Kim Taehyung is many things. Friendly. Cheerful. Beautiful. Funny, even if Jimin says that you can’t call yourself funny, because that makes you un-funny. Whatever.
Taehyung would also like to add Observant to that list, because he is an expert at finding money on the ground. Jimin says that makes him more Lucky than anything else, but Taehyung knows that without his sharp eyes, he wouldn’t be able to spot the coins glinting on the ground as often as he does.
Looking for coins on the ground does not make him weird, okay. When you’re a broke astrophysics major in your third year of school, you become Observant. Besides, Taehyung has found a grand total of $1.03 in the past two weeks, which is $1.03 more than Jimin has found in the past two weeks, so Jimin’s probably just bitter.
Taehyung stops in his tracks. He could totally buy an ice cream from the 99-Cent Store with $1.03. He loves ice cream. Even 99-Cent Store ice cream. All ice cream is great, no hate. Except that Taehyung might be turning lactose intolerant, like his parents, but not even his faulty digestive tract will not keep him from loving ice cream with all his heart.
Or… he could try and find another three bucks and maybe get a really nice boba. It’s been a long while since he’d last splurged on a nice boba milk tea (hashtag collegelyfe), and he can feel the craving bubbling up.
He sighs. Delayed gratification it is.
He’s about to start walking again when something flashes on the ground, catching his eye. He stoops down to look at it.
It appears to be a necklace. A pretty nice one, too, judging by the size of the stone hanging off of it, but Taehyung knows nothing about jewelry except that it’s expensive. The chain on this one is silver-colored (it might be actual silver, but who knows), and the stone is an egg-shaped, polished amber thing. It might be amber. That’s a thing, right? Whatever it is, it’s pretty, and Taehyung decides he should probably take it to one of the campus Lost & Found stations. Or post a photo of it on Facebook and hope one of his friends or friends of friends knows who it belongs to.
He picks it up, and something like an electric shock zaps his hand. He yelps in surprise and almost drops the necklace, but is quickly distracted by the thing that just tumbled out of his mouth.
It’s small, about the size of a pea.
“What the hell,” he breathes, and feels something appear on his tongue. He scrunches his nose in disgust and wipes his tongue with the back of his hand—this garners a strange look from some passerby, but whatever, it’s not like he’s unused to that anyway—and comes away with a few chips of some sort of green stone.
Taehyung shuts his mouth. This is weird.
He has to tell Jimin about it, stat.
He puts the necklace in his pocket, and speedwalks as speedily as he can to his dorm.
Jimin is, surprisingly, in their room. Taehyung describes this as a surprising occurrence only because Jimin spends most of his free time in his not-boyfriend Yoongi’s room “studying,” or at Starbucks with aforementioned not-boyfriend Yoongi on a not-date.
“Jimothy!” he shouts. “You’re here! I didn’t even have to text you and beg you to stop making out with Yoongi—bleh.” That last part is because his mouth is full of rocks again, and Taehyung has to pause to spit them into his palm.
Jimin looks up from his phone. He’s sitting on his (unmade) bed, back propped up against the wall. “Gross, Tae. What are you—” Taehyung shoves his handful of saliva-covered precious stones in his best friend’s face. “Ew! Get that away from—what the fudge?”
“I know, right?” Taehyung says excitedly, spewing three small rubies out as he does so. They fall to the floor. Good thing they have carpet. Then again, Taehyung remembers that they haven’t vacuumed said carpet since the start of the school year, and it’s almost midterm season, so ew.
“Did you… did you make these?” Jimin whispers, eyes wide. Taehyung isn’t sure whether that’s awe or horror in his expression. Maybe both. To be honest, Taehyung doesn’t know how to feel about this development either.
“I guess,” he says, and what comes out this time is another small ruby and a larger purple stone.
“I’m calling Yoongi,” Jimin says abruptly.
“What? Why? How is Yoongi supposed to help?” Another small shower of gems.
Jimin points at their newly jeweled carpet. “Pick those up and put them somewhere. And please wash your hand.”
Taehyung pouts and grabs a tissue from the box on his desk, then scrapes his handful of gems onto it. Then he gets on his hands and knees to pick up the rest.
“Hey, hyung. I have a Situation.” Taehyung can sense the capital-S in the word. “No, nobody’s dying—don’t you dare hang up—Taehyung is puking up jewels, okay, I think that qualifies as a Situation.” A pause. “Okay, see you in ten. Thanks. You’re the best.” This is met with embarrassed squawking on the other end. And with that, Jimin hangs up.
“I’m not puking up jewels,” Taehyung protests. “That’s a bit dramatic.” He gets more on the carpet. This is starting to get a little annoying, but he dutifully picks them up and puts them on the tissue, too.
“Why don’t you just hold a tissue below your mouth to catch them?” Jimin suggests.
“A genius idea,” Taehyung says, catching the three pearls that tumble out in his left hand while he reaches for another tissue with his right.
Jimin stares at him. “Are those things even real?”
“Who knows?” He shrugs. “We could get them appraised. Hey, now there’s an idea. Maybe I could pay off my loans with these.” He’s kind of starting to get used to the feeling of little stones appearing in his mouth as he speaks. It’s kind of like a tooth falling out and then rolling off his tongue. Ugh, that’s a gross mental image. Forget that.
“Might need a few more rocks than that,” Jimin says.
“I could read a few fanfics out loud.”
“Please don’t do that,” Jimin says. But it’s too late. Taehyung grins and pulls his phone out of his pocket, where he has a browser tab open already. Jimin groans. “Please, Tae, not the gay volleyball anime shit.”
“I have to do something while we wait for your not-boyfriend to get here,” Taehyung whines loudly. The jewels that spill out are significantly larger this time around. He freezes, then looks up at Jimin.
“I don’t like that glint in your eye,” Jimin says.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“I hope not.”
Taehyung grins, clears his throat, and begins reading at the top of his lungs. “‘It’s always been you, Haru!’ Makoto cries—”
“Wait, this isn’t the gay volleyball shit.”
“No, it’s the gay swimming shit.”
“Because I finished all the gay volleyball shit,” Taehyung says simply. “Now, where was I? Right. THE TALLER MALE’S GREEN EYES SPARKLED WITH TEARS—”
Jimin sobs. “Why can’t you at least pick good fic?”
Taehyung switches tabs. “This one has ‘Spanking’ as one of the tags, and I’m pretty sure that’s one of your kinks—”
“WHY AM I FRIENDS WITH YOU?”
“Because you love me,” Taehyung sings, and delights in the clarity of the diamonds that roll off his tongue.
This was probably not what Yoongi had expected to hear as he approached their door, but when the knock on their door comes, Taehyung is in the middle of channeling his inner Whitney Houston as loudly as he possibly can, just to see how big a jewel he can make. The largest one so far has been about half the size of an egg, and he’d almost chipped his tooth on it.
Jimin practically flies across the room to yank the door open. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Jimin says, desperation raw in his voice.
Taehyung is sitting on the floor, phone in hand. He grins innocently and flashes a peace sign at a very disheveled-looking Yoongi with a bulging messenger bag slung over his shoulder.
“Don’t try to act cute, it’s disgusting,” Yoongi says. “Why did I hear you screaming from outside your building?” He sits down on Jimin’s bed. Jimin settles down next to him.
“I was experimenting,” Taehyung explains. His throat is a little hoarse. The gems that come out are less polished this time around.
“Holy shit,” Yoongi says. “Taehyung, did you give any old ladies a drink of water, by any chance?”
“What? No.” Two teardrop-shaped pieces of jade. Taehyung inspects these more closely. They would make nice earrings for his mother. He puts them in his pocket, only for his fingers to brush the chain of the necklace he’d found earlier. “This started when I picked this up,” he says, pulling the necklace out of his pocket.
Yoongi stares at him silently for a moment.
Jimin bursts out, “Why didn’t you show me that at first?”
“Because you were all like ‘I’m calling Yoongi-hyung,’ and I was like, ‘Okay,’ and then I got distracted by swimming anime fanfic.”
“I’m going to kill Namjoon,” Yoongi hisses suddenly.
Taehyung blinks. He only vaguely knows Namjoon, a third-year like Jimin and Taehyung. Philosophy major, raps with Yoongi sometimes. Taehyung stans Namjoon’s parts on their Cypher tracks just a little bit more aggressively than he stans Hoseok’s and Yoongi’s, but shhh. They don’t have to know.
“Wait, what does Namjoon have to do with anything—”
Yoongi closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “You, Kim Taehyung, have been cursed.” He points. “By that necklace.”
“Oh,” Taehyung says, and it comes out as a tiny chip of sapphire, just as Jimin says, “What.”
There’s a dramatic silence, but then Taehyung says, “Pretty sweet curse if you ask me, though,” and Yoongi says, “No, it’s not sweet, it’s awful and might potentially kill you.”
“Oh,” Taehyung says again, but sadly this time. “Thanks for stomping on my optimism.” A sad shower of topaz shavings. He puts the necklace back in his pocket.
