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May, 2028

A flimsy lid fits over bent sides of an old box, securing it in place before the box is pushed aside. Where it sat now rests an old photo album. Jimin sighs as he flips it open, eyes drifting over pictures of himself and his friends, smiling when he sees one of Hoseok sloppily clinking his bottle of booze against Jimin’s.

They all look so young here, full of youthful energy. Jimin almost laughs at himself for the thought. He’s not that much older now. He’s only 32. Not exactly an old man, so he doesn’t know why he keeps thinking of himself that way.

He flips to the next page. He and Hoseok hugging, both in their best suits. Taehyung standing on his toes, hands on Jimin’s shoulders as he shoves him down to press a kiss to the top of his head.

It brings on a cascade of memories, tugging tears to Jimin’s eyes. He can remember all of this as if it happened yesterday, still able to recall the feeling of Seokjin pressing a drunken kiss to his cheek.

But what burns the brightest in Jimin’s memory is the man behind the camera, the one capturing each moment with steady hands and an eye for detail.

Jimin always remembers him in perfect, vivid quality; every mole, every little speckle in those dark brown eyes, the waves in his hair. That little scar on his cheek…

 

 

 

 

May, 2018

“I’m almost there, don’t worry about it. I’ll meet up with the planner and just go over the basic plans you and I already discussed. It’s just an initial meeting, nothing big. I won’t make any drastic decisions without you there. Relax, love, we’ve got this.”

There’s a deep sigh on the other end of the phone. “Okay. Okay, you’re right. I’m totally freaking out for nothing. I’m sorry. I trust you.”

Jimin smiles, slowing down to steer his car into a wide open parking lot. He narrows his eyes at the signs above each building until he spots the one he wants. “Okay, I’m here. I’m gonna go. Don’t worry about missing this appointment. There will be plenty more. Just… take care of that mess at the office, okay?”

“Okay.” Minhee takes several deep breaths. He can picture her standing in the bathroom of her father’s office building, fanning herself as she panics. “Okay. I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Jimin says. “Good luck.” He drops his phone into his lap with a sigh, head falling back against the seat.

He loves Minhee, he really does, but this wedding has turned an already anxiety-ridden mess into a complete disaster. She sleeps three hours a night, survives on coffee, and cries at the drop of a hat. It’s not her fault. Her parents expect everything to meet their impossible standards but do nothing to help her.

Jimin has his theory that they secretly want this wedding to fall through. They have never approved of him, even as her best friend as they grew up alongside each other in private school. They’ve never stopped waiting for him to make a mistake and they seem to think that this wedding will finally be what breaks him.

With that positive and encouraging thought, Jimin heads for the building with the swirly white and baby blue sign above the door. Bells jingle over his head as he steps inside, glancing around.

One half of the wide open room seems to be a waiting area, a cushy lounge with tan couches and a wide screen TV, kids toys strewn across the floor. The rest of the place holds fake cakes on display, lining one wall, scraps of fabric from wedding dresses just to add a nice touch of detail. Photographs hang on the walls of smiling couples—former clients, he guesses.

Not a soul in sight, though, as he walks through the office. He recalls the planner telling him that if there was no one up front to just head straight to the back, so that’s what he does, passing through an open archway past a set of gigantic shelves.

Jimin ducks beneath a haphazardly hung banner of white, his shoulder bumping a shelf lined with mock wedding invitations. This place is a mess compared to the front. He wonders how anyone can operate in a workspace like this.

He peeks around a corner, his eyes landing on a bulletin board filled with pictures of what looks like hundreds of different weddings, some of them in traditional white, others in wild arrays colors, standing barefoot on beaches. He smiles at that. The idea of an unorthodox wedding kind of appeals to him, especially with the extra expectations placed on him by Minhee’s family. He wouldn’t mind just running away and eloping at this point.

His heart skips, startled when he notices a man standing beside the board, camera lifted to his face as he fidgets with it, seeming frustrated with the clunky device. A few quiet curse words spill from the photographer’s lips before Jimin clears his throat.

“Hi, um, I’m supposed to be meeting Jeon Junghwa,” he starts as the stranger spins around to face him, doe eyes round with surprise, thick-rimmed glasses encircling them. “Is she out right now?”

The man before him chuckles, seeming almost embarrassed at being caught cursing at his camera. “I’m Jungkook, her brother,” he says, setting the device aside and holding his hand out to Jimin. He’s tall, handsome, chiseled and soft at the same time with wavy brown hair and a smile that could stop a person’s heart. “And her photographer. She had an emergency and won’t be back for the next few days. But I usually run everything when she’s away.”

“Oh. Oh, so she’s not gonna be here…” Jimin slips his hand into Jungkook’s, his grip pathetically weak as he stares at what he thinks could be an actual angel descended from Heaven.

“Just for a bit.”

“My… fiancée is gonna freak,” Jimin says with a laugh. “I mean, she was adamant about hiring your sister.”

The photographer glances around, then gestures at the room, empty aside from the two of them. “Well, I don’t see your fiancée here so…” His lips tip into a crooked smile. “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. My sister will be back in no time. Don’t even worry about it. This is for Park Jimin and Kwon Minhee, right? I was expecting you.” he asks, spinning around to grab what looks like an appointment log.

“Yes.”

Jungkook smiles at him over the book. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Jimin.” He pops the cap off a pen with his teeth and scribbles something down. “And congratulations.”

Jimin stares back at him blankly. “For what?”

The look on Jungkook’s face makes Jimin want to sink into the floor before he even realizes what he’s done wrong. The photographer clears his throat, holding back a smile and clearly struggling with his attempt to remain professional and not laugh in Jimin’s face. “For… your engagement. ‘Cause you’re, you know, getting married.”

“Oh.” Jimin blinks. “Oh. Yeah, of course. Right. Yes, uh, thank you.” His face burns and he can only imagine how red it must be. Thankfully, Jungkook seems too distracted with a binder on the table to notice him, the appointment log tossed aside now.

Jimin waits in silence, bouncing on his toes as he waits, watching Jungkook scan over what looks like a set of notes. His eyes drift back to the images on the board, searching for something to talk about. This silence is killing him.

“I didn’t realize hiring your sister meant we got a photographer, too.”

Jungkook glances up at him, then to his pictures. “Oh, uh, you actually don’t have to hire me as your photographer if you have someone else in mind,” he says, bowing over the binder again before lifting it up, propping it in the bend of his arm. “But my sister always recommends me to her clients.”

“Well,” Jimin gestures at the pictures, “if these are yours, I’d have to say you’re a good choice. These are amazing.”

“Thanks.”

“You really know how to capture a person’s happiness on their big day.”

Jungkook smiles as he sorts through a stack of papers. “Yeah, or I capture someone being not so happy.”

Something about that strikes Jimin in the heart, making it sink. “You’ve gotten pictures of people looking upset at their wedding?”

“Yeah, occasionally, but usually it’s a guest or the best man or something,” Jungkook mumbles, chewing on his pen as he reads. “I snapped a picture of a maid of honor on the verge of tears one time. Kind of sad, actually. I think she was in love with the bride.”

Jimin stares at the man with his mouth hanging open. “Um… wow.”

Jungkook looks up at him from the binder now and blinks those big eyes behind his glasses. “Sorry,” he says, looking almost disturbed, for lack of a better term, by his own words. “I’m sorry. That’s a terrible topic to bring up with a client.” He laughs at himself, suddenly too awkward to meet Jimin’s eyes. “Sorry, um, let’s just start over.”

He holds his hand out again, which Jimin shakes. Again.

“I’m Jeon Jungkook, I’m here in place of my sister for the next few days so I’ll be helping you get the basic foundation of your wedding all planned out so that you and your bride can have a stress free day.” He smiles, and Jimin feels himself grinning along. “Or as stress free as a wedding can possibly be.”

Jimin’s smile grows as his hand slips away from Jungkook’s. “I wouldn’t mind as little stress as possible.”

“Well, you’re lucky you have me, then.” Jungkook sits on the table, one leg hanging over the corner with the binder propped open on it. “So, it looks like you two already set a budget and a date over the phone with my sister. Six months away?” He peers up at Jimin, brows disappearing behind his hair. “That’s kind of a short amount of time to plan a wedding.”

“Oh, I know,” Jimin says. “Her parents insist on this date and they don’t want to wait until next year. They don’t expect her grandmother to make it to next year and they want her to see the wedding.”

Jungkook lets out a low whistle. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, then. So… you’re currently looking for a location, entertainment…” He mutters through a long list, more to himself than to Jimin, then he looks up at the groom. “Any word on the guest list? It says here she’s waiting to hear about that.”

“Uh,” Jimin chuckles, “that’s… kind of gotten out of our control. Minhee’s parents keep inviting more people. At this point, I think we can safely expect the entire population of Korea, North and South combined.”

Jungkook laughs, flipping to the next page of his binder. “Yeah, I get that. I’ve been there before.”

“Oh, you’re…?” Jimin glances at Jungkook’s hand, searching for a ring.

“No,” Jungkook says. “No, no, definitely not. Not yet. But my sister’s wedding was insane. Our parents just sort of took over and steamrolled everything.” He sighs, then hops off the table again, walking backward as he talks. “Come with me, I’ll get you a list of locations. My sister can get you a discount on some good ones. She has amazing connections. Just wait until you see the resources we have. You’re gonna have a heart attack—”

Jungkook stops talking suddenly, snapping his fingers and then pointing at Jimin, a slightly mortified smile on his face. “Sorry. I’m probably overwhelming you right now. I…” He chuckles at himself as he comes to a stop beside an open laptop. “I get a little too enthusiastic sometimes. I guess it’s the hopeless romantic in me.”

Jimin just smiles at the other man, a sudden fondness for him welling up inside. He likes this guy. There’s something calming about him, despite that crazed, overenthusiasm.

“You’re good,” Jimin assures. “I mean, I’m definitely overwhelmed but not because of you.”

“Yeah, I get it. It’s just… a lot,” Jungkook says. He turns to the laptop, then stops and gives Jimin a hesitant smile. “This is gonna sound crazy but you’re my last client of the day so… would it help if we did all of this over a drink or something? Just to ease the nerves.”

Jimin huffs out an astonished laugh and Jungkook’s smile starts to fade into a worried frown. “Yes,” Jimin says, wishing he could get down on his knees and praise this man like the savior he is. The universe seems to be spending all the luck it’ll allow Jimin to have on their meeting today. It’s all downhill from here, but at least he’ll be spared from losing his mind in the moment. “That would be amazing. Thank you. I feel like I could drink an entire keg right now.”

Jungkook breathes out a single laugh, eyes widening slightly. “Uh, wouldn’t recommend that, but a glass or two would probably be fine.”

“You’re right,” Jimin says, “I should save the keg for when I’m stuck in a room with my in-laws for an entire wedding ceremony.”

Jungkook’s smile widens and he looks away, like meeting Jimin’s eyes suddenly becomes too much for him. He purses his lip, biting back his grin, though it still lingers when they look at each other again. “I like you, Park Jimin. You’re a funny guy,” he says, then tosses the binder onto his desk. “I’m gonna grab a couple pamphlets and things for us to go over and then we can take off. There’s a cool bar right down the street. We can walk. Meet me out front?”

Jimin nods, backing out of the office as Jungkook turns to start gathering papers. He slips back out to the front, hands wringing together in front of him and a smile on his face.

He tells himself it’s nerves about the wedding that has his heart banging against his ribs.

Another side of him knows better.

 

 

Jimin tackles wedding tasks with a renewed vigor after his meeting with Jungkook. They had spent significantly more time than was originally allotted for the appointment, the wedding mostly forgotten once they started talking over a few drinks.

They talked about themselves, about where they went to school and shitty jobs they’ve had in the past, Jimin’s current job at Minhee’s father’s company. And sports, only because of the TV blasting scores for something Jimin hadn’t even noticed until Jungkook pointed it out. Jimin had been forced to admit that he’s not a fan of most sports.

“I played basketball in high school for one year,” he had told Jungkook around the rim of his glass. “The coach was a nightmare so I quit. Never looked back. What about you? What did you play?”

Jimin lost track of the list about halfway through. Jungkook has a competitive side, that much is obvious. He seems to have participated in every sport known to man, but wrestling was his favorite.

The rest of the evening was spent exchanging bad jokes and worse puns. Jimin almost forgot he needed to get home until he heard an announcer on the TV state the time and he panicked, rushing out of the bar with a thousand thank yous hurled at Jungkook as he went. He’s just glad he got his number earlier in the evening so he could text later to apologize for rushing out.

Jimin had been fifteen minutes late to dinner with Minhee, which resulted in her refusing to talk to him for the first half of date night. She came around eventually, which he’s grateful for because he’s not sure he would be able to handle today’s appointment with Jungkook if she were to be in a sour mood.

Minhee is sweet, a genuinely kind person, beautiful inside and out. But she’s terrifying when she gets upset and he doesn’t want to subject Jungkook to that.

“This place is adorable,” she says as they step inside the Jeon siblings’ office. She’s in awe of the pastel decorations and the extravagant wedding dress on display in the window, but Jimin’s seen all of it before.

His eyes search for Jungkook, crinkling into crescents as he smiles. Jungkook waves, setting aside a tablet before walking over to the couple. “Hey, again,” he says, and Minhee spins to face him, surprised. “You must be the bride.”

“That’s me,” Minhee says, reaching out to shake his hand as he introduces himself. Jimin finds himself distracted by the sudden appearance of a woman from the back of the office, talking rapidly into her phone.

