It’s a bit of a strange routine.
In the entrance of his family’s apartment, Jimin zips himself up with his puffy, black winter coat, which does nothing for him but keep him pleasantly warm. He wraps a large maroon scarf around his neck and tucks his hands into matching mittens. Both the scarf and mittens were knitted together by his aunt and a little distressed from frequent wear.
Jimin shouts his goodbyes over his shoulder to his family as he leaves, making sure to lock the door behind him. The usual blast of cold smacks him in the face when he exits his apartment building, but he persists to where he usually locks up his bike. He only pauses his fiddling when he hears the door behind him squeak open again.
It’s a steady voice, slightly raspy from lack of use yet loud enough for Jimin to hear from a few feet away.
“Good morning,” Jimin replies back, turning his head to politely nod back. Jungkook, with his stylist navy peacoat and brown leather school bag in hand, bows his own head, looking over Jimin for a few short moments before he casually turns and continues on his way. Jimin focuses back to his bike and attempts to unlock the chain. He fails twice before it clicks free.
He finally gets on the bike and bikes with leisure, the route to school familiar and quick. He pedals by a walking Jungkook in no time, who watches Jimin as he rings his bell in their ritual second greeting.
Jimin wonders if he’s imagining the burning sensation drilling into his back while he swerves onto a different street.
Jeon Jungkook is the stereotypical wonder boy of the high school he and Jimin attend. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a boy who skipped two grades in elementary, but Jungkook shuts down all his nay-sayers with his persisting intellect and athletic prowess that has sporting clubs lusting after him.
Puberty, though, chose to hit Jungkook particularly hard right before high school too. There was some bitterness about Jungkook’s new found towering height and boyish-yet-manly good-looks only adding onto the arsenal of all things golden and perfect about him.
Jimin, on the other hand, is your classic flat character on the sidelines of this b-rated high school film. He’s got a rowdy bunch of family members, a small group of friends, slightly above average grades only because he studies his ass off, and he happily takes part in the go-home club.
Besides their little greetings in the mornings, Jungkook and Jimin don’t acknowledge each other much, never having a class together in the past. They don’t wave when they pass each other in the hallways or even nod when they accidentally catch each other’s gaze. Jimin isn’t even sure how they ended up the way they did, but he doesn’t mind it much. Harmless, really.
“Ohhh,” Taehyung coos from in front of Jimin, eyes wide on the window next to their desks, “looks like someone’s getting another confession,”
Jimin sighs, his whole chest heaving with the exertion, “do you want to copy my homework in time or not?” Taehyung straightens up immediately with his guilty eyes darting between the papers on Jimin’s desk and the view beyond the window. His hand scribbles something, though Jimin isn’t sure the teacher reviewing it will be able to make sense of it. Jimin crosses his arms and leans back in his seat. Curiosity quickly gets the best of him too and slowly switches his gaze to witness the scene below.
Jungkook is looking awkward, cheeks flushed from the cold and maybe embarrassment. The girl facing him is standing strong though, pushing forward a wrapped lunchbox with her hands covered in cute pink mittens. Jungkook’s feet shuffle and the little puffs of air show he’s replying before his head drops down to a small bow. It stays down until the raised lunchbox is lowered and the girl brings it to her chest. There’s a small moment between them before the girl turns and speed-walks away.
“Yeah?” Jimin snaps his gaze back onto Taehyung. Taehyung raises a brow, looking between the window and Jimin pointedly.
“You guys still…you know?” Taehyung inquires while continuing to copy illegibly.
“Yeah,” Jimin mutters, crossing his arms a little tighter.
“Weirdos,” Taehyung murmurs back, not looking away from his paper this time. Jimin doesn’t have words to reply with because as much as he wants to deny, he knows it's true.
Jimin doesn’t bike to school for three reasons:
- When his bike is broken in some shape or form. Whenever this happens, it’s usually a quick fix. There’s a bike shop near the apartment that Jimin is on good terms with and they offer good student discounts.
- When he’s sick and therefore cannot possibly bike to school, never mind leave his bed.
- When Jack Frost gifts his city with freezing rain or flurries that causes the roads to be unsafe to drivers, cyclists, and sometimes even walkers alike.
The massive snow dump that Jimin woke up to causes him to mope around the apartment throughout the morning. His family rolls their eyes and tell him to get over it before loading his mug of coffee with an extra serving.
He bundles himself up with the new addition of bulky winter boots before he leaves his apartment building. He can’t help but stretch his neck in order to get a better view forward and behind him, trying to catch sight of a familiar figure but he ends up seeing no one. So, Jimin walks on because it’s really fucking cold and he doesn't want to be late.
He carefully eyes the sidewalks, which have yet to be plowed or salted. He breathes uncomfortably into his scarf, loathing the slow speed at which he’s cautiously walking. But he’s already slipped more than a few times and he’ll be damned if he—
“A-are you okay?” A voice shouts from behind the now fallen Jimin, with one wobbly ice boulder being the reason for his downfall.
Jimin hears the crunching of snow as the person approaches. He squints his eyes as a head blocks the sun, creating a halo around them—Jungkook—as Jimin focuses.
“Just dandy,” Jimin replies, breathless as he struggles to get out of the Jimin-shaped snow hole he unintentionally made for himself.
A bare hand reaches forward and grasps at one of Jimin’s flailing arms, “here, lemme—” and then Jimin’s back upright in no time.
“Than—” Jimin tries to says but startles when Jungkook begins smacking down his back and it takes a minute before he realizes Jungkook is clearing the clinging snow away, “Thanks for uh, helping me up and um, you don’t have to that?”
Jungkook freezes immediately and quickly lifts his hand away before tucking them into his coat’s pockets.
“You look cold,” Jungkook says back, eyes sliding to the side before looking back to Jimin, slightly embarrassed.
“I…look cold?” Jimin pointedly looks at Jungkook up and down, from his hat-less head to his converse shoes, “you realize you’re not even wearing gloves, right?”
“I run hot?” Jungkook mumbles, ducking his head down. Jimin snorts right back and a cold breeze suddenly hits them.
“Oh, come on,” Jimin moans to himself while shuddering, eyes watering from the wind and squints to Jungkook who is ducking his own face further into his coat, though the coat that doesn’t even have much of a high collar to hide behind, “dude, let’s get going before we become ice cubes,”
The two of them continue side by side down the sidewalk, carefully taking their steps as they go. There’s a silence between them, but Jimin can’t be bothered to think of any small talk because it’s too damn cold and windy to have a proper conversation anyways.
They eventually reach the school and after a few steps past the gates, they both stop. They hesitate and finally, Jimin lifts a mitten-covered hand up and mutters, “stay warm.” Jimin gets a red and rather cold looking hand-wave back before he turns and walks off to class, not sparing Jungkook a glance from there.
“Hey auntie,” Jimin cuts off one of his parent’s many bickering matches, “have you knitted any new mittens lately?” His aunt sitting across from him looks up from her dinner, as does everyone else at the dinner table.
