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“ …should really learn how to fit a mic yourself, Hoseok. Y’know?”

 

“Yes, OK, but consider this, Taehyung: I’m still learning the ins and outs of using this format. It’s not like I needed to learn how to use a mic. It’s not something that they taught me in university, OK?”

 

“Excuses, excuses…”

 

[There is a series of static sounds as the microphone pack is attached to Hoseok - off-camera. A blur of a white tee-shirt passes camera A thirty seconds later as Taehyung moves to his spot, and it is followed by a rapid series of clicks from the laptop placed beside the camera.]

 

“Is this switched on?”

 

“No, Hoseok, I put the mic on you and left it switched off as a joke. Just for some fun. Really?”

 

“I can’t trust you, Taehyung. We both know this. Especially after that time you offered to drive me to the interview with Oh and you got the wrong Starbucks, and I almost missed the opportunity to interview the greatest director in the goddamn country and-”

 

“Hoseok, can you sit on the sofa, please? I wanna check the focus on camera C, wanna get the best angle possible for facial shots; yeah?”

 

“Oh? Sure thing.”

 

[Hoseok moves from across the hotel room to get to the sofa, shifting to sit on the middle cushion so that he is in direct line of camera A. He has a series of pages in his hands, and a small, black microphone is visible and attached to the front of his light blue, button-down shirt. He glances at the papers before turning to his left to look at camera B.]

 

“Ah, no, the camera closest to me. That’s B, that’s for panned shots. C is here.”

 

[There is a soft rustling sound to the right of camera A, and Hoseok turns to look to his right instead.]

 

“Give us a smile, a wave, whatever.”

 

[Hoseok moves to place his fingers beside his face, in the ‘peace’ symbol, and he holds the pose for three seconds before dropping his hand back down to his papers. There is a series of rapid clicks and rustling from off-camera, signalling that Taehyung is adjusting the camera C focus.]

 

“Nice, that was cute.”

 

[Hoseok smirks at this as he studies his papers, flicking between the first pages. Taehyung moves to get back to the laptop, hitting more keys before making a soft humming sound in approval.]

 

“Cute? Oh, are you flirting with me right now?”

 

“What? Flirting whilst the cameras are rolling, so you can blackmail me in the office next week? Yeah, sure I am.”

 

[Hoseok looks up sharply at this, glancing over camera A to look at Taehyung, his eyes round with something that looks like genuine surprise.]

 

“What? We’re rolling? Did you start recording already?”

 

“Well, yeah, I set the cameras up first, Hoseok. Of course we’re rolling.”

 

“I said set them up not start recording, Taehyung and- OK, well, that’s just more material that we’re going to have to cut before we present this to Woo…”

 

[From close to camera A, a weary and dramatic sigh sounds, presumably coming from Taehyung. It is followed by low muttering, but the words are not picked up by the camera.]

 

“Hmm? Did you say something?”

 

“Nope, I’m good.”

 

[Hoseok spares quick glances up at this as he resumes checking his pages, his expression showing that he doesn’t believe Taehyung in the slightest.]

 

“So, he’s gonna be here in what…five minutes?”

 

“Less than that. Why do you ask, Taehyung?”

 

“I was just wondering how you’re feeling about this interview, is all.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“How’d you feel about Park Jimin, about the entire situation. Is he…y’know, the kind to flip out and leave in the middle of an interview if you piss him off? I just don’t want you getting too excited over this deal, y’know?”

 

[Taehyung sniffs at this, a low leather creaking sound signalling that he has just moved in his seat. Hoseok silently studies him over his interview papers for five seconds before lowering them.]

 

“Have you been following the drama at all online? The Twitter feuds, the inflammatory and atrocious articles ran in the daily papers that represent one side and one side only of the entire situation?”

 

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen the shit those try-hard rappers have been spreading online. I’ve went on their accounts and saw the thinly veiled threats, the macho ‘real man’ bullshit. Who hasn’t? It’s a pretty shocking feud in the entertainment hub right now, even if it’s the whole ‘underground’ scene and not the mainstream. Shit, Hoseok, we both know that in Seoul, the only thing underground about the hip hop scene is the fact they perform in club basements. Everything else is fake, mainstream posing.”

 

“OK, good. You know more than I’m giving you credit for…for once.”

 

“For once?”

 

[Taehyung’s snort is detectable off-camera, followed by a series of rumbling chuckles as he laughs to himself.]

 

“Taehyung, we both know that the way that this very private, very sensitive issue has been handled, is not only morally wrong, but possibly legally wrong too - should SJ Records decide to pursue a libel case on behalf of Park Jimin. It’s the only angle that they have right now because they can’t pursue a discrimination case like they could in, oh I don’t know, Europe or America or whatever. They only have libel, and they have testimonial, documentary and demonstrative evidence - they made sure to state this in the phone calls that we shared. The company is more than prepared to push this forward into a legal case.”

 

“OK.”

 

[Hoseok shifts on the sofa at this, moving to place his papers down on the table to free up his hands so that he can gesture with them.]

 

“What we’re doing is giving him a platform to express himself the way that he wants to. If Park Jimin wants to lie and pursue a libel case with his company, it’s our job as a magazine to allow him to remain safe in the dark. Even if every single person involved knows the real truth, Taehyung.”

 

“Yeah, I get that.”

 

“Forced outings in the media are the bane of our existence. Not only because our magazine gives people the ability to come out on their own terms the right way, when they’re ready, unlike those disgusting hounds that steal the opportunity for their own gain and nothing more; but because they’re also unforgivable. Look at the fact that several of the only open celebrities in the industry have committed suicide, and then draw a parallel to this entire situation.”

 

“Yeah, I did some last minute checking for you last night actually, Hoseok. I pulled figures from a government-sponsored organisation called ‘The Korean Health Promotion Foundation’ in relation to completed suicides, and statistics from various studies. 77% of LGB teens will think of suicide, just over half of them’ll attempt it, at 54%. We’ve published the findings before in other awareness articles. But I think that we should run them again, just for this article, with all of the outside attention that it’s gonna get.”

 

“Yes, that’s a good idea, Taehyung, that’s a very good idea. This interview’s going to be hard-hitting. It’s going to upset our readers, and it’s going to upset Park Jimin too. Run them in the article, both printed and the online format in the form of captions; remind everyone, and be sure to include the charity helplines too. I’ve got a feeling that they’ll be getting constant phone calls for the next couple of months because of this entire fucked up spectacle.”

 

[For a minute, the hotel room turns silent. Hoseok is still sitting in front of camera A, his gaze focused on the papers on the table in front of him. Taehyung can be heard off-camera hitting more keys and fiddling with the equipment.]

 

“OK, I take it back. I don’t think that he’s gonna be an issue for us when you put it like that. I guess that I didn’t think about the fact that neither of them were given the chance to represent themselves beyond Twitter; that fucking cancerous pit of hate and neurosis. That isn’t the kinda place to address this issue at all, not when it’s them versus the world.”

 

“Just think of those statistics, Taehyung. Think about how either one of them could become one of those figures - pray to whoever the hell is up there listening that that never happens. That’s why we need to cover this story whatever way that Park Jimin chooses to go through with it.”

 

“Nah, I don’t think that we need to worry about that. They’re both tough and cocky bastards, especially that D-boy. Some of the tweets that he’s been posting, Christ, he’s like a pungsan when he’s pushed into a corner - he’s all bite, no bark. Are we gonna, uh, call him that? Or should we use his real name when interviewing Park?”

 

“I think that we should use ‘D-boy’ when discussing the musical aspect for the sake of relevance to readers and the media. Perhaps, we could use his real name when discussing the personal; should he give us that opportunity. Park might choose to completely clam up on the personal. So, not using his real name until he makes it clear that it's acceptable to do so would be for the best.”

 

“Yeah, D-boy’s like his superhero name, right? It’s a shame that Park didn’t use one to hide behind from the very start too, y’know, ‘cos double identities are the best kinda thing for us and-”

 

[A knock sounds from somewhere off-camera. The audio is muffled, but comes from the left of camera A. Hoseok shifts to look across the hotel room before getting to his feet, nothing other than his black trousers visible for two seconds. Then he quickly moves out of the frame.]

 

“OK, Taehyung, some ground rules. One: don’t ask questions unless he asks you something when the interview is underway. If you have any thoughts, jot them down, and I’ll review them during an intermission. Otherwise, the interview is going to get confusing as hell when the technician-cum-assistant journalist starts taking charge.”

 

“Uhuh, I’ll do that, but that requires me thinking, Hoseok.”

 

“Very funny. Two: if Park Jimin starts playing the ‘hiding in the closet with the winter blankets’ routine - do not judge him. Show understanding. If he looks you right in the eyes and says “I’m not a fucking homo”, just nod and say that you understand. That’s important.”

 

“Don’t call him a homo, got it.”

 

“Taehyung.”

 

“What? I can say that word, can’t I?”

 

“Technically, not really. I mean, ignorant people might call you that for being bisexual, but I don’t really know if you should say it, I- ah, we’re getting distracted!”

 

“Yeah, are you gonna answer the door or should I; ‘cos he’s kinda been left hanging and-”

 

[The sound of Hoseok’s footsteps and rustling clothing is detectable from somewhere behind camera A. Then there is a soft clicking sound as the hotel door is opened.]

 

“Good evening, Park, and I’m so sorry about that momentary delay. We were just finishing up getting the cameras ready.”

 

[Hoseok’s voice is loud enough to be picked up across the distance because of his microphone. His voice is crisp and clear, rather than muffled or crackling from the static feedback.]

 

“It’s OK, you don’t need to apologise.”

 

[Jimin’s voice is slightly less clear, but he is still standing in the detection range of the microphone. The sound of more footsteps and rustling clothing signals that he has stepped inside of the hotel room at last.]

 

“Wow, there’s quite a lot of cameras. You two must’ve been really busy setting them up.”

 

“Ah, it was no biggie, I can set these babies up pretty quickly. It’s the focus and all of that that takes effort.”

 

[From beside camera A, Taehyung moves to get out of his chair. The leather creaks as he does so, followed by several crackling sounds as he grabs something off the table.]

 

“If I could just get the mic on you in advance, Park-”

 

“Huh, oh, of course.”

 

[There is a series of rustling sounds off-camera, followed by the crackle and pop of static as Taehyung secures the microphone box onto somewhere on Jimin’s body.]

 

“Have you ever done an interview like this before, huh?”

 

“Um, we did a couple of small interviews for Newsen and Dispatch. But they weren’t like this format, no. They were casual, had a couple of photos in them that were taken during the actual interview. We had a couple of live ones too, but nothing this…deep.”

 

“What about a pictorial?”

 

“Yes, Taehyung, Park was interviewed by Dazed and Confused alongside D-boy roughly two months ago, as part of their D-B duo. That was under his artistic pseudonym, of course. It was a fantastic editorial piece, and it involved them interviewing each other from just several prompts. In terms of content, it was a great read, and the photoshoot that accompanied it was magnificent, I must say.”

 

“Oh, thank you. It was the best interview that we got to do together before all of this…happened.”

 

[Jimin’s voice is now crisp and clear because of his microphone, though none of them are visible on camera A. Only the sofa and table are visible on the low angle, and their shadows can be seen moving across the warm, orange-lit walls behind the item of furniture.]

 

“That’s a shame, Park. I’m sorry to hear that.”

 

“Anyway, introductions are in order. Hello, it’s nice to finally meet you face-to-face, Jimin. Is it OK if I call you that?”

 

“Uhuh.”

 

“I’m Jung, Jung Hoseok. We spoke on the phone briefly, but mostly it was your company that agreed to this interview on your behalf. Still, I’d like to personally thank you for giving our magazine the chance to feature your story, to give you the platform that you need to not only address the current hostilities and shocking inequality in the Seoul underground scene - the same scene that had been clamouring to have you feature on tracks barely two months ago; but to also tell the world what you think and feel about this matter in your own words.”

 

[From behind camera A, the sound of a soft clap followed by loud rustles is detected. Presumably, Hoseok and Jimin have just clasped hands in a handshake and dropped their heads respectfully.]

 

“Um, you’re welcome. Is it OK if I call you Hoseok? Or would you prefer Jung?”

 

“Hoseok is fine. I much prefer casual interviews, don’t you? I feel that it’s less intimidating for people if there’s a sense of conversation in the air, rather than interrogation.”

 

“That’s nice, I like that. I, um, I looked into several of your articles after we spoke on the phone, actually. The interview that you did with Oh, director Oh Chansung, about his film that included a lesbian couple in it? I found that interview fascinating because it read so…so naturally, I guess? It was just like you were having a conversation with him, and I was sitting there listening to you both talking.”

 

“Thank you, Jimin.”

 

“And what’s your name?”

 

[More movement is picked up from camera A, as Jimin crosses the hotel room to possibly offer his hand to Taehyung too. He casts a slight shadow over the lens as he does so.]

 

“Kim, Kim Taehyung. I’m not an interviewer, shit, I’m not even a fully certified journalist yet. I’m here for the tech: audio, visual. Just to assist Hoseok, seeing as he can’t work a camera for the life of him.”

 

“Oh, are you like partners? Is he your intern?”

 

“God, I hope not.”

 

“Hoseok, if you keep joking like that, I’ll mess up the focus and you’ll have nothing more than blurry pixels to present to Woo.”

 

“You wouldn’t dare!”

 

[Jimin laughs at this back-and-forth conversation as he moves into the frame, revealing a pair of distressed jeans, and a heavy, black hooded sweatshirt. His face is not visible, but his hands are. Both hands have many rings on them, and there are papers gripped in one of his hands. The microphone pack is also visible, stretching the back pocket of his jeans around the large chunk of black plastic.]

 

“Um, should I sit down here? Right here?”

 

“Yes, the sofa just there.”

 

[As Jimin shifts to sit down, Hoseok and Taehyung move to do so too - the sound of rustling clothes, creaking leather, and soft exhales filling the hotel room. Jimin’s face is hard to read on account of the fact that it is mostly hidden behind a pair of round coloured sunglasses, and his hood is tugged up over what looks to be a baseball cap.]

 

“Is everything alright with the cameras and mics?”

 

“Let’s do a quick final check. Hoseok, could you give your mic a spin; do an introduction for the editing?”

 

“OK, testing, testing. This is Jung Hoseok, journalist for Seoul’s one and only lesbian, gay and bisexual monthly lifestyle magazine - Flame. The date is the…18th of September, 2017, and I’m here interviewing Park Jimin. Yes, is the audio clear, Taehyung? Are we getting that?”

 

“Uhuh. Park, you too, please?”

 

“Hello, I’m Park Jimin, solo artist and one half of the ‘D-B’ duo with D-boy. Is that OK?”

 

“Yeah, it’s all clear, the mics are good. Can you move a little, maybe give us a wave or something?”

 

[Jimin moves his papers into one hand so that he can lift the other and give the cameras a wave in turn - turning to the left to wave at camera B, then the front to eye camera A, and then the right to give camera C a final wave, tinkling his fingers with a little flourish for cuteness.]

 

“Uh, I hate to be this guy; but, Park? Could you maybe lose the shades or the hood? It’s hard to see you on the feed, and I can’t gauge the lighting too good.”

 

“Oh, of course, Taehyung. I completely forgot. I’ve got a headache, so, I’ve been wearing them for most of the day. It’s a stress headache, not a hangover.”

 

[Jimin laughs as he tugs his hood down, revealing most of his face to the cameras.]

 

"As you can probably imagine I’ve had a-a stressful day today."

 

[Jimin removes his sunglasses to place them down on the table first, and then he removes the black baseball cap. He tosses it onto the sofa cushion beside him, reaching up to rake a hand through his hair. Though camera A isn’t focused on his face, his features are still discernible on the angle and through the room lighting. His droopy but highly expressive eyes look slightly swollen, presumably from lack of sleep, and they seem to be ringed with smokey eyeliner and possibly some eyeshadow. His small and sharply pointed nose casts slight shadow onto his face, and his full lips are visible enough for camera A to pick up a hint of his front teeth as he nibbles on his lower lip.]

 

“Hang on one second, guys, just gotta…”

 

[Taehyung shifts to adjust the room lights using the dimmer switch beside the door, moving back and forth between the wall and the laptop several times until he is satisfied with it. Then he drops into the chair with a soft grunt and hits several keys.]

 

“Do I look bad, huh?”

 

[Jimin asks this in a quiet voice, his eyes shifting to study camera C because he must have figured out that it was the one focused on his close-up.]

 

“What, huh- no, not at all Park, you-”

 

“You look fine, Jimin. I’m sure that your fans will think that you’re very handsome, as will a lot of our readers.”

 

“Fans? Hmm, if I have any left by the end of this.”

 

[Jimin looks away from camera C, placing his papers down on his lap so that he is able to start fiddling with one of his countless rings.]

 

“Is this, um, is this a one-shot kinda deal? I know that we’re not streaming anything live, thank god. But how exactly does this work, Hoseok?”

 

“The interview can be as long, or as short, as you want it to be, Jimin. As you know, it’s…8:30pm right now, and I’m used to interviews stretching on well into the early morning hours. But, that’s entirely up to you.”

 

“OK.”

 

“In terms of the interview content, there will be some slight editing, of course. That’s just for the sake of timing, flow, and to get rid of any unnecessary pauses, much like how interviews for idols go. You signed a disclaimer form, as did both companies, and the form states that there will no malicious editing of the content to: change your words with the intent to misquote you; include any content that you request be removed from the final cut during the recording process, and up to three days after the interview; or to insert questions into the content that weren’t asked with the intent to use your words against you. OK? Are you following all of that?”

 

“OK, I understand, and I trust you, Hoseok. It’s not like you can make me look any more unpleasant, right?”

 

[Jimin grins at camera A with this joke, but it looks rather forced.]

 

“Rest assured, Jimin, that no reader of our magazine thinks that you’re unpleasant, that you’re disgusting or deserve to be shamed and ridiculed. The readers of our magazine, they understand the reason why you decided to come forth and address the controversy surrounding you right now, regardless of whatever you decide to say.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Would you like anything, Park? A glass of water? Coffee? There’s a café downstairs for drinks. Hell, even food? I can order some to the room, I’ve got a feeling that we might need some later, if we get stuck into it.”

 

“Coffee would be nice, thank you, Taehyung.”

 

“I’ll be right back.”

 

[There is a dry creaking sound as Taehyung gets out of his chair, followed by a soft thud a moment later as the hotel room door is pulled shut behind him. Jimin looks across the room for five seconds before shifting his gaze to presumably look at Hoseok, and he gives the other man a brief smile.]

 

“…Kinda nervous.”

 

“You’re nervous? Oh, Jimin, there’s no need to be nervous during this interview. As I said, you take all of the time that you need to speak or answer questions. Should you want to answer them, that is. You’re in total control of your words and the direction of the interview. I’ve prepared countless questions in light of all scenarios, and phrased them as well as I can to avoid misleading or suggestive prompts. It looks like you’ve done the same thing too, with your papers.”

 

“This? Oh, this is the interview transcript that my company suggested that I, um, quote in response to your questions.”

 

[Jimin retrieves the papers from his lap, holding them up in front of him before quickly flicking through the pages. They crackle loudly in the silence of the room, the sound picked up by his microphone. It is hard to see it because it is pinned onto the front of sweatshirt, the black plastic blending against the matching, thick cotton.]

 

“That’s a lot of pages, Jimin. Are you a politician or a singer?”

 

“Ha, yeah, that’s what I thought too, I, um-”

 

[Jimin tosses the pages aside without a care, throwing them back over his shoulder. There is a soft rustle as they land on the flooring, possibly crumpled.]

 

“I don’t think that the pages are gonna be of any use to…to me, to this interview. Truthfully speaking, it’s damage control, and at this point, damage control is useless.”

 

“Jimin? I’m afraid that I don’t understand?”

 

“Um, I assume that you know how companies get idols to follow scripts - on TV shows, during interviews, pretty much twenty-four-seven if they can’t have someone monitoring them. Well, I’m not an idol, and nowhere in my contract does it say that they’ve that kinda control over me. They gave me suggestions, not orders, and I’m choosing to not follow their suggestions.”

 

“Yes, I understand that part, but what I don’t understand is the fact that you’re choosing to represent yourself without a plan of some kind. Have you thought about this fully, consequences and all? Because if it’s a spur of the moment decision, then you might want to take a moment to consider the complications, as I’m sure that your company did, Jimin.”

 

“I’ve thought about it entirely, yeah. I’ve been following the company’s suggested guide for the past week or so. But I’ve personally decided to ignore it in favour of…of being honest, and I’ve got his full support on the matter, Hoseok.”

 

[The hotel room falls silent for thirty seconds, until the sound of the door opening again breaks the silence.]

 

“I didn’t know how you take coffee, so, I asked for a latte and hoped for the best.”

 

“That’s fine, thank you.”

 

[Jimin shifts to get up off the sofa, mostly disappearing out of the frame of camera A. When he sits back down, there is a Styrofoam container in his hand, steam wafting from the hot surface as he places it down on the table.]

 

“Is everything alright? Are we ready to start?”

 

“Well, Taehyung, Jimin…Jimin decided that he doesn’t want to follow his company’s prepared script, in favour of…honesty.”

 

“Honesty? In what regard? I mean, honesty about the rappers and whatever, that’s pretty expected. I imagine that your company wants to drag the bastards as much as they can should this matter turn legal. But…but D-boy and the whole sexuality issue-”

 

“Can we…can we not talk about him right now? Like, can we focus on the, um, the earlier stuff first? For, you know, chronology? Or whatever the word is.”

 

[Jimin shifts his gaze to look at camera A for three seconds. His voice is quiet and he mutters something unintelligible, reaching up to rake his fingers through his hair again in something that looks like a habit. It is styled the same way as usual, parted and slicked back off his face with gel so that it vaguely looks wet, though stray locks always hang forward over his brow.]

 

“I’m still gonna talk about him, obviously. I just feel that rushing to get to that part in the story kinda…”

 

“It ignores the setting for the ongoing situation, and your developing professional partnership with D-boy.”

 

[Jimin hums in agreement at Hoseok’s suggestion.]

 

“I think that the setting is very important, Jimin. Not all of our readers are going to be fully aware of the underground hip hop scene, especially not on an intimate level like that which you can provide. It helps introduce quite a lot of the rappers that are currently involved in this feud, this ‘diss battle’. So, I think that you’re completely correct. We can start from whatever point you want, and then gently edge our way into talking about D-boy. OK?”

 

“OK.”

 

[Hoseok shifts in his chair off-camera, the sound of leather creaking softly as he gets comfortable. He retrieves his papers, which make a sharp crinkling noise as he sets them down on his lap. Taehyung also moves, presumably slouching in his own chair as he monitors everything on the laptop screen with his headphones on his head to keep a close ear on the audio. On camera, Jimin lifts his coffee to take a sip of it.]

 

“OK, so, Jimin. You moved from Busan to Seoul back in 2008, back when you were thirteen years old.”

 

“I did. My parents decided to relocate to the capital to pursue a rather unexpected career in owning a restaurant together. Despite them both previously working as lecturers in BUFS, they decided to go for it anyway. I think the first time that I ever managed to sneak my way into a hip hop club, I was just fifteen years old. That night, I was just…enamoured with the entire experience. I mean, I’d been interested in music prior to that night, but after that point, I knew that I wanted to get involved as more than just an observer.”

 

“You were a dancer, correct?”

 

“Yeah, I was, and I still am. I was an active dancer right up until graduating high school, but then I started focusing more on the musical aspect because I was just that obsessed. I, um, I knew that I had a lot of talent as a dancer, but I was willing to take a big risk by pursuing my dreams of singing. I just…I didn’t want to become an idol, even though I could’ve had a good chance at debuting as one, because that didn’t seem right to me.”

 

“You can sing, dance, and you’re handsome, Jimin. I’m sure that you would have had a very good chance of being accepted by any of the dozens of entertainment companies right here in the capital.”

 

“Oh, thank you.”

 

[Jimin smiles at this, a genuine smile that looks a little shy. His eyelids crinkle at the corners as he reaches up to cover his mouth, his rings catching the room light and glinting.]

 

“Why didn’t you want to join an entertainment company, Jimin? Was it because you were concerned about the fact that you might not have full control over your content, your lyrics and such?”

 

“I guess that it was partly that, but there were other things too. Becoming an idol would’ve meant living a completely different life to the one that I was used to, that I liked having: freedom, nights spent at clubs meeting people and drinking and whatever. But back then, I didn’t actually write any lyrics. I didn’t start writing lyrics until quite some time after I’d been signed onto a developmental deal.”

 

“The first rapper that you collaborated with on a physical track was ‘Killuh’, correct?”

 

[Jimin nods at the question, several locks of his hair falling into his eyes that he quickly rakes back with his fingers.]

 

“It was the track, ‘Feeling Your Body’ , that brought you massive media attention. Mostly social media attention, but enough to get you signed onto Moon Media as a result of the success, yes?”

 

“Yeah, more or less.”

 

[Jimin lifts a hand at this, seesawing it from side to side to gesticulate.]

 

“The utmost irony is that Killuh’s track brought you both recognition, not only you, Jimin. Yet, Killuh is one of the current rappers releasing diss tracks aimed at both you and D-boy, and publicly attacking you on social media. His current success; do you think that it’s debatable that he actually owes a great deal of that to you for featuring on his song?”

 

“Oh, yeah. I think that he owes me a lot of credit that he’ll never admit to now, after everything. But at the time, at the time Killuh was singing my praises - completely out of tune, of course.”

 

[Jimin’s wry joke made the two other men laugh, but his lips did little more than twitch at the corners.]

 

“Don’t get me wrong, the track was his. I just sang on it, but, I sang the hook, and the hook’s the part that everyone sings along to. Does it sting him that his most popular track is the one that I featured on, and that everyone who knows it sings my parts instead of his? Probably, maybe that’s why he wants me dead.”

 

“Do you want to talk about that period of your life first? Or would you prefer starting earlier than that? Would you prefer starting back to when you were still working the hip hop clubs as a singer on the weekends between school?”

 

“The feature’s the best point to start with. Before the feature, I was just hanging around various clubs, occasionally singing parts for guys that couldn’t carry a tune and getting small tips from the crowd. It doesn’t make sense to talk about that, not when nothing back then mattered.”

 

“OK, Jimin. Then, let’s start from there. Tell me about the breakout track, tell me about Killuh and the song that managed to break into the Billboard world digital chart for several weeks back in April, 2016.”

 

“Um, OK, so it was…”

 

 

 

 

 

The scent inside of the booth was rather unpleasant to his nose, though Jimin couldn’t figure out why exactly.

 

There was nothing inside, save for the hanging microphone, the sheet stand, and him; for the interior was completely naked. There wasn’t even a stool present for him to sit on, and the walls and flooring were bare. Yet, there was an unusual and very strong scent in the air that he greatly disliked. As he ran his eyes over the light wooden wall in front of him, he tried to figure out what it was that was causing the stench to pervade his space.

 

It was only as he shifted from one foot to the other that he realised that he was standing on something, and he dropped his gaze to see what it was.

 

There was something under his boot heel that looked like a cigarette. Except there was no filter on the end and it looked far too fat to be filled with tobacco.

 

The sight of a roach inside the booth with him made Jimin grimace as he lifted his foot and kicked it away. It explained the disgusting smell that was trapped in the recording booth at least. He watched it rolling across the floor to hit the wall, and then he shifted his gaze to eye the glass window to his left.

 

Sitting in the control room, Jimin could see two men. They were his partners currently, though a certain one of them didn’t look to be doing much right now. Nor had he done so for most of the day, as he had observed.

 

To the right, sitting at the console with one arm folded on the table and the other stretched out to hover over countless switches and sliders, was the man in charge of recording, mixing, and producing the current track that he was featuring on. He knew him by his pen name, ‘Bullseye’, rather than his actual name, and it was a pen name that he had noticed on quite a lot of tracks for several of the rappers that he had joined onstage over the last few months.

 

Jimin knew how he worked; he was a producer that did production deals for rappers that recorded, mixed and produced their material on their behalf, and then shared his profits with the company that had hired him in exchange for his services in collecting artists for them and completing projects.

 

Today was his first time getting to work with the man because none of those rappers had ever requested that he feature on their actual recorded tracks.

 

Bullseye was a slightly chubby man with a shaven head and facial hair. His revealed lower arms showed several tattoos, and his ears had countless rings through them - a pretty standard look for the kind of guys that were working in the Seoul hip hop scene.

 

Jimin had often thought that most of them looked like clones, especially when they all decked themselves out in the same brand clothing. Every single night, the clubs were a wash of predominantly black-clothed crowds wearing hoodies, sweatshirts and loose jeans, along with sunglasses, blinding grills, with flashing watch faces and countless chains.

 

To the left, currently lounged back in the other chair and lazily spinning it round and round in circles, was Killuh.

 

Much like Bullseye, Jimin didn’t know his real name and the rapper had yet to tell him it. He had a feeling that he wasn’t going to find out, not that he really wanted to know it. Considering the fact that he had been spinning around the entire time that he had entered the booth and had started recording his lines, Jimin got a sense from the other man that he really wasn’t interested in the musical process.

 

That, or he had smoked the joint that was still lying on the floor of the booth.

 

Killuh was wearing a hoodie with the hood pulled up, a black Yeezy hoodie at that. He still had sunglasses on, even when they were indoors. But Jimin guessed that they helped lessen the glare from the fluorescent ceiling lights that he was staring up at.

 

Apparently, he had taken off in the underground scene because female fans found him attractive. Jimin didn’t see it, not at all. He hadn’t seen any truly attractive rappers in any of the clubs that he had played in, though there had been one or two vocalists like him that he been passably cute. He had met many charismatic rappers, but not handsome, and he didn’t think that Killuh was particularly charismatic either.

 

“OK, one more time, from the top,” Bullseye said into the control room microphone, his voice bleeding into the booth. “Do you want me to count you in?”

 

“Yeah, thanks.”

 

Jimin slipped the headphones back up onto his ears, quickly adjusting them as the other man slid several switches up to start playing music at a low volume. Bullseye held his free hand up so that he could count down to the beat, and Jimin glanced at him out of the corner of his eye as he held onto the headphones and took a deep breath.

 

Five…four…three…two…one-

 

“‘Baby, I wanna touch up on you’,” Jimin sang in English over the beat, his own voice filling his ears over the pounding bass line and jazzy keyboard. “‘Take it off, I know you want me to. I gotta…feel your body. I gotta…feel your body, on me, baby’.”

 

As soon as his lines were complete, Jimin pulled the headphones free to let them hang around his neck. He turned to look through the window at the two other men, waiting on any feedback that they might have for him. He saw that Killuh was still spinning around in his chair like a goddamn jackass. But at least his producer looked to be thinking things over as he studied several things on the console.

 

“Uh, good good. You pronounce the lines good, you’re very good with English, Park.”

 

“Thank you,” Jimin said, superficially accepting the compliment because the other man didn’t know about his childhood tutoring.

 

“You’ve definitely got a feel for the beat of the song, I just feel like there’s something…not quite there yet in terms of the emotion.”

 

“The emotion?”

 

Jimin furrowed his brow at this, glancing back at the sheet of lyrics for a few seconds as he processed his words.

 

What exactly did Bullseye mean about the emotion? He had tried his very hardest to sound smooth, to add a hint of sensuality into his voice that was hard to convey with the English lyrics. Was he maybe not smooth enough? The song definitely required a little hint of soul, considering the fact that Killuh’s monotonous voice needed something to balance out against, to stop the song from sounding too flat.

 

A female vocalist would have perked it right up, but the rapper had asked him to feature, so he was going to have to figure out a way to blend into the song.

 

Jimin knew that his own voice was flexible, but he wasn’t professionally trained nor did he have the strongest vocals. They were just right for the hip hop scene in a way that perfectly polished vocals just didn’t seem to fit. He could go deep and slightly raspy at times, or build his way up to higher notes without completely missing the pitch and making people’s ears bleed. This current track seemed to be better suited to his deep register, but maybe he could slid a little higher to try and carry that…emotion?

 

“Yeah, y’know what I mean, right? Right, Killuh?” Bullseye added, moving to tap at the other man’s arm and stop him from spinning.

 

“Huh?”

 

“About the emotion.”

 

“I dunno, man, he sounded good to me,” Killuh mumbled, kicking off so that he could carry on spinning in his seat. “I couldn’t sing that, I couldn’t hit a single fucking note, but he’s got it going on. Smooth, I like it.”

 

Even though he didn’t like the fact that he was still spinning around in the chair, Jimin decided to let it slide after that compliment. Sure, Killuh might be acting like a bit of an arsehole, but maybe he was just waiting to get back into the booth to carry on working too. He supposed that it must be pretty boring hanging around the control room waiting like that, so he would let it slide for now.

 

“I guess that the emotion is, uh-” Bullseye reached up to stroke at his beard for a few seconds, thinking of the exact words to say to him. “Well, the song is sexual, right? It’s a sexual song, guys.”

 

This made Killuh snort laughter for some reason, and Jimin stuck his tongue out to wet his lips as he turned back to the lyrics sheet again. His lines were highlighted for him in stripes of bright pink highlighter, but he could see the rest of the lyrics printed all over the sheet, and rather obvious lines jumped out to his eyes. Lines that included such words as ‘milky skin’ and ‘so wet’ that almost screamed back at him in a way that he greatly disliked.

 

Oh yes, it was a sexual song. Another goddamn sexual song, just like every song that he had been asked to sing at the clubs.

 

What a surprise; weren’t they all these days?

 

“Yeah, it’s a sexual song,” Jimin agreed, reaching up to rub at his nose roughly as he glared at the stubbed-out remains of the roach in the corner of the booth.

 

“So, sing it like, uh, like you’re fucking. Yeah?” Bullseye suggested with a rather lazy shrug.

 

“…Sing it like I’m fucking?” Jimin repeated in a flat tone, lifting the sheet of paper off the stand to stare at it. “I don’t…that doesn’t make any sense. How do I sing like that?”

 

“Come on, you get what I mean,” he remarked with a shrug. “Make it, like, sexy.”

 

“Sexy?” Killuh repeated, finally stopping his spinning chair routine so that he could fold his arms on the console too. “You think he’s sexy, huh? Damn, you sound like a homo, man.”

 

Jimin swallowed hard at this remark as he dumped the papers back on the sheet stand, suddenly wishing that he could just hurry up and get out of this disgusting booth because he was starting to feel the first twinges of a headache appearing at the sides of his jawline and his temples. He reached up to rub at his brow slowly, looking between the two other men and hoping that his expression looked blank rather than irritated.

 

“I get that, I just…I don’t know if I sound sexy when I’m singing,” Jimin said, as he dropped his hand and shoved it into his jeans pocket. “Especially when it’s English, you know? It’s hard being sexy in English. Should I change my pitch? Softer, louder?”

 

Killuh reached up to pull his sunglasses down, so that he could peer at him from over the tops of the frames. This was clearly a sign that he had decided to get serious for the first time all afternoon, so Jimin gave him his complete attention to be respectful.

 

“He’s saying, like, y’know, when you got a chick and she’s really going for it. Yeah? Maybe, she’s giving you head and damn, you just wanna say nice shit to her, so she’ll keep going. They love it when you say nice shit, makes ‘em feel special as hell, man.”

 

“Um…”

 

Jimin glanced between them both at this, knowing that he looked rather dumb but struggling to react to this absurd statement. He didn’t have a clue what any of that even meant, and he just knew that they could both see how confused that he was.

 

“Y’know what I’m talking about, right?” the rapper asked, raising his pierced eyebrow as he studied him from over the tops of shades.

 

“…Whatever,” Jimin muttered, grabbing the headphones and tugging them back up onto his ears.

 

Before he could get them fully in place he heard the rapper’s voice coming from the control room microphone.

 

“He dunno what I’m talking about,” Killuh joked to the other man, a wide smirk on his face. “He’s never gotten head before, goddamn, that’s-”

 

The headphones blocked the rest of his words out, and Jimin took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He cleared his throat and softly sang several notes as an ad-lib, increasing in pitch as he tried to get back into the zone to give this another shot. He had decided to go softer for this next attempt, a little huskier on the ‘baby’, just for the sake of it.

 

“Whoa, wait-”

 

Jimin opened his eyes to catch sight of Bullseye waving at him through the window, so he quickly pulled the headphones down to hear him properly. He could see something on his face that looked like surprise, his thin eyes rounded with interest, and a quick glance at Killuh showed him that the rapper was also eyeing him over the tops of his sunglasses.

 

“Do that again, do that again, and then do a few more harmonies, yeah?” Bullseye suggested, moving to touch the dials and slides again.

 

“Huh? But, I’m recording the hook right now, so-”

 

“Forget the hook, let’s get some of those harmonies down,” the man instructed, quickly adding. “Those harmonies, those ad-libs, Park, they’re gold! We’ve gotta get them down on this track.”

 

Jimin saw that the recording button mounted on the wall was still bright red, signalling that he wasn’t being recorded right now. He looked between the button and the glass window for a few seconds before studying Killuh to see if he had anything else to say on the matter. The rapper didn’t, but he flashed him a quick thumbs-up, signalling that he approved and that he should go ahead and start singing some ad-libs and harmonies instead.

 

Jimin wet his lips again as he tugged his headphones back in place. He held onto them, just like always, because it stopped him from fiddling too much when he was singing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Bullseye was counting him down with his fingers. The recording button on the wall changed to green, and that was when he opened his lips and he started singing.

 

Jimin had done harmonies for rappers onstage before, though that had often consisted of him just repeating certain lines back at the crowd, or simply stringing together several notes rather than actual words. He wasn’t supposed to have hogged too much of the song or stage during those collaborations. But sometimes, a certain song had been begging for a little flourish to just spice it up, so he had experimented with dropping little ad-libs here and there just for the sake of it. Some had worked, others had been a little flat. But Jimin felt like with this song…he knew what to do, and he also knew that it needed harmonies.

 

Having listened to the guide track, and the beat of the song whilst recording, Jimin had found himself imagining several harmonies in the background; backing vocals to his own lines to make the hook sound a little bit stronger. In his head, the hook was so much richer with them, instead of being flat and feeling like it was missing something.

 

Jimin closed his eyes and he got into the zone. He hummed notes and soft ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’, increasing in pitch like a crescendo, and rising and falling in waves. He dabbled with singing his lines in higher and lower pitches, and with repeating the word ‘baby’ over and over, leaving enough time between his ad-libs for the sake of Bullseye being able to cut and edit them later. He had no clue if he was doing it right or wrong, but he just went for it because they had both given him the sign to give it a shot.

 

It was only when Bullseye waved his hand at him to signal for him to stop that Jimin finished, and he pulled the headphones down to let them hang around his neck.

 

“OK?” he asked, hoping that he had at least done this one thing right.

 

“OK, so, how about you come back into the control room, Park? And Killuh, you can go in and work on one of the verses for ‘Hate To Love Me’? Just to get some of that track down for the night, ‘cos we’ve been hammering the title track all day long and I think we need something fresh. Yeah?”

 

Jimin was free from the stench of marijuana at last, and he couldn’t leave the recording booth fast enough. He dumped the headphones on the stand and quickly moved to push the door open and step into the control room. He saw that Killuh was getting out of his chair after a near hour of spinning and slouching in it, and he looked down at his producer as he dragged his feet to get to the recording booth.

 

“Man, you’ve been napping for most of the day, don’t give me that look,” Bullseye said, looking back at the rapper and shifting to sit back in his chair. “Give me a break, huh? I’m the one that’s gonna be going two whole days without sleep by the time we’ll have this single down. Then I gotta mix and produce this shit.”

 

Killuh just flashed the man his middle finger, which made him laugh and let Jimin know that it was just a form of light banter between them both. Nothing serious, nothing to worry about. The rapper pulled the door shut behind him, the wood thumping in the quiet of the studio, and Jimin spared a quick glance back over his shoulder at him before looking at Bullseye.

 

“I’m gonna go get something from the store,” Jimin said, moving to grab his khaki parka from the sofa against the far wall and dragging it on. “Do you want me to get you anything?”

 

“Nope, I’m good. You’ve got a couple of hours to blow before I’ll need you again for that hook, yeah? You can come back here and crash, go visit your girlfriend, whatever,” Bullseye said, turning in his seat to look at him. “Those ad-libs and shit, good work. We’ll fix up the hook, no problem, kid. You just gotta give it a few more tries and you’ll get the right feel.”

 

“OK, I’ll sing it on the way to the store,” he joked, pulling the door open to exit the studio and hearing the other man laughing to himself as he did so.

 

Jimin walked along the hallway to get to the lift, hitting the button to ride up to the ground-floor and slouching against the carriage wall as it did so. It vibrated softly against his back as the flooring shifted suddenly, making his stomach flip just like always. He eyed the box of buttons as the lift ascended. It was just a brief ride before the doors opened again with a low pinging sound, and he exited the carriage to cross the reception and get to the revolving entrance door.

 

Hellfire Trax was a small building, but it was only a small label, so it made sense. They had several hip hop artists signed to them, but they mostly worked with producers, who worked in one of their three recording studios across the capital. To Jimin’s knowledge, Killuh and his crew had used their studios for quite some time now, before they had decided to sign the rapper on a one-year exclusive contract. He assumed that Bullseye worked for the company as a contract producer, mixer and sound engineer, because he had far too many credentials and credits to be a freelancer that worked for a crew.

 

Today had been his first time sitting in an actual recording studio, one owned by a company and not just a makeshift studio that unsigned rappers had. It was kind of strange thinking about it right now because he had only been inside of it since this morning, and Jimin was pretty certain that it was going to take him some time to get used to recording in a real studio.

 

There was just something…exciting about seeing all of the consoles stretched out in front of him, the circular mesh microphone dangling from the ceiling inside of the booth, and the framed records hanging on the walls that showed the previous accolades of the company in helping produce hit songs and albums. The atmosphere of the recording studio, it really did make him feel like he was finally a legitimate artist now, rather than a cheap entertainer. It was such a great feeling, and he was so very certain that it was going to make up for his past struggles.

 

There was a 7-Eleven at the end of the block, one that Jimin was so very thankful for. Bullseye might have said that he wasn’t needed for a little while, that he could go back to his apartment and chill, maybe take a nap, but it was a little too late for that. It was 1:45am currently, the trains and buses had long since stopped running, and he lived in a completely different district. Unless he wanted to flag a taxi and spend a chunk of money travelling back to his apartment, he might as well just stay in the studio.

 

Jimin was also scared about sleeping for too long and pissing the two of them off, so he needed to stay in the studio just to play it safe. He needed them to both see just how dedicated he was to this track, that he was a hard-working artist and he wasn’t the kind to slack off or complain. If that meant napping on a cramped sofa for two or three days, then so be it.

 

“‘Baby, I wanna touch up on you’,” Jimin sang under his breath, slowing down at a side street to quickly look both ways for traffic. Then he quickly crossed the road to jump up onto the other side, a slight skip in his step. He could feel the song with his body for sure, he just didn’t seem to be getting it across with his voice. “‘Take it off, I know you want me to. I gotta…feel your body. I gotta…feel your body, on me. Baby’.”

 

Jimin sighed heavily, reaching up to run his fingers through his hair, feeling dried gel against his fingertips as he tried to push the usual stray locks back in place.

 

When he reached the store, he stepped on the rubberised mat and the doors slid open to reveal the blindingly fluorescent interior lights. There were low shelves covered in colourful items, set in aisles right in the centre of the store. To his left, along the wall of windows, there was a counter with stools for people to use, and to his right there was the till. Various machines filled the interior: hot water and coffee dispensers, phone charger plugs, and a stove and microwave for heating up various food products with. As a result, there was always the vague lingering scents of cooked food trapped inside of convenience stores, which always made Jimin feel hungry even if he was only popping inside to grab a bottle of water, or maybe a coffee.

 

“Good evening,” the somewhat elderly-looking woman behind the till said with a welcoming smile. “Were you just in Flow?”

 

“Um? No, I’m actually in the middle of recording something, just down the block in the entertainment building,” Jimin explained, wondering how the hell the lady even knew about the popular hip hop club. “I’m not a rapper, but I sing.”

 

“Oh, I see. Well, I’m not a fan of that kind of thing, but singing is nice,” she said with that same smile. “I’ll bet that you have a lovely voice.”

 

“Thank you,” he replied with a genuine smile, moving away from the door to fully enter the store.

 

The first thing that Jimin did was go straight to the instant ramyeon aisle, grabbing one of the Nongshim Hot and Spicy Big Bowl containers. Satisfied that that was a filling meal, he went across the store to browse the rest of the selections. He found himself wondering if he should go for water or a fourth coffee for the day, and if he should grab some lollipops to play with just so he didn’t give in to the temptation to accept one of Killuh’s cigarettes to relieve his stress. He settled on a bottle of water just for the hell of it, grabbing a bag of lollipops too, and then he crossed the store to get to the till.

 

Jimin quickly checked the cash in his back pocket, hoping that he had enough left on him from various club tips to be able to cover the costs of several trips to this store over the next day or so. He had two ₩10,000 notes, a ₩5,000 note, and a bunch of coins in change that might have totalled another couple of thousand. He quickly placed most of the coins down to cover the costs.

 

After accepting the receipt and meagre change, which he shoved into his jeans pocket, Jimin moved to the counter to drop the items on it. Then he used the water dispenser to fill up the Styrofoam ramyeon container, dumping the powdered stock and vegetables into it.

 

As he left the ramyeon to cook, he retrieved his phone to unlock it and check his emails and notifications, hoping for something and yet finding that there were no more shocking offers from record labels wanting to sign him or feature him on new tracks. It was completely expected, but it still made him sigh wearily as he replied to a couple of stupid messages from his friend and locked his phone again.

 

Jimin lifted the lid and stabbed his disposable chopsticks into the nest of cooking noodles, breaking them up and coating them in the sauce better before folding it back down again. He was restlessly nibbling at the ends of the plastic chopsticks when the sound of the store doors opening caught his attention, and he glanced up to see a young man stepping inside the store.

 

“Hey, you doing alright, Miyoung?” the guy asked with a brief smile, showcasing that he clearly knew the elderly woman behind the counter.

 

From his position at the counter, Jimin saw only a hint of his face, a rounded face with a button nose and soft chin, for he mostly noticed his clothing. He was wearing a black, hooded polyester jacket with tiny, white katakana characters on the breast, a massive tee-shirt that ended around his mid-thighs, and a pair of distressed jeans. It was a look that he associated with hip hop clubs, but a much less obnoxious one than usual.

 

Maybe, it was because he had stepped into the store and had said something friendly to the owner with a smile?

 

Maybe, it was because he was short and small enough to not look threatening, not like some of the guys in the clubs?

 

“I’m doing very good,” the woman replied with a very fond smile.

 

When the guy passed him by, Jimin got a waft of masculine cologne, and he glanced over his shoulder to watch him going around one of the shelves to disappear out of sight. He turned back to his food for a moment to resume stirring at his cooking ramyeon. He didn’t know what it was about the stranger that had caught his attention, for it could have been his husky accent that he was still currently trying to place, or his obvious hip hop kid get up, but he just couldn’t seem to fight his curiosity.

 

Jimin got off his stool to retrieve some napkins, catching sight of him moving away from the drinks refrigerator to go down another aisle. The two of them were too short to make eye-contact over the shelves, for he just saw the top of his beanie hat, and the other man had likely just caught a brief glimpse of his slicked back hair. He moved sit back down on his stool with his handful of napkins, grabbing the first clump of steaming noodles to lift them up and help them cool as he watched him going straight for the till.

 

On his quick journey through the aisles, the other man had retrieved a lined soft pink notebook, on which there looked to be a printed illustration of a cat or bunny or something - Jimin couldn’t really see; a packet of roller point pens; three cans of instant coffee; and last but not least, a bag of Lotte Mallang Cow candy; which the stranger dumped down onto the glass counter with a heavy sigh.

 

“You must be busy again,” Miyoung remarked, as she scanned the items, to which the man hummed an agreement as he rubbed at his eyelids roughly. “You’re leaving the club early tonight though, earlier than usual.”

 

“Yeah, but unlike those guys, I actually gotta work hard,” the man replied, which made the woman laugh and give him another one of those fond smiles.

 

Daegu, Jimin discerned, that was his accent. He was from Daegu, he was pretty sure of it. Speaking not only so casually, but also doing so in that strangely carefree and direct way that Daegu guys had mastered: cold and cool, but not unfriendly.

 

“I know, but be sure to rest, mmm?”

 

“Ah, rest is good, but it don’t pay the bills,” the guy joked, which actually made Jimin smile to himself as he stirred at his ramyeon and waited for it to cool.

 

Wasn’t that the truth?

 

Jimin grabbed some of the ramyeon, shoving it into his mouth even when it was scorching hot. He bit a mouthful of them and let the rest drop back into the bowl, huffing air out of his mouth to try and stop his tongue from burning. The chilli flakes, soy sauce and garlic were hot enough without the actual temperature taken into account. But, goddamn, they tasted fantastic regardless of that fact.

 

As he chewed the mouthful of food, the woman quickly shoved the items into a small white store bag for the other man, which she slid across as the counter as he paid with his card. Then the stranger grabbed the bag with muttered thanks, slipping it into the crook of his elbow so that he could shove his hands into his jacket pockets.

 

“Goodnight,” the guy said, looking at Miyoung first before turning to glance at him and giving him a quick look at his face.

 

“Um, goodnight,” Jimin mumbled around the mouthful of ramyeon, knowing that it was rude to do so but having been caught at the wrong moment.

 

Jimin watched the other guy exiting the store, eyeing the back of his jacket to see a large red circle, emblazoned with more white katakana characters and something that looked like an embroidered dragon in glossy, black cotton. It was a nice jacket, a real nice jacket, and he wondered how a guy that looked to have not slept in a month had bought one of those babies. Judging from the fact that the woman had said ‘club’, he might just have been a rapper, or maybe a producer for one of the crews that frequented it.

 

There were several clubs in Gangnam-gu, but if there was one club that he was certain that he would have just left, it just had to be Flow. It was apparently a great club, but he had never went there before, so he was going to visit it as soon as he was finished recording this single with Killuh. Just so he could knock back several shots as a reward for not only getting his first official song recorded, but for putting up with the stench of marijuana and cigarette smoke in the booth, and the rapper’s aloof and irritating behaviour.

 

Oh, and the lack of sleep and diet of junk food that he was going to have to put up with too.

 

Jimin left his chopsticks in the mass of noodles for a moment, reaching up to cup his face in his hands with a sigh of his own. His eyelids were starting to feel tight, dry and swollen in a way that he just knew would take days to go away. He was tired, he was so tired, but he needed to eat something right now. He could sleep on the studio sofa for the night whilst the two other men played around on the other track for the single, but first, he needed food. He hadn’t eaten anything all day long during the recording session, and he was going to drop tomorrow if he didn’t swallow something more filling than black coffee.

 

Jimin stopped massaging at his eyes and brow, dropping his hand to grab his chopsticks again. He wasn’t even hungry because of all of the stupid coffee, and he had to force himself to swallow the ramyeon and then sip at the soupy stock remains. He trashed the container and chopsticks as soon as he was finished. Then he shoved his bottle of water in his parka pocket and slipped a strawberry and cream lollipop into his mouth, adding the bag of candy to his other spacious pocket too.

“Good luck, I hope that you sell a lot of records,” Miyoung called, just as he was about to leave the store.

 

Jimin turned to look back over his shoulder at her as he replied, “Thank you.”

 

When Jimin entered the recording studio several minutes later, the lollipop still melting on his tongue, he could hear that Killuh was rapping in the booth because his voice was playing from the control room speakers.

 

Bullseye glanced at him as he moved across the room, dumping his water bottle and bag of lollipops on the table so that he could strip his parka free and drop onto the leather sofa with a soft grunt.

 

“…and- ah, shit, lemme do that over,” Killuh said from the booth, tugging his headphones free and pacing around the box for a moment as he rubbed his hand against his cropped hair. “I fucked that up, I admit it.”

 

“Uhuh, just give me a second here…” Bullseye mumbled, moving to root around and try and find something; locating a pair of headphones across the console.

 

At least the other man was considerate enough to plug his own headphones into the console jack, so that he could listen to Killuh through those instead of playing his voice through the whole control room and stopping him from resting properly.

 

“OK, on the count of five,” the producer said into the microphone in a quiet voice, holding his hand up to silently count down on his fingers for him.

 

Jimin turned on his side and wrenched his parka over his head to block out the orange-tinged lighting of the recording studio and try and get some sleep. It blocked out the light, but it sadly didn’t muffle the sounds of Bullseye working the dials, buttons and sliders, and his voice whenever he had to talk to the rapper about retakes, unclear diction, irregular rhythm, and every other mistake that he made.

 

Jimin didn’t really register the fact that he had fallen asleep, for the last thing that he was vaguely aware of was the fact that he could hear the producer talking about something, his voice strangely stretched out across the space between them like goo so that it sounded too gelatinous for him to understand. The next thing that he knew, something was dropping to touch his shoulder, something that felt like a hand, which shook him hard a couple of times.

 

“Huh?” he breathed out, trying to lift his head off the sofa only to find that his parka was still placed over his upper body and he was tangled up in the material.

 

“Rise and shine, kid,” Bullseye said, giving his shoulder a series of hard pats before he moved away again. “Time to get back to work on those hooks.”

 

“What…time’s it?” Jimin sighed out, tugging his parka free and massaging at his stiff neck as he tried to pry one eye open.

 

“Almost 10am, so, better get to it.”

 

For the second day of recording, Jimin only had to get his hooks down. Having already recorded several ad-libs and harmonies, he just had to get those sections prepared. Then he could leave Bullseye to listen over it and play around with the layers until he was satisfied with the end result and ready to drop the single.

 

Jimin drank a cup of black coffee and plenty of water to quench his dry throat before starting the warming-up process. He had to enter the building bathroom to splash cold water on his face and relieve himself. Next time, he would need to ensure that he was better prepared for a recording session because he had no true way of freshening up, save for grabbing some sugar-free gum from Killuh in exchange for several lollipops. At least he could fight off his morning breath, but he still felt dirty, and his clothing was terribly wrinkled from wear; his white, v-neck tee-shirt crumpled and his parka in just as bad a state. His hair had long since spilled free from its gelled hold and was in dire need of washing too.

 

But Jimin just rolled right into the booth, tugged on the headphones and crooned those same five lines over and over, until something seemed to click and he finally recorded material that Bullseye approved of.

 

From that point, after taking some time to rest and rehydrate his throat, Jimin carried on repeating the hook in that sexual style that the two men wanted so that he would finally be able to leave the booth for good. Between Killuh recording lines during his rests, and a break for food, it was almost midnight by the time that they were finished with the two tracks for the single.

 

“Holy shit,” Jimin groaned, rolling his stiff shoulders and neck before he reached up to rub at his throat. “I didn’t realise how hard singing was.”

 

This made Bullseye laugh; but not Killuh, for the rapper looked to be asleep in his chair, his head hanging forward and not even bobbing like usual.

 

“Um, are we done here now? Or should I stick around, just in case?” he asked, still massaging at his rather sore throat and neck.

 

“If I need you for anything, I’ll be sure to call, but I think that this shit just needs some polishing up,” Bullseye said as he turned in his chair to look at him. “Basically, you’re all done, kid. The song is there, I’ve just gotta mix it up right for a day or two and then it’s ready to drop.”

 

“Seriously?” Jimin asked, lowering his hand and staring at him dumbly. “I’m finished?”

 

“All done, time to go get a shower and sleep in an actual bed,” the man retorted, holding his hand out to him. “You did good, kid.”

 

“Thank you,” Jimin said, as he gave his hand a quick shake and squeeze. He made sure to cup his elbow with his free hand respectfully. “It was my first real recording session, and you were patient with me. It definitely made the entire experience less terrifying for me, so, thanks.”

 

“Don’t mention it. You worked hard, you built on criticisms to improve the little mistakes here and there, and you didn’t throw a fit after singing the same line twenty times over, unlike some people,” Bullseye stated, his eyes rolling in the direction of the sleeping rapper. “That makes the whole recording experience a lot less annoying for me.”

 

Jimin collected his belongings together for the last time, his parka filled with the sad remains of his lollipops (for he had just three left), which he quickly dragged on. He left the building at a quick pace, hitting the streets to see that it was once again dark just like it had been when he had last exited the building. But, unlike last time, he didn’t have to go back inside again, not unless Bullseye called him up again.

 

“Yes!” he hissed, pumping his fist excitedly as he stepped onto the sidewalk at last.

 

The producer’s advice was good and all, about going back to his apartment to take a shower and sleep. But there were still two notes shoved down deep in his jeans back pocket that were begging to be spent on cheap soju shots and somaek, so that he could celebrate and then go back home. He could have grabbed some cheap booze from the 7-Eleven and drank in his room, but Jimin found his legs guiding him across the block to seek out a certain club instead.

 

Flow would have cheap alcohol, loud music and entertainment, and the chance at securing another feature on a song for someone like Killuh, if he was lucky another to bump into another rapper and brag about his upcoming single, that was.

 

Jimin briskly made his way to the club several blocks away, showing his ID on the door just so that the bouncer would allow him to go down the deep steps to actually enter Flow.

 

The interior of the club was just like every other hip hop club that he had been inside of. It was set in the basement, and so the ceiling was high and covered in various coloured lights. On the left side of the room, it was a vivid red shade, right by the stage and pit for the crowd to fill; and to the right it was a deep blue, where all of the booths and seats were placed for those more interested in drinking, chatting and listening, rather than taking part in the performances. The lights met somewhere in the middle, blending in purple hues right around where the stretch of bar was set. The bar was made of dark wood, behind which a glowing pink display filled with colourful alcohol bottles, Be@rbrick toys and brand baseball caps were situated.

 

The seating in the club varied from padded stools at the counter, leather booth seats that were attached to the walls and tables, and sofas placed here and there across the entire interior for crews to claim.

 

Right now, he could see a small gathering of people crowding one of these seating areas, and he mostly saw guys lounged on the sofas with pretty women perched on their laps, flirting with them and sharing drinks. It was the typical display that he was used to seeing, a strange ritual to assert rapper credentials and masculinity - for the crew with the most ladies, bottles of alcohol on the tables, and ice on the wrists: they were the kings for the night.

 

Jimin dragged his eyes away from one such arrogant display to head straight for the bar, the pounding American hip hop coming from the mounted speakers increasing in volume as he got closer to it.

 

“What can I do you for, honey?” the bartender asked in a friendly tone, as she moved straight in his direction.

 

She had a severe bob cut that was glossy black from the bar lights, and there were quite a lot of tattoos on her arms, which were revealed by the cropped black vest that she was wearing. It also revealed her navel piercing, and Jimin tried to not stare at it as he dropped a note onto the counter and ordered a tray of shots and a single Cass beer just for the hell of it. He deserved it, after all, and he was going to knock most of the shots back hard, then mix a few with the beer and nurse that for awhile until he wanted to go home.

 

“You aren’t driving tonight, right?” she joked, carrying the tray over for him and placing it down on the counter. His crumpled change was on the tray, right beside the shot glasses and bottle.

 

“I can’t even drive,” he replied with a wry smile, grabbing the first shot glass so that he could jokingly toast her with it before swallowing it hard.

 

The soju burnt on the way down and made him gasp and sniff hard as he placed the empty glass down on the tray. He rubbed at his nose before grabbing the next glass. The bartender gave him a quick look and then she moving down the counter to grab empty glasses from a couple, leaving him to make his way through the shots.

 

Jimin did so, and then he took a swallow of the beer so that he could pour the final shots into the bottle without making it overflow all over his lap. There, he had enough soju in his system to get him drunk pretty quick, especially after he added the somaek on top, and he was finally going to be numb for a little while.

 

“Here’s to making the top ten for a day at least,” he muttered, almost like a prayer, holding the bottle up in front of him to watch the beads of condensation running down the deep brown glass. He closed his eyes and sighed, wetting his lips with his tongue. “Just for a day…please?”

 

Then he lifted the bottle to his lips and took a deep swig of it, opening his eyes just in time to notice a shadow falling over him.

 

“Planning on dying tonight?” a husky male voice remarked from right behind him, catching him by complete surprise.

 

“Huh?” Jimin hummed, trying to not choke as he swallowed his first mouthful of somaek and twisted to watch the man moving over to the very end of the bar counter. “No, I just…”

 

Jimin felt his words trailing off in dumb surprise as he stared at him, because he recognised him as the guy from the 7-Eleven. The guy that had talked with Miyoung and had bought all of that cheap coffee and candy, and the immature printed notebook. He was wearing the exact same jacket as that night, and he had another beanie hat tugged on his head to hide all of his hair from view.

 

The guy gestured at the several shot glasses littering the tray in front of him for emphasis, which said more than words ever could. He shifted to fold his arms on the counter in a comfortable slouch.

 

Jimin collected his change and shoved it into his jeans pocket, and then he pushed the tray aside silently so that he could turn back to look at him.

 

“I’ve been recording a track with Killuh for, like, the last two days, and it’s been absolute hell on earth. I’ve been sleeping on a studio sofa in these exact same clothes, and I think that I’ve drank enough coffee to turn my blood into that shit,” Jimin explained, reaching up to rub at his swollen eyelids roughly with his free hand. “I thought that I’d waste the last of my paper on some drinks because I sure as shit deserve some.”

 

“Killuh? You were recording with Killuh? For real?” the guy asked, his expression passive but his voice revealing a hint of interest.

 

“Yeah, that’s why I’m drinking myself to death and - oh, shit, you aren’t in his…his crew, right? Murda Crew, is it? Uh…something like that,” Jimin mumbled, hoping that he hadn’t just fucked by mocking the rapper to one of his friends, or even a fellow crew member.

 

Oh, Jimin really could have gassed himself with his stupid mouth, blowing his chances at getting another collaboration from so many rappers by talking smack about a well-known rapper like Killuh. He might just have dodged a bullet with his careless and highly stupid remark.

 

“Nah, you don’t need to worry about that,” the stranger said with a soft head shake. “My crew ain’t here tonight. I belong to Outsider Network, ‘cos most of the crew are from outside of Seoul. You ever heard of ‘em?”

 

“Heard of them? Of course, they’re notorious,” Jimin said, trying to not look too relieved by the fact that his arse was safe. “One of the best crews in the scene, according to the guys that know them. I don’t know them personally though, I’ve never met a single member, save for you.”

 

“Save for me,” he agreed with a slight nod.

 

“You rap?” Jimin asked, gesturing at the stage just to the side of the bar. “With you being in a crew, I assumed that you rap, but you could do other shit; right?”

 

“Yeah, I rap, produce, compose, write lyrics. I even do mixing here and there,” the other man explained, reaching up to scratch at his beanie hat as he glanced over the club, the gesture showing a hint of something that might have been shyness. “I do a bit of everything.”

 

“If you rap then you’ve got a stage name, right? What’s yours? It’s better than Killuh, surely?” he joked, earning himself a hard snort of laughter from him. “You seem like you would have a good name because you seem pretty smart to me.”

 

“What’s your name, huh? Your singer name, I mean, your artistic pseudonym?”

 

“Jimin, Park Jimin,” he explained, as he nursed his beer bottle. “It’s actually my real name, but I did play around with the idea of a stage name. I thought about ‘Christian’ or something like that, and-”

 

“‘Christian’? You religious?” the guy interjected, shooting him a mischievous grin that caught him completely off-guard.

 

“Not even remotely,” he replied with his own grin, quickly adding. “But yeah, I finally settled on my real name instead. Just for the hell of it; I guess? So, what’s your ‘artistic pseudonym’, hmm?”

 

“D-boy.”

 

“…‘D-boy’? Are you…are you serious?” Jimin asked, unable to control his expression so that his eyebrows lifted high enough to almost brush against his hairline. He didn’t mean to look in anyway condescending towards the other man, but he had downed several swigs of somaek and a lot of shots tonight, and he was looking at another beer, if he could get away with it. “You go by D-boy?”

 

“Yeah, I’m being serious.”

 

“As in a ‘dope-boy’?” he asked, the English words flowing out smoothly. “That kinda D-boy?”

 

“No, as in Daegu, Daegu-boy,” he retorted, his lips twitching at the corners ever so slightly. “But, dope-boy works too, for those that get the reference. Shit, half of the guys here don’t even know what a ‘dope-boy’ is. They think of ‘ dope ’ like ‘ awesome ’, they dunno the other meaning.”

 

“And you do because you’re…what? Old skool?” Jimin remarked dryly.

 

This made the other man - who he currently only knew as D-boy - snort laughter as he reached up to rub at his nose. This presented Jimin with the perfect opportunity to study his face and so he did so.

 

Just like that night at the convenience store, he noted that D-boy had a round face with a gentle chin, a rather rounded button nose and wide cheekbones. His eyes were almond-shaped, with a thick spray of eyelashes and soft eyelids creases, and he had a mouth with a very pronounced Cupid’s bow. It wasn’t a pout exactly, but it was close. His strong eyebrows juxtaposed boldly against his features, gave him a hint of masculinity to balance out his soft and round features because there wasn’t a hint of sharpness present on his face.

 

“Yeah, I’m old skool at heart but it’s hard staying true to that sound these days,” D-boy explained, shifting on the counter to give him his full attention. “The kids here, they want contemporary, they want new American sounds before America’s even got those sounds. Old skool for ‘em? Mid-2000s at best, and I’m being serious. What about you, huh?”

 

“Me? Oh, I dig the ‘90s shit, old skool, smooth r’n’b,” Jimin said, lifting his bottle to his lips but not taking a sip just yet. “It influences my singing, there’s just a richness to that era in music that I feel has been lost by a lot of artists. There’s too many songs now that feel…I don’t know, flat? The ‘80s was a great time for rock and alternative sounds, but the ‘90s? Hip hop and r’n’b owned that decade, we both know it.”

 

This made D-boy hum in agreement, his own gaze studying his face as he did so.

 

Jimin paused in the act of taking a sip of somaek, wondering if he was going to say something to him, yet D-boy just stared at him for a few seconds before looking away again. His face was bathed in the purple from the mixed lighting in the club, more of a magenta in shade because of the red coming from the stage, and the pink from behind the bar. Jimin wondered if he too was washed in magenta as he watched the other man running his eyes across the presumed crew members across the club, or if he was more of a vibrant orchid.

 

D-boy made no attempt to break their temporary silence, and so he decided to turn his attention back to drinking his somaek and wait to see if he would.

 

Jimin was in the act of thinking of something to say, a stupid joke or icebreaker line, when the other man suddenly moved away from the counter and made him look up to track his movements.

 

D-boy pushed through the small grouping of people crowding around the stage and crew members, so that he could step up onto the low stage.

 

This made Jimin lower his bottle from his lips, his curiosity getting the best of him as he watched him grabbing the microphone from the stand so that he could give it a hard tap with his fingers to drum up attention.

 

The bartender moved at the sound, crossing the space behind the counter to get to something that looked like a sound system. It seemed that he was actually going to perform right now, so suddenly out of the blue, and Jimin gulped down his mouthful of somaek as he looked between the tattooed woman and the rapper.

 

“D-boy representing from Outsider Network; how about I show you kids a little magic, huh? A little something I’ve been playing around with, yeah?” D-boy mumbled into the microphone, as he paced around the slight stage and avoided looking at anyone. “Y’know how this works, don’t sit at the back, come down and move around a little, have some fun.”

 

At this, Jimin heard laughter and voices as quite a lot of people got off their booth seats and the sofas, moving to get closer to the stage. He saw a lot of young women in fancy dresses, with sleek or wavy hair, towering heels, and thin wrists covered in bracelets that were holding glasses; and some that were dressed more casually and might just have been rappers themselves. There were plenty of young men that might have been amateurs, guys just here for the alcohol and entertainment, or other rappers from different crews - he had no way of knowing.

 

Jimin shifted on his stool to study him more intently. The stage lighting was completely red, which washed over D-boy’s revealed face and hands like blood. He dropped his head low, a thin gold chain slipping free to dangle around his neck and catching the lighting too, and he saw that he had his eyes closed as he curled his tongue out to wet his lips in preparation.

 

D-boy was getting into the zone, and when the club music faded down to nothing, the gathered crowd of people all made noises of excitement and raised their hands and glasses for him. The rapper also raised his fist, the one holding the microphone, and he folded his other arm behind his back as he waited for the track to drop.

 

Jimin felt something like frisson running through him in that moment of silence, the air going almost electric in anticipation. He hadn’t felt something like this in what felt like forever, most certainly not whilst watching amateurs perform on club stages, and he didn’t really know what that meant right now. All that he did know was that he was holding his breath, just like a lot of people seemed to be doing, and he was so very tempted to hold his own bottle up in the air too.

 

When the beat dropped, Jimin’s ears were assaulted by a heavy bass and drum beat, a rhythm that was rather vintage but still stripped bare for the sake of performing. There were some added effects, like scratching and skipping vinyl sounds and sirens, but clearly, D-boy wasn’t going to flash too much of his composition, lest someone try and copy it. He was probably only going to drop a verse with a hook too, rather than a whole track, just to keep everyone keen for his next performance.

 

After several seconds of waiting, the crowd moving their heads to the beat, the rapper dropped the microphone to his mouth to start spitting out his lyrics.

 

“‘I ain’t got dreams, I got a manifesto. Expectations, reality, fuck that, I’mma get dough. They say follow your dreams, I say follow your soul, haters talk shit but you gotta let ‘em know. This ain’t playtime, I’m real fucking serious, let ‘em party in the clubs, I’ll work hard, be victorious’.”

 

“Holy…shit,” Jimin sighed out, feeling his fingers twitching around the neck of his bottle.

 

Luckily for him, said bottle dropped to land on the counter without shattering and only sloshed a slight splash of beer mix onto the wood. The bartender must have noticed, for she moved to place a napkin down and quickly dabbed at the mess for him.

 

D-boy switched between Korean and English with a flow that had him struggling to keep up. Jimin found his brow furrowing deeply as he tried to get a full feel for his lyrics, but it was just too hard for him to do so. He was just so quick on the beat that he left him in complete awe, and he couldn’t believe how…different that D-boy and Killuh were in terms of lyrics, tone and talent.

 

D-boy’s joking line about it not being playtime? Well, if that wasn’t the perfect snipe at rappers like Killuh, that messed around during recording and didn’t really do much in terms of making their own music, then Jimin would eat his goddamn beanie hat right in front of him.

 

The one thing that Jimin could currently appreciate was both his voice, and his rhythm. D-boy had a husky voice, which varied from a deep pitch to taking a slightly squeaky note at the end of his lines as he took quick intakes of breath. He wasn’t flat, in other words, wasn’t monotonous and deep without a hint of richness, and he could emote his words too. Jimin could hear emotions in his voice, from dripping cockiness to a hint of an acidic sneer when he was talking about haters and obstacles that tried to get in his way, and it was this very emotion that made him shift on the stool to fold his arms on the bar counter and watch him intently.

 

“Alright, alright, alright,” D-boy mumbled in the instrumental break, taking advantage of it so that he could not only catch his breath, but also stir up the crowd gathering in front of the stage. “I got something I gotta get off my chest, yeah? Something you kids gotta hear, ‘cos I don’t think y’know, I think…you’re all sleeping on your own skills and dreams.”

 

The crowd gathered in front of him made noises at this, lighthearted banter as they either called out agreements, or jokingly booed at him. It seemed that he must be a regular to drum up this kind of repertoire, and Jimin realised that the crowd were actively taking part, which showed some level of respect or admiration for him.

 

“Nah, nah, not hating, I’m just…”

 

D-boy wet his lips again, taking a quick intake of breath as he scrunched his face up and dropped the next section on them all.

 

“I don’t call ‘em dreams ‘cos you only have ‘em when you’re sleeping, unless you’re wide awake, then I call that shit daydreaming. I ain’t hating, man, I’m just stating the facts, you gotta start believing me, huh, I’ve been bleeding-”

 

D-boy took a deep breath before unleashing his next lines at a breakneck speed that almost gave Jimin whiplash. He dropped his foot on the mounted speaker so that he could lean forward and start bobbing his head back and forth as he spat out each syllable.

 

“I’ve been scheming, screaming, fighting, trying, all of my life, so, you let those mo’fuckers know, I ain’t giving up without a fucking fight!”

 

This made the crowd all shout in amazement, and D-boy straightened up again to look over them. As he quickly licked at his lips, Jimin found their gazes locking from across the club, and then the rapper lifted the microphone to his mouth.

 

“…D-boy’s leaving the building, kids, have a good night.”

 

The rapper dropped the microphone at this, a wide grin on his face as the device thumped on the flooring. As he stepped off of the stage, the crowd cheered for him, clapping and thumping him hard on the back as he made his way back in the direction of the bar.

 

For several seconds, Jimin could only stare at him because he seemed to have lost the ability to talk, but then he finally managed to move his slack lips and speak.

 

“Oh, my god,” he exclaimed in English, not even trying to hide his surprise. “D-boy, that was crazy, I-”

 

“Glad you enjoyed the show, Jimin, but I gotta-”

 

“Wait, don’t leave, not yet,” Jimin blurted out, as he reached over to take hold of his elbow, his jacket rustling from his touch. “We, um, we were talking before you performed, and I wanted to talk to you, about your lyrics.”

 

“About my lyrics?” D-boy repeated, his expression hard to read as he looked down at him. “Uh…‘k, sure, I can hang around a little longer.”

 

Jimin had to stop himself from actually thanking him, especially when the rapper made no move to sit down at the bar beside him but just stayed standing close. It made him have to spin on his stool to look up at him, but he didn’t really mind that much.

 

“You use a lot of English in your lyrics,” Jimin said, nursing his bottle between both hands. “Why? Why do you use so much?”

 

“Kids like English. I dunno, it excites ‘em, gets ‘em thinking about lyrics in a deeper way, y’know?” D-boy remarked, shrugging softly as he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “Rhyming good in our tongue, that takes skills, sure. But when you add English words to it, it can be a lot easier for these newcomers to sound better than they are, gives ‘em a boost of confidence until they can grasp rhymes better and start putting the dedication into their lyrics.”

 

“Yeah, but your English was actually English, D-boy, it wasn’t just throwing words out there for the sake of rhymes - it made sense,” Jimin explained, trying to find the right way to explain his thoughts right now. “I know that a lot of rappers drop English to impress and get lucky with rhymes. But most of the time, it makes no grammatical sense. My dad used to be an English university lecturer, down in Busan. He made sure that I had a private tutor as a kid, so, I’ve got a good ear for English.”

 

“Really?” D-boy asked, raising his strong eyebrows and showing him a great deal of interest. “Thanks, I try my hardest. I, uh, I watch films and interviews with subtitles and listen to the words, so that I can learn shit. Language lessons, they don’t teach you slang and how real people talk, y’know?”

 

“Ha! I do know, yeah,” Jimin agreed before taking a quick swig of somaek. “It’s just, I felt like I was able to appreciate your lyrics on a deeper level because I understood what you actually said. That track, was that freestyle?”

 

“I was playing around with something, thought I’d hit the stage and see what happened,” D-boy replied, shifting from foot to foot and slipping a hand free from his pocket to rub at his nose roughly again. “Being on that stage, you find words coming that your brain couldn’t find all night long, when you were staring at your notebook and searching for the next line. They just flow off your tongue, yeah? Like a bullet exiting a chamber; you just spit it out raw and it feels so good. It’s a catharsis for me, I guess?”

 

“Yeah, I think I get what you mean,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, sparing a quick glance across the club before turning back to him. “Do you perform here every night? How do you handle having something ready to show everyone?”

 

“Nah, I don’t perform every night,” D-boy explained, shifting so that he could fold his elbows on the counter, but still not sitting down on the free stool beside him. “I ain’t bragging, but there’s a lot of people that come here to watch performances and not rap, and they like me. I perform for ‘em, it’s fun, it keeps me motivated. The owner of the joint, she pays me a decent upfront fee to perform every four or so nights, and I get a little discount on the drinks too. So, you want a fresh one?”

 

“You’re a true gentleman, D-boy,” Jimin remarked, giving him a slightly flirtatious smile as he lifted his beer bottle to flash him the label. Then he curbed it in, just so he didn’t notice it. “Doesn’t your crew have a problem with this set-up, with you performing here? Are you going rogue? Hmm?”

 

“It’s complicated, but I ain’t roguing for the cash. They know I’m here, I’m always there for ‘em when they need me. They, uh, a lot of ‘em perform in clubs I ain’t fond of, so, they lemme perform here,” D-boy quickly explained, gesturing at the bartender with one hand. “Hey, Kisum, one Cass and one Hite, yeah? I’m buying.”

 

“Sure thing, honey. By the way, great show tonight. You might need to recycle that one in the future,” Kisum said, as she retrieved two chilled beers from under the counter and cracked the caps off them. “Enjoy, boys.”

 

D-boy grabbed his own beer, knocking back a deep swig of it before sniffing hard. As Jimin took a sip of his own beer, he noted that the rapper looked back over his shoulder at the other crew members, the ones that were still sitting on the sofas. He pulled his lower lip in to suck on it for a moment, not exactly gnawing on it but close.

 

“Hey, I’m gonna go out for a smoke. You wanna carry on talking about lyrics and shit, huh?” D-boy suggested, cocking his head to study him again.

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment before realising that he actually wanted to talk him. Had he have not wanted to continue their conversation, he would have maybe excused himself and went across the club to talk to other people, or he could have just walked away without the politeness. But the fact that he had asked him to step outside the club with him was a clear sign that he was actually interested in their conversation.

 

When Jimin looked over his shoulder at the crew members, he noted that they were staring back at them too, and they looked to be talking about them for some reason that he didn’t really understand.

 

Did they know D-boy? Was he not on friendly terms with them? Was that why he wanted to go outside with him, or was he just assuming way too much with his tipsy mind?

 

“OK,” he said, grabbing his beer so that he could get off the stool. “I’d, um, I’d like that, D-boy.”

 

Jimin followed the other man across the club, having to stick very close to him to not get lost in the sea of people moving around the place. D-boy got approached by a lot of people as they headed for the doors, mostly women, but he was sure to turn their offers of drinks and dances down as politely as he could; reaching behind of himself to snag hold of his wrist and gently pull him through the crush of bodies to reach the steps.

 

As soon as they were outside, he guided him a few feet away from the bouncer and proceeded to place his own beer down on the sidewalk so that he could fish a battered packet of cigarettes free from his jeans: Raison Black , the kind with the black cat logo on the front. He shoved the stick in his lips, retrieving his zippo lighter to spark a light as he inhaled to get it to smoulder. He breathed the first lungful free through his nose as he shoved the lighter and packet back into his jeans pocket and moved to grab his beer, straightening up again to slouch back against the club wall.

 

“You were really good onstage, D-boy,” Jimin admitted, watching him taking a drag from his cigarette and breathing it out of the corner of his mouth. “I know that you probably hear that shit all of the time, but I just thought that I’d tell you.”

 

“Thanks,” D-boy mumbled, not in an offhand fashion but rather just because he seemed to mumble often. He wet his lips and seemed to be thinking of something to say, yet he ended up just shoving the cigarette stick back into his mouth rather than speak.

 

“I like this club, I think that I might come back in the future,” Jimin continued, running his eyes across the dance clubs across the street and seeing a lot of people out in groups drinking and cavorting. “The recording studio I was in, it’s not far from here - Hellfire Trax. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and bag myself another feature on a song here, right?”

 

“You keep coming here, I’ll still be hanging here every night too,” D-boy said with a lackadaisical shrug, his presumably designer jacket loudly rustling as he breathed out a lungful of cigarette smoke through his nose. “I like talking before I go onstage, it gives me a burst of confidence.”

 

“You like talking? I couldn’t tell, you don’t do much of it, D-boy,” he remarked, grinning at him and seeing the way that his pouted lips twitched around the cigarette until he managed to control his expression. “You didn’t talk to any of the guys in the club either, which I noticed.”

 

“Not my crew, dunno know ‘em,” D-boy retorted, dabbing ash of the end of his cigarette as he sipped at his beer. “They seemed to know me though, ‘cos they looked like they were talking shit.”

 

“Hmm? How do you know that they were talking shit about you if you don’t know them?” Jimin asked, looking back over at him curiously.

 

“Everyone talks shit about me,” he mumbled in a quiet voice, his eyes staring off across the street without seemingly focusing on anything. “It’s why I tried to avoid talking to you back in there, ‘cos I didn’t want ‘em to start talking shit about you too. Not after you netted your first collab and sounded so fucking happy about it. I thought that it might ruin your good mood.”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, not entirely sure why the random rappers would talk shit about D-boy like that. It could be because he was in a different crew, one that they didn’t like or had had feuds with in the past, or that they were quite simply jealous of his talent and the attention that he received. But it could have been something completely different, and unless D-boy told him the truth, upfront, then he was never really going to know why.

 

But Jimin did know that he didn’t care about a bunch of amateurs, and he wanted the other man to know this fact too.

 

“I don’t give a fuck. Unless they’re signed, I don’t know who they are either,” he retorted sharply, which made D-boy pull his cigarette free to holler at him in approval. “They can talk shit, it’s probably all that they’re good at.”

 

“Shit, Jimin, you could diss hard onstage, y’know that?” D-boy joked, giving his ribs a hard dig with his elbow.

 

“OK, so, I finished the track, but I’m still gonna come here for a few nights,” Jimin said, lifting his bottle in offering to get him to clink his bottle against his. “I can’t turn down your offer of conversation, though I do request that we maybe do it inside tomorrow night. Yeah?”

 

“‘K, I can get down with that,” he agreed, bringing their bottles together hard.

 

“I think that I should probably call a taxi now, and head back home. I really need a shower, man,” Jimin joked, pulling his phone free from his jeans pocket and unlocking it with his thumb to open an app and order one.

 

D-boy stayed on the sidewalk with him as he did so, smoking his cigarette and sipping at his beer as if he was mulling something over. It took him several minutes, but he finally opened his mouth to break their temporary silence.

 

“Hey, uh, before you go,” D-boy said, reaching up with his hand to rub at his eye roughly with the heel of his hand. He wet his lips with his tongue and hovered the cigarette in front of his mouth, hesitating in taking a drag. “Could you, uh, maybe sing a line for me? From that song you were recording? The one with Killuh?”

 

“Sing? You want me to sing for you?” Jimin repeated dumbly, placing his empty beer bottle down on the sidewalk and trying to not stagger forward as he straightened up again. “Huh?”

 

“Y’know, just ‘cos you said that you were a singer, into ‘90s old skool and r’n’b, and I just wondered if you sounded like that too.”

 

“You’ve gotta keep this a secret, OK? No telling anyone about the song, it’s still getting mixed,” Jimin said, moving closer to him and breathing in the remains of his last exhaled lungful of cigarette smoke. “I’ll sing you the hook because that’s the only part that I sing.”

 

D-boy made a noise around his cigarette, letting him know that he promised to not tell a single soul about the fact that he had gotten an exclusive preview of the other rapper’s single. He looked between his eyes and lips rapidly as Jimin stuck his tongue out to wet them, and then he cleared his throat.

 

“If I’m a little rough, it’s from recording for two days straight, yeah? I promise I sound way better after some sleep and proper warming up.”

 

Jimin took a deep breath and held it in his lungs, feeling the words right there on the tip of his tongue, but also feeling a rush of something like nerves coursing through him at the thought of actually singing. He didn’t know why D-boy made him nervous, especially when he was drunk, but he just did. It was probably because he thought that he was really talented too, and he didn’t want to fuck up and hit a bum note after seeing his phenomenal rap performance inside of the club.

 

“‘Baby, I wanna touch up on you’,” Jimin sang in a quiet voice, hearing it carrying across the sidewalk much louder than he had intended. “‘Take it off, I know you want me to. I gotta…feel your body. I gotta…feel your body, on me. Baby’.”

 

Jimin crooned the last line, moving closer to him and ad-libbing it so that the last note lasted several seconds longer in length and ended in a rather husky sigh.

 

For a moment, D-boy just stared at him with a hard to read expression. There was a growing inch of ash on the end of his cigarette, and as Jimin studied it, it dropped to land right between his sneakers. It took the rapper almost thirty seconds to formulate words, though he did try a couple of times only for mumbles and nonsense noises to slip free as he puffed up his cheeks and fiddled with his beanie hat.

 

“What?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, wondering if he had sounded so off-key that the rapper was struggling to say something to him that didn’t sound too harsh. “Did I sound bad? Be honest, did I sound bad?”

 

“Huh, bad?” D-boy finally blurted out. “That’s your idea of bad? That’s what you sound like rough? Jimin, holy shit!”

 

“Hmm?” he hummed, finding his lips curling up at the corners into a wide grin. “You liked it?”

 

D-boy dropped his head at this with an embarrassed sound, trying his very hardest to hide his flushed cheeks as he nodded in agreement.

 

Jimin beamed at him as he watched him stubbing the toes of his sneakers on the paving flags. It felt so satisfying knowing that the other man thought that he had talent too, considering how his lyrics and rapping had been the best that he had ever witnessed being performed in a hip hop club before.

 

Before the rapper could hope to explain his thoughts better, Jimin caught sight of his taxi rolling down the street and heading right for the club. He had to move to the curb to wait for it to pull up in front of him.

 

“Oh, I gotta go, my taxi’s here.”

 

“Please, come back to this club tomorrow night,” D-boy almost pleaded, the cigarette stick in the corner of his lips so that he could hold both hands out to him, his palms together in the classic prayer position. “Yeah, Jimin? Promise me that you’ll come back?”

 

“Sure thing,” Jimin said, dragging the door open and pausing to study the other man. “I’ve gotta take advantage of your discounts too.”

 

The last thing that he saw as he climbed into the backseat of the taxi was D-boy pulling his cigarette free to give him a rather sweet smile, one that made his eyelids crinkle at the corners and was completely genuine.

 

When Jimin woke up at last, he was shocked to find that the time on his phone screen told him that it was well into the afternoon hours. But even after sleeping for well over half of the day, he still felt tired in a way that he hated as he dropped his head onto his pillow with a heavy grunt.

 

Jimin didn’t want to get out of bed for several reasons, the main and most obvious one being the fact that he had a hangover. His head was throbbing as a result of the alcohol and the pounding music from the club; his eyes were swollen and itchy from all of the cigarette smoke that he had been surrounded by, and his irregular sleeping habits over the last few days; and his stomach felt like it wasn’t exactly secure underneath his ribs. No, it felt loose and heavy, as if it might just clench at any moment and make him vomit.

 

Jimin shifted on his mattress, his hand moving to find his phone so that he could turn his head and check the screen again. He saw that it was 2:41pm, and that meant that he had been asleep for at least thirteen hours. Despite this fact, he still felt like he had done nothing more than take a nap. But he knew that he needed to get out of bed now because more sleep was just going to fuck him up when tomorrow came around.

 

“Hmm, shit,” he sighed, dropping his phone onto the mattress and shifting to cock his weight up onto one elbow. “Oh…”

 

Jimin winced and reached up with his free hand to touch his throat, instinctively grabbing it because it twinged sharply from his mumbling. When he was swallowed, there was a sensation much like he had pulled a muscle; a rawness that made him squeeze his eyes shut tight as he dropped his head for a moment. His dry and gel-free hair fell across his brow annoyingly, the scent of faded shampoo still clinging to it and his pillow.

 

After a brief throat massage, Jimin shifted to sit upright in bed, his covers pooling around his bare hips and thighs. The movement made his head throb and his stomach slosh around, and he had to swallow a queasy moan for the sake of his sore throat. He checked his phone again, not to see what time it was but to see what notifications were on his lockscreen. Jimin saw several messages from his friend and his mother, various notifications from Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. He moved to plug the device in and let it charge whilst he got out of bed and braved the challenge of getting cleaned up.

 

Getting upright was difficult with his hangover, but he just powered through his wobbling legs, aching head and swinging stomach so that he could stagger out of his bedroom and into the bathroom. Unsurprisingly, Jimin found himself on his knees just a minute later, gagging and drooling as he upended the remains of his rather empty stomach into the bowl; nothing more than bile and undigested chunks of yesterday afternoon’s ramyeon floating in the toilet water.

 

“Urgh, fuh-fuck,” he whined, spitting several times until he was able to fumble to find the flush. “No more soju tonight, no, no soju. Nope, shit.”

 

Jimin stumbled to get to his feet again as the toilet flushed loudly, moving to the sink to cup handfuls of water to swill his mouth clean first. Then he grabbed his toothbrush and applied a generous dollop of paste, hastily shoving it into his mouth. He started scrubbing his teeth and tongue with the brush vigorously, trying to rid himself of the lingering taste of vomit and faded beer. He still didn’t feel fully clean, even after taking a hot shower before sleeping, and he knew that he was probably going to take another one just for the sake of it.

 

In the mirror over the sink, Jimin could see his flushed cheeks and puffy eyelids, and he looked so rough right now. He knew that he was going to have to try and bring down the redness by tonight, especially if he was going to video call his mother at some point to tell her all about the recording session. He didn’t want her seeing his red face and assuming that he had been up to no good and drinking too much.

 

For the best part of a year and a half now, Jimin had been living in the small apartment room across the capital on his own, courtesy of his parents allowing him to dip into his university savings account. He had promised to replenish the savings when he ‘made it big’, so that he could still use the money for studying in the future. But that day had yet to come. Still, living in the apartment had instilled in him a confidence that made him feel adult and in control of his life, even when there was actually little control in reality.

 

Jimin might not have a steady income, he might not be signed onto a label yet and making decent cash. But he was starting to creep his way into real features and building connections with people that had proper connections, and so, the day might just come when he actually did get to start feeding money back into his savings account and move into a much nicer apartment room.

 

Jimin emerged from his bathroom after a brief shower feeling like a human being again, even when his head was still faintly throbbing and his stomach was loose under his ribs. He went back into his bedroom to slip into a pair of briefs, and then he went down the slight staircase to get to his kitchen-area. He was thankful that the staircase and small landing had a banister rail attached, just to stop him from staggering to the side and falling down a whole floor to break a wrist or an ankle like an idiot.

 

The apartment room was small, but the fact that it contained two floors made it seem a little bigger than it actually was. The ground-floor was nothing more than a small sitting-area and kitchen, which was set below the stairs. The first-floor was just a bedroom and bathroom, both rooms side by side on a tiny landing. But the fact that he had to go up and down the steps to get to them just created the illusion that it wasn’t a tiny box with even tinier windows and hardly any room to breathe.

 

In reality, he hated it.

 

Jimin hated the fact that he had to share a basement laundromat with the rest of his block. He hated the cramped staircases to get up to his room when the lift was in use or not working for the week, and he hated how everything felt so airless and tight around him. His family home had a nice, big kitchen, and yet his kitchen was a counter with just several appliances on it, and he constantly struggled to fit things in the fridge and cupboards.

 

But there was instant coffee in his kitchen, and the remains of cereal shoved inside of one of the cupboards, and that was all that he cared about right now.

 

After brewing a large mug of said coffee, Jimin tossed handfuls of Oreo O’s cereal into his mouth whilst he lazily lounged on his sofa. It seemed like both a fun way to pass the time, and was a totally a nutritious meal to eat and cure his hangover. It felt strange that he wasn’t doing something right now, after two days of hard work, but there was nothing that he could do. Bullseye had said that he would call him up if he needed him, and so he had little else to do but to wait on a possible call, check his emails, and reply to messages on his phone.

 

Jimin was checking his notifications on Instagram when something hit him. Before he could help himself, he opened Naver and tried searching the word ‘D-boy’, just for the sake of it. It brought back a mixture of results, the top one being a Twitter account, @D-boy93 , and the results below that consisting of various links to tags on the same website. He opened the account and he started scrolling down to see the kind of things that the young rapper posted.

 

Unsurprisingly, it seemed that D-boy was as reserved online as he was in reality, for there was nothing dramatic about his profile. His display picture was a photograph of himself with his head held low to mostly obscure his face, and his description simply read, in English: D-BOY FROM DAEGU! REPRESENT! OUTSIDER NETWORK! A REAL ARTIST ON THE BEAT!

 

It made Jimin laugh softly for some reason, probably because it just fitted him so well. There was a little bragging but nothing obnoxious, and he seemed to be very proud of his roots and his crew.

 

The majority of his tweets seemed to be deep musings on anything from music to art, to politics and education, and Jimin noted that he got a decent amount of likes and retweets on them. Sure, maybe not the level that rappers like Killuh might get, with his connections and attitude, but still a good amount for someone as reserved online as he was. The tweets were interesting and all, but Jimin found himself clicking on the media section of his account to check the photographs and videos that he posted instead.

 

He quickly discovered that D-boy very rarely posted photographs of himself, for he much preferred posting the things that he seemed to care about more. It wasn’t snapshots of alcohol, cigarettes, sexy girls and money, like what a lot of rappers that Jimin had met only ever seemed to post on their accounts, rather images of his computer and recording equipment, which might have been his or his crews’. Hip hop club exterior signs, art galleries, random parks - these were all of the things that took up most of his posted images instead of over exaggerated hip hop clichés.

 

There was no alcohol, no cigarettes and sexually provocative snaps of women in clubs, though there were some photographs of cats for some reason. They made Jimin so curious that he just had to open one of them to check the caption and see why he was posting such photographs.

 

D-boy apparently went to cat cafés in his spare time to work on his material and unwind.

 

Well…

 

“That’s…expected,” Jimin mumbled to himself, letting out a brief laugh as he grabbed some more cereal and tossed it into his mouth.

 

Jimin noted that a lot of the physical photographs of him were tagged ones from his crew members, which often contained just a hint of D-boy’s face, or had him trying his very hardest to avoid looking into the camera when the shot was taken. He saw him with women and men that looked to be his fellow crew members. They were all very striking in appearance, and they completely juxtaposed against him. The women all had shocking hair and makeup, the men had skinheads, mohawks, tattoos and facial piercings, and yet, D-boy looked as unassuming as always in their midst.

 

There were dozens of short videos that the other man had posted of his computer screen, on which a music programme would play a sample track for everyone to listen to. Jimin checked a few of them out just for the sake of it, finding that he liked the sound of a lot of the samples. It made him think of their conversation about old skool hip hop, about smooth r’n’b, and he wondered what exactly it would be like to hear a full song of his, instead of little samples. Watching the teasers made him want to find something more, something that might just contain his actual face or voice, and so he went back to searching his posted and tagged media.

 

A rapper called Kimmy had tagged him in a video that she had posted roughly two months ago, and so he clicked on it to see exactly what it was. The sound of music suddenly burst out of his phone speaker and caught him by surprise, the screen covered in flashing lights and shaking for a moment as she tried to steady her own phone to record properly.

 

“Ay-o, it’s D-boy!” she exclaimed, her voice taking on that shrill pitch that only incredibly drunk women seemed capable of achieving. Her accent was unmistakably from Busan, for Jimin could recognise it with ease, especially with a drunken slur to it.

 

On his phone screen, D-boy winced at the exact same moment that he did, looking up from a notebook to squint at the camera through the haze of smoke before dropping his head again when he saw that she was recording him.

Why ain’t you partying, huh?! Look at everyone!” she declared, turning the phone to show a quick flash of a crowd of people gathered around their table. “What’re you doing?!”

 

“Fixing up your lyrics!” D-boy shouted over the pounding music and deafening din of the crowd hanging around the table. “Your English, honey, it’s ‘fucking terrible’!”

 

His slurred but passable English made Jimin laugh under his breath, and on the screen, D-boy reached up to rub at his nose roughly in that funny habit of his.

 

“Ah, so mean, you’re so mean!” she retorted, lifting her sharply manicured nails to jokingly poke at his face from across their slight distance. “See, girls, I told you he’s mean! Don’t tweet him nice things, don’t ask him to be your boyfriend! He only loves music!”

 

Before the video cut off, D-boy actually let out a barking laugh as he looked up at the camera, and then it finished abruptly.

 

Jimin went back and he checked for another video from his crew, finding a recent one from just three weeks ago from another female rapper called Queen Bae. This one was also short, but the captions on it mentioned something about a studio, which piqued his interest. When he clicked on it, the first thing that Jimin saw was a young woman with cropped black hair, deep purple lipstick and heavy eyeliner, for she was recording herself using the front camera.

 

“D-boy in the studio, say hey, darling,” she said, turning the camera to show D-boy sitting in a padded leather chair beside her at a small console.

 

“Hey,” he said, twinkling his fingers at the camera but not looking away from the monitor screens once; the white and blue glow casting over his soft features.

 

Jimin studied his face just as a hint of music started playing from his phone, presumably because the rapper was giving a teaser for her song on the video. She turned the phone back to herself at this, bobbing her head in rhythm with the track for a few seconds.

 

“‘Numba one queen’ is gonna be dropping tonight, ah!” Queen Bae declared, throwing her head back hard with a laugh that bordered on a cackle. Her dangling, gold earrings danced from the movement. “I hope you’re all waiting for it! Me and D worked hard on this track, so, show us some love!”

 

The rapper blew a kiss at the screen before ending the video, and Jimin hit the back arrow again, staring at his phone screen for a few seconds. He suddenly realised just how long he had been creeping on the other man’s profile for, and he had only seen such a small amount of his tweets, photographs and videos. He really shouldn’t just lie on his sofa all day long and creep on the rapper, but he knew that he could easily do so.

 

Jimin quickly opened a new tab to check up on Killuh, just wanting to see if he had maybe posted something about the new single: a date perhaps, or even a mention of him. When he loaded his Twitter account, he scrolled down to see that there was indeed a date, for it was apparently set to drop at midnight tonight. Other than that, there was nothing. There was no mention of his name, no photographs from the recording session, and it made him stop scrolling down to stare at his screen blankly.

 

D-boy and his crew posted about each other constantly, and they were always sure to give credit when credit was due. Maybe, Killuh hadn’t mentioned him because he didn’t have a Twitter, and it therefore seemed pointless? Maybe, he should set a Twitter up and promote himself a little, now that he actually had a song credit to his name? It would be a great way to earn himself attention, but he was a little worried that it might not work out in his favour, that he might look a little desperate.

 

Jimin really didn’t know if he should, and as he closed the tab to go back onto D-boy’s account, he wondered if he should ask the other man about it tonight, if he saw him again at Flow. The rapper clearly knew how to run an online account, and how to promote himself and his crew, and he could probably get a lot of tips from him. Should D-boy be willing to share, that was.

