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Back the Way We Came

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“I don’t think I should go.”

“You can’t just keep skipping Namjoon’s parties because he might be there.”

“He’s always there.”

With a sigh, Seokjin leans forward, taking hold of Jimin’s hands on the table. He squeezes. “Jimin, it’s been three years,” he says, voice calm and soothing. He leans low to try catching Jimin’s gaze, which currently rests on a tiny droplet of coffee on the table before him. “Even if he is there, it’ll be okay. Maybe it’s time you two saw each other again. Might give you a little closure.”

Jimin’s eyes slowly drift up to Seokjin. “And if it doesn’t?”

“Then we get really drunk in the hot tub and pretend like he doesn’t exist.” Seokjin lets go, propping his elbow on the table and sticking his pinkie finger in the air.

“Promise?” Jimin asks with a raised brow.

“Promise.”

They lock pinkies together and Seokjin grins from ear to ear. “I got your back, Jiminnie.”

 

 

Whatever Seokjin says, this is a bad idea. Jimin has a sinking feeling in his chest that only absolute disaster can come out of seeing him right now. It’s been three years and Jimin has only just managed to move on from the pain of their breakup. Hell, he hasn’t even been able to convince himself to go one real date in all three of those years. Who is he kidding when he tells himself he’s moved on?

No one. Not a damn soul. His friends all know. Seokjin knows.

But Jimin knows Seokjin only ever means the best. He wouldn’t bring Jimin here if he didn’t think he could handle it. Knowing that Seokjin has faith in him—since Jimin certainly doesn’t have any in himself—is a genuine comfort.

Jimin makes his way across the room with his hands tucked deep in his jacket pockets. He shoots a few smiles in the directions of familiar faces but he mostly just tries to keep moving until he reaches the alcohol.

Jimin!”

The sound of his name makes his jump and he spins around to see Namjoon rushing to give him a bear hug. The taller man lifts him off the floor and shakes him a bit, arms twisted a little too tightly around him. When Jimin lands on his feet again it takes a second for him to catch his breath.

“Glad to see you, too,” he says as Namjoon wastes no time in getting Jimin a drink. “Where’s Seokjin?” he asks, gladly accepting the cup Namjoon hands him. Maybe if he gets drunk enough seeing him won’t be so bad.

Or maybe getting drunk is going to result in him making a total fool of himself.

Jimin promptly sets the drink aside and doesn’t spare it a second glance.

“I think he’s out by the pool with Yoongi and Hoseok. You should go say hi. Seokjin was really excited that you decided to come tonight.”

“Mhm…” Jimin barely hums his response as his eyes dart over the crowd. He hears Namjoon but the words don’t really settle in, his mind far too focused on finding that one face he both longs to see and is terrified to lay eyes on again.

Jimin wonders if he even looks the same. Did he cut his hair? Get a piercing? Another tattoo? Damn, what if he grew more? He used to give Jimin enough shit for just being a few inches shorter.

“Yo, Earth to Jimin. You in there?”

“Hm?” Jimin blinks and looks at Namjoon. “Ah, what? Sorry, I was…”

Namjoon twists his lips off to one side and nods. He refills his drink, takes a swig, and gives Jimin a smile. “He’s upstairs.”

Jimin cocks his head to one side a bit. “I thought you said he was by the pool?”

“I’m not talking about Seokjin,” Namjoon tells him before walking away. He gives Jimin one thump on the back and disappears into the crowd.

Those words send Jimin’s heart pounding. His gaze drifts to the staircase and—like a scene straight out of a drama—he sees those long legs making their way down, step by step. He holds several empty cups in his hands, soon to be refilled for the partygoers upstairs, Jimin assumes.

His hair hangs in his eyes, a bit damp like the white shirt he wears. If Jimin knows anything its that Jungkook will find himself a dance floor anywhere he can and cut loose. That was how he and Jimin met, after all. Looks like tonight isn’t any different.

Jungkook maneuvers through the crowd like a pro, only bumping a few shoulders and brushing against a hip or two. Jimin can’t help but take in every detail as Jungkook heads his way, still oblivious to Jimin’s existence.

Aren’t those black skinnies the ones Jimin bought for him on their vacation just before they broke up?

Jimin is ripped from his reverie when he sees Jungkook stop dead in his tracks just inside the kitchen. The childlike grin he’d had on his face fading into a look of pure perplexity and maybe even a little fear. His eyes go wide as he stares back at Jimin.

“Hey,” Jimin says across the room but his voice shakes and he doubts Jungkook could even hear it. He clears his throat as Jungkook cautiously makes his way across the kitchen as though approaching an angry lion. “I heard you might be here.”

Jungkook licks his lips as he sets the cups down on the counter beside Jimin. A tiny, awkward smile dances across his lips. “Sorry to crash the party for you.” His hands slide into his pockets and he leans against the counter, eyes on a spilled drink next to Jimin’s elbow rather than focusing on his ex’s face.

“No… No, no, it’s fine,” Jimin stammers. “I’m glad. It’s been awhile. It’s good to see you’re still… doing well.”

After a silent moment, Jungkook’s gaze slowly rises to meet Jimin’s. His smile grows, though he still looks like he would rather be anywhere but here.

