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 It started with a stove fire.

 It was during lunch rush, which Jimin was familiar with; he’d owned this café for nearly four years now, and he’d become a pro at mealtime rushes within the first few months he called the place his own. But Namjoon was still in training and Jimin had a migraine and four people in a row had ordered different variations of the same thing and it happened so quickly—the soup on the stove boiled over and the noodles went with it and suddenly his stove was on fire. Namjoon looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a freight train and customers were scattering with gasps of horror. Jimin kept calm enough to turn on a fan before grabbing Namjoon by the wrist and ushering him out of the building. To his dismay, he overhead a frantic customer on the phone with the fire department and within five minutes, there was a firetruck in the parking lot of his café, and Park Jimin had never in his life been so stressed.

 Two men hopped out of the truck, clad in thick firefighting gear, and Jimin felt embarrassment rising a blush in his face as one of them ventured into the café, the other asking around for the owner of the place. Jimin heard Namjoon exhale shakily next to him, and he glanced at his employee, hoping he could convey calm.

  “Me,” Jimin said, stepping forward towards the fireman. “This place is mine.”

 The man turned on him and Jimin was struck immediately by his eyes—round and dark and almost sparkling from within his helmet. They were young eyes, and as Jimin examined him further, he wondered how old this fireman really was.

  “You wanna tell me what happened?”

 Jimin’s defenses immediately rose at the man’s tone. It was hard and almost accusatory. He furrowed his eyebrows and crossed his arms.

  “You wanna try that again?” Jimin bit back, and the man tilted his head back, appraising Jimin in a way that would have made him uncomfortable if he wasn’t so angry. His migraine was pounding behind his eyes and his café had just nearly caught fire. He didn’t need or deserve this right now.

 The fireman lifted his hands to his helmet and pulled it off, revealing a head of dark hair and pierced ears. His cheekbones were high and his brows were thick, pulled together. Jimin could even say he was handsome, but he didn’t want to give the man that.

  “I said,” the fireman offered, tucking his helmet under his arm. “Do you want to tell me what happened here?”

 His tone hadn’t changed, if anything, it was purposefully harsher, and Jimin felt anger flaring in his chest. He opened his mouth to speak, maybe tell the guy to fuck off, but he felt a soft hand at his shoulder and heard Namjoon’s voice, calm and steady.

  “It was my fault,” Namjoon said, coming to stand at Jimin’s side. “I forgot about some soup and it boiled over and caught the stove on fire.” Namjoon was a good head and half taller than Jimin, even a little more so than the fireman himself. What Namjoon lacked in assertiveness, he made up for in height.

 The fireman looked Namjoon up and down once, aggravating the hostility Jimin already felt for him, and nodded. He looked ready to say something but his companion returned to his side, slipping his helmet off and shaking his head of chestnut hair.

  “All’s good in there,” he said, voice easy and nonchalant. “Must have went out before we made it because all I saw was smoke and burnt noodles.” He smiled bright and Jimin felt a little less angry. Only a little.

  “Thank you,” Jimin said, directed at the second fireman, and he noticed the first one stiffen. “I’m probably gonna close up early and get to cleaning so—” He reached a hand out to the second fireman, who shook it firmly.

 Namjoon nodded thanks to both firemen and Jimin dared to make eye contact with the one with the dark eyes. He was looking at Jimin with distaste apparent on his features.

  “Careful next time, yeah?” he spat, and if Jimin hadn’t been certain he’d break his hand on the man’s jaw, he would have punched him. He didn’t respond, only turned on his heel to walk back into his café with Namjoon close behind.

  “I’m sorry, Jimin,” Namjoon was saying later as he finished polishing the stove back to its original cherry red. Thankfully the smoke hadn’t stained it, only coated it in a light ash. “I should have been more watchful, I—”

  “It’s fine,” Jimin replied a little too quickly. “It happens to the best of us, don’t worry about it.” His migraine hadn’t backed off and he was almost sure he was going to throw up when he got home. The café still smelled of smoke and it wasn’t helping his head or his stomach.

  “It’s okay if you wanna fire me,” Namjoon mumbled, and Jimin put down the dish he’d been drying with a sigh.

  “I’m not going to fire you for an accident, Joon,” Jimin assured him. “Shit happens.” He walked farther into the kitchen and took the cloth from Namjoon’s hand. “Go home and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 Soon, Jimin was locking the café door behind him, two hours earlier than normal, and he thought how he was almost thankful the fire happened so he could close up early. He needed a hot bath and a massage.

 His walk home was pleasant. The apartment he shared with Hoseok was three blocks from the café, making his commute less than a few minutes. The sun was just starting to set as he pushed his key into the lock and stepped inside.

 Jimin was hit immediately with the smell of cooking food and his stomach rumbled. He realized as he slipped his shoes off at the front door that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, which was ironic considering his workplace, but sometimes it was hard to eat at work even surrounded by food. He shuffled into their miniscule kitchen to find Hoseok pouring an ungodly amount of soy sauce into a wok which seemed to be filled with vegetables and—

  “Is that octopus?” Jimin asked, standing on his tiptoes to peek over his roommate’s shoulder.

 Hoseok nodded with enthusiasm and stirred the contents of the wok. “Found it at that Japanese market across town!” he chirped, putting the soy sauce back on the counter to pick up the tube of gochujang nearby. “They tried to sell me the live one but it was looking at me and I just—couldn’t do it.” He finished with a shudder and Jimin laughed.

  “You’re home early,” Hoseok observed as Jimin squeezed behind him to fill up a glass with water and dig through their medicine cabinet for his migraine pills.

  “Yeah,” he drawled. “There was an… incident at the café today.” He found the bottle he was looking for and shook two pills into his palm, swallowing them quickly with a gulp of water.

  “Incident?” Hoseok echoed, looking at Jimin over his shoulder.

  “The stove caught fire,” Jimin said, pouring the rest of his water into the sink. Hoseok squeaked in surprise. “Everything’s fine, obviously,” he went on. “But the fire department came and one of the firefighters was a condescending asshole.” He rolled his eyes as he remembered the man. “I nearly punched the fucker.”

 Hoseok quirked an eyebrow and grimaced.

  “Sorry, Jiminie,” he said. “Hope you’re hungry though?”

 Jimin nodded, the smells floating through the kitchen making his mouth water.

  “Starving,” he replied.

  “It’ll be a bit,” Hoseok said over the sizzle of cooking food. “I just put all this in here and I’ve still gotta make the sauce.”

 Jimin squeezed Hoseok’s shoulder as he made his way out of the kitchen. “That’s alright, I need a bath,” he said. He was halfway to his room before asking loud enough for Hoseok to hear, “Tell me again why I haven’t hired you yet?”

 He heard Hoseok bark a laugh at the question. “Because you wouldn’t last a day with me in your kitchen!” was his reply, and Jimin smiled to himself.

 He drew the hottest bath he could, tossing a lavender bathbomb in at the last second because he deserved it tonight. His head continued to pound even as he settled into the water, tinted a light purple color. He slipped all the way down to submerge himself, holding his breath and feeling his pulse in his ears. The heat felt incredible on his temples and eyelids, and he wished he could breathe underwater so he could stay there forever. He soaked for a long time until Hoseok tapped on the door of the bathroom and his muffled voice announced that dinner was ready. Jimin made a noise of acknowledgement, let the water flow over his face one last time, and pulled the plug to let the water drain.

 The table was set when Jimin walked into the dining room, and Hoseok was sitting shirtless at the head of it, a glass of red wine in his long fingers.

  “A bit early in the week for the red, don’t you think?” Jimin teased, and Hoseok took a swig of his drink before setting it beside his plate.

  “Never too early for merlot,” he replied with a wink. “I got you water because I’m not letting you drink with a migraine.”

  “Didn’t plan on it,” Jimin assured him as he slipped into a chair. His head wasn’t pounding as hard as before, the pain numbed a little by his medicine and the scent of lavender, but he didn’t expect it the relief to stay. “Let’s eat so you can give me a massage.”

 Hoseok served Jimin a heaping portion of whatever it was he’d concocted—octopus with kimchi, eggplant, and spinach, along with noodles—and the steam floated up to caress his face like a warm hand.

  “Thanks, Hobi,” Jimin said quietly, reaching for his chopsticks. “Really, I needed someone to cook me dinner tonight.” He took a huge bite and sighed. The sauce Hoseok made was slightly spicy, a little sweet, too, and he didn’t speak again until he’d finished what was on his plate.

  “Guess you like it?” Hoseok said around a bite of his own meal, looking proud.

 Jimin nodded, taking the last sip of water from his glass and sitting back. “I want the recipe,” he said and Hoseok smirked.

  “Yeah, right,” he said.

  “I’ll give you credit,” Jimin offered, and Hoseok simply took another sip of his wine without a word, eyes dancing.

 Jimin insisted he clean up, to Hoseok’s protests, but it didn’t take long and soon he was face down on Hoseok’s bed, stripped to his boxers, with his roommate perched on his lower back. He groaned as Hoseok worked a particularly thick knot out of his right shoulder, the oil on his skin making the slide of Hoseok’s hands easy.

  “Don’t make it weird,” Hoseok chuckled, digging the heel of his hand into the base of Jimin’s neck.

  “You make it weird when you say that,” Jimin replied, his voice muffled.

  “Stop talking, I might slip one of your disks,” Hoseok warned, amused, and Jimin blew him a raspberry over his shoulder.

 As Hoseok’s hands continued to work, Jimin’s migraine finally began to fade. He was loose with relief when he rolled off Hoseok’s bed to make his way to his room, the other man’s voice following him: “You work too hard.”

 Jimin was asleep before his head hit his pillow.

 Jungkook had followed Taehyung to this restaurant for two reasons and two reasons only: Taehyung’s boyfriend was paying for dinner and Taehyung would cry if he didn’t.

 It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be with Taehyung for his birthday because of course he did. They’d been celebrating birthdays together for years now. But Jungkook wasn’t social like Taehyung was, and crowded restaurants weren’t exactly his favorite place to hang out on a Saturday night. He was sure to tell Taehyung so as they drove to the restaurant, and his best friend gave him a sideways glance in reply.

  “Lighten up,” Taehyung said, ruffling Jungkook’s hair. “Why are you such a stick in the mud?”

 Jungkook tried to dodge his hand, wrinkling his nose. “I’m not,” he pouted. “I just wish we were watching Planet Earth and eating pizza like every other birthday.”

 Taehyung jutted out his bottom lip as he pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant and put his car in park. “That’s sweet, Kookie,” he said, and Jungkook rolled his eyes. “We can do that tomorrow, okay?”

 Jungkook mumbled an agreement and got out of the car. Taehyung clung to his side as they walked in.

  “Plus, you have to meet Hoseok,” he whispered as they stepped into the building. “He’s handsome and funny and he’s bringing his roommate!”

 Jungkook grumbled at the mention of yet another stranger he had to hang out with tonight, but in reality was eager to meet Hoseok. Taehyung had only met the older man a few weeks before but was already enamored with him. Jungkook liked anyone that made his best friend happy.

 Taehyung told the hostess they were meeting a Jung Hoseok—Jungkook noted how Taehyung’s voice changed when he spoke the man’s name—and she led them to a table near the back of the room where two men sat, one studying the menu and one absorbed in his phone. At their arrival they both looked up, one brightening and the other looking unaffected. The man Jungkook assumed to be Hoseok hopped to his feet and his assumption was proved correct when he placed a gentle kiss on Taehyung’s cheek. His friend blushed and Jungkook had never seen Taehyung so flustered.

  “Hyung, this is my best friend, Jungkook,” Taehyung said finally, turning to grab Jungkook by the shirt sleeve and pull him close. Hoseok smiled at him and the man’s face had the same brightness Taehyung’s did, and Jungkook was put slightly more at ease. “We’ve been friends since high school.”

 Unexpectedly, Hoseok hugged him, and Jungkook awkwardly returned the gesture before Hoseok let him go and motioned to the other man at the table.

  “That’s my roommate, Jimin,” he said, and when Jungkook turned to offer a half-hearted greeting, he was met with a scowl. Jimin had narrowed his eyes from where he sat, still holding his phone, and Jungkook scrutinized him before coming to a realization. He recognized Jimin’s sharp gaze and quirked mouth after only a few moments of looking at him.