 

Jimin locked his phone and placed it down on his ribs with a soft sigh, staring up at the ceiling above him. He hoped that he hadn’t accidentally messed up his chances of future collaborations by not having a better online presence, for he could have taken advantage of the recording session with Killuh to garner attention from the rapper’s fans, crew members and potential companies. But it was a little too late to worry about that now.

 

The afternoon hours seemed to drag for him, for Jimin did little else other than make some kimchi bokkeumbap for dinner, call his mother to let her know about the fact that his first feature was hopefully going to drop tonight, and lounge around his apartment room in his underwear with a soothing face mask on to try and calm down his pink cheeks and swollen face. They were truly a blessing, for when it started to edge towards the late-evening hours, he didn’t even look like he had had a rough night yesterday. Especially not after he added a light dab of makeup to cover up any lingering hints of redness, and the slight spattering of an incoming stress breakout on his cheek.

 

Jimin got dressed in a loose-fitting and thin, navy pullover, teamed with his fitted jeans and chukka boots, and then he entered his bathroom to finish getting ready. Just like always, he pulled his hair back off his brow and combed it in place, parting it and slicking it down to reveal his entire face. Kind of like how D-boy’s beanie hats showed off his round and soft features, he liked showcasing his sharper ones. The style really accentuated his jawline and cheekbones, and it also helped reveal his cross earrings.

 

Jimin liked jewellery, from his rings to his earrings. Though he only had one thumb ring that he wore often because it was real silver, he had a lot of earrings that he liked to utilise. First, there were the hoops: the small hoops that he often wore in his lobe piercings. But he had more extravagant ones like dangling, silver crosses, and thin chains with little charms on the end that would hang in a way that he strangely liked. He didn’t really know why he liked the sensation, he just did. He found himself playing with his earrings just like his thumb ring on occasion, like when he was busy thinking, warming up, or rehearsing his lines.

 

Just for the sake of his still tender head, Jimin grabbed his round and coloured sunglasses to slip them up his nose. As soon as he was finished getting ready, he grabbed his parka and left his apartment to ride the lift down to the ground-floor.

 

It was a lot easier and cheaper for him to ride the subway into Gangnam-gu to get to Flow instead of flagging a taxi, and the length of the journey wasn’t much different either. Of course, it meant that he had to ride in the carriages with everyone coming and going from work, tourists with countless bags and pull trolleys, and the occasional drunken person too. But Jimin just found a carriage with an available far corner seat, shoved his earphones in to listen to a playlist, and blocked everything else out until he was exiting the train and riding up the subway escalator to get back onto the sidewalk.

 

Like every other night, Gangnam-gu, much like Dongdaemun-gu, was filled with floods of people. The high-end shopping mall blocks were open until the early morning hours; the food and clothing markets, which were filled with bargains and hidden treasures; and the clubs, karaoke bars, PC rooms and more - so many businesses were always open to visitors. It was a wonder how anyone ever found anything through the sea of bodies, constantly flashing neon lights, and narrow, twisting side streets that made up a great deal of the district.

 

When Jimin went down the steps of the club, he saw that Flow was as packed as always - bodies filling up most of the interior space and so many glasses and phones in hands. The overwhelming scent of alcohol was hanging in the air like mist, so that he could taste it on his tongue along with perfume, cologne and sweat.

 

D-boy was sitting at the end of the bar counter, his notebook on the wood and a bottle of Hite beer sitting on a makeshift napkin coaster. He was wearing another beanie hat, that same sweet-looking jacket and distressed jeans. If he didn’t know any better, Jimin would have thought that he had stayed inside of the club all of yesterday night without sleeping.

 

As Jimin drew closer to the bar, he saw that Kisum lifted her hand to gesture at the rapper, catching his attention just as he put his bottle back down on the counter and swallowed a mouthful of beer. He glanced over his shoulder before noticing him, and then he looked back at his notebook. But then something seemed to come over him, and he did a quick double-take just to make sure that he wasn’t seeing things.

 

“Oh, you showed up?” D-boy said, sparing a quick glance up at him from his notebook before looking down at it again. He tried his hardest to disguise the rather quick twitch at the corner of his lips. But Jimin caught sight of it as he dropped right onto the stool beside him. “I thought you’d be collaborating with someone else already, snapping up all of those features; yeah?”

 

“Is that a joke?” Jimin asked, cocking his head at him. “Did you just tell a funny joke, D-boy?”

 

D-boy just shrugged at this, his fingers restlessly twirling his pen around as he looked between his pages and him discreetly. It seemed that he was actually in the middle of writing right now, judging from the smears of ink present on his knuckles and the side of his hand, even when the mere thought was enough to leave him in awe.

 

“How do you write with all of the noise in here?” Jimin asked, moving closer to him just to ensure that he could actually hear him talking over the pounding music. As he did so, he got a quick glance at his notebook pages, and he saw lots of black characters filling up the lines. “My eardrums are aching already and-”

 

“No peeking!” D-boy exclaimed suddenly, snatching his notebook up to hold it against his chest defensively.

 

“Huh? I wasn’t- I moved closer to you so that you could hear me,” Jimin rapidly explained, hearing the slight stammer in his reply and wondering if he did too. “The speakers are so loud that I- did you seriously think that I was sneaking a look? Like an elementary school kid cheating on an exam or something?”

 

D-boy shifted on the stool at this, not feeling the need to reply but also not lowering his notebook. The immature pout on his lips was an obvious sign that he was just joking around.

 

“What’s in there that I can’t see, huh?” Jimin asked, getting closer to him to purposefully put him on edge. “Love confessions?”

 

“No, my lyrics! This’ confidential shit, ‘k, NIS ain’t even catching wind of these lyrics,” D-boy said, hugging the notebook to his chest even more defensively as he brought his shoulders up to near his ears.

 

“Real cute notebook, by the way. Nothing screams, “fuck the NPA”, more than a cat, D-boy,” Jimin joked, reaching over to stroke the little illustration of the black cat on the soft pink cover with his forefinger. “Some rappers drop hooks about pussy and you just…”

 

“Very funny,” D-boy said, his expression not even showing a hint of amusement, though it was clear that he was trying very hard to keep a straight face. “Real cute outfit, by the way. Nothing screams, “I can’t rap for shit”, like those sunglasses, Jimin.”

 

“What a coincidence, I can’t rap for shit,” he retorted, reaching up to finally pull them free and shoving them into his parka pocket.

 

“You want a drink, huh?” he asked, placing his notebook down on the counter again so that he could collect his own beer bottle. “That ain’t an invitation to order a whole tray of shots, by the way.”

 

“No need to worry, I’m not drinking anything heavy, not tonight,” Jimin remarked, as he folded his hands on the cool wood. “Last night was a bad idea, and I regretted it this morning. Just a beer and coke, please.”

 

D-boy smirked at this, most likely finding it amusing after his joke about him drinking himself to death just last night. He lifted his hand to gesture at Kisum, and Jimin spared a quick glance at his notebook again whilst he was distracted; catching nothing at all because his handwriting was in cursive print and it was hard to read a single word.

 

Whilst the other man ordered the drink for him, Jimin couldn’t help but look back over his shoulder to scan the club interior. Just like yesterday, there was the usual gathering of rappers and their entourage, but he struggled to tell if they were the same guys or not, on account of the fact that the snapbacks and sunglasses that they all wore covered up so much of their faces.

 

“What’s your name, honey? Are you going to be a regular, because I like your style,” Kisum said, as she placed his glass of beer and coke down on the counter for him and added a napkin to the side.

 

“Jimin, his name’s Jimin. He just collaborated with Killuh on his new track, and he’s taking advantage of my discounts ‘cos he’s a cheap bastard,” D-boy retorted before he could even open his mouth, talking as fast as he could to get it all out.

 

Kisum looked between them both at this, and then she gave him a look as if to ask him if this was the truth.

 

Jimin shifted on his stool as he grabbed the glass and mumbled, “He’s a hundred percent correct.”

 

“Well, Jimin, good luck with the track, and those earrings are very cute,” Kisum said, moving to go along the counter to serve more customers.

 

Jimin watched her going for a moment before turning to look back at D-boy. He was still spinning his pen around rather than use it for writing, and he had a feeling that he might just have distracted him away from making note of any potential lyrics by appearing so suddenly. The music pounding from the speakers really was overwhelming, and he wondered how the other man could stand sitting at the end of the bar counter like this every night.

 

“We should grab one of those booths over there, so that the speakers won’t burst our eardrums at least,” Jimin suggested, not feeling the need to tell him that it was actually because the booths were far away from the other rappers, and that meant that they could talk without the other man worrying about them seeing them together again. “What, um, what do you think?”

 

For a few seconds, D-boy didn’t reply to this and just stared at his notebook.

 

Jimin could see that he wasn’t really looking at it, for his eyes weren’t moving from side to side to signal that he was reading over his lyrics. No, he was using the object as a tool just so he could think his suggestion over, judging from the fact that the pen had also stopped spinning in his fingers. Then D-boy shifted to look at him, his tongue slipping free to wet his lips.

 

“‘K.”

 

“OK?” Jimin repeated, raising his eyebrows at him.

 

Rather than add to this, D-boy just shifted his notebook into the crook of his elbow, grabbed his beer, and got off the stool to cross the club. He left Jimin no choice but to copy his actions, grabbing his cup and quickly moving to try and follow him through the press of bodies.

 

Jimin just knew that D-boy would get accosted just like the previous night, and that meant he needed to stay close to him to not lose him in the sea of daring dresses, sparkling jewellery and designer jackets and hoodies. Because of his slight height, and all-black clothing, it would be very easy to lose sight of him, so he just forced his way through slight gaps and tried to not slosh his drink on some guy’s pristine, white sneakers in the process.

 

D-boy swerved around the booths, passing drinking parties and making out couples, to locate an empty one that they could use. He sat down on the leather bench and dropped his goods onto the wooden table without a single care, moving to fold one leg over the other in a comfortable position that he couldn’t really do on the high bar stools.

 

A quick study of the booth showed him that the bench was u-shaped, with D-boy sitting on the right to view the stage and most of the club interior. Jimin could have sat on the left side and faced the steps that led back out of the club, or, he could have sat on the back so that he was closer to the other man. But he really didn’t know if he should do so. He actually hesitated for a moment before deciding to sit on the left…for now. Just for a little while, to see how their conversation went. Maybe, if D-boy showed the same level of interest in him, his skills and reflections on music, he would move closer to him.

 

It was just as he was about to move to sit down that a guy brushed past him, a cigarette dangling from his lips as he breathed a lungful of smoke out into his face. Jimin couldn’t help but inhale it, coughing in surprise and then wincing as he reached up to grab at his throat because it was still aching.

 

“Hey, you alright?” D-boy asked, his expression showing something that might have been concern as he dropped onto the leather bench with a soft thumping sound.

 

“Yeah, I’m OK, just my throat,” he explained, placing his drink glass down and swallowing hard a few times as he tried to force away the urge to cough again.

 

“Your throat?”

 

“That recording session really did a number on me,” Jimin said with a soft head shake, rubbing at his neck for a moment before dropping his hand down onto the table. “My throat’s been killing me all day long. I need to get tougher though. Professional singers can handle this shit.”

 

“You should protect that throat of yours properly,” D-boy suggested, as he ran his eyes down to study his neck. “Chamomile tea with honey. It’ll get you back to singing in no time, and send you off to sleep too.”

 

“Oh yeah? I’ll give it a shot, thanks,” Jimin said, quickly sipping at his drink to wet his throat and to stop it from itching.

 

“Don’t mess around with that shit, care for your throat,” he said, his eyes still intently staring at the neck as he fiddled with his pen. “If you don’t, you could permanently fuck it up, Jimin. You ain’t gonna get a stronger throat by damaging it, yeah? You get a stronger throat by taking care of it.”

 

“Chamomile and honey, got it,” Jimin repeated with a soft smile, placing his glass down and licking at his wet lips. “Is that a favourite of yours, huh?”

 

“I don’t sing,” D-boy retorted, his lips lifting at the corners in a wry smile. “I don’t need it, but I still drink it every now and again, just for the hell of it. All for the honey, I’d drink anything with honey. Even poison, probably.”

 

“Don’t you mean soju?” he joked, running his fingers up the side of his glass to feel the beads of condensation against his fingertips.

 

This made D-boy snort softly under his breath, holding his gaze for a few seconds before looking off across the club. Then his focus went straight back to his notebook. Though he had his pen in hand, he made no move to jot anything down, and Jimin wondered if he might have caught him at a bad time, if he might just in fact be disturbing him.

 

But D-boy had asked that he come back to Flow (even when he hadn’t specified what for exactly). So, Jimin assumed that must not be the case.

 

After a moment, D-boy moved to hover his pen over the page. When Jimin looked up, he saw that he had closed his eyes in concentration. The lighting in the booth area was purely blue, a deep neon blue that was much less taxing on the eyes than the red of the stage. It washed over his skin, adding a hint of colour that he didn’t seem to wear often, judging from his predominantly black and white clothing.

 

Jimin studied his face for a moment before looking down at the notebook again. He couldn’t help but wonder if the lyrics inside his notebook were like his musings on his Twitter; if they were deep reflections on life and dreams, hope and strength, or if they were like the kind of expected lyrics that every other guy in this place would think was good. The performance from last night had most certainly not been expected, for though it had been foul-mouthed and had contained a lot of English, the quality had just been…different to Jimin.

 

Jimin was still trying to figure out the different part because he had only witnessed one such example of his lyrics and stage presence. But he was willing to bet that D-boy was going to reveal a great many other surprises about himself…should they carry on talking with each other over beers, that was.

 

“I, uh, I’m just tryna get this one line down,” D-boy said suddenly, catching him by surprise and dragging him out of his musings. “It’s like…I got it up here, it’s just floating around and waiting for me to grab hold of it. Y’know?”

 

“Hmm,” Jimin hummed in agreement, even when he didn’t know because he hadn’t penned a single lyric in his entire life.

 

D-boy sighed heavily, reaching up to scratch at his beanie before resting his head in his free hand; his fingers curling over his brow as if he was nursing an oncoming headache. Even in the blue lighting, which was deep enough to obscure most things, Jimin could see that he looked tired, and couldn’t help but wonder how much the other man actually slept, considering how busy he seemed to be.

 

“Why don’t you hit me with it, huh?” Jimin suggested, cocking his head so that his earrings dangled ever so slightly.

 

At this, D-boy rolled his eyes up to look at him, his expression hard to read. All that Jimin could do was wriggle his eyebrows and give him a cocky twist at the corners of the lips, hoping to look like he knew what he was doing. In reality, he had no clue, and he could probably tell from a single glance at his face.

 

“…Not just yet, I know that I got it,” D-boy said, moving his pen away from the page and bringing it up to his lips to restlessly tap it there. “I know I got it, but…if I can’t find it, I’ll ask you first. Yeah? You’ve got an ear for English, after all.”

 

“I do,” Jimin shamelessly bragged, grabbing his glass to take another quick sip of his drink. “Actually, I-”

 

Before Jimin could finish talking, the music dropped suddenly in volume and caught him by complete surprise. He actually froze up for a second before he recalled that this was what happened when someone took to the stage for a performance.

 

Jimin twisted to look back over his shoulder just in time to see a woman getting up onto the low stage. She was only short, looked like a kid with her dyed blonde hair pulled up into two high ponytails, and she was dressed in a massive baseball jacket and loose jeans. He watched her retrieving the microphone, and then he turned back to D-boy.

 

“Do you know her?”

 

“Know her? No, not personally,” he replied with a soft shrug. “I think I’ve seen her hanging around here for a few nights though. So, she probably decided to hit the stage tonight after plucking up the courage. A lot of the kids do that.”

 

Across the club, the young rapper was introducing herself as ‘Lizzy’. Her voice just added to the sense of immaturity, for it was still rather squeaky. She was also listing various forms of social media too, clearly hoping to gain some followers during her brief performance.

 

“She’s not getting a lot of attention,” Jimin remarked, eyeing the rather pitiful amount of people lingering around the stage pit. “Does this happen a lot?”

 

“I produce a lot for the girls in my crew, they need all the help they can get, and by that I don’t mean that they can’t keep up. I mean that the guys don’t want ‘em to keep up,” D-boy replied, dragging his eyes away from the stage to hold his gaze. “It’s the scene, Jimin. The scene embraces culture that ain’t our own but struggles to bend the rules and accept the unaccepted, like female rappers, like…different people.”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, sliding his gaze over to look at her. He noticed that she had a decent amount of guys hanging around the stage, but it was a small gaggle of women that were actually cheering to hype her up before she started rapping. It seemed that most of the guys were just there to ogle her, rather than listen to her performance.

 

“Who’s in your crew? You said that you were in Outsider  Network, right?” he asked, just as the beat dropped across the club.

 

“Yeah, that’s my crew. There’s ten of us, including me. Kimmy, Yeesun, Sa Rang, and Queen Bae are the girls; you’ll notice that they almost make up half of the crew.”

 

“I did notice,” Jimin said, painfully playing dumb because he was already more than aware of the female rappers in his crew.

 

“The guys: Jay-Jay, Kream, O-yong, Yakuzah - he’s Japanese, and he spits both languages pretty fucking fast. Lastly, there’s RM. He joined us recently after breaking away from Murda Crew. He ain’t opened up on what exactly caused him to switch up crews like that, but it seems that he really hates a couple of the guys.”

 

“I’d leave Murda Crew too, shit, I wouldn’t even join it in the first place,” Jimin muttered, making the other man snort loudly before he focused on his attention onto the stage.

 

“‘L-I-Z-Z-Y’,” Lizzy rapped, her voice nasally but surprisingly not irritating to listen to. “That’s my name, now remember it, ‘cos I’m not just any bitch.”

 

Jimin knew that he should have paid attention to her, but he found his gaze shifting to look over at D-boy instead, to gauge his reactions as he watched her. He saw that he was intently looking at the stage, his brow occasionally twitching after certain lines, which might have been appreciative or outward groans - he couldn’t tell at all. It was so hard to read his face, especially in the deep blue lighting. But he did notice that his pen was softly tapping in beat with the track as Lizzy rapped, which showed a possible chance of interest.

 

Lizzy ended up staging a brief performance indeed, for she only dropped a short verse and hook, just for the hell of it. Jimin had a feeling that she might just have thought it up over the last few nights in the hip hop club. It was met with a polite amount of cheering and clapping, but a noticeable amount less than D-boy’s powerful performance last night.

 

Jimin saw her getting off the stage, the music resuming at the same high level of volume, and she quickly disappeared into the crowd of bodies just like everyone else. Yet, D-boy got up off his seat to get upright, actually waving his arm to try and catch her attention. He was pretty sure that the other man wasn’t going to be noticed, but it just so happened that she was on her way out of the club, so she caught sight of him and quickly moved to get to their booth table.

 

“What’s your name again? Lizzy?” D-boy asked, as he shifted to sit down again.

 

“Uhuh, Lizzy.”

 

“You make those beats yourself, huh?”

 

“Yeah, I did,” she said with a vigorous nod, her ponytails dancing from the movement. “I, um, I only just started playing around between classes for fun, so, I’m still learning.”

 

“Goddamn, I’d still like to mix with those beats, practice beats or not. Alright, if you get your stuff together, Lizzy, and you wanna get in a crew to protect your interests and help you turn those rhymes into money-making lines, I can recommend you to my guy,” D-boy said, holding her gaze confidently and never once glancing down to check out her body when she was unaware. “Outsider Network, we represent guys and gals from outside of the big city, and I detect a little bit of Jeolla in that accent, right? Which region?”

 

“Jeollanam-do, you’ve got good ears. A guy in Beatsmash said that he wanted to check out my shit. But, if you have a card or something, that would be so cool,” she suggested, perhaps because she didn’t want to sound too eager right now. Judging from her expression, Jimin thought that she looked very eager. “It’s better to have a couple of options, right?”

 

“Exactly, don’t settle on the first offer.”

 

D-boy shoved his hand into his inner jacket pocket, pulling free a scrip of matte black card emblazoned with silver and red characters, which he then presented to her.

 

“Trust me, Jay-Jay’s good. You’d be smart to give him a call and quote me - D-boy. Our girls could always do with another. Shit, we’ll be able to start our own all-star hip hop girl group if we get another one on-board. Beatsmash ain’t got a single female MC in their crew, so, think about that. Yeah, Lizzy?”

 

“OK, sure, thanks,” she said, as she quickly checked the card. “I’ll definitely consider calling him, thank you.”

 

“What? Don’t you like Beatsmash?” Jimin asked, as soon as she was out of earshot of their conversation.

 

“They’re a bunch of wankers - she’ll change her mind about joining ‘em real quick,” D-boy retorted, grabbing his beer and taking a quick sip of it.

 

“You’ve got a thing for the ladies, huh?” Jimin joked with a lopsided smile. “Four women in your crew and you’re on the hunt for more.”

 

“It ain’t like that, Jimin,” he stated with a staunch head shake. “I protect the girls, they protect me. We’ve got a good thing going on. They get a lot of benefits from what I offer, and I don’t charge ‘em more than the price of cup of coffee when we meet up. When they start making real money on the singles, I’ll take a nice cut off the credits I’ve earned and pay ‘em back for all of those coffees, and then some.”

 

“They protect you?” Jimin repeated in a quiet voice, wondering what exactly he meant by that.

 

D-boy just swigged at his beer and ran his eyes across the club, so he took this as a discreet hint to not press any further right now. It was as he was moving to place the bottle down on the table that Jimin caught sight of his watch, and a sudden thought jolted into his mind.

 

“What time’s it right now?”

 

“Huh? It’s…” D-boy lifted his wrist to eye the face of his watch, squinting for a moment. “It’s right about midnight. Why’d you ask?”

 

“Wait, I wanna show you something,” he said, grabbing his phone and sliding along the booth bench to get closer to him. He quickly unlocked it with his thumb, opening Naver without much thought at all. “Guess what’s about to drop in- oh, uh…”

 

Jimin could only let out a sheepish laugh at this because he was so flustered by the sight of the other man’s Twitter profile still on his phone screen. He had been meaning to show him Killuh’s tweet, the one about the song dropping at midnight, but he had forgotten about the fact that he had left D-boy’s profile open when he had last used the app, and now they were both staring at it dumbly.

 

“I, um, I thought that I was…” Jimin trailed off at this, lifting his phone to open Killuh’s profile instead and scrolling down just in time to see that the rapper had tweeted various links to download and streaming websites for fans to use, along with an apparent music video that he had had no clue about. “I was gonna show you this.”

 

When he turned the screen back to him, D-boy studied it for a moment before glancing up at him again. Jimin tried to hold his gaze, but he found it rather hard to do because he had accidentally shown the other man that he had been looking at his Twitter at some point. It was nothing to be embarrassed about, really, but he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of embarrassment anyway. Maybe, it was because he was convinced that D-boy would somehow figure out that he had been creeping on it for way too long, that he had spent more time looking at his photographs than his actual tweets.

 

D-boy moved to grab his own phone, slipping a Samsung model free from his jeans pocket so that he could hold it in both hands and hit the screen with his thumbs.

 

“Shit, I can’t believe that I’m opening Killuh’s fucking Twitter right now,” he muttered under his breath, sparing a quick look up at him. “D’you have Twitter?”

 

“Um, no, I don’t have Twitter, but I’ve got Instagram,” Jimin explained, as he watched him rapidly typing on his screen. “I’m a much more…visual person, in that sense.”

 

“Jimin, if you’re featuring on songs, you’ve gotta have a better online presence,” D-boy remarked, lowering his phone to stare at him in disbelief. His mouth was actually set in a soft ‘o’ of surprise, and Jimin tried to think of something to say in reply to this that made sense.

 

“Well, I just-” he placed his phone down to free up his hands, his fingers instinctively finding his thumb ring so that he could give it a series of twists. “I didn’t want one when I was still performing at clubs like this because I was scared that I might not be able to hype up an image for myself. So, I didn’t make one. But now…now, I probably should, right?”

 

“You should set one up, tonight, follow Killuh and mention him in a tweet. Drum up your fucking image, Jimin,” D-boy said, reaching over to snatch his phone off the table. “C’mon, let’s do it right now, let’s get a photo of you.”

 

“Huh? What?”

 

“I’m gonna help you create your Twitter, Jimin, so, I gotta get a photo of you right now,” he explained, opening the camera without needing his passcode and holding the device up in front of him.

 

Jimin moved to sit on the other side of the table, just to create a little room so that D-boy could rest his elbows on the table to steady the camera better.

 

“Get the booze outta the shot,” D-boy said, waving his hand quickly before taking hold of the phone again to steady it. He quickly moved his beer and coke out of the way and shifted on the bench. “There, that’s better.”

 

“Wait, how should I pose?” he asked suddenly, realising that he was so woefully unprepared for this. “Wait, give me a second.”

 

Jimin reached up to check his hair, feeling the usual loose locks falling over his brow like always. He moved to brush them back, sparing a quick look across the club to see that a couple of guys from the crew sofas were looking at them.

 

“Wait, do that, that hair thing,” D-boy suggested, lowering his phone to look at him. “Uh, you could look at the camera, or look away. It looks casual but cool, y’know?”

 

“Casual but cool?” he repeated, pausing in the act of lowering his hand.

 

“Also, add the sunglasses. They, uh, they actually suit you,” D-boy added, staring at his phone screen rather than look at him. “I just joking before, yeah?”

 

Jimin retrieved his sunglasses from his parka pocket, shoving the tinted and thin wired object up his nose. Then he turned to glance across the club, raking his hair back with his fingers as he attempted to look like he didn’t know that D-boy was snapping photographs of him; that candid but highly stylised kind of photograph that so many amateur singers and models used for their display pictures. He felt a little bit stupid, but he just did the pose and then turned to glance back at the camera before dropping his hand again.

 

“OK? Did you get a good photo?”

 

“Yeah, I got about a dozen,” D-boy replied, rapidly typing on his phone. “What’s your passcode?”

 

Jimin gave him the four digits as he slipped his sunglasses down his nose to eye him over the tops of the frame. After a moment, the other man stopped typing.

 

“OK, I’m gonna set you up. But first, you gotta enter your private shit,” D-boy said, holding the phone out to him. “I downloaded the app for you, just sign up.”

 

Jimin accepted the phone from him, entering his name, phone number and a simple enough password to remember before taking a moment to try and think of an actual handle to use. After some hesitation, he settled on @jjimin95 because he thought that that was good enough. His phone buzzed at this because he had just received a confirmation email, so he quickly opened it and hit the link just for the sake for it - registering the account and completing the final step.

 

“You sign up?” D-boy asked him, lowering his bottle of beer and swallowing hard.

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin said, holding his phone out to him so that he could take it from him again. “I signed in on the app too, just for ease.”

 

D-boy put his iPhone down on the table for a moment, quickly unlocking his own device to hit the screen a few times. Jimin didn’t know what he was doing, but he saw that he glanced between the two phone screens before he started typing. Then he placed his Samsung down and collected his phone again, hitting the screen several times.

 

“I took a couple of snaps, so, if you wanna change it to one you like more later, go for it. I’ll just pick one for now and… ‘K, I’m gonna teach you a good trick now,” D-boy said, getting up off his seat to join him on the other side of the bench, making him shimmy closer to the wall for them to both fit on it. “You’re in Flow right now, so, mention this fact. Tag ‘em in the caption, and follow their account. Wait, I’ll follow it for you. After mentioning ‘em, maybe drop a tweet or two going on about how much you like the place, yeah? If you’re with people, always mention ‘em too.”

 

“OK,” Jimin said, watching him hitting the screen to upload two photographs onto his account and then rapidly typing a caption for the tweet. “This sounds a little complex right now, but-”

 

“Jimin, it ain’t complex, it’s simple,” D-boy interjected, looking up at him just as he finished captioning the image and posted it. “Look, singing’s complex, getting collabs with hot new rappers’ complex. Twitter? Fucking easy, yeah. Give it a day, you’ll be posting like a pro.”

 

This made Jimin smile as he looked down at the phone, seeing that Yoongi had indeed posted his first tweet for him, complete with a mention for the hip hop club, and he had followed two accounts already. He saw one follower, but he didn’t think that it was whoever managed the Flow account because it seemed way too fast for them to have followed him back.

 

“Also, move in close, we’re gonna get some photos together,” D-boy said, moving to grab his Samsung off the table. “This’ the trick for getting attention. If you meet someone, get a photo and a mention. I ain’t special, but you’re gonna bump into some rappers in clubs like these, Jimin, and you’re gonna want that attention.”

 

“What’re you talking about? You’re special,” Jimin said, opening his camera and sparing a quick look over at him. “So, those other rappers might be dropping shit right now. But they’re not teaching me how to use Twitter now, are they?”

 

D-boy didn’t reply to this, but Jimin was pretty certain that he saw a quick smile lighting up his features as he opened his own camera.

 

Like he had suggested, Jimin snapped several photographs of them together on his phone from a slightly upward angle. It was his usual angle of choice, and it allowed D-boy to slip into the frame in that somewhat awkward way of his; almost peeking around his shoulder so that he could reveal as much of his face as he wanted to.

As soon as he was done, D-boy held his own phone out at eye-level, and he needed to get closer to him and look down at the screen through his sunglasses.

 

Jimin didn’t smile fully, rather just quirked his lips ever so slightly in something that could have been a pout, or possibly a wry smile.

 

D-boy hesitated for a few seconds because his own face was displayed so brazenly, but he just settled on raising one eyebrow enticingly and shoving his tongue up against his inner cheek to distend it slightly; his expression cocky and somewhat challenging.

 

“Mention me, I’ll mention you,” he suggested, after he had finished taking a couple of photographs. “Show me y’know how to do that much, yeah?”

 

“OK,” Jimin mumbled, eyeing the screen for a second before hitting it with his thumbs.

 

It took him a minute to do so, for after picking two photographs that he liked from the several that he had taken, Jimin pondered on what exactly to caption them with. Satisfied that he had thought of something good, and that he had mentioned D-boy correctly, he posted the tweet and waited for him to see it on his feed.

 

Jimin quickly checked his own feed to see that D-boy had posted a single photograph of them, along with the caption: follow @jjimin95 for good music, good vibes and a good time. He liked it, and then decided to retweet it, just for the hell of it. It was a good tweet, and he did like the photograph too.

 

“‘Jimin and D-boy in the buh…building’,” D-boy said, reading his English caption aloud before snorting and tapping the screen several times. “Nice. What’re you gonna put in your bio, huh?”

 

“My bio?”

 

“Yeah, your description,” D-boy explained, grabbing his beer so that he could knock back the remains. He swallowed hard and ran his tongue around his mouth, slightly furrowing his brow as he tried to think of something. “‘Park Jimin, singer, artist…trendsetter’.”

 

“Trendsetter? Oh, D-boy, don’t joke!” Jimin laughed, giving him a hard shove to the arm as he reached for his own drink.

 

D-boy guffawed at this, showcasing a rather sweet grin before he placed his bottle down and reached up to wipe at his mouth and hide it from view.

 

“How about…‘Park Jimin, singer, artist, in desperate need of collaborations and cash’?” Jimin suggested, earning himself a hard elbow dig from the rapper. “I’ll figure that part out; what next?”

 

“Uh, I’m gonna retweet Killuh’s tweets on your account, drop a mention at him and hope that he responds,” D-boy said, as he accepted his phone from him and started rapidly typing again. “I’ll follow him for you too, just for the sake of it. Just gimme a minute…”

 

Jimin finished his beer and coke whilst he let D-boy work on his profile, relishing the still cold liquid because it appeased his aching throat. He had been talking with him for longer than he had expected tonight, for D-boy was most certainly more talkative than yesterday. When he let out another sudden cough, it caught his attention.

 

“Uh, let’s get outta here and go somewhere that don’t stink of smoke and sweat; yeah?” D-boy suggested, giving him a soft shrug as if to emphasise that it was just a casual remark.

 

“Yeah, please,” Jimin groaned dramatically, getting off his booth seat and moving to grab his notebook and pen for him. He closed it over before he could complain about him peeking at it again, just so he could grab their phones and get off the bench too.

 

D-boy shoved his Samsung into his jeans pocket, so that he could resume working on his Twitter for him as he started moving for the club entrance. He didn’t look up once whilst he did so, but he managed to avoid walking into anyone, which Jimin thought was a miracle. He was smart enough to stop typing as he went up the steps though, just to save missing a step and rolling right back down them again.

 

Upon emerging from the club, Jimin followed him across the block. It was pretty obvious where the other man was headed, for they were heading straight for the 7-Eleven. D-boy was silent for the duration of the walk, though he did occasionally mumble to himself as he hit the phone screen with his thumbs. He was so busy that he didn’t even stop to retrieve a cigarette, and he just nibbled on his lower lip instead.

 

When they reached the 7-Eleven, D-boy paused for a moment by the ramp, quickly finishing whatever he was doing on his Twitter before looking up at him again. The exterior of the store was glowing from the entrance sign, throwing green and red light over his face and hands so that his rounded eyes almost glinted at him.

 

“Why exactly did you wanna come here, huh?” Jimin asked, glancing between the store window posters and the rapper.

 

“Hey, if your first feature dropped tonight then we gotta celebrate, right?” D-boy suggested with a smirk, moving to step onto the ramp to open the automatic doors. “What better way for two poor guys to celebrate than with cheap convenience store food? I’m calling tteokbokki, what about you?”

 

“I don’t know, there’s so many choices,” Jimin sarcastically remarked, as he followed him through the door.

 

Just like he had joked, D-boy went straight for a cup of instant tteokbokki, after he had greeted Miyoung, of course. He clearly knew the interior layout off by heart, for he didn’t even hesitate or stop to search for something.

 

Jimin wasn’t really hungry, and so he just grabbed a small packet of kimbap instead, following him over to the drinks aisle much like a puppy.

 

“Urgh, I know I probably shouldn’t…but-”

 

D-boy grabbed the can of iced coffee from the refrigerator to stare at it, almost as if he was an addict trying to fight the urge to take a hit. Judging from his tired eyes, he might just be hooked on the substance.

 

“If you’re gonna drink coffee, at least drink hot coffee,” Jimin suggested, running his eyes over the various colourful bottles of water, milk, energy drinks, coffee and teas in front of them both.

 

D-boy thought this over for a moment, and then he moved to place the iced coffee can back onto the shelf. He moved to grab an iced tea, flashing it at him with a quick grin because it was honey and citron. Jimin accepted it from him as he returned the grin, and then he crossed the store to get to the till. He was in the act of checking his pockets for cash to cover the costs when the other man stopped beside him and made a series of noises under his breath.

 

“No, this’ on me,” D-boy said, as he produced his card, which turned out to be a black card. “Oh, and Miyoung, add a store coffee too. I’ll make it in a sec, lemme pay first.”

 

“It’s OK, I’ve got change, I-”

 

“You can buy me a coffee as payback when your cash starts coming in from that feature; yeah?” he spoke over him, his eyes on the goods on the counter rather than holding his gaze.

 

As soon as the woman had hit several buttons on the till, D-boy scanned his card over the device and he entered his PIN to pay for them both.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but notice his Rolex, for a slight hint of the face slipped free as he hit the buttons. The watch, teamed with his black card, made him wonder just how much money D-boy was banking. He wasn’t going to ask him, of course, for that was a rude question. D-boy shoved his card back into his wallet, which went right into his back jeans pocket, and then he grabbed the goods to cross the store again and dump them down onto the counter.

 

First, D-boy dispensed the instant coffee into the little Styrofoam cup, mixing at it until it was stirred properly. Then he placed it down on the counter, suppressing a yawn as he did so and rubbing at his eyes roughly with the heel of his hand.

 

Jimin watched him messing around with the microwave, fiddling with the disposable wooden fork whilst he waited for the tteokbokki to cook. He stopped it to stir at the chunks of spicy rice cake for a few seconds before shoving it back inside of the microwave to blitz it again.

 

“Pulling an all-nighter?” Jimin asked, as he sat down on the stool beside him a minute later.

 

“Huh? Oh, no, no way in hell,” D-boy retorted before snorting hard. “I’m gonna sleep all day long and finish working on something for my crew.”

 

“Good, you look like you could do with some sleep - not being funny, just being honest,” he remarked, uncapping his iced tea to take a sip and sample it. He found it tart at first, but the sweetness of the honey settled on his tongue as he swallowed it.

 

“Yeah, well, rest is good but-”

 

“but it doesn’t pay the bills,” Jimin finished over him, earning himself a quick smile from him as he stabbed a chunk of the tteokbokki onto the fork and shoved it in his mouth.

 

“Hey, unlock this for me a sec, I forgot your passcode,” D-boy said around the chunk of food, as retrieved his phone again and held it out to him.

 

Jimin paused in the act of tearing open the packet of kimbap, accepting the phone to do so and wondering if he should ask him why he wanted to use it again. But it was probably related to Twitter, and so he just unlocked the phone and gave it back to him.

 

As he chewed the mouthful of kimbap, he saw that D-boy was slowly scrolling through something, his gaze focused on the screen in total concentration. The wooden fork was caught between his teeth, and he was nibbling on it.

 

When Jimin shifted to see what he was doing, he noticed that he was checking out his Instagram.

 

“Post some of these old photos on your Twitter, yeah? Do it over a couple of days, slowly build your account up,” D-boy suggested, slowly scrolling through his account to eye his photographs. “But build up a good presence, ‘K? You online is how most of your fans are going to think of you, and if you want ‘em to think that you’re different, don’t just turn your account into another knock-off rapper clone. Yeah?”

 

“Like your account?” he remarked, moving to grab a chunk of kimbap from the tray and shoving it into his mouth.

 

This made D-boy’s lips twitch around the fork, his eyes sliding away from the screen to study him for a moment before he resumed looking at his photographs.

 

“It’s certainly different, D-boy, I mean, you post important shit on there, not just the usual shit, you know? For every underground rapper dropping nonsense and flexing their so-called credentials, you’re tweeting about serious government matters, dropping stuff to remind your followers taking care of their health if they’re students and everything. I’m not that deep a thinker though, so, I don’t have a clue what I’m even gonna post on that thing. It’s one of the reasons why I never used to have one.”

 

“You ain’t an idol, you don’t gotta be squeaky clean. But if you look too dirty, real labels ain’t gonna want you on their payroll, trust me,” D-boy explained, moving to stab at another chunk of tteokbokki. “Rappers can do whatever they want, but a singer, a singer that’s serious about making it? You need to impress ‘em. You’ve gotta play it safe, Jimin, alright?”

 

“OK, so, no booze and no drunk tweets then,” Jimin remarked, as he swallowed the kimbap and gave him a quick smirk.

 

“Hell no,” he explained with a quick laugh. “Like I said, just try and stay clean, and it’ll help you; yeah? Tweet about things that inspire you, be it music, fashion, whatever, and from that point just…I dunno, you’ll figure that part out on your own.”

 

“Thanks, man, you actually gave me a lot of good advice,” Jimin said, accepting his phone back from him and placing it down on the counter. “That isn’t a joke by the way, I’m being serious.”

 

“Yeah, I know. When you’re tryna be funny, you pull this face, this cocky smirk,” D-boy pointed out, as he stirred at the chunks of sauce-covered rice cakes. “It’s so annoying.”

 

“What? You mean…this one?” he said, turning to flash him his cockiest grin as he eyed him over the tops of his sunglasses.

 

D-boy groaned at this, reaching up to wipe at the corner of his mouth with his thumb to clean away a blob of sauce. He quickly sucked it free and then he dropped the wooden fork into the cup.

 

“Hang on, I gotta smoke,” he muttered, as he grabbed his coffee and climbed off the stool.

 

Jimin watched him exiting the store as he lifted up his bottle of iced tea for a quick sip, catching sight of Miyoung looking over at them before she continued brushing up the flooring around the counter.

 

D-boy stuck close to the front of the store, hunkering down to place his coffee on the pavement so that he could quickly spark a light. Then he retrieved the container and straightened up again. He could almost hear the soft grunt that he would have made doing so, followed by the weary sighs as he exhaled his first lungful of smoke.

 

Whilst he was distracted, Jimin grabbed the wooden fork and to steal one of his chunks of tteokbokki, just for the hell of it. He cheeked the spicy bite of rice cake as he watched the other man dabbing ash onto the pavement. It was hot enough to almost burn his tongue, which he supposed was karma for stealing the chunk like that.

 

Jimin grabbed his phone off the counter, holding it up in front of him to try and catch a quick snapshot of D-boy lurking underneath the glowing red and green store light; a furl of smoke hanging around his head like breath on a cold winter’s day. He was pretty certain that the other man was oblivious to him, for when he moved away from the doorway for a moment to pace up and down, his eyes looked to be half-lidded and his gaze was running down the sidewalk rather than looking through the wall of windows.

 

D-boy entered the store as soon as his cigarette was nothing more than a filter, which he dropped into the store bin with his Styrofoam cup rather than carelessly toss into the gutters.

 

Jimin had since stopped trying to snap photographs of him, and he tried to look completely innocent even when that was a rather hard thing for him to do.

 

“You think I didn’t see you grabbing that bite when I was outside, huh?” D-boy said, as he moved to grab the wooden fork from the food cup. “I saw you, Jimin, and you’ve got sauce all over your mouth.”

 

“Huh?” Jimin hummed, reaching up to touch his mouth. “No, I don’t, I-”

 

“If you didn’t eat it, why’d you check your mouth?” he interjected, looking down at him with a knowing expression and pointing the fork at him menacingly.

 

Unsurprisingly, Jimin had nothing to say in reply to this. After a few seconds, he could feel his lips twitching at the corners as he tried to not laugh. Goddamn, he had the worst poker face, and D-boy was more than aware of this fact apparently.

 

D-boy couldn’t help but let out a snort, his own expression shifting as he moved to stab at the tteokbokki and shoved a piece into his mouth.

 

“You want another bite?” D-boy said around the mouthful, stabbing a chunk and holding it out to him in offering.

 

Jimin moved to accept the bite off the fork, pulling the rice cake free with his teeth and cheeking it as he reached up to wipe at his lips with his thumb.

 

D-boy looked down at him whilst he did so, his tongue slipping free to lick at his lips before his gaze moved to stare out of the store window. Then he dropped back down onto the stool, sniffing hard and roughly rubbing at his nose like usual.

 

When he offered him a chunk of kimbap, D-boy went to take it from him with his mouth but then he hesitated, reaching up to take hold of it with his own fingers instead. Jimin noticed the rather obvious hesitation, for it had been almost like a flinch, but he decided to not comment on it for the other man’s sake.

 

“Hey, uh, I know that we follow each other on Twitter, but, uh, d’you wanna maybe…exchange numbers or Kakao or something?” D-boy suddenly mumbled, catching him by surprise.

 

“Um, sure.”

 

“I mean, it’s just ‘cos it’s easier, y’know, and you dunno about DMs yet, so-”

 

“D-boy, you don’t need to explain,” Jimin spoke over him, unlocking his phone with his thumb so that he could open his Kakaotalk app. “Friends share numbers and shit, right?”

 

“D’you think we’re friends?” D-boy asked, as he slipped his own phone free from his jeans.

 

“Well, if we’re not friends yet, we’re getting there. Yeah?” he suggested with a soft shrug. “I think that you share drinks and food with friends, and friends most certainly teach each other how to use Twitter, right?”

 

“Yeah, I think so too…” he said in a soft voice, holding his phone out and giving it a series of shakes.

 

Jimin gave his phone a quick shake to enable the search function, and a moment later, D-boy appeared on his screen. He clicked on the name so that he could accept him as a friend, seeing him also doing so out of the corner of his eye.

 

“There, now we’re officially friends,” Jimin declared with a soft smile. Kakao says so.”

 

 

 

 

 

When Jimin next entered Flow, it had been two entire nights since he had last seen D-boy, on account of the fact that they had both been too busy working to go to the club. Stepping back inside the club after a couple of nights, he was so painfully aware of how deafeningly loud the music that they played in here was, coupled with the intense lighting. But at least his ‘casual but cool’ sunglasses blocked most of that out as he crossed the floor in the direction of the bar counter.

 

It was funny, Jimin thought, that he already knew that he would find the other man sitting at the counter, probably with his notebook and a single beer at hand; undoubtedly wearing a beanie hat. They had only spent time together over the duration of two nights, but he already knew that D-boy would be there instead of sitting in a booth, or hanging with some random crew members across the club. The rapper seemed reliable like that, seemed to be the kind to meticulously follow his habits.

 

Jimin had received his first message from D-boy in the late afternoon hours the following day after exchanging contact information. It had simply read: “can’t come to the club tonight, real busy on a track. Sorry. But I’ll make it up to you with more beer and cokes yeah? :)”.

 

Through a series of back and forth messages that same night, Jimin had discovered that D-boy had been mixing up a track for one of his crew members, for none other than the mysterious newcomer RM. He had recalled the fact that the guy had left Murda Crew to join Outsider Network, and he had wondered on the chances of this causing drama between the two opposing crews. But he had since decided that D-boy wouldn’t have willingly gotten involved in something that might have caused too much trouble, for he didn’t seem very fond of it.

 

Jimin had wished him luck with the mixing and had told him to be sure to not work all night long, and then he had spent his own evening posting random things on Twitter and streaming Killuh’s track on both Melon and YouTube, just for the sake of it. Just to try and keep it in the charts because it had appeared in various online music charts overnight, much to his genuine shock.

 

In his experimental attempts at tweeting solo, Jimin had discovered that D-boy had been his very first follower, followed by a random mixture of young girls and boys that he assumed must have been some of his followers that had seen his tweet about him. Then Killuh had decided to follow him back too, and had tweeted at him to thank him for his collaboration and to brag about how the track was charting. Seeing his enthusiasm had made Jimin feel a burst of confidence about the potential success of the song, and his chances at maybe clinching another feature, even though he hadn’t wanted to get his hopes up too high that night.

 

Jimin had stuck to tweeting things to give followers and potential company representatives an idea about the kind of singer - and person - that he was. That had meant searching through his camera reel to find photographs like what D-boy had told him about, ones that made him look clean but interesting. He had posted a random assortment of them so far over the last two days; alongside a few tweets. His profile was pretty small, but he still felt great relief when someone liked or retweeted his tweets, even when it had tended to mostly be D-boy that had done so.

 

Friends shared KakaoTalk information, and they also liked every single selfie too, it would seem.

 

Something that had surprised him was the fact that Bullseye had also followed him, and had actually tweeted about him very positively. From that point, several smaller companies that the producer had connections to had followed him on their official company accounts, but they had yet to message him any offers for signing contracts or anything like that.

 

Until last night, that was.

 

When Jimin had opened his Twitter the following morning, he had not expected to see a DM from a representative of the company Moon Media, who had had an offer that had numbed him to his very core.

 

Jimin had known of the company, of course, for they were a great starter company for artists that were finding their foothold in the industry, and looked or sounded good enough to be considered for an actual contract with larger entertainment companies. They were for the artists considered alternative to the mainstream flood of idol music: from folk and rock, to soul and jazz and r’n’b. Not only were they the kind of company that a newcomer like him desperately needed, they also had one of his favourite upcoming new singers signed to the label, a smooth r’n’b singer who went by the artistic pseudonym of ‘Andre’.

 

The offer that had been presented to him?

 

Apparently, none other than Andre himself wanted him to feature on his upcoming single that was set to drop in just under a month. According to the representative, the singer had heard his voice playing on the radio and had decided that he wanted him down on the track because he had the perfect ‘sound’ for him, and she had searched andluckily found his profile through Killuh’s tweets.

 

Not only had he been personally requested by Andre to feature on his single, to sing with him, the company were considering signing him on what they called a ‘developmental deal’, should it work out favourably for them.

 

When Jimin had finished reading the message, he had placed his phone down on his pillow and had stared at it dumbly for quite some time. Then he had snatched it up and had hastily replied to the DM, providing his contact details so that she had been able to forward him more information on the matter. Through several phone calls to her, he had arranged a meeting that he had went to just this morning in the company building across the capital.

 

Jimin had messaged D-boy shortly after this exchange of information to let him know that he had been unable to go to the club that night because he had needed to rest in preparation for the morning meeting. He had sent him the brief message: “I can’t show tonight either but tomorrow night? I think I’ve some great news to share with u?”.

 

Roughly an hour later, D-boy had replied back to him with a rather enthusiastic message: “Great news? Why not tell me now? Why make me wait???!!!”.

 

But Jimin had since decided that he wanted to tell him in person, face-to-face, rather than over the messaging app. He wanted to see the look of surprise on his face when he told him about the new feature and potential contract, and he also wanted him to buy him a drink in celebration, and maybe even give him a sharp dig in the ribs with his elbow too.

 

Jimin had kept it secret from D-boy and had went to the meeting this morning, so filled with nerves that he had sucked and crunched his way through what must have been a dozen lollipops in the hopes of not freaking out on the subway ride and brief wait inside of the company building. But the meeting had been incredibly casual, with the representative, Sooah, just wanting to discuss the feature with him over some coffee and papers.

 

Sooah had explained to him that he would be paid for the feature, and that he would receive a small percentage of the profits from the play and streaming rights. She had specified that the money wouldn’t be ‘bank breaking’, but Jimin hadn’t cared about that fact too much. He had told her that featuring on the single and establishing himself as an artist was his current priority, and Sooah had voiced great respect for his drive and dedication as he had signed a form agreeing to give the company permission to feature his voice on their copyrighted material.

 

That was it, he was going to feature on the song, and the recording process was set to start tomorrow afternoon.

 

As expected, when he drew closer to the bar, D-boy was sitting at the end of the counter with his trusty notebook and his spinning pen in hand. There was a Hite beer to the side, and as Jimin moved to stop beside him and leaned his weight onto the wood, he moved to jot something down.

 

“D-boy, I think that some of your fans are following me,” Jimin said as an icebreaker line, making the other man look up sharply at his voice. “How sweet of them.”

 

“You’re welcome,” D-boy replied, flashing him a quick smile as he carried on writing in his notebook. “Guess what?”

 

“Hmm, what?” Jimin hummed, still leaning close to him rather than sit on the stool.

 

“I just finally thought of that line. The one that I was tryna figure out that night,” he man said, as he finished scrawling characters on the page. “You offered to help, but I said that I’d get it outta my brain eventually.”

 

“Congratulations. Are you gonna tell me the line?”

 

“Nope, it’s a secret. Everything in this notebook’s a secret, remember? Now…are you gonna tell me that good news yet? Or, do I gotta beg?” D-boy said, shifting to fold his elbows on the counter and cocking his head at him.

 

Jimin studied his face for a moment before reaching up to tug his sunglasses free and shoving them into his parka pocket. When he raked his fingers through his gelled hair, D-boy watched him doing so intently. But when they made eye-contact, he quickly glanced over at the pink glowing bar display instead, in that somewhat flighty habit of his.

 

“Straight to the point, huh?” Jimin asked, also glancing along the bar to see that Kisum was shaking up cocktails with speed and efficiency.

 

“Y’know it,” D-boy agreed with a soft nod. “I’ve been tryna figure it out since last night. I checked Twitter, I saw that the track was still charting strong, which means that it could complete a full first week on the charts if people keep buying and streaming it for a couple more days. But I thought, nah, that’s good news, but it ain’t great news, and you said that it was great news. Then, I checked the YouTube views and thought the exact same thing, and nothing on your Twitter gave it away, man. What’s the great news? I’m almost sweating here in anticipation.”

 

“I…I got a new feature. Maybe, even a record deal, but I’m still working that part out,” Jimin explained in a quiet voice, turning his head to give him his full attention. “But basically, I signed a piece of paper this morning for the feature, and they’re ready to go with recording tomorrow.”

 

For a few seconds, D-boy just blankly stared at him, but then his face started to change. First, his mouth turned slack so that his lips turned into an ‘o’ of complete shock, and then his rounded eyes widened comically so. Jimin saw his lips twitching as he tried to think of something to say, and it took him a few seconds to finally find his voice and do so.

 

“No shit! Oh, my god!” D-boy declared in English, his fingers twitching to drop his pen. Then he moved to lift his hand, waving it at the bartender. “Kisum, two somaek, yeah!”

 

“Somaek? You and soju?” Kisum retorted from across the length of the bar, moving so that she could grab two tall glasses from the display. “Sounds like a bad idea to me, D-boy…”

 

“I’ve got a good reason to drink!” he retorted, as he settled back on his stool.

 

This made Jimin start laughing, reaching up to cover his mouth with his hand as the rapper tugged on his beanie hat, fidgeting in what looked like restless excitement. He could see that he was trying his very hardest to not grin too widely at this news, but he was failing spectacularly, and seeing his genuine happiness for him made Jimin feel a frothy feeling in his belly that he hadn’t felt in quite some time.

 

“For real, Jimin? You got another feature already? Who with? What company’s desperate to get you on a deal, huh?”

 

“It’s a surprise, I’m not telling you any of that until the single drops, just in case it doesn’t work out. I don’t wanna get too excited about this, in case I fuck it up,” Jimin said, as Kisum moved to place the two glasses of somaek down for them, the shot glasses floating in the golden mixture of beer and soju. “But, it’s good - also, the drinks are on me.”

 

“It’s good?” D-boy asked, letting him drop a bill on the counter rather than protest about paying. “What’s that mean, huh?”

 

“It means…it’s not a guy like Killuh. It’s a guy that I admire as an artist,” Jimin explained, watching the bartender retrieving the bill. “He’s also a singer, not a rapper.”

 

As soon as Kisum had moved away again, he grabbed his glass and held it out to the other man in offering, so D-boy lifted his own glass in return.

 

“So, here’s to not fucking it up,” Jimin declared, knocking their glasses together and making him smile. Then he lifted it to his lips and took a deep swig, swallowing hard and sniffing as he placed the glass down again.

 

“Goddamn, Jimin,” D-boy said in a quiet voice, which was almost lost under the pounding club music. He had only heard it because he was still standing close to him, still not sitting on the stool. “I told you that hyping yourself up was a good idea, and look at you now; bringing in more features already.”

 

“Thanks for helping me hype myself up,” he said, watching the other man swallowing a deep mouthful of his somaek, licking a hint of foam off his upper lip as he did so. “Without your advice and help, I’d have never set my account up, and the representative wouldn’t have tracked me down through Killuh’s tweets. I owe you, D-boy, and not just a single glass of somaek. I owe you a lot more than that.”

 

“Pft, it was nothing,” D-boy mumbled, waving his free hand as if to brush his words away. “You don’t need to thank me, and you don’t owe me anything either.”

 

Jimin watched him sipping at his somaek for a moment before shifting his gaze to look at the sofas across the club. D-boy was so busy working his way through his drink to even care, so he gave the other men a quick glance before looking back at him. They didn’t seem to be attracting too much attention tonight, and that meant that they could stay at the bar a little longer, maybe even have another round of drinks.

 

Hell, they could stare at them all they wanted tonight, and he wouldn’t give a fuck. Jimin was far too excited about the new feature to care for a bunch of wannabes possibly talking shit about him, whatever that even entailed. They could talk shit, but he was charting on the national music charts, unlike them, so, which one really deserved to be mocked?

 

Just thinking about this fact was enough to make him laugh under his breath in disbelief, catching D-boy’s attention.

 

“Mmm?” he hummed, as he lowered his glass, his eyes round with interest.

 

“Nothing, it’s just…I sang on a song that’s on the top charts right now, D-boy,” Jimin explained in a quiet voice, intently studying the floating shot glass in his own serving of somaek. “That’s something that I’m still struggling to process, you know? It’s, like, hard to explain my emotions right now.”

 

“Then don’t,” D-boy suggested with a shrug. “Don’t explain ‘em, just enjoy ‘em whilst they last, yeah? Good feelings never last too long, so, you’ve gotta enjoy ‘em as much as you can.”

 

“Oh, I’m enjoying them alright,” Jimin replied with a soft smile. “I should’ve toasted to good feelings instead, right?”

 

“To good feelings,” the other man declared, holding his half-empty glass out to him to clink it with his own. “To another song charting in the music charts and-”

 

“I don’t think you’re supposed to toast this many times,” he joked, lifting his glass to his lips as D-boy snorted under his breath.

 

Jimin had just swallowed his second mouthful of somaek when the song on the system switched, and he heard a very familiar keyboard sounding from the speakers, quickly followed by a beat that made him gasp.

 

“Oh…”

 

Jimin couldn’t help but let out an embarrassed laugh when he heard the opening lines of ‘Feeling Your Body’ playing from the sound system because it caught him by complete surprise. It was even more surprising when he saw that a lot of the women in the club moved to the pit in front of the stage, their arms softly swinging and hips swaying because they wanted to dance to the track with their friends.

 

“It’s the song,” he remarked, reaching up to fiddle with his earring with a rather sheepish smile. “The Killuh track.”

 

“I know; I bought the track that night we were at the convenience store, and I’ve listened to it a lot. It’s good, it’s a good track, Jimin,” D-boy said, staring down at his drink rather than hold his gaze, which was a sure-kill sign that he wasn’t being completely genuine with him.

 

“You look like you’ve got something to say,” Jimin remarked, as he studied him. “Is it about the track? Be honest. You can tell me, I don’t mind at all.”

 

D-boy looked between him and his drink for a moment before sighing heavily. He lifted his glass and drained the remains in several deep gulps, letting his breath out in a soft hiss at the slight burn of the soju. Killuh’s monotonous voice was still coming from the speakers, but his hook was going to drop any moment from now to liven things up.

 

“‘K, I hate everything about this track except for you,” D-boy stated honestly, placing his empty glass down hard on the counter. “Jimin, you make this track good, y’know? Killuh doesn’t deserve to have you on a track, and that’s the truth. He ain’t got an inch of talent, not even in his dick, alright?”

 

Jimin held his gaze at this, refusing to look away once as he explained his thoughts to him. D-boy was being completely honest with him, and he could see that he was a little bit anxious whilst doing so, likely because he was scared that he might upset him with his words. He could tell in the way that he scratched at his beanie hat and restlessly fiddled with his pen.

 

“I’ve got this track on my phone, and y’know what I did? I edited his fucking rapping out on my computer and I kept only your voice in the track with the instruments, ‘cos that’s all I wanna listen to.”

 

D-boy dropped his pen onto his notebook with a weary sigh, reaching up to cup his brow in his hand as he stared at the spread pages. It seemed that he had gotten everything off his chest, and he might just be regretting this fact right now.

 

“Thank you for your honesty, D-boy,” Jimin said, breaking the momentary silence between them both. “I’m…relieved that you didn’t turn around and tell me that I can’t sing and that I ruined the song-”

 

“No way in hell could you’ve ruined that hook,” he interjected. “Not with that voice, goddamn. It’s so smooth, Jimin, I-”

 

When the hook dropped, D-boy stopped talking so that they could both listen to the song.

 

Jimin found it so strange hearing his voice playing back to him because it didn’t really seem like it was his voice to him. D-boy closed his eyes as he listened to him singing, his lips moving to mime along to the lyrics and revealing that he really had been listening to it a lot. When the hook was finished, he opened them again to hold his gaze.

 

“I wanna pen a track just for your voice, I like it that much,” D-boy continued. “It’s like…I dunno, I can’t explain it, it’s just…I feel like I just gotta do it, y’know?”

 

“What? You…you wanna work with me?” Jimin asked, unable to keep his expression neutral even when he wanted to. “Did you just kinda drop a hint that you wanna work with me, D-boy?”

 

“Yeah, if you wanna. I mean, I ain’t saying that I won’t beg you, but I’m asking that you don’t make me do that; yeah?”

 

“Don’t get me wrong, D-boy, I like you. You’re amazing onstage, your lyrics and style is the kind that I personally like the most. You’ve got an old skool heart and mind, but you’re smart enough to be contemporary when you have to be. But…why me? Why do you wanna work with me when I’m not in your crew, or even an established singer yet?”

 

“Well, Jimin, I…I, uh, like you too,” he replied with a soft shrug, his eyes staring down at his empty glass. “You’ve got the exact voice that I want on a track, or tracks, should I be blessed enough to hit the mark with the first attempt.”

 

“Tracks?” he repeated, before laughing softly at this sudden streak of cockiness that D-boy had just revealed. “I’m sorry, are we making tracks together now?”

 

“Yeah, y’know, if you and me can make a killer track without Killuh…”

 

“Oh, D-boy, I like that sharp tongue of yours,” Jimin said, lifting his glass and pointing at him. A little somaek spilled onto the counter, but his napkin caught most of it.

 

“If we can do that,” D-boy continued with a lopsided smile, moving to dab up his spilled drink for him. “If we can make one great track, who’s to say that we can’t make more? Like, an entire single, or maybe a mini album? One or two duets, a solo track each, an instrumental - it’s possible, Jimin.”

 

“A solo track?” Jimin said in a soft voice, hovering his glass in front of his lips as he studied him.

 

The suggestion alone was enough to leave him stunned because it sounded so…unobtainable right now. Jimin was searching for features on songs, hoping to get a few together before he would have the strength to be able to maybe get a single of his own. Even then, he was likely looking at having someone feature to support it and garner him more attention. But D-boy was talking about giving him his own solo song, and that was something that made him feel a funny surge of excitement deep down in his gut.

 

“Are you on a label?”

 

“No, but I work with companies and artists, and I’ve got production, composition, mixing and lyric credits for dozens of tracks. They don’t sign me up to their payroll ‘cos they don’t like rappers, we’re…unpredictable.”

 

“With credits like that, you aren’t a rapper, you’re a musician, D-boy,” Jimin remarked, after swallowing a swig of his somaek.

 

“They’re the exact same thing to me, if the rapper ain’t a poser, that is.”

 

“If they aren’t Killuh, you mean?”

 

This remark made D-boy burst out laughing, reaching up to cover his mouth as he did so and throwing his head back. The sight and sound brought a grin to Jimin’s face, and before he could help it, he was laughing too. There was just something so giddy about this entire moment, that made him want to laugh until his eyes were streaming with tears and his cheeks and stomach hurt, even when he really didn’t understand why.

 

Jimin guessed that being told that he was a great singer, and hearing D-boy praising him over a guy like Killuh, was probably what made him feel so giddy. That, and the fact that the meeting this morning had went so well for him.

 

Goddamn, the entire day was turning out so good that he could hardly believe that this was reality. If he was really just dreaming right now, Jimin wouldn’t be surprised at all. He would rather stay asleep and feel this happy, than wake up and lose it.

 

“I’ve got demos on my computer, unfinished tracks just waiting for a voice like yours to grace ‘em. I’ve got my whole studio set-up too, but it’s in my apartment,” D-boy explained, no longer laughing but still smiling at him. “I, uh, I guess that what I’m saying is…d’you maybe wanna come back to my place and check my shit out?”

 

“…OK,” Jimin said, giving him a brief smile. “I think that we can review things back at your place; if you’re down for that tonight?”

 

“Fuck, I’m down,” D-boy agreed in English, a little hint of a slur in his words that signalled that the somaek might just have been added on top of a couple of beers and was starting to have an effect on him.

 

“Can I at least know your name now? After everything?” Jimin asked, as he placed his own empty glass down on the counter. “You know, so that I don’t have to call you D-boy all night long?”

 

“…Yoongi, you can call me Yoongi,” the other man said in a soft voice, which was almost lost under the pounding of the bass line and his own crooning voice coming from the speakers behind them.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“…and I mean, at that point, he didn’t even have to tell me something like that. You know? We were friends, sure, but we didn’t really know each other that well at all. I guess that the reason why I asked him his real name was because he knew mine, and it was a hell of a lot easier to call him that instead of D-boy all of the time. So, when he actually told me his real name, I was really surprised.”

 

[Jimin pauses for a second, sticking his tongue out to wet his lips and then reaching up to touch his throat. A slight wince is detectable on camera A, and would be obvious on camera C.]

 

“Can I just grab a glass of water or something, Hoseok?”

 

“Of course, we can take a break from questions for as long as you need, Jimin.”

 

“Hang on, I’ll get you some water.”

 

“Oh? You don’t have to, Taehyung, I-”

 

“It’s no problem, honestly, and I know where the mini bar is, so…”

 

[There is a series of rustling sounds followed by a clatter, as Taehyung removes his headphones and places them down on the table. Then he gets out of his chair to move across the room, and camera A picks him up as he passes behind the leather sofa. The young man’s white tee-shirt is visible, as is most of his upper body and his too-long mop of sandy blond hair, until he disappears out of sight.]

 

“Just take a couple of minutes to rest your throat. You’ve been talking for quite some time, Jimin, you deserve a little breather.”

 

“Thank you, I know that I don’t have to rush, but now that I’ve started talking, it’s all coming out. You know?”

 

[Whilst Jimin studies Hoseok for several seconds, there is a series of clattering and clinking sounds as Taehyung roots around the mini bar.]

 

“I was scared that I’d start this interview and suddenly find myself going blank, that the words just wouldn’t come out right. But, um, Yoongi really helped me meditate on the kinda things that are important enough to mention in the interview, and we must’ve talked for hours just last night going over the little details.”

 

“It’s fantastic knowing that you did that, Jimin; that you’re so dedicated to setting the story straight that you both took the time to reflect on not only the important things, but the details too.”

 

[Taehyung appears roughly ten seconds later with a glass bottle in hand. When he leans over the sofa to hold it out to Jimin, a quick flash of what looks like a red hair scarf is visible knotted around his brow so that his parted hair falls over it neatly.]

 

“Thank you.”

 

[Jimin accepts the bottle of water from Taehyung, the metal cap already popped free for him so that he can pour some of it into an empty glass on the table. The sound of it hitting the bottom of the glass is detected by his microphone: a soft liquid splash.]

 

“Sorry it’s not chamomile and honey tea, but it’s the best I could do, Park.”

 

[Taehyung’s joke makes him laugh as he places the half-empty bottle aside on the table.]

 

“You know, that’s not his only drink of choice for sore throats. There’s more.”

 

“Really, what else does he recommend, huh? I should take notes.”

 

“Oh, Taehyung, he’s got about a million different types of drinks. Pomegranate tea and juices, ginger and honey, lemon and honey, even chilli pepper. Personally, I like chamomile and honey tea the most, it’s the nicest tasting, and it’s Yoongi’s favourite too.”

 

[Jimin lifts his glass with a slight smile before taking a sip of the water. After swallowing it, he sticks his tongue out to wet his lips, his gaze lifting to quickly look between the two other men.]

 

“Am I looking OK on camera? I don’t look too stiff or anything, do I?”

 

“Nope, you’re good on audio and the feed. You fiddle a lot when you talk, Park, but it’s mostly your rings, so, at least you don’t obscure your face. D-boy though, that nose thing you mentioned? How he always rubs at his nose when he’s talking? Goddamn, that’d annoy me so much during an interview.”

 

“Ha, he doesn’t do it during interviews that much. He much prefers humming instead. One time, I swear that he hummed for ten seconds straight trying to think of something to say, and then he ended up saying, like, three words.”

 

[This remark makes the two other men laugh, and Jimin’s lips quirk at the corners for a second as he stares at his glass of water.]

 

“He’s a lot better with words than me, believe me. He probably should’ve done this interview but, he thought that I was our best option. With the backing of my fans behind the both of us, you know, and for the sake of our image to the press? So, I promised to do it, and I’m trying my fucking hardest to do him proud. Am I doing OK so far, Hoseok?”

 

“Are you doing OK? Of course you are, Jimin, I can see that you really prepared for this interview. So, just resume talking and answering like you’ve done so so far, and this interview is going to go fantastically. I’ve actually got a couple of things to talk to you about already, I was jotting down prompts the entire time. See?”

 

[There is a rustling sound as Hoseok presumably reveals his interview papers to Jimin, which are no doubt covered in scrawled annotations wherever there is a hint of space. The singer eyes them for two seconds and makes an interested sound before taking another sip of water.]

 

“OK, we can continue the interview. I think that I’m ready.”

 

[Jimin keeps his glass in hand rather than place it down on the table, lifting his free hand to rake his hair back off his brow as he settles back against the sofa more comfortably. He quickly glances between the three cameras before settling his gaze on Hoseok.]

 

“What I find rather interesting is the fact that you and D-boy actually met prior to the original tweet of you together in Flow. I was completely unaware of this, because in your Dazed & Confused interview, D-boy said - and I quote - “we met in a hip hop club one night and it took off pretty much from there”. Now, when this is taken into consideration with the tweet of you both together at the club, one would assume that that was actually the first night that you met. But that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, you had both met before ‘feeling your body’ had even been released, which highly interesting.”

 

“Well, we obviously first saw each other in the 7-Eleven but we never spoke properly, so, D-boy decided to just say that we met at Flow. It wasn’t even the night of the tweet that we first bumped into each other in the club, but I think that most fans assume that it was.”

 

“Yes, I think that fans might find this fact surprising. I too had wrongly assumed that to be the case. The first meeting in the convenience store was just a quick thing, but I think that the fact you can recall it so vividly, says that it left a big impression on you. Do you think that it did, Jimin?”

 

“Of course it did. A guy like D-boy walking into a store like that, wearing a 10.Deep jacket and then buying a pink cat notebook? That’s the kinda thing that you remember, yeah?”

 

[This joke makes Hoseok and Taehyung laugh, and Jimin shifts on the sofa to cock his elbows on his thighs, his hands dangling between his widespread knees. Even in this position, he is still playing with his thumb and finger rings out of habit.]

 

“No, I guess it was that, the Daegu accent, and the friendliness - it all just stuck in my mind, and it just kinda solidified when I bumped into him at Flow the following night. If you’ve ever met D-boy, you’ll know what I mean, there’s just something about him that’s hard to put into words.”

 

“He has, by all accounts, a very strong presence on and offstage.”

 

“He does, yeah.”

 

[Hoseok pauses for a moment rather than ask another question, letting the hotel room fall silent before shifting in his seat.]

 

“Taehyung, insert the photographs during that part of the interview, yes?”

 

“Huh?”

 

[There is a rustling sound as Taehyung moves to pull the headphones off, so that he can talk to Hoseok properly.]

 

“When Jimin’s talking about his Twitter, insert screenshots of the photographs for the viewers to see. I think that it would help add dimension to his account, right?”

 

“Uhuh, yeah, sure thing.”

 

“Can we take a moment to talk about the photographs, if you don’t mind, Jimin? I think that a little bit of commentary would be nice, it could play over the images as they show up.”

 

“OK. The original tweets? The ones that me and D-boy posted that night?”

 

“Yes, those exact ones. Your original display picture was a photograph taken by D-boy, and you posted several of those photographs in your very first tweet. D-boy has a very good eye, I think, because it was a nice photograph.”

 

“Thank you. Um, I still find it pretty funny that he had to help me find a way to pose for that photo. I’m not shy around cameras at all, but I felt pretty embarrassed when he was the one taking photographs of me. So, I did the pose, this exact one, and-

 

[Jimin lifts one hand to rake his hair back off his brow, holding it in place for a moment as he glances in the general direction of camera C. His expression is one that could be described as smouldering, from his heavy-lidded eyes to his full and pouted lips. He holds the pose for three seconds before dropping his hand again with a soft laugh.]

 

“D-boy said that that’s my ‘tough guy pose’, yeah? That’s what he labelled it, because he said that I do it whenever I wanna look tough. I told him that I never wanna look tough, but he doesn’t believe me. I don’t need to play that ‘macho man’ act that all of those rappers pull, I’ve got nothing to prove.”

 

“Do you have a nickname for his pose, his rather infamous one of choice?”

 

“Oh, you mean this one?”

 

[Jimin jabs his tongue against his inner cheek without a hint of embarrassment, his lips falling slack as he raises one of his thick eyebrows. It is an enticing expression, both challenging and erotic.]

 

“Yeah, I call it the ‘cocky arsehole pose’, but…um, a lot of rappers have other things to say about it, as you can imagine.”

 

“In your tweet, the ‘cocky arsehole pose’ was nowhere in sight, for we actually got a bit of a smile in that shot.”

 

“I know, can you believe that? He actually smiled, on a Twitter photo. It might just have been the first one on his account that wasn’t the lower half of his face or a quick hint of his nose in the very corner of a shot that someone else took.”

 

[The smile on Jimin’s face looks rather proud, as if this fact pleases him. Then he lifts his glass to take another quick sip of water and places it down on the table.]

 

“Then, there’s the tweet that D-boy himself posted, and I think that we can all agree that this is a really nice photograph. The angle is good, you’re both close together, and it looks friendly, Jimin. It looks like a photograph taken between friends - and now that we all know that you had already serenaded him outside of the club, it-”

 

[Jimin lets out a sudden frothy burst of laughter at this, something close to giggles, and his eyes crinkle deeply at the corners in a sign of genuine amusement.]

 

“Ah! Serenaded?! Seriously?!”

 

“Was it a serenade? Or was I just jumping the gun there, Jimin?”

 

“A serenade, hmm, maybe not that, but I was trying to impress him a lot. So, I guess that you could call it that, yeah.”

 

“Well, now that we know that you were friendly before taking the photograph, it makes perfect sense that you both look so comfortable in it.”

 

“It’s, um, it’s a nice shot, right?”

 

[Jimin laughs softly at this, reaching up to give his dangling right earring a little tug. It catches the light, and camera A picks up just enough detail to reveal that it is a thin chain with a little silver letter D on it. The other earring, though not revealed, is presumably a letter B.]

 

“I had that photo as my lockscreen for quite a long time, until I got a better photo of D-boy, and then a better one, and a better one - basically, it’s always changing, but that one was the first.”

 

“Oh, really? Could we get a little flash of that lockscreen right now, Jimin?”

 

[Jimin reaches into his sweatshirt pocket so that he can retrieve his phone, not even showing a hint of discomfort at the suggestion. He moves to hold the iPhone in front of camera A, and the screen is blurry for a moment before it focuses on the device.]

 

“Can you see it?”

 

[On Jimin’s iPhone screen, there is a photograph of D-boy. Though his face isn’t fully visible in it, his messy black hair, pierced ears, and hint of his lower face is identifiable enough. He has his head held low because he is looking down at a kitten that is in his hand, a tiny ball of black fluff that was in the midst of mewling at him when the photograph was taken. Jimin holds it in place for a moment before moving to show the screen to Hoseok, and the other man makes a soft appreciative sound.]

 

“Oh, how lovely.”

 

[Jimin moves to sit back down on the sofa, shoving his phone into his pocket again.]

 

“D-boy has a much better eye for photography than I do, but I think that that’s a nice shot. He’s so much better than me though, so, all of my display pictures have been photos that he’s taken of me.”

 

“Every single one?”

 

“Uhuh, I like them more than my professional shots, which I use as headers, so, I get him to take them for me. Like you said, he’s got a good eye.”

 

“Especially when it comes to you, it seems.”

 

[Jimin cocks his elbows on his thighs again, assuming his comfortable slouched position, and he drops his head for a moment to try and disguise his soft smile.]

 

“…Yeah, especially then.”

 

“The fact that D-boy helped you create your account that night, I think that says a lot about him; don’t you?”

 

“I do.”

 

“What exactly do you think that it says about him, Jimin?”

 

“It shows that he’s kind and considerate, even if it was just a small and simple thing. Killuh didn’t ask me about my Twitter, he didn’t offer assistance or to promote me like D-boy did, though he did respond to the mentions that D-boy dropped, so, at least he did that. Not that that was much though.”

 

“So, would you say that his kindness was something that helped influence your decision in regards to the track that he wanted you to feature on? Or, was it something else?”

 

“I think that it was a mixture of things. Sure, he was kind to me, but kindness isn’t everything. Having seen D-boy perform, having looked at his Twitter and shit, I guess that that helped sway my decision too and…well, I’d be lying if I denied that there was a little bit of attraction there back then too - but only a little hint. Nothing too strong, you know, but more than just a…a casual interest. Yeah?”

 

“OK, we’ll come back to D-boy and his track soon. For now, I think that we need to finish talking about that first dizzying week of chart success, Jimin.”

 

“Sure we do; what a week, huh?”

 

“When D-boy proposed that you make a song together, you had yet to get your first pay cheque for featuring on ‘feeling your body’, correct?”

 

“I hadn’t no, I’d been a little confused about that kinda stuff back then. I didn’t really understand record labels or anything at that point, not until D-boy actually taught me to read contracts right and understand the terminology. I just agreed to do the track with Killuh and signed the papers and, um, expected that that was that and it’d be great. The money would just roll in and I’d, I don’t know, maybe be able to buy something nice with it.”

 

[Jimin grins at Hoseok and glances over at Taehyung for two seconds, still playing with his thumb ring in that habit of his.]

 

“Oh, Jimin, that was very reckless of you.”

 

“I know, it was downright the stupidest thing that I’ve ever done in my whole life. I took a huge risk on being ripped off for my work and receiving a pittance, but luckily for me, it worked out in my favour. I wasn’t their artist, so, the company…um, Hellfire Trax? They couldn’t pay me an advance for a feature, and because Killuh was already on an exclusive one-year starter contract with them, his contract presumably worked in my favour. If so, I’d like to personally thank him for that.”

 

[There is a five seconds pause in the interview, and Jimin patiently waits for Hoseok to break the silence.]

 

“You want to thank Killuh? There’s a lot of hostilities going on the scene right now, and Killuh has arguably orchestrated a lot of the hate aimed at you and D-boy. Yet, you still want to thank him, Jimin?”

 

“Yeah, I…listen-”

 

[Jimin shifts on the sofa so that he can get closer to camera A, so that his face is clearly in the frame and he can look at it deeply.]

 

“Killuh, I don’t know if you’re even gonna watch this interview, but I still wanna thank you for the feature on that track, and for not ripping me off. I had no legal protection for myself, I had no company to represent me back then, but you and your company were fair to me. I won’t thank you for anything else, even if my life depended on it, but I’ll thank you for the introduction into the industry.”

 

[Jimin moves to sit back on the sofa, spreading his thighs wide comfortably and placing his hands in his lap.]

 

“So, when D-boy presented me with an offer to record together, at that point, the song had been in the top ten on various music charts for just under…a week? For an underground rapper that no one really knew about, that was an amazing feat. It still is. It’s even more amazing when it entered the US world music and hot tracks charts the following week, for both iTunes and Billboard. The video, it was breaching a million views by that point, but I think that we owe that to the model who starred in the video: Kim Areum, who is very beautiful and looks very good dancing around in nothing but her underwear.”

 

[Jimin gives camera A a brief and knowing smile.]

 

“My, um, my first payment finally rolled in three weeks after the single was released. It was…560,000 won, something in that range, which was a ridiculous amount of money for me to get from a feature back then. I think that when I opened the letter from the company and saw it, I probably cried or screamed or something…and then I opened my banking app to check that it was in my account.”

 

[At this remark, the three men laugh heartily, and Jimin reaches up to fiddle with his earring as he shifts on the sofa. The leather creaks under his weight as he settles down comfortably.]

 

“Sadly, it wasn’t in my account, it took three days to process. But, when I finally saw my account with that much cash in it, I felt proud, you know? I felt like I had done something right. For the first time in my attempts at making music - I’d nailed a track. It was then that I knew that I could do this, that I could actually make music, and it was just the greatest fucking feeling in the world.”

 

“560,000 won is a lot of money to see on your first pay cheque for a feature Jimin. But it wasn’t the only one that you received, nor was it the best. I believe that, when the song appeared on the international charts, and the streaming and YouTube views were all added together, you were receiving pay cheques that were double, almost triple that amount over the following several months.”

 

“I was, the song was popular last year, especially in clubs and bars. The last payment that I got for that song was last month. It rolled in after about…four months of accumulation, and it was 567,300 or so. So, in total, I’ve made over 8 million won on a track that I sang on for maybe a minute. I didn’t write it, I didn’t compose or produce, I sang a hook several times and moaned ad-libs, and I netted 8.5 million won. That’s just a tiny fraction of the amount that Killuh and his company made from the single, of course, but it’s the kinda money that kept me afloat for quite some time. It’s because it was playing in clubs all over the country for the best part of a month nonstop, and all of those plays brought in a great chunk of cash.”

 

“It’s amazing, Jimin, it’s truly amazing, and you worked hard to earn that money.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Speaking of hard work, that was right around the time that Moon Media signed you on a development deal; correct? You mentioned it briefly earlier.”

 

“Uhuh, we were still working out the final arrangements on the contract, but I was pretty much signed to them at that point in all but legally binding paper. I had faith that the feature with Andre was going to go well, and so did the company, otherwise they wouldn’t have dangled the offer in front of me so eagerly.”

 

“OK, before we move past this and focus on the next chapter of your story, I think that we need to discuss Killuh more, because he’s going to disappear from your life for a little while. Are you fine with talking about him, Jimin?”

 

“Hit me, I’m more than willing to talk to you about him. After what he’s said about me and D-boy, I’m holding no punches. Killuh’s not the only guy that I’m gonna drag down with me. Murda Crew, D-Town - D-boy’s old crew; I’m not holding back a single thing, Hoseok.”

 

[Jimin’s expression is confident, not a hint of discomfort or worry on his features. He looks between the two men for three seconds, before glancing down at camera A.]

 

“Are you claiming that Killuh had drugs in the recording studio during your session, Jimin? You mentioned the fact that he looked to be high in the several instances that you were in his company, and that you found joints in the studio during your sessions.”

 

“I’m not claiming, I’m telling the truth and I’ve got proof. He’s been busted on marijuana possession charges before, four years ago, though the fact that his girlfriend had been carrying it at the time got him off lightly. He let her take the heat, but the fact that they were both minors resulted in a misdemeanor charge and a light fine.”

 

[Jimin lifts his eyebrows at this, shrugging softly in a way that shows a total lack of concern.]

 

“Aren’t you worried that Killuh, and Murda Crew, along with the rest of the scene, are going to label you ‘a snitch’ for publicly talking about this, Jimin?”

 

“If Killuh wants to play dirty, I’ll play dirty. If I’m a snitch for revealing that, then he snitched first by being one of several rappers involved in the online scheme to reveal mine and D-boy’s private lives to the public and to other rappers through his Twitter account.”

 

“I couldn’t have said it better myself, Jimin.”

 

“Hellfire Trax are gonna take the heat for this one too, when it comes out that their artist had previous charges for drug possession and usage, and that their building was used for the consumption of drugs. I think that Killuh’s gonna find his career dead and buried the moment that his contract expires in three months time.”

 

[Jimin does not smile at the camera, presumably because he does not want to look smug. But there is something on his expression that looks like gratification at last, something that he has likely wanted to feel for quite some time.]

 

“OK, so, to recount: you featured on a track with Killuh, which charted on domestic and foreign charts for the best part of a month, and have so far netted 8.5 million or so won from this feature. As a result of this small success, Moon Media signed you on your very first contract, a development deal, and through your visits to the hip hop club, Flow, you met D-boy and began a friendship that was rooted in a mutual interest to collaborate on a track together in the future.”

 

[Jimin nods at this, grabbing his glass of water from the table to sip at it.]

 

“Of course, this was just the start of your rather dizzying rise to popularity, Jimin, because you were chosen to feature on a single with your self-proclaimed idol and vocal inspiration - Andre. Though there has been no official statement from him on this ongoing matter, for obvious professional reasons, can I ask if has he been in contact with either you or D-boy? Or are you unable to comment on the matter?”

 

“He’s been in contact with us personally, and he’s been a great source of support for the both of us. He gave me permission to talk about him during this interview.”

 

“The single was, domestically, a massive hit, Jimin. Internationally, it got a lot of attention too, because Andre often sings English lyrics, and cites a great many American artists as his source of musical inspiration. Personally, I downloaded the song.”

 

[Hoseok admits before laughing, making both Jimin and Taehyung laugh heartily at his candid confession.]

 

“I imagine that it must have been very exciting for you, Jimin, getting to sing with your idol like that.”

 

“It was, yeah, it was…um, I think that it was one of the best periods of my life - getting to sing with Andre and slowly getting to know D-boy and starting to work on a track with him. 2016 was such a good year for me…for us.”

 

[Jimin looks off across the hotel room at this for an extended moment, his expression wistful and his eyes glistening. Almost thirty seconds pass before he drops his head and reaches up to roughly rub at his nose. Then he nods vigorously and glances back up at Hoseok.]

 

“Yeah, it was a great time for me, and for D-boy too. It was so strange, going from nights at hip hop clubs over and over to…to recording with my idol and developing myself as an actual musician. Under D-boy’s guidance, of course, and Andre’s too. They both taught me a lot of a things, as did Outsider Network.”

 

“OK, so, let’s talk about the night that you and D-boy left Flow together; that rather hopeful night, I might add.”

 

“Hmm, yeah, we were real hopeful that night.”

 

[Jimin’s lips curl up at the corners at this, forming a rather nostalgic-looking smile, and he nods softly so that his earrings twinkle in the dim lighting.]

 

“We were hoping to…I don’t know, to just strike gold that night, like, we would be able to just make a track together so easily. That didn’t happen, obviously. It was a long process of experimenting with sounds and learning about each other musically and personally. But that was actually for the best in the end, because it changed me as an artist, and a person…”

 

 

 

 

 

The air outside on the streets was cooler than it had been earlier, Jimin noted, and he was thankful for the fact that he was wearing his parka right now. The late spring might just be making way for the early summer, but tonight it was rather brisk. A breeze blew the usual stray locks of hair back off his brow as he turned his head to watch the other man emerging from the club stairwell.

 

Yoongi instinctively shuddered at the gust of cool air, bringing his shoulders up high as he shoved his hands deep into his jacket pockets to keep them warm. His face scrunched up in a strangely endearing way as he did so, especially when his lips pouted out for a moment before he relaxed.

 

“Mmm, shit, I just realised that we gotta walk to the subway…” he muttered, as he ran his eyes over the opposite street and then turned to look at him.

 

“The quicker that we walk, the faster that we get back to your apartment,” Jimin remarked with a grin.

 

“Now I’m gonna run,” Yoongi joked, shooting him his own rather tipsy smile as they started walking down the street. “What district d’you live in, huh? How far are you travelling coming here every night?”

 

“Me? I live in Dongdaemun-gu, so, it’s not too far,” Jimin replied, before quickly adding. “It’s home to many markets and shopping malls that are open all night long. What about you?”

 

“Jongno-gu - the actual lifeblood of this country. There mightn’t be many shopping malls, but there’s so many palaces and-”

 

Yoongi stopped talking for a moment, stumbling forward with a soft grunt because he had accidentally snagged his sneaker on a slightly crooked paving slab. The jutting edge of concrete had tripped him up, and he was going to fall right on his face if he didn’t grab hold of him and tug him back.

 

“Whoa,” Jimin exclaimed as he reached over to grab at Yoongi’s wrist, saving him from a nasty stumble over the paving flag.

 

Yoongi surprised him for a moment, because he actually grabbed hold of his hand and squeezed it hard, almost as if he was going to take hold of it. Jimin even felt his fingers going to entwine themselves between his fingers, his palm warm and slightly dry against his own. But then the other man seemed to realise what he was doing, and he let go of his hand again with a muttered thanks.

 

“That was close, right?” Jimin said in a soft voice, studying his face to see that his cheeks looked rather flushed. It was hard telling if it was the result of the single somaek that he had had, or if it was an embarrassed flush from almost having an accident.

 

“Ha, I need to look where I’m going,” Yoongi mumbled before dropping his head to stare at the pavement. “What was I talking about?”

 

“About Jongno-gu,” he replied as they crossed a small road and went onto the next street. “You were telling me about the palaces.”

 

“Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of culture, art and history there, so, I like it,” Yoongi finished, shoving his hand back into his pocket. “When I moved here from Daegu, I knew that I’d to settle down somewhere like Jongno-gu, ‘cos I needed that atmosphere all around me.”

 

“When exactly did you move up here to Seoul, Yoongi?”

 

“2013, I was nineteen at the time,” he replied, hiccuping hard. That meant that he was twenty-two already, or would be at some point in the year. “I was a year into university and determined to piss my dad off as hard as I could, so, I dropped it and ran off. I mean, I tried to be a student, but it just ain’t for me. Too…too much spite and unneeded competition between kids that just wanted a good start in life. I’d call it a zoo, but it was more like a, uh, a gladiator pit. Y’know? Fighting to the death for the sake of a sheet of acceptance paper? Studying so hard you need a drip and fucking up your brain with so much useless junk you can’t even remember your own name? Yeah, that ain’t for me, Jimin. What about you, huh? When’d you move up here, ‘cos I know a Busan accent when I hear one.”

 

“I moved up here back in 2008, I was thirteen at the time,” Jimin explained, also revealing his age to Yoongi - twenty, but to be twenty-one later in the year. “I never went to university after high school, I’m still yet to enroll. Maybe one day? I don’t know, I don’t know how I feel about it either.”

 

“It’s weird, right? A part of y’knows just how fucked up the system is and wants to refuse to be a part of it, but another part, a…a more primal part deep down inside of you, that part wants to join the status quo and follow along just like everyone else,” Yoongi mumbled as he sniffed hard and pulled a hand free from his jacket to tug down on his beanie hat. “It’s fucking hardwired into our brains now: work hard, get paid, don’t sleep, don’t speak, conform, repeat.”

 

“Is that a lyric of yours, Yoongi?” Jimin half-asked, half-joked.

 

“No, but I gotta remember that shit,” Yoongi remarked, which made them both snort laughter. “So yeah, Jongno-gu - it’s a nice place, Jimin, a real nice place. I feel like my soul’s getting revitalised whenever I see those old palaces. I can’t explain it, but it feels good being surrounded by history and thinking that one day, I might make my own history too; y’know?”

 

“Yeah, I saw a lot of photos of galleries and stuff on your Twitter, ” Jimin said as they walked along the next street. “I found it pretty funny how you posted stuff like that, compared to guys like Killuh, but it’s nice. I think it’s nice.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

Jimin hummed at this rather than speak, running his gaze along the street to see that there were dozens of people outside on the sidewalks like usual.

 

With all of the bars and clubs on this one block, it made sense that so many people were out smoking and drinking. They had to stick close to the edge of the curb because of this, just to not get caught up in the small crowds of strangers. Dozens of voices floated on the air around them, little hints of conversation that varied from happy chatter to brewing arguments hitting their ears, but he didn’t really pay enough attention to catch more than a few words here and there.

 

Jimin wondered if Yoongi would expand on this statement, maybe ask him why he thought that it was nice that he was different, but he didn’t do so. It seemed like he had slipped into one of his long bouts of contemplative silence for the time being, but he didn’t really mind at all. At least when Yoongi did speak, he said things that were worth listening to, things that were deep or interesting, rather than just the usual bullshit that Jimin had to listen to whenever he was talking to rappers in various clubs.

 

Upon reaching the subway entrance several minutes later, they had to go down the entrance steps to get inside of the system. Jimin couldn’t help but reach out to take hold of his elbow, just in case Yoongi stumbled on the stairs like he had earlier. The other man didn’t seem to mind at all, for he just let him hold onto his upper arm until they were back on solid ground again.

 

Jimin stopped in front of the subway map for a moment, eyeing the different coloured lines as he tried to locate the one - or ones - that they would need to take to get to the other district. Before he could do so, Yoongi shifted to tap at the board with his fingers, catching him by surprise.

 

“Um, it’s the Bundang Line to Wangsimni Station, and then we gotta jump the Line 5 one to Gwanghwamun Station,” Yoongi mumbled as he gestured at the two coloured lines and then rubbed at his nose roughly. “Two trains, sorry.”

 

“It’s fine, but we need to hurry up and get to the platform, Yoongi, it’s about to arrive any second from now.”

 

Jimin retrieved his card just like Yoongi did, quickly scanning it over the machine to get through the ticket gate so that they could enter the main-area. He had to follow the other man through the packed underground, once more letting Yoongi hold onto his wrist to save them from being separated from each other in the press of fast moving bodies that flooded the entire system at all hours.

 

They only had to wait for a minute for the Bundang train to arrive at the station, the bright yellow carriages coming to a stop in front of them. As soon as several people had exited the carriage, they entered to see that there were no available seats left, and so Yoongi moved to get in the far corner of the carriage so that they could stand out of the way and maybe even talk if they were quiet about it.

 

Jimin grabbed hold of the overhead handle, and a moment later, the doors shut and the train started rolling forward with a series of deep rumbles and high-pitched creaks and screeches. The movement made him shift ever so slightly to the side, and so he anchored himself better so save himself from stumbling.

 

When the carriage shuddered too hard and the floor vibrated under their feet a moment later, however, Yoongi stumbled slightly even when he was holding onto the overhead handle.

 

“Careful,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, reaching over to snag hold of his waist and tug him back before he staggered across the aisle and lost his grip on the handle.

 

Yoongi’s jacket was warm against his palm, the black polyester rustling softly as he kept his hand in place for a moment just to keep him steady. At least until he gave him a look that told him to remove it, or shrugged his hand free because he was fine, that was. But, after several seconds, Yoongi did neither of those things, much to Jimin’s surprise. He didn’t even seem to care that his hand was on his waist, for he either appreciated the momentary support, or he didn’t mind the physical contact between them.

 

“It’s that stupid somaek you bought me,” Yoongi joked back in a whisper, giving him a brief grin before he dropped his gaze to stare at their shoes. “I should never touch soju, Jimin, I’m a fucking lightweight and I ain’t afraid to admit it.”

 

“You’re not drunk, Yoongi,” Jimin replied with his own brief smile. “You’ve just got no balance, and you’re clearly not a dancer.”

 

“Are you?”

 

“Yeah, I used to do ballet as a kid, and then I progressed onto modern dance as a teenager,” Jimin explained. “I haven’t studied it in a couple of years, but I still like to go to a studio every week or so and take part in classes to stay in shape.”

 

“Would you believe me if I told you that I used to b-boy? ‘Cos, I did,” Yoongi said, swallowing a hiccup with a grimace as he thumped his fist against his chest. “Urgh, that somaek wants to come back for another taste and I don’t…don’t want that.”

 

“You used to b-boy, huh?” Jimin asked, sparing a quick glance across the carriage just to make sure that no one was glaring at them for talking, even when they were whispering to themselves. “Seriously? Or are you just joking around?”

 

“Nope, used to b-boy back down in Daegu,” he explained with a head shake, closing his eyes as he did so. “Mmm, D-boy was a b-boy.”

 

Jimin tried to not laugh at this, but it was rather hard all things considered. He still wasn’t entirely certain that Yoongi was being honest with him, but the older man had a rather serene expression on his face as he rocked from side to side with the vibrating carriage; his eyes closed and his lips softly moving before he stuck his tongue out to wet them.

 

“Used to dance in Dalseong Park, in this little square by a pavilion. Me and a bunch of kids, kinda my friends - I dunno, never really stuck to ‘em like I was hoping I would; y’know? Christ, there was that dipshit, Taeguk; fell through a patch of ice when he was messing around on a lake once and almost died. That’s…that’s a weird memory - what was I talking about, huh?”

 

“About how you used to b-boy,” Jimin replied, seeing a sudden look of confusion on his face before the moment passed.

 

“Oh yeah, yeah, I used to, but I can’t dance anymore,” Yoongi muttered, dropping his head again. “I used to do a lot of things that I can’t do anymore, life’s funny like that; right?”

 

“Like I said, I used to dance too,” he admitted in a quiet voice, still holding onto Yoongi’s waist to keep him steady. “I really wanted to be a dancer when I was a kid. I liked singing too back then, but dancing was more important to me. But times change, right?”

 

Yoongi hummed in agreement at this, turning his head to glance at him. In the harsh white lighting of the carriage interior, he could see the other man’s face as clearly as he had in the convenience store. His eyes were a little glassy from the alcohol, which in turn were set into his lightly bruised eye sockets. He must have been busy working for the past two days, judging from his eyes, and his slightly chapped lips that he had no doubt been nibbling on between cigarettes.

 

Yoongi looked like he was going to say something to him, for he was doing that thing that he had observed him doing whenever they had been talking - glancing between his eyes and his mouth as he wet his own lips and fiddled with his beanie hat.

 

“Hmm?” Jimin hummed softly, dragging his gaze away to quickly look at the other passengers before looking back at him. “What’s on your mind, huh?”

 

“Nothing, it’s nothing,” Yoongi mumbled, shaking his head softly as he stared out of the dark carriage windows.

 

Yet, for the duration of the ride, Jimin could sense that the rapper kept looking at him, albeit much more discreetly. He just kept his own gaze up on the line map for the sake of it, listening to the announcement stops over the system by the usual soft-spoken female voice, and he waited to see if Yoongi would break his silence. The other man didn’t, for he seemed to have reverted right back to his silent musings for the duration of the ride.

 

It took half an hour of riding on the two trains, and a further ten minutes of walking through the packed subways and waiting on the platforms, until they were finally in Jongno-gu.

 

Jimin had no choice but to follow Yoongi down the streets because he had no clue where the other man lived. Luckily for them both, his apartment block was just a brief walk away from the station, and so they reached it without the other man taking a wrong turn in his tipsy state and getting them both lost.

 

The block was only small rather than a towering building, and Jimin followed him inside of it after he had unlocked the entrance door with a passcode and then headed straight into the lift. The ground-floor interior looked rather bare of decoration save for a small desk and a potted plant, and it reminded him of his own apartment block in a strange way.

 

Yoongi hit the sixth floor button and sagged back against the lift carriage wall, reaching up with one hand to rub at his face with a series of soft grumbles.

 

When the lift finally stopped a minute later and they exited the carriage, Yoongi pulled his phone free so that he could use the torch to illuminate the dark hallway. Then he reached inside of his front jeans pocket to slip out a keycard as they came to a stop in front of his apartment room.

 

Yoongi paused in the act of unlocking his door, glancing over at him as he did so. In the harsh lighting of his phone screen, Jimin noticed that his expression had turned blank, his brow knitted deeply until his thick eyebrows were touching.

 

“Are you OK?” he asked, hearing the lock beeping softly in response to the card.

 

“I, uh, I’m just tryna remember if my apartment’s a fucking mess right now or…a big fucking mess.”

 

This mumble made Jimin laugh softly under his breath, and Yoongi moved to push his door open and hit the light switch on the wall. The interior flooded with a dim orange-tinged light, and he quickly scanned it before coming to the conclusion that it was in an acceptable state for guests. So, he stepped inside and gestured that he join him.

 

Jimin did so, shutting the door behind him and hearing the lock clicking loudly in the silence of the apartment block.

 

The first thing that he noticed when he entered was that there was a sofa directly facing the door, a rather small and aged sofa, and in front of it there was a low coffee table. The main-area was split into two section, a sitting-area and a kitchen-area. There were no other items of furniture present in the sitting-area, save for the single sofa and low coffee table, but at least the white walls were not completely naked of decoration.

