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Wrestling with affection

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End run – September 2016

Why do I still have to do this? Minhyuk thought. The ISAC. Aren’t I too old for this? Sure he was still in his twenties, but seeing all the other groups around felt very disheartening. They were all so young and inexperienced. Most of the groups with members Minhyuk’s age had left the competitions already. They had moved on to being MCs or just not bothered to show up. Only BTOB still cared enough to show up, and everyone knew it was because they needed the promotion. Being there among all the young ones, constantly being addressed as oppa or hyung or sunbaenim, made Minhyuk feel old. Like just being there was a reminder of the failure that was BTOB and the shame they brought on their company. They’d been working for over four years now and they still hadn’t gotten that big breakthrough. Wasn’t it only a matter of time before the company decided to give up and try their luck with a newer act? Minhyuk felt dishearted. If it wasn’t for his beloved members, he would have stayed at home. At least then the memories of his earlier successes in the games would have stayed with everyone and he wouldn’t have had to feel this pressured. What if he was too old to win against these young idols? Wouldn’t that make the situation even worse? He sighed. Better to just go out there and do his best. Once the day was over he could go home and try to forget all about it.

---

The hallways looked the same, as did the dressing room. Not surprising really, since it was the same building. And who cared anyway; Jimin knew they were going to be there. The grey and white colors on the walls, and the cool, dark plastic carpet; it was all the way he remembered it. The wooden benches in the dressing rooms, plastic chairs in the corners, lockers that no one used, spotted isolation in squares in the ceiling. It didn’t matter. He was prepared for it. But that smell of rubber and cleaning detergents, moist and warm bodies, he wasn’t prepared for that. As he opened the door to the room it hit him like a ton of bricks. He had forgotten it, but now he remembered. That feeling of skin on skin, the laughter and clinging and desperate speed, the moaning and scratching of fingernails; he could feel it all, hear it play out around him. Maybe he wasn’t as fine as he thought.
As he sat down on the cool floor he reached out his hand to touch the cold rubber surface and remembered the mixing of hot and cold, sweat running down their backs and the buzzing sound of the air-conditioning in the ceiling, trying its best to help them out. He’d been that lucky. This time it would be different.
“Jimin-ah!” a voice shouted from the hallway and a face peered into the room. “Jimin, what are you doing in here?” Jin looked into the room with curious eyes.
“Ah, nothing! It was just so quiet and nice”, Jimin said hurriedly while standing up and correcting his clothes. “Don’t worry, I’m coming.”
“Okay? Well, hurry up! We’re supposed to be out there soon. It’s time for the welcoming ceremony.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know”, Jimin said and left the room, closing the door behind him. This was no time to get sentimental. He’d have to run soon, and shoot, and cheer, do all sorts of positive promotions for his group. Couldn’t do that with his head stuck in a storage room now could he? As he met up with the rest of his members he put on a smile. Being there together with the fans and cheering and playing around all day, things could be a lot worse. Who cared what happened last time. This was now, and now was still pretty darn great.

 

Ready, set, go – February 2016

Walking around the arena made Jimin a little nervous. So many fans everywhere, and so many idols to greet and be polite to. And cameras capturing everything. But competing was fun, and seeing his fans cheer for him was such a happy, warm feeling. Plus his members were so excited. Jungkook and V were both bouncing up and down, and even though Suga looked even more tired than usual, Jimin could see that happy glow in his eyes. The atmosphere was contagious and soon Jimin was also bouncing and laughing and enjoying himself. The fans were shouting, idols were waving and everyone seemed to be sharing in the fun that was the ISAC. This day might turn out pretty nice after all.

---

Minhyuk was stretching in a changing room backstage. He could feel the excitement jumping through his body. This was his favorite time of the year, the ISAC, and he was going to give it his all. Last year had been great, and he needed to work hard if he was going to make this year even better.
“Let’s go out there and kick their asses!” he heard Sungjae say, and smiled as they all huddled together, yelling “BTOB, fighting”. He already knew this day would be amazing.

---

Jimin’s body was responding well to the exercise, and when it started to complain Jimin had the willpower to push it even further. They won the relay for the second time, even if they didn’t place in the individual competitions. The members cheered and Jimin could see the other groups cheering too. The atmosphere was that good; everyone shared in the positive feeling and supported their hardworking friends.
When Jimin failed to place his arrows in the archery competition it felt embarrassing at first, but he still kept his good mood. Jungkook was obviously giving him annoyed glances, but who cared about the maknae. Just because he had that golden maknae luck. Jimin wasn’t going to let him ruin his mood. Instead he went to congratulate the winners from BTOB, laughing at their silly costumes. Eunkwang let him pet his horse butt, impersonating a horse’s happy neigh. Even Jungkook was laughing now, and Jimin could swear the maknae was happy BTOB had won after all, even if he’d never admit it of course. Laughing they joined the other members and waved to the fans cheering them on. Jimin had finished his competitions for the day, and now he could spend the rest of his time there relaxing and enjoying the competitions as a viewer.

