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House: Get Out!
Joon stared longingly at the kitchen, a monster inside of it waiting to consume him as soon as he took a step inside. Joon gulped like a cliché school girl staring at her crush from around the corner, trying to work up the courage to talk to him. The newly installed silver sink and automatic faucet that Jin went about getting was like he wanted it to be hard for Joon to cook. It was quiet this early in the morning, believe it or not. The others slept in usually on Sundays, and he would be sleeping with them—in the room upstairs where him and Jimin shared a room—but there were rules now…rules he made.
He was already starting to regret making them.
“You can do this,” the man told himself, taking a hasty step from around the still tackily attached wall that isolated their front door from the living room. From then on, after he tip-toed past the long, light brown wooden table they had also put in, it was a straight shot to the refrigerator. Joon straightened himself out and nodded, trying to believe in himself.
The flour tipped over and Joon caught it, unfortunately, he caught it after it spilled all over his bare foot. “Dammit.” He reached down to dust the powder off and in those few moments of inattention, he heard the frypan hiss in a way that sounded more like a poisonous snake than sizzling oil. His head jutted up from below the counter, watching as his bacon drowned in its own fat. This, he found puzzling, as the pan burned and the air filled with smoke…yet the bacon remained pink and uncooked.
He turned off the stove and put the pot on a different burner so it could cool down, hopping over to his other station of pancake-making. “Uh…” The sounds coming out of his mouth had progressed from self-encouragement to strangled confusion. He reached his hand down into the plastic bowl and got the whole wad of dough into his grip, holding it up to the light. The fact that he could even do this with what he thought was just flour and water, was a bad sign. “This looks like a bread loaf,” he muttered to himself. Disappointing himself again, Joon turned on his heels to throw it all away, encountering an ominous figure mid-spin. He froze, eyes widening and mouth pouting as he saw this shadow in full.
Jin, Hobi, and Kookie were sharing the room downstairs seeing as it was the biggest one. Luckily, Jin was the only one awoken by his unsuccessful crusade in the kitchen. He was in blue pajamas, black hair sticking up in weird directions and eyes droopy. Joon couldn’t tell what parts of it were him being a lawyer and what parts were just simple fatigue.
“Wh—Hey!” Joon yell-whispered, some watery flour running down his arm as he held the blob. Jin’s eyebrows curled, a look of disgust on his face. He pointed.
“Tell me that is not supposed to be a pancake.” When Joon didn’t answer, Jin sighed and went back to his room. Assuming that was it, Joon hustled to the trashcan and plopped the blob inside, sighing in defeat. Jin came back out soon after, a phone pressed to his ear. “Who are you—?”
Jin put his hand up to stop Joon from talking without even looking at him. A moment later, someone picked up. “Hello, is this Frontier Diner?”
“Dude, why didn’t you just order-in in the first place?” Yoongi reached her hand out and took another piece of bacon from the plastic white container, looking up at Joon still scrubbing madly at the pan he burned. He turned around to glare at Yoongi from across the island. All seven of them—except Joon who was cleaning dishes—sat at the table in the area more or less blocking at least half of the front door and ate Jin’s ordered breakfast: Pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns, sausage, and mixed fruit.
“Because literally Rule #1 says Sunday is my day to cook breakfast,” Joon clarified. “Cook, not order.”
“Well I guess that will have to change then,” Yoongi muttered, taking four more slices of bacon before Jin slapped her hand and told her to stop.
“I didn’t even notice you got up this morning,” Jimin admitted, his plate littered with fruits. As Jin reached for a pancake, Kookie grabbed the one on top—his fourth—and Jin slapped it out of his hand.
“That’s because you work crazy hours, every day, and don’t rest, ever,” Hobi clarified, grabbing his empty plate and leaving the table. He went over to Joon at the sink and washed his plate on one of the two sides.
“That’s the life of a firefighter,” Jimin muttered, seemingly still half asleep.
“I know he means it in a serious way, but it just sounds so pretentious when he says it,” Hobi whispered to Joon, who laughed.
“On a different topic, can you help me with something today?” Joon asked, turning to look at Hobi. Hobi, beanie already on inside the house, nodded. “With what?”
“What do you think?” Joon glanced over at the one part of the house that wasn’t the way they had all envisioned. “That stupid freaking wall!” he hissed. The wall separating their living room from their front area still stood tall, a fading face in a crowd of friends—unfamiliar, but there.
“Yoongi still wants it,” Hobi presumed. “I can talk to her if you want?”
Joon shook his head, turning the faucet off with just a touch to the metal. “Nah, I already got someone to come over and demolish it today.” He turned fully to Hobi now, leaning on the counter. “What I need now is to make sure she doesn’t notice.”
Hobi’s eyes shifted. “Not notice…the wall missing?”
