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Petals and Ink

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Jimin thinks it's a sign of maturity that he didn't have a nervous breakdown.

He has no idea why he ever thought this was an excellent next step in his life; this whole moving to a bigger city to start my own business, don’t worry mom, don’t worry dad, I probably won’t die deal, because he basically lost it at least seventeen times during the move.

First, the space for his new flower shop was a ruin when he arrived – not even remotely similar to the pics of the place he saw online - and he spent a significant amount of money, time and effort to redo it. To repaint the walls (in an off-white, to accenutate all the colorful flowers he'd have on display); to convince the owner to replace the grimy windows, since nothing but dynamite would help clean them at that point; to slave for two days on his hands and knees trying to scrub the floor tiles back to their original color, and then finally giving up and settling for the dull gray hue.

Then he got lost at least half a dozen times in the new city, running from one store to the next trying to find just the right counter for his cash register, just the right shelves for his flower pots, the right stand for the front of the flower shop, the stickers for the door and the window glass...

He had a checklist; of course he brought a checklist with him, which he'd compiled meticulously over the past two months, in preparation for this move.

But the checklist was, somehow, misplaced on his fourth day in the city. (Jimin's not above admiting that he cried himself to sleep that night.)

To make things more difficult, the owner of the flower shop space and the owner of the apartment directly above it – which Jimin also rented, because what's more convenient than living in the same building where your business is – were a divorced couple, and any and all communication with them involved listening to their very long, very exhausting relationship history, assuring them that he wasn't sent by the other to spy, and smiling so forcefully that his cheeks turned numb by the time they said their goodbyes.

It was when the moving van didn't show up for two days after the arranged time, and when the moving company seemed to have no idea where Jimin's modest, well-worn furniture went, that Jimin considered just calling his mom and coming back home.

She probably would've been thrilled - after all, his parents had warned him about this; about moving to the capital, about opening his own flower shop, about... the dangers in the city, for someone like him.

But then the moving van arrived not an hour later, and Jimin nearly cried again - tears of joy this time - and barely refrained from hugging the men who unloaded his furniture and brought them up to his new apartment.

So that's it. All that's left now is for the plants to arrive – and if something happens to them, Jimin will do much more and much worse than just call his mom – and he'll be ready to open.

Finally.


Without much to do until the flowers get there, Jimin decides to explore his new neighborhood, in the hopes of reassuring himself that at least he picked a good spot to settle in.

The street where his shop and apartment are is more of an alley; a charming, narrow passage right off a bustling boulevard, tucked away from the rumble and honk of traffic. It's bathed in sunlight every day until early afternoon, regularly visited by customers wandering in and out of the shops.

Cozy, Jimin thinks.

There’s a bakery on the corner, and, unable to resist the apple-cinnamon smell wafting from the entrance, Jimin goes inside and discovers that the elderly couple who owns it makes easily the best muffins he’s ever had.

Apart from the bakery, there's also a bookstore - of the dusty, quaint variety - a repair shop that seems to specialize in various kinds of electronics, a tattoo parlor, and an antique shop with a lavishly carved desk and a broken grandfather clock in the window.

Jimin wonders if he’ll get the chance to meet and bond with his new neighbors; if that’s a thing that happens, in a big city like this.

In his hometown everyone knew him, or of him, and most were polite and friendly with him, though never getting so close as to become actual friends.

Which is why now Jimin also wonders if his new neighbors will notice that he’s… different. If they’ll mind.

(He hopes not. So very much.)


The plants arrive on another moving van exactly when they're supposed to, thankfully, and Jimin spends the second weekend of his new life doing what he loves most – being surrounded by earth, nature and greenery, repotting the flowers in their new, fancily patterned pots for the store, and telling them all about the shit he went through during the move.

He also plays music on his small phone speaker – all their favorites – and hums along to help them relax and adjust to their new surroundings.

On Sunday the flowers bloom big and vibrantly colored, and fill the small shop with golden, gentle warmth that Jimin knows too well.


Once the shop is open for business, it’s easy enough to develop a routine.

Jimin gets up early every morning and makes tea for himself - coffee is not a concept he’d ever understand - and stretches and listens to quiet music.

He showers and brushes his teeth and wrangles his blond hair into something vaguely presentable, taking too long to decide whether forehead or no forehead.

The flower shop opens at 8:00 a.m. sharp, with yellow sunshine filtering in through the window. The plants love it, of course, and Jimin carries the most eye-catching ones from inside to the stand out front, and arranges them usually by color gradient. Sometimes by height. Sometimes trying to put complementary colors together.

Sometimes a plant doesn’t want to be on the top shelf or the bottom shelf, and he has to switch them up. (The gerbera in particular is quite picky.)

Customers are infrequent in the beginning; after all, Jimin still hasn’t decorated the shop window or put up a sign. But the colorful, cheerful flowers in the front do attract some passersby, and he makes sure to greet each one with his brightest smile. (They all leave satisfied with their bouquets, and that’s enough for him.)

Every lunch break Jimin goes to the bakery on the corner. In his second week the elderly lady, Mrs. Kim, starts recognizing him as a regular who always orders a ham and cheese sandwich and two muffins of whatever flavor is on the menu that day. She learns his name, that he just moved there, and when Jimin helps her arthritic husband carry in a heavy sack of flour, she adds a free rice cake to his paper bag. (Jimin makes sure they know to call him if there’s anything too physically strenuous to be done in the future.)

He eats his lunch and watches the life outside his shop, and listens to his plants.

The bookstore is open every day of the week - even Sunday - and so far he’s seen only one person who looks like they work there; a young man, not much older than Jimin. Tall and maybe a touch intimidating, serious, but the dutch lily says it’s seen him smile once and that he has cute dimples.

The repair shop across from the bookstore works at irregular hours - sometimes it’s still open when Jimin goes out to buy a late night snack at the grocery store, sometimes it’s open the entire day, and once it was closed for three days straight, even though it wasn’t a weekend or a holiday. A boy works there, also tall and kind of adorable. His ears are pierced in many places, he wears ripped jeans and thick-soled boots even in summer, but his bangs and round face and almond eyes remind Jimin of that bunny from Bambi.

The antique shop is owned by a middle-aged man who comes down from the apartment above the shop almost at the same time as Jimin opens his own. The man walks with effort, with a pronounced limp, but his face is pleasant and he smiles and returns the bow Jimin gives him every time they see each other.

The only place which seems to be closed all the time is the tattoo parlor directly across from Jimin’s flower shop. For two weeks now he hasn’t seen anyone go in or come out, worker, owner or customer. The interior is dark, tinted windows making it hard to see inside, and the neon sign above the door hasn’t been turned on once since Jimin moved in.

SOPE, the sign reads. Whatever that means.


The following weekend Jimin finally has time to unpack decorative stickers which arrived from the printer, and to carefully tape them to the door and the window glass of the flower shop.

He uses a tape measure to not stick the characters on crookedly, and once in a while he steps out to check his progress, to make sure it all looks good from the outside.

He’s taping the last character of the shop’s name, Pink Petal, when he realizes there are other sounds over the low music from his phone. Jimin looks through the glass in front of him and sees the repair shop boy, the Bunny, cursing and grunting as he’s trying to push a - is that a fridge?

Jimin is outside before he even stops to think.

“Hey!” he calls to the boy. “Need any help?”

Fuuuuuck,” the Bunny exhales. He slumps where he stands, supporting his weight on the stainless steel fridge he’d been pushing down the alley, in the direction of his repair shop. “It’s too hot,” he pants, sweat dripping down the sides of his face. “This is too heavy, I haven’t slept all night and Tae would probably kill me if he found out.”

“Um,” Jimin says, not sure how to respond to any of that.

The Bunny shuts his eyes and presses his forehead to the fridge, like he’s somehow disappointed in himself that he can’t get the massive thing all the way to his shop. Jimin isn’t sure how he managed to get it this far, anyway. Not without a car. Or a cart of some sort. Was he pushing it the whole time? Or maybe even… carrying it?

“Yes, I could use some help, if that’s okay,” the Bunny grits out, then opens his eyes and smiles at Jimin. Which makes him look even more like a bunny. A happy bunny, with multiple piercings along his ears. “You wanna take the other end? I’ll take this one and we can carry it in.”

“Sure!” Jimin nods with a smile of his own, and comes closer to the front of the fridge.

“I’m Jeon Jungkook, by the way,” the Bunny says as they carefully tip the appliance so that it’s horizontal.

“Park Jimin.”

It takes effort, but Jimin gets a good grip on the top part, and Jungkook lifts the bottom part as though it weighs nothing at all – as though he hadn't just been lugging the thing for who-knows-how-long - and they carefully start towards the repair shop, Jimin walking backwards and Jungkook following after.

“Nice to meet you,” Jungkook says and then blows some of his bangs away from his eyes. “You just moved in?”

“Yeah, a few weeks ago. Came to the city to open my own flower shop.”

“Cool.” Jungkook nods. “I’ve seen your flowers out front. They’re nice.”

“Thanks.”

“Never heard of anyone keeping them in pots, though,” Jungkook says, adjusting his handle on the fridge, his muscles straining under the short sleeves of his white tee. “Don’t florists usually get them stemmed?”

“Uh. Yeah.” Jimin smiles widely to appear convincing; to distract from the vague answer. “I just… I guess I have my own way of doing things?” He should learn not to sound so hesitant and squeaky when covering something up.

“Uh-huh. Sure.”

Jimin doesn’t have time to analyse if Jungkook believed him or not, because they’re already at the entrance to the repair shop. One small step - very slow so that Jimin doesn’t trip and break his neck - and they’re squeezing through the narrow hallway from the door to the main space of the shop.

Computers, TVs, gutted radios and speakers, wires, cables are absolutely everywhere, in some spots even stacked up to the ceiling. There’s a rusty stove in a back corner which looks like it hasn’t been used this century, and a skeleton of a desk buried underneath various bits of computer hardware; one lit screen on the desk – with Iron Man desktop wallpaper - indicates that there is at least one working PC somewhere in there.

“I’m gonna put it down now,” Jungkook says once they’ve reached a modicum of clear space in the middle. With a huff he lowers his side of the fridge, and Jimin helps him push it upright again. “Sorry about the mess,” Jungkook says. He takes in his workspace and rubs the back of his head. “I get carried away and I don’t- I forget about cleaning up.”

“That’s okay!” Jimin hurries to reassure, smiling. “I don’t mind. It’s… It looks like you work a lot.”

“Hah, depends on what you mean by a lot.” Jungkook goes over to the rusty stove and Jimin realizes there’s a mini fridge next to it, not in any better shape than the cooking appliance. “I don’t exactly have fixed work hours, so I easily lose track of time.” Jungkook chuckles as he fishes out two cans of cola. “Same when I play video games. Tae actually has to blackmail me into logging off when we do dungeons together.”

It's the second time Jimin's heard the name, and he has to ask, “Tae?”

Jungkook hands Jimin a soda, and then somehow pulls out two cushions from god-knows-where, dusts them off and throws them to the floor by the fridge, so they can sit down.

“Yeah,” he says, crossing his legs. “Kim Taehyung. His father owns the antique shop across the street?”

Jimin nods, popping his can open and taking a refreshing gulp of the cold drink.

“He lives with his grandmother though, across town,” Jungkook continues, sipping on his own soda. “Helping her out and such.”

“Are they related to the Kims from the bakery?” Though Jimin knows it doesn’t have to be the case, what with it being one of the most common family names and all.

“No, no, Kims from the bakery and Kims from the antique shop are unrelated. Same with the Kims, or the one Kim, from the bookstore.”

Jimin raises an eyebrow. “The tall guy with the silver-ish hair?”

“Mhm. That’s Kim Namjoon. He owns the bookstore. Pretty cool guy. Smart as fuck.”

“Huh.” Jimin does a mental count of all the neighbors and stores in the alley. “What about the tattoo shop? I haven’t seen anyone in there since I got here.”

“Yeah, that’s been closed…” Jungkook drinks more, contemplating, licking soda taste off his lips. “For almost a year now, I think.” Then he looks at Jimin and smiles again. “So, where are you from?”

It turns out to be very easy to talk to Jungkook.

He's from the same neck of the woods as Jimin, though he'd moved into this alley and opened his own repair shop about two years ago, despite being two years younger than Jimin.

Jungkook has always been into technology and electronics, and started working almost right out of high school; first fixing up computers and mobile phones for his peers, then branching out to practically everything else – TVs, sound systems, stoves, fridges, air conditioning units, or, as Jungkook himself says, “If it runs on electricity, I can fix it.” Jimin laughs at that, because Jungkook's confidence (and dilligence) is endearing.

When he has time to spare, Jungkook hauls in old, run-down appliances from people looking to get rid of them, fixes them up and sells them for extra cash; which is where the fridge comes from.

He mentions his friend Taehyung a lot, and even texts him in the middle of their conversation, letting him know he's met the new florist and that he'll introduce them when Taehyung comes to see his father next, apparently soon.

It's only when Jimin realizes – with a jump to his feet and a FUCK! on his lips – that he's left his flower shop unlocked, that they have to part ways. They've drank two sodas each while they talked about everything and nothing, and Jimin returns to decorating the windows of his shop not even trying to hide his wide grin.

It's lame, and maybe a touch sad, but he honestly can't remember the last time he's had such a casual, carefree conversation with a person outside of his family; with someone close to his age, who wasn't rude or nosy, reserved or threatening; who was just...

Normal.

This is normal; meeting people, getting to know them, enjoying each other's company – all normal. Easy.

As he tapes pink petals around the name of his shop, Jimin hopes, that, maybe, Jungkook would like to see him again. To hang out with him.

Drink more soda. Maybe teach Jimin how to play some of those video games he talked about.

Be friends.


Two days later, Jimin is sitting at his small, plastic dining table in the kitchen, absorbed in his phone and his search for a good dance studio in the city.

At home he'd spent a lot of his free time dancing; first as a kid in a ballet studio for toddlers, then as part of an amateur dance company in high school, and later he'd even dabbled into hip hop, though still keeping up with his contemporary dance.

He stopped going to classes with all the chaos with the move and opening a shop and all, but he's missed it; missed challenging himself with new choreographies, breaking a sweat to great music, missed the rush of a well-practiced, synchronized routine with a group.

He has dozens of tabs open in his mini brower and is slowly going through them one by one, when a voice filters in through the wide open kitchen window.

“Jungkook-ah!”

Jimin turns and peeks out into the alley. The day is coming to a close, the sky above darkening, but he still recognizes the bookstore owner – Namjoon, if Jimin remembers correctly - standing in front of his store, carrying an opened laptop.

“Hyung?”

All the stores are closed at this hour – or most of them – and the throng of people usually walking up and down their street has long ago thinned out; it's easy to hear Jungkook's voice from the direction of his repair shop, though Jimin doesn't see him until he comes closer to Namjoon and stops a few steps away.

“I, uh...” Namjoon looks at the screen of his laptop, then at Jungkook, and winces like he's guilty about something. “I was in the middle of skyping when I... dropped... it.” It seems to pain him to admit it, and when Jungkook laughs he adds, “Not from very high up, though! Look, the screen is fine, the keyboard is – okay, it has a little dent here-” Jungkook's laughter grows louder. “-but it's fine! Except that now the wifi isn't working for some reason. Could you...?”

Jungkook is already reaching for the computer and tilting it towards him, squinting in the light of the screen. He doesn't even bother with the keyboard or the touchpad; he just narrows his eyes, like he's concentrating really hard – like he can get the computer itself to just announce the problem on its screen or something - and then says, “You dislocated your internal wifi antenna. I'll be right back.”

Jimin's not sure how Jungkook figured that out from doing nothing, but he seems very confident in his diagnosis when he returns a few moments later, with a screwdriver in hand. He has Namjoon hold the laptop upside down as he unscrews a small lid from the bottom, moves some bits and pieces around in there, and then fastens it back on.

“There,” he says, with a couple of final taps on the keyboard.

Almost immediately the screen comes to life with an incoming Skype call. Namjoon reaches to click on the green phone icon but the call is answered before he does; both him and Jungkook are still holding the laptop, but neither has his fingers anywhere close to the buttons.

Jimin frowns, barely registering that he's gotten up from his seat and is now leaning on his elbows, not even remotely subtly staring out the open window. How in the world...?

“Hey, Jin-hyung!” Jungkook waves to the person on the other side of the call, and Jimin hears a tinny, slightly amused,

He dropped the computer, didn't he?”

“I was holding four things at once, okay,” Namjoon tries to defend himself, but both Jungkook and the unknown caller – Jin-hyung? - laugh.

How are you, Jungkook-ah?” Jin then asks over Namjoon's groan. “Missing your favorite hyung? Wishing I was there? Spending night after sleepless night thinking-

“- about how you are now so old you must've started dyeing your hair to hide the greying parts?” Jungkook interrupts with a smirk. “Crossed my mind a couple of times.”

A gasp echoes through the laptop speakers, but any following words are drowned out by Namjoon and Jungkook laughing, now both heading into Namjoon's bookstore to continue their conversation inside.

Jimin stares after them for a while longer, feeling strangely confused, and curious; and also somewhat soft at seeing his neighbors be so comfortable and teasing with each other. (Rather, mostly Jungkook teasing the older ones, which must mean they're very close).

He wonders if he'll ever get an opportunity to be like that with anyone. With them, maybe, somewhere down the line.


It's early on Friday when Jimin's having breakfast, leaned sideways on his kitchen counter. He's still in his oversized sleep clothes, a bowl of oatmeal in his hands as he blearily looks out into the alley, gearing up for his day.

Mentally, he goes through his morning checklist – shower, brushing teeth, combing hair, picking out clothes; opening the shop downstairs, carrying out the best plants to stand in the front, seeing if they need anything - watering, minerals, company-

He's barely halfway down his bullet points when he notices Mr. Kim – the antique shop owner – coming down earlier than usual; Jimin's phone shows that it's barely 7 a.m. and yet the man is already slowly limping over to the entrance of his shop.

He steps inside and Jimin is just about to chalk up the early opening hour to an incoming delivery or something, when a figure zooms down the alley from the direction of the boulevard.

Jimin swallows a spoonful of his breakfast and leans forward, watching how the figure – a young man with flaming red hair – bursts into the antique shop, shouts a greeting – entirely too loud and too cheery for this hour - drops a bag he was holding by the door, and shouts something more as he darts back outside.

“KOOK!” he then calls, hands cupped around his mouth, rough voice reverberating even through Jimin's closed windows.

He's practically sprinting towards the repair shop, and that's when it dawns on Jimin that this must be Mr. Kim's son; Jungkook's friend, Taehyung.

“KOOOOOK!” he spells out once again, and Jimin is sure he's woken up the whole alley by now.

But then the door of the repair shop yanks open and Jungkook is there; his dark t-shirt crumpled, his ripped jeans stained in some places, but despite his obvious sleep deprivation, he's wearing the biggest grin Jimin's seen on his face yet.

He breaks into a run too, and meets Taehyung in the middle of the empty street - Jimin nearly drops his spoon when Taehyung launches himself at Jungkook, leaping right into his arms. Jungkook welcomes him easily, letting Taehyung wrap his legs around his waist, his arms around his neck and-

-crush their lips together without a moment of hesitation.

Oh.

Not just friends, then.

Boyfriends.

Jimin's own mouth quirks up as he watches the two laugh and kiss and excitedly talk about something, with Jungkook holding Taehyung up all the while - without any problems it seems - and Taehyung's hands cradling Jungkook's face, messing up his hair.

They look so in love. So happy to see each other again.

Then Taehyung slides back down to his feet, grabs Jungkook's hand and pulls him over to his father's antique shop, where they go in together.

Jimin finishes up his breakfast still smiling, slowly getting more and more convinced that he couldn't have picked a better place to move to.


Later that same day, Jimin hangs a handwritten sign on his shop's door that he's on his lunch break and will be back in 10 minutes, and steps out into the bright midday sun.

“Oh,” he hears behind him. “Hi.”

Jimin turns and sees Taehyung standing there, halfway between Jungkook's and his father's shops. His hair is really, really red from this close up, but it also kind of fits with his big eyes and handsome features, and especially with his loose shirt sporting some kind of red, purple and yellow pattern.

“Hi,” Jimin says, and smiles.

“You're new,” Taehyung says, looking at Jimin with undisgused wonder, just as Jungkook walks out of his own shop and closes the door behind him. “He's new,” Taehyung then says to Jungkook over his shoulder. Again to Jimin, “You're new.”

Jungkook laughs, coming over to stand next to his boyfriend. “Yes, he's new. His name is Park Jimin, he's the florist I told you about. Jimin-ssi.” Jungkook nods to him, and gestures to Taehyung. “This is Kim Taehyung, my... boyfriend.” The blush that colors his cheeks at the last word makes him a Shy Adorable Bunny, prompts Taehyung to exclaim, "Cuuuuuute!" and Jungkook to sock him in the arm out of embarrassment.

Jimin laughs. “Nice to meet you, Kim Taehyung-ssi,” he says with a bow.

“You, too.” Taehyung returns the bow, and then, with a wide, earnest smile, “You're very pretty.”

“Uh.” Jimin falters. "I-"

“Purely from an aesthetical point of view, of course,” Taehyung adds, casually wrapping an arm around Jungkook's waist, and pulling him into his side. “With those full lips and gorgeous eyes, and the blond hair... Very pleasing to look at, wouldn't you say, Kook?”

Jungkook snorts. “Yes, he's very pretty, Tae. You'll have to excuse him,” he tells Jimin, draping an arm around Taehyung's shoulders and giving him a little shake. “Tae is a professional photographer, he gets distracted by beautiful things all around him."

Jimin opens his mouth to reply, but a voice from behind interrupts, “That, and his mind works in quite mysterious ways. I daresay you're the only one who speaks Taehyung, Jungkook-ah.”

The three turn to see Namjoon walking over; his silver hair is rougishly swept up, the sides buzzed off, and Jimin has to admit he looks really badass with sunglasses on and his hands buried in the pockets of his jeans. Like a rockstar, or an idol, that Jimin wouldn't dare try to talk to in a million years.

He stops on Taehyung's other side, and the two exchange a fist bump, at first the epithome of coolness, before Namjoon laughs and ruffles Taehyung's hair.

“Jimin-ssi!” Namjoon then looks at him, smiling with those dimples Jimin heard about from his plants. Friendly, Jimin thinks; confident, but somehow comforting at the same time. “It's nice to finally meet you. I'm Kim Namjoon.” He bows. “I own the bookstore in the back.”

“Kim Namjoon-ssi.” Jimin bows as well. "It's nice to meet you, too."

"When are you getting off work?" Taehyung interrupts then, before Jimin can say anything else. He looks excited, his grin bright and rectangular. "Jungkook and I thought about checking out this new barbeque place close by, and you should totally come with!"

"I... Really?" Jimin asks, failing not to sound too hopeful. Hanging out with interesting new people. Eating together. Socializing. "I, uh, lock up at six. That would be... really nice." He can't hold back his own wide smile.

"Yeah, it'll be great!" Taehyung is positive. "You should come witness how Kookie eats his way through my entire last paycheck. So much fun." He laughs when Jungkook lets out an indignant, "Hey!", but Jimin thinks there's nothing he'd like to do more on a Friday night.

"What about you, Joon-hyung?" Jungkook turns to Namjoon. "What do you say? Taehyung's treat!"

But Namjoon laughs and shakes his head. "No, sorry, I already have..." He hesitates. "Something planned."

"Oooooooooh," Taehyung lets out, seemingly already knowing what's planned. "Could it be... a date? A Skype date? With Jin-hyung, who you still haven't told that-"

"Have fun without me, kids!" Namjoon exclaimes over him with a smile, backing away. "Try not to bankrupt Taehyungie until I see you next time!"

"HAH, kids!" Taehyung calls, relentless. "Like you're not only one year older than me! Like you're not drinking coffee from a sippy cup because you spill it every time-"

"Can't hear you!" Namjoon shouts through a laugh, already disappearing round the corner.

"So," Jungkook says, squeezing Taehyung tight and grinning at Jimin. "Seven sound good?"


It's in Jimin's nature to worry. He worries about a lot of things - practically everything - and that pushes him to do more, to prepare in advance, to work harder to make sure he doesn't somehow embarrass himself.

Which is why he spends an absurd amount of time choosing what to wear to his... what? Not a date, since it's not romantic in nature, and it involves three people rather than two. Not a meeting, since it's not of the business kind... He'll have to work on the terminology.

Either way, Jimin's small bedroom is a mess of clothes, his mind buzzing with outfit combinations until he finally settles on dark jeans and a light blue t-shirt, and some bracelets and rings he's always liked wearing.

He also worries about other stuff - like what if the conversation lags, what if they realize he's a freak, what if they're all lovey-dovey with each other and Jimin ends up being the third wheel, what if-

But all of that dissolves when seven o'clock comes around and Jimin hears Taehyung's deep voice under his window,

"Yo, Jimin-ssi! We're starving! Get your cute butt down here and let's go put ourselves in a food coma!"

Jimin laughs and shakes his head as he collects his wallet and phone, not getting what Taehyung has against intercoms.

They walk to the barbeque place, enjoying the pleasant evening breeze, the waning daylight, and an effortless, fun conversation. Taehyung takes the lead, with Jungkook steering him back onto his original topics when he goes on a tangent, and by the time they enter the restaurant and are seated, Jimin is laughing and talking without restraint, all of his worries completely forgotten.

Taehyung and Jungkook sit close, sometimes feeding each other bites of food, but never making Jimin feel left out, or otherwise ignoring him. In fact, they're so cute together that Jimin just has to take a pic of them when Taehyung accidentally gets sauce on his face, and Jungkook uses his thumb to wipe it away.

Taehyung and Jimin realize with delight that they're the same age, and they all talk about their work and education, about why Taehyung majored in photography, why Jungkook practically worships Tony Stark, and about Jimin's plans to continue with his dancing-

Jungkook gets a bit quiet at the mention of families and siblings, but the conversation quickly moves into another direction – courtesy of Taehyung – that Jimin barely registers the shift in his mood.

They eat and eat and eat, until Jimin thinks he's going to burst, finally sliding down in his seat and debating whether or not it would be too inapropriate to pop open the first button of his jeans.

Taehyung doesn't allow him to pay, assuring him that he'll be the one to pick up the tab next time; Jimin's so elated at the prospect of next time that he allows it.

They walk back to their alley, and say their goodbyes in front of Pink Petal, with Taehyung and Jungkook continuing on towards Jungkook's apartment above his repair shop.

Jimin watches them disappear into the building with what feels like a permanent smile plastered on his face.

He's full, and happy and friends - he's making friends.

Instead of going for the entrance that leads up to his apartment, Jimin takes out the keys to his flower shop, having a sudden, exhilirating urge to let his plants know how the outing went. To tell them all about the great time he had, and how this move was maybe the best decision of his life.

He's barely opened the door when his concsciousness catches up with him; when he realizes there's something different in the alley tonight. Something he's only glanced over as he waved goodbye to Taehyung and Jungkook, but that now makes him stop and turn around-

On the other side of the alley, right across from him, the lights are on in the tattoo shop.

Huh.

Jimin's not sure why he's curious. Why he's staring. It must have to do with the week he's had, meeting the people living and working around him, becoming closer with some of them, knowing the names of others... Of everyone, really, except for this person, whoever it is, that works (worked?) in the tattoo parlor.

So Jimin stands in the shadow of the flower shop doorway, and waits for any sign of life beyond the tattoo shop windows.

It's hard to tell what's going on, with the windows darker than normal; the SOPE sign is still off, so obviously the place isn't open. (It's too late for it to be open, anyway. Unless the person works like Jungkook.) Jimin thinks he makes out dozens, if not hundreds of photos and tattoo designs all over the walls, but he's too far away to actually see what they look like.

His gaze sweeps over the poorly-lit interior and then he finally spots it – movement, in the far left corner. Someone twirling a pencil between their fingers.

The figure is outfited completely in black, but Jimin thinks they might be male. He's not sure, because the face is covered with a black surgical mask, and the person is wearing a black snapback; they're sitting on a stool, bent over some book, or a notebook in their lap, and twirling the pencil, absorbed in whatever is written before them.

Well. Not as interesting as Jimin had first thought it would be.

He opens the door to his shop a bit more, and suddenly gets a soft brush of warmth from inside, from one of his plants – the snapdragons.

He does it instinctively, not even thinking about it – translating the breath of warm energy into coherent thoughts, like a language he's fluent in; the person from the tattoo shop visits a lot in the night, Jimin finds out. They unlock the tattoo shop and just sit in there, writing, doodling or whatever it is they're doing in the notebook; sometimes even for hours.

They always look sad, snapdragons think. More warmth lingers in the air, soft, glowing – the other flowers agree.

Jimin hesites on the threshold, and throws one last glance at the person in the tattoo shop.

Yes, sad; something about the curve of their back, the hunch of their shoulders... The way they forcefully scratch off something in the notebook and reach up to rub their eyes, shielded by the hat.

Sad, Jimin thinks, and maybe lonely, too.

Chapter Text

“Yeah, that’s Yoongi-hyung,” Jungkook says, once Jimin recounted what he saw the other night.

The two of them and Taehyung are sitting on the floor of Jungkook’s repair shop, with what Jimin can only describe as a boombox deconstructed between them; wires and chipsets and screwdrivers scattered all around.

Jimin had spent a couple of days unlocking his phone only to lock it again, with half-formed texts in his mind. He didn’t know how it worked; if he was supposed to call Taehyung or Jungkook (or both?), or text them, and after how much time since their barbecue dinner, and what if he came off as annoying or needy or-

Then Taehyung texted him around closing time to come over to Jungkook’s if he didn’t have any other plans - to which Jimin let out a happy shout and scared the last two customers in his shop - and so now they’re here.

Music softly plays out of speakers Jimin can’t see - buried somewhere in the tech rubble, no doubt - and a stand fan lazily spins in the corner, not even remotely helping with the heat.

“Who?” Jimin asks.

“Min Yoongi,” Taehyung says, flicking some important-looking bits of the boombox across the floor. “He’s the co-owner of the tattoo shop. Or maybe even full owner now, I don’t know what happened there in the end.”

“Oh,” is all Jimin says, because he has a distinct feeling that he shouldn’t pry.

He does kind of want to, if nothing then to learn the reason for this Min Yoongi sitting in the near-darkness of the closed tattoo shop all by himself, but he’s also aware that it’s none of his business.

Jungkook is deftly handling several colored wires at once, bent over the boombox.

“Yeah, he’s…” he starts, but trails off as he retrieves the thing that looks like a pen, which Jimin only today learned was called a soldering iron, from a small dock on the floor beside him. “He’s been having a tough time lately.”

Jungkook narrows his eyes and uses the hot tip of the iron to join a wire into the chipboard. The acrid smell of burning fills the air as the iron melts copper, and Jimin wrinkles his nose.

“Yoongi-hyung is not a very sociable person to begin with,” Taehyung says, still flicking tiny pieces all over, playing a makeshift billiards game, it seems. “I guess he hasn’t been feeling like working, since-” He stops and sighs, launching a small tube-like object all the way to Jimin’s feet. “He’ll be okay; he just needs some more time.”

Time for what? Jimin almost asks, but stops himself. 

“Yeah, I hope,” Jungkook says. He assesses the work he’s done and nods once to himself, putting the soldering iron back in its dock. Then he looks at Jimin. “Yoongi-hyung might look scary at first-”

Might?” Taehyung snorts, but Jungkook ignores him.

“-but he’s really cool, actually.”

“And kind of like a grandpa,” Taehyung supplies.

“But cool,” Jungkook insists.

Jimin can't suppress a smile. “A grandpa that’s cool. How old is he again?”

“A year older than Namjoon-hyung,” Jungkook says, and without looking away from Jimin, he reaches next to him and lays a hand on top of Taehyung’s, the one that’s been flicking the boombox pieces around. “Please don’t lose the small parts,” he says.

“I will not!” Taehyung exclaims, as though offended; Jimin laughs. “I resent that! Kook, when have I ever-”

Jungkook pins him with a glare, cutting Taehyung’s words off in a second.

“Yeah, okay.” Taehyung slumps where he sits, petulantly giving one last flick to a part. “Not like I was the one who got you the boombox or anything… Vintage, too-”

“And I love you for that,” Jungkook says, squeezing his hand. “But if you lose even the tiniest piece of that beautiful, vintage boombox, I might just have to knock your teeth out.”

Surprisingly, this makes Taehyung grin. “Best gift ever, right?” Jungkook scoffs and lets go of him, looking back to the wires he’d been working on. Taehyung persists, “Because I’m the best boyfriend ever, right?” He leans into Jungkook, who tries to lean away, but he’s blushing and obviously fighting hard not to smile back as he fiddles with the wires. “Best gift from the best boyfriend ever!” Taehyung exclaims and plants a giant smooch on Jungkook’s cheek.

Jungkook pushes him away, but Jimin laughs at how even his ears have turned red.


The next time Jimin sees Min Yoongi, he doesn’t actually see him, but assumes that it wouldn’t be anyone else.

The summer heat has been merciless, even after sundown with all the windows open, and Jimin has resorted to sleeping in his underwear and using nothing but a thin sheet as a cover.

Even so, one particularly hellish night, he wakes up parched and sweaty, sticking to the sheet - gross - and realizes he won’t be able to fall back asleep without a glass of water and (another) shower.

He stumbles about in the dark, groggy and thirsty and taking a second too long to locate the door to the rest of his apartment, when out of the corner of his eye a light switches on.

Jimin pauses.

Through his open bedroom window, across the street, diffused yellow light pours over the pavement in front of the tattoo shop.

Min Yoongi’s back.

Jimin blinks through his haze and comes closer, though he can’t see much from the first floor - just a bit of the inside, the staggering amount of tattoo examples hanging on the walls.

He waits, not really sure what he’s expecting. Why does Min Yoongi come in so late? What does he do in there? Writing? Sketching? Taxes? Jimin snorts to himself.

Jungkook and Taehyung’s incomplete story about him suggested hardship, something serious which Min Yoongi apparently needs to recover from, and then Jimin thinks that maybe this is therapeutic for him, in a way. Maybe the mysterious tattoo artist comes here to deal with his own demons, whatever they are.

Jimin watches, and finds himself wishing he could help somehow.

It’s not a new sentiment; he’s always cared, about a lot of things (too many things, his mother would say); cared that people (and animals, and plants) around him are safe and happy, and that they know how much they mean to him, cared about other people's opinion of him, cared about the environment, and the future and- yeah, too many things.

But reason dictates that he can't help, of course; it’s stupid to think it. He doesn’t know Min Yoongi - doesn’t even know what he looks like - let alone what's bothering him, and going down there and offering a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on or similar would just disturb the man, if not worse.

So Jimin does what he can at that moment: he hopes, he really does, that Min Yoongi gets through this, whatever it is, and soon.


It happens several more times after that, that for whatever reason Jimin wakes up when it’s still dark out, and sees the lights on in the tattoo shop.

In fact, he’s developed a habit - if he wakes up to get water or go to the bathroom or because a cat mewled down the street, Jimin perches himself on his elbows in bed to check if Min Yoongi is there.

Most often, he is.

It has become sort of a constant in Jimin’s new life, like his lunches from the bakery, regular skyping with his parents and little brother, and texting with Taehyung and Jungkook (who have formed a group chat with him on KakaoTalk, holy shit, it’s a Thing now). He doesn’t think much about it, just wonders when, or if, Min Yoongi will stop the unusual activity. Once or twice Jimin plays with the idea of bringing him tea or a late night dinner, but shakes off those thoughts as soon as they appear.

Not his business.

One weekend, between Saturday and Sunday, Jimin jerks awake from a nightmare. He opens his eyes wide towards the dark ceiling, heart thumping erratically in his ears.

Fuck.

He’s breathing hard, drenched in sweat that’s cold this time, remnants of blood and ooze and clawed hands reaching for him behind his eyelids.

Fucking Taehyung and Jungkook. Jimin sits up and runs his hand through his damp hair, willing his pulse to settle. All their fault.

The evening before they had convinced Jimin to watch them play some horror game - with grotesque monsters with wolf heads and darkness that consumes you - and it all ended with Taehyung and Jimin screaming their heads off at every jumpscare, and Jungkook laughing like he was having the time of his life. Jimin thinks Jungkook might’ve even snapped a pic of him and Taehyung holding onto each other at some point, while Taehyung’s game character got eaten on screen.

Either way, it’s practically on reflex now that Jimin casts a look out his open window. He sees the lights on in the tattoo shop, as usual, but for the first time in a while there’s also movement.

Someone coming to a stop in front of the shop, bathed in the weak glow from inside.

Jimin squints and throws his sheets off, pads over to the window to see if he can recognize-

The silver hair. Not styled this time, not at this hour, but the color is unmistakable - Namjoon, coming to visit Min Yoongi.

It makes sense; from Jungkook’s and Taehyung’s brief mentions of the two, how they are referring to both of them as their hyungs, and from the occasional interactions Jimin catches outside his shop and apartment - he got the impression they’re all a tight group of friends.

Or were, anyway.

Namjoon waits at the door, and Jimin sees shadows moving inside the shop - Min Yoongi coming over, turning the lock and opening the door.

For a moment nothing happens. They just stand there, looking at each other (or at least Jimin assumes so, since Min Yoongi’s face is once again hidden with a mask and a hat). If they’re talking, it’s too quiet for Jimin to hear, even in the stillness of the night.

Then Namjoon moves, offers his hand, and Min Yoongi takes it. But before they can properly shake hands, Namjoon tugs a little, pulls the other in and firmly wraps his arm around him.

Min Yoongi doesn’t react. His hesitation, his confusion at the gesture is obvious in how he holds himself stiff, taken aback.

Slowly though, because Namjoon isn’t letting go - maybe he’s saying something encouraging - Min Yoongi’s arm comes up and around his friend, and Jimin notices how he finally relaxes; how the tension of his shoulders eases up. He lets the hug happen and even grips the back of Namjoon’s t-shirt tightly.

Good, Jimin thinks with a faint smile.

He’s not alone, at least for tonight.


Taehyungie
on a scale of 1-10 how hot is it today

Jungkookie
ignore him

Taehyungie
on a scale of 1-10 how hot am I ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Jungkookie
11 if you stop that

Taehyungie:
HOHO

Jungkookie

fine. 11 in general
but you still have to stop that

Taehyungie
on a scale of 1-10 how much do u luv me

Jungkookie
it was funny the first 37 times

Taehyungie
on a scale of 1-10 how much are both of u missing me and want me there to be all awesome and cool

Jungkookie
I’m so sorry Jimin-ssi
it’s my fault

Taehyungie
on a scale of 1-10...

I’ll think of smth

Jungkookie
thank fuck

Jiminie
??? no idea what’s going on
but still funny (*^▽^*)

Jungkookie
we had a date night yesterday
watched Big Hero 6
it was my idea

Jiminie
oh!
hahahahahahahaHAHAHA

Taehyungie
ON A SCALE OF 1-10 HOW BADLY DO U WANT TO REWATCH THE MOVIE

Jungkookie
fml


The search for the right dance studio is still ongoing. Jimin takes advantage of free trial lessons most studios offer to check out the spaces, the people, the vibes.

He’s not sure he can spare the money to actually pay for a membership in any of them, but he’s glad to just bounce around, meet other dancers and let loose a bit; practice some moves, show off his skill and learn something in return.

On a late Thursday night he’s coming back from one such outing, flushed and sweaty and happy as he hops off the subway nearest to his alley. He walks the rest of the way, humming to himself and practically skipping, even though this dance class in particular was quite challenging; with the type of complicated ballet routines he hasn’t done in a while.

Jimin loved it. As soon as he gets the money - as soon as he starts making actual profit and not just repaying debt from the opening - he thinks that one is the right studio for him.

The bakery on the corner is closed, of course; Mr. Kim’s antique shop is also closed - Taehyung is back with his grandmother during the week; surprisingly, Jungkook’s shop is closed as well - Taehyung must have finally convinced him to go to bed at a reasonable hour-

Jimin stops in his tracks, in the middle of the empty alleyway.

On; the lights are on in the tattoo shop.

For one insane second Jimin thinks he danced his way to 2 a.m. (again), but when he checks his phone, it’s only some minutes to 11 p.m.

Min Yoongi is early; just like when Jimin saw him for the first time, nearly a month ago.

He can’t explain why he’s suddenly feeling cautious - like something’s about to snatch him out of the darkness, like in that dumb horror game; maybe it’s the fact that he’d practically been spying on the man for the past weeks, and now feels a touch awkward and stupid for doing that.

As he continues walking, he glimpses more of the tattoo shop, again lit by a single lamp in the back, and he automatically searches for the (co-)owner…

Only he isn’t there.

Jimin pauses halfway between his flower shop and the tattoo parlor - and adjusts the strap of his duffel bag over his shoulder.

Through the tinted windows, the setting is identical to all the previous ones Jimin had witnessed, but Min Yoongi is nowhere to be seen. What’s more, the front door isn’t completely shut - it’s standing ajar, allowing a clearer view at the space and the artwork displayed on the walls.

Jimin hesitates.

He shouldn’t.

He knows he shouldn’t.

Logically, he has no right. It’s none of his business, no one gave him permission (he didn’t even ask for it), and he shouldn’t.

And yet.

It wouldn’t hurt to take a look, right? Just a quick peek through the door and he’s out, no one would know. Just to see the art, to satisfy his curiosity, no harm, no foul. 

His heart has already decided, it seems, since it pounds excitedly against his ribcage, and his palms start sweating and if he’s going to do this he’d better do it quick, before Min Yoongi gets back.

Jimin looks left and right to make sure the alley really is deserted, and takes a careful step forward. He’s half-expecting a landmine to go off, one that’s activated only by nosy neighbors who don’t belong.

But when, of course, nothing like that happens, Jimin tightens his grip on the strap of his bag (ignoring his mother’s voice in his head telling him that she’d raised him better than this) and approaches the front door, finally able to cast a better look beyond the threshold.

The thing which he didn’t dwell on before - didn’t notice through the dark glass - is how clean everything is. Jimin doesn’t have any experience with tattoo shops aside from the ones he saw in movies, and if anyone asked him, he’d be more likely to say this was a dental office than a tattoo parlor.

The wooden furniture - counters and cabinets - are of light-colored wood, perfectly blending in with the off-white floor tiles, the chocolate brown leather sofas and reclining chairs (Jimin guesses those are for customers). Every surface is spotless and there are no needles, no machines, no actual ink - the tattooing paraphernalia is hidden from sight, a testament to the fact that no one’s been working here for a while.

There’s a notebook open on a counter, with single sheets of papers strewn about, but Jimin only glances over it and to the pictures on his right.

He dares to push open the door - holding his breath as though it will fall off its hinges - just a bit more to see better. The photos seem to have been shot with a professional camera, all the same size with a thin white frame around them, evenly spaced over the wall, floor to ceiling.

Jimin's lips part in awe, and he stares unblinkingly - gapes - because holy shit.

The tattoos are stunning. There’s no other word for it. Absolutely captivating, each and every one...

Different in size - from the smallest silhouette of a cat on the inside of a pale wrist to a black raven with its wings spread over the expanse of someone’s back; different in theme - flowers, quotes, feathers, what looks like the inside of a robot, a freaking arm full of clocks; different in color as well - most of them are black, like Jimin thought tattoos could only be, but there are dozens of designs which seem as though they were painted on with watercolors. Pinks, blues, purples bleeding into one another, calming gradients, red and orange sunsets leaving Jimin breathless.

The detail is incredible. The thought, the care, the skill - Jimin has never thought about getting a tattoo before, but now he wants all of these.

His gaze is drawn to a wolf design, a small outline of the animal, but filled with - he leans in to better inspect it - pine trees, it seems, a landscape of a pine forest within the wolf, holy cr-

“What the hell are you doing?”

Jimin yelps, stumbling back and almost running right into Min Yoongi.

“Oh my god, fuck- I mean, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” he squeaks out and bows at once, his duffel bag hitting the floor.

Jimin had entered the shop; fuck, somewhere in his reverie he’d actually set foot inside, came closer to the wall of tattoos. He hadn’t noticed; he hadn’t heard Min Yoongi come in behind him.

“I’m really sorry, I-” he stammers. “I wasn’t thinking, I was just- My name is Park Jimin, I live across the street, and I’m- I was coming home and- and the door was open! I just wanted- I didn’t mean to- I mean, I obviously did, but I didn’t mean anything bad, I was just curious...”

Forget the palms, Jimin’s ass is now sweating; his face feels like it’s on actual fire, and he’s wishing for the ground to open up and swallow him whole.

Min Yoongi is standing in front of him, wearing all black, including the mask covering his face and the snapback. He’s about Jimin’s height and slighter in build, but fuckfuckfuck Jungkook wasn’t fucking kidding when he said he was scary. Jimin can only see his eyes, dark and sharp, and he has trouble reading the look in them. Is Min Yoongi angry? Tired? Confused? All three?

Is he about to roll up his sleeves and send Jimin flying out of the shop?

Jimin hopes not.

“I… I really am sorry,” he repeats, softer this time, still in his 90 degree bow. “I know I shouldn’t have been snooping around, but I…” He stops himself before he can confess to having been following Min Yoongi’s comings and goings. He straightens up a bit and glances at the art. “Did- did you do these?”

Min Yoongi glares at him like he’s contemplating what punishment to dole out; if it would be enough to sever only one of Jimin’s fingers, or if he’d have to take more for breaking and entering. (Jimin has to remind himself that Jungkook and Taehyung had said Min Yoongi only seemed frightening. For the life of him Jimin can’t remember what they said after that because fuckfuckfuckFUCK, he’s not ready to lose any fingers!)

However, to his complete and utter surprise, Min Yoongi lets out a short, exasperated sigh, as though this is such a chore - having a trespasser in his shop.

He mutters, “Most of them.”

“That’s- wow,” Jimin breathes, gaze once again travelling over the magnificent tattoos as he poorly hides his relief at the reply. “They’re… They’re amazing! They’re so… I mean, this one-” He points to a delicate tattoo of a mountain range over someone’s ribs, black ink giving way to skin to depict snowy peaks. “I never thought you could do something like this. It’s- You’re really good. Really… talented,” he finishes lamely, aware that it’s nowhere near close to what he really thinks, but fear and awkwardness and also fuck are the only things left in his head at the moment.

Min Yoongi just emits a noncommittal grunt and sidesteps him, on his way to the counter with his work.

“The shop’s closed, in case the big sign hanging on the door didn’t hit you in the face when you were coming in,” he calls, and regards his notebook. “What did you say your name was, again?”

“Jimin!” Jimin says, breaking into a smile, knowing that it helps make a good first impression. Or, a good first impression after the impression that he’s a casual property invader. “Park Jimin! I own the flower shop across the street.”

“Park Jimin.” Min Yoongi nods to himself. “I’m Min Yoongi,” he says as he fiddles with his papers, and Jimin barely bites back an I know. Yoongi then looks back at him, eyes impassive under the snapback. “Now get the fuck out of my shop.”

Jimin’s smile falls. Yoongi looks back to his writing, takes a seat at the counter without another word, and Jimin…

Jimin supposes he deserved that. So much for good impressions.

“Right. Yes. I’m- I’m really sorry again, Min Yoongi-ssi.” He bows again, and picks up his duffel bag. “You do really nice work here. Um… It- it was nice meeting you!”

Yoongi doesn’t respond, and Jimin hurries out into the dark alley, closing the door behind him. He doesn’t stop until he enters his building, climbs the stairs two at a time and finally takes a breath in front of the entrance door to his apartment.

Well, he thinks as he presses his forehead to the door. His heart's still hammering something fierce.

That could’ve gone better.


It takes an eternity for Taehyung to calm down from laughing so hard his face turns as red as his hair.

“Oh my god, that is glorious,” he manages through his last giggles. “You actually went in! And he caught you, wow, you’re lucky you still have both functioning eyes.”

“‘S not funny,” Jimin mutters through his hands that are covering his face. “I was a complete idiot. I actually broke into the man’s shop - I broke the law!”

“Well, technically, the door was open, so…”

Jimin drops his hands to glare at Jungkook.

“What?” Jungkook shrugs, one cheek rounded from the lollipop in his mouth. “I’m just saying.”

Jimin lets out a groan and flops backwards onto the floor of Jungkook’s repair shop. Something pokes into his side and he fishes out a hollow casing of what used to be a computer mouse, and throws it back into the tech pile over his head.

It’s been two days.

The morning after his encounter with the intimidating Min Yoongi, Jimin had rolled himself up in his bedsheet and seriously contemplated just never leaving his apartment again.

Embarrassment heated up his cheeks, his ears, his neck just from thinking about what had happened, and he’d rather have stayed in and not risked running into Yoongi. Ever.

But the reality was that he needed money. And his plants needed care and would miss him and maybe even worry about him, and he’d also kind of miss his plants, and maybe they’d have something smart to say about his idiocy… (Though most likely not. He loved them, but they were a judgemental bunch.)

So Jimin had dragged himself out of bed and went on with his day, pointedly not looking in the direction of the tattoo shop (which was empty during the day, anyway), and maybe smiling a bit too widely at the customers whenever he remembered how Yoongi had told him to get lost.

“Do you think he’s still mad?” he asks, looking up at the cobwebs in the corner of the repair shop. Then his eyes go wide. “Do you think he’ll press charges?”

Jungkook snorts. “For what? Unpermitted looking at his tattoo gallery wall?”

“I went inside!” Jimin whines.

“Okay, look,” Taehyung says, unwrapping his own lollipop. “All of that - being mad, pressing charges, generally obsessing over this small thing that happened - all of that requires effort, and energy. And Yoongi-hyung isn’t the sort of person to waste his energy on such things.” He pops the lollipop into his mouth and grins around it.

“Yeah?” Jimin sits back up on his cushion, hopeful.

“Yup.” Taehyung nods, confident. Then he makes a grimace, pulls out the lollipop and looks at it with disgust.

“Yoongi-hyung’s probably forgotten all about it and is taking a nap as we speak,” Jungkook adds. He pulls out his own lollipop with a smacking noise and easily swaps it with Taehyung’s, taking his and leaving him a flavor that Taehyung apparently likes, judging by the smile back on his face. “You shouldn’t worry about it.”

“I’m not worried,” Jimin lies, though the petulance in his voice gives him away. “I just…” His fingers find a thread on Jungkook’s shabby carpet and start idly tugging at it. “He’s your friend, yeah?”

Taehyung and Jungkook nod, with various degrees of certainty.

“And he’s our neighbor. And…”

And Jimin has a good thing going on here. He’s met nice people who actually want to get to know him and spend time with him, who don’t look at him like he’s some kind of a monster, who laugh at his jokes and invite him for ice-cream and sing silly songs with him…

Jimin finally feels like he fits in, for once.

“And you want him to like you?” Taehyung guesses, making a vague gesture with his lollipop.

Jimin sighs, stops playing with the carpet thread. “I don’t know, it’s stupid.”

It’s stupid because he doesn’t know how to explain it. How to tell them that he’s always had this innate need to be liked; to please the people around him, to smile brighter, bow lower, be more respectful, to appear more… like everyone else.

To make up for the fact that he wasn’t; that he was just this strange kid who talked to plants.

He can't tell them that.

“We could ask him?” Taehyung offers. “I could tell him you’re sorry or something, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind-”

“No, that’s okay.” Jimin shakes his head glumly. “I’ll… I’ll think of something.”

It’s an unimportant thing to dwell on, anyway. So what if this one person - who’s not even in the vicinity half the time - holds a mild grudge towards Jimin? Not the first, and certainly not the last. He can’t go through life expecting to be on good terms with absolutely everyone.

But still, Jimin resolves to try one more time. A small gesture to hopefully repair the unfortunate start of his and Yoongi’s relationship, so that Jimin doesn’t have to feel like the SOPE sign is judging him from across the alley whenever he looks up from his work.


It’s after work on Monday - four days after he 'met' Yoongi - and Jimin's sitting in his quiet flower shop, writing a note in the gentle, late afternoon sunlight.

He’s gone through several versions, pink colored post-its crumpled around his cash register, and in the end he decides on the most simple one, with no drawn emojis and only two exclamation points.

I’m truly sorry for coming into your shop without permission, Min Yoongi-ssi. I hope we can both forget about this and be good neighbors in the future! Have a nice day!
- PJM

Jimin finds it positive but not too aggressively cheerful. He’d text Taehyung or Jungkook to ask them about their opinion, but he can already hear Taehyung’s melodious rendition of Let it go~ in his ear, so he keeps this for himself.

He waits a bit more, until Namjoon’s bookstore and Mr. Kim’s antique shop close for the day as well, and the crowd of people passing by dissolves. Jimin slips out of his shop, making sure that no one he knows is outside or paying attention, and walks up to the tattoo parlor, his heart beating in his throat.

It’s too early for Yoongi to be there, what with it being daytime and all; he won’t get caught this time, Jimin repeats to himself.

With shaky hands, he sticks the pink post-it note on the front door, and uses tape to do the same with a small bouquet of flowers he’s arranged beforehand - yellow chrysanthemums, dark blue morning glories and tiny white clematis flowers, like bright stars in the handful, all tied together with a simple, white ribbon. Nothing elaborate, nothing fancy - not even eye-catching, but Jimin hopes pretty nonetheless.

As a final touch, he takes one teabag of his favorite tea - persimmon flavor - and tapes it next to the arrangement.

There. That should be good enough.

He thinks it a small victory that he doesn’t sprint back to his flower shop but walks at a normal speed, and lets out a breath once he’s inside and the door is closed.


He doesn’t mean to hang around and witness Yoongi’s reaction to his token of reconciliation; Jimin just happens to tend to his plants a little slower than usual, talks to them a little longer, listens to music from his phone and maybe dances around the small shop as the evening grows darker.

He switches off the lights and takes off his dark green apron, ready to call it a night, and is only a little surprised that Yoongi's already outside.

He’s early again.

As Jimin watches him walk down from the boulevard to his shop - clad in black and hiding his face, as always - his first instinct is to flatten himself to the floor and pretend he’s not there; even better, to pretend he’s dead.

But then he figures he’s safe in the near-total darkness, what with two street lamps just between the flower and the tattoo shops out of order.

In the several seconds it takes for Yoongi to approach the door to his shop and stop with keys in his hand - realizing there’s something taped at his eye level - Jimin questions his entire existence up until that point; he has time to freak out over his decision to make nice with Yoongi, then to reaffirm his belief that it was the right thing to do, only to change his mind again and be convinced that it will only make things worse-

Yoongi has dug out his phone from the pocket of his jeans and turned on the flashlight, now using it to better see the note and the small bouquet, and oh my god Jimin had actually left a teabag there, how did he ever think that was a good idea-

Yoongi reaches up to unstick the note, and in the white light of his phone Jimin notices something he’s failed to before - ink, over the back of Yoongi’s left hand, from the end of his long sleeve up to his knuckles.

Somehow it hasn’t crossed Jimin’s mind that Yoongi would have tattoos, though of course he would. It’s what he loves, obviously, so why wouldn’t he have some of his own.

Jimin’s crouching behind the rosebush in the window of his shop, too far away to discern the details of the tattoo, but it looks like a flame, maybe, something intricate-

Shit! ” Jimin hisses when Yoongi turns around to look at the flower shop.

He ducks down behind the bush, stops breathing entirely as he counts the terrified pounds of his heart; as he prays, prays that Yoongi didn’t see him and isn’t coming over.

But when the roses shimmer with a warmth signaling an A-OK - letting him know that no one's about to knock on the door - Jimin gathers his courage to peer through the window again.

Yoongi’s still there, still holding his flashlight. He’s taken off the note and the teabag and Jimin doesn’t see either stomped to the ground, so that's encouraging.

However, as Yoongi peels off the tape from the flowers - gently, possibly cursing the sticky residue it’ll leave on his door, fuck, another thing Jimin didn’t take into account - Jimin thinks something’s wrong with his eyes.

Because it’s not there anymore.

Yoongi’s tattoo on his left hand, the black ink in stark contrast with his pale skin, one which Jimin couldn't get a closer look at but is absolutely certain he's seen - it’s gone.

What the fuck.

Chapter Text

If Jimin expects something extraordinary to happen after he’s offered his final, thoughtful (he thinks so) apology to Yoongi, he doesn’t get it.

Life continues on as before, with early summer days and long work hours, fragrant flowers and colorful ribbons.

Pink Petal has become almost as popular as the other shops around it, and Jimin is grateful for the work (and the income). At the start of each shift he prepares a few bouquets in advance, to make it easier in the morning rush, when his little space is sometimes so full he has to ask customers to wait for up to 20 minutes for an arrangement.

Most people don’t mind. Some are in a hurry and can’t spare the time, but Jimin has already started noticing frequent visitors.

A thin, wrinkly old man who comes in every week to buy flowers for his wife; a plump middle-aged woman who asks Jimin about his day and tells him to eat a lot for lunch, to keep his strength. A young girl, maybe twelve, who came in three times so far to buy the biggest, most purple flower you have, sir! (Jimin has to remind his lilac time dahlias to save at least one of their dinner-plate-sized dark purple flowers in case the girl comes back again.)

He’s almost stopped paying attention to the tattoo shop, and to Min Yoongi. If, by any chance, Jimin does wake up in the middle of the night now, he barely glances out the window, and in the morning he usually forgets if the lights had been on in Yoongi’s shop or not.

(He hopes Yoongi at least accepted his apology and isn’t harboring any hard feelings.)

In the early afternoon lull one day, right after his lunch break (Mrs. Kim has outdone herself with a banana cinnamon muffin that was so good Jimin nearly cried while eating it. The gerbera laughed at him for that, as much as a flower can laugh.), Jimin is watering his plants from a small watering can with a sunflower at the tip (a gift from Taehyung), to help them handle the scorching heat better.

People are milling about outside, not as many as in the early morning or later in the afternoon, but Jimin still hears a loud, clear:

“HYUNG!” booming down the alley.

He looks up from a plant in the window - several other people turn to see who’s shouting, too - and he’s not surprised that it’s Taehyung.

His red hair is unmistakable as he hurries through the crowd, wearing a loose white shirt with bright yellow and blue leaves on it, and followed by Jungkook, his piercings glinting in the sunlight, both grinning widely at-

Jimin drops his watering can; it clunks on the floor and rolls away under a shelf.

It’s Yoongi.

Oh my god, it’s Yoongi.

Min Yoongi is standing there, in the door of his tattoo shop, in broad daylight. (But wearing all black and long sleeved and the snapback and the mask again and seriously. Doesn’t he own colors. Isn’t he familiar with the concept of summer.)

Jimin isn’t sure how he can tell, but Yoongi looks surprised at Taehyung and Jungkook approaching him; and then outright panicked - waving his hands in an abort! kind of gesture - when Jungkook bends his knees in front of him, wraps his arms around Yoongi’s legs and lifts his hyung up as though Yoongi’s lighter than a butterfly.

Taehyung is laughing, talking to them, both young men so excited and so oblivious to how Yoongi’s trying to get Jungkook to put him down - to stop jiggling him in the air, saying who knows what under that mask.

Jimin’s gaze seeks out Yoongi’s hands - no tattoos on the back of either - as Jungkook spins him around and finally sets him back on his feet.

Friends, the rosebush comments beside him, like a warm breeze against Jimin’s skin.

After the initial, lively greeting, Jungkook and Taehyung take a respectful step back, but they’re still smiling and chatting, and by the slight pinch of his eyes Yoongi seems to be a little amused, too. He claps Taehyung on the shoulder - Taehyung lights up like payday came early this month - and Jimin finds himself smiling along with them.

Yes. They're friends.

Then Jungkook motions towards the flower shop - crap!

Jimin scrambles as the three look his way, suddenly forgetting what he’s been doing and what he wanted to do next; he ends up awkwardly half-running half-leaping towards the cash register, grabbing his phone next to it.

A text, sure. He could totally be getting a Very Important Text right now.

They’re talking about him. Jungkook had mentioned him and now they’re talking about him and oh my god what are they saying.

Jimin’s grateful for the momentary lack of customers as he aimlessly scrolls through his texts - in this chaotic, flustered state he wouldn’t be able to focus on anything, except on how much he needs to not be looking at the tattoo shop right now.

Is Yoongi telling them how Jimin just blatantly walked into his shop the other night? Are they telling him about Jimin in return? The good stuff? The bad stuff? What bad stuff do they know about him?

He’s late, sometimes, he supposes. Okay, he’s late a lot of times, but that’s not too bad, is it? Are they laughing at him?

Jimin’s cheeks heat up at the thought, his heart beating almost painfully.

No, they wouldn’t laugh at him. Taehyung and Jungkook are nice. They’re kind, they like Jimin, they wouldn’t- Not like the kids from Jimin’s school days.

They’re not laughing at him.

His jittery fingers swipe through the photo gallery next; Jimin only vaguely registers that his phone has been hijacked at some point in the last week, since there are about 48 new Taehyung selfies in it.

Maybe Yoongi’s asking about the weird note and the little flower bouquet, and maybe they’re telling him that-

Jimin jumps at the jingle of the little bell above his door and his phone clatters to the counter.

“Heyoooo~” Taehyung greets with a blinding grin, holding the door open for Jungkook to come in too.

“Hey guys,” Jimin says, distracted. With his mouth dry, he searches behind them, eyes roaming over the people passing by, but he can’t see Yoongi anywhere anymore. Thank god.

“We came to ask if you have a fire extinguisher,” Jungkook says, as Taehyung flutters around to take a closer look at all the flowers. (He does that every time he’s in the flower shop; inspects the plants, lightly touches the soft petals, maybe even voices his admiration for the colorful beauties. He doesn’t know it, of course, but over half the flowers have a crush on him and Jimin gets a lot of When’s the boy with the dreamy voice coming back? )

“I- what?” Jimin blinks to snap out of his nervousness and finally focuses on his two friends. “Do I have what?”

“A fire extinguisher,” Jungkook repeats, like this is a completely normal question.

“Um. Are you planning on setting something on fire?” Jimin can never know, especially if whatever they’re doing involves Taehyung.

“Not intentionally,” Jungkook says, and looks at his phone. “Namjoon-hyung asks for… safety reasons.”

“He’s cooking!” Taehyung adds from where he’s bent over the white daisies. Jimin has to actively suppress a rush of pure, unadulterated giddiness from the plant; it always gets too excited when Taehyung’s around.

“He’s cooking,” Jimin repeats dully. With seeing Yoongi just then, and knowing that he’s obviously been talked about, and with the rustle that’s spreading through his shop now - he really needs to talk with the plants about this whole crush deal - Jimin’s a little lost, a little slow, and needs things spelled out for him. “I’m sorry, what-”

“I don’t have a fire extinguisher anymore,” Jungkook says, “because we used it last time Namjoon-hyung tried to cook. Almost burned his bookstore to the ground.”

“Paper - highly flammable,” Taehyung murmurs, fingers brushing over the large hydrangea flowers; the plant positively giggles in Jimin’s mind. For fuck’s sake.

“I didn’t get a chance to replace it yet,” Jungkook continues. “He has one, but he wants to make sure that he has other fire extinguishing options, just in case.”

“The case being that he starts a fire again,” Jimin says.

“Yup.” Taehyung straightens up and beams, and the flowers swoon.

“I… Yes, I have a fire extinguisher.” Jimin finally catches up. “A small one, in the back.”

“Cool! We have to go do something for Tae’s father, but I can tell Namjoon-hyung to call you, if anything happens?” Jungkook’s phone lights up in his hand.

“Sure, yeah, give him my number.”

“Pizza later?” Taehyung asks, diverting Jimin’s attention as Jungkook checks his phone. “We’re thinking either Breaking Bad marathon, or... a few rounds of Slenderman. ” He waggles his eyebrows at the latter.

“Uh… Yes to the pizza, yes to the show, hell no to Slenderman,” Jimin says. “I’m not sacrificing my sleep just for Jungkookie’s enjoyment again.”

Jungkook lets out a snort. “You two are funny when you scream like little girls.”

Taehyung punches him lightly in the chest, but Jungkook only laughs louder.

“Okay, so!” he exclaims then, locking his phone and grinning at Jimin. “We’re out. Namjoon-hyung is grateful and hopes he won’t have to call on your firefighting abilities.”

Jimin nods. “No problem. Text me when you’re done with whatever it is that you’re doing. I close at 6.”

“We know.”

Jungkook heads for the door first, and steps out into the bustling alley when Taehyung pauses at the threshold, like he’s just remembered something. “Oh, yeah…” He turns and smirks over his shoulder. “Yoongi-hyung says thanks for the tea.”

Jimin’s stricken face must have been hilarious because Taehyung’s laugh echoes even after he closes the door behind him. Jimin groans and drapes himself over the counter, burying his head in his arms, not really sure why he’s feeling fifty shades of embarrassed about the whole thing.


Namjoon doesn’t burn the building down. (“There’s always next time,” Taehyung says cheerfully.)

Through the power of Jungkook’s bunny cheeks, big eyes and cute kissy lips, he convinces Taehyung to play Slenderman with him and Jimin doesn’t sleep well for the next four days. (Granted, nobody forces him to stay and watch, but fuck it, he likes being with them.)

Yoongi starts coming round to the tattoo shop every day during work hours.

Jimin sees him when he’s heading for his lunch break, or when he’s walking out a customer, or making sure that the plants outside are okay and have everything they need. But Jimin also sees him when horror games don’t let him sleep at night - rather, sees the lights on in the tattoo shop - and wonders, between the day visits and the night visits, how much Yoongi sleeps. If at all.

Nevertheless, Jimin always respectfully bows, and Yoongi responds with a curt nod, no words exchanged.

Except one time, when Jimin’s feeling particularly bold on his way from the bakery - when it’s sunny but not sweltering, and when he’s looking forward to more of the banana cinnamon muffins he got from Mrs. Kim - he bows to Yoongi and then gives a little wave and a smile, in keeping with the pleasant day.

He stifles a laugh when Yoongi stops walking, just short of the tattoo shop door. Yoongi’s eyes go wide under the snapback - only for a second before he recollects himself and nods back. After a beat, he also raises a hand in greeting, but doesn’t wave - just sort of holds it there - and then hurries to take his keys out of his pocket.

Jimin giggles.

It’s nice to know that, despite the black outfit and the whole lone-wolf image, Yoongi can be a little awkward, too.


Compared to perhaps all other flower shops in the city, Jimin’s works a little strangely.

It’s obvious from the large pots filled with soil and real, live plants growing in them, instead of buckets of water and stemmed flowers bought wholesale.

If any of Jimin’s customers notice it, none of them comment on it (like Jungkook had, the first time Jimin had met him). They’re happy enough to get luscious, vibrant bouquets artfully decorated with bows and ladybug pins, to chat about the weather with him, and Jimin likes to think they all leave the flower shop a touch smiley-er than they’ve been when they came in.

That’s his goal, anyway.

Though he doesn’t exactly fulfill his customer’s wishes; not in the sense that they can point to a flower and say ‘I want that one’. The customers can ask for a certain color, or flowers for a particular occasion, and Jimin is more than happy to arrange the most beautiful combination his current (not insignificant) selection has to offer, but he’s not cutting the flowers before they’re ready.

Before they’re at the right moment of bloom. Before the plants themselves tell him they’re ready for cutting.

It’s never been a problem. After all, not many people care exactly which flowers go into a bouquet, as long as they’re satisfied with how it looks when it’s finished.

Jimin is closing up on a Friday, slowly carrying in the pots one by one from the stand outside, grateful for the end of the work week. Jungkook and Taehyung are across town, staying with Taehyung’s grandmother for the weekend, but Jimin is looking forward to just lazing on his couch and streaming a movie. Pigging out on instant ramen and discount ice cream cake.

A group of girls, college students it seems, chatter excitedly among themselves as they make their way out of Namjoon’s bookstore, but they’re one of the last people to pass by. Taehyung’s father had locked up his antique shop and gone to his apartment about half an hour ago, and Mr. and Mrs. Kim’s bakery is also closing soon.

Jimin’s right in the middle of hauling a large pot of yellow daffodils when a man walks up to his storefront; tall, blond, western, pointing at the dutch lilies and asking for one cellophane wrapped flower in decent Korean.

Jimin sets the heavy pot down on the ground and dusts his hands. He gives a short bow, smiling apologetically. The lilies are admittedly stunning, with their rich red center and bright yellow around the petal edges, but,

“Very sorry, sir, but the lilies are not ready for arranging yet.” He glances at the plant and catches a feeling - breezy, blue, like a whiff of early spring - almost ready, but not quite. “May I suggest something else instead? Our carnations for example, are quite-”

“No, no, just the red one, thanks.” The man is impatient, taking out his wallet and leafing through the bills. “How much?”

Jimin thinks it’s best not to keep him. After all, it’s past six, and he seems intent on what he can’t get at Pink Petal. “I am truly sorry, but these flowers are not for sale at the moment. If you really need them, there is another flower shop down the boulevard that should still be open-”

“What?” The man stops, glares at him down his hooked nose; Jimin gets a distinct feeling that - judging by the impeccable dark blue suit and the expensive watch around his thick wrist - this person isn’t used to being rejected.

Jimin widens his smile to hide his unease. “I said, there’s a-”

The man exclaims in a foreign language - a curse word, maybe - obviously irritated. “Are you serious?! You’re not going to sell me the flower?” His voice is rising.

Jimin clasps his hands together in front of him, doing his best to appear contrite. “I’m very sorry, but the way I work doesn’t always allow me to-”

“The way you work?!” the man interrupts, incredulous. His laugh is more of a bark. “You have to be kidding me, it’s a fucking flower shop! What can possibly be different when working in a-”

He cuts himself off, wide eyes raking over the flower pots, the one next to Jimin’s feet, more inside… Jimin practically hears the gears turning in his head, connecting, realizing-

“You…” he starts when he turns back to Jimin. More words in a foreign language, then, “Unbelievable! You work! ” He laughs, loudly, chillingly, which makes Jimin take an involuntary step back. “Fucking hell, you actually work!

Jimin doesn’t get the joke. The man’s eyes are too round now, and Jimin would love nothing more than to just run to his shop and lock himself inside.

The plants next to him are getting restless.

“Sir, please-”

“Where I come from,” the man shouts, squaring his shoulders, seeming impossibly tall. “Monsters like you don’t have the right to work-”

“I’m not-”

“-they don’t have the right to live! I can’t believe this fucking country, letting you have your own shop, letting you walk around freely, what the hell-”

“Please, lower your voice-”

“I WILL NOT!” the man bellows; Jimin flinches. He feels the daffodils beside him expanding, branching out, growing thorns that they usually don’t have - no, no, no. Control it. “A FREAK LIKE YOU HAS NO RIGHT TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, FUCKING LOWLIFE-”

The warmth that Jimin and his plants share - that soft, ever-present tranquility - is getting hotter, spikier; he senses the carnations slithering over the edge of their pot, feels their urge to wrap around the man’s ankle and pull - make him stumble, make him break something-

No, no, stop this.

“-NEVER IN MY LIFE BEEN TREATED LIKE THIS. YOU ARE NOTHING, A-”

“HEY!”

The third voice is equally loud, hoarse, slicing through the torrent of insults. The man shuts up, surprised, and Jimin looks to his left-

“Yoongi-ssi…” he all but whispers, breath caught in his throat.

Of course it was too loud. Of course he had heard. Maybe everyone heard.

Panic sinks its claws into Jimin’s chest, so deep that he can’t inhale as he watches his neighbor come closer.

Yoongi isn’t wearing his snapback this time, but his hair is also black, falling over his forehead, matching his mask and clothes. Yoongi crosses the alley from his tattoo shop, eyes fixed on the foreigner.

“Is there a problem here?” he asks calmly, but his glare is ice cold.

“Yes, there’s a fucking problem!” The man points a finger at Jimin. Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t, don’t- “Did you know that this guy is a- a FREAK!”

“A…?”

“A FUCKING FREAK!” the man repeats, obviously not caring who hears him. “A DOG, A FUCKING ABNORMALITY-”

Jimin clenches his jaw; lowers his gaze at the abuse. His hands are shaking, and he curls them into fists at his sides to stop them, to hold back the nausea.

“-THAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD. YOUR KIND SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO EVEN COME CLOSE TO US, NOTHING BUT ANIMALS-”

“My neighbor here is probably too polite to say anything,” Yoongi interrupts smoothly, his voice low and steady as he comes to stand beside Jimin; a step behind, so that Jimin doesn’t see him, but feels his presence at his back. Solid. Grounding.

Jimin breathes through his nose and somehow finds a touch of reassurance in that proximity, as Yoongi continues, “Too polite to call you out on your narrow-minded, bigoted bullshit. ”  

Jimin’s head snaps up. He shares a look of genuine shock with the foreigner, both caught off guard. Did Yoongi just…?

“But I’m not,” Yoongi says.

And in front of Jimin’s eyes, the foreigner’s expression shifts from surprise to abject horror; color drains from his face, mouth opens to let out a weak, strangled sound-

“You should fucking run,” Yoongi spits out, a steely edge to the last word - and the man doesn’t need telling twice.

He staggers backwards, trips on a crack in the pavement and almost falls flat on his ass in his hurry to get away. “Freaks!” he gasps, then continues speaking in his native language, practically sprinting out of the alley.

Jimin watches him go, stunned.

Um.

What just happened?

Yoongi - admittedly with an aura of touch me and I will cut you, but still - short, slender, pale Yoongi - made a man twice his size run for his life, as though he was being chased by a horde of little girl ghosts.

Because the man had shouted at Jimin. Called him names. Publicly exposed him for what he was.

And Min Yoongi defended him.

“Park Jimin!” Yoongi brings Jimin back from his thoughts; it sounds like he’s been trying to do that for a while.

Jimin turns to look at him, dazed. There’s nothing out of the ordinary; no disfigurations on Yoongi’s face or body, nothing leaking or coming out of his ears, nothing that would make Jimin absolutely terrified of him, other than the usual.

Just Yoongi, looking back at Jimin with a gleam of what might be concern in his dark eyes.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asks.

“I…” What had made the foreigner so scared? What did Yoongi do? What- “I think so. Yes,” Jimin replies, searching for any hint in Yoongi’s unreadable expression, in the black of his mask.

“Take it easy today, yeah?”

“Yeah…”

And before Jimin can ask or say anything more, Yoongi gives him a nod - like all the days before that - and walks away, back to his tattoo shop, like nothing happened.

Jimin doesn’t even get to say thank you.


He stays in his flower shop that evening.

Jimin sits on the tiled floor in the dark, illuminated only by the street lamps from outside. He’s surrounded by his flowers, swathed in their comforting warmth; no longer hot as the sun, but completely enveloping him, like a hug that he very much needs at the moment.

It’s been so long - years - since he’s had an incident like this. Since someone attacked him just because his very existence went against whatever twisted beliefs they held.

It was worse when he was a kid. When he was still going to school, when he hadn’t yet learned that there was a line between what he was, and what most others were. (When some of his classmates had purposefully started plucking leaves off a bush, and Jimin couldn’t stop screaming, couldn’t stop the shrill, high-pitched note the plant made in his mind as it was torn apart.)

Later, it was easier. No one wanted to get too close to him, but hardly anyone openly expressed their hatred. Not when he was surrounded by his family - his normal family - almost all the time. A muttered profanity here, a hiss there, a degrading name - nothing he couldn’t handle.

Jimin inhales deeply, calming his thoughts at the flowery scent.

He’ll have to grow thicker skin.

Or, we could just take care of the person for you, the carnations supply, and Jimin shoots them a glare. Not only is using his talents in public illegal, it also wouldn’t do absolutely anything to help. The world thinks low enough of his kind as it is.

His phone vibrates on the floor next to him, with a barrage of texts. Jimin unlocks it.

MasTaer
!!!! R U OK????
WHAT HAPPND???
need us to come over???

Jimin stares. Does Taehyung know? Does Jungkook? Who told them? Yoongi? After today, he must’ve realized what Jimin’s deal was. It’s not that hard; if anyone stopped to think long enough about all the inconsistencies in Jimin’s work, the conclusion would be blaringly obvious.

But do they know?

MasTaer
jimni
JIMIN
jiminie
minie
MINI
do I have to send KOOK to kick someone’s ass??

No, no, they can’t know. They can’t-

MasTaer
we’re coming ovr
just have to tell grandma

With his heart in his throat, Jimin types out a response, if nothing then to stop Taehyung from cutting their visit short.

Jiminie
I’m fine!
pls don’t come
enjoy your time at grandma’s
I’m really okay

It’s only a second before his phone starts ringing with an incoming call, one of Taehyung’s sillier selfies showing up on screen.

“Are you okay?! ” Taehyung practically screeches as soon as Jimin swipes to answer. “What’s going on?!”

“I’m fine, Tae,” Jimin reassures him. Taehyung doesn’t sound like he knows. He sounds worried, maybe a touch frantic, but not like I just found out my new friend has the ability to talk to plants. “Really.”

“Look,” Taehyung lowers his voice, “if this is like a hostage situation or something, just say… I don’t know, milk, or peaches, or some random shit like that, and we’ll call the cops. Do you need fresh peaches, Jimin?”

Jimin allows himself a small smile, relaxing a bit. “No, thank you, Taehyung, I don’t need peaches right now.”

Taehyung gasps. “You said the CODE WORD! Hold on, okay, just sit tight, we’re on our way-”

“Is Jungkookie there? I’d like to talk to a sane person now.”

“Yeah, I’m here, ” Jungkook’s voice comes from a distance, and Jimin realizes they’ve put him on speakerphone. “It’s the sugar; Tae’s grandma made some really delicious cookies and he ate, like, 32 of them.”

It wasn’t that many!”

“I counted. She did too. In fact, I owe your grandma 20 000 won because I thought your limit would be 30.”

“Oh my god.” Jimin bursts into giggles, nearly falling over backwards on the floor. Bless them.

“We’re bringing some cookies back for you, too,” Taehyung says.

“If they survive the trip,” Jungkook mutters. “But seriously, you okay, hyung? What happened?”

Jimin sighs. “Seriously, and for the tenth time, yes, I’m okay. Thank you for worrying about me, but it really wasn’t that- It was just a rude customer, that’s all.” Which technically isn’t a lie. “Wait.” He frowns. “How did you even know something was wrong?”

Not that he’s not thankful they were spared the details, but-

“Yoongi-hyung practically ordered us to make sure you’re okay,” Taehyung says. “Without saying why. And he didn’t respond to any of my texts after that - as per usual.”

“Oh.”

Jimin looks out the window. He can only see the top of the tattoo shop window from the floor, but the lights are on.

Huh.

So. The snappy, lonely, awkward, potentially dangerous insomniac with a firm stand on the hottest social issue in the world still wants Jimin to be okay after everything; even indirectly. Even while revealing nothing of what he’d heard.

It makes Jimin smile.

“If someone’s holding a gun to your head, just say the word balloon,” Taehyung whispers into his ear.

Jimin laughs. “I can hear Jungkookie’s eyeroll from here.”

“That’s it. My eyes are permanently glued to the back of my head now, ” Jungkook says, and Jimin thinks he hears Taehyung smacking him. What follows is definitely the sound of Jungkook retaliating and Taehyung yelps FUCKING OW! into the phone.

“He’s hitting me!” Taehyung complains.

“You hit me first!”

Jimin shakes his head. Kids.

“Because you don’t support my theory that Jimin might be kidnapped or something!”

“He’s clearly okay.”

“I’m just making sure!” A pause. “And I’m hilarious.”

Jungkook laughs, hits Taehyung again, and then neither of them speak for a while, and Jimin’s pretty sure they’re making out.

“Okay, lovebirds!” he exclaims; as much as he likes their concern for him, he’s not about to third wheel for the couple over the phone. “I’m gonna go now, and you two enjoy your time at grandma Kim’s.”

“On a scale of 1 to 10 how okay are you?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin actually stops to give this serious thought, ignoring Jungkook’s exasperated groan.

He’s okay. He’s calmed down; his hands had stopped shaking, he doesn’t feel like crying anymore, and the two have succeeded in lifting his spirits again.

“Seven,” he says. “Seven and a half.”

“Kook? Does that sound acceptable?”

“We would have to know how that compares to other situations. Like, watching us play games-”

“-if it’s a horror game, then four,” Jimin cuts in.

“-eating barbecue together-”

“-a solid nine-”

“-on a regular work day-”

“-eh, anywhere between a six and a nine…”

“-so, yeah, I’d say seven and a half is acceptable,” Jungkook concludes.

“We’re bringing chestnut cookies in two days!” Taehyung exclaims. “And we’re taking you out! And- and- we’re gonna buy you something pretty!”

Jimin laughs. “You’re not buying me anything. Except maybe dinner.”

"DEAL!”

When they wrap up their conversation and Jimin is left to his thoughts in the flower shop again, he’s still smiling.

So, crossing his legs again and looking about at his small, floral army, he asks, which one of you wants to go to Yoongi-ssi’s?


It’s exhausting, trying to have a civilized discussion with his plants.

A lot of them - except the ones who were at the far back in the shop - witnessed the incident with the foreigner, and thus all clamor at once to volunteer as a thank you gift for Yoongi.

There’s a lot of shut up, you were the present last time! and your flowers aren’t even that pretty! and Jimin actually has to separate the gerbera and the snapdragons before they hurt each other.

In the end, he takes into account everyone’s wishes and opinions, but his word is final. He settles for a bellflower, the type called the Blue Waterfall; a small, low plant with star-shaped lavender blue blossoms. Cute, unobtrusive, and not requiring much effort to maintain.

In the street lamplight, Jimin fetches a small, empty terracotta pot and fills it with the potting mix he always has on hand. He waits for the bellflower to separate the cutting by itself - a short stem peels away from the main plant, with no flowers, only tiny leaves. It gently wraps around Jimin’s fingers when he reaches for it.

Jimin smiles - a baby plant.

He places the cutting into the new pot, and watches it feel out the new living space. He focuses on his internal energy, and the warmth from all the plants around them - pulsing, encouraging - and channels it into the process of taking root, which is shortened to less than an hour.

The baby plant cozies up in its new home, emitting a spark of warmth to signal that it’s okay, and immediately sprouting a small blue flower, quite proud of itself. Jimin laughs.

He glances out the window again - Yoongi is still in his shop - and quickly takes out a pink post-it note, scribbles on it, and sticks it on the terracotta pot.

Then he washes dirt off his hands in the little sink in the back, makes sure his blond hair isn’t a complete mess and that there aren’t any visible stains on his t-shirt, and finally takes the pot with him into the pleasant night.

He pauses before the front door of the tattoo shop. Yoongi sits at a counter some distance away, bent over his notebook, focused on his writing.

A diary? Jimin doubts it. Diaries are a pain in the ass to keep regularly. He tried it once; didn’t work.

A book? Is Yoongi writing a novel?

Letters to someone?

Before Jimin can go further down that thought process, or find a reason not to disturb his neighbor in the middle of the night (again), he raises his free hand and knocks on the glass of the door, rattling the CLOSED sign.

Yoongi looks up. Jimin smiles widely and waves.

Yoongi doesn’t move - looking largely like he wants to just wait until Jimin gives up and leaves - but then he gets to his feet, thankfully, and comes over.

“It’s past midnight,” is the first thing Yoongi says when he opens the door.

Jimin doesn’t let that deter him. He beams even wider and bows a little. “I’m sorry, Yoongi-ssi, I know it’s late, but I saw the lights on, and… And I wanted to say thank you, for earlier.”

Yoongi’s quiet, brooding intensity makes Jimin nervous still, but he doesn’t look away from those piercing eyes.

This man defended him. He had thanked Jimin for the tea. He’s not just black clothes and snarky attitude and questionable sleeping habits.

“Thank you?” Yoongi repeats, like he doesn’t understand.

“Yeah, for… For what you did. I brought you a gift!” Jimin smiles at him again and lifts the Blue Waterfall baby.

Yoongi looks down at the pot, then back at Jimin, then at the pot again.

“More flowers,” he says flatly.

Jimin isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Or maybe just a neutral thing. A statement.

“Yes, more flowers. Seeing as I kind of have a lot of those?” he says, aiming for a joke.

Yoongi doesn’t find it amusing. But he glances back at Jimin and then steps away from the door, leaving it open for Jimin to follow, if he wants.

So Jimin does.

“Um. I…” he shuffles in and closes the door behind him. “I was a bit- It’s been a while since I’ve had a customer who was that… That insensitive, I guess-”

“He was a dick,” Yoongi supplies, going back to his workspace.

Jimin snorts. “Yeah, he was a dick. But I’m not that good with confrontation in general, especially with people who are so…” Big. Loud. Hateful.

Jimin clears his throat and sets the pot down on the nearest counter. “I wasn’t sure what you liked… Most people like blue, so I assumed it would be okay... Um. It’s called a bellflower,” he says, gesturing to the small plant that confidently sways at the attention. “It needs watering about once a week, maybe twice if it’s too hot - just keep the earth damp. I wrote the instructions on the note. It, um… If you believe in any of the flower symbolism or meanings or whatever, it’s supposed to represent gratitude.”

Yoongi had picked up his pen during Jimin’s speech and continued writing, seemingly not paying attention, but now he looks at him again.

“Which I am,” Jimin says earnestly, offering a small smile. “I really am grateful, Yoongi-ssi. Not only for- for chasing the guy away, but also for telling Taehyungie and Jungkookie without… actually… telling them.”

Without revealing what I am.

Yoongi watches him, impassive, and then returns to his writing. “It’s not my thing to tell,” he says simply.

“Right. Still, it was very thoughtful of you.”

Yoongi emits a noise between a snort and a hum.

He doesn’t seem interested in conversation, more engrossed in his own work, but he also doesn’t kick Jimin out - which obviously Yoongi has no problem doing - so Jimin figures it’s okay to hang around for a bit.

The tattoo shop is still pristine, still unused… The wall of tattoos he’d been admiring the first time he met Yoongi still takes Jimin’s breath away.

One day, if he’s brave enough and has a good idea, maybe he could ask Yoongi for a tattoo. Like that butterfly over there, looking like it’s transparent, made of glass; or a row of adorable black sheep along a collarbone, though maybe that’s too cutesy for him.