  “We’ve… met,” Jimin sneered, seeming to recognize him as well, before sitting up a little in his chair to offer Jungkook a mocking nod of his head.

 Jungkook felt the same feeling he’d felt the last time he met Jimin—annoyance—flare up and he tried to keep from curling his lips back in disgust.

  “You have?” Hoseok asked, sitting back down in his chair, Taehyung settling into the seat next to him. The only chairs left were on either side of Jimin, and it took all Jungkook had not to throw a fit and demand Taehyung let him sit next to Hoseok. But it was Taehyung’s birthday and his boyfriend was here, and Jungkook had enough heart to sit calmly beside Jimin and not make a scene.

  “Tae and I responded to a small fire at Jimin’s café a few weeks ago,” he told Hoseok, hoping Jimin would just let it go and maybe they could get through dinner without a fight. But he glanced at Jimin and the other man’s eyes were alight.

  “More like he showed up in the parking lot just to be a haughty ass,” Jimin growled, locking his phone and shoving it into his pocket.

 Jungkook felt the coil of anger in his chest tighten and Jimin gave him a tight smile.

 Hoseok furrowed his eyebrows. “Jimin, chill,” he hissed, and Jimin looked at his roommate for a long moment before picking up the menu in front of him and looking at it closely. Hoseok offered Jungkook an apologetic look. Jungkook pursed his lips.

  “Easiest call we’ve ever taken,” Taehyung said in an attempt to lighten the mood. “The fire practically took care of itself.”

 Hoseok snaked his arm around Taehyung’s shoulders and Taehyung leaned into it with a soft smile.

 Hoseok and Taehyung did most of the talking, including Jungkook whenever they could. Jimin was completely silent besides thanking the waiter for his drink refills until another man Jungkook recognized as their senior firefighter at the station was brought to their table.

  “Seokjin?” Jimin said in disbelief as Taehyung jumped to his feet. Jungkook tried to hide his exasperation; this six degrees of separation shit was going to drive him insane.

 Taehyung nearly tackled the older man before telling him to take a seat on Jimin’s other side. Seokjin clapped Jimin on the back as he sat, and Jimin smiled. Jungkook tried to ignore the way Jimin’s eyes crinkled at the edges when he smiled like that.

  “And you know each other how?” Jungkook asked, the question mostly directed to Seokjin.

  “I’ve been a regular at Jimin’s café for years now,” Seokjin said. “Best Vietnamese coffee in all of Korea.” He added a wink at the end of the statement and Jimin’s smile widened.

 Jungkook had to try very hard not to roll his eyes.

 By the time they’d all ordered their food, Jungkook was feeling more comfortable, especially after a beer. Taehyung and Hoseok were laughing raucously and Seokjin looked on with fondness, making small conversation with Jimin. Jungkook was happy to just sit back and not speak, but Seokjin’s voice was suddenly saying his name.

  “Have you eaten at Jimin’s place before?” he asked, and Jimin turned to look at him with those same narrowed, mocking eyes.

  “No, I’ve never had—” He tilted his head and met Jimin’s gaze, hoping his eyes held half the hostility he felt. “—the pleasure.”

 Jimin’s lip twitched and Jungkook smirked.

  “Ah, you should,” Seokjin said from Jimin’s other side, completely missing their exchange. “You would love the ramen. It’s so big and full of different things to fill your black hole of a stomach.”

 Jungkook sat back in his chair a little, taking a sip of the water that was there when he sat down. “I’m not really on the market to be poisoned,” he told Seokjin, whose eyes widened in surprise. Jungkook saw Jimin set his jaw and he smiled at the shorter man beside him, the sweetest he could manage.

  “Yah, Jungkookie,” Seokjin scolded, reaching around Jimin’s head to flick Jungkook on the temple. “Don’t be a brat.”

 Jungkook wasn’t quick enough to dodge Seokjin’s hand and winced, rubbing at the side of his head. He saw Jimin chuckle silently, but before he could say anything in return, the waiter was bringing their food to the table and he forgot about his annoyance with Jimin.

 Dinner finished without much more incident besides Taehyung sneezing a piece of kimchi out of his nose, which had Jungkook nearly falling out of his chair with laughter. Hoseok wiped his face with a napkin and Taehyung turned so red, he looked sunburned.

 They all walked out of the building together, Taehyung and Hoseok hand-in-hand, Seokjin with an arm around Jimin’s shoulder. Jungkook walked at the back of the group, hands thrust into his pockets. They stopped in the middle of the parking lot to say their goodbyes, Taehyung tickling Hoseok’s chin which was returned with a pinch to Taehyung’s cheek. Seokjin gave Jimin a one-armed squeeze and high-fived Taehyung, then Jungkook, saying he’d see them soon.

  “Good to finally meet you, Jungkook,” Hoseok said, holding out a hand to shake. Jungkook took it with a genuine smile. He liked Hoseok a lot. “Tae has only good to say about you.” He raised his voice a little at that, and Jungkook saw Jimin cross his arms from where he stood at Hoseok’s shoulder.

  “You, too, hyung,” Jungkook said. “See you around.”

 Hoseok nodded once, gave Taehyung one more peck on the temple, and turned to leave. Jimin didn’t say a word, only lifted a hand to Taehyung in farewell before following Hoseok to their car. Jungkook watched him go, seething.

  “Fucking hell, Jungkook,” Taehyung said when they got into the car. “Jimin was after your ass tonight.”

  “You’re telling me,” Jungkook replied, pulling his seatbelt across his chest. “What a bitch.”

 Taehyung huffed. “Don’t you let hyung hear you talking about Jimin like that, Kook,” he warned.

  “Oh shut up, I won’t,” Jungkook told him, turning the radio up a little. “Hopefully Jimin and I never have to see each other again so I won’t have to keep being assured of how much of a bitch he is.”

 Taehyung shoved him from across the center console and asked if he wanted ice cream.

 It was three weeks until Jungkook was cursed with Jimin’s presence once more, just when he thought he’d made it to the home stretch of never having to see him again.

 Taehyung asked Jungkook if he wanted to join him and Hoseok for a few drinks at the club. He’d made Taehyung ask Hoseok if Jimin was going to show up (“That’s childish, Jungkook, just get over it.” “No, I don’t want to be around if Jimin’s gonna be there, and that’s that.”) and only after Hoseok had told him that Jimin would be staying in that night did Jungkook agree to go.

 He was three whiskey sours in with his eye on a boy down the bar from him when someone slipped into the stool beside him, blocking his view.

  “Fancy seeing you here,” a familiar voice crooned, and Jungkook leaned back to see that Jimin has seated himself at the bar, waving down a bartender as he watched Jungkook with reserved disgust.

  “Jimin,” Jungkook greeted him stiffly, tightening his hand around his glass. “Funny, Hoseok told me you were staying in tonight.”

 Jimin finished ordering a rum and coke before turning to look Jungkook in the eye. His black hair was parted to one side, casting a shadow over his face, and was that eyeliner rubbed onto his lash line?

  “You asked Hoseok about me, huh?” Jimin asked, leaning an elbow on the bar. “Cute. Thought you hated my guts.”

 Jungkook scowled and took a long swig of his drink. “You aren’t wrong,” he said in reply, and Jimin cocked an eyebrow. He looked ready to speak again but Hoseok suddenly appeared, shouting something along the lines of What the fuck are you doing here in Jimin’s direction. Taehyung made it to Jungkook’s side soon after, smelling strongly of cranberry juice and vodka, apologizing in a quiet, albeit slurred voice.

 Jungkook brushed him off, told him it was fine, that he was about ready to leave anyway.

  “Don’t go,” Taehyung pouted. “I wanna dance with you.”


  “Please, just one song, then you can go home and play Animal Crossing or whatever it is you do at night.” Taehyung had both hands around his forearm and was tugging on him, while Hoseok was talking urgently in Jimin’s ear. Jimin had his rum and coke in one hand, the other at Hoseok’s neck, but his eyes were on Jungkook, staring, as though issuing a challenge. Jungkook stared right back and narrowed his eyes, felt his face growing hot. Jimin really knew how to get under his skin without saying a single word. Taehyung finally got him to his feet and he broke eye contact with Jimin, following his best friend into the crowd of dancing people.

 Taehyung was a fun drunk, giggly (more so than usual) and without inhibition. He’d brought Jungkook farther out of his shell than anyone ever had, and while Taehyung was sometimes needy or loud or downright annoying, Jungkook would always have a soft spot for the older boy. Now, with flushed cheeks and a bright smile, Taehyung encouraged him to dance, grabbed him by the hand and spun him a few times, laughing when he relented and did a few body rolls to the music playing.

 Jungkook was certain more than one song passed as he continued dancing with Taehyung, but he lost the capacity to care as he started feeling the alcohol he consumed. It had been a while since he went out like this, just let go and danced and forgot about any stresses that held him back. At one point, Hoseok showed up, slipping behind Taehyung to wrap an arm across his chest and smile into the side of his neck. Jungkook let them be, navigating his way through the crowd to get to the bar, where he ordered a water. He caught sight of Jimin in the mass of dancing bodies as he sat on the stool, and if he was sober, he might have looked away. But drunk Jungkook, whether he hated the guy or not, knew how to appreciate an attractive man.

 Jimin danced against the chest of a man much broader than he was, one arm lifted to wrap around the guy’s neck, the other flat against his own thigh, his white skin stark against the black of his pants. From where Jungkook sat, he could see Jimin’s bangs were damp with sweat, plastered to his forehead in a way that was strangely attractive. Jimin moved along with the bass that thundered in the room, fluid and smooth and oh-so-dirty. His hips swayed against the man behind him, and Jungkook wet his lips when the man reached down to press an open-mouthed kiss on the spot just beneath Jimin’s ear. Jimin let his head fall back against the guy’s shoulder, eyes fluttering shut, and Jungkook swallowed thickly. The man behind Jimin whispered something in his ear and a smile appeared on Jimin’s lips, a laugh Jungkook couldn’t hear falling from his mouth. Jimin said something back, then very suddenly, his eyes were open again and staring right at Jungkook. He held his breath, waiting to see if Jimin was perhaps looking at someone next to him or didn’t actually see him at all. But the other man’s eyes were focused and unrelenting, and Jungkook held his gaze for a second longer before tearing it away to the water that the bartender had brought him.

 He could have sworn he still felt Jimin looking at him as he finished the water in a few quick gulps and paid his tab, shooting Taehyung a text that he’d caught an Uber home. When he made it to his bed later that night, Jungkook tried to force his drunken mind to remember how much Jimin pissed him off, but all he could see in his head was Jimin’s hooded eyes and sweat-soaked hair.

 There was a lull in the crowd between breakfast and lunch that Jimin found his peace in during his days at the café. He’d let Namjoon make himself a bowl of ramen and eat while he tidied up the kitchen, made sure the fridge was stocked, and took some time to breathe. The hour or two between breakfast and lunch was usually when Seokjin came by for coffee, so Jimin wasn’t surprised when the tall man walked through the front door of the café. He was surprised, however, to see Jungkook on his heels.

 It had been a week since they saw each other at the club, and Jimin had almost forgotten the way he’d taken guilty pleasure in staring the other man down from across the room. He knew he was attractive, he didn’t need Jungkook looking to affirm him of that, but there was something about being able to get under Jungkook’s skin the way he knew he did and making the man blush that tickled him pink. Hoseok joked he was being a predator but Jimin just found it fun.

 Seokjin and Jungkook settled themselves at a wooden table near the front window, the younger man looking substantially less comfortable than his companion. Jimin had Seokjin’s coffee ready in a mug and brought it to him with a soft greeting, slipping into one of the chairs at their table. Seokjin ruffled Jimin’s hair and thanked him for the coffee. Jungkook looked up but didn’t speak.

  “Can I get you anything?” Jimin asked him out of service rather than genuine curiosity, and Jungkook looked at him a bit dumbly.

  “Ah, no, not really,” he replied. His voice was quiet. “I’m okay.”

  “You sure, Kook?” Seokjin said after taking a sip of his drink. “Everything here is really good.”

 Jimin settled his chin in his hands, preening at Seokjin’s praise, and raised an eyebrow in Jungkook’s direction. The younger man was giving Seokjin a pressed look, lips in a straight line, and Jimin had to fight a laugh. Seeing Jungkook uncomfortable really did make his day.

