It’s been one hour.
“Listen,” Jin says, voice deathly calm and knuckles stark white against the steering wheel, “if I feel another kick I swear to shit I’ll leave you all at the side of the road.”
He hears a giggle, definitely Jeongguk’s, muffled by skin and maybe someone’s finger in his mouth. Then, there’s the unmistakable prod of toes against his spine and Jin doesn’t even look behind himself when he flings his arm back and makes contact, Hoseok whining that it “wasn’t even me, hyung” and Namjoon pleading for him to get both hands back on the wheel.
Jeongguk had been the one to suggest the trip, surprisingly, bringing it up in conversation over a rare dinner that they’re all together.
“My uncle is selling his summer home,” he says, and it hits Jin right in the chest that Jeongguk is nervous, is embarrassed about this, so he smacks Taehyung on the back of the head to stop his whispering. “He said I could invite some friends before he does.”
"Near the beach?” Jin asks, leaning forward. “We could drive.”
Namjoon nods and wrestles his phone from Hoseok.
“It’s not likely,” he says, warning, but Jin dissects hope from his voice, “we have a comeback in-”
“Six weeks,” Yoongi says, “they’ll let us go.”
“We’ll probably have to keep up with diet and workouts.”
“Still,” Hoseok sighs, wistfully, “a vacation.”
Jeongguk hasn’t spoken, but his eyes are shining brighter than Jin’s seen them in a long, long time.
“We need this,” he says, “just a week.”
Jeongguk looks up at him gratefully.
“It’s not me you have to convince, hyung,” Namjoon says, standing, “I’ll call, but if it sounds like it’s not going well, send Jeonggukie in.”
Jin drives. Not because he’s the only one who can, but because he can work with the weight, the heavy-set of six other lives on his shoulders. He doesn’t think about that, but Namjoon does, and Yoongi doesn’t trust himself half as much as they trust him.
“I need to piss,” Taehyung says, “really bad, hyung.”
A check in the rearview shows him Jeongguk with his head in Yoongi’s lap, sleeping soundly as Yoongi taps on his phone. Hoseok’s sprawled across Taehyung and Jimin in the middle seat, head lolling as he dozes.
“Like, ‘pull over right now,’ bad?” Jin asks, “or ‘I can hold it till we find a rest-stop,’ bad?”
“I’m about to piss my fucking pants, bad,” Taehyung says, and Hoseok jumps off of him with a screech, knees drawn up to his chest. Jeongguk’s head appears from behind the row of seats, hair dishevelled and plastered flat on one side.
“Taehyung pissed himself?”
“No,” Jin says, exasperated, “he did not-”
“I’m about to,” Taehyung warns, fidgeting, “like. In T minus three minutes.”
“Why couldn’t you have gone before we left?”
“I didn’t have to go before we left!”
Namjoon curses beside him as he swerves, avoiding a semi-truck to take the exit and pull into a flickering gas station. Taehyung’s out before the car’s fully stopped, and Jin drops his head back against the rest to rub his eyes.
“Nobody give him liquid,” he sighs. Namjoon sets a hand on his shoulder, squeezing, “he’s not allowed more than a sip of water every hour.”
“How much longer?” Jeongguk asks, stretching and narrowly avoiding sticking a finger in Yoongi’s eye.
“Six more hours,” Namjoon says, “factoring in piss breaks and stopping for food, and if Jin-hyung wants to nap for a little bit.”
“I’m good,” He says, but his chest goes warm at the thought that Namjoon stopped to consider that, consider him , “I can do it.”
“Are you sure?” Namjoon asks. “You’ll be really tired when we get there, and your hands-”
“I have my splint,” Jin answers, quietly, “It’ll be okay.”
Taehyung throws open the car door, shoving Jimin over to sit down and drop an armful of snacks on Hoseok’s lap.
“Did you take your medicine?” Jimin asks Jeongguk, sighing when Jeongguk shakes his head no. It’s tired, but fond, and Jin waits to start the car so Yoongi can reach back into the trunk and extract Jeongguk’s allergy meds from his suitcase.
Jeongguk swallows the pill and lays his head back on Yoongi’s lap, eyelashes fluttering closed as Jin pulls onto the highway, the sun dropping quickly down below the horizon.
Hour two has Taehyung reaching into the front seat and fiddling with the radio. Jimin and Jeongguk sing along to pop songs, and Hoseok dances the choreo the best he can in less than a square foot of space, Jimin narrowly avoiding an elbow to the crotch as he joins in. Namjoon guides him quietly, voice rough and low as the city-lights make the naked expanse of highway glow. Jimin climbs into the backseat, switching places with Jeongguk to get Yoongi to run his hands through his hair, and after a few minutes it’s quiet as death. Jin can hear the efforts of the engine and the mingling sounds of different music through different headphones. Namjoon cracks his knuckles and its a gunshot, a ‘pop’ like fireworks.
“You’re okay?” He asks, for maybe the tenth time. Jin nods.
A rustle, as Namjoon shifts to tuck a leg under himself and face Jin, taking one of his hands off the wheel and sliding the splint on. Switching hands entails Namjoon leaning close, breath warm on the back of Jin’s neck as he maneuvers the splint around his fingers.
“Feels better?” He asks, pulling back.
“Yeah,” Jin answers, “thank you.”
Namjoon just shrugs, reclining his seat and plugging a headphone in.
Hour three has Jimin sleeptalking and wrapping Yoongi in an inescapable tangle of limbs.
Jin watches it happen in the rearview and tries not to laugh at Yoongi’s expression growing steadily more panicked as Jimin tucks himself into his side and mumbles something that makes his cheeks burn fuschia.
“Just shove him off,” he jokes, and Yoongi stares at him, horrified.
Jeongguk stirs in the middle seat, a hand splayed over Taehyung’s face and his toes under Hoseok’s ass.
“Hungry,” Hoseok mutters, “Jin-hyung, food, please. I’m wasting away.”
“We’ll stop in an hour,” Namjoon tells him. Hoseok doesn’t argue, only tangles himself further with Jeongguk and Taehyung and starts snoring again. Yoongi’s resigned himself, it seems, carding his fingers absently through Jimin’s hair with one hand and swiping on his phone with the other. He makes eye contact with Jin through the rearview and shrugs, a warm blush feathering over the bridge of his nose and up his cheeks.
Hour four has Jin taking the next exit just as Hoseok’s stomach growls loud enough to rouse Jeongguk, eyes still closed as he kicks Taehyung off of him.
Jin can hear Yoongi whispering to Jimin to wake up, and Jimin’s soft, muttered answers in rough satoori.
Namjoon shifts in his sleep, head lolling. Jin finds it a little harder to concentrate when Namjoon curls inwards, drawing his hoodie tighter around himself and sniffling.
Namjoon’s always been attractive , Jin’s not blind, but it’s always been in the best-friend, boyish sense. In sleep, though, in the relaxed set of his face and the gentle cadence of his breathing, he makes Jin’s skin ribcage feel too small for his heart.
“Joonie,” he says, and Namjoon’s eyebrows crease, “hey. We’re getting food.”
Namjoon hugs himself tighter. Jin’s heart backflips.
“French fries,” he tries, “milkshakes.”
Namjoon opens one eye, then sits up, stretching his arms high above his head. Jin doesn’t look at him, keeping his eyes trained on the road ahead, but he still doesn’t miss the way Namjoon’s t-shirt rides up a little and how it sends his mind reeling.
They get food Jin’s sure he’ll hate himself for eating later, fries and fried chicken and milkshakes, and the air in the car tastes like salt when Jin starts the car again. Yoongi sits passenger, now, head resting against the window and headphones on. His hair is messy, out of place.
“You’re okay?” Jin asks. Yoongi doesn’t answer, and Jin thinks for a second that he didn’t hear him, but then he’s turning to face Jin and shaking his head. He doesn’t want to talk about it, he never does, but he accepts Jin’s hand and holds onto it like a lifeline.
Hour five has them pulling over to dig painkillers out of Jin’s suitcase, Jimin’s migraine strong enough that the light has him close to tears, his head turned into Namjoon’s chest.
“Hyung,” he says, and it’s a sob, “I’m gonna-”
He nearly falls out of the car to make it to the side of the road, and Jin can see the knobs of his spine when he doubles over and heaves. Taehyung gets to him first, rubbing circles into Jimin’s back and helping him stand. Yoongi’s second, an arm around Jimin’s shoulder as he brings a water bottle to his lips and whispers something to him that Jin can’t hear. Jimin shakes his head.
It doesn’t hit him until they’re back on the highway, Hoseok beside him, that Jimin hadn’t eaten, that he hadn’t seen him eat since yesterday, maybe? The day before?
“Tae,” he says, and Taehyung leans forward to hear him, “did you see Jimin eat?”
Taehyung eyes widen, and he wrings his hands.
“No,” he says, guiltily, “not since yesterday, I think.”
“It’s not your responsibility,” he hears Yoongi say, then, “come here.”
Taehyung’s thin, too, Jin thinks, but healthy. He’d been lost in his frame the first time they’d met. He’s wiry, now, tall, not muscled like Jeongguk but he can hold his own when they roughhoused.
They’d all dieted, all restricted calories to the point that it was difficult to do anything besides sleep and avoid the kitchen as much as possible, but when the other’s plans became more lax, Jimin’s held him tighter, stripped him of the give of his cheeks and the sweet curve of his smile.
Jeongguk hugs him close in the middle seat, his hand in Jimin’s and his eyes open and focused upwards. Hoseok taps Jin’s shoulder.
“He’ll be okay,” he says, and it’s warm and reassuring in the way everything Hoseok says is, “it looks bad now, but he’s strong, and we love him.”
Jin wants nothing more than to pull over again and gather Jimin into his arms and hold him, transfer all the love he has for him into Jimin’s small body.
He wants to cry like he did when he’d broken his arm in grade school (and this hurts far worse), loud, ugly sobs that make it difficult to breathe, like his lungs can’t fill up quite enough before they spit air out again. There’s an itch at the back of his throat, sharp and painful when he swallows.
Namjoon extracts himself from beneath Jeongguk and Jimin, leaning into Jin’s space.
“Pull over,” he says, “switch with me.”
“You don’t have your license.”
“I need to practice if I ever want to get it.”
“You need sleep, hyung,” Hoseok agrees, and Jin gives in, weaving through the few cars ahead of him to park at the side of the highway.
Namjoon has to help him out of the car, his legs are so stiff, and he holds him for a few seconds that feel like centuries before helping him step into the backseat. Hoseok smiles at him, something intuitive behind his wide grin, and Jin rolls his eyes before leaning on Jeongguk’s other side and letting the white noise of the highway lull him to sleep.
Hour six has Jin dipping in and out of broken consciousness and shattered, fragmented dreams that confuse themselves uncomfortably with reality.
Someone pets his hair when he wakes up shaking, his fingers twisted tightly into their shirt and his knees drawn up to his chest, and he can’t remember the dream but he knows it was a nightmare.
“I think he has a fever.” Jeongguk’s voice, soft and nervous.
Jin feels a cool palm on his forehead, against his neck, then back to stroking through his bangs, the front of them soaked with sweat.
“We’re almost there,” Namjoon says. Jin opens his eyes as a water bottle is pressed to his lips, Yoongi’s hand supporting the back of his head and Taehyung tipping the bottle gently.
It hurts his throat, sharp, blistering pain that starts tears pricking at the corners of his eyes, but Yoongi talks to him lowly and Jimin holds his hand.
“You’re dehydrated,” Yoongi tells him, “we’ve got you, but you have to help us out, hyung.”
Jin sits up and drinks the rest, his head throbbing.
They reach the beach house a little after the sun’s gone down, Namjoon easing the car over gravel and sand until they’re pulling into a dirt driveway. It’s painted the color of coral and worn in the way houses near the ocean tend to be, the windows shuttered by blue panels.
The air stings Jin’s lungs, too clean and fresh, and Jeongguk gets an arm around his waist to help him up rickety, creaking steps.
Jin sees Yoongi clap Namjoon on the back in his periphery, pulling him into a hug.
“Good job,” Yoongi says, “you should take the driving test when we get home.”
Namjoon blushes, shrugging Yoongi’s hand off in embarrassment.
“You’re so skinny,” Jeongguk complains, when Jin’s elbow gets him in the side after a particularly broken step nearly gives out on them, “you need to eat more.”
Jin’s stomach pangs at the thought of food.
“I’ll get him, Jeonggukkie,” and then Jin’s disoriented again as Namjoon lifts him up, his arm in the crook of Jin’s knees.
Jeongguk grins toothily.
“Hyung’s been working out!” He says, and prods Namjoon’s arm.
“Move,” Namjoon says, because Jin’s not light, by any means, but he still carries him up the remaining steps and doesn’t put him down until they reach the weather-beaten couch in the living room.
“You overwork yourself,” Namjoon tells him, chiding, but there’s an acrid undertone of worry in his words, in the set of his jaw. “You’re not getting up from this couch.”
Jin nods, and even the simple movement makes his head throb.
Namjoon pushes Jin’s hair off his forehead, his other hand coming up to rest against Jin’s cheek.
Hoseok sticks his head through the entrance and Namjoon yanks his hands away.
“Um,” Hoseok says, “Jimin and Tae are fighting over rooms. Jeonggukkie already ate most of what we brought with us. And I can’t find Yoongi-hyung.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” Namjoon drags a hand over his face and meets Jin’s eyes, guiltily, “I don’t want to go back out there,” he confesses.
