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Ballad of a Broken Sea

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The smell of coal and seawater washes over the docks, birds caw high above, and the sound of horse hooves on stone greets Jungkook, reminding him that he’s home. It’s been ages since he’s set foot on dry land and, as much as he loves the open ocean, it’s nice to be wandering the crowded streets of this dank old city again.

He stretches his hands high over his head, stepping out of the way of a few crewmen hauling crates off the ship. The ground feels a little unsteady beneath him; he always forgets that it takes awhile to adjust to being on land again.

There’s a holler behind him, whoops and cheers, and he looks back to see his friends, Taehyung and Hoseok, rushing down the ramp and onto the docks. They toss their hats in the air, Taehyung pulling Hoseok into a one-armed hug as they sing at the top of their lungs. They’re not even drunk yet and already making fools of themselves. Jungkook can’t wait to see just how raucous they can get when they all gather at their usual spot tonight.

They quiet down when they reach Jungkook, Taehyung locking his arm around Jungkook’s head and scraping his knuckles over his skull. “Oh, it’s good to be home, Jungkook!” he cheers as Jungkook wrestles his way out of his grip and retaliates with a jab to his side. Taehyung dodges away, slamming into Hoseok who simply laughs and shoves him back toward Jungkook. “Smell that dirty city air!”

Both Jungkook and Hoseok move away as Taehyung throws his arms out to his sides with reckless abandon and spins in circles, still shouting as loud as he can. He’s tireless. As excited as the rest of their crew is to be home, most move sluggishly as they unload their cargo.

Hoseok moves around their friend with caution to stand beside Jungkook. “We’re all heading to The Riffraff tonight, right? Can’t abandon tradition.”

Jungkook grabs the back of his friend’s neck, giving him a gentle shake as they both watch Taehyung run across the docks, nearly causing at least five disasters as he goes. A few people send curses in his direction but he doesn’t seem to notice as he makes his way down the street and around the corner.

“Of course,” Jungkook says as Hoseok drops his arm around his shoulder. “What kind of shore leave would it be if we didn’t get sloshed the first night back?”

Hoseok throws his head back as he laughs. “That’s my boy,” he says, giving Jungkook a squeeze. He watches as Jungkook looks back at the ship, his eyes drifting to the water as he loses himself in thought. Hoseok nods. “Right. But you still have to take care of that first, don’t you?”

Jungkook’s lips press into a tight line, letting the sound of the waves slapping against stone drown the anxiety from his mind. He left so many loose ends behind last time, had used his job as an excuse to leave behind his problems. It was only a matter of time before he had to come back and face it.

He forces a smile back onto his face and looks at Hoseok. “Meet me there tonight. You should catch up to Taehyung, make sure he stays out of trouble.”

Hoseok grabs him by the shoulders, then pats him on the back. “Good luck,” he says before heading off in the direction Taehyung had disappeared.

Taking one last look at the ship and suddenly wishing he could get back on and sail away, Jungkook takes a deep breath and turns to face the city.

 

 

It stands over him like a giant bearing down on him, ready to attack, to crush him into the ground. That big house he used to love. The house he would visit on late nights, a little tipsy from drinking with his pals, and climb onto the eaves alongside it.

Oh, all the times he tapped on that window, all the times he sneaked into that room or helped her to sneak out. The trouble they got up to, running around the streets under the full moon, dodging the police. He almost smiles at the memories. Almost.

It takes a long, long moment for him to muster the courage to knock on that redwood door. More times than he can count he turns and rushes off the front step and back down the walkway, only to turn around at the wrought iron gate and come back, his heart pounding and beads of sweat forming on his forehead.

He wipes them away with the sleeve of his brand new shirt, still crisp and alert with that new smell. He had stopped by to buy a nice outfit just for this. Being on the water so often, he doesn’t keep a lot of casual attire around, most of it worn and ill-fitting. Considering the circumstances, he thought it best he dress nice and not in his uniform. She likely wouldn’t appreciate that.

With another deep breath, Jungkook lifts his hand and raps his knuckles against the door—once, twice, thrice, then once more for good measure—while his other hand holds tightly to a bouquet of flowers he’d picked up at the last minute on his way here.

He waits, the sun setting behind him, warm air wisping across his face. Summer evenings like this remind him again of the nights they would spend together. It makes his heart ache to know he’ll never experience those same feelings again, that another man will feel her tireless love instead.

The door swings open in front of and he nearly jumps out of his skin, having been so lost in his thoughts he’d almost forgotten what he was waiting for. His heart pounds, expecting to see her face, but instead meets the eyes of her sister, Areum.

Jungkook opens his mouth to greet her but words escape him. He stares at her weary glare, suddenly feeling a foot tall under that harsh gaze.

“She’s not here, Jungkook,” Areum says, already closing the door in his face.

“Wait!” He reaches out, stopping the door from shutting all the way. With a sigh, Areum pulls it open against and waits for him to speak. “I just want to talk to her. Just one minute, that’s all.”

Areum grits her teeth, eyes rolling, head shaking. “I already said she’s not here.”

“Areum, please—”

“She doesn’t want to see you, Jungkook,” the girl snaps, her dark eyes boring right into his very soul. Her hand grips the door so hard her knuckles turn white.

Jungkook swallows hard, his hands shaking. He can feel he’s on the verge of tears but he’ll be damned if he lets himself cry now. “Just…” He closes his eyes for a moment and gathers his thoughts. “Just give her these for me,” he says, holding the flowers out to Areum. “Please.”

Dead silence surrounds them as she stares at him, jaw taut. She sucks in a sharp breath, nostrils flaring slightly. Her eyes dart to the flowers and back. “Leave, Jungkook. Before I put all the training dad’s given me at the shooting range to use.”

The door slams shut, Jungkook pulling his hands back just in time to keep them from getting smashed. He stands and stares at the door for longer than he can say he’s proud of before turning and making his way back out to the street. His mind reels, heart in his stomach as he walks without watching where he’s going.

There are shouts from cab drivers that he’s sure are directed at him but he pays them no mind. All he sees is her—her alone in that room he used to spend so many nights in, her in the arms of another man, her in that dress he loved so much.

Jungkook darts down a back alley, away from the bustle of the city, and lets loose. He tosses the flowers into a puddle, foot lashing out at a trash can and knocking it on its side. He shouts, a number of expletives flowing from his mouth as he punches and kicks everything in sight, his face red with rage and cheeks wet with salty tears. He doesn’t stop until he makes the mistake of hitting the wall with his fist.

There’s a sickening crack, a flash of blinding hot pain. He grits his teeth and growls through them, clutching his fist to his chest. His back hits the wall and he slides down it, hitting the ground as continues to sob, blood dripping from the torn skin of his knuckles and the salt of his tears stinging the wound as they fall.

He stays there until he calms down, then he wipes the blood on his shirt, dabs away his tears, and walks home as if nothing had happened at all. The flowers lie crushed and forgotten on the ground.

 

 

Jungkook changes back into his uniform before heading to The Riffraff; the bar he, Hoseok, and Taehyung always visit during shore leave. Having just ruined his new clothes and owning very little aside from his uniform, Jungkook decides that it will have to do. Besides, this uniform has done him wonders in the past. Women in that bar practically throw themselves at sailors when they see them. Especially if he wears the hat. They love the hat.

The party is already in full swing by the time he reaches it, sailors dancing with girls in dresses shorter than what they would wear on a typical day, the band playing raucous music, the staff rushing from table to table and zipping along the bar to keep every customer satisfied.

It only takes a moment for Jungkook to spot his friends in all the chaos, thanks mostly to Taehyung standing up on the table and shouting his name, both hands waving him over. Jungkook grins as he pushes his way through the crowd, arms out to his side as Taehyung leaps off the table to pull him into a bear hug.

“My friend!” Taehyung cheers as he grabs a large mug off the table and shoves it into Jungkook’s hands, sloshing a good portion of the contents onto the floor. Jungkook barely manages to keep it from soaking his shirt. “Drink! Celebrate!” His arm hangs loosely around Jungkook’s shoulders as he drunkenly leans in to slur in his ear, “Forget that… sour little tart.” He pokes Jungkook in the chest. “You are a better man than she deserves. Let her—” He hiccups. “Let her have the new one.” Then he shouts his next few words. “I bet he can’t fuck her like you did!”

Jungkook feels his face redden and he quickly begins chugging down his drink, his eyes drifting toward the bar. The only way to be around a drunk Taehyung is to be shitfaced as well, otherwise you’ll be wishing you could jump into shark infested waters just to escape the secondhand embarrassment.

Taehyung’s shout seems to have garnered the attention of at least one of the bartenders, one that Jungkook doesn’t recognize. He stops what he’s doing, towel in hand, soaking up a spilled drink as he watches Taehyung, no doubt measuring up how much he’s had to drink and deciding if he needs to be cut off soon.

Jungkook forgets the drink in his hand for a moment as he watches the bartender. He’s never seen him before, he knows this for a fact. Jungkook would never forget a face like this.

It’s a mixture of soft and sharp features—a delicate nose, somewhat rounded cheeks, but a sharp brow and defined jawline. Raven hair hangs in equally dark eyes as his tongue darts out to wet plump lips. In a room full of beautiful people, this man outshines them all.

The bartender watches Taehyung a moment longer, eyes narrowed, before glancing in Jungkook’s direction. Jungkook promptly looks away, lifting his mug to his lips again. He’s not stupid enough to get himself caught staring at another man. The last time he let that happen his father had made sure to beat any and all temptation out of him.

Jungkook drowns himself in booze and his friends’ stupid jokes, but he feels eyes on him the rest of the night. More than once he glances up to see the bartender watching him. He convinces himself the man just wants to make sure they aren’t causing trouble.

Still, it’s hard to resist the urge to meet those eyes again. There’s something fascinating about them, like if Jungkook looked closely enough he could see a thousand galaxies hidden in those dark irises. Maybe it’s the alcohol talking, but Jungkook doesn’t think he’s ever seen anyone as beautiful as this man.

Once the clock ticks past midnight and eases into the earliest hours of the morning, Jungkook sets yet another empty mug on the table and excuses himself. Despite his better judgment, he has to at least learn this man’s name.

He approaches the bar, pushing his hat back as his eyes land on the bartender. The man has his back turned to the rest of the bar, cleaning under the taps with a rather soiled towel.

Jungkook blinks back his drunkenness and focuses hard on what he wants to say. Maybe this isn’t the best idea but he can’t bring himself to care. He’s drunk, he’s heartbroken, and he’s horny as hell. And the shape of this man’s body is as enticing as his face.