“Exactly,” Joon said, winking at his clever idea and then walking away. Hobi, like most of Joon’s ideas, just went with it. They walked around the island and back to the table. Joon hadn’t eaten anything yet, but he was seeing the food was mostly gone. Joon looked dumbfoundedly at Kookie’s packed plate. “Jeongguk,” Joon scolded, Kookie knowing when Joon called him by his real name, it wouldn’t be for a good reason. Kookie looked up suddenly, mouth full. In a quick movement, he put a pancake and half an egg onto Jimin’s fruit covered plate, gently surprising Jimin. Joon just nodded and received Jin’s extended fist bump.
“Hobi, you want a ride to your editor?” Jin asked, realizing he had the car since Joon didn’t need it today. The mention of his editor left a very unsettling feeling in Hobi, one that he had been trying to avoid ever since he stopped writing…once they moved in. He just shook his head, looking paler. Jin nodded reluctantly, Kookie watching Hobi closely. “Anyone else need a ride?”
“I am an independent adult,” Kookie announced—as if he didn’t make that clear every day—and got up from the table with his plate.
“Jimin and I are walking to his job, and I don’t have anything to do today so…” Tae shrugged, eating heartedly, but still not as much as Kookie.
Kookie turned to Tae from within the kitchen. “I asked you to come to school with me yesterday!” he complained.
Jimin chuckled, eating some of the egg Kookie forfeited. He looked down, spotting a small creature, and scooped it up. Tae held up his hand. “No, you asked me to get you out of class. Education is important.”
“Says the high school drop-out,” Kookie counters with, tilting his head.
Tae rolled his eyes. “And look how I turned out. You’ll thank me later.”
“He’s right,” Jimin said, stroking Kookie’s toad…named Toad. “Toad thinks so too.” Toad hopped onto the island, to Jin’s great displeasure, and into Kookie’s hand.
“Speaking of weird-ass animals,” Joon said, turning on his heel. “I’m gonna go make sure Juggy the dog hasn’t eaten Horse the snake.” Joon hustled upstairs, Jimin on his tail after he put his dishes in the dishwasher.
“Hey, Kookie,” Jin said, catching his attention. He looked up. “The next time Toad lands on my counter, he’s gonna be part of breakfast, got it?”
Kookie scoffed. “Whatever old man.” Jin’s mouth fell open as his roommate walked back into their room without another word. Tae, Yoongi, and Hobi just laughed at him, finally all of them getting up from the table and hustling.
Joon cringed as Juggy’s wet tongue made contact with his face. “Mm, lovely,” was his response to it. “Now open and let me see those pearly whites.” Joon opened Juggy’s large mouth, checking for snake bits. “Okay, looks good.” He closed it and rubbed her head. “I’m proud that you’ve held out for this long.”
Jimin’s soft feet still managed to startle Joon as he appeared behind him, although the real shock came when he collapsed onto his back and weighed Joon down. “I’m so tired Namjoonieeeeee!”
“Then don’t go to work, Jimiiiiiiiin,” Joon responded, standing up as Jimin latched on.
“I have to make money though.”
“You have enough money.”
“But I could also have more money.”
Joon grabbed Jimin—Jimin’s cat—from off his nightstand and put her on the floor. “You should really sleep more.”
“You’re starting to sound like Tae.”
Joon maneuvered himself away from Jimin and looked him in the eye. “Tae’s not the only one that cares about you, he’s just the one that vocalizes it more.”
Kookie looked up intimidatingly.
Yes, with intimidation, he looked.
Kookie hadn’t felt this intimidated since…he couldn’t even remember when. When it came to things that would terrify the average person, to Kookie, he faced it head-on. That was the only way he could see it without freaking out. But now, seeing this large and overwhelming college building that he had been in and out of hundreds of times it seemed, he was freaking out. Kookie looked at his watch; his class was about to start.
He turned and ran away.
Yoongi’s corgi trotted with his tongue out, looking in awe at the world around him as Yoongi sulked into herself. Jimin saw this and nudged her with his shoulder, cradling Jimin in his hands. “Cheer up,” he said as if it were that easy. “It’s a beautiful day.” Jimin closed his eyes and breathed in, taking in that fresh air and sunlight. Tae did the same, but breathed in even harder, his exhale more like a scream. Jimin laughed at him as he spun around, taking in the world in a slight mockery of a way.
Yoongi rolled her eyes at them, tugging on PipPip’s leash so he would hurry up. “You guys are weird.”
Jimin turned to her. “Well, you were weird once.”
Yoongi nodded. “Yeah, I like to call those times the Symptoms of Hell.”
Tae smiled. “Doesn’t mean you can’t be weird in a new way,” he offered.
“Or in your case, all the ways,” she countered. “Aha-ha, so funny,” Tae mocked, Yoongi mocking him right back. She smiled slightly.
Hobi picked up Horse, the creature slithering around his neck as he waved goodbye to the demolishers—or at least that’s what Hobi was calling them. As they left, Joon came running down the stairs and gasped, looking straight at Hobi. “I can see your face,” he pointed out, walking forward. “There’s no wall there, I can see the kitchen, and your brown hair.” Joon started touching Horse’s snake and Hobi’s hair once he was close enough, relieved.
