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Butterfly Soul

Chapter Text

When Jimin was nine, he would take a peek at his soulbrand at almost every opportunity. He would have his back facing the mirror at home, his head awkwardly turned so that he could sort of peer into the reflective surface.

At his age, the markings hadn't fully developed yet, but he hadn’t known that it was already as big as the average adult’s. And, it was only going to grow bigger.

It was quite funny to see him like this, because when he was younger, he never cared at all. All he seemed to care about was ballet, and it never quite occurred to him to be in such a strange position in front of a mirror.

Though, from all the gushing he received from his relatives, and the multiple occasions when his mother would lift up the back of his shirt to show it off, it must have had occured to him that something must have been there.

He never did quite comprehend the reason behind all that fuss, until he was old enough for a Talk.

He was in his bedroom, with his mother and father sitting beside him on his bed.

"You see, Jiminie," his mother explained, "everyone is born with markings on their backs. Most people have a mixture of lines and swirls and dots... which look quite random at first until you look a little closer. Then you see that they form certain shapes. These are called soulbrands!"

"Wow... soulbrands..." Jimin was astounded by this concept. "Do I have one too?"

"Yeah," replied his father. "Yours looks very pretty. It looks like a big, beautiful butterfly."

"Butterfly? Woah! Does that mean I can fly one day?"

His mother chuckled. "Maybe."

"But eomma, how come I have one? Why does everyone have one?"

"I don't know either, dear. It's been like this since people first existed."

"And how long is that?"

"I'm not sure exactly... it must have been thousands and thousands of years ago."

"Thousands of years..." Jimin reeled from the revelation. Suddenly, he felt that this soulbrand thing was extremely cool.

"Do you know why people have soulbrands?" asked his father, to which Jimin pondered over for a while. Then, he shook his head.

"It's because people have soul mates . You have a soulmate too, Jimin."

"Me? What is it? What's a soulmate?"

"Hm, how do I put this... A soulmate is someone who is very, very special to you."

" Ohhh, " went Jimin, who then started giggling. "Like a boyfriend or girlfriend."

"Well, usually. For example, your eomma and I are soulmates. But it doesn't have to be a lover! They can be your best friend. Your soulmate can be of any gender."

"What if it's a boy," asked Jimin, going by sheer curiosity. "Can I marry him?"

His mother looked like she was about to say something before her husband interrupted. "Of course you can," he said, smiling.

"Hm..." Jimin was seriously considering it. "Then how do I make babies with him?"

His parents nearly fell off the bed. This was another kind of talk for another day...

"Don't worry about that now," said his mother quickly, saving the situation. "You have to find the person first."

"Okay... So, how will I know if he's my soulmate? Or she."

"It's quite hard," said his father. "You'll have to touch their markings, or have them touch yours. The skin has to be touching! No gloves or shirts."

"Then?"

"Then, the markings you touch, or they touch, will glow. It'll look really pretty. And it feels nice, like a hug."

"Ah," his mother butted in, "But you cannot just go up to a person and touch their soulbrands! It's not allowed!"

"Huh, why not? Isn't it easier to find them that way?"

"Well, it's rude. And it's strange! It's like having someone touch your private parts. It's perverted."

Jimin didn't quite see the correlation; regardless, over the years, he eventually internalised the concept.

As time passed by, and the internet became a place for Jimin to look for answers. Unfortunately, the first time he searched ‘soulbrand’ up online was when he was first traumatised. He had clicked on a porn site.

'Um, I don't even get this at all... And then all the guys are crowding around her marking and... what are they...?!'

That was an experience he’d laugh at, looking back at it years later.

His parents bought him a book about soulbrands, and he had quickly devoured its contents. He even found bits of information that were really similar to what his parents had said -

 

A genuine soulbrand will respond to the touch of the original soul, causing a sensation in the wearer that has been reported as a pleasant tingling, or a rush of pleasure. It has been known to stimulate oxytocin release, which aids greatly in emotional bonding, and is even known to heighten sexual pleasure and performance.

 

The prepubescent Jimin quickly flipped the page at the word 'sexual' - he did not need to be reminded of the strange fetishes he saw online.

(Though, he did end up liking it a little when he grew older.)

 

~~~~

 

When Jimin was fourteen, he was brought to a soul therapist to interpret his markings. It was the norm for most over-excited parents to get them properly checked up.

While Jimin waited outside, talking to his father, he couldn’t help but tell him his excitement.

"Appa, when I grow up I wanna be a soul therapist too. It looks so cool..."

His father laughed. "Well, it'll be quite tough. And I thought you wanted to be a dancer?"

"Oh! Right!"

Soul therapists were part of the medical profession, well-respected, and perhaps a bit glamorous from how intriguing it was. They mainly examined abnormalities, but more importantly, administered treatment for soul death trauma.

There was a section from his book that talked about it. Recalling it made JImin shudder slightly.

 

Soulbrands are heavily associated to soul death trauma (SDT). This occurs when a person's soulmate dies, and the soulbond disintegrates or otherwise loses its integrity.

 

Then, the loss would cause extreme pain. Jimin remembered, from the book, that it would feel like "something being ripped out of your body", or "bleeding". It didn't sound good at all.

 

SDT is possibly fatal, with risk of death decreasing with age. However, the ability to be cured of SDT also decreases with age.

 

There was a chance for recovery, but it was slim. Once it hit, it often haunted you for the rest of your life.

Jimin pushed that morbid thought aside for another day.

Other than saving SDT victims, they were popular for interpretation, too, although the current level of rigorous research only allowed them a moderate degree of accuracy.

Jimin had been fidgeting in his seat, his eyes shining with hope while the therapist brought out some files.

"So, here's the analysis from our soulbrand scans, " said the friendly-looking doctor. "Your markings are a lovely shade of red, by the way."

Jimin blushed faintly. It was a dark, faded red that was pleasing to the eye. He was proud of it.

"From its abnormally large area of cover, it's very likely your soulmate is someone with a strong soul lineage. It's got a high density, too. Usually, it means that they have high-achieving traits, or strong character. If you're worried of his future partner's status and career prospects, or their heart of gold, it's likely to be quite good in either one."

Jimin's parents seemed very pleased at the career prospects, though he himself was more interested in the heart of gold.

"But the nature of the markings suggest that your soulmate is more... introverted. A more inward personality. You may have some trouble connecting to your soulmate, at least at first."

'Ah...' Jimin was fairly confident of his people skills, so he wasn't too fazed despite that.

"I think what's most interesting is the motif. It's in the shape of a huge butterfly. It almost looks like you have wings, young man."

Jimin stared at the scans of his soulbrand, tracing the outline of the butterfly shape it formed. "What does it mean?" he asked, now that he was old enough to know that he couldn't fly.

"Well... it means... a lot. It's a rather rare shape, actually. First of all, butterflies transform, so they could perhaps undergo a huge change somewhere in their lives. It also usually means they have graceful and eloquent souls, which can show in different ways.

"And, it's a solid indicator of passionate, romantic love. Butterfly-shaped soulbrands are highly likely to have happy, life-long marriages."

His parents seemed delighted again. "That's great," said his dad. "I just want my son to be happy with someone, so that's... really amazing."

He looked at Jimin with content, loving eyes, which the child reciprocated with an eyeless smile.

"I feel the same way," said his mum, "But I, uh... also want to know the gender of his soulmate."

Her husband gave her a stern look, but the therapist simply chuckled.

"It's natural to worry about that. I must warn you that gender is difficult to determine in a soul. Furthermore, it is no true indication of the birth sex."

"Alright."

"Okay... based on our current methods," the therapist pulled out a paper, "His soulmate's gender. Thirty percent female, and seventy percent male."

"Ah, I see." His mum seemed to reserve judgement, although worry seemed to show in her eyes. His dad simply sighed - he knew how much grandchildren meant to her.

Jimin read his mother's expression and looked away, twiddling with his thumbs. His heart felt a little heavy - he didn't want his parents to know that he liked boys more than girls anyway.

The therapist noticed his anxiety, and knowingly smiled.

"Here, young man. Jimin, right?"

Jimin was nudged out of his thoughts by a small pack of gummies, and looked back up at the tall man, nodding.

"I hope you find the one you're looking for. Luck seems to be on your side."

Jimin grinned brightly in response.

Chapter Text

The mid-afternoon sun refused to relent, but classroom 3-A was thankfully sheltered from the brunt of the heat. Only two boys remained in class, sitting near the front with sheets of papers scattered all over their desks.

“Hobi, I’m… I’m dying…”

Hoseok rolled his eyes. "Jimin.”

"Please... tell my mother… that I love her... okay goodnight."

Jimin folded his arms and pressed his head against his math assignment, falling asleep almost instantly.

Without a single twitch of his expression, Hoseok extended his arm and gave the mess of fluffy hair a few hard taps with his pen.

Jimin just groaned again, and rolled over to face his friend. His small facial features scrunched up in a cute, cartoonish sort of way.

"Who let me minor in math again? Who in goddamn hell thought it was a good idea?"

"I think that was you," said Hoseok, sounding amused. "You took one look at the sciences and nearly passed out from the stress. Math was the most tolerable choice."

"Yeah, it's tolerable, alright," Jimin muttered. "At least all I'm doing is falling asleep and not pulling my hair out in pain."

The school system was a burden in a sense that you couldn't actually just focus on your art major. It was very different from a science major, where it was rather socially acceptable to just abandon the arts, much to Jimin’s disappointment.

And of course, no sensible science major would join a prestigious arts school like School of the Arts Korea .

"Hobi, what time is it?"

"Eh... 2.44pm."

Jimin nodded. "Remind me to change at fifty."

"Ah, okay. Contemp starts at three, right?"

"Yeah. Screw my timetable, seriously. I gotta stay in school until five because I take dance? Why do broadcasting and fine arts and all that get to end early?"

Hoseok sighed, but then smiled. "I mean, you still gotta wait for Tae too, right? After basketball."

"True, but that's only for today. Ah, seriously, even Seungwon ended at one. One! Why does she get to leave early today? She ended up ditching me for her other friends."

"Oh, that girl." Hoseok snorted. "Right. I was beginning to suspect that she likes you."

"Huh?" Jimin frowned. "Just because she's a girl?"

"No, that's not what I'm getting at. It's so suspicious how she always acts so close to you!"

Jimin narrowed his eyes. "Because... she's my friend?"

"I mean, she barges into our classroom all the time to see you. And she walks you to the bus stop. And she'd stay back to do homework with you. I have a valid reason for my suspicion!"

Jimin widened his eyes, almost seeming amused. "You're suspicious of her? Hell, she's suspicious of you ."

Hoseok lurched backwards. "Me? Why me?"

"Hello? She's known me for three years while you've known me for... three months. I've never even met you before until this year, but then we mysteriously hit it off. And besides, you know I like guys, and you like, uh... everyone."

"Yeah, I guess. Hey, you don't actually like me, right?"

Jimin let out a snort. "I wouldn't fall for a face like that."

"You better watch out!" yelled Hoseok, laughing. "Anyway, I'm still kinda scared for you and your friend."

"Hobi... I really don't think she likes me... I mean, she even knows I'm gay..."

"That's what I'm worried about! What if she's in love with you despite the fact that you'd never like her back? Plus, you're such a girl magnet. It's definitely possible."

Jimin rolled his eyes. "You think too much."

"No seriously, I wouldn't be surprised. You're not even that handsome but you talk to them all the time. You give them the wrong idea. You don't flirt with them but that's why you're attractive, and that's why you still constantly get girls confessing to you."

Jimin gulped at the brutally insightful comment.

"But so do you!" he managed a comeback.

"Yeah, well, not as much as you though. Just so you know, tons of  girls would kill to be in Seungwon's position. Better take care of your friend, buddy."

"Meh. She'll be fine."

"You sound so sure. Ah... such trust... friendship is so wonderful... don't ruin it with love, seriously."

"Right? And great, it's already two fifty-three," Jimin grumbled, quickly grabbing his clothes. "Wow, thanks for the reminder."

"No problem," Hoseok shot finger guns at Jimin as he rushed out of the classroom.

 

~~~~

 

The dance teacher was lost somewhere in her thoughts, until a soft voice interrupted her.

"Seonsaengnim, it's already five."

"Hm?" She looked up at the digital clock, fixed high on the studio's mirror walls. "Hey, hello, you still five minutes left. Ah... though I guess you've all worked hard today. Go stretch."

The student's eyes lit up, as did the others around her. She bowed a little exaggeratedly, yet she did so with perfect poise.

"Thank you!"

Anyone within a few metres of their conversation ran excitedly to the side. One guy in particular ran towards a corner, where his friend engrossed himself in the middle of a rigorous routine.

"Jimin-ah."

"Eh?" Jimin stopped halfway through a cartwheel, dangling his legs in the air.

"Practice is over."

"Oh. Already?"

He completed the cartwheel effortlessly, jumping back up into standing position. Even his friend, who wasn't that much less skilled than him, was impressed.

Jimin looked at the clock, and then gave him a doubtful side-eye. "You lied to me... we still have five minutes..."

His friend grinned. "She let us end early."

"Huh, really?"

His friend pointed to the group of friends at the other end of the studio, who were stretching each other a little more than necessary and causing screams of pain and laughter.

"See?"

"Ah, okay. Stretch with me, then."

"Eww..." was his childish reply, before his eyes lit up, like those of a pyromaniac with a box of matches. "Don't you wanna... stretch with him ?"

He not-so-subtly nodded a head towards the only other two guys in the class at the opposite end of the room. One of them in particular had wild, curly locks of brown hair, left pointing in all directions from the dance session, and who was clearly the subject of their conversation.

Jimin glared at him. "Don't bring up things from the past. And can't you see he already has a partner? That leaves you with me."

"And why would I want that?" his friend teased.

"Because I wanna stretch with youuuu..." Jimin crooned, while he wrapped his arms around his friend's shoulders, resting his head on a shoulder.

"Fine," he said, laughing, peeling Jimin off him.

"Okay, quick, let me stretch you," said an impatient Jimin. "Hurry up!" he said, literally a second later, whacking him on the stomach as unfair punishment.

"Ow, okay chill." His friend quickly got into position. "Though really, about Yugyeom, can we just talk about how crazy you were over-"

"NOPE, not listening, that never happened-"

"You were so convinced he was your soulmate-"

Jimin pushed his friend's leg down. "Hey, we were all stupid once-"

"You tried to make him touch your soulbrand- woah woah woah, stop! That's enough!"

Jimin grinned evilly, and pushed down even further.

"AHH! You asshole! "

"Serves you right."

"Do it, Jimin!" yelled the brown-haired boy named Yugyeom from across the studio. "Make him suffer! "

"Break his legs!" cheered Yugyeom’s partner, in a cuter, fun-loving way.

Less than a minute later, the entire room was flooded with a high-pitched screech.

"Who's on top now?!" The friend proudly declared, a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

" Asshole! Are you trying to rip my leg off- OW OW OW you FUCKFACE- "

"Language, Jimin," warned his teacher, though her expression would have ruined the effect. She seemed mildly entertained by him, and so did the rest of his class, who were bursting into fits of giggles.

Yugyeom's partner sighed, deflated from the defeat. Yugyeom himself had an exasperated look in his eyes, before he shook his head and laughed along.

 

~~~~

 

The studio might have been air-conditioned, but the boys were still drenched in sweat from the dance session. After dismissal, they rushed to the boy's changing rooms to dry off.

Jimin slipped on a fresh set of PE attire, with his front facing the corner. He had long gotten used to partial nudity while his dance mates were in the same room, but it didn't hurt to turn away, just in case.

The other boys were in other school shirts, but none of them wore their school uniform back on - no sensible person would want to deal with all that attire for the second time in a day.

The moment Jimin finished changing, he took a quick glance at his phone, and quickly started to pack up all his things.

"Woah, what's the rush?" asked his earlier stretching partner, his eyebrows raised.

"Basketball training's ending soon," he replied, "I don't want them to wait too long."

"Oh, you're going back with your posse today?" he said in jest.

"Well, shit," said the other boy, sighing. "There goes our plans for impromptu dinner."

"There's a what?! Wait, now I'm sad," Jimin pouted. "You didn't tell me that! I would've gone with you guys."

"That's my fault I guess. I only told Yugyeom about it."

The aforementioned guy seemed slightly disappointed. "Would've been cool to hang out, though. As the Contemp Boys."

"Yeah!" Jimin chuckled. "Ah, I'm really sorry guys... but I already promised Tae."

"That's okay," said Yugyeom, nodding. "See you."

"See you around, Jimin!" the fourth guy echoed with a wide grin.

"See you guys!" Jimin grabbed his bag and started heading out.

"Traitor!" yelled his snarky friend, "We will never forget this! Double exclamation mark! Also I’ll reveal your secret."

"Wha- Don’t you dare, I will bite your ear off," hissed Jimin, before shutting the door behind him.

Letting out a deep, contented sigh, he began pacing down the corridors, on the pathway to the school's basketball courts.

Finally, he stepped into the large doors that were currently ajar. From his position he could see that the basketball boys had already ended their main training, and were currently stretching, or almost completing their cooldown.

The basketball players, with their sleeveless jerseys, their knee-length shorts and their gear, looked really attractive to Jimin. He recognised a lot of the lads in his year, but was only really close to a few. He spotted one of those few faces, and his face lit up.

"Yoongi-hyung!"

Said hyung was also a Third Year like Jimin, but was actually older than all the others by a year. The guy looked up at him and gave him a small, acknowledging smile.

Jimin remembered being a Second Year, only knowing Yoongi as the grumpy sunbae who was close to Taehyung. And also the sunbae with the really nice legs. Even now that they were in the same year, technically, Jimin still looked up to him for that reason.

The other players also began to notice the intruder, but seemed to welcome him warmly. After all, Jimin was pleasant to be around. Even if they weren't close, they were still at ease.

Out of nowhere, the court rang with a shrill scream that was so high-pitched that Jimin couldn't believe it came from a guy. (Then again, he wasn't one to talk.)

"Who the fuck spilled all the basketballs out of the cage again?" hollered the team captain. "If it's one of those football fuckers..."

The nearby teammates scrambled to his aid and picked up the balls, putting them back into the cage. Though, it was clear from their grumbled curses that they weren't very pleased.

Yoongi pulled Jimin to his side. "You know the whole football drama that's been happening lately?"

"Football... ah, Tae told me about it."

There was some sort of weird discourse or rivalry happening between the basketball and football boys - something that started small, and then escalated.

"Ugh, seriously. It's probably Minjun again. It's stupid, but he's been doing all sorts of weird things towards me recently?"

Yoongi gave him a mildly worried look, though it was usually hard to tell any change in expression on his face. "Sunhwan-ah, this really has to stop..."

"I know..." Sunhwan sighed. "It's just that, we used to get along quite well, and then suddenly... I think he got jealous that I talk to Miri a lot."

"Ah, Choi Miri?" Jimin questioned. "That girl?"

She wasn't particularly amazing, other than the fact that she was pretty, and had a nice figure - he wasn't sure if it was a shorter skirt or longer legs that revealed a tiny bit more of her thighs.

He thought she was quite friendly at first, but thanks to Seungwon, Jimin had some judgements to reserve against her.

"Why don't you try uh, talking to her less?" he asked.

"That would make him think he's won," he scoffed. "I mean, she isn't bad. And I don't get his problem either. Since he's so anal about it, I might as well just rub it in his face, that asshole."

Jimin wasn't sure that was the best idea, but shrugged and dismissed the topic.

"Jimiiiiin," said a familiar voice from across the hall.

"Tae-tae," Jimin called out cutely, as the guy quickly scuttled towards him. "Did you miss me?"

"I... just saw you in class today... but sure, I missed you so much, Jiminie!"

Jimin laughed and kept grinning. This was the person he considered his Number One Ultimate Best Friend Supreme. If knowing Seungwon for three years wasn't that impressive, then their decade-long friendship would be.

They had been in the same elementary school class for two years, and despite not sharing a class after, they had kept together ever since. Then finally, with a stroke of luck, they ended up in the same class in the final year of high school.

Out of nowhere, Taehyung bent down, wrapped his arms below Jimin's ass and lifted him up. A sharp yelp became embarrassed laughter, as Jimin let him spin him around.

At the sight, the other over-excited Third Years, and some hyper Second Years, started to yell and punch their fists into the air. Some of them even started fanning themselves.

"Touch his soulbrand!" yelled Yoongi, which was essentially screaming the equivalent of 'grab his crotch!'

"I already did once," Taehyung shot back at him, with a smirk. "It didn't glow, though. Shame."

The court boomed, deep-voiced whooping, cheering and all, causing the First Years to stare in mild shock, and the nearby coach to shake her head and sigh.

"What a bunch of horny boys..." she muttered under her breath. Jimin heard it, and looked at her apologetically.

"Okay, let's go," he finally said, “I wanna go home. Let me down.”

“No.”

“What do you mean, no?!”

Chapter Text

Class 2-C was a lively class, and it got livelier once English was about to end. With only five minutes left to the lesson, and a graded assignment to be handed back to the class, it was no surprise that everyone was engaged in an endless chatter.

Well, almost everyone. There were some who regarded the ceaseless chatter as a slight hindrance, Jungkook being one of them.

He sat at his desk quietly, and crossed his fingers for a good mark. Given his current English prowess, or lack thereof, this was his only real chance at scoring for the subject.

He had chosen 'menu' as his assignment topic, precisely because it didn't require a lot of grammar, except for the short descriptions of the food. But he had really banked his grade on his design, which he had crafted, painstakingly, to look as professional and clean-cut as possible.

He waited for his assignment to reach his table. He tapped on his table while the marked papers were passed down the rows, and then... finally, peering over behind him, he received the stack and began filing through it for his own.

He flipped through once, and didn't see his submission. He paused for a bit, frowning, shrugging at the slight inconvenience before searching through again. The frustration built up after the fourth time, when he realised his assignment wasn't even there in the first place.

'Don't tell me Namjoon-seom didn't even mark my submission?!'

Either it was too good to be marked, or he hadn't even seen it in the first place - maybe it got lost. Obviously, the latter option had him almost freaking out.

He kept his panic under wraps. After a moment of contemplation, he clicked his tongue, and poked the guy in front of him with the edge of the paper stack.

This guy was none other than the class representative, who was a good-looking, responsible boy. He was easily crush material.

Hey, is it okay if you could ask the class where my assignment is?" Jungkook asked. "I can't find it here."

"Eh? Ah... that's strange. Hold on, I'll try to find it for you..."

Jungkook smiled - he could sense Class Rep's genuine kindness. "Thank you."

He went through the stack as well, frowning after flipping through a few times. "Huh, yours isn't here... and mine isn't here either." His eyebrows creased. "Hm. Hold on."

He stood up and spoke with a loud, clear voice. "Has anyone seen our assignments? Mine and Jungkook's?"

"Oh, his one's here," said a classmate from three columns across, a little too quickly to have been natural.

She passed it over in Jungkook's general direction. Meanwhile, he spotted a small huddle of girls near her seat, looking over at something purposefully hidden from his, and Class Rep's, line of sight.

Jungkook eyed the first girl with an expressionless face.

Of course they would want to look at his assignment, because it was pretty, because he knew his Elements of Design. But it was also because they wanted to check out the Handsome Guy's work. It still didn't mean that they could randomly steal his work, without his consent, to giggle and fawn over. That was rude. That was rude to Class Rep, too.

'Why do they have to be so fucking annoying...'

Of course, the girl who originally held his assignment shied away from his scarily blank gaze, but couldn't help but sneak another peek. It would've been a harmless gesture, if not for the fact that Jungkook was still staring straight at her.

She flicked her eyes away quickly, and Jungkook could almost feel the internal panic flash in them.

"Where's class rep's?" said Jungkook loudly, trying to hide the stinging, sharp ice in his voice.

Clearly, it wasn't hidden very well. Some of the class jolted at his voice, and the others started to shiver. Even Namjoon-seom seemed affected.

"Oh! It's here!" an oblivious girl from the huddle proclaimed, proudly as well, after a good few seconds. It was only then that she gave it back to its rightful owner.

Jungkook continued to sear his gaze into their general direction before looking away, with a haughty blink.

He looked at his assignment, flipping to the end for his score. Then his eyes lit up, and he clenched his fist in victory.

23 out of 25. A near perfect score.

His slightly soured mood greatly improved.

'I might be able to pass this semester.'

Granted, the weight it had on his final grade wasn't a lot, but it might actually save a barely failing grade.

The bell rang, signalling the end of the lesson. Jungkook began stuffing his stationery in his pencilcase, when he suddenly sensed a presence in front of his table.

It was Namjoon-seom, with a friendly expression that meant Jungkook wasn't in trouble. Yet, he couldn't help but feel a little nervous.

"Jungkook, can I see you outside?" he asked, with a slight smile.

"Okay," Jungkook replied, though slightly confused. Didn't he ace the assignment? And if it wasn't about being in trouble...

'Oh no, it must be about that test...'

The test Jungkook tried his best at, but kind of fell asleep while doing the last question.

'Or is it about just now?'

He packed his things and then slipped out of the classroom, meeting his teacher in the moderate privacy of the corridor.

"Hello," he said with a slight nod of the head.

"Hello," Jungkook replied, with a rather soft, hushed voice.

He looked down at the ground, then at his teacher's shoes, and then back up at his face.

"Jungkook, how are you getting along with your classmates this year?"

Jungkook shrugged. "Most of them are okay."

Namjoon-seom nodded. "I feel the same. They aren't that bad, but some of them are a little... you understand what I mean."

Jungkook gritted his teeth. "They're... so... I don't get them sometimes."

"Raging hormones," his teacher replied, sighing. "Though you'd think that by this age, they'd learn to be a bit more sensible."

Jungkook nodded, perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

"Yeah, anyway, I asked you because it seems like you're doing a little better this year, with talking to people and all that."

"I didn't like last year's class very much."

That was an understatement. He absolutely hated last year’s class - what he would internally describe as a sad gathering of jerks and bimbos.

Another sigh. "Your teachers could tell. Anyway, I came to talk to you about your grades. Your math teacher came to me and told me about... your... not-so- satisfactory results for the last test. And your English..." he coughed. "Well, I suppose you've improved, but please - if you need to consult me for any help, please do."

Jungkook gave him a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry," he said, bowing a little. "I'll try to pull up my grades a bit. I'll see if I can arrange a time?"

Namjoon-seom nodded with approval. "That's a good attitude. Oh, it doesn't just have to be about academics though. As for the people part, it… must be tough."

Jungkook looked down. "I'll manage."

"I'd admit, when I was your age I wished I was someone like you. Tall, handsome, and talented... At least I can try hard with the last part." Namjoon-seom patted him on the shoulder. "You're a good kid, Jungkook. Take care."

Jungkook wordlessly smiled, giving his teacher a firm nod. He looked calm as ever, but internally -

'Oh my god, he called me handsome.'

Jungkook was, admittedly, a little awkward with his teacher, but it wasn't because of a lack of admiration or respect. It was an oversupply of it.

'Oh my god, Namjoon-seom is so cool.'

Sure, Namjoon-seom wasn't one of those pretty-boy teachers that had all the female students fawning over them, but his charm was on par, if not better than most of those teachers.

In the first place, Jungkook was never the type to judge by looks alone. He was a victim of that for long enough to know that it was annoying.

"See you, Jungkook," said Namjoon-seom, in English, which just upped the cool factor by even more.

"See you," Jungkook replied, in English as well. He might have walked back into class with an added skip to his steps, attracting the attention of a few curious classmates.

 

~~~~

 

It was late afternoon. Class 3-A was buzzing around the classroom as per dismissal time routine, when a girl not from their class casually walked through the front door. No one seemed to make a huge deal out of it, though - a curious observer would find that they treated her like she was one of their own.

Nothing about her particularly stood out, other than her careful, discerning eyes, and her ponytail - a messy stump, tied near the bottom of her head - an uncommon hairstyle at her age.

"Ah," said Jimin, catching sight of her. "Seungwonnie, we've been waiting for a while."

She simply gave him a goofy look as she walked over to the huge huddle of friends, consisting of Jimin, Taehyung, Hoseok, and several other classmates.

"Oh, hello, girl who probably likes Jimin," said Hoseok, getting a wide-eyed reaction from her.

"Oh, hello, guy who probably likes Jimin," she retaliated, with a smug look. "I see we share the same sentiments."

Hoseok was mildly impressed.

"Hi Seungwon. What's going on?" asked Taehyung, who was immediately confused.

Jimin couldn't find an answer to that. "Ai, these two are..."

"Oh, but I'm actually serious," said Hobi, raising his eyebrows comically a few times. "I don't have a crush on him, but do you?"

Seungwon laughed. "I actually did have a crush on him, FYI, in like, the first month I knew him. Then I realised how stupid it was. And also how stupid he is."

"...thanks, but also I did not know that..." Jimin wasn't sure what to feel about the overdue confession. "Though, it sounds very you."

"What do you mean?"

"Your crushes only last for a month at a time. So you have like, one every month anyway."

She skipped the indignant glare and gave him a look of gleaming enthusiasm. "Hey, I'll have you know that my crush on Seokjin-seom has been going on for three months now! You proud?"

"Wait," said Taehyung, choking on his drink. "What!?"

Jimin sighed with a thin smile. "It's the same one. Our Acting teacher."

The surrounding classmates went into a mini-existential crisis.

"Oh man," said another classmate, patting his chest. "Student-Teacher crushes are weird."

"Yeah, I know," Seungwon sighed. "I mean, I'm not crazy enough to go after him or anything, it's just... look at him!"

"He's really handsome, yeah," Hoseok nodded.

"And he's really nice!"

Taehyung cringed. "But his jokes. Oh god."

"His jokes!" yelled Jimin and Seungwon in unison, as they cracked up together.

Taehyung shivered from the flashbacks.

Then, Hoseok hushed his voice into a whisper. "By the way, have you guys heard of... Namjin? "

"What?"

"What did he say?"

"Namjin? The heck is that?"

"Oh my god, you know about that?" Seungwon wiped a tear from her face. "Ah... Remember Namjoon-seom? Year Two English teacher."

"He's so cool!" Hoseok exclaimed. "Have you heard him rap before? He's so good. I heard he used to be an underground rapper for a hobby. HE'S SO COOL!"

"So. Basically people shipped two popular male teachers together," commented a classmate, who folded her arms, unamused. "How original."

"No, okay I know what it sounds like but they're actually, really close; listen, the past one month of my life has been dedicated towards this cause."

She dramatically clenched a fist and subtly leaned forward.

"Do you want to hear my case?" she said in a low voice, drawing in everyone's attention.

"Go ahead, tell them," said Jimin, seeming amused. "It's genuinely interesting, guys. She tells me about them every chance she gets."

"Okay," she started, clearing her throat. "So, I mean, it never really occurred to me to ship the two together. They have the same surname for starters, but that doesn't mean anything. There are a lot of people with the surname Kim. Me included. UNTIL!

"I was walking along the corridor, don't know what I was doing exactly, but I was doing stuff. And then I saw Seokjin-seom and obviously that's where my attention went. And he was walking with Namjoon-seom, and they were talking about something... something work-related, and they were laughing and joking around and I just temporarily lost my shit, because damn , there was something in the way they talked to each other. So I got curious.

"And..."

 

~

 

"Yoona-seom!"

"Ah?" A teacher turned towards her student, her long hair flipping back, revealing a face pretty enough to be the bane of many students' existences, male and female.

Upon recognising her, Yoona-seom smiled.

"Ah, Seungwonnie! How have you been?"

"I've been doing okay, I guess..." Seungwon seemed pensive. "Acting class has never been better, thanks to Seokjin-seom, hehe!"

"Ai, I'm hurt. Was I not a good enough teacher?"

Yoona was once Seungwon's Acting teacher in her second year. That was when she started to take a liking to Seungwon's bright, playful personality, and the girl knew it very well.

"No no!" Seungwon protested. "It's just that, you know, Seokjin-seom is a guy. It's just my hormones acting up, haha."

Yoona laughed. 'This kid...' her face seemed to say.

"Yoona-seom, do you have time right now?" Seungwon continued to ask. "We could talk in the canteen. It should be pretty quiet by now."

"Sure, I was heading there too!"

The female teacher-student duo walked there together.

"Did you want to talk to me about something?" asked Yoona-seom, sensing a little bit of her intention.

"Yeah," Seungwon admitted. "I think you already know. I wanted to talk about Seokjin-seom."

"Hm... yes? What about him? I know he's single, for now."

"Oh, I see. Ah, don't misunderstand, it's not that I want to pursue him or anything? It's just that... uh, recently I've been seeing him with Namjoon-seom a lot. The English teacher!"

"Eh? You noticed?" Yoona was surprised. "All the Acting teachers noticed too."

"Oh?!" Seungwon's eyes were gleaming. "How come?"

"Hmm. It’s just that... sometimes, Namjoon would randomly come over from the other end of the staffroom just to meet him for something? It's difficult to make friends across departments, but they became closer since about a month ago..."

"Oh, same here. Maybe they've been close for longer, but started to show it only recently?"

"Maybe! They're already being quite discreet now, they only hang around each other during school time, in between lessons and everything... if they've gone out together, I don't know about it."

"Ah..."

"Oh, and it's even scarier when you see the two of them together. Seokjin just suddenly... changes? He becomes a lot more giggly and he starts cracking a lot more stupid jokes, because Namjoon finds it funny! They look like they're trying to secretly flirt with each other? But they keep denying it. It's very suspicious…"

"Oh my god, that's adorable," said Seungwon, gasping. "Did anything else happen?"

 

~

 

"H-hey, you could become a detective or something," said Hoseok, seeming shaken. "I can't believe you'd even interrogate your teacher-"

"Had a friendly conversation over a cup of coffee with," Seungwon corrected. "And yeah, I asked a bit more, and, get this, they both have soulbrands. And apparently, according to separate rumours... they both have leaf shape markings! Coincidence? I don’t think so."

"That doesn't mean anything," Taehyung pointed out. "Soulmates don't have matching soulbrands most of the time."

"Though if they do, it means their affinity is really high," said Jimin. "Imagine if we ended up seeing them get together, wouldn’t it be funny?"

"Who knows, maybe we could even… inch them closer..."

"Well, it'll be hard to help, they're teachers after all," Seungwon said, and then sighed. "We're still hatching up a plan."

"We're...? Are you talking about me?!" said Jimin in surprise. "Since when was I part of this?"

"Of course it's you. Who else? You're my partner in crime."

"I'm not gonna crime. If you want mischief, ask Hobi, not me."

"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?!"

Taehyung had to restrain Hoseok from trying to strangle Jimin. They all ended up collapsing into a laughing mess soon after.

Chapter Text

Taehyung was feeling a little bit done with his best friend.

The one time he was trying his best to not slack off and actually do his work, Jimin had to insist on clinging onto him. The guy had put him in an affectionate chokehold and was squishing his cheeks every so often, while scrolling through his phone with a single hand.

"Jimin, what are you doing... let me do my work..."

"No." Jimin cutely grinned. Taehyung couldn't see it from his position, but he could hear it from his voice.

Meanwhile, Seungwon strolled into the class while also still looking at her phone screen.

"Ah, hello," greeted Taehyung, which was when she looked up and returned the gesture.

Jimin didn't even bother to greet her by now, and simply bared his toothy smile at her.

"Nice selca you just posted there, Jimin," Seungwon said to him. "I love how it has half of Taehyung's face in it."

"Are you kidding me? Jimin-ah, you took a photo of me without telling? Ai..." Taehyung half-glared at him, and then shook his head in disappointment.

Seungwon sighed. "Taehyung is cuter when he’s focusing on something. Jimin, stop bothering him and let him focus."

Reluctantly, Jimin let go and slinked off onto another chair. Taehyung shot a grateful look towards Seungwon, clutching his chest. "Thank you, kind soul."

Jimin's eyebrows scrunched together, though only slightly.

"Hey. Since you're so free, why don't you come with me to the dance studio later?" she asked. "Dance club would like to see SOTA's top dance student pull a few moves. Eh, wait, don't you usually have math lessons at this time..."

"Well, yeah. But our teacher isn't here today... yes!" he exclaimed to himself. "So I'm free."

"Great! Finally, you can see me in action."

Club activities were fun in a way, that examinable subjects could be shared with other students in a non-examinable setting, like in clubs. Jimin had obviously wanted to join the dance club, but his late lessons always clashed with their sessions. Instead, he was in Book Club with Hoseok, but that wasn't the same.

"Can I dance for them?" asked Jimin, his body language revealing all signs of excitement.

"I was prepared to bribe you into doing that, but okay, since you volunteered."

"Please take him away," said Taehyung, shaking his head. "I really need to finish this."

"Tae, I love you!" Jimin randomly exclaimed, forming a heart with his arms while walking out with Seungwon.

"Love you too," replied Taehyung, shrugging with a tired smile.

 

~~~~

 

Both of them changed into their PE shirts and dance pants, and began walking towards the studio that Jimin was extremely familiar with, having been accustomed to the daily grind of dance practice. But right now, he was jumping with excitement, ready to meet his fellow dance enthusiasts. Including his juniors! Jimin was going dizzy from excitement.

Or perhaps that was from all the spinning he was doing.

"Calm down, my friend," sighed the young lady beside him, who was nowhere near as excited but still grinning. "It's just this one time."

"I get to be a teacher! I get to guide my hoobae. I'm just spinning for warm up, Seungwon, only the pros do it like this."

"I'm... pretty sure that's not what they do... but okay."

They walked into a studio full of people, and received several warm greetings from the crowd.

"Hey, Seungwonnie! What's the surprise - eh?"

The dance instructor - who happened to be an alumni Jimin didn't recognise anyway - looked up curiously. "Who's that? A newcomer?"

"Nah," Jimin replied, "I'm not joining. I'm usually busy, so I can't come for Dance."

"Wait," said a fellow third year. "You're..."

"Get them all together for this," Seungwon interrupted her. "Let's share the excitement."

"Ah, okay." She raised and projected her voice. "Guys, guys, huddle around and listen up! We're starting soon."

Jimin wanted to spin around again at the sight of so many dance enthusiasts - some whom he recognised, other juniors whom he did not - all together.

"So." Seungwon cleared her throat. "So guys, I've brought my good friend along with me to Dance Club today."

Jimin took this cue to wave at everyone, beaming his trademark smile.

"And I know, you guys might be wondering right now, who is this random ass small boy in front of me?"

Mild laughter rose from the crowd, which got louder when Jimin shot her a deadpan look.

"Just kidding, he's actually taller than me anyway, lol. Okay, so this ain't just some random boy. He's Park Jimin, he majors in contemporary dance, and he's our School of the Art's top dance student! So, he's gonna dance for us and even teach us a little bit!"

The small crowd had been in stasis for a while, until the cheering spontaneously erupted, showering Jimin in clapping and whooping. He could only graciously bow.

"So, Jimin, what song will it be?"

"Hm... You guys do pop dance, right? I can do that, if you want."

An unanimous cheer secured the decision. "Okay! Then let's do..."

Seungwon had plugged her phone into the speaker. The two shared a nod, and as she started the music, he began.

A strong, lively EDM beat played in the background as he danced.

For someone who was as flexible not just physically, but mentally in their pace, the beat flowed in his every step. He didn't follow it exactly, but they somehow aligned. It was as if the music respected his prowess enough to conform to his style, instead of the other way around.

Seungwon, who barely ever saw Jimin dance seriously, widened her eyes. ‘This boy was this good the entire time?!’ her face seemed to ask.

The dance instructor was thoroughly impressed.

A quiet boy in the corner continued to stare at him intently, even long after the performance ended and their own practice started.

'So... You're Park Jimin...'

 