 

To his right, there was a small kitchen-area that consisted of a stretch of counter with a kettle, a microwave, a rice cooker, and a tiny stove top. There was no oven in sight, and the refrigerator was also pretty small. Above the counter, there were several cupboards, and hanging hooks on which several large mugs were currently dangling.

 

To his left, there were two doors that were no doubt his bathroom and his bedroom, and he assumed that both of these rooms were going to be as small as the kitchen-area.

 

When he glanced back at Yoongi, he saw that he was in the act of removing his sneakers, hunkered down on one knee as he tugged at the laces. It took him a moment to get them off and then he straightened up again.

 

So, Jimin hunkered down and respectfully removed his own boots too. After pulling them free, he placed them on the slight shoe rack beside the door and dusted his hands off. There was no sight of house slippers, never mind guest slippers, and so he would just need to walk around in his socks instead.

 

“Uh…I should probably tidy this place up, just gimme a sec,” Yoongi muttered, hastily crossing the room to start grabbing at things that had been left on the table and sofa. “Shit, I look like a pig right now, living in my own filth.”

 

“It’s…um, a little messy, but everyone’s apartments are messy, Yoongi,” Jimin explained, watching him grabbing various empty cans that had once held convenience store iced coffee, and bottles of beer that still had dregs in them judging from the soft sloshing sound as he carried them over to his kitchen counter. “I’m not your parents, you don’t need to clean up for me.”

 

“Yeah, I know, but if I don’t do it, I’ll be buried in shit in a week,” Yoongi argued, emptying the dregs down the sink so that he could leave the bottles to the side. Then he started crushing the cans, presumably for the sake of recycling. “I’m actually a tidy person, I mean, I like tidiness but I get-” the can crunched as he flattened it with his palm, “carried away, sometimes, and I’m so lost in my music that I don’t even realise how messy the place is.”

 

Jimin made a noise at this to show him that he was listening to him, his eyes running over the rest of the apartment room.

 

There were several prints stuck on walls, and he recognised two of the faces on them: Tony Montana, with his machine gun ablazing and his wild eyes and snarl; and Tupac, completely juxtaposed against him because of his laughing happy face, with his trademark bandana knotted around his head. There was another one emblazoned with various English words in loud and colourful graffiti print, and parental advisory content warnings, and he studied the blinding neon yellow ‘fight the power!’ slogan, before glancing back over at the other man.

 

Jimin wondered if there were any personal photographs, as opposed to the prints on his walls, and so he gave the room another quick sweep. He noticed that there was a small display table just beside the door, on which there was a single framed photograph, and a quick look at it showed him a much younger and happier-looking Yoongi, with his arms tossed around the neck of a woman that could only be his mother. She had the same round face and wide cheekbones, and a similar smile too, and it was a beautiful snapshot.

 

Jimin saw a lot of takeaway food fliers stacked beside the photo frame, which Yoongi clearly used often. He had even circled several options with a marker pen, which were clearly his favourite dishes, for ease of ordering on the phone. As he picked one up to quickly scan it, naengmyeon was the first thing that he noticed, the sight making him smile to himself as he glanced over at Yoongi. The other man was still crushing his cans, struggling to do so judging from his scrunched-up face, but he was almost finished with the challenge.

 

“You used to b-boy and you like naengmyeon,” Jimin remarked as he waved the flier at him. “I think that I figured out why you can’t dance anymore.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi asked, as he started dropping the rubbish into a plastic convenience store bag. “How come?”

 

“Yoongi, you’re sixty years old,” he retorted sharply, which made the rapper groan loudly. “You poor old man.”

 

Yoongi tied the plastic bag handles together and left it by the small refrigerator, so that he could dispose of the rubbish in the morning. He lingered by the kitchen-area for a moment, almost as if he was thinking something over, and then he reached into his pocket to pull his box of cigarettes free and thumbed it open. He pulled a stick out with his teeth, hastily lighting it and taking a quick inhale to get it to smoulder.

 

“Mmm,” he mumbled under his breath, reaching up to rub at his eyes roughly as he took several drags off the cigarette. Then he pulled it free to wet his lips, before shoving it back in place to carry on smoking it.

 

“You want one, huh?” Yoongi asked around the stick, holding the box out in offering to him as he crossed the apartment room.

 

“I’m not supposed to smoke, my throat,” Jimin explained, gesturing at said throat for emphasis. “I don’t have the strongest throat to begin with, and smoke can really irritate it.”

 

“Oh, shit, sorry,” Yoongi mumbled, taking a deep drag on the cigarette before lifting it to his face and pinching it out.

 

Jimin watched him squeezing the ash off the end of the cigarette, stubbing the smouldering end out without crushing the still smokeable remains so that he could slip it behind his ear.

 

The entire reaction revealed to Jimin that Yoongi wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of wasting his cigarettes, which could have been a sign of him being frugal. When he spared a quick glance at the kitchen-area across the room, he wondered if he would find the cupboards empty and the refrigerator almost bare of goods. He felt rather cruel for assuming, but it wasn’t like he was doing so in a malicious way, rather just a simple observation. After all, his own kitchen was hardly stocked with goods.

 

Yoongi moved to cross the apartment room so that he could reach the windows, and he cracked one of them open, struggling against the rather heavy partition until it was open several inches. The sound of traffic instantly bled through the crack, the typical white noise of Seoul pervading even this tiny space. He breathed the lungful of smoke out hard, pulling a hint back into his lungs on his next inhale.

 

“You didn’t need to do that,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “You could’ve carried on smoking it, you know?”

 

“Nah, it’s fine. Actually, I should really quit myself,” Yoongi replied as he wafted at the air, as if he could force the lingering wisps of pungent tobacco out of the apartment room. “I keep saying I will, but then I find myself sitting at my computer at 4:30am, smoking my way through a packet and pulling out my hair, so…”

 

“Hmm, you should try giving it up, and we should both try cutting down on the drinking too,” Jimin joked, actually making the other man’s lips twitch at the corners.

 

“Shit, Jimin, y’know what they say: in wine there’s wisdom,” Yoongi remarked as he carried on lightly wafting his wrist, even though the entire routine was rather pointless.

 

“You drink wine? Seriously?” he asked, finding that this fact made him smile for some reason that he couldn’t quite figure out right now.

 

“Yeah, I like wine,” he said as he moved away from the window to go back into the kitchen-area. “Why’s that so shocking, huh?”

 

“You can’t handle soju, but you drink wine?

 

“Just a glass or two, and that gets me blitzed for the night,” Yoongi said, sparing a glance back over his shoulder at him. “My face turns as red as the wine, that’s the truth. You want something to drink, huh? I got…instant coffee, some herbal tea, uh, some other stuff, I think?”

 

“What kinda tea?”

 

“Ginseng, there’s honey, if you like it with that? I can’t drink most tea without it, and that shit’s good for your throat; remember?”

 

“Then, I’ll take some ginseng tea with honey,” Jimin said, moving to join him in the kitchen-area as the other man hit the kettle to start boiling the water. He shrugged his parka off so that he could fold it up and place it down on the counter out of the way. “That coffee will sober you right up, Yoongi. Which’s good, because you need sobering up.”

 

Yoongi retrieved two mugs, which he filled with spoonfuls of granulated ginseng, and powdered coffee. As soon as the water had boiled, he splashed it into the mugs, and then he placed the kettle aside so that he could finish making the drinks. He added a drizzle of honey to his mug, and nothing to his instant blend already because he clearly didn’t take milk or sugar.

 

“Is that enough honey?” he asked, slowly stirring at the tea for him.

 

“Yeah, thanks,” Jimin replied, accepting the mug from him and stirring at the contents for a moment longer.

 

“I, uh, when I was a kid, I used to take honey with everything. My mum got to calling me a ‘honey boy’ ‘cos of it,” Yoongi said, giving him another one of those brief smiles before he eyed his coffee. “I guess I could’ve called myself H-boy too.”

 

“How many different variations do you have, Yoongi?” Jimin asked with his own smile. “D-boy, B-boy, H-boy; what next? You could go through the entire alphabet, I’m sure of it.”

 

Yoongi guffawed at this as he nursed his coffee, moving to lean against the counter in a relaxed and casual fashion. Rather than add to this joke, he just watched him stirring at his tea with a great interest, his own mug hovering under his chin.

 

“So, Yoongi,” Jimin said to break their momentary silence, lifting the spoon from the cup so that he could dump it into the sink without a single care. “Where exactly do you work on your material?”

 

Yoongi lowered his mug of coffee at this, eyeing him from over the rim for a moment. His eyes were rounded, and he blinked languidly as he seemingly thought his words over. Then he moved to cross the main-area in the direction of an open doorway, leaving him with no choice but to follow behind him. The older man’s bare feet padded on the wooden flooring as he stepped into the other room.

 

“This’ where I work,” he explained, shifting his mug to one hand so that he could sweep his arm over the room.

 

Jimin saw that his studio was in fact his bedroom, or at least half of the room was. Pushed against the far wall, there was a small bed with rumpled covers and sheets, and the pillows were still imprinted with impressions from use from the previous night. There was a rather small wardrobe to the right built into the wall, and a window on the left wall - on the windowsill of which there were small potted plants. Save for some cast-off items of clothing on the floor, the bedroom was pretty clean, but it was terribly small just like the rest of the apartment.

 

At first, Jimin was rather shocked by the fact that Yoongi recorded tracks inside of his own apartment room, because it seemed unprofessional. Surely, a serious musician would at least rent out a studio booth for just a couple of hours and record as much material as they could before editing it at home on their own computers? But upon fully stepping into Yoongi’s bedroom, he quickly realised that his assumptions were completely incorrect, and he had to hand it to him for being a hell of a lot more professional than he had originally anticipated.

 

“Oh wow,” Jimin said, crossing the bedroom to draw closer to his desk, which had his entire studio set-up on it. He peeled one hand free from his mug to gesture, pointing at the different hardware adorning the top in turn. There was a unit with dials and several plugs flowing from it, a set of plush leather headphones, and a small oblong-shaped microphone; all hooked up to the computer. “What is all of this? It looks so professional, Yoongi.”

 

“Uh, that’s my UR22mkII pack,” Yoongi explained, moving over to stand beside him and eyeing the various items. “You get the ST-M01 mic, the ST-H01 headphones alongside the box, and several pieces of software too. It, uh, it ain’t cheap but it’s everything that I need for recording in my apartment, so, I just had to get the pack.”

 

Jimin placed his mug down to grab the headphones, eyeing the plush leather pads and placing them on top of his head just to see how they fit. They were so snug and surprisingly comfortable, and they blocked out a lot of noise to muffle Yoongi’s words, for though he saw his lips moving, he had no clue at all what he was saying to him. So, he quickly pulled them off and raised his eyebrows at him.

 

“I’m sorry? I didn’t catch that, the headphones-”

 

“Oh, I just said that you, uh, you looked good with ‘em on. Y’know, like a proper musician,” Yoongi mumbled, lifting his mug to take a quick sip of coffee.

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, and then he gave him a quick smile as he placed the headphones back down on the desk. He ran his gaze over the various pieces of hardware and then he looked back up at Yoongi to see that the rapper was staring into his coffee mug.

 

“OK, so, tell me about this stuff? What’re the other things?” Jimin suggested, before pointing at a large black square box.

 

The top section had a selection of white and grey buttons to the left and all along the top, glass display screens and dozens of black dials beneath them, and a slider to the right with several small blue buttons. Underneath this, the bottom half of the box was covered in rows of colourful and rubberised square buttons, and various other small buttons to the left and right. There was so many buttons that Jimin couldn’t begin to understand them, and he wondered how the hell Yoongi could work such a thing.

 

“What’s this, hmm? Is this a controller? Is this like what the guys use in the studios or is it something else?”

 

“That’s, uh, that’s my Maschine Studio Controller,” Yoongi explained, reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. “I use it to control software on my computer, think of it like a mouse and keyboard. But it has, like, so much more uses than that. The software on my computer is Cubase, yeah, so, I had to do some crazy mixing and matching with the gear, but this controller lets me control software and compose. Listen to this.”

 

Yoongi placed his mug down on the desk to free up his hands, leaning over his padded desk chair so that he could hit a button on his computer and power it up.

 

“I got several VST loaded onto my baby: HSO, Retrologue, Groove Agent. I keep meaning to, uh, to upgrade to one of the full collections for when I’m working at home, but I ain’t ever use the other VST for my personal compositions, so, it seems a little pointless. Maybe one day, I’ll just say “fuck it” and buy ‘em all for fun; yeah?”

 

Jimin couldn’t help but notice how talking about his recording set-up had made Yoongi become…animated; had made him very enthusiastic and had gotten him talking about things in more than just low mumbles. The other man was looking right at him as he spoke rather than glancing across the room, so lost in his explanations about hardware and software and all kinds of technical shit, that he hadn’t once dropped his head shyly to break eye-contact with him like usual.

 

Jimin realised, in this very moment, just how much that Yoongi loved music. He loved it in a way that other rappers that he had met with didn’t seem to, for most rappers that Jimin had ever mingled with had had other people working on most of the process for them. They had penned the lyrics and had had a vague idea about what they had wanted to compose, but their track credits had always contained half a dozen names that weren’t their own.

 

Killuh hadn’t shown him his recording equipment, hardware and programmes and gushed about them like this. He had just handed him the lyric sheet and had span around in his chair the entire time that he had been recording, and yet he was the one with the hot tracks and gaining fame and fortune through other people’s hard work and dedication.

 

Jimin guessed that the karma in it was that Yoongi would at least be making more money from his royalties for the material if he produced most of it on his own. Not like Killuh, who would be getting just a trickle from the font of cash pouring in from his new tracks. He supposed that that was better than getting attention, because making money from his skills was much better for Yoongi in the long-term than just attracting fame for a couple of weeks before he faded out into darkness again.

 

As soon as the computer had loaded up, Yoongi used the mouse to open Cubase and then he hit several tabs on the toolbar to open something that looked like a random composition. Then, he fiddled with the machine until music started playing from the speakers at a low volume.

 

Jimin heard a smooth keyboard opening up the sample, and when Yoongi started playing with the buttons on the side of machine so that they started glowing in shades of green, orange and red, he made drum beats start layering over the notes. He hit the large central buttons quick, his fingers and thumbs just seeming to know the exact buttons to press without a hint of hesitation in his movements.

 

“That’s the VST, and it lets me compose from a whole database of recorded instruments and samples at the touch of a button. It’s awesome, right?” Yoongi said with a grin, still hitting the rainbow-coloured buttons without even looking at the controller. “Without this baby, composing on the computer can be pretty irritating. That shit’s way too fiddly, but this feels so much more natural.”

 

“It’s awesome, it’s really awesome. But, how did you buy all of this stuff, Yoongi? Do you make that much from working for your crew alone?” Jimin asked curiously, gently twisting one of the dials to see that it altered the equaliser and allowed a much more immersive experience than a mouse alone. “I’m amazed.”

 

“I bought all of this shit with the cash I get from producing for other rappers, for my crew, and for a couple of labels that kinda have me on a payroll, or the closest that they can get me to selling my soul, anyway. SoulJam Records, and Moon Media, or M&M, as most people call ‘em. D’you know ‘em? I’ve tweaked a few tracks for artists in the past, I’ve got an ear for feedback and all of that nasty shit that layers under beats that’s a bitch to get rid of. I, uh, I also sell lyrics and compositions too, that’s most of my pay cheque right there.”

 

Well, that explained the black card and Rolex at least, though Jimin felt that these answers just opened up a whole host of new questions for him; questions that he couldn’t even ask him right now. He needed to get to know him better first, before delving too deeply into the personal. But SoulJam Records, or SJ Records, as many people called them, were one of the biggest entertainment companies in the capital currently; with a whole roster of idols, bands and actors signed to their multimedia deals; and Moon Media was a company that Jimin knew on a much more personal level.

 

“Do I know M&M? Yoongi, they’re the company that might just be signing me onto their payroll,” Jimin explained as he stopped playing with the controller dial.

 

“No shit?” Yoongi exclaimed in genuine surprise, his glassy eyes growing round with shock. “That’s the secret that you were keeping from me? M&M? Christ, Jimin! No wonder you didn’t wanna say anything before in the club! M&M, goddamn!”

 

“Well, I mean, they suggested that I should start on a development deal. I’m hoping that they’ll explain what that means to me, because I’m not exactly up on the terms. But it sounds like it could be a good starter contract for me, right?”

 

“Uh, yeah, that’s…that’s the best kinda deal for a new artist like you. They’ll push you onto an exclusive contract next, ‘cos you’re gonna pull in enough cash from those tester singles and official collabs to make their investment worth it; yeah?”

 

“You’ve got a lot of faith in me, Yoongi,” Jimin remarked in a quiet voice, glancing between the controller and his face slowly. “I’m not even on a deal yet, but you’re already telling me that they’re gonna move me onto an exclusive contract. There’s no telling if the single that I’m gonna feature on will even sell that well.”

 

“I’ve always got faith in talent, Jimin,” Yoongi replied, reaching up to rub at his nose roughly in that funny habit of his. “That feature, it’s gonna go great for you, yeah? So, you’ll be on that deal within a week of the song dropping. Trust me, and if they present you with a contract, you should, uh, you should check over it with me, yeah? Just to make sure that M&M are upfront about everything and don’t try and fuck you over. I mean, I trust ‘em more than some companies, but labels are just out for money, Jimin, and you gotta learn to educate yourself to protect yourself.”

 

“Thank you for the offer, I’ll be sure to ask for your advice, should I get offered that deal,” Jimin said as he studied the other man for a moment. Then he looked back at the desk, running his eyes over the assortment of recording equipment and hardware. “Yoongi, you’ve got more shit on this desk than I’ve seen in an actual recording studio, I’m serious.”

 

“Pft, you’re just saying that,” Yoongi mumbled, reaching up to scratch at his beanie hat in what looked like a rather bumbling attempt at hiding his embarrassment. “Ain’t no way this set-up’s better than Hellfire Trax’s set-up, Jimin.”

 

“I don’t know, I think it is. It’s more…comfortable. I’d like to record in a studio like this,” he admitted as he stroked his fingers over the padded headphones.

 

“You, uh, you wanna have a go on the controller? Play around a little?” Yoongi asked, retrieving his mug from the desk and taking a deep swallow of the coffee. “I could load up a new composition just for the sake of it, let you mess around?”

 

“Sure thing,” Jimin agreed with a series of vigorous nods. “That sounds great, Yoongi. I’ve never played around on a controller before.”

 

Yoongi placed his mug of coffee down for a moment, focusing on his computer monitor so that he could switch to a new composition and then pressing several buttons on the side of the controller before tapping the main and softly padded buttons. This made random sounds come from the computer speakers, from harsh drum snares and cymbals, to deep bass notes, to a rather funky keyboard that made Jimin snort under his breath. Satisfied that it was programmed for him, he moved out of the way of the desk to let him sit down in the desk chair.

 

So, Jimin sat in it and he wriggled around for a moment before hovering his hands over the controller. When he hit a button, a single drum snare sounded out of the computer speakers and made him jump in surprise as he hit a few more buttons completely off-rhythm.

 

“Oh! What was that?” Jimin exclaimed, clapping his hand against his chest before laughing to himself. “That sounded so bad, I’m sorry.”

 

“Nah, it wasn’t bad, you’re still figuring it out,” Yoongi disagreed with a head shake. “You can’t learn how to use a controller in a single night, though you can start to understand the buttons in that time. But programming it? Getting solid compositions down on it, it takes time, Jimin. So, just have fun with it, yeah? I ain’t gonna judge you.”

 

“OK,” Jimin said in a quiet voice as he moved to get more comfortable and concentrated on the controller. “When I play this, does the computer pick up on it?”

 

“Uhuh, look at the screen.”

 

Jimin spared a quick glance up at the computer monitor as he hit the same button several times over, watching the equaliser reacting to his touch so that sharp spikes shot up on the bar.

 

“Like I said before, I’ve never used a controller before, or music software like this. Yoongi, I’ve never even penned a single lyric in my entire life,” Jimin stated as he moved his hand and tapped at the soft buttons experimentally.

 

“You’ve never penned lyrics before?” Yoongi asked curiously, glancing down at him with a surprised expression.

 

“Nope, I’ve never done anything like that,” Jimin replied, as he hit another button on the device and heard a cymbal crashing tinnily. “Why do you think I’m so clueless about this stuff, hmm?”

 

Yoongi didn’t reply to this question, rather he just watched him playing around with the dozens of coloured buttons for a moment.

 

“Do you have a piano option? I can play that, just a few compositions that I learnt as a kid in my music lessons, but more than I can play on a drumkit,” Jimin said as he stopped pressing the buttons and twisted in the chair to look up at him. “I think that I’d be so much better on a piano than a drumkit, Yoongi.”

 

“Yeah, hang on, I’ll load it onto the controller for you,” Yoongi replied, hitting a rectangle button to the side so that it started glowing orange instead of the current one. “It’s not as great as an actual keyboard, I’ve got one of those but it’s stored under my bed right now. But it works good for guide tracks that can then be recorded on a real piano or keyboard in the studio. So…give it a shot.”

 

“This is the smallest piano that I’ve ever seen,” he joked as he hovered his hands over the controller, making the other man guffaw softly. “OK, let’s give this another shot.”

 

Jimin took a moment to hit the various buttons first, to figure out what keys Yoongi had assigned to each one. Satisfied that he had a basic idea, he then decided to give this a serious attempt rather than simply play around like he had with the drumkit. His first couple of tries were flat and most certainly not melodious, for he was still figuring out the right keys, but after a minute, he found that a few of the notes sounded nice together. So, he started playing them over as he tried to figure out what came next in his little composition.

 

Yoongi watched him from over his shoulder, still and silent, and he found that his presence wasn’t at all damaging to his concentration. If anything, Jimin found himself concentrating more on the challenge because he knew that the other man was watching him.

 

Jimin managed to string together three of the notes, hitting them in an order that he liked to think in his head as: A, A, A, A, A, B, C, because he didn’t know them by ear well enough to know which actual piano keys he was pressing. It sounded nice to him, but he had no clue if it actually sounded good to Yoongi, who had a much better trained ear and skills for this kind of thing. As he continued hitting them, he glanced up at the rapper and flashed him a rather shy smile.

 

“It’s better, but it’s still pretty flat. What do you think, hmm?”

 

“When you hit the final button, try hitting this one too,” Yoongi suggested, pointing at another large button on the keypad, this one deep blue. “Both at the same time, like you would on a real keyboard.”

 

“OK,” Jimin agreed, repeating his little series of notes and then using his left hand to hit the button he had suggested right as he hit C. It produced a much richer sound to his ears, and most certainly made the little melody sound better.

 

“Wait, let’s save that onto the controller, yeah?” Yoongi suggested, moving to hit a button on the right hand side set above the large dial. “Play that again, let’s record it onto one of the slots.”

 

“Play it again? You actually want to record that mess?” Jimin asked in surprise, looking between his face and the controller rapidly.

 

Yoongi hummed and moved his hand away again, gesturing for him to give it a shot.

 

Jimin hesitated for a moment before moving to start pressing the buttons again. He started off well, but he accidentally hit the wrong key right at the end and messed it up, cursing under his breath as he pulled his hands away from the controller.

 

“Hey, ain’t a problem; lemme just erase that layer and start again,” Yoongi said, hitting several buttons on the left of the device set below the instrument slots and then pressing the record button again. “There, give it another shot, Jimin.”

 

“OK,” Jimin mumbled, giving his thumb ring a final twist before he moved to hover his hands over the buttons.

 

“You can go slow or fast, I can edit the speed for you, yeah? No sweat, just do it your way.”

 

Jimin wet his lips as he eyed the controller, and then he took a deep breath and started playing again. Like Yoongi had suggested, he went slower to ensure that he got the right keys and didn’t accidentally knock one with his thumb. He felt silly going slow when he was hitting just several buttons in a simple melody, but it was his first real attempt at playing on a controller, and the other man was very understanding and patient with him.

 

After he had played the last two notes, Yoongi hit the record button again to stop device from recording. When he played the melody on the computer for them both to listen to, he gestured at one of the sliders to the side of the buttons, and so Jimin touched it and slowly pushed it up to increase the speed.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but laugh as he fiddled with the slider, finding it so strange that he had just played the notes that they were both listening to right now. It didn’t sound too bad either, if he was being honest, though he just knew that Yoongi would be able to compose something a hundred times better than it in that exact same time-frame.

 

“We’ve got a piano; what next?” Jimin asked, as he watched the other man hitting the button on the side to switch the instrument back to the drumkit and then opened the second empty slot to record on.

 

“What if I try something like…this?”

 

Yoongi hovered his right hand over the buttons for a moment, and then he dropped it to start tapping them with his thumb, fore and middle finger. He did so quickly, the movements making his tendons and veins shift under his thin and lightly tanned skin in a way that made Jimin stare at his hand instead of the glowing controller buttons. It was much more interesting to watch him making music, rather than the buttons or the equaliser on the screen.

 

Because Yoongi was so distracted with the controller, he hadn’t even realised the fact that his face was right up against his, their cheeks almost touching as he leaned over the chair and worked on the device. His free hand was on the left armrest behind his elbow, and the position seemed incredibly comfortable for him even when they were so close.

 

Yoongi was recording his attempt at getting a beat down, and he played a drumbeat over three times before switching the fourth repetition up at the end. Then he ended the recording and played the sample over, listening to it intently. The rhythm was good, a basic beat that made Jimin move his head in sync with the recording: a four part beat that went A, B, A, B, before his final repetition added a cymbal underneath the thumping that Jimin liked to think of as C.

 

“Mmm, let’s slow that shit down a little,” Yoongi mumbled, playing the sample over and over as he pulled down on the slider and slowed the speed down to a crawl. “That’s better.”

 

“So, then…you layer them together, right?” Jimin remarked, watching Yoongi pressing more buttons on the left of the device. “You layer the drums and the piano and add something on top or underneath like…”

 

“Bass?” Yoongi suggested, switching instruments by hitting the button on the side and then lifting a strong eyebrow at him.

 

Jimin had to let him fiddle around with the bass, because he was much more skilled with the instrument than he was, much like he was with the drums. Yoongi demonstrated his good ear for composing, because it took him just a minute or two of playing around before he stringed together several deep notes that sounded pretty good to his ears.

 

“You like that?” Yoongi asked as he repeated the notes over a few times, squinting ever so slightly as they both listened to it. “Is there something missing or is just me?”

 

“Um…” Jimin cocked his head, their heads rubbing together as he eyed the controller. “I think that the bass is good. What’s missing is a little flourish. You know? Like tinkling piano keys or a even some synths? Something that could play over it all?”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi remarked, hitting the record button so that he could get the bass down onto the device. He quickly played his melody and slowed it down to blend in with the drums, and then he turned his head to look at him. “You wanna give that a try for me, add a little flourish?”

 

“Sure,” he agreed with a nod.

 

Yoongi switched back to the piano for him so that he could record on the fourth slot, and so Jimin hovered his hands over the controller and started pressing the buttons as he tried to figure out a nice melody. He closed his eyes as he listened to each note carefully, and then he opened them again and turned his head to look at the other man.

 

“What do you think about something like…this?” he asked, before pressing five keys in ascending order. He hit the first two close together before leaving a little space between the following three notes, just so it didn’t sound too flat. “Yeah?”

 

“Yeah, I like it.”

 

Jimin hit the five buttons again, letting Yoongi save the little tinkling series of notes onto the fourth slot, and then he pulled his hands away and let the other man take control of the controller.

 

“OK, so, we’ve got a couple of basic instrumental layers down, but…let’s see what it sounds like all together,” he suggested, shifting to hover his hand over the device and hitting the record button again.

 

Yoongi pressed the first slot button so that it was glowing, the piano melody playing over and over continuously, and after a few seconds of this he added the bass underneath it, quickly followed by the drum. After the beat had played through once, he switched the drum slot off for a second and then back on again, adding it over the constant piano and bass in a nice rhythm; and after four such drum beats, he hit the little piano flourish so that the keys tinkled over the whole thing perfectly.

 

Jimin made a surprised noise at this, because it actually sounded pretty good to his ears. Yoongi stopped recording by hitting the glowing button and then he turned off all of the instrumental layers on the controller. He turned back to his computer monitor, hitting several keys so that he could play the entire sample over again, the equaliser on the screen dancing in rhythm with their little composition. It was unbelievable how his silly little piano piece had been added to the smooth drum and bass, so that it actually sounded in place with the other instruments, and it made him laugh under his breath in disbelief.

 

“Shit, that’s smooth,” Yoongi remarked, pulling his hand away from the controller and instinctively placing it down on his shoulder instead.

 

Jimin felt the weight of his hand through his tee-shirt, his palm somewhat warm and his fingers digging into his skin ever so slightly. The contact was strangely pleasing, even when he wasn’t really sure why it felt so nice. It just felt nice, and he wanted him to keep his hand in place for a little while longer whilst they listened to their composition.

 

“That flowed so smoothly, you’re better at this than you thought, Jimin,” Yoongi praised, giving his shoulder a tight squeeze. “You finally got a little bit of a composition down.”

 

“You mean we got a bit of a composition down? You did most of the work, Yoongi,” Jimin pointed out with a slight smile, looking away from the screen to glance up at him. “It’s not a real composition either, I’m not good enough for that kinda stuff, not like you.”

 

“If felt good though, right? Making music like that?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice, holding his gaze with that same level of confidence as earlier. “Even if it was just playing around and nothing too serious?”

 

“Yeah, it felt fantastic, Yoongi,” he agreed, nodding so that his earrings dangled back and forth.

 

Jimin held his gaze for a moment, waiting for Yoongi to just open his mouth and speak, but he just stared down at him instead.

 

The bedroom fell so silent that he could hear nothing more than the faded sound of traffic coming from the open window in the other room, and the sound of Yoongi gulping when he finally realised just how close their faces and bodies were.

 

“Uh, I’m glad that you enjoyed it, Jimin,” he mumbled, tearing his eyes away to stare down at the controller instead.

 

When Jimin lowered his own gaze from the other man’s face, he caught sight of the watch on his wrist, and the position of the fingers was enough to make him feel a jolt of surprise coursing through him.

 

“Oh, shit, it’s late,” he cursed, realising that he had missed the last train quite some time ago. “We got so distracted with the controller that I-”

 

“Oh? Shit, sorry, I didn’t even realise,” Yoongi interjected, straightening up so that he was no longer leaning over him.

 

“I’ll have to, um, jump a taxi or something.”

 

“You could stay here for the night? I mean, taking a taxi could cost you a lot of money, Jimin. At least lemme cover the cost tomorrow if you wanna go, you can text me the receipt and I’ll send you it,” Yoongi suggested, reaching to tug and scratch at his beanie hat. “I dragged you here in the first place, after all.”

 

“I can’t get you to pay me back,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, twisting in the seat to look back at him and thinking his words over intently. “I agreed to come here tonight, it’s not your responsibility to pay me back for something like that. But…if the offer’s there to stay the night, I can’t say no to that; right?”

 

“I mean, you can have the bed, I’ll sleep on the sofa,” Yoongi added as he carried on tugging on his beanie hat, which was going to start unravelling at the seams if he didn’t stop soon. “It’s gonna be over 10,000 won to get back to Dongdaemun-gu, especially now that it’s late enough for an extra charge.”

 

“OK, but you don’t have to take the sofa, I’ll sleep on the sofa. I don’t mind at all, I was napping on one the entire time that I was recording with Killuh,” Jimin joked with a quick smile. “Honestly, Yoongi, the floor’s good for me, if it saves me 10,000 won.”

 

“I’m, uh, I’m gonna run the store, grab you a toothbrush or something. Anything you need?” Yoongi asked, shifting to hit several keys on his keyboard so that he could actually save their composition onto his computer, much to his shock.

 

“Um, do they sell face masks?” Jimin asked, before realising how unusual this request might just sound to the other man. So, he found himself mumbling under his breath just for the sake of it. “After a night of drinking, it really brings down any swelling, you know? And the redness too; I can get pretty red cheeks. Do you use them? Because you’ve got really nice skin, Yoongi. I’m kinda jealous, I still get bad breakouts. With the recording session starting tomorrow afternoon, I don’t wanna show up looking like I spent a night at a bar, you know?”

 

“I get you, I’ll check for you, they might have some,” Yoongi offered, his expression showing that he didn’t find this request strange at all. “Anything else? It’s a pretty big convenience store, so, I’ll probably find one of everything in there.”

 

“Also, lollipops? I’ll share them with you, but I find that they really help me resist the temptation to bum a smoke from someone when I’m stressed, yeah?”

 

“Who you gonna bum a smoke off, huh? I ain’t offering any,” Yoongi argued, giving him a wry grin as he moved to hover in the bedroom doorway. “They’re bad for your throat, after all.”

 

“Not even if I beg?” Jimin retorted, cocking his head and giving him a pitiful expression.

 

“Not even then,” Yoongi agreed, rubbing at his nose roughly. “I’ll be right back, yeah. If you need anything: food, drinks, just help yourself.”

 

“OK,” he called as the other man moved to go back into the main-area. “And thanks for this, Yoongi!”

 

Don’t mention it!

 

After Yoongi had quickly pulled his sneakers back on, there came the soft sound of him pulling the apartment room door shut behind himself.

 

Jimin glanced up at the sound, eyeing the empty main-area for a moment, and then he turned back to the computer in front of him. The temptation to play around some more with the controller was overwhelming, but he didn’t want to risk messing up Yoongi’s files, or accidentally breaking any of his devices, and so he decided to just keep his hands to himself.

 

Jimin stayed seated in the desk chair as he drank his herbal tea, just so he could study the various pieces of recording equipment that Yoongi had. He didn’t know why the different items fascinated him, they just did, especially the controller. It was probably because he had never seen this kind of equipment before, and having witnessed it in action and played around with it, he had since found that he rather liked the controller.

 

Sure, he was never going to be able to compose something good on it, something that was worth putting on a single or album, but it could still be fun to play around with it like Yoongi had suggested.

 

Curiosity got the better of him after a few minutes, and Jimin found himself getting out of the desk chair so that he could wander across Yoongi’s bedroom. He wasn’t rude enough to go poking around in his side table drawer, or even the small dresser set below his tiny window, but he did end up looking inside of his wardrobe just for the sake of it.

 

Just like he had imagined, Yoongi owned a great variety of clothing, but it mostly consisted of tee-shirts, distressed jeans, sweatpants and jackets. There wasn’t a single shirt present, for the sake of formality or any potential meetings with companies, or any smart trousers either. The tee-shirts were either plain of logos and in solid colour print: white, black, grey, or they had prints on them. Jimin struggled to identify most of them, but he could recognise several labels: Cav Empt, Number (N)ine, Supreme, but that was only because they had the labels printed on the front in the most obvious of ways.

 

Yoongi had coats hanging in the far side of the wardrobe: a long camouflage parka with a hood that looked to be rainproof, and a rather worn-looking woollen deep blue mac. Other than that, his jackets seemed to be his outerwear of choice, for he had several ones that Jimin had never seen before. He ran his fingers over the mixture of polyester, starched and waxed cotton and leather, and then he hunkered down to check out the rest of the wardrobe.

 

At the bottom of his wardrobe, there was dozens of boxes inside of which looked to be his sneakers. There wasn’t a single pair of dress shoes, though there were two pairs of boots for the cold and slippery winter months: a pair of rather battered black leather boots, and a pair of black and white Doc Marten’s that he studied the broguing on with an appreciative eye.

 

Nice, Yoongi had a nice but casual wardrobe, and his caps and beanies were no doubt shoved inside one of the dresser drawers, but he wasn’t going to go looking. People hid all kinds of things away in drawers, after all, and Jimin didn’t want to stumble across a roll of condoms, dirty magazines or any…unusual items that Yoongi might just hide in there. So, when he was finished poking around in the wardrobe, he just went over to the window to look at his plants.

 

Yoongi had three such plants on his windowsill, and Jimin could identify two of them because they were cacti. One was rounded and covered in little spikes, and the other had several arms sticking out on angles like a green fuzzy starfish. The final plant had tall and pointed leaves, and when he peeled one hand off of his mug of tea to touch it, he found that it felt waxy and cool against his fingertips. That meant that the plants were real, and he eyed the rounded cacti and wondered if he could touch that too.

 

Should he really risk ending up with a needle stuck in his finger and giving Yoongi a heart attack when he got back to his apartment?

 

After weighing up the pros and cons of such an outcome, Jimin decided to not stroke the cactus. Not tonight, but maybe another night. If Yoongi was present, he might be able to show him the right way to do it, or advise that he not do so.

 

So, Jimin finished sipping at his tea, and then he collected the empty coffee mug to go into the kitchen-area. He cleaned them both in the sink and left them to drain on the sideboard, and then he poked around inside of the cupboards and fridge just for the hell of it. Yoongi actually had some stuff shoved away inside of them, from packets of instant ramyeon and tins of kimchi that were shoved into the fridge, to eggs and bread and random packets of junk food. After checking out the kitchen, he went back into the bedroom, stretching his stiff muscles and yawning loudly without even covering his mouth.

 

Jimin had only just sat back down in the comfortable desk chair when he heard the apartment room door beeping and then unlocking with a soft clicking sound. He heard rustling sounds coming from the main-area as Yoongi presumably dropped to remove his sneakers, and a moment later, he stepped into the bedroom.

 

“You’re in luck, Jimin, they had both things,” he remarked as be dumped the store bag down on the bed and dropped onto it with a soft grunt.

 

Jimin moved to sit down on the bed beside him just as Yoongi started unloading the bag onto the mattress. He saw: a single toothbrush in a protective plastic case, a small washcloth just for him, a single face mask sheet, a packet of assorted lollipops, a packet of Raison Black cigarettes, and a large plastic bag of Nongshim sweet potato snack crisps; which Yoongi proceeded to tear open.

 

“Thanks, Yoongi, I owe you,” Jimin said as he grabbed the toothbrush and washcloth and got off the bed.

 

“Nah, you don’t owe me nothing,” Yoongi mumbled around a mouthful of the snack. “Except maybe a feature on one of my tracks?”

 

Jimin paused in the doorway at this, turning to lean against the frame and eyeing the other man. Yoongi glanced back at him as he chewed the mouthful of food, and then he gave him a quick smile before turning back to the bag of crisps. For some reason, this cheeky request made Jimin smile as he left the bedroom and went into the bathroom.

 

Just like his own apartment, the bathroom was a small box of a room. The mounted shower on the wall was separated from the rest of the room by a thin light pink curtain, the combined toilet-bidet was right next to the sink, and the floor was rubberised against his bare feet and covered in drainage holes. The interior smelled pleasant to his nose, for Jimin noted that Yoongi had little incense burners and candles inside of the bathroom, and he left the tiny window open to keep the cramped space well ventilated.

 

Jimin went down the slight step, closed the door behind him, and he proceeded to get washed up. He had to borrow some of Yoongi’s toothpaste to brush his teeth first, and then he stripped his tee-shirt off. He might be able to take a quick shower tomorrow (though he would need to go commando because he had no clean underwear on hand) but for tonight, a quick wash over the sink would suffice. So, he stole a pumpful of Yoongi’s foamy face wash to clean his face first, and then he grabbed the remains of a bar of soap to use.

 

Jimin exited the bathroom several minutes later, his tee-shirt back on, his body somewhat cleaner, and his hair wet and mostly free from hair gel. When he went back into the bedroom, Yoongi was sitting on the bed eating snacks, his legs crossed in front of him and his jacket and beanie hat still present. Knowing the other man, he probably slept in them.

 

Jimin sat down on the bed too, folding his own legs to the side to fit on the small mattress, and then he grabbed the face mask. It was a Tonymoly I’m Real mask, the avocado one, which meant that it was packed with moisture for his skin. He peeled the mask free from the packet, craning his neck back so that he could place the rayon sheet down on his face and then gently pressed it against his skin with his fingers.

 

When he lowered his head again to look at Yoongi, the other man couldn’t help but snort around his mouthful of sweet potato crisps.

 

“Don’t laugh, it takes hard work to be beautiful, Yoongi,” Jimin mumbled, trying his hardest to keep his face still to not disturb the mask.

 

“You’re hardly hideous, Jimin,” Yoongi retorted as he grabbed another handful of the snack and shoved it into his mouth.

 

It took Jimin a moment to realise that this was actually a compliment, that Yoongi had just told him that he didn’t need to work so hard to be ‘beautiful’, which meant that he thought that he was already handsome to some degree.

 

Jimin was used to receiving compliments, but from other men, they were noticeably rarer. Most men didn’t want to compliment his appearance for fear of appearing to have an interest in him, and so they were always sure to say something that sounded strictly unassuming. Like telling him that he had a ‘clean and charming appearance’, whatever that meant.

 

Jimin almost anticipated the mumble, the quickly stammered explanation that followed such compliments, and yet the other man just carried on munching on his midnight snack. It seemed that just like the subway incident earlier, Yoongi felt no need to defensively mumble about how he ‘didn’t mean it like that’ and declare that he totally had a girlfriend; or to get rather aggressive and project his fears of being misunderstood onto him in the form of insults. That was rather interesting, but Jimin had since arrived at the conclusion that Yoongi was an interesting individual.

 

Almost as if he had noticed that he was studying him, Yoongi looked up and then he decided to hold the bag of snacks out to him in offering.

 

“I just got cleaned up,” Jimin mumbled, and yet Yoongi still held the bag out to him in offering. He even gave it a shake for emphasis, just to get him to take some. So, he sighed heavily and grabbed a handful of the sweet potato snack. “If I have a breakout because of you, I swear to god, Yoongi…”

 

“Pft, ain’t nothing makeup won’t cover up, Jimin,” Yoongi argued, placing the bag down for a moment and quickly licking at his salt-covered fingers. “I mean, I get it, you’re a singer, and looks are important for that most of the time, but-” he pulled his thumb free from his mouth, quickly licking at his lips, “don’t put yourself down over the little shit, OK? I know I shouldn’t say this but…Photoshop exists, yeah, and-”

 

Yoongi.

 

“and you ain’t an idol, Jimin. You don’t have to be perfect,” Yoongi continued as he ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth. “You’re gonna go many nights without sleep, you’re gonna pull your hair out and have stress breakouts, and that’s the truth. You’ll sing until you can hardly talk the next day and you’re gonna probably feel like shit a lot of the time, so, eating a little junk food…it’s hardly gonna be the thing to give you a breakout, y’know?”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, and then he reached over to grab another handful of the snack. This made Yoongi guffaw softly, dropping his head for a moment to study the small amount of space between their legs on the mattress. The other man was probably telling him the truth, but he still felt a twinge of guiltiness for eating the snack regardless.

 

“You, uh, you gonna tell me who that feature’s with now, or not?” Yoongi asked to break their momentary silence, shifting to shove his hand into the bag again. “You kinda dropped a hint before, when you told me about the potential M&M deal. Am I gonna need to take guesses until I get the right answer?”

 

“Hmm, I can’t really talk right now,” Jimin teased as he moved to lie down on the mattress with a soft sigh, stretching his legs out over the end of the bed. “I’m supposed to relax my face.”

 

Yoongi thought this over for a moment, and then he shifted to lie back and stare up at the ceiling too. He wriggled around for a moment, sniffing a couple of times as he rubbed at his nose and accidentally bumped his arm with his elbow, and then he fell still.

 

Jimin waited to see if he would say anything to him, if he would start guessing artists on the label to try and get him to reveal who his feature was with. But after a couple of minutes, Yoongi started making soft noises that sounded like snores, and so he turned his head to look at him. He saw that his eyes were closed and his lips were slack, but he was quite clearly not asleep and just playing around to try and make him laugh.

 

“Yoongi,” Jimin mumbled, struggling to keep his expression straight and catching sight of the other man’s lips twitching at the corners. “I know that you’re not asleep, stop pretending.”

 

“Mmm, but I’m gonna fall asleep soon,” the rapper retorted, forcing himself to sit back up again with a heavy grunt. “I’ve had a busy day to…day, and nowhere near that much coffee.”

 

“How much coffee is nowhere near that much coffee, Yoongi?”

 

“Three cups?” he replied without missing a beat, his expression and tone completely serious.

 

That was what cracked Jimin up, and he had to reach up to clap his hands against his face to fix the mask in place again. At least his laughter made Yoongi’s lips lift in a lopsided smile, the other man playing with his packet of cigarettes but not opening them. He just tossed them from hand to hand instead and let the bedroom fall silent again.

 

After leaving the mask on for ten minutes, Jimin sat upright and he pulled it free to dump it onto the empty packet. That meant that he could start massaging the lingering oils into his skin to keep it moist and supple. He was in the act of doing so when Yoongi moved to grab the mask without a single word, catching him by complete surprise.

 

“What’re you doing?” Jimin asked curiously, watching the other man placing the used mask onto his face.

 

Yoongi copied his actions from earlier, patting it in place and then attempting to give him a grin even when the mask was on his face and he couldn’t move it too well. He even cupped his cheeks in his hands for added effect, the cutesy pose making Jimin laugh.

 

Oh, Yoongi was pretty funny when he was tipsy, loose and relaxed in a complete contrast to his usually reserved and reflective sober self. Jimin couldn’t help but wonder if he would recall acting this way with him when he woke up tomorrow, and if he would get embarrassed as a result.

 

“Do I look less red?” Yoongi asked, peeling the mask away a moment later to reveal his moist and shiny face. “Oh, my face’s sticky, it’s all sticky.”

 

“You’ve gotta rub the oils in,” Jimin said, shifting to lean over and give his cheek a little circular rub with his thumb as a demonstration. “And…no, you’re still flushed, Yoongi.”

 

“Great, I’m gonna be pink faced all day tomorrow,” Yoongi mumbled as he dropped the mask on the torn packet and quickly rubbed at his nose, chin and brow to try and get the oil to soak in. “I shouldn’t have ordered that somaek…”

 

“Did you enjoy it?” Jimin asked as he reached up to massage at his own face again, and the other man nodded in agreement. “Then don’t regret it, it was just a single somaek. It’s not like you downed a whole tray of shots, right? You told me to enjoy the junk food, so, you can enjoy a single somaek, OK?”

 

Yoongi hummed at this, watching him massaging at his face with a great interest. His fingers were playing with a thread on the rather ruined knee of his jeans, showcasing that he might just be thinking of something to say to him.

 

“So, uh, Jimin?” he asked after a moment of contemplation, his voice almost a whisper. “The whole playing with the controller thing; it was fun, right?”

 

“It was so much fun, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he continued gently massaging the avocado mask oils into his face and neck. “I really liked playing around with it. I mean, sure, I was supposed to listen to your compositions, but there’s always another night, right?”

 

Yoongi shifted his gaze from his hand to hold his eyes, his expression hard to read. He seemed surprised by this remark, but after a few seconds he gave him a brief smile.

 

“Sure, another night,” Yoongi agreed as he nodded vigorously. “Uh, anyway, I think that I should probably grab a couple of things and move to the sofa, yeah?”

 

“Huh, the sofa?” Jimin repeated, as he finished massaging at his skin. “But I said that I’d use that tonight, I-”

 

Yoongi ignored him and he crawled up the mattress so that he could grab one of his pillows. Then he got off the bed, moving over to the wardrobe and hunkering down to rifle around until he pulled a winter blanket free and straightened up again. That was his not so discreet way of telling him that he was most certainly sleeping on the sofa tonight.

 

So, Jimin just grabbed the bag of lollipops to dump it on the side table and clear the mattress of clutter, and then he got to his feet to start unbuttoning his jeans.

 

Yoongi retrieved his cigarettes, which he shoved into his jeans pocket, and he gathered the used face mask up in the packet to dispose of it in the kitchen bin. He moved to leave the bedroom, but before he did so, he stopped and turned back to look at him.

 

“Uh, goodnight, Jimin,” Yoongi mumbled, hovering in the doorway rather awkwardly with the pillow and blanket hugged against his chest.

 

“Goodnight, Yoongi, and thanks again for letting me crash here, just for the night,” Jimin said as he tugged his jeans down and let them puddle onto the floor without a care.

 

“Don’t…don’t mention it,” Yoongi replied, moving to leave the bedroom at a quick pace.

 

Jimin turned the bedroom lights off and he settled down on the bed, listening to the other man moving around his apartment for several minutes. He went from the bathroom to the kitchen, softly clattering and thumping until the sound of him dropping onto the sofa with a series of heavy yawns and grunts signalled that he was going to settle down for sleep too.

 

Yoongi’s bed wasn’t actually uncomfortable, for though it was small, it was in good condition. His pillow was soft and fragrant with shampoo, faded cigarette smoke and cologne, and there were no annoying springs waiting to pop up and dig into his body. Jimin rolled onto his side, the light covers tugged up to his ribs, and he pulled his legs up and tried to get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep.

 

Yet, no matter how much he tried to sleep, Jimin found that he just couldn’t do so. He was comfortable, he was pretty tired, but he just couldn’t seem to stop thinking enough to settle down and sleep. It was because of the feature, he was sure of it, for his nerves and excitement were likely what was keeping him awake; staring up at the bedroom ceiling and out of the window in turn over and over until he felt like he was going crazy.

 

Jimin didn’t know how long exactly he lay there, waiting for sleep to come, but he eventually tossed the covers aside and climbed out of the bed to cross the bedroom. He found himself stopping to eye the computer, and then he shifted to look through the open doorway into the main-area.

 

In the darkness of the apartment room, he couldn’t see much more than a hint of Yoongi’s head and body lying on the sofa. He couldn’t see his face, but he could hear his soft and regular breathing, which signalled that he was deeply asleep. He looked to be curled up on the sofa in a tight little ball, judging from the bump under the blankets, and he clearly needed to do so to fit on the busted piece of furniture.

 

Jimin lingered in the doorway for a moment, just eyeing the other man in the faint moonlight coming in through the windows, and then he went back into the bedroom.

 

Yoongi’s computer was irresistible to his eyes, the monitor screen currently black but the red light on the frame telling him to just touch it and turn it back on again. He knew that he should just leave it alone, that he should go to bed and try and get some sleep for the recording session tomorrow. Yet he found himself moving over to the desk and hitting the button with his thumb, his other hand gently pulling the chair out from the desk.

 

Jimin shifted to sit down in the chair, grabbing the headphones so that he could slip them around his neck for a moment. He hadn’t noticed earlier, but to the side of the equipment, there was a sizeable stack of papers and what looked like a glasses case. He glanced at the objects only briefly before turning his attention back to the computer.

 

Yoongi hadn’t powered down his computer, and as a result, it meant that he had no need to worry about passwords of any kind, nor had the computer locked him out for being inactive for too long. Had he have needed a password, he would have had no choice but to have climbed back into bed again; but now he had total access to the device. The programme that he used to compose his tracks on was still open in the background, which meant that it was too good an opportunity to resist.

 

Jimin could have browsed Yoongi’s computer completely if he had wanted to do so, rudely looking through his personal files, but he had no desire to do so. Not only because it was wrong and a direct violation of his privacy, but because he only wanted one thing from his computer.

 

Jimin wanted to listen to some of Yoongi’s compositions to pass the time until he finally felt tired enough to fall asleep; the original reason why he had followed him back to his apartment this evening.

 

Jimin took hold and wriggled the mouse as he scanned the Cubase programme, locating the toolbar at the top of the screen. After some experimental clicks and quick reading, he managed to find a way to open files, and a little window popped up on the screen. He could see that Yoongi seemed to save his files in a folder entitled ‘ rough beats’ , which was presumably where he kept all of his current compositions.

 

So, Jimin located the folder in his documents with a quick search, opening it and scrolling through countless files in complete wonder. There were dozens of audio files on the screen in front of him, in various file formats and with file names that looked to be the dates of the recording, or possibly the last editing process.

 

“Oh, wow…” Jimin sighed out as he carried on scrolling through the folder, his fingers itching to click on something but his eyes unable to settle on a single file. “No wonder he looks so tired…”

 

The first file that caught his eye happened to one that had his birthday in the title, for it was named: 13/10/15. That was enough for him to move the cursor over to it and then let go of the mouse so that he could tug the headphones up onto his head. They were so snug and fitted in place perfectly, meaning that he didn’t even have to adjust them as he grabbed hold of the mouse again.

 

Jimin double-clicked on the audio file without much thought at all, and it was only when the music player loaded and started playing it at a deafeningly loud volume, did he realise how stupid that rash decision had been.

 

“Shit!” Jimin gasped, quickly lowering the volume before his eardrums burst and reaching up to clap a hand against his chest. He felt his heart racing in response to the fright, and after a moment, he reached up to tug the headphones off and cocked his head cautiously.

 

Yoongi was still asleep, judging from the silence from the rest of the house, and that meant that he hadn’t heard him messing around on his computer, or had been woken up by the blaring music.

 

So, Jimin let his breath out in a heavy sigh before fixing the headphones back in place, and then he dragged the bar right back to the front of the player so that he could listen to it properly. His heart was still going way too fast in his chest, and so he had to take deep breaths as he listened to the opening bars of the track.

 

Much like what he had come to expect from Yoongi’s teasers on Twitter , this one had a heavy bass, and underneath the drums he could also hear something brass, though he was struggling to figure out if it was a saxophone or a trombone. He anticipated rapping, for Yoongi’s voice to suddenly drop right out of nowhere, and yet it turned out to just be an instrumental track. It sounded pretty good, but Jimin struggled to really know how a good song was from an instrumental alone, because he had no clue what it would sound like after vocals had been added to it. The vocals could ruin a good instrumental, or they could make a basic one sound great.

 

Yoongi had said that he sold compositions and lyrics for money, and as he listened to small samples of various files, Jimin could tell exactly which ones were his own demos, and which ones he was working on to sell for cash instead. He almost felt like he recognised the melody of one or two of them, but he was unable to put his finger on the songs that they might just have been used in right now. Quite a few of them were still works-in-progress, for they had yet to be fully cleaned up, and one or two that he opened were just single layers that he had saved for later use.

 

It took Jimin quite a few tracks until he managed to find one that caught his attention, because it was one that sounded so very soft and quiet, as opposed to Yoongi’s usual compositions. So, he sat back in the chair, his knees folded up in front of him and his head against the padded rest. Rather than stare up at the ceiling, he closed his eyes and listened to the gently tinkling keyboard keys and soft violins that were flowing from the headphones and filling his head until he felt almost like he was floating in the mellifluous notes.

 

This was the kind of composition that Yoongi was saving for someone good, for a singer that could sing powerful ballads rather than letting a company purchase it and give it to a potential idol band that wouldn’t give the song the grace that it deserved; and it was good. The composition was fantastic, and though Jimin was more than aware of the fact that Yoongi had skills, this track really helped him understand the true depth of this talent.

 

Yoongi was a rapper, and yet he could compose sweeping orchestral tracks on his trusty little controller that sounded like something Jimin could imagine playing in films. He could bark out lines about making money and being better than everyone else, whilst also making music that made his heart swell from the emotion that he could hear in every single note; the notes that had been played on the little black box in front of him.

 

Jimin opened his eyes to look at the controller, before unfolding one arm and giving the box a soft stroke. No wonder Yoongi loved his little bedroom studio, when he was able to make music like this on his keyboard and controller combination.

 

As soon as the track was finished, Jimin moved the mouse to the toolbar and he clicked on it several times, rearranging the files in order of newest to oldest. He wanted to listen to the last thing that Yoongi had been working on, just for the sake of it. After closing the little composition that they had made earlier, laughing softly to himself as he did so, Jimin double-clicked on the following file and waited for the next series of beats to start playing.

 

Except, Yoongi’s voice suddenly started playing from the headphones, a low and husky mumble rather than a powerful rap, and Jimin furrowed his brow as he stared at the lazily dancing equaliser on the screen.

 

Uh, it’s…shit, it’s almost 5:30am right now. I can see the sunlight coming in through my window and yet, here I am, working on this fucking track even when I said - no, this’ gotta stop,” Yoongi said, his voice echoing ever so slightly because there was no music playing underneath him, and he had yet to edit the file to reduce the feedback and acoustics.

 

When Jimin turned his head to look out of the bedroom window, he saw nothing but evening blackness out of the small space. But in an hour or two, it might just start growing light outside, so that the black turned deep blue and then various hues of purple. As he studied the sky, Yoongi carried on mumbling on the audio file, his voice heavy with exhaustion.

 

I said that I’d stop it but then I couldn’t sleep, and when I can’t sleep, well…that’s when I start thinking about it all, and about this track. I thought that I’d let go of this shit, but it’s stuck to me, or in me. Like fucking cancer or something, I dunno, I just…

 

There was a series of clicks and then muffled music started playing from the file, an aggressive and deep bass that might have been playing from his phone, his controller, or even the computer as he recorded himself. Jimin heard the leather creaking as he shifted in the chair, followed by a soft rustling sound that was either his clothes or his fingers running through his hair, and he wondered what exactly this was that he was listening to.

 

A demo, perhaps?

 

It most certainly wasn’t a basic composition piece like the other files that he had listened to, nor was it a more polished up track with lyrics that Yoongi might drop at hip hop clubs or even as a single, should he finally decide to do such a thing. It was almost like a…diary of sorts, one that Yoongi was dictating to his computer rather than writing down in his notebook, and he wondered how many other files in the folder were like this too.

 

Yoongi took a sharp intake of breath on the recording, the sound making Jimin’s bare arms and legs suddenly break out into goosebumps; a frisson running through him just like it had when he had watched him perform onstage a few nights ago.

 

“‘I’ve been living a lie, so, I think I better come clean and admit all of the shit that I’ve been tryna keep low-key - ah! Down in Daegu’s where my heart and soul is, said I hit up Seoul drum up the busi-ness but, that ain’t nothing. Nah, that ain’t the truth, but can you blame me for lying after everything I’ve been through? I-I-I feel like I’m losing my fucking brain, insane; you wanna know how that feels? Lemme tell you, it feels like losing your first crew, D-Town - finished, I’m through, that’s what those fuckers said to me. Talking shit and grinning right back at me. Finished? I ain’t finished, now just listen to me’.

 

Yoongi paused for a moment to catch his breath, clearly needing to do so after that blistering verse.

 

Jimin was still trying to process his words from that first verse because they had caught him by complete surprise; a whirlwind of Korean and English words spewing out of the other man’s mouth at a quick speed. The speed might just have been the rhythm that Yoongi had wanted for the track, but to him, it felt more like the words had just spilled out of him too fast for him to try and control.

 

“‘Shit, I really think that I’m losing my brain and I-’ no, no, that ain’t it, no.

 

The music stopped suddenly with a loud clicking sound, and Jimin could hear him shifting in his seat with a soft groan. He could picture the other man cupping his head in his hands in frustration, perhaps tugging at his beanie hat or maybe even his hair, though he had yet to actually see said hair.

 

…‘really think that I’m losing my brain, wondering if…if anyone could ever feel the same’… Same? Brain? Mmm, that’s better, I might write that shit down tomorrow,” he mumbled under his breath, before coughing the rather familiar rattling cough of someone that really needed to cut back on the cigarettes. “‘Wondering if anyone could ever feel the same - way, I do’.

 

Yoongi stopped again, letting the music resume playing as he either waited for another section to rap to, or because he was thinking of what to rap. For all Jimin knew, this might just have been a freestyle demo, or a rehearsal of some kind, but he didn’t think that it was.

 

This sounded like the raw outpourings of a restless mind and troubled heart, and it seemed like Yoongi was using this ‘track’ as a way to try and handle something that was angering or upsetting him.

 

“Mmm, vague,” Yoongi mumbled, a clucking sound that might just have been his tongue pressing against his cheek coming through the headphones. “Vague enough to mean a lot of shit, I guess. Maybe it’s better that way? Maybe…

 

Jimin listened to his momentary silence on the recording, his eyes instinctively rolling over to look at the open bedroom doorway whilst he waited for Yoongi to carry on talking. A quick glance at the screen showed him that there was still some time left on the file, so that meant that the rapper must resume talking or rapping at some point. After what felt like forever, he finally muttered something.

 

Maybe I should just drop this fucking track and move on. I ain’t ever gonna play this shit to anyone; so, what’s the fucking point? Huh?

 

Jimin almost felt like he should say something even when he knew that it was just a recording, purely because it felt like the right thing to do. But what could he have even said to Yoongi, had he have been sitting in front of him rapping right now rather than just on an old recording? There was nothing that he really could say, for he had no clue what he was even rapping about. It was clearly something personal, however, and he felt that he should probably close the audio file rather than continue listening to it.

 

But before Jimin could move the mouse to do so, Yoongi started rapping on the recording again, his voice catching him by total surprise.

 

“‘Gloss’ a fucking…’ no, not that, it ain’t…ain’t vague,” he said, taking a quick intake of breath and waiting for the next beat to give it another shot. “They said I should quit it, man, “Gloss ain’t hot shit”. Huh? Then why’d they get me to mix all of their ‘hot shit’? Huh?! Playing games, y’know that I didn’t buy your bullshit. Huh?! I know I lost you dickbags when you first called me a fuh-fuh-fah-

 

Yoongi suddenly stopped, his breathing ragged and not just from his rapping. No, Jimin could hear something in it, a whistling reediness that made each intake of air sound more like a gasp, and after a moment, the music cut off with a series of clicks.

 

It’s 5:46am, I’m shutting this shit down, and tomorrow morning, I’m deleting this fucking track. I’m done. I don’t need this, ain’t no one that needs this.

 

Just like that, the recording ended abruptly, and Jimin moved the mouse to close the file before sitting back in his seat. All that he could do was stare at the screen blankly, his mind racing with thoughts and yet none of them lingering long enough for him to concentrate on. There were so many things that he was trying to take in, but he was too tired to possibly understand what he had just listened to.

 

Yoongi had lost his first crew from Daegu: D-Town? Had he lost them; or had he actually been dropped by them, for reasons that he hadn’t specified but might just have done so, had the track have lasted that little bit longer?

 

Yoongi, who told him that the guys in Flow always talked shit about him, and seemed to have many complexities hidden away underneath his quiet and unassuming surface.

 

Jimin slipped the headphones free and he gently placed them down on the desk, turning his head to look at the open doorway again. Before he could help himself, he lowered his feet back down to the floor so that he could get out of the seat and he moved across the bedroom to lean around the doorway.

 

Just like earlier, he saw that Yoongi was curled up on the sofa, still buried under the blanket with his breath escaping him in soft snores. The other man was deeply asleep at least, which meant that he wasn’t sitting up until 5:30am working on tracks like that; tracks that seemed to give him just as much distress as they might just bring him relief.

 

So, Jimin decided that it was about time that he tried to sleep too. He had listened to some of his compositions in the hopes of distracting his restless mind, but all that he had done was give himself something else to worry over. But he still went back over to the bed and lay down in it again, tossing the covers over himself as he rolled onto his side with a heavy sigh. His gaze settled on the window, and so he stared at it until his eyelids grew too heavy to keep open and he finally drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

The alarm on his phone went off at 9:30am, startling Jimin out of his light slumber until he managed to drop his arm over the side of the bed and fumble for his jeans. The alarm was so loud that it probably woke Yoongi up too, and he let out a weak whine as he fiddled with the device and tried to turn the alarm off. After a moment, he managed to do so, and he dropped his phone onto the mattress and then rolled onto his back so that he could rub at his eyes roughly and force them open.

 

Jimin sat up with a series of soft grunts, dropping his head forward and closing his eyes. His neck was stiff, his shoulders were too, and he needed to loosen his tight muscles by stretching. But he didn’t want to move. His eyelids were still heavy and swollen, and keeping them open seemed much too hard right now, and his mouth was dry in a way that he hated.

 

Before he could doze off again, Jimin forced himself to lift his head and look at his phone screen again. The notifications were all Twitter related, and he scrolled through them quickly before dragging himself out Yoongi’s bed. He could make some coffee, he supposed, just to wet his tongue and wake himself up before he had to get ready to leave. The other man might just appreciate his first mug of coffee of the day to caffeinate his veins too.

 

So, Jimin tottered across the bedroom as he massaged at the back of his neck, and as he stepped through the open doorway he found himself freezing in surprise at the sight of the empty sofa. He ran his eyes over the messy blanket and wrinkled pillow for a few seconds, and then he finally located the other man out of the corner of his eye.

 

Yoongi was perched on the slight windowsill across the room, clad in just his massive tee-shirt from yesterday and either a pair of briefs or boxers, Jimin didn’t really know. His head was resting against the wall, his eyes were closed and his lips were slack, and there was a cigarette stick caught between his thumb and forefinger. The length was resting over his other fingers, and the ash on the end might just drop down and burn him if he didn’t dab it free soon.

 

The window was open a crack, to ensure that the cigarette smoke floated right out of it instead of circulating around the tiny apartment room, and Jimin shifted to lean against the door frame for a moment to watch him.

 

Yoongi opened his eyes after several seconds, struggling to keep them open as he dabbed the ash out of the open window and then stuck the end of the stick into his mouth. He pursed his lips around it, taking a deep drag that he held in his lungs and then breathed out of his nose in a soft huff, his expression content and calm. His gaze was focused out of the window, but after a moment he seemed to notice that he was lingering in the bedroom doorway, for his sleepy eyes rolled to look over at him.

 

“Um, good morning, Yoongi,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, lifting his hand to tinkle his fingers at him in a rather awkward wave.

 

“Oh, I didn’t know you were awake,” Yoongi mumbled, stubbing the cigarette out with his fingers again to keep the remains, and shoving it behind his ear just like yesterday. “Good morning, Jimin.”

 

Unlike yesterday, however, his beanie hat was nowhere in sight, which meant that he could see his pitch-black and messy hair. It looked to perhaps fall across his brow, had it have not been hidden under a hat all day long, and so it was now mostly still raked back off his face save for several thick locks that were hanging forward in a kinked mess. His hair wasn’t the only newly revealed thing, though, for his lower arms and legs were also bare.

 

“Yoongi…you don’t have any tattoos?” Jimin half-asked, half-stated, eyeing his lightly tanned arms and seeing nothing more than skin; not a single tattoo present, not even on his inner elbow, wrist, or along his forearm.

 

“Huh?” Yoongi hummed, reaching up to finish ruffling at his sleep-messy hair as he struggled to get his eyes to open. “What’d you say?”

 

“I just noticed the fact that that you don’t have tattoos,” Jimin repeated as he moved to draw closer him, his gaze still focused on his thin arms as he tried to find one hidden away out of immediate sight. “Not any I can see, anyway. Do you have one?”

 

“Nope,” he said as he wet his lips.

 

“Really? You don’t have a single tattoo?”

 

“Mmm, oh, yeah, that’s weird, huh?” Yoongi mumbled sleepily as he left his hand in place against his neck and studied him through his eyelashes. “No tats, it’s like I ain’t even a rapper; right?”

 

“Yeah, some guys in the clubs would say that,” Jimin remarked, being entirely serious with him. “I’ve never met a rapper without one, even the newbies. It’s…surprising, not weird. I’ve never seen your arms or legs before, so, I just always assumed that you’d have one or two tattoos hidden away like everyone else. But you’re not like the other rappers, after all.”

 

This made Yoongi’s lip curl up at the corners in a lazy smile as he dropped his hand back down to his lap, his half-smoked and slightly crumpled cigarette sticking out from behind his ear. Jimin noted that his gaze shifted to look at his own bare arms and legs, as if he was searching for a tattoo on his body. He wouldn’t find one, not even a little one that he hid away because it was an embarrassing mistake that he regretted.

 

“…Coffee?” Jimin asked out of the blue, cocking his head in the direction of the kitchen-area.

 

Yoongi hummed at this, shifting to get off the windowsill. His tee-shirt shifted to flash a hint of his underwear, baby blue coloured briefs that hugged his crotch snugly.

 

Jimin dragged his eyes away from his revealed upper thighs, staring at the kettle instead as he moved to grab it and filled it up from the sink. Then he set it to boil, listening to the other man toddling into his bathroom so that he could relieve himself. By the time that he was pouring the hot water into the mugs, Yoongi stepped into the main-area again with a loud yawn.

 

“Milk milk milk,” he mumbled in a little mantra, dragging the fridge door open to grab a little glass bottle of milk. “You take milk, right?”

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin said with a nod, stirring at both mugs with a spoon and breathing in the strong and aromatic scent of coffee. “Do you have any sugar?”

 

“Uh…” Yoongi dragged out as he placed the milk bottle down on the counter, shifting to grab a container and uncapping it to reveal several little packets of sugar at the bottom. “Yeah, just a little though.”

 

“That’s good enough for me,” he said, grabbing two of the packets and tearing them open, sprinkling the sugar into his mug and stirring at it. Then he grabbed the bottle of milk too, uncapping it and catching sight of Yoongi eyeing him with a curious expression. “What?”

 

“How can you take coffee like that?” he asked, seemingly more intrigued than disgusted.

 

“Well, I like the taste more when it’s sweet,” Jimin remarked, adding a splash of milk into his mug and watching the medium brown mixture turning into a light and creamy shade. “I only drink coffee black when I physically need something to keep me awake, otherwise, I like it sweet.”

 

“You drink coffee for reasons other than to keep you awake?” Yoongi joked, retrieving the glass bottle to lift it up and take a swig of the milk. As he knocked it back, he accidentally dribbled some out of the corner of his mouth, spilling it down his chin so that it started soaking into his tee-shirt.

 

Yoongi,” Jimin said disapprovingly, not only because he had made a mess but because he had also drank from the bottle.

 

“Huh? The milk needs to be used by tomorrow,” Yoongi mumbled, wiping at his chin roughly with the back of his hand. “I just wanted a little sip, is all.”

 

For some reason, this childish mumble made Jimin laugh softly as he grabbed the two mugs off the counter and crossed the room to get to the sofa. Yoongi had left the pillow and blanket on the sofa, and so he sat down on the messy blanket and folded his legs to the side on the cushion, settling down comfortably. There was just enough room for them both to fit onto the sofa, though Yoongi had to sit facing him and tuck his own legs up in the slight space between them.

 

Yoongi accepted the mug from him with mumbled thanks, holding it under his face so that he could breathe in the scent deeply. The scent of cigarettes was still coming from his clothing in soft wafts whenever he moved, and he tugged down on the ends of his tee-shirt several times, covering his underwear in a strangely modest fashion. Jimin’s own briefs were on blatant display, but he felt no need to cover them because they were already covering his nudity, after all.

 

“Did you sleep OK, Yoongi? You look like you did,” Jimin asked, just for the sake of starting a light conversation with him.

 

“Uh, yeah, I did sleep, thanks to that somaek,” Yoongi replied with a slight grimace, lowering his mug and wrapping his hands around it. “What about you, huh? Did you sleep alright? The bed ain't too hard, is it?”

 

“Um, not really, I was too nervous about today to really sleep,” Jimin explained, which was actually pretty truthful. It was one of the reasons why he had been unable to sleep, and Yoongi didn’t need to know the other reason why. “But your bed was very comfortable, so, next time that I crash here, you’ll have to fight me for it.”

 

This made Yoongi gulp down a mouthful of hot coffee, almost choking on it in his surprise as he let out a guffaw. Oh, his cheeks went such a vivid shade of pink as he clapped a hand against his mouth to stifle his coughs, that Jimin could feel his own cheeks growing warm for some reason. The other man’s lips moved as he tried to say something in return to this, his mouth opening and closing several times until he let out another guffaw because he seemed incapable of speaking.

 

“Uh, yeah,” Yoongi mumbled after a moment. “Yeah, sure, but I ain’t gonna fight you for it, Jimin. I’ll stick to the sofa instead, just for you.”

 

Jimin thought this over as he swallowed his first mouthful of coffee, which was milky and sweet just the way that he liked it. He knew that he should say something, to resume their lighthearted conversation, and yet there was something playing at the back of his mind that he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about.

 

That stupid track.

 

Should he tell Yoongi about the fact that he had listened to his compositions, or would that potentially annoy or upset the other man? Yoongi had wanted to show him the compositions to impress him, but he had offered to play them to him rather than let him browse his files, so that he could select his own choices - the best of the best. Had he have played some tracks to him, Jimin knew that he most certainly would have avoided playing him the heartfelt and raw confessional track that he had accidentally stumbled across last night.

 

As Jimin studied the other man’s face, he waited for a sign of some kind, something to tell him if he should confess or just keep it a secret for now, but it was pretty hard reading Yoongi’s expressions sometimes. He didn’t seem to give much away at all, especially not when he was just sipping at his coffee and drifting in his own lazy morning thoughts.

 

But Yoongi clearly noticed his gaze, for he lifted his own eyes to glance at him for a moment, imploring him to break their momentary silence.

 

“You OK?” Yoongi asked, lowering his mug and studying him with something that looked like concern. “Is it the feature, huh? Are you worried about it that much? Or, is it something else?”

 

“Oh, um, yeah, I’m a little bit worried about the track but that’s to be expected. My throat feels good, I’m sure that when I warm up, I’ll be good to go, Yoongi.”

 

“It ain’t nothing to worry about, Jimin,” Yoongi stated in a matter of fact voice, peeling one hand off of his mug so that he could reach up and mess at his terribly unruly hair. “You’ve sang on stages in front of people in the clubs, and that’s a hell of a lot scarier than recording a song. You did it with Killuh already; so, what’re you worrying for? You got this shit down, yeah?”

 

“I know, but I actually like the guy that I’m singing with today,” Jimin remarked wryly, which made him snort laughter. “But thank you for the concern, Yoongi, that’s very kind of you.”

 

“Don’t mention it, yeah?”

 

The apartment room fell quiet at this, neither one of them feeling the need to break the silence as they drank their morning coffee and slowly fought off the residual fogginess of their sleep.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but look at Yoongi as he did so, finding it pretty strange that he could see his hair and skin today at last - his beanie hat and jacket lying on the floor with his crumpled jeans right at their feet. It was such a small thing, but it seemed so much more significant to him right now.

 

Jimin seemed unable to shake the idea that not many people got to see Yoongi in this kind of state, if anyone did. The rapper had an appearance to keep up at the hip hop clubs of course, and that meant that he probably went out dressed up like that every single night. It was his costume of choice, his superhero suit that he slipped into when he was ready to showcase his skills to the world, and it was also his armour in a way. It kept him safe from disses and insults, from hate and aggression, and it let him go out onstage every few nights and carrying on fighting.

 

Yoongi hid his real self away underneath his superhero suit just like the other rappers hid behind their faüx personas, because it was how the scene worked. Designer jackets, artistic pseudonyms, gold chains and designer watches - it was all necessary.

 

Yoongi wasn’t D-boy, and D-boy wasn’t Yoongi either. D-boy went out onstage to stunt and blow everyone away with his relentless flow; and Yoongi stayed up all night, smoking and recording vulnerable tracks that he would never rap to anyone but his computer.

 

Jimin finished his coffee first, sparing a quick glance at a small clock hanging by the door as he moved to place the empty mug down on the coffee table.

 

“I’ve gotta head out soon, to get to the studio in time. I, um, I guess that I should tell you who I’m featuring with now, huh? Do you know Andre? The solo singer, on Moon Media?”

 

“Wait…Andre?” Yoongi repeated, lowering his mug and staring at him in something that looked like surprise.

 

“Yeah, he’s the artist that wants to sing with me. Can you believe it?” Jimin gushed, unable to help himself because he was still so shocked by this fact himself. “I was gonna keep it a secret until after the song was recorded, just to be safe, but…oh, I don’t know, I just have a really good feeling about today right now. So, I thought that I’d tell you, but you’ve got to promise to keep it a secret, OK?”

 

Jimin gave him a wide grin at this, unable to keep his excitement off his face. But Yoongi just stared at him with that same bewildered expression, his eyes round and his lips slack, and it was enough to make his grin falter at the corners.

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, reaching up to touch his earring and fiddling with it anxiously. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

 

“Jimin, I, uh, I produced his last single,” Yoongi said in a voice barely above a whisper, his gaze flickering between his face and his mug of coffee as he did so. “Andre’s last single - ‘love music part II’ - I produced it.”

 

“…Are you being serious with me right now, Yoongi?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, his fingers pausing in the act of tugging at his earring as he stared at the other man.

 

Rather than reply, Yoongi moved to place his empty mug down on the table, getting to his feet with a soft grunt so that he could cross the apartment room. Jimin stayed on the sofa for a moment, but after the other man gestured for him to follow him with a wave of his hand, he got upright and moved into the bedroom after him.

 

Yoongi went straight over to his computer, not even glancing at it as he got up onto tiptoe to grab something off of the shelving unit on the wall above it. Jimin saw that it was a CD, which had been stacked with a bunch of other CDs, and he got a quick glance at the cover to see a very familiar sight indeed.

 

Yoongi held the CD out to him in offering, and so Jimin accepted it from him. He saw that it was most certainly Andre’s second single - ‘love music part II’, for he recognised the front cover because it was the exact same one as the digital track cover that was on his phone right now. It was a photograph of Andre out in a field of yellowing grass, his arms held out at his sides and his head thrown back to show a hint of his face from underneath the wide brim of his hat. His eyes were closed, his expression was serene, and he was wearing a massive woollen coat over a sharp cut suit, and he looked incredibly handsome.

 

Jimin looked between the CD and Yoongi for a moment, before deciding to open it to check the inside. Right there on the album photo booklet, scrawled on a yellow sticky note in neat calligraphic characters, was the simple message:

 

To, Yoongi! (or should I say D-boy now?)

 

Thanks for the hard work and dedication, just like always! You’re going to break out of the underground scene soon, if you keep working on those tracks that you played me. Ever need someone to drop in on a track, call me! It’ll be just like old times again!

 

Hyukkie

 

“Oh, wow,” Jimin sighed out, as he quickly flicked through the booklet to eye the glossy photographs of the singer and found the lyrics section. “Yoongi, this is…”

 

There, in the credits underneath the title for ‘2 much’, he could see the name ‘D-boy’ listened alongside another that he recognised because it was ‘Seoulja’ - a pretty well-known producer and composer of idol songs. A quick look at the credits for the four other songs showed him that Yoongi’s artistic pseudonym kept popping up on production, mixing, and even lyric credits. It was enough to make him lower the CD to look over at the other man, his mouth hanging open rather dumbly.

 

“Why didn’t…why didn’t you tell me that you worked with him?” Jimin asked, flicking through the photographs again slowly as he tried to process this new and rather shocking fact. “Yoongi, Andre; you produced a single for Andre and I’m just - wow, OK. Wow.”

 

“Well, I didn’t wanna brag,” Yoongi mumbled as he scratched at his elbow. “We, uh, we go back to when he was still playing clubs down in Daegu when we were kids, y’know? I used to help compose tracks for him to sing over, pretty basic shit like a bass and minimal instruments, nothing too fancy. So, after he started getting solid tracks down for M&M up here in Seoul, he called me up and said that he wanted me to produce the single for him. He had to fight with his manager to get me on the single. But they said that I did a great job on it, said that they’d consider letting me to do it again for future releases.”

 

“Yoongi, listen-” Jimin closed the CD so that he could lightly wave it in front of him for emphasis. “This single? This single, right here, has been on my daily playlist since the night that it dropped. It’s one of the best singles of the year so far, seriously, and now you’re telling me that you fucking produced it?!”

 

“I told you, I didn’t wanna brag.”

 

“Why not?! Oh my god, Yoongi, I’d be telling everyone about the fact that I produced it, even strangers on the subway! Why didn’t you brag about it? You deserve to, trust me, you really deserve to brag about it.”

 

“‘Cos I wanted to impress you into working with me in a different way, by showing you my dedication to my music and to you and your skills as a singer,” Yoongi explained as he reached over to take the single out of his hands. “If I’d have broken this out, if I’d have bragged about it like a-a corporate fat cat, then you might’ve wanted to work with me solely ‘cos of credits on a hit single, and not ‘cos of me as an artist and…I dunno, I just thought that it seemed a little…”

 

Yoongi sighed heavily at this, eyeing the cover of the CD before he moved to slip it back onto the shelf above his computer. There was a sense coming off him that he wanted to say more, that he wanted to explain himself better, but he didn’t seem capable of finding the right words currently.

 

Jimin turned to eye the shelf for a moment, seeing other CDs that Yoongi had also worked on, and then he found his own words spilling free.

 

“Yoongi, I knew that I really wanted to work you right around the time that I looked at your studio,” he explained in a quiet voice, twisting his thumb ring around slowly. “I did, and…when you were asleep last night, I decided to listen to a couple of your demos on your computer and-”

 

“Huh?” Yoongi hummed, giving him a hard to read expression.

 

“and that helped me make up my mind. You totally wanted me to listen to them,” Jimin mumbled out rapidly, hoping to distract away from this topic so that the other man wouldn’t figure out just how many of his tracks that he had listened to. “You left your computer turned on, so that I didn’t even need to worry about the password. Hell, you left the fucking music programme open just for me, Yoongi!”

 

At this, Yoongi turned his head away, but not before he caught sight of the rather sheepish smirk on his lips that showed him that he had been right. Yes, the other man had wanted him to listen to his tracks last night, so that he could impress him with them instead of his producer credits.

 

“You wanted me to listen, and so I did so,” Jimin finished as he moved that little bit closer to him, his fingers still playing with his thumb ring. “Yoongi, you can brag about whatever you want to now, because I’m gonna feature on a track for you; OK?”

 

“…OK,” Yoongi mumbled in a soft voice, rubbing at his nose roughly and turning back to him.

 

“And that’s a promise,” he added, just for the sake of it. “I won’t break that promise, I swear that I won’t.”

 

“I take your world for it, Jimin, I trust you.”

 

“So, you know Andre personally,” Jimin remarked as he turned his head to glance up at the shelf again, thinking about the message inside of the CD. “You know what this means, right?”

 

“Huh? No, what’s it mean?”

 

“It means that you’ve gotta come to the studio with me today,” he finished with a wide grin, dropping his gaze to see the completely dumbstruck expression on the other man’s face.

 

“Huh? What- no, no, Jimin, I shouldn’t do that,” Yoongi stammered out as he shook his head and avoided his eyes awkwardly. “You’ve got a song to record and I don’t wanna intrude on it like that, I-”

 

“Come on, you’ve gotta come to the studio with me! You’ve gotta!” he demanded, grabbing hold of Yoongi’s forearm and giving it a playful tug. “Just to see him again, to talk and catch up and all that!”

 

“I dunno, Jimin, I-”

 

“Come on,” Jimin almost whined, cocking his head and giving the other man something that bordered on a pout. “Do it for me, Yoongi.”

 

“For…for you?” Yoongi repeated, his thick eyebrows grazing against his messy hairline.

 

“Yeah, for me! I’m gonna work with you on a track, just like you want me to. So, come to the studio with me; please? I’ve never met a guy like Andre before, I’m nervous! He’s, like, my idol or something, and he’s gorgeous, Yoongi! I’m so nervous about meeting him!”

 

Yoongi shifted from foot to foot at this, letting his breath out in little mutters and sighs as he stalled for as long as he could. Surprisingly, he hadn’t reacted to the remark about Andre being ‘gorgeous’, for it had just spilled out of Jimin’s lips without much thought at all. Either, he hadn’t heard it, he had ignored it, or he didn’t care in the slightest. It was most likely the first thing, because Yoongi was so distracted worrying over this situation to really pay his words too much attention.

 

“Please?”

 

“Uh…OK,” Yoongi mumbled, his gaze glued to the flooring rather than lifting to hold his eyes. “I’ll go with you, but I dunno if I can even hang around, Jimin, so-”

 

Jimin made an excited sound at this, and before he could help himself, he moved to throw his arms around Yoongi’s upper arms and tugged him into a quick hug. The contact made the rapper seize up instantly, his shoulders shooting up to almost brush against his ears and his breath escaping him in a shocked grunt.

 

“Oh-OK,” Yoongi breathed out, his entire body stiff in his hold until he released him again a moment later. “That was, uh…”

 

“Thank you so much, Yoongi! Seriously, thank you so much!” he gushed as he tried to not tremble too much from his excitement. “I feel so better now! Like, I can feel my nerves melting away, it’s crazy!”

 

Yoongi didn’t reply to this, for he seemed to have come over mute all of a sudden, and his face looked as flushed as it had last night after his glass of somaek.

 

“Oh, I’ve gotta get dressed,” Jimin muttered as he ran his hands through his still sleep messy hair. “Shit, I don’t have clean clothes, I didn’t even think about this last night, I was that distracted. Oh god, where are my jeans?!”

 

As he shifted to grab his jeans from the flooring beside the bed, Yoongi moved over to his wardrobe to presumably retrieve his own clothes for the day.

 

“Hang on, you can borrow one of my tee-shirts; if you want? I’d offer you some jeans too, but I don’t think that mine would fit you,” he offered, reaching inside of the wardrobe to rifle through it for a moment, before retrieving a white tee-shirt and holding it out to him. “Is this OK?”

 

“It’s fine, thanks,” Jimin said as he tugged his used tee-shirt off over his head and accepted it from him. He dropped it onto the floor without a single care, and then he studied the fresh tee-shirt logo curiously. “Can I use your shower, just to freshen up?”

 

“Sure…sure thing,” Yoongi mumbled, turning back to stare at his wardrobe but making no move to reach inside and actually pull anything free. “Uh, if you leave your, uh, your briefs in the hamper, I can clean ‘em for you? Y’know, with your tee-shirt? I mean, I’d offer you some fresh underwear too, but I don’t think that you’re that desperate.”

 

“Ha~ The tee-shirt is fine, thank you, Yoongi,” Jimin said with a quick smile as he moved to leave the bedroom. “I’ll only be a couple of minutes!”

 

Just like the previous night, Jimin relieved himself and then he hastily brushed his teeth and washed his face. He slipped his earrings and thumb ring free before getting into the shower, leaving them on the rim of the sink. He ran the shower hot and hard, waited for it to heat up, and then he jumped under the scorching stream to get cleaned up. He used the same of block of soap as last night to do so, but he had to steal a little of Yoongi’s shampoo to fully clean his hair free from old styling gel. It smelled like coconut and it was very foamy, and so he enjoyed lathering it and then washing it away under the hot stream as he happily hummed under his breath.

 

Upon exiting the shower and gently patting his skin dry, Jimin had to slip into his used jeans, and so he was thankful for the fact that Yoongi had been gracious enough to let him borrow one of his tee-shirts for the day. He wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of showing up to a recording session with his current favourite singer and idol wearing day-old clothing and looking like he had slept rough, but at least the clean tee-shirt and his skin smelled fresh, so…that was a bonus. Though he had left his used tee-shirt on the bedroom flooring, he made sure to shove his briefs into the laundry hamper, officially going commando for the day.

 

Rather than fully towel-dry his hair, Jimin just squeezed the excess water out of it and then he raked it back off his brow to keep it in place, seeing as Yoongi had no hair gel or styling mould at all in his bathroom. He shoved his thumb ring back on, secured his dangling cross earrings in place, and then he exited the bathroom at last.

 

Yoongi darted into the bathroom after him, also wanting to get cleaned up as fast as he could so that they weren’t late for his session.

 

Whilst he waited for him to do so, Jimin unwrapped a lollipop and shoved it into his mouth, sucking on the tart apple treat as he collected the rubbish together for him and cleaned their mugs in the sink. He made sure to slip into his parka and coloured sunglasses too, and he checked his pockets before going back into the bedroom to grab his phone and a handful of lollipops - which he shoved inside of the spacious pockets.

 

Yoongi emerged from the bathroom fully dressed several minutes later, in rather distressed jeans, a massive black tee-shirt that swamped his slight frame, and he was in the act of tugging a blouson on. It was black polyester with two skulls on either side of the chest, and a thick stripe of white pinstriping down the outer sleeve, presumably designer. In his fist, there was a thick knit black beanie hat too.

 

Yoongi brushed his damp hair back off his face, tugging the beanie down just like usual to keep it hidden and reveal his rounded face and thick eyebrows. There was rather smudged smears of something that looked like eyeliner present even after his shower, but he had made no move to try and wash it all free, and he had smeared a little something on his mouth that looked glossy to his eyes.

 

Jimin had never even noticed the little hint of eyeliner when they had been in the club and the convenience store together, because he had just thought that Yoongi’s thick spray of eyelashes had made his eyes look rounded. But now that he could see smudged eyeliner, he realised that he had in fact been wearing makeup this entire time.

 

Did any of the rappers in the clubs wear makeup?

 

Jimin couldn’t recall any that did - save for the female MCs, that was, but he had a penchant for wearing it sometimes too. Well, Yoongi took care of his appearance even when he was rather casual about it, for he had seen the amount of bathing products that he had packed onto his shower wall, and so it made sense that he might wear a little makeup too.

 

“Gimme a minute,” the older man mumbled as he dropped to grab his sneakers and slipped one foot into them, grabbing the laces to try and neaten the knots. He had a funny little habit of looping the laces around the back of his sneakers, pulling them tight to knot the laces at the front and keep his jeans tucked in place, rather than simply knotting them into loose bows.

 

Jimin had already tugged his own boots on a moment ago so that they could leave the second that Yoongi was ready. He watched him getting into his sneakers, and when he straightened again, he moved to unlock the door so that they could leave the apartment room.

 

“Wait.”

 

Jimin stopped in the act of pulling the door open to look at him, and Yoongi reached over to start touching his damp hair. A few locks had fallen free to curl over his brow like commas, and he was slicking them back with the rest for him.

 

“You look like you just rolled outta bed,” Yoongi remarked, giving him a soft smile as he finished raking at his hair for him. “Wet hair’s your thing, huh?”

 

“I usually have gel on hand but I had no choice this morning, wet was the best option,” he replied with a lopsided smile. “Why don’t you have any styling products, huh? Do you just live in those beanies and snapbacks?”

 

“It’s a good thing,” Yoongi mumbled. “It’s a good look, I mean. You look like you should be in some smokey bar in dim lighting or shit, uh, crooning something soulful, maybe something jazzy. I like it. You look too good for the clubs, is what I’m trying to say.”

 

“You think that I look good?” Jimin asked around the lollipop stick, this remark catching him by surprise.

 

“You look too good for the clubs, Jimin,” Yoongi repeated, reaching over to grab the door handle so that he could pull it open for them both.

 

Several minutes later, they were both stepping into a train carriage so that they could travel across the capital to get to Gangnam-gu again. The journey was going to take the same amount of time as yesterday, just over half an hour spent in the two carriages and some more time waiting on the platforms. Jimin figured out that they were going to get to the district with enough time to locate the company building and not be late for his first recording session. So, they settled down on the far seat of the purple Line 5 carriage and waited for it to start rumbling forward.

 

Jimin’s phone battery was pretty low, and so he decided to not shove an earphone in to listen to music for the journey. Yoongi retrieved his own phone to quickly check his notifications, and then he unravelled his earphones so that he could shove one into his ear. He held the other earphone out to him in offering, and when Jimin accepted it and placed it in his ear, he heard vintage hip hop beats pounding through the little speaker. He secured it in place and settled comfortably on the seat, shifting a little closer to him as to not stretch the wire too much.

 

“Hey, Yoongi?” he asked in a quiet voice, taking advantage of the fact that the train was still stationary to talk to him.

 

“Mmm?”

 

“Why don’t you have a tattoo?” Jimin asked, turning his head to study him intently.

 

“Shit, you’re still hung up on that?” Yoongi asked with an amused smirk, his own eyes rolling to meet his. “Does it matter that I ain’t got a tat?”

 

“No, but since you told me all of that stuff about Andre, I just thought that you might be down for talking about that too,” Jimin replied with a soft shrug. “It’s nice listening to you talking, you’ve got a good way with words. So, I wanted to hear your thoughts on the whole tattoo thing, you know, if you thought that they were cool or if you think that they’re just for posers, or whatever.”

 

The carriage doors closed with a loud pneumatic hiss just a few feet away, and Yoongi took a moment to think his words over as he discreetly ran his eyes over the other passengers in the carriage. Jimin saw his tongue running along his inner cheek, slightly distending it as he finally turned his head to look at him.

 

“Tats are big decisions, yeah?” Yoongi said in a whisper-soft voice. “I know some people don’t think that, that they think that tats should be spur of the moment things ‘cos life’s about taking risks and all of that stupid reckless bullshit. The kinda people that think like that, they’ve got it made - they’ve got money, they’ve got stability, they’re normal people that think getting a tat is ‘crazy’ and ‘dope’ yeah? They ain’t ever had eyes staring at ‘em from across a room before, or had dirty looks aimed their way ‘cos they’re actually different…”

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, seeing the way that he stared down at his hands and avoided his gaze. “What do you mean?”

 

“Tats are big decisions, removing ‘em does more harm than good. I’m not ready for that kinda regret, yeah?” Yoongi finished, giving him a quick glance before looking back down at his hands again. “But if you like ‘em, if you wanna get one; go for it, Jimin.”

 

Jimin thought this over as he studied his profile, once more finding it so very hard to read his face. It seemed that Yoongi had perfected his ability to give the best poker face possible over his years spent performing in hip hop clubs, and he was utilising it on him right now. His brow was slightly furrowed and his lips were pursed, but his expression didn’t give off any outward waves of anger or discomfort, even when Jimin could detect something uncomfortable coming from him.

 

What exactly did Yoongi mean about being…different? Was this related to that track that he had stumbled upon, the one about his old crew and his worries about how he was going insane? Or was Jimin just assuming too much, and he should really stop thinking about the stupid track before he ended up blurting something out that he might regret?

 

After riding the Line 5 train, they had to jump the yellow Bundang Line to the other district. Unsurprisingly, Yoongi remained silent for the rest of their journey, focusing on the music that was blasting from his single earphone and occasionally giving him quick glances.

 

Upon exiting the subway system, Jimin had to double-check the address for Moon Media on his phone, taking hold of Yoongi’s forearm and guiding him across the district to get to Cheongdam-dong. The other man let him hold onto his arm, even when the streets weren’t too busy.

 

When they reached the Moon Media building, Jimin eyed the exterior in wonder just like he had the previous morning. The building was a massive rectangle of glass and blinding white concrete, and there were banners that advertised their artists hanging on the exterior that softly billowed in the slight breeze. There were hedges outside of the building, along with several benches, and the building had a very clean, fresh and professional feeling coming off it.

 

Despite having been inside of it once before, Jimin still felt rather strange going up the slight steps to enter the entertainment company building. He stepped in first, Yoongi right on his heel, and he eyed the entrance-area as he started fiddling with his thumb ring.

 

Perhaps sensing that he didn’t really know what to do, on account of the fact that Sooah wasn’t present to escort him through the building, Yoongi moved to go over to the reception desk and started talking to the woman sitting behind the tall counter.

 

“…uhuh, 11am, yeah,” he mumbled at her, reaching up to tug at his beanie hat whilst he leaned on the counter with his other arm. “Is he in the basement? Booth number three? Yeah, he likes number three the most. Thanks. Jimin?”

 

Yoongi moved to draw closer to him again, slipping a company pass around his neck and holding one out to him too. Jimin accepted it and slipped it around his own neck, and that was when the other man reached over to take hold of his hand and gently tugged him in the direction of the lift.

 

Jimin got to feel his dry and warm palm against his as he came to a stop in front of the lift and hit the button, pulling him inside of the carriage a moment later. He expected that he would let go of his hand after the doors shut with a soft swishing sound, and yet Yoongi just held on securely for the brief descent.

 

In the basement, much like Hellfire Trax, Jimin was to discover that there were several small recording booths. They were all separated by walls of thick wood and glass that were no doubt soundproofed, and each one had a sign on which a number and a sheet of paper was taped to. Yoongi guided him past the first two booths, which had various people inside sitting at the consoles and working away, and Jimin could only turn his head this way and that as he took it all in in wonder.

 

Booth three had a sheet of paper with ‘Andre’ on it stuck on the wooden door, signalling that the artist was using the booth to record in. Yoongi spared a quick look back over his shoulder at him, and then he stepped aside to let him push the heavy wooden door open so that they could enter the booth.

 

The booth interior was nice and spacious, the walls and flooring all light wood and the ceiling lights bright and warm rather than cold and sterile. There were the usual records hanging on the walls in frames, and the far left wall had two separate booths for recording vocals and instruments - a massive rounded mic hanging in the former and a drumkit and keyboard in the latter. All across the booth wall there was a massive console, several computer monitors hooked up to decks, and dozens of pieces of equipment like headphones scattered across it.

 

To the right of the room, there were two large sofas and a low table on which there were bottles of water, notebooks and stacks of paper, countless pens and a charging iPhone that was no doubt Andre’s; and at the far end there was a desk on which a laptop was placed. There was a large mirror set onto the wall above the laptop, so that Jimin could see himself in the reflection from across the room.

 

Sitting at the console currently, lounged in the chair with a pair of headphones on, was the other man. It took him a moment to realise that he had opened the booth door, and he turned his head to stare at him for a few seconds with a blank expression. Then he reached up to tug his headphones free and he dropped them onto the console as he got out of his seat.

 

Andre was currently dressed casually, but even then he looked pretty smart. He had a fitted black shirt on with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, paired with a pair of pinstripe trousers and leather loafers, and his black hair was parted at the side so that a messy little fall of locks fell down on over his brow. He had thick eyebrows and thin eyes, a delicately pointed nose and full lips, and his cheekbones and jawline were strong in a masculine fashion.

 

“Oh, hey, I was just checking over something that I got down earlier this morning,” Andre said with a warm smile, his voice smooth and husky and his accent most certainly hinting at him hailing from Daegu. It was subtle, but rather obvious to Jimin’s ears now that he knew that he and Yoongi had played around together in the underground Daegu scene. “It’s nice to meet you, Jimin.”

 

“Um, hello,” Jimin said with a nervous smile, dropping his head respectfully as he moved to stand inside of the booth properly. The door didn’t thump loudly behind him because Yoongi moved to hold it, lingering back for a moment whilst he introduced himself. “It’s so nice to meet you, Andre. I’m such a huge fan.”

 

“Ah, don’t tell me that or you’ll boost my ego,” Andre joked as he held his hand out to him in offering.

 

Jimin accepted his hand, cupping his elbow with his free hand respectfully and shaking thrice briskly. He was pretty certain that the other man was wearing a Rolex, just like the one that he was convinced that Yoongi owned, and he tried to not stare at it too much as he let go of his hand. He really wanted to look at him, but he found himself coming over so incredibly shy just standing in front of him.

