“Taetae,” Jimin says, staring thoughtfully up at the ceiling with Taehyung’s head stuck under his sweater, screaming his frustration somewhere in the vicinity of Jimin’s bellybutton. “Maybe we should have a conversation about how your strategy seems to have backfired.”
The thing is, for all that Taehyung is one of the most charismatic people Jimin has ever met, he’s pretty terrible at picking people up. As soon as Taehyung is actually interested in someone, all that charm goes out the window. In fairness, pretty much all of them are just as bad, including Jimin most of the time; comes from spending their formative years locked in the studio instead of learning how to date. Girls are mysterious and low-key terrifying, and boys become just as mysterious and terrifying as soon as anything romantic might be on the table.
They’re twenty when Taehyung first has his lightbulb moment to use Jimin as, essentially, a human shield in his flirting game. They’re at some afterparty in Tokyo, and Taehyung has developed a sudden but apparently very intense crush on one of the Jpop idols here, someone who is not straight if the rumor mills are to be believed. Taehyung must be feeling brave because he’s determined to try and get with him even with the potential language barrier, but he’s still panic-sweating and frozen against the wall next to Jimin, and Jimin’s words of encouragement are falling on deaf ears.
“You need to help me,” Taehyung says, turning to Jimin with pleading eyes instead of responding to any of the last several things Jimin had said. “Please? Be my wingman?”
“Absolutely, you know I’m there for you 100%,” Jimin says, even though he has no idea how to be anyone’s wingman.
“It’s okay if you don’t know what to do,” Taehyung says, reading Jimin’s mind per usual. “Just, uh…. Follow my lead, I guess.”
It all goes predictably: the other idol speaks Korean better than Taehyung speaks Japanese, so at least they get to speak in Taehyung’s native language, but that’s where his luck runs out. Jimin can tell that the guy is interested, and does his best to communicate this to Taehyung telepathically, but Taehyung is a disaster, all nervous laughter and weird non-sequiturs and either avoiding eye contact or creepily staring. Jimin doesn’t know how he’s supposed to be any help here.
Then Taehyung seems to briefly lose his mind, slapping the idol’s ass out of nowhere. For a second the moment feels like a freeze frame, with the other guy startled and clearly wondering if he should laugh and Taehyung’s face the picture of regret and Jimin just standing there, his drink straw in his mouth, looking between them.
Then Taehyung turns to Jimin and slaps his ass, too, giving it a few more pats than he’d given the Japanese idol. It’s like the fifteenth time today that Tae’s slapped his ass, so Jimin doesn’t even blink. It breaks the tension somewhat, and they all laugh, and weirdly Taehyung seems a bit more confident now.
Then a few minutes later Taehyung goes to hold the idol’s hand, and Jimin can see the moment he regrets being so forward. Right afterward he turns and grabs Jimin’s hand, almost shaking it like they’re greeting each other. Jimin mouths what are you doing and Taehyung mouths back I don’t know before turning back to his target with a fake smile plastered on his face.
It becomes a thing, a super weird thing. Any time Taehyung feels that he’s taken flirting too far, any time he does something a little daring and then needs to chicken out, he turns around and repeats whatever action it was on Jimin, as if to say see? This is just how I am all the time, with everyone, please don’t accuse me of liking you please. Like Jimin emits magic no-homo rays just by being there, or something.
In Jimin’s opinion, none of this should have actually worked, and this weird new pattern of behavior should have rightfully died that night. But the Jpop idol ends up taking Taehyung home despite it all, and Taehyung walks away from that success with the impression that his wingman tactics with Jimin are actually useful, and it just goes downhill from there.
Jimin is kind of delighted that he figures out Taehyung’s crush before Tae himself does. He always feels smug when he gets confirmation of how well he knows his best friend, even if that confirmation happens all the time these days. And it’s not like it was hard to see, what with the way Taehyung has taken to dissolving into shy, handsy giggles and staring with wide eyes around the object of his affection. It’s not all that different from how he’s always been, but it’s different enough.
But when Jimin brings it up, poking Taehyung in the side and asking him how long he’s had a crush on Namjoon and why hasn’t he talked about it to Jimin yet, it really hurts his feelings, friends are supposed to be honest with each other, Taehyung looks at him with genuine confusion.
“I don’t have a crush on Namjoon,” he says, blinking slow. His lips part, just slightly, and Jimin can see the tip of his tongue.
“Oh, sorry, I thought you already knew. You have a crush on Namjoon-hyung, Tae.” When Taehyung just keeps staring at him, Jimin sighs and turns his poking into belly pats, smoothing his palm over Taehyung’s shirt. “You’re always staring at him. You ask him to listen to your vocals even when it’s not necessary, and you’ve been turning me down just to spend more time in your room with him. I know all that isn’t just for gaming, come on.”
