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Love in the Sky

Chapter Text

Yoongi takes a long drag of his cigarette and lets the smoke waft out his open window. The wispy tendrils drift off, framed against the starry night sky. When he was a kid, his mother would tell him wishes made on stars always came true. He'd sit before his window and wish for little things - silly, childish things. Now his mother's dead and he doesn't believe in wishing.

His dreams are too big for him to rely on anything but himself.

He flicks the ash off the end of his cigarette and traces the path of a plane through the stars with his gaze. Yesterday, Kihyun linked him an article that chronicled his journey over the past year. The article said he'd made it. Yoongi takes another drag and lets his eyes drift shut, his lashes fluttering against his skin. His dreams are too big for him to believe that yet, either.

He opens his eyes. The sky will start to lighten soon. He's got places to go and people to meet, but he's tired. He's been tired for a while now. He crushes the stub of his cigarette on the sill and lights another one.

This year, he's going to make it.

Chapter Text

"Just come for a couple of hours. It's your song, it'll be good if you show up. People will like that."

"Fuck I care what people like?" Yoongi spins his wheel aggressively on a left turn and floors it down the street, weaving in and out of slow-moving cars.

“Everyone in the industry thinks you’re a recluse. No one wants to hire a recluse."

"I've got music to work on, Kihyun, not time to waste at a fucking video shoot."

"A video shoot for a song you produced.”

"So I'm a producer. I don't work with visuals."

"Just fucking show up," Kihyun growls, then hangs up.

"Fucking - " He sighs in frustration and pulls the next u-turn.

He stops for boxes of donuts on the way and arrives at the warehouse where they're filming in fifteen minutes by speeding. It's a typical music video set, an old shipping warehouse they've probably lined with strobe lights and flashy cars. Kihyun meets him outside without an ounce of relief on his face; clearly he had no doubts as to whether or not Yoongi would listen to him. He helps him carry in the stacks of donut boxes. The set looks exactly like he knew it would. Filming's on hold when they enter, the director and Daeil poring over the camera.

Daeil’s an idol rapper, a good one, and he'd come to Yoongi to produce his album at the apex of the year, when he was in highest demand. His is the last album Yoongi produced last year - the last time he vowed he'd work with idols. He's not in the music business so he can make bubblegum pop songs for manufactured kids who are taut strings off-camera, stretched like they'll snap any moment. This year's going to be different. He's made himself a name, and now he's going to do what he wants.

Showing up at Daeil’s shooting site is just an irritating reminder of the kind of work he doesn't want to be doing anymore.

"Ah, Yoongi-ssi," the director says. Yoongi has met him once for another video, when he’d wanted Yoongi’s input on the song’s purpose before he started filming. "You're paying us a visit? Should I be honored?"

Yoongi laughs dryly. "Brought donuts." He lets the staff take away his stack and joins them at the camera. "How's it going?"

"Hyung," Daeil looks delighted that he's there, and Yoongi feels a little less like it's wasted time. "I didn't know you were coming."

"Thought I'd see how things were going. Offer moral support."

From somewhere behind him, Kihyun snorts and disguises it as a cough.

"All right," the director shouts, his voice echoing in the large warehouse. "Let's redo the scene with Daeil starting in the car this time. And someone get Yoongi-ssi a chair."

One of the boys on staff rushes up with a fold-up chair for him, placing it right next to the director. Yoongi asks him for a cup of coffee and settles in, eyeing the set. They've got a nice, shiny Ferrari angled at the back of the warehouse, and Daeil heads straight for it, sliding into the driver's seat with practiced ease. Yoongi wonders how many times they’ve done the scene already.

"Nice car," he mutters. "They went all out, huh?"

The dance crew rushes by Yoongi, bowing to him as they go, to join Daeil around the car. They're dressed casually, baggy jeans and crop tops and the occasional hoodie. The music begins and they start dancing, Daeil rapping with exaggerated gestures as he emerges from the car. Only about three seconds pass before the director calls for a halt, yelling something about energy. Yoongi sinks deeper into his chair; it's going to be a long morning. He'd smoked a blunt earlier, but it's wearing off now, and he’s tired. When the staff boy brings him his coffee, he digs around in his pockets for the Adderall he always keeps on hand, bought off an idol who smuggles it in when he leaves the country. He swallows the pills down with his coffee when no one’s looking.

The scene resumes again. He watches the dancers idly, gaze flickering between them, Daeil, and the staff milling about off-camera. As Daeil nears the camera in formation with the dancers, his eyes catch on the man to Daeil’s left. He's pretty in a soft way, plush lips and round cheeks, but his body's lithe and strong. The crop top shows off his abs and the lean but defined muscles in his arms. Yoongi's attention catches on him mostly because of the way he looks at the camera, sultry and enticing, eyes lidded and head tilted. It's captivating. He dances the way he stares, too, flowing smooth and sexy, every movement an invitation.

Yoongi's still watching when the scene ends. He's only snapped out of his trance when he realizes the man's staring back, curious gaze latched on his. His instant reaction is to glance away, but he doesn't - he keeps on staring and quirks an eyebrow. The man glances away first.

They do a number of dance takes, and Yoongi can't take his eyes off the man in the crop top. The Adderall’s given him a burst of energy, but he's still running on a night of no sleep, and it turns him jittery. His fingers tap a restless rhythm on his knee, and he keeps shifting, rolling his neck and his shoulders and glancing around. The man meets his gaze a few more times, and each time he glances away too quickly; Yoongi sees the hint of a pink flush crawling up his neck by the third time.

"Quit it," Kihyun says from his seat behind him when he figures out what's going on.

"Quit what?" Yoongi sips at his second cup of coffee with false innocence.

"Quit eye-fucking the backup dancer, asshole."

Yoongi snorts. He knows Kihyun’s just worried about scandals; that's his job, after all, even if no one really cares what Yoongi does. He’s only a producer. He wouldn’t be on the public’s radar at all if it weren’t for his mixtape. But Yoongi can’t help it; it’s not often that he finds himself attracted to anyone, let alone a complete stranger.

They run into each other hardly an hour later. Yoongi's pouring himself another cup of coffee at the refreshments table when he sidles up, wiping sweat from his forehead with a towel. He bows to him before reaching for a plate, coincidentally at the same time as Yoongi. Their hands brush. The dancer snatches his away immediately, bowing again.

"Sorry," he says.

"No, go ahead." Yoongi watches him take the plate, his head lowered so Yoongi can see the crown of his dark hair. After he takes his, he hands Yoongi one, too.

"It's, uh." The dancer hesitates. "Um, it's really nice to meet you. Everyone's always talking about you, you're like, the hotshot producer and all that, and no one thought you'd be coming today - " He freezes, glancing at Yoongi and taking in the amused way with which he's waiting for him to finish. "Sorry."

"Min Yoongi," he says. "Nice to meet you, too. You're a pretty good dancer."

He flushes immediately. "Thank you. My name's Park Jimin."

"Good luck out there, Jimin-ssi." Yoongi raises a donut to him in salute as he backs away from the table. "Looks like it's gonna be a long day."

It isn't, actually. The dance take finishes within the next hour, then Daeil’s shots with the female lead are slated to begin. That's around when Yoongi stands up, going through formalities with the director and Daeil before he takes his leave.

"I'll be out in a minute," Kihyun tells him. "I want another donut."

Yoongi filters out with some of the backup dancers and heads for his car parked close to the warehouse entrance. He leans on its side and lights up a cigarette as he waits for Kihyun to emerge. He's watching the entrance when Jimin walks out, messenger bag slung over his shoulder, laughing with a group of other dancers. They catch sight of him quickly enough, bowing and scurrying on past.

Jimin lingers.

Yoongi nods to him. He's changed into an oversized sweater and a pair of torn jeans, hair falling over his forehead. He looks sweeter this way, cheeks round and face bare of makeup.

"That's a really nice car," Jimin says, taking a few hesitant steps toward him.

It's still relatively new, his Maserati. He'd bought it some time in the middle of last year, when he'd realized the money that had started to flow in wasn't going to stop. Yoongi's never been one for attention. He used to hate the thought of people looking at him when he walked into a room. But money and success, he's learned, tend to change a man, and his car certainly catches attention.

"Thanks," Yoongi says.

He's kind of in love with his car. Kihyun says he's married to it, jokes that he'll never care about anyone as much he cares about his car. Yoongi isn’t sure he's actually joking. He imagines the look in Jimin's eyes now is the same one he himself turns on his car, traveling over its matte black exterior like an awed touch, lips slightly parted. Yoongi can feel his ego inflate the longer Jimin stares at it like that.

"You wanna ride in it?"

Jimin's eyes flicker up to his, widening a little, his pretty mouth shaped into a perfect 'o.' "Really?" He takes another step closer. "You mean it?"

"I'll take you around the city. Drop you off wherever you need to go. If you want." He shrugs offhandedly, but inside he's quivering, hoping he'll say yes.

Jimin stops right in front of him, hardly a few inches between their toes. This time, he glances at Yoongi from under his lashes. "All right," he says. "I want that."

Kihyun chooses exactly then to emerge from the warehouse, munching on a donut with another one in hand.

"Kihyun," Yoongi calls. "Catch you later, okay?"

Without waiting for an answer, he jerks his head in the direction of the passenger's seat. Jimin doesn't have to be told twice. He slips in gingerly, carefully placing his bag by his feet and running his hands along the sides of his maroon seat. Yoongi gets in much less delicately, cigarette perched between his lips as he takes hold of the wheel.

"She's gorgeous," Jimin murmurs, brushing the black dash with light fingers. A massive hole in his jeans reveals a strip of smooth thigh. "GranTurismo MC, right?"

"Right." It's only because he's looking so closely at Jimin that he catches the way his pupils dilate at the low purr of the engine when he starts the car.

"You take really good care of her," Jimin observes. "It's pristine in here." He twists so he can take a whiff of the seat. "Smells like leather."

"You really like cars, huh?"

"Yes," Jimin says, and it's almost breathy.

At a stoplight, Yoongi watches the way Jimin's eyes drift shut as he inhales the fresh leather scent and wonders exactly how much he really does like cars. He cracks a window so he can finish his cigarette. "You can try the stereo, if you want."

“You customized it, right?” he says like it’s expected.

“Of course,” Yoongi says, because it is.

Jimin’s smiling, a pretty smile, as he reaches over to fiddle with it. He switches to the radio and starts in awe as the gorgeous sound filters through the car. When the light's green, Yoongi floors it. The car picks up speed with ease, pinning them to the backs of their seats. He has to slow down soon enough when he gets stuck behind traffic, but a glance over at Jimin tells him exactly what he needs to know. There's a slightly more visible bulge in the crotch of his jeans, now.

He can't help the secret smirk that tugs at his lips. When his cigarette's down to a stub, he tosses it out the window and takes a sharp turn down a road that'll take them to the prettier parts of the city.

"There's a blunt in that compartment. Hand it to me?"

Yoongi watches Jimin's face out of the corner of his eye to see if the question bothers him, but his expression doesn't change. He pulls the blunt Yoongi had rolled earlier from the dash compartment and lights it for him with the lighter sitting in his cup holder. Yoongi's about to hold his hand out to take it when Jimin says, "I've got you."

He leans in closer than he needs to and places the blunt between Yoongi's lips. Yoongi catches a whiff of him as he pulls away: shampoo and sweat and coffee. He takes a couple of puffs, letting the smoke fill his lungs each time, before he hands it to Jimin. They're at a stoplight when Jimin takes a drag; he throws his head back, eyes drifting shut as he inhales, exposing the smooth line of his throat. Yoongi's enraptured by it.

He’s getting lazy, driving too slow as his sense of time starts to shift, so he hunts down an empty parking lot atop a hill overlooking the city. Shutting off the engine, he reclines comfortably in his seat as Jimin passes the blunt back to him.

"You got anywhere to be?"

"Nowhere," Jimin says. "You?"

"Somewhere, probably." He shrugs. "Doesn't matter."

Jimin shifts in his seat so he's facing him. "Do you do this a lot?"

"Do what?" Yoongi asks, even though he can guess.

"Give people rides around the city in your pretty car."

"I don't let many people into my car," Yoongi says, and it's the truth.

"Is that right?"

"She's special."

"I must be lucky, then." Jimin takes the proffered blunt, one corner of his mouth curving upward.

"Lucky you," Yoongi murmurs. He's staring at Jimin's mouth wrapped around the blunt and he's not being subtle about it, either. Jimin's looking back at him through his lashes.

Yoongi doesn't know who moves first, just that their mouths meet over the center console and Jimin tastes like heaven. His lips are as plush as they look, his mouth hot and slick, and he kisses like he knows exactly how to unravel Yoongi. Yoongi wraps his hand around the side of Jimin's smooth neck, thumb stroking his jaw as their kiss deepens, their tongues curling together.

When they break apart to breathe, Yoongi sits back to smoke more of his blunt. His mind's hazy now, limbs relaxed, and he's not so stressed about getting to the studio anymore. He feels good. More than anything, he feels aroused, every glance from Jimin sending sparks through his veins.

"Everybody always talks about you, you know." Jimin's eyes are lidded, his lips slick. His tongue darts out to lick them, and Yoongi leans in to place the blunt in his mouth, this time.

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah."

"What do they say about me?"

"That you're a good fuck. That you can't keep anyone around, that you don't sleep and you smoke all day and you come into work with your nose dripping. And that you're a genius."

Yoongi laughs. He stares at Jimin, considers that maybe he's here for the thrill, so he can tell his friends he fucked the infamous Min Yoongi. "Does it scare you, what they say?"

Jimin doesn't hesitate. "No."

Their next kiss is deeper, messier, their lips more insistent, tongues meeting even before their lips do. Jimin crawls over the console and into his lap, straddling him with his knees at his waist. The hand that isn't holding the blunt fists Yoongi's shirt as he leans in with a hint of desperation, his knees spreading wider for his crotch to fit against Yoongi's. Yoongi can feel Jimin’s half-hard cock harden further as their kisses grow dirtier, more urgent. His own cock's hardening, too - it doesn't take much, not when he's high and every touch is heightened, every sound, even the taste of Jimin's skin.

He threads his fingers through Jimin's soft hair and yanks his head back so that his throat is bared for him. His mouth moves slow along the line of his neck from the underside of his chin to the hollow at the base of his throat, the touch of his lips light as a feather. Jimin squirms, panting, but Yoongi doesn't indulge him until he's dragged his mouth back up to his jugular. He parts his lips, tongue flicking against Jimin's soft skin, and kisses him there. Then his mouth tightens and he sucks, hard, feels the way Jimin jerks in response, a gasp leaving his mouth. He sucks until the skin's red and raw before he brushes his mouth back up to Jimin's.

Jimin rolls his hips as they kiss - they're dancer's hips, positively sinful in the smooth, dirty way they move against him. Yoongi breaks their kiss to moan into Jimin's neck as their cocks brush, the pleasure that much better from how much he's smoked already. His hands drop to Jimin's hips in a tight grip as he grinds back, head falling against his seat. They've hardly done anything and Jimin already looks debauched, the large hickey on his throat, his cheeks flushed, eyes lidded and hair mussed from Yoongi's hands. And his mouth , his fucking mouth, swollen and spit-slick - just looking at it makes Yoongi ache.

"You ever been fucked in a car like this?" Yoongi asks as he rolls his hips hard into Jimin's.

The way Jimin's cock twitches is enough of a response for Yoongi; his hips falter, fingers tightening where they clutch Yoongi's shirt. "You gonna fuck me?"

Yoongi takes the blunt from Jimin's fingers and fits it between his own lips for another drag. "You want me to?”

"I wanna - " Both of his hands curl in Yoongi's shirt, now, and he looks at him through his lashes. Yoongi loves that look. He could die with it on him. "I wanna ride you."

Yoongi's breath hitches. He takes another drag then briefly kisses Jimin's neck. He's starting to think he's a little obsessed with it, entranced by the smooth, untouched expanse. "There's lube in the compartment."

"Is it - " Jimin looks around them, as if just now realizing they're in the middle of a parking lot and anyone can see them, hear them. "What if we get caught?"

"There's no one around, baby." He hands him the blunt and watches him inhale. "And anyway, even if there is, we'll give 'em a show."

Jimin flushes even deeper. He leans off Yoongi's lap to get the lube from the compartment. "Of course you keep lube in your car."

"Don't you?" Yoongi teases.

"If I had a car, maybe."

Jimin shifts off him so he can unzip his pants and tug them down, revealing his muscled legs inch-by-inch. He tosses them at their feet, and he's left in his big sweater and a tight pair of underwear. Yoongi interrupts him with a kiss, replacing Jimin's hands with his own. He traces around the band of his underwear, snaps it, and swallows Jimin's answering gasp. He tugs it down slowly, grabbing a handful of Jimin's ass the process, tracing down his legs.

"Fuck, your ass," he says into Jimin's mouth and feels the way he smiles in response.

"Like it?"

"Can't wait to see it bouncing on my cock."

His underwear catches around his ankles, bringing them together, and a part of Yoongi wishes he could leave it there and fuck him with his ankles locked together. He tosses the underwear to the ground and pulls Jimin back into his lap, mouthing down his neck. Jimin's got the blunt in his mouth, now, and the sight of him smoking it as he reaches one-handed to pull Yoongi's cock from his pants is unbelievable. He places it back between Yoongi's lips so he can slick up Yoongi's cock with lube. Yoongi hisses at his touch, arching, pleasure coursing through him.

He's impatient. He wants Jimin's tight heat around him already, wants to hear the way he moans with a cock in him, wants to drive him senseless with pleasure. Jimin's impatient, too, Yoongi can feel it in the way he holds his cock and rises shakily to his knees to hover over it, head bent forward so he doesn’t hit the roof. He reaches behind him to align Yoongi's cock with his hole, one hand on Yoongi's shoulder to steady himself. The tip of Yoongi's cock brushes Jimin's rim, and even that tiny contact makes him shiver with anticipation.

"Come on, baby," he murmurs. "Show me how well you take cock."

Yoongi takes a long, long drag as Jimin sinks down bit-by-bit. His eyes roll back into his head at the pleasure, at the feeling of his cock slowly being engulfed by Jimin's impossibly tight ass. When he bottoms out, Jimin lets out the breath he must have been holding in a deep exhale, lashes fluttering.

"Ah - " he gasps. "Ah, god."

"You feel so fucking good," Yoongi growls, and he means it. He can feel everything - feel every inch of Jimin's suffocating heat, feel his breath and the smoke swirling around them, smell the weed in the air and Jimin's scent. He's dizzy with pleasure and aching with the need to move.

Jimin rolls his hips experimentally. They both gasp at the feeling, and he does it again, Yoongi’s cock moving inside him. Yoongi meets the next roll with his own, and Jimin whimpers, clutching tight onto him. Then he rises shakily, lets Yoongi's cock slip out halfway, and drops down. He moans when their hips meet with force, high and desperate, and he does it again, more quickly this time. Yoongi leans back in his seat, takes another drag, and lets his free hand rest on Jimin's hip. He slides it up Jimin's sweater, tracing the defined muscles of his stomach, flicking his nipple and relishing in the whine it brings him.

"That's it, baby. You gonna ride my cock like a good boy? You gonna ride my cock 'til you're coming?"

Jimin whimpers, again, and it's the prettiest sound, the sweetest, most helpless sound. He starts up a rhythm, bouncing on Yoongi's cock with his hands tight on his shoulders and his eyes squeezed shut. Yoongi leaves it to him, smokes the rest of his blunt til it's gone, letting the pleasure overwhelm him and take him somewhere else. Jimin's beautiful, flushed and desperate as he bounces in his lap, his oversized sweater displaying his pretty, unmarked collarbones; he leans forward while he moves so his head is close to Yoongi’s. Every moan he lets out as he fucks himself on Yoongi's cock is high and sweet and absolutely obscene. Idly, Yoongi wonders what'll happen if someone does pass by and sees them in his nice car, Jimin fucking himself with those pornstar moans leaving his mouth unbidden, surely loud enough they can be heard outside.

"You look so pretty like this. Prettiest thing I've ever seen." Yoongi traces the back of his hand down Jimin's cheek, brushes the pads of his fingers along Jimin's plump lips. His mouth parts at the touch, and Yoongi slips his fingers inside, lets Jimin suck on them, tongue laving around them like he's giving head.

"Yoongi - " Jimin moans when he removes his fingers, and the way his name sounds on Jimin's lips is heavenly, ethereal. "Ah, Yoongi - "

His hand leaves Yoongi's shoulder to push his hair back from his forehead, and the sight's so fucking hot Yoongi groans. He wraps his hands around Jimin's hips and slides them down to his ass, cupping his cheeks as he bounces.

"Your ass is unbelievable, baby, sucking my cock right in."

Jimin hits a spot that has his breath hitching; he stops there, sinking down until Yoongi's cock is as deep as it can get, their hips fitting tight together. Jimin leans in, theirs chests flush, and rests his forehead against Yoongi's. His breath warms Yoongi's lips, his eyes still closed, as he begins to move his hips in tight, little circles. A chorus of little whimpered ah 's leave him with every tight stroke, and Yoongi thinks his cock must be right on Jimin's prostate.

"Look at me," he demands. Jimin tries, eyes fluttering open, but they're unfocused, and the pleasure must be too much to keep them from drifting shut again. His fingers dig hard into Yoongi's skin. He moves his hips in faster circles, still just as tight and deep. Yoongi reaches under his sweater to wrap his hand around Jimin’s cock, thumbing at the head. "Look at me, baby."

Jimin tries again, fixing his gaze on Yoongi's, and Yoongi grabs his hips tight until he's holding him too tight for him to move. He ignores Jimin's whine of complaint, holding his gaze, and thrusts up so hard a cry tears itself from Jimin's throat. His eyes squeeze shut again.

"Open your eyes."

He waits until Jimin's looking at him before he fucks up into his tight little hole again, relishing in the helpless way it makes Jimin whine. Holding tight, he sets a relentless pace, feet braced against the car floor as he snaps his hips up, panting hard.

"Harder," Jimin moans. He’s so fucking loud, Yoongi could come just from his voice. "Ah, Yoongi, fuck me harder."

Yoongi fucks him so hard the car rocks, fucks him so hard he's crying out, crying his name, begging in desperate, mindless tones. He can't sustain the pace for long, but he doesn't need to - Jimin comes all over Yoongi with a shout, tossing his head back and arching his spine so hard it looks like it hurts, his ass clenching tight around Yoongi's cock. Yoongi fucks him through it, and he fucks him after, too, until he's coming in Jimin's ass and moaning into his neck. It lasts forever, his orgasm, tensing through him and releasing with such intensity he nearly blacks out.

Then they're collapsed against each other, panting, boneless. The weed made it feel like they fucked for ages, but Yoongi knows it can't have been that long.

"You came in me," Jimin mumbles against his shoulder. He sounds surprised.

"Sorry," he says, even though he isn't.

"'s okay. Feels good." Jimin lolls against him, blissful and pliant. "Never had sex when I was high before."

"Can't remember the last time I had sex sober."

"It was amazing," he sighs. "Take me home?"

They clean up with the box of tissues in the backseat, both of their shirts stained with cum, and Jimin slips back into his jeans. Yoongi’s car smells like weed and sex. He cracks all the windows and drives Jimin to his apartment complex.

Grabbing his bag and slipping out, Jimin leans down in the open doorway to say, "See you around.”

Yoongi isn’t sure he will, but he nods anyway. Jimin shuts the door between them.

Chapter Text

His third cigarette has dwindled down to nothing, and they have yet to make a decision.

“Listen.” Dahye reclines in the creaky studio chair with her hands laced behind her head. “We’ve got nothing to lose.”

Minwoo upends a can of beer over his open mouth to catch the last drops. Crushing it with both hands, he tosses it across the room into the wastebasket by the door. “I’m just saying, we haven’t worked together in years. Yoongi’s some hotshot producer now. You think we’re gonna get through this without butting heads?”

“Keep talking about me like that and we might not,” Yoongi mutters, dropping his cigarette stub into an empty beer can within arm’s reach.

“You even remember how to rap after all that idol shit you’ve been doing?”

“You remember the last time you mouthed off and I taught you a fucking lesson - ”

“Alright, guys.” Namjoon holds up a placating hand. “Look, we’ve already got some good material. All of us have tracks sitting around that can be refined - we’ve learned that much today. It wouldn’t be hard to start working together.”

“More than that,” Dahye says, “most of us have made names for ourselves since the last time we were together. A collab’s gonna create buzz.”

“And those of us who haven’t,” Yejin adds, “can use this as a jumping-off point.”

“I don’t wanna ride off your names.” Minwoo’s mouth curls into an expression of disgust.

“Yeah,” Sungkyum agrees. “I’m here to make a name for myself, not hang onto you guys like a fucking kid.”

From the corner of his gaze, Yoongi catches Yejin roll her eyes. “Fucking hell,” she says. “I misspoke. Chop my fucking head off. All I mean is it’s gonna be good for everyone.”

“I don’t want him producing any tracks I’m on.” Minwoo jerks his head in Yoongi’s direction. Yoongi leans back, his chair creaking, and stares at him silently.

“I’ll produce whatever you’re on,” Donghyuk suggests. “Yoongi hyung can produce the rest.”

“What’s your problem, Minwoo?” Yoongi says lightly, folding his hands over his stomach. “Tell me what I did to you.”

“Hyung.” Namjoon turns a warning gaze his way, but Yoongi ignores him, fixated on Minwoo.

“You know what the fuck you did. Don’t act like you’re innocent.”

“What’d I do, huh? You’re still mad cause I fucking left?” Yoongi straightens and moves his hands to clutch the armrests of his chair, his gaze burning into Minwoo’s. “You’re the ones who called me a fucking sellout. You’re the ones who didn’t want shit to do with me.”

“Because you fucking left, you fucking abandoned us so you could make more money - ”

“Don’t bring the rest of us into this,” Yunha says.

“I’ve been working my ass off since I was sixteen. I don’t get why it’s so offensive to you that I wanted to eat more than one goddamn meal a day.”

Minwoo’s standing now. Yoongi stands to face him. “We all know you just wanted more cash to feed your fucking drug habit.”

Yoongi doesn’t even realize he’s lunging for him until Namjoon’s holding him back, locking his arms behind his back. Dahye shoots between them, shoving Minwoo back with a rough hand to his chest. “All right,” she shouts. “Sit the fuck down.”

Yoongi wrenches his arms out of Namjoon’s hold and brushes off his sleeves, glare still fixed to match Minwoo’s.

“We could have a good thing going here,” Dahye growls. “What’s past is past. This is about the future. I don’t care how much you two hate each other; think big picture, yeah?”

Yoongi lets the anger sidle out of him, his fists unclenching and his heartbeat slowing down. He gets angry easier these days. Across from him, Minwoo sits back down.

“We used to have fun together,” Dahye says. “We used to have the time of our damn lives making tracks and getting lit.”

“Let’s make a decision,” Sungkyum says. “Are we putting out a mixtape or not?”

Silence pervades; Yejin pops open another can of beer, Donghyuk lights his second cigarette, Yunha glances at the clock. Their first mixtape had been shit. They’d hardly hit four digits in Soundcloud plays, and Yoongi still recalls with painful clarity the way it had felt to perform for an audience of the three people in a smoky club no one even frequented. But that was years ago. They’ve grown up. People know them now.

“Look, I’ve gotta go.” Yoongi slips into his worn, oversized denim jacket, the slight tremor in his hands all that’s left of his fury. He has another meeting to get to, a more official one, for which he’ll have to change into something presentable. And pop some Adderall, maybe, so he can make it through.

“Let’s take a few days to think about it and get back to each other,” Namjoon suggests. “I’ll walk out with you, hyung.”

“Mr. Producer’s got a meeting to get to?” Minwoo mocks. “Gonna make the next bubblegum hit of the month so you can pay for that pretty car?”

Yoongi’s blood boils, rushes to his face, has his hands clenching back into fists. Minwoo’s an ass, and he’s immature. Yoongi moves for the door without looking back, digging in his pockets for a pack of Marlboros and a light.

“Fuck off, Minwoo,” he hears Dahye say.

Namjoon catches up with him in the hallway. The company they’re in is where Dahye works, producing and rapping in a studio she shares with two others. Yoongi doesn’t know his way around, but Namjoon seems to, leading them toward the elevator.

“It’s been awhile, man,” Namjoon says. That’s an understatement. “How’ve you been?”

Yoongi shrugs. He offers him a cigarette and lights both of theirs, leaning against the mirrored elevator walls as it descends. “All right. You?”

“Could be worse. The mixtape you put out a couple years ago was fire, hyung, everyone was talking about it.”

“Thanks. I heard some of the tracks you worked on, too.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, I still follow your ass on Soundcloud.”

Namjoon waves him away with a flustered grin, his dimples making an appearance. Yoongi finds himself smiling, too. He can’t say he missed everything about their crew, but some of them had mattered to him even after they lost touch. “We should grab drinks sometime. Catch up. You can tell me all about the high life you’re living.”

Yoongi snorts. The elevator doors slide open with a ding, and they head out to the parking lot. “High life, my ass.”

“Come on, dude, you’re driving a fucking GT.” The car in question sits at the end of the parking lot, empty spaces on either side of it. Namjoon stares at it with stars in his eyes. “Bet you’re rolling with the big guys, right? You probably have your pick of drugs and ass, some of those idol girls are real hot - “

Yoongi laughs. He’s good at hiding his discomfort; he’d lived with Namjoon and some of the other guys in the crew for years, and they’d never figured out exactly what kind of ass he was into. “Yeah, yeah.”

“You’ve got choices now. Back in the day we used to be so desperate we’d have sucked dick for a gram, remember that?”

He smiles around his cigarette and considers how little Namjoon understands the truth of his own words. Yoongi had let a guy fuck him in exchange for a fix once. “Hell, yeah. Remember when you almost pissed yourself because some drunk idiot left their grass in the bathroom of that one club we hated?”

“Shit, best day of my life.” Namjoon sobers, dimples disappearing. Yoongi misses them almost immediately. “How are things, really? Last I heard from you, you were thinking about talking to your dad.”

Yoongi takes a puff of his cigarette and shakes his head with a humorless smile. After his mother’s death, he’d spiralled into a strange state of mind. For a while he’d considered hunting down the man who’d abandoned him before he was even born. The foolish fancy had passed quickly enough. “Nah, I was just being an idiot. Listen, I gotta get to a meeting. I’ll catch you around, yeah?”

“See you later, hyung.”

They separate, and as soon as Yoongi’s in his car he strips off his jacket and old t-shirt, trading them for a button-up and casual blazer. He runs a hand through his hair in the vain hope of making it more presentable and starts the engine, pulling out of the lot. Meeting with his old crew has dredged up long-buried memories, and he can already tell they’re going to fester.

But for now, he has to work.

Yoongi has already vowed not to work with idols anymore, but some of the artists who have expressed interest in him are part of the same companies he’s had dealings with. So as he walks down the halls of XO Entertainment after a successful meeting with one of their most popular r&b singers, everything’s familiar.

What isn’t familiar, however, is Jimin.

“Producer Min,” says an amused, delighted voice behind him while he waits for the elevator.

Jimin’s dressed like he’s ready to dance in black leggings and a baggy pullover. Despite being hungover, exhausted, and in no mood to open his mouth again after the two-hour meeting, Yoongi finds himself buzzing with more anticipation than irritation. “Jimin-ssi,” he drawls, hands in his pockets.

“You look like you just walked out of the grave.”

"Flattering. You really know how to woo a guy."

Jimin covers his mouth with the back of his hand when he laughs. Yoongi's hungover, and Jimin's too bright; he winces. "If I were wooing you, you'd know."

"Oh, yeah?"

“Yeah,” Jimin says easily. His mouth is plump and glossed and Yoongi finds he can’t look away from it. “Are you producing for one of our artists here?”

“Jihoo. Your dance crew is part of XO?”

“Dance crew?” Jimin furrows his brow, looking confused for half a second before it clicks. “Oh! I’m a trainee, not a dancer.”

Yoongi freezes. He should have known it was an option - so many backup dancers were trainees, after all. But he hadn't really considered that Jimin might be in the works to be an idol. He plays off his initial shock and says, "You’re a trainee?"

"Don’t look so surprised."

"Wait. How old are you?"

Jimin rolls his eyes. "Relax. I'm twenty-four."

"Kind of old for a trainee, aren't you?"

“Jimin hyung!” someone calls down the hall. The fresh-faced boy who approaches eyes Yoongi curiously before turning to Jimin. “Noona’s looking for you.”

“Ah, shit.” Jimin shoots Yoongi an apologetic glance, a goodbye clearly on the tip of his tongue when the elevator announces its arrival.

"Jimin-ssi," he says in farewell, slipping inside.

"See you around, Producer Min."

The way he says Producer Min , mocking and amused - he's not nearly as reserved as the first time they met. It’s almost irritating. But what’s more irritating is the boy next to him and the way he glances from Yoongi to Jimin as the elevator doors slide shut between them. “Producer Min?” Yoongi hears him ask, then the elevator descends.

Yoongi can't sleep.

He usually can't, and usually it doesn't matter, either. But tomorrow he has to be up to video chat with an artist in Japan who might want to hire him, and later he's meeting Jihoo in the studio to work on his album right before a recording session with a singer he produced a title for some time ago, and after that he's got to talk through a track with another rapper, and for what's left of the day he still has to work on his own music.

He needs to sleep.

He doesn't have much of it left, but he mixes what he's got of a bottle of codeine and prometh cough syrup with the Sprite that's grown flat sitting in his fridge. He produced a track for a rapper not long ago as a favor, and the guy had given him a few bottles of the cough syrup that he smuggled in the last time he went to visit his family in the US on discount. Dropping a few ice cubes into the purple liquid, he settles onto the couch facing the glittering nighttime city through his large windows and lights a joint.

Somewhere between sipping and smoking, his limbs grow lethargic. He slumps into the couch, the lights of the city blurring together the longer he stares at them, slipping into something like a trance. You fucking abandoned us . That's the worst part about lean. Start thinking too hard and you can't stop. Yoongi's thinking about Minwoo's face and how he's wrong, he's fucking wrong, but he's also thinking about that time he and Minwoo had gone to the club together and gotten high and laughed until they had tears in their eyes.

Raising his joint to his mouth and moving it away again has become too much work, so he puts it out and curls up on the couch, tugging a thin blanket around himself. He's looking at his piano, now, the little brown thing in the corner of his apartment, the one people always comment on - it looks out of place, doesn't it ? He can remember with startling clarity the day his mother bought it secondhand with the last of her savings, and how she'd worked an extra shift to pay for lessons. He'd hated piano lessons, at least until he learned that when his mother was called away to work at night, the melodies he played on his piano drowned out the way their rundown building creaked.

He closes his eyes, and it feels a little like then. His apartment doesn't creak like his childhood one used to, but he thinks maybe he can hear the sound of the wind whistling and footsteps in the hallway and the thump of something happening upstairs. He opens them again and stares at the old piano and feels like he's drifting out of his body. Everything’s slow and hazy and disconnected, like a beat that’s been slowed down until the vocals are deep and syrupy. He remembers being five years old when the piano was taller than him, and how it had loomed so large in their little, overcrowded living room. Then he remembers being twenty-one and returning home for the first time in five years to find that the piano was much smaller than he remembered, and the living room was, too, especially with the way his mother had let things go. Corners piled high with junk, ratty sofa littered with bills and receipts, floor covered in old newspapers.

Yoongi’s there again. His old home smells exactly the way it used to, and he's wearing the suit he wore to his mother's funeral. He runs his hands along the dusty, out-of-tune piano and wonders why his mother never threw it away. Everything's so small. The presence of his home doesn't loom as large and confining as it had when he'd made the decision to run away one night, lying sleepless on his makeshift bed opposite the room from his mother.

If his mother had been alive when he finally returned, maybe she would have said it, too. You fucking abandoned me .

Yoongi lets his eyes slide shut as he drifts into a heavy sleep.

Chapter Text

Yoongi doesn't really like parties.

There are better things he could be doing than watching sloppy drunks stumble around a strobe-lit club, and he hates nothing more than opening the bathroom door to piss and finding people fucking on the sink. That being said, parties mean free booze and, if the party-goers are rich enough, free drugs.

And sometimes it's easier to convince a high profile rapper to feature on your mixtape when she's high.

"Just one song." Yoongi has to shout to be heard over the music. He's cornered her where she occupies a high table alone, pliant and unfocused. Some big-name actor has rented out the club for the night, and Yoongi received an invitation through the grapevine. "Won't even be the title."

"I hate working with male rappers." She jabs a manicured nail at his chest. "You're all so fuckin' arrogant."

"I won't be, I swear. I'll do everything your way. Your style's perfect for what I have in mind."

She stares at him, eyes red, and sighs.

"Please?"

"No," she finally says. "Now piss off."

"Right. Sorry."

He turns away and tries not to reveal the extent of his despondency, but the slump of his shoulders must give him away. He's been working on his second mixtape for a long time, and it's even harder than the first. This time, people expect something from him. And Yoongi’s a perfectionist. Once he has a vision in mind, he needs reality to turn out exactly the same. He doesn’t have backup plans.

He leaves her be, the familiar misery of failure weighing him down. As he edges toward the bar, hoping to at least down a few shots to ease the disappointment, he catches sight of someone standing there in the tightest pair of leather pants he's ever laid eyes on. It only takes a second of intent staring for him to realize it's Jimin.

He could turn away and pretend he didn't see him, or he could use the element of surprise in his favor to have the upper hand in their inevitable meeting. So he walks up behind him and slides his arm around his waist, relishing in the way Jimin jumps in surprise, turning to look at him with wide eyes before he registers who it is.

"Jimin-ssi," Yoongi says.

Jimin relaxes. "Producer Min."

"How'd a trainee get into a party like this?"

Jimin's a little tipsy. Yoongi can tell by the way he giggles and leans into him, eyes crinkling from his wide smile. "I have friends in high places."

"That so?"

"Uh-huh. Want me to order you a drink?"

He shakes his head. "I was about to go out for a smoke. Want one?"

"No." He pulls away, and Yoongi feels a surprising lurch of disappointment. Then Jimin's small hand slips into his and squeezes briefly. "But come find me when you're done, okay?"

"Maybe.” He’s only teasing. He knows he’s going to come right back.

Yoongi slips out into the back alley and lights a cigarette, leaning against the brick wall. Even from outside, the thumping bass of the shitty American song they're playing rattles his bones. He should have stayed home, gone to the studio; he's wasting his time. Sometimes he feels like everything he does is a waste of time. Maybe he shouldn't go back to Jimin, either, precisely because he wants to, but something about the way Jimin looks at him keeps reeling him back.

The beginnings of a migraine throbs behind his temples, and the cigarette doesn’t do much to ease his trembling fingers and anxious heart.

Jimin's talking to another guy when he enters, a man Yoongi recognizes vaguely as an idol he may have produced for once. They're talking and Jimin's laughing, a hand over his mouth, and suddenly Yoongi has half a mind to leave. The man’s much more beautiful than Yoongi can ever hope to be. People only pay attention to Yoongi because he’s somewhat famous now. He knows that. The insidious voice that's always at the back of his mind whispers its usual - you're not good enough .

He's accosted on his way toward the exit by a distant acquaintance who wants to know what he thought of her latest album. He can't quite get out of the conversation, and by the time she drifts off, there's a hand on his sleeve.

"There you are," Jimin says.

Yoongi exhales a mix of relief and trepidation. He takes Jimin by the wrist to drag him out the back door, pushes him against the alley wall, and kisses him.

If Jimin's surprised, he doesn't show it. He winds his arms around Yoongi's neck and kisses back, arching toward him until their bodies are flush against each other. He tastes like alcohol and his kisses are as desperate as Yoongi's, fingers dragging through the hair on Yoongi's nape.. When he rolls their hips together, Yoongi breaks the kiss, gasping.

"Not here," he says. "Come home with me?"

Jimin's wide-eyed again. Yoongi won't get tired of that look. "Okay."

Yoongi's hands slide to Jimin's ass and into his back pockets, cupping his cheeks. "You got a mouth mask in there?"

"No."

He pulls away and tugs his own out of his pocket. "Here. Walk two blocks down. I'll pick you up."

Jimin looks confused. He's not used to hiding yet. A celebrity club party doesn't stay secret for long, and Yoongi's willing to bet a Dispatch reporter is hiding somewhere out there with a camera. Jimin’s only a trainee, and no one cares enough about Yoongi to dig up dirt on him yet. Still, it’s better to be safe. He likes his privacy.

"You wanna be an idol, right?" Yoongi says. "Better get used to this."

Jimin puts on the mask and leaves with a final glance in his direction. Yoongi waits five minutes before exiting from the opposite end of the alley, walking around to the entrance and asking the valet to fetch his car.

He finds Jimin in a convenience store buying ramen. "Really?" Yoongi says when he slips into the passenger seat with his bag. "You could have told me if you were hungry."

"I'm not. I was trying to look casual."

Yoongi can't help it; he laughs. It’s an incredulous laugh, not only because of Jimin but also because he’s laughing at something so small at all. "You're amazing."

Jimin grins at him. "You're laughing."

“I know,” he says, and the state of incredulity stays with him through the drive home.

He's only had his loft apartment for a year, and he's hardly in it. It's nicer than any place he's ever lived in: modern furniture, a living room with full glass windows, a jacuzzi in his bathroom. Jimin steps through his apartment with his customary wide-eyed wonder, and Yoongi can't really blame him. He remembers being like Jimin. He remembers sharing a place with six other guys and even then struggling to make rent like it was yesterday.

If his mother were still alive, he would have bought her a house instead of himself. He would have given her something better than the one room she’d lived in for decades.

Jimin stops in front of the large windows, the city lights glittering in his eyes. "You have a beautiful view."

"Mm." Yoongi comes to stand next to him. He supposes it is beautiful. He's never really around to see it.

"Fuck me in front of these," Jimin murmurs. He doesn't look at him when he says it, stepping forward and barely brushing his fingers against the glass like he's reaching for something. Then he glances back with lidded eyes, tongue darting out to wet his pink lips.

Yoongi puts his hands on Jimin’s hips and kisses the back of his neck. "I'll fuck you wherever you want."

He pulls away before he can get too caught up so he can gather everything he needs. It's one of those nights where he's feeling low, and he doesn't want to feel low when he's fucking Jimin, doesn't think he can do it if he's not at his best. So along with the lube, he grabs a packet of white powder, his wallet, a blunt, and a bottle of pills.

Jimin's still at the window when he emerges from his room. He turns to face him, eyeing his full hands curiously. "Is that - is that coke?"

"Do you mind?"

"No." He's still looking at it. "How do you get your hands on all this stuff?"

Yoongi almost laughs again. Jimin hasn't even seen the half of it. "I have friends in high places," he echoes.

His white couch is wide enough for them to be comfortable, spreading in a half moon around a pretty rug facing the window. He sits down, legs spread. Jimin's back is to the window, framed by the city lights, his leather pants and the slender chain on his neck catching in the glow.

"Take your clothes off," Yoongi murmurs.

Jimin plays with the buttons of his shirt, head cocked. He undoes the first one, then the next, revealing his smooth chest sliver by sliver. The last button leaves its hole and his shirt falls open; he slips it off his shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. Yoongi drinks in the sight with a hunger that’s almost foreign to him, gaze tracing over the divots of his abdomen, his dark nipples and his small shoulders. Jimin's hands stop at the clasp of his belt, tugging it down just enough so Yoongi can see the sharp jut of his hipbones and the indentations of his pelvis. Jimin bites his lips, lashes fluttering, and Yoongi wants .

Jimin unbuckles his belt and unbuttons his pants, tugging them down faster than he'd removed his shirt, impatience clear in his movements. They’re so tight they catch around his ass, and Yoongi shifts, aching with arousal already. Jimin kicks off his pants and then he's standing there in nothing but his delicate chain, a flush spreading down his neck. Yoongi didn't get to look at him last time, and he'd regretted that; now he takes in his leanly muscled torso, his round ass and thick thighs, his pretty cock half-hard.

Yoongi points at the couch. "Face down."

Jimin doesn't hesitate. He crouches on the couch and lowers himself so he's resting his head on his arms, ass jutting in the air. He's got the perfect ass, thick and round, and Yoongi finds himself leaning behind Jimin just to grab it and watch it jiggle.

"Stay still," he says.