 

“Did you bring a friend with you, huh?” the other man asked, shifting to look over his shoulder. “That’s cute, I know just how tiring recording sessions can be and-”

 

Andre stopped talking at this, and Jimin could see his expression falling slack for several seconds, because he was so shocked by the sight of Yoongi hovering in the doorway that he had been rendered speechless.

 

Oh my god!” Andre exclaimed in English, his face actually lighting up in something that looked like genuine happiness. “Is that really him? The boy from Daegu himself?”

 

When Jimin looked back over his shoulder at Yoongi, he saw that he had covered his face with one hand to woefully attempt to hide his embarrassed smile. His cheeks had also gone a startling shade of pink that he was unable to hide, however.

 

“Come here, man,” Andre declared as he moved to get closer to him, holding his hand out to him too. “How have you been, Yoongi? Have you been taking care of yourself?”

 

“The same as always - working hard, not sleeping, driving myself fucking crazy. You been back down to Daegu yet huh, Hyuk?” Yoongi asked as he released his hand and gave him a warm and fond smile.

 

“Ah, not yet,” he replied with a head shake. “I’ve been way too busy. Hey, remember, old man Pyo’s stand? He used to sell soju with chicken and octopus skewers hot enough to melt your face, and we always ended up there at 3am for some god unknown reason when we were finished with our studying?”

 

“It was cheap as shit, that’s why,” Yoongi retorted, his lips still curled up at the corners in that small but rather sweet smile of his. “You been craving that shit up here too? I ain’t found any skewers like that here, but I’ve tried my hardest to find some.”

 

“We have to go back there one day, Yoongi, just for a couple of days. Seoul’s great and all, don’t get me wrong, but Daegu…ah, you can take a guy out of Daegu, but you’ll never get Daegu out of his soul. Not even L.A. could get Daegu out of me, but it tried its hardest.”

 

For a moment, the recording studio fell silent, and Jimin took advantage of this to glance between them both. It was funny, for he had been so surprised to find out that they knew each other earlier, and the sight of them both standing together in front of him was even more surprising.

 

Andre was pretty tall, easily several inches taller than the both of them, and so Yoongi had to look up at him to hold his gaze. Yet Andre spoke to him in a way that showed great respect, deference almost, even when he might just be older than he was. Clearly, he greatly respected Yoongi an artist and a friend.

 

“So, how did you two meet?” Andre asked suddenly, glancing back at him, and so Jimin dragged his eyes away from Yoongi to hold his gaze. “I mean, I can’t even imagine how you both bumped into each other.”

 

“We met a hip hop club, do you know Flow?

 

“I know Flow, yes, I think most singers in this city know that club,” he replied with a slight smile.

 

“After a few nights talking together and watching him perform in the club, Yoongi asked me if I was interested in singing on a track for him,” Jimin continued as he looked between them both quickly. “Yoongi wants me to feature on a song in the future, so, I promised to do so. He’s just a…a fantastic musician. I’ve not worked with a rapper with half of his lyrical talent before, and his production and compositions are-”

 

“He’s hot stuff, right?” Andre finished for him, stopping him from gushing too much.

 

“Exactly!” he agreed with a vigorous nod. “We were playing around on his controller just last night, and watching him hitting the buttons and making actual beats in the space of seconds; it was just amazing. I listened to a couple of his compositions and I really wanna work with him, and I only found out that he produced your last single this morning when I told him that I was working with you.”

 

“He’s not a big fan of bragging,” the other man said, showcasing just how well he knew Yoongi.

 

“So, I begged him to come with me today, whilst we were working on your new single,” Jimin finished with a happy smile. “I, um, I think that it was a great idea. You two got to see each other again, and I feel a lot more relaxed too. When I’m nervous, I tend to clench a lot when I’m singing, it’s a bad habit, and I knew that having Yoongi present would make me feel less nervous.”

 

“It was a great idea, Jimin, thank you for talking him into it,” Andre agreed with a nod. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen him in person, and it’s always great recording when he’s around.”

 

“What’s the single called, huh?” Yoongi asked to break his momentary silence, standing close to the console and eyeing the various monitors.

 

“Well, after ‘love music part I and II’, I’m working on the final single for the concept. Can you guess the title, huh?”

 

“Um, ‘love music part III’?” Jimin guessed in a quiet voice, fiddling with his thumb ring.

 

“You got it!” Andre said with a quick smile. “The company’s planning on hyping this one up a little bit more. There’s an album coming up next and they want to ensure the single sells well, of course. They’re dropping a pre-release track in advance to drum up attention, so, I’ve been working on that one this morning  just for the sake of it and trying to get the keyboard down. I’ll probably record the whole single in just under a week and give it just a light mix, give them some time to figure out the pre-release and whatever - but I’m sure that it’s gonna be the one that I’ve been working on today. There’s only four songs on the single, after all. Then comes the full mixing process, of course.”

 

Jimin listened to him talking intently, not only because he admired him as an artist so much and he had such a lovely voice, but because he was greatly interested in what he was saying.

 

Andre played the keyboard on his own songs, and he clearly did some production and mixing judging from the fact that his booth was currently empty of any sound engineers to assist him. He found this absolutely fascinating, and he didn’t take his eyes off his face once as he listened to him talking.

 

“We’ll probably take a track or two off the three singles and put them on the full album, just for the hell of it. I think we’ll call it ‘the trilogy’, or maybe ‘love: the complete collection’ or something tacky like that,” Andre added, lifting his hands and sweeping them for emphasis as he spoke. “But basically, today we’re gonna work on ‘I like ya’, Jimin - the big title track.”

 

“Ha, yeah, the big track,” Jimin said with a quick laugh, just knowing that his nerves were audible in it.

 

“I’ve got my man, CJ, in on this as sound engineer. He helped me with recording earlier, and he’s taking a break right now. But now that my other man, D-boy’s in the building, I don’t need him to drop in again later,” Andre finished, shooting Yoongi a massive grin that had him snorting under his breath. “Goddamn, I never imagined that you would walk through that door today, man. Talk about a surprise, huh?”

 

“I, uh, I wasn’t gonna come today, but Jimin talked me into it,” Yoongi mumbled, rocking back and forth on his heels. “I thought it’d be best to leave you two to it, and not intrude, but…”

 

“Did you give him the puppy dog eyes?” Andre remarked as he turned his attention back to him, and Jimin couldn’t help but laugh at this. “Yes, you did. It’s his weakness, Jimin, remember this fact. It could come in handy in the future.”

 

“I’ll remember it,” Jimin said with a soft smile.

 

“OK, so now that we’ve all had a good gossip - it’s time to get to work. We’ve got the guide vocals down for ‘I like ya’. I’ve been playing around with some lines today, just nothing too serious,” Andre said as he moved to grab his phone from the table and unplugged it. “Listen to it on the laptop a couple of times, get a feel for the song.”

 

“Oh? OK.”

 

“Here’s your lyrics too,” Andre added, retrieving a sheet of paper for him that was highlighted with bright pink lines in several sections. He saw that he was featuring on the three bridges of the song, along with singing various harmonies for the chorus. “I find that reading the lyrics whilst I listen helps me learn the song better.”

 

“Sure thing, I’ll be sure to do so.”

 

“Take your time, I’ve got plenty of stuff to check over and review, so, don’t rush yourself,” Andre said in a reassuring tone.

 

“Hey, can I charge my phone for a little while?” Jimin asked as he eyed the charger wire. “I couldn’t do so last night, I, um, I was at Yoongi’s place listening to his tracks.”

 

“You can do whatever you want, Jimin, so long as you don’t break anything,” he replied with a quick smile.

 

So, Jimin moved to plug his own phone into the charger and then he shifted to sit down at the small table across the room. The laptop was switched on and a music player was open, currently paused in the middle of a file. There were earphones plugged into the jack and so he retrieved them and slipped them into his ears.

 

In the wall mirror, he was able to see the two other men perfectly, and as he placed the page of lyrics down to fiddle with the computer, he saw Yoongi slipping his blouson free to dump it on the sofa. Andre moved to grab it before he sat down on it and creased the material, and he eyed the front and back for a moment, presumably looking for the label tag.

 

“That’s a designer jacket right there, Yoongi, don’t use it to warm your arse. Japanese, it’s - ah, Number (N)ine! You used to always go on about that brand, and I think that you wore that one tee-shirt that you bought as a kid until it literally turned to dust.”

 

“Pft, I think that it did turn to dust,” Yoongi agreed as he dropped onto the sofa with a grunt. “That, or my mum finally got sick and tired of washing it and threw it away.”

 

“You, uh, you buy this from your royalties?” Andre asked curiously, eyeing the inner lining with an appreciate eye. “Or are you still refusing to touch that cash?”

 

“My mum sent me cash a couple of weeks ago, for my birthday, ‘cos I wasn’t able to get back down to Daegu in time to visit her. I was too busy finishing up a project, y’know? Rather than use it on rent or food I thought…use the royalties for that shit. Spend the money on an actual gift, like she’d want me to, something I could wear when I video call her; yeah?”

 

“Good idea, but we both know that you hardly need to worry about the rent, Yoongi. Are you still living in that block? The tiny one over in Jongno-gu?” Andre asked as he placed the blouson aside and unlocked his phone with his thumb.

 

“Yeah, why’d you ask?” Yoongi replied, and Jimin dragged the bar to the beginning of the file and hesitated for a moment.

 

This made Andre laugh under his breath for some reason, a reason that Jimin didn’t understand as he hovered his fingers above the button rather than hit play.

 

“When are you going to move out of that place, huh? I get being modest, trust me, I do, but you should really find a better place. Shit, if you want a box to live in, there’s just as many boxes in Gangnam-gu as Jongno-gu, Yoongi, and it’s a hell of a lot easier for you to travel around for business.”

 

“Yeah, well, maybe one day? I like it there, I like the box, it’s comfortable,” Yoongi retorted as he shifted on the sofa and folded his arms over his chest in a rather defensive manner. “I started from nothing in that box, and I don’t think I’ve made it far enough to upgrade from the box yet.”

 

“That’s the old address, right?” Andre asked, flashing him his phone screen for a moment, and so Yoongi made a soft noise under his breath in agreement before asking him why he had wanted to know his address. “Because I’m sending you a gift and I needed the right address and-”

 

“Hyuk, no, gimme the phone-”

 

“and too late, you should expect a box in the mail. A fancy box, at that,” Andre spoke over him as he held the phone out of his reach. “I missed your birthday because I was in Tokyo, so, consider the gift my apology.”

 

“Fuck you, man,” Yoongi drawled, his accent turning thick enough to catch Jimin by surprise as he finally hit play and got comfortable in the chair.

 

Jimin had yet to hear the track that he was featuring on, and he retrieved the sheet of paper as he listened to the opening keyboard and waited for the vocals to start playing on the rough demo. The guide vocals turned out to be Andre’s rather than someone else’s, which seemed to signal that he had penned the lyrics, and that he might have also composed the track, which wasn’t too surprising now that he knew that played the keyboard.

 

The demo was smooth from start to finish, just how he liked it, for there was no break for an unneeded rap section and it sounded like it could contain a great deal of harmonies. It was soft, slow enough to border the edge of being a ballad but was still upbeat enough with the rhythm to not be flat. Having listened to his hooks on Killuh’s track, it made sense that Andre had wanted him to sing on the song, because his sections were just perfect for him to sing.

 

Jimin couldn’t believe the fact that he was singing not only with Andre, but also on a track that he actually liked. Had the other man have released this as a track without him featuring on it, it would have went right onto his daily playlist with the rest of his songs, and he most likely would have used it to warm up. That was something that was going to take awhile to set in for him, even when he knew that he was going to step into the recording booth very soon.

 

The lyrics were pretty good too, for though they were romantic, they weren’t dripping with sexuality like Killuh’s track. It was the right balance of sensuality to be appealing without being tacky, and he was so relieved that his sections were both heartfelt and sweet for once.

 

Jimin found himself humming along to the demo under his breath as he listened, and when he spared quick glances up at the mirror hanging above the laptop, he noted that the two other men were casually looking over at him too.

 

When the track started to fade out, Jimin realised that they had been talking the entire time that he had been listening to the demo. So, he reached up to press the button on the earphone microphone to pause the file just as it looped on repeat, so that he could listen to them talking for a moment. His eyes shifted up to look at the mirror instinctively, and he hoped that they didn’t notice him staring at them.

 

“…and he’s cute, don’t you think so?” Andre remarked, looking at Yoongi but gesturing in his direction, as if he couldn’t hear their conversation. “He’s got the makings of an idol on that face, right? Pretty boy, the kind that companies would line up for.”

 

“Huh? Oh…oh yeah,” Yoongi muttered in agreement, his fingers fiddling with a thread on his destroyed jeans as he stared at the console rather than hold his friend’s gaze. “Idol face, yeah. He’s got…a face, an idol face.”

 

“I think M&M made a great decision offering him a potential contract. I don’t know why I’m saying ‘potential’, because they’re going to sign him. I’ve only got four months left on my contract before I upgrade, so, they’re gonna want to snatch up someone new to replace my slot on the payroll. He’s a fantastic replacement. They’ll make their money back on his developmental deal, no problem, especially if you offer your assistance with the project, yes?”

 

“Oh? Uh, yeah,” Yoongi said with a nod as he stopped playing with his jeans and glanced at him again. “Of course I’m gonna offer my services, if they’ll have me on the project. Sure, they can get a team to work on his singles, or they could lemme, but I dunno what they’ll decide. I just really wanna pen a song for him, Hyuk. I mean, a feature for me - perfect, I’d die; but I’d even pen a whole single just for him if M&M lemme do it. You’ve heard his voice, right?”

 

“Of course, it’s the reason why I got Sooah to pull him into the studio today,” Andre replied in a matter of fact voice. “The only reason why anyone bought Killuh’s single was because of his parts, I told Soosoo that one night when it was playing in a club we were at for her latest single launch. I think she laughed so hard that needed oxygen. It’s true; he can’t rap for shit, his lyrics are rehashed and bland…but Jimin? He was a golden ticket on that track, and Killuh knows it too. Why do you think that he snapped him up?”

 

“Hyuk, any rapper with a working set of ears would snap him up,” Yoongi agreed as he lifted his hand to start at nibbling at his thumb nail. “God, how’d Killuh get to him first? I mean, I’m glad that he did, for Jimin’s sake, but of all of the people to make cash off him…why him?”

 

“He’s been avoiding talking about him too, at every given chance,” Andre said before tsking out of the corner of his mouth. “What a hack, he used the kid to ride up the charts and then refuses to even mention his name online or in interviews for various newspapers. God, he makes me so mad.”

 

Jimin found his teeth nibbling at his lower lip at this, but he had to hold his tongue because he was eavesdropping on their conversation. But he wanted to open his mouth and contribute so badly that he could feel his jaw clenching from the effort to keep his mouth shut.

 

“Y’know how I feel about Killuh, I hate the fucker,” Yoongi muttered as he rubbed at his lips with his fingertips. “But, I ain’t stupid. I know the kinda people in his crew and I like my front teeth, so, I fake it. I’m good at faking it.”

 

“Oh yes?” Andre asked, before making a soft sound that sounded rather amused.

 

“What? What’s so funny?”

 

“Yoongi, I think that you need to start increasing the fake,” the older man replied, and Jimin found his fingers playing with the earphone wire as he eyed them both in the mirror. “The rumours are still sticking around, and they’re so bad in Black Pearl that, if I were you, I’d avoid stepping foot in there. Especially with the kid, that will just make it worse.”

 

“I ain’t gonna be scared of entering any clubs in this fucking city, Hyuk,” Yoongi retorted, his tone and expression showing that he wasn’t in the slightest bit worried about this issue. “As it so happens, I hate Black Pearl. He can go in there no problem, especially on your arm, but I ain’t going there unless I have to. That club’s too fucking…y’know.”

 

“I do know, the dancers there are one of a kind,” Andre joked, giving him a knowing grin. “Hey, come on, don’t look so grumpy. Put a smile on your face, just for him. I know that you hate being out in the daylight and all that, but the kid’s really excited and if he sees that pout, you might upset him.”

 

“I know, I was just thinking about that stupid club,” Yoongi muttered, his voice so soft that Jimin barely even heard what he said. “Y’know how uncomfortable that shit makes me feel, but my crew keep going there, and I’ve been making up excuses to avoid going for the best part of a month now. Luckily for me, I’m buried in projects and actually producing for the girls, so, they’ve got on my back on Twitter.

 

“Yoongi, just keep producing for your crew and working on material for every single company that snaps your shit up, and stop thinking about those stupid clubs. Yes?”

 

Yoongi shifted on the sofa to look over at him so suddenly that he caught Jimin by surprise, and he felt his heart jumping in his chest as he dropped his gaze back down to the laptop screen. He even started bobbing his head, just to make it seem like he was listening to the track, hoping that his cheeks didn’t turn as red as they felt.

 

Had Yoongi caught sight of him staring at him in the mirror, or was he just panicking and assuming that he had?

 

Jimin decided to play the demo over again for a second time, just so that he could listen to it again and focus on his parts more intently. It was hard focusing on the track when he couldn’t help but think about what he had just heard.

 

Yoongi had once again mentioned how his female crew members were supporting him, and how he was avoiding certain clubs, just like he had told him in Flow that night, and it seemed that Andre knew a lot more about this matter. Did this have anything to do with that rap demo on his computer? Andre had mentioned him acting ‘fake’, and Yoongi had spat about living a lie, after all.

 

Whatever the case, hearing Yoongi talking about him and his talents, made Jimin feel a funny sensation in his chest. It was even stronger than the surge of excitement that he had felt hearing Andre praising him, though he had no clue why exactly it was so strong.

 

After his second listen, Jimin paused the player and he tugged his earphones free to let them pool on the desk. He grabbed the sheet of paper and got out of the chair, moving to draw closer to the sofa just as Yoongi got upright to go over to the console and dropped into one of the leather seats in front of it.

 

“Sorry, I listened to it a couple of times,” Jimin lied with a sheepish smile. “I kept wanting to check the final hook so I could try and think of some ad-libs, because I’m still learning to do those.”

 

“Really?” Andre remarked, his expression showing surprise. “I thought that the ones in ‘feeling your body’ were fantastic, Jimin. Those moans huh, Yoongi?”

 

“I, uh-”

 

Yoongi turned back to the console beside him, eyeing the countless sliders and glowing lights as if they were far more interesting to him. But the fact that he was wearing his beanie hat meant that his entire face was on clear display, and so Jimin noticed his flushed cheeks even from their distance.

 

“If you’ve got any ideas for them, just give it a shot, you don’t have to get them right the first time,” Andre said as he reached up to massage at his neck and rolled his shoulders. “Sometimes, it helps to have the entire track down before working on the ad-libs.”

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin hummed with a vigorous nod. “I’ll be sure to give them a shot.”

 

“We were just talking about how I thought that you looked like an idol, Jimin. You look so squeaky clean and polite, that I’m surprised that you didn’t try and pursue the idol market because you would’ve fitted in perfectly. Are you clean? Do you smoke?”

 

“I don’t smoke, no, cigarettes or weed,” Jimin said with a head shake. “Killuh was lighting that shit up when we were recording together and I hate it, it smells disgusting.”

 

“Good, good boy, protect your throat. You breathe in so much of that shit at the clubs by accident, you don’t need to damage it that little bit more by actually smoking,” Andre said as he got to his feet with a soft grunt and stretched his arms up over his head. “What about alcohol?”

 

“He knocks back somaek, beer and coke, and soju shots like he’s dying of thirst, Hyuk. It makes my liver hurt watching him,” Yoongi declared as he glanced back over at them.

 

“Yoongi, you’re everyone’s favourite lightweight at the clubs,” Andre retorted with a smirk. “You buy rounds and never drink them yourself; it’s great.”

 

“I drink, but I’m sensible about it,” Jimin explained as he played with the sheet of lyrics. “I don’t usually binge, I prefer a somaek here and there instead.”

 

“Are you popular with the ladies, huh?” Andre asked, giving him an eyebrow wriggle as he fixed his slightly wrinkled shirt. “That’s the important part, the most important. If you want to stay squeaky clean for the fans, you can’t be seen with the ladies. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still play with the ladies - play safe, of course.”

 

“I…um,” Jimin pressed his lips together at this, biting at his lower lip for a second as his eyes flickered to look over at Yoongi. “I’m not popular with the ladies.”

 

“Really?” Andre asked, lifting his eyebrows in complete surprise and then glancing over at Yoongi. “Oh, that’s a shame, but then I guess that that means that you don’t need to worry too much right now. Do you have Twitter, hmm?”

 

“I’ve got a Twitter, yeah, it’s only new. Yoongi helped me set it up, and he taught me a couple of tricks,” Jimin explained as the other man unlocked his phone with his thumb. “Why do you ask?”

 

“Because,” Andre declared as he held his phone out in front of him. “It’s time to start hyping up this single.”

 

Jimin shifted to get closer to him so that the other man could snap a photograph of them together, holding his free hand up so that he could flash a peace sign and smile. Usually, he avoided smiling in photographs because his eyes crinkled at the corners and it made him look rather immature, but he was far too excited to not grin right now. His lyric sheet was visible in the bottom of the shot, just as a teaser to let Andre’s fans know that they were recording - just in case the visible background of the recording studio wasn’t obvious enough a hint.

 

“Yoongi, do you want to join in, huh?” he asked as he lowered the phone and looked at the other man.

 

Yet Yoongi just shook his hand at this, waving his suggestion away.

 

Andre turned his full attention back to his phone and he started typing a caption for the tweet at the speed of light before asking him for his Twitter handle. So, he gave him it as he shifted to sit down on the sofa and grabbed one of the bottles of water from the table.

 

Jimin warmed up his throat whilst Andre and Yoongi played the title track aloud and talked over it, taking some time to ensure that he did it properly as he drank plenty of water. He did breathing exercises as he massaged at his cheeks with the heels of his hands, loosening his jaw at the same time as he relaxed his throat muscles. Then he started trilling by exhaling and blowing his lips out, before moving onto gentle hums and then progressing to singing actual words as he shifted between two octaves.

 

Unsurprisingly, quick glances at his phone screen during his warm-up process showed him dozens of alerts blowing up his charging phone. All of them were from Twitter, of course. It was enough to make him feel both excited and nervous, because that meant that he was going to garner even more followers and plenty more attention, and that was a lot of pressure on his shoulders right now. Especially when it was only the first day of recording with Andre and he had a lot of hard work to do.

 

Jimin could only hope that he could live up to their expectations, because he knew that they both had high hopes from him.

 

When he was satisfied that he was all warmed up and loose, Jimin went into the recording booth at last. It smelled fresh and not at all like marijuana, and he breathed out a sigh of relief as he moved to stand in front of the lyric stand and placed the sheet of paper down. He retrieved the headphones and slipped them in place around his neck, glancing over at the glass window to see Andre shifting forward in his seat to lean over the console.

 

“OK, Jimin, time to wow us both with that first bridge,” he said with a warm smile as he held his hand up and started counting him in; Yoongi pushing sliders on the console so that the song started playing lowly in his headphones.

 

Five…four…three…two…one-

 

Jimin opened his mouth with a deep intake of breath, the words spilling free from his lips as he closed his eyes and dived into the song.

 

“‘Girl, you know that I like you. Oh, I really really like ya, and I hope you know that I do…’”

 

Unlike recording with Killuh, Jimin was to find that both Andre and Yoongi gave him constant feedback between recording lines - over everything from his tone to his breathing whilst he was singing. They gave advice, and they praised him when he did things well, but not in a condescending fashion. He also liked them giving his criticisms, for they did so politely in the aims of helping him improve rather than so that they could complain about his mistakes. Andre’s tips for diaphragmatic breathing most certainly helped him strain his vocal cords less as he sang his parts over and over again.

 

Unlike the other song too, his lines weren’t the exact same thing repeated over the length of the song. Instead, they changed slightly between the first two bridges, and then they switched up to a completely new section for the final bridge.

 

Jimin went from reassuring his lover of his affections and love, to promising to do anything for them, and then he asked them back if they would also let him know all about their affections.

 

In contrast, Andre’s first two choruses were questions aimed at his lover to get them to reassure him of their feelings, and his final chorus was him finally admitting his own love without fear of being rejected by them.

 

Jimin rather liked this fact, because he liked how the song both expressed affection (and requested it) in such a lighthearted way. There was no demanding tone, no possessive hints in the lyrics, and he thought that it was the perfect formula for a love song.

 

Just like the previous recording session, Jimin went between the booth and the control room over the duration of the afternoon. As he rested between singing, he made sure to cool his throat down and drink plenty of water, listening to Andre singing in the booth and getting to enjoy his vocals before any other fans got to hear this song.

 

Just hearing his soulful and husky voice crooning in both Korean and English, made Jimin hope that he could reach his level of talent in the future. It was going to be a difficult challenge doing so, but he was willing to work his hardest to try and achieve his goal.

 

Yoongi stayed seated at the console for the duration of the recording process, assisting in recording and playing the music as they were counted in. He didn’t mix anything, because he wasn’t contracted to work on the single, but he still assisted Andre with minor things just for the sake of it.

 

When he was in the booth singing, Jimin couldn’t help but feel the weight of his gaze on him through the window. Though Andre went between observing him to examining the computer monitors and console, Yoongi didn’t look away once as he listened to him singing. He sat there with one elbow cocked on the console so that he could rest his cheek against his folded fingers, his eyes burning into him intently.

 

It should have been distracting, and yet Jimin found himself emboldened by this attention; found himself filled with a little burst of confidence just so he could show Yoongi how good that he sounded in an actual recording studio.

 

Eventually, the afternoon hours bled into the evening hours, and before Jimin knew it, it was creeping close to midnight. That meant that he had once again missed his train back home, which was several districts away. All that he could do was sigh as he studied his phone screen, once more aware of the fact that he was crashing on a studio sofa for the night.

 

“It’s too late to jump a train,” Jimin said as he rubbed at his face with his free hand. “It looks like I might’ve to crash here for the night. Is that OK? Can I do that?”

 

“You can stay, yes, a lot of people stay here for several nights when working on tracks, but I wouldn’t recommend it,” Andre said as he placed the headphones down and got out of his seat. “A little rest and relaxation in a real bed does wonders for your body, throat and motivation.”

 

“I’ll stay too,” Yoongi said as he stretched his arms over his head with a grunt. “I ain’t gonna leave you here on your own, and besides, I can’t jump a train either. You’re stuck with me for the night, Jimin.”

 

“Ha, look at his face; I don’t think that he minds,” the other man remarked as he grabbed his car coat and tugged it on. “I think that he’s glad that he’s got a sleepover buddy.”

 

Jimin just laughed softly at this, his throat too tired from singing to let him do much more than that.

 

Yoongi stayed slumped in his seat as he rubbed at his own eyes, blinking rapidly to try and get them to stay open.

 

“OK, well, between you and me: there’s some recliner chairs up on the third floor,” Andre said in a quiet voice, aiming to sound secretive. “Leather, padded, feels heavenly to take a nap in them. I know this from experience.”

 

“Oh really? Thank you,” Jimin said with a tired smile. “I think that I’ll definitely give them a try, Andre.”

 

“Hyuk, call me Hyuk,” he suggested as he grabbed his phone from the table and quickly glanced at the screen. “OK, I’ll be clocking in tomorrow around 8am, so, I’ll see you two then. Jimin, get plenty of rest for your throat, Yoongi, don’t fall asleep on the console and record yourself snoring, please?”

 

“Bye, Hyuk,” Yoongi muttered as he sat forward in the chair with a series of grunts. “Travel home safely, yeah?”

 

Hyuk left the studio a moment later, leaving them both sitting in silence as they rubbed at their eyes, rolled their stiff necks, and suppressed dozens of heavy yawns. Surprisingly, it was Yoongi who broke the temporary silence first, twisting in his seat to look at him.

 

“Hey, you wanna go grab something to eat, Jimin? There’s an authentic takoyaki place not too far from here, and lemme tell you, I could eat that shit all night long right now.”

 

Jimin realised, in that very moment, that he had eaten nothing at all today, save for sucking on some lollipops between recording, and it was exactly then that his stomach decided to give a hearty rumble. It almost echoed in the silence of the recording studio, and he stared at the other man with rounded eyes in complete surprise.

 

Then Yoongi cracked up with laughter, a series of dopey guffaws escaping him as he reached up to cover his mouth with his hand. Jimin couldn’t help but burst out laughing too, not only because the scenario was so amusing, but because Yoongi’s rather uncontrollable guffaws were pretty funny to him.

 

“C’mon, your tummy wants takoyaki, and the tummy don’t lie, Jimin,” the other man said as he got out of the seat to grab his designer blouson and cocked his head at the door.

 

On the walk over to the food joint, Yoongi savoured his first cigarette in several hours, pulling the smoke into his lungs and holding it for several seconds before exhaling it through his nose. He tended to leave the cigarette dangling in the corner of his lips so that he could keep his hands warm inside of his jacket pockets, reaching up only to dab ash off the end and to wet his lips.

 

Jimin broke out another lollipop to combat the slight hint of tobacco scent that wafted on the breeze to hit him, for the scent always made him crave a cigarette even when he had never smoked one before.

 

The takoyaki joint, as Yoongi had described it, was a rather small building packed between two taller stores. It had a wooden exterior that was strangely rustic and appealing, and the sign outside declared: “Tokyo Takoyaki! Authentic and fresh!”.

 

Upon stepping inside, Jimin discovered that there were several low tables packed inside with floor cushions, and a small cooking stove to the side on which customers could presumably cook their own takoyaki. Overall, the joint was clean, cosy, and the scent of the cooking snack made his already rumbling stomach almost roar in hunger. They removed their shoes and left them on the small rack beside the door, and he was about to move over to the counter when Yoongi caught him by surprise and grabbed hold of his elbow.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“No, we ain’t ordering pre-made,” Yoongi said as he gently tugged him away from the counter. “We’re going full authentic takoyaki experience, and that means cooking it ourselves.”

 

“Really?” Jimin asked, letting him guide him over to the far end table so that they could sit down - several other people ordering at the counter and a presumable couple also cooking their own serving of takoyaki together; laughing as they cautiously turned over the balls of batter.

 

They had only been sitting at the table for a minute at most when a young woman came out to collect their order. Yoongi proceeded to order enough batter for ten servings of takoyaki, before hesitating on the drinks.

 

“No booze,” Jimin said as he gave the other man a knowing glance. “Not after last night.”

 

“Yeah, no booze…cider?”

 

“Sure thing.”

 

“And two ciders, please,” Yoongi finished, holding two fingers up as he spoke.

 

“I’ll bring you your drinks first, your order will be with you in just a couple of minutes. OK?” she said as she moved to cross the joint and disappeared behind the counter.

 

The waitress returned with a tray just a minute later, on which two ice-filled glasses and cold cans of Sprite were placed. She put them down on their table with a handful of napkins, giving them both a cordial smile as she went behind the counter again.

 

So, Yoongi cracked the first can of cider open, the metal tab crunching as he pulled it up and poured it into his glass. The carbonated lemon and lime soda bubbled and fizzed loudly, and he filled it up halfway before moving to pour the remains over the ice cubes in his glass too. Then he placed the empty can aside on the table, the other unopened can covered in beads of condensation that rolled down the chilled metal.

 

“What’re we drinking to tonight, huh?” Yoongi joked as he held up his glass in offering.

 

So, Jimin grabbed his own glass and he thought the question over for a moment before replying.

 

“Here’s to you not burning this takoyaki or giving us both food poisoning,” he joked with a wide smile, making Yoongi guffaw as they clinked the glasses together.

 

When their order was brought to the table, Jimin saw that there was a massive bowl on the tray that was filled with creamy batter, and there were several smaller bowls filled with ingredients to go into the batter - little chunks of diced octopus, green onions, shredded seaweed, and flakes of something that looked and smelled like fish to Jimin’s nose; and there were also servings of cream cheese, mayonnaise, and a brown and rather tangy-smelling sauce that presumably went on top of the cooked takoyaki.

 

Yoongi tossed the octopus and green onion into the batter, and then he shook a liberal amount of seaweed into it too. After stirring the batter up nicely, he coated the stove with it, pouring the thick mixture all over the metal so that it filled in all of the holes. Then he dropped dollops of the cheese sauce into some of the cooking balls, so that it oozed out into the dough. When he turned the balls over, the cheese would stay inside of the takoyaki, leaving a special gooey centre for them to enjoy.

 

“You ever made takoyaki before?” Yoongi asked just for the sake of it, grabbing the spoon in preparation for turning them over as they started to brown.

 

“Nope, I’ve never made it before, and I’ve only had it once or twice as a kid,” Jimin replied, eyeing the cooking balls with a great interest. “You’ve clearly made it though.”

 

“Yeah, I pretty much live on this shit when I’m working in this district,” he said, giving the first ball an experimental prod before turning it over and quickly repeating the action with the rest of them. “It’s cheap, filling, and it’s much more fresh and nutritious than convenience store junk.”

 

“Do you work in this district often?” Jimin asked as he played with his wooden skewer, glancing between the steaming balls of batter and the other man’s face as he did so.

 

“Only when I’m recording and mixing in studios, otherwise, I do all of that shit at home. But sometimes, the companies pretty much force me to stay, so, I crack out my tablet, hit this place up, and work whilst I’m eating,” Yoongi explained, as he finished turning over the takoyaki balls and left them to brown on this side too. “I told you, they don’t trust rappers, it’s like they think I’m gonna slack off for a pay cheque, pft.”

 

Yoongi snorted at this, grabbing his glass to sip at his cider as he left the food cooking, and Jimin thought this over as he tapped the skewer against his lips.

 

After several minutes of cooking, Yoongi poked and prodded at the takoyaki balls again to check that they were ready, and then he scooped them free and placed them down on the plate. They were golden and looked firm rather than gooey or hard: the perfect consistency.

 

“Wait, just gotta…add the toppings,” Yoongi muttered, as he moved to grab one of the dishes that had been left on the tray. He sprinkled the leftover seaweed and fragrant bonito flakes on top, and then drizzled the tangy sauce and mayonnaise over them, before making a pleased sound. “There! Perfection!”

 

“It looks nice,” Jimin remarked as he eyed the serving plate, running his gaze over the fat and golden balls of batter. “It smells nice too, really nice.”

 

“Well, try some and lemme know what you think,” Yoongi suggested, gesturing for him to sample the first ball.

 

Jimin grabbed his wooden skewer and he took a moment to eye the selections, before settling on a crisp and golden one. He speared it with the skewer and took a bite, huffing at the heat as he tried to not burn his tongue. He tasted the golden batter mixed in with the cheese and tangy sauce, and then the chewy tenderness of the octopus.

 

“Yoongi, this is really good, and oh- the cheese is so nice,” Jimin declared around his mouthful of takoyaki. “Wow, it’s seriously amazing.”

 

“Yeah, you think so?” Yoongi asked with a rather bashful smile, grabbing his own chunk of takoyaki and taking a huge bite.

 

Jimin nodded around the mouthful rather than speak, wanting to savour the flavour for a moment. As he took another huge bite, Yoongi did so too, before pulling the skewer away with a pained sound.

 

“Shit, I wanna eat it but it’s too hot,” Yoongi complained, glaring at the steaming ball of batter as if that would help make it cool down faster and not burn his poor tongue.

 

The takoyaki might just have been scorching hot, but that didn’t stop him in from devouring it as fast as he could. Yoongi either got used to the heat or decided that his tongue could burn, for he also enthusiastically finished his own serving of the meal and drained his glass of cider.

 

“You want another round, huh?” he asked around the final mouthful of takoyaki, reaching up to wipe at his mouth with his thumb and sucking a hint of sauce free.

 

“Um, hell yeah,” Jimin retorted, making them both laugh at his enthusiasm.

 

Just like the first serving of takoyaki, Yoongi poured the batter into the metal pan, filled with octopus, seaweed and green onion, and he left it to start cooking as he filled up their glasses with the second can of cider.

 

“Yoongi? Can I ask you a question?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, fighting the urge to nibble on his skewer as he watched him prodding at the takoyaki.

 

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Yoongi mumbled, far too busy concentrating on the cooking food to glance up at him. “What’s up?”

 

“Do you think that today went well? The recording session, I mean.”

 

“I think that it went about as well as the first day of recording can go,” he replied, prodding at one of the cooking balls before moving onto the next one. “Why’re you asking? Are you still worried about all of that? Pft, Jimin, surely you can see how great it went today? You saw Andre, right? You heard him singing. He was buzzing today, he was really feeling that shit, trust me.”

 

“I know, I know, I just wanted to check with you,” Jimin said, watching him slowly turning over the takoyaki as he reached up to give his earring a teasing twist. “Did you, um, did you enjoy listening to me singing?”

 

Yoongi looked up sharply at this, his spoon almost sinking into a half-cooked takoyaki ball until he recovered and quickly flipped it over. He dropped his gaze down so that he could continue flipping the rest of the balls, his lips shifting as he tried to think of something to say.

 

“Uh, yeah…yeah, I enjoyed it a lot, Jimin,” Yoongi said with a rather shy smile that made his eyes crinkle at the corners deeply.

 

Jimin felt that funny sensation in his stomach at this as he moved to grab his glass of cider. But before he could lift it to take a sip, Yoongi shifted to lean over the table and wiped at his mouth with his thumb, cleaning away a smear of sauce for him that he then sucked off his thumb as he speared the first cooking ball to check that it was ready.

 

After finishing the second serving of takoyaki, Jimin’s stomach was full and it had finally stopped rumbling at last. Though he wanted to help pay, to cover at least half of the costs for their meal, Yoongi paid once again and demanded another cup of coffee from him when his first pay cheque rolled in. He now owed him two cups, and he had a feeling that he was going to owe him many more at this rate, should they keep ending up spending so much time in each other’s company. So, he let the other man pay for the meal with his card and then they left to go back to the company building.

 

Yoongi rapped his knuckles on the locked glass doors, catching the attention of the cleaner that was buffing the wooden flooring just a few feet away. The man paused to look up at them, before stopping the machine for a moment and crossing the entrance area to unlock the door for them again.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi mumbled as they quickly entered the building, instinctively reaching behind himself to grab at his wrist and tug him in the direction of the lift.

 

Jimin didn’t need his assistance, but he still let him take hold of his hand again and pull him into the carriage just for the sake of it.

 

Leaning back against the vibrating wall as the carriage descended, Jimin could feel Yoongi’s fingers slowly unrolling to brush against his palm, almost begging that he let him slot them between his. So, he let him take hold of his hand without a single word, his eyes focused on the doors in front of them as Yoongi entwined their fingers together. The other man made the most softest sound at this, not exactly a gasp but most certainly a sharp intake of breath that ended in a gulp as he stuck his tongue out to wet his lips.

 

When they went back into the recording studio, Yoongi let go of his hand so that he could drop in the chair in front of the console with a grunt.

 

Jimin lingered right behind the seat, eyeing the monitors curiously and breathing in the scent of cigarettes and faded cologne coming from the other man as he tried to think of something to say to him; something about the track perhaps, or maybe the soft hand-holding in the lift that had both come out of nowhere, and had also been completely expected.

 

“You wanna work on the vocals a little more?” Yoongi suggested, dropping his head to eye the console with a great interest. “I can work this baby no problem. I can record and play around with it, uncredited production and all that. I don’t mind.”

 

“Let’s just…play around instead,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, looking between the console and the other man. “Nothing serious, just a little bit of fun, you know?”

 

“Fun, huh?” Yoongi repeated with an eyebrow raise, reaching up scratch at his beanie hat. “Hey, you wanna make a track together, huh? Then let’s go in the booth and see what comes out.”

 

Jimin grinned at this as he moved to push the instrument booth door open, gesturing for him to follow him inside. So, Yoongi got out of the chair and did so, the door shutting behind them with a soft thumping sound and enclosing them in the soundproofed box so that they could do absolutely anything that they wanted without worrying about making too much noise.

 

Jimin went over to the keyboard first, tinkling the keys as Yoongi scuffed his sneakers on the flooring and ran his eyes around the booth for a moment. The notes flowed out melodiously, which earned him a brief smile from the rapper.

 

“Yoongi, I think that you should do some impersonations to warm your voice up,” Jimin remarked, shifting to fold his arms on the keyboard and cocking his head at him so that his earrings dangled.

 

“You want me to impersonate Killuh, don’t you?” Yoongi asked without a hint of hesitation, which made him laugh under his breath. “What? Do one of his tracks, or diss him?”

 

“What do you think?” Jimin replied with a mischievous lift of his eyebrows. “I wanna hear how you diss, D-boy. Show me how sharp that tongue is, hmm?”

 

“First, you gotta get the pose down right, gotta really channel that dickhead vibe,” Yoongi explained as he cocked his legs so that he could lean closer to the booth microphone, and he cupped one hand over his ear in perfect imitation of holding his headphones in place. “Once you feel like Killuh, you become Killuh, yeah?”

 

“OK, you’re Killuh now, so, drop me a new verse from your upcoming single,” he suggested, finding his lips already twitching up at the corners in anticipation.

 

Yoongi wet his own lips quickly, which lifted in a quick smirk because he had clearly had a sudden idea. Then he opened his mouth and started rapping, his usually rich tone taking on a monotonous drone that reminded him of the other rapper instantly.

 

“‘Drink and smoke weed like erryday, post stupid shit on Twitter ‘cos I gotta something to say, ay. Yeezy and Nike, I’m a real tough guy, I’m gonna drop some fancy labels so bitches know I’m fly. Catch me in the clubs, hanging with my posse, but what they really dunno’s that I’m a fucking pussy’.”

 

“Yoongi!” Jimin exclaimed before he burst out laughing. “That was perfect, oh my god!

 

Yoongi guffawed at this, reaching up to rub at his nose roughly as he tried to hide both his embarrassment and his little burst of happiness. It didn’t work, however, for Jimin saw his flushed cheeks and crinkled eyes over his hand.

 

“The designer label line? Seriously, he spends half of his track dropping labels and rapper names into his verses that he’s got no time to rap about anything else. Except for pussy, of course, he always finds a way to fit that in. It’s so embarrassing,” Jimin remarked as the other man shoved his hand back into his jacket pocket, his lips still curled up in a wide smile. “Did you just make that up?”

 

“Yeah, I freestyled that shit. Any excuse to talk shit about him, I’m suddenly inspired enough to write a whole track in a minute, Jimin,” Yoongi explained, scuffing his sneakers on the booth flooring. “But enough about Killuh, yeah? Why don’t you do a little freestyle, huh?”

 

“Ah, I’m not good at stuff like that,” Jimin replied with a head shake, his earrings dangling from the movement. “You’re so much better at freestyling everything. I get all tongue-tied and confused, it’s not funny or cool, it’s just embarrassing. But, I could sing something? I mean, there’s a keyboard and everything in here, so, you could play it for me?”

 

“Oh yeah? What’d you want me to play, huh?” Yoongi asked as he moved to stand behind the keyboard beside him, stretching his fingers in preparation.

 

“Do you know the notes for Andre’s ‘different seasons’? The chorus? I could sing the final chorus,” Jimin said, shifting to watch him finish stretching his fingers. “I like that one the most.”

 

Yoongi lowered his hands to the keyboard, hovering them over the keys as he furrowed his brow for a moment and thought this over. Then he hit several of the keys in rapid succession as he glanced at him, playing the melody before making a soft noise and moving higher up the register and trying again.

 

“That’s it, that’s right,” Jimin said with a vigorous nod, clearing his throat as he shifted from foot to foot and took several deep breaths.

 

“That chorus’ entirely English, right?” Yoongi asked as he stuck his tongue out to wet his lips. “Are you showing off your skills for me, huh?”

 

“You know it,” Jimin replied with a rather flirtatious grin, fiddling with his thumb ring as he stared at his hands.

 

Yoongi spread his fingers out over the keys just like he had when he has been playing on the controller, his tendons shifting from the slightest movement. Then he started playing a hint of the bridge to give him enough time to ease into the chorus. The keyboard notes filled the tiny booth, loud and resonating off the wooden walls to fill his ears as he took a deep breath and opened his mouth.

 

“‘I promise you, spring, summer, autumn, winter; ain’t no time I ain’t got for you, baby’,” Jimin crooned in a quiet voice, slowly lifting his gaze from his hands to look at his face.

 

Yoongi was playing the keys without even looking at them, sparing only fast glances down so that he could look at him whilst he sang, his gaze completely focused on his lips to watch every single word carefully. How his fingers didn’t slip and hit the wrong keys, Jimin didn’t even know.

 

“‘I’ll do anything, for you. You know, it’s true. Oh, baby baby ba-by, I’ll be there’.”

 

Yoongi tinkled the keys at the end with a little flourish, before lifting his hands and giving him his very own applause. Jimin couldn’t help but start giggling at this, wanting to hide his blush behind his hands just like the other man did.

 

Bravo,” Yoongi said in heavily accented English, which just made him laugh harder and reach over to give his upper arm a shove. “So good, oh, so good.

 

“Yoongi,” he drawled out with a pleased grin. “You’re too much.”

 

“I thought Hyuk sang that?” Yoongi retorted wittily, the bad attempt at a pun making Jimin groan as he moved over to the drumkit and eyed it curiously.

 

For some reason, he couldn’t fight the urge to sit down on the throne and pick up the two sticks as he placed his foot over the pedal. He gave it several hits, the padded head banging against the bass drum with a hard thump as he hit the four other drums to try out their sounds: the floor tom-tom, high and middle tom-toms, and the snare drum. He hit the ride and crash cymbals, and then stepped on the hi-hat cymbal to make it open and close with a rasping clang.

 

His sudden interest in the drumkit caught Yoongi’s attention, and so he turned to watch him experimentally playing on the instrument.

 

Jimin quickly realised that the snare drum was the most used drum save for the bass drum, and so he focused on that the most as he tried to figure out the best way to play it. He also quickly realised just how hard it was to play the instrument, however, for he couldn’t seem to hit the drums in a good rhythm.

 

It was after a minute or two of his experimental playing that Yoongi decided to start playing the keyboard over him. He was just pressing keys for the sake of it, little melodies that were just several notes in length until he tried another one, hoping to find one that matched with the beat that he was playing.

 

“Ah, you’re playing too fast,” Yoongi mumbled, his voice almost lost underneath the pounding of the drum.

 

“What was that? Play faster?” Jimin joked, picking up speed as he did so and giving him that cocky expression that he knew that he hated so much.

 

“Oh, you wanna go fast, huh?” Yoongi remarked, dropping both of his hands onto the keyboard so that he could start thumping his fingers down on the keys. “Two can play at that game, Jimin!”

 

Jimin drummed as fast and as hard as he could, feeling his thigh and shin muscles burning as he stepped on the pedals and almost hammered the snare and tom-toms, and Yoongi’s fingers flew from one end of the keyboard to the next as he tried to keep up with him. He tried to keep the drumsticks loose in his grip so that his wrists were more flexible, dropping his head forward to mosh it in beat with the pounding drums and making Yoongi burst out laughing.

 

It was nothing more than noise, chaotic and rhythmless noise, but they were both grinning from ear to ear and laughing breathlessly because it was fun. It was stupid fun after a hard day of work, and Jimin hadn’t even realised just how badly he had needed to unwind until he had unleashed himself on the instrument like this.

 

Eventually, Jimin lost his grip on one of the drumsticks and it flew out of his hand, throwing him completely off-rhythm and making him stop playing. This made Yoongi stop too, tracking the flying stick with his rounded eyes until it hit the floor with a clattering sound.

 

“I think that we should stop now, before we break something,” Jimin remarked, reaching up to brush his messy hair back off his brow.

 

So, they left the recording booth after he had retrieved the drumstick and placed them both down on the snare drum, hoping that no one would suspect that he had almost put the pedal through the bass drum at some point.

 

As Jimin was stepping through the door, Yoongi moved to go over to the console and he eyed it for a second before making a shocked noise.

 

“Oh shit, I must’ve hit the switch and started recording us and-”

 

“Yoongi!” Jimin cried out in shock, shoving the booth door shut behind him and racing over to stare at the console. “What do you mean?! Hit what switch, what-”

 

“Just kidding,” Yoongi said, turning his head to give him a wicked grin.

 

Jimin’s heart had almost stopped beating in shock, and yet the other man had just been joking with him. It was enough to make him reach over and give his biceps a light punch.

 

“I thought that you were being serious, ah!” he whined, hearing Yoongi guffawing under his breath before a sudden yawn washed over him that he had to reach up and cover with his hand. “Are you tired, hmm?”

 

“Exhausted,” the other man mumbled as he rubbed at his eyes roughly.

 

“Come on,” Jimin instructed as he grabbed at his elbow and tugged him away from the console. “Third floor, Hyuk said that the chairs there are really comfortable to nap in.”

 

It turned out that Hyuk was correct, for when they exited the lift carriage and stepped onto the third floor, Jimin saw several plush-looking black leather recliner chairs. So, he moved over to drop into one of them with a deep sigh, melting into the leather as Yoongi sat down beside him and fumbled his sneakers free so that he could fold his legs up on the cushion. He copied his actions, freeing his feet from his boots, and then he dropped his head back and closed his eyes.

 

“Yoongi, thank you for coming with me today,” Jimin mumbled. “I know how busy you are but…but you did it anyway, so, thanks. You don’t have to…to be so nice to me, you know? Hmm, shit, I’m falling asleep. But…but, yeah, just wanted to thank you.”

 

“Mmm, tomorrow’s gonna go good for you, OK?” Yoongi mumbled softly. “You worked so hard today and you got so much of the track recorded, so, I think that you’ve got this down, Jimin. Another day of hard work and that’s it, you’re…you’re done. Sleep, don’t worry about tomorrow, yeah?”

 

“Are you gonna stay tomorrow too?” he asked, struggling to fight off sleep and finding that his tongue was too heavy to move.

 

“Why? D’you want me to?”

 

Jimin managed to sigh something out that sounded like an agreement before he sank down into sleep to the sound of Yoongi yawning sleepily beside him.

 

It seemed like he had been asleep for mere seconds when Jimin awoke with a jerk, opening his eyes with a soft grunt before he relaxed again and sank back against the chair. His mouth and throat were dry, but thankfully not hurting right now, and he went to reach up to rub at his throat when a sudden rustling sound caught him by surprise.

 

Jimin opened his eyes and he glanced down to see that there was a black jacket tossed him - Yoongi’s designer blouson. It was over his upper body like a blanket, and he gently knocked it down onto his lap to rub at his throat as he ran his tongue around his mouth.

 

Jimin could feel something unusual, something that felt like weight pressing down on his head, and it took him a moment to realise that Yoongi’s head was resting on top of his.

 

Yoongi must have slumped over in his sleep at some point, accidentally using him as a pillow, and he didn’t want to disturb him right now because he didn’t even know what time it was. He could see sunlight coming in through the windows across the floor, and after some slight manoeuvring, he was able to slip his phone free from his jeans to check the screen and see that it was 7:43am, which meant that it was actually about time that they woke up.

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin said in a quiet voice, his voice husky from sleep and exertion. “Hey, Yoongi?”

 

“Huh-uh? Nnn, yeah?” Yoongi sighed, turning his head to press his face into his hair with a series of nonsense noises, his breath leaving him in a hard huff.

 

“Time to wake up,” he explained, reaching up to touch Yoongi’s chest and giving it a soft push to get him to move away and let him sit up. “It’s almost 8am and-”

 

Before he could finish this, Yoongi let out a tired whine and he tossed his arm around his ribs to stop him from shoving him away. He buried his face in his hair, his nose rubbing against his scalp as Jimin froze in surprise. He pulled his hand away from his chest so that he could wipe at his swollen eyelids, listening to Yoongi’s muffled breathing and feeling his warm breath against his scalp.

 

“Hyuk’s gonna be here soon, he said 8am,” Jimin mumbled as he rubbed at his eyes and tried to keep them open. “Come on, Yoongi, let’s go to the studio at least and wait for him.”

 

Yoongi didn’t reply to this, and he didn’t know if it was because he was thinking over what he had said, or if he had fallen asleep again. But after a moment of silence, he loosened his hold around his ribs and shifted to lift his head up off of his with a series of rumbling sounds. This meant that he got his first glance at his face for the day.

 

Jimin saw that his eyelids were also puffy from sleep, so that he could only squint at him, and his lips were turned down at the corners in a disgruntled pout.

 

“Good morning, Yoongi.”

 

“Mmm, g’morning,” he replied, rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands.

 

After paying a quick trip to the company restroom to relieve themselves and splash freezing cold water on their tired faces, they rode the lift down to the basement studio to wait for Hyuk. There was no talk about their impromptu jam session in the recording booth, nor did Yoongi try and take hold of his hand as they descended, but Jimin felt the most overwhelming urge to reach over and touch his hand. Before he could do so, the carriage doors pinged open, and so he just had to follow him into studio three and await the other singer’s arrival.

 

Hyuk arrived just several minutes after 8am just like he had promised, dressed in a white shirt and jeans this morning, but still looking so very sharp. Jimin was wearing one of Yoongi’s tee-shirts for the second day and no underwear, and he most certainly didn’t feel sharp or attractive.

 

“Were you two up all night working on the track?” Hyuk joked when he saw their sleepy faces, unable to resist the joke.

 

“Mmm, gonna go smoke and get some coffee from the café upstairs, be right back,” Yoongi muttered as he got off the chair to leave the recording studio, leaving them both alone together for the very first time.

 

Jimin was seated on the sofa facing the console, and when Hyuk moved to sit down on the other end, he caught him by complete surprise. It was the closest that they had physically been since taking a photograph together, and he could smell cologne coming from him in gentle wafts that was highly pleasing to his nose.

 

“Are you feeling OK today, Jimin? Is your throat good?”

 

“Huh? Oh, yeah, it’s good,” Jimin replied as he instinctively touched his throat. “I don’t have a strong throat, but I didn’t strain as much yesterday thanks to your tips, so, it feels a lot better than usual. Usually, my throat’s killing me after a day of singing, no matter how extensively I warm-up.”

 

“The momentary pain will be worth it when the pay cheque gets cashed,” Hyuk joked with a quick smile. “Trust me, from one singer to another.”

 

“Um, Hyuk? What exactly…I mean, how much money do you make from your record deal with M&M?” Jimin asked curiously, hoping that the question didn’t sound too intrusive or disrespectful. “I was just wondering, because I don’t know a lot about contracts and-”

 

“You want to know my net worth, huh? Well, I’m currently broaching a billion won, before this single and the album drops, Jimin,” Hyuk replied confidently.

 

“Holy shit!”

 

“I’m finishing up my contract, it was an exclusive deal, so, I’ve got to complete the full year. Moon Media knows that I’m moving onto a bigger label the second that I’m finished with it, because the paperwork is all there and ready to be signed. But I’m paying my dues and making sure that I pay back every single won that they spent to get my name out there.”

 

“How did you net that much, Hyuk?” Jimin asked, unable to help himself because he was so shocked to hear that he had that much cash rolling into his bank already, even after deductions for his advance and taxes. “You can’t make that much on an exclusive deal alone, right? Not just a single year; so, where did it all come from?”

 

“I produce, compose and write lyrics, Jimin,” Hyuk replied, before quickly adding. “Not only for myself, but for idols and other artists. I’ve got a different pen name, of course, just for the sake of it - ‘Seoulja’. Do you recognise the name?”

 

“Seoulja? Oh my god, you produce title tracks for SJ Records! That name is in, like, all of their latest hit songs! You produced that Good Girlz’s song, right? The one that was number one for weeks - shit, what was it called? It goes, um…‘boy you make my heart go pop-pop-pop’!” Jimin sang huskily, wriggling in his seat to do the chest popping motion and making the other man start laughing. “‘Ooo, ooo-ooo ooo’!”

 

“I’m sorry,” Hyuk said with a pained grimace. “I know how annoying that song is after the hundredth time of hearing it on the radio. If it helps redeem myself, I had to listen to that over and over whilst working on it until I thought that I was going to go crazy.”

 

“Ah, no! It was a good song,” Jimin reassured with a head shake. “It’s no wonder that you managed to net that much money, Hyuk, that’s amazing.”

 

“Well, Yoongi taught me a lot of things when we were kids, and I started making my own music because of him. I spent a couple of years in America when I was studying in university, got some good guidance working for a big company as an intern. It turns out that I’m pretty damn good at it, because I’ve topped the music charts a dozen times in this country as a producer alone,” Hyuk said, not at all bragging but just stating the facts.

 

“See, um, I know that Yoongi does a lot of that stuff too but he…he lives in this tiny apartment room and he jokes about paying the bills and stuff, but he’s got a black card and a Rolex, and I’m just…confused.”

 

“Yoongi’s net worth, the last time that I checked, it’s about…850 million won. Something like that,” the other man remarked in a casual fashion.

 

“Are you…are you being serious, Hyuk?”

 

“I’m being completely serious, he does the exact same shit that I do, except he doesn’t sing, so, he nets just as much cash if he pens a hit track, Jimin. If he was out there dropping mixtapes for recognition and getting himself a single or mini album on the charts, he would be making even more cash, but he hasn’t released anything official yet. He just sticks to the clubs for some goddamn unknown reason.”

 

“Um, you and Yoongi are good friends, right?”

 

“Yes, we’re good friends. We go way back, I’m talking 2008 - the year that we first started playing around on music together after we bumped into each other at our piano teacher’s house. I heard Yoongi killing it on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony whilst I was waiting in the lobby and, of course, he wasn’t even supposed to be playing that. Yoongi had decided to learn it himself because - and I quote - it seemed like a fun idea to him at the time.”

 

“Oh really?” Jimin asked, vaguely feeling like he knew that symphony from his own musical lessons as a child, though they hadn’t panned out like his ballet lessons had.

 

“So, we started talking to each other back then between lessons, and we moved onto hanging together at arcades and shit as friends, and then we progressed onto clubs as casual partners and- Jimin, why are you asking me all of these questions about Yoongi all of a sudden?” Hyuk asked suddenly, his nostalgic musings turning into a sudden question that caught him completely off-guard.

 

“Well, we’ve only knew each other for around a week or so, and I was just curious about him, is all,” Jimin mumbled as he turned away from him and stared at the console.

 

“Jimin, I’m going to give you some words of advice about Yoongi; OK?”

 

“Oh…OK.”

 

“Yoongi is an open book, you’ve just got to learn how to read him,” the older man stated. “It’s hard reading him, I know, trust me, I know that personally. A lot of people are put off even trying to learn because they look at his face and assume things - he’s cold, he’s distant, he’s a bastard. He’s cursed with having the stoniest face in existence and-”

 

“I don’t think that he’s stoney,” Jimin interjected suddenly.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I, um, I said that I don’t think that he’s stoney,” he repeated in a quiet voice.

 

“If you don’t think that, then why aren’t you asking him all of these questions, Jimin?” Hyuk remarked, catching him out with the question and putting him on the spot.

 

“I…I don’t know, Yoongi seems to be shy to me - shy and a little bit private,” he replied with a soft shrug. “I’m scared that asking him questions might make him uncomfortable, he seems to be uncomfortable a lot of the time, especially in the clubs. He talks about how the guys there talk shit about him, but he never expands on what that means exactly, and he says things sometimes about…about being different, and I wanna know why, but I’m too scared to ask. I guess that I’m hoping that he’ll tell me one day instead, so that I don’t have to ask him first, you know?”

 

“He’s said all of that to you already?” Hyuk asked curiously, his expression shifting into something that looked like surprise, and so Jimin nodded at the question. “Then…I don’t think that you have to worry, because I think that Yoongi is going to tell you what you want to know at some point. I don’t know when exactly, but I do know that he will, and I’m telling you this as his friend; yes?”

 

“OK.”

 

“Maybe, Yoongi thinks that you’re different too,” Hyuk suggested as he shifted to cross one leg over the other comfortably. “Are you…different, Jimin?”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, wondering what exactly he could possibly mean by the word ‘different’. But before he could open his mouth and ask him any more questions, the studio door swung inwards and Yoongi stepped inside again. He had two steaming Styrofoam containers in hand and he moved to go over to the sofa.

 

“Jimin, honey and chamomile tea,” Yoongi said as he held one of the containers out to him. “It’s hot, so, be careful, yeah?”

 

“Thanks, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he accepted the container from him, watching him moving to sit down in one of the chairs in front of the console and sipping at his own serving of black coffee.

 

“Hyuk, I’m gonna play over the harmonies again, yeah?” Yoongi suggested, twisting in his seat to fold one arm on the console. “There’s something off with the pitch, I think your guy fiddled around too much with the tuning; lemme give it a shot, huh?”

 

“Yoongi, you’re not contracted to work on this single,” Hyuk remarked, even as his lips curled up in a knowing grin as the other man stretched across the console and start hitting buttons. “I’m not paying you for this, any fiddling that you do, it’s entirely from a mixture of pity and your crippling perfectionism, and you don’t pay for charity.”

 

“Good thing I’m feeling charitable today, mmm?” Yoongi retorted, glancing back at them and giving them both a quick and cheeky grin.

 

Jimin slid his gaze over to look at Hyuk as he took his first sip of the tea, and he could see that he was looking right back at him; their secret conversation about Yoongi and him also being ‘different’ still hanging in the air between them.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“…and it took just under two days for us to get enough of the title track down to be satisfied with it. Me and D-boy didn’t actually have to stay for quite a large chunk of the second day, but we really wanted to make sure that it was good. Andre had to record his lines, but he did so with an ease that I found inspiring and unbelievable. It was pretty obvious to me how many years of lessons that he’d had as a child, and how many that I needed to even hope to catch up with him. But I felt that…with Andre and D-boy’s guidance, I could start trying to achieve that level too.”

 

“I’m curious, Jimin. Not being a professional musician, or even trained to a lesser degree, like a lot of your fans and a lot of people that will watch and read this interview, I must ask you this question. How exactly can you tell the difference between a good singer - that is someone with a pleasing voice and a good level of skills, who may or may not have been trained; and a great singer - who is on a level above the good singers in terms of skills and sound?”

 

“Ah, that’s easy! You can tell the difference by listening to me singing on ‘feeling your body’ and Andre singing on his latest single.”

 

[This wisecrack makes both Hoseok and Taehyung laugh, and Jimin cracks a smile at camera A that looks both genuine and amused, rather than forced.]

 

“No, but being serious. Hmm, it might not be that apparent on a song, when you’ve got hours of multiple takes and auto-tune to save the day. But in a live performance, you can tell the clear differences. It’s mostly with breathing and control that gives it away, and Andre really had to give me starter tips on how to correct that. I had to learn how to strengthen my diaphragm through deep lung breathing exercises and everything. It was a lot of hard work, but it was the kinda shit that I needed.”

 

“Deep lung breathing exercises sounds like a form of torture, Jimin.”

 

“Ha! After doing it over and over, it kinda feels like torture, Hoseok. Not that it hurts, but because it takes such a deep level of concentration when you’re a beginner that it’s so easy to accidentally slip into vertical breathing again. That is, breathing into your upper lungs instead of your lower lungs. When that happens you just wanna scream, because then you have to stop and start all over again.”

 

“Fascinating.”

 

“Hmm, so, that’s how you notice the difference, most certainly on live performances. Combine this with the fact that a lot of singers, idol singers anyway, take a long time to get it right because they’re dancing too. So, though you might not hear the differences on a recorded song, you’ll hear them in a live performance. Also, don’t mistake tone as a precursor for skills either, because someone could have an unusual tone that listeners don’t like and think means they can’t sing, when in fact, they might actually be incredibly skilled.”

 

“Next time someone tells me that I can’t sing, I’ll be sure to tell them that I have a unique tone.”

 

[Jimin snorts at Hoseok’s joke as he shifts on the sofa, his eyes quickly glancing across the hotel room as if trying to locate something.]

 

“So, um, we stayed that day to both support Andre through the recording process, and to observe him. Me, more than D-boy, of course. Being a fan and hoping to pick up tips from him, I wanted to spend as long as I could in the booth with him. That was two whole days, and in that time we had everything down for ‘I like ya’, and he was all done with the two other tracks too, minus the mixing.”

 

“The fact that this process took more-or-less the same amount of time as Killuh’s single, but contained more songs, I think that it reflects upon Andre’s skills.”

 

“It does, but Andre had D-boy and his own guy, CJ, working on the track with him too, and not just a single producer. So, he did have more talent on the project, in Killuh’s defence.”

 

“There was a lot of talent in that studio for the project, Jimin, including you.”

 

[Jimin hums at this compliment, lifting his hand to run his fingers across his lips as he drops his gaze to stare at the floor. Four seconds pass before he opens his mouth again.]

 

“Hey, I’m just gonna use the restroom.”

 

“Of course, Jimin. It’s the door on the far left. If you would like to take another break, just say. OK?”

 

“OK.”

 

[Jimin shifts to get off the sofa at this, quickly glancing between Hoseok and Taehyung as he moves out of the frame. His footsteps and rustling clothing are like static background noise from his microphone as he crosses the hotel to enter the bathroom. Ten seconds later, the softest thumping sound signals that he has just closed the door.]

 

“Taehyung?”

 

[Hoseok’s voice is low, almost a whisper so that Jimin will not hear him talking from the bathroom. The rustle of him shifting in his seat and then a series of crackling noises sound as he presumably covers his microphone, so that he can carry on talking. His voice is highly muffled as a result, and just about understandable.]

 

“Is this interview going good or is this interview going fucking good, hmm?”

 

“It’s going good, Hoseok, like, really good and-”

 

[Taehyung slips his headphones free so that he can talk with ease, a series of soft rustles picked up from camera A.]

 

“and I can’t believe how…how natural this whole thing’s flowing right now. Like, goddamn, are you magic or something?!”

 

“You know it.”

 

[There is a hint of smugness in Hoseok’s tone at this, but it is well-deserved smugness from a job well done rather than from arrogance.]

 

“He’s just- he’s saying everything that we could possibly want him to say, completely on his own terms. He’s got facts on the other rappers that he’s spilling left, right and centre, and I know there’s more shit to come. He’s got these…these fantastic and beautiful moments developing between him and D-boy that paint a-a romantic atmosphere for everyone, and even Andre’s low-key in on this shit; letting him talk about him during the interview! This shit right here, this could be a documentary, never mind an interview, and I’m being serious! Park’s just…I don’t even know what to say right now, Hoseok.”

 

“And you were worried that he was going to be a diva.

 

“What can I say? I was wrong, I was really wrong, and I’m glad of it. Goddamn, Hoseok, this is golden!”

 

[Taehyung’s voice is now an excited whisper, showcasing just how good he feels about this ongoing interview. From the bathroom, the sound of the toilet being flushed fills the hotel room, quickly followed by the soft roar of the running tap as Jimin cleans his hands.]

 

“I feel bad for even assuming that he was a diva, ‘cos he’s not even close. He’s humble, he’s funny, he’s great on camera and with his words. I just can’t believe how good this interview’s going right now.”

 

“It’s set to get even better because he’s got so much more to tell. His first singles, his ongoing relationship with D-boy - both in terms of business and the personal, the collaborations, the awards season - Taehyung, we’ve only just scratched the surface! Can you believe it?!”

 

[Both Hoseok and Taehyung make noises at this, hushed but excited noises as they wriggle in their seats and quickly flick through the interview pages.]

 

“I know, I know! He’s given us a lot of stuff about D-boy already, though, which’s surprising. I mean, I thought that he might downplay it, y’know, not focus on the…the, uh, the developing feelings between them this in-depth? But, hot damn, Hoseok, he’s going for it. Do you, uh, do you think that he’s gonna come out in this interview? ‘Cos I think he just might and-”

 

[The sound of the tap suddenly stops running from the bathroom, and so Taehyung stops talking abruptly. The creaking sound of him settling back in his chair is detected from camera A, and Hoseok lets this hang in the air for a moment before giving him a succinct reply.]

 

“We’ll just have to wait and see, Taehyung.”

 

[They both fall silent at this, as the sound of the bathroom door softly creaking echoes from across the hotel room. Jimin exits it, his clothes rustling and his footsteps softly thumping as he moves to get back to the sofa. Ten seconds pass before he reappears, a quick flash of his distressed jeans revealing a great deal of richly tanned skin through the tears in the denim before he shifts to drop back onto the seat. Jimin rakes his hair back off his brow as he glances between the three cameras.]

 

“Am I in the right spot, Taehyung?”

 

“Uh…a little to the left would be good and-”

 

[Jimin slides to his right on the sofa, following Taehyung’s suggestion in reverse so that he can create a little distance.]

 

“That’s perfect, you were just a little bit too close the camera C, and it saves me having to adjust it. All that I could see was your nose and cheek, it was kinda funny.”

 

“Oh, you don’t want closeups of my skin right now, Taehyung. I look like shit, no amount of makeup can cover that; though the girl at the salon tried her goddamn hardest to help me out.”

 

“I think that D-boy was right, Jimin, makeup can cover everything. I don’t see anything right now. No blemishes at all.”

 

“Yeah, you look clear to me, Park, and you look clear on the cameras too. The lighting doesn’t show a thing, so, don’t worry about it.”

 

[Jimin does not reply to this as he reaches up to discreetly touch his cheek, no doubt touching his skin to feel for these so-called breakouts. Nothing is visible on camera A, both as a result of the distance and lighting.]

 

“Are we taking a break right now, Hoseok? What time’s it?”

 

[Taehyung shifts to glance at his watch at this question.]

 

“Uh…drawing close to midnight now, it’s 11:35. I dunno about you guys, but I’m feeling like I need some food right about now. Did you eat, Jimin?”

 

“Did I eat? No, I only had a light breakfast this morning, Taehyung, on account of everything. I was too nervous and busy to eat dinner, so, I’m running on empty right now.”

 

“What about you, Hoseok? You down for some food?”

 

“It’s entirely up to Jimin, if he wants to take a break.”

 

[Jimin quickly looks between the two of them, before he reaches up to rub at the back of his neck.]

 

“Food? Oh, um…I guess that would nice?”

 

“There’s restaurants downstairs, a Chinese and European one. I’d have to turn off the cameras and take off the mics if we went downstairs though…”

 

“Oh, I forgot about that, um…”

 

[Whilst the two other men talk, Jimin moves to slip his phone out of his sweatshirt pocket. He quickly unlocks it with his thumb, hitting the screen several times without taking his eyes off his phone. The faint bluish-white glow casts over his features as he browses something on it, possibly his messages or his Twitter feed.]

 

“We don’t have room service, Hoseok. I mean, even if we did that would just add onto the tab, and Woo would kill us for racking up a bill at this place.”

 

“Hmm, no, there was no room service included, you’re right. I can include the bill for the food on the tab of expenses. I’m sure that Woo won’t mind a single meal, Taehyung.”

 

“Food in these places can be pretty fucking expensive, Hoseok. I got cash on me, I could cover the costs, no problem. I-”

 

“Ah, you both sound like Yoongi right now…”

 

[Jimin’s lips curl up at the corners at this, his gaze still focused on his phone screen. The remark makes the two other men stop talking suddenly, the hotel room falling silent for five seconds.]

 

“Ordering and paying for food without even including me in the discussion. I’ve already got the Pizza Etang app open and I’m looking at the premium specials, so…”

 

[Jimin glances up from his phone screen at this, shooting the both of them a quick smile that has Taehyung snorting laughter as he sits back in his chair.]

 

“The hotel food in this chain’s expensive, trust me, I know. Especially here in Seoul. Taehyung’s right about that. It’s too much of a hassle to shut everything down. Why not order takeaway? It takes awhile for the order to arrive, so, we can order it and then resume the interview whilst we wait; right?”

 

“I like that idea, Park!”

 

“Of course you like that idea, Taehyung, it’s pizza and you-”

 

[Before Hoseok can finish this observation, the sound of Taehyung getting to his feet is detected by camera A. The other man stretches with a series of grunts and then moves to cross the hotel room, passing behind the sofa so that his upper body is caught on the frame.]

 

“What pizza do you usually order huh, Park?”

 

“Me? It’s the hot chicken and pastrami pizza, all the way, Taehyung! You?”

 

[Jimin twists to look over his shoulder at the other man, who has went into the kitchen-area to raid the mini bar. The sound of glass clinking together is audible as he presumably retrieves more water for them.]

 

“Oh man, it’s gotta be the fish fillet and egg shrimp! The jalapeños on that baby, whoa! The little chunks of bacon and tempura too; it’s just so delicious!”

 

“Oh, I’ve tried that one too, it’s nice. What about you, Hoseok?”

 

“Hoseok’s never ordered Pizza Etang before; can you believe it, Park?”

 

“Seriously? Never once?”

 

[Jimin’s expression is one of comic shock as he twists to look at the other man, and Taehyung’s rumbling guffaws are picked by camera A. He looks at Hoseok like the other man has just admitted a shocking truth, or has told him some groundbreaking news, rather than just finding out that he has never sampled a particular brand of takeaway pizza. The sound of Taehyung cracking bottle caps free is crisp on the air.]

 

“How long’ve you been up here in Seoul for? A week?”

 

[This makes Hoseok start laughing too, a rather soft sound that makes Jimin grin at him; his eyes crinkling at the corners.]

 

“No, I moved up to Seoul from Gwangju in…what, 2010? I was fifteen then, so, back in my final years of middle school right before high school. Much longer than a week, though not as long as you.”

 

“And you’ve never ordered Pizza Etang!”

 

“It’s nuts, right?”

 

[Taehyung crosses the hotel room again with three bottles of water in hand. He leans over the back of the sofa to place them down on the table, pouring most of one bottle out for Jimin, before filling up two more glasses. Then he grabs the two glasses and moves out of the frame again.]

 

“Thank you, Taehyung.”

 

[As Hoseok retrieves his glass and takes a sip of water, Jimin resumes checking his phone because he is no doubt ordering food on it. After thirty seconds, he makes a noise and then speaks again.]

 

“Should I order two heat boxes? You get a small pizza and four side orders: chicken tenders, potato wedges, a serving of spaghetti and cheese tteokbokki with dips, in each one. We could share the two, and the order is, like, so filling that you’ll explode. Hoseok gets to sample the different varieties of food too.”

 

“They serve spaghetti and tteokbokki at a pizza place, Jimin?”

 

“Well, it’s more like an Italian place than a pizza place, they just specialise in pizza.”

 

“Oh, I see.”

 

[The confusion in Hoseok’s voice makes Jimin grin again. His thumbs are dancing across his screen, the sound of them softly padding on the glass detected by his microphone.]

 

“Wait, how much is a heat box order, Taehyung?”

 

“…23,900 won a for the heat box order, I think? Maybe 24,000, it might’ve increased since I last ordered from there, Hoseok.”

 

“OK, we could share the order and cover the costs on the company tab, so that Jimin doesn’t have to-”

 

“I don’t need to be reimbursed for a pizza deal, you guys.”

 

[Jimin smiles softly at this as he carries on hitting his phone screen with his thumbs, presumably completing the takeaway food order for them.]

 

“I’m ordering and I’m paying, so, there’s nothing to discuss. Just enjoy the pizza.”

 

“Does D-boy enjoy pizza, Park? You said that he liked ordering takeaway a lot, especially naengmyeon. That’s kinda funny, I think. My grandmother loves that shit, I ate so much of that as a kid when I used to stay with her, that I ended up getting sick of it.”

 

“He likes pizza, Taehyung, yeah; who doesn’t? As for the naengmyeon, I have nothing to say. At least it’s one thing that he’ll happily eat, seeing as he’s so picky with everything else. Yoongi likes ordering takeaway food a lot because of his picky habits, instead of cooking. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t cook, just that he was always too tired and busy to do so back then. But he’s cooked food for us before, and he’s really good at it. Thankfully, he doesn’t just cook naengmyeon.”

 

[Jimin lowers his phone at last, hitting the lock button with his thumb as he places it down on the table.]

 

“OK, we should be able to resume the interview whilst we wait for the order. Hoseok, um, do you have any more questions? Like you had when we resumed after the last intermission?”

 

[Jimin grabs his glass and lifts it to take several quick sips, glancing between the water and the other men’s faces as he does so.]

 

“Hmm, just give me a minute to get myself in order and-”

 

[There is a series of rustling sounds as Hoseok moves his papers around, followed by gentle leather creaking as he moves around in his chair. Jimin sips at his water whilst he does so, and the sound of Taehyung settling down to resume monitoring is also detectable under the loud paper rustles.]

 

“OK, Jimin. We’ve discussed Killuh a lot, and so I think that it’s time that we focused on someone else. I think that we should talk about Andre and D-boy. To the extent that you’re willing and able to talk about them, that is.”

 

“Sure thing, ask away and I’ll try and answer what I can, Hoseok.”

 

[As Hoseok gets comfortable and wets his tongue with his water, Jimin puts his own glass down on the table and gets comfortable on the sofa. He gestures at Taehyung to check that he looks good on the various feeds, and Taehyung presumably gestures back with a thumbs-up or OK sign to let him know that he is.]

 

“OK, Jimin, time to review a few things, starting with Andre. Now, for the sake of the audience, I think that we should talk about him as an artist first, as well as the man behind the persona.”

 

“He’s got many accolades to talk about.”

 

“Andre, whose real name is Kwon Sanghyuk, also known as his pen name - Seoulja, is quite possibly one of the most talented artists in the country right now. He has two years of working for the massive American Universal Music label under the tutelage of dozens of producers. Upon coming back to Korea to start producing for idols, and to release his own material as a solo artist, he’s not went without notice. Winner of MAMA 2015’s best new male solo singer and best male vocalist, and 2016’s best male vocalist for the second year in a row, alongside dozens of other awards. He’s the highest grossing male artist in the country right now - solo artist, I should say, because you and D-boy currently hold the title for the highest grossing male hip hop artists. It’s fair to say that he’s a powerhouse in the industry, and he’s the very powerhouse that helped you with your budding career as a signed artist.”

 

“He is, and I really needed his help, Hoseok. I’m eternally thankful to Andre for presenting me the chance to feature on ‘I like ya’, alongside all of the promoting and hard work that he put into helping me with my singles and album as a co-producer.”

 

“We all know Andre as an artist, from his countless interviews, but we don’t know him as a real person, so to speak, Jimin. You do, however.”

 

“I do.”

 

“Who is Andre as a real person? Who is Kwon Sanghyuk when he’s not behind a microphone or a piano on awards show stages?”

 

“Um, there’s not much to say. Hyuk’s a clean, respectful, kind and talented artist. We spent a lot of time with him in studios, and we spent time with him outside of them too. ‘We’ meaning me and D-boy, of course. Hyuk wanted him working on a few tracks with him for his upcoming album back then, and he was trying to wrangle another feature from me too, along with a few other singers and rappers. Soosoo, who has such a beautiful singing voice - we met her once and she was so polite. Um, there was Blackstar, the rapper - he’s really good, and he seemed to get along well with D-boy. I’ve never had any unpleasant exchanges or experiences in Hyuk’s company, he’s just a very nice guy.”

 

“From what you’ve said, he sounds like a very nice guy, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm, he’s as dedicated to his music as D-boy is, he’s just got a much healthier dedication, of course. He knows when to stop and take a break for the sake of his health. He works on as much of his material as he can, he really is the most talented artist in the country in my opinion. I think that he and D-boy are on par with one another. They’re completely different artists, but they’re both incredibly talented. I’m…well, I’m awed to be included in song credits with them, and to receive awards alongside them.”

 

[Jimin makes a soft noise at this, dropping his head to study his hands. His dangling earrings dance from the movement and twinkle in the lighting.]

 

“I’m curious, Jimin. We’ve spoken about him a lot so far, but I think that we should talk about D-boy as both an artist and a real person. What were your first impressions upon meeting him? Without knowing who he was, his credentials and such; what kind of person did you think that he was from those initial meetings?”

 

[Jimin thinks this question over for a moment, his brow furrowing slightly as he does so.]

 

“Like I said earlier, he was quiet at first, not in an obvious way. You know? He’d speak, but maybe only a couple of words here or there, or it took a little bit of effort to get him to do so instead of just nodding or humming in reply. Usually it was music, his crew or his lyrics that helped get him to start talking openly, and when he did, he was very animated. It’s strange to me now, looking back on it, because I don’t know him that way anymore.”

 

[Jimin pauses for three seconds, wetting his lips with his tongue before he continues talking.]

 

“Those were my first impressions upon meeting him: quiet, reflective, interesting. In contrast, I now know him as, like, the guy that I can depend on for everything and anything. I know him to be talkative, to have a lot more energy that he seems to have, and to be a little bit immature at heart even when he tries his hardest to hide it. I doubt that a lot of people would believe me, but that’s who he is as a person, not an artist.”

 

“A lot of people that don’t like D-boy claim that he’s arrogant, that he’s cold, he’s antisocial. Yet, you’re telling us that he refused to brag about his producer credentials to you. You’re claiming that D-boy has these periods of quiet reflection and shyness, that he avoids cameras and making up too much hype around himself save for the obvious stuntin’ at hip hop clubs. You’re painting him as a man that took care of his crew almost like a father so far, and I’m curious: why do people say these things about him if they’re not true, Jimin?”

 

“Because they don’t know him, and that’s the reason why.”

 

[Jimin shrugs hard at this, a lock of hair falling forward over his brow.]

 

“D-boy’s reserved, quiet, shy, whatever - he’s not an open book, just like Andre said so. Half of these rappers calling him shit don’t even know him, they just know his name and face from the news, Twitter, and other rappers. The ones that do know him, they’re the ones out here defending him in the clubs and online.”

 

“Do you think that his shyness might be the reason why people claimed such things? In a scene as loud as the Seoul hip hop scene, perhaps his lack of hype and his personality just seemed incompatible to these rappers.”

 

“Exactly, D-boy was in the scene for the music, not for the posing. He’s great at stuntin’, but he has to be, and stuntin’ allowed him to build up hype and character in a way that he was best at: by rapping. He didn’t hang around clubs desperate for attention and promotions on Twitter. He went to perform, maybe grab a beer whilst working on his lyrics, and that was it. Maybe they can’t understand that, because they don’t care about the music enough.”

 

“From what I’ve gathered from your early interactions, D-boy used music and business as a very good reason for you two to stick close together. It was as if you were in his crew, but you weren’t.”

 

“Hmm, D-boy did things for me back then that he didn’t have to do. He taught me how to get attention and basically got me signed onto M&M through my Twitter account. So, he helped me learn to promote and promoted me, much like he did for his crew. He went to my very first session with Andre just because he knew that I was nervous and that I needed someone there to support me, even when he had projects to complete. Shit, he’s not arrogant or cold or antisocial. I-”

 

[Jimin let his breath out in a heavy sigh, shifting on the sofa as he did so. He looks to be trying to get himself under control, either to avoid saying something that he should not, or to rein in his emotions. He pulls his lips in as he fixes his hair, running his gaze over the table in front of him for three seconds before lifting it to look at the other man.]

 

“I owe a lot to D-boy for getting me this far and changing me as an artist and a person, Hoseok. This interview, it’s not about me defending myself, it’s about me defending us. Do you understand? As artists and people.”

 

“I understand, Jimin.”

 

“So, I quickly found my first impressions about him changing the longer that we spent together. D-boy revealed traits in himself that I hadn’t even expected, like being humble about his talents and achievements, which’s a rare thing to find in the Seoul scene; and being frugal and modest in regards to daily life.”

 

“Yes, you briefly mentioned that D-boy had amassed quite the net worth by the time that you two were friends. You said…850 million in royalties, yes?”

 

“Uhuh, he had that much as of early May, 2016.”

 

[Jimin nods confidently with this statement.]

 

“D-boy currently has exactly sixty-one production and composition credits under his belt, and at the time of you both meeting, he had thirty. Yet, he felt no need to tell you this when you first met, and he seemed to prefer giving out the impression that he was just another rapper just like everyone else in the clubs. There was this…struggling to make it kind of aspect to his behaviour, yes?”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“It’s no wonder that upon meeting him you were completely unaware of the fact that he was such a successful producer and composer, Jimin, because D-boy most certainly tried to hide his credentials away. So, why exactly did D-boy carry on living in a small apartment room over in Jongno-gu? Why didn’t he take Andre’s advice and at least relocate to Gangnam-gu? Why didn’t he consider purchasing his own professional studio space, to make life easier for himself?”

 

“Why do think that he acted like that, Hoseok?”

 

“Why do I think that he played up this act?”

 

[Hoseok falls quiet as he ponders deeply on this question. After ten seconds of silence, he starts talking again.]

 

“Well, I imagine that D-boy didn’t want other rappers knowing about the fact that he produced and composed music for idols, for fear of judgement. The struggling act doesn’t seem…fake to me, not even remotely. I genuinely think that D-boy struggled a lot when he first started out making music, because he had to work hard to make it from Daegu to Seoul and become a contracted producer for M&M and SJ Records. It wasn’t handed to him on a platter, he had to work for that. So, either D-boy was ashamed of being labelled a sellout by other rappers, or he was so used to his past lifestyle that he just never adjusted to living with money.”

 

“We discussed this matter together shortly after I found out about his royalties, so, I’ll be sure to talk about it in great detail, Hoseok.”

 

“Then let’s stop theorising about the enigma that is D-boy, and resume learning about him. That developmental deal, Jimin, it’s been looming on the horizon this entire time.”

 

“Um, it was about…two weeks after the recording session when M&M pulled me into their building and asked me if I wanted to sign a developmental deal with them. Andre had still been mixing his material for the single, but he must’ve played the light mix to company executives or whatever, because they called me in for a meeting to discuss my potential future under their company.”

 

[Jimin lifts his gaze to study the ceiling for a moment, going over the facts in his mind so that he can explain everything in great detail. His expression is one of total concentration.]

 

“Um, Andre had dropped his pre-release song as a digital download on April 27th, and it was in the top charts pretty much overnight, just like we knew that it would have been. It might’ve helped persuade them into taking a risk on a deal with me. I don’t know, I just know that M&M said that they wanted me on that deal first, before anyone else approached me with any contracts, and that they had a lot to offer me as a young and new artist.”

 

“Well, Jimin, I think that a lot of people assume that the reason why M&M wanted you was because of your talent, not only because of the fact that Andre’s pre-release single sold well.”

 

[This makes Jimin smile softly as he drops his gaze back down to look at the other man.]

 

“Let’s talk about the developmental deal in detail, Jimin. You said that when they interviewed you in regards to the deal, they said that they had a lot to offer you as a new artist. What exactly do you mean by that?”

 

“What I didn’t know at the time was that artists on a developmental deal got so much more than a piece of paper that meant they had a record deal. I was given a weekly allowance, and I slipped most of it into a savings account. I even entitled the account ‘money from M&M’ because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t waste a single won that I didn’t need to spend. They paid for me to have singing lessons and everything.”

 

“Please explain exactly what is involved in a developmental deal package, Jimin, for the sake of our audience.”

 

“Um, OK, well as I said, M&M paid me a weekly allowance and for me to have professional singing lessons. They offered me instrument lessons too, but I turned them down for fear of costing them too much money. My first three singles were called tester singles, as in they wanted to test how I could fare as a singer, not only solo but also with a feature here and there for support.”

 

“This sounds far too good to be true. Was there a catch to this deal, Jimin?”

 

“A small one; there was a clause in my deal that said that if another company wanted me on their payroll, they would’ve had to have paid M&M the cost that they had invested in me: in singing lessons, production, promotion, etcetera. which is completely fair. If no one else wanted me, then M&M would’ve just started taking a cut of my profits when I started selling to pay back my expenses on a following exclusive contract. The representatives told me that they thought that I’d a lot of talent, but I was a diamond in the rough. What they meant by that was that they could see potential profit in me, but they needed to hone my skills to make that profit.”

 

“It makes sense, Jimin, but it also meant expenses too.”

 

“Hmm, unavoidable expenses at that, because all companies would have offered me that deal. But, after much thought about it, and with D-boy’s guidance, I agreed to sign the developmental deal with M&M.”

 

“What was D-boy doing at this point? Were you still spending a lot of time together?”

 

“I’d been spending more nights than not at D-boy’s apartment rather than my own back then, for reasons that we never really addressed. It was like an unspoken thing between us, that we felt no need to mention; you know? Like, D-boy never once asked “Jimin, can you stop showering when I’m tryna to sleep, oh, and when’re you gonna leave again?”.”

 

[Jimin’s attempt at imitating the rapper is pretty good, his slurred accent making the two other men laugh.]

 

“We weren’t working on a track just yet at that point, because D-boy had still been finishing off a lot of projects. But I still ended up bringing a bag of my shit to his apartment room and spending the nights there: experimenting on his controller when he was napping in the morning, sneaking looks at his lyrics when he fell asleep with his notebook in hand and hoping that he didn’t wake up and catch me.”

 

[Jimin’s lips quirk up at this, because he clearly finds the recollection amusing.]

 

“See, back then, I think that we were still playing around with the idea that it was related to my lessons or something. D-boy had his studio, and that way I could record my practice sessions and shit when I wasn’t in M&M’s studios and review my progress personally. He always let me use his studio without any issues. I liked to work in the morning, right after I woke up, and he worked all evening when I was asleep. We had a little system going, and it was nice.”

 

“It sounds very nice, Jimin. I can tell just from your account that you were both so passionate about music, that you were willing to work constantly in the aims of improving.”

 

“So, it was May when I went in to record my first single, May 12th. Andre’s pre-release had been charting for two weeks in the top ten, and the company had dropped his single tracklist in preparation, along with samples and a music video teaser. His fans knew that I was singing on the title track, so, M&M were hoping that the anticipation for his single would work out in my favour…”

 

 

 

 

Jimin woke up with a start, a gasp tearing out of his slack lips as he reached up to clap a hand over his mouth to try and mute the sound. The gasp might just have turned into a scream had he have not woken up in time to swallow it. That was good, because the last thing that he needed right now was to scare the ever-loving shit out of Yoongi in the middle of the night and make a huge ordeal out of nothing. His body was still tense, his back curved ever so slightly up off the mattress, and so he relaxed to drop back down on it with a wheezy sigh. He hadn’t exactly broken out into a full sweat, but his skin felt clammy, and there was beaded perspiration growing on his hairline that he quickly wiped away with the back of his free hand.

 

Huh…huh, shit,” he breathed out through his fingers, squeezing his eyes shut tight as he took several quick breaths through his nose.

 

Jimin’s throat was horribly dry and he swallowed a few times to luckily discover that it felt fine, rather than sharply twinge or ache dully in pain. He couldn’t afford to have a sore throat today of all days, and he lowered his hand from his lips to give his neck a quick rub before opening his eyes again. He stared up at the bedroom ceiling, barely able to even see it because the room was so dark currently. His eyes needed time to adjust to the darkness, but his ears needed no such adjustment.

 

For a moment, he could hear nothing more than his uneven racing heartbeat and deep breathing, and it took a great deal of effort to try and get himself under control.

 

After several minutes of listening to the still air, Jimin heard no noises coming from the rest of the apartment room to signal that Yoongi was awake: no clattering spoons and lightly thumping cupboard shelves echoing from the kitchen; no water running in the bathroom; no footsteps at all. All that he could hear was the usual white noise coming from an open window somewhere in the apartment: rolling cars and rumbling engines, beeping horns and faded music blaring from passing vehicles.

 

Jimin shifted to sit up in the bed with a deep inhale, the covers pooling around his hips as he reached up to massage at the back of his stiff neck and sighed wearily. He opened his eyes slowly as he exhaled, studying the wrinkled white covers as he loosened a tense knot at the back of his neck. Then he gently shoved them aside so that he could climb out of the bed, his bare feet brushing against the cool wood as he moved across the bedroom.

 

Outside of the window, the sky was black - the various skyscrapers and signs still glowing like vibrant beacons and the streetlights resembling distant fireflies down below him. He could see a slight hint of his reflection in the glass as he reached over to grab the plastic handle. With a hard shove, he managed to open it a crack and let a hint of fresh air bleed into the bedroom.

 

Jimin shifted to place his hand on the windowsill for a moment, eyeing the skyline as he breathed in the cool breeze coming in through the gap in the window. It was a blessing right now, for it brushed against his skin and let a shiver of delight run down his bare spine as he tried to get his pulse back to a normal rhythm again. The side of his hand brushed against one of the cool terracotta plant pots on the windowsill, and so he dropped his gaze down to study the various plants. Then Jimin lifted his hand to give the little rounded cactus a stroke with the backs of his fingers, just because he had taken to doing so every now and again.

 

It was just like stroking a pet, he supposed, except a plant wasn’t really a pet. Still, it was the closest thing that Yoongi could get to one in this apartment room, even when it was so very obvious that he would have adored owning his own cat. It was strangely soothing in a way, and he found his breathing regulating as he gave it a couple of strokes.

 

As he tracked a rolling car along the street right below the apartment block, Jimin heard the sound of something lightly thumping from the main-area of the apartment. He turned to look back over his shoulder for a moment, wondering if the other man was going to make any other sounds or if he had maybe just shifted in his sleep and knocked his notebook onto the floor by accident.

 

There was still dim light coming from the main-area, signalling that Yoongi had either fallen asleep with the lights still switched on, or he was wide awake. The former seemed unlikely, whereas the latter was so believable that he just knew that it was the case. It was bleeding through the gap under the door and the slight one that ran down the side of the frame because it was only closed over, rather than shut tight.

 

So, Jimin shifted to grab his tee-shirt from the bottom of the bed and he tossed it on. As he fixed his messy hair and raked it back off his brow, he moved to pull the door open fully and he hovered in the doorway.

 

“Can’t sleep?”

 

Yoongi didn’t even need to look up to know that he was lingering in the doorway, because he had either heard his softly padding footsteps drawing closer to him, or he had noticed his shadow casting over the floor out of the corner of his eye. So, Jimin shifted to lean against the door frame and he tried to think of something to say in response to his question.

 

“No, I’m so nervous, I feel like I’m gonna puke or something,” he mumbled after a moment of thought, folding his arms over his chest and stubbing his bare toes on the flooring. A quick glance at the wall clock told him the exact time. “How can I sleep when I start recording my first single tomorrow, Yoongi? Well, today, seeing as it’s 4am right now.”

 

Yoongi made a series of rather sympathetic noises at this, still jotting down things in his notebook before he turned the page and sniffed hard. The thumping sound had presumably been his mug being placed down on the table, because he could see it sitting on the low table alongside several other things: his Samsung phone, a series of pens, and a presumably empty bowl of Ottogi kimchi ramyeon with a pair of chopsticks still sticking out of it like antennas. So, Jimin lingered in the doorway as he studied the other man.

 

Just like the first night that he had crashed at his apartment, Yoongi still slept (or more aptly napped) on the sofa, even when Jimin had offered time and time again to use it too, so that he could sleep in his own bed. As a result, there was always a pillow and blanket left on the item of furniture, and he was currently using both of them.

 

Yoongi had the pillow against the low armrest behind his back so that he could use it like a big cushion, the blanket tossed over his lap. One leg was cocked up to let him rest his notebook on his thigh and write, and the other was stretched out across the other cushion, so that his bare foot was peeking out from under the soft oatmeal wool. It revealed the fitted cuff of a pair of deep grey sweatpants, which he was wearing with a plain white tee-shirt that swamped his frame just like always. There was no beanie hat on display currently, just a kinked mess of still drying black hair that fell over his square brow in a rather attractive fashion.

 

“What’s up, huh? Are you gonna talk to me or just stand there in the doorway?” Yoongi asked suddenly, his words sounding firm but his tone actually soft. “I ain’t gonna bite you, Jimin.”

 

“I was worried that I might be disturbing you right now,” he replied, gesturing at his notebook for emphasis. “Am I?”

 

“Not at all,” the rapper retorted without missing a beat, his eyes sliding up to give him a quick look before dropping back down to the page in front of him. “What’s stuck in your mind?”

 

“I don’t know, but I hate it. I hate being this nervous about things that I shouldn’t be nervous about,” Jimin sighed as he fiddled with his earring, giving the thin chain a tug so that the star charm dangled back and forth. “I just wanna sleep; why can’t I sleep, Yoongi?”

 

“If I knew how to sleep, don’t you think I’d be doing it, huh?” Yoongi retorted with a quick flash of a smile. “We both ain’t sleeping, even when we know that we should.”

 

“Hmm, drinking coffee at 4am might make it pretty hard to sleep, Yoongi.”

 

“Ain’t coffee, it’s water, but…you just gave me a great idea.”

 

“You hardly needed the encouragement…” he mumbled with a soft head shake.

 

“So, when’re you going to the studio, huh?” Yoongi asked, as he stopped writing in his notebook and finally turned to look up at him.

 

“Um, probably as early as I can,” Jimin suggested with a lazy shrug, not at all really sure when he should do so. “The first train, maybe? When do you think that we should go?”

 

“‘We’?” the other man repeated as he paused in the act of swinging his legs off the sofa, the blanket tossed aside.

 

“Uhuh, we,” he reaffirmed with a nod, unable to stop a rather mischievous smile from appearing on his face.

 

Yoongi thought this bold statement over, his expression blank and his behind hovering over the sofa cushion, and Jimin just waited for his usual smart reply to hit him. It took him a moment, but he straightened up and gave his lower back a kneading rub.

 

“…Sounds like time for coffee,” Yoongi muttered as he grabbed his mug and moved to enter the kitchen-area.

 

Jimin took that as an invitation to sit down on the sofa, and so he tossed the blanket over the back and dropped onto the battered leather with a soft sigh. The other man pottered around the counter for a couple of minutes whilst he brewed the coffee, and then he carried his serving over to him without a single word.

 

“Thank you, Yoongi,” Jimin said with a soft smile as he accepted the mug, wrapping his hands around it and nursing the steaming drink.

 

Rather than reply to this, Yoongi just gave him a soft hair ruffle as he moved to go back over to the kitchen-area and retrieved his own mug of coffee. The action caught Jimin by surprise, made him almost slosh some of his coffee into his lap as he looked up sharply and tracked him across the apartment.

 

The hair ruffle was nothing at all really, just some comfortable physical contact like the occasional hand-holding in subway systems, lifts and the alleyway outside of Flow whilst Yoongi smoked after his weekly performance that he liked to call his ‘stuntin’ session’. It was completely friendly, like the firm shoulder squeezes and the way that Yoongi would rest his chin on the crown of his head when he was giving him lessons on the controller and how to use Cubase; until every one of Jimin’s inhales almost tasted of his cologne and faded cigarettes, and he found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on what he was saying.

