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One-Two Punch

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Jungkook takes a punch like a Russian bear on PCP- no, really. He doesn’t seem that intimidating when he’s getting into the ring. He’s not as bulky as most of the guys he fights. He’s probably 5’ 10’’ on his best days, and maybe approaching 160 lbs, if he’s really been pushing the protein. But then his opponent will laugh, and take a swing at his face, and Jungkook will just… let the punch connect, and laugh right back, and fling the other guy down on the mat like it’s nothing. It’s part of what drew Yoongi to him in the first place. Hoseok had invited him down, said- come look at this new guy, he just walked in off the street and asked me if he could train here, and how much it would cost. He’s kinda skinny, and kinda shy, but you should really see this kid take a hit.

So Yoongi had come down to Hoseok’s gym, settled into a corner with his hood up so that no one might recognize him, chewing his way through a pack of spearmint gum and waiting for Hoseok to signal that this was it, this was the guy . There were quite a few people Yoongi had fought, once, before his injury about six months prior. He hasn’t faced any of them again- he hasn’t faced anyone at all. It’s nostalgic to sit there, in the sweat and weird smell the mats give off, and the overwhelming aura of Old Spice from the locker room. It’s even more nostalgic with he sees Hoseok wave at him, and there’s this kid climbing in the ring that Yoongi’s never seen before. He’d almost worry, looking at him square up against a guy who’s 220, easily. But Hoseok had promised. Wait til you see this guy . His opponent barely waited for Hoseok to blow the whistle before he went straight for the kid’s jaw, and the kid stumbled back and grinned, wide and eerie. He came back with a right hook, a left jab, a leg sweep, and suddenly the bigger guy was on the floor groaning.

That was the moment Hoseok had been waiting for. That was the thing that he knew would pique Yoongi’s interest. The ease with which the kid had breathed through the pain, shaken it off, and slammed back harder than a bulldozer. They had to help his opponent out of the ring, and Hoseok clapped the kid’s shoulder and pointed him towards Yoongi’s bench, waving him away from the mat. As he got closer, Yoongi could tell what else about this kid had made Hoseok take notice. He could have been a model- and here he was, putting that pretty face in the line of fire every day. His nose was upsettingly elegant, and his eyes were big, and dark, and expressive. His opponents probably cut themselves on that jawline alone- he was sharp, all over.

“Hello,” he said, quiet underneath the general chatter and yelling that always echoed around Hoseok’s gym. “Hoseok said I should come introduce myself to you, he said you were a friend of his? I’m Jeon Jungkook.” Yoongi shoved his hood back, brushing his hair from his eyes, and held out a hand.

“Min Yoongi,” he said. “Have you been here long?” Jungkook looked down at him with wide eyes for a second, before stuttering-

“Wait, I’ve seen you before- didn’t you used to fight here too?”

“A little,” Yoongi shrugged, like he didn’t have twelve various titles hanging off his shelves at home next to his makeshift music studio. “But not since Hoseok says you started.”

“Well, yeah,” Jungkook laughs, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly. “Because I heard you went into retirement, so I figured I might have a chance at winning, now.” Hoseok is heading over to them, and Yoongi watches him come with a growing sense of apprehension. He’s pretty certain, now, why Hoseok has introduced the two of them.

“Getting along, boys?” Hoseok says cheerfully, clapping his hands down on Jungkook’s quite frankly ridiculous arms, and hooking his chin over Jungkook’s shoulder.

“I’m older than you,” Yoongi scowls at him, but that won’t deter the ever-sunny troublemaker. “Have some respect, Jung Hoseok. I know what game you’re playing.” He doesn’t really mean it in a mean way, though. Hoseok could probably stab him, and he’d forgive it.

“Do you?” Hoseok says, winking at him, but then he sighs, and lets go of Jungkook. “No, you probably do. Jungkookie, this is my old roommate I was telling you about, the one that’s a fighter like you.”