“Don’t tell me you’ve ruined your pair already, I just—” his aunt coos as if Jimin is a five year old child rather than the manly high school student he is.
“No, no,” Jimin takes another bite of the beef stew, “it’s for a friend.”
“How is Taehyung doing anyways?” his mother pipes in with a good-natured smile.
“Fine,” Jimin scrunches his brow, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, “his little brothers keep him occupied enough, but ah, do you have a spare pair, auntie?”
“Sure I do,” his aunt nods her head, “I always have some in my bag, but didn’t you give a blue pair to Taehyung for Christmas a few weeks back?”
“Different friend,” Jimin murmurs.
And this is why he didn’t like bringing anything up at the dinner table, because his mother, father, brother, aunt, and uncle all drop their utensils with the clangs echoing in the room.
“Oh, Jimin,” his mother gasps, bringing a totally unnecessary hand to her heart “you’ve made a new—”
“It’s just a neighbour’s son!” Jimin raises a halting hand up before his family went into a full blown celebration mode. They’re a lot to handle, for Jimin and anyone who meets them. In all honesty, Jimin is a bit of a black sheep with his disinterest in socializing outside his comfortable group of friends. He believes it’s because someone has to be the sane one in the family.
“Wait,” his brother’s eyes widen, “You mean Jungkook, don’t you! Mom, mom,” his brother flashes a bright grin to his mother and here we go, “you know him, the boy from #412, the one who helped you with the garbage last week,”
“Ooh!” His mother startles with the realization, “what a nice boy he was! The tall, silent type for sure; I would have given him more than that lollipop if I knew he was your friend, Jimin!”
Jimin sighs deeply and clatters his own utensils into his emptied bowl, “hey now, I didn’t say it was Jungkook,” there’s a silence, all eyes stare at him for a few seconds before he cracks, “okay, so it is Jungkook, but the point of the matter is—”
“You should invite him over for dinner sometime, right honey?” His mother elbows his father, eager and smiling as his father chokes on the stew he was slurping.
“Uh, yes, nice boy,” his father manages to cough out, side-glaring his mother as he wipes his mouth with a napkin.
Oh no, Jimin should have known this would happen. Jimin sighs something loud and maybe, sort of whines, “can I not? I mean, I barely know him anyways,” he goes to rise from his seat with his dirty dishes in hand but a smaller hand grabs onto the bottom of his sweater and stops him.
“B-but…” his brother stutters before the words drop down to a whisper, “Jungkook…he’s the star basketball player at your school, right?” Oh no, Jimin thinks as his brother’s eyes get round and dewy, “do you think he’d give me some tips if I ask?”
Jimin stares his brother down, whose bottom lip trembles just right and Jimin is a fucking sucker for his little brother’s sad, puppy dog faces.
“Fine!” Jimin belts out, shocking his family and himself with his volume, “fine, I’ll ask but no promises that he’ll accept, so don’t get any of your hopes up,”
He totally ignores the high-five his mother gives his brother from across the table.
Jimin’s plan was to leave the mittens, made from a soft but thick grey yarn, in a bag hanging off Jungkook’s apartment door, but that plan got washed down the drain thanks to his nosey family.
So instead, he finds himself standing by the apartment building’s back exit, waiting for Jungkook to leave and head to school as he usually does. Jimin is praying that he didn’t leave earlier than usual because he doesn’t think he can gather enough nerves to wait around for another day.
Jimin eyes the street outside through the window in the door. The view is almost blindingly white from all the snow. The sidewalks are a little bit clearer, but not enough that he won’t be slipping and sliding on his bike.
Jimin hears approaching steps from behind him and turns around just in time to see Jungkook’s confused face.
“Yo,” Jimin beats Jungkook to the punch with the addition of another awkward hand raised in greeting.
“Morning?” Jungkook raises a brow, “were you…waiting…?” The unsaid for me doesn’t get past Jimin and Jimin gets inexplicably hot from it.
“Yeah, about that,” Jimin mumbles, shuffling a hand around in his coat pocket, “ah, wrong pocket,” he says under his breath when he pulls out his own mittens and scavenges into the other pocket. He finally produces the pair of grey mittens and lifts it to Jungkook, “here, for you,”
“Um,” Jungkook freezes, eyes narrowed and even more confused, “for…me?” Jimin nods once, jaw clenched due to the sheer awkwardness wrapping around them. He shakes his lifted hand once more, and finally Jungkook snaps out of whatever trance he was in and takes the mittens, “thanks,” is murmured into the air as Jungkook rubs his thumb over the mittens, not looking up from them.
“I-I know you said you run hot, but my aunt likes to make them in her spare time,” Jimin is then quick to add, “it’s either you or some orphan, I mean, not that they don’t deserve them, but like, you don’t seem to have—” Jimin freezes, snapping his damn lips shut, thank goodness, as Jungkook slips the pair on.
“They’re…nice,” Jungkook flips his hands over, admiring them, and Jimin swears the shy smile on Jungkook’s face was worth it, whatever it was, “thank your aunt for me?”
“Sure,” Jimin nods and looks to his booted feet and remembers, oh hey, they both have somewhere to be right now, “s-shall we go?” And Jungkook thankfully agrees with a nod and opens the door for Jimin.
They’re walking side by side again, the weather a little warmer from the day before and less windy. Now, Jimin could just leave things as they were. He gave the mittens like his conscience wanted, and he could totally make up some story about Jungkook being too busy for a random dinner with his neighbours.
He then remembers exactly who makes up his family and decides it’s better to ask Jungkook himself then his mother or aunt bombarding Jungkook on another garbage disposal run.
“What…are you doing after school today?” Jimin prods carefully, trying not to be too familiar, lest he possibly scares the guy away.
“Um, what?” Jungkook replies, stumbling only minimally from his surprise.
“After school…” Jimin tries again, cheeks flushing but he’s blaming the cold, “what are your plans today?”
Jungkook looks around, as if Jimin had asked someone else the question, which is funny because there is no else around and if Jungkook would just answer the question and let Jimin out of his embarrassed misery.
“I have practice?” Jungkook asks more than states, “I’m, um, I play for the school’s basketball team,”
“I know,” Jimin finds himself saying, which wow, not necessary but moving on, “I mean, my brother plays for his middle school too, so I’ve been dragged to a few of your games for, and I quote, ‘educational purposes’.”
Jungkook smiles at that, nose slightly scrunching up before it naturally relaxes, “dragged, huh? Not a fan of basketball?”
“No, I mean, that’s not what I meant,” Jimin rushes to reply, realizing his mistake, mouth gaping as different excuses want to burst, “I like watching basketball, and you’re a good player, I just—stop laughing!”
“I think I’ll stop you digging your grave any deeper from here,” Jungkook says between his snickers, making Jimin remember the guy’s is two years younger than him and is…kind of cute.