“Stop talking,” Yoongi commands. “I don’t want anything to get worse before I get Namjoon’s stupid ass over here.”
Taehyung exchanges a look with Jimin, who just shrugs helplessly.
His throat feels a little dry.
Yoongi types furiously on his phone for a few seconds, then sighs, exasperated. “You probably have a lot of questions,” he says, looking at Taehyung.
“I have questions too,” Jimin says, frowning. “Like how is Namjoon going to help?”
Yoongi pauses. “Jimin, there is a lot of weird shit you don’t know about Namjoon.”
Jimin frowns harder. “Does it have to do with that weird scrapbook of yours?”
“I do not have a scrapbook.”
“Yoongi, I have seen the scrapbook. I have touched the scrapbook. You have told me, ‘Jimin, don’t touch the scrapbook.’ You have a scrapbook.”
“It’s not a scrapbook,” Yoongi sniffs. Taehyung stifles a snicker.
Jimin gives a long-suffering sigh. “Oh yeah? Then what is it?”
“A field journal.” If Taehyung didn’t know Yoongi better, he would say that Yoongi looks sulky, but Min Yoongi does not sulk. Taehyung had learned that lesson once when he called Yoongi a sulky baby back when he first started pining hopelessly after Jimin when Jimin was a first-year and Yoongi was a second-year. (He’s still pining, the idiot. They’re both idiots and it is Hoseok and Taehyung’s shared life goal to someday get them together.)
Yoongi pulls a thick leather-bound notebook out from his messenger bag. The notebook is practically bursting at the seams, stuffed full of post-it notes and index cards and—Taehyung notes—what looks like several different types of leaves poking out at the edges of the pages. It smells like old paper, allspice, and a hint of something peppery.
“Field journal,” Yoongi repeats, brandishing the notebook for good measure. There are cracks in the leather. Taehyung wonders, idly, how old it is. Or maybe it’s not old at all, just made to look vintage for The Aesthetic™.
“Aren’t field journals for bird-watching?” Taehyung asks, spewing peridots everywhere.
Yoongi scowls at him. “I told you not to talk, idiot. This isn’t a bird-watcher’s field journal. Do I look like a bird-watcher to you?”
“I dunno, crow tit,” Taehyung replies. Amethysts. “Do you?”
Jimin snickers. Yoongi shoots Taehyung an Extra-Strength Death Glare. Taehyung just grins back in response. Yoongi can glare all he wants, but that won’t change the fact that his laptop background is literally an HD photo of a chubby blue tit bird.
“You’re so weak for tits,” Taehyung sings, spraying a medley of jade chips and something pink. Rose quartz? That’s a thing, right?
Jimin snickers and covers his mouth quickly.
“Shut the fuck up, Taehyung. What did I tell you about not talking?” Yoongi says, scowl darkening.
Taehyung pantomimes zipping his lips.
“Look, I didn’t want to have to tell you guys like this.” He pauses. “Or possibly ever. Especially not you, Taehyung. You make everything weird.”
Hurtful. Taehyung keeps quiet, but he lets his lower lip jut out in a pout so that Yoongi can feel his displeasure.
“I’m a wizard,” Yoongi says, just as someone pounds loudly on the door. “Oh, about time, Namjoon.” He points at Taehyung. “Go get the door. I don’t want to get up.”
Taehyung does, reeling a little bit from this new piece of information. Seriously, what?
Also, come to think of it, if Yoongi’s a wizard, couldn’t he have just magicked the door open? Taehyung doesn’t really buy that Yoongi’s a wizard. Taehyung plays Dungeons and Dragons. He would know a wizard if he ever saw one, and Yoongi does not seem like a wizard. Yoongi’s too lazy to be a wizard. They have to, like, actually study to learn magic. Taehyung doubts that Yoongi would even care enough to bother learning the Level 1 spells, like Grease and Hideous Laughter, and those are easy. He would be a Level 0 wizard forever, if he were actually a wizard.
“Hi,” Namjoon says when Taehyung opens the door.
“Yoongi says he’s a wizard,” Taehyung says, letting the stones in his mouth dribble out as he speaks.
“Oh, yeah. He is.” Namjoon squints at him. “Nice curse you got there.”
“It’s your fault, dipshit,” Yoongi calls from where he’s sitting on Jimin’s bed. “Tae, show him the thing.”
Taehyung draws the necklace out of the pocket of his jeans again.
“Were you ever going to tell me that you lost the magic necklace?” Yoongi says, crossing his arms. He looks like somebody’s tiny angry grandmother when he does that.
Yoongi pinches the bridge of his nose. “For fuck’s sake, Joon. It’s dangerous and we don’t know what’ll happen to Taehyung now that he’s touched it.”
“Well, for starters,” Namjoon says, “it might be a good idea to stop making him touch it. Maybe if he doesn’t carry it on his person it won’t work.”
Taehyung drops the necklace like it’s a hot coal.
“Great, now we’ll need to pick that up,” Yoongi grouses. He rummages around in his messenger bag and comes up with a pair of forceps.
Jimin stares. “You just... have those with you?”
“I have a lot of things with me.” Yoongi picks up the necklace gingerly with the forceps, and drops it into a ziploc bag.
“Wait, can we go back to the part where you said you’re a wizard?” Jimin asks. “Like, what house are you?”
“Hogwarts isn’t real, Jimin,” Yoongi says tiredly.
“Darn.” Jimin pauses. “But did you ever take the Sorting Hat quiz?”
“We’ll have to fix that sometime,” Jimin says cheerfully, before asking, “Is Namjoon a wizard?”
“No, he’s a human who likes collecting magical artifacts.” Yoongi scowls. “His whole family is a bunch of collectors. People like them make my life harder.” He looks exasperated. “Especially when they promise to let me help them and then don’t keep me informed when bad things happen.”
“I have another question,” Jimin says. “How do we help Taehyung?”
“Leave that to me and Yoongi,” Namjoon says. “We’ll figure something out. I was planning to study this artifact anyway, so I’ll probably be able to find something about how to neutralize its effects. And Yoongi can probably make you a suppressant.”
“It’ll take a while,” Yoongi tells them. He suddenly looks exhausted. “I have a test in linear algebra tomorrow, and I really can’t afford to fail that. Sorry, Tae. But after tomorrow morning I’ll focus on making you a suppressant, one hundred percent.”
Taehyung nods. Linear algebra had been awful when he took it last year. That’s reasonable. Taehyung still can’t believe that Yoongi has a Saturday a.m. linear algebra class. Like, what?
“In the meantime—” Yoongi scrunches up his nose. “—don’t talk.” He pulls a whiteboard and marker out of his messenger bag. “You can borrow this.”
“Again,” Jimin says, “you just... have those with you?”
“...What kind of unprepared loser do you take me for?” Yoongi looks miffed. Taehyung could make a joke right now. He totally could. But he doesn’t.
“Wow. What else do you have in that bag?” Jimin raises an eyebrow, looking mildly impressed.
“Six pounds of crack cocaine,” Yoongi deadpans.
Taehyung laughs, and gems spray everywhere.
“No laughing either, Tae,” Yoongi adds. He looks vaguely apologetic. “It’s just that—”
“This is supposed to be a blessing,” Namjoon cuts in. “But it’s been contained in an object for who knows how long, and we don’t know if it has a ‘best by’ date.”
“Is that it?” Jimin asks. “Just don’t talk or laugh?”
“Okay.” Jimin nods. “I’ll keep an eye on him. Go study your gross linear algebra.”
Yoongi sighs. “Thanks. C’mon, Namjoon. You’ve gotta help me.”
“Just because I’m minoring in mathematics—”
Yoongi gives Taehyung a pat on the shoulder as he leaves. “Don’t worry, Taehyung. Hyung is good at what he does, and your curse probably isn’t fatal.”
Taehyung uncaps the marker and writes a message on the whiteboard to show Jimin: “Yoongi’s bedside manner is awful.”
A day or so without laughing and talking, until Yoongi comes up with a suppressant or a cure. Taehyung can do it.
Taehyung can’t do it.
Not because he has no self control, but because the situation is inescapable. He’d forgotten that he was going to hang out with Mark and some other friends from D&D club. And if it hadn’t been for Mark’s “Just making sure everyone’s still good for tonight!!” text that comes about an hour after Yoongi and Namjoon leave, Taehyung would have totally missed it.
He sits up, hair probably sticking up in a mess because he’s been doing nothing but lying down and watching video game playthroughs on YouTube.
Jimin’s out for a late-afternoon class, so he can’t exactly ask him for guidance. Jimin’s always been the more reasonable of the two of them.
Taehyung gnaws on his lower lip anxiously. Yoongi said not to talk. D&D involves talking. But they only get together once in a blue moon (not literally), and they’re trying to resume a mission to escort an exiled elf king to his rightful kingdom safely. It’s rare that the members of his group are able to meet up, because everyone has different schedules, and Taehyung doesn’t want to be the one to ruin the gathering.