“An ex-fighter,” Yoongi corrects him. “I’m retired.”

“Yeah, at the ripe old age of 26,” Hoseok rolls his eyes, but he knows damn well why Yoongi left the ring. It was good money, but- it wasn’t worth it. Not after that last match. “Anyway, Jungkook needs a trainer, and I don’t have the time, what with running this place. I happen to know you’re just freelancing right now, and Jungkook is finishing up his studio projects, so he’s free in the afternoons. You could work your schedules around each other, and I think he’d really benefit from your expertise, Yoongi-ah.”

“He seems like he’s doing fine,” Yoongi says stubbornly, crossing his arms. He doesn’t like being manipulated into things.

“I, um,” Jungkook says, raising his hand shyly like he’s still in class. “I mean, if you have the time. I could pay you to train me? I think it would be nice, to have someone else’s eye for a little while.” God, he’s so fucking cute- Hoseok knows damn well he’s weak for cute boys. Yoongi sighs. He can see some of his past opponents coming over to talk to Hoseok, and he’d like to be well out of here by the time they might be able to talk to him as well.

“I don’t charge money,” Yoongi says, finally, standing up and pulling a scrap of paper out of his pocket, snagging the pen off Hoseok’s clipboard and writing down his cell number. “Just time. Text me when you have an idea of how much you’re willing to give up.” He hands the paper to Jungkook, and brushes past both of them, walking towards the back exit because he really doesn’t want to be seen, today.

“Thank you!” Jungkook calls after him. Yoongi doesn’t bother to wave.

Today hadn’t been the best day, pain-wise, but he’s trying. And he tried to make it here, for Hoseok, and this is what Hoseok had brought him. It’s true that Yoongi has a lot of free time. He can’t box, or fight, anymore, and most of his work is lucrative freelancing that he’ll knock out in a twenty four hour span. His main hobby had been training, but six months out in recovery, it’s not an option anymore. And he misses it. He hadn’t been back to the gym since then, so he’s almost surprised he made it today. The last time he’d been under those fluorescent lights, he was emptying the contents of his stomach, and Hoseok was dialing 911 at the same time as he was busy yelling at Yoongi’s opponent, issuing him a ban for life from HopeLand Gym. Lots of people had seen it. Lots of them could probably guess it was some kind of internal bleeding that had taken Yoongi out for good.

Even Jin, his recent ex, had come to see him in the hospital, because word had gotten around in the circuit that Min Yoongi had sustained a career ending injury.

He’d have been happy to forget it. To leave it all behind. Because he wasn’t coming back- and that was a promise Yoongi was determined to keep. The doctor had been very clear with him about it: another wrong punch, another dirty play, and Yoongi could lose not just his titles but also his life. For a while, he’d been bitter about the fact that he didn’t get to choose when he left the circuit. It was a title match, and the other guy had punched him after the bell had rung to call time- staggered up to his feet, and landed a hit in the spectacularly wrong part of Yoongi’s side, after he’d already turned away. The minute Yoongi felt his knuckles collide with the soft part of his back, right where his rib cage ended, he knew something vital had been hit. The quickly following nausea and vomiting only cemented that.

“You’re lucky he didn’t completely sever it,” Dr. Park had said, looking at Yoongi’s chart with a furrowed brow. “You’ve sustained a pretty severe kidney rupture, Mr. Min, and you’re going to be suffering the effects of it for at least six months, a year. More than likely, for years to come.”

Yoongi had been pissing blood for twelve weeks after that match.

So maybe he was still a little bitter, because he had to carefully watch his salt intake, and take steroidal anti-inflammatories, and his kidney fucking ached sometimes so badly he couldn’t sleep. He went to get blood tests twice a month. He ate a diet with specific amounts of potassium. He checked his blood sugar occasionally, because diabetes would be a possibly fatal complication with only one fully functional kidney. Sometimes, he had to pee into a jug for forty eight hours and deliver it to a lab, like some sort of mutant test subject. But Hoseok had called him up, and he had come anyway, even though he was living with a sour reminder of that final punch every day.

