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Blueberry Muffins

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Chapter One

 

 

  Park Jimin is late.

  Park Jimin is fucking late and he’s going to get fired.

  He’s going to get fucking fired and then how is he going to support his mother and Jihyun? How will he put Jihyun through school? How will he be able to pay his mom’s rent? Oh god, they’re going to end up on the street and he’s going to have—

  No, enough! Jimin thinks wildly to himself while he speed walks towards the station, willing himself to go faster except he can’t go faster because his arms are filled with coffee cups for his shitty co-workers, and if he moves any faster he’s going to spill the scalding hot liquid all over himself. Sweat drips down his back and shines across his forehead, both from anxiety and the blistering heat that beats down on him mercilessly. Jimin’s stomach is in knots and his head is beginning to ache, and he wants nothing more than to go back to his small, cozy apartment and take a much needed nap.

  Finally, blessedly, Bangtan News Station comes into view ahead of Jimin, and he struggles to keep the two cardboard trays of takeout coffees steady in his arms while he weaves through the people on the sidewalk, his heart thudding because even though he’s only five minutes late, his director is going to murder him.

  Jimin reaches the revolving glass doors of the station just as his phone rings in his pocket, and he curses, stopping right outside the doors and struggling to balance the coffees to reach his phone. The trays in his arms wobbling dangerously when he answers and presses the phone to his ear.

  “Park Jimin,” he answers meekly, already knowing who it is.

  “Park!” The outraged voice of the Production Director, Kwon Jinho, shouts through the receiver, and Jimin winces. “Where the hell are you?”

  “I’m sorry, PD-nim, I’m right outside. I’ll be up in a minute,” Jimin squeaks, his dull headache now a full blown throbbing in his temples. He doesn’t get a reply back, there’s only a loud huff before the line goes dead. Jimin lets out a shaky breath and takes a few seconds to gather his wits. He shoves his phone back in the pocket of his fitted black slacks and pushes through the revolving doors, breathing a little sigh of relief at the blast of cool air conditioning that hits him.

  Jimin quickly makes his way across the wide, airy lobby of the first floor, glancing at his wrist watch and biting his lip. Stopping before the elevator, he is somehow able to press the button with his hip, and it slides open a moment later, already occupied by half a dozen people. Jimin tries to squeeze past them as they flood out onto the first floor, paying no attention to his muttered “excuse me”s and “pardon me”s.

  Jimin rides the way up to the third floor quietly, his nerves going crazy while he tries to come up with an excuse as to why he’s late. He can’t exactly say ‘Sorry for being five goddamn minutes late, I was working at my other job this morning that I need to be able to support my family singlehandedly or else they’ll end up on the street before having to come here for my second job and fucking waiting on every one hand and foot please don’t fire me?’

  The elevator doors slide open with a little ‘ding’, and Jimin rushes down the hall towards News Room Three, struggling to balance the coffees in his arms when he almost trips over his own tired feet. He scuttles into the room and is immediately met with the hustle and bustle of the 7 o’clock news crew, and he squeaks when he’s almost bowled over by one of the cameramen swinging around and almost clubbing Jimin in the head with his giant camera.

  He spots PD Kwon standing outside the control room, going over something with Han Sooyin, the Executive Producer of Bangtan News. Taking a steadying breath and preparing himself to be fired on the spot, Jimin hurries over to them, trying not to trip on any equipment wires as he goes.

  The moment Kwon spots Jimin approaching, he scowls and his black handlebar mustache quivers in annoyance. “Where the hell have you been, Park? You’re late!” The man barks at him and Jimin winces, his bottom lip already beginning to quiver as he steels himself for the inevitable.

  “I’m sorry PD-nim, I—“ he’s cut off by Kwon stabbing his finger at Jimin’s chest, his eyes narrowed.

  “Listen here, Park, I don’t want to hear any excuses—“

  “He’s here now, isn’t he?” Han Sooyin interrupts gently, and both men turn to stare at her with wide eyes. The woman smiles kindly at Jimin, and he immediately feels some of the tension in his body melt away. EP Han is known for treating her employees and assistants well, and Jimin finds himself wishing he’d work more with her than Kwon, who is famous as a notorious hard-ass—and an ass in general—around the station.

  “B-but, PD-nim, he, he…” Kwon splutters over his words, but trails off at Han’s quirked brow and pointed look. Kwon clears his throat awkwardly after a moment, and after slanting Jimin another glare, he snatches one of the coffees out of the trays in Jimin’s arm and stalks off. “Set up the news desk,” he orders at Jimin over his shoulder, and the blonde man sags in relief.

  Holy shit, he wasn’t fired.

  He peeks up at Han and gives her a tentative smile. “Thank you, EP-nim,” he says quietly, and she smiles again before reaching out to take one of the coffees.

  “No need to thank me, Jimin-ssi. You’re a hard worker, no need for you to get in trouble over such a small thing.”

  And just like that, she heads off to the other side of the news room to check on the lighting, her black high heels clacking the entire way and leaving Jimin staring after her in shock.

  Holy shit.

  Han Sooyin, Executive Producer of fucking Bangtan News, one of the biggest news stations in South Korea, said he, Park Jimin, is a hard worker. How does she even know his name? How does she even know he exists?

  He wants to ponder over this new information, but if he dawdles any longer, Kwon really is going to fire him. So Jimin scurries into the control room and snatches the newly finished scripts off the desk in the back, balancing the papers precariously atop the coffee cups.

  He has to be careful not to trip on the dozens of wires taped to the floor, his feet clumsy and heavy with exhaustion. Last night Kwon had had Jimin print and make copies of over two hundred different documents, then he’d had to sort them and file them away alphabetically. By the time he’d finished, it was 2:00 AM, and he had to be up for his other job at the dance studio at 6:00 AM the next morning. Jimin is tired, so tired, but unfortunately he never has much time for sleep these days, what with the job at the station and the dance studio.

  Being careful to avoid the camera and production crews swarming around the news room, Jimin makes his way to the presentation stage where the 7 o’clock anchors will be arriving soon to report the news.

  Where he’ll be arriving.

  With shaky hands, Jimin shifts the takeout tray in his arms and places an iced caramel macchiato at one of the chairs behind the desk, then carefully sets down a cup of steaming hot black coffee at the other seat. He turns it this way and that until it looks just right, with the logo of the café it’s from facing towards where the occupant will be sitting. Jimin then plucks a little brown baggie from one of the trays and places it gently beside the coffee, adjusting it until he’s satisfied with how it looks.

  Inside the bag contains a single blueberry muffin. Every day, Jimin purchases it separately from all the other coffee orders that the station pays for. He uses his own money, and at first he’d been sneaky about it, trying to hide the muffin from sight, but none of his coworkers seem to care what he does. Most of the time, they don’t even seem to know he exists. He’d been worried someone would ask why he goes out of his way to buy the muffin, but no one even looks at it, much to his relief.

  Jimin is placing each script in its respective spots when some calls, “Anchors on set!” behind him, and Jimin jumps at the loud voice, heart shooting into his throat.

  He quickly scurries off the stage and hurries over to take a place next to one of the cameramen who is adjusting his lens in preparation for the broadcast in a few moments. From his partial cover from behind the camera, Jimin watches as a woman sweeps into the news room, looking glamorous in a dark blue dress and perfectly curled hair, and a moment later, a man follows behind her, looking decidedly less enthusiastic.

  The man is Min Yoongi, one of the 7 o’clock news anchors of Bangtan News.

  Jimin’s breath hitches in his throat as his gaze sweeps over the black-haired man. The look on his sharp, narrow face is bored while he trails after the woman, wearing a fitted black suit jacket over a white dress shirt. His pink, curved lips are pouted out cutely and his forever tired eyes are droopy with sleep.

  He wears a red tie that sways slightly while he walks, a dazzling contrast to his pale skin that gleams under the production lights. Jimin has always thought Yoongi looks best in red. It brings out his flawless ivory skin and sleek black hair. One time he’d worn this red velvet suit jacket that shouldn’t look good on anyone, but on Yoongi, oh, on Yoongi. Yoongi had looked ethereal in it, like a grumpy, delicate wood sprite on the verge of falling asleep, his skin practically glowing and his hair glimmering. Jimin’s mouth had gone dry at the sight of him. He’d been yelled at by PD Kwon because he’d been standing behind the camera ogling Yoongi when he should‘ve been going on another coffee run.

  Jimin watches while Yoongi and his co-anchor, Gu Chaeri, make their way up to the news anchor desk and take their seats just as hair and makeup swarm them. Jimin holds his breath when Yoongi sits down and spots the coffee and brown paper bag next to his script while one of the stylist noonas begins patting a powder compact puff on his face.

  Yoongi grabs the bag and reaches in to pull out the blueberry muffin, and Jimin’s heart flutters at the miniscule, almost unnoticeable smile that crosses Yoongi face as he looks at the treat. He goes to take a bite and has to dodge around the stylist noona, jerking it back when she tries to snatch it from him with a glare.

  “Yoongi-ssi, you’re about to go on air, can you please eat that when you’re done?” She asks in exasperation, and Yoongi just narrows is eyes at her while holding the muffin closer to his chest protectively.

  “I always eat it before I go on air,” he argues at her, and she just sighs in defeat and begins powdering his skin again, looking none too pleased when Yoongi takes a big bite of the fresh muffin. Jimin has to hold back a giggle of triumph at the satisfied look on Yoongi’s face while he chews on the pastry as the stylist noona brushes through his eyebrows with a spoolie.

  “Why don’t they ever get me a muffin?” Chaeri frowns at Yoongi, crossing her arms as her stylist touches up her cheekbone highlight. Yoongi doesn’t even spare her a glance as he takes a sip of his coffee.

  “Then ask for one,” he replies tiredly, and Chaeri sags into her chair, looking dejected.

  “I can’t. I’m on a diet,” she sighs sadly, and Yoongi shoots her an exasperated look.

