Jimin answers the door with one eye glued shut with sleep, peering out into the hallway with dream-misted curiosity and Jungkook feels his chest constrict. Like this, he can barely believe Jimin is two years older—two thousand, one hundred thirty bowls of rice—because he looks so… vulnerable. So damnably breakable, as if someone can just reach out and curl their fingers around Jimin’s body and if they squeezed hard enough, Jimin just might snap in—
“Jungkookie… what is it?” Jimin’s voice is thick with the nectar of sleep and Jungkook licks his lips, taking a deep breath. He can almost taste Jimin’s words in the air between them.
“Just—just wanted to… talk.” Jungkook curses at his own hesitancy and for moment, a very different memory seeps to the forefront of his mind—third grade, a girl with a laugh like spring mornings, him, peering into a classroom window because she was two years older than him and has a good foot over him at least, but still.
Jimin regards Jungkook, with both eyes open now, and in them Jungkook finds himself reflected there, not as he sees himself in the mirror, but as someone he’d once dreamed of being, someone better than the person he is now. He rocks on the balls of his feet and waits. Jimin doesn’t ask what time it is or why Jungkook isn’t in bed, only nods and glances over his shoulder to make sure they haven’t accidentally woken Taehyung which, judging by the loud snort of a snore, they haven’t, before side-stepping Jungkook and bringing the door closed behind him, leaving a tiny crack to make sure he can get back in later.
He picks a particularly comfortable spot on the carpet of the hotel hall and plops down, patting the ground next to him. Jungkook bites down on the second and a half of bashfulness before he settles himself next to Jimin, an arm brushing against his, their knees almost touching.
“What is it?”
Jungkook feels the flood of words at the back of his throat—I didn’t mean/I’m sorry/I don’t really think/do you know how much you mean to me/do you know how much I think about you/do you know/do you know/do you/do you/do you—and has to swallow hard to keep them all from spilling out into this narrow hallway, splashing across the walls and seeping under the doors for everyone to see, everyone to hear, everyone to know.
“The shoot today—” Jungkook cuts off because the words are rushed, as if he’s trying so hard to give himself a reason, to give reason to how much he’d made fun of Jimin and the damned makeup they had to wear, the stupid freckles, stupid, stupid, freckles that, while he’d hated on himself, he’d found incredibly, startlingly, stomach-turningly attractive on Jimin. He had to remind himself not to stare so much and god he thought he’d rather die than admit it but his palms got sweaty and his voice had caught and he couldn’t concentrate on anything but Jimin and his stupid freckles and that stupid hat he’d been wearing, and the stupid stupid stupid vest and shorts that were way too short, and, oh sweet heavens.
Jimin mistakes his silence for shame and lets out a small laugh; it’s dry but not unkind.
“It’s okay. The makeup did make me look kind of like a girl.” There’s a resignation in his voice that clips at Jungkook’s heart, makes it feel like his ribs are tightening over it, squeezing it till it might burst.
“No, it’s not—” Jungkook clenches his fists and his head thumps back into the padded wall. He closes his eyes and flash, flash, flash, Jimin winking at the camera, Jimin biting his lip, Jimin pouting under the awning with the umbrella Jungkook had been holding only 15 minutes before.
“It’s fine, even Hobi-hyeong said it looked weird.”
Jimin’s laugh cuts off and when Jungkook opens his eyes again, it’s to Jimin staring up at him, head cocked in a bird-like curiosity.
Jungkook is in third grade and shouting across the playground at the girl with the prettiest laugh he’d ever heard, calling her names; his friends are laughing and the girl’s cheeks are painted a sunrise pink.
Jungkook is 19 and staring at his favorite hyeong, who is staring right back and this isn’t third grade anymore but a part of him, the most childish part, the part that had been left behind when he’d been scouted by an entertainment company and raced through the steps of adulthood before his mind can quite catch up, that part still prods at his subconscious whenever his heart thuds too loudly, whenever his voice starts to stutter. Teasing is the only way he knows how to deal with these… emotions.
He’d never really paused to consider, well, how it might feel being on the receiving end.
“No…?” Jimin repeats, still staring at Jungkook with that guarded curiosity, as if afraid of what Jungkook might say next.
“I didn’t mean…” Jungkook has to pick a spot on Jimin’s shoulder to stare at because really, this is embarrassing. He’s 19 for god sakes, an adult. He should be able to get a full sentence out in front of his goddamn crush without—oh.