 

It was nothing really, but Jimin still found a small lump shooting up into his throat that made it hard to swallow.

 

Yoongi grabbed his own mug and joined him on the sofa again, folding his legs up just like always so that he could curve his stiff back comfortably. Jimin saw that he didn’t look exhausted like usual, which was unexpected considering what time it was right now.

 

“Did you take a nap or something? You look pretty fresh right now, Yoongi.”

 

“I think I drifted off for an hour or so when you were in the shower, and I napped through some of your practise session. But I woke up to the sound of you singing, so, that was a lot nicer than a blaring alarm,” Yoongi said with a quick smile, hovering the steaming mug in front of his lips. “What about you, huh? You been awake that whole time?”

 

“I, um, I actually fell asleep for a light nap too, but I had a nightmare,” Jimin explained as he ran his thumb over the soft curve of the mug handle. “I mean, I think that it was a nightmare. I don’t know? I just know that I woke up scared and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again, and that’s why I decided to come and annoy you, like always.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi asked, after swallowing an experimental sip of coffee and lowering his mug, his eyes round with something that looked like a great interest. “Are you OK? You ain’t annoying me either, Jimin, so don’t say that; yeah?”

 

“Hmm? Oh yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me,” Jimin reassured with a series of nods, his mostly dry hair falling forward across his brow in loose tousles that he made no move to brush back off his face. “It’s just a bad dream, we all get them and they’re nothing to worry about.”

 

“…D’you wanna talk about it?” the other man offered in a quiet voice, his gaze completely focused on his coffee mug. “I can listen at least, and that might help you feel better. Sometimes, talking about the shit that makes us anxious can really help. I know that sounds silly, but hear me out.”

 

“It doesn’t sound silly, I understand what you mean, Yoongi. I…um-”

 

Jimin shifted to place his mug down on the table, freeing up his hands so that he could play with his thumb ring just like always. He dropped his gaze to stare at his hands as he did so, because it was a hell of a lot easier than holding the other man’s eyes as he spoke.

 

“I had a nightmare that I was onstage and I couldn’t sing, not even a single note. My voice was just trapped in my throat and it wouldn’t come out. I mean, I was screaming, Yoongi, and it just wasn’t coming out no matter how much I tried to get it to tear out of my body. There were so many faces in the crowd, staring at me, and the thing is…they weren’t booing or yelling hate. They were just silent: blank faces, dead eyes; staring down at me until I felt as small as an ant and I thought that I was gonna shrivel up and die right there under the heat of the spotlight. It was just crazy, Yoongi,” Jimin sighed, reaching up to brush his messy hair back off his brow at last. “I don’t know, it came out of nowhere, really.”

 

Rather than reply right away, Yoongi took a moment to think over what he had just told him. He made a series of soft hums under his breath whilst he did so, his tongue slipping free to wet his lips as he thought of what to say to him in reply.

 

“D’you feel like…like this deal that you made with M&M is scary, Jimin?” Yoongi said after a moment of silent contemplation, his own gaze still burning into his coffee.

 

“What…what do you mean by ‘scary’, Yoongi?” he asked in return, his voice barely above a whisper.

 

“Are you scared that you’re gonna work hard and make it onto stages like that, except you ain’t gonna be the artist that you really wanna be? That you’ve had to change yourself, maybe sing and act like someone you ain’t, so, you’ve got no control over your body or voice? That’s why you can’t sing, no matter how hard you tried?”

 

It was as if Yoongi was divining the truth from the dark brown surface of his coffee, seeing things in the soft plumes of steam that Jimin couldn’t possibly hope to see. His words resonated deeply within him and made him furrow his brow as he also thought this over deeply.

 

“I…I guess so? I guess that I’m scared of something like that, because I’m not scared about my talent or this upcoming single. I feel pretty optimistic about all of that, and I guess if that scared me then I’d have had a nightmare about it flopping on the charts or something. But to dream about being on a stage, that’s a distant achievement right now, so…yeah. I’d need to work hard to get to that point, and I think that you might be right, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi hummed at this rather than speak, granting him the opportunity to expand on the matter if he felt comfortable enough.

 

Jimin had to take a moment to find the right words, struggling to formulate what was floating around in his brain right now.

 

“I think that I’m scared of hiding myself away behind lyrics that don’t relate to me, you know? Like…like I’m living a lie or something.”

 

Yoongi made a soft sound under his breath as he closed his eyes, not exactly a sigh but close to it.

 

Jimin recalled that raw track of his on his computer, and how he had rapped about living a lie too, and it made him swallow hard as he tugged and twisted at his thumb ring.

 

“It’s silly to wanna be a singer that changes things, and it’s a big dream to have where I’m at right now, but I guess that I wanna be a singer just like that. You know? I don’t wanna be another guy that sings about sex and heartache in thinly veiled metaphors and never gets any deeper than that, because I don’t feel that connection, and I think that having a connection to the lyrics is important. There’s not a lot of songs like that in the music charts right now, they’re all the same. Artists like Hyuk, they can get away with it because they’re just so talented, they could sing complete nonsense and it would be fucking fantastic nonsense. Do you get me, Yoongi?”

 

“I get you, Jimin.”

 

“So, I kinda…wanna tell stories with my songs, I think? Like you do, sometimes, when you rap about working hard and achieving things, rather than just rapping about girls and shit and-” Jimin let his breath out in a heavy sigh. “I don’t know, I’m tired and probably not making much sense, but it’s how I feel. I don’t wanna be fake, Yoongi, and I think I’m scared that I might end up like that after this deal.”

 

“Nah, M&M ain’t gonna change you like that, Jimin. They’re gonna train you as a performer, but they can’t mould you into anything that you don’t wanna be. Yeah? You’ve got a voice, so, use it. Use it and let ‘em know who you wanna be as an artist, ‘cos they’ll listen to you as you grow. Trust me. If you were signed to another company, I wouldn’t be telling you this, but I trust M&M ‘cos they treated Hyuk good, and they let him take control of his own music and go in the direction that he’s always wanted. Shit, they lemme produce his single for him and keep giving me contracts even when I ain’t hot shit, so-

 

“You are hot shit, Yoongi, don’t do that,” he interjected. “Don’t put yourself down.”

 

“So, what can I say? If they treat your crew right, they deserve trust,” he finished over him with a heavy shrug.

 

“Hyuk’s part of your crew?” Jimin asked curiously, furrowing his brow as he studied the other man.

 

“Not Outsider Network, no,” Yoongi rapidly explained as he lowered his mug. “But he’s a business partner and friend, so, he’s part of my crew.”

 

“You call your friends your crew?” he asked, finding his lips turning up into a fond smile for some reason. “That’s kinda funny, but in a sweet way. Why do you do that hmm, Yoongi?”

 

“Your crew is your family, Jimin, especially when you’re so far from home,” Yoongi explained as he scratched at his hair in a fidgeting manner. “Hyuk’s like family to me, he’s a deep thread that runs right down to Daegu and through several years of my life. That’s all there is to it, really.”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, something playing at the back of his mind that he couldn’t seem to push away no matter how much he tried to ignore it. Before he could help himself, he ended up blurting it out.

 

“Don’t you think that my nightmare’s a little hypocritical, Yoongi?”

 

“Huh?” the other man hummed, his eyebrows twitching at this question. “Hypocritical?”

 

“I’m telling you that I’m scared of being a fake artist, and yet I didn’t even create a single aspect of my first single,” Jimin explained as he retrieved his coffee, shifting on the sofa to fold his arm on the low back and get more comfortable. “How can I be scared of my creativity being censored when I didn’t do a single thing?”

 

“You’ll get there soon, Jimin,” Yoongi remarked with a light shrug. “You’re getting lessons, and the longer you spend in studios and taking in the experience, you’ll start playing around with compositions or lyrics. Don’t cut yourself down already, goddamn.”

 

Jimin couldn’t help but smile at this, because Yoongi’s Daegu accent slipped out heavily with the curse. It liked to slip free when he was disgruntled, sleepy, or when he cursed it would seem, which he found highly relatable, because it happened to him too.

 

“Listen, Jimin, two official features,” he pointed out. “That’s what your name’s on right now, and soon to be your first tester single. Don’t think of yourself as being a hack when you haven’t started learning the full depth of being a signed artist yet. If you’d had a couple of years of experience and you’d no drive to even try, then maybe you could think that. But you’re already thinking about wanting to do it, and learning to use a controller between your singing lessons. So give yourself some credit; yeah?”

 

“Hmm, but thinking about wanting to do it, and actually managing to do it are two completely different things, Yoongi,” Jimin remarked in a quiet voice.

 

“You’ll learn, through your coaches at M&M and through me,” Yoongi stated confidently as he dumped his empty mug on the table. “Don’t think that I didn’t hear that little beat you were messing around with yesterday, ‘cos I did, and I liked it. You gonna carry on with that tonight, huh?”

 

“Tonight? No, not tonight.”

 

“Wait…you’re gonna crash in the studio again, ain’t you?” Yoongi remarked as he folded his arms across his chest and cocked his head. His expression revealed to Jimin that he already knew the answer to this question, but he was just asking it for the sake of it. “Jimin…what’d Hyuk say, huh?”

 

“I know, but it’s a long journey from here to Gangnam-gu, Yoongi,” Jimin explained, after swallowing a mouthful of coffee and sticking his tongue out to wet his lips. He noted that Yoongi didn’t point out the fact that he had specified that he would have been coming back to his apartment room instead of his own, should he have decided to not crash in the studio. “If I’m working late, I might miss the train and I can get pretty lost in the music too, just like you.”

 

Yoongi thought this over for a moment, his fingers rubbing and scratching at the sharp jut of his elbow as he stared at him. His eyes were unfocused, however, because he was deep in his thoughts. Then he got off the sofa with a grunt and moved to cross his apartment room.

 

“I got something new to teach you right now, Jimin,” Yoongi said as he stopped in the doorway and cocked his head at him. “C’mon, it’s important.”

 

Jimin hesitated for a few seconds and then he moved to place the coffee mug down on the table. He got to his feet and followed after him, and the other man stepped into his bedroom and went straight over to his wardrobe. He hunkered down to shove his upper body inside, rifling around until he dragged a leather bag free and straightened up again.

 

“This’ what I like to call my ‘studio survival pack’,” Yoongi explained as he dumped the leather bag onto the mattress and proceeded to unzip it. It was spacious-looking to Jimin, looked like the kind of bag that one might use as a carry-on when boarding an aeroplane, for it was far too big for casual everyday use. “Whenever I get called into the studio, I pack this baby with everything I’ll need for a day or two, just in case.”

 

Jimin moved from the doorway to stand by the bed, wondering what exactly he was doing right now. A ‘studio survival pack’? That could have been anything at all. He reached out to stroke his hand along the surface of the bag, his fingers finding the zipper so that he could play with it as he glanced at the other man.

 

Yoongi retrieved another bag from his wardrobe and he dumped it down the bed too, which he assumed might just be for him; a black leather bag that was more-or-less than same size and had two vertical strips of leather down both sides for character. It was a nice bag, might just have been designer like some of the items in his wardrobe, but he had no way of checking for the label discreetly to find out.

 

“A ‘studio survival pack’? Um, OK, so what exactly do you-”

 

But when Jimin looked up again, he caught sight of Yoongi exiting the bedroom. He could hear sounds coming from the bathroom, however, and when he stepped back inside, he saw that Yoongi had something in his hands that he proceeded to dump onto the mattress. It was a clear ziplock baggie filled with toiletries and what looked like medication.

 

“Toothbrush and paste, check. Vitamins, prescriptions and aspirin, check-”

 

Yoongi crossed his bedroom to go over to his desk, retrieving more things that he needed for this so-called survival pack.

 

“Chargers, check. Those are the most important, never forget the chargers,” he continued, completely oblivious to the fact that Jimin was studying the various bottles of pills in the plastic baggie with a great interest. He placed two charger wires down, one for his phone and one for his tablet, and there were also countless pieces of paper that he added with the other items. “Papers, too. If you got any, slip ‘em inside of the pocket lining, so, they don’t get creased or ruined. Trust me, you don’t wanna show up to the studio and realise the paperwork you needed’s all of the way across the city. Notebooks, bring ‘em too.”

 

“Um, OK,” he mumbled, watching him gently slipping said papers into his bag, before he dumped the baggie of toiletries and medication inside of it too.

 

Jimin didn’t have half of these things, and so he just hovered beside the bed and carried on watching him with a great interest. The idea of packing this so-called survival pack was rather genius to him right now, even when he only really needed to pack several things like fresh clothing and a toothbrush, unlike Yoongi - who had more important items that he needed to ensure he didn’t forget or misplace like his paperwork, lyrics and various devices.

 

“You can pack some food, maybe a flask of soup or container of snacks and- shit, I’m gonna go make some food in a second, actually. But first, I gotta finish educating you.”

 

How Yoongi could be this animated right now, after nothing more than a light nap, was beyond Jimin. His own body was tired, but his mind was racing far too much for him to possibly fall asleep. It was good though, because at least Yoongi’s little burst of energy was rubbing off him.

 

“You got a comfort item? A blanket maybe, a plush toy or whatever, bring it with you. If you’re all alone in a studio for most of the night recording, it can get pretty lonely,” the rapper added as he reached up to scratch at his messy hair roughly. “Don’t forget clean underwear, socks, maybe a tee-shirt too, just to stay fresh.”

 

“OK,” Jimin said, just to let him know that he was listening.

 

Yoongi moved to retrieve said items of clothing from his wardrobe and dresser, grabbing a black tee-shirt and some balled-up socks and briefs that he dropped onto the mattress. He paused for a moment to study the spread of items, rubbing at his nose as he presumably tried to think of anything else important that they might just need.

 

“Uh, you take a bag like this with you, and suddenly you feel a lot better about crashing in a studio for a night or two, y’know?” Yoongi finished as he dropped his hand back to his side again.

 

“It’s a great idea, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he moved to grab his own fresh clothing from his holdall bag, which was sitting under the window. “I didn’t even think to bring anything with me, I’d have left with nothing more than my wallet like an idiot.”

 

“Jimin…y’know that I got no grounds to come to your recording sessions like this, right?” Yoongi said in a quiet voice, his hands shoved into his sweatpants pockets and his gaze staring down at the mess of items on his mattress. “If I wasn’t contracted by M&M for projects, they’d kick me outta the place just like anyone else.”

 

“I know, but if rappers can bring their crews with them, why can’t I bring you?” Jimin remarked as he finished pulling his clean underwear out of his bag and dumped it onto the mattress, tugging Yoongi’s bag closer so that he could unzip it.

 

“What, am I your crew or something?” the other man half-asked, half-joked; a witty smile on his face.

 

“Hmm, I don’t need a crew, Yoongi. I just need you,” Jimin said as finished shoving the underwear into the new bag. “Besides, you’re hardly in the way, Yoongi. You’ll snore on the sofa for most of the morning and drink coffee, that’s it.”

 

“Cute,” Yoongi muttered as he shoved everything into his own bag and left it unzipped on the mattress. “This lazy son of a bitch’s gonna go cook us an actual dinner, but sure - all I do is snore on the sofa.”

 

“Did you just say ‘dinner’?” Jimin asked in surprise, pausing in the act of packing his bag and looking up sharply.

 

Yet Yoongi had already left the bedroom, leaving him standing there dumbly for a few seconds until he turned back to the bag. After shoving a clean tee-shirt, two pairs of underwear and socks, and his phone charger inside of it, he went into the bathroom to retrieve his toiletries and dumped them inside of it too. Then he left the bedroom to see what the hell the other man was doing, because his curiosity was overwhelming.

 

The sight of Yoongi retrieving various ingredients from his kitchen was enough to leave him rather dumbstruck. The other man dumped a plastic container onto the counter as he shoved the refrigerator door shut, and then he started pottering around the cupboard shelves; catching sight of him out of the corner of his eye as he got onto tiptoe to grab more stuff.

 

“Pack the rice in the cooker for me, yeah?” Yoongi asked, nodding at the little container of pre-soaked and leftover rice, and so he popped it open and proceeded to start shovelling it into the device. “Can’t be a meal without rice.”

 

Jimin added a cup of water inside with the rice and then he shut the top, eyeing the buttons for a second before hitting one to start the cooking process. Then he turned his attention back to the other man to see him placing a tin of canned kimchi down on the counter. So he shifted to grab the different packets of food to try and guess what he was going to make.

 

There was a carton of tofu, still fully sealed; a random variety of still rather fresh-looking vegetables like beansprouts, scallion, onion and radish; a container of deep brown stock that he had retrieved from the freezer; and several condiments, like chilli flakes, gochujang and soy and sesame oil. Yoongi added a small packet of beef onto the counter, still wrapped up in butchers paper from the market, and then he grabbed two small pans from a hook on the wall to go onto the tiny stove.

 

“Slice the tofu and beef, yeah?” Yoongi mumbled, grabbing the vegetables so that he could rinse them under the tap and then dump them on the counter. “About an inch thick? Maybe?”

 

Jimin had to cut the tofu carton open with scissors first, whilst Yoongi hastily sliced the onion and radish into slivers. Then he accepted the knife from him, cautiously slicing the firm tofu and tender beef into inch thick portions. The other man was in the act of mixing up a braising sauce in a small bowl, quickly stirring some stock, chilli flakes and gochujang into a watery soup-like mixture. As soon as that was done, he placed the some of the onion and all of the tofu slices in the bottom of one of the pans, poured in the braising liquid, and set it to boil.

 

All that Jimin could do was stand there and watch him, waiting for further instructions from Yoongi because he had no clue what he was doing right now. But the other man was too busy concentrating on cooking to even glance at him for once, not even the little side-long glances like usual. It was now obvious to Jimin that he was making a side dish of dubu jorim, and the main dish looked to be yukgaejang, judging from the beef and remaining ingredients that were on the counter.

 

Yoongi blanched the vegetables in the boiling water for just a minute or two, dumping them into a colander in the sink so that he could resume working on the soup. He heated up the oil and chilli flakes in the pan for several seconds, then tossed the beef strips into it and stirred at the mixture to coat the meat thoroughly. He already had pre-prepared stock, and so he dumped it into the pan along with the kimchi, and then he lowered the heat as he gave the soup a quick stir with a ladle.

 

“Mmm,” Yoongi hummed. “Gotta leave that for maybe…twenty minutes? Lower the heat on the jorim, would you? And toss in the scallion and a little more onion, yeah?”

 

“Yoongi, we could’ve just grabbed some takoyaki later or whatever,” Jimin suggested, doing exactly what he had asked. “You don’t have to do all of this.”

 

“Pft, takoyaki’s for supper, not lunch,” Yoongi retorted as he spared a quick glance back over his shoulder at him. “I gotta use most of this shit up by tomorrow, so, why not cook a lunch with it? It’s better than blowing cash on instant tteokbokki and ramyeon, and it’ll fill you up so much better.”

 

“No, it’s good, it’s good that you’re making food like this. You look like you could do with a big meal,” Jimin remarked, dropping his gaze to eye the other man’s svelte frame.

 

Yoongi’s loose sweatpants hid his thin legs from view, but the dipping neckline of his tee-shirt showed the obvious bump of his clavicle against his lightly tanned skin. The sight of his thin necklace chain hanging there caught Jimin’s attention, and he couldn’t seem to drag his gaze away from it.

 

“You’re too…thin, Yoongi.”

 

Before he could even think about what he was doing, Jimin shifted to place a hand on Yoongi’s back. His palm settled in the valley between his shoulder blades, slowly running down the curve of his spine to come to a stop at the soft dip of his very lower back.

 

Yoongi tensed up from his touch, even when it had been just a light stroke down his back; his entire body almost shivering as he turned his head to look at him. His eyes were rounded with something that looked like genuine surprise, rather than shock, and his lips were pouted out in a soft ‘o’ as he stared at him.

 

For a moment, and just a moment, Jimin wondered if he shouldn’t have touched him like that, if he might just have crossed a boundary that he should have stayed well behind. Yoongi might just take hold of his hand and elbow often, and sleepily hold onto him when they were napping in recording studio chairs sometimes, but that didn’t mean that he had earned enough permission to touch him first like that.

 

Yet Yoongi didn’t move or even speak to tell him to not touch him, rather he just held his eyes unblinkingly.

 

Jimin slowly lifted his hand again so that he could reach over the space between them, breaking eye-contact with him first. When his fingers skated down the back and around the gentle and smooth slope of his neck towards the hanging gold chain, Yoongi’s eyes fluttered shut as he let go of the ladle and reached up to grab at his hand.

 

“Don’t,” he mumbled in a whisper, gently knocking his hand away from his neck.

 

“Why, are you ticklish?” he taunted with a mischievous smirk. “Is D-boy really a T-boy?”

 

Don’t,” Yoongi repeated in a much sterner tone, even when the look that he gave him was lighthearted and not serious. The usual timid pink flush was starting to diffuse across his cheeks, so that his round face flooded with heat.

 

Jimin could hear something in his tone, something that he was almost convinced was actually a challenge. It was almost as if Yoongi wanted him to touch him again, to maybe elicit another ticklish shiver. He didn’t really understand quite how or why he could detect this in his tone, he just knew that he could.

 

Jimin could feel a funny sensation starting to grow in the pit of his stomach, a familiar and enticing heat that made him pull his lower lip in to nibble on it as he watched Yoongi covering the pot with the lid to let the soup carry on cooking. He could feel his palms almost itching as he tried to figure out if the signals that he was sensing coming from Yoongi were actually real, and not just some desperate confusion that was leading him to believing that that was the case.

 

Yoongi tried his very hardest to appear like he was focusing entirely on the cooking, but it was hard doing so when he had little else to do but turn off the stove ring that was cooking the dubu jorim. His tongue had slipped free at some point, the tip lightly curled up against his upper lip as he placed his hands down on the counter and stared at the lightly bubbling pot of yukgaejang with a rather empty gaze.

 

Jimin decided to leave Yoongi alone rather than touch him again, just to be safe. He turned to lean back against the counter and folded his arms over his chest, finding one of the posters on the wall across the main-area highly interesting to study, because that way it meant that he didn’t have to look at Yoongi’s flushed cheeks and the hint of his slick tongue peeking out from between his lips.

 

Jimin had no clue at all how long they stayed like that, silently staring across the room rather than talking or looking at each other, but after awhile, Yoongi lifted the pot lid to dump the beansprouts and onion into the cooking soup and lowered the heat. So, he slowly turned to look back at him and he saw that Yoongi was staring right back at him.

 

Why couldn’t he just open his mouth and say something to him right now? He never had difficulty talking to other people, so long as he knew them a little, and talking to Yoongi so far had been so very easy because he was such a good listener. Yet, Jimin was dumbstruck and no words seemed to want to come out to help him explain his actions from a moment ago.

 

Why couldn’t Yoongi open his mouth and say something to him either? He was so animated when it came to music and lyrics, contracts and praising his talents, yet it seemed like he too had been rendered mute by the slight moment of physical intimacy that they had just shared.

 

But why?

 

Why did that momentary touch feel…different to the other touches; the hand-holding and shoulder squeezes? It had been so very brief, unlike the way that Yoongi entwined their fingers together for quite some time when they were sitting on the subway; their hands on the seat and hidden out of view by the ends of his jackets. But unlike those moments, that were gentle and soft but still shared by friends, there was something much more…intimate about the way that he had stroked his neck.

 

“Yoongi…” Jimin managed to say after a moment of prolonged eye-contact. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just touched you like that and-”

 

“Don’t, it’s fine, don’t apologise,” Yoongi mumbled over him, rapidly rubbing at the back of his neck. “What’re you even apologising for, huh? For tickling me?”

 

The other man guffawed at this as he moved away from the counter to go to one of the cupboards, leaving him to stare at his back as he gnawed on his lower lip.

 

Jimin felt like his head was spinning right now, even when he had done nothing more than touch the other man’s back and neck for a mere moment. Just seeing the way that Yoongi had shivered from his touch had made a rush of excitement course through him, one that he hadn’t felt in quite some time, but he recognised intimately.

 

Jimin couldn’t seem to shake the thought that Yoongi had felt that rush of excitement too. His expression had given so very little away, just like always, but his tone and his eyes…there had been something in them that had just heightened that rush and had caused the heat in his belly to edge close to a burn.

 

Yet, Jimin had backed away in fear; frightened of his own sudden urges to touch him, and scared that the other man had in fact felt nothing more than a ticklish sensation and actually hadn’t wanted him to touch him like that.

 

Yoongi had retrieved a flask and two plastic containers from his cupboard, ones with thick plastic clasps on to tightly seal food in, and he placed them down on the counter. He lifted the pot lid as he twisted the dial hard, fragrant steam coming from the mixture because the yukgaejang was finished cooking. He stirred at it hastily, the spicy aroma wafting over to Jimin and catching his attention.

 

So, whilst Yoongi carefully transferred the soupy dubu jorim into one of the containers, Jimin moved to take hold of the ladle and he scooped up some of the soup. It was a rich red and packed with slivers of beef, vegetables and kimchi. He couldn’t help but try and sample some of it, even when it was scorching hot. But just as he took a quick sip, the other man caught sight of his sneaky actions.

 

“Dinner, not breakfast,” Yoongi scolded as he gently shoved him away from the counter, forcing him to drop the ladle and abandon any hopes of sampling more of the soup.

 

Jimin had accidentally dribbled the hot soup down his chin in his haste to sample the tender beef, and it was now soaking into the neckline of his white tee-shirt and burning at his neck. He wiped at it roughly to try and wipe it free, and he caught sight of Yoongi studying him as he did so. As he chewed the mouthful of beef, the other man placed the ladle down in the pot so that he could reach over the slight space between them.

 

Yoongi gently wiped at his chin with the curve of his thumb, cleaning the dribble of soup away for him with a soft smile; just like he had done so at the takoyaki joint the night that he had been recording with Andre.

 

“Is it good, huh?” he asked, the smile on his face letting him know that there was no lingering awkwardness between them.

 

“Delicious,” Jimin replied around the mouthful, watching him wiping the soup on his sweatpants brusquely. “It’s really delicious, Yoongi.”

 

“Good. Go on, go get ready, yeah? I’ll pack this shit up,” Yoongi suggested, moving over to the hissing rice cooker to lift the top and letting the steam escape in billows.

 

So, Jimin went back into the bedroom to collect his toiletries and some clean clothing, and then he went into the bathroom to get washed up. He took a brief shower, vigorously brushed his teeth and swilled his mouth out with mouthwash, and then he started getting dressed for the day.

 

Jimin slipped into his underwear, fitted black trousers, and his matching thin pullover, the one with the loose polo neck and sleeves that he liked to fold up to his elbows. He changed his star charm earrings to his cross earrings, and he hastily brushed his damp hair back so that he could start moisturising and applying a light layer of makeup. As soon as his skin was dewy and any slight blemishes were hidden from sight, he grabbed his comb off the rim of the sink and he started styling his hair with some gel.

 

“Hmm, I can do this,” Jimin said to his reflection, his breath fogging up the mirror as he finished slicking his hair in place. “I can totally do this. First single, first real shot at fame, first chance to make it on the music charts; I can do this.”

 

Jimin let his breath out in a heavy sigh, and then he cracked his most professional-looking smile, just to check that it would look genuine to any company executives that might show up during his recording session.

 

Upon stepping back into the bedroom, he saw that Yoongi had gotten dressed too. He had already showered earlier in the evening, meaning that he had gotten ready whilst he had been getting washed up. He was wearing a plain black tee-shirt under a thin black hoodie with his usual distressed jeans, along with a Stüssy beanie hat, and he was in the act of packing his leather bag with the food containers and his tablet.

 

Whilst Jimin packed his toiletries back into his borrowed bag, Yoongi went into bathroom to also finish getting ready, and after several minutes he returned fresh-breathed, fresh-faced, and smelling of his masculine cologne. His own face was dewy and his lips were glossy, and Jimin found his gaze focusing on them as the other man tugged his hood up to fix it in place.

 

“Uh…smokes, smokes, where’re my smokes?”

 

“Try your jacket,” Jimin suggested, watching him patting at his clean jeans pockets over and over. “The cool one, the 10.Deep dragon one.”

 

Yoongi moved to go and retrieve his jacket from the floor of the main-area, returning a moment later with it in hand. He was in the act of shoving the packet and lighter into his jeans pocket, and he had left a single cigarette behind his ear for the brisk walk to the subway.

 

“You think this’ a cool jacket?” Yoongi asked as he pulled it on over his hoodie.

 

“Yeah, it’s a sweet jacket,” he agreed with a nod. “But all of your jackets are sweet, you know? They’re more badass punk, than newbie poser.”

 

“Oh yeah? You wanna borrow one, huh? So, you look like a badass punk too?” he offered, cocking his head in the direction of his wardrobe.

 

“Really?” Jimin exclaimed in surprise, pausing in the act of zipping up his survival pack bag and glancing up at him sharply. “Are you sure, Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi hummed at this, fixing his hoodie sleeves in place under the cuffs of his jacket and tugging at his tee-shirt lengths so that they skirted the thighs of his ruined jeans.

 

Jimin moved to go over to his wardrobe, running his gaze over the assortment of clothes to try and find something that caught his eye. He recognised the bold white stripes of his Number (N)ine blouson, the one with the skulls on the breast, but he decided to not pull it free because he knew that it was a gift from his mother. So he ran his fingers over the waxed cotton, denim and polyester, until something caught his eye.

 

Jimin pulled a bomber jacket free from the wardrobe, a khaki one that had grabbed his attention because it was the same shade as his parka. He saw that it was the same label as the dragon jacket - 10.Deep - and he ran his fingers over the polyester as he turned it over to look at the back. Just like the other jacket, there was a dragon on it, though this one was white and set upon a vivid orange sun with bold black katakana characters around it. He made an appreciative noise at the sight of the logo, before turning back to Yoongi.

 

“Yeah?” the other man asked, his lips curling up at the corners softly.

 

“Yeah, this one,” Jimin said with a soft smile, slipping the bomber jacket on and feeling the cuffs skirting around his fingers in a way that meant he could play with them. “Do I look like a badass punk now, hmm?”

 

“Not just yet…”

 

Yoongi moved to grab his round and coloured sunglasses off the side table and he turned to face him. Then he slipped the sunglasses up his nose for him, and the act was enough to make Jimin start laughing. He reached up to cover his grin with his fingers as Yoongi shoved his hands into his jacket pockets like always, his gaze quickly running down his body before lifting back up to meet his eyes.

 

“There, now you look like a total badass punk,” he finished with his own grin.

 

“Thank you, I guess?”

 

Yoongi went back over to the bed so that he could quickly check his survival pack, and then he zipped it up and hefted it up onto his shoulder. He leaned to the side slightly from the weight, because he had quite a lot of stuff shoved inside of the bag.

 

“You got everything?” Yoongi asked suddenly, because he was clearly ready to leave.

 

“…Oh! The lyrics!” Jimin exclaimed, dropping his borrowed bag on the mattress and then racing over to the computer desk to locate the rather tattered sheet of song lyrics that he had been given several days ago.

 

“Goddamn, Jimin…”

 

“Just in case,” he said with a quick smile, shoving the sheet inside of the bag and zipping it up firmly. “I mean, Byun’s probably got more copies in the studio, but it’s better safe than sorry; right?”

 

“Right,” Yoongi agreed with a soft nod, already holding his hand out to him in silent - and knowing - offering.

 

Just like always, they travelled to Gangnam-gu by way of the same two trains, sharing earphones to listen to Yoongi’s usual hip hop playlist whilst he kept his notebook out on his lap and took advantage of the journey time to jot down some more lyrics.

 

Jimin got to study the pages to see that Yoongi had a habit of scribbling things down, scrawling it all out and then rewriting it more eloquently when he figured out how to get the words right. Sometimes, it was just a slight change to the arrangement of the line. Other times, he changed a word to an English one instead for the sake of looking cool, or for better rhythm when rapping. Jimin had no clue what beat any of the lyrics would be rapped, or sang, to. For all that he knew, the lyrics might just have been from a project for one of his contracts, rather than his own raps.

 

Yoongi didn’t seem to mind at all that he was glancing at his notebook over the duration of the ride, but the fact that they were discreetly holding hands again might just have made him that little bit more willing to share his musings with him. Sometimes, when Yoongi found himself stuck on a line, his thumb would start gently running over his knuckles until he plucked it free from the ether, and when he did so, he would squeeze his hand ever so slightly as he jotted it down on the page.

 

Upon reaching the M&M building, Yoongi checked the recording booth that he was scheduled to use from the receptionist and collected their passes for the day. The woman didn’t even ask him what he was present for, for she either felt no need to ask, or she knew him well enough by now to assume that it was related to his projects. So, they slipped the passes around their necks, and rode down the lift to the basement because they were going to be using recording booth two for the day.

 

“Ha, look at that!” Yoongi declared, lifting their entwined hands to point at the sheet of paper that was taped to the booth door.

 

Park Jimin, it boldly declared, letting all that passed the booth by know that he was inside of it; recording his very first single as a signed solo artist.

 

“Huh, that’s kinda…weird,” Jimin said, dumping his leather bag onto the floor so that he could slip his phone free from his jeans pocket. “Yoongi, let’s get a photo of it, for Twitter, yeah?”

 

Fuck yeah,” Yoongi slurred as he accepted the phone from him and unlocked it with his thumb, not even needing his passcode at this point.

 

Jimin moved to stand in front of the door, but rather than turn back and strike a pose, he settled on studying the sheet of paper instead, as if he was deep in contemplation.

 

Yoongi snapped a photograph of his back and then held his phone out to him, so that he could accept it and post the shot on Twitter with a nice caption. He saw that it was good photograph, the sheet of paper on clear display just like the logo on the back of his borrowed jacket, and so he smiled to himself as he opened the app.

 

Jimin was in the act of uploading the photograph when the sound of a booth door opening echoed through the basement, and he spared a quick glance up to see an older man with spectacles exiting one of the other booths. He was wearing a light blue work shirt and trousers, and he had an expensive-looking watch and Samsung phone in hand. He was a little chubby but in a way that made him seem friendly, with a clean-shaven face and neat hair. He looked just like every other business guy in the capital and so Jimin paid him no heed at all, but he did notice that Yoongi twisted to stare at him.

 

“Oh, there he is,” the man declared suddenly, catching Jimin by complete surprise and making him look up from his phone. “I heard that you were lurking around the building recently, during a session with Andre, but I didn’t catch sight of you at all. What are you doing here hmm, D-boy?”

 

“Huh? Oh, hey, Bang. I’m here with Jimin,” Yoongi replied, lazily gesturing at him. “He’s working on his first single today, so, I just thought I’d stick around for a few days, offer a little support and assistance, should it be needed. Is that OK with you?”

 

“No need to ask, you know that you’re more than welcome here by now, D-boy,” Bang replied with a slight smile, all business but still friendly enough. “How are the lyrics for the project coming along? Have you penned anything worth sharing with us yet?”

 

“Actually, I’ve got some lyrics on me right now, if you wanna check ‘em out?”

 

“You’ve got them on you? Do you want to type them up for me, send me the file in an email? I can review the lyrics with the others and get back to you in a day or two?”

 

“Sure, Bang. Uh, hey? You got any clue when Byun’s gonna show up?”

 

“Byun? Probably not until about 8am, you two got here pretty early,” Bang remarked, quickly looking between them both. “It gives you plenty of time to warm-up though, Park, so that’s a small bonus.”

 

According to the time on the top of his phone screen, it was only 6:23am, and that was enough to make Jimin want to groan under his breath. They really had gotten here far too early, for they could have jumped the train at 7:00am and still had plenty of time to prepare. But they had rather stupidly jumped the 5:35am train instead, and now they were going to be stuck for over an hour waiting for his sound engineer to arrive.

 

“Ah, before I forget! We’re glad to have you as a part of the team, Park,” Bang said as he held his hand out to him.

 

Jimin shoved his phone into Yoongi’s hand to allow him to shake hands with the other man. He made sure to cup his elbow respectfully, because he still had no idea what position he held in the company. He hadn’t been present during his deal meeting, but there had been just three such people present then: an executive, an assistant and Sooah, who was a talent scout for the company and had been the one to find him through Twitter .

 

“Seeing you here this morning, already prepared to work on your first single like this, it’s very commendable. I admire that kind of drive and work ethic,” Bang said as they clasped hands.

 

“Um, thank you, sir,” Jimin replied, dropping his head in deference as they shook thrice briskly. “I can’t wait to start recording the single, I’ve been practising with the lyrics and guide track for the past few days, and keeping D-boy awake all night long.”

 

“Oh? Do you two live together?” Bang asked as he let go of his hand, looking between them both curiously.

 

“Hmm? Oh, oh no, we don’t live together. D-boy has semi-professional equipment in his apartment, so, he’s been letting me stay for a little while to use it for my lessons,” Jimin quickly explained, which was more-or-less the truth.

 

“Well, our practice rooms are always open during the day, Park,” the older man said with that same professional smile. “Though they can be rather busy sometimes. D-boy’s apartment sounds like the next best thing.”

 

Jimin watched Bang walking down the hallway to get to the lift. As soon as he had stepped inside of the carriage and the doors had shut, he looked at Yoongi and raised his eyebrows at him; silently requesting that he tell him who the other man was because he was highly confused by what had just happened.

 

“Mmm, I think he likes you,” Yoongi remarked, turning back to look at the closed lift doors. “Smart move dropping the whole ‘sir’ thing in there, Jimin, ‘cos you really wanna stay on the CEO’s good side.”

 

“He’s the CEO?” Jimin asked in total shock. “But…but he let you talk to him so informally, Yoongi! I thought that he was, like, a sound engineer or something!”

 

“Nah, Bang’s chill, if you put in enough effort to get on his good side,” he replied with a soft shrug. “Which means making M&M profit, of course.”

 

Yoongi held his phone out to him again, and he accepted it from him and dumbly studied his screen for a few seconds as the realisation sank in. The other man hunkered down to pick up his leather bag for him, using his elbow and full body weight to shove the door open so that they could enter the recording booth for the day. Jimin followed him inside as he finished typing up his caption and posted the photograph on Twitter.

 

When he glanced up, he saw an almost identical booth to the last one that they had been inside of, though this room had just a single sofa instead of two, and it was currently empty of everything save for the recording equipment. There were no stacks of papers or laptops left plugged in on tables, no bottles of water and pens for them to use. The studio was almost completely bare, but it was clean and smelled faintly of polish from being cleaned overnight, and that was good enough for him.

 

“I know we’ve heard it a million fucking times already but, let’s play the instrumental track in the background; yeah?” Yoongi suggested, as he sat down on the sofa and dumped their bags on the floor with a soft grunt. “If not, I’m gonna fall asleep or something.”

 

“Hmm, how do I do that again?” Jimin mumbled as he ran his gaze along the console, eyeing the countless buttons and sliders and dials.

 

Yoongi got off the sofa to move over to the console, glancing at the various monitors and then grabbing hold of the mouse so that he could start clicking on things. After a dozen or so clicks, the smooth track started playing from the console speakers at a reasonable volume, and he moved to drop back down on the sofa and let out even more tired grunts.

 

Jimin sat down in one of the three leather chairs placed in front of the console, sinking into the plush leather. He shrugged Yoongi’s jacket off and slipped it over the back to get more comfortable, the temperature inside of the room pretty warm because of the dozens of computer decks running underneath the stretch of console. He glanced inside of the empty and dark recording booth for a moment, realising that he would be stepping inside of it soon enough to record his very first solo song, and it was enough to make a shiver of trepidation run down his spine as he folded his arms on the console.

 

“Hey, Yoongi?”

 

“Mmm?”

 

“Does this mean that I owe you those coffees now?” Jimin joked, eyeing the other man’s faint reflection in the booth glass over the tops of his sunglasses to see him grinning at the witty remark. “If it charts in the top twenty, it means a small order. If it’s the top ten, I’ll upgrade it to a medium, and if it’s the top five, I’ll go all out - large and blacker than your hair.”

 

“Then I’ll hold back on the favour until you hit the top five,” Yoongi replied in a confident tone. “I want that large and black coffee, Jimin.”

 

In the time that they were going to have to wait for Byun to arrive, Jimin knew that he should warm-up in preparation. But he also knew that he shouldn’t do so too early, because it would be a waste of time and energy. That meant that he needed to find something to do to pass the time, until he could focus on warming himself up professionally.

 

Jimin decided to take a couple of brief videos of the recording booth, so that he could post them online just like what Yoongi and his crew did for their followers. He was cautious enough to not record for too long, for he didn’t want to reveal too much of the instrumental track that was still playing from the speakers and risk pissing his company off. So that meant that he had to stick to posting videos that were just several seconds long in length.

 

Jimin recorded the control panel, all lit up and ready to go. He slowly span around in his chair to show a hint of the studio, wanting to catch the recording booth in the frame as a priority. He recorded himself giving a wink and a quick smile, just for the sake of it, and then he found his attention honing in on the other man.

 

Yoongi was rooting around in his bag for his tablet, which he slipped free and then pulled out of its protective case so that he could power it up; his notebook already open on the free sofa cushion beside him.

 

So, Jimin slowly lifted up his phone to record him whilst he got comfortable, folding one leg over the other so that he could balance his tablet on his thigh.

 

After a moment, Yoongi caught sight of him recording him, and he lifted his gaze to stare at him rather blankly. Then he cracked him a quick smile and dropped his head again, reaching up to mess with his hood.

 

“Don’t post that shit on Twitter,” Yoongi muttered as he finally stopped recording him. “You’ll lose followers when they see my stupid face, Jimin.”

 

“Nice try, I’m still posting it,” Jimin argued with his own smile. “Tag the rappers that I meet for free promo, remember? You did say that, didn’t you, Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi could only sigh at this, caught in his trap and unable to wriggle his way out with his smart mouth for once.

 

Jimin stared at the video on his phone screen as he tried to think of something to caption it with, and then he found a rather genius idea coming to mind. So, he quickly typed up the caption and posted it, seeing Yoongi shifting to check his own phone out of the corner of his eye because he had been notified about the mention. He turned his head to look at him at the exact moment that he checked out the tweet, for it made Yoongi’s lips split in a rather sweet smile that flashed his teeth.

 

“‘@D-boy93 is that a…a smile?’. Mmm, cute,” Yoongi said in a soft whisper, which was almost lost under the music coming from the console speakers.

 

Whilst Jimin scrolled through his feed just for the sake of it, lounged back in the leather chair comfortably, Yoongi resumed rummaging through his bag to collect more things. He pulled out the unmistakable sight of a plastic spectacle case, and he popped it open so that he could shove a pair of thick and rounded frames up the gentle slope of his nose.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but shift in his seat to look at him at this, watching him fiddling with the frames and squinting a few times before his eyes adjusted to the sudden clarity.

 

“What?” Yoongi muttered as he glanced up at him, no doubt feeling his gaze on him because he was so attuned to the sensation of being stared at it in hip hop clubs. His thick eyebrows lifted up at this, almost grazing against his beanie hat. “You alright?”

 

“I didn’t know that you needed glasses, Yoongi,” he said as he watched him dumping the case on the table. “I mean, I saw the case in your bedroom, but I just didn’t think about it because you’ve never worn them before. It’s kinda funny.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah. I actually need glasses too,” Jimin remarked in a quiet voice. “I go without contacts most days though. I don’t really need to read too much, and when I do it’s just a little bit blurry. I can handle that, so, I just forget to put them in.”

 

“How can you forget to put contacts in, Jimin? The first thing you do when you wake up’s open your fucking eyes,” Yoongi joked with a rumbling guffaw, reaching up to shove the glasses up his nose again. “But, I get you. I only wear these when I really need ‘em, otherwise I avoid ‘em at all costs. They never wanna stay on my goddamn face, they just slide right down my nose to piss me off; and the clubs? Pft, I ain’t gonna be caught dead in these things.”

 

“Hmm, you look like a real rapper with those glasses on,Yoongi,” Jimin joked, giving him a mischievous smile as he folded his arms on the back of the chair to rest his chin on his forearms. “Why not wear them? It can be your thing, like a part of your rapper persona?”

 

“Yeah, well, I need ‘em so I can read their arses,” Yoongi retorted wittily, which made Jimin burst out laughing and clap a hand over his mouth. The other man’s lips curled up into a smile at this as he grabbed the tablet and powered it up, pulling his notebook closer to him. “What’s on your mind, huh?

 

“Hmm?” Jimin hummed in surprise, lowering his hand from his mouth and dropping it onto the back of the chair. “What do you mean?”

 

“You always do this when you’re mulling over something to say but you dunno how to say it, Jimin,” Yoongi explained, sniffing hard and then pushing his glasses up to sit on the top of his head so that he could roughly rub at his eyes with a soft sigh. “You strike up small talk, usually something light. You make a joke or compliment me and laugh it off, and then you just kinda…stare at me until I prod it outta you.”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment before realising that Yoongi was completely spot-on, for he did all of that and then some. The other man fixed his glasses back in place and glanced up at him, running his tongue around his mouth and silently bading him to speak.

 

“I was just thinking about how you look like a professional producer right now, sitting there with your glasses on and your tablet in your lap. I was also thinking about how you and Hyuk work for companies like this,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “Except, unlike Hyuk, you don’t release your own material alongside your contracts. Why do you sell your content to companies like this, Yoongi? Like your lyrics?”

 

“Lyrics bring in a nice amount of money, Jimin, I’d be crazy to not sell mine,” Yoongi explained in a matter of fact tone.

 

“I know, I just find it interesting that you’d sell your lyrics like that. Beats are different, I can understand selling music, because you can compose beautiful beats that you would never ever rap to. You might as well sell a ballad or a pop song, if you compose a great one, because at least then you’ll make some money from it. But lyrics? Yoongi, aren’t your lyrics personal to you?”

 

“They are, my rap lyrics are,” he replied with a shrug. “The shit I sell ain’t nothing deep or personal, it’s just commercial shit that sells good. That’s all I sell, just like the ones that Hyuk sells too. Commercial shit comes easy, and it sells easy too.”

 

“You don’t relate to the lyrics that you sell? Then, don’t you feel like you’re selling out by doing that, Yoongi?” Jimin asked rather bluntly.

 

At this, the booth fell silent save for the music coming from the console speakers, and Jimin suddenly realised the true gravity of his words. He took a sharp intake of breath as he stared at Yoongi, the other man’s face as difficult to read as usual, and he reached up to play with his earring anxiously. For a moment, he found his lips turning slack and unable to formulate words, and he tried to speak only for his tongue to not want to work because it had grown incredibly heavy in his mouth.

 

“I mean, I don’t think that you’re doing that,” Jimin blurted out quickly, hoping to cover his tracks before he accidentally upset or angered Yoongi with his brusqueness. “I think that music is music and that someone has to create it. It doesn’t matter if you make your own or create it for others, because someone’s gotta do it and-”

 

“Jimin-”

 

“and I respect all artists that work in the industry, regardless of how much work they do. Singers put in just as much effort as lyricists do, after all, and I think that people shit on them way too much if they don’t make their own songs and-”

 

“Jimin, I understand, you don’t need to explain,” Yoongi spoke over him, lifting his hand to try and get him to slow down and take a breather. “You weren’t calling me a sellout, you were asking from the perspective of other rappers - I get that.”

 

Jimin let his breath out in a heavy sigh, relieved that his questions hadn’t been misunderstood by the other man. It had been so stupid of him to blurt such a thing out like that, but Yoongi had once more demonstrated his patient and understanding nature rather than get pissed at him like other rappers might just have done so.

 

After all, suggesting that he might be seen as a sellout in a scene that was hard to break out of without being accused of being commercial trash, and greedy for cash and attention instead of skills and credentials, was a pretty heavy suggestion to make.

 

“It’s just…you work so hard, Yoongi,” Jimin explained as he carried on playing with his earring. “The tracks that I’ve listened to, the lyrics that I’ve been lucky enough to hear and see performed on club stages; it’s so much hard work. So, why haven’t you dropped a mixtape by now, just to show the scene what you can really do and get a deal? I know that you can do it, you’ve got such a great chance at making it as a rapper, Yoongi. I guess I just wanna know why you keep working on projects instead of taking a shot?”

 

“Rapping don’t pay the bills, Jimin,” Yoongi sighed as he grabbed his notebook and quickly flicked through the pages. “These kids in the clubs, they think it does ‘cos they see these guys - these loaded guys from both America and here, and they think that all it takes’ a good mixtape and a decent crew to make it. No, it takes more than that, and most of the guys you see here that’ve made it onto labels? They get paid advances by a company for their shit and they blow it on cars, watches, booze and drugs - whatever, they blow that advance and release their singles and albums like no biggie. But then the company unrolls this fucking shopping list of shit that they owe ‘em in return for the advance. That car? That Rolex? All of those chicks you tossed bills at in the clubs? You gotta pay that advance back to ‘em, and would you look at that? There goes your pay cheques for that release.”

 

Jimin stopped playing with his earring at this, staring at Yoongi unblinkingly as he listened to every single word that came out of his lips.

 

“They spend so much time paying their company back after that first advance that they end up burning out into nothing in a couple of years, ‘cos they make the same fucking mistake the next time a big advance gets offered to ‘em and they can go right back to having fun again. It’s this constant spiral of-of mindless hedonism and excitement that they get caught up in, and it’s reckless, dangerous and a waste of time.”

 

“Oh…”

 

“I love rapping more than I love myself, and I ain’t gonna go out like that, Jimin,” Yoongi said in a quiet voice, as he dumped his notebook back onto the sofa. “I’m getting made before I sign deals and fuck up, and that’s why I’m selling out to the big corporate machine just like every other kid that wants to be an idol. I’m making cash to cover everything and anything that a company can try and shove down my throat, and I’m mixing everything in advance to get it ready to drop. Sure, I could roll into Hellfire Trax right now and give ‘em a mixtape, but it ain’t ready yet, and they’d dissect it like a fucking corpse before it hit the market and charge me for it even when it’s a free demo.”

 

“Yoongi, I talked about you with Hyuk that day in the studio,” Jimin admitted in a quiet voice, finally getting the weight off his chest because it felt like the perfect time to do so. “He told me about your net worth because I poked and prodded at him, and it’s amazing, it’s truly amazing. But there’s just something that I don’t understand. Why do you have all of that money and you don’t spend it? How come you live in that tiny apartment room? Yoongi, you could buy an actual house with that net worth, a nice house for yourself instead of this tiny apartment room, one with a big office room to use as studio. You would still have enough money left to cover yourself from hidden charges in a company contract too, and then the money would start rolling in when you start selling official tracks. So, why not upgrade and live better, because you deserve it?”

 

“I know,” Yoongi muttered in a soft voice, quickly glancing between his tablet and his face as he fiddled with his hoodie sleeves.

 

“What is it? What is it that’s stopping you, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, cocking his head to study him intently. “Are you scared of failing, after everything, after all of your hard work? Is that it? Are you scared of blowing your money and never making it back? It’s a gamble, yeah, it’s a massive gamble, but isn’t the rap game nothing but one big gamble, Yoongi?”

 

“I know, I just- I dunno, it feels like dirty money to me, sometimes,” Yoongi said as he shifted on the sofa, placing the tablet down on the table so that he could cock his elbows on his thighs and drop his head. “I know that’s stupid, ‘cos I made that cash with my hard work and skills, but I just…I just let it add up and refuse to touch it. I dunno what it is - greed? Am I just tryna make my bank account look hot, or am I just being stupid? Am I only in it for the cash, and that’s why I’m delaying dropping a mixtape? This kinda shit keeps me awake all night long, Jimin, and I still don’t think that I got all of the answers to your questions right now.”

 

“No, that’s bullshit,” Jimin boldly stated, twisting the chair around so that he could look at him fully. “You aren’t greedy or in this for the money, and we both know that, Yoongi. That’s haters speaking, that’s doubt and dirty looks from posers in the clubs playing at the back of your mind and nothing more than that. If you were in this for the money, you wouldn’t stunt at clubs and stay up all night penning tracks until you’re sick and tired of staring at your computer screen. If you were in it for the money, you would use those skills of yours to produce commercial rap tracks and ride that wave of fame and success instead.”

 

Yoongi didn’t look up at him at this, but Jimin could see that he was thinking his words over intently. His brow was slightly furrowed and his lips were pouted out as he stared down at the studio flooring.

 

“You’re not a sellout, you’re a realist,” Jimin finished in a quiet voice. “One day soon, we’re gonna start working on that track together, you’re gonna drop your mixtape and blow everyone away, and you’re gonna start acknowledging your talents the same way that you always praise mine, Yoongi. It’s not dirty money, treat yourself sometime, because you really do deserve it. OK?”

 

“…OK,” Yoongi said, his own voice a soft whisper as he wet his lips with his tongue.

 

“I really think that you can make it big, Yoongi, just like you think that I can. And I…um, I want you to make it big right by my side when I do too; yeah? We’re gonna top the music charts with that killer track, remember?”

 

“Mmm, we’re gonna take the industry by storm, right?” Yoongi remarked with a fond smile. “D-boy and Park Jimin coming out, guns ablazing and no fucks given, yeah?”

 

“Yeah, exactly! Let’s fuck everything up together!” Jimin agreed with a grin, before he started laughing under his breath.

 

Within seconds, his soft laughter had turned into full-blown giggles, and he had to clap his hand over his mouth to try and suppress the sound.

 

Yoongi was clearly trying to fight the urge to laugh too, but he ended up giving into it after a moment.

 

Seeing the way that his eyes disappeared into deep crinkles and his teeth flashed between his lips as he guffawed that dopey laugh of his, made Jimin feel that exact same giddy rush in his belly spreading up into his chest that made it hard to breathe for a few seconds.

 

Byun ended up arriving at 8:12am, and Jimin was already fully warmed-up by that point. Had they have been working with Hyuk, he and Yoongi would have been able to record some lines in his absence. But because they were working with an M&M sound engineer, they had decided to not risk angering the man by messing around with his contracted song. That meant that he was able to enter the booth as soon as Byun had settled down at the console and had made some quick revisions to the instrumental track that he was going to sing over.

 

Jimin thought that it sounded a lot better after the revision, for he had boosted the bass a little bit more and had tweaked some of the synths in the bridge. It was going to sound even better when he added his voice to the mix, of course, and he felt a little streak of cockiness coursing through him as he fixed his headphones in place and waited for the first countdown.

 

Over the morning recording session, Jimin couldn’t help but feel the weight of Yoongi’s gaze on him when he was singing in the booth. His gaze felt completely different to Byun’s, for the older man either listened to him intently with his eyes closed to aid his concentration, studied the row of monitors in front of him, or gave him just brief glances through the observation window as he sang.

 

But not Yoongi.

 

No, Yoongi’s gaze was heavy and almost hot in a way that made him find his own eyes drifting away from the sheet of lyrics to look through the observation window back at him. The other man always dropped his gaze back down to his tablet the second that he realised that he had been caught staring at him, but he would be glancing up again not long after only to carry on repeating this funny little game with him.

 

Jimin thought that it was a good thing that Yoongi had managed to type up most of his lyrics for Bang whilst he had been warming up earlier, because he most certainly didn’t seem to move much to resume working over the morning hours.

 

But Jimin didn’t find his attention distracting in the slightest, because he was more than used to it by now. After all, he had noticed Yoongi hovering in the bedroom doorway enough times in the early morning hours of the last week; his eyes almost swollen shut and his clothing creased to hell and back as he had leaned against the frame and had listened to him humming warm-up exercises or rehearsing his lines in preparation for this recording session.

 

That meant that Jimin was able to sing freely into the hanging microphone, without a hint of reservation or embarrassment. He knew that his voice was playing through the recording studio because Byun had left his headphones unplugged the entire time, and he hoped that Yoongi was enjoying the show as much as he enjoyed his club stages.

 

Though Jimin took small breaks over the session to rehydrate his throat and give Byun time to listen over the lines until he was satisfied that they could move onto the next section, it was the mid-afternoon hours by the time that they took their first serious break in the recording session. It was unbelievable how tired he felt already, not only as a result of his lack of sleep, but because singing a whole song solo had drained a lot of his energy.

 

“OK, I need to sort out some stuff out for another contract,” Byun said as he pushed his chair out, tugging his headphones free to dump them on the console. “I think that we should take a break for now whilst I do so, but I’ll be back as soon as possible. It shouldn’t take me too long at all, I’ll be brief.”

 

“OK, sure thing,” Jimin said as he shut the booth door behind him, eyeing the spare sofa cushion beside Yoongi almost hungrily because he couldn’t wait to drop onto it. “Take all of the time that you need, Byun, don’t rush anything for my sake.”

 

“Rest your voice, drink plenty of water and get something to eat,” Byun suggested as he shoved his chair out. “You’ve worked very hard today, Park. I could be mixing this track by tomorrow afternoon, if we keep going at this rate.”

 

“Thank you, you’ve been amazing at guiding me through the track,” Jimin said with a pleased smile, reaching up to brush several stray locks free from his brow just like usual. “Make sure to get some food too, because you’ve worked so hard, Byun.”

 

As soon as Byun had exited the recording studio, Jimin reached up to rub at his throat and he let out a series of soft whines that he hoped that Yoongi didn’t hear from across the studio. The other man was in the act of placing his tablet and notebook down on the table along with his glasses, and so he moved to get to the sofa to join him at last.

 

Jimin snatched up his glasses as he sat down on the spare cushion, pushing them up the bridge of his nose and grinning at him. Yoongi briefly glanced at him as he rubbed at his tired eyes, not really paying him much attention. But then he slowly lowered his balled-up fists to stare at him for a moment.

 

“Mmm, they suit you,” he said with a soft smile, moving to grab his phone from the arm of the sofa and unlocking it with his thumb.

 

“Thank you, Yoongi, I think that-”

 

Jimin realised that he was taking a photograph of him only when he held the device up, leaving him zero time at all to even hope to strike a pose. He was caught completely in the moment, his gaze on him and his position a comfortable slouch instead of something stylish.

 

“Ah, please don’t post that!” Jimin cried out, reaching up to pull his glasses free. “I probably look like shit right now.”

 

“Grab that free promo, Jimin,” Yoongi retorted as he hastily typed on his phone screen with his thumbs. “Pft, trust me, you don’t look like shit at all; you never look like shit.”

 

Just like that night a couple of weeks ago, Yoongi had just complimented him without even making an attempt at being discreet. It was enough to make Jimin smile warmly as the other man locked his phone and dropped it onto the cushion between their thighs.

 

“I’m just gonna take a piss and get some drinks from the café, yeah?” Yoongi said, as he got off the sofa and stretched his stiff limbs with a series of grunts.

 

“And smoke too,” Jimin joked as he placed the pair of glasses down on the table and looked up at him.

 

Yoongi guffawed at this as he dropped a hand to give his hair another one of those funny ruffles. Unlike earlier, however, he had since carefully styled his hair with gel, and the rough ruffle disturbed it in a way that made him make a disgruntled noise and reach up to try and fix it back in place.

 

“What’d you want, huh? Tea? Coffee? A smoothie?”

 

“A smoothie,” Jimin replied as he raked his hair back with his fingers. “Surprise me, just don’t make it mango.”

 

“Uhuh, be right back.”

 

In Yoongi’s temporary absence, Jimin slipped his phone free from his trousers just for the sake of it, wanting to check Twitter to not only see how his videos and photograph had been received by his growing fanbase, but to see what was on his feed.

 

Jimin found that there was a spattering of likes, retweets and replies on his videos of the studio and photograph, in a mixture of Korean, Japanese, English and something that he was pretty sure was Spanish. The video of his face had received plenty more of course, with dozens of hearts and blushing emojis filling the comments along with declarations of love and how cute that he was; which brought a happy grin to his face as he quickly read them.

 

Andre had liked the candid video of Yoongi, and he had retweeted the photograph of the studio door to add his own message of support, which might just have explained the increase in his followers. The video of Yoongi had received just as much attention as his self-taken video, and he noticed a few English tweets that caught his eye and made him pause to read them carefully.

 

Jimin prided himself in having good English skills as a result of his private tutoring and his father, and though he didn’t practise it often in reality save for singing lines, he still understood most of what his non-Korean followers tweeted at him (for there was a considerable amount). What he didn’t understand was mostly what he assumed to be slang words, and there was one or two declarations of “I ship this!” in the replies on his Yoongi video. He didn’t know what this meant exactly, but the girls had left many hearts at the end, and so he assumed it to be something nice and - or - supportive on this simple basis.

 

After checking his own tweets, he went onto his feed, which was when he saw that the first thing on it was the photograph of him that Yoongi had just taken. He really had posted it onto Twitter, and he had mentioned him and had captioned it too:

 

@jjimin95 this is cos of that video not sorry man

 

Jimin laughed at this as he studied the photograph, seeing that it actually wasn’t unflattering like he had been imagining it would have been.

 

No, he actually did suit Yoongi’s thick and rounded spectacles in a funny way, and though he was slouched back against the sofa cushions, he looked like he was chilling and having a good time, rather than because he was exhausted and in dire need of food and sleep. He had been caught in the midst of smiling at the other man’s compliment, and it was actually a very nice photograph, and so he liked it and then took a screenshot of the tweet, just so he could change his display picture to it to see how Yoongi would react when he noticed.

 

As soon as he had set it as his picture, he went back onto his feed, and he had just scrolled down past Yoongi’s tweet when he caught sight of a very familiar profile popping up on his screen. So he paused for a moment to quickly read a reply to a tweet that Killuh had posted less than five minutes ago.

 

@bigboitaekwon aint that in Jongno-gu??? man that places full of homos i aint going to no homo club!

 

Jimin stared at his phone in dumb surprise, seeing the words right in front of him but struggling to process what he was actually seeing right now. He dragged down on his screen a minute later to refresh his feed, seeing another tweet appearing on his screen that Killuh had just replied to.

 

@bigboitaekwon haha yeah a certain boy hangs there but it aint you ukno im saying?

 

Jimin lowered his phone slowly at this, his gaze flickering over to eye the empty seat that Yoongi had been occupying just a moment ago. He was so very glad that he had left the booth, because the other man would have seen his sudden drop in expression and would have asked him if he was alright, and there was no way in hell that he was going to show him the replies that Killuh had just tweeted.

 

Sure, Killuh could have been talking about anyone at all, but the fact that he had dropped ‘boy’ in English in such a fashion meant that he had wanted to draw obvious attention to it. There might just be a dozen rappers with ‘boy’ in their artistic pseudonyms, just like Yoongi. But who was notorious enough to end up on a rapper like Killuh’s radar that he had never heard of before? It had to be someone worth paying attention to…and hadn’t Yoongi loudly declared his hatred of Killuh on many occasions to not only him, but Hyuk as well?

 

“…Shit,” Jimin breathed out heavily, reaching up to rub his fingers over his lips as he looked back down at his phone screen again.

 

The tweet was right there in front of him, the English words almost mocking him as he tried to process it all. It wasn’t exactly a revelation, a shocking twist that he had never imagined, because Jimin had very much been pondering about Yoongi’s sexuality ever since he and Hyuk had spoken to each other that morning about being…different.

 

Jimin was pretty certain that Yoongi had been trying his very hardest to figure out his sexuality too; in the moments between the hand-holding and long bouts of eye-contact over morning coffee, in the times that he wiped at his mouth for him when he made a mess and lingered in his bedroom doorway to listen to him singing.

 

But to see Killuh tweeting a possible diss aimed right at Yoongi, in such a brazen and heartless way, it shocked him to his very core. This wasn’t calling him a ‘pussy’ or a ‘sellout’, or saying that he couldn’t rap for shit - this was calling him a ‘homo’.

 

It reminded him of how Killuh had called Bullseye that word during their very first recording session, and he wondered if the rapper had gotten such vibes off him during their brief meetings. The thought alone was enough to make a soft moan escape his lips until he pressed them together tightly to mute the sound.

 

Jimin closed the app so that he could open Naver instead. He could feel his hands shaking just typing the words into the search bar, because he felt like he was doing something…wrong. He knew that it was stupid, that he shouldn’t think of it in such a way, but a funny taste still settled on his tongue as he hit the screen with his thumbs and typed in a rather simple search.

 

Jongno-gu gay bar.

 

Jongno-gu, Jimin quickly discovered had a rather growing body of gay establishments all over the district. Gay bars and clubs for men and women, lesbian and women-only restaurants and clubs with DJs that advertised themselves as ‘safe places’, cocktail lounges and even cafés and bookstores. There were plenty of places to get drunk and hook-up of an evening, but there were just as many places to also go on dates, bond with friends, and relax during the daytime hours too.

 

It was enough to leave him reeling as he scrolled through countless articles on a website that advertised itself as: ‘Flame! Seoul’s only LGB magazine!’ and eyed photographs of colourful club exteriors and cosy bar and restaurant interiors that had been posted in reviews of the establishments.

 

Jimin must have zoned out in shock, for the next thing that he was aware of was the recording booth door shutting with a loud thump as Yoongi stepped inside of it and crossed the room to reach him.

 

“You cooling down?” he asked, juggling a stack of bowls and two large plastic drinks containers with thick red straws sticking out of the lids.

 

“Huh?” Jimin hummed rather dumbly, staring up at the other man as he placed the objects onto the table and then sat down on the sofa beside him.

 

“I asked if you were cooling your voice down properly and- Jimin, are you OK?” Yoongi asked in concern, turning to look at him and rapidly glancing between his eyes and lips. “You look all funny right now, and you’re kinda pale. Are you feeling nauseous or something, or maybe getting a headache? I got aspirin, if you need some?”

 

“Um, oh yeah, I’m fine, I just…” Jimin shifted on the sofa, folding one leg over the other and placing his hands on them to try and avoid the temptation to play with his earrings. Just because he knew that the other man knew it was a nervous habit of his. “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it. I was just lost in my thoughts, Yoongi.”

 

“Pft, story of my life, Jimin,” the other man said with a quick smile, his concern dissipating just like that as he grabbed his smoothie and took a deep sip of it. “I got you a berry smoothie, yeah. It’s packed with all kinds of berries and shit, so, it smells and looks pretty good.”

 

“Oh, thank you,” Jimin said as he picked up the smoothie and took a sip, soothing his dry mouth and giving him a moment to try and think of something to say.

 

It really was packed with berries, mostly blueberries from what he could discern, and it was thick and a milky purple in shade. His throat certainly appreciated it, because it was cool and smooth as he swallowed the first fruity mouthful.

 

“Hmm,” he hummed in approval, which made Yoongi smile around his straw.

 

Should he tell Yoongi about the fact that he was pretty certain that Killuh was tweeting shit about him right now, or was that a bad idea?

 

Should he tell him that he was pretty goddamn certain that Killuh was trying to publicly out him on Twitter, or that he was at least trying to start rumours in the aims of either baiting him or ruining him?

 

Or was this something that was already well-known by now in the scene, on account of the fact that Yoongi had told him that poser rappers and amateurs with not even a percentage of his talent liked to talk shit about him? Shit that might or might not be true, because it could just be their pathetic attempts at dissing him as they had no real criticisms to drop in regards to his credibility and skills.

 

It made sense, but Jimin just kept thinking about that stupid track on his computer and his old crew back down in Daegu that had dropped him and had talked shit about him until he had moved up to Seoul to start all over again.

 

But what if this was just one huge misunderstanding about Killuh’s tweets, and Jimin made a complete fool out of the both of them in some strange attempt at being valiant and protecting Yoongi from mindless trash talk? It really could be about anyone else in the scene, even when it seemed like that wasn’t the case, because of all of the odds that were stacked against him.

 

“Yoongi…what kinda places are there to go to in Jongno-gu?” Jimin asked as he played with the straw, hoping to sound casual and not at all like he was trying his very hardest to calm his racing heartbeat down. “You know, like, places to eat and relax?”

 

“Uh, there’s some cafés that I like to go to sometimes, to help me relax and work on lyrics,” Yoongi replied as he grabbed hold of his leather bag and dragged it onto the space on the sofa. “Not just cat cafés, though I do like ‘em the most. There’s a really good one that’s, like, a combined café and library.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah, I mean, the drinks are a little more pricey, but the experience’s so good you can’t help but go back there. So what if a pot of herbal tea’s maybe 2,500 more won than usual, when you get to read books for free? They’ve a donation jar too, to buy new books with, so, I always slip some change into that.”

 

“It sounds lovely, Yoongi. I’ve gotta go there one day and see what it’s like. What about restaurants or…or bars?”

 

“There’s a couple of good restaurants, but you should really go to those with other people and not on your own, or the atmosphere can be a little…lonely - blue, I guess?” he said with a soft shrug, his expression hard to read just like always.

 

Had Yoongi went to a restaurant like that on his own before? Had he sat at a table surrounded by people sharing meals and laughter whilst he had nursed a beer and prodded at his food because he had suddenly found that he had no appetite. It seemed like something that Jimin could imagine, and it made him feel a strange twinge in his chest just thinking about it.

 

“We should go one day, right? Just you and me, if my singles go well and I can drop that album?” Jimin suggested with a slight smile, reaching over to give the other man’s knee a squeeze. “It can be my way for paying you back for the takoyaki and convenience store shit, right?”

 

“Uh…OK,” Yoongi said as he dropped his gaze to study his hand. He had his drink container in hand still, his straw hovering in front of his lips. “We, uh, we could go there one day. If you get number one, I’ll buy you food, yeah?”

 

“That sounds like a great idea, Yoongi,” he agreed with a soft smile, leaving his hand in place for a moment longer before shifting it back to his own lap.

 

Jimin realised, in that very moment, that they had more-or-less just agreed to something that sounded like a date, though neither one of them had called it that. It was a congratulatory meal instead, something to share together to celebrate his developmental deal going well, and an upgrade from their first convenience store celebration meal. But even when they had labelled it that, he had a feeling that they both knew what it really was.

 

A date.

 

“Anyway, enough talking about food,” Yoongi declared, as he unzipped his bag and reached inside of it. “Time to eat some food, yeah? Time to sample some more of that delicious beef.”

 

“Oh, I can’t wait!” he said with an excited grin. “It tasted so nice this morning, Yoongi!”

 

Yoongi tugged the two plastic Tupperware containers free from his bag first, quickly followed by the flask of soup. Jimin popped the lids off for him to reveal the mound of cooked rice and the soupy serving of dubu jorim that was floating in the bright red and spicy juice, and then he grabbed the flask so that he could unscrew it and pour it into the two bowls.

 

Yoongi was still rummaging through his bag to locate something, and he pulled the plastic baggie of toiletries free so that he could unzip the top and pull out the several bottles of pills that he had stored in it earlier.

 

Jimin saw that several of them were just vitamins, colourful labels stuck to the white plastic that advertised themselves as supplements of some kind, but there was one that was a deep brown in colour and most certainly a medical bottle. He watched the other man rapidly uncapping the bottles to shake out pills and place them down on the table one by one, pausing in the act of removing the lid from the flask.

 

“Yoongi? What’re all of those things?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, knowing that his question was highly intrusive but unable to help himself.

 

Yoongi tossed most of the pills in his mouth and swallowed them with a swig of water from one of their water bottles, raising his eyebrows as he did so to implore him to talk some more.

 

“I mean, why’re you taking so many pills?” he clarified.

 

“Most of these are just vitamins, herbal ones to help cut down on anxiety and shit. I dunno, they were recommended to me, so, I take ‘em. They keep me going when I don’t take care of myself the way I’m supposed to, y’know, like not sleeping or eating properly. But, uh, I take medication too. SSRI, uh, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.”

 

Jimin stared at him blankly at this, not understanding what any of that meant, and it was clear that the other man had also noticed the confusion on his face.

 

Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips at this, holding the final pill in front of his mouth but not swallowing it just yet.

 

“They’re for depression, Jimin.”

 

“…Oh?” Jimin breathed out, as Yoongi swallowed the pill hard and chased it with a deep swig of water. “Oh, um…OK, Yoongi.”

 

“You look confused, Jimin. What?” the other man asked as he started recapping the pill bottles again. “What’s on your mind, huh?”

 

“When we were recording with Hyuk, you didn’t…” he furrowed his brow, struggling to finish his train of thought because he was still so shocked by what he had just told him. “I was with you all day long, I never saw you taking any pills.”

 

Yoongi reached inside of his inner jacket pocket to produce a small container at this, a plastic rectangle that had little compartments in it in which to store pills. Jimin could see that were still some pills sitting in the various sections, which were most certainly the medication and not the colourful vitamins.

 

“I, uh, I took ‘em in the lobby outside of the studio when I went out for a smoke, I didn’t want Hyuk seeing me taking pills and asking questions, y’know? Yoongi explained in a quiet voice. “I mean, he already knows about a lot of shit and, uh, I don’t think he needs to know about this too. I’m fine, honestly. It ain’t nothing, Jimin, it’s just depression, y’know? We all get it sometimes, I…uh, I know that some people don’t think it’s nothing, not when they take a look at a work application and see those big red warning signs, but I’m lucky enough to be working in an industry that don’t give a shit about it. Everyone in this fucking industry’s neurotic, Jimin.”

 

“OK,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, playing with the flask lid as he watched the other man slipping the pill container back into his jacket out of sight again. “But, um, why did you tell me instead of someone like Hyuk?”

 

“I…” Yoongi sighed heavily at this, his slight shoulders lifting and falling in a shrug. “I dunno, Jimin. Trust, I guess? I trust you, a lot. Friends, uh, friends tell each things like this, right?”

 

“They do,” he agreed with a soft nod. “They do tell each other things, Yoongi, and I’m glad that you trusted me enough to tell me. I only asked all of those questions because I was worried that you might be sick or something, because it’s a lot of pills. But it’s fine, I don’t need to worry.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice, as he dropped the various pill bottles in the baggie again and zipped it tight. He spared a quick look up at him as he shoved the baggie back into his leather bag. “You don’t think that I’m sick?”

 

Jimin thought this question over for a moment carefully, and then he gave him a soft smile and a head shake.

 

“No, not at all, Yoongi.”

 

They were in the act of finishing up their dinner when Byun returned to resume the recording session, and so Jimin rolled right back into the booth, slipped his headphones back in place, and he went straight back to work. It allowed Yoongi to carry on typing up his lyrics on his tablet too, so that he could submit them to Bang and whoever else in the company reviewed his material.

 

Unlike recording with Andre and Killuh, Jimin didn’t record well into the early morning hours, because Byun had other contracts that he needed to work on too. That meant that it was the late night hours instead, which meant that they might just have been able to catch the final train to go back to Yoongi’s apartment. But considering the fact that they had packed their survival packs for the night, they decided to just stay in the studio instead.

 

“Tomorrow morning, we’ll review what we’ve got down and what needs to be tweaked or recorded again; yes?” Byun said as he stopped in the studio doorway and looked back at him. “I think that we’ll have the entire thing ready for mixing by the afternoon, though, because that session went fantastically, Park.”

 

“Thank you, I’ll be sure to warm-up so that we can start working right away tomorrow morning,” Jimin promised.

 

“I’ll see you around 8am again; goodbye,” Byun said as he stepped through the doorway and left the studio for the night.

 

Yoongi looked to be asleep on the sofa across the room, his head softly nodding with every breath and his arms folded over his thin chest. He knew that he should probably leave him alone, that he should let him rest if he was asleep, but Jimin moved to stand in front of the sofa and reached down to give him a gentle shoulder shake.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

“Mmm? Huh…wuh?” the other man mumbled, rolling his head back and struggling to open his eyes.

 

“Come on, we should get cleaned up at least,” Jimin said as he gently unfolded his crossed arms to take hold of his wrists and tugged hard to pull him off the sofa. “Then you can sleep, OK?”

 

“Mmm…kay,” Yoongi sighed, dropping his heavy head and making no move to cross the studio.

 

Jimin had to retrieve their toiletries from their bags and then tug him out of the studio much like a child, Yoongi dragging his feet all of the way to the lift and then leaning against the carriage wall as it ascended up to the ground-floor.

 

It felt pretty strange washing up in the public restroom of the M&M building like this, using the paper towels to dab at his clean skin and the hand-drier machine to dry his damp hair. But at least it was a lot better than curling up on the sofa to sleep and waking up feeling dirty and gross.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but look at Yoongi out of the corner of his eye, watching him lazily brushing his teeth as he tried to keep his heavy eyelids open. He had removed his beanie hat and had shoved it into his back jeans pocket, his messy black hair hanging down into his eyes that he kept blinking away as he stared at his reflection in the row of mirrors.

 

After washing up in the restroom, they went back down into the recording studio for the evening. Yoongi dropped into one of the chairs in front of the console with a series of exhausted sighs, fiddling with it in the hopes of lowering it back into a more comfortable position for sleeping in.

 

Jimin sat down on the sofa and unknotted his boots so that he could tug them free and then lie down on it. He pulled Yoongi’s bomber jacket over his upper body like a blanket, settling down on the cushions and eyeing the other man.

 

“Yoongi, you could fit on the sofa too,” Jimin remarked in a quiet voice. “There’s enough room, and that chair doesn’t look very comfortable to me.”

 

Yoongi thought this over for a moment as he pulled his own sneakers off, running his eyes over the spare room on the sofa cushions as he tried to gauge if he could indeed fit onto it. Then he got out of the chair and moved over to him, shrugging his jacket off so that he could toss it over them like a blanket too, just to keep a little bit more warmth between their bodies. He settled down on the cushions and folded one arm under his head in an attempt at making a pillow.

 

“Pft, you lied, there ain’t enough room,” Yoongi muttered with a brief smile, wriggling underneath the jackets so that he could slip his hand between his thighs and get more comfortable. “I ain’t crushing you, am I?”

 

“No, I’m fine, Yoongi,” he replied, instinctively opening his thighs so that he could try and give the other man more room for his legs. “We can fit just fine.”

 

For a moment, Yoongi stayed stiff on the sofa and refused to slot his own legs between his, his thighs squeezed tightly around his hand. But then he let his breath out in a soft sigh and pulled his hand free to place it in the space between their chests instead, slipping his lower legs between his so that their socked feet bumped together.

 

“You did great today, Jimin,” Yoongi mumbled sleepily. “I think the song’s gonna get into the charts if…if M&M really pushes their promotional skills to the max and…and if we hype it up on Twitter too.”

 

“You really think so, Yoongi?” he asked in a quiet voice.

 

“Mmm, it sounds like something that would make the charts,” he explained with a lazy nod. “It’s catchy.”

 

“It’s got such deep lyrics too, right?” Jimin joked as he moved to take hold of one of Yoongi’s hoodie strings, so that he could wrap it around his fingers playfully whilst they talked.

 

Yoongi let him do so, not at all fazed by the weight of his hand settling on his chest. His eyelids were growing heavy again, and he held his gaze without a hint of his usual shyness as he listened to him talking about his song.

 

“‘I’m gonna go far, I know I can. I’m gonna be a star, so, baby, just hold my hand’,” Jimin crooned softly, his lips instinctively curling up into a soft smile even when his throat was sore from today’s vigorous session. “That’s a sweet chorus, right?”

 

“I like it,” Yoongi mumbled in agreement, his voice heavy with exhaustion. “It’s…dreamy in a way, youthful; y’know? Sounds like the kinda shit that I…I’d have said to my momma back when I was a kid and I started fucking around with mixtapes and rapping on the walk to school.”

 

“I appreciate the hopeful aspect of it, and how it’s about dreams. It’s also way better than what I used to sing about for tips and attention,” Jimin said, his gaze slowly slipping down to stare at Yoongi’s lips as he spoke.

 

“Mmm, oh yeah?”

 

“I mean, you must know the kinda shit that I used to sing in the clubs; right?” he asked, unable to stop a soft laugh from escaping him as he carried on playing with his hoodie string. “You hear that shit constantly too, being rapped onstage and playing over the club speakers. Let’s break it down into things that I can list on one hand: pussy, money, alcohol, um…”

 

Yoongi snorted at this, slipping his hand free from under their jackets to rub at his nose roughly. It was a good attempt at hiding his amusement from him, but not good enough.

 

“You don’t rap about the kinda shit that those other rappers do. You rap about making money sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like the way that they do it. You know? That’s probably because I know that you make so much fucking cash, but I-”

 

This made Yoongi do more than snort, for he let out a sudden burst of laughter at this joke. He felt his warm breath against his lower face in soft and quick puffs, the scent of mint and tobacco filling his lungs when he breathed in deeply.

 

“I just wanna know…why, Yoongi?”

 

“What’d you mean?”

 

“Well, the rapper persona doesn’t have to be you, you know? I get why ‘Yoongi’ doesn’t rap about those things, because those things don’t mean anything to you. But why doesn’t ‘D-boy’ rap about those things?” Jimin asked curiously, hoping that his words made sense to the other man.

 

Yoongi thought this question intently, his gaze on his lips as he did so. A minute of deep contemplation turned into two, and then three, and the silence in the recording studio was incredibly heavy between them both. Perhaps he was too tired to really think of the right words to explain himself right now?

 

“I’m just me, Jimin,” Yoongi finally said with a lazy shrug. “That’s all that I can say, really. I rap about what I rap about ‘cos I’m just me.”

 

Jimin stopped playing with his hoodie string so that he could slowly run his fingers up to his jawline instead. The other man trembled from his touch just like he had done so this morning. He let him keep his hand there, however, rather than reach up and gently push it away.

 

“I think that you’re too honest, Yoongi,” he said in a whisper-soft voice, his fingers softly stroking along his jawline and drawing out a soft sigh from Yoongi. “Behind all of that stuntin’, you wear your heart on your sleeve, and that’s reckless. If you’re honest in this kinda industry, they’ll tear you apart. These rappers can smell weakness like blood, and I guess that I’m just…scared that they might find a vulnerability in your honesty.”

 

“I’m strong, Jimin,” Yoongi reassured, his own fingers slipping up the loose neck of his polo-neck shirt until they found his earring. “I can’t be hurt anymore, not like the first time. I’ve got my armour on, and my armour ain’t a bullshit persona like these others guys. My armour’s my crew, and I know I got ‘em no matter what. That’s what lets me be so honest in a crowd full of liars every single night.”

 

Jimin waited to see if he would expand on this statement or not, even when he already knew what he was talking about. His old crew back down in Daegu, the crew that he had been with back when he had been calling himself ‘Gloss’ and he had been much younger and much more tender.

 

Yoongi gently played with his earring, running his thumb over the cross so that he could feel the little notches in the silver, and when the backs of his fingers brushed against his cheek, Jimin closed his own eyes with a soft sigh.

 

“I don’t wanna be fake, Jimin, and I get that you don’t wanna be fake either. The lyrics, the tattoos, the designer shit - it ain’t me, and I know that it ain’t you either,” Yoongi continued in a soft whisper. “I just wanna make music, y’know? I wanna be an artist, not an actor, and that’s why I’m so honest.”

 

“I like that you’re honest, that you’re…that you’re different, Yoongi. I like that D-boy and Yoongi are the same person, except one of you has a mic in hand and the other has a pen,” Jimin said as he turned his face against his hand, so that he could feel his fingers brushing against his cheek that little bit more. “I…I’m different too, just like you. I don’t wanna be fake, I told you that this morning, when we were talking about that stupid nightmare. But…but it’s reckless to be too honest, Yoongi, and I think that you know that too. Maybe we should both be a little bit dishonest every now and again, yeah? Just to be…safe.”

 

Rather than reply to this, Yoongi just wet his lips with his tongue and pulled his hand away from his face.

 

Jimin could feel the lingering warmth from his touch against his skin, and he could feel himself craving it that little bit more.

 

“You gonna sleep, huh?” the other man asked to break their temporary silence. “It’s late, you need to rest.”

 

“I’ve got a headache,” Jimin replied with a grimace. “I don’t think that I’m gonna get much rest tonight.”

 

Yoongi thought this over for a moment, and then he shifted on the sofa so that he could roll onto his back and rest his head against the armrest.

 

“C’mon, sit up,” he said as he patted at the space between his thighs. “Lemme help with that.”

 

Jimin really didn’t know what he meant by this, but he moved to sit up, and then awkwardly shifted on the sofa to get into the space that Yoongi had made between his legs. He knocked his knees in the process, mumbling little apologies as he got in place and then glanced back over his shoulder at him.

 

“Lie back, yeah,” Yoongi suggested, taking hold of his shoulders so that he could gently tug him down into a lying position.

 

Jimin let him gently push his head down onto his upper ribs, settling between his spread legs with Yoongi’s body underneath him like a pillow. It was a bit of a crush fitting on the sofa like this, and he thought that the other man must have been uncomfortable underneath his weight, but Yoongi didn’t voice a single complaint as he settled down on him.

 

“Um, what exactly do you mean by ‘help’, Yoongi?” Jimin asked curiously as he stared up at the ceiling, and a moment later he felt the warmth of his hands brushing against his cheeks again.

 

Yoongi’s touch was so gentle as he massaged around his temples and slipped his fingers through his hair to knead at his scalp. He was giving him a head massage to try and lessen his tension, to help him relax and stop clenching so much in a way that was aggravating his aching head.

 

“Oh…” Jimin breathed out in a soft sigh, his eyelids fluttering shut from his gentle touch. “Oh, Yoongi, that feels…that feels nice.”

 

“First thing tomorrow, you’re gonna drink some tea from the café, yeah? I’ve got some pills, some aspirin, so, take some and just power through the morning session. You only got a little bit of the song left to record, and then you can rest all day long, OK?” Yoongi said as he carried on gently massaging at his aching head for him, his fingers rubbing tight little swirls all of the way down to his jaw and then back up to his temples again. “This ain’t like features. You’ve been singing all day long, a whole song on your own. That’s like running a marathon for your vocal chords, Jimin.”

 

This made Jimin laugh softly, because even when it was a little bit of an exaggeration, he was telling the truth. He was used to recording just a dozen or so lines over the entirety of a session, not an entire song. That was a lot more work than what he was used to, but at least his singing lessons and breathing exercises had meant that his throat wasn’t aching right now; that he hadn’t strained too hard and hurt himself.

 

“So, just try and get some sleep, yeah?” Yoongi added in a whisper-soft voice. “You’re gonna turn into me if you don’t stop - awake all night long and falling asleep on the subway every single morning.”

 

Yoongi laughed at his own joke, a soft rumbling laugh that made his chest vibrate against his head. He smelled like faded cologne and cigarettes, and his body so warm and soft underneath his back that Jimin could hardly believe it.

 

It felt so…right to him, sharing the sofa with him like this; cradled within his arms and legs instead of drifting off to sleep in a bed that smelled of him but was cold and empty.

 

Oh, he had imagined that Yoongi might just have shared the sofa with him for the night: lying close but not too close, always edging that little blurred line between friendliness and intimacy. He might have faced away from him just for the sake of it, or he might have knocked their feet together with mumbled apologies and awkward laughter that bordered on being flirtatious.

 

But he hadn’t imagined this level of closeness between them both, this sweet intimacy and tenderness that made his chest almost ache.

 

“Yoongi?” he said in a quiet voice.

 

“Mmm?”

 

Jimin opened his eyes just a slit to stare up at the studio ceiling, his gaze so unfocused that the studio lights were nothing but dim yellow blurs rather than blinding bars. It had been right there on the very tip of his tongue, and yet he suddenly found that he had forgotten what he was going to say to him.

 

Was it “good night”, on account of the fact that he was falling asleep right now from his gentle massage?

 

Was it “thank you”, for coming to the session with him today, for cooking him dinner? For taking care of him in that usual considerate way of his as he tried so hard to maintain a distance - even when there was something in his eyes that said that he wanted to get closer to him?

 

“Jimin?” Yoongi asked in a whisper, his tone sounding uncertain, almost as if he wasn’t even sure if he was still awake.

 

But before he could possibly figure out what he had been wanting to say to him, Jimin felt himself slipping down deeply into his slumber. The last thing that he was aware of was Yoongi’s arms slipping around his neck to hold him that little bit closer, his lower face pressed into his hair so that he could fall asleep holding onto him tight.

 

 

 

 

 

When Jimin stepped into the bedroom, he wasn’t at all surprised by the sight of Yoongi sitting at his desk on the computer, because he had been able to hear him working away on it whilst he had been removing his boots in the main-area. Unlike usual, however, he didn’t have the controller in front of him but rather his keyboard as he looked to be typing things up instead of composing. His headphones were sitting snug on his head as he did so. That meant that he could hear the soft pounding of a bass line and a raspy voiced man spitting rhymes bleeding through the thick leather padding, because the other man was listening to music whilst he worked.

 

Yoongi was so busy scanning the monitor screen behind his thick and rounded glasses, that it took him a moment to realise that he was standing in the doorway staring at him. The depth of his concentration was truly amazing, and his nerves were even stronger, for he didn’t even jump in surprise when he caught sight of him out of the corner of his eye.

 

“Whoa! Hey, Jimin!” Yoongi said, his voice almost a shout because he couldn’t hear him over his blaring music.

 

“Hey,” he said in reply, tinkling his fingers at him in his usual wave.

 

“How long’ve you been standing there, huh?” he asked, as he quickly tugged his headphones down to dangle around his neck and gave him a quick smile. His music was still blasting from them, and so he moved to quickly hit a button and pause the player. “You been listening to me tryna sing this whole time?”

 

“Only for a moment, don’t worry, I didn’t hear any bum notes,” Jimin joked, watching the other man reaching up to scratch at his messy and damp hair. “Were you singing in the shower, hmm?”

 

“Yeah, the acoustics in the bathroom’s great, and the shower’s loud enough to drown me out so no one else has to listen,” Yoongi replied sarcastically as he gave his damp hair a rough ruffle. “How’d it go, huh? You been posing like a top model and strutting your stuff without me, Jimin?”

 

“You know it,” he agreed as he returned the smile, leaning against the doorway and studying him for a moment.

 

Yoongi slipped his glasses off and dropped them onto the stack of papers with a soft sigh, so that he could massage at the bridge of his nose. He was sitting cross-legged in his desk chair just like always, currently dressed in his lounge wear of choice that consisted of loose grey sweatpants and whatever tee-shirt that he had found on the floor after his nap. His feet were bare, his toes curled up and his soles lightly creased because he seemed to be very comfortable right now.

 

“Are you busy?” Jimin asked as he quickly gestured at the computer. “Or can we talk about today?”

 

“Busy? Hell no, I’m bored outta my fucking brains,” Yoongi said as he sank back in the seat and reached up to rub at his eyes roughly with the heels of his hands. “C’mon on in, Jimin, y’know I always got time for you. Yeah?”

 

“I know,” Jimin said with a fond smile, crossing the room to get closer to his desk. “Ah, today was pretty crazy, Yoongi.”

 

“Oh yeah? Crazy how?”

 

In preparation for his first single, which was set to drop in just two days time, M&M had wanted Jimin to undergo a brief photo-shoot for the sake of releasing some promotional photographs for their various social media accounts, and for the press to use. They had called him into the building just yesterday afternoon in order to review the concepts that they had prepared and to organise the shoot, and he had had to travel across the capital to Gangnam-gu this morning to participate in it for most of the day.

 

Jimin had never been in a professional photo-shoot before. Though he wasn’t shy around cameras in the slightest, there was a marked difference between being in photographs or brief recordings that friends snapped of him, and being in front of professional equipment and surrounded by crew members holding board reflectors and makeup brushes that had raced around him like mad until he had felt dizzy watching them all. It had made Jimin feel both special and rather small, for the chaos had been all for him and his upcoming solo venture…but he had done very little else other than stand in front of a camera whilst everyone else had done all of the hard work.

 

The fact that Yoongi had been in his apartment all day long, working on his contracts, had most certainly added to the hectic atmosphere, because his friend hadn’t been there to offer the usual support during the entire process. He had found himself missing his silent looks, nods and thumbs-up from across the room, and his quiet words of support. He had also craved his bad attempts at jokes and his hands squeezing at his shoulders when he thought that no one was looking at them.

 

But now that he was back at the apartment, he knew that Yoongi would be there to say kind and reassuring things to him over the duration of their conversation. He might just give him the most softest of touches too, the ones that made him almost hold his breath in anticipation of something more than shoulder and hand squeezes, or hair ruffles and pats on the back.

 

“Well, the atmosphere inside of the warehouse was pretty hectic, because there was a lot of crew running around,” Jimin explained, as he shifted to sit on the edge of his desk. “There was the camera crew obviously, and the stylist and makeup artist and her assistants constantly wanting to do touch-ups between shots, and then there was all of the random tech and prop guys setting up the different sets and moving things around. I just never realised how crazy a small photo-shoot could be until today, but M&M certainly invested a good deal of money into it. So, that’s great, because the quality’s certainly there.”

 

“Mmm, your first professional photo-shoot,” Yoongi said with a smile as he sank back in the chair, the leather creaking from the movement. “Jimin, please tell me that you got a couple of photos, yeah? I mean, I saw your tweets, so, I got a little preview, but that ain’t enough for me and we both know it.”

 

“I, um, I did take a couple of photos for you,” Jimin said with a soft laugh as he slipped his phone free from his pocket and unlocked it. “I thought that you might’ve wanted see them, and I wanted you to check them out and tell me what you think too.”

 

Fuck yeah, man,” Yoongi slurred as he turned away from the computer monitor and twisted the chair slightly to look up at him. “I’d love to check ‘em out, show me the money, Jimin.”

 

Jimin opened his camera roll so that he could find the first of a dozen or so snapshots that he had taken of the monitor screen that the crew had been using during his photo-shoot. The photographs weren’t the greatest, but they were better than nothing whilst they waited for the official HQ ones to be dropped. They were really just previews for Yoongi to check out, and as he held the phone out to him, Jimin hoped that he liked what he saw.

 

After all, he knew that he could count on Yoongi to be honest with him just like he had been that night when he had given him his blunt opinion on Killuh’s track.

 

“Ah…” Yoongi sighed out, his lips lifting at the corners in a rather fond smile as he turned the phone around and looked at the screen.

 

“Do you like them? Are they good?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice, sticking his tongue out to wet his lips.

 

“You’re so fucking photogenic, Jimin,” his friend muttered as he zoomed into one of the photographs with his finger and thumb, wanting to focus more on his face. “I’m jealous, I wish I looked this good on photos…and reality.”

 

“You’re never in photos to find out how good you look!” Jimin argued with a mischievous grin, which made the other man snort laughter as he studied the screen intently. “Are you trying to get pity compliments, hmm? Do you want me to loudly argue that you look good too and that you’re handsome, and that you shouldn’t put yourself down like that?”

 

“Pft, y’know it,” Yoongi agreed with a series of guffaws. “Pity compliment are the only compliments I ever get, Jimin.”

 

“That’s bullshit, I compliment you all of the time. Mostly your skills, obviously, but that’s not pity compliments. Maybe, if you posted more selfies of yourself on Twitter, like the one of us together, then you might find that you get more compliments…” Jimin suggested, discreetly trying to drop hints to the other man. “Because then your followers get to see more of your handsome face, right?”

 

Yoongi didn’t reply to this because he looked to be too busy checking out the photographs, but he was pretty certain that he had heard him.

 

“They, um, they had a couple of ideas down for the concept,” Jimin explained as he watched Yoongi flicking through the photographs, doing so just to stop the bedroom from falling silent. “But mostly, they felt like they were concepts for Hyuk, you know? They were really similar to him, and I was worried that they would make me look like…like I’m gonna be the next ‘Andre’ or something. So, I went for the most drastically different concept that they offered me. What do you think about the concept, Yoongi?”

 

The concept in particular for his first single had obviously been focused on the title of the track: ‘shooting star’. As a result, Jimin had had to wade through a variety of suggestions, some that had been decent but just not right for him, and some that had been completely wrong.

 

There had been the obvious soft concept that had involved a wealth of dangling stars on a black backdrop and androgynous makeup and glitter, but that had been far too strong. It has been too idol-like, too obvious with the all-white clothes, and so he had rejected that concept straight away.

 

Jimin had quickly pushed away other themes that had felt fake and forced to him, or too much like rejected Andre concepts . Fitted trousers and shirts were a great look for him, sure, but when teamed with wide brimmed hats and outside shots of him lurking in empty lots and fields, they were just not made for him. They didn’t really connect to his single either, which had made him turn them down even when they would have looked really good for professional shots.

 

But he had managed to find the right one after wading through the sheets of paper, costume sketches and location photographs; the one that had appealed and related to him the most.

 

The concept that he had chosen had involved a fake and vaguely industrial nighttime set with plenty of neon lights and floor pools to create the image of wet flooring. Instead of dangling golden stars and pieces of glitter stuck to his cheekbones, the stars in this concept were on glowing neon signs for bars and various companies: discreet but attractive. There had been no all-white and diaphanous clothing and soft and pretty makeup; no sharp-cut trousers and jackets; but rather plenty of black wool, silk and leather, smudged eyeliner and a certain kind of roughness that contrasted against the other concepts completely.

 

It was just the right blend of seediness without giving out too much of a fake or unpleasant impression, and it was a complete contrast to Andre’s past concepts, which was likely what had made him select it.

 

Jimin felt this concept, because the sets looked exactly like the exterior of the bar and club circuits that he had performed on for years now. If M&M wanted to play up his drive and dedication in becoming an artist by mentioning the fact that he had been performing in clubs for several years until they had ‘discovered’ him, then it made sense that he stayed true to that kind of feeling. He needed to stay close to his roots first, before he tried to ease out of that rut and find his position as a professional singer in the industry.

 

“Neon, night, the stars hidden here and there - I get underground vibes,” Yoongi said with a series of vigorous nods, looking up from the phone screen to hold his gaze. “It’s like…uh, a contemporary envisionment of reaching for the stars or something. You’re outside of clubs and bars, and you look like you belong there but you want something else. Yeah? That’s why there’s a…a wistful look in your eyes, and you’re looking up at the sky and the distance ‘cos, uh…you’re searching for something. Am I getting there, huh?”

 

“You’re doing great,” Jimin said with a happy grin, because Yoongi really was feeling the right vibes from this photo-shoot. “That’s exactly what the director said, she said that I should, um, be in the past, but moving into the future or something. I didn’t really understand what she meant but-”

 

Yoongi guffawed at this, the sound making Jimin’s smile widen as he listened to it echoing off the apartment room walls.

 

“but it worked, clearly!” he finished with his own laugh. “Do you think that it’s… me though, Yoongi? I’m scared that I might just look like I’m trying to be someone else, you know?”

 

“Mmm, it ain’t ‘Andre’, not at all,” Yoongi said as he turned back to the phone. “This’ ‘Park Jimin’, a hundred percent ‘Park Jimin’. Especially…this one.”

