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Settle Down With Me, and I Will Be Your Safety

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This is a nice café, Yoongi thinks, trying his best to distract himself from the reason why he was even in the café. It’s just a little after 3 and Yoongi knows he’s early but he just wanted to sit for a while, and just really think this through.

Not that he hasn’t been thinking about this.

It’s literally been the only the thing in his mind for the past 3 weeks ever since his parents dropped in to tell him that it was “time”.

Yoongi knew he was hoping for too much when he wished, that by some miracle, his parents would forget this entire arrangement. Of course they wouldn’t forget; he was the eldest of their two sons and obvious heir, therefore number 1 priority in getting him married. His phone is on silent. He’s ignored all of the messages he’s received from Hoseok and Seokjin, both of whom were trying their best to somehow cheer him up during this period of his life. It wasn’t cheering up that he needed, but he still appreciated their efforts. But for now he ignores the messages and forces himself to take deep calming breaths.

The ring in his pocket is burning.

Arranged marriages used to be a traditional norm before. But the past few decades saw a few changes and arranged marriages like this were becoming less frequent. Except among those who believed in “class-based” marriages, status, were devoted to tradition, or god forbid, prioritized blood purity.

Yoongi’s parents were categorized under “devoted to tradition” and to “status”. Which is why Yoongi finds himself in this predicament.

Yoongi was their eldest son. And tradition dictated that he had to get married no matter what.

To an extent he was lucky with his situation; his parents weren’t forcing him to produce an heir after marriage so at least one future headache is spared. He’s known a few people who were forced to get married and produce children within their first year of marriage. It was disgusting to Yoongi, that parents would force their children who were up until a month or so before their wedding, complete strangers, into relationships for the sake of continuing whatever lineage they desperately clung on to.

And again, Yoongi’s situation is slightly different. Because he knew his husband to be.

It wasn’t like they didn’t know each other. This wasn’t entirely an arranged marriage between two strangers. Yoongi has known Jimin since he was 15 and Jimin was 13. And Yoongi has known that their parents wanted to form this traditional alliance between the families since he was 18 and Jimin was 16.

The problem being Yoongi has known of Jimin, but the latter knew close to nothing about Yoongi.

Yoongi’s parents were traditional. They were a result of an arranged marriage as well. However, to an extent, they were happy together. His parents actually did like each other and had a good relationship based on mutual respect. And while they were traditional, were much more open minded about a lot of things in comparison to those born in their generation.

Jimin’s parents on the other hand, were a completely different story. They were living examples of the worst kind of people stuck in a mind-set that died decades back. He’s met the Parks before. And saying that he doesn’t like them would be a bit of an understatement. Not that Mr. Park and Mrs. Park were particularly bad people. Not bad in the sense of being criminal. But just…

The Parks were of a rather famously chaotic combination. It was no secret that Mr. Park had many affairs while Mrs. Park played cougar to many young rich men. They had plenty of very public fights; most resulting in dramatic breaking and flinging of dinner ware inside restaurants, parties, or even events. Their relationship was nothing more than just hate-filled drama spent in inflicting as much shame and revenge on the other. And so now, disregarding the fact their unhappiness was a direct result of an arranged marriage neither of them wanted, they were now inflicting the same situation upon their only son.

Not that Yoongi had any intention of ever being anything but respectful, caring, and honest with Jimin. Yoongi would probably throw himself off of a building before he ever willingly hurt Jimin.

Because despite his initial worry that their son would embody their chaotic and toxic personality and approach to life, Park Jimin was everything his parents were not. Jimin turned out to be the sweetest and genuinely kindest person Yoongi has ever met. Yoongi knew of Jimin since he was 18 but only properly met him when he was 21 during university. By some coincidence, Jimin’s friends were friends with Yoongi’s friends. Meeting was inevitable.

And for a while, Yoongi thought that perhaps Jimin was a result of his parents putting aside their cruelty and bitterness towards each other, and concentrating on their son. But he had been entirely mistaken. Jimin grew up without his parents ever actually being in the picture (a reason why despite having met the Parks before during his teens, he never really met Jimin himself). He was taken care of by the nannies and later tutors and hostel wardens who were blessedly wonderful people.

Yoongi remembers how Jimin’s aged and grey-haired nanny had come to his graduation- the only “family” to do so. Jimin had broken down in tears and couldn’t stop for a long while as he hugged the sweet lady in his arms. Yoongi was the one who photographed them and the smile Jimin had given as he thanked him was blinding.

Later, Yoongi finds out that Jimin’s parents hadn’t shown up that day. Jimin only ever met his parents during holidays which were spent awkwardly and with strained tension building up to violent arguments and shouting matches of which Jimin was always caught in the middle. Yoongi also learns that Jimin’s father had been violently upset that Jimin had come out as gay (a secret that was made known by accident), and blamed his wife for it. According to what Yoongi heard, his father had tried to “treat” him out of it for a few years.

