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Inked, Loved, Delivered

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Bisexual People Privileges (noun)

  1. Objectively approaching a person with the intention of flirting with them, indifferent to their gender, knowing you're lucky both ways.
  2. Is probably the only flip side of being bisexual that you should enjoy but Heteros still come after your ass for. No pun intended.

After all, it’s your ass, and not theirs, in question here. No need to bother with the stick-up-the-ass attitude.

Costumes and masks had never been Jungkook's thing. He always thought knowing the truth about things was hard enough as it was; it needn’t any more layers in the way—obscuring, concealing, diverting. It was Halloween and he was dragged into some lameass party—mind you, a used-to-be lameass party (Thank you, Kim Yugyeom). He had to reevaluate that almost twenty minutes ago when his dangerously tipsy brain processed the beauty of some smoking hot mythical creature a few meters away. Was that an angel or a fairy costume?

Minor details.

Jungkook never thought perks of being bi would be him asking ‘so, are you a boy a girl?’ to someone, and knowing the answer wouldn’t make a difference: He would be tapping that ass tonight. He was just too drunk and feeling too silly, irresponsibly so. The night screamed trouble and Jungkook beseeched it, longingly so.

It wasn’t just the outfit or the hair, it mostly had to do with the lithe body and the improvised ballet show it had put on almost twenty minutes ago, luring Jungkook's eyes and locking them in since then. As he drew closer, he could register the details more clearly. Shoulder length caramel-blond hair, parted at the centre, fluffy and puffed out, and gracefully falling over caramel-coloured eyes. Be it the one-too-many drinks Jungkook had or the flickering lights or whatever, but the eyes with their hair-matching eye-shadow held a sway over Jungkook. The way they were all slanted and moony, notwithstanding their unwavering bluff, drove Jungkook crazy. He would rather not indulge his eyes in the sight of the plump, glistening-with-god-knows-what-else-beside-alcohol lips. Their most fatal position would be a pout. It would definitely have Jeon Jungkook on his knees, weak and willing to do anything.

His eyes seemed to zero in on said person, blending their company into the background—like irrelevant, mundane frames surrounding a masterpiece. Likewise, he should be more drunk than to be able to register that many details. But Heavens, was it legal to be this good looking, was this level of beauty even possible—real? Heavens: that must be from where this divine looks came.

‘Are you a boy or a girl’, right; perfect plan. The only thing Jungkook should have considered in his foolproof plan of Scoring the Night was said person turning around, amusedly cocking a perfectly-shaped eyebrow before speaking.

“Are you asking about my sexuality?”

As if Smoky-Eye-Smokin’-Everything looks wasn’t pornography enough for Jungkook, his voice had to be even smokier. Yes, please, turn on the audio for that rated R movie. Jungkook felt a thrill pass through his veins, momentarily unable to think while cursing inwardly. Jeon Jungkook needn’t the drinks; this could be an unprecedented category of drugs—a class of its own. Through the buzz of the drink, the dizzying lights that mostly had to do with the dazzling person before him, and the mellifluous voice, Jungkook was smirking, feeling playful—cocky even. Even though he knew it was 2022 and this joke was long overdue, his tipsy brain had another say.

“I’m asking about what’s between your legs.”

Luckily, Smoky-Eye-Smokin’-Everything, now Smokin’ Ass too, knew how to play along. He slowly let his eyes drag over Jungkook, clearly interested, clearly satisfied. Jungkook mentally thanked Yugyeom for suggesting that one officer outfit, telling Jungkook it made him look cute in a ‘I want to do you’ way. Smokin’ Ass clearly agreed. At that point, Jungkook was confident it was a he. Lucky.

“Well if I get lucky tonight,” He took a needless step towards Jungkook, “then you.”

Oh boy.

“Pretty necklace,” Jungkook said, partly stalling to get his heart back in shape, partly admiring.

“Thanks,” Smokin’ Ass broke eye contact to look at his necklace. “I made it myself.”

Jungkook found himself instinctively taking another step forward, reaching to inspect the necklace but looking into the guy’s eyes as flirtingly as possible.

“To work wonders like this? You must really be half magic,”

Well, things could surely easily backfire. Smokin’ Ass smirked.

“Wait till you see me in bed,” he was tiptoeing and leaning in, whispering real low, real husky in Jungkook's ear. Jungkook could swear he heard himself gulp. “My friends say I have magical fingers,”

Oh boy.

With barely a taste of his lips and Jungkook was in for a ride. Damn. Not even if God himself was knocking on the bedroom door would make him abort mission. Hell could freeze over and he would still have the room on fire with Smokin’ Ass.

“I may look like an angel,” the guy said in a low voice as their hands fumbled in the undressing process. “But you're the angel here with those heavenly lips,”

Jungkook found that funny for some reason. Drunkly, he cocked his head to the side, licking his lips, and asking, “Are you an angel?”

Smokin’ Ass was laughing—he was so drunk Jungkook thought it was cute, and a wide grin found a way to his lips, heightening the intoxication. Smokin’ Ass was mumbling something into Jungkook's lips; Jungkook wasn’t all that concentrated, not while the latter’s fingers tore at his shirt, taking their sweet time dragging along his chest. Not even the weight of the necklace around his neck felt that significant any more—not when that small, experienced finger was raising hell on his skin. He was smiling knowingly up at Jungkook, as though he was about to share a secret he shouldn’t divulge. Amidst the feathery giggles and the inebriation, Jungkook could make out a distant playful, ‘could be,’

At that, he made a point to break the kissing and look at the person spread beneath him, smiling wryly as the blond asked,

“Aren’t you?”

That set off Jungkook. He returned the wry smile, the alcohol messing with his systems.

“Would be.” Jungkook was smirking. “If angels were sinners.”

Smokin’ Ass found that funny for some reason, and so Jungkook found nothing else to do but laugh.

Little did he know he should have paid more attention to that; little did Smokin’ Ass know that Jungkook's sense of humour didn’t encompass that touchy subject.

 

♥♥♥

 

For someone whose life had been full of red signs, and for someone who believed in a whole lot of crap, Jungkook was sure oblivious.

He didn’t believe in ‘signs’, but when it was Christmas Eve and he was alone, with no date for the night, running errands for Satan’s Little Minion, that was a huge flickering red sign that his life wasn’t on the right track. Unless, of course, he was tied to said track with a train speeding up towards him. He would love that.

“I remember the good old days,” Jungkook shifted the box to his other arm, extending the other to catch a falling snowflake. “When around this time of night I was doing my walk of shame and not being an accessory in your Little Boy Toy show.”

“Try being nice to me every once in a while,” Taehyung said flatly. “I'm one of the few people who know the real you and still decided to stick around.”

Jungkook made no comment, just smiled knowingly at that. He could cut Taehyung some slack, but where was the fun in that?

“We need to hurry. My hands are starting to get numb and it seems like the snow would get heavier,” Taehyung looked up at the sky, wincing when a snowflake met his cheek. “You're young. Why don’t you be a nice guy and offer Namjoon-hyung to help with the last box?”

“I'm tired. You take care of it,” Jungkook replied absent-mindedly. “I'd rather be at home, sipping some red wine off some guy’s lips or something.” He let out a sigh, “I might consider helping you if help me tho,”

Taehyung wheeled around, almost bumping into Jungkook and slipping down in spite of the abrupt stop. He gave Jungkook a once-over, eyes lingering suggestively, though dispassionately (almost disappointedly, actually) at some area.

“I'm tired,” Taehyung smirked. “You take care of it.”

For someone who pretty much started it, Jungkook was a sore loser. He rolled his eyes, bumped shoulders with Taehyung, who let out a small triumphant giggle, and kept walking. A few more blocks to go and he would be free from Satan’s Little Minion.

“Seriously tho, Kook,” Taehyung started. “Didn’t Yoongi-hyung set you up for a date a few days ago and you were a no show?”

Jungkook grunted, war flashbacks of Yoongi’s lecture on how he should respect his word coming back to him. In his defense, he had his reasons, though he didn’t think even if he had voiced them, Yoongi’s irritation would have been watered down.

“I'm telling you, I just want something fun.” Jungkook hadn’t intended it to sound so whiny. He credited himself for not stooping as low as stomping his foot. He had Taehyung’s full attention all the same.

Taehyung sighed. “How about we go out for drinks tonight?”

Jungkook almost stopped and gave Taehyung a dirty look. “I tell you I want some fun and you offer me your company?”

At that, it was Taehyung who gave Jungkook a dirty look. He recovered quickly, giving the younger his signature annoyed smile. “You see, buddy, this pretty mouth is the reason you're still single.”

“Funny,” Cue the lopsided, snark-armed smile. “A number of people said the exact opposite thing.”

Taehyung adjusted the boxes he was carrying, took off his beanie and ran his hand through his hair. He gave the beanie a long look before he hit Jungkook with it—trying one last time to have a decent conversation with the guy.