  “You? On a diet? I’d like to see how long that lasts,” he quirks a smile at her, and Chaeri wrinkles her cute little button nose at him.

  “Ha ha, very funny. Anyway, It’s the thought that counts,” she grumbles to herself while her stylist tucks a few star hairs back into her flawless curls. “They could have at least asked me.”

  Jimin bites his lip and steps further into the shadow of the camera. By “they” Chaeri means the station, except that the station only pays for the coffee that Jimin orders and picks up. He himself buys the muffin for Yoongi everyday with his own money, because Jimin had once overheard him talking with one of the weather reporters that they were his favorite treat and he hardly ever gets to eat them. So when Yoongi had sat down at the news desk the next evening, there had been a big, fresh blueberry muffin waiting for him, and he’d been a little more than surprised.

  “PD-nim, did you get this for me?” He’d asked Kwon, but the man had been too busy to even hear his question, only waving at Yoongi vaguely while he yelled at Jimin to hurry up and bring him his clipboard. So Yoongi’d just assumed it was part of the station’s order and hadn’t asked about it again, and no way in hell was Jimin going to approach him and say, “hello, you don’t know me, but I’ve had a giant crush on you for three months and I want to show you my love by buying you a muffin every day.” Nope. Not today, Satan. Jimin has never even spoken a word to Yoongi. The black-haired anchor doesn’t even know he exists, so he doesn’t think that would be the best plan of action.

  Jimin prays to god that Chaeri doesn’t say anything about the muffin to any of the crew, because the producers would tell her that they don’t pay for a muffin for Yoongi, and then it’ll only take so long for them to figure out who does, and the reason why probably wouldn’t be too much of a leap after that.

  “Three minutes until live!” Kwon calls just then, and both Yoongi and Chaeri sit up straighter in their swivel chairs while the stylist noonas finish touching up their makeup. One of the operation crew comes up and hands both of them an ear piece before clipping on a little microphone to the front of their clothes. Yoongi shoos him away once he’s done and picks up his script, skimming through it quickly.

  When someone else comes up to snatch Yoongi’s muffin away, he begrudgingly lets them take it this time. “I want it back the second we’re off air,” he says sternly, looking none too pleased, and the woman nods meekly under his daunting expression before whisking his muffin away. Yoongi stares after it longingly.

  “Places, people!” PD Kwon calls, and Yoongi and Chaeri quickly settle into their seats and straighten their backs. “And, lights!”

  On cue, a flood of light illuminates the two anchors as the cameras rove closer. “Alright, begin count back and pan to camera two,” Kwon’s voice speaks from the headset that the cameraman next to Jimin is wearing, which he can just barely hear from where’s he’s standing. Kwon begins counting back from ten, and Jimin waits with bated breath, watching Yoongi sitting serenely behind the desk.

  “…three, two, one…and, cue!”

  Jimin watches as Yoongi and Chaeri come alive, greeting the watchers and introducing themselves with easy smiles. They start by giving a quick run through of what tonight’s news will be, bantering back and forth a little with friendly teasing. Jimin isn’t even paying attention to what they’re saying though, too busy watching the way Yoongi’s curved lips form different words and vowels, and Jimin can’t help but think how catlike they are. The anchors seamlessly follow the script, keeping it flowing smoothly and naturally, and Jimin is once again struck by how at ease and confident and friendly Yoongi looks on camera. It’s such a strange difference to how he is off camera; grumpy and cold and snappish, and Jimin is always transfixed by the change.

  “Now, let’s go live with Kim Taehyung at the scene of a six car pileup. Taehyung-ssi, can you hear me?” Yoongi segues smoothly, and the image of a smiling Kim Taehyung pops up on the large screen behind the news anchors.

  Jimin grins at the sight of his roommate and best friend, who looks ironically happy despite the gruesome car crash behind him, clutching his microphone close to his face and adjusting his ear piece with the other.

  “Loud and clear, Yoongi-ssi,” Jimin’s friend smiles, his brown hair ruffling against the hot Seoul breeze that hits him with a vengeance, and Jimin can see the light sheen of sweat on his forehead. “I’m coming to you live from…”

  Jimin feels sort of bad that he doesn’t pay any more attention to his best friend when his gaze once again returns to Yoongi, who takes a sip of his black coffee while Taehyung talks. He’s not currently on camera and he ignores a hiss from one of the stylist noonas when he almost spills some coffee on his shirt.

  The rest of the broadcast goes by quickly and effortlessly, the cameras cutting across the studio to where the 7 o’clock weatherman, Zhang Yixing,  presents the coming week’s weather, gesturing blindly at the green screen behind him. After that, the cameras are once again back on Yoongi and Chaeri, following Kwon’s instructions from his spot in the control room.

  “And, outcue,” Kwon commands, and Jimin knows Yoongi and Chaeri can hear him through their ear pieces.

  “This has been Min Yoongi,” Yoongi begins their ending sequence.

  “And Gu Chaeri,” the woman next to him adds with a beaming smile.

  “And this has been Bangtan News. Thank you for watching, and have a great night.” Yoongi and Chaeri both bow to the camera in unison.

  “And, cut! That’s a wrap, people,” Kwon’s voice comes through the news room intercom. “Nicely done!”

  The same man from before comes up and unclips the anchors’ microphones and holds out his hand for their ear pieces, which they quickly hand over. Chaeri stands up and stretches languidly, brushing a curled tress of hair over her shoulder and yawning. Yoongi stands up as well and immediately looks around for something. Instantly, the woman from before hurries up and holds out the half-eaten muffin, which he takes with a satisfied smile, and Jimin has to bite back a smile.

  After the broadcast comes the usual flurry of chaos that leaves Jimin breathless with exertion while Kwon orders everyone around sharply. Cameras are put away, lights are turned off, and equipment is prepped for the next day.

  At some point, Yoongi departs the station for the night, and Jimin can’t help the flood of disappointment that hits him at that. He wasn’t even able to see the black-haired man again because Kwon had him running around handing out files and sorting through papers for tomorrow.

  “Park,” Kwon barks over his shoulder as the rest of the remaining crew trickle out of the news room. “Clean up the news desk, and I want tomorrow’s script on my desk by morning.”

  Jimin sighs tiredly as he’s left alone in the middle of the empty news room, his eyes burning with tiredness and his body heavy with fatigue.

 

~

 

  When Jimin finally pushes open the door of his apartment much later into the night, he isn’t surprised to see Jungkook sitting on the couch in the dark, the only source of light coming from the video games he’s playing on the TV. As soon as Jimin opens the door, Jungkook looks up and pauses the game.

  “Hyung, you’re back,” he greets, standing up and walking over to steady Jimin as he kicks off his shoes, his legs weak with tiredness, clutching Jungkook’s muscled arm gratefully.

  “Hi, Kook,” he mutters, barely able to get the words past his heavy tongue. “How many times do I have to tell you that you don’t have to wait up for me?”

  “Not again with this,” Jungkook sighs, following Jimin down the tiny hall that leads to his miniscule bedroom. “You’re small and delicate and fragile and I worry about you when Taehyungie isn’t able to come home with you.”

  Jimin chooses to ignore that remark, too tired to start anything as he slumps onto his bed and peels off his socks, not bothering to turn on the lights of his bedroom. “Is Tae home yet?” He asks instead, loosening his skinny black tie and tossing it somewhere across the room.

  Jungkook shakes his head and pouts cutely. “He called and said he’s just going to stay overnight at a motel since it’s already so late. He’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

  Jimin makes an incoherent mumbling sound as his heavy fingers begin fumbling with the buttons of his white dress shirt, hardly able to function at the moment. Jungkook watches silently when he finally removes his shirt and tosses it across the chair of his desk before working on the zipper of his slacks.

  “Do you go to the dance studio tomorrow?” Jungkook asks, watching in amusement as Jimin tries to pull of his pants without actually standing up.

  “No. Hoseok’s giving me the day off to get some extra rest,” Jimin replies, and a wave of fondness sweeps over him at the thought of his friend and boss from the dance studio, who has been concerned about his health lately.

  “Good, you need it,” Jungkook says with a satisfied nod. “Promise me you will sleep in, hyung?” He adds, fixing Jimin with a stern look which is just barely visible in the darkness of his room. Finally freed of his pants, Jimin crawls half naked under his covers, not even bothering to put on pajamas.

  “Uh,” he hesitates, and he can practically feel Jungkook’s frown. “I was still going to the studio to practice, and then I was going to go do my mom’s grocery shopping tomorrow.”

  “Park Jimin, you will sleep in tomorrow morning and let your body get some rest, or so help me god I will lock you in this room until you either fall back asleep or die of hunger.”

  Jimin blanches at Jungkook, pausing in dragging the covers up around his body. “Wah, Jeon Jungkook, you have some nerve speaking to your hyung like that.”

  Jungkook ignores him and steps out of the room, already pulling the door closed. “Goodnight, hyung,” he says quietly, and Jimin mumbles a reply, sleep already taking over his exhausted body as his head sinks into his pillow.

  “Sleep good.” Jungkook adds as he clicks the door closed behind him, but Jimin has already slipped into unconsciousness.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

  When Jimin wakes up the next morning, he’d given himself one hour longer than usual to sleep in before deciding it was more than enough. He climbs out of bed with a groan, wincing when his fatigued body and aching muscles scream in protest. Running a hand through his sleep-tousled hair tiredly, Jimin shuffles out of his room to go make a protein shake for breakfast.

  Upon padding sluggishly into the kitchen, he comes upon the sight of a newly returned Taehyung pinning Jungkook to the counter while they make out so passionately Jimin wonders if they’re actually trying to suck each other’s souls out through their mouths.

  “Could you not?” Jimin groans as he makes his way to the refrigerator, and his two roommates part with grossly wet ‘pop’ and look over at Jimin sheepishly.

  “Chim, you’re awake,” Taehyung greets with an innocent grin while Jungkook narrows his eyes at Jimin, watching him as he begins pulling ingredients out of the fridge for his breakfast.