But despite the neglect from his parents, and the downright toxic environment he must have faced in a place that was supposed to be his home and safe-place, Jimin grew up to be a wonderful person and was now recently named a Professor at a local university teaching Art Appreciation and Apprehension.

It has also been 2 years since Yoongi has seen Jimin.

Yoongi glances at his watch and to his terror finds that Jimin would be showing up in 5 minutes or so. Would he even show up?

Yoongi can only wonder how Jimin was told and how he took the news. So now here he was, waiting for Jimin to show up in this moderately nice restaurant/café. The weight of the ring in his pocket is almost unbearable now.

He hopes he doesn’t look constipated.   

Yoongi sighs heavily, staring down at the clean surface of the hardwood table surface.

Yoongi has always been against this set-up. Against this “tradition”. He’s watched too many people, too many couples, degrade into individuals robbed of their independence and happiness as a result of their parents intervention. Jimin’s parents were prime examples.

It wasn’t as though he expected either of them to turn out like that. Yoongi knows for a fact that it wouldn’t happen to them. Because he would make sure it wouldn’t happen. What pained him the most about this was the idea of putting a complete stop to someone’s happiness, of preventing them from obtaining a meaningful and equally wanted relationship, just for the sake of tradition.

But Yoongi had made a deal with his parents that made all of this a little more bearable. His younger brother now had the choice to marry anyone he wanted. Or not get married at all if he chose to. His brother was still in university and wanted to go into music. Yoongi wants his brother to explore the freedom of being able to love whoever he wants to. An option he didn’t have. And an option he would willingly not take, if it meant Jihoon could get that opportunity.

To an extent, he’s surprised that his parents hadn’t sprung this news at him earlier on. He was 29 now, and Jimin 27. But Yoongi thinks it might be more on the Park’s side of the decision rather than his parents. They had waited a considerable time but he guesses that might have to do with the fact that he was now a senior architect earning a 7 figure salary.

It was also possible that Jimin had made a deal, that he would be able to earn all of the degrees he wanted and establish himself before tying himself down to a marriage. Yoongi feels a flare of guilt again- a familiar feeling every time he thought of his future husband.

Jimin was intelligent- quick to pick up on the mood and emotions of those around him. Even if he wasn’t told about Yoongi, he probably knew he was going to be set up for an arranged marriage.

So Jimin was completely in the dark in regards to Yoongi. He probably never even would have entertained the idea that it would be Yoongi, his senior from university and Namjoon’s roommate.

Namjoon and Jimin were close friends. Namjoon was a senior professor in the university Jimin taught in and had shared multiple classes back in their uni-days.

Yoongi wants to laugh at his situation because it was as though he was cursed to follow through this arrangement. Because not only was Namjoon his roommate back in university, but Namjoon was married to Seokjin; Yoongi’s fellow architect and next-desk neighbour in the office. And when you were friends who were as perceptive as the married pair, they were bound to pick up on a few things here and there, no matter how subtle and discreet you were trying to be.

Don’t you like Jimin?’ Namjoon had asked, raising an eyebrow at Yoongi when the latter had declined joining them for an outing. Again.

It’s not that,’ Yoongi had replied.

Then what is it? You never join when I mention that Jimin is going to be there.’

Yoongi had entertained the idea of lying, but Namjoon had that uncanny ability of knowing when someone was lying. And Yoongi was never a good liar.

It’s…’

Namjoon had a curious expression on his face. Yoongi knew he could trust Namjoon. And he did. And so he had told him. Ever since then, Namjoon helped him with his guise and excuses.

Jimin and Yoongi  weren’t friends. More like acquaintances. They had a few mutual friends and had even hung out with each other before, though of course with other people involved. Jimin was always friendly and polite, sweet and funny. Yoongi knew he would have been able to have formed a good friendship with Jimin.

Jimin was so bright.

He had a personality that was practically radiant. Radiant but soft, never harsh or glaring. He was warm and accepting, offering smiles to everyone, speaking indiscriminately and giving his all into every single thing he did. But his radiance could never be translated into weakness- because Jimin had a strong sense of justice and duty in him. Rising to every occasion that he felt strongly about, speaking his mind out with serious but calm firmness, his words simple but effective and to the point.

And knowing what he knew, and watching him and hearing of him from their mutual friends, Yoongi couldn’t help but feel a keen sense of pride in his future-husband. And knowing what he knew, Yoongi couldn’t bring himself to be around Jimin. So Namjoon’s knowing of the situation helped him out a lot.

Is it just that?’ Namjoon had asked during the last year of their university. Yoongi had gone further to explain he didn’t want Jimin to think he was trying to trick him or some other hare-brained excuse he had given his roommate.