“It’s Christmas Eve. I bet there are many good lays alone tonight who’d be just so lucky to have you.” He put back his beanie, his face lighting up with some sudden thought. “Off the top of my head, but I happen to know someone who’d love to jingle some bells for you tonight,”

Some girl gave Taehyung a scandalous look, bordering on an admonishing glare, on hearing that. Jungkook would have loved to blame her, but he wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet himself and it wasn’t like his word-choice was that ‘appropriate’ either.

“I don’t know, Tae,” Jungkook sighed wearily, picturing his definition of fun. Fun definitely had one perky butt. “I kinda not want to be on top tonight.”

Taehyung gasped. “I haven’t heard you say that in ages.”

In two months, to be accurate. Jungkook shrugged, trying to act casual though the memories were too vivid to let that happen. He should have taken the guy’s number; he should have allowed himself to indulge a little bit.

“Wait,” Taehyung set the boxes down and touched a finger to his temple. “Not ages. Jungkook, are you catching feelings for someone?”

“Please!” Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Feelings are for the weak,”

“Post Great Ride Syndrome then?”

When Jungkook wiggled his eyebrows, it was Taehyung’s cue to pick up the boxes and pretend, like so many times before, this conversation never took place. But Jungkook was a desperate man, looking for consolation in spite of his lost wishes. Casually, they were once again walking abreast side by side, barely bothered by either the snow or the people in the street.

“I just wish it had led to something, you know,”

Jungkook didn’t think he had seen Taehyung look this affronted since he had told him Yeontan and him matching clothes wasn’t really Relationship Goals.

“You mean a relation??”

The mere word alone was sufficient to force Jungkook back, staggering a step or two.

“Hell no!” he said a little bit heatedly. When Taehyung let out a sigh—and when Jungkook himself recovered from the effect of the taboo word—he added, “I meant a date or two.”

Taehyung put had the boxes pressed against his chest with one arm while he put the other hand on his hip.

“You mean a fuck or two.”

“That too,” Jungkook gave him a wry smile. “But let’s not be pedantic here,”

“If you don’t have any specific face in mind, then that could be manageable.” There was an undertone of sarcasm to Taehyung’s tone but Jungkook couldn’t quite yet place the reason why.

Be careful what you wish for.

He muted Taehyung’s voice, hearing something far more pleasant. He looked over his shoulder, his heart skipping a beat in spite of the excited rush overtaking him. Two months later and he still remembered.

Beautiful.

The hair and the voice were hard to miss, the former especially. Two options: either he was desperate that he was imagining things, or he was so desperate he wanted everyone to be Him. If those weren’t red signs enough for Jungkook, then God knows what ever could be. Two month ago, one night, nothing remarkable, yet he still remembered. Jeon Jungkook should be concerned.

Whatever.

“Well, Merry Christmas to me.” He wasn’t surprised to find himself grinning, barely capable of tearing his eyes away from their feast to get back to the nowhere-near-inquisitive Taehyung.

“What?” Taehyung asked from over his shoulder, sparing Jungkook one disinterested look.

“You go in. I’ll catch up with you in a minute,”

Skeptic, Taehyung sighed; it was as though going on an argument with Jungkook right now was over his head. He then shrugged and entered the building, mumbling under his breath.

Jungkook put down the box in the building’s entrance, straightened out his clothes and jogged to the other side of the street. ‘Jogged’ might be a little bit of a stretch for someone who pulled a Keanu Reeves over a speeding car and almost died, heedless of the litany of profanity ensuing.

Would it matter if he had died then and there? That was an Ass to die for. When he was a few steps behind Smokin’ Ass, he rekindled his smile, jabbing a flirty touch as he tousled his hair. He liked to give it that wild flair; it gave him credit.

Heavens! He even smelled nice—a wisteria-scented candle burning torturously slow amidst falling snow, leaving fading lavender drops in its wake. So much did Jungkook want to smear those drops, to have them under his thumb.

He halted, coolly slipping both hands into his jacket’s pocket and stomping one feet against the ground loud enough to draw the perfect amount of attention.

“I just came to warn you not to panic if someone puts you in a huge sack tonight” —Smokin’ Ass turned around almost dramatically: slow-mo, coat whipping around, wisps of hair fluttering around his face, taken-aback smile lighting up his face better than any ten million fireflies. Perhaps it was Jungkook's goggles; he tried not to be flustered, smoothly carrying on— “I kinda asked Santa for you this year.”

Was that recognition, was it caution? The answer was Jungkook didn’t care. He took one step towards Smokin’ Ass’s direction, exuding harmless vibes notwithstanding the Marking-Territory move he had just made.

“And apparently I’ve been a good boy this year,” Smokin’ Ass seemed confused for a second, his smile wavering. Jungkook felt like a Kim Seokjin, ready to explain why his joke was hilariously punny. “Because I got all I want,”

On seeing Smokin’ Ass’s amused expression, he could tell he didn’t blow this up. Or as Kim Taehyung would kindly put it, “Thank god you're pretty, Jeon Jungkook.

“You have one last try at stringing words together in a less lame fashion before I leave your creepy weird ass here alone,” Smokin’ Ass folded his arms, shifting his weight to one leg.

Jungkook didn’t know what distracted him—the playful smile, the red scarf, the pink flush, the dangling earring, the puffy, bedroom eyes, or the kiss-me-not lips. Had it been that long for him or he got Smokin’ Ass on the brains or what exactly?

Jungkook laughed, hopefully, not too nervously. He looked down, playing with his feet against the accumulating snow before meeting up Smokin’ Ass’s eyes.

“One try? Where’s the fun in that?” He fake-gasped.

When he got no reaction (the still smirk with the eyebrow twitch didn’t count, did it?) he added, “Do you wanna go out for some drinks or food, or do I have to further humiliate myself first? I promise fun games if you agree,”

Smokin’ Ass narrowed his eyes, leaned forward with his head—too close for Jungkook.

“I thought we were already playing Use Three Cheesy Pickup Lines on the One Night Stand Till He Agrees to Repeat His Mistake game,”

“Wow, and there I thought I was failing,”

“I'd give you three tries at those lines,” Smokin’ Ass held up three fingers up before Jungkook's eyes. “Use them wisely.”

Even though Jungkook tried not to twist the ‘use the [three fingers] wisely’-line into something kinky, he still couldn’t help remembering—and feeling—Smokin’ Ass’s ‘magical fingers’ and how wisely indeed they were used.

“What makes you so confident I want to repeat” —Jungkook made air quotes— “my mistake again? I only asked you out for drinks,”

Smokin’ Ass shrugged, though it was clear from the confident glint in his eyes there was something he wasn’t letting Jungkook in on.

“I’m confident in your strong urge of wanting to pun,” he spoke the words slowly, looking Jungkook square in the eye; at which Jungkook fought not to laugh, fleetingly looking down—at Smokin’ Ass’s feet. Cute. “And that’s enough to win this argument.”

“So?” Jungkook looked up, hating the hopeful tone used. “Do I have to lie to my bestfriend about having the best meal with some goodass food or we’re actually eating out?”

“By which you mean you eating me out?”

Jungkook chuckled.

“Well since you asked nicely, I guess I might as well do that,”

Smokin’ Ass looked away, shaking his head as he smiled. Jungkook could already tell it was a habit of the other—a habit that might just be Jungkook's very own unravelling. He kept marveling as people passed them by, barely batting an eye.

He waited; his companion scratched his nose then said,

“Um, I'm kinda meeting up with my friends in a few minutes,”

There was something in that statement that contradicted Smokin’ Ass’s flat tone. Jeon Jungkook, the guy who read into the ‘signs’ only when he liked to. Translation: when they were in his favour.

Cue the flirty smirk.

“Can't you like blow them off or something?”

“Hmm,” Smokin’ Ass made a show of mulling over the proposition. “Blow off my friends to blow my fuck buddy. Tempting.”

“We’re buddies now?”

“Well I'm sorry!” he raised up both hands in mock-apology, eyebrows lifting and smile derisive. “I didn’t know what to call you since I didn’t quite catch your name over the loud prayers you were screaming on that All Saints’ Eve.”

“Touché.”

It was ridiculous. There they were, two strangers, standing under falling snow, barely two feet apart, going back and forth at this passive-aggressive flirting game though they both knew how this one ended.

“Shall we?” Jungkook gestured onwards, and walked when his companion shrugged, following suit.

“This had better be a finer meal than my friends,” he was mumbling; Jungkook felt their shoulders brush for the slightest second.

“I ditched my model-fine friend too and you don’t hear this mouth complaining,”

Without turning to Jungkook, Smokin’ Ass let out an impressed hmm then said, “Maybe you should introduce us,”

“Maybe we should introduce ourselves first,” Jungkook countered.

There wasn’t even a brief pause. It seemed like Smokin’ Ass was wired for those kind of comebacks. There was the pretty face with the wry smile again Jungkook was more than familiar with. Though, to be fair, it had a different taste coming from this half stranger—something more to do with sex appeal than derisive humour.

“For someone who doesn’t even know my name, you sure get attached easily.”