If Yoongi’s even interested in doing tattoos anymore. Maybe he won’t ever open the shop for customers again; who knows what's the reason he stopped working.

“I like blue,” Yoongi says suddenly, making Jimin whirl around. He’d taken a few steps towards the photos, and for a panicked second he thinks maybe he wasn’t allowed to, like last time, but Yoongi doesn’t seem bothered.

In fact, he’s gotten up from his chair and is now standing by the flower pot, looking at the baby bellflower.

“It goes by the name Blue Waterfall,” Jimin says, coming closer as well.

Yoongi reaches for the plant, slowly brushing his pale fingers over the green; in front of their eyes the baby plant grows another stem, dotted with more tiny leaves.

Jimin giggles, enjoying how Yoongi’s eyebrows shoot up, disappearing into his dark hair. Surprised is a funny look on Yoongi. On the upper half of Yoongi’s face, at least.

“It likes you,” Jimin says.

“Huh.” Yoongi keeps idly tracing the edges of the one flower with the pads of his fingers, as though he’s caressing it, and Jimin’s hit with a wave of what he calls a plant purr - a sound, a vibration more like, that a plant gives out when it’s blissfully content.

The bellflower was a good choice.

“You…” Yoongi starts, then clears his throat. “Can you talk to it?” he asks, averting his gaze from the flower to Jimin.

Jimin looks at him. It’s out of reflex, out of habit more than anything else, that he searches for red flags - malice, or a mad kind of fascination, or fear - but finds none in Yoongi’s eyes.

Yoongi’s expression, his posture, is as though he’d asked Jimin about the weather today.

“Um. It’s not exactly talking,” Jimin replies, thinking how best to explain. He doesn’t remember the last time he put his abilities into words. If ever. “It’s more of… a feeling, I guess? Like, they don’t exactly speak in my head and clearly say, I want water. It’s more of a feeling that I get from them, a… a need , for water, or like a thought, that I interpret myself.”

This time Yoongi definitely hums, and looks back to the baby bellflower. “Do you ever get it wrong?”

“Huh?”

“The need, the feeling. Do you ever interpret it as something different than what the plant wants to say?”

Jimin thinks about it. “Sometimes,” he says. “It used to happen a lot more when I was younger, when I was less used to… all of that. But now… Not so often. Maybe, if the… thought, or whatever, is complex. But I’m usually quite good at figuring out what they mean.”

Yoongi nods. “Cool.”

“Yeah, well. It’s definitely useful when you’re running a flower shop,” Jimin says, snorting at his own lame humor.

Yoongi doesn’t reply, and withdraws his hand, but the baby plant is so happy with the attention it has received that another flower bud peeks out on the new stem, almost ready to bloom.

“You’re very open minded,” Jimin says before he can think better of it. Yoongi looks at him. “With the whole… my neighbor is a less cool version of Poison Ivy thing.”

The breath that Yoongi exhales is one out of amusement now; his eyes go soft at the corners, like he’s smiling. Jimin is getting better at deciphering his sounds and mannerisms, and feeling a touch proud of himself, not unlike the baby bellflower.

“In my hometown, people weren’t so… accepting,” Jimin says. “Not so bad, but not so great, either. I guess it really is different, in a big city like this, huh?”

Another hum. Yoongi is silent for a couple of moments, contemplating, before he says, “It’s not just about the city.”

“No? What do you mean?”

Yoongi watches him, dark eyes sharp and assessing; Jimin does his best not to shy away from it.

Then Yoongi raises his hands and slowly, little by little, he rolls up one of his long sleeves, up to his elbow.

“You’re not the only freak in this neighborhood, kid.”

Chapter Text

Jimin’s eyes nearly pop right out of their sockets.

Whoaaaaaa… ” He gapes at Yoongi’s bare forearm, mouth hanging wide open.

Yoongi has tattoos.

Actually, one large sleeve tattoo on his left arm, probably from his shoulder all the way down to his wrist, and it’s…

It’s a beautiful design, black on Yoongi’s pale skin, with different shading, different values; entwined quotes and music notes and piano keys… flames? All bleeding together into a mesmerizing, sinuous pattern, following the lines of his arm flawlessly.

Which would’ve been impressive in and of itself, if the tattoo wasn’t moving.

Jimin’s own skin breaks out in goosebumps as he watches the tattoo ever so slightly expand and shrink back, like it’s breathing. A quote - Did you change? - weaves down from underneath Yoongi’s sleeve, as though it’s curious to see what’s going on; the rest of the design fluidly rearranges around it, liquid ink, letting the quote pass to lightly touch the back of Yoongi’s hand before it goes up again… And the words are different then.

Did I change?

“A minute and 37 seconds,” Yoongi breaks the silence. Jimin tears his gaze away and sees him checking a stopwatch on his phone. Jimin hadn’t even noticed Yoongi taking it out. “Congratulations, Jimin-ssi, that’s only the second longest time someone’s been silent after I showed them my… talent. If you keep it up we’ll have to dethrone the current record holder.”

“B-but…” Jimin stammers, not really sure what he wants to say. He feels like he hasn’t blinked for a stupid amount of time, and that he might never be able to blink again. “You-” He looks down at the tattoo; still just breathing - it occurs to Jimin that it’s maybe reflecting Yoongi’s own breathing, holy shit-

“I have never…” Jimin begins, then pauses again. “Never-”

His mind is flashing in so many different directions that he can’t get a firm grip on any one coherent thought, most revolving around !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and ARE YOU FUCKING SEEING THIS???? and ANOTHER ONE! ANOTHER ONE LIKE ME! ANOTHER. ONE!

“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone like me,” he finally says, looking up into Yoongi’s eyes. “That I knew of.”

Yoongi meets his gaze steadily, and Jimin wishes he didn’t hide under that mask; he wishes to see the expression that matches Yoongi’s almost gentle tone when he says, “Well, now you have.”

He then rolls down his sleeve, completely covering up the tattoo, and looking away; seemingly ignoring how Jimin is still staring at him. A little bit in shock. A little bit in awe.

“You did something, didn’t you?” Jimin whispers. He remembers the petrified look on the foreigner’s face, the frantic, breakneck speed with which he ran from the alley. “To that guy? He was scared shitless. You did something.”

“I did,” Yoongi confirms, a note of smugness in his voice.

“What was it? What did you do?”

It was really only a matter of seconds before Jimin’s natural excitement and bubbliness took over. Yoongi’s like him; he’s different too, and strange, and kind of cool, and badass, and his TATTOOS MOVE AND BREATHE WITH HIM - suddenly Jimin can’t stop grinning so wide that his cheeks start to hurt.

Not the only freak in the neighborhood.

Yoongi turns away, casually strolls back to his workspace, but Jimin sees how he’s trying too hard, obviously enjoying the attention.

“Yoongi-ssi!” Jimin dials up the pleading, skipping after him. “What did you do? Please tell me!”

Yoongi pretends not to hear him. He takes a seat behind his counter and looks over the notebook again, searching where he left off. Jimin only glances down at the mess of lines, seemingly unconnected, before his brain supplies - poetry?

But then he leans over the counter from the other side, and does his best puppy dog look. He knows how effective it can be.

“Please, Yoongi-ssi? I’d really like to know.”

“You’re kind of a brat, aren’t you?” Yoongi mutters, without any real heat to his words. He picks up his pen, but then looks at Jimin, who pouts, jutting out his bottom lip.

Yoongi is unfazed for one valiant second before he sighs heavily. “Fine. You wanna know what I did?”

“Yes!” Jimin grins again, eager.

“Are you paying attention?” Yoongi asks. With both of them leaning with their elbows on the counter - Jimin standing and Yoongi sitting - they’re fairly close, enough for Jimin to think how soft Yoongi looks, somehow, in the weak glow from the lamp in the corner. (Would he still look soft without the mask?)

Jimin nods.

Yoongi arches a brow. “Are you really paying attention?”

“I am!”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, but then closes them. And opens them again.

Jimin screams, jumping back so far he stumbles over one of the reclining chairs. He stops himself before he hits the ground, his legs turned to jelly, not strong enough to get him standing again; Jimin’s left frozen, awkwardly supporting himself on the chair as he stares wide-eyed at Yoongi.

At Yoongi’s eyes, which have gone completely black; the whites too, the entire surface of the eye, as though dipped in a bottle of ink. As though Yoongi had been possessed by a demon.

“Boo,” Yoongi says, the sarcasm suggesting that he will, in fact, not be requiring an exorcist.

“That’s- Oh my god. ” Jimin needs a moment - or seven - to relearn how to breathe; to get his heart to stop pounding in his ears. “Yes, I…” He swallows and pushes himself upright, running his ice cold fingers through his hair. “Now I get why the dude ran like was afraid you were going to eat him or something.”

Yoongi hums, and takes up his pen once more. Easily. Like he hasn’t just popped right out of Jimin’s worst horror-game-induced nightmare.

“Do you…” Jimin gathers the courage to slowly come closer again. “Can you see normally, like that? Or is it… I dunno, like wearing sunglasses?”

Yoongi snorts and strikes out a line of what he’s written. “Depends on the situation. Mostly I see just fine.”

He looks up sharply, pinning Jimin to the spot with that unholy gaze. Fuck, that’s terrifying.

Yoongi’s eyes crinkle at the corners as he smiles; he blinks, and they’re back to normal. Jimin breathes out in shaky relief.

“That. was. horrible,” he says, and follows it with a smile. “But also kind of awesome.”

He leans on the counter again, and finds himself looking over Yoongi’s form - his dark hair, hands which are showing no ink at the moment, black clothes - searching for anything more that’s out of the ordinary. Even though Yoongi’s doing nothing other than reading over what’s on the pages of his convoluted notebook.

“Jimin-ssi,” Yoongi says without looking up.

“Hm?”

“It’s late.”

“Yeah, I guess?”

Yoongi shoots him a flat look. “It means it’s time for you to go now.”

“Oh!” Jimin straightens up at once, letting out a nervous laugh. “Yes! You have… You’re obviously busy. I’m- Yes.” He motions towards the door. “I’m gonna go.”

On his way out he passes the bellflower baby, getting a peep of warmth from it. “Oh yeah…” Jimin approaches and brushes his fingers over the tiny plant, reassures it that it’s in good hands. “Please take care of the flower, Yoongi-ssi. I wrote everything down for you, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to come by!”

“Mhm.” Yoongi’s already writing again, hardly listening.

Jimin opens the front door and takes one step outside, before a thought strikes him. Sudden and burning, a question he needs to know the answer to.

“Um. Yoongi-ssi?”

“Mm?”

“Do, um…” Jimin’s hands twist in the hem of his t-shirt as he mulls over it, debating with himself if he should ask or not. “Do… Taehyung and Jungkook know?” He looks back at Yoongi. “About your- About the tattoos. About you. Do they know?”

He can’t hide his uncertainty - his fear of the answer - even if he tried. Yoongi must have sensed it, because he stops his work and looks up; there’s that hint of gentleness again,

“Of course they do.”


So, as you may know, I met with Yoongi-ssi…

Jimin shakes his head.

You know how… You know how Yoongi-ssi’s… kind of different, right? Well, I’m like him. In a way. Without the badass tattoos though.

He groans and bangs his head against the small plastic table in the kitchen.

For the whole weekend Jimin barely got a wink of sleep. He’d cleaned up his apartment, streamed no less than eight movies he didn’t even remember the names of, unable to think of anything other than his friends; how they know about Yoongi and they have no problems with Yoongi, or being friends with Yoongi and they will have no problems with Jimin, once he tells them-

Only that Jimin’s never actually had to tell anyone that.

Back home, everyone knew. In such a small, close-knitted community, word about his abilities had spread far; there wasn’t a person who walked into his family’s flower shop who didn’t know about him.

So now he’s spending an absurd amount of time thinking - worrying - how to go about it. Should he just mention it in passing, like no big deal? Or should he sit them down and explain it to them? Will they be shocked? Will they need time to process? Maybe he should’ve asked Yoongi for advice.

But then a mental image of a reserved, sarcastic Yoongi comes to Jimin’s mind and he thinks he wouldn’t have gotten proper advice from him anyway.

On Sunday, Jimin can’t sit still. Taehyung and Jungkook have been to his place before, many times, but now Jimin is jittery, impatient. He wipes down the counters and the dining table, fluffs up the two sad-looking pillows on the sofa; he buys soda for all of them and also gets coasters, because he remembers how his mother was very much about the coasters. (Why they’re important, he still has no clue.)

When Jungkook’s hearty laugh resonates through the quiet, early evening in the alley, Jimin knows they’re here.

He chews on his bottom lip as he buzzes them into the building, and counts the thuds of his heart as he waits for them to come up.

But then he opens the door; Jungkook and Taehyung smile wide, bright and familiar, and somehow, it’s not that hard to breathe anymore.

They wrap him up in a bone-crushing hug, and proceed to pull out all the things they’ve brought (even though Jimin insisted that they shouldn’t bring anything).

Taehyung’s grandmother’s cookies - full two boxes of them, what even, how many did the old lady make? - more drinks, enough noodles from the restaurant up the boulevard to feed a small village, and two large paper bags from McDonald’s; it was on the way and Jungkook was peckish and they ended up ordering the entire left side of the menu.

Jimin sits on a cushion on the floor across from the other two, who drop into his lumpy sofa, and they talk and eat, and then eat some more. Jimin is more quiet than usual, hearing all about Taehyung and Jungkook’s weekend while stuffing his mouth full of delicious treats, internally calculating when’s the best moment for… The Talk.

After they pillage through the noodles, one of the McDonald’s bags and one box of cookies, all three take up various horizontal positions - Jungkook leaning sideways on the arm of the sofa, Taehyung sprawling over the rest of it with his head on Jungkook’s thigh, and Jimin on the floor, his cushion now under his head.

“Ugh…” Taehyung groans. “Maybe the fries were too much.”

“Ya think?” Jungkook laughs.

“I should’ve stopped somewhere around the second portion of naengmyeon,” Jimin says, wincing at how much he’d eaten after that.

Taehyung and Jungkook hum in agreement.

“So,” Taehyung begins. “What did you do this weekend, Jiminie?”

“Uh… Nothing much.” Jimin pauses, deciding it’s best to start slowly and tread his way to the point. “I, um… I talked to Yoongi-ssi.”

“Yeah?” Taehyung smiles drowsily.

“Yeah. Because of the whole rude customer thing? He was the one who helped… diffuse the situation, I guess. By scaring the crap out of the guy.”

Jungkook smiles, too, though his eyes are closed. “D’aw, that’s our Yoongi-hyung.”

“Yeah…” Jimin bites his lower lip. “Um. I… went to his shop to thank him for that, and… we talked for a while. He showed me… y’know, his tattoos?”

Taehyung sits up now, propped on his elbows. His eyes are large and excited under his red bangs. “Aren’t they the coolest thing ever?!”

“They definitely are,” Jimin agrees. “I’ve never seen anything like that. He’s…” He smiles, thinking about all the little quirks that make up Min Yoongi that he’s gotten to know so far. “Yoongi-ssi’s pretty cool.”

“Told you,” Jungkook murmurs. His cheek is smushed against the armrest, and he looks half on his way to dozing off.

So far so good. Jimin sits more upright as well, taking in a deep breath. He’s not sure if the thing lodged in his throat is nervousness, or the last chestnut cookie he’s had on top of everything. He tries to swallow it down, but it doesn’t budge.

“So,” he says. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you guys.”

“Uh-huh?”

“It’s… It’s kind of a serious thing. Maybe.” Jimin finds a Big Mac wrapper and balls it up just to have something to do with his hands. “I probably should’ve told you before…”

Jungkook opens his eyes; Taehyung is now completely up, and he gasps dramatically.

“Are you pregnant?! Oh my god, Jiminie, but you haven’t even finished school! How will you support yourself?! Kookie!” He shakes his boyfriend, who just laughs. “Kookie, I’m too young to be a grandfather!”

Jimin shoots him a look, but not without a smile playing at the corners of his lips. Count on Taehyung to lighten every potentially nerve-wracking situation. “Tae.”

Taehyung laughs and slides down on the sofa. “Sorry, yes. We’re listening.”

He and Jungkook are now more or less awake, sitting up; they’re definitely focused on Jimin, who is definitely avoiding their gazes, rolling the Big Mac wrapper ball in his hands. He’s still not sure where to start. If he should just blurt it out, or go in a more roundabout way…

“So. You guys know about the flower shop, right?”

“Uh… The one you work in 10 hours a day from Monday to Friday? The one we’ve visited hundreds of times before?” Jungkook’s sarcasm is palpable. “Yeah, we’re familiar with it.”

Jimin snorts, despite himself. Yeah, it was a dumb question. “Right. So, since you were there, you must have noticed… I mean, Jungkookie already said that… Uh. My plants. They live in pots.”

“Okay?” Taehyung frowns a little, like he’s not sure where Jimin is going with this.

Jimin’s not even sure where Jimin is going with this. He heaves a sigh and tosses the wrapper ball into the pile of empty food containers and bags already on the coffee table.

“I know that’s unusual… You guys must have noticed that it’s unusual. That they live in pots. Because not many florists… work like that. And- and... They’re alive, you see. The plants. And they, uh…”

They talk to me. And I talk back to them. They’re my friends.

Jimin can’t say it. He fidgets with a ring on his index finger, spinning it around, and takes a moment to remind himself; Taehyung and Jungkook think that Yoongi is cool despite what he is, they still like him fine, there’s nothing to-

“Jiminie?” Taehyung interrupts the downward spiral of Jimin’s thoughts. Jimin looks up, into his friend’s eyes, big and kind. “Hey.” Taehyung smiles gently. “Is this about how you talk to your plants?”

“I-” Jimin’s mind grinds to a halt. “You know about that?!”

“Of course we do,” Jungkook says, with an implied duh.

“Wha-...” Jimin’s voice goes all high and squeaky. “But- How?!”

“Well, you’re kind of crap at hiding it,” Taehyung says.

“Seriously,” Jungkook adds. “Your flowers bloom every day, and probably all year long from what we’ve seen so far. No normal flowers do that. It was obvious there was something… strange, going on.”

“Oh my god.” Jimin lets out a weak, relieved laugh and buries his face in his hands.

They knew. They knew?! And they didn’t say anything?! They knew and they didn’t say anything and they still continued hanging out with Jimin, and have let him into their lives and- “How long have you known?” he asks through his palms.

“I don’t know… A month?” Taehyung guesses.

“Maybe two?” Jungkook says.

“So basically from the moment we met?!” Jimin drops his hands and glares at them. It’s been barely over two months since he moved.

Jungkook shrugs. “Probably.”

Jimin lets out a groan. He’s overwhelmed, with surprise and relief, and maybe a touch of frustration with himself, and he pushes himself to his feet to get more cola from the kitchen; to put some distance between them and process just how much of a dumbass he’s been.

“We didn’t want to say anything because we didn’t want to scare you away!” Taehyung calls after him. “You didn’t mention it, so we figured you didn’t want us to know… We liked you, we thought it’d be best to just wait for you to tell us on your own.”

Jimin downs a glass of Coca Cola, bubbles fizzling down his throat.

They knew from the start.

God, Jimin’s always been bad at lying and secrets, and he was so concerned someone would find out that he didn’t notice when someone actually did… And they’re still here, and they still like him, and they didn’t want to scare him away… Jimin smiles and leans his forehead on the door of an upper kitchen cabinet.

What did he do in previous life to deserve such beautiful people in this one?

“Chim?” Taehyung once again calls from the living room. “We’re sorry!”

“Really sorry, Jimin-hyung!”

“But we think it’s really neat, y’know, what you do with the flowers!”

Jimin laughs over the tightness in his chest. Idiots. Precious, wonderful idiots.

He refills his glass with more soda and comes to stand in the kitchen doorway, looking at their wide, worried eyes. Like they’re afraid he might be mad at them.

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” he says, and they visibly relax. “I’m sorry that I didn’t…” Didn’t tell them sooner; didn’t trust them to stick around if they found out; didn’t have the courage… Jimin sighs. “But you’re really… Really okay with this?”

Taehyung grins. “Of course we’re really really okay with this! Why wouldn’t we be?”

“Pfft, yeah, it’d be pretty hypocritical of us to not be okay with it,” Jungkook adds.

“Because of Yoongi-ssi?”

Jimin doesn’t expect the minute shifts in their postures; the way Jungkook goes still, or the way Taehyung’s grin falters. They exchange a look - something uncertain, maybe a question, and then something like agreement, or support even - and suddenly Jimin has a feeling he’s been a dumbass in more ways than one.

Not just because of Yoongi-ssi…?” Something brews under the surface… Something he’s registered only now, but which has perhaps been there all along, and he hasn’t-

“Okay, so,” Jungkook starts, but Taehyung interrupts, telling Jimin,

“Please don’t freak out.”

Jimin’s already freaking out, a little bit. He takes one more sip of cold cola, but this time the bubbles make him want to hurl. He really shouldn’t have eaten so much.

“Okay…?” he says carefully, as his legs carry him to his cushion; he should not be standing for this.

Hypocritical, but not because of Yoongi.

Because of one of them? Both of them?

Jimin sets his glass on the floor beside him and looks at his friends, at Jungkook now avoiding Jimin’s gaze, at Taehyung scooting a little closer to his boyfriend. Nothing weird, there’s nothing weird-

But there wasn’t anything (too) weird about Yoongi either, until he’d rolled up his sleeve.

Jimin’s heart thumps hard against his ribcage, but he remains quiet, opting to let someone else speak first.

“So,” Jungkook begins again. He squares his shoulders, obviously aiming for nonchalance, but he still can’t look Jimin in the eye. “Hm.”

His cute face is focused, lips moving like he’s chewing on the inside of his cheek. Jimin wants to reach out; despite his own anticipation, nervousness - it’s Jungkook, Jungkookie, oh god it’s Jungkookie - he wants to assure Jungkook that it’s okay, it’s okay…

But then Taehyung slips his own phone into Jungkook’s hand, catching his attention. Taehyung smiles, and nods in encouragement; it’s all Jungkook needs to regain his footing.

He smiles back and, buried somewhere under empty boxes of fries, Jimin’s phone buzzes with a text. Jimin ignores it.

“Kookie?” he asks softly.

The phone buzzes again. It’s probably Jimin’s little brother; hardly anyone else texts him when both Taehyung and Jungkook are in the same room as him. But Jimin doesn’t want to break whatever this moment is; doesn’t want Jungkook to lose his nerve.

“Hyung,” Jungkook says, turning to Jimin with that small, borderline apologetic smile. “Maybe you should get that.”

“Huh?”

“Please?” Jungkook asks. Jimin’s hand automatically searches for his phone, even though he himself doesn’t understand what the hell is-

TaeTae
hey hyung
it’s jungkook

Jimin frowns, smiling in confusion. “Jungkookie? What-”

TaeTae
I’m sorry I grabbed a cookie right out of your hand earlier

A moment, suspended in time, where Jimin teeters on the edge of realization. Where the puzzle pieces float around in his mind-

Jungkook being the absolute best at every video game Jimin’s seen him play so far; Jungkook fixing each and every gadget and appliance that passes through his shop in record time; Namjoon’s computer answering a Skype call even though Jungkook was only holding it...

-before seamlessly falling into place.

Jimin raises his gaze. Jungkook is still smiling in that odd, timid way, and still holding Taehyung’s phone - the one from which Jimin is receiving the texts. In Jungkook’s closed hand. Lighting up. With Jungkook unmoving. With Jungkook not even looking at it-

Jimin’s phone buzzes again.

TaeTae
hyung
I wanted to tell you
I’m just like you

It’s different this time, than the shock and giddiness from Friday at the tattoo shop. Today it’s close and intimate and personal - Jungkookie, it’s Jungkook, Jungkook… Jimin simply stares at his screen until the letters start to swell and overlap. Until his entire vision blurs, and he inhales sharply against a rush of pure, overwhelming emotion.

Jimin closes his eyes and tips his head back.

Too much, these past three days, they’re too much; the awful customer, Yoongi and his breathing tattoos - not the only freak - telling Taehyung and Jungkook... And now this; now Jungkook - he’s the same, we’re the same, they’re like me, I’m not alone…

I’m not alone.

Jimin opens his eyes towards the ceiling, biting down on his lower lip.

He’s not alone.

“Jiminie?” Taehyung asks softly, and Jimin blinks, a tear escaping a corner of his eye.

Then he starts laughing for real. Euphoria bursts out of him in loud giggles, in sudden, uncontrollable elation. “Jungkookie!” he exclaims, getting up to his feet, nearly knocking over his glass of cola.

He throws himself onto the couch, half on top of Taehyung and half on top of Jungkook, and squeezes his arms around them. “Thank you,” he mumbles into someone’s hoodie as the two start laughing too, and welcome him in a big, messy cuddle pile.

“For what?” Jungkook asks somewhere under Jimin’s arm.

“For telling me,” Jimin says. “For… Hell, I don’t even know. For this.”

For making him feel, for the first time in his life, like he truly belongs somewhere.


 Jimin has work tomorrow morning, but Jimin can’t bring himself to care.

He’s nestled between Taehyung and Jungkook on the sofa, each of them now nursing a bottle of soda to their chests. They have only marginally shoved away the litter on the coffee table to make room for their socked feet, except for Taehyung, who’d stretched his legs over Jimin and Jungkook’s laps instead. Despite the shameful amount of food they’d eaten, Jungkook had started on the second box of cookies, and is steadily munching through it.

“It’s about the electricity,” he says with his mouth full. “Computers, TVs, phones, tablets… Everything with a microchip inside is controlled by electricity. And electricity is, coincidentally, controlled by me.” He swallows and grins.

“Next song please~” Taehyung hums as a tune filters in from… Well. Technically, it’s from Jimin’s phone, fitted into his phone speakers, but they’re listening to playlists from all three of their phones at the same time, with Jungkook controlling them by simply holding his own in his hand. Something about the wifi allowing him to basically hack the other two phones from the one he’s in contact with - Jimin had some difficulty following that explanation.

A new song starts playing at once. Jungkook doesn’t even look at the phone.

“It gets a little more complex with appliances,” he says, rummaging through the cookie box. “Stoves, fridges, washing machines etc. Their technology is not so refined, especially if they’re older. But, basically, I fix the hardware problems by sending a current of appropriate strength through the machine, and then sensing which part isn’t responding to it - which part needs replacing.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t realize this before,” Jimin says, smiling. He’s tired, but happy, and has sunk so deep into the sofa cushions that he’s almost become one with it. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” he whines and punches Jungkook in the shoulder. “For two months you knew about me and you didn’t tell me about you!”

“We weren’t sure!” Jungkook defends himself again, around another mouthful of cookie. “We told you, we weren’t sure how you’d react; not like we ever talked about that stuff.”

Jimin groans. “I was trying so hard to be normal, I was so worried that you’d… that you’d hate me, or something. And you didn’t tell me!” He punches Jungkook again, but the bigger, stronger maknae doesn’t even feel it.

“Okay, there’s a considerable monetary fine to pay if you damage the boyfriend,” Taehyung cuts in. He takes a sip from his bottle of sprite, then washes it down with a sip from Jimin’s bottle of cola.

“You didn’t tell me either!” Jimin looks at him, waits until Taehyung lowers the bottle, and punches him too. “You’re just as bad as him!”

“We agreed together!” Taehyung exclaims. “We didn’t- We didn’t want to upset you-”

“I know,” Jimin saves him, giggling. “I know. I get it. I’m not mad, Tae.” He pats Taehyung’s knee that’s across his lap, and adds, “Unless you’ve also been hiding like, an ability to turn metal into gold or something like that.”

Taehyung laughs. “No, no. I’m just plain ol’ human. Nothing special about me.”

A cookie zoomes across Jimin’s field of vision and hits Taehyung directly in the forehead. “Say there’s nothing special about you again, and the next one goes down your shirt,” Jungkook says, a challenge in his round eyes.

“5000 won that I can catch the next one in my mouth,” Taehyung immediately counters.

He gets three tries, and surprisingly does catch a cookie in his mouth on the second attempt, with a wide, victorious grin on his lips as he chews. But then Jungkook hits him with another cookie, and then it’s on.

A food fight commences - a cookie fight, rather - and Jimin finds himself in the middle of the battlefield - Jungkook firing off cookies from his right, Taehyung throwing them back from his left. Jimin ducks under the projectiles, slides off the sofa and arms himself with empty wrappers and boxes from the coffee table, and stands up to retaliate.

They laugh, and curse, and try to avoid getting hit; Jimin gets a cookie in his eye, Taehyung eats more ammo than he successfully flings back, and Jungkook ends everything by tackling Taehyung onto the sofa and pushing him into the cushions, peppering his face with, presumably, chestnut-flavored kisses.

“Mercy! Mercy!” Taehyung chokes out through his laughs, struggling to break free, but only half-heartedly.

“You guys are gross,” Jimin comments, out of breath himself, before he nonchalantly strolls over and takes a seat on top of Jungkook, making Taehyung wheeze from the added weight.

“Ribs! Crushing ribs!”


It’s a week or so before Jimin stops choking up at every fleeting, treasured moment from that weekend. He pushes the scathing encounter with the foreigner to the back of his mind and is only left with images of Yoongi’s sentient tattoos, of technology coming to life under Jungkook’s touch; of curious, small details that suggest a certain… strangeness, like his own.

Jimin tells his family about them - describes the ink in painstaking detail, recounts how Yoongi can turn his eyes pitch black, demonic; how just the other day Jimin watched Jungkook play a video game without him lifting even a finger off where his hand was resting on the laptop. (Now that everyone knows everything, Jungkook has dropped the pretense of having to use computers the traditional way.)

Jimin’s parents are happy, his little brother congratulated him on finding ‘more losers like him’ with a grin as wide as Jimin’s, and Jimin… still has a hard time believing in all of that.

He’s slowly getting used to it. Day after day, he wakes up not with a sense of incredulous amazement, but with a settled, comforting warmth in the pit of his stomach - similar to that he shares with his plants - and a bone-deep gratitude to whatever higher power had guided him to this very neighborhood.

Because he does miss his family. His old house. Old flower shop. But at the same time, he’s never felt more at home than here, in this alley, with these people who are just like him.

On a blinding summer day Mrs. Kim treats him to an extra muffin from a freshly baked batch of chocolate and orange ones, because Jimin had hauled in some boxes of ingredients for the bakery.

The elderly lady shakes her head when Jimin insists that he doesn’t need (another) free muffin. She smiles. “You’re a kind, well-mannered boy, Jimin-ssi, just like my grandson. You deserve it.”

Jimin bows in thanks, pays for his lunch bag and meanders through the bustle of the bakery, stepping outside and - bumping right into Min Yoongi.

He doesn’t actually register that it’s Yoongi until he squints in the sunlight at the all-black outfit; until he hears a vague grunt instead of a greeting.

“Yoongi-ssi!” Jimin breaks into a smile at once, falling into step with Yoongi, down the crowded street towards their shops. “Sorry, didn’t see you,” he says and gestures towards his paper bag. “I don’t know if you’ve ever tried muffins from the bakery, but you totally should, because Mrs. Kim makes the best-”

“Too early,” Yoongi mutters.

“What?”

“It’s too early to be that chipper, Jimin-ssi.”

Jimin looks at Yoongi, and notices how his dark hair is more ruffled than usual, top strands sticking out at odd angles; how his eyes are unfocused, half-lidded with sleep as he trudges forward beside him. Jimin laughs, because sleepy Yoongi is oddly cute, even though Jimin can’t see half his face from his mask.

“It’s afternoon,” Jimin points out.

“I woke up half an hour ago,” Yoongi says. “Therefore, it’s morning.”

They part to let a woman pass between them and then continue walking together.

“That’s not how time works,” Jimin teases.

“It’s how my time works.”

“So when you’re in your shop at night - working or whatever it is that you’re doing - it’s actually because it’s late afternoon/evening for you?”

“Exactly.”

“Weird logic.”

Genius logic.”

Jimin laughs as they pause in the middle of the alley, on the half point between Pink Petal and SOPE.

“Because your life is obviously filled with healthy habits,” Jimin doesn’t hide his sarcasm, “I’m going to assume that you didn’t have breakfast, either?”

“There’s a coffee filter with my name on it in the shop,” Yoongi says.

“Hm.” Jimin nods and opens his lunch bag, taking out the free chocolate and orange muffin. “Here.” He holds it out for Yoongi.

It’s not even a conscious decision on Jimin’s part. It’s intrinsic, natural, to see someone close to him - because Yoongi’s like him and nice and caring despite his abrasiveness, and he works too much and sleeps too little and is maybe still lonely - and help them.

Yoongi stares at the treat in Jimin’s hand.

“It’s a muffin,” he says, rather dumbly for someone who apparently possesses genius logic.

Jimin snorts, and shakes it a little, urging him to take it. “Excellent deductive skills. It’s now also your breakfast.”

“I don’t need you to give me your lunch.”

Jimin purses his lips. “It’s not my lunch. I got this for free at the bakery and I already have two of my own, and a sandwich.”

“So it’s a reject muffin?” Yoongi raises an eyebrow, a playful gleam in his eyes telling Jimin he’s having fun with this.

“Yes, it’s a reject muffin.” Jimin smiles and jams it into Yoongi’s chest, letting go only when Yoongi finally takes it. “And it’s delicious.”

Yoongi turns it in his hand, watching the yellow and blue striped paper cup and the rich dark dough.

Then he nods, without looking up. “Thank you, Jimin-ssi,” he says quietly.

“You’re welcome.” Jimin nods back, and turns around to his shop.

Some minutes later, as he’s working on the last of his ham and cheese sandwich, Jimin glances up from his seat behind the cash register counter. Usually it’s too bright and with too many people in between to make out what’s going on in Yoongi’s tattoo parlor, but the crowd disperses at that one spot; he sees a dark outline of Yoongi just on the other side of SOPE’s window, throwing an empty paper cup into a trash bin, and pulling up his mask.

Not for the first time, Jimin wonders what he looks like without it.

Chapter Text

It’s been a weird hour.

Jimin had closed up his flower shop for the day, went upstairs to shower and grab a bite, and then decided to see if Jungkook was free, or if maybe Taehyung was with him and they could all hang out.

He really should’ve texted first.

At the entrance to Jungkook’s repair shop, a large, strict-looking man blocked Jimin’s way and told him that he couldn’t come in.

“I… Why? What’s going on?” Jimin asked, a little scared of the stony glare and the width of the man’s shoulders. “Is Jungkook-”

“Oh, is that Jimin-hyung?” Jungook’s voice came from inside, blessedly unpanicked. “You can let him in. He’s alright.”

The man did not seem happy about this. He pulled Jimin in by the front of his t-shirt, not caring that Jimin tripped on the first step and nearly fell flat on his face. Then he spread Jimin’s arms, patted him down - as though Jimin would be carrying weapons? - and asked (demanded) for his ID. When Jimin offered the card from his wallet, the man inserted it into a handheld electronic device, waited for it to make a beep, and finally gave it back to him.

Now, Jimin is sitting in Jungkook’s swivel chair, sweating maybe a bit more than is normal for the pleasant summer evening, doing his absolute best to not glance back at the strange man, who has returned to his spot by the door. Like some kind of a vaguely threatening bouncer.

Jungkook, in turn, is completely unbothered by the third party. He’s on the floor of the shop, surrounded by complicated gadgets Jimin can’t make sense of (though when can he, ever), and chatting about how Taehyung is shooting a wedding downtown, and how Jimin should text him.

“Yeah, um… Sure,” Jimin says, hesitantly. The strange man is making him nervous, and Jimin half-expects the guy to lunge and snatch away his phone when he takes it out of his jeans pocket.

Though nothing like that happens, and Jimin types out to Taehyung, asking him how the wedding is going. Taehyung’s reply is almost immediate.

TaeTae
BO R ING
but good catering this tiem around

Jiminie
better than the one with bread buns which weirdly smelled like sardines?

TaeTae
WAY better
[picture message]

Taehyung’s selfie is of him holding up a plate of tiny portioned, vividly colored appetizers next to his smiling face, and Jimin snorts at the image, despite himself.

Jiminie
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM delicious

TaeTae
I know I am but the food’s good too

“He says the food’s good,” Jimin says with a quiet laugh, and Jungkook hums in acknowledgement.

TaeTae
n e way
whatcha doin

Jimin pauses, thumbs over the keyboard; he’s not sure if he should mention the strange man or not. Whether he’s allowed to, or if it would make Taehyung worry… Whether Jimin himself should be a lot more worried than just having this sense of unease because of a stranger watching them intently.

He bites his lip and types out a response.

Jiminie
nothin
at Kook’s
he’s… idk what he’s doing
it’s weird
there’s a man here
watching us

He looks at the man, almost to check if he knows that Jimin just told Taehyung about him, but the man’s dark gaze is on Jungkook’s work, and he seems to not be paying attention to Jimin.

But now Taehyung isn’t replying either, and Jimin thinks he fucked up, somehow.

He looks at Jungkook, and swallows thickly. “Um. So… What are you doing, exactly?” he asks, aiming for a light, conversational tone, and braces himself for the stranger to bark out an answer instead of Jungkook.

But Jungkook stops trying to dislodge a piece of something with his screwdriver and says, “Oh, it’s- Heh.” He throws an apologetic look at Jimin. “It’s actually classified."

“Classified?” Jimin side-eyes the stranger, who doesn’t react.

“Yeah. So, you know how we have to get registered with the government when we… you know, when it becomes obvious what we are?”

“Uh-huh?”

Jimin was six when his parents took him to the nearest register office, two towns over, and he only has a vague recollection of the event. He remembers waiting for a long time in a bleak hallway, remembers a girl his age who was crying for some reason, and two large, stern men (not unlike the one in Jungkook’s shop), who asked him countless of questions about his abilities, and demanded demonstrations. Jimin was fidgety, maybe even frightened, but his mother’s hand was on his shoulder the entire time, and she wouldn’t even consider leaving his side during the interview.

“Well. Sometimes, they need… something," Jungkook says. “Like, if one of their high tech things isn’t working right, or if it needs an upgrade…” He jams the screwdriver into the mess of wires and chipsets again, and tries to rattle a part of it free. “For the really important, top secret projects they drive me over to wherever the technology is, but otherwise they just bring it to the shop. Ha!” he exclaims, finally digging out what he’d been looking for. He tosses it over his shoulder, into the pile of discarded hardware, and looks at Jimin again. “Though I still can’t talk much about it.”

“That’s… wow.”

“Yeah. That’s why he’s here.” Jungkook tilts his chin at the stoic man, and then grabs another piece of electronics; this one with a LED screen which lights up the moment Jungkook touches it. “He’s been here since this morning, when they brought this over. Making sure no one steals it or… I dunno, that I don’t reveal its secret or something.”

“Oh.”

Jimin shifts in his seat.

This is all new to him. Apart from that one short trip to get registered, he had never actually been in contact with an organization as mysterious and as intimidating as the government. He had never given it much thought. No one had come to him and asked him to… what. Tend to the official gardens of the Republic of Korea?

He watches as Jungkook powers up another cellphone-like object by picking it up, and then the one with the LED screen starts flickering in his other hand, displaying things Jimin can’t see from his chair.

Yeah, Jungkook’s talent seems far more useful for the country than Jimin’s own.

TaeTae
oops
spoke too soon
main course is undercooked octopus
[picture message]

Taehyung’s now holding up a plate of seafood, a disgusted grimace on his face.

Jiminie
leave it
you’ll eat with us later
don’t get sick

TaeTae
I’ll have cake anyway
HOHO
but yeah
about the dude in the shop
happns from time to time
they let u in, so it’s not that important
somtimes they come in numbers
occupy the entire repair shop
don’t let anyone in
I tried to get past them so many times
pretty sure I’m blacklistd somewherelmao

Jungkook sighs, sets down the strange contraptions on the floor - they immediately turn off without his power - and gets up to rummage through the hardware depot practically climbing up the wall of his shop.

He’s bent at the waist, back turned to Jimin, and Jimin uses the opportunity to amuse himself - and to leave the thinking about this strange new development in Jungkook’s work for later - and snaps a pic of his jeans covered ass.

Jiminie
[picture message]
you mentioned dessert?

TaeTae
LMAO OMG
thats
yes
god I can’t wait to come over

TaeTae is typing… is at the bottom of Jimin’s screen, and he hurries to stop his friend from sending any explicit details he doesn’t want to know.

Jiminie
pls spare me the tmi

Thankfully, he doesn’t get to read Taehyung’s message, since Jungkook’s phone starts ringing on his cluttered desk, with the Iron Man theme song.

“Get that, will ya?” Jungkook huffs, elbow deep in the electronics pile. Some lights randomly blink around him, presumably from devices he’s turning on and off to find what he needs.

Jimin grabs the phone and swipes to answer. “Jungkook’s phone, Park Jimin speaking.”

“Jimin-ssi!” a happy voice exclaims. “It’s Kim Namjoon, from across the street.”

“Ah, hello, Namjoon-ssi.” Jimin smiles. “Jungkook can’t come to the phone right now, he’s… I was told it’s classified,” he says, glancing at the bodyguard or government agent or whatever he is, who, predictably, doesn’t move.

“Oh. Yeah, I saw the guy come in earlier. Was hoping he’d left already…”

“Anything I can help with?”

“Um.” Namjoon sighs, a rush of static in Jimin’s ear. “No. I mean, unless you have a magical way of recovering files which have been completely erased from hard drives?”

Jimin laughs. “Sorry.” Jungkook and Taehyung have told him that Namjoon knows about all of them, probably even about Jimin, since he’s the smartest guy on this planet, and there’s no way he didn’t already figure it out. “I’m more of a plant person than a computer person.”

“Yeah,” Namjoon sighs again, and Jimin thinks he hears him hitting his keyboard in frustration.

“Hold on.” Jimin lowers the phone. “Kookie? It’s Namjoon-ssi. He has computer problems.”

“Yeah, what else is new.” Both of Jungkook’s arms are now buried in the hardware mountain up to his shoulders as he’s blindly searching through it. “Ugh. If it’s urgent, maybe you can go get the laptop from him? I can’t leave this place until I’m done with this, but I can take a look at it. It’ll only take a second anyway.”

“Namjoon-ssi?” Jimin asks into the phone. “If you’re in a hurry to get it fixed, maybe I can come get the laptop and bring it here?”

“Urgent doesn’t mean skyping with Jin-hyung!” Jungkook shouts, but Namjoon doesn’t hear him.

“Oh yeah. That’ll work! Thanks Jimin-ssi!”

So Jimin warns Jungkook not to get swallowed by the garbage pile until he gets back - only half-joking - and steps out into the fine, darkening evening.

He crosses the deserted alley and enters Namjoon’s bookstore, pausing at the threshold.

There are books literally everywhere.

On shelves, stuffed both vertically and horizontally up to the ceiling - without any real classification - on end tables, coffee tables, chairs, around and on top of a dusty jukebox… How anyone finds anything in here is beyond Jimin. But maybe that’s the point- poking around the cramped space, digging out interesting titles like little nuggets of gold.

From the door there are three paths for Jimin to choose from - to the left, to the right and forward - and all three are wide enough only for one person to pass through. Columns of books lean precariously from the floor, faintly illuminated by the yellow overhead lights.

“Um. Hello?” Jimin calls into the hushed, cottony silence.

“In here!” Namjoon says, and Jimin’s somewhat certain that it came from the left.

He walks down a short path and finds himself in what must be a lounge of sorts, an employee room. There are even more books - seriously, this isn’t a bookstore as much as it’s a book hoarding place apparently - a tiny kitchenette with an electric water kettle, a desk with a laptop on it, and a table squeezed in between, with two people occupying it.

“Namjoon-ssi,” Jimin bows to the person he recognizes, and Namjoon smiles at him, dimples on full display.

Jimin wants to ask if the laptop on the desk is the one he’s supposed to take, but then the other person says, “Jimin-ssi.”

And Jimin stops.

Looks back.

Stares.

Takes an absurd amount of time to realize.

“Yoongi-ssi,” he breathes out.

Yoongi. Sitting there, in Namjoon’s shop (which is less surprising), without anything covering up his face (which has Jimin internally screaming).

Because-

Because.

Jimin really doesn’t know what he expected. Maybe something… sharper. Rougher. Asymmetric. More in tune with Yoongi’s deep voice, his bluntness and his tendency to make people shit their pants.

Not… Not this.

Not the flawless complexion; the round, button nose; not the relaxed, pink lips, the casually tousled bangs over his eyes which now add an entirely new dimension; soft, so soft oh my god he’s the softest person-

“You…” Jimin starts, not having the slightest clue where he will end. “You’re-” Cute. Pretty. Min Yoongi is so pretty, holy f-

“Jimin-ssi? You okay?” Namjoon asks, and Jimin swears he sees one corner of Yoongi’s mouth pull up in a barely-there smirk; no, nope, he wasn’t ready for this today, n o -

“U-um.” It takes all of Jimin’s willpower to try and appear like he hasn’t just suffered a stroke. His cheeks are burning hot. “It’s… nice, to see you again, Yoongi-ssi.” He even manages a bow. “How… How’s the flower?”

“Didn’t kill it yet,” Yoongi says cooly.

“O-oh, that’s… That’s good,” Jimin says, his heart starting to beat again. He can do this. He can totally do this. He just has to look the fuck away.

“Flower?” Namjoon asks.

“Yes, I… I gave a flower to Yoongi-ssi, as a thank you,” Jimin replies, finally turning to Namjoon, proud of his complete, mostly non-stuttering sentence. At the same time unsure what to do with the feeling that, now that he’s seen Yoongi’s face, he wants to give him a thousand more flowers like the one in question.

“Ah.” Namjoon nods, and doesn’t say more.

There’s an awkward pause, during which Jimin’s gaze travels back to Yoongi - who looks down at this phone, excluding himself from further conversation - and then away, feeling oddly… lightheaded.

“Is, um…” he tries. The safest thing for him right now would be to get out of there, and fast. “Is this the laptop?” Jimin asks, glancing at the computer on the desk, surrounded by three thick books, two of which are opened one over the other.

“Yeah,” Namjoon says. “I’ll text the file name to Jungkook. It’s a translation. If he could find it, it would save me, well. Days of work.”

“Translation?” Jimin unplugs the laptop from its charger and picks it up; busies himself inspecting the opened books, just so he doesn’t keep staring at Yoongi.

All three tomes are in different languages.

“I’m a freelance translator, among other things,” Namjoon says. “Specializing in German and Latin.”

“And about seven hundred other languages,” Yoongi supplies, still scrolling through his phone.

“Fourteen,” Namjoon amends. “But I’ll get to seven hundred eventually.”

“You speak fourteen languages?” Jimin asks.

“Yeah…” Namjoon smiles sheepishly. “I have a lot of free time.”

Yoongi shoots him a cut the bullshit look and then tells Jimin, “He also has three PhDs. And is working on the fourth.”

“Hyung-” Namjoon starts.

“Four PhDs?!” Jimin squeaks. Taehyung and Jungkook weren’t exaggerating Namjoon’s intelligence. Isn’t he only… what? Twenty-five years old? Fourteen languages? How?!

“It’s not that- Heh,” Namjoon laughs, then looks down at his fingers, tracing patterns in the wood of the table. “Lot of good all that is, when I permanently delete my word files and have no idea how to get them back.”

“You could learn if you wanted to,” Yoongi mutters, lazily tapping his phone.

“Eh, I suppose I could,” Namjoon concedes. “But technology never interested me much.”

Jimin is still gawking. It seems all he’s doing lately, being amazed by everyone around him.

Namjoon smiles. “Some people are good with tattoos… Some with electronics… Others with plants.” His eyes are locked on Jimin, dark and knowing. “I'm good with knowledge,” he says, at the same time both cryptical and loud and clear.

Not the only freak in the neighborhood.

Jimin grins back, clutches the laptop close to his chest, to his hammering heart, and bows. “I’ll- I'll bring this back as soon as Jungkookie is done with it!”

“Thank you, Jimin-ssi.”

Jimin follows the narrow pathway between books on his way out, and returns to Jungkook’s repair shop, not witnessing how Namjoon’s smile turns into a smirk once he’s left, or how his gaze shifts over to Yoongi.

“So,” he begins. “Jimin-ssi gave you a flower, did he?”

“Shut up.” Yoongi’s cheeks turn faintly pink in the weak lighting.

Namjoon laughs.


Jimin closes his eyes and tips his head back under the hot water stream. He breathes out, and relaxes in his small shower, the tension of the work day ebbing away.

He goes through the motions - body wash, shampoo - as his mind drifts through the past couple of weeks; the strangeness, the surprise. The delight.

All the way back to the fact that, apparently, out of all the people around his age that he’s met, only Taehyung is purely human. Jungkook, Yoongi and Namjoon are special - different, like Jimin himself.

It’s so thrilling, so refreshing to see Jungkook not holding back; to see him texting and surfing the net and breaking through firewalls and who knows what else at fantastic speed. To witness him doing work for the government, of importance that Jimin can’t even fathom.

It’s still surreal, that Jimin doesn’t have to pretend when his friends are around anymore. He talks about his plants freely, recounts what they’ve told him, and has admitted to Taehyung that almost all of his flora finds Taehyung divine.

(Taehyung, in turn, drops by whenever he can just to compliment each and every flower, quietly murmuring praises as he circles the small shop; Jimin’s sure the plants would marry him on the spot, if they were familiar with the concept.)

Namjoon’s ability is still a little vague to Jimin, but it obviously has everything to do with his level of education and knowledge; Jimin wonders if he’s read every book that’s stashed in that maze of a bookstore. Probably has.

And then… Yoongi.

Jimin opens his eyes to the fogged up glass of his shower stall and, for the umpteenth time since he’s seen Yoongi’s face a few days ago, can’t help but smile at the thought.

Yoongi was gone from Namjoon’s bookstore when Jimin returned the laptop (with the file successfully recovered, because nothing’s ever truly deleted, as Jungkook had said), and Jimin hasn’t run into him on the street.

But who would’ve thought. Yoongi, dark and brooding and sharp-tongued, and still so cute, so… angelic.

Jimin turns off the water and grabs a towel, and thinks how he’d like to see Yoongi again soon.

On one corner of the sink, his phone is blinking with unread messages.

TaeTae
bored
chim
chim
chimchimchimchimchicm
jiminie
JI M I N
play with me
booooooooooooreeeeeeeeeeeeeed
did u kno that ur fingernails grow 4x faster than ur toenails
fascinating

Jimin shakes his head with a smile and replies.

Jiminie
where are you

TaeTae
!!!!!
dad’s shop
have to wait for a delivery
come entertain me

Jiminie
5mins

TaeTae
make it 10 and bring me chocolate

Jimin dries off, throws on a pair of sweatpants and an oversized tee, runs his fingers through his wet hair to try and make it look intentionally messy. He collects his keys, some cash and his phone, and jogs to the nearest corner store to get chocolate.

Mr. Kim’s antique shop is larger than Jimin’s flower shop, and unlike the bookstore, it’s impeccably organized. Each piece of furniture and decoration has its own section, its own tag with basic information and prices, and each one is dust-free, polished wood and bronze gleaming under a crystal chandelier.

Taehyung is sitting half-draped over a large mahogany desk, reading webtoons on his phone, and moaning out loud the moment Jimin steps in, “Starving… All alone… Everyone left me. Nobody cares…”

“Alright, drama queen.” Jimin laughs and drops five candy bars between Taehyung’s nose and his phone screen. “Your knight in shining armor is here.”

“The Fin to my Rapunzel! Eric to my Ariel!” Taehyung jumps up, tears open one bar and bites into it. “Tulio to my Miguel!”

“You’ve been watching too much Disney,” Jimin says, and then looks around the quiet shop. “Where’s Jungkookie?”

“Working,” Taehyung mumbles over a mouthful. “We can go over to his place later, if you want. He’s been working way too much the last coupla days, so I need to make sure he closes up at a reasonable hour.”

Reasonable hour probably meaning before midnight, since it’s already almost 8 p.m. “Sure.”

Leaving Taehyung to his snacks, Jimin leans over one of his favorite parts of the antique shop - a large glass case, displaying an array of antique jewelry neatly lined up on dark blue velvet. Pendants, necklaces, earrings, rings… Jimin admires the delicate craftwork, the miniature hand-painted nature scenes.

“There’s a new one,” Taehyung tells him. “The butterfly.”

Indeed, a large onyx brooch with a silver butterfly applique sits in a corner, breathtaking in the details of the intricate wings.

“It’s beautiful,” Jimin says.

“207 years old,” Taehyung says. “Said to have belonged to a countess in a castle somewhere in Europe. She enchanted her only daughter as the silver butterfly on the brooch, so that the daughter would never become old and ugly. Also, she was a vampire.”

Jimin snorts and turns around. “I hope you’ll work more on that story, before anyone actually asks about the thing.”

“Ah. The vampire part too much?” Taehyung grins, and waves his hand, starting on the second candy bar. “Dad does the talk anyway. I’m just here to help with the heavy lifting. So. How was your day?”

“Good. Same.” Jimin hops on top of the mahogany desk, helping himself with a sweet of his own. “The dutch lily asked about you.”

“You do realize how kinky it is that your plants have a crush on me?”

“We’re not getting into that again.” Jimin rolls his eyes as he chews. “I saw those pics from the wedding you posted on instagram.” As most photographers, Taehyung has official social media pages, where he uploads his professional shots from weddings, celebrations and various events he gets hired for. “The one with the dog was cute.”

“Yeah, up until he started humping the bride in the middle of the shoot. I saved those pics for my private collection.”

“When you say private collection, it sounds a lot dirtier than just pictures of dogs ruining weddings.”

“Hoho,” Taehyung waggles his eyebrows, “I have those too. Collections of nothing but Kookie’s-”

“No! Nope!” Jimin exclaims, dramatically covering his ears. “Can’t hear you!”

Taehyung laughs and smacks him on the thigh, and then opens yet another candy bar. “Though I don’t take as many photos of him… Or the group, anymore. Not the way I used to.”

“Used to?”

“Hm, yeah.” Taehyung’s gaze turns thoughtful as he picks at the chocolate wrapper. “I used to bring my camera and take pics of all of us… Hundreds of pics of Jungkook, because we weren’t together yet and I felt like I needed to capture his every expression… Every smile.” He groans and buries his head in his arms on the table. “Fuck, that sounds so cringey! Forget I said that!”

Jimin laughs. “Nooo, I think it’s sweet! Really! C’mon.” He nudges Taehyung with an elbow. “You were in love. It’s normal. I bet Kookie looked like a model in all of the pics.”

Taehyung peers up. “Wanna see some of them?”

“As long as they’re not a part of any private collections, sure.”

Taehyung announces that he’ll be back in five minutes and rushes out of the store, presumably in the direction of his father’s apartment.

He’s gone long enough for Jimin to wonder if he should sign for the delivery they’re waiting for, if it arrives before Taehyung returns, but then he’s coming back in, a large photo album in his arms.

“Oh wow, you actually developed them,” Jimin says.

“Yep. But only because they were all taken with a film camera.” Taehyung sets the album down on the desk and jumps on top, taking a seat next to Jimin. “Still one of my fav ways for taking pictures, even though it’s impractical in professional photography.”

He motions for Jimin to help himself, so Jimin does; slides the album over to his lap, and opens it, the hard, garishly patterned cover crinkling.

The first picture is of a sunset, or a sunrise, over still, glimmering water. Too yellow, too saturated, and with someone’s finger taking up one corner of the frame; someone else’s scribble is on the margin of the photo album, just beyond the cellophane protecting the photo - Namjoonie ruining pictures since ‘94.

“Not all of the pics were taken by me,” Taehyung says, though Jimin already got that. He smiles.

The first few pages are of the same day it seems, the same setting. A beach, wide and deserted, white foam lapping at its sands; by the jackets and scarves and gloves everyone’s wearing, it’s not summer.

Jimin knows some of the people. Jungkook, with darker hair and fewer piercings; Taehyung, with his blinding boxy grin and a silly hat with ear flaps; Namjoon, lollipop in his mouth, sunglasses on his nose.

And Yoongi.

“Wow, he was blond,” Jimin says.

“Yup. Looked good on him.”

It did look good on him. In the photo Yoongi is scowling at the photographer over his shoulder, eyes narrowed and lips pursed, the horizon behind him. He's wearing a dark green bomber jacket, and the bleached hair makes him look younger, lighter somehow, more… ethereal.

There are also two people Jimin doesn’t recognize.

“That’s Seokjin-hyung,” Taehyung says, pointing at one of the photos. Jungkook is doubled over with laughter, one arm around a young man who’s also laughing - tall and broad shouldered and yet slim. Handsome, in a classic way. Like an actor on the red carpet, drawing everyone’s eye to himself. “He told a joke. Jungkook was the only one who thought it was funny, besides Jin-hyung himself.”

Sure enough, someone wrote another note on the margin: pls stop with the dad jokes hyung.

“Jin-hyung… Is he the one Namjoon-ssi sometimes skypes with?” Jimin asks.

Taehyung nods. “He’s a chef, currently in France, doing an internship in some fancy ass restaurant.”

“Hm. And who’s this?” Jimin taps the next photo, where Taehyung and another young man are dancing; standing apart, their arms raised, hips caught mid-sway and lips puckered like in fish.

“Hobi-hyung,” Taehyung says. “Hoseok. He’s… He was Yoongi-hyung’s partner.” Jimin’s head snaps up, and Taehyung adds, “In the tattoo shop. They opened it together.”

“Oh.”

Jimin can’t get a clear impression of Hoseok’s face from the grimace he’s pulling, but he’s tall and thin, and graceful, maybe, despite the childish dance.

“You all look like you’re having fun,” Jimin says quietly, turning the page.

Jungkook and Taehyung had shirked their boots somewhere and are standing ankle-deep in the water, bent over and trying to splash the photographer with droplets that gleam in the twilight.

Namjoon, Hoseok and Seokjin are playing cards in the back of a pickup truck, surrounded by flannel blankets; Jimin discovers that Hoseok has a smile that rivals the sun, and finds himself smiling, too.

“We did have fun,” Taehyung says; quiet words, weighted with nostalgia.

And then the theme of the photos changes. No longer that same day, but random moments, memories dispersed through time, frozen on film.

Someone’s apartment; a worn dark brown leather couch, a still-blond Yoongi sleeping while sitting up, arms crossed; Jungkook sleeping with his head on Yoongi’s lap and his mouth open.

“Yoongi-hyung isn’t really big on physical affection, so we had to commemorate this historical moment,” Taehyung says.

A bakery; the Kim’s bakery actually, because the tiny, silver-haired lady in the picture is definitely Mrs. Kim. Proudly showing off a tray of golden-crusted baked goods, Seokjin with an arm around her, both wearing matching pink frilly aprons…

You’re a kind, well-mannered boy, Jimin-ssi, just like my grandson.

“Mr. and Mrs. Kim are Jin-hyung’s grandparents. He used to help them a lot in the bakery.”

An unknown living room. Namjoon seems to have just dropped a bowl of popcorn, his expression dejected because it’s everywhere - on the coffee table, on the floor, all over Jungkook’s lap; Seokjin is dying of laughter, Hoseok has already leaned forward from where he’s sitting to start cleaning up… And Yoongi’s in an armchair, separated from the others, calmly eating from his own bowl of popcorn, eyes on the movie.

“We had movie nights, almost every week. Namjoon-hyung made some kind of a mess - usually in the form of spilled popcorn - 68% of the time. We calculated. Well. He calculated.”

Taehyung and Jungkook in an arm-wrestling match. A note next to the photo: better luck next time, hyung~

“I let him win,” Taehyung says, but Jimin already knows it’s not true. “I was still trying to get into his pants, so.”

A close up of Namjoon’s face, eyes pinched shut, nose scrunched up and the ever-present dimples on his cheeks; someone’s handwriting almost directly over the photo: CUUUUUUTEEEEEEEEE

Friends. Family. Happiness.

Jimin pauses over the last two photos.

Yoongi, sitting on a chair, and Hoseok sitting on a countertop in front of him, legs dangling - Jimin recognizes SOPE’s interior, clean and empty save for the two of them and the photographer. Both tattoo artists are looking down at a paper in Yoongi’s hand, discussing something, and both are in t-shirts, arms bared.

Jimin sees that Yoongi has a sleeve tattoo on his right arm as well, but the photo is a little unsteady, grainy, that it’s hard to distinguish the details. But Hoseok…

Hoseok’s arms are jaw-dropping. With only a few thin lines of black ink, the skin looks like a watercolor painting; dark blue fading into lilac, fading into pink, into orange, curving and swirling around his slender forearms, up under the sleeves of his white tee. Jimin isn’t sure what they’re supposed to depict, but he recognizes the soothing, almost impressionistic style of some of the tattoos from Yoongi’s gallery wall.

In the second photo, the photographer had caught Hoseok and Yoongi’s attention, and the two smiled at him, Hoseok flashing a peace sign.

It’s the first time Jimin’s seen Yoongi’s smile; bright and gummy and almost child-like in its sincerity.

“What…” Jimin has to swallow. To blink and break the spell of a long-lost time; a period of this alley he didn’t get to meet. “What happened?”

Taehyung is uncharacteristically quiet for a moment, before he answers.

“It’s… complicated. And not my story to tell, really. But, about a year ago Hobi-hyung left. Left the shop, left his work with Yoongi-hyung, left… us, in a way.” Taehyung smiles sadly. “We still keep in touch, though. As much as we can. It’s not-” He shakes his head. “It’s not his fault. In a way, it’s not anyone’s fault. It just sort of… happened. And then Jin-hyung got the internship and left too, and… Yoongi-hyung took it all pretty bad. Did you know he has an apartment, above the tattoo shop?”

Jimin shakes his head.

“Yeah, he moved out after Hobi-hyung left, and didn’t come near our street for… months, probably. Didn’t want to talk to anyone, not even Namjoon-hyung. It was pretty gloomy for a while. I suppose it still is, kind of. Getting better, maybe, but…” Taehyung shrugs. “Eh. You’ve met us at a very strange time in our lives, Jiminie.”

Jimin looks at him flatly. “Did you just quote Fight Club at me?”

“Felt like the right moment.” Taehyung grins. “A classic.”

Jimin ignores him and glances back at how happy Hoseok and Yoongi were, in the picture. How comfortable with each other, and probably quite close, if Yoongi trusted him enough to have his breathing tattoos on display like that.

“What do you think about doing it again? I mean, the first time for me.” Jimin raises his eyebrows at Taehyung. “A movie night?”

“Um… Yeah?” Taehyung hesitates. “Don’t we have movie nights, like, all the time?”

“No, no, not just the three of us. We could invite Namjoon-ssi and Yoongi-ssi, too.”

“Oh.”

“Like…” Jimin bites his lip, considering. “It obviously won’t be anything like it used to, but… But maybe we can… I don’t know.” Salvage what’s left. Maybe I can help. He sighs and closes the photo album. “Nothing, it’s stupid.”

It’s not his place.

“No!” Taehyung leaps off the desk. “It’s not stupid!” His eyes are round, dazzled by the possibility. “It’s actually a good idea! I don’t remember the last time Namjoon-hyung left his bookstore, that wasn’t for groceries or something. And Yoongi-hyung… Well. We all think he needs more fun and less… being alone. We could totally do that!”

“Yeah?”

Taehyung’s enthusiasm is contagious, and Jimin is now excited as well.

“Yeah! Oh, this’ll be great!” Immediately, Taehyung pulls out his phone and starts texting someone. “We can have it this weekend!”

Chapter Text

Since it was Jimin’s idea, he first offers to have everyone over at his place, but eventually agrees that Jungkook’s apartment is a better option, because it’s familiar. They’ve all had movie nights there before.

Namjoon accepts the invitation, much to Jimin’s relief, but Yoongi replies to Jungkook’s text with an ambiguous, I’ll think about it. (“He means he probably won’t be awake enough to come,” Jungkook translates.)

Jungkook’s apartment above the repair shop isn’t any bigger than Jimin’s, and - in stark contrast to the shop, where all electronics go to die (and are subsequently revived) - it’s immaculate.

“It’s because he practically lives downstairs and only comes up here to sleep, if he remembers,” Taehyung said when Jimin had first visited, months ago. “Or if I make him.”

The furniture is faceless, generic - a gloomy, grey sofa, a banged up coffee table, a washed out carpet - none of it actually belonging to Jungkook, but to the landlord. It’s comfortable though, good enough.

At Jimin’s insistence, they stock Jungkook’s fridge with sodas and beer and load up on three month’s worth of microwaveable popcorn. They also decide that, if they get truly hungry - and they will, especially Jungkook - they’ll order pizza.

Then there’s the issue about movie choice.

Taehyung wants an emotional drama about a young woman losing her most precious memories with her loved ones, Jungkook wants Mad Max: Fury Road, and Jimin doesn’t care either way, just mediates the discussion and hovers over the one bowl of popcorn they’ve made as a starter, to make sure no one uses it as a weapon this time around.

In the end, they settle it with rock, paper, scissors; Jungkook wins and grins triumphantly at Taehyung, before he marches over to the TV to set up his movie.

“He’s a little shit, isn’t he?” Taehyung asks as he and Jimin watch how the TV screen switches through options and menus, with Jungkook’s hand lightly resting on it.

Jimin hums in agreement, and Taehyung says, “I love it.”

Namjoon arrives on time, but he only distractedly waves to everyone when he walks through the door; his earbuds are in, phone in hand, and he’s speaking in what takes four blinks for Jimin to realize is French to someone.

Then Taehyung calls, “Say hi to Jin-hyung!” and Namjoon nods, saying in Korean, “The kids say hi.” He drops into Jungkook’s sofa and continues speaking French.

“Before Jin-hyung went away, Namjoon-hyung gave him French lessons,” Jungkook explains. He lets go of his microwave, peers inside to see if the popcorn is done, then decides to power it up for another minute. “We think that’s not the only French thing he gave him~”

“You do know that I can hear you, right?” Namjoon asks from the living room. Jungkook cackles.

“It’s just a little funny,” Taehyung says, “how you’re holding this HUGE TORCH FOR JIN-HYUNG,” he shouts the last part from his place in the armchair.

Namjoon scowls at him, stands up again and walks further into the apartment, to continue his conversation in peace.

It’s some minutes before two brimming bowls of popcorn are on the coffee table, along with three beers and one glass of cola (for Taehyung). Namjoon had finished his call and returned to the sofa, finally sitting back and popping open his bottle.

“So,” he says as Jimin takes a seat next to him and helps himself with his own beer. They clink the bottlenecks together before they drink. “Taehyung tells me this was your idea, Jimin-ssi? The movie night?”

“Um. Yeah. I, uh…” Jimin can’t read Namjoon’s expression; his sharp gaze and genial smile. He hopes he didn’t somehow overstep, or offend, or assume-

“He told you about how we all used to hang out, didn’t he?” Namjoon asks easily.

“Yeah. He did. I thought... I didn’t mean…” Jimin gestures vaguely, increasingly flustered, before Namjoon saves him,

“It’s good,” he says, smiling widely. “It’s a good thing, this gathering. We sort of… drifted apart, I guess.” His gaze travels over to the kitchen, where Taehyung has wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist from behind and appears to be singing into his ear; Jungkook is laughing, most likely holding his phone to try and find the right number for the pizza place.

“I get wrapped up in my head a lot, and I forget,” Namjoon says. “I don’t notice… When I’m working, or studying, or otherwise preoccupied… I don’t notice the distance, sometimes. And then when I do, it almost seems… insurmountable. I don’t-” He frowns a little, his smile almost pained. “I don’t know exactly how to fix it. Or if it can be fixed, in the end. But this is good,” he repeats, looking back at Jimin. “We all need this, I think. Especially Yoongi-hyung. Though it’ll take much more than just a text to get him here.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, a little disappointed. He’d been kind of hoping to see Yoongi. In a more relaxed setting than the tattoo shop or the street or that random sighting in Namjoon’s bookstore. “You don’t think he’s coming?” It’s about half an hour past the ‘official’ start of the movie night, but they haven’t put on the actual movie yet. There’s still time.

“I know he’s not coming,” Namjoon says. “He’s just…” He sighs, looking down at droplets of condensation on his beer bottle. “Stubborn, I guess. Sometimes I think he actually enjoys being isolated. Some kind of twisted conviction that he deserves it.”

Jimin frowns at that, not following; he’s about to ask what Namjoon means, when Taehyung and Jungkook join them. Taehyung plops back into the armchair, and Jungkook sits on Namjoon’s other side on the sofa.

“Pizza’ll be here in an hour. Let’s go! Play!” Taehyung shouts.

Jungkook first touches the wall, turning off the lights, then the remote, and the movie starts.

 


 

They take three short breaks for the bathroom - all the while bickering why couldn’t the person who wanted to go went when the previous person had gone - and one longer break for pizza. 

While they’re eating, Jimin asks about Namjoon’s education, and why he chose languages, and why translating and all the books, and so Namjoon talks, mostly. He’s wise but not self-righteous, eloquent and yet approachable, genuinely interesting to speak with. Taehyung had attended the same university Namjoon got his numerous degrees from, and shared that Namjoon is a living legend among the alumni, that there doesn’t exist a member of the faculty who doesn’t respect him. (Namjoon closes his eyes, his nose scrunching up like in that photo from Taehyung’s album, and shakes his head, like him being a legend isn’t true, or doesn’t matter much.)

Jimin suspects that Namjoon would be equally as smart and engaging even without his talents.

They go back to watching the movie stuffed to the gills, nursing their beers (and soda), and lazily following the story to the end.

Right after the credits roll, Taehyung jumps up on the armchair and starts violently strumming the air guitar, imitating the badass masked guitarist from the movie. He bumps into the coffee table, knocks over all of the (thankfully empty) bottles and bowls of popcorn to the floor, along with a couple of slices of pizza.

Namjoon proudly declares that at least this one time the mess isn’t his fault.

And so now Jungkook is curled in on himself on one side of the sofa, lulled to sleep by drinks and pizza and his feeble attempts to get the ketchup stains out of the carpet; Namjoon and Taehyung are deep in a conversation that Jimin has lost track of a while ago.

It doesn’t help that Namjoon’s genius brain is addled by alcohol, and Taehyung is… well, Taehyung.

“...have to understand,” Namjoon is saying, totally convinced of his words, even though his eyes lack focus, “is that water is a limited resource. Sooner or later, the planet will run out, and unless our technology develops to a level that somehow allows us to recycle water on a massive scale - think space ships, but for everyday use - and for a low price…” he trails off, for a moment unclear if he’ll continue. “We’ll need to find alternative water sources. And fast.”

Taehyung is nodding along, his own eyes wide even though he didn’t have a drop of alcohol.

“Other planets,” he says, like his mind has just been blown by Namjoon’s monologue.

“Other planets.”

“Aliens,” Taehyung says again, eyes growing wider.

“Aliens.” Namjoon nods solemnly.

Jimin, in turn, has finally managed to reduce one of the bigger ketchup stains on the carpet to a barely visible discoloration.

He gets off the floor, throws the sponge back into a kitchen corner. Then he collects all bottles to throw them away, and considers washing the dishes; no one else is going to do that today, and they’ll just get gross tomorrow.

(“...influenced by Hollywood and other popular media, but what if they’re all wrong?” Namjoon muses out loud. “What if our own dependence on matter totally skewed our perception of the universe? Like, maybe aliens aren’t corporeal beings at all. Maybe they’re less substantial, without any form of physical manifestation.”

“But then how would we know if they’re among us?” Taehyung asks.

“We wouldn’t, I guess.”

“Holy shit.”)

Jimin’s gaze lands on the remaining slices of pizza, three in the last pizza box on the counter. Jungkook’s still asleep, none of the others are hungry…

Huh.

Jimin casts a look out of Jungkook’s kitchen window. The angle is different from this corner of the alley, but it’s clear that the lights are on in Yoongi’s tattoo shop.

Yoongi is there, barely two buildings down, and yet he didn’t want to come. Jimin doesn’t understand, doesn’t know the reason; he himself has spent most of his life alone and cut-off from his peers, and he would never go back, not for a million years if he had anything to say about it- 

Which means that that this is something big; something that makes Yoongi’s friends worried about him, and that…

We all need this. Especially Yoongi-hyung.

It means that, maybe, Yoongi is hurting.

Jimin doesn’t want him to hurt.

He locates a tupperware container in one of the kitchen cabinets, rinses it and packs the pizza slices.

Taehyung and Namjoon are still having a groundbreaking discussion about who knows what, and Jungkook is still out like a light. As one last thing before he leaves, Jimin takes a pillow from the sofa and moves to gently tuck it under Jungkook’s head, to try and help with the neck pain he’ll undoubtedly have tomorrow.

The moment his fingers brush Jungkook’s hair though, Jungkook jumps, wide awake.

The lights in the kitchen flicker briefly; the TV screen lights up with the start of the movie again; everyone’s phone vibrates for a second, and then switches off.

There’s a moment of still confusion, where Jungkook blinks through his sleepy haze, and Jimin half-expects for the power to completely go out.

“Jungkook-ah?” Namjoon then asks, suddenly serious and alert. “Are you okay?”

“Babe?” Taehyung asks from the armchair.

“Huh?” Jungkook looks at them, seemingly as confused as Jimin, and then he nods, slowly. “Yeah. ‘M okay.”

“You sure?” Jimin asks, though he himself is not sure what’s happening. Just that it’s unusual, and people look on edge. He’s standing closest to Jungkook, but the maknae looks perfectly normal to him.

“Yeah. I just. Had a bad dream,” Jungkook says, and drags a hand down his face. He smiles drowsily. “I’m fine.”

“Okay…” Jimin straightens up, keeps his eyes on Jungkook for a moment longer, and then turns to the others. “I’m going out. I’ll probably be back, if it’s not too late. Will you three be okay?”

“Yup.” Namjoon turns on his phone again before he pointedly deposits his last beer bottle on the coffee table. “Switching to water as of this moment.”

Jimin nods, satisfied. He grabs his tupperware container and heads out the door.

 


 

The night is cool and damp, from the rain shower earlier; Jimin breathes in deeply, reveling in the fresh air, the wet pavement of the alley. 

He takes his time to the tattoo shop, enjoying the silence, sheltered from the boulevard traffic. At the door, he pauses to peer inside. To see the same scene as always - Yoongi, writing in his notebook, pale fingers of his free hand threaded in his hair. Today he’s wearing a black hoodie that completely swallows him, two sizes too big for his frame.

Jimin finds it adorable; a small, cute Yoongi, with his small, cute nose and pouty lips. Who would probably bite Jimin’s ear off if he said that to his face.

Jimin smiles, and knocks. Yoongi spares but a cursory glance his way and waves him in, already back to writing when Jimin steps inside.

A spark of gentle warmth - different from the breezy summer night - drifts over to him, and Jimin turns to its source - the Blue Waterfall baby, in its overlarge pot on the floor right by the door.

“Oh, hey you,” Jimin says, crouching next to it. “Whatcha doing down here?” For a second he worries the baby’s been neglected, forgotten there; but then he notices - feels - that actually the opposite is true. It has grown two more blue star-shaped flowers and several leafy stems, slowly but surely filling out its home. And it’s happy, purring adorably when Jimin brushes his fingers over the soft new petals.

“The windows are tinted,” Yoongi says.

“Hm?”

“The windows are tinted,” Yoongi repeats, though he’s still writing when Jimin looks over. “The glass on the door isn’t. That spot on the floor is the only one with decent lighting during the day.”

“Ah.” Jimin smiles at the baby plant, which sways its flowers in return, effectively smiling back. Yoongi is taking excellent care of it.

Then he stands up, comes closer and sets the tupperware down on the counter. Yoongi regards it warily, like Jimin had brought over a ticking bomb, disguised as fast food.

“It’s pizza,” Jimin says.

Yoongi’s untrusting gaze slides up, to Jimin’s face.

“For dinner. Pizza, for dinner. For you,” Jimin spells it out, a bit self-conscious about it.

There’s the beginning of a frown between Yoongi’s brows - he opens his mouth, but Jimin beats him to it, “Yes, you didn’t ask for it, I know. And no, no one was left hungry because I took out three slices. It’s just more leftover food. Reject pizza,” he adds with a self-satisfied smirk, daring Yoongi to protest now.

Yoongi closes his mouth. Then he grumbles, “I hope you know that muffins and pizza aren’t the most nutritious of food choices,” even as he pulls the container closer to him and opens it; like an overgrown petulant child.

“It’s still better than nothing.”

“I don’t eat nothing.”

“Yeah?” Jimin isn’t impressed. “When was the last time you ate? Whatdya have?”

Yoongi pauses with a slice halfway up to his mouth. “Uh.”

“Thought so.” Jimin grins smugly, making Yoongi scowl as he finally takes a bite. “It’s from Pizza Wheel,” Jimin adds, and eyes the clear surface of the counter to Yoongi’s right. There are no objections when he hops to sit on top. “Extra cheese, extra mushrooms, cheese and bacon stuffed crust.”

“Also known as The Cholesterol Bomb,” Yoongi mumbles over his mouthful.

“Yeah.” Jimin smiles, and then they say at the same time, “Jungkook’s favorite.”

Jimin laughs. He looks down at the tiled floor, how his sneakers swing back and forth, when Yoongi says,

“So. How was the movie?" Not even pretending like he forgot about it, or couldn't come on time... Plain and simple - didn't want to be there. Which, Jimin supposes, deserves some respect.

“Good. The movie was good,” he replies. “We watched Fury Road. Jungkook fell asleep. Namjoon-ssi and Tae got into this discussion about… Something like, protecting our sources of clean water? And then aliens, after that? Though I’m not sure how they got from one to the other. Beer was involved.”

Yoongi hums. “Sounds like the kind of shit they’d talk about.”

“Yeah. It was nice. Namjoon-ssi…” Jimin squints, thinking. “He’s like this incredibly smart, cool guy that you can’t stop listening to… You just want to absorb everything he says. But then, he also runs into doorframes and is kind of a dork.”

Yoongi snorts over his pizza. “A huge dork,” he says. “He has a collection of Ryan and Brown plush toys up in his apartment.”

Jimin looks at him, eyes wide. “He does not!”

“Does too. And a bunch of these other, creepy figurines that I never ask about, because I’m frankly a little scared of the answer.”

Jimin erupts into bright, uninhibited laughter. “Wow! That’s… Yeah.” He then throws a sly look Yoongi’s way. “And here I thought you weren’t scared of anything.”

“Trust me,” Yoongi nods, starting on his second slice, “Namjoon and his toy collection are not to be fucked with.”

Jimin’s giggles fill the empty tattoo shop, ring out, until they slowly dissolve.

It’s probably the most he’s heard Yoongi speak in a single exchange since he’s met him. It’s nice. Pleasant. He likes Yoongi’s brand of blunt, deadpan humor.

And probably because of that comfortable companionship they’ve got going on, Jimin feels bold enough to say what he came here to say in the first place.

His gaze travels over Yoongi’s notebook, his discordant, mysterious writing, then up to Yoongi himself; his dark hair, still disheveled where he’d pulled at it. He looks so soft even while he eats, bathed in the perpetually dim lamplight.

“You should come, next time,” Jimin says.

Yoongi doesn’t seem to hear him. But then he swallows, and opens up a drawer to his left, rummaging through it. “Yeah, maybe.”

A purposefully vague answer.

Jimin hesitates, watching how Yoongi takes out a pack of tissues and wipes his mouth with one, before he continues, carefully, “Taehyung says you need more fun in your life.”

“Does he?” Yoongi smirks. He tears an empty page from his notebook, balls up the tissue and then wraps it in the paper, in one big, solid trash ball. “He should know that I’ve never had fun in my life, ever.” Yoongi then shoots the ball across the tattoo shop - it flies in a perfect loop and lands directly in the waste basket by the window.

His reply was meant as a joke, more of his dry sarcasm, but now Jimin doesn’t laugh.

“I saw photos,” he says, practically feeling how he’s crossing some kind of a line here. From stay out of it right into personal fucking territory. But he pushes on, because he’s determined, and persistent, and he’s here. He’s not backing down.

“From Tae’s album. He showed me how all of you used to spend time together. I saw you, in this shop. With your partner. You were smiling.” Jimin’s focused on the edge of the counter, his blunt nails trying to chip away at it. He remembers Yoongi’s sweet smile. “Seemed like you were having plenty of fun then.”

Silence. Long and tense, until Jimin gathers the courage to look up; to face Yoongi’s demonic, all-black eyes if necessary, to bear the volume of his outrage, to apologize profusely for bringing up an obviously sensitive subject-

Except that Yoongi isn’t pissed.

He is staring at Jimin, but there’s no anger in his dark eyes. More like surprise, and maybe something else; something more raw underneath, more fragile…

Broken.

Jimin’s heart clenches, and he fights the sudden urge to hug Yoongi; to tell him it’s okay, it’s okay, whatever it is… It wouldn't be welcome. Not now, not here.

So Jimin just smiles a little, hopes to offer comfort.

“It looked good on you,” he says. “The smiling. It would be nice to see it again. Or, you know, not only in a photograph, for me.”

Yoongi blinks and looks away, and doesn’t speak. Jimin doesn’t insist, either. He gives Yoongi his space, averting his attention to the tattoo gallery wall, instead.

Jimin breathes, until the tightness in his chest dissipates; until he no longer feels like resorting to physical affection to reassure.

The artwork helps.

Some, probably many of the framed tattoos had been done by Hoseok. The watercolor ones, which resemble the style of his own inked skin.

Jimin wonders who did Hoseok’s stunning sleeve tattoos. Yoongi? Does he know how to do the watercolors?

And who did Yoongi’s tattoos? How do they move? Why do they move? How does that fit in with Yoongi’s ability?

What more can he do? If anything?

Maybe, one day, Jimin will find out these things.

Maybe, he’ll understand why Hoseok had simply left, and took pieces of Yoongi with him.

“You don’t know me.”

Jimin turns back. “What?”

“You don’t know me,” Yoongi repeats quietly, meeting his eyes. No bitterness, no challenge; no vulnerability, anymore. Another neutral statement. “Why…?” He doesn’t finish, but Jimin hears it.

Why do you care? What does it matter?

“Well, I know some things.” Jimin smiles, aiming to lighten the mood. He starts counting on his ringed fingers. “You don’t eat. Your blood stream is probably more like a coffee stream at this point. You don’t sleep. You’re grumpy as fuck, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the previously mentioned, or if it’s just your naturally cheery disposition.”

He pauses for a second, and then says, more seriously, “You stood up for me when it was important; when you didn’t even know me. Hell, when I was just an annoying next door neighbor, probably. You care, even though you act like you don’t. You hardly ever see your friends, who, by the way, happen to be my friends, too…” Jimin turns to face Yoongi fully, lifting his legs and crossing them on top of the counter. “You’re a friend of my friends, which by some extension makes you my friend also, and… And they’re worried about you.”

Yoongi listens, doesn’t cut in.

“They want to help,” Jimin says, lowering his hands to his lap. “I… Obviously I don’t know what happened… And I don’t have to know what happened. It’s not… It has nothing to do with me. But…” His shoulders slump a little as he tries to find the right words; tries to express what he thinks. “Whatever it is. Whatever this is.” He gestures, encompassing the shop and the notebook and Yoongi himself. “Maybe, sometimes, you can take a break from it? Like, just for a couple of hours a week or something. It’s not- It doesn’t seem healthy to be constantly… living in it. If that makes any sense.”

None of it probably makes much sense. Jimin’s talking about things he has no business talking about, meddling where he’s not supposed to meddle; in the end probably just making an idiot of himself.

He lets out a sigh, and looks down at his hands, turning a ring on his index finger. Yoongi is silent, and Jimin lets him process it, for a while.

Then he adds, as an afterthought, “Even Pip thinks you should get out sometimes.”

“Pip?” Yoongi’s voice reflects his frown.

Jimin tips his head toward the baby bellflower. “I feel its warmth as sort of a… peep. In my mind, it’s squeaky. So, Pip.”

Yoongi looks at him, unmoved. “Pip thinks I should get out more?” he asks dryly. “It stays in the shop all day, how does it know where I go when I leave? GPS tracking?”

Jimin laughs. “It can sense your moods, Yoongi-ssi. Normal people don’t have as much of a connection with plants as I do, but plants can still feel their emotions, mood changes. Pip doesn’t know where you go, but it knows you’re…”

“A fucking delight to have around?” Yoongi deadpans, making Jimin laugh harder.

“I was gonna say not at your best, but yeah.”

There’s a hint of a smirk on Yoongi’s lips now. “So, my friends and my houseplant think I should get a life?”

“Basically.” Jimin nods. “And I do, too, of course.”

“Ah, yes, of course. You. My… Extended Friend.” It’s almost a smile now, a small quirk of Yoongi’s mouth - not nearly as wide or as captivating as in the photograph, but Jimin likes it already. Likes how Yoongi’s eyes pinch at the corners, likes his squishable cheeks. “Who brings me unhealthy food I didn’t ask for.”

“But which you didn’t even know you needed!” Jimin exclaims, grinning wide.

Yoongi rolls his eyes, but the almost-smile is still there, on the verge of becoming bigger.

“Okay, Park Jimin,” Yoongi says, and helps himself with the last slice of pizza, possibly to stop himself from displaying any more amusement in front of Jimin. (That’s okay. Jimin’s patient. He will wait for as long as he needs to, to see Yoongi’s real, gummy smile.) “I will think about it.”

“Really think about it?” Jimin narrows his eyes. “Not just think about it because it’ll get us off your back?”

“Really think about it,” Yoongi confirms before he takes a bite.

“YES!” Jimin throws his arms up in the air, startling Yoongi into nearly dropping the pizza. “You can even pick the movie next time!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Yoongi mutters, taking out another tissue to wipe grease off his fingers from how awkwardly he’d caught the slice. “Brat,” he says and continues eating, but he looks happier, more at ease than when Jimin had first walked in.

Jimin tries his best not to preen. He watches Yoongi, feeling accomplished and proud, until Yoongi asks,

“Don’t you have better things to do than to stare at me while I eat?”

“I might,” Jimin says, smiling, not stopping with the staring. “I left the others at Jungkook’s, I don’t know if they’re all still in one piece.”