  “What happened to sleeping in?” The youngest of them asks sternly, and Jimin just rolls his eyes at him.

  “I did sleep in,” he replies, moving to pull out the blender from one of the cabinets.

  Jungkook scoffs at him and glances at the stove clock. “A whopping whole hour,” when Jimin ignores him, he sighs and pushes away from Taehyung to stand beside Jimin, giving the blonde a concerned look. “I’m worried about you, hyung. You’ve hardly slept lately and all you eat is protein shakes.”

  Jimin glances down at said protein shake he’s in the process of putting together before giving a halfhearted shrug. Taehyung appears at his other side suddenly, looking equally concerned. “I’m worried too, Chim. You always look so exhausted and you have these big dark circles that you didn’t have before you started working at the station,” Taehyung says, poking at the skin under Jimin’s eye for emphasize and getting his hand promptly slapped away.

  “You guys, I’m fine,” Jimin snaps at them in exasperation. “I just have a lot on my plate right now.”

  They’re about to reply, but Jimin snaps the top onto the blender and turns it on quickly, the loud, grating sound making his eardrums ache and effectively drowning out his two friends.

  Jimin downs the shake and quickly gets dressed in a pair of sweats and a loose black tank top, gym bag over his shoulder, ready to head to the dance studio.

  “You coming?” Jimin asks Jungkook as he slides on his sneakers. Jungkook struggles to swallow his mouthful of cereal, shaking his head.

  “I’ll come down a little later,” he finally says, banging on his chest when the food slides slowly and uncomfortably down his throat.

  “Don’t make it too late,” Jimin says sternly. “We need to practice our routine.”

  Jungkook waves a dismissive hand at him before shoveling more cereal into his mouth. Jimin sighs in exasperation before wishing his roommates farewell and hurrying out of the apartment, smiling at Taehyung over his shoulder when he calls, “See you at work!” to his back.

  He rides the bus the ten minutes it takes to get to Hoseok’s dance studio, arriving just when the class of aged 10 to 13 year old students Hoseok’s teaches in the morning is leaving the studio. Upon spotting Jimin, they all bow deeply and call out a chorus of ‘good mornings’, which he returns with a tired smile.

  Once inside the air conditioned studio, Jimin spots Hoseok practicing a move in the mirrored walls across from him. Hoseok sees Jimin through the mirror and turns around with pursed lips. “I suppose it was too much to assume you’d actually take the day to rest,” he says in form of greeting as he comes up to Jimin, who ducks his head and smiles sheepishly.

  “I have to practice for the competition, hyung,” Jimin replies as way of explanation, and Hoseok crosses his arms, quirking a hip and raising a brow.

  “Jimin-ah, you already have your routine down perfectly, give yourself a rest and just focus on the group performance for now.”

  “I can still make it better,” Jimin counters, tossing his bag into the corner of the studio and walking over to the mirrors to begin stretching, Hoseok following behind.

  “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself,” Hoseok scolds him with a frown, and Jimin isn’t able to meet his eyes as he sits on the ground and begins stretching.

  “I agree. Whenever you’re not at the station, you’re here. You practically live here,” comes another voice, and Jimin looks up to see Kim Jongin, one of the other dancers who teaches at the studio, coming out of the little back office.

  “Ugh, not you too, hyung,” Jimin groans, and Jongin just smiles at him in amusement.

  “Yah, I’m teaching your 10 AM class for you since I thought you’d be taking the time to rest, but here you are, as usual,” the other man says, and Jimin at least has the decency to feel a little guilty.

  “I owe you one, hyung,” he smiles cutely, but Jongin only snorts, long immune to Jimin’s charms.

  “Just be glad I like you,” Jongin says with a shake of his head before beginning to stretch as well.

  The studio is empty save for the three instructors until the 10AM class arrives, and they take the chance to talk amongst themselves as Jimin and Jongin stretch, while Hoseok goes back to practicing that move from before.

  Once satisfied he’s loosened up enough, Jimin turns on the music he’ll be using for his solo and begins running through is routine, watching his movements in the mirrors closely.

  He practices his routine until the 10 AM class arrives, smiling at them apologetically when he tells them Jongin will be teaching them today and they whine loudly in response, saying he really needs to practice for the upcoming competition.

  He resumes dancing for a while, limbs aching and lungs burning by the time Jungkook arrives, clad in his usual loose white shirt and Timberlands.

  Hoseok and Jungkook give Jimin a chance to rest and catch his breath before they switch the music and move over to the other side of the studio to give themselves enough room from the class currently taking place. The three of them begin running through the group routine they’ll be performing at the 15th Annual Seoul Dance Competition next month, hitting each movement hard and precise.

  “Good! And…five, six, seven, eight!” Hoseok calls, leading the two younger men into the fastest part of the choreography.

  Jimin lets his body take over as the music flows through him, setting his blood on fire and his pulse racing in his ears. He lives for this; for the burn in his limbs and the sweat dripping down his body. For the way his lungs scream for air and his heart pounds out of his chest. For the way the adrenaline and endorphins make him feel light as air and yet sharp like a blade while he flows through the movements that have become muscle memory.

  Finally, Hoseok calls for them to stop, and they are met with loud applause from the class when the music shuts off, who had fallen still and been watching them practice with awe. Even Jongin claps, a wide smile on his face as Jimin bows to them, cheeks flushed bright pink both from exertion and embarrassment at the praise. He sinks to the hardwood floor with a gasp, laying on his back and staring up at the ceiling, struggling to suck air into his lungs. His whole is body on fire and his heart is pumping so hard he feels like it’s going to burst, and he loves it.

  “Good job, guys. I think that’s enough for today,” Hoseok praises them after gulping down a bottle of water. “We’ll bring in the background dancers next week so we can start getting used to performing with them.”

  Jimin sits up with a groan, still panting and sweating heavily. “If it’s okay, I’m going to practice a little more, hyung. I still have some time before I have to head to my mom’s.”

  Hoseok frowns at him, and on the floor next to him, Jimin can see Jungkook giving him a disapproving look. “Jimin-ah, you’re going to overwork yourself,” the older man says. “You’ve done more than enough for today. Plus, you still have to work tonight.”

  Jimin shifts uncomfortably under Hoseok’s hawk-like gaze. “I’m fine, really. I just want to get a little more practice in.”

  Hoseok is silent for a few moments before he sighs in defeat. “Just don’t overdo it, okay? We need you to stay healthy for the competition.”

  Jimin nods enthusiastically and jumps to his feet, wincing in pain when his muscles protest. His legs feel like jelly and he almost stumbles when his knees buckle, and he hopes to god neither Hoseok or Jungkook notice. It seems he’s in luck though, because at that moment, Hoseok’s midday adult class begins arriving, and Jungkook gathers up his stuff to head back home.

  “Are you going to be coming back home before work?” He asks Jimin as he slings his gym bag over his shoulder.

  “No, I don’t think I’ll have time,” Jimin replies, grabbing his headphones out of his bag so he can practice to his solo music and not disturb the classes. “I’ll shower at my mom’s place and head to work straight after I’m done with the grocery shopping.”

  Jungkook sighs at him before nodding. “Just go easy, yeah? At this rate you’re going to collapse. And please eat something, okay? Real food, not freaking protein shakes.”

  Jimin glares at his roommate. “Yeah yeah, okay mom. I’ll get a salad during my break or something.”

  Jungkook clucks at him disapprovingly, but finally surrenders. “Have a good day at work,” he tells Jimin as he pushes through the studio’s front door. “Don’t let that asshole Kwon walk all over you.”

  Jimin scoffs at him, offended because he doesn’t let Kwon walk all over him thank you very much, but before he can fire a sassy retort, Jungkook is already gone. “Aishhh, this kid.” Jimin mutters to himself while he takes his place in front of the mirrors and begins his choreography again.

 

 

~

 

 “Yah, Jihyun-ah, come help me with the groceries,” Jimin calls out as he pushes the front door of his mom’s house open, arms filled with paper bags full of food.  He hears some loud thumping, and a moment later, his younger brother comes jogging out of his room, a grin on his face.

  “Food!” The younger boy cries happily, rushing out to where Jimin had dragged the rest of the groceries off the bus and set them in the driveway. Jimin smiles fondly while he kicks off his shoes and shuffles into the tiny kitchen where his mom is sitting at the little round table, going through a pile of bills. She looks up when he enters and immediately tries to hide the bills under plate of cookies next to her, but Jimin isn’t that slow.

  “How much?” He asks quietly as he sets the groceries on the counter. He hears his mother sigh from behind him.

  “A lot. There’s the rent, electricity and water, the hospital fees, and Jihyun’s tuition.”

  Jimin turns back to his mother, fixing a bright smile on his face that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s fine. The competition is coming up, and if I win, we’ll use the prize money to pay off as much as we can. For rent this month, I’ll ask the landlord to give us another extension.”

  His mother looks at him sadly, and Jimin feels his heart ache at the sorrow in her eyes. “I’m so sorry that we’re such a burden on you, honey. I wish things were different. I wish…”

  “There’s no use in wishing, eomma,” Jimin says softly, dropping into the chair next to her just as Jihyun comes padding into the kitchen, arms filled with groceries. “It is what it is. We’ll be fine.”

  “I can get a part time job,” Jihyun pipes up suddenly, and they both look up at him. Jimin feels a wave of guilt when he sees the look of uncertain determination on his brother’s face.

  “No, you won’t,” Jimin replies with a shake of his head, freshly washed blonde hair falling into his eyes. “You need to focus on your studies right now.”

  “But, hyung—“ Jihyun begins to whine, but Jimin holds up a hand to stop him.

  “This isn’t up for negotiation.” Jihyun sighs loudly, but chooses not to push it. Jimin glances at the clock above the stove and groans internally.

  “I have to get going now, I have to be at the station soon.”