“I will say,” Hobi agreed, looking at the new space created in the house. It allowed more light to collide from the kitchen, the door, and the living room. The light mixed and swam in the air; it brightened it all up. “It is so much better.” Joon felt the ‘but’ coming but tried to pretend it wasn’t. “But how are we planning on hiding this from Yoongi?”
Joon sighed, hands on his hips. “Time to rearrange some stuff.”
Jin cleared his throat, pacing back and forth in his office. Two women and their 2-month old baby sat in one of their laps stared up at him with wide and hopeful eyes. “Okay, so this is going to be a tough case,” he admitted. “Gloria, despite all the evidence pointing to you, you’re telling me that the gun found in your car was not yours.” The women holding the baby just nodded. “Okay, then I believe you, but the court may not. This might not even make it to court, so you’re going to have to tell me something, anything, that can help me help you.” Jin looked from one woman to the other, and they looked at each other. Gloria’s lips parted as she was about to speak:
Jin stood still, leaning over his desk in confusion. “Uh…w-what?” Gloria looked at her wife, but this time with a more upset expression. She turned back to Jin, her body language seeming to shift to a comfortable setting. When she spoke next, Jin could understand why.
“They don’t speak English!” Jin fell back in a padded chair, exasperated. JJ just laughed at him, texting someone on her phone in her own office. “How did I not catch that?”
“Honestly, your mishaps still surprise me.” She turned to him. “I thought you said you were bilingual?”
“Yes, and I forgot everything I learned in college by the time I even applied here.”
JJ’s eyebrows furrowed. “You never, like studied abroad or anything like that?” Jin shook his head. “Dude you suck.”
Sadly, Jin agreed. “What am I gonna do?” Right then, Jin’s phone ringed. JJ groaned. “Tell me it’s not her.” JJ didn’t even offer the decency to address Ebony by name.
Jin shook his head. “Nah, we broke up like a week ago when I told her I was moving in with six of my friends.”
“Oh yeah,” JJ had forgotten about the odd situation. “How’s that going?” Jin checked the name and looked up at her, his look telling her he was about to find out. “Hey Kookie.”
Kookie sat on a bench outside his old college dorms, looking antsy as he bit his nails. “Can you pick me up?”
“Don’t you have class?”
“I skipped.” Before the lawyer could argue, he went on. “Please, Jin. Tae already said no, Jimin has to work, Yoongi left without her bike, and Hobi and Joon aren’t answering. Please, I can’t sit here anymore.” Kookie sounded desperate.
“What happened to being independent?” Despite the concern in his voice, Jin tried to stay impartial. Kookie groaned into the phone. “I’m not, okay!? Please Jin, I just want a ride home.”
Jin would think it over, about to say just that, when he hesitated. “Kook, you know Spanish, right?”
There was brief silence before he answered. “Well, yeah, and German and Korean is—”
“Shut up, not important.” Jin turned to JJ with a gloat-covered expression. “Okay, I’ll pick you up.”
The station was buzzing like a swarm of bees chasing someone down downtown New York. People were rushing out on emergency calls and rushing from them, stress showing on their faces. Others lingered around, sitting in the lounge, half dressed, waiting for their turn to help whichever and whatever they could, as was their job. But the buzzing stopped when the doors burst open, a hooded figure standing there in the early morning sun. His hands were stuffed ominously in his pockets, body turned to the sides and facial expression daring. People looked toward the streak of sun—like the yellow brick road—leading up to the stranger. Assuming the terror was over, the team was petrified in the realization that he was holding the door open for another hooded figure, this one’s hair longer and demeanor even more hostile. One of the women found themselves rising in her seat as the other hooded person held open the other door, both of them holding it for a new, mysterious third member…and they were all holding their breath to see who it would be.
Jimin let out a breath as he stopped in his fire station’s doorway, PipPip’s leash and Jimin in each hand. “Sorry, I had to tie my shoe.”
The room let out a collective breath, the tension fading as they saw Jimin standing there. Yoongi took PipPip’s leash back and Jimin handed Jimin the Cat over to Tae. “I’ll pick you up after work,” Tae said and Jimin waved goodbye as he disappeared around the corner.
Tae and Yoongi turned around and let the doors close behind them, falling back into step of the bustling world amongst. “Where will you go?” Yoongi asked, reaching down and scooping PipPip up. Tae shrugged. “Probably downtown, just wandering around.” He let Jimin go and she paused for a moment before running across the street and pausing again. “Or maybe I’ll follow Jimin.” He smiled at the cat and waved like she was a lost friend. Yoongi looked at Jimin slowly getting farther away. “Should you…let her wander off like that?”
Tae turned to Yoongi. “She’ll come back if she wants to be fed. No worries.” Yoongi would argue, but she didn’t have the energy to argue with Tae anymore. “Okay, well I’m going home.”