“You’re lucky you won’t need dialysis, at least not with your current prognosis,” his new best friend, a nephrologist from his hospital, had told him. You’re lucky, you’re lucky, you’re lucky. Yoongi didn’t feel very lucky.  Most days, he didn’t feel like he even particularly wanted to leave the house- which, since Hoseok had moved out a year ago, was an empty reminder that there just wasn’t a lot going on in Yoongi’s life anymore. No boxing, no Hoseok singing into a makeshift microphone of a hair dryer at three AM, no more mid morning pizza runs. No more Jin. Perhaps, though he was loathe to admit it, Hoseok was right. Maybe he really did need someone else in his days, taking up his time. And he had the expertise to train someone, and train them well.

Yoongi makes a mental promise to himself that he won’t just block the kid’s number when he gets up the guts to text.

---

Hoseok is fucking determined to amp him up, and Jungkook’s not sure why this is the one time it isn’t working. He’s usually receptive to the older man’s praise, and encouragement. But this is different. For one, he wasn’t expecting Yoongi to be so- so. Enchanting. God, he’s such a useless bisexual sometimes, pining over a guy he’s met up front once. It’s true, though. It’s hard to ignore how absolutely moon-faced he’s feeling about it. Yoongi has this beautiful smooth skin, and his eyes are like… drownable. Drowning in them. Deep. Deep eyes. He’s losing his ability to speak coherently thinking about them, but suffice it to say that Jungkook could literally maroon himself in the depths of Yoongi’s eyes, and then quite happily starve to death there. And he knows that Yoongi can move gracefully, because his figure is so tiny for a boxer but it makes him nimble, and quick. He’d watched Yoongi the first time he came to Hopeland, and that’s part of what made him eventually get up the nerve to ask Hoseok for time training there.

For another, Yoongi’s just straight up intimidating. Like his disappointment might genuinely bleed Jungkook dry. Like even his praise could feel sharp. He’s a good solid half a foot shorter than Jungkook, but that does little to help. Hoseok is trying to get him to train with a fucking legend, here, and that’s- well. It’s overwhelming. The fact that he’s holding a little piece of paper in his pocket with Min Yoongi’s number on it is absolutely totally overwhelming.

“Come on,” Hoseok says through a mouthful of rice. “Look, I promise you, Kookie. I lived with the guy for like three years. He’s only, like, twenty six, for fuck’s sake. He’s not even four years older than you. One time, I came home, and he’d pulled an all nighter and was passed out on his workstation using a literal cabbage as a pillow. He’s really not that bad, once you get close to him.”

“But what if he doesn’t want to be close to me?” Jungkook asks plaintively. “You didn’t tell me you were going to, like. Corner him and make it seem rude to refuse me.”

“Jungkook,” Hoseok says seriously, setting his bowl down on the cafe table. “Yoongi does not, and I mean does not , say yes to things he’s not willing to do. He’s never trained someone before, and he wouldn’t start now just because I made the patented Jung Hoseok Puppy Eyes™ at him. Trust me when I say that he’s doing this because he watched you fight, and he thinks you have potential.”

“Okay, okay,” Jungkook says, turning back to his lunch. “I’ll text him when I get home, and pull up my studio schedule for this semester, alright?”

“Perfect,” Hoseok looks so damned pleased with himself. “I promise, by graduation this June, you’re gonna be Yoongi’s perfect protege. He won’t know what hit him.”

“I’m not going to hit him!”

“Well, no, I wouldn’t advise that in reality, no, you’d lose. But figuratively. With your charisma.”

Having Hoseok as a hyung is truly a ride Jungkook had not been prepared for.

