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i am short of breath (standing next to you)

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 Jungkook has always loved flowers.

 His mother’s favorite stories to tell about him are ones where he would bring her flowers from other peoples’ yards—including the yard of the very rich, very old man across the street with rose bushes to rival any other.

 He doesn’t recall much of what his mother says, but he does remember one particular instance: slipping between the bars of the iron fence around the old man’s yard, much to the dismay of Taehyung, who stood on the sidewalk by the road poised to run at any moment. It had been nearly sundown and Jungkook was determined to get his mother the biggest, most fragrant rose he could manage before dinner.

  “Jungkookie!” Taehyung whined. “Please hurry! We’re gonna get in trouble!”

 Jungkook remembers rolling his eyes; his best friend was fun, but Taehyung didn’t have an eye for the real adventures in life.

 He had picked his way carefully through the yard, examining each flower with care. He finally came across The Perfect Rose—full, round, the deepest of reds, and when he breathed in deep, he could almost taste it on his tongue.

 Now, five-year-old Jungkook may have been dedicated, but he wasn’t the brightest. He wrapped an entire hand around the stem of the rose only to jump back with a howl of pain. He heard Taehyung shouting his name from the other side of the fence.

  “I’m almost done!” he assured his friend over his shoulder, biting back tears. Hurt, frustrated, and a little high on adrenaline, Jungkook had tried again, more delicate this time, and managed to snap the stem between the thorns.

 He emerged from the yard triumphant, hand dripping blood with the rose held delicately between two fingers. Taehyung had ogled at him, told him he was brave, and Jungkook basked—he was brave, wasn’t he?

 When he’d said goodbye to Taehyung (and made his friend promise not to tell anyone he’d trespassed in the old man’s yard), he marched right into the house and presented his mother with the rose, right in the middle of the kitchen with blood rolling to his elbow and onto the floor.

  “To this day, he still loves flowers and still loves me,” she says, always with a fond smile.

 So it isn’t a surprise for anyone when Jungkook picks up a job at the local flower shop after graduating university. He’d would be lying if he said it wasn’t a job he’d love to have for a long time, but he would never say it out loud. It’s a little lame, especially considering his Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, but he decides he’ll tell people it’s a fallback job until he can find something more… grown up.

 His boss, Yoongi, is an older man that Jungkook falls into an easy friendship with. Yoongi is a little gruff, always looks tired, but has a kind disposition and a gentle hand. He teaches Jungkook how to arrange the bouquets in the most efficient ways, how to match shapes and colors so the arrangements are cohesive.

  “It’s a little like painting, to put it in your language,” he tells Jungkook one day over a dozen roses, half white and half red, with babys breath in between. “You have to see the big picture in your head before you start working, otherwise you’re going into it blind.”

 Jungkook watches Yoongi trim the stems and settle them all in a vase.

 Yoongi teaches him about meanings, too.

  “Roses, of course, symbolize love and desire,” he says from the counter later that day, watching Jungkook sweep up around the shop. “Sunflowers—adoration. Daffodils—happiness. Bluebells—humility. They’ve all got something to say.”

 Jungkook bends down to push the pile of leaves and twigs into the dust pan.

  “What about dandelions?” he asks, straightening up.

 Yoongi scoffs and leans on the counter, twisting a stray daisy between his fingers. “Those are weeds, Jungkook,” he says, and Jungkook wrinkles his nose.

  “They’re still flowers,” he mumbles, making his way to the trash can and tossing the contents of the dust pan into it.

 Yoongi shakes his head, though a smile plays at his mouth.

 From then on, Jungkook spends a lot of time researching the meanings of flowers.

  “Hyung,” he says one morning, putting together an arrangement to be picked up later in the day. “Did you know dahlias symbolize uncompromised love?”

 Yoongi nods, working on changing the water in the display vases.

  “And amaranth,” Jungkook continues, tucking a lily into the tissue of the bouquet. “They represent feelings that never fade.”

 Yoongi hums, humoring Jungkook as he works. “Did you find a flower encyclopedia?” he jokes, looking over his shoulder at Jungkook, who shrugs.

  “No, but I might try writing one,” he says simply. He holds up the flowers he’s put together in both hands. “How’s it look?”

 Yoongi finishes filling the last vase and scrutinizes the arrangement from where he stands.

  “Pretty good, kid,” he says, and Jungkook preens. “I’ve taught you well.”

 Jungkook throws him a sarcastic glare when the bell above the front door jingles. Yoongi greets the person entering with his signature quiet hello, and Jungkook should have said something similar, but all that comes out of his mouth is a rush of breath.

 The man that walks into the shop is nothing short of gorgeous, and Jungkook would find it a crime for anyone else to say otherwise. He’s tall and slender, curved in the right places, such as his shoulders and where his waist meets his hips in fitted slacks. He wears a pink dress shirt that makes his ivory skin glow in contrast and the top three buttons are undone, showing off sloping collarbones. The man’s hair is silky and black, falling over his eyes a little bit, and his lips—they’re pink and full and pulled into a smile as he returns Yoongi’s greeting.

 Jungkook swallows as the man approaches the counter and he realizes he’s going to have to speak. He clears his throat and sets the bouquet he’d been showing off to Yoongi aside.

  “Good morning,” he manages, a little choked, and he clears his throat again. “What can I do for you today?”

 He sees Yoongi eyeing him from across the shop and hopes now is not a time where the other man will utilize his unlikely talent of embarrassing Jungkook in front of other people.

 The man leans forward against the counter leisurely, resting his chin in one hand. Jungkook is absolutely endeared.

  “I was hoping you could help me out with some wedding arrangements,” the man says, and his voice is high and sweet. “I’m a planner and my clients requested flowers from this shop specifically.”

 Before Jungkook can speak, Yoongi makes a pleased noise. “You’ve come to the right place,” he says, slipping behind the counter. “Jungkook here is the exact man you want to see.”

 Jungkook offers the man a tight-lipped smile and can almost feel Yoongi glowing with amusement beside him.

  “Kim Seokjin,” the man says, standing up straight and offering his hand. Jungkook stares at it dumbly for a moment before taking it in his own and shaking it once. It’s huge and warm and very soft. “Let’s talk flowers.”

 Seokjin, as it turns out, loves to talk.

  “My clients have given me some artistic leeway with the bouquets,” he says as he examines the third collection of flowers Jungkook has shown him in the front corner of the store. He hasn’t touched any of the petals yet and for that Jungkook is grateful. He hates to see the flowers bruised. “They gave me a color scheme—pink—but not much other direction, so it looks like it’s up to you and me.” Seokjin glances at Jungkook over his shoulder with a rather sly smile and it makes Jungkook’s heart flip in his chest.

  “What were you thinking?” he manages, adjusting his stained work apron. “We’ve got lilies, carnations, daisies, chrysanthemums…”

 Seokjin has his nose buried in a pink rose when he straightens quickly and snaps this fingers. “Chrysanthemums,” he says. “Show me the chrysanthemums.”

 It’s nearly half an hour later that Seokjin has Jungkook pulling together a bouquet of pink chrysanthemums and roses, accented by sprigs of white forget-me-nots and a few ferns.

  “The ferns make it a little more… natural,” the older man muses as Jungkook arranges the flowers neatly in a vase on the front counter. Jungkook nods in agreement, careful not to let any of the rose thorns catch his skin. When he’s done, he steps back and studies the bouquet before glancing at Seokjin.

  “What do you think?”

 Seokjin looks at the bouquet for a long time, and Jungkook tries to hide a smile at the way the other man blinks his eyes, almost like he’s got something stuck in them.

 There’s another moment of silence before Seokjin nods enthusiastically and flashes Jungkook a grin.

  “You’ve done it,” he says, and Jungkook feels his face warming up.

  “Good,” he says with a nod, busying himself with pulling paperwork from a drawer in an attempt to hide his blush. “How many of these will you want and when?”

 Seokjin taps his chin and thinks. “Give me twenty,” he says finally, and Jungkook scrawls the number onto the paperwork. “Next Friday.”

  “I’ll have them ready by Thursday,” Jungkook says as he passes the paperwork for Seokjin to look over. “I can give you a call and let you know.”

 Seokjin nods and signs his name at the bottom of the page, leaving his phone number as well. “Perfect,” he says, and Jungkook is looking at his lips and the curve of his nose and he swears his insides are melted, pooling at his feet.

 Yoongi has disappeared, probably in the back taking inventory, so it’s just him and Seokjin in the store.

  “Thanks for all of your help,” Seokjin says. “I think you might see me around here a little more.”

 Jungkook’s heart jumps and he tries to keep his breathing steady.

  “I’ll look forward to it,” he says, realizing a little late that he might sound too eager.

 But Seokjin dips his head with a steady smile and hands Jungkook the clipboard.

  “Talk to you soon, Jungkook,” he says, gaze lingering for a moment, before turning to make his way out of the store.

 Jungkook flounders for a split second, eyes flickering between Seokjin’s back and a lavender rose he’d picked up earlier as he’d been showing Seokjin around the store. It was stupid and probably a little weird but ever since the man walked into the store, giving him one was all Jungkook could think about.

  “Ah, Seokjin-ssi,” Jungkook blurts out, grabbing the rose in one hand and hurrying around the counter to the front door. Seokjin turns at the sound of his name just as Jungkook makes it to stand in front of him. He hopes the other man can’t hear him swallow thickly as he lifts the rose into the space between them. “A free rose,” he says. “For your first order.”

 Seokjin’s mouth goes crooked in a smile and he looks Jungkook in the eye, almost coy.

  “Thank you,” he says, reaching out to take the flower. Their fingers brush at the stem and goosebumps rise on Jungkook’s skin.

  “You’re welcome,” he replies, letting his hand fall a bit too quickly to his side. “Have a, um, nice day.”

 Seokjin looks at the rose for a moment longer before offering Jungkook a small bow, who returns it stiffly. With a final quirk of his lips, Seokjin turns and steps out of the shop, the bell above the door jingling as he goes.

 Jungkook heaves a sigh, rooted where he stands.

  “The romance is palpable,” Yoongi’s voice comes from behind him, and Jungkook rolls his eyes. “That’s coming out of your paycheck, Jeon Jungkook.”