He taps the knuckles of his unbroken hand on the bar as he sits, a bit unstable, on a stool. The bartender turns, looking tired from the rush earlier. Currently the rest of the patrons seem content with their drinks and distract themselves with dancing, leaving the bar wide open for Jungkook.

The bartender gives Jungkook a small smile as he tosses the towel into a nearby bin. “Hey, I don’t know what you think you’re ordering,” the man says, his voice playful and lilting, “but I think it’s time you and friends were cut off.”

Jungkook just laughs. “I’m not ordering anything,” he says, surprisingly clear considering how much he’s drank tonight.

“Good. Should’ve cut you all off earlier but…” The bartender stops and Jungkook can’t be sure if he imagines his eyes dragging down the length of Jungkook’s torso or not. He reaches behind the counter and grabs another towel. “If you’re not ordering, what are you doing over here?”

Jungkook licks his lips as he watches the man clean, gaze lingering on his face for longer than appropriate before he leans back to take in the rest of him. Everything about him is pretty, all the way from his long lashes to his nimble fingers. It takes a moment for Jungkook to gather his thoughts.

“I don’t recognize you,” he finally says, chin resting on his hand, an idiotic grin stretching his lips. “What’s your name?”

The bartender chuckles, head shaking as he procures something else from behind the counter. A glass, which he fills with water and sets in front of Jungkook. “Yours first, sailor.”

Typically, Jungkook would keep the game going, insisting that he had asked first but he so desperately wants to know this beautiful creature’s name that he gives in. “Jungkook,” he says before lifting the glass to his lips, taking a slow sip while he waits.

The bartender stares at him for a moment, the tiniest hint of a smile on his lips. “Jimin,” he says before returning to cleaning the counter, scrubbing at dried spills until the wood shines again.

“Jimin.” Jungkook likes the way it sounds on his tongue. His eyes follow Jimin as he rotates his glass in his hand, swishing the liquids around and around. “What time are you done working, Jimin?” he asks. The more intelligent and sober side of him screams at him to stop because this is far too much of a risk. His drunken haze and nether regions ignore the warnings.

Jimin chuckles, head hanging, his laughter halting his work for a moment. He just shakes his head and keeps cleaning. “Later than you’ll want to wait around for me.”

“I’m a patient man,” says Jungkook. At least the man hasn’t kicked him out yet, called him disgusting, cursed at him. He’s laughing, which Jungkook thinks can only be a good sign. “You’d be surprised.”

“Patient? Or desperate?”

Jungkook laughs, setting his glass back down. He watches as Jimin moves back down the bar to stand across from Jungkook. He leans forward, voice dropping so only the sailor can hear him. “You got a lot of guts picking up guys in a place like this,” he says before leaning back.

A crooked smirk works at the corner of Jungkook’s lips. “What can I say? I’m bold, too.”

“Stupid is the word I would use.” Jimin tosses the towel back where he found it and sets to work on wiping down a stack of dirty dishes instead, his eyes lingering on Jungkook.

“Do you talk to all your customers like that?” Jungkook asks, crossing one leg over the other. He leans forward, chin still resting on his good hand, elbow propped on the bar. He quirks a brow at Jimin, who smirks back at him.

“Just the drunk idiots who don’t know when their advances aren’t welcome.” Jimin puts aside one glass and sets to work on another, his gaze dropping to his own hands now. “If you need, I can point out several people in here without standards that you could pick up much easier.”

Jungkook’s grin only grows wider. He likes when people play hard to get. Or maybe this guy really just isn’t interested in him. The booze clouds his judgment but he can’t seem to keep his mouth shut despite his uncertainty. “I like you, though.”

Jimin lifts a brow at him. “Well, that’s a damn shame.” He nods in the direction of Jungkook’s friends, who continue shouting and singing and laughing loud enough to drown out the rest of the noise in the whole building. “You gonna get back to your friends?” he asks. “Or were you just planning on watching me the rest of the night?”

“I’m more inclined to do the latter,” says Jungkook, earning a scoff from Jimin. He’s still smiling, though.

Jimin sets aside his glass and his towel, placing his hands on the bar as he leans forward. “Come here,” he says, tongue poking out to wet those pink lips again. Jungkook finds himself mesmerized by the sight as he leans in. Jimin moves closer, lips at Jungkook’s ear. “You see that guy by the door over there?”

Jungkook turns to see a rather burly and bored looking man by the front entrance, his chest and arms rippling with muscle every time he moves. He’s more than twice Jungkook’s size, and Jungkook doesn’t consider himself a particularly small man.

“That’s our bouncer,” Jimin whispers in Jungkook’s ear, close enough that Jungkook can actually feel his lips brushing against his skin. He sounds more sultry than Jungkook thinks he means to, his voice low and husky. A complete contradiction with his words. “And if you don’t stop bothering me, I’ll have to ask him to remove you. He’s not a gentle one, sailor.”

Jungkook swallows, a slight shudder running down his spine. He’s not sure if it’s from the the sight of that monster of a man or the way Jimin’s voice sounds right in his ear like that.

He turns to look at Jimin again, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. His mind goes blank and, for once, he’s at a loss for words.

As Jimin smiles at him, lashes batting innocently as if he hadn’t just threatened to have Jungkook’s ass beaten, he grabs his glass of water and gives the bartender a curt nod before staggering back to his friends.

Jungkook doesn’t speak to Jimin again that night, he barely even looks at him. He distracts himself with his friends until a pretty girl with her hair bunched up on the top her head in loose curls asks him to dance, fidgeting with her short, flowing white dress. Of course he says yes, and by the time his friends are all ready to leave Jungkook has the girl on his arm as he walks out the door.

He steps outside, into the cool night air, the girl giggling as she asks him if they should go to his place or hers. Jungkook glances back inside as he holds the door for his stumbling friends and several other drunken sailors.

Beyond them, still standing behind the bar, is Jimin. Dark hair hanging in his eyes, playful smile gone, he stares back at Jungkook for an eternity before the girl manages to yank his attention away.

Jungkook lets the door slam shut without another glance in Jimin’s direction and lets the girl guide him back to her home.

 

 

Jungkook spends the next few days avoiding The Riffraff, despite his friends begging him to accompany them. He’s not sure if it’s shame or fear that keeps him away but he can’t bring himself to go back. He had made a fool out of himself in front of that pretty bartender. Beyond that, he’d taken a huge risk by doing so.

Sober Jungkook recognizes the dangers of flirting with another man like that and he’s lucky it ended with only a few threatening words. The last time he’d been caught in a similar situation it ended with a black eye and several broken bones, as well as lash marks that left him unable to lay on his back for weeks. He still has the scars to remind him of it every day.

Yet somehow Taehyung manages to convince him to go back on his third night of avoiding the place. After he and Hoseok had seen him wandering past her house for the seventh time in a single day they had decided he needed a drink even if they had to force it down his throat.

So Jungkook ends up back at their favorite bar, sitting in their usual table with their usual drinks and the usual music. There’s no sign of Jimin, though, which Jungkook is both disappointed by and thankful for. The bouncer is there again and Jungkook carefully avoids his gaze.

Halfway through the night, Taehyung and Hoseok somehow end up on the stage, singing rather badly next to the band. Jungkook knows their voices aren’t that bad but the booze is severely hindering their singing abilities. He does his best to ignore them as he sips at his drink. He’s barely touched it thus far, not really in the mood to get drunk tonight after what happened last time. Unfortunately, staying sober means his mind can wander to places he doesn’t want it to. Like the past. Like her.

He hasn’t seen her since she ended things with him. All he wants is a chance to understand why she did what she did to him, why it was so easy for her to break his heart like that. It’s all that’s been on his mind lately. Getting drunk and having wild nights out on the town are only a brief distraction from the aches in his chest.

What does manage to wrench his attention away from thoughts of her is a familiar voice floating across the bar. He may have been shitfaced that last time he heard it but he would recognize that voice anywhere—a sound as pleasant as the sea breezes he so enjoys when aboard the ship, a sound like a choir of angels singing just for him.

Jungkook’s eyes land on Jimin as he enters from the back of the bar, hand pushing his hair back as he talks with his coworkers. He’s dressed in all black, just like the first night, and looks just as stunning. Jungkook can’t stop himself from staring though he knows he shouldn’t.

Jimin says something to the bartender on duty before she heads to the back, leaving him alone at the bar. He hasn’t noticed Jungkook yet and for some reason that bothers him. Jimin just sets to work on cleaning dishes, setting them down rather forcefully as he does so, looking agitated and rushed.

Before he can tell himself he’s a damned fool, Jungkook sets his drink down and stands. He doesn’t know why he approaches that bar when he knows he’s not wanted and can tell that Jimin is already in a foul mood. Once again he ignores his better judgment and crosses the room.

Jimin doesn’t seem to notice him—or he pretends not to—even when Jungkook takes a seat across from him. He clears his throat and Jimin scares a little, sucking in a sharp breath as he looks up. His eyes land on Jungkook and he stands up straighter.

“You’re back,” he says, and Jungkook detects no hint of resentment in those words, just a plain and genuine statement. “I haven’t seen you the last couple of nights.”

“You noticed,” Jungkook says, then mentally curses himself for slipping into that stupid flirtatious tone he always takes with people he’s interested in. He hadn’t meant to but Jimin doesn’t seem bothered by it.

Jimin smiles but his eyes looked tired tonight, lacking the same bubbly brightness they’d had on the first night. “Hard to forget someone who leaves an impression like you did,” he says, bringing a light blush to Jungkook’s cheeks. “It’s not everyday I meet a man stupid enough to actually come up here and hit on me. Most just watch from afar, then work out their frustrations on some girl they pick up here.”

Jungkook doesn’t need to ask to know that that’s directed at him. Jimin had seen him leave with that girl the other night. “I liked her,” says Jungkook, and it’s true. She was pretty and fun and they had both enjoyed themselves that night. But he would be lying if he said she compared to Jimin in any way at all. “Nothing wrong with liking men and women.”

Saying the words out loud is terrifying but Jungkook has a feeling Jimin wouldn’t expose him, since he seems to have the same… interests. Besides, those eyes are mesmerizing and Jungkook thinks he could spill all his deepest, darkest secrets staring into them.

Jimin nods as he returns to his duties. “I suppose that’s true.” His shoulders seem to lose some of their tension and his face relaxes. His agitation eases and that makes Jungkook smile. Maybe he stands a chance of not completely repelling Jimin after all. “So,” Jimin starts again before Jungkook can open his big mouth and ruin everything again. “Are you ordering anything this time?”