---

The day was going just as well as Minhyuk had imagined it would. He won the 60 m competitions and got to once again feel the incredible feeling of the entire arena cheering for him. By now he had made a name for himself as a proper athlete and not just an idol fit from dance practice. Walking around the stadium he felt like the lights were making him sparkle. He laughed at his members joking around, knowing that he was one of the idols everyone was keeping an eye on. This was really his day in so many ways.
Soon it would be time for the wrestling to start. This was a new competition for him, but having practiced it a lot during the recent week he felt confident to at least be able to stand his ground. He might not be able to win but he would at least be able to impress. His height was his biggest disadvantage, impacting both his weight and his reach, but he would never give up because of it. Like in all the other competitions he would always do his best and fight until the very last bit of strength left him.
The wrestling started and Minhyuk felt his body tense, getting ready for the explosive power he knew he’d need to beat his opponent, this time BTS Jin. Trying to keep all the technical points in his mind, he got into position. A few seconds later he had thrown Jin down on his back, and stood up smiling, once again feeling the happiness in a work well done. He didn’t even care that his other members all lost their rounds. He knew he had done his part, and when BTS’ maknae Jungkook asked if he wanted to rehearse with him once before the finals he knew it was because Jungkook considered him the best. Of course he accepted, having nothing left to prove. Tensing up once again, feeling his body shift into position, he was ready to throw the young boy into the mat, when his eyes were caught by a smile. Jimin was standing next to the mat, gleaming from ear to ear, watching them with excitement. A second later Minhyuk found himself on his back staring in front of himself in surprise. Maybe it was the fact that it was only a rehearsal, maybe he had underestimated Jungkook. Whatever it was, he had let himself get distracted. And it meant he had lost the match. Jungkook looked like he had succeeded with the impossible, also a little surprised but mostly proud. Minhyuk smiled as he stood up and left the mat. Stepping down, Eunkwang came towards him followed by Sungjae and Jimin.
“You let him win didn’t you?” Eunkwang beamed at him. “Minhyuk-ah, always being such a good sunbae, cheering for the cute dongsaengs.”
Minhyuk just smiled back meaningfully, not really knowing how else to respond. He had let him win after all, that much was true. Though not out of kindness.
“You let him win?” Sungjae said with wide eyes. “That explains how he could win. But hyung, why would you do that? I mean, why wouldn’t you ever do that for me? If it was me you would have just thrown me to the ground, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course I would have”, Minhyuk said beaming. “That’s what maknaes are for.”
Eunkwang and Jimin both laughed, while Sungjae gave him a smile dripping with irony.
“Well, that’s why Eunkwang is my favorite hyung and not you”, Sungjae said sweetly and turned to Eunkwang with a wide smile. “Come hyung, I’ll let you buy me some snacks”. Sungjae grabbed Eunkwang’s wrist and started pulling him towards the snack area.
“Wow, I feel so honored”, Eunkwang said jokingly and turned to give Minhyuk and Jimin one last smile before following Sungjae away across the field.
Jimin turned to smile at Minhyuk again and Minhyuk could see why he’d been so distracted before. His smile was dazzling. When Jimin smiled there was no doubt that the emotion was real. It was like his entire face was a mirror of what he was feeling inside; including a slight hint of embarrassment or shyness that crossed his face from time to time.
“Sunbaenim, please let me thank you for agreeing to wrestle with Jungkook”, he suddenly exclaimed, bowing to show his sincerity. “I’m sure it’ll help him feel more confident for the finals.”
“I’m happy if it does”, Minhyuk said and smiled. “And you can call me hyung.”
“Hyung”, Jimin said and smiled. Then his face turned serious and he leaned closer to ask: “Did you really let Jungkook win?”
“Maybe I did”, Minhyuk said and felt a little embarrassed. Taking credit for something he hadn’t really planned on doing felt a little strange. “Was that bad of me?” he added with a teasing voice, seeing Jimin’s concerned face.
“No, although I don’t think I can thank you for it, even though I probably should”, Jimin said and once again he was smiling with that shyness creeping through the features of his face. “He’s already a little too confident. He rarely listens to his hyungs. After this he’s going to be impossible to live with.” Jimin made a grimace and Minhyuk laughed happily, thinking that maybe it wasn’t so bad he had let himself be distracted after all. Jimin might be cute enough to be worth it.
“Why aren’t you wrestling?” Minhyuk asked. “Aren’t you curious to try it out?”