~~~~

 

They all felt so moved by his performance that the instructor even made him a temporary assistant.

"Feel free to correct any mistake you see amongst the dancers," he told him. "Be a little lenient, though, they're not pros."

Jimin was unbearably excited. He watched as the instructor danced the entire choreography for him, and tried to internalise it as best as he could.

Dance club had at least thirty members across the three years, which was pretty impressive. He could only recognise those from his year, understandably, which meant he was facing a stretch of unfamiliar faces.

Of course, out of the juniors he couldn't recognise, there were some who caught his eye.

One in particular had a normal, somewhat neat hairstyle, but really pretty features and really big eyes. Jimin couldn't help but stare at his face a little.

"Hold on, you there."

He walked over.

"I know this is a hard part, but it still has to look good. Make sure your body isn't stiff at places when it shouldn't be. Your movements must be clean, and they should look natural, but they can't be completely comfortable. You have to bend ." He did a physical demonstration of the move.

The boy nodded, listening intently to his words and processing every single one. At least it looked that way to Jimin.

"Okay. Let's start again from this part..."

"Okay, stop."

Jimin walked over to the same boy again. Upon realising this, the boy began to tense up, instinctively looking at the floor.

"You did better than before, but the kneeling part is - the rest of you, look too, because I see a lot of you doing this."

Jimin bent down awkwardly just to illustrate his point.

"Not this. This. "

He showed a proper one, slowly.

Some of the others tried to practice on their own. The boy looked a little too nervous to practice, since Jimin was right in front of him.

Seeing this, the supportive-sunbae instinct in him gave the boy a bright smile. "Don't worry, just try! You're doing well."

He patted him on the shoulder a few times. Slightly shaken, the boy nodded, and attempted the dance move again. It wasn't perfect, but satisfactory.

"See, you can do it!"

The boy looked at him directly for one second before looking back down at the floor, smiling slightly.

'So he's a shy type.'

Standing in front of him like this, Jimin couldn't help notice the height difference between them. He was clearly older than him, but was still tragically... shorter.

While in this advantaged position, Jimin snatched the opportunity and gave him a solid pat on his head.

"Stop growing!" he ordered childishly, before giving him a cheeky grin. The boy looked up, saw the expression and grinned too.

"Good job guys! Seungwon I saw you slacking, put more feeling into it. Okay, let’s go, five, six, seven eight..."

 

~~~~

 

The session finally ended, and Jimin felt like he was about to transcend his body. Teaching was exhausting work.

It didn’t help that even after it ended, practically all the dance club members were crowding around him, asking him questions about dance, school life, and other random stuff. He was already becoming an idol in all of their hearts.

Meanwhile, Seungwon was dying from laughter, and had to excuse herself for the restroom. Jimin himself was about to leave, when someone halted him.

"Sunbae-nim!"

Despite the unfamiliar voice, Jimin instinctively knew it was directed at him. He looked to his side.

"Park... Jimin... is your name, right?"

It was the boy from earlier. Jimin only now noticed that he hadn't been in the crowd earlier, but it wasn't surprising, knowing his shy disposition. Jimin was worn out by the earlier crowd, but after seeing his face he couldn't bring himself to get too annoyed.

"Yeah. what's up?"

"I just wanted to say that you're... really good. At dancing, and teaching others how to. I just hoped that you'd come by more often to teach."

Jimin felt as if an arrow had been shot through his heart. ‘Is this what being a teacher feels like?!’

"Ah..." Jimin giggled weirdly, earning a skeptical look from the other guy. "I really wish I could be here all the time, but my lessons really do clash with this. I'll try to pop by more often though, since you asked so nicely."

He made a single finger gun at the guy, who simply nodded.

"By the way, what's your name?"

The boy sucked in a deep breath. "Jeon Jungkook."

"Ah. You're really good at dance, actually! When did you start?"

"Uh... when I first came into SOTA, I guess. And I'm a second year, so..."

"What?! So you've only been doing this for over a year?"

"I did go for some classes outside of school. Not anymore though."

"Why not?"

"My uh... Taekwondo sessions were cutting into them," he responded with a softer voice.

"Woah, you're learning that? What belt?"

Most people would just say "oh" or nod their heads by now. Jungkook was a little shaken by the constant stream of questions.

Jungkook scratched the back of his head. "Yeah... I'm a black belt..."

"Which dan?"

"...almost sam dan..."

"Third belt?! So you're actually good at it too. Wow, you're probably more talented than me... I just spend most of my time in dance."

"Well..." Jungkook looked like he was searching for the words to say. "I guess that's why you're good at it."

"Hm, yeah, I guess. Hey, just curious, what subjects do you take?"

"Um... Film and Art major, Math minor. The last one is... yeah... I'm struggling..."

"Oh, same, haha." Jimin gave him a sort of unity-in-suffering smile. "If you need help, I can teach you how to do some questions. Although I'm not exactly great at it, I do... moderately well."

"Okay. Either way, you'd know more than the others in my year."

"Hehe... anyway, see you around, Jungkook-sshi!"

"You too, Jimin-sunbae."

"Hyung is fine!"

"Jimin-hyung."

Jimin grinned before running off.

Jungkook faintly smiled. Then, his phone seemed to have vibrated, because then he pulled it out and checked it.

On his face showed a dark look, as slight as his previous smile.

 

~~~~

 

Jimin quickly met up with Seungwon, who was just across the corridor.

"Hey," she said once he walked closer, "You know who you were talking to, right?"

"You mean Jungkook-sshi? Why?"

"Yes? What do you mean why!?" Seungwon looked like someone had told her that she wore her shirt inside-out today. "Holy fucking shit, do you not know who he is?"

"...I don't keep up with our hoobaes' current affairs..."

"He's practically a celebrity in the entire Second Year. He's pretty popular, and really talented."

"Ah? I know he's good at dance, but he seemed pretty lowkey earlier."

"That's the point. You know he's in Dance and Football? And that his art is no joke? His video was featured in a national art exhibition before. I mean, so did the other art students, since it was part of their thing... but like, it was legit enough to be displayed. That's gotta mean something."

Jimin felt a little speechless. The way she said it made it sound dubious, but... it actually made a lot of sense.

"I still can't believe it... and he's good at Taekwondo, too. Would have never thought that someone so soft-spoken would actually be popular , though."

"Well, he's handsome. Don't lie, I saw you looking."

"Ah... yeah... there's that."

"It's quite funny, actually. He's tall, handsome, talented, and people crush on him all the time. Because he's got that mysterious vibe, you know, keeps to himself... I heard he got pretty cold and dismissive of his last-year classmates, it became really serious after a while. He hated a lot of people, apparently."

"Ah. I don't think that's..."

"Hm?"

"I don't know. It doesn't feel like that to me. He's not that mysterious, more of... shy?"

"Apparently he gets shy when talking to girls he doesn't know," said Seungwon with a smirk. "Maybe that says something about you."

"No, shut up. Yeah, see, he seems the type to be shy around the opposite gender. He's like an anime protagonist."

Seungwon laughed. "I just find it strange how he thought you as significant enough to approach you personally. Maybe you really do have that effect on people."

Jimin grinned. "Of course! I'm a social butterfly~"

"Like a butterfly~"

The two cracked up, like it was some kind of inside joke. It really wasn't that hard to guess, though - it was the butterfly soulbrand on Jimin's back, waiting for the day it meets its other half, his soulmate… funny, because unknown to them, it already had.

Chapter Text

It was nearing five thirty and the basketball boys were ending their training session. The coach had already left early, letting them stretch on their own, but it turned out being a very bad decision.

The boys did stretch, but stretch properly they did not. The court was in chaos as the guys fooled around. Only Yoongi was tired enough to have passed out on the floor, fast asleep.

Taehyung had the silliest, dumbest smile on his face as he slowly crept up to him, near his ear.

“Boo!”

Yoongi screamed, causing Taehyung to have a fit.

"Taehyung, why?! That was so fucking predictable."

"Because I can," came the wheezing reply, "and you still reacted anyway!"

"I swear to god, I'm going to-"

Suddenly, the entire venue went silent, effectively shushing him up too.

A football had been kicked into the court, smashing into a solid wall. It caused no damage, but was very loud.

A team member near it picked it up, and realised there was a piece of paper stuck to it.

"It says - ’If you got the guts, come out to the outside field!’ "

The others stared at the ball, perplexed.

Yoongi was the first to break the silence.

“Who the fuck?”

 

~~~~

 

If you wanted to meet a SOTA student at the field, you had to specify which one.

There was the inside field, which was the one inside school. There was another one a little bit outside of school, a little smaller but a lot more discreet. That was the outside field the basketball members ended up meeting the football boys.

There was a smirk from the guy in the centre, who was clearly captain of the footballers.

"If it isn't the Happy Cappy of our school's precious basketball team."

The basketball captain grinded his teeth, biting back a string of curses.

The two captains stared at each other, hinting an old animosity directed towards each other.

The two had never gotten along. Their personalities were polar opposites, and clashed too well. And when the Minjun-Sunhwan fiasco happened, it just became worse.

"You know, we've been having a lot of really complicated drama between us," said the football captain, sighing. "Let's release the tension and have some fun, shall we?"

The other boys dropped the equipment on the ground, some smirking.

"Nothing like a bit of friendly Paintball?"

"You stuck-up prick," spat the basketball captain. "You're. Fucking. On."

'Oh, fuck,' was Yoongi's first thought, as the other boys around him started to get riled up. Not that he wasn't feeling the anger himself, but this - this was just insane.

"Captain," he quickly told him. "This isn't a good idea. If we just report these bitchass-"

"Report?" The captain laughed. "What's a report going to do? Make them call us wimps, and then do it again. He's right, you know. Let's release some of that goddamn anger today!"

Yoongi sighed. He had already knew his captain's temperament - the guy was incredible at strategy and team-building, but all that logic went out of his brain once he got very, very, pissed off. Very few people could actually get him to that level, though.

The football captain was one of them.

'Well, at least I tried.'

It was time to get the hell out of there.

Taehyung was typing up a frantic text on his phone, delaying him a bit while the others charged ahead.

Spotting him, Yoongi quickly ran over to him, grabbing his arm.

"Tae, let's leave before things get ugly."

"Hyung, but they're..."

"Yeah, but it's not gonna end well, I don't want you hurt-"

"I've already reported it. They're sending someone down to stop them."

"Oh," Yoongi was surprised that Taehyung was so proactive. "Okay, then that's good, let's go."

"Go? But we- we can't just leave Sunhwan, or Captain! We're a team!"

"What?! Are you serious?" Yoongi scowled. "This 'team' mentality is exactly what's going to fucking get us in trouble!"

Taehyung obviously didn't like the sound of those words.

"Well, if you want to leave. Then just do it. I'm staying."

His judging eyes pierced through Yoongi. The older guy's pain must have leaked out onto his face somehow, because then Taehyung's eyes flashed with guilt: wordlessly, Yoongi turned around and left.

While running away, he spotted a boy at the back of the football crowd, staring right at him, and had clearly been staring for a while. He had none of his seniors' bravado and sort of hung around at the back, as if hoping to blend in until the last moment - something Yoongi himself did often.

'Well, if Tae doesn't want my help, then this boy might.'

He sneakily walked past the group, breaking the eye contact with him for a short moment before walking right back and grabbing him by the arm. The boy jolted and turned around, a little frightened.

"Let's go," said Yoongi simply. The boy needed no further explanation, and nodded.

The two escaped, while the fight went on. Angry, testosterone-filled boys were firing paint at each other, staining their shirts, their gear.

"Stop! Guys, stop!"

The voice was male, not deep enough to cause any feelings of emasculation, but it was fierce enough to cause some of them to stop in their tracks.

Taehyung turned around, his eyes widening. "Jimin!"

"STOP IT!" boomed a deeper voice.

The others' attention were properly caught, and as they turned around they suddenly stopped in place, catching the eye of a very angry teacher.

"Seokjin-seom..."

Meanwhile, Jimin ran over to Taehyung, Seungwon following by his side.

"Tae, I'm glad you're safe. But you really need to clean up."

"You brought... him?"

"He was there when you texted me."

"Doing what?"

Jimin looked at Seungwon. "Consultation?"

Taehyung needed no further explaining.

"Ah! Seriously, what the hell is this?!" Seokjin was furious. "Paintball? Who allowed this equipment out here? And the worst thing is that you aren't even doing this for fun. What's the use of this rivalry anyway? Aren't you high school students?! Why are you acting like twelve-year-olds?!"

He took in a deep breath, as the field bogged down with frightened silence.

"This place is a mess. It’s a public space, by the way, people are going to see this and put the blame on the school! I don't think it would take all of you to hose this down, but I want this field clean by tomorrow morning. If I see a single speck of paint left, all of you will run rounds and head straight to detention. And by all of you, I mean all the basketball and football club members , whether they were present or not."

Taehyung was the first to flinch.

'Yoongi-hyung!' Something deep within him began to taunt him, leaving a sour taste in his mouth.

 

~~~~

 

Meanwhile, two escapees had eventually found a little deserted patch of the school, far away from the drama.

The boy Yoongi had dragged along with him seemed a little awkward, a little nervous.

"Shouldn't we report those people?" he asked Yoongi, who simply shrugged.

"Don't worry. Someone already reported it earlier."

"Ah, that's good."

They sat down next to each other, silent for a second.

"Thank you," said the boy gratefully. "For getting me out of that."

"No problem." Yoongi gave him a smile.

The boy smiled back, and the atmosphere eased.

"So… in case you’re wondering, I'm Min Yoongi. You?"

"J-Jeon Jungkook."

"Ah. You look like you're in second or third year. Either way, I'm your hyung."

"Second," Jungkook replied. "Also, how come?"

"I'm a retainee, you know. I'm actually twenty."

"Oh, so you retained when you were a… Second Year?”

“Yeah, I…”

Yoongi trailed off his sentence then, which immediately made Jungkook curious.

"Why? If you don't mind me asking, of course."

"Nah, I don't mind telling you if you don't mind listening."

"I'll listen," said Jungkook with all the young trust in the world.

Yoongi smiled a little. "Well, firstly, it was my terrible grades. Uh... I guess that's not how it starts. The first thing that happened was depression. No... that's... well I guess there isn't really a first thing."

He sighed.

"Anyway, I guess the depression was a build up of things. Family's poor, so I had to part-time work and all. I just felt like I was such a burden . I mean, I'm not the smartest kid. I'm not gonna climb the corporate ladder, and I'm a music type... yeah, sounds like I'm in for a world of poverty, huh?"

He licked his lips. "I felt like my life was useless and all that. Only thing I had was my music. Oh, and basketball. But they weren't always there for me, either."

He turned around mid-rambling, expecting Jungkook to doze off or seem off-put by the sudden baggage, but surprisingly the boy's eyes were even wider than before, wholly invested into his monologue, as if pleading, 'Go on'.

Yoongi never liked sharing too much about himself, but there was something about Jungkook, his genuine interest and large, curious eyes, that made him so comfortable talking to him. It was as if he could talk about anything with him.

In a way, this boy reminded him of Jimin.

He cleared his throat. "Anyway, my depression hit, my grades were literal shit. Like a dog crapped it out and rolled around in it. And, well, I felt like life was utter hell, of course. Then I got to see Principal with my parents, talked stuff out... And they agreed to give me the rest of the year off and make me take another year.

"I was so against it at first. There was the extra year of school fees. A year I'm in school unable to work full-time. But my parents were so... supportive? I don't know, I just... never really felt so... y'know? Like they cared about me so much. It was always about money, money, money."

He saw Jungkook having a minor revelatory moment.

"Too much?" he asked, just in case.

Jungkook shook his head. "I'm just wondering, how did you get into SOTA? The tuition fees aren't... cheap..."

"I guess I was lucky. Jinyoung-seom - yes, the music HOD, saw my work while I was still in middle school. Then I told him some stuff, got to see Principal with my parents, blah blah blah... then I got in. I mean my grades were okay, it wasn't even a scholarship. The financial assistance for this school is just amazing, I guess."

"So then," said Jungkook, "You were basically exempted from college entry last year? What were you doing then? Working full-time?"

'He's still interested?!' Yoongi was genuinely shocked. 'I've just been rambling...'

"Well," he said, "I was working, mostly. I only came to school for basketball. Anyway, that's too much of me and too little of you. What do you do, Jungkook-sshi, other than kicking some balls?"

Jungkook cracked a smile. "Eh... Taekwondo? Though I sometimes accidentally kick people in the, you know. And dance, and art, and stuff like that. I'm better at doing things that aren’t studying. My grades are... not doing that well... I'm kind of worried they'd make me retain."

Yoongi shrugged, in a 'been there, done that' manner. "Retaining isn't that bad, actually."

"Why?"

"Well, because I retained, I get to see my basketball hoobae for one more year. And I get to graduate with them."

Jungkook laughed. "You really like your teammates, huh."

"Yeah..." A soft, gentle smile appeared on his face. "I had a few friends from my age. But I had a lot of favourite hubae."

"That's... I don't know. For me, I don't really had a lot of friends in the first place... hey, there was that one you tried to pull away, right?"

"Ah?" Right, Yoongi caught this boy staring at him earlier. He must have seen them. "Yeah, that's uh, Taehyung. He's really great, really friendly. Often annoying, but... I like him."

Jungkook began to smile too. "You seem protective of him."

"Don't you ever feel that way sometimes?" Yoongi continued. "Like... you just want to protect somebody? That's how I feel, I guess. Towards him. The rest of them too, but... him in particular. You get that with people who annoy you."

Yoongi was very sure that his last sentence made no logical sense at all, and the glint in Jungkook's eyes probably meant that he probably knew.

'This guy is scary.'

"It does feel nice to have that protection sometimes," Jungkook finally said in response. "Feeling of friends... though, I always feel kind of scared. Like, maybe this person doesn't actually like me. Maybe we're just friends because we see each other so often. Sometimes it feels like I don't get to choose my friends, so, it's nice when people go out of their way to look out for you, and stuff like that. Those people, I treasure the most."

Yoongi smiled knowingly, nodding.

 

~~~~

 

Seokjin-seom swept a strong look amongst all of the boys, a stern glare that asserted his authority as a teacher, despite his usually casual disposition when he taught.

"Who's in charge? Own up now, I want to hear your reasons. The rest of you better start cleaning."

Of course, the captains were the first to step up and admit their faults. But Seokjin eventually found that the root cause wasn’t them, but two boys with unresolved issues.

Jimin looked at the two of them and sighed. “It’s about Choi Miri, right?”

Seungwon groaned, darting her eyes to the side as if rolling them was too blatantly rude. "Seriously? That girl?"

“I’ve heard of her…” Seokjin-seom remarked.

The two boys were immediately sceptical.

"What about her, huh?" asked Minjun.

"A lot of people have got beef with her because of her popularity," said Sunhwan, with a well-disguised half-frown.

Only Jimin seemed to take her words fairly seriously.

Seungwon closed her eyes briefly. "No, it's not just her popularity. She was in one of my friend's class, and you know how I stick my nose in places where it shouldn't be." She turned to Jimin, who nodded knowingly. Then, she leaned in, a grave expression on her face, leading the other boys to lean closer as well.

"She's... kind of a psychopath," she whispered intently.

"A what?!" Both boys outraged, not so much in anger but ridicule. "She's not crazy! She's perfectly nice?"

"No, I'm not saying she's crazy, as in psycho. I mean that she literally is psychopathic.”

Jimin cut in. “You know how there are people who just... seem like they don’t feel human emotions? Yeah, those. Manipulative, destroying people for their entertainment. They’re usually terrible."

Seungwon nodded. "She backstabs. She pretends to be innocent. And more importantly, she never shows any kind of sincere remorse. Don't believe me? Trust me, I've gone through enough cases for it to be uncanny, if not totally disturbing. I can explain them to you one by one."

She waited for the boys' responses, but got none. That was a response in itself - their eyes harboured disbelief, but she could tell it wasn't blind disbelief. Instinctively, she knew that there was a part of them who believed her, even before she said it out loud.

A sudden realisation hit her.

'These boys don't actually love her.'

In her brain, there came a click and then an excited whirring. The curiosity was now at an all time high. She needed to get to the bottom of this. But first, she needed to hammer the idea deep in their heads.

"I'll tell the one about my friend. She, unfortunately, got pretty close with Miri, so she began to be really kind towards her. There was a guy who kept hitting on this friend, so Miri led him away for her. My friend ended up telling her a few secrets."

"Then, Miri started asking for those favours back. Most times, she'd take my friend's homework and 'use it to check her answers' , though apparently she copies most of them anyway. And she even tried to get her to help her cheat.

“And the worst part was...  She told the friend’s crush some really terrible lies about the other guy, using her actual secrets, which pretty much left their friendship in tatters. Sound familiar…?"

The two guys looked at each other.

“Did Miri say anything about me?” asked Sunhwan.

Minjun gulped. “It was just… the way that she said it… it was as if the two of you liked each other.”

"Huh? But I don’t like her?"

"But Miri told me you did?"

“She told me you did!”

The realisation rapidly smacked the two guys in the face.

Seokjin-seom, who hadn’t even had the chance to get a single word in, marvelled at their ability to solve the problem. It was better than what any teacher could have done.

Seungwon sighed. "What did I tell you? She's a damn snake!"

"Wait, Minjun..." said Sunhwan. "If you don't like her... then why do you hate me so much?"

"I don't hate you... you're the one who hates me. You never actually cared about me? I'm always left out, and you're always talking to her and your other friends."

"I... I don't hate you either? I've always thought you were really cool to hang out with, but then..."

"Whatever, it doesn't matter! We're both in trouble now, and it's because of you."

" My fault?!"

Minjun shut his eyes. "Fine, it's my fault! Are you happy now?"

"What- MINJUN!"

Jimin and Seungwon watched as Sunhwan began chasing after him, and Seokjin-seom eventually followed suit.

“Well, there’s that,” said Seungwon, sighing.

"I can't believe she'd rat on your friend's secrets to ruin her crush's impression of her, though,” commented Jimin. “That's a low blow."

"Hm. Yeah, well, I may have exaggerated a little bit there. She didn't actually do that. But basically, the guy liked Miri and she led him on anyway. It still stands that she is a dangerous person to be around."

Jimin gave her a look of slight disappointment, but also secretly admiration.

"So uh... what's happening with them?"

"Oh, it's elementary, dear Wats- Park. Jimin."

"Huh?"

"You'll see," she declared with a smirk. "If those two don't get together by the end of the term, I'll sit through the entirety of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie with you."

"Oh. Also, not like I would want to?!"

 

~~~~

 

Back to the two stragglers, blissfully unaware of the punishment that inadvertently weighed down on them as well.

"Anyway... I guess I'm a performer,” said Jungkook. “I like singing, dancing, rapping even..."

"Ah! I rap too. Have you written any songs before?"

"No, I think I'm quite bad at it... I can only sing and all that stuff. That's why I went for auditions."

"Wait, really? Which company?"

"Um..." Jungkook started listing several companies, and when he got to one in particular Yoongi suddenly yelled.

"I'm in that company!"

"Wait, what?! You work there?"

"I'm a trainee there."

" What?! "

"I got accepted when I was in Year Two. Well, my first year of Year Two. Then last year, when I... wasn't in school... I trained, and then worked there for them."

"That's so cool!" Jungkook's eyes were gleaming astutely. He looked as if he wanted to say something, until he realised the fast, frantic footsteps he'd been hearing were growing louder and louder. Then, a high-pitched voice yelled in the distance.

"Yoongi-hyung!"

Jungkook blinked once, swearing he had heard that voice before.

"Ah, Jimin, it's you."

Jungkook froze. He looked up at the group heading towards them, discovering them to be a trio. Yoongi didn't recognise the girl, but the other two guys were more than familiar.

"So, hyung, who did you elope with-" Jimin turned towards the other guy and gasped, grinning widely. "Eh? I remember you!"

Jungkook gave him a small smile. "Jimin-hyung."

"Oh, you know each other?"

"You know him?"

"Nah, I just picked him up. Saved him from the terror of angry paintball."

Then, Yoongi turned towards the other guy, looking him up and down a bit, guilt buried deep in his gaze.

It wasn't as if Taehyung was doing a wrong thing, especially after he'd already reported the fight. Yoongi knew that. They just didn't agree on the same course of action.

"You're dirty as all hell," he said, finally. "But I'm glad you're okay, Tae."

Taehyung's gaze softened, and he shrugged. "You too."

"So... what did y'all do while we sorted out the mess?" asked Jimin, a little cheekily. "Talk about life?"

"Mostly about his life, I think," Jungkook replied.

"What?" Jimin was incredulous. "You've managed to survive his rambling?"

Jungkook laughed. "I like his rambling."

Yoongi gave him a toothy grin. He was beginning to like this boy more and more.

"Okay, but what happened out there while we were gone?" he asked. "Did someone get injured? Or die?"

"Well," said Seungwon, puffing up her chest. "The whole thing was settled by someone with a very keen sense of observation-"

"Sorry," said Yoongi again, quickly, "but who are you?"

She jolted at the sudden question. "Ah, right, we haven't met."

"Hey guys, I'm hungry," said Taehyung suddenly. "Want some food? There's a nice place near Jimin's."

"Hey, sure!" Jimin exclaimed. "Jungkook, you're invited too!"

"Wha- me?!"

"Yeap!"

"B-but..."

These people were his sunbaes, all older than him! He didn't even remotely fit in-

"Hey, just come along," said Taehyung, with a wink. "Let's get to know each other better, okay?"

'Uh...' Jungkook almost blushed.

"Excuse me, you're not allowed to hit on my hoobae ," Jimin interrupted, his brotherly protective instincts flaring up. "Jungkook-ah, ignore him."

He slung his arm over the back of Taehyung's neck, tugging him not-so-gently. Taehyung yelled, causing Jimin, and Jungkook, to snicker.

"So, you guys don't mind hanging out together?" said Seungwon, turning to the maknae. "Don't worry, we won't bite."

Jungkook shrugged with a small smile.

Chapter Text

The small food place near Jimin's home was rather decently sized, and while the place wasn't crowded, business seemed to be doing well. There were a few tables empty to eat from, where the gang plopped themselves down on.

They were greeted with warm welcomes, and it took a while for them to order their food and relax for a little while. Taehyung and Seungwon began explaining to the two absentees about the earlier happenings, while Jimin scrolled through his phone in casual silence. Occasionally, he would suddenly burst out in laughter before showing the rest some sort of picture or meme, and cause the entire gang to gag or splutter in amusement.

"Oh, that's a big group of friends, Jimin-ah," commented a waitress, who was walking out with their steaming plates of food. "What's the occasion?"

"Well, we're just hanging out," Jimin replied with a shrug.

"We kind of just survived a near-death experience," Taehyung added, while eyeing the food hungrily.

"Hm..." The waitress simply shook her head and left.

The dishes were set down on their table,and they dug in. Taehyung gobbled a piece of veggie while Seungwon poked her noodles a bit.

"Wait, so you're saying we were involved in some sort of twisted gay love story angst?" asked Yoongi in astonishment.

"Yeap," said Seungwon. "I'm willing to bet 5,000 won that they'll get together by end of this term."

"Wow, only one term?" questioned Taehyung, sounding doubtful.

"I dare say, it'll only take one month."

"Month?!"

" Week. Okay maybe not week, maybe fortnight."

"You're kidding!" Taehyung looked scandalised.

"I'll bet 5,000 won too," Jimin called, putting a hand onto the table, smirking.

"Jiminie..." Seungwon clutched her collar. "I'm touched..."

Jimin gave her a silly grin. "This is called friendship."

A soft voice suddenly spoke, too.

"I think it's possible. I'll bet too."

Jimin and Seungwon turned towards Jungkook, eyes showing pleasant surprise.

"Hell yeah, Jungkookie seal of approval!" Jimin declared, knocking the table with his fingertips. "We're gonna win."

"What?!" Taehyung's confidence was starting to waver, but his eyes were telling the world that this was a matter of manly pride. "Three against one isn't fair... Yoongi-hyung, you have to side with me now."

"Eh? No way," Yoongi folded his arms. "This is your game. Gambling is too much risk."

Taehyung pouted. "If you join me, you only need to pay each of them 2,500 won."

"That's 7,500 won too many."

"Aw..."

Taehyung sulked. "Fine, I'm a man of my word! I'll still pay the 15,000 won if you win. But I'll get 15,000 in return."

Yoongi quietly watched them, chewing slowly as the others slurped down their food. Finally, he closed his eyes.

"Taehyung-ah, I'll join the bet."

The others looked up from their bowls with shining eyes, especially Taehyung.

"Thank you, hyung!" he exclaimed, dropping everything to give him a big hug.

"A-anyway," said Yoongi, attempting to regain his composure, even while still being grabbed by his dongsaeng. "It's impossible that they'll get together in only two weeks. You're making a foolishly bold claim."

Seungwon smirked. "One day, you'll learn to trust my judgement."

~~~~


"J-Jimin-hyung, are you sure this is okay? I mean, I-I don't even know you that well-"

Taehyung sighed, patting him on the head a few times. "Jungkook-ah, it's okay. We've crashed his house so many times, it's no big deal."

Jimin put an arm around Jungkook’s shoulders, pulling him closer to his body. "Don’t be scared, my parents are nice.”

"Okay..." Jungkook looked at the ground, burying his hands in his pockets.

They walked into the entrance of a humble family abode. It was only when Jimin lifted his hand and ran ahead of the group that Jungkook realised how soothing Jimin’s warmth felt, because he was already starting to miss it.

"Appa, eomma, I brought my friends over!" he shouted into the living room.

The two parents walked out towards the entrance to see their guests. Jimin’s father simply smiled and nodded, while his mother seemed surprised.

“Ah!” she exclaimed. “Welcome, welcome… Have some cookies if you’d like, they’re on the dining table.”

The friends greeted the adults respectfully. As they settled themselves into the house, Jimin’s mother pulled him aside.

“Jimin-ah,” said his mother, sternly. “Next time, tell me in advance when you invite so many friends over.”

“But eomma-”

“They’re not here to eat or anything,” his father cut in. “What’s wrong with letting them hang out here for a while?”

“That’s… true, yes, but at least tell us when you’re going to bring them here, okay?”

Jimin nodded.

Meanwhile, Jungkook looked around, discovering a wall filled with picture frames and fridge magnets. He tried to spot Jimin in them - his baby photos, his dance friends, competitions, vacations... somehow, his face was always somewhat recognisable in every single one.

His mother saw his curious gaze, stared at him for a while and then widened her eyes.

"Are you a new friend?” she asked. “I haven’t seen you before."

Jungkook introduced himself, while Jimin's mother welcomed him warmly, offering him an extra cookie or two.

"Oh, it's okay," he politely declined.

"No, I insist!"

"Eomma, don't scare my hoobae, please." Jimin felt a little dumbfounded by all the fanfare his new friend was getting recently.

 

~~~~


"Jimin's dongsaeng, where are you~" Taehyung called out.

After a few seconds, a door in the corridor opened to reveal a small boy in school uniform rubbing his eyes, seeming bored.

He seemed to have already expected guests, by the way he responded to Taehyung - but he certainly didn't expect so many of them.

"Hyung!" he cried out. "I know you have a lot of friends, but you didn't have to rub it in my face, right?!"

Jimin stuck out his tongue.

"It's okay," said Taehyung, walking over to pat his head. "At least you've got me."

Jimin's brother sighed. Yes, at least the nice, funny hyung was here...

"Wah, it's you again!" Seungwon exclaimed. "You remember me, right?"

"Ah... noona..."

Suddenly, he seemed a little more nervous than before.


~~~~

 

"So, how’s school going for you, huh?" asked Taehyung with a grin. "How was the girl who tried to ask you out?"

"I did what you told me to."

"And? What did she say?"

"She ran away-"

"Tae! Look at this Kumamon hoodie!" Yoongi groaned as if it were a bad thing, which was heavily ironic. "I want it so bad…"

"Then get it," replied Taehyung, straight to the point.

"But it’s 50,000 won..."

"Oh."

Hearing his dongsaeng’s dismal response just made Yoongi pout at his screen, seeming even sadder.

"Now where was I?" Taehyung immediately turned his attention back to the adorable child. "Oh, right-"

Much to Taehyung’s surprise, Jimin’s brother started tsking at him.

"You shouldn’t ignore your boyfriend," he chastised, as if he were the older one.

"My- eh?" Taehyung looked at Yoongi, who looked just as confused. "He's not my boyfriend."

"Huh, really? But the two of you are gay, right?"

"Wha-" Yoongi spluttered, while Taehyung stared in shock. "Did Jimin tell you?"

"Uh, no?"

"Wait wait wait, hyung, really?" Taehyung said with wide eyes. "I didn't know you were? How come you never told me?"

"When have I ever needed to tell you? And how about you, are you…?!"

"I, uh, I don't know?"

"Wait, kid," said Yoongi, turning to Jimin's little brother. "How could you tell?"

He shrugged. "All the friends that hyung brings home are gay."

Both Taehyung and Yoongi speechlessly stared at him, and then at each other. And then mysteriously, as if a gear had clicked, they turned towards Jungkook simultaneously, eyeing him with mild suspicion.

The maknae of Jimin's gang didn't seem to catch the message. He thought he had been caught eavesdropping, and looked incredibly shaken.


~~~~


A loud explosion of thunder rumbled throughout the house, jolting them out of their fun.

"Holy shit, what’s up with the lightning?!" yelled a frightened Taehyung.

Jimin quickly peeked behind the curtain. "Guys, the rain is getting really heavy..."

The gang scurried outside, to where Jimin's parents were scrambling for the remote to switch to the news channel.

"It's a thunderstorm, alright... And it's going to last for a few more hours. Likely throughout the night."

" Viewers are advised to stay indoors, or seek shelter immediately. "

"Shit," Seungwon cursed, "I gotta call my dad..."

 

~~~~


"So, I guess I'm staying for the night," she announced, once she hung up the phone.

"Your... parents allow you to stay over at a guy's house?" asked Taehyung, an eyebrow raised.

"Uhh..." She sighed. "My parents have met him before, and I think they're in love with him. They still think he's my boyfriend or something.”

"Isn't that more suspicious?!"

"I don't know, I think they trust him. Or maybe they want me to... like... do it..." She shuddered. "Ew. Sex is overrated."

Jungkook caught that. "Noona, are you ace?"

"Ooh, very observant," she praised him. "Yes, I am. I think I'm straight though, otherwise."

"So," said Jimin, as he swung the door open and stepped in. "Other than my room, there's also a guest room, and I think Seungwon will prefer sleeping on her own."

"Eh, I'll sleep on the sofa outside. You guys can share two beds among yourselves, maybe in pairs or something."

"Oh, that means I get to sleep here. Ahh..." Yoongi flopped onto Jimin's bed, stretching and yawning like he already owned the place.

With a cunning glint in his eyes, Jimin pounced on the guy; chaos ensued as Yoongi began struggling under his grasp.

"Hyung... I love you so much..." he whined in a sing-song voice, while Yoongi choked on his own saliva.

"Get... off me..."

Jungkook rested his arms and chin on the side of the bed while it bounced and rumbled, seeming very amused.

"Wait, Jimin-ah, I thought I was going to sleep with you..." said a slightly dejected Taehyung.

Yoongi fake glared at him. "Tae, back off, he's mine." He grabbed him tighter, resulting in a squeak from the slightly smaller guy.

"How come hyung is in such high demand?" asked Jungkook, giggling.

"They both want the Jibooty," said Seungwon, smiling. "Anyway, since I do not want to hear weird sounds in the middle of the night, I think Jungkook-sshi should room with Jimin. Then Tae and Yoongi-oppa."

Jungkook bristled at that comment. "I'm okay with sleeping on the couch, though..."

This was too awkward. It wasn't just Jimin, either - if he had to sleep next to Taehyung or Yoongi he would also have a mini-freakout. There was no need to even talk about Seungwon, who was part of the whole ’girl’ territory he didn’t even dare tread on in a military tank.

"Aw, Kookie," said Jimin, pouting. "Do you really hate me that much? I promise I won't touch you weirdly on the bed."

That didn't help with Jungkook's anxiety at all.

"Yoongi-hyung..." began Taehyung, who looked at his sleeping partner with a mildly suggestive gaze.

"Nope, do not touch me," Yoongi replied, calmly waving him off.

"But why not?" Taehyung gently slipped his arms around Yoongi's neck from behind him. The hyung simply sighed in resignation.

Meanwhile, Seungwon just closed her eyes and silently cursed the weather.

'This is the real reason why I shouldn't be on a sleepover with four guys...'

Chapter Text

It was already pretty late at night, the clock hands showing five minutes to eleven. Taehyung thought he was fairly out of sight from the others, once he asked to go to the bathroom. Then, the door creaked open behind him, revealing Yoongi behind it.

“Ah, are you using the toilet too? You can use it first,” Taehyung quickly said, to cover his own tracks.

Yoongi simply shrugged.

“Nah, I’m gonna get another cookie. Those are the shit .”

Damn it! That was Taehyung’s plan too.

“Let’s get some together,” Yoongi immediately responded, seeing right through his facial expression, and Taehyung reluctantly agreed.

They paced down the hallway, both pretty excited about their secret mini-heist. Taehyung even helped him open the lid, both very cooperative until they both realised-

There was only one cookie left.

It was a split second decision. Their arms shot into the large jar, and their hands touched the little morsel of goodness at the exact same time.

Yoongi turned towards his dongsaeng, his eyes scorching him with an unusual spark of determination.

"This is the last one, and I'm having it."

T aehyung stared at him with widened eyes. "But you've had so many!"

Their stare-down battle lasted for a few seconds.

“Hmph.” Yoongi paused for a little while. "Fine, just take it then."

“Oh, okay.” Taehyung hesitantly grabbed the piece. "...now I feel bad..."

"No, no, just eat it, I don't mind."

Taehyung stared at his piece glumly, before he suddenly had an idea.

"Hyung, you can have a piece if you eat it from here." He stuck the cookie in between his teeth, nudging it towards Yoongi that way.

Barely a second later, Yoongi’s eyes lit up with way too much enthusiasm to be natural. As soon as Yoongi leaned forward, their faces way too close for comfort, Taehyung realised how close to death he was.

Before their lips could touch, he quickly inhaled the entire piece back into his mouth, shocked that his hyung was actually willing to go so far for the one, singular cookie.

Yoongi narrowed his eyes at him. "You didn't even honour your word."

Taehyung felt utterly defeated.

"I’m sorry hyung, I'll buy you breakfast tomorrow."