 Seokjin learns planning his best friends’ wedding is just as hard as planning a stranger’s wedding, if not harder.

 Hoseok cares too much and Namjoon doesn’t care enough. They’re peas in a pod, don’t get him wrong, but the grooms are on separate ends of the spectrum when it comes to their tastes in weddings. He can count the number of arguments he’s had to neutralize between the two on both hands and he can only take so much more of Hoseok’s anxious tears before he cries himself. His friends are paying him well and he loves them to death and back, but Seokjin is starting to wonder if the grief will be worth it. Seokjin thanks God that their wedding is still a few weeks away.

 He gets a call from an unfamiliar number one afternoon as he’s looking over food preparations for the wedding he’s got the next day. He’d usually ignore a number without a caller ID, but he’s desperate for a break, so he answers without a thought.

  “Hello?”

“Hi, uh, Kim Seokjin?” comes a rather shaken voice from the other end of the line.

  “Yes, this is he.”

“Ah, good, it’s Jungkook, from the flower shop.”

 Seokjin leans back in his seat and lets himself smile. “Jungkook, hi,” he says. He recalls the man’s face in his head, round brown eyes and an equally round nose. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

 There’s a short silence from Jungkook before he clears his throat. “Your chrysanthemum and rose bouquets are ready,”he says, and Seokjin almost falls out of his chair before jumping to his feet.

  “I nearly forgot!” he says, bringing a hand to his face.

 He hears something akin to a laugh from Jungkook before the man speaks again. “You can come get them any time,” he says, and Seokjin is already slipping his shoes on and grabbing the keys to his truck.

  “Expect me in fifteen minutes,” he says.

 Jungkook gives him a quiet okay before he hangs up the call.

 A little more than fifteen minutes later, Seokjin is walking into the flower shop, stuffing his keys into his pocket. Jungkook is at the counter, just like last time, staring thoughtfully at a bouquet of orange lilies. He looks up when he hears Seokjin enter and seems to nearly jump out of his skin.

  “Seokjin-ssi,” the man stutters. “Hi, uh, welcome back.”

 Seokjin winces. “Call me hyung, kid, you’re making me feel weird,” he says, leaning against the counter. Jungkook nods and averts his eyes, pushing the lily bouquet to the side.

  “Are you loading them in a car?” Jungkook asks, and when Seokjin says yes, the younger man jerks a thumb over his shoulder. “If you pull around the back, I can help you out.”

 Seokjin does so, backing his truck into the loading area at the rear of the shop. Jungkook is there already, moving some of the bouquets into the open. They’re exactly as he remembers them when Jungkook had put them together the week before, pink and full and delicate.

  “They’re really good, Jungkook,” he says, letting the tailgate of his truck down. “I can’t thank you enough.”

 The younger man dips his head in gracious response, lifting the first bouquet in its box, flowers peeking out over the edges, onto the back of the truck. “Of course,” he replies, and Seokjin helps, too. They soon have all of the bouquets loaded up and Jungkook tells him he can come back in to pay.

 Seokjin fishes his credit card out of his wallet at the front counter of the shop and hands it to Jungkook, who swipes it once before handing it back to him. Seokjin can’t help but notice how the tips of Jungkook’s fingers are stained green and there’s dirt beneath his fingernails. As he puts his card away, he thinks how Jungkook sort of reminds him of a boy playing in the dirt.

  “You’re all set,” Jungkook says, pulling Seokjin out of his head. He smiles at the younger man and when Jungkook returns it, he finds himself charmed by the way his nose wrinkles a little bit.

  “Good,” he says absently, shifting his weight between his feet. “Thank you, again.”

 Jungkook murmurs a quiet you’re welcome. Seokjin lifts a hand in farewell, but before he can take a step away, Jungkook’s face changes and he holds up a finger, leaning over the counter to pluck a white flower from a sample arrangement nearby. Seokjin’s heart rate hikes up a little (he can’t say why) when Jungkook offers him the flower, small enough to put in the pocket of a suit jacket.

  “Have a clover,” Jungkook says, and for the first time that day, steadily meets Seokjin’s eyes. “And drive careful with those bouquets.”

 Seokjin takes the flower between his fingers and twists it a little, examining the tightly clumped white petals. “Thank you,” he says, glancing back up at Jungkook. He’s a little shy, tapping the wood counter in front of him with a fingertip, but gives a short bow in response to the thanks. Seokjin raises the flower a in a gesture of goodbye and Jungkook smiles as if he’s trying to hide it, turning to make his way farther into the store.

 Seokjin slips into the driver’s seat of his truck and looks at himself in the rearview mirror. He slips the clover behind his ear and eyes his reflection for a moment longer before chuckling at himself, putting the car into gear, and driving away.

 Saturday is Jungkook’s only day off, and he usually spends it with Taehyung. Today, however, his best friend is out of town to visit his long-distance boyfriend, Bogum, who Jungkook has tried very hard not to be jealous of, but he can’t help but pout as he lays on his bed alone, scrolling through Instagram to see photos of Bogum and Taehyung’s faces squished together with the ocean in the background.

 He locks his phone and lets it slip from his hand to the floor. A wet nose taps his palm and he glances down at the small black cat that has emerged from beneath his bed, yellow eyes blinking in the brightness of the room.

  “Kuro, you’ll hang out with me, right?” he says, and the cat squeaks in response, as she nearly always does, before hopping up onto the bed with ease and curling up in the crook of Jungkook’s neck. He coos at the cat for a while, feels the low rumble of her purr against his cheek. He falls asleep like that eventually, and dreams about Seokjin.

 They stand in the flower shop and Seokjin is holding out a bouquet of flowers to him that he can’t name. They’re round and white and he can smell them—they’re sweet, sort of like honeysuckles, though he knows what honeysuckles look like, and that’s not them. Seokjin smiles and shakes the flowers a little, encouraging Jungkook to take them. He does, and the other man’s smile grows wider, eyes dancing. Jungkook feels himself blushing under Seokjin’s gaze and he brings the flowers to his nose. The petals are soft and they caress his cheeks like a gentle hand. The smell is lovely, and when he wakes up, he swears it’s still in his nose.

 When he goes to work the next day, he spends a good hour before the shop opens searching for the flower from his dream. Yoongi is there already as well, a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other; he lives in the apartment above the shop.

  “What are you looking for?” he asks Jungkook, peeking at him from behind his book, thin glasses perched on the end of his nose.

  “I had a dream last night about a flower I don’t know the name of,” Jungkook replies, slowly making his way through the shop and examining each white flower he finds. “They smelled like honeysuckles but they weren’t.” He huffs in frustration, crossing his arms over his apron.

  “It could have been anything, Kook,” the other man says sleepily, taking a sip of his coffee. “It was a dream, your mind could have made them up.”

 Jungkook supposes Yoongi is right, though he does make one more round through the shop before getting to work on changing the water in all of the displays.

 It’s unexpectedly busy for a Sunday. Jungkook is ringing up a man and his young daughter when he sees the girl eyeing a loose daisy on the counter. As her father digs in his pockets for his wallet, Jungkook grabs the flower and leans over the counter to offer it to the little girl. She blushes furiously as she takes it, leaning into her father’s leg. The man prompts the girl to thank him, which she does, very quietly. Jungkook winks at her in reply, and she giggles. The man pays with a grateful smile and leads his daughter out of the shop.

 Jungkook is startled when Seokjin is suddenly leaning against the counter, pouting dramatically.

  “Do you give free flowers to everyone?” the man asks; he must have seen Jungkook give the girl the daisy.

  “Only people I like,” Jungkook shoots back, tugging at his apron a little.

  “Good save,” Seokjin says, his pout disappearing, and Jungkook can’t hide his smile.

  “What are you here for today, hyung?” he asks, and Seokjin puts his chin in his hand in that way that he does.

  “Nothing, really,” he replies, and Jungkook tilts his head.

  “Is that so?”

 Seokjin straightens up and nods. “I just like it in here, I suppose,” he says a little dreamily, looking around. “Smells better than my office does.”

 Jungkook hums—the flower shop smells a lot better than most places.

  “Feel free to roam,” he says as a group of people walk through the front door. “It’s a little busy today.”

 Seokjin gives him a nod, eyes lingering on Jungkook for an extra moment, before he walks farther into the shop, hands clasped behind his back. Jungkook watches him go until an elderly woman makes it to the counter with a dozen roses in one arm.

 While Jungkook works, Seokjin wanders. He sniffs each flower and reads the labels, even take a few between his fingers and holds them up to the light. Jungkook finds it amusing and curious.

 The stream of customers slows eventually and Jungkook slips out from behind the counter, making a beeline for Seokjin. Yoongi eyes him from a corner of the shop, winking once. Jungkook shoots him the bird, and his boss drags a thumb over his jugular in a mock threat.

  “You can’t leave without a flower,” Jungkook says as he steps to Seokjin’s side. The older man looks at him sideways, one eyebrow raised.

  “I haven’t yet, thanks to you,” he says, turning back to study the wall of flowers he’s stood in front of. Jungkook’s heart does that flipping thing it does when he hears the smile in Seokjin’s voice.

  “Do you have a favorite?” Jungkook asks, letting his eyes float over the array of flowers filling the wooden boxes attached to the walls.

  “Don’t think so,” Seokjin replies, stepping forward to pull a babys breath from a nearby box. “I like them all.”

 Jungkook nods at the answer, though he was half hoping Seokjin did have a favorite so he could keep the knowledge of it in the back of his mind for later.

 “I have one for you then,” Jungkook says, turning around to walk to the other side of the store. He’d been researching flower meanings again, taking mental notes on the ones he found the most interesting or beautiful. As he reaches for a gardenia, he recalls what the website he’d been reading through had said about the flower.

 He picks the oldest bloom he can find because he thinks gardenias are the prettiest when they’re open all the way and takes it back to Seokjin. When Jungkook holds it out to him, he’s certain there’s a blush sprinkled across Seokjin’s cheeks as he takes the flower. Their fingers brush like they did that first day with the lavender rose, and Jungkook wonders if the other man feels the sparks between their skin like he does.