Taehyung closes his mouth and lowers his eyes. Jimin watches as he thinks this over, continuing to rub small circles on his stomach. When Taehyung looks up again, he seems distressed.
“Oh my god,” he says.
“Hey, it’s okay. You have good taste, you know?”
“Oh my god,” Taehyung says again, covering his face in both hands. “What am I going to do? We’re roommates!”
“So? That’s just proof he already likes your company. Just tell him how you feel.”
“I can’t! There’s no way he thinks of me like that, I have to… do something else, I don’t know.”
It’s ugly to watch Taehyung go from obliviously besotted around Namjoon to a man with a mission--a man who is clearly terrified of his own mission. He does just fine when he’s acting normally around Namjoon, because normal Taehyung is touchy and sweet and bright and soft, like sunlight filtered through wisps of cloud. As Jimin watches Taehyung look up at Namjoon and laugh at something he’d just said, his cheek resting on Namjoon’s shoulder with Namjoon’s arm around him, he thinks that Namjoon is lucky. And Taehyung is lucky. And now he wants to go over there and tuck himself under Namjoon’s other arm, but Jimin is a good friend and a good wingman, so he tries to give them space.
Although being a good wingman, according to Taehyung, often means the opposite of giving him space.
“I don’t think this is necessary, it’s just Namjoon,” Jimin says for the hundredth time after Taehyung hisses in his ear that no Jimin is not allowed to go and leave them alone in the dorm, Taehyung needs him here, what if he does something too weird or extra and Jimin isn’t around to diffuse the tension?
“It is absolutely necessary, please don’t leave me,” Taehyung says, all the words blurred together in a rush before he turns to Namjoon and gives him a huge smile. “Namjoon-hyung! We were gonna order takeout from that new restaurant, you want in?”
While they wait for food to arrive, Taehyung puts on music and they end up dancing around the kitchen to Mamamoo. Namjoon gets more into it than he usually does, maybe because only three of them are home. When he sticks his ass out and starts shaking it sort-of to the beat, Taehyung gets right up on him from behind and loops his arms around his waist, grinding up against him.
Jimin figures that’s his cue to start dancing out of the room as unobtrusively as possible, but then Taehyung gives a loud, awkward laugh and detaches himself from Namjoon, his hips swaying as he grabs Jimin and plasters himself against Jimin’s back.
“Coward,” Jimin whispers over his shoulder as he pushes his ass back into Taehyung’s groin. Namjoon claps for them and laughs, his voice a touch ragged.
“Shut up,” Taehyung says out of the corner of his mouth, his fingers clenching hard on Jimin’s hip.
And it goes on like that. Taehyung wants Namjoon to see how he feels but he’s terrified of Namjoon seeing how he feels, which leaves him incapable of flirting in an obvious way without backpedaling. He only escalates things with Namjoon when Jimin is around to provide proof that Taehyung just is this way with all his friends, see? Totally platonic.
Jimin is starting to find it tiring, but he can’t deny Taehyung anything.
Taehyung may think he’s being subtle, but Namjoon is smart, and Jimin can tell he’s getting confused, maybe noticing a pattern. But whatever he notices, it doesn’t seem to lead him to the conclusion Taehyung is going for. He just gets more awkward and shy, much to Taehyung’s dismay.
“He keeps thanking me,” Taehyung whines, his head in Jimin’s lap. “Thanking me for trying to flirt with him, are you kidding me? I don’t know what more I can do.”
“There, there,” Jimin says, petting his hair. “I don’t know how he can be so clueless when you just licked my abs in front of him. It’s a mystery.”
“It is,” Taehyung says, ignoring Jimin’s sarcasm. He picks at a loose thread in Jimin’s jeans, poking his finger through the hole to touch Jimin’s thigh. “He knows me, you know? He should be able to figure it out.”
“He probably just doesn’t want to assume anything. Besides, every time you do something that might possibly lead him to figuring it out, you turn around and practically hump my leg. I don’t think you’ll get anywhere until you quit with the mixed messages.”
“But I don’t want to quit.” Jimin expects Taehyung to keep whining about his fears, the risks, etc. But Taehyung sits up off his lap, blinking at Jimin with mussed hair and a red imprint on his cheek from Jimin’s leg. “I like doing that stuff with you. I like that you’re part of it.”
Jimin’s face grows warm. He looks away. Taehyung probably doesn’t mean anything by it, doesn’t mean it like that. “Well, do what you want. I just think other ways might be more effective. But you know I’m here for you either way.”