~~~~

"Ah, yes, my favourite part of a sleepover," sighed Seungwon as she sat herself in the circle of cross-legged boys. "Deep conversation."

Jimin and Taehyung were currently howling over memes, with Jungkook peering over their shoulders.

"These kiddos," said Yoongi to her, shaking his head.

"Aw, this is precious," gushed Taehyung. "Hyung, look! Kookie, sorry, move a bit."

He showed the screen to Yoongi. Clearly, they had moved on from crack videos and were now watching a kitten with the most adorable flower print just below the back of its neck.

"Aw…" Yoongi was mildly affected. "Cute soulbrand."

"And it’s so pretty and well-defined," said Jimin, "And really big for his size!"

Yoongi couldn’t help but smile, and then cackle. "Are you talking about the cat or yourself?"

"Huh-"

He ran over and lifted up a bit of his shirt, showing a sensuous amount of dark red markings, curving around the arch of his back.

"Hyung, what the-!?"

Embarrassed, he forcefully tugged down his shirt, glaring at his attacker.

Jungkook caught himself staring, and quickly looked away - but the image of his lower back at already been burned into the back of his head, and his cheeks imbued the same shade of red.

"Hyung, why did you have to do that?!" Jimin cried. "That's... so..."

Yoongi sighed. "Not like it's the first time I've seen your soulbrand."

"I've seen it before too," said Taehyung, shrugging.

"Same," Seungwon added.

"It's hot, though," said Yoongi, smirking suggestively. "I would want to lick-"

Jimin let out an inhuman screech, while Jungkook's face soaked up an even deeper shade of red. Jimin, who quickly noticed, pointed both hands at him.

"See, Jungkook hasn't ever seen mine. He probably hasn't even seen any before! We’ve scarred him for life!"

"Jungkook-ah," said Taehyung in a low, sexy voice, "Do you want to show us your brand?"

"TAEHYUNG YOU ARE SEXUALLY HARASSING HIM-"

"Hey, it's only fair to do it now that your hyung exposed himself. Right?"

Jungkook really felt like he was being sandwiched into an option.

"Okay, I'll do it," he eventually relented.

Whoopings were heard from the group. Only Jimin silently bit down on his lower lip, as Taehyung pinched the bottom of his soft white shirt and inched it up.

The first thing Jimin noticed was bright, electric blue. A small tail, and then two petal-like -

"Nngh, stop it..."

Jungkook had never felt more exposed in his life, and quickly tugged down his shirt, wrestling Taehyung's hand off the bottom hem.

"It's very pretty," said the culprit, raising his eyebrows a bit. "Too bad it didn't react to my touch."

"Uh... yeah..." Jungkook compulsively folded his shirt back into his pants, fidgeting with it a little.

"What shape is it?" asked Yoongi.

"I..." Jungkook shook his head. "It's too personal."

Yoongi nodded. "I don't blame you."

"Jungkook-ah... you're... uh..." Seungwon spluttered, seeming a little at a loss for words. "Please never let noona see your back like that again..."

"I'm sorry..." was his reply, though he did feel a little indignant - this wasn’t even his idea in the first place!

She wheezed into a pillow. "This is super weird. Never have I ever imagined seeing my dance hoobae's soulbrand."

"You think you're unsettled?" said Taehyung, sounding like he was about to laugh. "Look at Jimin, he hasn't even said a word. I think his soul has left his body."

Jimin sat up, his gaze previously fixated on a random squiggly spot on the floor, only awoken from his daze when Taehyung mentioned him.

"Oh, I'm still alive, I'm just... thinking."

That was the bottom of a butterfly, wasn't it? Wasn't it just like his own? That meant that Jungkook's soulmate was also someone of incredible ability or character. Jimin didn’t quite know how to process that information. Somehow, it made him feel happy, yet a little disappointed at the same time.

Not at Jungkook, but at himself.

"Thinking about what...?" asked Taehyung suspiciously.

Jimin quickly created a diversion. "Like, what's the big deal about soulbrands? Yeah, maybe they're a big deal to their soulmates, but to everyone else they're just markings. It's so... stupid, how it’s this sacred thing."

Taehyung smiled, seeing right through his plan but relenting anyway.

Yoongi just shrugged. "People are weird."

"I think it's because it's so private," Seungwon replied. "This is a matter of soulmates, possible romances, you know. Anyone could be a potential mate."

"Not for me," said Yoongi, yawning. "It's a good thing."

"Huh? Hyung, you don't have one?" asked Jungkook, his wide eyes widening even more.

"Yeah, it burned its own ass off when I was eight. SDT and all."

"Oh, I'm sorry..."

"Hah, no need to be sorry for me.” Yoongi rubbed his shoulder. “It already happened, anyway."

“Doesn’t it leave a wound?” asked Taehyung.

“It’s a weird wound. You can’t see it, but you can feel it inside…”

“I hear people saying that there’s always a little piece of your soulmate inside of you,” said Jungkook. “That’s why it feels empty there when they’re gone.”

“Yeah,” said Jimin, “and once you lose your soulmate it’s really hard to find a partner. There’s a dating website for SDT victims but… that’s it.”

Yoongi shrugged.

“That’s reality. If you don’t have a soulbrand, your choices are suddenly limited. Less people want to date you, because they know you aren’t their future. Not that I’ve cared about dating that much ever, but…”

“Wow… Do people talk about these things often?” asked Jungkook, seeming impressed. “I thought sleepovers were for gossip or something.”

Seungwon held her arms out in welcome. “Welcome to the gang.”

Jimin lit up. “Wait, yeah, this is basically our entire friend gang, except-”

"Hobi!" Taehyung pressed two palms to his cheeks in mild horror. "I didn't mean to leave him out! Oh no, I'm so sorry, Hobi... "

"Who's Hobi...?" asked Jungkook, apprehensively.

"Oh, he's a classmate," Taehyung explained for his sake.

“Yoongi-hyung,” said Jimin, smirking suspiciously. “Didn’t you use to like him?”

“STOP!” yelled Yoongi, ”I never liked him! Not that way!”

“You seem very defensive…” Seungwon remarked.

“If anything it was him who liked me! He always looked at me funny. And when he talks he’s always trying to cheer me up or something.”

“He’s just like that!” Taehyung exclaimed. “He must like you a lot to do that.”

“See, Seungwonnie?” said Jimin, turning towards her suddenly, looking dead serious. “If Hobi’s type is clearly someone like Yoongi, then with me being the like, opposite of him, then why would he like me?”

She nearly choked. “Clearly can’t argue with that logic…”

Jimin cleared his throat. “You know… can I confess something?”

“Oh hell yes,” she replied. “I like where this is going.”

“Hobi is underrated. He’s such a nice, talented, funny, supportive, cheerful guy. And yeah, he does have admirers, but I know people who don’t think much of him because he doesn’t have, like, Seokjin-seom’s face. It’s just not fair.”

Yoongi shrugged. “I agree.”

Taehyung nodded furiously in agreement. “Like, come on, you’d date someone for how great they make you feel, right? Looks aren’t the only way, let’s be real. And the fact that he can like someone like Yoongi! That takes a very kind heart.”

Yoongi nearly spat out his saliva. “Are you complimenting Hobi or insulting me?!”

“He seems like a nice guy,” said Jungkook, finally cutting into the conversation. “I’d date someone like that. I wouldn’t care if they’re ugly.”

After all, he knew how it was like to be liked only for his looks.

“Wow, Jungkookie!” yelled Jimin, “What a man!”

It wasn’t like none of them cared about appearances at all - looks were looks, and hormonal teenagers went crazy over them. The gang was no exception. But right then, they felt some sort of purity from some flawed perspective. And at that moment, they could glean a sense of what really mattered to them. Robots could achieve the pinnacle of physical beauty, but what they really enjoyed about the people they hung out with was that they were together.

Jungkook finally experienced that for the first time that night.


~~~~

 

“Can I confess something too?”

Seungwon drew circles on the floor.

"You know, I’ve noticed that people... think I'm nosy. I mean, I am, I guess. My class thinks I'm some sort of... gossip queen... but I don't use my powers for that kind of evil." She sighed. "I guess I do need to mind my own business more."

Jimin was the first to protest. "Seungwonnie, I don't think you're like that!"

"Yeah, it's just your personality," Taehyung added.

"Didn't you solve the two guys' conflict because of your 'nosy' behaviour?" Yoongi pointed out. "Fuck them. You're doing good here."

Jungkook simply nodded. "Noona is a good person."

Seungwon smiled, showing her teeth. "Thanks guys."

"Eh, Jungkookie," said Yoongi, "have anything to share?"

"Eh? Me?”

“Yeah, of course," replied Jimin. "We’ll listen to what you have to say. Maybe about your schoolmates?"

"Okay, I, uh..."

A pause.

"Hm?" asked Jimin attentively. The others waited as Jungkook gulped.

"...find people irritating sometimes."

"That's me," said Yoongi immediately, raising a hand for a high five. "People are shit."

Jungkook returned the high five.

"How so?" asked Seungwon. “I mean, trust me, I would know.”

"Because people become dumb when they see someone even moderately good-looking," he explained in distaste. "It's hard to believe that people at this age act like fucking babies."

“You know, being teenagers and all, people are just like that,” said Yoongi wisely. “Sometimes superficial, unaware… some don’t even know what friendship is supposed to be like.”

Jungkook nodded. "That's why I... I'm always scared to make friends. Most times you just realise that they’re not really your friend after all."

"That's the problem with getting too close to people. Eventually, you'll discover that they aren't the flawless person they appear to be."

“But you’ll still love them!” Jimin added. “That’s how all friends are. Some are just worse than others.”

Jungkook nodded. "I... think you guys are cool, though.”

The gang took to this compliment warmly, making him smile.

 

~~~~

 

It was past one in the morning, when everyone decided to go to sleep. Jimin brought an extra duvet for Jungkook, who then settled himself in the warm covers next to him.

It took a while for Jimin to suddenly turn towards him. Then, he spoke.

"Jungkook-ah..."

In the dark, the small lamp's light reflected off Jimin's eyes, rendering them with a feline shine.

Jungkook unwittingly stared into those eyes, unable to break his gaze. "Yeah?"

"You're really cool," said Jimin, before suddenly sighing. "Sorry, it's really random. Just seems like the time to say it."

"...um..." Jungkook didn't know whether to be flattered or confused.

"Don't need to reply. I just want you to know that you don't have to be scared with us. They're chill people, and I'm glad you're becoming part of us so quickly. You seem to fit in."

"I do?"

"Yep," said Jimin while laughing, cutely. "Okay, go to sleep now."

He buried himself in his duvet, turning away from Jungkook and settling to sleep. The younger guy kept his eyes wide open, and simply stared out a small gap in the curtains. The storm wasn't ceasing, and rain continued pelting down.

He had slept in the same bed as other guys before, and they were always somewhat nerve-wrecking either way. And for whatever reason, sleeping next to this hyung made him extra cautious.

Yet, there was something comforting in watching Jimin's sleeping figure. The bed also carried a faint hint of Jimin's scent. It might have been cologne, but it was also very reminiscent of body odour. Perhaps it was a mix of both, and maybe on some other day he'd feel a little unsettled by it, but today, the nearby warmth of the older guy, and the familiar scent of the sheets lulled him to a peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

Jungkook blinked himself awake from a dream he didn't know what to feel about.

He was getting on a plane with six other guys. Three of them were Jimin, Taehyung and Yoongi, all three he stuck closely to. One of them was Namjoon-seom, who guided him throughout the process. The other two were faces he couldn't recognise, but he swore he had seen them somewhere before. All he could remember was that the seven of them had some sort of special relationship, closer than close.

Halfway through the flight, they leaped out of the plane, plunging Jungkook in momentary fear before he realised that he could control his falling, which eventually morphed into an ability to fly. The other six could do the same, and together they flew in a heptagonal arrangement that gradually shrunk, until eventually they got close enough to link fingers. Then, they shot forward, together - and then he woke.

It was a dream that filled him with an incredible sense of energy, and... empowerment . So much that he didn't want to wake up when he did, and closed his eyes to try to go back to sleep.

He heard something ruffle beside him, but was too tired to take much note of it. Then, he could sense a presence leaning over him, causing more quiet, ruffling sounds that only ceased when he felt the soft duvet drape over his body.

Jungkook didn't realise his duvet wasn't even on him until he felt the cool fabric. He quickly realised that there was only one other person in the room with him.

Jimin’s first instinct upon waking up had been to check on his dongsaeng and cover him up.

It felt good to know that he was in good company. He snuggled up in the warm duvet, smiling as he fell asleep again.

 

~~~~

 

When he finally woke up for real, it was only nine in the morning, but the ruckus in the house made it impossible to go back to sleep.

Jimin's parents were already up and about, watching the news on TV. His brother was still out cold in his room. Meanwhile, the others had only woken up a while before Jungkook did, and were clearly still groggy from sleep.

Yoongi carried a mug of coffee around, still caught in a sleepy daze. He nearly tripped over Seungwon's foot, who was in an even worse condition, sprawled across the sofa.

After witnessing Yoongi pulling away from a half-asleep Taehyung hug, Jungkook quietly headed for the guest bathroom.

When he peered at the sink to wash his face, he nearly stumbled over his own feet when he saw two whole cups of toothbrushes, most which were recently used.

'There can't be that many people in Jimin-hyung's house!'

The door abruptly opened, which made the poor boy jump.

"Ah, Jungkook-sshi!"

It was Jimin, who hadn't expected anyone inside the toilet, who involuntarily shut the door in his face.

"Hyung, uh, can I ask you something?" he called out loudly, hoping Jimin hadn't ran away yet.

"Do you need me to stand outside?" was the reply. "Are you dressed?"

"Yeah, it's okay, you can come in."

"Next time, lock the door," he said as the door opened, revealing an embarrassed, red face. "I hope I didn't startle you..."

The younger boy waved it away. "It's okay, I was dressed anyway."

Jungkook briefly contemplated the worse outcomes of him opening the door. The fact that he didn't see him with no clothing brought him some relief, but the thought of having nearly exposed himself to someone he just met… It freaked him out.

"Anyway, what did you need?"

"Oh. I wanted to ask, uh, if it isn't inconvenient... if you have a spare toothbrush I could use?"

Without blinking, Jimin opened the overhead cabinet and pulled out a white, clean toothbrush. And a permanent marker, which he uncapped with a thumb.

"Jung... kook..." he muttered, as he wrote the words on the toothbrush handle. "Here."

With a bright smile, he handed it to Jungkook, who was still processing whatever that just happened.

"Do- do you just keep spares at home all the time?" he asked, a little shocked.

"Yep, in case any friends stay over. And I label them so people don't get them mixed up. That would be disgusting."

He picked up a random toothbrush from a cup.

"This is... oh, this is Taehyungie's! See," he said as he showed him the handle.

Jungkook stared at it. "Oh. Okay."

'What the hell, he's invited so many people for a sleepover,' he thought, suddenly feeling very unnerved. 'Is he... actually still a virgin?'

As a hormonal teen, of course the dirty thoughts came first, right? And what his little brother had said yesterday about him only ever bringing gay friends home... only served to increase his suspicion.

 

~~~~

 

"Let's have a western breakfast today," Taehyung suggested, after a brief moment in thought.

"Sounds nice," Seungwon replied, reflecting the general sentiment of the group.

Jimin, who was tapping his thumbs on his phone screen, looked up at the others.

"Ah, Hobi's texting me right now. He says he's incredibly jealous and kind of upset that he wasn't invited."

"I still feel so bad..." Taehyung seemed genuinely sad.

"Well, he says he's coming right now and promises to kill us all when he reaches. Hm... should we let him get to us?"

"Sure," said Yoongi, shrugging. "Let's see him try to kill me. I dare him."

“Hey,” said Jungkook, seeming nervous. “It’s nothing big, right?”

Taehyung him several reassuring pats on the pack. "Don't worry, he's really nice. He’ll get a little angry but he’ll forgive us. I think."

"Okay." Jungkook smiled a little, trusting him.

"Just tell him to meet us at the road junction," said Yoongi, "it's faster that way."

"Okay..." Jimin muttered, as he continued typing.

 

~~~~

 

"I'LL KILL YOU ALL!"

All except for Jungkook seemed rather unfazed as the guy hurled himself forward at them. Taehyung was the one who caught him.

"Hobi, I'm so sorry..." Taehyung pouted, hugging him tightly. It made Hoseok brighten up in an instant.

"It's okay, Tae-Tae... but seriously, you guys... why didn't you invite me to something so important? I really feel betrayed, you know. I bet you had a lot of fun sleepover games."

"Eh, it was... alright," said Seungwon, shrugging.

"Anyway, the storm didn’t wreck you all last night, right?"

"I managed to sleep well, so not so bad."

"That’s good. Hello Mr. Grumpy," said Hoseok, grinning as he wrapped his arms around Yoongi. "Don't look so blank-faced."

Yoongi just sighed. "Seriously, how old are you..."

"Oh, who's the new kid?"

"That's Jungkook," Jimin introduced him on his behalf, "he's cool. And he's a second-year, by the way."

"Ooh. Hello! What clubs are you in?"

"Uh... Dance and Football," was the nervous reply.

"Oh, hell yeah! I like to dance too." He began to do a small demonstration, which made everyone laugh. "Nice to meet you, Jungkook-sshi. I'm Jung Hoseok."

Jungkook immediately felt his bright cheery demeanour lighten him up. He found that he liked this sunbae very much.

 

~~~~

 

"So, Jungkook-sshi, how was Jimin last night?" asked Seungwon, a cheeky smile on her face. "I heard he kicks people in his sleep."

"Seungwonnie, why are you talking about me-"

"He does," Taehyung confirmed.

The boy simply shrugged. "He didn't move around that much, actually. Occasionally he'll shift his body a bit."

"A bit?" Taehyung was sceptical. "Not once has he woken you up with his powerful legs?"

"See? I don't move around that much!" Jimin protested.

"Um, I think he woke me up once when he... slapped me in the face."

The gang went into a frenzy of (barely) restrained laughter.

"He straight up slapped you?" Hoseok tried to hold his giggling in, failing miserably.

"Seriously, this boy…" Seungwon tsked.

"What?! Since when did I do that?" Only Jimin felt a little helpless.

Taehyung just erupted with laughter, completely disregarding him. "Okay, that's a first!"

 

~~~~

 

They were already approaching the café, when Jimin suddenly spoke.

"Jungkook-ah, I hope I didn’t scare you or anything…" he said, sounding guilty.

"Eh? No, it’s alright."

"I swear. I’ve never slapped someone in my sleep before! It’s not because I hate you, okay, I actually think you’re super, super cool-"

Jungkook's gaze darted around, avoiding his hyung - and fixated on something else.

"Jungkookie, are you okay...?"

The boy turned back to his hyung, his eyes shining, and his brows creased a little.

"That's- do you guys know Namjoon-seom?"

"Uh, of course?" said Hoseok proudly. "He's like, the best English teacher. Why?"

"Because he's right over there..."

Jungkook could recognise his English teacher's face anywhere - that was him. But facing away from him was someone with a boyish-cut head of hair dyed with mix of blonde and pastel pink, which Jungkook couldn't recognise. Only the Third Years could, and they did very well.

"N-Namjoon- and... Seokjin-seom?!"

"Are you sure that's him?" They were a little bit sceptical.

Then they heard Seokjin's signature laugh, and were immediately convinced.

"Oh my god," breathed Hoseok, looking like he was about to have a heart attack. "There's no way."

"Yes way, and it's happening," said Seungwon excitedly. "Let's interrogate them!"

"No, you have to wait for them to finish," said Hoseok, stopping her. "We have to watch their... actions, first."

Seungwon stared at him for a short moment before speaking. "Right, that sounds more reasonable. Okay, everyone act normal now."

As they slowly walked closer, they could gradually hear their teachers' conversation more clearly.

"Wow, English poetry? Hey, I made an acronym poem in English once. Want to hear it?"

A laugh. "Sure."

His students braced for impact - they were quite sure that they had heard it before.

"R. E. D."

Yep, that's the one.

"R - Revolution. E - Evolution. D - Drop in the-"

Before the poem could even end, Namjoon was already laughing. He had to bury his head into the table to preserve some of his dignity, while Seokjin patted and grabbed Namjoon's outstretched arms, collapsing onto the table himself.

Most of the gang had to stop themselves from laughing out loud, while Yoongi suffered in silence from second-hand embarrassment. Jungkook thought it was funny in a weird way, but he didn't know how to react, so he simply smiled.

They still hadn't noticed their students' presence, until Seungwon alerted them with an audible gasp.

"Seokjin-seom!"

Said teacher nearly jumped in his seat before turning around, clutching his chest in shock.

"Ah, Seungwo- eh?!"

"Hello, Namjoon-seom," Jungkook also greeted, adding to the realness of the surprise.

The teachers looked at each other, attempting to put themselves together. They seemed rather at a loss.

"What are you two doing here?" asked Jimin, genuinely curious. "I've never seen you eat here before, and I live here!"

"Seokjin and I..." He gave his fellow colleague a cursory glance. "...were waiting for Yoona-sunbae to join us, but she had last minute plans, so now we're just eating together."

Hoseok glanced suspiciously at Seungwon. Judging by her grin, this was probably the fruit of her efforts in planting that idea into Yoona-seom's head.

"You look like you're on a date!" Seungwon pointed out with a laugh, seemingly innocuous.

"Hey, that's slander!" Seokjin yelled, jokingly. "Me and Namjoon-sshi are nothing like that. Don't be mistaken."

Namjoon nodded affirmatively. "Why, does it look strange?"

"You look like you're courting a student," Hoseok bluntly pointed out, causing everyone to cough out their laughter.

"You know, you do look a little bit like a student!" said Namjoon, seeming a little embarrassed.

Seokjin had none of that shame. "So you're saying that I look young? It's because my face is too handsome, right?"

As smart as Namjoon was, even he couldn't figure out an answer to that.

 

~~~~

 

The newcomers sat down at a table next to their teachers, and were now looking at the menus.

"Hey, Yoongi-hyung," said Taehyung, "What are you getting?"

"Wanted to get an egg mayo sandwich," was the reply.

"What? Seriously? Why egg mayo... it's not even a very good option."

"Say what ?"

"Egg mayo is clearly worse than the club sandwich."

Yoongi gasped. "How could you!"

"They do this all the time," Jimin explained to a slightly astounded pair of teachers.

"Now that we're here anyway, don't get something so low class. Get something else."

"Hm..." Yoongi did a fake pondering pose. "How about one of the deluxe sets... chicken looks really good right now..."

"No no no, please don't kill my wallet..." Taehyung looked like tears were about to stream down his face.

"What do you want now?!" Yoongi complained. "First you say an egg mayo sandwich is too cheap, and then you say a deluxe set is too expensive. Isn't it your treat? Why are my choices so restricted?"

"Wait, hold up, what's going on?" asked Seungwon, trying to get grips on their situation. "Taehyung, are you treating him to breakfast? Since when was this a thing?"

"Since last night," said Yoongi carelessly, before realising the possible insinuations. He nearly coughed up blood once he did.

"What kind of favour warranted a broke ass like Taehyung to treat you to a meal?" asked Hoseok suspiciously.

Taehyung nearly choked, and then immediately waved his hands in denial. "No no, nothing weird happened. I swear it wasn't weird."

Okay, Taehyung admitted to himself that it was pretty weird how close Yoongi's face had been to his own yesterday, and how close they were to... kissing... But nothing weird weird had happened, objectively speaking.

The awkwardness in his smile just made Hoseok even more sceptical.

Meanwhile, at the other side of the table, Jungkook flipped the menu over and over again. Jimin eventually noticed, and looked over at him.

"Jungkook-ah, are you still deciding?"

The boy nodded.

"Hm, let's see. I come here a lot, so I know what's good."

He peered closer at what Jungkook was seeing, and ended up leaning against his shoulder.

"Oh oh," he said, pointing at a part of the menu, "The sausage is awesome. The pancakes are really good, too."

"Really?" Jungkook excitedly looked at the two option. "Which one should I get though?"

"Hm, that's really up to you. Sweet or savoury?"

"I... can't choose..." He frowned, finding himself in more of a dilemma than ever.

"Hm... ah, how about you get the pancakes, and I get the sausages. Then we can share! Or if you're really hungry I can just give you a bit of my portion. Is that okay?"

Jungkook's eyes lit up, and he nodded at him with a smile. Their faces were already very close to each other, which made Jimin so embarrassed that he dropped his head on Jungkook's shoulder.

It seemed like the two pairs had gotten rather intimate with each other - they seemed to glow with happiness. Meanwhile, Hoseok turned to Seungwon, with a completely astonished expression.

"What the fuck happened last night?" he mouthed semi-silently to her.

"I don't know," she whispered, sounding equally shaken. "There were only two beds, so those people just slept with each other."

"I... don't even want to know."

Namjoon and Seokjin looked at each other and laughed. 'Kids these days...'

Chapter Text

It was a hot, uncomfortable day.

Jungkook, having just had his lunch, was now sat at his seat in class, scrolling through his phone for a while before setting it down, and then rested his head on his desk.

He looked around class. A clique of girls were gathered around a table, talking about things he didn't really care about. Until...

"Oh, have you guys heard of that whole thing between the basketball and football teams? Apparently two sunbae got into a fight, and they're actually like, homo? So they're together now."

Jungkook stiffened in his seat. He vaguely remembered the 5,000 won he won from the bet, now stashed in his wallet, but that wasn't the cause of his reaction. It was the way they said the word 'homo' that made him want to claw their eyeballs out.

"Kinda annoying how there's suddenly so many of them around... especially in Third Year? Did someone curse them or something?"

Jungkook smiled, but his eyes told a different story. His lips were tightened, as if it was zipping his mouth from unleashing a terrible curse back at them.

"I heard that there’s this one popular sunbae, apparently he’s quite homo too. You know Park Jimin? That dance guy."

‘Oh my fucking god.’ Jungkook's fingernails dug into his own palms as he clenched his fists.

"I don't get why people like him that much. He's not even that handsome, and he seems annoying."

"People just like to follow the norm. I mean, yeah he's talented or whatever it doesn't say anything about him. Just because you're popular doesn't mean you're a good person."

'You fuckfaces, am I not popular either?!' Jungkook yelled at them in his head. 'Are you trying to say something about me? Or something about yourselves? You only like me for my looks. Fucking hypocrites...'

He gritted his teeth. He couldn't believe that he once feared going near other girls, as if they were some sort of pure, untouchable beings.

After being in SOTA for so long, he realised just how vile some people could become. And for whatever reason, that made him far less afraid of these creatures. If they acted like they were meant to be squashed like pulps, then Jungkook would barely hesitate to treat them that way.

Now, he felt that these girls weren't even worth stepping on. He quietly left the classroom, making sure to slam the door behind him till it was about to snap in half. The screeching that followed threatened to curdle every drop of blood in his body, making him want to cough out the sound like spit.

 

~~~~

 

The earlier events of today clearly had an impact on Jungkook's mood. It didn't take a genius to realise that he was particularly listless that evening, while he did his homework in school, and with Jimin, no less.

It had been a while since Jungkook first asked for homework help, as Jimin had so kindly offered on the first day, but now it started to become a regular affair. Sometimes his other friends, especially Seungwon, would join them, but soon it became established that this was mainly time for the two of them to hang out.

Usually, Jungkook was much happier around the hyung, which was why his strange behaviour today was even more apparent.

Jimin gently poked the boy in the arm, causing him to look up, his face a deadpan reaction. “Yeah?” he asked in monotone.

"Kookie, why so sad?" Jimin pouted on his behalf.

"Uh…" He was very clearly unwilling to answer, but also very obviously troubled by something.

"You can tell me anything, I'll listen," was the kind reply.

"But..." Jungkook scratched his head. "What if it's something about you?"

"Eh? Tell me then!"

"Okay, I... heard my classmates talk about you. They were saying how you were ‘annoying’. That you weren't a good person." Jungkook censored the part about being a 'homo' - it hurt himself too much to say it out.

Jimin's shoulders noticeably tensed up. Then he sighed. "I guess, if that's the impression they have of me... well then."

"I don't think they have the right to say that!" Jungkook insisted. "You’re not annoying. And I think you're really great."

"Hey, as long as you think that, Jungkookie, then I'm happy." His posture noticeably relaxed, which confused Jungkook.

"But don't you find it irritating that those people dirtied your name like it was their fucking panties?"

Jungkook almost wanted to apologise, but Jimin simply broke out in laughter.

"P-panties... seriously, Kookie, I love you... anyway, I guess it's quite hurtful? But I don't even know them. I mean, if I'm that famous in school, people are bound to say things. But as long as the people I love like me for me, then I'm happy."

"Oh... okay..."

Jimin grinned at Jungkook, ruffling the back of his hair and laughing when he squirmed. "Aish, I like you, so your opinion matters so much more than theirs. Why is it that I like you so much, Kookie?"

"I... I don't know?" Jungkook was beginning to understand why people saw him for homosexual tendencies. "Y-you can ask those stupid girls, they like me for some reason."

"Maybe because you're so handsome and tall, and actually good at sports..." Jimin sighed. "Not to say I'm bad, but I'm not the kind who can play in a real school team... I seriously envy you sometimes."

"Eh? But you don't need to! I, uh... I think you're handsome too."

"Really?! Gahh, coming from you, that makes me feel really good," Jimin giggled. "Go on, give me more compliments."

"Well…" Jungkook let a small, sneaky smile slip. "You're amazing at dance, and I actually understand you when you try to teach me, and you're really cheerful and adorable."

Jungkook hadn't even realise he thought of him so highly until he actually said it out - only then did he start to feel a little embarrassed.

"Okay okay, stop, you really don’t need to flatter me like that..." Jimin seemed bashful, yet obviously very pleased. It reminded Jungkook strongly of the first day they met.

A strange smile on his face appeared as he reached out a hand to ruffle Jimin's hair. His senior looked at him in genuine shock, before giving him a disapproving side-eye.

Jungkook just kept grinning.

 

~~~~

 

“It’s getting late. Are you going?”

Jungkook nodded, looking up to see that his hyung had already packed up.

Was he that eager to leave?

Frowning a little, he quickly gathered his things as well. Without a word, Jimin was helping him sort his stationery into his pencil box, somehow knowing where everything was supposed to be, the way Jungkook obsessively organised them. Realising this, Jungkook couldn’t help but marvel in astonishment.

They walked out of the school together, gaining some attention from a few passing schoolmates.

After all, two high-profile figures frequently seen together would turn a few heads.

Who wouldn’t have already noticed their sudden, yet not-so-strange friendship? Not that it was particularly scandalous - they were practically in the same league. And, with hearsay making sure everyone was familiar with Jungkook’s behaviour, it was clear that Jimin was perhaps the only one in his league.

Jungkook returned the gazes, lacking any true intention, other than seeming a little bit hostile.

He was painfully aware of what people thought, unfortunately. He owed it to himself knowing how to be quiet, and others not knowing how to shut up. Though, looking at how Jimin carried himself forward with a carefree smile, he felt a little less inclined to care.

 

~~~~

 

It was dark outside, while they walked towards the subway.

It was always the two of them, walking to the station alone. The others lived near enough to take a bus.

Today, Jimin suddenly led him to a quiet stretch of road, a slight detour from their usual path.

"Let's sit down here and talk a little."

Jungkook was puzzled, but didn't object. "Okay."

Their shoulders were close. Plus being alone while the sun was setting, sitting under a streetlight... it was almost unbearably intimate.

"Jungkookie, can I ask, how do you feel about us?"

"Us?"

Which one was he referring to? 'Us' as in the Third Years as a whole? 'Us' as in the friend group? Or... 'Us' , as in Jimin and Jungkook?

If it were the last one, well... Jungkook felt embarrassed just thinking about it.

"Me and my friends," Jimin clarified, and Jungkook breathed out. "You hang out with us a lot recently. Didn't you have people to hang out with before?"

Jungkook froze, before slowly shaking his head.

"If I had friends, I wasn't close enough to then to do things with them."

"None at all?"

"None."

Jimin sighed. "You should make closer friends with people in your year, though. What will happen once we graduate?"

"Then..." Jungkook thought carefully. "Then maybe I can spend another year by myself."

Jimin clicked his tongue at him. "Tsk, this kind of thinking..."

"Or maybe I can come visit you often."

"You’ll be busy with your assignments! It gets heavy in Third Year."

"Then… maybe, you could visit me?"

Jimin let out a laugh, a ‘haha’ laugh that only had two syllables. He came to recognise this laugh as one of genuine amusement, but with a little bit of exasperation directed at the irony of whatever he was laughing at.

Jungkook didn’t care that he was over-analysing his hyung’s laugh.

"I could, actually. I could drop by from time to time, buy you some food, anything." He sighed, looking into Jungkook’s eyes with sincere intent. "Let’s not talk about that now. You know what would be perfect for this occasion?"

'Huh?' Jungkook was too distracted by his eyes, by the way his voice let out words, too tired to focus on what they actually meant.

‘Fuck, did he say, perfect for this occasion? THERE WAS AN OCCASION?’

"Um... some... s-some nice music?" he stuttered.

"Woah, that's what I was thinking too! Are you a mind reader? Or is this fated to be…?"

Jungkook didn't know how to reply, but at least felt relieved.

"I got a few songs I like to dance to," Jimin continued. "Wanna hear them?"

Jungkook nodded affirmatively.

"Hell yeah." Jimin grinned as he scrolled through his phone for a playlist, where he hit play.

The first song that played had a nice beat. But how come he chose a song with such… suggestive lyrics?

"Don’t judge me, it's a good song to dance to!" Jimin protested. But then he giggled, ruining the angry-hyung effect. He jumped out onto the pavement and did a sudden dance, that was equal parts impressive and sexy.

Needless to say, the boy had assets, and he knew how to flaunt them.

Jungkook cringed a little, biting his lip. The eye service was completely unwarranted, but he couldn’t help but stare. The entire routine lasted for barely half a minute, which wasn’t nearly enough.

"How was it?" he asked, turning only his head back at him.

Jungkook thought for a while, before finally giving a one-word reply.

"Cute."

Jimin seemed slightly hurt. "Cute? Is that all you feel?!"

The boy laughed. "Sexy, hyung. You look sexy."

Somehow, it still sounded like he was calling Jimin an adorable little puppy.

The dance god, defeated, let out a sigh as the song closed to an end. The next song started playing - a heavy beat came on, which invigorated Jungkook a little.

"Okay, your turn to dance! Let me see your best moves."

"Sure." With a chuckle, he stepped onto the pavement and went all out.

Jungkook might have admitted in hindsight that he was showing off his masculinity a little. After all, he was muscular, attractive in general, and extremely charming when he danced. He ad-libbed a lot, and the suggestive motions in there was enough to make most people blush and turn away. Only Jimin could toss aside the ability to feel shame, once Jungkook started dancing.

Once he stopped and turned around, he could swear he saw Jimin drool a little.

"Woo!" he cheered, clapping. "All the girls would fall to your feet, Kookie! And guys. Yes, even if they're straight. Don’t look at me like that, I mean it! You’re too hot!"

Jungkook couldn't help but flush from his neck to his forehead. Seeing such a bright smile on such a supportive hyung… it made his heart ache, just by looking at him.

 

~~~~

 

The days passed by without much event.

Jungkook would randomly receive texts from Jimin about stuff that was going on in his level - they always started out normal, with Jungkook taking an hour or so to reply, but then they would gradually escalate into one out of two extremes - meme spamming, or some sort of deep, heartfelt conversation. There were times where he had to mute their chats just so that he could have a momentary peace of mind. It wasn't that he didn't like texting Jimin, but that he found that his own eagerness to reply scared himself.

His ability to do homework at home suddenly felt sluggish in comparison to studying with Jimin. It was like the pressure to impress his sunbae constantly pushed him to work harder, but now he laid in bed, contemplating the matter.

Did Jimin really mean so much to him?

His mind raced with a blur of images. He saw his face, his laughter, imagined the look on his face as he danced sexily to that song, imagined how he'd look pinned against his-

‘Shit, fuck, I’m-’

He told himself he shouldn't think these thoughts, but he couldn't help it.

He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth, his thoughts inevitably reminding him of the markings on Jimin's back. Perhaps it was in his fervour of crazed imagination, but he kept seeing the bottom section of those markings and projecting them into a large, glittering butterfly - almost like his own - and perhaps he really wished deep down that it was truly a butterfly, that maybe...

He hated to admit it. The last time this happened was in middle school. There were countless numbers of hot people he subjected to his fantasies before, but this actually felt like a- like a-

That's the problem with getting too close to people. Eventually, you'll discover that they aren't the flawless person they appear to be. Yoongi's words echoed in his mind, refusing to relent, and despite that Jimin still shone like an angel. Jungkook focused all his mental power into nitpicking every single undesirable thing about him, but...

But you'll still love them! Jimin had also said. And Jungkook had to admit, he still... he did...

He laid in bed, pouring stray emotions into his pillow.

 

~~~~

 

"You little fucking shits! You didn't even wait to change with me?!"

Walking along the corridor he was supposed to meet at, Jungkook's ears perked up at the familiar voice, with a very unfamiliar tone. Quickening his pace, he peeked over a corner curiously to see his hyung, Jimin, on the verge of strangling a couple of guys.

One of them saw Jungkook, and immediately smirked at his attacker.

"Aha! You can’t do anything to me, I have a witness!"

"A what- oh." Jimin stopped attempting murder, once he saw his dongsaeng looking shyly over to him.

"Jimin-hyung, are we studying later on?" he asked, his tone hopeful.

"Eh..." He glanced at the clothes in his arms. "Wait for me to change, okay? I'll meet you in a bit!"

Without another word, he rushed off to the changing room.

The three guys originally with Jimin now eyed Jungkook simultaneously with a predatory gaze, causing him to instinctively flinch.

"You're Jungkook, right?" asked the most mature-looking out of the three.

He nodded.

"So you're the little snake that's been stealing Jimin from us!" cackled another one.

"Oh, uh... I'm... sorry..."

"Hey, don't mind that guy, he spouts too much bullshit sometimes," said the third guy. "Anyway, I'll introduce myself. I'm Yugyeom."

The guy closest to him smiled mildly. "I'm Jaebum."

"Call me Bambam," said the last one. "My real name is too long."

"Okay. So, you're Jimin-hyung's dance classmates?"

"Yep. You know... Jimin's kept surprisingly quiet about you. At first he was all like, yes! I have a junior who looks up to me! "

Bambam changed his voice into an unnaturally high and excitable voice, which caused the others, including Jungkook, to crack up.

"Yeah, but recently he's not said anything about you at all," he continued. "It always felt like he was hiding his excitement. Like we'd judge him or something."

"You do," Jaebum remarked, to which Yugyeom nodded at.

"True," Bambam added cheekily, "but basically we get the feel that he's hiding some sort of treasure."

"He gets surprisingly defensive when we try to make him talk about you," Yugyeom added. "Seriously, what did you do to him?!"

Jungkook shrugged, seeming carefree about it when he was actually having an internal emotional crisis.

Jaebum could sense the anxiety inside him, and decided to speak up. "Sorry if we're scaring you, it's just that we care a lot about him."

"I do," Yugyeom added, and Bambam gave a tacit agreement.

"You know, Jimin acts a certain way towards people he likes," Yugyeom pointed out. "He doesn't talk about them that much, but he gets all happy when they do. It sounds like it’s happening again. Oh, and especially when he's talking to them, his voice will sound higher or lower than it usually is."

"Huh, how would you know?" asked Bambam.

"I know he had a crush on me once, you know... it wasn't exactly hidden."

Bambam seemed shook.

"He what?" Jungkook chuckled to himself. "He's not going to live it down ever, is he?"

Bambam grinned, slinging an arm around Jungkook's shoulders. "I like this guy. You and I, we're gonna be good friends."

"I think Jimin really values you as a friend," Jaebum added, "and Jimin is a very good friend to have. Consider yourself really lucky."

They all nodded in agreement, and Jungkook couldn't help but smile.

These sunbaes were right. Jimin was someone one-in-a-million, someone he could actually get close to. Jungkook had an urge to hold him closer, an urge that was impossible to contain. And as much of a free spirit Jimin seemed to embody, now that he had finally met someone like him, Jungkook wanted to never, ever let go.

A reality where Jimin never existed to brighten up his life, and shower him with the affection he never had before... Jungkook was scared of that.

 