  “A gardenia,” Jungkook says, watching as Seokjin examines the flower. He brings it to his nose and sniffs once, sighing on the exhale. “They’re the most fragrant next to roses.”

 Seokjin looks at him from over the petals of the flower and his eyes are dancing the way they did in Jungkook’s dream the day before. His hair is silky and black and Jungkook really wishes he could touch it, along with the slow curve of the man’s cheeks.

  “Thank you, Jungkook, as always,” Seokjin says quietly, letting the flower brush the skin of his nose as he breathes in its scent again.

  “Would you want to go to dinner with me?”

 Jungkook doesn’t recall giving his mouth permission to say those words, but from the way Seokjin’s smile pulls the corners of his mouth up high, they weren’t exactly the wrong words to say.

 “I thought I was going to have to ask you myself,” the older man says, and Jungkook’s chest is going to burst. “What did you have in mind?”

 Seokjin can’t remember the last time he went on a date (well, he can, but he likes not to) and he’s not sure he’s ever been on a date with someone as young as Jungkook.

  “You’re not that old,” Hoseok tells him as Seokjin stares at himself in the body mirror attached to his bedroom door. His friend is sprawled out on Seokjin’s bed with Namjoon nestled into his side, half asleep.

  “I’m closer to thirty than I’ve ever been,” Seokjin replies with some drama, debating on whether he should tuck his shirt in or out.

  “So am I, but you don’t see me fretting about it,” Namjoon mumbles from the bed, a little muffled by Hoseok’s t-shirt.

 Seokjin rolls his eyes and decides to leave his shirt untucked. They’re only going to get ramen, after all, it’s not like they’re going to drink wine and eat expensive chocolate cake, though Seokjin thinks that sounds like a really good idea in the long run, perhaps. Jungkook would probably look good with a glass of red wine in his hand, even better with the effects of it turning his cheeks deep maroon—

 He shakes his head and regards his reflection in the mirror with a stern glare.

Slow down.

 He nods to himself before turning back to Hoseok and Namjoon and lifting his arms out to the side. “How do I look?”

 Hoseok raises his head a little to give Seokjin a once over. “Handsome,” he says.

 Namjoon opens one eye and peers at Seokjin from where he’s curled into Hoseok’s chest. “Yellow is your color, hyung,” he says, referring to the pale yellow crewneck shirt Seokjin chose to wear. He tugs on the collar.

  “It’s not too much?” he asks, taking the hem between his fingers and pulling to look down at it with some worry. “Not too bright?”

  “It matches you,” Hoseok chirps.

 Seokjin wipes imaginary dust off of his jeans and checks his watch. He’s meeting Jungkook in fifteen minutes and he wants to be early.

  “Don’t forget to let the dog out, okay?” he says as he pulls his shoes on, having trouble tying them because his hands are shaking. Why are his hands shaking?

 As if on cue, Mickey appears from the hallway, tripping over his own paws before leaping onto the bed to land on Hoseok’s stomach. The man giggles and pulls the dog to his chest. “How could I forget about the baby?” he asks in a high voice, taking the dog’s face between his hands. Mickey looks thrilled by the attention, tail wagging furiously in Namjoon’s face. Seokjin has to chuckle at Namjoon’s disgruntled groans as he leaves the room to make his way outside.

 The night is clear, to Seokjin’s relief. He was worried some stray spring shower was going to roll in, but as he drives with his windows down, the near-dark sky is free of clouds, twinkling with stars.

 He pulls up to the restaurant to see Jungkook standing by the front door already, holding it open for a couple with three rambunctious children. When he makes it to the door, Jungkook perks up a little, smiling in the way he always seems to.

  “You beat me,” Seokjin teases.

  “The bus was early,” Jungkook replies slyly, pulling the door open farther with a dip of his head. “After you.”

 Seokjin steps through the door and feels Jungkook follow behind him.

  “How’s your week been, hyung?” the younger man asks when Seokjin requests for a table for two. He leans against the wall nearby and tries to look at Jungkook without being utterly obvious. The younger man wears a pair of well-fitted light wash jeans and a gray t-shirt that hangs off of him in the right places. His hair is parted today, showing off his forehead and dark brows; usually, when Seokjin sees him at the flower shop, he’s got it hovering above his eyes. He notices how much older Jungkook without his work apron on.

  “It’s been alright,” Seokjin replies, putting a hand in his pants pocket. “I’m actually in the process of planning my best friends’ wedding which is…” He looks at the ceiling, trying to find words. “… a lot harder than I thought it’d be.”

 Jungkook raises his eyebrows and steps forward so he’s facing Seokjin, leaning against the same wall.

  “At least you know them pretty well, right?” he asks, crossing his arms across his chest. Seokjin hums a little, shrugging a shoulder.

  “It’s not really about knowing them,” he replies. “It’s more about keeping them from killing each other.”

  “That would be a shame, right before the wedding,” Jungkook says, his voice lilting with a tease.

  “They should be paying me for preventing a funeral instead of planning the wedding,” Seokjin says with a chuckle.

 The hostess calls his name before Jungkook can reply and leads them to a table with two chairs and a small vase in the center, holding a single yellow flower. When Jungkook slides into his seat, he immediately reaches for it, frowning when he realizes it’s fake. Seokjin laughs at Jungkook’s pout and a smile creeps forward from beneath the younger man’s disappointment.

  “Fake flowers are my worst enemy,” he says, eyeing the vase with some aggression. Seokjin nudges the vase to the edge of the table, away from Jungkook.

  “I hate them, too,” he says with mock conspiracy. “Don’t worry, I’ll always buy fresh from you.” He winks and the giggle he gets from Jungkook chases away any nerves he’d had before now.

 They look over the menu together and Seokjin suggests the spicy ramen with beef, which Jungkook takes as a challenge.

  “It’s pretty hot,” Seokjin says after they order.

 Jungkook puffs out his chest and squares his shoulders. “I can handle it,” he says. “I’m the spicy food king.”

 Seokjin quirks an eyebrow but says nothing more.

  “So talk to me,” Jungkook says, leaning forward on the table with his elbows.

  “About what?” Seokjin asks.

  “About yourself,” Jungkook says. “I know what you do but I don’t know who you are.” He tilts his head as he speaks, as if endeared. Seokjin feels a little self-conscious under Jungkook’s imploring gaze, but it’s not uncomfortable. If anything, it’s nice to have someone ask about him every once in a while.

  “I, uh,” he begins, placing one hand on top of the other on the table and pretends to think hard. “I like long walks on the beach…” He feels Jungkook nudge him under the table with the toe of his shoe and he has to laugh. Jungkook does, too, along with a whine of hyung c’mon. Seokjin sighs and begins again.

  “I’m twenty-eight,” he says, to which Jungkook mockingly widens his eyes. Seokjin kicks him under the table this time. “I like dogs, I hate tomatoes, I prefer to go to bed early, sometimes I dream about riding a bike off of a ramp into a raging ocean.”

 Jungkook’s expression is a mix of interest and surprise. “That’s a weird thing to dream about,” he says at last with narrowed eyes. “Have you gone to a doctor about that?”

 Seokjin rolls his eyes and puts an elbow on the table. “If you think that’s weird, I should tell you the one about the giant earth worm.”

 Jungkook’s face changes. “Maybe after we eat,” he says with some hesitation.

 He tells Jungkook a little more about himself, about his family and his degree in social work.

  “But you’re a wedding planner now?” Jungkook questions around the straw of his drink. “Do you not do social work anymore?”

 Seokjin sits back in his chair. “I was a social worker specializing in the neglect and abuse of children,” he says. Jungkook leans forward as he listens. “I did it for a few years after I graduated, but when my niece was born, I had to stop.” There’s a brief silence between them before Seokjin speaks again. “It’s easier—” He makes air quotes around the last word. Nothing about his job had been easy. “—to see that kind of stuff when you don’t have a child that means something to you in your life.” He meets Jungkook’s gaze. “It becomes worlds different when you love a kid so much that you’d kill for them.” Jungkook is nodding, one hand around his water glass. “I saw far too many little ones in situations that I could never stand to see my niece in. I couldn’t take it for very long.” He shrugs and taps a hand on the table. “Maybe that makes me a quitter, I don’t know—”

 Jungkook shakes his head and says, “It doesn’t.”

 Seokjin nods absently and Jungkook gives him a smile so sincere, it tugs on his heart. “I think doing that job at all makes you a hero.”

 It’s been a while since he’s talked about his old job—it had been such a huge part of his life, he’d gotten his degree in it, for God’s sake—but he finds it hard, even now, to talk about with anyone who doesn’t know him well. Despite that, it’s almost easy with Jungkook.

  “Thank you,” he says.

  “You’re welcome,” Jungkook replies, his gaze soft, and takes a sip of water.

  “What about you?” Seokjin asks, changing the subject. “Talk to me.”

 Jungkook reveals his age—twenty-four—and that he had graduated from university the year before.

  “I chose fine art because I’ve always been good at it, I guess,” he tell Seokjin. “University kinda forced me to go above and beyond simple sketches and stuff like that. I ended up loving oil paints the most.” He snaps his fingers suddenly. “You know that painting on the wall in the shop? Behind the counter?”

 Seokjin tries to picture the shop in his head and nods. He remembers noticing a painting as soon as he walked into the shop the first time; large, rectangular, a snapshot of dozens of different flowers scattered over a huge wooden table.

  “That’s mine,” Jungkook says with pride.

 Seokjin raises his eyebrows, impressed. “You painted that?”

 Jungkook grins. “It took me nearly two weeks, a few hours every day,” he says. “It’s my pride and joy.”

 The younger man tells Seokjin about his cat, Kuro, and mentions a boy named Taehyung a few times.

  “We grew up on the same street,” Jungkook says about Taehyung with a fond smile when Seokjin asks about him. “He’s the yin to my yang.”

 Seokjin tells him that’s a very greasy way to put it, and Jungkook wrinkles his nose in response. He opens his mouth to say something but the waiter appears with their food, and the words die on his tongue.

 Seokjin watches Jungkook dig into his bowl of ramen, secretly waiting for the heat to hit him. Jungkook only hums after the first bite, poking at a piece of beef with his chopsticks.

  “Seokjin-hyung,” he says matter-of-factly, “you call this spicy? I call this a walk in the park.”