Jimin huffs from there and then realizes they’re about a few steps away from the school gates and he still hasn’t completed the task he set for himself. A voice from ahead calls out to Jungkook, cutting his laughter short and he waves back to the guy standing from afar. Jungkook then turns to Jimin, eyes shifting to the side and the awkwardness from before seeps in again.
“Um, thanks for these,” Jungkook raises his mitten-covered hands, “they’re warm,” Jimin murmurs a polite reply back as he searches across Jungkook’s face. His cheeks, ears, and nose are pink, mostly from the cold, and his neck is bare as well. Jimin thinks Jungkook had said his goodbyes or something but when he goes to turn around, Jimin reaches out and pinches onto one of Jungkook’s coat sleeve.
“Come over for dinner,” Jimin says, but it probably sounded more like cmverordnr at the speed which he pitched it. Jungkook looks bewildered, which would be appropriate.
“Come.over.for.dinner,” Jimin forces himself to pause between each word, eyes closing for a moment, “today, if you don’t have plans, that is,” he opens his eyes back up, and Jungkook hasn’t moved an inch, which doesn’t do much for Jimin’s nerves. He’s hoping Jungkook might come up with some excuse to bail, an excuse Jimin can feed to his family time and time again if they inquire but instead Jungkook says,
“You mean, at your place?” Jungkook’s eyebrows knit together, forever fucking confused, “today?”
“Yes, my place, today, probably around 6:30?” Jimin supplies, tucking his face further into his large maroon scarf in hopes it’ll hide how frustrated he is.
“Okay,” Jungkook finally says after a few moments, and Jimin swears his entire spine goes ramrod straight at the response, “should I bring something or just…knock?”
Jimin stares a bit longer than usual before he snaps out of it thanks to Jungkook’s friend yelling for Jungkook’s attention once more. Jungkook on the other hand chooses to ignore his friend in favour of looking Jimin down with a gaze so innocent that Jimin might melt into his boots.
“Knocking is fine,” Jimin manages to say and decides that yup, it’s high time to make his escape, “so, I’ll see you later?” And before Jungkook can reply, Jimin speed-walks outta there.
Like clockwork, Jimin replaces his boots with his indoors shoes and shuffles his way to class. He hangs his coat and accessories up on his hook, before making it to his desk. Once firmly seated, he promptly face-plants onto the top of the desk.
“Uh,” Taehyung says from in front of him, “should I ask?”
“I invited Jungkook over for dinner,” was Jimin’s muffled reply.
“You did what now?” Taehyung’s chair scratches loudly against the classroom’s floor in his surprise.
“Jungkook, dinner, with my family,” Jimin groans, banging his forehead against the edge of his desk.
“Oh shit,” Taehyung whispers under his breath, like the supportive friend he is, before continuing,“I imagine he said yes,”
“Even asked if he should bring anything,” Jimin finally straightens up and runs his fingers through his hair.
“Like, maybe his strongest set of balls if he wants to survive his first meal at your place,” Taehyung then performs the sign of the cross like the idiot that he is, and Jimin kicks the bottom of his chair in response.
“My family is a delight,” Jimin hisses while crossing his arms. Taehyung eyes Jimin critically so he adds, “once you get to know them?”
“My brothers run in the other direction when they see your aunt,” Taehyung deadpans, leaning against the wall next to their seats.
“Well, sorry my aunt wasn’t able to have kids of her own and that your brothers happen to have the chubbiest cheeks she can pinch since I hit puberty,”
“They run screaming, Jimin,”
Taehyung cracks from there and starts to snicker, he eyes Jimin a little before the question Jimin’s been waiting for hits, “so, why did you invite Jungkook to dinner anyways?”
“My family asked,” Jimin quickly replies, since it’s the bare minimum of the truth and it should be enough.
“And why did they ask?”
So much for that.
“I may have asked my aunt for mittens…” Jimin suddenly becomes very interested in his fingernails and picks at them.
“Mittens…for Jungkook, I’m guessing,”
Jimin sighs deeply and scowls, pointing a finger at Taehyung’s now squirming brows, “listen you, no man should go mitten-less in this weather, and I just happened to notice that he had none. When I innocently brought it up to my family, they did what they do best and here we are."
The teacher finally decides to enter the class from there, but Jimin knows with the way Taehyung looks at him that the conversation was far from over.
Luckily, Jimin does survive the day without an inquisition from Taehyung and his other friends. He walks back home, does some homework, and helps with dinner. The clock nears 6:30 and Jimin starts to get antsy.
“Oh, he’s early,” his uncle quips after a series of knocks echoes in the apartment. Everyone stands, but Jimin makes sure he’s that much quicker and races across the living room to the entrance hallway.
“I got it, I got it,” Jimin says as he walks over, hand up and warning as his mother creeps closer, “everyone, behave!” he’s sure to firmly remind. His family murmurs their protests, but Jimin blocks them out. He’s face to face with the door while taking a few calming breaths in and out before he finally opens the door.
Jungkook opted to change out of his school uniform, a first for Jimin to witness. He’s wearing a simple black jeans and white t-shirt combo that's softened with a large, comfy, grey cardigan. Frightfully bland for most, but Jungkook pulls it off effortlessly.
“Good evening,” Jungkook says, and then lifts a plastic bag, “I know you said not to bring anything, but uh, I got this anyway.”
Oh boy, his family is sure going to sink their teeth into this one. So, Jimin promptly lets himself out of the apartment and closes the door behind him, leaving Jungkook and him in the hallway.
“I mean, I can take it back to my apartment if it’s too much,” Jungkook starts to say, looking puzzled as he always seems to be around Jimin but freezes when Jimin gently takes the bag from him.
“No, it’s fine,” Jimin whispers lowly, opening the bag to see a pretty fruit topped cake, “I just, I thought it’d be fair to warn you before you come in,”
Jungkook straightens up immediately, eyes darting to the door behind Jimin and then back onto Jimin seriously, “all right,” he nods a few times, “warn me about what?” It’s such an honest inquiry, one that has Jimin regretting everything.
“My family, they’re a little…much, but they mean well?” He continues whispering. Jungkook licks his lips while his eyebrows come together, the words obviously rolling around in his mind before he replies back in a matching whisper,
“Okay?” His body visibly relaxing now, “is that all or?”
“Uh yeah,” Jimin says, fully realizing how ridiculous the situation is. In his defence, he or his brother haven’t introduced anyone new to the family in a while and he thinks they’re probably going to be a bit cagey, “if you ever get uncomfortable just…signal me or something so I can come up with an excuse for you to leave,”
Jungkook’s eyes widen at that and is quick to shake his hands in protest, “n-no no, I’m sure you won’t have to do that,”
“Offer still stands,” Jimin mumbles and then puts his hand on the doorknob while handing the bag back to Jungkook. Jimin eyes Jungkook and with Jungkook’s answering nod, Jimin opens the door. They enter the entrance way without any interruptions, Jungkook thanks Jimin for the guest slipper he offers, which are a bright lime green and extraordinarily funny-looking against the rest of Jungkook’s monochrome look. From there, Jimin leads the way with Jungkook silently following behind him. He takes in the living room across the entrance and strangely finds not one of his family members. He slows his pace right when they enter the living room and turns to the left where the kitchen table sits.