She looks just like Jungkook, but with long, black hair and lips slightly more plump than Jungkook’s small, pink ones. That must be Jeon Junghwa, bursting with energy as she ends her call with a smile. She flicks his hair behind her shoulder before striding over to them, heels clicking against the tile floor, skin tight blue dress hugging her curves.

Junghwa certainly demands attention, yet all Jimin can notice is Jungkook when he moves to stand beside Jimin, smiling over at his sister.

“Hi!” she cheers excitedly, shaking Jimin’s hand, then Minhee’s, eyes wide with excitement. “I’m so happy to finally meet you two in person instead of just on the phone. I hope my brother took good care of you while I was away.”

“Yeah, absolutely. He was really helpful,” Jimin says, then looks over at his fiancée. He chokes when he finds Minhee staring at him, bemused. He sort of forgot to tell her he met with Jungkook and not Junghwa that first appointment.

“So you chose my brother as your photographer,” Junghwa says, that bubbly smile never seeming to disappear as she scans over that same binder Jungkook had clung to the first day. “Good choice. He’s so talented—”

“What?” Jimin hears Minhee peep beside him. He looks over at her, an apology already on his tongue, but she speaks first, tugging him away from the siblings. “You chose a photographer without me?” she asks, betrayal in her eyes. You would think he killed her puppy or something, the way she stares at him in absolute horrified disbelief.

That apology he had prepared vanishes when he glances over and meets Jungkook’s eyes, his heart doing this weird tumbly, spirally, flip-floppy thing he can’t quite explain. “He’s great, babe. He’s amazing. Trust me, you’re gonna love his work. I promise.”

She sighs, scrunching her face slightly as she thinks. “Fine,” she says. “But from now on, we make decisions together. All decisions.”

“I promise,” Jimin repeats, then he holds one pinky finger up. “I promise.”

Minhee hesitates at first, glancing at the siblings, then she sighs again. But she smiles when she hooks her pinky over his.

Relief spreads through Jimin as they turn, hand in hand, back to the siblings, Junghwa still beaming and Jungkook looking at Jimin with something akin to amused pity in his eyes.

Jimin just smiles through it, even if he would rather jump in front of a bus right now.

It’s going to be a long day.

 

“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Minhee says, both her hands in Jimin’s as she pushes onto her tiptoes to peck him on the lips. “I gotta hurry. Dad’s waiting for me.”

Jimin just smiles, giving her hands a squeeze. “Okay, love, don’t let him overwork you at that office, though.”

Minhee lets out a tired chuckle. “Please, of course he’s going to overwork me. Overworking is the only way I can prove a girl is capable of taking over the family business that’s only ever been passed down to sons so far. Of course I’ll overwork.” She sighs, staring up at Jimin with starry eyes, fondness overflowing from her as she kisses him again. “Drive safe.”

“You too.” Jimin watches her go, smiling at the bounce in her step as she rushes to her car. She waves to him before backing out a little recklessly, nearly crashing into another parked car. He grimaces, fist pressed against his mouth to keep from groaning.

“Yikes. Not the most graceful driver ever.”

Jimin turns to find Jungkook wandering over to him, hands in his pockets as he watches Minhee drive by. He waves at her as she goes, then smiles at Jimin.

“Yeah, she’s always been a bit clumsy, on her feet, in the a car, everywhere she goes,” Jimin says, taking a deep breath of cool evening air. He stares out at the road, then glances over at Jungkook, lips pursed to keep from grinning. “Drink?”

Jungkook lifts one finger, mouth opening as if about to protest, then he points at Jimin with a single nod. “Hell yes.”

They head for the same bar as before, find the same stools as last time, order the same drinks. Jimin doesn’t waste time in chugging half of his down as soon as it arrives, Jungkook watching him with raised eyebrows.

“Wow, wedding planning really get to you, doesn’t it?” Jungkook asks with a chuckle, before taking a sip. He turns his eyes on the TV and points. “Your sport is on.”

Jimin looks up to see a basketball game playing. He snorts. “Hardly,” he says, then sighs. “Man, if you ever saw me play basketball, you’d cry. It’s that bad.”

Jungkook snorts, head bowing over his drink as he laughs.

“Seriously, it was kind of sad. I never scored a single point and there was this really mean rival team. They would always gang up on me on the court.”

“Well, it’s because you’re sort of small—”

“Hey!” Jimin barks, shoving Jungkook’s shoulder, laughing when the other man nearly tips over. “I’m not that small. You’ve got, like, one inch on me, shut up.”

Giggling to himself, Jungkook readjusts on the stool and grins over at Jimin, his lip between his teeth. Jimin’s eyes linger on that a little too long before he manages to direct his attention back to the TV.

Jungkook clears his throat, finger drawing circles around the rim of his glass. “Seriously, though,” he says, “you okay with all this? I see a lot of people get freaked out by the planning and dip right before the wedding.”

“I won’t do that,” Jimin says without looking over at the photographer. He stares at the screen, suddenly very interested in the score. He doesn’t even know which two teams are playing, he just knows he can’t look at Jungkook right now. “I’m fine. Really. It’s just tiring, you know? And Minhee is just… different right now. She’s stressed with the family business and the wedding. You know, just… It’s just frustrating.”

“She did seem a little high strung today, but she doesn’t strike me as your typical, uh…” Jungkook hesitates, and now Jimin looks over at him. “…bridezilla type. She seems nice.”

Jimin nods, takes a drink. “She is. Things have been a little rocky lately but we always come out for the better after hard time,” he says. He pushes his empty glass away, asking the bartender for a refill. Jungkook chugs and then does the same.

“There will always be times where there’s friction,” Jungkook says, raising his newly filled glass and clinking it to Jimin’s. “The more shit you go through together, the stronger the bond, though.”

“Yeah, I’ll drink to that,” says Jimin.

“I mean, the sex is good at least, right?”  Jungkook jokes, laughing at himself.

Jimin chokes and sputters, his mug hitting the counter and drink sloshing everywhere. A wide-eyed Jungkook smacks him on the back a few times until he regains his breath.

“Party foul,” Jungkook says as the bartender comes over with a towel. He reaches out for it. “I got this, man, no worries. Thanks.”

Jimin’s face fades from red to pink and slowly back to his normal light tan. He still doesn’t meet Jungkook’s gaze as the other man wipes up the spill, then sets the towel aside.

“Um, that… was really brazen and inappropriate,” Jungkook says, both hands clutching his own drink now. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’ve known you a week and I should be professional. Even when we’re here.”

“It’s fine,” Jimin says, then takes a drink of what’s left in his mug. “Just caught me off guard because… Well, Minhee— She and her family are very old-fashioned so…” He hides his face in his mug as he mumbles the next few words. “So we haven’t actually, you know.”

“Oh. Oh!” Jungkook covers his mouth to silence himself, then glances around to make sure he hasn’t caught anyone’s attention. “God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel— I shouldn’t have put you in the position of telling me that— Fuck, I should just shut my mouth more often, honestly.”

“No, it’s fine,” Jimin says, and he means it. “Seriously, it’s kind of nice to talk to someone about it. I haven’t said anything to my friends because my friends are also her friends. It’s all… really intertwined and tangled up.”

He takes a deep breath, keenly aware of Jungkook’s eyes on him. Sparkly, deep brown eyes. The dam breaks and Jimin can’t shut himself up anymore.

“I’ve kind of been feeling a little suffocated. Not because of her, but because our lives have always been so involved. I mean, we’ve been best friends since middle school, we did everything together, started dating in college. I don’t really have friends that aren’t hers too. So, you know, I don’t really have anyone I can open up to about problems or worries or doubts without putting them in an awkward position. And she can be really shy so I don’t want her to get embarrassed if she finds out I told our friends we’ve never slept together. Holy shit, I’m so sorry. I’m gonna shut up.”

He knocks back the rest of his drink and calls for another.

Jungkook opens his mouth, but then gives up on saying anything and shrugs. “By all means, keep going if it makes you feel better.”

Jimin glances over at the other man. He’s going to wish he never offered.

“We don’t even live together and we’re getting married in, like, six months or something. Right? Six months? I don’t even know. I’ve lost track of time since it all started. It’s insane. Like, I know her so well—I know everything about her, down to the fact that she has no feeling in her left pinky toe and that she’s terrified of Teletubbies—but I’ve barely done anything more than kiss her. And part of me feels like we just skipped the dating phase.”

He takes a swig of his drink when the bartender delivers it.

“We went from best friends to engaged at the snap of our fingers. I seriously can’t even tell you how long we dated before I proposed because it went by that fast. Is that bad? That’s completely insane, right? Jungkook? What do you think?”

Jungkook stares at him, mouth hanging open. He looks terrified, possibly, or maybe just disturbed by Jimin’s sudden meltdown. Jimin can’t tell. “I think…” He glances at the bartender, then back to Jimin. “I think we need shots.”

He reaches over and pats Jimin’s shoulder before signaling the bartender. Jimin just leans on the counter, staring down at his unfinished drink. He can feel the alcohol swimming around inside him, easing his nerves, especially once that shot hits the back of his throat and settles in.

He just needs to relax. Stop thinking so much. He loves Minhee, he does. He has nothing to worry about.

Nothing to worry about.

 

Jimin swears they didn’t drink that much, so he has no idea how they end up cut off by the bartender and stumbling back to Jimin’s car. He fumbles with his keys as Jungkook leans up against the vehicle. A hand grabs his, stopping him before he can unlock his car.

“Shouldn’t drive,” Jungkook grumbles through his drunken haze.

“Fuck.” Jimin sighs, grabbing the top of his car and leaning on it, pressing his head against the cold metal. “Hafta call a fuckin’ cab.”

Jungkook hums. “No. I live,” he points across the street, one eye closed as he tries to pinpoint the correct building, “right there.” Then he waves his hand at at least three different apartment complexes. “Generally.”

Jimin stares at him, blank-faced until Jungkook’s head lolls around for their eyes to meet. He laughs. “Okay. You got a couch?”

With a grin, Jungkook points at Jimin, then pokes his shoulder. “It’s a foldout.”

“Perfect,” Jimin sighs, slipping his keys back into his pocket and his arms around Jungkook’s waist. The taller man envelopes his shoulders as they walk, haphazardly crossing a rather busy street on their way to Jungkook’s building.

The trip takes longer than it should, considering they can barely walk, and they giggle like a couple of teens causing trouble as they try to sneak through the hallways. Jimin stumbles inside the apartment first as Jungkook locks behind them.

“I haven’t… been this drunk since my first year of college,” Jimin slurs, walking backward, a clumsy grin aimed at Jungkook. He backs farther into the apartment, his heel hitting something, and he trips. His hand catches the front of Jungkook shirt to keep from falling, but it just causes Jungkook to fly forward as Jimin crashes against a wall.

Jimin’s head snaps back against the wall and he groans, but the pain seems to vanish when he realizes he can feel a warm, solid body pressed up against his.

Jungkook’s hands brace against the wall on either side of Jimin and hooded eyes stare down at him where he slouches. All that talk about sex earlier has Jimin’s head in a weird place, has him realizing how long it’s been since he’s been with someone. Just this closeness with Jungkook is more than what he gets with Minhee.

He feels both validated and frightened when he realizes Jungkook must be feeling somewhat the same, his hand moving to brush along Jimin’s cheek. His brain, no matter how drunk it may be, tells him that even this slight touch is wrong, that he should push Jungkook away. But his body wants more. His body wants so much more and he’s not so sure he wants to deny it.

“God, you’re fucking beautiful,” Jungkook breathes out, booze on his breath, his skin like fire against Jimin’s cheek. He presses a little closer, gripping Jimin’s hip with his other hand. He leans in, their noses bumping together, but his lips don’t quite meet Jimin’s, just hovering. Then he yanks his hands away and steps back. “Sorry. Fuck. I’m so sorry, Jimin.”

“‘S okay.” Jimin’s hands hover awkwardly. He had been seconds away from grabbing Jungkook and kissing him. He still might, so he’s grateful when Jungkook has the self control to stumble away from him, mumbling something about the couch.

Jimin doesn’t move from his spot on the wall, staring at the shoes he had tripped over.

He almost kissed Jungkook.

Engaged, set to be married, dedicated to someone else, and he almost kissed a man he’s known for a week.

With guilt eating away at his insides, Jimin finds his way to the couch, where Jungkook has set out pillows and blankets for him before rushing off to hide in his room.

Jimin collapses onto the bed without bothering to unfold any of the blankets or pull them up over himself. He just buries his face into his pillow and replays that moment in his head over and over again until he feels like he might be sick.

He falls asleep wondering if Minhee will know he almost betrayed her.

He wakes up with all the blankets tucked up around his chin and his shoes sitting beside the bed. He doesn’t remember ever doing any of that.

 

 

June, 2018

Jimin can’t seem to stop staring at the bespectacled photographer across the room, watching as he hands an envelope full of photos to a tall, wiry woman. He bows his head to her as she says goodbye, swishing past Jimin on her way out. Jungkook’s gaze follows her, then drifts to Jimin.

Both men look away as if they just stared directly into the sun, spinning away to turn their backs to each other. Jimin can hear the blood pounding in his ears, his eyes going wide. He swears he can still feel Jungkook looking at him, but he tells himself it’s just his imagination. Jungkook is just as mortified by what happened in his apartment as Jimin is.