 No sooner has he spoken when his eyes grow wide and he exhales a heavy breath through his nose.

  “Takes a second,” Seokjin says knowingly, biting back a smile as Jungkook’s eyes start to water.

  “No big deal,” the younger man boasts, sniffing once and taking another bite of the ramen.

 Five minutes pass and Jungkook is blowing his nose into his napkin, a bead of sweat rolling down his temple.

  “Walk in the park, eh?” Seokjin echoes, popping a piece of egg into his mouth. Jungkook looks ready to cry, but he holds his ground.

  “Okay, it’s worse than I thought it would be,” he admits. His voice is cracked and watery. “But it’s still pretty damn good.”

 Seokjin guides a bite of noodles into his mouth and watches Jungkook a little longer. What a funny boy, he thinks to himself as Jungkook powers through another mouthful of beef and noodles, his nose running messily. Seokjin hands him an extra napkin and the other man can only nod in thanks, mouth full of spicy ramen.

 When they’re finished eating, the waiter brings the check. Seokjin reaches for it automatically, but Jungkook scoops it up before he can.

  “Jungkook,” Seokjin scolds.

  “Hyung,” Jungkook drawls.

  “Give me the check.”

 Jungkook hugs the leather folder close to his chest with one hand, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet with the other.

  “I’m the one who asked you to dinner,” he says as he slips his credit card between the covers of the folder and sets it back on the table. “So I pay.”

 Seokjin fumes, but only for a moment, because Jungkook’s reaching across the table to tickle him under the chin and he’s sure his heart falls through his ass to the floor.

  “You can buy my dinner next time, okay?” he says in a quiet, high-pitched voice.

 Seokjin wills himself to speak but all that comes out is a short fine as he averts his eyes, hoping the dim lights in the restaurant are hiding his blush.

 They walk out of the building together and Seokjin holds the door for him this time. “You want ice cream?” he asks as they make their way into the parking lot. It’s completely dark now but the moon has appeared, full and bright in the sky and casting a silver glow on everything.

 Jungkook hops a little, like an excited dog might, and gives him an enthusiastic yes.

  “Perfect,” he says, unlocking his truck and motioning for Jungkook to get in. “Me too.”

 On the drive, Jungkook tells Seokjin about working at the flower shop.

  “It’s the best job in the world,” Jungkook says, and Seokjin thinks that’s the most interesting thing he’s said all night. “I could do it for the rest of my life.”

  “Your dream job?” Seokjin asks, glancing at him sideways at a stoplight.

 Jungkook thinks for a moment before nodding and giving him a look that Seokjin can only describe as innocent.

  “Really?” Seokjin prods. “Even with your arts degree?”

 Jungkook shrugs, pulling on his seatbelt a little. “I’m an introvert with a fascination with floral,” he says with some drama. “There’s nothing I love more than being alone with flowers.” He taps his chin and grins. “Like Boys Over Flowers, but not.”

 Seokjin laughs and Jungkook has to remind him to drive when the light turns green.

 They get ice cream at a small creamery that Seokjin hasn’t been to for a long time (“I really can’t even remember the last time I ate ice cream.” “Hyung, please, don’t tell me such sad things.”) and they sit on one of the benches outside. Jungkook got rainbow sherbet, to which Seokjin wrinkled his nose, and Seokjin got dark chocolate. He amusedly watches Jungkook try to keep up with how fast his ice cream is melting down the side of the cone; it’s warm outside despite the absence of the sun. Seokjin hands him a napkin, which he accepts gratefully.

 They talk a little more as their ice cream cones get smaller. Jungkook likes to read manga and listen to American pop music. Seokjin mentions that he likes Katy Perry and Jungkook purses his lips with an affronted hum. Seokjin retaliates with a rendition of “Firework” while Jungkook cackles behind his hand and his face turns bright red. Seokjin tells him about Hoseok and Namjoon, how they’d all been attached at the hip since high school and ended up living together after graduating from university.

  “Things got a little weird once they got together, though,” Seokjin says, crunching on the last bit of his ice cream cone. “They’re not exactly… subtle.”

 Jungkook makes a face and Seokjin mirrors it.

  “I’m moving out when they get married anyway,” he continues, leaning back against the bench and watching Jungkook finish his dessert.

  “In town?” Jungkook asks, his mouth half full.

 Seokjin feels a stab of fondness and nods.

  “Right down the road from here, actually,” he says, and Jungkook seems to settle.

  “When are they getting married?” the younger man asks, in the process of wiping a sticky hand on the wood of the bench. Seokjin furrows his brows and hands Jungkook another napkin.

  “A few weeks,” he says as Jungkook takes the napkin. He sighs heavily as he listens to himself say the words. “God, a few weeks. There’s still so much to do.”

 Jungkook wipes his mouth. “I believe in you, hyung!” he almost shouts, lifting a fist.

  “Thank you,” Seokjin replies, that fondness hitting him in the chest again.

 They make it back to Seokjin’s truck and Jungkook says something about making it to the bus stop in time.

  “Nonsense,” Seokjin says. “I’ll drive you home.”

  “You don’t really have to—”

  “Seriously, I want to.”

  “Hyung, I can just—”

  “Jungkook! Get in the truck.”

 The other man pales but obeys, slipping into the passenger seat while Seokjin starts the car.

  “That’s my good dongsaeng,” Seokjin coos at him, ruffling his hair across the center console. Jungkook pouts, but he puts his seatbelt on and gets comfortable.

 He gives directions to his house and Seokjin drives as Jungkook tells him about how he’d managed to adopt Kuro.

  “I found her all alone on my doorstep one day last year,” he says with a sigh, looking wistfully out the window. “I’m almost sure her mother put her there because she knew I’d take care of her.”

 Seokjin finds Jungkook’s passion for his cat adorable. “You think?”

 Jungkook hums committedly. “Cats are smart,” he says, looking at Seokjin through the dark. “They know what’s best for their babies.”

  “Well, I’m sure she made the right decision,” Seokjin replies, and the other man seems satisfied.

 Jungkook soon points out his house and Seokjin is surprised to see that it’s actually a house, a small blue one nestled between two huge trees. He pulls into the driveway and glances at Jungkook.

  “Do you live alone?” he asks, mostly out of curiosity, and Jungkook nods. “With Kuro.”

 Seokjin smiles. “Of course.”

 They both get out and Seokjin walks Jungkook to his front door.

  “You wanna come in?” Jungkook asks with some hesitation when they reach it, and Seokjin feels his stomach flip.

 Jungkook is quirky and at times, boyish, with a cute laugh and bright eyes, but he’s also broad-shouldered and handsome, with a square jaw and slim waist. Seokjin can easily see himself surrendering to all of those things behind the walls of Jungkook’s small house, and judging by the way the other man’s eyes are suddenly intense and seem to be focused on Seokjin’s mouth, Jungkook can, too. Seokjin remembers what he told himself as he was getting dressed earlier that night: Slow down. Jungkook is hot, yes, but he’s also sweet and charming and so very cute. Seokjin wants to know him more, learn him better. Call him traditional, but Kim Seokjin doesn’t fuck on the first date.

  “I should actually probably go,” he says, willing himself to ignore the bubbling anticipation in his stomach. “I told Hoseok I would be back before curfew.” It’s a joke and Jungkook cracks a smile, but his eyes still hold that same intensity.

  “Kiss me, then?” he asks, and that really throws Seokjin for a loop. He steps forward to face Jungkook under the porchlight and raises an eyebrow.

  “You sure are cheeky, aren’t you?” he asks. “I thought I was going out with a quiet, dainty florist.”

 Jungkook winks. “Never judge a man by how he acts within work hours,” he says.

 Seokjin studies him for a moment and Jungkook turns coy, as if he didn’t just ask to be kissed on the front porch of his own house. His round eyes squint a little and he shifts his weight from one foot to the other.

  “Lucky you’re cute,” Seokjin says finally, reaching out a hand to take Jungkook’s elbow and pull him in for a kiss.

 It’s short and warm, close-mouthed, and Jungkook doesn’t even have time to touch him before Seokjin pulls back.

  “That was hardly a kiss,” Jungkook whines, chasing him a little.

 Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Cheeky and needy,” he says, tapping his index finger under the other man’s chin. “A work of art, you are.”

 Jungkook tilts his head up a little, doe eyes wide and begging, and Seokjin indulges him, pressing a slower kiss to Jungkook’s lips. When he leans back with a sly grin, Seokjin wonders if he’ll ever be able to refuse the kid anything.

  “See you around?” Jungkook asks, turning to unlock the front door.

  “Yeah,” Seokjin replies, licking his lips. He tastes sherbet.

  “Soon?” Jungkook is peeking around the door, looking hopeful.

 Seokjin smiles and Jungkook does, too.

  “Soon.”

 Jungkook has always considered himself a man of passion. When he likes something, he really likes it. The same, he’s realized, goes for people.

 To say that he’s got it bad for Seokjin might be the understatement of the century, but it’s really all that can be said. From the moment the older man kissed him on his doorstep the night of their first date, Jungkook hasn’t stopped thinking about him. The funny way he laughs, how his fingers bend a little extra at the knuckles, how his lips felt pressing a languid, chaste kiss to his mouth. He’d tasted like chocolate ice cream and something a little less sweet, like peppermint gum or maybe cinnamon. Jungkook is thirsty to taste it again.

 Seokjin comes into the shop a lot, almost daily, usually to order arrangements but sometimes with no reason other than to see Jungkook, to lean against the front counter and flirt over Jungkook pulling carnations and tulips into bundles and cutting thorns from roses. The older man is a tease, he comes to learn; leaving little touches on the tops of Jungkook’s hands, never letting a kiss last longer than a few moments. Seokjin leaves one day after bringing Jungkook lunch from the deli down the street, and Yoongi watches him go before saying to Jungkook from across the shop, “If you keep looking at him the way you do, he might melt.”

 Jungkook replies with a shrug and a grin—sue him. He’s enamored.

 Their next date is a walk along the river when Jungkook gets off work one Friday afternoon. Jungkook prepares himself to grab Seokjin’s hand as they step onto the sidewalk but the other man beats him to it, slipping his slender fingers between Jungkook’s with ease. He tries not to gush as he listens to Seokjin talk about the time he’d nearly fallen into the river, but his face must give him away.