“Of course I know that,” Taehyung says, pushing his face into Jimin’s shoulder now. Jimin returns to petting his hair, the tightness in his chest easing open slowly, things falling back into their usual places once more.
Jimin has been wondering if Namjoon will ever pull him aside to ask for his opinion on what’s up with Taehyung. He thinks that’s what’s happening when Namjoon drags him out of the dorm for a late night walk, insisting that Jimin needs some air, he’s spent all his time practicing lately.
But when they’re outside and Jimin asks him what’s up, Namjoon just shrugs and says that it’s been a while since they talked much, and their fame has been growing lately, things have all been happening very fast, he wanted to check in.
“I missed you,” he says, giving Jimin a dimpled smile. Jimin is surprised but pleased, smiling back and linking their arms and skipping a bit. Namjoon is right that they haven’t seen much of each other lately, not just the two of them; that’s not all that unusual, not with their schedules being what they are, but Jimin always feels greedy for attention from Namjoon when the days (all right, sometimes hours) start to add up.
“You’re such a good leader, taking me out for walks, making sure I get my exercise,” Jimin teases, squeezing himself close in to Namjoon’s side. His shoulder is at just the right height for Jimin to lean on.
Namjoon laughs. “I just know how you get fixated. It’s good to get out. Besides, in the future we might not be able to just go out walking without getting bothered. Appreciate this while it lasts, you know?”
Jimin lifts his head again to peer at him. Namjoon is looking off somewhere in the distance, his pink hair pale and closer to yellow under the harsh street lamps. It has never occurred to Jimin to think of future success in terms of what it might potentially take away from him. Even though their successes these past couple of years have brought challenges enough, he supposes he still doesn’t even know what he’s taking for granted right now that might change someday.
“I never would have thought of that,” Jimin says. “You really think we’ll get that big? Too big to go walking even at night?”
“Of course,” Namjoon says, no hesitation, his eyes still on the twinkling lights of Seoul on the horizon line. And that, their leader’s unwavering belief, never fails to make happiness spread through Jimin’s body in warm squiggles. Like he has to shimmy it out. “It’s just a question of when.”
“That’s right,” Jimin says, smugly directing his words outward to the city like it’s a declaration. “If you say it, it’s true.”
Jimin hears Namjoon breathe in a little funny, like those words hit him with something. And Namjoon’s watching him, he can tell without turning his head to see.
Jimin has the urge to preen a bit under that gaze, to lick his lips and tilt his head and act like they’re in the middle of a shoot and he has to turn it on. But he keeps his face normal. Not because he thinks Taehyung is gonna be territorial, or whatever. But just.
He wants his friends to be happy, that’s all.
When Jimin gets back from a meeting with Hoseok and their choreographers the next day, he finds Taehyung sitting on Namjoon’s lap in the big sofa chair in the living room. They’re going over some giant coffee table book together, and Jimin recognizes it as an art history book from some museum in America, but he can’t remember if Taehyung got it while they were there or ordered it online. Namjoon and Taehyung are trying to read it together, Namjoon helping Taehyung with the words he doesn’t know.
“I don’t even know that word,” Namjoon is saying, laughing as Taehyung points at something on the page, his lips twisting as he tries to sound it out. “I don’t think that’s even English, maybe German?”
“Do the German know anything about art?” Taehyung asks, solemn as he looks down at the top of Namjoon’s head. Namjoon purses his lips.
“I don’t know. Maybe? Probably.”
Then they both smile and turn back to the book, moving on to the next sentence. Looking at them, Taehyung’s arm slung around Namjoon’s shoulders, legs over Namjoon’s lap like it’s nothing, Jimin has no idea why Taehyung thinks he needs him for wingman duties.
He heads to his room and does not slam the door, but he lets it shut maybe a bit louder than necessary. He immediately feels bad, and hopes that Taehyung doesn’t pick up on him being pissy and abandon the good thing he’s got going to come investigate--Jimin sincerely wants him and Namjoon both to get what they want, doesn’t want to interrupt. Doesn’t want very badly to interrupt.
He didn’t have to be concerned, because Taehyung doesn’t come to check in on him, anyway.
After Taehyung caresses the back of Namjoon’s neck while kissing his cheek, then turns to Jimin and kisses the corner of his mouth, letting his hand linger on Jimin’s neck and in Jimin’s hair for way longer than he had with Namjoon (Jimin recognizes that this is nervousness making Tae more tactile, but he knows how it must look to others), Namjoon smiles and takes a couple steps back, flexing his hands at his sides.
“I’m so happy for you guys,” he says. “Really.”
