If Jimin thinks about it, he can pinpoint the exact moment this vacation sprang into existence. It had started in the fall of freshman year when he’d sat down next to Taehyung in their intro to philosophy class, and had bloomed when Jimin had let Taehyung prattle on and on about a kpop idol singer he loved. Jeon Jungkook was the epitome of perfection and even if Jimin didn’t listen to any of his music himself, Taehyung talked about him enough for Jimin to swear off the idol forever. That and all the tabloid news that seemed to get produced about Jungkook - dating scandals and pubic tantrums and arguments with the paparazzi. Jimin hates drama and Jungkook always seems to be at the centre of it.
But it was the fact that Jimin listened to Taehyung that cemented their friendship in the first place, and now, halfway through their junior year of college, Jimin is on a weekend trip to Tokyo with Taehyung for some “sightseeing”.
“You only picked Tokyo because Jungkook has a second house there that he spends the winters in,” Jimin complained as they’d sifted through a guide book of Japan before the fall reading break. “I want to go to Kyoto.”
“First of all, we’re not going to Tokyo only for Jungkook,” Taehyung argued. “There’s lots of other perfectly good reasons to go to Tokyo.” Jimin raised his eyebrows and Taehyung balked.
“Yeah, like what?”
“We can shop here in Seoul.”
“Can you just let me have this one good thing in life please, Jimin?”
In the end it had come down to a game of rock-paper-scissors, Taehyung’s best puppy-dog eyes, and a lot of begging for Jimin to relent and book the tickets to Tokyo.
“Please, Jimin. Jungkook’s going trying to land a movie role in an American film. He won’t be in Korea this summer; this is my only chance to see him. Please, please, please, please.”
Jimin wishes he’d recorded Taehyung, down on his knees with hands clasped together, begging like a fool. It’d help soothe the headache that’s forming in his skull at the moment.
They’re in a club, somewhere with an outrageous cover charge and a line that had stretched around the block when Jimin and Taehyung had climbed out of the cab.
“You’re going to make me stand in that line!” Jimin had exclaimed. “It’s freezing outside!”
“You’re such a baby,” Taehyung had replied. “Don’t worry. I know the bartender here and he got us on the VIP list.”
Ordinarily, Jimin world be suspicious as to how Taehyung knew the bartender, but the connection had allowed them to bypass the line and skip right on in to a crowd of people bobbing around to something bass-heavy and synthetic sounding. Apparently this was a club that Jungkook frequented often, which was why they’d showed up, but now that Jimin’s here he just wants to get drunk and have a good time. He promises to check in with Taehyung in an hour back at the front entrance before he zips over to the bar for some over-priced liquor and then out onto the dance floor for a good time.
Even if the reason why they’re in Tokyo is ridiculous, Jimin’s here to have a let loose a little. School’s been stressful, his dance showcase pieces becoming more intricate and physical. He always feels like his body’s about to give out on him before he manages to find it in himself to push for more. This weekend is supposed to be his one wild adventure before he has to buckle down for his finals. If Taehyung wants to spend the trip hunting down an idol, then he’s welcome to do so. Jimin mostly plans on not remembering the weekend, if he can manage it.
Jimin whirls around the dancefloor, falling into the arms of guys and girls alike. He doesn’t mind, likes the way their hands roam across his body, how it feels to have bodies grinding up against him. Dance has taken over so much of his life now that he hardly has time to go out like this and have fun. It’s nice.
An hour passes and Jimin stumbles back to the bar, gulping down a shot of something that burns on the way down, and then a glass of water. Taehyung finds him a moment later.
“You look like sex on legs,” he comments, glancing at the way Jimin’s shirt sticks to his body from sweat. “Did you hook up with someone?”
Jimin shakes his head. “No,” he replies. “Should I?”
“No,” Taehyung replies instantly. “You’re too drunk and your Japanese is shit.”
Jimin frowns. He’d been working on his Japanese on and off for years now. It isn’t that bad. “Not as bad as yours,” he slurs, and Taehyung rolls his eyes.
“It’s worse,” he replies. He slings an arm over Jimin’s shoulder and waves for another glass of water. “Slow down on the shots a little, ‘kay?”
Jimin nods and sips his water. One of the guys he’d danced with earlier glances his way but looks away quickly when Taehyung growls at him.
“Go look for your idol,” Jimin murmurs, head tipping onto Taehyung’s shoulder. “That’s why we’re in Tokyo.”
Taehyung opens his mouth to say something but he’s cut off by the DJ.
“Hey, hey, hey,” he says, his voice booming out over the club. Jimin winces and tucks his head into the space between Taehyung’s neck and shoulder. Maybe he shouldn’t have had that last shot of - whatever.
“Hope you’re all having a fine night out there,” the DJ continues, “but not as good as the birthday boy here. Make some noise for Kim Seokjin!”
The crowd goes wild, Taehyung included. He jumps up so fast that Jimin would’ve toppled off his seat if not for the hand that Taehyung still had around his waist. “Tae - “ he moans, trying to get the club to stop spinning.
“Jimin, oh my god. Seokjin is one of Jungkook’s best friends, which means - “
“And here to help us celebrate is none other than Jeon Jungkook.”
If Jimin had thought the club had exploded before, it’s nothing like the noise now. People are screaming and jumping around as Jeon Jungkook steps out onto the stage. He smiles at his adoring fans, ducking his head a little shyly and Jimin feels his stomach flip over. It’s a cute smile, he’ll admit that, but Jungkook’s not really his type. A little too boyish and a little too famous. Besides, Jimin doesn’t have time for a boyfriend now -
Jimin’s head spins a little as Taehyung pushes him back onto a stool and disappears into the crowd with a shouted promise that he’ll be back later. Jesus. Jimin clutches his head. What the hell has he been drinking all evening? Thinking about dating Jeon Jungkook? Jimin laughs and stumbles off his stool as Jungkook starts singing, something that Jimin vaguely recognizes from the radio but doesn’t know any of the words to.
He trips into the bathroom and promptly throws up in the toilet, which makes him feel about ten times better than before. The floor is a little gross and grimey, but it’s solid and Jimin doesn’t mind a little dirt on his jeans. He doesn't know how long he stays on the floor, but eventually the muffled music from outside and the cheering of the crowd lets Jimin know the performance must be over. Taehyung will be looking for him soon, Jimin thinks as he hauls himself up off the bathroom floor and over to the sinks. He washes his hands and heads for the door, only to have it come flying open and hit him in the face.
The first thing Jimin registers is pain. His nose is on fire. The second thing he notices is the blood.
“Fuck, fuck,” he mutters, stumbling backwards, one hand blindly reaching out for the paper towel dispenser while the other fruitlessly tries to stem the flow of blood.
“Oh my god,” his assailant says - in Korean, Jimin notices - stepping into the bathroom after Jimin. “I’m so sorry! Oh, fuck, did I break your nose?”
Jimin whimpers a little. He doesn’t want a broken nose. He quite likes his nose. It’s not too big but it’s not skinny or pointy and it doesn’t stick out. He has a nice nose and maybe now it’s broken because some asshole decided to open the door with the strength of Superman.
“Oh my god, this is not good,” the guy mutters. He grabs some paper towels and passes them to Jimin. “Come on, we have to go.”
A hand closes around Jimin’s free wrist and he rips it back frantically. “What?” he asks, muffled by the tissues. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t even know you.”
Jimin brushes his bangs back from his forehead and tips his head up a little, peering past the mass of tissues he’s got pressed to his face. The guy is tall, dark hair stuffed under a bucket hat and huge sunglasses perched on his nose even though it’s close to midnight and they’re in the middle of a night club.
“Just - please,” the guy says. Jimin can’t see his eyes, but he imagines they’d be wide and pleading. “I can take you to the hospital and have your nose checked out.”
Jimin shakes his head. “I didn’t get travel insurance,” he says. “I’m only here for three days and I can’t afford it.”
“I’ll pay for you,” the guy replies, easy as anything. “Please, please. We just have to get out of here.”
Jimin balks. The guy seems desperate and frantic to take Jimin to the hospital, but he’s still a stranger and -
“What about Taehyung?”
“My friend. I came here with him,” Jimin says. “I can’t just disappear with you and not tell him. Besides, I was pretty drunk earlier. He was already worried about me.”
“My friends can take care of him,” Mystery Guy replies. “I promise. He’ll be fine.”
Everything about this seems shady and not what Jimin thought he’d be doing on his first night in Tokyo, but he’s still a little drunk and his nose - while not profusely bleeding anymore - is throbbing.
“Fine,” he mutters, dumping his wad of tissues in the garbage and washing his hands. “But my Japanese is good enough that I can call the police on you.”
The guy doesn’t say anything, just grabs Jimin’s wrist again and drags him out the door.
Jimin is led out behind the club where a cherry-red Ferrari is waiting for them.
“What the fuck is this?” he asks, gesturing at the car.
In the dim light of the alley Jimin can hardly make out anything of his mystery guy’s face, but he’s sure that the man is scowling. “It’s a Ferrari,” he says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“We’re in the middle of downtown Tokyo and you drove a car here? Are you crazy?”
“Crazier than the other drivers,” the guy replies. “Get in the car.”
“Let me call Taehyung first.”
The guy makes a frustrated noise in the back of his throat.
“Look,” Jimin says, putting his hands on his hips. He shivers a little in the night air. “Maybe you’re a nice guy and you really are taking me to the hospital and you’ll pay my medical bills, but if you’re not I want someone to know that I’m getting into a Ferrari with a stranger and that if he never sees me again he can have my cat.”
Mystery Guy just stares at him. “You have a cat,” he says, which is the least satisfying answer he could’ve given. Jimin rolls his eyes and pulls out his phone.
“Jimin, where are you?” Taehyung yells as soon as he picks up. Jimin can hardly hear him over the music.
“On my way to the hospital,” Jimin replies. “Precautionary. Some guy may have broken my nose with the bathroom door.”
Jimin rolls his eyes again and says, “Look. He says his friends will look after you so. I don’t know. I’ll text you their numbers later or something. Also the license plate of this car I’m getting into.”
“Don’t forget to tell him he can have your cat,” Mystery Guy says, and Jimin shoots him a look.
“I told you not to hook up,” Taehyung says with a groan. “Please come back to me tomorrow in one piece. I don’t want to be stuck looking after Belle for the rest of her life. She hates me.”
“It’ll be fine. I’m fine. Don’t worry,” Jimin says before hanging up. He looks across the car at Mystery Guy, only to find him looking back at him already. “Don’t do that,” Jimin says, ducking his head.
“Look at me like that,” Jimin replies, and then adds, “I don’t even know your name.”
The guy smiles, a little soft and shy. Despite how pissed off he is, it melts some bitter, frozen part of Jimin’s heart.
“You can call me JK,” the guy says.