“Ah!” Tae turned to her again, and every time he took his eyes off of Jimin she felt nervous. “Tell Hobi that the monkey with the red shirt and glasses isn’t a Star Wars fan, he just wanted to be an astronaut.” The woman’s expression was blank, nothing specifically haughty or confused about it. Tae further explained, “He’ll get what I mean.”
Yoongi just sighed and turned in the other direction. “So weird,” she muttered, purposely so he would hear.
“But in a good way, right?!” Tae called after her and laughed at himself as he hustled after the slowly fading cat.
Joon grunted as he moved the couch for the umpteenth time, turning again to Hobi across the room for approval. He went “hmm,” which was never a good sign. Joon rolled his eyes so far back when Hobi said “Okay, it’s almost exactly in the middle, but you’re like a fourth of a centimeter off.” that he swore he could see his brain.
“Hobi, I don’t know what that means.”
“…You don’t know the metric system—?”
“No! Hobi, I don’t know how far a fourth of a stupid centimeter is!”
“Just—move it and I’ll tell you when to stop,” Hobi said, waving his comments off. Joon shut his eyes and took a breath. They had repositioned everything else in the house, shifting it over towards the door to fill the gap left by the wall. Both friends knew how inattentive Yoongi could be, so they hoped with a slight shift of everything, she just wouldn’t realize what was not missed. Joon sucked it up and moved the couch in one sharp burst, barely missing Hobi’s shout for him to stop. “Okay well, now you’ve moved it too far.”
Juggy trotted down the stairs, barked, and jumped onto the couch. “Oh my—I’m done.” Joon gave up, also collapsing onto the couch.
Hobi sighed. “Okay, it was in the middle of the room to begin with, right?” Joon just nodded half-heartedly. “So let’s just push it all the way to the side, measure the room without the wall, find the midpoint, measure the couch, find its midpoint, and line up the two midpoints, okay?” As over-complicated as it seemed and was, Joon had to admit, “That’s pretty smart.” He got off the couch, shooing the big Mastiff off of it. “God, you are so good with measurements.”
Hobi shrugged, helping Joon move the deep crimson sofa couch. “Curse of an artist.”
“An artist and a writer,” Joon stated, standing up straight once the couch was in place.
Hobi’s nose twitched upwards, his shoulders moving up and then down as he went into the kitchen. “Nah, just an artist…according to my editor.” He grabbed the tape measure from one of the drawers.
Joon, sensing the conversation’s motives switch, felt uneasy but asked anyway. “How’s it going with her?”
Hobi tossed Joon the tape and he caught it. “It would be great if my editor actually edited.” He sighed. “It would also be great if I wasn’t such a terrible writer…”
“Come on Hobimy, don’t say that.” Joon offered the tape to Hobi and he took it, walking across the room; the tape stretched with him.
“No man, I’m serious she…” He shook his head. “She hates it. She said not to come back until I got better.” Hobi looked down at the tape and muttered. “17.4 feet.” Hobi let the tap go and Joon scared himself as it slapped back into its skinny slot like a tongue to a mouth. “Hobi, that’s…crazy. You don’t write badly at all, I’ve read your stuff.”
“Yes, but are you a professional editor?” Joon had nothing to say to that, and Hobi knew it. The artist walked over and grabbed the end of the tape again, this time walking to the edge of the couch. “I just want to do better, Joon. You’re a great writer, you got like all As in English class I just…I just want that.”
Joon contemplated. “What’s your editor’s name again?”
As soon as Kookie shut the door to the minivan, Jin sped off with him inside. “What’s the rush?” Putting on his seatbelt, Kookie turned around and looked behind them. “Isn’t home the other way?”
“I need you to do me a favor first,” Jin admitted, focusing on the road.
“Ugh,” Kookie groaned, slouching profoundly in his seat. He put his foot on the dashboard. “But what if I don’t want to.”
“You think I wanted to drive—” Jin grabbed the shoe on the foot Kookie was relaxing on Jin’s dashboard and threw it in the backseat. “—your ass home? No, it’s called compromise. You want to go home, you help me.”
“Why’d you throw my shoe?”
“Don’t make me turn this car around!”
Kookie was silent from then on until Jin pulled into his work place’s parking lot, to which Kookie asked, “Why are we at your job?”
“Do you ever shut up?” Jin responded, unbuckling himself and then Kookie before getting out of the car. Kookie rolled his eyes again before getting out as well, struggling to catch up with Jin as he jogged inside. Making their way through the many offices and open spaces, Jin made it to his own office and opened the door, surprising Kookie when he saw the two women and the baby sitting inside.
“How long have they been waiting here?” Kookie asked.
“Don’t worry about it, just…” Jin shoved Kookie inside and raised his hands. “…speak.”
“Uh…” Kookie thought for a moment, mustering up enough words. The two women awaited the man’s speech, his tongue, waited to understand something. Jin awaited Kookie’s skills. Kookie said, “I have always been a stickler for Hawaiian pizza. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about it, but the balance of sweet and salty really does it for me.”