---

Jimin had been curious to try the wrestling, but he also knew that with him on the team, their chances to win would have been much worse. So when the question came about who should compete he had given up his chance without a second’s thought. Now Minhyuk was asking if he wanted to give it a go. How could he turn him down? He was already done with his competitions. Leaving the arena for a couple of minutes couldn’t hurt, right?
Giving Minhyuk a nervous smile he followed him out towards the dressing rooms. Minhyuk was walking casually through the crowds of staff and idols and nobody gave them a second glance. Jimin tried to follow his example, but no matter how he tried it felt strained and awkward. How could Minhyuk be this smooth? He realized he didn’t know this hyung so well, and yet he was letting himself be led off somewhere deep into the surrounding corridors of the arena. This wouldn’t get him into too much trouble would it?
Still, there was something about Minhyuk’s confidence and calm happiness that made him feel very safe, even when he had no idea where he was going. Jimin was sure he was in good hands. And when Minhyuk looked back over his shoulder and smiled, Jimin felt like he was melting inside. He couldn’t help but blush a little, feeling all warm and giddy and excited. Minhyuk was so cool and nice, not to mention handsome. Why he was even bothering with Jimin was hard to understand, but who was Jimin to question it? He regretted having doubted the hyung if even for just a second. What was there to worry about? Better to seize the moment.
Minhyuk reached out his hand and as Jimin grabbed it, he smiled again and led the way into an abandoned little practice room. There was a mattress on the floor and wrestling belts were hanging off hooks on the wall. Jimin figured this was where the idols had practiced their wrestling earlier. Minhyuk pulled him up on the mattress, before he went to fetch a belt and helped Jimin tie it around his waist and one of his legs. It felt a little odd having Minhyuk so close, but on the other hand Jimin wouldn’t have been able to do it himself. Minhyuk was the expert of the two, and now he was acting teacher. As he started explaining the basics, Jimin listened attentively and did what he was told. He let Minhyuk lift him and carefully tip him over on his back to show a specific grip. He then got to lift Minhyuk up and do the same. Once Minhyuk was lying on the mattress, Jimin couldn’t help but notice he was smiling.
“What?” Jimin asked, while catching his breath from lifting Minhyuk up. Minhyuk just giggled a little and stood up again.
“What?!” Jimin insisted. He was beginning to worry that maybe he was doing something wrong.
“Nothing”, Minhyuk said, still smiling to himself. “You’re just really cute when you’re concentrating, that’s all.”
Jimin could feel his cheeks burning a little. That wasn’t at all what he had thought he’d hear.
“I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable”, Minhyuk said earnestly. “But you did insist on hearing it”.
“Yeah, it’s okay, I’m sorry”, Jimin said, although he wasn’t quite sure what he was apologizing for.
Minhyuk started smiling again, but this time he looked away, clearly trying not to upset Jimin further. Instead he stood at the center of the mattress and waited for Jimin to get into position. Feeling strangely self-conscious, Jimin joined him and soon they were wrestling, although Minhyuk was clearly holding back to give him a fair chance.
“Try to trip me”, Minhyuk said, as Jimin struggled to hold on without falling. Reaching out his leg, Jimin pushed at the side of Minhyuk’s knee and they both came tumbling down on top of one another.
“Good!” Minhyuk said happily, as Jimin hurried to stand up again. “Let’s try that again. This time I will try to block you and you will try to make me fall okay?”
“Okay” Jimin said. Being this close all the time was distracting. Minhyuk looked so good like this, muscles tensing and his eyes focused and serious. Jimin took a deep breath, cleared his mind and tried to focus. This time it went better. He managed to almost trip Minhyuk several times, and he could tell Minhyuk was trying hard not to fall. Having finally won, Jimin sat on top of Minhyuk feeling proud and happy. They were both breathing deeply with the exercise, and Minhyuk was looking up at Jimin with what could only be newfound respect.
“You’re really strong”, he said and smiled, clearly impressed by Jimin’s ability to put up a fight. “With some practice you could be really good at this. You should have competed before.”
“Oh no, I really shouldn’t have”, Jimin said and laughed a little. The thought was quite absurd to him. Jin and Jungkook were both really strong, and even though V wasn’t quite as sporty, he had the height to his advantage. “I wouldn’t be able to do it as well as the others anyway.”
“Why not?” Minhyuk asked, now looking a little surprised. “You’re really strong.” He repeated and Jimin felt himself straighten his back with foolish pride. Like he’d have a shot against those tall guys.
“I’m too small”, he answered and blushed. “Even if I practice and build muscles, my height…” he smiled sheepishly. Minhyuk didn’t seem to find it funny at all though. Instead he grabbed a hold of Jimin, and before Jimin had time to react he was on his back with Minhyuk holding him down in a steady grip.
“Too short huh?” Minhyuk said seriously. “I wonder where I’ve heard that before.” He stood up, and now that Jimin thought about it, he realized they were probably more or less the same height. How could he have said something as stupid as that? Idiot.
Face bright red, he stood up slowly and walked over to the middle of the mattress again. When Minhyuk walked up to him he murmed: “I’m sorry, that was really dumb, I didn’t think…” Before he had finished, Minhyuk had grabbed him again and tossed him back into the mattress. Jimin looked up in surprise and saw Minhyuk above him smiling.
“I accept your apology”, he beamed and then he reached out his hand to pull Jimin up. But when Jimin was almost up, he let go and Jimin fell back on the mattress, Minhyuk soon following and sitting atop him, still smiling brightly.
“You know, height has nothing to do with manliness or strength”, he said brightly. “In fact, being short has its advantages. Like also being able to be cute.” Suddenly breaking into an aegyo dance, Minhyuk winked and started shooting hearts at Jimin’s chest. Jimin couldn’t help but giggle.
“Hyung, stop it!” he said, covering his eyes with his arms.
“Why?! Are you embarrassed? I’m not”, Minhyuk said, still continuing his dance, which was now starting to look more like some kind of cheerleading routine. Jimin moved his arms a little to squint up at Minhyuk. And seeing his face like that, Jimin couldn’t help but believe him. Minhyuk wasn’t embarrassed at all. In fact, he looked proud and happy and strong, even in the midst of all that cute dancing.
“Isn’t it something great? Isn’t it worth being short if you can be this cute because of it?” Minhyuk said in a terrible aegyo voice and smiled.
“Yes!” Jimin giggled and blushed.
“See!” Minhyuk beamed down at Jimin. “That’s exactly what I mean. The fans love it, the combo of manliness and cuteness, being both strong and adorable. It’s our best selling point. And you being so darn cute is the reason I brought you down here in the first place.”
Suddenly the air in the room seemed to have stopped. Jimin looked up at Minhyuk who was still smiling calmly and tried to be just as calm, even though that felt impossible now. Minhyuk’s winks and smiles all seemed to be telling the same story, like he had no intention of hiding it. And having this handsome hyung on top of him suddenly felt very different. A good kind of different.
“You brought me here because I was cute?” Jimin croaked out.
“Of course I did”, Minhyuk beamed. “I don’t just go around giving wrestling lessons to anyone.” Jimin swallowed as Minhyuk leaned closer to his face. “But you being strong…” Minhyuk continued, “that’s why I’m doing this”.