  “Well, let me know if you change your mind,” Jimin said without looking at Jungkook, getting to his feet and making his way back to the kitchen. As he turned his back, he heard Jungkook mutter He probably spit in your drink, hyung and the sound of Seokjin’s hand on his shoulder. Jimin could have turned around to make a smart remark or even told Jungkook that he’d be sure to spit in his drink if he ever ordered one, but he was satisfied enough by how vulnerable the man looked simply sitting at the table that he kept his mouth shut.

 Jimin got to making himself some tea, grinning slightly at the sound of Seokjin’s laugh that floated into the kitchen, when Namjoon shuffled in with his empty ramen bowl in hand.

  “Isn’t that the firefighter from before?” he asked Jimin, placing his dishes in the sink and leaning against the counter nearby. “The one you almost right hooked?”

 Jimin nodded, bringing his mug to his lips to take a sip of tea. “He works with Seokjin, apparently,” he told Namjoon with a shrug. “He’s a dick without his gear, too.”

 The other man made a face and started rinsing his bowl.

  “What?” Jimin prodded, giving Namjoon a sideways glance.

  “Nothing,” Namjoon replied nonchalantly. “Just that he’s kinda hot.”

 Jimin sputtered at the comment, noting Namjoon’s sly smile, and put his mug down with a sharp breath through his nose.

  “Yeah, and?” he huffed, crossing his arms. Namjoon shrugged, wiping his dishes with a towel and putting them in their respective cabinets.

  “So you admit it?” the other man pressed. “He’s hot.”

 Jimin rolled his eyes and ran a hand over his face. “Yes, he’s hot,” he said, lowering his voice. “What are you getting at, Namjoon?”

 The other man shrugged again, adjusting the cap on his head with long, careful fingers. “Nothing,” he replied. “Just trying to get you to admit something nice about the guy.”

 Jimin wrinkled his nose with a dissatisfied noise. “Why are you so positive?” he asked Namjoon, who blushed slightly. “Can you be mean for like, two minutes, please?”

 Namjoon laughed and shook his head, narrowly avoiding Jimin’s aimed strike for his shoulder and scurried out of the kitchen. Jimin spent a few minutes rearranging teacups trying to keep himself from thinking about how Namjoon was right, that Jungkook was incredibly hot, before he heard Seokjin’s voice calling his name. He took a few steps to the kitchen door and poked his head out to see Seokjin standing at the bar by the register, leaning half of his body over the wood.

  “Could you make Jungkookie a bungeo-ppang?” he asked. “He likes cute food.”

 Jimin nodded, resisting the urge to ask Seokjin what kind of poison to put in the filling, and got to work making the dessert. Bungeo-ppang was actually one of his favorite desserts to make, simply because it was shaped like a fish. Hoseok had gotten him the iron for making it a few Christmases ago and it sat in the corner of the kitchen, almost always on because bungeo-ppang was a high-demand food item at the café. It took him only a few minutes to make, and he brought it out on a small plate which he slipped onto the table in front of Jungkook.

  “Fresh as can be,” Jimin said, and Jungkook offered him a stuttered, near-silent thank you, not looking up. Seokjin must have kicked the younger man under the table, because after the sound of impact and a Jungkook grimacing at him across the table, he lifted his head to make eye contact with Jimin.

  “Thanks, Jimin,” he said, his voice strained.

 Jimin responded with a low hum and turned his back on the table, pretending he hadn’t noticed a small scar indented into Jungkook’s cheekbone and wondered from where it came.

 Jungkook loved his job—he didn’t work as hard as he did to get there just to dislike what he did—but there were some days where they sat at the station all day, waiting for a call to come in to get them moving, and one never came. Sure, it was great that some days he got paid to sit around and play video games at the station because what else does one do when they’re an on-call fireman? But sometimes, those days drove Jungkook crazy and he almost wished something somewhere would blow up so he could just get moving.

 Evening was closing in one day as Jungkook and Taehyung lounged upside down on the futon in the main room of the fire station, head to head in a game Super Smash Bros. All of the blood was rushing to Jungkook’s brain as his head hung where his legs would usually be and he felt a little faint, but he was incredibly close to kicking Taehyung’s ass, which he knew he would get a beating for when it happened, but he worked for it nonetheless. Taehyung was a sore loser, always had been, and Jungkook loved to push his buttons.

 The familiar sound of the front door of the station being swung open distracted him, letting Taehyung get a few hits in on him.

  “Fuck off,” Jungkook mumbled when his best friend cackled, and he would have reached over to bat Taehyung’s controller out of his hands, but someone had stepped into the room.

  “Is, uh, Seokjin here?” Jimin’s voice said over the sounds of the video game, and Jungkook had half the mind to ignore the other man and stay focused on the TV. But Taehyung, ever pleasant, rolled backwards off the futon and paused their game to give Jimin a welcoming grin.

  “Hey, Jimin!” he said. “Seokjin’s actually off today, believe it or not.”

 Jungkook sighed and righted himself on the futon, dropping his controller on his lap and glancing over at Jimin. The man wore a gray cableknit sweater and light wash jeans, a black beanie perched over his matching black hair. Jungkook might have settled to say Jimin looked cute today, had it not been for the way Jimin’s eyes hardened when their gazes met. Jungkook chewed on the inside of his cheek and looked away, unsettled.

  “Well, he paid for my lunch last week, so I brought him some kimchi,” Jimin said, lifting up the paper bag he held in his arms. “Hoseok’s recipe. You guys have a fridge?”

 Taehyung nodded and gave him directions to the kitchen, and Jimin disappeared without another word.

  “Could you be any more stand-offish?” Taehyung whispered when Jimin was gone, not unpausing their game. “You couldn’t even say hello.”

 Jungkook rolled his eyes. “I tend not to associate with people who hate me,” he hissed back, trying to grab Taehyung’s controller so they could get on with their game. Taehyung held it out of his reach with a scowl.

  “You should apologize for being such a dick to him the first time you guys met and maybe you could be friends,” his friend muttered, pushing Jungkook back when he lunged for the controller again.

  “I don’t want to be his friend,” Jungkook replied, sitting back against the futon and pouting. “Can we continue, please? I was this close to knocking your Kirby ass into the abyss.”

 Taehyung gave him another shove for good measure before resuming their game. Jimin returned less than a minute later, his boots making soft noises on the tile floor.

  “Tell Seokjin to be careful opening that jar,” he said, jerking a thumb over his should in the direction of the kitchen.

  “Will do,” Jungkook said shortly when Taehyung didn’t speak, immersed in trying to throw Jungkook’s character (he chose Link every time) off the very small ledge they were battling on. Jungkook didn’t look up but he saw Jimin hovering in his peripherals, hands clasped together in front of him.

  “Wanna play Jungkook after I annihilate him?” Taehyung asked Jimin, not moving his eyes from the TV screen. Jungkook nearly fell over at the words, and Taehyung managed to get one more hit on Link, sending him over the ledge into the darkness below. Taehyung shouted triumphantly as the game music sang his victory, holding a fist in the air, and Jungkook slipped off the futon to wrap an arm around Taehyung’s neck, pulling him into a chokehold.

  “I’m actually really shit at Smash,” Jimin said from where he stood leaned up against the wall.

  “So is Jungkook,” Taehyung said from under Jungkook’s arm, wincing as the muscles squeezed him tighter. “It’ll be a perfect match.”

 Jimin seemed to consider the offer for a moment before kicking off his boots and coming to the sit on the futon. Jungkook let Taehyung free, scooting away from Jimin a little when he realized how close his face was to the other man’s thigh. He couldn’t help but notice Jimin’s scent as he sat down—coffee mixed with something more fragrant that he couldn’t place, like potpourri or scented soap. He couldn’t deny that it was a pleasant smell.

 Their game started a few minutes later after Jimin spent a good minute trying to decide between Jigglypuff and Princess Peach. He eventually picked Jigglypuff (“What a match.” “’Cause I’m cute?” “More like matching tempers.”) and Jungkook came back as Link. Their battle was excruciating and long—Jimin seemed to take the defensive approach to Super Smash Bros, jumping and running as Jungkook’s character chased him all over the map. Eventually, Jungkook looked over his shoulder to see Jimin wearing a smug grin on his face, eyes flickering down to Jungkook once before moving back to TV screen. Jungkook felt a smile pulling at his lips but he resisted, hunching his shoulders and focusing on back on the game.

 After a particularly close call scuffle, Jimin’s Jigglypuff ended up collapsing on the ground after an impressive combo of moves from Jungkook’s Link. The victory music played and Jungkook tossed his controller onto the carpet beneath him, leaning back to look at Jimin with triumph. The other man was pouting, looking deliberating at the TV instead of at Jungkook, but a smile was seeping onto Jimin’s lips slowly. Taehyung, on his knees in front of the TV, gave a hoot.

 “And Jeon Jungkook is the victor!” he announced, pointing at Jungkook with fanfare.

 “Don’t let your head get too big, Jeon,” Jimin warned, nudging the side of Jungkook’s head with his knee. It was a gentle touch, playful if anything, something he wasn’t familiar with from Jimin. “That was pure luck for you at the end.”

 Jungkook shifted on the floor to stick his tongue out at Jimin, who responded with a small chuckle and a wrinkle of his nose.

 Jimin stayed to watch Jungkook and Taehyung play another game, Jungkook winning by a landslide. By the time Taehyung had finished pushing Jungkook’s face into the carpet, Jimin a mess of giggles on the couch, the sun had set completely and the windows of the station had gone dark.

  “I should probably head home,” Jimin said when Taehyung let Jungkook up from the floor. “I’ve gotta be up early tomorrow.”

 Jungkook glanced at the clock on the wall and then to the darkened window as Jimin got to his feet to put his boots back on. Taehyung switched the TV off, thanking Jimin for stopping by and playing with them. Jimin gave his friend a smile that turned his eyes into crescent moons, and Jungkook caught his gaze from across the room. Jimin’s smile lessened, but only a bit, and Jungkook averted his gaze.  Jimin was halfway out the door when Jungkook sighed, exasperated, and hopped to his feet to follow him.

 “Jimin,” he said weakly, and Jimin turned on the doorstep, eyebrows raised.

 “Yes?” Jimin’s tone was on the side of curious.

  Jungkook clenched his jaw and rubbed at the back of his neck. “Let me give you my number so you can text me when you get home.” Jimin blinked, looking surprised as Jungkook spoke. “You’re taking the train, right?”

 The other man nodded, hesitantly reaching into his pocket to grab his phone.

 “There’s creeps out here at night,” Jungkook said, taking Jimin’s phone when it was held out to him. He punched his number in as quickly as he could, simply putting JK as his contact name and giving it back to Jimin, who took it back slowly. “Just, uh, let me know when you get back. Safe.”

 Jimin offered him a smile, small and tight. “Thanks, Jungkook,” he said, and Jungkook wished the sound of his name in Jimin’s voice didn’t make him fidget.

 “You’re welcome,” he replied stiffly.

 Jimin turned with a small wave that Jungkook didn’t return. He waited until Jimin turned the corner down the block to shut the door.

 Taehyung was waiting for him just inside, one eyebrow cocked as he regarded Jungkook with something like amusement.

 “What the hell was that?” his friend asked, and Jungkook furrowed his eyebrows as he walked past Taehyung and into the kitchen.

 “What was what?” Jungkook spit back, opening the fridge to dig through it without purpose.

 Taehyung scoffed as he hopped up to sit on the kitchen counter and Jungkook could feel his eyes burning into his back.

 “That, with Jimin,” he said. “You gave him your number.” Jungkook froze as he noticed something on the top shelf of the fridge that he didn’t recognize, a long dish covered with an opaque lid. He grabbed it with both hands and pulled it out carefully, unprepared for its weight.

  “You like him, don’t you?” Taehyung said.

 At Taehyung’s accusatory tone, Jungkook reared on him, mouth turned down in a scowl as he kicked the fridge door closed.

 “I’m being a decent fucking guy, Tae,” he retorted, setting the dish on the nearest counter space. “Just because I wanna make sure he gets home safe, doesn’t mean I’m in love with him or anything.” He lifted the top off of the dish and froze when he saw was sat beneath it.