“Probably conked out.”

“Probably.”

A pause.

“Jimin-”

“I know, I know!” Jimin laughs, unfolds his legs from under him and slides off the counter. “The part where you say it’s late, and you have work or journaling or whatever, and I should leave.”

“See?” Yoongi smirks as he swallows his last mouthful. “We already have a great routine.”

Jimin collects the tupperware and its lid, and bows shortly. “It was nice feeding you, Yoongi-ssi.” He turns, practically bouncing towards the door. “Have a good night. Don’t stay up too late!”

“Hey, Jimin-ah.”

The change of honorific, the implied closeness, familiarity that comes with it makes Jimin stop at the threshold. He looks back, at Yoongi, enveloped by his oversized hoodie, with his fluffy hair and beautiful face.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says.

Jimin couldn’t hold back his smile even if he wanted to. “You’re welcome.”

 


 

Yoongi tries to go back to his writing after. He really does.

But words are hard - have been, for months - and the pizza from earlier sits heavy in his stomach, making him sluggish; sleepier, than usual.

He hasn’t made any real progress, anyway. It’s all bland and repetitive and most of it ends up scratched out in the lines of his notebook.

Yoongi drops his pen and presses the heels of his palms to his stinging eyes.

Fuck.

Fuck this day.

This year.

Fuck all of it.

He’s so tired. Every hour of every day, he’s so tired he could scream.

There has been some progress. He’s not locked up in his tiny rental apartment anymore; he actually sees the sun sometimes and has managed to return to the shop, in a way. Not working, no - he’s not ready for actually opening it for business.

Not by himself. Maybe not ever.

But at least he’s talking to others again. Talking being a generous word, of course. More like sitting together and avoiding the topic that matters, that hangs in the air like a noose. Skirting around the questions he knows they have and never voicing his own, apart from that one time, months ago.

How’s he doing?

Good. He’s good. Better.

Yoongi can’t really sleep anymore; he just tries to work or stares blankly at the TV or even runs sometimes, around his neighborhood, to exhaust himself enough to pass out. That way, he doesn’t dream.

He still wakes up - in the morning, or the afternoon, or even evening - wanting to just stay in bed until he forgets about the world. Or until the world forgets about him.

It doesn’t seem healthy to be constantly… living in it.

Yoongi snorts and finally closes his notebook for the night. Of course it’s not fucking healthy. Everyone knows that. He knows that.

He also knows that he doesn’t deserve healthy. He doesn’t deserve fun, happy, healthy, none of the things the others, and especially Jimin, are trying to get him to do.

Jimin.

The new boy with bright eyes and a smile so dazzling Yoongi had literally stopped breathing the first time he’d witnessed its full effect. Jimin, whose loud laughter makes Yoongi want to laugh too, who has a strange fixation on other people’s eating habits, and who is too stubborn for his own good.

Who doesn't know.

He doesn't know-

Yoongi stands up, his chair screeching across the floor.

Fuck.

Fuck.

He doesn’t want to take the subway back to his miserable rental. It’s a long wait and a long ride and he’s tired - tired - and everything sucks (everything always sucks now)-

Yoongi looks up, as though he can see through the ceiling, into the apartment he actually owns; where he hasn’t set foot in since-

Since. 

It’s a long ride back, but Yoongi isn't sure he’s ready for the alternative.

He packs up his notebook in the first drawer - doesn’t take it with him anymore, makes no difference where he attempts to write - and takes out his keys from his jeans pocket.

He pauses by the blue baby flower on his way out, and chuckles at the fact that apparently it’s got a name now.

Pip. Fitting.

Slowly, as he’s watching, one of Pip’s open flowers turns to him, a gesture that Yoongi’s started interpreting as quiet support, or Pip trying to make him feel better by showing him pretty flowers. Or simply showing off, Yoongi can’t tell. He’ll have to ask Jimin.

Yoongi thinks. He looks at the flower, and thinks; takes into account what he has, several subway stations away. What he has, here. What he could have here again, maybe.

(He shouldn’t, a voice in his head says, it’s his fault he doesn’t have it anymore. His fault, his fault, he’s lost every right to be here, no one wants him - that’s not true - they’re all afraid of him - no, they’re not-)

Pip’s small flowers sway lightly, like a tiny dance.

Yoongi hates himself. He hates himself, and hates what he’s done, what he’ll do again; hates it, hates it, and Pip is really nice to have around, even if it’s not the most talkative of creatures (or precisely because of that), and Jimin’s smile is beautiful, and the way Namjoon had looked at Yoongi and said, You can’t punish yourself forever, hyung -

Yoongi hates himself and still just wants to scream. Loudly. For days, weeks, scream until his throat is raw and all the ink bleeds out of him.

Maybe, sometimes, you can take a break from it?

He bites on the inside of his cheek, and finally, finally makes a decision.

“Okay,” he sighs, “let’s go.”

Yoongi picks up Pip’s pot, cradles it against his hip and walks out into the cool night. He locks the door to the tattoo shop and turns, eyes automatically drawn to the lights above Jungkook’s repair shop.

He thinks he hears laughter through an open window - maybe Jungkook’s, maybe Jimin’s - but it could just be his imagination.

(They don’t need him there, they don’t want him there - yes, they do - he doesn’t deserve to be there with them - he doesn’t- )

He shakes his head, jingles his keys and finds the ones he hasn’t used in almost a year. Yoongi opens the building entrance next to the window of the tattoo shop and climbs the dark, dusty stairway to the first floor.

The hallway light surprisingly still works when he hits the switch, and the small landing, with only one apartment door, is cast in a weak yellowish glow.

He takes a moment, to brace himself.

Namjoon had been here, since that night. Jin, before he left, and Taehyung, and Jungkook, too. They cleaned, returned everything in its place, tried to bring it back to normal; brought Yoongi’s clothes for him, his notebook and laptop.

Yoongi doesn’t know what to expect on the other side of the door. His grip tightens around Pip’s pot, and the baby plant shies away from the apartment; like it can sense something bad had happened there. Or it can sense the way Yoongi’s heart thumps in his throat, how he both wants to go inside and to get as far away from it as possible.

“It’s okay,” Yoongi says, not sure if he’s talking to himself or the bellflower. “There’s nothing to be scared of. I’m here.”

Which isn’t much of a consolation, all things considered. The monster from the apartment isn’t there anymore, but only because he’s now standing in the poorly lit hallway, holding a flower pot.

Slowly, taking his time, Yoongi unlocks the apartment, and pushes the door open, revealing a short entrance hall, and a living room beyond it.

Illuminated by the streetlights from the alley is his well-worn leather couch, the lopsided coffee table - with a broken leg ever since Jungkook crashed into it during his and Taehyung’s (and Hoseok’s) dance-off. The bookcase, half filled with books and half with CDs, Blue-Rays, and one Kumamon plush toy. (Hoseok had won that in some dumb festival game, and gave it to him and- don’t think.) The old upright piano by the window, still with sheet music in the music rack - Yoongi hasn’t played a single tune since he’s last been here.

A thick layer of dust over everything.

Yoongi holds onto Pip and walks in, closing the door behind him. He almost chokes on the thick air, stale and too hot. He crosses the living room and opens a window, letting in the night breeze. Then he turns on the floor lamp by the sofa, and thinks - it all looks the same. Apart from the dust, it’s like he had never left.

But the real damage wasn’t in the living room, anyway.

With a deep inhale, Yoongi looks down the short hallway leading to the bedroom, with the door of the bathroom in between, and then at Pip. The baby plant’s flowers are closed now; Yoongi doesn't find that encouraging.

“It’s okay,” he repeats, lightly jiggling the pot. “We’ll be okay.”

But the small blue flowers remain closed. Yoongi’s heartbeat is too fast as he takes a step forward. And another one. Another two. He stops in the hallway, looking into the small bathroom.

Tiles - white. Floor - spotless. Bathtub - empty. Nothing; there’s nothing out of place, not a speck of black, not a single hint as to what had happened. The guys outdid themselves, they must’ve washed for ages, and Yoongi can’t even imagine what they must have been going through; yet another thing that’s his fault, another hurt to add to the list- don’t.

His gaze lands on the wall just next to the bathroom door, and Yoongi sucks in a breath.

A faint silhouette stands out on the white of the hallway wall, an impression which had been black at some point, but has faded to a barely noticeable gray, from persistent scrubbing or time or god knows what.

A handprint. Smudged downwards, like someone had- had needed support, couldn’t stand on their own, struggled, but had to move, had to get away-

Like someone had fallen right where Yoongi’s standing now.

And someone had.

Yoongi has enough presence of mind to slowly lower Pip to the floor, before he lunges for the toilet and pukes his guts out.

Chapter Text

Jimin pads out of bed a little before noon. On auto pilot, he locates the kitchen and gets his box of cereal, stuffs a handful into his mouth (crunch.) before pouring it into a bowl. He uses the last of the milk, returns the empty carton to the fridge, and takes too long to realize he needs a spoon next…

Yesterday, when he’d returned to Jungkook’s and their movie night, it had transformed into a gaming night, with Namjoon and Jungkook in a fierce kart race. Jungkook was only holding his controller - not pressing any buttons - eyes wide and almost unblinking at the TV screen, while Taehyung did his best to help Namjoon beat the tech whizz, shouting in his ear.

Of course they failed.

Of course Jungkook was smug about it, and thus disqualified from further racing.

The other three then proceeded to battle it out amongst themselves, and Taehyung won.

Jimin came home at stupid o’clock, still with remnants of laughter around his eyes, and the feeling of Namjoon’s pat on the back when they parted ways in the alley. It was fun. They’re going to do it again soon. Movie night, game night, beer night - all of it.

Jimin finally fishes out a spoon from a drawer spoons aren’t supposed to be in, and digs in.

He pulls out his cheap plastic chair and takes a seat at the small table, by the open window. Temperatures are rising again after last night’s rain, the sun high and too bright above the street.

Only the bookstore is open today, and there are hardly any people passing by underneath. Jimin stares blankly at the SOPE sign as he munches on his cereal. He wonders if Yoongi stayed up late last night; he can’t remember seeing the lights on in the tattoo shop. Did Yoongi go back to wherever he lives? Is he asleep at this hour?

Is he’s okay…

Then Jimin lifts his gaze straight ahead, and sees it: directly across from him, at level with his floor is another open window - Yoongi’s, that’s Yoongi’s apartment - and on the window ledge, just shy of direct sunlight - Pip in its pot.

Jimin balks. He’s too far away to feel the baby plant - his talents only have so much range - but all of its flowers are open and looking out, bright blue. A touch of cool in the summer heatwave.

If Pip is there, if the window is open - it’s never been open before, has it? - then that means, it must mean-

Jimin’s eyebrows shoot up when he spots movement.

There, from the back of the dark apartment, slow and barely awake, Yoongi emerges. His dark hair sticks out in the back, his oversized shirt rumpled, one hand scratching at his belly underneath it-

Jimin brings his spoon down with too much force; it clunks, tips his bowl over and spills the rest of his breakfast all over his sleeping shorts.

“Shit!”

The bowl rolls right off the table, milk dripping everywhere, and Jimin barely catches it before it shatters to the ground.

Even with that minor heart attack - and his soaked shorts - he looks back, searches until he finds Yoongi again.

Yoongi is in the kitchen now, opening the fridge. His large white t-shirt only emphasizes how lean he is, how pale; the ink winding up from his wrists stands out in sharp relief. Jimin licks his lips, unable to look away.

The tattoos are clearly moving, swirling around Yoongi’s arms - fast, almost restless compared to the last time Jimin saw them. Like they’re disturbed.

Like maybe Yoongi is disturbed, too.

But he seems okay; sleepy, zombified, but altogether normal as he walks around the kitchen, and then stops by the window to check on Pip.

Yoongi brushes his fingers over Pip’s leaves, and the plant sways happily. Jimin is riveted by the odd combination of dark and soft - the glow of Yoongi’s skin in the streak of sunlight, his moving ink, wrapping around his arms and hands and gradually settling into that calm, breathing state… The sweet flower, the gentleness of Yoongi’s touch. A dream.

Jimin smiles, at the same time Yoongi looks up from the baby plant.

He sees Jimin across the alley, staring at him, and frowns. Jimin’s face warms up, but he fights the urge to duck out of sight; Yoongi already noticed him - diving for cover would be embarrassing on so many levels.

Instead, Jimin widens his smile and waves with the now-empty bowl he’s still holding. The last droplets of milk land on his shirt.

Yoongi’s expression softens. Jimin’s pretty sure he even snorts, lips quirking up. He gives a small wave back.

 


 

While lounging on his own couch, head hanging off the seat and legs propped up against the backrest, with Jungkook’s head on his stomach and watching a drama Taehyung insisted on, Jimin decides that he’ll sign up for the dance studio he’d liked during his initial, trial classes.

He has enough money now. Maybe. He’ll save on food and restaurant outings if he has to, but he’d like to have somewhere for expending excess energy. And for preserving his sanity.

The studio he has his mind on is a few subway stations away - not close, but not too far. The people are friendly, welcoming, and they do a creative combination of contemporary ballet and other dance styles. Jimin had fed off the atmosphere in that one class he’d tried out.

So the next day he pays for a membership, and enjoys the soreness of his muscles after the first couple of practices. Taehyung and Jungkook poke fun at how slowly he moves. (“Like a sloth,” Taehyung says, patting Jimin’s head. “Jimin the Sloth. Jiminie Sloth. Minisloth. Park Minisloth.” Then he bursts out laughing, and Jimin laughs with him.)

He’s a little rusty from taking a break for a few months, but he’ll get back in shape soon. Just needs to put in some work.

On a Friday Jimin comes home closer to midnight, wiped after trying to pin down a move and failing to do so even after two and a half hours of intense dancing.

He drops his gym bag by the door, toes off his sneakers, trudges into the kitchen and opens the fridge, reaching for the orange juice. He drinks like a man dying of vitamin C deficiency, and glances through his window out of the corner of his eye.

At first Jimin had thought it was a one time thing, Yoongi spending the night in his old apartment. Maybe he wasn’t feeling like going back to wherever he went before; maybe he’d needed to get something, or drop something off.

But days passed by and Jimin realized that Yoongi has actually returned. Lights are often on in the living room, or in the back. Jimin sees Yoongi’s dark head where he sits at the kitchen table, or the bluish flicker of the TV. And Pip, with its flowers open, either toward the outside or the inside of the apartment, peaceful on the window ledge.

They haven’t actually spoken, or acknowledged each other since that first greeting over a week ago. But Jimin finds it reassuring that Yoongi’s there now. Closer. Where he used to be, in all the heartwarming pictures in Tae’s album. Home.

Maybe he’s getting better.

Then Jimin spots Yoongi in the kitchen and thinks, maybe not.

Yoongi’s sitting at the table again, but he’s bent over it, his forehead resting on the surface. Sleeping, or just done with life.

Jimin swallows the last of the orange juice, returns the bottle to the fridge, and takes too long to find a crumpled, stained notepad in the depths of his living room. Then he writes out in large, black letters. 

M I N  Y O O N G I
you ok?

Jimin grins, finds tape in a drawer next to some random spoons, and sticks the writing on his kitchen window, facing outward.

Then he goes to take a shower.

He doesn’t actually expect an answer, or a reaction of any kind. Yoongi probably won’t even see the message.

If he’s being honest with himself, Jimin just thinks he’s being funny. Trying to get Yoongi’s attention, or maybe help him feel better. Draw a smile out of him.

He towel-dries his blond hair and slips into his stretched-out sleeping shirt and shorts, before he returns to the kitchen to get water. To see if there’s maybe a box of instant noodles he’s forgotten about, though he’s almost positive he’s all out of those.

He looks over at Yoongi’s again, and stops when he realizes there’s a piece of paper - much like his own - taped to Yoongi’s kitchen window across the street.

Jimin scans the apartment, but doesn’t see anyone. Yoongi’s gone.

It’s dark, the street lamps providing only so much light, and the letters on the paper are too small to read even when Jimin leans out his open window. He solves the problem by getting his phone, turning on the camera and zooming in on the writing. 

dead inside
but ok

Jimin snorts. He hopes that was a joke. Then he writes a reply on the other side of his own message. 

diary not helping?
maybe you should try with more sleep

After taping it back, he doesn’t have much else to do but to go to bed. (No noodles. Past!Jimin is a pig who eats too much too fast and present!Jimin has a bone to pick with him.) He leaves the kitchen light on, so that Yoongi can read off the paper whenever he happens to see it, and passes out the moment his head hits the pillow.


not. a diary.
can’t sleep. watched the bride show

Jimin laughs into his morning cereal. He tears out a new page from his pitiful notepad.

that show where brides try to find the perfect dress for like the entire hour long episode ?


 why do they always get the heart shaped necklines

“Jiminie! Come on, we’ll be late for the movie!” Taehyung’s voice booms outside the apartment.

“Yeah, I want to see the previews!” Jungkook adds. “And to get that giant bowl of nachos!”

“Two of those, I’m not sharing with him!”

A muffled sound, probably a punch, and Taehyung’s, “OW, babe!”

“Be there in a sec!” Jimin shouts back, over their bickering, and scribbles under his previous message. He can barely contain his giggles, imagining a straight-faced Yoongi watching young women gush over sequins and pearls and the Right Dress.

is this why you’re not sleeping? plagued by the inexplicable popularity of heart shaped necklines?

 


I feel like it’s a legitimate reason to lose sleep

 Jimin can’t believe this is what they’re talking about. In this way. Discussing Yoongi’s questionable late-night, exhaustion-driven TV-watching choices.

 Not that he’s complaining.

if you’re about to walk down the aisle, maybe
is there something you’re not telling us? kekeke


heart shaped necklines draw unnecessary attention to my bony shoulders

Jimin chokes, howls with laughter, the sound drifting out his open window. Across the alley, in his own apartment, Yoongi turns; he walks over, like Jimin’s laugh pulls him in, and stops by Pip, raising his eyebrows.

Jimin beams at him and makes a show of writing a new message on his already cramped paper.

your shoulders are fine
you are fine

He pauses. What does he mean by that? You're fine as in, you’re doing okay, or you're fine as in, there’s nothing wrong with how you look; in fact you’re very cute even when you scowl, and I wonder if your hair would feel soft if I touch it?  

Jimin doesn’t know what he means. Either. Both.

Both.

His heart beats too fast and his cheeks are too hot as he adds more, to change the topic:

no writing today?

Then he presses the paper to the window, not taping it this time. Hoping that Yoongi doesn’t see his blush all the way from his apartment.

Yoongi squints at the words, then shakes his head. Not reacting to Jimin’s first lines, but the last one; no writing. He plucks his own message paper off the glass above Pip’s pot and replies, in larger font this time:

no inspiration

So it’s something he needs inspiration for. Something creative. (Unless Yoongi’s joking again, which is really hard to tell by his neutral face at the moment.)

is it a book?

Yoongi shakes his head.

a script?

Yoongi bangs his forehead on the window, making Jimin laugh again.

erotic short stories? :3

Jimin tries to match his own expression with the smiley, at which Yoongi just shoots him a glare and walks away, taking his message paper with him.

 


 

At 7 a.m. that Monday Jimin seriously considers changing the opening time of his flower shop. Why 8 o’clock? Why did he choose 8? What’s wrong with 10? Or even noon for that matter? Why must one be a responsible adult and get up on time for work every morning?

Jimin goes about his morning routine, as usual, and almost misses it. Almost doesn’t realize what he’d seen when he’s already dressed and searching for his phone to head downstairs.

But a ping! goes off in his mind as he grabs the phone off the kitchen counter, and Jimin turns around, narrowing his eyes in the morning light. There’s a new message on Yoongi’s window.

songs

That one word. Nothing more.

Yoongi’s been writing songs. Poetry, Jimin remembers thinking when he’d cast a glance at Yoongi’s notebook.

Songs, songs… Jimin can’t stop staring at the message. Another softness, another beauty to Yoongi that he reluctantly shares, an artistry that he struggles with… A different kind from the tattoos, or maybe the same, maybe it all comes from the same place, Jimin wouldn’t know. So personal, a piece of Yoongi...

Jimin fiddles with his own message paper, not sure why he’s so affected by this. He needs to answer. He can’t just pretend he didn’t see it.

So he decides to be honest.

thank you for telling me, Yoongi-ssi
I hope you find your inspiration soon 

And to maybe cheer him up a bit, Jimin doodles an image of a chubby puppy with its tongue sticking out, before going down to open the flower shop.

 


 

He’s distracted, smiling on reflex, arranging bouquets by muscle memory. The flowers rustle as customers come and go, quietly asking Jimin what’s wrong. Why he’s so off. Confusing them. 

Jimin deflects, answers with an equivalent of it’s nothing as he busies himself.

He doesn’t know the reason. He can’t explain it, the fact that he thinks of Yoongi; of Yoongi’s captivating tattoos, how he’s gentle with Pip, his cute face, and songs, all this time he’s been writing songs…

By closing time Jimin has so many questions he feels like he’ll jump out of his skin if he doesn’t text Taehyung or Jungkook right now, immediately-

Which is exactly when Taehyung walks into the flower shop, humming to himself.

He doesn’t even get to utter a proper hello before Jimin starts, “Did you know that Yoongi-ssi writes songs?”

Taehyung pauses in the middle of the shop, letting the last customer sidestep him on her way out. Jimin belatedly remembers his manners and shouts after her, “Thank you for coming!” before he turns back to Taehyung with wide, expectant eyes.

“Okay, so I guess that’s what we’re talking about today,” Taehyung says, smiling, beginning his usual round of greeting the flowers. “Yes, of course I know. Yoongi-hyung’s been writing songs ever since… I think even before he came to the city.”

“What kinds of songs?”

“I dunno.” Taehyung shrugs, running his fingers over the rose bush, which positively glows under his attention. “Mostly rap. Some other styles, too.”

“Have you heard any of them?”

“Some.”

“Are they good?”

“Yeah, I like them.” Taehyung nods to the daisies. “He has this... way with words. Like he uses them to set you on fire.”

Jimin frowns, not entirely getting that, but he attributes the comparison to Taehyung’s naturally weird thought processes.

“So, does…” He sorts through his questions, all of which cram forward in his mind, begging to be asked. “Does he publish the songs?”

“Mhm. He… Well.” Taehyung moves over to the rich pink lilies, smiling widely as they open their flowers for him. “He started out in the underground, as far as I remember. Tattoos by day, rap battles by night. He wrote and produced his own mixtape and uploaded it somewhere, for free. It was before we met, but that’s… I think that’s how he started getting better deals.”

“Better deals?”

“Yeah. Some producer somewhere, from some record label, found his mixtape and asked him to put something together for… for an idol? Or an idol group?” Taehyung takes a too long pause to coo at a group of colorful hyacinths, much to Jimin’s impatience. “Yoongi-hyung was pretty much broke at that point, so he accepted the job. He moved here, got his place… Met us. Opened SOPE with Hobi-hyung. Though he still writes and produces for the big guys sometimes, I think. Not on a regular basis, but yeah.”

Jimin’s mouth is open, and he can’t find it in himself to close it just yet. Yoongi - tattooing and rapping and songs and producing for big companies on the side, what the hell. Jimin feels a little faint, dropping into his stool behind the counter.

Then he remembers he has a phone, and that the phone has internet access, and why the fuck didn’t he think of this sooner, he curses as he searches Min Yoongi on Naver.

But he comes up with nothing. No relevant results, not even social media accounts that might be the Yoongi he knows. “I can’t find anything about him online.”

“Oh, he works under different pseudonyms. He’s very… Yoongi, about it,” Taehyung says, waving at the gerbera, which waves its flowers back, having sensed his intention. “Not very big on people or networking, just enjoying the… process, I guess. The music. The attention it gets, and the effect it has on people.”

“P-pseudonyms?” Jimin manages. “What pseudonyms?”

“Hm. Suga is a big one.” The daffodils actually extend their long, narrow leaves and carefully wrap them around Taehyung’s finger, and Jimin nearly spins right off his stool with their rush of excitement.

He focuses, types in the search bar again.

Suran’s hit dominating the charts

Behind the scenes of Cold Stone’s new album

Charity single with all of your fav idols

Jimin opens some of the titles, skims down the texts, but Suga is only mentioned in passing. Thanked for his hard work, this or that song credited to him, but the fans are far more interested in their idols than actual producers.

In the article about the charity single there is one quote though, how producer Suga is honored to have been allowed to contribute to the cause that means a lot to him personally. All of the proceeds from that star-packed song go to an organization named Spring is Here, aimed at helping special youths struggling with their gifts, teaching them how to handle them better, how to adjust and to not be afraid of who they are.

Jimin’s clutching his phone so tightly that his fingers turn white.

Min Yoongi. Tattoo artist. Suga. Songwriter. Producer. Min Yoongi. Yoongi. Dark. Soft. Troubled. Beautiful.

“Agust D is the name he released his mixtape under,” Taehyung adds, straightening up. Finally completing his rounds. He comes closer, props his elbows up on the counter and puts his chin in his hands. “He told you about the writing.”

“Huh?” Jimin needs a moment to come back to himself, to unclench. He sets his phone down next to Taehyung. “Yeah, he told me. Kind of. Not… Not all of this.”

He doesn’t know what to make of all of this.

“Yoongi-hyung uses music as sort of… an escape, maybe? A way to express himself, since he’s not the best at doing that in real life. He plays the piano, too. Or played, anyway.” Taehyung tilts his head. “Haven’t you ever wondered how he earns money if his tattoo shop hasn’t been open for months now?”

Jimin looks into Taehyung’s big eyes, deep and striking up close. “No, I- I never thought about that.”

“Royalties. And maybe he worked on something more since… Since he closed the shop. No idea. SOPE was really his and Hobi-hyung’s, something they started together. It was a solid business, and it gave Yoongi-hyung enough time to work on music in his spare time.”

“And he closed it after Hoseok left?”

Taehyung smiles a little sadly. “Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

Jimin looks down, fingers finding the buttons on Teahyung’s shirtsleeve - shaped like diamonds, god he’s so flashy - and fiddling with them.

Jokbal later?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin shakes his head. “Dance practice after work. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, sure.” Teahyung lets Jimin be quiet for a moment longer, lets him play with the buttons before he says, “Is something wrong?”

For all his ridiculousness and reputation as an air-head, Taehyung can be unnervingly perceptive when he wants to. Jimin sighs and meets his gaze.

“You’re pouting,” Taehyung says.

“I’m not,” Jimin replies and stops pouting. “I just…” He shrugs, unable to put the feeling into words. This thrum in his chest, the need to see Yoongi again, to tell him-

Why does he have to tell him anything? Why is it important, anyway?

Jimin smiles, but it’s tinged with uncertainty. “He writes songs,” he says, like that explains it. The source of all of this.

“He writes songs,” Taehyung echoes. There’s something in his eyes that Jimin can’t discern; something that Jimin doesn’t know, but maybe Taehyung can guess.

But then Taehyung straightens up and drums a beat on the counter, breaking the moment. “Kook stayed up last night working. Again. Gotta go whoop his ass. Not literally,” he adds as he turns to the door, before he stops. “Okay, maybe literally. We like a little-”

“I can’t even begin to tell you just how much I don’t want to know,” Jimin says through a laugh.

“Text you later!”

Taehyung already has the door open, one foot over the threshold when Jimin stops him. “Hold on.” He narrows his eyes. “Did you come to my shop just so you could talk to the plants?”

Taehyung smirks. “Can’t have them thinking I don’t like them back, can I?”

He cackles out loud when Jimin flings a roll of polka-dotted tape at his head, but is too slow and hits the closing door instead.

“Punk!” Jimin shouts and Taehyung laughs down the alley, on his way to Jungkook’s shop.

 


 

It’s late when he crawls into bed that night. His hair is damp, his sheets are clean (mental high five for doing laundry), and for once it’s pleasantly cool in the bedroom, the window open and a breeze drifting in. Jimin sighs as he relaxes, tired from dance class - a good, accomplished kind of tired.

He holds his phone above his head, earphones in place, and easily finds Agust D’s mixtape on a random streaming site. He’s not sure if it’s the original one where Yoongi uploaded it all that time ago, but the album has a high rating, and some positive comments underneath it.

The cover is a silhouette; a profile of a person with a hood over their eyes, holding a microphone to their lips. It could be Yoongi. It could also be anyone other than him.

Jimin presses play, and first hears drums, like from a marching band. Then a heavy beat, maybe trumpets for some funk - backdrop to a low, rough voice; Yoongi’s voice, but unlike anything Jimin’s heard from him- fast, cutthroat, spitting rhymes-

Words like barbed wire, tightening and digging into Jimin’s skin, coarse and jagged, fuck, fuck, Jimin has to sit up, this is so-

 ...like he uses words to set you on fire.

He listens to the title song in a trance, holding his breath. Tense, for the entirety of it; chasing every line like in a fever dream. It’s too fast, too good, making his heart race, holy shit-

And then it ends.

The silence is brief before the next song starts, and Jimin fumbles to pause it because he’s not done having a Freak Out over the first one.

He releases a long exhale, not fully comprehending what he just listened to. Realizing he actually didn’t hear at least half of the lyrics, how caught off-guard he was. He needs to listen to the song again.

And again.

And then one more time, still sitting cross-legged in his dark bedroom, until he’s ready to proceed to the next one.

Yoongi is. Amazing.

Real and raw and honest. Inspiring, nothing short of absolutely-fucking-genius.

The mixtape is a story, about himself; about rejection, depression, not knowing oneself, being different, lost, the freak. It resonates deep within Jimin, leaves him shaken, and he gets to his feet, paces around the room. Yoongi raps about therapy, about letting go of his past, fighting, looking forward to a better future, and Jimin can’t stand still.

Loneliness, darkness, so much fury and so much pain poured into these lines, all wrapped up in such strength and determination-

Jimin stops at the open window, glaring at Yoongi’s apartment across the street. His hands grip the window edge as he fights against the urge to shout. The TV is on in Yoongi’s living room, but he can’t tell if Yoongi’s there or not; he’d like to see him - why? - he’d like to know if Yoongi’s okay - this was years ago - he just wants-

Yoongi stands up, off the couch. He’s in a plain t-shirt again, grey sweats, and he looks good, and his tattoos seem normal, and Jimin can’t breathe…

He just wants to make sure Yoongi’s okay.

Yoongi glances in his direction, and stops when he sees Jimin at the window, in what light the street lamps provide. Jimin doesn’t move, can’t move, and it must be strange because Yoongi opens his own window.

“Yah, Jimin-ah,” he says, gaze fixed on him. It’s dead quiet this late at night, and Yoongi’s voice easily carries. “You OK?”

“Yes,” Jimin whispers, but then clears his throat, raises his voice. “Yes.” Off-kilter and overwhelmed and needing to hug Yoongi, but not bad. “You?”

“Uh, yeah,” Yoongi replies, obviously not understanding a thing. He gestures to the TV behind him. “My show’s about to start.”

The wedding dress show. Jimin smiles, wide and relieved; why relieved he has no idea, but Yoongi is there and he’s mind-blowing and talented and been through so much and he’s there…

“Let me know if it’s another heart shaped neckline,” Jimin says.

Yoongi nods. “If you hear me screaming in about an hour, that’ll be it.”

Jimin laughs, watches as Yoongi closes his window and crosses the apartment to the kitchen, taking something from the fridge before he returns and plops onto his couch again.

It’s strange.

And new.

And a little frightening.

 


 

During the week Jimin receives a special order: 124 corsages for a formal event on Friday. The woman who orders them has been to his shop before - he remembers her soft-spoken manner - and she’s gracious enough to leave the flower choice to him, as long as he follows the white and orange color theme. Jimin consults with his plants, and agrees to it.

It’s good money. He needs it.

So Jimin spends most of his free time on Thursday putting the corsages together - pristine white jasmine flowers with small orange roses, not yet fully blossomed, woven together with white lacy ribbon and fitted to an elastic band. He wears two corsages on one wrist and one on the other, testing their durability while he continues work and serves his customers in between.

Taehyung stops by before closing time. He offers to help, but ends up making exactly one corsage before he decides it’s more fun to see how many clipped orange roses he can tuck into Jimin’s hair before Jimin snaps at him. (Eight, the answer is eight roses, which Jimin has to shake out of his hair when an elderly man walks in.)

Jungkook then comes to pick Taehyung up for their date, and ends up making a perfect corsage on his first try, after Jimin’s only spent 45 seconds explaining how to do it. Jimin’s both impressed and half on his way to smack the shit-eating grin off Jungkook’s face.

They are kind enough to take the two batches of clear plastic corsage boxes Jimin’s already put together up to his fridge, and they tell him they’ll come back later to help more, if he’s still at it.

At 6 p.m. Jimin turns over the OPEN sign on his shop door and brings in the flowers from the stand out front, but stays inside, quiet music playing from the speaker his phone’s docked into.

He’s at number 53 when he realizes it’s too dark to continue without turning on the lights, and he takes a short break to flex his fingers. To stretch his whole body because he’s been slumped on the stool for hours now.

The plants appreciate his company, exchange thoughts and feelings (and gossip) among themselves, and with Jimin, and overall, he’s having a nice time. He keeps a close eye on the jasmine and the orange rose bush, careful that they don’t overstrain themselves producing so many flowers, but this is something he’s spent most of his life doing. Being with his plants. Talking to them instead of people.

At corsage number 59 the door opens, and Jimin says, “Hey, guys,” without looking up from arranging lace around flowers bound together. “You’re just in time to-” he cuts himself off when he lifts his gaze and sees that Jungkook and Taehyung didn’t return from their date.

It’s Yoongi, standing in his shop.

“Oh,” Jimin says, suddenly sounding like he’s out of breath. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Yoongi replies.

He’s just inside the door, black hoodie and black ripped jeans - wow, those are tight - and black snapback on. Unreadable. Interested, maybe, as he takes another step forward and slowly looks around. Takes in the countless pots and plants, vivid in color and unpredictable in pattern, some hanging off the ceiling in long green vines. All of them turning their flowers towards Yoongi, even though Jimin’s told them a long time ago they always have to play it cool.

But Jimin himself isn’t cool; his heart beats in his throat, and he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Doesn’t know why he’s feeling like this.

It’s just his shop. His workplace. So what if Yoongi’s here? For the first time. Unannounced. Unexpected.

Jimin picks at the ribbon of his latest corsage when Yoongi stops in the middle and frowns.

“Why do I have the feeling that I’m being watched?” he asks slowly.

Jimin smiles. “You are. Not with eyes, obviously, but. They’re curious about you.”

They sense Pip on him, how the baby plant is happy with Yoongi, and they approve; they also sense that Jimin’s feeling weird - that strange, not unpleasant weird, and they don’t understand.

“Um.” There’s a flash of awkwardness in Yoongi’s eyes, like he’s not sure why he’s here, either. A tension in his posture, his hands hidden in the pockets of his hoodie. It makes Jimin relax, paradoxically, and his smile widens.

“Never been to a flower shop before?” he teases.

“Never to one where the flowers judge me from the moment I walk in.”

Jimin laughs. “Flowers are always judging you, Yoongi-ssi. Just that the florist doesn’t know about it.”

“Hyung,” Yoongi corrects him.

“H-” Jimin hesitates, meets Yoongi’s eyes, shielded by the cap. Then he repeats, softly, “Hyung.”

It feels important, for some reason. A new milestone in their relationship.

But Yoongi seems unbothered as he comes closer, looking over Jimin’s countertop. It’s littered with orange and white petals, thin wire, dark green tape, scissors, discarded leaves, thorns and stems, a precariously high stack of clear boxes on one side, only partially filled.

“Corsages,” Jimin says, brandishing his wrists with three corsages on them, still holding up well despite being there for most of the day. “I have to make 124 by tomorrow afternoon, so.” He grabs another stool like his own from behind the counter and walks around, sets it down in front of Yoongi. “Here.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi says as Jimin goes back to his seat. He sounds like he hasn’t yet decided if he’s staying, unsure for a moment. But then he sits down, and doesn’t say more.

Jimin continues with his work. His alternatives are simply staring at Yoongi, or asking him why he’s here, which, Jimin concludes, doesn’t really matter in the end. He’d like to know, but Yoongi will eventually say it. Probably. 

And Jimin’s perfectly content putting together the flowers, wrapping them with tape, delicately folding the ribbon around them, all to the sound of gentle music, instrumental melodies that his flowers enjoy.

It’s different; a good, warm kind of different. This time around, it’s not Jimin coming into Yoongi’s shop.

This time around, it’s peaceful and unhurried and inexplicably comfortable. Yoongi watches how the corsages are arranged with a lazy sort of interest. He makes some space on the counter to rest his elbow on it, and his head in his hand.

His other hand finds its way into the mess of flowers, and he picks out a short wire, slowly bending it this way and that as Jimin packs even more corsages into boxes.

The flowers mellow out around them, accepting this new quiet company, and Jimin works efficiently, only casting an occasional glance at Yoongi; thinking how good it is to have him here. To share this with him, however ordinary or dull it may be.

When he wants to take another break, Jimin plucks the wire out of Yoongi’s hand without a word. He shows Yoongi how to insert it into the flower stems, securing them, and then how to position them in the corsage; how to wrap the dark green tape around them and tighten the knot. He does it slowly under Yoongi’s gaze, deftly, and then gives him flowers to do it himself.

Yoongi readily accepts the challenge. His hands are larger than Jimin’s, pale as the rest of him, with prominent knuckles and bluish veins and somehow... attractive. Jimin can’t tear his gaze away as the sleeves of Yoongi’s hoodie ride up a little while he works, the black ink breathing around his slender wrists.

Yoongi fumbles, drops a jasmine flower and curses, eliciting Jimin's laugh.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Yoongi mutters, picking up the fallen flower to try again.

“Jungkookie did it-”

“Yah, he probably made ten corsages in ten minutes or some shit like that.”

“Gently,” Jimin says, laughing more. He takes the white lacy ribbon and carefully tucks it around the skewed arrangement Yoongi is holding. Their fingers brush once, and again - Yoongi’s hands are cold, too cold for summer. Jimin does his best to focus, to not pay attention to the growing heat in his ears, or how Yoongi’s tattoos stir, brimming over his wrists.

“There,” Jimin says in the end.

He hurries to provide more tape for Yoongi to tie everything one last time, and then sits back.

Breathes. Wills his heartbeat to even out.

“Huh.” Yoongi regards his work once he’s finished. “Not as ugly as I’d expected it to be.”

Jimin hums. “Not ugly at all,” he says, looking at Yoongi’s satisfied little smirk.

Then, in a daring feat, Jimin fishes out a pin, takes Yoongi’s corsage from him and, instead of fastening it to an elastic band, he pins it to the side of Yoongi’s snapback, only giggling at Yoongi’s surprised squawk and weak protests.

“Black is getting a little boring, hyung,” he says, grinning.

Yoongi takes off the hat, his dark hair all fluffed up, and glares at the splash of orange and white.

“So you don’t look like the Grim Reaper 24/7,” Jimin explains. “This is more like… The Grim Reaper: Summer Edition.”

Yoongi snorts and puts the hat back on, shoves it low over his eyes and doesn’t reply. His smile is there though, small but persistent, making Jimin happy.

The silence between them resumes when Jimin starts on the next corsage, but he’s aware of Yoongi’s eyes on him, of that smile… The music has changed from instrumental to a playlist of slow ballads, melancholic tunes that linger in the air, somber and deep.

“You dance,” Yoongi says then, out of the blue.

Jimin pauses, surprised. “Yeah,” he says, snipping the ends of green tape with scissors. “I dance.” He wants to ask how Yoongi knows this, who told him-

“You dance in your apartment, when you’re making food,” Yoongi says. “And you sing sometimes, too, when the music’s loud.”

Jimin lets out a noise of embarrassment and ducks his head, blushing furiously.

Fuck, he does do that. Not too often, but he plays music when he’s preparing food that’s simple enough for his pitiful cooking skills, or when he’s waiting for instant noodles in the microwave. He blasts music through his portable speakers and improvises choreo to the beat. Usually pop and lock.

Except that one time he pretended he was at an audition like in Flashdance, using his countertops as a poor replacement for judges’ table, fuckfuck, how the hell didn’t he check if Yoongi was home before that!

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Jimin mumbles through the hand covering his face. If the ground could just open up and swallow him whole right now, that'd be great. 

It’s not helping that half of his plants are howling with laughter in Jimin’s mind right now, either. Dicks.

“I’m not,” Yoongi says, amusement in his voice. “You’re not bad. Considering that you’re dancing in a tiny kitchen, holding spoons and all. And you have…” he searches, “a nice voice.”

The next sound out of Jimin’s mouth is one of choking, and he stutters out a weak, “T-thanks,” still keeping his head down when he picks up the scissors again. He’s donating his speakers to Jungkook’s junkyard first chance he gets.

Yoongi lets him stew in his own embarrassment for only a short while more before he asks, “How long have you been dancing?”

“Since I was… Hm. Eight, maybe? Nine?” Jimin guesses. “In early elementary, when it became obvious that… That other kids weren’t exactly fighting over being friends with me. My parents thought it would be good to do some sports. Have teammates to bond with or something. They wanted me to have a normal life, like everybody else. Not miss out on anything.

“My mom had a friend who danced, and she took me to see some of her performances, and I think that’s why I chose that in the end. I liked it. I still do, obviously.” Jimin smiles at the last knot in his ribbon, and moves to attach the elastic band. “Didn’t help much with integrating me into society, though. The kids in dance class were fine during dance practice, but we weren’t that close outside of it.”

He packs the corsage into a box and decides that it’s enough for today. 78; more than half. He’ll do the rest tomorrow. “I was alone a lot,” he finishes.

It still stings, but only a bit. Here, now - in this life and this street and with these people - it’s hard to dwell on the past.

“Yeah.” Yoongi says. “Me, too.”

The quiet reply reminds Jimin of Yoongi’s music; of his story. How it wasn’t the same for them at all. How Yoongi had it much worse, much more painful, and how Jimin was actually stupidly lucky in comparison.

“I found your mixtape,” Jimin says, before he can stop himself.

Yoongi raises his head to look at him, dark eyes surprised under the snapback. “Yeah?” Wary, like he’s not sure what Jimin took away from that.

“Yeah.” Jimin smiles. “Taehyung gave me your pseudonyms.” He’s not going to mention the content of the songs. Not going to poke and prod at Yoongi’s past, at his sore spots, and make it seem like he’s feeling sorry for him. Yoongi probably had enough of that for a lifetime. Instead, Jimin tells him what he thinks of the music itself. Of the lyrics and their impact and compelling delivery. “It's… actually amazing. I couldn’t sleep from how much it..." He makes a big gesture, depicting his large, sweeping emotions. "It was pretty powerful.”

And then it happens. Slowly, like the rising sun, Yoongi smiles wide. That precious, genuine, gummy smile lights up his face and his eyes pinch shut and Jimin’s mind goes blank.

Immediately, Yoongi averts his gaze down to orange and white petals on the counter, like he’s trying to hide it, or play it off, but he’s still smiling (still smiling!) when he says, “I’m glad you liked it.”

Jimin’s chest is too tight for his heart. For his lungs. He wants to snap a pic of that smile and set it as his lock screen. He wants to say more nice things, hundreds of them, just so that Yoongi keeps smiling.

But then the door of the flower shop bursts open, the nearest flowers swaying with the force of it, and Taehyung announces,

“You will not believe the size of the lizard we just saw!”

“Yoongi-hyung!” Standing behind Taehyung, Jungkook grins and then shoves his boyfriend forward into the shop, pulling him back by the shirt so that Taehyung doesn’t nosedive into Yoongi. “You helping with the corsages, too?”

Then it’s a humdrum of voices, a sudden flare of activity in the shop; Yoongi telling Jungkook he’s helping by doing nothing, Taehyung talking about this lizard the size of a labrador apparently, Jungkook piling boxes into his arms to carry them to Jimin’s apartment, Yoongi getting to his feet, accidentally knocking Taehyung into the boxes, Jimin letting out a screech as he stops them from falling - only some empty ones topple over, thankfully -

The plants are in a commotion themselves, alerted by all the people and the noise so late in the day; Jimin reassures them that everything is fine, giving Taehyung keys to his apartment again-

Yoongi gets roped into carrying the boxes as well and reluctantly trudges up behind Taehyung, muttering how the lizard can’t have been a lizard because lizards that big don’t exist in Korea. But Taehyung is 100% sure of what he saw, tell them Kookie, only Jungkook isn’t paying attention. Instead he zones in on Yoongi’s ass in front of him and easily slaps it, making Yoongi stumble and almost break his neck on the stairs. A few of his boxes bounce off Taehyung’s back and the group nearly steps on them.

“One more irresponsible behavior around the boxes and someone’s gonna die,” Jimin declares from the back, carrying his own load behind Jungkook.

“Aw, that’s okay, hyung, I’ll make you new ones,” Jungkook says, and then it’s Jimin’s turn to slap his ass.

They somehow make it to the top, and stack the boxes into Jimin’s fridge - lucky it’s mostly empty anyway - and then Taehyung and Jimin vote for Jungkook to go to the store to get beer for all of them.

But Yoongi declines, and, with Taehyung and Jungkook arguing over the (un)fairness of the vote in the background - because Jungkook went last time and now it’s actually Jimin’s turn - Jimin walks Yoongi to the door.

“Thank you, hyung,” he says in the hallway, closing the door and muffling the voices from inside. He smiles. “For... the visit. And for bringing some of the boxes upstairs.”

He still doesn’t know the actual reason why Yoongi came to see him. If there was any at all. But Jimin doesn’t mind even if Yoongi was just there to… hang out, or whatever. Doesn't mind at all.

Yoongi nods, but is looking down at his shoes, being adorably awkward again. “And thank you, for the, uh...” He gestures to the decoration on his snapback. “Touch of summer.”

Jimin laughs. “You’re welcome. Goodnight, hyung.”

“‘Night, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin gives a little wave to Yoongi, feeling light and smiley. He walks back in, inhales deeply and savors this pleasant buzz in his chest, before he sees that Taehyung and Jungkook are now locked in a fierce best-of-eleven rock paper scissors battle.

Jimin just shakes his head, collects his apartment keys from where Taehyung left them on the coffee table, and steps out to buy beer.

 


 

The next morning, there’s a new message on Yoongi’s window. It takes a few long seconds for Jimin to make sense of the numbers on the paper, but then he recognizes that it’s a phone number.

Yoongi’s phone number.

Grinning, Jimin adds it to his contacts, and immediately shoots him a text.

Jimin
movie night next weekend? *-*
what do you want to watch?
it's Jimin btw

He gets a reply about five hours later, when he’s deep into his work shift and even more corsages.

Yoongi-hyung
fine
anything’s fine
just don’t let Tae pick the movie

 


Taehyung, of course, ends up picking the movie.

 

Chapter Text

It starts with Namjoon answering Jungkook’s door and Yoongi shoving a six-pack of beer in his chest.

“There’s no way I’m getting through this sober,” Yoongi mutters. Namjoon accepts the beer and laughs.

“We’re happy to see you too, hyung,” he says, stepping aside and letting Yoongi in.

“Yoongi-hyung!” Jungkook beams from the kitchen. He’s powering up the microwave again, for the popcorn. “You even dressed up!” His dark eyes gleam with mischief as he gestures to Yoongi’s standard black-hoodie-black-jeans ensemble. “Love the black on black. Very fashion forward.”

“Hyung is positively radiant,” Taehyung agrees, checking him out, and snickers when Yoongi turns on his heel.

“Changed my mind,” he says, going for the door again. “Not worth it. See you brats never.”

But Namjoon doesn’t move out of Yoongi’s way; he gently turns him around with a hand on his shoulder and directs him to the sofa, where Jimin is sitting, enjoying the scene way too much.

“No, no, we actually very glad you came, hyung,” Namjoon says, lightly shoving Yoongi so that he drops into the cushion next to Jimin. “It’ll be fun.”

He then walks off to join Jungkook and Taehyung in the kitchen, to put the beer in the fridge, and Yoongi mumbles just loud enough for Jimin to hear under the corn popping sounds,

“This is all your fault, you know.”

Jimin hums, unperturbed. “Making you socialize with the people who love and care about you? I should hope so.” He doesn’t feel even remotely guilty; Yoongi’s not the type of person to get talked into doing something he doesn’t want to do.

Which is obvious in the way Yoongi glares at him, but is biting the inside of his cheek to suppress a smile. Instead, Jimin smiles wide for the both of them, aiming for innocence.

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “Why am I even talking to you, you put chili paste on everything.”

It’s a reference to the last text message Jimin sent to Yoongi:

red chili paste is a gift from god

Which is supposed to be an answer to Yoongi’s message, declaring:

coffee is my life nectar

Jimin doesn’t like coffee and Yoongi doesn’t understand chili paste, which is, according to him, nothing but red-colored goo designed to make your ass explode.

With having each other’s phone numbers they have switched from handwritten correspondence to a more environmentally-friendly one. The texts are just as trivial, just as insignificant as their earlier messaging had been - trinkets from their daily lives they continued sharing for some reason, like shots of instant laughter whenever Jimin checks his phone.

hyung, I did a perfect split at practice today!

good job

 

went for a walk
saw the sunrise  

take a pic next time! wanna see too!

 

mayo

ketchup

mayo

ketchup

mayo

ketchup

mustard?

ew

yeah, ew

 

[image attached]

thanks for the sunrise pic, hyung <3
it’s really beautiful

 

face mask yes or no

is that a serious question
...yes

 

go to sleep hyung

 

how many cups of coffee today?

five okay I don’t need you to judge me park jimin

 

I like that song

 

that’s disgusting

excuse me, you don’t see me judging your dinner choices

there’s nothing wrong with my dinner choices

a jumbo pack of sour cream potato chips is not a good dinner choice

neither are instant noodles packed with chili paste

Jimin likes it; likes Yoongi. A lot. He’s been looking forward to this movie night, to seeing Yoongi again without a street between them. To having him… close.

“Okay, so!” Taehyung claps his hands, strolling back to the living room and taking the armchair. “It’s about this man who owns a shop, right?” he says, excited. “Like a regular, small convenience store. And he’s perfectly happy, he’s got his business and his family, but then this accident happens!” He spreads his arms wide, mimicking the Drama of the Accident. “And his daughter dies! And he loses his memory!”

“Oh good,” Yoongi says. “Nothing like a little amnesia to liven up my Saturday night.”

Jimin snorts and lightly hits him on the arm before he turns to Taehyung. “Question: why do we always have to watch things where someone loses their memory?”

“Because it’s that much more rewarding when those memories get back!” Taehyung says.

“But you always cry when that happens,” Jimin says.

“You mean, he cries for the whole movie,” Jungkook corrects him from the kitchen. He’s putting another bag of popcorn into the microwave while Namjoon empties the fresh, steaming one into a bowl. The mouthwatering, buttery aroma wafts through the apartment.

“You cry, too!” Taehyung tells Jungkook.

“Only one time!”

“Two times,” Jimin says. “At least two times that I know of. The one when the little girl couldn’t remember her parents anymore, and… The Return of the King?  Or was it The Two Towers?

Return of the King,” Taehyung says. “When the giant CGI elephant got killed.”

“Oh, right.”

“And let’s not forget the Great Finding Nemo Weep,” Namjoon contributes to the conversation, helping himself with a handful of popcorn. “We couldn’t get Kook to stop sobbing 10 minutes into the movie.”

“That doesn’t count! I was drunk,” Jungkook defends himself, a small pout to his lips from being attacked like this. “And he lost his whole family except for that one fish egg! It was just. A lot to take in.”

“Which is why we should never let him watch Up,” Jimin says, and Taehyung nods in agreement.

Next to Jimin, Yoongi heaves a long, tired sigh and slides further down the sofa, propping his feet on the coffee table. “Wake me up when this particular line of discussion dies.”

Jimin laughs, nudging him with a shoulder. “Come on, hyung. You came. You could participate a little.”

“Yeah, hyung, tell them about the time you cried,” Namjoon says from the kitchen, grinning wolfishly, “when we watched John Wick.

“Okay, first of all, didn’t cry,” Yoongi says, mortally offended. “I got something in my eye, it was dusty in your apartment, Joon-ah, you could totally clean once in a while. And second of all, they killed the dog. You can’t tell me you didn’t get at least a little choked up. No wonder the guy went on a murder rampage. I would’ve done the same.”

“Awww, Yoongi-hyung, ready to blow heads off for a puppy,” Jimin coos.

“Yeah, Yoongi-hyung so soft,” Taehyung joins in, and Yoongi just scoffs at them.

The microwave pings again and Jungkook and Namjoon bring over the popcorn, beer and sodas for everyone. Namjoon sits on the sofa, sandwiching Yoongi between him and Jimin, and Taehyung stands up to let his boyfriend into the armchair, and then makes himself comfortable on Jungkook’s lap.

“Right. Everyone good?” Jungkook asks, one arm around Taehyung’s waist and the other reaching for the wall to turn the lights off.

“Yes, please go to the bathroom now if you have to, we’re not taking twelve breaks like last time,” Jimin says.

“But what if we get hungry?” Taehyung asks.

“You have popcorn.”

“Last time we ordered pizza!”

“We can order pizza after the movie,” Namjoon says.

Taehyung and Jungkook share a look, and Jungkook says, “So just drinks and popcorn for the next, what, two hours? That’s it?”

Yoongi turns to Jimin. “I’m going to start screaming in exactly five seconds,” he whispers loud enough for everyone to hear.

Jimin can’t hold back a peal of laughter, but then he's already calming the situation. “No, okay, hold on.” On reflex, his hand rests on Yoongi’s thigh as he says to Jungkook and Taehyung, “We’ll take one break near the end of the movie, make more popcorn if we have to, and order food. It’ll arrive right when we finish watching. How does that sound?”

The two look at each other again, contemplate, and then eventually nod. “Acceptable,” Taehyung says, snuggling closer into Jungkook, who finally starts the movie, and everyone falls silent.

Jimin doesn’t realize that his hand is still on Yoongi’s thigh until a few minutes in. His fingers graze denim and he freezes, suddenly very aware of the shape under his palm. Rounded. Firm.

It’s hot in Jungkook’s living room, they must’ve forgotten to open the windows again.

Jimin tries to be as casual as he can when he withdraws his hand and flashes an apologetic smile at Yoongi, but Yoongi doesn’t even glance at him. He seems not to have noticed the touch, or the absence of it.

It takes Jimin a bit longer to focus back on the plot after that.

 


 

“10 000 won says he doesn’t get his memories back by the end,” Yoongi mutters, roughly an hour and a half into the movie.

They’ve had their one break, made more popcorn and ordered McDonald’s, and are now in various states of chill.

Taehyung and Jungkook are tangled up in the armchair, unclear where one ends and the other begins, mindlessly shoving popcorn into their mouths. On the sofa, a second bowl of popcorn is in Yoongi’s lap, which Namjoon, Jimin and him are sharing. Namjoon is all long legs under the coffee table and sleepy eyes on the TV, Jimin is perched with his legs folded under him, interested to see how the story plays out. Yoongi is just bored, it sounds like.

“No way. He has to,” Jimin replies, not taking his eyes off a dramatic, emotional scene where the main character visits his daughter’s grave.

“He has to get his memories back in order to fully grieve the loss of his family, and to properly move on,” Namjoon reasons, blindly reaching for the popcorn.

“If he doesn’t get his memories back, he’ll be happier,” Yoongi says. “He doesn’t remember them, so it doesn’t hurt that they’re no longer with him.”

The character’s fingers trace his daughter’s name on the tombstone, and a small sob comes from the armchair. Jimin looks over at how Taehyung’s head is buried in Jungkook’s neck, and Jungkook is gently patting his back.

“Yeah, but doesn’t the happiness he shared with them outweigh the pain?” Namjoon asks. “He will lose a lifetime of experience, literally a part of himself, forever, if he doesn’t remember.”

No one replies, absorbed in how the character breaks down in the middle of the cemetery.

“20 000 won,” Yoongi says again, and Jimin shushes him.

But then, “20 000 won,” Taehyung says thickly from Jungkook’s embrace, “that he will get his memories back.”

Yoongi smirks. “Deal.”

Food arrives just before the end of the movie, and no one moves to get it except for Jimin. He’s too busy looking for money and opening the door and thanking the delivery boy to see what happens before the credits roll; when he turns back with huge bags of McDonald’s in each hand, Taehyung is accepting 20 000 won from a disgruntled Yoongi.

“...this injustice,” Yoongi is saying. Taehyung’s handsome face glistens with tears; he’s still sniffling, but there’s a smirk on his lips as he puts his wallet away. Yoongi continues, “I can’t believe the disrespect, to your hyung of all people, who took care of you, fed you, raised you-

“-I was already in uni when we met,” Taehyung says, but Yoongi talks over him,

“Is this what the world has come down to, that you come into my house-”

“-we’re at Jungkook’s-” Namjoon points out helpfully.

“-and spread such deceit, such treachery!”

Jimin sets the food down on the coffee table, and Yoongi goes quiet. Everyone looks at the paper bags, and then up at Jimin, who quirks an eyebrow.

Taehyung grins. “I might’ve, potentially,” he says, using his sleeve to wipe at his cheeks, “neglected to say that I’ve already seen this movie.”

“If I knew there was going to be backstabbing, I would’ve worn a different hoodie,” Yoongi mumbles, but when Jimin smiles, he’s also smiling a little, and Jungkook reaches for the food first.

They settle around the coffee table, Jimin and Taehyung now on the floor so that everyone has more room. At first they each take what they ordered; too many burgers to count, an obscene amount of fries, no less than eight different drinks and an additional three chocolate milkshakes. But quickly the meal devolves into stealing fries, smacking hands away and sharing bites of burgers between all of them.

Jungkook doesn’t like pickles so he gives them to Jimin; Yoongi pretends to selfishly guard his food, but doesn’t bat an eye when Jimin or Jungkook snatch fries from his box; Namjoon makes saber-teeth with two long fries under his upper lip and sends the younger ones into a laughing fit. Taehyung and Jungkook quickly imitate him, and Jimin, of course, snaps a pic of the three aspiring prehistoric cats. Namjoon has trouble explaining that not all of the sabertooth cats were actually cats over his fake teeth.

After midnight, Jimin, Yoongi and Namjoon file out of Jungkook’s apartment, slow and stuffed and smiling. Even Yoongi, for all his grumpiness, has been smiling for most of the evening, something Jimin had a hard time looking away from.

In the fresh night air Namjoon waves goodbye to them, and Jimin and Yoongi continue down the alley in comfortable silence.

Jimin avoids stepping on the cracks in the pavement, doing a slow twirl at one point, and getting a little dizzy from the beer he’s had after everything. He laughs, lightheaded, pauses so that the buildings stop tilting.

“It was good today, wasn’t it hyung?” he asks.

Yoongi hums. He’s stopped as well, and is looking at Jimin; smiling still, softly. Jimin thinks, how beautiful...

“Yeah, it was good,” Yoongi says.

“You’re glad you came,” Jimin says, his own smile dipping into a smirk. It wasn’t a question.

“I guess it wasn’t the worst thing in the world,” Yoongi concedes. He holds Jimin’s gaze, obviously knowing full well where this is leading to, expecting it.

“And I was right for convincing you to come,” Jimin says slyly.

“And… you weren’t wrong for convincing me to come.”

“In fact, I’m really cool for convincing you to come, because you had a good time, and you were happy to be with your friends again, and they were happy to be with you, too.”

“Yah, don’t push it. I was cheated out of 20 000 won tonight.”

Jimin laughs, still feeling giddy, even though the street stopped swaying around him. “I don’t know what you expected, making bets with Taehyung.”

“Clearly, I’m an idiot. I forgot to reread my instruction manual on how to socialize with that bunch.”

“Then I’ll make sure to refresh your memory,” Jimin says, walking the few more steps to his building. He doesn’t want to go up, not really, but he doesn’t want to keep Yoongi; he wants… He doesn’t know what he wants. “Same time next week?”

“Sure.” Yoongi shrugs. “Goodnight, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin waves and lingers, watches as Yoongi opens the entrance door beside his tattoo shop, and disappears into the dim light of the staircase.

Next time. Next week.

That, he definitely wants.

 


 

 never challenge jungkook to anything, ever

 

or show pictures of dogs to taehyung
or cats
or any kind of animal really
or lizards
or pretty fish

 

tae says to remember not to bring up politics with namjoon-hyung

it defeats the purpose if you have to ask them personally for tips

I still don’t know much about namjoon-hyung okay!
I really talked to him like, two or three times

wow so when you moved here you only saw it fit to break into *my* shop I’m flattered

the door
was
open
we talked about this hyung

you wanted to see the tattoos

I wanted to see the tattoos
I like the tattoos

so no politics with namjoon, yeah, I still remember that

 

oh and no heavy perfumes around jungkookie
you know he has that weird smell thing

where nothing ever smells as good as his boyfriend
yeah I remember that
gross

cute

gross

cute

gross

cute

 


 

During the second movie night, Yoongi falls asleep in Jungkook’s armchair.

It’s a war movie, with loud explosions and staccato gunfire and people screaming left and right, Jungkook’s sound system making it seem like the living room is right on the battlefield.

But somewhere in the middle of it, Jimin sneaks a glance at where Yoongi’s sitting by himself, and promptly forgets all about the movie.

Yoongi has curled up on his side, knees to chest and hands between his legs; he’s sleeping, oblivious to the bloodbath on the screen. Strands of dark hair fall over his eyes, his pink lips slightly parted, and he looks small somehow.

Small, and peaceful and almost… fragile. Opposite of his usual presence, harsh, bristly, so much bigger than his frame.

Taehyung presses a handful of popcorn into Jimin’s lips and he’s forced to open his mouth to be fed, looking away.

Jimin turns back to the movie, but can’t help the occasional glimpse at Yoongi. Can’t help thinking about brushing Yoongi’s hair away from his soft face; about whispering dumb things to him, things that never occurred to him before. About just watching him sleep; Jimin’s heart is clenched in his chest, his fingers tingle, and he tries to follow the story again.

Yoongi doesn’t wake up when the movie ends and the lights come on, not even when their food arrives and Taehyung panics because one of the boxes is leaking delicious sauce. He and Jungkook and Namjoon cram into the kitchen to deal with the mess and pick out what they want, and it’s only when the argument about who ordered egg-fried rice and why there are only four containers of it reaches an unsettlingly high volume does Yoongi finally open his eyes.

He blinks slowly to focus; his gaze lands on Jimin on the sofa, nearest to him.

Jimin smiles. “‘Morning, hyung,” he says, more gently than he intended to.

Yoongi scrunches his nose and stretches like a cat. He takes a moment to orient himself, and then sits up, hair all tousled.

“Food?” he asks in a scratchy voice, deeper than normal, and Jimin’s smile widens. Cute, cute, so cute…

“They’re gonna take everything but the spring rolls,” he says, motioning towards the kitchen. Taehyung is stacking six boxes onto a tray for himself, and Jungkook seems to be hoarding eight of them.

Yoongi grunts, eyes still heavy with sleep. “You forgot to mention that in your reminders,” he says. “If you don’t move fast, you don’t eat.

Jimin laughs and gets up, loosely grabbing Yoongi by the wrist and tugging him towards the kitchen, so they can negotiate with Namjoon over what’s left.

 


 

gross

cute

gross

cute

gross

 

white chocolate or dark chocolate

context?

watching a baking show

lmao hyung
depends on the situation I guess
white chocolate and strawberries? dark chocolate and strawberries? both.
white chocolate as a bar? too sweet usually
white chocolate chips and coconut ice cream? wow yes
dark chocolate muffins? dark chocolate banana muffins?
...what was the question again?

 


 

Thursday is a particularly hot, sticky day. Jimin had spent an extra hour after closing time sweating through his clothes, making sure that all the plants were properly hydrated and hadn’t suffered from direct sunlight. He’d taken no less than two showers after that and is now sitting on the floor of Jungkook’s repair shop, pressing a cold water bottle to his neck. He wonders if Jungkook’s powers can magically transform the pitiful fan in the corner into an AC.

Probably not. 

Jungkook is playing some kind of a first-person shooter game at his rickety, cluttered desk, again doing that thing where he’s not moving, just hypnotizing the machine into doing what he wants.

Beside Jimin, Taehyung - with a bandana around his head to lift his red hair out of his face - has somehow gotten a hold of ice chips and has a full plastic cup of them, crunching them between his teeth.

“What are we gonna watch on Saturday?” he asks.

Ice Age,” Jimin says. “The Day After Tomorrow. Frozen. That one where Liam Neeson fights wolves in the snow.”

“What if,” Taehyung muses, “instead of watching a movie we just… do nothing? Sit and do nothing, somewhere with an AC. Doesn’t Namjoon-hyung have one?”

“Uh-huh,” Jungkook replies distractedly, his character in the middle of an intense shootout.

“Being cool. Figuratively and literally. That sounds awesome,” Taehyung says.

“Yup,” Jimin agrees. He opens his bottle of water, takes a long, chilled sip, and then returns it to the other side of his neck. A droplet of sweat trickles down his temple; he can’t wait for the summer to be over.

“Maybe we should let Yoongi-hyung pick the movie now?” Taehyung suggests, circling back to his first topic.

“Has he ever picked the movie?” Jimin feels like he already knows the answer.

“No, now that I think about it… He hasn’t? He always just sort of… went with whatever we wanted.”

Because he’s actually a soft marshmallow hiding under all that ink and black and perpetual bitch face. Jimin has no idea where the word marshmallow came from, but his brain supplied it and now it’s there. It fits.

“You guys talk a lot,” Taehyung says then, looking at Jimin as the bites down on an ice chip. In the background Jungkook curses loudly at the screen, his winning streak apparently broken.

“Hm, yeah, I guess,” Jimin says. “I see him every day, from my apartment, so. We text.” Never about anything too long or too deep, just enough for Jimin to feel kind of… excited, whenever he opens a message from Yoongi.

“Uh-huh.” There’s an intensity in Taehyung’s gaze, though he seems relaxed, leaned back on his hands, his cup of ice next to him. “You like him.”

“I-” Jimin stops, considers. Of course he likes Yoongi. Yoongi is cool. And brilliant, and sarcastic, and pretty, and caring and- “I do,” he says. “He’s… nice.”

A smile tugs at the corners of his lips and Jimin looks away, at how Jungkook is frowning at the game, muttering under his breath.

He thinks about how Yoongi looks as he stumbles about his apartment half-asleep on the weekends; how he waters Pip, and pets him, and talks to him; how Jimin comes home from practice and sees Yoongi having chips and energy drinks for dinner and texts him, how are you even alive. How he laughs when Yoongi takes one look at his phone and raises a middle finger in the direction of Jimin’s windows.

“Nice,” Taehyung echoes. “Yeah, Yoongi-hyung really is nice,” he says, and then sits up. “Look, Jiminie, I don’t know… I mean, I’m not really sure if I should be saying this, or if it’s the right time or whatever, but maybe you should know that-”

But Jimin never hears what he should maybe know.

“FUCKING-” Jungkook cuts Taehyung off, slamming his mouse on the mousepad.

A loud CRACK! rips through the air, followed by a fzzzzt! and a yelp; the fan stops whirring in the background, like it was suddenly unplugged, and Jungkook’s computer shuts off.

In the subdued late afternoon sunlight Jungkook sits ramrod straight in his office chair, eyes on the black screen in front of him. His back is turned to Jimin and Taehyung, who has gone very still, tense, and Jimin feels something cold and dreadful sneaking up his spine-

“Kookie?” he asks, worried. No clue what just happened, only that some electronics apparently short-circuited. He sets his water bottle down to come closer, but Taehyung stops him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t touch him,” he whispers, a note of what can only be fear in his voice. Jimin halts, doesn’t move.

Wrong, something is very wrong, what is-

Taehyung swallows before he speaks again, at a normal volume; almost, almost sounding as he always does, “Jungkookie? Babe? Everything okay?”

Jungkook doesn’t answer. He keeps staring at the monitor in that strange, rigid way, hands still on the keyboard and mouse. There’s something so off about it, so sinister; the hairs on the back of Jimin’s neck stand up.

“Jungkook?” Taehyung tries again, louder. His fingers tighten around Jimin’s shoulder, like Taehyung needs something to hold on to, to ground him. Jimin doesn’t breathe. “Jimin, I think you should go get-”

But then Jungkook stirrs, slowly turns around. He blinks, his doe eyes searching, like he’s lost, disoriented. He glances down at the wireless mouse in his hand, and Jimin clearly sees a deformed spot on it, like the plastic had been melted. Then Jungkook looks up, at the two of them staring at him.

“Tae…” he says in a small, uncertain voice.

Taehyung lets go of Jimin and closes the distance between him and Jungkook on his knees, doesn’t waste a second in sitting up and wrapping his arms around him, whispering,

“It’s okay, babe, it’s okay…”

“Tae…” Jungkook repeats; the mouse drops to the floor as Jungkook twists his hands in Taehyung’s shirt.

“It’s okay, it was a small thing okay?” Taehyung says, holding Jungkook close, threading fingers through his dark hair. “But Kookie you gotta take a break, yeah? You can’t push yourself this hard, you can’t- You have to be careful…”

“I know, I know,” Jungkook replies weakly. His face is buried in Taehyung’s shoulder as Taehyung gently rocks him, and Jimin averts his gaze, not wanting to infringe on the intimate moment.

His heart is still in his throat, he has no idea what’s going on, but it’s not the right moment to ask. Jimin picks up the cup Taehyung had knocked over, leaving a dark stain of melted ice on the old carpet.

“Chim…” Taehyung gets his attention, motions for him to join them, still cradling Jungkook.

And Jimin immediately comes over and wraps his arms around both of them, pressing his forehead to Jungkook’s shoulder where Jungkook is bent over in the office chair; Jimin embraces them, hard. He doesn’t know anything except that they need his support and comfort for whatever reason, and he’s going to give them all of it. Jungkook sniffs, one hand moving to grip at the front of Jimin’s shirt, and Taehyung holds them both tighter.

They stay like that for a while, sharing the silence, the solace. The love. Jungkook breathes shakily, cries maybe, and Jimin rubs slow circles into his back. Bites his lip not to cry himself.

Then Jungkook’s muffled, thick voice speaks up, “My ass is sweating.”

Taehyung and Jimin laugh, but don’t pull away.

“We’re calling Joon-hyung and having the movie night at his place,” Taehyung says, nipping at Jungkook’s pierced ear.

“Also ice cream,” Jimin adds. “Lots and lots of ice cream.”

Jungkook nods as much as he can, buried in the hug. “Vanilla,” he says. “And hazelnut. And whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.”

“Okay, getting hungry now,” Taehyung says.

Finally Jimin sits back on his heels, but keeps his hands on Jungkook and Taehyung, letting them know he’s not going anywhere.

“You okay?” he asks.

“Yeah.” Jungkook straightens up as well. He’s pale, his eyes a little red, but Jimin doesn’t see any tears. Thankfully. “I’m okay,” he says, looking down, taking in a deep breath. “Sorry, I just. It happens, sometimes.”

Jimin must still look confused, since Taehyung says, “If Jungkook works too much, or for too long without a break… If he’s too emotional or under a lot of stress or… connected to electricity for extended periods of time, then he kind of… loses control.”

“What?”

“Basically, he fries some, or all of the electronics within his reach.”

Jimin stares. What.

“It’s okay, it’s usually not serious-” Jungkook starts timidly, but Jimin cuts him off,

"Usually?! ” he squeaks. “Jungkook.” He has to take one of Jungkook’s hands, to make Jungkook look at him. “What’s…? Are you alright?” He squeezes Jungkook’s fingers, searching for anything that might suggest Jungkook is hurt or unwell, or-

“I’m okay, hyung,” Jungkook says, squeezing Jimin’s hand back. “Really.” There’s a tentative smile on his lips, but the shadows under his eyes are darker than they should be. He’s still grey in the face, and Jimin has this urge to tuck him into bed right now and make sure he sleeps through the night. “I…” Jungkook looks at Taehyung, smiling with more confidence. “I’ll be fine,” he says. “I have you guys." 

“Mhm,” Taehyung murmurs. “But you still need to cut down on work. And video games. You know that. Being wired in for so long is what’s doing this to you.”

Jungkook sighs, slumping in the chair. “I know. I’ll try to work the normal way for a while.”

“And no more video games.”

“No more video games,” Jungkook repeats sulkily.

They’re quiet for a moment. Jimin looks from Taehyung to Jungkook and back, and then tries, “So… Can we go get something to eat now?”

“Fuck yeah,” the other two say in unison and get to their feet, pulling Jimin up by the hands as well.

 


 

“It feels like they’re staring at me,” Jimin says.

“They are.”

“But. They’re not blinking.”

Yoongi snorts. “Would it make you feel better if any of them blinked?”

Jimin thinks for a second. “No, that would definitely make me feel worse.”

They’re in Namjoon’s living room, in his apartment above the bookstore. It’s blessedly cool with the AC on, and Jimin’s not sweating for the first time in three days. He can actually breathe.

Namjoon’s chaos from the bookstore extends to his home as well. There had been four empty mugs on various living room surfaces which Namjoon had hurriedly put away when Jimin came in; papers, important looking documents are scattered on the floor beside the lazy bag, and several pairs of glasses are randomly strewn about, some of them taped or with their temples broken off. And of course, books. So many books that Jimin had to move two to the side to make room for himself on the sofa.

He doesn’t mind the disorder. It’s charming, in an eccentric genius sort of way, lived-in and cozy, and not actually unclean.

What Jimin minds, however, are the two topmost shelves of the bookcase which takes up the entire left wall.

They’re surprisingly void of books and instead lined with figurines; small and medium sized and some quite big ones. Mostly grey and black; Jimin’s not sure if they’re supposed to represent animals, or cartoon characters or what. A few have creepy, frozen smiles, some have Xs instead of eyes. Those with actual eyes are looking right at him, making him uncomfortable.

“Is this how you felt in my flower shop?” Jimin asks, watching the figurines.

“Mhm.” Yoongi nods from the lazy bag. He’s picked up some of Namjoon’s papers at his feet and is rifling through them. “Only I hoped that if your plants tried anything, you’d be able to stop them from downright strangling me. Here, however…” He turns and squints up at the display. “If these things come at us, we’re all dead.”

Jimin lets out a laugh that’s only borderline hysterical. For good measure he sits farthest away from the bookcase.

Namjoon discovers that he has misplaced all the drinking glasses in his apartment, which Jimin supposes is an impressive feat, so he serves them sodas in clean mugs, and they sit and chat. Mostly Namjoon and Yoongi talk about something that Jimin only vaguely understands is some type of a business, something they’re both involved in, but he doesn’t get the full picture, too engrossed in his phone.

Taehyung and Jungkook arrive late, with Taehyung coming in first, grinning unashamedly.

“Sorry I’m late, I was busy doing Jungkook.”

Namjoon heaves a long-suffering sigh, holding the door open for Jungkook, whose expression is pained. “Busy doing stuff,” he corrects, and it’s not clear if he’s embarrassed because of the topic or because his boyfriend got the joke wrong, “and then I’m supposed to go, I’m stuff.”

“Oh, right!” Taehyung grins wider and throws an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders. They pile into the sofa, next to Jimin. It’s only when Namjoon warns them to watch the books do they fish them out from under their asses and toss them aside.

The movie is set up, a French one - Namjoon’s choice - and they are right in the middle of discussing what they’re going to eat after, whose job it was to get ice cream and why there’s no ice cream, when Namjoon’s phone rings.

They spend a solid minute looking for it; everyone except Yoongi, who just sinks further into the lazy bag, determined not to be dug out of it ever again.

Taehyung shouts in triumph then, finding the phone wedged in a book, serving as a bookmark it seems, and giving it to Namjoon to answer it.

“Jin-hyung!” Namjoon greets with a wide, dimpled smile.

It’s met with shouts of, “Jin-hyung, it’s Jin-hyung!” from Taehyung, and Jungkook chanting, “Kim-Seok-Jin!” while banging his fists on the coffee table. Yoongi shoots Jimin a look which clearly says he’s getting a headache right about now.

Namjoon laughs over the noise, “Hold on, hold on, I’ll turn on the camera.” And then he holds up his phone, Taehyung and Jungkook crowding next to him, grinning at their hyung.

Jimin moves back to make space for all of them on the sofa, and listens as Jungkook and Taehyung tell Seokjin all about the recent news, about their jobs and what they’ve been up to. In turn, he tells them how his boss moved him to a different, more upscale restaurant, and how he’s learning a lot. That it’s better now, because he’s gotten decent at French and no longer has to sacrifice rest time to work on his language skills.

And then Seokjin says, “I hear you guys are having movie nights again! That’s so great!”

“Yeah, we’re actually here now with Yoongi-hyung and Jimin, about to decide what we’re gonna eat after the movie!” Taehyung replies, and Namjoon raises the phone, so he can include both Jimin and Yoongi in the shot.

“Oh I see, that black hole in the lazy bag is definitely Yoongi,” Seokjin laughs; Yoongi is not amused. “And Jimin! I don’t think I’ve seen Jimin yet! Give him the phone, Joon-ah!”

Before Jimin can even reply, Jungkook eagerly hands him the phone and he’s met with the face of Kim Seokjin, dark-haired, as handsome as in Taehyung’s pictures, smiling brightly.

“Jimin-ssi!” Seokjin exclaims. “Nice to finally meet you! Excuse the chef’s coat, I’m on my break,” he says, tugging at the high collar of his snow white uniform. It’s around 1 p.m. in Europe; a Saturday, but he must be in the middle of a work shift.

“Nice to meet you, too, Kim Seokjin-ssi!” Jimin returns the smile and bows his head as much as the camera allows him. “I don’t mind, I’ve heard you work very hard.”

“Yeah, well, this is a great opportunity for me; I have to make the most out of it. But I’ve heard a lot about you, too, from… Well, everyone,” Seokjin says. “I know that you opened a flower shop in our street, and that you have a special talent for plants. And that you also dance! And,” he comes closer to the screen, scrutinizing, “Yoongi was not kidding, you really are so cute, Jimin-ssi!”

Jimin doesn’t get it right away.

Not before Yoongi barks, flounders to get out of the lazy bag, snatches the phone out of Jimin’s hands and shouts, “Was great talking to you, hyung, the battery’s running low, bye-bye!” He hurries to end the call as Seokjin laughs like a madman from the other side, shouting back, “I’m looking forward to meeting you in person, Jimi-”

Yoongi hangs up and silence descends over them.

Jimin’s mind slowly catches up - Yoongi was not kidding, Yoongi was not, you really are cute Jimin-ssi, Yoongi, cute, Yoongi called him cute -

“OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” erupts from Taehyung, Jungkook and Namjoon, and they all start laughing. Jimin’s face is so hot it might actually catch fire.

Yoongi thinks he’s cute.

Yoongi thinks, Yoongi actually thinks that Jimin is- He-

Jimin glances at Yoongi, shocked, not sure if his heart stopped or if it’s beating so fast it feels like it stopped; but Yoongi curls back in the lazy bag, buries the lower half of his face in the collar of his hoodie and mutters,

“Play the fucking movie, okay.”

His ears are red, cheekbones dusted pink, and Jimin’s mind revolves around one thing and one thing only.

Yoongi. thinks. that he - Jimin - is cute.

Namjoon wipes away a tear and plays the movie, the other two still laughing through the opening sequence until they calm down.

 


 

Stepping out into the stifling night again feels like a punishment after Namjoon’s crisp apartment. Even more so when Taehyung - drunk on beer and soju he found in one of Namjoon’s kitchen cabinets - leans his full weight on Jimin.

“I luuuurveeee youuuuu, Jiminieeeeee,” he drags out into Jimin’s ear, clingy and breathy and laughing, and Jimin laughs too, even though Taehyung’s heavy. “I luuurveeee uuuusssssss! All of uuuussss!” It’s not clear who are all of them, but Taehyung is doing nothing to stand on his own two feet, and they’re listing dangerously to the right.

“Going down!” Jimin manages right before his knee buckles; he braces himself for the hard welcome of the concrete-

But then someone grabs Jimin’s arm, steadies him, and Taehyung’s limp weight is lifted off as Jungkook slides in and takes over. He half-drags his boyfriend away, laughing as well, navigating towards his repair shop. Jimin looks up, at Yoongi, whose hand is still around Jimin’s arm; cold fingers on his skin.

Street lights cast shadows over Yoongi’s face. Over his dark eyes, feline and captivating; his lips, perpetually pouting.

Jimin thinks, wow.

The air is thick and balmy, hard to inhale; Jimin is intoxicated too, woozy, and yet he didn’t have a drop of alcohol.

“Thanks, hyung,” he says quietly, standing up straight. Yoongi lets go, stuffs his hands back into the pockets of his hoodie.

“Pfffft,” Taehyung says in the distance. His head is on Jungkook’s shoulder as they meander towards Jungkook’s building, a short distance they should cross in far less time than it’s taking them. “I won.

“No, you didn’t,” Jungkook tells him, holding him firmly to his side. “Namjoon-hyung and I won.”

They played charades after the movie. Namjoon and Jungkook on the same team are invincible, and they’re not allowed to play together ever again.

“I won because I guessed the moon!” Taehyung insists, slurring his words, and Jungkook laughs.

“It wasn’t the moon, it was a bulldog, Tae.”

“Oh. Well. Not my fault Yoongi-hyung is shit at drawing. A miracle really, how he’s such a good tattoo artist.”

“I heard that,” Yoongi calls, but no one pays him any attention.

“Bye, hyungs!” Jungkook waves when the two finally reach the entrance door. He props Taehyung up against the wall with a shoulder to look for his keys.

“Yeah, bye hyungs!” Taehyung smiles at them. “And Jiminie! Wait, how many people are there?”

Jungkook’s answer is too quiet for them to hear, and Jimin and Yoongi say goodbye as well before they slowly start down the street.

The sound of Jungkook’s door closing echoes behind them.

Jimin tilts his head back, looking up at the sky. Wishing he could see the stars. Aware of Yoongi next to him, and maybe wishing for other things, too.

You think I’m cute, he wants to say, smiling to himself. It would make Yoongi stop, make him blush again; Jimin likes that blush, wants to see it, to be the cause of it...

He doesn’t say it.

It’s childish, somehow. Like those junior high crushes that everyone had and sometimes even acted on, while Jimin… had felt them, maybe, once or twice, but couldn’t think of telling anyone about them.

Didn’t have anyone to tell.

They come to a stop between their shops, and Jimin smiles at Yoongi.

I like you.

I like this, between us.

He doesn’t know what to do with it. He doesn’t have any experience, just cradles it in his hands, blooming and delicate. He thinks he’d like to keep it. As with his plants, he’d like to nurture it, and see what it grows into.

Jimin reaches, acting on impulse, and hooks a finger in the front pocket of Yoongi’s hoodie. He tugs a little, twice; a silly, inconsequential gesture, and then withdraws his hand. He smiles wider, waves, and bids Yoongi goodnight before turning to his building entrance.

He catches only the slightest widening of Yoongi’s eyes, Yoongi’s own goodnight quieter than normal, and doesn’t notice that Yoongi stays there, in the middle of the street, for a while longer.

 


 

I’m
so I do my best, right?
I really try to help my customers get the most out of their flower arrangements
but sometimes, some people are S O FRUSTRATING I CAN’T DEAL 
I hate working with people 
I don’t mind working with people 
I often enjoy working with people 
but I hate working with PEOPLE

UGH 
rant over, sorry 

need me to kill someone?

haha no
...if you could just whip out your demon eyes at them, though? 

sure
just call me next time

thanks, hyung

 


 

Jungkook’s birthday is in a week, and Taehyung has a Plan. It involves dressing up as secret agents, suits and ties and bulletproof vests, and going out for laser tag, and then dinner at Jungkook’s favorite restaurant and then to his place to get wasted and play twister or something.

Namjoon is not too enthusiastic but he agrees to be a secret agent with them, if only to even out the numbers. Exactly no one is surprised when Yoongi declines, saying he’ll meet them at the restaurant instead.

Of course they can’t buy actual bulletproof vests, but Taehyung and his grandmother fashion something on her old sewing machine, out of regular black vests and padded lining and velcro. She’s the instructor, as Taehyung puts it, and he’s the seamstress, and he sends Jimin progress pics. It almost looks like the real thing.

Jimin doesn’t own a current suit, one that’s decent enough to wear in public, but he calls his mother and she sends over his old one from high school graduation.

The evening before the birthday event, Jimin is standing in his bedroom, watching a youtube video on how to tie a tie (his father did it all those years ago), clad in a suit that’s tight in places now, a little short at the ankles and wrists.

The video gets paused as a message chimes in.

TaeTae
be ready @ 7pm
don’t let Kookie see u dressed before
surprise remember 

Jimin smiles.

Jimin
did *you* remember the cake ?

TaeTae
picking it up tomorrow morning
cake check
suits check
laser tag booked
restaurant booked
booze omg did we get enough? 

Jimin thinks about his fridge, almost entirely stocked with alcoholic drinks.

Jimin
enough for at least three of us to get alcohol poisoning if we feel like it 

TaeTae
good
that’s good

not that anyone should get poisoning or anything 

Jimin
relax tae
it’ll be fine
he’ll have a great bday 

TaeTae
yeah
hope so
want him to have fun
he rlly doesn’t like not working his way 

Jimin
I noticed 

Jungkook has been sulkier than usual the last few days.

He has more than enough experience and knowledge to work as a regular electrician, and he’s been doing that, for the most part. The problem is that it’s incomparably slower than his usual methods, and it makes him frustrated that he can’t finish a job as fast as he’s used to.

On several occasions Jungkook has sought refuge in Jimin’s flower shop during the day, being a big pouty bunny in the corner beside the hyacinths, actually using his thumbs to play games on his phone.

TaeTae
caught him tinkering with a nintendo switch the other day
connecting it wirelessly to his TV
had a fight about it
hate fighting with him
I just want
fuck
I want him to be okay 

Jimin
don’t worry
we’ll have a good time
and lots of good food
and he’ll be better than okay 

TaeTae
yeah
thanks chimchim
gotta go
have this late night photoshoot for a newly engaged couple
capturing the magic of the city lights or whatev
see you tmrrw
don’t be late 

Jimin
I won’t!
have fun! 

