“I missed my bus.”
Namjoon glanced down from the steep, cloud-shrouded mountains and found a boy with a Korean face and an American accent. He dressed like all the other trendy, outdoorsy tourists down here, branded clothes meant to take a beating on a mountainside and still look selfie-ready by the end of the day. He had his hands in his pockets and slouched a little inside his hood. Dark patches peppered his head and shoulders from the drizzly, New Zealand rain.
So he’d missed his bus. There was an obvious, annoying protocol for that. Call the company. Re-book for the following day. Struggle to find any hostel in town with an extra bed for the night. Go out and re-do all the tourist traps you exhausted the day before. Anyone with a brain should know that. There were a million of these trendy, attractive college kids around, all looking to post their cheap thrills on Instagram with their pseudo-intellectual, recycled, feel-good captions. “Y-yeah?”
The kid swallowed hard, deep black eyes flickering around like he was ashamed to look Namjoon in the face for too long. “I don’t know…what to do.”
Or maybe he was just panicking. He looked sweet, soft brown hair on his forehead, probably dyed, and a few unconventional piercings in his ears. He couldn’t be much younger than Namjoon, but life experience varied a lot in their age. Maybe he hadn’t done this before. “Um…Did you book with NakedBus?”
“Yeah. Should I just…get on the website?” the kid said. He looked like the type to play sports and get an accounting degree with his frat hoody and Patagonia pants. “Do you think there’s another bus out today?”
“To this place?” Namjoon looked around at the major tourist destination of Franz Josef, permanent population around three-hundred. Nearly ten hostels and hotels and a couple overpriced restaurants. “No, they only run one bus up and down the coast every day. You’re stuck. Going north or south?”
“North. Started around Queenstown and Fiordland.”
“You here just for a couple weeks?”
“I’m at school in Wellington. This is my Spring break. Or Fall break, I guess. I’m Jungkook, by the way.” Definitely Korean. He held out an almost aggressively casual hand, the smooth offer of a trained businessman.
“Namjoon. Nice to meet you. Yeah, get on NakedBus, reschedule, and then try to find a new hostel room. Where were you last night?”
Cheap. The college student backpackers. Probably pretty rowdy at night. “They’re probably booked out, but YHA backpackers might have something left if you hurry. That’s where I’m staying.”
“Should I…” He chewed his full bottom lip and blinked his long eyelashes.
“Sorry. Talking to myself,” he said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “No wifi. There’s wifi in the YHA, right?”
“Yeah. I’m just walking back from breakfast. Come with?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” He had a lovely voice, soft and light, with depth. Namjoon self-consciously adjusted his dumpy fleece jacket. This type never made him comfortable, too much material expectation caught up between the high-end hiking pants and the Timberland boots. The kind of person that got suspiciously distant when you refused to go shot for shot with them on half-off student’s night. They walked slowly up the gravel road as Jungkook studied notes on his phone. “This fucks up my whole trip,” he said softly, not so much whining as gentle distress. “I guess I could just spend one night in Arthur’s Pass, but that leaves me with no time to do anything.”
“I’m in Arthur’s Pass too,” Namjoon said carefully. This expensive kid had the prettiest dainty lips and little freckles. “Day after tomorrow?”
“Well, it was supposed to be that and tomorrow night, but I guess I’ll have to reschedule. It’s good I haven’t had to pay for any of the hostels yet but the travel tickets are going to be kinda...” He flinched and looked back at his phone as they walked into the hostel. Namjoon waited quietly while he poked at his phone for a while, pouting adorably. “You can go,” he said, hardly looking up. “Thanks for your help.”
“I want to make sure you get a room,” Namjoon grumbled, feeling like a fifty-year-old uncle with the third cousin twice removed. “It’s polite.”
“Ah okay. Thanks. You really don’t have to though. It’ll probably be fine.” He stepped up to the desk.
The only room they had left was a double for NZD 73. Jungkook bit his lip. “You sure you don’t have any twenty-dollar spots left?”
“We’d have nothing, but someone just cancelled on us to leave that room open.”
“Would any of the other hostels have…something else?” he said, voice sinking in embarrassment, and the woman behind the desk had to lean forward to hear him.
“It’s Easter weekend, sweetie,” the woman said. “You could always try, but…”
“My room is a double,” Namjoon said, compelled to speak, but wishing he had the lack of conscious to keep his mouth shut. “You could share with me, but I tend to snore.”
Jungkook’s mouth popped open. He stared at Namjoon a moment, not speaking, and Namjoon flushed, waiting for Jungkook’s excuse, for however he intended to get out of staying with Namjoon, not that Namjoon wanted to share his small, full-sized bed and private bathroom with any muddy student anyway. “I’m a heavy sleeper,” Jungkook said quickly. “I’d owe you, like, 35-ish?”
“Oh, I’ve already paid for it,” Namjoon said, scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably. “Just buy me a drink or something.”
Jungkook sagged against the counter with a heavy sigh of relief.
Namjoon didn’t see Jungkook all day. He’d dropped his backpack in the room, giving the single bed a couple raised eyebrows and a little flush, and left Namjoon to go on his solo hike up to the disappearing glacier and the spellbinding river plain down from it. Deep, green hills streaked with frothy water trailed down the rocks, so far away that it looked like the water crawled gently down the cliffs.
Such a transient landscape. The melting glacier was taking the rocks with it, wearing the mountains away and leaving a waste of rock field between the valley shoulders. The ice draped down the cliff like a something dead, a river rushing from the corpse.
Jungkook met Namjoon for dinner, still pink from exertion and breathing a little hard.
“I did the Alex Knob again,” Jungkook said proudly. “You didn’t do that one? It’s nice. I did it yesterday too. There’s a lake and you get all the way up above the glacier where there aren’t any trees. The air’s, like, clean and you feel huge because everything else looks so small.” He giggled happily. “I hiked with a couple. I was kind of awkward. Have you done that hike?”
“No,” Namjoon said, “I don’t really do long hikes. My cardio is kinda…”
A gorgeous smirk glinted at the edge of Jungkook’s mouth. He sat back in his chair with his shoulders back, staring down his nose with his tongue playing with the corner of his lips. “Long? It’s like four hours tops.”
For all his posturing, Jungkook looked small out of his backpack, jumping between mindlessly talkative and quietly still like a nervous rabbit. Namjoon felt like a creepy, old man even though Jungkook couldn’t have been more than four years younger than him.
“Twenty-one,” Jungkook said when he asked. “I’m in my Junior year doing a study abroad semester at U-Vic in Wellington. You?”
“Twenty-four. I had a conference in Auckland. Now I’m touring the country.”
“Conference for what?”
“Oh. I’m in the music business. I write and produce. It was a minor conference so, uh, they sent me.”
Jungkook’s shocked face made him look even more like a bunny, bug-eyes and buck-teeth. “Oh shit! I wanted to be a singer when I was younger. What’s that like?”
“More stressful than it looked in high school,” Namjoon sighed. “I’ve been struggling with it since I graduated, so like, six years.”
“Work right out of high school? Wow.”
Namjoon shrugged with a small laugh, even the thought of stress making his stomach turn.
Jungkook ordered something light and inexpensive and Namjoon would have felt bad about choosing such an expensive restaurant, except that every place in town cost just as much. Namjoon still walked up to the register while Jungkook was in the bathroom and paid the whole bill.
“Seriously?” Jungkook said when he got back, voice cracking.
“It’s no problem,” Namjoon said, a little guilty about babying him.
“If it’s no problem, can I get more? That really wasn’t enough,” he whined, and then gasped and tried to wave it away. “I’m kidding. I’m fine. You don’t have to—”
Namjoon handed him his own take-out box.
“I can’t—I couldn’t—”
Namjoon dropped it into his hands and watched him whip it open and demolish the second half of his burger in under a minute before starting on the fries.
“You still growing or something?”
“It was a long hike,” Jungkook grumbled. “I need a lot of calories.”
The room seemed much smaller with another full-grown man in it, sitting on the floor by the outlet with his phone propped on his knee. “Just a warning,” Namjoon said, “I’m probably not going to be awake later than nine.”
Jungkook gaped at him. “I was about to suggest we go out for drinks. Asleep by nine? Did you want to be up by six a.m. or something?”
“It’s vacation,” Namjoon said. “Ten hours of sleep is about right.”
“So, you wanna wake up by seven?” Jungkook said, blinking in alarm.
“Why not? The bus leaves at 9:15 and we’ll need to go out for breakfast.”
“Oh.” Jungkook chewed on his lip. “Well, it’s your room, Grandpa,” he said, shrugging. “I can roll with that.”
So disrespectful. Namjoon’s head clunked against the wall as he snorted.
“It’s been a long day anyway,” Jungkook said. “You don’t mind if I sleep topless, right?”
“Nah. You don’t mind if I sleep bottomless right?” Namjoon said. Jungkook’s round eyes bugged. “I’m kidding,” Namjoon said. “Sorry if that was tasteless.”
“Oh. No. Sorry. I’m just…Should have realized that was a joke.”
Namjoon didn’t realize that the topless thing would, in fact, be a problem, until Jungkook’s shirt came off. He took a long time in the bathroom so Jungkook wouldn’t see his burning face. That body could have been sculpted. He lay tiredly on the bed with his sweat pants so sinfully low, the V of his hips defined and smooth like a runway straight down. “Hey, do you know how I can get from Hokitika to Arthur’s Pass? I had transportation lined up, but I won’t be in time anymore.”
Namjoon swallowed and tried not to choke on his dry tongue. “I’m taking the train.”
“Ha. That’s way outside my budget. There aren’t any busses. I don’t know how I’m going to get to Christchurch.”
Namjoon sat down on the bed beside him. “How’d you miss your bus?”
“I had the wrong time in my head and forgot to check if I was right or not,” he said, brushing his hair up off his forehead, revealing his sharp eyebrows and the bulge of his bicep in one movement. Namjoon looked away. “It was stupid,” Jungkook said quietly. “I really don’t want to just bus back to Wellington over something that stupid.”
“No, no. I can’t take more from you. I just wanted to know if you knew anything I could do.”
Jungkook laughed. “’Uber-x wants three-thousand bucks and a tenth of your soul. Request?’”
“You really could take the train though. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful routes in the world.”
Jungkook bit his lip. “I don’t want to, like, take advantage or something.”
“Just buy me dinner.”
Jungkook’s gaze flicked up at him under his long lashes. His chest filled. His lips parted.
“Oh my god,” Namjoon said, flushing again. “Not like that.”