~~~~

 

When Jimin got out of the changing room and towards where he left Jungkook to his dance mates, he was prepared to save him from their wrath. Who knew that he would see them sitting at a corner, chatting easily like old friends?

"Jungkook-ah, let's go!"

"Okay," he said, nodding, heading over to him.

The others waved goodbye, and while Jimin was about to walk away, Bambam stuck out a foot, tripping him over, and he landed with his face flat onto Jungkook’s shoe.

While Jungkook stood there, speechless, the dance guys started to laugh.

Jimin sat up and glared at Bambam. "You-"

"What, are you going to bite my ear off this time?"

"Oh, did I say ear the other time? Sorry, I meant dick. I will bite your balls off, you asshole."

Bambam started laughing uncontrollably, causing Jimin to do the same.

Jungkook found himself completely stunned by this side of him. Jimin's laugh was like a drug, and even his uncensored swearing made his knees weak.

There was no way to deny it anymore. He was in love.

Chapter Text

It was a fine, surprisingly sunny morning, where Jimin was sprawled across the desks in his classroom while his other friends withered away in their morning lessons. This was one good thing about early free periods: more time to sleep.

His phone suddenly vibrated beside him, causing a rude awakening.

He groaned, cursing this annoying asshole who stole his precious minutes of sleep.

 

Jungkookie <3
Hyung, you're having your free periods now, right?
Do you want to study together now?

 

'Oh.' Jimin took back his curses - he couldn't bring himself to blame his junior too deeply. Immediately, he texted a reply:

 

You
you woke me up from my sleep you lil shit >:(((

Jungkookie <3
I'm sorry hyung :(

You
but yeah ofc!!
let's use the cafeteria there's usually like no one there rn
haha, it's alright!

 

Jimin began packing his things. He wasn't expecting him to respond - the boy never did so if it wasn't necessary - but an uncharacteristic buzz proved otherwise.

Jimin was already adjusting his bag, but then placed it back onto a nearby table. Thinking it might be someone else, he looked at his phone, only to realise that the sender was indeed Jungkook again.

 

Jungkookie <3
Wait, can we meet at the bench near your corridor today?
I want to show you something

 

Jimin paused for a bit, thinking, before he replied:

 

You
okkk but it better not be scary

 

This time, the reply really wasn't necessary anymore. Jimin picked up his bag, this time for real, but stayed in the classroom for a while, footsteps frozen.

That small bench Jungkook was talking about was a little out of the way, so it was especially quiet at this time - it usually was, anyway. Jimin was especially familiar with it, having been asked to meet here countless of times before by girls, and guys. It was a confession spot.

Was Jungkook... trying to do the same thing? Seriously, him ? 

Or, knowing the boy, he just desperately needed some private space to talk to his hyung?

He couldn’t tell. Going there was the only way to know his actual motive, so he walked out and left.

 

~~~~

 

By the time Jimin reached the place, he saw a familiar back already sat on the seat, typing on a laptop, tapping his feet while waiting for him. Without really thinking about it, he sneakily attacked him with a sudden back hug.

"Hyung! Oh my god…" Jungkook looked like he had nearly gone into cardiac arrest.

"Haha," Jimin childishly stuck out his tongue. "So, Jungkook-ah, what's the thing you're showing me?"

"Ah..." Jungkook momentarily looked away. "I’m sorry, I just needed a quiet place today. You okay with it?"

"Oh. It's fine." Jimin couldn’t help but laugh at himself. Was the answer that simple? "If there’s anything you need to, I don’t know, tell me about…" he asked just in case.

Jungkook nodded, looking back at his laptop screen. The furious tapping on his keyboard was immediately noticed by Jimin, though he wasn’t surprised - a gaming nerd like him would have a pretty good hand speed.

‘Don’t get distracted,’ he chastised himself, pulling out his worksheets to do.

They did their own things in silence, and Jimin couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed-

"Hyung." Jungkook shifted his hand closer to Jimin, who then jolted up in his seat, startled by the sudden action.

"Ah…" Jungkook seemed embarrassed. "Did I scare you? Sorry…"

"No, no…" Jimin hastily replied, slowly regaining his calm. "Sorry, what were you saying?"

‘Am I the one confessing here?’ he thought to himself, exasperated. ‘Why am I getting so worked up?’

Was there even a confession to begin with? The other boy’s uncanny lack of nerves led him to doubt his assumption.

"I wanted to say, um… Hyung, I like you."

Jimin blinked.

"Will you go out with me?"

After all the expository Jimin was used to getting before a confession, a straightforward question seemed wrong. He almost expected a 'haha, just kidding, I just needed you to help me with confessing to this girl I like.'

The silence proved otherwise, though.

'Shit, he's serious?'

Seeing his sunbae’s blank expression, Jungkook began to panic a little bit.

"Hyung," he started, boldly, though now he began to shake. "I don't really know how to put this in an elegant way, because I'm not incredible with that sort of stuff. So, um, I just needed to tell you that... if it wasn't already obvious enough... I really, really, really, really like you... I find myself thinking about you all the time, and I..."

Jimin hadn't noticed earlier, but Jungkook's entire face had gradually flushed a deeper and deeper red.

"Actually, it wasn't obvious at all," he quickly responded. "I'm. Um. Legitimately, uh. I didn't know you were into guys?"

"Yeah, I'm uh... bi. No one really knows, though."

"Oh, that's cool. I'm like, straight up gay, so..." Jimin cleared his throat. "Yeah."

"Wait, really?"

"...you didn't know when you decided to confess?"

"No…"

Jungkook sat up in realisation. His hyung never talked about his sexual orientation. It was something he had always been able to skillfully avoid, because he never brought it up.

"Ah, I'm not done with my confession yet!"

Jimin's eyes widened.

"I didn't want to come empty-handed, and I couldn't really think of anything original, so since I was already meeting you at this unoriginal place I’m gonna go all out cliché."

He unzipped his bag and pulled out a small bouquet of roses.

"I actually arranged this myself, I have a florist friend."

Jimin received it gingerly.

Then, Jungkook reached in again and pulled out a box of chocolates. Jimin immediately recognised them: they weren't particularly exquisite, but it was his favourite brand.

"I heard you like these."

"I do," said Jimin, a little dumbfounded.

Just when he thought it was over, the boy pulled out a lunchbox.

"It’s… I cooked this. It’s another set of my lunch."

"Oh, um, thanks so much-"

Jimin's side of the table was already chock full of goods, but Jungkook still reached his hands into his bag, pulling out an L file.

Out of the file he lifted a piece of paper, a beautiful, detailed illustration of a figure in a dance pose. Upon closer inspection, Jimin realised that the figure in the drawing was Jimin himself .

"When you were dancing that night I couldn't stop thinking about the way you danced... so I drew it."

He carefully balanced it on top of all the other things he had already given him. Jimin looked slightly pitiful, attempting to arrange the pile across the small benchtop space, hands fumbling about.

"Jungkook-ah..." said Jimin, seeming bashful, "You didn't need to do all this..."

Though secretly, the thought of being pampered by such a cute guy was making his heart turn in cartwheels.

"Um..." Jungkook shuffled his feet. "I know it's a bit much, but I just want to show you my sincerity. I really want to date you, Jimin-hyung."

"But... why?" asked Jimin, "Can I just ask why?"

"Because I like you? You're really nice and silly and funny, and I just um, felt you were seriously really attractive, and I don't really know what came over me. I didn't know what to do except... confess..."

His wide, earnest eyes seemed to shoot a golden bullet straight through his heart. It didn’t help that Jimin already thought he was incredibly handsome, and seeing how thoughtful and genuine he was...

He had planned to reject the younger guy’s advances, as per his default response. But for once, first instinct told him that he didn't want to.

Not a single cell in his body wanted him to say no.

"Jungkook-ah," he started, with a gulp. "You need to know something about me. I've never accepted a confession before. Not in this school."

"Ah..." If Jungkook had bunny ears they would have drooped down. "But why?"

"I think it's because I just didn't want to bother with relationships. Those things are really tricky, and... and I like our friendship, and I don't know what will happen if we..."

Jungkook bit his lip. "It's okay."

"No! I'm not saying-" Jimin gulped, "I- I think you're amazing, Jungkook, I just never would've expected you to like me. I... I accept!"

Jungkook's jaw dropped a little, and then completely.

"Really?"

"Yeah? I think you're cute! And really sweet, and… If there was anyone in this school I'd date it'll be you!"

Jimin had even shocked himself with how honest he was being.

"I... I... okay!" Jungkook affirmatively nodded, clenching his fists in excitement. "Thank you!"

Jimin smiled breezily. "I have to warn you though, I haven't dated since elementary school."

"I haven't dated since nursery ," the other boy countered, laughing. "I... I'm just so... I don't know what to feel..."

"Happy. I mean, it makes sense to be happy, right?"

Jimin chuckled, a little awkwardly. Then, he got up abruptly, zooming over to Jungkook’s side of the bench, leaned forward, and kissed him on the cheek.

He was met with a slight but noticeable flinch, which didn't make him pull away either way - his lips lingered for a good few seconds before he did.

Jungkook's entire expression seemed to have softened from the gesture, and in return, he reached up and planted a feathery, light kiss on his forehead. "I like you a lot," he whispered, his lukewarm breath tickling Jimin's hairline.

'Oh my god.' Jimin's heart started to pump insanely fast. His body reacted first, and then his mind: he nearly told him to do the same to every other part of his body.

Two boys huddled up suspiciously on the same side of the bench, leaning into each other? They didn’t get caught here, but if they had gone to the cafeteria, they definitely would have.

"Right, so," he said, pulling away. "We're still going to study, right? We have an hour left."

Jungkook nodded. "Yeah."

"And about the lunch you made me... I'm pretty hungry now, so let’s hope I don’t get caught eating outside the cafeteria. Let's keep studying here? "

Jungkook gave him the most precious little smile ever. "Okay."

 

~~~~

 

Watching Jungkook do his schoolwork, Jimin suddenly found himself in a strange situation. He always had this habit of staring at the handsome boy from time to time, but he didn't realise just how often he did it until today.

'This boy is mine.'

Jimin stabbed the lunchbox aimlessly a few times, looking at the food Jungkook had made him. It actually tasted good, which made him feel luckier than ever.

"Jungkookie, say ahh..." he said suddenly, scooping a spoonful of food and offering it to him.

Jungkook looked up and chuckled. "Feels weird to have my own food fed to me."

"I don't care, it's good food and I want you to eat it. "

"Fine, okay." Jungkook opened his mouth and humoured his hyung for a little while, before going back to eating from his own set of lunch.

Jimin couldn't help himself - he kept craving for the boy’s attention, the same way he had gotten Jimin’s hooked onto him.

Noticing a bit of sauce near Jungkook's lips, he brought his thumb to it, wiping it off. He indulged himself further by licking said gravy off the finger, eagerly watching Jungkook's expression.

The other boy's face turned bright red.

"Hyung, I have tissues, you know," he managed to say, ducking his head back down.

"Clearly this is a better way?" Jimin joked, eyeing him suggestively. "I mean, I could just lick your face..."

Jungkook, visibly flustered, leaned onto the table and covered his face. "Jimin-hyung," he whined.

Seeing him his way, Jimin’s heart was twisting knots, the same way his face pulled his lips into a grin, burrowing a sweet, sugary feel into his body.

‘Goddamn,’ he thought, ‘Now I’ll never want to let him go.’

 

~~~~

 

Common recess meant that the classroom was occupied by classmates who were too lazy to grab a bite, and now either lazed around or started to do their work.

Everything was going on as per normal, until Seungwon suddenly appeared at the front door.

"Eh," said Hoseok, who was the first to notice her. "Why are you here again? At this time?"

"Jimin told me to meet here now," she replied, shrugging. "I was under the impression that there was a crisis going on."

"Crisis?!"

"Eh, Jiminie," said Taehyung, nudging awake the guy who had his head rested on his shoulder, "Seungwon is here, for whatever reason."

"Muh..." Jimin was still half-awake when his vision focused on his slightly worried-looking best friend. "Uh... oh, hello."

"What's going on?" she pressed immediately. "It happened during your free periods just now, right?"

"Huh, something happened?" Taehyung looked just as confused as Hoseok.

"Ah... so uh..." Jimin appeared slightly unsettled. "Tae, Hobi, you guys need to listen too."

"Oh?" went Taehyung. "I would have begged you to tell me anyway."

"I would eavesdrop even if you hadn't asked!" Hoseok exclaimed. "What's going on?"

"So, ahh..." Jimin tilted his head, smiling abashedly. "I have a... boyfriend now."

"Boy...friend?" Taehyung whispered every syllable in shock.

"Wait, really?"

Jimin nodded his head, refusing to make eye contact.

"Who?!" Taehyung questioned with a feverish excitement.

Hoseok just smacked him on the back. "Who else? It's gotta be that junior we were with!"

"Hobi is observant," praised Seungwon. "It's Jungkook-sshi, right?"

"...yeah."

The boys started shrieking like little school girls, while Seungwon pranced about.

"AHHHHH!" Taehyung grabbed his tie and started swinging it around, while Hoseok started hugging Taehyung out of nowhere. It caused the classmates present to stare at them with mild concern.

"What... are you guys doing..." asked one.

"They're being a bunch of crazy kids," said Jimin, laughing. "Ignore them."

"No wait, I'm curious now," said another.

"Ji min , my boy," said Seungwon, dragging out the last syllable of his name. "So, how did it start? Did you ask him out, or did he?"

"Jimin would never ask anyone out," Hoseok scoffed.

"Neither would Jungkook, to be honest," Seungwon replied. "So?"

"We were supposed to be studying, but then he dragged me to you know, the confessing place. And then he gave me lots of stuff and, yeah."

"Straight up confessed, huh..."

"What did he give you?"

Jimin grinned shyly again, looking to the side, grabbing his bag and slowly pulling the things out.

"A bouquet..."

"Woah!" Hoseok exclaimed. "The classic."

If the classmates weren't already intrigued earlier, now they came running at the sight of a beautiful bouquet of roses.

"Wah, Jimin, someone gave this to you?"

"Oh, it was a guy, wasn't it?"

"Yeah... and uh, he also gave me Belgian chocolates, I don’t even know how he knew it was my favourite."

"Oh, I told him," said Taehyung. "Not because he suddenly asked me or anything, I would've been suspicious. I think I just told him one day."

"That explains it. And uh... he made lunch for me. I had it just now. For breakfast, I know, but it was really good."

"He cooked for you?!" exclaimed a classmate. "Such... such husband material..."

"Apparently he cooks for himself once in a while." Jimin suddenly grinned. "Can you just imagine him cooking?"

"Aw, he's adorable," said Seungwon, sighing. "Did you take pics?"

"...why would I take pics?"

"So that we can see it?! Why don't you want to share the love?"

"What- huh?!" Jimin just sighed. "Anyway, uh, since he's an art student, he drew a picture of me, so..."

Collective gushing ensued when Jimin pulled out the art piece and showed it to the others in all its glory.

"What!? Not fair, I want Jungkook-sshi to draw me too!" Taehyung shouted in indignation.

"Why is he so good at drawing? It actually looks like you?" Hoseok protested, picking up the paper just to get a good look at it.

"And so you accepted his confession?"

"Yeah," Jimin meekly replied.

"I can't believe you got a boyfriend before me!" cried Seungwon, who began hitting him on the upper arm. "How dare you!"

"It's not my fault?!"

Taehyung pressed a hand to his chin, and pondered some unknown matter over for a little while.

"Jimin-ah, have you touched his soulbrand yet?"

Jimin looked incredulous. "Why would I?!"

"Well, why not? I always touch yours anyway."

"I... uh..." Jimin quickly became flustered. "I don't want him to think I'm too eager."

"Nonsense! You have to find out sooner or later!"

"Yeah, I guess."

Jimin couldn't help but feel the anxiety bubble up inside him.

"But Tae, you know what I'm really scared of now?"

Taehyung nodded. As his Number One Ultimate Best Friend Supreme, it was natural he knew.

"Your eomma, right?"

 

~~~~

 

Early one morning, Class 2-C was anxiously waiting for English class to end.

It had been about a week since the confession. Jungkook couldn't help but think back to all the preparations he had made. He sighed in happiness, reminiscing the very moment he knew that it had all been worth it.

I... I accept!

He had to thank Bambam, who pestered him to the very end - they were even chatting on his laptop with Jimin already there! Without that sunbae, he would never have built up the courage to ask Jimin out. It would’ve bothered him to death.

Although, rather than finally getting out of his head, he gradually came to realise that it was now distracting him even more - though at least it felt like a good distraction. Throughout the lesson, he kept staring at his phone, seeing Jimin's message on his notifications. He couldn't wait to reply once lessons ended.

Despite the closeness, they hadn't specially gone out on dates, though. It became quite clear that Jimin meant to take things slow, and he accepted that. They still studied together a lot, resulting in a lot of romantic encounters. And they loved to spend time with each other, or even just call if they were particularly busy.

He was okay with that.

Class eventually ended. Jungkook could finally read his messages properly and type out a response. He looked calm, but internally he felt like a diehard fanboy, as he typed a heart emoji.

Then, a classmate approached him, interrupting his boyfriend time.

Jungkook looked at her in annoyance, immediately recognising her as one of those frivolous, annoying girls. He never liked her, and her bad-mouthing of Jimin that day turned that into pure hatred.

Without warning, the girl suddenly bowed her head.

"Jungkook-oppa, I've always liked you! Please accept my feelings."

A public confession, right in front of the class. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Before Jimin, he would have rejected her either way, but he would've been a bit frightened. But now, the security of dating his favourite person ever, and the assurance that he deserved so much better than her, gave him an arrogance that made him look upon her with contempt.

"Not interested. Also, don’t call me oppa."

There were a few hushed gasps, but it was nothing the class didn't expect. A good minority shared similar sentiments towards this girl.

The sad pout on her oily face was made for Jungkook to slap. He was composed enough to stop himself, but he still itched to give her a piece of his mind. He couldn’t resist sneering at her.

"In case you didn't know, I have a boyfriend, and I don't plan on leaving him for your sorry, homophobic ass."

There, he said it. The class gasped even louder this time, with genuine shock. Even Namjoon's eyes widened.

Popular boy Jungkook has a boyfriend?!

This was news on a scandalous level - Jungkook was practically a local celebrity in his year. But the general vibe wasn't derision, but of admiration. A few classmates, moved by the strength of his words, started to clap and cheer. Then through the sheer emotion of drama, the rest started to clap as well. Jungkook triumphantly sat back down, while the girl treaded back to her seat, wildly embarrassed and incredibly upset.

 

~~~~

 

Namjoon-seom had called him to meet outside class again, which Jungkook faced with the stoic demeanour of a soldier marching to his death. He was ready for a thorough interrogation.

"Your boyfriend. It's Park Jimin from 3-A, right?"

Jungkook froze in place. "How did you-"

"Don't you remember? I saw you at the café with him and his friends."

"Oh, right."

"Now, as a teacher, usually I'm supposed to say, don't date while you're still in high school, blah blah blah... But to be honest, I'm glad you have him to rely on. Are you two soulmates?"

The boy blushed, and looked down at his teacher's shoes. "I don't know..." he muttered.

"Well, maybe you should start checking. The two of you really have the feel. Oh, and if you ever need advice on, um, gay stuff, feel free come to me."

Jungkook was fairly surprised. "Namjoon-seom, if you don't mind me asking, are you-"

"Gay? Yes, I'm bi. But even I wasn't entirely sure that you would swing that way."

"Oh, I'm bi too, but most people don't think I'm the type."

"Clearly, your classmates don't. Now they know, though." He chuckled. "Well, at least for the liking boys part."

"Actually, I'm beginning to question if I even like girls at all..."

"Been there. I can help give some advice."

He saw someone walking past catch his teacher's gaze. He leaned to the side to see a familiar head of pinkish hair.

"Anyway, I gotta go now. See you!"

"See you," Jungkook replied back, still feeling dazed.

Watching his teacher rush through the corridor to meet up with Seokjin-seom, he realised that the best people in his life were queer.

Except for his parents. That was a reasonable exception.

Chapter Text

Namjoon quickly caught up to Seokjin along the corridor, nearly tripping on his own two feet.

"Hey, hyung," he greeted, once the older teacher turned around.

Seokjin smiled. "Hey, just ended lessons?"

"Yeah, you?"

"I'm heading to one right now," he said, as they continued walking together, pacing down the stairs. "To 3-A. Ah... one of my favourite classes, really."

"Hm? Park Jimin's in that class, right?"

"Ah, right, Seungwon's friend."

"Tell him to take good care of Jungkook," he said, voice slightly serious. "If Jimin hurts him, tell him he'll be a dead, dead man."

"Wait, by saying this..." Seokjin gasped. "Are those two...?"

Namjoon nodded his head with vigour, a stupid smile on his face. Seokjin nearly screamed in the corridor, flailing around.

The sight of two fully-adult men shaking in fanboyish excitement would have stupefied any passing student. Luckily, they were relatively alone.

"Ah, and uh, um..." Namjoon casually touched his neck and scratched the bottom of his scalp. "Do you want to get dinner later? After school?"

Seokjin hesitated for a short moment, which already made Namjoon feel let down. "It's okay," he said preemptively, "I can-"

"No, no, it's nothing," Seokjin suddenly grinned in reply. "I should be free later."

Namjoon felt like something was off, but was too relieved to think about it. "Okay, see you later then. Five at the carpark?"

"Sure. See you," he said, as he turned into the classroom.

 

~~~~

 

Seokjin-seom took a deep breath, walked into class, and his lesson begun.

"Good afternoon everyone!"

"Good afternoon Seokjin-seom."

Setting all other personal things aside, he got into a proper teaching state of mind. This section of the syllabus - particularly this first part - required some lecturing on the acting techniques. He did his best to give a comprehensive explanation, while enjoying his own jokes way too much.

The class was laughing at his laughter, not at him, but that was alright.

There were several videos that he was meant to show as examples, so he let them play. While he leaned against the teacher’s table, relaxing a little, he couldn't help but let his mind wander.

Namjoon... had actually asked him out for dinner. It was truly something incredibly common and lacklustre among the teachers, since practically everyone did that. It was no big deal. Yet, coming from this guy, it was .

Namjoon's enthusiasm was getting increasingly apparent, day by day. Not that the guy had ever tried to hide it. Seokjin might have looked like he objected to the idea, but he came to realise that was nowhere near the truth. On the other hand, he wanted to be pursued.

He did have plans later in the day to eat out with other colleagues. He even considered playing hard to get with Namjoon, but eventually decided against it.

Who cared about what would happen if they found out he ditched them for Namjoon? He didn’t. Rumours were already spreading, and this incident would only fuel it a little.

Besides, there was a part of him that craved that attention. The scandal behind it was just the icing on the cake.

'I want the whole school to feel that there's something on between us,' he thought, an innocent-looking smile plastered on his face. 'I want our colleagues to know that he's chasing after me.'

There was a very simple reason behind this.

'Because I like him too!'

Without event, the video ended. Seokjin was about to continue his lesson-

Then, a chair fell over.

Everyone jerked towards the source of the sound. The sounds of things unceremoniously dropping to the floor was a daily occurrence, but this sound was nowhere near that. The sound of metal dragged across the floor grated on their ears.

It wasn't immediately obvious who it was, with his face fiercely pressed onto the floor, but the deep, bloodcurdling cries of pain was enough to cause chaos in the mind, and for Jimin to realise exactly who it was.

"TAEHYUNG!?"

Jimin's shriek was hysterical. He kicked his chair off balance, rushing with a frenzied run to his best friend’s side.

"Taehyung, can you hear me? Wh-what's… what’s going on?"

"It… burns!" Taehyung forced the words out in a scream. "It's... my back... it..."

The entire class started to mutter and shake, palpably anxious.

'Holy fucking shit,' was Seokjin's first thought, jumping to action. Without wasting another second, he rushed to his student's side.

"Taehyung-ah, breathe in and out. Relax a bit while I check your back, okay?"

He quickly lifted up his shirt, from the back. His markings were glowing, but not from a soulmate's touch - it was glowing like an angry ember, burning off its own edges in a vomit-inducing, splotchy pattern.

"Bring him to the nurse," he determined, according to protocol. "Someone, help Jimin carry him there!"

The other students flinched and retreated, desperately avoiding any chance of catching sight of the wound. Hoseok was the next brave one to rush towards him, carrying him by the legs while Jimin held his upper body.

Jimin gritted his teeth. "Tae, you'll be alright, just hold on okay?!"

"I... I can't..." Taehyung was starting to lose his voice - every next breath was a fight for his life.

"Listen to me!" shouted Hoseok, "You're strong! YOU'LL GET THROUGH THIS!"

While the two scrambled towards the sick bay, Seokjin-seom frantically dialed a number on his phone.

"Hello? We have an emergency case of SDT. We need help, now. "

 

~~~~

 

The room walls were mint green in the paediatric ward. The space was cozy, to say the least - the bed took up a lot of it, which Taehyung slept in, wires attached to his wrist.

His face would occasionally twitch in pain, but he wasn't suffering alone. Seokjin, Jimin and Hoseok had been there from the start, and Jungkook had rushed here after school.

Jimin was close to tears, but it was more of a disbelieving shock. He held onto Taehyung's hand, locking their fingers and gripping tightly.

Strangely, Jungkook wasn’t that jealous. If anything, he was torn between two options: an instinct to hold Taehyung's hand too, or just staying by Jimin's side. The question was, who needed the support more?

He decided on the latter - Jimin wanted him by his side, more than anything. Hoseok was already on the other side of the bed, holding Taehyung’s wrist, looking anxious.

“He’ll be okay, right?’ Jimin murmured. “He… he wouldn’t be one of those patients who-”

Jungkook shushed him and patted his back. "He's stronger than that."

"I... I know... but I just-"

Without waiting for him to finish, he shoved Jimin in his arms, in his chest, in the gap above his shoulder, and squeezed him tight.

"The more you freak out, the more he'd freak out too."

Jimin was tense, but gradually eased into Jungkook's hug.

Seokjin, who witnessed it all, slowly smiled. Namjoon hadn't been lying.

"By any chance, are the two of you... soulmates?" he asked, as innocently as he should have.

The sudden voice scared the both of them, who had momentarily forgotten that a teacher was right there with them. They looked at their teacher, looking a little lost for words.

"Hey, I don't judge. You two have a strong vibe, that's all."

Jimin visibly relaxed, but Jungkook was still deep in thought about the 'strong vibe' part of his sentence. He thought he might have heard it somewhere before.

‘Could they actually be…?’

Jungkook already had his suspicions from way back when. These strange sequence of events just reaffirmed it. Hadn’t they coined a term for these sort of things? A feeling, as if everything were the work of fate - strange coincidences that signified a bond that was meant to be. But what if it wasn’t?

Would Jimin leave him then?

He wanted to know. But even the mere thought of letting him go dug a hole in the very integrity of his being. So he kept Jimin in his arms, squeezing tighter.

He even turned his head directly to his left, peering at Seokjin in the corner of his gaze. Once he saw the man busy texting on his phone, he turned back to Jimin and kissed him on the lips.

That had been their first proper kiss.

There was a little bit of awkwardness, but it was numbed. All Jungkook could think of was the baby-smooth lips the heavens had blessed Jimin with. He could only feel his warmth.

They eventually pulled away from the sweet, sweet feeling, but Jungkook just kept staring at him. Jimin stared back, his eyes for once focused on him, only him, not the agony in his heart.

Hoseok groaned, only now noticing the duo’s intimate moment. That snapped them out of it - Jimin gave him a warning stare, while Jungkook noticed that Seokjin had already looked up from his phone, and was now eyeing him intently.

"Hey, I’ll leave you guys at it,” he said, putting a hand up. "Stay safe and stay well, everyone."

"Bye Seokjin-seom!" said the three people, voices overlapping.

 

~~~~

 

Seokjin walked a few paces out of the room before sitting himself on the plastic seats, attached to the wall. Then, he began typing furiously on his phone.

 

You
OMFG
I SWEAR THEY JUST KISSED
I CANT BELIEVE I MISSED IT

Namjoon!!
WHAT!
how what why what did you see??? 

You
Okay so I was texting you right
So i didnt see what they were doin
And then hoseok suddenly groaned
I think it was at tHEM

Namjoon!!
AAAAAFSFS

You
And i looked at the two of them
They weRE STARING INTO EACH OTHERS EYES
AND I SWEAR I HEARD THIS POP SOUND
THEY MUST HAVE KISSED 

Namjoon!!
THAT’S SO ADORABLE?
wow my kids are growing up 

You
What kids
Joonie are you even old enough to be a dad

Namjoon!!
…no
but i’m old enough to be a daddy

You
AHEM 

Namjoon!!
;)
I’M SORRY 

You
OH OKAY
I DIDNT NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS SIDE OF YOU 

Namjoon!!
:(
pls don’t leave
can we still be friends

You
No c:

 

Seokjin was covering his mouth in real life, trying not to guffaw into the faces of the nurses passing by.

 

Namjoon!!
:(((
oh, are we still eating later?
i mean, it’s getting late and you’re all the way there

 

Seokjin thought about it for a while, before typing an answer.

 

You
Maybe we could have dinner some other time
Won’t want to trouble you!! 

Namjoon!!
hmm...
have you eaten yet? 

You
Not yet
It’s okay though, i can get some food myself

Namjoon!!
the food at the hospital ain’t great though
tell you what, wait there and i’ll pack some food for you

 

Seokjin was genuinely astonished. He just wanted to see what Namjoon’s reaction was, but for him to actually do something like that for him? The man was touched beyond words. 

‘He is so totally into me.’ he thought, an eyeless smile stretching across his face.

 

~~~~

 

Jimin shuffled his heavy feet into the living room, seeing as the TV was on, and the sounds of his parents laughing could be heard from the hallway.

He contemplated waiting for the show to end to approach them - he didn’t want to ruin the mood.

But a voice called out: ‘If not now, then when?’

"Eomma, appa," he managed to call out.

"Yes, Jimin-ah?"

"I need to tell you something."

His mother turned towards him, beckoning him to continue, while his father lowered the TV audio volume.

"I'm..." His eyelids fluttered. "I've been dating someone."

"That's nice, Jimin," said his father immediately, giving him a smile. "Who is it?"

His mother wasn’t as comforting.

"A boy, right?"

Jimin looked down at the floor. "Eomma, I'm sorry."

His mother seemed to brush it away with a flick of her hand. "Hey, why apologise? It's just dating, I dated a lot when I was in high school. I wonder how I even survived, seriously."

"I... it’s not just that eomma, I think- I think he might be my soulmate."

A pause.

"Is it that Jungkook boy?"

"Yes."

His mother stared into blank space for a long while, before nodding. "He's a good kid. I like him."

"Huh? Then..."

"If he is, then he is. What’s more to say?"

"I..." Jimin felt extremely confused.

Why was his mother so… calm?

Why had Jimin worried so much? Of course she was fine. It wasn't like he hadn't given her time to prepare. Ever since he came out to them, she'd always been upset knowing that he would probably never have a wife.

Now, it made him feel worse. It made him feel guilty. If Jungkook really was his soulmate, then... wouldn't that seal the deal? Crush his mother's hopes and dreams?

There was his brother, but what he wasn’t able to fulfil her ideals, either?

He was scared . That was all there was to it - he was uncertain of anything, and he was scared.

With a timid nod, he began retreating to his room. His father walked over to him immediately, patting him on the shoulder.

"Hug?" he offered genially.

Jimin accepted it in an instant, burying his head into his father's chest, and started to cry.

His mother sat still on the sofa, hearing his pathetic sobs, staring blankly at the TV screen.

 

~~~~

 

Namjoon let out a sigh. Days had passed in a flash, gnawing on his energy to the core.

As a reward he allowed himself a timely soak in a scented bath, leisurely scrolling through his phone. And knowing himself, he even put the phone in a ziploc bag.

Then, he received a message. His eyes widened in surprise.

 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Hello Namjoon-seom! Sorry for disturbing, is it okay if I ask for some help?

You
good evening jk!
nice to hear from you, how’s everything?
is school alright? 

Jungkook (SOTA)
School… it’s manageable?
I wanted to ask about personal stuff
Uh… the gay stuff 

You
oh, is this about jimin? 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Yes
Uh is it okay if I send a chunk of text? 

You
yes of course! 

Jungkook (SOTA) is typing…

 

Namjoon waited patiently, keeping it in his mind as he looked at some other stuff on his phone. After a solid five minutes, he received a little ding.

 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Okay… so you know how you said about us being so close, like possibly being soulmates? Seokjin-seom said something really similar, and I think that might have affected Jimin because he’s acting pretty weird… 

What I mean by weird is, he refuses to talk about it. Sometimes he seems really happy around me, then sometimes he suddenly gets sad and then he says he just hasn’t been in a good mood recently. Which I doubt is the only thing.

I think it’s because I talked to him about the soulbrand thing. I tried asking him about it and he’d always try to evade it, and I even told him what mine was, in case he was shy about his own, but then he just got even more stubborn… Maybe he just doesn’t like me? But he always tells me how much he loves being with me, and he hugs me a lot and stuff. And his smile really looks like he’s happy when he’s happy!

I don’t know though. Could it be that Jimin-hyung doesn’t want to be soulmates with me? I don’t know what to do and I’m really really scared…

 

Namjoon lurched back a bit in reality, dropping his phone in the water. He never felt so grateful for a ziploc bag in his entire life. 

When the boy said a chunk of text, he really meant a chunk of text. Scrolling through the entire thing, he couldn’t help but think: this poor child!

 

You
alright, don’t panic first okay? let me think…

 

Namjoon felt that he was actually making rather clever inferences. It led him to think that Jungkook had really thought about it deeply, and mulled over the possibilities before coming to his teacher for help. It meant that he was truly stuck, right? He couldn’t help but feel for his predicament. 

Truth to be told, Namjoon also felt that Jimin’s behaviour was strange. On one hand, he doubted that Jimin didn’t want to be soulmates with him - they were so close! - but on the other, there had to be a reason for acting this way. Thinking for a bit longer, he tried to give his perspective.

 

You
okay, i can’t guarantee whatever i say is 100% accurate. it’s impossible for me to know exactly what jimin is thinking, but i suspect it could be the usual culprit. 

Jungkook (SOTA)
What is it? 

You
i think its unlikely that he doesn’t like you. he wouldn’t date you if that was the case. he’s rejected people before! so, it could be influence from his family.

Jungkook (SOTA)
Ah… that’s possible

You
have you asked about his parents? have they met you before? 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Yeah, they seem nice… especially his dad! 

You
maybe you could ask for jimin’s opinion?
i wouldn’t know for sure but i think jimin might think differently.
he would appreciate the concern at least
you’re doing great! you’re taking responsibility for an issue you weren’t able to solve on your own. that’s good! 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Thank you so much Namjoon-seom
I’ll think about it. 

You
no problem!!
come to me for help anytime, okay?
i’m sure everything will be okay. hang in there! 

Jungkook (SOTA)
Okay, thanks so much again :)

 

Namjoon suddenly gasped.

A smiley face! Since the beginning of the school year, Jungkook had never used an emoticon when messaging him, not even once. This trivial thing made him grin with glee, as he sunk deeper into the bathtub. 

He felt immensely proud, as if his entire life has led up to this moment, and it had all been worth it.

