Taehyung is a tea person.
His freshman year of college, he had formed something of a caffeine obsession, starting out with a cappuccino or latte here or there, to drinking approximately five cups a day for maybe six months straight. The transition into college had hit him hard and something about the bitter liquid in his tongue had soothed him, kept him going on the late night papers, functioning well during exams.
But all good things must come to an end. Taehyung doesn’t understand the concept of moderation, and during finals week second semester, he had walked into his Psych 103 lecture, running on Arabic dark roast and two hours of sleep, looked at the professor, screamed, and promptly blacked out.
Needless to say, he failed the class.
And he never touched coffee again.
It is the grand irony of Taehyung’s life, then, that his older brother Seokjin would open up a coffee shop. And that when business started picking up-- Seokjin’s blueberry scones are legendary-- Taehyung had offered to lend a hand. Not to mention extra cash was nice to have, as a poor college student.
What Taehyung hadn’t realized until a few months into working at the shop was that it also served as a great way to people watch. Being a psychology major, he was always interested in people and their dynamics-- the way they interacted with each other and the world around them. He had always been good at reading people, and Seokjin’s shop was a perfect place to hone his skills.
“Table three,” Jeongguk murmurs, nudging Taehyung with his elbow as he passes by with a box filled with milk cartons.
Taehyung’s eyes snap to where the younger had mentioned and sees a girl and a guy-- probably out of college, considering the guy’s hair is pink and he’s got an impressive set of piercings lining his ears. They’re sitting there, obviously making small talk over lattes that Taehyung made himself.
“I say they’re on a date,” Jeongguk murmurs, kneeling down to restock the fridge under the counter. Taehyung smiles and tuts, and Jeongguk shoots him a dirty look. Since being hired almost a year ago as a bumbling freshman, Taehyung had taken him under his wing. Jeongguk was book smart, but not street smart. He could do all of the shop’s taxes and finances with no problem, but when it came to people, he didn’t know the first thing.
“The girl thinks they’re on a date, yeah,” Taehyung agrees. Jeongguk peaks out over the counter. “She probably asked him out and the guy said yes to be polite. But he obviously doesn’t like her.”
Jeongguk hums in consideration. “Why do you say that hyung?”
Taehyung smiles, mischief brewing in his dark eyes. “Because he’s been staring at you since they got here.”
“What?” Jeongguk yelps, losing balance and falling over. Taehyung lets out a booming laugh as the younger boy splutters, face flaming red. “It’s not-- That’s fucking impossible, no way.”
“Really?” Taehyung snickers at Jeongguk’s obvious bewilderment. The boy really didn’t know how good looking he was. He’d been a bunny-toothed awkward freshman when he’d first been hired, but now, a year later, he’d grown taller and wider than Taehyung-- rivaling even Seokjin in the shoulders department-- and sported an impressive array of tattoos and ear piercings. Taehyung could admit-- and regularly said aloud-- just how attractive Jeongguk was.
“I’m gonna go take the brownies out of the oven,” Jeongguk huffs, getting up and straightening his black apron, before throwing the not-dating pair a distressed look and high-tailing it into the kitchen.
Taehyung lets out another laugh as he sets to steaming some milk for an order for hot chocolate. He looks up from pouring the mixture (with a dash of peppermint extract because the boy who ordered it loves it) when he hears the bell on the door tinkling, announcing the entrance of a new guest.
“Good morning! Welcome to Big Hit Beans, how may I--”
Shit shit shit.
Shit shit shit shit shit. Shit.
Taehyung steadily repeats this mantra in his head, with varying tones and inflections, as he stares at Park Jimin.
AKA the hottest guy on campus.
AKA the guy Taehyung’s had a crush on for the past four years.
AKA the guy who’s currently waving his hand (it looks so soft Jesus Christ on a pogo stick) in front of Taehyung’s face, looking very concerned.
“Uhm… hello?” Jimin asks, voice soft and unsure. Taehyung wonders whether he’ll actually combust into a million pieces, considering the level five catastrophe currently happening inside his stomach.
Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Ganesh, Ra, Allah.
“Excuse me? Uh…” Jimin’s eyes search Taehyung, until it lands on his name tag, pinned a little askew on his apron. “Taehyung?”
Park Jimin just said his name, and it was the most glorious thing Taehyung had ever heard in his twenty two years of living on planet earth. He doesn’t need to even eat anymore, probably, when the sound of his name flowing so beautifully past Jimin’s plush mouth could sustain him forever.
That snaps Taehyung out of it, because the concern is now growing on Jimin’s face, and a frown is tugging at the corners of his lips.
“I’m--” Taehyung tries, “--sorry.”
Well done, idiot.