“I mean…” Jungkook mumbled, gorgeous smirk returning. Namjoon raised his eyebrows. “I’m kidding,” Jungkook said quickly, cheeks going red. “Um.” He shuffled his feet on the bed. “I’ll pay you back, with dinner or anything else. If you buy the train ticket. I’m really sorry about this. I’ll try to make it worth your time.”
Namjoon couldn’t tell if they were still in flirt territory or not, or if they’d ever been there in the first place, so he nodded and stared down at the plain, blue carpet instead. Plain walls. Chipped door. Not exactly the place for romance. Not exactly the partner for it either.
“H-how long are you staying in New Zealand?” Jungkook asked.
“Another week and a half. I’ve got to make it all the way up the North Island too. Gonna see Hobbiton before I go.”
“You should see Wellington. It’s a cool place.”
“I will. I’ll be there for three days.”
“Good,” Jungkook said softly. He glanced at the bathroom. “My turn.”
Namjoon lay down in bed, pants-less, but with the longest, most conservative boxers he had with him, and jammed as close to the edge as he could without falling off. Jungkook tucked in beside him a few minutes later, facing away and awkwardly straightened out under the covers. Despite his protests of bedtime being too early, he dropped off to sleep first, the tiniest, sweetest snores rumbling quietly out.
Why the hell had Namjoon just offered to buy some kid he just met a hundred-sixty-dollar ticket across the mountains? It’s not like he couldn’t afford it, but he wasn’t the one who missed the bus.
The room was too hot, the sheets too thick. Sweat prickled under his arms and across his hairline. The light under the door seemed to stain the whole room a sickly yellow. Some hot, young furnace breathed deeply beside him, strong shoulders and thick arms above the blankets, turned around so his sweet face couldn’t temper the view. Namjoon stared at the dark wall. He pulled on his pants, grabbed his key and a nearly untouched but battered pack of cigarettes, and walked out.
The night air felt close to freezing, catching the smoke and keeping it heavy as it hung in the streetlight. The sweat over his body turned cold.
Stupid Jungkook with his bunny teeth and his stripper arms.
As soon as he lay back in bed, Jungkook rolled onto his back, jammed right up close to Namjoon’s side in the tiny bed. “Hmmyou smell like smoke,” he whispered, obviously not quite awake. His fingers trailed lightly up Namjoon’s arm and under his sleeve. “Smells good,” he murmured, body angling closer with his face snuggled against Namjoon’s shoulder.
Namjoon didn’t get the ten hours of sleep he’d hoped for.
Jungkook was not a morning person. He woke up easily enough, got ready quickly, and walked to breakfast looking wide-eyed and shell-shocked, responding in grunts and staring off into space for minutes at a time.
“Coffee,” Namjoon said, shoving a large cup into his hand. Jungkook took a careless sip.
“Fuck! Hot! Gross!”
“The sugar is over there,” Namjoon snickered, directing him to the drink station. “And they just brewed it. Yeah, it’s hot.”
The road to Hokitika wound across a wide plain with tall mountains springing up on one side and the ocean on the other like they’d grown to the size of giants on a compressed landscape. They ascended on ribbon-like asphalt into the mountains and continued on with broken looks at the blue sea through the trees.
Jungkook, jammed tightly in beside him with his knees spread carelessly wide, put headphones in his ears and bobbed along to the music. He worse a Supreme brand cap today, the same frat hoody, casual sweatpants. He slouched down in his seat, one long leg in the aisle, and the other knee and clunky boot almost in Namjoon’s space. Namjoon watched it jiggle up and down, sometimes brushing against his own jeans. He self-consciously adjusted his faded t-shirt.
“Do you ever regret not going to college?” Jungkook asked after hours of silence, popping one earphone out and looking at him curiously.
“Good,” Jungkook said softly, looking back at his phone and putting his earphone back in.
He ripped it out again. “Not good like I’m glad you regret it!” he said wildly. “Sorry,” he put a steadying hand out when Namjoon jolted. “Fuck, sorry. I’m a mess. I’m, like, bleary today but also so fucking awake. I’m just asking because sometimes I don’t know why I’m in college, and people say I have to if I want a good job, but you have a ‘good job,’ technically, so if you still regretted it, I figured…I don’t know…that college might be worth something just for itself, which is reassuring.”
“It’s certainly an experience, I’m sure,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook nodded, relaxing slowly and putting his earphones back in. “Yeah, it is.”
In Hokitika, a tiny little postage stamp of a place labelled by Kiwis as a “large town,” Jungkook sauntered into the grocery store with the ease of a suburban mom, and bought two whole grocery bags of things. “So we don’t have to come back in for dinner tonight,” he said.
“You’re making me dinner?” Namjoon asked.
“We’re at the same hostel, right? I mean, you paid for my dinner last night. This probably doesn’t make up for it, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.”
Their new hostel was right across the road from the beach, a tiny place, the kind that feels more like an aunt’s house with driftwood furniture and the names of native birds on all the doors. Bedsheets dried in the breeze, big, blue swaths of fabric blowing gently from the balcony railings. A huge window let light into the upstairs living room and gave them a panoramic view of the sea. The midday sun gleamed down on one side. Slowly shifting, distant rainclouds lined the other. Everything was soft and silent and blue.
“We’re in the same room again,” Jungkook said. “There are four bunks, but we’re the only two in there so far.” Namjoon nodded, just standing in front of the window and breathing. Jungkook bumped against his elbow.
“I figured out the wifi.”
“I looked up entertainment in this town. There’s literally nothing.”
“Hm. That’s good.”
“But I like long walks on the beach?”
He’d taken his boots off and stood just short enough to look Namjoon in the eye through his lashes, a curious tilt to his head. “That’s convenient,” Namjoon said. “So do I.”
It was a small, rocky beach, not really much of anything, especially after getting used to Los Angeles beaches. Jungkook started out strolling coolly along like a fuckboy, kicking rocks in the water and making Namjoon feel like a Dad for stopping to examine them. Soon enough, he’d kicked off his boots and was running away from the surf, giggling and tossing green stones into the sea. Namjoon felt less self-conscious about lying down in the sand and breathing in the scent of the waves.
Jungkook collapsed next to him, breathless and smiling and not saying a word. The quiet, empty, gray beach got a little louder and brighter, a little more comfortable and less cold.
“Where in the US are you from?” Namjoon asked.
“Ahh… Pretty close to me then. I’m in LA these days. It sucks.”
Jungkook had thrown off his hoody and rolled his sweat pants up above his knees. He slapped a rock into Namjoon’s palm. “What can you tell me about that one?” he said, voice still deliciously breathy.
“I don’t know much about geology,” he murmured. “Igneous, obviously. Um…looks like basalt. I’m guessing a lot of these rocks are volcanic. It’s smooth, so it’s old. It’s probably been tossed around in rivers and seas for a while.”
Jungkook rolled onto his side and stared at it.
“What’s your major?” Namjoon asked.
Jungkook tossed a rock up into the air and caught it awkwardly. “Sports medicine,” he said, and threw it again.
“What do you play?” Namjoon said, watching the rock sailing above them in case he needed to move in a hurry.
“Everything,” Jungkook giggled, “but baseball, mostly. Played soccer in middle school. That was fun. Can’t really play basketball anymore. I’ve gotten to the age where height really matters and they don’t let guys under, like, six-five on the team anymore. Tried tennis once. Didn’t like it.”
“You weren’t good at it?”
“I was! Just didn’t feel like my sport. I like big fields.” He caught the rock and let his arm flop into the sand. “You ever play anything?”
“I can ice skate a little. I used to play basketball.”
“Were you any good?”
“I have two left feet and I never know where my arms are, so no.”
Jungkook laughed. “Got a girlfriend?”
Namjoon sighed at the storm-clouds, rolling gently closer and closer and turning the ocean gray. “No.”
“Me either. My last girlfriend dumped me for someone else. I’ve only been with guys since then.” He said it softly, lilting a little like a question.
“I’ve only ever had one boyfriend,” Namjoon said to answer him. Jungkook gave a tiny, content sigh. “He’s from a pretty conservative Korean-American family. We couldn’t tell them, so we broke up.”
Jungkook rolled onto his side, almost up against Namjoon’s arm.
Namjoon shrugged. “Things just work a little differently for him. I honestly think he’ll be happier if he gets to have a wife and family. You know, biological children with their biological mother and no societal complications. It’s really important to him for some reason. I didn’t want to be what stopped him.”
“Still sucks,” Jungkook murmured. “Doesn’t seem right.”
“He just sees the world a little differently, I guess,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook sat up and started brushing sand off his clothes. Namjoon got the urge to pull him back down next to him. “Storm coming.”
“Looks like a light drizzle,” Namjoon said, even though it didn’t.
“A light drizzle will still make my clothes mold up my whole backpack. I didn’t bring my raincoat out here.”
If Namjoon had been there on his own, he would have just lay on the beach and let the rain soak him until he was cold, wet and sandy, but also clean and free of petty concerns. He sighed and followed Jungkook back to the hostel for comfort and sensibility.
Jungkook made them pasta and Italian sausages, sharing stove space with a couple making spaghetti, and the smell filled the whole room. A family worked steadily towards completing a puzzle on the coffee table. A trio of kids their age sat around the other table with their phones out. An old set of Chinese tourists chopped vegetables on the kitchen island.
Jungkook had also glued himself to his phone, Facebook Messenger pinging steadily throughout the meal.
“What’s your last name?” Namjoon said as a way of making dinner conversation.
“Of course it is.”
Namjoon snorted, somehow not even annoyed. “You ever get off your phone?”
“No. Do you even have a phone?”
“You’ve seen me use it, like, five times today,” Namjoon said. “Respect your elders, kiddo.”
“You’re doing the dishes, oppa.”
“The fuck?” Namjoon laughed.
Jungkook looked up from his screen, finally, confused. “Isn’t that what I would need to call you in Korea?”
“Yeah, if you were a girl,” Namjoon snickered. Jungkook colored softly, making a small, embarrassed noise. “You’d call me ‘hyung.’”
“Sounds like ‘hung,’” Jungkook said, smirking again.
“Jungkook!” Namjoon giggled.
“Well, are you?”
“There are children here!”
Jungkook gave him that look again, the low, almost hopeful look under his lashes. He leaned forward on the table with his arms bulging in his sleeves. “I asked you a question, hyung.”
“I’m not answering that in public,” he added, quieter. “And you’re pronouncing it wrong.”
“So you’d answer in private?”
“Jungkook,” Namjoon whined.
“You’re on dishes. Good luck with the pan I used for the sausages.”
The family atmosphere was delightful, but only for a while. After the early sunset faded and the darkness had left the room small, crowded, and isolated for a certain number of hours, Namjoon closed his book and realized Jungkook had already slipped out anyway.