Screw it. Kim Taehyung may be cursed, but he’s tough enough to weather a little magical weirdness. He grabs his character sheet and pencil, his key, and a wadded-up eight dollars that he finds on his desk, and makes his way out the door before his better judgment can follow him.
Campus is actually pretty dead today. It’s a Friday afternoon—poor Jimin is stuck in cognitive neuroscience until 6:30—so Taehyung imagines that everyone’s either getting ready for a party or a night out on the town.
Not Taehyung. He’s going to kill some orcs and bring the Lost King to reclaim his rightful throne.
They all usually gather at Mark and Jackson’s suite. Mark and Jackson’s suitemates have long since stopped trying to understand what exactly it is they do when they have people over, and sort of just watch from a safe distance away with a sort of horrified fascination.
D&D has a geeky rep. Doesn’t make it any less fun. Besides, Taehyung wholeheartedly embraces his geekiness—what kind of astrophysics major would he be if he didn’t?
One of the suitemates, Jinyoung, opens the door. “Taehyung’s here,” he calls over his shoulder, rolling his eyes. “Let the nerd fest continue,” he mutters, but it’s good-natured.
“Says the lit major,” yells Jackson from inside the suite. Jinyoung steps aside to let Taehyung in.
Taehyung gives Jinyoung a sunny grin as greeting. Jinyoung frowns.
“You’re quieter than usual. You okay?” Points for being observant. Jinyoung should consider forensic science.
Taehyung points to his throat. “Loud tour yesterday. My voice is dead.” Gems pile up in his mouth.
“That sucks. I was a tour guide before.”
“Why’d you stop?” It comes out a little slurred. Jinyoung doesn’t notice.
“High school girls kept hitting on me.” He pauses, looking disgruntled. Yep, that’s an occupational hazard. “Also, I may or may not scared a few rowdy prospects off with my death glare.” The left side of his mouth quirks upward. “‘S what they get for putting me on a Saturday morning when I told them I couldn’t do a Saturday morning.”
“How dare,” Taehyung says.
“V, get over here,” Jackson yells, referring to the name of Taehyung’s D&D character, a half-elf cleric. While Jinyoung turns to look at him, Taehyung takes the chance to subtly spit into his palm and tuck the saliva-covered gems into his sweatpants pocket. Thank goodness these pockets are so huge—hopefully, he’ll be able to store the whole night’s worth of gems in there.
Living La Vida Mocha is, predictably, nearly deserted at this hour.
Jungkook is on a shift with Seokjin, a grad student who works something like three part-time jobs to make ends meet while he works on that public relations MA. The campus coffee shop is just one of the three. Seokjin hasn’t revealed what the other two are, but Jungkook has a grand time guessing. It’s their main subject of discussion when they’re on the Friday evening shift together.
“Maybe you’re not even a grad student,” Jungkook says, propping himself up with his elbow on the counter while Seokjin wipes down the tables for the third time. They’re immaculate, now. But Seokjin doesn’t feel good about staying idle, even if there’s really nothing to do on this shift. “Maybe you’re a secret agent, and this is all a cover.”
“Secret agent, huh?” Seokjin straightens up to look at him. “What makes you say that?”
“I don’t know, aren’t secret agents supposed to be good-looking?”
“You think I’m—”
“Nope, I take it back now. You’re not smooth enough to be a secret agent.”
“I’m smooth.” Seokjin arches an eyebrow. “Tell you what. I’ll get whoever next walks through the door to give me their number.”
“You’re on.” Not like anyone’s going to come in. It’s late on a Friday afternoon, and everyone’s probably making plans to get wasted at a party. Not exactly Jungkook’s type of scene, which is why he’d been okay with taking the Friday evening shift. It gives him a clean and simple excuse for not having to go to places crammed full of people.
Chimes tinkle as the door opens. Jungkook immediately straightens up and goes back to the register, while Seokjin puts his rag down.
It’s Yoongi, black hair sticking up in funny-looking tufts, with a completely dead look in his eyes.
Seokjin grins at Jungkook and says, “Yoongi, I lost my contacts the other day. What’s your number again?”
Jungkook glares at him. “This doesn’t count. You know Yoongi-hyung.”
“What?” Yoongi squints at them for a heartbeat and takes a seat at the table closest to the register. Then, “Wait, no, I don’t care. Jungkook, I need the biggest possible caramel macchiato you can give me, with like six shots of espresso.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not good for you.”
“Do I look like I care?” Yoongi scoffs. “Besides, I’m magic.”
“You keep saying that, but I doubt it,” Jungkook says. “Magic at what, exactly?”
“You’d better not make another reference to your own damn song again,” Seokjin says.
Yoongi just points at himself. “Tongue technology.”
“What the fuck does that even mean,” Seokjin groans, exasperated.
“Feel free to interpret it however you want.” There’s no greasy wink after that statement, thank the heavens. Jungkook doesn’t think he’d be able to handle that.
“Gross, Yoongi. Are you flirting with me?”
“Hey, it’s your mind in the gutter, Jin.”
Jungkook sets about making a caramel macchiato, though he resolves to only add three shots of espresso. The healthy amount for adults to consume is 400 milligrams, and like hell Jungkook is going to be responsible for killing the senior comp sci major—he’s pretty sure that the amount of caffeine going into this drink is below those 400 milligrams.
“I mean it, though,” Yoongi says. “I’m magic. Caffeine won’t fuck me up.” He thumps his chest. “Takes more than that to kill Min Yoongi.”
“So many words from that tiny little mouth,” Seokjin says, sliding into the chair across from Yoongi. “This is how I know you’re really sleep deprived. What happened to the reticent rascal I know and love?”
Yoongi jabs a finger in his general direction. “First of all, keep your fancy words to yourself. Secondly, no gratuitous alliteration while I’m in the process of dying, thanks.”
“Says the one who supposedly possesses a supernatural skill for constructing sentences,” Seokjin all but sings, hissing on every S.
Yoongi turns his attention back to Jungkook. “How’s that Americano coming?”
“You ordered a caramel macchiato,” Jungkook reminds him.
“Oh. Oh, cool.”
“When’s the last time you slept, Min Genius?” Jungkook asks.
Yoongi squints, waving his hands about vaguely like he’s clearing dust away. “Hmm. Good question. I’ve been napping here and there.”
“How much in total?”
“Uh... two hours in the last forty-eight or so,” he admits.
“How are you still alive?”
“Told you. I’m magic.” Yoongi looks a little proud. Seokjin looks exasperated.
“You keep saying that,” Jungkook says, “and yet... you still haven’t managed to astound and amaze me with any card tricks.”
“Card tricks,” Yoongi scoffs. “Here, I’ll give you a card trick. Hand me one of those business cards.”
Seokjin gets up to grab it for him, seeing as how Jungkook is busy pulling the third shot of espresso.
Yoongi closes his eyes and turns the card over in his hands, then hands it to Seokjin. “Rip it in half and give one to Kookie.”
“Congratulations, you now have two cards when you once had one,” Yoongi says, and slumps forward on the table. His forehead hits it with a soft thunk.
“Are you okay?” Jungkook asks.
“No,” comes the muffled reply.
Seokjin hums. “This is advanced Tired Yoongi. Let me guess—linear algebra?”
“The one thing my magic can’t save me from: math.”
“Hashtag relatable,” Jungkook says, putting extra whipped cream in Yoongi’s drink. He needs it.
“Jeon, did you seriously just say ‘hashtag’ out loud like it’s an actual word. You’re disgusting and I hate you.”
“Love you too, hyung.” Jungkook comes out from behind the counter to set the extra large macchiato in front of Yoongi. “Careful, it’s hot, and to be frank I don’t trust you with hot beverages right now.”
“Why would you want to be Frank?” Seokjin says, and promptly bursts out laughing at his own awful joke.
“That’s fair,” Yoongi mumbles, ignoring him. “I don’t trust myself right now either.”
Seokjin pulls the drink away from him as he raises his head from its resting place on the tabletop. “You know, you’re so lucky that I spent the last hour before you came in cleaning the tables.”
Seokjin takes a stirring stick and scoops off a bit of Yoongi’s whipped cream, then spreads it on Yoongi’s nose. Yoongi’s eyes flash briefly with murderous rage, but it’s quickly quelled. “Millions of bacteria, Yoongi. Millions. Billions, even.”
Yoongi points at himself. The melting whipped cream is still on his nose, a little white splotch on alabaster skin. “Party on my face. Bring all your friends, germs. Fuckin’ bring it on. I can take your tiny germ bodies.”
“You’re worrying me a little, hyung.”
Yoongi laughs and takes a swig of his drink.
“Is this what he’s like when he’s drunk?” Jungkook asks Seokjin.
“Pretty much,” Seokjin says. “Who needs alcohol when you’ve got chronic sleep deprivation and a math test coming up?”
“And if that wasn’t bad enough,” Yoongi says—there’s whipped cream on his upper lip—“Jimin’s weird roommate is having trouble and I have to help him.”