Jungkook blinks at Jimin, eyes wide. Jimin quirks an eyebrow and his usually doe-like eyes are sharp and searching. Jungkook blinks and looks away because Jimin might see the word—crush, crush, crush—reflected behind Jungkook’s eyes and that would be just… Jungkook looks back at Jimin and finds the strange urge to smile because what if Jimin saw it? How bad can it be? Worst case scenario, Jimin thinks Jungkook is messing with him and brushes it off. Best case scenario—Jungkook blushes hard, eyes trailing down Jimin’s face to settle on his lips. Damnably pink and plump and Jungkook knows they’re soft because he’s once pressed his hand over them to keep Jimin quiet when eavesdropping on Namjoon’s phone call and Jungkook only remembers thinking that Jimin’s lips are way too soft, and nothing of Namjoon’s conversation.
Jimin laughs; the sounds breaks Jungkook’s meandering trail of thoughts and grounds him sharply back to the hotel hallway.
“Are you just going to leave all your sentences hanging?” there’s an easy kind of tease in Jimin’s voice that makes Jungkook’s entire body go hot.
“I just mean that I didn’t mean… all those things I’d said,” he finally grounds out, in more of a fast mumble than actual words but Jimin catches them anyway and bends forward to try and see Jungkook’s face, a smile curling his lips in a way that makes Jungkook want to punch him on the mouth. With his own mouth.
“Then what did you mean?” Jimin is humoring him now; Jungkook wonders when Jimin had managed to flip the tables so completely on him.
“I just thought… the freckles,” and here Jungkook gestures helplessly at Jimin’s face, his own burning, he heat searing the tips of his ears. Jimin quirks an eyebrow as Jungkook plunders on, “they looked…” he can’t. He can’t.
“They looked…?” Jimin’s smile is indulgent and for a moment, Jungkook lets himself wonder if all of Jimin’s smiles would taste different before he gives himself a mental slap and takes a deep breath.
“Jungkook-ah,” Jimin says, rather seriously, “I know we’re in Sweden, but I don’t really speak Swedish.”
“Oh fuck you.” Jungkook shoves Jimin on the shoulder and Jimin laughs again, the sound ringing in Jungkook’s ears. Like spring mornings, clear and bright, like summer sunsets, soft and light, like fall afternoons, crisp and slight, like winter nights, warm and right.
“Really though,” Jimin says, eyes twinkling as his laughter subsides and Jungkook wishes immediately that the sound would come back, that he could somehow catch it in a bottle and string it around his neck, right next to his heart, where it’s supposed to be. “I didn’t catch a word you said.”
“I said,” Jungkook tries again, slowly this time, forcing himself to keep his eyes level with Jimin’s, “I thought they looked really good.”
“Oh.” Jimin blinks, and blinks, and blinks. Seconds hold their breaths. Minutes peer around corners, waiting, waiting.
“Why didn’t you just say so?”
Jungkook blanches. “Because,” he says, voice defiant and huffy and very much so third-grade-boyish, “I… I don’t know how to… do this… this thing.” He gestures at the space between them, arms feeling awkward and lanky and not his own.
“And what exactly is this thing?” Jimin’s eyebrow is in danger of disappearing into his hairline, and he’s still looking bemused, though Jungkook sees the shadow of hope dancing by Jimin’s cheeks, now definitely darker than they were before.
“This… confessing… thing.” Screw being an adult; third grade boy it is.
Jimin’s eyebrow shoots impossibly higher. “Huh?”
“Do not make me say that again.”
Jungkook gives Jimin a curt nod.
Jungkook fixes Jimin with an exasperated look. “No to the damn wall—yes to you,” and by now, Jungkook is sure his entire body is the most ungainly shade of red. Can you call it a sunburn if it’s burning from the inside-out? Crush-burn might be more accurate.
“So you… what, like me?”
Jungkook can’t fathom the expression on Jimin’s face, whether it’s willful disbelief or some kind of twisted, sadistic, purposeful torture, but he cards a hand through his hair and tries to regulate his breathing.
Seems like Jungkook isn’t the only one back in third grade.
He narrows his eyes at Jimin. “Do you want me to tattoo it across my forehead or something?”
Jimin grins, leaning back into the wall, eyes fluttering closed, “You know, that’s not a bad idea. I like Park Jimin, right above your eyebrows.”