  He changes into the extra black slacks and white dress shirt he keeps at his mom’s place for when he can’t make it back to the apartment, rolling up the sleeves to his elbows and fixing his skinny back tie in place. He says his goodbyes to his family before catching the next bus that’ll take him to downtown Seoul where Bangtan News Station is located, his body screaming with every movement and aching with exhaustion.

 

~

 

  Jimin arrives at the café to place his usual coffee orders before he walks over to the station. He waits while the barista keys his order into the register, already knowing it by heart since he comes to order it every day.

  “One black Americano and an iced caramel macchiato,” she mutters while she types, mostly to herself, before looking up at Jimin with a smile. “And a separate order of a blueberry muffin, right?” Jimin grins back at her and nods, pulling out the card Kwon gave him for the station’s orders, and his own cash out of his wallet.

  Once he has his order, Jimin rushes towards the station, being careful to balance the to-go trays in his arms, sweat forming on his forehead from the blistering sun that beats down on him. As he hurries, he tries to keep his weak knees from buckling.

  Once inside the station, Jimin rides up to the news room, where everyone promptly descends on the coffee and Kwon yells at him to set up the news desk.

   He grabs the new scripts from the control room and places them in their respective spots at the desk, before setting down the news anchors’ coffee orders in their places; the iced caramel macchiato for Chaeri and the black Americano for Yoongi.  As usual, Jimin carefully sets the paper bag containing Yoongi’s blueberry muffin next to his drink, glancing around to make sure nobody is watching him. Satisfied no one is paying attention, he straightens and smiles down at the muffin.

  He’d just exited the news stage when Kwon calls, “Anchors on set!” and Jimin feels a surge of anticipated excitement. He tries to catch a glimpse of Yoongi through the news crew from his cover in the shadow of one of the cameras.

  Sure enough, through a parting between two sound crew men, Jimin’s gaze alights on Yoongi, looking bored and sleepy as usual.

  He’s wearing a gray suit jacket with a black tie this time while he follows behind a cheery, bouncy Chaeri as they make their way up to the news desk. Jimin feels a burst of butterflies when Yoongi plops down in his swivel chair and immediately grabs the muffin, the blank look on his face lighting up ever so slightly as the stylist noonas swarm him and Chaeri.

  Yoongi has time to finish the whole muffin this time, grabbing the script and reading through it while the stylists finishes up. Looking up from the papers, Yoongi quirks a brow. “Did we change the layout of the fourth paragraph about the stock market changes?”

  That’s another thing Jimin likes about Yoongi; he reads through the script ahead of time and seems to have a really good memory. Sometimes he doesn’t even need to look at the script during a broadcast if he’s had enough time to memorize it beforehand.

  “Yeah,” Kwon replies as he comes out of the control room right when one of the crew is pinning the microphones on the front of the anchors’ clothes. “EP Han said it didn’t flow very well, so we edited it.”

  Yoongi grunts in acknowledgement and sticks the earpiece into his ear when it’s held out to him.

  “Alright people, four minutes until live, take your places!”

  Everyone scrambles to obey, and with a final pat of the powder compact to Yoongi’s flawlessly pale skin, the stylists exit the set while the lighting crew begins setting up the lighting, and the operation crew runs a few last minute tests as the cameras are turned on and adjusted.

  “Okay, start countback from ten,” Kwon speaks over his headset as Yoongi and Chaeri adjust in their chairs. Kwon begins counting back, and everyone waits in anticipation until he finally calls, “And, cue!”

  The blinking red lights on the cameras come to life, and the opening sequence of the broadcast plays over all the screens, a man’s deep voice introducing the broadcast;

  From Seoul Headquarters, this is 7 o’clock Bangtan News with Min Yoongi and Gu Chaeri.

  Once the little jingle that plays over the image of the station’s logo is over, the cameras focus on the two news anchors. “Good evening to our viewers on this Thursday night, and welcome to Bangtan News. I’m Min Yoongi,” Yoongi bows at the camera the same time that Chaeri does, warm smiles on their faces.

  “And I’m Gu Chaeri!”

  “And on Bangtan News tonight, we come to you with breaking news; a helicopter crashes into the ocean…”

  Jimin’s attention to the broadcast trails off while he watches Yoongi dreamily, his heart fluttering every time he hears that raspy, husky voice that might, kind of, maybe, turn him on a little. Or a lot.

  Jimin wonders what that voice would sound like moaning his name.

  He realizes what he’s thinking and shakes his head to dislodge the inappropriate thought. Park Jimin, you fucking pervert, he scolds himself in his head, his cheeks turning pink as he hides in the shadow of the camera. The man operating the camera gives him a strange look, and Jimin realizes with a flood of horror that he might have actually whispered that out loud. Thankfully it seems like the cameraman was the only one who heard, quirking a brow at Jimin before turning back to the camera screen.

  “Pan in on camera four on my cue,” Jimin can here Kwon’s voice through the cameraman’s headset next to him. “And…now.”

  The camera angle changes to show a close up of the anchors’ faces, and Jimin sighs in appreciation at how Yoongi’s smooth ivory skin practically glows in the light and his black hair gleams ebony.

“…Eunlee-ssi, thank you so much for taking us inside the reality of women’s rights in South Korea,” Yoongi says, bowing respectively towards the camera as the reporter Eunlee does the same from her end, and Jimin realizes that more than half of the broadcast is already done during the time he’d been ogling Yoongi. The screen showing the pretty female reporter defaults back to the logo of Bangtan News, and the cameras focus back on Chaeri and Yoongi, who glances down at his script before speaking again.

  “Back here at home, a debate tonight prompted by a video of an eleven year old boy at a gun range in Gangnam learning to shoot a powerful automatic weapon. Bangtan News’ Byun Baekhyun tells us what happens next…”

  After the rest of the broadcasts finishes and  Zhang Yixing, the weekday weather reporter, announces that the grueling heatwave will continue for at least another few weeks, is over, the cameras pan back to Yoongi and Chaeri, who wish everyone a good night and say their goodbyes.

  “And, cutout!” Kwon calls, and all the cameras promptly turn off. “Nicely done, everyone, that’s a wrap!”

  While Jimin hurries around following Kwon’s commands a little while later, he spots Yoongi standing by the doors of the news room, browsing through his phone while he waits for something—probably to talk to Kwon. Jimin stands still and stares at Yoongi, biting his lip while he debates whether or not to approach him. He wants so badly to go up to Yoongi and talk to him, but the beautiful news anchor doesn’t even know he exists.

  Ah, what the hell? Why not.

  Seizing a surge of confidence that hits him just then, Jimin steels himself and approaches Yoongi slowly, his grip tightening around the stack of files he’s holding while he takes tentative steps towards the older man. His heart speeds up and his stomach swirls with a thousand butterflies when he comes to stand in front of Yoongi and gives him a quick bow. Yoongi doesn’t even so much as look up at him.

  “U-um,” Jimin begins hesitantly, wincing at how cracked his voice sounds. “I just wanted to say you were really good tonight, Yoongi-ssi.”

  Yoongi barely spares him more than a half second’s glance before his gaze drops back to his phone in boredom, but Jimin’s heart soars because Yoongi has never once looked at him before, and it’s better than nothing.

  “Thanks,” Yoongi grunts, and Jimin melts a little at his raspy voice. He realizes that it’s the first time Yoongi has ever spoken to him before, and it fills Jimin with happiness.

  “Park!” A sharp bark from behind him makes Jimin jumps. Kwon stalks up to him and Yoongi and sends the blonde a glare. “What are you doing standing around? Go prepare tomorrow’s script.”

  “Yes, PD-nim,” Jimin bows to him quickly, shooting Yoongi one more glance before hurrying away. Yoongi doesn’t once look at him again.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

  Jimin is so tired he can barely keep his eyes open. His schedule has been so packed lately that he hardly has time to eat or sleep. He barely even had time to take a five minute shower after coming home from the dance studio this morning, his aching muscles screaming in protest with every movement. The fatigue must be getting to him because even dancing is becoming a little more difficult than usual. His muscles grow tired faster and he becomes winded easier. He blames it on the stress of trying to come up with the money for all his mom’s bills, the upcoming competition, his job at the dance studio, and on his job at the news station, where they run him ragged and work him into the wee hours of the morning sometimes.

  Jimin’s been feeling a little nauseous lately too; his stomach hurts and he always has a dull headache throbbing in his temples. He has to drag his exhausted, aching body out of bed each morning and force himself to go about his day, struggling to remain awake and alert and not trip over his heavy feet. He’s so tired he’s almost delirious, his mind is filled with fog and his movements are slow and sluggish.

  So maybe that’s why it happens.

  “Park, we go live in ten minutes, hurry your ass up and set up the news desk,” Kwon barks at him, startling Jimin out of a reverie where he’d been standing blankly in the middle of the news room, arms filled with coffee, not even realizing they’d all been taken except Chaeri’s and Yoongi’s.

  “Sorry, PD-nim,” Jimin mutters as he makes his way into the control room, not even glancing down at the night’s scripts when he snatches them off the desk, too tired to function. He grabs a copy for himself too because sometimes he likes to read along with the anchors while they go through the script. Jimin ambles his way to the presentation area and sets the scripts in front of the chairs, placing the anchors’ coffees in their respective spots. Even though he’s so tired he could collapse, Jimin still takes special care with Yoongi’s muffin, adjusting the paper bag this way and that until he’s satisfied. Once finished, Jimin trips his way off the stage and goes to huddle in the shadow of his usual camera to wait for Yoongi’s arrival.

  When two minutes pass, then three, then four, and the two news anchors still haven’t arrived, Kwon grows more and more anxious. “We’re live in four minutes, where the hell are they?!”

  It’s with exactly two minutes until they go live that Chaeri and Yoongi arrive, Chaeri looking frantic and even Yoongi looking a little more flustered than usual. Jimin frowns because they were probably together. It’s a popular rumor in the station that Yoongi and Chaeri are sleeping together, and the thought fills Jimin with remorse and discomfort and jealousy.