“No.” Jungkook leans forward on the bar, arms crossed on the surface before him. “No, I don’t think I need that again tonight,” he says, cringing at the memories of all the stupid things he said the other night.

Jimin laughs and it sounds like heaven. Jungkook could wrap himself in that laugh like a blanket it’s so soft and full of warmth.

“Um, listen,” Jungkook says, and Jimin looks up at him through his lashes. That sight shuts Jungkook’s brain down for a moment and he has to collect himself before he can continue. “I’m really sorry about the other night. I’m not usually like that.”

Another laugh. “That’s good,” Jimin says as he looks back down at his hands.

Jungkook swallows, heart racing a little faster than it should. “I was just… very drunk and working through some personal things.”

“Heartbreak?”

Jimin stares through his lashes again and Jungkook leans back a bit, suddenly feeling very vulnerable. He hasn’t opened up to anyone about her—not even his friends, entirely—and he’s not about to spill his guts to the bartender he’d tried to get into bed just two night ago. He just nods. “Something like that.”

“I see it in here all the time,” says Jimin, making Jungkook feel like little more than a cliché. Not only is he the drunken sailor looking for a girl for the night, now he’s also the lovesick fool who cries to the bartender about his ex lover who left him for another man. Wonderful.

He sits in silence for awhile, watching Jimin as he cleans. His friends don’t seem to notice that he’s missing, which he doesn’t mind so much. He rather enjoys sitting here with Jimin, even if they’re not talking, and just admiring his beauty. There’s something about him that draws Jungkook in, captivates him the way something beyond typical human beauty would—like a sunset on the open ocean or the eye of a raging storm as it passes too close to their ship. He’s comforting and serene, yet terrifying and mysterious all at the same time. Jungkook could stare at him all night.

Suddenly, Jimin stops what he’s doing and throws the towel over his shoulder. He looks up at the man across from him and for a moment Jungkook fears he’s about to call the bouncer over. Instead, he just asks in a quiet voice, “Are you good at keeping secrets?”

Jungkook’s eyes narrow in curiosity. “Look at me,” he says, meeting Jimin’s gaze with the same conviction he always seems to have. “Think about everything I just told you. My whole life is a secret.”

Jimin nods, looking as though Jungkook really has made a good point. He reaches behind the counter and sets a small notepad on the wooden surface. “I’m not working tomorrow night,” he says as he scribbles something down. He tears the first sheet of paper off and tosses the rest back it came from. “Meet me at this address at midnight.”

With a careful glance around the room, Jimin slides the paper over to Jungkook, who gives it a quick glance before slipping it into his pocket. “What is it?” he asks, suddenly very intrigued by whatever secrets Jimin has to keep.

“You’ll find out,” says Jimin, then gestures at the table of sailors. “You better get back to your friends. I think they finally noticed you’re missing.”

Jungkook looks back at his booth where Taehyung and Hoseok stand with their arms around each others’ shoulder, talking louder than necessary. He hears his name mentioned more than a few times so he stands up and looks at Jimin. “I think you might be right.” He pats his pocket where he’s hidden the paper and smiles at Jimin. “Tomorrow night.”

“Tomorrow night,” Jimin repeats with a smile. He slides the towel off his shoulder as Jungkook turns on his heel and heads back to his table. The last thing he hears before he’s out of earshot of Jimin is a low, “Have a good night, sailor.”

Jungkook goes home alone tonight, but the emptiness and anxiety he usually feels in his chest doesn’t dare to rear its head. He falls asleep soundly to thoughts of what Jimin has in store for him.

 

 

Jungkook spends the next day getting the clothes he’d just bought cleaned and the bloodstain removed. He also stops by a barber while he waits and gets a trim. It isn’t much but his hair was getting a little too long for his taste—and probably the taste of his captain as well, considering he’s been breaking dress code for months now.

The sun is setting by the time he heads home, his new clothes thrown over his shoulder as he strolls along the bustling street. Horses and carts clatter by him, followed by rattling old cars that he’s surprised don’t fall apart in the middle of the road.

He passes through the open air market, taking in the scents of the many types of food around him. The air is warm with the lightest breeze and he feels like he could float away. He’s been in a pathetically good mood since last night, having managed to somehow scrape his chances with Jimin off the barroom floor and secure a… date? Is it a date? He shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

Jungkook kicks a pebble out of his path, smile on his face as he turns his face up at the wind. Merchants try hawking their wares at him but he turns each of them down with a polite “no, thank you” before moving on, until a small girl steps up to him.

She can’t be much more than twelve years old as she holds up a bouquet of flowers. “Flowers for your wife?” she asks before rattling off prices she has obviously practiced more than a few times.

Jungkook refrains from laughing and bends down to her level. “I actually don’t have a wife,” he tells her. “So I don’t know who I could possibly buy flowers for.”

“Surely, you must have someone,” she says, hugging the flowers to her chest. “A handsome sailor like you!”

Now he laughs, standing up straight again. He reaches into his pocket for his wallet, looking at the flowers adorning her booth. His eyes land on a bouquet of deep purples and blues. “How about those?” he says to the girl, counting out his cash as she retrieves them for him.

“Thank you, sir,” she says as they trade the flowers for money. She gives him a dramatic curtsy as he thanks her, holding the flowers up to his face to breathe in the scent. “I’m sure she’ll love them, whoever the lucky lady is.”

Jungkook’s lips curl up at one corner as he looks at the bouquet. “Yeah. I’m sure.”

With a quick goodbye he sets off again, back to the bunkhouse where he’s sure his friends with interrogate him about where he’s going tonight. He’ll have to find an excuse or just wait until they all go to sleep. Likely the former since they don’t seem to sleep during shore leave, too busy partying into the night.

He turns down a familiar street, taking a detour from the main road. The wide road narrows into a street small enough for a single car to pass through, though none bother too. The cobblestone sticks up in some places and dips down in others, making for a shaky ride, so he steps out into the middle of the street, kicking at a puddle as he goes.

Kids play in well kept front yards as he passes them, bouquet in hand and heart racing a little faster as the house comes nearer and nearer.

He stops at the wrought iron gate, lips pursed together, hand growing sweaty where he grips the flowers. He reaches up, taking hold of the gate and pushing it slightly open, then stops. His eyes land on the top floor of the house, the window he knows belongs to one half of her room.

“Fuck you,” he utters under his breath before yanking the gate shut again and walking away. He doesn’t spare a single glance back.

 

 

Jungkook checks the address on the paper again as he makes his way down the pitch black street. Most of the street lamps here are busted, leaving him with little more than the moon to light his way. He squints at the buildings as he passes them, checking the numbers until he thinks he finds a match.

With a quick glance, Jungkook finds no sign of Jimin—no sign of anyone—nearby, and he starts to fear that he either ended up in the wrong place or he’s been played for a fool.

The building in front of him looks abandoned but he steps forward anyway, peeking in through the window. It’s just as dead inside as it is outside, so he steps back and sighs, head lolling back to stare up at the moon as he silently curses it.

A door creaks somewhere and he jumps, fist clenching tightly around the bouquet of flowers as he readies himself for an attack. He watches as light spills into the alley alongside the building, and out of a very hidden doorway steps Jimin, a crooked smile on his lips.

He wears a crisp black button up, a deep red vest over it and nicely fitted black pants. Jungkook, despite his brand new outfit, feels more than under dressed in comparison to Jimin.

“You made it,” says Jimin, leaning against the corner of the building. “Come on. This way.”

Jungkook follows as Jimin turns on his heel and leads him back through the doorway, and down a long set of stairs. He glances around as he catches up with the other man. They pass through a narrow hallway, at the end of which stands a stocky man and an equally stocky woman, both of whom seem threatening until they see Jimin, smiling at him like he’s the sun.

“Sailor boy’s with me,” says Jimin, reaching back to take Jungkook’s hand without looking. His fingers brush over the flowers and he glances back as they step past the guards. “Ooh, what’s this?”

Another door shuts behind them, leaving them in a tiny enclosed space music spilling in from one side beyond a thick red curtain. Jungkook glances toward the noise before looking at Jimin. He raises the flowers. “Um, I thought you might like these,” he says as Jimin happily takes the flowers, raising them to his nose, his eyes locked on Jungkook.

“Thank you, Jungkook,” Jimin says, those mesmerizing orbs darting to Jungkook’s lips for the smallest moment.

In this proximity Jungkook notices details he hadn’t noticed earlier, like the glitter on Jimin’s eye lids and blush on the apples of his cheeks and the dark crimson feathers braided into his wavier than usual hair. It’s all very glamorous in comparison to his barefaced beauty during his bar shifts, and Jungkook wonders why he’s so heavily made up tonight just to see him.

Jimin looks down at the flowers, a gleeful smile gracing his lips as he turns them over and over in his hands. “They’re beautiful.” His voice is little more than a whisper, barely audible over the music pouring into their little space.

“So are you.”

Those eyes fly back up to Jungkook’s face just as he starts to flush red, his mouth betraying his mind again. He hadn’t meant to say what was on his mind but he seems to have just as poor control over his tongue when he’s sober as he does when drunk.

“You clean up pretty well, sailor,” Jimin states, his cheeky grin returning, and Jungkook decides that’s the best he’ll get in return from the other man. “What’s that all about, anyway?” He nods towards Jungkook’s broken hand, still wrapped in bandages.

Jungkook hides the hand behind his back. “Nothing,” he murmurs. “Just hurt myself unloading some cargo.”

Jimin nods, though he doesn’t look convinced, so Jungkook wracks his brain for a change of subject.

“So, what is this?” he asks, gesturing toward the curtain.

“It’s my night job.”

“Isn’t the bar your night job?”

“This is my other night job,” says Jimin as he steps forward and pulls back the curtain with his free hand, the other still clutching the flowers close. He gestures for Jungkook to step through. “It only stays open a few hours a night. And it’s very exclusive. We have a specific set of clientele.”

All it takes for Jungkook to understand what he means is a single glance around the room once he steps inside. The booths are lined with couples unlike what Jungkook sees in his usual bar. Men with their arms around other men, women kissing other women. Several watch the stage before them where a flamboyantly dressed man with peacock feathers pinned to his hat belts out a long note.

Jungkook’s jaw drops open as he takes in the sight of the low lit room, the cigarette smoke drifting through the air. A waiter passes them, sending a quiet hello to Jimin with an air of familiarity. Jimin gives him a nod but his eyes stay on Jungkook, a smile adorning his lips.

