Jimin was fast asleep on the sofa.
Yoongi closed the door behind him, slipping his keys into his pocket. He was quiet, or thought he was, but Jimin had always been a light sleeper. He stirred, a little huffy breath coming from his lips as he lifted his head. He cracked one eye open, and mumbled, “--Hyung, you’re back.”
Jimin’s voice was thick with drowsiness. He sounded unguarded in that easy, sweet way of his, the kind of vulnerability that had disarmed all of Yoongi’s defenses within minutes of their first meeting. Years had passed since then, but Yoongi still felt it tugging at his chest.
He walked over to the arm of the sofa and leaned over it. Jimin looked up, craning his neck, opening both eyes to stare at Yoongi’s bent head. A drop of water fell neatly from Yoongi’s stringy bangs onto the tip of Jimin’s nose, making him wrinkle it like an offended puppy.
“You hair’s all wet.”
“It’s raining,” Yoongi told him, getting his fill of the sight of Jimin waking up. It was always fascinating to watch him rub the sleep from his eyes before he stretched his body perfectly into a straight line from fingertip to wiggling toes. “I didn’t have my umbrella.”
“You’ll get sick!”
“I’m fine,” he said, flicking Jimin’s forehead. Not too hard, he didn’t want it to hurt or to leave a mark. He picked up the blanket that lay on the floor, discarded during Jimin’s nap, and tossed it over the little brat’s head. “Go home if you’re sleepy.”
Jimin wriggled under it for a second, reminding Yoongi again of a puppy. He freed himself by flinging the blanket to his feet and pouted. “Tell me about your date.”
Toeing off his shoes, Yoongi tossed his wet coat and bag onto the floor next to Holly’s dry food bag. He bent down, unrolled the top of said bag, and peered inside. It was nearly empty. He’d have to remember to buy more tomorrow. Maybe if Jimin didn’t have an early shift he’d tag along and Yoongi could make him carry it home.
“Stop pretending you didn’t hear me and tell me how it went,” said Jimin again, loudly. “I waited all night!”
“And did you eat all my food while you waited?”
Jimin wrinkled his nose, said accusingly, “There wasn’t anything in the fridge that didn’t have mold on it. I threw it all out.”
“Oi. I’m going to starve.”
“Please. There’s kimbap in the kitchen. You’re welcome.” Jimin rolled into a sitting position, crossed his legs, and draped the blanket over himself in one smooth motion. Yoongi marvelled at it like always, admiring the fluidity Jimin so effortlessly put into every movement. “Now spill. How was your date with Kim Namjoon?”
“It was OK.”
“OK,” Jimin repeated. He stared out from beneath his blanket tent, a dismayed blob of a human/puppy/matchmaker extraordinaire. “Again?”
“We just didn’t click.”
“But you have so much in common! He’s into rap and writing songs, plus he’s tall and has long legs and dimples!”
“Yeah,” said Yoongi, remembering the exact conversation in which he’d been forced - literally - to name all the things he wished for in an ideal romantic partner. He’d said some things that were… well, not exactly untruthful.
He didn’t mind tall people, he just liked someone who was closer to his own height. Long legs were fine, but Kim Namjoon wasn’t the graceful kind of long-legged, the kind that came with ballerinas or people who had spent years studying contemporary dance at one of the finest art schools in the country. And yeah, the dimples were cute, but he could take them or leave them - his preference lay more in the realms of crinkly eye-smiles and chubby cheeks.
Jimin asked, “So no second date?”
Yoongi shrugged and turned away, heading to his bedroom in his soggy socks. He could feel Jimin’s gaze locked onto his back. Sometimes he had to wonder what it was Jimin saw in him. Maybe it was pity, and nothing more. He breathed slowly, trying to empty the hollow feeling in his chest as he changed out of his wet clothes. Holly was sleeping in his bed, dreaming dog dreams, blissfully unaware of Yoongi’s emotional turmoil.