Ah, yes, Jimin. Park Jimin. Jungkook has seen him Around before. He’s a dance major, and in spring quarter of last year, Yoongi had made Jungkook come with him to Jimin’s showcase just so that “it wouldn’t be creepy” and so that Jimin “doesn’t get the wrong idea, Jungkook, if I show up by myself with these flowers he’ll think I like him or something.” Jungkook doubted that having him stand there off to Yoongi’s side while Yoongi gave Jimin a bouquet of roses—red roses, to be exact!—made the gesture any more platonic, but somehow, Yoongi failed to ask Jimin out and Jimin failed to get the hint.
The Yoonmin Journey, as Jungkook likes to call it, has been a wild ride thus far. It’s almost as entertaining as the Avengers Assemble cartoon on Disney XD.
Jungkook is a fan.
“When you say ‘trouble,’” Seokjin begins slowly, “does this involve anything criminal?”
Yoongi squints at him. “No. No, Jin, there were no drugs involved this time.”
“What do you mean ‘this time’?” Jungkook blurts out.
Yoongi ignores him. “The weird roommate has massive allergies and for some weird reason Jimin asked me for help.”
“You just want us to tell you that it’s because he likes you, right.”
Yoongi sputters. “What—”
“You don’t make conversation, Yoongi. Unless it’s Jimin-related, and your massive insecurities need reassuring. So yes, Yoongi, he likes you.” Seokjin rolls his eyes.
Yoongi hunches down. The tips of his ears are pink. “Shut up.”
“You should ask him out,” Jungkook says. “And soon.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because if you don’t, I’ll steal him,” Jungkook proclaims.
Yoongi just stares at him blankly.
“I mean it, hyung. You talk about him so fondly all the time, and he’s really cute. I could ask him to get coffee—”
“Jimin doesn’t like coffee,” Yoongi interjects automatically. “He likes hot chocolate.”
“Fine. I’ll ask him to get hot chocolate with me, and then we’ll get married, and have two dogs, and I’ll carry three of his children—”
Yoongi narrows his eyes. Staring contest. Jungkook accepts the challenge. “First of all, Jeon, you stutter and blush like a little baby every single time a cute person so much as breathes your way.”
“I’m offended,” Seokjin says. “I’m cute. Jungkook doesn’t stutter around me.”
Jungkook stops staring at Yoongi to turn to Seokjin. “No, I used to. I had to avoid this place for weeks last year because you were too intimidating to order from.”
“I am no longer offended.”
“Furthermore, ” Yoongi cuts in, “you wouldn’t dare.”
“And why not?” Jungkook blinks innocently. “What would happen?”
“Nothing you can prove.”
Seokjin bursts out laughing. “Wow, Yoongi. So much rage in such a tiny little body. Park Jimin is lucky to have you.”
“I mean it, though,” Jungkook says. “Get a move on, or someone else will. You’ve been pining over him for, like, two years. An entire two and two-thirds babies could have been born in that time, dude.”
“I don’t think that’s how babies work, Jungkook.” Yoongi shakes his head, the rage leaving him in favor of total bewilderment.
“Shut the fuck up, I took health in high school. I know how this shit works.”
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thank you for not making Jeon Jungkook a doctor,” Seokjin sighs.
Yoongi drains the rest of his drink. “He makes damn good coffee, though. The man isn’t just an artist.”
Jungkook puts his hand out. “You could pay me, to show your appreciation.”
Yoongi sighs and digs around in his pocket.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Take me out for lamb skewers sometime,” Jungkook says. He never lets Yoongi pay, ever since Yoongi took him under his wing at the start of Jungkook’s first year. “Or, like, ask Jimin out so that when you feel the need to write songs about him it’s less obsessed-stalker and more admiring lover.”
“Please never say ‘lover’ again.”
“Ask Jimin out.”
“Then I will eventually stop saying ‘lover,’” Jungkook replies. Seokjin snorts.
“See you around, hyung,” Jungkook says, as Yoongi slings his messenger bag over his shoulder and gets up from his seat.
“If linear algebra doesn’t eat me alive tomorrow,” he quips in response.
“How on earth did you get stuck with linear algebra on Saturday morning?” Jungkook says.
“Hell if I know. The universe just has it out for me.” Yoongi scowls.
“You’ll be fine, Min Genius,” Seokjin says. “And even though you don’t need it—good luck.”
“You’ve got me confused with Namjoon,” Yoongi says. “He doesn’t need luck—I do. Thanks.” And with that, he exits.
“Maybe you should fake-ask Jimin out,” Seokjin muses as the door swings shut.
“What? No. I can’t do that. I’m sure that violates some rule of the bro code.”
“Jungkook, Kookie, sweet little Jungkook. The bro code is dead. It died along with quiffs and leggings under shorts in the mid-2000s.”
“You’d be helping Yoongi out, really.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“Because Yoongi likes you and won’t actually murder you,” Seokjin says brightly.
“Also, I’m way better looking than Yoongi, and Jimin would undoubtedly fall for me on our fake date like some character in a cliched fanfiction.”
“The Lost King dangles above the cauldron, secured by the ankles with only a rope,” Jackson intones in his Dungeon Master voice. “The orcs are hungry.”
“The Lost King fucking sucks,” Bambam mutters. “What is this, the fifth time he’s been kidnapped on the road to the Elven Kingdom?”
“It’s because he lacks dexterity,” Youngjae offers.
“He’s an elf. He’s supposed to have all the fucking dexterity,” Bambam whines.
Yugyeom holds up a finger. “Actually, a Wood Elf’s best stat is their constitution.”
“Yeah, well, I’m literally a half-orc and I’m doing better than the Lost King.”
“The Lost King says ‘Fuck you, Bambam,’” Jackson says.
“What a bitch,” Bambam mutters darkly.
“I ship it,” Jinyoung volunteers from the couch.
“That’s not part of the game,” Mark says.
“It would make the game more interesting.”
“You’re kind of quiet today, Taehyung,” Jackson observes. “Usually, that’s Mark’s job.”
Taehyung just grins at him sunnily.
Bambam flops down on the floor. “I don’t want to play anymore, Jackson. You’re making this too hard.”
“Who’s Jackson? I am the Dungeon Master.”
Yugyeom whines. “I’m tired, dude. It’s been almost three hours.”
“Holy shit,” Jinyoung says softly. “I’ve been listening to you guys be idiots for almost three hours. I could have done something productive.”
Taehyung laughs despite himself. “Next time, you should just play with us.” His mouth fills up with gems. Darn, no more words for now.
Jinyoung pulls a disgusted face. “Me? Play Dungeons and Dragons?”
“Uh... yeah,” Mark says, looking at him searchingly. “You’d probably be good at it, since you’re an actor. And a lit major.”
“I’ll think about it,” Jinyoung concedes.
Jackson pumps a fist in the air. “Yes! Another conversion!”
“I said I would think about it. I didn’t say yes.”
“Jinyoung, my man, my dude, that’s just about as good as a yes.”
Jinyoung scoffs, but Taehyung can tell that he’s excited for next time, and frankly, it might be fun to add a new player to their group.
“I can show you all the different classes and everything—you’re gonna love the guidebook, holy shit, the illustrations are the coolest,” Jackson rambles excitedly. Taehyung takes the opportunity to spit into his hand and then shove his hand into his pocket.
“You’re all nerds,” Jinyoung says. “But yes, okay.”
“I should get going,” Taehyung says. “Thanks for the pizza, Jackson.” Jackson had treated this time. They treat on a rotating basis.
“No prob, Rob.”
“We should probably get going, too,” Yugyeom prompts Bambam, and grudgingly Bambam peels himself off of the floor.
Taehyung gets to his feet, stones weighing down his tongue, and shows himself to the door.
Campus is still dead as Taehyung makes his way back to his dorm.
And judging by the way Jimin is waiting for him with his arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed makes it very clear that Taehyung is dead too.
“Where were you? Wait, don’t answer that verbally,” Jimin says when Taehyung opens his mouth.
Taehyung retrieves the whiteboard from where it’s lying on his bed. “D&D,” he scrawls, and holds it up sheepishly.
“Yoongi said no talking!”
“Oops,” he writes.
“Tae…” Jimin shakes his head. “Did anyone see?”
Taehyung shakes his head no. “I am stealth itself,” he writes, and when Jimin sighs and shakes his head, at least he’s smiling fondly. The worry has mostly left Jimin’s posture. Jimin worries too much. And then Taehyung worries about Jimin when he worries about Taehyung. It’s not a fun cycle.
“Please promise me you won’t talk for the rest of tonight,” Jimin says. “Just until Yoongi comes up with that suppressant, yeah?”
Taehyung scrunches his nose.
“I know, I know. Who are you without your voice, right?”
Taehyung shakes his head. He smudges away the existing writing on the whiteboard with his hand, getting blue dust on his fingertips in the process, and then writes, “I have work tomorrow morning.”
“Yoongi won’t be able to make the suppressant until afternoon at earliest,” Jimin muses. “Okay, Tae, how many sick days can you take?”