Jungkook cocked an eyebrow, refusing to refute or confirm. The blond caught Jungkook's eyes, exaggerated a face while adding, “Going as far as to ask Santa, I mean.”

Smokin’ Ass seemed too curious to let the subject rest. He halted, forcing Jungkook to a stop as well. For a second Jungkook was lost in the cloud of air the blond’s parted lips made over his lips. Not for long anyway; he was experiencing the physical touch now. It seemed so much like that flirtatious move he used on Jungkook that Halloween Party night—hand resting on chest, head cocked to the right, teeth contemplating digging in lower lip.

“Dear Santa, can you sack up this dude with the ass that won't quit who gave me a taste of heaven?”

Jungkook smirked and held up Smokin’ Ass’s wrist away from his chest, repelling his charms albeit fixedly looking him in the eye.

“Actually no,” he scrunched up his nose. “That’d be one longassed list Santa would have to narrow down and he has plenty of mouths to feed, and not just this” —he pointed at himself— “lost boy’s mouth.”

Smokin’ Ass jerked his hand free and flexed his wrist.

“A boy, interesting. You sure don’t fuck like one,”

Jungkook laughed and he could see the corner of his companion’s lip quirk upwards. They started walking again.

“Then how did you describe me to Santa?”

“Cute, short,” Jungkook began; Smokin’ Ass lifted an offended eyebrow, almost on his way to folding his arms in spite of his dissatisfaction. “Big ass, bigger heart.”

“Amateur.”

Jungkook ignored the scoff and tried to catch Smokin’ Ass’s eyes with his pout now.

“Then teach me, Master.”

“A teacher kink now?” Apparently, he was immune to Jungkook's soft, baby-boy tone. “You're getting even more interesting, Random Stranger.”

“A guy has gotta do what a guy has got to do.” Jungkook shrugged. They were rounding the corner now and he had a faint idea where they were going. “Santa could’ve refused, but here we are. It’s fate.”

“Well,” Did the guy’s lips knew how to do anything but smirk? Oh wait: Jungkook knew the answer to that firsthand. “If you'd begged Santa in the same religious manner you were begging that party night, then he sure couldn’t say no. So I’m not sure about this fate thingie,”

“Wow, you're as good with repartees as you are with dicks,” Jungkook was glad he had spent so much time around Min Yoongi (and Kim Taehyung) that he mastered The Art of Inadvertently Replying like a Dick, alternatively known as I Love My Friends but They Get on My Nerves Sometimes.

“An ass that isn’t just perky, but also smart. You're a dream come true.” Jungkook toned down the sarcasm in his words, directly looking into his companion’s eyes as he added, “You must be Christmas because I want to merry you,”

Smokin’ Ass was unimpressed. In fact, unimpressed was quite impressed compared to how he eyed Jungkook with that fish-eye grimace-like dead expression. Whatever, Jungkook was too used to making a fool of himself in front of beautiful boys with backsides that gave him a run for his money—and stamina.

“They say opposites attract. Smokin’ Ass” —Jungkook didn’t think it was possible for Smokin’ Ass’s eyebrow to reach a higher zenith; apparently he had been wrong— “in your eyes it’s a heaven, and in my heart it’s hellfire, so how about you say yes?”

He was laughing. That was a start; Jungkook smiled widely. Fuck, that laugh was even better than his smile: that was balm to the soul. He seized the chance and took one of Smokin’ Ass’s hands in his. They were surprisingly small, comfortably and conveniently so. For what it was worth, size didn’t matter. That distance between thumb and forefinger myth? Jeon Jungkook looked at Smokin’ Ass’s hand and called it total bullshit.

“Are you seriously proposing?” He gave their entwined hands a long look before meeting Jungkook's playful smile.

Words were thin; Jungkook was an actions-kind-of-guy—plenty of action.

“Marry me, maybe?”

By the time Jungkook was on one knee, a mock-sincere smile on his face and hand stretched out to hold out fake engagement ring, Smokin’ Ass was laughing and shaking his head—a clear declaration Jungkook had won.

Jungkook didn’t seem to mind the awkward stares they were shot as he carried on his impromptu fake proposal. He stayed for a while like that, forgetting all about the cold and the stupid word rally they had just had. He just liked the view—and the sound. Heavens! Those giggles could lull him to his grave and he would be perfectly complacent.

“I'm Park Jimin,” Smokin’ Ass, now Park Jimin, said, holding out his hand for Jungkook to clutch to. “Tho, Smokin’ Ass would be just fine.” He added with a wink.

The ice had finally melted. Jungkook hoped his grin wasn’t too foolish. He was no longer a twenty-year-old. That kind of smiles was long gone.

Jimin was pressing his lips as if to stifle a smile and it made his cheeks bunch up in a way that Jungkook begged his eyes to be distracted. After Jungkook added a playful ‘Jeon Jungkook, an astronaut,’ and Jimin laughed, securing a promise from Jungkook that he would take him to the moon, Jimin finally asked,

“Beside the moon, where else are you taking me?”

“Somewhere romantic.” Jungkook rubbed both hands together. “I mean I'd just proposed to you. What kind of fiancé would I be if I just wanted to fuck?”

“You say ‘romantic’ then just wanted to fuck,” Jimin was nodding to himself. “Noted,”

“Oh wait, I'm sorry.” Jungkook stopped and held Jimin by the shoulders to force him to meet his eyes. He cleared his throat and counted to ten, intently staring at Jimin's eyes, wondering if, like Jungkook's usual ‘dates’, the latter felt flustered under that keen gaze. From the deepest abysses in his vocal chords, he summoned his sexy voice. “Would you like to fuck? I'll bring flowers.”

“That’s your idea of romantic?” Jimin narrowed his eyes, not breaking gaze. Maybe it wasn’t so good that this Park Jimin knew how to tango.

“I mentioned the flowers, didn’t I?”

For some reason, Jimin was smiling impishly now. Actually, if Jungkook's eyes didn’t play tricks on him, said smile was bordering on a smirk. Fuck, he would love to take that full lip between his teeth.

“Would you like to go stargazing then?”

“In this city? Hell no!” Jungkook backed away, feeling slightly defensive even though he knew it was only a joke. He regained his composure, coughed into his hand to buy some time while stealing a glance at Jimin's face to find him, as anticipated, beyond amused. “Sky’s not clear enough. We need something colder,”

“Ah you're right. This trash city has so much light pollution. You just wait here till I get my tickets to the north globe which I left in that brothel where I work around the corner,”

Not a single hair in Jungkook was shaken; this attitude couldn’t possibly throw him off. If anything, he actually quite liked it. This Jimin guy seemed feisty. He liked that.

“Actually, I'd have loved to take you to the north globe, but you'll probably make a global warming there, Park Jimin,”

Jimin rolled his eyes and looked away, clearly stifling a smile while mumbling, “You can stop now. I already agreed to spend the night with you,”

Jungkook made a face at the word-choice. It seemed like another cheap one night stand. But truthfully, what else could it be?

Well, the answer was: a fuck-less night. Jimin had to leave a few minutes after they got to the bar. Poetic irony: Jungkook's phone was with Taehyung and Jimin's had just died. Consequently, adding to the last bit of clichés, Jungkook wrote his number on a tissue paper and handed it to Jimin as the latter basically stormed out of the bar, promising to call.

As Jungkook sat alone on the chair by the bar, clearly feeling the bartender check him out as he tried not to give in to his frustration, he decided at least he could drink out the night.

And such he did.

 

♥♥♥

 

To say he was starting the New Year on bitter grounds would be an understatement. Jungkook had asked Yoongi for a week off to work around the bitterness; regardless, it was unsolvable.

Jungkook deliberately chose the shortest chair to sit on behind the counter, being almost entirely hidden as he doodled angrily on what was soon-to-be the fifth crumpled paper. His fine-liner was one press away from having its tip split when the doorbells chimed in, announcing a new customer—saving Jungkook's innocent black fine-liner.

“Welcome to The ShrINK,” Jungkook said robotically, not bothering to look up from his doodle. It wasn’t even his job to be greeting customers. Fuck you, Kim Taehyung. “Would you like a tattoo or a piercing?”

“Just some eye-contact, please.”

Jungkook's eyes flicked up, barely believing his ears—a velvety voice as deserving of a heavenly face. The cause of his bitterness was leaning on the counter, flashing an angelic smile as though he had done nothing. But he did do something, namely, deprive Jungkook from his well-deserved fuck or his promised call.

All of that negativity was flushed down the drain on returning the gaze. It was hard to be anything but smiling when looking at Jimin. If anyone had told him that was the same guy he slept with on Halloween, the same guy that had nothing to do with the word ‘angelic’, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Apparently, life still had it in itself to surprise Jeon Jungkook.

Leaning on the counter, Jungkook propped his head on his interlaced fingers.

“Oh, look, it’s Mister I’ll Call—wait, he had a name,” Jungkook looked down, snapping his fingers multiple times as if trying to recall. When he looked up, Jimin was amused, one of the cherries in the bowl between his forefinger and thumb. “What was your name again?”