 

When Yoongi turned his phone around, it was no surprise at all what photograph was on the screen, because Jimin had known the exact one that had caught his eye.

 

It was the photograph of him lying on his stomach in one of the floor pools, his black shirt soaked through and clinging to his body and his damp hair slicked back off his face. His reflection cast off the surface of the water, and he was gazing at it as if it was a mirror. The neon red lighting illuminated his face and the water, his earring studs and charms glinting just like his half-lidded eyes, and his glossy lips were parted ever so slightly.

 

“I think that’s probably gonna be the promo shot that M&M wanna hype up the most,” Jimin said as he accepted his phone back from him. “They want me to make it my Twitter header, so, I’m gonna do so when they send me the official shots. The director, um, she said that it was like Nar…Narcissus or something.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi remarked as he dropped his hands into his lap and played with the strings of his sweatpants. “You show ‘em to Hyuk yet, or has he gotta wait like the rest of your fans, huh?”

 

Yoongi,” Jimin dragged out, reaching up to cover his embarrassed smile.

 

“Huh? He’s your fan,” his friend pointed out. “He promotes you on Twitter; he’s your fan and your friend, Jimin. Y’know, like, uh, like me.”

 

“I know, I know, but it still feels weird whenever I think about that. Andre knows who I am. That’s just crazy, Yoongi. Also, he’s having a launch party, next weekend,” Jimin explained, as he folded his arms over his chest so that he could lightly scratch at his elbow. “Apparently, everyone who’s anyone’s gonna be there, including the press and various idols. He wants me to go because of the feature. I don’t know if he asked you, with you being so busy; but do you wanna go with me? It’s at this really popular club: Black Pearl.

 

“Huh, oh…uh,” Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips, his gaze flickering across his bedroom for a moment as he thought his words over. “Sure, we’ll have to go and show some support. But enough about that, back to the photo-shoot. Did you have a good time? That’s the most important question, and I should’ve asked you that first, Jimin.”

 

“Did I have a good time?” Jimin repeated, before quickly adding. “Of course I did, Yoongi. Sure, it was a little hectic, but it was a good kinda hectic. I guess it’s because I’m starting to realise that the photo-shoot means that my single will drop in a couple of days, and that I’ll officially be able to tell everyone that I’m a real singer. You know?”

 

Yoongi hummed at this as he studied his face, patiently listening to him talking as he carried on playing with his sweatpants strings.

 

“So, I had a lot of fun, but I just wished that you’d been there too,” Jimin finished as he moved to give his shoulder a quick squeeze. “What did you do today, hmm? Other than nap, I mean and- wait, you did nap, right?”

 

Jimin,” Yoongi drawled out, giving him his best weary expression as he cocked his head, a messy fall of hair falling free over his brow. “I did nap, OK, and I finished off a contract for some upcoming new ‘hip hop’ idol group signed to some lesser-known entertainment company. I spent all day tryna get the stupid guide down for their song. I fucking hate this one, so, it’s a good thing that I don’t gotta like what I compose. Anyway, uh, here’s hoping the kids can follow my rap and it ain’t too difficult. I just finished submitting it before you got back here, and I was just playing around with some lyrics.”

 

“What’re the plans for this evening? More work on your tracks? Clubs? A nice hot dinner and bed like normal human beings?” he half-joked, half-suggested.

 

“I’ve got a gig tonight, at Flow,” Yoongi said as he twisted in his seat and looked up at him. “You wanna come with, huh? Gimme some support?”

 

“You need the support?” Jimin asked, lightly taunting him just to make the other man smile. “You need it, or you want it, hmm? Which one is it?”

 

“Oh, y’know the answer to that,” Yoongi retorted as he roughly rubbed at his nose. “I just really wanna see you standing in front of the stage, cheering me on. I, uh, I perform better when you’re watching me; yeah?”

 

This remark made Jimin wriggle his eyebrows at him suggestively, and the other man stared at him blankly before he glanced at the computer monitor again. He could see that he was trying to not smirk at his rather puerile attempt at a joke, and that his face looked a lot more flushed than it had a moment ago.

 

“Of course, you know that I always enjoy watching you,” Jimin replied as he shifted to settle on the armrest of the desk chair. He slipped his arm around the back of it, so very tempted to slip it around Yoongi’s shoulders but trying to gauge if that was a good idea first. “It’s been a few nights since you performed, so, let’s go.”

 

“Great, I gotta get dressed and shit but-”

 

Yoongi paused in the act of getting out of his chair, his breath leaving him in a soft grunt as he scrunched his face up. It looked like a grimace of pain to him, and the other man dropped to sit back in the chair again.

 

“Are you OK?” Jimin asked in concern.

 

“Yeah, sitting and napping in a chair like this all day ain’t exactly a good idea,” Yoongi said as he reached back to give his lower back a series of rubs. “Just a little bit stiff, y’know, especially my knees. Goddamn, I need to stop sitting with my legs crossed, Jimin.”

 

“You spend way too much time in that chair and not enough time moving around,” he remarked as he placed his hand on his shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze. “Your poor old body, Yoongi…”

 

“Shit, Jimin, I’m only a little older than you,” his friend retorted as he turned his attention to his stiff knees and gave them a quick massage. “I can’t help sitting in this chair when I gotta work so much…”

 

“More like you work too much.”

 

Jimin shifted his hand from his shoulder to the back of his neck, so that he could gently stroke the backs of his fingers down the soft slope to the neckline of his shirt. The back of Yoongi’s neck was clean and smooth, on account of the fact that his underlayers of hair were shaved down to little more than stubble, and so there wasn’t even a little lock of hair to catch around his fingertip and curl playfully.

 

Just like that morning in the kitchen, Yoongi shivered and let his breath out in a soft sigh. His fingers tightened tightly around a handful of his sweatpants, and for a few seconds, his body tensed up so that his slight shoulders lifted higher. He didn’t tell him to move his hand away or gently knock it free with his own hand, however, but rather let him keep it in place there.

 

Maybe the fact that they had shared the studio sofa and had played with each other’s hoodie strings and earrings that night when he had been recording his single, had made him feel a little bit more comfortable with his touch?

 

“At least you can have a little break, right?” Jimin suggested as he resumed gently stroking his neck. “Now that you’ve completed this contract?”

 

“Mmm, maybe,” Yoongi mumbled in reply, which was likely a sign that he had no plans at all to take a break between his contracts. His fingers were still squeezing tight handfuls of his sweatpants, but he didn’t look to be tense or uncomfortable.

 

“When my single drops, you need to take a nice break with me - just for a few days, or even a single night,” Jimin continued, cupping his neck with his fingers and leaving his hand in place. “Promise me, please?”

 

“I, uh, I’ll try and take a break,” his friend agreed. “If your track gets number one, I promised to buy us a nice dinner; remember?”

 

“I do remember. OK, let me just get changed,” Jimin said as he moved his hand away and shifted to get off the armrest. “I’ll only be a couple of minutes, Yoongi.”

 

“Sure thing,” Yoongi said in a quiet voice, quickly saving his documents so that he could power down the computer for the night. “I gotta get ready too.”

 

Jimin didn’t really need to get changed, on account of the fact that he was dressed right now, unlike Yoongi. But his attempt at looking professional for his photoshoot this morning in his fitted trousers and a soft blue work shirt, was certainly unsuitable for a place like Flow. It wasn’t about blending in exactly, but was rather a mixture of things including being more comfortable. So, he decided to get changed into more casual clothing instead.

 

Jimin started unbuttoning his shirt without a hint of reservation, crossing the bedroom to locate his holdall bag of clothing. He stripped the shirt off as he hunkered down to start rummaging through it, but he quickly discovered that the bag was actually empty - not a single item of clothing left inside of it.

 

“Yoongi, where are my clothes?” he asked dumbly.

 

“Oh, I, uh, I put ‘em in the wardrobe for you,” Yoongi explained as he fiddled with his papers, seemingly just for the sake of it. “Y’know, ‘cos everything was getting creased and shit? So, I put most of it in the wardrobe and, uh, your underwear and stuff in the dresser - second drawer.”

 

“Oh? Thank you.”

 

Jimin straightened up again and went over to the wardrobe instead, quickly rifling through the clothing to slip one of his plain tee-shirts free. He saw that Yoongi was telling the truth, they were starting to get terribly creased from being shoved inside of the bag. He pulled it free from the hanger and slipped his arms through it, the scent of the other man’s detergent coming off it in wafts instead of his own.

 

“By the way, you’re on laundry duty,” Yoongi said as he twisted in his chair and looked at him, trying his very hardest to hold his eyes.

 

“Seriously? Wait, didn’t I do it last time?” Jimin argued, as he tugged his loose white tee-shirt on over his head and pulled down on the lengths. “I totally did! Why am I on duty again, huh?”

 

“I cooked dinner last time, twice in a row, ‘cos you always try and get outta it,” Yoongi pointed out as he slowly got out of his desk chair and went over to his wardrobe. “So, I expect clean underwear when I wake up tomorrow.”

 

“Hmm, that’s fine, I’ll have all day to do it, because you won’t wake up until 6pm,” Jimin argued as he unbuttoned his trousers and dropped them to his ankles, quickly stepping out of them. “I thought that you offered to cook dinner last time, because I was gonna do it and-"

 

“Yeah yeah,” Yoongi interjected as he started rifling through his own wardrobe. “You were acting like you didn’t know how to crack eggs, Jimin; what was I supposed to do?”

 

This made him snort laughter as he slipped into his jeans and shoved the lengths of his tee-shirt down the waistband. His friend grabbed his own black Stüssy tee-shirt from his wardrobe, tugging his wrinkled and day-old one free so that he could pull it on instead.

 

As Jimin zipped and buttoned up his jeans, he got the usual quick glance at Yoongi’s upper body as he got changed. His oversized clothing hid most of his body from view and disguised his frame, so when he removed his tee-shirts, he finally got to see more than just his thin lower arms.

 

Yoongi was slim all over it would seem, for his waist was slight and dipped in ever so slightly as his ribs tapered down, only to flare out softly at his narrow hips. There was no dimples on his stomach to signal abs, no hard swell of chest muscles, but there was a soft curve of stomach between the wings of his hipbones that was visible over the waistband of his sweatpants. On the rare occasion that he slept in his briefs instead of a pair of sweatpants, he also revealed his slim thighs and the gentle curve of his behind; which Jimin tried his very hardest to avoid looking at whenever he wandered around the apartment room at 3am in the morning with a mug of coffee in hand.

 

“We can’t all make ramyeon as good as you can, Yoongi,” Jimin remarked as the other man dropped his sweatpants to his ankles and grabbed a pair of loose and distressed jeans. “Especially when you put bacon in it.”

 

Yoongi snorted at this as he tugged his jeans up and buttoned them, and then he rummaged through the wardrobe to grab a black hoodie that had buttons instead of a zipper. He quickly fastened the buttons over his tee-shirt and then he retrieved his black 10.Deep jacket so that he could pull it on too.

 

Yoongi pulled the khaki jacket out of the wardrobe too, the one with the orange sun and white dragon on it, and he held it to him again in silent offering - just knowing that he would want to wear it. The fact that he was wearing the other version of the brand jacket, the black one with the red sun and black dragon, made Jimin snort under his breath.

 

“Everyone’s gonna think that we’re a duo,” he joked as he accepted the bomber jacket off him.

 

“Not yet, but we will be, right?” Yoongi joked as he grabbed a snapback with several metal rings stuck into the brim and ran his fingers through his hair to rake it back off his face. Then he tugged it on backwards, a small label sticking out on an angle that had R.Shemiste printed on it in white block letters.

 

“We will be,” Jimin agreed with a smile, as he slipped the jacket on and shoved his hands into the pockets.

 

After they had finished getting ready, they left the apartment by way of the lift and hit the streets to go to the subway. Jimin noted that Yoongi hadn’t brought his notebook with him tonight, or even his tablet, and that meant that he was probably going to just perform and then leave the club not long after, for he clearly wasn’t planning on staying for too long. After finishing his habitual cigarette, they boarded the first train carriage for the night.

 

“There’s been rumours floating around that I might get challenged tonight,” Yoongi said as they sat down on the bench, giving his fingers a soft squeeze. “I’ve been thinking it over, tryna figure out who’d do something like that, or what crew. But until a rapper steps on that stage, I ain’t gonna know.”

 

“Someone would challenge you? In Flow?” Jimin asked before laughing under his breath, reaching up to cover his smirk to muffle the sound as the other passengers boarded the train. “Yoongi, no one could possibly top you on that stage, underground or mainstream. You pretty much own that club.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Yoongi asked, giving him a quick grin that looked a little bit cocky, a little bit cool, but mostly pleased by the compliment. “You think so?”

 

“Yeah, well, Flow is mostly amateurs, and by that I don’t mean in terms of skills but experience. I’m yet to see someone with skills like yours drop a verse or two. It’s kinda funny that you go there, you know? Because I assume that there’s clubs that the rest of your crew go to that have way more skilled rappers performing.”

 

“I like it there, Jimin,” he replied with a soft shrug. “Like my apartment room, it’s familiar. I built up a rapport with everyone there, so…”

 

Yoongi didn’t finish this train of thought because it was obvious that he didn’t need to do so.

 

“Have you got anything prepared?” Jimin asked curiously, sparing quick glances across the carriage to make sure that they weren’t attracting too much attention. “Just in case someone does step on the stage and challenges you?”

 

“You don’t prepare for a rap battle, Jimin, not like you can prepare for a performance,” Yoongi explained, shifting on the seat and stretching out his stiff legs with a grunt. “I mean, you can always learn some basic rhymes and just change ‘em to fit the challenge, but even then, you’re still pretty much freestyling.”

 

“Oh, I see,” he mumbled as he turned his attention back to the opposite window, the carriage doors shutting with a pneumatic hiss. “Then I can’t wait to see what you’re gonna do if you get challenged.”

 

Upon entering the hip hop club, Jimin saw that it was as packed as always even when it was early in the evening. Music was pounding from the speakers, and it just so happened that it was Killuh’s track playing when they went down the stairs and crossed the club to get to the bar. He wondered if anyone in the club even knew that it was him singing on the track, but he thought that it was likely not the case.

 

“Kisum, two beers and a somaek, yeah?!” Yoongi called along the bar, and the bartender gave him a quick thumbs-up to let him know that she would get right to them. He fished a note free and dropped it onto the counter in preparation, and half a minute later, she brought the order over to them. “Thanks, honey.”

 

“There’s a lot of talk going around about someone wanting to challenge you, D-boy,” she said as she placed the the two bottles down for him, followed by a glass of somaek with the shot glass floating in it. The beer was for his friend, and the somaek was clearly for him. “Have you heard?”

 

“Yeah, I heard,” he said as he grabbed one of the beer bottles. “You see anyone hanging around here, huh? Any potential challengers?”

 

“I can see some new guys from Murda Crew across the bar,” Kisum replied, nodding in their direction. “It’s not their first time here either; they’ve been coming here for a few nights in your absence.”

 

Jimin turned to quickly glance across the club, catching sight of a small gang of guys and women taking up considerable room on several of the sofas. He didn’t recognise them, but they had attracted a lot more attention than the usual guys on the sofas, and there was a lot more bottles present too. It was clear from a glance that they were an official crew, and a respected one at that, and the fact that they were Murda Crew made perfect sense to him.

 

“I think that one of them might be thinking of challenging you tonight,” she continued as she folded her arms on the bar counter. “That’s why they’ve been here for several nights now. They’re waiting for you.”

 

“I welcome the challenge,” Yoongi declared as he brought the bottle to his lips and took a deep swig.

 

Before taking to the stage, Yoongi made sure to knock back his first beer hard. He dropped the empty bottle on the counter as he wiped at his mouth, gesturing at him to follow him over to the stage.

 

Jimin collected the other beer and his glass, following him across the club so that he could get right to the front of the pit and place their drinks down on the stage.

 

When Yoongi jumped onto the stage, he attracted quite a lot of attention like always. He didn’t even need to talk into the microphone to drum up hype, because people started moving to the pit to make a crowd for him as he grabbed the microphone.

 

Jimin folded his arms on the stage so that he could get comfortable and watch him, feeling sharp elbows knocking into his sides as people tried to get close to the stage.

 

As he looked up at him, he realised that his friend was now D-boy instead of Yoongi, that he had slipped into his rapper persona as easily as he had slipped on his snapback. It was just a subtle transition, but when the microphone was in his fist, there was just something…different about him; something powerful that was at odds with the kind of guy that he shared food and blankets with.

 

Yoongi was shy and reflective, his controller his shield that protected him as he battled with beats and troublesome lyrics.

 

D-boy was unflinching and unapologetic, his microphone a sword that he would unleash on the crowd and tear haters up with his sharp tongue and razor-like words.

 

When the beat dropped, D-boy went right in without a hint of hesitation, more than ready to show his potential challenger and their crew how ready that he was to battle. It was his usual style of choice: heavy bass and drums underneath scratching effects and a repetitive keyboard sample that sounded like it had been lifted from an American hip hop track.

 

“D-boy’s going in for the win! Win! My beats are criminal, I’mma kingpin! I got skills so hot, they burn you like fire, take me with a shot of soju, I’ll get you higher- than those other fucking posers, they dunno how to do it right. My tongue’s shooting sparks, gonna set ‘em fuckers all alight! I don’t care for bragging, man, errbody can say shit. Basic rappers, lil wannabes, they can all bullshit, but I’m here out telling the truth, man, the stage is my pulpit, so, I’mma shoot it all out like fucking bullets!

 

D-boy had a habit of moving when he rapped, from pumping his free arm in front of him, to swinging his head from side to side with every line that he spat. He curved his back so that he could lean back and hold the microphone above him, or he ducked over the speakers and cocked one thin leg up onto it so that he could look out over the crowd like a king surveying his subjects.

 

“Heard it through the grapevine the second I walked through the door. D-boy’s gotta knock some sense into these try-hards, gotta grab his gun and go to war.”

 

D-boy took a deep breath and then he held one hand up, lifting his fingers as he started listing things.

 

“One, D-boy turns ‘em on, that’s why they’re so scared of me. Two, my rapping gets their dicks up, it’s why they won’t fuck with me. Three, said they into pussy, but they all get hard ‘cos of me. Ha, that’s kinda fucking funny to me. Mo’fuckers keep talk-talk-talking all this shit ‘bout me. Youse think I don’t see? Hang on, lemme pull up my Twitter feed,” D-boy rapped as he mimed scrolling on his phone screen with his thumb. “I ain’t see nothing, damn, I ain’t got a clue, y’know why? ‘ Cos I dun give a shit ‘bout you!

 

The crowd all cheered at this as he lowered his microphone from his mouth, wetting his lips with his tongue and running his eyes across them all. Jimin noted that he focused on the crew area for a few seconds longer than anyone else, perhaps in a challenge, or just to gauge their reactions. But then he dropped his gaze to look at him and cracked him a quick grin that made his eyes crinkle at the corners.

 

“Amazing!” Jimin called, cupping his hand around his mouth in the hopes that he would hear him over the other people. “That was amazing, D-boy!”

 

D-boy blinked a bead of sweat out of his eye and then reached up to brush it free with the curve of his thumb. He was lingering on the stage for a moment because it was obvious that he was waiting to see if anyone would dare challenge him after that blistering verse.

 

Jimin was in the act of swallowing a deep mouthful of somaek when he heard noises coming from the crowd, and when he turned to look back over his shoulder, he saw people moving aside to allow a guy to get to the stage and climb up on it. He spared a quick glance at D-boy to see that he had set his expression, holding the microphone low as he watched the other rapper getting onto the stage.

 

It took him a moment to realise that D-boy really was being challenged to a rap battle tonight, just like he had told him that he had been expecting on the subway earlier. It had been so long since he had ever witnessed one happening in a hip hop club, because the ones that he had witnessed in the past had been more about posturing rather than stuntin’ for their crew and dissing.

 

But the rap battles that Jimin had witnessed in the past were nothing really; just desperate attempts at dropping a lot of English cusses and basic insults rather than showing off freestyle talents. He had a feeling that tonight was going to be the night that he got to witness a real battle of skills.

 

“Kisum!” D-boy said into the microphone, gesturing at the bartender to turn off the sound system so that the club fell deathly silent.

 

As soon as the music had been killed, he could hear the crowd all talking amongst themselves at this sudden turn of events. Had any of them witnessed a rap battle before, or was this their first time? He had yet to see one being hosted at this club, but there was a chance that they had happened in the past. He knew that rap battles happened over no beat, though they could be fought over beatboxing, should someone have a crew member at hand to drop something for them to rap over.

 

Jimin took a moment to study the challenger as he got onto the stage and reached up to tug his shades down his nose, seeing a tall and rather well-built man wearing the usual hip hop ensemble of designer clothing: a black Supreme tee-shirt coupled with Adidas tracksuit bottoms. His tattooed arms were on display to everyone, and he had several golden chains present that clashed against D-boy’s single thin necklace chain in the most obnoxious of ways.

 

“Big Boi Taekwon, representing Murda Crew,” the guy said after he had accepted the microphone from his friend, his accent obviously from Seoul.

 

Jimin swallowed his next mouthful of somaek hard at this, the rapper’s name catching him by total surprise because he knew that name. It took him a moment to realise that it was because he was the guy that Killuh had been tweeting at that day, the one that he might just have been bitching about Yoongi with. He placed his glass down on the stage and stared at his friend, wondering if he had any clue who the guy was or not.

 

“D-boy, Outsider Network,” D-boy replied after accepting the microphone back from him, giving him a nod to let him know that he had accepted his challenge.

 

D-boy didn’t even look intimidated by this challenge, and Jimin couldn’t help but wonder how many battles he had participated in in both Seoul and down in Daegu as ‘Gloss’. The answer was likely: too many, and on the train of that thought, he also wondered how many he might just have lost. But the confidence on his face showed him that his friend wasn’t worried about this one, because he either knew the other rapper’s skills, or because he had that much confidence in himself to succeeded.

 

D-boy moved to go to the edge of the stage, hunkering down and grabbing his beer so that he could take a swig and wet his mouth before the battle.

 

Jimin was standing right in front of him, on eye-level with him in fact, and he was tempted to ask him if he knew the rapper, but it didn’t seem like the right time to do so. He didn’t want to delay the battle because the crowd was tense with anticipation of what was to come.

 

D-boy gestured at him quickly rather than speak, miming an action that looked like him slipping his phone free and holding it up to record, and so Jimin retrieved his phone from his jeans and he raised his eyebrows at him; silently asking him if he wanted him to record the rap battle. The rapper nodded at this before knocking back another deep swig of beer to wet his dry mouth and throat.

 

“Challenger gets the first shot, hit me,” D-boy said as he dropped the beer bottle and straightened up again, moving to get back to the centre of the stage. “Show me how big you really are huh, Big Boi?”

 

D-boy ran his tongue around his mouth at this, distending his cheek cheekily as the crowd made amused noises at his crudely suggestive joke. He held the microphone out to the other rapper, so that he could accept it and start the battle.

 

Jimin opened his camera and he held it up front of him so that he could start recording the rap battle. He was pretty certain that this was going onto Twitter tonight, should his friend want to finally brag about something like the other rappers did so.

 

A rap battle with Murda Crew…now that was something to brag about, because they were the next biggest thing in the scene after Outsider Network. Not in terms of fans, but in terms of credentials and skills. Jimin was so very certain that he was going to want to let his crew have this victory, and he was amazed that he was actually going to be present to see this battle.

 

Big Boi Taekwon accepted the microphone from him and held it in front of his face, his gaze moving to look at his crew from over the tops of his shades. His expression and body language was that of complete cockiness, which completely juxtaposed against D-boy’s stoney face. The other man looked like he genuinely believed that he had a chance at topping him, it was evident on his smirk, but Jimin didn’t know about that. After all, he had never heard him rap before, but he knew D-boy’s raps intimately by now, and that cockiness might just be his downfall.

 

“Outsider Network got plenty of chicks, got plenty of guys but I dunno about dicks - damn . I only see a pussy in front of me, calling himself a man.

 

Big Boi Taekwon opened his battle with a rather obvious diss rather than by bigging up his own crew. He had a deep voice, deeper than D-boy’s for sure, and it was a little raspy but not in a displeasing way. Rather than rap fast to show off his skills, he seemed to be to trying to impress with his rhymes. Except, in a battle where he had been the challenger, Jimin thought that rhymes alone weren’t going to impress anyone. Not when he had had time to think of his lines before jumping on the stage; unlike D-boy, who was rapping on the fly.

 

“Gotta watch my back ‘cos D-boy’s here, I heard ‘em talking about him, homies said he’s queer, said D-boy’s sicker than sick. Man, I dunno about that but he’s eyeing up my dick!”

 

Jimin heard some cheers and hollering at this, but it was coming from his crew rather than the crowd, because he could mostly hear the sound of them booing and showing disapproval at his diss. For a freestyle, it wasn’t bad, but it was far from great, and he just knew that D-boy would have something bigger and better than that; not only in terms of rhymes but skills too.

 

Did Big Boi Taekwon really think that that was going to be good enough? Did he really think that he had a chance at winning this battle, against D-boy himself? In any other club, that shit might just stick, but Jimin knew that it wasn’t good enough for Flow, especially not when D-boy had such a high level of respect from the regulars here.

 

“Calls himself a king, pft, he’s more like a slave, thinks he’s the fave, actin’ so brave, Murda Crew gonna put him in a grave!

 

D-boy snorted at this, the sound carrying across the club from his microphone, and it made a ripple of laughter sound through the crowd in support of him.

 

It was clear to Jimin in that moment, that D-boy pretty much owned Flow in terms of popularity, and that no one could get onto the stage and challenge him without having to work hard to break that wall of defence. It was just like what he had told him about how the women in his crew protected him in return for him helping them with their music.

 

D-boy had built up a wall of defence between him and other rappers not only through his crew, but through the clubs too. These random kids that wanted to get onstage and be like him, that wanted to impress him - they had his back. The patrons that came for the alcohol and entertainment, they enjoyed his performances too much to let another rapper try and steal the stage from him - they also had his back.

 

“No no, I respect for you trying, man,” D-boy muttered into the microphone as he dropped head and started slowly pacing back and forth on the stage. “You gotta give it a shot, right? Gotta represent your crew and shit. Well, it’s my turn now, Big Boi.”

 

D-boy grabbed his snapback to pull it free and then reverse it so that he could put it back on again. He tugged down on the brim hard to cover his eyes fully, just his mouth on display above the microphone as he lifted it up to start spitting into it.

 

“Eyeing up your dick, ha, more like squinting. Think you can fuck me, but I didn’t even feel you slip it in! Ha!

 

The crowd let out a roar at this, but d-boy wasn’t even close to finished with his diss. He was just getting started, and Jimin found himself holding his breath as he watched him rapping from over the top of his phone.

 

“Sick? I’m a sicko, I’mma fucking psycho! Got my crew, got my haters, whenever I go, they go. Dickheads always tugging on my dick-head, man, it’s kinda funny how much they want it. So, spread ‘em open wide and you can jump right on it; but be sure to stretch ‘cos I’m thick, it might sting a bit. You think I want some? I ain’t that desperate, man. Beg me if you want, I ain’t fucking with you, man. Get on your knees, open wide, I ain’t letting you taste my talent, man. Swallow every drop but it ain’t gonna help you now, man.

 

D-boy was grinning around his microphone because he was on a fucking roll, and the manic energy that he was giving off was unbelievable. It was as if the rapper was high on something, something that was contagious enough to make Jimin feel a heady rush of excitement. He realised that D-boy was high off the stage right now, and rapping was the drug that he was hooked onto.

 

Big Boi Taekwon looked like he was going to retaliate, but he was unable to do so because D-boy was still going without even stopping to take a breath.

 

“Bitter ‘cos you’re on the bottom, ‘cos I’m on top. Bitch all you want, I ain’t gonna stop. I ain’t got time for murda, Big Boi, I’mma tell you why. Knives, guns; don’t need ‘em, my rapping’s more Killuh than a drive-by!

 

Jimin gasped in surprise at this blatant attack on the other crew, and the rest of the crowd also gasped and hollered at him because they were loving his diss. D-boy had to raise his voice to a near shout to be heard over the sound that they were making, his face scrunching up from exertion so that veins rippled across the surface of his neck.

 

“Keep on trying, you might just kill me, you hear?! Yeah whatever, man, just get the fuck outta here!”

 

D-boy let out a breathless holler at this, his shout taking on a squeaky note as he threw his head back hard and finished his diss, and that was when Flow erupted into cheers and applause.

 

That was it, Big Boi Taekwon had no way to fight back after that diss, and it was obvious on his face that he knew that that was the case too. There wasn’t a hint of cockiness present on his face now, just something that looked like complete shock that D-boy had managed to turn his attack around like a boomerang and injure him instead. He didn’t even attempt to ask for the microphone to fight back, officially ending the battle after just a single round.

 

D-boy offered him hand for the sake of it, showing good sportsmanship despite everything, and the other rapper actually accepted it to give him a brisk shake. Then Big Boi Taekwon got off the stage, and so Jimin stopped recording the battle and lowered his phone.

 

D-boy pulled his cap off, reversing it and tugging it down to reveal his face again. There was a light sheen of sweat on his brow and he took several quick gasps for breath and roughly wiped at his face as he shoved the microphone back into the stand holder.

 

Jimin tried to keep his expression neutral at this, but it was hard not smirking when D-boy dropped his head and gave him a smug grin. It was the expression of a guy that really did feel like a king, and after a diss like that, he had pretty much proven that he was on a whole next level of skill compared to the other guys in this club.

 

“You ain’t gonna win a war with guns,” D-boy joked into the microphone, holding it tight in his hands as he stared over at the guys from Murda Crew. “Not when we’ve got bombs, y’know?”

 

As he got down off the stage, the crowd gave him another round of applause and cheers, and D-boy was grabbed at by people wanting to give him hard smacks on the back and high-fives that he returned as fast as he could. He grabbed his beer from the stage so that he could take a swig and then splashed the remains over the crowd, making them all laugh and cheer.

 

As soon as he had given customary high-fives and bumped fists with his fans, D-boy found Jimin’s hand even through the mass of bodies so that he could tug him across the club in the direction of the doors. When they were in the narrow alleyway, he let go so that he could shove a cigarette between his lips and light it.

 

“Shit, I’m exhausted,” he muttered as he breathed the first lungful of smoke out and slipped his fingers between his again.

 

Just like that, D-boy had reverted back to Yoongi, and Jimin leaned back against the brick exterior of the club and let him enjoy his reward cigarette just like always. His friend closed his eyes as he took a deep inhale and held it in his lungs, coming down from his high slowly.

 

“I’m not surprised that you’re exhausted after that,” he remarked with a soft smile. “Yoongi, that was crazy! You really went all out with that, I can’t believe that you went that hard on a single battle.”

 

“It’s been awhile since someone had the balls to challenge me on that stage,” Yoongi explained, as shoved his lighter back into his pocket and breathed the smoke out of the side of his mouth. “I wanted to show everyone what I got, ‘cos quite a lot of swinging dicks have been calling me out online. I don’t follow ‘em but the girls keep me updated, just so I can keep an eye on ‘em and make sure I’m prepared for any shit they throw my way. Hey, can you send me that video?”

 

“Sure thing,” Jimin said as he pulled his phone out of the jacket pocket and unlocked it with his thumb, his other hand still clasped tightly in Yoongi’s hold. “I think that that should get them to shut up for a little while at least, because I got the whole thing recorded and you made Murda Crew look like fucking kids, Yoongi. Damn, you made me feel so proud watching you.”

 

Yoongi pulled his cigarette free to quickly wet his lips with a smile, and then he shoved it back into his mouth so that he could retrieve his own phone.

 

“Yoongi, why did you shake his hand afterwards? After what he said to you?” Jimin asked curiously as he shoved his phone back into his jacket pocket, watching him unlocking his own device and opening the file so that he could download the video and put it right onto his Twitter account.

 

“Dissing’s dissing, I ain’t gonna let bad blood fester on the stage,” Yoongi explained with a soft shrug as he carried on typing on his phone screen, his cigarette stick bobbing between his lips as he spoke. “You call me up onstage, wanna talk shit about me into a mic? I respect that, that’s just how it goes. You call me out on the street, when I’m sitting at the bar or whatever, so you can talk shit about me? That’s when I’ll spit in your face.”

 

“I get that, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he moved closer to him, their upper arms running together. “Talking shit about your skills and crew is one thing, but that wasn’t what he did. He said some disgusting shit about you, shit that I know is…is personal to you that should never be used against you onstage. I wouldn’t have done that, I would’ve spat on him instead.”

 

“Well…I gotta do what I gotta do,” Yoongi said in a soft voice, letting go of his hand so that he could quickly dab ash off the end of his cigarette and then shove it into his mouth again. “Don’t you worry none about the personal shit, lemme worry about that; yeah?”

 

After posting the video on his account, Yoongi smoked his cigarette down to nothing more than the filter and then he shoved the butt into his jeans rather than toss it onto the ground. He rubbed at his eyes and nose roughly in a sure-kill sign of him being tired, and that meant that they were going to leave the club and jump the last train to get back to his apartment. So, they left the alleyway together and proceeded to start walking along the block to get to the subway.

 

“Yo, D-boy!”

 

Yoongi slowed down at this sudden holler, the both of them turning around to see that a very familiar man was heading right their way from the club entrance. Big Boi Taekwon had just shouted at him, because he clearly wanted to say something, and Jimin could only hope that it was something related to rapping and the battle and that it was neutral, rather than angry words and possible threats of a fight.

 

“Yeah?!” Yoongi shouted back as he turned to face him.

 

“That was a good diss, man,” the other rapper said as he came to a stop a few feet away from them, a lit cigarette in the corner of his mouth. “I know that we ain’t been onstage against each other like that before, but I’ve heard a lot about you. Guys say that, uh, you’re a smart freestyler, but I didn’t think that you were that smart. You know?”

 

“Mmm,” Yoongi hummed as he slipped his phone free and unlocked it with his thumb, either to use it or pretending to do so so that he could avoid eye-contact with the other man.

 

“Man, I thought I was on top of my game tonight, but you made me look like a fucking amateur out there,” Big Boi remarked, a hint of something that might just have been respect in his voice. “I ain’t ever seen a guy diss that fast in a battle before, it’s like your brain’s a fucking computer or something.”

 

Yoongi made a soft noise at this rather than speak, his thumb moving across his screen even when it was obvious to Jimin that he wasn’t even using the device. It was just a prop and nothing more than that.

 

“We said some pretty heavy shit out there, huh?”

 

Jimin glanced between them both at this, trying to gauge the tension to figure out if there was a chance of an argument unfolding. It seemed unlikely, but he still felt on edge because the rapper was telling the truth.

 

Big Boi Taekwon had called him a ‘sicko’, had said that he was ‘queer’ and he had insulted his crew. Yoongi had retorted with filth and vague challenges against his crew too. It was really heavy shit to spit at each other, but luckily the stage seemed to negate a lot of the anger and hatred that their words contained.

 

“I just wanted you to know that I ain’t gonna hold none of that shit against you,” the other rapper continued. “The stage’s the stage, yeah? If I’m in a club and I see you, I ain’t gonna challenge you, but I might buy you a drink, so long as you don’t tell anyone. I don’t want dudes getting the wrong idea, ha.”

 

“I ain’t gonna hold grudges, I ain’t got time for petty shit, that’s for amateurs,” Yoongi agreed in a mumble, which was his way of letting the other rapper know that they were good.

 

“Hey, ain’t you the guy that sang for Killuh?” Big Boi Taekwon asked as he turned his attention to him. “I saw you on Twitter, yeah? Jimin, or something?”

 

“Uhuh, I sang on ‘feeling your body’ for him,” Jimin explained with a nod, his earrings dangling from the movement. “You might’ve seen me on his Twitter feed a few times.”

 

“Yeah, you got killer vocals, man. Damn, we could do with a guy like you in our crew, even if you don’t rap, you know?” the other rapper remarked as he pulled his cigarette free and breathed a lungful of smoke out at him.

 

Jimin made sure to hold his breath, not wanting to breathe in any more pungent and toxic fumes tonight.

 

“Are you in a crew right now?”

 

“Oh, um, I’m not in a crew, but I’m working with D-boy right now,” Jimin explained as he nodded at his friend for emphasis. “We’re hoping to get some material recorded, as soon as I’ve got free time between my singles, so, I’m too busy to think of joining crews or anything like that.”

 

Jimin noticed that his gaze flickered down to their entwined hands as he spoke, but the other rapper’s face was completely neutral. He expected that Yoongi might have let go upon noticing that the other man had caught sight of their hands, but Yoongi did no such thing. He was far too busy pretending to use his phone to look at Big Boi Taekwon, after all.

 

“OK, well, I hope to not see you around, D-boy,” Big Boi Taekwon joked as he took a quick drag on his cigarette. “I don’t want my guys egging me on to challenge you, ‘cos I ain’t crashing and burning like that onstage again.”

 

“Stay away from Flow and you don’t gotta worry about that,” his friend suggested, before turning on his heel and pulling him away from the other rapper. They were quite a distance away before he muttered something under his breath. “Unbelievable. Tryna poach you right in front of me; what kinda fucking idiot…”

 

“Poach me? What am I, a tiger?” Jimin asked as he let the other man tug him along the street.

 

“It ain’t like that, Jimin, I meant that he was tryna grab you and get you into his crew,” his friend explained. “You ain’t a rapper, you don’t belong in a crew. That’ll affect your chances for collaborations in the future, ‘cos Murda Crew ain’t gonna work with a guy in Outsider Network, and vice versa. You get me?”

 

“I get you.”

 

“Stay solo and crew-free, Jimin, for the sake of potential future features.”

 

They came to a stop at a set of lights a moment later, joining a small gaggle of tourists and the usual bar hoppers as they waited for a chance to cross the busy road. Jimin sidled a little bit closer to him, so that his friend could hear him over the drone of conversation.

 

“But I already have a crew, remember - me and you, against the world?”

 

This made Yoongi’s lips curl up into a soft smile and he squeezed his hand tightly in his hold in silent agreement.

 

Upon returning back to the apartment room after the long journey on the subway trains, it was already past midnight. Jimin went straight into the bathroom so that he could clean up whilst his friend raided his refrigerator and checked for leftovers to snack on. He took a quick shower, washed his face and brushed his teeth, and then he got changed into a pair of sweatpants and exited the bathroom with the towel dangling around his neck.

 

Yoongi was gnawing on the remains of some kimbap, blobs of cold and sticky rice caught in the corner of his mouth as he lingered by the kitchen counter. His hoodie, jacket, jeans and snapback had been tossed on the sofa so that he was only wearing his tee-shirt and briefs, and his hair was a mess just like always.

 

So, Jimin left him to finish his snack whilst he went into the bedroom and settled down on the bed. He was in the act of applying toner and lotion onto his skin when Yoongi stepped into the bedroom too, lingering in the doorway with a chunk of kimbap still clutched in one hand.

 

“I’m gonna work on a track for a little bit longer, yeah?” Yoongi said as he rubbed at his eyes roughly with his fist and then sniffed hard.

 

“You’re working on the track again?” Jimin asked in surprise, pausing in the act of massaging lotion into his skin. “Yoongi, you need to sleep. You haven’t slept in over a day, and even then that was just a nap.”

 

“Just for a little while,” he explained around his bite of kimbap, tugging at the ends of his tee-shirt and stepping from foot to foot awkwardly.

 

“If you don’t stop, you’re gonna crash, Yoongi,” Jimin mumbled knowingly as he patted at his dewy cheeks to encourage absorption.

 

“Crash? I ain’t gonna crash,” Yoongi retorted with a head shake, snorting hard to show that he didn’t think that this was a potential outcome. Then he wiped at his mouth to clean away a blob of rice, sucking it free from his thumb. “I’m fine, trust me.”

 

“You don’t have to ask me permission, Yoongi,” Jimin said as he finished massaging at his skin and then started towelling at his damp hair. “If you wanna work on the track, you can. I just want you to rest, so, don’t stay up all night playing on that controller and keep me awake too.”

 

“I promise I’ll be quiet. I ain’t gonna make too much noise,” Yoongi said as he pulled the chair out and sat down in it. “Just sleep, yeah?”

 

Jimin climbed into bed after drying at his hair, pulling the light covers over him so that he could settle down and attempt to rest. The bedroom light was switched off, the only light coming in from the window and the computer screen as Yoongi opened various programmes, plugged his headphones into the jack and got ready to work away on whatever track he was currently obsessed with. It was most certainly his own track rather than a contract, because he was putting a lot more effort into it than usual.

 

Jimin could feel himself falling asleep, yet he couldn’t seem to get any deeper than a light nap that he kept waking up from after what felt like mere minutes. It wasn’t because Yoongi was making too much noise, for he was hardly making any save for the softest creaking of the leather chair and the sound of the buttons being pressed every now and again. His friend had even lowered the volume on his computer so that it wasn’t bleeding out loudly like usual, just to not disturb him. He wanted to sleep, but he just didn’t seem able to do so right now.

 

Eventually, Jimin stretched out onto the bed with a heavy sigh, his bare legs and stomach rubbing against the mattress as he stared at the bedroom window. He heard the computer chair creaking as Yoongi shifted to look over at him, quite possibly because he had heard his sigh through his headphones, or just because he was actually moving to get more comfortable.

 

As Jimin stared out of the window and listened the softest sound of music coming from Yoongi’s headphones, he found his eyelids growing heavy again and he just prayed that this time he stayed asleep for longer than a couple of minutes.

 

Jimin had no idea how long he had been asleep for, but he became vaguely aware of the sound of the computer chair creaking again as his friend shifted in it. It might just have been him folding or unfolding his legs like always, but it was quickly followed a soft clattering sound as he placed something down on the desk. It could have been his headphones, a mug, anything at all; Jimin was far too tired to possibly lift his head up and look over at him.

 

Mmm, shit,” Yoongi muttered, his voice heavy and husky with exhaustion.

 

Jimin opened his eyes a crack just in time to catch sight of the computer monitor being switched off, plunging the bedroom into the closest thing possible to darkness. It seemed that Yoongi was finally giving up on working on the track for the night, but he had no clue how long exactly he had been working on it for. It could have been as short as an hour or as long as three for all that he knew. So, he moved to bury his face against the pillow as he listened to the sound of his friend shuffling across the bedroom to leave and collapse on the sofa for the night.

 

Except…Yoongi’s bare feet softly padded their way over to the bed instead of the doorway, and then they stopped completely.

 

Jimin felt the covers shifting against his thighs, and he wondered if he was fixing them up over his body for him before he left the bedroom. But he quickly realised that he was lifting the covers up for a completely different reason.

 

Yoongi shifted to sit down on the very edge of the mattress and then he pulled his legs under the covers slowly, as if he didn’t want to disturb him because he thought that he was still deeply asleep. He carefully fixed the covers back in place to keep him warm, tugging them up from his hips to his lower ribs in fact, and he stayed seated for a moment rather than lie down.

 

Jimin could hear him sniffing and yawning loudly, and likely not covering his mouth politely because he was too tired to even lift his hand, and then he ruffled at his hair roughly too.

 

After a moment, Yoongi shifted to lie down on his back beside him, and Jimin was more than aware of the fact that there was a considerable amount of space between their bodies. He felt the sharp jut of his elbow just a mere inches away from his back, because the other man had his hands placed on his ribs and he seemed to be staring up at the ceiling. His breathing was uneven for a few minutes before it started to slow down and get deeper, signalling that he was starting to drift off to sleep.

 

But before he ended up doing so, Yoongi rolled onto his side and slowly edged closer to him so that his clothing rustled and the bed springs creaked ever so slightly.

 

Jimin opened his eyes a crack to stare across the room, just waiting for his friend to get comfortable or to maybe slip an arm over his side so that they could fit on the small mattress more easily. But Yoongi didn’t do so, even when he could sense trepidation coming from him, rather he just settled down behind him and kept that little hint of distance between them just like always, leaving him no choice but to take matters into his own hands.

 

So Jimin rolled over to face him and he threw an arm around his waist, and the sudden movement caused Yoongi to let out a sharp gasp. He had had his hand hovering right there in the space between them, just a mere inch away from his back as if he had been planning on slipping it around his ribs, and now it was crushed between their two bodies when he tugged him close.

 

“I thought you were asleep,” Yoongi whispered before letting out an embarrassed laugh, his legs knocking against as he pulled him as close as possible so that there was but an inch or so between their bodies. “You scared me.”

 

Jimin let out a series of sleepy noises at this, because he was still unable to formulate proper words. His hand was still holding onto his friend, settled in the dip of his lower back, and he kept it in place rather than move it because it felt right there. His tee-shirt was wrinkled, warm and soft against his palm, and he could snag tight handfuls of it between his fingers as he settled down comfortably again.

 

“Mmm, tired,” Yoongi sighed out heavily, the gentlest puffs of his breath touching his face because they were so close. “I’m tired and the sofa’s so far away, I just-”

 

“I told you that you were gonna…gonna crash, Yoongi,” Jimin mumbled over him as he turned his face into the pillow and tightened his hold on his tee-shirt.

 

“just thought we could share the bed,” Yoongi finished in a whisper, before quickly adding. “I ain’t disturbing you, am I? D’you want me to use the sofa, ‘cos I will if you-”

 

“Yoongi, sleep,” he sighed, hoping that his friend would just stop mumbling made-up excuses for the real reason that he was lying in bed with him, and instead just fall asleep with him again - just like that night in the recording studio. “Just sleep, mkay?”

 

Yoongi’s lower legs were so cool against his own warm legs, that it was no wonder that he slowly moved to bump his knees against his to try and share his warmth. Except Jimin had the most funniest feeling that the other man wasn’t trying to share his warmth like that at all, though he might just say that that was the reason why.

 

“What time’s it, huh?” Jimin asked in his own husky mumble, turning his face away from the pillow so that he could look at him through his eyelashes.

 

“…5am,” Yoongi replied in a whisper-soft voice, his fingers slowly unrolling to brush against his bare chest, so that his fingertips brushed against his collarbones.

 

“Hmm, told you were gonna crash you…loser,” Jimin muttered with a sleepy laugh, shifting his hand from his lower back to slowly rub it up to ribs and rest his elbow on his side comfortably. “But I’m glad that you…you decided to sleep in the bed instead of the chair, yeah?”

 

“You sure I ain’t disturbing you?”

 

“I’m sure, I, um, I actually…like this, Yoongi,” he admitted in his own whisper, struggling to keep his eyes open and seeing little more than his blurry face a few inches from his own. “It’s…nice, don’t you think?”

 

“Yeah,” Yoongi agreed in a soft voice, his fingers moving in a way that almost felt like a stroke to him. “It’s nice, Jimin. I could, uh, I could fall asleep like this. Y’know?”

 

Jimin opened his eyes again to try and hold his gaze, and he could just about make out his features in the darkness of the bedroom. Yoongi’s eyes glinted in the dim of light coming in through the window, black and glossy, and his lips were parted to show a hint of his upper teeth.

 

“I know,” Jimin agreed with a soft smile.

 

Yoongi moved in his hold so very slowly, his hand moving from between their chests to run up his neck to his jawline, before tickling up his chin to find his lips.

 

Jimin felt the most pressing urge to pout his lips out and kiss his fingertips when they brushed over his mouth, and before he could hope to suppress it, he did so. It made Yoongi laugh softly, pulling his fingers away before he gently brushed them along his lips again.

 

“Ain’t you gonna go back to sleep?” Yoongi asked him softly, his tone of voice revealing that he was smiling at him.

 

“Hmm, I’ll fall asleep soon,” he replied with his own smile, shifting on the bed until their faces were close enough for their brows to touch. “If you stop talking, that is.”

 

Yoongi guffawed sweetly at this, and Jimin was so close to just kissing him that it took a great deal of strength to not move his face to bring their lips together. It was the right moment, he was convinced that it was the perfect time to just take the plunge and finally kiss him, because he had been convinced for so long now that his friend really wanted him to do it.

 

In the darkness of the bedroom, Yoongi didn’t need to worry about holding his gaze afterwards, or his flushed cheeks, and the kiss might just be enough to get him to fall asleep at last.

 

But then he thought about the rap battle and the stinging words that the other rapper had spat at him, and how honest Yoongi was…and he wasn’t entirely sure if he could be so honest under that amount of pressure.

 

Yoongi moved his hand so that he could settle it in the dip of his waist as he shifted to press his face against his bare chest. Jimin moved his hand from his ribs so that he could cup the back of his head in his palm instead, his fingers sinking into his messy tangle of locks as he moved to press his own face against the crown of his head.

 

The last thing that Jimin was fully aware of before he sank down into his slumber again, was the heat of Yoongi’s lips pressing a lazy kiss on the swell of his bare chest and his breath escaping him in the most softest of sighs.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“…and I like to joke sometimes that D-boy’s married to his music, but it’s not that far from the truth at all. He’s willing to go nights without sleep just to complete the beat for a bridge or pen a hook. He can go most of the day without food too, because it’s a distraction and it means that he needs to put his notebook down or step away from his computer for a little while. I mean, I’ve got a pretty funny story about just how dedicated to music D-boy really is.”

 

“Oh really? Are you going to share this story, Jimin?”

 

“Yeah, I’m totally gonna tell you all, because I want everyone to think of him doing something like this and-”

 

[Jimin suddenly snorts laughter and he reaches up to cover his mouth, and he has yet to even recount the story. It makes Taehyung guffaw softly, because he clearly finds his outburst of giggles amusing.]

 

“It’s just something so uncharacteristically ‘D-boy’, you know? Anyway, the one thing that I can count on D-boy for is his hygiene, because no matter how busy he is working on his music and contracts, he always ensures that his hygiene doesn’t suffer as a result. He showers every single night, and sometimes in the morning too, because he can’t remember if he did so when he wakes up after his naps. He has a pretty complex skincare and bathing routine too.”

 

“That’s good, Jimin. I mean, lack of sleep and not eating regular meals is unhealthy and he should really fix these habits, but at least D-boy is highly hygienic.”

 

“Well, one time, he was in the shower and I was in the main-area of his apartment room - video calling with my parents on my laptop. All of a sudden, I just hear this…squeaky yelp, and when I turn around, D-boy’s racing out of the bathroom with a towel clutched against his crotch because he’s in too much of a rush to wrap it around himself properly, and he’s chanting this line to himself over and over as he runs into the bedroom to get to his computer: “busting up the scene, one lyric at a time, my rhymes are a crime, should be serving time” and…that’s exactly how D-boy accidentally mooned my parents.”

 

[The three men start laughing at this story, Jimin throwing his head back hard as he lets out a burst of rather infectious giggles. After ten seconds of amusement, he settles down to continue speaking, and there is now a smile on his face that has been noticeably absent during the interview.]

 

“I can’t possibly imagine D-boy doing something like that, Jimin. Like you said, it’s so unlike what people know of him through his social media accounts and various interviews. You’ve painted him in a rather immature way at times: from pretending to record you playing around with instruments in the studio that one night as a joke, to running around his apartment naked to type up lyrics. This is the kind of perspective that you never get of artists - a human aspect that is greatly lacking in the music industry.”

 

“Hmm, but he’s just a cold and antisocial bastard though, right?”

 

[The sarcasm in Jimin’s voice is unmissable, as it is on his wry expression.]

 

“Far from it, from what you’ve personally attested. You’ve made it pretty clear that D-boy is a supportive and caring mentor to his fellow crew members and other artists, and that he’s highly dedicated. To the point of crashing, as you so aptly described.”

 

“That wasn’t the first night that D-boy crashed in my company whilst working on his tracks because he was pushing himself too hard. Like I said, he was always staying awake for days on end, running on nothing more than coffee and a bowl of naengmyeon, and then he would crash. A couple of times, he actually collapsed - and by that, I don’t mean that he would fall asleep at his desk. I mean that he would just blackout and drop. Sometimes, he hit the floor pretty hard, but he luckily only ever ended up with bruises rather than broken fingers and wrists, or even concussion.”

 

“Oh my god, Jimin.”

 

“I know, right? I’ve taken him to hospital more times than I’d like to admit whilst we were working on our tracks, just so they could put him on an I.V. drip for a few hours and then dismiss him. It was a good thing that he was taking so many vitamins back then, but that’s not an adequate replacement for food and rest, which we both were more than aware of.”

 

“Not at all, Jimin, it’s not healthy or adequate. Is D-boy taking better care of himself these days? I think that your fans would like to hear more about this, because they must really be worrying about him right now.”

 

[Jimin’s face shifts at this, his eyes growing round as his mouth opens in a slack ‘o’ of surprise. But then he recovers and manages to reply.]

 

“Oh, it’s OK! It’s OK, guys, I promise that D-boy is taking much better care of himself right now. He takes plenty of supplements, has cut down on the coffee, and he eats at least two meals a day; and I make sure that he takes regular naps when he’s too busy for a full night of sleep, because I know that he can’t slack off when there’s music involved. His health is a lot better than it used to be, and he’s doing good.”

 

“That’s a relief for us all, Jimin. Having found out about his turbulent mental health through his mixtape, I think that we’re all relieved to know that he’s taking good care of himself now…and that he’s receiving a lot of care from you too.”

 

“Ah, that too…”

 

[Jimin shoots him a shy smile before dropping his head, his cheeks taking on a rather pink flush that the dim lighting almost disguises.]

 

“Before we move forward, Jimin, I think that we should talk about something very important: that first rap battle that you witnessed.”

 

“OK.”

 

“What I find interesting about the battle, Jimin, is the fact that D-boy seemed to…tackle disses aimed at him in a way that’s completely unexpected to most. You would assume, that when a man’s masculinity and sexuality is under attack, he would fight back in an aggressive and arguably more damaging fashion in an attempt at deflecting the attack. For example, there have been many instances of mainstream rappers defending themselves, like Jeondongsa, who started the rather irritating trend of calling himself a ‘whole man’, or a ‘real man’ - which is the new favoured declaration of choice; after a host on a radio show remarked on his lyrics showing a depth of sensitivity in him. Apparently that was an attack on his masculinity, which ironically enough showed him to not be sensitive at all in the slightest and resulted in a high level of criticism from fans.”

 

“Oh boy, thank you, Jeondongsa, you total dickhead.”

 

[Jimin mutters this under his breath, his voice filled with dripping venom as his lips pout out in sullen fashion. The comment is enough to make the hotel room fall silent for four seconds, before Hoseok breaks it again.]

 

“…Do you want me to cut that line out of the interview, Jimin?”

 

[Jimin thinks this over for a moment, reaching up to rub at his delicately pointed nose as he runs his gaze across the hotel room. His sullen pout is still on display, but he manages to rein it in when he replies to the question.]

 

“For the sake of not causing shit with yet another rapper, yeah; that would be for the best, right?”

 

“I think it would be for the best, yes, though I completely understand your reasons for vocalising such an annoyance. Anyway, where were we, hmm… Ah, yes, D-boy’s lyrics!”

 

[There is a creaking sound as Hoseok shifts in his chair.]

 

“When it comes to disses, D-boy’s not afraid to get pretty puerile. It’s a complete contrast to his usual lyrics, which are incredibly deep, personal and poetic. Having watched the recording of that battle a dozen or more times, I find it highly fascinating, because the D-boy on that stage is not the same D-boy that we hear on your tracks, or that we see on your live performances. Can you expand on the reason for these two contrasting sides of him, Jimin?”

 

“Uhuh.”

 

[Jimin nods vigorously at this request, his earrings dangling just like always, and then he shifts to sit forward and get closer to camera A.]

 

“You can’t play cute in disses, not when your opponent’s willing to call you a fucking ‘sicko’ and ‘queer’ in front of a crowd for the sake of trying to ruin you. D-boy knows more than anyone else that fighting fire with fire isn’t the greatest idea, but he wasn’t intending to flame other rappers with his verses. He liked to think that…he would put out the fire by scaring them away for a little while, and it used to work in the clubs pretty good. So, he went into total attack mode to defend himself, even when it meant taking several hard blows in the process, and it worked for him…most of the time.”

 

“What I find interesting is that D-boy retaliated to an attack on his sexuality by using it in a way that you would never expect. He got crude, he got hypersexual; he made the issue something to frighten away rappers by accusing them of all kinds of shocking things, like claiming that the rappers in the clubs that hated him were actually aroused by him. Quite frankly, it was a genius idea, because it triggered a form of self-defence mechanism that forced many rappers to leave him alone for fear of him slurring them in such a fashion in front of their fans. But it was also a rather dangerous game to play, as I’m sure that you’ll agree, Jimin.”

 

“Oh yeah, I was always terrified that he would pick a fight with a guy in the club that wouldn’t respect the rules of a battle and end up glassing him right there and then.”

 

[Jimin fiddles with his thumb ring furiously at this, twisting it round and round in a way that shows that he is nervous just talking about the past rap battles and current ongoing disses that they are both embroiled in.]

 

“Luckily, that never happened to him, because D-boy’s all talk. Trust me, he’s not a fighter in that regard. He puts on a tough face when he has to, but he really likes avoiding conflict of any kind. We didn’t exactly have much a choice in the matter though…”

 

“D-boy seemed intelligent enough to understand the saying “don’t throw stones in glass houses”; that he understood that causing conflict with other rappers could actually damage him more because he was in a very…tight spot, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“Which was why he stuck to clubs that meant that he could avoid confrontation with other crews, kept a low profile on social media, and kept a lot of his personal life secret for the sake of being able to adapt to the hostile culture within the underground scenes in Daegu and Seoul.”

 

“Exactly, Hoseok. D-boy learned the hard way that you can only survive by adapting, and so he found his own way to navigate the scene that meant that he could work with his crew and complete contracts without trouble.”

 

“But he still remained on the radars of certain crews, it would seem.”

 

“Uhuh, fucking Murda Crew hate him, and that’s the truth. It’s not a matter of unfriendly competition for professional reasons, the crew hate him because he’s a better rapper than them, he makes more cash than them, he helped set up a crew that’s better than them: D-boy’s superior in all ways, and so they need to destroy him - and me through association - so that they can remain inferior without issue.”

 

“That’s a bold claim to make, Jimin.”

 

“I know, but why hasn’t another crew jumped onto this issue other than D-boy’s old crew, D-Town? Why aren’t the other major crews in Seoul releasing diss tracks aimed at us both, or his crew: Beatsmash, Soul Sound, High Inc.? They’re competitors with Outsider Network, they could benefit a lot from seeing D-boy crash and burn; so, why they aren’t getting involved? Because this isn’t professional, Hoseok. This is personal hatred and an orchestrated character assassination on D-boy that they want no part in it.”

 

[The hotel room falls silent at this, and Jimin shifts to slouch back against the sofa. He folds his arms over his chest, waiting for the other man to say something.]

 

“Arguably, this became something more than a simple feud between crews for musical reasons the very second that your careers were put at risk by newspaper articles and photographs claiming to be concrete evidence of you two being a couple - all triggered by rumours about D-boy’s sexuality that started in the underground scene. I think that your claim about Murda Crew and D-Town hating him is actually completely genuine, Jimin, and I think that it should be taken more seriously. Jealousy should never be able to destroy lives and careers, and though your careers are still powering through at the time of this interview, that’s not the point. The point is that what happened to you both is morally wrong, and Flame wants the world to know this fact.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

[Jimin gives the other man a soft smile at this, but it looks more melancholic than relieved. It makes him look so very drained and stretched to the point of snapping, despite how strong and unflinching he has been so far in the interview.]

 

“Their attempts at destroying D-boy’s success dragged you into this feud, and you were completely innocent. You both were, of course, but you had no connections to D-Town at all, and you only featured on a single song for a member of Murda Crew. They had no right to put your career, life and relationship with D-boy - both professionally and personally - and your friends and family, at risk. It’s unfathomable to me that these rappers have gotten away with behaviour that should be legally prosecutable on the grounds of discrimination, not libel, and-”

 

[There is a series of brisk knocks on the hotel door and that means one thing and one thing only - the takeaway order has arrived.]

 

“OK, it’s time to suspend the interview and cool down because-”

 

It’s pizza time!

 

[Taehyung hollers over Hoseok in pretty decent English, a hint of a Daegu accent escaping as he dives out of the chair and goes to answer the hotel door. This childish outburst makes both Hoseok and Jimin laugh over the sound of the door being opened from somewhere behind camera A. Taehyung is not wearing a microphone, and so his voice is unclear as he addresses the delivery person.]

 

“Is he usually this enthusiastic?”

 

[Jimin jokes with a bright smile, his eyelids crinkled at the corners as he gestures over at the other man. Taehyung’s outburst was not only amusing, for it had also lightened the atmosphere in the hotel room after that rather heavy discussion.]

 

“You don’t know the half of it, Jimin. The word immature can’t even describe him, because it has ‘mature’ in it.”

 

[This wry remark makes Jimin laugh, and there is a series of creaks as Hoseok gets out of his own chair.]

 

“Are you sure that he’s not your intern, Hoseok, because it sounds like you two have a bit of a history…”

 

[Hoseok can only sigh at this, the noise better than any possible verbal reply. His footsteps and rustling clothing sound as he moves across the hotel room to presumably help the other man with the bags of takeaway food.]

 

“…thanks, drive safely.”

 

“Do you two need any help with the food, Hoseok?”

 

“It’s fine, Jimin. I think that we can sort this out without bickering too much.”

 

“OK.”

 

[From somewhere off-camera, the sound of soft thumps and wrinkling plastic sounds suddenly, quickly followed by the hotel door shutting with a loud thud.]

 

“These bags are heavy, Taehyung. What the hell is even in here and- oh, there’s drinks in this order too.”

 

“Yeah, Hoseok, you get drinks with the orders. Didn’t you know that? Do you even eat takeaway?”

 

[Hoseok laughs softly at this, clearly finding the sarcastic remark amusing, even when there was a chance that Taehyung had not been joking with him.]

 

“Are there any plates in this place? They have plates in hotel rooms, right?”

 

[Jimin shifts to slip his phone free from his sweatshirt pocket again, lifting it up to his face so that the glow from the screen casts over his skin and makes his eyes glisten. He unlocks it with his thumb and he hits several things before holding it to his ear, because he is clearly making a phone call.]

 

“…just eat outta the boxes, Hoseok, that’s the entire point of the order.”

 

[Jimin’s eyes slide to look over at Taehyung at this muttered suggestion, and his microphone picks up the dull drone of the dialling tone coming from his phone speaker. His expression is neutral for six seconds, and then it shifts ever so slightly as whoever he is calling presumably picks up.]

 

“Hey, it’s your boy calling and- hmm? Oh, everything’s fine, it’s going great, Yoongi. The interview is going so great that I can hardly believe it. I thought that I was gonna fuck it up and-”

 

[Jimin pauses for a moment as he listens to the other man talking down the line, a muffled hint of his voice being detected by his microphone. Across the hotel room, Hoseok and Taehyung are quietly talking to one another as they unload the bags of takeaway food and use the hotel bathroom during the temporary interview break.]

 

“I know, I know, but you know me - just worrying about everything and anything. But, Yoongi, it’s honestly going great. I don’t feel that uncomfortable talking about everything right now, because the magazine representatives are so polite and patient and…yeah; yeah, I’m doing this our way, not SJ’s way.”

 

[Jimin pauses for ten seconds to allow the other man to talk, his eyes dropping to study his nails as he listens to him talking. The tip of his tongue slips free to wet his lips and then he pulls his lower lip in nibble on it briefly.]

 

“Not yet, no, I haven’t…we’re not at that point yet. Do you think that I should talk about it? I mean, if I do, then I’ve gotta talk about you and-and everything, and that means I’ll have to…expose you too and-”

 

[Jimin stops talking suddenly because the other man has presumably started talking again. It is clear that he is not entirely comfortable with this discussion, for he shifts on the sofa to fold his legs to the side and he turns away from camera A so that his profile is only visible.]

 

“Are you sure, Yoongi? Your parents…you’re definitely sure? Because I know that you said that you were sure when I left the house, but you might’ve changed your mind since then and just never thought to contact me and- OK.”

 

[Jimin drops his head at this, his breath escaping him in an exhausted sigh as he reaches up to place his hand against his brow and slowly rubs at it.]

 

“OK, I’m so proud of you, Yoongi. Seriously, I’m so proud and I know that the crew are gonna be so proud of you too. The, um, the reason that I was calling you was because we’re having an intermission for food right now. Pizza Etang, of course, my favourite. It made me wonder if you’ve had any food yet, so…have you eaten, baby?”

 

[Jimin lowers his hand and he lifts his head to glance up at the two other men. They can clearly hear him underneath their own quiet conversation and the rustling plastic bags, but he does not seem to mind that much. If he had wanted the phone call to remain private, he could have excused himself out into the lobby before calling Yoongi, after all.]

 

“No? Why not? Because it’s late? I know it’s late, Yoongi, but you didn’t eat earlier, and I don’t think that you even had breakfast, so- takeaway? Sure, order takeaway, if you’re too tired to cook. Naengmyeon…again?”

 

[Even though Jimin is still turned away from camera A, his brief smile is just about detectable as he reaches up to gently smooth his fingers across his chin.]

 

“Baby, I think that that’s the third time this week that you’ve ordered naengmyeon, and guess what? It’s only Monday.”

 

[Jimin pauses after making this joke, the softest hint of Yoongi laughing coming from his phone speaker. Taehyung quickly walks behind the sofa so that he can lean over and grab the glasses off the table in front of Jimin, carrying them back over to the small hotel kitchen-area to fill up with more drinks.]

 

“Hmm…OK. OK, OK, you order some naengmyeon and try and get some sleep whilst I work hard on this interview. Give Kkul some kisses from me, but only if she’s being a good girl and not scratching the shit out of the pillows for fun. I’ll be back before you know it. Bye bye, baby…I love you.”

 

[Jimin says this in the most softest whisper, even when his microphone picks it up and means that the two other men would have heard him. Then he pulls his phone away to end the call with a sigh, shoving the device into his pocket again.]

 

“Goddamn, that pizza smells good. I can’t wait to shove it into my mouth, man.”

 

[Taehyung shifts to carry several glasses over to the table and he is on clear display on the feed from camera A. The glasses are filled with Coca Cola, judging from the bottle nestled in the crook of his elbow. He places them and the bottle down, along with a massive mound of napkins, and then he moves to go back to the kitchen-area.]

 

“Which one is this box, Taehyung?”

 

“That’s…hot chicken and pastrami, so, it’s Park’s order.”

 

[Taehyung crosses the room to quickly place the Pizza Etang box down on the table, and he holds out a pair of wrapped disposable chopsticks and a plastic fork to him, which Jimin accepts with thanks. Before the other man can move to retrieve the other order, Hoseok moves to join them. He appears briefly on the feed as he bends forward to place the other large heat box down on the table, showcasing his upper body and his jet-black hair, but then he moves to sit back down in his seat.]

 

“Uh…chair, chair, gotta grab a chair and-”

 

“Oh, you can fit on the sofa, Taehyung.”

 

“Are you sure? I mean, there’s stools in the kitchen, so, I could-”

 

“It’s OK, you can fit. See?”

 

[Jimin shifts from the middle to get to the end of the sofa cushion, still visible on camera A but now sitting to the very far left. There is considerable free space on the item of furniture. Taehyung moves to sit down beside him, so he is also on display on the camera feed. He is clearly taller than Jimin for he is almost a head higher him even when they are both slouched comfortably on the sofa, and his frame is considerably wider too. But they can both fit on the sofa easily, and there is no air of awkwardness or discomfort coming from either of them.]

 

“Only we could be sitting in the Grand Hyatt Hotel and eating Pizza Etang instead of lobster huh, Hoseok?”

 

[Taehyung jokes as he tears the chopstick packet open and then pulls them free, snapping them and rubbing them together briskly. It makes Hoseok laugh as he shifts to retrieve his own cutlery and a bunch of napkins, his body blocking the feed for several seconds until he sits down again. In that time, Jimin has already started eating some of his own order, and he is in the act of dipping a chicken tender into a serving of tangy sauce; some of the sauce already smeared on his mouth.]

 

“Have you ever tried lobster before, Taehyung?”

 

“Me? Pft, do you think I could afford that shit? Do I look like a fucking rapper?”

 

[This remark makes Jimin burst out laughing around his mouthful of spicy chicken, and he reaches up with his free hand to both cover his mouth, and to wipe the sauce free with his fingers. Taehyung smirks at his own joke as he makes a move straight for one of the pizza slices, lifting it free from the box and holding his hand underneath it to make sure that none of the toppings drop down onto the table.]

 

“What about you, Jimin? Have you tried lobster?”

 

“Me? Um, once or twice, yeah.”

 

[Jimin admits, as he hastily wipes at his hands and lips with a napkin and then drops it onto the table. He shifts to grab his own slice of pizza, which is laden with chicken and pastrami chunks. After taking a huge bite and quickly chewing it, he cheeks it so that he can carry on speaking.]

 

“It’s nice, but Yoongi isn’t that fond of it, or squid either. I think that he finds them a little weird, you know, because they’re slimy? Either way, he’s not exactly the kind to eat lobster and sip at champagne. More like…a glass of red wine and rare steak is his idea of a extravagant meal.”

 

[For a moment, the hotel room falls silent as they all chew mouthfuls of pizza and side orders, and Jimin glances between the two other men as he devours the first slice. He is in the act of lifting his glass of coke to his lips when Taehyung breaks the temporary silence.]

 

“OK, so, we know D-boy’s favourite pizza. So, what’s his favourite side order, Park?”

 

“Hmm, he likes the cheese tteokbokki a lot. He loves the potato wedges, onion rings and gherkins too; he likes dipping them in everything. He’s not a big fan of the chicken tenders, he says that they’re too spicy to him.”

 

“They are pretty spicy-”

 

“Hoseok, everything’s spicy to you, man.”

 

[Jimin smirks at this over the rim of his glass before swallowing several small sips and placing it back down on the table.]

 

“Um, he pretty much likes all of the side orders, but he told me that he likes my spaghetti more than the stuff that they sell here.”

 

[Jimin finishes with his explanation by grabbing one of the gherkins from the box and dipping it in a creamy sauce, tossing it into his mouth as he looks between them both.]

 

“Oh really? Then you must be a really good cook, Jimin, because I just tried a mouthful of the spaghetti and it’s really good.”

 

“Ah, thank you.”

 

“I actually can’t believe that takeaway spaghetti can be this tasty.”

 

“Hoseok, only you could rave about the spaghetti side order instead of the goddamn pizza…”

 

“Of course I’m raving about the spaghetti, Taehyung. It’s a pizza place, they’re going to make good pizza, that’s pretty much self-explanatory. It’s the fact that the other orders are also very tasty that surprises me!”

 

[Jimin cannot help but snort laughter at this as he slathers more gherkin slices in sauce.]

 

“You two are just so funny together. It’s, like, so unprofessional but at the same time, I really like watching you two bickering about pizza and stuff. It makes me feel so much…safer in this kinda environment, you know? Because this interview could’ve felt kinda hostile, but it doesn’t. So, um, thank you for making me feel at ease.”

 

“You’re more than welcome, Park. Just, uh, just don’t mention the bickering and unprofessional behaviour to our superiors, yeah?”

 

“Ha, don’t worry. I’ll keep that secret.”

 

“Besides, fish on pizza is just…I’m not sure how I feel about that, Taehyung.”

 

“You haven’t even tried it yet, don’t diss the pizza, man!”

 

[The amused look on Jimin’s face shows that he cannot believe that the two other men are bickering again already. Yet it is clear from Taehyung’s expression that they are just joking around. The younger man shifts to grab a couple of the potato wedges, dumping them on a napkin so that he can dip them in sauce, and he looks between them both quickly. His gaze lingers on Hoseok for noticeably longer, however. Jimin looks to be completely unaware of their locked gaze, for he is too busy stabbing at chunks of tteokbokki between more bites of chicken tender.]

 

“So, Jimin, there’s one thing that I can’t help but ask whilst we’re eating right now. It’s not going to be included in the interview, it’s more just…personal curiosity making me ask this.”

 

[Jimin raises his eyebrows at this because his mouth is full of food, silently telling Hoseok to continue as he chews a chunk of cheese tteokbokki.]

 

“You said that Yoongi promised to take you out for a meal one night, if you charted well with your first single. Did you actually get to go to a restaurant like that with him? Professional or otherwise?”

 

“Did we ever go on a romantic date to a restaurant, is what you’re discreetly trying to ask?”

 

[Jimin asks after cheeking his mouthful of food, his gaze focused on Hoseok. It appears that he easily figured out that the question was most certainly not about a ‘professional’ dinner between the two of them, or even with company executives present. Hoseok holds his tongue rather than reply. Five seconds pass before he places the plastic fork down and reaches up to roughly wipe at his mouth.]

 

“Um, yeah, once or twice we went out to restaurants. We preferred going to cafés, because Yoongi could work on lyrics in his notebook or his compositions on his tablet whilst we were there, which you can’t do in high-class restaurants. But, um, it’s hard going to places like that together outside of Jongno-gu without people asking questions and giving you looks. You know?”

 

“Yes, I can imagine that it was hard for you two to go out together outside of Jongno-gu, especially after you both started gaining attention and ended up on television and magazine covers.”

 

“Have you, um, have you ever went out on dates like…that?”

 

[Jimin drops his gaze to stare at his heat box at this, finding the pizza and random mixture of side orders much more fascinating to look at. It is clear from his question that he is alluding to the other man’s sexuality in a rather discreet way, as if he is uncertain as to whether he should broach this subject with him right now.]

 

“Oh, the only restaurants that I’ve ever been to have been with my parents or sisters, as treats for birthdays and special occasions. I’ve never went to one on a date, in fact, I’ve never been on a date, Jimin.”

 

“Seriously?”

 

[Jimin looks up sharply at this, his expression one of complete shock that completely juxtaposes against Taehyung’s collected expression as he chews a bite of his second pizza slice. It takes Jimin a moment to find the right words, and then he manages to speak again.]

 

“How come?

 

“Ah, I’m far too busy working now to really entertain the notion, and as you can imagine, high school was a difficult period for me to navigate. I had so many female friends that used to want to go on dates with me, and we got to calling the trips to the usual spots: arcades, the cinema, fast food chains and concerts - we got to calling those ‘dates’, but they really weren’t. I guess that I’m too…detached from that kind of lifestyle now to really want to ‘date’, Jimin.”

 

“But you’re handsome, Hoseok. You’re handsome and polite, and charismatic too. Why not? Is it because, um, because guys don’t ask you out first or something? Because I get that, I do, it’s…you know, relatable. Or is it something else?”

 

“It’s complicated, Jimin. I think that we should discuss this later, should the…topic arise.”

 

[Jimin falls silent for roughly ten seconds as the two other men continue eating. It is obvious on his face that he is thinking this rather vague remark over intently, and he fiddles with his fork as he stares down at the box of takeaway food. But then he glances up to meet Hoseok’s gaze and he shoots him a quick smile.]

 

“OK, sure thing.”

 

[For the next fifteen minutes, there is little conversation save for a mumble here and there, because they are all so busy trying to finish their impromptu and late-night meal. It turns out that Hoseok actually rather likes the pizza, even when there is fish fillet and egg shrimp on it, and he also likes the chicken and pastrami pizza too - for Jimin offers him a slice in exchange for another chicken tender. Though Taehyung has free reign to talk without worrying about disturbing the interview, he is remarkably quiet as he eats. However, he is the one to finally break the heavy blanket of silence as the meal is wrapping up.]

 

“Hoseok, you got any more suggestions for the cut? Like with the Twitter photos? You want me to do any other editing? Speak up now, or write it down for me in the form of prompts, yeah?”

 

“Hmm, I don’t think that there’s much to insert…other than some random clips. I mean, it would be good to insert a small snippet of Andre’s music videos when we start talking about him during the interview, perhaps, or even just play ‘I like ya’ softly in the background as we discuss him. I think that we should most certainly insert a section of D-boy’s rap battle in the final cut, but be sure to censor the inappropriate language, of course.”

 

[Jimin snorts at this as he wipes at his hands with a napkin, and then he sticks his tongue out to clean a small blob of sauce free from the corner of his mouth.]

 

“Alright, be sure to make prompts for me anyway, but I’ll look into that. I’ll need copyright permission to insert music, videos or professional shots, so, I’ll be sure to start chasing after those leads as soon as the interview finishes.”

 

“Thank you, that would be so helpful because I’m going to need to start the transcript for the magazine interview.”

 

“No problem. Oh god, I’m stuffed!”

 

[Taehyung lets out a series of satisfied grunts as he gets to his feet and stretches, his white tee-shirt lifting to show a flash of his tanned stomach before he drops his hands and tugs it back down in place. Beside him, Jimin is in the act of using his phone camera to clean at his mouth with a napkin, and then he retrieves a small tin of something that looks like lip balm.]

 

“Shit, there’s still some pizza and side orders left. What should we do with it? Trash it?”

 

“Um, we should probably just leave them for later, Taehyung. We might wanna snack on them.”

 

[Jimin suggests, as he removes the lid from the tin and gets a small blob of lip balm onto his middle fingertip. Then he proceeds to apply it, opening his mouth and running his fingertips over his lips before he presses them together. He makes a soft sound as he pouts his lips out again, checking that they are fully coated. They are glossy and pinker than they were a moment ago, and he appears to snap a selfie of himself before he shoves his phone into his sweatshirt pocket and then quickly cleans his fingers free from lip balm.]

 

“Taehyung, can you move the boxes over to the kitchen counter? Just to keep them out of the frame. Otherwise, we’ll have to pixelate the company logos to stop Woo from complaining.”

 

“Uhuh, will do.”

 

[Taehyung moves to stack the two cardboard boxes on top of each other so that he can carry them over to the kitchen-area. He then retrieves the bottle of Coca Cola too, just to ensure that there is nothing left on display with obvious brand logos on it. Jimin watches him doing so intently, until his phone presumably vibrates in his pocket. He pulls it free to check the screen, his lips curling up at the corners in a smile that just screams that he must be looking at a message from Yoongi.]

 

“I’m feeling pretty full too, I must say.”

 

[Hoseok says as he shifts in his seat off-camera, the leather creaking as he either moves to get more comfortable, or he stretches like his assistant-cum-partner.]

 

“Wait.”

 

[Taehyung shifts to grab a napkin from the table, and though he is mostly off-camera, a hint of his body is still caught on the edge of the frame. He looks to bend forward slightly, his arm moving as he seemingly wipes at Hoseok’s mouth for him.]

 

“Hmm? Oh, did I have sauce on my chin? Seriously?”

 

“Yeah, you did, and you got some on your shirt too. God, talk about a messy eater.”

 

“How did that get there? Great, I’ll have to make sure to soak this and get the stain out.”

 

[Taehyung dumps the scrunched-up napkin on the table at this, flashing a quick hint of his face to camera A. He is smiling to himself as he moves in front of the camera to get back to his table set-up and resume the interview monitoring. The sound of him fixing his headphones in place as he drops into his chair makes Jimin glance up sharply.]

 

“Oh, are we ready to continue?”

 

“We’re ready to resume whenever you’re ready, Jimin. Just tell us when.”

 

“OK.”

 

[Jimin hastily types something on his phone, his thumbs dancing across the screen rapidly. Then he locks the device and he shoves it back into his sweatshirt pocket. Just like earlier, he shifts to get back into the middle of the sofa, checking with Taehyung that he is in the best position for camera C. He rakes his hair back off his brow once more, even when it will fall forward again in a short while, just like always.]

 

“We can continue now, Hoseok.”

 

“OK, I think that it’s the best time to do a quick review, Jimin, so…”

 

[There is a series of rustling sounds as Hoseok flicks through his stack of papers.]

 

“Over the period that you were recording your first single, ‘shooting star’, you basically spent a great deal of time living in D-boy’s apartment. You have yet to mention a day or night that you two were separated for more than business-related matters, such as your first photo shoot for your promotions, or his meetings with his superiors to review his contracts and projects. Yes?”

 

“Uhuh, like I said, D-boy’s apartment had his little studio set-up. I really benefited from using it during my singing lessons outside of the ones that I had in the M&M building. We often travelled into Gangnam-gu together for work during the daytime, and at nighttime we were either going to hip hop clubs so that D-boy could perform, or playing around in his studio. Therefore, I did pretty much live with him for the sake of convenience.”

 

“Would you say that convenience was the only reason, Jimin?”

 

“…No, not the only reason. There were other reasons too. Like I said, D-boy used to cook food for me, used to help me brush up on my keyboard skills and taught me how to use a controller, and, um, we were starting to move forward a little bit by that point. You know, from casual friends with shared interests, to friends that shared beds and…and really wanted to just say something, but I couldn’t seem to find the right way or-or time to do so. I, um, I guess that a lot of your readers know how that feels, and a lot of men and women have obviously experienced that kinda friendship too.”

 

“From what you’ve said so far, Jimin, I can easily picture this bumbling and timid relationship unfolding right in front of me. May I call it that, a relationship, or would you prefer that I not do so at this current moment in the interview?”

 

“I don’t mind, you can call it that.”

 

“Are you comfortable with talking about this? If you want, we can dial it back a little until you feel ready. I don’t want you to feel like I’m pressuring you into agreeing with or admitting to things, because I pushed the subject onto you, Jimin.”

 

[Jimin thinks this over for five seconds whilst he plays with his sweatshirt cuffs, tugging at them almost restlessly. His eyes flicker between Hoseok and Taehyung before dropping to look at camera A.]

 

“Can we dial it back just a little? I mean, can I not talk about, um, about me being…you know, just yet?”

 

[Jimin sticks his tongue out to wet his lips and then he hastily adds.]

 

“I mean, we can talk about the, um, the relationship. I just don’t wanna drop that just…just yet.”

 

“Take your time, Jimin. You don’t have to say anything that you don’t want to say, and if you need time, then take as long as you need. I’ll be sure to be careful with my choice of words for you. Maybe it would be for the best that I use the word ‘feelings’ to describe it all, instead of ‘relationship’? Just until you’re ready to…drop it.”

 

“Shit, my heart’s pounding just thinking about it, Hoseok.”

 

[Jimin lets out a laugh as he reaches up to touch his chest, his breath escaping him in a hard huff. He closes his eyes and he takes several deep breaths, trying his very hardest to calm his racing heartbeat down.]

 

“Are you OK, Jimin?”

 

“Yeah, I’m OK. Sorry, I just needed a moment.”

 

“No need to apologise. OK, so to revise that statement; from what you’ve said so far, Jimin, I get this sense of rather bumbling and timid feelings developing between the two of you. It seems clear to me that you both had these developing feelings, but you were frightened of either admitting them to each other, or to yourselves. It’s almost painful listening to your account and just thinking of all of those budding moments of intimacy that were cut short. The night that you were both sharing the sofa in the studio, recording your first single - Jimin, it’s such a bittersweet moment to me.”

 

[Jimin hums in agreement, his gaze on his hands just like always.]

 

“It’s clear from the get-go that D-boy wanted to spend a great deal of time in your company, but it seems that you were the one that initiated most of the physical contact, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm, I had to, otherwise he never would’ve done so. D-boy would still be sneaking into bed with me when he thought that I was asleep, and pulling that cute shit like wiping at my mouth for me after eating, and making really bad jokes to try and make me laugh.”

 

[Jimin smiles at this as he shifts on the sofa, still keeping his gaze down rather than look up at the other man.]

 

“So, the feelings were most certainly mutual, Jimin.”

 

“Uhuh, they were mutual.”

 

“OK, so, the single…”

 

[Rustling sounds come from the left of camera A as Hoseok flicks through several pieces of paper, and Jimin glances up at last because it is time to resume the interview.]

 

“It was early May when the single was released on the digital charts, May 12th, and there was just the single track on it - ‘shooting star’. It was your first solo single as a signed artist, and it wasn’t much longer after that you started working on your second single, correct?”

 

“Um, yes. It was right around that time that D-boy told me that he had been contracted to work on my second single. He got to compose it, write the lyrics, and mix and produce it, and to this day, I still don’t know how he managed to wrangle the contract from M&M.”

 

[Jimin laughs at this as he wriggles on the sofa, and he looks a lot more comfortable than earlier.]

 

“Anyway, he definitely started working on it the exact same week that ‘shooting star’ was released, because he had a month to prepare the two tracks for my second single and present the demo to M&M. I had been so excited then to get two tracks, and I was even more excited when I found out that D-boy would be there for the entire process. The feature on my supporting song was even more exciting, as you can imagine.”

 

“I can imagine, Jimin. You made another friend and musical connections through the single, I assume?”

 

“Ha, you know it, and the second single was also a physical album too! That was even more exciting, because it meant that I was able to hold my single in my hands just like Andre’s releases. I had the photos, the lyrics - everything, and it just felt amazing to have a physical copy of my own single on a shelf. Well, D-boy’s shelf, along with all of the other amazing singles and albums he had produced.”

 

“Speaking of Andre, ‘love music part III’ dropped less than a week after your first single; didn’t it, Jimin? You were very very busy that month.”

 

“Like you said, it was May 12th when ‘shooting star’ was officially released on all music charts for purchase and streaming, and May 17th was the date that Andre’s launch party was scheduled. The single was gonna drop on the 18th at midnight and we were both just so caught up in that tangle of emotions and excitement all week long that it took forever for me to really understand and accept what was happening…”

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin could hear the usual mixture of noise coming from the computer in the bedroom as Yoongi composed on his controller: from the soft sound of his fingers smacking against the padded buttons, to the thumping of drums and crashing cymbals that each press elicited, along with his quiet mumbles as he worked. He had been working for what must have been three hours now, even when this was the time that he usually napped away the afternoon hours on the sofa, and by the sound of it, he wasn’t planning on stopping just yet.

 

For the past few days now, Yoongi had been working away on his controller more often than not instead of musing over his lyrics. It was probably because of a project that he was contracted to complete, but Jimin had a feeling that it was in fact something else.

 

Yoongi’s projects were either ballads or smooth r&b tracks, but the beats that he had heard coming from the bedroom were most certainly hip hop. They weren’t as aggressive as usual, with less powerful bass in favour of a much more melodic rhythm that Jimin liked a lot.

 

Whatever it was that Yoongi was playing around on, it sounded old skool and pretty funky, and Jimin couldn’t wait to listen to him messing around on the keyboard as soon as he had gotten the drums down. He could already imagine what setting he was going to put on the keyboard, just to match the funky sound that he was going for, but Yoongi had been playing around on the drumbeat for quite some time now, and it might take him a little longer to get to that next layer.

 

Even though he must have checked a million times already, Jimin found himself opening Naver so that he could load Melon again and check the charts. He knew that it was silly doing so, yet he couldn’t resist the urge to check because he just needed to know if it was still there right now. He stuck his tongue out to wet his lips as he waited for the music chart to load on his screen.

 

In exactly one minute, his single would have been in the top five for a whole twenty-four hours, after having spent three days in the top twenty, and two in the top ten, and that was something that he was still struggling to believe right now.

 

Jimin knew that his single was on several music charts, because he had received a lot of messages about it from people; from Hyuk to his parents, to plenty of fan replies on his tweets since the single had officially dropped. But knowing that he was charting, and accepting the fact that was charting, were two completely different things. He doubted that he would really accept it until he stepped foot back inside of the M&M building to review his next contracted single, and when the first paycheck ended up in his hands.

 

Of course, said paycheck would go straight into his savings account just like Yoongi had taught him, just in case he needed to start paying M&M back for his developmental deal; should another company not snap him up before he was offered his exclusive contract, that was.

 

“Please still be there, please still be there, please…” Jimin muttered under his breath in a mantra, tensing up in anticipation as he waited for the charts to load on his phone screen.

 

Just like he had expected, he saw that his song was still in Melon’s chart, and beside the song, there was a green arrow to show that it had moved up from the fourth position back up to the hotly contested third spot again.

 

“Oh my god,” he breathed out, his lips curling up into an excited smile as he sat upright on the sofa, swinging his legs over so that he could place his feet down on the floor. “Back in the top three, oh my god!”

 

Jimin placed his phone down on the table so that he could get off the sofa and race across the apartment room, one of Yoongi’s massive tee-shirts almost billowing around his bare thighs as he moved. He hovered in the bedroom doorway for a moment to study his friend, lest he accidentally disturb him by barging right into the other room.

 

Yoongi was sitting at his desk just like always, his legs crossed up on the seat and his back slouched comfortably as he hit the buttons on the controller. He was wearing a grey sweatshirt and a pair of matching jersey shorts, his bare legs on display because the apartment room was pretty hot today. Sitting right in front of the computer meant that he was going to be even hotter, because of the heat billowing out of the ventilation system. His black hair was free around his face for once, a messy tangle of locks falling over his brow, and there was a cigarette sitting behind his ear just like always. He had yet to leave the apartment to smoke it, even though he was no doubt craving a cigarette right about now.

 

The bedroom window had been cracked open to let a breeze bleed into the place, and there was a fan turned on across the room, but it was creating nothing more than a waft of cool air. It seemed that the summer might just be a sweltering one, if the current weather was anything to go by.

 

Yoongi glanced over at him before turning back to the computer monitor, so focused on the programme in front of him that he did little more than give him a quick smile.

 

“Hey, Jimin. You doing OK?”

 

“Hey, I’m doing great. I thought that you would be napping by now, Yoongi,” Jimin joked with his own fond smile.

 

“Uh, maybe later?” Yoongi mumbled, as he rubbed at his nose roughly. “I dunno, I ain’t sleepy.”

 

Jimin crossed the bedroom to get behind his chair, and he slipped his arms around his neck loosely. It was a semi-embrace of a kind, one that Yoongi had shown himself to be comfortable with over the last couple of days (though he much preferred it if he was the one slipping his arms around his neck).

 

“Guess what?” Jimin asked, as he dropped his head on top of his.

 

Yoongi’s black hair was soft and fragrant against his chin, gentle wafts of his coconut shampoo filling his lungs as he stared at the computer monitor in front of the other man. Cubase was open, just like always, a composition loaded that had multiple layers of his hip hop track demo on display - spiking coloured lines present on the equaliser.

 

“Mmm?” Yoongi hummed, letting go of the mouse so that he could lightly clasp hold of his wrist and rub his thumb over the rounded knob of bone.

 

“It’s still in the top five on Melon right now,” Jimin replied with a smug smile. “I mean, it’s probably gonna drop out of the top ten in a day, because that new girl group’s releasing their mini album and they’re gonna take over the charts. I’m assuming that, of course, because they’re getting a lot of hype online, but…staying in the top five for a whole day? That’s amazing, Yoongi. Right?”

 

“Oh yeah? See, I was checking a couple of things before,” his friend said, as he grabbed the mouse with his left hand, wriggling it around and hitting it several times. “And look at this…”

 

Yoongi quickly opened a file, which turned out to be a screenshot of a music website. He hit the keyboard several times, flicking through multiple screenshots to show Jimin all of the different charts. There was a rather obvious green symbol next to his song title to show that it had moved up the charts again, all of the different charts, that was.

 

Melon, Mnet, Bugs, Genie, Soribada, Olleh - I checked ‘em all and you’re in every single chart, Jimin. I streamed on my browser and the apps,” Yoongi explained rapidly. “No matter what, you only get one count a day for each one, along with Twitter mentions, so, I’ve been getting it on every single one just for you; yeah?”

 

Jimin didn’t reply to this, but rather moved to hit the arrow key on the keyboard to go back several screenshots to check that he had seen things correctly. He got to the Mnet screenshot and he stared at it dumbly, seeing that there was a green arrow beside his song and that it was sitting right on the top of the chart in the coveted number one position.

 

“Yoongi, wait…I was number one on Mnet?” he asked in wonder, as he slipped his arm back around his neck again. “I mean, I know that I was number one on Melon for like an hour or so this morning, but Mnet too?”

 

“Uhuh, Jimin, you were number one on both of the charts. Y’know what this means, right?” Yoongi said, as he slowly twisted around in his seat and looked up at him, forcing him to move to hold his gaze.

 

Jimin made a soft noise at this question, shaking his head to let him know that he didn’t have a clue. He felt his earrings bouncing from the movement, the star charms lightly hitting against his neck.

 

“I owe you that dinner,” Yoongi finished with a wide grin.

 

Jimin stared at him blankly for a moment as he slowly processed his words. It hadn’t even crossed his mind this morning, when he had seen his song charting at number one on the Melon chart. But now that Yoongi had mentioned the promised dinner, he couldn’t believe that he had almost forgotten about it. It was enough to make him burst out laughing, which in turn made his friend guffaw dopily.

 

“It was only number one for, like, a couple of hours, Yoongi!” he exclaimed through his laughter. “Are you being serious right now?!”

 

“Uhuh, completely serious,” Yoongi said with a series of vigorous nods. “I said if you made it to number one, I’d buy you dinner at a restaurant. I didn’t say that you had to stay at that position for a whole day, just that you needed to reach it; and you reached it on two charts, Jimin. That’s fucking amazing.”

 

“I know, I know it’s amazing,” he agreed, his laughter dying down to soft giggles. “That’s what I was gonna brag about to you, but I almost forgot about the dinner! I mean, where are we even going to go now? It’s too late for reservations, and I doubt that many places in Jongno-gu will be easy to get into with the tourists, Yoongi, so, I don’t think that-”

 

“I already reserved a place this morning,” Yoongi interjected, his sudden interruption catching him by complete surprise.

 

“…Huh?”

 

For a few seconds, the apartment room fell silent, and Yoongi slowly spun his chair around so that he could look at him properly.

 

Jimin knew that he should say something to him, but he was too surprised to possibly do so.

 

“I reserved a place this morning, when I saw that you were number one on the charts,” Yoongi explained, his fingers playing with the cuffs of his sweatshirt. The action drew attention to his bare legs, and Jimin couldn’t help but notice that there was still a rather grazed patch on his knee and a mottled bruise on his shin from his last accidental collapse. “I knew that it’d be hell reserving one later in the day, so, I kinda reserved a table at like 8am, Jimin.”

 

“Yoongi…” Jimin finally managed to breathe out, lifting his hand to place it on his shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. This sudden contact made his friend let out a rather embarrassed laugh and shift in his computer chair. “That’s so sweet of you. To do all of that, just for me.”

 

“It was a promise, I ain’t gonna break my promise,” Yoongi mumbled, his cheeks turning a rather wonderful shade of pink. “You, uh, you did me real proud by getting number one on two charts like that, Jimin, so, it’s the least I could do.”

 

“You’re proud of me?” Jimin asked, moving his fingers along to cup his chin and tilt his head back ever so slightly.

 

Yoongi made a soft sound at this that sounded like a hum of agreement, his throat working as he seemingly gulped.

 

“I worked hard on that single, right?”

 

“You did,” his friend agreed, as he reached up to take hold of his wrist and he gently pulled his hand away. He didn’t let go, however, for he just held onto his hand instead. “You’re charting so good right now, Jimin, that it’s fucking amazing. M&M are gonna be creaming over this deal already, and you’re only gonna start charting better when you build a dedicated fanbase.”

 

This made Jimin laugh under his breath too, feeling a rather sudden wash of shyness coming over him at Yoongi’s praises. As if the fact he had managed to get number one on one chart today hadn’t been great enough, now he was finding out that he had actually reached the coveted position on two charts, and he was going out to dinner with Yoongi to celebrate.

 

“But we gotta hurry up and get ready, Jimin,” Yoongi said, as he glanced at his Rolex. “‘Cos the reservation’s at 7:30.”

 

“Really? What time’s it right now, Yoongi?”

 

“Uh…7:05?”

 

“7:05? Shit, Yoongi, how long were you gonna carry on playing with your track for?!” Jimin exclaimed, as he darted across the bedroom to get to the wardrobe and he started rifling through it in the hopes of finding some clothing to wear.

 

“I was gonna tell you, but you raced in here so that I didn’t have to,” Yoongi argued, as he climbed out of his computer chair. He winced because his stiff limbs no doubt flooded with tingling pins and needles. “I was, uh, I was tryna think of a way to tell you about the dinner but…I couldn’t find the right words, y’know?”

 

“How come?” Jimin asked, as he wrenched the tee-shirt off and he tossed it onto the bed, so that he could slip a black button-down shirt free from the wardrobe and eye it. It was still slightly wrinkled from his holdall bag, but it would do for tonight.

 

“Well, y’know,” he mumbled, leaning against the slide glass wardrobe door so that he could carry on playing with his sweatshirt cuffs; his eyes darting across the bedroom rapidly. “Ain’t many different ways to say “Jimin, d’you wanna go out to dinner with me?” - trust me, I tried to think of a different way and I couldn’t.”

 

“Then…why didn’t you just ask that, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, pausing in the act of slipping into his shirt and studying his friend.

 

Yoongi didn’t reply to this question right away, rather he just seemed to contemplate on his words as he stole quick glances at him. The tip of his tongue slipped free to wet his lips, curling up against his upper lip for a few seconds before he pulled it back in again.

 

“…Jimin, d’you wanna go out to dinner with me?” Yoongi asked in a soft voice, trying so very hard to hold his gaze even when it was clear that he was nervous.

 

“I’d love to, Yoongi,” Jimin said with a pleased smile, tugging his shirt on and hastily fastening the buttons.

 

Yoongi didn’t even bother with trying to look fancy, because there wasn’t a single piece of clothing in his wardrobe that could pass for formal. Because his jeans were all currently waiting to get shoved into the basement laundromat, he had to slip into a pair of light grey sweatpants instead, along with his usual oversized tee-shirt of choice - this one a black Stüssy with the logo on the breast. He only grabbed a jacket because he needed one for the pockets, because his sweatpants had none. It was far too warm for wearing his usual triple layer of tee-shirt, hoodie and jacket, but he still pulled the jacket on rather than carry it.

 

Jimin went into the bathroom to quickly check his reflection in the mirror, before deciding that he didn’t need any makeup for the evening. As soon as he had finished fixing his earrings in place and had ensured that he had his wallet and phone shoved into his fitted black trouser pockets, they left the apartment together and hit the streets.

 

Yoongi guided him in the direction of the subway, for they seemed to be jumping a train to cross the district rather than walk; his usual smouldering cigarette trapped between his lips and his fingers cradled within his firm hold.

 

Unlike their usual journey, they weren’t travelling into another district but rather just along the line to get to another section of Jongno-gu. That meant that they only had to stand in the train carriage for a couple of minutes, swaying from the vibrations as they held onto an overhead handle together; Yoongi’s hand wrapped around his to hold on tight in a discreet way that meant that none of the other passengers stared at them.