Jimin huffs. Not even a full name for his mystery man. “Fine, JK. I’m Jimin,” he says, wrenching open the door to the Ferrari and sliding into the passenger seat. “Take me to the hospital.”
“Well, the good news is that your nose isn’t broken.”
Jimin sighs in relief and leans back on his hands, the paper on the hospital table crinkling under his fingers. He’d thought as much, but it’s still nice to hear it from a medical professional.
“You’re implying that there’s bad news,” JK says from the corner of their curtained off space in the emergency room. He’s still got his ridiculous sunglasses on and the bucket hat pulled low over his face.
“Just that you’ll experience some swelling and some bruising under the eyes,” the doctor says. He hands Jimin an ice pack from the mini fridge and says, “Normally we don’t let patients keep these but JK will pay me back.”
In the corner, JK scowls. “Namjoon-hyung,” he whines, which makes Jimin laugh, even though it hurts.
Namjoon smiles fondly - as if anyone could be fond of Tall, Dark, and Stupid, Jimin thinks - and says, “Like you can’t afford to pay me back one measly ice pack, Kook.”
JK’s head snaps up, his mouth turning down at the corners. “Don’t call me that,” he hisses, glancing around, like someone might burst through the curtains at any moment. “Not here, at least. You know I’m trying to lay low.”
Namjoon laughs. “Yeah, and singing at Seokjin’s birthday party tonight is laying low. I thought you were supposed to be at home at your manager’s shindig?”
JK bites his lip. Jimin’s fascinated by the exchange. It’s like he’s not even here anymore. He presses the ice pack to his nose and winces as JK says, “You know Seokjin’s done a lot for me over the years. The least I could do is show up and sing him one song for his birthday.”
Namjoon offers JK a sympathetic smile and ruffles the bucket cap on JK’s head. “You’re a good kid, JK,” he says. “Even if you brought this perfectly nice boy in here with a busted up nose.”
“He’s not that nice,” JK mumbles, to which Jimin protests.
“Excuse me, you basically kidnapped me,” he says, hopping off the table and marching over to Namjoon and JK. “I was as nice as you deserved!”
“Okay, okay,” Namjoon says, placing a hand on Jimin’s shoulder. “Don’t get too aggravated. You’re healing.”
Namjoon shuffles over to a small table in the corner and comes back with a small pill bottle. “These are anti-inflammatories,” he says. “Same as what you can buy at the drugstore so no prescription necessary, but I thought you’d like to have some. Should help with the swelling and the pain.”
Jimin accepts the pills gratefully. “Thanks,” he says, and then turns to JK, who’s looking at his phone with a frown on his face. “Can you take me home now?”
JK looks up, his frown evening out into a thin line. He looks - nervous. “Uh, sure,” he says. “But we have to make a quick stop first, okay?”
Jimin narrows his eyes. Behind him, he can hear Namjoon groan. “A quick stop?” Jimin asks, but JK’s already nodding and standing up from his chair.
“Yeah. It won’t be long, I promise. Come on.” He tugs his car keys from his criminally tight jeans and makes for the curtain, but Namjoon stops him with a hand on his shoulder. He whispers something in JK’s ear and Jimin watches, fascinated, as JK’s entire body seems to lock-up.
“They’re here?” he asks quietly, sounding distraught.
“Head of emergency just let me know,” Namjoon replies. “Kook - “
“What kind of a car do you drive, hyung?” JK asks, cutting him off.
“Nothing you’d want to be seen in.”
“Good,” JK says, tossing the keys to his Ferrari at Namjoon. Jimin’s eyebrows raise in surprise. “Trade cars with me tonight.”
“Kook - “
“Call me that again and the deal’s off.”
“Fine,” Namjoon replies. “You break it, you buy it, JK.”
JK just laughs. “We’ll see, hyung,” he says, before grabbing Jimin by the wrist - again - and pulling him out of their cubicle.
“Taehyung said your friends found him,” Jimin mutters from the passenger seat of Namjoon’s car. Taehyung’s sent him a lot of messages that are mostly just keyboard smashes and emojis and two messages that said, safe and have fun!!!!! As if Jimin could have fun with a guy who has so far not told him his real name, kidnapped him, and is now taking him on some adventure through the brightly lit streets of Tokyo’s Azabu district.
“Good, I’m glad. They’ll make sure he’s okay,” JK says. He’s got the steering wheel in a death grip and keeps glancing in the rearview mirror. Jimin notices it’s being held on with some very creative duct taping.
Namjoon hadn’t been kidding when he’d said that his car was nothing that JK would want to be seen in. His ten-year-old Toyota Corolla is a far cry from the Ferrari they’d reluctantly left behind in the underground lot, but whatever - or whoever - it was that JK was running from so far hadn’t seemed to have caught up with them in their getaway car.
“So, tell me about yourself,” Jimin says, tipping his head against the window and pressing his ice pack more securely against his nose. “A Korean in Japan. What do you do here?”
JK just grunts in response.
“Fine, don’t answer. How old are you?”
“Hey,” Jimin says, sitting up and slapping a hand on the dashboard. JK jumps in his seat and glares at Jimin. Or, Jimin imagines he’s glaring. He’s still wearing those ridiculous sunglasses. “Maybe this is tough for you, having to slum it out with some stranger you hit with a door in a club, but you have actually kidnapped me. For as much as people don’t seem to see it that way, I do. And if you don’t tell me at least something about yourself I will call the police.”
JK tenses for a moment, but with a long exhale he lets himself relax. Jimin’s still twisted in his seat, chest heaving from his outburst, so he catalogs the way JK’s hands seem to loosen their grip on the steering wheel, how he lets his head thunk back against the headrest.
“I work in the music industry,” he says finally. “But I guess you could say I’m on a bit of a vacation at the moment. Like you, I’m just visiting from Korea.”
“But you have a car here.”
“Yeah. I visit often enough that I have a place and a car.”
“And how old are you, again?”
JK pauses. “20.”
“Jesus,” Jimin hisses, sitting back in his seat. Two years younger than him and JK already has a Ferrari and a place to live in one of Tokyo’s most expensive districts. He’s got an inkling of what exactly it is that JK does, but he doesn’t want to ask, in case he’s incredibly mistaken.
Jimin has always longed for a career in the spotlight and dancing was the only way he knew how to get there. He’s an okay singer, nothing to write home about, but dance is what he excels in. It’s what he loves. He wants to go professional someday, but he can’t imagine ever being successful enough to be able to afford JK’s Ferrari, or to be able to pay off foreign medical bills.
They don’t say anything after that, the silence between them growing uncomfortable. JK pulls into another underground parking lot - this time, for a highrise building - and ushers Jimin into the elevator.
“I promise, this will be really quick,” he mutters, nudging Jimin down the hall when the elevator doors open. They stop at the corner unit where the door is already propped open by a shoe. Gucci, by the looks of it, and Jimin only knows because Taehyung’s been lusting over a pair like them for the past year.
JK pulls him inside, and Jimin has just enough time to see dark hardwood floors and fancy artwork on the walls before JK is dragging him up a set of stairs towards the second level. There’s music blasting from the speakers, but something less bass-heavy than what had been at the club. Catchy, but more - appropriate in a way, though Jimin isn’t sure what it’s appropriate for.
“What are you doing?” he hisses as JK continues to drag him up the stairs. “Where are you taking me?”
“Uh,” JK says, stumbling down the hallway. He pushes a door open and seems satisfied with what he finds. “My guest room. Be my guest,” he says, pushing Jimin inside.
The guest room has a queen-size bed with beautiful white sheets and enough pillows for thirty people it seems. There’s a large flat screen television hanging on the wall opposite, and a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out over the street they just drove in on.
“JK - “ Jimin starts, whirling around, but there’s an apologetic twist to his mouth that makes Jimin pause.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and he sounds it. He ducks his head, shy again, and Jimin bites his lip. “Just - no one can know you’re here. I wasn’t supposed to go out and if you’re here people will ask and - “
“It’s fine,” Jimin says, even though it’s not really. He’s not here to be someone’s dirty little secret, but he figures if he didn’t say something JK would have hyperventilated. “Just. An hour, tops. If you don’t take me home after that, then I’m walking out of here on my own and I don’t care who sees me.”
JK nods earnestly, bowing as he exits the room, which Jimin finds endlessly amusing. He shuts the door on the way out, and Jimin lets himself sink down onto the edge of the bed.
What a night.
Jimin turns his phone over in his hands. He’s had plenty of one-night stands before, gone home with strangers without a second thought for his safety, or Taehyung’s whereabouts, but tonight feels different for some reason. Maybe it’s JK’s aloofness, or the fact that he doesn’t seem to want to sleep with Jimin. Or maybe it’s the way JK’s mouth turned down at the corners when he had switched cars with Namjoon at the hospital, the way it always seems like he’s on the run.
That makes Jimin nervous.
There aren’t any more messages from Taehyung, so Jimin just sends him a text asking if he’s still okay. He doesn’t get a reply back right away, so Jimin stands up and looks around.
There’s no point in turning on the television; his Japanese is passable, but not good enough to understand shows. Besides, he’s not sure if the television will alert other people that he’s here. Jimin wanders over to the window and looks out at the cityscape. It’s almost two in the morning now but the lights are still glittering on the streets below and the occasional pedestrian saunters by. Sometimes they’re alone and sometimes they’re with a group of friends. Jimin wonders if they’re having a good time.
The music outside the door cuts off abruptly and Jimin whirls around, confused. He can hear muffled voices now, the sounds of people milling about, clearing space. Against his better judgement, Jimin cracks open the door and peaks out.
The hallways is deserted, but he can see the soft glow of light further down, in the opposite direction of the stairs he had come up earlier. Quietly, Jimin creeps down the hallway until he reaches a small alcove that opens up, like a balcony, to the space below.
There are a lot of people standing in JK’s living room, dressed nicely and holding glasses tall and small filled with different mixed drinks. The thought of alcohol makes Jimin grimace as he crouches down behind the banister, hoping that no one looks up and spots him behind the steel bars.
In the middle of the gathering sits JK with a guitar across his lap. Except - he’s not JK. He’s shed the bucket hat and sunglasses, lost his baggy green sweater in favour of a form-fitting red leather jacket. He smiles for his audience, ducks his head - shy, shy, shy - and says, “Thank you all for coming. Sorry I’m a little late.”
Jimin covers his mouth with his hand to stifle his gasp. Sitting below him, in a room full of important people, is Jeon Jungkook.
Jimin whips out his phone and takes as stealthy a photo as he can. It’s a bit blurry from how hard his hands are shaking, but he thinks that it’ll get the message across. Then he sends the picture to Taehyung with the message, !!!!!!!! He doesn't know what else to say.
“I’m so glad you could make it and that you’ve been enjoying yourselves.” Jungkook’s voice catches Jimin’s attention again and he pockets his phone, peering through the bars. “As a thank you for being here, I thought I’d sing a song that I’m hoping will make it onto my next album. It really means a lot to me. It’s called Begin.”