The two women turned to look at each other, still bewildered. Jin, fingers clenching after Kookie’s short monologue, shouted, at him: “IN. SPANISH.”
Kookie turned to him, mouth ajar. “Oh.”
The young man looked at the women and repeated his entire monologue again, this time in Spanish. Gloria responded to him in the same tongue, telling him that she couldn’t stand it, her wife then saying that she hated pizza altogether. “Okay, this just feels irrelevant,” Jin intervened, stepping forward. “Ask what she was trying to tell me before about the…the…the uhm, fish a-and Richard.” Kookie just nodded and translated, Gloria’s face brightening. A string of Spanish escaped her lips and Kookie just nodded along.
“Richard, sí?” Kookie asked.
“Ah! Sí!” Gloria responded, shushing her child as she began to cry.
“Right, okay.” Kookie turned to an impatiently waiting Jin. “She said a man named Richard that she met at this Fish shop downtown tried to get her to carry over some package to her part of town and get paid for it. She said no, but he wouldn’t stop calling her after that, and eventually, she called the cops on him and they found a bunch of illegal stuff he was doing on the side, so he was put away for a while. She thinks he’s the one that planted the gun somehow, and she knows where to find some of his friends.”
“She wrote it down on that napkin while you were gone.” Kookie pointed to the crunched-up paper in her hand.
“Ah, you’re a genius Kook!” Jin hugged him and Kookie smiled. “Yes, yes I know,” he responded. “Just a natural talent I guess.”
Jin let go. “Didn’t Joon teach you?”
“That’s not important. Let’s go get food!”
After settling things with his client, Jin drove Kookie to the nearest pizza place and they ordered a full Hawaiian pizza. Opposite of each other in the booth, Kookie started talking. “Honestly, it is so weird. When I first saw pineapple on pizza I was like no, I’m not about that. But then I tasted it and honestly, what would my life be like without it? The answer: Worse.” Kookie took a hungry bite and Jin grunted in agreement, already on his second slice. If there was one thing Jin and Kookie could vastly agree on, it was food.
“Mm,” Kookie muttered as his phone rang. He reached into his pocket to pick it up, eyes widening as he saw who it was. Kookie let all of the food fall out of his mouth as he saw who was calling, clearing his throat for speech. “It’s Joon.”
Jin swallowed before saying, “Pretend I’m not here.”
Kookie nodded and picked up the phone. “Hey Joon, what’s up.”
Joon was sitting on the newly moved couch, his glasses on and his laptop placed on his lap. He glanced through the curtains behind him at Hobi playing with Juggy out in the yard. “Hey, does the name Alicia Fasher sound familiar to you?”
Kookie’s eyebrows furrowed. “Uh, in a weird way yes. Why?”
Joon ignored Horse as she slithered around his neck. “I’m looking at her Facebook right now and I swear I know her from somewhere. You’re really good with names and faces, I thought you might know.”
“Can you send me a picture?”
As Joon sent a picture Kookie’s way, he moved the microphone away from his mouth and asked Jin, “Does the name Alicia Fasher sound familiar?”
Jin’s eyes squinted and he thought. “No, not really.”
“I sent it.”
Kookie said thanks to Joon and gave the picture a look. Immediately, he knew who it was. Kookie showed the picture to Jin—who also immediately knew who it was—before putting the phone back to his ear. “Yeah, I know exactly who that is.”
Joon perked up. “Do you?”
“Yeah, remember that girl in our Student Government back in High School?”
“The meeting’s about to start,” Joon said to Jin, and he nodded solemnly. Kookie sat on top of the desk, stretching his neck. Jin was jittery. He looked over at Alicia next to him, taking a nap in her seat and went, “Psst!” She woke up immediately and turned to him with a cold glare. “You think I have time to go to the bathroom before the meeting starts?”
She just stared back at him blankly. “Do I look like a clock?”
With that response, Jin turned back to the front and stayed silent.
“Okay everyone!” Joon made himself known at the front of the classroom. “Jeongguk, if you would.” Kookie hopped off the desk and joined Joon at the front. “As President and Vice President, we asked to hear from you guys on events for this year. We’ve got a few ideas racked up so if you hear one that you really like, vote on it. You can vote as much as you want.”
Kookie nodded, walking over to the whiteboard and pointing to the first event. “Snow day, where we all go outside and play in the snow given it snows…ever. Raise of hands.” Hands rose up and Kookie counted. “Okay, next one. Carnival day, gonna cost hella money but sounds fun. Hands?” Fewer hands rose for that one. “Alright, teacher appreciation day, if you keep your hand down you hate your teachers. Hands anyone?” Everyone raised their hand. “Mm, I thought so.” Before Kookie could go on, Joon stopped him. “Uh, Ali,” He addressed the girl Jin had woken up. “You haven’t raised your hand for anything yet. Is everything okay?”
She sighed. “All of these events are lame.”
“Well, there’s got to be something on the board you’ll like.” Kookie wanted to just move on, but he knew how Joon was with “including everyone.”