“You didn’t grow anymore,” Jimin says with a somewhat forced grin. If he can just lighten the mood even the smallest bit, it would be a weight off his shoulders. “I was afraid you’d be…” He holds his hand high above his head, standing on his tippy toes just to emphasize. His head cocks to one side. “Thought I wouldn’t be able to talk to you without injuring my neck.”

Jungkook chuckles. A tinkling sound like the most beautiful set of bells in the world. At least to Jimin it is.

With a shake of his head, Jungkook starts laughing harder. He never could resist Jimin’s stupid jokes. As he laughs, Jimin returns to his normal position, grinning from ear to ear like an idiot. There’s no sound in the world that could ever compare to Jungkook’s laughter. He could stand here and listen to it for the rest of the night and be perfectly content. He’s missed this sound.

Jungkook looks at him. His smile stretches as wide as Jimin’s, crinkling the corners of his eyes. “Still the same Jimin,” he says as he pushes away from the counter. He sets to work on refilling the cups he had brought down but he sends Jimin several glances as he does. “I’m glad your sense of humor hasn’t changed. I always loved that about you.”

Just like that, Jimin’s resolve shatters into a thousand pieces. His will slips from his grasp like sand through his fingers and he feels himself slide into the whirlpool that is falling in love with Jeon Jungkook all over again.

With his heart struggling desperately to escape his chest Jimin turns to lean his back against the counter, elbows propped on the surface behind him. He looks to the side to catch Jungkook smiling at him.

His heart skips.

“So…” Jungkook starts and Jimin listens a little too intently, preparing himself for what Jungkook might say next.

Please don’t let him be dating someone else already.

Already?

Jimin almost rolls his eyes at himself but stops just in time so as not to make Jungkook think it was directed at him. He reminds himself it has been three years. It’s not like it would be fast if Jungkook is dating someone.

Jimin might also just be overreacting and creating heartbreak where there is none. Yet.

“How have you been lately?” Jungkook asks as he pours the last drink. He turns to face Jimin again, smiling, eyes sparkling. “I haven’t heard a damn thing about you from Seokjin or Namjoon. I feel like they avoid talking to me about you.”

As those words sink in, Jimin’s heart sinks with them. “They do?” he asks. They don’t avoid talking to him about Jungkook. At least in the last year or so they’ve been casually bringing him up without apologizing like they used to. Why wouldn’t they do the same with Jungkook?

“Oh… They don’t… do that with you?” Jungkook asks, looking nearly as puzzled as Jimin. He changes topics before Jimin can respond, his gaze dropping to the counter again, which Jimin is silently grateful for. “Yeah, and I never see Taehyung anymore since he started traveling so I haven’t heard anything from him.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jimin says, desperate to keep the conversation from dying. “Taehyung’s doing well, from what I have heard, though. He calls me from time to time to update me on his travels.”

“And you?”

“What?”

Jungkook chuckles, fidgeting with a now full cup beside him. He looks at Jimin. “How are you doing? I actually do want to know,” he says. “I’m not just asking to be polite.”

“I’m good.” Jimin swallows hard. Great answer. “Um, work is, you know, work. Still at the studio, so that hasn’t changed. I moved. A couple times. I have a nicer apartment now—”

“Oh, thank god,” Jungkook says with a laugh.

Jimin feels a little lighter. He smiles. “Yeah, my old place was really a dump wasn’t it?”

“Little bit,” Jungkook says with a grin, eyes crinkling again. “Still had a lot of fun times there though, didn’t we?”

A tiny thrill shoots through Jimin’s body at the mention of the antics they used to get up to at his place. All the times Jungkook would stay the night and they would end up barely sleeping, too busy exploring each other, memorizing all the kinks and ticks of their bodies.

Jimin takes a deep breath. Images of anything other than himself and Jungkook in his old bed run through his mind as he tries to distract himself from the risque memories. The last thing he needs is to get himself into a compromising situation in front of his ex… while thinking dirty thoughts about said ex.

“Yeah,” he manages to croak out. “Yeah, we did.”

They lapse into silence, gazing at each other for far too long before they both look away. Jungkook stares down at the drinks in front of him and Jimin stares at a particularly uninteresting cupboard in Namjoon’s and Seokjin’s kitchen.

“Well,” Jimin says, hand slipping into his pockets again. He notices Jungkook do the same, both of them trying their best to ignore the awkward air hanging between them. “I should let you get back to the party. I’m sure everyone is tired of waiting for their drinks.”

Jungkook nods, lips pursed together. “Yeah. Oh, right. The drinks.” He starts gathering the cups as he gives Jimin one last smile. “It was good talking to you, Min,” he says, the old pet name slipping from his tongue before he can stop it. He either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that he said it, Jimin thinks. He seems completely unfazed by the whole situation. At least in comparison to Jimin, who can feel himself shaking from head to toe and both wishing Jungkook would stay and that he could be alone for the next several years to contemplate what had just happened.

“You too,” Jimin manages to say as Jungkook takes a few steps back. “Have fun.”

“You too.”

Jungkook disappears back into the crowd and up the stairs. Jimin lets go of the breath he had been holding.

After a few long moments, he regains his bearings and makes his way out to the pool where a mostly naked and very drunk Yoongi greets him with a single arm around his shoulder.