“I’d rather shave off my eyebrows.”
“Bang PD would cut my dick off.” Jimin shudders at the thought.
“Well we can’t have that—we need that.” Jungkook almost slaps a hand over his mouth. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.
“We do, now, do we?”
Jungkook can hear the grin in his voice and then he feels hot breath tickling his ear and snaps to. Jimin is resting his chin on Jungkook’s shoulder, his grin boarding on lecherous.
“What say you we put that to the—”
“You haven’t even answered me yet!” Jungkook yelps, jerking back from Jimin, who cocks his head again.
“You didn’t ask me anything.”
Jungkook regards Jimin in pure incredulity but Jimin just looks back as if his statement is completely rational and warranted.
“Well, do you… erm… do you also…” Again, Jungkook gestures at the space between them and understanding flashes across Jimin’s face.
He rolls his eyes and slumps back against the wall.
“He’s really smart, they said, he’s the golden maknae, they said,” Jimin laments in faux despair.
Jungkook crinkles his nose but can’t keep the shit-eating grin off his face and by the time Jimin turns to look at him again, Jungkook is smiling so wide his cheeks might melt right off his face.
“Do you want me to tattoo it across my forehead? Jimin asks.
Jungkook ponders for a moment before he answers, “Only if I get to be the one to tattoo it.”
“As if I’d ever trust you with a needle on my face. You’d ruin it.”
“Don’t you mean make it better?” Reflex kicks Jungkook in the ass before he has the chance to reel it back and he’s about to apologize before Jimin fixes him with a look.
“I’m a total catch and you know it.”
Jungkook scoffs, “If anyone’s the catch here, it’s me.”
“Nuh-uh,” Jimin says in mock childishness. Jungkook parries it by sticking out his tongue.
Jimin’s eyes linger on Jungkook’s tongue and then the both of them are looking away from each other, an awkward silence expanding through the hallway like a giant balloon.
“So… uh… what now?” Jungkook asks, and truthfully, he doesn’t really know, never having been in a proper—oh god it feels so weird even to think the word—relationship before.
“We hold hands and cuddle and buy cute, matching things, take a million selfies together and make the whole world jealous.” Jimin ticks off the things on his hands, grinning his Colgate grin.
“Damn, you got this all sorted out.” Jungkook is grinning too, glad that Jimin seems to have taken the reins on this.
“But right now, I think sleep is at the top of the list.”
Jungkook agrees, gets up, and offers Jimin a hand. He eyes Jungkook’s hand for a moment before taking it and letting Jungkook pull him up, the pair of them standing almost chest to chest as Jimin straightens. Jungkook’s breath hitches. Jimin’s does too—Jungkook can feel it against him, that catch of the lungs, the skipped beat of the heart.
Jimin looks up at Jungkook and Jungkook looks back and for the second time that night, time pauses with gilded interest and watches them.
“You know, I forgot one more thing on that list… right above sleep,” Jimin says, his voice low and steady and open. His eyes flicker from Jungkook’s lips to his eyes and back down again.
“Yeah? What’s that?” Trepidation, expectation, exhilaration, all running under Jungkook’s breath as he speaks.
“Goodnight kisses,” Jimin says. And Jungkook quirks his eyebrow.
“That goes above sleep?”
“Yep.” Jimin’s smile is lulling and stretches like toffee.
“Alright then,” and Jungkook bends down, the space between them closing as their eyes do, time ticks in circles around them.
Jimin’s lips taste like every single fairy-tale’s ending, trailing along Jungkook’s in accepting reassurance. His hand finds itself curling around Jimin’s neck to bring him closer, thumb tracing the solid line of Jimin’s jaw, pressing lingering cravings into his skin and Jimin’s hands are inching along the bend of Jungkook’s arm, up and down, squeezing slightly, sending beats of delicious, dizzying giddiness coursing through him.
They break apart a second off of breathless and stare at each other. They find home and themselves in each other’s eyes, in the lines of each other’s smiles.
“Goodnight, Jungkookie. Sleep tight.”
“Goodnight, Jiminie,” and Jimin actually smiles at the name, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” And by then, Jimin is already turning back towards his room, waving a hand over his shoulder.
“I won’t” then in a voice that Jungkook almost doesn’t catch, “I’ll save that job for you.”
Jungkook flushes hard. Yep, he'll most definetly have crush-burns in the morning.