He spreads Jimin's asscheeks so he can kiss his hole, small and fluttering. Then he upends cocaine onto Jimin's asscheek and pushes the powder into two straight lines with his credit card. He rolls up a 50,000 won note, presses one nostril shut, and snorts a line up the other. Tilting his head back, he sniffs again, then bends down for the other nostril. He presses the tip of his nose back, sniffing hard for any remnants of powder trapped in his nostrils, and sits back against the couch. He feels numb.

Jimin sits up, turning to face him. "Can I?"

"You ever done coke before?"

"No."

Yoongi leans forward to drag his coffee table closer to them. He spills more powder onto the table and forms two lines for Jimin, small ones, the size of one of Yoongi's combined. He grabs another banknote and rolls it up, handing it to Jimin.

"Plug one nostril. Sniff hard up the other. Sniff again."

He does as he's told. The sight of him bending over lines of coke ass-naked has Yoongi hardening even more in his pants, a restless itch of arousal under his skin. He can feel the cocaine dripping down the back of his throat now. Jimin snorts the second line and leans back, sniffing the way Yoongi had. His face scrunches up with discomfort.

"It burns," he says.

"It'll pass."

Jimin leans back into Yoongi, lashes fluttering. "Feels numb."

"I know."

Yoongi's starting to feel good, really good, the fog of despondency in his mind finally clearing. This is the only time he feels happy, confident, like he can do anything - like he's someone worthwhile, after all.

"How's it feel, baby?" He kisses the side of Jimin's head, shifting to hover over him. "Feel good?" He kisses down his neck, over his collarbones, licks the hollow at the base of his throat.

Jimin still looks uncomfortable, mouth scrunched in distaste. "Feels weird - my throat - "

"Just wait." Yoongi maneuvers them so Jimin's lying on his back. He pins his wrists to the couch and kisses down his chest, dipping his tongue into his bellybutton. "Just wait, and you're gonna feel like you're on top of the fucking world."

Yoongi's the one Jimin chose. He’s the one he came home with; he’s the one he’s bending over for. Yoongi's something, someone, and Jimin wants him. And he's going to fuck Jimin so good he'll be ruined for anyone else. He'll never want anyone but Yoongi again.

He’s consumed with euphoria, with the unarguable certainty that he’s someone who matters.

Jimin's surging to life beneath him, pupils dilated, flush spreading. He rolls his hips against Yoongi’s. "Yoongi, " he gasps. "Fuck, I feel good - fuck me now - "

Yoongi laughs. He drags it on a little longer, kissing every part of Jimin's body that he can: the creases of his thighs, the backs of his knees, the soft skin on the insides of his wrists. "You're so beautiful," he says, the awe obvious in his tone. "Have I told you that, Jiminie? You're the most beautiful man I've ever seen." He kisses his stomach, his hipbones, his pelvis. "You fuckin' glow. Can't stop looking at you, can't stop wanting you - "

"Fuck me," Jimin moans. "Fuck me, Yoongi."

"'Yoongi'? I'm your hyung, baby.” He's laughing again. “Turn over. Hands and knees."

While Jimin shifts to all fours, Yoongi lubes up his cock, hissing at the relief of his own touch. "Hurry up," Jimin complains. "I wanna feel you. I've been thinking about your cock for days. Dreaming about it."

"Oh, yeah?" Yoongi positions himself behind him, the tip of his cock slipping past Jimin's rim. "You've been dreaming about me fucking you?"

"Yeah." Jimin gasps as Yoongi slides in further. "Dreamt about you fucking me on the hood of your pretty car, making me come three times until the black paint was all stained."

"I can do that." He bottoms out, hips against Jimin's ass, and starts to rock in place. "I'll fuck you on every surface of my car and every surface of my apartment, too."

"Move faster," Jimin demands, rocking his hips back into Yoongi's. "Fuck me."

"So fucking mouthy," he growls. Jimin hadn’t talked nearly this much the first time, but neither had Yoongi; it’s the cocaine that turns them chatty. He starts to move in earnest, holding him in place by his waist and fucking him quickly, the slap of skin against skin echoing through his high-ceilinged apartment. It's overwhelming, the places where their skin touches and Jimin's tight, wet heat around his aching cock. Yoongi's fucked people on coke before, but it's never felt quite this good.

Jimin rolls his hips back against Yoongi's, matching his pace and whimpering through the quick thrusts. "Feels so good, hyung, I feel so good."

"I'm gonna make you feel even better," Yoongi promises, and he believes it. He's gonna make Jimin see stars.

He slows the pace down to an infuriatingly gentle drag of his cock against Jimin's walls. Jimin's hands fist into the couch, an irritated whine escaping him. " Hyung . Fuck me."

"What's it look like I'm doing?" he teases, continuing with the slow in-and-out. "I'm fucking you, baby."

"Not like that." Jimin fucks backward, his hips rolling smoothly, picking up the pace himself when Yoongi refuses to do it.

Yoongi stills, letting him do as he pleases. He finds himself grinning at the desperate way Jimin moves against him, fingers clutching the couch so tightly that they're white and tense gasps leaving his mouth with every roll. He takes pity on him after a minute and slams into him just as Jimin pushes back. The moan that leaves Jimin is the most beautiful thing Yoongi's ever heard. Jimin's trembling arms give way, and he presses his forehead to the couch, arching his back.

"Yoongi." It's almost a sob. "Hyung."

Yoongi tightens his hold on Jimin's hips, keeping him still, and starts to fuck him properly. He pistons his hips fast and hard, each thrust deep enough to draw a helpless, muffled moan from Jimin. Every sound he makes has Yoongi's cock twitching, every moan inflating his already drug-inflated ego. He's the one Jimin wants. He's the one making him sound like this.

"That's it, baby," he coos. "You gonna cry for me? You gonna beg for hyung's cock?"

Jimin's response is gibberish, muffled by the couch, so Yoongi keeps fucking him relentlessly. The sounds are obscene: the squelch of lube, skin slapping against skin, the couch shifting against the wood floor, Jimin's high, musical moans. He moans so helplessly, like he couldn’t control himself even if he tried, and he's loud . He's so fucking loud. Yoongi drags his cock out to the tip and slams in. Jimin arches, crying out, a choked sob.

"Come on, Jiminie, come with my cock in you. Scream so loud everyone on the damn floor hears you."

Jimin fucks his hips back, weak but desperate, and Yoongi picks up the pace with a final burst of energy, his thrusts so hard the end of the couch is picking up off the ground, and Jimin's nearly shouting.

Jimin comes first, splattering the couch with cum, his hole clenching so tight around Yoongi it hurts. He sobs Yoongi's name when he comes, arching, his body twitching from the force of it. Yoongi follows, coming in Jimin's ass with a drawn-out groan. The orgasm hits him with overwhelming intensity the way it always does when he's high, making him tremble and tense like he's going to pass out. Jimin's collapsed onto the couch, and Yoongi pulls out when the last of it has passed. He falls back to sitting, boneless and panting.

They're silent for a long while, catching their breath and gathering themselves in the sudden quiet. Finally, Jimin sits, cum leaking down the backs of his thighs. He leans into Yoongi, who wraps his arm around him.

"That was amazing," Jimin mumbles into his shoulder.

The high's starting to pass. Yoongi leans toward the table and draws two more lines of coke, snorting them with practiced ease.

"You're doing more?" Jimin says, clearly surprised.

"Want some?"

Jimin takes the proffered bill and snorts two more lines, too.

When they're high, they fuck again, braced against the window just like Jimin asked. Yoongi fucks him from behind with a hand at the back of his neck, pressing him into the window. Jimin's panting breath fogs the glass, his precum staining it, sweaty skin sliding against it as Yoongi thrusts. "The whole city's watching you get fucked," Yoongi says before Jimin comes, twitching against him, his cum splattering the window.

They snort more coke and they fuck again; it's a blur of bliss this time. They're sweaty and panting, but they fuck with as much vigor as the first time. Jimin’s draped over the back of the couch, his arms hanging boneless over the back, while Yoongi pounds into him with a leg bent to balance himself. He drags it out this time, edges Jimin until he sobs, fucks him so he cries when he comes. Yoongi's never seen a sight as beautiful as Jimin with tears clinging to his lashes, face red and lips swollen, dazed and fucked out. The cum that leaks out of Jimin's ass seems endless.

It feels like it's been forever, but Yoongi knows it can't have been too long. Jimin lies face-down on the couch, and Yoongi cleans him with a wet washcloth from the kitchen before sitting next to him, legs outstretched. He pulls the throw he keeps on the couch over both of them and lies there until the high starts to wear off. Then he grabs the bottle of pills and hands some to Jimin before dry-swallowing his own.

"What's this?" Jimin's voice is hoarse.

“Benzos help with the come down.”

"Oh." He swallows them without any more questions and lies back down, pillowing his head on his arms. "Is coming down from coke really bad?"

"Horrible. Worst thing you'll ever feel." Against himself, he curls his hands in Jimin's hair and strokes down to his nape. "You'll be fine, baby. The pills will help you sleep, and you'll be fine."

"Okay." Jimin's eyes drift shut, and his cheeks and lips puff out with the way he's lying down. It's cute. It's fucking cute, and Yoongi sighs. He's so trusting. Yoongi doesn't know if he should be flattered or terrified.

He leans over and grabs his blunt and lighter. Weed always helps him with the come down, too, so he lights up and smokes, reclining into the couch and playing with Jimin's hair. He thinks Jimin's asleep until he stirs, big eyes fixed on him.

"What?" he finally says, when Jimin shows no signs of looking away, the hint of a laugh in his voice.

"Nothing."

"Something on my face?"

"No."

"Then what?"

Jimin turns his face into Yoongi's hip. "Nothing," he mumbles. His ears are red.

Yoongi chuckles quietly and resumes stroking his hair. "Go to sleep, Jiminie."

"'kay. Goodnight, hyung."

Chapter Text

Yoongi wakes up with a blanket draped over his waist and no one by his side.

He pushes himself groggily to sitting, a sour taste in his mouth. The sun streaming in from the large windows sends a throbbing pain through his skull. Jimin's gone. Slipping off the couch and pulling the blanket with him, he pads barefoot past the coffee table littered with the remnants of last night. There's no note. He checks the kitchen counter and the back of the front door but finds nothing.

It's probably better that Jimin's already gone. He didn’t really expect him to stay. Yoongi falls back onto the couch and tugs the blanket tightly around him. He's cold and stuffy and his whole body aches like he’s been run over by an eighteen-wheeler. The fog has settled over his mind again, and it's worse than before.

Jimin probably didn’t want to stay with him any longer than necessary.

It’s suffocating, the haze that overcomes him, and he wonders how he even has enough energy to be so sad. He’d planned on spending the day in the studio aside from a meeting with some company goons later on, but he doesn't think he can manage to move anymore. The thing about being sad is that he needs enough of it to make good music, but too much and he can't do anything at all.

He's not sure how long he lies there, face pressed into a couch cushion to keep out the light, drifting in and out of a fitful doze. His phone vibrates incessantly against the wood table, but he's too listless to reach for it. He lets it buzz and curls deeper into his thin blanket.

Somewhere late in the afternoon he comes out of his lethargic, sickly haze and considers that Jimin's never done coke before. The pills should have helped, but he doesn't know if Jimin's alright. The realization stirs his melancholy mind into action, and he finally reaches for his phone. Calling someone he’s fucking the morning after isn’t something he should be doing, but this feels like something of a special situation.

Kihyun picks up on the second ring. "Where the fuck have you been, I've been calling for hours - "

"I need you to do me a favor."

"For fuck's sake, I thought you were dead."

"Don't be dramatic," Yoongi mutters. He sits up, blanket tangling around his waist, and rubs his face. His voice comes out throaty and dry. It hurts to swallow. "Can you get someone's number for me?"

"I'm your assistant, not a fucking PI."

"Jimin from Daeil’s music video. He was part of the dance crew. He's a trainee at XO."

"The dancer you fucked is a XO trainee?" Kihyun sounds incredulous.

"Get me his number."

"He's a trainee at XO . They aren't allowed phones."

"Fuck." Yoongi tosses the blanket aside and walks over to his fridge, retrieving a bottle of beer and uncapping it with his phone held between his shoulder and ear. "Listen, Kihyun, I need to talk to him."

"Did he steal something of yours?"

"Just - is there any way you can get a hand on someone at the company? Some way I can talk to him? It's kind of an emergency."

Kihyun sighs. "I have a friend who works there. I'll see if she can get in touch with him."

"Thanks."

He hangs up, takes a swig of his beer, and paces across his living room until Kihyun texts him half an hour later.

kihyunie 2:34 pm

he said to meet him at the shopping center near the company.

Yoongi chugs the rest of his beer and takes five minutes to slip into some clothes before he heads to his car. The strip mall full of high-end shops is easy to find; it's the only one anywhere near XO. He parks on the street, wondering where the hell Jimin's even going to find him, and starts walking past the shops. He's wearing a mouth mask and sunglasses, but that's more because his breath stinks and he's still sensitive to light. The general populace doesn't recognize his face, and no one he knows hangs around here.

It's when he passes the third clothing shop that someone calls hyung ! and he turns around to find Jimin walking toward him. He looks much better off than Yoongi, freshly-shaven and handsome even in his simple ripped jeans and white t-shirt combo. In either hand, he holds a tray of coffee and a paper bag from a bakery. An almost imperceptible limp turns his steps uneven as he approaches.

"Here," he says, holding the tray out to Yoongi. "Left one's yours.”

He hesitates before taking the drink, caught off guard. "Thanks."

Jimin removes his own drink and tosses the cardboard tray into a nearby trash can. "They came with free muffins." He holds the bag out and Yoongi takes one. He doesn't realize how hungry he is until he takes a bite and his stomach hurts. "You look like shit."

"You're limping," Yoongi fires back.

"Your fault. I got scolded because I could barely dance this morning."

"What'd you tell them?"

He grins. "Fell and twisted my ankle."

They drift over to a bench and sit, eating their muffins, and Yoongi realizes abruptly how oddly comfortable it feels. He doesn't do things like this often - simple, everyday things. The closest he gets is with Kihyun. Kihyun’s all he really has. Most of the time he's holed up in his studio or working with people, and when he's not doing that, he'll go to a party or get high with someone in the industry he hardly knows.

"So what's up? Why'd you want to talk to me?"

Yoongi clears his throat uncomfortably, watching a woman pause in front of a toy shop to feed her toddler a bite of ice cream. Smiling, she wipes his mouth with her thumb when he’s done. Yoongi wonders if he and his mother ever looked like that from the outside. "Just wanted to see if you were okay after last night."

Jimin’s eyes curve into crescents, and his cute nose scrunches up. "You were worried?"

"It was your first fucking time doing coke and you just left before I woke up, I wanted to make sure you weren't dead or wandering around paranoid or some shit - "

"You were worried," Jimin affirms, the insufferable smile remaining on his face. "Sorry about that. I had to be at the company really early. I felt like shit in the morning, but it wasn't too bad. You were right; the benzos helped."

“You sure?”

"Thanks for worrying, but I'm fine. I made myself eat a lot and drink water in the morning, and that helped, too." Jimin sips his coffee and squints against the harsh sun. Yoongi's glad Jimin's not like him. Jimin knows how to take care of himself. "I was - I was just sad. I didn't know what to do about that."

Yoongi laughs quietly. It's humorless. "Not much you can do."

"What about you? Looks like you're more hungover than me."

"I did twice as much as you, too." He rubs his nose and takes a gulp of coffee that burns his tongue. "I do it too often. Makes the hangovers worse."

Jimin peers at him curiously. "How often?"

He doesn't want him to know. "Doesn't matter. So is it true you don't have a phone?"

He looks a little peeved at Yoongi's avoidance but doesn't push it. “They said we can have them after debut. Wanna walk around?"

Yoongi stands when Jimin does and tosses his empty muffin wrapper in the trash. They amble down the sidewalk, passing flashy shop windows that Jimin pauses to admire every now and again. "When's debut?"

Jimin shrugs, and when he answers, a trace of bitterness seeps into his tone. "I dunno. They keep telling us it's soon then snatching it away because we're not ready."

"You already have a group lined up, or?"

"Sort of. There were fifteen trainees when I started out, then eventually they put ten of us on a team to debut. But people keep dropping out, getting added. Right now we're at seven."

"Not a bad size. I produced a song for a group a few years ago that was thirteen. They didn’t get along very well."

"If they hadn’t delayed so much, we'd still be at ten." Jimin stops in front of a shoe store, eyeing the pairs displayed in the window. "But people gave up, you know? A hyung of mine had been waiting for eight years."

Ten years have passed since Yoongi left Daegu, and he’s seen many people give up. Maybe he would have, too, if he were still sharing a room with six guys and barely making enough for instant noodles. He’s lucky he managed to make a name for himself. He should be happy he is where he is, but if there's one thing he’s learned over the past decade, it's that he's greedy.

"I keep coming here to look at those." Jimin gestures at a pair of black sneakers. They don't look like anything special. "I keep telling myself one day I'll make enough to buy them. One day, I'll walk right in and slam a fat wad of cash on the counter and say give me the ones in the display, please ."

Yoongi finds himself smiling; it’s a tired, sad smile. He remembers having dreams so small. "Why these?"

"They're the best dance shoes you can get. Mine are all worn down. They're starting to hurt my feet."

He wonders how long it'll be before Jimin makes any money at all. Most of the idols he used to work with didn't make anything. "Are you a singer, or do you rap?"

Jimin looks at him and snorts. "Hyung, do I look like I can rap?"

"I've worked with plenty of idol rappers who look as cute as you.”

"I'm flattered, but no. I'm a singer. I'm not very good." His face falls, but only for a second. They resume walking, passing a jewelry store and a salon. Yoongi's a few sips from finishing his coffee. He almost doesn't want to be; he'll have no excuse to stay. "What about you, hyung? How's it feel knowing you made it?"

"Haven't made it, yet." They pause at a tech store, and Yoongi eyes the overpriced headphones in the display with disdain.

"Are you kidding? You have a Maserati."

"So? I know someone with a Bugatti." That's going to be him one day. "I've spent these past years making music for idols. I haven't made it."

"What do you have against idols?"

"It's just not my type of music. I've been into hip-hop since I was a kid. I wanna make music I love."

"Everyone liked your mixtape."

"I'm gonna drop another one." He wonders if 'everyone' includes Jimin, then he wonders why it matters. "This year," he says, “I’m going to make it.”

Jimin smiles. "Fighting, hyung.”

“And this year maybe you’ll debut.”

“Maybe.” He doesn’t look like he believes it. “It’s all I’ve wanted since I was little. If I don’t have this dream, I don’t have anything.”

Yoongi can understand that. “Yeah.” He swallows the last drops of coffee and throws away the cup. “I gotta run to the studio now. You want a ride back to the company?"

Jimin shakes his head immediately, holding his palms out in a blatant refusal. "The last thing I want right now is a ride in your car."

Yoongi laughs, stepping closer so he can quietly say, "Why, because it makes you hard?"

The way Jimin flushes and glances around him is painfully endearing. " No ."

He steps away, still grinning. "See you around, Jimin."

He's halfway to his car when he realizes he meant it this time.

DNH

dahye 1:22 pm
so what’s the verdict? are we doing this or nah?

donghyuk 1:23 pm
i’m in

yejin 1:25 pm
let’s do it

sungkyum 1:38 pm
count me in if minwoo and yoongi hyung can keep their shit together

namjoon 1:41 pm
ditto

yunha 1:50 pm
let’s go bitches!!!!1!!

dahye 3:04 pm
minwoo? yoongi?

Minwoo 9:26 pm
yup

yoongi 1:22 am
alright. let’s make this shit happen

Chapter Text

These days it doesn't take much to make Yoongi angry, and right now he's furious.

"He's just doing this to piss me off. I know he is."

He paces outside the quaint coffee shop with his phone pressed to his ear, his boots scuffing against the gravel with every stomp. The anger's making him too hot in his baggy old jacket, but he doesn't care enough to take it off.

"Look." Namjoon voice comes tiredly down the line. "Maybe he is, I don't know. But you can't prove that, so can we just figure something out?"

"No, we can't figure something out. If we slow the beat down before the chorus, it's gonna ruin the whole goddamn song."

Namjoon sighs with a long-suffering air. "You haven't even listened to his version yet. You're being unreasonable."

"Because it's shit, that's a shit idea, there's no way we're doing that - "

"Hyung, can we at least try for a fucking compromise or something?"

"Put him on the phone. I know he's there."

"Hyung - "

"Put him on the fucking phone, Joon."

Yoongi looks up from where he's staring at the dusty toes of his boots to see Jimin crossing down the sidewalk in his direction. He's so beautiful that for a second Yoongi's breath catches. It's not even the way he looks, even though that's beautiful, too; it's the way he's smiling, the little dimple in the corner of his cheek, the pink lips and the crinkling eyes. Jimin raises a hand to wave.

He'd called him from a pay phone earlier and asked if he wanted to meet for coffee. Yoongi normally would have said no. He doesn't have time for coffee, and he doesn't get coffee with people he's fucking. But he tweaked in the morning, and when he tweaks, everything sounds like a good idea.

"Why are you being so fucking stubborn?" Minwoo’s irritated voice knocks him out of his brief reverie.

"You're the one who's being fucking stubborn. You know slowing the beat down won't fit the mood at all. If you were gonna do this shit just to piss me off why'd you agree to this, anyway?”

He holds his arm out and Jimin sidles up to him, clutching the hem of his jacket as Yoongi drops the arm around his shoulders. That's probably not a good idea either, but it feels like one. Jimin must be affected by Yoongi's carelessness because he leans in and kisses his jaw. It's a soft, sweet kiss, and his lips are sticky with balm.

"Not everything's about you," Minwoo growls. "I'm sending you the fucking file. Just listen to it."

He hangs up.

Yoongi stares at his phone with anger boiling in his veins and draws his arm back to chuck it to the ground, but Jimin grabs him before he can follow through.

"Don't do that," he exclaims mid-laugh, like he can't believe Yoongi would even consider it.

"Fucking asshole. I hope he chokes on his fucking - "

Jimin's still laughing. He claps a hand over Yoongi's mouth. "Why are you always so mad? And here I thought I had a temper."

Yoongi kisses the palm covering his mouth, and Jimin's so surprised he pulls his hand away immediately. He catches Jimin’s lips in a deep kiss, pulling him close until their hips are flush together. Jimin breaks it off after only a second, jumping away and glancing around them with his eyes wide.

"Hyung," he hisses. "We're in public."

"So?" Yoongi leans in again, and Jimin has to push his face away.

Yoongi grins, running a hand through Jimin's soft hair. "So shy, Jiminie."

"That's not it." Jimin scrunches up his nose. It's cute. Yoongi can't stop looking at him. "Come on, let's go inside."

Yoongi follows Jimin through the sliding glass door, itching to touch him again. He's not really sure how he manages to restrain himself. There's no line, and he's glad; he's too impatient to wait for anything. The barista has the ends of her long hair dyed pink, and she smiles particularly sweetly at Jimin when he steps up.

"Iced Americano, please," he says, then turns to Yoongi in expectation.

"Me, too." He joins Jimin at the counter as the barista punches in their orders and grabs two plastic cups. "You know, I was a barista once," he tells her. "I worked at this shitty little coffee shop in Daegu and got yelled at every morning by people on their way to work."

She laughs. "That happens to me, too."

Jimin tries to pay, but Yoongi knocks his hand away to offer his own card instead. "I always liked making Americanos, but when people came in and ordered that really sugary shit, that was the worst. Took so much time and sometimes they'd ask for a certain temperature or three kinds of milk - ”

Jimin's looking at him strangely. He pauses, staring back with an eyebrow raised. "Okay, hyung," Jimin says, taking him by the shoulders and pushing him toward the pick-up counter. "You're really talkative today."

"Have a good day!" he calls to the girl at the register while Jimin shifts him along. She glances at him and laughs again.

Jimin sticks Yoongi's card into the pocket of his big jacket with an amused smile playing on his pretty lips. "What's gotten into you?"

"What do you mean?" The cardboard coffee sleeves stacked on the pick-up counter are uneven, falling every which way. Yoongi fixes them unconsciously, straightening the sleeves until each one matches the one below it. "How come you wanted to meet today?"

Jimin shrugs. He's shy again, avoiding Yoongi's gaze. "I dunno. I had some free time."

"I don't really have time for this," Yoongi says honestly, and he hurries to continue when Jimin's face falls. "I mean, I don't have time and usually I'd say no, but you're the one who asked. So I didn't want to say no."

Jimin peeks at him from under his lashes. "Really?"

"I'd waste the whole day if you asked. Clear my whole fuckin' schedule."

"Don't be cheesy," Jimin laughs. "We don't have to stay long if you're busy."

"Who said anything about being busy?" He inches toward him imperceptibly, reaching out to clutch the ends of Jimin's open jacket. "I'm not even a little bit busy. I've got all day."

"Liar."

The pink-haired barista slides their drinks across the counter. "Enjoy," she says.

Yoongi follows Jimin to a booth in the corner by the windows. He slides in across from him and sips his coffee then realizes instantly he's not thirsty. Something sugary might have been better. He pushes his cup away.

"So you used to be a barista, huh?"

"Barista, then I was a dishwasher and a delivery boy and a waiter and a mechanic's assistant and I think I worked in a daycare for a little while, too."

"A daycare? I can't see that at all."

"What do you mean, Jiminie, don't I look like I'd be great with kids?"

Jimin snorts. His red, red lips wrap tight around the straw when he sips his drink. Yoongi's staring.

"You're beautiful," he says.

Jimin glances up, eyes wide like always, and a pink flush creeps onto his round cheeks. "Hyung."

Yoongi leans his elbow onto the table to rest his chin in his hand. "What about you? Ever work anywhere?"

"Right now I help teach little kids dance. I’ve worked as a gas station attendant and a waiter, too. And, um, I did some other stuff." The way he returns his attention to his drink is almost suspicious.

Yoongi narrows his eyes. "Other stuff like what?"

"Just stuff."

"Like what stuff?"

Jimin glares at him. "None of your business, that's what."

"Fine," Yoongi huffs. Someone's left a straw wrapper on the table. He folds it into tinier and tinier squares, carefully keeping the ends even. "I've been working since I was 14. I had to lie about my age so they'd hire me. That's when I was a dishwasher. Used to wash dishes all night until my hands were blistered and peeling and I smelled like a fucking trashcan."

Jimin's answering smile is soft. "Me, too. I started working when I was 14, too."

Yoongi doesn't know why a sudden rush of emotion makes his chest feel tight. He clears his throat past the lump that rises and focuses on unfolding and refolding the straw wrapper. "My mom needed money. Landlord was gonna kick us out."

"My parents kicked me out. I was in Seoul all alone."

"Sucks," Yoongi finally says. He looks up at Jimin and can't look away. Jimin reaches across the table to take the straw wrapper from him, soothing his anxious hands with his own.

"What's up with you? I don't think I've ever heard you talk this much. And you keep grinding your teeth."

Yoongi doesn’t have to answer; the play of emotion begins on Jimin’s face as soon as he asks. First the curiousness as he questions him, then the confusion, then the sudden, dawning realization.

"Are you high?" he exclaims before glancing around them and lowering his voice. " Hyung ."

"Sorry, Jiminie, I already tweaked before you called. I've got three meetings today. And I gotta finish this song or I'm going to hate myself."

He’s going to hate himself anyway, but it’s best not to add fuel to the fire.

"'Tweaked'?" Jimin furrows his brow. "What did you take?"

"Speed."

Jimin's eyes widen. He's always widening his eyes when they're together. Yoongi finds himself wanting to say things that’ll pull a reaction out of him. "You did - oh my god, hyung, isn't that so bad for you?"

"I never binge, I swear, and I don't do it a lot. Really. Just sometimes. Hey, don't look at me like that."

"That's - wow. You're really something, you know that?" He shakes his head, a disbelieving smile playing at his lips. "What's it feel like? I've only ever heard the horror stories."

"It's the best fucking thing. The best. I can go ages without sleeping or eating and getting things done is so much easier, faster, and all I wanna do is talk and talk - here, have mine." Yoongi reaches across to replace Jimin's finished Americano with his own. "And before you ask, you can't have any. Of the speed, I mean."

Jimin looks amused. "I wasn't going to ask."

"No, seriously. Look." He digs in his pocket for the balled up sticky note he'd stuffed in there earlier and smooths it out onto the table. "Before I got high, I wrote myself a note that just in case I saw you, I couldn't give you any, even if you said you wanted to try."

He’d hoped the note would force him to reconsider if he thought to offer Jimin any later, though it’s hard to know if anything will help when his inhibitions are lowered.

Jimin leans over to peer at the sticky note and Yoongi's messy handwriting - don't give Jimin any *****! "Way to be stingy, hyung. And I can’t believe you really bleeped it out.”

"I'm not being stingy, I'm looking out for you. I had to bleep it out just in case."

"Your whole house is full of drug evidence and you're worried about a sticky note?"

"Just in case."

"So you gave me coke, but you're afraid of giving me this." Jimin cocks his head. He doesn't look like he's upset, just curious. "Isn't coke just as bad?"

"This is different. This is - when you tweak you don't wanna stop. It's hard to stop."

“But you can stop.”

“I took care of it. Don’t worry about me.”

"Are you afraid you're going to get caught one day?"

"This girl who used to be part of my crew got caught in a club. Cops came in and started testing everyone who was there, and she was on a bunch of shit. We were terrified for weeks, the rest of us, in case they came looking for us by association. Then this idol who sold me some stuff a couple of years ago got caught smuggling at the airport."

"I remember that. It was all over the news."

"I was so fucking scared they were gonna figure out I bought off him, too. But I got lucky." He shrugs. "Yeah, I'm afraid of getting caught."

"You're kind of careless for someone who's scared of getting caught. We smoked in your car."

He shakes his head. "That's the thing. Cops only look for pills around here. Half of them don't even know what weed smells like."

Jimin looks doubtful.

"I'm talking too much. You talk."

"Talk about what?"

"I dunno. Talk about something. Tell me what your other job was."

"I'm not telling you," Jimin says. "Give it up."

"Why? Is it embarrassing? Were you one of those mascots who dances around in front of stores to advertise?"

Jimin laughs, eyes and nose crinkling. Yoongi's endeared. Without the straw wrapper to steal his attention, his laser focus has turned entirely to Jimin - to his pretty smile and the way he moves his hands when he talks and how his parted hair bounces when he laughs. "Why would I hide that from you?"

"I dunno. It's embarrassing."

"That's not embarrassing. Stop shaming people's hard work."

"I'm not shaming - I'm not."

"I'm just messing with you, hyung," he giggles, patting Yoongi's hand sympathetically. Three moles form a constellation on Jimin’s forehead; there’s another one dotting his collarbone and yet another on his neck. Yoongi wants to kiss them. He's staring again, he realizes, and Jimin's staring back, his gaze growing darker. "You said you'd fuck me on your car," he murmurs.

"Ah, knew it. You only like me for my car."

"Maybe."

He's only teasing. Yoongi can see the twinkle in his eyes, but for a brief second he wonders if maybe that's true. "I can't fuck you today."

"Because you're busy?"

He shakes his head. "I won't fuck anyone when I'm tweaked."

"Why?"

His already weak resolve weakens further with Jimin looking at him like that. He points at the sticky note. "Look, I even wrote it on the other side."

Jimin turns it over. Don't fuck Jimin . "Can't get it up, or?"

His lip curls in offense. "The opposite. Everyone says if you fuck when you're tweaked, you'll never be able to have sex sober again. This guy I knew, he and his girl used to go for 16 hours. And I'm not giving you any, so you won't be able to keep up."

Jimin's the one who looks offended this time.

"I'm serious. Don't ask me again. I won't be able to say no."

"Fine." Jimin leans back in his seat, pouting a little. It's fucking cute. Yoongi runs a hand over his face.

"Call me when I'm sober and I'll fuck you on my car, okay?"

"You never fuck sober."

Yoongi shrugs. He can't deny the truth.

"How come?" Jimin presses. "Is it because it's not as good when you are?"

"That's probably true. I wouldn't know, though. I only fucked sober once, and it was the worst fuck of my life. It doesn't count."

"Then why?"

"How come you ask so many goddamn questions?" He slumps in his seat, pulling the ever-present pack of Marlboros from his pocket. Then he remembers he can't smoke in the shop, so he tosses it onto the table in a bout of irritation.

"So do you," Jimin fires back.

"Not half as many as you."

"You don't answer any of them, anyway."

"I answer all your fucking questions."

"Liar."

"Well, you won't tell me about your job." Yoongi can’t pin down the reason, but he’s fixated on Jimin’s secret. He wants it with an almost nonsensical desperation. He wants all of Jimin’s secrets.  

"My old job doesn't have anything to do with you."

"Why I like fucking people when I'm high doesn't have anything to do with you either."

Jimin runs a hand through his hair, scoffing in disbelief. He's pissed now, too, and that only makes Yoongi angrier. "Considering you're fucking me when you're high, I'd say, yeah, it has something to do with me."

"If it bothers you that much, I won't fuck you. Shoulda fucking said something."

"It doesn’t bother me, that's not the point - " His voice rises, and he glances around, taking in a frustrated breath.

"Then what's the point?"

"I don't know anything about you."

Maybe that’s why Yoongi doesn’t want to let it go. He doesn’t know anything about Jimin either.

"We're fucking, Jimin, not dating. You don't have to know anything about me." He stands, grabbing his cigarettes and walking toward the door with his hands shoved in his pockets. Halfway there he turns back. "Mind your own fucking business."

He leaves without looking back again.

He told Jimin coming down from cocaine is the worst feeling in the world, but that's not true.

Coming down from meth is.

He's awake for 24 hours straight, and he powers through his meetings feeling like he’s on top of his game. The CEO-cum-producer of one of the companies he's working with even compliments him. You're full of the best ideas today, Yoongi . Then he puts the finishing touches on the last track of his mixtape and returns to the second track to adjust a small part of the beat that has bothered him for months. He finishes just in time for the crash.

As always, he takes benzos to help when he gets home, but he's running low. Thinking he can tough it out, he pops less than he usually does. He wakes up with his back aching, his temples throbbing, and a gaping pit of hunger in his stomach. Dragging himself to the kitchen, he digs through his mostly empty cabinets for some snacks, but halfway through a bag of chips he's hit with a bout of nausea and vomits all over the kitchen floor. He doesn't try eating again after that, returning to bed and curling up under his blanket. As the pills wear off, his heartbeat picks up, thudding painfully in his chest. His hands tremble and his vision swims, and a thump somewhere in the direction of the living room sends him into a panic.

With a curtain rod in hand, he inches to the living room, fully expecting someone to be there. He lives on a high floor of a secured building, but all he can think about now is that there's someone in his apartment. He spends half an hour scouring every inch of his place for an intruder, and only then does he return to bed and light a blunt.

The anxiety melts into sadness.

He's so fucking sad that he’s sure he must never have been this sad before. It's crushing, suffocating, a blanket of aching despondency smothering his mind and his heart. He's so sad it hurts. Another sound comes from somewhere in his apartment, and he starts to wonder if maybe his mother's ghost is haunting him. He'd deserve it if she was, deserve her sticking around to make his life as miserable as she had when she was alive. Somehow he's stuck thinking about what it was like growing up with her, and even though ten years have passed since he had to live like that, he’s afraid he’ll never be able to move on.

Sometimes, when he closes his eyes, he can still hear the way her voice sounded when she'd seen two men kissing on TV. Disgusting . If she were still alive, he wonders if she'd hate him. Then he thinks that would be fair because he'd spent most of his life hating her.

It had felt so good when he was high, so fucking good. He was on top of the world. He could do anything, be anything. He wasn't bogged down by crippling doubts or constant self-hatred. He wants to feel that again. He wants to be happy.

Kihyun picks up on the first ring. "You can't have any," he says.

"Come on, Kihyunie. I know I told you to hide the rest, but you don't understand. I'll be fine. Just a little more, just a bit, I swear I won't have too much - "

"You can't have any," Kihyun repeats, then he hangs up.

Yoongi calls him six more times, but Kihyun ignores each one.

He should get up and try eating again, take some vitamins and drink water, but he's too miserable to move. At some point, he thinks there's a shadow in the corner of his eyes, flitting around his room to avoid being caught. After that he buries his face in his pillows, pulls the blanket over his head, and stays like that until the horrible fog finally starts to ebb away.

Chapter Text

Yoongi answers a call from a number he doesn’t recognize four days later and hears Jimin’s voice on the other line.

“I sold drugs,” comes his blunt admission. “Happy?”

Yoongi’s in the studio looking over a track Dahye sent him with a half-eaten sandwich by his elbow. His mouth drops in disbelief, and he leans back in his creaky desk chair. “No way.”

“You wanted to know.”

He finds it impossible to accept that Park Jimin the wide-eyed trainee has ever had anything to do with drugs. Jimin who didn’t know what tweaking meant; Jimin who’d never even had sex high until he met him. “You’re lying.”

“Why would I lie?” Jimin sounds irritated. “I got into it for a few years when I was between companies. I needed the money, and some friends were already dealing.”

He’s too innocent of Yoongi’s lifestyle to have been a dealer. Yoongi doesn’t believe him. “Why didn’t you tell me? You’d think, of all people, you could tell me the truth.”

“It’s not something I talk about. I just - I dunno, you had an image of me. I didn’t want to ruin it.”

“An image of you.”

“I guess I give off that innocent vibe, don’t I? Guys like you like that.”

He can’t decide whether to laugh or scoff. “You thought I wouldn’t be into you if I knew?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Jimin clearly sounds frustrated, like he doesn’t know how to explain. “I just didn’t want to tell you.”

“So all those times you asked me shit about what I used, acted like you hadn’t done anything before, you were lying?”

“No,” Jimin snaps, instantly defensive. “I never lied to you, not once. I only dealt weed and ecstasy. I don’t know anything about coke or speed or whatever. And I never used, I just dealt.”

“You had pounds of drugs at your fingertips and you never tried any?”

“I couldn’t afford them. All the money I made went into living and helping out my brother. I didn’t make enough to do much else, there were too many people splitting the profit. And they were way too strict about counting for me to steal any.”

Yoongi lets out a disbelieving laugh, running a hand over his face. He tries to reconcile the Jimin who had so curiously asked him, how do you get your hands on all this stuff ? with a Jimin who has more insider knowledge than he probably ever will. “You’re serious. You were really a drug dealer.”

“I needed the money,” Jimin repeats, and Yoongi shakes his head even though he can’t see him.

“I’m not judging you, Jimin. You don’t have to defend yourself.”

Jimin’s silent. “Okay,” he finally says.

“Did you work with a gang or something?”

“No. I mean, I think some of our supply went through a gang in Seoul, but I didn’t really have anything to do with them. I just delivered. Met some guys a few times I’m pretty sure were members, but that’s all.”

“Who’d you work with then?”

“I started out with a friend who was part of this group that sold weed online. They grew it in one of their houses. So I just rode my scooter around to people’s homes and delivered whatever they ordered.”

Yoongi laughs again, just as disbelieving as before. Somehow the image of a younger Jimin on a little delivery scooter with grass in the back is rather endearing. No one would suspect a thing. “I buy online sometimes. Maybe you delivered to me once.”

“Maybe.” This time Jimin laughs, too. He seems to have relaxed. “Later on I sold ecstasy in club bathrooms. That was where the supply chain got a little more complicated.”

Yoongi leans back so far in his chair it bends, staring at the ceiling with wide, amazed eyes. “I never would have guessed it.”

“I didn’t want you to.”

“How long did you do it for?”

“Just a few years. I stopped when I made it into XO.”

“Wait, hold on. You’re trying to be an idol with a past like that? You know the public roasts people for taking a classmate’s cookie when they were five, right?”

“Do you think I’m stupid? My face was usually covered when I sold. Everyone was so careful not to get caught, so there’s not much that could indict me.”

“What if someone you worked with rats you out to the media one day?”

“They won’t.” He sounds so confident that Yoongi is inclined to believe him. “Trust me, they won’t.”

“Ironic,” Yoongi mutters. “Me the drug user, you the dealer. And you’ve barely even used anything.”

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Jimin’s soft laugh comes breathlessly down the line, and Yoongi unconsciously presses his phone closer to his ear. “A strange coincidence.”

“Yeah. Strange.” Lately, Yoongi finds himself dwelling on Jimin more often than not. He isn’t the type to apologize, but a part of him has wanted desperately to undo their argument. He doesn’t often enjoy sex the way he enjoys it with Jimin; he doesn’t enjoy anyone’s company that way, either. Now he considers that in place of an apology, he might follow Jimin’s example and offer the truth. “I have sex when I’m high because it’s the only way I’m confident enough to do it.”

An ugly, nauseous feeling swirls in Yoongi's stomach at Jimin’s answering silence. He's never admitted it. "Really?" Jimin finally says.

"I used to hate it, having sex, because my first experience was so bad."

He doesn't like to think about that anymore. Young and unsure, he bet his whole heart on a guy who was far too old for him and whose pretty words had meant nothing in the end. He hadn't been ready, but he'd said yes anyway, and it'd hurt and he'd cried and then the guy had never picked up his calls again.

"I'm sorry, hyung," Jimin murmurs, and the sympathy in his voice sounds so real that Yoongi’s heart clenches.

"Eventually I did it a few more times because I was high and it just - it just kind of happened. It was always better when I was high." He fiddles with the wrapper of his sandwich. "I guess it’s just habit. If I think about having sex when I’m sober, it feels too much like the first time."

"Yoongi hyung - ”

"Don't worry about it, Jimin. I'm just telling you because you wanted to know." He pushes past the anxiety that comes with having revealed a part of himself to say, "So, you wanted to get fucked on my car?"

Jimin laughs, a sweet, breathy sound. "I'm free most of tomorrow, and I'm not dancing the day after, so."

"Then it's a date."

Yoongi's lighting a cigarette in his car when Jimin bounds down the sidewalk out of his apartment complex. His breath catches the second he lays eyes on him. He's wearing an entirely see-through button-up shirt, the kind of sheer where Yoongi can see the brown of his nipples. His jeans are so tight Yoongi doesn't know how his ass has room to breathe, and a silk bandanna is wrapped around his thigh like a garter.

As he slides into the passenger seat, Yoongi says, "You really went all out, huh?"

"You're supposed to say I look good." He looks a little put out.

"You look amazing, actually." Before he starts the car, he hands Jimin his box of Marlboros. "You want one?'

"Nah. If I smoke too much, dancing gets hard."

"And singing, I'd imagine."

"Actually, my sunbae in the company smokes a pack a day to help her hit the lower notes. But she doesn't have to dance." Jimin eyes him curiously. "Are you high already?"

"Just weed."

"And you didn't save any for me?"

Yoongi can tell by the tone of his voice and the way he pouts that he's just teasing. "I have a blunt ready and rolled for you in the dash, actually."

"So thoughtful. I don't want it, though."

"In case you do." He pulls onto the street, flipping on the stereo to an old mix attached to his phone.

Yoongi knows a place deeper into the city that's full of old, empty warehouses and closed-down shops, somewhere they'll probably go unseen. Somewhere along the way, he feels Jimin’s gaze burning into the side of his head.

"What?" he mutters, focused on driving.

"You're really beautiful too, you know that?"

Yoongi snorts, but a flush crawls up his neck.

Jimin leans over the center console, and Yoongi tenses when a whiff of his sweet scent hits him. His lips brush Yoongi's jaw in the lightest of touches. "I mean it," he murmurs against his skin before dropping a soft kiss there.

He finds he doesn't really know what to say.

Jimin plucks the cigarette from his mouth so he can kiss the corner of his lips, his tongue flicking out to trace them. Yoongi's fingers tighten on the wheel, his eyes glued to the road, heat rushing through him. Pulling to a halt at a stoplight, he turns to catch Jimin's lips properly, kissing him slow and dirty. Jimin's hand slides along his neck, catches on the buttons of his shirt, and travels down to his belt. He unbuckles it one-handed, unzipping his pants and slipping his hand inside.

Someone behind them honks; the light's green. Yoongi pulls away and floors it.

He weaves between the few cars on the road until he's well ahead of anyone then relaxes. Jimin's stroking lightly over his cock through his underwear; Yoongi breathes through the tingles of pleasure, hands tight on the wheel.

"You really wanna do this right now, baby?" he murmurs. "I'm already not the best to be driving."

"I'll stop if you want me to stop." Jimin returns the cigarette to Yoongi’s mouth.