He sounds like a dying cat. “Sorry, I just--”
Jimin seems to read Taehyung’s obvious distress, and he smiles encouragingly. Taehyung feels like he’s been socked in the gut because Park Jimin just smiled at me holy shit.
“It’s alright. Are you okay though? You look a little sick.”
“No!” Taehyung yelps. Jimin blinks in surprise and even Taehyung is taken aback by how loud his voice carries. “I mean, no I just---” He takes a deep breath, raking his hand through his hair. Pull yourself together, Kim Batman Taehyung. You can do this!
He plasters his trademark smile on his face-- the one Jeongguk had once complained would blind all the customers because of how bright it is-- and tries again. He doesn’t notice Jimin’s mouth opening in surprise, the corner of his lip tugging up in amusement.
“Welcome to Big Hit Beans. How can I help you this morning?” he asks, putting as much pep and energy as he can into it. He must sound a little breathless, but his heart won’t stop jackhammering in his chest. A dude’s gotta breathe.
“Uhm,” Now it seems like Jimin is the one rendered a little speechless. He keeps gaping at Taehyung, and he guesses he might be a little overwhelmed by the choices on the menu.
“If you’re looking for something sweet to kick start the day, I would suggest a white chocolate mocha? If you want something stronger, I would suggest an espresso! If you’re not really a coffee person, we just brewed a pot of rooibos--”
“No it’s fine!” Jimin seems to be flustered, and Taehyung is more than a little confused. The Park Jimin he knew (read: stared at in lecture, across the cafeteria and campus plaza, etc etc) was the picture of cool confidence, face set in a smirk or classic resting bitch face. But right now, he was… blushing? Had Jeongguk forgotten to turn on the air conditioning?
“I’ll uhm. I’ll get the sixteen ounce soy hazelnut latte with an extra shot, two sugars, decaf,” he rambles off quickly, and Taehyung barely has time to pick up one of the cups and scribble the order down. A man who knows what he wants, Taehyung thinks, noting how specific the order is.
He almost starts scribbling down Jimin’s name, before he realizes he’s technically not supposed to know who Jimin is. “Name?” he asks, just in time.
Taehyung nods and goes to write it, and realizes he’s already made an awkward Z-shaped mark on the cup. He has a three second meltdown, before scribbling down the rest of Jimin’s name.
“That’ll be five thousand four hundred won, please,” Taehyung says after keying in the order. He almost drops the money when their hands brush, and stutters out an apology. Maybe he’s not seeing things right, but there’s the faintest tinge of pink on Jimin’s cheeks. Taehyung should talk to Jeongguk about the air conditioning soon.
“It’ll just be a moment,” Taehyung says bowing his head, and Jimin copies it, before moving to the end of the counter where the finished orders are set out. Taehyung takes a moment to look at the name he’d scribbled on the cup, biting his lip, before shaking his head and setting about getting the drink together.
Maybe he’ll think it’s funny, Taehyung tries to tell himself. Maybe he’ll laugh.
He shakes his head as he caps the drink and sets it out. “Medium soy hazelnut latte, decaf,” he calls out. Jimin is already there, and smiles softly as he grabs his drink.
“Enjoy your coffee!” Taehyung says, a little too loud, before whipping around. Jimin frowns at the lavender haired man currently sprinting into the kitchen and looks down at the cup in his hands, reading what’s been written there in messy handwriting.
“Zzzziminnnnnn?” Jeongguk asks, drawing out the syllables, face scrunching with every passing moment he spends saying the name.
“Zzzzzzziminnnnnn, emphasis on the zzzz,” Taehyung corrects, mildly mortified. He’s got his forehead pressed against the cool marble of the counter and it helps with how hot his face feels.
“Zzzzzzziminnnnnnnn,” Jeongguk repeats solemnly.
“Zzzzzzziminnnnnnnn,” Taehyung nods.
“Is he cute?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung groans.
“Husband material?” Taehyung frowns at Jeongguk.
“Who said anything about marriage?”
Jeongguk rolls his eyes. “I’m trying to look out for you! If he’s not husband material he’s not worth your time. I’ll beat him up.”
Now Taehyung rolls his eyes, noting the protectiveness in Jeongguk’s tone. It had always been that way. Taehyung joked that he would protect and look after Jeongguk, but it always seemed like it was always the other way around these days.
Taehyung rolls his head around again, whining.
“Maybe he’ll think it’s funny?” Jeongguk tries, getting back on the subject. “You have a pretty great sense of humor.”
“He’ll think it’s weird,” Seokjin interjects, wiping the counter with a cloth. He whacks Taehyung on the back of the head with it to get him to move so he can wipe down that space. “And we’ll lose a potential regular customer.”