Their room was empty too. Namjoon kicked off his jeans, climbed under the covers, and continued reading until the door opened and Jungkook sauntered in with his bare chest glistening with water droplets. Namjoon ripped his eyes away again. “Watcha reading?” Jungkook said over the telltale swish of two legs entering a pair of pants.
“Rudyard Kipling, actually. The original Jungle Book.”
“Whoa,” Jungkook said, kneeling beside the head of his bed. “That’s actually really cool.”
His damp, thick forearm slid into view, dark and veiny. “Can I read the back?”
Namjoon turned it around for him. The veiny arm led to sculptural bicep and a thick shoulder, and then Jungkook’s open and curious face. He met Namjoon’s eyes, dark and gentle, hair still damp and face still a little red. “Can I hear your music? Like, that you produce?”
Namjoon pulled his phone out of his bag and sat up. Jungkook came to sit close beside him. “I hope I’m not, like, ruining your vacation by crowding in on you,” Jungkook said. “You seem like you’d rather be alone.”
“I wouldn’t,” Namjoon said softly. “I hate to travel alone, but no one else was staying in the country after the conference, so here I am. I’m sorry if I seem cold. I’m just…” The pressure of LA, the ‘cooler’ young talent with prettier faces and richer clothing, his own, lonely apartment, the late-night calls to his parent, the way Kpop shot upwards across the ocean while no one took him seriously in the US until he forced them too. And here he was, down at the bottom of the world, off the edge of the map and so far from any identified or unidentified home.
He played his own music. The demos that sounded too small over the phone speakers for how many sleepless nights he put into them.
But Jungkook took his phone gently from his hand and held it close, like someone speaking into Siri in a crowded room, gazing at it like at a flickering candle. “This is incredible,” he murmured. “Not really my thing, but I can tell it’s good.”
“Thanks,” Namjoon snorted. He reached for the phone and caught Jungkook’s fingers with it, and Jungkook wouldn’t let go of the phone. Jungkook met his eyes, sly and searching, and Jungkook’s breath smelled like mint toothpaste, and Jungkook’s lips tasted like mint toothpaste. Jungkook’s hand rested on his jaw. Jungkook’s breath caught in a warm rush over the roof of Namjoon’s mouth. Jungkook’s tongue brushed wet and soft against his bottom lip.
Namjoon leaned forward and Jungkook’s body—his body—lay easily down under him, trapped between his arms. “Jeon Jungkook,” Namjoon breathed.
“Namjoon,” he breathed back.
Namjoon’s hands, which were never quite where he expected them to be, found themselves beside Jungkook’s shoulders, and they felt even better than they looked. Each curve fit so snugly in his palms. “I know you like lookin at me,” Jungkook groaned softly.
Namjoon’s heart thrummed in his ribs, fingers trembling.
“I like looking at you,” Jungkook whispered. He adjusted his legs to either side of Namjoon’s hips, squeezing. “Walked up to you in Franz Josef the first time because…you looked like you’d know everything and you could take care of me.”
“Fuck, baby,” Namjoon murmured, chest clenching.
“And you did,” Jungkook said. He pulled Namjoon’s body down on top of himself, arms sliding over his back and locking him close. His neck lay there under Namjoon’s mouth and he squirmed, swallowing down tiny, whining whimpers when Namjoon sucked gently at his shower-sweet skin.
He sat up, pushed right up against the backs of Jungkook’s thighs. “Fuck, look at you,” Namjoon murmured, smoothing his palms all the way up Jungkook’s chest and then back down, almost to the bulge growing in the front of his sweatpants. Jungkook gulped, gaze half sultry, half caught in the headlights.
His parents—Seokjin even, would call this reckless, suspicious, some beautiful, young man taking his money and lying in his bed. His friends in LA would love it. A thumb caught on one of Jungkook’s nipples and he chest twitched, eyes flickering closed. Namjoon pinched.
That bulge in Jungkook’s pants looked bigger and bigger, stretching the low waistband. He whimpered against his arm and Namjoon ducked down again and nosed at his jaw, calling his face back forward so he could feel the moans against his lips. Those strong arms snaked around his lower back again, pulling Namjoon down till his thighs gave out and he could feel the rod in Jungkook’s sweats all the way along the inner seam of his hip.
The bathroom door clattered open on the other side of the wall and Jungkook jolted hard against his lips. Namjoon pulled free of his arms as if coming up for air.
“Maybe not…here,” Namjoon murmured quietly. He panted and wiped the extra spit off his mouth. Jungkook stared back with wide eyes. “Lots of families around. Shouldn’t…”
Jungkook’s parents must have had a hard time ever saying no to that face. The smallest edge of a downturn to his lips almost brought Namjoon’s heart to a halt. Such innocent worry on such deceptively delicate features. Jungkook pulled himself awkwardly away from Namjoon’s lap, nodding. “Yeah. Thin walls. Probably a…bad idea.” He smiled sheepishly, brushing his hair back into place, panting, embarrassed, and disappointed. His legs closed, hiding his still prominent erection. “Sorry for jumping you like that,” he said softly.
“You didn’t! It was invited, I think.”
Jungkook nodded. “Have you ever thought that maybe you’re too nice, Namjoon?” he said.
Namjoon’s mind blanked, a confused, frantic buzz. “No?”
“Sorry,” Jungkook muttered, the small, distressed scowl back. “I’ll let you sleep.” He climbed quickly up the ladder into his bunk and disappeared from view.
Namjoon sat with his book in his lap and stared at the opposite wall for a good twenty minutes, biting his lips and feeling the phantom press of Jungkook’s dick against his hip. Maybe he should go back to his rule of pretending he didn’t speak English when strangers talked to him on vacation.
Since they hadn’t bought train tickets together, the train didn’t seat them together. Namjoon sat in the first tall car and stared up at the passing mountains. The luggage racks above were clear plastic, and windows curved along the top edges, letting sunlight and blue sky into the clean, open space. Namjoon finally felt a little human, back in a button-up shirt with his hair swept back.
Two wild children three rows back broke into shrieks of laughter and started chasing each other down the aisle with a frantic parent following behind.
They zig-zagged through the legs of mountains across fertile farmland, rumbling gently past paddocks of sheep and, strangely, deer. The fields rose to steep, green mountainside, and then to bare rock lost occasionally in wispy cloud. One of the children started wailing.
Beautiful, warm sun. The other child started wailing. Another passenger turned around and snapped at them to be quiet. A drifting raincloud obscured the distant folds of the mountain. The children’s parents snapped right back. Namjoon stood and tiredly walked back through the train to find the open car.
Jungkook stood out in the cool air, wind whipping the hair off his forehead. He blinked slowly up at the clouds, black hoody flapping, a tiny, blissful smile on his lips. Namjoon leaned on the railing beside him and took a deep breath of green air, wet, cool, and smelling of soil and rain.
“Fancy seeing you here,” Jungkook said, chest swelling as he yelled over the clatter of the train car. Namjoon knew how it felt to touch that now. “Gotta post photos and make my friends jealous,” Jungkook said, gesturing with his phone at the long valley, the snow-streaked peaks along the track. “Wish I could be all the way up at the top of those.”
Namjoon nodded. “Wish I could fly.”
“You can just climb it, you know.”
Namjoon scoffed and shook his head.
“You should! It’s fun. Great weather for it too. It feels like conquering the world.”
“I’m not a mountain climber.”
“Don’t limit yourself like that,” Jungkook said. His hand caught the underside of Namjoon’s wrist on the rail, fingertips latching onto his thumb before he realized what he was doing. He blushed and shoved his hands in his hoody pocket. Namjoon stood quietly for a minute, staring at the mountains with his hand tingling, and then slid his palm over Jungkook’s back. Such firm muscle under his soft hoody.
“Phi, Mu, Alpha…” Namjoon said, tugging the hoody, which read Ø.M.A. “Does your frat know you’re gay?”
“Bi. And yeah. It’s a music frat, so they don’t really care. I told you I sing, didn’t I?”
“You did. You should sing for me.”
Jungkook shook his head, shoulders curling in. “Nah. I don’t sing.”
Namjoon raised an eyebrow.
“Fuck. I do sing,” Jungkook mumbled. “Just not, like, in front of…like, alone. Don’t wanna show off. I’m…get stage fright, I guess. Or not stage fright, because stages are fine, but…just forget it. I’m not singing for you.”
He tried to shake his hair into his eyes and lost to the blowing wind and so failed to hide his pout. He looked more like a ten-year-old told to sing for his grandmother than a twenty-one-year-old frat boy talking to the man he kissed the night before.
“You wear this thing every day,” Namjoon murmured, running his hand over his back.
Jungkook tilted his face to get close to Namjoon’s ear, and red still stained beautifully over his cheeks. “I’m not wearing anything under it,” he murmured. That really, really sounded like an invitation for Namjoon to push his hand up his hoody and gently trail his fingers along the contours of his abs. He didn’t.
“Who wears a hoody with nothing else?” Namjoon murmured, close to his ear so he could hear it over the noise. Jungkook shivered, flashing a smirk.
“Once I wore that to an airport without thinking. You know how sometimes they make you take off big sweaters to go through security?”
Namjoon imagined that body walking through an airport security check, the one he’d had under his hands just a day before, smooth, sculpted, and perfect. Namjoon suddenly thought he might understand a little more about Jungkook’s bold posturing over his soft voice and shy eyes. Jungkook wore his body like a mask, making it the loudest part of his personality. Aren’t I beautiful? “Bet you enjoyed that.”
“Yeah. I did. You would have too,” Jungkook said. His confidence crackled with doubt.
Namjoon swallowed, glancing around. No one was watching them, of course, though Namjoon felt like there should be eyes glued to them from every person on the car, every passing farmhouse.
“Ever thought about getting a job as a stripper,” Namjoon said, meaning to tease.
“I’ve thought about it,” Jungkook said softly.
“You can’t even sing for me,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook flushed violently, eyes locked on the horizon. “That’s different.”
“Because it’s something you care about?”
Jungkook shrugged. They watched the scenery pass. Jungkook’s shoulder brushed against Namjoon’s. He fidgeted nervously with the railing. Namjoon stood very still, not wanting to draw him closer, and not wanting to push him away.
“I got a bed in a five-person mixed dorm at the YHA for the next two nights,” Jungkook said.
“Would you rather stay with me?” Namjoon said.
Jungkook nodded, face still red, eyes still wide and innocent.
Namjoon took one look at the steep, wooded staircase up to the cabins and decided to take the long car-ramp up.
“Nope,” Jungkook said and swept his suitcase up off the ground.
“Careful! That’s heavy!”