 

~~~~

 

Yoongi had never liked the hospital, but there he was, and on a wholly voluntary basis.

He knew there would come a day when he would have to come back, but now? So soon?

He stood beside Taehyung as he slept. He didn't say a word - he barely even made a sound when he had opened the door and stepped towards the bed. He didn't cry, and he didn't look like he was about to.

Instead, his face was contorted into an empty expression, and seemed frozen that way. He seemed to be experiencing a multitude of faint memories and intrinsic thoughts, and the result was detachment from the rest of the world.

He simply looked over Taehyung's peaceful sleeping face for the thousandth time, and wondered just how much pain was hiding underneath that. He was well aware of the erratic dreams that came from SDT, switching from happy to horrifying in almost an instant.

It was only after scrutinising his face so intensely that Yoongi realised all the tiny imperfections that he had barely noticed recently. They had always been there, Yoongi knew that for a fact - because the younger guy annoyed him so much, those features seemed to have surfaced first. But Yoongi found himself numbed by the fact that he couldn't care less anymore. Right then and there, he made an internal confession that Taehyung was the most beautiful boy he'd ever met.

"Taehyungie..." he whispered, closing his eyes as he rested a hand on the bed frame. He stayed that way, so still that one might have thought he had fallen asleep like that, but the moment the bed stirred Yoongi's eyes snapped open.

He stared at Taehyung's moving figure, keeping as silent as he had been before, waiting for Taehyung to regain his consciousness.

"Yoongi-hyung?"

"That's me," was the reply. He waited for him to rub his eyes and stretch a bit.

"Hyung, you’re finally here..."

"Of course. You know those jerks kept me in the dark until basketball practice? I was so fucking pissed when I found out. So, I couldn't not come. After all, I'm your favourite sunbae..." Yoongi laughed. "Your only sunbae."

Taehyung smiled. In a sense, he knew why no one had told him. Yoongi being a victim himself would have made him twice as devastated.

"I'm... glad," he said, sighing. "Oh, did you bring anything for me?"

"...huh?"

Taehyung grinned cheekily. "You always bring food for me."

"Wow, you brat! I was too worried about whether you'd survive , let alone what you wanted for lunch."

"Haha, I'm just kidding, hyung..."

Yoongi reached out to grab his hand, shocking Taehyung from the sudden display of affection. Nevertheless, he reciprocated his action and squeezed his hand back.

Yoongi sighed.

"You know, I… did some research. Was just wondering who your soulmate could have been, and, well... in the news, there was this... thing that happened in X High School that day. The all-girls one a road next to ours."

"Huh? What happened?"

"A girl jumped off the school building. Right during lesson time, too, when the SDT hit you. Apparently driven to suicide by bullies. Fucking... bullies..."

Taehyung was silent.

"I'm not saying it's definitely her, but... it's definitely her."

Taehyung clutched at the gown fabric near his chest, wrestling with the emptiness that seemed to take up some inter-dimensional space somewhere between his throat and his heart.

Seeing him like that made Yoongi involuntarily do the same.

"I need to see her."

Chapter Text

Almost two weeks had passed since the newspaper headlines, once Taehyung was finally able to stand up.

It had been twelve days since the small memorial had been set up in the school, and that was twelve days too long for the teachers and cleaning staff. Some students would occasionally trip over the stuff and carelessly curse at it. The other students would be saddened at her death for a short while, until they decided they had more important things to do than sulk over someone they barely knew.

A small gang of girls walked by, guilty but not guilty at all, laughing to themselves over a frivolous picture they found on the internet. This girl who took her life was but a fleeting, insignificant victory in their narrow-viewed eyes. They barely even glanced at the memorial. They couldn't even care enough to react.

There was another girl who stood in front of it every day, after school. You knew that she would’ve been one of those bubbly, pleasant acquaintances to be around, one who always had friends wherever she went. But now, she looked half-dead, her eyes dried clean of tears long, long ago.

Calling her a best friend would be a little exaggerated, but she still visited the memorial every day, without fail.

“You guys can go home first,” she had said to her other friends. “I’m going to stay here for a while.”

They kept their distance, understanding her circumstance.

That was why seeing the bullies walk past had filled her up with an incredible surge of fury. She couldn't help but spit in their direction, making them scream a little.

The first one to turn her head and find the culprit glared at her. "What's your fucking problem?"

"Oh, it's Dead Girl's  bestie . Ignore her."

"What did you just fucking say?!" she screamed, grabbing the surroundings’ attention.

Everyone was shooting dirty looks in their direction, specifically at the bullies. They knew, subconsciously, that all of this mess could have been prevented if it weren't for those imbeciles.

But the girl, the “best friend”, could only feel the gazes aimed towards herself.

"Oh, sorry, it's totally our faults that your best friend killed herself," another one spat. “It’s such typical attention-seeking behaviour, you should know better."

"Attention-seeking?"  The girl let out a loud laugh. "Speak for yourself. Go look in a mirror."

" You  look in a mirror," said the first one, seeming amused. "You look really sick. Are you going to jump off too?"

The girl was about to roll up her sleeves when an unfamiliar sigh came from behind them. "You guys had enough yet?"

The entire area shushed when they realised the deep, sexy voice must have come from a guy, and the only guys in this school were the teachers and staff.

The group turned to look back at the source of the voice, only to see two unfamiliar guys - neither in school uniform, which made them unidentifiable - with one leaning on the shorter guy for support.

The students were rather stunned. Judging from his height, clothing choice and speech, this guy wasn't that much older than them. Yet, he commanded immediate authority over all those present.

"Who are you?" asked one of the bullies, boldly, her eyes looking like she was itching for a fight. "Who do you think you are?"

"Do you need to know?" replied the shorter guy. "Do you even care? No, you don't. Do you think I want to know who you are? Nah, I'd probably forget it in like, three minutes."

"Say that one more time?!"

"Oh, did I hurt your feelings? Too bad for you, I'm not apologising."

A particularly menacing girl stepped up and stared him down. "You think you can get away with disrespecting and talking down to girls? I’m  taller  than you!"

He didn’t budge. "Congrats, beanstalk. And anyway, why should I respect you?  You  destroyed that girl's life, and  you’re  not saying sorry."

He tilted his head towards the memorial, then looked back at them with a simpering smile.

"Honestly, I feel really bad, am I embarrassing you? Oh, how difficult your lives must be... Is that Prada? High fashion! Did your parents break their backs to feed a brat with a gold spoon?"

Gasps came from the crowd, from girls who were desperately trying not to laugh.

"It must be fun pretending a life doesn't matter to you!" he continued, laughing. "You're pretending, right? That's why you're trying so hard to act cool."

No one moved, and the students walking by were clogged up by the traffic. The group was trembling, looking side to side with their jaws locked, unmoving.

"Yeah, we're not here for you. Fuck off."

The group scurried off in an instant, becoming an immediate target of ridicule for the passing students.

"Yoongi-hyung..." murmured the other guy. "They might think you're a delinquent."

"Oh uh, no, no I'm not," he quickly explained to the girl, who was still standing there, mildly in shock.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"I’m Yoongi," said guy replied, much more cordially this time. "This guy here is my friend Taehyung. We’re from SOTA."

"Oh, wow…" To mere mortals like the girl, a prestigious arts school name was enough for them to gape in awe. "Why are you here, though?"

"See, my friend here just went through SDT. He’s a little weak right now because of it."

"Ah," the girl immediately understood. "He must have gotten hit during class, I’m sorry."

"Don’t apologise," said Taehyung quickly. "It’s not your fault. It’s not hers either, I just…"

He stared at the memorial, at the small, printed photo of her, smiling only for the camera. She didn’t seem sad, just uncomfortable. He burned the image of her into his mind.

Taehyung pulled out a small stalk of plastic flowers. "Sorry, we couldn’t find any real flowers," he said to the girl. "Will this do?"

"Ah, of course!" Fake or not, the flowers were still beautiful and sincere.

He nudged Yoongi, and they edged closer to face it directly. He placed the flowers down gently, and then stood up with his eyes shut.

"I don’t know you, but you must have been a really nice girl," he simply said.

"She was," said the girl, sighing. "I just wish..."

Yoongi looked towards her. "Are you her best friend?"

The girl looked away from his gaze, shaking her head sadly. "I wish I was. Maybe then she wouldn’t have done this."

"What do you mean?" Taehyung suddenly spoke, turning towards her too.

"I only really talked to her every once in a while. I was always with other friends, I mean, there wasn’t really any way to ditch them, but she didn’t like hanging out with groups. I liked talking to her..." Her voice cracked. "She always had really interesting opinions. You know, like they aren’t common, but you can’t help but feel like they’re true. When she laughs you see that you made her happy and it makes you happy too. And she always wanted to be kind."

"She sounds really nice."

"I guess she was. I don’t know… I know it’s not my fault. But I feel like I could’ve saved her. If I had given those fucking assholes what for, maybe I could’ve."

"No point in blaming yourself," said Yoongi comfortingly.

She grabbed a fistful of ponytail.

"I keep thinking about her every day. Feels like she’s haunting me. Or maybe I just miss seeing her around. Everything feels wrong."

Taehyung patted her back gently. "It does, huh?"

They looked back at the photo.

"Told you your love life wouldn’t be doomed," she said jokingly. "You’d have a hot boyfriend."

"Yeah, exactly," he said to it, chuckling a little. "But you never even let me know you. Maybe you thought no one would miss you, but… lust look. Look at the people who you could've brightened their days, made their lives a little more worth living. But you went ahead and ended yourself over a few shitty bullies? You idiot."

The other two didn’t dare make a sound.

"You don't know who I am. You never knew that I prayed every day, wishing that you were in good health, that one day I'd meet you and make you my princess... But you died, just like that. I will never know the pain you experienced when you were alive... But I felt a little bit of that pain too, when you died.

"But you don't deserve this death!" His voice grew into a shout. "You should have found me, and grown old with me! And instead you let these fucking bullies laugh over your death? Why?!"

Yoongi, standing silently beside him, internalised his every word.

‘Taehyung-ah, it’s times like these that I can’t bring myself to look at you.’

Yoongi clenched his fists.

‘Why does my heart hurt when it does? Why is it that my mind goes blank?’

He bit his lip.

‘I wish that girl never died. I wish you’d find her and be happy. Why…how come I don’t even believe myself when I say that?’

His thoughts were left unfinished, perhaps on purpose.

 

~~~~

 

Eventually, Taehyung opened his eyes, looking towards his hyung.

"I’m okay now. We can go." His voice was shaky, but Yoongi understood.

"Thanks for your company," he said to the girl, bowing a little. "We’ll leave now."

To their surprise, the girl didn’t immediately say goodbye. "Hold on," she stopped them. "This... this might sound a bit weird, but c-can I have your autograph? Or anything to remember you by?"

"Eh?" Yoongi was understandably perplexed.

"Ah, it's okay. It's just that, just now, when you were saying those things to those- those bitches, I felt like... I felt like I was being saved. Like a superhero just saved me. Sounds stupid, but I really, really want to remember this."

"You're a very sentimental person," said Yoongi, squinting his eyes a little. "I like that. Have anything for me to sign on?"

"Here. I actually have an autograph book."

"Wow, you carry one around?" asked Taehyung with curiosity. "You must be quite interested in celebrities."

"Haha, I actually keep autographs of my close friends too. But here - I have one of Song Joongki!"

"Wow," said Yoongi, genuinely impressed. "Where do I sign?"

"Here." She flipped to a blank page and pointed at it.

Yoongi took out a pen, thought about his signature for a little bit before putting his pen to the paper. It begun with a large, bold 'S', before giving shape to the other letters.

"S... Suga?" The girl squinted at the signature, trying to make out the foreign word. "Is that your English name?"

"Kind of," said Yoongi with a small smile, as he gave the book back. "You better keep that autograph safe, it might be worth a lot in the future."

"Yeah, someone like you might be on the news for causing a ruckus," the girl cheekily said.

"Do you really think I’m that kind of person?" he joked. "Anyway, thank you. We'll take our leave."

"Goodbye," she said cheerily, staring at the signature for a long while, even after the guy had left, as if she had caught a faint glimpse of the future.

There would be a hip-hop group making their debut a year or so from now, and it would take another year until she became a fan. She would have gotten a signed photo card of her bias, only to see a familiar, large 'S' signed along the edge.

 

~~~~

 

It took a few weeks for Taehyung to recover even remotely well enough to walk. In the meantime, his friends visited him whenever they could. Jimin and Hoseok would bring him worksheets from the day's lessons, while Jungkook would bring him food. Seungwon would tag along and give him a breakdown of whatever hot new thing was happening in school. Seokjin occasionally came in to check in, too. Oh, and to bring more food.

And whenever neither Jimin nor Hoseok were free to pass the notes to him, they always gave the task to Yoongi. He was always there, every day, either always studying silently beside him, or helping him out with a question he didn't know how to do, albeit rather crassly. Taehyung didn't seem to mind, though, growing warmer and warmer to his hyung's icy company.

Of course, there were his family, especially his parents who would visit after work often, but definitely not as often as Yoongi. They had become so accustomed to his constant presence that once Taehyung could be discharged, they gave Yoongi the temporary custody over their son to send him home, since they wouldn't be returning until the next morning.

"Tae-tae, are you ready?"

Their frugal hearts made them instinctively head for the bus stop, but Yoongi quickly stopped the younger boy. The hospital was too far away from his house, and the last thing he wanted to happen was Taehyung exhausting himself on the way back.

They ended up taking a cab.

At first, the taxi driver didn't think too much about two boys returning to a residential area together - she thought they looked like brothers, almost. But eventually, she got a little unsettled after a whole ten minutes of silence.

Looking into the rear view, she saw that one of them - the older-looking one - was looking at his phone, with the other peering at it for a short moment before looking at his own. The driver shook her head. Millennials and their newfangled technology...

After a few more minutes, she then realised that their hands were together, fingers interlocked. Not that strange a sight, especially in the relative privacy of a cab. But it was enough for her to raise an eyebrow.

"Are you feeling okay, Taehyungie?"

"I'm... okay. I still feel awful."

"Hm... don't worry too much. SDT doesn't stop being a nuisance for a long while, but it won't harm you."

"Okay..."

The driver immediately felt sympathy for the young man, after realising why he looked so weak. She thought about her own wife, and couldn't imagine what life would be without her.

"Hey, hope everything goes alright for you," she said to him, causing them to be a little startled. Nevertheless, they thanked her.

"Hyung, I feel a bit dizzy..."

"Shit. Okay, rest. Use my shoulder."

Taehyung wordlessly complied, discovering Yoongi's shoulder to be extremely comfortable to sleep on. It wasn't too soft or too hard - for some reason, it just felt right.

The hole inside his chest temporarily filled up - he hadn't noticed the absence, because after the fleeting sensation left like a breeze, the void made him want to cry.

"Hyung..." he whispered in his head, not noticing that he had unintentionally said it out.

Yoongi actually felt the same emotions as he did, which confused him at first. But the way Taehyung uttered that single word made his heart melt so much that he couldn't care anymore.

The driver was equally perplexed - if the boy had just went through SDT, then why did their atmosphere feel so... strong?

It was as if they were soulmates? But that was clearly impossible.

Before long, the ride had arrived near Taehyung’s house.

"I'll pay first," said Yoongi, taking the initiative.

"Ah? Hyung, you’re getting off here too? Isn’t that a bit inconvenient?"

"I have to follow you to your front door, at least."

When they got off, Taehyung immediately attempted to pay back his share. A slightly hilarious scene unfolded as Yoongi refused to accept it.

He paid fully for the ride in the end, with or without Taehyung's disgruntled agreement.

 

~~~~

 

"Ah," said Taehyung, looking around the house. "My younger siblings are probably asleep now."

Yoongi froze for a while. "I... have to take care of you, then."

"Eh? No, it's too inconvenient-"

"You think I care about that? Why do you think I was always at the hospital? Your safety is much more important than convenience, Tae."

There was something in Yoongi’s words, in his earnest eyes, that softened him, and let him stay the night.

 

~~~~

 

Blankets, hot milk, lying on the sofa with the TV on. Everything was provided by Yoongi, who sat beside him, scrolling lazily through his phone.

Taehyung had never felt so pampered before. Not even by his family.

"Yoongi-hyung, can you look at my back? Is it still red?”

Yoongi was surprised by the sudden request, but complied anyway.

"Okay, turn around."

Once Taehyung’s back was comfortably facing him, he slowly lifted up his shirt. The markings were broken into segments, and looked slightly eaten through. Now it was only a little darker than the rest of his skin, but Yoongi still winced at it. Taehyung could sense something from his silence.

"Does it look that bad?"

"No, not really, it’s just… a waste." He trailed his fingers along the broken paths of the soulbrand, almost wishing they would light up. But of course they didn’t. It was dead.

He hated scars. He hated looking at them and seeing the state it deteriorated into. But he didn’t hate Taehyung’s, and lightly caressed them as if they were small chips of fine porcelain.

"Actually, can you keep doing that? It feels nice."

Yoongi scrunched up his face. "Am I your personal back masseur?!"

Taehyung turned around to stick his tongue out. "Personal caretaker. Look at all this stuff you did for me." He lifted up one of several blankets.

Yoongi sighed, though with a smile. "Fine..." he said, continuing with the motions as his mind began to drift.

Yoongi’s aimless train of thoughts suddenly crashed to a halt when he saw Taehyung’s back jerk upwards, as the boy let out a sob.

He stopped immediately. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Taehyung just shook his head. "Nothing. I just feel so sad... I feel like I've lost the entire world..."

Yoongi nodded slowly, patting his back. "It does that to you."

"Hyung, can I... can I hug you?"

"Of course."

Taehyung leaped into his arms, causing Yoongi's breath to hitch. The feeling of his warm body, the shape it took and enveloped in his arms... He never wanted to let go.

"I don't understand. Why me- no, why her?"

His deceased soulmate. Right.

"Why...? That girl didn't deserve to die... she might not even be my soulmate, hyung, but she was still a person... who could've done something to make her end her own life? Why her... and not me?"

Yoongi cradled him, slowly brushing his hair.

"Because it definitely can't be you. You brought so much happiness to everyone... Look at all the people who care about you..."

'Myself included.'

"Taehyung-ah. When it happened, I was just eight, you know that. I was in that dangerous spot of... was I going to die, or not? No one knew."

"My parents aren't... my parents could barely even afford the... I always felt so useless. I remember feeling, why don't they just let me die? I was always a little brat..."

His voice started to quiver, and Taehyung's shoulder was starting to feel wet.

"Hyung, I get what you mean. I’m not rich either... I feel like such a burden sometimes. Like now."

Yoongi shivered. Despite that, he pressed on.

"Maybe I don't really know it, but... I know your pain, Taehyungie. I wish you never had to experience what I did."

He choked on his own sobs, and found himself barely able to speak any further. But somehow, he found the energy and courage to keep going.

"I kept feeling this same feeling. Like I lost everything. Like nothing was left except for that  thing , that left a gaping hole in here..." Yoongi pointed to his chest. "It's going to keep feeling that way. Sometimes I wonder why that person had to die. Why them first?! Why are they causing me pain, the asshole?!? But it doesn't make the hole go away. I just..."

Yoongi couldn't take it anymore, and started bawling into Taehyung's already wet shirt.

"It's... terrible..."

There was a careful silence that followed, as Taehyung listened to his crying.

"Yoongi-hyung... have I told you how much you mean to me?"

"No."

"I don't know what I'd do without you."

"...okay."

"Hyung," Taehyung sobbed, "I really mean it..."

"Stop it, Tae, it's... it's painful." Yoongi tried to smile, and only managed half of a genuine one. "You don't even know. It... my... right here. It hurts."

'It doesn't want you to cry. '  Yoongi thought to himself.  'Please don't cry...'

"I can't take it. I can't believe you have to go through this bullshit, you don't deserve it. You're... you're my..." Yoongi gulped, leaving that sentence unfinished. "I just want to see you happy."

Despite everything, Taehyung smiled.

"...hyung, I'm really glad I have you. Really."

They clinged onto each other, clinged onto each other's warmth.

The warmth was innocuous, filling the both of them with an incredible brew of happiness. The pull was irresistible; it drew the both of them into each other, the feeling eating away at their edges, begging to dissolve their own hesitation.

Then, in a heartbeat, Yoongi kissed him.

It was for a fleeting second until Yoongi panicked and pulled away, the softness of their lips still lingering. But Taehyung simply smiled, and leaned in for another one. Yoongi couldn’t help himself, and kissed him again.

Their hands were tangled in each other's hair; they kissed so deeply, so sweetly, that they forgot to breathe. And that was enough.

From the flickering flame, two small birds emerged, small and frail, yet brave enough to sweep their broken pieces together. They traced the path of the faded brands on their backs, swearing an oath to rise out of their ruined ashes, and then combust together.

And so they did, wiping the slate clean.

Chapter Text

Saturday mornings were usually the best mornings to laze in bed and sleep in. Usually. For the football team, it was the morning of their lives. It was the first time they had ever gotten a chance to enter the semifinals, and the bleachers were open for the public to see. Of course, it being a Saturday morning meant that no random member of the public would bother coming, besides close family and friends.

That made for a rowdy crowd in the SOTA football field, fueling the football boys’ adrenaline. Home ground advantage excited them, but made them uncharacteristically quiet as well. In their minds, there was a whole range of emotions, their goals intertwined: this was a chance for them to prove themselves - that a bunch of "art sissies" could make it - and stop having them compare Basketball’s finals record to their team.

They were already in the top eight. Nothing was stopping them from getting even further. Especially with the powerhouse they had in their team this year, their beacon of hope...

In particular, a certain golden child named Jungkook.

 

~~~~

 

"Guys, let’s have lunch later, after the match," suggested a teammate, while they were on water break.

"Lunch? Sure!" The boys, already riled up and enthusiastic, had their attitudes shine through even here.

"Me too! Ah, anyone wants to study with me after lunch?"

"Study? Eugh. Who has the mood to study after this ?"

"Got no choice, my friend. My test is next week."

"Same here…"

There were a couple of sighs, dampening the mood immediately.

"Seriously, and Basketball gets to have theirs after exams? This isn’t fair."

"Shut up, you guys, let’s just do our best today. Let’s win." Jungkook hadn’t said much since the start of warm up, but his one sentence had their teammates invigorated.

"Putting up our best show, huh?" said one of them, with a fairly wide smile. "Yeah, let’s do this. My girlfriend is watching too."

"Hey hey," cut in another, a little bit oblivious. "What do you mean, ‘too’?"

"Dumbass, I’m talking about his boyfriend."

True to his word, Jungkook looked towards the bleachers with a soft smile, cheeks glowing.

Jimin spotted him scouring the crowd and immediately began to cheer, pumping his fists in the air, scaring the people watching behind him.

"Jeon Jungkook! Fighting!" he yelled, plastering a wide grin on the younger boy’s face.

"You’re an idiot," said Bambam, who was sitting on his left. "Go, Jungkook!"

"Aren’t you doing the exact same thing?" laughed Seungwon, who sat on Jimin’s right.

They settled back down, once the team began their drills again. He couldn’t be more proud of Jungkook, with his body glistening with sweat and determination.

Yet, he couldn't stop getting distracted.

He couldn’t stop his train of thoughts from winding back to Taehyung, minutes, seconds later. Even knowing he was well enough to be resting at home now wasn't particularly comforting. From what he knew about its effects, Taehyung was likely to be burying himself into his bed, wrenching into his pain, wrestling it out of his depression but failing, all alone.

Jimin shifted his sitting position every minute or so, feeling troubled even while pushing it out of his head, as if there was some sort of empathic link between them.

"Thinking about Tae?" asked Seungwon, eyebrows scrunched with concern for her friend.

Jimin managed a weak smile. "Yeah… can’t help but feel worried."

Bambam sighed. "Still, focus on your boyfriend’s match," he said, sounding vaguely annoyed, though Jimin knew the tough love was out of his own concern.

"Well, now that you’re here, might as well," said Seungwon. "Jungkook needs attention too."

"I know, and I feel bad," he groaned, running both hands through his hair.

Unable to clear his fizzled-up mind, he quickly picked up his phone and typed up a text.

"I hope he’s okay," said Bambam, while Seungwon peered over his shoulder.

 

You
helloo you alright? :'( wyd now?

 

Seungwon quickly lost interest and started staring silently at the players’ physical attractiveness. She pointed several out to Jimin, asking for his opinion, and the hopelessly homosexual guy got himself distracted too.

"That hoobae there, number seven, he is so hot," she whispered. "He’s probably the hottest ."

"Don’t think so. There’s hotter people."

"Who?"

"That kid. The number five."

"Ah…" Seungwon searched for the guy with a ‘05’ on his shirt. "Oh, fuck you, that’s Jungkook."

Jimin wanted to speak, but choked with laughter halfway through. "Is he not the hottest, though?"

"You trying to find a reason to beat me up? He’s already off-limits."

"Exactly."

"And it’s thanks to you?!"

Bambam attempted to maintain normal breathing, failing with each wheeze.

Taehyung’s reply only came a few minutes later.

 

TAEHYUNGIEE
hey jimin, i'm okay hahaha
right now i'm just chilling at home with yoongi... eating a tub of meiji icecream

You
in the MORNING??
THOUGH
I COULD GO FOR SOME ICECREAM RIGHT NOW

TAEHYUNGIEE
it's red bean and it feels kind of healthy but tbh it isn't

You
HAHAHA
ah so yoongis with you?

TAEHYUNGIEE
yeap
we
uh

 

TAEHYUNGIEE is typing...

 

Jimin put a hand to his open mouth. A logical progression clicked in his mind: if Yoongi was still there with him, that meant that he had stayed overnight, right? And if he had stayed overnight, that meant…

 

You
dONT TELL ME YOU GUYS
DID THE DO

TAEHYUNGIEE
NOO omfg jimin,
anyways, i'm fine right now

 

Something still felt off.

 

You
really? seriously what happened
it sounds like something happened

TAEHYUNGIEE
no, it's nothing much

 

Something definitely felt off.

 

You
that's not very convincing, tae…
i need to know if anything is bothering you.

 

TAEHYUNGIEE is typing...

 

He typed for a good half a minute or so, causing Jimin to lose interest in his phone and look back at the field. The match was properly starting soon. He saw Jungkook stare up, his eyes focused on the bleachers, at him. They made eye contact, and when they did Jungkook’s eyelids fluttered, and he turned his face away.

Jimin couldn’t help but chuckle to himself.

When he looked back at his screen, the pop up message had disappeared.

He gritted his teeth. Knowing Taehyung, that boy probably typed out an entire paragraph before deleting it all. It made him want to tear his hair out.

 

TAEHYUNGIEE
yknow, something really strange happened
i'm getting it checked, but it's not a bad thing. it's a surprise tbh

 

Jimin was not expecting this turn of events.

 

You
so what is it??

TAEHYUNGIEE
ehhh... i think it'll be better if we tell you in person. after suneung, okay?

 

He noted the way he used 'we' in that message. A part of him wanted to dig deeper, which he knew Seungwon would definitely do. Then again, he wasn't Seungwon.

 

You
okay thenn... :( see you in school!

TAEHYUNGIEE
see you, ily thanks so much <3

You
ily2 <3 take care of yourself okay?

TAEHYUNGIEE
I will!

 

Jimin sighed, closing his eyes in relief. By the time he looked up, the match had already started a while ago. The score read one to null, against their favour. Their goalkeeper had leapt up an impressive height to stop the ball, showcasing his readiness and skill, but only managed to stall it for a bit before it slipped past his hands.

His eyes were now narrowed, adamant in besting this opponent striker. He had to admit, that guy's skill belonged to a champion league.

But their team could stand up to it.

Jungkook quickly took the spotlight, meeting his counterpart head on, retaliating with nothing less of that same force.

They gained a point, gaining their momentum back.

Jimin nearly fell over. The cheering was a deafening sound that rumbled in his bones, and nearly killed his ears. Then, he began cheering too, making it a point to scream louder than the two beside him.

"That’s my guy!" he added, to which only the two friends beside him could hear. They looked at each other and cracked up.

 

~~~~

 

When the match had ended, Jungkook was still adjusting his thoughts, his mind still in a wandering daze, half-out of his game focus.

‘Did we win?’

He looked toward the board, while the bleaches shook with fervent cries.

"Six three, in our favour?" yelled Seungwon in shock. "That’s like double?!"

"Jungkook is awesome!" Bambam exclaimed on impulse, pushed by the euphoria of their victory. "He’s the best!"

Of course, this was something Jimin already knew. He didn’t need reminders to start screaming his support, alongside the rest of the crowd.

The team bunched together and squeezed themselves against each other, basking in their glory. Jungkook clearly hadn’t registered this was something he was a part of, and stood at the side awkwardly, until a couple of teammates gestured towards him, pushing him into the chaos.

Jimin saw the brimming glee in his smile as he hugged his team, as he high-fived his opponents, just waiting to break out into a grin. It made him smile too.

That boy finally found some companionship in his year.

The news sank in, like a semi-sweet chocolate bar. It was like his entire heart was made out of that stuff, melting into his body with all the sweetness and bitterness it could hold.

 

~~~~

 

It was another school day. Taehyung was back in school, but unfortunately for him, Seungwon had somehow caught wind of the whole X High School debacle, and was currently undergoing a secret investigation. That meant keeping Taehyung and Yoongi in school for ‘lunch together’ wasn’t just a celebration of his recovery.

Even worse was how Hoseok had somehow gotten on her side, and was probably keeping them on a roasting stick as well.

‘Poor guy,’ thought Jungkook, as he trudged along the path, from the cafe near Jimin’s house. Obviously, he had been on a date with Jimin, but it felt off. Recently, everything felt off. Every time he looked at him, he couldn’t help but notice the look in his eyes.

It seemed like they were focused on something way ahead of them, on something that wasn’t even there. At least not in reality.

Jungkook’s eyes glinted in the fading sunlight, as he slid his hand into his, locking fingers. And as Jimin turned towards him to ask, Jungkook shifted his entire body onto his hyung, leaning close enough to kiss him softly on the lips.

It was such an in-your-face gesture, but it wasn’t unpleasant at all. His kiss was gentle, but it left a tingling sensation lingering in its place. It left him standing there dumbly.

"Hehe," Jungkook giggled cutely, "Don’t just stand there. We’re walking home."

"You- seriously, this damn kid…" Jimin muttered, starting to walk again but at a quicker pace.

"Did you not like it?" added Jungkook cheekily, keeping up.

"Do you think I like being trampled on by someone younger than me?!"

Looking at his expression, Jungkook felt like he kind of did. The unrepentant look on his face must have had an additional impact on Jimin, noticing that his chubby cheeks and ears were burning red in an instant.

"You still love me, right?" asked Jungkook, pouting.

Jimin looked at him, seeming unimpressed, his face still red. "You think?"

It definitely didn’t seem like he stopped loving him. But Jungkook still needed to check.

"Because I love you," he said, his voice so cloyingly sweet even he cringed at himself.

"You and your sweet-talking mouth," said Jimin, sounding scornful but in his joking way. "And your sweet lips."

Jungkook puckered them, earning himself a light slap in the cheek. And as Jungkook continued to smile, unabashedly, Jimin pinched his cheek, in an attempt to pull that stupid grin off. It didn’t work, though.

Jimin’s scowl shifted into an endearing smile, as he pulled him in and kissed him.

This time, it was Jungkook who nearly stumbled over with fright. They stood on rocky pathway, legs unsteady, Jimin’s arms wrapped around Jungkook’s waist, kissing and sucking.

Jungkook almost forgot to breathe. He could feel his warmth. His soft, squishy flesh, his warm grooved fingers, his warmth, his everything .

When Jimin pulled away, he made a cheeky face before turning around, hand grasping onto Jungkook’s arm, dragging him along the path. Said lovesick boy tumbled forward a bit before regaining his balance a few paces later.

His face twisted into a lopsided smile. Somebody help him, he had fallen so deeply in love with his hyung.

It reminded him of something burning at the back of his head, an uncertainty that completely marred the bliss that came with Jimin’s presence. He heaved a huge sigh.

‘Should I?’

There wasn’t any point keeping it silent anymore. It hurt more than it helped to keep it there, souring his mood whenever he admired his boyfriend.

"Jimin-hyung…" Jungkook decided to take the plunge. "Can I ask something honestly?"

There was a moment of hesitation before his gaze flicked back to him. "What is it?"

"Do you not want to talk about our soulbrands? Like ever?"

Jimin hugged his own arm with the other, rubbing his elbow. Jungkook could recognise the nervous tic in an instant.

"I know you’re uncomfortable but, aren’t you curious to know?" he pressed on. "And you’re not even giving me a chance."

"Why do you want to know so badly?" Jimin murmured. "Will you leave me if I’m not your soulmate?"

"Huh- Hyung. I would never." Jungkook held onto the tense, scrunched up arm, snuggling into it. "I’m scared of that too. I’m actually scared you’ll do that to me."

Jimin didn’t ease the tension in his muscles. If anything, they tensed up. Jungkook looked at his face, which was still half-turned away, emanating a peculiar aura.

"Hyung? I-"

"I’m." Jimin interrupted, and the younger guy quickly stopped his tongue. "I’ve been in a really shitty mood, is all."

"That’s all?"

Jimin shuffled, nodded and smiled with all his energy. Fortunately or not, Jungkook could see right through it. Jimin’s real smiles were effortless.

"I just want to know why you’re so sad," he said, softly. "I want to help you!"

Nothing, but silence.

"It’s not school, is it?" he prompted. "Your family?"

He had clearly taken Namjoon’s advice into consideration.

"Family, huh…" went Jimin, his words trailing off.

Jungkook felt like he had caught a lead. "Family, right? Is it that your parents don’t like me? You can tell me!"

"No, it’s not that," was the sighed reply. "They like you a lot, actually."

There was something strange with his tone.

"It’s not about them approving of me, is it?" he persisted, and then he reached an epiphany. "It’s about them approving of you."

There was a blank gaze, and a silence that lasted for a good five seconds. That meant there had to be some merit in what he had said.

"Don’t say stuff like that," he finally replied, still not budging. "That doesn’t even make sense."

"But there has to be a reason why you’re so sad!"

"I already told you! I’ve just been in a terrible mood, is that so freaking bad?"

Jungkook sucked in a sharp breath.

Jimin hadn’t raised his voice. Neither did his words sound threatening. But it was the voice which he spoke, and the silent glare in his eyes that rang alarm bells.

Jungkook had never seen him angry before, but he knew something was wrong, and shrunk into himself like a frightened gerbil. The silence lasted for too long, made his joints lock into place, his thoughts bursting out of his head.

"I’m sorry," he burbled finally, looking down at the ground, curling into his own frame.

A gulp came from the bottom of Jimin’s throat. The silence was uncomfortable, until he laughed, suddenly, quietly.

"Why are you apologising, idiot… it’s just one of my temper tantrums. I’m such a kid."

"No, you’re not..."

"I really am." Jimin reached out a hand to ruffle Jungkook’s short, soft tufts of hair. "It’s about me, okay? Not about you. It’s not something for you to worry about, I just need to… get my own shit sorted out first."

"Is…" Jungkook licked his lips. "Is there anything you need?"

He wasn’t sure if it came out right. He wanted to tell him that he was there for him, that he would willingly spend any effort just to make him happy again. But it was just so hard to say, to express just how deeply he wished it.

Jimin shook his head, smiling derisively at the ground. It was at himself, but Jungkook was clouded with doubt. Then, the boy patted his shoulder, easing the tense emotions.

"You know I don’t ever want to bother you with this stuff? It’s stupid, anyways. And I’m, honestly, really sorry I got all pissy. I… I don’t know how long it will take, but... " A pause. "You have to trust me, okay?"

The younger boy gave him a curt nod. "Okay."

"Then I’ll be going now. Gotta go home." Jimin waved, as he started to walk a separate path. Suddenly he stopped and turned towards the other boy, who instinctively stopped as well.

"Kookie," he said, sucking his lip, as his next sentence came out like a cry. "I love you. So much."

Hearing this, Jungkook's throat went numb. With his next few words, his feelings flowed out from his heart.

"I love you more."

And with that, Jimin’s smile was brighter than the setting sun. It was golden with warmth, and the oranges and reds made it all the more beautiful, yet all the more painful to watch.

The sun was going to leave, and so was Jimin, who whispered a goodbye and walked away.

Jungkook just stood there. A part of him didn’t even want to go home, just to stand there, basking in Jimin’s afterimage, reliving that sight again, and again, and again.

 

~~~~

 

Jungkook did eventually reach home, though, carrying his heavy shoulders through the door.

"Appa, eomma. I’m back."

"Hello, Kookie-ah!"

He walked towards his room, meeting his older brother on the way there.

"Hi hyung."

Sensing something off, his brother quickly reacted.

"Hey, Jungkook-ah, need anything? You look really dead."

The younger brother looked up with a blank look, before looking back down. "Nothing much, I’m just tired. Like... really, really exhausted."

"Exhausted after a long day of… going on an amazing date?" He cheekily nudged him.

Jungkook smiled a little at the irony, but didn’t dare look up at all, fearing his brother would see right through him. "Yeah, I guess."

He clearly took the lack of eye contact as a sign of shyness, as he merely laughed and patted his back.

"Wow, I can’t believe my dongsaeng is all grown up, boyfriend and all! Jungkook-ah, you’re really amazing, you know that?"

That actually did make him feel a little better, so he managed a real smile. "Thanks, hyung."

He closed the door behind him, and the weight tipped over.

It wasn’t hard to guess how he was feeling. He felt stupid. He felt helpless. And worst of all, he felt utterly useless. It had been a long time since he felt that way, for anything, for anyone. He even felt some sort of amazement at himself, amazed that these feelings existed.

His eyes were wet. He couldn’t scream or sob - his family would hear him. He could sniffle though, since his rhinitis gave him some cover.

So he sat in bed, sniffling, as he cried, and cried, and cried.

Chapter Text

Jimin felt like he was drifting through limbo in a bubble, his emotions floaty and somewhere too far for him to reach. Complete blankness had taken over, and he was only half-aware of it. He tapped on his desk with four fingers, one at the time, somehow finding it more interesting than everything else that was happening in his life.

He knew he had fucked up. It should’ve been fine - he knew people messed up all the time, but there was always time to make up for it. The worst part was that now, he was at a complete loss at what to do.

‘Maybe it’s better if we break up…’

That thought depressed him to the point of no words. He lay flat on his desk the entire day, spinning a pen around and scribbling random shit into his notebook.

"Jimin…" came Taehyung’s voice. "You haven’t been with Jungkookie at all the past few days."

Jimin collapsed with lethargy, dropping his pen onto the floor. "Yes, and it’s my fucking fault."

"Ai…" went a Hoseok passing by, helping him pick up the pen, and then using it to whack his head. "What’s up with you? Relationship problems?"

Jimin let out a low, prolonged zombie moaning sound, not flinching, not even looking either of them in the eye.

"Wow, I’ve never seen Jimin so dead before." Hoseok was concerned "This is scary."

"Taehyungie?" called out a deep, deadpan voice. "You called?"

"Hyung," Taehyung responded, his eyes shining upon seeing him. "Can you tell Jimin’s really out of it? He’s been like this since yesterday."

"He’s not even responding to me," said Hoseok, whacking him again.

"Complete apathy to his surroundings? I’ve experienced it before. Probably some intense stress is causing him to dissociate pretty badly." He went a little closer, sniffing the air in front of the boy. "You’re lucky he hasn’t started stress drinking."

A rumbling sound came from outside, alerting his senses before the door crashed open, revealing a very resolute girl, standing with her legs apart and her fists balled next to her hip, storming over their way, completely frightening, despite being shorter than all the boys.

Yoongi was the first to come to his senses. "Ah, Seungwon-"

"Park Jimin, you better explain yourself before I beat you up!"

Jimin groaned. "You too?"

"Ah, he’s finally saying something!" Hoseok exclaimed.

"Woah, calm down a bit." Yoongi patted her gently on the back. "What’s gotten you so riled up?"

"Let me tell you. Yesterday we were having our Dance club session, right? Jungkook was like a fucking zombie. And you know me, being the amazing noona I am, went up to him, asked if he wanted to talk about anything. So I even sat him down in a McDonalds, and you know what he did? He just burst into tears. He didn’t say a fucking word, and I spent the rest of that evening trying to calm him down. The staff even gave him free ice cream. So you better give me a great fucking explanation!"

Jimin banged his head on the table and let out a terrifying screech. It sounded like a mutant pterodactyl had invaded the school premises.

"To be perfectly honest," he croaked, "I feel like killing myself right now. Maybe then I’ll feel better."

"And how do you think Jungkook feels?"

"Because now everyone loves Jungkook, right? Fuck you. Let me rot in fucking peace, thank you very much."

"Don’t make him feel worse than he already does," Taehyung whispered to her, pushing her gently aside.

"Sorry," Seungwon mumbled, to which Jimin acknowledged with a shrug.

"Jimin-ah, you can tell hyung anything," said Yoongi kindly, resting a hand on his wrist. "How are you feeling? Do you know why?"

"I don’t even know how it started. I thought everything was fine, and then it got worse and worse. Then he keeps asking to see my soulbrand… I think he really is my soulmate and that’s fucking insane."

"There there…" Hoseok patted his head softly, while Yoongi rubbed his back.

"You’re… scared that he’s your soulmate? Why? Don’t you love him?"

"Sounds so fucking dumb, doesn’t it." Jimin fell silent, and then let out a weak groan.

"You’re scared that you’ll let down your mum," said Taehyung, softly, slowly fitting the pieces together. "In the first place, you’re scared that he’ll leave you if he’s not your soulmate. Now you’re scared that being Kookie’s soulmate means you might have to give her up for him."

Taehyung deserved the title of Number One Ultimate Best Friend Supreme.

"I love him so much but I’m too much of a fucking coward. What a failure."

"You’re not. It’s okay to feel like this, it’s normal," said Yoongi in a low voice, which happened to pacify Jimin’s tense nerves. "You’re under a lot of stress, you’re a young adult, these things happen. And it’s your first time dating. It’s not easy."

"Jimin," Seungwon spluttered, her face still ridden with guilt. "I know it’s hard, and that you love him very much. That’s why I don’t want you to lose him."

"It’s okay. I know you’re angry because you care. I still love you." Jimin smiled genuinely. "You kind of remind me of my eomma."

"Love you too. You can have my yoghurt. You keep stealing from me anyway."

Jimin giggled, much to the relief of his friends. "Thanks, Seungwonnie."

Taehyung put a hand on his back, as Seungwon leaped out of the classroom to get her bag. "Okay, but, you’re going to have to talk to her eventually. Like properly."

"Yeah, I know..."

 