Taehyung shoots Seokjin a dirty look. “Thanks hyung. You’ve always been there to support me through the hard times.”
“It’s just cuz he’s not getting laid,” Jeongguk says, and it’s meant to be a whisper, but Jeongguk was never too good at the whole secret-keeping thing, and Taehyung snickers too loud afterwards for Seokjin not to notice.
“Both of you, out!” Seokjin barks, smacking them both with the cloth. “Wash the dishes before I fire you!”
“Going, going!” Jeongguk says, laughing as he and Taehyung retreat into the kitchen. Taehyung tosses Jeongguk a pair of neon pink dishwashing gloves and they get to work.
“Seriously though, hyung. Maybe he thought it was funny. Like, it’s obvious you did it on purpose, no one misspells a name that badly.”
“True,” Taehyung says, feeling moderately better. But then-- “What if he comes back though? How do I explain myself?”
Jeongguk pauses, considering. “Write another silly name? Maybe then he’ll get that it’s a joke.”
Taehyung turns to gape at Jeongguk. The younger boy scrunches his face. “What?”
“You know Guk, for someone so emotionally constipated, you sure do know a thing or two.”
Despite Seokjin’s complaining about losing a customer, Jimin does, in fact, come back.
It takes a week, though-- or, six days and three hours, but who’s counting? Taehyung decides it was probably because Jimin was just busy or didn’t want coffee, not totally weirded out by the barista.
“Hottie alert, eleven o’clock,” Jeongguk whispers, and Taehyung is immediately on high alert. He knew it was a good idea to show Jeongguk Jimin’s Instagram-- though he’d spend three hours gushing over Jimin’s shirtless photos and Jeongguk looked like he wanted to claw his eyes out.
Taehyung plasters his trademark smile on his face, determined to not make a fool of himself, and greets Jimin chirpily.
“Good morning! Welcome back!” Shit, was that too forward? Was it weird if Taehyung remembered a customer from a week ago? They had a lot of customers, he technically shouldn’t remember Jimin, except that he has a Titanic sized crush on--
“Morning,” Jimin drawls, voice a little husky, and Taehyung feels his knees go a little weak. “Are you always this happy in the morning?”
It takes a moment for Taehyung to process that Jimin had asked him a question. A non coffee related question.
He manages to laugh airly. “I’m always happy no matter what!”
And then Jimin smiles, one side of his lips pulling up into an amused smirk. “I like it,” he says, nonchalant, but it makes Taehyung’s heart soar, and he thinks there’s more weight to the words than he initially thought. “It’s... refreshing.”
(“He said I was refreshing, Guk!”
“Yes hyung. Refreshing. You know what else is refreshing? Lemonade. Febreeze.”)
Taehyung beams. “Thanks!” And he lets himself get swallowed up in Jimin’s attention for another few seconds, before getting to the matter at hand. “What would you like this morning?”
Jimin blinks in surprise, obviously not expecting the sudden topic change, but he seems to take it in stride. He cards his fingers lazily through his hair-- a bright red wine color that really shouldn’t work but somehow manages to make him look more like a god-- and the strands settle messily, shining in the light, and oh lord Taehyung’s totally whipped.
“I’m gonna need something strong today,” Jimin says, chuckling. Taehyung notes that he looks exhausted-- he’d come into the store in sweatpants and a loose shirt-- which Taehyung notes is Versace, and probably shouldn’t be worn as pajamas but Jimin looks like he’d just rolled out of bed in it-- and his voice has a depth to it that makes him think Jimin really might have just woken up.
He almost passes out.
“Maybe get something caffeinated this time? I’ve heard around the grapevine that it helps,” Taehyung jokes, and is rewarded with Jimin’s chuckle.
“Really now? I wouldn’t have thought,” Jimin’s voice is teasing and Taehyung wonders if this is even happening right now. Is he really flirting with The Park Jimin?
It not anything special-- Jimin was known to be a flirty person by nature, so Taehyung shouldn’t feel so giddy inside being what is sure to be the millionth person Park Jimin has flirted with.
“i guess I’ll get what I got last time then. Soy--”
“--hazelnut latte with an extra shot, two sugars, not decaf?” Taehyung finishes, and he knows he’s busted when Jimin smirks, because yes he’d freaking memorized Jimin’s order from a week ago (how could he not? It was a moment that would live down in history in Taehyung’s mind) and he’s making himself very obvious.
Jimin doesn’t look weirded out though. In fact he looks a little… pleased. Taehyung’s not reading this wrong, is he? He’s usually good at gauging emotions.
“Yeah. Sounds good,” And then he’s doing the smirking thing again. Taehyung’s cheeks flush with heat and he grabs the cup to write down the order. “And… it’s Jimin. With a J.”