She sighed again, stretching her neck to see the board and coming back to eye contact with Joon with, “Nah, they all suck.”
There were a few whispers in the background. “Well is there an event that you have in mind?”
She shook her head.
“Nothing? At all?”
She shook her head.
“Then why are you here?” Kookie piped in, agitated.
She turned her head and smiled. “Gotta get colleges to look at me somehow, right?”
“Oh my God, Ali?” Joon realized. “Her real name’s Alicia?”
“Oh my God I hated her,” Jin said, catching both of them off guard. Joon stood at attention. “Is that Jin?”
“Uh…yeah,” Kookie admitted. “He picked me up after class for a meal.”
Joon checked his watch. “Huh, short class. Anyway, put me on speaker then.” Kookie did as he was told. “Jin, you remember her, right?”
“Of course! She was always so mean to me!” Jin answered. “When I gave her a card and a cookie on Valentine’s Day, she said she hated cookies and Valentine’s Day and me, like who says that?”
“She literally hated everything,” Kookie added. “God, you could never please her.” He went for another slice. “Anyway, why do you ask?”
Joon rubbed his temple and sighed. “She’s Hobi’s editor.”
And as if being summoned, Hobi burst through the front door, startling Joon as he shut his computer violently. “Hey Hobi! What’s up!” he shouted into the phone before abruptly hanging up. Kookie—understanding why Joon left—put his phone down and thought. “Hobi doesn’t know Alicia because he transferred in after she left the school. If she’s his editor…she won’t like anything Hobi writes.”
“Yeah, but Hobi would never admit that,” Jin realized. “Okay,” he said, standing up and pulling cash out of his pocket. “Wrap the rest of the slices in napkins and let’s go.”
“Yoongi’s coming down the street!” Hobi announced, slamming the door before opening it again to let Juggy inside.
“Wait!” Joon exclaimed, flipping his laptop over and rushing towards the door. “She might hear it slam, shut it softly.” Joon placed his hand on the doorknob and Hobi covered it with his own, both men moving so slowly it was hard to believe they were moving at all. The door inched closed, somehow in the midst Hobi and Joon sliding onto the floor as they tried to remain silent. In a heap of limbs and body parts, they stared up at the knob and pressed their body weight into the door so it would shut. Once it clicked, Hobi locked the door and they scrambled over to the couch. Joon landed first, Hobi on top of him before they repositioned themselves to make it seem like they were watching T.V.
For a few seconds, everything was calm before Joon turned to Hobi and said, “This is too unnatural isn’t it?”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Hobi replied, both of them getting off the couch and pacing.
As they began to go up, Joon stopped Hobi and said, “No, you’re rooming down here with Jin and Kookie, why would you go upstairs?” For half a second, they contemplated that before they heard the click of the lock and Hobi sprinted towards his room downstairs, Joon scrambling up the steps and into his and Jimin’s room.
Yoongi unlocked the door and opened it, Juggy barking at PipPip as she entered. All she wanted to do was lie—
The wall is gone.
That was her very first thought, and then she noticed the repositioning of all the furniture, and then she noticed Horse slithering all over the couch, and then she noticed Joon’s laptop and glasses sprawled on the floor, and then everything made sense.
Still, she played along. “Anyone home?”
Hobi, clearly earlier than he should have, tore open his door to greet her. “Hey Yoongi! What’s up? You look tired. You want me to make you some tea?”
Just like that, Joon was also downstairs, speed walking through the living room only to slow once he got to the table. “Hey Yoongi! What’s up? You’re absolutely glowing. Want some coffee?”
“She wants tea,” Hobi corrected, already in the process of making it, it seemed.
“You want tea?” Joon asked, looking ready to start making tea at any moment.
Yoongi was so tempted to take their tea, sit on that couch, and go on and on about how things looked “so different”…but she stayed quiet. “Actually, I’d rather be outside. You guys wanna join me on the porch?”
Without another word, she went back outside and—hesitantly but triumphantly—Hobi and Joon followed.
“Is this it?”
Jin and Kookie looked up at the oddly shaped building before them. It looked like a house at first, but then they saw it was long and then slanted up at the butt of it. It didn’t make logistic sense to either of them. “I guess,” Jin responded. The two got out of the car and approached the door. “So what’s the plan, did you set up a meeting?”
Kookie scoffed as he reached the glass door. “No, I’m Jeongguk. Come on now.”
As he entered, a warm smile was plastered on his face, neither of those two things ever before seen on Kookie’s face at the same time. He approached the reception desk and, Jin standing some ways away, saw Kookie make the man laugh as he dialed a number on his phone and held up a finger saying, “One moment.” Kookie turned back to Jin and smirked; cocky as always. Within a few seconds, the man was telling them to go ahead back. Kookie gestured to Jin and he followed suit. Once they were in the elevator, Jin went, “How did you do that?”
“I already told you…I’m Jeon Jeongguk.”
“Oh shut up.”
Alicia looked up from her computer and said, “You’re not my four o’clock.”