 

The restaurant that Yoongi ended up taking him too was quite some distance from the subway, but upon stepping inside of it, Jimin thought that it was more than worth the walk. Not only because the scent of various meats and spices wafted to hit them so very enticingly and made his mouth almost start watering in anticipation, but also because of the actual interior of the building.

 

The interior of the restaurant was filled with dark and glossy wood, which clashed against the soft cream walls, and there were potted plants placed here and there to add nice splashes of colour. There were framed paintings hanging on the walls too, which were all soft pastels and looked rather abstract to his eyes. The furniture inside consisted of low tables and black floor cushions, with dangling glowing white lampshades, and it had a slightly traditional aesthetic that Jimin really liked.

 

It looked to be a quiet but pleasant restaurant, which was a lot more preferable to a busy and lively one. Not only because it meant that ordering would be a hell of a lot easier, but because they would be able to blend into the place and not attract too much attention. The tables were a nice distance apart, the other diners were all in the midst of eating or waiting on orders, and there was a nice relaxed feeling in the air. The sound of a radio playing indie songs at a soft volume just added to that sensation, and Jimin found himself smiling as he turned to look at his friend.

 

Considering the fact that they were dining on floor cushions, they had to remove their shoes and place them on the shoe rack that stretched along one of the walls beside the door.

 

Yoongi grunted wearily as he dropped to sit on his behind, tugging at his sneaker laces and then pulling them off. Jimin just stepped out of his leather loafers, placing them on the rack right next to Yoongi’s shoes. Then he held his hand out to him in offering, to pull him back up to his feet again. His friend accepted his hand and let him do so, letting out a soft laugh as he got upright and then roughly patted at his sweatpants to clean them free from any dirt.

 

“Good evening,” a waiter said, moving to draw closer to them with a large book in hand that was no doubt filled with reservations, and quite possibly menus. “Do you have a reservation?”

 

“Uh, yeah, Min Yoongi - I booked a table this morning?” Yoongi said, as he rubbed at his nose and stepped from foot to foot, his socked feet brushing against the flooring.

 

The waiter quickly checked the book to look for the reservation, and then he made a noise under his breath as he located the reservation. Jimin noticed that he had a name tag on the breast of his waistcoat, which let them know that his name was Insoo.

 

“Ah, yes, it’s right here,” he said, as he looked up from the book and then quickly glanced across the restaurant. “If you would just follow me, gentlemen, and I’ll get you seated at a table.”

 

Jimin tried to not snort laughter at the idea of being called gentlemen, considering the fact that they were dressed pretty casually. Yoongi was wearing a pair of goddamn sweatpants right now, but it seemed that the restaurant didn't exactly have a dress code - which was a blessing. If it had, they would have been left with no choice but to leave and try and find some fast-food joint that would serve them food instead.

 

Yoongi took hold of his hand so that they could cross the restaurant after Insoo, doing so out of force of habit, it would seem. Jimin let him entwine their fingers together just like always, his gaze moving around the restaurant as he eyed the different diners and spreads of food on the tables. He saw a great variety of meals, and colourful platters of side dishes that were highly appealing, along with glasses of wine, beer and cocktails. The restaurant was pretty much full up at this hour, packed with men and women of all ages.

 

“Here we are,” Insoo said, gesturing at a table that was right by the window and rather out of the way.

 

It wasn’t hidden in the corner, out of sight, but it was certainly more cosier than the ones that were placed more central to the dining-area. The view outside of the window was that of glowing neon signs that advertised karaoke, massage parlours, love motels and adult stores across the block, which was a rather unusual mixture of commerce.

 

“Here are your menus,” Insoo said, as he slipped two cardboard menus free from the reservation book. “When you’re ready, just signal to one of our waitresses and they’ll collect your order. Thank you for eating at Yeonhoe this evening, gentlemen. If you require any assistance, just let me know. OK?”

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi said, accepting the menus from him with both hands. He watched the waiter crossing the restaurant before turning his attention back to him. “So, uh, what’d you think, huh?”

 

“Hmm, I like this place,” Jimin said, as he settled down on the floor cushion and folded his legs under the table. “It’s attractive, the food looks and smells great, the staff seem pretty friendly; it’s a nice place, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi moved to sit down opposite him, trying his very hardest to not wince as he settled down onto the floor cushion and he folded his stiff legs up. He had to drop the menus onto the table for a moment, however, just so that he could give his lower back a quick kneading rub.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but notice a rather obvious thing as he glanced around the restaurant, and it was the fact that all of the diners were in pairs, rather than groups, and there was something even more striking about this fact.

 

Every single pair were the same sex as each other- women sharing meals with other women, men dining with other men.

 

Jimin had thought that maybe they would have attracted a little attention, entering a restaurant together as a pair rather than in a group, because in a group it would be assumed that they were all friends sharing a meal together. In a pair, people were more likely to stare at them just to make sure that they were friends, that they kept a nice friendly distance whilst in public, but that was most certainly not the case in this restaurant.

 

Were all of these diners just simply friends, or were they maybe…on dates? Were they all friends, or were they stuck in that funny situation that they were currently trapped in - edging that line between close friends and something more than that? Jimin had no clue at all, and he briefly wondered if he would find reviews of this establishment on that magazine website that he had stumbled upon that day in the studio.

 

“…Jimin?”

 

Yoongi’s voice cut through the air so suddenly that it caught him by complete surprise, and so he stopped staring off across the restaurant and he twisted to look back at him.

 

“Hmm?” he hummed, seeing that his friend was holding out a menu for him. “Oh, thank you.”

 

“Lost in your thoughts again, huh?” Yoongi joked, as he accepted the menu from him.

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin agreed with a nod, his fingers brushing against the glossy cardboard.. “Just thinking.”

 

“Wanna share said thoughts?” his friend asked, his own menu open in front of him but his eyes staring at him instead of the orders.

 

“Well, I just thought it was interesting that everyone in this place’s a couple,” Jimin replied, before quickly adding. “I mean, they look like couples, but I might just be assuming. You know?”

 

At this, Yoongi also twisted to run his gaze over the interior of the restaurant, his eyes rounded but his expression not at all surprised.

 

No, Jimin already had a feeling that he was more than aware of this fact, because he had picked this restaurant out of dozens of choices. Sure, he might have hit up Naver this morning to find a place that had good reviews, and had quite simply selected this one from the available options. He might have checked out photographs of the interior and food and had settled on this place because it looked nice, without even checking out anything else.

 

But Jongno-gu was renowned for its gay hotspots, after all, and if this wasn’t one of them, then Jimin would eat the menu. Same-sex diners sharing meals together in a quiet and cosy restaurants, on a street filled with establishments that appealed to gay clientele? It was too much of a coincidence for him, and he wondered if Yoongi had figured out how obvious this all really was.

 

“Uh…yeah, I guess they’re couples,” Yoongi mumbled after a moment of observation.

 

There was something hanging in the air between them at this, something that almost demanded that one of them make a remark about how they were kind of like a couple. It would be met with laughter, of course, and flushed cheeks, but it would also make them spare quick glances at each other when they both thought that they were unaware; playing the remark over and over in their heads.

 

“I think that it’s nice,” Jimin said, as he slipped his phone out of his trouser pocket and he placed it down on the table. “It’s nice to be in a place that feels…safe; don’t you think so, Yoongi?”

 

“Mmm,” Yoongi hummed softly, before quickly adding. “It’s nice not being alone too.”

 

“That too,” Jimin agreed, studying his profile as his friend stared across the restaurant almost wistfully.

 

After a few more seconds, Yoongi turned back to his menu and he opened it up and stared at the contents, and so Jimin copied his actions.

 

“What should we order, hmm?” he asked, as he scanned the dozens of orders without even looking at the prices. He would worry about the prices after he had found several dishes that he liked, and then most likely pick the cheapest one just for the sake of it. “Oh! Spicy chicken!”

 

“That was a quick decision,” Yoongi joked with a snort of laughter.

 

“I haven’t decided yet, but that’s definitely a contender,” Jimin explained, as he carried on scanning the menu. “What about you? What’re you eyeing up, Yoongi?”

 

“Uh, the salmon bulgogi sounds great,” the other man replied in a quiet mumble. “That, and a bowl of manduguk to go with the side dishes.”

 

“Mmm, manduguk,” Jimin almost purred, which made his friend laugh softly. “The beef option would be really good. I think that…I’m gonna have to go with the chicken, Yoongi. I’m craving grilled chicken so bad right now, nothing else on the menu will be able to fight that craving.”

 

“Do they sell wine here?”

 

Jimin closed the menu and turned it over to eye the back, locating the drink options. They obviously did serve alcohol in the restaurant, and it varied from beers and spirits and wine, to teas and soft drinks. So he told his friend that they did so, and Yoongi also turned his menu around to eye the selections.

 

“Uh, chicken and fish…gotta go with a rich white wine, right?” Yoongi remarked, looking up from the menu and clearly asking his advice on the matter.

 

“Um, yeah?” Jimin agreed in a quiet voice, completely clueless about wine and entrusting his friend to select the best option available.

 

Yoongi snorted at this and shook his head as he looked back down at the menu, because he had clearly noticed how clueless he was. Truthfully speaking, Jimin would have settled on beer because that went pretty damn great with spicy chicken, but if Yoongi was going to order wine, then he thought that he should probably have some too.

 

It was a celebration, after all, so that meant that a couple of glasses of wine were perfectly acceptable.

 

“OK, so, I think Chardonnay’s the best option, and we might as well order the bottle, I mean, 27,000 a bottle, versus 5,000 a glass? How much wine do you usually drink, Jimin?”

 

“Um, none?” Jimin retorted bluntly, which made Yoongi laugh as he lowered the menu and he glanced across the restaurant to try and locate a waiter. “I don’t drink wine at the clubs, Yoongi. How much can you handle?”

 

“Well, I can handle three glasses on a good day, but I usually only drink one or two. I think you can easily drink the rest of the bottle,” his friend replied, lifting his hand and waving at a young-looking waitress to catch her attention.

 

“Are you ready to order?” she asked, slipping a notebook free so that she could jot everything down.

 

“Yeah, can we get, uh…”

 

Jimin left Yoongi to order for them, and he turned to glance out of the window instead, cocking one arm on the low table so that he could rest his chin in his palm comfortably.

 

Just like his earlier assumptions, the longer that he looked out at the street, the more that he became aware of the fact that this area had to be a part of the rather small but growing gay circuit in the district. He saw random strangers walking around in same-sex couples holding hands, or even bold enough to slip arms around waists; wearing couple items and taking close selfies together. He noticed an abundance of small but noticeable rainbow stickers stuck on walls and posters tacked to windows and lampposts, and he also saw that most of the people were young and seemingly more comfortable being seen in the area, as opposed to older businessmen and women that might just be married or terrified of being caught and losing their jobs if their superiors got wind of their sexualities.

 

The abundance of young university students created this rather wild and free atmosphere out on the streets that completely clashed with the rest of the capital, save for Itaewon. It was so strange to Jimin, but he liked it, not only because it seemed so happy, but because it made him feel at ease in a way that he had never quite felt in a social environment before.

 

Hip hop clubs were great for getting drunk in and having casual conversations, but Jimin had never really felt like he belonged on the sofas with those rappers. He didn’t want to flaunt to attract the ladies and impress other men, like some ritualistic form of peacocking, and so he had always found himself leaving some distance between him and the other guys. The distance meant that he hadn’t needed to play up an act - to be fake, in other words.

 

But in this restaurant, in this small area of the capital, Jimin didn’t feel like he was playing up an act or being fake. He felt like he could talk and act however he pleased, and that no one was going to stare at his dangling earrings and lip gloss like he had noticed strangers doing in the past; that no one gave a shit about the fact that he and Yoongi were sharing a meal together and that they would go back to the apartment and end up sharing his small mattress and falling asleep in each other’s arms.

 

Jimin felt safe, and he hoped that Yoongi did too. His friend really needed to feel it after that rap battle in Flow, the one that he had pretended hadn’t hurt that bad, even when they both knew just how cutting Big Boi Taekwon’s diss had been.

 

Whilst they waited for their food to be prepared, their waitress brought them the bottle of wine and two glasses, which she set onto the table. She added a splash of wine into each one for them, placing the chilled bottle aside with a stack of napkins and two rolled up bundles of cutlery for them, and then she moved away to resume seeing to other diners.

 

“Jimin?” Yoongi said in a quiet voice, breaking their momentary silence just as he had lifted up his glass to sample the white wine.

 

“Uhuh?”

 

“I, uh, I wasn’t gonna tell you this yet, ‘cos I ain’t even ready to start the project for another day or two, but…I got the contract for your second single.”

 

Jimin paused in the act of taking a sip of Chardonnay, overcome with a sudden wash of surprise at this announcement. The scent that wafted up from the glass was that of figs, and a fruity under note that hinted at it being pineapple.

 

“Oh my god, Yoongi; are you being serious?” he managed to ask, lowering his glass so that he could stare at his friend over the rim. “You got the contract for my single? How?”

 

“Pft,” Yoongi snort, retrieving his own glass and swirling around the Chardonnay as he sniffed at it. “Y’know I ain’t averse to begging, Jimin, if I gotta do it.”

 

“Did you? Beg, I mean?” Jimin asked, taking a quick sip of the wine and letting it settle on his tongue before he swallowed it.

 

“Nah, more like flexin’,” Yoongi replied after his own sip of Chardonnay. “I, uh, I pretty much rolled into Bang’s office with a dossier of my production and mixing credits and said “give it to me”, and he weighed up the pros and cons and gave me the greenlight last night.”

 

“What were the pros and cons?” Jimin asked, swirling the wine around his glass as he studied his friend.

 

“The pros? Uh, near a billion won of net worth under my belt and a constant stream of number one tracks, of which some are Hyuk’s,” Yoongi bragged, as he placed his glass down and he folded his arms on the table. “The cons? Giving me more work to swamp myself in until I’m struggling to meet deadlines in time for projects, and having to lemme in the building again after they just got rid of me.”

 

This made Jimin laugh heartily, and Yoongi flashed him a sweet smile before dropping his head to study his glass of Chardonnay.

 

“Yeah, I flexed for this single, Jimin. So, you gotta work hard on it just like the first track and make my investment worth it, yeah?”

 

“You know that I’ll work hard, Yoongi,” he promised, placing his own glass down and shifting on his floor cushion. “Do you have a title yet, hmm? What’s it gonna be like? The theme, the lyrical content? Come on, give me a tiny hint, Yoongi. You must know that at least, if you wanted the contract that much. Right?”

 

“Like I told you, I ain’t got started on it yet, but I got ideas for it, of course,” Yoongi said with a soft nod. “I think that this second single should, uh, should be about you, Jimin. The real you, y’know? The first track was about reaching for the stars and ‘achieving your dreams’ and all that, but you didn’t really get to sing about you, y’know?”

 

“A honest song,” Jimin suggested in a quiet voice.

 

“Exactly, an honest song.”

 

“Honest like what exactly, Yoongi?”

 

“About hustling,” Yoongi replied without a hint of hesitation. “It should be about how fucking hard you worked to net this deal, and not in a dreamy way. I mean that it should be “payday, paycheck, every day, my way”, yeah?”

 

“Is that a lyric? Because I like it a lot, Yoongi.”

 

“Then I’ll make it a lyric,” his friend promised with a soft smile. “Basically, I think that it should be a track about working hard for satisfaction, both of the cash variety and the emotional. The title track, of course, ‘cos you want that one to be a little bit commercial for the sake of it right now and-”

 

“Did you just say ‘title track’?” Jimin interrupted. “As in there’s more than one track on this single?”

 

“Yeah, two tracks,” his friend replied with a nod. “The second track’s gonna be less commercial, more real and raw, but it’s probably gonna need a feature on it. Don’t worry about that though; I’ll sort that shit out, yeah? You don’t need to hang around clubs looking for features, I’ll make the connections for you, Jimin.”

 

“Wow, Yoongi, I…I don’t even know what to say right now,” Jimin admitted in a quiet voice, his fingers slowly moving across the tabletop to find his friend’s hand.

 

Yoongi let him place his hand on top of his, his fingers skirting over the bumps of his knuckles to brush against the slightly prominent veins that rippled the surface of his thin skin, and his warm palm settled down on his cool skin.

 

“I know what you should say,” Yoongi said with a mischievous twist of the lips. “You should say “Yoongi, you’re a genius! An absolute genius, and I’m gonna add another large coffee onto the tab that I owe you”!”

 

“What I think I should say is…Yoongi, I’m just really fucking glad that I met you,” Jimin said in a soft voice, shifting to lean across the table and get that little bit closer to him. “You’ve done so much for me, and you keep doing so much for me, that I can hardly believe it. I owe you more than several coffees, than a feature on a future track or even a mini album like you jokingly planned that night, and that’s the truth.”

 

“Well, uh, friends don’t really owe friends anything, Jimin,” Yoongi suggested with a soft shrug.

 

“I know, but no friend of mine has ever went this far for me, Yoongi,” Jimin pointed out, as he squeezed hold of his hand. The contact made the other man stick his tongue out to wet his lips. “I guess it’s because of the whole crew thing, right? Because we’re kinda a crew, even when we’re not?”

 

“Yeah, you’re part of my crew now but it ain’t like that at the same time, Jimin, it’s-”

 

Yoongi suddenly moved his hand underneath his, but not to knock it free. He slowly turned his hand over so that their palms were touching instead, so that he could fold his own thumb over the curve of his thumb and gently stroke at his skin. His fingertips brushed right against his inner wrist, and Jimin felt a jolt running straight up his arm that transformed into a funny little shiver and made his breath leave his lips in a soft gasp.

 

Jimin glanced between their hands and his face for several seconds, noting that Yoongi kept his own gaze focused on their hands. It took him a moment to find the right words, so that he could carry on speaking.

 

“Shit, I can’t explain it, Jimin. There’s like, all kindsa thoughts in my head right now, and I can’t find the right one to say to you. I dunno how to say it and-”

 

“You don’t need to say it, Yoongi, because I know what you’re thinking about, and what you’re trying to say,” Jimin said in a reassuring tone, giving his hand another soft squeeze as he did so.

 

“You do?”

 

“Hmm, I do. Just like how you always seem to know what I’m thinking about too.”

 

Yoongi stared at him at this, his eyes rounded and his lips slack, yet he could read his expression clearly for once. What Jimin saw was that he was correct; that his friend was thinking about all of their fleeting moments of intimacy and all of the unspoken thoughts and feelings that had been building up over the near two months that they had been friends.

 

“What…what’re you thinking about right now, Jimin?” he asked in a whisper-soft voice.

 

“You know,” Jimin replied in a whisper, which made Yoongi’s lips curl up ever so slightly at the corners.

 

I’m thinking about how good your hand feels against mine, and how I don’t wanna let go for a little while, he thought but didn’t say.

 

I really wanna kiss you tonight, if you’ll let me, crossed his mind, as he watched his friend licking at his dry lips.

 

It’s getting harder and harder to sleep right when you’re not lying beside me, was the final thought that hit him before Yoongi broke his silence.

 

“…Yeah, I know.”

 

After several minutes of waiting, the waitress headed back in the direction of their table again, with a large tray in hand that seemed to have some food on it. It turned out to be their side dishes, rather than their main orders, for they were still being prepared.

 

The side dishes had been placed inside of a large plate, which had different sections that were filled with the selections: two varieties of kimchi - baek and kkakdugi, boiled chicken eggs sliced into halves, three different kinds of namul - cucumber, beansprout and daikon. The waitress set this plate down in the centre of the table and then she quickly added two bowls of steaming boiled rice from her tray too.

 

“I’ll have the rest of your order ready in just a few minutes, so, until then, please enjoy your side dishes,” she said with a quick and friendly smile.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi said, as he grabbed his wrapped-up cutlery and opened up the napkin to grab his chopsticks.

 

“Thank you,” Jimin added, but the waitress was already quickly moving away to another table and had likely not even heard him.

 

Yoongi grabbed a chunk of baek kimchi first, which he quickly chased with bites of garlic and ginger braised beansprouts and sesame oil fried cucumber. Yet Jimin made no move to sample the food just yet.

 

“Ain’t you gonna try something, Jimin?” Yoongi asked around his mouthful of namul, raising his eyebrows at him curiously.

 

“I’m trying to delay eating until the full order arrives,” he replied, as he grabbed just a single chunk of kkakdugi between his chopsticks. “I really wanna devour that chicken, Yoongi.”

 

“Mmm, I think we’ll devour every single bite, Jimin,” his friend said with a soft smile, a chunk of egg grabbed between his own chopsticks that he then shoved into his mouth.

 

Jimin was in the act of chewing his own bite of kimchi, when his friend placed his chopsticks down on the rest and he shoved his hand inside of his jacket. Just like that afternoon in the recording booth, Yoongi pulled his medication container out of the inner pocket, so that he could pop one of lids up and tip the pill onto his palm. He was due his dosage, and he was going to take it right now in the restaurant without a single care.

 

Jimin watched him tossing it into his mouth and swallowing it dry, before taking a small sip of the champagne. He was more than used to this routine, because Yoongi had been taking his medication in front of him every single day since he had told him that he was on antidepressants. He always took them in the late afternoon with food if he had any on him, because it was the one time of day that Yoongi was guaranteed to be awake for various reasons related to his contracts.

 

Yoongi shoved his pill container into his jacket again, sticking his tongue out to wet his lips. Then he retrieved his chopsticks and he grabbed a chunk of kkakdugi too, not even looking up at him as he resumed snacking on the side orders.

 

Jimin didn’t know why, but seeing him eating so enthusiastically after taking his daily dosage of medication, made him smile fondly as he watched Yoongi chewing several cubes of diced kimchi. He guessed that he was just so relieved to finally have Yoongi out of that goddamn computer seat for the evening - eating hot and nutritious food that hadn’t came out of a tub of instant ramyeon, and breathing fresh air that wasn’t coming from a crack in his apartment room window.

 

Just like she had promised, the waitress made her way back over to their table after just a couple more minutes of waiting, with her large tray in hand and a smile on her face. The first thing that she added to the table were two deep bowls of manduguk, the fragrant beef soup filled with chunks of floating mandu, and then she grabbed one of their orders.

 

“Salmon bulgogi.”

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi said, and so she placed the plate of marinated salmon, bok choy and mushrooms down in front of him. It was sticky with sauce and rich pink in shade, and it looked very tender.

 

“And the spicy chicken,” she said, as she placed his plate down on the table too.

 

“Thank you,” Jimin said, eyeing the vivid red chunks of chicken thighs that had been stacked onto the plate.

 

“Please enjoy your meal.”

 

Jimin retrieved a chunk of mandu from the soup first, stock dripping down into bowl as he blew on the dumpling to get and cool it down. He shoved it into his mouth, chewing the tender chunk and tasting pork and chives, and he chased it with a sip of the creamy beef and egg broth. He knew that he should drink the soup first, as an appetiser, but the chicken was so aromatic that he knew that he was going to cave and end up eating most of that first.

 

Across the table, Yoongi shovelled a spoonful of rice into his mouth, cheeking it so that he could add a chunk of salmon bulgogi and bok choy. Then he chewed the mouthful of food with a series of pleased noises, reaching up to wipe a smear of sauce out of the corner of his mouth.

 

“Tasty,” he mumbled around the food, sucking the sauce off his thumb.

 

“Wait, let me get a photo,” Jimin suggested, as he placed his bowl down to grab his phone and he quickly opened his camera. “A nice one with all of the food in it.”

 

“Sure thing,” Yoongi said, as he chewed the mouthful with his gaze focused entirely on the spread of food.

 

Jimin cocked his elbows on the table and he snapped a photograph of the spread of food, which he was going to post on his Instagram, and maybe Twitter too. After all, Yoongi had told him to promote himself well, and posting about food seemed to be a great way to garner likes on social media these days.

 

Jimin took a quick selfie of himself holding a chunk of mandu up to his mouth, just knowing that he could caption the photograph with a nice message telling his followers to eat well today. As he chewed the mouthful and quickly posted it onto his account, he saw that Yoongi was still happily eating his meal across the table.

 

As soon as he was finished uploading the tweet, he went back to his camera and snapped a photograph of him too. The flash going off caught his friend’s attention, made him glance up from his bowl of rice.

 

“Huh?” Yoongi hummed, his cheek swollen from food as he stared at him with rounded eyes. “D’you just take a shot of me?”

 

“Uhuh,” he replied with a quick smile. “I’m sure that everyone’s gonna love this one and-”

 

“Jimin, don’t post that on Twitter,” Yoongi said in a quiet voice, hovering his chopsticks in front of his lips as he chewed his mouthful of food.

 

“Why not?” Jimin asked curiously, lowering his phone and glancing up him. “It’s a nice photo, Yoongi, you look handsome on it and-”

 

“Nah, it ain’t that,” his friend interjected with a head shake. “I just, uh…y’know, maybe we should keep some things private? We don’t gotta post every single photo of us together on Twitter, yeah?”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, glancing between the phone screen and his friend in turn, and he came to the slow realisation of what Yoongi was telling him.

 

Unlike their photographs of being in hip hop clubs and recording booths together - perfectly normal locations for them to hang out for business reasons, a photograph of them sharing a meal at a restaurant together wasn’t the same. It was the kind of thing that might arouse suspicions…even when there was nothing to really suspect over currently. The last thing that Yoongi needed right now was for try-hard rappers to stumble across photographs of them together on something that might just have been a date, because that would give them even more ammunition to use against his during rap battles and to bitch about online.

 

Yoongi was right, there were certain things that were best kept private, just like his photograph of him enjoying their celebratory meal. His followers could see his selfie and his photograph of the food, but they didn’t really need to see the snapshot of Yoongi too. That one could stay private, could be just for him instead.

 

“OK,” Jimin said with a soft nod. “I’ll keep this one private, because it’s a super special snapshot, right?”

 

“Special?” Yoongi repeated, raising an eyebrow at him. “You, uh, you think it’s special?”

 

Jimin nodded at the question, because he was too busy hitting his phone screen with his thumb so that he could set the photograph as his lockscreen.

 

He placed his phone down as soon as he was done, and he decided to start eating his meal properly now - grabbing a chunk of the chicken with his fingers to take a bite. It was scorching hot on his tongue, the marinade spicy but not too strong, and there was a hint of sweet honey mixed in as he chewed the mouthful.

 

“Mmm, this is really good, Yoongi,” he said around the bite, moving the thigh into one hand so that he could quickly lick the sticky marinade off his fingers and then grab his spoon. “I haven’t had chicken this good in forever!”

 

“Yeah, well, you deserve it, Jimin,” his friend said, as he dropped his spoon and he shoved his hand into his jacket pocket.

 

Yoongi pulled his own phone free and he hit his screen with his thumb, presumably so that he could check his Twitter or his messages.

 

Jimin paid him no heed as he carried on eating, cheeking a mouthful of boiled rice first so that he could tear another large bite of spicy chicken off the bone. He was in the act of taking a deep sip of his wine when he realised that Yoongi had his phone pointed right at him, for he had presumably just taken a photograph of him.

 

“Do I look ugly on it?” he asked, as he placed his empty glass down. “I’ll bet that I do.”

 

“No, and by the way, I’m actually recording you,” Yoongi replied, which made him almost drop the chunk of chicken in his lap in surprise.

 

“Ah! Don’t record me!” Jimin exclaimed, as he reached over and tried to cover the camera lens. He couldn’t help but let out a laugh as he did so. “I probably look like a pig right now and-”

 

“Shut up, Jimin, as if.”

 

“and I didn’t consent to this,” he spoke over him, his fingers obscuring the camera lens and blocking him from recording his face. “Did you stop?”

 

“Yeah, I stopped recording,” Yoongi admitted, and so he moved his hand away from the lens again.

 

“Oh, good, I-”

 

“Ha! Just joking, I’m still recording,” Yoongi argued with a wicked smirk, which made him almost knock his phone out of his hand in his haste to get him to stop.

 

Jimin actually managed to tug the device out of his grip, taking it into his own hands so that he could flip it around and start recording him instead.

 

“Yoongi, say sorry,” he demanded in a faüx grumpy tone, purposefully zooming into his face as far as he could in the hopes of catching him at an unflattering angle. “You big bully, you.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi mumbled, giving him an immature pout as he refused to look into the lens. “Jimin, I’m a big bully.”

 

“That’s right,” Jimin agreed, as he stopped recording on the device and he held it out to him again. “Why were you even recording me in the first place hmm, Yoongi?”

 

“I dunno,” he mumbled with a soft shrug, accepting his phone from him and placing it down on the table. “Why’d you take a photo of me, huh?”

 

Jimin could only softly shrug at this question too, as he retrieved his chopsticks again and he grabbed another chunk of mandu. He didn’t really feel the need to tell him that said photograph was now his lockscreen, but considering the fact that he had caught sight of one of his old selfies as Yoongi’s homescreen a moment ago, he had a feeling that his friend might already have an idea.

 

“Hey.”

 

Jimin looked up from his bowl of soup at this to see that Yoongi had grabbed a sliver of his salmon bulgogi and he was holding it out to him in offering, to let him sample it. So he moved to accept the bite from his chopsticks with his mouth, grabbing it with his teeth and then cheeking it as he sat back down on his floor cushion.

 

“Is it nice, huh?” Yoongi asked with a soft smile, hovering his chopsticks over his bowl.

 

“Hmm, it’s really tender,” Jimin said, wiping at his lips with his napkin and savouring the bite of grilled and marinated fish. “Have you ever ordered that here before?”

 

“Huh? Nah, I ain’t ever been here before, Jimin,” Yoongi explained, as he grabbed a chunk of the bok choy and shoved it into his mouth. “I just ordered this ‘cos it sounded nice, and fish’s good for your brain and shit. You gotta take of your throat, I gotta take care of my brain; yeah? It needs all of the help it can get these days…”

 

This joke made Jimin laugh softly as he turned back to his meal, eyeing the selection of spicy chicken pieces before grabbing one of the legs.

 

“Do you wanna try a bite?” he offered, holding it out to him because he had just let him sample some of his meal.

 

Yoongi leaned forward over the table to try a bite of the chicken after a moment of hesitation. Jimin had expected that he would have reached over to take the chicken leg from him, so that he could hold it in his own fingers whilst eating it, but his friend had decided to accept a bite from his fingers instead. The fact that he was comfortable enough to do so made Jimin smile at him warmly.

 

Yoongi sank his teeth into the chicken leg, tearing free quite a large chunk of meat and cheeking it for a moment so that he could stick his tongue out to try and lick at his sauce-covered lips. He made a noise around the mouthful that sounded like approval, quickly chewing it as he sat back down on his floor cushion. But after a few seconds, he furrowed his brow and opened his mouth wide as he lifted his hand to his face.

 

“Oh man,” Yoongi breathed out, as he fanned at his mouth hastily; his lips slick from the glazing sauce. “That’s spicy, Jimin. Shit.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of his friend wiping at his lips roughly and then grabbing his glass of wine to take a sip to try and cool down his hot tongue. It didn’t seem to help much, however, for he stuck his tongue out and almost panted in a bid to stop the burning.

 

“It’s not that spicy, Yoongi,” Jimin said, as he hovered the chicken leg in front of his lips. “I’ve had way spicier, this is kinda mild but it’s nice.”

 

“Listen, I don’t eat a lot of spicy food,” Yoongi argued, running his tongue around his mouth and cleaning away any lingering hints of the sauce. “I’m the guy that lives on naengmyeon, Jimin. My idea of spicy ain’t your idea of spicy, yeah?”

 

“Hmm, I’m surprised that you didn’t order naengmyeon here too,” Jimin remarked around a mouthful of chicken with a mischievous smile, retrieving his spoon so that he could start eating his rice.

 

“They don’t sell naengmyeon, I, uh, I already checked the menu,” Yoongi mumbled in a quiet voice, as he grabbed his bowl of manduguk, which made him sigh wearily. “But that’s good, ‘cos I ordered something different that’s a lot more filling, yeah?”

 

“I’m just glad to see you eating a nice big meal again, Yoongi,” Jimin confided, watching his friend lifting his bowl up to his lips to take a deep swallow of the broth. “Watching you work so hard and not eating enough, but always making sure that I’ve got food to eat when I get back from working; it makes me wanna learn how to cook all kinds of things. So that I can make you food too, you know? When you’re staying in the apartment and I’m busy doing photo shoots, or whatever, it would be nice to know that you’ve got something to eat whilst you’re sitting in that computer chair of yours.”

 

Yoongi lowered his bowl of soup to study him at this, his tongue slipping free to lick at his wet lips. Then he grabbed a chunk of the mandu to shove it into his mouth before placing the bowl down again.

 

“But it’s hard knowing what to cook for you, Yoongi,” Jimin continued, whilst he watched his friend chewing the bite of food. “I don’t really know what you like eating right now, except for fucking naengmyeon, tteokbokki and potato snacks. Help me out a little, hmm?”

 

“I actually like a lot of things,” Yoongi admitted in a quiet voice, struggling to keep a smile off his face as he ran his gaze over their spread of food. “Y’know something that I really like?”

 

“Hmm?” Jimin hummed, lifting his eyebrows at him to implore him to speak.

 

Spaghetti,” his friend said, slurring the word in a rather cute way that made his lips curl up at the corners fondly. “I really like it, especially when it’s soft instead of firm.”

 

“Really?” Jimin asked, as he placed his elbow on the table and he rested his chin against the palm of his hand; cocking his head to study him intently. “You like spaghetti that much? Guess who actually has a great recipe for cooking the tastiest spaghetti ever, Yoongi?”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Uhuh, that’s actually something that I can cook really good. The secret? I throw a little bit of old kimchi into the sauce, just to give it a hint of spice, and it’s nice and tender and goes good with the pork belly. Then, I add a sprinkle of parmesan and - tadah, you’ve got some amazing spaghetti, right there,” Jimin finished with a grin, and his friend made a series of fascinated noises at this. “Do you like the sound of that, hmm?”

 

“Shit, that sounds tasty, Jimin,” Yoongi remarked in an impressed voice. “So…when’re you gonna cook that for us, huh? ‘Cos I could eat it whenever, wherever. I mean, you could cook it when we get back to the apartment and I’d eat a whole serving on top of this shit, so-”

 

Jimin burst out laughing at this, and even when he could sense that the sudden noise had attracted attention from the other diners in the restaurant. He had been unable to mute the sound, however, for Yoongi had once again showcased his sense of humour, which completely contrasted against his quiet and misleading first impressions. The sound of his giggles made Yoongi guffaw too, reaching up to cover his mouth to try and hide his smile just like always.

 

Oh, how Jimin wished that he wouldn’t hide his smile like that, because it was such a bright and wonderful smile. Not only because it made his eyelids crinkle at the corners and made him look younger, but because the quick flash of his teeth and gums also made him look much sweeter too.

 

It wasn’t that Yoongi didn’t smile often, for he gave him little smiles all of the time whenever they made eye-contact over coffee; whenever they glanced at each other in the recording booth in the M&M building; or whenever he glanced back over his shoulder at him when they were playing around on his controller at 2am in the morning. But those smiles were shy and brief, quick twitches at the corners of his lips that never widened enough to show his teeth. Therefore, Jimin knew that whenever he saw his full smile, it was because Yoongi was feeling really good, and he had found himself trying to catch sight of such smiles during their conversations of late.

 

But Jimin guessed that Yoongi had gotten used to trying to hide his emotions whilst in hip hop clubs, for the sake of performing onstage without showing fear or uncertainty when faced with an opponent in a rap battle. That was probably why he always covered his smiles and cupped his face in his hands whenever he got embarrassed and he couldn’t maintain eye-contact.

 

A quick glance across the restaurant showed that the other diners were all smiling and looking pretty happy themselves, and for once they weren’t trying to ignore glares aimed at their backs or hoping that no one would notice just how close they were sitting on the bar stools or side by side in one of the booths. It was strange just how…at ease Jimin felt right now, and he couldn’t help but wonder if Yoongi was also feeling that wonderfully relaxed atmosphere just like him.

 

“OK, OK, I’ll make you a promise,” Jimin offered, as he shifted on his floor cushion and he retrieved his chopsticks from the rest. “If my second single gets in the top ten, I’ll take you out for spaghetti - my treat. If I get in the top five, I’ll cook you my special spaghetti. If I somehow make it to number one, even if just for five minutes, then I’ll…”

 

“Mmm?” his friend hummed, eagerly waiting to see what his final potential treat might just be.

 

“Then I’ll make the spaghetti for supper, and I’ll also buy you a dinner at one of those cafés that you love so much. So we can have a day out and you can still work on your lyrics, if you want to?”

 

Yoongi thought this over for a moment, his own chopsticks hovering over his salmon bulgogi, and so Jimin took advantage of the momentary silence to carry on eating. He was in the act of finishing one of the boiled egg halves when his friend finally spoke.

 

“If you took me to a café like that, Jimin, I ain’t gonna wanna work on my lyrics,” Yoongi said in a quiet voice. “I’d stop working for that long at least, y’know, so we could shoot the shit or whatever. I mean, we talk all of the time, but I think that…that it’d be nice to not have my controller in front of me or my notebook on my lap when we do so. Yeah?”

 

“That would be nice, Yoongi,” Jimin agreed with a soft nod. “But not because of the fact that I don’t like you working when we talk, but more like that I really want you to take a break from work for a day. OK?”

 

“OK.”

 

“Also, Yoongi, you don’t have to do that either.”

 

“Do what?”

 

“You know, “shoot the shit or whatever”,” Jimin repeated, before quickly adding. “You know that I love it when we talk about absolutely anything, be it music or food or just random thoughts that come to mind. You don’t have to…to brush things aside and act like they’re not that important to you, like you always do when you’re worried that I might turn you down.”

 

“OK, I, uh, I’d like to go out with you like that, Jimin,” Yoongi said, his voice noticeably bolder but his expression still rather timid. “I’d like to go out with you to one of the cafés and not spend the whole time worrying about stupid projects like I always do when I’m there. We could, uh, we could go to one of the cat cafés, yeah? They serve drinks and desserts there, and it’s nice; it’s real nice, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm, I know how much you love those cat cafés,” Jimin said with a soft smile, ignoring his meal for a moment for the sake of their conversation. “It sounds like a great idea to me, Yoongi.”

 

“Mmm, now I just need to compose that number one single,” Yoongi said, before letting out a sudden laugh. “Shit, talk about being under pressure, huh?”

 

“How so?”

 

“I mean, I gotta give you the best single I can, no matter what, Jimin. But now…now I really gotta give you the best of the best, so we can go out together again,” his friend explained, as he grabbed another chunk of marinated salmon. “I ain’t gonna miss out on that opportunity.”

 

“Yoongi, we could always go out like that, or even like this, whenever you want to,” Jimin suggested in a quiet voice, playing with his chopsticks as he watched the other man chewing a mouthful of food.

 

“Oh yeah?” he asked around the salmon and bok choy. “What’d you mean?”

 

“Like…on a date?” he suggested, still talking in a soft whisper almost as if he didn’t want his friend to hear his words.

 

Yoongi chewed his food slowly at this, his gaze focused on his plate rather than holding his gaze. It took him several seconds to swallow, and when he did so, it was an audible gulp. His friend grabbed the bottle of Chardonnay so that he could rapidly fill up their glasses again, the golden liquid splashing loudly as he poured way too much into the glasses. Then he grabbed his own to take a deep swallow of it.

 

Jimin found himself gnawing on his lower lip as he waited for him to say something, anything, in response to his suggestion.

 

“I, uh…Sundays are usually my off day,” Yoongi mumbled over the rim of his glass, eyeing the wine intently. “I mean, it’s the day that I used go out to eat or do whatever before I met you, ‘cos I hate Sundays so much that I used to like, uh, brightening ‘em up a little bit.”

 

“Oh yeah?” Jimin asked, wondering where his friend was going with this seemingly off tangent story.

 

“I…uh, well, you never seem that busy on Sundays either, Jimin, I kinda noticed that fact,” the other man continued, sparing quick glances up at him as he did so. “D’you maybe wanna make Sundays…special? With me?”

 

Jimin paused in the act of retrieving his own glass, glancing up at his friend in surprise. After a moment, he figured out what Yoongi was trying to say, and it brought a smile to his face as he picked up his glass of wine and hovered it in front of his lips.

 

“Sure thing, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi’s lips twitched at this, and he tried his hardest to hide his smile behind his hand as he rubbed at his nose, but it didn’t work. Jimin caught sight of it easily as he sipped at his wine, especially since his cheeks had also went a rather wonderful shade of pink just like they always did when he was embarrassed, shy, or really excited.

 

Yoongi has asked him if he wanted to go out with him on Sundays, when they weren’t busy working, so that they could spend time together without the stress of contracts and singing lessons hanging over their heads.

 

So that they could go on dates, in other words.

 

Over the duration of their dinner, his friend drank three glasses of Chardonnay on his own, which was rather shocking to Jimin, all things considered. The food seemed to have helped lessen its effect on him, for Yoongi ended up tipsy instead of drunk, like he had been that night that they had shared somaek together. Jimin drank the remains of the bottle, which was roughly four glasses, and he could feel it starting to have an affect on him too.

 

Just like his friend had remarked earlier, there wasn’t a single bite of food left when they were finished with their meal; not even a diced cube of kkakdugi or a single stray beansprout left behind. They really had enjoyed their meal, and he was glad that Yoongi had eaten so much for once. Sure, tomorrow he would go right back to instant junk at 3am in the morning, but Jimin knew that it was hopeless trying to get him to stop that annoying habit right now.

 

After Yoongi had paid for their meal on his card (and reminded him of the fact that their next meal was on him for once) they left the restaurant and jumped another train for a brief ride back to the usual subway stop. Jimin could see just how light Yoongi was during the journey, for he walked with something almost close to a skip in his step.

 

Perhaps the wine had got him feeling good? Or maybe their promises of dates and special Sundays had finally relieved him of the uncertain burden that he had been carrying for so long now?

 

Jimin most certainly felt strangely lighter now, even when they hadn’t really said much to each other yet. But what they had said was good enough for him, because he was now aware of the fact that Yoongi had indeed been interested in him this entire time, just like he had suspected; and his friend also knew that his interest was being reciprocated.

 

Maybe, in time, they would be able to finally say something more to each other than bumbled words exchanged over shy glances?

 

After all, it wasn’t exactly easy talking about things that they had been hiding for so long now, especially in his case.

 

Yoongi might not be scared of getting onstage and being called ‘queer’ by other rappers, but his friend had built up a thick skin from his years spent in the scene; and Jimin had yet to even start developing a single callus.

 

Upon getting back to the apartment block, Jimin went right into the bathroom to clean up, and Yoongi actually joined him; the pair of them brushing their teeth over the small sink and then hastily washing their faces and sharing the soft towel before going into the bedroom.

 

Yoongi didn’t even attempt to sneak into the bed with him like usual, for he just simply climbed onto the bottom of the bed and he crawled right up to drop onto the mattress beside him. The mattress creaked from the sudden weight, and his head made a soft thumping sound as it hit the pillow.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but stare at him as he finished toning and moisturising his face, his friend once more clad in his sweatshirt and jersey shorts and lying on his side with his hands trapped between his bare thighs in his usual napping position.

 

“Are you tired or something?” Jimin asked, as he settled down on the bed beside him. He didn’t bother pulling the covers over them because it was too warm. “Or drunk?”

 

“No, I feel pretty good,” his friend replied, as he let him slip his arm around his ribs and tug him that little bit closer. “I feel tipsy, but in a good way, y’know?”

 

“Three glasses of Chardonnay, Yoongi,” Jimin remarked with a knowing smile, placing his face into his soft and fragrant hair. “I’m surprised that you’re not wasted right now.”

 

“Mmm, me too,” Yoongi retorted with a nod, which made him snort laughter against his hair. “The food probably helped keep me tipsy.”

 

“If you’re not drunk or tired, then…what’re you doing in bed with me right now, Yoongi?” he asked, lifting his head up so that he could look down at his face.

 

In the current darkness of the bedroom, Jimin could see his glinting eyes staring right back up at him; rounded and not at all heavily lidded with sleepiness like they usually were when they ended up in bed together. No, Yoongi was most certainly not falling asleep right now, and that meant that he had no convenient excuses prepared for why he had climbed into bed with him, like usual.

 

Yoongi thought this question over for a moment, humming under his breath softly as he looked between his eyes and lips.

 

“I just wanted to talk, is all. Are you sleepy? ‘Cos if you’re sleepy, it’s fine, we can talk later.”

 

“Not sleepy,” Jimin replied without a hint of hesitation.

 

“Tonight was nice, right?” Yoongi asked, slipping his hands free from his thighs so that he could slip one under his pillow and place the other one against his bare chest. It wasn’t even a discreet attempt at touching him, but considering the fact that he had his arm slung around his ribs, it made sense that his friend had grown more bold. “I ain’t ever been to that place before, but the food was great, and I kinda wanna sample the rest of the menu.”

 

“Hmm, the food was amazing, Yoongi,” Jimin agreed with a nod, his fingers sinking into the thin grey wool of his sweatshirt. “Easily the best meal that I’ve had since the yukgaejang that you made for us.”

 

“Pft,” Yoongi snorted, his lips lifting in a grin at his compliment. “I guess I’m gonna have to learn how to make spicy chicken now too, huh?”

 

“If you made me spicy chicken, then I’d totally die of happiness,” Jimin declared with his own grin, feeling the other man’s fingertips slowly moving over his skin. “Tonight was fantastic, Yoongi. I wish that I was better with words so that I could say something more than that, but I just wanted you to know that it was fantastic. I mean, I enjoyed our convenience store celebration for Killuh’s single a lot, but that obviously topped it.”

 

“Well shit, I hope so, considering the fucking bill,” Yoongi joked, which made them both laugh heartily. “Nah, nah, don’t worry about the bill; yeah? It ain’t nothing, you can pay me back with coffee and spaghetti.

 

“Hmm, and all of those Sunday…dates,” Jimin remarked, as he moved his hand up from the gentle dip of his waist towards his ribs.

 

Yoongi sighed softly under his breath as his fingers slowly traced up his side to stroke at his upper arm, and then moved up to his shoulder to cup the rounded ball.

 

Before he could help himself, Jimin applied a hint of pressure to get him to settle down on his back, so that he could lean over him and balance his weight onto his elbows.

 

Yoongi let him do so, rolling onto his back and bringing his knees up instinctively as he grabbed hold of his sweatshirt with his free hand; bunching the wool tightly. His position was defensive, but not from discomfort but rather shyness, judging from the fact that he was still maintaining eye-contact with him.

 

In his elevated position, Jimin could see his necklace glinting in the moonlight from the window, the thin chain of gold messily strewn over his neck and the pillow just like his kinked black hair. It took him a great deal of effort to stop staring at the necklace and to hold his gaze again.

 

“Yeah, those…those Sunday dates,” Yoongi mumbled in a quiet voice, slipping his tongue free to lick at his lips in his usual nervous habit as he stared up at him.

 

Oh, just looking at down Yoongi right now; lying underneath him with his eyes half-lidded from shyness and something that might just have been lust, made Jimin’s breath catch in his throat, and he found it very hard to swallow for a moment.

 

“Yoongi?” Jimin whispered, his gaze slowly sliding down from his eyes to stare at his wet lips.

 

“Mmm?” he hummed softly, his breath puffing out to hit him in the face.

 

“Can I…can I kiss you?”

 

For a moment, Yoongi didn’t reply to his question, and Jimin wondered if he should have asked him such a bold thing. Despite everything that had happened between them both tonight, he actually felt a twinge of fear at the back of his mind that he was wrong about his friend and that he had just messed up so badly. It was ridiculous to even think such a thought, but he was so very nervous right now that he couldn’t push it away.

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi breathed out, squeezing his eyes shut. “Please.”

 

Jimin slowly lowered his head and he brought their mouths together in a kiss, the contact so brief and soft that it was little more than a brush of lips against lips. But even that was enough to make his heart start pounding in his chest in a way that he had never felt before, that none of his young teenage kisses had ever managed to do so.

 

Back then, he had just thought that there had been something wrong with him, because he should have enjoyed kissing the girls that he had taken out to arcades and parks; pretty young things with sweet laughs and glossy soft hair and small hands that had fitted within his own but just hadn’t felt right to him. He had liked the girls, he knew that he had liked them a lot, but he had never been able to think of them as anything more than good friends, even after the hand-holding and kisses and the love confessions that he had been unable to accept.

 

Yoongi let his breath out in an uneven gasp at the kiss, his lips still against his so that he felt the warm puff of his exhale on his skin. His fingers curled up against his chest, his blunt nails digging into his skin as he peered through his thick eyelashes at him.

 

Yet, Jimin found that a single kiss just wasn’t enough for him, not after waiting for this moment for what felt like forever. He wanted to kiss him again and feel that surge of excitement in his chest, the one that had made his face flood with heat and his fingers tremble on Yoongi’s shoulder. He wanted to hear his friend gasping against his mouth again and feel him shaking in his hold, because it made him feel a spike of pleasure deep down in his belly that he had never felt from a kiss before.

 

It wasn’t enough for Yoongi either, for when he brought their mouths together again, his friend had already pouted his lips out in anticipation of the next kiss. It made it much better than the first, for Jimin felt his lower lip catching between his during the kiss; so tender and warm.

 

Over the following kisses, Yoongi grew more confident in returning them, for his first few attempts had been uncertain and shy. Sure, he only needed to pout his lips out and nothing more than that, but he started turning his face into their kisses too, so that his lower lip dragged against his in a way that was maddening.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but open his mouth, darting his tongue out to lick against Yoongi’s lower lip just as their mouths met in another kiss.

 

“Mmm,” Yoongi gasped in surprise, breaking the contact and opening his eyes to look at him for a second.

 

“Did you like that?” Jimin asked against his lips, feeling the soft puffs of his breath against his face.

 

Yoongi made a noise in agreement as he brought their mouths together again, his lips already parted in preparation for his tongue. So Jimin licked at his lower lip once more, before slipping it upwards. His friend darted his own tongue out to brush it against his, and this time, he moaned at the contact.

 

Yoongi’s fingers trailed upwards, his fingertips running over the bump of his collarbone to settle on the back of his neck and keep his head in place, so that he couldn’t lift his head and break contact for more than a quick intake of breath.

 

Jimin didn’t even want to do that, for he wanted to just carry on kissing Yoongi over and over; to feel his tongue darting out to meet his and hear him moaning softly underneath the wet sound of their kisses. His friend had revealed himself to be so very inexperienced at kissing, but he wasn’t at all nervous as he returned his kisses and tried his very hardest to copy his actions.

 

Huh, Jimin,” Yoongi almost wheezed, as he brought their brows together just to stop their rather frantic slew of kisses. “I can’t breathe, shit.”

 

Jimin was practically gasping for air through his slack lips, struggling to catch his breath because his heart was still thumping hard and fast in his chest.

 

“My chest feels all funny, I can’t-”

 

Yoongi took a sharp intake of breath at this and held it in his lungs, before letting it out in a soft sigh a few seconds later. His entire body was trembling in his hold from mingled nerves and excitement, and Jimin could feel his own fingers shaking against his cheek as he looked down at his friend.

 

“Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips, even when they were slick with saliva and slightly flushed from their kisses. His breathing was quick and shallow, and audible to his ears. But it seemed that his temporary panic had passed, that he was getting himself under control.

 

“I just got a little…little excited,” his friend bumbled out, before laughing under his breath. “My head started spinning like crazy, thought I was gonna pass the fuck out.”

 

“Hmm, my head’s spinning too,” Jimin admitted with his own soft laugh, moving to stroke his thumb along Yoongi’s flushed cheek and feeling his soft and smooth skin.

 

“Huh, shit,” Yoongi sighed out, dropping his head onto the pillow and closing his eyes. “That, uh, that was…”

 

Jimin waited for him to finish this trail of thought, his thumb stroking his cheekbone slowly as he did so. Yet, it seemed that Yoongi didn’t really know how to finish it, for he seemed incapable of finding the right words right now.

 

“I’m kinda tired now,” he finally settled on saying, wriggling on the mattress as he did so, which made Jimin snort laughter under his breath. “Goddamn, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“That felt fucking fantastic, right?” Yoongi joked with a grin, using his words against him. “I wish I was better with words, y’know, so I could say something more than that, but-”

 

“Don’t,” Jimin intoned, moving to press their lips together again just to shut him up.

 

Yoongi guffawed at his own attempt at a joke, his lips curled up at the corners during their kiss oh so perfectly. When he pulled his face away, Jimin saw that he was still grinning at him, though it was a little bashful now.

 

“You, uh, you liked it too, right?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice, trying his very hardest to hold his gaze.

 

“Hmm,” Jimin hummed, as he contemplated whether or not he should give him another kiss. “I’ve kinda wanted to do that for a long time now, Yoongi.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah, since that morning that you made us dinner, I think? Maybe earlier than that, I don’t know,” he mumbled with an embarrassed smile. “Isn’t that kinda funny? I’ve wanted to do it for that long, but I only just plucked up the courage to do so tonight.”

 

“I think I’ve wanted to kiss you since you bitched about Killuh that very first night in the club,” Yoongi remarked, which might have been a joke or even a joke; it was hard to tell. His bashful smile was looking rather lazy now too, which signalled that he really was starting to get tired, and he made an amused sound under his breath as he shifted on the mattress. “Ain’t that kinda funny too?”

 

“Then, why didn’t you, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, moving his hand from his cheek so that he could brush stray locks of hair behind his ear. “There’s been, like, so many perfect moments that you could’ve kissed me. So, why didn’t you?”

 

“…Fear?” Yoongi suggested after a moment of thought, lifting his eyebrows as he did so. “Y’know, or the same reasons why you didn’t kiss me before tonight? Mmm, scoot over a lil, Jimin.”

 

For the sake of not exciting him too much again, Jimin gave him several soft and chaste kisses as Yoongi settled down on his side again, which he trailed up the soft slope of his nose to his hairline. He kept his face in place there, pressing gentle kisses against his brow as his friend curled up against him. He was forced to stop doing so after a minute, for the other man moved to press his cheek against his chest, just like he always did when they shared the bed.

 

Yoongi didn’t place his arm over his side, rather he kept it folded between their bodies just to keep that little hint of space between them. But he tangled his legs within his own and left his face pressed against his chest, signalling that he was comfortable and content to fall asleep like this. So Jimin held onto him instead, his arm over his ribs to cradle him in his hold securely.

 

“Are you gonna sleep, Yoongi? Or are you gonna wait until I do so and then go back on your computer, hmm?” Jimin asked to break their momentary silence, just knowing that the latter option was highly possible.

 

“I’m gonna sleep,” his friend promised in a quiet voice. “I’m gonna sleep for awhile, and if I wake up, I’ll start thinking of lyrics. No more computer for today, yeah? Lyrics first, no more napping in front of my controller in that stupid chair.”

 

“Good,” Jimin sighed, cradling him in his arms tight and closing his eyes. “What time’s it, huh?”

 

“Dunno, does it matter?”

 

“Hmm? What do you mean, Yoongi?”

 

“Tomorrow’s Sunday, Jimin.”

 

Jimin opened his eyes slowly to stare across the bedroom, replaying his words back over in his head before he realised what he had just said. Then he felt Yoongi’s body shaking in his hold as he let out a series of rumbling guffaws, the sound bringing a smile to his lips as he tugged him that little bit closer.

 

 

 

 

 

By the time that Yoongi woke up from his Chardonnay-induced slumber, it was 11:23am, and Jimin had long since finished his singing lessons and had cooled down his vocal chords for the day.

 

Despite sitting in the computer chair all morning long, singing into his microphone and monitoring his progress just like always, he hadn’t woken his friend up once over the duration of his lessons. The wine might just have numbed him to the noise, or he might just be a deep sleeper when he actually sank down into proper sleep instead of light naps.

 

Whatever the case, when Yoongi finally woke up, he did so with a series of disgruntled noises, and that was a sign that he most certainly didn’t want to be awake. The noises were trapped between grunts and whines, starting off deep before increasing in pitch as he presumably stretched his stiff muscles out on the mattress.

 

Jimin shifted ever so slightly to look back over his shoulder at him, the chair creaking softly from the movement. His fingers were hovering over the controller buttons, poised and ready to resume hitting the different coloured pads, and he was glad that he hadn’t hit the record button at this point.

 

Yoongi was currently lying on the mattress on his stomach, his limbs spread open wide like a starfish and his face pressed into the pillow. His back was rising and falling in a slow and deep rhythm, that might just be a sign that he was going to fall asleep again, and Jimin took a moment to study him as he waited to see if he would wake up.

 

Yoongi’s sweatshirt had wracked up in his sleep to flash several inches of his lower back, the soft little dip set above his behind and the valley that ran down his too-prominent spine. His jersey shorts were also wrinkled from sleep, so that the unhemmed edges had curled up, and Jimin ran his gaze down his thin and rather supple thighs, right down to his bare feet, which were lightly creased because his toes were clenched tight.

 

A minute passed, and Yoongi seemed to be very much asleep from what he could tell, so he decided to turn back to the controller and resume playing with it.

 

There was a melody trapped at the back of his mind right now, one that he was trying his very hardest to record on the computer just because he wanted to play it to his friend and see what he thought of it. He had been attempting to do so for almost an hour now, recording several layers that he had deleted, edited and played over and over in the hopes of creating something more than just noise.

 

Jimin was still a lot better on the piano option over the other instrument choices, but he was starting to figure out how to break down samples from the VST library and assign them onto each key on the controller so that he could turn premade beats into something new; just like what Yoongi did. The samples were free to use, after all, and they allowed him to work with bass, drums, violins and more in a way that he struggled to do so from scratch.

 

As a result of these morning play sessions, and his own relentless curiosity, Jimin was starting to feel a lot more confident about using the controller and music software. Not confident enough to create his own song, of course, but perhaps enough to get several bars down for a verse, bridge or chorus that Yoongi (or another composer) could incorporate into a whole song for him.

 

If only his woeful attempts at penning lyrics on the note app on his phone could improve like his skills on the controller. No matter what he typed up, it all looked silly to him, looked like something that a kid would write when attempting to make a poem for a class project.

 

Whether it be his morning thoughts over coffee and leftovers from the night before (which Yoongi had told him were prime lyric making ideas); or his lazy musings of an evening when his friend was plugged into his computer, his headphones blaring hip hop and his fingers typing away at the speed of light - nothing seemed to be good enough to Jimin. He guessed that he was going to see his lyrics in such a way, hypercritical of every single rhyme because he was still new to the entire process, but there was a chance that Yoongi might spot a diamond in the rough out of the dozens of lines of his lyrics.

 

Jimin heard the other man moving on the bed at last, his clothing rustling and the mattress springs creaking as he sat upright with more tired grunts. But he was too busy staring at the composition on the monitor screen to look at him right now. He could see his reflection on the screen, however, though it was slightly unclear.

 

Yoongi let out a groan as he dropped his head against his chest, and the bedroom fell silent for a minute as he came around from the heavy fog of his slumber.

 

“Mmm, what’re you doing, Jimin?” Yoongi croaked from the bed, rubbing at his swollen eyelids in an attempt at getting them to stay open. “I heard you…you singing before, for your lessons, I think?”

 

“You did?” Jimin asked, turning in the chair slowly to look at him and cocking his arm up on the back of the headrest so that he could place his chin on his forearm. “I’m sorry, did I disturb you?”

 

“Pft, nah you didn’t,” Yoongi reassured with a head shake, his fists still balled up in front of his face. “You just sent me right back to sleep again with your sweet voice, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm, Yoongi,” he dragged out, unable to keep a pleased smile off his face at his friend’s compliment. “I hope that you’re telling the truth, because I really didn’t mean to disturb you. But mornings really are best time for my singing lessons, so that you can use the computer whenever you need to later.”

 

“Nah, like I said, you didn’t bother me none, Jimin. What’re you doing on the controller, huh?” Yoongi asked, as he finally dropped his hands back into his lap and yawned loudly; flashing a hint of his tongue as he did so. “Mmm, heard some melodies before but I can’t seem to remember ‘em right now. They sounded nice, though.”

 

“I was just playing around like always,” Jimin explained, moving so that he could spin the chair all of the way around and hold his gaze. He settled back against the plush and padded leather and he folded his arms over his still bare chest. “I kinda had this idea earlier, a little musical idea, and I wanted to try and see if I could transfer it from my mind to the computer. So far, the attempts have been…alright, but not perfect.”

 

“A musical idea, huh?” Yoongi asked curiously, cocking his head so that his messy hair fell forward over his eyes. “What, like, a composition?”

 

“Um, I guess, yeah.”

 

“Huh, look at you, composing shit whilst I’m snoring in bed,” his friend said, his lips quirking up into a fond smile. “Damn, that’s cute, Jimin. Did you, uh, record any of it?”

 

“Uhuh, I recorded a couple of bites but nothing too serious. Like I said, I can’t seem to get the idea down just right, but the bites are good enough to work with until I get it right.”

 

“Wait, I gotta piss, but hold that thought,” Yoongi muttered, as he awkwardly climbed off the bed and toddled across the bedroom on his uneven legs; his sweatshirt not long enough to cover his bare thighs like his tee-shirts usually did so.

 

Jimin tried to not stare too much at the bulge in the front of his jersey shorts, because it was rather immature to stare at a completely natural thing like morning wood and make a big deal out of it; and it was also a little bit rude. But it was pretty difficult to drag his eyes away as he watched Yoongi exiting the bedroom, and he found himself fiddling with his thumb ring for some reason.

 

Yoongi returned from the bathroom a minute later, discreetly tugging down on his sweatshirt in a bid to hide his still persistent erection, and Jimin wasn’t at all surprised that he avoided making eye-contact with him as he moved over to the desk.

 

“C’mon, lemme hear it,” Yoongi said, as he spun the chair back around for him and he stood behind it to lean over and rest his chin on the crown of his head.

 

“But it’s not ready yet, Yoongi,” Jimin argued, studying his reflection in the monitor screen and making no move to grab the mouse. “Give me another day or two, yeah? Let me play around with it like you do with your lyrics, and if I can’t get it right, I’ll let you give it a shot. OK?”

 

“Mmm, I thought you said that it was nothing serious?” Yoongi said, slipping his arms around his neck comfortably just like he always did whenever they were messing around on his controller. “If it was for fun, you’d play that shit to me, you always do. So…is it just for fun, or are you really wanting to give this one a serious shot, Jimin?”

 

“Um…”

 

Jimin reached up to clasp hold of his friend’s wrist, feeling the knob of bone through the thin wool of his sweatshirt and finding that his fingers and thumb curled all the way around it with ease. He stared at the monitor screen for a moment as he thought this question over, studying the different layers and colourful lines on the screen before replying.

 

“I think that this might be a serious shot for once, Yoongi. I mean, I don’t know what for exactly; a single, a collaboration, a composition to sell or whatever. I just think that it’s a serious shot and I really wanna wait until it’s perfect before I play it to you; you know?”

 

“I get you,” the other man agreed in a quiet voice.

 

“It could even be something for you, I guess? If I worked hard enough on it to get a rhythm down for your rapping,” Jimin suggested, as he slowly moved to look back over his shoulder at him. “You’re composing something for me…maybe I wanna compose something for you too? But it’s probably way too shitty for you and-”

 

“Ah ah ah!”

 

Yoongi uncurled one arm from around his neck so that he could press his fingers against his lips, stopping him mid-mumble and cutting off his moment of self-deprecation.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but smile, even when his fingers were pressing down on his lips and it was hard nudging them off.

 

“What’s the first rule of this household, huh?” Yoongi asked with a faüx stern expression. “I know y’know it, ‘cos you remind me of it constantly, Jimin.”

 

When he lifted his fingers up, Jimin was able to reply to the question.

 

“No shitting on our skills and sleeping our achievements, or something,” he muttered with an eye-roll, which made his friend give him a rather playful bat on the tip of his nose. “I’m just saying, Yoongi. There’s an obvious difference in our musical skills, and that’s the truth. Pretending otherwise is silly but I really don’t care at all, because there’s an obvious difference in our singing skills too.”

 

“Mmm, you’re right, you can’t ever hope to reach my level of falsetto, so, you might as well quit now and just-”

 

Jimin moved to snag his arms around Yoongi’s waist at this taunt, dragging him closer to the computer chair and making him cry out in surprise and thump his thigh hard on the armrest.

 

Ah! That’s gonna bruise now, Jimin!” he whined, tugging at his hands and forearms to try and free himself. “Like I ain’t got enough of those, huh?!”

 

“Take it back and I’ll let you go,” Jimin promised, just knowing that he would be unable to loosen his hold on his waist because he wasn’t strong enough.

 

“No way! You ain’t even heard my falsetto yet!” Yoongi argued, struggling to sound serious because he had started laughing and he couldn’t keep a straight face. “It’s better than Pavarotti and-”

 

“Pavarotti was a tenor, Yoongi!” Jimin interjected, grabbing hold of his forearm with one hand to lock his arms around his waist that little more tighter, because the other man was really putting up a fight and had managed to drag the computer chair an inch or so across the floor.

 

“and now I ain’t gonna sing for you ‘cos you’re a smartarse!” Yoongi finished with an indignant huff, slumping back against him and begrudgingly admitting defeat.

 

Jimin slowly pulled him down into his lap, expecting that his friend would stop him from doing so only to find that Yoongi actually settled down in his lap. He did so gingerly, almost as if he thought that his weight might be uncomfortable, and it was so very obvious that he had never sat on anyone’s lap since childhood. He let Yoongi find a position that felt right to him, the other man settling on his thigh rather than his crotch and slipping his legs over his opposite knee so that his toes grazed against the wooden flooring.

 

“Pavarotti? Seriously?” Jimin asked with a wide grin, still so very amused by his friend’s woeful attempt at a brag.

 

“Hey, if Pavarotti was a tenor, then my falsetto really could be better than his,” Yoongi argued back, raising a very good point indeed. “My argument still stands, Jimin.”

 

Alright, so there was a chance that Yoongi was a better falsetto than Pavarotti, but Jimin wasn’t going to agree to such a statement. Especially not when it was such a childishly pedantic statement from his friend. No, he would much rather resume play fighting with him than concede, but the wrestling could wait for later.

 

“Good morning, Yoongi,” Jimin said, planting his chin down on the soft ball of his shoulder and looking up at him.

 

“Mmm, morning,” his friend mumbled with a shy smile, dropping his head to stare down at his lap rather than maintain eye-contact. “Did you sleep good last night, huh?”

 

Jimin made a noise in agreement at this as he ran his eyes down his friend’s profile slowly. It was a rather pointless question to ask, for he always slept good save for nights before recording sessions and meetings with M&M executives, but Yoongi has just simply asked it for the sake of starting a conversation.

 

“You slept good too, Yoongi. I haven’t seen you sleep for longer than four hours in a month now, I’m really surprised.”

 

“I dunno what happened, but I think the wine knocked me out or something,” Yoongi remarked with a soft laugh. “Shit, I shouldn’t have slept that long, it ain’t productive for me. I ain’t gonna get any shit done now.”

 

“No, Yoongi, it might not be productive for your daily project goals, but it’s productive for your mind, body and creativity,” Jimin pointed out, as he lowered his face to press a soft kiss against his shoulder. “Just think about all of the fainting spells and 4am crashes, hmm, think about how much time you lose because of them instead of a nap or two, or a good night of sleep.”

 

“Mmm, that’s a good point actually, Jimin,” Yoongi mumbled, giving his nose a rough rub. “Still, my brain feels all foggy now, though that might just be the wine too.”

 

“That too, I mean, three glasses? I can’t believe that you’re not lying in bed whining about how much your head hurts, or crying over the toilet or something.”

 

“Pft, me too.”

 

Yoongi fell decidedly quiet on his lap after this light conversation, sitting with his hands snug in his lap and his bare toes curled up against the wooden flooring.

 

Jimin could sense that he was deeply thinking about something, which he might just decide to talk about with him at some point, or he might just keep to himself like he often did.

 

Hyuk had told him that he was pretty certain that Yoongi was going to talk to him at some point, about things that he had never specified, but had hinted at being important. Yet, it seemed that Yoongi had bypassed that conversation last night by letting him kiss him, and his tender kisses had said more than words ever could.

 

Yoongi might just be thinking about what had happened between them yesterday: the restaurant dinner and kisses, the promises of Sunday dates, and the fact that they were both aware of the fact that they were harbouring affection for each other that was more than just friendship. His friend might just have been playing the events over in his mind again, now that he was fully awake, and he was hopefully not regretting said events, because he sure as hell didn’t feel a single shred of regret.

 

“What’s up, Yoongi?” Jimin decided to ask, breaking the silence just for the hell of it.

 

“Huh?” Yoongi hummed, tearing his eyes away from the monitor to hold his gaze; his lips slack with residual sleepiness.

 

“Is everything OK? You look a little…”

 

“Oh, oh yeah, I was just thinking,” he mumbled, turning his head to look back at the computer and sniffing hard a few times before rubbing at his nose again. “I’m good, Jimin.”

 

“Thinking about what, hmm?”

 

“Uh, I was thinking about my projects and shit, and realising that I’ve got deadlines to meet by tonight…” Yoongi replied in a quiet voice. He was playing with the cuffs of his light grey sweatshirt, a sign that he was feeling a little bit anxious, even when he didn’t know why.

 

“OK, so, what’s up with those?” Jimin asked curiously, wondering what it was that was making him look so anxious.

 

Was he maybe having difficulty completing one, one that was urgent and he might not be able to delay? Was he just dreading the thought of sitting at his computer all day long; typing up lines and lines of emotionless lyrics and recording guide vocals and raps for idols until his throat was sore and he had smoked his way through most of his cigarette packet?

 

“…Jimin, it’s Sunday, remember?” Yoongi stated, as he turned to look at him. “I promised to go out with you today, to a café.”

 

“Oh…”

 

Jimin felt his lips turning slack as he looked up at his friend. Despite everything, it had completely escaped his mind during his lessons that it was in fact Sunday. Even when his friend had joked about it right before they had both fallen asleep, he had been so distracted with singing lessons and his composition, that he has just simply forgotten the day. But Yoongi hadn’t forgotten, and that was why he was looking so anxious right now.

 

“I, uh, I know I said that I wouldn’t work on my projects in the café but I really need to start working on your single, Jimin, and I’ve got corrections to submit by midnight and-”

 

“Yoongi, it’s OK, you don’t have to explain,” Jimin interjected, just to stop his friend from bumbling too much. “Last night, you promised to not work on your projects after my second single got number one and we went out to celebrate together; remember? You didn’t promise to not work on them starting today, so, you don’t have to worry about it. You’ve got so much work to do right now, that I really don’t mind at all. Submit the corrections, work on my single; I promise that I’m completely fine with it.”

 

“You sure? ‘Cos I promised to keep Sundays special, remember?” Yoongi said, finally lifting his gaze to look at him. “That means I shouldn’t be working on my shit; y’know?”

 

“Uhuh, I remember, because you said that you never usually have work to do on Sundays, Yoongi. But you’ve got work to do today,” he pointed out, as he held his eyes confidently.

 

Jimin couldn’t believe that Yoongi was worrying about the fact that he had work to do after he had promised to go out with him on Sundays. His friend had actually been anxious that this might have upset him, that it would get in the way of their plans for the early afternoon, and that made him feel a funny little bloom of warmth in his chest as he looked at him.

 

Yoongi had remembered his promise, and if he hadn’t had deadlines for tonight, then he had been ready to go out with him on a special Sunday date today. He would have left his notebook and tablet at home to spend the entire afternoon with him; just the two of them and no commitments to work or music for the whole day. That was the reason why he felt that wonderful warmth in his chest, and he wondered if his cheeks had also turned pink for they felt quite warm too.

 

“I mean, we can still go out today,” Yoongi said, shifting on his lap and moving to grab his paperwork and rifling through the stack to find something. “So long as I grab my tablet, I can work on everything - lyrics, last minute corrections, all of that shit. So, Jimin, d’you wanna go to a café, huh?”

 

“I’d love to, Yoongi,” he replied with a nod, watching the other man pulling several pieces of paper free from the pile and then placing them aside on the desk. “One of your cat cafés?”

 

“Y’know it,” he retorted with a quick grin, climbing off his lap and snatching up his earphones so that he could dump them on the papers that he must have been taking with him. “I know the exact one I’m gonna take you to already.”

 

“I’ve never been to a cat café before,” Jimin said, as he moved to hit several things on the keyboard and save his composition piece so that he could resume working on it some other morning. “This is gonna be fun.”

 

“Hey, you sure that you’re OK with this, Jimin?” Yoongi asked again, just to be certain that he hadn’t upset him. “If you’re not, just tell me, yeah? Don’t hide it from me, I wanna know the truth. Just tell me if I disappointed you, yeah?”

 

“Truthfully…” Jimin dragged out, as he shifted in the computer chair. “I want you to hurry up and get ready so that we can go play with some cats, Yoongi.”

 

This made the other man guffaw, reaching up to hide his lower face behind his hand and oversized sweatshirt cuff. His expression was one of complete relief, now that he knew that their Sunday date was still happening, and Jimin gave him a warm smile just to reassure him that it was fine.

 

“Goddamn, Jimin,” he sighed out, his lips lifting up into soft smile as he dropped his hand into his shoulder. “Thanks for this, seriously, thanks.”

 

Yoongi hesitated for a second or two, before leaning over and giving him a quick peck at the corner of his lips; the act both sweet and shy and making him giggle. Unsurprisingly, his cheeks were pink as he pulled his face away, but Jimin wanted a little more than that.

 

So Jimin reached up to cup his cheeks in both of his hands, holding onto him as he brought their lips together in a proper kiss.

 

“Mmm, thought I was dreaming…” Yoongi almost sighed against his mouth, moving to gently lower himself into his lap again and then slipping his arms around his neck so that he could hold onto him for a moment.

 

“Hmm?” Jimin hummed, as his friend pressed another chaste kiss against the corner of his mouth. He instinctively grabbed hold of his waist with both hands, snagging tight handfuls of his sweatshirt as he did so. “What do you mean?”

 

“I thought I was dreaming last night, when you kissed me,” Yoongi continued in that same whisper-soft voice, gently nuzzling his nose against his. “I woke up thinking that it must’ve been a fucking dream, y’know, but…”

 

“Why? Do you dream about kissing me, Yoongi?” Jimin taunted playfully, squeezing hold of his waist just to make him squirm on his lap.

 

“Sometimes,” he admitted, not even embarrassed to do so. “I mean, yeah, a couple of times. Is that weird, Jimin?”

 

“No, it’s sweet. I think that it’s really sweet, Yoongi,” he replied, all the while thinking about how many times that the thought had crossed his mind whilst he had been daydreaming. “It really happened, though. You didn’t dream it, and you’re awake right now too. See, I’ll even pinch you.”

 

Jimin reached up to give his cheek a quick pinch, grabbing hold and twisting it before letting go again.

 

“Thanks,” Yoongi said with an amused smile, as he rubbed at his cheek. “I’m gonna shower, yeah? I’ll only be a few minutes.”

 

“Sure thing, I’ll wait.”

 

Whilst his friend was in the shower, Jimin retrieved a glass of water from the kitchen so that he could add a splash into the bedroom plant pots. It was pretty funny how used to this little routine that he had gotten, much like the weekly laundry duty and occasional time that he had made them both dinner, though he was used to doing so with a mug of coffee in hand. But considering the fact that they were going to a café, he didn’t see the point in brewing up some coffee, because they could share their first cup of the day during their date instead.

 

Upon exiting the shower, Yoongi stepped back into the bedroom in a massive black tee-shirt and underwear, and he grabbed his jacket from the floor so that he could retrieve his cigarettes. Then he perched on one of the windowsills in the main-area so that he could spark a light and smoke his first morning cigarette whilst he was in the shower, which was highly unusual. He usually smoked on the walk to the subway whenever they went out together, and he most certainly never smoked in the apartment room when he was present.

 

But Jimin just pushed the thought aside as he entered the bathroom and went straight into the shower. The water was already all heated up and ready to go, and he almost purred in pleasure as he stepped under the scorching hot stream and slicked his soaking hair back off his face. Oh, he liked Yoongi’s shower so much that he didn’t even miss his own one across the capital, which never seemed to get as hot as this one.

 

After showering, Jimin quickly got dressed in a loose shirt and fitted black trousers, and then he went back into the bathroom to finish getting ready. He was in the act of applying a light layer of makeup in front of the sink when Yoongi popped his head back into the bathroom, and he saw him loitering in the doorway as he carefully smudged eyeliner along his lower lid.

 

“What?” Jimin asked, as he finished applying the eyeliner and lowered the pencil to glance over at his friend.

 

“We’re going to a café, Jimin. You don’t need to do all that,” he stated, as he folded his arms over his chest and scratched at his elbow.

 

“One, I like doing all of this,” Jimin replied, recapping the pencil to shove it back inside of the medicine cabinet. He shut the door and checked his reflection again, and then he grabbed his lip balm so that he could pop the lid off. “Two, I wanna look good.”

 

“Y’know what I’m gonna say right?” Yoongi remarked, cocking his head and watching him applying a smear of lip balm.

 

“I do, but I think that you should say it again, Yoongi,” Jimin joked as he finished with the lip balm and looked over at him.

 

“You look good anyway, Jimin, seriously,” he replied, reaching up to rub at his nose roughly. “You look fucking amazing in those professional shots, with your hair and makeup did and shit, but you look good when you’re casual too. Like, uh, like how you looked when we first met.”

 

“No,” Jimin argued with a sudden laugh. “No, Yoongi, I didn’t look good, I looked like shit that night and-”

 

“You looked good to me.”

 

“and I probably smelled like it too,” he finished over him, as he reached up to remove one of his earrings.

 

Yoongi hovered in the doorway to watch him fixing his star charm earrings in place, and Jimin decided that he didn’t really need to style his hair today. He could just leave it loose and slightly tousled instead, rather than slick it in place with gel. He secured the second earring in his lobe and then crossed the bathroom to leave, brushing chests with his friend because the doorway was so narrow.

 

Yoongi followed him into the bedroom so that he could grab his Number N(i)ne blouson from the wardrobe and slip it on, and then he moved over to the side table to grab his wallet.

 

“The date’s on me, you won’t need your wallet, Yoongi.”

 

“You said the second single celebration date was on you, not this one,” Yoongi pointed out with a grin, shoving his wallet into his jeans pocket just to spite him. “We can share the tab, yeah? Drinks on you, snacks on me?”

 

“ …Fine, but just this one time,” Jimin conceded, which made his friend snort loudly under his breath. “You’re not the only rich guy here, OK? Soon, I’ll have a black card and Rolex too, just you wait and see.”

 

“Mmm, sure you will, Jimin.”

 

Yoongi shoved a portable power pack into his jacket pocket, just in case he needed it later, so that he only had to carry his tablet and notebook in the crook of his elbow. It freed up one hand, to allow him take hold of his hand just like always and tug him out of the apartment room.

 

“Are we jumping the subway today?” Jimin asked curiously, as they exited the block a minute later.

 

“Nah, the café’s just across the block,” Yoongi explained with a rapid head shake, which likely explained why he had smoked in the apartment room instead. “We’ll be there before y’know it, Jimin.”

 

Yaong Cat Café was a quaint little building nestled between a clothing store and bookstore just several roads down from Yoongi’s apartment block. It looked to be a decent-size, judging from the exterior, and it was painted bright yellow and had orange verandas above the windows to catch the eye. Countless posters were stuck in the windows advertising the cats inside, with photographs and names printed on them to draw people in.

 

Upon stepping inside of the café, Jimin quickly discovered that it was packed with furry pink shelves and long stretches of wood that ran across the store like an obstacle course. It was for the cats to use to get around, sleep and play on, of course, and most of it was set far across the interior away from the tables. There were dozens of toys on the flooring and dangling from strings on the ceiling, and there was a feeding station with dozens of bowls set close to the serving counter. He was so busy eyeing the light wooden flooring and milky pink walls, that it took him a moment to even notice one of the cats, and then Jimin found his eyes darting across the café to locate the rest of them.

 

As Yoongi gently steered him across the floor, Jimin saw exactly seven cats inside of the café, or at least on the ground-floor. There was a snow white one lounged on a shelf close to the door that looked to be napping, and two grey and white kittens wrestling with a toy mouse close to the tables. He saw a white and ginger cat with bright blue eyes cleaning its face on top of a table, and there was a black cat with a flat face sitting on the counter staring right at them. There was a skinny black and white cat with green eyes drinking water at the feeding station, and finally, there was a cat with black, white and ginger patches and no tail napping in a beam of sunlight across the café.

 

Inside the store with the cats, there was a great amount of mostly young women, who looked to be either taking their lunch break, or having a quick study session between classes. They had laptops and books stacked around them, tall glasses of iced coffees and colourful milkshakes and smoothies, and they were currently not playing with any of the cats. Jimin saw foreign couples, who were no doubt amazed by the cat and dog cafés that they might not have back home: taking photographs on cameras and talking in tongues that weren’t English but sounded vaguely European; and he saw some elderly people with young children that looked to be enjoying the hospitable atmosphere and caring for the cats.

 

It seemed like the café appealed to a great deal of people, and he couldn’t help but wonder how many men like Yoongi walked through the door every couple of days.

 

As he was pulled across the café, Jimin saw an old man reaching down to pick up one of the tabby kittens, holding it out so that a little girl could take it from him and place it down on her lap. The kitten didn’t seem to mind at all, for it seemed that the cats were all incredibly friendly.

 

“Good morning!” the young woman behind the counter declared enthusiastically when she caught sight of them. “It’s been awhile since we last saw your face, I think that the cats missed you.”

 

“I missed ‘em too, Minji,” Yoongi replied with a brief smile, as he tugged him over to one of the tables and pulled his chair out for him. “Especially Hoya.”

 

Jimin shifted to sit down in his chair, turning to look at the black cat on the counter again because he could sense that it was still looking at him. It stared right back with its orange eyes, its stubby swishing across the countertop almost challengingly.

 

“What can I get for you today? Coffee, Americano, I assume?” she asked, as another woman ducked beneath the counter to go over to the large kitchen area and start making orders.

 

“Y’know it,” he agreed, as he placed his notebook and tablet down on the table. “Jimin, what about you, huh? Coffee? Milktea? Tea?”

 

“Um, coffee please - a latte,” Jimin said, dragging his eyes away from the chubby black cat to look at his friend.

 

As Minji moved around behind the counter, brewing up their coffee using the hot water and milk dispenser built into the wall, Yoongi sat down in the chair facing him and he unzipped his tablet case to slip the device free.

 

“What’d you think of the place, huh?” he asked, as he hit a button and powered it up.

 

Despite being packed with cats and people, Jimin found that the café didn’t smell bad at all. The interior was very clean, the flooring spotless save for the occasional tiny clump of fur on the flooring that one of the cats had shed that would be swept up later, and the tables were spotless too. It was hygienic, the scent of brewing coffee was highly appealing, and the chalk board beside the counter that advertised the cake selection was very cute. He could see cakes and bread on display behind the counter, visible through the glass partition but kept hidden from any wandering cat paws and noses by way of slide panels, and they all looked highly appealing to his eyes.

 

“I like it,” Jimin said, as he gave his friend a quick smile. “I still find it pretty funny that you like these places so much, Yoongi, but I think that I can see why you do. I think that I could get fond of cat cafés too.”

 

“Just wait until you find your favourite cat and- wait, where’s Hoya?” Yoongi mumbled, actually getting out of his seat to go and search for a specific cat that he presumably wanted to show him. “Hoya?”

 

It became quickly apparent that Hoya wasn’t one of the many cats that were lying around the ground-floor of the café, which meant that there was an eighth cat hiding away somewhere.

 

Whilst Yoongi searched for it, Jimin decided to go over to the counter and draw closer to the funny-looking black cat that had been staring at him so much. When he held his hand out to stroke it, the cat ducked away and then started sniffing at his fingers with rounded eyes, so he had to let it do so before being granted permission to give it a soft stroke on the head. The tag on its floral collar showed him that the cat was called Hobak, which he found strangely amusing for some reason. Maybe it was his glowing orange eyes that had earned him the name?

 

“Who’s Hoya, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, as he gave Hobak several ear scratches and looked over at his friend.

 

“Hoya’s the best cat in this entire café, Jimin,” Yoongi replied, as he got onto his hands and knees to check under a low table. As he did so, the black and white cat trotted over to give him a sniff, bumping her head against his and making him jump in surprise. “Oh, you scared me, Betty.”

 

Yoongi reached out to give the black and white cat a quick stroke down her spine before crawling along the floor to check underneath a playhouse, because he was eager to locate the missing cat.

 

Jimin couldn’t believe that Yoongi was crawling around the place looking for a cat, and he turned his head to look at Minji with a blank expression. It made her start giggling, lifting a hand to cover her mouth as she finished preparing their drinks. He gave Hobak another quick scratch under the chin before slipping his phone free from his trouser pocket and opening the camera, so that he could attempt to snap a photograph of the cat.

 

But Hobak decided that he didn’t want a close-up right now, jumping down off the counter and trotting over to a group of women, who all cooed at him and then showered him with strokes and scratches.

 

“Wow, talk about a Casanova,” Jimin muttered, as he moved to sit down at their table again and watched the cat lapping up attention.

 

“Ah, there you are!”

 

Yoongi proceeded to tug a cat out from underneath a table, and Jimin was shocked by the sight of the animal. Hoya was a grey tabby that was quite possibly the fattest cat that he had ever seen, and he had to carry him in both arms, hugged against his chest, for he looked to weigh a lot too.

 

“Now, I can finally finish off these stupid projects,” Yoongi said with a pleased smile, as he sat down in his chair and pulled his tablet closer.

 

Hoya sat on Yoongi’s lap much like a child would, his back curved against his stomach so that he could place a hand on his ample furry tummy and gently stroke it whilst he tapped at his tablet screen. He purred like an engine, his flat ears not twitching but his fat tail swishing between his open back legs in a way that showed pure contentment. The cat’s head was just visible over the top of the table, and Hoya stared at him with his round blue eyes as he watched his friend quickly glancing between his tablet screen and notebook for a minute.

 

“Do you do this all of the time?” Jimin asked to break their momentary silence, as Minji brought their coffees to their table for them.

 

“Not all of the time, mostly when I’m stressed - thanks,” Yoongi explained, as he looked up at him and shot Minji a quick smile. “Cats are very calming, it’s a psychological fact, look it up on Naver. They reduce stress and anxiety, especially when you stroke ‘em. I find that coming here really helps me unwind sometimes. Hoya’s my fave stress reliever, look at him.”

 

Yoongi glanced down at the cat, and Hoya looked right back up at him as he gave his tail a hard swish.

 

“That big fat face of his; how could I feel grumpy looking at that, huh?” Yoongi almost cooed, the sound making Jimin smile fondly as he nursed his coffee. “Before I met you, this was a great place to spend time when I was working, y’know? Being alone in the apartment can get to me sometimes, so, coming here meant that I’d company. Sure, the cats don’t talk back to me, but I used to feel better just spending time with ‘em here.”

 

“What about your crew, Yoongi? Don’t you spend time with them?”

 

Jimin had noticed the fact that Yoongi didn’t see them too often unless he was at the clubs, something that he had thought about often but had never thought to ask. Not many of his crew members showed up at Flow, but he knew that he had been helping them with production and mixing on and off between his own projects, for he had seen their Twitter interactions and had glanced at sheets of lyrics on his desk in handwriting that wasn’t Yoongi’s.

 

“Yeah, I mean, sometimes,” Yoongi replied after taking a quick sip of coffee. “But that’s like…music time, y’know - performing, producing, stuntin’ with ‘em. It’s a different kinda…vibe, one that takes a lot of energy. Sometimes, I grab a coffee with the girls, but usually we’re too busy.”

 

“Then, why didn’t you take me here earlier, Yoongi? So that you could spend time with the cats, because you like it so much?” Jimin asked curiously, before taking a quick sip of the latte. It was creamy and smooth on his tongue, just how he liked it.

 

“Well, I was spending time with you,” Yoongi replied in a quiet voice, as he glanced between his tablet and Hoya rather than look up at him. “I mean, at first, we didn’t talk too much, but I liked it. I liked just knowing that you were there when I spun around in my chair, or hearing you humming along to a song through my headphones.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Mmm, I didn’t feel lonely when you started showing up every couple of nights,” Yoongi said, as he finally looked up at him. “Then, we started talking more and you brought over your bag of shit so that you could start crashing in my bed, and I just…”

 

“You just what, Yoongi?”

 

Yoongi made a soft noise under his breath that sounded a bit like a laugh, placing his cup of coffee down and reaching up to rub at the back of his neck. On his lap, Hoya yawned loudly, flashing his rough pink tongue at them both, and Jimin waited with almost baited breath for him to continue.

 

“I dunno, it just made me feel really happy, Jimin,” he admitted in a quiet voice. “A part of me was, like, happy that we were friends and that you wanted to spend time with me and learn shit about music; and another part of me was just thinking…maybe?”

 

“Maybe?”

 

“Maybe you were, y’know, like…me,” Yoongi confided in that same quiet voice, his gaze shifting to look across the café, just to make sure that they weren’t attracting too much attention. “Maybe I wasn’t praying for some fucking miracle to happen.”

 

Jimin stared at his friend from over the rim of his cup, playing his words over in his mind as he did so. It was so strange hearing Yoongi saying these things, because it was almost as if he was reading his mind aloud. All of the time that he had spent wondering if Yoongi had really been giving out signals, or if he had just been hoping that that was the case because he had wanted him to; all of the quick glances at him through the bedroom doorway when he had been napping on the sofa and he had been unable to sleep; Yoongi was peering into his own intimate thoughts, and it made him tighten his hold around the milky pink cup.

 

“I was scared asking you to come to a café with me, ‘cos I know that cafés are hotspots for couples. I mean, I ain’t even gotta say the word ‘date’ if it’s a café, it’s that obvious why I’d wanna go to one with you. I guess that I was scared that you’d say no, that you weren’t like me.”

 

“Oh, Yoongi…” Jimin sighed, watching his friend fidgeting with his earphone anxiously. “I should’ve said something to you, way back when we first started…um, getting close. I shouldn’t have left it hanging in the air like that when I could sense that you couldn’t pluck up the courage, but I guess that I was a little bit scared too. I’ve never…well, I’ve been on dozens of dates with girls when I was a kid - hand-holding, kisses, all of that shit. But never with a guy…”

 

Yoongi was still playing with his earphone, nibbling on his lower lip in a way that was hard to read. It might have been nerves or contemplation, but Jimin sensed that he had to lighten the atmosphere somehow, just to put him at ease.

 

“It’s kinda funny, when you think about it. We both wanted to say something, we both knew that we were…interested, but we just kept stalling like idiots!”

 

Jimin let out a laugh at this, and he was glad to see that his friend’s lips also twitched at the corners in amusement. It let him know that he was just a little bit nervous talking to him about these things, which made perfect sense. Behind his smiles and confident actions, Jimin could feel his own heart pounding a little faster than usual in his chest because of their current conversation.

 

“But, Yoongi?”

 

Jimin placed his coffee down so that he could reach over the table, dropping his hand on top of Yoongi’s so that he could hold onto him for a moment. His skin was cool against his warm palm, and he squeezed hold of his hand and felt his fingers twitching underneath his.

 

Yoongi looked up sharply at the contact, his gaze quickly scanning the closest tables just to make sure that no one could see them, and Jimin found himself wishing that he would stop doing that, even when he knew that it was a foolish wish.

 

Yoongi was too used to monitoring himself when he was in public to stop doing so now, for he only seemed to relax from his touch when they were in his apartment room or alone together in the M&M. Hell, he hid their hands underneath his jacket when they were on the subway just so no one would stare at them and be tempted to say something to them, because he was so scared of being angrily confronted over such innocent behaviour.

 

“I wanna be here with you today, in this café, and I wanna go to every single one in Jongno-gu with you,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, leaning closer to him over the table so that his friend didn’t need to worry about anyone overhearing. “I told you that night, when we were working on my single - I’m different too, just like you. I didn’t know how else to say it exactly, but I wanted you to know even back then.”

 

Yoongi finally held his gaze, and even when he was nervous, Jimin could see something in his rounded eyes that made his heart skip a beat in his chest.

 

“Don’t be scared of asking me to go to cafés with you, or restaurants or museums, or wherever the hell you wanna go, because I’ll come with you. OK?” Jimin promised, giving his hand another squeeze again and feeling him turning it over so that he could hold onto him just like he had in the restaurant. “Even when we’re busy working and we’re tired of singing and sitting in front of glowing screens for hours on end, I’ll always follow you to the nearest place that sells coffee, Yoongi. If it’s a fucking 7-Eleven, I’ll still go, I don’t care.”

 

This remark made Yoongi guffaw softly under his breath, his free hand grabbing hold of his coffee so that he could use it as a prop and look casual to any wandering eyes that might look over at them.

 

“You’re my crew, remember? Just me and you, ready to cause trouble,” Jimin joked with another quick hand squeeze.

 

But when he went to let go, Yoongi surprised him by holding on tight.

 

“Jimin, I…uh, I kinda wanna be more than that,” his friend said in a whisper-soft voice. “I wanna be part of your crew, ‘cos goddamn, you’ve been part of mine since that first night at the club. But I wanna be…something more than that.”

 

“OK then, D-boy. You can be…my boy?”

 

Yoongi made the most softest sound at this suggestion, a little moan escaping his slack lips before he managed to press them together and mute the sound.

 

“Do you like that?”

 

“Yeah, I-I love it,” Yoongi said with a shy smile, his lips quivering at the corners until he placed his coffee down and covered his mouth with his fingers. “Shit, my head feels all funny again. You’re gonna make me crash if you keep acting like this, Jimin.”

 

“Hmm, my boy,” Jimin said with a soft smile. “Does that mean that I’m your boy too, Yoongi?”

 

Fuck yeah,” he retorted with his usual slurred English, which made them both start laughing giddily - staring strangers be damned. “Yeah, you’re…you’re my boy, Jimin.”

 

Yoongi gave his hand another firm squeeze, and then he turned back to his tablet to check the screen. He moved to grab his headphones and plugged them into the jack first, before shoving one into his ear.

 

“Hang on, I just gotta listen to something, but it’ll only take me a couple of minutes; I promise,” he muttered, as he fixed them both in place and then hit his screen several times. “Then I can submit this stupid composition at least.”

 

“Sure thing, take all of the time that you need,” Jimin said with a nod, watching him closing his eyes and then looking down at the cat on his lap.

 

Hoya looked content right now, his eyes half-lidded and his ears twitching softly as he received tummy strokes from the other man.

 

Looking at the cat was enough to make him want to grab his own one, to place it down on his knee and stroke it whilst he enjoyed his coffee. He spotted Betty, the curious black and white cat from before, yet when he got out of his seat and attempted to pick her up, she trotted off across the café to leave him hanging like a fool. Jimin turned to watch him go before looking back at Minji, giving her a rather pitiful expression.

 

“Have you ever owned a cat before?” she asked curiously, as she cut into a cake and transferred a piece onto a plate.

 

“No, I’ve never had a pet before, even as a kid,” he replied honestly, glancing over at the two tabby kittens and wondering if he should attempt to pick one of them up instead.

 

“What we usually recommend is that customers let the cats come to them, instead of pursuing the cats,” Minji explained, as she gestured at a poster on the wall that seemingly advertised the do’s and dont’s of the establishment. “Some cats can be intimidated by forced interactions, but…do you see that cat over there? The white one?”

 

Jimin turned to follow her gesture, looking across the café to see that the very fluffy and large white cat perched on top of one of the furry shelves that had been napping earlier.

 

“Uhuh?”

 

“That’s Jinju, and she’s a very friendly cat,” Minji explained. “If you approach her, she’ll probably let you play with her, no problem.”

 

“Seriously?” he asked in surprise, turning to look back at her, and she nodded at him.

 

So Jimin crossed the café to get to the cat, hunkering down in front of the shelf to look at her. Jinju studied him with her blue almond eyes rather lazily, and when he moved to try and pick her up, she let him do so without so much as a hard swish of her fat tail. Jimin cupped her back legs in one hand, holding onto her ribs with the other to cradle her comfortably, and the cat rumbled happily as he carried her back over to their table and set her down on his lap. She settled down happily, stretching out over his thighs and dropping her head onto her paws to resume her nap, and he was finally able to sink his fingers into her plush fur and stroke it.

 

Yoongi tugged his earphones free after a couple of minutes, and as he did so, he caught sight of the cat that was still lying in his lap. He smiled at him as he retrieved his coffee, clearly pleased that he had passed his cat café initiation test and had selected one of them as his favourite.

 

“Ah, she’s so soft, Yoongi!” he remarked, as he resumed stroking at her thick fur. “It feels so nice touching her.”

 

“I told you so,” his friend said as he rifled through his papers quickly. “Uh, lemme see…I’ve got a couple of tracks to type up, lyrics wise, and a bunch of corrections too. I got some compositions to submit, and a demo track for some rookie group, so…gimme maybe thirty minutes, Jimin? I’m gonna have this shit done by then, and then we can have some food, yeah?”

 

“OK, I’ll play with the cats until then.”

 

Just like he had estimated, Yoongi managed to complete all of his essential deadlines in just thirty minutes, because he worked so fast. In that time, Jimin did indeed attempt to play with the cats, in the form of a stick toy with a colourful plush dragonfly dangling from a string, and a handful of biscuit treats that had the tabby kittens (who were called Moomoo and Looloo for some strange reason), Jinju, and the ginger and white bobtail called Bobby, to flock to him for strokes and attention. Hoya just snaffled his own serving of treats from Yoongi’s palm rather than move off his lap, for he was clearly too comfortable.

 

Jimin was able to snap several photographs and record a few videos of them playing, which went straight onto Twitter and had his female followers retweeting and liking at the speed of light. He made sure to not post anything that had Yoongi present online, but he did still take a couple of photographs of him just for himself.

 

“Shit,” Yoongi grunted, as he stretched his stiff fingers until they cracked loudly. “I’m done, nothing left to submit for a whole week. I’m free and- no wait…I ain’t free.”

 

“Hmm? How come?” Jimin asked with a tug on the stick toy, Moomoo trying his very hardest to grab at the dragonfly with his mouth open wide to flash his needle-thin teeth.