“Oh hello!” his mother choruses as soon as Jimin turns his head in her direction, “you must be Jungkook, the boy from #412, correct?” She smiles on cheerfully, standing from the table while adorning an apron that Jimin knows she didn't have on before he got the door.
“Yes mam,” Jungkook smiles politely back, “thanks for having me over, I um, brought cake.” And he lifts the bag with the cake. Jimin’s uncle’s head suddenly whips up and zeros in on the bag. With a hand already stretched out, he stands up from his seat and takes the few steps towards Jungkook. The looks Jungkook sends Jimin’s way are for definite aid and Jimin quickly mouths ‘the bag’. So, Jungkook quickly hands the bag over and his uncle inspects its contents with narrowed eyes.
Jimin tries hard not to laugh when Jungkook immediately relaxes after his uncle sprouts the biggest smile and claps Jungkook on the shoulder with “Good man!” leaving his mouth. His uncle then turns to the table and says, “it’s a fruit cake!” Jimin’s father and brother cheer while they high-five each other and Jimin’s uncle as he approaches the kitchen table again
“How sweet,” his aunt coos sweetly from her seat, “thank you for bringing that sweetie, everyone will enjoy a small,” and his aunt elbows his uncle sharply, “piece of it,”
“N-no problem,” Jungkook chokes out, and Jimin thinks he hears slight amusement in-between it.
“Sit, sit,” Jimin’s mother motions, “we made room beside Jimin’s seat for you,”
Which is almost a lie because the table is small enough for six people, therefore barely manageable with Jungkook being the seventh. So, they’re basically shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh when they finally get seated. His parents make sure to serve Jungkook first, offering a juicy chicken leg from their chicken stew and adding a generous serving of rice into his bowl. Jungkook is looking pretty at ease, though maybe a little more cautious about minding his manners.
Jimin feels a pinch from his side after the first few bites, and looks over to his brother next to him. His brother widens his eyes, purposely looking to Jungkook and back to him. Jimin reaches forward and sips his water with a raised brow. His brother pinches his thigh again but harder, “ow!” Jimin chokes into his water before glaring at his brother.
“Right, so,” Jimin coughs a little, leaning back in his seat so his brother is more visible to Jungkook, “this is my brother, Jihyun, he’s in middle school,”
Jungkook nods his head in greeting before looking between Jimin and Jihyun, “the one you said played basketball, right?”
Jihyun’s jaw drops in shock, and elbows Jimin sharply in the middle of another bite, the little brat, “yup, one and the same,” Jimin smiles but elbows his brother back.
“What position do you play?” Jungkook asks, watching as Jimin’s aunt offers yet another piece of her special, ultra-secret, homemade kimchi into his bowl.
Jihyun freezes, though his stare remains strong on Jungkook so, before Jimin gets another elbow to his now bruising ribs, he says, “he plays—”
“Point guard!” His brother belts out over Jimin, causing at least half of the occupants at the table to jump.
Jungkook wasn’t one of them however and just smiles towards Jihyun’s enthusiasm, “that’s a pretty important position,”
“Right?” His brother drawls, his hand suddenly waving to his parents pointedly, “that’s what I tell them!”
“Shooting guards can’t shoot without a good point guard,” Jungkook quotes to the table, smirking good-naturedly with Jihyun.
“That’s the position he plays,” his brother stage-whispers right after, which has his family chorusing their understanding, “and he’s reall—”
“Honey,” his father pipes up, eyebrow furrowed as he looks around the kitchen, “what’s that smell?”
“What smel—” his mother smiles to her husband before it melts off and she springs from her chair with a loud and shrill, “OH HEAVENS!” echoing in the apartment.
The explosive successfully had Jimin and everyone jumped about ten feet in their chairs. His mother whines about something that sounds like brownies as she scrambles out of her chair. She races to the oven and pulls it open, allowing a small poof of smoke to exit it.
“I completely forgot!” She wails as she pulls the blackened baking dish out, she looks over to the table, eyes dewy from her anguish, “oh, what to do?” She bellows, voice getting clogged with emotion.
Jimin twitches a little when he feels a tightening grip on his thigh. He looks down and sees that Jungkook’s hand is gripping there. His mother lets out another wail as she waves an oven mitt to air out the smoke coming from the charred brownies. The hand on his thigh tightens just a bit more, though Jungkook is completely focused on his mother in the opposite direction.
Jimin’s father rises from his seat as he tries to calm his wife down. Jimin stares at the hand clawing his knee with curiosity when it suddenly hits him. The signal. His mother’s hysterics must have crossed a line.
“A-ah!” Jimin blurts out, catching everyone’s attention, “ahhHhh, Jungkook! You, uh--” Jungkook looks perplexed as Jimin’s mouth opens and closes for a few moments. So, Jimin deliberately looks to the hand on his thigh and gives Jungkook a small wink. Jungkook follows the gaze and his hand pulls back as if stung, “t-the fever! You said you had one earlier, ahaha,” Jimin awkwardly laughs for no apparent reason and smacks his hand against Jungkook’s forehead, “woowee, you’re burning up! Better get you home to rest up,” Jungkook’s eyes mimic one of a trapped deer and Jimin can see a small shake of his head.
“I’m fine!” Jungkook says rather quickly, taking Jimin’s hand away from his forehead before looking around at Jimin’s family with a small and awkward smile, “really, I’m okay,” this, he directs at Jimin with raised brows but Jimin isn’t having any of that.
“You’re just saying that to be polite,” Jimin tuts accordingly, and sits up in his chair, pushing it back as he rises, “don’t worry, you’ve stayed long enough,”and he pulls Jungkook’s arm to go along with him.
“No, I’m really—”
“Poor boy,” his aunt says with brows knitted with concern, “do make sure he makes it to his door all right, Jimin.”
Jimin is dragging Jungkook away from the table as he answers back with an agreement. When they’re in the safety of the hallway of Jimin’s apartment entrance, Jimin lets out of long sigh and leans against a wall.
Jungkook stands there in his bright green slippers, eyeing Jimin cautiously before saying, “did…you want me leave?”
“What?” Jimin replies, lifting his head off the wall and focusing on Jungkook more, “well, no, I mean, didn’t you want to leave?”
“I tried to tell you—”
“Wait,” Jimin raises a hand and peers over his shoulder suspiciously before turning his attention back to Jungkook and whispering, “let’s discuss this outside, my family’s not above eavesdropping,”
Jungkook hesitates, like he’s wanting to say something but he only lets out a sigh of his own and exchanges his slippers for his sneakers. They exit the apartment and slowly take steps down the hall and towards Jungkook’s own apartment.