~~~~

 

"Woo, finally!" said Jimin, sighing loudly once he stepped out of the changing rooms, his dance mates following behind him. "Where are we going to eat today?"

"Hold on a minute." Bambam tugged him back and frowned at him. "You have the gall to come hang out with us when you’ve got relationship problems you need to solve?!"

"My- what?! Even you know about it?"

"Of course! Who do you take me as? You are no longer welcome to Contemp Boy Dinners until you get your shit sorted out with your boy!"

"Right," Jimin murmured. "But I wanted to talk about him today…"

"And what’s there to talk about?" Bambam snorted. "It’s simple, you talk to him, you apologise for your sorry ass and get him back."

To his left and right, Yugyeom and Jaebum nodded their heads in urging, giving them more looks of encouragement than anger.

"Okay, fine," Jimin gasped a reply, but by then he had already been long abandoned by his dance mates - or more like, abandoned by Bambam, who had forcefully dragged the other two away with him.

Then, his phone buzzed. He checked it, and it turned out to be a notification from his messenger.

 

Succwon added you to Operation: Get Yourself Together.

 

Jimin just sighed.

 

~~~~

 

Jimin fiddled with his phone on the sofa, cleaning dust off the screen almost obsessively. Then he heard a rustling of fabric, the dragging of feet across the floor, and looked up to lock eyes with his mother.

No more backing out of this. This was for him.

"Eomma," he said, hesitating a little. "You know the, um. About Jungkook."

"Ah, right," she replied without blinking. "So? You’re soulmates?"

"No, I don’t know yet… but um, is it really okay?"

"Of course it’s okay. If you love him then that’s that, right?"

This was too strange. After living with her his whole life, growing up dealing her habits and mannerisms throughout his adolescence, he knew it wasn’t like her to be so lenient. At the very least, an uncomfortable investigation was needed. But this…

"But… but I thought you didn’t want me to. I thought you wanted grandchildren."

Instantly, her face crumbled. Jimin had already braced for impact, until he realised that she had a completely foreign expression on her face. It was one of raw, unraveled agony.

"Jimin-ah, will you ever forgive your eomma?" she blurted. Her voice had even cracked a little.

Jimin’s mind wasn’t calibrated to react to something so out of left-field.

"Huh, eomma, what are you-"

"I’m…" she interrupted him, and he quickly shut up. "I don’t know how to make it up to you."

"Eomma, please..." he asked softly, his hands unsure of where to go.

Immediately, she burst into tears.

"I never meant to say you couldn’t… I never wanted to… Your appa is right, I’m just too scary. I’m so selfish…"

Jimin was floored, stuck in his spot for a good few seconds. There was only one other time he had seen his mother cry, and that was during his grandpa’s funeral.

"Please explain what’s happening…" pleaded a poor confused soul.

She forcefully swept the stray tears off her face, looking her son in the eyes. "There’s so much… I don’t even know where to start, but. Jimin-ah, you’re an adult now. I need to be honest."

Jimin nodded firmly, but it seemed to comfort his mother more. It looked as if she had mentally prepared for this on her own, too, and looked on with indomitable will.

"I never told you. You know, at your age, I realised I… liked girls. More than boys even."

Jimin legitimately gasped. "You’re gay?"

Many variations of ‘what the fuck’ ran through his head.

This entire time? Thinking back, she had been surprisingly calm when Jimin had came out to her. He took it as passive aggression, but perhaps it hadn’t been at all?

He even remembered her trying to awkwardly phrase her way through the situation. Jimin’s mother was never good with words, but… could that have been a reason for her nonsensical awkwardness?

His mother smiled, as if mocking herself. "Your grandpa hated it. He would beat me, say that I couldn’t marry a girl, what would happen to my children…"

"How could he beat you for that?!"

"Hah, I don’t know. I think I’m still scared even today. Maybe you’ll understand? I couldn’t imagine myself with a tough, macho man. I thought no man would ever make me happy, until…" She seemed embarrassed. "Until I found your appa."

Jimin let out a 'hmph'. "He’s awesome."

"You know that he is quite… woman-like. He’s always been kind and gentle, that’s his nature, and your grandpa didn’t like it very much. But your appa was a man, so he didn’t bother me anymore. I thought that maybe, he was finally okay with me for who I am."

"And… he wasn’t?"

His mother’s lower lip trembled.

"You know, when he was getting weak. Wasn't going to live for much longer. You know what he said to me in the hospital that day? He said I was good for not liking girls anymore. He was glad your appa was there to put me in my place…" She broke down again, leaning into Jimin’s arms for support. "He never accepted me at all… it felt terrible..."

"If he knew that I gave birth to another… gay… he’d... " his mother shuddered. "I hate it. He’s always there in my head and I’m just like him, right? I’ve always wanted grandchildren and I never wanted to do the same things to you, but I did . I’m a failure…"

"Don’t say that, you’re an amazing eomma." Jimin patted on her back, hugging her. "I never knew you felt this way… you always looked like you hated me for… you know."

"I’m sorry, I should’ve listened to your appa, I didn’t know…I thought..."

"It’s okay. And I promise I’ll get children! Lots of them. They might not be mine, but I’ll take care of them well, okay? And you can pamper them."

"No, no, do what makes you happy…"

It hit Jimin that he was the one comforting his mother, not the other way around - and it was utterly bizarre. All that pent-up anxiety had been released, and he felt better, too.

It was relief. What more could he want?

"I love you so much, eomma. You know I love you the most."

 

~~~~

 

"Jungkookie, are you sure you’re fine?"

"I’ll get by," answered said boy, sniffling. The rustling of tissues audible on the other end alerted his friend - it was no other than Yugyeom, whom he had somehow gotten closer to in the past few months.

"Kook, if you haven’t finished crying yet, just continue," he said. "A couple more minutes isn’t much to me."

True, but after spending half an hour sobbing to him about his troubles over the phone, he felt that he shouldn’t infringe on Yugyeom’s personal time for any longer.

"Hey, I’m really okay. I’ll call you again when I feel better."

"Oh, if you need a good cry, I get it. Don’t worry, if you want to tell me anything, I’m here for you."

"Yeah…" Jungkook paused to bite his lip. "Um, thanks, though. For being there. For me."

"Hey, no problem. I’ll call you later?"

"Yeah, okay. Bye…"

The call ended, and Jungkook couldn’t help but let out a stagnant breath. He was lucky to have met another nice person he could trust, but it meant another friend he’d miss when he graduates next year. That was the intimidating reality of expanding social circles. Frightening, but it was like a layer of bubble wrap, supporting him and comforting him.

He was really getting the hang of this ‘friend’ thing.

And to think that it all started with asking Yugyeom about that whole ‘Jimin’s ex-crush’ thing.

‘Jimin…’ Just the name made his heart twist into multiple knots.

‘No. I just have to be more patient.’

He knew Jimin loved him. His source of grief wasn’t his boyfriend, but rather himself. Jimin did hold a part of the blame, and this was something he needed to come to terms with. It would take time, Seungwon had told him, but he had to wait.

He didn’t think much of his phone buzzing. He thought maybe it was a game notification, until he saw the messenger app icon, as well as the sender’s name.

It was him. Park Jimin. He hesitated before opening the message, and then he read it. But for some reason, after seeing the words in sequence, over and over again, he couldn’t register what he had actually read.

He even had to read it aloud.

"Hello, Jungkook-ah, I’m really sorry. I’m not sure if you’ll forgive me, but I really need to tell you a lot of things, and it would be better if we meet in person, right?"

Before he even had the chance to think it through, he received a barrage of four notifications, at almost the exact same time. Checking them, he realised that they were from his friends.

He opened Seungwon’s first.

 

Kim Seungwon
ACCEPT JIMIN’S REQUEST OR IMMA WHOOP YOUR ASS

 

Jungkook smiled and laughed a little, before opening the next one.

 

Kim Taehyung
ACCEPT JIMIN’S REQUEST OR IMMA WHOOP YOUR ASS

 

Jungkook’s expression froze.

He checked the other messages as well.

 

Jung Hoseok
ACCEPT JIMIN’S REQUEST OR IMMA WHOOP YOUR ASS

 

Bambam
ACCEPT JIMIN’S REQUEST OR IMMA WHOOP YOUR ASS

 

Jungkook couldn’t help but sweat a little. Obviously, they were all in this together. He appreciated it, but regardless of their interference, he would have agreed anyway. This concerted effort only served to stun him for around five seconds or so.

That was an extra five seconds for Jimin to panic over.

He was about to finally type a reply, when he received a bunch of consecutive dings from the messenger.

 

Min Yoongi
ACCEPT JIMIN’S REQUEST OR IMMA WHOOP YOUR ASS
that was n o t from me
taehyung took my phone
sorry
just like, do it ok
pls

 

Jungkook was left truly speechless.

 

~~~~

 

The past few days of constant anxiety pangs should’ve numbed his senses, but it didn’t make it any easier for him to march up to Jungkook’s front door and bravely face his fears. Closing his eyes, taking in a deep breath, he scraped all the last bits of his courage together, and then gingerly lifted a finger and pressing the doorbell, which rung a cute little tune for a few seconds.

Someone opened the door - but it was not Jungkook. He was an unfamiliar face, yet there was something in his features that felt familiar. "Can I help you?" asked this man, face expressionless.

"Hello, is Jungkook home?" he asked politely, with a bright amiable smile.

"You’re- ah!" The stranger smiled, and Jimin instinctively knew he was at the right place. In his handsome grin he saw Jungkook.

Brother? Father?

"You must be Jimin. The description fits you perfectly."

Jimin blinked at his response. "Description?"

"Yes, oh god, sometimes Jungkook talks way too much about you." He looked as if he was annoyed, but his smile gave his excitement away. " ‘Super cute face, brightest smile in the country’ … he says all that sappy stuff. Frankly it’s embarrassing."

Even hearing those words indirectly made his heart pump like crazy. Yet it also made him shiver with guilt.

"Oh, and sometimes he does drawings of you. They’re pretty accurate, I must say."

"Yeah…" Jimin remembered the drawing he was gifted from his confession. Such memories were so distant, yet they warmed his heart the most. Especially now. The sensation made him flush with pride.

"Anyway, hi, I’m Jungkook’s hyung. And yeah, he’s here. You came to see him, right? No wonder he looked so nervous earlier."

Judging by his cheerful demeanour, Jimin guessed that his brother must have been kept in the dark about their not-so-minor complication.

"Kookie!" he yelled into the house. "He’s here!"

Jimin heard a thump, and then a loud crash of papers and what seemed to be random plastic junk.

"Coming, hyung," came the all-too-familiar voice, ringing in Jimin’s head like a windchime.

He held his breath as he watched him appear from behind a wall, and in his cute home clothes as well: a white shirt that was slightly too big for him, and shorts that only went halfway down his thighs.

Jimin couldn’t help but break into a smile. "Hello."

Jungkook lightly smiled as well. "Hey-"

"I’ll be in my room if you need me," his brother interrupted, waving his arm in a dramatic fashion as he walked away.

Both boys swallowed mouthfuls of air before the younger one finally spoke. "You wanted to tell me something?"

Jimin nodded with a sad smile.

"Um… if it’s too weird to talk here… we can come to my room."

"Sure," was the relieved reply, "I haven’t seen your room before."

So Jungkook nudged his head towards the corridor, and led his hyung inside. As he shut the door, a thought suddenly occurred to him - didn’t this look a little shady? Inviting his boyfriend into his room like this, and shutting the door...

While he contemplated this, Jimin was peering at every corner of his room like an excited little elf.

"Hey, your room is so clean!" he gushed. "You organise all your stuff so neatly. How come you always turn my room into a mess?"

"I get lazy when I’m not the one cleaning," Jungkook replied, with a smirking smile.

"You- seriously, this boy…"

Right now, they were acting like nothing had happened. It was just small talk, which was a piece of cake for Jimin. But he was here for something else.

"Jungkookie…" he started, sitting himself on his bed - which did not help ease Jungkook’s warning alarms at all. "Are you angry at me?"

Jungkook shook his head, sitting himself on the opposite side of the bed, despite himself. "I’ve only been angry at myself."

"Really? Why? You were getting so distant that I thought you just wanted to be left alone. And… I know. I’ve been a huge downer lately. And I’m sorry. And I know you’ve been avoiding me for quite a while."

"Yeah…" Jungkook looked away from his intense gaze, arms crossed as if he was hugging himself. "Well, you’ve been avoiding something too. Specifically, our soulbrands."

Jimin’s gulp was especially loud in the quiet room. Jungkook decided to pull the big guns.

"I told you what my soulbrand was. You remember it?"

A nod. "A butterfly. A baby blue butterfly…"

"And your favourite colour is baby blue."

"Well…"

"And a butterfly marking means that my soulmate is either really talented or has a really amazing personality. You fulfil both of them."

Jimin tried not to look flustered.

"And the fact that you refuse to tell me what your soulbrand is… It’s a butterfly too, right?"

Jimin chuckled weakly. "I m-mean, just because we have the same soulbrand doesn't mean that-"

"You didn’t want to lead me on in case it was just false hope."

"Yeah. Wait no, it’s not just that. Argh, I’ll tell you the truth!"

Jimin cleared his throat as if he was about to start speech. He came here for a reason, and he had clearly prepared for it. "My mum was being weird, and I was scared, okay? I thought she was against it because, I thought she didn’t want me to be gay, and then it turns out I misunderstood because I’m fucking dumb.

"And because I was so scared of that, and also scared of losing you, I didn’t want to continue our relationship, but I also didn’t want to end it. I’m such a coward, and I admit it, and I feel like shit that you feel like shit."

"Don’t!" Jungkook exclaimed. "I felt like shit because I didn’t know! I thought it was my fault. That’s just me being a dumbass about my self-esteem."

"But it was my fault for making you feel shit. I should’ve just told you what was going on."

"But it would’ve been fine if I just understood- "

"Kookie, wait, let’s… let’s not do a blame game."

Jungkook nodded affirmatively. "Let’s not."

"We fucked up and now we need to get our shit sorted." Jimin stared into his eyes, searching for any hidden emotion. "I’m sorry, Jungkookie."

The younger boy looked away, took a deep breath and faced him. "I’m sorry too."

Jimin smiled, putting a hand on his, squeezing tight. By contrast, Jungkook still looked a little unsettled.

"Does this mean I get to see your soulbrand?" he asked.

Jimin’s smile faded. "But what if we aren’t soulmates?"

"There’s only one way to find out."

There was only silence.

"Hyung, why are you so afraid?"

"I... I…" he stuttered. "Am I really worthy of this? After doing all this to you?"

"Of course, hyung." Jungkook gave him a comforting smile. "You're such a good person. And you're so kind and friendly and warm and I... feel so at home with you. You're an amazing hyung. You're... amazing... and I love you."

Jimin fidgeted in place. "...fine. Let’s just get it over with."

He turned around, trusting with all his heart.

Anyone could have smelled his nervousness from a mile away, especially for someone like his boyfriend.

"It’ll be okay, I swear."

Sucking in a deep breath, Jungkook lifted his shirt to reveal a large, beautiful red butterfly. It caught him by the tongue.

"It’s… beautiful," he said dumbly. If he had to put his true feelings in words there would be over a million of them.

One hand held the fabric up. The other hand trembled as he lifted a few fingers, pressing against his back gently.

Jimin couldn’t have seen it, but he felt it immediately. It burned, but like a hot water bottle. It felt like the heat of a blushing face.

It felt so good.

Jungkook watched the markings grow luminescent under his fingers, and he just laughed. It wasn’t really amusement, but relief, like a victory cry.

"I told you," he said in triumph, beaming with pride. "I’ve always been yours. I’ll always be."

Jimin couldn’t speak - didn’t know what to say. He bit on his lip, his eyes cringing before they finally let out tears.

"Ah, Jimin-hyung, please don’t-"

"I’m sorry," he gasped, his voice sounding like it was stuck at the back of his throat. "I’m just so… so…"

Jungkook stood up, grabbed a wad of tissues and, with some trepidation, slid back onto the bed and wiped his eyes, lightly.

To Jimin, they almost felt like little feathers. Shocked by the gentle gesture, he looked up and saw that his eyes were leaking tears too.

"Kookie?"

Jungkook sniffled. "Hyung, please don’t cry. Whenever I see you sad, I-" his breath hitched. "I feel like crying too. Please don’t cry anymore..."

"I’m sorry…"

"It’s okay."

"I’m really sorry, it’s all-"

Jungkook hugged him, tightly.

"It’s okay."

Jimin endured a couple seconds of heavy breathing before finally calming down.

"You’ll forgive me?" he finally asked.

Jungkook nodded, reached into his shirt, and rubbed circles onto Jimin’s back. From the gap at the bottom, he could see the light glowing from his soulbrand, with every periodic stroke. It was making Jimin whimper.

"It feels really nice…" he murmured, turning his head until his lips touched the bottom of Jungkook’s neck.

"It’s supposed to feel nice," Jungkook whispered back, hoping the other boy couldn’t feel his crazy heartbeats.

"Kookie," he heard a faint, muffled voice say, but it took a while for him to realise it hadn’t been from Jimin.

"Kookie I swear to FUCKING GOD IF YOU TOOK MY CHARGER AGAIN-"

The door burst open, and they bounced apart like a disengaged springlock, faces flushed and breaths held.

Of course, it was his brother. He took one look at them, muttered an ‘oh shit’ and gave them a shit-eating grin as compensation.

"I’m sorry!" he yelled, still grinning. His eyes darted to the nearby power socket, and they glinted. "Oh, there’s my damn charger, you little snake."

He walked over to pull it out, and it came off with a loud click. Now that Jungkook was at a convenient arm’s length away, he took the opportunity to whack him in the shoulder.

"Serves you right," he chastised him, as he walked out. "Well, have fun Kookie! I love you!"

Jungkook stared at the door as it closed shut. "I guess I saw that coming..."

Jimin just giggled and collapsed into his chest. The other boy clumsily held the side of Jimin’s jaw, lifting it up towards his own face, finding his breath stolen, caught by the sight of his watery, crystal-like eyes.

How was it possible to contain so much beauty and intelligence in single pair of eyes? They overflowed with passion, with another primitive instinct - in the way Jimin was looking at him now, at his eyes, at his lips, and back into his eyes.

His eyelids closed, slightly, and Jungkook knew what to do. He kissed those lips, softly at first, then deeply at one go. Jimin held onto the back of his head, pressing them closer, releasing his grip slightly only when they had to breathe. But they never had to breathe for long, because their lips kept sticking back together, again and again.

They must have kissed for about five minutes, and Jungkook still hadn’t had enough.

"You’re such an angel," said Jimin, seeming astounded.

Jungkook shook his head with a smile. He thought Jimin deserved those words much, much more.

How does one take a look at him and not feel like melting in his arms? How could he, after seeing the immense love in his eyes, not start to love himself in the process?

Jimin closed his eyes and inched his body closer, squeezing Jungkook's thigh in between his legs. He felt warm fingers caress his cheek, pinching them a little, which made him lean forward even more.

"Clingy," Jungkook muttered, painting rosy cheeks onto Jimin’s face.

"It's because I love you so much, okay. I miss you..."

The boy couldn’t help but laugh in response, and then sighed into his hyung’s shoulder.

All the waiting, all the pain. It had been worth it.

"I miss you too."

‘If I could spend the rest of my life like this… that’s all I’d ever want.’

 

~~~~

 

On the next day’s afternoon, Jimin sat at his desk, half his body leaned against the desk. His eyes looked sharp as a result of adequate sleep, but he barely focused on the lesson, his pen only moving every once in a while to write a few notes.

His friends kept peering over at his table. All of last night, Jimin had left nothing but a few cryptic messages in the group chat. Seeing him in this state undoubtedly worried them, but at least he seemed less listless than before.

The bell rung, and the students sat impatiently at their desks for their teacher to release them from this lesson, which for Jimin was the end of his entire school day. The lesson finally concluded, and he hastily shoved all his belongings into his bag.

Before the boy could zip off, Hoseok jumped out in front of him, a cheeky expression on his face. While he was distracted, Taehyung held him by the jacket sleeves, keeping him captive.

"Jimin, are you trying to run away?" he asked him, tongue in cheek.

"No, I just don’t want Jungkook to wait too long. I’m meeting him later."

"Oh?"

"I’m guessing yesterday went well?" added Hoseok, hands behind his back.

"He’s your soulmate, isn’t he?" Taehyung saw Jimin’s sheepish expression and started yelling. "Damn it, I knew it all along!"

"Lucky bastard!" shouted Hoseok, as Jimin paced away with a spring in his step.

He brushed past Seungwon at the door. He gave her a quick goodbye before sprinting off, leaving said girl in a daze. "He looks happy," she commented, turning into the class to see Taehyung and Hoseok having a moment, in their spinning, celebratory hug.

"You better not let him catch you doing that, Tae," she said mysteriously, leaving Taehyung blushing and Hoseok confused.

 

~~~~

 

Jungkook had his bag slung coolly over his shoulder as he talked to Namjoon. Clearly it hadn’t been for anything serious, because he hadn’t been asked to talk outside the class. Instead, they talked quite casually.

"You feeling better? Hope everything with Jimin has been settled."

"Uh," said Jungkook, still nervous, but definitely less than before. "Yeah, we talked it out."

"Oh, that’s amazing! You wouldn't believe the number of adults who can’t even do that," he praised, before his face suddenly twisted into a strange expression. "So... have you figured it out?"

"Figured…?"

"Soulmate?" he whispered. "Is he your soulmate?"

"Oh, uh-"

"Jungkookie!" a loud voice called out from behind the classroom door. Following the voice was Jimin’s figure, which attracted the attention of all the others still in class.

"Oh, hi Namjoon-seom," he greeted with a grin. "Is Jungkook doing well?"

"I should be asking you that question," chuckled the older man. "Aren’t you much closer to him?"

"Well…" His grin transitioned into a reserved, but cute smile. "Kookie, are you ready?"

"Yeah, my stuff is all here."

"Great!" Almost gently, Jimin grabbed his wrist, and that hand slipped into Jungkook's, locking fingers. "Let’s go."

Jungkook heard a loud whoop - he already knew it was from his football teammate, who he also happened to be classmates with. He turned around to give him an embarrassed look. Then, the entire class erupted, some in wild support, some in disbelief and outrage.

Even Namjoon’s eyebrows were raised. He folded his arms, seeming satisfied.

And so the couple ran out of the classroom, hand in hand, their class roaring with an explosive reaction behind him.

 

~~~~

 

Operation: Get Yourself Together

 

Succwon
Hi guys, emergency meeting
I think we made a terrible mistake
We’ve lost them

TAEHYUNGIEE
what happened?

thighland hoe
they abandoned us for each other :’(
jimin would rather hang out with him
than with us contemp boys :((((

YOONGO
sighhh same here

Hobibobi
I think we were too good at our jobs ;)

YOONGO
wow, way to toot your own horn,

Hobibobi
Hi yoongi ily ;)))

YOONGO
;;;

You
you guys know im still in this chat right ;;

Succwon
GOOD
PARK JIMIN!!
WHAT HAPPENED TO BROS OVER HOES

You
iS JK NOT A BRO

Succwon
OK YES BUT
YOU THE HOE
This group will now be used to complain about the two of you
Bye jimhoe xoxo

 

You were kicked from this group.

Chapter Text

Namjoon might have walked around the corner and taken the long way round, just to meet Seokjin on the way out to lunch. Spotting the older colleague, he raised a hand and shook it in the air excitedly, which got his attention.

Seokjin smiled in return and started walking over. “Hey, you getting food for lunch?”

"Yeah," replied Namjoon, with a small chuckle that somehow felt unnatural. "Want me to get you anything?"

Seokjin put a hand out. "No need."

He lifted up a plastic bag with not one, but two bento boxes.

"I'm sorry I had to make you get dinner for me few weeks ago. This is repayment."

Namjoon stood there, stunned, but then slowly smiled. He honestly wouldn’t mind bringing food for him every day, so seeing him return the favour was something completely unexpected.

It was a good feeling.

They didn’t want the smell of hot food wafting throughout the fresh atmosphere of the staffroom, so they sat down outside, opening their packets of lunch and slowly chipping away at their lunch.

"So, suneung is coming up soon," said Seokjin, sighing a little. "The Third Years are getting very stressed."

Namjoon nodded. "I mean, come on, an exam to determine what college you go to. I think a huge chunk of our students are going to Seoul Art Uni, but even for those who aren't, they still need it, right?"

"As a qualification, I suppose," said Seokjin, "Or for achievement's sake. Like for our K-pop idols."

"Yeah. You ever wonder what it'll be like as a K-pop idol?" asked Namjoon.

"Hm... I have a nice singing voice, so I'd might be able to make it. But I like my acting career too much."

"Nice singing voice?" asked Namjoon, with an amused grin. "How nice?"

Seokjin rose to the challenge and cleared his throat. Then, he shouted the lyrics with incredible passion.

“Oneul bam ju-ingong-eun naya na, naya na!”

Most of the passing students and staff turned to stare at him - the others who hadn’t had already gotten used to this teacher’s tendencies. Meanwhile, Namjoon had nearly bust a gut laughing. Seokjin really did sound nice when singing - not at the same prowess of some idols, but still a competent singer.

"How about you, Namjoon-ah? You’re quite tall, quite handsome. You’d do okay."

Namjoon had to remind himself that it was perfectly acceptable for guys to compliment other guys on their looks, and no, it did not mean that Seokjin was trying to hit on him.

"I would die,” he said, hiding his nervousness. ”I mean, I can rap and write lyrics, but that's more of K-hiphop. If I were in a group... would we have to be a hiphop group? I think that's my only chance to survive."

"You'd be cute as a member."

Namjoon shook his head. "I'm not that handsome. Unlike a certain somebody..."

"Haha, thank you, thank you!" Seokjin took the compliment much in his own stride, as he devoured more of his lunch.

"Fuck, did I just accidentally call you handsome?"

Seokjin choked on his fish, and that was when Namjoon realised those words hadn’t stayed in his head like they should’ve been.

"Are you saying that I’m not?" Seokjin pouted.

"No, no," he tried to save himself, laughing nervously. "You’re very handsome, hyung…"

Seokjin sighed. Then, out of nowhere, he began to giggle, and then burst out in knee-slapping laughter. Namjoon laughed along with him, stopping a little earlier than his hyperactive friend. Somehow, staring at him, seeing his eyes crinkle up and listening to him laughing so hard made him feel incredibly happy.

He was old enough, experienced enough to more or less detect the exact moment a friend was becoming a crush. But by the time Namjoon thought it over for a second he realised it was too late.

This was already far into the crush stage, and he wasn't prepared for this, at all.

There were people who were, though.

From around the bend, two heads poked out occasionally, one at a time. They were close enough to have overheard their conversation, and had caught enough glimpses of their postures to have discovered something.

"Holy shit, they are so freaking real," whispered the boy, who was none other than Hoseok.

"Right?!" said the girl, who was of course Seungwon, in an excited, hushed voice. "I told you, they’re totally into each other, but they’re just letting it simmer! They need some boiling action."

"And? How do you think we should do that?"

"Hm…" Seungwon had a hand to her chin, the look in her eyes bubbling with a plan. "Are you willing to help me?"

Hoseok’s eyes widened in response, with a smile hinting strongly of mischief.

 

~~~~

 

“Yoongi-hyung…” whined Taehyung, tapping on the table with an almost empty pen. “I hate studying.”

“You’re talking to someone who fucking retained. I’m only studying because we’re doing it together.”

“Aw,” went Taehyung, earning a small wry smile from his hyung. “Since you said that, I’m gonna work hard too.”

“That’s good, that’s good.” Yoongi was unsure of whether to laugh or cry.

They managed to focus for a total of twenty minutes before Taehyung fell onto the desk, sighing in defeat. “What time is it now?”

“It’s…” Yoongi checked his phone. “1.42pm.”

“Noooo…” Taehyung refused to move. “We still have an entire afternoon left? I don’t wanna…”

Witnessing the usually bright and energetic boy become reduced to such a pitiful state made Yoongi’s heart ache. It wasn’t as if Yoongi liked studying either.

“Let’s not study anymore,” said Yoongi on pure impulse. He closed his notebook, while Taehyung stared at him incredulously.

“We can’t just abandon our work!” he exclaimed. “It’s our suneung year?!”

“Whatever. One day wouldn't hurt.” Yoongi stretched his arms out into the musty school atmosphere and yawned. “Besides, I heard there’s a sale going on. Some special bazaar… let’s look at some nice clothes.”

“Huh, a sale?” Taehyung’s eyes were practically gleaming. “Where?”

“It’s a fifteen minute walk from my house. Heard there’s going to be a few good brands there.”

“That’s pretty cool…” Taehyung contemplated it seriously. “Will they still be there after suneung?”

“Who cares? If we go now, we can ask them.”

“Wait, are you actually serious?”

“Yeah.” With a casual sweep of a hand, Yoongi gathered his stationery into a pile and scooped it back into his box. “Want to go home and take a shower first? You look all shrivelled up.”

“Ah, then we meet later?”

“Sure. Come to my house? I know the way from there.”

“I guess I won’t be able to focus like this anyway…” Taehyung mumbled up an excuse for himself, and started packing as well. “At um, three?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Eventually, the both had all their stuff zipped into their schoolbags, and stood up. Taehyung walked ahead, with Yoongi following after his footsteps. Then, all of a sudden, Taehyung felt soft hands touch the back of his shoulders, rubbing them a little, akin to a light massage.

“No point stressing yourself out with work,” said the boy behind him, softly. “Just take this as a break to refresh yourself, okay? You shouldn’t strain yourself after just recovering.”

“But I’m fine now…” Taehyung murmured a reply, feeling a weird warm feeling spread throughout his body.

“You don’t know what might happen. The doctors said it themselves.” Yoongi leaned forward and rested on the back of his neck. “Just take care of yourself.”

“Hyung, let me walk properly…” The strange feeling skittered about in his stomach, making him even more flustered than usual.

 

~~~~

 

The feeling had only barely subsided once Taehyung reached his own home and stepped into the shower for a quick rinse.

‘I need to relax…’ he thought to himself, letting the warm water soothe him for a few minutes. ‘Loosen my sore muscles.’

When he was done and ready to pick out clothes to wear, he realised he wasn’t feeling any less tense than before. He was flipping through stacks of clothing, racking his brains for an outfit to wear. He took out a few items and swapped them around, but his face was still rigid from dissatisfaction.

‘Why am I so nervous?’

Maybe, he thought, it was from the pressure of wanting to dress his best. If they were going to shop, even just to window shop, there was a basic expectation of dressing appropriately well.

If only it had been as simple as that. The main variable was that damned Min Yoongi. If he underdressed, his hyung would surely criticise him. If he overdressed, he was sure to nitpick.

It didn’t help that their relationship was so ambiguous. After that one night, even after the doctor’s explanation, he was still so unsure. Plus, no verbal agreement from Yoongi, either.

‘Do I actually like him? Does he actually like me back?’

Taehyung was stumped for ways to impress him, yet it was a goal he desperately wanted to achieve. It deepened his confusion.

He spent so long deciding, that it nearly made him late.

 

~~~~

 

"Hyung!"

Yoongi was balancing himself on the doorstep of his own house, until he heard the familiar voice. He looked towards its direction, and then he just… kept staring.

The black jacket Taehyung wore was rather long, but well designed, with a few decorative metal buttons. A thin grey sweater peeked out ever so slightly from the sleeves and was visible from the unconnected zip. With dark brown pants he wore dark brown boots, that bore a few simple metal pieces.

Nothing was shiny or attention-grabbing, other than the aura he gave out. It looked good.

He looked hot.

Yoongi couldn’t help but tug at his off-white shirt, which was a little loose from constant wear. He had covered most of it with his basketball varsity jacket, and wore some casual jeans to complete his look.

He looked good, but nowhere near as hot as Taehyung.

"Why so well-dressed? Are we going to a party?" he asked in jest, sounding rather casual, but secretly admiring the outfit.

Unfortunately, Taehyung seemed to have missed the original intention, and began to fidget a little. "I… just wanted to look nice today, that’s all."

"You do," Yoongi blurted. ‘You look better than I ever would.’

In an instant, Taehyung’s face blushed a deep red. It was so abnormal that Yoongi doubted if those last few words had really only been in his head.

"Really?" asked the younger guy, sounding both hopeful and apprehensive at the same time.

Not wanting to admit something he might or might not have said earlier, he simply grunted and shrugged, looking away from him.

"H-hyung, you look good too."

Yoongi turned his gaze back to him. The stutter had been too noticeable, and it made him feel a little strange too. He broke out into a smile.

"Me? I just look like a typical high schooler."

"But… but it looks good," Taehyung nervously added.

Yoongi even started to go a little red, too. "Come on, let’s go."

 

~~~~

 

The hall space set aside for the massive sale was naturally massive as well. Various brands settled in their designated booths, and they attracted droves of interested shoppers, young and old. They flowed about like water currents, and the two boys found themselves caught in their unpredictable torrents.

They occasionally stopped around in both the men’s and women’s sections. Taehyung darted around, picking up and admiring clothes with a bright and lively gait. Yoongi followed behind, giving his opinions and pointing out a few nice finds of his own.

Unfortunately, as much as they wanted to buy an entire wardrobe of fashion, their pockets were very telling of their statuses as low-income high school students. They stopped looking at the price tags, knowing that the numbers would only hurt them more.

Then Taehyung just had to fall in love with a pair of branded boots.

"Oh my god," he exclaimed excitedly as he picked it up and scrutinised the design. "Can I try this on?"

"Of course," replied the sales attendant, who was currently staring at him with lovey-dovey eyes that made Yoongi want to punch him.

‘Aren’t you a professional?’ he scolded him in his head. ‘Don’t you represent your company? How could you so obviously show your favour to someone? And just for some pretty face, too...’

"Hyung!" exclaimed the only guy in the room that mattered to him. "How does it look?"

Yoongi looked over and saw Taehyung lift up the boots, and then bend backward so Yoongi could see them from another angle. His mouth went dry.

‘Fuck, he looks even hotter than before! How is that possible?’

Refusing to let his voice expose him, he simply raised up two thumbs-up, which made Taehyung unbearably happy. "How much is it?" he asked the attendant.

"Let me check..." he looked at the label. "Ninety thousand won."

Taehyung barely managed to hide his disappointment, while Yoongi nearly coughed blood. It wasn’t unreasonable, but...

"It’s already a discounted price. Oh, and staff get a further 10% discount!"

Yoongi struggled to keep a straight face. ‘Do we look like staff to you?!’

"If it helps, you can use my staff pass for the discount," he added not-so-subtly, causing the already irritated guy to grit his teeth in frustration.

Taehyung sighed and smiled. Even if it was a 10% discount, it could only save nine thousand. It wasn’t an insignificant amount, but either way, Taehyung had nowhere to pull out the other eighty thousand from.

"It’s alright! We won’t be getting this, sorry for the hassle…" he said, and with such innate charm that the attendant couldn’t get angry at him.

"Don’t worry. And well, this sale will be here until Sunday," he even added, his eyes still sparkling. "And it’ll be back next year."

"Next year?"

"Yeah, this is an annual event." The sales attendant smiled at him. "We had one last year too."

"But will they have this same design next year?" Taehyung worriedly asked.

"Uh… I’m honestly not sure, the models on sale here are always subject to changes."

"Oh well, guess I’ll have to wait and hope it’s still there."

Meanwhile, Yoongi stood next to him, shockingly silent while he stared holes into the price tag.

"You know what," he said suddenly, startling the younger boy, "I’m getting this for you."

"Wait, wha-"

Yoongi grabbed the shoebox with a curt ‘thanks’, and promptly walked off. Taehyung looked apologetically at the attendant before rushing off to chase him.

"Are you actually getting those shoes for me? Hey!" Taehyung eventually grabbed hold of his shoulder, stopping him. "Those are expensive..."

"I know, but I can handle it." And starve for a few lunches, but that was fine in Yoongi’s books.

"I’ll… I can pay for half of it!”

"No need."

"But I feel really bad, I even let you pay for my taxi the other time. Come on…"

"...you still remember that? Okay, fine, I’ll let you pay. On one condition."

"But why do I need to grant you something for letting you spend less money on me…?"

"Shut up. Here’s the condition, okay. You have to wear it to school at least once per week. And if anyone asks about it, you have to tell them that I got them for you."

"Of course," Taehyung agreed quickly, before realising what Yoongi was trying to do. He pulled a cheeky grin.

"You can’t laugh, either." Yoongi’s face was beet red. "It’s just- those boots really complement your outfit, okay."

"Hyung, you’re so cute," he couldn’t help but gush. "You really are the best."

"Of course," Yoongi scoffed, ignoring the first statement. "How could your boyfriend not treat you well…"

Boyfriend.

Taehyung’s brain suddenly crashed. When it rebooted a second later, it just crashed again.

My boyfriend.

"God, why can’t I keep my fucking thoughts to myself anymore…" muttered said boyfriend, puffing his cheeks up with air.

"My boyfriend?" he asked, softly. That one phrase was overriding his entire system.

"Yeah?" Yoongi whispered, while suddenly holding Taehyung’s hand. "Am I not?"

Without warning, the taller boy leaned down towards him, gently touching foreheads. "Oh my god, hyung," he choked, "I love you. I love you so much."