When he gets home, he sets Yoongi’s number down on the counter, and takes a deep breath. Okay. It’s a text. You can’t punch someone over text, just for asking when you’re free. But maybe- maybe Yoongi can? No. That’s not possible. He’s overreacting. No one is good enough at boxing to break the time-space continuum and all of physics. Besides, he’s the one who gave Jungkook his number in the first place. His schedule is pretty flexible this last semester, before graduation, and maybe Yoongi will be impressed by that too. Jungkook is so close to finishing his BFA, and he spends all his time between the studio

I have time - he writes, then stops.

I have time to. I have time to be.

I’m available to work with you after my studio time, which is in the morning from 9 until noon, every week day.

No, that sounds too… clumsy. Somehow stiff.

Hi Yoongi - oh no, god no.

Hi, this is Jeon Jungkook. My schedule for this semester has me in the lab from 9 until noon every day, but after that I’m yours.

That sounds like he’s giving his body to Yoongi.

Hi, this is Jeon Jungkook. My schedule for this semester has me in the lab from 9 until noon every weekday, but after that I’m available.

Better.

That’s the one he sends.

Then he throws his phone across the room into a pile of dirty clothes and buries his face in his pillow and refuses to think about it for at least an hour.

---

When Jungkook finally texts him, Yoongi is in the middle of a project, and he isn’t paying attention to his phone. He doesn’t, in fact, notice that Jungkook had texted him until five hours after the initial alert hits his screen. By the time he picks it up, the kid had already texted him three times.

Hi, this is Jeon Jungkook. My schedule for this semester has me in the lab from 9 until noon every weekday, but after that I’m available.

Do I have the right number?

Hoseok says I do, I’m really sorry if I’m bothering you.

Oh god, Hobi had been right. Jungkook really was just a marshmallow outside the ring.

It’s the right number. I’m sorry it took me so long- working on something. I can meet you from 2-4 in the afternoon, weekdays, at Hopeland.

Hopefully the kid hasn’t already panicked and thrown his phone away entirely.

Yoongi makes dinner and eats it alone, like he does every night, clicking away at his computer on some passion project or another that he’s slowly working through. One of these days he’ll actually put out his own mixtape, instead of just remastering other artist’s work for them. Maybe one of the songs will be about how much his kidney fucking aches today. Then he moves on to youtube, the best distraction the internet ever spit forth. Sometimes Yoongi wastes hours on it, distracting himself from the frankly absurd amount of free time he has. His phone buzzes once, then twice.

Ok great! I am so glad. O JO

I will meet you there tomorrow at 2.

And oh god, the guy uses emoticons. Emoticons that strangely look just like him. Why are its eyes so big? Why are they so much like Jungkook’s actual eyes? Holy shit, Hoseok always found the weird ones.

But he’s sitting in front of a computer eating soup alone, so he probably falls into that category.

---

Jungkook stresses over what he’s going to wear to meet Yoongi at the gym the whole time he’s painting during his studio hours the next morning. It’s like he’s getting ready to go on a date with the guy, or something. But he’s not, because Yoongi is an attractive guy like four years older than him and he’d never date a grungy artist who boxes in an underground ring to pay rent. The guy’s like, a legend around here. And Jungkook is an amateur who plans to stay pretty amateur, given that his dream is really more along the lines of painting big surreal portraits of people he sees on the street. He wants to be good, though. He wants to be good at everything he does- it is the curse of a younger sibling, because no matter what he does he won’t be first at home. But out here in the world, he can be first at something. First at boxing. First in art competitions, first in show. Jungkook can be first when it comes to training with Yoongi, he knows it. He just hopes he doesn’t blow it before Yoongi can see that too.

(In the end, Jungkook settles on a tank top and shorts, because really that’s all he had for workout clothes anyway, and he’s not sure why he agonized over it for so long.)

Hoseok meets him at the door to the gym, a familiar manic gleam in his eye. He has that hideous moss green tracksuit on again, rolled up sleeves and excitable hands clasping Jungkook’s shoulders. There aren’t many people in the gym today, and for that Jungkook is grateful. If he’s going to fuck up, or be humiliated by Yoongi’s immensely superior knowledge, at least no one will be witness to it. Besides Hoseok, who Jungkook is actually more scared of, because he knows Hoseok will bring it up later. Again and again.