And then he’s left the room before either Jimin or Taehyung can react.
That’s when Taehyung grabs the hem of Jimin’s sweater and pulls it over his head, and the screaming-at-Jimin’s-bellybutton starts.
“He’s gotten the wrong idea,” Jimin tells the lump in his sweater when Taehyung’s screams have subsided to frustrated groans. “He doesn’t think any of the shit you’ve been doing is just between friends, he just thinks he’s the one intruding, when actually it’s me.”
Taehyung finally takes his head out from under Jimin’s shirt, giving him an affronted look that’s slightly undercut by the way his hair now sticks up at odd angles. “You’re not intruding, don’t say that.”
Jimin just rolls his eyes. “Tae. If you want to actually get with him, you need to stop leaning on me so much. You have to do it on your own.”
Taehyung doesn’t say anything to that, and Jimin’s not sure why. He just keeps frowning at Jimin, studying him like there’s something he’s trying to figure out. Like Jimin is a puzzle piece, and he hasn’t seen the whole picture yet.
Jimin doesn’t know what picture Taehyung is searching for, but he looks back and doesn’t move or fidget until Taehyung finally nods, and sighs, and shrugs down at the ground. “If you say so.”
Jimin thought he’d gotten through to Taehyung that time, but Taehyung doesn’t take his advice. Instead he invites Jimin to come hang out in his room one night when Namjoon is, of course, also there. When Jimin points out that Tae could use this opportunity to just talk to Namjoon and make a move, Taehyung sends him barrages of sad emojis until Jimin gives in.
And it’s fun, it’s great, Jimin loves hanging out with two of his favorite people in the world. The three of them are tucked together on Taehyung’s bed with the laptop on a chair in front, and Taehyung and Namjoon are competing to find out who can find the most bizarre videos on youtube with Jimin as the judge. This means that they’re both sucking up to him a lot, which is Jimin’s ideal. And Taehyung is mostly acting like a normal person instead of an alien pod person who has never ever listened to anyone’s advice on how to talk to his crush. It’s good, it’s lovely.
And then Taehyung finally does. Jimin didn’t think that this would happen while he was still in the room, but he’s thrilled that it’s happening at all: while they’re laughing softly with their faces close together, Taehyung slides his hand into Namjoon’s hair and kisses him on the mouth. It’s smooth as anything. Jimin wants to whoop with joy, but settles for making a very small fistpump of triumph while both of his friends’ eyes are closed.
He’s getting ready to stand and leave, but then--Jimin can’t fucking believe this--Taehyung breaks his kiss with Namjoon and turns and grabs for him, kissing Jimin with more drive and intention then Jimin’s ever felt when they were just playing around.
“Ah, I’ll just, um, thank you,” Namjoon says, nonsensically. Jimin hears him standing up and shuffling towards the door, and he wants to tell him not to leave his own bedroom, that this is all a misunderstanding, but he’s frozen to the spot. Taehyung is being such an idiot right now, and Jimin wants to tell him that, too, but he’s too busy kissing back. Of course he’s kissing back. No universe exists where he wouldn’t kiss Taehyung back.
Jimin pulls back when he hears the door click shut behind Namjoon. “Tae, what the f--”
Taehyung just kisses him again. And this isn’t part of Jimin’s wingman duties, there’s no one here to witness this, no external reason for it to happen. Jimin doesn’t know what’s going on. He pulls back again.
“What are you doing,” Jimin says, carefully as he can. Taehyung is still leaning forward into his space, his shoulders blocking the overhead light. They’re both breathing hard. Jimin can feel puffs of air against his lips.
“I… I don’t know.” Taehyung leans back slow, looking towards the door and blinking like he’s coming out of a fugue state.
“Do you… you like Namjoon, don’t you?” It’s a rhetorical question. Jimin knows how much Taehyung likes Namjoon. But he doesn’t want to put words into his friend’s mouth, not with something like this.
“Yes,” Taehyung says, and then looks at Jimin’s mouth. It sends blood rushing to Jimin’s head, but despite this he opens his mouth to complain that he’s not just a piece of meat, when Taehyung adds, “And I like you.”
“--oh,” Jimin says. “Really?”
“Really.” Taehyung licks his lips and makes eye contact again, his forehead scrunching up nervously, adorably. “Is that okay?”
“Of course it’s okay, you could have said something.” Jimin runs his hands through Taehyung’s hair, kisses his forehead. “You can date both of us, it’s fine.”
“Oh good.” Taehyung sags against him in relief, and Jimin pulls him in close. He wonders how long Taehyung has been worrying about this; he shouldn’t have, Jimin is okay with sharing and he’s like 90% sure that Namjoon will be, too. It’s not even that unconventional, not by their standards. Dating as an idol is weird and hard enough without adding something as complicated as monogamy to the mix.