“I don't know,” he tilted his head, opening his mouth and eating the cherry. “Why don’t you consult your diary? I bet you have at least a page or two dedicated to my name—or wait, is it to my ass?”

Jungkook smiled; he could graciously lose this round for Jimin.

“I hope your excuse for not calling me is as good as those smartass comebacks,”

“I lost the paper.” Jimin replied simply, eating another cherry in the same manner that had Jungkook losing his focus for a number of beats. “I didn’t know where you live or anything about you either so it was kind of a dead end. I must say I was devastated,”

Jungkook cocked an eyebrow. “I can see that,”

Jimin laughed. He was halfway delivering another cherry to his lips when he stopped, studying Jungkook's expression. The younger had tried, really, but he couldn’t help the sarcasm.

“And you're here now because you responded to my mating birdcall?”

“So it was you,”

Jungkook’s knee-jerk reaction was a light slap to Jimin's chest, at which the latter was laughing and Jungkook couldn’t help picturing church bells—melodious and uplifting. Jungkook didn’t know what was up with him, treating a guy he met twice as though they were old friends.

“For what it’s worth,” Jimin leaned in, taking one of the cherries in his lips and taking his sweet time putting on a private show for Jungkook. Luckily, the latter was immune to that ‘amateur’ level of seduction. It didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the blissful sight nevertheless. “Seeing you now… makes me so gay.”

Jungkook was taken aback. He was confused because he thought he was the one with the lame one-liners here; so maybe Jimin just used different a kind of vocabulary. He squinted his eyes.

“Gay as in happy?

While Jimin was chewing the last bit of his cherry, his lips worked into a mischievous smile.

“Happy yes,” He uncrossed his legs with a subtle pop-off, getting up and staring daringly into the younger’s eyes. “Happy to have your dick up my ass.”

Jungkook was about to retort when a voice intervened,

“Please tell me you have met Jimin here some other way than your usual Jungkookian way,”

It was Yoongi—tired and rolling his eyes, albeit his smile. While Jimin gave a wry smile and Yoongi was already making way for the blond, arms open for a hug. Jungkook’s words were already spilling out of his mouth.

“And what’s the usual Jungkookian way, hyung?” He had left his chair and was leaning on the counter, next to where Jimin was sitting a few seconds ago.

Yoongi turned around, expression passive. “I don't know. I’ll give the representative of Jeon Jungkook Must Die club a call and ask them why they hate you so much,”

Jungkook shrugged; Yoongi did make a good point. He thought the most pressing matter now was why Min Yoongi, a ‘Don’t Touch Me If You Haven’t Passed the Twelve Labours to Becoming my Friend’ elitist, was hugging Park Jimin, a stranger supposedly.

Jimin beat him to it; maybe Jungkook was staring too much.

“I'm a trainee here, now,”

Jungkook's eyes flicked to Yoongi in a blink—confused, betrayed.

Yoongi unlatched himself. “You're the one who drove my precious tattooist away, Jungkookie. Suran would have jumped out of the window if you'd flirted with her or with another customer,”

“I did not—” Jungkook tried to defend himself, arms folding, when Yoongi’s sharp dead expression cut him short. Well, he wouldn’t have believed Jungkook anyway. “Well you know, I'm needy and I care for no one and I need the attention and she was there to give it” —he walked up till he was in Yoongi’s face, pouting innocently— “Where was Yoongi-hyung when Jungkookie needed the reassurance that he was a good boy?”

“You're the reason humans were taught how to snort,” Yoongi deadpanned and Jungkook laughed, bumping into Jimin who had to steady him in the laughing-wholeheartedly process. “There’s nothing that could possibly be worse than you,”

“The only thing worse than my personality are my pickup lines,” Jungkook shrugged.

“You're really that miserable,” Jimin cocked a mocking eyebrow at him.

Jungkook exaggerated his pout, coupling it with some puppy-eyes. “I just need some love, and someone to love me,”

Yoongi was nodding, as if seconding Jungkook's words.

“You desperately need someone, yeah,” Jimin nodded apprehensively.

“Love,” Jungkook carried on in the same manner, “it is the thing that keeps me alive until I die,”

“Or until it kills you,” Jimin replied simply, halfway smirking.

Jungkook almost flinched at that. Without intending to, he was staring at Jimin who was oblivious to the look. After a few seconds, Jungkook snapped out of it.

“Yup,” He said, shaking his head softly as he smiled. He needed to get over that little mishap. “Definitely better than Suran,”

“I hope you don’t drive me to wanting to kill myself too,” Jimin teased. “Tho, to be honest, I'd love a different kind of death at your hands,”

“Ahh, there it comes,” Jungkook looked up and sniffed the air, “the sweet scent of fake people with their fake actions,”

Jimin gasped. “Oh my god, I thought I was a pretty good actor,” he stepped before Yoongi and barely a breath away from Jungkook. “How did you know I faked it, officer?”

At that subtle mockery, Jungkook felt an itch under his left eye, to where his middle finger was slowly raised—scratching the area. It made Jimin laugh louder, body flinging in Yoongi’s direction. Yoongi was neither surprised at the gesture, nor discomforted—just confused.

“Do you guys have bad blood or something?” Yoongi asked resignedly, eyes shifting between the duo.

“Not that I know of,” Jungkook replied. “This Park Jimin just doesn’t do civil,”

Jimin took a step in Jungkook's direction, smile menacingly wide. “Glad you admit not being civil.”

Despite returning the pseudo-smile, Jungkook didn’t have the time to be offended; Yoongi had put a hand before the younger’s chest, more or less glaring at him.

“I’ll be back in a few hours. Actually, we open in an hour.” Yoongi added meaningfully. “And Tae doesn’t deal well with blood. Just talk it out or fuck it out or whatever,”

“We’re good,” they both said in sync, smiling even more irritably at the realization they had twined a reply. Yoongi didn’t fall for the pseudo smiles.

On muttering a resigned ‘please don’t kill each other’, Yoongi checked his phone, told Jungkook to give Jimin an ‘orientation’, and left the studio.

Take Two: where the fuck was the piece of shit called Kim Taehyung?

For a few comfortable beats, they stood staring at each other, with the so-called ‘customer service’ smiles plastered on their faces.

“Shall I give you a tour?” Jungkook asked, motioning to the alleyway leading to the inking room and away from the booking-slash-waiting room. Jimin nodded, checking his surroundings as he walked before Jungkook.

“As you can see, this isn’t your everyday studio,” Jungkook began, pushing away the grey cascade coil and exiting the dimly-lit hallway into a much bigger, much more intense in décor room. He had been working here since college days, and the electric blue fluorescent lamps still gave him goosebumps; the purple gradients of the rooms still did too. “It has five rooms and feels almost like a labyrinth,”

The needle-sets seemed much more malicious right now as Jungkook illustrated.

“That was the waiting area, where people schedule their sessions and we get the paperwork done. There’s this mood-building room,” Jungkook gave a swooping motion, trying not to be affected by the Enya’s voice lamenting in the background or the scented-candles burning high and already holding him in a trance. He could see Jimin taking in the walls, with the diverse patterns painted on them. The inking room was most spacious, most beautiful, even when Jungkook was biased because his favourite room wasn’t the inking room.

“Meet our computer because customers are an indecisive unprepared pain in the ass. Cleanass chairs, cleanass counter. This cabinet is for the ink and the caps—pick your colour. Another for antibacterial soap and petroleum jelly—comes handy in more ways than one. This one is for torture tools and the razors. Biohazard bin is here. That’s the thermal fax there next to the stencil. And here we have the tattoo machine, the torture chair, which vibrates by the way, and the torturer’s chair which is prepared to send you to hell,”

“It looks more like a chair equipped to send you to cloud nine and not hell tho,” Jimin said flatly. Jungkook ignored the remark, as satisfied as it made him. “If the rumours about you are true then someday I’ll take a wild guess at how many times you’ve done it here,”

Though he decided to ignore this remark too, Jungkook turned around just in time not to miss Jimin's wink. Jimin should wonder more about the two couches in the room—or the loveseat. That love seat should be incinerated.

“Some of hyung’s finest works are hung on the wall,” Jungkook elaborated then he started walking around the room, introducing Jimin to the Tattoo Binder, which the latter barely bat an eye on. Jungkook thought that would be the most interesting thing in the room. But no; Jimin seemed to really like the bar.

He stopped walking and put his hands on his hips. “Here’s the bar station, where you’ll find a very fine, tho half crazy, young man experimenting with drinks. If he offers you a drink, turn him down,”

Running a finger along the bar’s counter, Jimin smirked.

“Just for the drinks?”

Apparently, Jungkook's smug smirk wouldn’t part with his face for a while.

Giving a brief tour there, Jungkook told Jimin about the lounge room aka staff room. He only gestured upwards—two levels above them—when mentioning where Yoongi practically lived with his boyfriend.