“Excited much?” Yoongi says from behind Hoseok, and the older man grimaces comically.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since the first time I saw Jungkook get punched, Yoongi-ah,” he says, rolling his eyes and spinning to face the smaller man. Jungkook just sort of stands there uselessly, looking between the two of them.

“Yeah, okay,” Yoongi says, rolling his eyes right back, and motioning for Jungkook to follow him. “C’mon, kid. Let’s get started.”

He can throw a right punch, a left hook. He can dodge, and duck, and he’s quick on his feet. Yoongi throws the bag back at him a few times when he’s holding it for Jungkook, just to see how much weight it takes to throw him off guard. He can’t really find the limit. Jungkook can kick and jump and move in ways that Yoongi would have killed for, back when that mattered to him at all. And he does it all while remaining stunningly beautiful, cheerful and clearly a little nervous. It makes Yoongi jealous for a split second, before he gets ahold of himself and tells Jungkook, “One more time, go again.” at the bag. Duck this thing I’m throwing at you, try not to let me trip you, let me see how much you can lift, how many miles can you run.

By the end of their two hours, Jungkook has been looking increasingly nervous, and he stands in front of Yoongi with his hands clasped behind his back like a child looking for approval. It’s clear he really thinks that what Yoongi has seen today isn’t impressive enough to warrant Yoongi giving him a few hours a week, let alone what Yoongi really thinks- that this kid could probably actually go pro if he wanted to. From what Hoseok had said earlier, over lunch, he didn’t want to. Jungkook was a BFA at the local college, a senior with only a semester left to graduation. He boxed to pay rent, and he’d probably box a while after graduation, if only because starting out as an artist is hard financially. Hoseok says his work is good- says Jungkook likes to eat lamb kebabs, and Hoseok takes him out for them when he gets the chance because Jungkook can’t afford them regularly on his own. Even though Yoongi knows that Hoseok doesn’t like them much. Everything Hoseok says makes Yoongi just a little suspicious, because he can tell how absolutely soft Hoseok is for Jungkook, and Yoongi knows his own limits too. He’ll be soft for the kid before long, if today is any indication. There’s just something about that wide-eyed look Jungkook has, and how he stammers just a little when he suggests something to Yoongi, answers a question that he’s not entirely sure of. It’s sweet.

More than that, though, Jungkook is talented enough that Yoongi thinks he can actually help the kid do well.

“Meet me here tomorrow,” he says, reaching out to clap Jungkook on the shoulder, and the other man sags with relief.

“So I- I passed? I’m- you- it’s good enough?”Jungkook says. Yoongi wants to kill Hoseok in that moment, for not just telling Jungkook that it was a done deal already. He thought today was actually, like, an assessment.

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, stopping beside Jungkook, making his voice as reassuring as he can. “You’re more than good enough, Jungkook. Gonna be good to watch you rack those wins up, kid.” He’s not exactly cut out to be a coach, not really. Works alone in his studio, trained alone. But it’s obvious that Jungkook just needs someone to direct him a little, offer him a little reassurance. And Hoseok is probably correct. He needs something to do with his time. So he can give this a chance, because when you actually look at training, for Jungkook, it’s clearly just a matter of getting the guy to believe in himself.

Hell, perhaps Hoseok will turn out to be right. Maybe coaching Jungkook will help him finally reach that inner peace Hoseok’s always talking about.

--

When Jungkook gets home, he collapses on his bed, his ears ringing with Yoongi’s praise and Hoseok’s cheerful chatter, after Yoongi left the two of them behind in the gym this afternoon.

Holy shit.

Min Yoongi is going to train him.

And if Jungkook can get over the quickly building crush he has on the guy, it’s gonna be great.