Yoongi made a beeline for the kitchen when he emerged, avoiding Jimin’s curious look. A foil lump sat on the counter. Yoongi unwrapped it. Jimin had brought kimbap from Yoongi’s favourite restaurant, the sort of thoughtful gesture that was typical of him - but Yoongi wasn’t hungry anymore.
He felt Jimin’s chin come to rest on his shoulder, close to the crook of his neck. He moved so quietly. It had startled Yoongi in the beginning, when Jimin would seemingly appear out of nowhere - but now he was used to it. He was even used to the touchy-feely back-hugging. He knew not to expect it to mean anything. Jimin was just a cuddler. A small hand reached around him, plucking a piece off the end of the first roll. Jimin popped it into his mouth and chewed.
“Why didn’t you put it in the fridge?” he asked.
“Cuz it would get cold and hard,” Jimin answered, picking up another piece. He held it to Yoongi’s mouth, forcing him part his lips and accept the offering. Jimin liked to feed people. “You hate that, hyung.”
He waited one, two, three heartbeats before pushing away from the counter. Jimin backed up, shifting to let Yoongi pass, foil bundle and all. He didn’t look at Jimin, just asked, “You gonna stay for a movie?”
Jimin plopped down onto the sofa next to Yoongi. “What movie are we watching?”
Yoongi turned on the tv, waited to see what was on the movie channel. “Titanic,” he said, grimacing a little. Whatever. It was background noise, a distraction, like the rain pattering against the windows of his apartment.
Normally he would have enjoyed this. A night in with Jimin, sharing food and talking until dawn - something he usually looked forward to after a long week of work and responsibility and stress. He’d grown so used to it, had taken it for granted. Had opened his stupid mouth that fateful night several months ago when Jimin had remarked they were starting to resemble an old married couple--
It’s not a date night if it’s with a brat like you, he’d teased.
Jimin had flushed, instantly retorting, Hyung, who said I would date you?
Right. That was the awful truth. Jimin would never date Yoongi. Jimin was too good for him.
I’ve never even seen you go on a date, and I’ve known you for two years!
Aren’t you lonely? Don’t you want someone to be with you besides me? You can’t cling to me forever!
If anyone’s clingy, it’s you.
That was just how these things went, he told himself, over and over.
You couldn’t always get what you wanted. You could try, you could hint and hope and wish all you wanted, but if it wasn’t meant to be - well, it wasn’t meant to be. Sure, it was killing him on the inside to spend time with Jimin pretending he didn’t feel the way he did, but it would be worse to have Jimin know. Because Jimin didn’t feel the same way. Because Jimin, with his big smile and even bigger heart, wanted Yoongi to be happy and went out of his way to set his hyung up on date after date. He was Jimin’s self-proclaimed favourite hyung and pet project. Jimin was determined to help Yoongi find love and companionship.
Unfortunately, he’d never once considered himself as a viable candidate.
“Was it bad?” Jimin asked abruptly, jarring Yoongi out of his thoughts. He wasn’t watching the movie. He was watching Yoongi, thumb between his teeth, biting at the nail. “Was he a jerk?”
Did I make a mistake?
“Nah. He was fine. Like I said - we just didn’t click. These things happen.”
Jimin looked doubtful. “Every single time?”
“Maybe I’m just unloveable,” Yoongi joked.
“That’s not true!”
“If you say so.”
“I say so,” Jimin declared, giving Yoongi a thump to the chest with his open palm.
That hollow ache returned where Jimin touched him, like a faint echo beneath his ribs. Yoongi busied himself with putting food into his mouth, chewing slowly and carefully. It would pass. Eventually. He’d been through worse, had lived through much greater misery in his life. If nothing else at least he had Jimin by his side, a comforting, solid presence despite being the source of his woes.
“Don’t be discouraged,” Jimin said, nudging him in the thigh with his knee. It peeked out through the rip in his jeans. Yoongi fought the urge to settle his palm over that patch of bared skin. “I’ll find someone else for you.”
He sounded so earnest, so encouraging. Yoongi’s heart plummeted in his chest. “Yeah.”