  “Did I fluster you?” Seokjin asks with a laugh, tightening his hand around Jungkook’s a little. Jungkook purses his lips to hide his growing smile and squeezes Seokjin’s hand back.

  “Yeah, so?” he replies, his voice a bit gruff.

  “You’re cute, Jungkookie,” Seokjin says, pulling him a little closer to slip his arm around Jungkook’s shoulders. He fits perfectly into the crook of Seokjin’s arm and he’s comfortable there. Seokjin smells like aloe and oatmeal, like sunlight and warmth.

 They get takeout a little later and eat it on a picnic table by the river, Jungkook with sweet and sour pork and Seokjin with fried chicken. He asks Jungkook about his family and his childhood, about the first painting he ever made and if he likes sunrises or sunsets. Seokjin is attentive and caring and Jungkook decides he likes the older man’s attention very, very much.

 Seokjin insists on feeding Jungkook a piece of his chicken across the table and Jungkook accepts it, albeit a little shyly.

  “You’ve got to eat well,” Seokjin is saying sagely as he offers him another piece of chicken. “I’ve gotta keep your cheeks all round like that.” He pokes Jungkook’s left cheek with a chopstick. Jungkook offers him a strip of pork which he takes with enthusiasm, and Jungkook tries to keep his eyes from lingering on Seokjin’s lips wrapping around the wood of the chopsticks. He does like the older man for his squeaky laugh and bad jokes, how he dotes on Jungkook and makes him feel wanted, but Seokjin is nothing if not gorgeous—he’s thought so since the first time they meet a few weeks ago. And his lips are so full and pink and even though he’s kissed Jungkook a dozen times now, Jungkook longs for a little more. He lets his eyes fall to his food as Seokjin chews his food with a satisfied noise.

  “I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Seokjin says suddenly, and Jungkook looks up again. “Hoseok and Namjoon’s wedding, it’s next weekend, and I, um—” He stutters a little and Jungkook smiles, half because it’s cute to see the other man nervous and half because he knows what Seokjin is going to ask. “I still need a plus one.”

 Jungkook takes another bite of his pork and looks at Seokjin through his lashes.

  “And?”

 Seokjin rolls his eyes, pursing his lips. God, does Jungkook love to tease him.

  “And this is me asking if you’ll be my plus one,” he says, almost as one word, and Jungkook laughs out loud around his mouthful of food.

  “Yes,” he replies after swallowing. “Of course I will, hyung.”

 Seokjin nods and picks at his chicken. “Good,” he says.

  “Good,” Jungkook echoes, and the look Seokjin gives him, like Jungkook is very precious, is enough to make him warm all the way to his toes.

 Two weeks and multiple dinner dates later, Jungkook has on his best (and only) suit and is struggling to tie his bowtie when there’s a knock at his front door. Kuro had been watching him from his bed and at the sudden noise, she jumps, unsheathing her claws on his comforter.

  “Chill out,” Jungkook chuckles at her as he hurries out of his room to get the door. When he opens it, Seokjin is standing on the porch, dressed sharp in a fitted black suit and powder blue tie. He smiles when their eyes meet.

  “Look at you,” Jungkook purrs playfully, leaning against the doorframe.

 Seokjin arches an eyebrow. “You can flirt with me later,” he says, tapping his watch-less wrist with a finger. “I’ve gotta be at the venue in half an hour.”

 Jungkook pouts in the way he knows Seokjin likes. “I like flirting with you,” he says as Seokjin takes it upon himself to tie his bowtie.

  “And aren’t you the cutest thing when you do?” he asks, his breath warm on Jungkook’s face. His hands work deftly at the bowtie and when it’s secure, he leans back a little to look Jungkook in the eye.

  “Hello,” he says quietly.

 Jungkook angles his chin up a little, asking, and Seokjin kisses him. Jungkook lifts a hand to the back of the other man’s neck and tugs him a little closer. Seokjin hums, separating for a moment before pressing another quick peck to his mouth.

  “Hi,” Jungkook replies, his lips a little numb and his voice a little breathless.

 Seokjin looks fond when he takes Jungkook’s wrist and tugs him out the door. “Let’s go,” he says, ignoring Jungkook’s complaints of That wasn’t a long enough kiss, hyung, can we just skip the wedding and—

  “Jeon Jungkook,” Seokjin says as Jungkook is locking the front door behind him. “I know you can’t resist me, but—”

 Jungkook shoves him roughly and he laughs in that hilarious, squeaking way he always does, and when they make it into Seokjin’s truck, the older man grants him another fleeting kiss over the center console, pulling on Jungkook’s lips sweetly with his own.

  They make it to the venue and Jungkook starts to feel a little tense. There are lots of people here, he can see them milling around and making their way inside, and he hasn’t even met Hoseok and Namjoon yet. He’s not sure what he and Seokjin are, really—they’re going out, going out on dates, but are they boyfriends? How will Seokjin introduce him? What if everyone thinks he’s just some annoying kid? He tugs on his bowtie.

  “Whatever you’re thinking about so hard, stop it,” Seokjin says from the driver’s seat, turning off the car and looking at him.

  “I’m just—I’ve never been to a wedding before,” Jungkook says, glancing at his reflection in the rearview mirror.

  “You look lovely and it’s going to be fun,” Seokjin assures him, taking his hand and shaking it a little. “C’mon. Hoseok and Namjoon can’t wait to meet you.”

 Jungkook exhales heavily before opening the door and getting out of the truck. Seokjin is at his side in a few moments and holds his arm out for Jungkook to take.

  “You really do look very good in this suit,” he whispers as he leads Jungkook into the venue, a small, quaint building that resembles an oversized gazebo. “I like seeing you dressed up.”

 Jungkook’s face burns at the compliment and when he looks sideways at Seokjin, the older man is regarding him with a degree of intensity Jungkook hasn’t seen from him yet.

  “Thanks, hyung,” he replies and feels Seokjin pull him a little closer as they walk.

 They make it inside and Seokjin walks them along the edge of the room, bowing and waving to a few people who greet him. Jungkook offers small bows of his head when people look his way, but they aren’t still long enough to exchanged words with anyone. Seokjin leads him to the front line of chairs and lets his arm fall to his side.

  “I’m gonna go find Hoseok and Namjoon, talk to them for a minute,” he says. “Sit here and I’ll come back before it starts, okay?”

 Jungkook nods and takes a seat, scrunching his nose a little when Seokjin ruffles his hair before disappearing through a nearby door. He takes deep breath, crossing his ankles and looking up at the ceiling. One huge chandelier is suspended in the center of it, jewels refracting the light sharply. There’s a steady chatter filling the air and Jungkook feels a little uncomfortable being so silent in a place where so many people are talking.

  “Is this seat taken?” comes a voice he doesn’t recognize. Jungkook brings his eyes back down from the ceiling to fall on a man standing at the empty chair beside him. He’s short and slender, wearing a pinstripe suit and black tie, with chestnut brown hair. He’s smiling a little, mostly with his eyes. He places a small hand on the back of the chair and his fingers glisten with silver rings.

  “Yes, uh, actually, it is,” Jungkook says, tripping over his words a little and sitting up higher in his chair. “Sorry about that.”

 The man glances past Jungkook’s shoulder at the chairs on his other side, but a couple has just settled into them, leaving no empty seats.

  “Ah, that’s okay,” he says, patting the chair with his hand. The metal of his rings makes a clacking noise against the plastic. “Thank you.” The man nods curtly and wanders off. Jungkook notes the sway of his hips as he departs but shakes his head a moment later.

 Seokjin returns after a few more minutes, looking exasperated.

  “Everything alright?” Jungkook asks as Seokjin slides into the chair next to him.

  “Just last minute jitters,” Seokjin replies, running a hand through his hair. “Hoseok is about ready to burst.”

 Jungkook gives him a sympathetic look and places a careful hand on the other man’s knee. Seokjin captures it in his own and leans against the back of his chair as music is played and the crowd gathered quiets down.

 He’s never been to a wedding, but Jungkook decides very quickly that he likes them. When Hoseok and Namjoon meet on the small stage at the front of the venue, Namjoon’s dimples appear, deep and identical, and Hoseok’s eyes are crescent moons in a smile so bright, Jungkook has to smile, too. Their vows are exchanged and rings are given, and when the men kiss, long and happy, Jungkook feels his eyes sting a little, just at the edges. He sniffs once, as casually as he can, but Seokjin, as always, reads him like a book.

  “You a sucker for love?” he whispers in Jungkook’s ear, and goosebumps tickle his skin.

  “Leave me be and watch your friends,” Jungkook bites back, giving Seokjin a sideways glare. The older man presses a light kiss to his temple and his goosebumps only grow.

 When Hoseok and Namjoon turn to face the crowd, Hoseok finds Seokjin and lifts a hand to wave. Seokjin returns it, and soon the man’s eyes fall on Jungkook. He dips his head slightly, offering a smile, and Hoseok seems to be studying him. He winks unexpectedly and Jungkook feels Seokjin stiffen beside him.

  “He seems fun,” Jungkook says, amused.

 Seokjin only scoffs.

 The reception is held in the back of the venue, a wooden dance floor nestled among the trees. There’s a huge cake on one table and an array of alcohols spread out on another.

“No food?” Jungkook inquires as he follows Seokjin through the crowd making their way outside.

  “Cake is food,” Seokjin replies, glancing over his shoulder and holding out a hand. Jungkook shakes his head and smiles, reaching out and letting his fingers tangle with Seokjin’s.

 They make it to where Hoseok and Namjoon are standing at the edge of the dance floor, greeting guests as they come through. Seokjin drops Jungkook’s hand to throw an arm around each of his friends’ necks, pulling them in for a group hug.

  “You fuckers finally did it,” he hears Seokjin mutter, and Namjoon lets out a laugh, shoving Seokjin back when the hug is broken.

  “I’m honestly surprised we all made it out alive,” Hoseok says, patting Seokjin’s shoulder once. “I thought there’d be at least one casualty.”

  “I believed in us the whole time, hyung,” Namjoon says, his smile never falling.