Yoongi can see him out of the corner of his eye: his head slightly tilted, eyes lidded, pink tongue darting out to lick his lips. He wonders how Jimin could have ever thought he wouldn’t be into him if he confessed his secret. "I don't want you to stop."

"Thought so."

His hand dips inside Yoongi's boxers and pulls out his cock, stroking until he's fully hard. Before Yoongi can register what he's doing, Jimin leans across the center console and kisses the tip. A shaky exhale leaves Yoongi, teeth digging into his lower lip.

"I like the thrill." Jimin’s lips ghost along Yoongi's length, soft puffs of breath tickling him as he speaks.

He's never been so happy to see a red light as he is when he reaches the next one. As he soon as he pulls to a stop, he looks down. Jimin peers back at him through his lashes, his pretty, plump lips resting against Yoongi's cock. While he watches, Jimin wraps his mouth around the tip and sucks lightly.

"Fuck." His nails dig into the steering wheel. Jimin's mouth is hot and wet and the way his tongue flicks teasingly against his tip makes Yoongi grit his teeth.

The light's green; he starts driving again, taking a drag of his cigarette. Jimin's tongue flicks against him, brief and ceaseless, and it's fucking infuriating. He needs more .

"Jimin, come on - "

He realizes belatedly that he's missed a turn. Irritated, he takes the next u-turn, and as he's turning Jimin sinks down a little more, tongue tracing a zigzag pattern on his cock. He wraps his small hand around the rest of Yoongi's cock and strokes as he starts to bob his head up and down. His tongue's fucking insane. Yoongi should have known from the way he kissed, but to have it moving on him like this - he doesn't think he'll be able to last.

Then Jimin sucks hard, and Yoongi almost crashes into the car right in front of him. He brakes in the nick of time, his hips jerking, a helpless moan escaping him. Jimin doesn't seem to have noticed. He wonders if he should tell him, then Jimin's sucking again, and Yoongi loses his train of thought.

Jimin pulls off, and the loss of his mouth makes Yoongi whimper. "Am I doing good?" he asks sweetly, Yoongi's tip resting against his cheek.

"You're good, baby, you're amazing - you're fucking amazing at this - "

Jimin puts his mouth back on him, sucking as he fondles his balls and strokes his shaft. His tongue hits a spot that makes Yoongi tremble, narrowly remembering to brake in time for the upcoming yellow light. Jimin stays there, tongue massaging the sensitive spot, hand working quicker. Yoongi lets go of the wheel to tangle his fingers in Jimin's hair. He groans the next time Jimin sucks, grip tightening in his hair in a way that makes Jimin moan, too. The vibrations have him gasping, muscles tightening, and he's sure he's about to come.

The light turns green, and the car in front of him starts to move. Yoongi puts a hand back on the wheel, cigarette between his fingers, and leaves the other in Jimin’s hair.

"You taste so good, hyung." Yoongi can feel Jimin's lips move against his cock as he speaks. He says so sweetly, and when he puts his mouth back on Yoongi, the pleasure starts to build to an unbearable point.

"Stop, stop Jiminie - " he gasps, and when Jimin pulls away, the loss of pleasure hurts .

"What's wrong?"

"I don't wanna come." He closes his eyes only briefly, opening them after a second to stare at the road again. They're almost there. "I don't wanna come yet."

"Fine." Yoongi doesn't have to look at him to know he's pouting. Jimin drops one last kiss to his cock before pulling back to sit upright. "I wanted to swallow your cum."

A rush of heat floods through him. He takes a deep breath, lashes fluttering. They're almost there, he reminds himself.

"Bet you'd taste amazing." Jimin leans in, lips brushing the shell of his ear, and nibbles on his lobe.

His cock twitches, and Yoongi thinks he's gonna die if he doesn't get to fuck Jimin soon. He puts out his cigarette and lights another one. Driving through the emptier side of the city until he hits the row of abandoned warehouses, he picks one arbitrarily and turns into the parking lot behind it. He parks in the very back of a lot - there’s no one around them for miles, he’s sure of it.

He's itching to get out and bend Jimin over his hood, but he leans over and kisses him first, sucking slowly on his tongue. The hood's still going to be hot. Jimin seems to have had the same thought because he pulls away to say, "I wanna do something first."

"Do what?"

"Sit in the back."

Jimin jerks his head in the direction of the backseat when Yoongi stares at him skeptically. Yoongi climbs over the center console and sits in the middle of the backseat, straddling the console that stretches back to connect with it. He shifts uncomfortably; in all his time owning the car, he's never sat in the back. He considers tucking his cock back into his pants when he realizes there’s probably no point; Jimin's already sliding out of his skin-tight jeans. Ordinarily he would be uncertain and maybe a little irritated that he doesn't know what's coming, that Jimin's ordering him around, but he's high, so he doesn't really care. He's too relaxed. He settles back and watches Jimin toss his pants on the seat and remove the bottle of lube from his dash compartment.

When he starts lubing up the gearshift, Yoongi understands.

"Jimin." His voice pitches lower.

Jimin glances up, a tinge of uncertainty in the way he looks at Yoongi. "Do you - do you mind?"

There's something absurd about Jimin kneeling in the front seat with his cock dangling, spreading lube on Yoongi's gear shift and asking if he minds if he fucks himself on it. Yoongi lets out a disbelieving laugh. "Go ahead."

Jimin flushes. He tosses the bottle of lube onto the driver's seat when he's done and kneels over the console, his back to Yoongi. His shirt falls over his ass, but it's so sheer Yoongi can still see his skin. Then he bends over, lifting the hem to reveal a dark red jewel between his ass cheeks.

"Wanna take it out?" Jimin asks.

Heat floods back to his softening cock. He scoots forward and brushes his fingers around the pretty plug, then pulls it out just enough to see where it begins to widen. It's black all around except for the bright jeweled base. Rather than pulling it out all the way, he pushes it back in and slides it out again, just to tease.

"Hyung, come on," Jimin complains.

Yoongi grins. He removes it, watching as Jimin's hole stretches around its thickest point before the plug tapers down to a small tip. "This is fuckin' huge, Jimin-ah."

"I wanted to be ready." Jimin already sounds a little breathless.

Yoongi places the plug on the seat next to him, and Jimin turns around to face him. Kneeling, head ducked to avoid the ceiling, he reaches behind him to hold on tight to the base of the gear shift so that it doesn't move. Then he begins to lower himself. Yoongi doesn't realize when it happens, but at some point his mouth drops open, eyes wide and awed as he watches Jimin sink down slowly. His earrings dangle as he moves, catching the light from the windows, and his eyes drift shut.

Yoongi thinks it every time he sees him, but Jimin really is beautiful.

"How's it feel?" Yoongi wonders if he sounds as affected as he feels. He takes another drag of his cigarette just to calm himself down.

"B-big."

The way Jimin stutters goes right to Yoongi's cock.

"You really do only want me for my car," Yoongi teases, eyes lidded. He can't look away. He doesn't even want to blink. "Look at you. You're getting fucked by my damn car instead of me."

"Such a pretty car," Jimin breathes. He finally opens his eyes. He's still kneeling, but he's sunk down mostly over the top of the gear shift. Slowly, he starts to rise up and fuck down, breath hitching as he moves.

"So dirty," Yoongi croons. "Such a slut, fucking yourself on a car like that. You think about this a lot? Ever since I first gave you a ride?"

"Been thinking about coming all over your seats, grinding on the hood - "

Jimin already looks so affected, The flush spreads from his nose to his chest, his tongue darting out to lick his wet lips constantly, sweat beading on his forehead. He fucks himself shallowly, his cock hard and angry with precum dotting the tip. His shirt's hooked over his cock. Yoongi's so distracted that he's hardly taken three puffs of the cigarette dangling forgotten between his fingers.

"You look so good when you're driving it," Jimin tells him breathlessly, eyes locked on his. "One hand on the wheel, watch on your wrist, cigarette in your mouth." He moans a little, lashes fluttering. "I love how you think you're the shit."

"That right?" he murmurs.

"It's so - you're so infuriating." He whimpers, rolling his hips.

Yoongi's so hard that he's almost dizzy with the arousal, already light headed from his earlier blunt. "That's enough, Jiminie," he almost growls, surging forward to fist a hand in Jimin's shirt. "It's my turn to fuck you now."

Jimin bites his lip, gazing at him through hooded eyes. He doesn't stop rolling his hips. "What if I want this instead?" he says. "What if I like fucking myself on your car better than I like you fucking me - "

Yoongi cuts him off with a bruising, angry kiss, their teeth clacking. "Let me show what it feels like to really be fucked." He bites a mark over Jimin's jugular, relishing in the way Jimin falls into him, pulling off the gear shift. "Gonna fuck you so hard you'll forget you've ever been fucked before." He pushes him toward the car door, climbing back into the driver's seat to slip out after him.

They stumble onto the pavement, fresh air a relief after the scent of cigarettes and sex. Yoongi grabs Jimin by the back of his shirt and pushes him face-down onto the hood of the car, his ass on display. Finally taking another drag of his cigarette, he runs a hand down Jimin's spine and stops to knead his ass cheek.

"I'm gonna ruin you for anyone else, Jimin-ah," he promises. "You'll never be satisfied with another cock after me."

"Oh, yeah?" Jimin bites back, cheek resting on the car. "You think you can do that?"

Yoongi smacks his ass, a tight, hard smack. The ringing sound of skin-on-skin echoes in the empty parking lot. Jimin's hips jerk into the car, mouth falling open in a gasp. "Were you always this mouthy?"

"Do that again."

Against himself, he leans down until his chest is flush against Jimin's back, his cock pressed between his cheeks, and kisses the back of Jimin's head. "Whatever you want," he murmurs, and he means it.

He pulls back and smacks Jimin's ass twice, one after the other with only a second in between. Then he rubs the reddened flesh with a gentle hand.

"Fuck me," Jimin says. The side of his mouth is pressed into the car, and when he licks his lips, Yoongi sees his tongue touch metal.

He slathers his aching cock in lube, hissing at his own touch, and presses the tip past Jimin's rim. Jimin whines in response, and Yoongi pushes all the way in until he bottoms out, his hips against Jimin's ass. His eyes flutter shut, and he takes a drag of his cigarette. He's dizzy with pleasure, just barely containing himself. After being on edge for so long, he's afraid he'll come the second he moves.

"Come on," Jimin demands. "Move."

He lets his cigarette dangle between his lips so he can free his hands to grasp Jimin's hips tightly. He starts to rock into him, picking up speed as Jimin's gasps turn into whimpers, the obscene smack of their skin meeting mixed with the squelch of lube ringing in the air. Jimin pulls his arms up to rest them under his head, shifting so his cock rubs against the car every time Yoongi thrusts into him.

Yoongi lets go of his hips so he can smoke the dwindling remnants of his cigarette. Jimin cranes his neck enough to glance back at him and say, "You're gonna have to do better if you want to ruin me for anyone else."

He crushes the cigarette beneath his foot and wraps his hand around the back of Jimin's neck. Then he starts to fuck him in earnest, hard and quick, pressing him tight into the car. Jimin's whimpers become broken moans, rising in pitch as Yoongi's hips don't relent.

"There," Jimin moans. "Right there."

Jimin comes first, rubbed raw against the hood, droplets of white cum spreading across Yoongi's black car. It only takes a few minutes of thrusting into Jimin's tight, clenching heat for Yoongi to cum, too, releasing with a groan, the orgasm always intense when he's high. When it's over, he balances with his hands on either side of Jimin, panting.

He wonders if he should tell him that he's the one who's ruined Yoongi for everyone else.

Pulling out when his cock starts to soften, he watches droplets of cum bubble up in Jimin's rim and leak out. Before he registers what he's doing, he's already dropped to his knees, spreading Jimin's cheeks with his thumbs.

"What are you doing?" Jimin mumbles, muffled by his arm.

Instead of answering, Yoongi laps at the drops leaking down his crack. Jimin's hips jerk as he licks around his rim, tasting himself, and spreads Jimin wider so he can lick inside his hole.

" Yoongi ," he whimpers.

He sucks around his rim, licks until he catches the last drops of his cum before finally pulling back and standing, letting Jimin's shirt drop back over his ass. Jimin turns over onto his back, reaching for him, and he complies without hesitation. He leans over him, kissing him long and slow, and wonders if Jimin can taste Yoongi's cum on his tongue. When he pulls away, bracketing Jimin with his elbows, Jimin's staring at him, soft and pliant.

He blinks slowly, lips twitching, and says, "Sorry I got your car dirty."

Yoongi laughs quietly. "Isn't that what you wanted?"

"Mm." He smiles when Yoongi threads a hand through his hair, pushing it away from his sweaty forehead. "Can I come over?"

Yoongi's hand stills.

"Just - just to take a nap," Jimin says. "My roommates are so loud during the day. I'm tired."

That's not something you do with someone you're fucking. Yoongi knows that. He's never even had someone stay the night, let alone come over to do something as domestic as taking a nap. But somehow he finds himself rising, the wholehearted agreement on the tip of his tongue. He's powerless to resist it.

"Of course you can."

Chapter Text

It's not usual for Yoongi to find himself in a club completely sober save for the glass of whiskey in his hand. It’s not usual for him to be at a club for a show, either. He doesn't really go to shows anymore. Ever since his crew cut ties with him, he'd stopped showing up at underground shows, knowing they'd be anywhere he went.

But things are changing now, and he leans at the bar with Dahye and Namjoon on either side of him, watching Yunha and Yejin spray water into the crowd. The rappers and the crowd buzz with energy, and Yoongi finds it infecting his veins, too. He'd forgotten how much of a high one could get from a good show.

"All I'm saying is people like ballads." Dahye waves her cigarette around as she speaks, as if she's painting a picture with the smoke curling from its end. "And Namjoon and Yejin could make a pretty good ballad."

"I'm not exactly a singer," Namjoon says wryly, moving closer to be heard over the pounding bass.

"Shut up, Joonie, we all know you love to sing." Yoongi leans back on his elbows, admiring the way Yunha captivates the crowd with just a look. "Yunha noona's gotten way better on stage."

"Yeah, well, it's been awhile since you last saw her," Dahye points out. "How long? Four years, five?"

"Something like that." He says it rather bitterly, and perhaps Namjoon notices because he tosses an arm around Yoongi's shoulders. "You want a ballad on the tape, then?"

"People like ballads," Dahye repeats, and he knows she's right. "We can talk about it with Yejin later, see how she feels."

"You think you can come up with something, hyung?"

Yoongi's already thinking about it. The hint of a melody begins to form in his mind, accompanied by Yejin's husky tone and Namjoon's deeper one. He tugs out his phone and starts jotting down notes. "You and Yejin noona meet me tomorrow. Let's talk."

Namjoon squeezes his shoulder before pulling away. "I'm gonna head backstage and make sure Donghyuk's not drinking himself dead before he goes up."

"I'm joining the crowd. You coming, Yoongi?"

"I'll stay here." He doesn't want to lose the faint strain of music before he can type something out to salvage later.

"Suit yourself." Dahye downs her last shot and disappears into the mass of people.

Distracted with his phone, Yoongi doesn't notice when someone sidles up next to him until the newcomer says, "You're that producer, right? Producer Min?"

He glances up. The boy standing there is slender and pretty with dark bangs swooping over his forehead. He looks familiar, but Yoongi can't place him. "Who's asking?"

"Junho. I train with Jimin hyung."

He's the one Yoongi had seen at the company the day he found out Jimin was a trainee. "Ah, right."

"It's so nice to meet you. You've produced some really great songs."

He’s not quite sure why Junho's sticking around to make conversation, and he doesn't appreciate the distraction, but he decides to humor him for at least a little while. "Thanks."

"Can I buy you a drink, hyung?" Junho hesitates before inching closer, leaning on the counter in a way that shows off the sleek line of his torso. "Is it alright if I call you hyung?"

Yoongi looks at him properly. He takes in the hooded gaze, the way he's a touch too far into Yoongi's personal space, and realizes Junho wants something. He clicks his phone off and slides it into his pocket, turning to face him. "I don't think we're exactly close enough for that, Junho-ssi."

Junho seems to take his change in attention as encouragement. "We can be. If you want."

"I think I'd like to know what it is you want, actually."

Junho leans in so his mouth is hot on Yoongi's ear, and his hand fists loosely in Yoongi's shirt. "Jiminie hyung said you fucked him in your nice, big loft. Made him cum three times."

Yoongi grows warm not with arousal but with the beginnings of anger.

Junho's oblivious. “Said you’ve got all kinds of drugs, that you don’t fuck sober.”

Yoongi laughs. It’s bitter.

"I'm good with my mouth, better than him. Let me show you.”

Yoongi knows Junho only wants free drugs or the rush of saying he fucked someone rich and famous, even if Yoongi's only a little bit of both. He's only in it for the thrill - just like Jimin, it seems. It doesn't take much to make him angry, but Yoongi's furious, livid at the thought of Jimin using him to brag. Livid at the thought of Jimin spilling his secrets. Yoongi had joked about it, teased Jimin about wanting him for his car, wanting him for the danger, but he hadn't meant it. Not really.

He pulls away from Junho with a sharp jerk. "Tell Jimin to keep his fucking mouth shut."

He lights a cigarette with trembling fingers on his way out of the club and doesn't bother looking back.

Yoongi smokes his third cigarette while pacing in front of the park bench with steps quick and hard. He swats irritably at a moth that flies too close to his face, drawn to the streetlamp by the bench. The lamps along the path through the park are the only light around; the stars and moon are hidden by a mess of angry clouds. It's his fault he's early, but waiting only aggravates his restlessness.

"Hyung."

He whips around for the source of the soft voice. Jimin's in an oversized sweatshirt and a big jacket overtop, hands tucked safely into his pockets. He looks soft. It should make Yoongi less angry, but it doesn't.

"Is everything okay?" He tilts his head cautiously. "You wanted to meet suddenly."

Yoongi doesn't mince his words. "I get this is just a fun game to you or whatever, but don't go spreading shit about us, yeah?"

He looks confused - brows furrowed, mouth twisting. "What are you talking about?"

"Some kid at your company wanted to fuck. Said you'd told him all about me." Yoongi jabs his cigarette in Jimin's direction. He doesn't step any closer, maintaining the careful distance between them. "Keep this shit to yourself. I don't want fuckin' trainees at my door looking for drugs or whatever the fuck - "

"What do you mean?" Jimin demands, and Yoongi isn't expecting the furious way he glares back at him. "What do you mean, this is a fun game to me?"

"This. All of this." He waves around them vaguely. "Fucking the big bad producer Min Yoongi who comes into work with his nose dripping and can't keep anyone around."

"Don't oversell yourself."

"Those were your fucking words." He drops his cigarette, crushing it under his boot, and takes out another one immediately. His hands are shaking. He only notices when he tries to light it and fails twice. "You might be in it for the thrill, but this is my fucking life, yeah? I don't want you telling people about it. You don't know shit about what it’s like."

"You don't know shit about my life either." Jimin's hands aren't in his pockets anymore. They clench into fists by his sides. "I told you I liked the thrill. It wasn't a fucking secret."

"Yeah, well." He's bitter. He's so fucking bitter and part of him doesn't even know why. "Didn't think you were gonna go around using me for bragging rights."

"I'm not using you for fucking bragging rights - "

"If you're gonna use me, at least keep your mouth shut about it."

"You're talking like you aren't using me, too." Jimin laughs. It's harsh. "I'm just a distraction for you. You can't pretend this is anything else."

"If it bothers you so much, why are you fucking me?"

"It doesn't bother me. I don't give a fuck what you're using me for. This is just sex. Don't get it twisted." He crosses his arms tight against his chest, and it makes him look smaller. "What bothers me is that you're a hypocrite, and you're accusing me of shit that isn't true."

"Who the fuck told that kid about us then, huh? You think he just found out from a little bird outside his window?"

"Who was it?"

Yoongi scoffs. "How many fuckin' people did you tell?"

"Shut the fuck up!" Jimin digs his feet into the ground, glaring through his fringe. "Who was it?"

"Said his name was Junho."

Jimin's whole body quivers with frustration, an irritated noise leaving his mouth. "Of course it was," he says, then turns around and starts to march away.

"Hey, where the fuck are you going? I'm not done - "

Jimin turns around and stomps right up to him until their toes touch, jamming his finger at Yoongi's chest. "You think you know everything, right? You think you've got this all figured out?"

"I do. I know exactly what you're about." He doesn't back away, matching Jimin's glare with his own. "I've seen your kind before."

"Well, Producer Min," he spits. "You don't know nearly as much as you think you do."

Yoongi watches him walk away, itching with frustration. Jimin doesn't get it. "Jimin - "

"Fuck off!" Jimin shouts over his shoulder, then he's gone, and Yoongi's left staring down the dimly lit path.

Yoongi's distracted, and he's afraid it might be because of Jimin.

"Hyung. Hyung!"

He snaps to attention and finds Namjoon staring at him with an eyebrow raised. Yejin's in the sound booth practicing her lyrics, pausing every now and then to scribble notes on the wrinkled piece of paper in her hands. "What?"

"Where's your head today?"

He rubs his face and shrugs. He'd been replaying their argument in his head like he has been for the past two days. When he closes his eyes for too long, he can see Jimin's furious face floating on his eyelids. You think you know everything, right ? "Dunno. What were you saying?"

"I was saying you should talk to Minwoo hyung. He's got some pretty good ideas. Both of you working together could be an asset."

Yoongi snorts, leaning back in his creaky studio chair. "Right, Minwoo bashing my nose into the soundboard will definitely be an asset."

"If you both weren't so damn childish. This is a collaborative effort, you know. It kind of drives a wedge in things when two members of the crew can't even be in the same room together."

"He's the childish one, not me."

"You're just as bad."

"Well, he fucking started it."

Namjoon rolls his eyes, reaching for his half-finished can of beer in frustration. "Fine, be stubborn."

From the glass window of the sound booth, Yejin raises two thumbs up to show that she's ready to go. Yoongi adjusts a few settings on the sound board before Yejin starts singing, her voice low and husky. He cuts her off after a moment.

"See if you can work out the last line. The placement of 'path' and 'eyes' comes off awkward."

She nods and returns to her crumpled sheet of lyrics.

"You finished your mixtape, right?" Namjoon asks.

"Almost. Just finalizing some things."

"When are you gonna post it?"

Yoongi shrugs one shoulder. It comes off as blasé, even though he's been asking himself the same question every day since he completed the final song. He's nervous. They say the first time's always the hardest, but in the case of dropping an album, it feels like the second time's even worse. People expect something from him now. People know him.

"What about you? Dahye noona said you were working on some stuff?"

"Same old shit. Been working on some music for a while, but nothing ever turns out the way I want it to. I've scrapped so many shitty songs."

"Yeah. I feel that."

Namjoon settles back in his chair, and the look on his face is considering. It's been awhile since they've really known each other, but Yoongi still recognizes when Namjoon is debating whether or not to say something.

"Spit it out," he mutters.

Namjoon shoots him a look. "I'm, uh, going to the columbarium tomorrow. To visit my sister."

Yoongi knows what Namjoon's going to say next.

"Your mom's at the same one as her, right? Do you wanna come with?"

He’s one of the few people who knew anything about Yoongi and his mother - him and Minwoo. "Busy tomorrow." It's true, but if he wanted to go, he could have made time.

Namjoon knows that. "Have you visited her at all?"

He hasn't gone to her memorial site a single time. Once, when he had a bad trip, he thought he saw her at his window dressed in white with long, stringy hair like a horror movie gwishin. Even in death you abandoned me , she'd said. "I don't see how that's any of your business."

"Relax." Namjoon raises his hands in a gesture of placation. "I was just wondering."

"Wonder a little less, why don't you?"

Yejin waves at them through the window.

"Let's try again," he tells her, and gets back to work.

Yoongi dreams of Jimin on fire.

He sits on Yoongi's bed with flames licking up his back and arms. Yoongi yells at him to move, but he stares back curiously, his head tilted. His face is a pixelated blur, but somehow Yoongi knows it's him anyway.

"I'm fine," he says, and Yoongi sees the blur of his mouth move.

But he's burning, and Yoongi keeps screaming for him to get up, to find water and put the fire out. He tries to move closer, but he can't. His limbs are locked in place.

"I'm fine," Jimin repeats, and Yoongi's voice won't work anymore. He clutches his throat with a bruising gasp, shouting soundlessly.

A bird sings a pretty melody that floats in through the window. It sits on the sill and watches him with its head tilted just like Jimin's.

"You never loved me," Jimin says, only it's his mother's voice that comes out.

He wakes up sweating.

Chapter Text

Yoongi walks into XO Entertainment expecting that he might run into Jimin. When he makes it through the building and to the studio without an encounter, he's relieved. What he doesn’t expect, however, is finding him seated before the soundboard with Jihoo, leaning too close with a laugh perched on the tip of his tongue.

Jihoo points out some of the controls, and Jimin watches him like he's the most riveting person he's ever seen. Yoongi clears his throat before knocking lightly on the open door. They both jump and turn toward him, but Jimin blanches. He must have forgotten that Yoongi had mentioned working with Jihoo.

Jihoo scrambles to his feet and bows. Next to him, Jimin does the same.

Looking at Jimin fills him with a strange mix of anger and relief. He nods to them both and takes the chair Jimin offers him at the soundboard. "How's your voice today, Jihoo?"

Acting unaffected is harder than anticipated.

“I've been taking better care of it since the last time." Jihoo hesitates then gestures to Jimin. "This is Jimin, a trainee in the company. He asked if he could sit in on the recording session today, if that's okay with you."

"I won't cause any trouble," Jimin says, his eyes fixed on Yoongi's. They reveal very little about any inner turmoil he might be having, if he feels anything at all. "You won't even know I'm here, Producer Min."

Yoongi clears his throat. “Right. Yeah.”

They both bow and thank him profusely. He shifts in the sleek studio chair and tugs at his collar. Working in studios other than his own always makes him uncomfortable, but they'd offered him extra to come to XO instead. It takes him a little over an hour to set up, during which Jihoo does his vocal exercises and occasionally explains things to Jimin in the manner of someone trying to impress.

Last time, it only took us an hour to record the title track.

You'll be up here one day, too, Jiminie.

It's tough work, yeah, but it's worth it.

Yoongi tries not to be irritated. He mostly fails. When he's finally ready, he tests the sound a few more times before turning to Jihoo and Jimin, who sit shoulder-to-shoulder on the leather couch.

"You wanna get in there?" He jerks his head toward the recording booth. "We'll pick up on track 5 like we discussed."

Jihoo takes his sheet music and water bottle into the recording booth, and Yoongi pours himself a cup of coffee from the steel urn some staff member has set up in the back of the studio. Jimin feels too close for comfort, even though realistically he sits nowhere near Yoongi. A table separates his couch from Yoongi's chair, and Jimin's probably not even looking at him. Still, the back of his neck prickles like it can sense the weight of Jimin's gaze burning into him.

He tries his best to focus on Jihoo and not Jimin, and they make it through track 5 with relative ease. Jihoo's voice is top notch this time around; Yoongi barely has to stop him for do-overs. As promised, Jimin doesn't say a word. Jihoo comes out for a break before they start the next track, and Yoongi chances a glance back at Jimin. He's staring at the soundboard curiously, leaning forward in his seat so he can see it better.

“It looks more complicated than it is,” Yoongi finds himself saying. When Jimin’s gaze flickers up to his in response, Yoongi’s stomach clenches.

“What are all the rows for? They all look the same.”

“Channel strips. Each one controls a different signal. The singer’s mic, the bass line, the guitar, stuff like that.”

“Oh.” Jimin returns his attention to the sound board, and Jihoo heads back into the booth.

This time when they continue, Yoongi hesitantly pauses every now and then to explain to Jimin what he's doing. It's a tentative peace offering, perhaps the best he has to offer. In turn, Jimin listens carefully and asks the occasional question. Yoongi still doesn't know how to feel about Jimin, doesn't know if he can trust his insistence that he hadn't told Junho about them. But he does know that a strange part of himself misses Jimin. He’s not sure how to deal with that.

Halfway through track 6, when Yoongi’s starting to get hungry, Jihoo suddenly stops singing.

Jihoo’s eyes widen as he breaks his laser focus on his sheet of lyrics to stare at him. Yoongi takes a moment to register that his mouth's no longer moving before keying into the sound to ask, "What happened?"

Jihoo gestures to his nose then at Yoongi. Now that he's paying attention, Yoongi realizes something wet drips onto his upper lip. He swipes it away, thinking it’s phlegm, but his fingers come away bloody.

"Fuck," he mutters, pushing his chair back from the desk. "I'll be right back."

The look on Jihoo's face as Yoongi bolts from the studio is the tiniest bit judgmental.

Slipping into a bathroom just down the hall, Yoongi yanks a handful of paper towels from the dispenser. He understands why Jihoo had reacted with such shock when he catches sight of himself in the mirror. He looks like a mess. He'd been so focused on working that he hadn't even noticed. He wets the paper towels and wipes away the blood, tearing off a few pieces to roll and push inside his nostrils. The bathroom door swings open as he’s cleaning his hands.

"How much cocaine have you been snorting?" Jimin stands just inside the doorway, arms crossed tight over his chest. He sounds accusatory.

"Not so loud," Yoongi mutters, scrubbing the last of the blood from his fingers. He dries himself off, angling away from Jimin to hide the way his face has grown hot with embarrassment. Nosebleeds at work have happened before, and they always make him feel like shit. Jihoo's stare will be burned on the backs of his eyelids for a while now.

"Hyung," Jimin starts, frustrated, but Yoongi cuts him off.

"Oh, so I'm 'hyung' again?"

"Stop." Jimin's arms uncross, falling to his sides. "Stop it. I'm worried."

Yoongi sighs. He tosses the bundle of used paper towels into the trash bin with a flick of his wrist. "Thanks for the concern, but I'm fine."

"You're obviously not fine." Jimin stops him from leaving with a hand to his chest. "Have you gotten your head out of your ass yet?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Do you still think I'm going around bragging about fucking you?"

"I don't know what to think." He's pissed again, but not enough to ignore the way they’re close enough that he'd only have to lean in to press their mouths together. He can't stop looking at Jimin's lips, pursed tight in anger.

"I told you what to think. I told you you were wrong."

"How'd that kid find out about us then?"

"I don't know." Jimin runs an irritated hand through his hair. "Maybe he overheard, I don't know. He's a fucking ass, okay, none of us even like him - I only told one person, and that's because she's my best friend. If you're gonna be mad at me for that then fuck you."

He's not pissed anymore. Maybe he is. He doesn't care. He surges forward, fisting a hand in Jimin's shirt, and kisses him. Jimin kisses back with equal desperation. Their mutual irritation pours into the kiss, lips bruising, teeth nibbling hard. They're panting when they break apart.

"You're a piece of shit," Jimin says breathlessly.

Yoongi kisses him again. He drags his mouth along his jaw, threads his fingers through his hair tighter than necessary. "Come home with me after."

"I'm not done until midnight. Pick me up."

He drops one last kiss behind Jimin's ear and pulls away, heading for the door. "Fix your hair," he calls over his shoulder. "You look like a mess."

Yoongi wonders if he'll grow accustomed to Jimin's beauty. Secretly, he knows he never will. He's the prettiest after sex, sweaty and glowing and marked red. He hadn't let Yoongi mark him anywhere obvious; he'd gotten in trouble at the company for having hickeys down his neck from last time. Instead, Yoongi has left marks all along his spine, where no one needs to see it but himself.

He's looking at them now. Jimin lies face down in Yoongi's bed, sheets tossed carelessly over his hips, arms pillowed under his head. He's not asleep, though the steady rise and fall of his breath is slow enough that in another moment, he might be. Yoongi sits next to him, sheets pulled up to his waist, and smokes a cigarette. He's not sure if he missed Jimin because he's Jimin, or simply because he missed not being alone.

"Stop staring," Jimin mumbles into the pillow, even though his eyes are closed and he couldn't have known.

Yoongi laughs quietly. "Don't tell me what to do."

He brushes a hand down Jimin's back, reveling in the softness of his skin. Jimin shifts onto his back so he's looking at him, catching his hand in his. He gestures to Yoongi's cigarette, and Yoongi dutifully pulls it from his mouth. Jimin takes a few puffs before handing it back.

"So you were a big bad drug dealer, huh?"

Jimin snorts. "You’re still trying to wrap your head around it?"

"You still have connections? Get me a discount, I’m burning all my money like this."

“You’re gonna keep me around just to mooch off me." Jimin flops around, swatting Yoongi's hand away, and Yoongi finds himself laughing.

"I’m just joking, baby." He's quiet for a moment before he says, "Why'd your parents kick you out?"

"Why are you asking so many questions today?"

"Revenge for all the questions you always ask."

"I don't ask nearly as many as you do."

"That's not true, and you know it."

"Fine. But I want a cigarette, then."

"I would have given you one, anyway." Yoongi stubs his own out before lighting one for Jimin and another for himself.

Jimin takes a long drag. "A teacher at school caught a guy giving me head behind the bleachers. My parents weren't very happy when she told them."

"They really kicked a 14-year-old out like that?"

Jimin's eyes drift shut. "Guess they didn't care much about me, after all."

"Something like that could come out when you become an idol.”

"It won't. She never told anyone but my parents. She didn't even report it to the principal. We were both in her homeroom, so I think she thought it'd make her look bad. And my parents, they'd never tell. Too shameful."

"Where’d you go when they kicked you out?"

"I went to my friend's house. I grew up with him, so his parents knew me. They let me stay for a few months before my parents got to theirs and they told me I had to leave. But they were good enough to at least give me a bit of pocket money before turning me out."

Yoongi scoffs, bitter on Jimin's behalf.

"I used the money for a bus to Seoul and tried to look for work. There was this little restaurant I found in the middle of the city, and the old man who ran it took me on to help him out. He let me sleep in the kitchen in exchange for my work."

"That's lucky," Yoongi notes, remembering how he'd slept on the streets for a year before he saved enough money to find a place to live.

"I was. But he was getting old, so he sold the restaurant a few years later. That was around the time I made it through the audition for this shitty, no-name company with five other trainees."

"They give you a place to live?"

"They let us sleep in the practice room." Jimin shakes his head, a bitter smile on his face as he recalls it. "I didn't mind that, but the CEO was shit. A total creep toward the girls. That's where I met my best friend - she was a trainee there, too."

A sense of foreboding stirs in Yoongi's stomach. He's heard things about the industry that he'll never forget. "How long did you stay there?"

"Less than a year. He started pawning us off to rich people in the industry for sponsorship. Convinced us the only way we'd make it as idols is if we had someone to back us, fed that to us until all of us ended up agreeing."

"You had a sponsor?" Unconsciously, Yoongi's hand finds Jimin's hair, stroking it away from his forehead. Jimin glances up at him, smiling like he's trying to comfort Yoongi.

"He was a drama producer. You'd probably know him if I told you his name. I saw him twice a month for six months."

"Oh, Jimin."

"We really thought it was the only way.” His tone is defensive, like he’s afraid Yoongi will judge him. Maybe if Yoongi were a different man, he would. But he’s done a lot in exchange for drugs. “Then my friend and I started looking around for other options. Turned out our CEO had just been lying to us, and that other companies were way better off. So most of us left."

"Where did you go?"

"We both got lucky, me and Chungha. We auditioned and made it into different companies. The one I ended up in was so much better, you know, it was like they really cared about helping us achieve our dreams. But they went bankrupt a year later, when I was 18. That's when I started dealing. I made enough to live in a place with some other people, and I kept auditioning."

"Then you made it into XO."

"Been there ever since. Chungha’s there now, too. XO's a good place. Not as good as my second company, but at least XO has money, enough to even house us." Jimin sighs, leaning across Yoongi to stub his cigarette out in the ashtray sitting on his side table. "Since we're playing the question game, I also have a little brother who goes to Yonsei."

Yoongi's eyebrows shoot into his hairline. "Yonsei? That's impressive."

Jimin smiles, and Yoongi can see the pride bleeding into every curve of his face. "He's really smart. He's gonna be a lawyer."

"You talk to him?"

"We have lunch every weekend. I'm not sure if my parents know. I guess it doesn't matter." Jimin sits up and slings a leg around Yoongi's waist, straddling him to sit on his thighs. "Your turn," he murmurs, leaning in to kiss just under Yoongi's jaw, a spot he's discovered is rather sensitive.

Yoongi plays at ignorance. "My turn for what?"

"To tell me about yourself."

"I've got nothing to tell."

"Liar." Jimin sighs into his neck, pulling back to look at him. "Tell me about your family."

Yoongi shrugs, leaning back against the headboard. "Dad left before I was born. It was just me and my mom. She died about five years ago."

"Were you close to her?"

"It's...complicated."

"Tell me."

Yoongi doesn't want to. He doesn't really tell anyone. But a part of him feels guilty that Jimin's bared himself only for Yoongi to go on hiding. "She was - she sacrificed her whole life for me, you know? Worked three jobs so I could go to school and do everything the other kids did. She worked herself sick so I could do well."

Jimin's smile is soft. He brushes a lock of hair from Yoongi's eyes. "Sounds like a lot of pressure."

"It was never really about me, though. That's the thing. She didn't care about what made me happy, only what she thought would. She never - I don't think she ever listened to me once in her life."

"She didn't want you to do music?"

"It's funny. She's the one who bought me my first piano. I hated piano lessons so much I used to cry every time I had to go, but she'd make me go anyway because she didn't care what I wanted. And then once I started liking it, she decided it'd be better if I switched into basketball because I needed to be active." Yoongi shakes his head. It's hard to remember. "Then two years after that, it was suddenly a hagwon because she wanted me to get a scholarship and go to university."

"How'd you end up here?"

"I ran away when I was 16. There's - there's more to it. More to her." He looks away from Jimin, fixed on the bit of night sky visible through his bedroom window. He wonders if his mother's ghost is here listening. "I thought I was gonna die if I stayed there. So I left."

"Did you ever go back?" The quiet way Jimin asks tells Yoongi he's already guessed the answer.

"For her funeral." He squeezes his eyes shut briefly. His temple's starting to throb. "She'd quit her job in the end, apparently. She didn't leave the house for weeks. They only found her because her landlady went to collect rent after it was overdue and noticed the smell. She called the cops, they went inside, and my mother was dead in her bed."

“Oh, Yoongi." Jimin's hand ghosts down his face, cupping his cheek, but Yoongi shrugs it off.

"She made me miserable, but I did that to her."

"No, you didn't. It's not that simple."

"It's okay, Jimin. I know what I did."

"Hyung - "

He shakes his head. "It's okay, yeah?"

"Okay," Jimin finally mumbles, but there's a tense crease between his brows. Yoongi smooths it out with his thumb. The way Jimin seems to care fills him with a strange sort of warmth.

"I came here, worked for a while, found a crew to make music with. Played some underground shows no one came to. Then someone approached me to make a song for a new girl group. They didn't offer me much money, but I didn't have any food, so I accepted. The song ended up being a hit. I'm still making decent royalties off it."

"So you kept producing for idols after that."

"People in the industry kept coming to me after they saw how the first song blew up. My crew, they didn't like that. Said I was 'compromising my individuality.' Called me a sellout, told me I cared about money and not the vision. But by then my mom was dead and the vision felt impossible." Yoongi laughs bitterly. "I just wanted to eat."

"It doesn't matter," Jimin says firmly. "You're making music that you want to now, right? And anyway, that's arrogant, acting like working for idols is somehow lesser."

Yoongi smiles and runs his thumb along Jimin's cheek. "Of course you'd say that, little idol."

"It's true," he insists. "I hate that attitude. People have no idea how hard we work for our dreams. They have no idea how much we love music, too."

"You're right," Yoongi acknowledges. "I've always been an ass about that, too, but after I started working with idols, I loosened up a bit. The industry's still shit, though."

"Yeah. I know that firsthand."

"I'm sorry," Yoongi says, "that you had to go through so much shit. It must have been awful."

"I just wanna debut." His hand comes to rest over Yoongi's on his cheek, and he sighs. "I just wish they'd stop putting it off. I'm so close, you know?"

"You'll make it." Yoongi's pessimistic, he always has been, but he wants it. He wants to see Jimin make it.

"Thanks, hyung. I hope so."

"So are you going to sleep or not?" Yoongi says with a hint of amusement. "Don't you have to be at the company in the morning?"

"I dunno, I was kind of ready for round two." He rolls his hips down teasingly.

"You're insatiable," Yoongi complains. "I'll suck you off, if you want."

"I want it!" he exclaims, flopping off of Yoongi onto his back.

The laughter that bubbles up Yoongi's throat is almost helpless.

Two days later, Yoongi finds himself at the shoe store in the strip mall near XO Entertainment. He walks in and asks for the black pair in the display.

"With a gift receipt," he asks, just in case.

Chapter Text

"Just post it, you fucking drama queen."

Yoongi's finger hovers over the mouse, just waiting to begin uploading his mixtape to Soundcloud. It's sat completely ready for three weeks now, and he's already endured the two-day music video shoot for the title. The video will go up as soon as he opens YouTube, but he hasn’t done that yet, either. "Sometimes I wonder if you think I'm paying you to be annoying."

"You're paying me to kick your ass into shape, actually, so that's what I'm doing." Kihyun hovers over his shoulder, his face irritatingly close. "Now post the damn thing."

Yoongi squints at his computer screen long enough that Kihyun groans and falls into a nearby chair.

"You need me to call Jimin and have him encourage you or some shit?"

Kihyun has served as the permanent go-through between him and Jimin. Kihyun calls his friend Bora at XO, Bora XO lets Jimin know that Yoongi's waiting for a call, and Jimin finds his way to a payphone whenever he can. Yoongi acknowledges that he probably bothers Kihyun a little too much, but Kihyun complains enough to give Yoongi a migraine every time he asks.

"He's avoiding me." Yoongi leans back, removing his hand from the mouse. He doesn't miss Kihyun's pained inhale at the decisive movement.

"What'd you do to him?"

Yoongi wants to bite back an irritated why do you think I did something , but he's too distracted. "I bought him a pair of shoes."

Kihyun's silent. When he realizes Yoongi isn't going to offer anymore on his own, he presses, "Explain."

"He wanted this fancy pair of dance shoes, so I bought it for him. Now he won't talk to me."

"Why?" Kihyun sounds as thoroughly confused as Yoongi feels.

"The fuck do I know?"

"How'd he react when you gave him the shoes?"

"He was really fucking happy. Looked like he was about to cry. I dunno."

"That's weird."

"You're telling me."

"Maybe he thinks you were trying to sneakily proposition to be his sugar daddy or something."

Yoongi snorts, swiveling around in his chair to look at Kihyun. "I know I've got money, but not that much money."

"You don't have to be loaded to be a sugar daddy." He blows a bubble with his gum and flinches when it pops in his face.

"You're speaking from personal experience?"

"Didn't you know? I've got like ten."

"And what percentage of them are made up?"

Kihyun's expression melts into one of disgusted annoyance. He yanks a pillow off the couch and lobs it toward Yoongi, who swats it away. It rolls onto the floor a few feet away. "Post your fucking mixtape so I can go home."

"No one's asking you to stay."

"Oh, so that's what I get for my years of hard work - "

"And you're calling me the drama queen?"

Kihyun's right, though. He's been instrumental to Yoongi's functionality for the past few years. They'd met back when Kihyun was a freshly debuted idol whose company hired Yoongi to write their first comeback single. Yoongi hadn't paid much attention to him then, but when the group disbanded after only a few comebacks, he'd gotten a phone call. Kihyun was looking for a job in the industry and wanted to know if anyone needed an assistant.

Yoongi used to be good at organization; he used to have a good memory, too. But the drugs make it hard to focus, and he's shit at keeping his own schedules. Kihyun's the one who carefully plans his daily agenda, keeps track of meetings and deadlines and the names of company goons who Yoongi never remembers. He hides his drugs when he asks him to and occasionally buys him groceries and calls him to wake him up in the mornings.

Over the years, he's become Yoongi's closest friend.

"What makes him different?" Kihyun asks suddenly. He doesn't sound as abrasive as he usually does.

"What do you mean?" Yoongi says carefully. Kihyun has a curious glint in his eyes.

"Jimin. He's clearly not just a lay to you. But no one's ever been more than a lay."

That's not entirely true. No one's been more than that since the first time, that's all. Yoongi's learned from his mistakes. "I dunno," he answers truthfully. "He's just - I dunno."