“I believe you.” It was a fact that Jimin never gave up. Yoongi had learned to stop fighting. These days he just hoped that somehow it would miraculously work - that Jimin would finally introduce him to someone who could help Yoongi move on.
He ate the last piece of kimbap, not really tasting it, and crumpled the foil into a ball.
“Hang on a sec--” Jimin said, getting to his feet. He went to the kitchen, rummaged in the fridge, and emerged with a carton of ice cream and two spoons.
“I brought dessert too,” Jimin told him with an impish smile. It was heartbreakingly adorable. Yoongi clenched his fist under the blanket, tried to return the smile. He probably didn’t do a very convincing job.
Jimin’s expression dimmed, turning into concern. He sat heavily, handing Yoongi a spoon.
“They weren’t all disasters. Hoseok-hyung really liked you, he told me so,” Jimin said, dipping his spoon into the rocky road. His forehead was creased, in that way that made Yoongi feel like leaning over and using both his thumbs to carefully smooth them out.
“He was nice,” Yoongi agreed, keeping his hands to himself. Hoseok was easy going and fun to be around. Under different circumstances-- Yoongi sighed, rubbed absently at a spot on his chin he’d missed while shaving. Hoseok had been great. But Yoongi couldn’t lie to himself, or to anyone else.There was a reason that all the dates failed, and he knew it better than anyone.
He cleared his throat. “Actually, I’m going to see Hoseok again.”
Jimin looked up, pulling the spoon out of his mouth. “Really?”
“Yeah. Next week.”
Hoseok just so happened to share a mutual acquaintance with Yoongi. It was a small world. Said acquaintance was a DJ, who was starting a gig at a brand new nightclub. Both Yoongi and Hoseok had been invited to the grand opening, and both were planning to attend.
“Oh.” Jimin chewed on his lower lip. “You never mentioned it before.”
“We only decided yesterday,” Yoongi replied.
Jimin nodded, eyes flicking to the tv screen. He smiled brightly. “Cool. I hope you have fun.”
It’d be more fun to stay home, was on the tip of his tongue but he bit it back. Hoseok was definitely great but clubs weren’t Yoongi’s favourite places to be, generally speaking. He’d much rather spend the night on the sofa with Jimin.
Wishful thinking never got him anywhere.
He hated clubs a lot more than he remembered. Hoseok seemed to enjoy it, so it was for his sake that Yoongi stayed. He stayed much longer than he would have otherwise. There were just too many people. He felt claustrophobic in the crowd, the thumping bass making his heart feel like it was beating too fast for the rest of him to keep up with. He wanted to go home and lie down and call Jimin, if Jimin wasn’t already at his place. He’d do that, later. Jimin would complain but he wouldn’t hang up. He’d talk to Yoongi all night if given the chance.
“Sorry,” Hoseok said, talking almost directly into Yoongi’s ear to be heard over the music, “You look bored.”
“I’m not,” he replied automatically.
Hoseok smiled wryly. “It’s okay. Jimin told me you aren’t big on clubbing. At least let me get you another drink.”
He followed Hoseok to the bar, a hollow feeling in his gut. He waited until the bartender had served them both before asking casually, “Jimin told you that?”
“Yeah. He wanted to make sure you weren’t uncomfortable the first time we hung out.”
Not setting him up with other men would be the best way of ensuring that, Yoongi thought sullenly. Jimin was an idiot.
“The way he talks about you,” Hoseok grinned. “He practically worships you. I wouldn’t dream of getting in the way. Don’t worry.”
Yoongi swallowed back a bitter retort, there’s nothing to get in the way of.
“It’s not like that,” he said.
“Jimin treats everyone that way.”
Hoseok looked unconvinced, but he let it drop. “I’ll go say hi to my friend, and we can call it a night. Thanks for coming.”
“Next time--,” Yoongi said, offhandedly, not wanting to make Hoseok feel like hanging out was a chore - because it wasn’t, he liked Hoseok’s company. “Somewhere quieter.”