“We have one last stop before the Hall of Shame,” Jungkook's smile was lopsided; his very own self-roasting inside joke. He was no longer leading the way; he was walking side by side with Jimin, careful not to have an inch of his bare arm touch Jimin's lest he showed the latter exactly how he did it on the chair—apropos of his previous question.

“The tattoo’s blueprints,” Jungkook had stopped, turned to face Jimin, and made quotation marks with his fingers. He started walking again, but Jimin spoke after a few beats, having Jungkook steal a glance from the corner of his eye.

“Mhm,” Jimin had this turn-on half-smile plastered on his face, “so you are Yoongi-hyung’s artist,”

“Yea,” Jungkook smiled softly. When the residues of nostalgia had worn off, he halted to face Jimin again, notwithstanding the downcast eyes. “Spent four years in fine arts with ink stains on my clothes to ink people’s skins. Great life,”

Jimin bopped Jungkook's chin, drawing the confused boy’s full attention. He was smiling impishly; Jungkook braced himself.

“Bet since you enrolled it became a Fineass Arts School,”

“Fuck! So this is how it feels,” Jungkook said through a huffed laugh, fending off the tingles shooting down his spine. Albeit the line was cheesy, it still gave you feels. Perhaps that was how he was still in the game even though he knew fully well how cheesy he could get. “You're good,”

Jimin straightened up proudly. “Thanks. You kinda are too.”

Jungkook let himself indulge his whims for a few seconds. Under the warm fluorescent lights, was Jimin standing two feet away from him, body seemingly arching towards him, smile screaming seven shades of flirty, and lips in their perpetual kiss-ready pose.

There were two last things to show Jimin, of which one Jungkook was more interested. This should be the fun part.

“This is the Confession Room,” Jungkook was turning the doorknob, gesturing for Jimin to enter while holding the door ajar—prompting him to while he waited outside.

Jimin stood at the middle of the room, doing a slow three-sixty, thoroughly soaking in the square room. It had three canvas hung, with a small box holding a number of empty flash-cards next to it. The canvas were separated like three booths, with red curtains giving you privacy while you occupied the booth. There was a round table with a fountain pen and a stack of papers carrying numbers on top of it. The room always struck Jungkook as Chinese, with its red-and-gold colours, its velvety curtains, and the paint-brushes hanging next to the canvas. It had a big rectangular window overlooking the street.

“This is the bigger version of that smaller box you’ve probably seen before entering The ShrINK,” Jungkook explained. Jimin was holding up one of the papers that had ‘Q88’ on it. “People confess here and we tattoo it later, if they want to,”

 “The ShrINK, huh?” Jimin asked, still looking around him. He walked back until he was next to Jungkook, eyes lingering on one of the empty canvas. “Catchy name.”

“You should’ve seen what hyung initially wanted to name it,” Jungkook began, lips pressed into a thin line and eyes widening for a beat. He hadn’t intended to jab that much sarcasm into his tone, but there he was. Jeon Jungkook lived to disappoint. “The Shrink Ink Inc. Confess the Mess.”

Hadn’t Jimin clutched to Jungkook's arm at the last second, he would have fallen to the floor in spite of the heartfelt laughter. Jungkook felt his own smile spreading, lowkey disbelieving someone actually found Seokjin’s serious Mis-Name Incident funny. Yoongi still had nightmares about that day, sweating and screaming the wrong kind of ‘hyung, please don’t’ in the dead of the night.

Confess the Mess?” Jimin parroted, barely ridding himself the last of his laughter. “Is it bad I like it? I have a tendency to like bad things,”

“No wonder you're hitting on me,”

Jimin chuckled and shook his head, leading himself to the last room. Jungkook stood watching Jimin's back for a few beats. Jimin had one graceful sway; he knew how to make most of that lithe body, and he knew how to keep your eyes on him. Jungkook wasn’t even ashamed he was feasting his eyes. Finally, he pretended to clear his throat, having pretend-growled into his fist.

“Wow,”

That was the first thing Jungkook heard when he caught up with Jimin in the Hall of Shame. In more or less a chronological order, were hung framed tattoo flashes. Jungkook stood next to Jimin, studying the same picture and pretending the story—his memories of making it—didn’t sting.

“I hope you're enjoying the art,” he said absent-mindedly after a while of their silence—of staring forward.

When Jimin made no sound for too long, Jungkook had to turn his head to the side; Jimin was staring. He waited ten seconds before he called Jimin out on his bullshit.

“What are you looking at?”

“Sorry,” Jimin tilted his head, flashing a playful smile. “I thought you were the art,”

“You're not going to fluster me,” Jungkook half-lied. Well, right now he was not flustered.

“I wasn’t trying to,” Jimin was talking in this real low tone; Jungkook had vivid flashbacks of a certain night. High-pitched or low-pitched, Jungkook would be on his knees. “It was genuine.”

Was it?

Should it matter to Jungkook?

Jimin's small hand was on Jungkook's chest now; Jungkook could count the number of steady beats his heart still kept. That was a sign, right? His heart still kept its normal rhythm even when the guy haunting his dreams for the past two months was looking at him with warm eyes, and touching him with even warmer hands.

This must have gone on for over a minute or so—this brazen staring. Brazen, yes: college-talk for lustful. Alternatively known as the crux of Jungkook's problem—the pure lust without the essential ingredients spicing ‘things’ up. In fact, lust should be the spicing-up factor, not the foundation. People just never got that right. Jimin was the first to look away; Jungkook cleared his throat and looked away too, glad Jimin had removed his hand.

“So,” Jimin began after a beat. Jungkook might have imagined that hesitant lip bite that didn’t last two seconds. Fuck; he would advocate world peace if it meant this booty would be his booty when all was said and done. “Truce?”

“Is that because you want to get in my pants?”

“Don’t you?”

“Want to get in my pants?” Jungkook asked; he was glad he was back to his normal rhythm—as far away from the antithesis of lust as possible. “Heard science proved it was impossible to do that unless you remove your lower ribs. So I think I’ll pass.”

Jungkook was too busy laughing his ass off at Jimin's expression to confirm whether or not the shorter had snorted.

They were leaving the room now. Some distant corner in Jungkook's mind warned him Jimin shouldn’t linger too long in the Hall of Shame. By the time they set foot in the inking room, Jungkook was already heading for the bar—on to mix some light drink. They open in twenty minutes? So what? He could use a drink.

“This place must have cost a fortune tho,” Jimin said chattily, still soaking in his surroundings.

Jungkook chuckled, feeling nostalgic at the bumpy start of this place.

“It kinda did.” He gave a weary sigh, having Jimin's full attention with this dramatic manner. “We saved the place from being shut down. Hyung and I, we complement each other—work wise.” On handing Jimin his drink, he folded his arms so he would keep from gesticulating wildly. He couldn’t help the shoulder shrugs and occasional head-tilts nonetheless.

“We like it—people like it. It keeps us going, their confessions I mean, because it keeps me coming up with ideas. Sometimes they come in and tell us the story directly—it’s another policy of ours: you're not charged for the tattoo if you tell us the story behind your confession.” He paused to let out a small laugh; hardly anyone did that because it took so much courage. “And the business is a bit therapeutic, for the confessors mostly, like we give them an outlet, a way to vent. Anonymously they write their confessions on a slip of paper, hyung gives that to me without knowing whom I’d be ‘conceptualizing’ for if they want a tattoo and not just a mere means of confessing. To me, they’re just numbers, so I wouldn’t be violating their privacy,”

“You don’t actually see the tattoo on their skin?” Jimin asked, genuine interest underlying his tone. Jungkook liked that sharp spark in the brown eyes. Neither of them had touched his drink. Perhaps neither of them would.

“Nope.” Jungkook parked his butt against the counter, trying to smile as evenly as possible. “People entrusted their ‘sins’” —again, he made quotation marks— “to us. I don’t want to know who did what. Some confessions are pretty ugly there, Jimin.”

Jimin's expression was unreadable. He looked away for a beat then back at Jungkook. For a second, Jungkook contemplated adding something—to rectify, to clarify, to justify. But something in him reigned him, told him to tear his eyes away from Jimin's expression, his mind from the plaguing self-doubt.

“And Yoongi-hyung doesn’t know the story behind your art or the tattoo either?” Though Jimin needn’t Jungkook's head-shake, for his question was rhetorical, he still let out an impressed whistle. “That’s some self-restraint the two of you have here.”

“Hyung would get the illustration of a tattoo, my created ‘concept’, client would approve, happy that we gave them the meaning they were looking for, and hyung would ink them without ever knowing the confession he’s marking them with. And he never asks,” he paused to let out a chuckle. “Typical Min Yoongi.”

Jimin was playing with his drink, his forefinger distractedly—no, dreamily tracing the rim of the glass. Jungkook found himself smiling. Just what was this Park Jimin’s story?

“Ask me again,” he said cheekily, snatching Jimin from his romantic reverie.

“Ask you out?” Jimin seemed confused. It was off—seeing him this thrown-off, replying normally without any bite or tease.