After a few seconds of silence, Jungkook clears his throat and says, “just to be clear, I—I wasn’t signalling you for an out or anything, I just, it’s a little complicated.” It kind of bugs Jimin, how Jungkook has had his head tucked in and doesn’t even spare Jimin a glance as he spoke. Jimin stops his walking and watches as Jungkook pauses a step ahead of him. Finally, Jungkook lifts his head and looks Jimin’s way.
“Um,” Jimin murmurs out, feeling a little out of depth now that Jungkook’s paying him some attention, “Sorry, I guess, for the misunderstanding?” which is a great start, but Jungkook tucks his head again, and what the heck, that’s not…okay, so Jimin continues, “I mean, I won’t ask since you seem, kind of—" why is this so hard? “—but you can, um, uncomplicate things if you want. You might have noticed but I come from a family of talkers…so I think I’ve become a pretty good listener over time,”
Jimin is rewarded with a snort of quick laughter from Jungkook who cracks the smallest smile before it naturally fades. They continue standing in the hall, though thankfully not awkward because Jimin can see Jungkook contemplating and he will be more than patient for Jungkook’s reply. So, Jungkook sighs and scratches the back of his neck, looking smaller and more unsure by the minute.
So, Jimin tries to throw Jungkook a lifeline,“you really don’t have—“
“I just, don’t want to bore you with…stuff,” Jungkook says softly, “I mean, you invited me to dinner and I had a good time, so I don’t want to…ruin it any furth—”
“You won’t bore me,” Jimin is quick to refute, making sure his words are firm, “you haven’t ruined anything,”
Jungkook freezes just a little, eyes stuck on Jimin who may have grown a little red at the prolonged stare. Jungkook then does look away and straightens up.
“So,” Jungkook starts and then takes a deep breathe in and out before looking to Jimin again, “uh, my father, he died in a house fire when I was very young. I mean, I don’t remember much, but sometimes, I get flashes. When your mom pulled out the brownies, everything kind of blanked?”
Oh. Oh no. Jimin wasn’t expecting that. He’s never even heard a whisper of anything regarding Jungkook’s family situation, making him wonder how many people actually knew about Jungkook’s father.
Jimin can’t dwell on that pondering for too long because Jungkook is looking at him expectantly. He’s unsure how to proceed, not wanting to sound like he’s pitying him, nor offering the usual condolences so he says, “Well, my mother’s baking skills leave a little to be desired anyways, especially her muffins, so avoid those in the future if you can,”
Jungkook coughs out a laugh, obviously not expecting Jimin’s sort of reply. A smile is peeking and brightening the dim hallway just a bit more and Jimin feels a weight being lifted off his chest. Jungkook continues smiling as he makes eye contact with Jimin again, “duly noted,”
Jimin can’t help but smile back, and they naturally continuing walking past two more doors until Jungkook’s apartment.
“This is me,” Jungkook murmurs, his face open with a side smile, “thanks for walking me back,”
Jimin shrugs nonchalantly, exaggeratedly acting cool and slick, “eh, what’s a little walking? Wouldn’t want you to get lost after all,”
“Yes,” Jungkook rolls his eyes good-naturedly, “four doorways down can be a harrowing trek.”
They snicker a little bit more before silence surrounds them. Jungkook pulls his keys from his back pocket and they jangle in his hands, “thanks for inviting me for dinner,”
Jimin nods, feeling a twinge of guilt because it wasn’t like it was his idea in the first place. He’s glad though, that it happened. It was nice. Jungkook then notches the key into the lock and twists it. Jimin nibbles his bottom lip a little as he watches and finally decides to say what he wants, “hey Jungkook?” he whispers, and Jungkook looks over easily, “thanks for telling me,”
Jungkook flashes one more soft smile and replies, “thanks for listening,” and then he disappears behind the door with a small click.
The next morning, Jimin wants to say that he wasn’t surprised by Jungkook standing next to their apartment building’s back door, but he definitely was. As Jimin approaches, Jungkook looks over his shoulder and easily smiles to Jimin.
“Morning,” he says, just as casually.
“Morning,” Jimin automatically replies, finding himself returning the small grin.
Jungkook opens the door then and holds it open for Jimin. So, Jimin walks through it with a nod showing his thanks. The cold winter air stings Jimin’s cheeks and causes him to dip his chin further into his scarf. He eyes Jungkook as he puts on his new mittens taken from his peacoat pocket. His neck is still bare and Jimin internally winces in Jungkook’s place.
“You should have gotten a coat with a hood at least,” Jimin mumbles as they walk forward, snow crunching under their feet as they continue. Jungkook raises a brow and looks down at his coat.
“Do you have something against my coat?” Jungkook teases, “I’ve been told it looks stylish,”
“Well, stylish isn’t going to keep you warm when it’s below zero outside,” Jimin readily sasses back. Jungkook just chuckles, tucking his gloved hand into his pockets. They slow a little when they get to the bike rack where Jimin’s bike sits locked up. Jimin catches how Jungkook glances to it a little longer than normal and than turns his gaze back to Jimin. The roads haven’t exactly cleared up, though Jimin has biked in worse conditions. But, he keeps walking on and past the bike rack anyways.
“No bike today?” Jungkook inquires, easily falling in step beside him down a sidewalk.
“Roads could be better,” Jimin remarks softly, “nice day to walk anyways, especially with a new friend, don’t you think?”
There’s a beat of silence between them, with Jimin feeling Jungkook staring directly at his face. Then Jungkook faces ahead of them, “friends?”
“Yup,” Jimin nods, lifting his nose up with fake arrogance, “afraid you don’t have much say in the matter,”
“…was it the cake?”
Jimin bursts out in laughter, not expecting the minor jab and smiles Jungkook’s way, who is trying to hold back his own smile, “my family totally devastated it after you left, so no take-backs,”
“What happens if I bring more?” Jungkook asks, glancing back at Jimin with a smile finally peeking through.
Jimin exaggerates his pondering expression, humming in thought before replying, “Could be something like asking for my hand in marriage, you know my family reall—are you okay?” Jimin quickly cuts himself off as Jungkook inexplicably starting choking and coughing. Jimin stumbles as he starts patting Jungkook’s back heavily through his coughs.
“Fine,” Jungkook wheezes, “just fine, spit down the wrong pipe.”
“All…right,” Jimin is a little unconvinced as the red of Jungkook’s cheeks deepen from his struggles. A minute or two passes, allowing Jungkook enough time to catch his breath and for them to reach the school’s gates.
“Well, I guess I—”
“H-hey,” Jungkook cuts him off, “um, listen, there’s a home game in three days,” Jungkook doesn’t say anything past that, though his mouth opens and closes as if unsure of how to proceed.
Jimin tilts his head and with hopes he understands what Jungkook is implying, he tries, “Pretty sure my brother’s free to go,”
Jungkook’s offers a crooked and grateful smile at that, “all right, cool, I’ll see if I can get our point guard to…offer him some pointers or something, if he wants,”
Jimin laughs unexpectedly, his smile unable to resist beaming while imagining how his brother would react, “god, are you trying to steal my place as Jihyun’s favourite person?” Jungkook sputters at that, red increasing on his face which leads Jimin to shove at him a little in the shoulder and Jungkook finally laughs back. “Anyways, I’ll let him know tonight, see you around,” and Jimin takes a few steps back, waving his goodbyes as he backs up in the direction of his class.