What do you mean?’

Do you…do you by chance feel guilty? Because despite how much you don’t want this arrangement, and how it’s everything you speak out against, you’re in love with Jimin and it’s confusing the fuck out of you?’

Namjoon was honestly too intelligent and observant for his own good. He had given him a small smile at Yoongi’s lack of response.

Jimin is a really good kid,’ Namjoon said, standing by the doorway, ready to go to whatever celebratory dinner they had planned to eat away their finals stress. ‘And I think if you explain your side of the story, and not make excuses on his behalf against yourself, you’ll find that this might not be too bad.’

But Yoongi can’t do that.

Namjoon had been the one who messaged him 2 weeks ago, telling him that Jimin had taken personal leave for a week. Yoongi guesses that was when he had been informed by his parents.

The door opens and Yoongi just instinctively knows it’s Jimin.

Jimin is wearing a light coat in grey. His hair is no longer the bright orange it used to be back in university, or even the dark brown it had been for Namjoon and Seokjin’s wedding, but rather a soft brown. He walks up to the maître d’ who takes his coat and nods as Jimin speaks.

Yoongi feels lightheaded and even more nauseas than before. He almost wishes he hadn’t shown up. Then Jimin turns around; and he’s counting the numbers on the table and Yoongi’s hands are numb.

He could never tell Jimin before. He had been too scared, and somewhat hopeful that all of this would have been forgotten and cancelled. But here he was now. Sitting inside this pretty decent café, hands and feet numb, his coffee entirely forgotten.

Yoongi knew that this meeting would be inevitable. He knew that this day would eventually come ever since he was 15.

And he finds himself completely unprepared.

Their eyes meet.

Yoongi can read the recognition, the disbelief, the sheer confusion in his eyes.

Jimin stands there rooted for so long, Yoongi is worried he’s going to bolt the moment he recovers. He kind of hopes he does.

But he doesn’t. Jimin was always too strong; too ready to listen.

Instead, with a whole lot more stability than Yoongi would have ever been able to muster, Jimin walks up to the table booked under their parent’s names.

Yoongi stands at once, careful not to knock into the table.

‘Hyung?’

He remembers how when he couldn’t avoid meeting up with Jimin and the rest of their friends, he had told Jimin he could call him hyung. It had all transpired as a result of Taehyung saying something and Seokjin telling them they could drop being overly formal and call them all hyung. Jimin had looked at him carefully, asking if it was all right with him as well. And Yoongi knew at that moment that Jimin was aware that Yoongi was perhaps not always caught up in his project work whenever they initiated meeting up.

‘Hi Jimin.’ Yoongi is surprised to hear his own voice. He didn’t sound as nervous as he felt. ‘It’s been a while.’

Since Namjoon and Seokjin’s wedding, to be precise.

Jimin is still standing, his expression is now full of questions.

‘Is this…is this a joke?’ Jimin asks.

Yoongi isn’t hurt by the question. He’d been expecting it. And of course Jimin had every right to feel like this. To question Yoongi.

‘It’s uh. It’s not,’ Yoongi gestures to the opposite table. ‘Please.’

Jimin stares down at the table number, then at Yoongi again. Then somewhat mechanically, he takes a seat.

They both sit in silence for a while. Jimin stares rather vacantly at the table top, while Yoongi stares rather blankly at the table-number card next to the obligatory glass vase of fake flowers. A waitress comes and takes their orders. Yoongi orders a new cup of coffee while Jimin orders some tea.

They wait in silence until the waitress comes back with their drinks. Yoongi doesn’t know where to start, how to start.

He’s been dreading this meeting for years- he’s thought of every possible outcome, every reaction, every conceivable way this could go and he’s still at a loss.

‘You knew, didn’t you?’ Jimin asks quietly out of nowhere, tapping the side of his glass, not looking up.

Yoongi’s mouth is dry and his tongue heavy. He takes a sip of his coffee and swallows rather painfully before finally being able to reply.

‘I did.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Jimin finally looks a little upset, a change from his unsettlingly blank face.

‘I…it wasn’t easy.’ Yoongi’s excuse sounds flimsy even to his own ears.

Jimin suddenly leans forward on the table, leaning on his elbows as he briefly covers his face with his hands. Yoongi starts at the movement but his reaction is unseen by Jimin.

‘I’m sorry- I shouldn’t be…be blaming you. You don’t want this as much as I do too.’ Jimin says finally, removing his hands from his face and staring down at his cup.

Yoongi looks over Jimin carefully. Jimin was correct to an extent. Yoongi didn’t want this at all. This arrangement. The way they were forced to come together for this.

If you hadn’t been arranged to be married to Jimin; would you have asked him out?’ Namjoon had asked, still smiling that small smile.