Jimin’s heard Jungkook sing plenty of times. Being best friends with Number One Fan Kim Taehyung means that no study session goes without at least three Jeon Jungkook songs on their study playlist. And Jimin had just heard him sing in the club a few hours ago - granted, he’d been throwing up in the bathroom so he couldn’t quite remember what Jungkook had even been singing then. Point being: Jimin’s listened to Jungkook’s music more than he’d like to admit, but he’s never heard any song like this.
Begin, in its unfinished, raw form is a a slow ballad that seems to curl itself around Jungkook’s voice. It’s soft, beautiful, and heartfelt. Jimin hasn’t heard anything like it before.
“You make me begin …”
Huh. Jimin sits back on his heels, sinking into the shadows a bit as Jungkook continues to sing. Everything he knows about Jungkook is second-hand information he’d gotten from Taehyung, used to fuel Jimin’s own suspicions that Jungkook was a spoiled, rich idol that didn’t know how the real world worked, which Jimin still believes a little. The Ferrari, the way he thought he could just drag Jimin around Tokyo like there wouldn’t be a consequence. How Namjoon just effortlessly handed over the keys to his car when Jungkook asked for it. The fancy apartment, the beautiful people. It’s all there.
One song about the importance of friendship doesn’t change the way Jungkook has bossed him around all night, or his past tendencies of turning himself into a headline. With a soft huff, Jimin creeps back down the hall until he can straighten up and return to Jungkook’s guest room.
Taehyung’s texted him back, a blurry selfie of himself and three other people in a darkened car. He seems to be having a good time, and he’s not dead, so Jimin figures Jungkook at least didn’t lie about his friends being capable enough of handling Taehyung.
After another minute, there’s a smattering of applause from downstairs and then the music starts up again. Jimin expects to be left to his own devices for awhile, but it’s only another couple of minutes before Jungkook returns in his gaudy outfit from before.
“I know who you are,” Jimin says, eyeing the sunglasses and bucket hat. “You don’t have to dress up for me.”
Jungkook tenses. “How long have you known?” he asks, stepping into the room and shutting the door behind him. He leans against it, but makes no move to remove his disguise.
“I suspected in the car but your performance downstairs cemented it,” Jimin replies.
Jungkook sighs and scratches his head through his hat. It’s a gesture that makes him look incredibly young, and Jimin is suddenly reminded that he’s two years older than Jungkook. Two years older but with infinitely less life experience, probably.
“You can’t tell anyone,” Jungkook says finally. “You can’t tell people you were here. Or that you heard my new song.”
“I told Taehyung,” Jimin replies.
Jungkook bites his lip but then nods. “Okay,” he says. “That’s - that’s fine. He knows my friends now so I’m sure he’d have put two and two together eventually.”
“You give Tae more credit than he deserves.”
Jungkook offers him a small smile, a soft, private thing that makes Jimin turn his head away. Something about it makes his heart clench rather painfully, but Jimin can probably chalk it up to sleep deprivation and painkillers. Jeon Jungkook is a media brat and apparent kidnapper. There’s nothing to like about that.
“Can you take me home now, please?” he asks, refusing to meet Jungkook’s gaze through his over-sized sunglasses.
“Yeah,” Jungkook says, voice soft. “Yeah, okay.”
They climb back into Namjoon’s car and Jimin pulls up the hotel on his phone to navigate them back towards the less expensive part of Tokyo. There’s a tension in the car that hadn’t been there previously, seemingly filling up the spaces between them.
“You’re not like a lot of people I know,” Jungkook says after a few minutes, stalled at a traffic light.
“What do you mean?”
Jungkook shrugs. “I guess - a lot of other people would have been really - “
“Happy to have been hit by a door by you?”
Jungkook ducks his head, embarrassed, and Jimin sighs.
“Look. I get that you’re probably used to people falling all over you and worshipping your every move, but I’m not your fan. I’ve never been your fan.”
Jungkook shoots him a surprised look. “You don’t like me?” he asks. He sounds - not shocked. Almost sad.
“I didn’t say that.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“And if everything works out, I won’t get to know you,” Jimin says. “You live a big fancy life with houses here and in Seoul and you sell millions of records and perform in for millions of people. I’m just a college student. We’re not really compatible.”
Jungkook frowns. He’s still wearing his hat and sunglasses, a disguise for the paparazzi rather than Jimin, which is still silly. It’s three in the morning and they’re driving a generic Toyota Corolla. No one’s going to spot Jungkook.
“I bet if you got to know me you’d like me,” Jungkook says finally. From anyone else it might sound cocky, but it just sounds hopeful coming from Jungkook. It’s annoying, almost.
“If you say so,” Jimin says, and then, “Turn left here.”
They pull up to Jimin’s hotel a few minutes later, Jungkook swinging the car around the drop-off at the front. The tension and awkwardness makes a swift and hasty return.
“So, uh, thanks,” Jimin says, rubbing at his nose a little. It still hurts, though not as badly as before. “Uh, and are you sure about the hospital bill?”
Jungkook waves a hand at him. “It’s the least I can do,” he says. “I did hit you with the door. And then kidnap you. And then hold you hostage.” He offers Jimin a tentative smile that Jimin finds himself returning.
“Okay,” he says, putting his hand on the door and then asking, “And Taehyung?”
“He’ll be fine,” Jungkook reassures. “If he’s not back already, he’ll be back in one piece tomorrow. My friends are nice. Don’t worry about him.”
Jimin bites his lip and nods. He’s about to open the door when something in the side mirror catches his eyes. “Uh, Jungkook?”
“There’s a man with a camera standing behind your car.”
Jungkook whips around and then ducks his head so fast Jimin might’ve missed it if he weren’t looking directly at him. “Oh shit,” he murmurs, glancing up at Jimin. “Is he still there?”
Jimin checks the mirror. “Yeah.”
“Oh my god, what do I do?”
Jimin frowns. Jungkook looks terrified, crunched down in the driver’s seat, tugging at his hat and then pulling the hood of his green sweater up over his head. A few minutes ago Jimin had been looking forward to being rid of the guy, but he feels bad now. Jungkook looks genuinely scared.
“Pull the car into the overnight parking and come up to my room,” he hears himself say. He can’t believe what he’s saying. “If Tae’s not here you can sleep in his bed. If he is - well, he’ll be excited to meet you, I guess.”
Jungkook stares up at him from behind his sunglasses for so long that Jimin starts to feel uncomfortable, but then he nods and pushes himself up in his seat. He puts the car into drive and pulls around to the long-term parking. His death grip on the steering wheel is back, and Jimin can’t help but look in the mirror at the guy with the camera. There’s another man with him now, their lenses trained on Namjoon’s Corolla as it disappears into the carpark.
They find a spot for the Corolla, mixed in with several other cars, and then Jimin leads the way back up to the room he and Tae have rented for the weekend. It’s empty when they arrive, and for a moment, Jimin feels worried. Despite Jungkook’s reassurances, Jimin feels anxious about Taehyung’s whereabouts.
“Thanks,” Jungkook says when the door closes behind them. “For letting me stay. I can pay you for your trouble.”
Jimin shoots him an incredulous look. “You don’t have to pay,” he says. “Taehyung clearly isn’t going to be here tonight so someone might as well get some use out of his money.”
Jungkook nods meekly and then sinks down onto the edge of the closest bed. It was supposed to be Jimin’s but Jimin doesn’t say anything about it. Instead, he asks, “Why are you so worried about the paparazzi anyway? You’re always on the front cover of the tabloids. I didn’t think you’d be bothered by it.”
Jungkook shakes his head. “I’m not - I’m trying to land a movie deal,” he says finally. “A North American production, so it’s a really big deal.”
Jimin remembers Taehyung mentioning something about it, but wow. North America. It’s hard enough for American-born Asians to break into the market over there, let alone a kpop idol. Jimin’s a little impressed.
“I’m supposed to stay out of the tabloids or else they won’t accept me for the movie. I was supposed to stay home today - “
“But you were at the club.”
“For Seokjin’s birthday.”
“And then you were at the hospital.”
“Because I hit you with the door.”
“And now you’re here.”
Jungkook glances up at him. Tentatively, he takes off his hat and sunglasses and Jimin feels himself take a step back involuntarily. He’s seen a lot of Jungkook’s face thanks to the posters in Taehyung’s dorm room, but he wasn’t quite expecting Jungkook to look so perfect in person. He also wasn’t expecting Jungkook to be so - normal. It’s unnerving, almost.
“You don’t want to be seen with me,” Jimin says after a moment. “That’s why you put me in your guest bedroom. And why you got so worried when those guys were outside with their cameras.”
“Jimin - “
“I’m your hyung,” Jimin interrupts. It hadn’t bothered him before, but suddenly now everything seems to be dialed up to ten. “Treat me like it.”
Jungkook ducks his head, the tips of his ears burning red. “Sorry, Jimin-hyung.”
There’s a long, awkward pause before Jimin scrubs a hand over his face and says, “I don’t think any of my clothes will fit you, but you can wear something of Taehyung’s. You’re about the same height. Anything that isn’t Gucci is fair game.”
Jungkook raises an eyebrow. “Gucci?” he asks.
“Tae paid, like, the equivalent of a semester’s tuition on some of the clothes in his suitcase. You can probably snap your fingers and Gucci clothing will appear.”
Jimin doesn’t look at Jungkook as he says this, tries not to think about whether Jungkook looks embarrassed or cocky. He can hear Jungkook rustling around in Taehyung’s belongings before the sound of the bathroom door alerts him that he’s alone now.
There’s a message on his phone from Taehyung telling him not to wait up for him. At almost four in the morning, Jimin thinks he’s done enough waiting up. The events of the night are starting to take a toll on him, from the drinks he consumed at the club, to the hospital, to the hostage situation at Jungkook’s fancy Azabu apartment. He flops down onto Taehyung’s bed, his legs still dangling off the end, and lets himself be lulled to sleep by the sounds of Jungkook in the bathroom.
When Jimin wakes up the next morning it’s because Taehyung has jumped on top of him.
“Jiminie,” he yells, ruffling Jimin’s hair before rolling off him. “I have so much to tell you!”
Jimin groans and rolls over. The clock on the table reads nine in the morning, which means he’s only been asleep for five hours. Nothing new, with how crazy his dance schedule had become lately, but still. He wants to go back to sleep for several more hours, if he can help it. He’s on vacation, after all.
“Oh my god, what happened to your nose?”
Jimin sits up abruptly, the events of the previous night flooding back into his head. He looks around, but there’s no sign of Jungkook at all. It’s like he was never there.
“I told you, I got hit by a door,” Jimin says, touching his nose gingerly and wincing at the pain. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the small bottle of pills that Namjoon had given him at the hospital. Last night had been real after all.