“What— what do you do here?” Jungkook asks when he can collect his thoughts again. He looks at Jimin, who just stares back at him with those glitter-dusted eyes, sparkling with some hidden mischief.

Jimin nods his head toward the stage as he lets the curtain fall shut behind them, his hand brushing through his hair and jostling the feathers about. “I’m up after him.”

Jungkook swivels his head to look between the man on stage and Jimin, eyes widening. “You’re a singer?” He follows along as Jimin takes hold of his good hand and leads him through the lounge, past several staff and patrons alike who greet him by name.

“When I have the time,” Jimin tells him as they come to a stop beside a reserved table right in front of the stage. He gives the singer onstage a little wave before pulling out a chair for Jungkook. “I have to finish getting ready but I’ll come sit with you after a few songs.”

“Alright.” Jungkook just gives him a nod and sits down. He looks around the lounge again, still baffled by his surroundings. He’s never seen a place like this, where people are so… free and open. No one here seems to have a care in the world. They’re all so happy in their booths, wrapped up in each other’s arms or swaying to the beat of the music.

The flowers appear in front of Jungkook and Jimin leans over his shoulder, lips at Jungkook’s ear. “Thanks again,” he whispers before pecking him on the cheek. Then the flowers and Jimin are gone, waltzing off to a door beside the stage. Jungkook watches him go, taking in every detail he can about his figure in that outfit before he disappears.

He turns his attention to the singer in front of him, who sings one more song before saying a hundred thank yous and blowing a thousand kisses to the crowd. Jungkook watches him as he steps off the stage to meet Jimin, leaning in to whisper something to him before rushing backstage.

Jimin chuckles, head shaking at whatever he’d said. He sends a wink in Jungkook’s direction as he steps into the spotlight, greeting the patrons before the band—which Jungkook had somehow entirely missed seeing until now—starts the first note of a familiar song.

Jungkook knows he’s heard this song, the words all playing out in his head before Jimin even sings them, but he can’t place where he knows it from or why. He can’t think of anything except the way Jimin’s lips move as he sings, the sound of his voice—like honey, sweet to Jungkook’s ear—and that falsetto he seems to execute with so little effort.

He looks at peace up on that stage, pure, raw emotion behind the words as they tumble from his lips, and Jungkook wonders how he’s gone this long in life without hearing this man. He can’t imagine any song being the same after Jimin sings it, Jungkook would only crave to hear it in his voice again.

The spotlight ignites the sparkles of glitter across Jimin’s eyes as they lock with Jungkook’s for a moment before Jungkook drags his gaze over the rest of the man’s form, over the little details embroidered on his vest that he hadn’t noticed before and the many rings that adorn his fingers.

The music fades into the background as Jungkook finds himself caught up in Jimin’s eyes for the thousandth time since they met. He leans forward, elbow on the table, chin on his hand. He’s sure the smile on his face is the cheesiest Jimin has ever seen, but the singer doesn’t seem to mind, gaze still on Jungkook as he draws out the last note of his song.

Jimin’s eyes flicker back to the crowd as the room cheers for him. He takes a deep bow, beaming at the patrons. He’s clearly happiest up on that stage, and that makes Jungkook’s heart swell. He barely even knows this man but he feels himself falling into a deep infatuation faster than he’s comfortable with.

A hand comes down on the table, slamming a glass down in front of him and sloshing a good part of the drink. Jungkook jumps back and looks up to see the earlier singer grinning down at him. He takes a seat across from Jungkook and crosses one leg over the other.

“You must be Jimin’s sailor boy,” he says as he takes a sip of his own drink. “I’m Seokjin.”

Jungkook pushes the smile back onto his face and raises the glass to Seokjin. “Jungkook.”

“I know.” Seokjin toasts to him and takes another drink. His peacock hat is nowhere to be seen now, his dark hair disheveled and a little sweaty. He nods towards Jimin as another song starts, louder and more upbeat than the first. “He told me how you met.” He leans forward. “You’ve got guts, kid.”

“I was drunk,” Jungkook admits, his eyes drifting back to Jimin. “And he is… irresistible.”

Seokjin chuckles, then takes another drink. “Never heard anything more true,” he says. He sets his glass down and gives Jungkook this look he can’t quite read, eyes narrowing but with a hint of mischief behind them. “You’re not the jealous type, are you, Jungkook?”

Jungkook looks at him. Yes. “No.”

“Good,” says Seokjin as he stands back up. “He gets a lot of attention here. Most of it unwanted.” He chugs down the rest of his drink as Jungkook’s eyes drift over the crowd, wondering who here might be the culprits Seokjin speaks of. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. Jimin’s a loyal man, no matter what it may seem like when he plays his part onstage.”

The singer leaves with a small wave, leaving Jungkook to ponder his words. Play his part onstage? What in the world does that mean and why would it make Jungkook jealous?

As if to answer his question, Jimin steps off stage, singing high, chipper notes as he walks around the crowd. As he does, he reaches out to those sitting at the nearby tables, touching their hands or their cheeks. It doesn’t bother Jungkook until he stops at one table, his arm looping behind one man’s neck as he finds a place to rest on his lap.

Jungkook feels his fist clench of its own will as he watches Jimin sing to the man, nuzzling close to him as he does. It only lasts a moment before Jimin hops off his lap, sending a playful wink at the stranger before moving on.

Eventually, Jimin reaches Jungkook’s side of the room and touches the right side of his face, sliding his hand under his chin and around to brush his knuckles over Jungkook’s left cheek. He moves away before Jungkook can respond, back onto the stage as the song finishes.

Thoughts of that other man soon drift from Jungkook’s mind as Jimin looks at him again, hand pushing his hair back the way he always does. His tongue slips out to wet his lips, then he sends another wink in Jungkook’s direction.

Just like that he’s under Jimin’s spell again, captivated by every curve of his body, every speck of glitter that highlights his face. And those damn, deep, hypnotic eyes.

 

As the lounge clears out and the staff sets to work on cleaning up spilled drinks and abandoned cigarette butts, Jungkook finds himself unsure if he should stick around or if Jimin expected him to leave once they closed. He had visited Jungkook between his performances but hadn’t mentioned anything about plans afterward, so Jungkook stands by his table and waits, leaning back against the stage.

“Hey.” It’s Seokjin, making his way toward Jungkook, hair wet and makeup removed, a robe wrapped loosely around him. “He’s freshening up in the back. Those stage lights make you sweat worse than you’d think.” He chuckles, tousling his hair as he continues on his way. “Should be done in a couple of minutes,” he calls back, “unless you wanna join him. Second door on the left!”

Jungkook stares after Seokjin as heads for the empty bar, knocking his knuckles against the bar to get the attention of a man Jimin had said was their boss earlier. Namjoon is his name, if Jungkook remembers right.

Seokjin leans over the counter as Namjoon turns to him, murmuring a few quiet words before Namjoon leans in for a kiss, fingers pushing strands of Seokjin’s hair out of his eyes. Seokjin reaches up, touches Namjoon’s cheek as he whispers something to him, then walks away with a smile.

That was not what Jungkook expected to see tonight. There had been no sign of Namjoon or Seokjin being involved in any way whatsoever the entirety of the night, and Jungkook has been here for hours. He has no idea how they manage to remain that professional during business hours. If Jungkook had that kind of self control he never would have made a fool of himself in front of Jimin in The Riffraff. Then again, he also wouldn’t be here, so maybe his lack of self control can be used for good after all.

A few more minutes pass and Jungkook begins humming to himself the first song Jimin sang, tapping his foot to the slow beat. Eventually Namjoon and Seokjin leave, saying goodbye to him as they go, and Jungkook finds himself entirely alone in the now clean lounge.

It’s a little eerie, but that soon passes when Jimin’s voice calls to him. He turns just as the other man enters the room from the door beside the stage.

The glitter is mostly gone from his face, some of it still clinging to his lashes, the feathers braided into his hair nowhere to be seen, and he wears a loose white button up that hangs low. His feet remain bare, toes sticking out from under black pants far too long for him.

“What do you think?” Jimin asks, and Jungkook says the first words that come to mind as his eyes drag over the length of Jimin’s body.

“You’re beautiful.”

Jimin chuckles, then pushes his hair back—Jungkook’s starting to adore that habit of his. “I mean about this place.” He gestures around them. “About my performance tonight.”

Ah, right, of course that’s what he meant. Still, Jungkook means what he said. Jimin looks remarkable like this. He looks astonishing no matter what but there’s something intriguing about his raw beauty, no makeup or fancy clothes to try to enhance it. Just Jimin, untouched, unblemished.

Jungkook clears his throat, shaking the thoughts from his head as he finally meets the other man’s eyes. “It’s amazing,” he says, then licks his lips. “I… never thought a place like this could exist. It’s nice to be somewhere I don’t have to worry about everything I say.”

“It’s liberating, isn’t it?” Jimin smiles. “And the music? What did you think of Seokjin and I?” He nods toward the stage, eyes landing on the microphone. “We usually have other singers but it was just us tonight. You should see it here on the weekends. That’s when the real party happens.”

Jungkook swallows. “I think you’re a fantastic singer,” he says as Jimin looks at him again. “Do you always… interact with the crowd like that?”

For some reason, Jimin’s lips crook up into an impish grin. “It keeps them coming back for more. Most of them don’t take it seriously, they know it’s for show. But they still have fun with it. What?” He cocks his head to one side. “Are you jealous it wasn’t your lap I sat on?”

“Maybe a little.” It’s hard to be angry about it when Jimin stares at him like this, lashes fluttering, hands on his hips.

“Well,” says Jimin as he steps closer. His lips stop mere inches from Jungkook’s, eyes taking in all the details of the sailor’s face. “I had something else in mind for you tonight.”

Jungkook sucks in a deep breath as he reaches up and leans in, then stops himself at the last second. His hand hovers near Jimin’s cheek as the other man moves even closer but never quite touches. “I’d like to kiss you, if that’s alright.”

“You’re not supposed to ask.”

With that Jungkook’s hand comes to rest on Jimin’s cheek, sliding to cup the back of his neck as their lips meet. It’s like nothing Jungkook has ever felt before. The touch of Jimin’s lips sends him to a different world entirely. They feel unbelievably soft under his own, yet filled with a fiery passion as the singer’s hands slide over Jungkook’s shoulders, arms slipping around his neck. He presses close, body fitting with Jungkook’s as they kiss.