“Jimin,” Minhee coos, sliding her hand along his arm. She smiles up at him when he looks at her, still feeling a little lightheaded and panicky. He hopes she doesn’t notice. “Look at the flower arrangements Junghwa brought us. Which one do you like the best?” She nods at the neatly decorated vases, bursting with flowers of every color. “They’re all so gorgeous, I can’t choose.”

“Uh…” Jimin glances back toward Jungkook when he hears him laugh. He likes the sound of his laugh and that kind of freaks him out.

It’s not like Jimin’s never been attracted to another man before—of course he has, perks of being bisexual—but he’s never felt this tempted when already dedicated to someone else. Jimin is not an unfaithful person. As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing he would never do, it’s cheat on someone. He could never do something so terrible, so hurtful to another person.

That’s why it bothers him so damn much that he can’t stop thinking of Jungkook’s breath ghosting across his lips, that hand on his hip, how close they were to kissing and how bad he wishes they had.

“Jimin?”

His attention snaps back to his fiancée, where it should be. “What?” he asks, realizing he has no idea what she had asked him.

“The flower arrangements,” she says, and he suddenly remembers, “which is your favorite?”

He stares down at the flowers, all the colors seeming to blend together and then fade out to a dull nothingness. Jungkook’s voice in the background distracts him. He can’t focus.

“Um.” He closes his eyes for a second, calming his turbulent mind, promising himself that Minhee doesn’t know, he’s just being paranoid. She has no way of knowing. She knows he got drunk hanging out with a new guy friend and passed out at his place but she has no reason to suspect that anything more happened. Poor thing doesn’t even know he has any interest in other men.

“You know what, um,” Minhee pats him on the arm, “why don’t I just choose the arrangements? I know flowers aren’t your thing.” Jimin breathes a sigh of relief as she smiles up at him. “You can go discuss our photo shoot plans with Jungkook.”

“What— No— I love flowers—”

Minhee giggles, pushing him toward the photographer before he can protest further. “C’mon, you were the one that was hyping up his work before. Go gush over his photos while I do all the real work.” She sends him off with one final shove and a wink.

He tries his best to smile and make it believable, but he feels like it probably comes across as more of a grimace as he turns to Jungkook. Their eyes lock and Jungkook heaves a long sigh; not one of annoyance, just worry.

“So,” they both start, then look away from each other.

Jungkook puffs his cheeks up, staring at a doily like it’s the most interesting piece of fabric he’s ever seen before. He hitches his glasses up his nose and glances at Jimin. “We’re really gonna do this? You and Minhee have been here three times since that night—”

“Sshhh,” Jimin hisses, covering Jungkook’s mouth. He glances over at where Minhee and Junghwa have an animated chat over the flowers. He grabs Jungkook and drags him into the back section of the office, casting paranoid looks over his shoulder as they go.

Jungkook stumbles as Jimin practically throws him out of sight of the two women.

“Keep your voice down, I don’t want Minhee to know I was with you that night.”

“Why?” Jungkook shrugs. “Does she know you like guys?”

Jimin snaps his mouth shut, teeth clacking, and he frowns at the other man. “No. She doesn’t. But she’s smart. If she catches onto us acting weird and then finds out you’re the guy friend I stayed with, she’ll figure it out. It might take awhile but she’ll figure it out. So we—you and I, me and you—we need to calm the fuck down and act normal.”

“I am acting normal. You’re the one being a freak,” Jungkook says, earning a smack on the shoulder. “Jimin, seriously, there’s no reason to act like this. We didn’t do anything.”

“No, but we almost did,” Jimin snaps in a whisper, arms crossing protectively in front of himself. “And I would have. I would’ve done it if you hadn’t stopped it when you did.”

Jungkook stops dead, eyes widening behind his glasses. “You… would have?”

Jimin glances around, making sure Minhee and Junghwa are still distracted with whatever it is they’re fawning over now. He leans in and lowers his voice. “Yes, I would have. That’s why we just need to…” He waves his hands. “I don’t know. Not drink together anymore, I guess. I get stupid when I get drunk.”

“Is that why you almost did it? Because you get stupid?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin’s eyes narrow at him in confusion. “Or because there’s actually something here. Between us.”

“Don’t.” Jimin points a threatening finger at Jungkook, his pulse racing. He’s scared, more than he is angry. But being scared makes Jimin lash out and he needs to put an end to this before it can start. “Don’t do this when you know I’m already tempted, don’t try to make the choice easy for me when it isn’t.”

Jungkook raises his hands in surrender and nods. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have— Fuck, you’re engaged. What the hell am I thinking?” He steps back, pushing one hand through his hair. “Shit. I’m so sorry, Jimin.”

Jimin exhales, staring down at his feet as he nods. “It’s okay. Just… no more. We can’t do that ever again.” His eyes snap up to Jungkook’s. “Understood?”

“Absolutely.”

“You’re a good guy, Jungkook. Honestly, I could see us being friends someday but I… I need you to promise me that that’s all we’ll ever be.”

“I promise,” Jungkook says, earning a skeptical frown from Jimin. That was too easy, no hesitation. “I— I swear, Jimin. Totally professional from here on out.” He holds out a hand, a handsome smile on his lips that Jimin almost wants to slap off.

Jimin plants his hand against Jungkook’s in a solid shake. “Okay, good. Now back to work before my fiancée has an aneurysm over the menu or something.”

Jungkook laughs, his hand lingering in Jimin’s too long, stars dancing in his eyes as they stare at each other. His smile seems almost dazed, as if looking at Jimin puts him in some sort of trance. Jimin’s starting to think looking at Jungkook does the same to him. He can’t seem to look away or move his feet.

A call of his name finally yanks him from his stupor and he jerks his hand away from Jungkook like his touch burns.

He doesn’t leave right away, something compelling him to stay, telling him he’ll regret not staying right here and staring into those deep, dark, luminous eyes.

Then he reminds himself that Minhee is waiting for him. Minhee. His fiancée.

His fucking fiancée.

And he walks away, shoulder barely brushing against Jungkook’s as he passes him. The photographer doesn’t follow immediately, several minutes of Jimin and Minhee discussing the guest list passing before he does appear.

It starts all over, the glances, the stares, the inability to tear themselves away from each other.

This is wrong. It’s all wrong. Jimin knows that, and he just has to keep telling himself that until it passes. Whatever this is, it has to go away eventually. Right?

It will. Of course it will.

 

 

July, 2018

It doesn’t go away, but Jimin doesn’t let that stop him from being civil with Jungkook. As a matter of fact, they become something like friends throughout the month following their “talk”.

They go to the bar together after particularly tense appointments where Jimin and Minhee disagree with each other on everything, but they don’t drink. Most nights they just hustle each other at pool or laugh at the bad temperaments of whatever famous athletes they see on television.

It’s kind of nice, Jimin thinks. He likes having someone he can talk to without worrying about how it will affect their friendship with Minhee. This isn’t Taehyung or Hoseok, who both love and adore Minhee as much as they love and adore Jimin. No worries about who’s taking whose side. They can just talk.

“So, you two have really never…” Jungkook cocks his head at Jimin as he leans over the pool table. “You know?”

Around his glass (of water, not booze) Jimin hums. “Yeah,” he sighs, setting the cup down. He watches Jungkook make a damn near perfect shot, but it barely misses knocking a ball into the corner pocket. “Never. Almost. But never. I mean, it’s not like we’ve never done anything together before but, like, never actual... sex.”

Jungkook steps back as Jimin circles the table, looking for the best spot before taking his position. He pretends not to notice the way Jungkook’s eyes follow the curve of his back as he bends. Jimin’s not denying that that damn spark is still there between them, but he can ignore it for the sake of his engagement.

He shoots the ball, knocking one perfectly into a center pocket, then straightens up and gives Jungkook a cocky grin. “Step up your game, Jeon, or you’re gonna owe me your life by the end of the night.”

With a sigh and laugh, Jungkook takes his turn. “So what’s with that?” he asks as Jimin takes another drink. “Is it really such a big deal in her family?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says. “There are a lot of reasons. “Her dad’s super protective of her and is grooming her to take over the family business, which has always been her dream. Part of the deal of her getting the business—though it went unspoken, he didn’t have to say anything because she just knew—was that she didn’t fuck anyone before marriage.”

Jungkook straightens up, staring at him with his nose scrunched up, almost looking disgusted. “He’s dangling the business over her head as a way to keep his adult daughter a virgin? What the fuck?”

“Yeah,” Jimin says with a bitter laugh. 

He smiles at Jungkook as the other man lets out a low whistle. “You are marrying into some real crazy bullshit, you realize that, right?”

Jimin nods. “I sure do,” he says, eying the pool table for his next best shot. “Anyway, the other part of it is that her mom is extremely religious and seems to think the wrath of God will come crashing down upon Minhee if she sleeps with someone before marriage. So…”

There’s a moment of silence after Jimin takes his turn, Jungkook staring across the table at him. Neither of them speak as Jimin goes over and over every fight he and Minhee have had about her parents in the past. He grits his teeth, then starts spewing out words before he can stop himself.

“You know, it’s not even about the sex for me. I wouldn’t give a fuck about it if it weren’t for her parents,” he says, keenly aware of the way Jungkook’s eyes widen at the sudden venom in his voice. “If it were her choice entirely, it wouldn’t bother me one bit—and I’ll respect it either way—but the fact that she lets her parents control our relationship so much in so many other way, too, it drives me crazy. In a way, it feels like she’s choosing them over me.

“And maybe it’s selfish of me to want her to choose me for once but, goddammit, the number of times she’s let her dad come between us. We almost broke up three times because of him. And he’s constantly threatening to fire me from the company. He doesn’t say it outright, but the threat is still there every time we speak. Whenever Minhee and I have tried to go on vacation, he calls me in for some sort of “work emergency” and she always makes excuses for him even though she knows it’s a lie. It’s fucking infuriating.”

Silence surrounds the table again as Jimin leans against it, hanging his head. He feels lighter, getting that all off his chest. How many years have they been together and he doesn’t think he’s ever ranted about her like that.

Jungkook doesn’t speak at first, leaning on his pool cue and working his lip between his teeth. His eyes drift over the table and back up to Jimin before he says anything.

“You know, if you’re not… happy with her, Jimin… you should really take some time to think about that before she’s walking down that aisle.”

Jimin’s eyes snap up to him, brows furrowing. Is he really doing this? He wouldn’t really use this to heighten Jimin’s doubt of Minhee, would he? He’s not that selfish, is he? He promised Jimin they could be friends and nothing more.

“Jungkook—”

“I’m not saying this for my benefit, okay?” Jungkook says, holding a hand up to Jimin. “I’m saying it for yours. Can you just believe that for a second? You know, I do consider you to be a friend now, so…” He swallows, then shakes his head, staring down at the pool table. “I’m just saying, all you do is complain about her. I don’t know a single one of her good traits because you never talk about them.”

Jimin purses his lips together. Jungkook has a point. He does just complain, doesn’t he? Does he ever even think anything positive of her anymore? He must, he just doesn’t realize it because he’s so busy and distracted lately. There’s a lot he loves about Minhee.

He loves her, he knows that.

“Just… remember what I said about getting pictures of people who weren’t so happy at weddings?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin slowly forces himself to meet his eyes. “You know, I just don’t want… you to be one of those people. I’d like to be able to take your guys’ pictures and see a genuine smile on both your faces.”

Jimin swallows. God, he feels like an asshole. First he trashes Minhee and her family, then tries to accuse Jungkook of attempting to seduce him. Is he getting paranoid? Is this wedding really making him lose his mind for real?

“Sorry,” he says, looking down at the table again. He’s lost track of whose turn it is.

“It’s okay,” Jungkook says, only making Jimin feel even more guilty. He’s a good guy. A genuinely kind, caring guy, and Jimin’s just over here yanking him around and accusing him of being something he’s not.

Fuck, Jimin really is an asshole, isn’t he?

“So tell me what you love about her.”

Jimin snaps his gaze back to Jungkook, brow rising. “Jungkook, is that really a good idea—”

“C’mon, I’m a big boy, I can handle hearing it,” Jungkook says with a shrug. “Besides, it’s not like I’m in love with you, we just almost kissed one time, that’s it.”

Jimin watches Jungkook bend over the table once more. He doesn’t ignore the fact that Jungkook didn’t meet his eyes once as he said that last sentence, but he pretends like it doesn’t mean anything.

He sighs. “Fine. Fine, I’ll fucking tell you what I love about her,” Jimin says as he leans down next, lining up his cue. He peers up at Jungkook. “Stubborn son of a bitch.”

Jungkook smiles as Jimin takes his turn. But that’s the last smile Jimin sees from him for the rest of night. After that he’s all subtle glances and pursed lips, attempted smiles that come across as grimaces, a sadness in his eyes that haunts Jimin’s dreams later.

 

 

August, 2018

Chatter fills Minhee’s apartment, raucous laughter from their three closest friends, Taehyung, Hoseok, and Yeseul. Minhee had insisted on having them over for dinner to celebrate the clock ticking closer and closer to their wedding day.

Just a few months left to go now. Just a few more months until Jimin is free of the temptation named Jeon Jungkook.

Ever since their almost-kiss, Jimin has done a fine job at avoiding any alone time with the other man, both accidental and intentional. He’s flaked out on multiple coffee runs or “business lunches” with Jungkook, always finding some excuse not to go, and whenever he and Minhee spend their evening with the Jeon siblings, Jimin makes sure he’s never given even a second with Jungkook without supervision.

He wishes he could say he trusts himself, that his love for Minhee transcends everything and crushes out any spark of attraction toward Jungkook whenever he thinks of his tiny, beautiful, adorable, wonderful fiancée.