 “Where the hell have you been!?” Kwon roars as soon as he sees them, not even waiting for an answer as he shoos them up to the news desk. Yoongi doesn’t even have time to grab his muffin before its snatched away by one of the frantic stylist noonas as she begins patting his face with a compact faster than the speed of light.

  “We’re live in thirty seconds, hurry!” Kwon yells as Yoongi’s and Chaeri’s stylists hurry away once they’re done and one of the operation crew runs up and snaps on their microphones, shoving in their ear pieces and making Yoongi and Chaeri wince at his roughness.

  “Clear the set!” Kwon calls, and Jimin holds his breath. They’ve never been this close to the wire before, and he’s not the only one who is filled with anxiety. Practically the whole news room is watching with wide eyes and bated breath as Kwon counts down until they go live.

  “…four, three, two, one, and…cue!”

  The station’s opening sequence plays while Yoongi and Chaeri settle into their chairs, trying to smooth out their flustered expressions; 

  From Seoul Headquarters, this is 7 o’clock Bangtan News with Min Yoongi and Gu Chaeri.

  The logo shows and the jingle plays, and then Kwon saying, “Camera two, pan in now”,  the cameras focus in on the two news anchors, who smile widely, looking perfectly relaxed and at ease.

  “Good evening to our viewers on this sweltering Monday night, and welcome to Bangtan News. I’m Min Yoongi,” Yoongi bows at the camera the same time that Chaeri does, warm smiles on their faces.

  “And I’m Gu Chaeri!”

  “And today we bring you…” Yoongi trails off when he glances down the script in his hands, and the news room sucks in a collective breath. What the hell is he doing? Jimin thinks frantically.

  “Uh, today we, uh…” Yoongi looks up at the camera and Jimin can see him gulp nervously. His eyes flick over to where Kwon is standing off camera, and Chaeri’s eyes widen when she looks down at the script.

  Confused, Jimin looks down at his own copy of the script in his hands, and his blood immediately runs cold.

  Because there, clutched in his hands, is not the script for the 7 o’clock news. Instead, it’s the script for the 5 o’clock news. The news that had aired two hours ago.

  No…no…there’s no way, Jimin thinks in horror, his eyes frozen on the wrong script. And sure enough;

  He’d switched them by accident.

  Both the 5 o’clock news and the 7 o’clock news are both recorded in News Room Three, and their scripts are both kept in the control room. Jimin should have checked to make sure it was the correct one, but he was so out of it with exhaustion he hadn’t even looked.

  What has he done?

  Jimin has ruined a live, national broadcast singlehandedly. Thousands upon thousands of people are watching and he’d just fucked everything up. He almost stumbles when the force of the terrifying realization hits him hard.

  “Oh my god,” Jimin breathes to himself, his whole body going cold as ice. His breath hitches in his throat and an overwhelming wave of horror floods him. His breathing is beginning to become a little labored when he hears Yoongi clear his throat, and his eyes snap up to see that the black-haired man has seemingly regained his composure.

  “As I was saying, tonight we bring you the story of a man who jumped from a four story building and survived…”

  Jimin’s eyes widen when he realizes Yoongi is reciting the correct script from memory, and he can’t help but be a little relieved. The quiet whispering that starts up from the people behind the cameras pitches him into another wave of nausea though, and his chest feels like it’s being squeezed in a vice. He stands there, frozen like a statue while the broadcast continues, icy apprehension and downright fear washing over his body, and he falls into some sort of horrified trance.

  Oh god, oh god, oh god, he repeats in his mind like some fucked up mantra. He’s really going to get fired now. That thought has his stomach clenching so painfully he doubles over a little bit with a soft groan. He’s going to get in so, so much trouble. The station might even go as far as suing him.

  He forces his mind away from that thought, because he simply can’t think about that right now.

  “… has been Min Yoongi,” Yoongi’s voice cuts into Jimin’s consciousness, and he realizes with a jolt of alarm that the broadcast is already over and his moment of truth is coming.

  “And Gu Chaeri,” Chaeri chirps next to Yoongi with a beaming smile.

  “And this has been Bangtan News. Thank you for watching, and have a great night,” Yoongi and Chaeri both bow to the camera in unison.

  “And, cut!” Kwon calls.

  A heavy stillness settles over the news room when the cameras cut off.

  The second as they do, Yoongi immediately surges up from his chair, face livid, the 5 o’clock script clutched tightly in his hand.

  “Who the fuck was it?!” He yells, and a shocked silence falls around the news room at his outburst. When no one replies, Yoongi’s eyes snap to PD Kwon, who gulps at the terrifying look on Yoongi’s face. “I asked, who the fuck was it?”

  Jimin pales when Kwon looks over at him nervously, where he stands frozen in the middle of the news room with the wrong script in his hands. Yoongi follows Kwon’s gaze until his sights land on Jimin, and he feels his stomach drop into his feet when Yoongi’s fierce eyes narrow at him.

  Oh god, I’m dead now.

  Yoongi is known to have quite a temper, and Jimin now finds himself about to be faced with it.

  Jimin’s heart begins racing so hard that it feels like it’s about to break out of his chest as Yoongi begins taking slow, deliberate steps towards them, the eyes of every person in the news room following them with bated breath. Jimin can practically see the fury radiating off of the black-haired man, and he trembles. A cold sweat breaks out over Jimin’s body when Yoongi stops in front of him, and he quails under the strangely unreadable look in Yoongi’s eyes.

  “Was it you?” Yoongi’s voice is soft, almost gentle, and that scares Jimin more than if he were yelling.

  When Jimin doesn’t answer in fear for his life, Yoongi’s lips tighten. “I asked, was it you? Were you the fucking idiot who messed up the scripts?” His tone is louder, harsher this time, and Jimin jumps in fear. Terror curls in the pit of Jimin’s stomach and he can feel the beginnings of a panic attack starting.

  Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Taehyung step into the news room just then and immediately stop, staring with wide eyes at the scene before him. Jimin wants nothing more to run to him and hide in the safety of his best friend’s arms. They’d planned on having a late dinner together during their break, and the box grin on Taehyung’s face slips off to be replaced by a look of shock.

  “Did you hear me? Are you stupid? Can you not understand me?” Yoongi hisses, drawing out his words slowly as if speaking to a child, and Jimin realizes with a jolt he still hasn’t responded. “Was. It. You?” Yoongi’s words are low and dangerous, and a shiver of fear curls up Jimin’s spine.

  “Y-yes,” Jimin squeaks out, his voice barely more than a whisper, and yet it carries through the silence of the news room as if he’d shouted it at the top of his lungs. Yoongi sucks in a sharp breath and seems to draw himself up, while Jimin on the other hand, shrinks lower, folding in on himself and trying to appear as small as possible. His hands are shaking and his stomach is clenching in knots. His head aches and spins and hurts so bad he could almost cry out.

  “What kind of fucking idiot mixes up two completely different scripts?” Yoongi growls, and Jimin winces as at the harshness of it. “How is it even possible to be that stupid?” His voice is growing in volume again, and around them, people are beginning to look a little nervous. Yoongi takes a threatening step towards Jimin, who shrinks back again, his heart hammering wildly and his body now covered in a heavy sheen of cold sweat. Is Yoongi going to hit him?

  His palms are cold and sweaty and the death grip he has on the script in his hands is slicing a sharp papercut into his palm, but he barely notices. The only thing he’s aware of is Yoongi staring at him with a look so filled with rage and disgust and contempt that Jimin feels like he’s going to be sick.

  “Who put an idiot like you in charge of something so important?!” Yoongi continues, yelling now, eyes ablaze as he focuses all his fury on a trembling Jimin in front of him. “What’s your name?” When the blonde doesn’t reply, too paralyzed with fear to even get his tongue to move, Yoongi steps forward again, and with a collective gasp from those watching and a little yelp from Jimin, he smacks the stack of papers out of the younger’s hand. They go raining down onto the floor in a flutter of dozens, and there’s a little spot of red on some of them from the cut on Jimin’s palm. “What is your fucking name?!

  Jimin flinches as if physically struck, Yoongi’s booming yell making even Chaeri, who is watching with wide, horrified eyes from the news desk, jump.

  “P-Park Jimin,” he finally chokes out, practically whimpers, and Yoongi curls his lip at him in contempt.

  “Park Jimin. A stupid name for a stupid kid.”

  Jimin doesn’t even notice that his bottom lip has started to tremble and his eyes are filling with tears until Yoongi’s eyes widen at him, eyebrows shooting into his hairline and a disgusted smirk pulling at his lips.

  “Are you fucking crying?” When Jimin’s only response is a fat tear rolling down his cheek that he wipes away quickly, Yoongi shakes his head, as if in awe. “Pathetic,” he says after a moment, and there’s a breathless laugh in his voice, as if he can’t even believe such a thing is happening right in front of him. “Fucking pathetic!” He throws the crumpled up 5 o’clock script at Jimin’s chest with force, and even though it doesn’t actually hurt, Jimin feels as though he’s been hit in the chest by a freight train.

  “Yoongi sunbae,” someone speaks up quietly, and everyone looks up to see Taehyung taking a step closer, and Jimin has to bite back a sob at the look of sharp concern on his face when he glances at Jimin. “I think that’s enough.”

  Yoongi laughs harshly, the sound like the grating of nails on a chalkboard. “No offense, Taehyung-ssi, but this isn’t any of your goddamn business. Who the hell is he to you?”

  Jimin can see Taehyung’s eyes narrow, and he knows he’s about to say ‘he’s been my best friend since we were in diapers and my roommate and basically my brother, how fucking dare you’, but Jimin stares pleadingly at him, shaking his head so minutely that Taehyung is the only one who notices. His best friend stares back at him, and Jimin can see him struggling on what to do when another panicked look from Jimin makes him nod slightly and step back.