 

“Your single,” his friend explained, as he pulled at his beanie hat and then rubbed at his nose roughly. “I gotta work on that, but that ain’t nothing to worry about. I got that shit down, Jimin.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah, I already got several ideas for the whole thing,” Yoongi stated confidently with a quick glance over at the counter. “You ready to order something to eat, huh?”

 

“Yes! I’m starving, Yoongi!” he exclaimed, placing the toy down and letting the two kittens attack it relentlessly.

 

Jimin followed him over to the counter, so that he could check the boards and see what they sold in the café. There was a random assortment of desserts, mostly, but there were also some bread-based orders too, which he found his gaze settling on first. But because he wasn’t wearing his glasses, he could only squint at the board and hope to read it correctly.

 

“The stuffed french toast sounds amazing. Um, what’re the options? Sorry, I can’t see them from here.”

 

“We have two savoury options: ham, mushroom and cream cheese, or a vegetable and cheese one, if you don’t eat meat. Also, there’s sweet options with chocolate or jam?” Minju explained, hovering her pencil over her notebook and waiting for him to place an order.

 

“Oh, they all sound so nice!” Jimin sighed, which made her laugh heartily. “Yoongi, are you gonna order one?”

 

“Yeah, the ham one.”

 

“Then, we should order one of each and share them, right?”

 

“Mmm, good idea.”

 

“What about dessert?”

 

“The honey toast’s the best thing you can buy as a dessert,” Yoongi stated without a hint of hesitation. “Which I’m gonna order, of course, with an iced caramel macchiato.”

 

“OK, then I’ll order…the chocolate fondant with green tea mochi, and an iced honey tea.”

 

“OK, I’ll bring your orders too you as soon as they’re prepared,” Minju said with a friendly smile. “Until then, have fun playing with the cats and be sure to promote us online if you’re happy with your service.”

 

“I already have,” Jimin replied, as he grabbed another small handful of cat treats and followed Yoongi back over to their table.

 

It took fifteen minutes until their order was ready, and Minju brought it to them on a tray and placed everything down for them.

 

“Remember, though the cats might seem interested in your food, please don’t feed them anything,” she said, as she finished placing down the iced drinks and then added Yoongi’s ham and mushroom bread. The scent was enough to make Hoya stare at it, his pink nose twitching hard as he eyed up the snack. “Especially not Hoya! He’s on a diet!”

 

“Sorry, buddy,” Yoongi muttered, as he looked down at the cat. “That sucks.”

 

Jimin laughed at this as Minju added his own stuffed french toast to the table, and then his dessert order of fondant. It was a thick mound of chocolate cream that had been set into a mould so that it looked like a cat head, and white chocolate had been piped onto it to give it eyes and whiskers; and the mochi was also shaped like cat heads.

 

Yoongi’s order of honey toast was surprisingly large, for Jimin saw that it wasn’t two slices of thin bread, but rather a large cube of bread that had been slathered in honey and gently baked to a golden consistency, and then hollowed out and stuffed with fruit and cream. There was a little slab of chocolate shaped like a cat head sitting on top of a mound of the cream for a garnish, and Jimin had to admit that it looked good.

 

Alongside the food and drinks, there was also two cleansing hand wipes for them to use after they had finished playing with the cats. So Jimin tore the sachet open and pulled it free, quickly wiping his hands down with the sweetly scented wipe so that he could start eating, because he just had to sample a bit of everything. His first bite of the vegetable and cheese stuffed toast made him almost moan, and Yoongi snorted laughter as he wiped at his own hands thoroughly.

 

“So, when’re you gonna start working on my single, hmm?” Jimin asked, as he tore a chunk of the toast free and held it out to him in offering.

 

Yoongi accepted it with his mouth, quickly chewing the mouthful so that he could reply whilst Jimin took another large bite of the steaming hot toast.

 

“I’m gonna start working on it tonight,” he said, running his tongue around mouth and then grabbing his coffee. “‘Cos I ain’t gonna sleep after last night.”

 

“Hyuk’s launch party’s tonight, Yoongi,” Jimin pointed out around his own mouthful of bread, hastily licking at the flaky pastry that was stuck to his lips. “Are you still coming with me, or do you think that you’ll be too busy?”

 

“Oh shit, yeah,” his friend mumbled, as he stopped sipping at his iced coffee. “I almost forgot, Jimin. What time’s the party?”

 

“Uh, I think it’s an all-nighter, but he told me to show around 11…11:30. I’m not staying all night, I can’t, it’ll mess with my singing lessons, but I’m gonna go for a little while. Yeah? No?”

 

“Uh…” Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips, taking a moment to think it all over before replying. “Yeah?”

 

“You don’t sound very certain,” Jimin remarked, as his friend grabbed his own serving of toast and took a huge bite; cheeking it and huffing stream out of his mouth hard. “Are you sure, Yoongi?”

 

“Uhuh, of course I am,” Yoongi agreed with a nod, tearing a chunk of toast free and holding it out for him to sample. “Why wouldn’t I be, huh?”

 

As Jimin moved to accept the chunk of ham and mushroom toast from his fingers, he thought about the conversation that he had overheard him and Andre having that afternoon in the recording booth. The one about how much Yoongi hated the Black Pearl nightclub and how he should avoid going in there because of the kind of guys that frequented the club. Yet, Yoongi was completely oblivious to the fact that he had heard this conversation, and he clearly thought that he was clueless about the issue.

 

Should he say something, or should he just leave it?

 

“OK,” he said in a quiet voice. “It’s only for a little while, right?”

 

Yoongi hummed around around his mouthful of bread, and Jimin couldn’t help but notice the fact that he avoided holding his eye-contact as he did so.

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin tugged the navy pullover on first and foremost, feeling the thin cotton draping from his shoulders as he pulled down on the ends and then started rolling up the sleeves. It was loose on his frame, but it clung to him in all of the right places, like his slight shoulders so that the smooth cotton was pulled slightly taut over his chest and biceps. When he paired it with fitted trousers, it also made the pullover pull in around his waist snugly too, which he liked a lot. It might just be his favourite look from his current wardrobe of choice - which wasn’t exactly large considering the fact that he was choosing from whatever he had shoved inside of Yoongi’s wardrobe.

 

Jimin reached up to brush his hair back out of his eyes as he retrieved a pair of his trousers from the wardrobe, catching sight of Yoongi in the reflection in the slide glass door. His boyfriend had his phone in hand, and he was currently scrolling with his thumb as he presumably checked his Twitter feed as he lounged on the bed. It was kind of funny looking at the other man and thinking such a thing, but after their conversation in the café just several hours ago, it was the only thing to think.

 

Yoongi…his boyfriend.

 

The thought was enough to make Jimin’s heart skip a beat in his chest as he stepped into his trousers and pulled them up to his hips, because it felt so good in a way that he didn’t quite understand right now. As he slipped a belt through his trouser loops, he wasn’t at all surprised to find that he was smiling to himself.

 

“You’re getting dressed up, huh?” Yoongi remarked, as he watched him tucking the ends of his pullover down his trousers with a great interest.

 

The other man was already dressed in his usual hip hop kid attire of torn jeans, an oversized tee-shirt, and a plain black Stüssy hoodie underneath his 10.Deep jacket. All that was missing were his sneakers, which were waiting for him at the door, and he even had his snapback tugged on backwards too.

 

“Well, you see, Yoongi, you’re supposed to go to press events in clothes that you don’t sleep in,” Jimin said, as he finished securing his belt in place, which made his friend guffaw loudly. “That wasn’t a joke, I was being serious.”

 

“Dressing up ain’t me, Jimin,” Yoongi retorted, turning his head to stare up at the ceiling. “If I ain’t comfortable in my clothes, I ain’t comfortable in my skin.”

 

“Hmm, that’s deep,” he said sarcastically, as he fixed his sleeves and the neck of the pullover and he checked his reflection in the glass door. “It’s also a great excuse, Yoongi.”

 

Satisfied with how he looked, Jimin moved to push the door aside so that he could eye the interior of the wardrobe, looking at the hook on which several chains and necklaces were hanging. Yoongi owned a great deal of gold chains in varying widths, from thin to thick, but he usually only wore a single thin chain around his neck when he was at the clubs. Tonight, however, he was wearing three such chains of varying consistency, and he couldn’t help but wonder how much exactly those chains had cost.

 

Jimin moved to run his fingers over several of them, before he located a thin necklace chain that had a cross charm on it, and he slipped it off the hook and ran it over his fingers so that he could study the charm intently. It would match his earrings, and so he decided that he was going to borrow it for the evening, because he was certain that Yoongi wouldn’t mind at all. He had never seen him wearing it, after all. So he undone the clasp and reached around to fasten it in place, only to struggle to do secure it again.

 

“Can you help me out?” he requested, glancing at the other man in the mirror. “I can’t find the stupid clasp.”

 

“Yeah, hang on.”

 

Yoongi shifted to climb off his bed so that he could stand behind him, and he took hold of the necklace chain, quickly securing it in place for him.

 

Jimin reached up to touch the little cross, which dangled just below the bump of his collarbones, and he gave Yoongi a quick smile in thanks as he looked at his reflection in the mirror.

 

“Yeah?” he asked, as he touched the cross again.

 

“Mmm, you just stole another thing of mine right in front of me, didn’t you?” Yoongi joked, placing his hands on his shoulders and then slowly slipping them down to hold onto his biceps.

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin hummed with a quick smirk, hearing his boyfriend laughing softly as he planted his chin on his shoulder and studied their reflections in the glass door. “If you’ve got any rings, hide them now, because if I find them, you’ll never get them back, Yoongi.”

 

“It’s OK, they ain’t gonna fit your fingers.”

 

“I’ll make them fit,” he retorted childishly. “What time’s it?”

 

“Right now? Uh…10:24?”

 

The train ride to get to Gangnam-gu would take them just over 30 minutes, but Jimin didn’t want to get there too early. That meant that he still had time to finish getting ready without rushing too much; to apply some makeup and style his hair before they left for the night. Yoongi was already ready to go the moment that he was, so there was no need to worry about that.

 

Jimin gently shrugged his hands off his arms so that he could go into the bathroom and retrieve his makeup. He carried it back into the bedroom, sitting down on the bed and spreading the various tubes, pots and pencils down onto the covers. Whilst he smoothed BB cream over his cheeks and added a light dusting of powder, Yoongi moved to join him on the bed, and his boyfriend made no move to grab his phone, but rather watched him instead.

 

Jimin could sense that there was something on his mind, that he wanted to say something to him but he was hesitating in doing so. It was probably related to the launch party, but Jimin had tried gently prodding the answer out of him all afternoon long, only for him to tell him that it was fine and that he wanted to go to the club with him. If he asked him about it again, he was no doubt going to react the exact same way.

 

So Jimin just held his tongue as he ringed his eyes with eyeliner and then proceeded to add a hint of shadow too.

 

“You know, one of these days, I’m gonna do your makeup, Yoongi,” Jimin said, as he finished applying the eyeshadow and gave him a wide smile. “It can be our thing, yeah, when we’re promoting that killer track of ours. I’ll do your makeup for all of those smokey club promotion stages, so you’ll look good for the cameras, hmm?”

 

“You can do it right now, if you want to?” Yoongi suggested in a quiet voice.

 

“Seriously?” Jimin asked, as he lowered the brush and compact mirror and stared at him in surprise.

 

“Yeah, just not anything…too obvious, y’know?” he mumbled, giving the back of his neck a rough rub. “I don’t need guys chatting more shit about me than they usually do.”

 

“Hmm, don’t worry, I’ll go natural on you,” he promised, as he grabbed the eyeliner pencil. “Besides, this is really all that you need, Yoongi. Your skin’s so nice you don’t have to cover any shit up, not like me.”

 

Jimin got on his knees and he shuffled until he was right in front of him, cupping his chin with his fingers and gently tilting his head back.

 

Yoongi closed his eyes first, so that he could apply it to his upper eyelid, and so Jimin wet the tip of the pencil on his tongue and he leaned closer to him. He didn’t want to go too slow and drag the pencil too much, but he had also never applied eyeliner on anyone but himself, and so he was worried that he might make a mistake. Luckily for him, he was able to apply it to his right eye smoothly, and he moved onto the second; holding his breath in an effort to keep his hand steady.

 

“You nervous, Jimin?” Yoongi asked in a quiet voice, almost as if he could sense the slightest shaking in his fingers that were cupping his chin.

 

“I’m a little nervous, yeah,” Jimin admitted in a quiet voice, as he finished applying the eyeliner to his left eye. “Who wouldn’t be nervous, knowing that there’s gonna be a bunch of press photographers and idols there?”

 

“It’s all for show, Jimin, it ain’t nothing to worry about,” Yoongi replied, as he opened his eyes and looked up at him through his eyelashes. “It’s a special night for you, so, don’t think about whoever else’s gonna be there.”

 

“I know,” Jimin mumbled, sitting down on his heels and angling his wrist so that he could gently smear a hint of eyeliner in the corner crease of his eyelid. “I’m trying to not worry, but it’s hard.”

 

“You’re gonna look great out there tonight,” Yoongi said, his eyes rolling upwards as the pencil grazed against his lower lid. “You’re gonna attract a lot of attention, but that’s what you want, Jimin. You want all eyes on you, it’s how y’know you’re a star; yeah?”

 

“Hmm, are you gonna hold my hand though?” he asked, using his song lyrics jokingly and making his boyfriend smile softly.

 

“Been holding onto it since day one, Jimin,” Yoongi said in a soft voice.

 

“What do you think about the club, Yoongi? I’ve heard that it’s crazy, ” Jimin remarked, as he recapped the eyeliner pencil and studied his work to find that it was pretty good. “I’ve never been inside though, because it’s a DJ set and they don’t have performers like the hip hop clubs do.”

 

“I, uh, I hate it in there, Jimin,” Yoongi mumbled, staring at his dangling necklace chain instead of holding his gaze. “That’s the truth, but I’m going with you tonight ‘cos I know that you want me to be there, OK?”

 

“OK, but why do you hate it? Did something happen in there, Yoongi? Something between you and another crew?”

 

“It, uh, it just reminds me of some club back in Daegu that I hated,” he admitted, as he rubbed at his nose roughly. “I got bad blood in that club, so, I don’t like going to Black Pearl ‘cos it reminds me of it.”

 

“It’s got nothing to do with the crews up here?” Jimin asked again, just wanting his boyfriend to confirm that that was the case. “You aren’t having a feud with Murda Crew, right?”

 

“Pft,” Yoongi snorted, his lips splitting in an amused grin. “Nah, no feuds, Jimin. I told you, it just reminds me of Daegu and my, uh, my old crew. That’s all.”

 

Jimin thought this over for a moment, and then he moved to give Yoongi a soft kiss in the corner of his mouth. The other man sighed at the contact and reached up to place his hand against his neck, holding him close but making no move to give him another kiss. Yoongi held onto him for a minute or so before lowering his hand again and checking his watch.

 

“You ready to go, huh?”

 

“Hmm, yeah, let’s go.”

 

Over the duration of the subway journey to Gangnam-gu, Jimin could feel an eddy of nervousness starting to swell in his belly, and Yoongi didn’t look to be feeling much better than him - though he was uncomfortable for completely different reasons. He knew that there was nothing to really be worried about, because it was just a launch party in a club over drinks and mingling, but it was the first launch party that he had ever been to, and he couldn’t help but worry because of this fact. He was just going to need to keep the drinking to a minimum to stay tipsy and friendly, just to ensure that he didn’t get drunk and make a fool of himself in front of everyone, and he was going to have to stay close to Yoongi just to keep an eye on him. If his boyfriend showed enough signs that said that he wanted to leave, he would be sure to politely excuse himself so that they could do so.

 

Upon leaving the subway, they had to walk several blocks until they located the club. The exterior of Black Pearl looked like every other nightclub in the capital, save for the fact that there was a queue that stretched right across the block.

 

Jimin had never seen such a queue before, especially not at this hour, for a lot of people should have already have been let inside. But the fact that Hyuk’s launch party was being hosted tonight might just have explained the queue. It was clear that regular patrons were also going to be allowed inside of the club, just a reduced number so that it didn’t get too crowded inside.

 

As they drew closer to the entrance doors, Jimin couldn’t help but notice that there was a man walking up and down the queue; eyeing the people waiting and staring at the women for longer than considered polite.

 

“Who’s the creep, Yoongi?” Jimin asked in a quiet voice.

 

“He ain’t a creep, he’s an agent, Jimin. He’s letting all of the pretty ones inside first,” Yoongi explained, as they watched the man scanning the queue of people waiting on the curb. “There’s gonna be a lot of photographers inside the club, so, they want the sexiest girls possible to make the event look even hotter. It’s pretty much standard for all of these events. It’s a good thing that we’re on the list, right?”

 

Jimin laughed at this joke as they passed the queue, feeling countless pairs of eyes staring at their backs as they did so. There was a bouncer on the door, armed with a clipboard and a headset, and he glanced up at them and then moved to block the doors.

 

“Name?”

 

Jimin paused at this question because he was caught by complete surprise, but after a couple of seconds he managed to speak.

 

“Jimin, Park Jimin,” he replied, watching the bouncer hastily scanning the clipboard to find his name on the list of guests.

 

Jimin couldn’t believe that he was having his name checked on the guest list for a launch party, for Andre’s launch party. It was so crazy that he could feel the most overwhelming urge to grin washing over him, but he managed to curb the urge and not look too eager.

 

“Yeah, you’re on the list,” the bouncer said as he glanced up at them, his gaze settling on Yoongi. “You?”

 

“D-boy, I probably ain’t on the list ‘cos Hyuk thought I’d be too busy but-”

 

“No, you’re on the list,” the bouncer interjected. “Right at the top with him.”

 

The man moved aside to let them enter the club, and Jimin glanced back over his shoulder at Yoongi to see that he looked surprised by this fact. He might just have been hoping that he wasn’t on the list, but Hyuk had been sure to include him just in case he decided to show up. So he gently tugged him through the doors so that they could go down the staircase and enter the club at last.

 

Jimin quickly realised why Black Pearl was so popular when he caught sight on the mounted podiums that were placed all over the interior dance floor. There were women on the podiums, some dancing with chairs, some wrapped around poles, and they were all clad in bikinis and miniskirts and towering high heels.

 

Jimin was shocked by the sight of the dancers, until he quickly realised that they weren’t strippers. No, they were dancing to the pounding hip hop coming from the speakers because they were clearly there to keep up the hype and entertain the patrons - gogo dancers. Though some men were crowded around the podiums watching and recording them on their phones, the dancers were largely ignored by most of the clubbers, because they were far too busy dancing right in front of the massive DJ deck.

 

Yoongi had to guide him across the club to get to the VIP booths because he couldn’t locate them, forcibly dragging him by the wrist in his haste to get away from the chaos on the dance floor. Jimin didn’t need to see his face to know that he was grimacing, because he could sense the discomfort coming from him in waves. He wasn’t feeling very comfortable either, being surrounded by countless strangers in the packed and hot club, but he had a feeling that that wasn’t the reason why his boyfriend was so uncomfortable right now.

 

Yoongi pulled him up another small set of stairs to get to the booths, on which another bouncer was standing in front of a red velvet rope that he lifted to let them pass through and enter the private area.

 

The VIP lounge was set above the dance floor, filled with tables and sofas and a stretch of bar. The blue walls were lit by deep purple and pink neon lights, which cast off the black leather seats and glass tables. On most of the tables, there were ice buckets that had had bottles of champagne in them, though most had been popped open so that the guests could knock back the free drinks first. The bar might just have been free for the night too, because Hyuk sure as hell could afford it. Between the tables, there were tall potted plants placed here and there, and they looked like the perfect spots for people to dump cigarette butts and lean over and vomit in; the thought bringing a grimace to his face.

 

The lounge was packed with so many people that Jimin found himself running his eyes over faces that he didn’t recognise at all. He saw professional cameras dangling around necks, saw cocktail glasses and cigarettes in hand because the lounge was a smoking area, and he was so desperately hoping to see Hyuk nestled away in the crowd just so he could greet him for the night and let him know that he had showed up. Before he could do so, however, he caught sight of a rather familiar face just a few feet away, and Jimin turned his head just in time to lock eyes with the female MC.

 

Oh my god!” Queen Bae cried out in English, clapping her hands to her rather ample bosom as she stared at them. “D showed up! He actually showed up!”

 

“Yeah, honey, I’m here to ruin all of the good vibes, just like always,” Yoongi joked with a wry smile.

 

Queen Bae raced over to them so that she could give his friend a welcome embrace, and Yoongi allowed her to do so; placing his hands on her elbows respectfully rather than sling them around her waist. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before breaking the embrace and turning her head to look at him, her golden crescent moon earrings dangling like crazy around her cropped hair.

 

“Who is this cutie, D?” she asked, giving him a quick look up and down before flashing him a friendly smile. “He’s stylish, I like him already.”

 

“Jimin, Park Jimin,” Yoongi explained, as he let go of her elbows. “You might’ve heard of him, he’s-”

 

“That new singer, yeah, the one all over your Twitter these days,” Queen Bae interjected, looking between them both with a knowing smirk. “Talk about obvious…”

 

“Huh?” his friend hummed, lifting his eyebrows high enough to graze against the edge of his snapback.

 

“It’s lovely to meet you, Park,” she said, ignoring Yoongi’s confused look in favour of moving over to him with her arms already open in preparation for an embrace. “You’re the lucky boy that netted a feature with Andre, right? I can’t wait to hear the song, he keeps bragging about how good it is.”

 

“Uhuh, that’s me,” he agreed, as he let her give him a quick embrace. “You’ll get to hear it tonight when it’s released, so, be sure to buy it and you can listen to it all you want.”

 

“Oh! Forget like, I love him, D!” Queen Bae declared with one of her characteristic cackling laughs. “He’s already a pro at hustling and you’ve only known him, what…a month?”

 

“Almost two months,” Yoongi corrected with a smile. “He was a pro hustler already, I ain’t taught him nothing.”

 

“OK, so, enough talking,” she said, moving to get between them both and slipping her arms around their shoulders. “Come join us at our table, yeah? There’s champagne, drinks on the house; RM’s just ordered a tray of shots and-”

 

“RM’s here?” Yoongi asked, as his crewmate gently guided them across the lounge in the direction of a corner booth. “Wait, who’s here tonight, honey?”

 

“Everyone’s here tonight, D!” Queen Bae declared, and Jimin could sense that she was more excited than she was drunk, for though she was buzzing, she was still very steady on her feet. “OK, so, not everyone from the crew. But still: me, RM, Kimmy, Jay Jay are here, and there’s so many other rappers here too. Blackstar, Top Gun, Rhymez; I’m losing track of the guys!”

 

“Damn, Hyuk’s flexin’ tonight,” Yoongi remarked, his voice almost lost under the pounding music coming from across the club.

 

Queen Bae escorted them over to a booth that was right up against the far wall, one with padded leather benches and a low glass table covered in flutes, buckets of champagne and a tray of shots, along with purses, phones and packets of cigarettes.

 

Jimin saw that the other female rapper, Kimmy, was present; wearing a tube black dress and boot heels, her bobbed hair sleek and bouncy. There was just another man at the table, however, instead of two, and he could have been either one of the crew members that she had mentioned.

 

“Look who showed up tonight, guys!” she announced, letting go of their arms and grabbing a champagne bottle to pour the remains into the glasses.

 

“Whoa, didn’t expect to see you tonight, D,” the male rapper remarked with a grin, breathing cigarette smoke out of his nose as he did so.

 

D-boy’s in the house!” Kimmy exclaimed, as she lifted a shot glass to them and then knocked it back hard.

 

“Hey,” Yoongi muttered with a nod, as he accepted his glass of champagne from Queen Bae.

 

“Where’s Jay Jay, huh?” she asked, holding another glass out to him too, which Jimin accepted with a quick smile.

 

“Chasing after some idol he saw,” the other man replied, which told Jimin that he was RM. “Well, he thinks he saw. I told him that it was just a girl that looked like Yoona, and not actually Yoona. Either way, he still ran off after her.”

 

Queen Bae sighed theatrically as this as, rolling her eyes in a way that seemed to show that this was completely expected behaviour.

 

“I wanna go down and watch the girls!” Kimmy declared suddenly, as she got off the bench and awkwardly climbed to her feet in a way that showed that she was pretty drunk. She had to wrench down on her dress to fix it, because she was flashing an outrageous amount of thigh, and then she grabbed a glass from the table. “They look fun, hey, Queen, come…come watch the girls with me! They look fun!”

 

“OK, OK, we’ll go watch the girls,” Queen Bae said, as she gently pulled the champagne glass out of Kimmy’s hand and put it back down on the table. She slipped her arm around the other woman’s waist to support her and twinkled her fingers at them in a wave. “Have fun, boys.”

 

Yoongi gestured for him to sit down first, so Jimin moved to sit on the far end of the padded bench, and then he sat down beside him and eyed his glass of champagne.

 

Jimin thought about how he had been able to handle three such glasses of champagne just yesterday evening, but he didn’t think that his boyfriend was going to be able to handle that much tonight. Whatever the case, he drained the glass in several deep swallows and then placed it down so that he could pull his cigarettes and lighter out of his jacket pocket.

 

“Hey, you doing alright, RM?” Yoongi asked, as he flicked the packet open and pulled a stick free with his teeth.

 

“You know it,” RM replied in a rather mellowed out voice, his tone deep and pleasing to listen to.

 

Jimin glanced across the table at the other rapper seeing a young-looking man with richly tanned skin and a head full of platinum dyed hair that contrasted against his all-black clothing. He had thin eyes that looked intelligent, a gentle slope of a nose, and full lips that were pursed around a cigarette, and he thought that he looked pretty genuine. There were no shades present, no grills or visible tattoos that he could see on his hands or neck, and he was dressed pretty casually too: in a pair of black jeans and a Puma pullover.

 

“I got a pretty funny story, actually.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah, you’re in pretty high demand right now, D, because they want you on the new season of ‘show me the money’.”

 

“Show me the money? Pft, nah, it ain’t my style, y’know that,” Yoongi muttered, as he sparked a light and held it in front of his cigarette; the end smouldering. He inhaled quickly to set it alight and breathed the hint of smoke out his nose before reaching up to pull the cigarette free from his lips. “Too many posers, too much scripted drama for the sake of viewer ratings. I ain’t whoring myself out on that piece of shit show, no fucking way.”

 

“I know, but they wanted you on it regardless, which’s kinda funny,” RM said, hovering his own cigarette in front of his full lips. “They wanted a rapper that hasn’t even dropped his first mixtape on the show with a bunch of idols and mainstream guys; can you believe it?”

 

“Goddamn, even Mnet’s on my dick now,” Yoongi joked before taking a drag on his cigarette, the other rapper snorting under his breath.

 

“They offered me a slot too.”

 

“…D’you, uh, take the offer?”

 

Yoongi turned his head to look at RM, breathing the smoke out of the corner of his mouth in an attempt to keep it from floating over to him, and Jimin glanced between them both to try and gauge the situation. RM might just have found his friend’s remarks about whoring himself out plain disrespectful, if he himself had decided to accept the offer to audition for the show. Or, the other rapper might very well agree with his sentiments on the matter.

 

Unlike Yoongi, however, RM had a rather genuine and easy face to read, and Jimin could see that he wasn’t offended by his statement in the slightest.

 

“I’m considering it, but I don’t think that I’ll do it. Like you said, it’s scripted, and I can’t stand several of the judges to begin with.”

 

“Oh yeah? Who they got onboard this year, huh?”

 

“Jeondongsa, that homophobic prick,” Namjoon muttered, which made Jimin swallow his mouthful of champagne hard in surprise. “Real man my arse, I never understood that shit.”

 

Yoongi snorted laughter at this as he hovered his cigarette in front of his lips, staring at the shot tray rather than look at the other rapper.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but stare at RM because his remark had caught him by complete surprise. The other man didn’t like the popular rapper because he was homophobic? Was he just saying that for the sake of it, because Yoongi was present and he might just know about his sexual proclivities? Or did RM hate him more deeply than that?

 

“By the way, when’re you going to introduce me to your friend?” RM asked, he stared back at him and made Jimin drop his gaze to look at his glass of champagne instead.

 

“Oh shit, yeah. This’ Jimin, Park Jimin,” Yoongi said, as he reached over to place a hand on his shoulder. He kept it in place for a few seconds before slipping it down his arm just like earlier, his grip squeezing firm around his bicep before he let go of his arm. “Jimin, this’ RM. He’s in my crew, remember?”

 

“Uhuh, I remember. It’s nice to meet you, RM,” Jimin said with a warm smile, which made the other rapper snort out a lungful of smoke and then pull his cigarette free.

 

“‘Nice to meet you’, damn, he’s cute!” RM declared with a wide grin. “He’s been hanging around with you all of this time and he’s still got his manners? How?!”

 

“Fuck you, man,” Yoongi drawled with his own grin, the two of them guffawing dumbly at each other in a way that showed that they got along well.

 

“Oh, but I’ve been hearing shit about you, Jimin. You’re hot right now,” RM said, as he turned his attention back to him. He stubbed his cigarette out in a tray and then grabbed his own glass of champagne to sip at it.

 

“I…I am?” Jimin asked in surprise, quickly glancing between the two rappers. “What do you mean? What kinda shit?”

 

“You got Killuh in the charts with that feature of yours, you can bet that guys in the clubs think you’re hot shit, Jimin. First that, now a feature with Andre and a solo single? Yeah, everyone’s got their eyes on you, especially because D’s been seen with you in the clubs constantly. You’ve got us all anticipating that first mixtape, D; when’s it gonna drop with his name on one of the tracks?”

 

“I, uh, I ain’t planning on having him feature on my mixtape,” Yoongi explained, as he breathed smoke out of his nose hard. “I’m planning on him singing on an official track with me, actually.”

 

“You are?” RM asked, his thick eyebrows lifting in total surprise as he looked between them both. “No shit? You told Jay Jay this?”

 

“Not yet, no,” he replied with a head shake. “But, I’m hoping to start working on it soon. We got this idea right, Jimin?”

 

“Uhuh,” Jimin agreed with a nod, picking up the thread so that he could continue talking for his boyfriend. “Me and D-boy wanna create a unit together, if my company let’s us do so. We wanna drop a mini album or something, full of material that we worked on together, but we haven’t started just yet. D-boy’s producing my next single, and he was busy finishing projects all day long.”

 

“A unit, huh? That’s…interesting,” RM remarked, as he lounged back against the bench. “They’re really popular right now for solo artists, D. A lot of singers are working on concepts together where they release a bunch of tracks and then go solo again, so, I think that it’s a pretty good idea. I’m sure that Jay Jay will think so too, once you tell him about it.”

 

“Yeah, but don’t worry about the crew, man,” Yoongi said, stubbing his own cigarette out in the tray. “No matter what, I’m still gonna help you guys out. You ain’t gotta worry about me dumping you for a company, I promise.”

 

“D, none of us would worry about such a thing because it’s never going to happen,” the other rapper said with a slight smile. “A unit with Park Jimin…goddamn, you’re hogging all of the talent for yourself, man.”

 

“Mmm, I’m a greedy fucker,” Yoongi agreed with a wry smile, moving to drop his hand onto his knee and giving it a squeeze before leaving it there.

 

Jimin noted that RM did no more than glance at this before looking up at them again, his expression not even shifting in the slightest.

 

“Speaking of mixtapes, is yours ready to drop yet, RM?”

 

“I’m probably gonna drop it next week, yeah. Why not? I’ve been stewing over it for a month now, and I keep delaying it, so, next week’s the week I’ll finally drop it.”

 

“You cut out that diss track, huh?”

 

“Yeah, I cut it out but I’m holding onto it, just in case,” RM explained with a nod. “I don’t want to fire the first shot, but if they do so, I’m ready for them.”

 

Jimin was pretty certain that the two rappers were talking about Murda Crew right now - RM’s old crew. Who else would he be dissing, after all? It seemed that Yoongi wanted him to cut it out to save causing a feud, which was a smart idea all things considered. Yoongi was already being challenged to battles in his turf by the other crew, and a diss track coming from RM could trigger even more trouble between them both.

 

“Um, this might sound strange, but what’s your real name, RM?” Jimin asked him, as he placed his empty glass down on the table and he grabbed one of the bottles of champagne to refill it. He added a splash into Yoongi’s glass too, just for the sake of it. “Or do you only go by your pseudonym?”

 

“You can call me Namjoon, if you want? No one else does, but they’re all rappers; you know?”

 

“Namjoon it is,” Jimin said with a warm smile, placing the bottle aside and grabbing his glass again. “Let’s drink to your mixtape doing well!”

 

“Alright!” Namjoon cheered, as he grabbed his flute and held it up, and so Yoongi grabbed his too so that they could all toast them together. “I’d drink to your new single doing well too, but D probably hasn’t even started it yet.”

 

This made them all laugh heartily as they swallowed swigs of the champagne, and Jimin could feel a pleasant lightness in the air that he hadn’t expected to feel tonight. He wasn’t nervous right now, even when he was surrounded by cameras and countless strangers that might just have been famous, and he could see that Yoongi was smiling as he swallowed his own mouthful of champagne.

 

Yes, the launch party was going fantastically so far, and he hoped that it would remain this light and pleasant until they left.

 

Jimin was in the act of swallowing one of the soju shots when he caught sight of Hyuk across the lounge. He was weaving his way around people with a charming smile on his handsome face, as he stopped for quick photographs and selfies with people; as every bit professional as always. Jimin watched him for a minute before he realised that he was making his way over to their table, because he must have noticed that they had showed up tonight.

 

“Bae told me that you were here,” Hyuk said, as he finally broke away from the crowd to get to their table. “I didn’t believe her at first, for obvious reasons, but then I caught sight of you from across the club and I thought I was seeing things!”

 

“Hey, Hyuk,” Yoongi said with a warm smile. “Jimin pretty much had to drag me here tonight, but it’s good. I’m glad that he did.”

 

“I’m glad that he did so too,” Hyuk said, as he dropped a hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze, which made Jimin tighten his hold around the empty shot glass in his fingers. “I’ve still gotta do the rounds and see to some more interviewers, but I’ll be back. Don’t drink all of the champagne without me, yes?”

 

Just like that, Hyuk had to cross the lounge area again to entertain more guests and the press, but the fact that he had at least seen both him and Yoongi in the club was good enough for him. That meant that their friend knew that they had shown up for the launch to support him, and that they could leave later without any problems.

 

“I’m going to go find Jay Jay too,” Namjoon said, getting to his feet and stretching his long legs before placing his champagne glass down on the table. “Hopefully, he didn’t run off with that Yoona look alike, but I’m not holding out too much hope. I’ll catch you two later, yeah?”

 

“Sure thing, brother,” Yoongi said, as he moved to hold his hand out to him - the two of them bumping their fists together hard.

 

Jimin watched the other rapper disappearing into the crowd of strangers, and then he turned to give Yoongi a happy smile because he was so excited right now.

 

“See, it’s going great, right?” he remarked, as he moved closer to him, just because he felt like he could risk the close contact in the busy club without anyone seeing them. “I think that it’s going great, Yoongi.”

 

“I’m glad you’re having so much fun, Jimin,” Yoongi said, returning the smile and squeezing hold of his knee again. “I mean, sure, I could be working on your single right now back at the apartment right now, but-”

 

“Ah! There’s plenty of time for that tomorrow!” Jimin interjected with a laugh, placing the shot glass down so that he could shift on the bench and place his arm around the back comfortably. “Seriously, we can both sit down and work on that tomorrow, right? I’ll make coffee and food and you can sit at your computer and work hard all day if you want, hmm?”

 

Yoongi shifted on the bench so that he could get closer to him at this, almost leaning against his side because he also clearly felt like they weren’t being watched too closely.

 

“I’d like that, Jimin,” he said with a fond smile, holding his gaze without a hint of shyness. “Today was really nice, at the café, and I think that we should do that again sometime soon so-”

 

There was a series of loud screams from across the club, and when Jimin turned to look he saw that great gouts of bubbles and foam had been expelled onto the dance floor below them. Everyone was laughing and screaming drunkenly as they tossed handfuls of the substance at each other. Their clothing was soaked through, their hair and makeup was a mess, but they all seemed too drunk to care. He dragged his eyes away to look back at Yoongi, and he saw that his boyfriend was staring off across the lounge area with rounded eyes and slack lips.

 

Jimin twisted to follow his gaze to see that there were dancers now entering the VIP lounge, several pretty women in bikinis and heels that were carrying trays covered in shot glasses and cocktails. They were greeted with cheers and wolf whistles, and Jimin saw that a lot of the photographers started snapping shots of them; the shutters opening and closing loudly as the cameras flashed over and over.

 

When he turned back to look at him, Jimin could see that Yoongi was breathing way too fast, and he was exhaling through his slack lips as he stared at the tray of shots. He didn’t know why he seemed so…uncomfortable right now, but there was something coming off him that felt almost like panic, maybe even fear.

 

“Yoongi, are you OK?” he asked in a quiet voice.

 

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m OK,” Yoongi muttered under his breath. “What was I talking about again?”

 

“Um, you were talking about the café and how you wanted to go there again soon and - are you sure that you’re OK?”

 

Yoongi moved to grab a shot from the tray rather than answer him, knocking it back and gulping it down. He scrunched his face up from the burn, pulling his teeth back to flash his gums as he dumped the empty glass down and grabbed another. Jimin watched him knocking back the second shot hard, and it was only when he reached for a third that he decided to step in and stop him.

 

“Yoongi, I think you should stop with the shots,” Jimin said in a quiet voice gently pulling his wrist away from his face so that he could pry the shot glass free from his fingers. “You’re gonna get wasted if you down any more.”

 

“Yeah, well, that’s exactly what I need right now, Jimin,” Yoongi retorted, sticking his tongue out to wet his lips as he dropped his head and closed his eyes.

 

“What’s wrong? Is this about what you said earlier? About the club in Daegu?” Jimin asked him, shifting to lean close and looking at his face. “Yoongi? Talk to me, please?”

 

“Jimin, I-I don’t feel too good,” his boyfriend muttered, as he covered his eyes with one hand and started kneading at his brow. He could see that his fingers were trembling terribly as he did so, and his body was shaking as if he was cold. “Can we leave? Can we just go? I don’t feel good.”

 

“Of course, Yoongi, we can go,” he promised, slinging his arm around his back just to support him.

 

Jimin was about to get off the bench when he caught sight of Hyuk moving over to their table, a man with a camera right behind him and a lanyard that showed him to be a professional photographer. It was enough to make him freeze in surprise, a sudden feeling starting to build up in his stomach that felt like he was trapped in place.

 

“Jimin, hey, this is Daesung, he’s with Newsen and he was hoping to get a photograph of you for the article,” Hyuk explained, gesturing at the photographer as he did so. “You don’t mind, right?”

 

“Oh, um, no, it’s OK,” Jimin said, as he gently lowered himself back down onto the bench. “This won’t take too long, will it? It’s just…Yoongi doesn’t feel good and we were gonna leave, so-”

 

“It’ll only take a moment,” Daesung reassured. “You should strike a pose, maybe with one of those shots. You and your friend should toast the camera.”

 

“Actually, I’m trying to not promote alcohol, because of my younger fans on Twitter, so, maybe I should just-”

 

Yoongi jumped to his feet so suddenly that he made Jimin flinch in surprise, his fingers loosening around the shot glass so that he dropped it on the flooring. It shattered and threw soju everywhere in a spray, but he didn’t even hear the sound of the glass cracking underneath the pounding club music coming from the speakers. He climbed over him in his haste to get off the bench, knocking the table as he did so and upending several glasses so that dribbles of champagne pooled out on the glass.

 

“Yoongi? Hey, where are you-”

 

Jimin twisted to watch his friend racing across the club, ducking underneath the VIP rope and shoving his way through crowds of strangers in a bid at getting away from it all. He was left with no choice but to also jump to his feet, stammering out apologies to Hyuk as he shoved his way past the photographer to give chase.

 

“Yoongi?! Wait, I’m coming! Where are you going?!” he cried out, as he ducked under the rope, even when he knew that his friend wouldn’t reply to his incessant shouting.

 

Though he tried his hardest to not lose Yoongi, within seconds he found that he couldn’t see the other man through the packed dance floor because there was just too many people inside of the club. His friend was too short to spot, and his dark clothing had blended him into the shadows between bodies, and Jimin came to a stop in the middle of the dance floor as he tried to figure out where he had ran off to. He was breathing hard and fast as he tried to calm himself down, and as his eyes fell on the stairs across the club, he realised that the other man had raced out of the club. So he shoved his way through the crowd to get to the steps and raced up them too.

 

Jimin found Yoongi around the back of the club, hunkered down on a step in the alley with his head in his hands. He could hear him gasping for breath and he was pretty certain that he might just have been sobbing too, even when he didn’t know what was going on.

 

“Yoongi? Hey,” Jimin moved to draw closer to him, doing so slowly because he didn’t want to startle him.

 

“I tried, Jimin, d’you have any idea how hard I’ve fucking tried?” Yoongi asked, his face still cupped in his hands as he struggled to catch his breath; his entire body shaking. “Buh…but I can’t, I can’t, it’s-”

 

“Yoongi, breathe,” Jimin interjected, hunkering down in front of him so that he could get on eye-level with him and taking hold of his slight shoulders. “Stop talking, just breathe, OK? You need to try and calm down.”

 

Yoongi moved his hands from his cheeks so that he could press them together in front of his mouth, squeezing his eyes shut so that tears started rolling down his cheeks.

 

“Mmm,” he moaned through his pressed together lips, which were quivering as he blinked stinging tears out of his eyes. “Stupid fuh-fucking clubs, I hate ‘em! I hate ‘em, Jimin!”

 

“Yoongi, I think that you’re drunk,” Jimin stated in a soft voice, letting go of his shoulder with one hand to try and cup his cheek.

 

“Nuh, no, no, not drunk, not drunk,” Yoongi argued with a hard head shake, tears flying off his cheeks to splash against his pullover. “I hate ‘em! Wuh-why’d they take me there, Jimin? Wuh-why’d they do that to me?”

 

“Why did who take you there, Yoongi? I don’t understand, what’re you talking about?”

 

“My crew; why’d they take me to that stupid cuh-club? I said I didn’t wanna go, but they dragged me there! They dragged me a-and the girl, the dancer, she sat on my lap and I-”

 

“Yoongi, slow down, I-”

 

“I didn’t get turned on, Jimin!” Yoongi spoke over him, his voice cracking. “I didn’t luh-like it and muh-my guys started saying shit about muh-me ‘cos they knew, and then they turned on me and I-I-I ran, I-”

 

Yoongi let out a strangled noise at this, a cry of complete anguish that made Jimin’s blood turn cold in his veins. It was the cry of a wounded animal, one that was in agony and couldn’t seem to free itself from it. Except the agony that his boyfriend was going through was all trapped inside of his mind, and there was nothing that he could do to try and ease the pain for him.

 

Yoongi dived forward to grab at him, shoving his face into his chest hard enough to make Jimin lose his balance and land right on his arse. The impact was jarring and made him grunt in surprised pain, and the other man collapsed on his lap at the exact moment that he burst into tears.

 

“I just wuh-wanted to make music, I didn’t wanna go to stupid cuh-clubs like that, Juh-Jimin! I thought I cuh-could ignore it and juh-just focus on the music, but they fuh-forced me outta my own fuh-fucking city,” Yoongi sobbed, burying his face against his chest as his fingers snagged hold of his pullover tight. “I juh-just wanted to be in my crew a-and make music so my parents wuh-would be proud of me for once in my fucking life, but they knew and they-”

 

“Yoongi,” Jimin sighed out, wrapping his arms around his neck and cradling him close, his cheek settling on the top of his snapback. “It’s OK, I’m here, I’ve got you, baby.”

 

“I cuh-couldn’t stay in Daegu ‘cos every-wuh-one knew that Gloss was a-a fucking homo,” Yoongi gasped, shaking from the force of his tears. “I’d to get ah-ah-away and start again, I’d to run away, ‘cos they were kuh-killing me with their hate, Jimin. I was all ah-alone, I-I-”

 

“You’re not alone here, Yoongi,” Jimin spoke over him, shifting so that he could knock his face away from his chest and grab hold of it instead. He didn’t want to dig his thumbs into his cheeks, but he did so accidentally in his efforts at getting the other man to look up at him. “Listen to me, Yoongi. You’re not alone here, OK?”

 

Yoongi tried his very hardest to not hold his gaze because he was disgusted with himself for crying; twisting and turning to try and knock his hands free. But Jimin held on strong and refused to let him do so, and he was left with no choice but to just stare at the front of his pullover rather than meet his eyes.

 

“You’ve got your crew, and they’re there for you. You know that they are, because they need you just as much as you need them. You’ve got your friends, yeah, like Hyuk, and Hyuk’s always gonna be there for you too; and…and you’ve got me, Yoongi.”

 

Yoongi finally looked up at him at this, his eyes glistening wet with unshed tears so that they were clinging to his eyelashes in tiny beads.

 

Jimin moved one hand to gently wiped at the curve of his cheek with his thumb, wiping away a tear just as it rolled down his face. The contact made his boyfriend hiccup on his next gasp for breath, his slight shoulders shooting up and his entire body jerking.

 

“You’re never gonna be alone so long as I’m with you, Yoongi,” Jimin whispered, as he wiped at his cheeks for him. “Because without you, I’m all alone too, yeah? You don’t have to run away from us, but you’ve got to tell me about these things, OK? I need to to tell me if you don’t want to come to clubs with me, and to let me know if you’re upset or worried about something.”

 

“Uh-OK.”

 

“I’m so sorry that I brought you here tonight, but I didn’t know about your old crew, or what kinda place this club was. We should’ve stayed at the apartment and made music together instead, so, I’m sorry that I dragged you here and upset you.”

 

“Duh-don’t, it ain’t your fault, Juh-Jimin.”

 

“Yoongi, let’s just get out of here, yeah?” Jimin suggested in a soft voice. “Let’s just go, jump a taxi and go back to your apartment and sleep.”

 

“But Huh-Hyuk? The party, Jimin, you-”

 

“We stayed long enough, I’m sure that he’ll understand, Yoongi,” Jimin spoke over him, taking hold of his arms so that he could gently tug him to his feet and pull him down the alleyway.

 

After ordering a taxi on his phone, Jimin had to help Yoongi get into the backseat because the soju and champagne was starting to have an affect on him. His boyfriend didn’t speak for the duration of the ride, rather he just stared out of the window from under his swollen eyelids and squeezed hold of his hand tight. He didn’t speak as they rode up the lift to get to his apartment room either, and upon entering the room, he staggered to get to the bathroom.

 

As Jimin got out of his loafers, he heard Yoongi landing on his knees with a hard thump and then retching hard as he hopefully vomited into the toilet bowl. The sound made him grimace as he locked the front door, and then he moved to hover in the doorway and looked down at him.

 

Yoongi was sitting slumped over his toilet, his face on the seat and his hands limp on his thighs. He had luckily vomited in the bowl rather than all over himself and the flooring, and so Jimin moved to hunker down and dragged him to his feet, supporting his weight as he hit the flush to clean away his vomit.

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi mumbled, as he pulled him into the bedroom and helped him sit down on the bed.

 

“It’s OK, you had too much to drink, Yoongi, it’s OK,” Jimin said in a soft voice, shifting to get onto his knees and tugging on his laces so that he could help him get out of his sneakers. “It happens sometimes, you don’t need to apologise.”

 

“I do, I guh-gotta apologise ‘cos I ruined your night,” Yoongi hiccuped, struggling to get out of his jacket so that he had to help him out of that too, and his hoodie.

 

“You didn’t ruin it, I wasn’t having that much fun to begin with,” Jimin confided in a quiet voice, as he placed the outerwear aside and then helped him get out of his jeans. “Just go to sleep, Yoongi, we can talk about this tomorrow. OK?”

 

After helping him strip down to just his tee-shirt and briefs, Jimin also got undressed down to his underwear. He didn’t even attempt to get cleaned up, but rather just climbed into bed with him in the hopes that his boyfriend would settle down and sleep.

 

Yoongi rolled over to do so, one arm folded under his pillow and the other slipping over his waist, and he closed his swollen eyes with a heavy exhale.

 

Several minutes passed and it seemed that he might just have fallen asleep, but then he jerked himself awake and lifted his head up off the pillow.

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi gasped suddenly, opening his eyes to look at him.

 

“Yeah, Yoongi?” Jimin asked, reaching over to cup his cheek in his hand to get him to settle down again.

 

“Shit, I was fall…falling asleep and I forgot you were there,” the other man sighed heavily, relaxing again when he saw that he was lying in bed with him. “But it’s…k, cos you were.”

 

“Go to sleep,” Jimin said, his thumb rubbing smooth circles against his cheekbone. “I’m gonna stay here all night long, OK? Right here. I’m just gonna go grab a glass of water, but I’ll be right back, hmm?”

 

“M…kay,” Yoongi breathed out heavily, his eyes still tightly squeezed shut.

 

Jimin got to his feet and he slowly crossed the dark bedroom to enter the main-area. He grabbed a glass from the sink, filling it up with water from the tap, and when he entered the bedroom again, he saw that Yoongi was already deeply asleep; his cheeks flushed from the alcohol and his slack lips letting out soft exhales.

 

So Jimin moved to place the glass down on the side table and then he gently lowered himself down onto the mattress, making sure to not disturb him as he did so. He pulled the covers up over them both and then he moved to throw his arm over Yoongi’s waist, holding him close as he listened to the softest sound of him snoring through his slack lips.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“…but overall, you know, it was a good thing - the launch party.”

 

[Jimin reaches up to give his earring his habitual tug and fiddle as he lets out a series of soft sounds. He is clearly thinking it all over intently so that he can find a way of talking about the subject without focusing too much on Yoongi and his personal issue.]

 

“The press photos looked so good for Andre and everyone involved. The night was a great way for me to get noticed, to get myself out there and show that I was a proper artist to the world. I mean, there were some obvious complications, of course, but I think that the night was great.”

 

“I can imagine, Jimin. It was your first launch party, even if it wasn’t for your own event. You and Andre have a good working relationship with one another, D-boy obviously included, and so it must have been nice to spend the evening at his party. I also imagine that the free champagne was an added bonus.”

 

[Hoseok’s remark makes the both of them laugh heartily, and Jimin’s smile stays on his face for several seconds before the moment passes.]

 

“The best part of the night was meeting D-boy’s crew at last, for sure. I got to see them online a lot, obviously, but before that night I’d never had the chance to fully greet them like that. I got to meet Queen Bae and Kimmy, though we didn’t get to speak that much. Mostly, it was RM that I got to meet and talk to, and that was a really insightful experience for me.”

 

“It’s very interesting that you mentioned RM! It seems rather obvious that you might have met him around this period, but there was never anything online about the two of you being in each other’s company. It wasn’t until quite some time after Andre’s launch party that there were sightings of the two of you together. There were no photographs of you two from the party - with or without D-boy, there was no online interaction at all on Twitter. I think that it could be assumed that you hadn’t met prior to that point, but you had…”

 

[Jimin nods at this, moving to retrieve his glass of water so that he can take a quick sip and wet his tongue. As he places the glass down, he sticks his tongue out to lick at his lips - a quick flash of the tip escaping from between his glossy lips.]

 

“You’re gonna ask me what it was like meeting him, right?”

 

[There is a knowing expression on Jimin’s face as he lowers his glass, his lips twitching upwards at the corners. From off-camera the sound of Taehyung chuckling is detected by the microphones, showing that he was clearly amused.]

 

“You’re gonna wanna know what my first impression is versus the usual assumptions and all of that, right? That’s what you ask me every time that I talk about meeting someone new, be they a rapper or a celebrity.”

 

“We can talk about RM right now, if you want? I thought that it might be for the best to focus on him and Outsider Network when they become much more relevant to your own personal story, Jimin. But it’s up to you if you wish to talk about them. Like I said earlier, this interview is entirely in your hands. You can focus on what and who you want, you can direct the flow exactly as you wish. You can refuse to talk about whatever you wish too.”

 

[Jimin shifts on the sofa so that he can get into a more comfortable position. As he does so, he quickly glances at the three cameras whilst he reaches up to rub at the delicate tip of his pointed nose. He settles in place before looking over at Taehyung, silently checking that he is in a good position for the recording process. He holds his hand up, giving him a quick thumbs-up and a nod before dropping it back into his lap.]

 

“I think that it’s for the best that you control this part of the interview, Hoseok. Sticking to a consistent flow is for the best, it’ll stop me from getting confused about everything - and there’s so much to talk about. So many artists, so many recording sessions and performances, so many…so many moments with D-boy. I’m scared that I might get confused and say the wrong thing at the wrong time, that I might mistake dates and get accused of lying or something, so, I trust you to control the flow of the interview for me, Hoseok.”

 

“OK, then I think that it’s time that we discussed your second single, Jimin. It’s the next big event in your life, and it’s greatly related to this current discussion. Does that sound alright with you?”

 

“OK, sure thing.”

 

[The static rustle of paper being moved comes from to the left the camera A because Hoseok is sorting through his notes. Then he moves in his seat as he no doubt located what he had been looking for.]

 

“Your second single was released on June 12th, and was entitled ‘Real’. It contained the title track, ‘Just Me’ and the support song, ‘Spring Dream’, which featured fellow young artist, Jeon Jungkook. Now, prior to your song, I think that a lot of people thought of Jeon as a kind of…less obnoxious attempt at making an idol artist, because there was only one of him and he was actually talented.”

 

“Hmm, that’s a little harsh, Hoseok.”

 

[Jimin smirks as he says this to show that it was actually a joking remark than a serious observation. Hoseok lets out a blustered laugh upon realising how judgemental that his words had just sounded.]

 

“Ah, I don’t mean it like that! I wasn’t saying that idols are untalented. Far from it, there are a lot of idols that are fantastic singers, dancers, actors and more. But there exists an image to a lot of young and old adults that idols are…simply there for teenagers and children to develop crushes on. Companies certainly cater to make them seem like boyfriends and girlfriends to their fans, and make them give out an immature and fun persona, instead of acting like serious recording artists.”

 

“Hmm, that’s true. When I first started showing an interest in singing, my mum told me that she really didn’t want me to be an idol because it wasn’t serious enough for me. There’s immense amounts of dedication put into becoming an idol, and these girls and boys go through hell to get onstage, but they’re too…malleable for me, I think. There’s less freedom, less control. There’s too much time spent in training for a slim chance of success in such a fiercely competitive music industry, and that worries me a lot.”

 

“You worry about idols?”

 

“Yeah, I worry about them, and I don’t mean that in a condescending manner. The kids have got dreams, and I know that dreams don’t simply exist for us to just pluck out of the air so easily, but most dreams require hard work, dedication and time. Some of these kids, they give that and more and they still don’t make it, and that’s not fair. It’s why I worry about them.”

 

[Hoseok makes a soft sound at this, a hum that shows that he is thinking Jimin’s words over intently. He hesitates before furthering the discussion, a rustling noise coming from his chair. Judging from the way that Jimin lowers his gaze, he might just be scrawling a note to himself on the sheet of paper.]

 

“Which is exactly what Jeon Jungkook must have seemed like to a lot of people, until he sang with you on your single and he actually presented a whole new side of himself to the world - just another idol singer. He likely seemed to be an industry created idol, the perfect boyfriend with hoards of adoring young fans and that annoyingly adorable personality that makes you just hate to love him.”

 

“Yeah, I think the reason why people thought such things about Jeon Jungkook was because he’s everything. He’s young, attractive, a great dancer - an even better singer. He’s got good skill sets, so, it probably seemed like he was taught those things by a lot of people; that they weren’t natural to him. They saw him dancing and singing in designer stage outfits and they thought that he was just another malleable idol kid too, but he was hiding so many things from the world because it wasn’t the right time for him to…unveil himself. You know?”

 

“SJ Records wanted him to build up a fanbase by being commercially accessible to a large and young audience, and then they allowed him to showcase himself after he had already created a dedicated following that would love everything that he released.”

 

“Pretty much, yeah, that’s exactly what they did. There’s so many indie singers these days, mostly female singers because they have that lovely soft sound that everyone falls asleep listening to. Jeon Jungkook needed to have an edge to himself to compete against a great deal of artists. So, he was a pop singer that could dance and break hearts, and he was also able to croon and play acoustic guitar on songs that would come straight out of a drama. SJ Records trained him from a kid and they let him start bringing in cash with commercial songs to pay his dues, until his soft ballads proved to be the kinda material that was really gonna start paying the bills for them.”

 

“They really are not only his best work, but also incredibly popular. The awards season shows this. Jeon Jungkook most certainly received more nominations and wins in 2016 than he did the previous year as a rookie artist. Most of them were through streaming too. I think everyone will agree that he earned those accolades.”

 

“He did! I was so happy for him at the MMAs, Jeon Jungkook worked so hard and he deserved the wins. No offence meant to the other artists in those categories, of course.”

 

[The smile on Jimin’s face is entirely genuine, as he folds his arms on his knees and he sits forward on the cushion.]

 

“You seem rather fond of Jeon Jungkook, if I might say so.”

 

“Oh, I am. I’m really fond of Jeon Jungkook; D-boy too. He’s technically a senior to me in the industry, despite our age differences. But he’s closer to a little brother to me personally. Honestly, I’d struggle to believe that someone could meet the kid and not be fond of him.”

 

“‘The kid’? Ah, that shows a great deal of familiarity with him.”

 

[Hoseok’s tone shows that he finds this incredibly sweet, that there might just be a smile on his face, just like there currently is on Jimin’s.]

 

“Jungkook’s just a big kid, Hoseok, and he and his fans know that I mean no offence by the term. You’ve just gotta love him when you meet him. Don’t get me wrong: he’s respectful, he’s hard-working, he’s incredibly mature when it comes to business. But he’s really fun to be around too. You feel about five years younger around him, it’s amazing!”

 

[This remark makes the three men laugh, Jimin reaching up to place his hand in front of his lips to cover his mouth. He drops his gaze for a moment as his laughter dies down, before he continues speaking.]

 

“Andre, I think of Andre as a good friend and my idol in terms of vocal ability. I think of D-boy as my inspiration for stage presence and ability to make music - he’s my other half, in more ways than our musical partnership. Jeon Jungkook, I think that Jungkook keeps me humble. He reminds me about how hard that we’ve both worked to get this far. Truthfully, a lot of my friends…they inspire me too. They’re my friends but I look up to them, for guidance, for support. I think that friends should be like that. They should make you wanna better yourself and always test your limits, because you know that they’ll have your back, no matter what.”

 

“That’s a beautiful sentiment, Jimin. You seem to have strong feelings on the matter of friendship, as reflected in your own personal lyrics and interviews.”

 

“Friends are hard to come by in the industry. I know that that sounds so obvious, that people think it’s probably just an exaggeration, but it’s the truth. At the end of the day, your personal success comes at the expense of others, especially when it comes to awards seasons. It’s hard keeping friends close when you might be the reason why they lose their job; you know? You’re celebrating a song of the year award, they’re being told that their company just lost a billion won and counting on their latest promotion and that the expenses are being taken from their meagre profits. It’s just hard. The industry just chews everyone up and spits them out, it’s horrible.”

 

“It makes sense that you value your friendships with your recording artist friends dearly, Jimin.”

 

[Jimin hums at this, playing with his thumb ring just like always.]

 

“In regards to your second single, this is starting to feel like the Killuh situation all over again, Jimin. Do you think that your single is the reason why Jeon Jungkook broke away from his previous pop style releases and he started releasing his far more successful ballad songs? It was certainly a highly profitable experiment for him to collaborate with you, and it could have had a great influence on SJ Records when it came to personal management.”

 

“Me? Oh no, Jungkook doesn’t owe me anything, Hoseok. I didn’t request for him to be on the song, and I didn’t work on any of the single myself. If he owes anyone anything, it’s D-boy for doing all of the hard work and asking him to reveal his guitar skills to his fans during multiple radio performances that we did to promote the song…”

 

 

 

 

 

The sudden vibrations from his phone travelled through the pillow first, which made him jerk awake with a surprised grunt.

 

For a second or two, Jimin could see nothing more than a blurred hint of colour in front of him - black and white. It might just be his pillow and a hint of Yoongi’s hair in his periphery, or it might just be Yoongi’s hair and tee-shirt; he had no way of telling. His vision was far too unfocused to see clear shapes, and so it made him close his heavy eyelids again.

 

But when an alarm started going off, playing loudly over the constant hard bursts of vibrations, Yoongi also shifted on the mattress beside him with a startled noise.

 

Jimin opened his eyes again with a groan, blinking several times as he tried to clear his vision. It was difficult doing so because his eyelids felt so heavy and tight, but he knew that he had to wake up enough to just turn off the goddamn alarm.

 

“Huh?! Wuh…” Yoongi breathed out heavily, rolling his head on the pillow as he tried to open his eyes. But he was unable to do that much, peering at him through his thick eyelashes as he let out another series of pathetic tired noises.

 

Jimin had no choice but to move to grab his phone, so that he could turn off his alarm and stop the irritating sound. He slipped his arm free from around Yoongi’s ribs, feeling him fumbling to try and grab hold of him even when he was still mostly asleep. He shoved his hand under his pillow so that he could find the device, hitting the buttons a few times before finally sliding his thumb along the screen to turn it off. He let the phone drop back down onto the mattress, moving to press his face into the pillow.

 

“Shit, I gotta…gotta get up and do warm-ups,” Jimin groaned against the cool and fragrant cotton, as he moved his hand to fumble at the front of the covers. “Gotta do warm-ups and practise but, nnn, I don’t wanna.”

 

After a couple of seconds, Jimin found his fingers smoothing along the front of Yoongi’s tee-shirt. That was good enough for him, and so he just kept his hand in place there so that he could rub his palm over the thin and warm cotton.

 

“Mmm, I should check my emails,” Yoongi sighed, shifting on the mattress so that he could mostly roll onto his side.

 

Yet Jimin felt his boyfriend pulling himself that little bit closer to him so that he could press himself up against his side. That showed that he wasn’t going to move to retrieve his phone from wherever he had left it - be it in his jeans pocket, on his computer desk, on the floor or even lost somewhere inside of the covers that were still loosely strewn around their hips.

 

The position was so comfortable and warm that Jimin himself could feel himself not wanting to move either; his legs relaxing to stretch out across the bed sheets as he turned to get Yoongi in his hold too.

 

“Just a little longer,” Jimin sighed out, his arm folding over his side in a loose embrace and his forehead pressed right up against his. “I’ll do some warm-ups soon, I swear.”

 

Yoongi almost purred at this, his breath puffing out against his lower face warm just like the rest of him. It was ridiculous just how warm that his body was, particularly his chest and stomach - which were pressed against his and hot enough to almost burn through the thin cotton, to his bare and thin thighs. As a result of his hands being under the covers all night long, they were warm too, though his bare feet were cool like his fingers usually were; in that way that sometimes made a funny shiver run down Jimin’s spine whenever his fingers found the nape of his neck to stroke at it when he was sitting at his desk playing around on the controller.

 

Jimin let his breath out in a soft sigh, feeling it disturbing a stray lock of hair that was hanging free across Yoongi’s face. He might have knocked it back, but it was far too much effort opening his eyes to check. It was a much better idea to just relax in the warmth coming from his body, and so that was exactly what he was going to do.

 

“Jimin, you’re gonna fall asleep again,” Yoongi whispered, so that Jimin opened his eyes a crack to look at him. He saw that his eyes were still closed shut and his lips were split in a lazy grin. “You ain’t gonna get up, you’re gonna fall asleep.”

 

“Not gonna fall asleep,” Jimin retorted, wriggling on the bed to try and prove a rather redundant point. “I’m awake.”

 

“Mmm, you said that yesterday too, and we both know that you were asleep until 11am and-”

 

Before Yoongi could finish this teasing comment, Jimin moved so that he could bump their noses together. The contact made his boyfriend stop talking suddenly, his closed eyes opening to look at him; rounded with total surprise.

 

“Huh?!” he hummed, his lips pouted in a soft ‘o’.

 

The shock on Yoongi’s face was enough to make Jimin start laughing as he moved on the mattress. He gently pushed him onto his back so that he could shift and almost lie on top of his upper body.

 

“Hmm, gonna do warm-ups right here,” Jimin said, his voice husky as he placed his head down on his chest. “This is so much more comfortable than your desk chair, Yoongi.”

 

“Fuck, seriously, Jimin?” Yoongi complained, wriggling on the mattress under him in a way that was clearly supposed to show that he was disgruntled.

 

Rather than reply, Jimin just started humming as he moved a hand to his throat to give it a soft massage. His throat was dry and obviously not ready for any kind of warm-ups, but he was just doing it as a joke. It was hard pulling a serious face as he did so, especially when he felt laughter starting to build up inside of Yoongi's chest; which was softly vibrating underneath his head as he tried his hardest to not let it out.

 

“We should record like this in the studio,” Jimin suggested, pausing in the act of humming. “Just bring the microphone out so that we can lie on the sofa and-”

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi said, his name escaping just as he let out a quick laugh.

 

Jimin moved so that he could bring their faces closer again, unable to keep the grin off his face because of the sound of Yoongi’s laughter.

 

“I can record my lines easy like this, hmm? ‘Baby, I wanna touch up on you. Take it off, I know you want me to. I gotta…feel your body. I gotta…feel your body, on me, baby’,” Jimin crooned, as he moved his face to brush their lips together but didn’t kiss him just yet.

 

Yoongi’s lips pouted out to try and kiss him for a moment, before he realised that he was still singing his lines from the song. He managed to give him a quick peck with a soft chuckle, a rather shy smile appearing on his face.

 

“‘I gotta…feel your body. I gotta…feel your body, on me, Yoongi’,” Jimin ad-libbed, before bringing their lips together in a kiss.

 

Oh, it might just have been the hundredth kiss that they had shared, or even the thousandth, but Jimin just knew that every single one would still make his breath catch his throat and make his heart skip a beat in his chest. There was just something so exciting about the way that Yoongi’s lips brushed against his own, warm and parted in anticipation of his tongue; and in the way that Yoongi’s hand settled on his lower back only to run up to hold onto the back of his neck.

 

One kiss turned into another, soft and open at first in a lazy fashion until Yoongi’s breathless gasp for breath spurred Jimin on to deepen the kisses. He couldn’t help himself, he just had to dart his tongue out to lick it against Yoongi’s lower lip, feeling his tongue also slipping free to brush against his upper lip in search of his own.

 

Jimin liked it when Yoongi caught his lower lip between his own so that he could give it a teasing lick and suck, for he liked it when he took control of their kisses. Especially if he held onto his face or neck when he did so, so that Jimin could trail his own hands down the front of his chest and to the soft dip of his waist or lower back. Sometimes, he liked to hold onto his hips and play with his belt, but that was usually after they had shared a couple of beers at a club and they were a little bit tipsy. It felt nice when Yoongi kissed him like that, but he wasn’t that passionate when it came to morning kisses.

 

It seemed that Yoongi preferred soft and lazy kisses that went no further than that in the morning; the occasional quick couple of pecks before climbing out of bed to go and make coffee. Jimin was almost anticipating the fact that he would pull his face away to give him a quick peck on the nose so that he could do so, as he had gotten pretty used to it.

 

Yet when he broke the kiss and he nuzzled his lips against the full and warm curve of his cheek, Jimin found that Yoongi didn’t do so. He actually stayed lying under him, his eyes closed and his lips slightly flushed from their deep kisses.

 

Jimin could feel him moving underneath him, his bare feet brushing against the sheets with a soft rustle just like the sound of his breath escaping his parted lips. His lips brushed along Yoongi’s cheek to find the sharp curve of his jaw, and so he peppered soft kisses against it as he moved to press an open kiss right against his boyfriend’s throat.

 

“Huh, Jimin,” Yoongi sighed, his body tensing up from the ticklish sensation of the neck kiss. “That feels-”

 

“‘Mmm, feels good’,” Jimin purred, still using his lines from Killuh’s song as he half-hummed, half-sang to Yoongi; his lips quivering as he dragged the ad-lib out and then pressed another open kiss against his neck.

 

Jimin felt Yoongi’s hand moving down his back, his palm rubbing against his bare skin as his blunt nails lightly scratched at the space between the wings of his shoulder blades. His parted thighs opened that little bit wider, the movement almost inviting him to fully settle down on top of him. But just as he moved to try and do so, he felt something completely unexpected.

 

Straining against the front of Yoongi’s briefs, Jimin could feel his stirring erection pressing against his lower stomach.

 

Jimin slowly lifted his head up from the crook of his neck at this, glancing down at Yoongi in total surprise. His chain dangled down to almost touch his boyfriend’s lips, and he saw Yoongi watching it dangle for a few seconds before he rolled his eyes up to look at him. It took him a moment to realise that he could feel his erection trapped between their bodies, and that was when he took a sharp intake of breath.

 

“Uh…” Yoongi swallowed hard as he glanced off across the bedroom, avoiding his eyes as a sudden flush diffused across his cheeks. “Coffee.”

 

Before Jimin could possibly open his mouth and ask him what he was talking about, Yoongi wormed his way right out of his hold just so that he could sit up. He knocked the bed covers aside hastily, jumping to his feet so that he could cross the bedroom.

 

“Yoongi, baby, where are you going?” Jimin called, twisting to look back over his shoulder at him.

 

“I’m making coffee, and grabbing some water for your throat for your warm-ups!” Yoongi called, stepping through the doorway and reaching behind himself to pull at the seat of his baby blue briefs.

 

Jimin dropped back down onto the mattress at this with a heavy sigh at this, his face sinking into the pillow. When he breathed in, he smelled Yoongi’s familiar scent, and he held it in his lungs for a few seconds before letting it out as he lifted his head up again. His hair dangled down across his brow to hang in his eyes, and so he shifted his weight onto one elbow so that he could reach up to brush it back off of his face.

 

From the other section of the apartment, Jimin heard Yoongi pottering around the kitchen as he actually made coffee. He wanted to laugh but he found that he couldn’t quite seem to do so right now.

 

All that Jimin could do was study the wrinkles in the surface of Yoongi’s pillow as he waited for him to finish making coffee. It took him a couple of minutes, but Yoongi eventually entered the room again with two steaming mugs of coffee in hand.

 

“Thanks, Yoongi,” Jimin said with a quick smile, accepting the mug of coffee from him with both hands.

 

Yoongi returned the smile, getting the bottle of water out of the crook of his elbow so that he could place it down on the bed for him. His own mug of coffee was in hand, steaming hot and as black as his hair. Then he moved to go over to his desk, powering up his computer and lifting his Samsung phone up off the charging deck to check his emails.

 

As Jimin nursed his coffee, he contemplated trying to talk to Yoongi about what had just happened between the both of them. They weren’t children, after all, and there was nothing embarrassing about talking about such things…but he found that he didn’t really know what he could say to his boyfriend.

 

Did Yoongi really want him to bring up the fact that he had just achieved a sudden erection because of him? Did he really want to talk about such things when he had just left the bedroom to make coffee to completely avoid having to talk to him about it? It might just be embarrassing for him, considering the fact that they hadn’t actually acknowledged their feelings for one another that long ago and it was the first time that such a thing had happened between them.

 

Jimin lifted his mug so that he could inhale the scent of the coffee, breathing it out a second later as he looked up at Yoongi.

 

Yoongi was still in the act of checking out emails and messages on his phone - his thumb rapidly scrolling and typing as he nibbled at the nails of his other hand in a rather anxious fashion.

 

Maybe Yoongi felt embarrassed about the fact that he had just sprung an erection, or maybe he was actually worried about what he was thinking about it all.

 

There was a chance that Jimin might have been shocked that he had gotten hard because of him, even if it seemed a little immature. Jimin had been surprised for a moment when he had felt his stiffening cock straining against the cotton of his briefs, just because he had never felt Yoongi getting so aroused from their intimate kisses before.

 

Jimin knew that it wouldn’t have been the first time, that there had no doubt been several half-hard erections through stiff and tough jeans that had never been noticed (he personally knew this to be the case). There had been enough instances of morning wood for the two of them too - perfectly natural bodily responses that were nothing to be embarrassed about.

 

Maybe Yoongi was scared that he might feel some kind of pressure after such a thing had happened between them; that he might feel like they should further their intimacy seeing as it was now obvious that they had yet to be sexually intimate with one another.

 

But Jimin wasn’t going to feel intimidated or pressured as a result of Yoongi getting aroused because of him, as there was nothing to be scared or worried about.

 

What this event had actually done was that it had finally made them both aware of the fact that they should talk to one another about their feelings, rather than leave words unsaid in favour of holding hands, falling asleep in each other’s arms and sharing chaste and passionate kisses that always stopped so abruptly with soft laughter and flushed cheeks.

 

All that they needed to do was talk to each other, and it would dispel any embarrassment from the air, but there was a slight problem with that.

 

Jimin was still waiting for Yoongi to talk to him about what had happened outside of the club during Andre’s launch night. It had been almost two weeks since his emotional breakdown outside of the club, but he believed in giving his boyfriend plenty of time and space.

 

If Yoongi needed to sort out his obviously upsetting memories and come to terms with his anger, fear and pain first before talking to him about it all, Jimin knew that he should let him do so. It wasn’t right rushing him or else his thoughts might not come out right, and he knew just how much effort that Yoongi put in to ensure that he shared his true feelings about everything - be it something minor like lyrics or a track instrumental, or something serious like his mental health and sexuality.

 

Jimin was just worried that whilst waiting for Yoongi to talk about one thing, that he might just neglect to talk about the other. Be it on purpose or a complete accident, he didn’t want Yoongi to think that he couldn’t talk to him about his private thoughts and emotions now that they were in a secret and still very timid relationship, because Yoongi had shared so much with him already when they had just been friends.

 

Jimin wanted him to know that they could still have those deep and meaningful talks about the music industry at 3am when neither of them could sleep and they were staring up at the ceiling whilst lying in his bed. Nothing had changed between them that much, save for the fact that they stole quick kisses from each other in the M&M basement studios when no one else was around to see them, and that they were now calling each other affectionate nicknames that still made Yoongi get all flustered because he thought that they sounded funny.

 

Yoongi was still his friend even when he was now his boyfriend, and Jimin just wanted him to know that there was nothing that he loved more than listening to his soft voice in the middle of the night, husky because he was whispering into his hair, telling him all about how excited that he was to have finally finished penning a verse for one of his dozens of projects.

 

“Yoongi,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, as his thumb rubbed against the rim of the coffee mug.

 

“Mmm?” Yoongi hummed, sniffing hard as he twisted in his desk chair to look at him.

 

“Are you OK?”

 

“Yeah, I’m good,” he confirmed with a nod, as he reached up to roughly rub at his nose. “What about you, huh? You doing alright, Jimin? Your throat feeling good?”

 

“Uhuh, my throat feels great,” Jimin said with a series of quick nods, glancing between his coffee and his boyfriend in turn.

 

Yoongi was lazily lounged back in his desk chair, his oversized tee-shirt wrinkled in all the wrong places on his frame. He had his legs folded up on the seat just like always, his favoured sitting position of choice because it allowed him to comfortably slouch and maintain body heat at the same time. It meant that Jimin was unable to sneak a glance at his crotch, but he had a feeling that his erection had since softened, judging from how comfortable that he currently seemed to be.

 

“Yoongi, can I just…can we talk?” Jimin finally said to break the momentary silence. “It’s not about anything bad, don’t worry. I just…I just feel like there’s some things that we need to talk about - together, as a crew.”

 

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Yoongi said, getting out of his desk chair to no doubt cross the bedroom to get closer to him.

 

“On the sofa, let’s go sit on the sofa, hmm?” Jimin suggested, as he shifted to get to his feet. “Bring the blanket, it’ll be nice and cosy.”

 

Jimin exited the bedroom, hearing his boyfriend moving around the room behind him as he fetched one of the extra blankets for them both. He lowered himself onto the battered sofa, tucking his legs to the side comfortably and nursing his mug in both hands as he watched the other man walking through the open doorway to join him.

 

Yoongi fixed the blanket over both of their laps, his own thighs spread wide open, and then he sank back against the worn leather with a deep groan.

 

“When did you end up falling asleep last night?” Jimin asked with a knowing smile, which made him laugh after swallowing a sip of coffee.

 

“I can’t remember, probably 5am again,” Yoongi replied with a lazy shrug, turning his head to look right at him. “What’s up, huh?”

 

“Yoongi…do you wanna talk about what just happened, in bed?” Jimin asked in a soft voice, as he peeled one hand free from his mug to place it down on Yoongi’s thigh. His warm palm settled in place on his skin, and he felt his muscle shifting under his skin from the sudden contact. “We can talk about it, if you want? I just think it’s for the best that we do so, because it’s completely normal and-”

 

“It’s never happened before.”

 

“Hmm?” Jimin hummed, his sudden interruption catching him by surprise. “What do you mean, Yoongi?”

 

“Not that, I mean, that’s happened before, obviously,” Yoongi muttered, stumbling over his words in his haste to try and get them all out. “It’s just…you were my first kiss, Jimin.”

 

Jimin held his gaze unblinkingly as he listened to him talking, feeling a surge of relief flooding through his system because this was everything that he had wanted for what felt like forever now.

 

After two solid weeks of wondering and trying to find the right way to talk to his boyfriend, Yoongi was finally talking to him about his feelings for him, about their kisses and everything that had been on his mind.

 

“You were my first kiss. I ain’t ever kissed anyone before, not even girls in high school. I never wanted to kiss ‘em, or go on dates with ‘em…not that there were lines of girls waiting to date me anyway,” Yoongi explained in a soft voice, as he stared down into the remains of his coffee. “I-I always knew deep down that I liked boys back then, when I was a kid. I knew, but there was nothing I could do about it, so, I just pushed it all away and I found something to focus on. I found music. I feel like I fell in love with that instead, and it felt good. But then I met you and everything just kinda…”

 

Yoongi puffed his cheeks up and then he let his breath out in a hard huff, so that it disturbed the messy sleep-tousled hair on his brow.

 

“I, uh, I dunno, Jimin. That’s the first time that I-I got hard ‘cos of another man like that, y’know? I ain’t been kissed like that before, I ain’t been so close to another man - I didn’t mean to do it, it just happened.”

 

“Yoongi, baby, don’t apologise. You don’t need to apologise,” Jimin argued with a head shake. “I told you, it’s normal and completely natural. I might’ve kissed dozens of girls in high school that I went on dates with, but I’ve never felt anything like what it felt like when I first kissed you, so, it was almost like it was my first kiss. It was like an…an awakening or something. Deep down inside of me, I felt something finally clicking and it felt so good.”

 

“Yeah?” Yoongi asked in a whisper-soft voice, as he looked up at him again.

 

“Yeah,” Jimin reiterated with a nod. “You made me aware of something that I’d been worried about for a long time, Yoongi; something that used to frighten me because I didn’t understand it. But since meeting you, I understand it, and I accept it and it feels so fucking amazing! I finally understand that I’m attracted to other men and that there’s nothing wrong with me. I used to think that there was back then, when I never used to find those girls attractive. I used to think that something was wrong but it just took me some time to realise who I am, that’s all. All because of you, Yoongi.”

 

“You don’t think there’s nothing wrong with you? A lot of people…they’re gonna think there’s something wrong, Jimin, like they did with me.”

 

Jimin saw that way that Yoongi’s fingers tightened around his mug at this, his entire body tensing up in a way that showed him that he was a little anxious. He pulled his lower lip in to bite down on it hard, his gaze constantly shifting around his face rather than holding his eyes.

 

“I don’t think there’s something wrong with me,” Jimin retorted with a lazy shrug. “Do you think there’s something wrong with me, Yoongi?”

 

“No, baby, you’re fucking perfect all over,” Yoongi replied without a hint of hesitation, which made Jimin’s lips curl up in a fond smile. “I don’t wanna think there’s something wrong with it, with me, but it’s hard sometimes. For every one person that looks you in the eyes and says you ain’t a freak, there’s a hundred more wanting your blood, Jimin. It’s hard focusing on the love when all around you, you can only see hate.”

 

“I know, I know, which’s why it needs to be a secret,” Jimin promised, as he moved to press his brow against the side of his boyfriend’s head. “No one’s gonna call us freaks if they dunno a thing about us, Yoongi. We’re safe together, hmm? We’re safe if we’ve got each other. You won’t be able to see the hate through all of my love.”

 

“Oh, Jimin,” Yoongi sighed, as he moved to bump their noses together again. “That was beautiful. That was a lyric right there.”

 

“Seriously? You think so?” Jimin asked him with a smile, lifting his hand from his thigh so that he could take hold of his shoulder. His cotton tee-shirt rustled under his touch, the rounded ball of his joint fitting perfectly within his palm. “Did I just come up with the perfect love ballad lyric?”

 

“Mmm, don’t get cocky, Jimin,” Yoongi joked with his own smile.

 

“But is that seriously why you ran off on me like that, Yoongi, because you were embarrassed and nervous about it all?” he asked, trying to focus on everything that his boyfriend had told him and not neglect a single thing during their discussion. “Were you worried about it that much?”

 

Yoongi stuck his tongue out to wet his lips at this, thinking his words over intently. It took him a moment to find the right words, and so he cleared his throat as he wriggled on the sofa.

 

“I don’t wanna rush things, y’know?” Yoongi finally said, as he shifted his coffee mug into one hand so that he could reach up to play with his ear. “I think that people don’t take their time with things sometimes, important things that need attention and care. We…it took us awhile to talk about everything, but it felt good that way. I got to know you, Jimin, I got to get close to you and be your friend before I became your…your-”

 

“My boy,” Jimin finished for him with a soft smile. “My D-boy.”

 

“I just feel like we shouldn’t rush things. I feel like if we take our time and wait for the perfect moment, it’ll feel right,” Yoongi finished, quickly glancing at him before dropping his gaze down to his lap again. “Y’know?”

 

“I totally understand, Yoongi, I don’t wanna rush things either. I like what we have right now, I love it, in fact. But I just thought that we needed to have a little talk today too, so that when the time comes…”

 

Yoongi just nodded at this rather than speak, showing that he was listening to him even when he was obviously embarrassed talking about it all.

 

“Just because it happens, it doesn’t have to mean anything else has to happen, OK?” Jimin suggested in a quiet voice, as he moved to slip his arm around his shoulders. “You don’t have to stop and run off to make coffee every single time that you get hard because of me, yeah-”

 

This made Yoongi laugh heartily, leaning into his hold to bridge that slight distance between them.

 

“We can still kiss, we can still stay close and talk, I’m totally comfortable with that. So long as you’re comfortable too, everything’s fine - I promise,” Jimin finished, moving to press a quick kiss in the corner of his mouth. “The same thing goes for me, hmm? If I get turned on when we’re close like that, you don’t have to touch me. You don’t have to feel like we’ve gotta do anything at all. It’s gonna happen to us a lot, especially in the morning, baby, that’s prime time for unexpected hard-ons-”

 

“Tell me about it,” Yoongi agreed with an eye-roll.

 

“and so there’s no need to worry about it, OK?” Jimin finished, rubbing his nose against the apple of his cheek affectionately. “Wait until I get an erection. Let’s see what happens then. I’ll be racing into the kitchen to make you spaghetti, huh?”

 

Yoongi let out a quick laugh at this, his cheeks still rather pink with embarrassment. But it was a good kind of embarrassment, one that came from awkward discussions about sexual matters and sharing thoughts with one another in the most perfect of ways, and Jimin felt so good because of it.

 

“I, uh, I told you about what happened with my crew in the club that night,” Yoongi said after a moment of silence, lifting his mug to take a deep swig of cooling coffee.

 

Jimin copied his actions so that he could drink his own coffee, finding that it was still hot but cool enough to drink without scalding his tongue. He made a noise to let him know that he was listening to him, a soft hum as he tightened his hold around his shoulders.

 

Although Yoongi had been far from sober and his mumbled words had been a jumbled mess of raw emotion and drunken confusion, Jimin had gotten a great deal of what he had been trying to tell him that night.

 

There had been an incident in a club with his old crew and a female host, or maybe a dancer. As a result of Yoongi not enjoying her sitting on his lap (perhaps in the form of a lap dance, he hadn’t been that specific), his crew had started to realise that he was gay. The night had triggered something between them all, and then it had spiralled out of control on him when they had all turned against him and they had exposed him to the scene: Gloss, rapper, producer, homosexual.

 

Yoongi had been left with little choice but to move away from the Daegu underground scene to pursue his dreams up in Seoul instead, a move that had certainly been profitable for him. But it had been an unneeded move, one that had seen him driven out of his hometown like a pariah, and one that still weighed heavy and bitter on his heart.

 

“Jimin, I grew up with a bunch of those guys. Some of ‘em, we were buddies since we were kids,” Yoongi continued, lowering his empty mug down to his lap and letting his breath out in a weary sigh. “These weren’t guys I found hanging around hip hop clubs when we should’ve been studying; these were guys that I’d grown up studying with.”

 

“They were your friends, they meant everything to you,” Jimin said in a quiet voice, to which his boyfriend made a noise in agreement.

 

“These were the kinda guys that I thought’d have my back through everything - the ones that I was gonna make something outta my life with. They set such a high fucking standard for me, and I wanted to smash that standard to shit and show ‘em all just how hard that I could go, and how much that music meant to me. I tried so fucking hard to let ‘em know that they were my brothers, that we were the best crew of ‘em all, but then they just…kicked me to the fucking curb, like trash.”

 

“You did do that though, Yoongi. You did so much for them as a crew, and you showed them just how fucking amazing you are. It’s not your fault that they rejected you because of their own ignorance,” Jimin pointed out, moving to place his mostly empty mug of coffee down on the table. “They could’ve had so much more, they could’ve had a shot at something huge, but they ruined it for themselves. But they didn’t ruin you. They didn’t destroy your talent, baby. You’ve gotten bigger, you’ve gotten better - you’re worth more than any of those motherfuckers and that’s the truth.”

 

“Thanks, Jimin, I think that I just needed to hear that from somebody, y’know?” Yoongi said, as he dropped his head to rest his chin against his chest. “Y’know the right things to say, always. Mmm, it’s kinda crazy.”

 

“I think that D-Town were dragging you down, Yoongi, that’s honestly what I think,” he continued, placing his cheek against the crown of his head. “I think that you were too good for them, and look at you now. You’re the most important member of Outsider Network. You produce and compose songs for dozens of companies, and every single song credit to your name? That’s a victory. You’ve been fighting a war against your past self for so long now, but I think that you’ve already won all of those battles and you’re ready to start again.”

 

“Yeah, I feel like a change’s coming, Jimin,” Yoongi agreed with a nod, his face brushing against his bare chest. “I feel like I’m getting ready to go out there again - to make my music, and I want you to be there by my side. As a feature on a track, maybe as a partner, y’know, so we’re a duo like what we joked about? I really think that it might be a good idea for us to work together like that.”

 

“As a duo?” Jimin repeated, brushing a tangle of Yoongi’s hair back behind his ear for him. “Oh, Yoongi, If M&M would agree to let us do that between my singles and my potential future album, I think that we should totally do it! Even if I’ve got to give them a big chunk of my earnings or whatever, I really wanna do it! Remember, you said that we should have two duos, a solo track each and an instrumental?”

 

“Don’t worry about that, baby, I’ll figure all of that shit out,” Yoongi remarked, pulling his face away to hold his gaze. “I’ll negotiate with M&M, I’ll get those contracts and deals sorted. Right now, you just gotta concentrate on your single, alright? You gotta get this one in the top three again, maybe even aim for number one.”

 

“OK,” Jimin said with a quick smile, before leaning forward to give him a kiss. “I’ll work hard to get a number one, just to thank you.”

 

On account of the fact that Yoongi had finally spoken to him about everything that had been playing on his mind for the last couple of weeks, Jimin felt so much better. He found that he wasn’t at all distracted during his vocal lesson, which he recorded like always on Yoongi’s laptop to save in his special folder so that he could examine it after several days of lessons just for the sake of it. His vocal coach also liked to review the recordings during their bi-weekly meetings in the M&M building after his professional lessons, and so they served a good purpose.

 

After hydrating his throat and warming up thoroughly following his coach’s exercises, Jimin started his vocal exercises.

 

For the past few days, said exercises had consisted of him singing lyrics that Yoongi had penned for his second single over the demo instrumentals. He was going to tweak it all and submit the demo to M&M soon to show them how far that his project had progressed - using his vocal exercises as the guides for the complete tracks.

 

Yoongi was still refining the lyrics, so he often found scribbled out lines all over his sheets of lyrics and scrawled corrections to the side that he had to memorise for his vocal exercises. This morning, Yoongi actually raced over to make a correction right as he had the sheet in his hand, which made him laugh.

 

Whilst Jimin worked away on his computer, Yoongi stayed in the bedroom on his tablet; his massive headphones in place and his notebook and pens spread across the wrinkled covers of his bed. He was working hard too, no doubt focusing on yet another track that was floating around his head that he just had to pen before he found himself thinking of something new. He had his round glasses shoved up the bridge of his nose, a messy spray of black hair across his brow that was hanging free from the usual beanie or snapback.

 

Currently, Jimin had two vocal lessons scheduled each day instead of just one - a morning and evening lesson. He wasn’t supposed to do any more than that right now so that he didn’t strain his throat, especially when there was another upcoming recording session for him in less than a week. He needed to take extra care of his throat in the days leading up to the recording session, just to not cause delays to the company schedule. That meant constant hydration with water and hot herbal teas, along with gently massaging at his throat before, during and after his vocal exercises. It also included getting plenty of sleep to rest his body.

 

But taking care of his throat was actually something that Jimin found incredibly easy. Thanks to Yoongi always ensuring to hand him bottles of water and giving the nape and sides of his neck little strokes whilst he was working on his own lyrics on the sofa, he had certainly started caring for it much better than he had done so in the past.

 

Now, if only a Yoongi could drop the constant cigarettes and take care of his own throat well too.

 

After finishing with his vocal exercises, Jimin stopped recording and he got to his feet to finally exit the bedroom and get cleaned up. He vigorously brushed his teeth, washed, toned and moisturised his face, and then he collected his own notebook from the coffee table so that he could go back into the bedroom.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but notice the fact that Yoongi kept checking his phone constantly, in a way that seemed to hint that he was waiting on something. It might just be important, but he didn’t ask him what was on his mind as he mulled over his own pages of attempted lyrics; his pen caught between his teeth so that he could nibble at it.

 

But after seeing his boyfriend dropping his phone onto the bed for the hundredth time with a weary sigh to bury his fingers into his hair, he finally asked him what was wrong.

 

“I’m waiting on a response for something important,” Yoongi muttered, his fingers still very much buried in his thick hair as he ruffled at it and he scratched at his scalp. “I ain’t gonna lie, I’m a lil bit worried about it right now. The deadline’s so close and I spent so much time focusing on this that I ain’t really sure what I’m gonna do if it ain’t gonna work out for me.”

 

“Is it about the project? Is it about the single?” Jimin asked, pulling his pen free from his mouth so that he could fiddle with the lid. “Do you wanna talk about it with me?”

 

“…You wanna go get something to eat from Café Yaong or something?” Yoongi suddenly asked, dropping his hand down into his lap. His glasses had slipped to the end of his nose, and so he reached up to pull them free and place them on the mattress. “Brunch, lunch, whatever.”

 

“Sure thing,” Jimin said, as he recapped the pen and dropped it onto his desk.

 

Whilst Jimin got dressed in a pair of fitted blue jeans, a loose borrowed black Stüssy tee-shirt and one of Yoongi’s jackets, Yoongi went into the bathroom to get cleaned up. He was in the act of knotting his boots by the door when the other man emerged from the bedroom fully dressed: wearing his favourite pair of torn jeans, a black Cav Empt pullover and his Number (N)ine blouson. His hair had been pulled back off his face so that he had been able to slip a snapback on his head, which fully revealed his rounded face and thick eyebrows; his skin dewy like always.

 

Just like Yoongi and his pouch for his tablet and portable charge packs, Jimin had brought his notebook with him - which he carried in the crook of his elbow on the brief walk to the cat café. He doubted that he would be able to think of anything whilst they were sharing a light brunch in the café, but he might just get hit by a sudden feeling and want to make a note of it, even if it wasn’t an exact lyric but was just a rambling thought.

 

Yoongi smoked on the quick walk to get to the café, one hand holding onto his and the other pulling his cigarette free from his lips every now and again to knock blobs of ash free.

 

Unlike the subway rides, in which he kept their entwined hands hidden from sight under the ends of his large jacket to avoid anyone confronting them with angry words, Yoongi was never that scared to hold his hand when they were out on the streets - especially not this close to his apartment block. He must have felt much more confident because he knew the area well enough to feel safe, but it might just be because they were less likely to be confronted whilst out on the streets.

 

Upon entering the cat café, Yoongi escorted them both over to a free table so that they could sit down. The interior had several people inside, but it wasn’t as busy as it had been for their last couple of visits. That was better in a way, as it meant that Jimin was able to interact with the different cats more easily, though he had already taken a strong liking to Jinju - with her plush white fur and the way that she would curl up in his lap for their entire visit.

 

Yoongi had his obvious favourite, Hoya, who he would hunt down by crawling underneath chairs and tables until he managed to locate him.

 

“I’m paying for brunch today,” Jimin declared with a smile, as he moved to slip his wallet free from his jeans and he placed it down on the table. “It’s my treat, Yoongi.”

 

“Huh? How come?” Yoongi asked in surprise, as he settled down in his own seat.

 

“It’s a thank-you for working so hard on my single project,” Jimin suggested, his smile widening as he cupped his chin in his hand. “If I get in the top three, or even number one, you can buy us dinner with those new royalties, hmm?”

 

Yoongi snorted at this cheeky joke, turning his head to look across the café as he might just be searching for the elusive Hoya to warm his lap.

 

When Minju approached their table to take their order, Jimin ordered the vegetable and cheese stuffed French toast just like always, with a small sweet dessert of mochi ice cream and a glass of iced honey tea. In contrast, Yoongi ordered the ham and cheese stuffed toast and his favourite dessert of honey toast with a iced caramel macchiato.

 

It was a small but filling meal that would easily tide them over until dinner, which Yoongi might just be preparing tonight instead of ordering takeaway naengmyeon for the third night in a row. Jimin could only hope that that was case.

 

In the time that it took for their order to be prepared, Minju brought them their drinks so that they could savour them whilst they waited.

 

Jimin left his glass on the table so that he could get to his feet and play around with the cats; finding that the tabby kittens, Moomoo and Looloo, very much wanted him to tease them with the dragonfly toy so that they could pounce up into the air and bounce around like mad. He couldn’t stop laughing at their antics whilst he tried to record them to post the video on Twitter.

 

Yoongi found Hoya and he got him into his lap, sneaking him a couple of biscuit treats just for the sake of it - even when he was technically on a diet. He watched him from their table across the café, smiling fondly to himself every single time that he burst out laughing because of the rambunctious kittens, and he even snapped the occasional quick photograph of him with his phone that would never be posted online for anyone else to see.

 

After playing with the kittens, Jimin was sure to thoroughly scrub at his hands with one of the cleansing wipes. It was just when he had joined Yoongi at the table again that his boyfriend’s phone suddenly lit up with a buzz. It surprised him as he reached over to pick up his glass, eyeing the glowing screen before looking up at the other man.

 

Yoongi shifted so that he could lift Hoya up out of his lap. The cat let out a funny rumbling sound as he was hefted up, his back legs and tail dangling until he was gently plopped down onto the flooring.

 

“Shit, I gotta take this,” Yoongi said, pushing the chair out so that the bottoms of the legs scraped against the flooring with an unpleasant sound. “Hang on, I’ll be right back - yeah?”

 

“Sure thing,” Jimin replied, lowering his glass so that he could turn his head and watch him leaving the café.

 

Hoya looked slightly disgruntled about the fact that he had been so rudely dumped down onto the flooring. Jimin saw the fat tabby cat glaring up at him as if it was somehow his fault that his human hot water bottle had abandoned him like this, and he could only smirk down at the cat as he shifted in his own seat to look out of the wall of windows at his boyfriend.

 

Even at a glance, Jimin could see that Yoongi was anxious whilst taking the call. It was in the way that he had brought his free hand up to his mouth, his fingers rubbing and tapping at his gnawed-on lips - a cigarette obviously missing from between them. He wasn’t pacing up and down currently, rather he had pulled his shoulders and arms in tight in a way that showed that he was far too tense to move.

 

What could the phone call possibly be about if Yoongi looked so nervous?

 

After several minutes of talking, Jimin saw Yoongi’s face shifting in response to whatever the person on the other end of line had said to him.

 

It was a quick thing, for one moment he was staring down at his sneakers, and the next his gaze flickered up as his eyes rounded to a shockingly large size. His lips pouted out when he said the unmistakable word: “seriously?” as Jimin was able to easily read his lips. But whatever Yoongi next said he was unable to understand, because it looked like he had stuttered several times in the process of speaking.

 

Jimin couldn’t help but stare at him for the entire duration of the phone call. When he finally ended the call, he expected Yoongi to enter the café again, but before he did so, he did something completely unexpected.

 

Yoongi lifted an arm so that he could rapidly pump it and shake his fist in what could only be a mixture of happiness and relief. His face scrunched up tight enough to make his eyes disappear into thick crinkles of skin, and Jimin saw his lips opening as he let out what could only be described as a loud hollering noise. The sound was mostly muffled through the café door and windows, but the faintest hint of his shouting bled through to make several customers turn their heads to glance out at him.

 

Yoongi hunkered down for a couple of seconds out on the street, his phone still clutched in one hand. It looked like he was either catching his breath after the quick rush of excitement, or that he was unable to stand because his knees had suddenly lost the ability to lock and keep him upright. But after the moment had passed, he straightened up again and he moved to enter the café.

 

Jimin could see that his face was flushed with colour, his cheeks flooded with a hint of pink that hadn’t been present before he had left to answer the phone call. He took a deep breath and held it for a moment before letting it out in a quick laugh, the sound making Jimin smile at him even when he didn’t have a clue what was going on.

 

“Is everything alright, Yoongi?”

 

“Everything’s fucking great, Jimin,” Yoongi replied with a wide grin, moving to drop into his seat again and placing his phone down on the table. “It’s so good right now, oh