“Go,” Jin gets out, “send Jimin in here, please?”
Namjoon reaches out, and Jin thinks he’ll touch him again, but his hand just hovers beside Jin’s head before dropping back to his side.
“Okay,” he says, sombre, soft, “Feel better, hyung. Jiminie!”
Jin hears Jimin’s light, quick footsteps before he sees him, features dwarfed by his huge sweater and the cotton duck mask Jin had bought him years ago hooked over his ears. Jimin climbs onto the couch beside him and burrows into his side, fingers clutching tight to Jin’s arms.
Jin can feel Jimin’s ribs through his sweater when he situates himself to rest on his chest, his hair tickling Jin’s nose.
“I love you,” Jin says, and Jimin goes rigid, his breaths coming shallow and short, “you know that, right? And I’ll do anything to make sure you’re okay.”
Jin feels him relax, feels his fingers loosen in the fabric of his shirt and his shoulders release their tension. A small hand comes up to touch his forehead.
“You’re so sick, hyung,” Jimin sighs, snuggling closer, “I love you, too.”
Jin doesn’t remember closing his eyes, doesn’t remember falling asleep. When he wakes up, he’s sweating, Jimin’s gone, and Namjoon’s sitting on the floor beside the couch tapping at his phone.
He has enough strength to kick Namjoon in the shoulder and whine before his headache starts up again.
“Hey,” Namjoon says, kneeling beside him, “Yoongi-hyung bought you a thermometer. Open up.”
Jin listens, mindlessly, and Namjoon sticks the cold metal beneath his tongue.
“Almost 39,” he sighs, “right. Cold shower first, or eat?”
“You don’t really have a choice,” Namjoon gets one of Jin’s arms around his neck and picks him up again. Jin doesn’t think when he rests his head just above Namjoon’s heart, close enough that he can feel it’s steady, constant beat. “We’ll get you in the shower and then you can have soup.”
“Please,” Jin begs, curling his feet up when Namjoon tries to put him down on the bathroom tile, “I’ll shower tomorrow.”
“You have a bad fever, hyung.”
“I’ll shower tomorrow, I promise-”
There’s a knock on the door and Yoongi pokes his head into the bathroom.
“Go to the beach,” he tells Namjoon, “make sure Jeongguk and Tae haven’t drowned each other.”
Namjoon opens his mouth to argue, but Yoongi waves him off.
Yoongi’s surprisingly warm, and he hugs Jin to his chest as he gets the water running, his voice low and soft as he talks Jin through tugging his clothes off.
“Five minutes,” Yoongi promises, helping Jin into the tub, “just five minutes. We have to get your fever down.”
The water’s so cold it’s nearly painful; Jin’s grounded only by Yoongi’s strong hands gently shampooing his hair and rubbing soap into his skin. Taehyung comes in with three towels and Yoongi wraps Jin in all of them, drying his hair and helping him into a large hoodie he recognizes as Namjoon’s.
He walks Jin into the living room to sit in front of the fireplace, and Taehyung sets a tray with a bowl of soup in his lap, sitting across from Jin and holding a spoonful up to his mouth.
“I can feed myself,” Jin says, and winces at how weak his voice sounds.
Taehyung purses his lips but hands Jin the spoon, shifting to sit beside him instead and rest his head on Jin’s knee.
“Are you feeling better?” He asks, and Jin mutters a yes around his spoon. “Maybe you’ll be okay to come to the beach tomorrow! Jeonggukkie tried to push Jimin over and tripped and ate about a pint of sand.”
Taehyung, fortunately, got the entire scene on his snapchat story, and Jin spends about fifteen minutes laughing at a loop of Jeongguk eating shit in the sand before Namjoon comes in and scolds Taehyung for distracting him.
“That’s my hoodie,” Namjoon says, suddenly, after Taehyung’s evacuated the living room to avoid further lecturing. It’s less of an accusation and more of an observative fact; Jin finds himself hoping Namjoon won’t ask for it back. “It looks good on you.”
He’s shirtless, Jin’s sick, slow mind comprehends, and it sends heat to his cheeks. Namjoon’s feet are bare and covered in sand, his skin tan and glowing and perfect , and Jin aches with guilt.
“Can I keep it?” Jin asks, and the words taste selfish. “I’m cold.”
“Yeah,” he says, “yeah. Of course.”
Jin’s lightheaded again. Namjoon’s across the room and beside him in what feels like a second, his palm warm and firm at the small of Jin’s back.
Jin says, and hopes it comes out clear, “Dizzy.”
Namjoon sits him up straight.
“Finish your soup and then we’ll get you some medicine. Hobi and Yoongi-hyung went back out to the pharmacy a few minutes ago.”
Jimin pads in, hair still damp and dressed in an oversized t shirt and boxers.
“Soup?” Namjoon offers him, and Jimin nods yes, digging into his bowl when Namjoon sets it down in front of him.
Jin eats too, partly to encourage Jimin, and partly because his stomach begs him for it. Yoongi and Hoseok get home a few minutes after he finishes, and Jeongguk and Taehyung have joined him and Jimin in front of the fire.
Yoongi lines up a handful of pills before Jin, painkiller, fever reducer, anti-nausea, and tosses Jeongguk his bottle of anti-allergy ones.
“The pharmacist said you probably have a twenty-four hour bug of some sort,” Hoseok says, slipping the thermometer back under Jin’s tongue, “at least your fever’s gone. Are you tired?”
Jin didn’t notice his eyelids slipping shut until Jeongguk’s nudging him back awake.
“Come on,” Hoseok says, offering him a hand up. Jin takes it and lets himself be pulled to his feet, Hoseok’s gentle hands keeping him upright and one of Jeongguk’s strong arms around his shoulders to keep him balanced. “Sleeping it off is probably your best bet.”
Jeongguk lets him down onto the bed and gets the blankets situated around him, flitting nervously around Jin’s bedside.
“Thanks, Jeonggukkie,” Jin says, reaching a hand out. Jeongguk takes it, surprisingly, and sits at the edge of the bed.
“I was scared,” he tells Jin, voice low, “when you started shaking in the car. I thought it was a seizure, or something.”
Jeongguk bends down so his head rests on Jin’s shoulder.
“It’s okay,” Jin says, and strokes a hand through Jeongguk’s hair, “I have nightmares when I’m sick. It’s no big deal.”
“Want me to stay here?”
He can see the shine of Jeongguk’s eyes even in the low light.
“You don’t have to,” he tells him.
“I’ll get Namjoon-hyung,” Jeongguk says, and then he’s gone without waiting for an answer.
Jin’s half asleep when he feels the bed dip beside him. There’s a rush of cold air as the blanket shifts.
“Sorry,” Namjoon whispers, “I’m gonna sleep here tonight, so wake me up if you need anything, okay?”
Jin feels himself nod, and then there’s an arm slung over him and long legs tangling with his own. He feels the tug of sleep behind his eyelids, strong, and Namjoon’s breathing has already evened out into the telltale, slow cadence of someone sleeping.
His stomach hurts. He can’t discern whether it’s from nausea or from Namjoon’s proximity, his gentle fingers rubbing circles into Jin’s hips in his sleep, his clean-laundry and cinnamon scent that Jin feels like he’s drowning in.
Jin sits up, wriggling out from beneath Namjoon’s arm, and throws up on the floor beside the bed, his throat aching and his eyes prickling painfully.
“Joonie,” he manages, and Namjoon stirs, rubbing his eyes, “I’m sorry, I threw up-”
“Hey,” he says, sleepily, and reaches out to pat Jin on the back, “don’t say sorry, it’s alright. Let’s get you to the bathroom.”
He helps Jin swing his legs around the mess and practically carries him to the sink, setting him up with a toothbrush and a fresh hoodie (another one of his own) before going to clean up.
“I brought you the anti-nausea stuff,” Namjoon says, from the bathroom doorway. His pants are rolled up to his knees and his tshirt is too large, hanging off of one shoulder. “I don’t think you have a fever anymore, at least.”
Jin tastes salt when he licks his lips, and then Namjoon’s at his side again, wiping his thumbs below Jin’s eyes to siphon away tears.
“Why’re you crying?” He asks, rocking Jin nervously, “did I say something, hyung? I’m sorry if I did, don’t cry-”
“Not your fault,” Jin gets out, hiccupping, and he’s sure he must look terrible, toothpaste caked at the side of his mouth and his nose running, “I’m tired, I guess. And everything hurts.”
“Oh,” he unwinds a little, “I can go get painkillers?”
“I just want to sleep,” Jin says, and then there’s a strong hand in his own, pulling him up off the bathroom floor.
This time, he hugs Jin flush to his chest, Jin’s back against his stomach. Jin can feel each inhale, every exhale, and the beating thrum of Namjoon’s heart. Exhaustion eventually beats out adrenaline, the weight of sleep on Jin’s eyelids knocking him backwards into unconsciousness.
He wakes up warm, coaxed from sleep by sunlight. He and Namjoon had drifted during the night, but their legs are still tangled and they’re curled toward each other like magnets. There’s a lingering itch at the back of his throat as he coughs, but when Hoseok knocks on the door and tugs it open, his nose is clear enough to smell coffee.
“Feeling a little better?” Hoseok asks, bringing him the mug. “The kids are already at the beach. Jiminie ate toast, and Tae got him to drink a glass of milk.”
Coffee repairs his senses a little, and Jin accepts the hand Hoseok offers him to help him up. Namjoon rolls into the space he’d vacated, wrapping himself further into the blanket.
“I’ll go down to the beach with you if you’re up for it,” Hoseok says, “and there’s breakfast if you want to eat. You haven’t had more than soup and french fries for the past day.”
Jin’s stomach answers for him, growling, and Hoseok slips his hand into Jin’s and leads him to the kitchen. Yoongi sits perched on the counter, his hair damp and his glasses on.
“Are we going?” He asks, looking from Jin to Hoseok, and there’s an easy shine to Yoongi’s eyes and a glow to his skin that Jin missed in Seoul. “The weather’s actually really nice.”
“As soon as hyung eats,” Hoseok says, and pushes Jin into a chair. “We’ve got cornflakes, toast, and leftover soup.”
He shovels down a few bowls of cereal before Hoseok takes one of his hands to squeeze a dollop of sunscreen into.Yoongi hops down from the counter and trails behind them, pocketing his phone to close the screen door as they leave.
The sand is cool between his toes, soothing, and Jin hasn’t been to the beach without a camera crew and a face caked with makeup in forever. He can see the kids wading a few yards into the ocean, Jimin seated on Jeongguk’s shoulders and Taehyung’s head bobbing above clear, blue waves.
The sun hangs heavy above the water, dripping with light.
Hoseok kicks off his shoes the minute they reach the shoreline and runs to shove Taehyung over as he gets drenched by an oncoming wave, and it’s familiar, achingly lovely, even just sitting on wet sand and watching. He can taste the sea, the salt and the brine of seaweed on the back of his palate. Sand itches his calves and gets deep beneath his fingernails.
Yoongi kicks a tangle of kelp away and sits beside him, drawing his knees up and resting his arms on them.
It’s easy with Yoongi, it always has been. They’d been roommates for so long that Jin knows how long it takes him to finish a cup of coffee in the morning, how the rhythm of his breathing changes from sleepy to asleep, how his heart is soft and full, besides what anyone else may think.
“Are you and Joon-ah,” Yoongi starts, quietly. He looks up to make sure the rest are still busy. “Are you-”
Together . The word stays unsaid.
“No,” Jin says, because they’re not , but they are , in every sense of the word. “I don’t know.”
“Okay,” Yoongi wrings his hands, “because you know it’d be fine, right? If you were? And even if the company wasn’t okay with it, we’d all stand by you two.”
Jin feels his heart expanding, ballooning to twice its size. It’s a big thing to say, and Jin knows Yoongi knows it too.
There’s footsteps, then, muffled by dry sand then pronounced on the wet shore, and Namjoon’s dropping himself on Jin’s other side with a sigh.
“You were supposed to be sleeping,” Jin says, as Namjoon stretches his arms above his head and yawns.
“I didn’t want to miss out on anything,” he replies, “I can sleep in Seoul. When are we ever going to get to do this again?”
His fingertips are centimeters from Jin’s, digging gently into the sand.
“Yeah,” he agrees, and edges his hand a little closer, because when are we ever going to get to do this again?
Namjoon doesn’t notice. Yoongi does, and hops to his feet too fast, wobbling a little in the sand.
“I’m gonna,” he says, and gestures vaguely in Jimin’s direction, “water.”
It’s the first time Jin’s seen Yoongi run in months, and it’s then that the half-centimeter between his hand and Namjoon’s becomes apparent, cavernous, and Jin’s always been scared of heights but he takes this leap and does it , touching the pads of his fingers to the back of Namjoon’s hand.
Namjoon jumps. He jolts before turning to face Jin with eyes wide like saucers, like he’d been electrocuted, and Jin’s about to pull his hand back and think of the best way to drown himself in the ocean without anyone noticing when Namjoon turns his palm face up and laces their fingers together.
Namjoon smiles at him, and it’s the same one as yesterday, as the day before, as the day they met. They sit, quietly, palms together and fingers intertwined. The sun droops lower, lower, painting the sea pink, and Jin can see Yoongi and Jimin’s silhouettes shifting closer near the tide pool. Jeongguk and Taehyung play a disjointed game of chicken with Hoseok, Taehyung on Hoseok’s shoulders and Jeongguk trying with all his might to push them both into the water.