"Do you love him?" Kihyun asks the question with a touch of incredulity, like he can't even believe he's asking at all.

Yoongi scoffs. "Of course not."

"Do you wanna date him or something?"

"We're just fucking."

"But you bought him shoes. And you went on a coffee date. And you take him out to lunch sometimes."

"Well, when you say it like that."

"Come on, Yoongi, I'm being serious.”

It’s not like Yoongi and Jimin have been meeting every day; neither of them have time for that. But they meet often enough for Yoongi to know Jimin’s favorite foods and the way his voice sounds when he’s sick or tired or elated. They meet often enough that the sudden absence of Jimin in his life feels like he’s missing a limb.

"It's not - it's not that I'm in love or I want to date him or anything like that. He just makes me feel, you know?" He shrugs a shoulder. He's been mulling over it for a while now, but he still doesn't understand. "When I'm with him, I remember how to feel."

He’s grown so accustomed to the numbness that comes with being sober that he doesn’t really know how to feel anymore.

"Yoongi," Kihyun says, and he sounds gentle. He taps Yoongi's leg with the toe of his sneakers. "Just do it."

Yoongi exhales harshly and puts his hand back on the mouse. "Fine. Fine, say a prayer for me or something. Are you even religious?"

"You're saying that like you are."

The more he stalls, the harder it'll be. He's been stalling for weeks already. So he takes a deep breath and begins to upload his mixtape.

"I thought you said we wouldn't have to work together," is the first thing Minwoo says when he walks into Donghyuk's studio and finds Yoongi sitting at the soundboard.

Yoongi's mood instantly sours.

"It was getting impractical." Donghyuk sighs in preparation of the upcoming storm.

"Just put up with me for a fucking day," Yoongi mutters.

Minwoo looks like he wants to respond in kind, but he sits heavily on the couch instead. "You already set up, or?"

"We're good to go. You can get in there."

Minwoo takes his sheet of lyrics into the sound booth and sets up at the microphone.

It doesn't take long for them to clash. Half an hour into recording, Yoongi has Minwoo repeat a line with a different inflection. It doesn't come out the way he wants it to, so he has him repeat it again and again until Minwoo's face starts to scrunch with irritation.

"Are you just trying to give me a hard time?" he finally snaps.

Yoongi isn't, even if a part of him does enjoy seeing Minwoo riled up. "I'm trying to record a good song, actually."

"It sounds fine the way I'm doing it."

"It'll sound better if you try harder."

"Hyung," Donghyuk warns, but Yoongi ignores him.

"Try harder?" Minwoo scoffs. "That's rich coming from you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Can you both shut the fuck up?" Donghyuk says. "We have a song to record, and I wanna have time to mess with the beat after."

Minwoo and Yoongi stare at each through the glass. Minwoo looks away first, clearing his throat and adjusting the microphone. "Again," Yoongi says, and Minwoo tries again.

Somewhere around the third verse, Yoongi realizes Minwoo has made some changes. He stops him, brow furrowed.

"Yunha noona said you decided not to switch to the new version of the verse."

"I changed my mind," Minwoo answers.

"I told her to tell you it would be a bad idea."

"I think it's better like this."

"The flow of the lyrics barely even matches the beat, MInwoo."

"That's the point," he defends. "It's supposed to sound jarring."

"Jarring? Are you trying to make everyone's fucking ears bleed?" It's probably not wise to antagonize Minwoo so soon, but Yoongi can feel himself growing hot with anger. Yunha had called him to talk about Minwoo's song a few days ago; she’d been hesitant about his proposed change and wanted advice. Yoongi had warned against it, and she'd received Minwoo’s agreement that he would stay with the old version.

Minwoo tugs his headphones off, the movement sharp with annoyance. He comes to stand in the doorway of the soundbooth. Donghyuk looks supremely uncomfortable. "Don't say that about my song."

"I'm a producer for a fucking reason. I know what's best."

"What the hell do you know?" Minwoo spits. "You've been working on idol music for years."

"That doesn't have shit to do with what I know. I've also put out two mixtapes, in case you forgot."

"Yeah, I heard your fucking mixtape. Clearly, you've forgotten how to rap."

The anger builds and explodes in the span of a breath.

Yoongi’s on his feet and moving for him, fisting a hand in Minwoo's collar to hold him still when he drives his knuckles into his jaw. The night after he posted his mixtape, he had to pop some pills to make it through the panic attack that hit him while he lay in bed unable to fall asleep.

Vaguely, he hears Donghyuk shouting, but he's too busy dodging the punch Minwoo tries to return. Yoongi shoves Minwoo into the soundbooth and punches him again, noting with satisfaction the way Minwoo's head slams against the wall behind him. Yoongi may be quick, but Minwoo's still bigger than him, and he maneuvers his way out of Yoongi's hold soon enough. Then he's the one throwing punches, catching Yoongi in the gut, in his mouth, in his chest.

Something about the pain feels almost relieving. Something about the helplessness, about the knowledge that until he can wriggle his way out of Minwoo’s hold he can’t do anything but take it, feels like deliverance.

Yoongi realizes abruptly that it’s because he deserves it.

"Get the fuck off," Donghyuk shouts.

They're on the floor now, and Yoongi feels like he's floating out of his body. He’s hovering by the ceiling, watching Minwoo cage him against the ground and throw punch after punch. He’s watching himself, too, catches the precise moment when the fight leaves his body. The strangest thing is that Minwoo looks like he wants to cry. Yoongi remembers once when they were teenagers and Minwoo had cried on his shoulder and said he wasn't sure if dreaming was ever worth it. That's the only time he ever saw Minwoo cry.

Then Donghyuk pulls Minwoo off of him, and he's jerked violently back into his body, lying boneless on the ground, winded and aching.

"What the fuck are you thinking!" Donghyuk shouts. He’s been shouting, Yoongi knows this, but now that he’s back in his body, he sounds a hundred times louder.

He sits up, wincing, and sees Minwoo staring at him with wide eyes, like he can't quite believe they took it that far. Yoongi can't quite believe it, either. His knuckles are split, and Minwoo's face is bruised, his lip bloody. Yoongi doesn't want to know what he looks like.

He pushes himself to his feet, grabs his keys from the table, and leaves.

They used to be close, him and Minwoo. The whole crew used to be close. He's the one who ruined that. He's the one who left.

The drive home passes in a blur. Somehow he stumbles into his apartment, ducking past the stares of the people in the lobby. He makes it to his bed and curls up small under the covers, tugging them tight around him like a shield. However much he tries to defend himself, he knows that they're right in the end. He sold out. He abandoned his dream because he wanted to make money, because he was too weak to go on struggling like the rest of them - like his crew, like Jimin and his best friend, like all the people he's worked with. He sold out because he gave up.

And even if he denies it, a part of him knows exactly why he wanted the money, too.

The sadness, the regret, that hangs over his head is suffocating. He can't breathe through it. He slips out of bed to dig through his closet for a bottle of oxycodone and pops enough to get him high. Then he pulls out his laptop and starts to work on music, because he gave up once, but he's not giving up now. He's going to make it to the top the way he wants to, and he'll do whatever it takes to get there.

He waits for the pills to kick in so he can feel happy again.

Another wave of nausea hits him and he bows over the toilet, coughing up the pitiful dregs of his stomach. He hasn't eaten enough for it to be anything more than burning acid and saliva. His body aches from the force of vomiting three times already.

"Yoongi." Kihyun's voice comes distantly from the phone dangling in Yoongi's hand.

He puts it back to his ear. "Please," he begs. "I wanna talk to him. Why won't he talk to me?"

He's coming down, and he's not happy anymore. He wants Jimin. Jimin makes him smile. It's dangerous, he knows that, the most dangerous thing to depend on one person for happiness. But Jimin makes him feel something other than the exhausting numbness that's become his default state, and he wants him.

"Why won't he talk to me?" Yoongi says, and it sounds desperate, pitiful. He doesn't do desperate, not like this. "I fucked up, I always fuck up."

"I don't think you fucked up this time," Kihyun murmurs. "I don't think you did anything wrong, Yoongi."

"Then why won't he talk to me?"

Kihyun sighs heavily. Yoongi regrets calling him. He's being annoying like always, bothering Kihyun because he has no one else to bother. "I'll try and get in touch with him, okay? I'll try my best."

"You're really all I've got, you know that?"

Rather than respond with his usual irritation, Kihyun's voice is surprisingly soft. "I know."

The nausea rolls through him, but there's nothing left to cough up. He rests his cheek on the cool porcelain toilet. It's soothing.

"Why'd you take so much?" Kihyun mutters. "You know you get shitty hangovers when you do."

"I wasn't thinking."

"Did something happen?"

"No."

"Liar," Kihyun says, but he doesn't push it. "Make sure you drink water after this, okay? Put some salt in it."

"I will."

"No, you fucking won't. I'll stop by in a few hours." He sighs again, and Yoongi feels an overwhelming sense of guilt. He's useless; more than that, he's a burden. "Hypebeast wrote an article about you."

He stirs, lifting his head from the toilet bowl. "What?"

"About your mixtape. I sent you the link."

"Hypebeast? Are you joking?"

"Haven't you been keeping up with the response? Yoongi, you're blowing up. Everyone's talking about you."

He's been too scared to look at anything. He hasn't even been checking the messages that have flooded in from acquaintances. For the past few days, he's pretended his mixtape doesn't even exist. "Hypebeast," he repeats in a state of awe.

"HipHopLE wants to do an interview. I talked to someone this morning."

He feels a little dizzy. "Oh."

"You're doing well, Yoongi," Kihyun tells him, the hint of an amazed laugh in his voice. "You should be proud of yourself."

Yoongi has a lot of pride; perhaps it’s simply not where it needs to be. "Thanks," he finally says. He hopes Kihyun understands that he means for everything.

"I'll let you know if I talk to Jimin, yeah? Now go drink some fucking water."

Chapter Text

Yoongi's hands tremble around the icy glass of coffee. He's early. He's not usually the type to be so early, but today he's early, and the pink-haired barista from before keeps shooting him sympathetic glances from the counter. The corner of the coffee shop he's chosen is fairly secluded but within direct sight of the door so that he can prepare himself for when Jimin enters.

Jimin arrives ten minutes late. By then, Yoongi's fingers have started to slip in the condensation around his Americano. The smile Jimin sends him across the shop is hesitant, and the one Yoongi responds with is, too. He looks tired; the bags under his eyes stand out, and he walks like he's exhausted. Knowing Jimin, he must have spent all night practicing. He does that a lot, Yoongi's come to learn; he practices until four in the morning then sets his alarm for five so he can wake up and practice again.

Yoongi has already bought him coffee, an iced Americano like his own, and he gestures to it so Jimin knows not to walk up to the counter first. Jimin comes slowly toward him instead, taking the high chair across from him. Yoongi doesn't miss the relieved glance the barista shoots them.

"Hey, hyung," Jimin says.

"Hey, Jimin." Suddenly he doesn't know what else to say. Jimin can tell; his smile turns a little more genuine, and he takes a sip of his coffee. "Um, you look tired."

"I got in trouble with the vocal teacher the other day." He shrugs like it doesn't matter, even though Yoongi can tell it does. "She said if I was practicing enough, I'd be doing better."

"But you practice all the time." He can't help the surge of irritation. He's seen it happen with the idols he's produced for before. They speak so casually of the unreal pressures they set on themselves to practice, then their managers berate them for not practicing enough when even the slightest of mistakes occurs during recording.

"I can always do more," Jimin says, and Yoongi's irritation grows. He does too much already. Before he can argue, Jimin continues, "I saw your music video, hyung. I'm sorry I didn't congratulate you."

Yoongi shrugs. Maybe he'd been a little disappointed not to hear from Jimin, but he'd also been too caught up in the act of posting to worry too much. "It's okay."

"It's not." Jimin shakes his head. "It was amazing, you know. Chungha told me all the other girls were talking about how hot you were."

Yoongi snorts. "Okay, sure."

"I'm serious," Jimin insists. "And the song - fuck, it was amazing. You were furious."

"Is that a compliment?"

"Absolutely. I, um, listened to the rest of the mixtape, too." He grows quiet and shifts his gaze to his fingers wrapped around the glass.

"What did you think?" Yoongi says, because suddenly he needs to know. Jimin's opinion feels more important than Hypebeast's.

"It made me cry." Jimin doesn't say anything else, but that's more than enough for Yoongi. He sits back in his chair, his heart fluttering with lightness.

"Did something happen?" Yoongi asks. "You're avoiding me."

"I'm sorry," Jimin blurts, like the apology has been sitting on the tip of his tongue for days and he's desperate to let it go. "I panicked."

"Panicked?"

"You - you bought me shoes." Jimin's cheeks turn the faintest shade of pink. "They were so expensive."

They weren't all that expensive, not for him. He hadn't even batted an eyelash buying them. But even if he had, he wouldn't have cared. "I wanted to do it. It doesn't matter."

"That's the thing." Jimin finally looks at him, chewing on his lip. "I don't - I'm not looking for commitment?"

Yoongi narrows his eyes. "Why does that sound like a question?"

"I just. Got scared."

"Jimin, does it look like I'm looking for commitment?"

"Um, no. Not really."

"I don't expect anything from you. It was just a pair of shoes."

"I know, I just got worried, I guess. I was wearing them at practice and someone said something and I just - I don't want you to expect anything.” The tension shows up in lines on his forehead, and Yoongi understands. Kihyun might have been a little bit right, after all. “I can't give you anything. I don't - I'm terrified of commitment."

It sounds like it's hard for him to admit it. Yoongi wouldn't have guessed it on his own, but now he can see that it makes sense. "I'm not all that into it, either." It's not commitment he's afraid of, but rather the thought of being in a relationship at all.

"Really?" Jimin looks relieved, but not relieved enough.

"We're just fucking," Yoongi presses. "That's it, yeah? There’s nothing else to it. No other meanings. But that doesn't mean we can't be friends."

"Right," Jimin murmurs. "Friends."

"Is that okay with you?"

"Yes. I like that."

Yoongi kicks him under the table. "So what the fuck were you avoiding me for, huh? If you'd just talked to me, we could have been over this days ago."

"Sorry. I'm sorry."

"You're an idiot." It doesn't sound as scathing as he wants it to. The truth is, Yoongi's relieved.

"Okay, don't get too full of yourself. You're not much either."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Bora noona said Kihyun hyung said you weren't doing so well. That you kept asking for me."

Yoongi coughs and takes a big sip of his drink to avoid answering. Jimin frowns. "He was exaggerating."

"Oh?"

"So that you'd meet me."

Jimin doesn't look like he believes him.

"So why are you afraid of commitment?"

"You're changing the subject."

"Yes."

Jimin laughs. "Asshole."

"You don't have to answer. I'm just wondering."

"I've told you everything else, so why not?" Jimin shrugs. "I dated this guy for two years, found out he cheated on me the whole time. I was really in love with him. It hurt."

"You're not over him yet."

"I don't know if I'll ever be." Jimin rests his chin in his hand. "You know, the worst part was that he convinced me he only cheated on me because I was a shitty boyfriend."

"You believed him?"

"He got to me. I know he's wrong now, but I still kind of believe him."

"Impossible. You'd probably be the best boyfriend."

"How do you know?" Jimin says amusedly.

"I can tell."

"Uh-huh." He stands up with his coffee in hand. For a brief, panicked moment, Yoongi thinks he's leaving. "Come on, let's go for a walk. The weather's nice."

The relief he feels embarrasses him. He doesn't want to dwell further on the irrationality of his response to the thought of Jimin leaving. Grabbing his coffee and phone, he follows Jimin out of the shop. The barista waves them out with a smile. They're practically friends now.

They walk through the busy city sidewalk, ducking around people in suits rushing back from their lunch breaks and high schoolers clearly skipping. Jimin was right; the weather's nice with a soft breeze and enough clouds over the sun to keep it from being hot.

"What about you?" Jimin asks. "Why are you afraid of commitment?"

"Same thing, really. Fell for this guy who turned out to be an asshole. Not really interested in going through that again."

"Was it the same guy you mentioned earlier? The one you had your first time with?"

Yoongi's surprised Jimin remembers. "Yeah."

"What happened?" Jimin sounds reluctant to ask, but Yoongi doesn't mind. After telling him everything else, he feels like he can tell him anything now.

"I was 15, I think? Still felt really shitty about my sexuality back then, knew my mom would kill me if I told her. Then I met this guy at an underground show. I was at the club alone and clearly underage, and he came and sat with me and made sure I didn't do anything stupid."

"How old was he?"

Jimin's already figured out the situation; he's clever enough to see through Yoongi's words. "Too old for me. Old enough to be in college. Twenty-one, twenty-two maybe. I dunno."

"Did you date him?"

"Not really. I didn't - I thought it'd be clingy if I asked to date him, so I just went along with whatever he wanted and thought it'd be okay. He used to talk to me about music. That's why I fell for him, I think, because he rapped and talked to me about music and told me it was okay to be gay."

"He was taking advantage of you."

"I guess, yeah. I let him fuck me because he kept asking, and I thought I'd look like a prude and he'd leave me if I didn't. But I hated it."

He'd felt dirty afterward. Dirty because he knew what his mother would say, dirty because the guy didn’t care about him anymore, dirty because his understanding of masculinity at the time told him he wasn't a man for letting a dick near his ass. He's grown up since then, but he can still remember the shame he'd felt with acute clarity.

Jimin rests a hand on his arm. He doesn't say anything, but he doesn't need to.

"Then I tried to call him the next day, but he wouldn't pick up. He got what he wanted, so I guess he didn't care about me anymore."

"That's fucked up. You know that, right? He's fucked up for doing that."

"Yeah. I know." They stop at a crosswalk and wait for the cars to slow down. "The guy you dated was fucked up for making you feel like it was your fault, you know that, right?"

"I know," Jimin echoes.

Yoongi laughs quietly and shakes his head. "I guess that's the thing. It doesn't really matter what we know."

"We can tell ourselves whatever we want, but it doesn't change how we feel," Jimin agrees.

"Excuse me."

The hesitant voice has them turning around to face a boy a little younger than both of them with round cheeks and big eyes.

"Um, are you Agust D by any chance?" He's looking at Yoongi like he's afraid of the answer.

Yoongi's heart lurches. He glances at Jimin. "Yeah. That's me."

The boy beams. "I saw your music video. It was amazing."

"Thank you." He wonders if he sounds as surprised as he feels. "I'm, uh, glad you liked it."

"Your mixtape was so inspiring. And I went back and listened to your first one, too, and it was just as good."

"Thank you," he says again, at a loss for words.

"Can I get a picture with you?" The boy flushes slightly. "My friends will be so jealous."

"Yeah." Yoongi looks at Jimin again, who has the biggest fucking smile on his face. "Yeah, sure."

Jimin steps away so the boy can snap a picture with Yoongi. Yoongi doesn't really know what to do, so he smiles a little awkwardly and hopes it doesn't turn out looking more like a grimace. The boy presses a peace sign to his cheek. When he's taken it, he shakes Yoongi's hand and bows.

"It was really nice meeting you," he says, then scurries off down the sidewalk with a few glances back.

As soon as he's gone, Jimin smacks Yoongi's shoulder hard enough that he stumbles a few steps. "Look at you!" he exclaims. "You're famous now, you asshole."

Yoongi laughs in disbelief. "He knew me."

"Yeah, he fucking knew you." Jimin hits him again. He's still grinning. "One day you won't even be able to walk in public without people surrounding you for autographs."

"I'm a rapper, Jimin, not an idol. That’s gonna be you."

Jimin just grins. "I'm proud of you."

"Yeah," Yoongi says. "Me too."

For the first time, he means it.

Given how strange Namjoon has been acting since he'd called him over, Yoongi should have seen this coming.

Still, when Namjoon pushes him into the studio only to find Minwoo sitting on the couch, their expressions of surprise mirror each other. Then Namjoon tells them to sort their shit out and slams the door shut behind him.

"Fuck you, Namjoon," Minwoo shouts, standing up like he's going to leave.

Yoongi wants to leave, too. But more than that, he wants to work on their fucking mixtape without a boatload of drama every time they meet. "Sit down."

"Don't tell me what to do."

Yoongi's jaw tightens. He breathes in through his nose and takes the chair at the soundboard, hoping the table between him and Minwoo will keep from lunging. "We should talk."

"I don't have anything to say to you."

"Oh, yeah? 'Cause last time it seemed like you had a lot of shit to say to me."

"Can't handle hearing the truth?"

"You're the one twisting it to suit yourself." Yoongi clutches the arms of his chair, fingers whitening with the force of his grip. "Trying to make it seem like I'm the one at fault."

"Because you are. You're just too much of an ass to accept that you're ever wrong."

"What the fuck did I do that was so wrong, huh? What the fuck are you punishing me for?"

"You left us. You abandoned your dream." Minwoo's gaze burns strong and hard into his own. There are bruises under his eyes, too, like he hasn't slept in days.

His words sting. Yoongi flinches. "If I abandoned my dream, I wouldn't be sitting here with you right now."

"You took the easy route."

"The easy route?" He scoffs. "You have no idea what I've been through, Minwoo."

"And you don't know what the rest of us have been through, either." The bitterness seeps into his voice like poison, and he finally breaks their eye contact.

"My mom was dead. I fucking left her for this shit city to struggle for five years with nothing to show for it, then she fucking died. I felt like I'd abandoned her for nothing." He runs a hand over his face. Minwoo doesn't deserve for him to open up, but Yoongi doesn't know what else to do anymore. "I gave up because she was dead and I was here for no reason and I wanted money to eat. And yeah, for drugs, too."

Minwoo's looking at him again, and the guarded expression melts the slightest bit.

"But I'm back, okay? I'm back and I'm trying to make up for it, and all the years I spent working on shit I hated, I did it with the hope that one day I'd manage to come back to what I really wanted." Yoongi sighs. "You can stop punishing me now. I don't understand why my choices piss you off this much."

"Because you left us." His voice softens into tiredness. "You left me."

A tense tremor runs through Yoongi; he wonders if he's been missing something all along.

"I looked up to you. You're the one who always told me to fight for what I wanted. You're the reason I kept going." He shakes his head. It's hard for him to admit it; Yoongi sees a tendon in his neck tighten as he swallows. "You were one of my best friends, and you up and left like we were nothing to you."

"You didn't want me anymore. None of you did."

"We were being stubborn, sure. We were unfair to call you a sellout just for making a few songs. But you didn't - you were our friend, you could have tried. We would have gotten over it eventually. But instead you just packed your shit and walked out and didn't look back for five fucking years."

Maybe he's right. Maybe Yoongi was hasty. He's regretted a lot due to decisions made in haste, he knows that. But he can't overlook how much it had hurt to have the only people in his life turn their backs on him without bothering to understand.

"I tried to call you once after all that, but you didn't even pick up your phone."

Yoongi remembers that. Remembers being sluggish on a sleepless night when Minwoo's number flashed across his phone, remembers the fury that had spread like fire through his veins. He hadn't wanted anything to do with any of them after they pushed him out.

In the end, perhaps Yoongi hadn't realized the extent to which they'd cared about him. He'd never understood how much he mattered to Minwoo. Most of the time, back then and even more so now, he would convince himself he didn't matter to anyone.

"I'm sorry." The words feel like coughing up blood. "For leaving you."

Minwoo looks surprised. His eyes widen, and his mouth shapes a word that doesn't come out.

"I was in a shitty state of mind. I didn't know what I was doing. Didn't understand the weight of it."

"We were shitty, too," Minwoo finally acknowledges. "I know we were."

He looks down at his hands, and Yoongi watches the way his black hair falls messily over his forehead when he does. Suddenly he looks younger and not quite so angry anymore. Yoongi understands. He'd been lashing out because he didn't know how to say he missed him. Didn't know how to express how Yoongi had hurt him.

"Your mixtape was good."

Yoongi snorts. "You trying to suck up to me now?"

"I mean it, asshole. Take the fucking compliment."

"Thanks," he says halfheartedly.

Minwoo slumps in the plush sofa as if the energy has drained right out of him. Yoongi feels similarly. "So."

"So we're good now? No more trying to piss me off?"

"Only if you quit being stubborn."

"I was born stubborn. That's not about to change."

Minwoo rolls his eyes, but it's more amused than irritated. "Yeah, yeah. Get Namjoon back in here so we can do some fucking work."

Yoongi stands, stopping by Minwoo on his way to the door. He holds his hand out. "Let's start again."

Minwoo stands to face him and claps their hands together. "Yeah. Let's start again."

Jimin rarely spends the night; he doesn't have the kind of time for that. He spends most nights practicing or unable to get away from the staff who keep the trainees in line. It works out because Yoongi spends most nights in the studio with a large dispenser of coffee by his side, so he doesn't have time to spend asleep by Jimin's side, either. But tonight's a lucky night.

It's nearly two in the morning, and neither of them are tired. Yoongi sprawls on his bed smoking a cigarette in a blissful post-sex haze, and Jimin sits cross-legged on the floor in front of a little prop-up mirror he'd brought with him. He’s wearing nothing but Yoongi's large sweatshirt. He'd brought a whole bag of shit just to stay one night, and now Yoongi watches him apply product after product onto his face.

"Do you do this shit every night?"

"Skincare is extremely important," Jimin answers, uncapping yet another bottle to rub more shit on his face.

"Yeah, I guess if you wanna be an idol."

"It's important for everyone." He turns a glare over his shoulder. "You should try it some time, your skin is dry as fuck."

"Thanks, Jimin-ah, that's kind of you."

"Seriously, when your skin feels fresh, you feel fresh."

"Nothing about me ever feels fresh. I don't think some lotion will help that."

"Maybe because you don't eat anything except takeout and you drink coffee like water but don't actually drink water. And you smoke like a pack a day."

"Do not."

"Take better care of yourself."

"Like you're one to talk. All you eat is baked chicken and salads. You sleep like an hour a night and practice so hard you can't walk."

"What's wrong with baked chicken and salads? It's healthy."

"Yeah, if you ate enough of it."

"This isn't supposed to be an argument about who takes worse care of themselves," Jimin mutters. "You wanna try a sheet mask with me?"

"No, thanks."

Jimin rolls his eyes. "You're an ass. Hey, don't look for a minute."

"Why not?"

"Can you just do something I ask you to for once?"

Yoongi grabs a pillow and shoves it over his face. "Fine."

He hears plastic crinkling and Jimin's muffled steps on the carpet. "Okay, look."

Yoongi removes the pillow to find Jimin leaning over him in a sheet mask that's supposed to look like a panda, only it looks ridiculous. Against himself, Yoongi finds laughter bubbling up his throat. As soon as he laughs, Jimin's pretty giggles join him.

"Isn't it cute?" Jimin says.

"You look terrifying."

Jimin smacks his arm. "I look cute."

"Uh-huh." Yoongi puts out his cigarette and curls his hands in the loose front of the sweatshirt, drawing Jimin in so he climbs onto the bed and curls against him. "I had an interview with HipHopLE last week."

Jimin pulls back to look at him. "HipHopLE? Really?"

"Yeah, they called me into the studio and everything. They're supposed to post it soon."

"How did it go?"

"Not bad. They asked good questions, but they were hard to answer."

"Your mixtape's doing really well. It's still on everyone's mouth."

Kihyun sends him updates almost every day. He's still afraid to know what people say, but yesterday he finally went through some of the mentions on his Twitter account and found them rather uplifting. "Some kid said he was thinking about dropping out of art school because it was getting too hard. But then he listened to the tape and got inspired, so he decided not to."

"That's amazing."

Yoongi isn't one to share much about himself, but he finds that he wants to share his success with Jimin more and more as the days pass. It helps that Jimin's reactions are always so positive, so genuine. "A lot of people want to know if I'm going to hold any shows."

"Are you?" Jimin sounds more excited than Yoongi feels.

"I guess, yeah. The songs me and the crew are working on - we're thinking about performing them, too, at an underground festival that's coming up. At least the cypher."

"You're going to make a music video for the cypher, right?"

"Right. We'll probably do that soon. If we drop that well before the tape, then people will start looking at us at least."

Jimin curves back into him, tossing an arm over his waist. He's warm and soft. "You're gonna get big, Yoongi hyung. Don't forget about me when you're rolling in fame."

Yoongi chuckles into Jimin's fluffy hair. "You're the one I'm worried about. As soon as you debut, you'll never look back."

"That's not true."

"You won't have time to breathe, let alone to remember your Yoongi hyung."

Jimin smacks his stomach. "Quit being dramatic."

Yoongi curls around Jimin, encasing him in his arms, the damp of his sheet mask soaking into his neck. "Don't forget about me."

"I won't if you won't."

They're only fucking, but the night seems awfully soft for two people who don't want anything other than sex. Yoongi wonders if they're making a mistake, if maybe they'd be better off not trying to be friends. But the thought of seeing Jimin any less than he already does makes his stomach hurt with longing already. He's starting to miss him when he's not around.

"I won't," he murmurs.

He means it, and that's dangerous.

Chapter Text

Yoongi is in a rare good mood when Kihyun calls him.

It’s the day after the festival. He hadn’t been on stage in a long time, long enough that he’d forgotten how the faces of the audience blurred together when the stage lights burned his eyes. He’d thrown up from nervousness on the day, then he’d gotten high right before their set. Jimin had called him from a payphone minutes ahead of the festival just to wish him luck.

It went beautifully.

He’d performed a song off his mixtape, the small stage looming too large for his solitary figure, prior to the cypher with the crew. The crowd had loved it; adrenaline rushing through his veins had made him deliciously lightheaded, and after a while he wasn’t even sure if the elation he felt was from the drugs or the high of performing. They’re supposed to film the music video for the cypher the following day, and after experiencing the audience’s reaction to the song, he’s actually looking forward to a video shoot for once.

So for a little while, Yoongi’s happy.

Then Kihyun calls.

"Hey, some friend of yours contacted me looking for your number."

Heedless of what that might mean, Yoongi hovers over a pot of fresh ramen on his kitchen counter. "A friend?"

"From Daegu."

Yoongi freezes. He doesn’t have friends from Daegu anymore.

"He was at the festival last night and tried to find you after you performed, but he couldn't. He's in the city for a while and wanted to get in touch."

"Did he leave a name?"

"Kim Hanjae."

The chopsticks slip from his fingers and clatter against the side of the pot. More than a decade has passed since he saw Hanjae, but even hearing his name has his fingers trembling. It's been too long to still be affected. "Did you - you didn't give him my number, right?"

"No, I was calling to ask if I should."

"Don't," he hisses. "Don't give him my number. Don't talk to him again, you hear me?"

"Uh, okay." Kihyun sounds confused.

Yoongi's hands are shaking too hard to hold the phone. He hangs up, tosses it on the counter, and tries to make the trembling stop by squeezing his fingers into fists so tight they ache. Hanjae was at his show. He saw him. Years later, he wants to talk to him again, as if he hadn't done enough already. He’d used him and abandoned him when he was at his most vulnerable, and now he wants to talk to him. Now he's at his show.

His right fists swallows his left, gripping tight, but the jitters don't cease. His heart races in his chest so quickly that it's painful, and his fingers tingle uncomfortably. All this time and Hanjae's found him again. All this time and he still isn't free. Every shallow breath he draws makes his chest ache. Hanjae could find his number from someone else, could find his house, could find him. Logically, he knows that he wouldn’t do that, knows there’s no way he cares enough to go to such lengths. But Yoongi isn’t in any state to think logically.

He thinks he might be crying, but he's not sure. He's too dizzy to stay upright, so he sinks to the floor and curls into a tight ball. I'm gonna take care of you, he'd always say. Then he fucked him and left, and now Yoongi's too afraid to fuck anyone if he isn't high out of his mind first. Come on, he'd say, it'll be fun. Don't you wanna try? In the days leading up to the one where he said yes, Yoongi had lain awake every night wondering. He'd wanted it. Convinced himself he wanted it.

Yoongi had loved him, and Hanjae had left him.

He doesn't know how long he lies there desperately fighting for breath. It feels like forever. When his heart finally begins to slow and his breath comes easier, he pushes himself up from the ground with shaking hands and stumbles to his room. Fishing in his drawer for the recently replenished stock of benzos, he pops enough to knock him out for a long time. Then he curls up in bed and thinks about Hanjae until sleep takes him.

Yoongi drifts uneasily into consciousness, head heavy and mouth filled with a sour taste. His limbs feel like lead. Wiggling his toes, he gradually regains control of his body and rolls over onto his side. His thick curtains are drawn, so he can't tell if it's night or day.

Something clatters from the direction of the kitchen.

His heartbeat picks up immediately. Hands fisting into his sheets, he sits up carefully, eyes wide with terror. He grabs the curtain rod that's always by his bed and inches toward his bedroom door. As soon as he steps into the doorway, he finds the source of the noise.

It's Jimin.

The terror is replaced instantly by an almost embarrassing flood of relief. A lump rises in his throat, and tears prick the corners of his eyes. He wouldn't have wanted anyone else. He watches him bustle around the kitchen for a moment, heating something up on the stove and fiddling with the espresso machine. He's dressed like he just got out of practice: black sweatpants and a sweatshirt, a snapback pushing his hair back from his forehead. He looks tired; Yoongi can tell even from across the living room.

"Jimin-ah," he finally says. He flinches at the rough sound of his voice.

Jimin glances up quickly. He takes one look at Yoongi's face and beelines toward him, pulling him into his arms. "Hyung."

Yoongi melts into him. He's warm and solid and real; he's there for him, there holding him, and Yoongi fights the tears back. He buries his face in Jimin's neck and breathes in the familiar scent.

Jimin doesn't say anything at first. He strokes Yoongi's hair and holds him tight for so long Yoongi's limbs relax, until finally he pulls away. "Come eat."

He threads his fingers through Yoongi's and leads him across the living room. "I'm not hungry."

"Don't care." Jimin tugs a stool out at the counter and pushes him onto it. "Chungha made you dakjuk."

He blinks, still slow to comprehend. "Me?"

"I was with her when Bora noona came with Kihyun's call. Her mom always makes the best dakjuk for when she's sick, so she called her for the recipe and whipped it up before I came." Jimin ladles a bowlful from the pot on the stove and places it in front of Yoongi.

"That's..." He doesn't have the words to express what it is. He doesn't even know her, but she made him dakjuk with such care, as if he were her friend. He’s not used to the feeling of being cared for, but it fills him now with an almost suffocating warmth. "That's really nice of her."

"But water first." Jimin retrieves a clear tumbler from the fridge with cucumbers and lemons floating in it. "Drink this."

Yoongi gestures to the shot glass of espresso sitting under the machine. “That’s not for me?”

“Nice try,” Jimin says wryly, “but that’s for me. Now drink.”

Yoongi does as he's told. It's refreshing on his dry mouth. "Why did Kihyun call you?"

"Yoongi," Jimin murmurs. "Do you know what day it is?"

Foreboding settles in the pit of his stomach. "What day is it?"

"It's Monday. You were supposed to film the music video today."

His heart skips a beat. Running a hand through his tangled hair, he realizes he's broken out into a cold sweat. He'd slept for twenty-four hours. "Fuck," he says. "Oh, fuck."

"It's okay," Jimin says immediately. "It's fine, don't worry. Hyung handled it. He told everyone you had an emergency, and they filmed everyone else's parts. They'll reschedule yours and edit you in. It's gonna be fine."

He relaxes, but the frown doesn't leave his face. "I really fucked up."

"Hyung was really worried. You weren't answering your calls, didn't show up to the shoot. He stopped by here and saw you passed out with the pills on your bed. Then he called me and asked if I could check on you."

"Why? He was already here."

Jimin shrugs. "I think he thought you'd rather see me when you woke up."

Kihyun had known exactly what he needed - exactly who he needed. He starts on the dakjuk and is surprised at how good it is, or rather as good as something bland like dakjuk can be.

"He said that the last time he talked to you, it was to tell you about an old friend."

"Don't." Yoongi says hoarsely. "Don't say his name."

The way Jimin looks at him is soft. It hurts. "Is it the same guy you told me about?"

"Fucking stupid, isn't it? It's been ten years, more than ten, and I'm still fucking - " His hand trembles around his spoon, and he lets it clatter against the bowl, curling his fingers into his palms.

"It's not stupid."

"I should be over it by now. Should have been over it fucking years ago."

"It's not stupid," Jimin insists. He reaches across the table to place the spoon back in Yoongi's hand, staring him down until he takes another bite. "You must have really loved him. He fucked up your first time, your first time being in love - all of it. That's no small thing."

He did love him. That was the problem; he'd loved him too much, loved him to the point of obsession. He'd used Hanjae to take the place of the father who'd left him and the mother who abused him and all the people he'd met in his life who never cared about him quite as much as he cared about them. Hanjae was the first time, and perhaps the last time, that he ever thought someone really loved him back.

"Eat," Jimin says, and Yoongi does.

Later, when Jimin's clearing everything away - wrapping up the leftovers to place in his fridge, washing his bowl and filling the tumbler with more cold water - Yoongi realizes that he feels better. Much better than he could have imagined feeling after all that, but he feels better, and he's very much conscious of the fact that it's probably because of Jimin. Jimin and his soft, calming presence, his usual prickliness replaced with tender care just for Yoongi.

He'd be an idiot to deny that there's something more between him and Jimin than just sex. Jimin makes him happy. Just being with him makes him happy.

"Jiminie."

Jimin glances back from where he’s downing his shot of espresso. "Yeah?"

"Thank you."

He must recognize the seriousness of Yoongi's tone because he swallows the last drops, puts the cup down, and comes to him. "You're welcome." He stops in front of Yoongi's knees, letting him pull him into an embrace with Yoongi nuzzling into his neck. Jimin strokes his hair and kisses the top of his head. "You want me to draw up a bath for you?"

"Are you trying to tell me something?" Yoongi teases, kissing the hollow at the base of Jimin's throat.

"Yeah, you fucking stink."

"That cucumber-whatever water was good. Refreshing and shit."

Jimin snorts. "You know, if you drank more water and took your vitamins and actually ate healthy food afterward, your comedowns wouldn't be half as bad as they are."

"I'm not coming down right now."

"I know. I'm just saying."

"Thanks, Dr. Park."

"You're so stubborn. Have you ever listened to anyone in your life?"

Yoongi laughs into his neck. Usually he hates it when people tease him, argue with him, but right now he wants to rile Jimin up even more. He likes the way Jimin argues back. Likes the way he insists on being right. If he thinks about it long enough, he likes everything about Jimin.

"Quit laughing, I'm being serious."

"Will you stay with me tonight?"

Jimin's hands still in his hair. Yoongi pulls back to look at him and realizes he looks nervous. He wonders if he's crossed a line. Wonders if it was too obvious that the question had nothing to do with sex.

"I dunno," Jimin says.

Yoongi isn't prepared for the way his heart sinks in disappointment. He shrugs as if he's brushing it off, as if it doesn't matter. "Just wondering."

Jimin's brows knit together. He looks like he feels bad, like he's upset, and right when he opens his mouth to speak, the doorbell rings.

They glance at each other, both with equal expressions of confusion. Yoongi pulls away from Jimin and heads to the intercom set up by the door, where a screen shows him who's waiting. It's Minwoo. He has a bucket hat pulled low over his face, but Yoongi recognizes his gait. In one of his hands, he holds a six-pack of beer.

Yoongi opens the door with the confusion not entirely wiped from his face. "Hey."

Minwoo looks just as awkward as Yoongi feels. He clears his throat and rubs his nose. "Hey."

They stare at each other for a minute. Then Yoongi steps aside abruptly and gestures vaguely to the inside of his apartment. Minwoo glances at him, glances inside, then hesitantly steps in.

"Heard you were sick. You missed the shoot and stuff. So I brought some beer."

Yoongi almost wants to laugh. Bringing beer for a sick person is a trademark Minwoo act; he hasn’t changed much at all. "Thanks."

Yoongi shuts the door behind him and shuffles toward the kitchen, hands in his pockets, without waiting to see if Minwoo will follow. He does after kicking off his shoes. Jimin's standing by the counter, waiting curiously. As soon as he sets his eyes on Minwoo, they widen a fraction.

"Jimin?" says Minwoo.

Yoongi turns to him with a start. His eyes are wide, too, raking Jimin from head-to-toe in an amazed onceover. "You know him?"

Minwoo barely spares him a glance. "Yeah, I - it's been a while."

Jimin hasn't spoken yet. Yoongi looks to him, and he starts as if realizing he should say something. "Hyung," he finally says.

"He's your dealer?" Minwoo asks Yoongi.

He understands. Minwoo and Jimin know each other from Jimin's selling days. As soon as he understands, he's concerned; Jimin had assured him no one would recognize him if he became an idol, but he's already proven himself wrong.

Before Yoongi can answer, Jimin does. "I don't sell anymore."

"Where are you at now?" Minwoo asks curiously. He steps closer to place the pack of beer on the counter, and Yoongi doesn't miss the way Jimin's discomfort seems to grow with the proximity.

"I'm a trainee."

"Oh, yeah? That's what you always wanted, wasn't it?"

They must have known each other well. Yoongi nears, too, returning to his seat at the island.

"Yeah," Jimin says. "What about you?"

"Still rapping."

"He's part of my crew," Yoongi offers.

Jimin's mouth shapes a silent oh . "He's the Minwoo you mentioned."

Minwoo snorts. "He's said only bad things, I'm sure."

Jimin starts like he's going to deny it, but then he falters. "Well."

"Asshole," Minwoo says easily, but it's not harsh.

It makes Yoongi grin back at him and say, "You deserved it."

They're still grinning at each other across the counter when Jimin begins packing up his things, subtly and quickly. "I've gotta get back to the company," he says once they turn their attention back to him. "It was good seeing you again, Minwoo hyung."

"You, too, Jiminie."

It's only because Yoongi's paying such close attention that he notices how Jimin's gaze flickers to Minwoo and away at the familiar nickname.

"Yoongi hyung, eat the rest of the dakjuk, okay? It's in the pot in your fridge."

"Tell Chungha thank you."

"I will."

Slinging his messenger bag across his torso, Jimin heads for the door to pull on his shoes with a final wave. They're silent until the front door clicks shut, then Minwoo breaks a can of beer free from the others and slides it toward Yoongi.

"How do you know each other?" Minwoo asks. He tilts his head curiously, the bucket hat still flopping ridiculously over his eyes. Yoongi catches himself thinking that it's kind of endearing.

Popping the tab, he takes a swig before answering. "I'm working with one of his sunbaes. He wanted to learn some shit, so we started talking."

He shrugs, but there's something about the way Minwoo looks at him that makes Yoongi wonder if he suspects something. Still, he reaches for a can for himself without questioning it. "So what the hell happened to you, anyway?"

"I, uh, passed out in the studio. Someone took me to the hospital."

Minwoo's clearly waiting for an explanation. He gulps his beer to buy himself another few seconds of thought.

"It was just exhaustion. Haven't really been sleeping much with all the work I've been doing."

"You never sleep," Minwoo says wryly.

"Yeah, well. Guess it was bound to catch up eventually. How'd the shoot go?"

"Pretty fucking well. I think the video's gonna turn out great."

"If people watch it."

"They will. If anything, they'll watch it for you. You're blowing up, you know that?" A few weeks ago, Minwoo would have sounded bitter saying it. There's still a hint of that bitterness underlying his words, but only a hint. Mostly, he sounds excited.

"So I've heard."

It still feels unreal. Impossible, like it'll be snatched from his fingertips in a moment. Like if he closes his eyes for too long, he'll wake up and realize the world had never intended on letting him have what he wanted after all.

"Namjoon wanted you to meet him at Dahye noona's studio when you started feeling better. He wanted to go over some shit about one of his tracks."

Work, work. Always work. "I'll give him a call. Hey, hang on a sec."

He retreats to his room briefly and emerges with a bottle of pills. Even though Jimin had assured him everything would be fine, leftover anxiety from missing the video shoot lingers in his veins. Then there's the leftover anxiety from Hanjae, the painful jolt in his chest every time his mind wanders over to the memory of Kihyun's phone call. If he has to go meet Namjoon and Dahye tonight, which he should, he'll have to talk.

Sometimes, talking feels like one of the hardest things in the world.

Minwoo eyes the bottle with a raised eyebrow.

"I'd offer you some," Yoongi says, "but I'm not that generous."

Minwoo snorts. "I didn't expect you to. What is it, oxy?"

"Hydro."

"Are you trying to nod off for the rest of the day or what?"

