And seething doesn’t look good on him.
He’s drowned at least three flutes of champagne now, all within quick succession, and he’s had nothing to eat since breakfast that morning. As much as he’s not a lightweight, he’s beginning to feel that familiar light-headed feeling and it’s only making him feel worse.
When his betrothal to the Prince of Valaria had first been suggested to him, Jimin had balked at the idea. They’d lost family in the Wars of Andromeda, Jimin’s grandmother amongst them, but Jimin’s father was an idealist at his core. He’d promptly reminded him that the wars had ended and if they wanted everlasting peace, new bridges would have to be built. Still, Jimin hadn’t been keen on the idea of being the equivalent of a glorified trophy wife to the First Prince but Earth had no royalty, only an elected Council.
Jimin’s father, as it would happen, sat on that Council and was rather favoured by the people of Earth and the Intergalactic Federation. He was important enough that such a tie to Valaria would be significant and would foster good will between Earth and Valaria after years of bloody wars. And then there was the fact that the offer of marriage had been extended to Jimin by the Empresses of Valaria themselves.
He’d never thought his marriage would be anything but political so really, Jimin had no reason to be keen about the whole thing. He’d only hoped for a few more years of freedom; 25 seemed awfully young.
But the second Jimin had agreed, the engagement had been announced publicly and in another week, Jimin had stood across from his future husband, staring at the insufferably handsome face of one Jeon Jeongguk, First Prince of Valaria. They’d exchanged rings and Jeongguk had tied an intention to mate necklace around Jimin’s neck, finalizing the whole thing.
Since then, Jimin’s been to god knows how many charity and society events, all while smiling sweetly at Jeongguk’s side as they made small talk and laughed on cue at the lackluster humour of countless dignitaries and Federation head honchos.
But the worst thing, what drove him absolutely mindless, was seeing a steady string of people flirting with Jeongguk right under his nose. Did they think Jimin was invisible?!
He’d rather rudely stormed off when yet another dignitary’s daughter had fluttered her lashes up at Jeongguk and placed her hand on his bicep in what she must have thought was subtle. Maybe Jimin wouldn’t find it so irritating if Jeongguk even had a single clue about what they were doing but he just smiled all cheerfully and continued talking to them as Jimin was left to fume on his own.
Sulking in a corner had seemed like a good idea when he’d decided he’d had enough but now he’s just been left to watch as the son of the President of Erad keeps laughing so hard at everything Jeongguk says that he’s all but toppled over into Jeongguk’s arms. It’s entirely possible Jimin is going to crush his champagne flute in his hand.
Jimin and Jeongguk aren’t even that close yet but it’s the principal of the matter! They’re engaged and it was all very public and Jimin is only here, four hundred light years away from home, because they’re engaged. They’re supposed to be getting to know one another.
Yet, in the two months Jimin’s spent with Jeongguk, they’ve mostly just been forced to attend a million events with little time to themselves. How, Jimin had asked his mother countless times, were they supposed to get to know each other when someone always required Jeongguk’s attention?
It feels unbecoming to be so angry and upset, so jealous , but he can’t help it. He’s always been a little territorial of his friends and family, and Jeongguk is supposed to be his other half. More than that, he hates how it gets under his skin that everyone feels they can just waltz on up to Jeongguk and openly flirt with him while Jimin’s right there. It seemed intentional, like they think they can steal Jeongguk away.
He sucks in a big breath, eyes slipping shut and grip loosening on his flute. When he opens them, mind a little clearer, a waiter is walking past and Jimin plants the flute onto their tray.
They were on some rich lord’s estate for a soiree, and Jimin had heard he had quite an extensive garden with some of the most exotic plants from the universe over. Jimin draws himself up to his full height, head held high as he decides on his plan of action.
With determination in his steps, Jimin returns to Jeongguk’s side, and immediately gives the Eradi a sugary sweet smile before looping his arm through Jeongguk’s. They’d both been rather careful about touch but Jimin knew Valarians were a tactile species, which is perhaps why Jeongguk is so clueless when it comes to flirting.