Yeah,’ Yoongi had replied, not bothering putting up an act anymore now that Namjoon saw through him so clearly..

Isn’t that a good thing then? The person you’re arranged to be married to, is someone you would genuinely want to get to know better, right?’

No,’ Yoongi had replied. ‘It makes it worse.’

‘How long have you known,’ Jimin asks. He doesn’t look angry or wary. He was just curious.

‘I…,’ Yoongi pauses before he continues on truthfully. ‘Since I was 18. I actually thought you knew- but when I met you during university, I realized that you didn’t. And to an extent I had hoped that our parents wouldn’t follow through with their plans. Maybe over the years they would realize that this…that this…that maybe they would come to understand that what they want isn’t what we want.’ Yoongi sighs. ‘I’m sorry I kept this from you.’

‘Thank you,’ Jimin says quietly. ‘And I understand why you didn’t tell me- it would have made for a fairly awkward conversation.’

Yoongi is in disbelief at Jimin’s response. He wishes Jimin would be angry, that he would lash out. It would make dealing with this situation a little easier. But this calm, this weirdly strange acceptance was unsettling Yoongi.

‘Why though?’

‘Why?’ Yoongi repeats looking at Jimin across the table.

‘Why did you agree? Hyung I think I know you well enough to know that you don’t do things that you don’t want to do. Namjoon-hyung mentioned a few times that you strongly disagreed with arranged marriages- and you also had this paper written for the university forum about this.’ Jimin waves shortly. ‘Was that all a lie?’

‘It wasn’t.’ Yoongi replies, understanding why Jimin would be confused. ‘I still stand-by all that I said, all that you’ve heard me say.’

Jimin doesn’t say anything, waiting for Yoongi’s response.

‘I have a younger brother,’ Yoongi says quietly. ‘He’s 22 this year; he’s a great kid and I…I want him to be free. I wasn’t always around for him as much as I should have as an older brother but…but this way, I can ensure he has the opportunity to do whatever he wants with his life. Without our parents saying anything.’

Jimin looks conflicted; and rightly so, according to Yoongi. After all, Yoongi was basically throwing down both of their freedom (or at least what semblance they had of freedom) for the sake of his younger brother. Someone Jimin doesn’t even know.

‘And it wasn’t just because of Jihoon,’ Yoongi finds himself saying before he can stop himself. Jimin looks up at him, expression unreadable.

‘When I first met you and spoke to you I thought to myself that…’ Yoongi might as well just say everything now that he’s decided to open his mouth. ‘First of all I don’t think your parents would have ever attempted to intentionally engage you to someone who would  mistreat you or anything like that.’

Jimin gives him a disbelieving smile that seemed to say ‘you don’t know my parents’.

‘But there are people- families, who have beliefs that aren’t…like ours. Their ideals are often extremely archaic; even more so than our parents. So when I first heard about our families planning our engagement, I thought to myself that-that-‘ Yoongi struggles to explain himself.

‘That you would be saving me from a terrible marriage?’ Jimin supplies, a hint of sardonic amusement in his voice.

And that was what Yoongi had thought when he was younger.

Yoongi can proudly say he was raised well, taught the importance of respect, of treating everyone with civility and kindness. It was something his parents deemed important. And even at a young age, he had heard of the stories, either from news or from hearing his parents talking about it with their neighbours and even in movies- how arranged marriages often resulted in terrible abuse and domestic violence. And when later he learnt about his engagement, though he had been very very against it; decided that if there was no avoiding it- he would make sure that whoever he got married to, would never experience anything of the sort from him. He even stayed up at night during his teen years, wondering what would happen if he annulled the engagement and his future-husband was married to someone that mistreated them? Yoongi sometimes couldn’t sleep at night as a result.

‘That’s actually rather sweet,’ Jimin says after a while, his expression softening. His picks his cup up, but doesn’t drink from it.

‘I’m sorry,’ Jimin says unexpectedly.

‘What for?’ Yoongi’s jaw would be next to his feet if it could dislocate off of his face.

‘All of this. I’m sorry you knew about this for so long, that you spent your teenage years thinking about the future of someone you didn’t even know- someone you didn’t even want for a relationship,’ Jimin explains. ‘I’m sorry that you went to university, and saw me there; that you had to live every day of your life, knowing that I was there-‘

‘-Jimin, no.’ Yoongi has to stop this now. ‘Please don’t say that- please don’t apologize. This isn’t your fault.’

‘I’m sorry-‘ Jimin is saying again but Yoongi is quick to stop him.

‘Don’t.’ Yoongi says at once. ‘Please don’t apologize. It’s not- it’s not something that’s…this wasn’t…’

He pushes away his cup of coffee, struggling for words.