The harsh reality is that that isn’t true. As a matter of fact, he finds himself staring longingly across the room at Jungkook more often than he looks at his own fiancée these days. He tells himself it’s because of all their little fights lately, the stress of the oncoming wedding as well as work getting the best of him. It’s just makes Jungkook look all that much more appealing, but Jimin knows better. The grass is always greener, and all that.

To give up on Minhee over a few spats and run to Jungkook’s arms… How pathetic would he have to be to do that?

“You remember that, Jimin?”

A hand smacks his arm and he looks up to see everyone staring at him, Taehyung grinning.

“Uh, yeah,” he tells his friend, though he has not a single clue as to what they’re talking about. He puts on his best fake smile, hoping it’s enough to convince them that he had been listening.

Everyone seems to buy it except Minhee, who watches him from across the table with subdued concern, clearly not wanting to ruin the mood but desperate to know what’s wrong with him. He just gives her a half smile and lifts his glass to his lips as the others go back to chattering away.

Somewhere near the end of the evening, Jimin wanders off to the kitchen, his empty wine glass sitting on the counter while he washes dishes. No one even seems to have noticed his disappearance, which is fine. That’s exactly what he wanted.

His mind is far too full to relive college memories or swap work gossip right now. He’s worried. He’s worried about the wedding, about his and Minhee’s fights, about the fact that he’s about to marry a woman he’s never even lived with. How is he supposed to know if they’ll even get along once they’re stuck in the same house day in and day out?

What if they’re not compatible… sexually? What if she’s disappointed? What if he is? It’s crazy that they’re marrying without having any answers. It’s like they’re two friends who won’t be starting the actual romance of their relationship until they’re locked into it with signed papers. Isn’t the romance supposed to lead up to this moment? Aren’t they supposed to know each other backward and forward, inside and and out, every which way possible before swearing themselves to each other?

Jimin shakes it off, vigorously scrubbing dishes just to give himself something to do. This is just cold feet. Everyone goes through this before their wedding. It’s normal. These worries aren’t even realistic. He’s not being rational.

He repeats that in his head like a mantra until he starts to believe it.

“Jimin,” Minhee calls, a gentle hand on his back to pull him from his reverie. He turns halfway from the sink to see their friends all standing by the doorway, clearly waiting for him to say goodbye.

“Oh.” He smiles at them. “It was nice having you all over tonight. Uh, I’ll see you guys soon. Tae, I’ll see you at work.”

Taehyung gives him a nod, then looks at Minhee, a silent question in his eyes. They all exchange quick, awkward goodbyes, casting Jimin confused glances as they leave.

Minhee stares at him as he finishes cleaning, unmoving, unblinking. “What was that?” she asks, and he gives her a shrug.

“What? I’m just tired.”

“Bullshit,” she snaps. She almost never swears, so Jimin can’t help but be just a tad taken aback. “What’s gotten into you? You’ve been distant ever since we started planning the wedding.

“No, I haven’t—”

“Yes, you have. Literally, since the day you went to that first appointment without me, you’ve drifted. You never talk to me, you never care about anything to do with the wedding—”

“Minhee,” he sighs as he towels his hands dry. “This is the same damn fight we keep having. We’ve had it a hundred time this week. Can we just… stop?”

Minhee scoffs, trying to seem angry, but he can see the shine in her eyes. She cries all too easily. “No. We can’t just stop. We have to talk about this, about what’s wrong. How can we fix it if we don’t talk—”

Somewhere, buzzing cuts off her sentence, and Jimin spins to see his phone vibrating its way across the counter.

“Don’t answer that right now,” Minhee pleads. “It can wait until we’re done. Please, Jimin.”

“It’s my mom,” he says, already reaching for it.

“She can wait—”

Jimin doesn’t meet his fiancée’s eyes as he answers, leaning back against the counter as he presses the phone to his ear. “Hey, mom.”

There’s a sniffle. “Jimin, where are you right now?”

“Uh, just got done with dinner at Minhee’s. Are you okay?”

“Jimin,” she says again. She always repeats his name like this when she’s stalling, not wanting to tell him something, and it has him on edge. “Your father’s in the hospital.” He feels his heart clench. “He’s been suffering from recurring seizures and this time— He’s not waking up, Jimin, and they’re afraid it may take some time before he does.”

It takes a moment before it all settles in, Jimin’s mind trying to process a thousand different questions at once. They all seem to pour out in a second. “Recurring? How long has this been going on? How is he just not waking up, mom? What does that even mean? Is he in a coma? What do you mean “this time” he’s not waking up? How could you not tell me that this has happened before?”

In front of him Minhee stares at him with wide, confused eyes, looking frightened. Her hands wring together, waiting for answers just as much as he still is.

“Jimin, we can talk about that another time but you should come see him—”

“No, tell me how long this has been happening,” Jimin fires back, his hand clenched so tight around his phone he’s surprised it doesn’t break.

“Jimin, please, just come see you father—”

Jimin’s teeth grind together as he bites down a scream, his hand slamming his phone down on the counter. Minhee jumps away from him with a squeak, her hands covering her mouth.

He buries his hands in his hair, his head down and eyes shut tight to stop himself from crying. The universe has to be punishing him for something. Maybe it’s for almost cheating on Minhee, maybe it’s for even thinking of Jungkook that way. Whatever it is, he feels like he’s losing his grip on everything he’s ever loved.

“Jimin,” Minhee says softly, reaching out to him. He doesn’t want her to touch him. He doesn’t want anyone to touch him. He just wants to be left alone, completely, entirely alone.

“We have to delay the wedding.”

He doesn’t know why he says that. In the midst of everything swirling around his head right now, it seemed like the right thing. But is that really what he needs to be worried about right now?

“What?” Minhee asks, her voice rising in pitch. She looks and sounds shocked. How can she be surprised that he would say that after what she just heard over the phone?

“My dad’s in a coma, Minhee,” Jimin says, finally raising his head to look at her. “I can’t be thinking about the wedding right now. And I can’t have it without him, anyway.”

“Jimin, my parents already paid for so much,” she spouts suddenly, “we can’t just put it off a couple months away from the date. Your dad would want you to—”

“You don’t know that!” Jimin snaps, his hand hitting the counter. Minhee jumps away from him and, right now, he wishes he didn’t even have to see her face. He feels like he barely even recognizes her. “Jesus Christ, Minhee, this is my dad. In a fucking coma. That man practically raised you too when we were were kids and all you can think about is the money? What the fuck? That’s not the girl I asked to marry me.”

“Jimin—”

“No. No, if we can rush the wedding for your grandmother, we can delay it for my father,” Jimin growls, before brushing past her.

“Jimin… I’m sorry,” she sobs, following after him. “Jimin, wait, where are you going?”

“Out.”

Out?” Her voice is barely more than a squeak as she watches him pull on his shoes and jacket.

“Yeah. Out,” he huffs, keys in hand. “Just… think about what you just said to me about my dad. Think about it, Minhee, and then we can talk.”

He hears her calling his name as he leaves, the door slamming shut to muffle her voice. Jimin rushes down the stairs and out of the building, his eyes aching but the tears never falling. He wishes they would. He wishes he could just cry for once, instead of wanting to and never finding that relief.

It’s raining when he steps outside, so he stops, turning his face up to the sky, and he lets the droplets wash over his face. They cling to his lashes, then slip away, and he tells himself they’re tears.

 

If anyone were ever to ask Jimin why his body led him here, he wouldn’t answer. He knows that answer, but he’s not going to admit it. He promises himself that as he steps out of his car, still a bit damp from the rain, though it’s turned into nothing more than a light drizzle by now.

He hugs his jacket tight around himself, sidestepping a puddle as he approaches the figure locking the front doors of Junghwa’s office. “Good, you’re still here,” he calls out, making Jungkook spin around and clap a hand over his heart. “I thought you might’ve left already.”

Jungkook exhales in relief that Jimin didn’t turn out to be a murderer sneaking up on him in the near dark. “I stayed late to help a client. What’s going on? Something wrong with the seating arrangement?” he asks with a laugh. “Did your conservative aunt get placed next to your liberal cousin or something?”

Jimin wants to laugh, he really does, but his heart sits too heavy for that right now, the muscles in his face refusing to work. Jungkook catches on quickly, stopping with his hands in the pockets of his peacoat, the collar tucked high around his neck.

“Jimin… Is everything okay?”

“Do you wanna get a drink?”

Jungkook licks his lips, looking up at the sky, then in the direction of their bar. “I thought we agreed not to do that anymore—”

“My dad’s in the hospital and I fought with Minhee about delaying the wedding because I want him to be there. He won’t wake up and I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I’m afraid to see him like that.” Jimin swallows, choking on his words. “He’s the strongest man I know, how am I supposed to— I can’t— I didn’t know where else to go.”

“Well…” Jungkook hugs his coat a little tighter around himself, bouncing on his toes. “I don’t think you should drink right now.” He nods toward the office. “Let’s go inside, out of the cold. We have tea and stuff in there. Trust me, that’s better than alcohol right now. ‘Kay?”

Jimin nods, letting himself fit into Jungkook’s outstretched arm as the photographer guides him into the office. He shivers, the warmth of the building casting off the chill from outside.

He hears the door close, feels hands slipping his jacket off over his shoulders. Jimin glances back as Jungkook takes his jacket, hanging it up for him, then discards his own.

“What do you want?” Jungkook asks as they head for the back, and Jimin slows to a stop, at first thinking Jungkook is asking what he wants from him. The photographer smiles, eyes crinkling behind his glasses. “To drink. Coffee? Tea?”

“Oh. Do you have hot chocolate?” Jimin asks, following Jungkook to the back, all the way to a little kitchenette he’s never noticed before.

“I sure do,” Jungkook says, grabbing two mugs out of the cupboard. “We’re in luck. Water’s still hot since I stayed so late.”

Jimin forces a smile as he wanders around the room, fidgeting with a doily here, adjusting a binder there. He watches Jungkook, not so subtly, as he mixes their drinks. Something about just being around him brings a sense of peace to Jimin, eases that urge to scream and sob and throw everything in sight.

He sits atop a table, hands gripping the edge as Jungkook walks over to him. “For you, monsieur,” he says, setting the mug down beside Jimin before taking a sip of his own. Jungkook leans back against another table, facing Jimin, and reaches up to slip his glasses off.

Jimin lifts a brow. “What, you just wear those for fashion?” he asks as he wraps his fingers around his mug.

“No. I need them. Just, mostly when I’m working. You know, reading and stuff. I forget to take them off a lot.” He goes silent, ducking his head over his cup and sipping at it again.

Jimin tries to drink his, but the idea of consuming anything right now make him sick. Here he is, drinking hot chocolate and fighting with himself about a man he could so easily have if he decided to while his father lies in a hospital somewhere, unconscious and unaware of his own son’s selfishness. And somewhere across the city, Minhee is probably sitting alone, crying her heart out.

“Why did you come here? To me?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin peeks over his mug to look at him.

“I don’t know,” Jimin says. “When I realized I needed to get out of Minhee’s apartment and away from everything… somehow I just knew you were the one person I needed to see.”

The last thing he expects is for Jungkook to bristle at something like that, but that’s exactly what he does. His body goes tense and his lips turn downward. “You couldn’t go to any of your friends about this?”

“I— I don’t know,” Jimin stutters, that same clenching he felt in his heart earlier striking him again, this time followed by a shattering inside his chest. “I mean, I guess… I just thought— I don’t know, Jungkook, you just felt like the right person to go to. I’m sorry. I thought you said we were friends.” He sets his cup aside with shaky hands and slides off the table. “I shouldn’t have come here. I’m… really sorry. I’m sorry.”

He turns, a lump in his throat making it feel like he can’t breathe. His eyes sting and he can feel tears—actual, real tears—trying to work their way up.

“No— Wait. Wait, Jimin.” Jungkook launches away from where he rests, grabbing one of Jimin’s hands with both of his own, pulling him back around. “I’m sorry. I just…” He places a hand on either of Jimin’s shoulders, moving him back to the table he sat on. He swallows hard, almost looking like he might throw up he’s so anxious. “You asked me to keep this, you know, platonic, and I’m trying. I’m trying but it’s really, really hard for me. I didn’t mean to be a dick.”

He cups the side of Jimin’s face. Jimin can feel the slightest tremor in his hand and he knows Jungkook is just as terrified of this as he is. They’re so close to crossing the one line they promised they wouldn’t.

“You’re just… so amazing,” Jungkook says, his voice a breathy whisper. “It’s so hard for me to ignore that and be okay with being just… photographer and client. Or just… friends.”

Jimin lets his eyes drift up to meet Jungkook’s, even though he knows that spells his doom. He knows he won’t resist with those eyes staring back at him. “This is bad, Jungkook.”

“I know.”

“We shouldn’t…”

“I know. I know we should just walk away and never see each other again. That’s the only way—” Jungkook presses his lips in a line, head shaking. “I don’t want that, though. I want you.”

Jimin feels his breath leave him, his hands hovering near Jungkook but not quite touching. “I know. There’s no taking it back once it’s done,” he whispers, his fingers finally brushing against Jungkook’s cheek.

Jungkook’s nose bumps against Jimin’s, eyes closing as he touches their foreheads together, but he doesn’t kiss him. He holds him there, thumb brushing along his hairline, hand cupping the back of his neck. Jimin can feel the tension in his hand, how he wants to pull Jimin in, wants to lean forward and kiss him, but he stops himself every time.