“Well, yeah, but I thought it was just some weird euphemism for sex. Jeon Jungkook hit you, right?”
Jimin turns and looks at Taehyung. He knows Taehyung already knows, but for some reason he doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t quite want to remember the way Jungkook’s soft smile had made him feel guilty about every mean thought he’d ever had about the guy.
“Tell me about your night instead,” Jimin says, shuffling up the bed and curling on his side so he can see Taehyung. “You met his friends, right?”
“Right,” Taehyung says. “So, his friend Hobi-hyung found me and took me back to the booth where Seokjin-hyung was and - “
Jimin lets Taehyung’s story wash over him, how Jungkook’s friends had enfolded Taehyung into their group and then shown him around Tokyo as part of Seokjin’s birthday extravaganza. They had been joined by the DJ at the club, a guy named Agust D - “His actual name is Min Yoongi.” - and had visited all of Tokyo’s hottest nightlife spots. Taehyung had essentially been in heaven.
“The only thing that would have made the night better would be if Jungkook had been there too,” Taehyung says dreamily, and then catches Jimin’s eye. “And you, obviously.”
Jimin sighs. Taehyung’s night had sounded perfect, exactly the kind of thing Jimin had wanted to do in order to let loose and relax this weekend. Instead, he’d ended up with a paranoid idol.
“Now please, please tell me about your night,” Taehyung says, wrapping himself around Jimin like a koala and poking at his sides until Jimin giggles. “Tell me about Jeon Jungkook.”
Jimin opens his mouth and then shuts it again. “I can’t tell you a lot, I guess,” he says after a moment’s pause. He doesn’t know why he’s so hesitant to share the details. “I’m not supposed to tell other people about what happened, but he said you were okay.”
Taehyung giggles and digs his chin into Jimin’s shoulder, peering down at him. “Fine. Start at the beginning.”
Jimin recounts his experience in the bathroom of the club, explaining how Jungkook had taken him to the hospital. He doesn’t mention going to Jungkook’s apartment after, and he doesn’t bring up the fact that Jungkook probably spent the night. It feels - personal.
“Yeah, and then he drove me back here and that’s the end of the story,” Jimin says, tucking his face into the pillow.
Taehyung’s quiet for a moment, then nudges Jimin. “You’re so lucky,” he says dreamily. “I’d kill to have Jeon Jungkook hit me with a door.”
“Oh my god, Tae,” Jimin says with a laugh, the nervous energy in the pit of his stomach burning away.
Taehyung lets him sleep for another couple hours before rousing him again so that they can actually go and make the most of their time in Tokyo. “You can’t sleep the entire time we’re here,” he complains, going through his bag, looking for something to wear. “You can do that back in Seoul. We’re here for - hey, what’s this?”
Jimin sits up and watches in horror as Taehyung pulls a familiar green hoodie out of his suitcase. The same hoodie Jungkook had been wearing the night before. “Is this yours, Jiminie?”
“Uh, yes!” Jimin exclaims, bouncing out of bed. It’s only then then that he realizes he’s also still wearing last night’s clothes. Ugh. “That’s mine.”
“When did you get this?” Taehyung asks, holding the sweater up. “This is really expensive.”
“Uh, for my birthday or something,” Jimin replies, snatching the sweater out of Taehyung’s hands. He runs over to his own bag and picks out some clothes at random before dashing into the bathroom. “I forgot I had it and didn’t wear it much but, uh, I found it again and wanted to give it some use.”
“It’s nice,” Taehyung calls through the door. “You should wear it more often.”
Jimin blushes, staring at himself in the mirror. There are dark bruises under his eyes, but the swelling in his nose has gone down considerably, thank god. He runs a hand through his hair, lifting the fringe to examine the dark roots that are starting to appear under the blonde dye. He’s going to need that done when he gets back to Seoul.
It’s then that he notices something on the bathroom counter. A pair of dark sunglasses sit innocuously, folded neatly and placed to the side. Jimin doesn’t need to check the designer label to know that they’re also Jungkook’s. When Jimin hesitantly slides them onto his face, he’s not surprised at all to see that they cover up his bruises easily.
When Jimin comes out of the bathroom, Taehyung is scrolling through his phone with a frown on his face.
“What’s up?” Jimin asks, tugging at the hem of Jungkook’s oversized hoodie. The sleeves are too long and Jimin twists the material between his fingers.
“Some paparazzi got a shot of Jungkook dropping you off last night,” Taehyung says, and Jimin’s blood runs cold.
“What?” he says, his voice sounding as if it were coming from very far away.
Taehyung passes his phone to Jimin. “You can’t actually see yourself but they tabloids are all talking about how Jungkook was seen with a guy with blonde hair last night. Nothing about the hospital, which is good, but they were commenting about how you guys were in that Corolla and not Jungkook’s Ferrari.”
“We left it at the hospital with his friend,” Jimin says absently, scrolling through the photos. There’s one that’s clearly of Jungkook when he’d turned around to look at the photographer out the back window. Jimin can’t see himself really, but the outline of his head indicates that he’s probably not a girl with long hair. “We didn’t want to get followed to the hotel.”
Taehyung hums. “Well, nothing we can do now,” he says. “Some bad luck press for Jungkook but hopefully his publicist can spin it so that you’re just a friend or something.”
“I am, though,” Jimin says, handing the phone back to Taehyung. “Just a friend. Or something.”
“Well, I know that. And you know that. And Jungkook knows that. But the public doesn’t and they won’t see it that way. You know that, Jiminie.”
With a resigned sigh, Jimin nods. He feels bad. After all the trouble Jungkook went through, he still got caught by the cameras. Jimin hopes that Jungkook’s not in too much trouble for it.
“Come on,” Taehyung says. He stands up and tosses Jimin his bag from the foot of the bed. “Let’s go shopping. You love spending money you don’t have. It always makes you feel better.”
Jimin rolls his eyes but slings the strap of his bag over his shoulder anyway. “You’re so funny, Taehyung, wow,” he deadpans, but when Taehyung just flashes him a crazy grin, Jimin can’t help but smile too. He’s never going to see Jungkook again, so there’s no point in dwelling about his fate. In two days Jimin’s going to be back at school training for his showcase and last night will just be a distant memory and a funny story to tell his grandkids in the future.
For whatever reason, Taehyung takes them to Ginza first.
“You do remember that half of your food cupboard is instant noodle cups, right?” Jimin asks, peering into an Armani store they pass by. “You can’t afford anything here.”
“Correction, you can’t afford anything here,” Taehyung replies. “Why do you think I eat so much ramen? It’s the cheapest thing to buy.”
“When you get scurvy in your Gucci pajamas, don’t come crying to me,” Jimin huffs, pushing Jungkook’s sunglasses higher up his nose.
“Where did you get those anyway?” Taehyung asks. “They were in the bathroom but I’ve never seen them before.”
“Uh. Another birthday present.”
Taehyung shoots him a knowing look but thankfully doesn’t press any further. He drags Jimin in and out of enough stores that Jimin’s head starts to spin a little with the remnants of his hangover.
“I’m just going to wait here,” Jimin says when they finally come across the Gucci store. “Or maybe I’ll wander around a bit. I know you’ll be awhile.”
Taehyung waves a hand in Jimin’s general direction, clearly too entranced with the storefront to have heard him. He disappears inside a moment later, leaving Jimin standing by himself on the street.
There’s plenty of other shops around, but nothing that Jimin can afford. Still, he meanders into the Saint Laurent store next door, mostly to find a place sit down. However, a floral suit off to the side catches his eye and he wanders over to examine it.
He’s moved down the racks a little ways when someone behind him says, “I don’t think that suit is your colour. The sweater you’re wearing, though? Looks good on you.”
Jimin whirls around, his heart beating hard in his chest. He expects it to be a condescending store employee but instead he finds himself face to face with Jungkook.
“JK,” Jimin says, surprised but still conscious of the public setting. “Uh. Hi.”
Jungkook flashes him a small smile. “Fancy seeing you here. I didn’t take you for a Saint Laurent guy.”
“I’m not,” Jimin replies. “You think I can afford any of this stuff?”
Jungkook shrugs but doesn’t answer, so Jimin adds, “Taehyung’s next door.”
“Ah, Gucci,” Jungkook says, eyes crinkling. He’s bare-faced today. Jimin likes the way Jungkook’s eyes light up when he talks, and the way his teeth stick out a little when he smiles. Like a bunny. He suddenly recalls Taehyung telling him that Jungkook uses the rabbit emoji in his tweets a lot because his fans always commented on his bunny teeth. They weren’t wrong.
“Um, so, what brings you here?” Jimin asks, scuffing his shoe against the floor. “I thought you were supposed to stay home this weekend.”
“Well. I left my sweater and sunglasses at a friend’s place last night,” Jungkook says. He’s teasing, but Jimin still feels his face heat up. “I needed some new stuff.”
“S-sorry,” Jimin stutters, tugging at the sleeves of his stolen sweater. “You can have them back if you want.”
Jungkook shakes his head with a little laugh. “Nah,” he says. “Keep them. They look better on you anyway, hyung.”
If possible, Jimin flushes even more, which is stupid. Just because Jungkook pays him a few compliments doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t change that Jungkook is a tabloid media darling.
“Well, thanks,” Jimin says. “The glasses hide the bruising pretty well.”
Jungkook’s face falls and he rubs at the back of his neck, suddenly shy. Jimin hates it. “Is it bad?” he asks. “I feel terrible about that, by the way.”
Jimin shrugs. “It’s fine. As long as it clears up in time for my dance showcase in a couple weeks it should be fine.”
“You dance?” Jungkook asks, surprised. For a moment, Jimin is also surprised. He knows so much about Jungkook that he had forgotten that he hadn’t really offered Jungkook anything other than his name the night before.
“Uh, yeah, it’s my major at university,” he says.
Jungkook smiles. “My hyung would like you,” he says. “He’s a very good dancer.”
“Introduce me sometime,” Jimin says and then clamps his mouth shut. Sometime? This morning he had told himself he wasn’t going to see Jungkook anymore and now they were planning a next time? A sometime?
“Sure,” Jungkook says, and then glances around the store. “Uh, do you want to get out of here?”
“And do what?” Jimin asks warily. “Are you going to kidnap me again?”
Jungkook blushes. “It’s not kidnapping if you agree to come with me,” he says. He’s pouting and Jimin can’t help but laugh. He knows he shouldn’t, that he should go back to Taehyung and let Jungkook disappear into the bustle of Tokyo but - something holds him back. Despite his media persona, the Jungkook Jimin has glimpsed over the last 18 hours has been - nice. Cute, even, and that intrigues Jimin.
“Okay,” Jimin says, and Jungkook looks up at him, surprised. “Be my tour guide today?”
Jungkook smiles, bunny teeth on full display. “Definitely,” he says. “I’ll show you everything there is to see here.”
“Perfect,” Jimin replies, and dutifully follows Jungkook out of the store.