Getting everyone back to the house is a pain, but Jin’s glad he has enough energy to help, herding Jeongguk and Taehyung onto the porch and patting them down to shake as much sand from them as possible.
Jimin’s on Yoongi’s back, fast asleep. Yoongi carries him into the house, his every step careful and calculated, freezing when Jimin shifts a little and tries to get closer.
“Give him to me, hyung,” Hoseok says, and then he’s lifting Jimin off of Yoongi’s back and helping him stand, drying off his arms and legs and getting an arm around his shoulders. “Wake up, Jiminie, we’re home.”
Yoongi mutters something about getting drinks and disappears, the tops of his ears flame-red.
“You think he’ll ever tell him?” Namjoon asks from behind him, sidling close. “My bet’s on within the next month.”
“Before the trip’s over,” Jin says, and turns around to face Namjoon, back against the screen door, “there’s something about this place.”
Namjoon reaches out, flattening a cowlick at the side of Jin’s head. His hand stays there for a moment before straying, resting easily at the side of Jin’s neck.
Jin’s heart climbs into his throat, and he can feel it when he swallows. He’s sweating, he notices, the humidity combined with the beat of his pulse.
“Are you okay?” Namjoon asks, quietly. He’s close enough Jin can see the dilation of his pupils and the anxious way he bites his lip.
“No,” Jin says, truthfully, “I’m nervous.”
Jin’s imagined how Namjoon would kiss, toying with the idea of him being timid, confident, or playful, teetering in between. Nothing he’d thought of holds a candle to Namjoon sliding his hand around to cup the back of Jin’s neck, painfully gentle, and leaning in till he’s a breath away.
Namjoon looks at him, then, stares at him till Jin’s fidgeting a little, held in place by his hands and his gaze.
“Yah,” he says, softly, “Namjoonie, are you going to do anything, or not?”
“Do you want me to?” Namjoon asks him. Then, he’s smiling, a crooked, honest grin Jin hasn’t seen from him in awhile.
“Jin-hyung!” Jeongguk calls, and they barely have time to spring apart before Jeongguk’s sticking his head through the screen. “Namjoon-hyung, drinks! Yoongi-hyung said we couldn’t start without you.”
Jin clears his throat.
“Thanks, Jeonggukkie,” he says, shifting past Namjoon and inside. A glance behind him shows him that Namjoon’s blushing, red across his cheekbones and the slender line of his neck.
In the kitchen, Hoseok and Yoongi are pouring shots, bottles of soju and vodka on the counter.
“I bought the vodka,” Hoseok says, “and Jeon-ssi said we could have whatever was in the house, so,” he hands a shot to Jin, raising his own glass to him, “to Jeongguk’s rich uncle.”
Jin closes his eyes and drinks, and his throat feels like it’s on fire, the alcohol numbing the edge off of his nerves. Namjoon’s beside him when he opens his eyes, taking a glass off the counter and tapping it against Yoongi’s before downing it.
“God, that’s horrible,” he says, and picks up another one.
In the living room, Taehyung’s already giggly, leaning heavily on Jimin’s shoulder as he tips a glass past his lips. Jeongguk sits sprawled on the couch, sulking, arms crossed.
“They only let me have one shot,” he complains to Jin, “I’m twenty, I’m allowed to drink.”
Jin hands his own over and ruffles Jeongguk’s hair.
“Let’s play a game,” Jimin says, cheeks pink like they’ve been pinched, “truth or dare.”
“No,” Yoongi says, “I’m going to bed.”
Hoseok grabs onto his ankle to keep him in place
“If you don’t answer or you don’t do the dare, you drink.” Jimin says. Jin can already feel his head starting to pound.
“I’ll go first,” Taehyung says, pushing himself upright, “Jeonggukkie. Truth or dare?”
“Fuck,” Jeongguk mutters, “please don’t make me kiss anyone. Dare.”
Taehyung dares him to shave his legs, the little hair that Jeongguk’s managed to grow on them during their time off eradicated with a few sweeps of Jin’s razor. Taehyung rubs his cheek against Jeongguk’s shin when he finishes.
“Your turn,” he says, hugging Jeongguk’s bare leg. Jeongguk’s tipsy enough to allow it, settling a hand in Taehyung’s hair.
“Jimin,” he says, and grins, machiavellian and glinting, “truth or dare?”
“Truth,” Jimin says, tentatively. He shifts where he’s sitting next to Jin.
“Have you ever jerked off to any of us?”
Jimin turns red almost immediately, covering his face with his hands as he ducks into himself.
“That answers it,” Hoseok laughs, “who was it?”
“That wasn’t the question,” Namjoon interjects, “pour me a shot.”
It’s silent, for a moment. Through the corner of his eye, Jin sees Jimin nod at Namjoon in thanks.
“Hobi-hyung,” Jimin says, finally, “pick.”
“Dare, Jiminie,” Hoseok tilts head, cocky and sure, “do your worst.”
A quick glance at Jin, and Jimin’s baring all his teeth in a grin.
“Give Namjoon-hyung a strip tease.”
Jin chokes on his own spit as Hoseok just shrugs, crawling across their circle and planting himself atop Namjoon’s thighs.
“Hi,” he says, faux-coy, and Namjoon can only sputter out a hello.
Taehyung’s already laughing, doubled over into Jeongguk’s chest. Jeongguk’s watching through his fingers and Yoongi rests his chin on his hand in mild interest.
Hoseok drags a palm down his own chest, grabbing the hem of his tshirt and tugging it till he can bite it between his front teeth. He moves his hips, sinuous and slow, as he lifts his shirt up over his head and presses flush against Namjoon’s chest.
Jin feels his blood boil hot.
Hoseok flicks open the button of his jeans and Namjoon gapes like a fish, his hands flying to Hoseok’s hips, most likely to still him, but Jin’s mind clouds incorrigibly with jealousy.
“That’s enough,” he gets out, “let’s not make this obscene.”
“It was just getting good, hyung,” he whines, but he climbs gracefully off of Namjoon and does his jeans back up, crawling back over to his spot next to Yoongi. Namjoon coughs, awkwardly. “Tae, truth or dare?”
“Dare,” Taehyung says, hiccupping a little. He has the worst alcohol tolerance out of all of them and Jin had forgotten to keep track of how many shots he’d taken.
“Run naked through the waves,” Hoseok says, smugly, “ that’s a dare, Jiminie.”
Jimin sticks his tongue out, but he’s smiling easily, his head resting right next to Yoongi’s thigh.
Taehyung’s already started stripping, shedding his tshirt and kicking off his shorts as Jeongguk pokes him in the sides.
They all trek outside to watch, the visibility nearly clear as day with the light of the moon. Taehyung shucks off his boxers; Jin can see the raise of goosebumps on his arms.
“It’s cold,” he complains, but takes a step into the water.
“You can drink,” Hoseok calls out, “but we’ll never let you live it down.”
Taehyung ribs move as he takes a deep breath and sprints towards an oncoming wave, and for a second, Jin can’t see him. Then, the water calms and Taehyung’s standing stock still, naked as the day, calf-deep in ocean water.
“I’ve got a towel for you, Tae,” Namjoon shouts, opening his arms, and Taehyung lets himself be wrapped in it.
“Fuck,” he shivers, teeth chattering, “ cold .”
Hoseok’s laughing, ruffling Taehyung’s hair and hugging him close, soaking his own clothes in the process.
Taehyung’s shivering a little less by the time they reach the house. He presses his wet hair against Jin’s shoulder, asking, sits surprisingly still as Jin dries his hair and combs his bangs out of his eyes.
“Thanks,” Taehyung says, and sits himself down right between Jin’s legs. “Yoongi-hyung,” he says, “truth or dare?”
“Drink,” Yoongi answers, “pour up.”
“He’s not allowed to do that, right?” Jeongguk protests, as Hoseok shrugs and pours Yoongi a shot. “That’s against the rules.”
Yoongi downs it, coughing a little into his elbow.
“Too late,” he says, leaning against the couch, “do we have any more soju?”
It dies down after that, Taehyung falling asleep against Jin’s chest and Jeongguk tapping out around two am, nearly walking into a wall on his way to his, Taehyung’s and Jimin’s room.
Hoseok dares Namjoon to do a body shot off of Yoongi, Yoongi laughing through it as Namjoon licks the vodka out of his collarbone and sits back with a grimace around the lime in his mouth.
Jin laughs too, his jealous edge gone. Then Namjoon, crimson-faced and flustered, dares Yoongi to kiss Jimin, and it’s silent.
“I don’t think I can drink anymore,” Yoongi says, truthfully, his eyelids drooping, “come here, Jiminie.”
“Can I drink?” Jimin asks, weakly, but Hoseok shakes his head. Jimin scoots a little closer to Yoongi, still too far to kiss, and Yoongi rolls his eyes before tugging Jimin in by his ankle. “This was such a bad idea.”
Jin sees Yoongi’s expression flicker, stoic resignation replaced with something vulnerable for a nanosecond, before he’s smiling wryly and leaning in to press his lips against Jimin’s, chaste and quick. It’s over before it starts, but Jimin still looks shell-shocked, unsteady on his feet when he stands.
“I’m gonna go to bed,” he says, setting a palm to his forehead, “I’ll take Tae, too.”
It’s just the four of them, then, in a wobbly semicircle with two and a half bottles of soju left between them.
Hoseok pours them each another shot.
“We don’t have to set good examples anymore,” he jokes, swallowing his own drink with a wince.
Namjoon’s knee touches Jin’s own, heat scorching through the fabric of his sweats. He’s feels as if his skin is too tight, too warm. Namjoon seems simultaneously too close and too far away. Yoongi’s saying something, his head in his hands, and Hoseok’s rubbing his back. Jin has to force his ears to listen.
“Such a bad idea,” Yoongi says, and it sounds dangerously close to a sob, “I should’ve drank. Goddamn it, Joon-ah.”
“I’m sorry, hyung,” Jin hears him say, “I didn’tㅡI wasn’t thinking.”
“He was really drunk,” Hoseok tries, “you both probably won’t remember anything tomorrow morning.”
Yoongi sniffles a little, scrubbing roughly at his eyes.
“Want to go to bed?” Hoseok asks him, leaning close. If it had been anyone besides Hoseok, they’d have gotten shoved off within a second, Jin thinks, but Yoongi nods and lets Hoseok pick him up and set him upright.
Jin grabs a half-empty soju bottle by the neck, dragging it towards himself. Namjoon watches in alarm.
“Don’t say anything,” Jin hears himself say, “just pass me your glass.”
Namjoon obeys, and his fingers brush Jin’s as he hands his cup over. Jin’s hands are clumsy, shaky, dripping alcohol down the sides of the cup and over his fingers. It sends a rush, an electric shock through him when he sees Namjoon watching as he licks up the droplets that settled between his fingers.
“Hyung,” Namjoon says, voice dry, “let’s go to bed.”
Jin tips the bottle back. His throat burns, screams at him to listen.
“Live a little, Joon-ah,” he says, instead, “you wouldn’t make me drink alone, would you?”
Namjoon sits back down, taking his glass from Jin and knocking it back clumsily, screwing his face up as it hits him.
It’s easier not to speak, Jin thinks, when he crawls closer to Namjoon and rests his head on his shoulder. Namjoon gets an arm around him, taking the bottle from Jin’s grip with his free hand and taking a sip.
“I wish they’d just tell each other,” Namjoon says, an arm over his eyes, “it’d save us all a lot of trouble.”
Jin nods in agreement, eyelids drooping.
“And I wish I’d kissed you outside,” Namjoon continues, quietly, “I don’t have enough confidence now.”
His eyes are closed when Jin sits up to look at him. There’s traces of sunburn across the bridge of his nose, bringing out the light freckles they always cover up with makeup or airbrush away in photoshop.
“Your back is going to hurt if you fall asleep like this,” is all Jin can think to say. Namjoon cracks open one eye.
“I’m too drunk to move,” he says.
Jin shakes it head to clear it, only succeeding in making the room spin a little, Namjoon’s features blurring in and out of focus. He might be getting closer, or Jin’s depth perception is so fucked that he’s only imagining it. Namjoon’s hand finds his, sticky from spilled soju, but warm and familiar.
It’s dark, almost stiflingly so; there’s the soft, timid glow of the ebbing fire that casts shadows onto the floor, across Jin’s stomach and Namjoon’s face, and falling asleep has never been easier.
Jin hears the din of fighting before he’s fully aware of where he is. He feels Namjoon shift against his back, roused by noise and light.
“I’d wake up,” Yoongi calls, “Taehyung already has a split lip.”
“Where are they?” He gets out. Yoongi nods towards the porch.
Jin sits up, Namjoon’s arm still across his lap. Sleep cakes his eyes closed and his head throbs, his mouth tasting like death and stale citrus.
Standing is another ordeal, and he makes it to the screen door just as he sees Taehyung reel back to hit his best friend.
“Don’t you dare, Kim Taehyung,” Jin says, and attempts as much authority as he can through the hungover edge in his voice, “step back.”
“Step the fuck back, Tae, or-”
“Hit me,” Jimin interrupts, pressing forward, “do it.”
“Stop.” Namjoon pushes open the screen. “Shut up. Come inside, Jiminie.”
