The pungent smell of coffee, the isabelline bar and the amaranthine walls had become something close to a home; the people that came in were usually calm and polite, looking for a place to relax after a long day.
Yes, the diner was home but that didn’t mean it would last long. Despite finding peace in serving coffee and cleaning tables, Park Jimin still held his breath at every chime of the bell, at every person that came inside. After being pushed away by the people he trusted the most at the frail age of nineteen, he couldn't be blamed.
The definition he had of the word home had been blemished that cloudy summer day he decided he wanted to major in dance. He had been excited to tell his family, knowing they would support him like they had on every other aspect of his life. He had been very wrong. Instead of hugs and pats on the back he received two suitcases packed with all of his belongings and a wallet filled with enough cash to last him a year.
The memories didn’t cross his mind regularly anymore, they were more like bad dreams that came to him in the middle of the night when the only company he had was himself and his thoughts . It took him awhile but he eventually accepted that it had not been a dream and that he would have to look out for himself from then on.
And that was what he did.
"Jimin-ah, could you help behind the counter for a bit?"
The silver haired man looked up from the table he was cleaning and nodded at his boss with a warm smile. He finished wiping the white table before moving over to the bar where he started taking orders. He smiled and greeted everyone politely during rush hour, acting even more amiable to those who entered with scowls on their faces.
Once the rush ended and there were few people in the premises, most of the staff took the opportunity and left to get lunch. Jimin had waved them off telling them he would stay with the cooks and attend any people who came in.
Half an hour later and no new customers had come in. The place was silent except for a few hushed voices, Jimin resisted the urge to go grab something to eat from the back.
He was sitting in front of the cash register reading an article about nose jobs when a man came running inside. He was wearing a black leather jacket and well, everything was black really; from the top of his head covered in soft jet-black hair to the soles of his black Balmorals .
Jimin smiled and put down the magazine. He ignored the man's disheveled appearance and was about to ask him if he needed anything when suddenly he jumped behind the counter and landed beside him.
"Uh, sir," Jimin remarked with wide eyes. "You can't be on this side of the counter."
The man pushed his hair back and turned to look at him intensely. "Listen, I promise I'll buy the most expensive thing on the menu if you hide me for a few minutes."
Jimin stared at him blankly for a few seconds debating on what to do. He had never received such an offer and therefore knew nothing of how to deal with situations like these.
The man’s forehead glistened with sweat as he ran a hand through his messy hair, his brown eyes were pleading for something Jimin attempted not to read into. Everything about him screamed a series of no ’s that rang like alarm bells in his head but Jimin eventually sighed and nodded, ignoring people in need had never been easy for him.
The man's eyes lit up as Jimin pulled him through the doors that lead to the kitchen. He pushed him inside the storage room roughly before any of the cooks noticed.
"You can stay here," Jimin muttered and pointed a finger at him before continuing. "I expect an explanation later."
The man smiled playfully at him and nodded. Jimin narrowed his eyes at him and eyed him up and down before going back to the front of the restaurant.
A couple of minutes later two police officers ran inside looking as disheveled as the man hiding in the storage room; the man that he helped. Jimin straightened his back and put on his nicest smile when the men started walking towards him after looking around. His own eyes wandered towards the counter he pretended to be ridding of any crumbs. Please don't be looking for him , he pleaded in his mind a couple of times before speaking.
"Good afternoon, what will you be having?"
"We're actually here looking for someone," one of them said, his partner nodding in agreement. "He doesn't seem to be here though."
"Well, what does he look like?" The silver haired man asked, refraining himself from averting his eyes towards the door where the person was hiding
"He's about this tall," the other officer spoke lifting his hand a bit over Jimin's head. "He has black hair and pale skin, wearing a leather jacket."
Jimin nodded and his lips pursed, golden eyes turning into small crescents when his eyebrows furrowed in a confused expression. After a few seconds of putting up the act, he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.. "I haven't seen him and nobody's come in except those people and now you."
The men nodded and sighed. After ordering something to go they left and Jimin exhaled in relief, his shoulders slumped and his heartbeat slowed down considerably. He was not cut out for this, lying for people. The guy looked suspicious already and the fact that the police were looking for him made goosebumps appear on Jimin’s skin.
When he entered the storage room he saw the man leaning on the wall looking at his phone with furrowed eyebrows. Jimin cleared his throat and got his attention. The man's eyes lit up at the other’s presence.
"Are they gone?" He asked. Jimin nodded in response and crossed his arms as the other sighed in relief. He pocketed his phone and started walking towards the exit before the other's voice stopped him.
"Aren't you going to explain why the police is looking for you?" Jimin demanded.
"Look, I'd love to stay and chat..." the man smirked, walking until he was right in front of him.
"Jimin-ssi! But I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a hurry," he continued, pulling something out from inside his jacket and handing it to Jimin. "As a thank you though, you can call that number whenever you're in trouble and help will come."
Jimin analyzed the white paper in his hands and ran his pointer finger over the bold numbers. He turned it around and furrowed his eyebrows at the word written in italics: Suga .
"You have a strange na..." he began, but stopped when he lifted his head and realized he was alone.