Jimin swipes back to the tie tying tutorial and tries to remember where he left off and what end he was holding in which hand when he gets another message.

Yoongi-hyung
wow 007 

Jimin snorts, lets go of the tie to look out the window. Yoongi is leaning out his own, elbows resting on the ledge next to Pip, phone in hand. He’s smirking.

Namjoon’s bookstore is still open, a handful of shoppers wandering in the dark alley below; the boulevard traffic hums in the background, and Jimin decides it’s better to text than to talk.

Jimin
I would be the coolest secret agent ever 

He strikes a mighty pose, chest puffed out, finger gun at the ready, and Yoongi shakes his head.

Yoongi-hyung
I might believe you if you didn’t trip on your own two feet yesterday and dropped the slice of pizza you were holding
heard the splat all the way to my apt 

Jimin laughs, immediately dropping his secret agent persona to cover his face. It was his last pizza slice, too. He was sad.

Jimin
you should come play too
there’ll be teams
but in the end it’ll probably just turn into jk vs everyone
he’ll win ofc 

Yoongi-hyung
ofc
and no thnx
I’d probably break a hip or smth

Jimin sticks out his bottom lip, pours all he has into his pleading look as he leans out the window as well, his suit jacket pulling at the seams.

Yoongi laughs, turns back to his phone.

Yoongi-hyung
not even your puppy eyes can convince me this time 

Jimin
psh you underestimate my power
you like my eyes

It just slips out, without a second’s thought. Jimin stares at the words, suddenly nervous, a fluttering in his chest. Fuck, what is he doing, fuck, what-

you like my eyes

Jimin chews on his lip, takes too long to look up, to see Yoongi’s reaction.

Yoongi is staring right back at him. Intense, like he’s never seen Jimin before, and Jimin wants to force out a laugh, to brush this off as a joke. He almost does it, too, only Yoongi’s expression changes; he smiles, one of those gentle, fond smiles, barely visible, piercing right through Jimin’s lungs.

Yoongi doesn’t say it, doesn’t type it, but Jimin understands.

I do. I like your eyes.

Jimin feels like he’s going to choke on his own heartbeat.

Then Yoongi averts his gaze back to his phone.

Yoongi-hyung
see you at the restaurant tomorrow
try not to rip the suit 

Jimin
no promises
it’s especially tight on my ass 

Yoongi lets out a strange wheeze, then starts coughing violently. Jimin utters a worried, “Hyung!” but Yoongi waves him off, going back inside, hacking until he gets a glass of water to calm down.

He shoots a thumbs up before he turns off the light in the kitchen and shuffles back into his apartment, towards his bedroom presumably.

Jimin leaves his window open, and returns to tying the tie. His reflection in the mirror on the door of his wardrobe is not nearly as suave or as elegant as secret agents are supposed to be, but fuck it.

They’ll pretend to be more badass than they are, drop and roll all over the place, shoot each other, and then get drunk after.

And he’ll see Yoongi again. Maybe sit next to him at the restaurant. Steal more food off his plate.

you like my eyes

It’s going to be a good day, Jimin decides as he strips out of his suit and arranges it neatly on a hanger.

He takes a long, relaxing shower, brushes his teeth and crawls into bed to watch new performances and practices from dance channels he’s subscribed to; feeling calm, content, with a touch of unbridled excitement.

He watches a ballet dancer fly across the stage, and thinks about Yoongi’s smile.

A good day, for everyone.

The feeling lasts for about a second longer, until the screen of Jimin’s phone stutters.

He frowns, pauses and unpauses the video.

The street lamps outside buzz and flicker. They hold for a breath - one last ominous moment in which Jimin still doesn't think it significant - before they die out.

Before the entire alley gets swallowed by total, impenetrable darkness.

Someone screams.

Chapter Text

Too long, too long-

It takes Jimin way too long to cross his apartment to the entrance door. It’s pitch black as he treads forward; he can’t see even his own hand when he waves it in front of his face. His phone had turned off along with the lights, and he hasn’t been able to switch it on.

The faint, sporadic traffic of the boulevard filters in through his windows, mixed with the violent pounding of his own heart.

Jungkook. Jungkook.

Jungkook did this; he’s not okay, he’s in trouble, he wouldn’t do this on purpose; he lost control-

Jimin is determined to get to him.

He feels for a set of keys on a side table by the front door - the keys to Jungkook’s apartment - and, still in his sleep shirt and shorts, he finds his sneakers and puts them on, finally yanking the door open.

The stairs are agonizing. Jimin wants to sprint down, jump off the last few steps, but he’s stuck feeling one by one while holding onto the railing; slow, slow, he’s too slow, fuck, Jungkook-

He’s out of breath from the worry, the adrenaline, when he shoulders his way outside. The avenue lights only reach so far into the alley, but they’re enough, more than enough-- Jimin turns, sees a series of flashes going off in Jungkook’s repair shop; like someone’s taking pictures inside, makes no sense, what-

“Jimin! JIMIN!”

Jimin tears his gaze away from the strange, pulsating light and spots Namjoon, running towards him from the bookstore. He’s holding a lantern, a candle flame dancing inside the frosted glass.

“Jimin! Get Yoongi-hyung!”

“What?”

Namjoon’s eyes are wide in alarm; he shoves the lantern into Jimin’s hands and bolts towards Jungkook’s. “GET YOONGI-HYUNG!” he shouts over his shoulder. “NOW! TELL HIM THE POWER’S OUT!”

Jimin doesn’t waste a second. He’s terrified, shivering even though it’s not cold at all, and very much disoriented; Namjoon obviously knows what to do, and Jimin is going to listen to him.

He runs over to Yoongi’s building, silently thanking a higher power that Yoongi’s building door is unlocked, and he takes two and even three steps at a time to the top.

There is only one apartment door on the landing, and Jimin starts banging on it with all his might.

“Hyung!” he yells, voice breaking. “Hyung! It’s Jimin! HYUNG!”

It’s a short while before he hears a voice from inside, indistinctly yelling back. Then, as Yoongi gets closer, “What the fuck? What-” There’s a thud, a clang, and, “Ow, mother of FUCK!”

“Hyung, it’s Jimin, open-”

The door swings open in a rush of air, and Yoongi glares at him. One side of his face is wrinkled from sleep, his hoodie barely zipped up over his shirt, and his hair in complete disarray. In the low candlelight, Yoongi’s expression is downright murderous.

He opens his mouth to speak, but Jimin cuts him off, “The power went out. Namjoon-hyung told me to get you.”

Yoongi stares for a beat, processing.

Then his eyes go wide.

“Shit!” he exclaims, throwing himself at his sneakers to shove them on much like Jimin did not a few minutes ago, then scrambling past. “Come on!”

“But- Your apartment-”

“LEAVE IT!”

Jimin darts after Yoongi, down the stairs at breakneck speed - the lantern’s flame get snuffed out as they burst outside and race down the dark alley, towards the repair shop.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuck,” Yoongi curses, coming closer to the still flashing light inside - cold blue, eerie.

Jimin’s not ready, he doesn’t know what’s in there; he has a second to brace himself, to gasp in air and step inside.

He feels the charge right away; a thickness coiling in the air, smothering, making it hard to breathe. Jimin’s head starts throbbing from the density, like something is squeezing it from the outside; he winces as he tries to make out what’s in front of him.

All of the electronics in the shop are getting switched on and off; music is playing, interrupted by static, screens are flickering, so much noise, lights blinking-

Lights. The light itself, the strange one Jimin saw from outside, is coming from Jungkook.

Jungkook, kneeling in the middle of the shop, folded in on himself. Dozens, if not hundreds of electricity bolts zap out of him, out of his skin and his hair and clothes, in every direction. They lick the walls, fry the gadgets they come in contact with, sending sparks flying-

Jungkook looks like he’s in pain; his head is bowed, hands pressed over his ears; somehow small and hurting, and scared, no, stop this-

“Jungkook!” Jimin chokes out; moves to get to him, to help, but Namjoon holds him back.

He’s behind Jimin in a second, wrapping an arm around his waist and tugging him back into the corner farthest away. “Don’t touch him!” he shouts over the commotion. “Fuck, the voltage could kill you, Jimin-ah!”

But at the same time Yoongi rushes past them, not pausing even for a moment. He disregards the electricity, the charge weighing down on everything and everyone, and falls to his knees right in front of Jungkook.

“Kid, kid, look at me,” Yoongi urges. In the blinding, flashing light Jimin realizes - holy shit - that Yoongi’s hands are black; entirely covered in ink, like he’s wearing gloves.

He combs his fingers through Jungkook’s hair, a little gently, a little desperately, his voice barely audible over the noise.

“It’s hyung, Kookie, look at me.” Yoongi dips his head, tries to get Jungkook’s attention. “Fight it, kid, come on; you can do this.”

But Jungkook doesn’t react; maybe doesn’t even hear him. Yoongi wraps him in his arms, as much as he can given how much bigger Jungkook is - that same black from Yoongi’s hands, his ink, now rises from under Yoongi’s hoodie up to his chin, like a turtleneck. Like it’s protecting him, his body, from Jungkook’s raw power raging all around them.

Yoongi presses his pale lips to the crown of Jungkook’s head. “Come on, you’re so strong, Jungkook, I know you are, we all know you are…”

The bolts of electricity zap all around them, out of control. Jungkook is trembling in Yoongi’s arms, hands in white-knuckled fists, jaw clenched so tight his joint might pop out; not answering, he’s not moving-

“Jungkook!” Yoongi raises his voice, squeezing his eyes shut. “Fuck, kid, please, don’t do this, don’t make me… Come on! Fight it!”

“Do it, hyung,” Namjoon says, loud enough to be heard. He’s still holding Jimin around the waist, like he’s afraid Jimin might lunge forward again. Like Jimin isn’t frozen on the spot by what’s happening.

“Do it,” Namjoon says again.

“No, just a little longer-”

“It’s been at least ten minutes!” Namjoon shouts. “Maybe even twenty. We don’t have much time; he wasn’t responding to me at all when I got here. If we let it go on for much longer… He’ll be gone, hyung, you have to-”

“Fuck!” Yoongi scoots back. He brings his palms to either side of Jungkook’s face, lifts his head to see Jungkook’s eyes pinched in a wince. “I’m sorry. Hyung is so sorry kid, I have no choice…”

A scream gets caught in Jimin’s throat.

The black, liquid ink of Yoongi’s hands bleeds into Jungkook’s skin, starts spreading like a spider web; thin rivulets down his neck, slipping under the collar of his shirt… Yoongi frowns in concentration, holding Jungkook tightly. His lips are moving - he’s apologizing, Yoongi is apologizing over and over again…

Nothing happens. Nothing changes. A new kind of fear, cold and slithering, winds its way up Jimin's back - what is this, is it dangerous, does it hurt, is it going to help, why isn't it working-

But then the electricity discharge starts dialing down, gradually becomes less frequent. Less erratic. Their blinding blue light subsides, little by little.

“Come on, Kookie, come on…” Namjoon encourages.

Jungkook is still trembling, Yoongi’s ink still seeping into his skin, but Jimin’s head no longer feels like it’ll cave in. The electronics stop going haywire, the repair shop falling silent.

After a long, long stretch of time - after Jimin remembers to inhale - the light diminishes completely; the last bolt zaps out of Jungkook’s back and fades out quickly, not followed by any new ones.

“Jungkook, Jungkook, Jungkook,” Yoongi’s broken voice murmurs in the near total darkness.

Beside Jimin, Namjoon fumbles with something; Jimin feels him taking the lantern from his hand, and a lighter flicks on. The feeble candlelight casts an orange glow on everything, throwing moving shadows across the walls.

Yoongi looks ashen, ghostly as he still cradles Jungkook’s face between his hands. “It’s Yoongi, kid, it’s hyung, say something…” he mutters, resting his forehead to Jungkook’s. Weak; he’s so weak, they’re both too exhausted- “Say something, Kookie, please…”

The black stops running from Yoongi’s hands down Jungkook’s neck, but Yoongi doesn’t let go.

It takes Jimin a second to realize that the strange, uneven sound that remains is actually Jungkook’s wheezing. Labored, ragged intakes of breath, rattling Jimin’s soul.

Then, like he’s at the end of his rope, “Hyung,” Jungkook whispers, voice entirely shot. He looks at Yoongi with big, terrified eyes, like he doesn’t see him. Doesn’t recognize him. “H-hyung…”

“Kook,” Yoongi says softly, black thumbs brushing over his cheekbones.

“Yoongi… hyung…” Jungkook’s fists release to clutch at Yoongi’s shoulders. He’s still shivering, his teeth chattering. “I- I’m… cold.”

“Fuck, I know,” Yoongi says, but it’s in obvious relief. “I know, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry-”

But then Jungkook closes his eyes, sags against Yoongi, and Yoongi is not strong enough to support his unconscious weight.

“Joon-ah!”

Namjoon steps forward, kneels to take over so that Yoongi can pull away.

“He’s out,” Namjoon says quietly, adjusting his position on the floor to better embrace Jungkook, setting the lantern down next to him. “You did good, hyung.”

Yoongi grunts in reply, having trouble getting up. Whatever had transpired just now has taken a big toll on him, too. He stumbles on his feet, steadies himself before keeling over - Jimin moves to catch him, but Yoongi raises a hand to stop him from coming closer.

His tattoos are draining away from his palms, back up under his sleeves, down into his hoodie from his neck, rearranging themselves.

“Take care of him, yeah?” Yoongi says weakly, shakes his head and stands up straight, though Jimin sees how much effort it takes him.

“Yeah, we got him,” Namjoon says. “Go rest, hyung.”

Yoongi slowly makes his way out into the alley - Jimin watches him, prepared to leap if Yoongi trips down the two steps or something - but he doesn’t, and finally he shuffles into the darkness, towards his building.

Silence. It’s silent, again. Deafening. Jimin feels every hard, forceful beat of his heart.

“Jimin?” Namjoon asks softly.

“Y-yeah?”

Maybe he’s in shock. Jimin has never been in shock that he knows of, but this might be what it feels like. Cold and dizzy and… slightly panicked. Somehow the silence is worse than what was happening before; it’s too calm, too dark and too quiet, what-

“You okay?”

“I don’t…” Jimin swallows, replies honestly, “I don’t know.” Life is a series of snapshots at the moment, small realities that flitter in and out of Jimin’s mind without any order.

Jungkook, half curled up in Namjoon’s lap; the flickering light of the lantern; Namjoon’s hand, gently stroking up and down Jungkook’s back; the now unsettlingly peaceful electronics.

“He’s… Is he…?” Jimin doesn’t know how to ask. What to ask. He lacks words and cohesive thought.

But he comes closer, crouches down. Hesitates, irrationally wondering if it’s safe, before he lays a hand on Jungkook’s arm.

Feels normal. Feels like Jungkook, though he’s so pale and wringed out-

Fuck.

“He’ll be okay,” Namjoon says. It helps Jimin that Namjoon is no longer frightened, that he’s almost composed after everything. “We’ll have to get him upstairs to his bedroom at some point, but he’ll be okay.” He shifts, straightening out one leg from underneath him. “We should… We have to call Taehyung.”

Jimin nods. “I’ll do it.” He takes his phone out of his pocket, but Namjoon shakes his head.

“Your battery will be completely empty. If your phone even survived the electric pulse, you’d have to recharge it.”

“Oh.”

Jimin stares at his phone, which indeed won’t turn on. Somehow his brain can’t decide what to do next. Put it away? Yeah, he’s going to put it away, back into the pocket.

Namjoon must see how disconcerted Jimin is, how lost, because he offers him a small smile. “Jimin-ah. Everything is going to be okay now. I have a phone which will work at the bookstore, but I have to go get it. Would you mind staying here with Jungkook, until I get back?”

A thing that he can do. Yes. Jimin can definitely do that.

They switch positions, much like Namjoon and Yoongi had done earlier, and now Jungkook’s head is in Jimin’s lap; Jimin’s heart clenches, mind instantly preoccupied with, jungkook, kookie, jungkookie, small, hurt, beautiful, scared, precious… Jimin pets his hair, watches him breathe evenly until Namjoon takes the lantern with him and leaves the repair shop.

 


 

They get Jungkook up to his apartment with minimal difficulty. Namjoon is tall and Jimin is strong and between them they maneuver Jungkook’s limp body relatively easily. Namjoon also has the key to Jungkook’s apartment, and so they carry him in, straight back to the bedroom, laying him down on the king sized bed.

“Ah, good, the substation is still operational,” Namjoon says as he switches on the lamp on the bedside table.

Jimin carefully takes off Jungkook’s boots, makes sure that he’s comfortable, that no part of his body is awkwardly bent or compressed. Namjoon brings in two chairs from the kitchen, and two bottles of water; they drink and sit on either side of the bed, Jimin next to Jungkook, taking his hand.

Namjoon lets out a long, tired sigh and slides down in his chair. “What a night.”

Jimin can only smile a little. Sadly. He’s still recovering, wrapping his mind around what went down only half an hour ago.

“Is this…?” He licks his lips. “This isn’t the first time this happened?”

It couldn’t have been, from how Namjoon knew what to do, how he had a non-electrical light source nearby, from how Yoongi reacted… Even from what Jungkook himself had told Jimin a while ago; usually it’s not serious.

Usually.

“I think it’s… the third time?” Namjoon says. “Since Jungkook came here.”

Jungkook has been living in the alley for over two years. Three times in two years. Jimin has no idea if that’s too often or rare enough.

“You’ve never seen something like this before, have you?”

His best friend becoming a certified electric generator, wiping out the power of an entire residential block? No, Jimin has never seen anything like it. He shakes his head.

Namjoon considers him. “How much do you actually know about… about what we are? About what you are?”

“I…”

Sounds like an easy question. Should be an easy question, but Jimin finds himself at a loss for an answer.

Not much. He doesn’t know much.

Namjoon’s lips twist down bitterly. “It’s not exactly something they teach in schools, is it?”

On a scale of progressiveness, their country falls roughly in the middle. People like Jimin, like Namjoon and Jungkook and Yoongi, have rights, almost equal ones at that, and it’s not… It’s not bad. It could be a lot worse.

But it doesn’t change the fact that their education system is severely outdated, not including anything beyond a sentence or two in history books; no details, no reasons, no way for children or teens who are different to better understand themselves.

Still, there are other sources; the internet, packed full of information like it is. Jimin had never… He’d never taken initiative to explore this, never thought too hard about it. He’d been more preoccupied with trying to fit in, to appear normal; to find a place in this world that is so wary of his kind. He never stopped to think why he is the way he is, different than most others, where it all comes from… How it works.

He bites his lip, ashamed of his ignorance.

“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Namjoon says gently, like he reads Jimin’s mind. “It’s not your fault no one puts any official effort into shedding light on an entire section of humanity. The internet is too vast and often clogged with incorrect, misguided opinions - it’s not easy to wade through all of that shit to get to the right information.”

Jimin nods, grateful for Namjoon’s kindness.

Then Namjoon sits up and leans forward, his elbows on his knees. “To better explain what happened tonight, maybe… We should start at the beginning.” He thinks for a moment, then starts, “We are born different, you know that. Some are obviously different from day one, while for others it takes years, sometimes even decades to show.”

Jimin was around three years old when he mentioned a snippet of an unimportant conversation between his mother and her friend; one that had taken place in the dining room of their home, for which Jimin himself wasn’t present. When his mother had asked him, in disbelief, how he could have possibly known what they talked about, little Jimin shrugged and replied that he’d heard it from the violets sitting in a pot on the window ledge of the dining room.

Jimin doesn’t remember this event, but his mother marks it as the first time she’d thought her son maybe wasn’t like the other kids.

“There has been some research on what it is exactly that makes us different. Legal, ethical research on volunteers, but also… more unethical types of experiments.” Namjoon’s look darkens at the latter. “What they all discovered was a sort of… Well. Different people call it different things. Aether. Magic. ...The Force.” He exhales a breath that sounds almost like a laugh. “I like to think of it as an energy. Scientifically, it does have certain ways of being detected, quantified and described, but I won’t get into that. It’s easy to imagine it as something that brews within us, linked to our bodies and our consciousness, and which gives us these abilities that we have.

“Every person’s energy imprint is different. Even if their talents seem similar on the outside, science has proven that they’re all unique on the inside.

“Some energies are… gentler. Not difficult to control. Like mine. Like yours.” Namjoon’s gaze drifts over to Jungkook. “But some are more volatile. Harder to handle.”

“Like Jungkookie’s,” Jimin whispers, squeezing Jungkook’s hand.

“Mhm.” Namjoon nods. “Yoongi-hyung’s, too. People like them have trouble keeping their energies reigned in sometimes. Depending on their emotions, stress levels, or even just how good they are at controlling them. Yoongi-hyung has exceptional power over his own energy, even though it’s one of the most intense ones I’ve ever felt. In all the time I’ve known him, he’s only ever lost it twice.”

Yoongi. Yoongi going through this, overcome by his own darkness, screaming for help- Jimin cuts off that train of thought at once.

“When someone loses control, it’s… If the person is aware of what’s happening, aware that their energy had taken over, there’s a big chance that they themself can bring it back in. If they’re strong enough. But if not…” Namjoon purses his lips. “It can go wrong in more ways than one, as you saw tonight.

“Jungkook’s energy is greedy, spiky, and it wants all the power for itself, so it basically consumes all electricity in its radius. Based on our previous experiences, the radius is around our street, though last time the electrical substation suffered as well. We didn’t have power until city electricians came to replace parts of it. No one asked us anything, thankfully - they most likely thought it was a random malfunction.

“Jungkook’s body can obviously take massive amounts, perhaps even unlimited electric potential, so that itself is not a danger to him. What is far more concerning is that… The longer it goes on for, the longer the energy is allowed to rampage through the person, their body and their mind, the harder it is to get it back under control. The harder it is to resist it and to return to normal.”

Jimin remembers Yoongi’s desperate words, pleading for Jungkook to fight it, to be strong…

Namjoon looks down at his interlaced hands, resting between his knees. “I’m sure you at least heard about cases like these… Where people lose their reason, their own sense of self, and have to be restrained, sedated, or - if all else fails - even executed.”

Jimin did hear about that; he’d scrolled over an occasional headline, caught a bit of news from the TV.

It’s the main reason they’re stigmatized, in some communities branded as less than; monstrous, no different than rabbid beasts. No one wants to be close to ticking time bombs; to potentially deadly, destructive individuals who could go off at any second.

“It’s not an exact science, and it’s different for every person,” Namjoon says. “What triggers them, to what degree, what can bring them back, in what way… if anything. For some people, tranquilizer shots work, if you can get close to them. For others, even just talking to them is enough. But there are people who just… never come back, no matter what.”

Jimin focuses on Jungkook’s hand is solid in his, how it’s warm, here, how Jungkook is okay...

“So… So, what did Yoongi-hyung do?” Jimin asks then, quietly. “He helped, didn’t he? He somehow… calmed Jungkook down?”

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees, thoughtfully looking at Jungkook’s form. “He used his own energy to force Jungkook’s into submission.”

Yoongi’s ink spreading from his hands down Jungkook’s body… They were both so weak at the end, drained.

“The first time it happened, the first time Jungkook lost control, we- we panicked. It was sudden and explosive and- we had no idea what to do. There were no phones, no sedatives, no nothing. Our best option was to run out into the street and ask for help, and that would’ve put even more people in danger.

“There is a technique I… read about. Two people, one using their own energy to reign in the unleashed energy of the other. In theory. It had been attempted a few times, but almost always with catastrophic results. The person sending the energy overwhelming the person receiving it, accidentally killing them; the receiver’s uncontrolled energy ending them both; losing their sanity, slipping into a coma, the list goes on and on.”

Namjoon runs his hands through his short silver hair, scraping at his scalp, frowning at the memory. “We had no choice, we didn’t- We knew we didn’t have a lot of time, and we had no other choice. Yoongi-hyung and I had talked about this method of… containing the situation long before Jungkook happened, and he-

“I couldn’t do it - my own energy is nowhere near powerful enough to try something like that, so.”

Namjoon nods with conviction. “I told Yoongi-hyung I trusted him. In that moment - in that crazy, terrifying moment - Taehyung told him that, too. We trusted him, and he did it. In the end, he brought Jungkook back, both of them collapsing right after. But they were okay. They made it.”

He meets Jimin’s eyes, his smile tinged with gloom. “That’s pretty much what you saw today. Since the first time, Yoongi-hyung and I did more research, more careful practice. We found a way for him to have more control over the process, and the second time Jungkook lost it, hyung had already remained standing long enough to get to a bed. Like tonight, too.”

Jimin runs a thumb over Jungkook’s knuckles, compiling all of this. It’s a lot; a lot of information about himself, his kind, about his friends to take in all at once. He stores it away in his mind, to rifle through later, when he’s not holding his unconscious friend’s hand.

“The phone I called Taehyung with,” Namjoon continues, the last piece of the story. “There’s a thing in physics, a Faraday cage, doesn’t matter- It can keep things safe from the kind of energy Jungkook releases. I made one to keep a phone in it, for emergencies like these.”

Jimin smiles a little, somehow not the least bit surprised at Namjoon's resourcefulness. “You’ve really thought of everything, hyung,” he says, not with a small dose of awe.

Namjoon shrugs. He opens his mouth to probably say something modest, to deflect, when a bang comes from the other side of the apartment, down the hallway.

“That’s Taehyung,” Namjoon says, straightening up.

Another bang, and then the sounds of the front door opening, loudly, a bicycle chain clicking and then a crash as it’s most likely dumped on the floor of the living room. Running steps, and then Taehyung is standing in the door of the bedroom. Heaving, flushed, his red hair all over the place, eyes puffy and bloodshot. Seeing nothing but Jungkook in the bed.

“Kook-” he rasps.

“He’s okay.” Namjoon stands up. “It’s okay, Taehyung, he’s-”

But Jimin has to act fast, to leap to his feet and duck out of the way as Taehyung barrels forward, falls beside the bed.

“What did you do, Kook, what did you do…” he whispers, shakily grasping at Jungkook’s shirt. He leans in, smooths Jungkook’s hair away and presses a kiss to his forehead. To the tip of his nose. The corner of his mouth. “Shit, shit , babe…”

“He’s okay, Tae, he’ll be okay,” Jimin repeats softly, but Taehyung shuts his eyes, buries his face between Jungkook’s shoulder and the bedding.

“Fuck,” he says, muffled. “Fuck.”

Jimin lays a hand on his head, strokes gently through the tangled strands of his hair, when he feels Namjoon pulling at the short sleeve of his shirt.

“Let’s… Let’s give them some space,” Namjoon says quietly, and gestures to the hallway.

The last image Jimin glimpses over his shoulder as he leaves is Taehyung in a heap next to Jungkook, his body wracked with small, quiet sobs. Jimin tries to swallow down his own feelings lodged in his throat, but they don’t budge.

“You should go home,” Namjoon says then. “Get some rest. Taehyung will take care of Jungkookie now, and we’ll check on them later.”

“I… Yeah.” Jimin nods. “Yes.”

They pull Taehyung’s bicycle up and lean it on the wall in the hallway, then they slowly walk out of Jungkook’s apartment, down the stairs and into the breezy night. Street lights are back on.

Three of the lamps aren’t working.

 


 

He doesn’t even try to sleep.

Jimin lets himself into his apartment, toes off his sneakers and stands there, in the middle of his living room. Not checking the lights, not bothering to test which electronics remained intact in the surge.

Jungkook, doubled over, surrounded by manic, crackling electricity.

He could’ve died. Any one of them could have died in that charged room.

Yoongi, cradling Jungkook’s face, begging him to stop this.

Jimin walks down the hallway, feeling detached, like a ghost in his own home. He strips of his threadbare sleep clothes and turns on the water in the shower, scalding hot.

Jungkook’s whimpers in the silence; his horrible, jarring breaths.

The stream hits him full force, pelts his shoulders, the back of his neck, cascades down his bowed head to his face; Jimin's skin burns, turns red in an instant, steam fogging up his vision.

They could have died, they could have never returned-

Yoongi, barely standing on his own feet, not allowing Jimin to come closer.

Jimin stays under the shower, not doing much of anything, unable to function, until the water turns lukewarm, then cold. His mind is almost blank, replaying the scenes from the night on a loop without commentary.

Turmoil. Panic. Blue light and darkness, alternating. Yoongi’s black fingers in Jungkook’s hair. Namjoon’s determined face when he said, “We trusted him.”

Taehyung.

Taehyung’s wild, worried eyes. Taehyung curled up in a ball on the floor next to Jungkook’s bed, soaking Jungkook’s shirt with his tears.

Jimin shuts off the water, lightly shivering. He grabs a towel, any towel, and dries off; wipes his face, searches for clean underwear - in the bedroom, right - and then wipes his face again with the back of his hand - a shirt or jeans, anything he can find, really - his cheeks are wet again-

He’s crying. Jimin is crying; he doesn’t know when he started crying. Why.

It’s not like. It’s not like anything is wrong, right now. It’s okay; he’s heard it, and said it many times, it’s okay. There’s no reason to cry.

And yet the tears keep spilling over, and he thinks almost hysterically, it’s okay, nothing is wrong, what the hell, Park Jimin, get it together-

Jimin sobs in the dark of his bedroom, the sound loud, high-pitched. He slides to the floor in his unbuttoned jeans, shirtless, and presses a hand over his mouth. Cries, cries, seeing his friends in pain, feeling the weight of Jungkook’s head in his lap, the helplessness he felt, the confusion - he cries because it’s a lot, it’s too much - everything is okay, but he can’t hold it in.

Outside the bedroom window the sky pales, the dawn casing a grey, melancholy glow over everything.

Jimin’s body shudders as he brings his knees up to his chin, as he gulps in air, lets it all out until his crying fades into hiccups. Until he feels empty, limbs heavy like lead. Cried out. 

Exhausted.

Sleep is not a bad idea, but he knows he won’t be able to rest.

He doesn’t want to be alone. Doesn’t want to stay in his apartment, doesn’t want to feel… useless. He should be doing something. Anything.

Making sure everyone is alright. Taking care of them.

Slowly, unsteadily, Jimin gets to his feet. He’s lightheaded, the room spinning a little around him, but he manages to find a clean t-shirt, to wipe his dry tear tracks before he puts it on. Socks. Keys. He leaves his phone behind, not having charged it anyway.

When he steps out of his building, the alley is empty but the sun is out, first yellow sunrays peeking over the buildings. Warm; bright; cheerful. The summer isn’t at all troubled by what happened last night.

Jimin spends a few minutes in his flower shop, a quick visit that surprises his plants; it's too early for work to start, even though it’s a Friday.

He doesn’t need to tell them anything. Not the traditional way, anyway.

He smiles woefully, stands in the middle of the shop, and allows them to feel what he’s feeling. Every shaken, bone-weary corner of his soul; how he needs to go, to be there for his friends now.

Their warmth is kind. An embrace, loving and gentle and familiar; a home, for Jimin. They understand. Of course they do. After all, they know him, inside and out, and they know the best way for him to heal is by healing others.

So Jimin thanks them, brushes his fingers over the orange and red tulip petals, closest to him, and quickly scribbles a note that, unfortunately, the flower shop will not be open today, due to an unforeseen emergency.

He tapes the note to the front door with a ladybug sticker, locks the shop behind him, and heads towards the boulevard, to a small grocery store not too far away.

Jimin buys instant soup and chamomile tea, and on his way back realizes that the Kim bakery is just starting its workday.

Mrs. Kim doesn’t expect him at this hour, and apologizes that all they have available are two batches of freshly baked croissants (her grandson’s recipe), and one tray of blueberry muffins (which she knows aren’t his favorite). Two of their three ovens are out of order for some strange reason, and they’re waiting for an electrician to come and take a look.

Jimin can't keep the guilt out of his smile as he pays for too many croissants, just enough muffins, and bows on his way out.

He pauses, for a second, bathed in the sunshine. Contemplates, where to go first. He wants to check on Jungkook, and Taehyung, and also maybe if Namjoon needs anything… But Jimin’s legs carry him towards Yoongi’s building before his mind even makes a conscious decision. 

Yoongi is by himself. The last time Jimin saw him, he was barely standing. Jimin would like to make sure he hadn’t fallen face first on the stairs up to his apartment and cracked his skull open.

Among other things.

 


 

When he knocks on Yoongi’s door and has to wait for an absurd amount of time for it to open - so long that Jimin genuinely worries Yoongi had somehow hurt himself in his dazed state - it’s a deja vu from last night.

Yoongi is at the threshold again, sleep-rumpled, except that now there’s no fear gripping at Jimin’s throat; no urgency. Just sunlight pouring into the apartment behind Yoongi, specks of dust swirling; Yoongi’s messy hair and pouty lips, and… collarbones.

Jimin’s gaze lingers on where Yoongi’s white shirt is stretched out, almost slipping off one shoulder; smooth, flawless skin, that dip of his collarbone-

“There’s this thing called sleep,” Yoongi grouses, making Jimin look back up into his dark eyes. “I like it.”

“Sorry, hyung,” Jimin says, not feeling sorry at all, despite the warmth in his cheeks. “I wanted to see if you’re okay. You weren’t doing too good when you left last night, so-”

“I’m fine,” Yoongi cuts him off and turns away.

He makes it a solid few steps into the living room when he falters; when he stops and momentarily loses balance. Jimin is by his side in an instant - he drops the grocery bags, grabs Yoongi by the forearm, preventing his fall; supports him with an arm around his waist, taking on his weight.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers, worried. Yoongi’s eyes are closed, his breathing heavy, like it was a monumental effort to answer the door. He’s warm, but the tattoos of his forearm, under Jimin’s hand, are cold to the touch, rippling, pulsating. Jimin holds Yoongi up; they’re so close the tip of his nose almost brushes the side of Yoongi’s face. “Hyung…”

Yoongi makes a small noise, his brow furrowing. It could mean, fuck off. It could also mean, give me a sec. So Jimin stays where he is, hopes that Yoongi can’t feel how hard his heart is beating. That he doesn’t notice how difficult it is for Jimin not to lean in and inhale the clean, lemony scent of Yoongi’s shampoo or body wash, to-

“I said,” Yoongi whispers back, straightening up, slowly detaching himself from Jimin’s grasp, “I’m fine.”

But he keeps one hand on the wall, on the furniture he can reach as he crosses the living room.

“I brought food,” Jimin says, blinking the Yoongi haze away. He closes the front door, gathers up the bags he had let go of.

“Yeah, yeah,” Yoongi mumbles, waving him away, continuing down the hallway. “I’m going back to bed.”

 


 

There’s a piano, by the window. Upright, dark brown, wood chipped in places. Yoongi plays the piano, or played it, Taehyung had said. Jimin trails his fingers over the sheet music in the rack.

It’s curious, standing in Yoongi’s apartment. Seeing it from this angle, not from across the street. The leather couch, color of dark chocolate; the TV in front of it and a coffee table with one of its legs cracked, making it lean to the right.

The bookcase. Jimin comes closer, inspects the titles. Novels, classics and modern ones, sci-fi, fantasy, but also non-fiction, biographies, psychology, philosophy even? Music production, more sheet music, artbooks, art history, and one children’s picture book in English.

A Kumamon plush toy; Jimin would love to hear the story behind that.

Earphones on the kitchen table, a bowl of nothing but chip crumbs next to them. Yoongi's notebook, the one he tries to write in, closed.

Jimin unpacks the grocery and the bakery bags on the counter, feeling strangely… calm. It’s better, knowing that Yoongi’s close, that he’s more or less okay. Better, to have something to do than to stay at home.

He finds a pot, rinses it, pours in water for the instant soup. Watches it boil, bubbling up, and adds the mix from the baggy.

It’s synthetic and too salty, but soup is comfort, and he doesn’t know what goes into an actual one. Vegetables. Maybe some meat? He doesn’t trust himself to experiment in someone else’s kitchen, not even with something so simple. He should’ve charged his phone and called his mom to ask.

Luckily, Yoongi’s water kettle is working, so Jimin makes himself a cup of chamomile tea. He breathes in the sweet, honeyed scent, and stands by the window, exchanging impressions with Pip.

The baby plant is no longer a baby. It’s growing, strong and healthy, green leaves branched out and blue star-shaped flowers all over. It’s happy where it is, and happy with Yoongi. Although it suspects Yoongi himself is not that happy.

Jimin drinks as he listens to how Yoongi doesn’t sleep much. How he’s frustrated, with himself and the world around him.

Sometimes it’s better - Jimin realizes this is usually on the days they have their movie nights - and sometimes it’s very dark. Despairing almost.

Pip wishes Yoongi could be happier.

Jimin wishes that, too.

He sets down the empty mug in the sink, puts a lid over the pot with finished soup, and goes to check on him.

A hallway leads from the living room deeper into the apartment, an area which can’t be seen from Jimin’s window. A small, clean bathroom. A bedroom.

Jimin pauses in the door frame, watching. The room is barely big enough to fit the bed in, and yet there’s also a desk crammed by the door, with a laptop and a device with many square buttons on it. There’s a musical keyboard on the floor beside the bed, too many cables, speakers, headphones all around. The chaos of electronics rivals that of Jungkook’s shop.

It’s warm and dusky, dimly lit, thin bright gleams filtering through the cracks in the closed blinds.

Yoongi is sleeping on top of the tangled covers, curled up on his side towards the door. Peaceful, like the first time Jimin had seen him sleep; beautiful, beautiful, soft… Jimin’s chest feels full, he can’t pinpoint exactly with what. All of it, affection, concern, gentleness, care, feelings, feelings, all about Yoongi and for Yoongi.

Jimin steps inside, walks over and crouches down, in front of Yoongi’s sleeping form. He admires the fan of black eyelashes over the pale cheekbones, the bow of that upper lip, the smooth jawline; he wants… Again, he wants to-

This time, Jimin gives in. He lifts a hand - hesitates a breath, a heartbeat - and then brushes Yoongi’s hair away from his brow. Slowly, he threads his fingers through the dark strands, soft like he thought they would be, and melts, melts because Yoongi

Yoongi hums, stirs, and opens his eyes.

“Hey,” Jimin whispers, smiling. His fingers keep gently playing with Yoongi’s hair; Yoongi doesn’t seem to mind.

He hums again, in greeting probably, gaze sleepy and unfocused.

“How are you?” Jimin asks.

Yoongi blinks, like coherence is elusive and answering is difficult.

“Tired,” he breathes, closing his eyes again.

“Hm. Sleep, then.” Jimin wants to stay; he wants to keep caressing Yoongi and to be here, with him… “I left some soup in the kitchen,” he says. “You can heat it up later. There’s some bagels and muffins, too.”

A barely audible acknowledgement; Yoongi seems to be drifting off already. Jimin swallows, fights the urge to ghost his fingers over the sweep of Yoongi’s cheek as he pulls his hand away, and stands up.

He’s almost at the door again when,

“Don’t go.”

Jimin turns, not sure if he heard right. If he heard anything at all.

But Yoongi is looking at him, exhausted and breathtaking in the muted light.

“Stay, Jimin-ah,” he says, voice gruff.

Jimin smiles.

Stay.

“Okay.”

He rounds the bed, careful not to step on anything valuable or trip on any wires, and sits on the other side, the mattress dipping under his weight. Yoongi’s bed is soft, perfect to sink into and never get out of again; it smells like him, fresh and citrusy. Jimin takes one of the three pillows for himself, and Yoongi rolls over to face him.

It’s larger than a single bed, enough for them to lie next to each other without touching. Even still, while not meeting Jimin’s gaze, Yoongi reaches over the small space between them, closes his fingers around the hem of Jimin’s shirt. Just holds it; holds onto the fabric like it means something.

Maybe it does.

Maybe it’s reassurance, and gratitude, and not being lonely. Maybe it’s Jimin’s heart breaking a little, him thinking how he’ll never let Yoongi be lonely. He won’t let Yoongi be in pain, he won’t, he can’t. Jimin’s hand finds its way back into Yoongi’s hair, cards through it, and Yoongi closes his eyes at the touch; pulls a little on Jimin’s shirt, frowns, and then relaxes.

Jimin feels, far too much. Everything from before, loud and disturbing and scary; but also this bed and this warm silence, and Yoongi’s silky hair and the sound of Yoongi’s even breathing…

Yoongi’s pink lips, slightly parted. Jimin wonders, for the first time, with a visceral sort of trepidation, what it would be like to kiss him.

 

Chapter Text

Yoongi opens his eyes and his first thought is that he must still be dreaming, because Park Jimin is in his bed.

He’s sleeping close, really close; his cheek smushed against a pillow, blond hair all over, arm-

One arm draped over Yoongi’s hip. Heavy. Warm.

It’s the middle of the day, early afternoon sunlight losing its battle against the closed blinds, and Park Jimin is in his bed.

Yoongi stares. Hopelessly.

Jimin is beautiful, stunningly so, even in deep slumber like this. He looks like he belongs here, between Yoongi’s bedsheets. He looks like a morning, or an afternoon, or any part of the day really, which Yoongi wouldn’t mind repeating. Waking up to this.

Having this.

If only.

It takes him a fuzzy moment, but Yoongi remembers last night, and Jungkook. Remembers the pull of his own energy, dark and willful, how eager it was to latch onto Jungkook, onto something alive. How Yoongi used everything he had in him to stop it from taking over completely.

And then this morning, Jimin came to check on him; he said something about food… He stayed, when Yoongi asked him to stay. He played with Yoongi’s hair, and Yoongi doesn’t remember the last time anyone touched him like that… With such care and tenderness, and Jimin’s soft smile lighting up Yoongi’s very soul-

Yoongi swallows thickly, forces his gaze away from Jimin’s plump lips. He lowers Jimin’s arm and slips out of bed, resolutely ignoring his own aching heart.

 


 

When Jimin pads down the hallway into Yoongi’s living room, he catches Yoongi with a mouthful of croissant, sitting at the kitchen table and scrolling through his phone. There’s an empty bowl and spoon next to his elbow, presumably from a serving of soup.

Even through his grogginess Jimin can tell that Yoongi looks better. There’s color back in his cheeks, and he seems more awake, more conscious.

Yoongi doesn’t look up from eating and reading, so Jimin opens and closes the kitchen cabinets until he finds another bowl and pours himself lukewarm soup from the pot.

He tries not to overthink the impromptu nap in Yoongi’s bed. With Yoongi still in it. Tries not to dwell on the Stay, Jimin-ah, or how Yoongi relaxed under his touch. How he fell asleep, with Jimin following not too long after.

There will be time for that, later.

Right now, Jimin sits across from Yoongi and sips on his soup directly from the bowl, in silence, while Yoongi finishes off his croissant and wipes crumbs off his lips, locking his phone.

“Thanks,” Yoongi says then, his voice still a little rough. He clears his throat, eyes fixed on the table surface. “For the soup. And the bagels.”

“You’re welcome,” Jimin says with a smile. “Was about time someone put some real food into you.”

Yoongi shoots him a glare, but without any heat behind it. Jimin half-expects a discussion about how instant soup and refined carbohydrates are nowhere near real food, but Yoongi seems to have other things on his mind. His sharp gaze lingers, like he’s assessing Jimin.

“Are you okay?” he asks. “I mean, from last night. It was…”

“A nightmare?” Jimin offers between two gulps of soup.

“Putting it mildly.”

“Yeah. I had…” Jimin sighs and sets down the bowl. He runs a hand through his hair. “I had no idea what the hell was going on. It was pretty terrifying.”

“It happened before,” Yoongi says. “Jungkook has what we call a less stable type of-”

“I know,” Jimin saves him the trouble. “Namjoon-hyung explained it to me. I get it, now. The energies, the different types, the…” He looks at Yoongi, at his fluid, winding tattoos, calm and breathing from his wrists all the way up under the short sleeves of his white t-shirt. “He said that you’re like Jungkook, too. Only that you have more control over your energy.”

Yoongi nods, and says nothing for a moment. He seems to be thinking, contemplating, and then his eyes travel down to his arms.

“I was fifteen,” he says. “When the first one appeared. Like a splotch of ink on my forearm, shapeless. I actually tried washing it off, until I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. Until I realized it moves - that I can make it move - any way I want.”

Jimin drinks more from his bowl, listening intently.

“More came after. Everywhere on my body. There was a solid month or two where I was worried I’d get completely covered in the stuff. That it just wouldn’t stop coming.” Yoongi shrugs. He’s still not looking at Jimin. “I hid them in front of others. At school, outside, even at home; anywhere that wasn’t the safety of my room. I pushed them away under my clothes, so that no one saw what was happening. What… I’ve become. Or have been, all along.

“Later… When my parents found out, when it became obvious I couldn’t stay at their house anymore… I just.” Yoongi frowns. “In the underground, it was a different scene. Illegal things, dangerous things, and it was actually advisable to look a little… rough, I guess.” He says it like he doesn’t believe he could ever look rough. At this moment, with the wide-collared white shirt, the fluffy hair and soft face, he doesn’t. But Jimin had seen him be rough, and downright frightening. It’s on the of the many things Jimin likes about Yoongi, this strange combination of badass and caring.

“So I played with the ink. Made it into tattoos.” Yoongi gestures to his arms. “They can’t be still because they’re… We’re connected, so they reflect my state of being, my breathing, and most of the time they do their own thing. It’s complicated to explain, but I’ve sort of… envisioned a pattern for them, something for them to follow even when they’re changing, so. They just… do that.”

“They’re beautiful,” Jimin voices what he’s thought of Yoongi’s ink since the first time he laid eyes on it. Cool. Amazing. And otherworldly beautiful.

Yoongi looks up, then quickly back down again, tips of his ears turning pink. Jimin wants to squeeze the life out of him.

“Yeah, well.” Yoongi clears his throat. “Now, they’re mostly… showing things that- that mean something to me.”  

Once again, Jimin makes out piano keys, words and musical notes and fire for some reason, and… He leans in, narrows his eyes at a tattoo on the inside of Yoongi’s right elbow.

“Is that… a turtle?”

As though it heard it’s being addressed - perhaps because Yoongi suddenly looked at it - the small tattoo, indeed a turtle, swims its way down to Yoongi’s wrist, so that Jimin can see it better. It’s unassuming and simple, a black outline of the animal with a round peace sign for its shell.

“It’s-” Yoongi pauses, then smiles, barely visible. “It is a turtle, yeah. One out of two I made.” Jimin raises his eyebrows, and Yoongi elaborates, “The other one is… on Hobi.”

Hobi. Hoseok. Yoongi’s tattoo shop partner; Yoongi's friend who has been mysteriously missing since Something happened, which made Yoongi all… this. Withdrawn and unhappy and guilt-ridden, if Namjoon’s words were anything to go by.

Jimin wants to know about that. Wants to know what that Something was; if it was a big thing or a series of small things that accumulated into a big thing… If it can be… fixed, maybe. But it’s clearly a sensitive issue for everyone involved, and Jimin and Yoongi are not there yet, where he can just directly ask. Probably.

So he doesn’t. Instead, Jimin sets down his empty bowl and goes the roundabout way,

“Does it move, too?”

“Huh?”

“The turtle, on Hoseok-ssi. Does it move, too?”

“Uh.” Yoongi scratches a spot behind his ear, a little caught off guard by the question, but he doesn’t avoid answering it. “Yeah. I can- I can transfer small amounts of my ink onto other people, both special and not, without any consequences. It can’t change shape on them like it does on me, but it has some - limited - movement. I just have to focus, and to be careful not to transfer more energy than is necessary for that.”

“Did you do it a lot?”

“No. I practiced, on Jungkook and Taehyung mostly, because they thought it was fire.” Yoongi rolls his eyes at that, and Jimin laughs. “But I’d always take the ink back, it never stayed on them. Permanently, I did it just that one time. It’s not… It’s not something that was a standard offer in the shop. I don’t think I’d even want to do it on strangers. Not with the small, but still existing risks involved.”

Jimin wouldn’t mind having a moving tattoo from Yoongi one day. “Does it hurt?” he asks. “When you do that… Yesterday, with Jungkook? And when making the turtle?”

“They’re two different things. When it’s just a tattoo, it’s… superficial. I don’t feel much, and the others told me it’s just cold on their skin. But with Jungkook, it’s… deeper, in a way? Not just the surface, not about what passes over from my skin to his, it’s much…” He looks at Jimin. “Have you ever tried it? Feeling someone’s energy? Letting them feel your own?”

 Jimin shakes his head; recalls how Namjoon said that Yoongi’s energy was one of the most powerful ones he’s ever felt. Felt. Feeling it. He has no idea how it works.

“It’s… personal,” Yoongi says. “And everyone’s energy has something different about it. An emotion, a sensation… A scent, or even a sound. Namjoon’s is like a rustle of paper in the background; clear water; tranquility. Jungkook’s is crackling, prickling, like when you get zapped by static.”

“And yours?” Jimin asks, tilting his head.

Yoongi watches him, silent for a beat, maybe choosing his words, but then he straightens up in his chair and rests a hand on the table between them, palm up. An invitation.

Jimin stares at him. At the hand, then back at him.

“Try it,” Yoongi says.

“Try…?”

“Try feeling it. And then tell me what it’s like.”

“But I don’t- I don’t know how-”

Yoongi doesn’t wait for him to finish. He takes his phone with his other hand, swipes through it until he finds what he’s looking for and shows it to Jimin. An image, which Jimin runs into online from time to time, on ads about yoga, energy flows, positive thinking and the like.

It’s a silhouette of a person, completely black, with a bright light radiating from their chest outward, filling them up to the tips of their fingers and toes.

“Imagine something like this,” Yoongi says. “A light. Any color, any type. Just imagine the shape of me, of my body, filled by that light. And the shape of you, filled by a similar light.”

“Okay…?” That already sounds weird enough.

“So, when you take my hand, try to visualize… Touching my light. With your light.”

Jimin purses his lips to suppress a snort, to not comment on the vaguely sexual undertones of this whole deal, but he spectacularly fails when Yoongi’s face goes flat.

“I swear if you make a lame sex joke I will punch Taehyung in the face.”

“Wha--? Why Taehyung?” Jimin laughs.

“Because he’s clearly a bad influence on you.”

“Oh? Like I’m incapable of having dirty thoughts all on my own?” Jimin retorts, quirking an eyebrow, and maybe enjoying too much how Yoongi blushes again.

“As I was saying,” Yoongi continues, glaring a hole in the table surface. “Try to picture beyond the skin and the flesh and the physical. Try to focus more on the…”

“Metaphysical?” Jimin prompts, and Yoongi lets out a groan.

“Namjoon is so much better at this crap than I am. Just, like-” He waves with his hand not on the table at his other one, meant for Jimin, and Jimin decides to be merciful.

“I get it, hyung,” he says, smiling. “I mean, I think I do. I guess I already do that with my plants? Only I’ve never actually had to think about it. Consciously. It’s just something that sort of happens? But… I’d like to try this.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Jimin slides forward to the edge of his seat, and reaches to take Yoongi’s hand, the tips of their fingers almost brushing when he pauses. “Um. Is there anything that could go wrong? Like, could I hurt you, or…?”

Yoongi’s eyes are trained on where they’re almost touching. “Yeah,” he says quietly. “You could hurt me. So… go slow.”

Jimin swallows. Slow. Okay. Doesn’t sound too difficult. Slow and steady.

With his heart beating a nervous rhythm, Jimin takes Yoongi’s hand and closes his eyes.

He’s excited, and anticipating, and doesn’t want to screw this up. Jimin visualizes the picture Yoongi had shown him; imagines Yoongi sitting across from him, but doesn’t bother with the details of him, his hair or his features or his clothes. He imagines a source of light in Yoongi’s chest; mellow and bright blue for some reason, flowing through Yoongi without hurry, down Yoongi’s arm, to the hand Jimin is holding.

He pictures a light within himself as well. He knows it’s yellow, can’t see it as anything else. Warm and soft and welcoming; it trickles from his chest to where they’re connected. The yellow light is curious, eager to feel something new, to learn, just as much as Jimin is-

For a tense, confusing second, Jimin isn’t sure how to bridge the barrier between the lights. How to let the yellow cross over to the blue-

But then, the blue light does it first. It tentatively peeks over Yoongi’s fingers, into Jimin’s hand, just shy of the yellow; and before Jimin can do anything about it, before he even realizes it, the yellow light bounces forward, and grazes the blue.

Jimin gasps.

It’s a shock. A tug at his heart, at his entire being; he has been laid bare and stripped of everything, open and exposed and raw. Yellow light surges out of him, through his palm, his hand, up through Yoongi’s wrist, unleashed and feverish. It’s a lot, a lot, thunder in his ears, sparks behind his eyelids; reality crumbles; there’s no table, no kitchen anymore. Jimin feels the blue light, feels it all around him, only it’s not blue. It’s black and ice cold and it crawls up, snatches his throat-

“Hyung!” Jimin cries out, falling, falling, unable to inhale, lungs burning-

He opens his eyes, panting for breath, clutching at something. Yoongi’s eyes are close, wide with concern, and it takes Jimin a long, disoriented moment to become aware of his body again. Limbs: 4. Head: 1 (debatable). The world didn’t implode, everything is in its place; he’s still sitting in his chair, the kitchen is intact.

Only Yoongi is kneeling beside him, still holding his hand. “Jimin, Jimin-ah,” he’s murmuring, trying to get his attention. “You’re okay… Jimin.”

“What. the fuck,” Jimin wheezes out. He has a death grip on Yoongi’s shoulder, and maybe he’s shivering a little, or the chair is, or the whole damn building, what even-

“The slow part didn’t work,” Yoongi says, his voice unsteady. “You- Well, you’re more powerful than I expected you to be. And my energy kind of… fought back.” He looks disconcerted about that, but then glances to the side. “I need- I should get you water, but I can’t get to the fridge if you don’t let go of-”

“No,” Jimin says, tightening his hold on Yoongi’s hand and shoulder, if that’s possible. “In a minute.”

“Okay, okay,” Yoongi relents, and stays put.

They don’t talk until Jimin’s breathing settles; until he stops randomly shuddering, like he’s been doused with ice water. Yoongi doesn’t let go of his hand, slowly strokes circles into Jimin’s knee with his other. Gentle. Soothing. Looking at him. Worrying about him.

“It’s…” Jimin starts, once he gets his bearings. He finally relaxes and lets go of Yoongi’s shoulder, his grip on his hand easing up a little. “It’s dark. Black? And cold, and…” He licks his lips, looking for the best word to describe what he felt. Thick, suffocating, like an oil spill in the ocean, living things dying in the black liquid… “Consuming.”

Yoongi smiles bitterly. “That’s actually a great way to describe my energy, yes.”

Jimin hums, not happy about that. Not happy that this is what Yoongi carries around, what he probably fights against, tries to keep contained on a daily basis. He remembers how much anger and resentment there was in Yoongi’s songs. His raps. Jimin doesn’t blame him at all.

“And mine?” he asks, smirking a little. Trying to lighten the mood. “What’s mine like?”

“Warm,” Yoongi says at once, though Jimin expected that one. “Sunny. Surprising. Annoying, like you.”

Jimin laughs, and socks Yoongi in the shoulder. Yoongi smiles, too, that heartwarming gummy smile, and it’s all Jimin can do not to pull him in by his shirt and-

“We should check on Jungkook and Taehyung,” Yoongi says. He lets go of Jimin’s hand - it has no business feeling that empty - and stands up.

“Yeah,” Jimin agrees, a little dazed. A little tingly.

“After you drink this,” Yoongi says, and sets down a water bottle in front of him.

 


 

When Jimin goes to unlock Jungkook’s door, it’s already open. He and Yoongi enter, carrying untouched bagels from that morning, but also fresh sandwiches, more muffins, puff pastries (Mrs. Kim had cheerfully informed them that all of their ovens were once again fully operational), yogurt, milk, orange juice, and a vague plan to order whichever food Taehyung feels like eating.

Namjoon is reading a book on the couch, and he welcomes them with a dimpled smile and a finger to his lips, indicating at the closed door down the hall.

Yoongi stays behind to unpack everything, assuring Namjoon that he’s fine in a hushed tone, and Jimin tiptoes to Jungkook’s bedroom.

He pushes open the door to see his two friends in the large bed. Jungkook is still out of it, no longer in the shirt from last night but in a new, clean one, and he’s under the covers, pillows comfortably fluffed up around him.

Taehyung is pressed to his side, eyes closed, an arm thrown over Jungkook’s waist. There’s a white earphone wire connecting them, a phone lying between them, playing music Jimin can’t hear.

He comes in, leaves the door ajar and sneaks to Taehyung’s side of the bed, his socks muffling his steps. Taehyung stirs when Jimin slides in, on top of the covers, and cuddles into him from behind.

“Jimin?” Taehyung whispers sleepily and Jimin hums, adjusting a pillow under his head. “What time is it?”

“Around 4 p.m.,” Jimin says.

“Mm.”

"How’s he doing?”

Taehyung drags a hand up and down his face, further mussing up his red hair. He frowns, like he’s trying to gather his awareness.

“Good, I think,” he says at length, a scratchy finish to his deep voice. “Hasn’t moved, but that’s normal. Won’t be awake until tomorrow probably.”

“You’re listening to music?”

Taehyung nods, lifts up the phone to show the playlist. “He likes Justin Bieber. He… he said he could hear some things when he’s like this. Sometimes asleep and sometimes between dream and reality, so…”

His lips twist to the side, and Taehyung turns away.

Jimin wraps an arm around him, squeezes tight. “And how are you doing?”

Taehyung shakes his head, either saying he can’t or doesn’t want to talk. Jimin rests his forehead on his shoulder, nudging gently.

“Tae.”

“It’s… It’s his birthday.”

Oh. Right. Jungkook’s birthday. They had plans - the secret agent laser tag, the restaurant, the party after - it all seems like a lifetime away. In reality not 24 hours have passed since the power went out.

“I didn’t-” Taehyung inhales sharply. “I didn’t get the cake.”

Jimin’s chest constricts, and he snuggles into Taehyung even more. “We’ll get a new cake.”

“I… Ah, fuck.” Taehyung sniffs, and Jimin holds onto him, gives him time to find the words.

“I don’t tell him enough,” Taehyung says, voice indistinct from a pillow or a sheet or even Jungkook himself. “I don’t tell him… I love him. I don’t tell him enough that I… I love him.”

“He knows that you do.”

Taehyung rolls over then, faces Jimin, his big eyes gleaming with tears. “I love him, Jimin. I love him, I love him so much and I don’t tell him often and- what if-” His breath hitches, and he covers his face with a hand. “What if one day I get a call and he- he just-”

His shoulders are shaking now, he can’t finish the sentence, but Jimin knows what he means.

“Taehyungie…” he whispers, pulling him in. Letting Taehyung curl up under his chin.

“What if he- what if he doesn’t know how much I love him? I- I can’t-” Taehyung sobs, helpless. “I can’t. I don’t know what to do, I-”

He cries, tears staining Jimin’s shirt, and all Jimin can do is embrace him tightly.

“He’s- We’re young, and we’ve only been dating for a year maybe, but-” Taehyung mumbles in between sobs. “But he’s it. He’s it for me, Jimin. He’s so- so strong, and driven, and fucking gorgeous and- and he puts up with my bullshit… And I have a lot of bullshit.”

Despite the situation, despite his own emotions welling up in his eyes, Jimin lets out a feeble laugh.

“I love him, I love him so much… If something happens to him and I’m not there, Chim, if he-” Taehyung burrows into Jimin’s chest, and Jimin struggles to accommodate his bigger frame. “I wouldn’t- be able to take it.”

“I know,” Jimin whispers into the crown of Taehyung’s head. “I know.”

There’s not much else he can say. He can’t promise it won’t happen - fuck, he can’t promise it won’t happen - but he knows that-

“We’ll be there,” he says, with quiet, deep-rooted determination. “Namjoon-hyung, Yoongi-hyung, me… We’ll be there, and we will make sure that Jungkook is okay. Just like last night. You hear me?” He strokes down Taehyung’s back. “Wasn’t it like that the first time? Didn’t Namjoon-hyung and Yoongi-hyung get him back, even though everyone was scared?”

Taehyung nods.

“I’m here too, now,” Jimin says. “We won’t let anything happen to Jungkook.”

Taehyung doesn’t stop crying right away; it takes time, more calming back scratches and soft words of encouragement, and a question of what kind of cake they should get for Jungkook tomorrow.

“Chocolate and hazelnut,” Taehyung says faintly, as he rubs his face into Jimin’s chest. Jimin smiles.

 


 

They don’t leave Jungkook’s apartment. At least one of them is by his side at all times while they wait for him to wake up.

Namjoon reads to him, a book about a zombie apocalypse that he believes Jungkook would find interesting. Jimin and Taehyung play more music, and also play video games on their phones, all their favorite ones, trying to beat Jungkook’s records with live commentary.

Yoongi talks to him. Jimin doesn’t know about what, but he hears Yoongi’s low voice through the bedroom door, and feels very fond.

When 3 a.m. rolls around, Taehyung is asleep next to Jungkook again, and the other three are in front of the muted TV, not even pretending they’re following whatever movie is on. Namjoon had fallen asleep in the armchair, his head thrown back and mouth open, an occasional snore ripping through the silence.

Jimin can barely keep his eyes open, each blink slow and heavy. Yoongi is next to him on the sofa, but he hasn’t moved in a while either.

Something dramatic and flashing is happening on screen; Jimin thinks maybe the main hero is getting killed, but he lacks the brainpower to comprehend. He blinks again and his eyes stay closed, and he drifts...

Suddenly he’s not upright anymore - as through a fog he realizes he’d slid down the sofa, that his head is now on Yoongi’s shoulder; Yoongi doesn’t protest, and Jimin stays there. His lazy gaze travels down from the bloody scene on the TV, over the coffee table littered with empty mugs and glasses of half-drank juice and some still intact bagels, to land on Yoongi’s hand on the sofa.

What a nice hand, Jimin’s misty mind concludes. Long fingers and skin so pale he can see the blue veins, and knuckles - without a conscious decision, without a second’s pause, Jimin’s fingers trace the bumps of Yoongi’s knuckles. He feels the rough skin over them, drags the touch down to the wrist, then up again, to the tips of Yoongi’s fingers. What a really, really nice hand.

Then the hand turns, opens like it did that morning, when Yoongi wanted Jimin to take it. Yoongi doesn’t say anything - Jimin doesn’t know if he’s even awake - but Jimin twines their fingers nonetheless.

He holds Yoongi’s hand, and falls asleep.

 



Water is running, somewhere; in a different room. A distant voice drifts in, Namjoon’s maybe.

Jimin is warm and comfortable, all cozied up on the sofa, the cushions hugging him perfectly -

His eyes shoot open. Cushions don’t hug.

It’s sunny in Jungkook’s living room, the mess from last night still in front of him, but Jimin’s more concerned with what’s underneath him; heart beating frantically, he realizes he’s on top of Yoongi. His face is squished into Yoongi’s chest, Yoongi’s arm around him. The blurry haze of last night had dissipated and now all that remains is the minor freak out Jimin starts having.

They’re alone. Namjoon is with Jungkook - reading from the zombie book again - and the water is from the bathroom, like maybe Taehyung is taking a shower. And Jimin is lying on top of Yoongi.

He feels every line where they’re pressed together; the steady rise and fall of Yoongi’s chest, the weight of his arm; Yoongi’s leg between his own - fuck, fuck - Jimin’s face heats up. He cautiously lifts his head, to better asses how to pry himself away.

But then Yoongi lets out an mmmm sound and Jimin freezes. It’s not warm anymore; it’s hot, much too hot, and he’s especially aware of Yoongi’s thigh right there -

“Jiminie?” Yoongi asks gruffly; he’s never called Jimin that before, it’s- new, and Jimin likes how it sounds in his voice-

“Yeah,” Jimin says, trying to push himself further up. He looks at Yoongi, and that’s a mistake, because Yoongi is particularly adorable when he’s half-asleep-

“You’re-” Whatever Yoongi wanted to say dies in his throat when he meets Jimin’s eyes, and suddenly he’s not so groggy anymore. “Um.” His gaze flickers down to Jimin’s lips - he licks his own, and Jimin stares at the movement. “On top of me.”

“Yes,” Jimin replies automatically. “Yeah. I, uh- I am.” He should get up, should untangle them right now, but Yoongi moves first, somehow shifts his leg and- “Oh,” Jimin lets out, breathless, because oh, oh fuck. Now Yoongi is the one who stills, both of their eyes going wide.

“Jiminie,” Yoongi repeats, husky and surprised, and Jimin is- stunned. Wanting. Wanting what he’s not entirely sure; anything, Yoongi’s lips, that tongue that darted out to wet them a second ago, more of that friction-

He doesn't think, doesn't know if deliberately or by accident, but he tilts his hips into Yoongi’s thigh, almost grinds against it. A small ah escapes him, unbidden, his fingers twisting in Yoongi’s shirt, and Yoongi tightens his hold on him, brings him in closer, moves his leg again, oh, this time on purpose-

“Taehyung-ah!” Namjoon shouts from the bedroom. Jimin jerks back, Yoongi lets go at once and Jimin loses his balance; he topples over with a yelp, landing roughly between the sofa and the coffee table.

“Taehyung-ah, Jungkook is up!”

“I’m okay!” Jimin exclaims, but something heavy clangs in the bathroom, like Taehyung dropped the shower head.

They hear loud cursing and commotion, more things clattering to the floor, and when both Jimin and Yoongi scramble up and into the hallway, Taehyung darts out of the bathroom - wet and with only a white towel held loosely around his waist.

He barges into the bedroom, and Namjoon cries out, “Ah, no, no, you could’ve at least put some clothes on, fuck!” as he rushes out to join Yoongi and Jimin with a hand over his eyes.

But the most important thing - what makes Jimin instantly push the heat from a moment ago to the back of his mind, what makes them all cram into the doorframe, but not pile in; not crowd Jungkook and Taehyung - is that Jungkook laughs. Quiet and worn-out, but a Jungkook-like cackle nonetheless.

He’s still propped up by all the pillows, sickly pale and weak, though his eyes light up when Taehyung kneels next to the bed, obviously not caring what his towel is covering up (very little).

“I love you,” is the first thing Taehyung says, not taking his reverent gaze off of Jungkook.

“You’re naked,” Jungkook says in response.

“I-” Taehyung glances down, adjusts the towel to be slightly more decent. “I might be a little unclothed, yes.”

“And you’re dripping all over the floor and the bed.”

“Because I’m romantic as fuck and no lack of fabric or excess of water would ever stop me from rushing to your side,” Taehyung dramatically declares and Jungkook laughs more - he laughs, he’s okay!

Then Taehyung’s smile turns brittle, more pained, and he lifts a hand, fits a palm to the side of Jungkook’s face. “Hey, babe,” he whispers; Jungkook closes his eyes, leans into the touch. “Missed you.”

“You played Bieber for me,” Jungkook says, planting a kiss to Taehyung’s hand.

“I did. I also beat 18 of your Soda Pop high scores.”

“Eh. I’ll let you have that, for the next hour or so. If you behave.”

“Punk,” Taehyung says lovingly, caressing Jungkook’s cheek.

“Gross,” Yoongi remarks under his breath. He’s standing between Jimin and Namjoon in the doorway; nothing is stopping him from just turning away, if he really wanted to.

“Yeah, why are we here again?” Namjoon asks.

“Can’t look away,” Jimin mutters, touched by how much his friends love each other.

“Kiss him, idiot,” Yoongi adds with a note of impatience, and Taehyung smirks, obviously hearing their exchange, but not taking his eyes off Jungkook.

He sits up to kiss him, but then the towel slides down and Jimin shuts his eyes, immediately yelling out objections along with Yoongi and Namjoon.

Eventually, Taehyung does part from Jungkook to get dressed, albeit with reluctance, and they make definite plans to get cake. (And there’s another argument on the subject of what food should come before the cake.)

Jungkook doesn’t seem too bothered that he missed his birthday, because they’re celebrating it anyway. In a much more subdued fashion, however, with the five of them scattered all over the living room, each with a spoon in hand and passing the box of cake around. (Because slicing it is too much effort and there’s dirty dishes after and no one needs that.)

Jimin watches the others, the dark shades under their eyes, their fatigued smiles and slow gestures. But they talk and try to make Jungkook and Taehyung laugh - Yoongi reenacts a moment when Namjoon had tried to saute onions and Seokjin nearly blew an aneurysm on the spot - and it’s.

It’s not okay. Despite what Jimin had tried hard to convince himself in the early hours of the morning, it’s not completely okay.

But they’re getting there.

Chapter Text

“You like him.”

The statement doesn’t come as a surprise. Yoongi doesn’t look up from doodling in his notebook. He supposes he hasn’t been the most subtle, yeah, but Namjoon could always see right through him. Too smart. Too fucking astute.

“He likes you too, you know,” Namjoon continues, undeterred by the silence. Reading people like reading his books, pulling them apart on observation alone and poking around their core whenever he pleased.

Yes, Yoongi thinks as his pencil scratches on the paper, leaving dark lines. Of course he knows Jimin likes him too. If it hadn’t been obvious before, that morning at Jungkook’s was certainly an awakening. In more ways than one.

Yoongi grits his teeth, feeling the heat of it even now, days later.

He thinks about it; a lot. Hates himself for it. He has no right, but he can’t stop thinking about it. About the breathy sounds Jimin made, the pink of his cheeks, his dark eyes, burning- Fuck. Yoongi had wanted it.

Wants it now, too.

“What are you going to do?” Namjoon asks from across the table.

“I don’t know,” Yoongi replies.

It’s like acid down his throat. Leaving holes, bubbling up, choking him, making him want to claw his own lungs out.

He would like to not feel it. To not be this. For a day, or an hour. Only that.

“And if he does something about it first?”

“I don’t know.”

If Jimin does something about it first - if it’s anything like that morning - if it’s Jimin being close and intense and looking at him like that… Yoongi won’t be strong enough to push him away.

He’ll have to.

Yoongi draws, drags the pencil over the lines on the paper, tries not to spiral down the darkness he’s been in for a while. A long while now.

“Hyung,” Namjoon says. “Hyung, look at me.”

With effort, pressing the tip of the pencil way too hard on one spot, Yoongi looks up. He meets Namjoon’s kind, steady gaze, and Namjoon smiles gently.

“Jimin is a good person,” he says. “He’ll be good for you. He cares.”

Yoongi looks away immediately, wishing he could just turn off his hearing. No, not good for him; Jimin is too good, too fucking nice and cheerful and optimistic, Yoongi doesn’t deserve-

“Hyung,” Namjoon says again, and this time his hand comes to rest on top of Yoongi’s. Yoongi shuts his eyes; the tip of his pencil snaps. “It has to stop. This guilt, this… self-flagellation. You’ve done nothing wrong. Look at me.” Yoongi doesn’t, and Namjoon’s voice isn’t so gentle anymore. “Yoongi,” he drops the honorific. “Look at me.”

Yoongi opens his eyes. His throat has closed up, tears prickling behind every blink; he can’t, he can’t, can’t deal with this anymore, can’t bear it-

“It was an accident,” Namjoon reiterates what he’s said countless of times now. “No one blames you for anything. You did nothing wrong. Hey.” The smile is back, small and dimpled; Yoongi wants to cry, and Namjoon rubs his thumb over the back of his hand. “Let yourself have this, if you want it. Let yourself have nice things, hyung. You not only deserve them, you need them.”

He lets go and Yoongi lowers his gaze. His vision is blurry, and yet he recognizes the shape he’s drawn in the notebook. A plant; a flower. A pot, that sits on his kitchen window; flowers that are blue in reality but black in the sketch.

“I really like him,” Yoongi says quietly, swallowing the tears. Swallowing the thought that comes next:

Which is why I’m too dangerous for him.

 


 

Jimin can’t stop thinking about it.

He can’t stop thinking about Yoongi. It’s a constant thing now; almost every minute he’s awake. Some deliciously enticing minutes when he’s asleep, too. When he wakes up, sweaty and hard in his shorts, with a whisper of a dream; Yoongi’s hands on him, Yoongi’s mouth on his own. When Jimin makes sure the blinds are closed before he wraps a hand around himself and gasps Yoongi’s name into his pillow.

He hasn’t talked to Yoongi since they left Jungkook’s place a few days ago. Jimin sees him through the window, not as often as before, but Yoongi is never looking in his direction. Sitting or writing or watching TV, or simply not there.

Their texting fizzled out, too. Yoongi hasn’t reached out, and Jimin doesn’t know what to say.

hey uh… good grind? I’d like to do it again sometime?

I think about you in the shower?

I want you to be okay and I don’t want to fuck this up

Though Jimin already feels like he fucked it up. He has no frame of reference for these things, no past experience to fall back on.

It’s just him and his thoughts. He’s running in circles, questioning himself, worrying, flipping through options… And no matter how much they’re trying to help, his plants honestly know nothing about human relationships. It took Jimin a good chunk of patience to explain that pollination is not a thing and that he can’t use it to attract a mate, or get… fertilised.

So he’s down to the only logical choice he has - to ask someone else. A human someone else.

On a pleasant September evening at his place, Jungkook and Taehyung are occupying Jimin’s sofa. Jungkook is holding his phone above his face, staring at it intently as he plays a game, and Taehyung is reading a self-help book. Jimin is on the floor, gathering courage. He idly moves around empty boxes of fried chicken on the coffee table, until he takes in a deep breath and starts,

“So. What do you tell someone you sort of… Um.” He feels a flush creeping up his neck. “Did some things with?”

Jungkook drops his phone on his face. Taehyung shuts his book with an audible thump.

They both turn to stare at him.

“What,” Taehyung deadpans.

Jimin winces; not regretting the question, but only now realizing that it’s a touch weird to talk about this with other people.

Jungkook props himself up on his elbows and tosses his phone into the sofa cushions. “Like what kind of things?”

“Like…” Jimin hesitates. “Like maybe…”

“Naked things?” Taehyung supplies.

“No! Not-”

“Kissing? Making out?”

“No, no kiss-”

“Hands?”

“Uh… More like…” Jimin makes a gesture, like fitting two parts together.

“Grinding? Clothed, but getting off?”

“Oh my god.” Jimin’s face is hot, tomato red, he's sure. He ducks his head and hides in his hands. “Clothed, yeah. Sort of grinding.”

“Were there… hard parts involved?” Taehyung asks. Jungkook snorts and Jimin wants to knock their dumb heads together, like coconuts.

“Some hard parts,” he answers anyway, voice indistinct.

“Wow,” Taehyung says. “You totally gave Yoongi-hyung a boner, didn’t you? Called it.”

Jimin hears the telltale sounds of Taehyung and Jungkook’s complicated handshake routine, and he drops his hands to glare at them. They’re grinning; obviously congratulating themselves.

He can’t believe them. “Is this another one of those times where I thought I was being low key about something, but you guys actually know everything?”

They stop in the middle of holding some sort of signs and exchange a look, and then shrug. “I guess, yeah,” Jungkook confirms.

“So… So it’s obvious that I have…” Jimin tries to describe what it is, that he feels. A crush. Infatuation. A desire for more. “It’s obvious that I like Yoongi-hyung?”

“Kind of?” Taehyung says. “At least to us. You- You’re very friendly and touchy with everyone. But then sometimes… You look at Yoongi-hyung. Even when someone else is talking, you look at Yoongi-hyung. And it’s like…” He waves his hands vaguely, failing to find the right description, when Jungkook cuts in,

“It’s like the world stops, for you.” He smiles a little, looking at the last of the fries in a box. “Like everything else slows down, and- and Yoongi-hyung is at the center.” Jungkook glances at Taehyung. “It’s actually… pretty cool to see.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung agrees. “To me it was sorta obvious things were heading in that direction when I came to the flower shop and you were all pouty about hyung’s music. Remember? When you asked me what he worked on?”

Jimin nods. He hadn’t realized it himself, then. In hindsight, it makes sense that now he’s here; wanting to see Yoongi, to tell him he’s cute, kiss him, maybe continue where they left off that morning. Jimin smiles to himself, still fiddling with the empty containers of food.

“And you guys are okay with it?” he asks, though he’s not sure why it matters.

“Why wouldn’t we be okay with it?” Jungkook asks.

Jimin shrugs. It’s probably that feeling, that need of his to be liked, accepted. If they had anything to say against his feelings for Yoongi, it would’ve been a pretty big blow to his confidence.

“I don’t know,” Jimin admits. “I have no idea what I’m doing. Or what I’m supposed to do.”

He likes Yoongi, and maybe he wants to do something about it, but he’s not sure how it works beyond the thousands of romantic movies he’s watched in his lifetime. He’s not sure if even Yoongi would want that. If Yoongi would want him, Jimin. A relationship, or whatever. There are way too many what ifs and maybes in his head.

“Jiminie.” Taehyung looks at him seriously. “Have you ever… been with someone? Dated?”

“Not really, no.” It’s not difficult to tell them this. Embarrassing to talk about details of that one horny morning maybe, but this is easy to say out loud.

“Have you ever kissed anyone?”

Jimin smiles ruefully, tearing out a corner of a cardboard box. “I did, actually. In high school… There was a girl. She, uh…” He swallows. It’s been a long time since he’s thought about that. The distance didn’t do anything to dilute the bitter taste in his mouth, even now. “It was like a dare. Or a bet, I don’t know. Get close to the f- ... To the weirdo. Date him for a few weeks, make him feel…” His fingers work on the cardboard, ripping it further. “Make him feel stupidly happy, because for the first time in his life someone outside his home paid attention to him, wanted to talk to him, to hang out-”

He feels himself getting worked up over it again, so he stops. Releases a breath and inhales a new, long one to calm down.

“The… The break up, if we could call it that, was very public. And very humiliating.”

Jimin’s parents were outraged, talking to the principal every day until the girl got suspended for her actions.

Jimin had begged them not to. He didn’t care about punishment or any consequences for her, or her friends who’d been in on it. He’d just wanted… to disappear. To not have to go out there, in the world, ever again.

He looks up. Taehyung’s eyes are wide, hurt and shocked, and Jungkook’s hands are in fists, his jaw tight in silent rage. Jimin wonders if Jungkook maybe has his own stories of ridicule and discrimination, similar to this one.

“So yeah,” Jimin concludes in the end, letting go of the disintegrated box, its small pieces falling to the coffee table. “I have kissed someone. A long time ago.”

Taehyung gets to his feet, rounds the table and kneels down next to Jimin, wrapping him up in a bear hug. Jimin laughs, leans into him and pats his arm. “It’s okay, Tae. It doesn’t matter now. I’m just-” He shrugs, as much as he can with Taehyung’s arms around him. “Hoping this time around is different.”

“If you ever need practice kissing or anything, I volunteer Jungkook,” Taehyung mumbles into his shoulder. “He’s great at it.”

Jungkook shuts his eyes and scrunches his nose, smiley and embarrassed, and Jimin laughs again. “That’s okay. Right now I’m just nervous about the things before the actual kissing.” He sighs, now fully sinking into Taehyung, who keeps them upright on the floor. “I don’t know what to say to Yoongi-hyung.”

“Has he said anything to you?” Jungkook asks.

“No. It’s been… quiet. More than usual. I think he might be avoiding me?”

“Yeah, so I wanted to say something, but then shit happened and I forgot about it,” Taehyung says, straightening up so he can talk properly, but not letting go. “Hyung is… a special cupcake.” Jimin fondly rolls his eyes as Taehyung continues, “He likes to think he’s an island. A lone wolf. Perfectly fine in his own little inky world.” He looks at Jimin. “But he’s not. He’s not the most social of people, sure, but spending so much time by himself, being isolated, is not good for him.”

“I figured,” Jimin says wryly, based on what he’s learned so far about Yoongi. Especially on what Pip had conveyed the other day, when Yoongi was asleep and Jimin was having tea in his apartment.

“He’s been… hurt.” Taehyung lowers his gaze. “In life in general, but this past year hasn’t been easy for him either. We do what we can, but…”

“He’s stubborn,” Jungkook says.

“Waaaaaay too stubborn.”

“So you’re saying that I shouldn’t do anything?” Jimin asks, doing his best to not sound disheartened.

“No!” Taehyung exclaims loud enough that Jimin pulls away, his left ear ringing. “Sorry, heh. I mean, you should. You absolutely should. You already got Yoongi-hyung to come to movie nights. And he moved back into his place! And he totally deserves cuddles and kisses and more boners.”

“...but?” Jimin senses a caution coming up.

“But. You should… go slow.” Jimin is reminded of Yoongi’s words, how he was quiet just before their energy meld; yeah, you could hurt me. so… go slow. The last thing Jimin wants is to hurt Yoongi. “Talk to him. Be…” Taehyung smiles, a little sadly. “Be kind to him.”

“Not that you’re not kind,” Jungkook adds quickly.

“No, I didn’t mean it like that-”

“Just that if I break Yoongi-hyung’s heart, one or both of you will break my face?” Jimin asks, half-joking, and the other two laugh.

Then the laughter dies down, and the silence that follows is somewhat strange. Strained.

“Maybe a little,” Taehyung confesses in the end, but hurries to add, “But the same goes for him! Look,” he brings up his hands to better gesticulate his point, “the bottom line is. You should go for it with Yoongi-hyung. If you want to. If you feel like he’d want to. And if there was grinding, he definitely wants to. Just, for the sake of both of you, be careful.”

“Be careful,” Jimin repeats. Go slow. Not like he can go fast anyway, when all of this is new territory for him. Unpredictable, unexplored… Yet exciting. He wants to give it a go. Wants to ask Yoongi out. Or make it clear that he’d like to ask him out. Jimin wants Yoongi to know just how into him he is. “Hey,” he says then, looking up at his friends. “How was your first date? I don’t think I’ve ever heard how you guys got together.”

“Well.” Jungkook sighs dejectedly, slouching in the sofa. “It included an ER.”

“What? Why?”

Taehyung grins. “Jungkookie broke my nose,” he says, with no small dose of pride.

“WHAT.”

 


 

jiminie
hey. going to joonie-hyung’s bday thing on tuesday?

yoongi-hyung
yeah
you?

jiminie
yeah
not sure what to get him

yoongi-hyung
beer
clothes
a brown onesie
for the love of god no books
soon he’ll be buried under them
we’ll find him only by the stench of his rotten corpse

jiminie
charming visual thanks

yoongi-hyung
I aim to please

jiminie
hey
hyung
you okay?

yoongi-hyung
yeah, am okay
you? 

jiminie
yeah 

yoongi-hyung
good
see you tuesday


 

Since Namjoon’s birthday falls at the start of a work week, they can’t really make a big thing of it. He does invite everyone over to his place for a small get-together and - after the drama surrounding Jungkook’s birthday - everyone welcomes it.

After some deliberating, Jimin orders a special batch of cupcakes, Ryan and Brown themed. Mrs. Kim had kindly informed him that she doesn’t do fancy fondant work like that (if only her grandson were here), but she had referred him to a cozy little white and yellow bakery which does.

When Jimin walks into Namjoon’s apartment with a colorful box of cupcakes, he’s met with Jungkook’s round eyes. The maknae is sitting on the edge of the sofa, alarmed and drained of color, and for a panicked second Jimin thinks something is wrong with his energy again.

But then Jungkook utters a quiet, “Hey.”

“Hey, Kook.” Jimin sets the box down on the coffee table, nudging away some ketchup-stained plates and empty mugs, and regards him with worry. “You okay?”

“I’m too young to die,” Jungkook says.

“I- What?”

“I’m only 22. I haven’t even traveled that much. Haven’t done all the things I wanted to do: no bungee jumping, no skydiving, no painting classes- Did you know I wanted to take painting classes?”

“Kook.” Jimin crouches in front of him, not sure where this is coming from. “What’s wrong?”

“Hyung is cooking.”

“Hyung is…?”

“Namjoon-hyung. In there.” Jungkook tilts his head towards the closed door of the kitchen. “Cooking dinner. For us.”

“Okay…?”

“He’s a genius. He knows so many things. He reads so fast. Speaks so well. He’s given me so much advice and helped me through so many things. I love him, and I respect him, but oh my god we’re going to die.”

And then Jimin remembers: how he’d been asked if he had a fire extinguisher. How Namjoon had nearly burned his bookstore down when he tried to make ramen in an electric kettle.

“You don’t get it,” Jungkook continues. “Even if everything goes right, if we somehow don’t get blown to pieces, the food he makes will be ined-”

Just then the kitchen door bursts open and Namjoon stumbles out, red-faced and sweaty, wearing an awfully familiar pink frilly apron. “Do you maybe know how to- Oh, hey, Jiminie.”

“Hyung!” Jimin immediately bounces up and grabs the cupcakes, mindful not to topple them over inside the box. “Happy birthday! I hope you eat these well, and that you have a rich and fulfilled year ahead of you-”

“Yeah, yeah, thanks, Jimin-ah, that’s really sweet,” Namjoon interrupts, accepting the cupcakes and distractedly patting Jimin through the hug. “Do either of you perhaps know how to unstick brown rice that’s not supposed to be brown from the bottom of a pot?”

Jimin turns around to look at Jungkook, wide-eyed, and Jungkook shrinks in his seat.

“We’re so dead."

 


 

 “I’m going to kill him,” Yoongi declares.

He marches from Namjoon’s kitchen to where Taehyung, Jungkook and Jimin are occupying the seating area. Yoongi snatches a bottle of beer from Jimin’s hand and downs it in 0.7 seconds. It was a relatively new beer, too; Jimin had maybe drank half of it.

Yoongi hands him the empty bottle, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “I’m done. I can’t. Not going back in there.”

He’s looking a little harried, a little crazed from spending fifteen minutes - ever since he’d arrived at Namjoon’s - in the kitchen, trying to undo Namjoon’s fuckups. To help him arrange a meal for the five of them.

“He has twelve recipes. Twelve. I don’t even know why he thought he’d be able to do everything on his own. He can’t even dice onions! I had to tell him to turn the knife over- You know what.” Yoongi frowns, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m getting a migraine just by thinking about it.”

“Hyung, oil is spitting all over!” Namjoon shouts from the kitchen.

“Turn down the heat!” Yoongi snaps back, then faces the other three. “Call Seokjin.”