Seokjin sits with his feet dangling in the pool. When he hears Yoongi’s exclamation of Jimin’s name he looks up. His eyes widen a little bit and he gestures Jimin over.

Jimin doesn’t hesitate to rush to his side, crouching on the stone beside him. Seokjin puts an arm around him and pulls him a little closer. “How did it go?” he asks.

Jimin gives him a sideways frown. “How do you always know?”

With a shrug, Seokjin says, “You have a very distinct Jungkook look. It tips me off when you’ve talked to him or about him, or even when he just crosses your mind.” He grins as Jimin’s frown deepens. “Well, you’re not in tears so that’s a good sign. C’mon, get in the pool. Forget about him for a little while and just relax?”

Jimin won’t argue that. He takes his shirt off first and then looks around. No one else is in a bathing suit, just stripped down to whatever underwear they happened to wear to the party. So he does the same, leaving his clothes with Seokjin before he leaps in headfirst.

 

Jimin lifts himself from the pool just as a rather wild-looking Hoseok cannonballs in beside him. The water splashes over his back and he shakes it off. Seokjin’s towel rests nearby and Jimin snatches it up, drying off before sneakily placing it back in its place. He makes his way to the sliding glass doors, pulling his pants back on as he goes. Leaning against the wall beside the doors, he watches his friends damn near drown each other in the pool.

Hoseok clings to Yoongi’s back, attempting to dunk the other man under the water. Jimin smiles, feeling a laugh bubbling up in his chest as Yoongi leans forward and flips Hoseok into the water. Maybe Seokjin was right. Jimin needed a night with his friends. He feels more relaxed than he has for as long as he can remember.

“You still have it,” someone says from behind him, and he nearly jumps out of his skin before whipping around to see Jungkook there, staring at the tattoo just above his right hip. The one they had gotten together on a slightly drunken night of teenage antics. Stupid to get matching tattoos in such a young relationship. Jimin knew that then but he couldn’t resist the puppy dog eyes Jungkook had given him when they passed that tattoo parlor.

“Oh, yeah.” Jimin swallows hard. He presses a hand over the tattoo as though that will somehow make it disappear. He feels his face turning red. What is Jungkook thinking? Is it weird Jimin hasn’t had it removed yet? “Do… you? Still have yours?”

Without a word, Jungkook lifts his shirt just enough to show the tattoo on the left side of his rib cage. It brings a smile to Jimin’s face that he quickly hides behind his hand, pretending to wipe a water droplet away from his cheek.

“Just… haven’t gotten around to getting it removed,” Jungkook says. “Takes time and… a lot of money, and everything. You know? I’m sure that’s… the same for you.” He swallows as Jimin nods, then finally tears his eyes away from the other man. “Well, I just came out here to say bye to a few people, so...”

“You’re leaving?” Jimin asks, hoping his disappointment doesn’t show through. He shakes it off and leans against the wall again, trying to appear as casual as he can. He’s enjoyed Jungkook’s company so far tonight. He doesn’t want to scare him off now.

Again, Jungkook nods without looking at Jimin. He’s been doing that a lot tonight. Jimin wonders why it’s so hard for Jungkook to stomach seeing his face. He knows their breakup wasn’t pretty but it’s no reason for Jungkook to be so repulsed by his presence. Maybe he’s just overreacting again. Maybe it’s all in his head.

“Oh, there they are,” Jungkook mutters to himself before turning to give Jimin a halfhearted wave. “I’ll see you later,” he says as he starts to step away, then stops. “Or, uh… I mean— uh, not later— Just… Yeah, just… Bye.”

Jimin doesn’t even get his own goodbye out before Jungkook vanishes into the crowd, his hand raised halfway in a wave, his mouth agape but no words escaping. He sighs and drops his hand back to his side.

Maybe nothing has changed after all.

 

 

Jimin’s been staring at his phone for nearly an hour, rereading and rewriting his text a thousand times before letting himself send it. He scoffs at another misspelled word—he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking as he’d typed it.

Hey, I’m not sure you still have the same number, it now reads, so I don’t know if you’ll even get this. But it was nice seeing you last night and I was wondering if you wanted to meet up sometime. It might be nice to catch up with each other.

Too long? Too desperate? Maybe he shouldn’t text the day after seeing Jungkook when they literally haven’t even spoken to each other in three years—which is a miracle considering they still have the same circle of friends. Hell, as far as he’s aware, they’re still blocked from each other’s social media channels.

Jimin takes a deep breath. He really has nothing to lose. Jungkook might not even see this. He might just decide not to reply. Whatever the case, if last night proved anything it’s that Jimin misses Jungkook like crazy. He should at least take the chance. Jungkook was brave enough to kiss him mere days after their first meeting. He can be brave enough to send a stupid text.

This is Jimin btw, he adds at the end and hits the send button before he can doubt himself again.

No.

Shit.

He shouldn’t have added that last part. That was so stupid. Of course it’s him. Who else would it be?

A knock at the door makes him jump and nearly fall off his couch. Damn, he’s getting jumpy these days.

Jimin sets his phone face down on the coffee table and makes his way to the door, shaking off his nerves as he goes. For a second, he has a strange thought that this could be Jungkook at the door. Then he reminds his stupid brain that he’s moved twice since they broke up. There’s no way Jungkook knows where he lives.