Taehyung has never taken a sick day in his job as a tour guide before. He shrugs.
“Well, you never miss your days, so whoever’s in charge tomorrow will be fine with it,” Jimin says, determined. “Who’s scheduling tomorrow?”
Taehyung pulls up Junmyeon from his contacts. Jimin snatches his phone from him and dials.
“Hello? Is this Junmyeon? I’m Taehyung’s roommate.” A questioning tone from the other end. “Taehyung’s really sorry about the inconvenience, but he caught a bug and his voice is completely gone. Yeah, I know, he seemed fine this morning to me, too.” Another question from Junmyeon’s end. “Taehyung’s not playing hooky, you know how much he loves his job—yes? Okay, I’ll tell him. Thank you, he was really worried about this.” Jimin hangs up. “Good news, Tae. You’re off the hook.”
Taehyung smiles admiringly. “I don’t know how you do it,” he writes. Taehyung probably would’ve cried. He hates lying to people. Even though this technically isn’t a super big lie. His throat feels a bit scratchy. Maybe he just needs water.
“This is why I’m your best friend. What would you do without me?”
So Taehyung gathers Jimin in his arms and gives him a bone-crushing hug.
“Okay, okay, I get it. Please appreciate me more gently?”
Taehyung lets go and flashes him a grin.
“Are you down to catch the new episode of The Flash?”
Yes, always. Taehyung settles down on Jimin’s bed and nestles into his side as Jimin boots up his laptop.
This is nice. It would be nicer if Taehyung’s throat wasn’t itching.
He reaches for his thermos and takes a sip. For a moment, there’s relief, but the itch comes back full force.
Maybe he’s actually catching something.
But then the show loads, and Taehyung forgets about the itch for a while.
They stay huddled together for the rest of the evening, and Taehyung thinks he ends up drifting off with his head in Jimin’s lap.
There’s a flurry of knocking on the door of their room.
Taehyung blinks away the crust of sleepiness from his eyes. His head is parallel with Jimin’s thighs, and his arm is draped over Jimin’s lower back. Taehyung’s feet are probably in Jimin’s face.
This isn’t the weirdest position they’ve woken up in. Jimin doesn’t have morning wood this time around, for one thing, so that’s already a great improvement.
Taehyung almost forgets why he’d woken up when another round of knocking occurs. He sits up. Jimin’s head is covered by his pillow. Taehyung wonders if he can breathe like that.
But their mystery visitor awaits, so after he pries the pillow away from Jimin’s head and he shakes him awake—gently, because Jimin has startlingly aggressive reflexes when he first wakes up in the morning—he trudges to the door to find—
“So get this: you’ll gradually lose your voice, and when you have none of that to make gems with, your tears will turn to stone and undoubtedly damage your corneas, and your blood will turn to rubies.”
It’s Namjoon. He looks like he’s either high as fuck or tired as fuck, what with the bloodshot eyes. Maybe both. Namjoon’s shirt is buttoned wrong. Taehyung kind of digs it, though—it kind of gives him that crazy professor aesthetic.
“My blood will turn to rubies,” Taehyung repeats slowly, forgetting that he’s not supposed to talk. His voice is still husky with sleep. A few gems shower out of his mouth. He looks over his shoulder to check the clock on his desk. It is 7:09 a.m. On a Saturday morning.
“Um. Hi, Namjoon,” Jimin yawns, stretching his arms above his head. “What time is it?”
“I dunno,” Namjoon answers.
“Did you, like... sleep at all?” Jimin asks.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Jimin mutters.
“Okay, so,” Namjoon begins, taking a deep breath. There’s apparently no stopping him. Namjoon is on a roll with something. “The artifact once belonged to a noblewoman who apparently trapped a fairy.”
“Hush. The noblewoman loved jewels above all else—”
“Sounds kind of like Midas,” Jimin observes. “But with jewels instead of gold.”
“Good catch,” Namjoon says. “So she asked the fairy to give her the power to make endless jewels, so that she would always be wealthy.” He pauses, presumably for dramatic effect. “And she was. For as long as she lived. Which wasn’t very long, incidentally.”
“How long?” Jimin asks, eyes wide.
Taehyung swallows. Two weeks isn’t very long at all. He tries to imagine only having fourteen days of life left. Thirteen, maybe, if yesterday counts as one of his days. There are so many things that Taehyung hasn’t done yet, and maybe he’ll never get to do them. He wonders if he should try to get a ride back home. He’d feel bad if he died in college and didn’t visit his family.
“Taehyung-ah,” his mother would say, “if you knew you were going to die, why didn’t you visit! So irresponsible. Did we mean nothing to you?” To which he would have no response, because he would be dead because his blood would have turned to rubies, apparently.
“But don’t worry, Taehyung,” Namjoon says. “Firstly, the noblewoman was talking as much as possible so that she could have as many jewels as possible, so if you don’t talk a lot, I’m sure you have much longer than that. Also, you have Yoongi and me.” He glances at Jimin. “And an awesome, caring roommate.”
“Thanks.” Jimin nods.
“I went back through some old notes and found instructions for a sort of catch-all curse suppressant, so once Yoongi finishes his math test, he’ll get that ready for you.”
“Did you stay up all night looking up this stuff?” Jimin asks.
“I mean, yeah.” Namjoon chews his lower lip anxiously. “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t lost the necklace in the first place, Taehyung wouldn’t be cursed.”
Taehyung whips out the whiteboard. “Don’t sweat it. This is the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all year.”
Namjoon snorts and gives him a pat on the shoulder. Jimin cracks up so hard that he doubles over.
“You know, Taehyung, after all this is over, we’re going to have to hang out more. I like you.”
“How would you go about breaking this curse, though?” Jimin asks.
Namjoon shrugs. “Maybe a potion. Maybe some sympathetic magic. Maybe a health magazine juice cleanse. Curses are finicky.”
Jimin hums. “See, I was thinking about this last night—” Taehyung frets internally. Was Jimin losing sleep because of this? Despite all the weirdness, Taehyung had actually slept pretty well. “And, like, you know how True Love’s Kiss always breaks the curse in Disney movies?”
Namjoon squints at him. “Continue.”
“What if... like... we find Taehyung’s True Love?”
Taehyung’s mouth falls open. He can’t be serious.
“I don’t know much about magic. Or anything about magic, really. But... is True Love’s Kiss just a fairytale thing, or..?” Jimin bites his lip.
“That... just might work,” Namjoon says slowly. “I’ve read about that before. Supposedly True Love’s Kiss is like the ultimate reset.”
Taehyung wants to laugh. Or maybe cry. True Love isn’t a thing. People don’t just mutually fall in love with each other. Or, like, maybe other people do, but Taehyung falls head over heels for people who will never like him back at the drop of a hat.
Taehyung’s One True Love is space. Maybe he can fly into the sun and get a kiss from it. Yeah, maybe that’ll work. That’s more likely than him actually finding someone who will fall in love with him back.
“This curse is a sign, Taetae,” Jimin says. “A sign that there’s got to be more in your life than your astrophysics textbooks and D&D. I’ve been telling you to go out with someone since, like, freshman year.”
Taehyung neglects to tell him that he hadn’t gone out with anyone in freshman year because he’d been convinced that his roommate, one chubby-cheeked, beaming Park Jimin, was It for him. That had lasted for a solid eight months, until Taehyung eventually realized that Jimin was never going to fall for him because Jimin had already fallen for Yoongi. And, like, that was cool. Taehyung knew True Love when he saw it, because Yoongi looked at Jimin the same way that Jimin looked at Yoongi, and the two of them would be so cute together that Taehyung couldn’t even feel bad about it. (Too bad that they’re both still pining, which Taehyung must fix ASAP.) He still had the Best Friend position filled, after all.
And then he hadn’t gone out with anyone in sophomore year because he’d been too busy swooning over some tall, broad-shouldered barista at the campus cafe, Living La Vida Mocha. Taehyung hadn’t even known the guy’s last name. He spent weeks tripping over his coffee orders, until he gave up and decided to get his coffee somewhere where there were no baristas that made him hear Taylor Swift songs in his head.
The point is, Taehyung falls fast and hard—there’s an innuendo somewhere, he thinks to himself—and people don’t fall for him back.
So the odds of finding True Love within the next two weeks or so to save him from a stupid curse? Astronomically miniscule. And Taehyung knows what he’s talking about. He does astronomical calculations regularly.
He’ll probably have better luck trying a juice cleanse.
“Oh, you should make a Tinder,” Jimin says. He’s excited now. The only trace of sleepiness left on him is his hair, which is sticking up in every possible direction.
Namjoon looks lost in thought.
“Keep me posted on how that goes,” he says. He smiles at Taehyung. “In the meantime, I’ll work on Plan B.”
“Plan B sounds like a morning-after pill,” Taehyung scrawls on his whiteboard, and he gets a laugh from Namjoon as reward.