 At least a dozen bungeo-ppang lined the dish, smooth and golden brown. They looked familiar, the specific shape of the cake and the texture of the scales. He gaped at them for a second before looking up at Taehyung.

 “Did you put these in the fridge?” he asked as Taehyung grabbed one of the cakes off of the plate and bit into it. His friend shook his head as he chewed, sighing in contentment.

 Jungkook thought hard before realization hit him in the face. He went back to the fridge to search for the kimchi Jimin had brought and came back empty handed. There was no kimchi, nothing new besides the bungeo-ppang.

 “Whoever made these is doing it right,” Taehyung said, shoving the rest of the cake into his mouth with a satisfied grunt.

 Jungkook tried to put it all together in his head very slowly. Jimin had said he’d come to the station to see Seokjin and give him kimchi, but there was no kimchi in the fridge, only a plate of the desserts that Jungkook had eaten in Jimin’s café earlier in the week, the exact dessert that Jungkook had tried not to show immense pleasure in eating in front of Seokjin in the café. Jimin had lied and brought Jungkook bungeo-ppang.

Why would he do that? The question pounded against Jungkook’s brain as Taehyung took another cake from the dish, pushing it into his mouth whole and hopping down from the counter.

 “I’m going to call Hoseok,” he told Jungkook before exiting the kitchen.

 Jungkook continued to stare at the plate of fish-shaped cakes, only putting them back in the fridge when Jimin texted him once.

Made it home.

 Jimin kicked himself for days after slipping the dish of bungeo-ppang into the fire station’s fridge. Jungkook had left the café first the day he came with Seokjin, and the older man didn’t hesitate to tell Jimin how much Jungkook had enjoyed the dessert once he’d gone.

 “Make him a batch,” Seokjin had encouraged him as he paid for his coffee and Jungkook’s food. “He’d love it.”

 Jimin had rolled his eyes as he gave Seokjin his change. “The kid hates me,” he said. “And I’m not exactly his biggest fan either.”

 Seokjin had cocked an eyebrow. “Maybe you can call a truce over bungeo-ppang,” he said with a laugh, putting his change into Jimin’s tip jar. “He’s a good guy.” Jimin pursed his lips and leaned against the bar as Seokjin made his way out of the café with a wave over his shoulder. “Acts of kindness don’t go unrewarded, Jiminie!”

 Jimin had to admit, he’d had fun at the station with Jungkook and Taehyung. He hadn’t expected the invitation to stay, nor had he expected Jungkook to ask for his number to make sure he got home safe. When he made it back to his apartment, Hoseok was on the phone with someone Jimin could only guess was Taehyung, by the way his roommate was cooing into the mouthpiece.

 When he’d hung up, he found Jimin in the kitchen, wiggling his eyebrows and accusing him of baking love cakes for Jungkook. Jimin had brushed him off with a snap of a dish towel to Hoseok’s thigh, cursing Taehyung in his head.

 “They’re for everyone at the station,” he said as Hoseok scurried out of the kitchen, cackling in the way Jimin knew meant he didn’t believe him.

 One particularly slow Saturday evening, Jimin was teaching Namjoon how to make ramen noodles when the bell above the front door jingled. Jimin left his friend to look over the recipe, warning him to please don’t cut yourself on the noodle machine before stepping out of the kitchen and to the register. None other than Jungkook stood in front of him, alone, one hand gripping the counter and the other holding his wallet.

 “Evening,” Jimin greeted him, ignoring the way his heart rate hiked up a little when Jungkook looked up at him. The younger man looked uneasy standing there alone, and his attempt at giving Jimin a smile turned into a pained grimace. But he wore sweatpants and a red shirt, a black cardigan hanging from his shoulders, and Jimin thought: Cute.

  “What can I get you?”

 “Hey,” he said simply, shifting his weight between his feet. “I, uh, Seokjin said the Vietnamese coffee is good so.” He paused, swallowed once. “I’ll have one of those.”

 Jimin couldn’t help but feel a little empowered by Jungkook’s discomfort, mostly out of habit rather than genuine dislike. He didn’t know how to like the other man; it was like their rivalry was inherent, built in.

 “Coming right up,” Jimin said, writing the order on a note card and taking it back to the kitchen. “Namjoon-ah! Vietnamese coffee!” He set the notecard on the counter and heard Namjoon huff at him from across the room.

 “Just because you’re my boss, doesn’t mean I’m not your hyung!” he said, and Jimin stuck his tongue out at him without another word.

 “Take a seat wherever you like,” Jimin told Jungkook when he returned to the register. Jungkook held out his card and Jimin swiped it once. “It’ll be out in a few.”

 Jungkook thanked him brokenly before taking his card back turning to sit as far from the register as he could, at a single table by the window. Jimin watched him with one eyebrow raised before sighing and walking back to the kitchen. Namjoon was poking his head through the door, eyes moving from Jungkook to Jimin and back again.

 “What’s he doing here?” Namjoon asked, and Jimin shrugged, returning to the noodle machine.

 “Came for a drink,” he said, purposefully keeping himself from looking at Namjoon. “That’s his coffee order you’re working on.”

 Namjoon made an interested noise, hands working deftly to make the coffee and pour it into a large green mug. When it was ready, he placed it on the counter next to Jimin.

 “You take it to him, Joon, I’m busy,” Jimin muttered, slicing noodles and tossing them into a bowl of water to soak.

 “I need ramen practice,” Namjoon insisted, taking the next batch of noodles from Jimin’s hand and nudging him out of the way. “Take the kid his coffee.”

 Jimin set his jaw and narrowed his eyes at Namjoon, only to be met with a smug grin.

 Putting on a brave face, Jimin took the drink and walked out of the kitchen to take it to Jungkook. The other man was looking down at his phone, lifting his head when Jimin made it to his table and slid the mug onto the wood.

 “Vietnamese coffee,” Jimin said, his voice taking on its habitual food service tone.

 “Thank you,” Jungkook replied, wrapping his hands around the mug, and Jimin noticed his voice was almost pleasant. He looked up at Jimin with a small, grateful smile, and turned to take a sip of his drink.

 “You’re welcome,” Jimin said, a little delayed, before mumbling a quick Enjoy and hurrying back to the kitchen.

 Namjoon seemed to be waiting for him, leaning against a counter.

 “I wish you’d stop looking at me like that every time he comes around,” Jimin said, throwing a roll of paper towels at Namjoon. The other man caught them easily, his mouth still curved upward in a smirk.

 “Like what?” he asked, walking past Jimin to tap him on the top of the head with the roll. Jimin fumed and grabbed a knife from the counter, pointing it at Namjoon threateningly.

 “Your job is in my hands, you know,” he spat, hoping he looked at least a little bit intimidating. He got his answer when Namjoon scoffed and placed the paper towels in a cabinet above the stove.

 “Put that down before you hurt yourself, Jiminie,” he advised, and Jimin did so rather aggressively.

 “I don’t pay you to bother me, Namjoon,” he said. “Get back to work.”

 Namjoon snorted and started rinsing noodles again as Jimin peeked around the kitchen door as inconspicuously as he could. Jungkook still sat at his table near the window, eyes trained to the cars and people passing by outside. Jimin watched as he finished his coffee, looked around once, and go to his feet. Hurrying back into the kitchen, Jimin strained to hear the bell jingle on the door. It did, and he looked out one last time. He saw the flash of Jungkook’s black cardigan through the window before the other man was gone.

 Jimin seemed to be the best at showing up in Jungkook’s life when he least expected it, and one night at the club, it was no different.

 Jungkook was halfway to drunk chatting with the bartender he’d come to know pretty well since coming to the club more often in the past year, a skinny, mint-haired guy named Yoongi. He always snuck Jungkook the more expensive liquors without charging him, but Jungkook made sure to tip him a little extra, not in compensation, but because he really appreciated the gesture. Yoongi was mid-story about a bar fight the previous night when Jimin slid onto the stool beside Jungkook, his skin tinted blue and red from the lights of the club.

  “Jeon Jungkook,” he cooed. “We meet again.”

 Jungkook felt his chest flutter slightly at the way Jimin said his name, and he tried to put on his usual show for when Jimin was around—annoyed with a hint of smug.

  “You following me, Jimin?” Jungkook asked, taking a sip of the drink he had in one hand.

  “I could ask you the same thing,” Jimin retorted, crossing his legs at the knee. “If I remember correctly, you’re the one that came to my café alone the other day.”

 A low whistle came from Yoongi, to which Jungkook responded with a hard glare. Yoongi smirked, his thin lips turned upwards, and asked Jimin if he wanted anything to drink.

  “A shot of whiskey, please,” Jimin said, elbows resting on the bar, cupping his own cheeks in his hands. “One for the baby, too.”

 Jungkook choked around a mouthful of his drink, lifting a hand to wipe at some of the alcohol that dripped down his chin. Yoongi chuckled then, shooting Jungkook a quick wink before getting to work on pouring the shots.

  “Who are you calling a baby?” Jungkook sneered when he’d recovered, leaning forward against the bar. “You can’t be much older than me yourself.”

 Jimin sat up straight and Jungkook noticed how his collarbones peeked out from behind the collar of his scoop-neck shirt. “It’s not age that exhibits maturity,” the other man said as Yoongi slid him two shots of whiskey. Jimin took one in each hand and offered one to Jungkook. “Baby.”

 Jungkook felt his mouth go dry and he wasn’t sure if it was from his previous drinks or how Jimin’s lips shaped around that word. He took the shot glass and let Jimin clink it together with his own before throwing it back, the alcohol tingling the back of his throat. Jimin emptied his own shot glass before looking back up at Jungkook with something that resembled mischief.

  “Wanna dance with me, Jungkookie?” he asked, and Jungkook noted the lilt in his voice, the way he used that nickname. Jimin was drunk, it seemed, which might have been the only reason he asked Jungkook such a question. Jungkook was drunk too, and that might have been only reason he answered with yes. Jimin held out a hand, palm up, and Jungkook took it. The other man pulled him onto the dance floor without another word, and Jungkook briefly asked himself, What on earth are you doing?

 They found themselves pretty deep into the crowd, Jimin already losing himself dancing to the music that filled the air. There were people pressing in on them at every side, forcing Jungkook to press against Jimin’s chest. Jungkook stiffened, but the other man lifted his arm to rest it on Jungkook’s shoulder. He tilted his head to one side, measuring Jungkook’s reaction, before leaning in close to Jungkook’s ear.

  “Relax,” Jimin’s voice said over the pound of the music. “We can pretend we like each other tonight, hm?” When he pulled back, Jungkook was sure he felt Jimin’s lips brush over his ear.

 Jungkook felt the last shot of whiskey working through his veins as he got more and more comfortable with the feeling of Jimin against his chest. He was taller than Jimin by a head, at least, and fit perfectly around him. Jimin let his hands wander Jungkook’s body, one gripping the back of his neck and the other alternating between tugging on his belt loops and resting on his waist. Jungkook felt suffocated by the heat of the people around them and the way Jimin was looking at him, with heavy lids and parted lips.

 At one point, Jimin turned around to press his back against Jungkook’s front, grinding his ass down and back on Jungkook’s crotch. Jungkook wasn’t prepared for the gesture, freezing up momentarily when Jimin reached back to thread his fingers through the hair at his nape.

  “Don’t be scared to use your hands,” Jimin said, resting his head back on Jungkook’s shoulder to speak into his ear again. “I don’t bite very hard.”

 Jungkook’s blurry thoughts came together a little at Jimin’s words and the feeling of the other man’s lips on his neck only increased the heat around him. He closed his eyes as Jimin tightened his fingers in his hair, pulling him closer to suck at his neck. Jungkook moved his hands to Jimin’s hips, pushing them back harder against his own. Jimin breathed a hot sigh against Jungkook’s skin, rising goosebumps on Jungkook’s arms despite the heat of the air.

 They danced for a long time like that, flush against each other, Jungkook’s hands roaming Jimin’s body, finally, because everything was little fuzzy and he was following his dick instead of his head. With his inhibitions gone for the night, Jungkook could let himself act on what he’d been thinking for a long time: that Jimin would feel very good pressed against him. And now he found it to be true; Jimin’s narrow shoulders were solid under Jungkook’s hand, his ass firm against Jungkook’s front. The fluid roll of Jimin’s body against his was sending shocks through his limbs, filling him with want. It was overwhelming and sweaty and filthy, and before Jungkook could turn down the idea that had popped into his head, he found himself reaching down with his lips to find Jimin’s open mouth.