“But what about you?” Taehyung asks, the question mumbled into Jimin’s neck. “Don’t you want to date him together?”
Jimin thinks about it. He’s interested in Namjoon, of course. Jimin pretty much always has a crush on pretty much everyone, especially the six boys he lives with. He’s usually happy going through life feeding off that giddy low-key infatuation energy without ever acting on it, in order to prevent things getting hopelessly messy.
Taehyung wanting him and making the first move changes things, of course. And maybe watching Namjoon and Taehyung circle around each other had been changing things, too: like, maybe Jimin can admit now that he hadn’t been particularly happy going through life excluded from that.
“You know, I think I do want that,” Jimin says, and this time Taehyung is screaming in delight, hugging Jimin with enough force to push him down onto his back, but backwards on the bed so that his head is at the end and his feet meet Taehyung’s pillow. Jimin laughs, and pulls Taehyung’s face up to his to kiss him, over and over and over again.
“We would like to apologize any confusion, explain ourselves, and then we have a proposal.”
“Um, okay?” Namjoon looks from Jimin to Taehyung and back to Jimin again. He sort of looks like he wants to retreat into his hoodie. It was probably unfair of them to come and ambush him in his studio, but with him still sitting at the computer they get to be taller than him, which helps Jimin’s nerves.
They’re standing side-by-side, arms linked together. Jimin smiles. “I know you think that we’re dating, and that you should give us space, and that Taehyung is a weirdo for doing things with you that he does with his boyfriend, but you were only right about Taehyung being a weirdo.” Taehyung kicks his ankle, but he’d wanted Jimin to do the explaining, had been nervous about finding the right words himself. So he can just deal.
“You guys aren’t dating?” Namjoon looks pointedly at their linked arms.
“We are as of like, yesterday. But more importantly, we both want to date you. As in, it’d be all three of us, together.”
Jimin hadn’t meant to just come out and say it like that. He was going to explain first, starting from the beginning, talk Namjoon through Taehyung’s logic and Jimin’s well-meaning assistance because he knows that Namjoon relaxes best when he feels like he really understands something. Taehyung stills his fidgeting next to him, and Jimin holds his breath.
Namjoon’s lips form a perfect, small ‘o.’ He looks between them again, and Jimin can just tell that he’s thinking about hidden cameras. “Seriously?”
“Seriously,” Taehyung says, and Jimin has to smile at the earnestness in his voice. “No hidden cameras, this is real. I really--we really like you. I know it’s been confusing, but I’m not confused about this. We like each other, and we like you, and we hope that you like us too.”
“Of course I like you guys,” Namjoon says, and then blushes like he just heard himself. “I mean--I--thank you?”
Jimin can’t handle this anymore. He lets go of Taehyung’s arm and takes two steps forward to Namjoon, then straddles him. Lets his hands settle on Namjoon’s shoulders with purpose.
“We’re talking sexually,” he says. “In case that wasn’t clear.”
Then he kisses Namjoon, and even after yesterday part of Jimin still feels like he’s doing something wrong. But Taehyung has already had his first kiss with Namjoon, and he did kind of fuck it up, so it’s Jimin’s turn now.
And besides, that’s Taehyung’s warm hand curling around the back of Jimin’s neck, encouraging him.
Namjoon gasps and Jimin uses it as an opportunity to slip him some tongue. Namjoon tastes like the gum he always chews when working, and his lips are soft and pliant, and he’s holding Jimin by the waist now. Jimin shivers, and leans into it.
When they pull apart, it’s Taehyung’s turn, and this time Jimin doesn’t think about leaving the room while they kiss, this time he just sits back and appreciates it. Slides his hand around Taehyung’s side and up under his shirt, touching the small of his back.
“Okay,” Namjoon says when they’re both done with him. Jimin is gratified to see that his pupils are blown and his cheeks are still pink, his eyelashes fluttering like he’s just been hit with a flashbulb. Jimin can feel Namjoon’s legs relaxing under his own thighs.
“Okay, wow, you guys. Yes. Yes?” And Namjoon starts laughing, laughing loud until he’s shaking with it, until they all are. “I didn’t expect this.”
“Well, we didn’t make it easy for you to see what was going on,” Taehyung says, biting his lip, wincing at himself a bit. Jimin reaches up to pinch his cheek, and Namjoon goes for the other cheek, until both their hands are stroking down Taehyung’s face.
Jimin figures it must look kinda dumb from the outside. But here in the room, it makes all the sense they need.