Jungkook approached him, slowly. He took the glass from Jimin's hand; perhaps it was the wrong decision.

“The truce, Jimin,” Jungkook leaned in with his head, murmuring in a low voice Jimin's name. “The truce,” he repeated, sifting through Jimin's eyes. This co-worker thingie would either make or break Jeon Jungkook; he could feel it. He should have learned, five years ago, that innocent flirting led to problematic ramifications. By innocent, ‘good intentioned’ was more meant.

“I mean I'd love to have sex with you” —Jimin's eyebrow shot upwards, ‘naturally’ it seemed to be saying; Jungkook carried on his speech in the same cheeky fashion— “but I’ll kinda be seeing you every day, so I’d love to try civil,

At Jungkook's comic imitation of Jimin's tone, the elder was laughing.

“Well, I was mostly hoping for the sex but I can tolerate that too,”

Jungkook backed away a bit, skeptic. He was about to say something smart, following the footsteps of Karma is a bitch but Jimin took Jungkook's face in his hands, surprisingly softly, and was kissing him. If Rimming were a kiss, it wouldn’t have been better. Jimin was biting his lip once he let go; Jungkook was smirking, not fully backing away yet. Jimin sighed, mostly into Jungkook's mouth and the younger fought not to close his eyes.

“We have ten minutes,”

Jungkook laughed. “Do we?”

Jimin jumped on the counter, slowly readjusting his posture as his legs kept parting and parting. Jungkook closed the distance, watching Jimin moan as he stretched.

“So you didn’t fake it?”

“Three times?” Jimin seemed affronted. “I'd be a starring in a movie, bathing in money, and not in a tattoo studio if my acting skills were that good.”

“I know some movies that would earn you a lot with the skills that you do have,” Jungkook said suggestively, slipping before the counter and feeling Jimin's knees against his sides.

“Come here and” —Jimin yanked at Jungkook's tee, grabbing the younger more closely towards him. In one sharp tug, the shirt was off— “co-star in it then,”

Jungkook’s laugh was cut short by the kiss. This was the greatest day at work.

Park Jimin. Park-oh-my-god-Jimin.

 

♥♥♥

 

One of the good things about new years was supposedly the ‘fresh start’, the ‘leave your worries behind’—the ‘turn the page and start anew’. Jungkook didn’t need to turn the page; Jungkook needed to burn the entire book. Two years ago, after vainly trying to keep fighting for something that was simply not worth it, he had tried to do so—set the book aflame, that is. But what happened was that he almost got caught up in the fire; and he couldn’t emerge unsinged.

Next time he was having the time of his life with Jimin, he would make sure he burned his phone so it wouldn’t ruin his mood on the same night—or the following morning. As a result of this sour mood, he was early to work. Yoongi had better credit him for that. Jeon Jungkook should at least try to pretend he was okay.

Pretend (verb).

Deflect by jokes and downplay his pain while everyone kind of fell for that illusion that Jeon Jungkook was okay.

Yoongi hadn't even looked up from his laptop when Jungkook entered. He could smell more than the elder’s coffee and aftershave mingling with the studio’s scent in the air.

“So I didn’t come back to clean up either of your blood last night,” Yoongi began, tone disinterested. “But” —he looked up, smiling thinly— “I did have to clean up your mess.”

Thank you, petroleum jelly.

“Good morning, hyung,” Jungkook ignored the innuendo and threw his bag on the couch.

“I take it that last night was fun?”

When Yoongi closed the laptop lid, Jungkook replied, “He’s cool.”

He waited a few beats, studying Jungkook who was now sitting next to his bag.

“What’s with you?”

“Junghyun-hyung left for Busan this morning, Dawon gave me one of those calls, my car has been paint–splashed, I think something is wrong with my mom, and I still miss Yeri like hell.” Jungkook rubbed his temples. “Is Tae here?”

Yoongi didn’t reply for a few seconds; Jungkook knew that ‘I want you to feel better but I'm not sure if you want to talk about it now’-look. Yoongi had been giving it to him for four years now.

“Jin-hyung went to pick him up. He said they’ve somewhere to go before showing up here,” Yoongi sighed. “So it’ll just be you, me, and Jiminie for a few hours. And we have three appointments this morning alone.”

Jungkook got up, corner of lips quirking upwards. “You should consider hiring a secretary, hyung,”

“Hmm,” Yoongi narrowed his eyes. “I did. Twice actually. And one of my employees flirted them into quitting. Now where did I go wrong?”

That was sufficient to make Jungkook laugh, at which he muttered a quick thanks. Yoongi pretended not to know what that small thanks was for, but Jungkook could see it in the soft smile spreading across the elder’s face. As he headed for the Confession Room, he realized how grateful he had always been for those small gestures—especially on Yoongi’s part.

He knew for a fact Jimin was there; he could smell the same wisteria-slash-lilies scent in the air, getting stronger as he passed the Hall of Shame by. Still, Jungkook chose to be alone with himself—and with the confessions for a while.

Sometimes the confessions were too taxing. It wasn’t about the cheating or the lying or the unwanted children or the more-often-than-not lack of remorse, it was about what reading those paper slips did to Jungkook. Though, truthfully, there were fun things—light confessions like pretending you were insane to ‘have the really good meds’ or funny, harmless misunderstandings. Jungkook’s favourites were always those syntactically ambiguous confessions, where he could have his fun making a pun or two. Those which gave him the most grief were those melancholy-written ones, as if he could feel how much a tormented soul this sinner had; and it wasn’t just about the prose—it was about the sincerity-imbued feelings.

It had been a while (Hours?? Centuries?? Who knew) before Jungkook’s mind left the three confession slips and was back to reality. It was done under the command of Taehyung’s voice—that idiot-like laugh he had that Jungkook just loved. He stacked away his papers, stopped the music, and exited the room.

Apparently, it was hours after dusk; Jungkook could see the reddish hues giving way to darker shades of black through the windows. Even the hallways felt chillier with nightfall. The second he was back to the waiting area, he found the person he was looking for—though, not to his advantage. Was Jungkook already smiling knowingly?

There was ‘jaws dropping’, ‘pants dropping’, then there was Kim Taehyung. Dating or not, he was brazenly staring at Jimin as the latter drank his water—head all tilted back, Adam-apple rhythmically moving up and down, gulps audible enough in the silence of the room.

Jungkook knew this would be interesting. He folded his arms and leaned on the doorframe. He wished Namjoon was there—or Yoongi. Instead, there was Taehyung alone with Jimin. The latter looked like he was god’s most favourite angel, fallen as he seemed. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Jimin was glowing; he was wearing a white tee, snowy ripped fit jeans, and white sneakers. After all, it was a feat to have Kim Taehyung in a room and have your eyes swerving to another, not just taken by their sense of fashion but also making Taehyung’s innate beauty dull in comparison.

Jimin was laughing—or was that giggling? Just what kind of a conversationalist wizard was Taehyung?

“Why does everyone keep staring,” Jimin set down the bottle of water and turned to Taehyung who, thankfully, had his jaw closed now. “You remind me of Mr. International Playboy here the first time I saw him. Actually, you're doing a good impression of him right now, how do you do that?”

Jungkook could see Taehyung struggling to string words: opening and shutting down his mouth, yanking at his collar as he cleared his dry throat, thirsty—eager for water.

“Yeah,” he finally spoke up, both hands on his hips as he smiled unevenly. “People tell me I have a gift for impressions,”

“Oh,” Jimin gave Taehyung a light slap on the chest, smiling softly. “Then maybe after we get to know each other well, you can do me,”

“Hopefully.” Taehyung threw both hands up in the air, mouthing an ‘I know, right’ in that unbelievable-tell-me-about-it manner.

Enter Jungkook. It was amusing while it lasted, but Kim Taehyung wasn’t to be trusted because Jimin, too, seemed to be that perfect arrangement of atoms constructed and instructed to flirt with any breathing being. He hoped, at least, that Taehyung had caught the glare he had given him while he walked to him.

“I see you’ve already met Jimin,”

“Jimin who?” Taehyung asked, distracted. He wasn’t even looking at his friend, and Jungkook wouldn’t blame him; but the taller could use some subtlety.

Jungkook forgot he hadn't told Taehyung about Smokin’ Ass’s name. He didn’t know if Yoongi had told him about Jimin being aboard. And so, he leaned in, lowering his voice as inconspicuously as he could. “The solid nine guy,”

“Excuse you!” Jimin interjected, affronted. “I'm a solid ten.”

“Nah,” Jungkook scrunched up his nose, half ruefully, half teasingly as he turned to Jimin. “Not with me. You’ll have to settle for a nine.”

Jimin cocked an eyebrow; Taehyung had an amused grin on his face.

“Fine.” His expression was passive. “I’ll be the 9 to your 6, Jeon Jungkook—which I think is pretty convenient.”

While Taehyung was laughing his petty ass off, Jungkook clicked his tongue, trying to keep his indignation at bay. Heavens! This Park Jimin was sure something—something Jungkook should steer clear from.