“It’s early afternoon in Europe, he’s probably working-” Taehyung starts.

“Do I look like I give a fuck?” Yoongi is clearly not in the mood, and Jimin finds it hilarious.

“Aw, come on hyung, it’s nice that Joonie-hyung wanted to treat us-”

“I swear Jiminie. You’re cute, but you’re next on my shit list.” Jimin grins wider, even as he blushes at Yoongi directly calling him cute. Yoongi points a finger at Taehyung. “Get Jin-hyung on the phone before I stab Namjoon with a potato peeler.”

With that he whirls around, stomps back into the kitchen and slams the door behind him. Taehyung, Jungkook and Jimin exchange looks.

Taehyung sighs heavily, pulling out his phone. He calls Seokjin on Skype, and it rings and rings and rings, and he’s about to end it, thinking that Seokjin is probably too busy to talk, when the calls goes through.

“Taehyung-ah?” Seokjin shouts over the commotion behind him; rush of traffic, a honk in the distance. His camera is off, but he must be somewhere on the street.

“Hyung! We have an emergency!” Taehyung says.

“Oh? What- oh sorry, so sorry--” Sounds like Seokjin bumped into someone, and is apologizing to them in Korean. “What kind of an emergency?”

“Namjoon-hyung is cooking.”

“AGAIN?!” Seokjin practically screeches, causing the three listening to snicker. “I told him, I told him- ” He exhales sharply. “What’s he cooking?”

“No idea. It’s supposed to be a surprise. Yoongi-hyung is in there with him, and he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

“Oh god. Well, at least Yoongi is skilled enough to prevent any major disasters.”

“He threatened death by potato peeler.”

“I understand the sentiment. Listen,” Seokjin’s background is a little quieter now, like he’s moving away from the traffic, but there’s still a murmur of people around him. “I can’t really talk right now, but- uh… I’ll… I’ll call you back, okay?”

“Time is of the essence here!”

“I know, I know! Talk to you later!”

Seokjin ends the call, and the sufferers in the living room share a silent understanding that there’s no hope for them, or their dinner.

“We could order something!” Taehyung yells at the kitchen door.

“Yeah, or you could let us help, too!” Jungkook adds.

“I’m great at heating up stuff in the microwave!” Jimin generously offers.

“Jungkook is great at heating up microwaves!” Taehyung calls out and Jungkook elbows him.

The door opens, a pair of pale hands with tattoos around the wrists shove Namjoon out into the living room and close it again.

Namjoon looks stressed, expression like he’d seen far too much in the couple of hours he’d been preparing this meal, but he still manages to clasp his hands in front of his apron. “The dinner might be delayed by a half hour or so,” he says, voice forcefully calm. “We had to restart the sauce, because someone had mistakenly added baking soda instead of salt-”

“SOMEONE?!” Yoongi barks from the kitchen, and Namjoon winces.

“The jars are identical,” he explains. "Same fine white crystals, it was an honest mistake to make.”

Jimin gives him a sympathetic smile. “It’s okay, hyung, you take all the time you need,” he says, hoping to lift his spirits. “We’re not even that hungry.”

“Yeah, isn’t one beer equal to, like, two eggs or something?” Jungkook gestures with his bottle. “We’re good for a while.”

Namjoon heaves a sigh, runs a hand through his silvery hair. He pauses for a moment, like he’s bracing himself, and then shuffles back into the kitchen. Jimin shouts after him, “You can do it, hyung!” as encouragement.

Namjoon really wanted to do this for them; to make them happy, after everything they've been through. It’s not his fault he’s not the most skillful when it comes to cooking. Or hand-eye coordination. Or spatial orientation. Jimin has half a mind to get in there and make sure Yoongi isn’t complaining too much and making Namjoon feel even worse.

He almost says as much, when the doorbell rings.

Everyone goes quiet. Taehyung frowns at Jimin and Jungkook, muttering under his breath, “Jimin-ah, Kook, two hyungs in the kitchen…” He counts on his fingers. “Me… Are we expecting someone?”

The doorbell sounds again, more insistent, and Jungkook shrugs, sets his beer down and goes to answer the door.

Jimin instantly recognizes the newcomer - from pictures, the one brief video call they shared.

Kim Seokjin is standing at the threshold; there are shadows under his eyes, his comfortable clothes rumpled, dark hair disheveled - obviously with a long trip behind him - but somehow he’s still beautiful, his full lips and symmetric features making it impossible to look away from him.

Jungkook balks. “How far away is France from here?” he asks nobody in particular, before Seokjin grins. He smacks Jungkook on the arm, and immediately embraces him right after.

“Hyung! Jin-hyung!” Taehyung springs from his seat, leaps over the coffee table and joins in the hug, and everyone starts laughing.

Jimin rises to his feet as well, smoothing out his jeans and smiling, waiting for Seokjin to be released from the pile of eager puppies bouncing up and down in his arms.

“Nice to meet you in person, Seokjin-ssi,” Jimin says with a bow, and Seokjin nods.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know you more, Jimin-ssi.” Then he ushers everyone aside so he can properly come in, lugging a small carry-on suitcase behind him, and that’s around the time the door of the kitchen opens.

Namjoon steps out, frowning at the commotion, not understanding what’s going on, until his eyes land on Seokjin and his mouth falls open.

“Wow, when I said call him, I didn’t mean fucking teleport him from Paris,” Yoongi mutters behind Namjoon, but no one seems to hear him.

A silence follows, in which everyone waits for Namjoon’s reaction, for him to say something.

“You…” He starts, quiet and in awe, staring at Seokjin. “You’re here.” Jimin doesn’t remember ever seeing him so stunned, not even in the more terrifying situations they’ve been in together.

Seokjin’s smile is small, subdued, like something intimate shared only between him and Namjoon. He shrugs. “I didn’t know what to get you, for your birthday. And so I figured - what’s a better gift than seeing the most handsome person you’ve ever met - in person?”

Namjoon holds onto his mute surprise for only a second longer, before he starts laughing, his cheeks dimpling, and both he and Seokjin go in for a hug at the same time.

“Can’t believe you came, what the hell hyung,” Namjoon’s words are muffled by Seokjin’s cardigan as they wrap their arms around each other tightly.

And maybe Seokjin would have had a better answer, or another joke, but instead his smile vanishes and his eyes fly open where his face is half buried in Namjoon’s shoulder.

He takes a loud sniff. “Is something burning?”

“Oh shit."

 


 

 Seokjin is a wizard. Jimin has no other explanation for it. Not when he’s been previously told that, biology-wise, Seokjin is as human as Taehyung is.

So that only leaves magic. Real, unfathomable magic; not one which can be quantified with science, but one like in Harry Potter. Because how else could one man whip up a literal feast from the wreckage of Namjoon’s cooking in under half an hour, while at the same time being patient and gently guiding Namjoon through it, explaining why things didn’t turn out right and how he can do better next time.

The kitchen door is open the entire time they work, and Jungkook, Taehyung and Jimin somehow cram into the doorframe, unblinkingly following the entire process.

After, they eat - rather wolf down the colorful, mouthwatering food which Seokjin spreads out on the coffee table. Jimin opts to listen more than he talks, as everyone is eager to hear Seokjin’s tale of his two day journey and how a modelling agent offered him his card just as he was about to board one of his connecting flights.

Sometimes, Jimin steals glances at Yoongi. Subtly, when he’s sure - absolutely sure - that no one is looking. He watches Yoongi eat, and smile, and thinks about when he’ll have the opportunity to talk to him next.

 


 

They end up on the roof of Namjoon’s building. It’s a short structure, shielded by corporate skyscrapers of glass and steel on one side and not offering much of a view, except down into the alley. But it’s pleasant to be outside, to breathe in the fresh September air, finally free from the shackles of a hellish summer.

There’s alcohol, but they don’t drink much. After all, tomorrow's Wednesday.

Seokjin makes cocktails from soju and strawberry juice, ice and something that’s too sweet for Yoongi’s taste. (But it’s pink, so it’s exactly Seokjin’s taste.) Taehyung drinks two glasses of that through six straws at the same time, stands up and promptly blacks out. (Jungkook is quick to catch him though, and they end up laughing through Taehyung’s dizziness.)

Jimin is bright and loud, and Yoongi’s gaze lingers on him. Jimin laughs with his whole body, throwing himself at whoever is nearest, or falling off the plastic crate he’s perched on; genuine in his joy, so fucking beautiful… He squeaks sometimes too, and the squeaks are particularly devastating for Yoongi.

Yoongi tries to participate in the conversation; he hasn’t seen Seokjin in months, had only a few Skype calls with him. He does his best to follow Seokjin’s stories, to laugh at the right moments. He may not be in the greatest mind space at the moment, but it’s nice to sit here like this, together. Familiar. Like old times, just a couple of notches off-center.

When Seokjin and Jungkook start bickering over the peanuts - the only snack they brought up to the roof after dinner - Yoongi stands up and steps away.

He inhales deeply and leans his elbows on the railing, looking down at the deserted alley.

If it were any other night - if he were any other person - he’d stay back there, where Seokjin’s getting riled up and Jungkook is not backing down; where Taehyung is pulling out his phone to record the peanut war. Yoongi would sit beside Jimin, would make him laugh more and tease him. He’d make it obvious just how much - how fucking much - he wanted to kiss him.

Fuck.

Yoongi drops his head between his arms and glares at his sneakers, his jaw clenched. Fuck.

Let yourself have nice things, hyung.

Stupid Namjoon and his stupid advice and stupid fucking kindness.

Only Namjoon isn’t stupid. He is anything but stupid, and that’s what bothers Yoongi the most.

Because Yoongi can’t. There’s no way; he’s not doing that to Jimin. To anyone, ever again. He’s just not.

“Hey,” a voice says right next to him; Yoongi jumps, nearly tripping over himself.

Jimin giggles.

In the background, music starts playing, and Seokjin and Jungkook start posing for Taehyung - ridiculous shots involving bags of peanuts - but Jimin is here. Soft around the edges, cast in gold from the street lights below; fluffy hair and a gentle smile and a flannel blanket over his shoulders. It’s almost midnight, no longer warm enough for just a t-shirt.

Jimin leans onto the railing beside Yoongi and gazes across the alley. For a moment they don’t talk, the silence cut through by a sound not unlike windshield wipers screeching on dry glass - Seokjin’s laughter.

Jimin bursts out laughing too. “Jin-ssi is a lot of fun,” he says. “I was surprised he could out-eat Jungkook.”

Yoongi hums.

“There was a pie eating contest once,” he says. “Jin-hyung’s grandmother baked… Four? Five pies? She was practicing these new recipes he gave her. It was Taehyung’s idea to do it without hands or utensils.”

“Oh no.”

“Jungkook was in the lead. He almost finished his entire pie - covered in the filling up to his hairline - when we had to stop because Jin-hyung inhaled a piece of lemon meringue and started choking. That was… a weird 119 call.”

“Oh my god.” Jimin’s shoulders shake. “Almost killed by a lemon pie.”

“Yep. We take eating contests very seriously in this neighborhood.”

Jimin dips to the side, laughing without control, pressing his forehead into Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi fights his own smile, but Jimin’s happiness is contagious; his hair smells faintly of peaches.

The laughter slowly dissolves into the night, and Jimin straightens up again, calming down. Behind them, Taehyung is giving Namjoon instructions on how to throw peanuts at him for maximum chance of catching them with his mouth. Sounds like the first projectile hits Taehyung squarely in the eye.

“Why SOPE?” Jimin suddenly asks.

“Hm?”

“Why SOPE?” he repeats, looking in the direction of the tattoo shop in the building next to them. “What does it mean?”

“It’s…” Yoongi swallows. “I have several pseudonyms, as a producer, you know that.”

“Mhm.”

“And one of them is Suga.”

“The one you’re famous for,” Jimin notes, and Yoongi snorts.

“Famous is too big a word. Just. The one which brought me the most cash, fortunately.” He scratches behind his ear - a nervous tick he can’t suppress when he’s talking about things he usually doesn’t talk about. Things he tries not to think about, either. “Hobi, the co-owner of the shop - he liked to call himself our… hope. It was a little dumb, maybe, but also a lot true.” Yoongi forces out an exhale, forces himself not to stumble over the fact that Hoseok isn’t here anymore. “J Hope, because of his family name? And so…”

“So…” Jimin trails off, connecting the dots. “Suga. Hope. SOPE. Whoa…”

“Yeah.”

“Never would’ve guessed. I thought it had something to do with the English word ‘soap’. Dunno why.”

Yoongi smiles. He finds comfort in Jimin’s closeness, in how endearing he is, and they fall into companionable silence again. There are whooshing noises in the background, like someone imitating a plane, and the others laughing.

“Do you miss him?” Jimin asks then. Tentatively, like he’s afraid of how Yoongi will respond. “Hoseok-ssi, do you miss him?”

“Yes,” Yoongi replies without pause. It shouldn’t even be a question. Of course he misses Hoseok. “He’s… He was my best friend.”

“You don’t talk to him?”

“No.” Yoongi looks down at his hands, clasped together over the fence. “I don’t think he wants to talk to me.” And he shouldn’t. Hoseok should stay as far away from Yoongi as he can, for his own sake.

“But you don’t know for sure.”

“Well if he wanted to talk to me, he would’ve at least texted by now, wouldn’t he?” Yoongi doesn’t mean to sound callous. Scorned, like a teenager in a high school drama. He instantly regrets it, frowning and muttering out a, “Sorry.” He’s grateful that Jimin doesn’t walk away.

“It’s not that simple,” Jimin says gently. “He could be thinking the same thing. That if you wanted to talk to him, you’d contact him.”

And Yoongi has almost done it, so many times. Picked up his phone. Typed out words that might've meant something.

I’m sorry

I wish I could undo it

Please don’t hate me

Please come back

Every time he’d tap out, chicken out, because- Because he thinks about what he’d done and wants to run away. Wants to leave this city, this place and these people and never look back. Maybe then he’d forget. Maybe then, it would hurt less.

“So, if you could talk to him…” Jimin says. “If you knew he would listen. What would you say?”

Yoongi thinks about it. About those almost-messages, where they would go and what Hoseok would say, if he’d say anything. Yoongi thinks how terrified he is that all he’d get in return is silence. That would be even worse than this… limbo he's stuck in.

“I don’t know,” he says. “I’d… apologize. I’d ask him if he was still angry at me. If he was…” Yoongi feels a tightness in his chest, in his throat. He closes his eyes, focusing on how Jimin’s body is warm at his side; how Jimin patiently waits for him to finish. “If he was still scared. I don’t want- Fuck. I don’t want him to be scared of me.”

Jimin’s hand wraps around the back of Yoongi's hoodie and holds tight; reassuring. Yoongi wants to turn, to bury his face in Jimin’s neck, to breathe him in…

“That’s a lot of things to say,” Jimin whispers.

“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees over the lump in his throat. “It is.”

“Maybe you could start with something… easier? Something like… How about a hi?”

Yoongi opens his eyes. “A hi? ” It sounds so trivial. So mind-numbingly mundane.

“Don’t all conversations start like that? Hi, how are you, it’s been a while. Work your way up to the heavy things.”

“A hi.” One word, a simple hello. And yet, Yoongi’s heart hammers in fear of not getting a reply. What if Hoseok doesn’t want to hear even that from him? He glances at Jimin. “Is everything that simple to you, Park Jimin?”

Jimin smiles. That smile, the bright one, which warms Yoongi down to his very core. “No. But it’s simpler when you start at the beginning. Baby steps.”

Yoongi returns the smile. Jimin’s hand is still on the back of his hoodie, and Jimin is close, in his space, eyes big and mesmerizing.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers, and leans in a fraction; just enough for Yoongi to forget to breathe. “Last time, at Jungkook’s… I..." It's thick, this pull between them, intoxicating. "I wanted…” Jimin's words fade; he doesn’t say what he wanted, but his gaze moves down to Yoongi’s lips, fuck fuck-

“Yeah,” Yoongi whispers back. “I know.” He knows because that’s all he thinks about, because Jimin’s lips are here now, too, plush and inviting-

Yoongi uses every drop of inner strength he has left to turn away. He doesn’t move out of Jimin’s grasp, just breaks the moment. Eases the tension between them, though it still ripples, heavy and expecting.

Jimin exhales audibly. He takes a moment, maybe to regroup, maybe to make a decision if he’s stepping away or not.

But then Yoongi feels half of a blanket drape over his shoulders; Jimin nestles closer to him, sharing the warmth. They don’t speak anymore, just look out into the dark, at Jungkook’s building and his repair shop.

Taehyung is fake singing, something entirely too loud and screechy, and Seokjin has joined in, and Yoongi bites the inside of his cheek.

He should say no. He should suck it up and say no, reject this- Reject this what feels so good and so right and what he craves for.

He has to protect himself. To protect Jimin, above all.

But, as Yoongi’s tattoos race underneath his long sleeves, chaotic and unbridled like his emotions - he already feels like he’s failed.

 

Chapter Text

There’s a spinning move that Jimin practices over and over again. He spins and spins until he loses focus and can’t keep his eyes fixed on one spot anymore. He gets woozy and staggers to the side, but another dancer in his group steadies him; they laugh together.

It’s good to dance. Jimin loves it. Loves to feel free and aware of his body, of what it can do.

He returns home from dance class exhausted but happy, takes a shower and goes through his bedtime routine - keeping it as short as possible - and pretty much passes out the moment he crawls into bed.

So, when he hears it at first, Jimin isn’t sure if he’s dreaming or not.

Like from a distance, it's a melody. Somber and drawn out… One heavy note ringing out, and then another.

Jimin squints his eyes open, half-buried in his sheets, the view of his open window coming into focus. A sliver of the sky outside, above the buildings - brighter, steely blue, almost at sunrise.

And the melody still plays.

Maybe playing is an exaggeration. Jimin pushes himself up to sit, trying to make sense of it. It’s not playing; it’s slow and hesitant, like it’s trying to remember its next note. Like it’s trying to reconstruct itself.

Jimin glances at the bedside table, where he just faintly makes out the shape of his phone in near darkness. Not blinking; no missed calls or messages.

So he stands up, comes closer to the window and leans on the ledge, looking out.

The alley is empty. All the shop and apartment windows are dark. Jimin knows that the Kims start work in their bakery this early, but the music isn’t coming from the corner.

No, it takes time for him to discern - his foggy mind clearing up - that it’s coming from up ahead. From Yoongi’s apartment.

Jimin listens, and realizes that Yoongi is playing the piano.

A deep, soulful note, sad, lingering for the longest moment before the next one follows. As though they won’t meet each other at all; as though the last note will fade before another one arrives and they won’t touch; won’t connect.

It’s not music so much as it’s a feeling. Jimin’s heart is heavy, full, the sound tugging at its strings, speaking of hurt and loneliness.

He doesn’t actually see Yoongi; just a shapeless form right on the other side of the window, where the piano chair would be.

Yoongi plays, plays, feeling out the keys, and Jimin doesn’t walk away. He can’t. He doesn’t know how.

Gradually, it gets lighter outside. Dawn breaks and the traffic of the avenue rumbles to life, though their street still remains tucked in; safely sheltered from the hubbub for a minute or two longer.

In the advancing morning, Jimin sees more clearly. Sees Yoongi, and his white shirt, and his tattoos and how Yoongi doesn’t watch his hands as he plays. He’s not reading sheet music either; just keeping his head bowed, tilting it towards the sounds.

The melody never builds up, or gains speed or changes rhythm. It’s always the same; this sorrowful, desolate thing that envelops Jimin, crawls under his skin and makes him want to cry.

Yoongi is playing, he’s playing his piano, he’s-

The last, final note hovers in the air. No new ones come after. Yoongi stays seated, his chin to his chest, shoulders down.

Hyung, don’t be sad.

Hyung, you’re amazing.

Yoongi.

I’m falling in love with you.

In love, in love, holy shit, in love- Jimin’s pulse races, he bites his lip, and Yoongi stands up.

When he stops at the window, Jimin doesn’t even have time to consider ducking down - not in this whirlwind of emotions, not at this hour. Yoongi looks at him, sees him, and his expression is… fragile. Drained, like he’s tired from feeling whatever he’s feeling, tired of being this sad. God, he’s beautiful and sad and he needs someone; Jimin wants to be that someone...

“Hyung,” he whispers, though Yoongi can’t hear. Jimin has never wanted to be over there more, never felt a stronger urge to touch and to embrace and kiss and to-

I’m falling in love with you.

He laughs at the ridiculousness of it, taken off guard by this revelation, so suddenly, randomly, woken up by piano melodies…

Jimin doesn’t wait. He snatches his phone off the nightstand and- and doesn’t know what to write.

Ideas rush through his head, each one more idiotic than the next - he’s not going to confess over a text, not really, even though Yoongi knows; even though there’s this thing between them. Why is it so complicated, why haven’t they kissed yet, why is Yoongi so talented and so dark and frustrating-

Jimin’s fingers move of their own accord, and he hits send before he can rethink it.

jiminie
I’m here, hyung

When he looks up again, Yoongi is gone from the window. From the living room.

“Fuck.”

But then Jimin’s phone buzzes with a reply.

yoongi-hyung
thank you jiminie

Thank you for what. What does that mean. Is that a yes or a no, is that a gladthat you’re here for me or please leave me alone-

Jimin exhales loudly, mentally stopping himself from flushing his phone down the toilet. He decides he’s had more than enough sleep. Work is almost starting anyway.

 


 

“I did not agree to this!” Yoongi shouts from down the hallway.

“I do not care~” Seokjin singsongs, completely unbothered.

They’re in Namjoon’s apartment without Namjoon, who is finishing up some work in the bookstore downstairs.

In the few days Seokjin has been here, Namjoon’s place has gone through a renaissance. Though previously it wasn’t actually dirty - much - now everything is in its place. All the books have been neatly stacked on the shelves, underneath the creepy figurines, arranged by genre and the alphabet it seems; there are no used mugs, no dishes or stray ketchup bottles anywhere. In fact, every surface is clean, uncluttered, and there is even a small glass bowl of chocolate candy on the coffee table.

Jimin doesn’t like to presume, but he has a distinct feeling this is all thanks to Seokjin. He’s not sure if Seokjin did it himself, however, or - more likely, Namjoon didn’t want Seokjin to have to stay in the chaos that was his previous living situation. Though Seokjin does have parents, and grandparents, and other people he spends time with, and though he doesn’t actually live at Namjoon’s, it seems as though his presence has unexpectedly infused some organization into his friend’s life. Boyfriend’s? Potential boyfriend’s?

Jimin is still not clear on that. Neither is anyone else, it seems like.

“What the hell- this is fluffy!” Yoongi groans from the direction of Namjoon’s bedroom.

Seokjin grins. “You promised~”

He and Taehyung are sharing the lazy bag - which is fit to burst under their combined weight - and are looking at something on Taehyung’s phone, while Jimin has the sofa to himself, idly scrolling through his own feeds.

He doesn't know why he’s here, only that Taehyung texted him a short time ago. Jungkook is still working, and Yoongi is… Jimin hasn’t seen him since he came in. He’s in the bedroom, doing something and loudly complaining about it.

“I didn’t fucking promise anything.”

“You promised,” Seokjin insists, not taking his eyes off of Taehyung’s screen. “I asked you, Yoongi-yah, will you do this for hyung? As my present before I have to leave again? And you said, sure. And I asked, promise? And-”

“I thought you wanted food!” Yoongi cuts him off. “You always want food, how was I supposed to know that you wanted to go clubbing.”

“Clubbing?” Jimin looks at the other two.

Seokjin’s eyes travel over to Taehyung. “You didn’t tell Jimin?”

Taehyung is still typing away, but his eyebrows shoot up. “Oh yeah! Jiminie, do you want to go out with us this weekend?”

Seokjin flicks him upon the head, then turns to Jimin. “Yes, so, as my farewell party-”

“-you already had a farewell party a year ago!” Yoongi shouts.

“-my second farewell party, I decided that I wanted to mix things up. It’s been ages since we all went out and got drunk, and danced-”

“-Kook asks if you’re even allowed to go to the club anymore,” Taehyung interrupts, reading off his screen. “He’s sure they must have an upper age limit. No Geriatrics Allowed.

Jimin snorts as Seokjin shouts, “Yah, Jungkook-ah!” as though Jungkook can hear him, and then seizes the phone, “Little shit,” and starts furiously typing in reply.

“So, clubbing? Cocktails? Gyrating on the dance floor?” Taehyung wiggles his hips at the last one, wiggling Seokjin and the lazy bag at the same time.

“I… Sure, I guess.”

Jimin has never been to a club; never really partied, like people their age do. Though he’s open to try it - alcohol and dancing sound just like his type of a good time, and he could use some of that right about now.

That’s when they hear footsteps from down the hallway, getting closer, until Yoongi emerges into the living room.

“I hate this,” he mutters, glaring daggers at Seokjin.

Oh, but Jimin - Jimin doesn’t hate it at all. He barely suppresses a wow falling from his lips as he takes in Yoongi’s appearance.

Because Yoongi isn’t wearing his standard outfit anymore. No oversized hoodie hiding his frame, cascading in folds over his thighs, no threadbare black jeans which have been worn and washed god knows how many times.

This is a shirt. Black, yes, a simple button-up with long sleeves, but fitted in the waist; the first button undone, revealing a peek of smooth, pale skin. Black slacks, ironed and tailored, a simple silver belt buckle. It’s- It’s Yoongi, but an elegant, stunning Yoongi, so polished and-

“Well, what do you know,” Seokjin muses, tossing Taehyung his phone back. “I’ve still got it.”

He tries to get out of the lazy bag, but it’s difficult with another person in it. Seokjin shoves an elbow into Taehyung’s stomach, apologizes for it, leans over to the other side to somehow crawl out, ends up falling flat on his face. Then he lifts himself up to hands and knees and, finally, stands up.

“Okay, wow, never doing that again,” he says, red in the face, and then eyes Yoongi critically, coming closer. “Huh. It’s not a perfect fit… But at least you look like a person.”

“A fucking drop dead gorgeous person,” Taehyung adds. He has his phone lifted, recording how Seokjin circles Yoongi like a fashion expert vulture, and Yoongi largely looking like his soul is leaving his body.

“I’m not going out like this,” Yoongi says.

“It’s black, but I sort of figured you’d go for that, out of everything I laid out for you,” Seokjin says, pinching at the shirt where it’s tucked into the slacks.

“I’m not going out, period.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Kookie asks if Yoongi-hyung is okay and says if he needs a spare hoodie he’ll bring it to him,” Taehyung says. He’s still filming, possibly live streaming for Jungkook’s enjoyment.

“I need my dignity back,” Yoongi deadpans into the phone camera, and Seokjin rolls his eyes.

“Stop being so dramatic. You look great. We’re going out, all of us, and they won’t let you in in that godawful sweatshirt you’ve been wearing since forever.” Seokjin takes a step back, nods to himself, then seems to remember there’s a fourth person in the room with them. “Jimin-ah? What do you think?”

Jimin might have, somewhere between gaping at the hint of Yoongi’s collarbones and how the crisp black sleeves wrap around his slender wrists, forgotten how words work.

“I-” he starts intelligently, then swallows. “It’s- Um. You…” Yoongi is slim; he is barely on this side of skinny, but he’s- Sharp and kind of badass and something Jimin wants to feast on, breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Uh.”

Seokjin smiles knowingly. “That settles it then,” he says, patting Yoongi on the shoulder. “You’re wearing this.”

Yoongi meets Jimin’s eyes, and Jimin promptly looks away, his cheeks warm. He’s not willing to decipher Yoongi’s expression, his own tangled feelings, or whatever will come out of this mess in the end.

“Now, if you could just throw on the white sweater?” Seokjin asks. “I promised Joonie I’d snap a pic of you in-”

“Over my dead body,” Yoongi growls and stomps back into the bedroom.

 


 

Seokjin’s powers of persuasion - and blackmail - are unparalleled, however, as Yoongi does end up wearing the sweater. It’s snow-white, soft and fluffy, and Taehyung lets out a squeal of delight when Yoongi comes back into the living room.

“It’s so FLUFFY!” Taehyung exclaims, running his hands over Yoongi’s arm and back, sinking his fingers into the feathery sweater.

Jimin can’t stop laughing. He snaps dozens of pictures of Yoongi ready to expire while dressed as the softest, most adorable marshmallow ever.

“Are you done?” Yoongi asks flatly, suffering as Taehyung leans in and rubs his cheek over his shoulder.

“You’re so cute, hyung,” Jimin says. He’s looking at Yoongi through the camera, and despite everything can’t suppress the twinge of pride at how Yoongi’s ears turn pink.

“I’m sweating and whose ever sweater this is will start to rank in about three seconds,” he says; Taehyung finally releases him.

“Send the pics to Joonie,” Seokjin tells Jimin, and just as Jimin is about to shoot the pics to Namjoon in the chat, the door of the apartment opens and Namjoon himself walks in.

“Oh, good, you’re all here, because I’m starv-” His gaze falls on Yoongi in the fluffy white sweater, and Namjoon purses his lips. “H-hey, hyung,” he says, voice strained with the force of holding back laughter. Jimin is already giggling and Yoongi looks like he’s gearing up for murder again. “Looking, uh… Looking…” He waves a hand at Yoongi. “As downy and as preciously vulnerable as a baby chick,” Namjoon recites with a flourish.

Seokjin’s windshield-wipers laugh echoes in the living room.

“I need new friends,” Yoongi mutters, turning back to Namjoon’s bedroom to change.

 


 

TaeTae
cmon princess

Kookie
we’re all waiting for you
for a change

that was sarcasm btw
you’re late

Jimin ignores the incoming texts and looks himself over in the mirror, one last time before he heads out.

Skin-tight black jeans, a lightweight, flowy white top, sitting low on his collarbones. Easy. Appropriate, he hopes. He had added shadow to his eyelids, just a hint of dark smoke, and he thinks… He thinks he looks good. 

He’s not sure why he’s nervous. It’s just a night out with his friends. The people he knows; people who have done plenty of dumb things in his presence, and who will look out for him. As he will look out for them.

Jimin can’t pinpoint the reason this particular outing feels so… momentous, somehow.

Finally, after about 10 more texts, he gathers his phone, his money and his keys and steps out into a fresh September evening. They had agreed to meet by the bakery at the corner, and it’s not a surprise that everyone is already there.

Seokjin is on the phone, calling for two cabs; he and Namjoon are looking sharp in waistcoats and ties - Seokjin in grey and patterned, Namjoon in impeccable and black. Taehyung and Jungkook are sharing a bottle of soju, Jungkook playfully tugging on Taehyung’s shirt - flamingo patterned, a mix of an artistic dress shirt and a pajama top, though it weirdly works, complete with Taehyung’s dangly earring in one ear. And Jungkook is… Jungkook. In a white t-shirt, black ripped jeans. Piercings.

Yoongi hangs back, effortlessly cool in the outfit Jimin had already seen him in - only this time there are thin silver chains around his neck, a silver bracelet around his wrist; he has never looked better and Jimin wishes the others would share that alcohol so he would have something to do while they wait.

“Okay, I got two cars - nice of you to finally join us, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin nods with a smile, pocketing his phone. “Remember that you can’t bring any drinks to the club, so-”

Before he even finishes the sentence, Jungkook tips the nearly empty bottle and downs the rest of the soju in one go.

“Babe, you’re great, but if you pass out there’s no way we’re hauling your heavy ass back here,” Taehyung says, making Jungkook grin as he tosses the bottle in the designated dumpster by the buildings.

There’s a commotion as the cars arrive, stopping by the curb of the boulevard, and they walk a short distance in an intense discussion of who’s going where, and Jimin almost doesn't register it.

Almost doesn’t hear the quiet, “You look good, Jiminie,” behind him.

He turns as Jungkook pulls him by the shirt, but Yoongi is already heading towards the other car, and then Jimin has to yank back at the last second to not smack his head on the roof of the cab he’s being dragged into.

 


 

He doesn’t remember the last time he saw so many people in one place.

Scratch that, so many people who are sparkling in one place. There seems to be glitter everywhere. On shoes, clothes, purses, lips, in hair… But also there are staggeringly high heels, sleek belts, trimmed undercuts, guys in jackets with sleeves cut off, showing off their buff arms-

Seokjin herds the five of them along the hectic street - the aorta of the city’s nightlife, it feels like - past large neon signs, bouncers the size of Jimin’s wardrobe, and lines and lines of people waiting to get into the hottest clubs of the season.

Taehyung nearly gets separated two times when his attention gets caught by something shiny - and here everything is shiny - but Seokjin pulls him by the sleeve of his shirt at the last second. Once, Namjoon just suddenly stops and bends over to tie his shoelaces, causing Yoongi to stumble over him, and Jungkook to barely manage to stop Yoongi from faceplanting on the concrete.

Finally, they arrive at what is called Contrast - as the big flashing letters above the doors declare. Instead of taking their place up in the neat queue, Seokjin guides them to the front; the bouncer in charge of admittance seems to recognize him - Seokjin smiles and exchanges a few words with him.

“So, Jin-ssi has…” Jimin frowns, trying to find the right word. “Connections?”

Taehyung laughs. “Kind of, yeah. He used to be a model, in uni. Part-time, but for some big brands,” he explains as the bouncer waves them in, and they step inside a large, carpeted foyer. “Places like these used to fight over him, trying to get him into their establishment so he would draw in more crowds. It’s nothing like it today, of course, but he still knows some people.”

“The power of this face is limitless,” Seokjin says, gesturing at his head, and everyone laughs, getting stamped on their hands, and walking past the coat check.

Before they enter the main area, Jimin already hears the bass. Feels it; in the floor, in his chest. Already itches to move to it.

Then Namjoon pushes the double doors open, and they get engulfed by the party.

The music is deafening; the entire ground floor of the club reserved for the dance floor; it’s packed, throngs of people squeezed in the center and rhythmically swaying to the beat. Jimin counts three bars on three different sides, long and gleaming, with a mind-numbing selection of bottles behind them.

He grabs Namjoon by the back of his jacket, someone grabs Jimin’s shirt behind him, and they weave through the crowd, presumably on their way to a table. Seokjin had mentioned something about a reservation.

There is a gallery overlooking the dance floor, and winding metal staircases leading up to it. Seokjin goes first, and everyone follows, and it’s a bit quieter when they get up there. Just barely for a decent conversation.

A booth waits for them in a corner; a circular purple couch around a table, where all of them can slide in and spread out comfortably.

It’s in the moment they all take a seat, when Jimin brushes his hair away from his eyes, already needing a drink, that they realize Taehyung has gone missing.

“Ah, dammit,” Seokjin curses, banging his head on the table.

 


 

“Watch this, watch this,” Jungkook says, laughing like a kid.

Jimin looks over the railing of the gallery, with a great vantage point of the entire floor, specifically of the DJ standing at his giant mixer, jamming to the music.

Jungkook touches an LED light on the wall next to them, and in two seconds the song changes. No transition, no build up - the clubbers pause in confusion, maybe questioning the DJ’s skills, before they continue on dancing to the new beat, and the DJ gapes at his mixer.

Jungkook snickers, and Jimin can’t resist either, even though what Jungkook is doing is very much illegal.

They had some shots. Jimin doesn’t know the name of them, but they were green and he had two. Now he’s warm from the inside, pleasantly so; limber and dying to get down there.

He grabs Jungkook’s hand and heads down the stairs, not even hearing if Jungkook is saying anything. The music is entirely too loud, too catchy - Jimin moves to the rhythm before he even gets to the dance floor.

They walk into the feverish crowd, raising their arms, shouting the lyrics; Jungkook follows Jimin’s lead without effort - he’s a good dancer, fluid and free and excited and it’s making Jimin smile incredibly wide.

The energy around them is similar to that in Jimin’s dance studio, but amped up; rippling through dozens, hundreds of people, all screaming, swaying, showing off under the flashing lights and laser beams.

At one point Jimin recognizes the bright pink flamingos of Taehyung’s shirt beside them, and tugs at it. Taehyung turns, his grin big and boxy, giving Jimin a hug as though he just sees him for the first time. Jimin doesn’t understand a thing, but Taehyung tries to talk to him anyway, yelling unintelligibly about where he's gone off to, gesturing to the group of people he's dancing with.

It’s comprised of several women, all made up and smiling; one of them is wearing a plastic tiara and a short veil, and Jimin gathers that this is her bachelorette party - but when he looks at Taehyung to confirm, he and Jungkook are making out, Taehyung’s hands gripping hard underneath Jungkook’s shirt.

So Jimin continues dancing with the ladies, and the other two join them when they finally break apart.

It’s several songs more before the future bride pulls in a girl from her group and kisses her passionately, and Jimin realizes, judging by the tiny white bouquet of fake flowers the girl is holding - that they are actually marrying each other.

He has never let loose like this. It feels so good, so exhilarating to dance, and scream, and be so carefree.

Taehyung is dancing half seriously and half like a disjointed marionette, and then the serious falls away completely once Seokjin joins them. Silliness ensues - jerky robots and uncoordinated waves and even a Magic Mike impersonation from Seokjin as he unbuttons his waistcoat and does a slut drop, and all the girls whistle at him. Or Jimin assumes they’re whistling, because he can’t hear it over the music.

Jimin’s stomach hurts from laughing so much; he throws his head back, looks up at the ceiling, at the gallery, and-- and he spots Yoongi.

Above them, through the strobe lights and artificial smoke, Yoongi is leaning over the gallery railing with a drink in his hand. Watching them. No, watching Jimin.

It’s concerning - it should be concerning - how fast Jimin’s giddiness gives way to something else; something entirely too heavy and molten, taking his breath away. Yoongi is watching him. Yoongi’s lip is caught between his teeth, and he’s been watching Jimin this whole time, while Jimin danced, and clapped and burst out laughing.

Yoongi is looking at him now, too; he smiles, slow and lazy, and Jimin thinks he’s had enough of dancing.

He gestures to the others that he has to take a break, get a drink, but most of them are occupied by encouraging Seokjin to do the moonwalk.

So he pushes through the sea of people, gets to one of the long, busy bars and flags down a bartender for a bottle of water. Then he makes his way towards a staircase, drinking generously from the bottle as he goes up.

As he thinks.

But he can’t think.

Jimin is out of breath, happy and danced out, his hair damp, white shirt clinging to his back. His mind is on Yoongi, and how Yoongi looks in that black outfit; how Jimin wants to feel him, over that shirt - over those pants - wants to tell him and show him-

Fuck.

Jimin finishes off his water, discarding the bottle on the nearest surface, and comes to stand next to Yoongi.

Yoongi doesn’t acknowledge him; elbows on the gallery wall, he keeps fiddling with his tumbler of something amber colored. Jimin watches his hands - long fingers tracing the edge of the glass, catching droplets of condensation.

He wants those hands on him. Jesus. Yoongi is looking down at his drink, but Jimin is burning from the inside out.

He leans in to speak, nudges against Yoongi’s shoulder. “You watched me dance,” he says over the music. He’s determined and bold, those shots from earlier giving him courage. “You liked it.”

He expects Yoongi to shrug him off, to walk away-

“Yes,” Yoongi says, not a trace of mockery in his reply. He brings his glass up, finishes the entire drink in one quick go and leaves it on a high table right next to them. Then he looks up, holds Jimin’s gaze. “I liked it.”

Jimin doesn’t have a reply. Yoongi’s eyes are dark, intense, he liked it-

Shit, Jimin liked it, too. The idea of it, being Yoongi’s focus, the center of his attention…

There’s little space between them, and then slowly, gradually, there’s no space between them. Jimin bridges the gap; he doesn’t want to rush, but he needs something, anything-

“Yoongi…” he whispers, lips just shy of the side of Yoongi’s face. Jimin closes his eyes, feeling Yoongi’s warm body against his own. “Hyung.”

There’s lights and bass and madness around them, but Jimin hears only the heavy thuds of his heart. He knows this, only this intimacy between them, this tension that will snap, or Jimin will snap-

He can’t wait any more. He can’t take it; he will explode, he will smash all the glasses in this place if he doesn’t- He has to, he can’t wait-

Gently, breaths coming up shaky, Jimin nuzzles into Yoongi; his dry lips brush over Yoongi’s skin. A light kiss to Yoongi’s cheek, one more to the corner of his lips - Jimin’s hand comes to rest above Yoongi’s belt - and then Jimin kisses him. Presses their lips together, carefully, not going for anything more.

And for a second, everything is still.

For a second, Jimin even thinks it’s okay.

But then his mind catches up. With dawning horror, he realizes that Yoongi has gone rigid under his touch. That he isn’t reciprocating, isn’t moving, isn’t doing anything-

Jimin pulls away immediately; he lets go, takes a step back. “Hyung-”

Yoongi is staring at him, wide eyed. Frozen.

“I-” Jimin doesn’t know what to say. What to do. He’s not sure he’s even breathing. Like someone had punched him in the gut, had yanked the carpet out from under him-

He took it too far. He moved too fast, too soon, he didn’t even ask. They didn’t even talk about it-

Before Jimin has time to fully grasp the situation, to even begin to understand what the fuck he’d just done, Yoongi darts past him and down the nearest staircase.

“Hyung!” Jimin scrambles after him, an iron grip on his heart. “Yoongi-hyung!”

But Yoongi is weirdly fast when he wants to escape, already diving into the mass of people on the dance floor.

Fuckfuckfuck-

Jimin struggles to keep up, shoving through the bodies, shouting apologies here and there, trying like hell not to lose sight of Yoongi. He somehow makes it out the other side of the dance floor without getting elbowed in the face, but Yoongi is already halfway to the entrance.

“Hyung!” Jimin yells, though Yoongi can’t hear him. “Hyung, wait!”

Yoongi doesn’t stop. Doesn’t look back. He runs straight through the entrance hallway, past the coat check, then leans on the door with all his weight and bursts outside. Jimin follows without hesitation.

The chill of the night pierces his heated skin, and he whirls around, searching for Yoongi until he spots him to the right.

“HYUNG!” Jimin shouts in the street. Bouncers, passersby, people in the queue stare at him, but Jimin doesn’t care. “I’M SORRY! I WAS WRONG!”

But Yoongi keeps running and fuck, Jimin will keep chasing after him.

“Hyung! Please! I made a mistake!”

It must be after midnight, but the street is still buzzing with people going in and out of clubs - girls poised in their stilettos, drunken groups of guys singing loudly.

“Yoongi please stop!” Jimin begs, his voice cracking, narrowly avoiding bodily slamming into a couple heading for a taxi. Yoongi rounds a corner, and Jimin follows suit, already looking for a free cab in case Yoongi decides to jump into one.

But there are no cabs around the corner. There isn’t much of anything around the corner. Jimin makes a turn at the side of the building and finds himself at a dead end.

A blind alley - narrow, short and grimy - and Yoongi without anywhere to go. He is doubled over further up by the dumpsters, half-hidden by the darkness.

Jimin gulps in air, panicked and shivering. He wants to say so much at once, his mind racing, words fighting to pour out. “I- I shouldn’t have- I’m sorry,” he manages between heaving breaths. Spots twinkle in his vision. “Please, hyung, just- just forget about it. It’s not- It’s not important. Fuck. Fuck. ” He runs a hand through his hair, still unable to comprehend the enormity of his screw-up.

Go slow, Taehyung had explicitly told him to go slow. This isn't slow. This isn't- FUCK.

“I thought-” Jimin continues, gaze sliding over the stained brick walls on either side of them. “I like you, Yoongi-hyung,” he says, though he never imagined saying it out loud like this. Here. Now. “Like, I have feelings for you. And I thought- I thought you also…” He winces, unable to say it. “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

In front of him, Yoongi straightens up. His breathing seems to have calmed a bit, like Jimin’s, tough Jimin only sees the back of him.

"Please-"

“You weren’t wrong,” Yoongi says.

“What?”

Yoongi turns. What little remains of street lights in the alley cast shadows across his face, making him serious and… hurt. No, Yoongi can’t hurt, not because of-

“Hyung-” Jimin starts, taking a step forward, but Yoongi cuts him off.

“You’re not wrong."

And then Yoongi closes the distance between them. He surges forward, cups Jimin’s face with his hands and crushes their lips together.

Jimin lets out a sound of surprise; grabs fistfuls of Yoongi’s shirt to steady himself, to steady them both. He has about two seconds to get his bearings, to realize what’s happening - Yoongi’s lips, firmly pressed to his own - Yoongi’s hands on his face - Yoongi kissing him.

Then Jimin kisses back without restraint. It’s instinct, more than anything. That need, to get closer, to pull Yoongi in more, to taste him better - Yoongi’s lips, wet and slick and pliant - Yoongi’s tongue - Jimin parts his lips at once, deepening the kiss, taking, oh-

Oh,” Jimin gasps, not letting go. Sinking.

It’s desperate, it’s their hands scrambling to touch, to grip - Jimin’s fingers in Yoongi’s hair - it’s rough - Yoongi’s teeth scraping, and Jimin doesn’t think. He isn’t aware - just feels all of what he’s held in him for weeks now, months. All the pent-up energy, the desire to kiss Yoongi, to feel him, have him, narrowed down to this moment. This one moment in Yoongi’s arms.

Yoongi moves, pushes Jimin back and back without breaking the kiss, until Jimin hits a wall behind him; lets out a grunt which is immediately swallowed. Between the bricks and Yoongi’s body, he is entirely too hot, too needy, the kiss messy and dirty and beautiful-

“Jiminie,” Yoongi breathes, kissing him more.

Jimin moans into his lips, because he can’t help it; he’s not holding back, he wants-

Yoongi’s thigh is between his legs then, fuck, Jimin is already half-hard; he wants to rub himself on that thigh and come, doesn’t care if it’s in his pants, if it’s in this alley, fuck it-

“Jimin-ah, Jimin,” Yoongi whispers between one kiss and the next; like he can’t get enough. Like he won’t get a second chance.

And Jimin is lost. Gone. His lips are numb and raw and Yoongi wants him too…

“Hyung,” he says, grinding, oh, chasing what he shouldn’t, “Hyung,” he repeats; he has no other words, no coherency-

Then, as suddenly as he advanced, Yoongi pulls away. Jimin follows after his lips on reflex, but Yoongi’s hand in his hair stops him; leaves enough between them so they can look into each other’s eyes. Panting, both wound tight, craving more.

“Yoongi…” Jimin’s hips have stilled over Yoongi’s leg, though he’s holding onto Yoongi’s shirt tightly, rumpling it.

“You’re- Fuck, Jiminie, you’re so beautiful.”

Jimin smiles weakly. He’s a little hazy, a little out of it. He wants to taste Yoongi again, but Yoongi’s hand is keeping him firmly in place.

“Kiss me,” he says instead.

And Yoongi does. He pins Jimin to the wall, though this time it’s less rushed. This time, the kiss is slower and deeper, more intimate. Less forceful; Jimin feels how Yoongi’s lips are smooth, how Yoongi’s hair is soft when he tangles his fingers in it. He feels the wet slide of Yoongi’s tongue, dragging, sending shivers down Jimin’s spine…

“Ah…”

Jimin savors this, takes pleasure in it; loves it, never wants to stop kissing Yoongi.

Eventually, though, Yoongi does break away again. He rests his forehead on Jimin’s, hand fitted to the side of Jimin’s neck, thumb idly brushing over Jimin’s jawline. They breathe together, recentering.

Yoongi’s eyes are closed, his brow furrowed, like he’s in deep thought. Like something isn’t quite right.

“Hey,” Jimin says softly. “It’s okay.” He presses a tender, small kiss to Yoongi’s lips, which are now red, swollen. Delicious. “We’re okay.”

They're okay, they're- they're more than okay. They are together, and kissing, and they'll talk, and they'll figure things out.

Yoongi leans away a little, and looks at Jimin. “I…” he starts, then seems to become lost in what he sees. In what he’s thinking. “I’m… into you, Jimin-ah. I’m so into you, I’m so…” But he doesn’t seem happy about this, more concerned. “I shouldn’t be. I can’t-” Yoongi shuts his eyes again, pained, and Jimin’s heart aches.

“It’s okay…” he repeats, hands flattening over Yoongi’s chest, gently scratching.

“No, no, I… I can’t.” Yoongi puts more distance between them, and Jimin’s hands almost fall away. “I’m not good for you, Jimin.”

“What?” Jimin doesn’t get it. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m not- I can’t- I shouldn’t do this.” Now Yoongi takes an actual step back, lets go, and Jimin feels cold again. “I shouldn’t have let it get this far, but I couldn’t push you away, because I- Fuck, I’m so weak, I couldn’t say no-”

“Hyung?” Jimin can’t make any sense of his words. He kissed him, Yoongi kissed him, and wants him and is into him and so why, what is happening-

“I’m too dangerous for you, Jiminie,” Yoongi says, sadness etched in his gorgeous eyes. “This… Us. It can’t happen.”

It’s like trying to force a sphere into a square hole, the way Jimin’s mind has trouble connecting the dizzinees, the bliss of minutes before to this… confusion.

“I don’t…” He shakes his head. “What…?”

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, and then looks down at his hand. In the weak light Jimin notices his tattoos swirling around his palm, his fingers, slithering up and around without rhyme or reason. Yoongi is upset. He clenches the hand in a fist, but the tattoos don’t slow down. “I’m so sorry.”

“Hyung-”

“I’m sorry, Jiminie, I- It’s… It’s for the best.”

And then, to Jimin’s utter disbelief, for the second time that night, Yoongi walks away. He turns, and disappears into the street.

"HYUNG!"

Jimin feels like he’s spinning - he’s rooted in place, shell-shocked, but he feels like he’s in dance class and spinning, spinning, about to fall…

Only this time there’s no one to catch him.

 

Chapter Text

It’s been raining for two days now. Pink Petal is quieter than usual, with fewer people willing to brave the rain to get flower arrangements.

Just as well. Jimin isn’t very chatty anyway. The grim, dour days outside match his mood perfectly.

His flowers want to know what’s wrong. He doesn’t tell them.

He doesn’t tell anyone.

He still doesn’t understand it himself.

They kissed. Jimin kissed Yoongi, and Yoongi ran away; then Yoongi kissed Jimin and, again, Yoongi ran away.

This… Us. It can’t happen.

What soap opera bullshit, Jimin thinks with indignation. He’s sitting behind the register in his shop, idly playing with colorful ribbons.

Why. Why. Why can’t it happen. Jimin wanted it. He thinks he made it pretty clear that he wanted it.

Yoongi wanted it, too. He said it himself; told Jimin he was beautiful, told him he was into him…

So then, why.

Jimin slams a ribbon tape on the counter, startling the nearest plants with the intensity of his emotions.

He’s confused, and pissed off, and sad, under everything. He feels rejected, like he’s just barely missed the mark for something great, and he can’t swallow the acrid taste in his mouth.

He thinks of that night. Remembers Yoongi’s lips - how he kisses, rough and overwhelming. Jimin remembers the touch of Yoongi’s hands, and then feels like screaming, just a little. Just to vent his frustrations in some way.

His phone buzzes, and he hates the way his heart lurches with the feeble hope that it’s Yoongi. Jimin hasn’t seen him since Yoongi left him in the alley. Not at the apartment, not at the tattoo shop, not anywhere.

He picks up the phone and convinces himself he’s not disappointed it isn’t Yoongi.

Taetae
hey
have u heard from yoongi-hyung?
jin-hyung and namjoon-hyung went to see him and he’s not answring the door
dunno if he’s home

Jiminie
no
haven’t seen him at his place

Taetae
ah ok
u ok?

No. Jimin is not okay; he wants to cry and to rage and to ask fucking why-

Jiminie
ye

Taetae
dinner at kook’s tonight?
my treat?

Jiminie
sure

At least it’ll help him get out of his head a little. Taehyung and Jungkook are perfect company for when Jimin is feeling down.

Besides, they most likely already suspect something happened between him and Yoongi; Jimin had somehow stumbled back to the club two nights ago, and vaguely replied that “Yoongi-hyung left,” when the others asked about him.

His lips had still been tingling, his arms wrapped around himself from cold, mind swimming in questions.

He could ask those questions now, Jimin supposes. He could call, or text, or even go up there and demand answers from Yoongi.

But Yoongi said no. Loud and clear, he said no, it’s not happening. Jimin isn’t about to go barging into his apartment, into his life, when it is obvious Yoongi doesn’t want him to.

They’ll probably see each other again at some point anyway. After all, they have a lot of mutual friends.

For now, Jimin will give Yoongi some space.

He could use it, too.

 


 

Jungkook and Taehyung tactfully don’t ask anything, or mention Yoongi - or any of the others - and they do manage to lift Jimin’s spirits a little, with good food and a good movie and a gaming match with controllers Jungkook had specially customized. (Customized meaning rigged so that Taehyung loses every round, which took them about two and a half hours to figure out.)

Jimin returns home feeling somewhat okay, which is a huge improvement compared to before.

He lets himself into his apartment, automatically glancing at Yoongi’s windows. Still dark. Still empty.

Pip is there, branched out, lusciously green and blue. Thriving. Jimin hopes that wherever Yoongi had disappeared to, he’ll be back in time to take care of the plant.

He gets ready for bed, falls face first into his sheets and… cries only a little this time.

 


 

It probably has to do with Hoseok. Jimin has entertained the notion that Yoongi and Hoseok had been romantically involved, but then Yoongi had said ‘best friend’, so maybe not.

But there is that big, scary thing that Yoongi feels guilty about, that drove Hoseok away, and that led to the ultimate collapse of their group.

Maybe it has something to do with why Yoongi is acting like this now. Why, despite both of them being open and honest, Yoongi is reluctant to act on his feelings.

God, does it matter.

It doesn’t matter, Jimin reminds himself in the early hours of the morning, before his alarm goes off.

Ultimately, the reason doesn’t matter, because Yoongi said no.

Fuck.

 


 

He does his job. He arranges flowers and smiles as much as he can at his customers.

He talks to his friends, tries to ignore the painfully quiet conversation with Yoongi in his phone.

He dances.

He misses Yoongi.

Texting with him.

Talking to him.

He listens to Agust D’s mixtape when he’s home by himself. Just to hear his voice.

 


 

It’s almost a week after the night out at Contrast when Jimin starts getting worried.

He has gotten nothing but radio silence from Yoongi, and while that may have to do with their current situation, he still feels the need to ask about him.

Jiminie
hey
have you guys found yoongi then?
has anyone talked to him?

Taetae
yeah, he txtd namjoon-hyung
said he was ok

Jiminie
oh
is he not at his apt anymore?

Taetae
no idea
don’t think he said more than that

Jimin’s fingers hover over the screen.

So Yoongi definitely doesn’t want to talk to him. Doesn’t want to see him.

Not even friends, after everything.

Taetae
hey chim
u know
u can talk to us about anythng, right?

Jimin’s eyes well up with tears. His friends care, so much, and he’s so grateful, and fuck, it shouldn’t hurt like this… He sniffles, trampling it down in case someone walks into the shop in the next second.

Jiminie
yeah
thank you tae

Kookie
I’m here too, you know
I mean
I’m quiet
but I’m here
...in a non creepy way

Jimin laughs wetly, blinking away the rush of emotions.

Jiminie
I know
thank you guys
I love you

Kookie
love you 2

Taetae
WE LOVE U 2 JIMINIE

 


 

So what if he doesn’t get to date Yoongi.

Not the first, or the last time someone doesn’t end up with their crush. The person they care about. They are in love with.

Jimin doesn’t mean to, but in his darker moments, when he’s alone and idling, it’s hard not to imagine what it would have been like, had Yoongi not run away.

They’d kiss more, that’s for sure. They’d laugh. They’d see each other often.

Sometimes, Jimin would stay over at Yoongi’s, and other times Yoongi would stay over at Jimin’s place. Yoongi would sit with him and his plants in the flower shop and Jimin would ask if he was doing any new music; ask what the process was like. If Yoongi showed him, Jimin most likely wouldn’t understand much, but he would be thrilled to hear it.

He’d tell Yoongi how cute he was, all the time.

He’d hold his hand.

He’d talk to him, fuck, how much Jimin misses his dumb dry humor and blunt observations.

Misses his dumb pretty face.

On Friday morning, Jimin wakes up with a dull throb behind his eyebrows. He drinks two glasses of water, eats his cereal as he gets ready, and opens his shop at 8 AM sharp.

The sun is peeking through the clouds again - no trace of the rain from the beginning of the week. It is blessedly cool, a pleasant late September, and for once Jimin doesn’t feel too shitty.

Customers come and go; he works diligently, deftly, and his flowers are as productive as ever. A concerned regular, a frail old lady, tells Jimin that he should get more sleep because he’s looking a little pale. He smiles and assures her that he’s fine.

Taehyung texts that he has some type of a gala to photograph tonight, asking which tie would go best with his suit - the blue tie with the red polka dots or the red one with the blue polka dots. Jungkook can’t tell the difference between the two; Taehyung starts his next message with, “Oh, my young naive Jungkookie,” and Jimin’s phone blows up with detailed explanations on the importance of color theory in fashion.

Jimin mutes them as he works. He only glances at their exchange when he covers the short distance to Mrs. Kim’s bakery for lunch, but then puts his phone away when he finds Seokjin at one of the tables.

“Jimin-ah!” Seokjin greets with a smile that Jimin easily returns.

“Jin-ssi.” He nods, but Seokjin waves him off.

“No more of that, please.” He glances at the cash register and the lavish display of pastries, to check whether his grandmother can hear. Mrs. Kim is busy ringing up a customer. “You watched me drink four Blow Jobs without hands,” Seokjin says in a low voice. “You can call me hyung.”

Jimin laughs. It was certainly an impressive feat, knocking down shots of drinks topped with whipped cream and not getting any on his clothes or down his windpipe. The lemon meringue incident must have been a valuable learning experience for Seokjin.

He gestures to the empty chair across from him, and Jimin slides into the seat, grateful that it’s a shadowed spot in the otherwise sunny bakery. He’s only now starting to realize that the headache from that morning is still there. Maybe slightly more intense.

“You okay?” Seokjin regards him appraisingly. “You look like you haven’t slept for a week.”

Jimin smiles, but it’s a feeble thing. He feels like he hasn’t slept for a week. “I’m okay. Mostly,” he says, looking out the window at the bustling street beyond.

Seokjin is silent for a beat, before he drums his fingers on the tabletop and gets up. He rounds the counter and helps himself to a plate, sliding open the display case. Jimin can’t see exactly what he’s taking out, but once he closes it, Seokjin plants a kiss to his grandma’s silver hair - at which she smiles but bats him away, taking more orders - and brings the baked goods over to Jimin.

“Here,” he says, sitting back down. “Court cakes with hazelnut for restless thoughts, half-moon cookie because chocolate, and apple pie with whipped cream for… Well.” Seokjin stares at the plate. “Heartbreak.”

Ah.

So.

He knows.

Jimin nods in thanks and pulls the plate towards him. He’s not surprised. They all talk among each other. With the way both Jimin and Yoongi have been behaving the past week, it must have been obvious something happened between them. Perhaps Yoongi even told them.

Jimin sinks his teeth in the flaky, soft wrapping of a white court cake and chews slowly, because he’s not sure he’s able to swallow just yet, over the lump in his throat.

Seokjin’s gaze rests on the crowd beyond the window, and he squints against the sunlight.

“It’s… complicated,” he says slowly.

“No kidding,” Jimin replies with his mouth full, unable to stop himself.

Seokjin smiles a little, sadly. “It has nothing to do with you. I mean, this whole thing… it’s not your fault. The way he talks about you… I have never heard him talk like that about anyone.”

Talks. Yoongi talks about Jimin, or he talked about Jimin, and Jimin wants to talk to him-

Fuck. Jimin lowers the delicious pastry, not feeling like eating anymore.

“He really likes you,” Seokjin continues. “I daresay he’s even in love with you.”

It doesn’t help. It makes it worse, because why is Yoongi so stupid- Jimin shuts his eyes, a shot of pain piercing through his temples.

“Is he…” he hesitates, then asks. “Is he okay?”

“No. He’s…” Seokjin purses his lips, serious and somber, a rare expression on him. “He’s far from okay.”

Jimin barely suppresses the overwhelming urge to push his chair back, stomp his way out the bakery, find Yoongi’s brooding ass - wherever he is - and aggressively take care of him. God, what a mess.

“We’re trying, Joon and I, but yesterday he stopped replying to our texts. Not answering his phone, either.”

Seokjin lets out a deep sigh, a small frown between his perfect brows. He’s concerned about his friend. He’s concerned about Jimin, too, but he’s a lot closer to Yoongi and Yoongi is obviously taking it a lot worse.

“I’m sorry, Jin-hyung,” Jimin murmurs, reaching out a hand over the table.

Seokjin takes it easily. “You have nothing to be sorry about, Jimin-ah. It’s… How Namjoon puts it, it’s the nature of things. Wow, I can’t believe I’m quoting his philosophical ass.” Seokjin rolls his eyes, but there’s fondness in his tone. He squeezes Jimin’s fingers. “I just hope that, whatever happens, you won’t give up on us. On Namjoon, and Taehyung, and Jungkookie. And Yoongi, even.”

Through his mounting headache, his stomach twisted in knots, Jimin isn’t exactly sure what Seokjin means - whatever happens - but he knows that he’s not going anywhere. He can’t. After living here, meeting these people, building a strange sort of home for himself, there’s not a chance in hell that Jimin is giving up on it.

 


 

He takes a painkiller for the headache and continues on with his work. Jimin wasn’t able to eat any more at the bakery, but Seokjin wrapped the pastries to go and didn’t want to hear about money.

So now Jimin is munching on treats in between his customers, paying attention to his plants, making bows out of ribbons and artfully writing well-wishing cards.

He’s busy, but he’s also aware that the throb behind his eyebrows is still there, that the painkiller did nothing to alleviate the ache. In fact, it’s getting harder to ignore it, a dull hurt radiating towards the back of his head.

Jimin’s phone pings with a random video of the tiniest of kittens sleeping on someone’s lap from Namjoon. There’s no message, but Jimin replies with hearts and emojis, appreciating the sentiment.

At 6 PM he locks up, diligently wipes down the counters, sweeps the floor and makes sure that all of his plants are taken care of. They can sense that he’s not okay, but he doesn’t go into details. Just a headache. It’ll go away.

He drags himself up to his apartment, grateful that the work week is over, that his bed is waiting and that he can sleep the persistent pain away.

By the time Jimin finishes with his quick shower and a mug of warm tea, he can barely keep his eyes open from how much it hurts; he has to close all the blinds because even the waning daylight is too much.

Resisting the urge to take another pill, Jimin decides to call it a day and crawls into his bed before the evening fully settles in.

 


 

He’s aware of some things; the bed, warm and clean; the bunched up pillow under his head. But in a strange way he’s also not aware; mind partially in a foggy dreamland where he’s not completely awake, but not asleep either.

It’s his room, but there are misshapen creatures standing in the corners. Looming over him, something dark dripping from their clawed hands. There’s a chill, searing his lungs, hurting his throat, making his breaths come out in white puffs.

And there’s screaming.

High-pitched, almost inhuman, constant screaming. It rips through the fabric of his dreams, so high and so relentless that it hurts, it hurts, he’s going to throw up-

Jimin startles awake. He’s breathless, his eyes adjusting to the dark of his bedroom. Seeking out corners - no mysterious demons; straining to hear - no screaming.

No screaming. The lights are on in the street, slivers of yellow pouring through his closed blinds. His phone is next to the bed, without any new notifications.

Okay. Okay. It was just a dream.

But he’s shivering in cold sweat, unsettled. His head is pulsating, heart pounding, entire body on edge. Something is wrong; something he is missing. Something right at his fingertips that Jimin can’t fully grasp-

And then it hits him. The headache.

It’s not his headache.

The screaming.

It’s not a dream.

Jimin leaps off the bed and stumbles through the apartment.

He nearly slams head first into a door frame in his haste to get to the entrance, to pull on his sneakers, grab his keys and darts out.

He’s been stupid, so fucking stupid - he hasn’t felt it in a long time, he didn’t make the connection-

Jimin runs out of his building, hurries to single out the key to his flower shop. He drops the key ring, curses, picks it up and finally finds the right one.

He bursts into the shop - the chime above the door violently jingling - and whirls around.

Because his headache is not his headache. The screaming he dreamed about is not exactly a dream - it’s a plant, screaming. It’s a plant in pain, in danger, emitting the kind of energy that gives Jimin a headache. An alarm of sorts-

“Which one is it?” Jimin whisper-shouts, still trembling. He’s been in pain the entire day, and he didn’t get it. He’s been standing right here, and he somehow overlooked it - one of his plants is unwell, making Jimin unwell, and he needs to fix it.

But his flowers are all clamoring in his mind. Each has its own energy imprint, each with a loud voice, fighting to be heard - and the pain is still there. Fuck, Jimin’s head feels like it’ll split open right down the middle, he can’t take much longer-

It’s not us.

It’s not here.

It’s not them, it’s not them- He checked on them after work, as always, of course it’s not them- Then what. Where. What the hell is-

When the second realization hits, it’s like a bucket of ice down his back.

Not his plants at the shop. A different plant, somewhere outside. Jimin stares out the window, detached, not really seeing the deserted alley.

A plant, a plant, a plant which knows him, knows he would hear, that he would feel. A plant which is suffering and crying for help-

Pip.

It’s Pip.

Jimin forgets about keys entirely as he storms out of the shop.

The entrance to Yoongi’s building gives when he shoves through it and bounds up the stairs at the same speed as when Jungkook was in trouble.

In the small, dimly lit hallway, Jimin bangs on the door of Yoongi’s apartment, outraged. He’s ready to tear through the fucking wall if he has to to get to the blue flower.

“HYUNG! YOONGI, OPEN THE DOOR!”

It’s one thing to be all mysterious and confusing. To not want to be with Jimin, not want to talk to him, to isolate oneself.

But it’s another matter entirely to neglect a living being.

“HYUNG!” Jimin booms, punctuating it with a strong fist to the door. “ANSWER ME!”

Yoongi doesn’t. Yoongi most likely isn’t home. Jimin doesn’t remember the last time he saw him in the apartment. Not since their night at the club anyway.

And Jimin isn’t fucking waiting. He backs up a couple of steps, clenches his jaw, and kicks the door forcefully. The sound of wood cracking pierces the silence, and Jimin kicks it again, near the doorknob.

The door splinters; one final kick knocks it inwards, leaving pieces of wood all over the floor.

Jimin barges in, automatically flipping on the switch in the hallway. White light filters into the living room, the kitchen- Casts a soft glow on Pip, sitting in its pot in the window.

But the moment Jimin turns to it - the moment he lays eyes on the plant - his headache stops.

Jimin nearly loses his balance from the sudden relief. Like something had been squeezing his skull, suffocating him, making his eyeballs throb inside their sockets, and now - nothing.

He inhales unsteadily, his hands still shaking from the remnants of pain.

“Pip,” he whispers, though it’s senseless. Not like Pip can speak back. Not like speaking out loud has any effect; wow, Jimin feels a little lightheaded. A little lost.

Because there’s nothing wrong with Pip. Jimin comes closer, reaches out with his energy - now more conscious of it, more mindful of how he’s doing it ever since Yoongi had shown him - and carefully checks Pip over.

Nothing is amiss.

Pip is fine. It has enough water and nutrients and gets enough sunlight and is quite happy, all things considered.

But then…?

Behind you.

Jimin turns. There’s the hallway leading to Yoongi’s bathroom and bedroom. However deep the light from the entrance can reach, Jimin doesn’t see anyone there.

And yet. He feels it, crawling up his spine - the dread. The unease he has when he plays horror games; when he’s trapped in a nightmare. That feeling that something isn’t right; that something is very much the opposite of right.

Every instinct Jimin has screams at him to get the fuck out of there as fast as possible. His heart hammers in his ears.

In the back.

Pip isn’t in trouble. Pip is fine; the little - or not so little - flower is fine, and yet it still did that. It used whatever it could to alert Jimin. It amped up its signal, targeted him; reached across the street, all in an effort to make him realize, to-

To bring him here.

Because Pip is okay. But someone else isn’t.

“Oh- Oh god.”

Jimin has taken a few steps into the hallway, almost on reflex. He’s now standing just before the open bathroom door, and his mouth falls open, but no more words come out.

Because the walls… They’re no longer white.

They are alive, black ink seeping out from the bathroom doorway, spreading, oozing ever so slowly towards the rest of the apartment. It’s in shapes, like Yoongi’s tattoos, but larger in scale, more sinister; claws reaching in all directions, thick, like they’re intent on devouring the entire building.

“Yoongi-” Jimin whispers, kicking himself into action again. “Yoongi!”

He closes the gap to the bathroom and freezes. The ink is everywhere - flowing like liquid terror across the tiles, the walls, the ceramic sink, the mirror -

It’s all coming from the bathtub, half-filled with… water? ...ink? Whatever it is, it’s black like tar, and Yoongi is sitting in it. Fully clothed, almost completely submerged; unmoving.

“HYUNG!” Jimin shouts, lunging forward.

He doesn’t care about the ink, doesn’t care that it’s sticky under his sneakers. Jimin grabs Yoongi by his soaked shirt and hauls him up, barely gets him to sit upright.

Fuck, Yoongi is so heavy, lifeless and ghostly pale. To Jimin’s horror, he realizes that the source of the ink is Yoongi; that the black is trickling out of his skin, into the tub and from the tub slowly crawling everywhere else. Uncontained. Uncontrolled.

“Hyung, hyung, wake up- shit,” Jimin mutters incoherently, steeling himself as he tries again. He gets a better, firmer hold around Yoongi’s torso and manages to lift him and pull him out of the tub.

The black liquid sloshes around them, getting Jimin wet, too - staining his clothes, leaving its splotches everywhere. Yoongi’s socked feet hit the floor and Jimin stumbles under his weight, falling to his knees, but not letting go.

“Yoongi-hyung- Yoongi- What the hell- Yoongi-” Jimin doesn’t know what he’s saying, doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yoongi’s lips are drained of color, bluish, his wet hair sticking to his forehead.

“Hyung, please, wake up. Hyung, it’s Jimin.”

Jimin’s whole body is shaking now. He holds Yoongi close to him, but he’s terrified - not of the ink, but of why Yoongi isn’t answering, how long has he been in there, when did he lose consciousness-

No, no, no, are the only words, only truths in Jimin’s mind- Please, no, no-

He lays a hand on Yoongi’s chest. Tries to focus, to tune out the eerie movement in his periphery - the ink still bleeding out of Yoongi’s limp hands, blending with the black of the tiles, continuing on its path to who knows where.

Jimin feels it - Yoongi’s chest rises and falls with shallow, labored breaths. There’s the faintest of heartbeats under his palm.

He’s breathing. Okay, he’s breathing. He’s alive.

“Yoongi, Yoongi.” Jimin brushes Yoongi’s hair away from his face, leaving stripes of black from his fingertips. He cups Yoongi’s cheek. “Fuck, you’re so cold. Yoongi, please…” Jimin’s voice is high, pleading, only he has no idea what he’s pleading for. “Yoongi-hyung.”

He has to get someone. He doesn’t know what to do, how to stop this; he’s never done this, he can’t help-

Then he remembers - like a beacon of hope, a stroke of reason in this shock; Jimin’s phone in his back pocket.

He shifts around, huffs as he tries to support Yoongi’s weight and reach behind at the same time. He almost gets the phone, too, when Yoongi’s hand shoots up and grabs him by the arm.

Jimin looks at him, startled, and in the weak light it takes him a beat to see - the all-black eyes.

Yoongi is awake.

“...hyung?” Jimin asks tentatively. Yoongi’s demonic gaze locks onto Jimin; Yoongi’s hand tightens its grip to the point of bruising. “Ow- Yoongi, it’s me, it’s Jimin, okay? Everything’s going to be fine. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere, I just need to call-”

But Yoongi isn’t blinking. Those black eyes are not like they were that time in the tattoo shop. They’re different - Yoongi is different.

“Hyung?” Jimin tries again, and then everything happens too fast.

Yoongi’s other hand clamps to the side of his neck, squeezing so hard that Jimin can’t move, can only whimper in pain - and the cold is almost instantaneous.

A bone-deep sharpness, so cold that it burns, coming from Yoongi’s hands around Jimin’s arm, around his neck.

The ink - that ink which has previously been dripping everywhere - now diverts into Jimin’s skin.

Jimin tries to shove him off, to pull away, but Yoongi’s hold is freakishly strong - he doesn’t even budge. “Yoongi, what-” Jimin can’t finish the sentence from a violent shiver that surges through him - his body trying to fight the cold; his teeth start chattering, skin like it’s being stung with hundreds of needles at the same time.

“Hyung,” Jimin gasps, staring at Yoongi’s stony face, at the black eyes staring right back. Yoongi doesn’t see him; doesn’t know it’s him. “Yoongi, Yoongi, it’s- Jimin-”

Jimin struggles to break free, but it’s hard to move because he’s fucking freezing, and it’s spreading; the cold is spreading-

It reaches his chest. The ink is now underneath his shirt, seizing his ribcage. It’s hard to breathe, hard to inhale; Jimin sucks in air, but it hurts - a weight he can’t push back against, a building pressure-

“H-yung, h-h-”

There’s darkness. Jimin feels it, on a level unrelated to the flesh and the blood. The black is also overtaking his own energy, consuming, destroying everything in its path. Leaving him hollow from the inside out.

He can’t speak. He can’t move. He can’t think, can’t think, he can’t fucking breathe in, he needs air-

“Air!” Jimin chokes out, but it’s no use.

His fingers scrabble for purchase, his body spasming in an attempt to break away. To breathe. Jimin grabs fistfuls of Yoongi’s black-stained shirt, shakes with as much strength as he can - but it’s not much. It’s not much now - his mind is panicking, colored red, desperate for oxygen-

But Yoongi doesn’t back down.

Yoongi will kill him.

Jimin’s vision blurs; his hands drop to his sides, chest convulsing as his lungs fight for what they can’t get. Every fiber of his being hurts, his head heavy like lead, his body not his own...

And he lets go.

Jimin floats. Suddenly, blessedly, he weighs nothing.

He is nothing.

He’s not afraid anymore; he can't recall what he was afraid of before. In the distance, there are stars and twinkly lights; yellow, blue and colorful.

A soft warmth glows right in front of him, a sphere of everything he holds dear, everything he finds comforting. Jimin was so cold a second ago, he can use that warmth now… He wants to touch it.

And he still can’t breathe, but somehow that doesn’t matter here. Somehow he’s floating, and this warm orb is here, and it makes him feel cozy and toasty, and-

He reaches out, carefully, and ghosts his fingers over the edge of the warmth.

Its light brightens, goes from muted orange to yellow - brighter - white - and it becomes bigger and bigger - blinding - expanding -

And Jimin knows, with a certainty rooted in his very soul, that he is powerful.

The orb explodes. Jimin screams, and searing white light fills out every corner of the tiny bathroom. It burns brighter than the sun, soaring through Jimin, from his fingertips to his toes, making him alive, alive.

All at once, Jimin feels the hard tiles underneath his soaked knees, the soreness of his arm and neck where Yoongi’s hands used to be; he breathes, breathes as though he has never done it before, and the light surges through him, setting him ablaze. It lingers for only a moment, this unleashed supernova energy, before it gets snuffed out. Gone, as quickly as it had appeared.

In the near-darkness of the bathroom, Jimin is left panting, entirely wrung out. He doesn’t know where he is, or what he is, why; he can’t see - his eyes are open, but he can’t focus on any one thing. He somehow remembers that he’s not alone, and feels with his hands; touches wet clothes, a t-shirt, finds a smooth, soft collarbone.

“Yoongi,” Jimin whispers, not having the strength to say it louder. “Yoongi…”

Are you okay, Yoongi, are we okay-

And then a hand finds his own. Jimin doesn’t even consider that maybe Yoongi will do it again - that maybe Yoongi’s ink will take hold of Jimin once more and finish the job - he doesn’t have the presence of mind for it.

But Yoongi’s hand is trembling, deathly cold, as he wraps it around Jimin’s smaller one, and squeezes ever so lightly. There's meaning in the gesture, but it's too elusive for Jimin's tortured mind.

“Hyung…” He can’t sit upright. He can’t- can’t concentrate, can’t even begin to understand what they went through and what the consequences might be. He can’t formulate a single solid sentence in his head.

He’s tired; so very tired… Every movement is pain, every blink a new hurt to endure. He has never felt so drained; not after dancing, not after crying, never had the feeling of being this fragile, like a paper swan - one gentle puff of wind and he’s gone. Dissolved.

Jimin lies down, half on the tiles and half on what could be Yoongi, or could be the warm sphere from before, or could be something else entirely.

He’s just going to sleep now. He needs sleep... Yoongi’s hand relaxes, releases Jimin’s, and maybe that means that Yoongi needs sleep too.

Oblivion tugs at Jimin’s consciousness; he doesn’t resist, allows himself to be pulled under.

Maybe, after everything, he won’t resurface.

Maybe, he won’t wake up.

That sounds oddly okay.

 

Chapter Text

“HERE! THEY’RE HERE!”

“Jimin-ah? Yoongi-yah? … Fuckfuck, I can’t feel Yoongi’s pulse!”

“CALL THE DOCTOR!”

“Kook, take his legs.”

“Gently, gently!”

 


 

He’s curled up; enveloped in warmth. Safe. Not sure where he is, but he’s tucked in and sleeping for the most part. Nothing bothers him.

At times, he hears voices. From a great distance, he catches snippets of conversations.

He doesn’t recognize these voices. Doesn't know if they’re talking to him or amongst themselves. Maybe he’d like to know who they are, where they’re coming from, but that would require opening his eyes.

He’s too comfortable to attempt that just yet. He doesn’t mind staying here some more.

Resting.

 


 

“...liked the tie, she told me that the blue polka dots went well with my eyes. I was wearing contacts, you know, the blue ones? That you and Kookie say make me look like an android? I like looking like an android. All cool and badass, like I was sent from the future to protect the human race…”

 


 

“...fine, just fine. A normal reaction to the amount of energy you expended to, um… Well. Save yourself, I guess. To save Yoongi-hyung, too. Bottom line, you’ll be fine after you... recharge. Like Jungkook-ah did, remember? Just sleep it off, Jiminie, and you’ll be as good as new.”

 


 

“We don’t know what to order. None of us want to go home, because… Because we still have to clean some more, and we are watching you, and we need to be here if- when you guys wake up. So. It’s either pizza again - but Taehyung isn’t feeling well from all the cheese, so maybe Chinese is-”

“Hey, Kook.”

“Oh, hey, hyung. Said goodbye to Jin-hyung?”

“Yeah. He started crying at the airport. Told me if anything happened to either of them he’d personally castrate us all with his good knives.”

“Hah, yeah. … But nothing will happen to them.”

“No, of course not.”

 


 

It starts with his dry mouth. That’s the first thing he’s aware of - that his tongue is stuck to the roof of his mouth and that he can’t part his lips.

Then Jimin experimentally moves the tip of his every finger; discovers the shape of his hands, his feet, mentally maps out the position of his body. He’s not curled up. He is comfortable and warm, but this is different than where he was before.

This is a bed. He has a pillow under his head; something soft thrown over him.

He feels like he had been dancing for hours. Or running. Or swimming. A kind of exhaustion that makes him heavy, leaden, like he has simply melted into the cushions and became one with the bed.

There’s a rustle to his right, a hushed movement, and a creak of a chair.

Jimin frowns, gathering what strength he has to crack his eyes open.

Weak light - a faint yellow glow from somewhere casts shadows of a bookcase across the wall. It’s not Jimin’s bookcase. At this moment Jimin has trouble remembering if he has a bookcase, but he’s sure that this one isn’t his.

Slowly, moving his head but a smidgen, he looks to his right; sees a person curled in on themselves in a chair right next to him.

Taehyung. It’s Taehyung sleeping with his bare feet up on the seat and his head buried in his knees. It’s an uncomfortable position - his neck must be killing him. Jimin wants to make room for him in the bed.

He somehow unsticks his lips and tries to make a sound, but nothing comes out. A raspy breath.

His throat hurts - a dull pain, similar to when he has a cold. Jimin swallows over nothing, dry throat clicking, and tries again.

“Tae…” he manages to whisper. He’d like to reach out with his hand - Taehyung is just close enough that Jimin could tug at his pant leg - but that’s too much effort. “Tae-hyung-ie.”

Taehyung hums, rubbing his face into his knees.

“Taehyung-ah,” Jimin whispers again, slightly louder. “Your neck… will… hurt.”

Taehyung lifts his head, blearily blinking at Jimin, his red hair flaring out in all directions. He’s paler than Jimin remembers him, with shadows under his eyes, and yet the moment he realizes Jimin is awake he yelps. Taehyung jerks out of his seat, inelegantly landing between the chair and the bed, shouting,

“JIMINIE!”

Jimin winces because ouch, indoor voice, Tae, please, but Taehyung suddenly has a bottle of water in hand, uncapping it and procuring a straw at the speed Jimin can’t follow. He carefully brings it to Jimin’s lips and Jimin eyes it for a second, gaze focusing on the straw, before he takes it. Every gulp is painful, but the cool water is welcome.

“Are you okay?” Taehyung asks. “How are you feeling? Does anything hurt? Are you okay? How are you f-”

Rushed footsteps interrupt his string of questions, and two more people appear in Jimin’s line of sight - Jungkook and Namjoon, seemingly not in any better shape than Taehyung; wide-eyed, harried, clothes disheveled and expressions tight from worry.

“Oh thank god,” Jungkook breathes out, plopping into Taehyung’s vacated chair.

“Jimin-ah,” Namjoon leans closer, laying a hand on Jimin’s forehead, as though checking for a fever. “Can you speak?”

Taehyung gently pulls the straw away and Jimin swallows. “I… um. Yes,” he whispers, a little taken aback by all of this.

It starts to dawn on him that he actually has no idea where he is. Or why. His throat hurts and he is beyond tired and maybe this isn’t just a random night when they all fell asleep after playing video games for too long.

“Good, okay, good,” Namjoon absently pats his hair and then takes a step back. “Do you know who we are?”

“Hyung, what…?”

In his mind, Jimin tries to piece together what little he has; what he did to warrant such a strange reaction from his friends. He looks at the closest - Taehyung, still kneeling beside the bed and now holding Jimin’s hand in both of his own.

“What happened?” Jimin finally asks, feeling somewhat… blank.

There’s a void in his memory, an empty slate where something - anything - is supposed to be. For the life of him, he can’t recall how he fell asleep, or what came before that. It’s unsettling.

The beat of silence is heavy between them.

Then Taehyung speaks, “You, um. We’re not sure exactly what happened, either. But we can sort of…” He waves his free hand. “Guess.”

“We think that Yoongi-hyung might have… lost control,” Namjoon says carefully. “Because the bathroom and the bathtub- Water slows his ink down, dissolves it somewhat, and if he felt like his energy was getting too strong, he would have taken precautionary measures to keep it contained-”

“Yoongi,” Jimin whispers, because oh.

Oh.

Suddenly, he remembers flashes. Black tiles, crawling ink. Yoongi half-dead in the tub. Yoongi’s terrifying gaze, the force of his grip around Jimin’s arm - around his throat, that’s why swallowing hurts and why he can’t talk in louder than a whisper-

It was warm, too, at some point. It was Jimin’s warmth, the one he shares with his plants. It was so big and so forceful -

“Yoongi-” Jimin moves to get up. His body is very much against that, but he pushes into his screaming muscles and the increasing pressure in his head to sit up, to get to Yoongi.

But everyone reacts at once. They shout in protest, urging him to lie back down. Taehyung rests a hand on Jimin’s chest and gently nudges him back into the pillows, while Namjoon pats him still, telling him not to try and get up again. Jimin isn’t strong enough to fight them; even if he was, Jungkook would surely wrangle him back into bed.

So he shuts his eyes, tries to tame his scattered thoughts, to organize bits of that night into something resembling a proper timeline…

They had passed out; after everything, they lost consciousness. Or at least Jimin did.

“Yoongi-hyung is fine,” Namjoon says. “He’s- he’s in his bed, down the hall.” It’s then that Jimin realizes he’s in Yoongi’s apartment, still. On Yoongi’s couch. The others have cleared the coffee table away, made it easier to sit at Jimin’s bedside.

“He hasn’t- um.” Namjoon licks his lips, a rare sign of uncertainty on him. “He hasn’t woken up yet. But he’s- Physically, he’s fine.”

“What does that mean,” Jimin whispers, his head pounding in time with his fast heartbeat. His throat fucking hurts - Yoongi did that; he didn’t do it on purpose - “Physically, what does that- Is he…?”

He hopes someone will answer his unfinished question, but the other three avoid his gaze. They are looking at the floor, at their hands, odd and grim. Jimin hears thunder in his ears; an incoming avalanche. He wants to ask again, but can’t seem to form words-

“We, um…” Jungkook starts. He shifts in his seat, chewing on the inside of his cheek. “We don’t- We don’t… really know, if he’ll… wake up.” His voice turns thin, frightened at the end - Jungkook has never sounded like that before.

The sentence hangs in the air.

Jimin stares. Somehow, irrationally, he feels like he’s falling - hurtling towards the ground at the speed of gravity - even though he’s firmly nestled in the sofa cushions. Reality is a fickle thing.

We don’t know if he’ll wake up.

“What-” Jimin tries, fails. It’s not real, it can’t be real, this is some weird joke he’s not getting-

Only nobody is laughing.

Namjoon crouches so that he’s at eye level with Jimin.

“When we found you, you were both out cold,” he says slowly, quietly, a calming note in his voice. “You were in better shape. More like we’re used to seeing, from our previous experiences with energy discharge. But Yoongi…” Namjoon pauses before he continues, barely audible. “Yoongi-hyung was practically dead.”

Jungkook sniffles, his lower lip wobbling. He bites on it to get it to stop, and Taehyung squeezes Jimin’s hand; Jimin automatically squeezes back.

Dead.

Dead.

Dead. He was dead, he was- 

Did Jimin do it? 