That tongue that seems to tease Jungkook every night pokes out to dance across his lower lip and he parts them without any resistance, letting Jimin plunge into his mouth, tongue pressing down on his own. His free (and broken) hand slips around the other man’s waist, pressing against the small of his back and holding him close.

Jungkook feels light as air, like he could float away. He’s had his fair share of kisses in his lifetime but none compare to this, none have sent his heart racing a million beats a minute the way Jimin does. All the warm bodies he’s had in bed next to him and yet Jimin’s feels like the only one he’s ever needed.

The kiss ends with Jungkook catching Jimin’s lower lip between his own, giving it a tug before they split apart for air. He holds on, keeps Jimin tight against himself.

Jimin smiles up at him, that same damn smile he couldn’t resist when they first met. “I… have a private room here,” he says, and Jungkook thinks Jimin grows just the slightest bit bashful as those words escape him. His fingers lace with Jungkook’s. “You don’t have to stay but if you’d like—”

Jungkook silences him with a kiss, tugging him closer even when there’s already no space left between them.

It takes a moment for the shock of the sudden kiss to pass and by the time it does, Jungkook has already released him. Jimin huffs out a tiny laugh before tugging on Jungkook’s hand, walking backwards toward the door he had come through earlier.

Jimin shuts the door behind them, then leads Jungkook to the second door on the left—just as Seokjin had said. Jungkook wonders how differently the night would have turned out had he acted on Seokjin’s words and come in here earlier.

They step inside, Jimin letting go of Jungkook’s hand to close the door and light up a small lamp.

Jimin’s room is draped in deep reds and purples, like something you would see in a king’s quarters. A candle flickers atop a vanity, a few feet from the bouquet of flowers from Jungkook, and a lamp beside the queen size bed gives off a dim glow.

Jungkook has it in his right mind to question why Jimin even bothers working at The Riffraff if he has all of this here at the lounge, but he keeps it to himself. Instead he just lets out one long whistle. “This is nice.”

“You get treated like royalty here when you’re one of the most prized assets,” Jimin says, and Jungkook is tempted to tease him about his head getting a little too big for his own good. All thoughts of that vanish when Jimin moves to stand in front of him again, hands sliding over his chest to rest on either side of his neck.

Jungkook’s hands bunch up the front of Jimin’s shirt as he pulls him into another kiss. He hears a sharp intake of breath from Jimin, feels hands slide up to tangle in his hair.

Any bit of resolve Jungkook had left in him dissipates with a flick of Jimin’s hips, sending him into a frenzied need to taste every inch of the man before him. Jimin seems to have a similar pressing desire to get Jungkook naked as fast as he can, hands working to undo the buttons of his shirt.

It takes them a few moments, both too distracted with kisses and subtle little love bites and hands straying below the waistline, but they manage to remove any barriers between them. Their clothes lie strewn across the floor as they topple onto the bed, limbs tangled around each other, mouths leaving marks across every bit of one another’s skin they can reach.

They tangle themselves in the sheets, hands roaming free, exploring each other. Jungkook’s back arches away from the bed when Jimin’s head finds its way between his thighs, and he bites his lip to keep pitiful moans from escaping. No one has ever driven him quite as crazy as Jimin has and, oh, the things he does with his mouth.

He has to stop the other man before he finishes too soon, and it isn’t until they’re kissing again—Jimin beneath Jungkook, one delicate hand tucked between their bodies, wrist flicking in perfect strokes—that Jungkook has a moment of panic.

“Wait— fuck, wait—” He pulls back, Jimin letting go and staring up at him with worry in his eyes. Jungkook swallows hard, finding it difficult to meet Jimin’s eyes now. “I don’t—” He closes his eyes and sighs. “I’ve never done this… with another man before.”

He hates the way his face heats up at those words and he only hopes it’s dark enough in the room that Jimin can’t see how red he’s turning.

A hand cups his chin, turning his face to Jimin’s again. A soft purr of his name coaxes his eyes open as he meets dark irises encompassing blown pupils. Jimin smiles as he leans in to kiss him. “I’ll show you,” he whispers against Jungkook’s lips.

Jungkook easily slips back into the blissful state only Jimin’s lips can reduce him to, his mind still worrying about what’s to come but his body relaxing into it.

Jimin slows down their pace after that, guiding Jungkook as he continues to decorate him with soft kisses. It doesn’t take long for Jungkook’s worries to vanish once Jimin’s legs wrap around his waist, his fingers pressing into Jungkook’s back, that pretty face buried in his neck.

The silence of the room breaks with the melody of their voices, of breathless gasps of each other’s names and soft mewls of pleasure as they lose themselves in the feeling of their bodies melding together.

No one has ever felt quite so right in Jungkook’s arms before, and he thinks he feels himself falling in love as he falls into Jimin.

 

The afterglow fades slowly, Jungkook basking in pure euphoria as he lies beside a tuckered out Jimin. He stares up at the rich fabrics draped overhead, his hand finding Jimin’s to intertwine their fingers.

Jimin gives his hand a soft squeeze before he slides closer, his breath tickling the skin of Jungkook’s shoulder as he leans his forehead against the sailor’s temple.

Jungkook turns his head to look at Jimin in the faint glow of the lamplight. His hair, slightly damp with sweat, sticks to the side of his face and Jungkook pushes it back for him.

A sleepy smile crosses Jimin’s lips though his eyes remain closed. Jungkook plants a kiss on his forehead before turning his attention to his surroundings. He’s sure Jimin is exhausted from work and from, well, their personal activities, so he lets him rest.

The candle on the vanity has flickered out by now and he can see a faint reflection of the them in the mirror through the doorway of the bathroom. The flowers he brought sit in a vase, fresh water soaking the trimmed ends, blues and purples matching nicely with the colors of the room.

Then something dawns on Jungkook.

“Why do you have this room here?” he asks, taking another glance around. He hadn’t noticed before but it seems to be devoid of any necessities aside from the bed and bathroom. This can’t be Jimin’s home.

Jungkook sits upright and stares down at the other man, his heart suddenly racing faster than it had when Jimin first brought him in here. “You’re not— This place isn’t—” He swallows. “I mean, do you bring… other people in here…?”

Jimin open his eyes to stare up at Jungkook. His brows knit together as his drowsy brain sorts out Jungkook’s words, then he laughs. “Calm down,” he says, running his hand along Jungkook’s spine. “I’m not a whore. I don't get paid to sleep with people, if that’s what you’re asking. Lay back down.”

Jungkook’s heart slows back to its normal, steady beat. He settles back in beside Jimin. It’s not uncommon for young men and women to take work like that if they can’t make a living elsewhere. He’s used to it. He sees it all the time, but thinking of Jimin doing that just to survive makes his stomach tie itself into knots.

“Then why do you have this place?” he asks again, searching for anything he can to distract himself from that thought. He rolls onto his side to find Jimin staring at him, eyes hooded and tired as he reaches over to trail his finger along Jungkook’s nose.

“Sometimes work here can get crazy, especially for Seokjin and I. We don’t just stand up there and sing, we perform, we entertain. We’re all over that lounge some nights and it gets exhausting. So we each have a room here in case we’re too tired to go home.” His thumb brushes over Jungkook’s lips. “Safer that way than wandering the streets in the middle of the night. I’ve been mugged more times than I can count.”

Jungkook presses a kiss to Jimin’s fingers, bringing a smile to the other man’s lips. He hugs Jimin close, burying his face in his hair as Jimin peppers little love bites across Jungkook’s chest and shoulder.

“I can live with that,” Jungkook says, earning another chuckle from Jimin. “If it keeps you safe.”

Jimin tangles his legs with Jungkook’s and nuzzles his face against his throat, lips working lazily over the delicate skin there. “It can keep you safe for tonight, too,” he murmurs, his voice sending vibrations through Jungkook’s throat and a tremor down his spine. “Sleep, Jungkook. Hold me.”

And he does. Jungkook pulls Jimin tight against his chest and holds on through the night until they both drift off, the steady beat of Jimin’s heart lulling him into a deep sleep.

 

 

Jungkook spends the next several nights crafting new and more creative excuses to leave his friends at The Riffraff a little early so he can accompany Jimin to the lounge.

He sits at his table by the stage as Seokjin, Jimin, and an unfamiliar girl take their turns up on the stage. Jimin does his rounds through the crowd as usual but this time he makes a point of stopping to sit on the edge of Jungkook’s table, fingers carding through his hair as he sings.

It takes more effort than he would like to admit for Jungkook to refrain from grabbing Jimin and kissing him right there in front of everyone. He succeeds, though, and the rest of the night sails smoothly onward to closing.

Same as always, the band leaves first, followed by the waitstaff, then the singers and Namjoon, leaving Jimin and Jungkook alone. The only difference is that tonight they don’t rush off to bed as soon as the door closes behind Seokjin and the lock clicks shut.

Tonight, Jimin turns on the record player behind the bar and plays one slow song after the next, the singers crooning out a mix of happy, lovesick lyrics and songs of heartbreak and loneliness, both of which Jungkook relates to more than likes to acknowledge.

Jungkook secures Jimin in his arms as they turn in slow circles in the middle of the lounge, swaying to the music. This, really, is just an excuse to hold each other.

At the risk of ruining the moment, Jungkook breaks the silence, a question that’s been gnawing at him the last few nights finally bubbling to the surface. “Jimin?”

The singer hums in response, his head resting on Jungkook’s shoulder, eyes closed.

“Who’s that customer that’s here every night?” he asks, trying not to let himself become jealous when there’s really nothing to be jealous of yet. “The one you always… stop and sing to.”

“Oh,” Jimin doesn’t move from where he rests against the sailor, perfectly content with their current position, “that’s Yoongi. He’s been coming here for years, even before I got this job.” He gives Jungkook a gentle squeeze. “Don’t worry about him. Keeps his hands to himself. He’s very quiet, too. I think he’s just lonely.”

Jungkook can relate to that. He trusts Jimin, so he lets this Yoongi drift from his mind and just enjoys the feeling of Jimin’s lithe frame fitted against his.

The song that fills the room is a familiar one—Jungkook grew up listening to it—and he finds himself singing along to the tawdry lyrics, lips pressed close to Jimin’s ear.

Jimin smiles against Jungkook’s shoulder. “I didn’t know you could sing. You have a nice voice.”

“Sailors are multi-talented, Jimin,” Jungkook retorts with a chuckle. “You’d be surprised by all the things we can do.”