---

As Minhyuk leaned in, Jimin was turning deep red but he closed his eyes all the same so Minhyuk figured it was okay. Minhyuk had worried about Jimin being too shy and maybe even straight, but that was clearly not the case. Their lips met and soon they were wrestling in a very different way, strong arms holding their bodies together, hands and fingers roughly finding their ways through hair, down cheek bones and into shirts. Jimin’s shyness was all but gone and Minhyuk was enjoying every second of it.
Until suddenly they both froze as they heard voices outside. Realizing all at once what a compromising position they were in, they looked at each other in fear, before starting to laugh silently, neither regretting where they had ended up. Helping to pull each other up, they made their way into the small storage room next door, blocking the door with a chair to buy themselves some extra time, just in case. Then the laughs continued as their clothes were sent flying and their muscles worked hard to keep up with the sudden unplanned exercise and heat. Fast and rough and needy, happiness and thrill, letting their bodies finally use all the strength they had left in them. By the time they left the room, it was a wonder no one noticed what they’d been up to. Ruffling through his hair, Jimin smiled sheepishly again, and gave Minhyuk a look that had him smiling from ear to ear. It was a shame they would have to go their separate ways now, but they both knew the rules, and there was no need to take it personally. Hopefully there’d be more chances. Minhyuk left Jimin to his members, walking away thinking that maybe if he was smooth enough, he could use that weekend’s award ceremony as an excuse to revisit his dongsaeng and see how his wrestling skills had improved since last time.