  “That’s what I thought,” Yoongi says with a mean smile before turning the full force of his gaze back on Jimin, who quivers under the look, trying desperately to stop more tears from flowing. “You almost ruined a live, national broadcast by your idiocy, do you realize that?” Yoongi asks in a dangerously quiet voice, and when he pauses, Jimin realizes he’s actually waiting for an answer. So, swallowing the last little bit of pride he has left, Jimin gulps thickly and nods, eyes downcast and his stomach turning nauseously.

  Yoongi seems satisfied with his answer because he purses his lips and nods. “At least you know how fucking stupid you are,” he states coldly, and Jimin’s chest squeezes in pain, head spinning and throbbing. Yoongi turns to where Kwon has been watching with eyes the size of an owl’s. Next to him stands Executive Producer Han Sooyin, who Jimin hadn’t even noticed before in his tired haze, and he wants the floor to open up and swallow him when he sees her. The goddamn Executive Producer of Bangtan News had been witness to his mistake. She watches Jimin with something akin to…concern? In her eyes, and he quickly looks back down at the floor in burning shame.

  Yoongi points his finger at Jimin sharply while he glares at Kwon. “I’d suggest finding someone with an actual brain to do this job.”

  And with that, Yoongi breezes by Jimin, knocking into his shoulder roughly and sending the slightly shorter man stumbling, trampling across the scattered papers on the floor as he goes.

  The silence lasts even after Yoongi leaves, and with a strange look at Jimin, PD Kwon goes running after the fuming news anchor a moment later. Jimin can feel the eyes of everyone in the news room on him, some in shock, some in disappointment, and some in pity, and never in his life has he been so embarrassed and ashamed.

  Jimin is frozen in his spot, body trembling and eyes filling with fresh tears,when he feels warm arms enfold him and begin tugging him gently away. “Come on, Chim Chim,” Taehyung’s deep, familiar voice sounds softly in his ear, and Jimin has to bite back a sob while he lets Taehyung lead him out of the news room, dozens of eyes on his back as they go.

  Jimin allows his best friend to escort him down the mostly deserted hallway, his head ducked and his face buried in Taehyung’s shoulder. He barely registers when Taehyung pushes open the door of a men’s bathroom with his hip and leads him inside. He leaves Jimin by the sinks while he quickly checks under all the stalls, and once satisfied that the bathroom is empty, he promptly locks the door and turns to Jimin.

  “Chim,” Taehyung says gently, and that’s all it takes for Jimin to lose it.

  A loud sobs rips through his throat and the tears he’d been trying so hard to blink away begin cascading down his face like a waterfall. Taehyung is there immediately, pulling him into a tight hug. He doesn’t say anything as Jimin cries into his shoulder for a while, only rubs his back and pets his best friend’s blonde hair gently.

  The waves of nausea churning in Jimin’s stomach becomes too strong though, and with a little whimper, he peels himself away from Taehyung and stumbles into one of the stalls, falling to his knees and promptly spewing his meager breakfast of protein shake into the toilet. He feels a warm hand rubbing his back soothingly while he empties the contents of his heaving stomach, throat burning and unattractive gagging sounds escaping him, eyes pricking with fresh tears.

  Finally, when it seems like there’s nothing left to throw up, he slumps against the toilet, groaning in pain through his tears. When Taehyung is certain he’s finished throwing up, he picks a weak, trembling Jimin off the tiled floor and leads him back to the sinks, lifting him up so he’s sitting on the counter and his legs are dangling under him like a child. Taehyung grabs a paper towel and wets it in the sink before beginning to wipe at Jimin’s mouth gently, and his tenderness has a fresh wave of tears cascading down Jimin’s face.

  “Oh, hyung,” Taehyung murmurs quietly, grabbing a clean paper towel after he’s finished wiping Jimin’s mouth to dab at his red, swollen eyes. “It’ll be okay.”

  “H-he was so m-mean to me,” Jimin wails pathetically, a little hiccup punctuating his words when he buries his face in his hands. “And now they’re going to f-fire me.”

  Taehyung pulls Jimin’s head forward to rest in the crook of his neck, his hands patting Jimin’s back in a soft one, two rhythm. “I hate him,” Taehyung growls, staring at himself in the mirror as Jimin whimpers into his neck. “I fucking hate Min Yoongi, that son of a bitch.”

  “I’m so stupid,” Jimin cries into Taehyung neck, whose arms wrap around him tightly. “He was right, I’m stupid and pathetic and u-useless.”

  At that, Taehyung pulls away sharply and holds Jimin back by his shoulders, fixing him with a hard look. “Park Jimin, you listen to me right now,” he begins, and Jimin’s crying quiets a little at the sternness in Taehyung’s voice. “You are one of the smartest, kindest, most talented people I have ever met in my life. Don’t you ever, ever think what that bastard said is true, do you understand? You are worth so much more than what you think, and this world would be a lot duller without you in it. Someone like Min Yoongi could never be so lucky to know someone as pure and amazing as you. So don’t you ever think that about yourself, okay?”

  Jimin stares at Taehyung with wide, shocked eyes, a wave of overwhelming love for the younger man hitting him full force in the chest and bringing forth a new wave of tears. “T-Tae!” He sobs brokenly, and his best friend sighs patiently before he hugs Jimin tightly once more.

  It takes a long time before Jimin finally calms down, not being able to produce anymore tears. Taehyung cleans him up as best as he can; wipes his red, tearstained face, smooths his damp blonde hair away from his sweaty forehead, cleans up the cut on Jimin’s palm, straightens his black tie, and pulls a tube of chap stick out of his pocket to rub it across Jimin’s dry, cracked lips, which despite his current state, still brings a bubble of broken laughter from his throat.

  “Come on, let’s go home,” Taehyung says gently, holding out his hand for Jimin to take as he slides off the counter.

  Taehyung wraps an arm protectively around a shaking Jimin, who has his face tucked into his friend’s body and his shoulders hunched with tension. Taehyung peeks out from the bathroom to make sure the coast is clear before he leads Jimin out. Unfortunately, from where they’re at on the third floor, they’ll either have to take the elevator and risk being seen by everyone, or the horribly long flight of stairs down to the lobby.

  “What do you want to do, Chim?” Taehyung asks after voicing that exact situation. The very thought of eight flights of stairs makes Jimin’s already weak legs quake, but the idea of walking through the lobby where anyone can see him hiding his tearstained face in Taehyung’s shoulder makes him physically sick. He’s sure the news about what happened has already spread through the station, and there’s sure to be gossip and rumors already starting.

  “Stairs,” Jimin finally croaks, his voice raw from crying, and Taehyung nods, already turning them in the opposite direction of the hall to take him to the stairwell. His best friend pauses at the metal door that opens onto the stairwell and pulls out his phone to call a cab. Jimin waits until he’s finished, his stomach feeling a little better but his headache now a full blown migraine that pounds against his temples like a jackhammer. Once Taehyung is finished calling a taxi, he begins slowly helping Jimin down the stairs.

  Jimin’s already weak legs give out from under him on the last flight of stairs, the muscles of his calves and thighs shrieking in pain. Taehyung grunts and wraps his arms tighter around Jimin to steady him and keep him from tumbling down the stairs.

  “Hang in there, hyung, we’re almost there,” the brunette tells him when he finally pushes open the door leading out into the lobby of the station. Instead of walking across the wide, airy lobby that’s fairly busy with their bustling coworkers, Taehyung immediately takes a sharp left towards a side door by the ground floor bathrooms, avoiding the eyes of the people in the lobby.

  It’s already dark out when Taehyung pushes open the glass door to the outside, but the heat is still suffocating, and Jimin is hit with a blast of such hot air that he gasps. The taxi is already waiting for them at the curb, since Taehyung had told them which entrance they’d be coming out of. He slides Jimin into the coolly air conditioned vehicle first and buckles his seatbelt as if Jimin were a child. As he closes the door and buckles his own seatbelt, Taehyung gives the taxi driver the address of their apartment.

  Jimin rests his aching head against the window while the taxi begins moving, not really hearing Taehyung when he says something to him. A buzzing in his pocket indicates he has a text, so Jimin reaches into his pants to pull out his phone;

From: PD Han

Take tomorrow off and rest, Jimin-ssi. We’ll talk on Wednesday.

  Jimin groans and drops his head back against the seat, eyes squeezing shut. Taehyung plucks the phone out of his hand to read the text, and Jimin doesn’t need to have his eyes open to see the frown that crosses his best friend’s face.

  Jimin doesn’t remember much after that. At some point they arrive at the apartment, and Jungkook comes out to meet them after receiving a call from Taehyung, and they somehow get him back up to their room. They take off Jimin’s shoes and his tie and settle him in his bed. Taehyung tucks him in like a goddamn mummy, wrapping him up in his sheets until he looks like Jimin-sized burrito, while Jungkook places a glass of water and two painkillers on his bedside table for the morning.

  A thought of ‘I’m so lucky to have friends like them in my life’ drifts through Jimin’s mind as Taehyung turns the lights off and closes the door behind him, before Jimin falls into blessed unconsciousness.

 

 

Chapter Four

 

  When Jimin wakes up the next morning, he feels like the actual incarnation of death.

  His body is heavy and sore to the touch, his eyes are red and swollen, his face is blotchy and stiff with dried tears, and his mouth feels like the fucking desert. It feels the same as waking up with a hangover, his brain banging against his skull with a vengeance and making him groan out loud. Jimin downs the painkillers and water Jungkook had left for him the night before, gulping down the liquid greedily and wiping at his chin when some water dribbles past his dry, cracked lips.

  Glancing at the clock on his bedside table, he blanches when he sees that he’s slept an extra three hours more than he usually does. Although his body still aches, it’s more from sore muscles and stress than actual fatigue, and he realizes the extra sleep has probably done some good to his exhausted body.

  Rolling out of bed with an unattractive cracking of his joints, he stumbles his way out of the bedroom and is immediately assaulted by the scent of something cooking when he opens his door, and his stomach rumbles loudly in response.