Taehyung seems moderately okay with being ditched - again.
“Good thing I made some friends last night,” he says into the phone as Jimin follows Jungkook down the street to a parking garage. “I’ll call them maybe. You have fun on your date.”
“It’s not - Taehyung!” Jimin splutters, but all he gets is some laughter before Taehyung hangs up. He’s so preoccupied with his thoughts that he almost runs into Jungkook’s back.
Jungkook smiles at him, a little cheeky, and Jimin flushes before noticing the car. “You’re still driving Namjoon-hyung’s car?”
Jungkook shrugs. “Even though the paparazzi know what I’m driving, it’s still less obvious than the Ferrari.”
“Fair enough,” Jimin replies. Jungkook looks out of place, standing next to the car in his all-black ensemble. He’s quite the contrast to Jimin’s dark green hoodie and bright blonde hair.
Jungkook drives them out of Ginza, humming along idly to something playing on the radio. He looks relaxed in comparison to the night before when his grip on the steering wheel had been a death grip. Without much of a second thought, Jimin pulls his Polaroid camera from his bag and snaps a photo.
“What are you doing?” Jungkook asks. It’s an innocent enough question but the smile slides off his face, like he’s anxious to know the answer.
“You looked - good,” Jimin says, pulling the photocard from the camera and shaking it a little. He knows it doesn’t do anything but it’s a habit now.
Jungkook looks like he wants to say more. He opens his mouth but then shuts it again. “Okay,” he says after a moment. He turns down a side street and finds them another parking spot. “Okay, let’s go.”
Jimin gets out of the car and looks around. “Where are we?” he asks. Jungkook waves at him to follow him back out onto the main street, so Jimin follows, staring almost comically at the colourful assortment of stores and street fashion around him.
“Welcome to Harajuku,” Jungkook says, and then leads the way into the crowds.
Jimin’s not a resentful person. He likes having a good time and he likes when the people around him are happy. He may have had some superimposed ideas of what Jungkook was like and what spending the day with him would entail, but Jimin is pleasantly surprised to be having a great time touring Harajuku with the idol.
“Hyung, try this hat on,” Jungkook tells him, tossing Jimin a hat with a goofy face printed across the brim. Jimin rolls his eyes but does as he’s told. It’s maybe worth it to see Jungkook smile. He tries on countless hats for Jungkook, lets himself be dragged from store to store, and can’t help but capture each moment with his Polaroid.
“Can I see?” Jungkook asks, peering at the developing photo of Jungkook contemplating a display of Hello Kitty stuffed animals.
Jimin holds the picture away from Jungkook’s prying eyes. “Nope,” he says, tucking the picture into his bag. “It’s a secret.”
Jungkook pouts. It’s stupidly cute. “Please?” he asks.
“Maybe later,” Jimin replies. It’s getting close to nightfall and Jimin hates the implication that there will still be a later. They’ve already spent most of the afternoon together wandering around Harajuku.
The answer seems to satisfy Jungkook though. “Alright,” he says. He nudges Jimin out the door of the shop and down the street. “Do you want anything to eat?”
Jimin shrugs. “I could eat,” he says nonchalantly, but his growling stomach gives him away. Jungkook shoots him an amused look but gestures down the street.
“I know a good place down this way,” he says, and then, “You’re not a vegetarian, are you?”
Jimin laughs. “No, no, it’s fine,” he says. “I’ll eat anything, honestly.”
Jungkook offers him another shy smile, and Jimin feels the urge to take a photo. He restrains himself, if only because he tells himself that that would be even weirder than some of the creepy photos he’s taken today.
The street gets progressively more crowded as they walk down it, people spilling out of shops looking for food. There’s a moment where Jimin loses sight of Jungkook, his black leather jacket disappearing into the crowd, but after squeezing around a group of American tourists, Jimin finds him again.
“I thought I lost you, hyung,” Jungkook says, biting his lip. “You’re so short - “
“Oh, shut up,” Jimin says, rolling his eyes, but he’s glad to have found Jungkook again too. “You’re such a brat.”
Jungkook laughs, but before he sets off down the street again he grabs Jimin’s hand. “So we don’t get lost again,” he says, but Jimin can see the faint blush on his cheeks in the fading sunlight.
Jungkook’s hand is a lot bigger than his own, Jimin notices. He’s always hated his own hands, hated how small they were - and Taehyung never lets him forget it - but he doesn’t mind the way his hand seems to fit perfectly in Jungkook’s. He doesn’t want to think about it too much.
Jungkook leads him to a small hole in the wall. It’s early enough that it’s not too busy yet, which is good. There’s no one in line at the ordering machine, so Jungkook steps right up to it, fishing around in his pocket for his wallet. Jimin goes to grab his two, but Jungkook yanks on his arm.
“Ouch, are you trying to remove my arm from its socket?” Jimin asks, yanking back.
“Sorry,” Jungkook says, looking a little alarmed. “I just meant - I mean. My treat?”
Jimin eyes him carefully.
“Like, I was just going to order. Because I know what’s good here and. I could pay? I was just going to pay. But I don’t want you to feel bad or anything. If you want you could pay. I just - “
“Jungkookie,” Jimin says, surprising himself with the nickname. Jungkook looks equally as stunned. “It’s fine. I mean, free food for me, yeah?”
Jungkook’s smile is so big and bright Jimin looks away reflexively, examining the ordering machine. There’s a lot of beef dishes it looks like, and he waits patiently as Jungkook picks out a couple of rice bowls and then feeds the money into the machine. They’re still holding hands, but Jimin doesn’t say anything.
There’s one table left for them, near the door. Jungkook looks a little apprehensive, like he’d like a spot further in the restaurant, but Jimin pushes him down into the seat least visible from the window and says, “No one’s noticed you all day. You’re fine.”
Jungkook nods, handing their receipt from the machine to the waiter who walks by and fiddles with his hat. The silence between them stretches, but it’s not awkward. At least, it’s not uncomfortable. It feels the same as when Jimin’s gone out to eat with people Taehyung tries to set him up with.
It feels like a date.
“So - “ Jimin starts, just as Jungkook begins to say, “Hyung - “ They both laugh.
“You go,” JImin says, trying not to fidget in his seat.
Jungkook ducks his head and then glances up at Jimin from under his hat. Stupid, endearing bunny, Jimin thinks.
“Oh, uh, I was just going to ask if you could, uh, tell me about yourself?”
If not for the fact that Jungkook looks like he’s about to pass out from nerves, Jimin would laugh. Instead, he asks, “Have you ever done this before?”
Jungkook straightens up. “What do you mean?”
Jimin shrugs and then gestures at the restaurant. “Taken someone out for dinner,” he asks, and then, “Gone on a date?”
Jungkook’s face turns a deep shade of red. “Uh - “
“It’s okay if you haven’t,” Jimin says, but something warm blooms in the pit of his stomach at the idea of being Jungkook’s first date.
Jungkook bites his lip and then shakes his head. “I guess - I haven’t had a lot of time to go on dates,” he says quietly. “And sometimes it’s hard. People are always looking at me.”
Jimin nods. Even if Jungkook weren’t famous, Jimin’s sure he’d still turn heads. He’s handsome and tall and just a little shy. The perfect combination, Jimin thinks.
“Well, how’s it been, then?” Jimin asks, leaning back as the waiter comes back with their food. His stomach growls again. “Living up to your first date expectations?”
Jungkook’s looking at him with an expression that looks half amused and half fond. Jimin takes out his camera and snaps a photo of him with their food on the table. He puts the developing photo in his bag without even looking at it.
“Yeah,” Jungkook says, voice soft. He nudges Jimin’s foot under the table with his own. “It’s been pretty good so far.”
Jimin nudges him back.
Jungkook takes him back to Namjoon’s car after dinner.
To say he’s disappointed that the night is over would be an understatement, but Jimin tries not to let it show on his face. Instead, he snaps a picture of Jungkook climbing into the driver’s seat before opening the passenger side door.
“So,” Jungkook says as Jimin’s doing up his seatbelt. “I could take you back to your hotel if you want but, uh, I was hoping that we could do one more thing tonight?”
He won’t look at Jimin, like maybe if he doesn’t look he won’t be disappointed by whatever he thinks he’ll find in Jimin’s expression. Jimin sucks in a breath. He hasn’t heard from Taehyung all day, which means he’s having a good time with Jungkook’s friends. If he goes back to the hotel it’ll just be him by himself.
“No, we can do the thing,” Jimin says, trying to sound nonchalant. He thinks he misses by a mile, judging from the happy look on Jungkook’s face.
Jungkook drives for a long time, through narrow streets and busy roads. Jimin splits his time between staring out the window and looking at Jungkook. Neither option is a bad view.
When Jungkook finally begins to slow the car down, Jimin can’t help but gape. “Tokyo Disney?” he asks, incredulous. “Really?”
Jungkook bites his lip. “Do you not like Disney?” he asks carefully, in what Jimin has recognized as his I’m sorry I disappointed you voice. “Or - is it too much? I can turn around. I can just take you home instead.”
Jimin stares at him, incredulous. “Are you kidding?” he asks. “This is awesome.”
Beside him, Jungkook exhales.
This time, Jimin doesn’t bother to argue with Jungkook about the price of admission. For one thing, Jimin wouldn’t want to pay the price himself anyway, but Jungkook looks so eager to impress him and be the perfect gentleman. It makes Jimin’s stomach flutter with butterflies. He didn’t know anyone could be as nice as Jungkook, let alone Jungkook himself. Absently, Jimin wonders if all idols are as nice and down-to-earth as Jungkook.
They wander around the park together, hand-in-hand. Everything feels perfect, from buying candy at one of the little themed stores, to trying on silly character hats in the souvenir shop.
“I like that one on you, hyung,” Jungkook says, nodding towards the Mickey Mouse hat Jimin’s got perched on his head, swallowing up his blonde hair. It’s different from the traditional mouse ears, and even though Jimin thinks he looks absolutely ridiculous, he loves how much the hat makes Jungkook smile. “Let me buy it for you?”
“Jungkookie - “ Jimin starts, but Jungkook shakes his head.
Jimin is so weak.
Jungkook doesn’t buy anything for himself, opting to keep his bucket hat on instead. Jimin waits for him at the door to the shop, watching Jungkook interact with the cashier. She obviously knows who he is, but Jungkook presses a finger to his lips and winks at her. It makes the girl blush, but she nods her head furiously and runs his card. Jimin steps outside to wait.
It’s not that he’s jealous or anything. This is one date with Jungkook. It doesn’t mean anything. But there’s something about seeing Jungkook flirt with other people, almost like acting. The Jungkook Jimin knows now is shy and awkward and not good at being suave. The Jungkook at the counter buying his hate looked put together and mature. Like he knew what he was doing and how to play people just right.