 It was almost as if Jimin was waiting for him. Their lips crashed together a little clumsily, Jimin’s hand at his nape tugging him close. Jungkook felt Jimin’s mouth vibrate against his own and he cursed the music blasting for being louder than whatever sound Jimin had just made. Jungkook’s drunken mind made it a mission to hear that sound, clear and out loud, no matter the cost. He grabbed Jimin’s bottom lip between his teeth and bit down, reveling in the way Jimin tasted. For a split second, he was reminded of how long he and Jimin had been at each other’s throats, always ready to make smart remarks and piss each other off, but that was soon replaced with the thought of how warm Jimin’s mouth was against his.

 They broke apart when Jimin twisted to face him again, only to wrap his arms around Jungkook’s neck and kiss him again, tongue and teeth. Jungkook did the only thing he could, which was grab Jimin’s waist and kiss him back.

 “Come home with me,” Jimin murmured against his mouth, and Jungkook had to pull back and spend a few moments focusing on his face to make sure he’d heard him right. “Don’t wanna touch you here.” He brought a hand to Jungkook’s hair, pushing it out of his eyes.

 Jungkook nodded, unable to take his eyes off Jimin’s face. The shorter man kissed him once more, quick but just as dirty, and wrapped a hand around Jungkook’s wrist to pull him through the crowed to the front door of the club.

 They called an Uber and Jungkook found it difficult to do much else besides pull at the hem of Jimin’s shirt as they sat in the back seat of the car to Jimin’s place, buzzing with the anticipation of seeing just what Jimin looked like underneath the cloth. Jimin batted at his hand coyly, but his eyes had a glint to them as he looked at Jungkook through the dark.

 By the time they reached the door of Jimin’s department, Jungkook had a hand under Jimin’s shirt, fingers brushing over his stomach from behind.

 “Let me get the door open, you horny bastard,” Jimin muttered, fumbling with his keys, to which Jungkook replied with a nip at the skin of his nape. Jimin threw the door open and Jungkook pushed him inside, following to slam it behind them and push Jimin against the wood, forcing his mouth onto other’s. Jimin moaned a little then, keys dropping to the floor, and Jungkook felt his cock twitching beneath his jeans. There it was, a noise, falling from Jimin’s mouth, and he was so desperate to hear more.

 “Is Hoseok here?” Jungkook panted, grabbing at Jimin’s shirt. Jimin lifted his arms and let Jungkook pull it over his head.

 “He’s with Taehyung tonight,” Jimin replied, inhaling sharply as Jungkook got to his knees, lips kissing their way down his chest to the slope of his stomach. “Probably fucking the shit out of him as we speak.”

 Jungkook scoffed at that, mouthing at the button of Jimin’s jeans. He could feel the fabric stretched tight over Jimin’s erection and he palmed at it with an eager hand. Jimin almost growled, slipping his fingers into Jungkook’s hair.

 “Take ‘em off or leave,” he muttered, and Jungkook let himself smile as he undid the button of the pants with his teeth. He spared a glance up at Jimin to see him with his bottom lip sucked into his mouth, staring down at him with an intensity he hadn’t seen from the other man yet. Jungkook smirked as he hooked his index fingers under the waistband of Jimin’s jeans and pulled, taking his boxers at the same time. Jimin stepped out of the pants and kicked them away, grabbing Jungkook by the hair to tug him up. Jungkook hissed at the sting on his scalp and took Jimin’s wrist in his hand, pulling until Jimin’s fist was wrapped around nothing.

 “Don’t pull on me like that,” Jungkook warned, pinning Jimin’s wrist above his head against the door. Jimin looked unbothered, regarding Jungkook coolly.

 “Or what?” he whispered. “Gonna hurt me?”

 Jungkook’s lip curled and he surged forward to press his mouth against Jimin’s, kissing him hard. Jimin tried to fight Jungkook’s grip on his wrist, but Jungkook didn’t relent, instead squeezed it harder and felt for Jimin’s other hand through the dark. He found it easily and brought it up as well, able to take both of Jimin’s wrists in one of his hands. He broke the kiss to lean back and look at the other man. Jimin hadn’t flipped any switches, but somewhere behind Jungkook, yellow light filtered through the dark, reaching some of Jimin’s bare skin where Jungkook’s shadow didn’t fall.

 Jimin aroused was a sight to see. There was a flush high on his cheeks that had been there most of the night, likely from the alcohol, but it had crept to his neck now, dark red. His lips were swollen from the bite of Jungkook’s teeth, wet and shining and parted, and his breath was coming in shallow pants. Jungkook let his eyes travel further to Jimin’s dick, half-hard and starting to curve against his stomach. He wrapped his free hand around it and tightened his hold on the other man’s wrists above his head. Jimin shuddered, melting against the door at Jungkook’s touch.

 “Took you long enough,” he spat, flexing one of his hands in Jungkook’s hold. “I thought you were gonna keep me waiting all night like a brat.”

 Jungkook leaned forward, burying his face in Jimin’s neck and pressing an open-mouthed kiss into the pulse point there. He could feel Jimin’s heart pounding between their chests, his thighs tensing as Jungkook’s hand worked his cock.

 “I don’t have to touch you, y’know,” he said as he lifted his head to give him a bruising kiss on the lips. “Don’t flatter yourself.” He mumbled the last words against the shape of Jimin’s mouth.

 Without warning, Jimin closed his teeth down on Jungkook’s top lip, hard, and Jungkook gasped, pulling away on instinct. He flicked his tongue out to touch the already rising bump on his lip and tasted blood. He pulled his hand off of Jimin’s dick to grab his chin, something like a snarl threatening to spill from his mouth.

 “We’re gonna play like that?” Jungkook asked, his voice low, angry. Jimin clenched his jaw under Jungkook’s fingers and his lips curved up at the corners.

 Jungkook’s face burned hot and he released Jimin’s wrists and chin, only to scoop both hands under the other man’s thighs to lift him higher up against the door. Jimin was ready, wrapping his legs around Jungkook’s waist almost immediately, grinding his bare dick against the material of Jungkook’s shirt. Jungkook tried to keep his cool, moving one hand to grab a handful of Jimin’s hair and pull his head to the side, exposing the sharp lines of his neck. He moved his other hand to pull at one side of Jimin’s bare ass, firm and round under his palm, and he was overwhelmed with the urge to leave a mark there.

 “Can we find somewhere more comfortable?” Jimin asked into Jungkook’s ear, breath stuttering a little when Jungkook ran the tip of his nose along the other man’s neck. “Or are you going to fuck me against the front door?” His voice was taunting, a octave higher than normal, and it had Jungkook pushing him a little harder against the wood.

 “Lead the way,” he said, teeth pulling at Jimin’s earlobe before lowering him to the ground again. Jimin took Jungkook’s wrist in his hand and pulled him through the apartment, down a hallway through an open door.

 “Light on?” he asked when Jungkook stepped over the threshold, shutting the door behind them with a click. Jimin had made his way to a standing lamp in the corner, near the huge bed by the window. “Or would you rather not see my face when I come?”

 Jungkook tried to focus his blurred vision on Jimin, standing across the room with a hand on the lamp switch. It was dark but some moonlight filtered through the window, edging Jimin’s figure. The curve of his shoulders was prominent, his black hair edged silver.

 “I wanna watch you,” Jungkook replied, taking a few steps towards the bed. “See you fall apart.”

 Jimin flipped the lamp on and when the room was illuminated, Jungkook could see his smirk. “I didn’t peg you for a voyeur, Jungkookie,” he said, climbing onto the bed to settle on his knees. “You’re kinky, aren’t you?”

 Jungkook wasted no time in crawling onto the bed himself, pushing Jimin back onto the mattress and straddling him. Jimin let him, that same infuriating smirk pulling on his mouth. “Wish you wouldn’t call me that,” Jungkook said, his voice already cracking with arousal. He let his hips press down against Jimin’s erection, the man moaning in return, hands grasping at Jungkook’s shirt collar.

 “I can call you whatever I please,” Jimin whispered, his breath still smelling of whiskey. “Jungkookie. Baby.”

 There was that word again, curling heat in Jungkook’s stomach where he didn’t give it permission. He spent another second looking down at Jimin before leaning down to kiss him roughly again.

 Their kisses were push and pull, just like everything between them was. Jungkook fought for access to Jimin’s mouth, his tongue prodding at the seam of his mouth. Jimin denied him, pulling back instead to tug Jungkook down by the hair for access to his neck. His lips were hot on Jungkook’s skin and he could feel their thickness, round and pillowy and sweet. He basked in the feeling of Jimin sucking bruises into his neck, biting down on the skin and leaving marks shaped like his teeth.

 “How do you wanna do this?” Jungkook asked when his pants finally felt too tight, his dick untouched and pressing uncomfortably against the band of his jeans.

 Jimin’s hands had moved to the small of Jungkook’s back, his fingers slipping beneath his pants and boxers to push at the skin beneath it. “I think you need to be a little more naked,” he replied, mouthing at Jungkook’s jaw. “Aren’t you hot?”

 There was no real concern in Jimin’s voice; it was more like a tease, a taunt to get under Jungkook’s skin.

 It worked.

 Jungkook didn’t reply with anything except another roll of his hips against Jimin’s, pulling a whimper out of Jimin’s mouth. The other man was all talk, but Jungkook knew he had the upper hand here.

 “You were right when you said you don’t bite,” he murmured, reaching down to pull on one of Jimin’s thighs, wrapping his bare leg around his waist. “A big dog with no teeth.” He let his hand travel a little further down Jimin’s thigh to brush over his hole, and Jimin inhaled sharply at the touch.

 “Lube’s under the bed,” he choked out. Jungkook let another fingertip press over Jimin’s entrance and the other man moaned. Jungkook wanted to swallow the sound.

 It took Jungkook only a few moments to detangle himself from Jimin to reach under the bed for the lube and squeeze some onto his fingers, tossing it onto the bottom of the mattress for later. He didn’t bother warming it up, wanting to make Jimin jump beneath him, and it worked when he pressed a wet finger into Jimin’s hole without warning.

 “Fucker,” Jimin hissed, and Jungkook had to chuckle.

 “Tell me how you want it,” he said.

 Jimin didn’t reply at first, eyes fluttering shut as Jungkook worked the first finger into him. He crooked it one way then the other, rubbing Jimin’s walls and when the other man groaned, deep in his chest, Jungkook felt it in his dick.

 “Let me ride you,” Jimin said finally, his voice barely above a whisper. “Wanna feel you deep.”

 Jungkook wet his lips at the words, suddenly desperate to see Jimin on top of him. He worked on pushing another finger past Jimin’s rim, causing him to whimper and writhe under Jungkook’s weight.

 “You can wait, right?” Jungkook asked him, hoping his teasing got to Jimin the same way Jimin’s got to him. “Or are you that desperate for me?” He pushed his two fingers deep into Jimin, slow, and the sound of the lube between their skins was vulgar. “How long have you been waiting for this, huh?” He pressed his lips to the corner of Jimin’s open mouth. “How much do you want it?”

 Jimin growled, shoving his tongue between Jungkook’s lips and running it over his teeth. “I don’t beg,” Jimin said into his mouth, but his voice was weak, breaking along the edges. Jungkook let his ring finger prod at the muscle of Jimin’s hole, slipping past it, which pulled a satisfying moan from Jimin. “Don’t beg for the likes of you—fuck.” Jungkook found his prostate, rubbing at it with three fingers, and Jimin’s thighs shook. “Fuck you.”

 Jungkook pushed his fingertips against the nerves for another second before pulling out and wiping his hands on the bed. Jimin sighed, heavy and desperate, and moved his hands to Jungkook’s jeans, tugging on the button and pulling the zipper down. Jungkook let him, stopping him only when he tried to pull the jeans past his hips.

 “These stay on,” Jungkook told him, slipping an arm under Jimin’s back to flip their positions. When Jimin settled on his hips, thighs thick and flexing on either side of his body, Jungkook let himself relax a bit. The lamplight fell on one side of Jimin’s body, illuminating his tight stomach and chest, flushed dark maroon. Jimin reached into Jungkook’s boxers and freed his cock. He winced at the dry slide of Jimin’s hand, but shuddered with relief at the same time. It was the first time he was being touched all night, and he could feel the pleasure rising up in his stomach.