“I’ll think of a better name,” Namjoon promises, showing himself out. “Hit me up if anything changes. In the meantime, time to get my nose back in the books.”
What a weird expression. Taehyung imagines Namjoon rubbing his nose in an open book. Maybe he smells the words and the knowledge goes straight to his brain that way. Like snorting cocaine. But with knowledge.
“Please sleep,” Jimin calls after him. He nestles back down into his blankets. “Think I’m gonna snooze a little more, Tae.”
Taehyung wipes away the words on his whiteboard and writes, “I’m hungry. Gonna go get breakfast. Brb.”
“Okay, bro. You go do that.”
He pulls on a big sweater to cover his ratty pajama t-shirt. Sure, it’s a September morning in Los Angeles, and sure, it’s probably going to heat up in about twenty minutes, but what’s more important is not looking like a complete trainwreck. You never know who you’re going to meet, after all.
Taehyung ends up putting sandals on over his mismatched socks, but, like, that’s fine. He’s a college student. Who cares. His ability to care only goes so far.
Jungkook is significantly less thrilled about the Saturday morning shift than the Friday evening shift. For one thing, there’s no Seokjin to keep him entertained with their guessing game, and Jungkook is decidedly not a morning person, so opening the cafe at six in the morning is not his idea of a fun time when he’d just left at 10 pm.
It’s about 7:30 now, and there’s only been a few early risers. Nothing that he and Bora can’t handle. Bora kind of intimidates him, though—okay, most girls intimidate him, but still—so he’s quiet on this shift. He only has to be on duty till 10, and then he’s free to continue his day.
The chimes jingle as the door swings open, and suddenly Jungkook is a lot more excited about this shift than he was a heartbeat ago.
The guy who walks in is a bit taller than him. He’s got messy dark brown hair and friendly-looking eyes, and he’s wearing an oversized sweater—dear god, help Jungkook, sweater paws—and Jungkook is pretty sure that he’s wearing mismatched socks, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s cute. There’s, like, a golden halo around this guy.
Jungkook turns to look at Bora, wondering if she’s just as dazzled by the halo as he is, but Bora is decorating their daily special chalkboard. Which is supposed to be Jungkook’s job. He might be offended if it weren’t for the cute guy who just walked in the door.
“Hey,” the guy says, coming up to the register, and holy shit his voice is so deep and a little bit scratchy and it may or may not be doing funny things to Jungkook’s chest.
“Hi,” Jungkook breathes back, before he remembers that he actually has a script to stick to. Good thing he’s been working here for so long that it’s automatic. He remembers what Yoongi had said about him stuttering around cute people, and is proud when the “Welcome to Living La Vida Mocha, where we like to live it up a little. How can I help you?” comes out smoothly.
“I’ll have a medium mocha and two blueberry muffins.” The guy coughs into his hand, and that should be a turn-off, but Jungkook is pretty much too far gone to care at this point. “Oh, and can I also have a kid-sized hot chocolate? My roommate is on a diet, so he only takes the smallest size of anything.”
Jungkook keys in the order. “That’ll be $8.70.”
The guy rummages around in his pockets and comes up with two crumpled-up five-dollar bills.
“C-can I get your name?” Jungkook asks, looking down to get the guy’s change. He’s grateful for the excuse to break eye contact, but he has to press his lips together to stop himself from adding, “And your number?” He has to maintain a certain degree of professionalism, after all. Also, he’s not quite brave enough to be so forward. Not when this guy glows, and has a voice so deep that Jungkook could drown in it.
The guy is staring at him, his mouth slightly open. Jungkook wonders if he has something on his face, or if he maybe said the last part out loud. God, that would be embarrassing. There’s a full three seconds of silence before the guy answers, “Tony.”
Tony. Which reminds Jungkook of Tony Stark. Iron Man, Jungkook’s favorite Avenger. This guy has to be the most perfect guy Jungkook’s ever met.
“Nice,” Jungkook says, then immediately kicks himself internally. Nice? What is that supposed to mean? What if the guy thinks that Jungkook means it in a mean way. What if—he cuts himself off there. “For here or to go?”
“To go.” Tony smiles at him, and Jungkook melts a little inside.
He doesn’t want this brief little exchange to end. He scrambles for words. What’s a plausible barista-y thing for him to ask? “Do you want some butter for your muffin?”
“Like. Do you want your muffin buttered.”
Tony’s mouth is definitely hanging open now. Jungkook, belatedly, remembers watching Mean Girls. Oh, fuck.
“I’m so sorry, that sounded creepy, I swear it’s not a reference, I really just meant do you want some butter for your—” Jungkook feels like his face is on fire. He must be a really nice shade of fuchsia right now. He’s just glad that Yoongi isn’t here to witness this moment and make fun of him for all eternity.
“Well,” Tony says, grinning, “I’m not a fan of muffin-buttering on the first date, but after a series of many, after we get to know each other, sure.” He winks. The fire burning in Jungkook’s cheeks intensifies. “That is, if you’re offering.”
Tony’s grin widens, and Jungkook half-wants the earth to open beneath him and swallow him up, and half-wants to do something bold, like maybe flirt back. This is flirting, right? Jungkook doesn’t have much experience with this kind of thing. Mostly, people hit on him, and he blushes and takes the quickest excuse to leave because words fail him.
“Oh my god, that guy’s totally into you,” Bora whispers when Jungkook retreats to go make the mocha and hot cocoa.
“Really?” he whispers back.
“It doesn’t get more obvious than that, Jungkook. He’s flirting with you.” Bora pauses. “You should write your number on his cup.”
“He’s just making fun of me, not flirting,” Jungkook mumbles. “Can you warm up the muffins for him?”
“I’m never going to get over the fact that you pretty much quoted a Mean Girls line to a customer. But yeah, sure.”
Jungkook puts extra whipped cream in the mocha. He’d forgotten to ask if Tony wanted whipped cream, but Tony seems like someone who likes a lot of whipped cream. He considers writing his number on the cup, he really does, but in the end all he does is draw an Iron Man mask and little heart on the cup sleeve. Hopefully that’s not weird. Or maybe Tony likes weird. Tony hadn’t been too fazed by Jungkook’s awkward flailing.
Tony fixes Jungkook with a warm smile when he gets his order. Jungkook catches the faintest whiff of strawberry when Tony comes up to the counter.
“Thanks,” here, Tony glances down at the name tag on Jungkook’s chest. “...Jungkook.”
“Anytime,” he says, and he’s pleased that he doesn’t trip up on those three syllables.
There are other things that he’d like to say, but then the chimes alert him to another customer stepping through the door, and then Tony gathers up his things and he’s gone in the blink of an eye.
Jungkook steps back up to the register. “Welcome to Living La Vida Mocha, where we like to live it up a little. How can I help you?”
Taehyung thinks that sapphires may have just become his new favorite gem.
Jungkook, two syllables, two sapphires. Taehyung may or may not mumble the name to himself a few times on the way back to his dorm. Each time, the syllables form sapphires.
Then he remembers the curse, and how his blood will turn to rubies, and he abruptly stops speaking. Doesn’t stop him from mouthing the name to himself and relishing the shape of it, though.
(Taehyung falls fast and hard, and once he’s fallen, all his reservations go away. He feels like he’s walking on rainbows.)
Jimin is still snoozing when he gets back to their dorm, safely buried underneath a mound of baby blue blanket.
“Jimin,” Taehyung says, deciding that waking up his roommate is worth being a few syllables closer to death. “I found my True Love!”
Jimin bolts upright. “Tae, no talking. Wait, what—that was fast.” He rubs at his eyes and squints at him, sniffing the air. Taehyung is reminded vaguely of his dog. “Do I smell chocolate?”
“Kids-sized hot chocolate for you,” Taehyung says.
Taehyung scowls. Like, what does Jimin expect him to do when he asks questions?
Writing on the whiteboard is so slow , though. Taehyung grabs his phone off his desk and sends a text to Jimin:
I MET THE LOVE OF MY LIFE FOR REAL TODAY HE WORKS AT THE CAFE
Jimin’s phone buzzes from where he’d left it on his desk.
Jimin squints at him. “Are you seriously texting me right now?”
IT’S FASTER QUIT JUDGING ME SMH
Another buzz. Jimin sighs. “Give me my phone.” Taehyung happily obliges, retrieving it and then putting it into Jimin’s outstretched hand.
“Every baby boomer in the world is judging us right now,” Jimin says.
STOP ANSWERING ME OUT LOUD ITS GONNA LOOK LIKE IM TEXTING MYSELF
“But you are.”