Taehyung struggles against Jin’s hold on his arm, eyes blazing.
“ Do it ,” Jimin hisses, “let him hit me, hyung, let me show him I’m not as helpless as he fucking thinks-”
Taehyung breaks free, a noise like a sob tearing itself from his throat as he lunges for Jimin, fingers twisting tight in his collar. Jin’s thrown backward with the force, his spine knocking roughly against the wall, and Namjoon reaches forward to steady him.
There’s a gruesome, sickening noise as Taehyung’s knuckles connect with the arch of Jimin’s left cheekbone, and then blood, dark and pooling on the white porch. Jin feels his stomach flip.
“Fuck,” Namjoon says, “oh, fuck, Tae-”
Jimin cries as he digs his nails into Taehyung’s neck to push him off, his knee coming up to dig into Taehyung’s ribs.
Namjoon grabs Jimin’s wrist, yanking him backwards as Jin tackles Taehyung and wrenches his hands off of Jimin.
They’re both crying, faces wet and swollen. Jimin’s cheek is swelling already, the beginnings of an ugly bruise painting the left side of his face in hues of plum purple and blue. Taehyung’s shaking; Jin can feel it as he pulls him in to hold him. The scratches on his neck are beginning to bleed.
“Take Jimin inside,” Jin tells Namjoon, “I’ve got Tae.”
Namjoon obeys, wordlessly, practically carrying Jimin back through the door as Taehyung turns his face into Jin’s chest, shivering.
Taehyung doesn’t look at him, his hands clutching the front of Jin’s shirt as he cries, loud, shaking sobs that soak Jin’s collar and break his heart.
“It was my fault,” he says, between hiccupping breaths, “this is going to make me sound like the shittiest person on the planet-”
“I could never think that of you,” Jin says, and brushes Taehyung’s hair from his face. His lip is bleeding, a trickle of blood drying on his chin.
Taehyung nods, breathing deeply.
“I made him breakfast,” he says, quietly, “and he wouldn’t eat it. Yoongi-hyung was basically begging him. And I just didn’t understand why- ”
His voice breaks with frustration, anger, worry. Jin holds him closer.
“I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just try , so I called him weak, and helpless, and he hit me.”
Jin sucks in a breath.
Jimin and Taehyung fight often. Sometimes it gets physical, and their makeup artists scold them for having to cover up a bruise or a mark; usually, it’s words: Jimin’s biting, calculated insults and Taehyung’s abrasive retorts. Taehyung’s as hot tempered as Jimin is pacifying, and they clash in a way that has Jin wondering how they’d managed to live together for so long without tearing each other apart.
“I know I was wrong,” Taehyung manages, “I was so angry, because it feels like we try everything and he doesn’t even want to meet us halfway there. And he hit me first, so.”
Jin runs his fingers through Taehyung’s bangs. They’re too long, now, and get in his eyes, the ends wet with tears. “You have to be more patient, Taehyung-ah. He ate a full breakfast yesterday, didn’t he? He’s getting better, but some days will still be worse than others.”
“You really think you should be apologizing to me?”
Taehyung turns to face him.
“I don’t think he wants to speak to me right now,” he fiddles with his fingers, “I might make him angry again just walking inside.”
“Do you want to go to the beach?” Jin asks, and Taehyung nods, holding tightly to Jin’s hand as they walk down to the shore. The tide is low, and there’s a pool that Taehyung drags him towards, filled with crabs and shells crusting the sides.
It’s hot enough that the sun glinting off of water is blinding and Taehyung’s freckles are visible, across his nose and his bare shoulders.
“I love him,” Taehyung says, finally, his eyes downcast, “different from how Yoongi-hyung loves him, but just as much.”
“I know.” Jin tells him. Taehyung kicks up a cloud of sand, dragging his feet through the shallow water. “How’d you know about Yoongi-ah?”
Taehyung stares at him, quizzically.
“Everyone knows?” He says, slowly. “Everyone except for Jimin, maybe. Hyung’s not very good at hiding it.”
Jin thinks of Yoongi’s small, soft smile, the one he reserves for Jimin, and how he’s infinitely more patient with him than anyone else.
“Don’t tell me you just figured it out, hyung,” Taehyung teases, and Jin kicks sand at him.
He gets sand in his mouth and down his shorts when Taehyung pushes him into a dune, running into the waves before Jin can drag him down, too. They’re joined by Hoseok and Jeongguk before long, Jeongguk picking Taehyung up and carrying him kicking into a wave, drenching them both.
The water washes away some evidence of his and Jimin’s fight, leaving the slight swell of Taehyung’s bottom lip and the raised, pink lines Jimin’s nails dug into his neck.
Hoseok helps Jin up, patting the sand off of him before pulling him into the water.
Jin’s parched when they decide to trek back, about an hour later. His shirt sticks to his back, seawater and sweat gluing his hair to his face. Taehyung and Jeongguk are sunburned, their shoulders and cheeks cherry red, and Jin tries not to laugh as they penguin-walk as fast as they can back to the house.
Namjoon’s waiting for them at the door, in swim shorts and a ratty tshirt with holes at the hem.
“Aloe’s inside,” Namjoon tells the younger two, grinning, “idiots.”
He leans against the doorway, his smile soft, and Jin feels so unbearable fond of him in the half-minute between the first and last step that his heart throbs, beating warm and alive in his chest.
“Did you have a good time?” Namjoon asks him, meeting him halfway in the center of the porch.
“Yeah,” Jin says. He shakes his shirt free of sand onto Namjoon’s bare feet. “Missed you there. Jimin’s okay?”
“He’s okay,” Namjoon confirms, his hands settling easily on Jin’s waist. Jin loops his arms around Namjoon’s neck, wrists overlapping at his nape. His hair is coarse from bleaching, but the roots are healthy, silky on the pads of Jin’s fingers. “He’s better than before.”
“That’s what I told Tae.”
Namjoon nods, and it brings his forehead close enough to rest against Jin’s if he wanted to. He lifts a hand to brush Jin’s hair out of his face. His left hand stays on Jin’s hip, his thumb rubbing gently at the bone there, and Jin’s dipping backwards into the memory of Namjoon holding him while he was asleep, the gentle rise-fall of his breathing and the soft thudding of his heartbeat.
Jin’s breath catches in his throat on its way out, shaky and ragged. Namjoon edges closer. His hand in Jin’s hair trails down to cup the curve of his cheek, and-
Hoseok taps lightly on the screen door, Yoongi hovering behind him, and Jin shoves Namjoon away instinctively.
“There’s no point,” Yoongi calls, “we’ve seen everything.”
“And we’re pretty pissed you guys didn’t tell us,” Hoseok continues, “not that you needed to, it’s not like you’re subtle by any means.”
“Shut up,” Namjoon mutters, “this is the worst day of my life.”
“You have our blessing,” Yoongi deadpans, “have safe sex. I have condoms in my suitcase.”
“Shut up, ” Jin pleads, as Namjoon claps his hands over his ears. “And why the fuck do you have condoms-”
“They haven’t even kissed yet, hyung,” Hoseok interrupts.
“So no sex?”
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“ Please ,” Namjoon begs, and Jin asks, “you’ve been watching us?”
“Of course we’ve been watching you,” Yoongi says, “and it’s a favor . You need all the help you can get.”
“Plus we need to protect the kids from seeing anything indecent,” Hoseok adds, “it’s like watching your parents flirt.”
“They’re far from innocent. Taehyung’s into choking,” Jin protests, “Jeongguk used his first paycheck to subscribe to every porn site he could find, and Jimin-”
“Don’t,” Hoseok cuts him off, “bad idea.”
“Jimin what?” Yoongi asks, shoving past Hoseok. “Jimin’s into what?”
“It’s your turn to cook tonight,” Namjoon switches topics, Yoongi’s narrowed glare shifting from Jin to him, “Jin-hyung’s still recovering, and Jimin and I took care of it last night.”
“I’ll help, hyung,” Hoseok claps Yoongi on the back, “let’s let them finish talking before the tension kills us all.”
Hoseok and Yoongi make jajangmyeon and miraculously don’t burn down the kitchen; Jin burns his tongue and Taehyung manages to drop half his bowl on his shirt, but dinner comes and goes and Hoseok cracks open a bottle of wine he’d managed to unearth from somewhere in the kitchen, pouring them each a disposable cup-full.
The air turns easy, comfortable, and Jin’s delightfully warm and tipsy
Namjoon joins him while he washes dishes. The chore is simple, something Jin’s done nearly every night for years, but the setting is strikingly new and he can watch the sun dripping into the ocean as he rinses their bowls.
“Can I help?” He asks. Jin just moves over a little to make space for him at the sink.
Namjoon sidling up beside him to dry isn’t particularly new, either, but now he’s hyperaware of Namjoon’s hand brushing his as they hand off a dish, of how Namjoon is just incrementally taller than him and it makes his heart race to think that Namjoon could wrap him up, keep him safe. Jin feels the back of his neck burn.
“Hyungs, you have to vote,” Jimin stomps into the kitchen, dragging Taehyung along by the collar.
Jin feels Namjoon nudge him, a silent, happy gesture.
“I think we should watch Big Hero 6. He wants to watch The Notebook,” Taehyung says, slinging an arm around Jimin’s shoulders, “He’s already ruined one of my nice shirts rubbing snot on it when he cried over ‘ if you’re a bird, i’m a- ”
“You have no taste,” Jimin interrupts, “none.”
“Big Hero 6,” Namjoon says, “Jimin will cry anyway.”
“I trusted you, hyung,” Jimin deadpans, “and you, Jin-hyung? You’re going to betray me too?”
“Sorry, Jiminie,” Jin says, apologetically.
Jimin sighs, exasperated, and pulls a smug Taehyung along behind him by his sleeve.
“They’re okay,” Namjoon says, “that’s the fastest they’ve ever made up.”
“Something about this place,” Jin says, echoing last night. Namjoon drops the bowl he’s he’s drying. There’s a rush, a skip in time where Jin has time to register the Look in Namjoon’s eyes, and then he’s pushing Jin up against the cabinet. Jin’s next breath is shared with him, Namjoon’s lips lovely and warm against his, Namjoon’s hands finding home on his hips, in his hair, combing through the tangles at the nape of his neck. It’s everything Jin expected and nothing he’d ever dreamed of; nervous and inelegant and perfect all the same. Namjoon doesn’t seem to care that Jin’s hands are wet and covered in soap where they press him closer by his shoulderblades, only complies and shifts in with a low noise that wakes Jin up in every way possible, igniting nerves he’d forgotten he had.
Namjoon brings a hand up to fit them closer together; Jin can feel the ragged hitch in his breath and it sets something in the pit of his stomach ablaze. He pulls away first, only because his lungs plead for air and he feels dizzy, heady with the burnt-sugar taste of Namjoon’s mouth and the plush of his lips.
“Hold on,” Jin gets out, as Namjoon switches to his jaw, lips pressing up the line of his jugular, “Joonie, Joonie, I think I’m going to pass out.”
Namjoon staggers backwards, and Jin shivers as cold air fills where he was standing.
It’s hard to breathe, even harder so when Namjoon meets his eyes and Jin sees his pupils blown wide, his lips red, slick and a little swollen, and a becoming flush across the bridge of his nose accentuates his freckles. He’s got stubble, too, Jin sees, and vaguely registers feeling the slight scratch of it when he’d dragged his fingers along Namjoon’s jaw.
“Sorry,” he says, a whisper, “I-”
“Come back,” Jin tells him, once he’s caught his breath. Namjoon dodges the bowl on the floor and meets him halfway, and Jin’s heart catches desperately in his throat at the raw need Namjoon clutches at him with, his touch a blissful, strange combination of intense, unbridled want and something delicate and gentle Jin doesn’t think he’s ever felt before.
“I think I-” Namjoon starts, touching their foreheads together, “I’m shaking,” he tells Jin, laughing a little, “what have you done to me, hyung?”
“I could say the same to you,” Jin gets out, and holds a hand up for Namjoon to see the tremble in his fingers. Namjoon touches their palms together, shifting so their hands fit together easily, naturally.
“Let’s go watch the movie,” Namjoon says. Jin kisses him again.
Yoongi stares at them as they walk in. Jin wonders if he can see how light he feels, how full to bursting his heart hangs in his chest. He squeezes in next to Taehyung on the couch, Namjoon settling in on the floor beside Hoseok and stealing the remote from Jeongguk to turn up the volume.
“Must’ve been a lot of dishes to wash,” Taehyung mutters, and Jin elbows him in the ribs.
Jimin does cry, soft tears that have Yoongi tucking him into his side and saying something pressed into his hair. Jimin nods, and wriggles closer to him.
Jin feels Namjoon’s back against his legs. His head leans against Jin’s knees as he looks up him, face glowing with the scintillating light from the television and eyes bright; Jin runs his fingers through Namjoon’s hair, innocuous and familiar enough to the others that no one notices.
“Bed?” Namjoon mouths.
Jin blushes. Nods. Lets Namjoon pick him up from the couch as the credits begin to roll.
It’s late enough that the others are either drowsy or asleep, nodding off on the couch or sprawled on the floor. Namjoon holds his hand as they tiptoe around them, through the hallway, through the bedroom door.
The air is static.