“Can you dance?” Jimin leans back to look up at him. “Not this slow dance stuff. Anyone can do that. Can you really dance?”

“Of course I can. Again, I’m a sailor, Jimin. We have to be good at dancing to impress the ladies when we’re in port.”

Jimin’s smile fades for the briefest of moments but Jungkook still notices it. His heart sinks, Jimin’s eyes flitting away for a moment before he looks at Jungkook again. “Do you find someone to keep you warm in every port?”

Jungkook would be lying if he said no. He hates feeling lonely, which is how he’s felt most of his life, especially after she left him. Finding company for even just a night kept him from remembering just how alone he truly is. Being out on the water most days of his life only adds to that feeling of isolation. If he didn’t love the ocean and his friends so much he would find another job, maybe something that keeps him here with Jimin.

He swallows and looks down at Jimin, a gentle smile playing at his lips. “I won’t if I know you’re here, waiting for me.”

“Then I’ll wait for you.” Jimin stares up at him, all dark eyes and long lashes and full lips curving into a smile. He leans his head on Jungkook’s shoulder again, arms sliding around him to pull the other man into an embrace.

They stop swaying to the music, Jungkook wrapping Jimin up tight and kissing the top of his head. His hands curl into the back of Jimin’s shirt, face nuzzling into his hair. If he could freeze time right here, he would.

The same thought that always passes through his mind when he holds Jimin invades his innermost thoughts once more. Nothing has ever felt more right than this—Jimin in his arms, the steady beat of his heart just a tad faster than Jungkook’s, the soft sounds of Jimin breathing. How he wishes he’ll never have to let go, that he’ll never have to step foot on that ship again and leave Jimin behind.

Jimin leans back to smile up at Jungkook again as the music continues in the background, long forgotten once Jungkook loses himself in those eyes.

“You should know,” Jimin says as he brushes his fingers along Jungkook’s jaw, up and up and up until they slide into his hair, “I fall in love very easily.” His thumb traces Jungkook’s cheekbone. “Don’t go breaking my heart, sailor.”

Jungkook nestles against his hand, eyes closing as he turns his head to press a kiss to Jimin’s palm. He slides his hand along Jimin’s arm, lacing his fingers with the other man’s. Their eyes meet again and he smiles before peppering kisses along Jimin’s wrist. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” he whispers as his lips travel along the length of Jimin’s arm.

Jimin closes his eyes, a blissful smile gracing his lips as Jungkook pulls him close, his kisses reaching Jimin’s shoulder now, moving up onto his neck.

In the background the music jumps to a faster-paced song, an upbeat tune like something Jungkook would hear in The Riffraff while his friends dance like fools.

Jimin bites his lip as their eyes meet and he smirks. “Show me what those dancing feet can do, Jungkook,” he says, and it melts Jungkook’s heart to hear his name rather than ‘sailor’ for once.

They let go of each other, Jungkook making a dramatic show of cracking his neck and stretching in preparation for their dance. He holds out one hand, which Jimin takes with a laugh, and pulls the other man back in.

He does impress Jimin after all, keeping up with every new step the singer throws at him without missing a beat.

They dance for far too long, both exhausted by the time the record stops, their feet aching. And they laugh until they can’t breathe, stumbling back to Jimin’s room as they dot clumsy kisses across each other’s faces.

Jungkook would trade the world for this night to never end.

 

 

Jungkook sits on his bed, staring out the door at the groaning sailors as they pass by, all but him suffering the aftermath of yet another late night. He had slept well, cocooned in the thick red blankets of Jimin’s bed, before heading out early to sneak into his own bed before the others woke up.

He hadn’t fallen back asleep after that, just sprawled across his bunk bed and stared up at the ceiling, a childlike grin on his face as he thought about Jimin. Being the first awake, however, also meant that he was the first to receive the news from their captain; they’re leaving almost a week earlier than planned, cutting the time he has left with Jimin down to a mere two nights.

Hoseok passes by the door, then backs up to stare in at Jungkook. “Hey.” His voice is hesitant, unsure as he approaches his shipmate. “Everything alright?”

Is it really that obvious?

Jungkook sighs and rubs his hands over his face. “Yeah, I’m good.” He stands, patting Hoseok on the back as he passes him. “I’m heading out. Need to clear my head. I… had a long night.”

Hoseok just watches him go, knowing better than to pry when Jungkook is stressed. His friends have learned the hard way that Jungkook likes to keep his thoughts to himself and if you push him too hard, he’ll snap. When he snaps, it isn’t pretty. He just likes his privacy.

So he gets dressed and sets off into the city alone, walking aimlessly down the streets and looking for nothing in particular. He buys a few necessities for when they leave again but all he really wants is to see Jimin. Unfortunately, he has no idea where Jimin live when he’s not staying at the lounge and he knows it’s too early in the day for him to be at either of his jobs.

Some part of almost thinks it’s a good idea to stop by The Riffraff or the lounge to see if anyone can tell him how to find Jimin, then he reminds himself of the risk of asking around his usual bar and that no one spends time in the lounge during the day.

He settles for wandering a few minutes more, which turns into a few hours, which turns into him sitting on a pier until the sun sets. With his bones aching from sitting still too long, Jungkook heads back to the bunkhouse, stashes away his things, and makes for The Riffraff with his friends.

 

As always, Jimin looks breathtaking clad in all black, zipping from customer to customer to bring them their drinks. He scolds a few men who try to get their drinks for free or spill alcohol over his freshly cleaned counter but he never falters, never slows down until everyone is happily inebriated and dancing very poorly to the live band.

Jungkook makes his way through the crowd once his friends are well on their way to alcohol poisoning and won’t notice that he’s missing. He bumps into a few drunks and gives polite nods to a number of pretty girls that vie for his attention, but his eyes stay on Jimin.

A man stumbles away from the bar and Jungkook takes his seat, tapping his fingers against the wood as he waits for Jimin to finish up someone’s order. He leans his head on his hand, just like always, and watches the bartender work. He’s sure the adoration in his eyes would be easy for anyone to spot if they cared to look. He’s also sure everyone here is too drunk to notice, so he indulges himself, gaze drifting over every bit of Jimin that he can see from his position.

Jimin exchanges a few words with the man before him as he slides him his drink, then thanks him when he leaves a generous tip. Jimin slips the cash into his back pocket as the customer walks away, then turns to Jungkook. He beams as he approaches him, his face glowing, a halo of black locks hanging down in his eyes.

“Drinking tonight, sailor?” he asks, hands flattening on the bar before Jungkook. He leans forward, just enough to be at least somewhat close to the other man but not enough to arouse suspicion.

Jungkook shakes his head. He tries to smile. He wants to smile. Just looking at Jimin makes his heart skip beats, makes him feel like he could float away to heaven right now. But the news from this morning weighs heavily on him and looking at Jimin only reminds him that he won’t see those beautiful eyes, that charming smile, that ravishing gaze again for a very, very long time.

After a moment of Jungkook’s sorrowful silence Jimin’s smile begins to fade. His head tilts to one side, eyes darting over Jungkook’s face as he tries to work out what the problem could be. “What’s wrong?”

Jungkook peers up at the other man, head down, looking at him through his lashes now. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, then faces Jimin again. “My captain…” With a glance around the bar to make sure no one is looking, Jungkook slides his hand forward so just their fingertips touch. A subtle gesture, but it’s enough. “My captain informed us this morning that we’re setting sail two days from now. Tonight and tomorrow night are all we have left together until… I don’t know. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

Jimin’s gaze drops to their hands, his teeth worrying his lower lip. At first, Jungkook thinks he’s angry, then he brushes his fingertips against Jungkook’s and pushes a sad smile onto his lips.

“I’ll take tomorrow night off,” he says, nodding more to himself than to Jungkook. He sounds calm, his voice steady, but he blinks a little harder than necessary and Jungkook suspects it’s to hold back rogue tears.

“You don’t need to—”

“I want to.” Jimin takes a careful glance around the room and lowers his voice. “Namjoon will understand. We can stay the night in my apartment instead of the lounge. I don’t want to spend your last night here singing to other men, Jungkook. I just want you.”

They stare at each other for longer than is appropriate in this bar but neither seem to care. A hint of a smile tugs at the corners of Jungkook’s lips. “I wanna kiss you so bad right now.”

Jimin’s crooked smirk only makes the desire worse. “Save it for tonight. You are still planning on coming to the lounge tonight, aren’t you?”

“Can’t imagine a better place to be.”

 

The rest of the night passes far too quickly for Jungkook’s liking. It feels like all he did was blink and suddenly Jimin’s entire performance at the lounge passed him by. The rest of the crew leaves them as usual.

This time, Jimin doesn’t waste time washing the makeup off or changing out of his white and gold stage outfit. He tackles Jungkook the second Namjoon and Seokjin leave, planting bruising kisses to Jungkook’s lips, hands clawing desperately at the buttons of his shirt.

They fall into his bed, sweat-slicked bodies tangled together, lips leaving their marks on skin already blemished from their previous nights together.

Tonight, they don’t care to sleep. They keep themselves awake, wrapped up in each other and a bottle of wine. They talk, they laugh, for a moment, Jungkook wants to cry. He pushes thoughts of their rapidly approaching end aside and just enjoys the way Jimin’s laugh rocks his entire body, the way the singer curls in on himself, shoulders shaking.

Jungkook watches as Jimin’s face scrunches, his laugh filling his ears. His heart soars and his hands ache to touch the other man. So he does. He leans in and holds Jimin’s face in his hands as he kisses him, fingers caressing him as though Jimin is the most precious thing in this world.

He kisses him until they can't breathe, until they lose themselves, and he doesn’t let go. He relishes the feeling of Jimin’s arms around him, he memorizes the curves of his body, the way Jimin’s fingers send shivers down his spine as they drag across his back.

He memorizes every speck of brown in the blackness of Jimin’s irises, burning the image in his in mind so he never forgets, no matter how long he’s gone, the eyes that drew him in that first night in the bar.

 

 

The next night—his last night—Jungkook wastes no time in escaping his friends once Jimin’s shift at The Riffraff is over. He slips out the front door and into the back alley to meet the singer.

Namjoon had no problem letting them be together tonight, which Jimin claims is because he’s irreplaceable and therefore can do whatever he wants with little to no consequences. Again, Jungkook wants to tease him not to get to cocky, but he lets it slide for the sake of kissing Jimin the second they step through his front door instead.

The apartment is small and dark and Jimin continuously apologizes for the mess of music sheets and stage clothes strewn around the room.