He peeks out through the peephole, not particularly thrilled at the idea of company right now, and sees Seokjin and Namjoon outside his door. He tries to shake his disappointment. Of course it isn’t Jungkook. He knows it couldn’t possibly be Jungkook.

He pulls the door open and steps back, waving them in. They’re dressed in running clothes, Namjoon in a baggy t-shirt and shorts and Seokjin in a tank top and tight-fitted sweats. Their hair is matted in sweat and both are breathing a little heavily. “Hey?” Jimin says, uncertain what would possess them to visit him in the middle of a run. Or why they’re even running at all.

“Hey,” Seokjin says as he reaches for Jimin. He pauses, then pulls back after glancing down at his sweaty clothes. “What are you up to?”

Jimin shuts the door and follows the two men into his kitchen. “Nothing,” he says, casting a glance at his phone. It’s not a lie. He may have texted Jungkook but he definitely isn’t doing anything. He hasn’t even changed out of his pajamas. It’s his day off. Why bother?

Namjoon wastes no time in raiding Jimin’s fridge—a familiar sight—and Seokjin joins him, grabbing the orange juice from inside the door. Anyone else and he might not be so forgiving. Only these two and Taehyung could ever get away stealing his food. And Jungkook, of course, used to do it all the time but he tries not to think about that.

“Don’t you guys ever have food at your own place?” Jimin asks, jacking a glass of orange juice from Seokjin and taking a sip of it. His friend sticks his tongue out at him before pouring another.

“We’ve been out, jogging,” Namjoon says. “Haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping. We wanted to stop in and check on you first.”

Jimin’s heart clenches. They know something. “Check on me?” he asks, terrified of what they’re about to say. Are they here to warn him against getting involved with Jungkook again? Do they know of a new boyfriend and they want him to know not to get his hopes up again?

Paranoid, Jimin… You’re being paranoid.

But his text haunts him now. What if Jungkook has truly moved on and he hasn’t? What an idiot he would look like if Jungkook reads that message.

Seokjin leans on the counter, a fresh glass of juice in hand. “Yeah, you know, because Jungkook was there last night. We just… Your place is on our jog and we just didn’t want you to be alone too much after seeing him.”

A smile curls Jimin’s lips as he pulls Seokjin into a loose, one-armed hug, which Namjoon then ruins by giving them both a sweaty bear hug as he walks by them. “At least you’re smiling,” he says as he circles around the counter and heads for his favorite armchair. “Maybe we didn’t give you enough credit.”

He hopes that’s all they stopped for.

Jimin chuckles. “Thanks, guys. That really means a lot,” he says as Seokjin follows the other man to the living room. Jimin stays where he is, leaning on the counter and watching them. “I’m okay, though. Really.”

“Good,” Seokjin says with a smile as he hefts Namjoon out of the chair. “Get your sweaty ass off his new furniture, Joon.”

Another laugh bubbles up from Jimin’s chest. It feels good to laugh after last night.

Namjoon and Seokjin bicker for a moment, before Namjoon pulls the other man into a something like a half-headlock, half-hug. His eyebrows raise suddenly and he looks at Jimin, “I think your phone just buzzed.”

The now empty glass of orange juice clatters to the counter and Jimin speeds across the room, leaping over the back of his couch and landing on it rather gracefully with fuzzy-socked feet. He grabs his phone and rolls onto the couch on his back, chest pounding, ears ringing. He’s so nervous he feels sick, like he might actually throw up.

Jimin holds his breath as he unlocks his screen and sees a text.

Coffee at our old spot? Tomorrow, 4pm.

“Oh my god,” he hears himself breathe out as he sits upright. He hears his friends asking him something but he can’t tell what they’re saying, the sound of his blood rushing and his heart pounding makes everything else a dull rumble in the background. His hands shake even harder than before and he has to focus on every letter as he types it out.

That would be perfect. See you there!

He hits send.

And waits.

Within a few seconds Jungkook replies, Can’t wait :)

Jimin feels as though the world has been lifted off his shoulders. He leans back on his couch and stares up at the ceiling, a dumbfounded smile stretching from ear to ear.

A pair of fingers snaps in front of his face, then Namjoon appears with a raised brow. “You still with us, man?”

“Hm? Yeah.” Jimin sits upright, Namjoon skittering back to avoid knocking heads with Jimin. His friends watch him like hawks. You would think he’d just had a stroke in front of them the way they’re staring at him with almost frightened eyes.

“What got into you?” Seokjin asks with a perplexed laugh.

Jimin licks his lips as he contemplates. What will they say if he tells them? Will they be happy he might have a chance at some closure—that he and Jungkook both might have that chance—or will they worry like they always do?

Well, like Seokjin always does. Namjoon likely won’t have much to say about it.

Jimin waves his phone at them. “Just got a text,” he tells them. He can’t lie to them. Even if he wanted to they would know. They always know. “Jungkook and I are meeting for coffee tomorrow.”

Silence.

Jimin doesn’t know if he expected applause or cheers or outrage or what but he didn’t see this coming.

Seokjin and Namjoon stare at him, dumbstruck, mouths agape. They glance at each other, then back to Jimin. Seokjin is the first to break the silence with a little “Um…” He swallows hard. “Min, are you sure that’s such a good idea?”