 

Dropping the ball – Spring and summer 2016

But things didn’t go quite as planned. BTOB finally had their success and their company sent them away to do fan meetings and concerts instead of the planned award show. After that came a period when BTS was away on holiday, and then preparing for comeback, and it was only in late summer the two groups finally met at a concert in Seoul. Many months had passed and the awkwardness was real; especially because they kept being surrounded by members and staff and other idols.
At the party afterwards Minhyuk did make an attempt at talking to Jimin. He felt it was his responsibility as the hyung to see how Jimin had been, and make first contact. Of course, if things led where he hoped they would, there were also a lot of empty rooms available upstairs. Closing in on BTS however, Jimin didn’t seem to be with them. Minhyuk even asked Rapmon, but he didn’t seem to know where Jimin had gone off to. Maybe he’d just gone to the bathroom. Minhyuk looked around, but Jimin was nowhere to be found. Finally he spotted him coming downstairs, laughing and smiling brightly. Shinee’s Taemin was by his side, and the flirty smiles he was flashing Jimin made it clear to Minhyuk what his intentions were. His hand came up to support Jimin’s back as they turned out towards the dance floor, and the red in Jimin’s cheeks seemed to mean only one thing: Minhyuk was too late.
Which was fair enough, Minhyuk told himself. It wasn’t like he’d expected Jimin to wait around for him and stay celibate all summer. They’d hooked up once and it’d been months since then. In all honesty it was probably weird of Minhyuk to even think about it anymore. Maybe he was an idiot to consider it recent history. To Jimin it was history alright, but clearly not as recent as that hand on his back. Some things were better left in the past, and Minhyuk was definitely not the clingy sentimental type. To think that he’d assumed Jimin would take him to bed the second he showed up again after so long. It was absurd. What’d he been thinking? Minhyuk turned and headed back to his friends. He was going to try and turn this night around. Somehow he had to get rid of the knot in the pit of his stomach, and he knew just who could do it for him.

---

Jimin was on the dance floor dancing with Taemin, when he looked over to see Minhyuk standing by the bar talking to some hoobae from one of the new groups. His heart leaped which made him feel a little self-conscious. Finally he was here. Jimin had spent the last few months hoping for a chance like this, scouring all the idol gatherings for a sign of him, and now finally he was here. Noticing Jimin slowing down, Taemin turned to look over his shoulder to see where he was staring.
“Oh, he’s here is he?” Taemin teased and poked Jimin in the side. Jimin blushed and whispered “hyung!” trying to make Taemin stop.
“What are you waiting for then?” Taemin teased. “Go over there!” Jimin gave him a shy smile, face still burning, and started walking towards the bar. He had only gotten a few meters however when he saw Minhyuk leaning close and whispering something in the hoobae’s ear while reaching for his hand, and before Jimin knew it they were heading up the stairs together. Jimin was left standing there, staring at the place where they had disappeared.
Taemin came up behind him. “I’m sorry”, he whispered in Jimin’s ear. “I know you liked him.” As Taemin guided Jimin off the floor, it was impossible for him to argue. He did like him, didn’t he? Not that he had thought those words before, but the way he’d been acting that summer, and all the times he had talked about Minhyuk this and Minhyuk that… Taemin had seen it even clearer than he had. He liked Minhyuk. But Minhyuk was upstairs with someone else. A hoobae. Just like Jimin had been a hoobae. The pain of that realization was difficult to handle, pushing him into himself as his muscles cringed in all the wrong ways. Minhyuk was popular and sexy, and confident enough to take risks and go for what he wanted. He was handsome and charming and friendly to everyone. Considering how easily he’d gotten Jimin to agree, and how fearless he’d been in trying, he probably had a long list of past conquests. On the other hand, maybe Jimin should consider himself lucky. He got to be one of the hoobaes Minhyuk seduced and took to bed. Or floor in this case. And now that Minhyuk had found a new and more exciting hoobae to play with it was time for Jimin to try and move on too. No more daydreaming or nagging his friends. No more remembering their time together. Instead it was time to think ahead and, right then and there, time to dance.

 