A selfish part of Jimin just wants to do it, to throw out his morals and cautions and kiss the man that’s been invading his thoughts for months now. An even more selfish side wants Jungkook to be the first one to make the move, a sick little voice in his head telling him that that way he doesn’t have to take any responsibility for what happens.

It’s wrong, everything about it is wrong, but it’s happening and whatever decency Jimin has left tells him that he is the one responsible no matter who moves first. So he does. He leans in and gives Jungkook’s lips the lightest touch. At least this way the blame is all on himself.

The moment that boundary breaks, eager lips find Jimin’s, pressing them together in a hungry kiss. His own hands land on Jungkook’s shoulders, sliding down over his biceps as he pulls him closer.

It’s like Jimin’s world has been broken into billions of puzzle pieces all his life and they’re all finally falling into place as he kisses Jungkook, heated and impassioned and moving all too fast with little grace. Everything inside him, down to his very soul, says that this is what he’s been waiting for all his life, that this place, with Jungkook, is what everything he’s ever done has been leading up to.

Jimin was never one to believe in fate until now, because there’s no way these lips weren’t always destined to kiss his.

He gasps as Jungkook lifts him onto the table, securing his legs around his waist. They claw at each other’s clothes, Jimin whipping Jungkook’s belt off, harsh breaths panted into each other’s mouth.

The soft lines of Jungkook’s lips scorch themselves into Jimin’s memory, how they capture his with rapturous intent yet remain gentle and searching, taking time to appreciate the way they fit together, despite the desperation in both their actions.

He wishes he could do the same, that he could focus his entire mind and body and soul on Jungkook, on his touch and his kiss, wishes he could tuck it all away in his memory forever and never forget.

But his mind, despite how he loves being tangled up with Jungkook like this, wanders, guilt eating him from the inside out. He knows he has to stop this before it goes too far, that they will both regret it if it keeps going, and he won’t do that Jungkook. To hell with what happens to himself, he can’t live with knowing that Jungkook would feel the same shame.

Jungkook hisses as Jimin’s teeth sink into his lip, hard enough to draw blood, and he stumbles away from him. His hand comes up to press against the injured lip, wide eyes meeting Jimin’s.

“Sorry,” Jimin says as Jungkook wipes the blood off.

“It’s okay,” Jungkook says, moving forward again, but Jimin stops him with a hand on his chest. He pushes him back.

“We can’t. I… can’t. I can’t do this to Minhee, Jungkook, no matter how badly I want you.” He watches as Jungkook nods silently along, taking a few steps back from him. “I already hate myself enough just for wanting you. I don’t want to imagine how I would feel if we actually…” He sighs. “I don’t want you to feel the same way. You don’t deserve that.”

Jungkook nods again. “I understand,” he says, keeping his chin up like this doesn’t bother him one bit, but his eyes tell a different story. Jimin can’t bring himself to look into them any longer. “I’ll excuse myself from future appointments with you and Minhee and find you a new photographer.”

“You don’t have to do that—” Jimin starts, slipping off the table. He reaches out to Jungkook, then stops himself.

“Yeah, I do,” Jungkook whispers, trying to smile through the ache, lips curling into the smallest of smiles. “For myself, Jimin. I don’t think I can do this. I’m just glad to have had the chance to get to know you.”

Jimin bites his tongue, ending any protest before he can utter it. He has to let Jungkook do what he thinks is best. He can’t give him hope, can’t keep the other man around just because he’s selfish and can’t let go. Jungkook is right. He can’t be here if either of them are going to move on.

“You should go see your dad,” Jungkook says with a nod, hands in his pockets as he turns away from Jimin. He distracts himself with some photos spread out across the table. “Trust me, you’ll regret it if anything happens and you didn’t take this time to be with him.”

Jimin doesn’t move a muscle at first, gripping the table behind him. He swallows down whatever plea might be building inside him, silences the cries in his head not to let this happen. He just takes a deep breath and nods.

“I will,” he says, then steps forward to place a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. The other man turns to him, his glasses on again, lips pursed tightly. “Thank you, Jungkook. For just… being who you are.”

He smiles even though it’s hard, and as he leans in to press a kiss to Jungkook’s cheek, he feels a tear slip down his own. Before Jungkook can see it, Jimin turns away from him, leaving the office at a brisk pace. He snatches his jacket on his way out, but rather than putting it on, he buries his face into it as he sits in the front seat of his car.

And he cries. For the first time in what seems like a century, Jimin cries.

 

 

September, 2018

Jimin swipes his hand across the surface of a large, round table, wiping away a speck of something. Across the room he can hear Minhee, bright and bubbly as always, enthusiastically talking to Junghwa about how she wants the stage decorated for the band during their reception.

They have one month left until the wedding and Junghwa has them tacking down the final details of everything they want. She says it’s always best to have it all 100% prepared early so that the final month can be focused on last minute problems that crop up without warning, because that always happens.

Jimin doesn’t want to be here today. As a matter of fact, he had begged Minhee to cancel and do this another day. He tried to tell her it was because he wasn’t feeling well. The truth is, he just doesn’t want her wasting her time on planning the reception when there isn’t going to be one.

There won’t be a reception, there won’t be a wedding, there won’t be any Mr. and Mrs.

Jimin is calling it off. He wanted to this morning when he first saw her but he couldn’t. He was too nervous. More than nervous, actually, he was downright terrified.

He’s about to break the heart of his best friend just a month before they are meant to promise themselves to each other for life. Worse than that, he’s going to tell her about Jungkook. Not only does that mean he’ll be admitting to cheating on her, it means he’ll be coming out to her for the first time.

His fiancée calls for him and he looks up, seeing her beckoning him over to the stage with that bright, beautiful smiles of hers. He wishes he could love her the way he knows she loves him. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t think he ever can. She always has been and always will be his best friend, and he will always love her in that way, but somewhere along the way he seemed to have mistaken that love for something else.

He didn’t even realize until he met Jungkook. Something about the bespectacled, smiling, doe-eyed photographer had sparked something in Jimin that far surpassed anything he’s ever felt for anyone else. Ever since then he hasn’t been able to fool himself into falling in love with Minhee, no matter how hard he tries.

“Jimin, what do you think about this?” Minhee asks him as he saunters over to her, trying his best to keep his obvious misery reigned in. She looks so happy right now, he can’t bring himself to rip the future she thinks she has right from her very grasp.

She shows him something on her phone—some kind of garlands or something—asking his opinion on hanging them alongside the stage. He just smiles and answers with his cookie cutter phrase of “I think it’ll look great” which usually appeases her. But this time she frowns.

It’s not an angry frown, more worried than anything else. She’s not an idiot. She’s caught on to the fact that he’s been unhappy recently. Their arguments turned into one-sided shouting matches on her part, Jimin just sitting there and taking the brunt of her frustrations, too exhausted to fight back. Eventually that evolved into both of them silently waiting for the other to blow up but neither ever would, then it turned into the cold shoulder and avoidance. Today is the first day she’s been excited about the wedding for weeks now.

She pockets her phone, her hand brushing over his back, and he knows this conversation is about to take a turn he’s not ready for. Once Minhee decides she wants to talk about feelings, she gets her way. There’s no avoiding it.

But a voice echoes across the open room, someone talking to Junghwa, apologizing for taking so long to get there. Jimin feels sick to his stomach, his chest growing empty every second they stare at each other, as if his heart just shrivels inside of him.

“You’re a life saver, baby brother,” Junghwa says as he hands her a very official looking folder. “I can’t believe I forgot this.”

“What would you do without me?” Jungkook jokes, all bright-eyed and beaming. It must be a relief not having to see Jimin aside from the occasional run-in at his sister’s office.

Just like that, his smile falls, along with Jimin’s heart. Jimin doesn’t hear his fiancée calling his name, doesn’t feel the slight tug on his sleeve. He sees Jungkook and he feels Jungkook. He feels his lips the way they felt that night in the office.

“I wasn’t expecting to see him here,” Minhee says, and now Jimin hears her.

“Yeah,” he mutters in response, watching as Jungkook pulls his gaze back to his sister, smiling again as they talk. “I don’t think he was expecting to see us either.”

Minhee hums, looking down at her phone. “So weird how he just dropped us like that. He’s still working with all her other clients.” She looks up at Jimin. “Do you have any idea why he didn’t wanna work with us?”

Jimin blinks, finally managing to make himself look away from the other man. “Huh? Uh, I don’t… think it was about not wanting to work with us. The date of the wedding didn’t work for him or something,” Jimin explains, hoping he sounds convincing enough. He’s not a fantastic liar.

“Bummer,” Minhee says with a glance at the photographer. “His pictures are so nice. Oh well, that other guy he recommended is great, too.”

“Yeah.” Jimin nods, looking toward Jungkook again as he hugs his sister goodbye. It’s subtle, but he does cast the tiniest glance in Jimin’s direction before leaving.

“You really think the garlands are a good idea?” Minhee asks, holding her phone up to the stage and closing one eye, trying to envision the decorations there. “Jimin?”

He glances back at her, then to Jungkook as he leaves the building. “I think they’ll look great,” Jimin says, leaning over to kiss the top of her head. “I’ll be right back. I just realized I left my phone out in the car.”

Minhee mumbles a distracted “okay” as she shakes her head at her phone, clearly disappointed in her own choice of decor. Against his better judgment, Jimin heads for the exit, his heart raging around inside his chest.

Just down the street, car keys in hand, stands Jungkook in all his monochrome glory. Black pants, black shoes, a perfectly tailored black jacket over a white shirt. It’s the same peacoat he wore that night. Almost the same outfit.

Suddenly, Jimin’s almost too afraid to approach him. Afraid of a repeat of the past, afraid that Jungkook might be angry with him.

He pushes that all aside and forces his feet forward. “Jungkook,” he calls, just loud enough to be heard over the nearby traffic. He fears his heart might actually stop when the other man looks up at him, so he hugs himself tight as if that will protect him. “Hey.”

Jungkook smiles and it doesn’t seem forced, so that eases Jimin’s anxiety just a touch. “Hey. Sorry. I didn’t realize you two were the clients she was with tonight,” he says, leaning against his car as Jimin comes to a stop, more than enough distance between them. “She forgot something at the office, so…”

“It’s okay,” Jimin says. “It’s not like I don’t want to see you. It’s just…”

“Weird?” Jungkook asks. “Difficult? There are a thousand ways I could describe it. Trust me, I get it.”

“Sorry.”

Jungkook shrugs. “Nothing to apologize for, Jimin. I fell for a man who’s engaged. I kind of brought it upon myself,” he says, the laugh that leaves him so forced it’s almost painful to Jimin. He’s trying so hard not to show how much this actually hurts. Jimin knows. He’s doing the same. “I couldn’t exactly expect you to abandon the life you built just to be with me. I mean, what were you gonna do, call off the wedding and—”

“I am.”

Jungkook stops mid-sentence, mouth hanging open. “What?”

“I’m calling off the wedding,” Jimin tells him, and Jungkook lets out a long, slow exhale.

“Um, why? What happened?” Jungkook asks, but Jimin doesn’t answer right away, not entirely sure what the right thing to say is in this exact moment. “Don’t say it’s because of me. Don’t say you’re calling this off because of me.”

“Sort of. Not because of you… but because of what being around you made me realize.” Jimin sighs, shuffling his feet. “I don’t— I’m not in love with Minhee, Jungkook. I love her, she’s been my best friend for ages now but I’m not in love with her.”

They just stand there for several moments after that, Jimin still hugging himself for safety, Jungkook looking utterly lost.

“I just thought you should know,” Jimin mutters with yet another shrug. “I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m expecting you to drop to a knee and propose to me now. I just thought—” He closes his eyes, shakes his head at himself. “Forget it. I shouldn’t have said anything. I gotta get back inside.”

“Are you gonna tell her?”

Jimin stops, half-turned from Jungkook now. He takes a deep breath, pivots back to look at him. “Tell her?”

“About what happened between us. I know it was just some kissing but… she deserves the truth.”

The city seems to go silent as they stare at each other, Jimin feeling small and scrutinized. “Are you okay with her knowing? I can leave you out of it but she’ll probably ask who it was.”

Jungkook tries once again to smile as he nods. It makes Jimin ache to hug him. “She deserves the whole truth.”

“Okay.” Jimin ducks his head down, jaw working as he wills himself not to cry again. Again. He doesn’t cry for years, then along comes Jungkook and suddenly he’s the goddamn Niagara Falls.

“Take care of yourself, Jimin.”

It stings a bit to watch him hop into his car without another word. He doesn’t even hesitate, doesn’t cast a single look back at Jimin as he goes. Jimin just has to watch as he leaves, drives away and disappears into the traffic. Just like that, he’s gone again.

He knew that telling Jungkook would change nothing. It wasn’t going to trigger some amazing, film-worthy moment of them falling into each other’s arms and accepting that they are the ones meant to be together. That doesn’t happen in real life and Jimin knows that. He doesn’t even want that, but one little corner of his heart still breaks that Jungkook walked away so easily.

Even if they could act on their feelings right away, Jimin’s not sure he would. He’s already failed his relationship with Minhee and shredded whatever he could have had with Jungkook before it even began. Trusting himself with another person’s heart isn’t something he finds himself much capable of in the moment. Maybe it’s best for Jungkook to leave him behind. He’s probably better of this way.

Breathing in the fresh air as if it might fill him with courage, Jimin turns back to go find his fiancée. The longer he puts this off, the worse it will be. There’s nothing he can do to change the outcome. Whatever happens, happens. He has to do this for both their sake’s.