I’m sorry,’ he says somewhat lamely. This gets Jimin to look up at him, a questioning look in his eyes.

‘Why are you sorry?’ Jimin asks, fiddling with his spoon though he makes no attempt at adding sugar or anything else to his tea.

‘I’m- all of this. That this had to happen. That your life was…forcefully altered. Everything you were comfortable with, your lifestyle, your- the things you wanted to do. I’m sorry that it all had to change.’

‘I don’t…I don’t hate you, Yoongi-hyung,’ Jimin says softly, he sounds a lot more like how he did when they were back in university. ‘I don’t hate you for any of this. To an extent, I’m…relieved, that it’s you.’

Yoongi tries not to smile or feel relieved at his words because Jimin hasn’t finished yet.

‘I knew you from before and…and I know how you are. But I- this is-‘

‘Jimin,’ Yoongi cuts across gently. ‘I don’t hate you either.’

‘Don’t…don’t you feel like…don’t you feel like this that I am ruining your beliefs? That our marriage just clashes so much with what you believe in?’ Jimin asks, looking upset.

‘Jimin, please, look at me.’ Yoongi leans in into the table. ‘Is that what you think?’

‘I- no, it’s - you were always so passionate in what you used to write and say-‘

‘I am not upset because of that Jimin. I am not angry about that, I am not angry at you or because of you,’ Yoongi explains. ‘I’m just…I’m just sorry that you’re here in this.’

Yoongi gestures around them vaguely.

‘You deserve better.’

Jimin has a look that Yoongi can’t rightly name.

‘You deserve better than this, and I’m sorry that there was nothing I could do.’

‘Why are you acting like it’s your fault?’ Jimin asks softly.

Yoongi actually leans back from the shock of the question.

‘This isn’t your fault,’ Jimin says quietly. ‘So don’t…don’t look at me like that. Because you deserve better too hyung.’

Yoongi doesn’t know what Jimin means by this so he looks down instead.

‘I’m going to be honest,’ Jimin says carefully. ‘I was…I came here fully expecting myself to…to meet someone who was 10 years older than me- maybe someone like my father, or my mother.’ He makes an expression of disgust. ‘But…it wasn’t so.’

Jimin looks a little hesitant as he says, ‘I had planned on leaving the country. Go live with Taehyung for a while before settling on my own away from here. Somewhere my parents wouldn’t be able to find me. But…but I thought to myself I would do this one meeting, then after that leave.’

Yoongi probably looked a little stunned because Jimin can’t seem to control the small smile of amusement that forms on his face when he glances up at Yoongi.

‘And meeting you…though I was really shocked…it gave me a sort of relief.’ Jimin explains. ‘I know you. And…and I’ve always trusted you- I don’t know why or how to explain it.’

Yoongi is overwhelmed, unsure how to proceed. All he can say is a somewhat hollow, ‘Thank you…I- …I will try my best to earn and keep your trust.’

They both sit in an awkward silence that isn’t heavy, but rather somehow comedic. Yoongi would be laughing and cringing if this was a televised drama. Jimin finally actually takes a sip of his tea and Yoongi manages to gather enough courage to look up at his “fiancée”. Jimin is looking at him with an expression that suggested he was waiting for Yoongi to say something more.

Yoongi suddenly feels very self-conscious. He’s not sure how to proceed- he does an instant rewind of their conversation. What does Jimin expect next? His response probably wasn’t the best but it was passable Yoongi thinks. Jimin must have detected his confusion because he actually rolls his eyes and there’s a small quick smile before he reaches into his jacket pocket and produces a small flat box.

Oh.

OH.

‘Wait-!’ Yoongi manages to get out.

Jimin stops, blinking in surprise.

‘I uh-‘ Yoongi wonders where his usual confident mannerism and eloquence vanished to because he would really like it back, thank you very much. ‘I want to say something.’

Jimin leans forward a little, showing that he was listening.

Yoongi knows it’s not a good idea to leave anyone, least of all your future husband, hanging like this. But words were failing him today and his mind a complete mess. So he ignores any attempts in being eloquent and pushes forward bluntly.

‘This is going to sound ironic but,’ Yoongi begins. ‘As we have both come to decide to agree upon this uh arrangement-?‘ Yoongi pauses, his statement ending with a questioning tone. Jimin nods in reply, to reaffirm Yoongi’s statement. ‘-so in uh, regards to that. Or well. Whatever happens after this,’ Yoongi gestures around them and he could bash his own head onto the table but stops himself. This was not a good way to introduce yourself to your future husband. Thank goodness whatever impression he had made in university was good enough to still keep him in Jimin’s good regard.

‘I don’t expect you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. We might be…legally married. But I don’t want you to feel obligated or…-or pressured into something you don’t want to do. The situation we’re in isn’t…isn’t ideal and.’ Yoongi pauses, taking a deep breath as he faces Jimin. Jimin is watching him  carefully.