End run – September 2016

The next ISACs came around, and for the first time Minhyuk didn’t feel excited at all. In fact, he’d much rather stay at home than go make a fool of himself in front of thousands of viewer including his fans; including everyone… Still he promised himself that he wasn’t going to let it show. Instead he entered the arena smiling and waving with the rest of his members, laughing at their goofiness and trying to behave as naturally as possible.
Warming up however, he realized his premonition had come true. His body wasn’t behaving at all the way it should. It felt slow and stiff and no matter how much he pushed it, it wouldn’t do what he asked. He felt himself struggling with even the simple tryouts. What was happening? Had he really gotten too old? He felt foolish and silly for even being here. People must have thought that he came back expecting to win, and he was in no position to tell them that it was actually the opposite way around; he knew very well he was going to lose. He’d felt it the entire day, the entire week actually. The closer to this day he got, the worse he felt. Now that it was here, all he could do was close his eyes and hope that the humiliation would be swiftly over and done with and that the fans wouldn’t get too disappointed. He looked around and noticed the back of a head he now recognized very well. Of course Jimin was here too; it was only to be expected of the rookie groups. Except Bangtan wasn’t so much a rookie group anymore. Their latest single had been more successful than any of the BTOB singles had ever been. Because the humiliation of losing at his favorite sports was not enough. The universe had clearly decided to hit him where it hurt.
Pissed off and angry Minhyuk stepped up to the starting line and got into position. He glanced to his side to see Jimin following the game on the big screen with great concentration. Yeah, you better be watching, Minhyuk thought to himself. Watch how I become a nobody in front of your eyes; watch me fail.
The start signal went off and he was running as fast as his legs could carry him. But clearly that wasn’t fast enough. Several people past him by and when he reached the finish line, he felt like dropping to his knees and screaming with frustration. Of course that wouldn’t be very idol-like, so instead he smiled and waved apologetically like he welcomed this big change in his career. He hugged the members that all came towards him to comfort him and cheer him up, reassuring them that he was fine. In fact, by the time he left the arena floor to go to the bathroom, he was sure everyone thought he was just as happy and cheerful as always.
Coming backstage he headed for the practice room and getting there started punching the big mattress on the floor with all his might. This was not how it was supposed to be. This wasn’t him. Since when was he so whiny and weak? Since when couldn’t he accept his own weaknesses and see them as a challenge to improve? It wasn’t like he’d never lost before. He should be better than this. He shouldn’t be this angry. Still punching the mattress he didn’t notice the door opening and someone entering the room.
“Hyung?” a light voice said.

---

Minhyuk turned around and stared at Jimin like he was seeing a ghost. Slowly panic came into his eyes as he seemed to realize what Jimin might have seen. Standing still, Jimin shifted his weight from one foot to the other, not really knowing how to start without scaring Minhyuk off. The anger didn’t face him, but if Minhyuk left now he might not be able to set things right, leaving Minhyuk to roam the arena in panicked frustration. Better to remain calm and passive. Approaching Minhyuk slowly with his hands open by his sides he ventured a careful question: “Hyung, are you alright?”
Minhyuk kept staring at him for a few seconds before he seemed to collect himself and ran his fingers through his hair suddenly smiling wide.
“You caught me!” he said apologetically. “I guess I’m a bit of a sore loser.”
“Ah bit!” Jimin said and gave him an evaluating look. “You make our maknae look like the forgiving type.”
“Yeah, well, everyone has a bad side I guess”, Minhyuk laughed and started walking towards the door. “So if you don’t mind, now that I’ve gotten the worst of that out of my system, I should get back to my members.” He was about to pass by but Jimin intercepted him, grabbing a hold of his wrist.
“Hyung”, he said again, careful not to look into Minhyuk’s eyes. “It’s okay to be upset. Maybe it’d be better if we stayed here for a while instead. Just in case someone else notices too.”
“Notices what?” Minhyuk said, still sounding happy and calm. “There’s nothing to notice. I’m fine now.”
The feeling of Minhyuk’s pulse beating fast in his wrist told Jimin otherwise. As if Minhyuk’s whole presence hadn’t told him as much already. He might be able to fool most people, but Jimin wasn’t one of them.
“The fans might not notice, but your members will for sure”, Jimin said calmly.
Minhyuk pulled his arm away and turned to look at Jimin, now beginning to sound a bit annoyed.
“Look, I don’t know what you think you’re seeing, but it’s not there okay? I’m fine”, he said clearly struggling a little to keep his voice calm. “Thanks for worrying and all. It’s sweet. But it’s not doing me any good and I’m not falling for it. So please, let me go!” He took another step towards the door, but this time Jimin stepped in front of him, completely blocking his way.
“No”, he said confidently, silently wondering to himself where all this confidence was coming from. Minhyuk didn’t want him there, was even telling him to let go, yet he knew that would be a mistake. It didn’t matter if Minhyuk didn’t care about him, or even if he got angry and hated him. Because Jimin cared about Minhyuk, had for a long time, and this was the kind of person Jimin wanted to be. He wanted to help the people he cared about. He wanted to be strong for them, even if it meant not getting anything back; that’s what a proper man did. And so he firmly stood his ground, staring into Minhyuk’s eyes with all his willpower, as if he’d be able to stare him down if he only stood there long enough.
Minhyuk seemed to freeze at this, clearly not expecting Jimin to put up this much of a fight. The spell lasted for a second. Then Minhyuk stretched out his hand and shoved Jimin to the side.
“I don’t have time for this”, he said quietly, clearly more to himself than to Jimin. He only reached another step before Jimin stopped him again, this time holding him in place with a tight grip around his waist.
“Just stay here a little while with me until you’ve calmed down”, he said, trying to sound reassuring.
“Let go!” Minhyuk raised his voice and tried to make Jimin lose his grip by pulling at his arms.
“No!” Jimin said stubbornly and clung on, weighing Minhyuk down with his entire body weight. Struggling like that, Minhyuk changed tactic and backed up, making them both fall onto the mattress. Rolling around, they both struggled, until Minhyuk came up standing with Jimin hanging on as a relentless backpack. They were both heaving now, tired from the struggle in a way that only two people with almost matching strength could be. Except not really matching, because Minhyuk was now walking towards the door with Jimin hanging on without any way of stopping him. Until they reached the doorway and Jimin pulled out his legs, stopping Minhyuk with the strength of his thighs. Minhyuk let out something that could only be described as a roar, and started running around the room, shaking, trying to make Jimin loosen his grip. But Jimin clung on, and soon they were both sitting in a pile on the floor, Jimin still holding on to Minhyuk around the shoulders and waist. Minhyuk was breathing so heavily Jimin was afraid he might pass out. Not that he was feeling very energetic himself. He sighed and leaned on to Minhyuk’s back, closing his eyes, and tried to get his heart to slow down. The sweat in his face was staining Minhyuk’s shirt, but considering it was already soaking he doubted Minhyuk would mind. Sitting like that quietly for a while, they both breathed deep and for a while Jimin almost felt like he was going to fall asleep.
Then Minhyuk suddenly stirred and Jimin had to hurry to renew his grip, getting himself ready for another struggle. But Minhyuk didn’t move much. He just calmly walk them both up onto the mattress and lay down. Letting Jimin spoon him he coughed, his breathe sounding rustled and deep. “Why?” he finally whispered. “Why wouldn’t you let me leave?”
“Because you were upset”, Jimin answered. “If you had left your members would have noticed, and you would have regretted it.”
Minhyuk thought about that for a moment.
“Maybe…” he said, clearly still feeling unsure. “But I still don’t get why you’d be so stubborn? Why do you care? Don’t tell me it’s out of the goodness of your heart or something.” He giggled a little. Clearly the workout had done him some good.
“I care, because I care about you hyung”, Jimin said. When Minhyuk turned around to stare at him, Jimin felt his cheeks blush red, and this time it wasn’t from the exercise. “I mean… I don’t expect anything! I just… I like you so I want you to be happy.” Jimin’s face was burning up now. It was so warm in there wasn’t it? Had they used up all the air? Suddenly the room felt like a sauna. Jimin pulled at his own shirt, feeling self-conscious about the way it was clinging to his body. Was it okay to be this close and this sweaty?