Jungkook climbed the stairs one winding step at a time, posture perfectly straight, his massive hiking backpack sitting on his shoulders. Namjoon followed behind. “We can carry it together. Can I at least take your backpack? Please don’t fall and die.”
About halfway up, Jungkook lost speed, put the suitcase down, and swung his own backpack off his shoulders for Namjoon to carry.
“Hah…” Jungkook lifted the suitcase again and kept stepping.
The little cabin looked like it had once been someone’s small house, sitting in line with several other identical small cabins. Each the picture of a lost fifties paradise: a driveway and porch, a shed for firewood out back, white gables and light siding—a neighborhood for nuclear families of woodland creatures, Goldilocks ready to walk right in the door. “No one’s here yet,” Jungkook panted, leaning on Namjoon’s suitcase in the entryway. “Please find our room.”
As Jungkook pulled off his hoody and lay half-naked on their bed, Namjoon explored. The house had a dining room, kitchen, and living room with a fireplace and a spacious bathroom. “Hey, Jungkook, can you set up the fire? I don’t think I should be handling matches in a wooden house in the middle of a forest full of endangered species.”
Jungkook shuffled out, still shirtless, and put his bags of food down in the kitchen. “I’ll make dinner again tonight.” He started poking around. “Why the hell isn’t there any salt? Holy shit. There’s a crap ton of knives on this shelf. Like a whole box of knives.”
Jungkook looked up, face completely serious. “This is where we die.”
Namjoon burst into helpless giggles.
“Seriously,” Jungkook side, not really hiding his playful grin. “We’re alone in a cabin in the mountains, surrounded by woods. It’s windy, dark, and cold, and there’s a shit ton of knives in the kitchen for no reason.”
“I need a nap,” Namjoon groaned.
“I need to set up Home Alone traps all over the cabin to catch the axe murderers. You should smile more, by the way. You’ve got cute dimples.”
Namjoon blinked at the high ceiling. “Do I not smile much?”
“Not really. It’s already nearly five. We could probably make dinner now, if you want.”
“Maybe wait a bit. Can you start the fire?”
Jungkook lit the little wood burner according to the instructions on the wall, and then pulled Namjoon’s couch around in front of the fire with him still on it. He crawled onto the couch on top of Namjoon. “Move over,” he murmured, shoving Namjoon’s legs out of the way so he could sit down. “Your feet stink,” he groaned.
“Not my problem. I can’t smell it.”
Jungkook stood up and moved to the other side, lifting Namjoon’s head and inserting his lap under it. Namjoon shifted comfortably on his new, firm pillow.
“I have to warn you, I’m not gonna have the money anytime soon,” Jungkook muttered. “You’ve spent, like, more than a hundred dollars on me so far.”
Namjoon frowned, just wanting to ignore it for now. “Closer to two-hundred now. You don’t have to pay me back right now. You can just…PayPal me later when you have the money. And like…it’s okay if you can’t pay all of it.”
Jungkook sat silently above him for a second. “I probably won’t have it for you until, like, mid-summer. July or something. If I can get a job.”
Namjoon opened his eyes and felt his heart seize at Jungkook’s adorable pout, the underside of his chin and his shiny eyes, the magazine-perfect shape of his body. “I can wait. I wouldn’t insist on paying for your stuff and then demand something back. You like that I can take care of you, right?”
Jungkook blushed again, swallowing hard. “Yeah, well…Just because I like it…I’m not, like, demanding anything. I don’t want to…like…”
“Force yourself on me?” Namjoon snorted.
“N-no. More like. Be a…freeloader,” Jungkook shifted uncomfortably. “Or take your money.”
“I’m not worried. It’s not like I’m buying you nights in a five-star hotel.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice,” Jungkook murmured, leaning back on the couch and letting his head drop. His chest flexed out. Namjoon grabbed a laminated booklet from beside the fire and used it to shield his eyes.
The sky slowly darkened outside the windows, and left them in that curious space of the empty and unfamiliar. Jungkook got Namjoon his book from the bedroom, and then got to work making more pasta for dinner. A young German man arrived, had a polite but forgettable conversation with both of them, and then vanished into his room. Jungkook served their dinner and they ate in silence.
The German came out to make dinner. Namjoon realized he would finish his book by the end of the evening and have nothing left to read. Jungkook washed the dishes. A couple small, college-aged girls walked in and greeted everyone quietly, and gave each other small looks of alarm as they realized they were stuck in a tiny cabin in the woods at the edge of a small town with three full-grown men they didn’t know and a lot of knives.
“Jungkook, put a shirt on,” Namjoon murmured. Jungkook gave him a wounded look and went to take a shower.
Namjoon was right in the middle of really a very nice conversation with the two young women, both American bio majors studying in Dunedin for the semester, when Jungkook walked out of the bathroom in only a towel and sauntered past on his way to the bedroom. The room went dead silent. Jungkook smirked.
“Is he with you?” one of the girls asked quietly.
Namjoon nodded and rubbed his own forehead.
Jungkook was a terribly effective flirt. He dropped into the middle of a conversation about unhealthy southern cooking, and within minutes had the girls giggling and telling stories of their raunchiest late-night exploits. Jungkook giggled right back and the girls subconsciously shifted closer, stretching unnaturally on the couch in an attitude of concealed tension and forced calm.
“So, I’d just pledged, right? And my frat is really small, and our pledge class was, like, fifteen people when it’s usually more like eight. Hazing was always pretty straightforward. Like, they’d give the pledges a blunt each and then make them play stupid games.”
Namjoon let out a tired groan.
“Yeah, we thought it was stupid as hell too. We all did that shit on our own anyway. So there are fifteen of us, and only twenty-five of them. And they tell us what we’re gonna do, and all fifteen of us just go ‘Nah. That’s stupid. Let’s do something fun.’”
“So what did you do?” One of the girls said.
Jungkook wiggled his eyebrows. “We got blindfolded, and tried to guess which brother was which by dick size. For every wrong guess, we had to take another half shot.”
The girls squealed in shock. Namjoon slowly drank his tea and stared hollowly at the wall.
“The hazing ended up being worse for the initiating members than the pledges. We all just got wasted while insulting everyone else’s dicks.”
“How much does it cost to be in a fraternity?” Namjoon asked.
“Several h-hundred dollars…a semester…”
“Why am I paying for your hostel rooms?”
Jungkook started to say something, and then just pouted at him. "I mean think about it," he said softly, "Me blindfolded. On my knees. Feeling up your dick."
Namjoon got up and left the room, taking his book with him, overwhelmingly tired. Jungkook found him twenty minutes later just as he lay down inside with the smell of cigarette smoke clinging to his clothes. "Hey Namjoon?"
Namjoon didn't lift his arm off his eyes. "...Hrngg?"
"Um I'm...thinking about doing the big hike to the mountaintop tomorrow and I was wondering if you wanted to go with. It's probably safer to have a hiking companion."
"How long? To where?"
"To Avalanche Peak. The book says it's between four and ten hours total."
"Namjoon..." he whined.
The door shut. Namjoon allowed himself a deep, frustrated sigh.
"I'm still here."
Namjoon jumped and nearly fell off the bed.
Jungkook leaned against the door, arms folded. "I feel like I'm ruining your vacation and I want to fix it but I keep making things worse."
"Why do you think the right way to fix it is by flirting?"
Jungkook took a sharp breath and shifted uncomfortably. "That just seemed like the best way to pay off…” he paused, flushing as he realized how unrealistically porny that was. “Is that...not what you want?"
"I'm not paying for your stuff with any kind of expectation in that direction, no."
"That's not...I just... I just wanted to."
“Don’t bullshit me.”
Jungkook kicked the door, jaw set in something that could be either annoyance or hurt. "Okay. I can sleep on the couch and go get a new room tomorrow morning. Sorry."
Namjoon’s heart leapt into this throat. "Jungkook, don’t go. I like having you here. I just don't want you to think you have to...that you have any obligations to me. You’re my travel companion, not my…you know."
Jungkook scoffed and climbed awkwardly on the bed. He lay down, chest pressed up against Namjoon’s side, but he shook with tension, scared of being pushed away. Namjoon hesitated, then pulled Jungkook gently into his arms. Jungkook buried his face in Namjoon's neck. "You kissed me." His voice came out weak and a little muffled against Namjoon's skin.
“Because I wanted to, not because you owe me. If that’s why you kissed me back…” Namjoon said.
Jungkook pet lightly at the front of Namjoon’s shirt, fiddling with his collar. "You’re thinking too hard about this. Hike a fucking mountain with me tomorrow. I can't tell you how much you need it."
Namjoon lay stiff and confused, his heart pounding so hard he figured Jungkook could feel it through his arms. "Okay. I'm sorry."
"So you do like having me around though?" Jungkook asked delicately, eyebrows screwed together.
"Most of the time," he teased cautiously.
"I'm nice to look at," Jungkook mumbled.
"I tend to have depressingly dramatic thoughts about everything I see and you shake me out of that a lot. Which is useful."
"By saying stupid shit?"
"Yeah. It's funny though. Makes things better."
Jungkook hugged him around the waist, thick arms and a warm, firm chest. "The hike is four to ten hours and the sun sets at seven. The weather is fine and the trail probably won't be too crowded, but you’re fairly new at this, so I think we should assume it's going to take around...eight hours? So we'd better by starting the trail at eleven at the latest, but probably ten to be safe."
"This is beginning to sound kinda dangerous."
“Yeah. It’s a hike up a mountain. It’s kind of dangerous.”
“Haven’t you figured out how clumsy I am?”
Jungkook snorted and pinched his cheek. Namjoon jumped. “You’re not going to fall off the side of a mountain, Namjoon. It’s not that scary.”
Namjoon rolled the collar of Jungkook shirt between his fingers, watching the smooth skin and sharp collar bones appear.
“I’m hot, right?” Jungkook murmured, voice gruff.
Namjoon took a steadying breath, leaned in, and pressed their foreheads together. “Stop that.”
“I’m not hot?”
“Stop worrying about it. You know you are.”
“I wanna…” he tugged insistently on the back of Namjoon’s shirt. “Never mind. Sorry. I’m gonna go brush my teeth.”
Namjoon followed after, bidding a last goodnight to the girls in the living room, reminding them to tend the fire. Jungkook figured out how to turn on the electric mattress cover and lay down, shirtless again. They both lay awake for a little while, shoulder to shoulder with moonlight streaming in the window. After a while, Jungkook turned hesitantly towards him. “What time is it?”
“Probably not even nine.”
The blankets rustled, warmth shifting beneath the sheets and a breath of cold air brushing in where the blankets dipped between them. A cold nose pressed against Namjoon’s shoulder. Namjoon grabbed his arm and pulled, and hot skin settled right up against his body. “Gimme your thigh,” Namjoon said, and Jungkook swung it over Namjoon’s hips for him to grab and hold onto.