“Babe,” Jimin whines, pouting as he looks up at Jeongguk with big eyes, “didn’t you say you’d show me around Lord Kel Vos’s garden?”
Jimin doesn’t spare the Eradi another glance, chin settled on the outward slope of Jeongguk’s shoulder. This close, Jeongguk is forced to only look at him and Jimin would sigh at how handsome Jeongguk is but he’s got a part to play. Jeongguk looks momentarily stunned, big eyes widening, perhaps surprised by Jimin’s rather straight-forward neediness but the alcohol’s loosened Jimin up enough that he feels little remorse for his shamelessness.
Plus, jealousy has a way of making Jimin act brattier than he quite liked.
Jeongguk blinks through his surprise, his hand finding Jimin’s where it rests on his forearm, and he cocks an eyebrow, smiling, “Of course, my love. My apologies for neglecting you.”
It’s Jimin’s turn to be surprised, the endearment catching him completely off guard as he pulls back just slightly. He feels the heat rise to his cheeks, but doesn’t drop his act. Instead, Jimin gives Jeongguk a shy smile, purposefully dropping his gaze demurely. He’s entirely too pleased with himself as Jeongguk turns back to the Eradi.
“If you’d excuse us, sir. It was a pleasure talking to you,” Jeongguk smiles, always polite. He makes the Eradi gesture to say goodbye before turning back to Jimin.
“Oh, o-of course!” the Eradi stutters, mimicking the gesture as he steps away from Jeongguk. Jimin still feels annoyed that it had taken so long but resists the urge to be rude. He already has what he wanted: Jeongguk’s attention.
“Let me see if Lord Kel Vos will allow us a private tour,” Jeongguk tells him, guiding Jimin toward their host as he cranes his neck to spot him. Jimin has to suppress his victorious smile and nods, thankful that he’d worn such a thin dress shirt to the event as the ballroom has grown rather stifling.
Jeongguk leaves him for a moment, confirming with Kel Vos before returning to Jimin, and offering him a small smile. There’s a guard following him, expressionless, as Jeongguk extends his arm out for Jimin to take. Jimin slips his arm through, one hand curled around the girth of Jeonguk’s thick bicep and the other settling in the curve of his elbow. He swallows, keenly aware of how small his hands look next to Jeongguk’s bigger form, and peers toward the guard.
“Allow me to show you the way, Your Highnesses,” the guard says, nudging his head toward the ballroom’s exit. Jeongguk and Jimin follow after him and Jimin allows himself to lean into Jeongguk’s sturdy frame, perhaps clingier than was entirely dignified.
They walk in a companionable silence, Jimin pleased to be on the receiving end of a few envious glares as they exit the ballroom. The guard leads them outside, where it's chillier. Jimin leans into Jeongguk’s warmth, now regretting the sheer, glittery material of his dress shirt and the billowly nature of the fabric. Plus, his shoulders and some of his upper arms are bare, the shirt’s cut done in such a way to reveal them, while covering up his neck and chest. The gold necklace Jeongguk had given to them at their engagement glitters in the moonlight of Nirol’s twin moons.
The planet had been much hotter during the day, and Jimin’s attire had been selected by his stylist with that in mind. It’s not as though Jimin had planned for a garden tour.
The guard steers them down a path made of uneven cuts of stone and despite the chill, the evening feels tranquil. It’s the most at peace Jimin’s felt since this whole engagement’s begun.
When they reach a set of large, iron-wrought gates, the guard greets two more guards standing at the entrance. One of them taps some kind of security clearance device attached to a wall and the gates begin pulling apart.
“His Lordship advised you are welcome to enjoy the gardens at your leisure, Your Highnesses,” ther guard advises them, extending an arm toward the entrance.
“Please give our thanks to Lord Kel Vos for his generosity,” Jimin returns, smiling. He slips from Jeongguk’s arm, excited to disappear into the thick foliage in front of him. Jeongguk says something to the guards but Jimin bears it no mind.