  “Here, it’s time you met Jungkook,” Seokjin says, and Jungkook is being pulled into the conversation by his wrist. “Jungkook, Hoseok and Namjoon. Hoseok and Namjoon, this is Jungkook.”

 Jungkook bows his head a little to each of them, and Namjoon eyes him before holding out a hand.

  “Finally,” the tall man says as Jungkook takes his hand. “We’ve heard only good about you.”

 Jungkook cracks a smile. “Same here,” he replies.

 Hoseok reaches for Jungkook’s hand when it falls from Namjoon’s. “I’m sure Seokjin-hyung has said at least one incriminating thing about me in the past few weeks,” he says, and Jungkook shakes his head with a laugh. “You don’t have to stick up for him.”

 Seokjin aims a strike to the back of Hoseok’s head and winds an arm around Jungkook’s waist.

  “Please, Hoseok,” he says, pulling Jungkook away. “Don’t ruin my image.”

  “Don’t have to work very hard!” Hoseok calls after them, and when Jungkook cackles at the words, Seokjin hits him, too.

 The sun goes down and the string lights are turned on, wrapped around the tree trunks and along the branches. Upbeat music is playing as Jungkook and Seokjin sit at a table near the dance floor, drinks in hand and empty plates in front of them. Seokjin went through three pieces of cake, while Jungkook only had one.

  “Weak,” Seokjin teased over the rim of his glass.

  “Don’t you judge me,” Jungkook replies, setting his drink on the table. “I don’t like excessive amounts of buttercream.”

  “Remind me, why am I going out with you?” Seokjin asks, knocking back the rest of his drink.

 Jungkook leans forward over the table and settles his face in his own hands. “Because I’m adorable,” he says, lips pushed out, and Seokjin makes a noise at the back of his throat.

  “Put those away,” he says, “and go get me another drink.”

 Jungkook blows a raspberry at him but gets to his feet. “What do you want, your Highness?” he asks with a small bow at the waist.

  “Red wine,” Seokjin says immediately. “Lots.”

  “As you wish,” Jungkook says with another bow, and Seokjin narrows his eyes, fighting a smile.

 Jungkook makes it to the drink table and locates the red wine. He’s reaching for it when another hand grabs it first, silver rings reflecting the glow of the string lights.

  “Ah, I’m sorry,” says a voice, and Jungkook recognizes it. He meets the gaze of the man from inside, the one who’d asked about his empty seat.

  “No, no, it’s okay,” Jungkook replies, lifting both hands. “You first.”

 The man thanks him and pours himself a glass of wine before passing the bottle to Jungkook.

  “How do you know Hoseok and Namjoon?” he asks as Jungkook pours some of the wine into Seokjin’s empty glass. The man is leaning against the table, scrutinizing Jungkook as he handles the bottle.

  “I-uh, I know them both, sort of,” he says, replacing the cork in the bottle. “I’m here with their wedding planner, actually.”

 The mention of Seokjin changes the man’s face, and he seems almost predatory.

  “‘Here,’ as a date?” he asks, taking a sip of his wine.

 Jungkook stumbles over his words before managing to say, “Y-yeah, I guess so.”

 The man angles his head down and looks at Jungkook imploringly.

  “That’s a shame,” he murmurs, reaching a hand up to drag a finger along Jungkook’s jaw. “I was hoping you’d come alone.”

 Jungkook clears his throat, taking a small step back, but before he could speak, he feels a large hand at his waist.

  “Jungkookie!” Seokjin says, a little too loud. “Taking your time with my wine?”

 The man across from them steps back, too, his gaze dropping from Jungkook’s face.

  “Sorry, hyung,” Jungkook says with a small smile, lifting the glass so Seokjin can take it from him. “I was planning on spiking it.”

 Seokjin’s grip on his waist tightens.

  “You can’t spike alcohol, sweet pea,” he says, tugging on the back of Jungkook’s jacket. The nickname has him blushing. “Come on.” Jungkook sees Seokjin lock eyes with the man at the alcohol table and he feels his chest flare with something like pride. He nods at the man and follows Seokjin, feeling eyes burning the back of his head.

 They make it back to their table and Seokjin is nearly fuming in his seat, wine glass gripped tight in his hand.

  “That was weird,” Jungkook says, sitting down beside Seokjin.

  “I should kick his ass to kingdom come,” the other man says, taking a sip of wine.

  “Please don’t,” Jungkook replies, sliding a hand to Seokjin’s knee. “It was nothing, he was just—”

  “Touching you,” Seokjin bites out, setting his glass on the table. “Only I can do that.”

 Jungkook blinks, running a finger over the fabric of Seokjin’s dress pants.

  “Right?”

 He glances up at the word, and Seokjin is looking at him expectantly, with the same intensity he did when they’d first gotten to the wedding, when he told Jungkook he liked seeing him dressed up.

 Jungkook’s mouth is very dry, and he wets his lips. “Yeah, hyung,” he says, daring to move his hand a little higher up on Seokjin’s thigh. “Only you.”

 Seokjin’s gaze falls to Jungkook’s fingernails that are now tracing patterns on the upper half of his leg, and he bites his lip as if thinking.

  “Are you ready to go?” he asks a few moments later, voice low, and Jungkook is painfully aware of the real question being asked behind those words. “It’s getting late.”

  “Yeah, I am,” he replies, letting his hand fall from Seokjin’s leg. “Ready.”

 Seokjin’s eyes are boring into his and Jungkook’s suit jacket is suddenly too tight, too hot, and he’s only had one drink—or was it two?—but he’s feeling drunk and he can’t tell on what.

 Seokjin gets to his feet and his hand finds Jungkook’s, lacing their fingers together.

  “Me too,” he says, pulling Jungkook until he’s pressed tight against his side. “I’m ready to go.”

 They’re not in Jungkook’s house for two minutes before Seokjin’s got him against the wall of the entryway, a knee between his thighs, pressing a bruising kiss to his mouth. Seokjin feels unbridled arousal growing in his stomach as he listens to the hike of Jungkook’s breathing, how he settles his hands on his waist and presses his fingertips into the fabric.

  “This… is how I’ve wanted you… to kiss me,” Jungkook says between Seokjin trailing his mouth from his lips to his jaw down to the side of his neck. He flicks his tongue out to wet the skin there and Jungkook shivers.

  “This is how I’ve wanted to kiss you,” Seokjin replies as he pulls back, using both hands to unbutton Jungkook’s jacket and pull it from his shoulders. “This is… how you should be kissed.” They make eye contact when he speaks and Seokjin can see the color growing in Jungkook’s cheeks. He lets his hands roam, pulling a few buttons on Jungkook’s shirt undone and trailing his fingertips down his chest and over his nipples—

  “Fuck, touch me there,” Jungkook says, and he already sounds so far gone. Seokjin drags his thumb over his left nipple through his shirt and Jungkook stiffens underneath the touch.

  “You like that?” Seokjin whispers. The words ruffle Jungkook’s bangs. “When I touch you?”

 Jungkook lets his head fall back against the wall. “Yes,” he chokes out, more of an exhale than a word. “Yeah, I like it.”

 Seokjin leans down to take Jungkook's nipple between his lips through his dress shirt, gently, slowly. “Tell me again,” he says, daring to use his teeth. “Who can touch you like this?”

 Jungkook's breath catches in his throat and he moans. He shifts a little so the knee Seokjin’s got between his thighs rubs against his growing erection, and Seokjin can feel how hard Jungkook is through his slacks.

 “You,” Jungkook replies, breathless. “Only you, hyung.”

 Seokjin hums as he leans back and brings a hand to Jungkook’s face. He traces Jungkook’s bottom lip with his index finger and looks him in the eye. He’s used to the younger man’s soft features, his bright eyes and gentle expressions when he speaks or laughs. Now, Jungkook is looking at him hard through the muted dark, eyes glinting and lips parted, swollen from being kissed. He looks irresistible, absolutely decadent, and he moans in his throat when Seokjin presses his knee a little harder between his legs.

  “S’my good dongsaeng,” he says, leaning forward to kiss him once. “My good boy.”

 Jungkook chases him when he pulls back and Seokjin brings a hand to his chest, pushes him tighter against the wall.

  “C’mon,” Jungkook whispers, almost a whine. “Seokjin-hyung, kiss me, I want—”

 Seokjin shushes him gently, brings both hands to cup his face and traces his thumbs under his eyes. They’re pleading, round and shining like they always are when he wants a kiss but it’s deeper now—he wants more. Seokjin will give it to him, soon.

  “You’re so pretty, Jungkookie,” he says, running one hand through Jungkook’s hair. The younger man’s eyes flutter shut. “I love to look at you.”

 Jungkook’s eyebrows pull together and he licks his lips.

  “You, too, hyung,” he says, wrapping a hand around one of Seokjin’s wrists and opening his eyes. “Since I first saw you, I’ve wanted to-to touch you like this—” He traces his fingertips up Seokjin’s arms, over the sleeves of his jacket and tugging on the lapel when he reaches it. “Take this off, please, let me—”

 Seokjin indulges him this time, unbuttoning his jacket and shrugging it off, letting it fall to the floor. Jungkook fumbles with a few buttons of his dress shirt and Seokjin lets him, feels goosebumps rise when the air hits his skin. Jungkook’s hands are warm when he slides one under Seokjin’s shirt, grabbing at his shoulder. He leans forward, keeping eye contact as long as he can before placing an open-mouthed kiss on Seokjin’s collarbone. He sucks once, twice, tugs on Seokjin’s skin with his teeth and he loves it, having Jungkook’s mouth on him. He says Jungkook’s name, lets one of his hands tangle in the other man’s hair. He takes it as encouragement and moves his mouth to the place where Seokjin’s shoulder meets his neck, taking the muscle there between his teeth and biting down. It doesn’t hurt but it sends a shock all the way down to his toes. His hand falls from Jungkook’s hair to the back of his neck and squeezes.

  “Your room,” he says, and he sounds like he’s been running, like he can’t breathe.

 Jungkook pulls back and rubs a finger over where he’d likely sucked a mark into Seokjin’s skin. “Right, yeah, okay,” he says, glancing at Seokjin quickly before taking his hand and leading the way to his bedroom.