“You send a lot of mixed messages,” Jungkook whispered.
“That’s because I have no idea what I’m doing. Come here.”
Jungkook’s lips pressed tentatively to his, slow and sweet, and Namjoon pulled him further up, deeper into his arms, until Jungkook blanketed half his body and his lips lay perfectly close. “So you do think I’m hot,” Jungkook smirked between kisses.
“Shut up. You knew that.” He squeezed Jungkook’s thick thigh.
Jungkook giggled. “I was just trying it. You’ll really respond to that?”
“Sure,” Namjoon said. “That’s what my cousins call me. You don’t treat me like a hyung though.”
Jungkook rubbed Namjoon’s chest and stomach. “Squishy.”
“See?” Namjoon said, snickering. “That’s not good dongsaeng behavior. Show more respect.”
Jungkook squeezed him closer and lay a wet, heavy kiss at the corner of his lips. “Is that good dongsaeng behavior?”
“I don’t think that qualifies, no,” Namjoon murmured, but rolled to the side to kiss him again. He held Jungkook close like that while his arm fell asleep, tongues sneaking cautiously past each other’s lips. Jungkook’s hands stayed locked together around Namjoon’s neck. It felt inappropriate, somehow, for to touch more. Jungkook’s lips tasted a little like toothpaste again. Jungkook clung, one leg latched over his hip, until the kisses became just little touches, and they breathed evenly together.
Namjoon chuckled and rolled Jungkook slowly over. He pushed his arm under the pillow and gripped Jungkook against his chest, lips to the back of his neck. “hng?”
Jungkook grunted softly back. The familiar, warm weight of another body relaxed back against Namjoon’s chest, even if it was lighter and more compact than Seokjin had been. The girls giggled out in the living room, the heating pad hummed softly, and Namjoon sank in, swallowed up by a warm bed and the sweet smell of some strange kid. What was he doing? What would his boss in LA say? Would he care? He’d probably call Namjoon a liar.
Jungkook clumsily threaded his fingers through Namjoon’s. He held on.
“That root. No that one. Don’t step on the dead one. You can grab this branch right here and pull—good.”
“I thought we were hiking, not climbing trees,” Namjoon grumbled, tumbling onto the ledge and pulling himself up.
“Somewhere in between, I guess,” Jungkook said, strolling up the path like it wasn’t steep and treacherous. He’d tied a bandana like a headband to hold his hair back. His sleeveless arms bulged when he pulled himself up through the trees, clunky boots finding every foothold. Namjoon’s own hiking boots were worn in enough not to leave blisters, but they felt like a layer of clay around his feet, too big and heavy.
Ahead, Jungkook disappeared from view again.
The path opened up every once and while, and the tall, white waterfall on the other side of the deep valley measured his progress by growing even with them, and then steadily sinking lower and lower below their level as they went up and up.
“How long till we reach the treeline?” Namjoon said. The scrub’s edge had seemed so close, but never got closer, and the grassy yellow of the upper slopes shone in the sun.
“Probably another hour,” Jungkook said, breathing easy and well rested from his perch in a tree beside the path.
“And how long to the top after that?”
“Probably another two hours.”
“I don’t know if I’ll make it,” Namjoon said, pulling out his water bottle.
“Yeah, drink that water. It’ll get your bag’s weight down.”
“Fuck. It’s not even noon.”
Jungkook smirked and started off again. Namjoon sighed and followed.
The orange-tan, sandy path itself wound up through the trees. The sun beamed through thin brush reaching just over their heads, through which they could sometimes see a snowy mountaintop and glacier across the open bowl of rock.
Jungkook’s ass looked great in those hiking pants. Weren’t hiking pants supposed to be formless and baggy? Talk about a view. Shame it kept walking off into the brush and disappearing.
“Can we take a bit longer of a break this time?” Namjoon asked. They’d climbed through a patchy section of trees along a ridge, thin enough to make Namjoon think they’d reach the tree-line at any minute, and then plunged back into dense bush.
“I’ve already been resting for five whole minutes.”
“Take another five then,” Namjoon said. “You’ve got better legs. I need to breathe.”
Jungkook sat on a rock and lay back against the path, letting it support him like a recliner. “It’s so sunny,” he said. Namjoon thumped down on the path and watched Jungkook rest. “You look good panting and sweaty,” Jungkook murmured.
“You look—oh shut up,” Namjoon laughed. He felt weirdly light. Maybe it was just from the altitude.
Jungkook pulled his shirt up over his abs and wiggled his eyebrows. Namjoon smacked them. He squeaked and rolled over in the dirt, right to the sheer edge of the narrow path.
“Please don’t fall,” Namjoon whined, putting an arm around his bare waist and rolling him back onto the path. His hand came away dusty.
“I’ll be fine,” Jungkook said, standing. He strode off along the path, leaving Namjoon alone in the woods again.
They finally emerged from the scruffy bush onto steep slopes of grass and heather above the tree-line. Their path, marked with orange flags, ran up to one corner of the field and tailed off higher and higher along the ridge. Jungkook stood at the top already, peering over the other side.
“Good view?” Namjoon asked, and then cleared the last few feet and felt the jarring, phantom feeling of tumbling hundreds of feet down the rocky cliff at his feet. He turned around and sat down carefully on the path.
“You sure you’re okay? You could head back down if you wanted. I’m not gonna bully you into it if you’re literally going to pass out on the side of a cliff. This is only gonna get worse.”
Namjoon shook his head. “No, I want to see more.”
The path wound over the sharp top of a ridge. Sheer rock face dropped down from the packed dirt, just a step or two away on either side. Clouds flowed over the icy peaks across the valley and melted in the valley, disappearing in the warm sun heating the mountainside below them.
Each step was a fight. Each boot on the next rock. Another boulder. Another little peak. Another dusty gasp into burning lungs. The drop on either side of him had his heart slamming into his ribcage and his hands shaking numbly. Each new peak felt like death and the path kept climbing.
They rested in a little saddle between two rocky ridges with a great view of the surrounding cliff-sides, clouds sliding between the peaks. “Wait till we go back down,” Jungkook said. “All knees for three hours.”
Namjoon shut his eyes in horror and let the warm sun sooth him for a few moments. “I feel like the mountain is swaying back and forth,” Namjoon whispered. “I have vertigo.”
Jungkook rubbed something cold and wet on his cheeks. He jumped.
“It’s sunscreen,” Jungkook said, giggling. Namjoon tilted his face towards him and held still as Jungkook got his nose and forehead, the tops of his ears, and then rubbed his thumbs reverently over his cheekbones and jaw. “How’d you get such nice skin?”
“Lots of effort,” Namjoon murmured, shivering as Jungkook rubbed gently down his neck.
“I put in lots of effort and my skin still looks like shit,” Jungkook grumbled and began to pull away.
Namjoon grabbed him around the waist and yanked him down onto the path. “Hold still,” he ordered, as Jungkook tried to sit up. Jungkook squeaked as Namjoon grabbed his sharp jaw, attacked those soft, small lips with his tongue. He trapped Jungkook down with a thigh over his hips and kissed him hard, pressing forward every time Jungkook tried to slow down till he panted and squirmed.
“Oh, shit,” someone said. Namjoon looked up to see a trio of hikers appearing over the last ledge. Namjoon and Jungkook scrambled for their composure and fell in some twenty meters behind as they passed, red and giggling.
Namjoon struggled up slopes behind Jungkook and looked around. The vast, open stillness of the landscape felt like a breath right down from heaven, the sky sleepy over their heads, the slopes old and empty. The mountain had sat there for millennia, each layer waiting for hikers, wind, and ice to wear them in a trickle down the mountainside. No music, voices, planes, traffic, just the hollow rush of air through the toothy gaps of earths whispering about the ancient pace of the world.
Namjoon let Jungkook gather a little distance till it was just him and the sound of the air, his own panting and the crunch and sweep of dirt on the path. Jungkook waited for him at each orange pole, the light wind brushing his hair from his forehead and flapping the flannel shirt tied around his waist. “You look like a baby lumberjack,” Namjoon said, cresting the ridge with his calves burning so badly they felt numb.
“So like a hipster?” Jungkook asked. “I think we’re nearly there.”
“I’m not going to be able to use my legs tomorrow,” Namjoon groaned. “Gonna get to my hotel and just lie there for two days.”
“Two days?” Jungkook asked. He noticed Namjoon trying to get the last drops out of the bottom of his water bottle and handed Namjoon his bigger, superior water bottle, still half-full.
“Yeah. Don’t your legs hurt?”
He shrugged. “A little, but it’s a good hurt. I’m only in Christchurch one afternoon, then bussing out the next morning so I can take the ferry across the morning after that.”
“I’ll meet you in Wellington then,” Namjoon said. Jungkook gave him a heavy pout. “I’m not buying you another round of tickets,” Namjoon said. “Sorry. You’ve paid for yours. Use them.”
“I know,” Jungkook grumbled. He climbed hands and knees up the next bit of path, and Namjoon followed, testing the rocks for looseness before he tugged himself up on his shaky legs.
At the end of the path, they stopped on a high platform of rock with swooping valleys and ridges marching away under the clouds. “Wow,” Namjoon breathed, and even that seemed like too much. He sat down, not caring about water or food, just letting the scale leave him in awe.
“It’s not called avalanche peak for nothing, Jungkook. Please don’t scream.”
“AHHH I FEEL ALIVE.”
Namjoon laughed and lay back on the warm rock. “I feel a lot closer to death, actually.”
“What you feel,” Jungkook said, getting down on his hands and knees over Namjoon’s face, “is your body actually working. Bet you’re not used to that. Your body can carry you through a hell of a lot more than you think it can. You just have to give it the opportunity every once and a while. Does it hurt?”
“It hurts,” Namjoon giggled, legs aching tiredly. “My lungs burn.”
“And you got all the way up here.”
“Yeah. That may be physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“Are you proud of yourself?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon said, realizing how utterly, blissfully content he was. “Here we are. We did it. I’m amazing.”
“Congratulations, Namjoon. For your first mountain, that was one hell of a climb, and you didn’t even complain much. I’m impressed. Going down will be easier, but it’ll hurt more.”
“I brought sandwiches.”
Namjoon sat up fast.
All the way down the mountain, as his knees creaked like unoiled metal joints and his thighs burned like overworked rubber, Namjoon grinned at Jungkook’s back.
Jungkook took one look at Namjoon’s half-cut carrot and relegated him to noodle-boiling duty: watching the water till it boiled, throwing the noodles in, and then occasionally stirring. Namjoon stood against the cabinet and stared at the pot.