  Turning the corner into the kitchen, Jimin comes upon the sight of Taehyung standing at the stove and Jungkook brewing a pot of coffee while they chat amongst themselves. Upon sighting Jimin, Jungkook exclaims, “Hyung!” and Taehyung flips around to look at him, a soft smile on both of their faces.

  “How’d you sleep?” Taehyung asks, plastic spatula hovering halfway over the pan on the stove while he watches Jimin closely.

  “Better. My body feels less tired,” Jimin admits, his voice hoarse and raw, and he winces at the sound of it. Taehyung seems satisfied with his answer, because he points to the small round table with his spatula before turning back to the stove.

  “Take a seat, breakfast is almost ready.”

  “What is it?” Jimin asks as he sits down gingerly, his muscles protesting.

  “Chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, and bacon,” Taehyung replies, and Jimin’s stomach growls again.

  “Hyung, do you want coffee or tea?” Jungkook asks as he pours a cup of coffee for himself and Taehyung.

  “Tea, please,” Jimin replies, resting his elbows on the table and running a hand through his flat blonde hair tiredly.  Jungkook nods and sets about to prepare the tea for him.

  A few minutes later, Jungkook sets a steaming mug of green tea in front of Jimin, who wraps his small hands around it, relishing in the warmth. “Thanks, Kook.”

  “Breakfast is ready,” Taehyung announces at the same time, and a moment later, they are all seated at the table, a big stack of pancakes drenched in syrup, scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon on their plates. Jimin is hungry, but he’s not sure he’ll be able to eat all the food that his roommates keep shoveling on his plate, his small stomach so used to his regular diet of protein shakes. As if sensing his thoughts, Taehyung points his syrupy fork at Jimin threateningly, eyes narrowed.

  “You’re going to eat all of this,” he says sternly. “No more protein shakes for you until you get all your strength back.”

  Jimin is about to protest, but Jungkook interrupts, “Yeah, you need to be healthy and take care of your body for the competition, hyung,” he mumbles over a mouthful of pancakes, and Jimin frowns at him.

  “Yeah, but—“

  “If Hobi hyung found out how badly you’ve been taking care of your body lately, he’d ban you from competing altogether,” Jungkook states, and Jimin promptly snaps his mouth closed.

  “You won’t tell him, right?” Jimin looks between Jungkook and Taehyung nervously.

  “Not if you listen to us,” Jungkook replies simply, and Jimin sighs in defeat because he knows he has to settle for that answer for now.

  After breakfast, Jungkook and Taehyung have to physically stop Jimin from leaving the apartment to head to the studio.

  “But I have my 10 AM class to teach,” Jimin whines at Jungkook, who is blocking the door with his body.

  “I already called Hobi and told him you aren’t able to make it today, and he said that’s fine and he’ll have Jongin fill in again.”

  Jimin groans loudly and stamps his feet in annoyance, probably looking like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Taehyung and Jungkook just smile in amusement at him. When Jimin tries to make a quick dodge around Jungkook to get to the door, hoping to be fast enough, he squeals loudly when the younger man catches Jimin and bends down to lift the blonde of his shoulder as if he were as light as a ragdoll. He makes sure to give Jimin’s butt a firm slap before carrying him over to the small couch in the cramped living room and dropping him unceremoniously onto it.

  “Yah!” Jimin yells with and ‘oof’ when he’s tossed onto the couch, glaring at Jungkook while Taehyung laughs behind him. “Jeon Jungkook, how many times do I have to tell you to stop manhandling me?”

  “Stop giving me a reason to,” Jungkook retorts as he flop down next to Jimin. “You’re going to stay home and rest today, and we’re going to watch movies and play games and eat junk food and give you a much needed break.”

  Jimin crosses his arms moodily and pouts, glaring down at his lap as Taehyung sits down on his other side. “I’m going to get fired tomorrow and then I’ll have a permanent break, so there’s no need for any of this.”

  “Even if that’s the case, we’re going to take your mind off of it and just have a fun day together,” Taehyung says, and Jimin doesn’t miss the way his roommate doesn’t try to deny what he just said. “We haven’t had one of those in a while.”

  Jimin just grumbles to himself, because truthfully he does miss days like that when they’d all just hangout and enjoy each other’s company.

  “Hey, should we invite Jin and Namjoon over tonight? We can have dinner!” Taehyung pipes up, and Jungkook grins at him in excitement.

  “And Hobi! We’ll have the whole gang over!” They both look at Jimin with expectant expressions, and he bites his lip in thought.

  “Yeah, that sound snice,” he finally says, and his two friends cheer in excitement.

  “I’ll call Jin now. Jungkook, you call Hobi,” Taehyung tells Jungkook, already pulling out his phone.

  Jin, Namjoon, and Hoseok all readily agree to the gathering, with Jin offering to cook dinner, to which Taehyung had happily agreed, because Jin is the best cook of their group and the thought of his cooking makes all their mouths water.

  They have time to kill before their friends come over, so all three of them try to decide on a movie.

  “Die Hard!” Taehyung says the same time Jungkook cries,

  “I vote for Iron Man!” And both Jimin and Taehyung give him dirty looks.

  “Hell no, Kook, you’ve made us watch that damn movie so many times I can recite it in my sleep,” Jimin says, making the younger man frown and cross his arms in a pout.

  “We should let Chim pick,” Taehyung turns to Jimin with an expectant smile, who furrows his eyebrows while he thinks.

  “Gone With the Wind!” Both of his friends groan loudly. “What?” Jimin glares at them. “It’s a classic!”

  “You’re such a hopeless romantic, hyung.” Jungkook sighs, but stands up to pop in Jimin’s chosen movie.

 

 

~

 

  Later that night when Jin, Namjoon, and Hoseok arrive, they all attack Jimin with bear hugs, and in Jin’s case, sloppy cheek kisses.

  “Ahh! Hyung!” Jimin squawks in indignation when Jin plants a big wet one on his cheekbone, wiping at his cheek in disgust while Jin only laughs gleefully.

  Jin gets to cooking in the small kitchen, Taehyung assisting while Namjoon pouts about being banned from the kitchen in fear of him accidentally chopping off a finger.

  They all sit down to eat at the table that’s way too small for all six of them, but they somehow make it work. Jin serves them heaping plates of every food imaginable, and for the second time in one day, Jimin eats until he’s about to burst, laughing with his friends at Hoseok’s wild stories and Namjoon’s near death experiences, and groaning loudly at Jin’s awful dad jokes.

  “Hamburgers… do you know what color they are?” Jin begins, and everyone sighs in anticipation of the stupid answer. “Burgundy! Burger-undy!” Jin starts laughing way too hard and the sound of window washing noises fill the small apartment. Poor Jimin can’t handle the cheesiness and Jin’s seal laugh and he bursts out laughing as well. He’s the only one though as everyone else just groans.

  “So,” Jin says when there’s a lull in conversation, and Jimin knows what’s coming.

  “You heard?” He asks quietly, and Jin and Namjoon give him sympathetic looks. The two of them are Bangtan News' 5 o’clock anchors, but Jimin has known them for years before any of them started working at the station, Jin’s mom begin a close friend of Jimin’s growing up.

  It’s their script that Jimin mixed up with Yoongi’s.

  “It’s not so bad,” Jin says while Jimin stares down at his mostly empty plate. “You know, I remember the same thing happening to Min Yoongi himself when he was still an intern.”

  Jimin’s head snaps up to stare at Jin with wide eyes. “What? What do you mean?”

  “He messed up the scripts with none other than PD Han Sooyin when she was still a news anchor,” Jin nods, and Jimin gapes at him while shock floods his system.  “It didn’t turn out as good as it did with you though, because she didn’t have the script memorized beforehand like Yoongi did.”

  Everyone listens with rapt attention to Jin as he continues. “Thankfully, before there was too much of an incident with her not knowing her lines on national TV, breaking news of an eight car pileup came in and saved her ass. It gave them time to get her the correct script while the cameras were cut out.”

  Jimin tries to process this new information, the gears turning in his head. Yoongi had done the exact same thing he’d given Jimin hell for? Not only that, but he didn’t get fired? Holy shit. Jimin wonders if there’s a chance…

  Long after his friends leave and he’s in bed freaking about going into the station the next day, his mind turns this new information in his head over and over until he falls into a restless sleep.

 

 

~

 

  The day after the incident with that stupid employee who fucked up the scripts, Yoongi arrives in the news room with about ten minutes until his broadcast, still moody about the whole ordeal. That dumbass kid had almost made him look like a complete idiot on national TV, and he still isn’t over it. Yoongi follows after Chaeri when she prances into news room, and he rolls his eyes at her eternal cheeriness, pretending to be annoyed.

  “Anchors on set!” Kwon calls as usual, but Yoongi ignores him while he stalks up to the news desk and sits down heavily, squinting in the stage lights that shine on him.

  The first thing he notices is that his blueberry muffin isn’t there.

  Yoongi frowns down at the lone cup of coffee that sits next to his script,—which is the right one this time, thank god—muffin nowhere to be seen.

  For the last three months, every day without fail, there had been a big, fresh blueberry muffin waiting for him when he arrives at the news desk each evening, and sometimes it’s the only reason that he drags himself to work each day.

  So why isn’t it here?

  Yoongi looks around in dumb confusion, as if he’ll see someone running up to him with the muffin, panting and apologizing for being late. But the only people running up are the stylist noonas, one of which immediately begins attacking his face with that damn powder compact. He grumbles in annoyance and tries to dodge around her, his eyes landing on Kwon hurrying around while he does final checks on all the equipment before they go live.

  “PD Kwon! Where’s my muffin?” Yoongi calls grumpily, because he wants his freaking muffin, goddamn it. Kwon doesn’t even spare him a glance though, his mustache quivering as he breathes heavily in exertion from rushing around the news room, trying to juggle all his duties. He waves dismissively at Yoongi before his sights land on a lone cameraman by the control room.

  “Yah, what are you standing around for? Get to work!”

  Yoongi sighs in frustration, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms broodingly while the stylist begins touching up his black hair.