He could feel Yoongi soften at his words. "I love you too," he whispered back, lifting a hand and rubbing his cheek with a thumb. And with that, all of Taehyung’s internal memory had overloaded, unable to handle all his emotions at one go.

 

~~~~

 

Jimin sat at his desk, staring at his notes, barely paying attention to what he was reading. It was in the late morning when he started his studying, and it was now late in the afternoon. Evening was already starting to creep in.

He tried to calm the dull ache in his head, closing his eyes and taking in several deep breaths. That was when Jungkook walked into his room, a pensive look on his face.

This boy was coming over to his place more often to study, late into the night, too. It was more of an excuse to spend more time with him, but Jimin found his presence extremely pleasant anyway.

"Hm? Kookie, what's up?" asked Jimin, noticing his expression. “Don’t get caught up on the match, okay?”

Jungkook seemed surprised, but then slumped his shoulders. “I could’ve scored those points…”

Jimin’s intuition was good - the boy was still hung up on last week’s losing match. Jungkook’s team had made it into the semifinals through sheer grit and hard work, but the problem was their unlucky ballot - they had faced the two-time champion team, which obviously had much more experience, and a much stronger drive to win. Just having a powerhouse like Jungkook wasn’t enough.

"I think you did amazing, Jungkookie, even without those stupid points. Besides, this loss is nothing. Next year you’ll get a fresh new batch of first years, and you never know if they might be geniuses, like you. There’s always a chance you’ll lead a champion team next year!"

Jungkook had heard similar encouragements before, but none were framed quite like Jimin’s.

"But what if I don’t in the end?" he asked, still filled with doubt.

"Then good game. Games aren’t just about competition, right?"

Jungkook squirmed, as if he were about to argue, but then sighed in resignation. "You’re right. I- I just wanted to do better, I guess. Thanks…"

"Anytime." Jimin chuckled a little, patting him on the shoulder.

"But, uh…" Jungkook timidly piped up. "This isn’t what I wanted to talk about, though."

"Eh?"

"Hyung, I need to tell you some news."

"What is it?"

He fidgeted in his spot, and then took a deep breath.

"I got accepted... to become a trainee. Three companies have scouted me so far."

Jimin's heart froze in place. It wasn't sure where to go or what to do, whether to warm up with happiness or drop to the floor like a dead rock.

"Isn't..." He choked on his own words. "Isn't that a good thing?"

Jungkook looked to the floor, shaking his head ambiguously. "Hyung, you know... you know what it'll do to... us."

There was a famous saying in Korea: the easiest way to murder your soulmate is to become a K-pop idol.

The career was notorious for destroying soulbonds, or at best halting it for the first three decades of their lives. The chilling number of stories about crazed, obsessive fans who didn't stop at conspiracies or murder just to rob their idol of their other half... that was just the culmination of the industry's unforgiving nature.

That was why there was a disproportionate majority of idols who had already suffered from SDT prior to debut. Most of which were faking it, purposefully concealing their soulbrands to protect their loved ones.

That meant that the time they could spend together physically was extremely minimal. It would be excruciating for most people.

"Just... just go with your heart," said Jimin, finally. "Don’t worry! I can take care of myself! So, don’t let me influence you. You only have one life, so just do it."

Jungkook wasn't dumb; he could sense the sadness in his voice. "Jimin-hyung..."

"Either way, I need to study now," said Jimin quickly. "I need to focus on graduating before anything else."

Feeling saddened himself, Jungkook wordlessly slumped onto Jimin's bed for a moment, before quietly walking out. And the moment he did, Jimin slumped onto the table, his arms shielding his face from the rest of the world.

 

~~~~

 

When Jungkook came back not long after, Jimin was surprised. He heard the door outside creak once he left, so he immediately assumed that he had made his dongsaeng so sad that he had to leave.

The bedroom door opened, and the room filled with the scent of freshly brewed coffee.

Jimin was genuinely shocked. "You..."

"I got us some from across the street," he said, shyly. "I thought it would help you concentrate better."

Jimin’s heart was this close to bursting. "Kookie, come here a sec."

Slightly confused, Jungkook went up closer, only to have his stomach attacked by Jimin's head, pressing against it, wrapping his arms around to hug him.

"I love you so much," he murmured, bringing his boyfriend's face closer to his.

"I'm sorry, hyung," was all he could say in response, as he bent down towards him.

Jimin gave him a quick peck on the lips before taking his coffee, sipping it slowly.

"Thank you..." he said, still feeling embarrassed about earlier.

Jungkook simply shrugged and sipped his own coffee. "It's no big deal. I'm the one who should be sorry..."

Jimin nonchalantly nodded and went back to his studying, which somehow bothered Jungkook a little bit.

He hugged Jimin from the back, which nearly knocked the guy off his stool.

"I'm really, really sorry..." he continued, murmuring into his shoulder.

"Ai, it's okay, Kookie... hey, what's up with you? Why are you so clingy?"

"I don't know... I feel bad. And I'm bored."

Being so close to each other's bodies, Jimin couldn't help but shiver a little. "Don't feel bad. I love you... but you need to let me do my work."

"You know, I think you’re really really handsome when you’re trying to focus.”

Jimin couldn’t resist a bashful smile. "Really?"

"Yes." Jimin could feel Jungkook’s lips curve upwards ever so slightly on the shirt fabric. "I’ve never seen anyone more attractive than you while studying."

Jimin giggled before swatting him away. "Sweet-talker, stop bothering me."

"But hyung ," whispered the younger guy, dragging out the last word. "you know, I uh, feel really... y'know... hot..."

Jimin’s smile froze, as he swallowed a gulp of air. "Well, but... I'm still trying to study..."

The younger boy pouted. "Can't you take a break? Just for one hour... please?"

Jimin made no motion to move him out of the way.

Just one hour? He wasn’t naïve enough to think that whatever Jungkook had planned would only last an hour.

"Jimin- oppa ..." Jungkook cooed, sliding his hands underneath the guy's arms and slightly over his waist. He might have gently caressed his abs, which were fairly toned from his training.

Jimin bucked under his suddenly possessive hands. He wondered what kind of strange thing whoever must have put in Jungkook's coffee, to make him act this way…

He forced a still face, as if ignoring him would make him go away. But Jungkook's grasp became tighter than ever, and when it finally loosened it was only to grab onto the back of his shirt and lift it up.

This was dangerous. All his life, sex education had warned him about being alone with someone in a closed room, especially if it was your boyfriend, especially if he was your soulmate.

He felt something press against him, and then came an explosive warmth tingling all throughout his back. He realised it was an entire patch of soft bare skin that had made contact with the markings.

Hearing the other boy’s grunt in satisfaction, Jimin quickly came to the conclusion that it was Jungkook's back which was touching his own. It was something straight out of a sex scene.

"Jimin," whispered Jungkook, sounding as desperate as possible.

It hit Jimin that this wasn't just about the youngster and his hormonal impulses. If he was, he would've persuaded Jimin to touch his back a bit. Why go through all the trouble otherwise? His current actions could only mean one thing.

'You sneaky little...'

Jimin would be lying to himself if he said he could focus on his work anymore. All those formulas seemed to slide back out of his head from the slow, panging pleasure.

Jimin sighed. This boy was dangerous, more dangerous than he'd ever known anyone to be.

For a moment, the sensation stopped. Then he felt a soft, warm wet sensation on his neck, sucking slowly as it trailed down the folds of his shirt. He dropped his pen, letting out an involuntary gasp.

"Just a short while," the devil's voice whispered again.

Jimin, with his entire heart, lapped up every single drop of his temptation, and let him drag him onto his own bed.

Chapter Text

Jungkook
Yoongi hyung
Remember I told you about my auditions?
Three of them accepted me… one of them is your company, hyung
Do you think I should join that one?
Actually, should I join at all? I still have Jimin…

You
hi jk, tHAT’S GREAT
would be really cool to see you in the same company??
but you’re right, you’d have to make some sacrifices with your love life
and yeah, it’s really not easy

Jungkook
I don’t want to lose him…
Also, speaking of love life
Is it true that you and Tae are a thing?

You
;;;
yes
i’ll explain another day okay

Jungkook
OH!!
Okay

You
yeah anyways i’ve talked to tae about it already
it’s gonna be tough for us to maintain it but,
he knows i love my music a lot
and we’re willing to work it out
but hearing from my sunbaes, it’s going to be really difficult so the relationship will be like 90% online and ldr
i really dont recommend doing it especially since you’ve already found him

Jungkook
Oh… because now I’m really conflicted
I don’t know if giving up a career path is a good idea
Because technically career is more important? But I don’t want Jimin to suffer
I can’t tell if it’s because I’m still a kid or because I’ve grown up

You
you are a young man now jk!!
reminder though, entering the kpop industry is a risky gamble
you might just be wasting your time anyways
anyways… your decision is yours but i have one thing i abide by
follow your dreams, as long as your heart will be there with it
no point doing lofty ambitious stuff if there’s some big thing holding you back in your heart
so… it just depends on what you value more

Jungkook
yeah… you’re right
thanks so much hyung, i have a lot to learn

You
no problem!
and good luck with jimin. yall are really cute together
oh and sorry for topic change
but i kind of made a bet w tae
that yall gonna fuck before suneung
i said you will
so do me a favour okay xoxo

Jungkook
Uh…
UHHHH
done…????

You
OH
WAIT ARE YOU SERIOUS

You
PICK UP THE CALL
ITS ME
i dont have money left in my prepaid card so its my house number

Jungkook
Ohh so that’s who it is
Sorry I thought it was my grandma so I ignored it

You
;;;

 

~~~~

 

A few weeks had passed, and Namjoon was already about to go insane. He had his hands full, buried in administrative paperwork and exam script finalising. Not to mention, he still had to sort out all the different recordings of all the students' english oral exams… He prayed none of them were faulty.

The staffroom was in a similar mood, buzzing about in a mad rush of preparation for the written exams.

"Namjoon," a voice suddenly called out. Namjoon turned around to see Seokjin just behind his cubicle, lifting a cup of coffee onto his desk and giving him a silly grin.

"Thanks," he replied gratefully, before going back to his work.

Seokjin tsked. "Namjoon-ah, you look like your entire scalp is going to fall off. Relax a bit, okay?"

"That's a lot for you to say..."

"Hey, I've been busy too, you know the Third Years have suneung. We all need to chill a bit."

"Only during the written exams, I guess. Then we got nothing to do but walk around and think about life. Then it's back to marking scripts."

Seokjin sighed. "We still need breaks every once in a while. Come here, drink some coffee first."

"Alright…"

"Are you two done flirting?" said someone in a fit of irritation, as she swivelled around and looked at them crassly.

Namjoon blushed, not just from the insinuation but from embarrassed apology. The other teachers around them were frustrated enough as they were, even without the two’s voices distracting them.

"Ah, sorry everyone," Seokjin quickly apologised, before grabbing Namjoon by the arm. "Let’s get out for a bit. And take your coffee!"

 

~~~~

 

They stood outside the staffroom, sipping at their coffee for a few seconds. Namjoon couldn’t think of any conversation starters, but he tried striking up one anyway. "So-"

He was saved by a series of very loud footsteps coming from the hallway. It was Seungwon, sprinting towards them like her life depended on it.

"Hi, Namjoon-seom! Seokjin-seom!" she exclaimed as she ran past, clutching a suspicious-looking black pouch in one hand.

Both teachers stared at her as she rushed up the stairs, stunned and slightly concerned. But before Seokjin could turn back to the other man and laugh a little, another voice screamed from the other end of the corridor.

A body collided into him at top speed, sending him tumbling backwards into the only other guy behind him. In a fit of panic, Namjoon squeezed his paper cup a little too hard and sent the cover flying, and the clash ultimately ended in paper cups strewn about, and Seokjin in a puddle of warm coffee.

"Oh, shit!" Hoseok gasped, immediately offering a hand to his teacher. "I’m so sorry, seom… it was that damn Seungwon who took my- goddamn it."

Seokjin had managed to stand up, slipping a bit from all the coffee that was on the floor. He groaned, cringing from the heat of the liquid. It was like a bath that was too hot - unpleasant, but thankfully not too scalding.

"Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, it’s just my shirt." Though Seokjin was rather distraught at his ruined clothes, he tried not to lose his cool. "Namjoon, how’s it for you?"

"Ah… it’s okay, it’s mostly on my arms," replied Namjoon in a dazed voice. Seokjin squinted in concern; he was the one who fell down, but this guy seemed paler than he was.

"Um... are you okay?"

"I, uh, that... I didn't mean to uh, spill my drink..."

Namjoon was nervous for a different reason, though. The coffee might have left an ugly brown colour on Seokjin’s shirt, but it was now partially wet, clinging tightly to his slender waist.

"It’s okay! We just have to wash up." Seokjin patted him encouragingly on the shoulder.

"I’m so so sorry," Hoseok continued, bowing his head several times. "I’ll clean up this mess."

"Thank you." Both teachers seemed quite impressed by his initiative.

As they headed off to the male staff toilet, a figure popped out from above the flight of stairs. It was Seungwon, who gave a silent, inquiring stare. Hoseok was jumping about on light feet, with a grin on his face, and she automatically knew. They gave each other a soft high-five and cheered.

It seemed that everything, including the coffee, had been planned by them.

 

~~~~

 

Namjoon found himself cursing internally at coffee for leaving such obvious stain marks on his shirt, and for causing a mild tingling sensation on his arms. Seokjin was lucky enough to have fallen onto the coffee, somewhat protected by a layer of fabric, but his had spilled onto bare arms. He let tap water run onto it, just in case it was a scald.

Seokjin noticed when he looked over, and let out a small gasp. "What happened to you? Tough luck, huh?"

"Yeah… it’ll be alright, I just have to stay here for a while."

There was an exasperated sigh. "Seriously. Those silly children. I can’t get any of this off."

"Hey, I wonder what Seungwon took from Hoseok. You saw that little pouch, right?"

"It looked like it might have been a secret document or something," Seokjin guessed, and then let out a short laugh. "Anyways, it’s not something we should stick our noses in."

While they dismissed their curiosity over this strange matter, both failed to realise how suspicious it was for students that they recognised, and already accidentally met on one occasion, to have coincidentally appeared again and knocked Seokjin over. Whatever that was inside that pouch was irrelevant, but it was actually Hoseok’s phone, in case the teachers tried to open it.

Seungwon truly did have a talent for these things.

Namjoon was so engrossed in the flowing tap, he didn’t even notice when his older colleague had taken off his shirt and started scrubbing at it in the sink.

When Namjoon did fatefully look up at the mirror, catching a glimpse of his chest, he quickly looked to his side, confirming his fears.

‘Oh no,’ he thought, before his mind went blank. On his back was the likeness of a thin tree, roots spreading down into his trousers, little leaves growing on the branches.

He couldn’t help but think of his own brand, which had a similar spread of leaves on branches, except his was more of a shrub.

It took a while for Seokjin to notice his intense stares, because when he did he turned to look at him semi-quizzically. Namjoon’s reaction was priceless: changing from sudden panic to stunned denial.

"Uh… you uh, took off your shirt," he mumbled a little, before looking away.

"Well, yeah." Seokjin seemed amused, and gave him a small smug look. "I’m not ashamed, I think I look good shirtless."

"You do," Namjoon bluntly praised, throwing Seokjin off guard.

Slightly pink himself, he unconsciously hid his muscles behind the stained shirt. "Well, I can’t go out like this, so… luckily I have spare shirts under my desk. Help me take one? Two, if you need one too."

"Really? You’ll lend it to me?"

"Could give it to you if you wanted."

"Th...thanks a lot. I’ll go get it first, then."

"Take your time!" Seokjin called out to him as he rushed out of the restroom, seeming a little too anxious to go. He sighed as the door closed, smirking a little to himself.

 

~~~~

 

The clock ticked a second at a time. Now that the study break had kicked in, Jimin had spent all his time holed up at home or at the dance studio, doing some last minute work and practice. Jungkook followed him around, not unlike a loyal pet, bringing all his study materials along.

Once he had enough of his own studying, he would watch Jimin practice his motions. Once Jimin decided to take a break, he would peer over at Jungkook’s art preparatory work. It was a cycle neither of them got bored of.

Oral examinations always came earlier than the other papers. Jungkook came home - to Jimin’s house, no less - with a sulky face.

"Eh, you’re not going home?" questioned Jimin.

Jungkook shook his head. "I told my parents I’d be here. As always." He flopped onto his bed.

"I probably flunked english oral..." he told Jimin, moping around sadly. "I did so badly. I think the teacher wanted to laugh at me."

Jimin couldn't help but laugh. "I don't think I did too badly," he said after regaining his breath, thinking back.

"It's suneung, you studied a lot. Of course you'll do okay."

"Yeah, I guess..." He looked rather sceptical, prompting Jungkook to ruffle his hair as comfort. Jimin glared at him in response, and they both laughed.

There was a long silence before he finally spoke.

"Hyung, I'm not going to be a trainee anymore."

Jimin did not expect this. He kept a stunned silence, watching Jungkook’s expression for any sign of joking amusement.

There was none.

"I already turned them down," Jungkook explained. "I'm seeing if I can intern in a film production company."

"Are you serious? Then what about your dream? Of being a kpop idol?"

"It's not that it isn't my dream... I just have too many dreams at once." Jungkook gave him a slightly saddened smile. "I mean, I already wanted to do art as a side hobby or job, so there’s that. I don't know where I'd go in film. Maybe I'll do variety shows, or maybe dramas, or movies. Maybe I could even be a director..." His eyes shone, like they reflected the light at the end of that path.

Jimin was obviously relieved at the news, but he couldn’t help but feel ridden with guilt.

"What about performing?" he asked, still apprehensive. "You can sing, dance, you're handsome, you... if you became an idol, you would have millions of fans..."

"That's too huge of a number."

"No, it wouldn't be. Everyone would know your name! You'd be the icon of shining youth! You have the talent... But you're giving it up like that? It's for me, isn't it?" Jimin breathed as if the air had shards of glass. "You don't need to do that, you dumbass!"

Jungkook shook his head. "Jimin-hyung…"

Jimin's expression immediately softened. Seeing this, Jungkook reached out and folded Jimin's hands into his own, grasping them gently.

"Well, maybe I would be a really great kpop idol. Maybe I could be rich and famous. Maybe. But... you know there's that scary trend here... highest percentage of people who don't find and settle down with their soulmates. Right? I don't want to be one of them."

"Idiot..." mumbled Jimin.

"You're the idiot, you told me to go with my heart! What other option could I choose?"

Jimin looked at him with a pained expression. "Love isn't everything, you know..."

"No, it's not, but not many people can meet their soulmates before graduation. I'm the lucky one here, I found you so early on, and... I don’t care about any of that adult stuff! Screw that."

"Kookie..."

"I told you I have too many dreams in life, right? One of them is living a happy life with my soulmate and growing old together. So I choose that one."

"S-stop it... you're gonna make me cry..."

Jungkook grinned. "You know I love you-"

Something had thumped on his ribcage, throwing him off guard. Jimin had hit him on the chest, and began to let out a scream.

"Stop! You're not allowed to do this to me!"

Jimin crushed his boyfriend in a bone-crushing hug. The pain he inflicted was almost like a threat, but it was a very heartfelt one.

"It's worth it," said Jungkook, not only reassuring Jimin but himself as well. " You're worth it."

The older guy pressed his eyes onto the cloth of Jungkook's sleeves, choking on a sob.

"Hyung," said Jungkook, attempting to distract him from the emotional turmoil. "What were you planning to be once you graduate?"

"Probably... a backup dancer," was the sniffled reply. "Or maybe I'll join the theatre for real. I was- I was kind of planning to maybe be a choreographer for your group, like it could've been a possibility... but..."

"Ah, I see. You know... I was just thinking about the future. I mean, future career and all that. You know what I really want to be once I graduate?"

"Uh. K-pop idol… Athlete… Artist... Movie Director..."

Jungkook smiled sweetly at him. "Your husband."

Jimin’s eyes widened as he screeched again. "I will kill you with my bare hands!"

Jungkook laughed. "If you do that, then how am I going to father our children? I mean, that's if you want children, anyway. I know I want a kid or two..."

Jimin blushed at the thought. "Why are you telling me this…? I don't even know if I'll pass the exams."

"You definitely will. And, well, whether you pass or not is irrelevant. Isn't it obvious? I want to marry you."

"I... I..." Jimin was at a loss.

"And no, I'm not being a stupid silly child. I really want to talk about getting married."

"Are you proposing to me?"

"I guess?" Jungkook admitted shyly. "But I don't have a ring or anything..."

"I... uh..." Jimin fidgeted a little. "I actually wanted like... a lot of kids... I know that probably sounds like I want to torture myself, but I want to father as many orphans as I can... Especially those who have been disowned."

Jungkook stared at him with shining eyes. "So pure..."

"What?"

"No, no. If that's what you really want, then I support you. Oh, and what kind of place do you want to live in? Do you want a rental, or a home you actually own, even though it might be a bit smaller..."

"Obviously I want my own home, but rental would be better if we have a lot of kids, since more space."

"Mmhm... Oh, we have to talk about the wedding too. Do you want a best man? Who would it be? Oh, wouldn't Seungwon-noona be your bridesmaid?"

"I don't like how that suggests I'm the bride," said Jimin, only half-pouting.

"No no," Jungkook chuckled. "We can have groomsmen and bridesmaids each, right? Should I get Yoongi as best man then, hmm..."

Out of nowhere, Jimin suddenly started to giggle.

"I'm... I'm so happy we're talking about this. It sounds so scary... but it's so exciting. I never thought about getting married before."

"I'll get us rings some other time, I promise."

"Anything's alright..." said Jimin, dreamily staring into his boyfriend's - no, fiancé's - eyes before snuggling into his chest.

 

~~~~

 

You
kookie
i’m really nervous :(
iTS STARTING SOOn and i’m scared
what if i make a tiny mistake and it makes me fail

Jungkookie <3
You won’t!
You’re too smart and amazing for that

You
SMART PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES TOO
WHAT IF I FAIL

Jungkookie <3
Well...
If you fail you can still be my trophy husband hehe

You
HDFJHDS
don’t get ahead of yourself
>:(

Jungkookie <3
Haha
When is it starting again?

You
1.30pm
about 30 min left? but we have to reach 15min before it starts

Jungkookie <3
Ah I see
Good luck Jiminie, I know you’ll do really well
Don’t be nervous okay?
<33

You
wish it was that easy :( but thankss <3

 

Waiting outside the examination hall made most of the students shake in anticipation. Anxiety steamed in the air, keeping the cold weather bearable. Imagine feeling like your entire future banked on the next few hours, having to rub your own hands and keep your breathing steady from fear… and all of a sudden, this boy beside you started to laugh and blush at his phone screen. That was how the rest of his gang felt, sitting next to Jimin.

"Ignore him," said Seungwon, voice hinting at her bitterness. "Can’t believe he’d rather talk to his boyfriend than comfort us."

"Hey, I’m really nervous too!" Jimin protested, looking up from his phone. "You guys look half-dead. I feel stressed just being here."

"Oh, come on," said Taehyung, "we’re great at relieving your stress. Come here..."

Jimin yelped as Taehyung attempted to squeeze his arms into the rest of his body. "At least hug me properly, dumbass!"

"Okay." Before Jimin could react, Taehyung grabbed him by the waist and hoisted him up, carrying him around with Jimin’s abs in his face.

"AH!" he exclaimed, wavering between two states of fright and laughter. "This was not what I asked for!"

"Don’t be nervous, Jimin!" yelled Hoseok and Yoongi, one after the other, while they surrounded Taehyung and hugged them both together. Seungwon scratched her forehead, feeling a little awkward until Hoseok noticed and pulled her in. She grabbed Jimin’s legs, twirling the guys around, creating a stark likeness of a Mayflower pole.

"Guys, put me down please," Jimin pleaded, laughing to the point of tears. After being laid on the concrete flooring, he regained his sense of balance and checked his phone

 

Jungkookie <3
Hgjfhgdh i love you
Are you still there?
Why are you leaving me on read </3

 

"You guys! You made me leave him hanging!" he cried, about to send an ‘i love you too’ in reply when Taehyung stopped him.

"Not fair! Only you get to text him that?"

"Huh? The hell are you talking about, don’t you have your own phone?"

 

~~~~

 

Namjoon was just walking around near the examination hall, when he noticed a group of students huddled around a single phone.

‘Ah, those kids, aren’t they-?’

"One, two, three-"

"JUNGKOOK, WE LOVE YOU!"

"Is it sending? Ah, I hope none of it got cut off."

"It’s sent!"

Hearing this, Namjoon immediately broke into a wide smile. ‘It’s those guys again.’

He decided to walk towards them and start some conversation. "I see you all love him very much."

His sudden voice had caught them off guard. "Ah! Namjoon-seom, hello!" greeted Hoseok, while the others repeated the greeting, bowing slightly.

"Hello!" Namjoon replied. "It’s so nice to see you care for your dongsaeng even before your paper."

Jimin practically glowed. "Seom, would you like to send him a message too? It’ll be great motivation."

"Eh, why not?"

"Okay." Jimin held the screen near Namjoon. "Start your message in three, two, one..."

He pressed record.

"Jungkook-ah, it’s your English teacher, Namjoon-seom. Study well for your exams, okay?" he said simply, before moving away, indicating that he was done.

"It’s sent," Jimin announced, while he waited for Jungkook to listen to it.

"Ready for the exam?" Namjoon asked everyone, with big, owl eyes. The others started laughing in embarrassment.

"I hope I’m ready," sighed Yoongi. "I mean, I can’t repeat another year."

Suddenly, Jimin burst into laughter. "Oh my god, Kookie is so funny. Let me read out what he typed."

"Oh my god you’re kidding? Question mark exclamation mark. I can’t believe he’s so nice asdfghjkl I’m freaking out rn. Don’t read this out btw. Well," said Jimin, "a little too late for that."

Taehyung snickered. "He’s such a fanboy."

"He’s a nice kid," Namjoon waved it off, laughing good-naturedly.

"Namjoon-seom," said Seungwon. "You’re invigilating our exams?"

"Oh, no I'm just here to give you all the answers."

There was a momentary pause before the students laughed.

"Just kidding, I don’t want to lose my job. Just wanted to say good luck. I have faith in you!"

"Thank you seom!"

 

~~~~

 

Namjoon eventually made his way back to the staffroom, where he tried returning to his desk, but nearly sat on Seokjin’s lap instead.

"Hyung!" he yelled, so spooked by his sudden apparition that he scared the living daylights out of his nearby colleagues. "Don't scare me!"

"Okay, we get it, you’re both a happy couple," someone from outside the cubicle remarked not-so-quietly, raising a few chuckles and snorts from the crowd.

"None of your damn business, Jackson!" he shouted back, before staring back at Seokjin, crossing his arms. "Hyung, why are you at my seat?"

"Just felt like it," he said with a shrug, swinging left to right and back. "I didn’t touch your stuff, I promise! Was going to ask you if you didn’t mind accompanying me to the cafeteria."

"Oh, of course," he replied, though his gut feeling told him something was off today.

Their private walk to the cafeteria was surprisingly free and easy, and Namjoon began to relax. The place completely empty today, save for a couple of food stalls that were open for the occasional student here and there - after all, the Third Years were all having their exam. Seokjin helped himself to a cup of iced tea and sat down at the far end of the large space.

"Sorry for dragging you here, I’m just kind of bored. I have to wait for the exams to end; duty calls and all."

"It’s nothing," Namjoon replied, sitting opposite him, resting a cheek on his palm.

"Anyway, I asked you here because I… kind of wanted some private time with you."

Namjoon nodded in a rather vague, absentminded way.

"You know how everyone seems to think we’re like, a thing now?"

"Really? It’s that serious?" He thought back to Jackson’s strange words from earlier, and nodded his head again.

"I was wondering if it was a legitimate thing." He leaned in across the table, closer towards Namjoon’s face. "You like me, don’t you?"

"Huh? I, uh… but, why would you think so?" Namjoon couldn’t exactly deny it, but admitting it felt wrong, too. After all, Seokjin was a still senior colleague-

"It just seemed kind of obvious, especially when you stared at me shirtless that day. And you’ve always been so nice to me, you know?"

"Yeah." Namjoon realised he had nothing else to say in his own defense.

Seokjin stared at his cup as he finished its contents. "Damn it," he muttered. "I wanted an actual confession from you."

"Oh. Wait, what?"

"Why are you so dumb sometimes? Joonie, I like you. A lot. " He blinked a few times. "I just wanted you to say that you like me back."

"What? But I-"

He stood up suddenly, shaking his empty cup. "It’s okay. I’m done anyways, let’s go."

"Wait," said Namjoon, rushing towards him and hurriedly grabbed his arm. "I do!"

"What do you mean ‘I do’? This isn’t a marriage proposal." Seokjin gave him a crinkled-eye laugh. "You… your tie is crooked."

He walked even closer, tugging at his barely crooked tie, until Namjoon realised whatever he was doing was making it even looser.

"Hyung-"

Before he could say anything else, the guy had already leaned forward, his lips at his neck. The only reason he had stopped moving was because Namjoon suddenly held his hands out, stopping him in place.

"C’mon," Seokjin urged, eyes filled with desire. "Everyone’s been waiting for this. Let me have it."

"Hey, d-don’t you think it’s a little too fast?"

"Too fast? Fuck’s sake, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this. It’s been months. God, it’s been over half a year."

"You’ve always liked me?"

"Yeah." Seokjin chuckled to himself. "Took you a while to realise."

Namjoon looked around the cafeteria, checking his surroundings for any stray witnesses, to find none.

"Just a kiss, okay?" he relented.

Seokjin didn’t even reply. He just wrapped his arms around his neck and leaned in. And when their lips touched, Namjoon realised that this was all that he had ever wanted.

 

~~~~

 

"Tae, you said you were going to tell me about the surprise," said Jimin, seeming excited.

Everyone’s exams were over, which called for a mini-feast down at Jimin’s usual place. The plates and clay pots took up every inch of empty space on their joint table, and they were devouring it at an impressive speed.

"Okay, so... yes. Uh... Yoongi-hyung..." He made a hand motion that signalled 'turn around'. Yoongi complied immediately, as if they had already rehearsed it, and let his dongsaeng lift up his shirt, revealing a small, yet beautiful phoenix-like marking.

The others were dumbfounded. Clearly, it was too much to process in a single moment, because they stared at it in silence, and for a good five seconds.

Jungkook literally stood up from his seat. "Hyung, I know you told me about the thing but-  I thought you didn't have a soulbrand?!"

"I didn't," he replied with a wry smile. "Something... really strange happened."

Taehyung then rested his palm against the markings, and to the shock of the others it started to glow bright orange.

The table started to shake with their sudden cries of disbelief, and it wasn’t just the taboo of touching another person’s soulbrand in public.

"Tae, I thought you just...?!" yelled a very shaken Jimin. "How the- why- how?!"

"You're soulmates?!" went Hoseok, pointing a finger at the both of them, and then grabbing his own head. "But the- what?"

"The marks are tiny, though..."

"Is this a prank?" asked Seungwon, still sceptical. "Is it actually some sort of fake soulbrand?"

The two of them slowly shook their heads.

"Then how?! "

"We kind of don’t know, to be honest..." said Yoongi, sighing. "I followed Taehyung home that day. He was looking so weak so I didn't want him to collapse on the way back or something. I don't know what happened but I ended up comforting him and uh... kissing him-"

Hoseok made a screeching noise, while Seungwon gasped. "I knew it!"

Jimin grinned. "I always knew the two of you were gay as fuck for each other."

"So then that sudden soulbrand thing happened?" asked Jungkook.

The two nodded.

"Did you get it checked, though?" questioned Jimin.

"We went the next morning," Yoongi explained. "Turns out we're not the first people who experienced it, but they say it's pretty rare. The girl was talking about some compatibility theory… didn’t hear a lot of it. But you know how soulbrands are like, a little part of another person’s soul inside of you, right? Whatever that happened, basically helped to heal the physical trauma from losing that piece of soul."

Taehyung cut in. "They actually wanted to examine us for research, but then suneung happened, so we had to say no. They only took some scans... and now that we've ended they are seeing if there's still some useful data a few weeks after the, uh, incident."

"It’s good, I think. They’re trying to use it to help treat other SDT patients."

"Oh, neat!" went Seungwon.

"Can I just say something though?" Yoongi pointed a hand outwards as he asked. "The soulbrand might have lit up and all, but I didn’t feel anything weird. It’s more of a healing mark so it doesn’t have the effect, the doctors said so, so get your head out of the gutter!"

"Whose head is in the gutter?" laughed Hoseok. "You’re the one pointing it out!"

"Right…" Yoongi coughed. "By the way, who’s paying for all this?"

"Someone’s paying for everything?!" exclaimed a horrified Jimin. "I already gave the money- Hey, I’m not spending all my allowance on you guys. You’re paying me your share later. Serves you right, Yoongi-hyung, for getting the most expensive item on the menu."

"Oh, okay. Taehyungie, remember to pay him my share, hehehe..." Taehyung sighed, while Yoongi let out an evil chuckle that unsettled even Jimin.

"You two," he asked, shaking of the strange feeling. "Why do I feel like you guys have some sort of deal going on… And you! Why are you giving me that smug look?"

"I know what you did that day," Yoongi chanted mysteriously, sending Jimin into a world of confusion and flashbacks.

"I can’t believe you’d betray me like this, Jimin," cried Taehyung, though despite his voice he had a look of intense amusement. "How could you?!"

"How could I what? What did I do?!"

"Is it a bet of some kind?" Seungwon pondered over the matter.

"Okay, I’m really confused right now..." said Hoseok, furrowing his eyebrows into a cute frown. "You! Jungkook-sshi! Why are you hiding your face?"

Now that he had attracted the gang’s attention, Jungkook spun away, hiding with his cap on his face. Hoseok peered in through the hole, noticing his eyes were squeezed tight, before struggling to get it off and snatch it away.

The cap was off, and Jungkook’s face burned bright red for the world to see.

"Kookie? Why are you so- oh my god." He turned towards the newer couple, giving them a deadly smile. "Tell me you guys did not make a bet out of that!" He banged his fist on the table, sending the entire table into a hysterical fit.

"Why is this so funny?" chortled Hoseok, tears in his eyes. "I don’t even get what’s happening?"

"I hope…" Taehyung forced his words out in the form of a wheeze. "I hope the two of you used protection..."

Chaos ensued. Jimin had lunged for Taehyung’s neck, strangling him while gritting his teeth, resulting in a sharp cry for help. Jungkook hid his face again, and Yoongi looked like he nearly bust a hip from laughing so hard. The eatery staff nearby thought a fight had broken out at that table, before she realised it was just Jimin and his friend, and then sighed.

The realisation crashed down onto the two remaining friends, dousing them in cold water.

Seungwon nearly choked. "Oh, I can’t believe this, my head hurts. This is too much couple stuff even for me. Hoseok, let’s just eat."

"Yeah, fuck this shit, I’m out."

Upon saying that, the two stared at each other in silence, before breaking out into laughter, belting the lyrics to ‘Fuck This Shit I’m Out’. Ironically, Hoseok had clung onto Yoongi the whole time, swaying him from side to side much to his protest.

Taehyung was finally free from Jimin’s chokehold, but he clearly had a death wish, because then he asked, "You have to tell us eventually. How hot was he while under you?"

"I mean, he was- ah, damn you!" Jimin exclaimed, failing to suppress his urge to laugh. "Is it any of your damn business? He’s my boyfriend, not yours, you fucking apricot!"

"What?! Why am I an apricot?!"

It was truly chaotic. Jungkook was the only one left unscathed, though his whole body threatened to shrivel up in embarrassment. He couldn’t help but smile, though - these were the kind of friends he’d wanted all his life, and here they were now.

Chapter Text

Taehyung always thought Yoongi looked extremely cool whenever he played in a match. He wasn’t in the main lineup, so he sat on the bench while watching his teammates play. He didn’t mind, though. It meant he could watch his boyfriend shine on the court.

"Min Yoongi-hyung!" yelled a loud, piercing voice from the stands. "Fighting!"

Taehyung instantly knew it was from Jimin. He continued to hear cheers of support for Yoongi, no doubt from his other friends. It was amazing how so many schoolmates had turned up, despite having to come all the way here, in the opponent’s home court.

Ever since exams had ended for all of them, they’d been practicing hard for their basketball tournament. And now here they were, rising to the finals as their seniors had done.

It would be the third years’ last match.

Yoongi held up a thumbs up at the crowd before the round started, the whistle blowing.

The ball bounced between the control of both teams, until it finally ended up in the hands of the SOTA team’s shooting guard. Yoongi dribbled the ball down the court smoothly, leaving Taehyung staring at him with starry eyes.

‘God, he looks so cool.’

He lost the ball to the centre, causing the visiting team’s supporters to cry out in pain.

"Don’t mind! Let’s go, hyung!" Taehyung shouted, and his benchmates followed suit. Yoongi had quickly regained his nerve and got on high alert.

Their opponents scored in that first bout. But Yoongi refused to hold back the second time. He got close enough for a three pointer, shooting with perfect aim.

The crowd went wild for him, and he could hear friends and teammates scream out his name.

‘He’s the hottest guy in this court,’ Taehyung thought proudly.

The match went on, with both sides snatching every point they could get. SOTA was at a slight disadvantage.

"Number 17, subbing for Number 4."

"Taehyung, fighting!" yelled a voice that said guy was surprised came from not Jimin, but Jungkook instead.

"Tae-tae, I love you!"

That one definitely came from Jimin.

"Tae, make us proud!" Hoseok and Seungwon had yelled simultaneously, giving the feel of an uncle and aunt.

Taehyung proudly carried the little board onto the court, passing it to his teammate - none other than Sunhwan, that boy who was part of all that drama from earlier that year.

Taehyung wondered how they’d be like if that never happened, if they never had that chance to know Jungkook. Then again, as Jimin’s soulmate, perhaps fate would have found another way to bring them together.

The whistle blew, and they sprang into action.

With the two on court together, Yoongi’s confidence rose. They had brilliant synergy, with Taehyung as his small forward, passing to him once he ran into an opportune spot. From the three-point range, Yoongi took a gamble and shot, and the ball barely tipped into the net.

The whistle blew, and the team immediately gathered for a communal fist bump.

That was the lucky shot that won them this match. But when their opponent switched out for their ace player in the next round, their slight victory hit a roadblock. The current point guard was clearly a legend compared to normal players like them. SOTA had always exploited their strongest suit, synergy and teamwork, but that was nothing against pure talent.

They’d lost the finals in the end, but their silver cup was enough. And as the whole SOTA team huddled together, cheering each other on, they smiled together, congratulating each other.

They’d scattered and ran towards the opponent team in a single file, high-fiving them all. They bowed at everyone: the referees, their coaches, and the supporting crowd. The high was still there, despite the game coming to an end.