"Hydro doesn't put me to sleep." Yoongi retrieves a plastic baggie from one of his cabinets and drops the hydrocodone pills inside, then places it on the counter and starts to crush them with a pestle.

"Lucky. Makes me pass the fuck out. Oxy gets me way more productive, plus you don't have to do all this shit." He gestures vaguely to the pestle and the bowl of hot water Yoongi fills from the tap.

"The high's way better on hydro. And I don't technically have to do this." Cold water extraction takes up enough time and effort that Yoongi rarely wants to endure it, but despite his general carelessness toward his health, he at least cares enough for this.

"If you want to destroy your liver, you don't."

"Did you come here to criticize my drug choices, Minwoo?"

Minwoo grins. "It's my job to piss you off, isn't it?"

"Asshole."

They're silent as Yoongi continues the process. When he's dissolved the pills and set the water aside to cool, he returns to his beer and his seat.

"You still as bad as you used to be?" Minwoo asks.

"What are you referring to?" Yoongi says dryly.

"You know what I'm referring to."

He does; he's being contrary. He shrugs a shoulder. "I'm not worse."

"I would have thought with all the money on hand, with all the choices you've got, you'd be much worse."

"Maybe. But it's not like I do this shit to have fun." Maybe if he did, he'd be worse. If he used the drugs to fuck all day and night, to feel euphoric every minute of every day - he gets like that sometimes, sure, but usually it’s different.

"Then why do you do it?" Minwoo finally tugs his bucket hat off. His dark hair's plastered to his scalp; he runs a hand through it, ruffling it until it sits messily atop his head.

"Gotta make it to the top somehow."

"Staying fucked up's going to get you there?"

"Can't work if I'm tired. Need the drugs to stay awake, stay focused. Need them to fall asleep, too. Can't work if I'm too fucking depressed to get out of bed, either, so I need them to be happy. Can't work if I've got no inspiration. Highs are good for inspiration." He stares at the ostentatious Hite label on his can, tracing a finger through the droplets of beer clinging to the mouth.

"You know that's pretty fucked up, right?"

He knows. Minwoo used to tell him that all the time when they were friends and living together with the others. He’s no stranger to drugs, but he's not like Yoongi. None of them were like Yoongi. "I didn't realize we were close enough for you to offer your opinions on my life."

"We were, once."

They were.

Not for the first time, Yoongi wonders if maybe he's missing something - if maybe there’s something in the way Minwoo avoids his gaze. Some greater meaning to the hurt that had laced his words that day; you left me.

"Yeah," Yoongi says, because he doesn't know what else to say. "Yeah."

Minwoo's starting to look uncomfortable, like he's minutes from standing up and taking his leave. Yoongi's already lost the chance of a night with Jimin. He's loathe to admit it, but he's lonely.

"You wanna, uh, watch TV or something?" Yoongi offers, even though he doesn't really watch TV.

Minwoo shrugs. "I've got nowhere to be."

They shuffle over to the sofa, and Yoongi flips to some arbitrary channel. Minwoo sits awkwardly on the opposite end from him, and they watch in silence. Yoongi finds himself wondering how two people who used to be comfortable enough to cry in front of each other can barely talk anymore.

But that’s how Yoongi’s life has always been. He’s learned well by now that it only takes the blink of an eye for everything to change.

Chapter Text

They don’t have to bully their way into the next festival; they get invited.

Yoongi has a slot all to himself. He performs two of his own songs this time, then the crew comes out and they perform the cypher. People know him. They chant his name and sing along to the chorus and shout when he high-fives the closest to the stage. They know the crew, too, call their names and cheer especially loud at Dahye and Namjoon’s parts of the cypher.

All in all, the show goes remarkably well. Yoongi's a little high and a little drunk when he stumbles off the stage with the others, so he's laughing. He laughs at everything, a smile plastered on his face. He's not sure if he was made for performing the way he's made to write music, but sometimes he loves it. Sometimes he feels like maybe he is. They take shots together backstage, wiping the sweat from their brows, before heading out into the club. Yoongi's halted by more than person complimenting his performance, claiming to be a fan, and he can't stop grinning through it all. He even signs a girl’s arm.

By the time he makes it to the bar, Jimin's already there waiting for him.

"Hyung!"

Yoongi barely gets a good look at him before Jimin flings his arms around his neck, heedless of how sweaty Yoongi still is. Laughing, Yoongi hugs him back, spinning him around as much as he can in the crowded space. "I didn't know you were coming."

"I wasn't sure if I could get a night away, but the staff gave us permission at the very last minute."

It's the us that piques Yoongi's interest. He pulls away from Jimin to look at the girl he was standing with. She glances at Jimin expectantly, and Jimin starts with a laugh.

"Sorry. Hyung, this is Chungha. Chungha, this is Yoongi hyung."

"Nice to meet you." She has a light, sweet voice, so soft-spoken that even though she's clearly raising her voice, Yoongi has to lean in to hear her.

Yoongi can't help the stir of excitement at finally meeting her. He's heard so much about her - Chungha this, Chungha that - that he's been itching to attach a face to the name. Part of him had considered that he might never meet her; he was never quite sure if Jimin considered him close enough to introduce him to his best friend. But now she's here, and Yoongi feels a little like he's accomplished something.

She's pretty, of course, with these high cheekbones and round face that make her look at once regal and soft. Her long, dark hair falls in waves down her back; she's wearing a crop top and black skinny jeans that compliment her figure. She's a good deal tinier than him and Jimin. When she smiles, she immediately looks much younger. Despite the care clearly put into her outfit, she isn't wearing any makeup.

"I've heard a lot about you," Yoongi says, returning her bow with his own.

"I've heard a lot about you, too," she returns, and Yoongi's definitely not imagining the hint of amusement in her tone. "I feel like we know each other already."

Yoongi laughs, rubbing his head awkwardly. He wonders exactly how much she knows about him.

"You're a really good rapper."

"Thanks for coming," Yoongi glances at them both. "And thank you for the dakjuk that one day, Chungha-ssi."

"You can call me Chungha."

"I guess... you can call me oppa?" It feels weird. Most of the women he knows that are close enough to refer to him with such familiarity are older than him, not younger.

He glances at Jimin for affirmation, but he’s looking around them with an uncomfortable pinch to his mouth. Yoongi wonders if he's looking for Minwoo. Since the awkward reunion in his apartment, he’s asked Jimin more than once about their history, only for him to evade the questions every time.

Chungha smacks her hand into Jimin's stomach. He turns back to them with an oof . "Pay attention," she says.

It's precisely when Jimin starts paying attention that Minwoo shows up, sliding beside them at the bar. He's changed out of the sweaty tank top he'd performed in, but he’s still out of breath.

"Hey," he says.

Jimin jumps a little. "Hi, hyung."

Yoongi doesn't miss the way Minwoo leans in as if for a hug, as if out of habit, then catches himself before he’s too close. He steps to Yoongi's side instead. "What'd you think of the show?"

"It was awesome. You, uh, performed really well."

Minwoo looks pleased. "Thanks."

They make small talk for a while after introducing Chungha and Minwoo, and it's awkward. Yoongi's nearly considering asking them if they want to leave for a pojangmacha or something when Chungha spots someone she knows in the crowd. She leaves them to say hello, and Jimin mumbles something about the bathroom before shoving his half-finished drink into Yoongi's hands and disappearing. For what feels like the hundredth time, Yoongi wonders what exactly there is between him and Minwoo.

Yoongi and Minwoo watch them go, stuck awkwardly together again.

"She's hot, huh," Minwoo says, eyes on Chungha's retreating figure through the crowd, her long hair swinging above her waist.

"Yeah, real hot," Yoongi says. Going through the motions is habit now; he barely even bats an eyelash, though his voice sounds less enthusiastic than it maybe should. He shoots a glance at Minwoo from the corner of his eye. He looks like he's thinking about something else. ‘

Briefly, Yoongi wonders if maybe Minwoo's only going through the motions, too.

When Yoongi answers his collect call two weeks later, Jimin sounds like he's been crying.

"Hyung, can you pick me up?"

Yoongi's already reaching for his keys. "Hey, I gotta run," he tells Yejin and Sungkyum before leaving the studio with his jacket half-on. "What's wrong, Jimin-ah? What happened?"

"I'll tell you when you get here."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm okay. I'm fine. I just - I'll explain."

Jimin rattles off the intersection where he's waiting, and Yoongi speeds there as fast as he can. Something about Jimin's voice has his mind flying to all sorts of dismal possibilities. He spots Jimin waiting at a bus stop while he turns the corner and pulls to a stop in front of him. Jimin doesn't look like he's been crying the way he'd sounded like it; he conceals it well, sits casually on the bench staring off across the street like he's just lost in thought. When Yoongi honks, he jerks to attention and grabs his bag, the ratty messenger he always takes to practice.

He slips into the passenger seat with a breathy hey .

"What's going on?" Yoongi demands.

"I'm sorry. I just - I had to get away from there. I didn't know who else to call."

"Forget that, you know you can call me whenever the fuck - just tell me what's going on."

"Can we go to your place first?"

Yoongi doesn't want to wait, anxiousness making his skin itch, but he pulls back onto the road and impatiently floors it on the way back home. Jimin doesn't say much, fiddles with the radio and stares at his feet. He's dressed in practice clothes, and he's wearing the black pair of dance shoes Yoongi had gotten him. He's too worried to be pleased at the sight.

When they make it up to his apartment, Jimin slips his shoes off by the door and tosses his bag on Yoongi's counter. He heads to the fridge first, heedless of Yoongi's impatience, and uncaps a bottle of beer. "Want one?"

"You're offering me my own beer in my own house," Yoongi teases, just to lighten his own nerves.

Jimin smiles. "Do you want one or not?"

He takes the proffered bottle. Jimin perches on a stool at the island counter and gestures to the one next to him.

"You should probably sit down for this."

Yoongi sits, though not without an increase in agitation. He jostles his knee up and down as he waits for Jimin to take another swig.

"They talked to us about debuting today."

His first reaction is happiness. Then confusion, because he doesn't understand why Jimin would be so upset when he's finally gotten what he wanted. "And? Do you have a date? A concept? Who's producing the - "

Jimin shakes his head. "We aren't - we aren't debuting. Not like that."

A sense of dread settles in his stomach. "What do you mean?"

"XO wants to do a survival show."

His heart thuds so hard in his chest that it hurts. He stares at Jimin, stares at the bitter quirk of his mouth and the faded look in his eyes. "What?"

"They're going to work with Mnet. They're putting all of us male trainees on there, even the new ones that just made it through the auditions a few months ago. The final group's going to have nine members. It's based on voting."

"Entirely on voting? No judging at all?"

Jimin shrugs. "I think judging is a percentage. They didn’t give us all the details yet."

He's heard a lot about survival shows; it's impossible to get away from them these days. Suddenly every company wants to have a survival show, uncaring of the massive physical and mental strain it has on the trainees. Yoongi was a guest producer on a girl group survival show once, offering a song to a temporary team on the show for them to perform. Off-camera, they were miserable. Crying at everything, running on no sleep, frequenting the hospital for IVs to give them energy so they could keep practicing.

The thought of Jimin on a show like that - the thought of Jimin suffering for months, sick and sleepless and constantly, constantly scared - Yoongi's fingers tremble.

"I don't wanna do it," Jimin says, and his composure finally crumbles. His lower lip wobbles and his eyes scrunch as he tries in vain to keep the tears from overflowing.

Yoongi's up and reaching for him before he even registers that he's moving. He pulls Jimin into his chest, lets him fist his hands in Yoongi's shirt. Feels the way his body trembles and the way he tries to restrain it, too.

"Hasn't it been long enough?" Jimin's voice comes hoarse and muffled against his shirt. "Haven't I tried long enough?"

He's been working at it for nearly half his life. Nearly half his life desperate for debut, only to have it placed within his reach but with a backbreaking obstacle in the way. He's waited long enough. Yoongi knows he's tired. He can hear the years of weariness in his voice, can feel them in the way he slumps against him.

"Everything's so hard," Jimin whispers. "Everything's always so hard."

"I know, baby. I know." Yoongi kisses the top of his head. Strokes his hair. Tries to control the way his voice shakes.

He wouldn't have thought he'd be so affected, but Yoongi's at the edge of tears, too. Just imagining Jimin in pain - it hurts so bad he has to fight to breathe.

He broaches the unsaid question. "What happens if you say no?"

Jimin pulls away from him; Yoongi already misses the warmth of his body. There's a wet patch on his shirt. Turning away from him, Jimin dashes away at his tears with the edge of his long sleeve like he doesn't want Yoongi to see. "It's in our contract. We have to do whatever they want us to do. If we say no, we have to break the contract."

"You'll be out of the company."

"Yeah." Jimin stares at the ceiling, blinking away the rest of his tears. When he looks back at Yoongi, he's visibly steeling himself. "What if I just leave? I don't - I don't have to do this."

"You don't," Yoongi acknowledges, "but then you'll have to find another company."

"I'm 24, hyung. Maybe it's time I gave up."

If I don't have this dream, I don't have anything . He'd said that to him once. Yoongi understands, because if he doesn't have his dream, he doesn't have anything either. Jimin's been through hell and back. Homelessness, sponsorship, drug dealing, years of struggle. He's been through everything just for his dream, and now he looks at Yoongi with a tired gaze of resignation.

The years after his mother died, after he left his crew and decided he didn't care about his dream, that all he wanted was money, were some of his lowest. He's never hated himself as much he hated himself then. The existential dread had filled him up until he felt like he was suffocating. He'd felt useless, purposeless, like he no longer had the right to exist, no longer had reason to.

This dream is everything for Jimin. It's everything he wants. If he gives up, he's going to hate himself forever.

"You've been through worse," Yoongi tells him. "You've suffered through more."

"You know a girl who didn't make it through a show killed herself, right?"

Yoongi takes him by the shoulders. "Look at me, Jimin-ah." Jimin meets his gaze reluctantly. "You know there was a company that put all the failed trainees on a group to debut a year after the survival show, right?"

Jimin's mouth twists, but he nods.

"You're not too old yet. You're only 24."

"Other 24-year-old idols have already released two solo albums outside of their groups."

"And others debuted when they were nearly 30. Jimin, if you leave XO now, who knows if you'll find another company? One that's even half as decent?"

"Survival shows are brutal. I'm too old to gather as many fans as the other boys will. I'm a shitty singer. I'm not going to make it through, hyung. And I don't - I don't think I'll be able to take it if I fail."

"You're not a shitty singer. You're not too old."

"Compared to everyone else - "

"Do you have any idea how endearing you are? How charming, how lively? They're going to love you, Jiminie. I'd bet my life on it."

"Enough to forget how fucking untalented I am - "

"Don't say that," Yoongi snaps. "Don't fucking say that. You don't have to be perfect at everything. So what if your vocals need work? You're an amazing dancer - "

Jimin laughs. It's wet and humorless. "Hyung, you've barely even seen me dance."

"Your dance is the reason I noticed you." He's only seen it once, but once was enough to know. "You remember that girl group show a couple of years ago? I was a guest producer on there. One of the girls who made it into the group, I remember her because she couldn't sing for shit. Couldn't dance for shit either. But she worked hard, and she was energetic and positive and everyone fucking loved her."

His fingers tighten on Jimin's shoulders. He wants him to understand. Needs him to.

"That's the thing about fan voting. You never know what people want. Anyone has a chance. Listen to me, Jimin," he says, because he can see the distance in Jimin's eyes. The detached, defeated look. "I gave up once, and I still - " He inhales a shaky breath and finally lets go of him. "I still regret it, you know? I still feel the effects of it today. My crew, things will never be the same with them, no matter how much we get along now." He thinks about Minwoo, thinks about the resigned way he'd said, you left me . "I've sown some seeds I can't uproot."

"You weren't wrong for taking a different route," Jimin says. "You weren't."

"Maybe I wasn't," he shrugs. "Maybe I was. But the point is that I gave up and I lost a pretty big part of myself because of it."

He doesn't know if he'd do differently if he were to go back in time. He remembers the way it had felt, knowing his mother had died alone because he ran away to achieve a dream that he failed. Remembers the way his stomach ached with hunger. Remembers the sadness that settled so deep into his bones, the sadness he tried desperately to chase away with the next fix. Maybe he would do the same thing again; maybe he wouldn’t.

"You don't have to do this," Yoongi says. "You can give up if you want to. But just know that you're going to regret it. Just know that."

Jimin stares at him for a long moment before he finally nods.

"Whether that regret is worth it or not is up to you."

Yoongi had realized he was in love with Hanjae when he lay awake one night in bed listening to his mother snore five feet away. He didn't know much about love back then - still doesn't - but he knew the way his stomach clenched at the thought of him, the way every word Hanjae said seemed to hold such weight, had to mean something.

Hanjae was good to him. He picked him up in the middle of the night when he wanted to sneak away from his mom. He took him to shows, listened to his music and told him he had talent. No one had ever really told him that before. Sometimes he picked him up after school and took him out to get jajangmyeon. Hanjae told him he was handsome and talented and had a pretty smile. He told him he was his favorite.

He was good to him, and then he wasn't.

Yoongi's mother loved him; he knew that. She loved him, but it was conditional. She had to love him her way, not the way he needed. She insulted him because she thought it would make him better; she defined his path in life because she wanted him to succeed and threatened to kill herself if he didn’t. She set his journal of lyrics on fire because she thought music would lead him to a life of failure. She ignored for him a month then fixated on him for the next month, logging where he went and when he came back and what he wore and what he ate, dictating every breath he took.

No one had ever loved him the way he thought Hanjae might. No one had ever told him he was good just the way he was.

For a little while, Hanjae became his whole world.

After years of ruminating, Yoongi knows that he wasn't in love. Not really. He was just obsessed. He was desperate and lonely and fixated on the first person who showed him the slightest amount of attention. It wasn't love; it was need.

When Jimin leaves, Yoongi sets out from his apartment with nothing but a jacket and a hood. He doesn't have anywhere to go; he just walks. Crosses streets and passes by parks and shops and busy people. He walks until he barely even knows where he is.

What he felt for Hanjae wasn't love, but Yoongi thinks what he feels for Jimin might be.

He isn't in a better place than he was at 15. He's just older. Understands himself a little more, so loving Jimin isn't like loving Hanjae. It's not obsession. It's need, yes, but the need for company - not the need for everything.

Jimin makes him happy. Jimin makes him feel. Thinking about Jimin in pain makes his heart ache more than anything ever has. He thinks that maybe he'd do anything if Jimin asked; thinks maybe he'd die for him, too. Jimin's so good to him; he wants to be good to him, too. He wants to be everything Jimin needs.

Somewhere in a little park set in the middle of two apartment buildings, Yoongi finds a bench to sit and pull out a cigarette.

The hardest part about realizing he loves Jimin is understanding that it doesn't matter.

Jimin's going on a survival show. If he makes it through - which Yoongi knows he will - he'll debut, and then he'll be out of Yoongi's reach forever. But that matters even less than the fact that Jimin doesn't love him back. Jimin's still in love with a boy who broke his heart. He'd said in no complex terms that he doesn't want commitment.

He doesn't want Yoongi.

He takes a long drag of his cigarette until he's dizzy, watches a family with two playful kids walk by, all laughter and smiles.

He wonders if fate thinks it's funny that no matter what he does, he never gets what he wants.

Chapter Text

Consciousness returns to Yoongi in a heavy, lethargic way. He grows aware first of the sound of beeping and the soft squeak of sneakers on a hard floor. There’s something tight and constricting on his face. He wiggles his toes and his fingers, slowly regaining sensation; his body feels like lead. He blinks his eyes open and struggles to keep them that way as they drift shut against his will. It takes him a few tries before he opens them fully to stare at the harsh fluorescent lighting above. The beeping seems more incessant, or maybe it's just that his awareness has grown.

"You're awake?" A nurse leans over him with smiling eyes. He nods tiredly. "Great. We're gonna take this off and wheel you back into the room, okay? Dr. Hwang will be with you in a few minutes."

She removes the oxygen mask from his face and wheels his bed toward the automatic double doors at the end of the large room. Yoongi catches sight of others in the beds lining the walls, mostly still asleep after their procedures. She wheels him through the hallway, a few nurses nodding to him as they pass. His skin itches with discomfort; he feels exposed and uncomfortably helpless lying there, unable to do much more than stare back.

Kihyun's already in the room, slouching in the only chair with his phone glued to his face. He glances up when the nurse wheels him inside and hops to his feet.

"Everything okay?"

"Procedure went fine," the nurse says. She produces a bag of pretzels and a soda for Yoongi. "This'll help you wake up from the anesthesia. We'll be with you in a bit."

She leaves, and Kihyun comes to stand by the bed as Yoongi tears open the bag of pretzels. Staring at it now, he realizes he's awfully hungry.

"How do you feel?" Kihyun asks.

Yoongi ignores him.

"Are we still doing this?" Kihyun says exasperatedly, stealing the glass of soda to take a sip for himself before Yoongi can even touch it. "Get over yourself already."

"Fuck off."

"You fuck off."

"Gimme my soda back, asshole."

Kihyun shoves the glass back in his hand and retreats to the chair. Yoongi isn’t quite mad anymore, although maybe a touch of irritation remains. He's not talking to him on principle. It's his fault he's in this situation to begin with.

The other day, he'd eaten too heavy of a lunch and thrown up all over his entryway with Kihyun at his shoulder. There'd been flecks of blood in what came out, and Kihyun had dragged him kicking and screaming to the hospital. The doctor ordered an endoscopy, and now he's here feeling drained and hungry and mostly annoyed.

"Sorry I don't want you to die," Kihyun mutters from his corner, scowling at his phone.

Yoongi sighs, popping another pretzel in his mouth. "Did I miss anything?"

"You were out for, like, half an hour."

"A lot can happen in half an hour."

"Don't be dramatic."

A knock on the door interrupts them, followed by Dr. Hwang slipping inside with a clipboard. "How are you feeling, Yoongi-ssi?"

"I'm okay."

"The procedure went well. We've essentially figured out what's going on." She drags a stool with wheels out from underneath the sink and takes a seat. "It's a good thing you came to us when you did. You already waited long enough."

"I didn't realize anything was wrong," Yoongi says, even though he did. Half of why he rarely eats anymore is because his stomach can't handle it. Unless he's eating the lightest, easiest of foods, he'll be plagued with reflux and stomachaches and nausea. He hasn't bothered doing much other than take over-the-counter medication because he knows what the problem is. He just doesn't want to address it.

"Well, you have gastritis, which is a problem with the lining of your stomach. Seems like you might have had it for a while now. That probably covers a lot of your issues."

"So what can he do for that?" Kihyun cuts in.

"I'm going to prescribe some medication, and we might want to consider some food intolerance tests. I've got a printout with some foods you should stay away from - mostly spicy things, fried things, that sort of stuff."

Yoongi nods, but his mind’s still too tired to retain much of what she says.

"We also found a stomach ulcer." Something in the way she looks at him makes him uncomfortable, like she can see right through him. "We'll give you some medicines for that, too, but stomach ulcers can be pretty dangerous if they aren't dealt with properly." She places her clipboard down on the table and sighs. "You need to stop the drugs, Yoongi-ssi."

He winces.

"There's only so much your stomach handle, and you're reaching your limit. If you keep on using the way you are now, the ulcer could turn pretty nasty. It might start bleeding or redirect the way your food's digested. And the gastritis can turn into cancer if you aren't careful."

Yoongi stares at his hands around the cup of depleting soda, blinking uncomfortably.

"You're going to destroy your stomach if you don't stop." Her voice is insistent enough that he finally looks at her again. "Do you do cold water extraction?"

"Yeah, always."

She nods. "Good. Don't ever skip out on that. Look, I'm going to refer you to a psychologist. I would highly suggest that you consider a rehabilitation center. There's a great one here in Seoul - there aren't that many in the country, but I respect this one a lot. I'll give you their card."

"I don't need to see anyone."

"Are you going to stop?" The way she raises an eyebrow tells him she doesn't believe he will.

"I can stop any time I want. I just don't want to."

"Well, now's the time. You've already permanently damaged your body, Yoongi-ssi. Wait any longer, and it'll only get worse."

He doesn't bother with an answer.

"I get it," she says. "Drugs are fun. You like to experiment when you're young. But you know you're doing it too much, right? If you were trying it every now and then, I wouldn't be seeing these kinds of effects on you."

"Thanks, Doctor," Kihyun says when Yoongi doesn't answer. "We'll figure something out."

Once she's done going through the paperwork, a nurse pushes him out to the car Kihyun brings around in a wheelchair, even though he insists he can walk. "It's protocol," she tells him once she grows tired of his objections.

The car ride makes him nauseous; he’s still getting over the anesthesia. By the time they make it back to his building, he's ready to go back to sleep.

"Here." Kihyun hands him the business cards and informational sheets the doctor had given him to Yoongi as they pass through the lobby.

Yoongi pushes his hand away. "I don't need to go to fucking rehab."

"At least consider a damn psychologist."

"Fuck off." He retreats to a corner of the elevator and crosses his arms.

"Why do you always act like a kid?" Kihyun snaps. "Do you wanna die that bad?"

He doesn't deem that one worthy of an answer.

Kihyun grows silent, perhaps realizing the unsaid. The elevator dings its arrival to Yoongi's floor, but Kihyun doesn't follow him off. "I gotta go," he mutters. "Take your meds."

He lets the elevator doors slide shut between them, and a strange sense of guilt weighs on Yoongi's shoulders. Kihyun's only trying to help. He's always the only one who ever tries to help.

Yoongi supposes it won't be long before he gets tired of him, too.

Yoongi's really not sure why Namjoon thought he could beat him when he's as clumsy as he is and Yoongi used to play basketball.

"You suck," Yoongi drones when Namjoon's balled up piece of paper misses the trash can yet again, rolling to join the scattered mess of paper on his studio floor.

"8 to 2," Minwoo says in the middle of a yawn, bottle of beer cradled against his chest like a baby. His eyes are just drifting shut when Dahye shoots up in her seat, a grin spreading across her face.

"Done," she says, gaze fixed on the glowing computer screen. "It's posted."

Yoongi slumps back in his seat with a sigh. He's not on the second track they've posted - only Namjoon, Yunha, and Sungkyum are - but he worked with Donghyuk to produce it, and he's been anxious about the response since they'd decided it would be the next track used to tease the final mixtape.

"I think we should post the mixtape in a week," Namjoon says. "Midnight Friday."

"No one's gonna listen if we post it at fucking midnight," Minwoo says, waving his beer around for emphasis.

"Give us some credit," Dahye says dryly. "We have enough people anticipating to get away with a midnight release."

"Why don't we tease it? Post a flyer on our instagrams a few days before? Something ominous. Coming soon, midnight, shit like that," Yunha suggests.

"I like that," Yoongi muses. "What about halfway between today and Friday?"

"Done."

The door bursts open to reveal an out-of-breath Donghyuk, cellphone clutched tightly in hand. He doubles over, hands on his knees, as he works to catch his breath.

"What happened to chicken?" Namjoon complains, peering around him for any sign of a takeout box.

"We posted without you," Yejin says.

Donghyuk waves them away with a frantic hand. "Who cares, guess who I just got off the phone with?"

They stare expectantly.

"Highlight Group, that company that runs a lot of domestic tours? They want us to open for Modus's next tour. They're going everywhere - Seoul, Busan, Daegu - said they'd even think about taking us abroad if the response is good."

The strangest thing about something good happening to someone who's not used to it is that Yoongi doesn't know how to react. He stares at Donghyuk with a certain level of distance, his mind detracting from his body to mull over his words. He recognizes that he should feel happy, consciously thinks that he must be, but he doesn't feel it. He doesn't feel anything.

Modus is one of the most famous rap groups in the country; Yoongi had almost managed to land a producing gig for one of their songs, but they hadn't settled on him in the end. A tour after dropping one mixtape is truly an achievement, especially when it’s for a group like Modus. The crowds will be massive. They'd been excited just performing at underground festivals, and now this -

He's too shocked to be happy.

It feels a little like a dream. Lately, everything does. His mixtape, the response, the crew, his relationship with Minwoo. Falling in love with Jimin. He thinks the universe must be taking Jimin away from him to balance out all the good that keeps happening. It's not fair, after all, to hog all the good when he doesn't even deserve it.

The others are shouting, but it sounds distant. Dahye flings her arms around Namjoon; Minwoo and Sungkyum are laughing, a desperate, disbelieving sort of laughter. A whole tour. He'd always wondered what it would be like to go on tour. Days on the road and sleepless nights and the rush of adrenaline that comes with performing over and over and over.

He lets his eyes drift shut briefly enough to envision it. Imagines standing before a sea of people, so many that their faces blur together, with the harsh stage lights burning into his eyes. Imagines reaching for them, reaching for the light just at the tip of his fingers.

Everything's always felt out of reach. But now he thinks that if he leans forward the slightest bit, he can have the light for himself.

"Yoongi. Yoongi!"

His eyes snap open.

"Your phone keeps buzzing." Namjoon gestures to his phone vibrating incessantly against the tabletop.

He grabs it to find 10 new messages from a number he doesn't recognize. Swiping to unlock, he opens them and scrolls to the first one.

hey, it's hanjae .

Yoongi's vision blurs. His grip tightens around his phone until the buttons dig into his palm and ache. He doesn't read the rest of the messages.

"Everything okay?" Namjoon asks.

Yoongi doesn't understand what the fuck Hanjae wants with him. His phone buzzes again, and a sudden rush of fury has him breaking into a sweat.

His temple throbs. With blurry eyes, he draws his arm back and flings his phone into the table.

It snaps with a resounding crack, the screen shattering, little pieces of it scattering over the table. The entire studio falls into silence. A tiny bit of the anger fades, and Yoongi looks up to see seven pairs of his eyes fixed on him, some confused, some concerned, some annoyed.

"Sorry," he mutters, the anger replaced by shame.

He stands up, shrugs on his old, oversized jacket, and rushes from the room with his head ducked. His face is hot, his hands shaking slightly in his pockets. He was right after all. The universe won't let him have too much good without something to balance it out.

Yoongi lights a cigarette and leans against the brick wall outside of the gas station, pay phone pressed to his ear. It only rings twice before a man picks up.

"XO Entertainment, can I help you?"

"Can you put Bora-ssi on the line?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"Min Yoongi."

"One moment, please."

Yoongi doesn't know Bora at all, but he's spoken to her more than once since he'd started having her connect him to Jimin. Even so, he usually goes through Kihyun, but today he doesn't want to waste time explaining to Kihyun why he doesn't have a phone. He doesn't want to waste time listening to Kihyun lecture him.

"Yoongi-ssi, everything okay?" Bora says. "This isn't your number."

"Yeah, sorry, is Jimin around?"

"They're on break from dance practice right now, actually. I'll tell him to pick up from upstairs."

"Thanks."

He takes a drag of his cigarette while he waits, resting his head against the cold bricks. A car turning by him sends a whoosh of harsh air his way, but he doesn't move to tug his jacket shut. He's tired. There are only so many things he can feel in a day before he grows weary of them.

He just wants to hear Jimin's voice.

"Hyung," Jimin says, and the corner of Yoongi's mouth lifts into an unbidden smile.

"Hey, Jiminie."

"How come you're calling from a pay phone?"

"It's kind of a long story."

"I've got time." Jimin sounds relaxed, like maybe he does.

"Oh, yeah? That's new."

"We've got an hour break. I'm sitting down. You can tell me."

"He - uh, he found my number."

Jimin doesn't say anything at first; only the sound of his breathing comes down the line before he figures it out. "Oh. He - oh."

"Texted me. A lot, like ten texts, I dunno what the fuck he was saying. Saw the first one and smashed my phone against the table."

"You're kidding."

"It's done for. In front of my whole crew, too." He snorts, shaking his head. The embarrassment hasn't faded, but somehow telling Jimin makes it feel less ominous and more ridiculous.

"You should have called him," Jimin growls. "Called him and told him to fucking choke on his own tongue, fucking asshole - "

"I didn't wanna hear his voice."

"I'll do it. Give me his damn number, I'll fuck him up - "

Yoongi laughs. "Hackles down, puppy."

Jimin huffs, clearly still seething. It makes Yoongi feel good. Cared for. "How'd he get your number, anyway?"

"No idea."

"Well, are you gonna buy a new phone now or what? You don't have to change your whole number, just block him."

"Yeah, I guess. I just panicked."

"I know."

"Talk to me about something else." Yoongi scuffs his boots against the pavement, taking another drag of his cigarette. "Tell me about your day."

"Tell me about you . Kihyunie hyung told me some stuff. I was gonna call you today if you didn't call me first."

Yoongi scoffs, rolling his eyes. "Of course he already got to you."

"Don't say it like that. I'm glad he told me."

"For what?"

"Hyung, you gotta get your shit together. This could get really bad. You know an ulcer's no joke, right?" Jimin's already getting frustrated and Yoongi hasn't even opposed him yet.

"Doc gave me some meds. It'll be fine."

"Meds don't matter if you're still popping pills every day."

"I don't pop pills every day."

"Hyung."

"Jimin."

"Hyung said the doc recommended rehab." His voice grows a little quieter at that, like he's almost afraid of how serious his words are.

"I don't need fucking rehab," Yoongi snaps, pushing away from the wall to kick angrily at a stray piece of gravel. "I'm not addicted, okay? I can stop whenever I want to."

"Then stop."

"I don't want to."

He needs this. The light's just within his grasp. He needs to make it.

"Hyung - "

"Quit nagging or I'm gonna hang up."

"Fine," Jimin exclaims. "You're impossible."

"Then why are you still talking to me, huh?"

"Shut up. Fucking drama queen." They’re silent for a tense minute, then Jimin bursts into resigned laughter. “We can’t get along for a minute.”

Yoongi finds himself laughing, too. "You think I'm a drama queen, you should hear Kihyun."

"Oh, I know." Jimin sighs, and Yoongi leans against the wall again. He takes a few more drags of his cigarette before crushing it beneath his foot. "It's almost Chuseok."

"You getting off?"

"Yup. A week."

"That's pretty good."

"Yeah." Jimin quiets, and even though Yoongi can't see his face, he gets the feeling that Jimin wants to say something. So he waits. "I'm - it's my last break. The show's starting after Chuseok."

Yoongi's fingers tighten around the phone. "You're doing it, then?"

"Yeah. I decided to do it."

"How long's it gonna last?"

"Four to five months. The show only airs for three, I think. But the first few episodes are going to take a while to film, at least that's what they said."

It's a long time. Yoongi closes his eyes again. Somewhere along that timeline, Yoongi might be going on tour. "Won't see you for a while."

"I dunno if we get breaks. Or if we can leave.”

"Yeah."

"Not sure if we get phone calls either."

"Figured."

"Chuseok's it for me," he murmurs, then sighs again. "Hyung, spend it with me."

Yoongi's eyes drift back open. He watches a family walk into the convenience store just for something to do, just to center himself. He never would have expected Jimin to ask such a thing. Jimin, who maintains the distance or their relationship much better than he ever has. "You want to spend Chuseok together?"

"It's fine if you can't," Jimin rushes to say. "I know you're busy, you probably can't take a week off, I just - just wanted to ask. I won't see you after that. That's all."

Yoongi's smiling, but it's a pained sort of smile. His heart aches. He wants to spend every moment with Jimin, can't believe that Jimin's the one asking him, can't imagine a week with Jimin all to himself. But it's only in service of the parting that will come after. It's only because it'll be the last time.

"I wanted to pay respects to my grandparents in Busan. You know, after my parents are done in the morning. I usually go, get my brother to tell me when everyone's gone so I can stop by their graves. If - if you want, we can go together."

"Jiminie," he murmurs, the smile still playing at his lips.

"I know you don't have anyone to spend it with, and I don't, either, and I know you don't see your mom, so - "

"Of course I wanna spend it with you, baby."

Jimin finally pauses to take a breath. "Really?"

"You wanna get a hotel in Busan? Stay for a week?"

"You can do that? Take that much time off?"

He can't, but he doesn't care. "It's just a week."

"Yeah, we should - we should do that. I'd love that." His voice is soft as a caress against Yoongi's ear.

It almost hurts to imagine, it sounds like such a dream - a whole week with Jimin. No work to disturb them. Just a week in a hotel with the two of them and no obligations.  He'll finally get to see Jimin rest. Finally get to spoil him the way he always wants to.

"I'm gonna book it and get back to you, okay? I'll call you tonight or tomorrow after I get a new phone."

"Do you need help? I've got some money saved up, I'll pay my share when I see you - "

"Shut up," Yoongi snorts. "You barely have food to eat, idiot. This one's on me."

"You always say that." Jimin sounds borderline whiny.

"This one's on me, and the next one's on me, too. They're all on me, so shut up. When you're famous, it'll be on you, yeah?"

"Fine, asshole."

"I'm gonna go then. I gotta find somewhere to buy a fucking phone before Kihyun finds out I broke mine."

He's about to hang up but catches Jimin's exclaimed wait just in time. "Hyung," Jimin says, and he sounds small again. "You don't - this isn't weird, is it? This doesn't change things between us?"

Yoongi pinches the bridge of his nose, fighting back a tired sigh. Of course Jimin wants to make sure they're just the way they were, no strings attached. Of course Jimin still feels the same as he always does. It's only Yoongi who's gone and changed all on his own. "'Course not, Jimin-ah. I'll call you later, okay?"

"Okay. Bye, hyung."

Yoongi hangs up and walks off down the sidewalk with a strange mix of light and heavy in his heart.

Chapter Text

Jimin's enthralled with everything about their hotel.

He yanks on Yoongi's arm and excitedly points out the dispenser of cucumber and lemon water in the lobby. That's what I made you, they have that ? He gazes up at the lobby's chandelier for so long Yoongi has to lead him along with a hand on the small of his back, and then he counts the steps from one end of the elevator to the other because it's huge, hyung, have you ever been in an elevator this big ?

Yoongi stands, amused, in the doorway of their room while Jimin runs from one end to the other, gazing in awe at the jacuzzi in the bathroom before dashing to the massive windows to tug the curtains away and marvel at the view. Yoongi can't stop smiling while watching him; it's an echo of the smile on Jimin's face, of the brightness in his eyes as he glances between Yoongi and some new, surprising feature of the room. He'd gotten the best room he could afford for the week. It's nice enough that he might have to budget for the next few months to manage, but he doesn't mind. The awe on Jimin's face is worth it.

"Haven't you ever been in a hotel before?" He goes for dry, but he thinks his voice comes out gentler than he intends.

Jimin pops back from where he's leaning half out the window to say, "Never! Well, maybe when I was little, but I can't remember." The glee dampens for a moment. "When I met my sponsor it was in an apartment he owned. Not a hotel."

Yoongi steps inside the room, depositing their suitcases by the sitting area before snatching the room service menu off the coffee table. "Look, they've got barbeque on the menu."

The sparkle returns to Jimin's eyes, and he bounces to peer over his shoulder. "The drink menu looks pretty extensive."

"There's a bar and pool on the roof."

"We have to go!"

"I think they're only open at night. We can check it out after dinner."

"Are we ordering room service or eating out?"

Yoongi shrugs. "Up to you. You know Busan better than I do. What's a good place to eat?"

"Hyung, I was a kid when I lived here," he says. "I dunno anything about city restaurants."

"We can ask downstairs."

Jimin turns away from him to resume his perusing of the room, and Yoongi kicks his shoes off before crawling onto the bed and resting against the plush array of pillows with a sigh. As soon as Jimin hears him, he turns back to him and frowns.

"Don't tell me you're gonna take a nap."

"I'm tired," he complains, throwing an arm over his eyes.

"We just got here. Old man."

"Yeah, but I was driving," he says petulantly, making himself comfortable.

"You're so boring."

Yoongi feels the bed dip as Jimin joins him, but he doesn't move his arm from his eyes even as he feels Jimin's weight settle into his lap.

"Hyung," he purrs, and his voice is much closer than before. He pulls Yoongi's arm away so he has to look at him, straddling his lap with lidded eyes. "Don't you wanna break the bed in?"

Yoongi scoffs even as his blood stirs. He slings his arms around Jimin's neck, curling in his fluffy hair, and tugs him down so that he's lying on him chest-to-chest. "Go to sleep," he mumbles into Jimin's hair, earning an irritated squirm.

" Boring ," Jimin emphasizes, wiggling to break out of Yoongi's embrace.

Yoongi flips them over, pinning Jimin onto the bed, and grins down at him. Jimin could break free easily if he wanted to, but he only flops a little before he goes pliant. "Your fault for going on a trip with a boring guy like me."

"Stop being dramatic."

Yoongi kisses him, letting him go to curl his hands in his hair. He could stay like this forever - kissing Jimin slowly in an unfamiliar city, unbothered by any outside concerns. Jimin smells as sweet as he tastes, his hair soft beneath Yoongi's fingertips. Things haven't been so different since Yoongi realized he loved him, just heavier. Every touch carries a certain weight that it didn't before.

He could go on kissing him all afternoon, but he doesn't want to give himself away like that. So he pulls back and collapses on the bed again, tugging a pillow over his face.

"Goodnight."

Jimin makes a noise of complaint before rolling off the bed and padding over to somewhere else in the room. Yoongi listens to him clatter around and moves the pillow just enough to watch. He's occupied himself with the coffee maker, peering at the buttons and opening the lid in interest.

"This one's almost as fancy as yours," he calls over his shoulder. He loses interest with it soon enough then heads over to the doorway. "I'm gonna go explore. Have a good cat nap."

Yoongi waits for the sound of the door shutting before smiling into his pillow.

The hotel rooftop is as spectacular as the website description had made it sound. Canopied beds with pretty sheets line the rails of the rooftop, and the lighting around all the various seating areas is gorgeous. It's too cold for the pool to be open, so it's empty of water, but Yoongi can tell it must look gorgeous in the summertime. Despite the time of year, it's busy; music blasts from speakers set up on the corners of the roof, and the bar is lined with customers. Since it's a nicer hotel, everyone's dressed to the nines: designer jewelry and impeccable clothes, sipping expensive drinks and chatting with an air of self-importance.

Yoongi and Jimin very clearly don't fit in with the posh crowd, but they do look the part. Jimin's so handsome tonight that Yoongi can't take his eyes off him.

It's only because he can't look away that he notices the hesitance with which Jimin steps onto the rooftop. "What's wrong?" he asks, leaning in so Jimin can hear him.

Jimin glances at him from the side of his eye. "Nothing, it's just - dinner was expensive, and drinks are probably going to be expensive, too - "

Yoongi snorts. "Earlier today, you were threatening to use my card to buy the whole room service menu."

"Yeah, but I wasn't going to do it."

"I'll keep that in mind for next time you try to threaten me, then."

"Shut up." Jimin smacks his stomach and starts off toward the bar.

Yoongi catches up easily, sliding an arm around his waist. Jimin stiffens briefly, glancing around them, but no one's paying them any attention. He presses his mouth to Jimin's ear so he can murmur, "Don't worry, baby, daddy's paying."

It's comical how quickly Jimin turns red from his neck to the tips of his ears. He tugs away from Yoongi with the force of annoyance, crossing his arms tightly over his chest and refusing to look at him, even when Yoongi laughs and tries to tug him back.

"I'm just teasing you."

"Just go get us some fucking drinks."

Yoongi makes his way over to the bar to order, still laughing to himself. It takes the bartender a bit of time to get their drinks ready, busy as she is with the multitude of customers, Jimin has somehow managed to find them a free table removed from the noisiest parts of the rooftop, and Yoongi weaves through the crowd of guests before placing the drinks down and pushing onto the high chair.

Jimin peers down at his drink with a look of distaste.

"What?" Yoongi says defensively. "You didn't tell me what you wanted."

"Are you kidding me, hyung?" He looks at him with a deadpan expression.

"What?" Yoongi demands, irritation growing.

"How low do you think my alcohol tolerance is?"

"The fuck do I know, it's not like we've gone drinking together."

"Of course," Jimin mutters. He looks away, staring disinterestedly off to the other side of the roof, and rests his chin in his hand. After a second, he takes a sip of his drink, nose wrinkled.

Yoongi stares at him, hand wrapped around his own glass of whiskey, his scowl deepening. He's not sure how the fuck he was supposed to know what Jimin wanted when he didn't even tell him, and he's even less sure why Jimin's throwing a fit over it. "What the fuck do you mean, 'of course'?"

Jimin glances at him, and he still looks deadpan - bored, uninterested. "Of course you'd assume I'm not a drinker."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You think I'm soft." His expression finally changes, turns accusatory, a frown tugging at the corners of his lips.