  What the hell?

 

~

 

  Jimin steels himself as he stands before Executive Producer Han Sooyin’s office, his hands trembling and a cold sweat breaking out on the back of his neck. This is it. The moment of truth. In his mind, he’s already going over different places he can apply to. He’ll have to update his resume. Maybe he’ll have Namjoon help him with that.

  Lifting a shaking hand, Jimin’s heart jolts with each tentative rap he taps on the door.

  “Come in,” a voice calls from inside, and Jimin thinks he’s going to be sick. He turns the knob and pushes the door open.

  Han Sooyin sits behind her big desk in a large, attractive office, the windowed wall behind her looking out onto the Seoul skyline. She glances up from her computer and a smile graces her elegant face when she spots Jimin.

  “Jimin-ssi,” she greets warmly, and Jimin bows to her, wanting to pass out. “Please, have a seat.”

  Jimin forces his heavy feet across the office and sits down gingerly in the seat on the other side of the desk. “How are you doing?” She asks, and Jimin can’t bring himself to meet her eyes, his cheeks turning pink with embarrassment at the kindness in her voice.

  “I’m fine,” he mutters, fiddling with his hands where they rest in his lap, waiting for the inevitable. She hums and leans back in her chair, her fingers steepling together as she watches him.

  “I’m sure you’re wondering what’s going to happen now,” she begins, and Jimin’s body tenses in anticipation of her next words.

  “First of all, I’m not going to fire you, so you can relax.”

  Jimin’s head snaps up, his mouth dropping open to gape at her. “W-what?”

  She smiles in amusement at his shell-shocked expression. “You’re not being fired,” she repeats, and Jimin leans back in his chair, his mind trapped in some sort of daze, struggling to make sense of her words.

  “I’m not?” His voice is barely more than a breath, trying to comprehend what’s happening. He’s at a loss for words.

  “No, you’re not.  You made an honest mistake, and I don’t think you should be punished for it,” she continues, and Jimin is stunned into silence. “Lord knows this exact…incident...has happened before.”  Jimin realizes she must be talking about what happened with her and Yoongi a few years ago, just as Jin had said.

  “S-so…if I’m not being fired, what’s going to happen?” He asks nervously once he’s able to get his tongue to work again, dreading her answer.

  “Obviously, you’ll have to be taken off script duty,” she says, and Jimin ducks his head as a wave of shame washes over him. “For now, you’ll simply be doing some clerical duties; coffee runs, answering telephone calls, filing records, assisting PD Kwon,” at this, Jimin tries to hide his wince, but Han’s hawk-like gaze doesn’t miss it.

  “If you’re uncomfortable with that—“

  “No!” Jimin exclaims quickly, sitting ramrod straight in his chair. “I’m fine! It’s okay!”

  Han is silent for a moment while she quietly watches him, and Jimin burns uncomfortably under her gaze. “Great,” she finally says, and Jimin breathes a sigh of relief. “Can you start back tomorrow?”

  “Of course!” Jimin grins, hopping to his feet and bowing deeply to her. “Thank you, EP-nim, thank you! Thank you!”

  She chuckles at him warmly. “You’re very welcome, Jimin-ssi.”

 

~

 

  Jimin steps up to café’s front counter, where the usual barista greets him with a smile. “The usual, right?” She asks, and Jimin nods, trying to return the smile, but his nerves are so on edge it’s difficult.

  She types in the order before looking up again. “Separate blueberry muffin?”

  At this, Jimin’s smile falters and his heart twists. “U-uh, not today,” he forces out a mutter, and she looks at him in surprise.

  “Oh. Okay…well, your order will be right up,” she continues after blinking at him a few times. “I’ll call you when it’s ready.

  Once his arms are full of coffee, Jimin makes his way the short distance to the station, heart hammering painfully and stomach clenched in knots. As soon as he pushes through the revolving doors into the lobby, eyes land on him and whispering starts up. Jimin keeps his head ducked, eyes on the white tiled floor, cheeks aflame and body burning with the gazes of his coworkers.

  “Isn’t that the guy who messed up the scripts?” Someone whispers as he passes them on his way to the elevators.

  “I think so. Anchor Min yelled at him in front of the entire news room, and I heard he even started crying.” Jimin wants the floor to open up and swallow him down.

  He somehow makes it up to the news room without have a mental breakdown, arriving earlier than he usually does. He’d left extra early from the studio in the morning to buy the coffee and get to the news station to cut down on the chance of seeing Yoongi as much as possible.

  He spots Kwon exiting the control room, and with a deep breath to steady his shaking hands, he approaches the older man slowly, fully prepared to be yelled out in the middle of the news room for the second time in as many days.

  When Kwon looks up and spots him, Jimin freezes, his heart thudding wildly, but Kwon only narrows his eyes at him and beckons him closer.

  Oh god.

  “G-good morning, PD-nim,” he stutters once he’s in front of the man, looking down at the floor, body tense.

  “It’s the evening, Park,” Kwon states, and Jimin winces. But his voice isn’t mean or cold, it’s simply bland. Jimin glances up in confusion to see Kwon giving him a look that’s almost…guilty?

  “Right,” Jimin gulps, holding out one of the to-go trays for Kwon to grab his iced chai, not meeting his eyes.

  “Go ahead and set up the coffee at the desk and then I’m going to have you work on detangling all the camera wires, because it’s one giant knot and those dumbass camera operators never bother to keep them in order. The scripts are already in place, so don’t worry about that.”

  Jimin stares at Kwon with wide eyes, because is he being…not nice, per say...but, civil? Jimin wonders if maybe he’s actually asleep back in his bed and he’s just having a really weird dream.

  “Okay,” he says tentatively, turning towards the news desk when Kwon just grunts in acknowledgement.

  There’s a half hour until they go live, and Yoongi usually doesn’t arrive until five or so minutes before they go live because he and Chaeri are probably making down in a supply closet or something. Jimin scoffs to himself while he places the news anchors’ usual orders in there spots. Who the hell is he to care who Yoongi makes out with?

  He stares down at Yoongi’s coffee for a moment, because it looks so strange and lonely without a brown paper bag containing a blueberry muffin sitting next to the paper cup. He pushes down a wave of sadness that fills him and turns away sharply.

  Jimin leaves the presentation area to begin working on a giant tangle of wires at a corner of the news room where a few unused cameras are set up. It’s going to take a while, so with a huff, he sits his ass right down on the floor and pulls the tangled knot into his lap, earning a few strange looks from some of the operation crew.

  He sets to work, his small fingers slowly twisting and working the wires apart, and it’s strangely calming in a way. Monotonous and relaxing, he’s able to just focus on his task and let his thoughts wander.

  Jimin absentmindedly remembers he wants to try changing up one of the moves for his solo routine, and he decides he’ll ask for Hoseok’s opinion when he sees him tomorrow. Jimin also remembers it’s his turn to do the grocery shopping next, and he makes a mental note to get some s’mores poptarts for Jungkook, which are his favorite. Jimin wonders if he should take up yoga. It’s supposed to be relaxing, and he could really use some relaxation right now. Maybe Pilates? Taehyung took Pilates once. He hated it, so maybe not.

  “Anchors on set!”

  Jimin jumps at the sudden call, looking around wildly and realizing he’s been so absorbed in his task that he hadn’t even noticed how much time had passed. His heart jumps into his throat and a wave of fight or flight adrenaline hits him full force when Yoongi comes waltzing into the news room behind Chaeri.

  Jimin chooses flight.

  He’s sitting in the corner of the room and he shrinks further back into the shadows of the cameras when Yoongi passes, praying to the gods that be that he won’t be noticed. Thankfully, Yoongi passes right by him, and the second he does, Jimin is on his feet and scurrying towards the door right as Yoongi is stepping up to the presentation area.

  Kwon is standing near the door checking something off on a clipboard when Jimin stops just long enough to mutter, “Uh, PD-nim, I’m going to run down the street and get everyone some take-out kimchi.”

  Then he’s escaping out the door, body shaking, with Kwon’s confused gaze on his back as he goes.

 

 

~

 

  It’s the second day in a row that there’s no blueberry muffin waiting for him, and Yoongi is not happy. His eyes search for Kwon so he can demand answers, finding him by the door right as a flash of blonde catches in Yoongi’s vision before it’s gone.

  “PD-nim,” Yoongi calls as his stylist appears out of thin air and comes at him with her handy-dandy makeup compact. Kwon looks up when his name is called and sighs when he sees Yoongi beckoning him over.

  “What is it, Yoongi-ssi?” The man asks tiredly as he approaches the news desk.

  “Where’s my muffin?” Yoongi demands without preamble, trying to dodge around his stylist to see Kwon.

  The mustached-man frowns at him in confusion. “What muffin?”

  Yoongi furrows his eyebrows at the director. “The muffin that I always get with my coffee,” he replies, waving his hand at said coffee as if to prove his point.

  “I don’t know what muffin you’re talking about. The station doesn’t pay for a muffin when we order the coffee, if that’s what you’re asking.”

  Yoongi stares at him in confusion, not quite sure what the man is getting at. “Then why is there always a muffin waiting for me?”

  “PD-nim!” Someone calls from the control room, and Kwon looks back with an annoyed groan, already turning to hurry away. “I don’t know, Park Jimin always brings the coffee. Ask him if you want,” he calls distractedly over his shoulder.

  Yoongi stares after him with a frown. “Who the hell is Park Jimin?”

  His stylist, who is in the process of brushing through his eyebrows, pulls away slightly and quirks a condescending brow down at him. “He’s the one who messed up the scripts, remember? The poor kid you embarrassed in front of everyone? You know, the one you made cry?”

  Yoongi blinks up at her in surprise for a moment, when the memory of the other day comes flooding back; Yoongi yelling at that dumb blonde employee who’d started crying. Yoongi shifts uncomfortably in his seat while the stylist noona goes back to grooming his eyebrows, pointedly dragging the spoolie a little too roughly through them.

  “Oh.”