Jungkook had changed again, athletic pants and a clingy, white t-shirt that settled in his narrow waist when he moved and clung to the soft curves of his chest. “Namjoon, the water is boiling.”
“I wasn’t watching,” he murmured, still not looking.
Jungkook sighed and poured all the noodles and carrots into their pots himself, then grabbed the jar of sauce and a bowl. His soft shirt slid over his thick arms and bunched up above his butt. He still had a streak of tan dirt on the back of his neck where he scratched when he felt nervous. “I guess you could warm the sauce up in the microwave if you really want to hel—”
Namjoon pinned him to the counter. The back of his neck tasted like sweat and dirt, tangy and real, his waist hard and thick against Namjoon’s hands. He pressed against Namjoon’s chest, head tipped to the side, and Namjoon sucked the taste of the hike off his jaw. This kid, who walked up the side of a mountain as if nothing in the world was too big for him, braced against the counter like he would fall to Namjoon’s arms. The sauce jar clattered away. His ass rubbed back against Namjoon’s hips and he gasped, high, sharp, and musical in the quiet kitchen.
The back door opened, and a new set of guests walked in, also dressed in hiking clothes. They found Namjoon pouring sauce in a bowl with shaky hands and Jungkook leaning silently over the counter next to the stove, flaming red.
More Germans. They attempted light conversation in stilted English, and then kicked Namjoon and Jungkook thoroughly out of the kitchen by doing all their dishes for them, which seemed bizarrely rude. Jungkook sat close on the couch, pensively eating carrots and pasta as he leaned his weight a little against Namjoon’s side. The Germans gave them some subtly raised eyebrows and ate dinner loudly at the dining room table.
“I’m gonna shower,” Jungkook murmured.
“Can I go first?”
“Not together?” Jungkook asked quietly. “That’s a big shower.”
“And slippery,” Namjoon said. “My knees hurt too much and I don’t like shower sex.”
Jungkook barked a laugh and unconsciously covered his face with one hand. His cheeks turned pink fascinatingly quickly.
Namjoon stood in the wide shower, shampoo washing out of his short hair. He bounced gently on his sore knees. Sex with Jungkook. Namjoon hadn’t had sex since two months before Seokjin ended things. His thighs ached, his body felt slow and worn stiff, a bruise throbbed on his calf. His toes felt squeezed to death. He’d somehow badly bruised his forearm. There were other people in the house and Jungkook didn’t seem like the quiet type.
As Jungkook showered, Namjoon lay on the bed and judged how well he could hear the Germans through the walls on the other side of the hallway. There was barely the suggestion of low murmuring at normal volume, and even loud laughter sounded muted. Seokjin’s old apartment had papery walls. They’d gagged Seokjin more than once just as a reminder, even when neither of them got anything out of it.
Maybe he shouldn’t. Would Jungkook go back to school and brag about the man he seduced in New Zealand? Was Namjoon the only one? Would they see each other again? Should he really be waiting on the bed in just sweats with the bed warmers on and his emergency condoms in his pocket?
And then Jungkook walked back into the room with damp hair and a towel over his shoulder. They stared at each other, stone-cold sober, with the We’re About To Have Sex looks on their faces.
Jungkook shuffled around, putting his clothes away.
“Jeez, you’re neat,” Namjoon said.
“Yeah, I…yeah.” He tossed a bottle onto the bed that Namjoon didn’t even have to glance at to know what it was.
“Do you carry that with you everywhere?” he asked.
Jungkook looked a little ashamed. “I just…threw it in my travel bag.” He crawled onto the bed, damp, warm, and blushing. He tucked himself up against Namjoon’s front and bumped their foreheads together. “You don’t have my number yet,” he said, and pulled Namjoon’s phone out of his pocket. The condoms fell out with it and Jungkook smirked. “Password? Who’s your background?”
“Is he an actor or something? Is that the Vogue Magazine logo? You have a model as the background of your phone?”
Jungkook opened the phone and started entering his own number.
“Yeah, Seokjin’s a model,” Namjoon said. “He’s my ex.”
Jungkook blinked and stopped typing. “Your ex is a model?”
“Yeah? You’re as hot as he is.”
Jungkook locked the phone so he could look at the picture again. “Don’t lie,” he muttered, and dropped Namjoon’s phone.
“You are,” Namjoon insisted.
Jungkook rolled onto his back. “How long ago did you break up with him?”
“Stop worrying about it,” Namjoon said, chasing him over the bed and lying on top of him. Jungkook scowled and didn’t meet his eyes. “It was over a year ago. We’re still friends. You think just because I dated one model that I only like models? I don’t like people just for being pretty, you know.”
Jungkook mumbled and put his hands over his face.
“Get your face back out here and finish giving me your number.”
Jungkook sighed and took the phone from him. Namjoon shucked up his shirt and kissed every one of Jungkook’s abs. “You’re making this hard,” Jungkook said.
“I’m sensitive,” he whined.
Namjoon ran his thumb lightly along Jungkook’s side, who sucked in a breath and squirmed. “Oh, wonderful,” Namjoon murmured.
Jungkook dropped Namjoon’s phone onto the sheets and grabbed Namjoon by the hair, tugging him right up to his face. “C’mon, Joon. You keep making me wait.”
So Namjoon kissed his throat, and Jungkook leaned into it, head pressing back, hands tight in Namjoon’s damp hair. Namjoon kissed his bared chest as Jungkook struggled to get the shirt off his arms. Jungkook’s warm skin tingled under his lips, his heart pounding in his ribcage.
The smell of the hike hadn’t lingered on him, but bright red spots sat on the bones of his feet where the boots had rubbed them down. His legs trembled with exhaustion as he held them around Namjoon’s waist. Namjoon’s own legs burned just from sitting on them. Jungkook panted and shook with his arms over his eyes and the cutest, smallest pout on his lips. As Namjoon began to pull down his waistband, he squirmed.
On the other side of the wall, voices murmured lowly. Jungkook glanced back at it. “Just fuck me.”
A trembling lower lip. Namjoon’s guts twisted.
Namjoon shook his head and tugged the waistband down to reveal Jungkook’s semi, his hairless skin, still flushed from the heat of the shower. “You wax, don’t you?” Namjoon said, running a thumb gently along the bare skin of his balls, fingers so light on his sensitive skin, on the impossible softness of his hardening cock.
“Uh-mm—augh…yeah. Don’t grow…much hair anyway-ugh. Ah.” His half-lidded eyes focused on Namjoon, hands over his head. “Don’t like it. So I…o-ohh…uh…get rid of…it. Namj-joon…”
Namjoon sucked the soft, warm head between his lips, and he trembled, sending soft sighs and moans into the room. “Are you still…gonna fuck me?” Jungkook asked a few minutes in, already arching and twitching.
“Don’t think so,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook groaned and turned away. “Just because I keep asking about Seokjin?”
“Why do you care about Seokjin? Is this sex casual? You’re not acting like it.”
“Is this sex…casual?” Jungkook echoed, voice rough. “Yeah—I…yeah it is.”
The lube sat within reach. Namjoon pulled Jungkook’s pants further down and spread one of his soft cheeks. Jungkook rushed to pull his legs apart. He’d thrown one arm over his expressive face, and Namjoon could see nothing but the heaving of his lungs when he pushed in and began to feel around for his prostate.
Jungkook came just a few minutes later, gasps heavy in his lungs, and Namjoon cleaned him with a spare wet-wipe and dressed him as he blinked sleepily, shuddering when Namjoon’s fingers brushed his skin.
“You?” Jungkook whined.
“I’m fine,” he said. Jungkook huffed and stared down at his hands. “Kook?”
“Too fucking nice, Namjoon.”
They went to sleep on their own sides of the bed, but Namjoon woke with Jungkook cuddling his arm like a teddy bear, curled up against Namjoon’s side with his lips on his skin, and felt the confusion and anxiety of regret alongside his heavy, warm affection.
The entire bus ride to Christchurch, Jungkook dove desperately into conversation whenever Namjoon offered it to him, smiling at every half-joke Namjoon made. When they weren’t talking, he kept one earphone in and stared listlessly out the window.
They parted ways at the bus stop, Jungkook to a hostel, Namjoon to a gorgeous bed and breakfast right downtown. Christchurch was short and halfway through a total rebuild, whole chunks of neighborhoods recently off the sides of cliffs, submerged underwater. A cathedral had practically cracked in half. But all the new buildings looked gorgeous, carefully crafted with input from the community, tragedy respected and then made something of. How hard it must be. He wondered what Jungkook was doing.
“Why am I too nice?” Namjoon asked at dinner. Jungkook had pulled out his best clothes, hoody finally replaced with a deep green sweater. He wore ripped up, mud-stained jeans though. Can’t ask too much of a travelling college student. He’d styled his hair up. For the first time in days, Namjoon remembered the lost kid at the bus stop in Franz Josef.
“You keep inviting me everywhere and paying for shit, but then act like you’d be happier alone, and that’s worse than having to handle things on my own. So sorry, if I’m ruining your vacation, but it’s kinda your fault too.” His voice softened and faded towards the bold end, crackling uncertainly.
“Sorry,” Jungkook said again. He picked at his tasteless, expensive salmon. Some things never taste good so far from home, no matter how high the cost and care of transporting it. Jungkook had shrugged and said it was the most low-calorie thing on the menu. “Am I still going to see you in Wellington?”
He had a few loose bangs falling carelessly out of his up-do, probably easily brushed back into place. How would he look in a well-lit, clean, soft hotel bed instead of a dingy hostel room?
“Do you have a room once you get to Wellington?” Jungkook asked.
“Were you going to offer to let me sleep in your dorm?” Namjoon snorted.
Jungkook blushed, still picking at his salmon. “I have to start re-paying you at some point, even if you don’t want me to. I feel like a parasite.”
“Parasites don’t look as cute as you do,” Namjoon said.
A smile flashed onto Jungkook’s face and then disappeared into distress. “See? That. I don’t know what to do with you leading me on and sucking my dick and acting like you don’t want to fuck me into next week when you clearly do!”
“Shh!” Namjoon said, glancing at the sparse sprinkling of middle-aged couples around them. Jungkook flushed deep red and went back to eating salmon with his shoulders hunched.
“Kook,” Namjoon whined, leaning forward on the table. Jungkook looked up under his bangs with his big, round eyes. Namjoon’s heart lurched. “Oh shit. Don’t give me that,” he said. Jungkook’s lips scrunched slowly into a heart-melting pout.
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon whimpered, putting his face in his hands. “I have hang-ups.”
“This isn’t about Seokjin, is it?”
“Stop bringing up Seokjin!”