 

Maybe doing this right after also visiting his father in the hospital isn’t such a great idea. After talking to Jungkook, sitting beside his unconscious father, and building himself up to this all day, Jimin is emotionally exhausted.

But he just needs to get it over with or it’s going to keep eating him up.

The already small space between Jimin and Minhee feels suffocatingly tiny as she stares at him leaning against the wall. She sits on the couch with her hands tucked under her legs, unblinking as she waits. She can tell something bad is coming. Jimin feels terrible knowing there’s no way she can predict it. She would never guess he would do this. She trusts him too much.

He sighs, leaning his head back against the wall. She’ll hate him after this. Jungkook hates him. Minhee is going to. Probably all of their friends will, too. Maybe that’s what he deserves. It’s what he deserves and she deserves better, so he just has to rip the figurative band-aid off.

“I cheated on you.”

Minhee’s mouth hangs open, blank-faced as she continues to stare at him. She doesn’t move an inch and the longer she sits there, the more Jimin starts to sweat. He feels like he can’t breathe.

When she says nothing, he can’t keep his mouth shut. Words starts tumbling from him before he can stop them, slipping through the weak grasp of his lips. “But it wasn’t like we— I mean, we just kissed— I didn’t— Jesus, it doesn’t matter what we did together. It still happened. I still cheated, why am I trying to justify it by saying we didn’t fuck?”

“Who is she?”

Jimin peers up, still leaning back against the wall, his eyes wide. Minhee looks at the floor now. He can’t blame her for not wanting to look at him. He wouldn’t either. “Not… she.”

Minhee’s mouth forms a silent “oh”, her brows rising to her hairline. “So,” she says, her voice trembling. “Jungkook?”

He can’t meet her eyes, looking back down at his feet. “That obvious, huh?”

“I sort of put it together when he showed up at the reception hall,” she says, and Jimin’s brows furrow. “Not that you two, you know… But I could tell the reason he quit our wedding was because of something to do with you. I thought it was just some stupid, like, alpha male thing. Like you two didn’t get along or something.” She lets out a humorless laugh, her eyes shining with unshed tears. “Clearly you guys were getting along. A little too well.”

“Minhee, I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t.”

Jimin stops halfway through making his way to the couch, watching as Minhee raises a hand to halt him. He moves back against the wall again, head down like a shamed child.

He watches as Minhee breathes out a soft “wow”, head shaking. She stares at her feet but she doesn’t say anything more than that. She’s holding it together better than he expected. She usually cries so easily, especially under all the stress weighing on her lately.

“I was gonna call it off,” he says, arms crossing to protect himself again. “but I think that should be your decision…”

Now Minhee looks at him, one brow cocked like she’s completely baffled he would even say that. “What, like, I make the choice of whether or not we get married? When you don’t even want to?”

“I do want to—”

“You don’t, Jimin,” she snaps, effectively silencing him. “Don’t marry me out of pity, it’s insulting.”

“Min—”

“We’ve been best friends forever, Jimin, which means you can be honest with me.” She takes a deep breath, he holds his. “Do you love me or not?”

He doesn’t even have to think to answer that. “I love you…”

“But not like that?”

Her steady gaze trains itself on him again and he feels about an inch tall, but he holds himself up. He has to be honest, if nothing else. He can’t let himself leave this apartment a complete scoundrel.

“No. Not like that,” he finally says, and Minhee nods.

“Well, I’m sorry,” she says, standing up from the couch. She doesn’t cry, still, but he can see her holding back.

Jimin moves forward and this time she doesn’t stop him, doesn’t move away. She just looks up at him. “Why are you apologizing?”

Minhee reaches up, a sad smile on her lips as she places her hand on his cheek. “Because it had to have been hard, dealing with this. Trying to make sense of your feelings for Jungkook without hurting me.” Her thumb brushes beneath his eye. “Is it just him or have there been others?”

Jimin’s eyes go wide. “What? Like, how many people have I cheated with? I never—”

“No. No, no, Jimin. Just, other guys. Is it just him or…”

“Oh. You’re asking if I’m gay. There have been other guys before him. Other girls, too.” Jimin smiles when she does, then jokes with a chuckle, “It’s called bisexuality.”

Minhee chuckles, giving his cheek a light tap before moving her hand away. “I know what it’s called, punk,” she says. “I’m just sorry you never felt like you could tell me.”

Jimin sighs, then tugs Minhee into a tight embrace, squeezing her until she squeaks. “You’re amazing.”

“Is that why you’re trying to crush me to death?” she croaks, and he loosens his grip on her with a chuckle. Her arms loop around his waist, head on his chest. “Honestly, I’m not sure how you’re not head over heels in love with me.”

Jimin laughs through the tears as they start to creep forward, staining his cheeks, then she gives him a light smack on the back and they part from each other. He worries his lip, staring down at her. “I should go.”

Minhee nods, and Jimin can’t help but admire how strong she is. There’s pain in her eyes, heartbreak. He can see it, but she smiles through it anyway. “I’ll call my parents and tell them.” She holds up a hand before he can speak. “I won’t tell them why, if you don’t want anyone to know.”

“The truth always comes out eventually,” he says with a shrug, slowly moving around her toward the door. “Your dad already hates me, so…”

“Jimin, this puts your job at risk with him—”

“Minhee.” Jimin stops, turning to her one last time. “I did this. I brought this upon myself. I can deal with the consequences.”

She says nothing more as he leaves, lips tight and head tipped back to keep the tears from spilling. He leans against the wall just outside her apartment door for a moment, collecting himself before he heads outside.

He fishes his phone out, shuffling through his texts to find the last one he sent to Jungkook and clicking on it. Taking a deep breath, he types out a message, telling him everything that happened, telling him about Minhee’s reaction, the fact that he has no idea where to go from here. His whole life has just been uprooted, every plan he made for the future impossible now.

His finger hovers over the send button, cars honk and tires screech along the street ahead of him. His hand trembles, he glances up at the city around him, at all these people seemingly carefree as they browse through shops or chatter happily on their phones.

As he watches them, he wonders if Jungkook is doing the same right now. If he’s just enjoying his day as he should be, without worry or concern, without hurting over everything that’s happened between the two of them, without the guilt and shame eating him up.

Jimin deletes the message and shoves his phone back into his pocket. He doesn’t let himself cry again as he gets in his car and drives back to his own apartment.

He doesn’t look back in the direction of Minhee’s, he doesn’t look in the direction of that bar where he and Jungkook first drank, and he sure as hell doesn’t look down the road he knows would lead to Jeon Junghwa’s office.

Jimin drives back to his apartment in silence.

 

 

December, 2025

The office bustles with busy assistants zipping from room to room, authors and agents arguing with each other, and Jimin shuffling through a stack of papers for one very important file that seems to have vanished from existence. He doesn’t have time for this right now. Why today of all days?

If he’s late to that damn wedding, he’ll never live it down. Taehyung’s already waiting in the parking lot to give him a ride and a scolding from him is bad enough. Yoongi will make him suffer for the rest of his days if he’s running into the middle of the ceremony to go stand up there with two of his best friends.

“Daehyun!” he calls as his assistant rushes by. The young man backs up, stumbling a bit as he steps into the office.

“Yes, Mr. Park?”

“Do you know where that file is that I needed to give to Ms. Lee today?” he asks, lifting a thick binder to peek beneath it. “The one with Jung Yoona’s manuscript in it? I swear it was right here.”

“You gave it to me to give to Ms. Lee yesterday, Mr. Park,” Daehyun says, and Jimin stops to look up at him.

He sighs. “Really? I don’t even remember doing that.” Jimin grabs a slip of paper that’s landed on his keyboard in the process of dragging his desk for that file. “Can you make sure this gets to her, too? I have to head out early for Namjoon and Yoongi’s wedding. If any important messages come for me, please don’t hesitate to text me.”

“Of course, Mr. Park,” Daehyun says with a smile, grabbing the paper and tucking it into the stack of folders in his arms. “Tell Namjoon I said congratulations and sorry that I can’t make it.”

“I will. Thank you, Daehyun.” Jimin throws his jacket on a bit haphazardly, missing the sleeve several times before Daehyun steps forward to help him. “Assistant of the year. Remind me to tell Ms. Lee to double your raise at your next evaluation.”

Daehyun chuckles as he steps out of Jimin’s way of the door. “Drive safe.”

“Thank you!” Jimin calls back to him, running through the office and past the busy elevator. He leaps down the stairs, amazed he doesn’t crash and burn before reaching the bottom, and bolts out to Taehyung’s car, his phone ringing incessantly in his pocket.

It takes less than a second after he slides into the passenger seat for Taehyung to start berating him. “I swear to god, if we’re late because of you, I will destroy everything you love.”

Jimin just laughs. “You won’t have to. Yoongi will take care of that.”

“I think we could make it a team effort,” Taehyung says as he tears out of the parking lot, speeding down the street without a care, ignoring the snow and any slickness of the road. Honestly, who chooses to have a winter wedding? “Namjoon might even join in.”

“Puh-lease, Namjoon adores me. He wouldn’t let anyone lay a finger on me. Especially since I’m his favorite coworker.”

Taehyung only snorts in response before focusing on the road, taking every turn like he’s some kind of race car driver. Thanks to his reckless driving, they make it on time, rushing inside to get changed and find the grooms.

Namjoon has been Jimin’s closest friend since he got his new job as an editor, and Yoongi has been Taehyung’s since he saved his ass in a bar fight. Through Jimin and Taehyung, the two met, and here they are two years later.

“I told you they would make it on time,” Hoseok says, holding his hand out to Seokjin, palm up. “C’mon, cough it up.”

Seokjin sighs, eyes rolling as he fishes out his wallet and counts out bills. Jimin and Taehyung watch with matching frowns.

“You were betting on us?” Taehyung asks. He adds with feigned hurt, “You guys are terrible, using our friends’ special day to make money.”

Hoseok snorts, landing a kick to Taehyung’s butt and earning a yelp from him about ruining his suit. “Says the guy who’s placed bets on Jimin’s last three relationships.”

Jimin blinks, then glares over at his friend, arms crossing. Taehyung bats his eyelashes innocently. “You did what?”

“Nothing,” Taehyung says, backing away. “You can’t hurt me right now. You wouldn’t dare ruin their special day!”

“You wanna test that theory?” Jimin asks, taking a few threatening steps forward.

“I earned the right to be spared of your wrath when I reminded you to prep for the possibility of getting laid tonight,” Taehyung says, lifting a brow and pointing at Jimin. “Groomsmen always get laid.”

Everyone laughs as Jimin fakes like he’s about to chase after Taehyung, earning a frightened shout from his friend. Jimin snickers along when Taehyung sticks his tongue out at him, then he hears someone call over the ruckus.

“Hey, guys, Yoongi wants me to get a picture of all the groomsmen together before the wedding.”

Jimin goes rigid, the only one of the group that doesn’t gather together for a photo. He keeps his back turned to the person calling for them, feeling lightheaded and woozy. How long has it been? Seven years? Long enough that he should have forgotten that voice but he hasn’t.

“Jimin!” Hoseok calls, tapping his shoulder. “C’mon, man. You awake over there?”

He takes a deep breath and turns, his eyes immediately falling on the man behind the camera. He’s not wearing his glasses and his hair is cut a little shorter, but everything else about him remains the same, seemingly untouched by time. Big eyes shine back at Jimin, the corners of his lips curling upward.

“How about you stand right in the center?” Jungkook asks, beckoning Jimin forward, and Jimin manages to collect his thoughts long enough to wander into the middle of the group.

They all get in their positions, arms looped around each other, everyone smiling at the camera, but Jimin stares at Jungkook.

Jungkook smiles at him as he raises his camera. His eyes never leave Jimin as he gives them a nod of approval at their pose and utters a soft, “You look perfect.”

 

Jimin heads straight for the open bar during the reception and stays there through most of it. It’s a small venue, meaning there are few places to hide. Namjoon and Yoongi prefer to keep things like this intimate, both being fairly introverted, private people. Lucky for Jimin there’s an upstairs, all of the doors up there locked to keep the guests in the main area, but the balcony overlooking the venue is hidden enough for him for now.

Weddings, he’s decided, are cursed. For him, at least. How is it that of all the photographers in the city, the one hired for his friends’ wedding is the one and only Jeon Jungkook? How is it that Jimin has avoided any and all weddings for seven years for fear of unearthing memories of his own failed wedding only to finally give in and attend this one, and this is the one at which he runs into the bespectacled photographer he’s always wished he could forget about?

Not bespectacled anymore, he thinks as he rests his arms on the banister. He lays his head upon them, his glass balanced on the flat, wooden surface beside him.

It’s funny how in just a few moments, Jungkook has once again consumed Jimin’s every thought without even trying. Just like back then, all he has to do is smile and Jimin feels like he’s lost balance in his life, like he’s on the verge of tipping over a point of no return. The worst part is, back then he had reason to resist and now he doesn’t, but after all this time he doubts Jungkook still feels the same.

The buzzing of his phone interrupts his one-man pity party and he glances down to find a text from Daehyun, just updating him on some paperwork he organized for Jimin to look through on Monday. He shakes his head, texting back to ask why the hell the poor boy is still at work this late and demanding he go home and sleep.

He truly is the best assistant Jimin could ask for but his work ethic makes even Jimin look like a lazy fool. He just wishes the kid would dedicate a little less time to him and a little more to living his own life.