ANGER THE BABY BOOMERS WITH ME
wait back up i want details
HES THE CUTEST EVER LIKE HE HAS ENTIRE GALAXIES IN HIS EYES I SWEAR
ALSO HE HIT ON ME WITH A MEAN GIRLS LINE
OR HE SAID HE DIDNT MEAN TO BUT I WAS THIS CLOSE TO TELLING HIM JASON YOURE SUCHA SKEEZE
HE HAS A BABY FACE
ALSO. JAWLINE LIKE WHOA
i cannot believe u made me read the words jawline like whoa with my own two eyes
HE HAS A NICE VOICE I BET HE CAN SING
how would u even kno that u talked to him for like two min while u ordered coffee
ALSO HOT COCOA
HE ASKE D ME IF I WANTED MY MUFFINS BUTTERED I NEARLY DIED
OH SHIT RIGHT IM HUNGRY LETS EAT
full offense but if he rly tried that line on u he does sound like an actual skeeze
i thought u had better taste than this tae smh
(also much thank for the muffin, even though it has cARBS)
NO HE ONLY SAID IT BC H E FUCKED UP
HES AWKWARD N I DIG IT
(u welcome friendo <33 also 1 carb won’t kill u)
Jimin stops typing to break off a piece of muffin with his fingers. “I’m pretty sure this is more than one carb, Tae, but thanks anyway.” He grins. “If this guy just appeared all of a sudden when we needed you to find your True Love, he might just be the one.”
Taehyung hands the cup with hot cocoa to Jimin—it’s a small cup, perfect for Jimin’s tiny little hands—and examines his own cup more closely. There’s a doodle instead of a name—it looks like an angry robot head, and a tiny heart.
DOES THIS COUNT AS BARISTA FLIRTING
Jimin examines the drawing. “That... looks like the Iron Man mask. Did you tell him you like Iron Man or something?”
Taehyung shakes his head.
“I don’t think that counts as flirting? Well, maybe the heart does, but why...” Jimin trails off, brow furrowed.
I TOLD HIM MY NAME IS TONY
“Oh my god, Tae, why?”
YOU KNOW HOW LIKE. YOU GOTTA USE THE AMERICAN NAME^TM SO THAT pEOPLE CAN PRONOUNCE IT
WELL I TOLD HIM THAT NAME
HE THINKS IM TONY LIKE TONY STARK
OUR ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP IS FOUNDED ON A LIE
Jimin sighs. “Okay, firstly, there is no relationship.”
“Yet,” he quickly corrects himself. “Secondly, how many times have I told you that you don’t need to use an American name when you order coffee? If people can pronounce fucking Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, they can pronounce ‘Taehyung.’” Jimin frowns. “Unless this guy was, like, really really really uncultured.”
HIS NAME IS JUNGKOOK
“Then you could’ve told him your actual name,” Jimin says, exasperated. “He’s obviously Korean, too.”
I DIDNT KNOW THAT I DIDNT READ HIS NAME TAG BEFORE
(too distracted by cute)
HE COULDVE BEEN CHINESE OR JAPANESE
I DIDNT WANT TO BE RACIST JIMIN
Jimin laughs. “I can’t believe you, sometimes.”
Jimin checks the time. “Well, I think Yoongi will be done with his test around noon, so then you can have a suppressant and woo...” He looks at his phone again. “...Jungkook the barista.”
HE THINKS MY NAME IS TONY
HOW DO I FIX THIS
“You just explain that it’s your easy American name, okay? I’m sure he can relate. You grew up in a town with, like, zero Asians, so you’re used to trying to make it easier on the barista.” Jimin pauses. “You really should quit doing that, though.”
bUT I DONT LIKE BEING CALLED TEEYANG. TAHUNG. THEY MESS UP MY NAME ALL TH E TIME AND iT SOUNDS GROSS
“I mean, yeah. Grossly butchered or not, though, my name is still my name,” Jimin says. “And I love it.”
But like. Jimin is harder to mess up than TEEYANG.
“I once got something that sounded like Jameen, dude.” Jimin thinks about it for a second. “It could be worse, though. You could be Vietnamese and have a name like Dong from Kimmy Schmidt.”
Jungkook doesn’t talk to his roommates very much, but at least they’re both sound sleepers. Yugyeom and Bambam are still fast asleep—Yugyeom in the bunk above Jungkook’s, Bambam in the loft bed across from Yugyeom—and Jungkook can’t see shit in the darkness because the window blinds are still closed.
Jungkook wishes he could be asleep. He’s more of a night owl by default, so Saturday morning shifts truly are the bane of his existence.
Regardless of whether or not blessings in the form of cute boys named Tony pop into his shift.
It’s, like, 10:21 a.m. now, and Jungkook is torn between wanting to sleep, wanting coffee, being a little bit sick of coffee, and craving a boba milk tea. No, make that a milk tea slush. Already, he can feel the heat of the day creeping in. He wouldn’t be surprised if it gets up to the 90-degree mark today—while the rest of the world is relishing in the crisp beginnings of fall, Jungkook is stuck in a sweltering SoCal September.
Alliteration. Take that, Jungkook’s high school English teacher.
He could draw. There’s a project that he’s working on for Advanced Survey of Computer Art Applications. Or he could doodle over some photos he’d taken of campus a week ago.
Or he could hit the gym. Work out. That’s what morning people do on Saturday mornings, right? Here he is, Jeon Jungkook, involuntary morning person, deciding to work out on a Saturday morning.
His mom would probably be proud of him for actually doing something with his life. Back in high school, Jungkook spent most of his time drawing in his room, or watching anime, or generally not going outside. But Seokjin had been teaching him about workouts and stuff since he started working at the cafe in spring of his first year, and Jungkook kind of likes having defined deltoids and abs (he’s more proud of the deltoids, honestly, because abs were something that he’d had when he was skinny anyway).
Jungkook quietly grabs a tank and gym shorts from where he’d left them dangling on the back of his chair yesterday. He’s already wearing sneakers, so as long as he grabs his thermos from his desk—he should really wash that, he didn’t get to last night—he’ll be good.
He succeeds, and manages to close the door almost silently behind him. Score one, Ninja Kook.
“Suck on this,” Yoongi says, beaning Taehyung in the forehead with something with a crinkly wrapper.
“Ooh, is that a cough drop?” Jimin asks.
Taehyung picks the presumed cough drop off of the floor of Yoongi’s shared apartment with Namjoon and Hoseok. Dutifully, he unwraps it to reveal a round green hard candy.
“I promise it’s safe,” Yoongi sighs, in response to Taehyung’s doubtful expression. “It was originally lemon. Then I put a spell on it. I guess the spell was blue. Blue and yellow make green.”
Taehyung wants to ask something like “What do you mean you guess the spell was blue?” because he was previously unaware that spells could even have colors, but then Jimin asks, “Why is it glowing, though?”
“Magic,” Yoongi says.
“Why did I even ask,” Jimin asks the ceiling. Taehyung looks up too. It’s not a remarkable ceiling. There might be a spider laying some eggs in one of the corners. He should probably point that out to Yoongi.
“Just suck it,” Yoongi orders, and Taehyung pops the glowing green cough drop into his mouth. It tastes like lemon, with a hint of something sharper, but he can’t quite place it.
“Moving a little fast there, Yoongi,” calls Hoseok’s voice from inside his room. “You haven’t even bought Jimin dinner yet.”
“I was talking to Taehyung,” Yoongi calls back, not even flustered. Jimin, on the other hand, looks scandalized.
“Is he the new object of your affections?” Hoseok emerges from his room to join them in the living room/dining room/kitchen. “But after you’ve been pining after Jimin for so long I thought that—”
“Sometimes I hate you,” Yoongi says. “And by sometimes I mean all of the time.”
“Aww, Yoongi.” Hoseok just grins, unperturbed. “I know you love me. But not as much as you love Jimin—”
“Does he really pine after Jimin?” Taehyung asks, words slightly muffled by the cough drop in his mouth. No gems. Holy shit, no gems. Yoongi did his job.
“Constantly,” Hoseok says. He clasps his hands together and bats his eyes. In a ridiculous falsetto, he says, “Jimin’s so cute, I just want to hold hands with him and buy him ice cream and sing duets in the mornings with him!”
“I don’t sound like that!” Yoongi snaps. “A-and Jimin isn’t cute.”
“I’m not?” Jimin pouts. It’s adorable. Jimin is the cutest, and this is an obvious fact. Taehyung doesn’t know how Yoongi doesn’t melt on the spot.
“That doesn’t sound like Yoongi at all,” Taehyung says.
“Thank you, Tae.”
“The real Yoongi would never sing duets in the mornings. The real Yoongi would only sing duets at odd hours of night, because the real Yoongi has a defective circadian rhythm.”
“I rescind that thank you, Tae.” He scowls. It’s made less intimidating by the fact that he’s also very, very pink.
Taehyung just beams at him.
“Oh, hey, Taehyung,” Hoseok says suddenly. “I just remembered that I have something cool to show you.” He grabs Taehyung by the elbow and easily whisks him away. Taehyung is almost offended by how effortlessly Hoseok can drag him around, but then he remembers that he spends most of his free time doing math problems about stars, while Hoseok spends his time on a dance crew. (Thanks, stellar physics.)
“What’s the cool thing that you had to show me?” Taehyung asks, when they’re safely inside Hoseok’s room. Hoseok probably hasn’t cleaned in a while, judging by the disarray, but at least his room smells good. Like vanilla and orange. Like an orange creamsicle.