‘And I guess you can consider this as part of my “vow”, but I promise you that I won’t ask anything of you, or expect anything from you that you’re not comfortable with. And I will always listen to you, and make sure that you have anything you need to live comfortably.’ Yoongi breathes out. ‘We might be married- and the very notion of that might change a lot. But I don’t want that to get in the way of how you live your life. Or on the things you want to do-‘

‘You’re right,’ Jimin cuts across. ‘It will change a lot of things. But I know what you mean. And I can promise you the same,’ Jimin replies with a small smile before he extends a hand across the table. ‘If we’re going to get married, we might as well get used to each other. A partnership in a not so ideal transaction. Make the best of the situation, right?’

Yoongi can’t help but smile at Jimin’s extended hand although he wants to maybe sink into the ground and never come back out again. Instead he holds out his hand and shakes Jimin’s hand firmly.

‘Partners then.’

Yoongi produces the small flat dark grey box from his pocket. This prompts Jimin to do the same, taking out a dark blue box from his pocket as well. They slide it over towards each other and they both open the boxes. Yoongi remembered how when they were in university, Jimin would often accessorize with silver rings. The ring he gets Jimin is a simple silver band, matte and slightly textured on the outside but smooth on the inner flat side.

The ring Jimin gets him is also silver, though slightly darker in tint, and lightly hammered on the outside. 

Jimin is looking down at his hand, his expression unreadable again. Yoongi also glances down at his hand. But he finds that the weight of the silver band around his finger feels like it’s been there the entire time. It almost feels familiar.

Jimin exhales out slowly, before he shrugs a little and with a smile that wasn’t forced he asks: ‘So, what have you been up to hyung?’

 

 

 

*

 

 

They meet a few more times before the wedding. But with their schedules it’s difficult to make time to meet each other. Yoongi also suspects that Jimin could probably reschedule some things but chose not to. Because Yoongi does the same. And it’s not because he doesn’t want to meet Jimin. But the circumstances under which they have to meet always put a damper over everything and facing Jimin becomes difficult. And Yoongi would rather not associate their future relationship with awkward and strained meetings involving their parents, caterers, wedding planners, and other people who ask too many questions.

Yoongi doesn’t want that to be the start of their “relationship”. Because whenever he thinks back to university, and the few rare times he would join the others, it was always the highlight of his week. Meeting and hanging out with Jimin and the others had been different. Lighter, without the weight of a marriage looming over them both. It was there for Yoongi of course, but Jimin hadn’t known. His smiles had been a lot more free, his words a lot more free.

But of course now it was different. So Yoongi avoids going to as many meetings as possible and if/when possible, makes the trips solo. Jimin does the same too. But some were unavoidable, and they would meet at whatever location their wedding event manager texted them to come to. Yoongi always went to these with apprehension and anxiety, but seeing Jimin there, also looking equally anxious and apprehensive, made him feel better. At one point they even manage to somehow entirely distract the event manager and make an escape.

Hoseok had been all too amused when Yoongi went back to the office, wide smile on his face.

So somewhere along the few meetings that they attend together, they make living arrangements (Yoongi lived in a large apartment studio located in an ideal location that was remarkably close to the university Jimin taught at- after figuring out some more stuff Jimin agreed to move in with Yoongi. He would room in the guestroom and Yoongi would continue sleeping in his own), agree on the dinner menu for their wedding (seafood platter- Jimin had very randomly insisted on it though Yoongi could have sworn Jimin didn’t like seafood- turns out his parents were both highly allergic), get to know each other’s work schedules (they had slightly conflicting work schedules but they both didn’t mind too much), health conditions (they were both healthy and clean), and a very quickly agreed upon unanimous choice for no honeymoon. They were getting married on a Friday and the week before that Jimin would slowly start moving his belongings into Yoongi’s apartment. Then during the weekend Jimin would have time to settle into his new home.

Yoongi is exhausted. He looks around his apartment, wondering how it was going to be, having someone else in there with him. Living with him. He only ever shared a place during university, and that was with Namjoon. And it wasn’t even for that long. Would it be like that? He goes and stands outside on his balcony.

Was he ready? Did he even understand any of this? He thinks of Jimin and he sighs.

Yoongi always considered himself an honest and truthful person. And he can’t lie to himself about this. That all of this was all right, that it was something they would both get over, maybe form some form of friendly agreement the way his parents had done.

Yoongi sighs again.

What if Jimin had wanted children? Did he want children in the future? Was this destroying his life?

Yoongi wants to punch himself, of course it was. Jimin was losing a lot here.

In Yoongi’s case, he had already accepted and come to “peace” with the idea that he was going to marry Jimin from a long time ago.