“Sorry,” Jungkook yelped. They ate slowly under the little outdoor heaters, buzzing gently. “Can we meet up in California this summer?” Jungkook said, and maybe the southern hemisphere’s deceptive March autumn was messing with Namjoon, but “summer” seemed painfully far away.
“Maybe,” Namjoon said. His career hovered at the edge of his thoughts, his impossible hours, his nosey, disrespectful coworkers. Jungkook tried to school his face into indifference, but he couldn’t keep away one small squish of his eyebrows, a hard, downward pull to his lips.
“I’m sorry,” Namjoon said softly.
“’S fine,” Jungkook said gruffly. “You’ve given me a lot. I’m not going to ask for more, so…don’t worry about it.”
Jungkook spent the rest of the meal dismissive of conversation, staring at the restaurant around them, at the people passing on the sidewalk across the street. Namjoon watched his chest rise and fall in slow, measured breaths.
“I’ll see you in Wellington,” Namjoon said at the end of the meal, finally managing to hold Jungkook’s gaze long enough to give him a warm smile. Jungkook’s sweet smile finally flashed across his face.
“Okay. Just text me. I’m not doing anything for a few days.”
Namjoon lay awake that night in his soft, big, empty hotel bed, shirtless and pants-less and wishing he were crammed in a tiny hostel bed with uncomfortable pajamas, no blood in his right arm, and a strong, warm body pressed against his.
Christchurch really was beautiful, a little misty, leaves turning red, sky open. He took a car out to the sea and saw water in a light teal he’d only ever seen in paintings, lit up with sunlight. The wind whipped the smell of grass off the nearby hills. Sand ground between his toes and under his heels when he burrowed his feet down and wiggled them. He felt a little like an old post, a worn-out sentinel planted in the sand at the edge of the water, still, lonely, and useful only in small ways every once in a while, a barely-noticed feature in a more beautiful landscape.
He snorted and pulled his feet out of the sand. It had been a while since he caught himself thinking like that. Where was Jungkook when he needed him? Probably alone on that eight-hour bus ride to a tiny, run-down hostel in Picton. Ridiculous. Namjoon needed a distraction.
He picked out a nice, long book from the new arrivals stand in the bookstore, something about a rich man in real estate in New York and his dysfunctional family, and finished it before the plane took off the next day.
“Sorry I’m late,” Jungkook said, scurrying up to Namjoon’s table in clothes he’d never seen before, more brands and varying shades of edgy gray. “Just finished unpacking.” He returned Namjoon’s lighthearted grin, and hummed softly when Namjoon rose out of his seat for a hug as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. The city population milled around them, more Namjoon’s style than tourists and vacationers, lots more quick pedestrians and long coats, more places to stop, sit down, and drink coffee while warm and engrossed in a good book.
“So, what is there to do here?” Namjoon said.
“Walk,” Jungkook giggled. “That’s about it. There’s not much else to see and it’s too expensive to shop. Be glad you caught nice weather. That’s really rare. There’s a saying, about…like… ’Wellington has good days, but you’re never going to catch one,’ something like that, but like, probably better. I don’t remember it,” he said, scratching the back of his neck and muttering. He could speak so impressively softly when he got embarrassed. Namjoon ran a hand along his lower back under his jacket and pushed him gently into a walk down the street.
They’d met close to Namjoon’s hotel. He’d already seen the waterfront, and he’d sat down in a café to wait, but every corner they passed revealed a newer, prettier one. Jungkook seemed to know them all. “City hiking is more my thing,” Namjoon said.
“I have a terrible sense of direction,” Jungkook said. “I need a map or a trail. I thought that chocolate shop we just passed was on the other side of the city.”
“Finally, something I’m better at,” Namjoon said.
Wellington felt a lot like New York City cut off at the knees, café’s, restaurants, and bars flooding every open space at the lowest level, local coffee shops next to international designer brands, a honey store on a diagonal corner.
Jungkook stalled halfway down yet another miniaturized city street and looked behind them, then forwards again, and then up at the street sign. “I wanted to head towards Cuba Street,” he murmured. “I think we’ve been going the exact opposite direction.”
The street was nearly empty. Jungkook pouted at the road sign, little lip sticking out and a hard look in his eye. Namjoon wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s waist, easy as anything, and pulled him in close. Jungkook leaned away enough to continue looking back and forth down the street, then up at the buildings around them. “This can’t be the right way. I thought we were heading away from the train station. Let me check the…” He pulled his phone out of his pocket, holding it out of the way as Namjoon reeled him in slowly, nosing gently at his face. Jungkook huffed indignantly and struggled.
Jungkook slowly looked up from his phone, eyes wide enough to just fall out of his head. “Kiss…now?” he asked, red beginning to flush his cheeks. He hands slid awkwardly onto his shoulders and around his neck. Namjoon’s heart burned with surprising warmth. He gave Namjoon’s lips a soft, hesitant peck.
“Missed you,” Namjoon said. “Got way too miserably introspective without you around.”
A smile grew on Jungkook’s oddly puffy cheeks. “Missed me?” he said softly. “We were only apart a day.” The awkwardness of their last meal in Christchurch, of their last night in bed together, sat like a wedge between them, but Jungkook giggled and buried his head in Namjoon’s shoulder.
Had Namjoon felt this giddy with happiness the week before? This peaceful in Jungkook’s presence? It felt so familiar, so relieving that he could float.
Jungkook pulled his head up. “Don’t jerk me around, hyung,” He grumbled. “You want me, right? You act like you do. Why won’t you fuck me?”
Namjoon, brain choked up at the wrong moment, bumped their foreheads together instead. Jungkook sighed and hooked his chin over Namjoon’s shoulder. “Oh shit, there’s a woman in this shop watching us. Let’s keep walking.”
They walked on, side by side, Namjoon watching Jungkook and Jungkook watching his phone. Their hands bumped together, palms sometimes sliding against each other and fingers tangled lightly when they stood at crosswalks. Sometimes Namjoon let his arm drift out and nudge Jungkook’s, and Jungkook’s fingers ghosted along his forearm up to his elbow. He smiled a little every time.
“Turn left here,” Jungkook murmured. “We have a lot more walking to do. Sorry.”
“My legs are still sore from the hike, you know.”
“Still?” Jungkook laughed, looking up. “I was never sore at all.”
“Not all of us are perfect,” Namjoon grumbled.
Jungkook smiled shyly at his boots and it occurred to Namjoon that this is what it felt like to be comfortable with someone. He’d forgotten.
Jungkook led him from street to street, pointing out shops and walking them into little parks. Cuba Street turned out to be a long, low pedestrian destination with tons of shops and art galleries. “Thought we could eat here and then go home,” Jungkook said. “It’s getting dark.”
Maybe sleeping in a hotel bed and recharging for a day had been all Namjoon needed. Conversation flowed easily between Jungkook’s hilarious frat stories and Namjoon’s wild music industry stories. At each lull, Jungkook would jump in with another question, start another story, and keep Namjoon talking.
“You’re smiling a lot more now,” he commented. “Are you okay? You’re not high?”
“What changed?” Jungkook said, leaning forward over his plate. “Like…it’s different. Good different, but I kinda expected today to be awkward and painful. It still could be, I guess.”
“Awkward and painful?” Namjoon yelped.
“It kinda hurts when you act like you don’t want me,” Jungkook said. “This is better, but I’m getting anxious.”
“Not wanting to fuck you is not the same thing as not wanting you around,” Namjoon said. “Maybe I’m waiting for you to realize that.”
Jungkook shook his head. “You like me. I get it. I like you too and I’ve been horny as fuck for days. You’re really making this too difficult.” Jungkook reached down, hands clumsy with nerves again, and nudged his way under Namjoon’s fingers. “I’d be totally on board with waiting till we’re sure we’ve worked shit out, but you’re leaving Wellington in a few days and we don’t have much more opportunities. Stop overthinking. Are you always this…like…emotionally constipated?”
Namjoon sighed. Jungkook’s eyes sparkled uncannily in the dim light, even with his frustration. “Yeah, I am.”
Jungkook snorted and pulled Namjoon’s lips to his mouth. “You’re such a pain. Why do I have to like you so much?”
“Because I’m hot?” Namjoon guessed, going with a very Jungkook answer.
“Shut up,” Jungkook snorted. He nuzzled his cheek against Namjoon’s fingers, eyes closed. “If I asked you to fuck me now, would you do it? Without backing out?”
“Is that all you want me for?” Namjoon said with a smirk.
“I told you that I approached you because you’re, like, super attractive in an ‘I can keep you warm and safe at night,’ kinda way. I’ve been thinking about you fucking me since I knew we were gonna share a bed the first night.” His eyes were so dark, so huge, so carelessly calm with such tantalizing words slipping out of his mouth. “I’ve, um, changed my priorities, because you’re, like, the best man I’ve ever met, but I still just…really want you to fuck me, so…” he bit his lip, cheeks bright red, eyes glued to Namjoon’s fingers. “Wanna go back to my place?”
Seokjin had been terrible at sincerity, almost as bad as Namjoon, so even something as small as a ‘you’re a good guy,’ or ‘I like you,’ always had Namjoon a little tongue tied, and Jungkook, at every turn, spilled his heart onto the pavement for Namjoon to trod on if he wanted, and Namjoon had always been clumsy. He gripped Jungkook’s fingers, a little buzz of anxiety humming in his throat. He took a deep breath and stepped carefully. “Kinda. Sure.”
Jungkook dropped his hand. “Try being a little romantic sometimes,” he snorted. “You’re so awkward.”
Namjoon had to laugh. Where Namjoon worried, Jungkook just shrugged. They didn’t have much time. Why shouldn’t it be this easy? Why invite the regret?
Jungkook looked just as natural under city lights as he did on a mountaintop, striding right onto crosswalks right before the walk signal turned, string lights from a night market glittering off his eyes and hair. The crowd seemed to bend around him and Namjoon caught his arm to keep up.
“Why are we going to your dorm and not my hotel?” Namjoon asked. “Wouldn’t the hotel be better?”
“Student dorms are more forgiving of sex noises. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
“I’m not sure that’s true,” Namjoon said.
“It’s true in mine. Literally no one cares.”
“I might,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook stopped him against the wall of a bank and kissed him hard on the mouth, thumbs on Namjoon’s cheeks and fingers in his hair. Namjoon’s blood flared hot, pinned by Jungkook’s body right there on the street. “There’s my man,” Namjoon whispered. Jungkook burrowed his hands in Namjoon’s hair and pulled.
“You just get better and better,” he whined. “Stop it.”
Namjoon moaned deep in his throat and bucked his hips forward.
“Okay,” Jungkook said, lacing their fingers together and pulling. “Okay. Fuck it. Let’s call an Uber or this walk is gonna take another half hour.”