He turned around trying to find the man, Suga, but he was nowhere to be seen. “Ah, what a weirdo.” He sighed shaking his head and pocketing the card before going back to work with flashes of the mysterious man still on his mind.
Jimin didn’t see the man at all the rest of the week. He seriously considered throwing the card away but everytime he would walk close to any trash bin, anxiety would run through his body in the form of chills making him immediately change his mind. Something told him he should keep it. Just in case. Just like he kept the box to his earphones, he never knew when he might need it. He kept the card inside his wallet just to get rid of the fear of losing it… whatever that feeling meant.
He found himself waiting tables on a cloudy Monday morning, which surprisingly did not bother him at all. He was fine with the life he led now, two years after being kicked out from his home. He was independent. Despite being haunted by the memories at night he couldn’t just flat out say that the events didn’t cross his mind once or twice while he worked. It was safe to say that although he stopped whatever he was doing whenever he remembered he mostly ignored the ache.
The diner was quiet as always despite being full. The customers always spoke in a low voice or did not speak at all if they brought something to read or write. Jimin was serving an elderly couple when the sound of the front door bell followed by loud chatter made him almost drop a milkshake. He smiled sheepishly at the woman, who covered her mouth giggling.
"Jimin! Park Jimin!"
The boy in question sighed and rolled his eyes when he heard the voice. He considered fleeing through the back door but decided against it knowing he would be followed. Instead he sighed and turned to look at the two newcomers with a tight smile.
"Jiho-hyung, Kyung-hyung," he acknowledged them each with a bow. "How are you?"
"Better now that I see you,” Jiho said in a flirtatious manner. The two Parks rolled their eyes and the youngest moved behind the bar, the other two sitting on the stools in front of him. "It's been too long, Jimin, hope you didn't miss me too much."
"Would you like the usual?" Jimin asked ignoring the dirty blond's comment. Kyung smiled at him lightly and nodded.
Jimin turned to Jiho who was pouting for the lack of attention. He sighed and crossed his arms waiting for an answer. After a few seconds the man finally sighed in defeat and nodded.
By the time Jimin brought their orders Jiho had gained back his confidence and continued his "pursuit". He would call the silver haired man pet names whenever he needed him and would purposely make their fingers touch whenever he was handed something.
Jimin only smiled tightly at the attempts to woo him, as he had done for the past three months. He could have said something already but he was too nice. He also laughed at Kyung who would always elbow Jiho and tell him to stop. There was not a hint of anger though, just disappointment and boredom.
"Y'know Jimin, it wouldn't hurt you to just accept a date with me," Jiho inquired, taking a sip of his tea before continuing. "We've been friends long enough."
"I'm going to go to the restroom,” Kyung announced before standing up and leaving, muttering something about awkwardness.
Jimin watched him leave before turning to the remaining man. He gave him a small smile before murmuring, "You know I'm not interested in a relationship right now, hyung."
"I know, I know but that's what you've been saying ever since we've met!" The older man exclaimed. "Maybe it's time for you to step out of your comfort zone."
"Maybe but I just don’t think I need one right now, I have other things to focus on.” Jimin tried to explain hoping he could make the man understand without hurting his feelings.
“Like what?” Jiho scoffed, leaning back on his chair and crossing his arms.
“Like school and my job,” The younger sighed grabbing a cloth and cleaning the little droplets of tea that fell on to the table. Upon hearing yet another scoff from the man in front of him he continued. “Those things are more important to me right now than taking care of someone else, hyung.”
A hand was placed over his and he tensed. “I’m not asking you to take care of me, Jimin, it’s the other way around actually.”
The silver haired man just stared at the much larger hand on top of his with his breath caught in his throat. “I-“
"Jiho leave the poor kid alone,” Kyung complained as he sat down once again. "He's running out of ways to say no."
"Then he should say yes!" Jiho complained taking his hand off of Jimin’s and turning to his friend.
Jimin mumbled something about customers and left to attend other tables. He was seriously thankful for Kyung, it didn't seem like he enjoyed his company too much but he always stopped Jiho before it got too far; despite being his best friend, he never truly listened to him and the next visit would be the same way: Jiho shamelessly flirting, Jimin trying to let him down easy and Kyung trying to dissipate the awkwardness.
Jiho wasn’t a bad man or anything- Jimin didn’t think so. He just didn’t really know anything about him and the way he acted was too forward for Jimin’s liking, it made him feel uncomfortable. The old confident Jimin probably would have accepted a date immediately despite not reciprocating feelings, he could have figured out those later; but now he was apprehensive and didn’t want to waste time on something short lived.
Jimin managed to avoid them for a while and with every passing minute he felt more relaxed. Jiho’s eyes never left him though, but after knowing him for so long Jimin worked efficiently with a heavy on him, his movements never faltering.
A half hour later as he prepared something in the kitchen, he saw Kyung looking at his phone with furrowed eyebrows before his eyes widened. He tapped the other man and showed him whatever was on the screen. Jiho’s face turned serious and dark, in a way that Jimin had never seen before and almost made him gasp. They both left some money on the table and left without a single word.