With his residual laughter lingering in the air, Taehyung was passing by Jungkook, heading to the lounge. He paused, putting a hand on Jungkook's shoulder and making sure the latter caught his eyes.

“If you don’t marry him” —his eyes were emphatic; Jungkook would have mistaken that for compassion— “I will.”

Because he could feel Jimin's amused eyes trained on him, Jungkook kept his eyes fixed on Taehyung as the latter exited the room.

“Does he not know you proposed to me already?” Jimin faked a confused expression.

Jungkook turned around, snorting.

“Please! Tae thinks I only propose when I get them pregnant.”

“Damn! And there I thought my record went down in history by saying yes after the third date.”

“Third date?” Jungkook deadpanned, watching Jimin slip into one of the chairs. “Guess then I'm flattered to be an exception.”

Jimin winked. “I didn’t say yes, did I?”

Jungkook laughed. Boy, if Jimin stuck around long enough, Jungkook would give the years he had unrightfully stolen from his lifespan back to it—with interest.

By the time the two of them moved to the inking room, Jungkook decided to loiter around for a bit before leaving. They were to close in seventy minutes; he could kill time—mind you, spend time—with Jimin. He left the door ajar and sat on one of chairs before the bar, leaning on the counter and watching Jimin. He could think of million ways to approach the elder but none of them seemed right. And his brain was doing that thing where it went momentarily blank every time Jimin’s ringed fingers threaded through his hair.

“Sorry, I forgot something,” Taehyung barged into the room; Jungkook almost jumped out of his seat, startled out of his erotic reverie. It all happened in the blink of an eye: Taehyung stopping before the ink-cabinet, hesitating before Jimin.

“Can you lend me your lips for a kiss?

Jimin was laughing, full-body-fling-eyes-closed laugh. Taehyung gave Jungkook a thumbs-up and was heading for the door.

“You really came back for that?” Jungkook asked, indignant.

“Don’t be a buzz kill,” Taehyung slapped Jungkook's chest. “I needed some oil for my camera. My director senses are kicking in and I'm filming for the rest of the night,”

“You want to be a director?” Jimin asked, a million-watt smile lighting up his face.

“Well, yeah,” Taehyung was grinning, pushing away from Jungkook. “It’s actually what I do,”

Jimin walked slowly to Taehyung, his finger drawing circles on Taehyung’s chest as he smiled coquettishly at him. “Well, I say we have less talk and more action.”

That was when Jungkook face-palmed. Compared to him when it came down to flirting, Taehyung was at least twice as lame, yet there was Park Jimin flirting with him. He decided to let things play out at their own pace, watching them almost amusedly as they still flirted with one another.

“By the way, Kookie,” Taehyung said when he was by the door. “That means you close the studio tonight, since, you know, I won't be around,”

“What the f—” Jungkook was halfway objecting when Taehyung gave him a meaningful look, signaling Jimin out with his chin. “Oh. Oh. Okay then.”

At that Jimin was slouched on the couch, legs spread, tilting his head at Jungkook. Such an open, inviting gesture, except that Jungkook didn’t think it was particularly inviting him.

“So,” He began with a casual, friendly smile, trying to throw off Jimin's guards. “Tell me more about yourself,”

“Why? I already got the job,”

Did this guy knew how to respond to a question? Admittedly, a huge part of what intrigued Jungkook about Jimin was the way he went on a par with him at the teasing game, though it kind of baffled him that the tables could be turned around and he was at the receiving end of said ‘teasing’. It baffled him because he wasn’t used to it—it being a first.

“Pamper the madman,” Jungkook insisted half-heartedly. “My therapist told me I might disappear if I didn’t get my daily dosage of attention,”

Jimin only bit his lip and winked at Jungkook.

No answers; cool. But it was fine; he wasn’t planning on giving up. Jungkook was used to having to work people out his own way—slowly, subtly. And perhaps, just a bit—a little tiny bit—he enjoyed the mysterious vibes Jimin was exuding. He could almost hear Yoongi in the background, snarking a small ‘typical Virgo trait’.

Brick by brick, he would build Jimin up; he would check off traits, cross out or add ones, to his mental list of Jimin’s Persona.

And so, he headed to the bar, mixing himself a drink. He could feel Jimin's eyes linger on him for a while, probably judging him. Jungkook didn’t care, not really.

“Do you want a drink?”

Jungkook was already betting himself Jimin would refuse; and such he did. He sat down at the bar, enjoying his drink as he leafed through one of the old binders. Some confessions he could recall vividly, others barely registered in his memory. It was funny how their customers never once rejected any of Jungkook's concepts, even when he bullshitted his way through the sketch. Because not everything was deep and meaningful, and not all the pain was poetry.

Halfway through his first drink, he could feel Jimin taking the seat beside him, silently peering into the binder. After Jungkook poured himself a second drink, he decided to spark up a conversation—though the word might imply it was whimsical whereas it had been on his mind since he touched the binder and the memories came back to him.

“Is it just me or do you ever look at someone and get this ‘wow I'm such an asshole’-feeling because that person has a life just as intricate as you,” Jungkook said, sipping from his drink and flipping the page. He was deliberately not making eye-contact with Jimin, though he could swear, the alcohol was heightening his hearing so much he could hear Jimin breathing. “Like it’s such an obvious fact but you're so caught up in yourself that you don’t think of them as people with their own lives, but as people complementing your story.”

Jimin had that deliberate open-mouth look on his face—one that Jungkook established always preceded a carefully thought-out comment, or a withheld one. Perhaps the latter was more of Jungkook projecting than actually interpreting.

“It’s just about subject-object perspective you know,” Jimin turned around in his seat, his legs brushing up against Jungkook's. And boy, it felt good. “It has nothing to do with being an asshole—”

“Trust me,” Jungkook interrupted. “I'm an asshole. I know me well enough.”

“I was saying,” Jimin ignored that. “Everyone has their own vivid life with mosaic-like details. While you’re your own story’s hero, you’re a secondary character in another’s, and vice versa,”

Jungkook narrowed his eyes, gulping down and feeling some electricity in his veins as he smiled at Jimin.

“You’ve read Hegel?”

Jimin had that half-smile of his; so much did Jungkook wish it were flirtier.

“You know Hegel,”

Cool, Jungkook needn’t the admission, and he shouldn’t feel offended either at Jimin's tone. As Jungkook set down his glace, Jimin turned away, facing the bar again. They lapsed into comfortable silence, Jungkook's nowhere-near-tipsy mind acting tipsily and letting itself look differently at Jimin. Nothing changed: he had the same faraway look—which was deadly beautiful, as though he didn’t belong in the here and now because he was destined for something unachievable beyond the conception of the present or the future. Park Jimin was in the same clothes, wearing his beauty on his sleeve while maintaining a distance.

Nothing changed. Nothing should.

“What sucks is that thought tho,” Jimin began and Jungkook was surprised the elder knew something but how to kill a conversation. ”The person you’re marginalizing in your story has a big role to fulfil in theirs. Or worse: that person you think is a secondary character in your story, is making you the hero of theirs,”

At that, Jungkook was laughing. He almost knocked the glass over on Jimin’s pants. Perhaps he should have.

Though Jimin hadn't voiced it, his eyes screamed ‘what’s funny’. But no, Jungkook made it a point a few years ago: if you weren’t going to speak out your mind then he wasn’t going to guess. He was tired of reading into everything; he was tired of coming off as the only person trying—as the only person trying too hard.

“I'm curious tho,” Jungkook crossed his leg, turning in his seat and gesturing to Jimin to carry on. “What do you mean making me the hero of their story?”

“Say we are two people who happen to be crossing paths at some point of our lives,” Jimin postulated, expression casual. “To me, you might be a hurricane wrecking my life while to you, I'm a mere someone you know, another casual, another face in the crowd.”

Jungkook was silent for a few seconds—that kind of audible hush befalling a room in courtesy of admiring a work of art. On top of his breath-taking beauty, Jimin was also smart. Jungkook straightened up, craning his neck to the side. He was interested the night they had met; now he was even more so. He gulped down the drink, and got up because his legs felt stiff. In a matter of seconds, Jimin was preoccupied with his phone—texting someone. For a few minutes, all Jungkook did was lean to the cabinet, aware Jimin was conscious of his staring. Still, he couldn’t help it.

Grabbing the binder, he stared heading to the desk, which happened to be where Jimin was standing, texting again.

“So, who broke your heart?”

“No one broke my heart,” Jimin shot him a meaningful look while half-smirking, “and stop fishing.”

For something that was more on the insulting than it was on the joke side, Jungkook sure laughed too hard.

“You're good,” Jungkook wiped a tear from his eye, sitting on the counter again.

“I'm not,” Jimin fixed something Jungkook's ass had just messed up. “You're just way too bad at this subtle thing.”

Jungkook didn’t comment; Jimin got back to his phone. He found it fun watching Jimin's fingers do their little dance as he typed on.

“You're a Libra, right?”