Jungkook doesn’t notice.

All Jungkook wants is to kiss Jimin until he loses his breath.

 

Jungkook drifts in and out of sleep throughout the night, his arms wound tightly around Jimin. At times, they both fall asleep, then one will wake up and accidentally rouse the other from their slumber. Each time they end up talking about nothing in particular or planting lazy kisses over each other’s faces.

It’s well into the early hours of the morning now and they both lie awake, Jungkook on his back and Jimin curled up against his side, fingers drawing invisible patterns over Jungkook’s chest. Neither of them have spoken for several minutes, just enjoying the peaceful silence and the steady thumps of their hearts.

Jimin is the first to speak after what seems like an eternity.

“Do you actually like women as well?” he asks, the sudden question catching Jungkook off guard at first. “Or do you just take them home so others don’t suspect anything?”

Jungkook stares up at the ceiling, letting the questions sink in before he answers. “I like women,” he tells him. “I like men. I guess I just like people, I don’t know. I’m just more experienced with women because…” His voice trails off as his mind drifts to his father and what he would do if he could see Jungkook now. For a brief moment he’s glad the bastard is dead. “You?” he asks, desperate for anything to distract himself from that thought.

“No,” says Jimin. “I have no interest in women. Tried when I was a teen and just… didn’t feel anything.”

Jungkook licks his lips, his fingers drifting over Jimin’s shoulder. He stares up at the ceiling. “So when did you know?” he asks. “I mean, when did you realize…?”

“Couple years later.” Jimin nuzzles closer, pressing a few chaste kisses to Jungkook’s chest. “It was with a sailor, actually. But he was a coward. Broke my heart. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like you at first.”

Jungkook chuckles, giving Jimin a squeeze. “So ever since then you’ve just been okay with… being… this way?”

Jimin sits up, propping himself on one elbow to stare down at Jungkook. “Why are you so afraid to say it?” he asks, and Jungkook only spares him a glance, avoiding his eyes out of fear of what he might see there. Anger? Disapproval? Disappointment?

“Say what?”

“Gay. You can’t even say the word.”

There’s no hint of anger in Jimin’s voice, just genuine curiosity. Jungkook still can’t bring himself to meet his gaze. He shrugs, one arm moving behind his head. “Just not used to it, I guess. Even saying the word was risky for me growing up. My father was…”

He bites his tongue. Never in his life has he told anyone about the hatred his father had for him, the disgust the man felt at what Jungkook was… What he is. That’s a burden he’s kept to himself, hidden in the deepest recesses of his soul. It’s something he planned to keep from the world the rest of his life, possibly even from himself. If he could be just as happy with a woman as he could be with a man, then why not do that? At least society wouldn’t persecute him that way.

“Is that what those scars on your back are from?”

Jungkook feels like he’s been punched in the gut, all the air escaping his lungs, and it takes everything for him not to fall into a panic and drown in the nightmarish memories of his father’s punishments.

He wants to pull away, to run from Jimin right then and there so he doesn’t have to relive his past, so he doesn’t have to open up. Something anchors him in that bed, something about the way Jimin touches him when his body grows tense. The singer’s fingers calm him as they drift over his cheek, and suddenly he can breathe again.

“I’ve always noticed them,” Jimin continues, “but I didn’t want to pry.”

A pained silence hangs over the room as Jungkook continues staring at the ceiling and Jimin stares at him. Jungkook swallows hard, doing whatever he can to resist looking at Jimin. He can’t meet his eyes. He’s ashamed of his own weakness, that he let his father beat him into submission while Jimin, a man facing the same struggles, has been happily confident in who he is. At least as much as he can be without getting himself stoned to death in the streets.

“Jungkook,” Jimin purrs, a softness in his voice Jungkook has never heard before. He doesn’t need Jungkook to speak to know the answer to his question. Jungkook’s silence tells him all he needs to know. “Look at me.”

With that, Jungkook can no longer fight it. He turns his head to face Jimin, eyes locking with dark orbs that seem to peer into his very soul. Jimin cups his cheek as they gaze at each other, both equally mesmerized by the other. He leans forward, lips meeting with Jungkook’s in slow, sleepy kisses.

Jungkook twists his arms around Jimin’s waist as the other man catches his lower lip and gives it a gentle tug. Their kisses quicken, growing more passionate as Jimin throws one leg over Jungkook to straddle him. He sits upright, pushing hair out of his eyes as his hips roll against Jungkook’s.

Their eyes lock again as Jimin finds a rhythm, building friction with Jungkook as he moves in to kiss him again. His hands find purchase in Jungkook’s hair, their tongues meeting and bodies molding together.

Jimin doesn’t need to speak a word for Jungkook to understand. He conveys his message perfectly in the way he touches Jungkook, the way he kisses him, how tightly he holds on as they make love through the night.

Jungkook is accepted here, he’s loved. He can be himself with Jimin. He no longer has to live in fear of the person he loves finding out his secret. Jimin knows, Jimin doesn’t mind, Jimin loves him because of who he is. Jimin is his own personal safe haven and Jungkook would be a fool to let go of that.

So he holds on, arms wound tight around the other man, face buried in the crook of his neck. He lets the sound of Jimin’s moans lull him into a state of bliss and he forgets the outside world. For tonight, it’s just them. For tonight, Jungkook is free and safe and loved by the man in his arms.

And Jungkook, he thinks, might love Jimin, too.

 

The air in Jimin’s apartment hangs heavy with unspoken goodbyes, Jungkook tugging on his socks as slowly as he can just to have a little more time here. Car horns beep in the streets a few stories down, tugboats bellow from the bay, a nagging reminder of what’s to come.

Jimin munches on a piece of toast, leaning against a bookshelf as he watches Jungkook, who had refused every bit of food he offered, insisting he wasn’t hungry. Truthfully, Jungkook feels too sick to eat and too distracted to care when his stomach rumbles.

After several minutes of them not speaking and casting pathetic glances at each other, Jimin strides forward and cups one hand under Jungkook’s chin. He tilts the sailor’s head up, coaxes his lips apart with his thumb, then shoves the toast into his mouth.

“Eat,” he insists, “for me, if nothing else. I’ll worry about you if you don’t.”

How could Jungkook ever refuse a request like that?

As he eats, the sick feeling that had crept from his stomach to his chest eases, and Jungkook feels just the slightest bit better. He looks at Jimin as the other man sits beside him on the bed, then gives him a bread crumb ridden kiss on his cheek.

Jimin smiles, his hand finding its way to Jungkook’s to interlock their fingers. His head lolls to the side to rest on the sailor’s shoulder as Jungkook finishes up the toast, thankful to have something in his stomach despite his earlier protests. Neither of them speak for several more long moments.

Once again, it’s Jimin that puts an end to the silence with another sudden question. “Have you ever been in love, Jungkook?”

Jungkook looks down at their hands, where Jimin begins tracing the lines of his calloused palms. Thoughts of the one person he’s tried so hard to forget begin creeping into the forefront of his mind. He takes a deep, shuddering breath as he stares across the room. “Once. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel as strongly as I did.”

Jimin lifts his head from Jungkook’s shoulder, his fingers halting their dance across his hand as he looks at the sailor. Jungkook turns his head only slightly, halfway looking at Jimin, halfway staring off in the distance, lost in the past.

“You?” he manages to squeeze out around the lump in his throat.

“I think I am.”

The answer comes with no hesitation, no doubt in his voice. It drags Jungkook’s gaze around to meet Jimin’s fully, and the piercing stare from the other man sends his heart careening out of control, performing stunts in his chest.

“What happened?” Jimin asks, voice soft, almost too quiet to hear. “With the girl you loved?”

Jungkook licks his lips, letting himself slip deeper into that hypnotic gaze until he can’t think anymore, until he can’t hold back. He’s never even told his friends what happened, why they stopped speaking. He had been embarrassed, ashamed, like it was his fault that it had happened, like she didn’t choose him because he wasn’t good enough. Maybe, he thinks, it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe, just maybe, it happened because there was someone else out there, someone better.

“Ara.” The name tastes bitter on his tongue, missing the pretty ring it used to have when he would say it, the excited trill in his voice when he would call for her. “Her name was Ara. She was my… friend, before anything else. We met in school when we were kids. As we grew up, we fell in love. Myself, more so. We drifted a bit when I took my job aboard the ship but we made it through. When I came back one day I told her I wanted to marry her and leave for the countryside. I wanted to start a family.”

Jungkook swallows hard, closing his eyes as he takes another shaky breath. He’s never spoken of this aloud. It’s hard but not as painful as he expected it to be. He’s not sure if it’s because enough time has passed for the pain to ease or if it’s the comforting hand around his own but his heart doesn’t clench in his chest like it used to when he thinks of her.

“Her father had promised her to another man and she just… gave up on me. Didn’t even put up a fight despite all the times she said she would do anything to be with me forever. She stopped talking to me, refused to see me, acted like I never meant a thing to her. It was like I never even existed.”

His gaze remains on the floor where their feet bump against each other, another gentle reminder that he’s not alone anymore. He squeezes Jimin’s hand, forces his eyes back up to the other man. Jimin’s eyes are gentle and kind as they survey him, his hand coming up to brush through Jungkook’s hair.

“Well,” he whispers, eyes drifting to Jungkook’s lips, “that was her mistake.”

The kiss Jimin gives him then is tender, his lips like velvet against Jungkook’s. His hand cups Jungkook’s chin again, their foreheads pressed together, hot breath mingling, eyes closed.

“How long before you need to leave?”

Jungkook’s arms are already winding their way around Jimin’s torso, pulling him farther on to the bed. “I’ve got time.”

Jimin says nothing more as he crawls atop the sailor, knees digging into the bed on either side of him. Their hands tangle as they swallow each other’s kisses, bodies fitting like they were made for each other.

How Jungkook wishes he could freeze time and keep Jimin in his arms like this forever.

 

 

Jungkook had hoped he would never find himself standing in front of that house again, but he needs to do this. He hadn’t wanted to but he still has time before the ship leaves and Jimin had insisted that doing this would help him. If Jimin wants him to do it, he will.

He straightens out his uniform and tips his hat back a bit before knocking on the solid wooden door. It only takes a few seconds before it swings open and Areum’s constantly angry eyes land on him.

“I’ve told you a hundred times to leave her alone—”

“I’m not here to beg, Areum.” Jungkook places his hand on the door, once again preventing her from shutting it. “I’m not asking for anything except that she listen to what I have to say. I’m leaving today and this will hopefully be the last time any of us have to see each other.”