The stone path guides him through the trees and shrubs, allowed, almost, to grow as though it were a forest and not a garden. Jimin pauses at a cluster of yellow flowers, leaning down to stroke a delicate finger over a petal.
“You could be allergic to that,” Jeongguk says from behind him. Jimin’s head snaps in his direction and finds him standing a few feet away, his hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks.
If Jimin’s been dressed in crisp white, Jeongguk is in all black and in his full military regalia. He even has the golden collar wrapped around his neck, given only to the Commander of the Valarian Army. He’s let his hair grow out a little longer since their engagement, and has parted it down the middle tonight, the strands glossy with whatever gel he’s used. It makes him look older, sharp cheekbones and sharper jaw framed by his hair. Despite it, Jimin thinks his eyes are pretty, big and earnest. He’s handsome to a fault.
And needless to say, the sight of him, broad shouldered and imposing, sends something stirring in Jimin’s belly pleasantly.
Jimin looks down at his finger, finds it perfectly okay and holds it out to Jeongguk. “Looks like I’m fine.”
Jeongguk smiles, quite indulgent, and steps closer. He reaches out, taking Jimin’s hand in his own, touch reverent as he looks it over. “I’m simply asking you to be careful, babe .”
Jimin flushes immediately, eyes narrowing at Jeongguk before he resolutely looks away, arms crossing over his chest. He finds himself at a loss for words so he does the best thing he can, and ignores Jeongguk.
Walking further into the garden, Jimin allows his attention to be caught by the array of plants, ranging in size and colour, some even glowing in the dark. He finds those to be the most fascinating until he spots a massive tree further in the distance, eyes lighting up.
“Let’s go look at the tree!” Jimin exclaims, pointing toward it as he glances back at Jeongguk. His fiancé is only a few steps behind and nods, “Whatever you’d like, Jimin.”
Even hearing his name from Jeongguk’s lips sends Jimin’s heartbeat racing and he wonders why it's now that he’s gotten what he wanted, time alone with Jeongguk, that he feels suddenly nervous.
The walk to the tree doesn’t take long and to Jimin’s delight there’s a swing attached to one of the massive branches. A fountain stands in his way, with Niroli maidens pouring water out all around the circumference of the fountain. They’re made of gold, just like the massive creature in the middle spurting water upwards. Jimin doesn’t recognize it, imagines it’s native to Niroli. It reminds him of a dinosaur, ancient and imposing.
Mist from the fountain floats around them, leaving goosebumps against Jimin’s skin.
He’s so enraptured that he startles when he feels Jeongguk’s hand slide down his bare back, the diamond-shaped cut in the back of his shirt meant to reveal his shoulder blades and mid-back where the floral tattoo he’d gotten at 21 for his birthday rests. It’s pretty, and maybe Jimin had hoped it would catch Jeongguk’s eye.
His finger traces the design, touch hot as it sends shivers down Jimin’s spine. His mouth’s gone dry.
“It’s a little unfair, don’t you think?” Jeongguk says, voice low and sweet, his hand finally leaving Jimin’s skin only to curl into the gauzy fabric of the bow tails dangling from the neck of his shirt. The bow rests against the back of neck, an extension of his shirt, with the bow tails weighed down by jewels. His stylist had really outdone herself, even if now, Jimin wishes he was a little more covered up, shy.
“What’s unfair?” Jimin asks, a little hoarse.
Jeongguk shifts closer, mouth right at Jimin’s ear as he tugs on the bow tail, Jimin gasping as he falls back against Jeongguk’s chest. “That even in this beautiful garden, I still can’t keep my eyes off of you.”
Jimin’s eyes widen, heat rushing to his cheeks and cascading down his neck and rising up to his ears. Butterflies swarm in his belly and for the second time that night, Jimin feels too flustered to form any words.
An arm curls around Jimin’s waist, pulling him flush against Jeongguk, and it feels like his heart’s in his mouth.