 Jimin reached over the bed to pull open a drawer in the side table, coming back with a condom. He ripped it open and rolled it over Jungkook’s dick before reaching back to grab the lube and pour some into his hand. He wrapped his fingers around Jungkook and they were wet and freezing on his dick, even over the condom. He tried not to jump at the feeling but Jimin saw his discomfort and tilted his head to the side, biting one side of his bottom lip.

 “Cold?” Jimin chirped, and Jungkook barely had it in him to snarl a curse back.

 It wasn’t long before Jimin scooted forward a little to line up on top of Jungkook’s cock, rising up on his knees. Jungkook watched the way the muscles rippled under Jimin’s skin, for a split second thinking about how undeniably beautiful they looked in the yellow light of the lamp. But Jimin pressed himself over the head of Jungkook’s cock and the moment was lost, replaced by the feeling of Jimin swallowing him in a tight heat.

 Neither of them moved until Jimin sank down onto him fully, breath shaking and one hand tight on Jungkook’s hip. Jungkook swallowed a moan and placed a hand on one of Jimin’s thighs, taking a handful of it and squeezing. Jimin tested the movement of his hips, circling them a little, before lifting himself up, dragging slow along Jungkook’s cock. He let his head fall back to stare at the ceiling and Jungkook could have come from the sight of Jimin above him alone. But he wasn’t going to let it end so soon, not like that.

 Jimin lowered himself again, burying Jungkook deep, and looked down at him finally. “How’s it feel, baby?” he asked Jungkook, grinding his hips down hard. “Do I feel good?”

 Jungkook’s head spun at the words, at how Jimin’s voice had changed when he found himself on top. He couldn’t reply, instead moving both hands to Jimin’s hips to grip them hard, hard enough to leave finger-shaped bruises in the plush skin. Jimin seemed satisfied with Jungkook’s loss for words, his mouth turning up in a teasing grin. “Cat got your tongue?” he asked, pulling off of Jungkook’s dick only to bring himself back down. “Don’t have much to say with your cock in someone, do you?”

 Anger flared in Jungkook’s chest and he dug his fingernails into the skin of Jimin’s hips, eliciting a gasp from him.

 “Feisty,” Jimin laughed above him. Jungkook could see sweat dripping down Jimin’s neck and wanted to lick it up, taste the salt of Jimin’s skin, consume him. He was losing rationale to stay arrogant, especially with Jimin clenching around his dick. The next time Jimin lifted himself up, Jungkook thrust up into him, a surprised sound getting caught in the other man’s throat.

 “Who’s desperate now?” Jimin said around a moan, taking one of Jungkook’s wrists in his hand to guide it to his own leaking cock. Jungkook didn’t resist, couldn’t, because Jimin was so sexy and beautiful and all he wanted was to fuck him deep and dirty, feel him come undone.

 “You haven’t bitten me yet, Jimin,” Jungkook managed to say, pushing his thumb into the slit of Jimin’s dick and reveling in the way Jimin’s stomach tightened at the movement. “Show me your teeth, huh?”

 Without warning, the back of Jimin’s hand collided with Jungkook’s jaw, the sharp sound of skin hitting skin cracking in the air. He heard it before he felt it, but the pain wasn’t too far behind the noise, shocking the side of his face and burning his cheek hot. Neither of them moved and the only sound was Jimin’s heavy breathing. Jungkook had forgotten how to take in air.

 “Do it again,” he said, his voice unrecognizable to his own ears. The strike of Jimin’s hand had forced his head to the side but he turned back now to look up at Jimin. Above him, the other man’s expression had changed, relaxed into something akin to shock, as if he himself didn’t believe what had just happened. But at Jungkook’s words, Jimin’s face changed once more, his eyes going dark and his tongue flitting out to lick his lips.

 “Dirty boy,” Jimin cooed, bringing his hand to Jungkook’s cheek to caress the spot only moments earlier he’d hit. “A regular little slut.” The last word hadn’t left his mouth fully before his hand struck Jungkook again on the same side of his face, the pain doubling against the already raw skin. It pushed the breath out of Jungkook’s chest, a moan following, and his cock twitched where he was still buried to the hilt inside Jimin. He thrusted up weakly, not bothering to hide his desperation at this point. Jimin was in control now, and he accepted it without protest. He dug his heels into the mattress as Jimin grinded down on him again, the movement of his hips fluid and measured.

 “You gonna come from that?” Jimin taunted, leaning forward to grip Jungkook’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. “Gonna come from me hitting you so hard you can’t see?” He closed his eyes and whined when Jimin kissed him, sucked on his tongue. He was fading fast, sweat soaking his clothes, and his orgasm was inching closer. The feeling of Jimin sliding up and down on his cock had him teetering on the edge, the bruising grip of the other man’s fingers on his face blurring his thoughts.

 “Go on, Jungkookie,” he heard Jimin say. “Tell me to hurt you.” His touch disappeared from Jungkook’s face, and he opened his eyes to see Jimin leaned back, thighs flexing as he pulled himself almost all the way off of Jungkook’s dick, eyes hooded and teeth sinking into his own bottom lip. “Tell me.” His voice was a snarl, a demand.

 Tears burned the backs of Jungkook’s eyes and he lifted his chin, giving Jimin a target, more space.

 “Hit me.”

 Not even a second passed before Jimin’s hand struck him a third time, his heat sinking back onto Jungkook’s cock at the same time, and Jungkook was coming with deep moan. He came hard, harder than he had in a long time, more noises falling from his mouth. He barely registered when Jimin caged his head with his forearms, rolling his hips down to keep Jungkook moving inside him. Jimin’s breathing was heavy and hot at his neck, and as the aftershocks of his orgasm flowed through him, he searched for Jimin’s dick between their bodies. He found it, hard and wet, and after a few tight pumps of his fist, Jimin was grunting against the side of his face, his come warm on Jungkook’s skin.

 Jimin lifted himself completely off of Jungkook after a moment of silence, falling onto his back on the mattress. Jungkook winced as he sat up to pull the condom from his dick and tie it off, tossing it into the small plastic bin Jimin had sitting on the other side of the bed. He felt Jimin’s come drying on his hand and on his shirt, so with the energy he had left, he pulled it over his head. He saw Jimin watching from where he laid next to him on the mattress, sated and sleepy. Jungkook tried to hide a smile, using the inside of his shirt to wipe at his hand. When he was significantly less sticky, he stood to kick his jeans from his legs and push his dick back into his boxers. He turned around to see Jimin on his feet across the room, pulling on a pair of shorts.

 “You can stay here,” the other man said, stumbling back to the bed after turning off the lamp. “Are you still drunk?”

 Jungkook nodded, but he wasn’t sure what he was more drunk on: alcohol or the sting of Jimin’s hand.

 “Stay,” Jimin said, his voice suddenly soft. “If you’d like.”

 Jungkook nodded once, slipping back onto the bed. It was soft and warm, and his eyelids were drooping dangerously. Jimin pulled the covers back and crawled underneath them, eyes on Jungkook through the dark. Jungkook joined him beneath the sheets, unsure of how much space to put between them, but when Jimin scooted up to press his bare feet to Jungkook’s calves, he got his answer.

 “Hey,” Jimin said quietly when Jungkook slipped an arm over his waist.

 “Hey,” Jungkook replied, taking a deep breath with his nose against Jimin’s shoulder. He still smelled like sweat and sex and somewhere, beneath it all, coffee.

 “Are you okay?” Jimin asked him, and he felt one of Jimin’s hands settle gently on his jaw, on the side where he’d been slapped. “Did I hurt you?”

 Jungkook had to chuckle at the question. “Of course you did,” he replied, words slurring a little with exhaustion. “I asked you to.”

 Jimin huffed, rubbing his thumb over the curve of his cheek. “I mean, are you okay now?” A pause. “Does it still hurt?”

 Jungkook shook his head, and he was being truthful. It might be sore in the morning, maybe even a little blue, but it didn’t matter. It was what he’d wanted. “I’m fine, Jimin,” he whispered. “Go to sleep.”

 The other man seemed to relax at that, letting his hand fall from Jungkook’s cheek to his shoulder.

 “Goodnight,” Jimin said, so softly Jungkook almost didn’t hear.

 Jimin’s breath was warm and sweet on his skin, and for just a moment, Jungkook wanted to reach out and find his mouth, press one more kiss against it.


 Jungkook woke with a start, noticing two things at once: his head felt like it was filled with cotton and he face hurt. He opened his eyes to muted morning light, not quite yellow through the window. He shifted and felt warm skin against his chest, soft hair between his fingers. Everything from the night before came rushing back: Jimin kissing him on the dance floor, following the other man home, the sex and the painful pleasure of the back of Jimin’s hand on his face. He flexed his jaw experimentally and winced when the movement shot a shock of pain through his cheek.

 Jimin breathed steadily next to him, asleep on his back, and the lines of his face were lined in the soft light of morning. Jungkook studied him for a short time, how his lips parted when he breathed in and the way his eyes twitched beneath his lids. Beautiful, he thought to himself, the word almost escaping his mouth into the silence.

 He blinked a few times and inhaled deeply, hoping it would clear his head. The beginnings of a hangover headache were pounding behind his eyes, and something was telling his legs to get him out of Jimin’s apartment. He felt a little shameful as he detangled himself as gently as he could from Jimin’s body and slipped out of the bed. He didn’t necessarily want to leave—in all honesty, the bed was more comfortable than his at home, and Jimin’s skin was soft and warm. He sort of wanted to taste Jimin’s mouth one more time, when he was sober and able to actually appreciate it. But he didn’t know what last night meant, he didn’t know anything other than Jimin still despised him. The sex had just been sex, and Jimin had been just as drunk as he was. It was a hook-up, not Jungkook’s only, not in the slightest, and he was used to leaving in the morning.

 So he pulled on his jeans and grabbed his shirt, grimacing when he felt the dried come on the front. He slipped it on anyway and made his way to the bedroom door, looking over his shoulder one more time. Jimin had turned over in his sleep, one arm draped over the spot where Jungkook had laid only a few minutes before. Jungkook clenched his jaw and ignored the urge he felt to crawl back into the bed and pull Jimin into his chest.

  Jungkook tip-toed down the hall, wandering, because he didn’t remember exactly where the front door was, when he had the absolute shit scared out of him by two figures seated on the couch in the living room, one’s face illuminated by a phone screen and the other cloaked in shadow holding what looked to be a coffee mug in two hands.

 “Fucking hell,” a voice said, too loud in the silence of morning, and Jungkook recognized it almost immediately at the same time he registered the face lit by the phone screen. Hoseok. Which meant the other person on the couch—

 “Jungkook!” Taehyung yelped, nearly dropping the mug between palms.

 “Jesus Christ,” Jungkook muttered, bringing a hand to his chest and leaning against the nearest wall. “What are you guys doing here?”

 “Last time I checked, I live here,” Hoseok said flatly, cocking an eyebrow at him. “Taehyung spent the night.”

 Jungkook felt all the blood drain from his face as he realized what that meant. If Hoseok and Taehyung had been here last night, that meant—

 “Yes, we did hear you last night,” Taehyung said, taking a sip of his coffee and confirming Jungkook’s horrific suspicions. He groaned and screwed his eyes shut, knocking the back of his head against the wall. That didn’t help his headache.

 “You guys are into some rough shit, I can tell you that,” Hoseok said, turning his attention back to his phone. “I knew Jimin was a kinky fucker but you?” The older man smirked and clicked his tongue. “Never would have guessed.” Taehyung snickered at his boyfriend’s side.

 “Fuck off, both of you,” Jungkook said, squaring his shoulders and moving towards the door to look for his shoes.

 “Don’t worry, Jungkookie, we won’t tell anyone!” came Taehyung’s voice from the living room. Jungkook rolled his eyes and stepped through the door, his face burning with embarrassment.