 Kuro is on the bed and Jungkook scoops her into his arms to toss her gently out the door.

  “Sorry, baby,” he coos at the cat, and Seokjin huffs a laugh at the name.

  “You don’t call me baby,” he pouts when Jungkook turns to face him again, backing him up against the bed in the center of the room.

  “I was hoping you’d call me baby,” Jungkook says when the back of Seokjin’s knees hit the mattress and he falls back onto it. He laughs when Jungkook scoots up to straddle his hips and grind down a little.

  “Call me baby,” Seokjin mutters in a familiar tune, and Jungkook sighs with exasperation.

  “Are you really singing EXO right now?” he asks, but Seokjin can tell he finds it funny, too. Before he can reply, Jungkook lowers himself so their chests are pressed together and catches his mouth in a wet kiss, his tongue searching for something to taste. Seokjin eggs him on with a soft moan, bringing his hands to the other man’s back and feeling the muscle there.

  “Let me suck you off,” Jungkook says against his lips, rolling his hips down again, and as much as Seokjin would love to keep drawing this out, this seems to be one of the things he can’t deny Jungkook of, on the list of many.

  “Yeah, fuck, go on,” he says, hands spread out on Jungkook’s thighs settled on either side of his body. Jungkook’s eyes glint again as he shimmies down a little to level himself with the waistband of Seokjin’s pants. Where his hands had been a little clumsy on his shirt buttons, they have no problem with his slacks, pulling them down along with his underwear.

  “You wear briefs?” Jungkook observes as he tugs the clothes from Seokjin’s legs and throws them aside.

  “Feels more secure,” Seokjin replies, gasping a little when Jungkook leans down and wastes no time tonguing at the head of his cock. “God, Jungkook.”

 He doesn’t go farther than that for a while, grips the base of Seokjin’s dick with one hand and slides the tip of his tongue over the slit. He presses a few hot kisses along the shaft, drags his lips over the ridge and Seokjin kicks one leg in impatience.

  “Fuckin’ hell, Jungkook-ah,” he bites out, pulling himself up on an elbow.

 Jungkook chuckles. “And you call me needy,” he mumbles, steeling one of his hands at Seokjin’s hip. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

 He isn’t ready for the overpowering heat of Jungkook’s mouth taking all of him in at once, the tip of his cock nearing the back of the other man’s throat. Seokjin falls onto his back again, biting back a moan when Jungkook pulls almost all the way off, his lips lingering on the head.

  “I thought you liked to look at me?” comes Jungkook’s voice from below, and Seokjin marvels at how much lower it’s gotten here. “Look at me, hyung.” He dares to lift himself up on an elbow again and peer at Jungkook through the dark. Their eyes meet and Jungkook smiles, small and sly, and his lips are shining, wet with saliva and precome. Seokjin’s gut is in knots, pulling tight with white hot heat. Jungkook flicks his tongue over the head of Seokjin’s cock again, eyes never falling, and the sight is downright sinful. He’s got one hand tight around Seokjin but the other is between his body and the mattress, shoved down his pants, jerking himself off. He’s still fully clothed, dress shirt unbuttoned halfway. Seokjin whines; he could eat him up looking like this.

  “Don’t do that,” he tells Jungkook, reaching to thread his fingers through the younger man’s dark hair. “You’re mine to touch, remember?”

 Jungkook’s expression is one of mischief but he pulls his hand from his pants and lets it slide along Seokjin’s leg, up to his thigh. “Yours?” he whispers, letting his lips drag along the length of Seokjin’s dick once more. “I’m yours?”

 Seokjin nods, tugs on Jungkook’s hair to pull him up for a kiss. He groans at the taste of himself on Jungkook’s tongue, salty and bitter, and he doesn’t bother to put space between them before he says mine into the mess of their lips.

 Jungkook eventually gets to his feet to undo his own pants and kick them off, tossing his boxers with them. His cock is hard and red against his stomach.

  “What do you want?” Seokjin asks, taking in the image of Jungkook standing bare from the hips down. His thighs are toned and curving, and Seokjin extends a hand to brush over them.

  “Anything,” Jungkook replies, returning to straddle Seokjin’s lap and circling his hips. “Give me anything.”

 Seokjin stomach twists at Jungkook’s trust in him. He wraps a careful hand around Jungkook’s dick, pumping him once. Jungkook shudders at the touch and kisses him, long and hot, before reaching to pull out the drawer of his bedside table and grab a bottle of lube. He pulls Seokjin’s hand from his dick to pour some of the liquid into his palm and Seokjin doesn’t miss the way Jungkook’s eyes nearly roll back into his head when he spreads the lube along the length of him, squeezing lightly.

 He jerks him a few more times, nibbling on the lobe of Jungkook’s ear, before letting go and reaching farther back to brush a finger over his hole. Jungkook’s moan is unabashed, the vibrations of it rattling Seokjin’s bones.

  “Gimme the bottle,” he breathes. Jungkook reaches for the bottle and squeezes more of it over Seokjin’s fingers, his lips bitten red and sucked between his teeth. “M’gonna touch you, make you come, okay?”

 Jungkook nods, lifting himself up on his knees a little so Seokjin can slick the lube from his balls to his rim. His whole body quakes, and Seokjin could get off from how hot it is that he does this to Jungkook, makes him move like this. The younger man is panting against his neck when Seokjin slips the first finger in slow. Jungkook is hot and tight, the lube making everything slick, wet. He pushes back on Seokjin’s finger with a breathless noise, and Seokjin could die.

  “Good?” he asks, his voice cracking, and feels Jungkook nod against the side of his face.

  “Yeah, good, it-it’s good,” he manages. “Good, you’re so good, hyung—”

 Seokjin wraps his free hand around Jungkook’s cock, trapped between their stomachs, and runs his thumb over the head. “Like that,” Jungkook says, voice tight in Seokjin’s ear when he leans forward. “L-like—fuck, like that.” His hips stutter, thrusting into Seokjin’s hand.

 Seokjin doesn’t want to breathe, doesn’t want to make a sound, so he can hear the noises Jungkook is making and commit them all to memory—the mix between a grunt and a moan that falls from his lips when Seokjin slips another finger in, stretching him wider; the catch of his breath when Seokjin twists his wrist; the way Jungkook says his name, chants it, against Seokjin’s neck. It’s all so much, it’s all so perfect, and he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t wanted this for a long time.

  “Gonna come,” Jungkook says. “Keep going, keep—” He cuts himself off with a moan when Seokjin thrusts his fingers a little deeper, tightens his grip on Jungkook’s cock.

  “Come for hyung, yeah?” he says, mouthing at Jungkook’s jaw. “Look at me, let me see you come, baby.”

 Jungkook pushes himself up to look Seokjin in the eye and it takes one more pump of his hand—up, down—before he goes rigid, a deep groan falling from his mouth. His hips jerk forward and Seokjin feels him clench around his fingers. It’s hot, so fucking hot, the way Jungkook is lost to his orgasm, mouth open and eyes screwed shut.

  “That’s it,” Seokjin rasps, pulling on Jungkook’s cock a few more times. There’s come warm on his hand, maybe some on his shirt, but he’s too captivated by the scene above him to care. He pulls his fingers from Jungkook’s body and grabs at one of his ass cheeks. “That’s my baby.”

 Jungkook opens his eyes at that, and they’re glossed over, shining. His breath is coming in quick, tired pants, but he smiles. “Called me baby,” he murmurs, leaning forward to catch Seokjin’s mouth in a kiss.

  “’Course I did,” Seokjin replies, a little slurred from Jungkook’s lips against his own. “You are.” He sighs through his nose when Jungkook’s teeth pull at his lips. “My baby.”

 Jungkook’s hand makes its way to Seokjin’s cock, wraps around it and tugs once. “You didn’t come,” he says. “I want you to come.”

 Seokjin shivers a few moments later when Jungkook’s lube covered palm rubs over the tip of his dick, and he’s so worked up from Jungkook going down on him and just watching him, he can feel the knots in his stomach threatening to snap. He says Jungkook’s name and lets the younger man kiss him, shove his tongue into his mouth and taste. Seokjin’s coming with a grunt when Jungkook tightens his grip and kisses him hard enough to bruise his lips. Jungkook doesn’t let up, keeps stroking him until he whines at the sensitivity.

  “Fuck, hyung,” Jungkook says, bringing his other hand up to run his fingers through Seokjin’s sweat-soaked hair. “You’re so beautiful like this.”

 Seokjin chuckles and closes his eyes, reveling in the feeling of Jungkook’s hand in his hair. He huffs out a half-hearted thank you and focuses on slowing his breathing. Jungkook keeps brushing his hair, bringing his other hand up, too. He presses his forehead against Seokjin’s and plants small kisses on his nose.

  “You’re beautiful all the time,” Jungkook continues, almost giggling. “But especially like this.”

 Seokjin feels warm everywhere, from where Jungkook’s lips are ghosting over his nose to where he’s still got socks on his feet. He brings a hand to the back of the younger man’s head and tangles his fingers in the hair there.

  “All right, sweet pea,” he mumbles, shifting a little under Jungkook’s weight. “Let’s clean up a little.”

 Jungkook rolls off of Seokjin onto the bed beside him and sits up with a groan. “I’ll be back,” he says, letting a hand linger on Seokjin’s wrist before getting up and shuffling to the bathroom.

 Seokjin feels like he could melt into the mattress—it’s been years since he did anything like this and it’s almost like his age is catching up to him. He doesn’t even recall drifting off until he feels a warm washcloth swiping over his shirt and the skin of his hips, bring him back to consciousness.

  “Don’t sleep without me, hyung,” Jungkook is whispering, and Seokjin opens one eye to look at him. The younger man is smiling, a little shy, wiping off his shirt and peeling it off.

 “Wouldn’t dream of it,” Seokjin says, managing to sit up and pull his shirt off, too. “C’mere.” He lifts a hand that Jungkook takes as he clambers back onto the bed, pressing himself into the crook of Seokjin’s arm, resting his cheek on his chest. Seokjin pulls him close with a hand at his neck, aware of the sweat and the leftover dampness of the washcloth, but he is focused only on the feeling of Jungkook’s skin against his, how warm and soft the younger man is.