The foot of space between them feels like a canyon, and the atmosphere is charged with something electrifying, almost dangerous. Namjoon takes a step closer, edging Jin backwards until the backs of his knees connect with the bedframe; each breath feels punched out of him, and all he can hear is the hummingbird pulse of his heartbeat in his ears, a drumbeat, the beginnings of a thunderstorm.
Namjoon touches a hand to the nape of Jin’s neck.
“Hyung,” he says, “Jin?” A question, tremulous and heart-wrenching.
“Yeah,” is all Jin can respond with, too loud in his ears, “yes, Namjoonie.”
It’s quiet enough that Namjoon’s short inhale is audible, deafening, almost, and then he’s kissing Jin dizzy, toppling them both over onto the mattress and touching him breathless.
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says again, against Jin’s sternum, “you’re so-”
“Stop apologizing,” Jin tells him, “shut up, please. The more you talk, the less you kiss me.”
“You’re gorgeous,” Namjoon says, reverent, and touches his lips behind Jin’s ear, “so fucking pretty, hyung, I can’t get enough of you.”
Jin’s heart stops. Namjoon’s hands reach his hips, squeeze hard, and-
“Open the door, hyung!” Taehyung’s voice, deep and rough from sleep. “I left my toothbrush in your bathroom.”
Namjoon rolls off of him before Jin can blink, eyes wild and hair mussed, and Jin can’t help but let his eyes wander to the dips of Namjoon’s collarbones where Jin had tugged his shirt to the side, to the low set of his joggers on his hips that give Jin a view of Namjoon’s sharp hipbones and the delicate vee of muscle leading-
Taehyung knocks again, impatient.
“I’m gonna get Yoongi-hyung to pick the lock if you don’t open it.”
“God,” Namjoon mutters, pressing the backs of his hands to his cheeks, “fucking kids , I’m coming, Tae, please just shut the fuck up.”
Taehyung takes his time, smiling widely at Jin and humming as he rummages through the bathroom. Namjoon stands with his back towards the bed, his face in his hands. His ears burn a winsome, blush pink.
“Done yet, Tae?” Jin calls, and Taehyung sticks his head through the door, frowning.
“I guess it’s not in here,” he says, shrugging, “it might be in Yoongi-hyung’s room, I haven’t checked there, yet-hyung? Are you alright?”
“Get out, Kim Taehyung,” Namjoon tells him, calm, calculated fury that sends a bit of a chill through Jin’s spine, “goodnight.”
Taehyung gulps before nodding, whispering a meek ‘goodnight, hyungs’ before tailing it.
“Namjoonie?” Jin asks, climbing off the bed and padding over, tapping Namjoon’s shoulder to turn him around. “It’s okay.”
Namjoon leans his forehead against Jin’s, arms slung easily around his waist.
“You make me really nervous,” he says.
“Not in a bad way,” Namjoon hurries, “just that I want to impress you. And make you happy, I guess. And the most embarrassing or awkward things seem to happen in front of you -”
“I have that effect,” Jin says, and cringes. He’d said it to make Namjoon shut up, but regret churns in his stomach as silence hangs, dripping thickly like molasses.
“You have that effect,” Namjoon laughs, “on everyone. It’s unfair. Remember the first song just the two of us did-”
“ No- ” Jin thumps his fists feebly against Namjoon’s chest, and god , he’s solid; there’s hard muscle where there used to be just skin and bone. “I was so impressed by your English and I didn’t even bother asking you what you were saying.”
Namjoon kisses him, then, tilting his chin up to lick into his mouth, and Jin aches ; Namjoon’s hands don’t stay still anywhere for long, flitting up to Jin’s face, the small of his back, his hips.
“I’m going to take you on a date,” he says, somewhere against the corner of Jin’s mouth, “and buy you dinner. Expensive dinner.”
“Just get me tteokbokki from the convenience store,” Jin tangles his fingers in Namjoon’s hair, “I’m low maintenance.”
“Lies. You use three sheet masks a day, minimum.”
“That’s called giving a fuck , you caveman,” Jin tugs, twining his fingers a little tighter, and the rest of his sentence is stolen by the short, barely there gasp Namjoon gives into his mouth, his hands tensing on Jin’s hips. “Um,” Jin says, “wow.”
“Stop,” Namjoon gets out, “we should stop. I’m-”
He ducks out of Jin’s grasp and takes two, three stumbling steps backwards.
“I’m gonna take a shower.”
Then, he’s gone, and the bathroom door is shutting with a soft click. Jin leaves before he can hear the water running, tiptoeing out to the front door to slip on his shoes.
The light flicks on.
“Can I come with you?” Jeongguk asks. There’s a spot on his chin, Jin notices, another one near his nose.
“Why’re you up?”
“I was playing Overwatch and my laptop died.”
He’s already toeing on his shoes.
“There’s a corner store like a block away, I want samgak-gimbap,” he says, and reaches to grab his wallet from the counter, “come on, hyung.”
It hits him as the soles of his flimsy sandals connect with asphalt that this is his first time off the beach in days; the air is different, tasting less of salt, but still flavored with the brine of a seaside town.
“I used to come here all the time,” Jeongguk says, “my brother and I would stay here for the summer with my uncle.”
“Then I joined,” he smiles, wryly, “my brother still came, though.”
Jin nods, knows Jeongguk can’t see it in the little light of the waning moon. A weak streetlight flickers, only strong enough to illuminate every other step.
“There’s a lot of bullshit that came with becoming an idol,” he says, “and I wasn’t ready for it.”
“None of us were,” Jin tells him.
“You looked like you were,” Jeongguk kicks a rock, watches it skitter, and kicks another one, “it seemed like you were born for it.”
“I practiced, Jeongguk-ah.”
“Not that you didn’t,” Jeongguk amends, “just that it came easier to you. The fan service, and the smiles, and the ‘husband material’ shit.”
Jin smells the convenience store before he sees it, fried food, cigarettes, and alcohol. A neon signs flickers feebly at them, casting shadows over the face of the girl manning the register, popping her gum and swiping absently on her phone.
“I’ll just run in,” Jeongguk says, shuffling his feet, “do you want anything?”
There’s a peeling poster for Giant Tteokbokki on the fogged glass.
“No,” Jin says, and tears a corner of the poster off.
Jeongguk comes back quickly and shoves a plastic wrapped package at him.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “I didn’t mean whatever you thought I meant, it’s just-”
He looks painfully like a teenager, a kid , forced to act for the whole damn world, and it’s like a punch to the gut.
“I know,” Jin says, and links their arms, “I know what you meant. It’s okay, Jeonggukkie.”
“So,” Jeongguk starts. Jin bites into his gimbap. “You and Namjoon-hyung, huh?”
Jin chokes, and Jeongguk slaps him enthusiastically on the back as he coughs.
“Nope,” Jin manages, “shut up.”
“Did something happen?”
“ Nothing happened.”
“You’re such a bad liar, hyung.”
“Eat, Jeon Jeongguk.”
Jeongguk obeys, happily, and smiles at Jin with seaweed in his teeth.
The lights are off when they get back. Jeongguk kicks off his shoes and slinks to bed before Jin can wrestle him into a hug goodnight, leaving him in the dark kitchen. It’s late enough that ordinary, inanimate objects seem eerie, amorphous shapes with looming shadows. Jin stubs his toe on the door to his and Namjoon’s room, hard enough to wring a curse from him and have him hopping till the sting dulls.
There’s a vaguely Namjoon-shaped lump in bed already, too still to be asleep, too quiet to accurately imitate unconsciousness. He’s got the covers wrapped around himself pretty tightly, leaving just the corner of the blanket free, and Jin tugs on it.
“Namjoon-ah,” Jin says, “I know you’re not asleep. Give me some blanket.”
Namjoon rolls over.
“Thanks,” Jin whispers, emptily, “Goodnight?”
A tired huff, then quiet; sick and slow and viscous.
Jin stares at the ceiling and counts the branches of a crack spreading from the corner. Namjoon shifts. Kicks the covers off. Tugs them back up.
“It’s a big house,” Jin whispers, “I can go sleep in Yoongi’s room, if you want. Or Jiminie’s.”
“Don’t,” Namjoon breathes out, and the tightness in Jin’s chest unfurls in relief.
Rustling, as Namjoon moves closer, his hands finding Jin’s in the dark and pressing them to his lips.
“I freaked out a little when I got out and you were gone,” he says, “and you left your phone and your shoes weren’t there.”
Guilt pools cold in the pit of Jin’s stomach.
“Shit,” he gets out, “I’m so sorry, Joonie.”
“It’s fine, hyung, really,” Namjoon tucks a little closer, “we both needed a little air.”
Namjoon’s warm and real beside him, edges soft and dulled by shadow, pliant in the way bone-deep exhaustion makes him.
“If we post it on Twitter-”
“They’ll kill us.”
“But the fans -”
“Jin-hyung will make it hurt.”
“Fine. I’m making it my lock screen, though.”
“It’s your funeral.”
With effort, Jin manages to get his eyes open. He’s warm despite his top half being exposed to the elements, and then he registers Namjoon’s weight on his chest, his hair tickling Jin’s nose and his heartbeat steady and soft against Jin’s own.
Taehyung and Jimin peer down at him with twin grins.
“Morning,” Taehyung says, “we’re going out for breakfast.”
‘Out’ turns out to be the corner store that him and Jeongguk had gone to the night before; in the sunlight, Jin can see how weather-worn it is. The Giant Tteokbokki poster is faded, colors washed out and bleached by sunlight, laminate scratched by sand.
“Spicy or extra spicy?” Namjoon asks him, stepping in close and pointing at the poster.
Jin kisses him and tastes toothpaste and the same caramel from the night before.
“Extra spicy,” he says. He feels the curve of Namjoon’s smile on his lips.
There’s a tap on the glass that makes him jump, and turning around shows him Taehyung and Jeongguk’s leering faces pressed into the window, Taehyung’s eyebrows moving independently of the rest of his face.
“Yah! Leave them alone and get your food!” Two pale hands drag them backwards, and Yoongi’s scowling face comes into view. “Come inside before they eat everything.”
“Milk,” Taehyung’s singing, when they step inside, “strawberry milk, banana milk.”
“You’re lactose intolerant,” Hoseok reminds him, picking the dozen bottles out of Taehyung’s basket, “and there’s only two bathrooms in that house.”
The same girl from the night before is at the register, locking her gaze with Jin’s before raising an eyebrow in interest.
“Are you an idol?” She asks, and blows a bubblegum bubble nearly the size of her head. She pops it, gracefully, and sets to work on another one. “I think I’ve seen you on TV.”
“A trainee,” Jin lies, easily. A second passes, during which Jin thinks she’s seen through him. He can feel Namjoon’s eyes on him, pensive. He drops her gaze and tosses a package of chips on the counter. She shrugs and scans it.
“Good luck,” she says, swiping a dollar from her tip jar to pay, “hope you make it big.”
The anonymity is refreshing, reviving; it’s been longer than he can remember since the last time he’d been just another customer, another hopeful trainee. Every brick in the store is laid with nostalgia, memory packed into the mortar that glues the posters to the walls, and it’s easy to remember stealing down to grab snacks between practices when they were training, vivid at the front of his mind.
He watches the girl at the register flirt shamelessly with Jeongguk as he drops his basket of snacks on the counter, watches Taehyung sneak a bottle of milk and Hoseok stealthily return it to the fridge, watches Jimin nervously offer Yoongi a rice cake and watches Yoongi accept it, just as nervously.
Namjoon’s last in line, and the cashier gives him a swift once-over as she scans the two instant tteokbokki packages and wraps them up in a plastic bag.
“Are all of you trainees?” Jin hears her ask.
“It’s our last few months, hopefully,” he says, without a hitch.
“I swear I’ve seen you all,” she mutters, passing Namjoon his change, “enjoy.”
The tteokbokki tastes deliciously store-bought, drenched in off-brand hot sauce and with a texture nearly identical to the foam peanuts they’d used to pack up the old dorm. There’s a film of oil on each bite, greasy enough that Jin’s tongue is slick with it and the aftertaste sits at the back of his palate.
They end up back on the beach, predictably, sitting barefoot on the sand to watch the waves and eat food they haven’t been allowed to in years.
Jimin and Taehyung try to flick sunflower seeds into each others’ mouths, shells getting stuck in their hair. Yoongi and Hoseok share an impossibly large, neon slushy. Jeongguk steals food from everyone before settling into his own bag of snacks, and Jin can pinpoint the moment he notices the cashier’s number written on his receipt when his face contorts, blushing crimson.
“Hyung!” He yells, and Jimin gets a sunflower seed to the eye when he turns to look. “She gave me her number!”
He brandishes the receipt and does a disjointed, little jig as Taehyung slaps him on the back.
“He acts like it’s the first number he’s ever gotten,” Namjoon sighs, and holds up a bite of his tteokbokki to Jin’s mouth. He’d added garlic, Jin notices. Lots of it, judging by the empty, plastic wrappers of garlic powder beside him.
“Hyung, you ripped it!” Jin hears Jeongguk complain, preluding the sound of someone being tackled mercilessly into the sand.
“Yah, playboy!” Jimin yells back. “It’s not like you were going to call her!”
“You don’t know that,” Jeongguk mutters, kicking sand at him, but Jin sees his eyes flick nearly imperceptibly to Taehyung before he’s reaching out to push Jimin back into the sand. “She was pretty!”
“So’s Jin-hyung,” Taehyung teases.