It was probably why he knew he was already in love with Jimin. And which was why he felt so much worse about this entire thing.

 

 

*

 

 

It’s the wedding day and honestly the entire month that led up to this day was so draining, that the actual event leaves Yoongi feeling rather hollow. He feels no anxiety, no stress, nothing. He’s just blank.

Namjoon is there as one of his best men. He gives Yoongi a reassuring nod- he knew Yoongi’s outlook into the whole traditional arranged marriage thing but also understood the reason behind his decisions.

‘We’ll make a difference for the others who come after us hyung,’ Namjoon had told him. ‘And we will start by living that difference ourselves.’

Yoongi thanks Namjoon for not calling him a hypocrite.

Hoseok is there too. His best friend since they were infants and now his work partner. Hoseok was in near tears, having his cheeks blotted by Taehyung, Jimin’s best friend. They were excited to see each other again, screaming about changes in hair colour and fashion. They both were aware of the entire set up, knew that their respective friends were stuck with this. But just like Yoongi and Jimin, they all seemed to be thinking the same thing: at least they weren’t getting married to assholes.

Yoongi also takes comfort from the fact that Taehyung isn’t giving him vibes or glares. Because he knew that Jimin and Taehyung were practically inseparable, telling each other everything. If Jimin had any issues with Yoongi, then he would tell Taehyung. And Taehyung, as far as Yoongi knew, was probably a bit too expressive and blunt with his thoughts and opinion. Yoongi has seen this bluntness first hand, so he was more than relieved when Taehyung greeted him with a loud shout of his name and a wide smile. The crushing hug however, he could have done without.

‘Jin’s really sorry he can’t make it- you know that right?’ Namjoon says again for the 16th time that day. Yoongi just nods in reply. He knew of course, because Seokjin wouldn’t stop complaining about the fact that their director had booked and settled him to fly out for 3 weeks on an overseas project. It was a great opportunity, but clashed with the wedding date. And honestly Yoongi really doesn’t mind.

He wished this had all been done at the legal department or something instead. Where they would just have to go, wait in line for a few minutes, sign their names, write in their legal information, and done. They would just need a witness each and they were married. But both his parents and Jimin’s parents were incessant on having a full blown out wedding event.

Their first act of behaving like a couple had been to reduce the amount of people invited. Combined, their parents had wanted almost 600 guests invited. They only had to share one panicked look between each other and without having to discuss between each other, were able to wrangle the number down to 100.

‘It’s okay, it really is,’ Yoongi had said to deaf ears. That was one guest less including his brother because he was overseas studying and Yoongi had made it very clear that he didn’t need to attend. Guests that actually mattered because Yoongi adored Jin and he didn’t want his brother to be there watching him make a life-time commitment that wasn’t made by choice. He honestly didn’t want anyone he actually cared about to be here to witness this “marriage” because it felt like such a lie.

‘Hey. You know that we’re with you right? We’re with you and with Jimin on this.’

Hoseok, despite the excitement with which he was moving about, claps him on his shoulder, expression strong and supportive. That was what Yoongi loved about his best-friend. He offered Yoongi strength and hope, and when he heard all about the arrangement, even as teens, Hoseok had been respectful and never brought it up unless Yoongi did. But that didn’t mean Hoseok didn’t hesitate in quite literally punching him out of whatever brooding stupor he used to get caught up in when they were younger. A painful but effective method that Yoongi is still nonetheless thankful for.  Yoongi hopes Hoseok realizes how much he appreciated that.

With Namjoon and Hoseok beside him, Yoongi is able to walk out of the anteroom and into the main hall.

The wedding takes place without a hitch. Jimin and Yoongi meet at the altar, exchange wedding rings, and quietly repeat vows, and very quickly kiss.

The rest of the wedding also goes by smoothly. They stand together as they smile and talk to the other guests easily. They make a good looking couple, Yoongi knows, and as they pose for pictures, wonders how much of Jimin’s smile was entirely fake. Jimin’s parents are escorted out as they both become too drunk. Jimin doesn’t bat an eyelash in their direction and calmly eats a shrimp, pretending not to hear his father make an inappropriate and extremely crude joke before he’s gone.

Yoongi wishes he could hold his now husband’s hand and somehow show his support. But he doesn’t. Instead Taehyung does it, squeezing Jimin’s hand in his hand and saying something that makes the latter laugh out loud.

The drive back to the apartment is a complete change of atmosphere from the wedding and the dinner.

Jimin is visibly shaken and he stares at the dashboard of Yoongi’s car with vacant wide eyes.

Yoongi doesn’t know what to say. He finds that he can’t say anything.

They silently exit the car and walk out of the parking lot together in the same silence that is just as oppressive as it was inside the car. The elevator ride is even more awkward and with each step towards Yoongi’s- their apartment, the air grows heavier and more brittle.