They shared a taxi ride part of the way home. Sitting in companionable silence had eased some of the tension in his chest, but not all. Hoseok asked if Yoongi wanted to visit a friend’s recording studio the following weekend. He thought briefly that he couldn’t, he had unofficial movie night with Jimin, but told himself not to be stupid. Hoseok was giving him another chance.
Yoongi nodded, gut twisting. Hoseok’s smile was wide and as generous as he was. “Cool, see you next Saturday, then--”
Yoongi thought maybe it’s not a bad idea. Maybe I need this.
Jimin was lounging in a onesie in Yoongi’s apartment, eating his snacks, flipping channels on the tv. His eyes crinkled at the sight of Yoongi and he looked meaningfully at the clock, eyebrow raised.
“Shift,” Yoongi said, pushing Jimin slightly to make room for himself on the sofa. Jimin smelled like his shampoo and conditioner. It was desperate and sad how his heart leapt in his chest when Jimin obligingly moved, just enough for Yoongi to settle down before spreading himself out again, legs draped over Yoongi’s lap.
“What are you watching?” Yoongi grunted, ignoring the way Jimin was staring at him.
“Nothing.” He held out a chip. “Want some?”
Yoongi opened his mouth.
Jimin paused just short of feeding it to him. “First tell me how your date went.”
“Fine,” he said.
“You stayed out pretty late for just fine.”
Yoongi didn’t bother responding. He looked at the tv to avoid looking at Jimin. An arm draped itself over his neck, warm and heavy.
“I did well, didn’t I?” he said, because it was just how Jimin was, always hankering for a pat on the back. “I found you a guy just like I promised I would! Hoseok hyung is a catch, too -- you gotta admit I did good.”
Jimin smiled brightly at him, and it was so stupid how happy he was. He was so proud of himself for being a good matchmaker. Looking at him made Yoongi’s chest hurt in that old, familiar, tiresome way. The point was driven home, again and again, like the final nail in a coffin.
“Yeah,” said Yoongi, making sure his voice didn’t catch on the words. “You did well. Hoseok is a really good guy. Thanks. We’re meeting again on Saturday,” he added.
For a second, Jimin’s expression went kind of funny, as if what he’d heard hadn’t been what he wanted to hear at all. It was fleeting, or maybe Yoongi was simply projecting his deepest desires to the extent of imagining things. Jimin had never so much as hinted he wanted Yoongi like that. It was impossible for him to exhibit any sign of jealousy.
He thought of Hoseok saying he didn’t want to get caught in between them. Hoseok had sounded so certain Jimin and Yoongi were a thing. What did he see that Yoongi couldn’t? Was it obvious to an outsider that he had feelings for Jimin, and was it possible that Hoseok was right and it went both ways? He stood undecided for a moment, pulse racing slightly. His mouth was dry and it was hard to speak, but the part of him that wanted Jimin so, so, so much forced the words out: “Should I?”
“Go out again with Hoseok.”
Jimin tilted his head, looked like a confused, lost puppy. “What do you mean?”
“Do you really think I should?”
He waited, holding a breath that felt as taut as a kite on a string on a windy day. The seconds ticked past one, two, three, each tugging on his last bit of hope until Jimin’s smile froze and the line snapped, leaving him lost in the wind.
“Of course,” said Jimin. “Why wouldn’t you?”
Right, he thought, dazedly moving through the following week as if in a sort of sluggish quagmire.
It would always be the same, no matter what.
Yoongi was the one who felt more than he should. He was the one who saw hidden meanings in straightforward moments, always hoping and wishing in vain. The tension he’d felt in the room when he’d stupidly asked, stupidly yearned for some sign of reciprocated feeling - it wasn’t anything worth holding onto. His stomach churned horribly whenever he thought back to it, knowing he’d come close to crossing a line he’d never dared to before.