“I already have his number.” Jeongguk steals a handful of sunflower seeds only to spit the shells at Taehyung, tailing it towards the waves to escape before he’s grabbed.
“Why’d you tell her we were trainees?” Namjoon asks him, quietly.
“It felt like we were again, no?” Jin feels his face go hot. “And I liked being nobody for a little bit.”
Namjoon’s fingers fit between his own, squeezing tight, and the silence is comfortable, like nothing’s changed between them, but Jin can feel the cosmic difference all the same. Life’s more striking with Namjoon’s hand in his.
“Can I kiss you?” Namjoon asks. “I know we’re in public, but-”
Jin kisses him. Namjoon presses back, giving, taking, and Jin has never cared less about anyone seeing. He threads his fingers through Namjoon’s hair and angles till he feels sand, scratching where his shirt rides up.
“Let’s go,” Namjoon tells him, breathless, “back to the house, let’s go.”
Jin stands first, and pulls Namjoon up behind him.
His stomach climbs steadily up his throat as they walk back. Namjoon’s hand is warm in his, and there’s a thick film of tension weaving between each breath, each step closer, and when the house comes into view, Jin’s nearly pulsing with it, with want. Namjoon gets him up against the door, a hand reaching down to bring one of Jin’s legs around his waist, and he kisses him like he’s drowning, scrabbling for breath.
The screen thuds against the frame of the door and a floorboard creaks precariously, but with Namjoon’s lips working down his throat, Jin only has enough active brain cells left to instruct his hand to twist open the door knob and push .
“Hyung,” Namjoon says, and kisses him, “Jin, are you sure?Are you-”
“Listen,” Jin holds Namjoon’s face in his hands, his lips pouting, “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more, right now.”
Namjoon turns red.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” Jin reminds him, “so please , Joonie, just go with it. We’ll figure things out along the way.”
Namjoon pushes Jin’s hair back, and then he’s walking them to the bedroom with stumbling footsteps, with twin, thrumming heartbeats.
“With a guy,” Namjoon says, nervously, “I’ve only done it once. And I bottomed.”
Jin’s mind hits the gutter with a reverberation that resonates in his toes, split visions of Namjoon like that , Namjoon begging, Namjoon gasping like he does when Jin tugs on his hair.
“Did you like it?” Jin gets out, and Namjoon scrubs a hand over his face, embarrassed.
“Yeah.” He’s close, again. Jin can count his eyelashes, can count the faint freckles that dot across the bridge of his nose. “I liked it, hyung.”
Then, Namjoon’s pulling him onto the bed, on top of him, and Jin’s reduced to just the places on his skin that Namjoon touches him.
The sun’s high enough that Namjoon’s skin glows golden from the light of it, helped along by his tan from time at the beach. Jin’s bones feel liquefied, his muscles loose and pliant, and sleep would be so easy if his mind wasn’t wired, running in circles as his body lies still. Namjoon’s slim fingers trace patterns over his chest and then splay, as if wiping them away.
“What time is it?” He asks, whispers. Namjoon wriggles to extract his phone from somewhere beneath them. His eyes are the color of honey, of melted butterscotch in the blue-light of the screen.
“Almost three,” he says, and snuggles closer, “I hope no one drowned.”
There’s the sound of the screen door slamming hard against the adjacent wall, and then someone’s yelling.
“Hyung!” Hoseok screams. “Namjoon! Jin-hyung, get out here! Jeonggukkie-”
A sharp, high noise of pain, and Jin’s vaulting to tug his clothes back on, hoping nothing’s suggestively stained. Namjoon’s on his heels, tugging his tshirt on inside out as he walks blindly into the doorframe.
Jeongguk’s clutching Taehyung’s hand, his face pallid and his body tense with pain; his right thigh is a bright, blistered red, a print of the tentacles that curl down towards his knee.
“Fuck,” Namjoon breathes, shakily, “what happened?”
“Jellyfish,” Taehyung cries, “he ran right through a fucking swarm of them-”
“Yoongi’s back at the beach telling everyone to get out of the water,” Hoseok says, “Jiminie, you know what to do, right? You grew up here.”
Jimin wipes the back of his hand below his eyes before nodding.
“Vinegar,” he says, “and baking soda. Don’t move, Jeongguk.”
Jin gets himself to stop trembling enough to help hoist Jeongguk into the tub, running his fingers through his hair to calm him down as Jimin works on his leg.
“Tae,” Jeongguk asks, eyes wet, “where’s Tae?”
Taehyung’s at the rim of the tub in a second.
“Right here, Jeonggukkie,” he says, around a sob, “it’s okay, you’re fine. Jiminie’s a really good doctor!”
“It fucking hurts,” Jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut, “ugh.”
“It’s not too bad,” Jimin stands, washing his hands, “thank god you got out of there fast enough.”
“Does he have to go to the hospital?” Namjoon asks, wringing his hands. “We can call 119 and get him to the emergency room.”
“It should be okay,” Jeongguk groans and leans forward to peer at his leg. “It was a moon jelly. I got stung once on my foot and my friend pissed on me.”
“That doesn’t work,” Jimin interjects, exasperated, “if this was all some elaborate ploy to get Taehyung to piss on you, I swear to fuck , Jeon Jeongguk-”
“I was so scared , moron!” Taehyung flicks him, and Jeongguk half-heartedly swats back. “You suck, Jeonggukkie. If you wanted me to piss on you, you just had to ask -”
“Not in this house,” Yoongi says, walking into the bathroom, “none of that freaky shit. I bought pizza.”
Taehyung helps Jeongguk out of the tub, supporting him to limp to the kitchen. Jin sits on the edge of the bath and tries to massage away the ache starting in his temples.
“I love them,” he says. Namjoon’s hands knead at his shoulders. “But they stress me the fuck out.”
“Seconded,” Yoongi says, and sits beside him. “So,” he starts, gesturing between the two of them vaguely, “is this an official thing?”
Namjoon’s hands leave his shoulders abruptly.
“I’m correct in assuming the reason you two tailed it back to the house this afternoon was to fuck, right? Don’t lie to me, Joon-ah.”
Namjoon’s knuckles turn white where they’re gripping the edge of the tub. He looks at Jin, silent confusion, a question. Jin nods. Yoongi shrugs, clapping a hand on each of their shoulders.
“Congrats,” he says, then, “wish me luck.”
There’s chaos in the kitchen, where the other four are huddled around three pizza boxes. Taehyung seems to be wearing more food than he got in his mouth. Yoongi sidesteps a balled up napkin thrown his way and taps Jimin on the shoulder, a pizza crust hanging from his mouth when he turns to face him.
“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi says, and there’s a tremor in his voice that hits Jin in the chest, tells him exactly what’s about to happen, “go out with me.”
Jeongguk drops a glass and it shatters, glass scattering into the cracks between the floorboards. Jimin takes grabs Yoongi’s sleeve and all but drags him from the room.
Hoseok steps close to Jin and whispers in his ear, “glad you two sorted yourselves out.”
Jin stares at him, his ears ringing.
“I made Yoongi promise he’d ask Jimin out when you and Joonie got your shit together,” he explains, and it clicks, the gears in Jin’s head shocked into motion.
Namjoon wraps an arm around his waist.
“Finish eating,” he tells Jeongguk and Taehyung, “you two have to clean up today.”
Jin settles into his piece of pizza to the soundtrack of Jeongguk’s whining and Jimin and Yoongi’s muffled voices in the adjacent room.
It’s hours before Jin sees Yoongi again; He catches him slinking to the kitchen around midnight and cracking open a bottle of soju.
“Everything okay?” Jin asks, and Yoongi jumps. Jin holds a hand out for the bottle and he passes it over.
“Yeah,” he sighs, “I don’t know why I’m feeling like this. He’s so-”
Yoongi takes a sip, shaking his head.
“He’s perfect,” Yoongi finishes, “and I’m-”
“Cynical,” Namjoon interrupts, from the doorway, “self-deprecating. A little bit of an asshole.”
“Don’t mention it,” Namjoon sits down heavily in a chair, “who went with you to therapy for the first time?”
Yoongi stares, blinking.
“Jimin,” he answers, deadpan, “obviously. He knows everything.”
“Right,” Namjoon says, “he knows everything and he still likes you.”
There’s an underlying, nearly imperceptible tone of “don’t fuck this up” there, and Yoongi picks up on it.
“Okay,” he says, more to himself than to Jin or Namjoon, “alright. I’m gonna,” he knocks back the rest of the soju. “Something’s gonna happen.”
He’s disappearing around the corner, then, and Namjoon’s slumping in his chair.
“I need to write,” he tells Jin, “we don’t have a title track yet and now it’s cutting close.”
A wake up call. Reality awaits, Jin realizes, painfully. They’re still idols, still very public figures in a very public eye.
Jin opens another bottle.
“We have to go back soon.”
The kitchen seems to constrict, walls closing in. There’s a tunnel, and Namjoon’s at the end of it. Jin takes a sip.
“I don’t want to stop this,” Jin says, and barely hears it above the blood rushing in his ears, “I want to be with you.”
Namjoon opens his mouth, closes it, and reaches out. He touches a hand to Jin’s cheekbone, to cupid’s bow of his lip, to his chin.
“This could be a bad decision,” Namjoon whispers, “career-wise, hyung.”
“I’m not asking you to choose,” Jin says, but knows he’s lying, “but I know this is important to you, too. We’re important to you, right?”
“This can’t be just a-a fling , Joonie?”
Namjoon pulls away and Jin’s stomach drops.
“I’ve worked hard, hyung,” he says, and Jin’s dizzy, his head reeling.
“Don’t call me that,” he hears himself saying, “call me Jin. Don’t call me hyung-”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“You don’t know how things will play out.”
Namjoon runs a hand through his hair, exasperated.
“You really don’t know what you’re saying, hyung,” he says, and there’s a bitterness to it, “how long were you a trainee?”
Jin’s mouth goes dry.
“I need some air,” Namjoon mutters, grabbing soju from the fridge as he leaves. Jin hears the door slam and finishes the last third of the bottle. He’s drunk enough that tears come easily, leaving his nose running and his eyes stinging, droplets falling whisper-soft on the the wood.
Gentle footsteps, then there’s a hand running through his hair and a warm palm on his back.
“Get up, hyung,” Hoseok says, “come on. You’re drunk.”
He can’t make his muscles move, his bones leadened.
“You’ll feel better if you sleep it off,” Hoseok pleads, tugging on his arm, “Joon-ah didn’t mean it,” he says, lowly, “he’s really stressed about not having a title track, and-”
“You heard everything,” Jin says, tripping over his words, “you listened.”
Nausea boils hot in Jin’s stomach.
“I was trying to find the right time to come in and tell you that PD-nim called me,” he says, “and then, you know. You’re so drunk, I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”
Jin swats away Hoseok’s hand where it settles on his elbow.
“I’m not that drunk,” he says, “I’m in my prime. I don’t get drunk that easily.”
He stands, reels, and promptly throws up on Hoseok’s front.
“Okay,” Hoseok says, “wow. I liked these pants, hyung.”
“Are you gonna throw up again?”
Hoseok ushers him to the bathroom, gentle prods to his back to keep him going, and he pushes Jin’s bangs back as he leans over the toilet and heaves till his stomach’s cramping. He brings Jin water and aspirin and strokes his hair as they sit on the couch, humming under his breath.
“A little more sober, now?” He asks, petting Jin’s hair.
Jin’s heart twinges and he nods.
Jin shakes his head. He tastes salt, and scrubs below his eyes to wipe away tears. Hoseok just holds him, rocking him a little, chest solid and warm and arms tight around Jin’s shoulders.
“It’s gonna be okay,” he says, “we always make it through things, don’t we?”
Hoseok’s warm, and soft, and he hugs Jin close.
“You should sleep,” he whispers, helping him up, “brush your teeth so you won’t hate yourself in the morning and come sleep in mine and Yoongi’s room.”
Jimin and Yoongi are curled together on one bed, Jimin’s head tucked securely against Yoongi’s chest, and Jin wonders if they’ll ever be able to untangle themselves.
“Guess you’re sharing with me,” Hoseok says, and tugs on Jin’s sleeve to pull him down.
Hoseok wraps an arm around his waist and holds him close, his forehead pressed between Jin’s shoulder blades and his breath warm on the back of Jin’s neck, and Jin hates himself that all he can think of is Namjoon.
Namjoon’s not there in the morning, his shoes missing from the mat outside. Jin plays video games with Taehyung with his back to the door to keep from staring at it. Jimin sits beside him, his head pillowed on Jin’s shoulder.
“Jeez, hyung, how did you actually manage to get worse over time?” Taehyung teases, and Jin shoots his avatar in the knee.
There’s a shuffle, and the sound of the screen door closing, and Jin looks up to meet Namjoon’s eyes as he kicks his shoes off.
Tension, a spring being compressed, coiled, and Namjoon breaks eye contact first, stepping silently into the kitchen. Taehyung lets him win the game.
Jeongguk picks the controller from Jin’s lap and starts a new game where he’s lying on the couch. Jin can hear Namjoon and Yoongi talking, the slam of a palm on the kitchen table, and then Namjoon’s shouting.
“I thought you’d understand, at least,” he bites out, “but if it’s really that important to you to get laid-”
“Don’t fucking talk about Jimin like that,” Yoongi hisses, “don’t pretend you have any earthly idea about how I feel, you dick.”