 For the next few weeks, he avoided Jimin as much as he could. Taehyung invited him to a movie night at Hoseok’s place that Jungkook politely declined, saying he had plans to work out that night. It wasn’t a lie, not exactly; he did have plans to work out, but he also wasn’t ready to see Jimin and be back in his apartment, not after their night together. He felt scared, but unsure of why. Was he afraid of seeing Jimin ignore him, act like nothing had happened between them? What did he even want Jimin to say? That he’d had a good time? Tell him to fuck off? He ran four miles on the treadmill that night, working as hard as he could to push images of Jimin out of his mind.

 Seokjin’s birthday came around, which was always the older man’s excuse to throw giant parties at his house on the edge of town. It was a big house, too bit for Seokjin living alone with his two cats, but he was an entertainer, and Jungkook was almost certain he’s bought the thing just so he could throw birthday parties and invite everyone he knew. Jungkook couldn’t turn down the invitation Seokjin sent him in the mail. He was Jungkook’s senior firefighter, practically his boss, and a close friend, as well—he couldn’t bail on this. As he got ready to leave his apartment that night, he anticipated seeing Jimin there with anxiety; he was Seokjin’s friend, too. Jungkook fidgeted the entire bus ride to Seokjin’s house and held his breath as he stepped inside.

 The house was filled with people Jungkook recognized, mostly people from the station. He spotted Hoseok with his chin hooked over Taehyung’s shoulder in the kitchen as the younger man pulled two pieces of pizza from a box and onto a plate. Seokjin was animatedly talking to a group of people in the living room, getting to his feet when he saw Jungkook enter the room.

 “My favorite dongsaeng!” the dark-haired man shouted, taking Jungkook in a light chokehold and ruffling his hair with his free hand.

 “I thought that was me!” Taehyung bellowed from the kitchen, poking his head around the wall with a piece of pizza hanging out of his mouth. “You lied?!”

 Jungkook laughed as Seokjin stuttered.

 “Ah, Taehyungie, you know how these things go,” he said finally, releasing Jungkook from his grip and giving him a grin. “Thanks for coming.”

 Jungkook gave his friend’s shoulder a light shove. “Of course, dude. Happy birthday.”

 Seokjin leaned towards him conspiratorially, placing a hand on the back of Jungkook’s neck. “Jimin’s out back,” he whispered. “He asked if you were gonna be here.”

 Jungkook’s blood ran cold at the mention of Jimin’s name. “He did?” he replied, and Seokjin nodded. “Uh. Okay. Thanks.”

 Seokjin slapped him on the back once before returning to the group he’d been speaking to before.

 Jungkook was unsure of where to go and who to talk to. Taehyung eventually greeted him with a tight hug, Hoseok ruffling his hair with a long-fingered hand. He didn’t miss the knowing smile Hoseok shot him as he followed Taehyung into the living room, and Jungkook groaned internally.

 He ended up stepping into the backyard a few minutes later, the chatter of the crowd muting behind him as he shut the door. There were only a couple people outside, one of them being Jimin. He had his feet pulled up onto an outdoor couch and in his lap sat one of Seokjin’s cats, a small calico named Danbi. She was rubbing her nose along Jimin’s chin, and the man chuckled at her touch, both of his small hands running gently down her back. He noticed Jungkook after a moment, looking up to meet his eyes.

 “Hey,” he said when Jungkook had taken a seat in a chair across from him, hands gripping the armrests too tight.

 “Hey,” he said back, and was reminded all too clearly of their exchange in Jimin’s bed that night a few weeks before, after they had sex.

 There was an uncomfortable silence then, the sound of Danbi’s contented purrs from Jimin’s lap the only thing filling the air. Jungkook expected Jimin to say something, not even about their relationship or what they were to each other after the night at the club, just something. He’d asked Seokjin about him, right? Why did he care if he wasn’t going to say anything?

 There was another beat of silence before Jimin lifted the cat from his lap and placed her on the floor, watching her trot away through the cat door with her tail in the air.

 “Danbi’s the nice one,” Jungkook blurted out, and Jimin looked up at him. “And she’s declawed, so even if she wanted to, she couldn’t hurt you.”

 “The ‘nice one?’” Jimin repeated, sitting up straight to give Jungkook a look. “Where’s the mean one?”

 Jungkook knew this conversation was filler, noise to fill the silence, but it was better than staring at each other with nothing to say.

 “Suwon hates everyone that isn’t Seokjin,” Jungkook explained, putting on a small smile. “He’s probably waiting on the roof for everyone to leave so he can make it inside to sleep in Seokjin’s bed later.”

 Jimin nodded absently, leaning against the back of the couch to look up at the sky. It was dark now and the stars were easier to see here. Seokjin’s house was far enough from town for the light pollution not to affect their view of the stars. Jungkook tilted his head back to look as well, exhaling through his nose in relief. He didn’t know how much longer he could have looked at Jimin before the discomfort became too much to bear. He felt something like disappointment curling in his chest, behind his ribs, but he didn’t want to acknowledge it. If Jimin wasn’t going to talk about what happened, then he wouldn’t either. He’d been right. A hook-up is a hook-up and nothing more.

 They sat in silence until Taehyung and Hoseok joined them, Danbi struggling to free herself from Taehyung’s grasp. Hoseok looked cautious at first, a hand hovering on Taehyung’s elbow. But when Jimin offered his roommate a welcoming smile, the older man relaxed, telling Taehyung to please be careful with the cat, sugar, she’s Seokjin’s pride and joy before settling next to Jimin on the couch.

 The rest of the evening was normal: Hoseok and Taehyung leading conversation with Jimin giggling at Hoseok’s impersonations and Taehyung trying desperately to get Danbi to love him back. Jungkook stayed mostly silent. He didn’t want to be there anymore, didn’t want to be under Jimin’s gaze, which alternated between hovering on him and staring at his own feet. His discomfort must have been apparent, because Taehyung abruptly asked him if he was okay. Jungkook nodded and got to his feet quickly, eager for a chance to remove himself.

 “I’m actually not feeling the best,” he told Taehyung, who frowned in response. “I think I’m gonna head home. I’ve gotta be at the station early tomorrow anyway.”

 Taehyung was Jungkook’s best friend, and he was not an idiot. Jungkook watched him shoot Hoseok a cautious look and knew what would likely come if he didn’t get out of there fast.

 “I’ll see you guys,” he said, not letting his eyes rest on Jimin before turning his back and walking into the house.

 The party had died down a little inside. Seokjin lounged on a loveseat with Suwon on his lap, the huge black cat yawning widely as Jungkook passed.

 “I’ll see you later, hyung,” he told Seokjin with a wave of his hand. “Thanks for having me.” He tried to smile but it felt void of any of the warmth he tried to convey. All he wanted to do was go home and sleep. Seokjin said something to him but he pretended not to hear, pushing the front door open and taking the steps down two at a time. He broke into a run when he hit the sidewalk, his eyes burning and his chest tight. He ran all the way home, not bothering to take the bus.

 His chest heaved as he unlocked his apartment, slipped his shoes off at the door and tried to catch his breath. He pressed his forehead against the nearest wall, squeezed his eyes shut and tried to make sense of his emotions. But they didn’t make sense, not at all. All he saw was Jimin’s crescent-moon eyes, all he heard was Jimin’s tinkling laugh.

 He pounded a fist against the wall, angry and sad and tired.

 Jimin was making his eighth ramen of the day when his phone went off in his pocket. He had his hands full with tofu and a cup of bean sprouts, so he ignored it. Whoever it was could wait until he’d finished up. He listened to the tune cut off as he cracked an egg into the steaming broth, but jumped when the music started up again, the vibrations loud against the denim of his jeans. He sighed, exasperated, wiping his hands on his apron before reaching into his back pocket to pull out his phone. When he saw the name flashing on the caller ID, he rolled his eyes.

 It was Jungkook, the letters JK illuminated on the screen. He stared down at it for a second and considered letting it ring until the call dropped. He hadn’t seen Jungkook in a few days, not since Seokjin’s house party, and had heard even less from him in the last few weeks. Things had gotten awkward between them after they had sex in Jimin’s apartment, and even though part of him had wanted to pull the younger man aside one day so they could just fucking talk about it like adults, his pride was too strong. Jungkook obviously didn’t want to talk about it anyway, so who was Jimin to pry? It was just a hook-up, it was just Jeon Jungkook, the bratty bane of Jimin’s entire existence.

 But something compelled him to pick up the call, although he didn’t have anything nice planned to say when he held the phone to his ear.

 “I don’t have time for bullshit today, Jungkook,” he muttered into the phone, pressing it into his shoulder to finish sprinkling cilantro on the bowl of ramen. “I’m a busy man.”

 “Jimin,” a voice said from the other side of the line, a voice that wasn’t Jungkook’s. “Jimin, it’s me, it’s Taehyung.” The man sounded different, his usually deep voice raised an octave higher.

 Jimin froze at the panic in Taehyung’s voice, a smaller part of his brain wondering why Taehyung was calling him from Jungkook’s cell phone. “Tae?” Jimin stammered, taking his phone in a steady hand once more. “What’s up? Why are you—”

 “It’s Jungkook,” Taehyung said, cutting him off. His voice broke a little on the last syllable he spoke. “We got a call and-and it was this house fire that got out of control and I tried to tell him, Jimin, I tried to tell him to wait for backup, but there was a kid inside and he—” A sob fell from Taehyung’s mouth as he rambled. “He went in without me to look for her but he never came out.” Jimin’s heart was pounding against his ribcage, rattling it so hard it hurt, and he put a palm on the counter to steady himself. “Backup found him in the house with the girl but the ceiling fell through and a beam caught him on their way out and now-now we’re at the hospital and we don’t know—” Taehyung inhaled once, long and slow, trying to calm himself. “We don’t know if he’s gonna make it.”

 Jimin’s world spun for a moment as he pressed his phone against his ear hard, desperately trying to make sense of what he heard. Jungkook was hurt. Jungkook was in the hospital. Jungkook might die.

I didn’t tell him. His chest felt so tight, he thought it would burst. I didn’t tell him.

 “Jimin?” came Taehyung’s voice again, pulling him out of his head.

 “Yeah, yeah, I’m—” He reached behind him with his free hand to loosen the tie of his apron and pull it over his head. “I’m on my way. I’m coming there, okay?”

 “Okay,” Taehyung replied. “See you soon.”

 Namjoon stepped into the kitchen as Jimin was folding his apron and shoving it in a drawer. “Going somewhere?” the taller man asked when Jimin wrote down Hoseok’s phone number on a napkin.

 “I have to go and I might not be back today,” he told Namjoon, trying to keep his voice from shaking. “Call Hoseok, alright? He’ll come here and help you hold the place down.”

 Namjoon took the napkin from Jimin and watched him frantically try to clean things up before leaving. Lunch rush had just passed and everything was still a mess.

 “Jungkook is hurt a-and in the hospital and I have—” Jimin swallowed a sob, tears burning behind his eyes. “I have to go.”

 Namjoon’s eyes hardened at Jimin’s words and unexpectedly, he wrapped his arms around Jimin’s shoulders, pulling him tight to his broad chest. Jimin let him hold him there for a few moments before pushing back against him and wiping at his eyes.

 “Go,” Namjoon said, his expression one of determined worry. “I’ll be okay here, go.”

 After pressing a kiss into Namjoon’s cheek, Jimin hurried out of the café and let his feet take him to the nearest bus stop. His head was lost now, his mind swirling with terror and anxiety and something else he couldn’t quite place.

I didn’t tell him, I didn’t fucking tell him.

 He made it to the hospital in less than fifteen minutes, ignoring the way people stared as he sprinted up the stairs of the building and flew into the emergency room, eyes searching frantically for Taehyung. Jimin spotted him in a chair nearest the double doors that led into the emergency ward, face tinted black with soot and dirt. He still wore his yellow firefighting suit, pulled halfway down to waist, and he jumped to his feet when he saw Jimin hurrying towards him. They hugged quickly and Jimin reached up with both hands to cup Taehyung’s dirty cheeks.

 “You’re okay, right?” he asked. “You’re not hurt, you’re okay?”

 Taehyung nodded, and Jimin could see the exhaustion mixed with fear behind the tears in his eyes. “They took him into surgery, said something about an impaled lung and his leg—it might be broken.” His voice shook, and Jimin tried to reel in his own fear by taking one of Taehyung’s hands.

 “Alright, sweetheart, let’s just—” He searched for words of comfort but couldn’t find any. “We can sit and wait.”