Jimin was oblivious to Yoongi’s agony and that was how it should be. They went on the way they always had. Neither of them spoke about Hoseok again. Yoongi was glad about that. Jimin probably thought it was another lost cause, any day now he’d be rounding up another eligible bachelor to fling in Yoongi’s direction and start the painful cycle all over again. Yoongi wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep up with it. His stony facade was starting to crumble.
hyung are u busy tmrw?
Here it was, again. Bitterness swelled on his tongue, close to choking him. He didn’t want to do this again, didn’t want to go on another hopeless date with some guy who deserved better.
He texted back, Hoseok asked me to hang out which was the truth and waited several heartbeats, for Jimin’s response.
wow okay don’t worry about it then!
worry about what?
nothing. doesn’t matter. enjoy yourself with hoseok hyung!!
are you sure?
yep!! have fun
Jimin didn’t care, but Yoongi called to cancel on Hoseok anyway.
“Seriously, it’s cool. You’re not stringing me along or anything, I know what’s up. This was strictly friends hanging out.”
Yoongi felt like a piece of shit. “Sorry.”
“Hey, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not heartbroken,” Hoseok said, and the way he said it made Yoongi feel even worse. Because if anyone was heartbroken between the two of them, it definitely wasn’t Hoseok and they both knew it. There was no point in denying that fact.
Just as there was no point in denying that he felt relieved to be free of obligation to Hoseok. He missed Jimin. He hadn’t seen Jimin in almost a week. He was a pathetic and desperate mess of pining.
To his surprise, it wasn’t Jimin who answered his call.
“It’s Taehyung.” Jimin’s friend. “Jimin can’t come to the phone right now. He’s on the floor. Too heavy.”
Yoongi stared at his cell phone. “Excuse me?”
“He passed out drunk.”
“We went drinking,” said Taehyung matter-of-factly. Duh was implied.
Yoongi was surprised. “Jimin doesn’t drink.”
“Well, last night was a bit different.” Taehyung’s tone was arch, as if he was angry. “He was drowning his sorrows.”
“Why?” Yoongi’s forehead creased.
“Because you went on a third date with Hoseok,” Taehyung said bluntly. “And because you’re probably going on another date tomorrow, for all I fucking know.”
Yoongi’s heart slowed in his chest.
Taehyung went on, “Stupid Jimin. I told him not to do it, but he insisted it would work.”
Taehyung cleared his throat, proceeded to devastate Yoongi with a single, easy sentence: “He was so sure once you found somebody else he’d finally be able to get over you.”
Come over, he texted.
There was no reply, but he waited, knowing the message had been received. Not long after, he heard the sound of someone else moving about in his apartment.
The bed dipped. He felt Jimin crawl under the covers, positioning himself so that their bodies lay alongside one another, almost touching but not quite. A few seconds passed, and then Jimin sighed. He shifted closer, curling up against Yoongi’s back in that way he did sometimes, forehead pressed to the space between Yoongi’s shoulder blades, right behind his heart.
“What are you doing home?” It was whispered to his spine, in a voice that cracked slightly. “What about Hoseok?"
A pause, and then-- “Don’t do that. You shouldn't cancel on him. You should go.”
“Don’t feel like it.” What Yoongi felt like doing was swearing. “You planning to get drunk again if I do?”
Jimin was quiet as he absorbed Yoongi’s statement. He didn’t deny it.
“It’s okay,” Jimin whispered again, voice muffled by Yoongi’s shirt. His breath felt warm and ticklish and a little wet. “Nothing has to change. I won’t get in the way.”
“Get in the way?”
“You can date Hobi. I’ll get over it.”
Yoongi closed his eyes. “Is that so?”
“Yeah.” He felt Jimin’s fingers twist into the blanket. Liar. “I just wish you hadn’t found out. Not like this, anyway-”
“Why? Were you ever going to tell me how you felt?”
“I don’t know.”
“So what? You were just going to keep setting me up with your friends and cry about it to Taehyung every weekend?” Yoongi’s stomach twisted. He gritted his teeth, willed himself to be calm. “I’m not doing that to you.”