Taehyung smiles at him sheepishly, before scribbling something down on the cup again, and sets it down on the counter to be made. Before he can say the price, Jimin is already handing over the bills, and he takes them with an impressed look.
“It’ll be ready in a second,” Taehyung says, and Jimin nods. He opens his mouth like he wants to say more, but seems to decide against it. Taehyung doesn’t know whether he’d distraught or relieved when Jimin moves over to the other counter, and gets to work on the order. He can hear Jeongguk’s muffled snickering by the baked goods display.
Once he finishes the order, he sets the cup out for Jimin to take and doesn’t even wait for a second to turn around and dive into the kitchen, not wanting to know how Jimin would react to the latest permutation of his name.
“Jimjam?” Jeongguk asks incredulously. He’d been wiping the counter with a fervor when he’d noticed the pink haired man from last week come in-- alone. They’d been giving each other looks the whole hour and Taehyung considers sending Jeongguk over with one of Seokjin’s scones just so something will happen.
That tsundere little shit.
“I was going to write Jimble Jams but figured it might be a little excessive,” Taehyung admits. Jeongguk snorts.
“This whole situation is a little excessive. Why can’t you just confess to him already? It’s been four years.”
Taehyung throws him a dirty look. “I’ll confess to Jimin if you go over to the pink haired dude and ask him out.”
“When pigs fly.”
Taehyung smirks, stepping up to Jeongguk and pushing the younger’s nose back with his finger. “Oink oink!”
“Fuck off hyung,” Jeongguk growls, shoving Taehyung away, but there’s a hint of a blush on his cheeks.
“My cutie little Jeonggukie, all grown up, has a crush,” Taehyung coos, and Jeongguk aims a kick at his butt. Taehyung shrieks, dodging it just in time, and runs towards the register with Jeongguk right on his tail. He gets pulled into a noogie, and he flails around, laughing, until he hears the bell on the door tinkling and Jeongguk freezes.
Taehyung pauses too, looking up at Jeongguk in confusion, before following his line of sight.
“Hello daddy,” Jeongguk murmurs, and Taehyung feels a shiver crawl up his spine as he drinks in Park Jimin in all his glory. He’s more put together today-- though that isn’t saying much, since Jimin always looks like he’s walked out of a high end couture magazine even after waking up in the morning-- and Taehyung physically has to grip Jeongguk around the waist to keep from falling.
Jimin’s in a low cut tank top, obviously meant to be a shirt but had been cut roughly, and bless whoever did because Taehyung can see every teasing line of his pectorals and his bulging biceps. He’s got on the tightest pants known to mankind, a snapback pulled on backwards, and large framed black sunglasses. If Taehyung didn’t know better he’d think Jimin was a model or idol who was trying to escape the paparazzi.
And idol or not, Jimin has a certain star quality to him-- confident, flirty, like he knows how he affects people, and doesn’t mind exploiting it whenever he wants. Taehyung’s not the only one sucked into it. Almost everyone in the shop is staring at him, and the closer Jimin gets, the more Taehyung can smell what is sure to be some sort of high end cologne on him (he’ll make a trip to Macy’s on the weekend and find out exactly what brand).
He wouldn’t mind choking and dying on it.
Jimin walks up-- saunters-- to the register and pauses, obviously set to say something, but thinks against it. That’s when Taehyung realizes he’s basically being choked to near death by Jeongguk’s firetruck-sized biceps and hastily extracts himself, running his fingers haphazardly through his hair in a vain attempt to brush it down.
“H-hi!” he tries, trying to regain use of his vocal chords.
“Hey,” Jimin drawls, looking between him and Jeongguk (who is standing there like a massive idiot and Taehyung would make fun of him later except he’d been doing the same thing) before tugging his lips up into a lazy smirk as he pulls off his glasses. If this were an anime, Taehyung thinks there would be sparkles all around Jimin right now, and a conveniently placed fan to make his hair blow back.
“Hectic morning?” he asks, and Taehyung lets out a laugh, though it probably sounds more like a hybrid between a sheep braying and a whine. Nice, Taehyung.
“Something like that,” Taehyung replies, elbowing Jeongguk, and the younger snaps out of it, mumbling something about scones before walking away.
“What can I get you this morning?” he asks, clearing his throat. Jimin leans forward, putting his elbow on the counter to rest his chin in his hand, and smiles playfully.
“I’ll get the usual,” he drawls. “You do remember it, don’t you?” It almost feels like he’s testing Taehyung. Like an implicit challenge. Taehyung gulps and nods slightly and grabs a cup and a sharpie. He writes down the order, before pausing, and looks up hesitantly at Jimin.