Movement inside the house catches his eye and he looks past Areum to see Ara descending the stairs, slow and cautious, her face miserable and downcast. She sits on the bottom step and watches him, waiting, hands clasped together in her lap.

Jungkook takes a deep breath as Areum steps back with a sigh. He doesn’t move forward, doesn’t reach out. He doesn’t even want to. They stay exactly where they are, watching each other across the room as he lets the words he’s been longing to say tumble from his lips.

You gave up on me, Ara. And maybe I should have fought for you, I don’t know. But I’m glad I didn’t. You wouldn’t have done it for me either. Hell, you’ve proven that. You never even made an effort to tell them that I was the one you wanted to marry. You just let your father choose your future for you. I deserved better than that.”

Another deep breath to curb the anger in his voice. He’s not here to yell at her. He’s here to let go, to move on.

“We both deserved better than that. Even if you don’t love him now—and maybe you do, I’m not sure—I hope you grow to. You deserve to be with someone you love and someone who loves you, so I hope you’ve found that in him.”

Ara hangs her head, hands wringing together.

“That’s all,” Jungkook murmurs, lips pursing together. He never wanted to hurt her. He doesn’t hate her but he can’t be responsible for her feelings anymore. Not when she trampled on his so easily. “Goodbye, Ara.”

And the door closes again.

His chest doesn’t ache, though. Some part of him feels sympathy for her, hopes that someday she can be as happy as she was with him, but the rest of him feels light as a feather as he makes his way back down the path and through that old, familiar wrought iron gate.

 

 

The hustle and bustle of the port would be exhausting for Jungkook most days but today he feels tireless, hauling the last of their cargo aboard as his fellow shipmates say their last goodbyes to family, friends, and lovers.

Jungkook stands at the top of the ramp, watching Hoseok hug his little sisters and ruffle their hair. Taehyung flushes red as his mother dotes on him, telling him to be careful and stay out of trouble, then double, triple, and quadruple checks that he hasn’t forgotten anything. No matter how old he gets, she always treats him like the teenager he was when he first set sail.

Smiling to himself, hands in his pockets, Jungkook scans over the docks, searching for any familiar faces until he finds the one he most wanted to see.

Sitting atop a large crate, dressed in black pants and a loose grey shirt, is Jimin. His hands rest behind him on the crate as he leans back, a smile on his lips, face turned up to the sun as though sunbathing. His eyes land on Jungkook, and the sailor wastes no time in rushing back down the ramp to meet him as he hops off the top of the crate.

He leans back against the wooden boxes as Jungkook reaches him, barely stopping himself in time when he starts to move in for a kiss. Jungkook shoves his hands in his pockets and swallows hard, scuffing his feet against the ground.

“You came.”

Jimin’s head leans back against the crates as he regards the man before him, eyes dancing over every inch of him in that uniform. “Of course I did.” Behind his smile lies a hint of sadness but he doesn’t let it wreck the moment.

Jungkook stands quietly and stares at Jimin, memorizing every detail of his face, every curve of his body. His heart skips. “It’s really hard for me not to kiss you right now.”

Jimin glances around the docks, taking note of everyone nearby and ensuring that they’re distracted with their duties and goodbyes before grabbing Jungkook by the wrist and dragging him out of sight. They find themselves a secluded spot behind a pile of lumber and Jimin wastes no time in pinning Jungkook to it and kissing him like there’s no tomorrow.

Jungkook can’t bring himself to care about where they are, the risk they’re taking. This is his last chance to hold Jimin before he leaves for god knows how long.

Their chests collide in a gentle embrace as they catch their breath, hearts pounding. Jungkook buries his face in Jimin’s hair, holds him tighter, eyes closed.

“You better get on board before they leave without you,” Jimin whispers, though his grip doesn’t loosen to let Jungkook leave.

“Might not be so bad if it means staying here with you.”

Jimin smirks, head shaking, hair falling in his eyes as he leans back to look up at the other man. “Get out of here.”

Jungkook cups his chin and plants one last kiss on his lips before pulling back to look into those dark eyes one more time. “I love you, Jimin.”

With that infuriating crooked grin, Jimin leans in and kisses him again, hands tangling in his hair. His lips work wonders against Jungkook’s, tongue sliding along his lips until they part for one last taste. He bumps his nose against Jungkook’s before he pulls away. “Love you too, sailor.”

Jungkook beams at the other man, sliding his hand along his cheek before turning and rushing back to the port. He reaches the ramp, running along it and leaping onto the ship just before it drops. He spins back to face the crowd, leaning against the rail alongside his shipmates as they wave goodbye to those below them.

Jimin leans against that stack of crates again, still grinning, hands in his pockets. His eyes lock with Jungkook’s as the ship drifts away and he lifts one hand to his lips, pressing a kiss there and sending it up to Jungkook.

Licking his lips and trying to hold back his laughter, Jungkook pretends to catch it and place on his own lips before sending one back. When Jimin catches his he presses it to his chest, just over his heart.

Jungkook stays at the rails and Jimin stays on the docks until they’re too far away to see each other anymore, then Jungkook leaves to find his friends and ready himself for the journey ahead.

 

 

Another long night in the bar and Jimin finds himself listlessly wiping down the counter top with an old rag, same as he always does when he has nothing better to do.

Few patrons dot the bar right now, two of them passed out at separate tables and the third readying themselves to leave. Jimin keeps casting hopeful glances at the door even though he know the face he wants to see won’t be coming through it anytime soon.

It’s been nearly six months since the last time Jungkook had come in to port and Jimin thoroughly misses their nights in the lounge, the feeling in his chest whenever he goes to the docks and sees that smiling face as Jungkook makes his way down the ramp from his ship.

He sets the rag aside and reaches into his pocket, pulling out the last letter he had received from his sailor a few weeks ago. He skims over it with a smile.

In it, Jungkook talks about his friends and their antics, about the ports they’ve visited and that, of course, he has stayed loyal to Jimin everywhere he has gone. But Jimin’s favorite part, selfishly, is when he writes about the beauty of nights on the water and compares them to Jimin:

Watching the sparkle of the stars on the surface of the ocean reminds me

of the twinkle you get in your eyes when you’re about to cause trouble.

Few things in all my travels have compared to the beauty of the moon

hanging low over the water—it’s part of why I can’t seem to tear myself

away from this ship despite my homesickness. There’s nothing quite

like the view out here. But now when I look up at that dark sky, alight

with the white glow of the moon I can’t help but compare it to you, and

I’ve decided even the moon could never hold a candle to your beauty.

There’s a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately that reminds me of you.

“I never cared much for moonlit skies

I never winked back at fireflies

But now that the stars are in your eyes

I’m beginning to see the light”

The stars out here are extraordinary, my Jimin, but I can’t wait to return home

and see the stars in your eyes again.

 

Jimin isn’t so prideful that he can’t admit to shedding a tear or two over the letter. His misses Jungkook deeply and no one has ever written anything quite like that to him. It makes him ache to hear those words in Jungkook’s voice rather than just read them on paper.

The door of the bar opens and Jimin slips the letter back into this pocket, smiling as a crew of rowdy men—likely from the nearby mines judging by the black streaks across their clothes and faces—pile inside.

“Afternoon, gentlemen. What can I get for you?”

 

 

At the lounge that night Jimin asks the band about the song in Jungkook’s letter—the one he’s been listening to nonstop since he received it—and, to his delight, they inform him that they’re all familiar with it. Tonight, he’ll sing that song and hope that somewhere out there on the sea, Jungkook will be singing along.

The soothing tune floats through the room, Jimin’s hands resting lightly on the microphone stand. The crowd sways slowly, some of them cuddling up to their partners and losing themselves in the gentle sound of Jimin’s voice.

As the song ends, Jimin feels a single tear slip from the corner of his eyes and he takes a deep bow to hide it, reaching up to swipe it away before anyone notices. He hopes it doesn’t smear his makeup.

Cheers and applause reach his ears as he passes Seokjin on his way down the stage, who gives him an excited smile. Seokjin grabs him by the shoulders, eyes alight with some emotion Jimin can’t quite read. “Look,” he says, nodding toward the bar.

Jimin’s heart leaps in his chest, eyes widening as he turns. Only one thing could warrant such excitement from his fellow singer. He turns, pressing a hand over his mouth as his gaze meets twinkling eyes and outstretched arms.

He rushes forward, colliding with Jungkook, falling into his arms, his own arms slipping around the sailor’s muscular figure. He buries his face in his neck as Jungkook presses kisses to the top of his head, then promptly leans up to press one long, wet kiss to Jungkook’s lips.

“You didn’t tell me you were coming home,” Jimin says, voice breathy as he kisses across Jungkook’s face, his hands caressing his cheeks as Jungkook’s rest on his waist.

“I wanted to surprise you.”

Jimin wants to chastise him, to give him a slap to the shoulder and complain that Jungkook was keeping secrets from him, leaving him to think he had several more long months alone. All he can really do is keep kissing him, holding him tighter as he slips his arms around his neck.

They stand in a solid embrace for an eternity, Jungkook inhaling the scent of Jimin’s hair—a welcome change from the constant smell of sea water he had grown so used to.

“You sang my song.” His voice is muffled against Jimin. His hands slide over the singer’s back, twisting in to his shirt as he squeezes him close.

Jimin only hums in response, pressing kisses along Jungkook’s shoulder. “How long are you here for?”

“That’s the best news,” Jungkook says, and Jimin pulls back to look at him. “We’re back for a few months this time, maybe even longer. We have plenty of time.”

With a smile brighter than the sun, Jimin drinks in the sight of the man before him—the same tan skin, calloused hands, the same charming smile that made him fall so deeply in love, even when Jungkook was nothing more than an obnoxious drunk in a bar to him. He hasn’t changed much physically, though Jimin knows how much he has grown on the inside, maturing into a happy, confident man, no longer burdened with regrets and nightmares of his past.

He brushes his fingers over Jungkook’s jaw, reveling in the feeling of that sun-kissed skin. He can’t seem to keep his hands off the other man, as though letting go of him would cause him to disappear.

Jimin heart swells as Jungkook leans in for another kiss, this one slow and thoughtful, both taking the time to fully appreciate the feeling of each other’s lips and hands and the weight of their bodies pressing together.

With lips still ghosting over lips and fingers exploring every line and angle of each other, Jimin whispers, his mouth drifting up to linger near Jungkook’s ear, “Then let’s make the most of it, sailor.”