For a moment Yoongi just stares at him, annoyance heating his face, until he realizes. He remembers the way Jimin had hidden his drug dealing past from him just to appear a certain way - I guess I give off that innocent vibe, don’t I? Guys like you like that. Jimin's clearly quite aware of the way he appears, and he knows how to use that softness to his advantage. But there's a part of him that hasn't reconciled with it yet.

"Jimin," he says, letting himself come down from the budding anger. "There's nothing the fuck wrong with being soft."

"I know ," Jimin insists, his pretty mouth still downturned. "I know there isn't."

"Then why are you acting like there is?"

"I don't want you to think I'm someone I'm not. I'm not - I'm not innocent. You know the shit I've done, been through."

Yoongi finds himself shaking his head. Jimin doesn't get it. "Yes, you are." Jimin opens his mouth to argue, but Yoongi doesn't let him. "Your softness doesn't have shit to do with you've done or seen or whatever."

"How does it not?" He won't meet Yoongi's eyes the way he does when he starts to get upset. "You don't know the half of it - "

"It's how you look at the world. Don't you see?" Yoongi smiles a little bitterly, his hands wrapping tight around his glass, cold and wet from the condensation. "I'm cynical. You're not. You still look for the best in people. I haven't done that in a long time. That's why you're soft, or whatever it is you're so afraid of being."

"I'm not as good as you think I am." His voice has softened enough that Yoongi has to lean across the table to hear him. "I've been lying to you."

Yoongi's stomach drops right to his feet. His voice tight, he asks, "What do you mean?"

Jimin finally looks up. He looks wary. "Minwoo hyung. I didn't tell you how I know him."

The sense of foreboding intensifies. He waits.

"We used to fuck."

Yoongi can't help the sharp inhale of breath or the way his whole body stiffens, his fingers finally leaving the glass to clench into fists instead. Jimin's eyes follow the movement. He's not sure how he feels, can't sort through his emotions, but he does recognize a sliver of something - relief? triumph? - that his suspicions about Minwoo's sexuality were true after all.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Yoongi finally says.

"I didn't know if he was out to you and the rest of the crew yet. I knew he wasn't before, back when we, um, knew each other." Jimin's peering at him carefully, like he's waiting for Yoongi's real reaction to come through. "I didn't want to start anything."

"So why are you telling me now?"

"Because I feel bad. Because he's your friend, you're close, and I'm - " Jimin shrugs helplessly. He's something undefinable. "It's been bothering me, that you don't know. That I've been lying."

"You weren't his dealer, then."

Jimin shakes his head. "Some of his mutual friends knew the people I delivered weed for. That's how I met him. Friend of a friend."

Yoongi tenses further, a thought occurring to him. "He's not the asshole you dated, is he?"

"No, god no. We just fucked around for a while. I was lonely, and he was - " Jimin clamps his mouth shut, looks back down at his glass.

"You're hiding something else."

"I can't tell you. It's not my secret to tell." He looks up again, eyes wide and imploring.

Yoongi lets it go. "Fuck," he murmurs, slouching in his stool and running his hands through his hair. Part of him's jealous that Minwoo had Jimin before he did; part of him's relieved, honored even, that Jimin cares about him enough to tell him the truth. "I had a feeling," he says, "that he wasn't straight. Lately I'd been starting to suspect it."

"He was struggling with that when I met him. Wasn't too happy about liking guys."

"I can imagine he wouldn't be." Yoongi plays with his glass and thinks about when they used to live together, him and Minwoo, and how he'd never suspected it then. He'd never had an inkling that Minwoo was anything but aggressively straight like every other rapper he knew. They'd been close back then, closer than anyone else in the crew, and Yoongi feels a stab of regret. If he'd known, maybe if he'd paid better attention, he could have helped him. He knew too well what it was like to struggle alone. "Fuck," he says again.

"Are you - are you mad at me?"

He shakes his head. "I'm not mad. It's just - it's weird. We must have been living together when he was seeing you." It's strange how fate works; the same time he reconnects with Minwoo, he meets Jimin, too. "Small world."

"Yeah. It is."

"You weren't obligated to tell me, you know." They aren't anything to each other. They're just friends, maybe, and they fuck, and that's it. However much Yoongi wants there to be something more, he knows Jimin doesn't owe him anything. "We're just fucking. You don't have to tell me about that kind of stuff."

Jimin deflates; Yoongi can't tell if it's with relief or something else. There's a strange glint in his eyes, and his gaze flickers away from his. "Right," he says. "We're just fucking."

Yoongi clears his throat uncomfortably. The ice in his whiskey has all but melted, and he hasn't even sipped it yet. His stomach's swirling; he hates the feeling of it. It's a lot to take in all at once. "How good of a drinker are you, then?"

Jimin stares at him warily, perhaps thrown off by the subject change. "Pretty good."

"Let's test it." He stands up, forcing a grin onto his face. "I'm getting us shots."

Jimin's returning smile is tentative. "Ready for me to out-drink you?"

"We'll see about that."

The hotel bathroom’s jacuzzi is even better than the one Yoongi has at home.

He lounges against the side of the tub with the jets massaging his back. The sound of Jimin shuffling around outside leaks through the half-open door, and he's starting to think he might fall asleep if he lets himself even though it's the middle of the day and he slept an ample time the night before, longer and better than he has in months.

His eyes are drifting shut when he finally hears Jimin's bare feet pad onto the granite floor. He snaps them open with effort to see Jimin let his bathrobe fall carelessly to the ground before stepping over it and slipping into the tub across from Yoongi. In his hands, he carries the blunt and lighter Yoongi had asked him to fetch.

"This is nice," Jimin says, relaxing into the water.

Yoongi gestures for the blunt. Jimin brings himself with it, crawling into Yoongi's lap, his skin smooth against Yoongi's as he settles against him. He lights it himself before placing it between Yoongi's lips. Yoongi slouches back, gaze travelling over the pretty lines of Jimin's face above him as he takes a long drag. Looking at him now is strange when he knows that in hardly a week, his face will be trapped in front of a roomful of cameras. Soon Jimin won't be just his anymore, not that he ever was. Not really.

"Want some?" he offers.

Jimin tilts his head, considering. Yoongi could look at him forever. Memorize every line of his face, sharp and soft, commit the red of his lips and curve of his brows to memory. Save him somewhere deep in his mind to have when he's not around anymore. Soon everyone will know his face, but no one will know it the way Yoongi does. No one will know the way Jimin looks like this.

"Shotgun," Jimin says.

Yoongi takes another drag before threading his fingers through the back of Jimin's soft hair and pulling him in. Jimin's open mouth presses against his, and he exhales just as Jimin breathes in. He lets their lips linger together for a beat longer than necessary before pulling back to watch the way Jimin's lashes flutter against his smooth skin before he opens his eyes. He wonders how Jimin feels knowing Yoongi can't and won't ever fuck him sober. Wonders if he wishes Yoongi were different. After his explanation, Jimin had never asked him about it again. He'd never pushed him, even though part of Yoongi had expected that he would. Jimin isn't the type to let things go.

Lately he'd been thinking about what would it be like to fuck Jimin sober. He'd wondered if he could do it now that he knew he was in love with him, but even thinking about it had made his hands shake. It's worse now that he's in love with him. His confidence is even lower than before.

Yoongi takes another drag before he holds one for Jimin, bringing him in and breathing into his mouth. He holds him there for longer this time, slips his tongue in to flick against Jimin's. When Jimin pulls away, his eyes are lidded.

He leans close until his mouth is hot against Yoongi's ear, lips soft and slick. "How many more drags 'til you fuck me?"

He's already relaxed, his anxiety starting to ebb away into contentment. Tapping Jimin's hip so he slides off, he says, "Lemme grab the lube."

He steps out of the tub, carelessly leaking water across the bathroom floor as he fishes it out of his bag on the sink. He's not hard yet, but he knows he will be soon enough, so he lubes up his cock and slips back into the tub, pulling Jimin to him immediately. Jimin straddles him once more, taking a drag of Yoongi's blunt himself this time before pressing their mouths together. He doesn't pull away after Yoongi inhales, kisses him instead, their noses brushing. He kisses him until he's breathless, and by then the places where their skin touches underwater have begun to tingle.

Yoongi takes two drags in quick succession until he's dizzy before letting Jimin shotgun one. He kisses him intently, pulling him in by the jaw, and Jimin presses their bodies closer together, their chests and cocks and legs flush against each other. Yoongi's starting to get overwhelmed with the high and Jimin's proximity, kissing him harder and longer. When they've smoked the last of the blunt, Jimin licks into his mouth and braces his hands on either side of Yoongi against the rim of the tub. Then he rolls his hips down hard, gasping when their cocks meet.

Yoongi's starting to lose himself already, rolling his hips to meet Jimin's, leaning back so he can watch the way his face tenses with pleasure. The heat of the water, the pressure of the jets, Jimin's body against him - it's almost too much, and they've barely even started.

"Lemme get inside you already," Yoongi murmurs, running his fingers along Jimin's cheek.

Jimin giggles suddenly, pausing his movements to lean in and laugh into Yoongi's hair.

"What's so funny?" Yoongi's grinning, too, but only because Jimin is.

"That sounded funny."

"You're just high."

Jimin giggles again and balances himself on his knees so he can begin to lower himself onto Yoongi's cock. Yoongi watches the way his face changes the more he takes; he's entranced, can't look away. It's been awhile since Jimin rode him, been awhile since he got to look at his face like this. He runs his hands up Jimin's sides underwater and traces his fingers over his abdomen.

"That tickles," Jimin laughs, swatting his hands away. His amusement turns into a gasp when he bottoms out, ass meeting Yoongi's thighs.

He doesn't waste any time, rolling his hips and tightening his grip on the tub. Yoongi tweaks his nipples, leaning in to suck a mark into his neck as Jimin begins to fuck himself in earnest, throwing his head to bare his throat for Yoongi. His gasps are restrained at first, almost tense, but the harder his hips move, the more he starts to let loose.

When he finally moans, quiet and high, Yoongi kisses him. He kisses him so thoroughly Jimin's hips slow from distraction, his hands leaving the tub to curl in Yoongi's hair and yank lightly at the strands.

When they break away from each other, breathless, Yoongi says, "Don't hold back. I wanna hear you."

"We're in a hotel," Jimin says, brows furrowing as he starts to fuck himself again. "I don't wanna - ah ."

He breaks off into a gasp when Yoongi fucks back, gripping his hips and thrusting into him. He wants to hear him, always does, loves the way Jimin's voice sounds when he's desperate and needy. "I don't care."

He meets Jimin's rolls with his thrusts, starting up a rhythm that has the water splashing around them. He's flushing from the heat, and so is Jimin, pink spreading down to his chest. It's almost making him dizzy, but he feels good, floating on the euphoria of his high and the way it feels to have Jimin so close and all his.

Jimin can't hold his moans back for long, whimpering and whining with every thrust. Yoongi licks over his nipple, running a hand up the smooth skin of his back to fist in his hair and tug his head back so he can kiss up his neck.

"Yoongi," Jimin moans, gasping when Yoongi pulls on his hair in response. "Hyung," he corrects, "harder."

Yoongi leans back, bracing himself against the tub so he can grip Jimin's hips and fuck him faster. There's water splashing onto the bathroom floor now, getting into their hair and faces. Maybe it's because he's high, but Yoongi can't stop fixating on how beautiful Jimin looks, on the minuscule changes of expression - the way he tugs his plump lower lip between his teeth until it whitens, how his nose scrunches or how every so often when Yoongi's cock hits him just right, his eyes roll and his lashes flutter.

The euphoria's giving way to a sort of distance that comes sometimes when he's high. For a moment he's caught up in thinking about how beautiful Jimin is, and in the next he's thinking something irrational. He's wondering if Minwoo got to see Jimin like this. If Jimin still remembers the way Minwoo feels inside him. Then he's abruptly, acutely aware that Jimin isn't all his after all.

But he wants him to be. He wants him to know that he's in love with him, that a week ago he had a dream where they woke up together and just that was enough to make him feel warm even though he can't remember the last time he woke up feeling happy instead of awful. He wants him to know that Jimin's smile makes him smile and the thought of their impending separation makes him feel like his insides are shriveling up into nothing.

"Jiminie," he finds himself saying, and his voice sounds strange to his own ears. He wonders if Jimin can tell how he feels from the way he's looking at him. "Jimin - "

He almost says it.

It would be easy. I love you .

He tenses, squeezes his eyes shut, and grounds himself.

When he opens his eyes again, Jimin's slowing down, head tilted in confusion. "Are you okay?"

"Turn around," Yoongi demands, tapping Jimin's hip. His voice doesn't sound lost anymore. It sounds hard.

Jimin lifts off his cock and turns, but before he can sink back down, Yoongi grabs his arms and stands, crowding him against the other side of the tub. "Hyung," Jimin says weakly, and Yoongi can hear how much he likes the force in his hitching breath.

Jimin grows pliant under his hold as he presses him into the side of the tub, pushing him face down over the edge to rest against the cold granite platform surrounding it. Like this Yoongi can only see the side of his face, his cheek and mouth puffing out as they press against the counter.

He doesn't want to look at him.

He leans in so his mouth is at Jimin's ear. "Slut," he says. "You're so desperate for my cock you just let me do whatever I want, don't you?"

He needs to remember that Jimin isn't his. That Jimin won't ever be his.

Jimin shivers. "Fuck me already."

He pulls back and fucks into him, setting a hard pace immediately. The force of his thrusts means Jimin can't hold back at all anymore, and his hiccuping moans bounce off the bathroom walls, adding to the slap of water and skin every time Yoongi's hips meet Jimin's ass. Jimin pillows his arms under his head, hiding his face in his bicep and muffling his moans.

"Bet Minwoo didn't fuck you like this," Yoongi growls, wrapping his hand around the back of Jimin's neck and pressing him tighter into the counter.

"Hyung," he says, and it sounds almost like a sob.

Yoongi fucks him hard, the brutal snap of his hips almost robotic in its ceaseless rhythm. He doesn't look at Jimin while he fucks him, fixes his gaze on the bathroom wall instead. He can feel his muscles tightening already, and his thrusts grow sloppy in his desperation. He closes his eyes, grunting with every thrust as he chases his orgasm until Jimin's crying out.

He comes with a moan, reaching around Jimin to stroke his cock until he's coming, too. Pulling out, he watches the way Jimin slumps into the side of the tub, gasping for breath, flush high on his cheeks. He looks weak and fucked out and normally Yoongi would pull him up and kiss him and wash the cum from his ass but today he doesn't want to look at him. Today he can't, because then he might say something he'll regret. Then he might ruin them forever.

Jimin reaches behind him to loosely grasp Yoongi’s wrist. Yoongi knows him well enough to understand that it’s a silent request for him to come closer. He moves back and tugs his wrist from Jimin’s hold.

Stepping out of the tub and dripping water as he goes, he slips into the spare bathrobe hanging behind the door. He leaves Jimin clutching the side of the tub weakly without glancing back, even when he hears Jimin call after him, "Yoongi?"

His legs are shaking from the aftereffects of coming, but he fights through it. He's grabbing his pack of cigarettes and a light off the hotel desk when he hears the shower turn on. Tugging the robe tighter around his body, he moves out onto the balcony and closes the door behind him.

It's cold outside, especially compared to the heat of the tub. His hands tremble as he lights a cigarette and brings it to his lips, but he's not sure if it's from the frigid air or something else. He thinks the weed might be giving him anxiety, that maybe he’s having a bad reaction, because suddenly he's shaking all over, his breath tight in his chest, his vision blurring.

Hanjae had done the same thing to him the only time they ever fucked.

Yoongi isn't sure why he's thinking about Hanjae, but suddenly he can remember the day with startling clarity, as if it were only yesterday. He closes his eyes, and he can almost recall the scent of Hanjae's sheets. He feels like he’s slipping in and out of reality - like he’s on the balcony of a hotel in Busan one moment, and in the next he’s on blue sheets in an apartment that doesn’t have air conditioning with Hanjae’s hands hot on his skin.  

Hanjae had fucked him on a threadbare mattress on the floor of the tiny, crowded apartment he shared with three other guys, none of whom were home that day. Yoongi remembers stepping through discarded beer bottles and hiding his trembling hands behind his back. He hadn't wanted Hanjae to think he was nervous. He hadn't wanted to be nervous.

He wasn't prepared enough. He'd only ever fingered himself a few times; he hadn't gotten used to relaxing himself properly yet. Maybe Hanjae had assumed he'd experimented, that he was ready, or maybe he just hadn’t cared. They'd kissed and touched until they were both hard, and Yoongi had started to feel okay, started to feel excited.

Then Hanjae had pushed inside him, and he found it was a lot harder to relax than he thought it'd be, and that it hurt more than he'd expected it would. Hanjae told him to relax, soothed a hand down his spine, and then he fucked him face-down into his ratty old mattress until he came inside him, pulled out, and walked away. Now that he's thinking about it, Yoongi can remember clearly how he'd lain there perfectly still and listened to the sound of the shower in Hanjae's bathroom. He'd been sore and nervous and he didn't move an inch, his hands still trapped underneath him, his muscles tight and his breath shaky against the sheets.

He could have told him to stop, but he hadn't wanted to. He'd thought maybe it was supposed to hurt and you just had to get used to it, and that if he said anything he'd look like a wimp and Hanjae wouldn't want him anymore.

All he'd wanted was for Hanjae to love him.

Hanjae had come out of the bathroom when he was done, tossed him a towel, and told him he'd drive him home. Yoongi returned to his mother's apartment only to sit with a stiff back and sore ass while his mother showed him the brochure for a university in Seoul she'd found under his pillow and told him that if he left her, she'd kill herself.

Leaving Jimin after fucking him brings him back to an old place, a darker place, where Hanjae had done that to him. It's not quite the same as then, but Yoongi wonders if maybe over time, you become like the people who hurt you. Maybe you hurt so you don't get hurt again.

He doesn't realize he's crying until he registers the way the cold cuts into his cheeks. Sinking into a crouch, he lets the cigarette slip from his fingers so he can tangle his hands in his hair and pull until it stings. He's shaking so hard it hurts, teeth clattering harshly and struggling to breathe. He'd only wanted to stop himself from ruining their relationship forever. Now he's only made it worse.

He opens the balcony door and slips back into the room. Jimin's in bed now, lying atop the comforter in only his robe, his hair damp from the shower. His back is to Yoongi, and he's curled up small and tight like he's trying to make himself disappear.

There's a hole clawing itself open inside Yoongi's chest.

"Jimin," he says, and he sounds as scared as he feels.

Jimin doesn't move.

"Jimin-ah." He sits carefully on the other side of the bed, but Jimin's shoulders remain drawn tight. "Jimin, baby, please look at me."

"Leave me alone." Jimin's voice is hard, cold.

"I'm sorry, baby, hyung was wrong - "

He reaches for him, and his hand barely rests on Jimin's shoulder before Jimin shakes it off. "Don't touch me."

Yoongi moves around the bed to kneel on the floor before Jimin, and he can't even try to hide the tears. Jimin stares at him with a distance in his gaze that only makes him hurt more.

"I didn't - I fucked up - I don't know what I was thinking - "

"I know we're just fucking, but you don't have to treat me like I'm nothing." He sounds bitter.

"I know. I know, I'm sorry."

"I thought we were too close for that. I thought - " Jimin's composure finally breaks the smallest bit. He casts his eyes downward, away from Yoongi. "I thought I meant more to you than that."

"You do, baby." Yoongi digs his nails into his palms, itching to touch Jimin, to hold him. "You mean - you mean a lot to me."

"Were you mad at me?" he demands, and he sounds half-incredulous and half-furious. "Because of Minwoo?"

"No, Jiminie," he rushes to say, "I could never - no one has the right to be mad at you for that. You didn't do anything wrong."

"My ex used to get mad at me for stuff like that."

"Your ex was trash," Yoongi growls, then he wonders if he's any better. He tries to breathe, tries to gain control of himself. In and out. In and out, until he can think with more clarity and speak with it, too. "I wasn't mad you. That's not it."

"Then why'd you leave me like that?"

"I'm sorry," he says, because he doesn't know what else to say.

"You keep saying we're friends, we've spent so much time together - if I wanted to get fucked and ignored I could find someone at the damn club for a night." Jimin's breath hisses between his teeth, and he pauses like he's centering himself. "I thought you cared about me, at least - at least a little."

"Jimin-ah, please." This time when Yoongi reaches for him, Jimin lets him. He cups his face in his hands and strokes his hair and cheeks with a gentle touch. "I do. Believe me. Hyung's sorry, okay? So sorry." He shakes his head, and there are still tears suspended on the ends of his lashes even though he's managed to stop crying. He’s not sure if he’s ever cried in front of Jimin before. “I wasn’t thinking straight, and I shouldn’t have done that to you. Please believe that I didn’t mean it.”

Jimin's lip quivers, barely perceptible, and he blinks furiously. "You know, this is the first time I've ever heard you say 'sorry.'"

"God." Yoongi lets out a humorless laugh. "I'm really fucking shit, aren't I?"

"No," Jimin murmurs. He scoots aside and pulls Yoongi into the bed with him. Yoongi wraps himself around him, pressing their foreheads together, brushing his thumb along his cheek. "You just fuck up sometimes. I do, too. Just don't do this one again, okay?"

"I won't. Never."

"Okay." Jimin curls into him, clutching his robe and burying his face in his neck. He needs touch, craves affection, retreats into himself if he doesn't get it. Yoongi knows that. He doesn't know how to say it, isn't good at asking for what he needs, but a part of him understands that he needs the closeness as much as Jimin does. He's used to his sexual encounters being impersonal, but Jimin's right - they're too close for that.

"You're too good to me," Yoongi whispers, his mouth in Jimin's hair, the tears leaking again. Just being in Jimin’s arms again has started to take the edge off the panic. He breathes carefully, closing his eyes and reminding himself like a mantra that it’s okay, that Jimin’s forgiven him, that the time with Hanjae was more than a decade ago and it’s over. Hanjae can’t hurt him anymore.

"Why'd you do it?" At Yoongi's silence, he presses, "Tell me. You owe me that much."

"I just - I panicked."

"Why?"

"I thought about you leaving."

"For the show?"

"Yeah." It's close enough to the truth. Close enough to the unspoken words.

"You were trying to push me away."

"Yeah."

Jimin sighs into his neck. "Four months is a long time."

"It's a long time." With Jimin, four months pass in the blink of an eye. Without him, he knows it'll feel never ending.

"But we'll see each other after," Jimin murmurs, "won't we?"

"Maybe," Yoongi says quietly. "I guess that depends on the outcome."

Jimin's silent for a long while, his fingers tightening in their grip on Yoongi's robe. He's quiet like he's thinking through the possibilities, like he's finally realizing that maybe they won't see each other when it's over, after all. "Yeah," he finally says. "I guess it does."

"We have a week."

"We can make the best of it."

Yoongi's distantly aware that something in their conversation has crossed the line they've drawn so carefully between them. It's not the first time, either, but perhaps he's more aware of it now that he's trying so hard not to reveal himself. He doesn't want to question it. Doesn't want to prod and ruin what they have.

"We'll make the best of it," Yoongi agrees, and tightens his hold on Jimin like he never has to let go for one night at least.

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi bends over the toilet with his hands tight on the rim, his stomach seizing up painfully as he retches into the bowl. Jimin's hands are a cool comfort, one resting on his hot forehead and the other rubbing his back. Sweat beads on his temples. The pain ceases, and he pants as he tries to catch his breath, the harsh air he draws in drying his lips even further. Only after a moment does he finally feel safe enough to pull away, letting Jimin pull him against his chest.

"Done?" Jimin asks, running gentle fingers through his hair. He nods.

Jimin helps him to the sink so he can splash his face and brush his teeth, then takes him to bed despite his insistence that he's all right. He brings him a glass of cold water and sits by his side while he drinks it all.

"Think I ate too much at dinner," Yoongi finally mumbles, leaning back against the headboard and closing his eyes.

He can feel Jimin's hand rubbing his leg. "Probably shouldn't have had the dessert. The meal was heavy enough on its own."

"Yeah."

He feels the bed shift and cracks an eye open to watch Jimin crawl around to his side of the bed, tucking himself under the covers and curling into Yoongi's side. "Hyung, when are you gonna stop?"

His voice is quiet, worried, and it makes Yoongi's stomach twist. "Jimin - "

"Don't. Don't get mad at me. I'm serious."

"I haven't done anything since we smoked together."

"That's because we're on vacation. Because you're not working."

"I can't - I can't do anything if I don't get high, Jiminie. You know that."

"You can. You just think you can't."

"That's not true." He repeats the words he'd said to Minwoo like a mantra, like a shield against his own doubt. "I can't work if I'm too depressed to get out of bed. I can't work if I can't sleep and I can't work if I sleep too much. I need it, Jimin. I need them to keep going. To make it to the top."

"When is it far enough?" Jimin presses. "When have you made it far enough?"

He's never thought about that, not really. He has an image in mind, a vague one, where everyone knows his name and he has enough money for a Bugatti and a house so big he doesn't know what to do with it. An image where he's rolling in the success of the music he's poured his blood, sweat, and tears into. He doesn't know how long it'll take to get there. Or if he'll ever get there.

A tiny, frightened part of him wonders if maybe he'll get there and realize it's still not enough. That it's never enough.

"I dunno," he murmurs. "Maybe I'll die first."

Jimin’s brother texts him late morning on the first day of Chuseok to let him know that they’re on their way home from the graveyard. By then, Yoongi and Jimin are dressed and ready, and they leave as soon as he sends them the okay. Yoongi’s a little nervous. He wouldn’t know, but it feels rather like he imagines meeting your boyfriend’s parents would.

Even if it’s really nothing like that at all.

They drive well outside the city to the small district where Jimin grew up. It’s near the mountains, and the drive there is lovely. Jimin doesn’t speak much on the way; it must be strange returning to his hometown even if he does it every year. Yoongi knows he’d hate going back home.

The graveyard is in the mountains, a grassy, secluded spot, and Jimin leads them there with sure steps. His grandparents are buried next to each other, two large mounds, and they’ve already been cleared of weeds by Jimin’s family. They pay their respects, leaving the food they brought in a picnic basket alongside what his family has already left. For a little while they stay, Yoongi standing a few steps behind Jimin to give him his privacy.

When Jimin’s ready, they grab the basket and head back to the car.

Jimin’s fidgety, playing with his hands and staring resolutely at his feet. Yoongi wants to ask him if he’s all right, but he doesn’t know if he should, so he keeps his mouth shut. He’s reversing back onto the road when Jimin finally blurts, “Want me to show you around town?”

Yoongi glances at him. “You even remember the town enough to give me a tour?”

He shrugs. “I want to see if I do.”

He hasn’t visited his hometown aside from the graveyard since he left; Yoongi has garnered that much from their conversations. He wonders what’s different about today then considers that maybe it’s him.

Sometimes it’s easier to do the things you’re afraid of when you aren’t alone.

Yoongi drives them through town aimlessly, waiting for Jimin to direct him. He doesn’t; he leans against the car door and stares out the window in silence. It isn’t until they turn onto a street of little shops that Jimin finally stirs.

“We used to go there all the time,” he says, pointing to the cafe on the corner. “They had the best hot chocolate.”

“You want to stop there?”

He shakes his head. “I don’t really like hot chocolate anymore.”

Yoongi resists pointing out that he could get something else; he understands that it’s not the hot chocolate Jimin’s worried about.

“I think,” Jimin starts, brow furrowed in concentration, “I think if you take a right down there and keep straight we’ll pass my old school.”

Yoongi wonders if the teacher who caught him with a boy behind the bleachers still works there. Wonders if she’s moved on with her life like nothing happened after shifting the path of Jimin’s future forever. He turns onto the road Jimin points out; the school isn’t where he thought, but they take a few more turns and stumble upon it eventually. It’s empty for Chuseok. Yoongi idles the car out front and watches Jimin watch the building.

“Strange,” Jimin says after a long, quiet moment. “This place changed everything.”

Yoongi lets him ponder, waiting patiently, but Jimin doesn’t say anything else. Eventually he sits back and gestures for Yoongi to keep driving.

“We should stop for food now,” Jimin suggests.

“Is there anywhere else you want to see?”

“I didn’t want to see anything. Not really.”

Yoongi understands. He didn’t want to see anything; he just needed to. “I don’t think any of the restaurants around here are open today.”

“The hotel restaurant was doing a special meal for Chuseok. I saw a sign when we were leaving.”

“Should we head back then?”

Jimin only hesitates for a second. “Yeah,” he says, and he sounds firm. He slumps back in his seat and crosses his arms over his chest. “Fuck this place,” he mutters. He doesn’t look out the window again.

Yoongi hasn’t had a traditional Chuseok meal since he lived with his mother, but the hotel restaurant does a surprisingly nice job of serving all the right foods. It’s not the same as a family meal, of course, but Yoongi’s never thought much of family. He prefers this: hot food on the table with no effort on his part, Jimin sitting across from him with his chin in hand and his hair falling in his eyes. This is much better than any Chuseok he’d ever spent with his mother.

Even so, a tiny part of him still misses her.

“I spent Chuseok with Chungha’s family last year,” Jimin tells him as they eat, the color steadily returning to his cheeks. “They were pretty shitty for a while, didn’t want her to be an idol. But they warmed up eventually. Now they’re really supportive.”

“That’s good to hear.” At least someone they know has a family worth two shits.

“We kept trying to explain to her grandmother that I wasn’t her boyfriend, but she wouldn’t believe it.” Jimin snorts at the memory.

“Why did you want to spend Chuseok with me?” The words leave him unbidden. Jimin pauses, gaze flickering to meet his. “I mean - you could have been with her again. Sounds nicer than this.”

“I dunno,” he murmurs. “Because you’re alone like me.”

There’s a certain kinship that comes with being sans family on a holiday that’s all about family. Yoongi nods, returning to his food with a lump in his throat.

“And because I’m leaving.”

Jimin looks away, fingers tight around his glass of wine. He’s leaving, and this is all they have left. Every day that passes makes Yoongi more acutely aware of how little time remains. He clears his throat and tries to ignore the way his eyes burn.

“Thank you for coming with me,” Jimin says after a quiet moment, “to visit my grandparents. It’s not easy going alone.”

Yoongi shrugs a careless shoulder. “I know. You don’t have to thank me.”

“Last year, I ran into my cousin.” He traces the rim of his wine glass absently, his gaze distant. “She was so shocked that I was still a trainee. ‘Haven’t you given up yet? Don’t you have a backup plan?’” He laughs rather bitterly.

“They don’t get it,” Yoongi murmurs. “No one knows what it’s like.”

He inclines his head in acknowledgement. “They don’t.”

"It's good of you to visit them every year. Admirable."

"Hardly. It's my duty, even if my parents don't think I'm part of the family anymore."

"Still. I can't imagine going back to my hometown, and you come every year. That's brave."

Jimin smiles. It's bright in the dim hotel restaurant, and Yoongi can't look away. "Thanks, hyung."

Jimin refills Yoongi's empty glass with wine, and Yoongi obligingly takes a sip.

"Are you ever going to visit your mother?"

The question takes him off guard. He rests his glass down carefully. "Why?"

"I'm sorry for prying. I was just wondering. You haven't, have you?"

"Visited her?" He slumps in his seat. There's still food on his plate, but his stomach has started to roll with nausea, and after the other day he knows not to push it. "No. Never."

"Is she buried in Daegu?"

He shakes his head. "Her ashes are in a columbarium in Seoul."

"Maybe it would be good for you," Jimin prods, the tone of his voice designed to be gentle, like he's afraid of upsetting him. "Like closure."

He shrugs.

"I'd go with you if you ever wanted to. I know it's hard alone."

He considers it. For a moment, he actually considers it. If he were to go with anyone, he'd want to go with Jimin. Maybe if he visited his mother her ghost would stop haunting his apartment, stop hovering in the dark recesses of his mind to emerge when he's at his most vulnerable. If he visited her, the guilt that swarms over his consciousness like an ever-present cloud of smog would begin to fade away.

Or maybe not.

"Thanks," he says, "for offering. But I don't think I want to visit her."

He's not sure he ever will.

Jimin wants to get trashed.

"Sorry," he says without sounding the least bit apologetic, "but you're gonna have to take care of me."

It's their last night in Busan. They leave in the morning, and the day after, Jimin starts his show. Yoongi can understand why he wants to take what's probably the last opportunity he'll have in a while to let loose.

He teases him anyway. "But what if I wanted to get trashed, too? Inconsiderate."

Jimin's relentless. "Too bad." He sticks his tongue out at him across the table of the little restaurant they've stopped in for lunch. Yoongi flings his napkin at him. "I'm your responsibility tonight."

That night, Jimin downs shots like a pro, one after the other standing at the table they've commandeered. Since it's Saturday, the rooftop is packed and lively. People have gathered over by the speakers to form a mini dance floor, drinks in hand as they sway their hips and press against each other. Yoongi watches the flush spread along Jimin's cheeks as he drinks, his own cider tucked between his cupped hands.

"If you vomit on me, you're sleeping in the hallway."

Jimin's already tipsy, smacking his lips and giggling. "You'd never make me sleep in the hallway."

"Watch me."

"You're full of shit, Min Yoongi."

"Hey - " He moves around the table to berate him for dropping the 'hyung,' but Jimin slips out of his grasp, giggling.

"I'm gonna go dance," he says, walking backwards and nearly bumping into a pair of women. "I know you don't dance so I'm un-including you before you can reject me."

"That's not a word," Yoongi calls after him, but he breaks off into a laugh. Watching Jimin saunter away toward the dancers, he finds that it's not as difficult as he'd expected to forget that after tomorrow everything's going to change.

For a little while, he's happy in the moment.

Jimin's dancing is what caught Yoongi's attention in the first place, and it's easy to remember why when he watches Jimin twist his body to the beat of the music. A part of him regrets that he's seen him dance so little, especially when it's clear how much it matters to him. He'll be able to see him dance all the time when he’s on TV. It won't be the same.

Yoongi sips his cider, and Jimin dances; at some point his phone buzzes with a call from Donghyuk that he slips into the hallway before the elevators to take. The others have been buzzing him all day with updates and song samples and god-knows-what, and though he's tried his best to keep himself work-free per Jimin's request, sometimes he slips up. When Jimin's napping, or in the middle of the night when a sudden thought wakes him up and has him pulling open his laptop urgently. It's hard to take a vacation when he's done nothing but work for so many years. Plus, with the tour in the works, there’s always something new to look after.

He hasn’t told Jimin about the tour yet. Sharing his happiness with Jimin has become instinctual, but this time he’s holding back. This time, he’s too aware that his happiness will only pull them further apart. He’s started to think there’s no point to telling him at all. After tomorrow, who knows what’ll happen anyway.

Jimin finds him in the middle of a phone call that's growing steadily more heated. He's clearly had more shots in between then and now because he's stumbling, cheeks flushed and forehead sweaty from dancing. His pretty red mouth curves into a frown at the sight of Yoongi on the call, and he falls against him, tugging on his wrist. Yoongi curls an arm around his waist, the annoyance that had begun to build slipping away already.

"I'll talk to you later, yeah?" is all he says before he hangs up.

"Let's go for a walk," Jimin says, and Yoongi can hear how drunk he is already. "I'm bored of this place."

"Fickle," Yoongi teases, leading him over to the elevator button with a firm arm around his waist. "Can you even walk like this?"

"I'm not even drunk yet."

Yoongi rolls his eyes, tugging Jimin into the elevator after him. "It's kinda late for a walk, Jiminie."

"Nuh-uh." Jimin leans into his side, pulling the most dramatic pout Yoongi's ever seen him manage. "Please. Pretty please."

It only takes another moment of Jimin whining - please do this for Jiminie, hyung, please - for Yoongi to give in with an exasperated sigh. He doesn't fancy the idea of dragging a drunk Jimin around the city at midnight, but it's their last night. He doesn't want it to end so soon. They leave the hotel and head down the city block. Jimin pulls out of Yoongi's hold to take off his coat, warm from the alcohol even though it's chilly out, and skips a few feet ahead of him. Yoongi watches his feet a little nervously, sure he'll trip over something at any moment.

"You should have gotten drunk, too," Jimin calls over his shoulder, stumbling as he does. Yoongi catches up, reaching for his elbow to steady him.

"Thought I was supposed to look after you."

Jimin considers, then shrugs. "I can look after myself."

"If I close my eyes for a second, you'll probably be sprawled on the pavement with your mouth open and drooling."

"Will not!" he shouts, swatting at Yoongi's arm. "Asshole."

There aren’t many people around so late, even though it's Saturday, aside from a few drunk stragglers like them. Yoongi pulls Jimin in and kisses the side of his head.

"You're the one who's soft," Jimin says, leaning into the kiss like a kitten getting his ears scratched. "Were you always such a big softie?"

"I'm not."

"When'd you get so soft?" Jimin returns to walking a few steps ahead of him, a bounce in his step, his fluffy hair jostling with each one. "You weren't always like this. You should stop."

"You want me to be mean?"

"It's confusing."

"Why's that?"

"Look!" Jimin suddenly exclaims, pointing at the end of the block they'd just turned onto. A tiny park with a swing set and a rickety-looking slide sits nestled between two buildings. Yoongi follows Jimin toward the swings and yanks him to a stop by the back of his coat before he can hop onto one of them.

"No way," Yoongi admonishes, tugging him away despite Jimin's whines. "There's no way I'm letting you on a swing when you're this trashed."

"You're so boring ."

"You're my responsibility tonight," Yoongi mimics Jimin's earlier words, pitching his tone exaggeratedly high. Jimin tugs away with a huff and marches toward the slide instead.

When Yoongi doesn't move to follow, he turns back and raises his eyebrow. "Well, are you coming or not?"

"You're kidding."

"You're not gonna let me slide on it alone, so you better get over here."

He rolls his eyes again but walks toward him anyway, following him up the steps to the top of the plastic slide. "Get out of the way." He maneuvers Jimin aside so he can sit down first, legs spread, and pats his lap.

"I see," Jimin says knowingly. "This was all a ploy to get me to sit in your lap."

"This was your idea." Yoongi laughs incredulously, beckoning for Jimin to hurry.

Jimin just shakes his head and clucks his tongue. "You could have just asked, you know."

"Sit down already, you ass."

Jimin bumps around a little in his effort to plop down on Yoongi's lap; the slide isn't big enough for two grown men at the same time, but they squeeze themselves on it anyway. Jimin nearly topples over the edge in the process, and Yoongi has to grab his wrist and tug him down before he does. He settles between his legs, leaning back into his chest, and taps Yoongi's thigh.

"Okay," he says, "let's go!"

"This is not gonna work."

Yoongi grabs the sides of the slide, pulling to gain momentum. It's one of those slides that twists and turns, and they're too heavy to make it past the first curve. They skid to a stop just inside the turn, and Jimin bursts into laughter.

"I told you it wouldn't work," Yoongi complains, but he's laughing, too.

"You didn't push hard enough."

"You're just too heavy."

"Push again!"

With much difficulty, amid squeaking shoes dragging against the old plastic and frequent shifting and complaining, they slide all the way to the bottom. When they reach the edge, they plant their feet on the ground and stay there.

Jimin can't stop laughing. "That was fun," he says, leaning back into Yoongi's chest and resting his head on his shoulder.

Yoongi tugs him in tightly and kisses the back of his head. "Yeah."

Jimin's laughter fades off into quiet giggles, and eventually those stop, too. He turns his face into Yoongi's neck, his warm breath tickling Yoongi's skin. They're quiet, relishing in the beauty of the night. There aren't any clouds covering the moon tonight, though the city lights drown out the stars. It's chilly, but it's the gentle kind of chilly, where the cold reddens your cheeks and nips at your nose but doesn't drive you into hiding. It's comfortable.

"I think I'm in love with you."

Jimin's voice comes soft and quiet. The night around them stills, and Yoongi can't breathe.

"You're really drunk, huh?" The words come out choked. He forces a laugh. It sounds awkward, stilted, and suddenly Jimin's weight in his lap feels uncomfortable.

"I knew you'd say that," Jimin mumbles. He stands abruptly, nearly trips over his own feet, then spins around to face him. "Knew you'd say some shit like that."

He heads off to the park fence, and Yoongi's left watching him sway back toward the road they came from. He feels oddly distant, like he's on the edge of disassociating. Like he can hear his heart thudding and feel his stomach clench from afar, like he's slipping out of his body.

"It's okay," Jimin calls over his shoulder, the sloppy, drunk smile back on his face. "You don't have to love me back. It's okay. I guess it doesn't matter now anyway."

"Jimin," he says, and his voice sounds distant to his ears, too. He's on his feet and following Jimin in a second. "Jimin, wait."

Jimin slows down just enough so he can catch up, shoving his hands in his pockets and whistling as he marches down the road. Yoongi matches his pace, staring at him unabashedly.

"Did you mean that?" he demands. "Are you just fucking with me?"

Jimin's expression shifts. He looks offended. He stops, tugging Yoongi to a halt, too. "Jiminie," he slurs, jabbing a finger into Yoongi's chest, "doesn't lie ."

Yoongi takes his wrists in his own, holding him still. "Jimin, look at me. You mean that?"

"It's okay," Jimin repeats, nodding as if to confirm his own words. "I already know you don't love me back so it's okay."

He tries to tug his wrists out of Yoongi's grasp, but Yoongi tightens his hold, yanking him back to face him. "Jimin," he breathes, his eyes locked on Jimin's hazy ones. He lets him go. Takes his face in his hands, cold from the nighttime air. "Jimin. You have no idea."

Jimin's eyes are wide in that way Yoongi had found so endearing the first time they met.

"You think you're in love with me?" Yoongi laughs a little, quiet and disbelieving. "I know I'm in love with you."

Jimin stares at him and suddenly Yoongi feels like he can't breathe, like his insides are shriveling up and suffocating him. It's finally out in the open. He's finally said it.

He starts to pull away, drowning in the moment; it's too much, Jimin's words and his own and the unsaid truth of what'll happen after tomorrow. This time, Jimin's the one who holds on. He grabs his wrists and holds on tight and stares at him with those big, surprised eyes.

"You mean it?" Jimin echoes, his lip wobbling. "You're not lying, are you?"

"Why would I lie?" Yoongi breathes, frozen stiff, eyes locked on Jimin's. Waiting.

"You're such a - a jackhole!" He shouts, his little hand curling into a fist to smack against Yoongi's chest.

Yoongi gapes at him, mouth wide, stuck on whether he should wonder where the sudden anger's come from or the fact that he just created a new insult. "What?"

"You could have told me." Jimin curls his other hand into a fist, too, and pounds on his chest. Yoongi tries to catch him, backing up a few steps, but Jimin only follows. His face is turning red. "I've been upset for months , you asshat - "

"Well, you didn't tell me either," Yoongi splutters, grabbing Jimin's wrists to stop him. He only wiggles out of his grasp, fuming. "I've been agonizing for months, too - "

"Knew you were a whole dick," Jimin seethes, stomping his foot. It's ridiculous and Yoongi can breathe again if only because Jimin's so absurd when he's drunk. "You pour your milk before your cereal, who even does that?"

"Since when was it my job to confess, you could have said something, too - "

Jimin's lip starts to wobble again. His nose scrunches up, brow furrowing, and his face reddens further. "You mean it, right? You really mean it?"

Yoongi doesn't hesitate. "I mean it."

"Me, too," Jimin says, then he starts to cry.

"Jimin," Yoongi holds his hands up to placate him, panicked. He's hardly seen him cry; he'd take angry Jimin over crying Jimin any day. "Baby, why are you crying - "

Jimin surges into his chest, burying his face against his neck and fisting his hands tight in his coat. Yoongi wraps his arms around him, tugging him in and breathing in the scent of his hair. He's warm, and Yoongi can feel the wet of his tears on his neck. He can breathe again, but he still doesn't know quite how to feel.

"I can't believe it," Jimin mumbles. "I can't believe it."

"Me neither, Jimin-ah." Yoongi's voice comes out choked. There's a lump in his throat. He had never thought, could never had guessed it, not with the way Jimin tried so hard to maintain the distance between them. Not when Jimin's Jimin and Yoongi's Yoongi. Not when he can't imagine anyone loving him the way he is. "How long?"

"Long." Jimin sniffles, burrowing even closer. His voice comes out muffled. "Remember when you bought me those shoes?"