Jimin feels sick again. “No?” He waves his hand dismissively, head shaking. “No, it’s fine. It’ll be fine,” he says, though he feels like he’s trying to convince himself more than his friends. “It’s just to get a little closure.”

“I thought you got that last night,” Namjoon says, surprising even Seokjin. Usually Namjoon stays out of other people’s business, letting them make their own mistakes and learn from them at their own pace. He holds a firm belief that that’s the only way a person can truly grow. For him to step in like this sets Jimin on edge.

“I mean,” Jimin swallows, his throat dry and scratchy now, “we didn’t talk about that. We just… talked.”

Seokjin sits down beside Jimin, seeming to forget about his own no-sweat-on-Jimin’s-new-furniture rule. He places a hand atop Jimin’s, squeezing lightly the way he always does when he worries. “Look, I only encouraged to talk to him last night because everyone else would be there. You two meeting up alone… I mean, you know how you are. You both jump right into everything without thinking. And what if the conversation doesn’t go the way you want? I just don’t want to see either of you get hurt again.”

Jimin feels tears sting the backs of his eyes and he blinks them back. He’s more angry at himself for getting upset about this than he is at his friends for doubting him. He had been so happy before, elated, like he could float away. Now reality drags him back down to Earth, the truth stabbing him through the heart like a poisonous blade.

He takes a deep breath and looks Seokjin in the eyes. “I’ll be okay,” he says, making the promise to himself as well.

Seokjin and Namjoon glance at each other again. Namjoon gives him a small shrug of the shoulders and Seokjin sighs, head hanging slightly. He pulls Jimin into a hug, hand turning in a slow circle against his back. “Okay. Just… call me if you need anything. Anything at all.”

“I promise,” Jimin whispers, eyes closing as he rests his forehead on his friend’s shoulder. “I’ll be fine.”

I’ll be fine.

He repeats those words like a chant in his head as his friends return to their jog. His heart beats a little unsteadily as the door closes, his eyes on his phone. 1:32 P.M. just a little over twenty-four hours before they meet.

I’ll be fine, he tells himself again as he sits on his couch, staring blankly out the window, gaze drifting over the city outside.

We’ll be fine.

 

 

Jimin takes a deep breath as he comes to a stop outside the cafe. He leans in close to the window, watching his reflection as he fixes his hair, then straightens his shirt. A few steps back, check again.

Other than the dark circles under his eyes he looks decent. If he just could have just made himself sleep last night. But instead it was long and restless as he tossed and turned, thinking through every possible scenario about their meeting today, including one in which Jungkook punches him in the face. And another in which they end up on a table in a very compromising position.

He doubts either will actually happen.

Another deep breath and he makes his way inside.

It’s not particularly busy at the moment and it looks exactly the way he remembers it looking when he and Jungkook used to come here.

Jungkook isn’t here yet so Jimin makes his way to the counter. It feels strange to be ordering his old favorite, having not drank here since they broke up. He doesn’t need the caffeine at this time of day but he can’t resist it. He’s always been a sentimental sucker.

“Is that all?” asks the girl from behind the counter as she punches in his order. She looks at him when he doesn’t answer, one brow raised slightly when she sees him staring blankly at the menu above her head.

Jimin’s eyes linger on Jungkook’s favorite drink and he debates whether or not to get it for him. Is that too much? Will Jungkook find it weird? Will it make this too much like a date? Jimin doesn’t want to scare him off before they even get to talk.

The door jingles and Jimin whips around to see an unfamiliar man come in. He turns back to the girl, his heart pounding, and sees her growing more impatient by the second. He pulls out a little more money and orders Jungkook’s drink before he can chicken out, apologizing to the employee for taking so long.

With trembling fingers, Jimin slides his wallet back into his pocket and sits down. His feet tap a beat against the floor, his mind racing faster than his heart pounds.

The clock ticks forward, closer to 4 o’clock. Jimin almost wishes he hadn’t gotten here early. The wait is torturous. He feels like he’s about to lose his mind by the time the barista calls him back up for his drinks.

Jimin stands a little too quickly, stubbing his toe on the table before grabbing the drinks. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous. They’re just here to talk.

The door jingles again and this time when Jimin looks up he sees the face he’s expecting.

Jungkook glances around the cafe before catching sight of Jimin. The smile on his lips sends Jimin to all new heights. He remembers the days when that smile was his favorite sight to wake up to.

“Hey,” Jungkook says as he takes a seat. “Barely made it. I thought I was gonna be late.”

“Traffic?” Jimin asks, pushing Jungkook’s drink across the table. It feels strange to be making small talk with Jungkook when they used to spend long nights watching stars and discussing the cosmos and the meaning of their lives. This feels so unfamiliar, so drastically different from their past intimacy.

Jungkook nods, taking a sip of his drink. He pauses, holding the cup to his lips as he stares at Jimin across the table, who stares back with slightly worried eyes. “What?” he asks as the cup comes back down on the table and Jungkook gives him what is possibly the cutest smile he’s ever seen.

“You remembered,” Jungkook says, making Jimin’s heart skip for the thousandth time since they met again. His smiles widens at Jimin’s dumbfounded silence. “Thanks.”