“Here,” Jungkook says, a moment later, startling Jimin slightly. He carefully pulls the hat down over Jimin’s hair, reaching out to brush Jimin’s bangs away so that he can see. It’s such an intimate gesture that Jimin can’t help but shiver. In response, Jungkook pulls his hand away, almost like he’d been burned.
“Shall we - uh. Do you want to go on some rides?” Jimin asks, nervous.
Jungkook nods and tentatively takes Jimin’s hand again. With a small sigh, Jimin laces their fingers together. He’s not going to let one silly, meaningless interaction ruin the night for him.
They go on a few different rides, from rollercoasters to jungle explorations. Finally, they end up at the spinning tea cups.
“Really?” Jimin asks, but Jungkook just shrugs with a soft smile.
“They look nice,” is all he says, so Jimin follows him into the line and then into a teacup when the ride comes to a halt.
When the ride starts up again, Jimin can’t help but smile. It’s pretty tame, but it’s nice too, like being in their own little bubble. Other tea cups go whizzing by, each one holding a couple or family with huge smiles on their faces. From the way his cheeks ache, Jimin can tell he’s smiling too.
“Pass me your camera,” Jungkook says after a moment. His long legs are stretched out across the cup, bracketing Jimin’s own. “Let me take a picture of you.”
Jimin obliges, holding onto his hat with one hand while he fishes the camera out of his bag with the other. He smiles for Jungkook, closing his eyes as the teacup spins faster, whirling them around.
The sound of the shutter goes off, the whirring noise cutting through the sound of laughter as the camera prints out the picture.
“Can I see?” Jimin asks, taking the camera from Jungkook and putting it back in his bag.
Jungkook shakes his head, staring fondly at the picture before tucking it into his pocket. “It’s a secret,” he says, offering Jimin a small smile. Jimin just laughs in response.
They find a little secluded picnic table next to a closed food stand and sit down for awhile.
“You never answered my question from earlier,” Jungkook says. He’s fiddling with one of the rings on Jimin’s finger, twisting it carefully even though there’s no design on it.
“Which one?” Jimin asks.
“I wanted you to tell me about yourself.”
Jimin laughs. “What’s there to know? I’m just a college student studying dance.”
Jungkook bites his lip and looks up. Half his face is shrouded in darkness, now that the sun’s gone and the brim of his hat is still pulled low. “I just - I don’t know anything about that,” he says finally. “I’ve been an idol since I was 15. I don’t really know anything about college.”
Jimin sucks in a breath. Jesus. He knows what it’s like to leave home at a young age to pursue something seemingly meaningless, a fleeting fancy, but he can’t imagine not having a boring, normal lifestyle. Dance is an unconventional major, but Jimin still has to do his own grocery shopping and housekeeping, and he has to keep up with his homework on top of it all.
“I mean, it’s not really that exciting,” he says quietly, but he squeezes Jungkook’s fingers lightly, as if in reassurance. “Some of my classes are boring but I have to take them to get my degree. Some of them are hard, and I have to work at those, but I’m no stranger to hard work.”
Jungkook nods. “Do you like it?” he asks. “Or - do you wish you were doing something different?”
Jimin can hear the underlying questions Jungkook’s asking. Should I regret becoming an idol? Should I have gone to university like a normal person? Jimin’s never been crazy about idols, but doesn’t want Jungkook to doubt himself. He’s made a career for himself, especially if he’s being asked to be in American movies.
“I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” Jimin says, offering Jungkook a smile when their eyes meet. “And so are you.”
“I guess it all worked out in the end.”
Jimin laughs, tipping his head back far enough that he has to hold onto his hat to make sure it doesn’t fall off. Jungkook’s looking at him with a fond expression when Jimin straightens up.
“Okay,” Jimin says, around his giggles. “Your turn. Tell me about yourself.”
Jungkook frowns. “What’s there to know?” he asks. “My life is public. You can find everything from my hometown to my blood type on the internet.” He sounds despondent, vaguely upset, and Jimin hates that. He hates the way Jungkook’s mood seems to flip like a switch whenever his fame gets brought up.
“Okay, one: I don’t know what your hometown is. Taehyung’s your fan, not me, remember? And two: someone like me wouldn’t know anything about what it’s like to be famous like you. Tell me about your life, Jungkookie.”
It’s the nickname that does it, probably. Jungkook peers at Jimin for a long moment before reluctantly saying, “I’m from Busan.”
Jimin feels his jaw drop. “No way,” he says. “Me too!”
Jungkook looks equally as surprised. “Really?” he asks. “I couldn’t tell, actually.”
“I moved to Seoul when I was 15,” Jimin replies. “For dance. I don’t really have an accent anymore.”
Jungkook hums. “We’re more alike than I thought,” he says, but quietly, almost to himself. Like he’s filing the information away for later. Jimin can’t help but smile.
“Tell me about your friends,” Jimin says, trying to steer the conversation back on track with more direct questions. “How did you become friends with Namjoon-hyung?”
“Through my friend, Seokjin-hyung,” Jungkook replies easily. “It was his birthday, at the club yesterday.” When Jimin nods, Jungkook adds, “They’ve been friends for awhile. We were introduced while Namjoon-hyung was still in med school. He couldn’t get a job in Seoul but he found one in Tokyo. Seokjin-hyung spends a lot of time here because of it, so I started visiting a lot too. And then my other friends tagged along as well.”
He looks happy, talking about his friends. Jimin squeezes his hand encouragingly.
“My friend Hobi-hyung - he’s the dancer I told you about - I met him through my company,” Jungkook continues. “He used to dance for me on tour but we became really good friends and even though he’s not part of my crew anymore, we still hang out. And the DJ at the club yesterday - Agust D? That’s my friend Yoongi-hyung. I met him at that club, actually.”
The more Jungkook talks, the more animated he gets. He lets go of Jimin’s hand to gesture, his whole body telling a story. Jimin is fascinated. It’s like watching someone come alive. Gone is the shy, nervous Jungkook that Jimin’s caught a glimpse of over the day. Instead, he’s been replaced by someone happy and excitable and genuine. Someone real.
Jimin’s not sure what his face is doing, but Jungkook catches his eye for a moment and then pauses. “Sorry,” he says, dropping his hands to his lap. The smile fades off his face. “I’m boring you, aren’t I?”
“What makes you say that?” Jimin asks, kicking Jungkook lightly. “I liked listening to you.”
Jungkook looks at him, suspicious. “Really?” he asks.
“Sure. I asked, right? I wanted to know what your life was like, what you’re friends are like.”
Jungkook shrugs. “No one else cares, I guess,” he says after a moment. “No one else ever wants to listen to me like that.”
Jimin feels his heart crack right down the middle. He’s sitting at a picnic table in Tokyo Disney across from a beautiful boy who, despite having the world at his fingertips, is desperately lonely. Jimin wishes he could give Jungkook everything he deserves.
Jungkook has gone back to staring at the table, head ducked so that Jimin can’t see his eyes. “Hey,” Jimin says, reaching out across the distance. He rests his hand on the top of Jungkook’s hat, and when Jungkook looks up, his hand slides down so that it can cup Jungkook’s cheek. It’s a little awkward; Jimin’s leaning halfway across the table, but Jungkook’s eyes are so big and - hopeful. He looks hopeful.
“Thank you, for today,” Jimin says, sweeping his thumb across Jungkook’s cheek bone. His skin is so soft. “It was the perfect date.”
“Everything in my life is so public,” Jungkook mumbles. “But not here. Not with you.” He leans across the table and plucks the sunglasses off of Jimin’s face. His hands comes up, fingers tracing delicately along the bruising under Jimin’s eye. “I can just be myself with you.”
Jimin laughs, delighted. “Where’d you learn such cheesy lines like that?”
“Are they too much?” Jungkook asks. He looks a little nervous. “Did I ruin the moment?”
“Jungkookie,” Jimin scolds. They’re so close now that they’re foreheads bump, and Jimin’s Mickey Mouse hat gets pushed off his head by Jungkook’s wandering hands. “You didn’t ruin anything. I promise. This was the best day of my life.”
Jungkook closes the distance between them and kisses Jimin.
They go on a few more rides after that, but mostly they spend a lot of time giggling and pushing each other into the shadows of closed food stalls for more kisses. Jimin can’t remember the last time he was this happy.
Jungkook obviously feels the same way, if his smile is anything to go by. He flashes Jimin his infamous bunny smile so often that Jimin thinks it’s probably just a permanent fixture on his face now. He hopes it is. Jungkook deserves to be happy.
Jimin takes more pictures, selfies mostly this time. He’s not sure how they all turn out because it’s dark outside now, but they stand under lamps, squished together in the hopes that they’ll both be in the frame. Honestly, Jimin doesn’t care. It could have half his face in it and it’d still be the best picture he’s ever taken.
They watch the fireworks together, Jimin tucked into Jungkook’s embrace as he hugs Jimin from behind. If he could bottle up one moment forever and relive it whenever he wants, it would be this moment for sure.
“Hyung,” Jungkook says, breath ghosting over the shell of Jimin’s ear, making him shiver. “I’m really glad I hit you with the bathroom door yesterday.”
Jimin laughs. He can’t help it. He’s just so damn happy. “You know, Jungkookie? I’m glad too.”
Eventually, they’re ushered out the front gates along with the last few stragglers inside the park. It’s weird, stepping into the darkness of the parking lot, like something magical was left behind in the theme park.
Maybe that should’ve been Jimin’s first clue.
He can just make out Namjoon’s car in the distance, but something about it makes him squint. He realizes, at the same time Jungkook does, that it’s a man with a camera. In fact, there are several people with cameras swarmed around the car.
“Oh my god,” Jungkook whispers, his hand squeezing painfully tight around Jimin’s own. He pulls them back until they’re standing in the shadow of the ticket booth. “How did they find me?”
Jimin glances back at the paparazzi and then up into Jungkook’s face. He’s gone as white as a ghost, his lips pressed into a thin line. His hands are trembling.
“It’s okay,” Jimin says quietly. “I don’t mind, Jungkook.”
“But I do,” Jungkook replies. “Besides. I’m not supposed to be here. They can’t photograph me. I’m supposed to be at home.”
It’s a familiar mantra, one that Jimin heard countless times the night before, but it feels like he’s suddenly hit with a wave of reality. It’s like every platitude Jungkook fed him in the park disappears in the face of what Jungkook is saying between the lines here.
I can’t be photographed with you.
Jimin feels a little like he might be sick.
“Do you do this with everyone?” he asks, remembering the cashier in the souvenir store, shying under Jungkook’s gaze. “You see someone you like and you just - you just string them along? Play them?”
Jungkook tears his eyes away from the paparazzi in the distance. “What?” he asks, confused. “No. Hyung, what are you talking about?”
“This!” Jimin exclaims wildly, wrenching his hand from Jungkook’s and throwing his arms out. “You gave me this perfect day, a day I’ll never forget for the rest of my life and now that we’re faced with reality again you’re going to tell me it’s not going to work out, aren’t you?”