Hoseok puts a finger to his lips. “So the cool thing is,” he whispers, “the walls are really thin, so if you’re quiet you can hear what they’re saying out there.”
Taehyung holds his breath. The cough drop hasn’t completely dissolved in his mouth.
“—could go get some ice cream later, since it’s so hot outside,” Jimin is saying.
Is this it?
Is this the day that Yoongi finally takes the hint and takes Jimin out?
Taehyung wants to scream.
“Yeah, all of us could go, after this,” Yoongi replies. “I’ll text Joon. Even though he’s lactose intolerant, he’ll be pissed if he finds out he missed out on potential sorbet.”
“Oh. Oh, yeah, sure, that’s what I meant.”
Taehyung still wants to scream, but now for a different reason. He locks eyes with Hoseok.
Hoseok does an excellent silent impression of going super Saiyan with rage.
Taehyung laughs and ends up choking on his cough drop, which is terrifying and no longer worth it.
Hoseok panics. “Tae! Taehyung, don’t die!” he yells, as Taehyung explodes into a coughing fit. His eyes are watering. He feels kind of nauseous.
Coughing because of a cough drop. Irony at its finest.
The door bursts open. “What’s going on here?” Jimin demands.
Someone hits him on the back, and the cough drop flies out of his mouth.
It takes a few seconds, but Taehyung manages to gulp in enough air to regain his bearings.
“You’re welcome,” Yoongi says, towering over Taehyung where he’s sitting on the floor. Taehyung doesn’t quite remember falling, but okay. That happened. He points at Hoseok’s carpet, where the green cough drop glistens. “Pick that up and eat it.”
“Kinky,” Taehyung rasps. His eyes are still streaming. He ignores the little bit of carpet fuzz that’s stuck to the spit-sticky cough drop.
“You’re awful and I hate you,” Yoongi retorts automatically.
There’s a pause.
“I haven’t vacuumed in a while,” Hoseok volunteers sheepishly. “Sorry, Tae.”
Taehyung flaps his hand dismissively. Carpet fuzz is a small price to pay in exchange for being able to talk without gems forming in his mouth. Come to think of it, it’s surprising that Taehyung hasn’t choked on any of the jewels, but maybe that’s because they’re too small to choke on.
“So, ice cream?” Yoongi suggests.
“You and Jimin can go,” Hoseok says. “Think I’ll chill here a bit.”
“What Hoseok said,” Taehyung rasps. “Throat kinda hurts. My dad always said that dairy is bad for you when you’re sick, so.”
Yoongi eyes him suspiciously. Taehyung does his best to look innocent.
“Are you sure, Tae?” Jimin asks, even though Taehyung is 101% sure that Jimin is fine with getting ice cream one-on-one with Yoongi.
He grins and flashes him a thumbs-up. “I can watch dance videos with Hoseok. It’ll be fun. Enjoy the sun, you two.”
“Okay, thanks. Yoongi, let’s go,” Jimin says, linking their arms together, and Taehyung totally doesn’t notice the way that Yoongi suddenly flushes pink.
Until Jimin and Yoongi leave, that is.
Then Hoseok’s bouncing up and down excitedly like a little kid. “Did you see that?”
“Yoongi was so red!”
“Ah, young love,” Hoseok sighs, putting a hand over his heart dramatically. He swoons onto his bed, which creaks in protest. “Speaking of—how’s your love life? Still making heart eyes at Europa through your telescope?”
“As beautiful as she is, someone else has claimed my heart,” Taehyung says.
“Ooh.” Hoseok rolls onto his side so that he can see Taehyung better. “Tell.”
“There isn’t much to tell.”
“I know you, Taehyung,” Hoseok says. “You’re dying to tell me all about what this guy is like.”
Taehyung chews his lip.
“Come on. Let’s talk about boys.” Hoseok wiggles his eyebrows.
“You’re not even gay.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t talk about boys with you.”
“Point taken. Hoo, okay, you asked for it—”
This is good. This is fine. Yoongi is totally fine. He’s walking around holding hands with Jimin and eating ice cream, and it’s fine. He is not, under any circumstance, dying.
Jimin holds hands with Taehyung all the time, probably, so Yoongi shouldn’t read into this.
Jimin is currently licking a rainbow sherbet cone, while Yoongi’s mint ice cream is in the process of quickly becoming mint milk in his hand. Jimin has a little bit of pink ice cream on the tip of his nose. Yoongi is consumed by the urge to kiss it off, but that breaks a lot of boundaries. Possibly all of the boundaries.
Never mind the fact that Jimin’s hand fits in his like it was always meant to be there. Jimin doesn’t complain that Yoongi’s hands are cold and clammy and, well... it’s nice. Yoongi forgets where he was going with that particular train of thought.
“Hurry up and eat,” Jimin says between licks. “Yours is melting all over the place.”
“Huh? Oh.” He swipes his tongue along the green drips at the base of the scoop. “It’s too damn hot today, that’s why.”
“You eat too slowly,” Jimin says, swirling his tongue around his scoop expertly. Yoongi may or may not have an unhealthy fixation on Jimin’s tongue.
“Namjoon came by my place this morning,” Jimin continues, casually, as though that’s a natural sequitur.
“So I asked him about True Love.”
Yoongi’s heart is hammering against his ribs. Is Jimin leading up to something?
“Specifically, True Love’s Kiss.” Jimin might be blushing a bit. Or maybe he’s getting sunburned, because this is fucking Los Angeles, and Yoongi hates the weather here with all his might. (He’s a Bay Area native, himself.)
“Yeah?” Yoongi rasps out.
“Yeah. Do you think if we found Taehyung’s True Love and got him a kiss, it would break the curse?”
Of course that’s what Jimin would have been building up to. He’s so caring about his friends. It’s part of why Yoongi loves him so much. “Maybe. But, Jimin, True Love’s hard to find.” Yoongi can attest to that. Every single time he thinks that Jimin might like him back, it quickly becomes clear that Jimin thinks of him as a friend. Which is, you know, cool. The friend zone is bullshit and all that. Yoongi just wishes that he had enough guts to say, “Park Jimin, I love you, do you like me?” so that Jimin could just say no and he could finally have his answer and get over him.
“I know,” Jimin says, and there’s something heavy in the words. He brightens up again, though. “But Taehyung met someone this morning when he went to get breakfast.”
“Did he?” There’s sticky green milk running down Yoongi’s hand, but he’s too intrigued by Jimin’s words to care much.
“Yeah. Some barista at Living La Vida Mocha.” Jimin releases Yoongi’s hand to pull his phone out of his pocket. “Said his name was... Jungkook.”
Yoongi chokes. “Jungkook?”
“Yeah. So, get this. You know how Taehyung grew up in a town with, like, zero Asians?”
“Well, he gave a fake name to Jungkook the barista because he always does that.”
“The Easy American Name™.” Yoongi nods. He can relate.
“But like. Jungkook is a very, very Korean name,” Jimin says. “If he had just read his name tag—” He shakes his head. “Anyway, I’m like ninety-nine percent sure that this Jungkook likes Taehyung, but he thinks that his name is Tony.”
“Do you want me to confirm if he does?”
“You know him?” Jimin practically shouts, and Yoongi takes the opportunity to slurp up some of his mint ice milk before he answers.
“Do you remember that friend I brought to your showcase last spring?”
Yoongi can tell that he doesn’t. “Tall and stupidly built for someone with doe eyes and a bunny nose?”
“Yoongi, to be honest, I was only paying attention to you at the showcase,” Jimin says sheepishly, and Yoongi’s heart races a little bit at the words. Stupid heart, getting excited over nothing.
“Okay, well, if the Jungkook that Taehyung ran into is the Jungkook I know...” Yoongi chuckles. “That just might work, actually.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. I want to meet him,” Jimin says.
“Should I be jealous?”
“Yoongi,” Jimin whines. “Please, he might be the one to break Taetae’s curse. I gotta make sure he’s quality True Love material. Taehyung’s my best friend.”
“Then what does that make me?” It’s out of his mouth before Yoongi realizes, and then there’s nothing to do but wait for Jimin’s response.
Jimin is silent. Fuck, Yoongi made it awkward. He has to fix this—
“You’re my Yoongi,” Jimin answers, like that makes perfect sense.
“Your Yoongi.” He raises an eyebrow.
“Wow, possessive determiners. Love me some of those.” Jimin’s Yoongi. Well, that’s something, at least.
Yoongi takes a bite of his soggy ice cream cone and tries not to look pleased.
“Maybe we should invite Jungkook on a group outing,” Jimin suggests.
“You’re a schemer, Park Jimin.” Yoongi shakes his head. “I like it.”
“Also. Can we go back to the part where you said you’re a wizard?”
“I have so many questions.”
And normally that would be Yoongi’s cue to walk in the opposite direction, but this is Jimin, and he's weak.
So he munches on what’s left of his ice cream cone, and says, “Okay. What do you want to know?”