Blinking himself back to reality, Jimin gives Jungkook a nod and a smile. “Yeah, of course.” He clears his throat, leaning forward in his seat to prop himself against the table. They sit in silence for a moment, neither seeming to know what to say.

Jungkook licks his lips, eyes darting around as he seems to wrack his brains as much as Jimin for something to say. Finally, much to Jimin’s relief, he breaks the silence. “So you said you have a new place?” he asks as he slides his chair forward, leaning in closer, elbow on the table, chin on his hand.

“Yeah,” Jimin mumbles, melting at the sight before him. Jungkook always used to do this when Jimin would talk—just stare at him with a lovestruck grin on his face as Jimin talked about anything he could think of. Even if all he talked about was the weather Jungkook listened like it was the most enrapturing topic he’d ever heard.

Now, the look on his face seems different. The smile seems a little strained, maybe even sad. And there’s something in his eyes that Jimin can’t place. Longing, maybe? Wishing for the past as his eyes scan every detail of the face he used to love peppering kisses over.

Jimin takes a deep breath. “Um,” he starts, trying to think how to answer Jungkook’s last question. “Yeah, yeah it’s a nice place. I’m not stuck in a little studio anymore so I have a nice space for writing my music. Nice view, too.”

“Good,” Jungkook says as he takes another sip. “I’m glad. I heard you moved in with Yoongi and Hoseok for awhile. I wasn’t sure if you were still with them or not.”

“Oh,” Jimin laughs, “no. Living with them was fun but definitely not long term. I never got anything done with them around.”

Jungkook chuckles. “Yeah, I can imagine.”

Another moment of awkward silence. It never used to be like this. Even when they first met he and Jungkook had clicked in so many ways they never seemed to run out of things to discuss.

“So,” Jimin says. His voices seizes up when Jungkook’s eyes meet his again. “What about you? Still living in the same place?”

Jungkook shakes his head, sitting upright suddenly. He stares down at his cup, licks his lips, and gives Jimin a tiny shrug. “No, I, uh, I moved in with my cousin because I couldn’t afford my old place after I…” He purses his lips. “Um, I was fired from the job I had when we were together, so…”

“Shit, what happened?”

“Ah, nothing,” Jungkook says with a far too casual shrug. He takes a giant gulp of the drink in front of him and turns in his seat so he’s facing slightly away from Jimin, avoiding his eyes. “I just… I wasn’t performing well at all. You know? Just lost focus, I guess. It was right after… we…”

Jimin’s chest feels empty as he watches Jungkook fidget with his almost empty cup. He crosses one leg over the other, tapping his foot against the table, and Jimin just watches him with a heavy heart.

All this time, he knew how badly their break up had messed him up but he could never fathom how deeply it might have hurt Jungkook as well. He had always felt like Jungkook had just grown tired of their fighting and gave up. That he had left angry and hated Jimin for the entirety of the last three years. Jungkook had walked away from him. Jimin assumed it was because he just stopped loving him one day, that his choice never hurt him the way it hurt Jimin.

Jimin’s also never really let himself think about it much. It hurts to imagine Jungkook curled up on his couch, crying his heart out the way Jimin used to. To picture him walking down empty streets in the snow, eyes glossed over and staring blankly into the sky as his feet carry anywhere they can to escape the memories.

Jimin watches Jungkook fidget and squirm under his gaze. The younger man takes a deep breath and stares across the cafe but Jimin’s eyes never leave him. He tilts his head back to look up at the ceiling and sighs.

Before he can stop himself, Jimin feels himself blurting out the words he promised he wouldn’t say. “Do you think we could’ve worked out?”

Jungkook purses his lips before looking at Jimin. “I don’t know.,” he says, his voice suddenly quiet, any confidence he had left seeping out of him alongside his words. “I mean, maybe. Anything is possible, I guess.”

Jimin’s chest tightens and he has to stop himself from rolling his eyes. “You always do this. You always dodge giving me real answers by saying cliché shit like that,”

Maybe he’s being petty, but he says the truth and nothing less. It was always one of his pet peeves, the way Jungkook could dodge every damn question he asked him. He has to push the thoughts from his mind before he can start blaming all of their past problems on that one fact. He’s guilty of a lot too, he had his moments of immaturity, but this always drove him crazy. Still does.

“What do you want me to say?” Jungkook spats back. He turns in his seat to face Jimin once again. His hands rest on the table between them.

“Maybe a yes or no answer, for once,” Jimin snaps. “Instead of alluding to what you think maybe just say it. You always guard your thoughts like they’re goddamn holy artifacts or something.” Jungkook scoffs but that doesn’t stop Jimin. He places his hands on the table too. “Just… bear your heart for once?”

“Alright.” Jungkook’s fingers lace together, his jaw goes taut as he thinks. “You wanna talk about things we do to drive each other crazy? How about this one? You always do this.” He jabs an accusatory finger at Jimin. “You always try to force people to express themselves when they don’t want to. I know you think that’s a good thing but sometimes you push too damn far. And you know what that does? It makes people fucking hate you. No one wants to be around someone who’s always gonna force them to talk about parts of their lives they’re not comfortable with.”