“Are you waiting for me to say my name?” Jimin asks, eyebrows quirked up. Taehyung flushes. “I’m sure whatever version of it you come up with will be much better.”
Taehyung half wants to laugh hysterically, half pass out, but he settles for writing Jimothy and a doodle of a pig with wings instead.
While Taehyung’s interactions with Jimin are limited purely to the coffee shop, Taehyung still manages to see Jimin around campus constantly. Jeongguk thinks he should just go up and say hi, and when Taehyung vehemently rejects the idea, he offers to shove Taehyung into Jimin instead.
(“It could be like one of those dramas! Maybe he’ll catch you and you’ll accidently kiss!”)
The truth of the matter is that Taehyung is too shy. No one would guess it, since he’s almost like the campus sweetheart, knowing most people by name, never too shy to go up to strangers and introduce himself.
But there’s that crippling self-doubt, buried underneath the sunshine smiles and the booming laughs. He doesn’t think he’d be good enough for Jimin. There was something deeply intimidating about him, despite everyone saying how sweet Jimin was.
There was also the matter of Jimin’s crew-- Namjoon, a well-known underground rapper, and Hoseok, a cut-throat street dancer. They were nearly inseparable, and because of how famous they were, they had an unapproachable air to them.
Not to mention all of them were socialites. Namjoon was the heir to a massive tech company. Rumor had it that his parents hated his rapping career, pressuring him to drop it to focus more on his studies. And Hoseok was a politician’s son, cunning, clever, and his smile was always bright, but sharp-- it could cut like a knife or soothe like balm-- no one wanted to be on his bad side.
And Jimin came from a long line of hoteliers. He’s a media darling, all sweet smiles and dark eyes. Despite his intimidating background, he was the most approachable of the three, and everyone on campus loved him. He was notorious for throwing massive parties at his parents’ resorts. Taehyung had heard they were legendary, but he’d never gotten an invitation. He keeps hearing from other friends that Jimin’s planning one soon, the biggest one yet, and something in his stomach twists.
“Your face looks ugly like that, hyung,” Jeongguk comments, mouth full of rice, and Taehyung snaps out of his daze to stick his tongue out at the younger. “And you’re being really obvious right now.”
“Am I?” Taehyung asks, lips pulled down into a worried frown, previous annoyance at evaporating into concern.
Yeah,” Jeongguk nods. “Like this--” He stretches himself out over the table, propping his head up on his elbow, and letting his eyes go blank and mouth fall open exaggeratedly. "You were almost drooling. You look like an idiot.”
Taehyung takes satisfaction from Jeongguk’s yelp of pain when he kicks the younger under the table.
“Why don’t you just say something. Like, it’d be easy to walk up to him and say like, Hi! I’m Taehyung! You come to the coffee shop right?” Jeongguk lets his voice drop an octave in a rather impressive imitation of Taehyung’s voice.
Taehyung stabs his salad forcefully, not meeting Jeongguk’s gaze. He can feel the younger’s confused gaze.
“It’s not like talking to people is hard for you, hyung. Like it’d make sense if it was me, but you?”
Taehyung just shrugs. “I don’t know. Like, he’s Park Jimin, he’s got abs and a Maserati. How the hell am I supposed to compete with that?”
He looks up to gauge Jeongguk’s reaction, and sees the younger tilt his head. “You’re… Kim Taehyung? You have a soft squishy tummy that’s good for napping on, and a purple Razor scooter that’ll get you anywhere on campus faster than a sports car.”
Taehyung narrows his eyes, not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult-- with Jeongguk, it could be both. He seems sincere enough, but Taehyung’s had enough of this conversation.
“I just.. don’t think he’d like me very much,” Taehyung says, and looks up, and looks down before lifting his gaze again. “Holy shit!” he hisses. “It’s the pink-haired dude!”
“What the fuck? Where?” Jeongguk scrambles, already sliding down his chair and making a spot for himself underneath the table. Taehyung snickers, collecting his bag and tray of food.
“He’s somewhere around! See ya later Guk!” And Taehyung turns around and practically skips out of the cafeteria.
He hears Jeongguk hissing, “What the fuck hyung don’t leave me here!” and laughs all the way to his Psych lab.
Taehyung doesn’t care much for routine. He likes spontaneity, surprises, because they always keep him on his toes. But Park Jimin is one of those things he’d rather keep routine, much like online class modules, and medicine.
He’d gotten used to Jimin coming into the shop in the mornings, ordering the same drink, and Taehyung would write another silly version of his name on the cup. Jimin didn’t even say his name anymore, it had just become very… routine.