Jungkook bites his lip. He looks like he wants to say something, but he doesn’t.
Jimin hates the way his throat closes up as he holds back a sob. Tears prick at the corner of his eyes but he refuses to let them fall.
“They - Jimin,” Jungkook says, quietly and intimately, no honourifics between them. “You don’t know what it’s like. They’ll take what we have and they’ll twist it. They’ll make up stories about you. Terrible, ugly things that aren’t anything what you’re really like. They’ll ruin everything.”
It’s funny, how just an hour ago Jungkook had been worried about whether or not his cheesy admission had wrecked the mood. Jimin wants to laugh but he’s not sure if his voice will hold up. “Too late, asshole,” he hisses. “You already did.”
He turns on his heel and starts walking away, towards the taxi stand where other park-goers have congregated. Jungkook looks heartbroken, staring after Jimin with wide puppy-dog eyes. Jimin hates him. He hates him more than he ever did before they met. He hates him more than he’ll probably hate anyone ever again.
And yet, as he’s walking away, he still hopes Jungkook will call out to him.
Jungkook hasn’t moved out of the shadows. He should look imposing, tall and dressed in all black, but somehow, he just looks incredibly small. Jimin’s heart thumps painfully in his chest.
“I - I need the pictures.”
Jungkook fiddles with the zipper on his jacket. “The pictures you took today. I need them. No one can know about what we did today.”
If Jimin weren’t crying, he’d be seeing red. As it is, he can’t say much of anything. He rips open his bag, frantically rifling around the bottom for all the loose Polaroids floating around. His hands close around them all and he flings them at Jungkook, watching them float aimlessly in the space between them.
“You can have them,” he says, aware that he’s shouting, knowing that the paparazzi have probably caught wind of them. “There’s nothing about today that I’d want to remember anyway.”
This time, when he walks away, Jungkook doesn’t call him back.
Taehyung takes one look at Jimin when he walks through the door to their hotel room and frowns.
“What happened?” he asks, but Jimin just shakes his head. He throws his sunglasses across the room along with the stupid Mickey Mouse hat. The sweater is the next thing to go, the long sleeves tangling around him as he tries to pull it off. Jimin feels the sob well up in his throat before a pair of gangly arms help him to gently pry the sweater off. He falls into Taehyung’s arms, half naked and crying, which would embarrass Jimin any other time.
Now he just feels too sad to feel much of anything else at all.
As planned, Jimin doesn’t remember much of the rest of the weekend.
He stays in on their last day and drinks all the alcohol in the mini-bar fridge. Taehyung comes back from sightseeing to find him passed out at four in the afternoon wearing only his boxers and a bathrobe.
Going back to Korea is better, Jimin decides. There’s nothing here to remind him of Jungkook except for giant billboards and advertisements at every bus stop. Still, the Jungkook that stares at him from those is Jungkook the idol. There’s nothing there that reminds Jimin of soft looks and cute bunny smiles, of hands clasped together and lips brushing lips.
Taehyung tries to get him to talk about it.
“I can’t tell you,” Jimin says wearily, a few days after they get back. They’re sprawled in the living room of Jimin’s one-bedroom off campus. “I’m not allowed to talk about it.”
“That’s such bullshit,” Taehyung mutters. “I can’t believe - he’s such an asshole!’
Jimin laughs but there’s no humour to it.
If he could, he’d wallow in his misery forever, but life goes on. His dance showcase is coming up fast and the rehearsals leave him drained of all energy. Even feeling sad feels like too much effort. He eats, sleeps, goes to class, goes to practice, and then repeats the whole process. There’s no room in his life to dwell on Jungkook, and that’s the way Jimin likes it. Everything is almost like how it was before.
Before, Jimin had gone over to Taehyung’s dorm room to study only to be creeped out by the frankly ridiculous number of Jungkook posters on the wall. Now, there’s no trace of the idol. The cinder block walls in Taehyung’s dorm are empty, the paint cool to the touch as Jimin runs his fingers over the bareness of it all.
“It was time for a change,” Taehyung says, like removing his obsession of at least three years is as easy as anything. Jimin feels infinitely grateful.
Before, both their phones would have sat silent on the floor while they were studying. Now, Taehyung’s seems to light up every minute with notifications.
“Are you seeing someone?” Jimin asks when Taehyung picks up his phone for the fifth time in fifteen minutes, frowning at the screen. “And you didn’t tell me?”
Taehyung looks guilty for a moment, but his expression smooths over. “I didn’t want you to feel more sad,” he says. Taehyung’s a good liar, but Jimin can see right through the excuse, but there’s no point in calling Taehyung out on it. If there’s one thing that Taehyung is good for, it’s keeping secrets.
“Fine, be that way,” Jimin says, rolling over and going back to his calculus homework. It’s a first year course that he’s put off until now, but the math is soothing in a way. Everything about it is black and white. There’s no mixed signals, no grey areas. Just the truth.
Before, Jimin would be tired but content. Before, he would’ve taken photos with his Polaroid camera and hung them up on the walls, or given them to Taehyung to keep. Before, he would have longed to take a trip to a Disney theme park.
Now, Jimin is exhausted and sad. Now, he buries his Polaroid in the back of a drawer and tries to forget about all the pictures its printed out that he unwillingly gave away. Now, he never wants to see anything Disney related ever again.
Now, everything sucks.
By the time the showcase arrives, Jimin feels like he’s running on empty. He can’t remember the last time he got more than three hours of sleep in one sitting, can’t remember the last time he made to his early morning class. He feels absolutely drained, but even so, he doesn’t want the cycle to end. With the showcase over, he won’t have anything to keep all his extra hours occupied. His mind will finally be free to wander.
Jimin knows what it’ll wander back to and he doesn’t like it.
“You look like you’re going to be sick,” Taehyung says as they walk over to the dance hall. “You’re never this nervous before a show.”
Jimin shrugs. “Guess I’m just not feeling myself,” he says.
Taehyung stops him with a hand on his arm. “Jiminie,” he says, and Jimin has to close his eyes against the expression on Taehyung’s face. He doesn’t want to be pitied.
“I’m just worried about you,” Taehyung says, dragging Jimin in for a hug. “You’ve just been so - different, since Tokyo. I hate how sad you are all the time. It makes me sad too.”
Jimin sighs, sniffing a little. “I don’t want you to feel sad too, Taetae,” he murmurs. “I’m sorry. I’m a mess, but I’ll be better after the showcase. I promise.”
There’s no conviction to his words, but Taehyung lets it go anyway. He walks Jimin to the studio door and gives him another hug. “I’ll see you later,” he says, gesturing towards the main entrance the audience is supposed to go through. “Break a leg. Love you.”
“Love you too,” Jimin says. He inhales deeply and glances at the door. As much as he’s worried about what will consume his thoughts when the showcase is over, he has to focus now. He can’t be thinking about Jungkook now, not when he has to perform. So, with a roll of his shoulders, Jimin banishes every thought of Tokyo and Jungkook from his mind and heads inside.
In the hours leading up to the show, Jimin feels like he’s just going through the motions. He warms up in the practice room, stretches with his classmates, eats a sandwich, but it feels like an out-of-body experience. He feels like he’s watching himself as if from very far away.
“Jimin,” his teacher calls just as Jimin’s heading towards wardrobe and makeup.
“Yes?” Jimin asks, pausing in the hallway.
“Can I speak with you for a moment?”
Jimin feels like the bottom of his stomach might fall out, but he squares his shoulders and heads back down the hall. Has he been too caught up in his head? Are they cutting him out of the showcase? He knows he’s the best contemporary dancer in the program but being the best doesn’t keep anyone from getting cut if they can’t keep up.
His teacher leads him into an empty dressing room, closing the door part-way behind them. Jimin leans against the makeup tables, trying not to let his emotions show.
“Is everything alright?” his teacher asks, hands on her hips and head tilted to the side. If Jimin didn’t know she was such a drill sergeant he’d go as far as to say she looked rather cute like that.
“Just had a lot on my mind lately,” Jimin admits. “I had some - personal conflicts the last couple weeks.”
His teachers nods sagely. “I figured something of the sort,” she murmurs, more to herself than to Jimin.
“But I’ll be in top form for the showcase, I promise,” Jimin adds. “Dance is the only thing that’s been helping me lately.”
His teacher looks amused. “I didn’t call you in here to reprimand you,” she says, and when Jimin just looks at her confusedly she adds, “I wanted to tell you that even if you feel like you can’t talk to me about whatever it is that’s bothering you, dance is an outlet. Let your emotion guide you through your performances today. Expel the negativity in your body through movement. Exist, just right there, in the moment.”
Jimin exhales noisily. He’d spent the better part of the last two weeks trying to bury all his feelings under a cold layer of indifference, but maybe his teacher is right. Maybe now he should let it all go.
“I’ll try my best,” he says. His teacher just smiles at him and exits the room. A moment later, Jimin can hear her barking orders at some poor, unsuspecting person down the hall. He smiles, and a little part of his heart unfreezes.
15 minutes before Jimin’s set to take the stage, he sits down in an empty dressing room and takes his teacher’s advice. He carefully unwinds all the sloppy bandages he’d wrapped his heart in and just - feels.
He hasn’t thought of Jungkook properly since his last day in Tokyo, and even that he can’t remember well because of how much he drank. There’s not much to remember; Jimin had thrown out the Mickey Mouse hat before they even left Japan, and Jungkook has all the Polaroids. Or had them. He probably burned them.
The thought lights a fire in Jimin’s heart. Fuck him and his stupid celebrity games. Fuck Jungkook for taking those pictures from him. Like Jimin couldn’t be trusted to not show them to people, like he couldn’t be trusted to keep such precious memories to himself. He wouldn’t have even shown Taehyung, if Jungkook had told him not to.
He wants to forget, he wishes he could just pretend the trip never happened. He wishes that what he’d said to Jungkook was true: there’s nothing about today I’d want to remember anyway.
But he remembers everything, in vivid detail. The streets of Harajuku as they’d ducked in and out of shops, trying on silly hats and sunglasses. The way the light would catch Jungkook’s face every once in a while if he tilted his head just so. He remembers how it felt to sit with Jungkook in a busy restaurant and listen to his confessions, and he remembers what it was like to sit with Jungkook at a picnic table in Tokyo Disney and listen to him spill his secrets.
Two days wasn’t a very long time to fall in love, but Jimin thinks that if they’d had more time, he probably would have.
So with heartbreak heavy in his soul, Jimin drags himself out of the dressing room and to the side of the stage. The stage manager checks him off the performers list and nods at him. There’s a trio on stage at the moment, wrapping up a hip-hop dance, and Jimin bounces on the balls of his feet. He’s nervous, but he also has a good feeling about this. His teacher was right. He just has to let it all go, has to release everything he’s feeling on stage.