He turns around and makes it a few meters when he hears his name. He stops and looks over his shoulder to see Jungkook running up to him again.
“Um, I just wanted to be sure, but,” Jungkook takes a deep breath in and out before continuing, “will you be there too? I mean, just your brother is fine or maybe his teammates can come along too?”
Jimin is feeling pretty bewildered, maybe now recognizing how earnest Jungkook is with everything he does, even when asking a simple question. So, Jimin can’t help the wave of fondness that washes over him and smiles softly, “yeah, of course I’m coming, though I can’t say the same about my brother’s teammates, he’s not one to share,”
There’s a few seconds that goes by, Jimin’s suddenly feeling awkward but Jungkook grins and leaves with a soft “cool,” on his lips.
Taehyung is unnervingly staring him down from across the lunch table. Their two other friends left to grab something to eat, not usually ones to pack their own lunches like Jimin and Taehyung do. Jimin at that moment kind of wished he made an excuse to go after them if he knew Taehyung would give him the stare of a thousand questions.
“Out with it,” Jimin mutters in defeat, “what do you want?”
Taehyung leans back on his bench, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow, “so, how did dinner with Jungkook go?”
“No beating around the bush eh?” Jimin forces a snicker, hoping the awkwardness he’s feeling doesn’t show.
“I’m not you,” Taehyung snips back, and takes a bite of his sandwich.
“Rude,” Jimin’s shoulders hunch forward as he murmurs. Taehyung rolls his eyes at that.
“Dinner? Jungkook?” Taehyung tries again, sipping his juice box oh-so-innocently.
“It was fine,” Jimin sighed, “he successfully endeared my family, even invited my brother to a game of his, and you know how he drags me to those things.”
Taehyung nods along, though his eyebrows squish together in thought. He nibbles on his sandwich as he looks into space and Jimin decides to focus on his own lunch too. He’s about three bites into his rice stir-fry when Taehyung straightens up and narrows his eyes onto something behind Jimin. Jimin watches Taehyung carefully before looking over his shoulder. A few tables down, his gaze meets with Jungkook’s for a brief second before Jungkook looks away. Jungkook eyes the people around him, his teammates if Jimin remembers correctly, before glancing over again. Instead, Jungkook’s eyes stare at something, and when Jimin follows that stare he finds Taehyung, crossing his arms again with sharp eyes locked onto Jungkook.
“Ouch!” Taehyung yelps when Jimin promptly reaches over the table and hits him in the chest. Taehyung pouts as he rubs his chest, looking betrayed.
“What are you doing?” Jimin hisses, turning his head back to Jungkook who looks uncertain. Jimin quickly smiles wide and waves awkward-like before turning back around to Taehyung, “seriously, what was that?”
“He was staring,” Taehyung shrugged nonchalantly, looking down at his fingernails, “thought I’d stare back.”
“Wait, why would he stare at you?” Jimin says after taking another bite of his stir fry.
“Not at me, you idiot,” Taehyung snorts just as the rest of their friends come back with their lunches in hand. Taehyung glances over to Jungkook one more time before adding, “hey, are you sure it was your brother he was inviting to his game?”
“Who?” A friend pipes up eagerly, opening a soda can. Taehyung scoffs, and raises a dismissive hand to the friend.
“Well, yeah,” Jimin critically eyes Taehyung, “I mean, who else could he have invited through me?”
Taehyung pauses, staring hard while nibbling on his lower lip before sighing loudly, “here gentlemen,” Taehyung looks to their two friends, “we have a true idiot,”
“Here here,” a friend muffles through a food filled mouth.
“Sounds about right,” the other says through his snickers, and Jimin has now decided he does not need friends after all, screw them all.
“If you need some help with arts and crafts, I have extra bristle-board and glitter at home,” Taehyung casually chirps between bites.
Jimin turns to him baffled, “arts and crafts for what?” And when Jimin sees Taehyung’s expression turns mischievous and he quickly tries to backpedal, “wait, no I don’t want—”
“Why Jimin, to show your support, of course,” Taehyung talks over Jimin easily, swinging his arm around dramatically, “you could create something along the lines of a hot pink and glittery monstrosity, with bubble letters spelling out ‘Go Team!’, or ‘Go Jungkook!’ with a heart, if you want to be specific. You could even ask him to the school dance, you know, if we actually had those,”
“…why is that so detail—” one friend, Hyunsung pipes up.
“It’s such B.S that we don’t have dances,” the other friend, Donghyun cuts him off, “my dance moves are a gift,”
“You only know how to do a poor rendition of the worm,” Jimin deadpans, face slightly sour.
“W-well, I’d do it happily while that basketball dude dips you in the moonlight,” is the response he gets from Donghyun while he waves jazz hands.
Jimin can’t help but glance over to Jungkook at the mention and catches him sprouting a small smile when the friend next to him cracks a joke.
“Listen,” Jimin frowns, “you can tease me all you want, but can you keep quiet about Jungkook? He’s a good guy, and I don’t want him subject to rumours because of your loud mouths,”
The three friends all turn and stare at Jimin for a couple of seconds.
“So,” Hyunsung cuts the silence easily, “was that a rumor about there being a quiz fifth true? Because if so, I am so fu—”
And like that, the topic changes. Jimin supposes he could hang onto his friends for a little while longer.
The weather does really warm up in about two days and the last remaining bits of ice dissipates across the pavements. Jimin hasn’t ridden his bike since the small storm struck his town and he finds himself missing it. However, when he prepares himself for the outdoors, he hesitates between wearing his usual biking sneakers over his winter boots.
The hallway leading to the back exit of his apartment building is empty when he gets there. He stops beside the door leading outside, glancing outside through the door’s window, thoughts fuzzy and incomplete as he shuffles in his boots. He doesn’t know how long he waits, but it’s long enough that a handful of people pass him on their own way out. He sighs deeply while something weighs heavy in his gut. He pushes the door open and heads to his locked up bike.
It’s a little different, biking with his clunky boots instead of his slimmer sneakers, but he makes due. In no time, the world begins flashing by him in a known and comforting way. He turns one corner with practiced ease but finds his breath catching when he sees a familiar back walking ahead. His gloved hands tighten on his handle bars as he gets closer. His thumb dings at his bell just before passing Jungkook like it’s done so many times in the past but Jimin doesn’t look over to Jungkook. He pedals, trying to maintain the same pace and appearing to be unbothered. He’s not bothered Jungkook left without him. Jimin continues on down the road without glancing back, swiftly curving onto a different street.
Once turned, his feet stop pedalling for about two seconds before his hands sprawl out and clench the brakes tightly, jolting his bike to an abrupt stop. One of Jimin’s feet pulls itself back and notches the bike’s stand into place. He plants his feet on the ground and waits.