And in some ways it’s better so that Taehyung knows what to expect and can prepare accordingly-- knows to take deep breaths, comb his hair, steal some of Seokjin’s expensive moisturizer.
So while Taehyung loves surprises, Park Jimin walking into the coffee shop at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night is definitely unwelcome. As are the butterflies that suddenly fill his stomach, the way his knees turn to jelly and his tongue into cardboard.
He’s in the middle of wiping down the table tops-- the shop closed at midnight, but no one with an ounce of common sense would be seeking caffeine this late unless it was finals week-- which it wasn't.
The bell on the door tinkles, and Taehyung looks up in surprise-- because not apparently everyone had that common sense. He opens his mouth to chirp out a greeting, but seeing Jimin walk in, dressed in dark blue scrubs, steals all the words from his throat.
Brain, consider yourself fried.
Jimin looks around the seemingly deserted coffee shop, a small frown tugging at the corner of his lips, and looks at his wrist to check his watch. The golden shine of Rolex snaps Taehyung into reality, and he coughs, getting Jimin’s attention, and puts the cloth down, wiping his hands on his apron before stepping behind the counter.
“Hi!” he says, smiling as pleasantly while cursing the gods for putting him in this situation. The day had been hectic, and he’s effectively frazzled, but Seokjin had left early (supposedly to go on a date, but he and Jeongguk called bull shit), and he’d kicked Jeongguk out because he had a statistics quiz in the morning. But he wishes he’d made Jeongguk stay for a bit, make him take Jimin’s order Taehyung could camp out in the kitchen until his crush was gone.
But here he is, smiling with all his power, hair most likely sticking up at different angles, and trying not to imagine a future Dr. Park Jimin.
“Hey,” Jimin says, voice low with exhaustion and something else Taehyung can’t decipher. His eyes, though naturally droopy, seem to angle down even more than usual, and Taehyung thinks he looks cute and harmless like this-- a much safer alternative to cut up tank tops and straining biceps.
He rakes his hand lazily through his wine red hair, the strands going back to settle over his forehead messily as his arms strain against the fabric of his shirt and-- nope never mind. Not safe. Definitely not safe.
“You’re not closed yet, are you?”
Taehyung shakes his head. “Nope,” He looks at the clock. “We close at midnight, and it’s currently 11:35 which means you have exactly twenty five minutes to decide what you want from the menu,” he says, and flashes his trademark grin.
“I don’t know if that’s enough time, actually,” Jimin replies, eyes playful. “I’m really feeling the time crunch here.”
And Taehyung laughs. It’s loud, he probably snorts twice, and he has to slap a hand over his mouth-- the windows might shatter otherwise. But Jimin just smiles in response, gaze hyper focused on Taehyung’s face, and he looks like the cat who caught the canary.
“You have the cutest laugh I’ve ever heard,” Jimin remarks, the comment slipping out uninhibited, and it seems like neither of them expected that, because Jimin’s flushing too, just not half as hard as Taehyung. He throws Jimin his box smile, a little sheepish, and tries not to melt.
“Thanks,” he says, a little winded. It feels like A Moment, in their own little bubble for a moment, and Taehyung can pretend that Jimin is genuinely interested in him, really notices him as a person and not just the silly barista who always spells his name wrong.
But. He is the silly barista who spells Jimin’s name wrong.
“Uhm,” Taehyung clears his throat, looking down at the register. “What can I get you tonight?”
Jimin seems to recover quickly, because his eyes have turned into crescents, his perfect, pearly white teeth showing as he pulls his lips back into a full smile. “Wow, you’re pretty serious about that time crunch, huh? I’m definitely feeling the pressure.”
Taehyung’s an affectionate person by nature, always handsy and genuinely interested in others and what they have to say. He likes approaching others and making new friends, and it often comes across as flirtation. So by default Taehyung can also be a very flirty person, and it’s not all that hard, but somehow, in this situation, he can’t come up with anything to say.
Jimin seems to notice that Taehyung isn’t going to respond, so he shifts topics. “Ah… I probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee this late, huh?”
“Not unless you want to be up until 5 AM and then crash,” Taehyung says honestly. His heart is still thudding against his chest. Will he ever get over Park Jimin? Probably not.
(“Will you ever do anything about Park Jimin?”
“Probably not. I’ll just live as a celibate forever.”
“Hyung, you’re not a virgin. And I doubt you’ll stop having sex just cuz you’re a massive loser with a crush. You're like a nympho or something.”)
Jimin laughs, and Taehyung thinks it sounds a lot like the tinkling of the bell on the door whenever Jimin walks in. “What would the chef recommend?”
Taehyung lets out another unearthly snort, and considers for a moment. “Hot chocolate? Just enough sugar to get you home safe and into your bed and then pass the fuck out.”