Jimin sighs, then drains his glass of its last few drops of alcohol. He doesn’t feel much like trekking back down to the bar, especially not with the risk of bumping into someone he’s too afraid to face, even though he so desperately wants to see that smile again.

He’s bumped into Jungkook too many times already, posing for pictures with his friends and struggling not to let how awkward he feels show through in his smile. All night, he’s been torn between dodging the camera every time it’s pointed on him or intentionally seeking it out just to hear Jungkook say “perfect” when the shot is just right and pretending the photographer is saying it about him.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Jimin hears a voice behind him say, “You know, I can’t decide if you’re avoiding the crowd or just me.”

He closes his eyes, curses the heavens, then turns to give Jungkook the best smile he can. “I’m not a fan of weddings so I’m just trying to hide out until it’s done.”

“I can’t imagine why,” Jungkook says, taking slow steps toward Jimin, scuffing his foot against a small stain in the rug. He moves to lean against the banister, his camera hanging around his neck. “I’m about to head out soon, though. Yoongi says everyone’s too drunk for decent pictures anymore so I’m free.”

Jimin chuckles at that, glancing down at the first floor where everyone is indeed too drunk to even dance properly. “I think I might sneak out, too,” he says. “No one would even notice at this point. Which means I should probably call a cab, so…”

Jungkook just watches as Jimin raises his phone, an almost apologetic smile on his face as he backs away. His heart beats so rapidly he feels like he might pass out. He needs to get out of here before he completely freaks out or says something he regrets.

“I could give you a ride home,” Jungkook offers, and Jimin stops dead in his tracks. “Or, I was thinking… the bar here is alright but it’s not that great. We could go somewhere better and catch up. It’s been a long time.”

“Our bar closed down,” Jimin says, then feels his face redden. He hadn’t meant to call it that. That was always his personal name for it because he never did and never would go there with anyone else. That was their spot. That was where he first fell for Jungkook before he even realized it.

“Actually,” Jungkook says as Jimin takes a few hesitant steps closer to the banister, leaning against it with just a few small inches between them. “They just relocated.”

Jimin runs his lip between his teeth, his head and heart in complete turmoil. Why is he even hesitating? There’s nothing stopping him. No one between them this time, nothing to feel any shame or guilt over. For the first time, Jimin could have a drink with Jungkook, let his guard down, spend time with him without feeling like a complete sleaze.

Jungkook clearly doesn’t hate him for what happened in the past. What kind of fool would Jimin have to be to pass this up?

“You really wanna go get drunk with me?” Jimin asks with a laugh. “After the shit that went down between us last time we got drunk together?”

“Well, you’re not engaged again, are you?” Jungkook asks, grinning as he looks down at Jimin’s hands for a ring.

Jimin shakes his head. “Nope.” He sighs dramatically, earning a chuckle from the other man. “Alright,” he says, gesturing at the stairs. “Let’s go get a drink.”

He doesn’t move right away when Jungkook heads back downstairs. Jimin waits and watches for a second, trying to convince himself that this is real, that they somehow found each other again after seven years apart and it’s not a dream.

He watches Jungkook check something on his camera as he goes, Jimin’s heart already going with him, and then he follows after.

 

“Wait, wait, wait, so let me get this straight,” Jimin says, his half-empty mug sitting forgotten on the counter. They both ended up barely drinking, still working on their first round after ages of talking with each other, too distracted to drink. “Yoongi was your camp counselor when you were in middle school?”

“Yeah, I was in middle school, he was, like, in his third year of high school or something. I was obsessed with him. I thought he was the coolest guy ever.” Jungkook buries his face as he laughs, Jimin beaming along with him. “We ended up being really good friends after that. I think he took pity on me because I was such an awkward kid.”

Jimin coos a soft “aww” as his hand lands on Jungkook’s back, both of them doubling over with laughter as Jungkook continues his story of Yoongi at camp. According to Jungkook, he didn’t like many of the kids there and even “accidentally” knocked Jungkook’s lifelong bully into the lake. It makes Jimin all that more fond of Yoongi to know that that quiet ferocity of his was used to protect Jungkook at some point in his life.

“So that’s why he hired you as his photographer tonight,” Jimin says as Jungkook finally takes a sip of his abandoned drink.

“Well, that and the fact that I’m extremely talented— Ow!” Jungkook laughs as Jimin smacks him on the arm. “It’s true and you know it.”

Jimin shakes his head, grinning at Jungkook over his mug. “You’re way more of a brat than you used to be,” he says, the excitable, childlike grin on his face slipping to something a little more subtle, a fondness overtaking every other emotion there. “You’ve changed a lot.”

“I hope that’s a good thing,” Jungkook says, turning on his stool to face Jimin completely. “You’ve changed, too. You seem… happy.”

“I think I am,” Jimin says, all the silliness of their earlier conversation vanishing. “It took awhile to sort of… figure myself out after everything happened, you know. I had to find a completely new direction to go in. I, uh,” he takes a large gulp of his drink, “had to find a new job after calling off the wedding and that sort of derailed my whole life.”

“Shit, Minhee’s dad fired you for that?” Jungkook asks, leaning just the tiniest bit closer.

Jimin takes a deep breath, mug rising to his lips again. “He encouraged me to quit,” he says, and takes another drink.

“Where are you working now?”

“I’m a content editor at a publishing house. All those years editing shitty copy at his company paid off.” Jimin sets his drink aside, turning as well, one leg crossing over the other. His foot bumps against Jungkook’s leg. “I went back to college for a couple years to focus more on creative writing and… Well, here I am, making a living by reading fantasy books. It’s kind of awesome. What about you? Are you still working with your sister?”

“Sometimes.” Jungkook’s eyes drift down to where Jimin’s foot brushes against him, his hand moving to rest on the counter just an inch away from Jimin’s. “I actually got a job as a photographer for this big travel agency and went all over the world, taking pictures.”

“Holy shit, that’s amazing,” Jimin says. He almost doesn’t notice the way the very tips of Jungkook’s fingers brush against his own. Almost. With anyone else he might have completely missed it, but a single touch from Jungkook can send tingles through Jimin’s entire body. “So you’re not doing that anymore?”

“No. I just got back a couple months ago. I’ve just been freelancing since then, trying to decide if I want something more steady.” Jungkook pauses, something behind his eyes that Jimin can’t quite read as he utters the next few words. “If I wanna… stay or not.”

Jimin’s heart skips when he feels Jungkook’s hand slide over his. He turns his palm up, fingers curling around Jungkook’s, never breaking eye contact with him as he does. He feels breathless, light as a feather, the bar around them suddenly quiet.

Then Jungkook pulls his hand back and turns away, grabbing his drink and tipping his head back as he guzzles the rest of it down.

Jimin turns toward the counter again, head down. He casts Jungkook a glance, grasping for his breath again. “Well, I’m sure there are a lot of people here that would be happy if you stayed,” he says, turning his attention to the television above the bar.

After a few more awkward moments of silence, Jungkook finds something else for them to talk about, and they fall back into the comfort of each other as they chat late into the night.

 

Somehow, Jimin barely even feels buzzed by the time they leave the bar. They had been so caught up in each other they didn’t drink nearly as much as they would have in the past. Not to mention the hours they spent sharing a plate of nachos and sobering up from the slight tipsiness that did hit them.

They walk along busy streets, everyone out and about, enjoying their Friday night. Jimin keeps his hands secured in his pockets, otherwise he might not resist the urge to reach out and hold Jungkook’s.

He realizes there’s nothing to be afraid of this time around but something about just jumping into this feels weird, even if his heart is more than ready to dive in headfirst. Considering the way it all started between them and the fact that they haven’t seen each other for seven years, walking hand in hand with Jungkook as if they don’t have all that rocky history between them would be strange.

Still, he wishes he could erase all of that, go back to when they first met, and change everything. Everything except how they felt for each other. For such a short term, whirlwind fling—that, quite frankly, can barely even be called a “fling”—it burned hotter and brighter than anything else Jimin’s had since.

He wonders if Jungkook felt the same over those seven years, how often he thought of Jimin, if ever. He certainly occupied Jimin’s thoughts more than he should have.

They don’t talk much now, not like they did in the bar. Jimin asks a few questions about Junghwa and how she’s doing, Jungkook asks about Jimin’s father’s slow recovery from his coma, they talk a bit about Jungkook’s travels, how Jimin got his new job. But for the most part, they walk in silence, just watching the city around them move. It’s nice and it’s peaceful, and Jimin’s thankful that Jungkook is the type who doesn’t always have to fill the silence. Sometimes silence with someone else by your side is nice.

They cut through a quiet alley to dodge the crowd that has gathered around some kind of street performer up ahead. Normally, Jimin would stop to watch something like that but right now the only sight he wants to appreciate is the man beside him.

It’s cold out, their breath visible in front of them in little puffs of white, but not so cold that it’s unbearable. He glances up at the sky, then at the buildings around them, realizing where they are.

“You know, I actually live really close by here,” Jimin says, glancing over at Jungkook. When the other man stops, Jimin spins around to face him, eyes wide. “I— I wasn’t suggesting— I was just saying— Sorry. That sounded like I was… you know, inviting you over… for…” He swallows hard. “You know.”

In the distance, he can hear the performer down the street, the steady strum of a guitar mingling with the sound of Jungkook’s footsteps echoing around the alley. He’s hesitant at first, just one small step in Jimin’s direction, then another. And then Jimin feels hands cupping his face and lips cradling his.

He clings onto Jungkook however he can, touching any part of him in reach, tugging at him this way and that, dragging him closer than he thought possible as he stumbles back, colliding with a brick wall. His breath huffs out of him when he hits it but he doesn’t stop, hands slipping beneath Jungkook’s jacket to hug him tight.

Everything from that night in the office comes rushing back to him, only it’s a thousand times more powerful now. He remembers the pounding of his heart then, the excitement, the thrill of finally kissing Jungkook after so long of his thoughts being completely consumed by him. But this time there’s no shame of doing this behind someone else’s back.

When they stop to catch their breath, Jimin almost expects Jungkook to pull away, to realize what just happened and apologize when there’s definitely nothing to be sorry for other than ruining kisses from anyone else for the rest of Jimin’s life. He could kiss a thousand more people—a million, even—and he doesn’t think any would even hold a candle to the way Jungkook kisses him, the stirring it causes in his heart as he feels cool fingers brush along his cheek.

“On second thought,” Jimin whispers, eyes closed as Jungkook begins dotting kisses along his jaw. “My place is really, really close.”

Jungkook responds with another kiss, enveloping Jimin in his arms. Everything happens in a flash. Jimin’s not even sure how they get from the alley to his apartment but his heart spirals out of control, and he can feel it pounding in his chest, against his ribs, in his throat. It pounds so hard he’s sure Jungkook can feel it too.

They’re stumbling, fumbling messes as they crash through his apartment, jackets strewn across the floor, Jungkook’s scarf tossed over the back of a chair. It’s not nearly warm enough in the room to be stripped down to nothing, but neither of them pay attention to the chilly bite against their skin as they kiss.

Jimin does manage to slap his hand over the thermostat and press a few buttons, though he has no idea if they’re the ones he needs. He figures it won’t matter once they crash into his bed together, already half naked. They’ll warm up quick enough.

“Sure you’re okay with this?” Jungkook asks between breathless kisses down Jimin’s neck, their hands working at their belts, Jimin dropping back on the bed as he kicks his pants aside.

Jimin kneels at the edge of the bed, cupping the nape of Jungkook’s neck as he pulls him into another kiss. “Yes,” he mumbles against warm lips, pulse racing as Jungkook presses forward, crawling onto the mattress as Jimin backs up. He feels fingers at the waistband of his underwear, tugging them down.

As Jimin lies back, hips lifting to let Jungkook strip him of that last bit of material, he takes the moment to admire the sight of Jungkook leaning over him. The light of the moon streaming in through the blinds is just enough for him to appreciate the curves and angles of Jungkook, and he trails his fingers over where his hipbones jut out, along the vee shape beneath them, stopping to wrap around his cock.

Jungkook stares down at him, hands traveling up his stomach and chest, as he bends forward to kiss Jimin again. As he does, Jimin catches his chin, whispering into the kiss, “After seven years of being in love with you, how could I not be okay with this?”

The younger man leans back, eyes going round at Jimin’s words. Truthfully, Jimin doesn’t even know where those words come from, just that he’s waited long enough to say them.

Jimin gasps as Jungkook dives in to kiss him again, pinning him against the mattress, the same fervor they had on their way into the apartment returning as he decorates Jimin. He reaches down to swipe his thumb over the head of Jimin’s cock, precome slicking his length up before he strokes him.

Jimin catches Jungkook’s lower lip between his teeth, reminiscent of the way he did the first time they kissed. That, however, was to stop the kiss before it went too far. This is only to spur Jungkook on, make him groan at the feeling, his cock twitching in Jimin’s hand. Jungkook grips his hip with one hand, eager as he urges Jimin to turn over, which Jimin is all too happy to obey.

“Lube?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin points to the nightstand, not even managing to get a single word out before Jungkook darts for it, retrieving the bottle from the top drawer, along with a condom.

Fingers tremble over cool skin, warming under Jungkook’s touch, a fire igniting between the two of them as they twist the sheets of his bed. Jimin’s hands tug them off the corners of the mattress, his whole body engulfed by the warmth of Jungkook’s, lips kissing down his spine and hands exploring him.