"Yeah, and you avoided me for days?"

"Shut up." He draws a shaky inhale. "It's because I realized I was in love with you."

Yoongi pulls back so he can look at him. "Really?" He hadn't figured it out so soon. Maybe he'd loved him then, too, but he hadn't known it until much later.

"I realized I was in love with you and I panicked. And then fucking - fucking Junho - " He spits the name out like it's poison. "Everyone was asking where they were from and he said - he figured out it was you and said, 'So he's your sugar daddy now?' And then I thought maybe that's what you wanted, and I didn't want that, I didn't - "

His breath hitches. Yoongi pulls him back in, stroking over his hair. "If that's what I wanted, I would have told you."

"I know."

"Why didn't you tell me? Back then, when you knew?"

"Because I didn't want to love you."

A stab of hurt hits him unbidden.

"I know what you're thinking." Jimin hits his chest again, but there's no heart behind it this time. "Stop. I meant it when I said I was afraid of commitment. I didn't want to be in love with you because I was too afraid to do anything about it."

"Me, too," Yoongi mumbles. "Me, too."

Jimin's arms slide under Yoongi's coat to clutch at his waist. He's shivering, suddenly feels rather fragile in Yoongi's arms.

"We should head back," Yoongi says, sighing quietly. "I'll call a taxi."

They sit on the bench in silence, curled against each other, while they wait for the taxi. Jimin doesn't cry again, and Yoongi can't think far beyond the numb thrum of his brain: he loves me, he loves me, he loves me . By the time the taxi arrives, Jimin has dozed off against his shoulder. He rouses him gently and leads him into the car, where Jimin slides into the far seat and leans his head against the window.

The driver puts up the divide between the front and the back, but it doesn't matter. They don't talk, watch the city pass by. The rousing emotion that had come with confessing has begun to fade into the reminder of reality.

"Jimin," Yoongi finally murmurs.

Jimin doesn't lift his head from the window, the city lights playing across his face. "Hmm?"

"It doesn't matter, does it?"

Jimin shifts to look at him, eyes lidded and tired like he might fall asleep again at any second. "What doesn't matter?"

"That we love each other."

He considers; Yoongi can see his brows furrow in thought, his lips quirk downward. "No," he agrees at last. "It doesn't matter."

Tomorrow they'll separate, just as planned, and the explosive confession that filtered into the cold Busan night will be for naught.

When morning comes, they pack in silence save for Jimin's quiet thank you in response to the pills and water Yoongi hands him when he stirs awake. They gather all evidence of their week-long stay from the hotel room and pack it away until there's only the wastebasket and the rumpled bedsheets to remind them the vacation wasn't a dream after all.

When they're lifting their bags into the trunk of Yoongi's car, he finally speaks.

"You remember everything from last night?"

Jimin just nods.

“I meant to tell you.” Yoongi’s voice comes out rough. He clears his throat before continuing. “Me and the crew, we got asked to open for Modus. We’re going on tour.”

The smile Jimin turns on him is genuine even if something akin to pain sits in the crinkles around his eyes. “That’s amazing, hyung. I’m so happy for you.”

Yoongi can tell he means it. Can tell he really, really means it. That’s enough for him. “I might be gone when you finish the show. I don’t - I don’t know where I’ll be.”

Jimin nods. The softness of his smile doesn’t fade. “I’m proud of you. You’re gonna make it.”

“We’re gonna make it,” Yoongi corrects, and after a moment Jimin nods.

“Yeah,” he says.

Then they climb into the car and begin the long drive back to Seoul.

Chapter Text

Kihyun’s phone call rouses Yoongi from a fitful slumber that he hadn’t realized he’d fallen into.

“Where are you? Studio?”

Yoongi grunts his assent and hangs up after Kihyun says he’s on his way. He stumbles to his feet, stretching until his joints pop, his limbs sore and stiff from falling asleep in his studio chair. Rubbing his face, he fishes around the mess on his desk for a cigarette and lighter. He feels groggy and disoriented, his mouth thick with sleep and vision blurry from staring at a computer screen for as many hours as he does.

He’s almost done with his cigarette when Kihyun opens the door. As usual, he doesn’t bother knocking, and his nose wrinkles as soon as he takes a step inside.

“When’s the last time you fucking left this place?”

Yoongi ignores him. He fumbles around for his phone to check for texts from his crew and finds three, all tour details from Donghyuk. And, as it’s become second-nature to him, he finds himself typing in XList to Naver for anything new.

“Have you even eaten?” Kihyun leans by him to sweep the empty beer cans littering his desk into the trash can.

“A bit,” Yoongi mutters, locking phone and tossing it back onto his desk. Nothing new.

“Are you high?” Kihyun peers at him closely, squinting, and Yoongi shoves him away.

“No.”

It isn’t a lie. He was high before he fell asleep, but by now it’s mostly worn off.

Kihyun sighs, settling down on the couch on the other side of the studio. “Some hip-hop magazine wants an interview.”

Running a hand through his hair, coarse from stress, Yoongi slumps in his seat and stares back at Kihyun with dead eyes. “Is it worth it?”

He shrugs. “They’re not really that big. You could probably skip out if you wanted to. But I think it would be a good idea to take it - the more exposure, the better. You can hype up the tour.”

“Fine. Schedule it, then.”

Kihyun whips his phone out in a moment, typing out what’s most likely an email with his lightning fingers. Yoongi lights another cigarette. When Kihyun’s done, he looks up and scrutinizes Yoongi with a gaze that makes him shift from discomfort. “You doing okay?”

Yoongi takes a long drag of his cigarette, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. He could probably fall asleep again if he let himself. He knows what Kihyun’s really asking; he’s been asking the same thing in so many words for days.

The thing about loneliness is that you grow accustomed to it over time.

Yoongi has always seen loneliness as his companion from the cradle to the grave, not by choice at first but later a deliberate friend.  The year where he lost his mother and left his crew was when he decided that he was better off alone, that he preferred it. He would make it to the top with no one by his side if that was what it took. By then, he'd grown accustomed to the feeling of being abandoned.

But the thing about loneliness is that it doesn’t take long to break the habit.

After months of Jimin's presence, the sudden lack of it suffocates him. Decades of loneliness living like a permanent ache in his bones become nothing in the face of this new intensity. So he does what he always does: he lets work fill the emptiness.

“I’m fine,” Yoongi finally says, and they both know it’s a lie.

Kihyun cleans up a bit around his studio, extracts a promise that he’ll eat the food he brings him later, then leaves after talking through more schedule notes. Yoongi puts out his cigarette and heads to the building’s restroom when he’s gone, grabbing the bottle of shampoo he keeps in his studio on the way. No one’s there, thankfully, so he ducks his head under the ice cold water streaming from the little sink and lets it run over his scalp until he starts to shiver. Then he scrubs in some shampoo, rinses it out, and straightens, splashing drops across the mirror. He leans against the counter, staring at his flushed face, and wonders how Kihyun had gone so easy on him when he looks like this much of a mess.

He’s trying to be less of a mess. He’s trying to be okay with Jimin’s absence because he’s always been okay alone, always been used to it. But he can’t sleep and when he’s lying awake he can hear Jimin’s voice echoing in his head. I think I’m in love with you . And sometimes when he manages to fall asleep he dreams of his laugh and the warmth of his hands in his and sometimes he’ll wake up from those dreams expecting to see Jimin lying by his side, hair mussed and deep in sleep. But he’s never there, and the reminder makes him want to shrivel up and die.

He hates himself for it. He’s slept alone for so many years he’s lost count. He should be able to sleep alone now, too.

His phone buzzes harshly against the hard countertop. He flinches on instinct, even though Hanjae hasn’t texted him since he got his new phone. It’s a number he doesn’t recognize.

hey, yoongi oppa! it’s chungha

Another text follows the first quickly enough.

jimin oppa gave me your number before he left. i hope it’s okay if we talk sometimes, it’d be nice to share the stress of the show with someone who loves jimin too

Someone who loves Jimin too. Yoongi winces.

anyway the company just uploaded teasers for the first three trainees & the third one is jimin!!!!!!!

There’s a link attached. Yoongi clicks on it with trembling fingers.

Jimin’s face fills up the screen, and Yoongi’s breath catches. He looks good, great, even, and it takes him a second to consider that of course he does - he’s on camera. He has to look good. His hair’s blonde now, parted across his forehead, and it suits him. His cheeks are flushed and his lips are stretched into a shy smile.

“Hi,” he says, waving to the camera with hands half-covered by his loose sweater. “Um, I’m Park Jimin. I’m twenty-four.” Then he glances behind the camera, biting his lip. “Am I doing this right? I don’t know what to say.”

He bursts into laughter, light giggles that filter through the speaker as he flings his body forward the way he always does when he laughs, his pretty little hand coming up to cover his mouth. God, he’s beautiful. Yoongi sinks to the bathroom floor, leaning back against the cold tile wall.

“Sorry,” he says, still laughing, waving his hands at the camera. “This is so awkward! Can we try again?”

The video cuts out and pieces together his next try.

“Hi, I’m Jimin! Um, I’m twenty-four and I know that’s kind of old but - Director, why are you laughing at me?” He starts laughing even as he says it, and Yoongi can hear the laughter of the crew filtering through the background. Jimin fakes indignance, and the scene cuts out again.

“Hi everyone, my name’s Park Jimin and I’m twenty-four years old. I’m from Busan, and I love dancing. I know I’m kind of old, but everyone tells me I don’t act my age.” He’s smiling so sweetly, bowing to the camera. “I’m going to work really hard to show my best side to all of you. Please take care of me. XList fighting!”

He waves cutely, and the shot’s over, replaced with the show’s logo and website.

Yoongi’s left staring at the next set of recommended videos, motionless. “They’re going to love him,” he whispers with a mix of pride and regret.

Then he tucks his knees into his chest and replays the video.

Yoongi isn't quite sure how he ended up getting high in his car with Minwoo on a hill overlooking the city.

The sequence of events that led to it are a little blurry, but here they are, reclining in their seats, the city lights stretching out before them into the distance. It's late but the city is very much alive, and watching it through the hazy sensation of his oncoming high feels a little surreal.

"Remember that time Namjoon got really drunk and started dragging our couch up to the building's roof?"

Yoongi snorts, taking a drag of his blunt before passing it to Minwoo. "That old lady who used to live down the hall was peeking her head out the door the whole time."

"And he wouldn't even let us help. Said he was gonna do it all by himself."

They're grinning, caught in the memory of a wobbly Namjoon insisting that the couch would look better on the roof, that he wanted to watch the stars in comfort. "Fuckin' idiot."

"And that time we were so desperate for a fix we asked that dude on the corner of the fucking street - "

Yoongi bursts into laughter, slapping his hand against the steering wheel. The smoke's getting to his head. It's nice to laugh. He hasn't been doing much of that lately. "God, we were fucking stupid."

"We're lucky he wasn't a cop."

"He was still pretty weird though."

"Yeah, wasn't he trying to pick us up? Namjoon looked like he was halfway to saying yes - "

Yoongi's laughter fades off. "Yeah," he says thoughtfully, "he was."

"Fuckin' weird."

What the rest of them don't know is that Yoongi had gone back later and taken him up on the offer. There are a lot of things he regrets, looking back at his life, but letting a stranger fuck him in the dark stairwell of a smelly apartment building is one of the bigger ones.

They drift into silence, smoking the blunt down to nothing. With the city lights drowning out the moon and stars, Yoongi considers maybe now's a better time than any other - or maybe that's just the weed talking.

"I'm gay," he says, and the words aren't as hard to say as he'd thought they would be.

He can feel Minwoo shift to look at him, feel his gaze burning into the side of his head. He doesn't meet it, staring out at the city and waiting for something, anything.

"Really?" he finally says, and Yoongi just nods. "Oh."

"Jimin," Yoongi offers. "He's, uh - "

"You're together?"

Together . Yoongi swallows harshly. "Not exactly."

"Did he tell you? About me."

"Yeah." He clears his throat. "Um, he didn't want to for a while. Think he felt bad that we knew each other and I didn't know about you both."

"Right."

"You mad?"

Minwoo hesitates, then, "Nah. I get it. Did he - did he tell you anything else?"

"Just that you and him fucked around for a bit. That's it. Said the rest was yours to tell."

Minwoo's quiet, shifting around to pull out a cigarette before offering Yoongi one, too. Yoongi takes it and lets Minwoo light it for him.

"Wish one of us had said something," he murmurs, "back then."

"Yeah," Yoongi agrees. "Might have made things easier."

"You know," Minwoo says thoughtfully. "I guess I can tell you now. It's been so long."

"Tell me what?"

"I thought Jimin would have told you."

"He doesn't like telling secrets."

"He's an angel," Minwoo laughs, shaking his head fondly. "Always has been."

A surge of bitterness swells at that. Jimin’s his angel: Yoongi’s. "So what's the big secret?"

Minwoo laughs again, and this time when he starts he has trouble stopping. Yoongi has to clap him on the back before he finally wipes away a tear at the corner of his eye and says, "I used to have a crush on you."

Yoongi stiffens, at first wondering if he's misheard, but Minwoo just starts laughing again. It's a little less bright than before. "You serious?"

"Maybe a bit more than a crush."

"Oh."

You left me . Yoongi had wondered if there was more to it; he'd wondered, if only briefly. He hadn't really thought he'd be right.

"Used to talk to Jiminie about it."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Fucking weird, isn't it, how everything worked out?"

"Small world."

"Sure is."

"You thought I was straight, that's why you didn't say anything, right?"

"Yeah."

"No offense, but you're an idiot." Yoongi laughs dryly, shaking his head. "Honestly, I was never that good at hiding it."

"Now that I look back on it, yeah, you fucking weren't. I dunno, I was so convinced everyone was straight back then except me that I didn't bother looking for anything else."

"You were better at hiding it than me."

"Yeah, well, I tried pretty hard."

"What about now? Still trying hard?"

Minwoo shrugs a shoulder. "It's habit now."

"Yeah. Me, too." He pauses, considering. “You’re over it now, right? The crush?”

“I hated you for too long to not be over it,” Minwoo snorts.

The instant relief has him feeling a little guilty. “Fair enough.”

He sighs, straightening his seat and gesturing to Yoongi to start the car. "We should head back. Still got work to do."

"Work, work," Yoongi mutters. "Always work."

He starts the engine and pulls back onto the road.

Like he finds himself often these days, Yoongi wakes up from a nap not realizing when he'd fallen asleep. He's stretched over his keyboard, arms and neck stiff, open on a word document with three pages of gibberish letters smashed by his cheek. There's a bit of dry drool on his chin that he's in the middle of rubbing away when he realizes what's woken him: his phone's ringing.

He doesn't recognize the number. He hates picking up phone calls from numbers he doesn't recognize, gives him anxiety, but in his line of work he knows it's better to answer than not. So he clears his throat and answers.

"Hello?"

"Hi, hyung." It's Jimin's perky voice that answers. Before Yoongi can do much more than sit up in shock, Jimin hurries to say, "You're on camera, hyung, don't curse."

He laughs a little when he says it, and Yoongi has enough of a presence of mind to manage a chuckle in return. There are a million things he wants to say, wants to ask, but he filters through them carefully before asking, "You eating okay?"

"Of course that's the first thing you ask." He can hear the smile in Jimin's voice. "I'm eating fine, they're giving us so much food. I already know you aren't though."

"I'm eating plenty," he mutters, running a hand over his face. He can't help the smile the stretches his lips. It's nice to hear his voice.

"Did I wake you up? Your voice sounds heavy."

"Fell asleep at my desk. You did me a favor."

"Hyung," Jimin admonishes.

"So you're allowed phone calls?"

"Today's a special day, so they let us have one."

"One phone call and you picked me?" It's out of his mouth before he can reconsider it.

Jimin laughs. "You don't sound that happy."

"I didn't mean it like that - "

"I know, I know. I'm just teasing you."

"How is everything? What have you been doing? Is anyone giving you trouble? When are they airing the first - "

"Slow down, hyung," Jimin giggles. "I think they're going to announce the air date soon. You'll find out what I'm doing when you watch the episode."

"Can't you tell me a bit?"

"No spoilers."

"Brat," he says fondly. "How are you, Jiminie? At least tell me that much."

"I'm okay." His voice grows a little quieter. "It's hard, hyung."

Yoongi's heart aches. He wishes he could pull Jimin into his arms and kiss his hair. He can't tell him it'll be all right because he knows it won't, knows he's going to have to suffer. But he could be there. "I know, baby."

He flinches as soon as he says it. It's not too strange, he's older after all, but people are ruthless. He doesn't want anyone to have a reason to talk shit about Jimin.

Jimin takes it in stride. "They want us to compose a song. You know I'm no good at composing."

"Come on, Jiminie, all that time you spent observing me in the studio has to be worth something."

"I know," Jimin sighs.

"You can do it. You're getting nervous and that's making it harder. Don't be nervous."

"That's easier said than done."

"I know it is."

"I'll try," Jimin finally says. "Hyung, you're taking care of yourself, right?"

Yoongi can hear all the hidden meanings in his words. "Don't worry about me."

"Take better care of yourself and I won't."

"I'm doing fine, okay? I mean it."

"Liar." Jimin's voice sounds a little watery.

"Jimin - "

Yoongi hears a woman's voice, muffled in the distance. "I gotta go," Jimin says. "My turn with the phone's over."

"Good luck, Jimin-ah. You're gonna do fine, okay?"

"Thanks, hyung. Take care."

The call disconnects, and Yoongi sits there with the phone still pressed to his ear for a long moment. He feels so lucky to have gotten a phone call. So, so lucky. He smiles, puts his phone down, and starts to sift around for the mug he stashed in his desk so he can make some coffee and get back to work.

Chapter Text

When Yoongi was ten years old, he caught a cold that wouldn’t go away.

It started with a light fever and a runny nose just like any other. His mother had him drinking yuja tea and dakjuk, but the days turned into weeks and his fever wouldn’t break. He couldn’t sleep, barely ate, stayed home from school to lie in bed wrapped in too many blankets. By the third week, his mother had started to panic.

He was in and out of the hospital for a hazy, dismal month. They did blood work and tests and pumped him full of medicines, but he still woke up sweating with chills in the middle of the night, still got dizzy when he stood for too long. In the beginning, his mother took off work to take care of him, but when it became apparent that whatever it was wasn’t going away, she began to take on extra hours instead.

Even at the time he understood that it was because not knowing what was wrong meant the wrong was something big, and big things usually cost big money. They were lucky that medicines were so cheap, but a serious illness would cost them no matter what.

“I’m sorry,” she’d said one morning. He can’t remember how long it had been by then; the days had started to blur together. She’d come home from the night shift and curled into bed next to him, stroking his hair with fingers that trembled from weariness. “I’m sorry I can’t take care of you.”

They wanted to test for cancer by then; he remembers that quite clearly. “What if I’m really sick?” he’d asked, on the edge of understanding the gravity of his situation but not quite there. He knew but he didn’t know. It’s hard to understand that something might end up killing you.

“Whatever it is, we’ll fight it.” She’d said it with such confidence that he’d felt lighter just upon hearing it. “I’m not going to lose you. You know I’d die if I lost you, right?”

In the end, it turned out to be a rare, strange sort of virus that cropped up only once in a while. It hadn’t killed him. He’d had a fever for an extra month and then he was fine, his young body recovering quickly.

Yoongi’s sipping a cup of lean, the world slowing down around him, when he thinks about the cold that didn’t go away. He realizes, as he watches the beat playing on loop from his computer, that he doesn’t know what day it is. I’d die if I lost you . He can hear her words echoing in his head, on loop like the music. He hadn’t thought she was lying back then, but somewhere over the years he’d decided it was a lie. Or maybe he’d decided that he didn’t care.

Either way, she hadn’t lied. He’d left her, and she’d died.

The thing about loneliness is that when you lose someone who matters, the feeling doesn’t abate. Yoongi keeps thinking he’ll wake up tomorrow and Jimin’s absence will hurt a little less, but it doesn’t. Some days he wakes up and it hurts so bad he goes right back to sleep. He keeps telling himself it’ll get better, but it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t go away.

He’s been wondering, lately, if this is how his mother felt when he left her.

It must have been worse. He knows it was worse; it killed her. He killed her. He realizes his phone’s buzzing, but he goes on sipping his drink and pondering exactly how shitty it is that his absence killed her but he still kept going, still kept running, even without her. It was his decision, after all. He doesn’t really have the right to hurt.

But then he thinks about all the different ways he’s been hurting over the years and maybe it isn’t so simple. Maybe he’s been punishing himself all this time.

He grabs his phone, blinking through the blurriness until his vision clears enough to read the text message.

it’s yeseul from modus! your assistant gave me your number, was wondering if you wanted to meet up for coffee and talk music? really liked your mixtape x

Yeseul from Modus wants to talk to music, maybe wants to collab - one of the most popular rappers of his lifetime, someone he’s admired for years. She wants to meet him . It’s no small thing. His heartbeat stutters with the shock of it, but it takes him a few moments to realize the expected rush of happiness doesn’t come.

He just feels numb.

Despite the perfectly good couch stretching across his living room, Yoongi and Chungha are sitting on the floor. They’re in lounge clothes with the boxes of chicken and cans of beer Yoongi had ordered ahead of time spread around them. Even though there are a good five minutes until the show starts, they’ve switched the TV on to the last bits of the drama that plays in the time slot beforehand.

“I’ve caught glimpses of him around the company,” Chungha’s telling him. “They keep kicking us out of the practice rooms when they come in and film out of nowhere. The boys are getting precedence on room usage. I’ve hardly had time to practice.”

“You can use my studio if you ever want to, for vocals at least. Can’t help you with dance.”

“Really?” She turns a surprised gaze on him, a piece of chicken halfway to her mouth. “You’d be okay with that?”

“I mean, I’m always in there, so you’d have to deal with me. But yeah, I don’t care.”

“Thank you.”

She seems genuinely touched. Yoongi shrugs it off. “How’s he look when you’ve seen him?”

“Stressed, of course. They moved all the boys temporarily to a new apartment for the filming. I heard it’s only two bunk beds a room which is pretty nice.”

“Better than his current place.”

“You bet. Think they wanna show a good face on camera. The company, I mean.”

Yoongi snorts. “Of course they do.”

“I’m willing to bet you 50 won they’re going to stir up some drama first episode.”

“I’ll give you the money now. There’s no doubt about it.”

“Bet Junho will be involved.”

Yoongi’s lip curls. “If that brat gives Jimin any trouble I’ll - ”

Chungha cuts him off with an amused glance. “You’ll what?”

“Write ugly comments about him under the video,” he mutters, slouching back against the base of the couch. There’s really nothing he can do.

“He deserves it. He tried to blackmail one of the other trainees, you know.”

“You’re kidding.”

“He caught her with her boyfriend and threatened to tell the company if she didn’t do all this stupid shit for him, like give up her practice room time to him and fetch him coffee when he asked.”

“So what happened?”

“She told him to fuck off.  She wasn’t in very good standing with the company, so she might have gotten kicked out if he ratted her out. She took the risk anyway. He told on her, and the company just reprimanded her a bit.”

“Lucky. Knew he was a little shit, but I didn’t know he was on the blackmailing level.”

“He’s a real piece of work.”

Then the show starts, and a tense silence falls over them.

Like all survival shows, they play up the dramatics, zooming in on distraught faces and cutting the interviews for utmost effect. The first episode is mostly introductions, delving into the circumstances of some of the trainees and moving to group performances at the company's monthly evaluation. Jimin gets a small piece on his past, too, where he tells the camera he doesn't see his parents much anymore.

"They don't support this," he explains, and Yoongi knows him well enough to tell the sadness etched into the set of his mouth isn't forced.

There's another boy who catches Yoongi's attention with his story, too, and because of Chungha's offhand mention that he's a good kid. His large eyes make him look awfully honest compared to everyone else, even Jimin. He's younger, and Yoongi can see clearly the youth, the innocence perhaps, that he exudes.

"I've been in Seoul since I was 13," he tells them. "It's hard. I think I know the trainee hyungs better than I know my actual hyung."

There's a very clear divide between the trainees when it comes to performances. They're split into two teams for dance, then there's a team of vocalists and a team of rappers. Jimin's dance group performs to Tinashe's "Company," apparently to their original choreography, and Jimin kills it. His body rolls make Yoongi's mouth water. Then there's the other dance group, made up disproportionately of rappers, who dance to Desiigner's "Panda." It's a performance full of snapbacks and posturing, and the small part of Yoongi that's still a little arrogant scoffs at the wannabe tough guys.

Jimin's vocal team sings a song he doesn’t know, and it's beautiful. It's the first time Yoongi has ever heard him sing. By the end of it, he has tears in his eyes, fingers clenching the hem of his t-shirt, trying desperately to blink them away before Chungha notices. He can hear Jimin's voice in his head - you're just biased, hyung - but he really thinks Jimin's singing is perfect.

They end the show with a question for the trainees: what does your dream mean to you ? Jimin's answer is soft, thoughtful, his eyes cast off-camera as he considers it. When he glances back up, Yoongi's heart clenches. For a painful second, he can imagine Jimin's looking at him. "If I don't have my dream, I don't have anything," he says, an echo of the words he'd said to Yoongi what feels like an eternity ago.

The show ends, and Yoongi's left with a hollowness inside him that feels almost suffocating. He reaches for the remote, but Chungha stops him.

"Next episode preview," she reminds him, and she's right.

Underneath the rolling credits, a preview pops up for next week's episode. There are hints of the boys moving into the new dorm, noisy sirens waking them up the next day. Jimin stumbles out of bed asking what's going on with his lips swollen and cheeks red.

"My sweatshirt," Yoongi blurs, and Chungha glances at him. "He's wearing my sweatshirt."

The oversized hoodie hangs from his shoulders, hood tugged over his messy hair. Yoongi would know it anywhere. He's had it for years, can remember the exact day when Jimin had decided it was his after wearing it every time he came over.

"So now you're stealing my stuff?" Yoongi had joked.

"This one's mine now, sorry," he'd said, not sounding sorry in the least.

Yoongi wonders if he'd worn it on purpose, knowing Yoongi would be watching. The preview clip shows a hint of one of the boys crying on the phone with his mother, and then it's over. He deflates, hardly having realized how tense he'd grown throughout the show. It looks hard. The judges don't seem kind. He's going to struggle.

Chungha's already pulling up comments. "Someone just said ' Jimin oppa can hip thrust right into my life .'" Yoongi snorts, and she laughs. "You're gonna get jealous reading these. There are so many about Jimin already."

"Of course there are," he says, pride swelling in his chest.

Jimin's going to do well. He knows it. In the beat of his heart, the flow of his blood, the marrow of his bones, he knows Jimin will succeed.

And just as surely, he knows that every bout of success will only take them further away from each other.

He misses him.

He misses him, he misses him, he misses him. It hurts to breathe and it hurts to feel and what kind of mistake did he make, falling in love? They always said falling in love was a detriment, that falling in love hurt, and now he understands. He's so fucking sad he can't get out of bed, but like always he has work to do, places to go. They're rehearsing for a stage with Modus, and he can't miss it under any circumstances.

So does what he always does when he's too sad to work: he gets high.

After that, it's easy. He's active and excited and makes it through the day like it's nothing, feels like he's on top of the world until he crashes come nightfall and returns to a motionless state with his blanket tucked tight over his head. The sadness is always worse when he’s coming down. He knew it would be that way, but still he had no choice; he had to make it through the day.

A part of him understands now, how the loneliness, the sadness, had killed his mother. He feels like he's dying, too.

Kihyun finds him like that, annoyed that he isn't picking up his calls.

"You better have been busy," he's saying, and his voice hurts Yoongi's head. Then he pauses, realization dawning on him, and he yanks the covers off his head without mercy. "Yoongi." He draws it out, disappointment clear in his tone, and Yoongi knows he's about to get lectured.

"Leave me alone."

"Yesterday, you told me you hadn't done anything but weed for a week."

"I hadn't."

"What the fuck did you do today then, huh?"

In all the years they've known each other, Yoongi has never heard Kihyun sound so mad. "Kihyun - "

"What did you do?" he demands.

Yoongi sets his jaw stubbornly and looks away.

"You've got to stop. You said you were going to, you told me you would - "

"I never said that."

"You fucking told me - "

"I said I could," Yoongi bites, gaze fixing bitterly on Kihyun's. "I said I could if I wanted to. I didn't say I was going to."

Kihyun scoffs. It's harsh, mocking. "So what? You're just gonna do this 'til you're dead?" He takes a step toward him, hands clenched into fists by his sides. "You're gonna die before you go on tour? Before you drop another tape? Keel over in the middle of a fucking show?"

"You're being dramatic."

"Yeah, 'cause I'm fucking scared. 'Cause I'm worried about your ungrateful ass."

"No one asked you to worry," Yoongi snaps before he can stop himself. "No one fucking asked you to do that so leave me alone."

He can tell he's crossed a line by the way Kihyun's expression closes off, shutters drawn tight. "Fine," he says, his voice considerably cooler than before. "If I'm just an assistant to you, fine. It's still my business. If you're dead, I don't have a job."

"Kihyun."

"You think this is a joke, all of this? You think you can do whatever you want because there aren't any consequences? You think you can just have fun - "

"Fun?" Yoongi growls, finally rising to his feet on wobbly legs. "You think I do this for fun?"

Kihyun deflates, the regret bleeding into his eyes. "I didn't mean that."

"I had to get out of bed , Kihyun. I had to - " He runs a shaky hand through his hair, turning away and then back again. "If I don't do this, I'm going to get nowhere. I'm going to be nobody, fucking no one with nothing - "

His voice breaks. He stops, panting, his fingers trembling and his jaw clenched unwillingly.

"That's not true. There are other ways to feel better. This isn't everything." Kihyun sifts frantically through his pockets, tugging out his wallet and retrieving a business card. "The place the doctor told us about, I've still got the card. I saved it."

"I don't have time for that shit, Kihyun."

"Don't you get it?" Kihyun's voice raises into a shout. "You don't have time at all."

Yoongi wraps his arms around himself so tightly it hurts to breathe.

"You don't have time ," he hisses. "What if one day you take too much trying to get out of bed and that's the end of it - "

"I'm not going to."

"You're not a fucking god, Yoongi!" he shouts. Yoongi flinches away. "You don't know what you're going to do. You don't."

"You're saying that like you know what's going to happen. You can't tell the future either."

"I know I can't. That's why you need to stop. Because we don't know what could happen." When Yoongi doesn't look at him, he says it again. "You need to stop."

"I can't," he snap, and he's horrified, ashamed to realize his eyes are filling with tears that he can't blink away. Lump in his throat, he turns away. "I can't stop."

"Yoongi - " Kihyun reaches for him, but Yoongi yanks his body away, stumbling three steps away.

"I can't stop," he says, his voice choked and desperate. "So just leave me alone. Go away."

"Yoongi, just listen to me. Please."

"If you hate it so much, just fucking quit. I'm not going to change, so just leave me alone."

"Yoongi."

He can hear it in his voice, hear the depths of hurt. "Leave me alone," he cries, and Kihyun finally, finally takes a step back.

He pauses in the door like he's going to say something, but in the end he leaves without another word.

Yoongi sinks to the ground, pressing his palms to his burning eyes in a vain attempt to stop the tears that come out like a flood. He chokes out a sob, curling into himself. He'd always known he'd lose Kihyun. He's too good to him, too good for him. Yoongi has never deserved him. He doesn't deserve anyone. All he's ever had is his dream, and now he's started to doubt even that.

He no longer knows what the point of crawling his way to the top is if success doesn't even make him happy anymore.

Chapter Text

Episodes two, three, and four come and go.

They don’t show Yoongi’s phone call until episode three, and when they do it causes a bit of a ruckus. It’s strange for Yoongi to hear his own voice on the screen, scratchy through the receiver, and to see Jimin’s expressions as he says the words he remembers so clearly. Weeks have passed since he spoke to Jimin; it feels surreal to think about it like that. Now it’s been weeks since he’s spoken to Kihyun, too.

They don’t edit out much of the phone call, given how short it was to begin with. Yoongi calling Jimin “baby” stays, and it makes him flinch when he hears it happen. Jimin’s good at controlling his expression. He doesn’t even react, just goes on pacing across the tiny room they’ve set up for the phone calls. Despite his skill, he can’t hide the fondness. Maybe it’s just that Yoongi knows him, recognizes the soft set of his mouth and the sparkle in his eyes.

He spends half the night after the episode airs scrolling down reactions on his phone, and there are quite a few about them. Jimin’s growing popularity means he’s a hot topic after each episode, though he’s not the most popular. That’s Jungkook, who trends first on Naver after every single episode. Some of the comments are nice enough - aww, he called his friend, that’s so cute ^o^ - and some are not.

our jiminie’s way too soft to be hanging out with a guy like that ㅠ

i heard there are some rumors about him… i don’t trust these rapper types

And then there are the comments that get a little too excited. People picking on the baby , people drawing on the fondness in Yoongi’s tone and the fondness in Jimin’s eyes, netizens latching on to how they seem to care about each other. It’s a little embarrassing reading strangers obsess over the tiny, minute details of their conversation, but Yoongi supposes he should get used to it. Fame means scrutiny.

Still, he feels rather guilty that though most of the episode was spent on Jimin struggling with his original composition and eventually triumphing over the judges’ disapproval, all the comments are about their phone call.

The episodes move on to team battles, where they play games that sort them into random teams. Jimin ends up on a team with Jungkook, the cute kid Yoongi had taken a liking to since his first interview, and Junho, as well as another trainee who's been mostly forgettable so far. Jimin and Junho end up getting in a bit of a spat. Jungkook takes the main vocal part for the song they choose, but both Jimin and Junho want the first subvocal part.

They're civil about it - at least, Jimin is. Junho borders on passive-aggressive. In the end, the team pulls a vote, and Jimin wins. "I didn't want to be greedy," Jimin says in his interview. "I just really liked the part. I thought I should try for it."

The exchange makes Chungha nervous. She and Yoongi don't manage to get together for all the episodes, but they text throughout each of them. Junho's not gonna be happy , she says, and the worry in her message is palpable.

Yoongi can feel the bitterness, the despondency, grow with every passing day. He hates watching Jimin on TV. Hates that he's so far away, hates watching him struggle and hide his tears when he can't do anything to help him. Hates that the only conversation they've had in forever is public, shared by millions. They couldn't have had even that much to themselves.

But most of all, he hates the way the certainty that their distance will only grow becomes surer and surer with each episode that airs.

It isn't the first time Yoongi has sat with his phone in his lap open to Kihyun’s contact, trying and failing to draft a message, and it probably won't be the last.

Hey, it's been awhile .... he deletes it before he can get any further.

I'm sorry , he starts, then backspaces without even waiting a breath.

"Hey," Yoongi blurts. Minwoo grunts from where he's devouring a cup of ramen, squinting at his laptop. "What do you do when you fuck up with someone?"

"You're asking me like I fuck up all the time," Minwoo jokes. Yoongi levels him a withering glare. "I dunno. Say sorry, I guess."

"What if..." Yoongi considers his words carefully. "What if that's not enough?"

Minwoo glances his way. "What did you do?"

"None of your business."

"You're the one asking me for help."

"Yeah, hypothetically."

"At least try," Minwoo says, shrugging a shoulder. "Maybe it is enough."

Yoongi turns back to his phone. Kihyun's absence hurts, an aching pain inside his chest that won't go away no matter how he tries to ignore it. Kihyun's the only person he's had for a long, long time. He's his best friend. Losing him and Jimin in the same span of time is suffocating, made all the worse by the knowledge that Kiyhun's loss is entirely Yoongi's fault. He's the one who pushed him away. He's the one who's too fucked up to keep anyone around.

He types out the words before he can stop himself. I miss you . Then he locks his phone and tosses it away before he can send the message.

Most days, anxiety has Yoongi's fingers trembling over something or another, but it's never been quite like today. Today, Yoongi's hands shake so badly he stuffs them in the pockets of his coat because they've started to draw attention. He clenches them tight into fists, but restraining them only makes his arms tremble instead, the jitters spreading up to his jaw until his teeth clatter.

Namjoon notices, of course, and it's not cold enough to attribute to the weather. He's kind enough not to say anything. He does ask if Yoongi wants to stop for a cigarette on the way, an offer that he refuses on account of delaying the inevitable. The longer it takes to get there, the more the jitters intensify.

Nearly every step he takes comes with the voice inside his head reminding him that he can still turn back if he wants. It would be easy to turn around and go home and pretend he'd never even made this decision, pretend he'd never even thought he could do this when he so obviously can't. It would be easy. But when Yoongi's a breath away from turning around, Namjoon rests a hand on the small of his back. Yoongi keeps walking.

The columbarium isn't busy, though a few people wander around the cement walkways and stairs, dressed for the slight chill. There are numerous sections, marked by golden lettering above the walls of niches, and Yoongi halts at the foot of the stairs leading through the walkways with the sudden realization that he doesn't know where to go. Five years and he hasn't visited once and he doesn't know where to go.

Namjoon seems to notice his turmoil because he puts his hand on his back again and says, "I'll take you to your mom before I go to my sister."

He doesn't trust himself to speak, so he nods stiffly and lets Namjoon lead him along. The columbarium is large, and they climb a few flights of stairs before turning into one of the sections.  Namjoon begins to scan the names on the niches, squinting as he peers closer.

"She should be around here," he mutters.

Yoongi clears his throat, inhaling deeply to fortify himself before he finally breaks the silence he's held since they left Namjoon's studio for the bus stop. "I'll find her on my own. You can go to your sister."

"You sure?" Namjoon glances back at him, head tilted in concern.

"I'm sure. Thanks, Joonie."

Namjoon claps him on the back and heads off to the staircase. Yoongi's left alone, his mother’s section devoid of any other visitors. He stares at the wall of niches for a long moment, trying to regulate his breathing. The niches have names engraved on them, each one with a picture in memorial of the person whose ashes are stored inside. He had forgotten there would be a picture. He hasn't seen his mother's face in five years, and even then it was only a picture. In actuality, he hasn’t seen her in nearly ten.

He realizes his hands are still clenched into tight fists in his pockets and stretches out his fingers. They're so stiff that it hurts. He pulls them out and looks at them turn red as the blood begins to circulate again. Shaking them out, he stuffs them back in his pockets and steps forward to peer at the names on the niches.

It doesn't take him long to find his mother. He runs his trembling fingers along the engraving of her name, whispering it into the air. Min Yiseul . She'd given him her surname since his father abandoned him, and he traces the shared letters a second time. He'd submitted the picture of her himself, so he knows which one it is before he turns his attention to it. Still, it startles him. He catches his breath, blinks rapidly, before he peers closer.

It seems like a lifetime has passed since he saw her face, and it feels at once familiar and strange. He traces his gaze along the crinkles at the corners of her eyes, along the straight, dark hair she'd styled half-up. She's smiling, thin mouth stretched wide. They have the same nose; that's what everyone used to tell him. Just the nose and nothing else. He must take after his father .

Many of the other niches are decorated with handwritten letters and wreaths of flowers. Hers is empty, of course, because there's no one to visit her but him, and he's a terrible excuse for a son. Tugging the sleeve of his coat over his hand, he rubs the door of the niche, clearing it of dust. The columbarium is well-kept, so her niche looks neat even though he's never been there to take care of it.

Abruptly, he feels like a fool. Who shows up to visit someone without flowers? Five years of nothing, and now that he's here he didn't even think to bring her flowers. The other niches look so pretty and loved and cared for and hers is just empty. Namjoon hadn't brought flowers, either, but Namjoon visits his sister so often that the flowers from the last time he visited are probably still hanging fresh from her niche. Yoongi should have done something, anything, as if it could make up for all the years of neglect - there’d even been a woman selling bouquets across the street -

He only realizes he's crying when the first sob tears from his throat, and he touches his cheeks to find them wet. He should have brought her flowers. The next sob makes his shoulders shake, and the third convulses painfully through his body. Once they start, they don't stop. He leans against the wall, sobs wracking him as he claps a hand over his mouth to muffle them.

It must have been so lonely. It must have hurt so badly, must have torn her apart from the inside, must have suffocated her until one day her body finally gave out. She must have been hurting so badly while he was off chasing a dream that wasn't even coming to fruition, spiraling deeper and deeper into a hole of self-hatred and desperation. He was all she had; she'd told him so many times, and he'd hated that. Hated being the only one because it meant the pressure, the expectations were too high. But lately, after losing the two people who matter the most to him, he's started to understand.

He hated her. Hates her. That hasn't changed, never will. She was cruel to him in an undeniable way, with her threats and her paranoia and her smothering and her neglect. She made him miserable to the point where he sought any outlet to be free of her, threw his heart at someone like Hanjae, started using drugs just for the thrill of them. If she'd loved him in a way that was healthy, maybe he never would have gone down the route that he did. Maybe he wouldn't have grown up feeling like he was nothing.

But she's his mother. She's his mother, and she made him pancakes in the middle of the night when he woke up from a nightmare, kissed his knees when he scraped them and saved up for three months to take him to an amusement park for his tenth birthday. She'd cried when he'd gotten sick and woken up early to help with his homework even after working the night shift, even after working too many jobs with too many hours just to give him a life.

It had taken him a long time to even understand that the way she treated him was abuse, and for a long time after he had decided he hated her, he felt guilty for it. He still does. His relationship with his mother isn't easy, isn't something he can really qualify. There are layers to it, things that might take him a lifetime to understand. He hates her, and she was cruel, but he loves her, and she was kind.

"I'm sorry," he tells her, and he knows that it's both too much and not enough, but that it doesn't matter either way. He just needs to say it.

Namjoon finds him when the tears have dried up, when he's wiped them away and stands hunched in front of her niche.

"You need more time?" he asks gently, but Yoongi shakes his head.

"I'm ready to go."

He hasn't played the little brown piano sitting in the corner of his living room since he had it brought from his mother's apartment. It's terribly dusty and out-of-tune, but he sits at the little bench that used to feel so large and taps aimlessly at the keys. He was so little when she'd saved up all her money for the piano and lessons to accompany it. How he'd hated them. They were boring and difficult, and his teacher was too strict. But then the music became a comfort, a companion to his loneliness, and he'd started to love his brown piano.

He plays an out-of-tune melody, an easy one he must have known even as a kid. He remembers his mother waking up one weekend morning and coming to sit by him on the bench with a mug of black coffee, deep bags under her eyes from a week of extra shifts. He'd been practicing a song, and she sat and listened to it all the way through, didn't comment even when he missed a few notes out of nervousness. She didn't listen to him play often.

"That was beautiful," she'd said, leaning in to kiss the top of his head. "You're going to grow up and be so talented."

Of course, then he'd grown up and she'd told him if he pursued a life of music like he wanted, he'd be miserable and amount to nothing. Of course, when it mattered, she had never told him he was talented.

But he holds onto the ghost of that memory even now, thinks about the softness of her gaze as she'd sipped on her coffee and listened to him play. Imagines that she's right there beside him, laughing when he misses a note, asking him why he hasn't tuned his old piano in so long. He's been afraid that her furious, lonely ghost has haunted him all the years, but just for tonight, he imagines her ghost as softer. Tender, like she's watching over him to keep him safe. Because she loves him, not because she's angry.

Just for tonight, he imagines that things between his mother and him had been simple, and that he loves her and he misses her and that's all there is to it.

Chapter Text

Rumors spread especially quickly in the entertainment industry.

Looking back, it’s almost funny thinking about all the tiny, inconsequential occurrences that build up to the problem, to the rumors that sprout like stubborn weeds. Yoongi couldn’t have imagined where the moments would end up taking him when they happened. They were meaningless. Just moments, blips in time, until someone put them all together and suddenly they became much, much more than just moments.

There’s the phone call. The slip-up, the baby that spills naturally from Yoongi’s lips. There’s the familiarity in their voices, the way Yoongi mentions how often Jimin frequents his studio, the way Jimin’s convinced he’s lying about eating well. So there’s the phone call that begins the sudden interest in Yoongi and Jimin’s friendship, then there’s the selca.

It’s such a small thing, the selca, the first one Yoongi had ever taken with a fan. The boy had been so awestruck when he’d asked for it. At the time, it’d been a good moment. A memorable one. Then, somewhere amid the weeks after the phone call airs, the boy uploads the selca online and mentions that Yoongi had been with Jimin.