Was it Jimin’s energy, was it the sphere of warmth that-

“We don’t know how long he’s been… out of it,” Namjoon says. “Remember what I told you before? How the longer the energy is allowed to roam free, the harder it is to get it under control? The harder it is to bring the person back-”

That morning, Jimin had had the headache since he’d woken up. Pip had been trying to reach him for hours; the whole day. And Jimin didn’t get it, he didn’t get it, he was too late, he wasn’t paying attention-

“Jiminie,” Namjoon says, cutting through Jimin’s spiraling thoughts. Jimin inhales a shuddering breath, barely keeping it together. He manages to turn, to look Namjoon in the eye. “You did something, didn’t you?” Namjoon asks kindly. “You used your energy?”

“I…” Jimin swallows, winces, and a tear escapes the corner of his eye. He’s crying; he’s crying now because he can’t- He doesn’t understand- How everything got this fucked up this fast, how they got here- Where is Yoongi- “I didn’t do it on purpose,” he croaks weakly.

Taehyung reaches to wipe Jimin’s tears away with his fingers, and Jimin is overwhelmed, over-sensitive. Every point of contact between his skin and the sheets around him is painful, it hurts; it will leave bruises, scars, soft edges of the pillow like knife blades cutting into him-

“Jimin-ah” Namjoon says, catching his attention again. “Whatever you did, purposeful or not - you overcame hyung’s energy. You pushed it back and got it to stop raging, both outside and inside of him.

“Jimin.” Namjoon rubs his shoulder and smiles a little, showing his comforting dimples. “You saved his life.”

Jimin sobs, more tears streaming down his cheeks, and Taehyung takes that as his cue to climb onto the couch. Namjoon backs away as Taehyung somehow drapes himself half on top of Jimin - it hurts even more; his weight is crushing, the bedding like sandpaper - abrasive - stop, stop, make it all stop- Taehyung’s knee digs into Jimin’s thigh; Jimin wants it to go away, but he also pulls Taehyung in more, burying his face in Taehyung’s shoulder. He needs it, he can’t be alone, he can’t, he doesn’t want-

“Is he okay, Tae, is he okay,” Jimin repeats thickly, his mind in tatters, struggling to accept all of this; struggling to cope. “I want to see him, Taehyung, is Yoongi okay- I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, fuck, I didn’t mean to-”

Someone strokes his hair. Taehyung murmurs soft reassurances and makes shushing noises, and Jimin cries, shuddering with the force of his sobs. He cries, letting out the storm inside of him, the confusion and the shock, heart pulverized and bleeding out on Yoongi’s couch.

 


 

Taehyung is still on the sofa with him two hours later. He’s managed to wedge himself in in a way that doesn’t aggravate Jimin’s battered body, and he’s been running his fingers through Jimin’s hair for the longest time.

And Jimin has somehow become empty. Numb. He doesn’t feel much of anything, except a need to see Yoongi, simmering in his gut. If it were up to him he’d roll right off the couch and just crawl over to Yoongi’s room, dragging himself by the elbows if he must - but it’s not up to him. The others have taken it upon themselves to help him recover as quickly as possible, and that includes him being bedridden for a while yet.

Jungkook has gone to sit with Yoongi, and Namjoon has brought over a bowl of warm soup; he’s feeding Jimin by the spoonful and explaining the best he can.

“We’re all certified, but Jin-hyung is the best at it, so…” He clears his throat, awkwardly perching the bowl in his lap. He has dragged the chair closer to the sofa so he could feed Jimin without leaning over too much. “So he performed CPR. U-um…” His voice trembles. “We... called a doctor. Yoongi-hyung and I met him a long time ago, through this charity organization we’re involved with, which aims to help young people who are like us. The doctor himself has an energy, though we never really got what it was exactly.”

Slowly, Namjoon tries to bring a spoon to Jimin’s lips, but halfway it tilts the wrong way and soup trickles down, staining the white sheets. “Dammit,” Namjoon curses, and Jimin somehow finds it in himself to attempt a smile.

“It’s okay, hyung,” he whispers. “I don’t need-”

“No, no, you have to eat the entire bowl tonight,” Namjoon is adamant, giving up on rubbing the yellowish stain with a dishrag. “You need your strength back.” He sighs, going back to what he was doing. “So, we called that doctor, because we could trust him. He helped us before, when Jungkook had first… When he first took the power out. The doctor did everything he could outside of a hospital.”

“Because hospital means questions and paperwork and…” Taehyung waves the hand which isn’t in Jimin’s hair. “The police.”

“If the authorities found out about what happened with Jungkook, they’d surely have taken him away,” Namjoon says darkly, this time succeeding in getting most of the soup to Jimin’s lips. “Same with Yoongi-hyung. They would have been deemed too dangerous for society, and-” He cuts himself off, shaking his head as though deciding that this isn’t the topic right now.

“So. The doctor got him stable. We moved him to his bed, and there were portable machines and shots and I.V.s… We have no idea. But the doctor sat with him for the first 24 hours, and Yoongi-hyung was okay. Is okay.”

24 hours… Jimin frowns. “What day is it?”

“Monday,” Taehyung says.

Monday. The last Jimin remembers, it was Friday. Two, almost three whole days he’d been unconscious.

“My plants.” His eyes go a little wide, but at the first sign of a new panic, Taehyung grabs his hand.

“They’re fine!” he hurries to say. “Your plants are… I mean, we looked at them. Through… uh, through the window. And they seemed fine. You’ll tell me where the key to the shop is and I’ll go in and I’ll do whatever you need me to do, and I’ll talk to them, and they’ll be fine.” His hand is warm, and Jimin relaxes a bit.

They’re fine. It’s fine. It’s only been a couple of days; his plants are always well taken care of, and they’re resilient, though maybe a bit worried for him, but they’re fine. Jimin will instruct Taehyung on what to do in case he doesn’t get out of bed in the morning.

“I didn’t put up a note,” he whispers then, the most random, most unimportant of details. “To say the shop won’t be open, I didn’t put up a note on the door.”

There’s a tense pause, one that Jimin picks up on only when Namjoon speaks next, feeding him again, “The doctor said there was no surefire way of knowing how everything affected Yoongi-hyung. There wouldn’t be even in a hospital setting, because hyung’s energy was involved, and we assumed yours was too… That’s already too many unknown variables. The government records which have your energies quantified are from decades ago - even if we had them they’d be useless now. We have no information to go on. His body is fine. Lacking strength, but healthy. It’s his mind, his energy that we don’t know if…” Namjoon inhales sharply, keeping his heartbreak contained. “If… We don’t know the consequences all of that had on him. S-so...”

“So, now we wait,” Taehyung finishes.

“Wait,” Jimin repeats blankly.

How… indefinite.

He closes his eyes, breathes through Taehyung’s fingers gently combing through his hair - giving him something other than the wasteland of his mind to focus on.

“How did you find us?” he asks, at last, one of a thousand questions aimlessly floating about, difficult to catch. Jimin opens his eyes and looks at Namjoon. “How did you know something had happened to us?”

“You’ll, uh…” Namjoon gives the soup an unnecessary stir. “You’ll see when you get back on your feet,” he says cryptically.

 




Jimin gathers that he’d woken up somewhere around 10 pm, and after midnight his caregivers rotate - Namjoon stays with Yoongi, Taehyung is back in the chair by the sofa, and Jungkook is playing games on his phone with Jimin’s legs in his lap.

Jimin slips in and out of sleep.

His body is still weak and his soul is still raw, an open wound, impossible to heal. Whenever he’s close to dozing off, he’d hear, dead. He’d see how horribly pale Yoongi was, how lifeless, and we don’t know if he’ll wake up.

No one else sleeps, either. It’s waiting similar to the one when they kept watch over Jungkook, only painted in vastly different colors; grey, blue. Sorrowful and desolate.

With Jungkook, they knew he was okay. They knew he would wake up, sooner or later.

Now…

Now, Taehyung sits in his chair and stares at the same screen on his phone for minutes, not having it in him to read his webtoons.

Now, Jungkook holds his phone and controls its inner electronics to play a game, but the phone resets itself every once in a while, sometimes resetting Taehyung’s phone as well.

Now, Jimin is caught in this strange half-consciousness. Passive, feeling like an observer from the outside. His surroundings - the white tint of the phone screens, the sharp shadows over his friends’ faces - all of that is a part of a movie he’s watching. He’s on the other side of the screen, and all of this will be over once the credits roll.

Jimin will get up and Yoongi will send him a snappy text about how he can’t sleep and there’s nothing good on TV after 3 am, and Jimin will say that surely there’s at least some good porn, and Yoongi will…

It’s only when, close to the break of dawn, Jungkook slides sideways on the sofa, drops his phone and passes out on top of Jimin from what Jimin can only guess is bone-deep exhaustion, that Jimin somehow drifts off as well.

 


 

They hover around him as though he’s paper-thin, frail like an autumn leaf - one crunch and he’d be gone.

“I’m fine,” Jimin reiterates, sitting on the edge of the couch. It’s morning, muted and cloudy, the windows open in the background, letting in the cool air and pitter-patter of rain. He’s about to stand up for the first time in three days.

He had breakfast - more soup, but this time with noodles and meat, carefully prepared as per Seokjin’s instructions over a Skype call - and a slice of bread with cheese after that. The others made sure he drank enough water to last him through the winter.

It’s partially the reason he wants to get up so bad - he really needs to use the bathroom.

“Just making sure,” Jungkook mumbles, standing close, hands ready to support in case Jimin’s balance decides it favors the horizontal after all.

Jimin takes in a deep breath. He slowly pushes off and straightens up, swaying only a tiny amount, his vision muddling for a second; Jungkook’s barely-there touch at the small of his back is enough to keep him upright.

“See?” Jimin whispers. “Easy.”

He concentrates on the floor and taking proper steps and they walk together in a group of four, Jimin leading the way and Taehyung, Jungkook, and Namjoon squeezed into the hallway behind him, at the ready.

There’s no black on the walls anymore. Maybe a faint outline where the ink had stained the white around the bathroom door, but now it’s merely a shadow, as though the paint had greyed with time.

The bathroom itself is spotless. Top to bottom, every nook and cranny, every surface and tile as white as it should be. Not a trace of black; not a drop of the ink water from the tub.

They cleaned, Jimin thinks with a stab through his lungs. On top of everything - on top of caring for and worrying about and losing sleep because of their two friends, they had also cleaned.

He bows his head when tears prickle at the back of his eyelids - these beautiful people who do so much - and someone immediately rests a hand on his back, rubbing in slow, comforting strokes.

“I love you guys,” Jimin says faintly, the first of the tears spilling over, and maybe he hears Taehyung choke up beside him.

He’s enveloped in a slow, cautious group hug, where arms wrap around him and his face is squished against someone’s collarbone.

It’s warm. It’s a relief.

It’s home.

“You can choose which one of us helps you take a piss,” Taehyung mumbles into the gentle silence, and Namjoon snorts.

“Objectively, I’m the strongest one,” Jungkook reasons. “If he blacks out, I’ll catch him before-”

“No, I feel like, since this is a personal matter,” Taehyung interjects, “- intimate if you will - maybe someone his own age would be more aprop-”

“Out, all of you,” Jimin whispers, smiling. His cheeks are wet with tears, but he’s smiling and grateful.

So fucking grateful.

They show him where the new toothbrushes are, the clean towels, and they tell him they’ll be right outside the door before they leave him to himself.

In the ensuing quiet, under the sterile LED light, Jimin catches a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror above the sink. For a beat, he doesn’t recognize who he’s staring at.

It resembles him. The messy blond hair, the wide eyes, full lips - it could be him. But he’s ashen, the color of cardboard, the skin under his bloodshot eyes tender and swollen and dark; small nose red from crying.

Jimin, after the fact.

His gaze slides lower, to the bloom of violet and blue on one side of his neck. From Yoongi’s hand.

He brushes his fingers over the bruise, sensitive to the touch as he traces the edges fading into his skin. It doesn’t scare him. Yoongi having almost ended his life - maybe it should scare him, but it doesn’t.

It wasn’t Yoongi. Jimin knew it then, and he knows it now. Yoongi of his right mind would never hurt anyone. He had been overtaken by his own energy for too long, he was too far gone and-

We don’t know if he’ll wake up.

Jimin grits his teeth, discarding that particular pain. He casts one last look at the mirror, and by the unknown wide collar of his shirt, he realizes the clothes he’s in aren’t his own. The ones he wore that day got stained with black, soaked through, most likely ruined; someone had changed him, had given him their clothes… Someone bigger, could be any one of the three in the hallway.

A plain t-shirt. Sweatpants. Jimin pulls away the waistband - at least the underwear is still his.

He brushes his teeth; washes his face and uses the toilet; contemplates on shaving what little stubble has grown along his jaw, and maybe taking a shower, but decides he should leave that for when he is more stable on his feet.

There’s something he needs to do first. Somewhere he needs to be.

Jimin opens the bathroom door, interrupting the quiet conversation of his friends. Namjoon, Taehyung, and Jungkook look at him, and without a word they part, clearing a path towards the bedroom.

Jimin hesitates. He braces himself, finding a weird sort of comfort in every forceful pound of his heart, and slowly walks forward.

 


 

The room is different than the last time Jimin had been in it. The bed is still there, but it has been pushed up against the far wall to make room for the machines - portable devices which had replaced Yoongi’s music production electronics, his keyboard and cables on the floor. Jimin can’t make sense of the readings on their small screens, of their complex buttons and dials.

There’s an I.V. stand nearby, without any I.V. fluids hanging from it, and there’s… There’s Yoongi, in his bed.

Jimin exhales shakily.

Small. He’s hit with that same feeling, same crushing fondness like he was the first time he’d seen Yoongi curled up in Jungkook’s armchair. In reality, Yoongi isn’t any smaller than Jimin - but he’s somehow so small in that bed. Delicate and peaceful... Except that his skin is sallow and his cheekbones are prominent and Jimin needs a moment, or several, to recollect himself.

He’s not prepared when it hits him. When all of their months of knowing each other, talking to each other, teasing and laughing and eating together wash over him like a tidal wave.

Yoongi with his black mask and baseball cap - a stranger in a strange tattoo shop; Yoongi kissing him and telling him he’s beautiful - someone Jimin has feelings for, intense; Yoongi smiling down at an orange and white corsage - a friend, maybe more; Yoongi walking away; Yoongi protecting him; Yoongi half dead, dead, dead, in Jimin’s arms.

Jimin struggles, caged, his throat mute but his heart screaming so loud it tears itself apart.

A hand gently brushes down his arm, and Jimin looks to his left, at Namjoon. His hyung smiles in encouragement, eyes glistening.

“I…” Jimin says, then stops. There is no consolation. Nothing but Yoongi, in that bed, unconscious.

“You can sit here,” Taehyung says, motioning towards the lone chair beside the bed. “We’ll… We’ll be in the living room.”

Jimin doesn’t reply, but the others shuffle out, giving him privacy.

He stares.

There’s a needle in Yoongi’s forearm, taped over; oddly enough, his tattoos have parted around it, like they don’t want to disturb the spot.

Slowly, Jimin comes closer, lowers himself in the chair. Stares at Yoongi’s hand, breathes in and out, trying not to lose it completely; he reaches and brushes his fingers over Yoongi’s. Cold; always so cold… He half expects Yoongi’s hand to open, silently inviting, like it had before, but it doesn’t. Of course it doesn’t.

Jimin swallows thickly and threads their fingers together.

“Hey, hyung,” he whispers, caressing over Yoongi’s knuckles with his thumb. “It’s Jimin. I’m… I’m okay. I wanted to tell you, that I’m okay.”

Someone had changed Yoongi’s clothes, too, had washed away Jimin’s black fingerprints from his forehead and cheek. His hair is dark and a little too long, and he’s-

He’s colorless, but beautiful; something precious that Jimin can’t lose, but that he doesn’t know how to protect. Doesn’t know how to curl around Yoongi and forever keep him safe, shield him from the world and the hurt and from his own energy.

“You-” Jimin’s hold tightens around Yoongi’s hand. “You need to be okay now, too, yeah? Everyone misses you, and- and the kids can’t sleep.” His mouth twists, vision swelling with tears. “We’re really worried, hyung. But we’re… We’re waiting for you. As long as it takes, we’ll be waiting for you.”

He doesn’t know what else to say. Maybe... Maybe he wants to tell Yoongi that he gets it, now. He understands.

This is what Yoongi has held inside of him for so long. This is why he keeps everyone at a distance, why he's so hard on himself - perhaps it has even happened before. Perhaps... This is why Yoongi had walked away from Jimin; had told him he was too dangerous. 

Because Yoongi knew what could happen. He knew what he was capable of. Fuck.

Fuck.

Jimin leans in and presses his lips to the back of Yoongi’s hand, and then rests his cheek on it, staying like that. Won't let anything hurt you, won't let anything bad happen again, please, just please, hyung... Come back to me...

He watches Yoongi; watches the incomprehensible lines on the nearest monitor, and how they rhythmically pulse.

They’re breathing. They’re alive. Together.

That’s enough, for now.

 


 

It’s the irrational, dreaming part of his mind which thinks Yoongi when someone gently stirs him awake.

But it’s not Yoongi. It’s Namjoon, smiling down at Jimin and getting him to sit up. Jimin’s cheek is hot where it was pressed into Yoongi’s hand.

“The doctor’s here to check on him,” Namjoon says as Jimin blinks away his slumber.

The doctor. Checking on him. Right.

“Okay, yeah.”

Reluctantly, he lets go of Yoongi’s hand and stands up, noticing a man in the doorway; short and weighty, with round-framed glasses and a friendly face, carrying a black doctor’s bag with him.

Jimin immediately bows, though has to grab onto Namjoon because of the sudden bout of dizziness from bending over so fast.

The doctor chuckles. “It’s nice to see you up and running, Jimin-ah. Just don’t overexert yourself, okay? Eat well and make sure you get lots of rest. You still have some ways to go, recovery-wise.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” Jimin says, then moves out of the way as the doctor sets his bag down on the chair, and regards Yoongi’s unconscious form.

“Any change since yesterday?”

“No, sir,” Namjoon replies. “Everything is… stable.”

“Good, that’s good. Stable is what we want right now.”

Jimin lingers in the back, by the door, not sure what to do with himself. The doctor pushes buttons and reads off of tiny slips of paper that some machines print out, letting out a hum here and there. Then he pulls out a large container of I.V. fluids and hangs it upside down on the stand.

“Hey.” Jimin turns to see Jungkook standing in the doorway beside him. He lightly tugs at Jimin’s short sleeve, casting a nervous glance at the happenings, like he’d rather not hang around the medicine for too long. “There’s… something you should see.”

Jimin glances at Namjoon, who nods - I’ve got this - and then follows Jungkook out. He’s still woozy, but more secure in his steps, better balanced overall.

“You asked how we knew,” Jungkook says as they enter the living room. “That something bad had happened?”

“Yeah?”

“Well…” He motions towards the kitchen, behind Jimin.

Jimin hadn’t noticed it when he had first got out of bed; when he had passed by, too focused on proper walking instead.

“What the…?”

Pip has… grown. Peppered with dozens of blue flowers, its vines and lavish leaves spilling over the edge of its pot, hanging down almost to the floor... It has gotten so much bigger. It’s a healthy deep green color - no spots, no oddities; Jimin reaches out with his energy, weaker than usual, as tired as his body is, but still sensing Pip. Still able to feel that it’s okay.

But this is not normal. It has only been a couple of days since Jimin saw it last, since Pip was still comfortably spread out in the large pot. It shouldn’t have grown this much.

Then Jimin comes closer to the rain-stained window and looks out at his flower shop; and his mouth drops open.

They’re- All of them, they have grown. Branched out, filling out the entirety of the small shop, like an unleashed jungle. The front window is broken in several places, some of the sticker letters from Pink Petal missing; stems as thick as in young trees are peeking out into the street.

“Namjoon-hyung was locking up his bookstore when he heard the glass break. Saw a weird flash of light,” Jungkook says behind him. “By the time he ran over, they were already like that. He assumed… He knew that something must have happened to you, to make your plants react that way.”

Only the Kim bakery and the Kim antique shop are open at the moment - not many people are wandering further into the alley, and definitely not paying much attention in the light drizzle. They don’t seem to notice, or care, that the flower shop got overtaken by its own plants.

Jimin has never seen anything like it. The flowers are as big as plates, leaves the size of his hand; he tries to feel them, to feel their warmth from across the street, but he can’t reach that far.

“I don’t-” Jimin shakes his head, bewildered.

He turns to seek out Taehyung, finds him standing beside Jungkook, both of them awkwardly waiting for his reaction.

“You told me they were fine,” Jimin tells Taehyung, though he’s not making accusations. Just trying to figure out what is going on.

Taehyung shrugs, a sad smile on his lips. “You weren’t strong enough to get up yet; I didn’t want to upset you. I sort of… made it up on the spot, because you were bad enough as it was. --but they do seem fine, though?” he asks, hopeful. Jungkook takes his hand, entwining their fingers together. “Apart from being... on steroids, apparently.”

Jimin huffs out a sound that’s part disbelief and part amusement, and looks back at the rainforest that his flower shop has become.

It’s… surreal. He can’t make out if this is a good thing or a bad thing or if he should be worried at all. Pip is fine, but Pip is also strangely quiet, not giving him enough to understand why this happened.

“I’m going down there,” he says. He needs to feel them; needs to know what they’re thinking, doing, what the reason for this is.

“We’re coming with you,” Taehyung replies without hesitation.

Jimin holds onto the railing as he walks down the stairs. Outside is chilly, too cold for the oversized t-shirt he’s wearing, infrequent droplets of rain like ice on his skin, but he barely even feels it. He’s slow in making his way across the alley, but he doesn’t waver.

Jungkook and Taehyung walk behind him, not insisting on helping him, but being there, just in case.

And the moment Jimin gets close enough, the moment his plants can feel him, the onslaught of everything is almost too much.

Under the energies, sensations, the sounds and voices of his plants, amplified tenfold and all at once in his mind, Jimin falters. He is himself, but he is also each of them, scattered through space; untethered, spinning and spinning without an anchor, without anything to ground him in one place. Jungkook and Taehyung are at his sides then, and Jimin has to grab onto Jungkook’s hoodie to steady himself.

“Ow,” he mutters, shutting his eyes tight. He tries to push back, to get them to calm down, but they’re not listening.

“Jimin-ah?”

“Just. Fuck. Just give me a minute.”

They’re loud, so loud in his head. It’s a lot to take in, to parse through; his body tenses up, heart in overdrive. He catches flashes of panic, relief, anger, an overwhelming mess; thought you were dead, where did you go, you were in danger, finally here-

“Kookie-” Jimin breathes before his knees buckle, and Jungkook catches him, arms firmly around his waist.

“It’s okay, okay, I got you, hyung.”

They somehow remain standing, but Jimin’s hands tremble where they’re gripping at Jungkook’s sleeves. “They-” His head is starting to hurt. “They thought I was dying. Th- Ow.”

“Maybe we should go back,” Taehyung whispers; Jimin shakes his head.

“They felt my energy decreasing. They were going to… help.” A particularly sharp pain lances behind his eyebrows - one of the plants is weeping, the sensation like someone dragging nails down the inside of Jimin’s skull. “They helped- They thought I was going to die, and they had let me use their energy.”

They felt it, the moment Jimin had given up that night. They felt the moment Yoongi’s energy eclipsed his own. And they were not going to let Jimin go.

He doesn’t understand the mechanics of it, but he knows; that sphere of warmth he had felt. That was from his plants. The moment he was going to die, they had reached out to him, desperate to save him. That required strength, a herculean effort. That’s why they have grown like this.

“I need to get in,” Jimin says. “Tae… Is it locked?”

He vaguely recalls not locking up that night, when he’d been so angry that Yoongi might have left Pip unattended.

“No idea,” Taehyung says. “We haven’t tried to get in.” He walks ahead as Jimin uses Jungkook as a crutch to slowly make his way over to the shop.

They pause in front of the door to Pink Petal. The initial frenzy inside Jimin’s mind has died down somewhat, but he can see that the plants inside are restless, moving in ways plants really shouldn’t be able to. The few people that pass by don’t even look in their direction, umbrellas low over their eyes and steps hurried to spend as little time in the fine rain as possible.

Taehyung lays a hand on the doorknob, tries to turn it. “Yeah, I think it’s open. Ready?”

“Yeah.”

Jimin steps away from Jungkook, inhales through his nose and wills himself to concentrate. In case the plants decide to be more un-plant-like than usual, it would be up to him to convince them to stay inside and not cause mass panic.

Taehyung pushes the door open. He stands aside, as though waiting for a barrage of thorns from the rose bush, but the plants are still. They don’t react; they know it would be all shades of wrong if they started moving.

Jimin takes a cautious step forward, then another, and when he enters - when he crosses the threshold, the warmth is instantaneous.

Not the physical kind; not like the sticky heat of summer. It’s not an emotion either, or a coherent thought - they’re no longer upset. Now that he's here, among them, his plants feel better; they have mellowed out and returned to their everyday, gentle dispositions.

It’s a soft glow all around him, inside of him; the kind that cradled him while he was unconscious. Maybe that was the effect of the plants as well. Maybe that was them, watching over him while his friends did the same.

Jimin walks in, and the woven leaves, the flowers and the stems part to let him through. They close back around him with a hushed sound, so that even if they wanted to, Jungkook and Taehyung couldn’t follow.

The sounds outside are all but drowned out. What’s left is the green, the color, and the peace. A different kind of sanctuary for Jimin; one he grew up with, a welcome of his old friends; an embrace around his heart, his soul, mending his body and his bruised mind.

“Jiminie?” Taehyung’s voice reaches him, muffled and uncertain.

“I’m okay,” Jimin replies. He’s standing in the middle of his shop, rooted to the spot. Filled out completely, and almost weightless. He is himself, but he is also each of them. Connected. Intertwined. 

He closes his eyes, taking in the intoxicating fragrance of his flowers. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Oh, okay. Um… We’ll be here.”

So he stays.

Jimin stays, breathes in with every corner of his lungs, and he forgets, for a fraction of a second, that the world outside his shop exists.

 


 

Over the next few days, they do what they can.

Meaning not much.

Jimin sits with Yoongi most of his waking time. He sleeps in the chair next to Yoongi’s bed, with Yoongi’s fingers between his own. He could easily fit in the bed space between Yoongi and the wall, but it doesn’t feel right, somehow. Even after everything - after almost dying together - Jimin is acutely aware of the fact that the last time they had a real conversation Yoongi had said no.

In the stillness of Yoongi’s bedroom, Jimin dreams of dark, slithery things. Dreams of sinking in a vat of black oil, of soundlessly screaming and clawing at his own throat to get air. Always, he startles awake, drenched in cold sweat and heaving, eyes automatically searching for the nearest machine - the one on the nightstand, which he has learned shows Yoongi’s heart beats. Regular. Unchanged.

Jimin shivers, and brushes his fingers over the soft skin on the inside of Yoongi’s wrist. Feels the chill of the tattoos there.

“I’m here,” Jimin whispers, his own pulse resettling. “I’m still here, hyung. I’m not going anywhere.”

Please come back to me.

He’s not sure if Yoongi can hear him.

The doctor comes once a day. Gives Yoongi his medicine, two bags of I.V. fluids with some other stuff injected into them, and he reads the machines and he’s… polite. He’s a nice man with a reassuring smile, but he’s careful not to give too much hope whenever they ask him about Yoongi.

The four of them eat together, in Yoongi’s kitchen. Try to make conversation. It’s stilted, strained, more and more with every passing hour that Yoongi isn’t conscious.

Namjoon goes back to his bookstore. He opens it up every day, and texts whoever is with Yoongi every hour. Taehyung has a couple of jobs, but they’re for specific events and not for very long; he edits the photos in Yoongi's kitchen. Jungkook works mostly nights now, and he sleeps on Yoongi’s couch during the day.

They’re wasting, all of them. Before Jimin’s eyes, they’re losing appetite and smiling less and staring blankly at walls. And Jimin, too, he supposes. The food he eats doesn’t taste like anything, and his surroundings are every bit as gray as the perpetually cloudy sky outside.

One evening, he catches Namjoon quietly crying by Yoongi’s fridge, and hurries to give him a hug.

“I told myself I wouldn’t-” Namjoon hiccups, hand limp on where he was going to open the fridge door. “I won’t because he’s not-” He shakes his head. “He’s alive. I won’t mourn the living.”

They cry together, after that.

 



He needs to repair the window of his shop, but it sounds too difficult, to find the right person to remove the broken glass, to take measurements and deliver a new one, to make new stickers, to... to resume life as normal. How? How to function, when his heart is in Yoongi's motionless hand?  

When Jimin feels like he can’t take it anymore; when he needs a reprieve from the grief and when someone else occupies the chair by Yoongi’s bed for a little while, he retreats to his plants.

There at least, he has something to do. He feels somewhat useful, helping them reduce their size, bringing them back inside the interior of the shop. He has something else to grab his attention and to keep his thoughts away from the constant spasm he's in.

And it has changed, the way he feels them now. The way they interact. After that first day when he had gone to see them, Jimin has come to understand that it is not a him and them kind of thing anymore. Maybe it never was, or never supposed to be.

It’s more a matter of one energy - all-encompassing and warm and so generous - dispersed through all of them; they’re tied together in more ways than he had anticipated. The more his plants give out, the more he takes in, and vice versa. It’s what he uses to heal them if they’re unwell, and it’s what they use, in turn, to heal him. To pull him back from the brink of death.

Jimin spends probably an unhealthy amount of time thinking about that. As he works on easing his flowers back to their original size in the calm of his flower shop, he compiles everything he knows; everything he had seen and what Namjoon had told him.

Because, when it comes down to it, that’s what happens with Jungkook, too, doesn’t it? Jungkook loses control, and Yoongi’s energy brings him back. Yoongi lost control, and Jimin’s energy - and that of his plants - had brought him back.

Jimin didn’t do it deliberately - he didn’t even know he was capable of it, didn’t know that he and his plants worked on such a level - but if he were to practice… to hone that skill…

It’s with that idea in mind that he gets interrupted early Thursday afternoon, over a week after he had first woken up.

Jimin is sitting on the floor of his shop and exchanging energy with the daffodils, helping them become smaller, when Namjoon’s voice breaks the quiet,

“I thought you were like me.”

Jimin looks up to see him in the doorway; hands in his pockets, smiling a little at the bright yellow flowers, how their stems are retreating into themselves. His eyes are red. All of their eyes are bloodshot, puffy from tears and sleep deprivation. “I thought that your energy was quiet, gentle. And I suppose it is, in a way.”

Jimin brushes a hand over the yellow petals; the daffodils exhale warmth that only he can feel, and decrease in size.

“What I didn’t take into account, however,” Namjoon continues, “is that you share your energy. With them. Your plants… are your power. It’s very strange. Different, from most of us. On one hand, when you’re on your own, your energy is like mine. Calm, pacifying. But when threatened, when backed up with what your plants have themselves… It’s… almost unstoppable.”

“They…” Jimin clears his throat, only recently having gained most of his voice back. It still gets scratchy sometimes. “They told me they had kind of… let me use their energy? When mine was… not enough.” Not enough to fight back; not enough to keep him alive. “That’s why they have grown this much?”

“They’re protective of you,” Namjoon says with a nod. “They had let you tap into their source so that you could live. So that Yoongi-hyung could live, too.”

Live.

Live.

Jimin blinks, clenching his jaw over the jagged pain in his chest. The one which is always there now, its spikes deep in his ribcage, impossible to pull out.

“Is it... the same? Is what I did... what we did,” he says, gesturing to the flowers, “is that like what Yoongi-hyung does for Jungkook?”

Namjoon turns the question over in his head. “I think so. Your energy, from you and your plants combined, overpowered his own. Yeah.”

“So… Would it be possible, for me to learn? I don’t know, how to do it better? ...safer? So, if it happens again…” If Yoongi wakes up, if he gets out of bed, if they manage to overcome this, if, if- “If it happens again, would I be able to…?” Keep him safe, protect him, protect him-

“Hm.” Namjoon looks down, considering. “I don’t... see why not.” His gaze flicks up to Jimin, and he seems surprised that this thought hasn’t occurred to him first. How could it, when he's been merely a shadow of himself. “I think… Yes, that- that could be possible.” And then he smiles, laughs in a manner of someone who has discovered something huge, something exciting and stupidly relieving at the same time. “You could totally learn that! And you could help hyung. You could-” He stops, and his eyes go a little wide. “You should go tell him that right now.”

“What?”

Namjoon’s eyes gleam, his smile still wide, but his emotions getting the best of him. “That’s what I came here to tell you,” he says, biting his lower lip.

“Jimin-ah. He’s awake.”

 

Chapter Text

Namjoon’s words are distant in his mind. “I’ll stay here, but you should go and see him. Talk to him, Jimin-ah. He needs to hear good things from you.”

Jimin’s footsteps are light; his ankles have been unshackled, released from their weights. Now he can actually take a full-sized step, for the first time in over a week.

The alley outside the flower shop, the people walking by, the light bulb swinging above the staircase to Yoongi’s apartment - all of it is in slow motion. Jimin’s heart is in an uproar, and as a result everything else has gone silent. He’s in a bubble; noises are hard to distinguish and colors are gleaming in a strange way, brighter than he remembers them ever being.

Taehyung is the one who lets him into the apartment. “They’re in the bathroom,” he says quietly, closing the door. “Hyung… When we told him what happened, he sort of… threw up. Or, you know. Whatever you do when you don’t have much to throw up.” Taehyung swallows. “Jungkookie is helping him brush his teeth.”

Jimin nods, his vocal chords not cooperating. How inconsequential - brushing his teeth, when only a moment ago they didn’t know if he’d ever wake up; if they would have to say goodbye.

In a daze, Jimin walks past Taehyung, past the closed door of the bathroom and into Yoongi’s bedroom. He takes a moment, a breath, to adjust to the sight of the empty bed.

He’s up. Yoongi is up; he’s on his feet; he’s awake.

Jimin sits down in the vacant chair - his chair, the one he practically lived in for the past week - but then he gets back up. He doesn’t want to have his back turned to the bathroom door. Water is running on the other side of it, Jungkook’s voice barely heard over the stream.

A little more waiting. Just a minute longer. Two minutes. Jimin can do that. He can. He sits on the edge of the bed, stays there, eyes trained on the door across the hallway.

The afternoon light is dim and melancholy. The last of September has stolen away the blue sky, leaving behind heavy clouds and occasional rain. Jimin can hear it softly coming down on the window panes. He’s not sure if the thunder is real or if it’s from his own heartbeat.

Then finally, finally, the rush of water in the bathroom stops. A blink, an eternity later - the door opens.

Jungkook has his arm around Yoongi’s waist, holding him tightly against his side. In tandem, they step out, carefully, and Yoongi… Yoongi looks like he really needs that support. He’s so thin, his clothes hanging off of his bony wrists; a ghost, barely weighing anything, an eggshell about to crumble.

Jimin grits his teeth. When all of this is over, after they talk and after this nightmare is behind them - he’s going to buy so much food for Yoongi. He’s going to keep him company and make sure that Yoongi is healthy again.

He watches the pair cross the hallway painfully slowly; they stop in the doorway when they spot him on the bed.

Yoongi stares. Jimin meets his gaze, hands curling on his thighs.

“Jungkookie,” he says, not taking his eyes off of Yoongi. “Could you please give us a minute?”

Jungkook hesitates, casts a glance at Yoongi, but Yoongi gives him a minute nod. With permission, Jungkook gently pulls away - Yoongi takes hold of the door frame instead - and walks off.

They wait as Taehyung and Jungkook quietly exchange words; as they put on their shoes, take their jingly keys, and the door of Yoongi’s apartment opens and closes.

Yoongi’s gaze travels down to Jimin’s neck, to the evidence of what he’d done. The bruise is less saturated, more yellowish now, not so tender anymore, but still unmistakable.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Yoongi says. His voice is not his voice; it’s a crack, something broken and rusty from disuse.

Jimin isn’t fazed. Yoongi wouldn’t be Yoongi if that wasn’t the first thing out of his mouth. And it’s a strange sort of reassurance, to hear his self-sacrificing side again. To know that Yoongi is still himself, thinking of others and their safety - how they should be as far away from him as possible - without caring how he sounds in the process.

So Jimin returns with a similar phrasing, only in a kinder tone, “You should stop pushing people away.”

“You need to leave, now,” Yoongi continues, ignoring Jimin’s words. He starts towards the bed, but a round trip as he keeps one hand on the wall. His steps take a long, long time.

“It wasn’t your fault, hyung,” Jimin says.

“What happened before will definitely happen again, and-”

“-and I fought against it,” Jimin finishes. Yoongi stops only a few steps in. His glare is intense, burning like he can’t believe Jimin is arguing with him on this.

“I hurt you-” Yoongi starts.

“That wasn’t you.”

“I had my hand around your throat-”

“You didn’t know what you were doing.”

Yoongi’s free hand clenches into a fist. “The bruise on your neck-”

“The energy I share with my plants was enough to protect me-”

“-I almost strangled y-”

“-and to protect you-”

“-stop-”

“-and everything was fine in the en-”

“You could have died!” Yoongi shouts, his slim frame shaking. “You could have- I could’ve killed -” he falters, and just for a moment, Jimin sees how devastated Yoongi is. For a brief second before Yoongi bows his head and shuts his eyes, Jimin sees all the pieces of him, shattered between them.

It knocks the air out of his lungs. Jimin forces an inhale, and another one, forces himself to stay where he is.

“Hyung, it doesn’t have to be like this.”

Yoongi says nothing. His breathing is labored; he’s barely keeping himself upright. When he finally speaks, he sounds defeated. “I can’t do this, Jimin. I just… can’t.”

“Can’t do what?”

“This, this, I don’t fucking know!” Yoongi spits the words out like they’re toxic. “I can’t have this conversation and I can’t be here, and I can’t deal with this- I can’t be this anymore, I don’t want to be this person, this thing, this- I can’t, I can’t, I fucking…!”

His legs give out. Before Jimin can spring from his seat, Yoongi slides down to the floor, letting out a wretched sound, between a sob and a moan; a sound of helplessness and agony. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t…! ” he repeats, dragging his nails over his scalp, hurting himself, hurting Jimin.

“No, hyung, please,” Jimin implores, on his feet in an instant and then kneeling right in front of him. “Don’t-”

But Yoongi is clawing at his head, his hair, digging in deep; intent on causing pain, on drawing blood-

“Hyung, stop it!” Jimin grabs his wrists. Yoongi resists, tries to break free, to somehow push Jimin away, but he’s too weak. “Stop it, Yoongi, please,” Jimin pleads quietly, holding Yoongi’s wrists away from his ruffled hair as Yoongi struggles, gives it all he’s got - an animal trapped, without a way out - “Hyung!” Jimin shouts, and then Yoongi finally gives up.

His unsettled tattoos race across his pale skin, spikes of cold underneath Jimin’s fingertips.

Yoongi screws his eyes shut, breathing hard. “Fuck! Fuck, just… Just-” He hides his face in his knees, trembling all over. “I can’t. I can’t,” he mumbles, so unsteady and so desperate that Jimin chokes on it.  

He shifts closer, eases his grip on Yoongi’s arms but still holds them loosely, just in case.

“You can, hyung. You can do anything. You are strong, and kind, and...” Jimin caresses the smooth skin of Yoongi’s forearms with his thumbs. “And you are not alone.

“You have us, Yoongi-hyung. Jin-hyung, and Namjoon-hyung, and Tae, and Jungkookie… And you have me.”

Yoongi shakes his head, like he doesn’t want to hear it, or doesn’t believe. Jimin isn’t leaving until Yoongi gets it.

“It won’t be like this anymore, hyung. You won’t have to go through this again.” Never again, if Jimin has anything to say about it. Yoongi sniffles, but Jimin presses on, “I talked to Joon-hyung, about what happened. About you, and me, and… and how it all played out. And he said it’s possible… It won’t be easy, but I’ll work hard, and I’ll practice, and… you’ll teach me, hyung.

“Just like you learned yourself, you’ll teach me. How to control my energy better, how to trade it with my plants; how to use it if you need it… Yoongi,” Jimin says, his voice low, almost indistinct from Yoongi’s quiet crying. “I will be for you what you are for Jungkook. Do you hear me? I’m strong enough to do that. I already did it once, and next time I’ll do it better. This won’t happen again. You won’t have to go through-”

But then Yoongi lets out a loud sob, worse than before. He wrenches his wrists away from Jimin’s loose grip, to hug his knees instead of lashing out at himself. Tight, tight, he packs himself into a ball, crying harder, puncturing holes in Jimin’s heart.

“Hyung…”

Yoongi doesn’t react, sobbing without control. His wails are loud, ringing out in the bedroom, and Jimin feels them deep, deep in his chest, in his soul. A grief of someone who’s held it in for too long - for months, years maybe; a pain which made him into what he is, which defined Yoongi, and which now maybe doesn’t have to be there anymore.

Jimin bites on his lips to keep it together. He finds a place beside Yoongi and sits down against the wall. He wants to touch, to comfort; wants to pull Yoongi into him and wrap him up in warmth; convince him that it’ll be okay, now.

He’s not sure if it would be welcome.

So Jimin compromises. As Yoongi shivers, weeps, Jimin lays a hand on his back. Strokes soothingly. “It’s okay, hyung,” he whispers. “From now on, it’ll be better.” He feels every sob, every pitiful whine as he edges closer. Jimin closes his eyes, leans down and lets Yoongi’s anguish wash over him. He swallows Yoongi’s misery, his forceful cries, and whispers encouragements into his shoulder, “I’ll learn how to control it, hyung. This was the last time. We’ll be fine.”

It tastes bitter. Cold and bitter, but Jimin presses even closer, dares to wrap his other arm around Yoongi. Holds him, feels every shudder of Yoongi’s body, and is steady against it. Despite his own throat closing up, his own emotions, Jimin is unwavering.

Yoongi hurts, but Jimin comforts.

Because, in the end, Yoongi needs this. He needs to let it out, to hear it; to know that there’s no running away; no one’s leaving, and no one is giving up. No one hates him. He’s strong, and smart, and so fucking caring, and together they’ll find a way out of this.

Jimin doesn’t know how long it lasts. He can’t tell if Yoongi cries for minutes or for hours, but he also doesn’t really care. He has nowhere else to be than here, right at Yoongi’s side, holding him through it.

“I’m here, hyung,” he says, feeling Yoongi’s sobs grow weaker, less frequent. “You just have to… trust us. Let us take care of you. Let me… Let me take care of you, hyung.”

It takes a while more until Yoongi stops shivering. Until he takes a ragged inhale, followed by one last unbidden whimper, and unclenches. His muscles go lax in Jimin’s embrace, no longer as tight as a bowstring, and he's finally almost settled.

Jimin pulls away a bit, gives him a moment to breathe, to get his bearings. Watches him; watches how Yoongi lifts his head, but immediately covers his face with his hand, wiping the tears away. His dark hair is messy, all over, and Jimin suppresses the urge to tuck some of the strands away.

You’re beautiful, you’ll be fine, and I’m in love with you, he thinks, but doesn’t say. It isn’t the time or the place for that. Jimin only feels it, rooted in his heart, and he can’t explain it, but he knows that this is the tipping point. This is where it stops being bad and slowly starts getting good again. Just how slowly, he’s not sure, but they are not in a hurry to get anywhere, anyway.

At last, Yoongi stops hiding, drops his hand. His round nose is pink, eyelashes heavy with tears, but he casts a despondent glance at Jimin - like he’s judging him for still being here; for being so close and so unrelenting.

Jimin lets the corners of his lips quirk up - he knows that look; knows how to fight it with a smile.

“Talked to Namjoon, huh?” Yoongi asks.

“Yeah,” Jimin says. “It was my idea, actually, because…” He shrugs with one shoulder. “Because I couldn’t- I wanted to see if there was a way out of this. For you. If we could use what happened and make it… good.”

“Good,” Yoongi echoes. He stares at his knees, looks like he’s turning the word over and over in his mind - good, good, what good could possibly come of this?

But then he starts, carefully, “If… If we do this. If we do this and I hurt you again...” He looks at Jimin, intense, serious. “If I hurt you again, Jimin-ah, I won’t be able to-”

“You won’t,” Jimin cuts him off before Yoongi can finish. Yoongi glares, but Jimin smiles wider, scooting closer again. He’s braver, now that Yoongi is showing signs of accepting this. Now that they’re on the right path, Jimin doesn’t hesitate. “You won’t hurt me, hyung,” he whispers, and he’s sure of it.

There’s a gleam of a tear track from the corner of Yoongi’s eye. Jimin doesn’t hold back anymore; he reaches slowly, and wipes it away with his fingertips. His heart is hopeless, fluttering and tripping over itself and loving - he cups the side of Yoongi’s face, brushes over his cheekbone, gentle, feather-light... Beautiful, beautiful…

Like an instinct, a reflex, Yoongi closes his eyes.

“You’re really stubborn, you know that,” he mumbles, but doesn’t mind that Jimin touches him like that; that he can finally be as tender as he wants to be with Yoongi.

“I’ve been told,” Jimin says.

Yoongi holds onto his pretend annoyance for a beat longer, and then he breathes out. His shoulders slump, and he leans into Jimin’s hand, into his touch. He frowns, the same expression Jimin had seen before; like this affection pains Yoongi, like he doesn’t think he deserves it.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers, because he does, Yoongi does deserve it. All of it and more.

Jimin rests his forehead against Yoongi’s; breathes with him; caresses his face; thinks how he’ll fight the whole world if it means that Yoongi will be happy.

“I’m just…” Yoongi says, not opening his eyes. “I’m so tired.”

“I know.” Jimin nuzzles into him, presses the tip of his nose to Yoongi’s cheek, feels like he’s going to burst. “I know. It’s okay to be tired.”

Yoongi hums, as though he’s already half on his way to falling asleep. He’d only woken up today and he is already out of bed, emotionally and physically drained, and he needs to recover.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers into his skin, “Let’s go to bed.” Yoongi agrees, barely audible.

They slowly pick themselves up off the floor, with Jimin holding Yoongi up. He keeps him close, and helps him back into bed, pulling the covers over him.

This time, Yoongi doesn’t have to ask. This time, Jimin rounds the bed on his own volition, and climbs into the space between Yoongi and the wall. He slides under the sheets as well, and turns to Yoongi. Admires him, again, always, his pretty face and too long bangs; and he does it again - fits a hand to the side of Yoongi’s face, unable not to touch him. Unable not to care for him.

Yoongi cracks his eyes open. He stares at Jimin, blinks slowly, and just when Jimin is about to ask if anything is wrong, Yoongi moves. He eases into Jimin’s space, curls into him; Jimin’s breath hitches when Yoongi presses his face into his chest, folds his arms between them and settles there, tucked under Jimin’s chin.

Their legs are tangled under the covers now; Jimin has no other choice but to wrap his arms around Yoongi.

Not like he would do anything else - anything other than holding him, keeping him safe and warm, and never letting him go.

 


 

Jimin doesn’t really sleep.

He listens. Feels, as Yoongi’s breathing evens out, as he relaxes in Jimin’s embrace. Falls asleep. He’s still strangely small and fragile, and Jimin doesn’t know how to handle all this softness in his arms. Inside of him.

He closes his eyes as well, but doesn’t doze off. Instead, he rubs Yoongi’s back in a calm, repetitive way, and thinks about the future.

In the quiet, dull afternoon light, Jimin thinks about what happens next. How Yoongi and Namjoon will help him. How he’ll work with his plants and practice diligently. For Yoongi. For them. He’s confident that he can do this. It’s a risk, but one that’s far better than the alternative.

He tries not to think about their own relationship. His own feelings, buzzing and swelling and so maddeningly there. Never gone - only been pushed to the side with everything that’s been going on, but never truly disappeared.

Jimin tries not to think whether Yoongi wishes to remain only friends, now. Whether they will get closer, or further apart, and how much more Jimin will have to fight against Yoongi’s tendency to self-destruct. He tries not to wonder, but he mostly fails.

After a while, Jimin hears the apartment door open. Quiet footsteps, hushed voices, a pause, and then Taehyung and Namjoon emerge in the doorway of the bedroom. Their gazes fall on the two in the bed, and they both raise their eyebrows in pleasant surprise.

Yoongi, nestled in Jimin’s arms, doesn’t even stir, his breath warm and even down Jimin’s shirt. Jimin smiles at them and shoots them a thumbs up over Yoongi’s back.

Taehyung returns with two of his own, his grin wide and boxy, and Namjoon mouths that they’ll be back tomorrow. Gestures that they should call if they need anything.

Jimin nods, and they leave, closing the door behind them. He bows his head and presses his lips to the top of Yoongi’s head; pulls him in closer; feels all of this, only for him.

 


 

“Hungry?” Jimin whispers.

Yoongi blinks hazily, barely conscious. When he rose from his slumber he had detached himself from Jimin a little, and now his hair is swept away from his forehead, cheeks round and lips extra pouty, extra kissable. He nods.

Night has descended on the street, on Yoongi’s apartment, thick and intimate. Jimin gets out of bed and pads over to the kitchen. Street lights pour in yellow cones through the windows, and he doesn’t switch on any lights inside.

He finds leftover food in the fridge - shrimp pasta from the small Italian place on the boulevard, and a bowl of fruit salad that Seokjin had insisted they make over Skype, so that they always have something healthy at hand. Taehyung had picked out all the mango for himself, so that Jimin didn’t have to eat it, and now it’s just pineapple, watermelon, banana, and melon.

Jimin sets all of this down on a tray, steals a few bites of pineapple as he goes. He heats up the pasta in the microwave, adds a bottle of water, and brews some persimmon tea. In theory, after going for so long without solid food, Yoongi should start with liquids, but small bites and thorough chewing should also do the trick.

He checks that he has everything he needs - cutlery, napkins - and is just about to carry the tray back, when a peep stops him. A well known spark of energy, still squeaky despite the newly developed, unexpected size of the plant.

Jimin smiles at Pip. Instead of simply doing its equivalent of smiling back, one of Pip’s flower stems grows longer, separates itself from the rest. The flower at the end of it is big, open, dark blue edges of the petals fading into a light blue center - stunning.

And Jimin recognizes the gesture. Gently, he wraps a hand around the flower, and doesn’t move as it disconnects itself from the plant. Jimin’s smile grows wider - a gift, for Yoongi.

Pip had been as worried as everyone else; unusually quiet and subdued whenever Jimin had watered it, had tried to talk to it. Unlike Jimin’s plants at the shop, Pip had refused to return back to its original size.

Now Jimin carefully sets the flower in a corner of the tray, next to the tea, and carries everything over to the bedroom.

Yoongi turns when he hears Jimin enter, pushes himself up to sit with an effort. He’s still sporting his deathly pallor, pale blue in the night, dark shades under his eyes, some of his hair sticking out in every direction. Jimin wants him, and aches for him. Pines, even now.

“Here,” he says, setting the tray down between Yoongi and where he’ll be sitting. “You should eat slowly and carefully, and drink lots of tea. And water, if you want.”

Without a reply, Yoongi picks up a fork and does exactly that. Jimin returns to his place on the bed, crosses his legs while facing Yoongi, and helps himself as well.

They eat in silence, from the same plates, drinking from the same cup of tea. Yoongi notices the blue flower, touches it and releases a breath that can only be a semblance of a laugh.

“Pip worried about you,” Jimin says, moving over the fruit in the bowl to get to more of the sugary pink watermelon. “We all did.”

“I know,” Yoongi says; a tone which suggests, you wasted your time worrying about me. I don’t deserve that, but instead, he just follows with a clipped, “Thank you.”

He can’t eat more than a few bites of each serving. He finishes off the tea and drinks water, and Jimin is satisfied that he at least had this much. Slowly, they’ll get him back to his old self. In time.

Not in the mood to get up again, Jimin moves the tray to the floor beside the bed and lies back down next to Yoongi, pulling the covers over both of them. He expects Yoongi to go back to sleep, but in the slivers of lamplight from the street, he sees that Yoongi keeps his eyes open. Looks at Jimin, or rather through him, like he’s mulling something over, considering it. Jimin smiles a little, to encourage him.

“Hyung?”

“This…” Yoongi starts. Stops, licks his lips. “This wasn’t the first time this happened.”

This - Yoongi losing control, Yoongi nearly dying. His ink taking over everything.

“Joon-hyung told me it happened only twice before, in all the time he’s known you.”

“Yeah…” Yoongi shifts, adjusts the pillow under his head. “It’s not often… Unlike Jungkook, who doesn’t have the best control yet, who gets triggered more, especially if he works with his electronics too much… I’m. I’m good at this. Or at least I thought I was. I worked hard. I practiced. I knew that I had to control it better than anyone, because…”

Because his energy can take people’s lives.

Jimin doesn’t say anything, just slips a hand across the small space between them, and finds Yoongi’s; holds it, squeezes it. Yoongi squeezes back.

“A year ago… Maybe more,” he says. “I felt it coming. I can usually tell, when it starts to get restless. When it’s getting more and more difficult to contain. If I work too much or don’t sleep for longer periods of time… If I’m not okay somehow. I can tell when my control starts slipping, and I can prevent it from getting out.”

“The tub?” Jimin asks quietly, remembering Namjoon’s explanation. “You get into a tub of water…?”

“Yeah. If I feel like it’s going in that direction, I fill up my bathtub, and - it helps. If any of the ink starts getting out, the water slows it down.” Yoongi pauses, and Jimin feels his thumb over the back of his hand; as though Yoongi isn’t doing it consciously, almost like a soothing motion, like he is finding purchase in this contact with Jimin. “A year ago… I knew it was going to happen. I got into the tub, and I tried to focus. Usually, I can stop it before it gets way out of hand, if I- If I can just concentrate, and somehow… internalize it.” He frowns. “It’s difficult to explain.

“But, um.” Yoongi’s voice wavers.

Jimin waits until he’s ready to continue.

“He- He wasn’t supposed to be here,” Yoongi says at last.

And it’s something that Jimin had assumed, before. In his quiet moments in the flower shop, with plenty of time to analyze everything, Jimin had thought about it. Thought that, maybe, that was the reason - the cause of all of this. Why Yoongi is the way he is, why their group fell apart, why all the silence and the tiptoeing and the strange, overwhelming sadness. It was this, of course it was this, it was-

“Hobi. Hoseok. He wasn’t supposed to be here. He, uh… I think he was meeting Joon and Jin-hyung? Like- They were going to see a movie or something. And he dropped by. I don’t know why... Maybe he wanted to get me to go with them. But he wasn’t- He wasn’t supposed to be here,” Yoongi repeats, voice quieter.

Jimin doesn’t have to imagine what happened next. He knows it, has felt it first hand. Still has the yellowish bruises to prove it.

“I didn’t-” Yoongi grits his teeth. “I didn’t recognize him. I didn’t know what was- what I was doing.”

“I know,” Jimin whispers.

Yoongi tries to keep his breathing even, but Jimin sees that he’s barely managing it. He’s holding onto Jimin’s hand like his life depends on it. “When… When they found him, he wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t- I wasn’t conscious, but later they told me- When he didn’t show up at Namjoon’s on time, and I wasn’t answering my phone…

“They found him in the hallway. He’d tried to get away, to esca-” Yoongi’s voice breaks, and he takes a moment to gather himself, inhales loud and shaky. “They... got him downstairs, and called an ambulance, and... fuck.”

Jimin slides closer. He leans his forehead on Yoongi’s on the pillow, doesn’t let go of his hand, keeps it firmly between their chests.

“The worst part is,” Yoongi’s voice is hoarse, tortured, “that he didn’t say anything. The police saw the ink on his clothes; they knew he almost died. They saw the marks, the evidence, and they questioned him. And he didn’t- He didn’t say anything. He refused to confirm their suspicions. Hope-ah…” Yoongi’s hand trembles in Jimin’s, and Jimin fits as close to him as he can, encases him in love. “I don’t know if he made something up, or if he just kept quiet or… Whatever it was, no one came to see me. No one asked about me. Hope-ah protected me. He was my best friend... My best friend until the end, and I almost… I almost killed him.” Yoongi clutches at Jimin’s shirt with his free hand. “I almost… god, Jiminie, I almost killed you.”

“It wasn’t you,” Jimin whispers in the small gap between their lips; urgently, desperately. “You said it yourself, hyung, that you didn’t know him. You didn’t know me.”

“I should have recognized you. I should have known, I should have fucking stopped …!” Yoongi’s eyes are shut, his words angry, disappointed at himself. “I should have apologized… Later, I should have talked to him and visited him- I didn’t know what to say and I still don’t- I don’t know if he’s angry or scared or hurt or all of that and I don’t know what to do or how to-” He inhales sharply, unsteadily. “How to make it better,” he says in the end. “Or even if I can. I’m… I’m such a fucking coward.” Yoongi laughs horribly, with self-deprecation.

“You’re not, you’re not a coward, hyung,” Jimin insists, closing his eyes, feeling every point of contact between him and Yoongi. Their hands, their foreheads, legs, one shared bed and one shared pain. “You’re also hurt and you’re also scared and that’s- that’s fine, hyung. It’s fine. You can’t expect to make all the right decisions when you’re feeling like that.”

“It was my fault - all of it -”

“Shhhh,” Jimin murmurs, brushing their noses together. “It’s not; it’s not your fault, Yoongi. I don’t blame you for what happened. You can’t blame yourself for what happened. You can’t blame yourself for absolutely everything - it’s not fair to you. It’s not fair…”

He doesn’t have anything more to offer. He wants to reach inside, to pull all the darkness and the sorrow out of Yoongi’s heart; wants to make this go away and to give more, to do more, but this is all he has, at this moment. Right now, all Jimin has to offer is himself, his presence, and his willingness to do anything to reassure Yoongi.

“Jimin-ah…”

Jimin feels wetness on his face - tears, but not his own, and he wonders how it is possible to be pressed against someone and still feel a distance, a gap between them; to still feel like you want to permeate every fiber of their being, to crawl into their clothes and under their skin and tell them they are fucking amazing.

“Jimin, I…” Yoongi sniffs, Jimin’s hand in his own; Jimin’s shirt rumpled in his other fist. “Don’t- Just- Don’t…” Whatever he wants to say fights against his lips, his tongue, doesn’t want to be said out loud - and Yoongi takes a few more sharp breaths before he gets it out, “Don’t go. Jimin... Please, don’t leave.”

And if there ever is a second to pinpoint where Jimin’s heart splits in half, where it cracks down the middle and makes him lose his composure, lose his sanity in everything he feels - then this is it. This is when Jimin lets go of Yoongi’s hand and wraps him up in his arms, pulls him in close, hard, hard, holding him so tightly they will both probably bruise, and whispers into his ear,

“I’m here, hyung,” he repeats what he’s said so many times. “I’m not going anywhere, Yoongi. Ever. I’m not leaving you and I’m not giving up and you’re not alone. You’re not alone.”

Yoongi breathes harshly, and doesn’t resist, and maybe, just maybe, this time, he actually hears what Jimin is trying to tell him.

 


 

The blinds are closed, but the sky is getting lighter outside. Through the slits Yoongi watches the midnight blue fade away, the stars dissolving under the advance of purples, lilacs…

He couldn’t stay in bed. He needed to not be lying down; to slip away for a second, only a moment, to clear his head. To breathe.

He’s standing by the window now, by the foot of the bed. A soft rustle of sheets disturbs the veil of silence as a sleeping Jimin shifts in the bed, not an arm’s length away.

Jimin.

Jimin.

Yoongi closes his eyes, his heart beating in time with the name.

Ji-min. Ji-min.

The boy with the breathtaking smile; the boy who talks to flowers.

The boy Yoongi kissed; who saved Yoongi’s life, in more ways than one.

It’s hard for Yoongi to fit all of what he feels into one word. Into even a string of words. Whatever the name for it is, it’s huge, filling out his ribcage and stretching out, out, to the tips of his fingers and toes, making him lightheaded. Making it hard for him to breathe.

It’s affection. Love. Earth-shattering gratefulness.

It’s also worry, and fear. Despair, because he can’t predict the future and he doesn’t know what’s coming; he just knows that it’s not all bad, and that is exactly why it terrifies him.

He can deal with all bad. He’s had all bad, ever since he’d woken up and realized he’d almost… Ever since he’d realized Hoseok wasn’t coming back.

Yoongi is used to all bad.

He’s not used to this. Not used to someone systematically breaking down his walls, making themselves at home in his heart without a drop of shame, being so fucking persistent-

What is coming is not all bad and Yoongi doesn’t know how to handle it.

So he tries to breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Slow and steady.

Similar to the way he’d done before - the way he always does - Yoongi thinks about what he has, here. Now. Casts a glance at Jimin, curled on the side towards him, taking up entirely too much space for such a small frame. In the soft, gentle light, Yoongi traces Jimin’s features with his gaze - the squished cheek, the full lips, tousled blond hair, the boy, the boy he wants to touch and to hold and to kiss and to have-

Yoongi looks away, unsettled. The sky is pale blue now, the alley still in the shadow from the buildings towering over it.

He has Jimin. Jimin is still here, after everything. Wants to be here. Yoongi wants him here.

Jimin’s idea is unfathomable and dangerous and something Yoongi wouldn’t dare suggest in his wildest dreams. Possible, maybe. Everything adds up - the way Yoongi’s energy had attacked, and the way Jimin’s fought back - and maybe it’s not so unbelievable. Yoongi certainly knows how it works. Has done it, with Jungkook. Knows that, in theory, it should be able to help.

But it is also unnecessarily risky, and requires so much effort and Jimin would be putting his life at stake, and Yoongi would not be able to survive if...

If.

What if.

What if someone gets hurt again?

But also what if… it works? What if Jimin does become Yoongi’s safety switch? His anchor?

Yoongi doesn’t know which one scares him more. He feels dizzy from it. Giddy. Nauseous, again.

Hopeful.

Maybe that’s what this is.

They say hope dies last, and Yoongi’s has been gone, both literally and figuratively, for a long time now. He’s learned how to do without it. He’s accepted it, maybe; tried to, anyway.

But now it sparks in his gut, the tiniest of embers - the possibility of something better, something warm; he hates it, but at the same time isn’t sure how he’s managed to live without it.

Yoongi’s hands shake again. He knows that he needs to do something. It’s what he has been delaying for too long; ignoring it as it ate away at his soul, his consciousness. Worrying about it, feeling guilty about it, when all he had to do was - act. 

He can’t let Jimin do all the work for him. He won’t watch the people he loves practice and fight and risk their lives for him while he stands at the sidelines.

He needs to do this.

So Yoongi turns, scans the bedroom until he spots it on a surface, beside one of the now unnecessary medical devices - his phone.

With unsteady fingers, he takes it, unlocks it - wonders if maybe his friends had been charging it while he was unconscious. He doesn’t understand the gesture, but appreciates it nonetheless.

Yoongi swallows hard, finding the contact. He hasn’t changed the name; it’s still the same it was then, the same dumb nickname, same thing he used to cheer on Hoseok with.

His heart hammers so hard and so loud it might perforate his eardrums. Yoongi isn’t sure if that’s medically possible, but he’s a lot of things that aren’t medically possible, maybe.

Start from the beginning, Jimin had said, on Namjoon’s rooftop that night. Baby steps. Nothing serious or scary. Just one text; he’s sent millions of those. Just a hi.

Jimin, Jimin, Ji-min - it’s all Yoongi hears, it’s all the rhythm he needs to type out a message. Short and simple and nothing serious. Nothing scary. A text, only a text. That's all it is.

He hits send before he changes his mind. Before he allows himself to succumb to the fear again.

Yoongi tosses the phone onto the bed, beside his pillow, and crawls back in. He’s jittery, rattled, but oddly enough doesn’t feel sick to his stomach anymore.

This is a different kind of nervous now. Lighter. Somewhat relieved. No longer lost and thick and suffocating. 

He made the first step. It’s a poor excuse of a first step and he might not even get a reply - he might not - but he’ll deal with that when it happens. If it happens.

He’s not alone. He’s not.

Yoongi fiddles with the covers, shimmies back under them, and the movement must wake Jimin up, because he lets out a hum. A tiny, precious sound.

He blinks his eyes open, groggy, sees Yoongi next to him and then closes his eyes again.

“Okay?” Jimin whispers, blindly reaching out a hand.

“Okay,” Yoongi says, taking it. The smallest hand, the cutest fingers, fitting right into Yoongi’s. Yoongi wants to bring them to his lips and kiss them, murmur all the apologies and all the thankfulness into them - but he doesn’t. He’ll have time for that. Baby steps. “Go back to sleep, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin hums again, already being pulled under.

Yoongi doesn’t fall asleep right away. Maybe not even for an hour or so. He thinks and tries not to think, but watching Jimin helps. Holding his hand helps. Jimin being here… Yes. It helps.

 


 

To: JHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPEEEEEEEE
hi
um
how are you ?
...it’s
been a while

 

Chapter Text

“It’s shinier,” Taehyung says, squinting at the new window of Pink Petal, just installed this morning.

“It’s new,” Jimin replies. He’s sorting through the stickers he’d ordered, which also came today. These ones were designed by Jungkook, pastel pink and with little daisies poking out the sides; rounded, chubby characters for added cuteness. They’re different from the old, generic ones Jimin now has on his door, so he bought replacements for those, too.

“It’s clean,” Taehyung concludes, still examining the glass. The plants closest to him - the dahlias and the snapdragons and the Peruvian lilies - are collectively holding their breath at his proximity, or the equivalent of that, and Jimin had just fondly rolled his eyes at their persistent adoration of Taehyung. “Way cleaner than the old one. I mean, when you just compare it to the door glass - you can’t even see through there, like, you have to really come close to read if the sign says open or closed or-”

Taehyung turns and stops mid-sentence when he spots Jimin’s glare from behind the counter.

Jimin cleans, okay. He works around his plants every day. He makes sure they are warm, but not too hot, that they have water, but not too much, and that their soil is of the right consistency and that they are surrounded by neighboring plants they get along with. He balances his numbers every day, and every week, and at the end of every month. He keeps track of all of the orders and all of the supplies, and, frankly, he gets tired. So what if the glass isn’t as pristine as it could be.

Somehow, Taehyung manages to understand all of this from his look, because he grins, immediately correcting himself, “I mean, the shop looks great, Jiminie!”

Jimin holds out a set of stickers for him. “Let’s do this.”

It takes way longer than it should; than it did, the last time Jimin was putting up stickers on his then-newly-opened shop, by himself.

The flower pots and shelves have been cleared from the window so that it could get set up; Jimin props open his rickety white ladder to reach the top and start on the first characters for the shop title.

Except that, instead of helping, Taehyung finds it hilarious to randomly rattle the ladder and subsequently Jimin on top of it, laughing without restraint when Jimin yells at him. Though Jimin still smiles, because Taehyung’s booming laughter is contagious.

When he does it again, for the nineteenth time, Jimin just leans over and sticks one of the decoration stickers - a large, round white daisy with a yellow center - right on Taehyung’s cheek.

Taehyung takes that as a declaration of war. He climbs up as far as he can behind Jimin, snatches more of the daisy stickers - and starts sticking them everywhere.

Or tries to. Jimin defends himself, throwing arms, laughing, but Taehyung is determined. And bigger, all things considered. He manages to get Jimin’s shoulder and his left ear and Jimin squeals from it and shies away, but the ladder is unsteady and he doesn’t want to risk accidentally pushing Taehyung off-

Which is when the bell above the door jingles, and Jungkook walks in.

“Kookie!” Jimin shouts through his giggles, just as Taehyung has caught his arm and is thisclose to sticking another fucking daisy on him. “Help!”

Jungkook doesn’t react. He has a sandwich in hand, from the Kim bakery, and is calmly chewing, completely unbothered as his boyfriend and his friend battle it out on the ladder.

Jimin retaliates by unpeeling the sticker off his ear and smacking it on Taehyung’s other cheek, and then Taehyung takes it again and reaches around for Jimin’s ass, who tries to twist out of the way without losing balance; it goes on like this, with Jimin losing breath and Taehyung almost winning, and then Jungkook finally finishes his sandwich.

He crumples the wrapping paper and throws it into the trashcan behind Jimin’s counter, dusts off his hands, and decides to step in.

With all the strength of a strapping twenty-two year old who spends way too much time doing push-ups, Jungkook elegantly wraps an arm around Taehyung’s waist - who was about to slap a sticker on Jimin’s chest - and plucks him off the ladder with merely a grunt.

Taehyung’s eyes go comically wide. Jungkook puts him down a short distance away; a blush has creeped into Taehyung’s face, and he turns to Jungkook with a shocked expression.

“Um.”

“I thought you said you were going to help,” Jungkook says, as though he’s reprimanding a child.

Jimin giggles on his ladder, and proceeds to pry away a total of six stickers he has on his person. They’re all pretty useless now, combined with the two still on each of Taehyung’s cheeks, and he’ll definitely need to order more. Somehow, he can’t bring himself to be upset over that.

“I was,” Taehyung says, too quietly. “I was helping.” He’s still staring at Jungkook, fiercely red around his stickers, and it takes Jungkook a moment to notice it.

“What,” he deadpans.

“Um.” Taehyung licks his lips, gestures to the ladder. “You, uh. You did the thing. With the-” He makes a move, like taking something in his arms and setting it aside, much like Jungkook did to him. “You manhandled me.”

“...okay?”

“I… I liked it,” Taehyung says, evidently surprised by this development.

Jungkook holds his gaze, not following; but then in the next second, he gets it. A wide, confident smirk appears on his lips, and he cocks an eyebrow. “You liked it?”

“I liked it,” Taehyung confirms, now smiling a little himself. “When we- I mean, you could totally repeat that, some time. Just saying.”

Jungkook’s eyes drop to Taehyung’s lips and he steps closer, that smirk still there and still suggesting how he’d like to eat Taehyung. “How about I repeat that right-”

“Okay, you know what?” Jimin waves from his perch on the ladder, not really into witnessing the rest of that conversation. “While I’m really happy about the sudden awakening of your new sexual kinks, I kinda need to finish this? Because I need to work, because money. So either drag your asses over here to help - really help -” he adds, mock glaring at Taehyung, “or just… Take your manhandling and other types of handling away from my flowers, please. They’re too innocent for this.” The gerbera snorts in his mind. They know what pollination is, they’re not dumb.

Jungkook drops his hand where he’d already hooked it in Taehyung’s belt loop, now looking like a child himself, one who’s been denied his favorite candy. “Yeah, okay.”

The window decorating proceeds at a somewhat quicker pace after that. Jimin isn’t sure whose phone is playing music, because Jungkook is in charge of that, but he’s on the ladder, trying not to mess up the shop title. Taehyung is passing him the right stickers, and Jungkook is scraping the old ones from the door glass.

Taehyung, who has refused to take the daisies off his cheeks, is singing along, low and soulful. He’s good at it; Jimin’s plants have been reduced to metaphorical puddles of green goo all around them.

“So my point is,” Jungkook is saying, using a small spatula-like tool to remove a sticker, “the death of Gwen Stacy was a groundbreaking moment in Marvel history, because it was unthinkable up until then - to kill off such an important character. And with such a huge following! Spiderman was the first superhero to actually feel real, irreversible consequences for his- oh!” he stops suddenly, looking through the glass in front of him. “It’s Yoongi-hyung!”

Jimin barely has the time to look up, his heart flying into his throat; Jungkook steps back, the bell above the door tinkles again, and Yoongi comes in.

He has yet to throw on an article of clothing which isn’t black, but he’s looking healthier.

Over the past week, since the night he and Jimin had spent together, Yoongi has slowly been regaining his strength. Everyone made sure to feed him on a semi-regular basis, and even cooked for him under Seokjin’s watchful eye from a video call.

He’s still too pale, his eyes underlined with dark shades, but at least he’s walking steadily, moving about, talking somewhat normally. Enough to cross the alley and visit Jimin’s shop on his own, anyway.

Jungkook and Taehyung erupt into cheers, Jungkook’s grin wide and happy. Taehyung bounces over and smacks a daisy sticker right in the middle of Yoongi’s forehead.

“Hyung! Welcome to the Pre-reopening Pink Petal Preparation Party! The five Ps!” he exclaims, then exchanges hi-fives with Jungkook.

Yoongi is slow to process this, his lips soundlessly moving around the phrase Pre-reopening Pink Petal Preparation Party. He frowns, probably concluding that this is Taehyung and that he best not question it, and then he turns to Jimin.

And it happens again.

In fact, it’s been happening every time they meet; when Jimin drops by Yoongi’s apartment with fresh groceries; when he walks in on Jungkook trying to teach Yoongi how to play a game on his phone; when Yoongi and Namjoon are in a heated debate about something, and Jimin passes by on his way to the fridge.

They exchange a glance. A look.

A moment.

Jungkook had once said… like the world stops. And it does, it does, when Jimin smiles just for Yoongi, fiddling with the last character of the shop name in his hands; when Yoongi returns it with a small smile of his own, the soft one, which makes him too adorable, too precious-

“They’re doing it again,” Jungkook stage-whispers off to the side.

Jimin is not looking away, but he’s tempted to roll his eyes. Dumbasses.

“I know,” Taehyung replies in a normal volume. “If their eye-fucking is this good, imagine what the real thing must be li-”

He yelps when Yoongi whacks him on the chest, now turning to glare at him.

“You owe me money,” he says.

“Technically, no?” Taehyung replies. Jungkook goes back to his work of scraping off old stickers, and Jimin, somehow, tries to put up the last one with unsteady hands; he is all to aware of Yoongi being here, Yoongi in his shop again, Yoongi- “I mean, the money that you gave me two days ago was used to pay for our meals - and by our I mean yours and Namjoon-hyung’s and mine, if you will recall - and it wasn’t enough, so Namjoon-hyung and I had to pitch in. And then, because we added the same amount of money you gave us - it was only fair - it turned out we had too much! So we also bought sodas - you didn’t see those because we drank them on the way back, the convenience store is quite far away - and also the chocolates - which you didn’t get to try because you fell asleep right after the food - and then, because we again didn’t have enough money for everything we wanted, I actually had to add more! So, technically, you are the one who owes me money.”

Jimin laughs. Yoongi narrows his eyes at Taehyung, though his intimidating aura is greatly diminished by the daisy sticker on his forehead. “I did not get a single word of that,” he drawls. “Which I suspect is the whole point. Next time, you’re paying for my food.”

Taehyung grins. “I like you, hyung. You’re smart. Can we keep him?” he asks the shop at large.  

“Eh, I don’t know…” Jimin feigns consideration, smoothing out the last sticker and leaning away to asses his work. Looks even, at least. “How handy is he in decorating shop windows?”

“Hmmm…” Taehyung takes Yoongi’s hand in his own and turns it this way and that, inspecting it. Yoongi watches him with clear distrust. “He has full mobility of his digits. They’re long, dexterous. I daresay he knows how to put them to good use.” At that he waggles his eyebrows.

“Oh my god,” Jimin can’t contain more laughter as Yoongi swipes his hand back.

“Fine,” he mutters, turning pink and heading for the door. “I came to check if you kids needed anything, but obviously my kindness is not appreciated. This world has truly gone to shit,” he continues as Jungkook moves out of his way and Yoongi opens the door, “when young people don’t have the basic human decency to thank their elders, who are so obviously concerned about their well-being-” The door falls shut behind him, but Yoongi keeps muttering under his breath on his way to Namjoon’s bookstore, peeling the daisy sticker off his forehead.

“Buy us chocolate!” Taehyung shouts loud enough for some of the plants to startle.

“And coke!” Jungkook adds, though Yoongi doesn’t even hear them.

Or at least they think he doesn’t, until twenty minutes later Yoongi returns, enters without a word and unceremoniously drops a large bag filled with chocolate bars and cans of coke on the counter.

Jimin is still on the ladder when Yoongi trudges back out, though not before he glances up and winks at Jimin, a barely-there smirk on his lips.

Jimin can’t stop smiling for the rest of their decorating session.

 


 

It’s a strange sort of atmosphere in their alley. 

Careful, delicately optimistic - endless texts of you okay? did you sleep? need anything to eat?

Namjoon, Taehyung and Jungkook are paying special attention to both Jimin and Yoongi, but trying to be unobtrusive about it. Dropping by unannounced, bringing muffins from the bakery, pizza from that Italian place, talking about a new movie or a new game or a song or anything, really, as long as it brings a smile out of the two.

Jimin appreciates the hell out of them, and tries not to laugh at how the inconspicuousness isn’t working at all. If Yoongi notices the very obvious way they’re trying to care for him, which he probably does, he doesn’t comment on it. He doesn’t stop them from napping on his couch, working in his apartment, or eating from his fridge.

It’s all coming from a place of insecurity, anyway. Fear, that this veneer of tentative hope surrounding the street will crack at any second. That it will fall away like a stage prop, revealing the darkness and the familiar pain underneath.

That they - their bonds, their friendships - will get broken again, and this time nothing will glue them back together.

Only Jimin won’t let that happen.

He first reaches out to Namjoon, figuring he has the most theoretical knowledge and he’d know where to start, at least until they can properly talk to Yoongi about it. They arrange to meet one evening, once both of their shops are closed, and so Jimin finds himself in the bookstore once again, among the towers of dusty tomes that defy the laws of gravity.

He likes it here. It’s quieter than normal, in a cocoon of paper and hardcovers, all the written words and stories cushioning the walls. Weak lighting from not enough light bulbs makes everything glow as though it were unreal, a place suspended in time, exempt from the fast pace of everyday life.

“How are you doing?” is the first thing Namjoon asks, as always. He clears away some volumes from a chair so that Jimin can join him at the table.

They’re in the back again, in the cramped lounge that is way too small for the desk, the table, the kitchenette and somehow even more books since the last time Jimin was here.

“I’m…” Good. Calm-ish. Glad. Hopeful. “-better, I think,” Jimin says, taking a seat. They’re all moving forward, however slowly, and that makes it better. “You?”

Namjoon releases a breath that’s half-sigh and half-laughter. He stretches out his long legs under the table, careful not to nudge Jimin.

“I’m not sure,” he replies honestly. “I think I’m good. Yeah, mostly good. But also kind of… cautious?” He pauses, thinking. “I’m not sure it makes sense, but… This, the way we are now - how Yoongi-hyung is still here and how he’s…” Namjoon searches for the right words. “He’s trying and he… he seems good. All of that is vastly different than the last time this happened. So I guess I’m a little… careful. Worried, maybe, that it’ll go back to how it used to be.”

“Hyung told me about it,” Jimin says. “About what happened that night, with Hoseok-ssi. How he… barely survived.”

Namjoon is silent for a while. He chews on the inside of his cheek, a line formed between his brows, gaze fixed on the wood pattern of the table.

“Hm. In hindsight, we had no idea what the fuck we were doing,” he says at last. “Everything happened so quickly- ...We knew what Jungkook could do, and we had already found a way to deal with that, but this was… No one expected it. No one even thought that hyung would…”

The frown line grows deeper as he talks, “When I try to remember that time, it’s all such a blur. Like… bits and pieces, how we were worried about Hobi and worried about hyung and we were torn between the hospital and here… Yoongi-hyung left his apartment before any of us even realized he was that bad, mentally, and then we helped Hobi out of the hospital; tried to reach hyung, only he had completely shut us out by then, and Hobi asked about him and we didn’t know what to tell him… We were caught between that, somehow, completely…”

Namjoon blinks, looks at Jimin almost in disbelief, like he can’t fathom how bad it had all turned out to be. “Frozen. We were frozen. Everything was falling apart and we were falling apart and- We should have done something, but we were crushed instead.”

Jimin doesn’t blame them. He can’t even imagine the emotional toll it must have taken on everybody. No wonder they were not speaking about it and mostly sidestepping it, and no wonder they had stopped hanging out together like before. Because how do you recover. How do you swallow your grief and make the first step. It’s a difficult thing.

“So now…” Namjoon runs a hand through his silvery hair, shakes his head. “This is… almost the complete opposite.” He meets Jimin’s gaze. “You were there the moment Yoongi-hyung woke up. You didn’t let him spiral into his usual guilt and self-destruction and you… you are willing to help.” He smiles, a little sadly. “We definitely could have used you a year ago.”

Jimin offers a small smile back. “I just… want everyone to be okay. Or, as okay as possible. Believe it or not, I kinda like you guys.”

“Hah, yeah, we kinda like you, too, Jimin-ah,” Namjoon says, his smile now genuine, wider and dimpled. “Especially Yoongi-hyung,” he adds with a knowing look.  

An embarrassed snort bursts out of Jimin and he covers his face with his hand. His cheeks are red hot, and Namjoon seems to take full pleasure in that.

“So!” he exclaims, pulling back his legs and getting up as Jimin fights his blush. “Training, huh? Before we start on any real practice involving your energy, you’ll have to first get familiar with all the science behind it. We’re gonna start with physics.”

“Physics?” Jimin asks, now a little concerned.

“Yep. I’ll be right back.” Namjoon heads out to the main bookstore area, but then seems to remember something and doubles back. “How familiar are you with the concept of entropy?”

“I-” Jimin’s entire high school curriculum flashes before his eyes. “I’m not, really...”

“Hm, okay, so we need to go way back, then. No problem!” Namjoon assures him and all but hops back out, obviously elated about the prospect of teaching

 


 

And it turns out, it’s not that bad when Namjoon is the one explaining. He is patient, sure of his own knowledge, drawing interesting parallels - Jimin gets everything right away. He actually finds it fascinating how what he experiences on a daily basis - the energy flow he exchanges with his plants - has a scientific background, a whole sleuth of formulas and laws and patterns of how it behaves. 

They work until Namjoon declares that it’s enough, an hour or two later, and hands Jimin a couple of more books to read at home, tells him they’ll need a few more theoretical lessons before they can start practicing for real.

And Jimin might be a bit too hyped to go to bed after that. He gets home, gets comfortable, turns on the lights in his kitchen and immediately opens the first book and dives right in, sitting at his plastic kitchen table.

Entropy, as it turns out, is a degree of randomness, or disorder in a system. The second law of thermodynamics states that in an isolated system entropy increases with time, evolving towards an equilibrium. And while Jimin himself, or any other person similar to him, is not an isolated system, Namjoon used entropy as a segue into a story about a new quantity that has been introduced specifically for these… human energies and systems, and how they relate to outdated understandings of physics.

How an energy, if out of balance either due to not enough use or overuse, tends to return to that state of equilibrium. Jungkook’s energy suffers from overuse, and as a result it pulls electricity from nearby outlets and power stations to balance itself out. Yoongi’s, on the other hand, isn’t used nearly enough, since Yoongi suppresses it, and that leads to him losing control.

It’s as exact as the science is going to get, because there are at least a dozen other factors that go into each equation, not to mention the complex interactions which occur when energies from more than one person are involved, but Jimin can’t stop reading about it.

He doesn’t even look up from the text until his phone pings, still in the pocket of his sweats, and he digs it out.

yoongi-hyung
dear god
that book is thicker than my thigh
it’s namjoon’s isn't it
he finally won you over to his bookworm side

Jimin laughs and looks up through his window to see Yoongi standing in his own kitchen, beside Pip. He’s in a white t-shirt, the one he sleeps in, backlit with the ceiling light from his apartment; soft and moon-like and beautiful. 

jiminie
physics
joon-hyung said I should start with theory first
and also
your legs are pretty thin

If Yoongi has any special thoughts about Jimin starting on what they had talked about a week ago, he doesn’t show it. Or Jimin doesn’t see it from across the street. 

yoongi-hyung
yeah, theory first
then you’ll practice by yourself
and then with me
also
they’re not fuck you 

jiminie
twig man

yoongi-hyung
I don’t need this disrespect
not everyone can have your thighs of a god ok jimin 

It’s only a second where Jimin’s mind goes through the shock, the choke, and then his face flushes and he grins at Yoongi, who doesn’t seem bothered by his own comment, or Jimin’s reaction in the least.

jiminie
of a god huh
interesting choice of words hyung 

yoongi-hyung
don’t let it get to your head

jiminie
when have you observed this quality of mine?

yoongi-hyung
my show’s about to start
don’t stay up too late 

jiminie
do I have anything else … god-like?

Yoongi turns away from the window so Jimin no longer sees his expression. He walks to his living room and drops into the sofa, from where Jimin can only glimpse the top of his head.

yoongi-hyung
reading so much will wreck your eyesight
or worse turn you into a noodle being that lives among books and has forgotten what the real world looks like 

jiminie
hah
pretty rich from a gremlin who hides in a cave and doesn’t even see the sunlight unless dragged out by his friends 

Yoongi doesn’t write anything more to that, and Jimin goes back to his book. Smiling to himself; he’s still smiling, somehow always smiling around Yoongi now.

He knows it’s not all magically better - maybe will never be 100% better - and they haven’t been alone together since that night yet, but he likes this banter. Likes how Yoongi doesn’t shy away from compliments - and flirting? - even though he’s a sarcastic ass about it, and-

And Jimin can’t focus on the formulas anymore. He glances over at the peek of Yoongi’s dark, messy hair and thinks about their texts, and about him, and about them.

 


 

Jimin opens up Pink Petal again. Taehyung, Jungkook and Namjoon come with balloons and a small cake on the first day to celebrate the occasion.

They cheer on him from behind the counter as they eat the cake and watch Jimin rush to serve as many customers as he can. (“You can do it, hyung!” Jungkook mumbles with his mouth full, and Namjoon and Taehyung raise their forks in support.) Jimin is happy and smiling, and helping himself with bites from all of them when he has a second to spare. Which is not a lot, because he needs to catch up on work, because bills and rent are real and he’d like to not get evicted any time soon.

With three people in the back and at least five browsing through the flowers in the front, Jimin skillfully navigating around them and helping them make the best choice for their arrangement, the balloons get pushed every which way. One of them floats too close to the rose bush, pops so loudly that everyone except Taehyung flinches - even the rose bush itself - and Namjoon drops the remainder of the cake he was holding.

That’s about the time that Jimin ushers them out, telling them they’ll see each other later, when he finishes his work day and cleans up the mess they left behind and seriously, don’t they have anything better to do in the middle of a Monday. But they pull him into a huge hug nevertheless, and let him know how proud they are of him.

And it’s good.