“Don’t worry about me.” Jimin hesitated. Yoongi hated hearing the fear in his voice. “Is this going to... hyung, are you- I mean, are we… can we pretend it never happened?”
The thought was heartbreaking. “I don’t think I can.”
“Please. I’m sorry, I know it’s selfish, but I don’t want anything to change.”
Of course it was going to change things, Yoongi thought. It changed everything. He turned, twisting his body around to face Jimin. Huge, sad eyes met his own. The misery in them was obvious. Yoongi’s heart clenched in his chest.
“Idiot,” Yoongi muttered, overwhelmed with the same old desire to cuddle Jimin until nothing was left of him, body and soul. “Why would you even do something like that?”
“You deserve to be happy. Even if it’s not with me.”
Don’t be a martyr,” Yoongi said, reaching out to lay his hand on the back of Jimin’s neck. His pulse fluttered under Yoongi’s fingertips in a haphazard, uncontrollable rhythm. “It’s not flattering.”
“That’s what friends do,” Jimin ducked his head, avoiding Yoongi’s gaze. “Help each other. You’d do the same for me, right?”
“I would never have set you up with my friends,” Yoongi said. “None of them are good enough for you.”
Jimin swallowed. His eyes crinkled slightly. “Thanks. You don’t need to--”
But Yoongi wasn’t done. He cut Jimin off with a shake of the head, thumb pressing lightly into the soft skin of Jimin’s nape. “I mean it. I’m not that generous. I wouldn’t let someone else have you.”
They stared at one another, the resulting silence ringing in Yoongi’s ears. He’d said it - finally.
Jimin breathed out - a shallow, shaky exhale. “Yoongi--”
“I mean it, Jimin. It’s always been you.”
Hopefulness and uncertainty looked back at him. “Are you sure?
“You’re not just-”
Jimin bit his lip. “But-” He paused, his expression vulnerable, the wretched emotions playing out across his face similar to Yoongi’s own. “You always agreed, so I thought you wanted to find someone.”
He could barely believe it.
Jimin continued in anguished tones, “I always felt sick to my stomach every time you went out with a guy I found for you. I was always so relieved when it didn’t work out.”
They’d wasted so much time. Yoongi almost felt angry. The shock was still wearing off. He said, rather meanly, “You’re stupid.”
Jimin should have said it back to him, but he didn’t, because Jimin was sweet and adorable and much too good for him, really.
“What was I supposed to do?” he said plaintively, in a slightly wobbly, woebegone voice. There was no way to be upset at him when he looked and sounded that way. It wasn’t fair. “I wanted you to be happy. You were lonely.”
“I wasn’t lonely,” Yoongi said, edging closer, until their foreheads almost touched. “Not with you.”
Jimin’s eyes were huge. “Really?”
“Good. I really like you, Yoongi,” Jimin whispered, coming closer as he spoke, the last word practically spoken into Yoongi’s mouth. Their lips brushed.
Yoongi inhaled sharply as Jimin shifted even closer still, one hand on Yoongi’s chest, the other on his waist. His eyes fluttered shut and he deepened the kiss, owning it, taking Yoongi’s breath away. Yoongi kissed him back, fervently, the sort of kiss he only gave when he wanted more, his mind acknowledging absently that the only person he’d wanted more from for a very long time now was finally the person he had in his arms.
It was their first kiss, but it felt as though Jimin knew exactly what to do to drive him crazy. Yoongi pulled back with an embarrassing pant, blushing with warmth and giddiness and honest-to-god elation. He opened his eyes and met Jimin’s equally flushed gaze. A little knowing smile played on the corners of Jimin’s sweet, rosy mouth. Yoongi felt his body hum with exhilaration as Jimin dipped his head to press his lips along Yoongi’s jaw.
“Let’s both be more honest,” Jimin whispered in his ear.
“Sounds good,” he agreed hoarsely.
“What do you want?”
Yoongi took a deep, shuddering breath, and told Jimin exactly what he wanted until morning.