  “You’re pretty lovely,” Seokjin says quietly, burying his nose in Jungkook’s hair.

 Jungkook hums, likely halfway to slumber, but he throws an arm over Seokjin’s waist and scoots a little closer. “You’re pretty greasy,” Seokjin hears him mumble in response, but he’s slipping into unconsciousness again with Jungkook’s steady breaths in his ear.

 Jungkook wakes up with Seokjin’s lips on his cheek.

 He can feel the older man’s arms around him and their legs are tangled beneath the sheets of the bed. It’s morning; bright sunlight is filtering through the blinds on his window and there are birds singing. Jungkook opens his eyes and turns to look at the man beside him. Seokjin’s lips are parted slightly and they drag along Jungkook’s face when he moves his head.

 Seokjin awake is beautiful, of course, but Seokjin asleep is another story. He’s flushed, maybe from the heat of their bodies, and his hair is pushed back from his face. When Jungkook turns his entire body to face him, Seokjin shifts a little, wraps his arms tighter around him. He mumbles something unintelligible, and Jungkook presses a kiss to his chin.

 There’s a dark hickey at the base of Seokjin’s neck, the one that Jungkook had sucked into his skin right inside the front door of his house. Memories of the night before are flooding back to him as he keeps watching Seokjin sleep, takes in the calm peace of his expression and the way his eyelids are twitching. He’d been so gentle with Jungkook, yet so possessive, and he smiles to himself as he remembers how the word baby had sounded falling from Seokjin’s mouth. He’s lifting a hand to trace the curve of Seokjin’s lips when the older man’s eyes flutter open.

  “It’s creepy to watch someone sleep,” he mumbles, the corners of his mouth pulling upward, and Jungkook taps his cheek with a finger.

  “I wasn’t watching you,” he replies. “I was… admiring.”

 Seokjin winces and laughs. “You’re gross,” he says, and Jungkook rolls his eyes.

  “That makes two of us, I suppose,” he says before settling his hand at Seokjin’s neck and kissing him.

 They kiss for a long time without moving much. Seokjin whispers little things into his mouth, that he’s cute and warm and soft and pretty. Jungkook soaks in it, taking as many kisses as he can get. This is how he’s wanted Seokjin for a while, and to have him, bare and sleepy under the sheets, is swelling Jungkook’s heart.

 Seokjin pulls away from him eventually and they look at each other a few moments.

  “Are we boyfriends now, hyung?” Jungkook asks, aware of how blunt the question is, but if the feeling he’s got bouncing around in his chest is as serious as he thinks, he’s got to know if they are more than casual dates and flirty kisses.

 Seokjin purses his lips and keeps looking at him. His eyes aren’t as dark in the morning light, and Jungkook thinks they look like chocolate.

  “We can be,” he says finally. “If you want.” He blinks in that funny way he does.

  “I want to,” Jungkook replies. “Be your boyfriend.”

  “Good,” Seokjin says, and his pursed lips turn into a smile. “I want it, too.” He’s quiet for a few moments before reaching up to take Jungkook’s chin between his thumb and pointer finger. “I want you, a lot.

  “I’ve… only known you for a short time but I want you very much,” Seokjin continues. “I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t want to scare you off.” He’s looking straight into Jungkook’s eyes and he thinks this is more vulnerable and intimate than they’ve ever been with each other, even more than the sex from the night before. “I like you more than I’ve liked anyone in a long time.”

 Jungkook plays with the baby hairs at Seokjin’s neck where his hand still rests, lets his fingernails trace over the skin. “Good,” he says, and he thinks that sounds stupid. “I mean, it’s good that-that you feel like that, because I do. Too.” He stumbles over the words and laughs at himself, bringing his free hand to cover his face. “I’m so bad at this.”

 Seokjin pulls his hand away and peers into his face. “You got your point across,” he says with some humor. “That’s all that matters.”

 They spend the rest of the morning tangled in each other on Jungkook’s bed, their suits from the wedding scattered all over the room, and Jungkook thinks that he’d be fine never leaving this bed again. Only to follow Seokjin, if he needed to.

 A month passes before Seokjin thinks to look up flower meanings.

 He feels like an idiot for not thinking about it sooner, especially after Jungkook spent half an hour talking about what the colors of roses mean over Seokjin taking notes on the next wedding he’s planning. He helps Seokjin brainstorm flower arrangements over a coffee date one morning and tells him about the best blooms for weddings, especially more traditional ones. When Seokjin asks him how he knows all of this, Jungkook sits back in his chair with a smug look.

  “Research,” he tells Seokjin.

 So isn’t until he’s is alone in bed one night when Seokjin decides he’s going to do some research himself. He thinks of all the other colors he’s seen in roses, from orange to white, and suddenly recalls the lavender rose Jungkook had given him on the day they first met. If he’s honest, he’d never seen a lavender rose before that day, and he’d loved it so much, it sat on his kitchen table in a small vase for weeks after he received it, until it dried out and the petals started to fall. Now, in his bed, he sifts through web results on ‘lavender rose meaning.’ The first page he comes across shows a picture of a rose sitting beautifully in the sun, a deep, rich lavender color. He reads the description out loud.

  “‘The lavender rose is often a sign of enchantment and love at…’” He trails off, unable to fight a smile. “‘Love at first sight.’” He skims over the rest of page, the image of Jungkook holding that rose out to him all those weeks ago clear in his mind.

  “Sneaky bastard,” Seokjin mumbles as he types ‘clover flower meaning’ in the search bar. When he’d gone to the flower shop to pick up the first arrangements he’d ordered there, Jungkook had offered him a clover before he left, and that was the first time that Seokjin had felt utterly captivated by the other man. He finds a webpage and reads aloud again.

  “‘Clover flowers are given in hopes that the recipient will think of the person giving the flower.’” He lifts a hand to cover his mouth and catch the laugh that falls out. If only Jungkook knew how often Seokjin thought of him after he took that clover from his hand.

 His last search is on gardenias, and what he finds has his heart doing somersaults in his chest. “‘Gardenias tell the receiver “you are lovely,” and is even a symbol for secret love,’” he reads, and he lets his phone slide from his hand to the mattress and pushes his palms into his eyes.

 Seokjin spends the rest of the evening looking up the meanings for every single flower he can think of. He comes across lilacs, carnations, daffodils, and forget-me-nots, but he finds that violets might be the best choice for what he wants to say.

 The next day, he shows up to the flower shop right as it opens to see Jungkook and Yoongi at the counter, both of them cutting flower stems over a large garbage can.

  “Hyung!” Jungkook says, waving with a bundle of daisies in hand. “Good morning!”

  “Morning,” Seokjin replies quickly, leaning over the counter to plant a kiss on Jungkook’s mouth. When he leans back, his boyfriend’s face is turning tomato-red, and he clears his throat as Yoongi chuckles. “Hey, Yoongi,” Seokjin adds, and the other man lifts a hand gripped around a single tulip.

  “What are you doing here?” Jungkook asks, putting the daisies down and wiping his hands on his apron. “I thought you were working your office today?”

 Seokjin nods. “I am, but I need to make a purchase here first,” he says. “I need some violets.”

 Jungkook tilts his head but motions for Seokjin to follow him. “Take your pick,” he says when they get to where all of the violets sit near the back of the store. Seokjin scrutinizes them before carefully picking out six and handing them to Jungkook. The other man is looking at him like he’s crazy but Seokjin simply smiles.

 They make it back to the counter and Jungkook adds up the price, taking Seokjin’s payment when it’s offered to him. “Do you… want them in some plastic?” he asks, to which Seokjin replies with a shake of his head.

  “That’s alright,” he says. “They’re not going far.”

 Jungkook narrows his eyes as he hands the flowers over. Seokjin takes them, sniffs a bloom once, before handing them back to Jungkook. “For you,” he says.

 Jungkook cocks an eyebrow, taking the flowers in one hand.

  “Hyung, why are you being so weird?” he asks, bringing the flowers to his nose to smells them anyway.

  “I’m not,” Seokjin replies, crossing his arms across his chest. “I just… wanted to give you some flowers.”

 Jungkook continues to eye him, looking from the flowers to Seokjin and back again.

  “African violets symbolize loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness,” comes Yoongi’s voice from behind Jungkook. He’s making his way to the front door, a mixed display bouquet in his arms. “Your boyfriend may be handsome but he’s a lot less subtle than you are, Kook.” Yoongi throws Seokjin a wink before pushing the front door open and shuffling outside.

 Jungkook huffs out a laugh and lifts the flowers up into the space in front of him. “Faithfulness, huh?” he asks, and Seokjin leans a hip against the counter and sighs.

  “Yeah,” he replies. “I just wanted to tell you—you know, that I really like being with you and that I only have eyes for you and… stuff.” He sighs again, a release of nerves. “God, I am gross.”

 Jungkook laughs again and lays the flowers on the counter gently.

  “You’re sweet, is what you are,” he says, leaning towards Seokjin and tilting his chin up. Seokjin kisses him twice, once on the cheek and once on the lips.

  “I busted your flower code, by the way,” he tells Jungkook when he pulls away. “Were you really that enchanted by me the first day we met?”

 Jungkook is putting the violets in a vase behind the counter and bites his lip at the question. “So what if I was?” he asks, setting the vase carefully on a shelf behind him. “We have to make moves for what we want, right?”

 Seokjin gives him that, watches as he busies himself with trimming more stems.

  “Jungkook,” he says a moment later. His boyfriend looks up, scissors in hand. “I really do adore you.”

 “Ah, hyung,” Jungkook says, looking down shyly. “I know you do.”

 Seokjin likes the way Jungkook’s cheeks are still dusty pink. He lifts a hand and brushes the pad of his thumb over the color. “Good,” he says.

 He should go home and work, but the shop smells like clean water and flower petals and he likes to watch Jungkook do his job, so he roams for a while, reads over scientific flower names and counts the petals on a few daises. Some customers make their way through the store, but it’s not enough to keep Jungkook from catching Seokjin’s gaze across the room and smiling so his nose scrunches up a little bit.

 Seokjin feels something very gentle blooming under his shirt, where his heart is.