Yoongi was still a little sour from his loss. Powerhouses really could make a difference, and an unfair one at that. But hearing the crowd cheer, and looking into Taehyung’s shining eyes, he felt like he hadn’t lost at all.

They ran towards each other while still at the side of the big court, and their hands touched, gently. They looked at each other, love burning in their gaze when they leaned in, their lips sparking as they met.

Their opponent team was obviously stunned at the sight. But their team started yelling, despite the overwhelming majority of straight boys in there. A few started waving their towels in the air, while most of their supporters shouted in approval.

His friends were obviously screaming their heads off too. Jimin and Jungkook were having a little fanboy moment together. Hoseok had practically fallen over his seat, while Seungwon was filming the whole thing.

She swore it was for home video purposes.

Whatever it was, the basketball tournament had ended in bittersweet happiness.

 

~~~~

 

The day had arrived soon enough.

The date of Graduation Day.

The third years present all wore their formal gowns, and sat in the hall, waiting for their name to be called out. Their families and friend were present, crowding the guest seats and the gallery.

Jungkook sat at a seat in solitude, silently watching the ceremony while clutching multiple bundles of flowers in his hands. The parents and friends who sat near him looked at him in wonder. The flowers seemed to be specially arranged, with each bundle differing from the next, and a huge bouquet of multi-coloured roses in the centre.

If the onlookers knew that he had arranged them all by hand, they would gasp in shock - who was this young student, and who were the group of graduates he obviously cared so much about?

They wouldn’t know that these people had changed his life forever. They were his closest friends.

As they walked up on stage, one by one, he cheered softly for each one of them.

Yoongi. Taehyung. Hoseok. Seungwon.

He saw Yugyeom, Bambam and Jaebum, and he cheered for them too.

And then he saw Jimin. He shone the brightest in his little lovestruck eyes. His angel, his everything. And he looked so happy to be there, to be graduating.

Sitting in the crowd, surrounded by parents and other friends he didn’t know, Jungkook finally felt it for the first time.

He was going to be alone.

He made a few friends in his year, but they weren’t as close as the third years were.

He would no longer see them in school. They’d be in college or uni, or wherever else that was too busy for high school. His friends would come back, but only occasionally.

He didn’t know if he’d get closer to anyone next year.

He would never get that same chemistry he felt when he was with his third year friends.

It stung at his heart, but he eventually calmed down. He wasn’t hurt or upset. Instead, a smile naturally formed on his face, as he wished his friends well.

He would cherish this moment while it lasted.

 

~~~~

 

When the ceremony ended, a bustle erupted in the school courtyard. Newly graduates scoured around for their friends, taking lots of photos together. Some had hurried home to avoid the massive crowd, some had stayed in the corner for the buffet. Parents hugged their children, proud of their milestone achievement.

Jungkook’s friends had all gathered in a small spot under a tree, waiting for Jungkook to arrive.

"I can’t believe this," said Hoseok, in a voice that sounded like a whisper in the noisy crowd. "We did it."

"We made it through," Taehyung agreed. "It’s over. High school is over."

Yoongi held his mouth. "I can’t believe I just graduated. I almost thought I’d drop out…"

"You wouldn’t, and you didn’t," Taehyung comforted him with a warm hug.

"Hyungs! Noona!"

A loud voice could be barely heard in the distance, gradually growing even louder as they turned their heads towards the sound. It was Jungkook, headed towards them with a brisk jog, balancing all the flowers in his arms with some difficulty.

"Wow, Jungkook-ah!" Seungwon exclaimed. "What is this?"

Said guy grinned as he came to a stop and lifted them up, proudly displaying them all. "Flowers. For all of you. You all worked hard."

"Woah, these flowers are really pretty..." Yoongi took the time to marvel the craftsmanship, as Jungkook handed him one.

"Jungkookie, you're such a nice guy..." Taehyung gushed, as he received one too. "If only someone did stuff like this for me often."

Yoongi squinted at him. "Are you saying I don't spoil you enough?"

"No, no, uh, I'm just so happy that our Jeon Jungkookie is so nice."

Ignoring the two, Hoseok gave him a radiant smile as he got his, admiring the petals. "Jungkook-ah, you're the best!"

Seungwon blushed when she held hers, but her facial expression was that of friendly glee. "This is the first time I've gotten flowers from a boy..."

Finally, there was one more to give away.

"For my Jimin."

Jungkook held out the bouquet to his lover, who received it with both hands, their fingers touching. They lingered perhaps a little too long on each other, before Jimin finally took it in his arms, blushing so hard he had to cover his face with the flowers.

The others, sensing the mood change, began to vacate the area and subtly prevent anyone else from disturbing them.

"You... you arranged it yourself again, didn't you?"

Jungkook nodded, grinning. "I made sure to take extra care of yours."

"You really didn't have to..."

"Of course I did. You're my special hyung." There was the most childish adoration written all over his face, which quickly faded. "Oh, and I finally got us rings."

Jimin stared at him, his eyes wide and unblinking. Jungkook simply smiled, and pointed at the ribbon tying the bouquet together. Attached to the underside of the fabric was a pair of silvery couple rings.

(Couple rings were usually given after a hundred days of serious dating. In that sense, they were really late to this whole affair.)

Jimin gingerly plucked them off and examined the engraving. One of them read 'Jungkookie <3'.

"This is...?" Jimin grinned in amusement. "It's your name in my contacts."

"Read the other one."

Jimin quickly switched the two rings' positions, squinting at the words which read 'My Mochi <3'.

"Seriously?!" Jimin couldn't help but laugh out loud. "That's what you saved my contact as?"

And this was a guy who only named contacts after their real names.

"My mochi," Jungkook repeated playfully. "My Jiminie-oppa."

The guy squirmed in place, laughing and turning away. "You're too good at making me blush."

"That's because it's so easy," he teased, puffing up one cheek and pulling his lips into a smirk. "Anyway..."

He coaxed the ring engraved 'My Mochi <3' from Jimin's fingers, and then with one hand gently held Jimin's palm. He then slid the ring onto his fourth finger, which fit perfectly. A little too perfectly, in fact.

"Wait, how did you manage to get my finger size?" asked Jimin, a little suspicious.

"I have my methods." Jungkook seemed very satisfied with himself.

Sighing, Jimin helped Jungkook put on his ring as well, then kissed it gently.

"These rings," Jimin murmured, lips still near Jungkook’s knuckles. "This means... that we're engaged, right?"

Jungkook nodded in agreement, and leaned forward to kiss his forehead. "It means whatever you want it to mean. I love you."

"I'll make sure to see you from school as often as I can," Jimin quietly promised, his voice starting to choke up. "I'll buy you good food every day."

"One day, I'll be able to cook for you every day." All of a sudden, Jungkook started to laugh. "I'm really proud of you, hyung."

On the other hand, Jimin was crying uncontrollably into his shoulder. Patting his back, Jungkook kissed his ear.

"I don't want to leave you," Jimin burbled. "Being with you was one of the best things that happened this year."

"I'll text you. Like constantly. I swear I'll stop leaving you on read..."

"Jungkook-ah, I don't want to leave everyone else.I don't want to leave school..."

The younger guy kissed his ear again. "They're still here, you know. You can still talk to them."

Jimin nodded. "Mmhm. But... my face..."

"I'll get tissues for you. Hold on."

With lightning speed, Jungkook ran to the restroom and pulled a long roll of toilet paper out. He attempted to wipe clean his damp shoulder, but quickly gave up.

When he came back, he found Jimin already surrounded by their other friends, who looked at him accusingly.

"You!" Hoseok mock-shouted. "What kind of man abandons his boyfriend to cry alone?"

"It’s not like that," Jimin defended him. "It was just for a few seconds-"

"I was getting tissues for him." He handed the wad of tissues to the still sniffling guy, who gratefully accepted.

"Oh. Look, what a great boyfriend," said Hoseok, which tickled the others immensely.

Seungwon snickered. "Weren't you saying the opposite thing earlier?"

"Everyone..." Jungkook took in a long sigh. "I'll miss you so much. Jimin-hyung, you especially. I'll make sure to reply in the group chat more often... I promise..."

"You better keep your word," said Taehyung, laughing.

"I'll be working towards my debut, so I'll be busy," said Yoongi. "I'll do my best to keep in touch."

"We'll make sure to support you! I'll tell everyone at college about you!"

"I'll tell my classmates about you," said Jungkook. "If I like them enough."

"I'll buy five of your albums," said Hoseok extravagantly. "I'll be your extra publicity wing."

"Go, Yoongi! Fighting!" yelled Seungwon, and Jimin did the same. They all wished each other well, promising their friendship wouldn’t come to an end.

 

~~~~

 

The hours flew past in a blur.

The teachers were pretty much hounded by all the eager, sentimental students who treasured them - especially the more popular ones.

"Seokjin-seom!!"

This hotshot in particular had an entire army of girls surrounding him, asking for pictures. He felt a little embarrassed - he wanted to spend some time with Namjoon after the ceremony - but for the most part, he kept on a happy, charming demeanour as he gladly signed their yearbooks.

Jimin spotted him in the distance and wiped away a few stray tears.

"I have a few words to say to him," he told the rest of the gang in a semi-soft whisper. Some of them understood immediately, while some of them didn’t, but helped him sift through the sea of fans anyway.

“Seokjin-seom!” Jimin yelled with his surprisingly well-projected voice, attracting the crowd’s attention.

"I’ll never forget the things you’ve done for me. I wasn’t even your student last year, but you cared for me like your own. I’m sorry I never said much, and I’m sorry I get exasperated with you sometimes. I will forever be grateful, seom! Thank you for saving me!"

Save?! The surrounding crowd went into a hushed hubbub, wondering what it meant.

Seokjin simply gave him a kind smile. "I didn’t do that much. You saved you from yourself."

Jungkook quickly pulled Taehyung aside. "What happened?" he asked.

"Jimin used to have a lot of self-esteem issues," was Taehyung’s reply, looking like he was staring at a past memory. "Especially about his appearance."

"What? I never knew about anything…"

Taehyung felt Jungkook’s mood drop immediately. He could sense that the younger guy felt disappointed in himself, not just as a boyfriend, but as a friend.

"Don’t worry, Jeon Jungkookie," he added comfortingly. "Jimin might not be comfortable talking about it, but he’s in a better place. He really respects Seokjin-seom for what he did for him."

" I… hope it’s better now, whatever it is. "

"I’m sure he’ll talk to you about it when he’s ready. " Taehyung sighed. "I’m guessing this might be the last time they see each other, so it’s good Jimin is saying these things out."

Jungkook spotted Namjoon somewhere near the periphery of the crowd, staring in with a proud parent look. He looked back at Jimin, clenched his fists, and made a decision.

He sucked in a deep breath and bellowed with all his might.

"NAMJOON-SEOM!"

The shock generated by this one action silenced the entire crowd.

"Seom, I’ve always looked up to and respected you the most. You helped me understand how teachers love their students, and look after them like their own children!"

Jungkook bowed so deeply that his body nearly made a right angle.

"I’m thankful for your guidance!"

Nothing sensational was spoken during his short speech. But coming from a silent figure like him, this tidal wave was a tsunami.

The crowd immediately shuffled to form a pathway between the two students. Jungkook was the first to dash forward, nearly crashing into his teacher but stopping just a hair’s breadth away. Namjoon was stunned, but recovered quickly, and rested both hands on his student’s shoulders.

"You’re a good kid," he said to him, a bright grin on his face. "You’re going far in life, no matter what you set your heart on."

Jungkook was trembling from emotion.

"Do well for next year’s suneung!"

"I will."

His tone was strong and resolute. There was something about the way his determination reverberated throughout the area that made the graduating students feel a burst of courage for the future.

They were the youth of today. They were the voice of their generation. They were graduating to enter the outside world, and they would prove themselves.

Jimin pulled away from his teacher and glanced once more at the people he knew. The friends who had been with him throughout the years of his high school life. The dongsaeng, the soulmate who gave that final year a polished luster.

They grew up together. They were now all grown up, together, emerged from their chrysalis.

They are the shining pillars of tomorrow. And they will soar up high, with those tiny, brave new wings.

Chapter Text

 "Gah, I'm so scared. Is Jungkook gonna like this? Oh my god, I'm so nervous-"

"Get your nerves worked up after you get to Hawaii, you dumbass." Seungwon whacked Jimin on the shoulder, looking at him with a berating gaze.

Meanwhile, Jungkook was rubbing his hands, fidgeting in his seat. "Hyung, Jimin's going to like it, right? Sorry, I just can't calm down..."

Yoongi sighed. "You do know that your fiancé is in the same plane, right?"

"It's cute to see you get so worked up, Kookie," said Taehyung, who was sitting on Yoongi’s other side. Jungkook simply huffed and folded his arms, much like a little kid.

Hoseok, who had started laughing every other minute since an hour ago from those two, tried to hold it in while talking this time.

"The two of you are seriously..." He fell over his own seat. "You guys are literally sitting next to each other. The only thing separating the two of you is the aisle, and you're already getting separation anxiety. I'm so..."

Almost simultaneously, Jimin and Jungkook turned towards each other. As they made eye contact, they grinned, and started forming hearts with their fingers and hands, to each other.

Seungwon snorted. "This... is this what people in love are like?"

"No," both Yoongi and Taehyung replied at the same time. Then Yoongi continued, "We're nowhere near their level of lovesick.

"Could it be because your bond is unusual?"

"I doubt so... I mean, just look at them."

The two lovebirds reached their hands out across the aisle to link fingers. They swung it around happily, until the flight attendant had to walk past.

"Didn't you want to sit further apart because you guys didn't want to make physical contact until the wedding?" Seungwon not-so-kindly reminded them. "You’re going back on your word..."

"It only applies after we reach Hawaii," Jimin rebutted.

"Yeah," Jungkook nodded furiously.

"Why are you guys... acting like five-year-olds..." Hoseok was still dying in his seat from laughter. "Jimin, we're twenty-fucking-five ."

"Don't remind me," Jimin groaned in reply.

 

~~~~

 

The plane eventually landed, and the six of them stepped out into the airport, where they were immediately hit with the strong scents of Hawaii's island paradise vibe. By the time they reached, it was already eight in the evening there.

After walking around in circles looking for the luggage collection, they dragged their huge luggages to the check-out, and after getting all the paperwork and marriage licenses sorted out, they managed to get a quick bite before finding their way to their lodgings.

While Jimin and Jungkook struggled with English at the hotel reception, Hoseok stepped in to save their sorry asses, and helped them with their reservations.

"Oh, honeymoon?" asked the receptionist.

"Wedding," Jungkook confidently replied.

"Oh, with who? That lovely lady over there?" She was clearly pointing towards Seungwon.

"No." Jimin knew at least that much English. "With me."

He linked arms with his fiancé, possessively clinging to him.

"Wow, congratulations," the receptionist replied, a little surprised but genuinely pleased.

"Thank you!"

Meanwhile, a tourist who had also booked that same hotel must have recognised Yoongi, because she went up to him and asked if he was Min Suga.

"Yes, I am," he replied simply.

The fan struggled to contain her excitement. Suga was in one of the most widely popular, wildly successful boy groups in the world. Seeing him all the way here in Hawaii was a dream come true.

"Can I have an autograph?" she asked nervously.

Most idols recognised the word 'autograph', and Yoongi surely did. He smiled and said, "Okay."

As the fan pulled out her autograph book, he couldn't help but recall the first autograph he had ever made, back in high school. He wondered how the girl was doing now.

Soon, they had all checked into the hotel. They had booked this same hotel for convenience's sake, but both Seungwon and Hoseok made sure they booked their rooms far, far away from the two couples. The to-be-husbands did promise to leave the action till the wedding night, but it didn't hurt to play it safe. And as for Yoongi and Taehyung... knowing that the two were seriously into some kinks made them avoid this couple even more vehemently than the other.

"Alright, goodnight everyone," Jimin called out to the others as he stepped out of the lift doors with Jungkook, their hands intertwined. "Wake up early tomorrow guys!"

"Goodnight!" the others called. Eventually, Yoongi and Taehyung got off at their floor, too.

Seungwon and Hoseok gave each other a fistbump before going into their own rooms.

 

~~~~

 

Jungkook was the first to collapse on the king-sized bed. "Ah... I'm so tired..."

"Jungkookie," said guy heard his fiancé call out sweetly. He didn't expect the man to directly leap onto him, though, causing him to cry out in shock and pain.

"Sorry," said Jimin, not sounding sorry at all. "It's just that being in this kind of room all to ourselves makes me feel really… really into it, you know?"

He let his eyelids flutter, not-so-innocently, leaning in for a kiss. His hands sneaked in under Jungkook’s shirt, teasing at the sides of his torso, nearly touching his back -

Jungkook stopped his arms in place. "Jiminie, if you need to, you can go jerk off yourself."

Jimin pouted. "Why are you so mean to me..."

"Hey, we promised. Good things come to those who wait."

"Goddamnit, fine."

Watching him head into the bathroom, Jungkook stared at the door he walked through, long after it had already closed.

'Trust me, I'll make sure you won't walk straight during our honeymoon.'

 

~~~~

 

The next morning, they had absolutely no idea what they were going to wear. Their friends had already picked out matching suits for both of them, taking painstaking measures not to reveal them.

Then their friends came barging into their hotel room, along with a group of makeup artists. Seungwon kicked Jungkook out for Hoseok and Yoongi to take care of, and they thus left swiftly.

Meanwhile, Seungwon and Taehyung stayed to get Jimin ready for the big event. First they got him to wear his suit - a shiny dark red tuxedo top with several black accented on the collar, the bow tie, and black pants. Then, the makeup artists began doing their work on his face, his hair, while Taehyung sorted out the accessories and Seungwon nagged at him.

"You better make sure you're in top condition," she told him sternly. "Let your soon-to-be husband see the best side of you. You can do this! Fighting!"

Hoseok and Yoongi had a very similar set up, with Yoongi fussing over his hair, collar, and other paraphernalia, while Hoseok was with the pep talk.

"You look absolutely amazing," Hoseok praised, admiring the suit he helped to pick out. It was essentially a reverse of Jimin’s suit, except it had a proper matte red tie instead.

Jungkook stared at himself in the mirror. "Yeah, I do," he said in self-praise. "I wonder how Jimin’s looks like…"

"Can’t tell you," Hoseok teased.

"They are going to look so good together," Yoongi commented, staring at the mirror as well.

 

~~~~

 

Their wedding wasn’t until late afternoon, but their photoshoot began now. They had to have it here, with all those beautiful sights right in front of their very eyes.

Jimin and Jungkook found themselves getting endearingly annoyed with their friends as they demanded them to keep themselves apart until the actual photoshoot, lest it spoil the surprise. They played along, sitting in separate cars, wondering what the other was wearing.

Jungkook had arrived first. He got out, and waited for the car up ahead to reach them. He was then quickly hidden from view by Yoongi and Hoseok, who insisted they stood in front of him.

"You don’t want him seeing you before you see him, right?"

Jungkook couldn’t help but laugh while nodding.

When the next car had stopped, when the door opened, Jungkook had his breath held even when his groom stepped out onto the path.

‘Holy fuck.’

Their eyes met once, but then went everywhere else after. Jungkook could feel himself go numb everywhere, except for his heart, which pumped wildly.

Jimin’s chest felt like it was filled with sweet syrup - he was this close to screaming in front of all his friends.

Their friends were right. They looked so fucking good.

Jimin wanted nothing else but to tackle Jungkook to the ground and kiss him, right there and then. Jungkook’s mind was still struggling between adoration and sexual frustration.

Eventually, they locked hands and gave each other a little peck, just for the sake of their friends. (Though it actually seemed like their friends were disappointed at the lack of boy on boy action.)

They had hired a photographer, but Taehyung couldn’t help but take a quarter of their photos himself.

They were having a beach wedding too, so a lot their photos were taken on a nearby stretch of sand. They stood by the water, carefully stepped across the rockier shores, lay in the sand, and dipped their toes into the foamy waves.

 

~~~~

 

By the time the sun started falling from the blue sky, the lights on their cozy, outdoor wedding venue glowed bright enough for their guests to spot it easily.

Their friends and immediate family had arrived that afternoon on a separate plane.

Yugyeom and Jaebum were there. Bambam couldn’t make it to the wedding, but Jimin recalled, with a grimace, the wedding gift he sent in advance: a box containing an overwhelming range of questionable toys.

Jimin’s entire dance crew arrived, which still shocked said groom, even though they’d already told him beforehand. They were all rather close, and rather approving of Jungkook, who had wowed them with his surprising dance skills.

Several of Jungkook’s colleagues had arrived as well. They made films together, and gave each other a lot of artistic guidance. They had also become friends in the process, so even Jimin liked these people quite a bit.

"Appa, eomma!" said Jimin as they walked in. He was more than excited to see them. "It’s been so long. Eomma, your dress looks so pretty."

"Oh, it’s nothing." Jimin’s mother looked at him with a bright, proud smile. "You two look so good together."

"Two handsome young men," his father added, patting them both on the shoulder. "We’re both very proud."

Jungkook’s family had arrived too, all greeting them with incredible warmth. His brother seemed more excited for the wedding than he was.

A slightly older couple made their way to the celebrations, hand in hand, with a 70,000 won gift. Once the grooms saw them enter, they immediately let out a gasp.

"N-namjoon-seom, Seokjin-seom!"

Both looked very slick and very well-dressed, looking good next to each other.

"We already told you, we're not your teachers anymore," said Namjoon, with a small laugh. "Congratulations, Jimin-ah, Jungkook-ah."

"I... I can't believe you made it! All the way here too."

"Of course," Seokjin replied cheerily. "You came to our wedding too, so we had to return the favour."

The beach-goers occasionally dropped by for a quick look, attracted by the commotion. They often commented on the double grooms: some pointed it out in mirth, some with slight disdain. Jimin and Jungkook smiled at them all the same, waving at them. This was their day, and the crowd’s opinion was none of their business. It was their time to be happy.

 

The evening had passed too quickly. The procession began, and the two found their way up the stage, facing each other, barely apart.

"Friends and family," the officiant announced, keeping it casual. "I believe the grooms need no further introduction. We are gathered here today to witness their union."

The witnesses watched in excitement, waiting for them to exchange their vows, knowing that they had handwritten them personally.

Jungkook went first.

"Jiminie, I’m not exaggerating when I say you’re my favourite person in the world. You know me, I usually don’t like people. People tire me out. But I feel like I’ll never, ever get tired of you.

"Remember I promised, when you graduated, that I’d cook for you every day? I’ve been so busy with work that sometimes, I’m not able to do that for you. But you always understand me.

"Maybe we won’t fulfill all our promises. But I’ll never hold it against you, the same way you never hold it against me. I make these vows with all my heart.

"You’re my angel, my everything. I promise to always take care of you."

The crowd made a collective ‘aww’ sound at his speech.

Jimin already had a hand clamped to his mouth, his eyes smiling, looking away every time their gazes met.

"Jungkookie, I think you already know this, but I’ll say it again. I love you. And I’ll keep loving you, even if you act like you’re older than me sometimes. Most of the time."

He giggled, as the crowd laughed.

"You’re amazing and talented, and I constantly feel so lucky to have you. You constantly inspire me to be the best person I can be, and I love you for that.

"We’ll always have fights. We will have times where things don’t go right. But I promise to never give up on you during those times.

"I promise I will always love you, no matter what happens. I mean, you’re my one and only soulmate... Jeon Jungkook, I love you. Again and always."

The witnesses smiled silently, touched by Jimin’s sincerity. The officiant smiled, finding no reason to delay their moment.

"May I have the rings?"

Taehyung brought them up, stepping onto the stage handsomely to present them with an opened box.

They were but two ordinary silver rings, but as they slid it into each other’s ring finger, they couldn’t help but think back to their high school days. Their couple rings had been plain and simple too, but they treasured them all the same. For old time’s sake, he kissed Jungkook’s knuckles, looking back up with him with a loving smile.

"Park Jimin and Jeon Jungkook. Do you take the other to be your beloved husband?" asked the officiant.

"I do," both replied in unison, smiling at each other.

"Then I now pronounce you married husbands! You know what to do."

Their crowd of friends started to cheer and clap, unable to hold their excitement, but neither minded. The ceremony had a hypnotic effect - all they could see was each other.

Then, the cheering suddenly morphed into an uproar. Jungkook grabbed Jimin by the neck, and Jimin grabbed tufts of Jungkook’s hair, narrowing their distance in an instant, making way for a passionate kiss.

 

~~~~

 

The nitty gritty details aside, they were officially husbands, recognised by the law of the state. It felt so surreal.

Their friends stood at the podium one by one to give out their speeches. The grooms each had one best man and maid of honour: Jimin with Taehyung and Seungwon, and Jungkook with Yoongi and Yugyeom. (Which one of them became maid of honour remains to be seen.)

"Please welcome Park Jimin’s best man, Taehyung, up on the stage for his speech!"

The crowd clapped, anticipating Taehyung’s speech as he tapped the mic on the podium.

"Hi, I’m Taehyung, as you all know. I’ve been Jimin’s closest buddy since forever, he’s my Number One Ultimate Best Friend Supreme, so don’t underestimate us! Anyway, I’m so glad my closest friends finally found the time to get married. I’m so proud.

"Okay, that aside, I’ve got some juicy info. Jeon Jungkookie, I’ll tell you a secret: Jimin shares everything with me. And as his husband, I think you deserve to know some stuff, so just ask me. About anything, I mean it." He grinned his loopy smile. "You know how, as a man, he needs to be… satisfied, in certain ways? Ask me, I know all about it."

"Taehyung!" Jimin scolded him, struggling to resist an embarrassed smile. "You can’t say that! My family is watching..."

"It’s true," Taehyung replied, sticking out his tongue.

As he walked off, another person walked where he just came.

"Next, please welcome Jimin’s beautiful maid of honour, Seungwon!"

"Hi everyone," she greeted everyone with a smiley expression. "Yay, it’s time for me to spill the tea, okay? Let me tell you how gross these two are with each other. They insist on feeding each other for every meal, and they always hold hands in public. They make each other blush all the time, and they have these cute movie nights where they have like, drinks and scented candles all around, and they cuddle and kiss and do god knows what. They have this whole cute domestic lifestyle already sorted out. Imagine how it’ll be once they’re actually married , goddamn."

Jungkook started to blush, and Jimin acted by kissing him on the cheek.

"Anyway, please give this couple your blessings, everyone!"

Everyone clapped - no one objected to that.

"Alright. Now, please put your hands together for Jeon Jungkook’s maid of honour: Yugyeom!"

The crowd burst into laughter as Yugyeom stared at the emcee in absolute disbelief. He eventually made it up the podium, though.

"Okay, first of all. Jungkook, I can’t believe you made me- ahem, upgraded me to maid of honour. Is this what our years of friendship has led to?"

The crowd whooped, and Yugyeom sighed in resignation.

"Anyway, this whole thing feels surreal even for me, I really have to give you two all my blessings. Jimin, you have to be careful rooming with him twenty-four seven, or you’ll start getting jealous of how talented he is at everything. Oh, and he’s surprisingly sensitive too, be gentle. Wait no, be rough with him, he likes that a lot apparently."

There were people in the crowd who chuckled heartily. Meanwhile, Jungkook was seriously reconsidering his choice of friends. Not. He was proud of his choice of Yugyeom, even if he had exposed him like that.

As he did so, sighing to himself endearingly, the emcee announced another name.

"Last but not least - Jeon Jungkook’s best man, Yoongi."

Yoongi walked up and spoke coolly, without a script.

"Okay, it’s time to expose our dear Jeon Jungkook. Jimin-ah, I know I’m not really in a position to tell you how thoughtful and kind Jungkook can be. But he really is. He talks about you way too much, seriously, and he likes talking about really inappropriate stuff... Anyway, I wrote a rap for a song that applies to you two. Sneak peek of my group’s comeback, everybody.

"You’re just like a butterfly
From afar, I steal glances; if we touch hands, will I lose you?
You shine in this pitch darkness that is the butterfly effect
Your light touches, I forget the reality at once

"I feel like the second verse is very applicable to them, because they literally could not stop touching each other in the plane. They were an aisle apart and they were already anxious. True love, everybody! Please support them!"

Everyone was tickled by his speech and burst into applause. Even Jimin and Jungkook couldn't help but burst into laughter at certain intervals.

 

~~~~

 

"It feels like you’ve all only just graduated," said Seokjin with a smile, as his former students surrounded him.

"Yeah," said Taehyung, nodding in agreement. "Sometimes I’m so busy with my actual acting schedule that I wish I was back in your class."

Yoongi let out a nostalgic sigh. "Yeah. I don’t know how I would’ve got to this point without my teachers."

"Psh, Yoongi’s just being humble," Hoseok interrupted. "Look at all the hit songs he produced. Now he’s an idol."

"And now Seokjin’s a senior teacher," said Namjoon, patting his waist.

"We all grew up so fast..." said Seungwon wistfully, quite like an old grandmother would.

"I grew old," Seokjin laughed. "You, Seungwon, I remember how you used to be a little detective, and a good one at that. Now you’re all grown up. How’s life? I know, it’s either coming into place or non-existent. Health? Career? Soulmate?"

"Haha." Seungwon gave them a strangely natural, yet strangely suspicious laugh. "You’re my old seom, so I’ll tell you. I’ve actually found my soulmate already."

"Ah, really? Did you bring him here?"

Seungwon pointed to the man beside her. "It’s him!"

The two of them stared at him in shock. Who knew that her soulmate would be none other than Jung Hoseok? The others around them nodded their heads, obviously already familiar with the news.

"Oh, congrats," said Seokjin first, still stunned by the revelation. "How long have you been together?"

Hoseok seemed a little embarrassed. "Oh, she’s not my…"

"We’re not dating. Haha," came the same laughter, "We’re not suited for that kind of relationship. He’s my partner in crime!"

"How come that sounds a little suspicious…" Namjoon scrutinised. "You’re both not involved any illegal activities, right?"

Seungwon made a ‘pft’ sound, while Hoseok just laughed. "Namjoon-seom, how could you have raised us to be such people?"

"Yeah, we’re law abiding citizens!"

"The way you say it makes it sound so..." Seokjin suppressed a laugh, obviously joking. "Anyway, that makes me curious, what do the two of you do?"

"Hm… I make some money doing art commissions for people. I work part-time on the side with him, though."

"Part-time?" questioned Namjoon. "For an influential crime syndicate?"

The room burst into laughter, including Seungwon. "Nah, just retail," she responded with a smile.

"We work at the same shop!” Hoseok added.

"Oh, which one? I might come by and support your brand a little."

"Nothing much, it’s not a huge brand. It’s just a fancy suit tailor. That’s how we got the grooms’ suits, you know."

"Wow, I’ve been needing a new suit! This one’s pretty old. Maybe you could help me get a staff discount?"

Joyous, light-hearted laughter spread across the room like soft butter. Namjoon couldn’t help but feel like those two weren’t working for just a suit shop, though…

 

~~~~

 

The wedding was coming to a wondrous close, and the guests still stayed on to the end - they travelled all the way to Hawaii just to enjoy it, why would they leave halfway? The beach buzzed with activity, socialisation everywhere.

"We have a surprise for the newly weds."

From behind the dressing room, Seungwon and Taehyung marched out with two large, beautiful, sparkling bridal gowns.

"We dare our two grooms to wear these gowns for an hour!" they both shouted, causing the entire venue to erupt in approval.

Jungkook looked on, wide-eyed and mouth agape, but Jimin looked pretty pleased.

"Jungkookie, we'll never get to wear bridal gowns any other time in our lives," Jimin said excitedly. "Let's do it!"

"Oh..." Jungkook was pretty nervous about the dresses, but seeing Jimin so excited made him feel a lot better. "Okay."

They disappeared into two separate toilet cubicles, dragged in by their friends. And when they finally walked out, they were greeted by a fanfare.

Jimin wore a beautiful pastel blue gown that was low-cut at the back, displaying his large butterfly as he turned around, showing it off to the crowd.

As embarrassed as he looked, Jimin looked absolutely stunning, garnering multiple catcalls from his friends. Even his parents seemed greatly amused.

"Have my babies!" hollered Taehyung. The context just made the comment funnier than it already was.

Jungkook was nowhere near as confident, but he still walked out with grace in all the glory of his pastel pink dress, inciting the cheers of the entire crowd.

They even wore their bridal veils, looking like actual brides if not for their unusually broad shoulders.

"Let’s take a wedding picture," Jimin suggested with a gasp. Jungkook nodded, his nervousness melting away once he saw him.

Now it looked like there was a second wedding in the hall, a matrimony of two beautiful women. The grooms gasped at their photo, pretending to not know who they were.

"Who is that gorgeous woman in pink?" Jimin exclaimed in mock astonishment. "I would marry her."

"What the hell? We just got married?" Jungkook scolded him, while still grinning. "And you’re gonna run off to some random woman? Do you even know her name?"

"Yeah, of course I know her name, it’s like, Junghee or something."

Jungkook blinked and broke down a little, an ‘I-swear-to-god’ expression on his face. "Are you serious? Although, to be honest, I’d rather marry Junghee than that woman in that ugly yellow dress. What’s with the hair, seriously-"

Before he could continue, Jimin had already attempted to kick him in the groin three times, breaking into laughter.

 

~~~~

 

Late in the night, when the guests began to retire to their rooms, Jungkook and Jimin (who had changed back into their suits) bade them goodbye, one by one. Jungkook had his arms wrapped around Jimin’s waist, tickling him at random moments just to get a laugh out of him.

"Stop it," said Jimin for the thousandth time.

Jungkook simply chuckled, and in a smug, sexy way as well. "Aren’t you excited for tonight?" he whispered into his ear. "Jiminie, don’t you think I’ve neglected you lately? I’ll make it up to you, okay?"

It took Jimin every fibre of his self-control to not have an embarrassing crisis in his pants.

"Bye guys," said Taehyung, as him and Yoongi walked towards them. "Me and Yoongs are about to faint from exhaustion. Have lots of fun!" He winked at Jimin. "Tell me all about it later, okay?"

"Will you ever stop teasing me with that?" Jimin sighed endearingly.

"No," was the cheeky reply.

"Tae, stop fooling around. Let’s go." Yoongi’s frustration was understandable, but he seemed unnaturally impatient today. "Bye, you two."

The two waved them goodbye. And after the other couple left, Jungkook might have nibbled on Jimin’s ear, and Jimin might have really, really liked it.

That was what it looked like to Seungwon and Hoseok, who gasped and grinned at the scandalous act. And perhaps that was what Namjoon and Seokjin saw as well, seeing as they were jumping about, fanboying with so much energy that they appeared to be twenty years younger.

 

~~~~

 

The next morning was the official start of their honeymoon, but they didn’t want it to be a private affair. Instead, while the rest of their guests went about their own ways, the friend gang remained intact, and began exploring the rest of Hawaii.

They really got into the mood with flower pattern shirts and bermudas. Yoongi was sipping on some fruit punch, which he shared with Taehyung. Seungwon and Hoseok even wore matching sunglasses.

Jungkook was playing with the rocks, quite like a little child. Jimin was so amused that he played along.

"Let's make a cairn!" he yelled, picking out a few flat stones.

The group gathered more of them and stacked them on top of one another, one stone for every person in the gang. Then they built another for their families, and then for their guests - there was a special one they named Namjin.

And by some freak twist of fate, Namjoon and Seokjin appeared behind them, surprised to have bumped into them. They had been on a little private trip themselves.

"Oh my god, we accidentally summoned Namjin," Hoseok yelled into the air. "Magic is real, you guys."

Taehyung laughed and held him back by the waist. "You’re always so extra..."

The older couple seemed amused - Seokjin even joked a little. "Think you still have space for two grandpas in your friend group?"

Jungkook shook his head immediately. "No way, we already have to deal with one." He looked slyly in Yoongi’s direction.

"You little shit, treat your hyung with more respect."

"It’s true, seven people is too much for him."

"Besides, Yoongi can only handle so much social interaction in his life," added Taehyung, which caused his boyfriend to shoot him a quick glare.

"Fuck off. It’s because you guys are too exhausting."

"Grandpa~" cooed Jimin.

Yoongi gave him a look of pure salt. "In other words, they’re part of our gang now."

"Woo!" went Namjoon, with a little laugh.

They hung out together, catching up on some old times. It seemed that despite their age difference, they got along well.

After a while, the newly weds seemed to distance themselves temporarily.

From the way Jungkook held Jimin in his arms, it was clear they wanted to be alone. Jimin pulled Jungkook’s arm along as he ran across the sandy beach, towards the edge of the land.

While the two of them were having their moment, Hoseok quickly ran over to the rest of the gang.

"Is it just me," he whispered, "Or are they falling over a lot? And walking a bit funny?"

"You just noticed?" went Taehyung, laughing.

Yoongi smirked. "Either symptoms of a hangover, or symptoms of a really good honeymoon night."

The group burst out in laughter.

"Don't you think it's romantic?" added Seungwon. "They got sore butts together, so now they're suffering together. Leave no man behind."

Taehyung grinned. "You mean, leave no man’s behind behind."

The gang fell over, clutching their stomachs while they attempted to withhold their laughter, hoping the other two hadn’t noticed the commotion.

"Taehyungie, I don't believe you two didn't do anything weird, either," said Seungwon in mock accusation.

He shrugged. "Whatever it was, we’re walking fine now."

Yoongi scoffed. "Yeah, we weren't stupid enough to make it harder to walk the next day."

"Hm... Oh, so that's a hickey I see?"

Yoongi nearly crushed his plastic cup. "Stop exposing me."

 

~~~~

 

"C’mon. Let’s sit by the waves, Kookie."

Jimin raised a hand. Jungkook let his fingers slip into them, interlocking their warm hands. He let Jimin pull him onto the sand, and he let the waves wash over his toes and sandals.

Then, he inched closer to him, making sure their arms touched.

"It’s amazing being here with you," he said with an earnest voice, sighing into the breeze. It was so sincere that it made Jimin blush.

"Of course it is. You’re here with me." He splashed the water with his toes, causing some stray droplets to land on Jungkook’s face.

"I still can’t believe it. We’re married now. We can officially adopt children."

"Yeah!" Jimin exclaimed excitedly. "Wait, before children, I want a dog. Or a cat."

"Yeah, we need an animal in our apartment. It’s been long overdue… You think we should get kids before I become famous?" asked Jungkook, cheek in tongue.

"Why not? Unless you want to put your career first."

"Hah, I wouldn’t mind becoming a house-husband for you."

Jimin whacked him lightly. "Idiot, go chase your dreams. I’ll take care of the rest."

"Do you think you’ll be able to handle kids?"

"Have some faith in me!" Jimin protested, causing Jungkook to break out into laughter. "Do you think you’ll be able to carry home an award for me one day?" he asked in joking.

Jungkook shrugged as he watched Jimin giggle his worries away, buried within the little lumps of sand he dug up, which then crumbled in his hands.

"Who knows what’ll happen?" Jungkook answered with a small smile.

He kissed Jimin on the forehead, knowing that everything would turn out alright in the end.