 Jimin guided Taehyung back to his chair and curled up in the one next to him, pulled the other man’s hand into his lap and rubbed his thumb over the veins. His head swam with images of Jungkook bloodied, bruised, an arm wrapped around the body of a child. He thought about his round eyes, and quirk of his smile, that scar on his cheekbone that Jimin had never asked about. Panic and worry tightened in his chest and he focused on the rough warmth of Taehyung’s hand to keep himself from losing composure.

 An hour passed, and then two. Taehyung worried at his bottom lip the whole time, thick eyebrows furrowed and his lips turned down. Seokjin showed up after the third hour, his dark hair askew and his handsome features etched with worry. He looked cleaner than Taehyung, but no less exhausted. He gave Taehyung a pat on the cheek with his hand and scooped Jimin into a hug, one so tight, Jimin nearly choked.

 “Thought I’d find you here,” Seokjin mumbled in his ear, and Jimin could hear the teasing edge on his voice. He stepped back from Seokjin’s chest to give him a measured look, one eyebrow raised, before settling back into his seat and pulling Taehyung’s hand back into his lap.

 Seokjin sat and Taehyung gave him the overview of Jungkook’s condition and what the doctor had said. The older man ran a hand over his face and sighed, long and heavy. “Leave it to Jungkookie to give us all a run for our money.”

 More time passed that Jimin couldn’t measure. The emergency room emptied steadily until the three of them were the only ones there. It was dark outside when Jimin couldn’t stay seated anymore, got to his feet to pace back and forth on the carpet.

I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell him.


 He froze mid-step, turning to look at Taehyung sideways.

 “What did you say?”

 Puzzled, Jimin ran his fingers through his hair. “What?”

 “You said something,” Taehyung replied.

 Jimin blinked a few times frowning. Had he? Had he said out loud what he’d been thinking?

 “I, um, I didn’t tell Jungkook—” His voice wavered as he spoke the other man’s name. “I’m such an-an idiot, I never told him.”

 “Told him what?” Taehyung asked, head tilted to one side, but before Jimin could reply, the double doors to the ward opened and a short woman in surgical scrubs stepped into the waiting room, a face mask pulled down over her chin.

 “You three are here for Jeon Jungkook?” she asked in a stern voice, and Taehyung nearly leaped to his feet, Seokjin nodding quickly. “He’s in recovery.”

 Jimin’s heart flew into his throat and a brought a hand to his mouth in relief. He was alive.

 “It was a very close call,” the doctor explained, rolling her neck. “He’s still unstable and we’re going to have to keep an eye on him.” Her eyes were guarded, heavy. “A punctured lung isn’t easily fixed.” She didn’t want to give them hope, and it made Jimin feel sick. “You can come see him if you’d like.”

 They all followed the doctor into the ward, Jimin taking hold of Taehyung’s hand again because he looked like he was going to cry. She led them to a room with a closed door and nodded once. “I’ll be down the hall if you boys need anything.” Seokjin, ever valiant, shook the doctor’s hand before she turned to walk away, leaving the three of them to enter the room together.

 Jungkook looked unlike Jimin had ever seen him. A long bruise was developing on one side of his face, starting beneath his eye and moving to his chin. Small cuts littered his cheeks and he had a thick piece of gauze taped to his hairline. He was in a hospital gown, the front opened slightly to reveal a tube of some sort feeding into his chest, attached to a machine at his bedside making rhythmic, breath-like noises. It was breathing for him. One of his legs was lumpy and thick under the sheets, likely in a cast. For the first time ever, Jungkook looked small.

 Taehyung made a worried noise before hurrying to the side of the bed, crouching down to fish Jungkook’s hand out from beneath the covers. “You fucking dumbass,” he mumbled. “Why do you have to be so heroic?”

 Jimin pulled up the nearest chair and settled into it, Seokjin doing the same on the other side of the bed.

 They didn’t speak for a long time, the sound of the machinery in the room filling the silence. Jungkook’s chest rose and fell automatically, and as Jimin watched his eyes, he saw that they didn’t flicker behind his lids. Jungkook was well and truly unconscious, and Jimin tried to ignore the looming possibility that he may not wake up.

 After what seemed like an eternity, Seokjin lifted his head from his hands and got to his feet. Taehyung had fallen asleep on his knees, head resting on the side of Jungkook’s bed, and Seokjin put his hand in the man’s hair and ruffled it slightly.

 “C’mon,” he murmured to Taehyung. “I’m taking you home.”

 Taehyung protested weakly, looking up at Seokjin with heavy eyelids, but the taller man shook his head. “Let’s go. Now.”

 Taehyung pouted, pulling himself to his feet and letting Seokjin put an arm around him.

 “You call me if anything changes,” Seokjin told Jimin, attempting a smile. Jimin nodded and watched them go, his eyes lingering on the door even after it clicked shut.

 “I can’t believe you,” Jimin said quietly, unnerved by the sound of the breathing machine beside him. “I can’t believe you pulled something like this.” He was talking just to get the weight off his chest, a small part of him hoping that Jungkook could hear. “Taehyung was right, why do you have to be so—” His breath caught in his throat and he swallowed. “So good?” He reached out slowly to take Jungkook’s hand in both of his, noticing the calluses on his palms and the jagged cut of his nails. He was quiet for another few moments, words swimming in his head and pounding against his skull.

 “I should have said it sooner,” Jimin whispered, running his fingertips over the top of Jungkook’s hand. “I should have told you and now I might not get to.” His eyes burned and he squeezed them tight, willing the tears to stay back. “I should have told you that I love you, Jungkook. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you when you could hear. I’m sorry.”

 The tears fell then and he leaned forward, pressing his forehead into Jungkook’s wrist, the warmth of the other man’s skin a small comfort. He cried quietly, biting his lip in an attempt to hold back a sob. His heart was seared around the edges in his chest and he almost forgot how much Jungkook infuriated him, how angry he got with the younger man when all he did was taunt and tease. Images of Jungkook’s smile filled his head, the wrinkle of his nose and the freckles on his neck, the scar on his cheekbone and the curve of his shoulders.

 After saying it out loud, Jimin was very sure. He loved Jeon Jungkook.

 Movement beneath the sheets of the bed pulled Jimin’s head up, his cries stopping with a sharp inhale. Jungkook’s eyelids fluttered open and he focused on Jimin first thing, the hand in Jimin’s grasp closing on his fingers weakly. Jimin didn’t breathe, pulled his chair closer and held Jungkook’s hand a little tighter.

 “I know,” the other man said, so quietly Jimin almost couldn’t hear. “You didn’t have to tell me—” He winced and Jimin followed suit, the pain apparent on Jungkook’s face. “You didn’t have to tell me you love me.” He paused and his round eyes squeezed together a little at the corners in a small smile. “I know. I’ve known.”

 More than one emotion crashed down on Jimin at the words, relief and annoyance and some kind of angry affection. “You fucker,” Jimin spat, dropping Jungkook’s hand and getting to his feet. “I take it back, how dare you—” He covered his mouth with his hand to catch the sob that threatened to push past his lips. “You scared the shit out of me, Jungkook, I thought-I thought you were going to die—”

  “Jimin,” the other man said, a little louder than the first time he’d spoken. Jimin bit his lip and furrowed his eyebrows, looking at Jungkook with what he hoped was disdain. “Can we stop this, please?” His voice was tired, in more way than one, and his round eyes held something Jimin didn’t recognize.

 “What are you talking about?” he asked, sitting in his chair again.

 “It is—” Jungkook began, breath catching briefly in his chest. Jimin reached for his hand again, despite his annoyance. Jungkook tried again, fingers tightening around Jimin’s. “It is exhausting pretending I wouldn’t be just fine spending the rest of my life loving you, Park Jimin.”

 It was Jimin’s turn for his breath to catch before it came out in a long sigh, shaky with emotion. “When did you get so good with words?” he asked Jungkook, lifting the other man’s hand to his lips.

 “Near death experience can do that,” Jungkook mumbled, detangling his fingers to place his palm on Jimin’s cheek. “I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you for weeks but I didn’t…” He trailed off, shaking his head weakly. “I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t know how to do anything other than be a fucking brat.”

 Jimin hummed in agreement and Jungkook’s eyes danced with that familiar mischief.

 “What am I going to do with you?” Jimin said, leaning into Jungkook’s touch. “Can’t leave you be for a few weeks without you charging into a fire.”

 “That’s my job, Jimin,” Jungkook replied with a scoff, and he threaded his fingers into Jimin’s hair, pushing it back from his face.

 They were quiet for a long time, looking at each other. Jungkook seemed to be searching for something, the way his eyes were fixed so intently on Jimin’s face.

 “You’re staring,” he muttered, and Jungkook smiled.

 “You’re beautiful,” he replied, all in one breath, as if he’d been waiting a long time to say it. Maybe he had.

 Jimin’s heart jumped in his chest, and boy, did he love this stupid, absolutely infuriating boy.

 Jungkook sat at the bar of Jimin’s café, elbows on the wood and his chin in his own hands. He watched Jimin rush back and forth between taking orders at the register and walking to the kitchen to help Namjoon make them. He had an untouched bowl of ramen in front of him, the steam floating up to curl around his nose and make his mouth water. It was too hot to eat still, so Jungkook settled for watching Jimin work. It was all he could really do at the moment anyway, considering half of his right leg was consumed in a cast.

 It had been nearly a month since Jungkook was released from the hospital, his lung almost fully healed and the compound fracture in his leg on its way as well. He’d be stuck in a cast for another three weeks before getting a boot, and he wasn’t allowed to put weight on it until then. He’d been hobbling around on crutches since his discharge, and he was more than finished with them. He’d threatened to burn them on multiple occasions, the only thing keeping him from doing so being Jimin’s calming encouragements.

 He’d asked Jimin to be his boyfriend the day he was released from the hospital, with his chest wrapped tight in medical dressings and his ass sat in a wheelchair. Jimin had blushed furiously in Jungkook’s hospital room, his face flushing a bright pink before leaning down to kiss Jungkook as gingerly as he could manage, whispering a quiet yes to his lips.

 And so here he sat: watching Jimin speed through lunch rush, his leg only somewhat pulsing beneath his cast, crutches leaned against the bar, and he couldn’t remember any other time he’d felt as happy.

 “What are you thinking about?” a voice asked, and Jungkook blinked a few times to focus on Jimin in front of him. His eyes were those smiling crescent moons and Jungkook blew a breath into his boyfriend’s face.

 “Your ass,” he replied as Jimin sputtered in front of him, eyebrows coming together.

 “I’ll be shoving those crutches up your ass if you’re going to be inappropriate with kids around,” Jimin muttered, leaning close to Jungkook’s face and tilting his chin up with a finger. There were, indeed, three young children seated at a table behind Jungkook, but he had little incentive to care. Jimin was his boyfriend now, yes, but that didn’t mean for a second he didn’t enjoy getting under the other man’s skin.

 “We might have to start a little smaller than that, peach,” he told Jimin with a wiggle of his eyebrows, to which Jimin responded with a strike to his shoulder.

 “You are something else, you know that?” he hissed, mouth twisting into what Jungkook knew as Jimin’s you’re bothering me but I find it adorable smile.

 Jungkook chuckled to himself and nodded. “One of a kind,” he replied.

 Jimin rolled his eyes but grabbed Jungkook’s face to kiss him once, quick and sweet. “Eat before I take that away from you,” he said, gesturing to the ramen before turning his back on Jungkook to hurry back into the kitchen.

 Jungkook watched him go, warm with affection, and picked up his spoon take a bite of his soup.

 Later that day, as Jungkook followed Jimin home, he realized very slowly that he would likely follow Jimin anywhere, even on crutches. He told Jimin so, and the other man stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to take Jungkook’s face in his hands.

 “That would hurt your armpits,” he said gravely, and Jungkook laughed loudly at the response. Jimin laughed too, that sweet, high giggle, and Jungkook wanted to record it, keep it in the back of his mind for any day that he wouldn’t hear it.

 “You believe me though, right?” he asked Jimin as they stood there, Jungkook hunched over his crutches, and the other man nodded.

 “Yes, baby, I believe you.” He kissed Jungkook three times, one on each cheek and the last on the mouth.

 “Good,” Jungkook said, and they continued on their way, his crutches making an even thumping noise against the concrete.