“You seemed perfectly capable of ignoring me earlier,” Jimin finally manages, but he doesn’t dare pull away, enjoying the heat of Jeongguk’s body against his despite the way the cold, metal buttons of his jacket press into his bare skin.
“You’re quite cute when you’re jealous,” Jeongguk smirks, daring to press a kiss just behind Jimin’s ear. Want curls in his belly, nearly quivering. “I can’t help myself.”
That has Jimin spinning around, mouth gaping as he stares Jeongguk down incredulously. “You were doing that on purpose?!”
Jeongguk’s smile only grows until he’s laughing and it takes everything in Jimin to not send him barrelling backwards with a shove. Although a small part of him thinks Jeongguk wouldn’t even budge no matter how hard he tried.
“So you admit it,” Jeongguk teases and Jimin is so embarrassed, humiliation burning hotly in his belly and in his cheeks that he can hardly meet Jeongguk’s overly pleased gaze.
“I didn’t admit anything!” Jimin all but shouts, attempting to push past Jeongguk but true to suspicion, Jeongguk doesn’t budge. In fact, he grabs Jimin and just locks him in place, arms wrapped tightly around his middle.
Jimin’s left spluttering, annoyance frothing in with how incredibly turned on he is. He wishes the ground would simply yawn open and take him into its cold embrace. Instead, he’s caught in Jeongguk’s arms, the eyes he’d called pretty earlier looking at him with such an intensity now that Jimin’s words die in his mouth.
He feels like a sheep caught by a wolf.
Jeongguk holds him in place with just a single arm as a hand cups Jimin’s face, thumb tracing gently over Jimin’s lips. This is the most they’ve touched since their engagement and Jimin isn’t sure how much more of this he can take.
“Do you know,” Jeongguk starts, quiet yet mesmerizing, “the lengths I had to go to to convince my mothers that an alliance between us would be beneficial.”
“Ever since I first lay eyes on you, it’s only been you.”
This time Jimin voices his confusion out loud. “What? We’d never even ― ”
“I wouldn’t expect you to remember but I was there, for your 21st birthday,” Jeongguk interrupts him, smiling. “Things were still tense back then, between the Federation and Valaria, but when I saw you, I couldn’t see anything else.”
Jimin finds himself speechless for the third time that night and he’s beginning to think that Jeongguk is always going to render him dumbstruck. “You ― What?”
Jeongguk’s smile only grows, the backs of his finger stroking over Jimin’s cheek so lovingly it feels like too much all at once. “I suggested the engagement to them but I’d worried that you’d say no.”
So then...the Empresses hadn’t asked for his hand. Jeongguk had.
“Oh,” he offers, a little breathless. He’s reeling, thinks he can see the universe in Jeongguk’s eyes as they twinkle back at him. “So the engagement wasn’t…”
“It wasn’t my first time meeting you, no,” Jeongguk finishes, his arm loosening around Jimin. At this point, Jimin is too stunned to run away, his hands resting against Jeongguk’s chest as he blinks through the revelations Jeongguk is sharing with him.
“But how could you possibly know that ― that I was the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?” Jimin asks, gaze falling from Jeongguk’s eyes to his medals to his mouth. His chest feels too small for his heart. “We barely know each other even now.”
“I took a chance,” Jeongguk answers easily. “Followed what my heart was telling me. I have my whole life to get to know you.”
Jimin’s fingers curl into Jeongguk’s jacket, eyes landing on the engagement ring Jeongguk had slid onto his finger. He can’t think straight, overwhelmed by emotion.
Jimin had long given up on the idea of marrying for love. He’d thought Jeongguk had agreed to all this the same way he had, for duty’s sake, that they were both simply making the best of things.
“Jimin?” Jeongguk whispers, hands cupping Jimin’s face. Jimin finds his eyes blurry, Jeongguk’s face hazy in his vision. Jeongguk tsks, wiping at Jimin’s eyes gently.
The idea still feels like...like too much. That the universe had somehow given him an opportunity to build something he’d always wanted.