His words stab a little too deep for Jimin but he stands his ground. A few hurtful words can’t hold him back anymore. He’s not the same timid boy he used to be. Jimin takes a deep breath and shoots back. “It’s been three fucking years, Jungkook. Don’t you think it’s time we actually talked about what happened? Hasn’t it been long enough for you to stop being a fucking coward and actually talk for once?”

Maybe he’s taking it too far but he has always held back for the sake of not hurting Jungkook. If Jungkook isn’t pulling punches, neither will he.

“No, it hasn’t been long enough,” Jungkook says, his words catching Jungkook off guard. “Because that was one of the most painful times of my life and, honestly, I don’t like thinking about it. I’ve spent the last three years putting myself back together and still every time I think of you it feels like we just broke up yesterday.”

Jungkook pushes away from the table, scraping it across the floor as he does. Jimin slides his chair back to avoid it bumping into him. He glances up at the barista, who stops what she’s doing long enough to cast them a sideways glance.

“Why are you so mad?” Jimin hisses, trying to keep his voice low.

“What the fuck did you expect, Min?” Jungkook matches his voice, leaning forward and keeping himself quiet to avoid anymore unwanted attention. “I thought we came here to catch up with each other and you completely blindsided me with this shit. I wasn’t ready for this. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for this.”

Jungkook sits back in his seat, jaw relaxing. He pulls his hands back in his lap and avoids Jimin’s eyes again. Jimin feels Jungkook’s vulnerability as though it’s his own. Jungkook’s arms cross over his chest, desperate to protect himself for any further prying.

It’s almost as though Jimin can feel his heart shatter inside his chest as he realizes Jungkook has been in just as much pain as he was. He had used his anger at Jungkook’s little bad habits and blown them out of proportion to cope with his own aching, blinding himself to the way Jungkook had been hurting. He’s been a fool to think he was the only one who suffered after their demise.

“I just… I just thought…” Jimin feel tears stinging at his eyes again. He looks away and presses his sleeve to his eyes, teeth clamping down on his lip in hopes the physical pain will distract from the emotional.

“Don’t get upset, Jimin. Please.” Jungkook sighs. He reaches across the table, hand turned palm up. “I just wasn’t ready for this to happen and I— Look at me, please. I’m sorry.” He leans forward and takes hold of Jimin’s hand, pulling it away from his face. He drags it down to the table, fingers twisting with Jimin’s. “Can we just talk about something else for now?”

Jimin takes a deep breath and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, of course. I’m sorry, too. You’re right. I shouldn’t have brought that up without making sure you wanted to talk about it first. Let’s just… Yeah, let’s talk about something else.” He slides his hand away from Jungkook, placing it back in his lap.

Jungkook swallows hard, forcing a smile back onto his face. “So…” he starts, and then launches back into the small talk.

Smiling comes to them less easily now.

 

 

Two weeks.

Two weeks have passed since Jimin and Jungkook met up and neither of them have texted the other once. Jimin really shouldn’t be surprised. After what had happened Jungkook will probably avoid him for the rest of their lives.

Maybe that’s for the best.

Jimin sighs and slides his phone across his desk, as far away as he can. He rests his head on the cold wood surface and stares up at his clock. 6:14. He had decided to stay at work late today but he regrets it now. All he wants is to go home to a nice bubble bath, a comedy movie, and absolutely zero thoughts of Jungkook for once.

A knock on his door sends him upright. He straightens his shirt and fixes his hair just in time for Yoongi to peek in.

“Hey,” Jimin says, relaxing a bit. Yoongi is the last person to care if Jimin looks like he’s been through hell and back. He’s usually pretty disheveled, himself. “I thought you went home already.”

Yoongi waves a flashdrive at him as he approaches the desk. “Stayed late to finish this,” he says as he tosses it on top of a rather large stack of papers. “New song. No rush. Just whenever you get a chance to listen to it.”

Jimin nods, grabbing the drive and a sticky note. He jots a note down about it and sticks it on the flashdrive before setting it aside. “I’ll get to it first thing tomorrow,” he promises. “Right now I just have to…” He sends a remorseful glance at the stack of paperwork. He shouldn’t have procrastinated so much. He just hates paperwork, though.

“Yikes,” Yoongi says as he takes a seat across from Jimin. “You okay, man?” He leans forward, elbows resting on his thighs and chin atop his interlaced fingers. “You’ve been out of it all day.”

“Yeah.” Jimin waves a dismissive hand. “Yeah, I’m good.”

Yoongi nods slowly, looking unconvinced. Jimin hopes he doesn’t pry. “This isn’t about Jungkook, is it?”

Of course he’s going to pry.

Jimin lets out another loud sigh and shrugs. “Kind of. I guess.” He looks out his office window, staring at the building next door. “We met up a couple weeks ago after seeing each other at the party.”

“Shit, what happened?” Yoongi asks, sliding his chair closer. His interlocked hands rest on the desk as he leans in.

“Nothing, really.” Jimin lets his head loll back in his seat, his hands curling around the arms of the chair. “I tried talking to him about everything that happened with us and he got pissed.”

Yoongi shrugs. “Fuck him, then.” He pauses. “I mean, like, he can fuck off. Not like you should go fuck him right now.”