Minhyuk looked at Jimin’s now bright red face and felt that he could see things clearly for the first time in months. I like you. The words rang through his head. I like you. It was like a wakeup call. Like a clear, pretty sound in a sea of thoughts, finding its way through it all just to wake him up. So that’s what it had all been about. For a while he had hated Jimin, felt like throwing him to the ground. But another part of him had wanted something else. Feeling his body this close, hearing his heavy breathing, it felt like Jimin had been teasing him. He wanted out, away. He didn’t want to think about it. He wanted to be happy and smiling with his members and his fans, glimmering in the sun, enjoying the day, like the ISACs were supposed to be. Not the way things had turned out. Not the way they’d been since Jimin, since they’d, since he’d… He turned to cough, maybe to hide his own embarrassment, smiling to himself. What was wrong with him? Wasn’t he older than this? Shouldn’t he be able to tell by now; to tell when he liked someone? Had he really thrown an entire tantrum because of it? He liked someone. He liked Jimin. And even if he hadn’t thought Jimin liked him back, was that enough reason to act like a hormonal teenager? He was starting to giggle to himself now, thinking of the kind of idiot he’d apparently been these past months; so completely wrapped up in his own denial that he’d made it all about his bruised ego. Like it was all about him. Which obviously it wasn’t; it wasn’t about him at all. It all about…
Minhyuk turned to smile at Jimin, who was still staring at him with red cheeks. His eyes were now beginning to look at Minhyuk like maybe he was a little bit crazy. Maybe it had been the silent response to his confession or the random giggling. Minhyuk couldn’t help but giggle some more thinking about it, before he leaned forward to kiss Jimin’s red cheek. Jimin’s stare got even wider.
“I wish you would have told me that before I went and made a complete fool of myself out there”, Minhyuk chuckled to himself. He felt mean for teasing Jimin this much, but he just looked so cute when he was confused liked that. “It would have been so nice to go home with another gold medal. But I guess if I get to take you home that’s even better.” He smiled mischievously as he saw that Jimin was beginning to catch on. Sitting up to straddle Jimin, he smiled wide at Jimin’s now carefully optimistic face. “You made me lose!” he shouted and started tickling Jimin’s chest and armpits.
“Aaah, hyung, stop it!” Jimin squealed, and wriggled underneath him, trying his best not to laugh.
“No, I’ll punish you for what you put your amazing hyung through”, Minhyuk teased. “You got him to question everything about himself. You got him to act like a total idiot. Since when is the dongsaeng supposed to be the smart one huh? And the hyung blind? That’s not fair.”
Jimin kept squealing until Minhyuk suddenly stopped tickling and let himself fall limp on top of Jimin. He lay like that for a moment, smiling, just listening to Jimin breathing fast right next to him. It felt nice and warm and right. And sticky.
Then Jimin whispered: “Hyung?”
“Yes?” Minhyuk said and hoisted himself up to look down into Jimin’s face. It looked sweaty and messy and small tears were running out of his eyes, though Minhyuk was sure it was from the tickling. He should probably have waited for what Jimin was going to say, but the saltiness of Jimin’s lips looked too inviting. Being there right in front of them, it was too hard to resist giving them at least a lick. Reaching down to take Jimin’s lower lip into his mouth, he wondered if today was the day he finally lost his mind. A surge of heat flushed through him and he couldn’t quite help himself after that. Sucking and licking and nibbling, he let Jimin’s mouth consume him, feeling his chest burning with the need for air but the need for Jimin’s lips was stronger. Finally he couldn’t help but pull away, and only then did he realize that Jimin was gasping just as much as he was. Are you okay? was what he was going to ask, but instead he heard himself say:
“Did I tell you how much I like you?”. Seeing Jimin’s cheeks once again starting to blush as his face filled with the true happiness that only Jimin could muster, Minhyuk knew it had been the right thing to say. “I like you”, he added and smiled down at Jimin, feeling himself high with victory.
“I like you too”, Jimin answered and reached up to kiss him right back. The kissing would soon have turned to wrestling of the nicest kind, unless someone had come running down the corridor.
“Minhyuk-hyung!” they heard someone shouting. “Minhyuk-ah, where the hell are you, idiot-hyung?!”
“I guess that means we’ve been gone too long”, Jimin laughed.
“I guess it does”, Minhyuk said and smiled. “It also means I have to teach Sungjae a lesson about respecting your elders. See you around at lunch?”
“Sure, and I’ll make sure we win in the relay so I have something to brag about”, Jimin answered confidently.
“Not a chance. I’m not losing both the individual and the team competitions. BTOB will win, even if I have to run all the laps myself”, Minhyuk said determinedly.
“I guess we’ll see each other at the finish line then”, Jimin smiled.
“I guess we will”, Minhyuk laughed. Of course he really wanted to win. But if BTS won that would be okay too, as long as BTOB came in second. Maybe. Either way, it was about time Minhyuk turned this day around; though somehow it seemed like Jimin had already done that for him.

