither said anything to the other, what was there to say? They had never been close before she was alive, so surely they were even farther now that she was dead. Still, it was a hard thing to accept, to recognize even as what could be hatred.

Namjoon continued saying nothing as his hand reached over, finding its way to Yoongi’s. It wasn’t anything overbearing, just a cover, a shield, blocking out the things that could hurt Yoongi.

That’s how Namjoon saw his hand, but Yoongi saw it as a fire, a building collapsing on itself, onto his hand. He didn’t want it. Yoongi’s jaw tightened as he tore his hand away, getting up and leaving before Namjoon could see him cry.

Namjoon’s hand was still there, feeling empty and vacant. He didn’t move it, he was afraid where it would go if he did, he was afraid his body would follow.

But a new sensation replaced the old one, a new hand came in its place. Namjoon looked over at Hoseok, mouth ajar as the once cheery individual sat silently next to him, hand gripping his in a firm sentiment. Hoseok took his time before looking back at Namjoon, seeing the tears welling up in his eyes and saying, “Your whole family, huh?”

Namjoon’s grip tightened on Hoseok’s hand, turning his head as he wiped the snot away. His head was throbbing now, his stomach heaving as hormones flushed in and real tears came out. He hated this feeling, this feeling of weakness, sadness when his body was against him. He was against him. He was just…alone.

Namjoon never wanted to feel this way again.

His hand slipped from Hoseok’s, standing up. “Can you guys all come here.”

Seokjin leaned up from his sitting position and nudged Jimin, although Jimin was already awake. Taehyung and Jeongguk made their way over and, despite how he felt, Yoongi came as well. Once they were all in front of him, he spoke:

“Hoseok said, ‘Where are you going’ earlier…not where were you going.” It was quiet. “He said it twice.” Namjoon faced him. “Please…I don’t want you to have to feel…empty like that.” Hoseok looked up at him as if he had been betrayed; his eyes were wide and…different. They weren’t happy, they were dreadful. Namjoon looked away quickly and turned to Jeongguk. “Jeongguk, you’ve been wincing every time you get up or sit down. You hurt your back in the fall.” The youngest among them was paying attention now. “I was a chiropractor, I know…I know I don’t want you to hurt yourself again.” He turned again to Taehyung now who seemed to be waiting patiently for what he had to say. “Taehyung…I don’t want your family to forget you.” Heads turned to Seokjin. “And Seokjin I don’t want you to forget your girlfriend.” They both looked hopeful with Namjoon’s words, as if he had the power to actually change these things. “Jimin,” Eyes focused on the vein-bulging, soft-skinned man sitting neatly before him. “…I don’t want you to be scared…because I know you are and you shouldn’t be.” Yoongi knew what was coming, looking up and speaking before Namjoon could. “And I—”

“—Shut up,” Namjoon spoke sharply, throwing Yoongi off. Silence followed, surprising Yoongi’s brother-in-law in his complacency. “…Your wife died.” Namjoon looked empathetic. “And I don’t want you to feel sad…and angry.”

But Namjoon wasn’t done. “And Namjoon,” He addressed himself. “…Please don’t blame yourself.”

Namjoon’s mouth stretched, but now with a smile, or rather a look of agony. He clutched his stomach and bent down, knees banging against the metal. His head was bowed, he looked weak, but his words said otherwise. “I’ll take care of you guys…I promise.”



Namjoon pointed his arm out the next morning, sun brightening up his unwashed face and paper skin. Between the starvation, fear, pain, and lack of hygiene, that strip of land looked like the holy grail to him. Namjoon remembered this island, it was the one he saw through the airplane’s window. It had looked so much closer then, but they were only seeing it now. It looked bigger from his current view, more shapely and alive. The others looked on with equal hope—they could find salvation there.

Yoongi looked over at Hoseok as he looked off at the island, glowing in the light. He saw him comfort Namjoon yesterday. The energy coming off of him made Yoongi more or less uncomfortable…in the most comfortable way. He wasn’t sure how he felt about him yet, he just felt there was something more there.

“Is your back okay?” Taehyung asked, rubbing the spine of Jeongguk’s skin. He just nodded in response, tense at the touch. Kinship was something he wasn’t sure he could afford on the island.

Jimin looked over at Taehyung in awe, wondering about him. It was something he found himself doing often, but back then he actually had the confidence to come forward, engage in conversation as people do. But not now, not with these people. Something in him had changed, shifted: Vulnerability. Sure, it was always there, always suppressed, but he could feel it emerging now. Jimin stood up…and walked over to Namjoon. He didn’t say anything, just hovered over the man, the only one there, that he thought he could overpower.

Seokjin came up to Namjoon, the two of them staring off into the distance at the strip of land. “What do you think it’s like there?” Seokjin asked.

Namjoon smiled. “Warm; safe.”

Seokjin seemed surprised by his answer accompanied by the silly grin plastered on his face. “It’s an island,” the older man said to him. “Not a home.”

“You never know.” Seokjin and Namjoon looked over as Jeongguk approached, forcing himself into the conversation. “We could make it that way.” Namjoon nodded at that, Seokjin showcasing the opposite effect with a roll of his eyes.

“I doubt it,” Yoongi said, walking up beside Hoseok.

“I don’t,” Hoseok refuted, smiling brightly as he did.

“I’m impartial.” They all looked at Jimin and Taehyung, speaking in tune. Jimin smiled silently as Taehyung looked on.

“Well…” Namjoon pouted. “Maybe not yet but…” He nodded. “We could make it that way…once we establish a few house rules.”

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