Jimin slowly lifted up his head and narrowed his eyes. “When have I told you?”

“You haven’t. That’s the fun of it all.” Jungkook chuckled. He wasn’t ‘venturing a guess’, he was ‘reaching a conclusion’. “You had to be one of those air signs and you just seem so much like a Libra.”

“Why?” Jimin had his mocking smile and derisive eyebrow-cock up already, putting away his phone. “Because I seem ‘moody’?”

“Hey, I'm a Virgo,” Jungkook lifted both hands up; he didn’t even know Jimin well enough to call him moody; it was a mere guess but thanks for the heads-up. “I'm not judging.”

“What’s wrong with being a Virgo? We’re all human at the end of the day,”

“Maybe,” Jungkook shrugged. “But we’re not all emotional, annoying, and needy. Virgos are lowkey Satan’s spawns.”

“Your sense of humour is really messed up, you know that?”

Jungkook was nodding emphatically. “I just make too many jokes cause deep inside I'm just sad,”

“You're deflecting,” Jimin shot him a look, that half-smile plastered on his lips; Jungkook felt a laugh build in the back of his throat. “Admitting that won't undo the fact it’s true,”

Jungkook whistled; Jimin inquisitively narrowed his eyes, so Jungkook shrugged.

“I'm not used to being outsmarted by Libras,” He teased. “So much for a romantic,”

Jimin leaned on the counter, opened his mouth to say something then thought the better of it. Jungkook knew Jimin knew he was fishing, but still he waited. He knew that pensive itching-to-let-it-out eye-narrow and sealed lips; Jungkook himself had that expression more often than not.

“So let me get this straight,” Jimin was speaking slowly—deliberately. “Because I'm Libra, I should be a romantic only but not so much of an intellectual?”

“Aha,” Jungkook replied with too much amusement underlying his voice. “That’s what the book says,”

“Oh,” Jimin shook his head, laughing though without much humour. “You're one of those people.”

Normally, Jungkook would have been offended, but this—Jimin's expression, his mocking tone, Jimin’s overall everything—was too fun for that anticlimactic feeling.

“Yeah. I take it that you think it’s bullshit,”

“Yup.” Jimin gave a two thumbs-up. “To the core.”

“Huh,” Jungkook sat down, studying Jimin.

“What?” Jimin asked.

“Nothing.”

Jimin kept fixing Jungkook with his stare for a few countable beats. Jungkook liked it that Jimin had it in him to be interested in something instead of this overall disinterested-in-Jungkook attitude.

“You don’t believe in Horoscopes at all?” Jungkook asked. It was a lie; he was offended. He always was when people didn’t admit the power of the stars. “Like not one bit?”

“You know what, I'm starting to believe in that baloney,” Jimin was smiling. “Libras and Virgos just can't have a relation. They are that incompatible.”

Though Jungkook saw the sarcasm miles away, the comment still hit him—with that bloody half-smirk Jimin always wore. And it started him laughing; he could see Jimin watching him amusedly.

“I see that you know your ‘baloney’ inside out,”

“Well, you gotta know what you'd be attacking else why are you attacking,”

Jungkook was impressed. “Smart.”

This time, it was Jungkook who got out his phone; Taehyung was asking for sexting advice. After a while of distracted sappy advice, Jungkook looked up from his phone; Jimin’s face was still as unreadable. He wondered whom the elder was texting—at least he knew it wasn’t Taehyung. Really, though, that look on Jimin's face had Jungkook thinking all sorts of NSFW things. So much composure, such intense aura.

“You don’t draw, no?”

“Not really.” Jimin replied without looking up.

“Not really but you're still here as a tattoo artist,”

“Art is just a hobby,”

Jungkook narrowed his eyes, folding his arms.

“Read?”

“Not much,”

“Are you into poetry?”

“No,” Jimin spared Jungkook a second to smile at him. “Have you always been an annoying demanding ass?”

“I prefer ‘dick’, but all my life, yes,” Jungkook replied, unfolding his arms. “You play any instruments?”

“No…”

“Cool.” Jungkook nodded to himself, looking away. He tried to count to thirty before turning to Jimin again—but boy, hadn't he always been bad at maths?

“You don’t have any hobbies?”

“What’s with the twenty questions?” Jimin chuckled a nervous laugh. Jungkook didn’t miss the ‘distancing’ undertones of the question-slash-reaction. Was it so bad to let Jungkook know anything about him?

“Technically I only asked five.” Jimin rolled his eyes so Jungkook sighed and added, “Just roll with it,”

Jimin made a face, his fingers impatiently tapping the phone’s screen.

“Please?” Jungkook prompted hesitantly.

“No, I don’t have any hobbies.”

“None?”

Jimin shook his head. It didn’t sit well with a Jungkook.

“You don’t sing? You don’t dance? You don’t do sports?”

There was a bit of a pause, in which Jimin gave Jungkook a turn-away smile after shaking his head. He seemed to think that was rhetorical so, again, Jungkook prompted him with his a ‘go on’ motion of his hands.

“I'm a pretty plain guy,” Jimin shrugged.

Well, wasn’t that the lie of the century? Jungkook wanted to bang his head against the wall; this was hopeless.

“Okay,” Jungkook shrugged and started walking back to the supplies room. “But you know I don’t buy that.”

He could hear Jimin laughing. Yes, please, start laughing the second Jungkook walked out of the room. Because, sure, Jimin was one to laugh and joke around everyone and be nice to them but when it came to Jungkook, his ‘nice’ meant losing at their tug-o-war at Teasing. But to let Jungkook feast his eyes and bless his ears with the melodious laugh? Noo.

“Why don’t you buy that?”

Jungkook credited Jimin for at least trying to wait a bit before asking. This whole disinterested attitude was soon going to be flushed down the drain; Jungkook was sure of that. He went outside to put up the closed sign, waiting until he was back in the room with Jimin to reply.

Jimin was no longer texting. He was sorting the inkbottles colour-wise, attempting at ‘casual’.

“If I told you then where would the fun be in that?”

“Must everything be fun for you?” Jimin’s question was rhetoric.

“Well you know,” Jungkook lingered a bit by the door. “I'm pretty much a hedonist, always looking for fun with no other care in the world.”

When Jimin just shook his head, as if disapproving of Jungkook's words, Jungkook had to add,

“I’ll answer your two questions but you owe me an answer too,”

Jimin looked skeptic. “Is it personal?”

Jungkook wanted to laugh. He shook his head, walked to the counter and set down the new pile of tissue paper.

“I don’t think you're the guy who doesn’t have an outlet—all this calm, you know,”

Jimin's smile was lopsided. Jungkook was surprised to see he had earned a reaction.

“By ‘outlet’ you mean as in the sublimation mechanism,” Jimin was smirking.

“Pretty and smart.” Jungkook whistled, fully giving Jimin his attention now. “Have we met before?”

The smile Jimin gave him now was one full of secrets—or maybe it just knew all of Jungkook's all too well.

“No,”

“Then it’s only a shame,” Jungkook said, not entirely flirtatiously.

Jimin was on the verge of biting his lower lip when he decided to turn away—back to his inkbottles.

“Which reminds me,” Jungkook sat down on one of the chair; they were almost done anyway. “How do you know Yoongi-hyung?”

Had it been his impression, or Jimin's face darkened.

“Through a mutual friend,” Even his pitch seemed to have dropped. He stepped forward, checking one of the needle-sets, clearly avoiding Jungkook's eyes. It was a feat not to narrow his eyes, nonetheless, he kept steadily eyeing Jimin. Park Jimin’s body might truly be wonderland, but the body language was even more interesting, and the landscape of his mind was proving to be equally so.

“So what’s your question?”

Jungkook paused before the door; he didn’t want to guess how much he had fucked up if Jimin was that eager to steer the conversation to a potential ‘personal’ question.

“Nah,” his pitch was almost comic. “I'm saving it for later. Just remember that free pass.”

“Okay,” Jimin shrugged. He checked the time. “Shouldn’t we be leaving?”

The question jarred Jungkook, as though he had forgot they had to leave—to part—at some point.

When he nodded, Jimin grabbed his bag and jacket, heading towards Jungkook—towards the door. Time seemed incredibly slow now, Jimin's sway seemed more graceful, Jungkook's mind seemed too preoccupied.

Had he hoped for more?

It was as if Jimin could read his mind.

“You know,” Jimin had a hand to Jungkook's chest, lips to his ear, “if you'd asked me, I'd have loved to make Yoongi-hyung another mess.”

Jungkook found a smile spreading across his lips. One hand slipped behind his back, slowly locking the door without breaking their too-close pose; his other hand grabbed Jimin's waist closer to him. Jimin let out a small laugh as their bodies collided.

“Park Jimin,” Jungkook’s whisper into Jimin's ears—into his neck—was laced with dark promises. “Would you love to have a tour with me in Sinners Land?”

Jimin didn’t answer; instead he took Jungkook's lips into his and it all escalated from here—up, up, up to the clouds with a small explosion. And the rest? It was lust and deep thrust.