Jimin laughs again, and Taehyung wants to close his eyes to just drink in the sound, but he can practically hear Jeongguk calling him a dweeb in the back of his head.
“I’ll get the hot chocolate, then,” Jimin says. Taehyung smiles and bows exaggeratedly.
“An excellent choice, sir.”
Now it’s Jimin’s turn to snort, and he covers his mouth with the back of his hand, eyes practically disappearing, and Taehyung suddenly feels a thrum of confidence surge through his veins.
Taehyung keys in the order and Jimin pays and walks over to the other counter. This much is expected. What he isn’t expected is Jimin striking up a conversation this time while Taehyung is making the order.
“You know, I haven’t had hot chocolate since I was like, ten, maybe,” Jimin admits, leaning forward on the counter with his elbows. Taehyung looks up from steaming the milk, face aghast.
“A true crime,” he says seriously, and Jimin’s laughing again. “You know, just for that, I’m adding whipped cream and peppermint and cinnamon. Don’t try to stop me.”
Jimin beams. “I definitely won’t.”
It’s silent for a moment, as Taehyung works up the courage to ask what’s been bugging him since Jimin had walked in.
“So uhm. What exactly are you doing at a coffee shop this late on a Tuesday?” In scrubs looking like god's greatest gift to earth, Taehyung wants to add, but doesn’t.
Jimin seems just slightly thrown at Taehyung’s question, and looks down at his clothes, almost as though he has to remind himself as well.
“I volunteer at a clinic a couple days a week,” Jimin says, a little sheepish. Taehyung opens his mouth in shock.
“Oh! The one a couple blocks from here?”
Jimin raises his eyebrow, obviously surprised. “Yeah, you know that one?”
Taehyung nods vehemently, shaking the canister of whipped cream. “I volunteered there all my freshman and sophomore year.”
“Seriously?” Jimin seems genuinely interested and Taehyung doesn’t know what to do about it. “Why’d you stop?”
Taehyung shrugs. “My hyung-- he owns this shop and he needed some extra help,” Jimin nods at the explanation. “Plus I get paid, and as much as I wish it wasn’t a priority, we live in a capitalist society.”
Jimin huffs a laugh, and there’s an edge to it. “Isn’t that the truth.” Taehyung frowns at the obvious bitterness coloring Jimin’s face, and scrambles to alleviate the sudden shift in mood.
“What about you?” he asks, and Jimin seems to forget about the previous moment. He catches his bottom lip between his teeth, a little bashful.
“I’m applying to med schools soon so it’s good experience,” he explains.
“Oh!” Taehyung doesn’t mean to sound so surprised, but he had always figured Jimin would inherit the family hotel business or something along those lines.
“Yeah, it’s a little silly, isn’t it?” Jimin runs a hand through his hair again, sounding a little defeated. Taehyung shakes his head. “Well, my parents think so.”
“That’s quite possibly the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard,” Taehyung blurts out, suddenly angry. Jimin quirks up an eyebrow, and Taehyung attempts to salvage the situation. “I mean like, no offense to your parents or anything but. Being a doctor is pretty damn metal, in my opinion.”
Jimin’s lips tug up. “Thanks,” he says. “They think it’s a massive waste of time.”
Taehyung’s eyebrows scrunch together as he caps the lid on the hot chocolate. “I don’t know how well-versed you are in meme, but there’s one of this girl like holding out her hand and scrunching up her face like this--” Taehyung does his best to imitate the pose. “Like, bitch why?”
At this, Jimin slams his hand on the counter, letting out an excited noise. “I know the exact one!"
“I am literally that meme right now at your parents,” Taehyung says, secretly thrilled because Jimin knows his memes. Could he be any more perfect?
“Seriously,” Jimin nods, echoing the sentiment. Taehyung holds out the cup, and Jimin takes it, thanking him. Taehyung will not admit that he had deliberately made the drink slowly to keep the conversation going. Because now that Jimin has his drink, he has no reason to stay.
“ChimChim,” Jimin reads off the cup. “Never heard that one before,” he says with a smile.
Taehyung smiles crookedly. “Have you heard any of those nicknames before?”
Jimin laughs. “No, definitely not.” Taehyung expects Jimin to leave now, but the man just stays in his spot, fiddling with the sleeve on the cup. “They’re all pretty creative though. They make me laugh.”
Taehyung slaps his hand over his heart. “Then I’ve done my job. My soul can finally cross over into the next world,” he says dramatically, sniffing and wiping the corners of his eyes.
“Are you a theater major?” Jimin asks, eyebrows raised, eyes shining with amusement.
Taehyung shakes his head. “Cog Psych.”