“Um,” greets him a minute later. Jimin looks up to the side and sees Jungkook standing next to him, concern clear across his expression, “is everything okay?”
Jimin pauses in thought, looking straight into Jungkook’s eyes before they trail down his bare, pale neck peaking from his coat and to his hands, covered in the mittens Jimin gave him. He stares at the hands a split second longer than what would be considered normal before he snaps out of it.
“I, um,” flies out of Jimin’s mouth and then, “want a ride?” flies right on out too.
Jungkook is appropriately stunned by Jimin’s offer, eyes looking to the rear rake, usually reserved for hauls from convenience stores for Jimin’s family. “You sure?” Jungkook finally replies, uneasy and maybe skeptical.
Jimin boldly pulls the bike stand back up and raises an eyebrow, “this ride will be leaving in five, four, three—”
“Okay!” Jungkook scrambles and sits on the rear rack clumsily. Jimin laughs throughout them trying and failing to set off until finally Jungkook ends up with one arm clutching around Jimin’s middle and Jimin finally able to balance with the additional weight of Jungkook’s two legs on his left side.
In all honesty, the rest of the ride isn’t that easy for Jimin. His legs pump harder than ever before, struggling at the slightest incline and damn, what does Jungkook eat for breakfast?
They make it to school in one piece, thankfully. Jimin is trying very hard to hide his huffing and puffing while he locks up his bike with Jungkook by his side.
“You sure you’re okay?” Jungkook prods, but Jimin could see a smile twitching as Jungkook tries to cover up his amusement.
Jimin makes sure to glare up something mighty when he spits, “next time, you’re the one biking,” Jimin then shoves a pointer finger onto Jungkook’s chest, “I’m going to put those stupid basketball trained calves to use,”
Jungkook’s smile finally peeks through and tilts his head innocently, “next time?”
Jimin snorts while rolling his eyes, cheek suddenly warmer than usual. He doesn’t give Jungkook a reply as he starts to walk away, but he does hear Jungkook granting him a good day as he goes.
The game is underway, and Jimin’s eyeballing the scoreboard just as nervously as his brother next to him. His brother’s leg jogs next to him anxiously, and Jimin, antsy himself, places a steady hand over it. His brother’s leg stops and Jihyun flashes an apologetic grin his way before his eyes glue back onto the game.
It’s close and the clock is ticking away what’s left of the last quarter. Jungkook’s team started out strong, collecting points back to back. They had a strong lead halfway through until the opposing team bounced back in a flash and closed the gap.
Jungkook, his bangs wet and stuck to his forehead due to sweat, nods to the coach that leans in close and talks into his ear. Jimin can’t help but notice how the basketball uniform glorifies Jungkook’s impressive biceps with every shot he takes on the basket. The view only gets better as the sweat intensifies the contours of his muscles. It’s not very fair. People shouldn’t look that good while running and throwing a ball around. He supposes Jungkook looks good doing a lot of things and why is his train of thought going down this track?
The game is so so so close to finishing and there’s still a tie, making Jimin wonder if they’ll have to go into overtime. Anytime Jungkook so much as moves an inch on the court, there’s a guy nearly humping him with their blocks. The ball does end up in Jungkook’s hands with a handful of seconds left and opposing arms flail, effectively blocking Jungkook. Instead of irritation, Jungkook’s gaze sharpens before he pivots quickly and bounce-passes the ball to a teammate that appears out of nowhere. The teammate instantly dribbles the ball towards the basket while avoiding a defenseman, he jumps, and the ball’s in.
Jimin and his brother stand up as they cheer, their yells blending in with the rest of the crowd in the bleachers. “That was so awesome!” Jimin’s brother shouts into Jimin’s ear, smile beaming a mile wide.
“Yeah, looks like you still have some practicing to do,” Jimin elbow jabs his brother, who looks comically offended by Jimin’s comment. Jimin looks over to the court again and makes eye contact with Jungkook, who’s wiping the sweat off his neck with a towel. Jimin waves quickly, giving two thumbs up and Jungkook grins fully back.
Jimin’s brother stands to go with the leaving crowd, but Jimin pulls him back down. His brother eyes him with a confused stare that Jimin innocently blinks at.
“Okay, what is it?” His brother glares.
“Oh, nothing,” Jimin singsongs his response, “Just that your brother might be able to get you introduced to the winning team of tonight’s game…if you wanted to,”
His brother’ expression flattens as he processes Jimin’s proposition before he brightens up again, “are you for real?”
“For real, for real,” Jimin nods, unable to conceal his own smile, “I have to double-check with Jungkook first though, so keep hopes down for now,”
Jimin motions for Jihyun to stay where he is as he stands. Jihyun nods frantically and looks to Jungkook expectantly, as if his gaze would persuade Jungkook to agree before Jimin can even ask.
“Hey,” Jungkook greets first, walking up to meet Jimin as he heads down the stairs and towards the court floor. His face is brighter than usual, probably glowing from his win, “glad you could make it,”
“Glad I saw a winning game, congrats by the way,” Jimin smiles back, the glee being too contagious.
“Thanks,” Jungkook readily accepts. His cheeks are flushed to begin with but after a pause, they look just a bit redder and then Jungkook adds, “it helps when you have someone cheering you on,”
Jimin laughs at that, slightly in disbelief and hoping his own cheeks don’t darken too much. He is still quick to retort, “yeah, I think my brother and I cheered #3 on a lot, who was cheering for you though?” Jimin glances down to the number twelve, bold across the front of Jungkook’s uniform before witnessing Jungkook’s face souring. Jimin instantly laughs and Jungkook’s face breaks into another grin not long after.
“Hey,” Jimin cuts in, awkwardness inexplicably creeping up on him, “Um, remember that thing you said before?”
“Sorry, which thing?” Jungkook replies seriously and apologetically, for not quite understanding what Jimin’s vague inquiry is, the dummy.
Jimin sighs, brushing his bangs back nervously, “is it possible for you, um, introduce some of the guys to Jihyun? I mean, he’s so into high school basketball and—”
“Not a problem,” Jungkook cuts him off smoothly, looking over his shoulder, only to see that his teammates have pretty much left him in favour of the locker rooms. Jungkook sighs, scratching the back of his head as his shoulders fall before turning to Jimin again, “uh, it’s just, can you guys wait a few minutes? The guys…you know—” and Jungkook thrusts his thumbs behind him towards the locker room.
“Yeah, definitely,” Jimin smiles something small, “but no pressure if they don’t want to, I know they’re –”
“No,” Jungkook is quick to cut in again while shaking their head, “I’m sure the guys will find it hilarious…in a good way! They’re great guys and will probably treat him like their own little brother, you know?”
“Like I need more contenders for best big brother,” Jimin jokingly pouts, which Jungkook smirks at, “anyways, we’ll wait on the bench then.”