Jimin stiffens beside Jin.
“You think it’s real?” Namjoon laughs, and Jin feels his skin go cold. “Really? You don’t think there’s any chance that you’re a horny twenty-four year old and Jimin’s just convenient?”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Because I’m right?”
“Because you’re taking your own inability to process your fucking feelings out on me and Jimin, asshole.”
Jimin stares straight ahead. Taehyung’s fingers have stopped moving, the game still in play, and his avatar gets shot in the chest.
Namjoon makes a noise, halfway between a scoff and a laugh.
“I don’t care if you don’t give a shit about me,” Yoongi continues, and Jin can hear the break in his voice, the giveaway that he’s lying, “but I know you care about the rest of the kids, and how you feel about Jin-hyung is real. You’re pissed because I broke whatever unsaid rule we’ve got on us about dating and I don’t care what happens.”
“I don’t care if you want to experiment,” Namjoon says, “and I get that it’s an attractive offer to not even have to leave the dorm to-”
There’s a crack, a crunch of bone on bone, and then it’s silent besides Namjoon’s muffled ‘fuck’, and Jin’s jumping up to follow Jimin to the kitchen.
Yoongi’s holding his right hand, the knuckles swelling red and bloody.
“You punched him,” Jimin whispers, eyes flicking up to Namjoon and then back to Yoongi, leaning against the fridge, “hyung, how could-”
“It’s okay.” Namjoon swipes his hand over his face to wipe away some of the blood. “It’s fine.”
“Let’s go,” Yoongi tells Jimin and takes his hand, “there’s a perfectly good beach a few feet away.”
Jin hears the door slam, and Namjoon slumps to the ground, his back against the fridge as he tilts his face up. He steps forward and tosses a napkin at Namjoon’s chest.
“He was right.”
“I know, Jin.”
“Not to me,” Jin feels a laugh in his chest, out of place and incredulous, “Yoongi, and the shit you said about Jimin-”
“He heard everything, Namjoon. I’m not saying that Yoongi should have punched you, but-”
“I deserved it.”
There’s a part of Jin that wants to lean down, patch him up, kiss him better.
“Yeah, you did,” he settles for. “What the fuck were you even thinking -”
Jin gives. He sits against the wall, legs outstretched parallel to Namjoon’s.
“What’s happening to us?”
“Cabin fever,” he answers, “shit we didn’t have time to think about because of schedule, and now we do.”
The house is still, quiet like it never is when it’s the seven of them in one space.
“Get your shit together, Joon-ah,” Jin says, and stands. It takes more strength than he’d imagined not to look back while walking out of the kitchen.
The screen door is open, a shoe lodged between the frames to keep it ajar, and Jimin’s soft voice bounces lightly off the walls of the foyer. Jin shifts close enough that he’s hidden by the door but he can see the two of them, sitting side by side on the porch, Jimin’s feet digging into the sand.
“He was angry,” Jimin says, “he’s going through something rough-”
“That doesn’t excuse what he said.” Yoongi’s voice is reedy, strung tight.
“You’re so much to me, Park Jimin,” Yoongi says, “you shouldn’t forgive people so easily.”
Jimin rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder.
“And you shouldn’t stay angry for as long as you do.”
Yoongi tilts Jimin’s chin up to kiss him, and Jin feels guilt dredging cold in his stomach. He’s intruding, he knows, watching something he shouldn’t be, but he’s wedged in place, stuck.
They part, and Yoongi’s smiling, softer than Jin’s ever seen him. Jimin stands, and Yoongi’s eyes follow, and Jin wonders what planet Namjoon was on for thinking this was anything but viscerally real.
“I forgive him,” Jimin tells Yoongi.
“Of course you do,” Yoongi turns his face up to the sun, closing his eyes, “I’m pretty sure you’re not even human, Jimin-ah. You’re an angel.”
Jin can see Jimin’s blush vivid against the healthy tan of his skin.
“You know I’m not,” he says, “I think I’ve proven that plenty of times-”
There’s a tap on his shoulder and Jin nearly gives himself away, knee knocking hard against the screen and jarring the shoe out from where it keeps the door open.
Hoseok holds his hands up in surrender.
“I was wondering if you wanted to eat something,” he says, “you threw up your dinner last night, and it’s nearly noon now.”
Jin can’t help but glance back at the kitchen, warily.
“He went for a walk a few minutes ago,” Hoseok tells him, “he’s not in there. Let’s warm up some pizza, yeah?”
Namjoon comes back around dawn, stumbling, his bottom lip split and a bruise the size of a golf ball blooming on his jaw.
“What the fuck,” Hoseok says, “you’re bleeding on the carpet, Namjoon.” He reaches for him, but Namjoon lurches backwards.
“Hyung,” Namjoon says, wobbly on his feet as he turns to face Jin, alcohol on his breath and a disconcerting glaze over his eyes, “I need to talk to you.”
“Not now,” Hoseok says, “go sleep it off, Joon-ah, it can wait-”
“It’s none of your business,” Namjoon spits back, “I said I needed to talk to him now .”
Jin vaguely notices Taehyung and Jeongguk tiptoe into the room behind him. There’s nausea acrid at the bottom of his esophagus, burning.
“And I said it can wait,” Hoseok repeats, “you’re not in any shape to talk to anyone, right now.”
“Why’re you speaking for him?” Namjoon asks, irritation creeping malignantly up into his words. “He has a voice.”
Hoseok turns to face him, eyebrows raised.
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, hyung,” he says, softly, “I don’t think it’s a good idea, but-”
“It’s okay,” Jin says, and steels his nerves, “it’ll be fine. Thanks, Hobi.”
Hoseok shakes his head, but he steps aside when Jimin urges him to move.
Namjoon steps forward, and Jin sees just how bad of a shape he’s in; his eye is beginning to swell, along with a mottled splotch of purple on his jaw, and his nose looks worse for wear. He licks his lips and winces, the split bleeding fresh. Jin wipes the blood from his chin. Namjoon’s eyes slip closed for a moment before opening again, and Jin can’t read him, can’t decipher what he’s thinking through the clouds in his eyes.
“Come on,” Hoseok’s whispering, and herding Taehyung and Jeongguk in front of him.
Then they’re alone, and Namjoon’s folding forward, resting his forehead on Jin’s shoulder and shaking, gripping tight to Jin’s shirt like it’d kill him to let go. Jin feels anger, frustration, fear swell hot in his stomach, then leach from him, dissipating like steam from his body.
“Fuck you,” Jin tells him, and Namjoon nods into his shoulder, “ fuck you for making me feel like you didn’t want me-”
“I’m sorry,” he says. His voice breaks, catches in his throat and expels as a cry.
Namjoon’s hand is cold, a little sticky, and his knuckles are raw and bloody. Jin holds his hand tight anyways, and chokes on air when Namjoon kisses his fingers.
“I got in a fight,” Namjoon says, shakily, “there was a couple on the pier, and the guy was saying the most disgusting shit to his girlfriend, and I was so wound up I just-”
“It’s okay,” Jin hears himself say, “calm down, Joonie-”
“I’m so sorry, hyung,” Namjoon sobs, weak, desperate, “I can’t believe I fucked this up.”
He clutches Jin closer, his heart flush to Jin’s own, and Jin thinks he can feel the broken pieces of it.
“I forgive you,” Jin whispers into Namjoon’s shoulder. “ And I hope you beat the shit out of that guy.”
Namjoon huffs, a puff of air warm on Jin’s neck.
“I tried my best,” he says, “but the stuff I said about Jimin, I’m just as bad as him.”
Jin squeezes him, hugs him till Namjoon’s thumping weakly against his back.
“I can’t breathe,” he complains, and Jin lets him go, rubbing at his ribs. “I want to apologize, but there’s no way Yoongi will let me near him.”
He takes a deep breath.
“I think I convinced myself I just had to get you out of my system,” he says, “ I really was an idiot to think I could let go of you after having you for even a minute.”
“You’re still drunk,” Jin tells him, “and we should probably bandage you up a little.”
Namjoon doesn’t let go of his hand as Jin walks him to the bathroom, doesn’t release his grip on Jin’s fingers in the slightest as Jin dabs peroxide into his cuts and presses an ice pack to his jaw.
“You smell like you slept under a bridge,” Jin tells him. Namjoon smiles crookedly, eyes half-shut.
“I slept on the beach, actually,” he says, “and I’m pretty sure a crab pinched my ass.”
Jin pushes him into the shower and yelps when his hair gets soaked, water dripping down his shirt as Namjoon pulls him under the spray and kisses him, iron and salt on his tongue. Namjoon’s hair is oily, sand in the crevice behind his ear
“I’m not getting in with you,” Jin says, when Namjoon’s fingers begin to play at the hem of his shirt.
“I’m not drunk,” Namjoon responds, “tipsy, maybe, but-”
“Shower,” Jin tells him, “then come to bed.”
Namjoon blinks once, then leans in and kisses Jin, chastely.
“You’ll have to get out if you really want me to shower alone,” he teases, and Jin flicks water at him before pulling the curtain closed.
Jin’s towelling his hair dry when Namjoon steps out of the shower, his cheeks red and skin scrubbed clean.
“There was sand,” he says, stepping into Jin’s space, “ everywhere. ” He takes the towel from Jin’s hands and shakes the water from his hair, long fingers working Jin’s scalp.
“Should’ve just come home,” Jin deadpans, and Namjoon tugs on his hair a little, “I’m right .”
“Yeah,” Namjoon sighs, “you are.” He kisses the side of Jin’s neck and steps back to dry his own hair.
Yoongi doesn’t let Namjoon get within a foot of Jimin before he’s standing, placing himself firmly in front of Jimin with his fists clenched. Jin watches as there’s a silent standoff, a cold war.
“I want to apologize,” Namjoon says, finally, “I just want to-”
“Don’t come near him,” Yoongi snaps, “after everything, you still think you deserve to clear your conscience?”
Jimin stands and sets a hand on Yoongi’s elbow.
“Hyung,” he says, “I’m not a kid.”
“I don’t trust him to be near you, Jiminie-”
“ I trust him,” Jimin says, gently, “he’s Namjoon-hyung.”
Yoongi seems to soften, melt a little.
“I’m in the next room,” he says, “if you need anything-”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
“As if,” Yoongi mutters, and doesn’t look at Namjoon as he turns to leave.
Jimin pulls his sleeves over his hands and looks Namjoon right in the eyes like he can see through him. Namjoon shrinks.
“I already forgave you,” his voice is silken, soft, and Jin feels guilty for thinking a little that Namjoon doesn’t deserve it, “I know you didn’t mean it.”
“At the time I did,” Namjoon admits, “I believed everything coming out of my mouth.”
“What do you want me to do, hyung?” Jimin asks, and his fingers twist in his shirt. “Punch you? Or curse at you?”
“I deal with my anger differently,” he continues, “and I dealt with it, and I forgive you. Please accept it.”
“You’re a better person than I ever will be,” Namjoon says, and Jimin smiles at him sweetly. He steps forward and wraps his arms around Namjoon, his head coming up to Namjoon’s chin just barely, and Namjoon tentatively hugs him back.
Jin steps outside to find Yoongi smoking on the porch, nearly down to the filter.
“I thought you quit,” Jin says, and Yoongi nearly drops his cigarette in alarm.
“I did,” he mutters, “till a few months ago.”
“You’ve been smoking again for a few months?”
Yoongi stares at the ceiling, at the cobwebs and cracked plaster.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” he admits, “it’s only, like, two or three a day.”
“Still,” Jin says, and sits beside him. “Does Jimin know?”
Yoongi doesn’t meet his eyes as he takes another drag.
“He’ll find out.”
“I’ll quit,” Yoongi drops his cigarette in the sand and grinds it in with the heel of his shoe, “don’t look at me like that.”
“It fucks you up, Yoongi.”
Yoongi looks over his shoulder, anxiously.
“I have to jump in the shower,” he tells Jin, “the smell, you know...”
He smiles at Jin listlessly before slipping back inside, and Jin’s left alone with the acrid smell of smoke hanging low in the air. The door slams again, and Namjoon’s dropping down next to him heavily, wrinkling his nose.
“Were you smoking?” He asks, incredulously.
“Someone was, down by the shore,” Jin lies, “the wind blew it over here.”
Namjoon narrows his eyes, but he drops it, stretching his arms above his head and cracking his back.
“Everyone’s walking on eggshells around me,” Namjoon tells him, “like they’re afraid of me, or something.”
“You were pretty scary this morning.”
“I wouldn’t have done anything-”
“They didn’t know that.”
Namjoon picks at the peeling paint.
“You were acting like a different person,” Jin continues. “A person that might’ve done something, if he got pissed enough.”
He hangs his head.
“Are you sure you’re not smoking?” He asks, sheepishly. “Because I sure could use one right now.”
They go inside once the porch ceiling does nothing to help the heat, and Jin’s clothes are sticking to him with sweat. His skin feels raw, and Namjoon’s cheeks are definitely a little sunburnt.
Yoongi looks up at them from the couch and shuts the laptop resting on his thighs, stalking out of the living room and disappearing into his and Hoseok’s room.
Namjoon looks pained, picking at the calluses on his fingers, and nearly peels half the skin off of his thumb in one jerk when a loud slam echoes through the hallway.