“Come on,” Jeongguk says softly, taking him by the hand and leading him around the edge of the fountain until they’re walking toward the tree Jimin had wanted to visit. Jeongguk brings him to the swing, painted white and adorned with flowers from the garden. There’s cushioning built into it and enough space for the both of them.
“Go on,” Jeongguk says, nudging Jimin to take a seat. He does, knees a little weak, and finds himself staring up at Jeongguk, his smile sweet.
Jimin feels the burst of confidence rush through him so suddenly and before he can stop himself, he’s surging forward and kissing Jeongguk, teeth clattering against each other. He’d stop to wince but the urgency won’t quell down, Jimin tugging Jeongguk closer harshly as his heart hammers against his chest, entire body tingling with satisfaction.
Jeongguk’s mouth is even softer than Jimin had imagined, a whine slipping out of him when Jeongguk nips at Jimin’s bottom lip, prying his way into Jimin’s mouth. When their tongues meet, Jimin finds himself panting, and Jeongguk’s shoving him back down, Jimin’s back hitting the swing.
The momentum has them flying backwards, their kiss breaking as Jeongguk manages to hop onto the swing last second, knees trapping Jimin’s thighs between them as one of his hands grip the back of the swing and the other curls into Jimin’s hair.
Jimin’s the first to laugh, Jeongguk soon joining him as they swing back and forth, hair fluttering in the cool breeze. But Jeongguk closes the gap between them quickly, impatient, capturing Jimin’s lips again. He wastes even less time to taste Jimin's mouth this time, sucking on Jimin’s tongue and tracing the curve of Jimin’s lips with his own tongue.
The swing slows down to a near stop but Jeongguk only kisses Jimin harder, pulling a lilting moan out of him as heat swarms in his belly, cock twitching in the confines of his already too tight pants.
“Jeon ― ” Jimin manages between kisses, finds himself being manhandled as Jeongguk switches their positions to drag Jimin into his lap. He goes easily, whining when Jeongguk’s hand smooths up his back, palm big and hot against his skin.
“Jeongguk,” Jimin tries again, their kisses slowing down as Jimin cups Jeongguk’s face in his hands, wanting to savour the heat of Jeongguk’s mouth, the taste of him.
The swing’s swaying back and forth again, motions smaller as they’re rocked gently. Jeongguk finally pulls back entirely, kissing the corner of Jimin’s mouth and then his jaw, arms pulling Jimin in nice and close.
“Too much?” he asks, breathless, looking up at Jimin.
Jimin shakes his head, feels content, like he’s been found. “Just right.”
Jeongguk grins, and it makes him look young, his age. Jimin suddenly feels too lucky, too happy, can’t keep the smile off his face.
“Does that mean you’ll be calling me babe more often?” Jeongguk asks, teasing and slightly hopeful.
Jimin flushes, gazing down at Jeongguk with his eyes half-lidded. “I’ll call you whatever you want, babe .”
“You might come to regret that, kitten,” Jeongguk smirks, laughing when Jimin loses his composure again and smacks Jeongguk in the chest.
“ Kitten ?”
“Yeah, my pretty little kitten,” Jeongguk insists, entirely too fond. It feels dangerous, the way Jimin’s heart skips a beat, like falling in love with Jeongguk would be too easy.
And maybe the thought does scare him but two months ago, Jimin had hoped they’d be good friends. Not whatever’s blooming between them now, hopeful and warm.
“Whatever,” Jimin mumbles, sinking down to curl up into Jeongguk’s sturdy chest. “Brat.”
Jeongguk laughs, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s head as he pets his hair. “You sure I’m the brat?”
“Yeah, I’m positive!” Jimin huffs, smile hidden in the curve of Jeongguk’s neck. “Princes always are.”
“Mm, you may be right there. Good thing you’re such a princess, then, huh.”
And Jimin can’t help but laugh, pleased that Jeongguk had no intention of just giving in to him. Maybe someone would finally keep up.