There’s the tiny, barely impolite spat Jimin and Junho have over the subvocal part, and there’s Chungha’s warning - he won’t be happy about this . Yoongi knew she was right then and he knows she’s right now, when the rumors start to float around. Rumors have to be fed by the tiny blips in their ordinary lives, but someone has to start them. Someone has to feed the fire first.

Yoongi posts a picture. He doesn’t use Instagram for much more than promotional nonsense, uploading teasers or tour information, but every now and then he’ll post a picture of the studio or his coffee or the rain he’s bitter he has to walk through. So he posts a picture of himself in the studio, hood tugged up, chin in hand, looking tired and defeated. He captions it how many shots of espresso are too many ?

It’s just a picture.

The timing’s wrong. When he posts it, Jimin’s already popular. Popular enough that his fans are keeping tabs on Yoongi just for the sake of their friendship. Popular enough that someone notices his phone lying on the table, unlocked because he’d tried taking a selca with it before he’d resorted to his computer’s webcam, and zooms in. Zooms in and clarifies until it’s quite obvious that his background is Park Jimin, and by then he’s popular enough that the picture is all over the internet in a day.

They’re just rumors. Park Jimin and Min Yoongi are gay. Park Jimin does drugs because he’s friends with Min Yoongi. Park Jimin’s not as innocent as he looks. They’re just rumors, and some people don’t believe them.

They’re just friends. Can’t you support a friend these days without making it romantic?

No one even knows if Min Yoongi does drugs, who says Jimin does too?

They’re just rumors, and some people don’t believe them, and some people do.

Min Yoongi’s a bad influence, can’t believe Jimin hangs around a guy like him.

If he’s really gay, he’s never gonna make it.

They’re just rumors, but suddenly he’s trending on Naver and suddenly everyone’s talking about them and wondering, wondering, wondering if maybe they aren’t just rumors after all.

It’s supposed to be a happy day.

It should be a happy day. As a precursor to their eventual tour, Modus invites the DNH crew to perform a few songs with them at an outdoor music festival that Yoongi had often been in the audience of as a teenager. He’s a performer now, even if it’s just a feature, and that’s a big deal, a good thing.

It’s supposed to be a happy day, but then he sees a face he hasn’t seen outside his head in a decade, and suddenly it isn’t one.

Yoongi’s separated from the others only briefly while they fetch more drinks, and he lingers on the outskirts of the crowd, past the stalls for advertisers and autographs, where only a few people wander around.

“Yoongi,” someone says, and Yoongi shouldn’t be surprised that after so long he doesn’t recognize the sound of his voice anymore.

But he does recognize his face. He looks older, really looks like someone who’s in his thirties now, and he’s grinning at him like ten years of trauma and heartbreak don’t stand between them. To him, there really is nothing between them - he hadn’t affected himself in any way with what he’d done. It was only Yoongi who’d gotten saddled with the consequences.

“Hey,” he says, coming right up to him while Yoongi’s stomach twists into knots and his chest tightens until he feels like he’s being suffocated. “You were amazing up there. You’re really hitting it big, huh?”

Yoongi stares at him, voice caught in his throat. He can feel his heartbeat picking up speed, blinking through the dizziness.

“I tried to get in touch with you, see I’m in Seoul trying to get into the music scene again and I heard your name around - ”

His voice fades out. Yoongi’s fixated on his face, his mouth forming words Yoongi doesn’t care to hear anymore, his eyes filled with fake earnestness. It must have been so easy for him to leave him behind. It must have been so easy to trick a helpless kid into loving him and then leave like it was nothing - because it was nothing. For him, it was nothing. Simply hearing his name all those months ago had sent Yoongi into a panic attack, and now he’s standing here, staring at him, listening to his voice. Knowing he wants to use him all over again.

Yoongi wants to fall apart. He’s seconds from falling apart. But what he wants, more than anything, is to get Hanjae’s fucking face out of his head for good.

“You tryina use me to get your foot into the scene?” Yoongi says, and his voice sounds cold and hard as he forces himself to detach from his body so he can do this.

“When you say it like that - ”

“After what you did to me?”

The smile on his face wavers. “What do you mean?”

“You still fuck around with kids, huh?” Yoongi spits, and his detached body moves to fist a hand in Hanjae’s collar. “You sick fuck.”

“Get your hand off me - ” Hanjae scrabbles at his wrist, but Yoongi’s made strong by the power of adrenaline and detachment.

“I was fifteen ,” Yoongi shoves him away only to dive back in and grab him again. “I was fifteen years old, you fucking piece of shit.”

Yoongi punches him so hard his knuckles crack on impact, blood trickling down his hands as Hanjae’s head snaps to the side. He grabs him before he can stumble away and punches him again, dodging Hanjae’s pathetic response of a blow. People are staring or edging away in fear, muttering in discontent, and out of the corner of his eye Yoongi even catches someone with their phone out. He doesn’t care. He has Hanjae on the ground and pummels him with all the strength in his body, spitting out words he isn’t even aware of anymore.

Maybe he might not have stopped if it weren’t for someone dragging him bodily off Hanjae, tugging him through the growing crowd of onlookers and away from the festival. Maybe he would have beat him until he lost consciousness. But when he looks back and sees Hanjae struggling to sit up, blood streaming down his face, he still feels satisfied.

“Hey,” Minwoo’s saying, arm wrapped around his shoulder as he leads him to the back parking lot, “calm down. Relax and tell me what the fuck happened.”

Yoongi sinks to his ass on the blacktop, leaning against the trunk of some stranger’s car. Minwoo crouches in front of him, brow furrowed, glancing behind him every now and then. Now that the rush of anger has started to fade, the panic returns. His heart’s racing so hard it hurts and he can’t breathe, can’t see past the red in his vision and the dizziness that takes over. He clutches his head in his hands and fights to breathe, his gasping, hiccuping breaths tearing through his chest.

“Look at me,” Minwoo keeps saying, desperate and panicked. “Look at me. Breathe, dude, in and out. Look at me, okay?”

He stares at him and tries, follows the gestures of Minwoo’s hands to inhale then exhale. Then Minwoo turns around suddenly, and Yoongi sees Namjoon running toward them down the parking lot.

“Hey, I heard hyung got in a fight - ” he pauses as soon as he sees what state Yoongi’s in. Then he drops down in front of him, tugs off his jacket and puts it around Yoongi’s shoulders. “Hey,” he says gently. “Feet flat on the ground. Hands on your knees. Breathe in and out with me, okay?”

It takes time, but eventually it passes. Minwoo drives him home. Neither of them ask again about what happened, and Yoongi doesn’t offer them any details. As soon as he’s home, he draws his curtains, burrows himself under his covers, and waits to fall asleep.

“Listen to this one, listen to this.” Sungkyum barely manages to hold in his giggle, nose glued to his phone. “ Our Jimin-ah’s going to get corrupted if he hangs around guys who beat people up for no reason !” He bursts into laughter, and the others follow, snorting with amusement. “Corrupted, you hear that? Yoongi hyung’s a corruptor now.”

“No, wait, this one takes the cake.” Yunha’s laughing so hard she can’t finish, slumping over the side of her seat. When she finally gathers herself enough to continue, she reads in a pitched tone, “ I think we should sign a petition to ask XO to step in and keep Agust D away from Jimin. A petition! A fucking petition.”

They’re howling with laughter now, and Yoongi can’t help but think it’s a little much. It isn’t that funny. It’s annoying, at the very least. Awful at the most, because he’s being thrown under the bus for doing something he needed to do. Something that, in the days since it happened, he doesn’t regret one bit.  

“Ha, ha,” Yoongi says dryly. “Hilarious.”

“You fucked yourself over, man,” Yejin says, tilting her head like she knows exactly what she’s talking about even though she doesn’t know shit. “You shoulda stayed done with that idol shit.”

“What, so I can’t even have friends? You guys my fucking gatekeepers now?”

“She has a point,” Sungkyum says. “This idol kid’s ruining your reputation. No one would care what the hell you do if you weren’t friends with him. Now everybody’s always up your ass.”

“Don’t call him a kid, he’s not even that much younger than you,” Yoongi mutters, kicking the underside of Sungkyum’s chair. His phone buzzes in the pocket of his sweats, so he slips out of the room and into the hall to take it.

“Yoongi-ssi?” It’s Bora.

“Hey, something up?”

“Yeah.” She sounds a little uncomfortable. “Our PR guy wants to meet with you. Preferably today, if you have the time.”

“Ah, fuck.” Yoongi passes a hand over his face, understanding immediately. “This about the video going around?”

“It is.”

“How mad are they?”

“No one’s really mad, they just wanna talk. Make sure it doesn’t happen again, I guess.”

“Right. I can be over there in about an hour.”

“I’ll let him know. Thanks, Yoongi-ssi.”

He wraps up with the others and heads to his car. It only takes so long to get there because of traffic, and he works himself up with nervousness along the way, fingers tapping anxiously on the wheel and teeth digging into his lip. When he gets there, he’s directed to a meeting room to wait for Hyungsoo.

He rises to meet Hyungsoo when he enters, feeling rather shabbily dressed compared to the older man. He’s met Hyungsoo multiple times when he worked with artists in the company, so they aren’t strangers. They start off with small talk, the kind Yoongi hates, before Hyungsoo finally gets to the point.

“We’ve got nothing against your friendship with Jimin, I just want to get that out of the way,” he says, and Yoongi has to stop himself from rolling his eyes at the obvious attempt at placating him first. “You’re a talented producer. Jimin’s learned a lot from you.”

Yoongi inclines his head in agreement.

“But you understand he’s in a precarious situation right now. He’s one of the higher ranked members on the show. Chances are he’ll make it into the group.”

Yoongi’s a little surprised that he sounds so sure about it. He wonders if they’ve decided the line-up beforehand, if the fan voting percentage is actually much lower than they say it is.

“If he debuts, he can’t have any bad press.”

“What happened at the festival was vastly misconstrued by the internet - ”

“Of course,” Hyungsoo acknowledges, though Yoongi wonders if he even cares. “But you must understand that any small thing will really hurt Jimin down the line. And there’s a video.”

“Right,” Yoongi mutters. “So you don’t want us to be friends anymore?”

“No, nothing like that. Whatever you both do on your private time is your business. All we’re asking is that you tone down the public aspects of your friendship. After the show, if he debuts, we think it’d be best if you aren’t seen out together for a while. And there was that Instagram photo of yours - ”

“That was an accident.”

“We want to avoid anymore accidents.”

Yoongi sighs heavily. “I understand.”

“Thank you, Producer Min. We’ve already spoken with Jimin about this.”

Yoongi winces. Wonders how Jimin had reacted.

“Can I offer you a cup of coffee on your way out?” Hyungsoo stands, gathering his things, and Yoongi understands the clear dismissal.

“I’m good, thanks. I’ve got somewhere to be.”

They say their goodbyes and Yoongi heads back to his car, lighting a cigarette on the way. When he’s inside, he presses his forehead against the steering wheel, squeezes his eyes shut, and wonders why everything always has to be so hard.

Especially when, for the first time in a long time, he felt like he’d done something right.

Chapter Text

The coffee shop with the pink-haired barista feels comfortably familiar by now, even if she’s not the one at the counter today. Yoongi’s jittery. It’s hard to sit still, so he fidgets, plays with the zipper on his jacket and bends down to tie and untie his shoelaces. He isn’t early, and he only waits for five minutes, but they feel like an eternity.

The shop’s door swings open, and Yoongi glances up. Kihyun zeroes in on him right away, maneuvering through tables and chairs to reach him. Yoongi gestures to the drink already sitting on the table waiting for him. Kihyun looks wary, but he doesn’t look closed off. That’s something.

“Hey.” Kihyun reaches for his drink, shrugging his coat off.

“Hey.” Yoongi clears his throat uncomfortably. “Thanks for, uh, coming.”

Kihyun looks exasperated. “Are we gonna talk like I haven’t been wiping your ass for the past five years?”

“Fuck off,” Yoongi says, but it does the trick. A bit of the discomfort fades.

“Saw that video going around.” Kihyun takes a long sip of his coffee, his brow furrowed. He doesn’t speak until he sets it down again. “Was it that guy? Who called that day?”

Yoongi nods.

“I dunno what he did to you, but I bet he deserved it.”

He says it so decidedly that some of the weight that’s settled on Yoongi’s heart since the day Kihyun left lifts. “Thanks,” he murmurs. “I thought you’d be mad. Reputation damage and all that.”

“Not your fault he showed up in a place like that.”

“I guess.”

“Bora noona said XO wasn’t too happy about it, though.”

“They told me no more public interactions with Jimin.” Yoongi shrugs. “Guess it doesn’t matter. We won’t have time for that anymore.”

“I was gonna call you,” Kihyun starts, a little hesitant, “when I saw the video. To see if you were okay. But then you texted first.”

“Yeah.” He shifts, steeling himself, and tugs a messily folded piece of notebook paper from his pocket. He smooths it out against the table. “I, uh, called that place. That the doctor told me about.” He glances up and Kihyun’s staring at him, so he rushes into it. “I’m, um, not gonna stay there because the tour’s coming up and I can’t back out of that. And I don’t think I need to stay there. But I talked to them and they told me some other options and, uh, I’m gonna try some of those. Some visits and shit, and some things I can do on the phone during the tour. And I can do more when I come back, you know, if I need it.”

Kihyun’s gaze is gentle. Focused.

“Honestly, I don’t think this is gonna do shit. And I don’t wanna do it. But I’m going to try. For you, and for Jimin because I think it’d make him happy. And I want you to come back.” He swallows harshly. “If you don’t want to come back, that’s okay. But it’d be nice if we could be friends again.”

He hates the vulnerability, the tenderness etched in the lines of Kihyun’s face, hates waiting for an answer.

“Idiot,” Kihyun says fondly. “We never stopped being friends. I just - I was pissed, you know? Tired of seeing you like this. Afraid I’ll have to see you die.”

“I’m sorry for the shit I said.”

“Yeah, me too.” He takes the rumpled paper and skims over it. “This looks good. Are you gonna stick with it?”

He doesn’t know. That’s the problem; it’s easy to sit here and tell Kihyun he’ll do this for him, that he’ll do something. But once he starts, he can’t promise how long he’ll last. “I’ll try.”

“I hope one day you’ll want to try for yourself, not us. But for now, that’s a good start.”

Yoongi nods. “Yeah.” The small part of him that hasn’t been beaten down into nothing retains a bit of hope. “Maybe one day.”

“I’m gonna work for you again,” Kihyun announces. He pushes his chair out to stand, taking his drink with him. “Who the hell else will make sure you get out of bed in time for your damn rehearsals? Now come on, you need to update me on what I’ve missed. My planner’s in the car.”

Yoongi follows him out, making sure to stuff the paper of info into his pocket on the way.

XList’ s Park Jimin Hospitalized After Fainting During Filming

Park Jimin of XO Entertainment’s idol survival show XList collapsed during filming of the eighth episode.

XO Entertainment has released a statement concerning the trainee’s health and future on the show. Doctors have attributed his collapse to exhaustion from lack of sleep and heavy physical strain from preparing for the show’s rigorous competitions. He will remain hospitalized until his condition improves.

“We will prioritize Jimin’s health above all else and ensure that he is rested and recovered before he returns to filming,” a source from the agency states.

Polling done by XO ranks Jimin as the second most popular trainee on the show, followed closely by Cha Junho.

We hope Jimin has a full, speedy recovery!

There’s a man waiting outside Jimin’s hospital room, one hand in his pocket and the other occupied with his phone. He’s leaning against the closed door almost like he’s guarding it, and he turns a sharp gaze on Yoongi as he comes down the hall. Yoongi stares back, straightening his shoulders as he beelines right for him.

“I’m here to see Jimin.”

The man blinks at him suspiciously. “Who are you?”

“Min Yoongi. His friend.”

He blinks again, rakes his gaze from Yoongi’s head to his toes. Then he opens the door just enough to pop his head in and call, “Jiminie, Min Yoongi’s here to see you.”

“Okay.” Jimin’s voice comes muffled through the door, small and tired, and Yoongi’s heart skips a beat. It’s different hearing it off-screen again. To think the last time they talked was before the first episode even aired - it’s been so long.

The man shoots him another look before stepping aside to let him in. Yoongi can’t quite keep the annoyance from his face as he passes him, but as soon as he’s inside the room it fades. It’s replaced with a muted reverence. Jimin reclines on the bed in hospital pajamas, his phone resting on his stomach, a drip hooked up to the back of his hand. The curtains are drawn. He looks pale and exhausted but his face melts when he lays eyes on Yoongi, flushing red with sudden emotion.  

“Jimin,” Yoongi murmurs, barely registering the door shutting quietly behind him.

“Hyung,” Jimin says, and the play of emotion on his face inspires a flutter of awe in Yoongi’s heart. He watches the way his lip trembles, his forehead wrinkles, his nose scrunches, eyes bright and shiny. “Hyung,” he says again, then he’s crying.

Jimin doesn’t like crying in front of others, Yoongi knows that well, but he doesn’t hide this time. This time he lets the tears drip down his cheeks, lets the sob tear from his throat. Yoongi steps toward him carefully, almost afraid that he’s an illusion, that he’s dreaming, and if he gets too close Jimin will fade before his eyes.

“Hey, angel.” He reaches to take his face in his hands and brush the tears away with his thumbs. Jimin doesn’t disappear when he touches him. He’s here. He’s real, and they’re together. Yoongi bends down and kisses the tears that keep falling, kisses the ones suspended on Jimin’s lashes.

Jimin pulls him down, scooting over so they can lie facing each other. It’s a tight fit in the small hospital bed, but they manage. Yoongi doesn’t let go of him, keeping a hand wrapped around his neck and a thumb stroking his jaw as he drinks in the sight of him. Jimin isn’t crying anymore; he sniffles a few times and rubs a hand across his face to sloppily wipe away the remainder of his tears.

“Angel,” Jimin says, his voice still a little watery. “I like that.”

Yoongi smiles. He leans in until their foreheads are touching, drawing in a breath that trembles through his body. “Missed you.”

“Missed you, too.”

“How are you feeling?” He traces a finger under Jimin’s eye to catch a tear he missed.

“Okay. Better.”

“You don’t look so good.”

Jimin laughs quietly. “You’re supposed to tell me I look pretty no matter what.”

“Oops,” he grins. “Your fault for picking a guy like me.”

“Couldn’t help myself.” Jimin curls in a little closer, taking Yoongi’s free hand to thread their fingers together. “You’re just so cool.”

Yoongi snorts. “Did you eat anything yet? Are they even feeding you on that show or are you all lying about that?”

“They’re feeding us, hyung, don’t worry. Seokjin hyung brought me dinner a little while ago.”

“That pissed-off looking guy outside?”

Jimin swats his arm lightly. “He has to look mean so no one bothers me.”

“What is he, a bodyguard?” Yoongi says dryly.

“He’s one of our managers. He takes really good care of us, don’t look like that.”

“His good care is the reason you’re in the hospital right now then?”

Jimin sighs, starting to look a little exasperated, and Yoongi regrets saying anything. Since hearing the news, he’s had a visceral reaction of anger toward anything related to the company. Prioritize Jimin’s health above all else his ass. They didn’t give a fuck.

“Sorry,” he mutters, tightening his fingers in Jimin’s. “I’ll shut up.”

“You might get in trouble,” Jimin says quietly, “for coming here.”

“Made sure I was all covered up. Even if someone happens to catch a pic, they won’t recognize me.” With his free hand, he traces his fingers along Jimin’s cheek. “Don’t worry about that.”

“How are you, hyung?” Jimin’s eyes flicker over Yoongi’s face, searching, as if trying to find the answer himself.

“I’m okay.” At Jimin’s skeptical expression, he amends, “I’m trying to be okay.”

“When’s the first tour date?” He frowns. “I’m so cut off from everything while we’re filming. No phones, no computers, always in the practice rooms. I never know what’s going on with you.”

“You’re not missing much,” he murmurs. “First date’s in Busan. Three days after your last episode airs.”

“Busan.” A smile stretches across Jimin’s tired face. “That’s funny.”

“That’s what I thought, too.”

“I don’t hear about a lot, but I did hear about the video.” Jimin seems hesitant to ask about it, his gaze swimming with curiosity. “What happened?”

Yoongi sighs. “Remember that guy I told you about? The one from Daegu?”

Jimin’s expression turns immediately troubled. “That was him?”

“Yeah. Hanjae.” It feels strange to say his name aloud after so long. Strange and a little bit freeing. “He approached me. I kind of lost it.”

“Hope you broke his bones,” Jimin hisses, the weariness replaced with energy.

Yoongi laughs. “You’re cute when you act all tough.”

“Shut up,” he mutters, relaxing when Yoongi brushes a lock of hair from his forehead. “Are you okay after all that?”

“I’m better than I thought I would be.” He hasn’t said it out loud yet, but when he speaks the next words they feel truer than ever. “It’s not - I’m not over what he did. But that felt a little like closure.”

“Good,” Jimin murmurs. “That’s good.”

“Yeah.”

His next words are firm, gaze locked on Yoongi’s. “You been getting high a lot?”

Yoongi wants to lie, but he can’t bring himself to. “Some days, yeah.” He clears his throat uncomfortably. The disappointment settling into the curve of Jimin’s mouth starts a pain in Yoongi’s chest. “But I, uh, got into this thing. This therapy thing.”

The disappointment lifts instantly, replaced by an overwhelming brightness. Jimin’s eyes are shining with unshed tears all over again. “That’s good,” he says, surging in to bury his head in Yoongi’s neck, shuddering breath tickling Yoongi’s skin. “That’s great.”

He’s thought about backing out more than once, but the way Jimin curls into him - the way he laughs, muffled against him, a little incredulous - makes him want to go on. Makes him want to do whatever it takes to see Jimin happy. And maybe Kihyun’s right that it isn’t the best motivation, that maybe he’ll never manage to get better until he does it for himself, but it’s something.

It’s something.

They lay there for a while, basking in each other’s presence. They wind their arms around each other, and Yoongi buries his face in Jimin’s hair. Even though he’s holding him, it still feels a little like a dream.

Jimin pulls back after a time, rubbing his eyes and mumbling, “How long can you stay?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Yoongi says, running a hand through Jimin’s hair. “As long as you let me.”

“Do you want to go for a walk? The weather’s nice.”

“Someone might see us.”

“Just on the hospital grounds. No one will bother us here.”

“You okay to walk? Maybe you should rest.” His brow furrows in concern, but Jimin just laughs.

“Cute,” he says, and pushes himself up to sitting. He swings his legs over the side of the bed.

“Here.” Yoongi comes around to stand before him. He tugs off his oversized jacket and slips it over Jimin’s shoulders, then helps him stand. “What about that thing?” He gestures to the drip attached to Jimin’s hand.

“It’s got wheels. We’ll be fine.”

He tugs along the stand with its dangling bags of fluid after him as sets off resolutely toward the door. As soon as he opens it, Seokjin straightens up with narrowed eyes.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Jimin doesn’t seem fazed, answering sweetly, “For a walk, Seokjin hyung.”

“Doc said bedrest, Jimin. That means you stay in bed.”

“Fresh air cures everything. Just a little walk.”

Seokjin squints at him before nodding at last. “Don’t take too long or I’m gonna come looking for you.”

“Thanks, hyung.” Jimin beckons for Yoongi to follow, who passes Seokjin with an awkward nod.

They set off toward the elevator, where they get on with a woman dressed in hospital pajamas. She bows politely.

“Tell me how things are behind the scenes,” Yoongi says when they exit the elevator and head out a side door of the hospital. “Are they treating you okay? That fucking Junho kid giving you any trouble?”

Jimin sighs. “It’s pretty shit, hyung.” The weather really is nice, and Yoongi lets Jimin lead him through trimmed hedges and neat sidewalks toward a small exercise area with a few benches scattered around. A little girl and her mother play with a jump rope, but other than that the area is quiet. “Got in a fight with Minhyuk last week.”

“The kid with the pink hair?” He frowns, helping Jimin wheel the stand beside a bench so they can sit down. “Didn’t think he seemed that bad. Little jittery.”

“He’s on the same team as Jungkook’s for next week’s episode, right? And they’re rating everyone within teams. So when they announced that, everyone on Jungkook’s team got real upset.”

Yoongi understands. “No one stands a chance. Jungkook will make number one for the team.”

“Right. So before we recorded performances, I caught Minhyuk trying to slip laxative into Jungkook’s coffee.” He shakes his head. “I decked him so hard he was spitting out blood.”

“Shit,” Yoongi mutters. “Did you get in trouble?”

“I cleaned him up and told him I wouldn’t tell if he didn’t.” Yoongi can see the bitterness lacing Jimin’s gaze. “The worst part is that I just felt sad for him. He’s not a bad guy, you know? It’s just this fucking show - ” He draws in a shuddering breath, and Yoongi pats his knee for comfort. “It’s turning everyone awful.”

“It’s almost over. You’re almost there.”

“When I woke up after fainting today, I was disappointed.” Jimin twists his fingers together, gazing at something in the distance. “When I was falling, there was this tiny second where I was lucid and I hoped this was it for me.”

Yoongi’s chest hurts. It hurts, and he understands, and he wonders if being in love means Jimin’s pain will always hurt twice as much as his own.

“Then I woke up and I was fucking disappointed because that meant I had to keep doing this.” He leans his head back, blond locks falling away from his forehead, and swallows harshly. Yoongi watches his Adam’s apple bob and wishes he could kiss the tense lines from his forehead. “Had to keep living.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi whispers. “Yeah.”

They’re silent for a long time.

They sit almost shoulder-to-shoulder, listening to the cars in the distance and the chirp of crickets as the sun sets. Jimin’s hand lies on the bench between them, and Yoongi reaches to take it. He almost does until he remembers that even if there’s no one around, even if Jimin’s not a household face, it’s still a risk. It’s always a risk. So he rests his hand next to Jimin’s instead, their pinkies touching.

“I’ve been thinking,” Jimin finally murmurs, his voice heavy in the night, “about all this.”

Yoongi glances at him questioningly.

“Dreams and things.”

“Dreams and things,” Yoongi echoes, a hint of amusement bleeding into his tone.

“I passed out,” Jimin defends with a scowl. “Lemme get my thoughts together.”

Yoongi smiles. It’s hard to resist the urge to thread their pinkies together.

“We’re doing all this to be happy, aren’t we?” He furrows his brow in thought. “We’re pursuing our dreams because they make us happy.”

Yoongi inclines his head in acknowledgement.

“Pursuing my dream means I’ll lose you.” He glances down at his lap, loose, unstyled hair falling into his eyes. The next words seem like they cost effort. “I’m never going to be happy if I lose you.”

“So what’s the point?”

Jimin glances at him.

“That’s what you’re thinking, right? What’s the point?”

“Right.”

“I’ve been thinking about that, too. About how even if I get everything I want it’ll never be enough because I won’t have you.” Yoongi slouches on the bench, gaze fixed despondently on the bright hospital building before them. “But if I gave it all up, I’d never be happy either.”

“That’s it. That’s the problem. If we gave up music, we’d be fucking miserable.”

“Yeah.”

“But we’re - I mean, I know I’m going to be miserable without you, too.”

Yoongi shifts his gaze to him, can’t temper the intensity of it. “You don’t think I’ll be miserable without you?”

Jimin meets his gaze earnestly, his own wide and tentative. Yoongi realizes he needs the assurance, needs to know where Yoongi stands.

“You have no idea how it’s been since you left. I’ve been a mess.” Yoongi finally looks away, laughing quietly without humor. “A mess.”

“It just - it feels futile. Wanting to be happy.”

“Yeah. It does.” Yoongi rubs his jaw absently, considering. “I think I’ve realized that none of this really makes me happy. I mean, making music makes me happy. It always has. But everything that comes with it just feels like a burden.”

“We need to feel like we’re contributing to the world,” Jimin says. “Like we’re good at something, like we have a purpose, to be happy. Music, dance, all of that helps. But the rest of it, the shit they put us through just to do what we need to feel whole - it’s all useless.”

“And I think to be happy we need to feel like we aren’t alone, too.” He’s started to realize, lately, that so much of his unhappiness from childhood to now has stemmed from loneliness.

Jimin laughs, just as humorless as Yoongi’s. “What do you do when you can’t have both?”

“That’s the trap, isn’t it? Maybe you can never really be happy. Maybe you just take what you can get and make do.”

“Isn’t that too pessimistic of a way to look at things, hyung?” Jimin‘s lips curve into a fond smile.

Yoongi shrugs. “Isn’t that how it works?”

“Maybe,” he acknowledges. “But maybe not. I’d like to think we could be happy one day. Maybe it just takes time.”

“Hasn’t it been long enough?” Yoongi leans his head back, sighing, and thinks about all the years of unhappiness that have dragged him down like a weighted jacket.

“Yes,” Jimin says, and it’s almost a whisper. Yoongi can see the years weighing him down, too, can see them in the slump of his shoulders and the tired of droop of his eyes. “It’s been long enough.”

The mother and daughter have returned inside, and the courtyard is empty save for them. At least they have as much as they do. At least Jimin’s ranking high on the show; at least he’ll debut soon. At least Yoongi’s touring with Modus; at least he has money now. At least their dreams are coming to fruition rather than growing stagnant until they die.

“Promise me you’ll try,” Yoongi says, and Jimin glances at him. “Promise me you’ll try to be happy.”

“I’ll try if you try.”

It’s an admission, he thinks, that they won’t be a part of each other’s happiness anymore. That from here on, they have to learn how to be happy without each other. “Deal.” Yoongi holds out his hand for Jimin to shake, a wry smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

Jimin hesitates. “And promise you’ll get better.”

Yoongi knows what he means. Knows what he’s really asking.

The way Jimin blinks at him so earnestly makes him want to try.

“Promise,” Yoongi whispers, and Jimin takes his hand to shake it firmly.

They see Seokjin approaching long before he reaches them. “Time to go,” he says, and nods to Yoongi. “You should head home.”

Yoongi’s throat tightens. He stands, movements stiff and tense. “Right.”

Seokjin glances between them, something in his stern gaze softening. “I’ll give you guys a minute.” He turns away and heads back toward the hospital.

Jimin stands to join him. For a minute they just stare at each other, Yoongi’s hands curled into fists at his sides and Jimin’s mouth curved downward. Then Jimin tugs him into a hug. Yoongi squeezes him tight, face buried in his shoulder. Breathes him in, revels in the warmth of his body against his and the sound of his trembling breath and the way his hands clutch at his back. Holds him tight and hopes that he can feel all the love pent-up inside of him, trapped and waiting.

“Don’t miss me too much, okay?” Jimin says, his voice clogged with held-back tears, and Yoongi laughs.

“Impossible.”

“I love you.”

He’s never said that before. They’ve never said that before. Something wet drips onto lips, and Yoongi realizes he’s crying. He squeezes his eyes shut to keep more tears from slipping out, then he breathes the words back like they’re fragile. “I love you.”

Jimin squeezes him so tightly he feels like his bones are cracking, then he lets go and grabs his stand. He walks to the hospital with straight shoulders, and he doesn’t look back.

Chapter Text

Between the four of them, they’ve gathered enough food to host a party.

Minwoo hands out cans of beer before they start eating. He’d offered to bring weed, but Kihyun’s glare had intimidated Yoongi into refusing. Yoongi can’t remember the last time he had so many people over at once. He’s always spent his time in other people’s apartments, never much in his own.

“I brought tissues,” Chungha says, tugging a box out of her tote. “Because I know I’m going to cry.”

Yoongi would never admit it, but he has a feeling he’ll be in the same boat.

“Don’t worry,” Minwoo says easily, “you can lean on my shoulder if you need to cry.”

Yoongi and Kihyun groan in unison.

“I’m gay,” Chungha deadpans, popping open a can of beer.

“So is he.” Yoongi knocks Minwoo’s shin with his foot in annoyance. “Being sleazy is just habit.”

“Fuck off,” Minwoo says. His ears are red.

“You guys are leaving for the tour this week, right?” Chungha asks, and they nod.

“Three days,” Yoongi says.

“If Jimin oppa makes it, they won’t let him out to see you.” Chungha looks troubled, as if the thought had just occurred to her. But Yoongi had realized that a while ago.

“Yeah. I know.”

The XList logo flashes on the screen, and she grabs the remote to turn up the volume.

The relaxation that had settled on Yoongi from their easy banter slips away, replaced with a tight ball of tension in his chest. It feels a little surreal to be watching a three-hour special that will determine the rest of Jimin’s future.

The final episode of XList is set up like a showcase where each of the twelve trainees gets his own stage. They’re even given background dancers, provided that they choreograph everything for them on their own. That makes Yoongi both concerned and relieved; he knows Jimin loves choreography, but he also imagines the stress of it must have been killing him.

Minwoo dozes off halfway through the first performance. It’s not a bad one, but Yoongi knows the kid has little chance of making it into the group. He’s one of the least popular trainees, too quiet, hasn’t figured out how to make himself shine on camera yet. But he’s just a kid still. Yoongi thinks he’ll learn.

“Jimin oppa will probably be toward the end.” Chungha reaches over to snag another can of beer from where they’re tucked against Minwoo’s side. She isn’t careful, and the motion has him jerking awake. Yoongi catches her hidden smile as she turns away and figures she did that on purpose.

“We won’t be seeing him or Jungkook anytime soon,” Yoongi agrees.

They’re right, and the others all manage to relax as they catch only glimpses of Jimin here and there in the audience. Yoongi, however, can’t ease the tension that keeps him coiled up tight, hands clenched into fists. Can’t stop hoping. Praying.

And despite that, feeling guilty because a tiny, tiny part of him wishes for an outcome that would make Jimin his.

Junho’s performance is good, though Yoongi is loathe to admit it. However shitty the kid’s personality is, no one can deny his talent. Not all of the trainees are like that. Quite a few can barely dance or sing, but they’re handsome enough to make it by anyway, or their personality makes up for it. Yoongi’s seen netizens bashing Jimin for his vocals, for his looks, and the comments always make him seethe even if he knows they don’t matter.

Jungkook performs a ballad. It’s almost a risky move; there’s minimal choreography, and the stage is empty save for him. But he sings beautifully, with an emotion that nearly brings Yoongi to tears. It’s a song about loss, about hardship, and Yoongi can hear the honesty in his voice.

“He’s fucking good,” Minwoo says, awake again, eyes wide. Yoongi feels an odd mixture of scorn and pride; Minwoo had given him so much shit for working with idols, and here he is, awed at the sight of one. But Yoongi doesn’t really have room to talk; he was like that once, too.

Minhyuk’s up next, and Yoongi watches him with anger simmering under his skin. Jimin might have understood, might have forgiven him, but Yoongi keeps thinking about what he tried to do to Jungkook and almost hates him for it. Strange, to be so defensive on behalf of someone he doesn’t know.

But really, if he thinks about it, it’s because Jimin could have just as easily been in Jungkook’s position. Because Jimin already has been sabotaged by Junho, and because the outcome of that is further confirmation that he can’t be with Jimin. Not if he makes it.

“And next up is trainee Park Jimin performing Christina Milian’s ‘Dip It Low!’”

They all shoot up in their seats when the stage lights dim. As always, they play up the drama; a spotlight shines on Jimin’s prone figure in the center of the stage. His eyes are closed, lids shining with glittery makeup. Like the first time Yoongi saw him, he’s wearing a crop top, but this time it’s red. His tights stick to him like a second skin.

The first beat starts, and the performance cuts out, replaced with an interview of Jimin.

“Ah, it’s so hard,” he laughs. “I don’t know how to choreograph for other people! I only ever do it for myself.”

Yoongi’s heart stutters. He can’t help the smile that tugs at his lips.

“I picked this song because I thought I could showcase my dance skills,” he says, “and my vocals at the same time. My regret throughout this show is that I haven’t been able to show a good color for my vocals. It’s something I’d like to improve on.” His smile turns coy, and he shrugs a bit. “And the song’s sexy.”

They give him a tiny montage of preparation, show him in the practice room correcting his moves and joking around with the male backup dancers, show him standing in the recording booth looking frustrated.

“I want to do well,” he tells the camera, a determined set to his mouth. “I want to do well so that all this hard work pays off.” The determination fades into a hint of vulnerability. “I don’t have anything but this.”

His performance is beautiful.

He moves with a fluid grace, circled by his background dancers whose movements are designed to compliment him rather than echo him. His voice holds steady; Yoongi thinks it might be the best he’s sang on the show yet. The dance is sexy just like he wanted: hip rolls and hooded gazes and lip bites, the tights emphasizing the way his ass moves. When he gets on the floor and rolls his way back up, Yoongi’s mouth goes dry.

The producers trim the performance for the sake of time, but they don’t cut the climax. The background dancers gather around Jimin and douse him in what looks like liquid gold. At the very end, he’s lifted into the air with his head thrown back.

They all watch with their mouths open, but Yoongi feels like he’s holding his breath from start to finish. When he’s up there owning the stage like he was born to do, Jimin feels more unattainable than ever.

The reality of their situation sank in a long time ago. This is Jimin’s dream, and Yoongi has his own. They can’t intersect. But now it feels just a little realer. Just a little more painful.

He realizes with startling clarity that if Jimin doesn’t make it, the tiny part of his heart that wants him all for himself won’t even be happy anymore. He can see the passion bleeding from every inch of Jimin’s body. Knows that nothing they feel for each other could ever really match up to something they’ve been fighting for since they were kids.

Knows that if Jimin doesn’t make it, he’ll never be the same again.

“He fucking killed it,” Chungha’s saying, bubbling with amazed laughter, and Yoongi collects himself enough to manage a nod.

There’s one more performance, then the voting begins.

A montage of the show’s most memorable moments plays while Yoongi and the others whip their phones out to vote for Jimin. It’s a strange in-between after that where Yoongi fights down the ball of tense expectation in his stomach that only seems to grow with every passing second.

“He’s gonna make it,” Kihyun says. “There’s no way he won’t with a performance like that.”

Yoongi wants to share his confidence, but he learned a long time ago that people don’t always get what they deserve.

“And now,” the host finally says, “it’s the time we’ve all been waiting for. Who will rise as members of XO Entertainment’s new future?”

Of the twelve trainees, nine will make it, chosen by a mix of scoring from the judges and the viewers.

They start announcing from rank nine.

They play the anticipation up, and even though Yoongi knows what they’re doing he still falls into the anxious trap they set for the viewers. He watches them announce the boys one-by-one, watches them zoom in on their crying faces, watches them pan to the ones slowly losing hope. Jimin and Jungkook are holding hands; Jungkook chews his lips incessantly.

Yoongi’s hands clench into fists as he tries to contain the restless energy, can’t stop tapping his foot so quickly his knee jostles up and down. Chungha reaches for him, and he takes her hand almost gratefully. She squeezes so tight it should hurt, but he barely notices.

The line of winners grows; the group still waiting dwindles. Jimin still hasn’t been called.

Yoongi tries not to lose hope.

And then -

“Third place. Park Jimin.”

It’s all a blur after that.

Jimin’s crying. He falls to his knees with his hands pressed to his face, the other trainees swarming around him in support. Yoongi vaguely registers Chungha screaming, Minwoo laughing in awe, but it sounds distant. Muffled, like everything’s suddenly very far away. The world narrows down to Yoongi and Jimin on the TV screen, shoulders shaking with his sobs.

Jungkook’s mouthing the words you did it, you did it , and Yoongi finds himself echoing them. “You did it.”

“Everyone shut up,” Chungha exclaims, and the world is suddenly thrown into stark relief again.

Jimin is walking onto the stage, wiping his tears away, to take the mic and say his last words on the show.

“I can’t believe this. I feel like I’m dreaming.” He breathes a shaky laugh into the mic. “Thank you to XO for giving me the chance to chase my dream and to everyone in the company who’s become like family. Especially Chungha, Bora noona, Jihoo hyung, Seokjin hyung.

“And to the other trainees, I love you all so much.” The camera pans to the boys, who reach for him teasingly. “I hope every one of you gets to debut. To Jihyunie, I hope I can become a hyung you’ll be proud of.”

It’s not that Yoongi expects Jimin to mention him, given XO’s ultimatum on their relationship, but a part of him still sinks with disappointment when it seems like Jimin’s wrapping it up.

“And, um.” Jimin swallows again, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Thank you to Yoongi hyung. For everything. Let’s meet again when I can match up to you.”

Yoongi’s eyes grow wet. He gulps down a breath of air, but the way his throat seizes up makes it hard.

“Finally, thank you to everyone who voted for me and believed in me. I’ll do my best to make you proud.”

Jimin bows, long and low, then hands the mic back to the host and joins the other winners. He presses his hand to his mouth and starts to cry again. Yoongi finds himself doing the same. He leans over and presses his forehead against his knees.

Someone’s rubbing his back, though he doesn’t know who. He trembles. Sucks in a sharp, painful breath.

It’s over.

Yoongi dreams of a bus ride to nowhere.

He sits alone, and the seat in front of him is on fire. It’s a small fire, and he doesn’t feel afraid. He watches the bright flames flicker and glow for a time before he turns to gaze out the window. There’s nothing, just darkness, a sort of heavy darkness that seems to suck him in the longer he stares.

He looks away.

“Hello.”

Jimin’s standing in the aisle. He’s smiling, head tilted.

“Hello,” Yoongi responds, and Jimin’s smile widens.

“I told you I was fine,” Jimin says, nodding toward the fire.

Yoongi finds himself nodding back. “I know.”

Jimin raises his hand in a wave and sets off down the aisle. It’s just a normal-sized bus, but Yoongi watches Jimin walk forever. He watches him until he’s just a speck in the distance. Watches him until he disappears.

Then he settles back in his seat and waits for the bus to take him somewhere.

Chapter Text

Yoongi leans against the hood of his car and takes a long drag of his cigarette.

He’s kicked a lot of habits over the years, but he hasn’t gotten rid of this one. Sometimes Kihyun sends him passive-aggressive articles on lung cancer, though mostly he lets him have it. The heavy bass that thumps from the mansion in front of him rattles his bones. He never liked parties, but now he avoids them out of necessity: seeing the booze and the drugs is hard. He’s only here because Namjoon begged him to show up.

“That’s a really nice car.”

Yoongi glances to the side, cigarette dangling between his lips. The corner of his mouth lifts unbidden. The man standing there has on a pair of sleek sunglasses nearly half the size of his face, but Yoongi would recognize anywhere. He’s dressed like someone of his status should be: blue Burberry coat left open over a sheer black top and slender pants, boots that look like they might cost more than the coat. Tonight, his hair is silver.

Yoongi looks him up and down, eyebrow raised. He’d seen him in some fashion articles recently, something about being one of the best-dressed celebrities. Yoongi can see why. They see each other around sometimes, but Yoongi doesn’t go to enough parties to bump into him often. They don’t run in the same circles.

“Bugatti Chiron, right?”

“You already know,” Yoongi says, and Jimin smiles. “Heard you have a thing for cars.”

“Oh, yeah? Who told you that?”

“A little bird.”

Jimin takes a step closer, running his fingers along the side of the car. “Maybe you can give me a ride one day.”

Yoongi drops his cigarette on the ground and crushes it beneath his shoe. The quirk of his lips has turned into a full smile. “Maybe.” He steps toward him, just a foot between them. “It’s good to see you,” he murmurs.

Jimin’s smile turns into something softer. “I came to your concert. The one in Japan.”

Yoongi blinks in surprise. “I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t want you to,” he says easily.

“How are you?” Yoongi searches his face for the answer, wonders if it’s been too long for Jimin to tell him the truth.

“I’m okay. Work is hard, but there are a lot of really wonderful things.”

“That’s good. I’m glad.”

“And you?”

Yoongi shrugs thoughtfully. “Some days are better than others, you know?”

“Yeah. I know.”

“We didn’t do so badly for ourselves.” Yoongi gives Jimin another onceover.

“No, we didn’t do so bad,” Jimin laughs. “I was wondering. You wanna grab drinks sometime?”

Yoongi’s heartbeat stutters. “Only if they’re on you.”

“That was the deal, wasn’t it?”

“That was the deal,” Yoongi agrees, and thinks of a different time. A time when Jimin’s eyes had glowed with wonder just from the sight of a hotel chandelier.

Someone spills out the open front door of the mansion, glass of alcohol in hand, and calls for Jimin.

Jimin glances back toward the house, sighs, and slips his hands into his pockets. “I’ll see you around,” he says, and Yoongi nods.

“See you around, Jimin.”

Jimin heads back toward the party. Halfway there, he pauses, glances back, and lifts his hand in a wave.