Yoongi steps inside their apartment, his slippers are already there. Jimin just walks past, shoes in hand and just seems to freeze.

Yoongi can’t keep quiet anymore. He doesn’t know what to say or do, but the look of confusion and fear in Jimin’s eyes are too much for him to just watch. He wants to break the silence. But he doesn’t know what to say. Jimin has already been here (when Yoongi was out), so he knows the layout of the place, so Yoongi can’t give him a tour or anything.

‘Jimin-‘

‘I- um-‘ Jimin looks around as though the weight of all that has happened finally hits him.

‘Do- do you want water? Something to drink-‘ Yoongi asks at once, reaching forward to balance his husband because he was on the verge of tilting.

‘No-!’ Jimin holds up a hand- a clear sign to back off. Yoongi immediately takes a step back. Yoongi doesn’t acknowledge the slight flare of pain that burns inside his chest.

‘I’m- I’m just.’ Jimin takes a deep breath. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘Jimin-‘

‘I thought I’d be able to do this- I thought I understood- and I-‘ Jimin shakes his head as though trying to clear his mind before looking up at Yoongi. ‘I can’t do this.’

And he walks out of the living room and into the guestroom.

The door slams shut and though Jimin was in the same apartment as Yoongi, he feels worlds apart.

Yoongi doesn’t realize how long he’s been standing there but he eventually moves. Making sure that the water filter was switched off, the doors locked, the windows secured, and his keys were in the key-bowl, Yoongi makes his way to his bedroom mechanically out of habit. He pauses in front of Jimin’s door.

He wants to talk to Jimin. But he doesn’t know what to say.

Quietly, he walks to his room and closes the door behind him.

 

*

 

Breakfast is an extremely awkward affair.

Jimin seems to have the same sentiment of wanting to talk but not knowing what to say.

And Yoongi’s inability to speak comes back in full force.

They’re both doing terrible jobs at pretending to eat. Jimin didn’t drink coffee as it would turn out, so Yoongi keeps the second cup he had poured out over at his side. A glass of water stands next to Jimin’s bowl of oatmeal, the only form of breakfast Yoongi could find in his kitchen that wasn’t 2-day leftover or completely unhealthy. He still wanted to appear like a responsible adult who ate proper meals. Yoongi didn’t even really eat breakfast, he normally just had a cup of coffee.

Did Jimin have breakfast? He had just stepped out of the room and Yoongi had said, ‘Uh- oatmeal?’ and that was it. Yoongi wonders why he hadn’t gone grocery shopping the other day when he had time. Then he remembers he spent it silently freaking out, staring at the guestroom.

Mundane questions like ‘did you sleep well’ nearly escape him but Yoongi catches himself before he can, noting the dark circles under Jimin’s eyes. The rooms were decently soundproof so Yoongi couldn’t hear if Jimin had been up all night. Had he been comfortable? Yoongi is pretty sure the guestroom bed was comfortable. No one’s slept in it before because Yoongi didn’t have cause to have guests to stay over. It was actually used more like a storeroom, because the apartment had come pre-furnished. But Yoongi had changed many of the furniture and ended up storing all of the original furniture in the guestroom. He had arranged it so that it looked less like a storeroom once they decided Jimin would live with him. But it still obviously looked very much like a storeroom.

Yoongi studies Jimin quickly, making sure he wasn’t ill or in pain. He notices that his eyes aren’t swollen though- he just seemed to be in shock.

‘I’m sorry for…for last night,’ Jimin, his husband says. He’s staring at the oatmeal as though it held all the answers to this mess.

Yoongi opens his mouth, to say what he’s not sure, but before he can mumble some form of response, Jimin speaks again.

‘There was nothing anyone could have done,’ Jimin says. And it sounded like he was saying this to himself instead.

The conversation dies completely and Yoongi’s oatmeal and two cups of coffee are cold. He wishes he had work to escape to. But his director had been adamant on giving him 2 weeks of holiday (which he didn’t ask for and in fact asked if it could be narrowed down to 1 to the incredulity of everyone who overheard him), so he had no work to hide behind.

‘Do you…do you need to get anything?’ Yoongi asks after they’ve both managed to swallow down at least half of their oatmeal. ‘I can uh, show you to the grocery market- there’s a department store not too far off either.’

‘I’m all right,’ Jimin replies quietly.

‘I…I know I said this before but this place is yours too. Now.’ Yoongi adds. ‘And I just- um.’

‘You just want me to be comfortable.’ Jimin smiles though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. ‘I know. I’m thankful, I really am but. But I just…I need time.’

Yoongi nods in reply and that’s the last conversation they have that day.

Yoongi hears Jimin leaving the apartment quietly and doesn’t see him for the rest of the weekend.