Jin and Kookie stood side by side and stared down at her. “No ma’am, no we are not. Bet you don’t recognize us either.”
“Believe me, I do.” She turned back to her computer, her long black hair swaying as she did. “Seokjin and Jeongguk from Student Government. It’s not that I don’t remember you, it’s that I don’t care.”
“The same old Ali, I see,” Kookie commented. She spared him a glance.
“The same old Kookie,” Alicia replied. “Smart-mouthed and never any consequences.” He looked away. “Why are you here?”
“We want you to drop our client Jung Hoseok and refer him to someone else, someone better,” Jin proposed.
“Oh honey,” She chuckled, still typing away on her computer as if talking to a desk phone. “I’m the best Hobi is ever gonna get. I tell him the truth.”
“Ali, you haven’t liked one single thing in your entire life,” Jin told her.
She paused her typing briefly to click on something. “So?”
“So how will you ever know if what Hobi is writing is actually good enough?”
She shrugged. “I figure if it’s good enough for me to admit it’s good enough, then that’s when it’ll be good enough, don’t you think?”
Kookie sighed. “But that’s not fair—”
“Neither is this business,” She finally turned to face them, her eyes piercing. “His work is going to be out there to get judged, my job is to do it first so he can better prepare for it. You’re asking me to forget that.”
“No, we’re asking you to do your damn job!” Kookie exploded, hands on her desk. “You haven’t actually given one piece of advice that he can actually use! How the hell can you call yourself an editor!?” Alicia looked taken aback. She had seen Kookie’s outbursts before, especially during meetings when they either fought or avoided each other. But this, she could see, was something new. His emotions, for once, weren’t centered on her, but on the person she was hurting.
She just looked away, Jin pulling Kookie back now. “Fix it, Ali,” Jin said, opening her office door. “Or we will.”
The door shut.
Although the sky was still blue and the smears of sun were still spread across the sky, the sun had vanished by then beyond the edge of the Earth, giving the moon its time to shine as bright as the sun once did.
Jimin took in that sweet scent of residual sun and fetal moon, waiting on the steps outside the fire station for Tae to appear. Soon enough he did, or rather Jimin did and he appeared chasing after him. Tae caught his breath in front of Jimin and Jimin, Jimin grabbing his cat and cradling him. “You just let her run off?”
“No, of course not,” Tae argued, composing himself. “That would be wildly irresponsible.” Tae reached a hand out to Jimin and helped him up, not that he needed it. “I let her guide me, rather. We went around downtown, and then in some really shady part, through the park for a while, and then—obviously—back to you.” Tae breathed in. “Isn’t that poetic somehow?”
Jimin rolled his eyes and shoved Tae, the two friends walking home.
On the way, Tae spoke. “Soo?”
“Yeah?” Jimin answered, stroking his purring feline friend.
“…What makes you happy?”
Jimin thought that was a loaded question, but in the silence they had encountered on their way home, he’d be happy to talk about death if it meant conversation. “Well, to put it physically I would say you,” He turned and smiled cheesily at his friend. “And Jimin here.” He kissed the top of his cat’s head. “and obviously Jin, Yoongi, Joon, Kookie, and Hobi. I guess the house makes me happy too because it holds all of us together…food makes me happy…people make me happy, happiness makes me happy…” Jimin trailed off, staring forward rather than seeing ahead. “…but not my own happiness.” He thought on that, Tae oddly silent and letting him. “My own happiness always seemed more like a goal than an actual joyful thing…which is stupid when you think of it. So, I guess, if we’re talking philosophically, then the idea of my very own happiness is something that would make me happy.” Jimin finally looked over at Tae, having expected for his face to change. It hadn’t; oddly enough, it hadn’t changed at all. “What about you? What makes you happy?”
Tae would have liked to tell his friend that he would be happy one day, but he wasn’t so sure about that. “I don’t know yet,” was his reply.
Yoongi, Hobi, and Joon sat on the porch in their individual chairs; coincidentally they were the only ones out of the seven who had put chairs out on the porch. It was—what Hobi considered—a classic Goldilocks and the three bears situation. Yoongi had the chair that was larger than her body, but also the hardest, Hobi had the chair that was slightly smaller and much softer than Yoongi’s, not to mention the colorful design of the wood. Joon’s chair was the smallest, a simply made, glossed wood, rocking chair that fit him and only him…which Goldilocks—Jimin—liked to sit in all the time without permission.
“Is it Twilight yet?” Yoongi asked. Joon shook his head, saying that it was close but not quite there yet.
“It’s at 7:32, it’s only 6 right now,” Hobi said, going into further detail.
Yoongi sighed, taking in the scene. All three of them took a sip of their tea at the same time, tea Yoongi had ended up making for the others. After her hot sip, she spoke up. “I know you took down the wall.” Suddenly, Hobi’s chair didn’t seem so soft anymore and Joon’s rocking chair stopped rocking. “It’s okay, I don’t care…It’s just a stupid wall.”