It’s good because some of Jimin’s regulars return and he makes a great deal of bouquets, earning a great deal of money as a result. He’s back to his old routine, focused on his work and the aesthetic of his arrangements and when he’s busy, he doesn’t have time to think about anything else.

At the end of that first day, when he turns over the open/closed sign and faces his empty shop, Jimin breathes out, recentering for a moment.

He closes his eyes and inhales the fragrance of his flowers, sweet and cloying; allows their shared warmth to reach deep, to calm him down and ground him.

He commends them. They did well; it was bustling, crowded and loud, but they held their own.

Jimin docks his phone into his portable speaker, starts the instrumental music the plants love, and rolls up his sleeves. He has a mental list of things to do - check every plant and make sure it’s doing well, sweep the floor, store away all the tools; also the carnations need repotting since their current home is getting too small.

So Jimin goes about his tasks, talks with his plants and does an occasional pirouette in the center of the shop. Days get darker quicker now, in the autumn, and the yellow overhead lights are on and he’s probably easily seen from the street, but Jimin finds it hard to care about that. Not when his day went so well; when his friends were here and his plants are okay, and everything is a little easier, now.

It’s about an hour and a half later, when Jimin has finished most of the to-do list and is getting a new, bigger, pot for the carnations from the back room, that the chimes above the door jingle, despite the closed sign. He stops, a pastel blue and green pot in hand, and looks at Yoongi coming in.

Swallowed by a dark hoodie, the sleeves reaching the middle of his hands, ripped knees on his jeans… He’s not sleeping - Jimin would know that even if he didn’t live right across from him, by his tired eyes and slow movements, but he’s here. Looking back at Jimin, with this thing between them; this something that is undefined and timid and yet only theirs…

Yoongi lets the door close behind him and then stands there, barely a few steps in.

“Hey,” Jimin says, setting the large pot on the counter.

“Hey,” Yoongi replies, looking unsure. Once again, it’s as though he hadn’t really meant to come here; that it had just happened through no fault of his own, and now he’s equally as lost as Jimin is. “I, uh…” He comes closer, taking in the small, vividly colored shop. “I wanted to hear how your first day went.”

“Oh.” Jimin smiles. “You could have texted, you know,” he teases, though he’s not complaining that Yoongi came to see him in person - not complaining at all. He brings out a stool and places it in front of the counter, in the spot Yoongi had already sat in months ago, when he’d first come to visit.

“Yeah, well.” Yoongi sits down, not meeting Jimin’s eye; not exactly nervous, but not at ease either. Like this is new for him, too; different - they’re all a little different now. “I kind of wanted to see you too.”

Jimin bites on his lip to not let out a stupid sound, and busies himself by getting everything he needs for repotting. Potting soil, a shovel, a small knife, water, and the carnations themselves, which have already started digging themselves out of their old pot, ready to move to their new, comfier home.

“Um. Here,” Yoongi says, procuring something from the kangaroo pocket of his hoodie and leaving it on the counter, by the cash register. “I wasn’t sure what to get you, or if I should get you anything, but then Pip suggested… I know you have a lot of flowers, obviously, but Pip was pretty adamant.”

Jimin looks at the three large blue flowers on the countertop; open and vibrant and beautiful, haphazardly tied together with white string. A bouquet from Pip and Yoongi, for him.

No one’s ever given him flowers before. Granted, he has flowers, so he can’t really blame anyone, but this is- It’s- Pip and Yoongi gave him flowers.

The warmth in the shop, inside of Jimin, swells and glows, and he’s too gentle when he brushes a finger over one of the blue petals.

“Pip was adamant,” Jimin repeats, wondering how Yoongi got the hint of what Pip wanted to do; wondering how it is possible to be this overcome with fondness.

“Yeah. Jungkook and I had dinner and I was washing dishes and whenever I’d turn, there’d be a flower in my face,” Yoongi explains. “At first I thought it was just showing off, because Pip often does that - if it’s happy with something it made, it wants you to notice it - so it took me a while to realize it was actually trying to get me to take the flowers.”

Jimin laughs, convinced he’ll never be able to get that image out of his head.

“So, yeah. I hope you had a good first day,” Yoongi finishes. He frowns a little, like he’s aware of how lame it sounds. Jimin finds it cute.

“I did have a good first day,” he says. He tears open the bag of potting mix, and uses a small shovel to transfer the dark soil into the new pot. “It was a lot, but it was good to work again. The others brought me cake. Ate half of it. Dropped the other half on my floor, which I then had to clean up.”

Yoongi smiles a little. “Yeah, they told me. Joon-ah felt really bad about it.”

“Next time I’m making them stand outside until they eat the whole thing.”

“Fair.” Yoongi nods. He watches as Jimin fills the blue and green pot with the mix up to about one third of its height.

“Wanna help?” Jimin asks, putting the shovel back into the pot mix bag on the floor. He tilts his head towards the carnations, halfway out of their old pot on the counter, rustling eagerly. “They’re a bit stuck, so we need to get them out without hurting their roots.”

“Okay, yeah.”

Yoongi gets up from his stool and rolls up his sleeves, revealing his forearm tattoos - calm and breathing; still as captivating as the first time Jimin had seen them.

“I think it’ll be best if you pick them up, and I’ll help them untangle,” Jimin instructs as they come to stand on either side of the counter, with the carnations between them.

Yoongi hesitates for a second, before he carefully collects the rootball of the plant in both hands, and lifts it a little from its old soil.

“Perfect, just hold it there,” Jimin says, and sets to work. He listens to what the carnations are telling him, and slowly helps the stray roots emerge from the pot, using a small knife to remove clumps of soil, to gently pry away every tendril.

Music is still playing, quiet and soft piano, and for a while no one speaks. For a while, it is almost normal - like it happens every day, that Jimin and Yoongi spend time together like this; helping each other, giving each other flowers, being in each other’s space… It’s too good; too comforting; Jimin would so easily accept this as the new norm.

Then Yoongi clears his throat. “I… Um,” he pauses, finding his words. Jimin encounters a particularly knotted part of the roots and tries to undo it, little by little. “In the interest of sharing, and… being open, I guess,” Yoongi says, “I wanted to tell you that I started talking to Hobi again. Hoseok.”

Jimin’s eyes snap up in surprise. “You- you did?”

“Mhm.” Yoongi stares down at the root knot in Jimin’s hand. “I used what you told me… I don’t know if you remember, we talked about it on Namjoon’s rooftop… And-” He shrugs with one shoulder. “I sent him a hi. Just to see if he would reply. And he did.”

“Hyung!” Jimin exclaims then, beaming wide. Yoongi talked to Hoseok! He did it! He sent him a text! And Hoseok replied! They’re talking! “Yoongi!” Jimin wants to reach over the carnations and hug him, or at least grab his shoulders and shake him in excitement, or cup his face and-

But his hands are caked in dirt and he’s holding a small knife and maybe that’s not the best idea at the moment.

“What did he say?!” Jimin asks instead, now too giddy to continue separating the roots. He can’t look away from Yoongi. He did it! He actually went and did the thing he was so terrified of!

Yoongi huffs out a laugh now, rolling his eyes. Jimin’s thrill must have put him at ease somewhat, because he seems less tense, his shoulders more relaxed even as he’s still holding the plant up. “He… I dunno. He sounded normal. Maybe more… careful, than I remember him? But that’s normal, I guess. We texted a few times since then. Not about anything… Like, about his job - he works at a tattoo place downtown now - and about the others and… not for long. Not about anything special.”

“But you’re talking!” Jimin bounces in place, his grin unfaltering. “Hyung, you did it! You made the first step! And Hoseok-ssi replied! And you’re talking!”

“Wow, I had no idea you were this easy to please,” Yoongi remarks, but he’s smiling too. A little, like he’s afraid that a real, true smile will somehow make all of this disappear. He’s looking at Jimin now, and he seems relieved and happier and better-

“I’m really proud of you, hyung,” Jimin tells him in earnest. “I know… I mean, I assume it must have been difficult to do that.”

“Well.” Yoongi’s smile fades, but a softness remains around his eyes. Something akin to gratitude, wholesome and gleaming. “I was told… repeatedly, that I wasn’t alone. And that… that maybe things are not as bad as I had originally thought they were.” He hums, like he’s still processing, coming to terms with this new status quo. “Last time… When I woke up, and when I realized… My first instinct was to run away. I packed my bags and I was gone, because I couldn’t- I didn’t know how to stay in this life, after everything I’ve done. And I… I still feel that. I still want to just… disappear.” Jimin’s chest constricts, but he doesn’t dare interrupt. Not when Yoongi is looking at him like that, saying, “But… you’re here. And you’re trying, for me. So I guess... I want to try, as well.”

If there wasn’t a counter, a pot and a flower between them - if Jimin didn’t think that he would be pushing Yoongi too fast again, into something they haven’t discussed yet, he would have-

He would have kissed him and touched him, left dirt prints on Yoongi’s face and his neck and he would have fucking loved him…

But he doesn't. Jimin breathes out, and smiles. “I’m glad you told me, hyung. I... meant it, you know, when I said that I’m here for you. Whenever you need me.”

“I know. I think. No, I do. I do know.”

Yoongi’s uncertainty is cute, endearing and a little painful, and Jimin stares for a beat too long before Yoongi interrupts him, “Um. I think the flowers are getting impatient.”

The carnations have indeed grown tired of being suspended above their old pot, and have passed the time by twirling their flower stems together like braids, then un-twirling them, and now they are doing a little wave dance in Yoongi’s direction; a dozen of two-toned flowers, white in the middle and hot pink around the edges, are simultaneously swaying back and forth in front of Yoongi’s face. If Jimin didn’t know any better, he’d call it a mating dance.

He snorts. “Okay, okay, let’s get this over with.”

It takes him some more minutes to finally free the roots, and to brush away as much of the old soil as he can. The carnations shake off their tendrils, buzz excitedly, and Jimin laughs, setting aside the knife.

“You can put them in their new pot now,” he says.

Slowly, as though he’s afraid he might drop them and break them, Yoongi moves the flowers over to the new pot. He lowers them gently on top of the mound Jimin had shoveled in before, and is about to set them down, when he stops.

“Um,” he says, confused. Maybe a little alarmed. “It’s… It’s not letting go.”

Jimin gets a very distinct rush of no. from the carnations.

Ours.

He can’t stop the laughter bubbling up in his throat. “Oh my god,” Jimin utters through the giggles, even as Yoongi’s eyes go wide.

“What, what? What’s wrong?”

But Jimin shakes his head and continues laughing, sensing how the carnations have wrapped their roots around Yoongi’s hands and settled in, determined not to let him slip away.

“They like you,” he says, his shoulders shaking as Yoongi stares at the flowers. “They don’t want you to leave.”

“I…” Yoongi seems at a loss for words. The flowers are quiet and happy, like Yoongi’s hands are their new home now, and they will get what little nutrients they need from the small amount of soil at the bottom of the pot. “I mean… thanks?” He tells them, and then whispers to Jimin, “Can they even hear me?”

Jimin has a hard time getting a grip on his laughter. In fact, he manages to remember how vital it is that he captures this moment, so he wipes his hands on a nearby rag, and pulls out his phone from the pocket of his jeans.

“They can sense the vibrations your voice makes in the air around them. And they can also feel your intentions, or what you mean to say. But they don’t exactly have the right organs to hear you,” he says, giggling, snapping pictures, then switching over to video.

“Right, no ears,” Yoongi says just as Jimin hits the record button. Through his phone screen he watches Yoongi let out a sigh, arms elbow deep in the pot, colorful carnations reaching up almost to his face. “Uh. I’m- I’m flattered,” he says, obviously feeling stupid, but trying to get them to release him. “Really, it’s nice to hear that you like me. It’s- The feeling is mutual, definitely. Your, um, flowers are very pretty. I like the pink. Maybe it’s not necessarily my color, but it looks great on you.”

Jimin tries to stifle another laugh, but it comes out anyway. Yoongi shoots him a glare which only gets more intense when he realizes Jimin is recording.

“Can’t you just… do your magic? Tell them to let me go?” he asks.

Jimin shakes his head. “Sorry, hyung. They’re very much their own character.” Which isn’t exactly true - he could talk to them and politely ask them to let go, explain that keeping Yoongi’s hands hostage isn’t right; the carnations would most likely listen to him, but he’s having way too much fun.

Yoongi looks back at the flowers, contemplates for a moment before he starts again, “The thing is,” he tries to wiggle his fingers free, but the plant isn’t having it, “I really need my hands, you know, to do stuff. Like… I enjoy eating, from time to time. Setting up shows to watch on the TV. Writing stuff… Brushing teeth. All important things that require the use of my hands. This isn’t exactly sustainable, for me. And not for you, either; I’m guessing that’s not nearly enough dirt to keep you… what, nourished?”

Whatever Jimin has left of his phone memory will get devoured by the video he’s still taking, but he has yet to witness something more hilarious, and more adorable, in his life.

“Besides…” Yoongi says, and then breaks off. Shifts his weight, frowning a little. “You are beautiful, really, but, uh… I’m…” He licks his lips - hesitant, gaze fixed on a shelf off to the side. “I... I like someone else.”

Jimin didn’t know that he had the ability to keep holding his phone up, to keep standing upright even when he’s not breathing.

Because he’s not - not breathing, not laughing anymore, not fucking blinking. I like someone else - it’s - it’s so direct and open and honest and it’s - a confession. Is it a confession? Is Yoongi…?

Yoongi looks at him then; meets Jimin’s gaze, and continues talking, “And I… I like holding his hand. For which I kinda need at least one of my own, so…” He swallows, and Jimin barely has the presence of mind to tap the stop button on his phone. He’s staring, mouth agape, all sense drained out of him.

It is. It is a confession.

Yoongi… Yoongi.

The carnations shiver warmly, and detach their roots from Yoongi’s hands. Jimin feels that they are satisfied with this outcome; not offended or annoyed or hurt - like they even expected this and that they don’t mind at all.

Yoongi finally sets them down in the blue and green pot and pulls away, dirt in the lines of his palms.

It’s quiet in the shop - the music playlist has ended - but it’s a ringing kind of silence; one that is too loud in Jimin’s ears, too encompassing, too much for his hammering heart.

“We should-” he says, because he has to jump-start his brain somehow. Needs to break the echo of Yoongi’s words in his head. I like someone else. “We should cover them up with the pot mix.”

“Right.”

And so they do. Jimin shovels more of the rich dark soil into the pot, and Yoongi evens it out with his hands, arranges it neatly around the plant. The carnations are already spreading their roots around their new home.

When the pot is sufficiently filled, Jimin sets the small shovel aside, gently pats the surface of the earth down, but not too hard to make it compact. Yoongi does the same, and then their hands are around the flowers together; dirt-stained between the fingers, dark under the fingernails - Jimin doesn’t want to pull away.

I like holding his hand.

It’s not an effort at all - not even a full movement, when he reaches with a finger and brushes it over one of Yoongi’s.

Jimin had kissed him before; had played with his hair and held him, whispered comforts and reassurances and kept him safe - and this, this is nothing. It should be nothing in comparison.

A stroke of a finger, a baited breath; a moment. Another moment for them.

But it feels like so much more than that. It feels like a beginning and a rebirth and something big, heavy and feather-soft all at once - something that Jimin has actually wanted for a long time.

Yoongi unfolds his hand there, on the earth. That well-known invitation, which Jimin had hoped for when Yoongi had been unconscious - Jimin takes it, slots their palms together, exhales shakily; feels like he’s floating.

“I’m not sure if I can… how much I can give you,” Yoongi says, looking at their contact, his thumb sweeping over Jimin’s knuckles. “I’m still… This is still new, and- and kind of a lot, so I’m not sure… what I can offer.” Jimin doesn’t say anything, can’t, can’t, feels only Yoongi’s hand in his own, his heart leaping out of his chest. “But I know that I would like to spend more time with you,” Yoongi continues, then looks up, all uncertainty and pretty eyes and hope. “If you… If you think that’s something you’d like?”

“Yes,” Jimin whispers in his rush to answer. He clears his throat, speaks up, “Yes, I would… very much like that.”

He smiles then, wide, so wide; he’s holding Yoongi’s hand and all the flowers are around them, shimmering in warmth and Yoongi asked to spend time with him and yes, yes.

Yoongi smiles back, releases a breath; squeezes Jimin’s hand a little. “Tomorrow?” he asks.

Jimin nods, already knowing he won’t be able to sleep tonight, anticipating it.

“Tomorrow.”

 


 

It starts slow.

They continue to see each other every day, sometimes with their friends, sometimes only the two of them. Jimin drops by Yoongi’s apartment in the evenings. If any of the others are there, they leave when it gets late, but Jimin stays. He helps Yoongi clean up; talks to him. Nags him about needing to cut down on coffee, because it’s no wonder he has trouble sleeping.

They watch TV shows. Bridal shows and shark documentaries and cooking competitions. They bicker about unimportant things; how Yoongi loves big fluffy cats which look like they feed on small dogs, while Jimin prefers the delicate kitties, who seem defenseless and need to be taken care of. They bicker about what they’re going to order for dinner and then Jimin’s unhealthy fixation on sauce so hot it makes him cry. It doesn’t help that Jimin starts flicking fries at Yoongi in the middle of that particular discussion, and then laughs when Yoongi snaps at him.

On Yoongi’s dark brown leather couch, they sit together, sharing earbuds. Sometimes it’s Jimin’s turn to pick the music, and sometimes it’s Yoongi’s. Jimin scrolls through his phone and Yoongi often dozes off not a few songs in, slumped against Jimin’s side.

Jimin talks about his family. About his childhood. Curled up on one end of the sofa, stomach full of noodles, he describes where he grew up and what his parents are like, and how none of them, not even his brother, are like him, like Yoongi and Namjoon and Jungkook. He talks about how that has never been a problem in their family, really.

In turn, Yoongi shares a bit about his own life. Not a lot; only a glimpse, a mention of his own brother, older than him; how they both live in the same city, but never see each other; how Yoongi talks to him, once or twice a year; how he’s made peace with it, a long time ago. Somewhere after he moved here and met Namjoon and the others, Yoongi came to understand the difference between the family one is born in, and the family they find for themselves. It made things a lot easier for him.

And it’s in times like these, when they touch upon some deep issues, that Jimin holds out a hand, quietly, and Yoongi takes it. They twine their fingers together between them, and change the subject, moving on to lighter, sunnier topics.

Nothing more than that. It’s just this gentleness, this warm intimacy that isn’t speeding towards anywhere. It’s here, and it’s real, and Jimin savors every minute of it. He savors every one of Yoongi’s smiles - the shy ones, the smug ones, the huge gummy ones when someone cracks a joke. He learns what Yoongi looks like when he’s bored by what he’s watching, when he’s too hungry to wait for food, when it’s raining outside and he has a headache.

And he is falling. Through all of this, Jimin is falling for Yoongi in a way that he never thought was possible. A way that is different than before; more tangible, more grounded, one that leaves him breathless, strangely serene, and completely, utterly smitten.

 


 

“Did you read all of these books?” Jimin asks, back at Namjoon’s bookstore. Another theory lesson, the last one, before he can begin practicing for real.

Namjoon smiles, setting two steaming cups of tea down on the table in the lounge, and taking a seat across from him. “Yes.”

“How long does it take you to read a book?”

“Not long.”

“Do you remember everything you read?”

“Yes.”

“All the words? Everything they say? Do you remember, like, where the commas and the semi-colons are? If I asked you what was on page 194 of that book-” Jimin points at a random tome on top of Namjoon’s closed laptop. “-would you know?”

Namjoon’s smile widens, revealing his dimples. “Yes.”

“Whoa.”

Jimin had already guessed as much, but it’s still impressive to have it confirmed. He curls his fingers poking out of his sweater paws around the warm mug, thinking how he has no idea what he’d do with such power. “But- Like-” he frowns, watching the depths of his tea. He’s not sure how to ask his next question without sounding offensive.

“What am I doing in this hole-in-the-wall bookstore instead of ruling the world?” Namjoon correctly guesses, and doesn’t seem bothered by it.

“No, I’m sorry, I didn’t- I don’t… know.” Jimin deflates, then blows on his drink. “It’s just that you could learn anything, no? You could… You could cure diseases and end poverty and reverse climate change and- and save endangered animals-”

Namjoon laughs.

“No, you have to remember two things, Jimin-ah: first, that just because I can learn something in theory, doesn’t mean I’ll actually be good at it in practice - case in point: cooking.” Yeah, that makes sense for Jimin. “And second, I’m still just one person. The world works in a much more complex way than that, and I was never interested in building any type of political affiliations. But…” Namjoon glances up at the wall beside them, where several posters are crookedly taped up. One for a superhero movie, one for an anime, one advertising some book fair which took place four years ago… And one more poster, depicting a lone bus station against a backdrop of steely blue sea.

Spring Is Here, it says in elegant lettering.

“I am involved with things that are important to me,” Namjoon says, tapping a knuckle against that particular poster.

It’s a name which sounds familiar, which Jimin had heard somewhere before… had read about it, maybe? “It’s… an organization?” he asks.

“Yes. A non-profit organization which helps young people who are like us all over the world. It helps families identify that their children are special, educates them, accompanies the kids to their registration meetings if necessary, teaches them how to deal with their talents, how to handle them and how to cope psychologically, emotionally… Basically, it provides what many of us didn’t have when we needed it. And Yoongi-hyung and I are actively involved in it.”

Jimin examines the poster again - blindly takes out his phone and gets to searching on Naver. “Yoongi-hyung…” He remembers, then. When he’d first searched for Yoongi’s pseudonym, Suga, he’d read about it in one of the articles. “He wrote a song for that organization?”

“Mhm. He wrote a song and had several famous artists record it and… All of the proceeds from it go to the organization.”

Jimin opens up the official website of the charity. It seems huge, with pictures of workshops, trips, seminars, with links to transparent, very detailed documentation on where its annual budget goes, how people can donate, pictures of those who got help, of those taking part…

A list of top contributors.

Suga is on there, unsurprisingly. Jimin skims the thirty or so names, doesn’t see Namjoon’s, and wonders if Namjoon also uses a pseudonym of some kind.

“I’m glad,” Namjoon says then.

Jimin looks up. “Hm?”  

“That he’s found you,” Namjoon elaborates, his smile small, but content. “Or that you found him. Or I don’t know, however... That you’ve got each other. He looks… happy.”

Happy… Yoongi is still not sleeping - which Jimin suspects is because of the nightmares he’s still having - and he still gets moody and grumpy, though at least part of that is because of who Yoongi is as a person, and he doesn’t talk much about the important things, but Namjoon thinks he’s happy.

Happy.

Jimin smiles, feeling ridiculously relieved by that. Grateful. Because he’s happy too, and he’d hate for it to be a one-sided thing.

“Okay, so, how about we see where we left off last time?” Namjoon asks then, moving his mug to the side, and motioning for Jimin to take his notebook out of his backpack so they can get started.

 


 

The thing about Taehyung is that he gets too excited. 

He’s keen on preserving the mystery, maintaining that there’s nothing going on with an admirable poker face, but Jimin catches him giggling to himself when he thinks Jimin isn’t looking. If Jimin asks what’s so funny, Taehyung clamps a hand to his mouth for a panicked second, and in the next one he already comes up with an excuse, “This youtube clip I saw this morning, with a baby chick and a cat, wanna see?”

But it can’t always be a youtube clip; the giggling has been happening for the past few days almost every time they’re together. If Jungkook is present, he shoots Taehyung a disbelieving glare, somewhere along the lines of dude, wtf, and Taehyung clears his throat and schools his expression back into nonchalance.

No matter how many times Jimin asks about it, or narrows his eyes at them both, they do their best to change the topic.

Now, Jimin is no Namjoon-level when it comes to intelligence, but he has an inkling what all the secrecy is about. He would bet the last instant ramen pack in his kitchen cabinet that it has something to do with the fact that Jimin’s birthday is approaching.

In fact, it’s four days away, and he’s absolutely certain that Taehyung’s sudden bursts of giggles and Jungkook’s subsequent exasperation have everything to do with what they have planned.

And they’re not telling him.

Jimin is partly worried, and partly really fucking excited. It’s his first birthday in the alley, first birthday with actual real friends to celebrate with, and they’re planning something and it’s a surprise. Jimin fights hard to contain his own smile every time Taehyung accidentally giggles.

He contemplates grilling them for information, trying to trick them into telling him what they have in store, or simply asking Namjoon or Yoongi if they know (or are maybe even in on it), but in the end Jimin decides against it.

He wants to be surprised. He trusts them. It’ll be good.

On Thursday, the evening before his birthday, Jimin is sitting on the bench in his dance studio, using a towel to wipe sweat away from his brow, and drinking generously from his water bottle. He uses the short break to steal a glance at his phone.

yoongi-hyung
coming over after dance practice?

Jimin smiles. If they happen not to exchange any texts over the course of the day - because Yoongi sleeps in late due to not sleeping at night, and because Jimin is busy at the shop and then busy making it on time to his dance class - it is always Yoongi who asks if Jimin is coming over later.

He should really stop asking. The answer will always be yes, unforeseen emergency circumstances notwithstanding.

jiminie
10:30 ish?

yoongi-hyung
[thumbs up emoji]

Jimin stumbles into his apartment, drops his duffel bag by the door and strips as he heads for the bathroom, needing to take a shower before he goes over to Yoongi’s. He has no time to eat anything, doesn’t even think of glancing over at Yoongi’s windows because he wants to be quick about it; blow-drying his messy hair as to not get a cold in the chilly October night, throwing on a pair of jeans and a comfy sweater, giving himself a once-over in the mirror.

He takes his keys, phone and wallet, and makes his way across the alley. It’s the exact same routine they have maintained the past two weeks, and Jimin doesn’t really think anything is odd until he reaches the top of the staircase on Yoongi’s floor.

It’s then that he smells it.

Food.

Cooking.

The distinct aroma of something frying in a pan.

For a split second Jimin’s mind supplies Seokjin, but he hardly thinks Seokjin would come all the way from Paris for his birthday. Then he thinks Namjoon, but he’s pretty sure Yoongi would rather eat a handful of dirt from Pip’s pot than let Namjoon cook in his kitchen.

So that means… There’s really only one option left.

In almost complete bewilderment, Jimin opens the door to Yoongi’s apartment and instantly gets engulfed by the delicious scent of onions and meat.

“It’s me!” he calls out over the sounds of sizzling, and closes the door behind him. There’s no reply. No one in the living room.

“Hyung?” Jimin steps further in, and finds his answers, what he definitely hasn’t expected to see today - or any other day - in the kitchen.

Yoongi is standing at the stove, an apron tied at his waist; plain black with the words your opinion wasn’t in the recipe. printed in white across the middle. He’s got a large skillet in front of him, a wooden spoon in hand with which he’s stirring what looks like ground meat. And there are all these ingredients on the counter around him. A bag of rice, fresh bacon, onions and garlic and green spinach and yellow bell peppers and orange carrots, and there’s a pot of water already heating up-

“You’re- You’re cooking?” Jimin asks. Or says, he’s not sure which, though it should be really fucking clear what Yoongi is doing.

“You care about my eating habits, but yours are just as poor,” Yoongi says, like he’s continuing some conversation they never had. He gives the meat a stir; it’s already getting a nice brown color, mixed well with diced onions. “You inhaled two instant ramen packs for dinner just the other day - do you know how much salt is in those? That’s not good for your blood pressure, and your face can get all puffy-”

“You’re cooking dinner… for me?” Jimin is really slow on the uptake. His eyes recognize it and his heart somehow knows it, and yet his brain is having trouble accepting it.

Yoongi is decidedly not looking at him. He removes the skillet from the stove and carefully transfers all of the meat in an empty bowl on the counter. “I’m not as good as Jin-hyung, obviously, but I’m not bad as Namjoon, either. I mean, not like it’s hard to be better than Namjoon-”

“You’re cooking for me,” Jimin interrupts him again, this time with more certainty.

Yoongi sets the skillet aside, leaves the spoon in it, and finally looks at Jimin. He shrugs, like it’s obvious what he’s doing (and it is), and why (it really isn’t), and like he didn’t have much choice in the matter.

“It’s your birthday tomorrow, isn’t it?” he asks, something soft in his voice. Something unsure. He looks away again as he mutters, “I know that the others have something planned, but I thought it would be nice to… I dunno. Do something nice today. Just… Just the two of us.”

As he talked, a smile slowly appeared on Jimin’s lips, growing wider and wider, now threatening to split his face in half. There’s all this fluttering in his chest; all this exhilaration and uncontained joy.

Yoongi is cooking for him! For his birthday!

Jimin laughs out loud, skips over and plants a kiss on Yoongi’s cheek without preamble, which makes Yoongi’s eyes go wide - he’s even cuter when he’s surprised like that.

“Thank you,” Jimin murmurs, still close, but not enough to make Yoongi uncomfortable, he hopes. “This is…” A date, it’s a date, a date, his heart is screaming, but he’s not going to say it out loud. Technically, all the previous times they’ve been by themselves could also be perceived as dates, but he’s not going to put that pressure on Yoongi. “It’s really amazing, hyung.”

Yoongi blinks, snapping out of it. “You’re welcome,” he says. His ears are red as he turns back to the stove. “Now go wash your hands, I could use some help.”

They put on music. Hip hop and trap and drum and bass from an online playlist, and Jimin moves to the beat, does tiny body rolls even as he slices the bell peppers and the carrots. Yoongi tells him to be careful not to chop off a finger, but Jimin sees the upturn of one corner of Yoongi’s lips.

He looks happy, Namjoon had said. Here, now, Jimin definitely sees it. Can’t stop smiling himself, either.

Yoongi deals with the rice in the pot, adds some spices to the meat in the bowl, cubes the bacon and adds it to the skillet next. Jimin talks about his day at work, about his dance practice and how they’re going to have a showcase of some kind at the end of the year. He steals bites of the vegetables as he slices them in strips, occasionally feeding Yoongi with a couple as well.

At one point, the music dies down when Yoongi’s phone chimes with a message.

“Would you check that?” Yoongi asks, busy turning over pieces of bacon; the rich, layered smell wafts through the kitchen and makes Jimin’s mouth water. “If I don’t do this it’ll burn and I’ll never be able to look myself in the eye again.”

Jimin snorts, wipes his hands on a corner of Yoongi’s apron, gently pats Pip’s open blue flowers - the plant had been in a state of its own bliss ever since Jimin had arrived - and then presses a side button on Yoongi’s phone to wake it up. He needs a second to understand the strange contact name.

“It’s from… JHope? That’s Hoseok-ssi, right?”

Yoongi nods, frowning at the bacon that is sputtering and spitting droplets of hot oil all over until he turns down the heat.

Jimin can’t unlock the phone without Yoongi’s fingerprint or PIN number, can just read the message preview which starts with happy cooking! and tell him happy bday from me too if that’s not too…

“Huh. He… wishes me a happy birthday,” Jimin mumbles, then looks at Yoongi, who’s finally won his battle with the bacon and is removing the skillet from the stove again. “You told him about me?”

“‘Course I did,” Yoongi says, adding the bacon to the bowl of ground meat. “You’re a big part of my day; it’s hard to talk about what I’ve been up to without talking about you.”

Jimin hums, staring back at the message preview.

It’s not the first time he’s heard that Yoongi talks about him with other people. Seokjin had mentioned it before, multiple times, and Jimin knew, and yet… It’s not the same. He can’t explain it, but it’s different when he knows that Yoongi told Hoseok about him… This person from his past, this person he used to be so close to, and who he’s only now getting to know again.

It’s humbling. Touching. Jimin stares at Yoongi’s phone until it goes black again, and thinks how he loves, loves being a big part of Yoongi’s day.

“Tell him thank you, for the birthday wishes,” he says, then brings up the camera app and grins. “Smile, hyung!”

“Huh?”

The pic Jimin takes is of Yoongi wearing an expression that is half-surprise and half-scowl, holding the skillet mid-air with the last few bits of juicy bacon falling out, and the snarky words on his apron clearly visible.

“Yah, Jimin-ah-” Yoongi begins, but Jimin just laughs, docking Yoongi’s phone into the speaker again and restarting the playlist.

“Send it to him later,” he says, going back to his carrots. “Tell him it’s from me.”

He pointedly ignores Yoongi’s narrowed eyes, smiling cutely as he picks up the knife again.

Their conversation moves into a different direction then, to how Yoongi found this recipe on a website of their favorite cooking show - Jimin actually remembers one of the contestants making it, one of the top three at the end of that episode - and how he decided to try it, since they could both use some real sustenance every once in a while.

When Jimin finishes all of his vegetable slicing, he takes the fluffy white rice off the stove and slowly puts away the things they don’t need anymore. Yoongi stir-fries the colorful veggies as well, combines them with the meat, and then starts on the final piece of the meal - the sauce.

“...suggested meditation, before I start with the actual… what, training?” Jimin says, now sitting on the counter next to the stove, his legs dangling as he watches Yoongi stir the dark brown sauce endlessly. “He said that it will help clear my mind and focus better and… have better control.”

“He’s right,” Yoongi says. “It helped me a lot in the beginning. I had… hm. Even before everything happened with- with Hoseok, I had kind of a love-hate relationship with my energy. I didn’t get it at all, and I think while I was still in my parents’ house I had zero control over it. It’s a fucking miracle how nothing happened back then. Later, meditation helped me… Ah, I don’t know,” he huffs, frustrated with how much stirring the sauce needs before it thickens sufficiently. “It helped me get to know it better, I guess. It’s when I finally started understanding how it works.”

Jimin nods. “So I read up on it, and I thought maybe, like, ten to fifteen minutes every day to start?”

“Yeah, that sounds okay.”

“It doesn’t seem too hard, but Joon-hyung said the biggest challenge is to stop thinking and to just. concentrate on what you feel inside. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life.”

Yoongi snorts, finally turning off the heat and yet still stirring the sauce a few more times. “Yeah, it opened up a very special can of worms for me, when I started getting in touch with my inner self. It was fun.”

Jimin shoots him a dark look. From the few times they’ve talked about their pasts, Jimin didn’t find out all too much about Yoongi’s. But he’s heard enough to know that life and people were cruel to Yoongi in more ways than one, and that his ability to joke about it now, in this dark, sarcastic way, is a product of an enormous amount of work on his values and inner strength. Another thing that Jimin admires him for, greatly.

He’s about to open his mouth to say more about meditation, when Yoongi lifts the wooden spoon with steaming sauce in it. “Try it,” he says, blowing on it a couple of times before bringing it to Jimin’s lips.

Jimin gives it a scrutinizing glance before he also blows on it and lets Yoongi carefully tip it into his mouth.

“Oh!” he exclaims, covering his smile with a hand as he tastes sweetness and spice, precariously balanced, but complementing each other perfectly. “Oh my god, hyung! It’s so good!”

“Yeah?” Yoongi smiles, too, then spoons more of the sauce from the pot to try it himself. “Huh. I thought there’d be too much ginger. But it’s just on the edge of being spicy-”

“-you could totally add more chilli pas-”

“-no, stop. No.” Yoongi shakes his head, interrupting Jimin’s interruption. “No more chilli paste, fuck, last time your nose started running.”

“It clears up my sinuses,” Jimin says with a smirk, to which Yoongi looks at him flatly.

But then his gaze lowers to Jimin’s lips, almost right at Yoongi’s eye level with how Jimin is sitting on the counter.

“You have, uh-” Yoongi stutters. “Here-” He does this weird motion of reaching for Jimin, then pulling back and touching the corner of his own mouth. “A little bit of-”

“Oh.” Jimin gets it, and uses a finger to wipe away a spot of sauce from his face. He presses the pad of the finger between his lips, sucks on it lightly to taste more of the spice, and when he next looks up, Yoongi seems… stunned.

His mouth is hanging open, eyes a little wide and focused on where Jimin’s finger had just been; it doesn’t seem like he’s breathing. Yoongi.jpg.

“Hyung?”

Yoongi looks up then, into Jimin’s eyes, but he still appears lost. “I…” he starts, and doesn’t finish. He licks his lips, confusion in his gaze, but also something more, something akin to a question; like he’s searching for answers in Jimin’s expression, in his eyes. Like he needs a nudge in the right direction.

And Jimin is pretty sure he knows what the question is.  

He hums, smiles only a little bit. Raises a hand and takes hold of Yoongi’s apron, right where the word opinion is. He doesn’t pull, or say anything, because his heart is beating so forcefully it’s ready to jump out of his chest.

Jimin glances up at Yoongi, and waits, nervous and wanting and not daring to move; he’s not going to ruin this again, he’s going to let Yoongi decide if-

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi whispers, and steps in, between Jimin’s legs. Looks deep, deep into his eyes, seeking; reaches up with his hand, pauses, but then at last touches him - Yoongi cups Jimin’s face, softly, tenderly, grazes the ends of Jimin’s hair at the back of his neck.

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi whispers, words hot over Jimin’s lips. Jimin closes his eyes, every nerve in his body tense now, anticipating - Yoongi’s thumb caressing his cheek, the fold of Yoongi’s apron still in his hand. “I’m so sorry Jimin-ah.”

Then, before Jimin can ask why, why he is sorry, Yoongi presses their lips together. Carefully, he captures Jimin’s lips between his own, moves against them, and Jimin… Jimin lets out a tiny sound, a hum that is barely a smidgen of everything he feels; like he is coming undone, like this is where he ends, where there is no time and no space and only this sensation of flying, soaring so high- 

He kisses back, tightens his grip on Yoongi’s apron, tastes him… Spicy and sweet, like the sauce, and so slow; soft lips and a kiss that is an apology, a reassurance; a continuation of something that has changed in many ways since the last time.

Jimin sighs into it, relaxes as Yoongi cards his fingers through Jimin’s hair, tugs a little, and Jimin makes another noise; parts his lips for Yoongi to lick into them; for it to become more, for Jimin to lick back and bring Yoongi in and spread his legs wider…

It’s sensual and languid, and hot. Jimin melts from how Yoongi touches him; how he kisses him until Jimin is dizzy, until his body is too warm and his limbs are heavy. He’s here; Yoongi is here, in his arms and on his tongue and curled up in his heart - this is what they are, this simmering heat and this pain and this love.

When Yoongi pulls away eventually, it’s not far. He doesn’t let go, doesn’t step back, just breathes heavily in the space between them. There’s a flush to his cheekbones, a redness to his lips that Jimin can’t look away from.

Jimin finally releases Yoongi’s dumb apron and reaches up, to cradle his face with careful fingertips.

“Hey,” he whispers, smiling; not entirely sure where they are, or why, just that he feels drunk and mellow and giggly.

“Hey,” Yoongi whispers back. He seems dazed as well, as though he forgot what they were doing before their lips met.

A beginning.

A rebirth.

“You okay?” Jimin asks, brushing his fingers over Yoongi’s soft cheeks. He remembers what happened the last time they kissed. He needs to know if Yoongi is freaking out again or not. If this is too much for him.

“I don’t…” Yoongi blinks slowly, like a cat, clearly attempting to gather his thoughts. “Yes. I think so. I… missed that. You- kissing you. I missed it.”

Jimin smiles. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you… still feel like running away?” If it’s too soon, they don’t have to do it. They don’t have to repeat this, or force it, or-

“Yes,” Yoongi admits, but he’s not moving. He’s looking into Jimin’s eyes and he said yes, but he’s not leaving.

Jimin nods, as much as he can with Yoongi’s fingers still in his hair. He tries to keep his voice level, tries not to betray how much he’d like Yoongi to stay.

“Are you going to?”

Yoongi is quiet for a long moment. He watches Jimin, his gaze lingering on his eyes, and his lips, and he leans in again, noses at his cheek; places a kiss to Jimin’s jawline - Jimin hums, skin breaking out in goosebumps - then he snorts, lets out a puff of air over Jimin’s skin.

“I’m… terrified,” Yoongi confesses. It feels like he’s smiling, but the kind of smile that’s more a grimace, that you make when you’re too sad, too angry, too incredulous about what’s happening.

Jimin immediately wraps his arms around Yoongi’s shoulders. Hugs him, but not too tight. Lets Yoongi tuck his face into the curve of his neck.

“Okay, that’s okay, hyung,” Jimin says, closing his eyes, focusing on the closeness. How Yoongi is not pulling away; how he’s terrified, but doesn’t fight the embrace, doesn’t try to put distance between them. “You can be the terrified one, and I’ll be the not-terrified one and… I don’t know, together we’ll take over the world.”

Now Yoongi’s laugh is one of weak amusement. “Pretty sure it doesn’t work like that,” he mumbles into Jimin’s skin.

“Of course it does,” Jimin knows. “We complete each other.”

Yoongi doesn’t have a comeback to that, so they say nothing for a while. They stay there as their not-fully-assembled dinner gets cold, Yoongi standing between Jimin’s legs, holding him, being held in return.

Jimin wants to say a lot of things. How this doesn’t have to be anything big, or important. How being with Yoongi, in any capacity, is enough to make him happy. How he likes talking to Yoongi and watching TV and eating with him and everything in between, and how there are no expectations, and no pressure. Yoongi doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to.

But then Jimin starts gently scratching across Yoongi’s back, and Yoongi relaxes even further, buries his face in the collar of Jimin’s sweater, and Jimin thinks… Maybe Yoongi already knows this. Maybe he knows it, and he is scared, because of what happened, because of what could happen, but he also wants it, too.

So Jimin turns his head a little, his lips right at the shell of Yoongi’s ear. “Hey,” he whispers again.

Yoongi grunts, as though he was just about to fall asleep.

“I like you a lot,” Jimin says, still raking his nails over Yoongi’s hoodie. “And... I’m not afraid of you, hyung.”

There’s no reply. Not until Yoongi shifts a bit, rubs his face into Jimin’s sweater - cute, so cute - and settles back in the hug.

“I like you too,” Yoongi murmurs. “A lot. And you might need to repeat that part about not being afraid of me a few more times in the future.”

Jimin smiles. “Deal.” He presses a tiny kiss to Yoongi’s ear, and feels Yoongi smile, too. “Wanna eat?”

“Wanna make out more?”

“God, yes.”

So Yoongi straightens up, looks at Jimin with unfocused eyes and a dopey smile, and then leans in again, kissing him more.

 


 

Jimin swears he fell asleep five minutes ago. He had just gotten cozy, arranged himself just the way he liked on the sofa, the cushions soft and accommodating around him, and had blissfully slipped into slumber, when a movement stirred him out of it. 

He releases a string of unintelligible sounds in protest, frowning as he realizes the movement is on top of him, a warm weight that’s now almost uncomfortable on his full stomach.

“Jiminie,” someone whispers, making Jimin answer with an emphatic, “No.

The person chuckles, and Jimin feels something soft, a warm breath over his jaw, a kiss to the corner of his lips.

“Happy birthday.”

It’s that which makes Jimin crack his eyes open. He takes a moment to orient himself in the faint street lights, to recognize Yoongi’s dark living room, and his leather sofa, and Yoongi himself, lying half on top of him and half squeezed between Jimin and the back of the couch.

“Issmybithday?” Jimin mumbles, and finally his vision sharpens enough so he can make out Yoongi’s smile.

The smile on those pink lips he’d spent the entire evening kissing. Kissing on Yoongi’s kitchen counter, at the dinner table over their plates of food that turned out surprisingly delicious (“I resent the surprisingly,” Yoongi had grumbled, throwing a piece of carrot into his mouth. “I’m a fucking amazing cook.” Jimin had laughed and snatched the last of the rice off his plate.); kissing on Yoongi’s sofa after that. Maybe a little grinding, a little panting into Yoongi’s mouth and maybe some heat that was both welcome and frustrating. Maybe Jimin enjoyed the sound of Yoongi’s moan, low and raspy, and loved feeling how hard he got from Jimin’s kisses and the rolls of his hips.

And then, somewhere between Yoongi’s mouth on his neck and Jimin’s fingers in Yoongi’s hair and their warm bodies fitted together on the sofa, they had drifted off to sleep. Or at least Jimin had.

“Happy birthday, Jiminie,” Yoongi repeats, nuzzling into him.

“Hmmmm…” Jimin smiles, now a little more awake, and a little less disgruntled by being awake. He wraps his arms around Yoongi and waits to be kissed. Waits for Yoongi’s lips again; what a novelty, what a thrill, to be able to kiss him now. Anytime he wants. “Thank you,” he says, just before Yoongi leans down.

And that’s when Jimin’s phone starts vibrating on the coffee table; Yoongi groans into the kiss, and Jimin giggles, already reaching for it.

He sees one of Taehyung’s sillier selfies on the screen before he swipes to answer.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JIMINIE~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! ” booms through the phone, so loud that Jimin doesn’t even put it to his ear, just holds it out, listening to at least two voices singing.

Then there’s cheering, Namjoon’s screechy, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JIMIN-AH! ” the only sentence he can distinguish.

Jimin laughs as Yoongi settles back on top of him, his cheek pressed to Jimin’s chest, just the perfect position for Jimin to play with his hair.

“Thank you, guys!” Jimin shouts then, having turned on speakerphone.

What the hell, how did he get here, surrounded by all of these amazing people who love him and who he loves back.

We have so much stuffing planned for you tomorrow! ” Jungkook exclaims.

“Stuffing?”

He means stuff! ” Taehyung corrects. “Sorry, we started… We’re already celebrating your birthday. Jungkook is on his ninth shot now, he’s about to drop his pants.

Oh, cool, you’re wearing the bunny boxers I got you! ” Namjoon says somewhere in the background.

Jimin vividly remembers the first time he witnessed Jungkook’s tendency to discard his pants whenever he’s at the ninth or tenth shot of a drink which contains rum. It has something to do with him becoming too hot (“Both figuratively and literally, hoho,” Taehyung had said.), and that’s why Jungkook isn’t allowed to drink rum-based beverages in public.

“Are those the ones with the bunny tail in the back?” Jimin asks.

Yeah! Look-

The screen of Jimin’s phone goes black for a moment, a loading circle in the middle of it, and then Taehyung’s grainy mug appears in the center. He’s grinning wide, and then showing off Jungkook standing in what looks like his own living room, chugging something from a bottle as Namjoon takes pics of a fluffy white bunny tail poking out of the backside of his boxer briefs.

Come drink with us? ” Taehyung then asks, his boxy grin back in the frame. “This was kinda unplanned, we admit, but we promise everything is sorted out for tomorrow. You’re gonna love the cats, and the windmills and- ARGH!

Jimin startles as Taehyung suddenly vanishes from the screen, his phone dropping to the ground. There’s commotion and cursing and Jungkook shouting what sounds like a battle cry, Taehyung going, “DO NOT!” , but then in the next second he’s laughing loudly, so Jimin figures his life is not in imminent danger.

Then Taehyung’s phone is being picked up, and Namjoon smiles at them, all dimply and slightly tipsy from the booze. “It’s all good, Jungkook tackled him,” he says airily, over the sounds of laughing struggle off to the side. “Because we agreed it was gonna be a surprise, so. You coming?”

Jimin laughs, his fingers still idly threading through Yoongi’s dark hair. He considers for a second, and then decides to turn on his own front camera. While it loads, he lets go of Yoongi to reach behind him and turn on the floor lamp that’s right beside the sofa, before he goes back to petting.

He knows when his camera connects, because Namjoon lets out a soft, “Oh my god.

Jimin smiles, and Yoongi grunts, squinting at the phone above them with one eye. “Yah, Joon-ah,” he says by way of a greeting, his words half-muffled in Jimin’s sweater.

Then Taehyung’s phone shows nothing but a blank wall as Namjoon urges off-camera, “Guys, guys! Stop that! No- Stop- Tae, spit it out. Spit that tail out right now, you gotta see this. HURRY!

And then three faces are crammed in the phone screen, pixelated and wide-eyed, and zoomed in on one of Jungkook’s nostrils in the foreground.

Holy fuck.

What the hell.

They did it.

THEY DID IT.

THEY ARE TOGETHER LOOK AT THEM JESUS THEY’RE SO CUTE!

YOONGI-HYUNG IS A CAT CONFIRMED!

FUCKING TAKE A SCREENSHOT OF THAT!

Both Jimin and Yoongi chuckle as there’s a shutter sound, and then their friends are grinning madly.

“So, yeah,” Jimin says, unable to keep a straight face. “I’d like to drink with all of you, don’t get me wrong, but… We’re kind of already comfortable here.”

No, no that’s totally fine, that’s- ” Taehyung takes hold of his phone again and walks away from the others; his eyes are wide and shining. “We’re so happy for you guys. You stay cozy, okay, we’ll see you both tomorrow!

And listen- ” Namjoon suddenly appears over Taehyung’s shoulder. “Make sure you are protected, okay, I know neither of you carries any diseases, but just in- ”  

The last thing they see before the call ends is Taehyung’s glare at Namjoon, and Jimin laughs as he sets his phone back on the coffee table.

He can honestly say, with 100% certainty, that this is the best birthday he’s ever had, and it’s only one hour in.

“Sleeping?” he whispers, smoothing out the strands of Yoongi’s hair he ruffled during the phone call.

Yoongi makes a negative sound.

“More making out?” Jimin suggests, and Yoongi lets out a put-upon sigh, but picks himself up anyway. Jimin giggles, shifting a bit to make himself more comfortable underneath. “Oh I’m sorry, is it already a chore? Would you like to do something else instead? How about washing the dishes we left in-”

His words are cut off by Yoongi’s lips, and Jimin smiles into the kiss, returning it easily.

“Stay the night?” Yoongi whispers between one meet of their lips and the next, a hand cold but oh so good underneath Jimin’s sweater, gentle over his hip.

“Yes,” Jimin breathes, though he knows they won’t go further than this. They’ll take their time, and talk about this more, and see where they’re at and how they’re going to proceed, but yes, yes, all of it; everything with Yoongi. “Yes,” he says again, and moans when Yoongi sinks his teeth into his bottom lip.

 

Chapter Text

“5000 won says he can’t do it.”

Jimin meets the challenge in Jungkook’s eyes and smirks. Of course he can do it. He’s already done it a few times at dance practice.

“10 000 won that he can,” Seokjin’s tinny voice comes from Jungkook’s laptop, perched on the coffee table in Jungkook’s living room.

“15,” Jungkook says.

“20!”

Jimin rolls his eyes at how they always have to outdo each other. “No one is wasting any money on stupid bets-”

“25 000 won,” Jungkook enunciates, and Jimin heaves a sigh, sinking into the sofa.

Seokjin is quiet for a moment, the camera showing him looking down from where he’s sitting on the floor, rummaging off to the side. Then, “I have 50 euros in my wallet. How much is that?”

Jungkook leans forward, touches the laptop and looks it up without actually clicking anything. “Around 60 000.”

“60 000 won!” Seokjin offers.

Jimin lets out a hopeless laugh. “What the fuck, that’s way too much-”

But Jungkook is clearly thinking about it, chewing on the inside of his cheek. Then he nods. “Deal!”

Jimin throws his head back and looks up at the ceiling.

“Here’s what I don’t understand,” he says, feeling like he’s talking to himself. Clearly no one else is paying attention to him here. Seokjin is supposed to be the oldest of them, the wisest, and yet here he is, sharing exactly one brain cell with Jungkook. “Betting money on something neither of you are involved in. It’s not like Kook said he could eat fifty hot wings in one sitting. Not like Jin-hyung issued a challenge to a stare-off or something. This is basically the same as you betting money on whether there will be a traffic accident outside our street or not. Neither of you know if it’ll happen. Only I know if it will.” He frowns, aware that the analogy got away from him somewhere along the way. “Point is, only I know if I can do it or-”

“Do the thing, Jimin,” Jungkook says, and immediately gets a whack on the shoulder.

“Hyung,” Jimin corrects him, to which Jungkook makes a childish grimace, but, somehow, Jimin finds himself getting up anyway, indulging them.

It’s Sunday afternoon, the last day in a long week of dreary, rainy weather, which meant that all indoor activities had to be kicked up a notch in order to keep everyone entertained.

This included getting into Namjoon’s apartment while he was still at work and completely rearranging his living room - moving the sofa and the armchair to a different corner and reorganizing his bookshelf with the creepy figurines, and Jungkook stealing his bean bag. It also involved holding a hacky sack competition in Jimin’s apartment, which resulted in Taehyung getting three stitches above his eyebrow because he’d lost his balance and landed head first into Jimin’s coffee table.

Now, apparently, it also means Jungkook and Seokjin making bets on whether or not Jimin could do this very specific athletic/gymnastics/dance type thing.

So Jimin walks over to the small clearing in Jungkook’s living room and begins warming up, getting his muscles and joints loose.

“...was so cool,” Jungkook is saying, leaning into the laptop. “They had all these amazing costumes and they could jump so high!” He gestures with his hand above his head. “I’ve never been to a ballet before, but I really want to go again.”

Jimin smiles to himself, bending at the waist to wake up his hamstrings.

For his birthday, they had organized a trip to a cat cafe (where Jimin had snapped exactly 307 pictures of everyone, especially Yoongi, surrounded by kitties of all shapes and sizes), which was followed by a night at the ballet, where they watched the iconic performance of Don Quixote by the Universal Ballet Company.

(“How did you know it was my favorite ballet?” Jimin had asked once he’d realized what the tickets in Taehyung’s hand were for, and had nearly pissed himself with joy. The fact that Yoongi was there was probably the only thing that stopped him from publicly embarrassing himself.

Jungkook shrugged. “I may have hacked into your youtube history. Just for a second. There was a disproportionate amount of Don Quixote compared to any other shows.”

Jimin had stared at him, not sure if he should have been impressed or unsettled that it was actually that easy for Jungkook to spy on people by simply using their digital devices.

“It was Yoongi-hyung’s idea,” Jungkook said lightly, to which then Jimin turned to stare at Yoongi.

“You couldn’t have just asked?!

“We wanted to keep it a surprise!” Namjoon exclaimed from behind them.

“No illegal activity - no surprise Don Quixote tickets,” Yoongi mumbled, as though this was a no-brainer.

Unsettled; Jimin definitely should have felt unsettled that his friends had resorted to criminal activity to arrange a birthday present for him. But somehow, he couldn’t shake off just being so deliriously moved instead.)

“Though I’m not sure if I got the plot completely.” Jungkook frowns. “I think this one guy killed himself? But then was brought back to life?”

“He only fake killed himself,” Jimin mumbles from where his face is pressed into his knees.

“Well, that certainly sounds like a level of drama I’d enjoy,” Seokjin says, and then the conversation veers off in a different path.

It takes some more minutes for Jimin to feel limber enough to settle the bet the other two made. He would feel a little bad about Jungkook having to cough up 60 000 won, but he had brought it on himself, so.

With the laptop pointed in the right direction so that Seokjin can see as well, Jimin eyeballs the free space he has and decides it’s probably enough. Then, from a standing position, he bends backwards, all the way down until his hands touch the floor. In the next moment, he lifts his feet up from the bridge and into a handstand, candle straight - Jimin focuses on his breathing, tightens all of his muscles - and then he slowly lowers his legs down and jumps up, letting out a triumphant Hah!

Jungkook is doing that unblinking thing again, staring at Jimin with eyes as wide as saucers, while Seokjin grins sweetly.

“I’ll take my payment in bulgogi, thank you, JK.”

Jimin grins back, and Jungkook asks him to teach him how to do that, seemingly unbothered that he’d just lost an inordinate amount of money.

So Jimin goes over the technicalities, the parts where Jungkook needs to be careful, and tests if his spine is flexible enough to bend back into a bridge position. Then it turns into a minor flexibility competition, where actually Seokjin is the one who demonstrates that he can do a full front split on the floor of his tiny apartment in Paris.

It’s when Jimin is comfortably seated in a full side split on the floor, his legs stretched out to either side as far as they can go, that the door of Jungkook’s apartment opens, and Taehyung walks in first.

“Okay, we’ve got: butter chicken, tandoori chicken, naan, and a bunch of other things I have no idea how to pronounce,” he says, temporarily setting the bag of food containers on the floor so that he can take off his boots and raincoat. “Oh wow, hey Chim, very stretchy, much bend.” He grins as he comes in, running a hand through his hair, careful not to disturb the white bandage over his eyebrow stitches. Then he spots Seokjin on the screen. “Hi hyung! Welcome to Indian food night!” he calls, moving the food to the kitchen.

Seokjin’s reply gets muffled by a string of curses and mutters from the entrance door.

“-never fucking again, never playing the dumb game, never going out for food, fucking rain and fucking umbrella-” Yoongi stomps his feet on the doormat, shakes the black umbrella that looks like it’s been put through a wood chipper, and then just dumps it in the hallway, not bothering to bring it in.

He’s carrying the rest of the food, and he takes his time shucking his boots and his jacket, all the while mumbling to himself about the unfairness of rock, paper, scissors, and how he’s the oldest of the currently present bunch and shouldn’t be subjected to such suffering like being sent out to get food in a monsoon-

Yoongi finally walks into the living room proper, and immediately halts, his eyes landing on Jimin in his split.

Jimin beams. “Hyung!”

It’s nothing short of fascinating, how quickly Yoongi’s pasty skin flushes. How his ears turn red and his cheekbones flare up, all without him actually doing anything; saying anything. Without him actually moving. It’s been a dozen seconds since he’s blinked by now.

“I think the video’s frozen again,” Seokjin says from the laptop.

“No, no, hyung is just having a minor freak out,” Jungkook replies, watching how Yoongi has yet to look up from Jimin’s flexibility feat. Jimin can’t stop smiling, biting his lip not to giggle out loud.

“Yoongi?” he asks, and Yoongi lifts up a hand, as though to silence him.

“I’ll be right with you,” he mumbles, and doesn’t stop staring.

Jimin bursts into laughter, brings his legs together and gets up. Yoongi is tomato red, looking completely out of it when Jimin comes closer. He cups Yoongi’s face and says, “You are too cute,” before he kisses him on the lips.

Yoongi barely responds, a press of his own lips back as he gingerly rests his hands on Jimin’s hips.

“Liked what you saw, huh?” Jimin asks, pulling away only enough to look into his eyes, feeling how hot Yoongi’s cheeks are under his touch.

“I… didn’t know a human body could do that,” Yoongi says, full of what could only be interpreted as wonder. Awe.

“You went to the ballet with us.”

“Let me rephrase that.” Yoongi takes a second to close his eyes, breathe in, and open them again. “I didn’t know that a human I’m allowed to touch could do that.”

Jimin laughs more, giving Yoongi another peck on the lips.

“God, you were right,” Seokjin says from behind them, mock disgust in his tone. “They really are sickeningly sweet.”

“Yup,” Jungkook says.

“Hard not to love them like that, though?” Taehyung adds from the kitchen, where he’s unpacking the food and sorting everything into piles by who ordered what.

“I think this is the most I’ve seen Yoongi smile in like three years,” Seokjin says; Yoongi’s gaze goes flat, even as he’s still holding Jimin close to him. “I hope you’re prepared for hyung’s return, Yoongichi! I am never letting you live this down! You are finally displaying affection in public and I’m going to be all sorts of affectionate with you!”

“Oh god,” Yoongi mutters, making Jimin giggle again. “When he comes back, can we just move to Japan or something?”

“HAH, as if that would stop me!” Seokjin barks, but then pulls himself together and sits up straighter in the camera. “Okay, as much as I’d like to stay and uncomfortably stare at you while you kids eat, I’ve got to call Joonie now, so-”

“How’s that going?” Jungkook interrupts him, as Yoongi brings his share of food into the kitchen and starts dividing it along with Taehyung, with Jimin hovering around them and being more of a nuisance than any actual help.

“How’s what going?” Seokjin asks.

“You and Namjoon-hyung.”

“Huh? There’s nothing to go.”

“Isn’t there?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, JK,” Seokjin says, in a tone which could suggest that he actually does have an idea what Jungkook is talking about. Or maybe it’s just the staticky connection between them. “I’ll talk to you later. Enjoy Indian cuisine, kids! Think of me when you’re elbow deep in curry!”

They all shout various forms of goodbye, and Jungkook ends the call. A short silence passes, interrupted by the rustle of food containers and bags, and Jimin letting out a tiny whine as he makes grabby hands for the box of spicy rice Yoongi is holding.

Then Jungkook claps his hands and gets up, coming over to help himself. “Let the binge eating begin!”

 


 

For over a month now, Jimin has been diligent. He practiced every day. Namjoon was right when he said it wasn’t going to be easy; Jimin’s thoughts are often disorganized, and loud! in his mind. At the beginning, he had trouble sorting them out, quieting them down. 

But slowly, day by day, he has gotten better at it. He’s learned how to calm his thinking, how to focus on his breathing and his energy. He felt the warm, yellow glow inside of him, the one he shares with his plants; alive and gentle, and beautiful - holding a lot of power, but not showing it off. Not eager to release it, unless with a good reason to.

In his mind, Jimin would touch this glow, feel its liquid warmth under his fingertips. He would examine every side of it, every curve, and he would test it out - see what makes it shine brighter, what makes it retreat into itself. He was careful, not prodding too much - just enough to learn how it works; to understand what he has with his flowers, how the energy flows between them. How he can maybe harvest it in a crucial moment.

Now, it’s the end of a work week, Friday evening in the flower shop.

Yoongi and Jimin are sitting on cushions on the floor, opposite each other, surrounded by flowers on the shelves and hanging in colorful pots off the ceiling. Namjoon is standing to the side, leaning against the counter.

“So,” Namjoon says. “Think of it as… a simulation, in a way. Hyung’s energy will come in contact with yours, and your job is to push it back. Nothing extreme, nothing…” He waves his hands. “You know. We’re just practicing. The goal here is to learn how much it takes to push back, to get hyung’s energy to withdraw without actually hurting him, or yourself, in the process. We’re going to start small, and work our way up.”

Jimin nods, swallows over his dry throat. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous. He doesn’t care much what happens to him - if he passes out again, if he needs to recover for days, like he had to before - but he is afraid of hurting Yoongi; afraid of failure.

(“If… if it doesn’t work… if- if I can’t do it,” Jimin had whispered, one rainy night, pressed against Yoongi’s side on the couch. His lips were just shy of Yoongi’s neck, his fingers playing with the collar of Yoongi’s shirt. “What will you do?”

Yoongi was quiet for a long moment, slowly stroking Jimin’s back.

“I don’t know,” he said then. “I don’t… I don’t know.”

Jimin had only hummed, snuggled even closer, and prayed that it didn’t get to that.)

He knows how tenuous this is; Yoongi and him; Yoongi being here; this idea that seems too good to be true. Jimin knows that a lot is depending on it.

And he wants it to work so badly.

He watches Yoongi across from him - his tense posture, hands in fists resting on his thighs - and has the urge to reassure; both himself and Yoongi.

“It’s okay, hyung,” Jimin says quietly. “We can do this. I can do this.”

Yoongi’s eyes meet his, and there’s apprehension in them, a sadness.

They’re sitting close enough so that when Jimin reaches, Yoongi easily takes both of his hands, holds them over their crossed legs.

“I’ll reach out to you,” Yoongi says, and nothing in his voice reveals his emotions. But Jimin reads him, reads the tightness of his lips - knows how worried Yoongi is.

It’ll be fine. They’ll be fine.

“And you just…” Yoongi continues, lightly squeezing Jimin’s hands. “Get me to pull back. It won’t be too much. I can control it.”

Jimin smiles, squeezing back. “I’m not afraid of you, hyung.”

Yoongi returns the smile with a weak one of his own, and then Namjoon says, “Okay. I’ll be here, just in case.” Just in case something goes wrong. In case Yoongi, or Jimin, or both, lose control. (It’ll be fine.) “Whenever you’re ready.”

Jimin’s heart pounds in his ears, and he forces his thoughts to the periphery. He employs what he learned through meditation and exhales his nervousness, empties his mind; breathes in and out, looking at Yoongi, knowing that Yoongi is doing the same; they’re grounding themselves, getting in touch with their cores.

Then Yoongi closes his eyes, and Jimin follows.

He sees darkness, feels the warmth of the flowers around him, how it’s connected to his own. The yellow orb is there, the representation of his energy shimmering in front of him, and he’s okay. He knows what this is. He’s been in this place many times now.

But then the cold creeps in; little by little, not as sudden or as unexpected as the last time. It starts at his fingertips, through his palm, up his forearm - ice cubes sliding over his skin, his very bones dipped in snow. Jimin shivers, but doesn’t let go of Yoongi’s hands.

His own energy is still warm, and he focuses on that.

But the darkness is advancing - oozing forward, the same way Yoongi’s ink had oozed across the bathroom floor. It’s slow but determined, and now already past Jimin’s elbows. Jimin frowns, tries to direct his energy to meet the cold, to counteract it, but his own breath hitches in his lungs.

Another shudder rips through him; Jimin can’t- He’d forgotten how freezing it gets, how paralyzing it is- He can’t move his fingers- The darkness doesn’t stop, even for a second, even when he feels it on all sides, oppressing-

“Hyung-” Jimin whispers, and tries, he tries, but his warmth doesn’t want to- It’s too cold, too cold, it doesn’t want to be near it- “I can’t-”

All at once, the cold disappears, infinitely faster than it came. Jimin shivers again, gasps for air - he didn’t even realize he’d been holding his breath - and opens his eyes.

“We’re done,” Yoongi announces. He’d already let go of Jimin’s hands - it’s why the cold retreated so quickly, from the loss of contact between them - and is getting up off the floor.

“No, hyung-” Jimin barely catches a glimpse of Yoongi’s expression - jaw clenched tight enough to break, eyes a raging storm - before he realizes what's going on.

He failed. He took too long. Yoongi’s energy almost came up to his lungs again, and he didn’t react in time. He got too distracted, too overwhelmed by the chill. “Hyung, let me try again-”

But Yoongi is already at the door, one hand about to pull it open - no, no, NO; just one more time, one more try; I can do this - when Namjoon says, “Yoongi.”

Yoongi stops. He doesn’t open the door, but he also doesn’t remove his hand from the door knob. Doesn’t turn around. His breathing is uneven, like he’s holding back from screaming; or crying. Or both.

“Yoongi-hyung, please,” Jimin says, his own voice unsteady. He’s still trembling, though he’s not sure if that’s from the memory of the cold, or from the fear that if Yoongi leaves now, he might not be coming back.

If Yoongi thinks there’s no help for him, he’ll put as much distance between him and the rest of them as possible, and they might never see him again.

“I can do this, I know I can,” Jimin repeats, because he’s sure. He’s sure of it, he just needs to focus better, to remember his lessons with Namjoon, needs to fucking stop panicking, and to breathe. “One more time?”

“No,” Yoongi grits out, like it’s painful. “I’m not hurting you again. I’m not- I won’t hurt you again.”

Jimin swallows a shout of exasperation. He wants to march up to Yoongi and shove him so hard that his stupid face slams into the daisy stickers on the door glass. He also wants to wrap his arms around Yoongi and never let him go.

Mostly Jimin just wants to cry; out of frustration, out of helplessness, out of all these feelings he has for Yoongi. He bites on his lip, forces himself to remain sitting on his cushion, and looks over at Namjoon.

If Yoongi’s eyes are a raging storm, Namjoon’s are a glacier, its razor sharp ice shards cutting into Yoongi’s back.

“You can try one more time, hyung,” he says, and Jimin thinks how Namjoon is also scary when he’s angry. Calm on the surface, but deadly underneath. “If Jimin says he’s up for it and that it’s okay, you need to trust him.”

It’s one long, maddening beat of stillness before Yoongi releases the door knob. He turns and glares at Namjoon; Namjoon glares right back. Jimin thinks there might be some sort of a silent conversation going on there, one that he can’t quite make sense of, but that had perhaps played out several times before. Neither party backs down, until finally Yoongi exhales sharply through his nose.

He nods, like Namjoon and he had agreed on something, then he looks at Jimin. And Jimin almost tells him he’d give him the whole world.

“Yoongi,” he whispers, because Yoongi had barely started putting his pieces back together, one by one, before that precarious shape of him is already in danger of falling apart once again. “Please. You won’t hurt me. I’m not… I’m not afraid of you, Yoongi.”

Yoongi frowns, in that way he does when he’s hurt, when he’s about to break down, when everything is too hard. Jimin knows it is, knows he’s asking a lot, but he needs Yoongi to trust him, to let him-

Yoongi comes closer; he kneels on the tiles in front of Jimin and slides a hand over the back of his head; threads his fingers into Jimin’s hair and presses their foreheads together.

“Jimin-ah,” he breathes, and it’s their own form of silent communication.

It’s Yoongi telling Jimin that he’s scared, that he doesn’t want to harm him, not again, not again- He wouldn’t be able to stand seeing Jimin hurt again.

It’s Yoongi saying that he feels so much and that it’s too fragile - he is too fragile, and this is suffocating them both-

“Do it,” Jimin says, hands coming up to cradle Yoongi’s face. “Hyung, do it now.”

Yoongi doesn’t ask what it is. As Jimin shuts his eyes tight, he feels the cold bleed into his skin once more - from Yoongi’s hand in his hair now, instantly making him shiver again. The chill spreads down his neck, down his back and under his sweater, Jimin’s warmth eclipsed by darkness.

“Remember your plants,” Namjoon’s voice reaches him, distant, as though Jimin is underwater. “Use your plants, Jimin.”

Plants, plants, right. This is about the energy he shares with his plants. Jimin does his best to ignore the cold - so cold that his teeth chatter, his lungs already stinging on each inhale - and pushes his thoughts, his feelings, outward.

He feels Yoongi’s jaw under his fingertips; feels the flowers around him; feels their warmth, his warmth, surrounding him. They are together, they are one, and then, blessedly, simply, it’s not so bad anymore.

Jimin is still shivering because his body is cold, but his core, his energy, is glowing bright. It flows through him, to his flowers and back, and it’s expanding. Slowly. The yellow light slides into his arms, down to his waist, driving the darkness away. It is gentle, but resilient, and it doesn’t stop now.

Jimin opens his eyes. He controls it - he breathes in deeply and directs his energy up, up his back to Yoongi’s hand. He sees the moment, the precise second his energy spills over into Yoongi’s hand, because Yoongi gasps. He looks at Jimin, holds him tight, tight, so very tight, and feels him; Jimin knows that Yoongi feels him.

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi says, differently this time. Surprised. Disbelieving. Emotional. “Jimin-”

He withdraws his energy; Jimin does the same - it’s easy, so easy to pull it back, to evenly distribute it between him and the plants - and Jimin smiles, thumbs gently brushing over Yoongi’s face. He did it. He is somehow both warm and cold at the same time, and there’s giddiness bubbling up in his throat; a rush of euphoria, because he did it.

He did it! In a controlled setting and with some bumps in the road, but he succeeded!

They’ll practice more and they’ll make it bigger and he will get there. He can do this! He can be Yoongi’s safety switch!

“I did it, hyung.”

“You-” Yoongi swallows, and then deflates as all the uncertainty, all the tension drain out of him in one big exhale. “You did it,” he whispers, but doesn’t let go of Jimin. Doesn’t pull away from where their foreheads are still touching. “You did it, Jimin-ah, you- I felt you. In my hand- I couldn’t continue, because you were pushing me away.”

Jimin laughs, and presses a peck to the corner of Yoongi’s lips. “I did it!”

“You did it.”

“YOU BOTH DID IT!” Namjoon shouts then and his wide arms envelop them both. He throws himself at them and nearly knocks them sideways to the floor, all three laughing without restraint.

 


 

When Jimin walks in on Yoongi sitting at the kitchen table, he has to pause; to take a moment and simply admire. 

Yoongi has a notebook open in front of him - the one he sometimes writes in, sometimes doodles in - and his left sleeve is bunched up to his elbow, exposing his inked forearm. He’s so focused on what he’s doing that he doesn’t notice Jimin.

Doesn’t notice how Jimin is smiling, or how his heart has swelled to at least three times its size, too big to fit into his chest, into this apartment; too big to contain everything he feels for the man in front of him.

The late November day is drawing to a close, even though it’s only early afternoon. The light filtering in through Yoongi’s kitchen window is cold and grey and caressing his tousled hair and the relaxed fingers of his hand. Jimin can’t help himself - he takes out his phone and quietly snaps a pic of the moment, though it doesn’t do the reality justice.

Then he comes in, passes Yoongi by and brushes a hand over his shoulders on his way to the fridge to get water, which is why he came to the kitchen in the first place.

Yoongi merely grunts, still looking down at his notebook. At his arm.

“What are you doing?” Jimin asks as he takes a seat across from him, but in the next second he gets it without needing a reply.

Yoongi’s notebook is open on a drawing - a detailed, somewhat stylized pencil drawing of a plant. Jimin recognizes it; how could he not - the star-shaped flowers, the vines trailing over the edge of the pot, though not as much as they do in real life. It’s in grayscale, but it’s Pip. Pip before it expanded; before it grew that fateful night, to help Jimin.

And Yoongi is concentrating on the ink of his arm. It’s moving, slowly rippling, changing shape, like in those slow motion videos Jimin has seen, when a drop of ink is added to a glass of water. The black bleeds through Yoongi’s pale skin like liquid, like it’s alive - and it is, Jimin reminds himself, it’s Yoongi’s energy - and then it starts resembling something.

Resembling the drawing.

Yoongi is tattooing Pip on his arm.

Jimin can only stare, mouth open, at how the ink lazily swirls; one flower appears, but it doesn’t look exactly right, and it dissolves into a formless stain before Yoongi attempts again. There’s a small line between his brows, one that Jimin wants to kiss away - wants to tell him, Yoongi, you mean so much to me. Yoongi, you’re incredible.

Yoongi is tattooing Pip on his arm, and Jimin is helplessly in love with him.

The other parts of Yoongi’s tattoo move about, gradually; the piano keys winding down to his wrist and then up, the words sneaking underneath his rolled up sleeve. Yoongi’s focus is sharp; it seems like he’s not even blinking, the fingers of his left hand moving as though he’s playing music, assembling his own ink into a new composition.

It’s a while yet before the entire artwork - because how else is Jimin going to call it - comes into place. A little smokey around the edges, a little blurry, but unmistakable - a long, long vine, extending from under Yoongi’s sleeve to the inside of his wrist, with stems branching off of it, meandering between the words and the keys and the musical notes; and Pip’s flowers, some in full bloom, some closed, waiting for their turn to open up.

It’s not the exact replica of Yoongi’s drawing - there’s no pot, it’s not so static. Rather, this is one long, elegant line of Pip, following the form of Yoongi’s arm, sharpening into a clear picture; the rest of the ink settles around it, accommodates it, as though it’s always been there. Breathing together with it; with Yoongi.

Yoongi sits back a little, assessing his work. He flexes his fingers, as though testing if the tattoo moves like it should, and it seems that it does; seamlessly blending in with what he’s done so far.

They’re showing things that mean something to me, Yoongi had once said. All of this, what Yoongi turns his ink into, is something that is important to him. And now Pip is here, too. Pip, which started out as a well-meaning gift to Yoongi, from Jimin. Which Yoongi takes care of, and talks to, and which has become an integral part of them.

Pip, which has saved their lives.

“It looks amazing, hyung,” Jimin says quietly, and Yoongi looks up at him, as though he’s only now noticed Jimin is here.

He glances back at the inked flower, and nods. “Yeah, didn’t turn out too bad.”

Perfect. It’s perfect.

Jimin reaches over the table, gives Yoongi ample time to pull back, to say no if he wants to - but when Yoongi doesn’t, Jimin skims his fingers over the tattoo. It doesn’t shy away; just feels cold, like Yoongi’s energy, and Jimin traces the curves of the vine with a finger, down, down the inside of Yoongi’s forearm. He feels Yoongi’s skin, and his power, and his beauty; and there’s so much beauty here. So much emotion and art and so much hurt, and now this flower to restore hope.

Jimin brushes his fingertip over one of the closed flowers and it gently opens under his touch, reveals its pretty shape, making him smile. He leans in, and presses his lips to the petals. Moves further up, kisses the flower next to it. Then up, again; dry, slow kisses up to the inside of Yoongi’s elbow, when Yoongi says,

“Jimin-ah.”

It’s a low, breathy tone just for the two of them. When they’re close and intimate like this, and when they want each other.

“Hyung,” Jimin whispers, already out of his chair, meeting Yoongi’s lips. Kissing him, languid and deep, slipping his tongue into Yoongi’s mouth.

Yoongi’s fingers are in his hair, pulling him closer, and Yoongi kisses back like he has nothing else left to give. Like this is it, this kiss and Jimin’s lips and the way they gasp into each other; that’s all there is, and all there will ever be.

And if that were true, Jimin wouldn’t mind it at all.

He climbs into Yoongi’s lap, straddles him on the kitchen chair; craves for more contact, for more of Yoongi’s taste and his body - they’ve been doing this a lot, so much, and Jimin enjoys every second of it; every grind into Yoongi, every hickey Yoongi leaves on his neck.

He’d like more; he’s been thinking about it for a while, but he also doesn’t want to force Yoongi into anything. He’s going to revel in being pressed up against him like this, and let Yoongi guide them at his own pace.

Yoongi slides his hands underneath Jimin’s shirt, rakes his nails up over his back, making Jimin shiver, making him let out a small whine.

“Hyung, hyung,” Jimin says into the kiss, because it feels so good, so fucking good. He wants Yoongi, but he will give him all the time in this world; tell him it’s okay if they don’t do more, he can wait, he can.

Yoongi drags his hands over his sides, to his front, up to his chest, and Jimin feels like he’s on fire.

“Jimin,” Yoongi whispers, kissing down Jimin’s jawline, lapping at his pulse point.

Jimin pants, clutches at Yoongi’s shoulders; Yoongi drives him crazy; Yoongi’s lips and his tongue, there, and his hands - his fingers brushing over Jimin’s nipple, pinching it lightly, making Jimin moan loud and clear in the small kitchen.

“Fuck, you sound so good,” Yoongi murmurs, and finds his lips again. Kisses him long, intense, hot, hot-

Jimin rolls his hips into Yoongi, feels him hard in his sweatpants, is already hard himself; he wants to come, wants to see Yoongi come, too, maybe today, maybe now-

Yoongi pulls the hem of his shirt up, Jimin lifts his arms and Yoongi tugs and-

The door of Yoongi’s apartment opens.

They both freeze, breathing heavily. It’s around the time that Jimin starts remembering - with sobering clarity - that they had made arrangements. A movie night, at the movie theater. With everyone.

Fuck.

Just around the corner, an archway away, there are voices. In one fast motion, Jimin wrestles his shirt back down and leaps off of Yoongi’s lap, stumbling back. He bumps into the table, curses, watches as his water bottle rolls off and thwacks to the floor, and then Namjoon and Jungkook walk into view.

It’s a whole six seconds of awkward; Yoongi and Jimin flushed, disheveled, breathless, probably with visible boners, and Namjoon and Jungkook staring at them, twin expressions of surprise on their faces.

Then Jungkook’s ears turn pink as he averts his gaze, and Namjoon grins.

“Watcha guys been doing?” he asks.

“Nothing,” Jimin and Yoongi say in unison, meaning it was obviously not nothing. Jimin picks up the bottle from the floor, silently thanking heavens for his jeans and how nothing is too obviously outlined in them, while Yoongi crosses his legs, not being so lucky in his sweatpants.

“Uh-huh, we see that.” Namjoon consults the phone in his hand, still smiling. “Can you maybe continue your nothing after we come back? Tae is already waiting for us at the theater.”

“The theater?” Yoongi frowns, his intelligently confused face at odds with his bird’s nest of a hairstyle. Jimin nudges his shoulder. “Oh, the theater! Right. Yes. Today was the movie theater night. With us watching the movie. At the theater. For the movie night.”

Jimin snorts, despite himself, and Yoongi closes his eyes, defeated. “Fuck, sorry, all I keep seeing is Jimin’s abs, okay, give me a moment.”

The rest of them burst out laughing, and Namjoon and Jungkook agree to give the two a moment to cool down, get ready, and meet them outside.

“We’re coming back in if you’re not down in three minutes!” Namjoon shouts from the hallway.

“Hah, as if we can’t do anything in three min-” Jimin shouts back from where he’s attempting to beat his hair into submission, only to be interrupted by Yoongi’s yell from the bedroom,

“Park Jimin!”

And then they’re laughing again.

 


 

At first, Jimin isn’t sure what woke him up. He opens his eyes to Yoongi’s dark bedroom, and for a moment everything is quiet. The blinds are closed, only a thin slice of street lights pouring over their blankets. Jimin’s phone shows that it’s 3:47 am, and both the apartment and the alley outside seem undisturbed.

But then a distressed sound interrupts the silence, from right next to him, and Jimin turns, already propping himself up on an elbow.

“Hyung?”

It’s hard to discern anything in the near total darkness, but he recognizes the little whimpers, the unbidden moans of anguish. Yoongi is lying beside him, facing him, deep asleep and with his face scrunched in a wince. His black, black ink is racing under the short sleeves of his t-shirt, down to his hands and up again, and Jimin knows he’s having another nightmare.

“Hyung,” he says, a little louder; between them, Yoongi’s hand twitches.

“Yoongi, wake up.”

Last time, Jimin had laid a hand on his shoulder and tried to gently shake him awake; Yoongi had accidentally smacked him in the face. So now, Jimin simply takes Yoongi’s hand that’s on top of the blankets, and squeezes.

“Yoongi, wake up. It’s just a dream. Yoongi.”

Yoongi lets out a barely audible word, a shudder ripping through him - it’s bad, tonight is bad.

“Hyung, please.” Jimin shakes his hand lightly now, wanting to reach out, to touch his face, but not daring to. “Hyung!”

At the sound of the raised voice, Yoongi’s eyes shoot open. For a panicked second, they stare at each other, before Yoongi - breathless, sweaty, terrified Yoongi - yanks his hand out of Jimin’s grasp and tumbles out of bed.

“Yoongi-yah!” Jimin calls after him, but Yoongi darts towards the bathroom, shoves the door open so hard it slams into the wall tiles, and drops to his knees in front of the toilet, retching his guts out.

Jimin sits in Yoongi’s bed - their bed, now more than anything - his pulse racing. The sounds of Yoongi throwing up make his own stomach roil, but he breathes, inhales through his nose and exhales through his mouth, willing himself to calm down.

Then he throws his blankets off and climbs out of bed, padding out of the bedroom. He takes a detour and turns on the light in the living room, so that it spills out into the hallway and the bathroom without being too aggressive; still with plenty of shadows to seek solace in.

Jimin stops in the doorway just as one last horrific spasm surges through Yoongi’s slender frame, and he finally empties his stomach.

“Ugh,” Yoongi groans, the sound amplified in the ceramic of the toilet.

His breathing is still ragged, his head hanging low, partially resting on his arm on the edge of the bowl. He’s exhausted; the past few nights have been particularly rough, and Jimin wishes for nothing more than to scoop him up, carry him back to bed and lull him to a safe, dreamless sleep so Yoongi could finally catch a break.

Since that is out of the realm of possibility, instead Jimin does what he can.

He takes the plastic cup sitting on the sink and fills it up with water from the tap, handing it to Yoongi without a word. Yoongi rinses his mouth with a few sips as Jimin adds toothpaste to Yoongi’s toothbrush and then exchanges it for the empty cup.

Yoongi brushes his teeth in silence, still slumped on the floor. Jimin knows he needs that; needs the space, this quiet kind of being taken care of. More often than not, he doesn’t want to talk about it, but the contents of his nightmares never really change - sometimes it’s about killing hoseok; sometimes it’s about killing him, Jimin. Sometimes Yoongi says who it was. Often, he doesn’t.

It’s not every night. Compared to before, when he didn’t sleep almost at all, now Yoongi can even go a couple of weeks without waking up in cold sweat.

But then it gets bad again, for a short while, for one night or two - or four, in this case - and they weather through it. It’s nothing they can’t handle; nothing compared to what they’ve already been through.

Jimin crouches next to Yoongi and offers him another cup of water to wash the toothpaste out; watches him, his damp bangs and his oversized shirt and dumb, cute, Kumamon-patterned boxers; is impossibly endeared by him, here, now, always.

“Okay?” Jimin whispers, and Yoongi nods, returning the toothbrush and the cup to the sink without getting up. “Touch?” Jimin asks, because he certainly wants it, but Yoongi shakes his head. He shies away, makes himself small, as though Jimin will go for it anyway, and Jimin feels it like a cut through his heart, just a little bit.

Because he would never do anything to make Yoongi uncomfortable. He wants to touch, badly; wants to brush away the dark strands from Yoongi’s face, caress his cheek and kiss his temple and tell him again that it’s okay. It happens, it will keep happening, maybe will never stop, but it’s alright.

But Jimin would never do anything Yoongi doesn’t want to.

“Okay,” he says, and smiles as much as he can. “Need anything else?”

“No,” Yoongi mumbles, eyes downcast, shoulders hunched; long fingers picking at the thread in the hem of his sleep shirt.

It’s one of the many reasons Jimin has such an urge for physical affection - the way Yoongi blames himself for this. For not letting Jimin sleep, for still not being completely fine despite everything, for having done what he had done to Jimin, to Hoseok. All of it is especially raw, especially close to the bone in the early hours after a nightmare.

“Hey,” Jimin says, his smile widening when Yoongi looks up at him, after a moment of hesitation. “You’re pretty.”

It’s not a lie - Yoongi is always pretty, even when he’s trying not to be by pulling all sorts of faces - but Jimin says it for another reason; to see how Yoongi gets taken aback by it, eyes widening in that adorable way, and to see how he snorts a little, looking away again.

To ease the tension.

But then what little amusement is on Yoongi’s lips fades away, and he is pensive for a bit, before he mutters, “It was you.”

Jimin doesn’t ask what that means; it was him that Yoongi killed in his nightmare tonight.

He sits down on the cold tiles, crossing his legs. “I’m sorry, hyung.”

Yoongi nods, not looking at him. He plays with the hem of his shirt again, and Jimin lets him; lets him process and think this through and formulate what he wants to say. If he wants to say anything.

“These past two months have been so…” Yoongi starts, then smiles ruefully. “Like someone else’s life. Like I fell into someone else’s body and this is their life and their friends and they have you in their bed and- and I haven’t earned any of it.”

Jimin opens his mouth to protest, but Yoongi raises a hand to stop him.