 

Going the distance - January 2017

“Tell me again why you aren’t going?” Jimin said poking Minhyuk’s ribcage while he stretched out on the bed.
“Schedule”, Minhyuk said, and added: “Us established sunbaes have more important things to do than to play around in a field all day. It’s fine for rookies like you I suppose…” Jimin interrupted him by attacking his nipples with pinches and climbing on top of him to hold him down.
“Rookies? Who are you calling rookies?” he huffed playfully, as Minhyuk squirmed under him trying to protect his precious chest. “Who was it that broke all records and ended up on the Billboard list, huh? Who was it that won the Daesang at MAMA?”
“Okay, okay”, Minhyuk agreed, and Jimin pulled away. “But being the top act of a major agency is hard work. And training all the new rookies of the company. You wouldn’t understa…” Minhyuk didn’t get further before Jimin’s fierce tickling had him squealing with silly laughter.
“I don’t understand hard work? Huh? I don’t understand hard work?!” Jimin shouted, showing no mercy in his tickling assault, and smiling wide and Minhyuk’s cute giggles.
“You just…wave your…arms around and…do some twirls…and…people call you…hardworking”, Minhyuk interjected between fits of laughter.
“I what?!” Jimin said and shoved Minhyuk around on his stomach. “I’ll get you for that, Lee Minhyuk-nim!”
“You could try!” Minhyuk laughed, and soon they were once again wrestling on top of the bed, both doing their best to stay on top. Who won varied from time to time, but in the end they both seemed pleased with the outcome. It was a game in which there were only winners, Minhyuk had once said. That cheesy line had earned him several slaps, some spanking and many kisses. Then Jimin had smiled at him and suddenly the line didn’t seem so cheesy anymore. Maybe someday he’d be able to make Jimin see that too.