And once he does, he’ll be free of Jungkook forever.
Jimin kills it.
He doesn’t have to look up from where he’s kneeling on the stage,his head bowed, still frozen in his final position, to know that he’s got a standing ovation. If he listens hard enough, he’s certain he can hear Taehyung yelling somewhere in the auditorium.
It feels good.
He’s congratulated by his classmates as he heads back to the dressing room to change into his street clothes and wash off the stage makeup that he’d applied earlier. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off his shoulders; the stress of the showcase disappearing, but also the burden of Jungkook’s memory as well.
Taehyung meets him inside the back door. He’s around so much to see Jimin that none of Jimin’s classmates bat an eye at him anymore. Jimin waves at him as he comes down the hall, and Taehyung flashes him a smile, but - it’s a little off. He’s nervous, Jimin can tell, but he’s not sure why.
“Hey,” Taehyung says when Jimin approaches. “You looked awesome out there, Jiminie. I didn’t know you could dance like that.”
Jimin smacks him in the arm. “Yes you did. You’ve been watching me dance for years.”
Taehyung shrugs. “Yeah, but, it was different today. Like, I could feel it, you know?”
Yeah, Jimin knows.
“Anyway,” Taehyung continues, twisting the hem of his shirt between his fingers. Jimin frowns. Taehyung’s got on a new shirt he bought at the Gucci store in Tokyo. He wouldn’t wrinkle it if he could help it. “I - um, I gave some notes to one of your classmates and I need to get them back. Can you help me find them?”
“Now?” Jimin asks, eyebrows raised. “Just have them bring it to class.”
Taehyung frowns. “Um, I mean. Sure. But. We have a quiz next class. So I need them now.”
Jimin narrows his eyes. Taehyung flashes him a boxy grin.
“What’s going on?” he asks, but Taehyung’s already nudging him back further into the dance hall. “Tae - “
“Just - “ Taehyung pauses outside one of the empty dressing rooms. “Don’t hate me. I didn’t invite him, I swear, but he was really convincing.”
“What - ?” Jimin starts, but Taehyung pushes open the door to reveal a not-so-empty dressing room after all.
The first thing Jimin registers is that there’s a lot of people in the room. Or, more than he expected at least. He spots Namjoon, sitting on the couch talking with Seokjin, and a couple other people that he’d bet are Yoongi and Hobi.
And of course, right in the middle of it all, is Jungkook.
“What the fuck,” Jimin breathes, trying to back out the door, but Taehyung’s blocked it. He whirls around. “Let me out.”
“No,” Taehyung says, but he doesn’t sound very convincing. “Jiminie - “
“Fine,” Jimin says. “Everyone, get out. Get out!”
If Jungkook’s friends are surprised by how angry Jimin is, they don’t let on. They stand quietly and make for the door. Namjoon pats him on the shoulder on the way out and one of the strangers looks like he wants to say something but then thinks better of it. Jungkook’s still sitting in a chair in the centre of the room, but he stands when Jimin glares at him.
“No,” Taehyung says, backing out the door and snatching the handle out of Jimin’s grasping hands. “You stay. You two have some shit to work out.” He slams the door behind him, and when Jimin tries the handle, he finds it won’t budge. There’s no locks on the door, so Taehyung must be holding onto it from the other side. Jimin didn’t know he was so strong.
He rests his head against the door for a moment. So much for cleansing himself of Jungkook. He can practically feel the holes Jungkook’s gaze is burning into his back, the prickly feeling of being watched.
“I have your stuff,” Jimin says finally. “Not here with me, but - I can give them back to you.”
“Keep them,” Jungkook replies quietly. “I already told you, they look better on you anyway.”
It's that, more than anything else, that hurts Jimin the most. More than seeing Jungkook again, more than knowing that he probably saw Jimin dance.
“What are you doing here?” Jimin asks, turning around slowly. Jungkook’s sitting down again and he looks tired. Jimin gets a little satisfaction from seeing the dark circles under Jungkook's eyes, the exhaustion clear in the way he holds himself, but mostly Jimin wishes Jungkook would take better care of himself.
“Hobi-hyung said you had a showcase,” Jungkook mumbles. “I thought - I don't know, hyung, but I wanted to see you.”
“Why, so you could break my heart all over again?” Jimin asks. “So you could string me along again and then leave me in the dust?”
“I made a mistake,” Jungkook says, looking up. “I was scared. Hyung, please. Let me explain.”
Jimin knows he shouldn't. He should send Jungkook packing, send him back to Tokyo and out of his life, but Jungkook's looking at him with those big brown eyes again.
“Fine,” he says. “You get five minutes.”
Jungkook just looks at him, nervous.
“You're wasting time.”
“Right,” Jungkook says, snapping out of his daze. “Right, okay. I turned down the movie deal.”
This time, it's Jimin's turn to be surprised. “What?” he asks. “Jungkook. That was. That was a big thing. America. Why would you do that?”
Jungkook fidgets. “My entire career, I've been afraid of disappointing people,” he says. “I never say no to anyone because I don't want people to think I'm ungrateful for what I have, because I'm not. My fans, my team, my friends - I owe them everything.”
“Then why'd you say no to the movie?” Jimin asks.
“Because I didn't want to do it.”
Jungkook bites his lip and looks up at Jimin from under his lashes. His expression is almost - mischievous.
“I love to sing, hyung. I love music. I don't want to make movies, even if it'll make me more money or famous or whatever. I don't need to be anymore famous.” He laughs a little, eyes squeezed shut.
He looks - young. Jimin is suddenly reminded of how old Jungkook actually is. Jimin can't imagine what it must be like, to be 20 and looking over his shoulder every minute to make sure his every move isn't being documented.
“I meant what I said about the paparazzi too,” Jungkook continues. “They’ll twist things to their own agenda and I didn’t want that to happen to you. To us. I didn’t want them to take what we have and ruin it. But like you said, I did a pretty good job of that myself.”
It’s hard to see things through Jungkook’s perspective, but Jimin thinks he has an inkling of what he feels. Jimin has a hard enough time sharing his feelings with Taehyung - he can’t imagine having to share a budding relationship with the entire world. He exhales slowly.
“I - I'm sorry.” The words surprise him. He didn't think he'd ever be the one apologizing between the two of them. “I don't understand what it's like to be you. Maybe I never will. But I was unfair to you that night. I had this idea of what idols were like before I met you, and once you showed me that you could even be a sliver of that kind of person, I got scared. I didn't want you to be like that. I wanted you to be like how you'd been all day.”
“Like what?” Jungkook asks, curiously.
Jimin inhales slowly. “Like. My Jungkookie.”
The smile on Jungkook's face is probably bright enough to light up the stage Jimin just danced on.
“I can't stop thinking about you,” Jungkook admits. He stands up, like he wants to close the distance between them. “Hyung. Jimin. I really like you. You ask me the tough questions and you make me see things about myself and my life that I haven't seen before. You’re - you’re really amazing.”
Much to his horror, Jimin feels tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. “Stop using such cheesy lines on me,” he sniffs.
Jungkook steps forward, cupping Jimin's cheeks with his hands and thumbing at the tears that have managed to escape. He runs his thumb carefully under Jimin's eye where the bruising had long since faded.
“Have I ruined it?” he murmurs. “Was it too much?”
Maybe it shouldn’t be this easy, Jimin thinks. Maybe he should make Jungkook work harder for his forgiveness, make him grovel and beg. But Jungkook’s looking at him like he’s hung the stars in the sky. He’s so different from what Jimin always thought he’d be like, shy and hopeful instead of bratty and egotistical. Or, not as bratty and egotistical as he’d always thought.
Jimin laughs at the thought, his hands coming up to grip Jungkook's wrists. “On the contrary,” he says, answering Jungkook’s question, “you've actually managed to fix everything.”
The kiss is awkward, but only because they can't stop smiling.
They pile into a barbeque place that's not too far off campus. It's full of students but everyone is too engrossed in their own things to pay them much attention. Jimin notices a few people look their way - it's hard not to with Jungkook and Seokjin sitting together - but no one bothers them.
“We've heard so much about you,” Seokjin says to Jimin after they've placed their orders. “Between Jungkook and Taehyung I feel like I know everything about you.”
Jimin feels like his face might burn off in embarrassment. “What have you been telling them?” He hisses at Taehyung.
Taehyung just grins at him. “Just that you were all mopey and that you were spending too much time at the dance studio.”
“That's why we came,” Hobi says. “I wanted to see you dance.”
Jimin shoots Jungkook a sidelong glance.
“That and Jungkook was just as mopey and sad as Taehyung said you were,” Namjoon adds. “Two birds, one stone sort of deal.”
“Well, it's nice to meet you too. Thanks for taking care of Taetae while we were in Tokyo,” Jimin says. He kicks Taehyung under the table, but judging from the expression on Namjoon's face, he might have missed.
“'Take care of’ is putting it mildly,” Yoongi says, eyeing Taehyung warily. “I've been working in Tokyo for years now and I feel like I've never seen the inside of so many bars and clubs as when we went out with Taehyung.”
“I'm keeping you young, hyung,” Taehyung says mildly, which mostly just starts an argument amongst Yoongi and Taehyung, with the others chiming in unhelpfully.
“Hey,” Jungkook says, nudging Jimin. “I, uh, have something for you.”
Jimin raises an eyebrow. “Is this part of the deluxe forgiveness package?”
Jungkook's face turns a comical shade of red. He ducks his head, stuttering something under his breath.
“Jungkookie,” Jimin says, squeezing Jungkook's hand. “Relax. I was just kidding.”
Jungkook nods, glancing at Jimin gratefully before reaching into his pocket. He pulls out a small pink book that Jimin looks at skeptically. When he opens it, though, his breath catches in his throat.
Inside are his Polaroids, the ones he'd thrown at Jungkook in the parking lot at Tokyo Disney. Some are a little dirty, but they're all there, including the ones of them together.
“Oh,” Jimin says quietly, flipping through the pictures.
“Do you like it?” Jungkook asks nervously. “I'm sorry I asked for them. It wasn't because I thought you'd show them to everyone. I was just selfish.”
Jimin feels like he's been crying entirely too much today and yet, he still feels tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. When did he get so soft? “It's perfect,” he says, tucking the book into his bag. “Thank you, Jungkook.”
Jungkook smiles, a huge grin that has Namjoon kicking him under the table. Or, kicking Jimin under the table by accident.
“Payback,” Namjoon mouths, and Jimin rolls his eyes.
“We can make more, right, hyung?” Jungkook asks, drawing Jimin's attention again. “More of these books?”
More memories, is what Jimin hears.
“Definitely,” he says, pressing a kiss to Jungkook's cheek. “Here's to first dates and many more to come.”
Jungkook grins, turns his head, and catches Jimin's lips in a kiss, valiantly ignoring all the hollering their friends make.