“I know,” he says. “I know that’s not real. I mean, my feelings are real, but they’re not- I know they’re not very logical. And it’s only sometimes, it’s not always. Most of the time, I’m just really fucking grateful, you know?”

Jimin smiles a little, nods, because he understands. Yoongi is smart, introspective, constantly working on himself. Constantly dealing with his demons, sometimes doing better and sometimes not so much, but always moving forward. Little by little. It’s far from a walk in the park, but he’s trying, and he’s doing so well; so, so well that Jimin can’t even begin to explain how proud of Yoongi he is.

“I just…” Yoongi shrugs, gaze on his fingers in his lap. “I keep expecting you to give up, or to leave or… I dunno. To get enough of this.”

“This?” Jimin asks, and Yoongi gestures around them, at the fact that they’re sitting on the bathroom floor at 4 am on a Tuesday night.

“I know I’m not the easiest person to be around,” Yoongi says, meaning his moods, his nightmares, his homicidal energy and his still-present guilt.

And Jimin disagrees, on so many levels. Yoongi is reserved, and snarky, and gets distant and hard to figure out; but he’s also kind, and gentle, with a big, fragile heart that he holds in his palms; that he offers to those close to him, trusting them to treat it tenderly, even though it’s almost completely in tatters.

Jimin swallows, blinking away his emotions. He has a lot of those for Yoongi, more and more with each passing day. It’s not a like, not even an in love anymore; it’s love, love, all of this is his love for Yoongi.

“No offense, hyung,” he says, his voice just on this side of steady. “But… Your energy almost killed me.” Yoongi clenches his jaw at hearing it so directly, but Jimin pushes on, “Literally, if it wasn’t for my plants, for my own energy, I would’ve been dead. Gone. At the same time, you nearly died, too. I spent a week at your bedside, praying to whatever is up there that you wake up. I thought… I thought I’d never get to talk to you again.” Yoongi is quiet, listening as Jimin bluntly recounts the painful truths of their relationship.

Jimin pauses, takes in a deep breath and then speaks more softly,

“This?” he asks with a small smile. “Helping you brush your teeth? Having a chat in the middle of the night? This is child’s play.”

And he means it. This is nothing he can’t handle, nothing he doesn’t want to keep handling in the future. Yoongi is working on it; they’re both working on it, and that’s all that matters to him.

Yoongi is surprised, either at how candidly Jimin had laid it all out for him, or how it does makes sense; how it puts things in perspective. Or both.

Jimin smiles wider. “Unless you tell me you don’t want me anymore - and really not want me, not out of some misguided guilt or self-sacrifice or whatever - I’m not going anywhere.” He shrugs, because it’s fact. “You’re just not getting rid of me that easily, hyung.”

Yoongi stares at him, like he can’t believe it. Like after all these weeks of spending almost every free minute of their time together, he still can’t grasp how Jimin is so sure of his words. So sure of them.

Then he snorts. “You’re really…” Yoongi shakes his head and trails off, when Jimin offers,

“Something else? Something special? Irresistible? Cute? Amazing?” He laughs, and almost misses when Yoongi says,

“Yes.”

And then, as it happens all the time, Jimin wants to kiss him. Wants to crawl over to Yoongi and kiss his pouty lips and his round cheek and breathe him in and curl up in his lap-

“Touch?” he asks again, with a tone that belies just how much he wants it; how much he yearns for it.

Now Yoongi nods, and Jimin wastes no time in moving over to him. He kneels in the space between Yoongi’s legs, wraps his arms around him, pulls him close. Jimin closes his eyes and nuzzles into Yoongi’s hair, letting out a hum - his shampoo smells like lemon, and his hair is soft, and Yoongi embraces him in return, presses his forehead into Jimin’s shoulder.

It’s ridiculous, how safe Jimin feels like this. When he holds Yoongi, cuddles with him, how warm and tender he is… Yoongi makes him sensitive all over, like a bruised petal, a leaf tittering in the slightest breeze.

He cards his fingers through Yoongi’s hair, scratches at his nape, and Yoongi makes a drawn out, satisfied sound that Jimin is tempted to interpret as a purr. He smiles, giving Yoongi a kiss to his head, a nibble on his ear.

I love you, Jimin thinks. So fucking much.

“I was thinking,” Yoongi murmurs after a while. His breath is hot through Jimin’s shirt, and he doesn’t move. Traces lazy patterns over the small of Jimin’s back with his hand. “I think… I want to ask Hobi to meet with me.”

Jimin’s smile is wide as he tightens his hug only a little, trying hard not to overwhelm Yoongi with how pleased this makes him. Baby steps, leading to this. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. We’ve been texting, and… And it’s been good. Feels good. But I have some things to say to him which I can’t really say over the phone, so. I think… I’d like to see him.”

Jimin pulls away a little, settles down on his heels, but doesn’t remove his arms; doesn’t stop scratching at the ends of Yoongi’s unruly hair. “I think that’s a good idea,” he says, looking into Yoongi’s eyes. Dark in the poorly lit bathroom, gentle, cat-like and beautiful, god, it’s not possible to think that every time Jimin lays eyes on him, and yet here he is. “If you feel like you’re up for it. What kind of things do you want to say?”

Yoongi shrugs, now fiddling with the folds of Jimin’s shirt instead of his own. “To apologize. For… I don’t know. For everything. To talk about what happened. To say I’d like to be friends again, if… If he’s not mad at me. Or scared of me. If he wants to.”

Jimin leans in and ghosts his lips over Yoongi’s cheekbone; feels more than hears how Yoongi sighs, relaxing into it.

“He was my best friend,” he whispers.

“I know,” Jimin says into his skin.

“I miss him.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know… If he’ll forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive.” Jimin places a kiss to Yoongi’s cheekbone, a slow press of his lips. “From what you’ve told me about him, Hoseok-ssi sounds like a kind person. He will understand.”

Yoongi doesn’t reply before he bows his head, buries his face in the crook of Jimin’s neck, leaving a small kiss of his own there. “Thank you,” he says so quietly, Jimin almost questions if he’d heard it at all.

“Hm? For what?”

Yoongi shrugs again. He brings his arms around Jimin, holds him close, kisses his neck more; leaves a trail of tiny, butterfly kisses up to his jaw, to his temple.

Jimin giggles, though he knows what Yoongi means. Thank you. For everything.

“Come on, hyung,” he says, feeling too light and too emotional, and too damn happy. “Let’s go back to bed.” He doesn’t want to break this, but it is after 4 am, and he has work tomorrow. And they’ll catch a cold, or worse, from the tiled floor.

Yoongi gets up with one hand on the wall, Jimin hovering beside him in case he loses his balance, and they make their way back towards the bed. Crawl under the blankets together, right back into each other’s arms, where they belong. Where Jimin plays with Yoongi’s hair, and scratches his back until they both drift off to sleep.

 


 

Just when Jimin steps over Yoongi’s threshold, he gets a message from Taehyung.

Tae!Tae!
theme park
roller coasters 

Jimin laughs, pulling his beanie off his head, then untying his boots and calling out, “It’s me!” as he types out a reply with one hand.

*** JIMINIE ***
stop that

He temporarily deposits his phone on a side table as he unpeels layer by layer of scarf and jacket, toes off the boots, makes a small brrrr sound as he gets used to the warmth of Yoongi’s apartment. It took him exactly 24 seconds to cross the alley from his building, but his cheeks and nose are already tingling from the chill.

“Hyung?”

There’s no reply. This time there are also no signs of cooking, or life of any kind, so Yoongi is probably taking a nap, as he’s known to do. Jimin switches on the lights, stops by the kitchen to say hello to Pip, to pat its flowers, and to fill up the water kettle for tea.

Tae!Tae
loona concert

*** JIMINIE ***
taehyung.
it defeats the purpose
if you’re the one suggesting bday presents for urself

Jimin turns on the kettle and heads for the bedroom.

However, instead of finding Yoongi in his usual blanket burrito state, with only his disheveled hair poking out - a perfect target for Jimin to pounce on and snuggle into - Jimin stops in the doorway because Yoongi is sitting at his desk.

His laptop is open in front of him, the only source of light in the dark bedroom, and he’s hunched over the screen like a tiny goblin creature, wearing a pair of large headphones. Not noticing Jimin, even though the desk is right by the door.

“Hyung?”

When it becomes obvious that Yoongi doesn’t even hear that, Jimin feels for the light switch on the wall and flips it.

Yoongi jumps, startled, banging his knee on the underside of the desk. He winces, curses, his headphones falling to catching around his neck; there’s a weird moment where Yoongi rubs his knee, squints to hurriedly press a few buttons on the keyboard - the faint music from his headphones dies out - and finally attempts to assume a pose of nonchalance.

“Jimin-ah! Hi! Hey.” He leans an elbow on the desk, but then changes his mind and straightens back up. “Didn’t hear you come in. Um. Hi.” He looks like he has no idea where to put his arms, until he finally takes the headphones from around his neck and sets them down by the laptop. “I thought you had dance practice today?”

Jimin can’t suppress a laugh, because what is this.

“Cancelled because most of the class is down with the flu, including the instructors,” he says. “Were you watching porn just now?”

“What?” Yoongi glances up, then quickly focuses back on the headphones, scratching at their plastic with a thumbnail. “No. I wasn’t-” He shakes his head. “No. That’s not… No.”

By the way his mouth is pinched tight, Jimin realizes this isn’t a joke. He stops laughing, suddenly having a feeling that this is something that genuinely puts Yoongi on edge; that makes him nervous, avoiding eye contact, and almost… unsure.

“Hyung,” Jimin says softly, but Yoongi doesn’t look at him. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Yoongi says, not seeming fine at all.

“You don’t- You don’t have to tell me what you’re doing,” Jimin says, because it’s true. It’s not really that important, what Yoongi does on his computer when he’s alone. “I was just messing with you.”

Yoongi nods, glances at him, and finally releases the damned headphones. “Thanks,” he mutters.

Jimin returns the nod. “Would you like some tea?”

“If it’s the type that’s made out of coffee beans, then yes, sure,” Yoongi remarks and Jimin smiles a little again. Sarcasm means the tension is ebbing away.

“It’s almost 8 pm.”

“So?”

“So, you really don’t need anymore caffeine at this hour.”

“We’ll stay up and watch The Great British Bake Off?”

Motherfucker. That’s rapidly becoming Jimin’s favorite show, but he still hasn’t seen all the seasons, even though last weekend they stayed up until 3 am binging it. Yoongi isn’t pulling any punches here.

Jimin grumbles, “Fine. One, small cup of coffee.”

Yoongi smiles smugly, and Jimin sticks out his tongue at him before he turns to prepare their hot drinks. He checks his phone and finds that Taehyung left a number of new suggestions regarding his birthday present for the end of the month.

Tae!Tae!
a magic show
stargazing
jeju island
naked jungkook jumping out of a cake
though idk if that’ll be comfortable for him
not sure how people breathe in those cakes
are those real cakes?
or just cardboard?
screw it just get me a can of whip cream and I’ll decorate him myself

*** JIMINIE ***
hah
stop ruining the fun
we have a thing in mind
it’ll be good
we promise
from now on any suggestion you make can never be used as your bday present in the future

Tae!Tae!
damn

Jimin fills a mug with hot water, dips a tea bag in it, then goes about replacing the filter in the coffee machine. He’s trying to focus on his and Taehyung’s texts; trying to make sure that Taehyung doesn’t self-combust from how excited he is about his birthday. There’s still more than two weeks until then. 

Jimin is not thinking about Yoongi back in the bedroom. He’s really not.

Okay, maybe a little. He’s thinking about it a little.

It’s just that he worries. He’s with Yoongi practically every day, through the good and the bad, and his heart is all about Yoongi and his entire being is all about Yoongi at this point; when Yoongi is upset, Jimin can’t help but wonder.

But Yoongi doesn’t want to talk about it, and Jimin will give him space. When Yoongi is ready, whenever that happens to be, he’ll share. It’s always like that.

Jimin takes comfort from Pip, from how the little (long, luscious, rich with blue flowers) plant hasn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary; anything that might suggest Yoongi is worse than usual.

The tea is done, but Jimin first takes the half-filled mug of coffee to Yoongi.

The headphones are still on the desk, Yoongi not even touching his laptop as Jimin makes to quietly set the mug down and leave until Yoongi is ready to socialize.

But Yoongi stops him. He doesn’t say a word, just motions for Jimin to come in, to stand beside him. To look at the laptop screen.

“Hyung-” Still holding the mug, Jimin wants to reiterate how it doesn’t matter; it’s okay, he doesn’t have to explain-

“Just,” Yoongi interrupts him, gaze somewhere to the side. “Please?”

Jimin sighs, but relents. He leans in, tries to make sense of what’s on the screen.

It’s not a program, or a website, or pictures or text or anything, really. It’s just an open folder, with several files listed.

Several audio files.

Jimin frowns. “Are these… recordings?”

Yoongi grunts in a way that could be a yes, or it could just as easily be a no.

Audio files, audio files, audio-

“Oh,” Jimin breathes out when he gets it.

Recordings. Songs.

Songs, songs, Yoongi’s songs- They’re new; the dates are recent; they’re songs, Yoongi has been writing recently, he has been writing new music-

“You’re writing songs,” Jimin whispers. Vaguely, he’s aware of how Yoongi’s hand rests on the back of his thigh, slowly strokes there. Much more intensely, Jimin is aware that he’s not going to be able to remain standing much longer. “You’re…” he trails off, because now he’s looking beyond just the files.

He’s looking at the titles.

runs a hand through his hair

plush lips

short pinky finger

fucking splits

beautiful voice, his voice

It’s Jimin. It’s about Jimin, all of these titles are about Jimin-

“It’s-” Jimin’s hand with the mug shakes, and he gingerly puts it down on the desk to not spill scalding coffee all over. “You-”

There’s something wrong with his brain, or his mouth, or whatever it is that forms sentences. Jimin closes his eyes because he can’t keep looking at this. He can’t, he can’t, can’t process, can’t fathom-

Yoongi wrote songs about him; Yoongi wrote songs about him; Yoongi wrote songs about him-

“They’re not… really songs,” Yoongi says quietly, still caressing the back of Jimin’s thigh; long, soothing scratches over the denim, the only thing Jimin can focus on at the moment. “They’re like… beats. Melodies. Most of them don’t have lyrics. Just… ideas that I had, here and there.”

Ideas, ideas, Yoongi had song ideas and they’re about Jimin and they carry titles with clear connections to Jimin; Yoongi has been writing songs, when he’s by himself and when Jimin is at work, he has been writing music again, he has been-

Jimin lets out a whimper, a tiny sound which precedes a sob, and immediately covers his mouth with his hand. Tears escape the corners of his eyes, fuck, this is not something he ever expected, ever could have dreamed of-

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi whispers. He leans forward and rests his forehead against Jimin’s side.

“You-” Jimin fights hard to keep it contained, to not become a mess of a person; but he’s already a mess of a person, he’s crying because- “You wrote songs about me.”

Yoongi hums.

“Who else would I write songs about?”

It sounds so simple, when he says it. Like he had no qualms about it; like it was a completely normal choice - or maybe not even a choice at all, maybe a natural occurrence - that he would write songs about Jimin.

“Fuck, fuck, Yoongi, you…” Jimin doesn’t finish, not knowing what he’d finish it with. He can’t possibly feel all of this for one person; can’t possibly love more than he already does. “Yoongi…!”

Jimin throws himself into Yoongi’s lap with more force than necessary; the office chair rolls away with both of them in it - Jimin is already kissing Yoongi, leaving tear stains all over his face, when the chair bumps against the wall and stays there.

“You’re amazing- You’re amazing- You’re working so hard,” Jimin manages between kisses. His hands are cupping Yoongi’s face and he’s pressing his lips anywhere he can reach - Yoongi’s cheeks, his nose, his mouth, his chin. “I can’t believe- you did this- can’t believe you- made this- for me. You wrote songs- Yoongi- Yoongi-”

Yoongi just lets out a laugh that is part relieved, part strained, part really fucking happy, and lets Jimin kiss him. He kisses back as much as he can, wraps his fingers around Jimin’s wrists and steadies him, allows him to take out his love on Yoongi.

Until Jimin is breathless and his sobs grow quieter; he’s leaning his forehead on Yoongi’s, his face wet, and Yoongi’s face wet and flushed under Jimin’s fingertips.

“You are so strong, hyung,” Jimin whispers, then hiccups. “You are so strong, and you are working so hard, and I am so. proud of you. So proud. And I am so… in love with you, Yoongi.”

He closes his eyes, cherishing Yoongi’s warmth and what they have. He’s dimly aware that this is probably the first time he’s said anything close to love in front of Yoongi. He’s felt it for a good while now, been sure of it more and more, but this is the first time he’s actually said it.

“In love with me?” Yoongi asks, voice thin.

“Mhm.” Jimin nods, as much as him leaning into Yoongi allows him. “I am very much in love with you.”

When Yoongi doesn’t say anything, his hands unmoving on Jimin’s hips, Jimin opens his eyes. He pulls away a little - Yoongi is looking at him, unreadable, like he’s trying to figure something out, and it makes Jimin ask, “Is that okay?”

“Yes,” Yoongi whispers without hesitation. “That’s more than okay. That’s…”

Instead of finishing the sentence, Yoongi kisses him. Captures Jimin’s lips, makes it hard and intense and with his hand tugging at Jimin’s hair and Jimin losing his breath-

Yoongi kisses him with so much force that Jimin’s whole body reacts; arches into Yoongi, responds to him at once, wants him.

“Did you- Did you lock the door?” Yoongi asks through the kiss, making Jimin smile hazily.

“Yes- I did.”

Then Yoongi moves to get up and Jimin scrambles off of him. They walk back to the bed without breaking the kiss, with Yoongi’s hands under Jimin’s sweater, over his hip bones, holding and gripping ; with Jimin pulling Yoongi along until the backs of his knees hit the mattress and he’s falling back with Yoongi on top of him.

A giggle spills from Jimin’s lips from the way they bounce once before sinking into the bedding and Yoongi smiles, kissing him again; settling between Jimin’s legs, warm and heavy.

“Yoongi…” Jimin whispers, licking at Yoongi’s lip, teasing him, just the way he knows Yoongi likes.

It’s only a moment of pause in which they sit up for Yoongi to pull Jimin’s sweater up and over his head before they lie back down. Or, Jimin lies back down and Yoongi remains propped on one arm, staring. Staring at Jimin’s bare chest, at his stomach; if Jimin didn’t know better he’d say that Yoongi was… admiring.

“Hyung?”

“One sec,” Yoongi says, bringing to mind the scene when he’d found Jimin in his side split.

“Processing?” Jimin asks, unable to keep the amusement out of his voice.

Yoongi nods absently. He’s not blushing this time - his cheeks are already dusted pink from their make-out, his lips red and parted… “You’re kind of a lot to take in at once, you know,” he murmurs.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” He’s careful; Yoongi is so careful when he wraps his free hand around Jimin’s waist, spreads his cold fingers over Jimin’s skin, making him lightly shiver. “You’re kind of…”

His hand slides up, from Jimin’s waist to his chest, thumb ghosting over a nipple. Jimin doesn’t hold back a moan, a quiet, lingering sound that fills the room. “...perfect,” Yoongi finishes.

Jimin disagrees, but it feels so good to hear Yoongi say that, to be naked and exposed and still appreciated. He rolls his hips up slowly, into Yoongi’s, and feels that friction, that tantalizing pressure that he wants so badly.

He knows that Yoongi feels it too because in the next moment Yoongi looks into his eyes, just as Jimin rolls his hips up again. “Jimin-ah,” Yoongi breathes, meeting his movements, pushing down, grinding. Jimin is hot all over, from this eye contact and Yoongi’s voice, low and rough, and he tugs at Yoongi’s shirt to get it off, too - skin on skin, he wants Yoongi in his arms, against him, no clothes, no stupid shirts-

Yoongi complies at once. He discards his shirt to the floor, and Jimin finally sees him bare for the first time; his shoulders that are broader than Jimin would’ve thought, and his pale, pale skin; his black ink reaching up over his shoulders, but not over his chest. It breathes now, as Jimin watches it; as he drags his fingers over the cold tattoos, up Yoongi’s arm, over the image of Pip’s flowers, the flames, the piano keys…

“Tell me,” Yoongi says, tilting his hips down again; Jimin sucks in a shuddering breath, grips Yoongi’s shoulder at that delicious heat. “Tell me what you want, Jimin.” He leans in to leave a dry trail of kisses down Jimin’s jawline to his neck.

Everything, everything - Jimin wants it all; wants even less clothes and more of this. He’s hard and he wraps his arms around Yoongi and he needs this; the way Yoongi rubs against him, the way he looks like this, dark hair tousled and lips swollen and body between Jimin’s legs. He wants to do this with Yoongi, wants-

“Touch me,” Jimin says, closing his eyes at how Yoongi nibbles at the thin skin above his collarbone, sucks on it and then soothes the spot with his tongue. “ Ah- Yoongi… I want you to touch me.”

“Yes,” Yoongi says into his skin, rocks into him for emphasis; Jimin spreads his legs wider, hard, hard, he’s so hard, he wants out of his jeans, now. “Yes.”

Then Yoongi kisses Jimin on the lips again, slips his tongue between them, takes and takes and makes it sloppy and biting and Jimin leans up into him, eager. They’re grinding for real now and it almost hurts, from how wound up he is. How constricting his zipper feels, how he can’t take it much longer, will do it himself if Yoongi doesn’t-

Still kissing him, Yoongi sneaks a hand between them, starts undoing Jimin’s belt with one hand. The buckle clinks, Yoongi reaches for the button next - and then Jimin catches his wrist, stopping him.

His breathing is hot and shallow, his brain foggy, but Jimin forces himself to pull away a bit; to look into Yoongi’s questioning eyes, at his slick, red lips…

“I’ve never… um,” Jimin hesitates. Still turned on and still very much into this, but needing to put a disclaimer out there. Just in case this turns out to be awkward, or bad, or if maybe Jimin somehow screws it up. “I want this, a lot, but I’ve never… with anyone. Before.”

“Oh.” Yoongi considers this, thumb gently caressing over the skin above Jimin’s waistband. Then he smiles - a soft, small smile that makes something in Jimin’s chest unclench. “We’ll go slow. If at any point, for whatever reason, you want me to stop, just tell me, okay?”

“Okay.”

Yoongi kisses him again, a press of the lips, a play of his tongue, while he undoes Jimin’s jeans at the same time.

The moment Yoongi’s fingers graze over his clothed erection, Jimin gasps - fuck, fuck, it’s- He’s touching him, Yoongi is touching him, Jimin is already too worked up-

“Okay?” Yoongi asks, even though he shouldn’t. Jimin will stop him if he’s uncomfortable, he will, and he nods to confirm this, a little frantically.

“Yes, okay.”

Yoongi deepens the kiss, palms him and touches him over his boxers; it’s hot, hot, it’s Yoongi’s hand pressing down on the outline of his dick, it’s- “Yoongi,” Jimin all but whines, his muscles tight in anticipation. Too good, not enough, too much-

“Help me take off your jeans?” Yoongi asks and Jimin can only nod, half out of his mind. He lifts his hips off the bed as Yoongi pulls his jeans down - with some effort, not missing a chance to mutter holy shit are these vacuum sealed why are they so tight, at which Jimin laughs breathlessly - and throws them in a forgotten corner of the bedroom.

The laughter fades, however, the moment Yoongi says, “I’m… gonna need another moment.”

Jimin blinks at him, confused, and finds Yoongi climbing back over him and reaching, dragging a palm up Jimin’s bare thigh, to his underwear, then to the inside; feeling, like he’s trying to commit the shape of Jimin’s muscles to memory.

“Oh,” Jimin breathes, instantly reacting to the touch.

“Thighs of a god,” Yoongi murmurs, as though to himself, and Jimin wishes he wouldn’t make him laugh when he’s horny like this. Or maybe no, that’s precisely what helps Jimin relax, makes this moment their own.

Now Yoongi’s other hand is on Jimin’s other thigh, stroking gently, down to his knee and up again. “I want to kiss you here,” Yoongi says, pressing a thumb to the inside of Jimin’s left thigh, above the knee. “And here,” a little further up on his right, “and especially here,” he runs his fingers under the edge of Jimin’s boxers on the left again, and Jimin can only whisper,

“Yes, please.”

He props himself up on his elbows and watches Yoongi smirk, then lean down, and Jimin did not expect such a visceral reaction to seeing Yoongi with his head between his legs. Jimin holds his breath, hands fisting into the sheets as Yoongi brushes his lips over the inside of his left thigh. He licks the spot, only with the tip of his tongue, then more, flattening it against the skin, and the sensation goes right to Jimin’s dick.

He moans - doesn’t really mean to, but Yoongi moves up, closer, and bites down gently. Jimin’s legs flex as he lets out a, “ffffffuck.

Yoongi hums, then says, “Pretty sure your legs can crush a watermelon or something ridiculous like that, and because my skull is way more delicate than a watermelon, just be careful not to-”

His words get swallowed by another one of Jimin’s laughs. He had no idea getting naked with someone was this fun; this fun and hot and intimate in an entirely different way they’ve been intimate so far.

Jimin’s head falls back, and his laugh transforms into another moan, long and drawn out, as Yoongi sucks on the sensitive skin of his thigh, hard, intending to leave a mark; Yoongi wants to leave a hickey on the inside of his thigh, fuck, fuck-

Yoongi’s lips are on his dick then; mouthing at the cotton of his underwear, leaving wet spots-

“Ah, ah, hyung…!” Jimin looks up, stares, can’t stop staring at how Yoongi’s lips wrap around the shape of his cock, oh god, Jimin won’t survive this- Every nerve in his body sings, every thought fixated on what he’s looking at.

“I want to touch you for real,” Yoongi says, nosing above Jimin’s waistband, causing a shiver to surge through him. “I want to touch you for real and I want to grind against you, and I want us to come like that.”

Hearing Yoongi detail everything he wants to do in bed with him right before he does it is what Jimin didn’t even know he needed in his life. Yoongi looks at him from under his lashes, at level with his dick, and Jimin’s mouth goes dry. He nods, keeps nodding, because yes, yes, that’s what Jimin wants, too. So much, so fucking much.

“Yes?” Yoongi asks.

“Yes,” Jimin says, but it comes out more as a breath than a word.

Yoongi kisses the skin right above Jimin’s boxers. A little more to the left, another kiss near the hipbone. Then on the jut of the bone, and Yoongi’s fingers slowly come up, slide under the waistband. Jimin tenses, Yoongi pulls down his underwear, and then Jimin is fully naked.

He doesn’t feel as awkward about it as he thought he would. He feels safe, and cherished, and admired, if Yoongi’s gentle, awed look is anything to go by.

Then Yoongi gets to his feet, straightens up and in a quick, perfunctory motion, he takes off both his sweatpants and his underwear. He’s hard, too, and his waist is so narrow, his legs pale and thin - my twig man, Jimin thinks with a rush of fondness. He sits up, reaches for Yoongi, and Yoongi steps closer, between his knees.

“Yoongi-yah,” Jimin whispers, letting his fingers roam. He nuzzles into Yoongi’s chest, his fingertips brushing over Yoongi’s back, down, down, over the curve of Yoongi’s ass, his skin soft and a touch cold - Yoongi shivers in his arms. He smells so clean, so like himself.

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi whispers back, looking down at him. He’s got that gaze, the one that’s too deep, too vulnerable; Jimin touches him, is still caressing up to his shoulder blades and down to his ass, slowly, in a way that Yoongi deserves.

“You’re in love with me,” Yoongi says.

He sounds like he wants to confirm this; like he’s not entirely sure how or why it happened, or if it’s really true.

Jimin smiles up at him, his chin resting in the middle of Yoongi’s chest. “Yes. I’m in love with you.”

Yoongi only hums in reply. He leans down, kisses Jimin, tongue and heat and his fingers in Jimin’s hair. They’re naked, and kissing, and Jimin is all need at this point, all craving for Yoongi’s touch and more of Yoongi’s lips and anything Yoongi will give him.

“We’re gonna need-” Yoongi says. “Wait-” He doesn’t pull away completely, but opens the drawer in his nightstand; fishes out a bottle of lube. “Okay?” he asks, throwing it on the sheets beside Jimin.

“Okay,” Jimin says, once again. Yoongi needs this affirmation more than he does, it seems, and Jimin is more than happy to provide it.

He lies back down, drags a pillow under his head, and watches Yoongi climb over him again. Yoongi fiddles with the lube for a moment, uncaps it and dabs only a bit on his hand, and then he slides a hand between them and touches Jimin.

“Oh,” Jimin lets out, because oh, Yoongi’s hand is wrapped around his dick, oh- fuck, fuck- He grasps at Yoongi’s shoulders, feels his cold ink, and looks down. Wow, yes, Yoongi’s hand is definitely around him - it’s all Jimin can do not to come on the spot.

“Too much?” Yoongi asks, easing up the grip a little. He’s not doing anything, just keeping his hand there as Jimin struggles not to thrust into that fist. “Want me to stop?”

Jimin shakes his head, shuts his eyes. “No, no, don’t stop, don’t- I-”

“It’s okay,” Yoongi whispers, caring, calming. He kisses the corner of Jimin’s mouth, his cheek, the line of his jaw, whispers into his ear, “It’s okay, baby, I got you. You’re okay.”

Baby, baby, baby-

“Hyung…”

“It’s okay, Jimin-ah. Hey. Look at me.”

Jimin does. He opens his eyes, breathless, his legs around Yoongi and feeling him everywhere - Feeling Yoongi’s hand with just the right amount of pressure, Yoongi’s skin on his skin, and loving him, loving him so much. Trembling; Jimin is so tight all over that he’s trembling a little.

Yoongi smiles, dazed.

“You’re so beautiful, Jimin-ah,” he whispers. “You’re so beautiful and I want to make you feel so good.”

As he speaks, Yoongi moves his hand, strokes slowly, and Jimin’s mouth falls open on a moan.

“That’s it,” Yoongi encourages, watching him. Being so shameless about it, drinking in Jimin’s expression, his noises, the way his body responds to the motions of his hand. “Want to hear you.” He keeps that slow, maddening pace - so slick, so good, so good - and ghosts his lips over Jimin’s. “I like how you sound. Like how you look, like this. So beautiful for me.”

Jimin whines, his hips meeting each downstroke of Yoongi’s hand - he’s never been this hard in his life, never thought he’d feel this amazing, never, ever - he’s near incoherent, his muscles tense. He wants Yoongi to jerk him off until he comes; feels like he could do it from Yoongi’s words alone.

“Yoongi…” Jimin gasps, now licking into his mouth. Kissing Yoongi, because he can’t do much else, can only hold on and chase this, all the way to that sweet, sweet release. “Please, more…” he says into the kiss, and Yoongi obliges.

He aligns their cocks together, takes both of them in one hand, and grinds against Jimin. Yoongi moans, a low sound that makes Jimin lose it, because he’s looking right at what Yoongi is doing, because it’s erotic, hot, too hot, and it’s Yoongi moaning in his ear, Yoongi moving, Yoongi-

Yoongi says his name, voice gruff, keeping himself up with one arm and holding them together and Jimin doesn’t waste a second in helping him. He wraps a hand around them, too, feels them both slick and leaking on his stomach, and he thrusts up, because it’s building; this pleasure, this fire, he’s almost there, almost-

“Yoongi, I-” he starts; threads his other hand into Yoongi’s hair, tugs his head low and presses their foreheads together. Their breaths are damp between their lips; Yoongi moans again, grinds faster, jerks them both off at the same time. “I won’t-” Last, Jimin won’t last, he wants this, needs it-

“It’s- okay, baby,” Yoongi says, his hand so tight, right there, Jimin is there- “Come. It’s okay.”

Yoongi kisses him, hard and dirty and Jimin moans into his mouth, kisses back just as passionately.

“Make a mess for me,” Yoongi whispers, and it’s all Jimin hears before he comes.

“Ah- Ah- Yoongi!”

His mind whites out, his hips fucking into Yoongi’s hand as he does make a mess, over his stomach, over Yoongi’s hand, everywhere. It lasts for what feels like too long, his body in spasm, his back arched off the bed, until he finally stops whimpering.

Until he releases a breath and opens his eyes, and sees that Yoongi has let go of him, and is now jerking himself off.

“No, no, let me,” Jimin says, batting his hand away; he takes Yoongi’s dick instead and strokes fast, and Yoongi moans loud, long, beautiful- Jimin nuzzles into him, feels his rigid body against his. “Come on, hyung,” he whispers into Yoongi’s skin, kisses his flushed cheekbone. “It’s your turn. Want to see how you look. Want to hear how you sound when you come. Hyung…”

“Jimin-” is all Yoongi manages before his voice breaks off. Before he stills, comes, his eyes shut and his mouth open, moaning as Jimin pumps him through it, feels him spill hot over his hand, making an even bigger mess on his stomach.

Yoongi shivers, breathes hard, and Jimin presses his lips to his sweaty temple. “Hyung.”

“Jimin-ah, Jimin, Jimin.” It seems to be all Yoongi is capable of murmuring in his post-orgasm haze, looking like he’s not aware of it, like his mind is somewhere else.

Jimin smiles, high and blissful, his limbs like jello, thoughts lazy and swirling without rhyme or reason. “Hi,” he says, and Yoongi snorts.

“Hey.” His smile is wide and precious. “You okay?”

“Mmmmmmmmmyeah.” Jimin’s hand is covered in come, Yoongi’s hand is covered in come, there’s a puddle on Jimin’s stomach that’s rapidly cooling and should be gross, but it’s not, it’s not; it’s him and Yoongi and them still locked together on the bed. “No one’s ever made me come before,” he says.

“Was good?”

“Soooooooo good.” So mind-blowingly good that Jimin wouldn’t mind doing it again, as soon as his body recovers.

“We should get cleaned up,” Yoongi says, but makes no move to get up or otherwise untangle himself, and Jimin laughs.

“I’m not sure I can move just yet,” he says.

Yoongi smiles, nods, then bows his head and rests it on Jimin’s chest. They’re quiet for a moment, savoring this, before Yoongi says,

“Jimin?”

“Mmm?”

“I’m in love with you, too.”

Jimin’s smile is hard to contain, happy, he’s too fucking happy now, his heart soaring as he replies with,

“Yeah, I kinda figured you were."

Yoongi smacks his thigh with his clean hand, and their laughter rings out in the small bedroom, loud and unrestrained and entirely too love-struck.

 


 

Yoongi has no intention of opening SOPE again, or at least not without Hoseok, which Jimin understands. He also understands that Yoongi still wants to keep the shop decent, to dust it off and wipe down the surfaces every now and then, perhaps to get rid of the occasional spider web that takes up a corner or two. 

So that’s what they’re doing, one chilly Saturday afternoon in December; when Jimin doesn’t have work in the flower shop and doesn’t have dance practice, and when Yoongi is taking a break from song writing.

Ever since he’d showed Jimin his recordings, Yoongi has been more comfortable with working in front of him; almost every day - sitting at his laptop with headphones on, scowling at a complicated-looking interface on the screen. He has his notebook beside him, and his keyboard at his feet, which he sometimes brings up to his lap to play, but Jimin doesn’t hear any of it. Doesn’t ask to hear, either. Yoongi will show it to him when he’s ready.

They’ve been cleaning the tattoo shop for about an hour now, and all that’s left is to mop up the tiled floor. Jimin has a feather duster in hand, smoothing away his bangs and squinting up in search of any stray spiders he might have missed. Yoongi is in the small adjoined restroom, scrubbing the toilet, muttering curses and complaining about his knees.

“Didn’t you say you used to go running?” Jimin calls, walking from one side of the shop to the other. “To try and sleep better at night?”

“Why do I have the feeling that this is somehow related to the state of my knees?”

Jimin laughs. He spots a shadow of something that could be a cobweb, high up near the ceiling, and goes to inspect it. “It’s just that it’s a level of physical activity I’m not used to seeing from you. When no one is in grave danger, that is.” Jimin jumps, trying to reach the mote with his duster; misses it. “Usually if you suggest to go down to the good thai place, my mind is like is he okay?

“Har fucking har.”

“You could take up some exercise, you know.” Jimin jumps again, and this time almost gets it. Damn his inconsiderable height. “You’re not getting any younger.”

“My body’s not built for exercise. I have delicate bones.”

The toilet flushes and Yoongi emerges from the restroom, his bangs pinned out of the way with a simple hairpin, his yellow scrubbing gloves on. He’s flushed from the work, and his round face is just too loveable.

“I could exercise with you,” Jimin offers. “Something not so high-impact. Like yoga.”

Yoongi scoffs, taking off his gloves. “I’ve heard that it only looks easy, okay, I know yoga is harder than it seems. Besides,” he adds, dumping the gloves in the cleaning cabinet under the counter and taking in a deep breath, closing his eyes. “If I ever see you in a downward dog or whatever it is, I will definitely have a heart attack and die on the spot.”

Jimin laughs, once again taking a swipe at the cobweb. He gets it, and exclaims a victorious, “HAH!” when he lands.

“Jimin: one, gravity: zero,” Yoongi comments with a smirk, then finally unpins his bangs and ruffles them out. “Hungry?”

“You buying?”

“Yes, I’m buying, and yes, take advantage of it before I change my mind.”

Jimin grins. “Good thai?"

Yoongi glares at him from where he’s bundling up into his huge winter jacket. He has a thick scarf wrapped around his neck and face so that only his eyes are visible. Dark, sharp, gorgeous eyes. “It’s below zero,” he says. “It’s like a 20 minute walk to the good thai place.”

Jimin pouts a little. He tilts his head and blinks with a puppy look, duster in hand and all.

It takes no more than three seconds for Yoong to release a suffering sigh. “Fine, good thai,” he mutters, pulling on his beanie.

“Weak.” Jimin grins again.

“Enamored,” Yoongi corrects, at which Jimin blushes.

“Unfair.”

“It’s a cruel world, Jimin-ah, you have to learn how to play dirty,” Yoongi says, but when Jimin comes closer and uses his free hand to lower the scarf and reveal Yoongi’s lips, he’s smiling.

“Enamored is a good word,” Jimin says, gazing at those lips. Pink, pouty, kissable. He doesn’t resist, just leans in to taste them, and Yoongi hums, kissing him back.

“Joon used it the other day, describing his feelings for this one poet, I don’t know,” he says when they part a little. “He’s enamored with the poet’s lyrical prowess or some deep shit like that.”

Jimin smiles, and kisses him more. He’ll never get enough of that; never enough of Yoongi’s lips and how Yoongi can kiss slow and languid and soft and also rough and biting, depending on what Jimin himself wants; it makes him tingly and anticipating whenever they kiss.

“And I’m enamored with you,” Jimin murmurs between their lips, and they laugh at the corniness, at the truth of those words.

“Just for that, I might even buy next time, too.”

“Wow, and they say chivalry is dead, “Jimin says, and pulls Yoongi’s beanie over his eyes.

Yoongi grumbles, pulls it up and shoots Jimin another half-hearted glare before he steps out into the cold.

Jimin sighs in content and takes a brief, tiny moment to just be… happy. Calm, and warm and thankful.

Then he shakes off the duster in front of the store, stows it back in the cleaning cabinet. He helps himself with a bucket, fills it with water and floor cleaning liquid, and grabs the mop to take care of the tiles before Yoongi gets back.

He starts in the back, by the restroom, and works his way to the door. It’s quiet because he doesn’t feel like turning on any music; just hums to himself as he swipes the mop across the tiles, dips it in the bucket, wrings it, and repeats.

He’s at the counters, maybe ten minutes in, when out of the corner of his eye he spots movement; a figure, on the other side of the shop window. It’s too early for Yoongi to be back, so Jimin pauses. Watches.

The person squints through the tinted glass of the window, probably not seeing much, and then moves to the door; and Jimin recognizes him.

From the pictures, from Taehyung’s album and an occasional selfie he had sent to Yoongi over the past few weeks.

Jimin sets the mop aside, and his first few steps to the door are hesitant, but he squares his shoulders and comes closer. Gazes at the stranger - the not-so-stranger - through the clear glass, and finally opens the door.

They stare at each other, in the cold winter daylight. Not for long, maybe. Enough for Jimin to notice how tall he is, to pick out his features; the narrow face, the high cheekbones, pink from the cold, the dark bangs underneath the colorful flap-eared hat with two pom poms hanging off each end.

Then Hoseok smiles, and it’s the brightest thing Jimin has ever seen. Instantly disarming, captivating, warm, warm.

“Park Jimin-ssi,” Hoseok says with a head bow.

“Jung Hoseok-ssi.” Jimin returns the bow and the smile with ease. He’s not surprised that Hoseok knows his name, but is surprised that Hoseok is here. He’s nervous, at the edges, because this is the first time he’s seeing Hoseok in person; because he doesn’t know what to expect.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Hoseok says.

“You, too.” Then Jimin remembers his manners, and steps aside to let Hoseok through. “Come in, come in, please.” Hoseok enters, and Jimin closes the door behind him. “We were cleaning, and… Yoongi-hyung just went out for food a few minutes ago. He’ll be back soon. We, uh… He didn’t tell me you were coming.”

“He didn’t know,” Hoseok says. He looks around the shop, slowly, taking everything in - the gallery wall, the counters, the chairs - until his eyes land back on Jimin. He slips off his hat - his hair flaring out every which way - and smiles. “I didn’t know I’d be coming here, either, to be honest. But I was close by and I thought… Why not?”

There’s something else there - trepidation, or anxiety - in his expression, in his gloved hands that play with the hat. Something that makes it clear that this isn’t an easy thing for Hoseok; being here, standing in the shop he used to work in, used to share with his estranged friend.

“Would you like some tea?” Jimin asks, both because it’s polite and because maybe Hoseok would like a moment to himself.

“Yes, please.”

Jimin heads for the kitchenette in the back, and busies himself with the mismatched mugs, the water kettle, the box of apple cinnamon tea.

He debates whether or not to text Yoongi and let him know that Hoseok is here. He’s not sure what Yoongi would do. Isn’t sure how he’d take it; he’d said he wanted to meet with Hoseok, but this is unplanned, unannounced, and Jimin has no idea what to do.

In the end, he takes out his phone as he waits for the water to boil, and types out:

hyung
hoseok-ssi is here
he just came by
I’m making him tea
I’ll be here, yoongi
take your time
<33

It’s the best he can do. Jimin unmutes his phone to hear if Yoongi texts or calls, pours the water over the tea bags, then goes back to the shop area with two steaming cinnamon-scented mugs.

“Wasn’t sure if you wanted honey or sugar or-”

“Nothing, thank you, it’s fine,” Hoseok says, gratefully taking one mug and wrapping his gloved hands around it. He blows on it, and turns to the shop at large again. Gazes at the gallery wall; there must be a significant number of tattoos he’d done himself up there.

SOPE, Jimin reminds himself. Suga and Hope. This is their place.

“It hasn’t changed,” Hoseok says quietly. He’s next to Jimin, both of them leaning back on the counters, mugs in hand; the mop and the cleaning bucket forgotten in the corner of the shop.

“It’s been closed,” Jimin says.

“I know. I… The others told me.”

Jimin hums in lieu of a reply. There’s many things he would actually like to say, to ask, but the majority of them are not his to tell, or his to know.

“I was so surprised, when he texted me,” Hoseok continues. “I didn’t expect it. We’ve been… We’ve been quiet for so long that I didn’t-” He smiles, in a rueful way. “I didn’t think we’d ever speak again.”

“It’s been hard,” Jimin says softly. “For both of you.”

Hoseok shakes his head. “We’ve been so stupid. So… I’ve been so scared. Not- not of hyung- or maybe yes of hyung, in the beginning.” He frowns, sets his mug down on the counter. “I was scared of what happened, and of the ink... But the silence and the distance after that became so much worse. Somehow, they kept getting bigger and bigger and- Now, looking back at it, it’s all so stupid.”

“It’s a coping mechanism,” Jimin says, glancing at him. “The silence and the distance. It seems that it’ll be easier if it’s just… ignored. But it isn’t easier. Or at least it hasn’t been, for him.”

A quiet moment passes, where Jimin takes his and Hoseok’s tea bags and throws them in the trash. He checks his phone, even though it hasn’t made a sound - though Yoongi had read the messages - and returns to his place beside Hoseok. He’s relieved, in a way, that Hoseok is here to talk, to set things right. To at least start setting things right.

It’ll be a long journey, but it has to begin somewhere.

“He talks a lot about you,” Hoseok then says, eyes gleaming over the rim of his mug. “They all do, but hyung especially. He’s really… I’ve never heard him talk about anyone like that before.”

It’s a sentence Jimin has heard before, from Seokjin; back when he and Yoongi were confusing and not speaking and in a weird place. Now though, Jimin smiles, doing his best not to be flustered.

“He, um… He means a lot to me,” he says, his voice only a little higher than usual. “I just… I just want them all to be okay.”

Want you to be okay, too, Jimin doesn’t say, because technically they have only just met; even though they already share some - many - things together. Hoseok is close to Jimin’s friends and they all care about each other, and Jimin doesn’t want him to feel unwelcome, for any reason.

“You’re in love with him,” Hoseok says. It’s not a question, but a gentle sort of observation.

“Yes,” Jimin confirms. “I’m in love with him.”

“Good.” Hoseok’s smile is truly something else; as bright and as comforting as a ray of sunshine. It’s impossible to imagine anyone not getting pulled into his orbit. “He deserves that.”

Jimin finds it hard to swallow, and he averts his eyes, focusing on the floor instead. His feelings for Yoongi are all-encompassing, larger than life, and it’s been a lot; they’ve been through a lot, all of them, and only recently they’ve started coming together.

Seven souls, gravitating towards the same alley, to the same love and the same family. Returning home.

“Should I leave?” Hoseok then asks, and when Jimin looks at him, his gaze is hesitant. “I don’t know if you’ve already told him I was here, but- if it’s maybe not a good idea-”

“No,” Jimin interrupts. “No, it’s- it’s great, that you’re here. It’ll probably be a lot for him to process, but… It’s good. You two need to talk. A while ago, he did say he’d like to meet with you, so… I think this is a perfect opportunity.”

“Oh. Okay,” Hoseok breathes out, though doesn’t look convinced.

“It’ll be fine,” Jimin says, smiling to reassure. “He really misses you. And he wants to make things better, and… He should be back soon, I think. Went to get the good thai, from that place-”

“-by the record store?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, and they’re both smiling now, and it’s easier. Hoseok is such an easy person to be with, even in these strained circumstances.

“We used to eat there a lot, yeah,” Hoseok says. “One time Jungkookie challenged Jin-hyung to a spicy curry eating contest-”

“-no,” Jimin says, because do these stories never end. Haven’t they learned anything from their countless near-death experiences from challenging each other to the weirdest, most arbitrary competitions?

“Yes,” Hoseok says. “Guess who barfed first.” When Jimin shakes his head, he proudly says, “Me.”

Jimin snorts. “What?”

“Jungkook made this really awful noise, like he was about to throw up, but he managed to keep it down. But the sound upset my stomach - I was sitting right next to him on the bench - and- well. They competed against each other, and I lost.”

“Oh my god, that’s awful!” Jimin exclaims. “I’m so sorry.”

“Eh, it’s okay.” Hoseok waves him off. “I banned myself from being physically present at their eating contests after that. No, actually, Yoongi-hyung banned me first, and I kind of had to agree…”

“Wow, no, they haven’t- Well, Jin-hyung has been in France for most - almost all - of my time here, so they haven’t done anything like that.”

“I’m shocked they didn’t find a way to do a who-can-eat-the-most-mcdonald’s-fries-in-under-a-minute skype call or something.”

“Just don’t- Don’t give them ideas.”

They laugh, and sip more of their tea. They talk.

Hoseok has a lot of stories from when he was around all the time; working in this tattoo shop and hanging out with everyone after work hours. Much like Taehyung, he lives across town, with his sister, but he used to crash at the others’ apartments often enough.

“Mostly Jungkookie’s,” he says, now having discarded his gloves and unzipped his many-zippered jacket. “Sometimes Yoongi-hyung’s. Tried to sleep at Joonie’s once, and got a nightmare from those dolls - I slept on the couch and they were staring right at me - ugh.” He shudders, and Jimin sympathizes.

Jimin, in turn, talks a bit about himself, because Hoseok asks about a lot of things; he already knows about Jimin’s flower shop and his plants and even his dancing, and he says how he used to dance, too, when he was a kid. In high school.

“Pop and lock!” Hoseok beams and leaps to his feet and starts showing some, frankly, quite impressive moves for someone who supposedly hasn’t danced in years.

Jimin bursts into giggles and claps for him, because Hoseok also makes ridiculous faces as he locks and relaxes his muscles, as much as he can with the jacket still on.

And then the door to the shop opens.

Jimin’s laughter dies out, Hoseok turns, and-

Yoongi is standing at the threshold, a bag of take-out in his hand.

He’s all wrapped up in his layers, but Jimin can tell, he can tell, he knows, that Yoongi is shaken. By the look in his eyes, open and disbelieving - as though he’s not sure that Hoseok is actually here, even though he’d read Jimin’s texts; by the way he slightly sways where he stands, like he’s about to crumble any moment.

“Yoongi-” Jimin starts, but stops when Yoongi looks at him instead. So many emotions - Jimin can only see his eyes, but it’s enough, enough to feel what Yoongi feels, to understand the importance of this, the size of it, how Yoongi is fighting to stay in one piece here.

Slowly, turning to Hoseok again, Yoongi takes off his beanie. He grips it tightly in one hand, sets the bag of food down on the floor, and then proceeds to bow. Low, low, he bows so low that he can’t anymore, and then he lowers himself to his knees, his hands on the floor in front of him-

“No, hyung-” Hoseok says, snapping out of his own daze. He bridges the distance between them, pulls Yoongi up by the arm, interrupts his deep bow. “Don’t, don’t- Hyung-”

Jimin blinks, his eyes welling with tears. Yoongi is asking for forgiveness; he wanted to bow to his knees for Hoseok, to express his remorse, to ask Hoseok to forgive him-

“Don’t, hyung, please,” Hoseok begs, his voice thick. He manages to get Yoongi up, then wraps his arms around him, and it’s unclear who is holding who up. “Hyung-”

And then they’re embracing. Tightly, tightly, Yoongi’s hand fisted in the back of Hoseok’s jacket and Hoseok squeezing Yoongi against him.

“Hope-ah,” Yoongi only says, and then quiet, muffled sobs fill the silences, ones that Jimin feels in chest, deep, deep, rattling his heart.

He looks away, even as tears roll down his cheeks; he bites on his lips to not make a sound; wants to give them space, wants them to work it out- Yoongi and Hoseok are crying in each other’s arms, and Jimin is crying off to the side, because of them, for them-

“Jimin-ssi.”

Hoseok has pulled away a little, turned to beckon him over. He’s smiling, but his face is stained with tears; he’s crying still, and urging Jimin to join them.

Jimin glances at Yoongi for a fraction of a second, just to make sure that Yoongi has nothing against it, and then he wastes no time in joining them; throwing his arms around both Hoseok and Yoongi and being embraced in return.

“Jimin-ah,” Yoongi says, choked up, his eyes red-rimmed and glistening.

His scarf still covers half of his face, damp from his tears, and Jimin manages a laugh, a hiccup and a laugh; he tugs down the scarf again, like he did before Yoongi left to get food, and leans in and kisses Yoongi’s wet cheeks. “It’s okay, hyung, it’s okay,” he whispers in the tiny space between all three of them; holding onto them, holding them both so close.

Seven souls, returning home.

“You’ll be okay, both of you, you’ll be okay,” Jimin assures, his chest full, his heart full, everything bursting out of him. “We’ll all be okay.”

“Fuck,” Yoongi whispers, and they laugh, and they cry, and they don’t stop for a while.

It’s maybe Hoseok who gets a hold of himself first. Maybe. Maybe it’s Yoongi, taking in a few deep breaths to finally settle down. They part a little, and discover that the tattoo shop is mostly dark now, dull and grey, as the short December day is coming to a close.

“I’m-” Jimin sobs one last time, and wipes his face with his hand. “I’m gonna go to Jungkookie’s. You- you guys have a lot to talk about.”

Hoseok nods, patting his jacket down as though in search of something, until he pulls out a packet of tissues. Yoongi unpeels his scarf and drops it by the food and his beanie, and is looking small, small and cried out, and Jimin noses at the side of his face.

“Okay?” he whispers, enjoying how Yoongi’s arm automatically winds around his waist and Yoongi leans into him. Hoseok has turned away, blowing his nose loudly.

“Okay,” Yoongi whispers back.

“If you need me, just call me, yeah?”

“Yeah. Jimin-ah…”

“Hm?”

“Love you,” Yoongi says, wet lips pressing a kiss to Jimin’s own. Short. Sweet. Needed.

“Love you, too,” Jimin murmurs, then steps away. “It was very nice talking to you, Hoseok-ssi,” he says louder, grabbing his coat. “A little less nice crying with you, but…”

“But I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Hoseok says, and his dazzling, earnest smile is the last thing Jimin sees before he shrugs on his coat, squeezes Yoongi’s hand once, and then ducks into the frigid dusk, heading for Jungkook’s shop.

He jumps over the two steps to the front door and walks in, lightly shivering. Not sure if it’s from the cold or from just. all of this.

Hoseok is here. Hoseok is talking with Yoongi.

They’re all back.

Jimin sniffles, once again rubs his eyes as he makes to take off his coat, and Jungkook’s voice reaches him.

“Hyung?”

He’s waist-deep in his pile of garbage, one hand completely black from what is probably motor oil of some sort. A carcass of a washing machine is in the center of the repair shop, disassembled to pieces so tiny that Jimin would never guess they go into such an appliance.

Jungkook’s eyes are large, worried, because Jimin must look a mess. “Hyung, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Jimin shakes his head. Smiles, smiles so wide that it hurts; more tears prickle behind his eyelids, but he’s completely honest when he says,

“Nothing is wrong anymore.”

 

Chapter Text

Jimin slowly becomes aware of the warmth in his bed; of the softness of the blankets he’s wrapped up in; the air that is crisp and white while he’s snuggled up and cozy.

And not alone.

Someone’s hair tickles his chin, the touch of bare skin against his own… Jimin opens his eyes to his bedroom, hushed and dimmed on a winter morning hidden by the blinds.

He smiles, because Yoongi’s head is on his chest; Yoongi’s tattooed arm is over his torso. Their legs are tangled under the covers and maybe Yoongi is snoring a bit. Maybe Jimin is smitten.

He doesn’t bother getting up or moving, save for the raise of his hand to gently card his fingers through Yoongi’s dark hair. Yoongi lets out an unintelligible murmur.

His tattoos are calm - breathing, but otherwise still. With his other hand Jimin traces the shapes over the forearm; the piano keys, the lines of Pip’s star-shaped flowers… a new quote.

Start at the beginning.

Jimin isn’t sure how it’s possible to feel so content, so blissful as he does at this moment.

Then Yoongi hums, that low, gravelly drawl he has in the mornings, and rubs his face into Jimin’s chest, like a cat. Still the cutest.

“‘Morning,” Jimin says.

Yoongi hums again, smacks his lips and returns to resting on Jimin, firmly nestled into Jimin’s side.

“You’re cute,” Jimin doesn’t resist saying.

Now the sound is more of a grunt, but it’s only token protest; Jimin knows Yoongi actually likes being called cute. And sweet. And cuddly. But only in private.

They lie in peaceful silence for a moment longer, when Yoongi breaks it with,

“How’s your ass?”

Jimin giggles. “Ever the romantic. It’s-” He shifts a little, feeling the tightness and only slight discomfort. “-sore.”

“Sorry.”

“No, no, it’s…”

Last night, it was slow and molten hot; buried in blankets, exploring each other, tasting each other; Yoongi’s tongue on Jimin’s skin, Yoongi’s fingers inside of him, his mouth on Jimin’s cock; and then Yoongi - Yoongi so gentle and so careful, whispering sweet nothings and dirty somethings, making Jimin gasp and writhe and shiver underneath him.

“It was perfect,” Jimin says, getting aroused by the sheer memory of it. He can’t wait to make love to Yoongi again.

“Hmmmmmm,” Yoongi lets out agreeably, and nuzzles into Jimin; kisses his warm skin, moves up to the collarbone, to the small, delicate line of ink looping onto itself; a flower, etched into Jimin’s skin. Thin, thin, as if drawn by a quill, barely a few centimeters across. Yoongi kisses the open petals, and Jimin laughs as they tickle - the tickling means the flower is unfolding, its thin line stretching out to form words instead of the shape:

my beginning.

A handwriting that looks a lot like Yoongi’s.

Yoongi kisses up, up, nips at the skin over Jimin’s pulse point, and Jimin hums, sneaks his arms around Yoongi’s shoulders. Welcomes him.

“G’morning,” Yoongi grumbles, slowly stroking Jimin’s side; from his bare hip all the way to his chest, Yoongi’s fingers leaving goosebumps in their wake. “Hungry?”

“For more cuddling? Always.”

Yoongi smiles, then settles back on top, his face in the crook of Jimin’s neck. “Brat.”

“I see you’re firmly against the cuddling then,” Jimin teases as Yoongi practically wraps himself around him again.

“Shut up.”

Jimin laughs, and they stay like that for a while more. Minutes, minutes, Jimin wants it to be hours; wants to stay naked in bed with Yoongi for the whole day if possible. And Yoongi must share the sentiment, because he breathes evenly, continues to caress Jimin’s side, and occasionally plants a dry kiss where he can reach.

Suddenly, the serenity is broken by distinct sounds of a key turned in a lock, of a door opening.

Yoongi tenses. “Uh. Who has the keys to your apartment?”

“Everyone?” Jimin says at the same time that Taehyung’s voice booms down the hallway,

“WE’RE GIVING YOU 30 SECONDS TO STOP WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU’RE DOING AND GET DRESSED!”

“Are you fucking kidding me,” Yoongi mutters, sinking into the bed as Jimin bursts out laughing. At least they weren’t in the middle of actual sex.

“30, 29, 28, 27…”

“Why,” Yoongi asks no one in particular, reluctantly letting Jimin slip out from under the covers. “Why are they our friends. Why can’t we get new ones. Why do we need friends at all.”

“...20, 19, 18…”

“Can’t we have one, single, moment of peac-” Having pulled on his own boxers, Jimin smacks Yoongi’s over his face, shutting him up.

“...11, 10, 9…”

Yoongi pulls his underwear on without getting out of bed, and now that they’re decent, Jimin dives back under the blankets in search for more of that morning warmth, of Yoongi’s body heat.

“I hate them,” Yoongi reaffirms for good measure, and Jimin laughs again.

“...2, 1, READY OR NOT HERE WE COME AND WE HOPE ALL PENISES HAVE BEEN PUT AWAY!”

Jimin lets out a cackle, and then Taehyung and Jungkook come into view, smiling. Taehyung has an old-fashioned analogue camera in hand, and he brings it up, focuses the image, and snaps a picture of Jimin and Yoongi in the bed. Yoongi holds up a middle finger, one arm still around Jimin, and Taehyung takes a picture of that, too.

Then he sets his camera down on the nightstand and both he and Jungkook climb onto the bed. There’s commotion and shifting around and an ow! from Yoongi as Jungkook jams an elbow into his side by accident, and then they arrange themselves like sardines - Taehyung by the edge of the bed, over the covers, Jimin between him and Jungkook, under the covers, Jungkook over the covers as well, and then Yoongi on the other end, half his body hanging off.

“I didn’t sign up for this,” Yoongi mutters, yanking as much of his pillow from under Jungkook’s head as he can. “I don’t remember getting two kids who come in unannounced and get into our bed and steal our pillows. ” He pulls, but Jungkook pulls back, and Yoongi is left to lie on a flat mattress.

“You wouldn’t be able to live without us,” Taehyung says as he drapes himself over Jimin and buries his cold nose into Jimin’s neck, making him shiver.

“Also, kids? ” Jungkook raises an eyebrow in Yoongi’s direction. “Hyung, I can literally bench press you.”

“Oooooh, let’s watch that again!” Jimin exclaimes and makes a grabby hand toward the nightstand, from where Taehyung fetches his phone. Jimin scrolls through his camera roll to find the video of Jungkook bench pressing Yoongi.

“Thank you for this, by the way,” Yoongi says, sounding resigned. “Love getting our lazy Saturday mornings interrupted. Love having two more bodies in the bed. Love it.”

Ignoring him, the other three comfortably settle on their backs, and Jimin plays the video, which starts with Yoongi’s tinny voice going, Absolutely not. but ends in Jungkook lifting him up overhead as though he weighs less than a loaf of bread.

“He took it so seriously though,” Taehyung says, making Jimin laugh. “It’s not easy to pretend to be a weight bar, believe me, I’ve tried. You have to tighten all your muscles, and keep perfectly still.”

“I don’t like half-assing things,” Yoongi mutters, his head now leaning on Jungkook’s on the shared pillow so he can also watch the video.

“You did a great job, hyung,” Jungkook says. “In fact, we could totally do it again, because I’ve been working out more and I think-”

“-not a fucking chance-”

But before Yoongi can interrupt Jungkook, he gets interrupted himself, by the door opening again. A familiar voice hums and sings as the person is presumably taking off their shoes and whatever outerwear they had on, “Beach day, beach day, it’s beach day today! Beach day~” Then the voice pauses and calls out,

“Yoohoo! You guys up? Tae and Jungkookie said we’re meeting here, so, uh, if you’re… doing things, sorry to say that you should probably wrap them up because-”

“We’re in here!” Taehyung shouts, much to Yoongi’s dismay.

“Awesome, yes, let’s invite more people, why the fuck not.”

Hoseok is already grinning ear to ear when he appears in the doorway.

“A cuddle pile!” he exclaims, then puts his palms together as though he’s about to dive in.

“Don’t you dare-” Yoongi starts, but Hoseok already lunges and falls into bed over the four of them, with Jungkook and Taehyung shrieking out and Jimin’s breath getting knocked out of him from the added weight. Hoseok is lean, but surprisingly heavy.

“What are we watching?” he asks, craning his neck to fit between Jimin and Taehyung and see what’s on Jimin’s phone.

“We started with the one where Kookie lifts Yoongi-hyung, but now we’re at the one where Jin-hyung is twirling him at the airport.”

“Ooooooh, my favorite!” Hoseok says and wiggles in, and Jimin presses play.

In this clip, Seokjin is mock running towards them, having just landed from France for good. He’s dragging his suitcase behind him, which he then abandons in the middle of the busy airport, bypasses Namjoon and Hoseok who wanted to hug him, and goes straight for Yoongi, picking him up and twirling him around. Jimin’s recorded laughter is resounding, the camera shaking with it, and Yoongi can be heard, -right this fucking second, hyung, I’m not kidding around.

In the bed, everyone except Yoongi bursts into giggles. Jimin is already replaying the video when Yoongi groans, throws off what little of the blanket was covering him and heads out of the room in his underwear.

“Wait, no!” Jimin exclaims through his laughter. “Yoongi-yah, we love you!”

“Yes, hyung, we love you so much!” Taehyung adds.

“Not our fault you’re so… easy to manhandle,” Jungkook says.

“We promise to watch my embarrassing videos next!” Hoseok offers, but Yoongi only waves them off.

“I’m making breakfast and all you idiots better be hungry."

 


 

Yoongi has become an expert in cooking with Jimin attached to his back. 

The others are scattered around Jimin’s apartment, playing games on their phones, making loud noises, Taehyung gone to get bagels from Kim’s bakery, and Jimin… Well, Jimin can’t resist Yoongi in only an apron and boxers, making delicious food for everyone.

Jimin had put on sweatpants and a random t-shirt that he’s pretty sure is Yoongi’s when they all piled out of the bedroom, and now he has his arms wrapped around Yoongi’s middle from behind, his chin resting on Yoongi’s shoulder. They easily move around the kitchen together; an act they’ve done a thousand times before. Jimin will never get tired of admiring Yoongi at the stove.

“-should make sandwiches for the trip,” Yoongi says.

“I could help,” Jimin says, not lifting his chin.

“For the mountain picnic, you and Kookie ate half of the ingredients before they even went into the sandwiches. So no thanks.”

Jimin snorts, and presses a kiss to Yoongi’s bare shoulder. In tandem, they step to the side so Yoongi can take the rice off the burner and put on a frying pan for eggs.

“I’ll be good this time,” Jimin says.

“Hm. Like you were good last night?” Yoongi muses, cracking the first egg, and Jimin’s cheeks instantly heat up.

“Hyung, oh my god.” He glances into the living room, but Jungkook and Hoseok aren’t paying attention to them, talking amongst themselves and comparing results on a game level, it seems.

Then Jimin brings his lips to Yoongi’s ear, and whispers, “Not nearly as good as I’m going to be next time. Really want to know how it feels to ride you.”

Yoongi’s hand was just about to crack another egg on the countertop, but he misses and it lands on the tiled floor with a splat!

Jimin giggles, separating from Yoongi and handing him a sponge to clean up the mess.

“Fucking hell,” Yoongi mutters, picking up the shell pieces and wiping away the goo. His ears, his cheeks, his neck are all flushed, and he shoots a glare at Jimin.

“You started it!” Jimin accuses with a smile.

“Shoulda known you’d be the death of me, Park Jimin,” Yoongi grumbles, but when he throws everything away and is back to scrambling eggs, he doesn’t object to Jimin finding his way back around him, nosing into his shoulder and neck.

Jimin simply lets out a content sound, closes his eyes, and enjoys the warmth and the domesticity for a bit longer.

Taehyung returns with two bags filled with bagels and pastries, and Jungkook dives in before the cooking part of breakfast is even finished. Yoongi warns him to save some for sandwiches, but Jimin bets they’ll have to go out and buy more before the mini road trip.

As they wait for Namjoon and Seokjin to arrive, everyone helps Yoongi set up the small plastic table, with bowls of side dishes and noodle soup, rice, eggs and toast and deli meat and tea and juice, a strange but welcome blend of traditional and western. Jimin’s stomach growls at the sight, at the aromatic scents filling the air, and he restrains himself from reaching for one of Mrs. Kim’s signature blueberry muffins.

Yoongi and he go put on proper clothes - kissing while searching for the right jeans and Jimin laughing into Yoongi’s lips when Yoongi slaps his ass. When they return, they find Hoseok and Jungkook on the couch, upside down, their heads hanging off the cushions and their legs in the air. Taehyung is taking a picture of them with his old camera.

“Can we eat now?” Jungkook asks from his position, and how he doesn’t break his back like that is beyond Jimin. “They were supposed to be here 10 minutes ago.”

“Yeah, everything’s getting cold.” Taehyung casts a plaintive look at the food table from his place on a cushion on the floor.

“We can wait a bit more,” Jimin says. He takes a seat between the twisted Jungkook and the twisted Hoseok, and Yoongi takes the armchair.

“Have you been to the beach before, Jimin-ah?” Hoseok asks then, lowering his legs and sitting next to him the right way up again. His dark hair is all over the place.

“This beach, no.” Jimin laughs at the sight, reaching up to smooth Hoseok’s hair down. “It’s the same one you guys went to before, isn’t it? From Tae’s album?”

“Yup.” Taehyung nods. “We used to go there all the time. Especially in winter, when there aren't many people around.”

“Though last time we forgot to bring food and were kind of miserable and started arguing about the grain size of sand in the middle of it,” Jungkook says, also dismantling himself and sinking into the sofa normally again. “I got a smack from Hobi-hyung.”

“And I got a smack from Jin-hyung.” Hoseok nods.

“Was a fun day,” Taehyung concludes.

The conversation dissolves among them, with Taehyung perching on the armrest of Yoongi’s armchair, both of them looking through a photographer’s instagram, Jungkook back to playing his game, and Jimin asking Hoseok what it’s like, being back at SOPE again.

He had come to sit with them twice as they were closing up last week, after he’d sorted everything in his own flower shop, and they seemed to be doing well. There weren’t too many customers right off the bat, but the word is slowly spreading that the tattoo shop is open again, and both Yoongi and Hoseok are confident that business will pick up soon.

“On one hand, it’s almost like nothing’s changed,” Hoseok says with a small smile. He plucks at a stray thread in his sweater sleeve, ridden up just enough to expose his mesmerizing watercolor tattoos. “But on the other… It’s a little weird, too. Awkward. I think we’ll have to learn how to work together again.”

“It’s only the first week,” Jimin says. “You’ll get there.”

“Yeah…” Hoseok shrugs. “I’m just. It’s not… easy, but. I’m really happy to be back.”

Jimin smiles, and takes Hoseok’s hand and squeezes. “I know.” He glances at Yoongi, who is deep in a discussion about lighting and composition with Taehyung. “He’s really happy, too.”

“I know.” Hoseok squeezes Jimin’s hand in return.

“Haha!” Jungkook then exclaims in triumph, holding up his phone. “New record in the level with the snake-”

He doesn’t get to finish, however, as the door to Jimin’s apartment opens again-

“FINALLY!” Taehyung cheers.

-and Namjoon walks in.

He closes the door behind himself, takes off his long puffy jacket, unlaces his boots and slips them off, but as he walks further in, it becomes apparent that he’s doing all of this on some sort of autopilot. His face is blank, not really registering the people around him; he seems confused, like he’s filing away a lot of information at once.

“Hyung?” Jungkook asks, but Namjoon doesn’t react.

He reaches the armchair where Taehyung and Yoongi are, then moves to sit - Taehyung jumps off the armrest and Yoongi scrambles with a yelp, grabs Hoseok’s arms who then pulls him out of the way just seconds before Namjoon would have sat down on him.

“What the hell?” Yoongi demands, but Namjoon doesn’t hear him.

He’s perched on the edge of the seat, back straight, gaze staring off into some distance only he is aware of.

“Hyung?” Jimin tries, a little unsettled by this. “Is everything-”

But Hoseok lays a hand on Jimin’s arm, cutting him off. “Give him a moment,” he says softly.

Taehyung and Jungkook exchange a look; Taehyung shrugs. Yoongi is still scowling at Namjoon, having been booted from the chair, obviously unsure of what is happening to his friend.

Namjoon blinks.

“I think…” he says, then frowns, like the end of that sentence doesn’t make any sense in his mind.

Jimin looks at Hoseok, and Hoseok pats his arm in reassurance. “He’ll get there.”

Out of everyone present, Hoseok seems to be the only one who knows what this might be about, and isn’t alarmed at all, so maybe it’s nothing worrying. Through whatever it is, it has certainly occupied every thought process Namjoon has. And he has a lot of those.

“I think…” Namjoon starts again; pauses, licks his lips, as though considering. “I think I might have… feelings… for Jin-hyung,” he says carefully, like he’s trying the words out in his mouth.

The silence that follows is short, with the first audible reply coming in the form of Yoongi slapping a hand to his forehead, then dragging it down his face. Hoseok smiles wide, but doesn’t say anything, and Taehyung starts clapping, like they do in movies when someone has accomplished something grand and deserves a slow, deliberate applause.

The claps jolt Namjoon out of his head, and his gaze focuses. He looks around himself, at Jimin who is smiling too, at Taehyung who stops the clapping and lays a hand on his shoulder, fondly shaking him. Namjoon seems to only now realize where he is and that he’s not alone.

“Took you long enough,” Hoseok muses, and Namjoon’s ears turn pink.

“I didn’t… I mean. I never stopped to think-” he stammers. Then, “Wait. You knew?”

“We all knew,” Yoongi deadpans, unmoved.

“All…?” Namjoon looks at him, wide-eyed, then at Taehyung, Jungkook, and Jimin. Surprised, and somewhat amazed. Still blushing.

“I didn’t know for sure,” Jimin says kindly. “Never asked because it’s none of my business, but… It was kinda obvious.”

“Obvious…?” Namjoon repeats, collecting new data he needs to work through.

“Yeah. You talked a lot just the two of you, and the way he flew all the way from Paris just for your birthday… That was pretty romantic.”

“Romantic as fuck,” Taehyung agrees with a nod.

“He… He flew from Paris to see me,” Namjoon says, eyes turning hazy again, churning over this old memory he’s now seeing in a new light. “You think…? You think he also has feelings for me?”

Hoseok coughs up a laugh and Yoongi throws a look at Jimin that says both stop me from doing something I’ll regret later and, fucking finally!

“I think we can all eat now?” Jungkook suggests over Jimin’s giggles, and is the first to rise to his feet.

“B-but-” Namjoon tries; however, everyone follows Jungkook into the kitchen, and he’s forced to stand up too. “Jin-hyung is getting the car, so… He’ll- He’ll be here soon,” he dazedly says, and accepts the plate for piling on food that Jimin hands him.

“Hyung,” Jimin says. Namjoon looks at him; seems to try hard to concentrate on him. “It’s okay,” Jimin continues, smiling. “You don’t have to figure everything out today. Or even tomorrow.”

“Took Kookie like three months to even agree to a date, if you remember,” Taehyung says, helping himself with eggs, while in the background Jungkook shouts, “Hey!” through his own mouthful.

“It’s good that you’ve come to this realization,” Hoseok says next to Namjoon, taking the liberty of plopping a spoonful of rice on his plate. “But you have time to work on it.”

“Exactly,” Jimin agrees. “Feelings don’t need to be rushed. You’ll be fine.”

“Fine,” Namjoon repeats, like it’s a foreign word.

“Yah, Joon-ah.” Yoongi sidles up to them, and Jimin doesn’t miss the chance to snatch a slice of cucumber off his plate, then press a cucumber-flavored kiss to Yoongi’s cheek. Yoongi scowls, but continues, “Just breathe. Get out of your head a little.”

“Enjoy the beach day!” Hoseok beams.

“Beach day.” Namjoon stares at his plate, then asks again, as though he needs confirmation, “And it’ll be… fine?”

Yoongi smiles a little. He glances at Namjoon, but his gaze rests on Jimin when he says,

“Yeah. It’ll be fine.”

 



Seokjin arrives some minutes later, declares that the car is parked just outside their street, and proceeds to pillage through what is left of the food, predictably getting into a disagreement with Jungkook over the last of the stir fry veggies. 

As always when all of them are together, it takes time for everyone to get underway; for Yoongi and Seokjin to make sandwiches, for Jimin to clear the dishes away and Taehyung and Hoseok to stack them into the dishwasher, and for Namjoon to stare unblinkingly at Seokjin from the armchair, with an awed, hopeless look on his face.

“Hyung, you’re being too obvious,” Jungkook mutters just when Jimin is within their earshot, taking the plates from breakfast. Jungkook is playing the game on his phone, but looking at Namjoon.

Namjoon meets Jungkook’s gaze, takes a beat to catch up, then says,

“Right. Yes.” He straightens up, then seems to conclude that’s too rigid of a posture and instead just sinks into the armchair, like a deflated balloon. “Shit. I’m not good at this.”

Jimin chuckles, precariously balancing an empty glass on the plates.

Jungkook’s game pings with something like a new high score, but he looks over at Seokjin, who is debating with Hoseok whether or not there is enough of the ‘shine liquid’ in the dishwasher.

“You don’t have to be good at it,” Jungkook says, now watching how Taehyung simply grabs the bottle of the liquid and pours it in the right compartment to the point it overflows and spills over a little. “I’m not… I mean, I thought I wasn’t good at it, either, you know,” he says. “If Tae wasn’t so determined, we wouldn’t… It took time, for me. For both of us, but mainly me. Because I didn’t know how someone… normal like him, could ever…” He sighs, actually taking a moment to tap his phone screen and exit the game. “Well. That’s not important anymore. Point is, there’s no need to freak out, hyung. Just slow and steady, and neither of you is going anywhere now, so…”

Jimin turns away, catching a glimpse of Namjoon’s smile as he’s careful not to drop anything before he makes it to the kitchen.

“When did you get so wise, Jungkook-ah?”

“Your IQ rubbed off on me, what can I say.”

When everything is settled, the dishwasher doing its thing, the people having put on their boots and jackets and scarves, they file out of Jimin’s apartment, and Taehyung locks the door with his own set of keys.

The car that Seokjin rented is a sort of a pickup, prompting Yoongi to complain that this isn’t an American movie for fuck’s sake.

It’s a matter of seconds before Taehyung, Jungkook, Jimin and Hoseok decide they’re all going to ride in the back, deeming the inside of the car too boring.

(“Absolutely not,” Yoongi counters. “It’s too cold outside and we’re not risking anything falling, hitting or flying into your dumb heads and killing you.”

“Yoongi-yah,” Jimin chirps, lips pursed in a pout, and it takes one look at him before Yoongi sighs in defeat.

“Dammit.”)

So the four of them arrange themselves in the back, with flannel blankets, cushions and their basket of food; sandwiches, chocolate bars and bottles of soda and water.

It’s a chilly day, the middle of March, and Jimin shivers, snuggles deeper into his jacket as Hoseok ties his own flappy-eared hat around his chin. Seokjin is at the wheel, and he pulls away from the curb at the same time that Katy Perry starts blasting from inside. Yoongi knocks on the glass separating them, demanding to be let out, and the ones sitting outside laugh at him.

The sky overhead is brilliant blue, not a cloud in sight, and the sunshine seeping in between the buildings is bright, bright; Hoseok pulls out sunscreen from his bag and passes it around, insisting that everyone protect their faces.

The drive is windy, making their cheeks red and ruffling their hair - or at least on those who aren’t wearing hats. By the time they escape the hubbub of the city, by the time the glass-paneled skyscrapers are replaced with industrial lots and vast parking spaces, and then with nothing but the bare landscape, Jimin is light and airy and free.

He feels it - the nature rising from its winter slumber. He feels the energy of the trees about to sprout leaves, of the tiny, tiny flowers about to emerge from the previously frozen soil. This isn’t as familiar or as intimate a sensation as with his plants - he doesn’t know this flora - but he feels them budding and buzzing and being excited about what’s coming.

And Jimin is excited, too.

He closes his eyes and leans back in the sunlight, half-listening to how Taehyung had accidentally gotten his matcha ice cream all over Hoseok yesterday and how Hoseok nearly killed him for that, and half just… savoring the moment. The unbridled content. Relishing the lovely day, the laughter of his friends, the love in his heart.

“Hey.” Jungkook nudges Jimin’s foot with his own. Jimin squints at him. “How’s the mixtape going?”

The mixtape. Yoongi’s mixtape.

Yoongi has no definite plans to combine the few songs he’s completed into a mixtape - and definitely no plans to release them anywhere anytime soon - but the others have taken to calling it that. They’re eager to hear anything Yoongi will give them, and to support the fuck out of him.

Instead of trying to answer over the wind, Jimin pulls out his phone and his earbuds from his jacket pocket, and hands one to Jungkook. They huddle close in the wide cargo bed of the truck, and Jimin plays the song Yoongi is currently working on.

The overarching theme is love and hope; it starts with the sound of Jimin’s loud, uncontained laughter, through which the music slowly filters in.

(“Laugh for me, Jimin-ah,” Yoongi had said.

“What?” Jimin looked up from his book, from where he was sprawled on Yoongi’s sofa one quiet January evening.

Yoongi brought his phone closer to Jimin and repeated, “Laugh. I need a sample of your laughter.”

“I- What.” Usually, Jimin was good at interpreting Yoongi’s ideas and questions and even hums and grunts and sounds. This time, however, he was a little lost.

Yoongi sat down on the edge of the sofa. He showed Jimin that an app was recording their every sound. “I want to add your laugh to a song,” he said, avoiding Jimin’s gaze. “So I need a sample of it.”

“Oh.” Jimin closed his book and slid it onto the coffee table. He should have been used to these small affections; these casual, almost off-hand ways Yoongi expressed his love. But he wasn’t; he’d never get used to the softness that was Yoongi.

“Well,” Jimin said, feeling warm, so warm. “I can’t do it on command.”

“What, so I have to be funny?”

Jimin tried to fight the smile on his lips, but it came through anyway. He nudged Yoongi’s back with his leg. “Wouldn’t hurt.”

Yoongi huffed, rolled his eyes, but before Jimin could say anything more, he went, “Fine,” and dove right in.

With the hand not holding his phone, Yoongi started tickling Jimin’s side, pouncing on him and making him burst out in giggles. Jimin did his best to defend himself but was too overcome with laughter, too squirmy, and Yoongi knew all of his most ticklish spots.

Jimin squealed and laughed and almost peed himself on the couch when, finally, Yoongi seemed to have had enough and had just collapsed on top of him. Both of them were out of breath, the last of Jimin’s laughter hovering around them. Yoongi set his phone on the table.

“Was that enough?” Jimin asked.

“Mhm,” Yoongi said into Jimin’s hoodie. “Until the final version of the song, yeah. It’ll be enough.”

“You like my laugh.”

“I do.”

“You like me.”

Yoongi grunted, somewhere between amusement and annoyance. “Most of the time.”

“Mmmm…” Jimin murmured, leaned in and got Yoongi to lift himself up enough for Jimin to find his lips.

They kissed slow and long and languid, with just a hint of heat simmering underneath. “Come on, hyung,” Jimin whispered, one hand sneaking between them to start undoing Yoongi’s belt; Yoongi smiled into the kiss, at Jimin’s phrase that had by now become a prelude of many of their most intimate moments.)

...when you’re not here,
I feel you 
I hear you laugh 
and I thank you, 
for bringing my hope back.

The chorus is compelling. The music is grand, strings and a soaring instrumental, but Yoongi’s words are no less powerful, each syllable its own punch, each line delivered with his signature ferocity.

It’s Jimin’s favorite song to date.

“Holy shit,” Jungkook says, and in the next second Jimin’s phone plays the song again without anyone touching it. “This is…” Jungkook trails off, unable to find the right words, with which Jimin agrees.

“Yeah.”

It is. The song definitely is; an embodiment of what Jimin and Yoongi are; a manifestation of Yoongi’s gratefulness and Jimin’s love, and their joint effort to maintain their happiness.

Because it’s not rainbows and daisies and unicorns all the time. Hoseok is back and they’re slowly healing, but their scars will forever remain.

Their happiness is work, but one they’re all more than willing to put in.

“Love it,” Jungkook says then, halfway through the third listen. “It’s… amazing. It sounds like his previous stuff - the same style and the same sort of… roughness, I guess, but it’s also different. He’s talking about lighter, romantic subjects, and yet he hasn’t lost any of his strength- I love it.”

“I love it, too,” Jimin says, smiling.

Taehyung raises an arm, his coat sleeve flapping in the wind of the drive. “Motion to start on the snacks in the basket!”

Jungkook nods and takes out Jimin’s earphone. “Motion granted!”

“Leave some for the others!” Hoseok says, but Jimin isn’t sure how much the two heard over the noise of the ride and their own deliberations over what they’re going to start with.

 


 

Jimin’s boots hit the sand as he jumps out of the parked pickup, and he can’t stop grinning at the sight; at the wide, seemingly endless horizon, grey and glimmering in the sun; at the deserted beach; the waves easing up and down the sand; at the scent of salt and ocean in the air.

Jungkook lands next to him, swallowing the last sandwich bite, and he also smiles, his cheeks full of food.

“Wow, it’s… wider, than I remember it,” Seokjin says behind them.

“It’s amazing,” Jimin says.

“It’s too sunny,” Yoongi gripes, coming to stand next to him.

“Of course you would find something wrong with it,” Jimin tells him with a fond eye roll, as Jungkook smacks Seokjin and challenges him to a race; Seokjin says no, but starts running anyway, and Jungkook then yells that it’s not fair, but he’s also running, and Hoseok is calling for them to be fucking careful -

Which is about the time Namjoon missteps as he’s getting out of the car and falls on all fours in the sand. Hoseok sighs and helps him get to his feet.

Jimin laughs, and finds that Yoongi is smiling, too.

“Good day?” Yoongi asks.

“Hm, yeah.” Jimin turns to peck him on the lips, tangling their fingers together. “Gonna be a good day.”

Behind them, Taehyung lifts his analog camera, and snaps a photo.

 


 

Jungkook leaning his forehead on Taehyung’s shoulder and smiling into his coat. His eyes closed, Taehyung’s arms around him; the bright sun shining overhead.

 


 

Hoseok peeking at the cards in Namjoon’s hands when Namjoon isn’t paying attention.

 


 

Yoongi’s scowl and a finger pointed at Seokjin as he accuses him of cheating in their game of poker. Seokjin’s lips pursed and his eyebrows innocently lifted because, no rules were broken in the playing of this game, Yoongichi.

 


 

Jungkook giving a beaming Hoseok a piggyback ride.

 


 

Jimin attempting to give Yoongi a piggyback ride too, then losing his balance and both of them tumbling to the sand.

 


 

Seokjin’s horrified expression when he realizes three sandwiches and two candy bars are already missing from the food basket.

 


 

A close-up of two forearms side by side; one painted like a galaxy, in deep blues and violets and lilacs and pinks, a small peace-sign turtle outlined over the lighter colors; the other forearm intricate in its black tattoos, with a turtle just like the first one, comfortably wedged in between flowers and piano keys.

 


 

Taehyung dabbing mayonnaise on Jungkook’s nose and Jungkook failing to move away from his finger.

 


 

Taehyung kissing the dab of mayo off Jungkook’s nose, smiling through it.

 


 

Yoongi passed out after eating, his head in Jimin’s lap, Jimin’s fingers in his hair, and his mouth predictably open.

 


 

Taehyung and Jungkook in the middle of a bet of who will be the first to launch a piece of a candy bar directly into Yoongi’s open mouth.

 


 

Two dark silhouettes outlined against the sun, looking out at the horizon; Namjoon and Seokjin, standing so close their shoulders are touching. Their fingers are almost brushing together.

 


 

Taehyung’s old camera doesn’t have a timer, but they did bring a tripod for a phone. He sets everything up in the sand, in front of the other six who are lined up for the picture, sitting down.

Taehyung starts the countdown for the photo, then runs towards the group and dives into his spot right next to Jimin - he misjudges the distance and shoves Jimin to the side, who falls into Jungkook, who falls into Yoongi, who falls into Hoseok, into Namjoon, into Seokjin.

They’re yelling and trying to pick themselves up, and Jimin’s ears are somehow sandy now, and Hoseok is laughing at Namjoon’s red face too close to Seokjin’s crotch, and-

The camera snaps.