Daring to, Hobi spoke up. “Then why did you say no to taking it down?”
Yoongi shrugged, still staring off beyond the line of trees in their sight. “The house already seemed too small for us, I thought we’d do good with some walls.” She took another sip of her tea and both men realized they couldn’t argue with that.
Hobi felt his phone buzz twice and he reached over to the glass table in front of him to pick it up. Unlocking his phone and checking his text, he was silent for a moment while reading it. “My editor is dropping me.” Yoongi and Joon both paid attention. “She’s referring me to someone else. She says it’s for the best.”
Joon looked on to see the car pull into the driveway, making eye contact with Jin as the headlights went off and the vehicle’s snorts seized. He smiled, getting a good feeling of what might have happened. “Good riddance then.” Joon turned and clinked his mug against Hobi’s without consent, taking another sip.
By the time Kookie and Jin got out of the car, Tae and Jimin were walking up. Jimin let Jimin loose in the garden, watching the cat run around and chase PipPip. They all greeted each other at the porch, Hobi, Yoongi, and Joon getting up and walking inside with the others.
“Oh man, the wall’s gone!”
The house’s door shut.
Way past Twilight now, far into the night, Joon found himself sitting up in bed, his phone light shining on a clipboard he had brought from work. At first, the ceiling light was on, and then as it got later, he downgraded to his bedside lamp, but as the time for getting ready for bed turned into the time for binge drinkers, party-goers, and heavy sleepers, he reduced himself to this small flare of light shining on the smoothed-out sheet of paper. He was surprised how neat his penmanship was considering the dark circumstances.
Joon started when he heard Jimin shift positions in his own bed. When it came to roommates, they agreed that customization of rooms—which involved moving many personal possessions every month from room to room—but they also agreed moving a whole bed frame was too much. Therefore, they sacrificed their old beds and bought generic, same-sized new ones. When it came to blankets and such things, those could switch if the sleeper cared enough…half of them did and half didn’t. With Joon and Jimin, the beds were rather close together, so the fear of waking him up was even more severe. Joon heard Jimin mutter aloud and decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
Joon’s eyes drooped over the nearly full paper, the light of the lamp he had stolen from the living room and moved to the table making his eyes hurt in the surrounding darkness.
The restless vessel jumped as two hands landed on his shoulders, a chin resting atop his head. “Jeez, Jin,” Joon cursed to himself, continuing writing.
“Why are you hand-writing the house rules?” He kept his voice low. “You already sent us all copies.”
“I know but,” Joon paused so he could finish up. “I just want a copy on the refrigerator, sort of like an original version; a memento.” Joon stood and so did Jin, taking his weight off of him.
“You know this house is more than its rules, right?” the dark-haired man pointed out.
The light-haired man nodded, admiring it. “Yeah, but it’d be nothing without them.”
Jin shook his head. “You’re such a walking/talking cliché.” He turned away from him. “Goodnight.” Jin disappeared back into his room and shut the door.
Joon smiled at the simple sheet of paper as if what was written on it was truly the glue that could keep them together, maybe forever.
Walking over to the fridge, he grabbed Jin’s beer magnet he won from a dart competition at the bar and stuck it on the paper. A sense of satisfaction went with that, and with that overwhelming sense of satisfaction, Joon went back to bed.
(Bold is for “Rules” variations)
1. Everyone has their specific day to prepare food for everyone:
a. Sunday: Namjoon
b. Monday: Seokjin
c. Tuesday: Yoongi
d. Wednesday: Tae
e. Thursday: Hobi
f. Friday: Jimin
g. Saturday: Jeongguk
2. Cleaning (Building) day is every Saturday.
3. Holidays and Special Events (Special/Magical parts of the Island) are to be shared and everyone has a chance to pick or control a group activity.
4. Expired food has to go out immediately. Those injured have to sit out immediately.
5. Those going grocery shopping (salvaging) is decided by rock, paper, scissors.
6. No new people at the house (on the island).
7. Roommates (Building Buddies) are picked by a raffle and are final.
8. If one leaves the house (island), we all leave the house (island).
9. All contributions are equal.
10. Who manages what is pre-decided:
a. Hobi: Food and appliances stock; writing grocery lists. Mapping the island.
b. Jimin: The house’s garden and their image to the outside world. S.O.S messages and communication with the magic of the island.
c. Jeongguk: Breakfast/Morning talks and catch-ups. General health and strength training.
d. Namjoon: Money managing for the house and appliances, etc. and neighbor relations. Watching the weather and watching the waters.
e. Seokjin: Restocking the house’s necessities and installing new appliances. Necessities (food, cloth, etc.) collection and distribution.
f. Yoongi: The house’s well-being. Materials taken from the island and put back in, including collection.
g. Tae: Decorating the House. Making the island their own.
11. You must talk to the people in the House (Island) if something is wrong physically or mentally.
12. BUT, everyone is entitled to their own space.
13. The House (Island) comes first…always.
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