“He’s still our friend,” Jin hears Hoseok say, furiously, “we’ve been through hell and back with him, and you’re going to drop him like-”
“You were there!” Yoongi shouts back. “You heard every word that came out of his mouth, I can’t believe you’re not pissed.”
“I am, but I think leaving is uncalled for.”
Namjoon freezes. Jin has to use all his strength to tug him towards their room and shut the door.
“Leaving,” Namjoon repeats, stunned, “leaving, as in going home? Or-”
“Going home, of course,” Jin interrupts him, “we really should leave soon.”
“He wants to leave the band.”
Jin squeezes Namjoon’s hand.
“Yoongi loves this band,” Jin says, but there’s anxiety starting a tension headache at the base of his skull, “he’d never.”
“What have I done, hyung?” Namjoon asks, weakly, less a question than it is a sob, and it’s all Jin can do to hold himself together.
Hoseok asks to talk to him after lunch, a disjointed, awkward affair which Yoongi leaves halfway through, dumping his dishes into the sink and slamming the screen door behind him.
“He’s not serious,” Hoseok tells Jin, as they wash dishes together, “he needs to cool off. This whole damn house needs to cool off.” There’s an edge of worry to his voice, though, and Jin can’t get it out of his head.
“He hasn’t forgiven him,” Jin adds, and Hoseok nods, sadly.
“He will, you know him,” he tries, “his temper isn’t the best, but he’s soft on the inside.”
“Namjoon’s worried sick.”
“Does he know?”
Hoseok stretches up on his toes to put the last bowl away, drying his hands on the dishtowel and hopping onto the counter.
“He hasn’t said much.”
Namjoon pads into the kitchen, jerking to a stop when he sees Hoseok.
“Sorry,” he says, after a beat of silence, “I can come back-”
“It’s fine,” Hoseok says, and extends a hand toward him, “c’mere.”
Namjoon does, and wraps his arms around Hoseok tightly, until Hoseok’s toppling off the counter from the force of it.
“It’s okay,” he whispers to Namjoon, ruffling his hair, “we’re good. Don’t worry about things, alright? It doesn’t look good on you.”
Namjoon swats at him halfheartedly, and Jin’s happy to see the bones of a real smile on his lips.
Jeongguk steps in a few seconds later and is added into the hug by means of Hoseok’s strong grip on his waist.
“I just wanted milk,” he complains, but he nuzzles his forehead against Namjoon’s shoulder blades and waves Jin over too. Taehyung and Jimin follow, joining in without prompting.
“This,” Taehyung deadpans, “is the gayest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’ve sucked Jimin’s dick.”
There’s yelling. Jin thinks it might be Jeongguk.
“We were drunk ,” Jimin offers into the chaos, “it was trainee months, everyone was sexually frustrated-”
“Shut up,” Jeongguk wails, “god, please- ”
Jin hears footsteps, light yet purposeful, and then Yoongi’s slotting himself in between Jin and Namjoon, holding Namjoon’s left hand in both of his.
“You’re an idiot, Joon,” Yoongi says, softly, brimming with something fond enough to shine brightly through the dark cloud above the house, “so dumb.”
“I love you, too, hyung,” Namjoon says, and Yoongi cuffs him lightly on the back of the head. Jin feels the knot in his stomach dissipate.
They stand there wrapped around one another for an inordinate amount of time until Jeongguk’s fidgeting, trying to worm his way out.
“So,” he says, and Jin can sense the tinge of desperation in his voice, “Yoongi-hyung, did you know Tae and Jimin hooked up?”
Everyone freezes, and Taehyung whispers out a low “how could you, Jeonggukkie?” before he’s tailing it, Yoongi’s murderous glare hot on his heels.
“You’re an asshole,” Jimin tells him, and Jeongguk ducks to avoid further abuse, giggling high and mirthful as he follows Taehyung’s path out of the kitchen. Yoongi has a thin arm around Namjoon’s shoulders. Hoseok beams at Jin and mouths an ‘I told you so’, more proud than smug.
“I need a shower,” Yoongi says, finally, and detaches himself from Namjoon, “we really should start packing.”
“PD-nim asked when we’d be heading out,” Hoseok adds, “I said within the next two days.”
“We could set out around noon tomorrow?” Jimin offers. “I think the longer we put it off, we’ll end up never leaving.”
It’s bitter, a rude awakening, but someone had to say it. Seoul wasn’t waiting for them, and their comeback was in just weeks.
“We should go to the beach one more time,” Hoseok says, “tonight. A bonfire.”
The weather is oddly cool, not the same muggy humid it’d been earlier in the day, and they make their way down to the beach as the sun’s hanging heavily above the water, its weight dragging it below the horizon.
Jeongguk and Yoongi built the fire, high and imposing, flames licking at the stars and smelling of smoke and salt.
Namjoon sits beside Jin on a towel, finding his hand in the dark and holding tight.
Jeongguk throws another log into the fire and ashes swirl upwards, flakes of bright orange disappearing with the sun.
They sit like the spokes of a wheel, the fire the axle. Jimin’s head rests in Yoongi’s lap, and Taehyung sits back against Jimin’s legs.
“I have a story,” Jeongguk says, lowly, the angles of his face carved deeper by the light of the fire.
“Fuck no,” Hoseok makes to stand but Yoongi’s hand wraps around his ankle to keep him down, “no scary stories-don’t you fucking pout at me Kim Taehyung, you know how I feel about spooky shit-absolutely not -”
“Pussy,” Jeongguk says, looking inordinately proud of himself, “no sexism intended.”
“Nothing can hurt us on this beach,” Taehyung pipes up, “a crab bit my ass once, but that’s about it.”
“If any of you even try to pull shit, I’m leaving,” Hoseok threatens, but he shuffles to sit comfortably and huddles a little closer into himself. Yoongi throws an arm around his shoulders easily.
Jeongguk leans a little closer to the fire so his eyes glow, orange setting the dark of his pupils ablaze. Namjoon inches incrementally closer to Jin.
“When I was in grade school, a group of teenagers camped out here one night,” Jeongguk starts, bringing his voice down low enough that everyone shifts a little closer to the fire, “they were the rowdy, party group, you know. Their parents didn’t care what they did as long as they weren’t burning money.”
The fire pops, a log splintering with a loud crack that has Namjoon sucking in a nervous breath beside him, his thigh pressing warm against Jin’s.
“Anyway, it was a bunch of guys and a lot of alcohol, so everyone was pretty drunk, which is what people who aren’t locals blame the whole incident on,” he continues, “they built a fire a couple of feet from the ocean and passed out around midnight, and then one of the boys apparently woke up a few hours later because he had to piss.
“He woke up his friend too because he didn’t want to walk in the dark alone, and they went behind a sand dune for him to do his business. His friend was laughing and joking all the way there, trying to scare him by telling him about a dark figure that was following them-”
Another log falls in the fire and their shadows are long, arms stretched and legs extending like tree branches. Jin counts only six of them.
“It was only when they got back, in the dying light of the fire, that the kid noticed there was only one pair of footprints leading to the dune.”
“Fuck,” Hoseok whispers, “oh fuck.”
“When they wake up in the morning, his friend isn’t there, and there’s only the path of his own footprints away from the fire, but there’s no dune to be seen,” Jeongguk’s eyes gleam, his teeth shining white, “they find the other guy buried a foot below the sand, dead.”
Taehyung is missing. The hairs on the back of Jin’s neck are standing, and the roar of the ocean bleeds into the story.
“The autopsy says it was alcohol poisoning and a freak sandstorm. They forbid the kids from mentioning the hand-shaped bruises on his neck, and the shovel they found buried beside him. Time of death was midnight.”
Hoseok has his knees up to his chin, his eyes wide and shimmering. Namjoon’s clutching onto Jin’s arm hard enough to leave marks. Everyone flinches when the fire snaps, billowing glowing ash towards the sky, and the sound of a stick cracking behind Jin is almost imperceptible. Taehyung puts a finger over his lips when Jin turns to look at him, flicking his eyes over at Hoseok and tiptoeing towards him, steps muffled by the sand.
“That wasn’t too bad,” Hoseok’s saying, voice strung high, “I thought it was gonna be a lot worse-”
Taehyung lunges. Hoseok’s scream is piercing enough that a family of crabs skitter out from beneath a nearby rock, one scuttling over Jin’s foot, dangerously close to fire. Namjoon jumps, too, nearly vaulting into Jin’s lap. Jeongguk’s howling, flat on his back and wheezing with laughter, and Taehyung’s half-covered in sand where Hoseok’s kicking it at him.
“Fuck you guys,” he cries, “I had one request -”
“Forgive me, hyung,” Taehyung begs, giggling, “I couldn’t resist-”
“ Dickhead- ”
Yoongi stands, stifling laughter, and drags Hoseok backwards to sit back down. Hoseok wipes the tears from his cheeks and sits, arms crossed.
“That was fucked up,” he sniffles. Jimin hugs him. “You all suck.”
“Namjoon-hyung jumped,” Jeongguk snickers, “I used to think he was tough-”
“Where’s your respect,” Namjoon scolds halfheartedly, as Yoongi smacks Jeongguk upside the head. A crab crawls across Hoseok’s leg and sets him off again, kicking sand up behind himself as he stomps back to the house.
Everyone smells like smoke and the sea, sand emptying from shoes and shirts as they shake off on the porch.
“Get packing,” Yoongi says, “we’re leaving after breakfast tomorrow.”
The air settles, and the dark cloud threatens to hover again.
“We can’t stay any longer?” Taehyung asks, quietly. “One or two more days?”
“We’ve already stayed past time,” Hoseok says, “comeback is soon. You want to be on the
next cypher, right?”
Taehyung perks up a little and grabs Jeongguk’s hand to drag him inside.
Namjoon’s clothes are mixed with Jin’s own, his hoodies in Jin’s suitcase, and it makes his heart jump to think that Namjoon has some of his, too.
Hands settle on his shoulders, working the hidden tension out of them. Namjoon drops a kiss on the back of his neck, warm from the sun streaming through the window.
“You okay?” He asks. “You’ve been quiet.”
Jin nods; his mouth is dry. Namjoon presses the heels of his hands further into the knots in his muscles, dragging a sigh from Jin’s lips, smoothing out stress he didn’t know he’d been harboring.
He pulls Jin up from the floor and holds his hand as they fall into bed, and his lips are soft, smiling, touching Jin’s cheek, his neck, his sternum, and lower. He takes Jin apart and puts him back together like it’s effortless, gives and takes till Jin’s trembling, seeing stars and planets and the whole universe as Namjoon holds himself above him.
He kisses Jin as they come down, breath coming heavy and hard and sweat slicking where they’re connected.
“The dorm’s walls are too thin for this,” he jokes, wiping a bead of sweat off Jin’s temple, “you’ll either have to learn to be quieter or I’ll have to get worse at sex.”
“No one said you were good in the first place,” Jin shoves him off, swatting at Namjoon’s ass when he kisses Jin’s knee, “what the hell are you doing?”
“Do you shave?” He asks, and bites down on the flesh of Jin’s inner thigh. “I was a little caught up to notice, but fuck, hyung, do you -”
“Yeah,” Jin answers, the word falling from his mouth mostly to get Namjoon to shut up, “I mean. I like how it feels?”
“Cute,” Namjoon smiles into his skin before biting down again, a little harder, and Jin feels himself spark a little despite the exhaustion, and Namjoon’s crawling back up the length of him to kiss him senseless. “You’re so cute, hyung, so soft-” and it’s punctuated with a pinch to the give of his ass, and Jin fights the dichotomy of embarrassment and arousal.
“I’m tired,” he complains, halfheartedly, and Namjoon kisses him again. “I’m too tired-”
“You don’t have to do anything,” Namjoon shifts back to his legs and walks his hands to lace over Jin’s stomach. “I’ll take care of you.”
And then he’s ducking down to suck a mark into Jin’s thigh, reaching up to slide his fingers past Jin’s lips, playing him like an instrument till he’s singing, gasping, and Namjoon kisses air back into him when he’s lucid again.
He doesn’t notice quite how short the shorts are until Hoseok’s sidling up to him as they’re loading bags into the car.
“Kink found,” he whispers, and smirks at Jin’s legs, snorting as Jin tries to pull his shorts down far enough to be decent, “no shame, hyung. You should see Jiminie’s poor thighs. I don’t even know how he can dance-”
“Please don’t say anything.”
Hoseok places a hand on his chest and winks at Jin as he walks away. Namjoon hooks his head over Jin’s shoulder.
“What was that about?” He asks, and promptly chokes as he notices Jin’s thighs. “Put some pants on, hyung, oh my god-”
“Who’s fault is this?” Jin hisses, swatting him. “Why do I have to suffer through the heat in pants because you couldn’t keep your kink to yourself-”
“So you didn’t like it?” Namjoon asks, shifting. Jin gulps. “Because judging by how loud you were-”
“Everyone in the car!” Yoongi calls, and takes his spot in the back seat. “No crabs, no water, and no fucking sand!”
They pile in, and Jin’s struck by how empty the house looks, creaky and old and far from how lively it’d been the week they’d made it home.
“We should do this again,” Jimin says, quietly, “rent our own house and come every few weeks.”
“After comeback,” Jeongguk says, “after another hit album.”
“Don’t get cocky,” Yoongi scolds, but he’s smiling, glowing healthy and bright.
Jin drives. The beach morphs to highway morphs to city lights, and Namjoon’s hand stays in his all the way home.