Jimin’s eyes widen, and he whistles. “Holy shit. That stuff is hard. All that neurobio gives me the heeby jeebies,” he says with a shiver.
Taehyung snorts. “Says the dude who’s premed. Don’t you have to like, get straight A’s, volunteer, cure cancer, and bring world peace to even think about applying for med school?”
Jimin smirks. “Who says I haven’t done all that?”
Taehyung scoffs. “Okay then. Tell me what the cure to cancer is then.” Jimin’s smirk just grows, and he crooks a finger, motioning Taehyung to come closer. He leans forward on his elbows, and from this proximity, he can see Jimin’s plush lips in all their soft pink plush glory, and he’s a bit dizzy from the cologne (which he’d found out, after dragging Jeongguk with him to the mall, was in fact, Tom Ford).
“Seriously want to know?” Jimin asks, voice teasing. Taehyung nods. Jimin takes a deep breath, trying to build suspense, and Taehyung’s eyes widen. “There is no single cure to cancer.”
Taehyung pouts, bottom lip sticking out, and he’s so focused on not passing out from Tom Ford that he doesn’t notice Jimin’s gaze focusing on his mouth. “What a ripoff,” Taehyung mumbles.
“I mean. There’s like a million different types of cancer. They’re all like their own separate illnesses so you have to approach them in different ways. You wouldn’t be able to cure chicken pox and the flu with the same medicine, right?” Taehyung nods, a bit enchanted. “Same for cancer.”
“That sucks,” Taehyung says, pout deepening in sympathy. “That’s like a bazillion times more work and effort.”
“Some cancers have been cured though, so there’s hope,” Jimin tries, smiling again, and it’s dazzling.
“Wow, you really would make a good doctor,” Taehyung says sincerely. “If like ten years down the line, I get sick, I’d totally go to you.”
Jimin’s eyes soften at that. “I… that actually means a lot,” And when Taehyung’s eyebrows shoot up, he scrambles to explain. “I mean like. Usually people wouldn’t say things like that. Not that I’ve really told a ton of people or anything, just--”
“It’s chill! I know what you mean,” Taehyung cuts Jimin off. It’s strange, seeing Jimin babbling, a bit flustered. It makes him seem more… human. Less like a far off dream. “You deserve encouragement and support.”
Jimin smiles again, but it’s softer than usual. “That’s pretty rich coming from the guy who can’t even spell my name right.”
Taehyung gapes at him. “It’s a joke! It’s supposed to make you laugh! I’m fulfilling my destiny, remember?”
“True,” Jimin says, the word stilted by laughter. Taehyung thinks Jimin looks best like this, face flushed, smiling. He doesn’t look nearly as intimidating right now, and Taehyung finds himself falling deeper and deeper into his crush, and he doesn’t know how he’s going to stop himself from nosediving straight into this massive vortex that is his feelings for Park Jimin.
“I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself properly,” Jimin says. Taehyung tilts his head and makes a noise of confusion. Jimin sticks his hand out, and Taehyung shakes it. “I’m Park Jimin, fourth year bio major, premed.”
And Taehyung is so distracted by how soft and small Jimin’s hands are that he almost doesn’t hear what Jimin says. “Oh… uh--” Please don’t forget your own name right now. “--I’m Kim Taehyung, fourth year cog psych major, not premed because I don’t hate myself that much.”
Jimin snickers, and Taehyung things they shake hands for longer than appropriate. The conversation stilts for a moment when Taehyung slips his hand away, and he looks at the clock more out of a force of habit than anything else, but Jimin seems to notice.
“Shit, am I keeping you from closing up?” he asks, eyes brimming with genuine worry, and Taehyung shakes his head vehemently.
“No not at all!”
Jimin bites his lip, and seems to hesitate for a moment, before speaking up. “Mind if I hang around until closing?”
Taehyung’s eyes widen because holy shit Park Jimin wants to talk to me? “Don’t you want to get home soon? You must be exhausted.”
Jimin just shrugs. “Sticking around for--” he looks at the clock, “-- fifteen more minutes won’t hurt. And I’m a lot less tired now than I was coming in,” he admits, and Taehyung thinks there might be more behind the words, but he could also just be imagining things.
“I don’t mind at all, as long as you’re okay with me cleaning up around while you’re here.”
Jimin smiles mischievously. “Are you sure I won’t be a distraction?”
You’ll be an immense distraction, Taehyung thinks. But he’d never say that out loud. Instead, he deepens his voice dramatically and says, “You doubt my ability to multitask, my liege.”
And Jimin’s smile, as always, is enough to make Taehyung staying an extra thirty minutes past closing worth it.
“Are you sure you’re not a theater major?”