Jimin chuckles and looks at his friend, who returns the grin. “I wish I could just have that attitude about the whole thing. Would be easier to move on,” he says, “but that’s not really fair. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was right. I blindsided him and it wasn’t cool. He hasn’t texted me since.”

“Have you texted him?”

“Um, well…” Jimin purses his lips together. “No?”

Another shrug from Yoongi as he leans back in his seat, mimicking Jimin’s current position. “How do you expect shit to get done if you don’t make a move?”

Jimin bites his lower lip, gaze drifting from his friend. Yoongi has a point. But right now he doubts Jungkook wants to hear from him. “I don’t know,” he admits. “I guess I just figured he would have texted by now if he wanted anything to do with me.”

Yoongi nods, lips pressed in a thin line. He drums his hands on the chair arms before standing up. “You know,” he says as he heads for the door. He turns on his heel, halfway outside the office already. “That’s what both of you said to me when you first broke up.”

Jimin feels his heart drop as Yoongi disappears. “Yoongi!” he calls, jumping out of his seat. He feels his heart racing as his friend ducks back into sight, brow raised in question.

Could that be true? He knows Yoongi wouldn’t lie about something like that but why didn’t he ever say anything before?

But that’s not the question that leaves his mouth. Instead, he starts in a quiet, worried voice with, “I think Seokjin is afraid Jungkook and I will get hurt again if we… see each other again.” He swallows hard, hands planted firmly on his desk. “Do you think that’s true?”

Yoongi draws in a long breath, seeming deep in thought as he leans against the door frame. He slips his hands into his pockets. “I think,” he starts, eyes drifting up to meet Jimin’s, “that Jungkook is a big boy who can handle it if anything happens between you two again. And so are you.” He gives Jimin a soft smile—softer than anything he’s ever seen grace Yoongi’s face before. “You both survived it once before. I think if you feel like he’s worth the risk then you should take the chance. At the danger of sounding cliché, if you don’t try you’ll probably always wonder what would have happened. Don’t you wanna know for sure if there’s even the smallest chance?”

Jimin looks down at his phone, teeth clamping down on his lower lip. He gives Yoongi one last glance as his friend throws him a peace sign, “Good luck,” Yoongi says before vanishing once more.

This time Jimin lets him go, sitting back down in his seat and snatching his phone up. He finds Jungkook’s number and stares at it for what feels like an eternity before slowly, carefully, oh-so-cautiously typing out a text.

He reads and rereads it before deleting everything and starting over. Everything he writes sounds too pitiful, too apologetic. It’s been two weeks. It’s a little late for an apology.

Finally he settles for a simple, Hey, you busy? to at least get the conversation started. Maybe then he can lead into something else and eventually ask Jungkook to meet him again.

Doubtful, but it’s worth hoping for.

Jimin sets the phone aside and drags the stack of paperwork close, starting from the top and working his way down. He scans over the contents before scribbling his signature at the bottom. He’s already so tired from working early today and barely sleeping the night before. He just hopes he’s not signing his life away on one of these papers without realizing it.

The vibration of his phone sends him into a small panic as he rather clumsily shoves the papers aside. He unlocks the screen with shaky fingers.

Not really, you?

Jimin doesn’t give himself a chance to over think the short reply. He could come up with a million reasons why this text means Jungkook hates him in less than a second. But he punches out a reply before he can convince himself of anything unreasonable.

Working a little late tonight. Paperwork. :(

Jungkook responds almost instantly. No fun! I’m finishing up my work for the day. When will you be done?

Jimin blinks. Is Jungkook about to ask to meet up again? It’s the last thing Jimin would expect but maybe he’s really just that lucky. With his paperwork long forgotten, he sends back a text to let Jungkook know he’ll be done by 8. He had planned to stay later but a few signatures can wait if Jungkook wants to see him. If he doesn’t, then Jimin will stay anyway. Jungkook would never even know.

The phone buzzes again and Jimin’s heart stops.

Can you meet me at the hill? 8:30? I feel bad about what happened last time. Thought we should talk it out.

Jimin feels a subconscious smile slip onto his lips at the mention of their old hangout. The hill they would always hike up to when they wanted to get away from everyone else. It was a secluded little spot, an overgrown hiking trail no one ever used anymore.

The first time they had gone up there in the middle of the night Jimin had been terrified they would die up there. Fearless Jungkook dragged him up the hill anyway and when they reached the top Jimin’s fears drained away. The sight was beautiful. Not that he paid much attention to it after Jungkook had pinned him to a tree and kissed him until they couldn’t breathe.

Jimin glances up at the clock. If he focuses for the next hour he can get a decent bit of work done before meeting Jungkook, then come in early to finish everything in the morning.

I’ll be there, he sends back before setting the phone aside and getting back to work on the papers with renewed vigor.

He feels like a child, all giddy and excited, though he tries not to get his hopes up. It’s good that Jungkook reached out to him but it doesn’t mean that much will come of it, if anything at all. Still, the thought of seeing Jungkook again and the possibility of seeing him more beyond this is strangely exhiliarting.

Jimin sets back to work on his papers, scribbling his way through his signature more times than he can count. He doesn’t even care how it looks anymore, he just wants to get out of here with plenty of time to spare.

His pen scratches across paper and the clock ticks on to 8:30.