Namjoon walked into the international-student dorm an alien. Jungkook let go of Namjoon and shoved his hands in his pockets, stride cockier. He had friends by the pool table, a ripped, pretty thing with orange hair and some kid with baggy clothes and hair hanging in his face.
The pretty one whistled. “Where’d you pick that up?”
“Franz Josef,” Jungkook said, and gave him a quick, casual high-five at the level of a handshake.
“Oh fuck!” the stranger said, eyes squeezing shut in a disbelieving grin. “I thought he’d be old!” Namjoon felt a mortifying heat rise to his cheeks. Jungkook smirked back at him.
“You don’t treat everyone you bring home like this, do you?” Namjoon said coolly.
His smile sank right off his face. “S-sorry.”
“He’s whipped!” the guy in baggy clothing stage-whispered across the room.
“Tae, shut the fuck up,” Jungkook said quietly. Namjoon gave him a reassuring back rub and nudged him forward again. His two friends hooted in the background.
Namjoon brushed a hand over the back of Jungkook’s neck. “You’re fine. I get it.”
Jungkook’s tense shoulders settled with a deep breath, squaring with admirable self-control. His flawlessly neat, tiny room had mood lighting, surely intentional, string lights around the edge and a little lamp on the desk. As Jungkook swung his jacket off and hung it over his desk chair, Namjoon became abruptly relieved that they’d decided to do this here and not at the hotel. It felt much more personal than all those hostel rooms that thousands of people had slept in before. This was Jungkook’s space. He had a line of shoes by the closet where his boots fit like a puzzle piece. Photos of his family and friends hung clipped to twine above the bed.
“We’re doing this?” Jungkook said, less sure than he’d been in the Uber. “Finally?”
“I think my head is out of my ass now,” Namjoon said.
“Not gonna be too nice?” Jungkook said, shuffling with the bottom edge of his sweater. “Gonna…get what you came for…instead of…fuck.” He’d forgotten his beanie when he peeled his sweater off and now had to extract it from within the sweater. “Instead of chickening out?”
Namjoon peeled Jungkook’s t-shirt up out of his belt and ran both hands up his abs. Jungkook shuddered hard, wincing like he wanted to be ticklish. He squeaked, rocked into it, and squirmed, hat and sweater still in hand. “You’re a fuckin dream, Jungkook,” Namjoon said. Jungkook moaned into his shoulder, so he shoved his hands down the back of Jungkook’s pants. Jungkook sighed and sagged his weight against Namjoon’s chest.
“Get naked, big guy,” he cooed.
Jungkook rolled on the bed, abs up one minute, ass up the next, a smirk over his flawless teeth as Namjoon gaped, completely unaware, yet again, of where his hands were.
Namjoon’s brain kept catching and stalling on details, reeling with Jungkook’s thick thighs flexed into long columns of muscle, when he spread his knees and wiggled his pert little ass in the air. Reality slipped out of alignment, constantly clicking in and out of absolute disbelief that a man this perfect found Namjoon off the edge of the map, broke himself open, and let Namjoon in as close as he could get.
Jungkook’s cock had fit so perfectly in Namjoon’s mouth the first time, so he swallowed him down again and gulped while Jungkook squirmed. He stretched Jungkook’s thick thighs apart to pet his hole with one lubed up finger.
“You just want to lie there while I do all the work, don’t you?” Namjoon said breathlessly when he pushed two fingers in. Jungkook shook his head, trembling with a finger in his ass and Namjoon’s breath, hot and unfulfilling, on his dick. Had sex ever felt this easy?
“Nips,” Jungkook gasped, so Namjoon crawled up his wax-carved, Photoshop perfect body and sucked on one till it was red like candy. Jungkook whimpered with his beautiful, melodic voice, pressing close to Namjoon’s ear and keening.
When Jungkook decided he was ready, he flipped them and sheathed Namjoon’s dick with a quick slide and gasp. Students passed by outside and Namjoon shoved his fingers deep in Jungkook’s mouth to pull him in, watch those lips work around his knuckles. Jungkook’s thighs rippled and locked as he rode, abs stiff. He’d never looked so small, so compact and delicate, shaking as he choked moans down around Namjoon’s wet fingers. Namjoon couldn’t breathe, dick caught in squeezing, sliding heat with Jungkook’s strong arms pinning him to the bed.
“Kook, you’re shaking,” Namjoon murmured.
“Hrrnm,” Jungkook groaned loudly. Namjoon flinched, imagining his voice rattling through the thin walls.
“Shh,” Namjoon said. “Be good for me.”
“Nam—”One of Jungkook’s elbow gave. He lost control of his coordination and thumped onto Namjoon’s chest, sliding off his dick.
“Rest a minute, babe,” Namjoon murmured. He climbed out from under him and coaxing his ass into the air to thrust back in. Jungkook rolled under him, gazing back through his eyelashes. He knew just how to arch and give himself a rounder ass, a thinner waist. Muscles rippled across his shoulders like a medical sketch.
“Hyung,” Jungkook purred into the cool air. “You’ve got pretty good stroke game for someone who has trouble getting through doorways.”
Namjoon snapped his hips in hard. “You’re a little shit.” He collapsed down, pinning Jungkook and forcing all the flexibility in his back. He snapped a palm against Jungkook’s round ass and watched it jiggle.
“Love how you handle me,” Jungkook breathed. “Please come see me in California. Please, oh god, Namjoon, I’m going to miss you so much.”
That hit like a bucket of cold water. Namjoon rolled him over awkwardly, legs too long and thick to move smoothly around Namjoon’s, and kissed him deep and desperately. Their dicks brushed together, and Namjoon couldn’t imagine the sensitivity that made Jungkook shudder so, what he must feel. “I’ll be there,” Namjoon said. “We’re not too far from each other. I promise I’ll come see you.”
Jungkook forced his way up with pure strength, kissing with his ass tight to Namjoon’s lap, barely able to do anything but lick and gasp. “Back, back,” he murmured, forcing Namjoon to fall back, head nearly off the bed with Jungkook kneeling over his lap. “Hold still and touch me.” He slid over Namjoon’s dick again. Namjoon’s hands ran from his slim, narrow waist to the firm build over his chest, and then back to the hypnotizing curve of his ass. Right at the tops of his thighs, the hard, flexing muscle gave to just a little bit of softness. Namjoon gripped it, jostling Jungkook forward on his dick. Jungkook hiccupped unsteadily and whined.
“So pretty,” Namjoon murmured, hoping that was sweat and not tears blurring his vision.
“Touch me,” Jungkook breathed desperately. “Please. Don’t stop.”
“This?” Namjoon said, fisting loosely around Jungkook’s cock. Jungkook jolted and popped off Namjoon’s dick with a squelch.
“Nam—fuck!” Jungkook fell on him with a wet, desperate kiss.
“Gentle,” Namjoon reminded him, when he could get his mouth free of Jungkook’s tongue. The bed let out one soft, defeated creak as Jungkook shifted back upright and tried to slow down.
“This right here?” Namjoon said, thrusting against a spot that made Jungkook jolt and squirm. He slipped a tight fist over Jungkook’s cock and jerked him hard and fast. Jungkook’s mouth fell open, head thrown back. With a couple seconds of adorably trembling thighs and sobbed breaths, Jungkook tightened up and squirted white in little bursts up Namjoon’s torso.
Jungkook lay, shaky and panting on the warm mattress as Namjoon pumped himself with Jungkook’s hand and came messily into the slippery condom. As he closed his eyes and breathed, Jungkook’s trembling hand rubbed down his jaw. His forehead thumped softly against Namjoon’s temple, breath hot in his ear.
“You mean it?” he breathed. “You’ll come see me?”
A year ago, Seokjin had left him for a dream. Namjoon’s love and devotion, his everything, gone because Namjoon couldn’t give him what he wanted. He’d imagined himself an empty future, maybe out of respect for what he’d thought he had, maybe out of a lack of imagination, incapable of believing he could devote himself again. He could easily imagine a future where Jungkook didn’t work out either, where it burned him again, where this flighty, insecure college kid might find a different man better at giving compliments and with more emotional fire to offer.
But more than a gratifier, Jungkook wanted comfort, and more than Seokjin, Namjoon wanted joy. If anything in his life had ever been worth a shot, it was this.
“Yeah,” he said, the lump in his throat holding all the words that Jungkook would have to feel instead of hear. “Nothing could keep me away.”
Namjoon woke Jungkook up for the third morning in a row, shaking him out of sleep in the hotel sheets. He squinted and stretched, body bare and a little sweaty, hair a mess. They’d given up the dorm room for a comfier bed, better lighting, and a luxury bathroom.
“…Joon? Wanna…” He rolled sluggishly over and rolled his hips in one long, slow motion against the bed. He loved being fucked awake, had demanded it with bleary, half-syllables every morning since the night in his dorm, and Namjoon loved to see his unrestrained reactions as he gave it to him soft and slow.
“Go shower,” he said with a playful spank. Jungkook jolted. “We have to leave in forty-five minutes.”
Jungkook would be cutting two days of his first week back to school to join Namjoon for the rest of his vacation. They’d planned another long hike, a trip to Hobbiton, and a week of looking at scenery not half as beautiful as Jungkook was. Five more days and then a two month wait until Jungkook came back home. Namjoon hadn’t started to worry quite yet.
Their few days in Wellington had passed with increasing comfort, getting over lingering insecurities the first day on a tour of art galleries with Jungkook’s surprisingly pleasant friends, as giggly and nasty as any young couple could be. Namjoon felt lighter than he’d been since high school. He spent most of his time with Jungkook’s waist in his arms, Jungkook’s body pressed against his chest like he wanted a permanent imprint.
Jungkook still wasn’t fully awake as the bus pulled up and the driver began loading passengers. Jungkook’s coffee sagged in his grip until Namjoon took it for safe keeping.
“Perk up,” he murmured.
“Am I going to have to deal with this for five whole days again?” Namjoon sighed.
“’M fine,” Jungkook grunted. His head flopped onto Namjoon’s shoulder.
He perked up when they got seats on the second level of the bus. Namjoon let him take the window, and he settled in with a toothy smile, sunglasses covering half his face. “Time to take the other half of the country by storm,” Jungkook said. “We’re booked in hostels all the way up, right?”
“I went for hotels most places actually,” Namjoon said.
Jungkook whipped his headphones out of his ears. “I can’t pay for those.”
“They were free,” Namjoon said, smirking. “All of them. Don’t worry about it.”
Namjoon slid his fingers through Jungkook’s knobby knuckles with a grin. “Let me take care of you, babe.” Time to do it all again, and if it fell apart, that was a problem for later.