Jimin bites his lips when Jungkook tugs his hips up, positioning his ass in the air, kissing over his right cheek. Jungkook’s hands knead his cheeks, spreading them. The bed dips as he kneels behind Jimin, and Jimin shivers at the heat of his breath as Jungkook’s tongue presses against his hole.

He twitches at the feeling, almost foreign to him it’s been so long since anyone did this. This is the last place he expected to end up tonight—not like this, with Jungkook of all people. And it feels so good the way Jungkook’s tongue curls inside him, one lubed finger slipping in with it, that he almost forgets this isn’t just some vivid fantasy.

His hand drags away from the mattress to reach back, spreading his own cheek to the side to let Jungkook in deeper, his fingers sinking into Jimin, making him jerk forward on the bed and moan when he crooks his fingers against his prostate. Jimin’s eyes squeeze shut tight, labored breaths tumbling past his lips as Jungkook works miracles.

Jungkook’s tongue leaves him, lips instead kissing over his lower back, hand splaying across it as well. His fingers keep working Jimin open, stretching him, and his breath tickles Jimin’s back as he speaks. “Just tell me when you feel ready—”

“God— fuck— I’m so ready,” Jimin sighs before Jungkook even finishes the sentence. He’s so overwhelmed by his need to feel Jungkook inside of him it’s almost scary.

He feels like he’s teetering on the edge of something dangerous, an addiction to the pleasure thrumming through his body, face buried against the mattress and teeth biting at his pillow to muffle himself as Jungkook massages his prostate once more. A hand clasps over his where it clenches into a fist on the bed, their fingers interlocking, and then Jungkook slips out of him and away to grab the condom.

Jimin pushes himself up onto all fours, hands feeling weak as he glances back at Jungkook rolling the condom onto his cock. He grabs the lube, turning halfway to spread it over Jungkook’s cock, his other hand stroking his own.

Jungkook moves forward, Jimin leaning his head back on his shoulder and turning to capture his lips in a kiss. He shivers as he feels Jungkook’s sliding his cock between his cheeks, teasing his hole with the tip but not entering just yet.

“Ready?” he asks, lips brushing along Jimin’s jaw, and Jimin can only nod, not trusting his voice to work as the thick length slides down his crack again, wet with lube.

Jimin leans forward, arms folding over the mattress and forehead resting on them, his ass high in the air simply to make it an easier slide for Jungkook. He feels the bed shift, feels a hands on his hip while the other steadies Jungkook’s cock to guide it inside of him.

There’s a sharp intake of breath that has Jungkook halting, checking that Jimin’s okay before going any further. Jimin’s the impatient one, searching for grip on the bed to push himself up again. He flattens his back against Jungkook’s chest, hand reaching back to grab a handful of Jungkook’s ass as he fucks himself back onto his cock.

The slight burn is worth it, Jimin taking a deep breath to calm himself and ignore the discomfort. He just needs this. He doesn’t want to wait. His body aches to feel all of Jungkook inside him, and his heart aches at the way Jungkook holds him tighter, peppering gentle kisses over his shoulder to ease him as he adjusts.

Jungkook slides an arm across his chest, bracing it there to hold Jimin in place once Jimin relaxes, quiet murmurs asking Jungkook to move escaping his lips. Jungkook rocks his hips back, Jimin sighing at the sensation of his cock sliding out of him and then pushing back in, stretching him, bottoming out inside him.

Jimin’s tongue flicks over his lips, teeth catching the lower one, his eyes closed. “Fuck,” slips past his lips as Jungkook’s hips snap forward again. Jungkook holds his hip, teeth and lips and tongue ravishing Jimin’s neck, spine, shoulders, everything he can reach as his pace picks up.

The mattress shakes beneath them, their hands grasping at each other however they can as they tug their bodies closer, the sound of skin slapping against skin as Jungkook buries himself inside Jimin, angling his cock just right to make Jimin see stars. The cry that escapes Jimin when Jungkook’s cock rams into his prostate is almost ear-shattering.

He bows forward on the bed, face buried in the pillows as he moans, curses and Jungkook’s name falling from him. Jimin’s fingers claw at the sheets as Jungkook takes hold of his hips with both hands now, bracing him as he fucks into him relentlessly, setting an almost brutal pace that Jimin loves a little too much.

Jimin manages to wrap a weak hand around his own cock, pumping it a bit unevenly, his mind and body lost in the waves of pleasure rolling through him. He can feel how close he is, heat coiling inside him, his abdomen tightening, hole clenching around Jungkook, but what pushes him over the edge is when Jungkook leans forward, lips on his shoulder, and moans out Jimin’s name. It’s the way he holds Jimin close, embraces him, the intimacy, the adoration.

His voice echoes low and deep in the back of Jimin’s head, sending vibrations through him, and then Jimin’s coming across the sheets, his teeth sinking into the pillow again to try stifling his moans in vain. He peers back to see Jungkook watching him, watches the way Jungkook unravels, the sight of Jimin coming undone tipping him over the edge.

Jungkook’s rhythm falls apart, hips moving erratically against Jimin until he spills inside the condom, his palm sliding up Jimin’s side, soothing him as he finishes.

Jimin closes his eyes, catching his breath, chest heaving. He can hear Jungkook doing the same behind him. If he didn’t feel Jungkook’s hands on him, his cock still inside him, if his body wasn’t thrumming with pleasure, he once again might convince himself this is all a vivid dream. It’s impossible to believe that they’re really here.

Here. After years—years—of waiting and wishing and wondering what he could have done differently to keep Jungkook in his life. Regretting every damn day that went by without Jungkook by his side…

They’re here, with Jungkook pressing soft kisses to the back of his shoulder, panting hot against his skin as he tries to catch his breath. Jimin almost doesn’t want him to move away, even if it’s just to the other side of the bed, because he’s still not sure this is real. If he had just a moment longer—just one more moment of Jungkook tangled up with him—maybe then he could believe it.

Thankfully, even when Jungkook falls into the empty space beside him on the bed, he keeps their hands locked tightly together, and it makes falling asleep just a bit easier.

 

Falling asleep is one thing, staying asleep is another story entirely. Jimin wakes just a few hours after passing out next to Jungkook, silently shuffling out of bed to clean himself off since he had been too lazy to do it before falling asleep.

He leans against the counter of his bathroom, a loose pair of sweats slung low around his hips now. Jimin stares at himself in the mirror for a moment, looking at his mussed hair, the little hickeys dotting his neck, his kiss-swollen lips.

Jimin reaches up, swiping his thumb along his bottom lip. He glances into the other room to see Jungkook stretched out across the bed, his limbs sticking out in every direction. With a smile, Jimin makes his way back to the bed and slips beneath the sheets.

Jungkook stirs beside him, turning to face Jimin as his eyes flutter open. He yawns.

“Time is it?”

“Midnight,” Jimin says, rolling onto his side and tucking his hands under his cheek. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“It’s fine.” Jungkook brushes Jimin’s hair back, draws his thumb along his brow and down his cheek. He pulls away suddenly and sits up. “I should go,” he says under his breath, almost more to himself than Jimin. He scoots to the edge of the bed.

Jimin watches with his heart pounding, his blood running cold. “Are you leaving because you want to?” he asks, stopping Jungkook halfway through standing up. “Or because you think you have to?” He reaches out, fingers barely ghosting over Jungkook’s wrist, fear clamping tight around his heart. “Because you don’t. You can stay.”

Jungkook stares at him for an eternity, unmoving. He drops back onto the bed, then spins around to kneel over Jimin, catching his lips with his own.

Never in Jimin’s life has he even felt so relieved at another’s touch, but feeling Jungkook’s hands on him again, holding just as tight as Jimin does, fills him with a sense of peacefulness. The tightness around his heart eases, letting it flutter fast and free as Jungkook kisses him with abandon, the two of them falling back onto the mattress again.

Seven years. Seven years since they met, seven years since Jimin fell without even knowing he had fallen. Seven years of waiting for this moment and even with all the pain they endured in the short time they had together before, it was all worth it. It was worth it to have Jungkook here with him now.

 

 

May, 2028

Ten years. It’s been ten years since they first met, three since they met again on that fateful night at Yoongi’s and Namjoon’s wedding.

Jimin runs his fingers over the photos, all of them taken by Jungkook that night. The very next page holds pictures from their first few dates, the days they spent together in the immediate aftermath of sleeping together.

The moment Jimin asked Jungkook to stay, every wall that had ever kept them from each other crumbled down and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

Jimin fidgets with the cuff of his jacket, not missing the sound of the door opening behind him. He guesses it’s Taehyung, coming back to help him finish getting ready. But then a low, soft voice speaks.

“You look stunning, as always.”

Jimin chuckles, working his lower lip through his teeth, glancing at the reflection of the newcomer in the mirror before him. “We’re not supposed to see each other before,” he says, spinning on the stool to face his groom. “Bad luck and all that.”

“We’ve used up all our bad luck over the last ten years since we met, Jimin. I think we’re safe.”

He smiles, leaning into Jungkook’s embrace as he reaches out to him, resting his head against his stomach.

“Why do you have those here?” Jungkook asks, nodding toward the photo albums.

Jimin smiles over at the pictures, turning in his seat but staying secure in Jungkook’s arms. “She wants to see them after the wedding, at the reception.”

He watches Jungkook’s reflection in the mirror again as the other man’s eyes drift over the pages. “You two have missed a lot of each other’s lives since then.”

“Yeah.” Jimin reaches up where Jungkook’s hands rest and laces their fingers together. “We just needed time. A lot of time. But I’m glad she’s back in my life now. Have you seen her yet?”

“Minhee? Yeah, she arrived with your mom and dad.” Jungkook leans forward. “These pages are from Namjoon and Yoongi’s wedding, aren’t they?”

Jimin nods. “Yep. I’m noticing a pattern, looking at these now.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, you have a bad habit of taking tons of pictures of me and never getting in front of the camera, yourself.”

“It’s more fun to take pictures of you.”

Jimin stands, leaning into Jungkook’s embrace and burying his face into his neck. “Are you nervous?”

“Hell no,” Jungkook says with a snort, his hand slipping beneath Jimin’s jacket to fidget with his white button-up. “You? You’re not gonna get cold feet and leave me at the altar, are you?”

“Please, I’m 32 years old, I’m more than ready to get married.” Jimin chuckles, muffled against his soon-to-be husband. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. Especially not with you.” He smiles when Jungkook gives him another squeeze. “We’re walking up to that altar together and we’re leaving it together.”

Jungkook’s hand cups the back of Jimin’s head, cradling him close, turning to press a kiss to his temple. It’s such a serene, quiet moment that Jimin almost doesn’t want it to end. Even with the guests waiting just outside the door, the ceremony prepped and ready to go, he would gladly forget about all of it to stay here in Jungkook’s arms instead.

But the silence shatters when a door swings open and a groan greets them. “You guys aren’t supposed to see each other,” Taehyung whines, but both grooms ignore him, Jimin just barely peeking past Jungkook at their friend.

Jungkook doesn’t let go of him, so Jimin keeps his hold as well. “Go away, I’m trying to cuddle my husband,” Jungkook says with a chuckle.

“He’s not your husband yet and he’s not going to be if you don’t get the fuck out and let us finish.”

With a dramatic sigh, Jungkook lets go and steps back, his hand drifting along Jimin’s cheek. He pecks Jimin on the lips, earning an impatient little tut from Taehyung, and then slips out of the room with a smile.

Jimin watches him go, hands clasped in front of him to make up for the sudden lack of Jungkook’s warm touch. He sees his friend rolling his eyes at him.

“You guys are so gross,” Taehyung mumbles as he shuts the door. He turns to Jimin with a smile that contradicts his tone. “Let’s finish you up so you can go marry your man.”

 

The whole night is surreal; walking up that aisle with Jungkook, sliding that ring onto his finger with cheesy grins on their faces, the unbelievable kiss they share (and maybe take a little too far for public), seeing and talking with Minhee, showing pictures of his new life to the very person he had planned to marry ten years ago.

By the time it’s all over, Jimin isn’t even sure any of it really happened. Hugging his friends and family goodbye, walking hand in hand with Jungkook back to the car.

It all seems like a dream, even by the time they’re on the on the plane to their honeymoon. Jimin swears he’ll wake up any second now. Swears it until he feels Jungkook’s hand on his thigh, leaning from the next seat over to rest his head on Jimin’s shoulder and stare out the window.

The hand on his leg shifts and Jungkook gives him a light pinch. “You’re not dreaming, Jimin. I promise.”

Jimin smiles at how well Jungkook knows him, always seeming to read his mind in these moments when he goes silent, lost in thought. As his husband—his husband—smiles at him, Jimin laces their fingers together and looks out the window.

“Feels like a dream,” Jimin says, earning a gentle squeeze from Jungkook.

“And it always can if we want it to.” Jungkook plants a kiss on his jaw, then cuddles against his shoulder again, a smile on his face as his eyes slip closed.

It takes Jungkook only a few moments to drift off, but Jimin stays wide awake, looking from the view of the sky outside to Jungkook, then back again. He lets his head loll over to rest atop Jungkook’s, their fingers still laced together.

Part of him wonders where they would be had Jungkook not been accepted Yoongi’s request to be his wedding photographer, and even farther back than that Jimin wonders what would have happened had he and Minhee not hired Jeon Junghwa.

It’s something he’s questioned a lot since they met again, but he doesn’t let himself dwell on it. Because he did accept Yoongi’s request. They did hire Jeon Junghwa. They did meet and fall in love and struggle and break apart but they found each other again.

And now, ten years later, they’ve finally promised to spend the rest of their lives together, and that is something he will never question.