Jungkook agrees and pretty much bolts towards the locker room. Jimin then motions for his brother to come down the bleacher and join him on the bench. His brother practically jitters with his excitement and eagerness when he sits. Jimin can’t help it if his smile softens at the sight and affectionately ruffles the boy’s hair.
A few minutes later, a gasp echoes in the mostly empty gymnasium, catching Jimin and his brother’s attention. A trio of boys plus Jungkook head towards them, one boy leading the pack with wonder in his eyes.
“You must be the mini point guard!” The boy says, Kiwon, who is in the same grade if Jimin remembered correctly, “boy, you’re already getting tall for your age!”
Both Jimin and Jihyun stand from the bench as the boys approach closer. Jihyun beams a smile Kiwon’s way while puffing out his chest with pride, “I-I drink milk every day!”
“Shame that didn’t work for me,” another boy jests, someone Jimin doesn’t know but thinks is an underclassman.
Kiwon snorts back while smirking deviously, “like you don’t use it to your advantage, how else would you steal the ball if you weren’t below the average field of vision?”
The boy quickly punches Kiwon in the shoulder and curses him out as everyone laughs around them.
“So, uh,” Jungkook cuts in when the laughter quiets down, “this is Jimin and his brother Jihyun, the middle school point guard I mentioned,”
“Hello,” Jimin smiles politely, clapping a hand onto his brother’s shoulder, “thanks for your, um time, my brother loves watching you guys play,”
The three other boys stare at Jimin for a few seconds and then simultaneously raise an eyebrow towards Jungkook.
“Well, isn’t he a cute litt—” Kiwon chokes off his words when Jungkook grips his shoulder, and very tightly by the looks of it while displaying a large, unassuming smile.
“This is Kiwon, the point guard or loud mouth of the team,” Jungkook rushes out the introduction while Kiwon’s face sours, “Woohyun here is the centre and star rookie, while Beomseok is the small forward,” Jungkook motions to the underclassman and then the third quiet team member.
“T-that slam dunk you did earlier was awesome,” Jihyun blurts out to Beomseok, “you just, like, whoosh, and then you were right there,” his hands fly about with his enthusiasm, dribbling and shooting air basketballs.
Beomseok pauses, causing Jihyun to freeze in apprehension. Jimin can’t help but stiffen as well, because if this guy is even thinking about being a jerk—
“Right?” Beomseok says, with a smile stretching wide, “they didn’t even see it coming, I was like wham, out of the way motherfuc—” and the three others team mates groan together.
“We just got him to shut up about it,” Woohyun murmurs under his breath.
“Hey, don’t hate,” Beomseok glares shortly before smiling to Jihyun, “kid, listen, it isn’t too early to switch to small forward, you know?”
“Hey!” Kiwon chirps up, offended, “don’t even think of stealing my apprentice,”
“Wha—are you for real?” His brother squeaks as he stares at Kiwon with sparkles in his eyes.
“And what if I convince him to be a centre?” Woohyun playfully joins in, and Jihyun flushes a pretty red, happy and pleased with the attention.
The three team mates playfully banter with each other and exchange words of the trade with Jihyun. Jungkook inches to Jimin’s side as the others occupy themselves in their own bubble.
“Feeling threatened yet?” Jungkook murmurs lowly, smirk playing on his lips as his eyes remain on the group.
“I’m not signing any adoption papers without a fight,” Jimin replies back, sticking his tongue out quickly and teasingly.
Jungkook watches the group and Jimin interchangeably, “I’m not sure you can take the three of them,”
Jimin glares at the skepticism and replies with, “wait until I add my mother with a rolling pin in the mix,”
Jungkook winces appropriately as the image settles and cracks a side smile, “well, if her muffins are as bad as you say…”
Snickers erupt between the two of them, Jimin is hooked into Jungkook’s eye-smile stare and the moment’s just kind of nice. Their gazes eventually fall to the ground and they both shuffle their feet.
“Thanks again,” Jimin says softly, watching Jungkook’s team mates take turns with ruffling his brother’s hair, “he really loves basketball,”
“It’s nothing,” Jungkook say backs just as softly, “I can tell you really love him,” Jimin flushes at the words, slightly embarrassed and bashful. Jihyun is laughing now, looking over to Jimin while motioning to Kiwon’s funny expression.
“Well, he’s family,” Jimin sighs, smiling at Jihyun and nodding back, showing he’s watching.
“Still,” Jungkook says, but he says it with a pressure that Jimin can’t deny.
With its weight and meaning, Jimin concedes and repeats, “Still,” Which has Jungkook continuing to smile, sneaking looks at Jimin and there’s a comfortable warmth that settles around them.
Pleased and content, Jimin thinks he’s really glad he got to know Jungkook.
Jimin finds out there’s still a lot of leftover grey yarn. His aunt gave him an inquiring look when he asked for it but he gave her nothing but a humble grin in return. She also doesn’t need to know that he found her once lost knitting needles within that ball of grey yarn.
It takes a few bad starts and many video tutorials, but Jimin gets the hang of knitting relatively quickly. Day by day, after finishing his homework, he knits an hour away. He gets better and better, his fingers moving more to muscle memory than intense concentration now. Within two weeks, he finds himself very proud of getting half an arm’s length completed. It’s not as nice as his aunt’s handiwork, but it’s still somewhat neat and tight with its stitching.
The weather, however, is stubborn. It remains to be persistently cold and windy, causing Jimin to wish he had more time to knit every time he witnesses Jungkook’s bare neck in the morning. He wonders if Jungkook will eventually give in and buy himself a scarf before Jimin can finish making one. He supposes he can only hope.
“Everything okay?” Jungkook asks as he locks up Jimin’s bike to one of the school’s bike racks. Due to different circumstances, mostly Jimin’s lack of stamina and bitter whining, Jungkook is now the one pedalling Jimin’s bike to school with Jimin hitching a ride on the rear rack.
“Huh?” Jimin snaps his eyes away from Jungkook’s throat, still pale and cold looking, “yeah, fine, just a little cold,”
“…really?” Jungkook raises a brow, pointedly ogling Jimin’s knitted hat, scarf, and mittens.
Jimin kicks close to Jungkook’s shin with a frown, which causes Jungkook to laugh and jump back, “you’re not getting a ride to school tomorrow for that sass,” Jimin mutters, beginning to walk off.
Jungkook follows after with smile, “you realize it’s Saturday tomorrow, right?”
With only a small pause, Jimin snaps back, “w-well, technically I’m not wrong,” and Jungkook snickers again. They wave to each other and go their separate ways, with their classrooms in opposite directions.
Jimin switches his shoes and hangs his things on his hook as he usually does. He gets to his seat and Taehyung turns instantly, ready to cheerful greet, “gooood morni—”
“I’m knitting Jungkook a scarf,” blurts out of Jimin’s mouth, startling both Taehyung and himself, if Jimin were to be honest.
Taehyung’s jaw drops a little and his eyes turn confused as it processes Jimin’s confession, “…you can knit?”
“I didn’t,” Jimin replies, looking to the side for moment before returning to Taehyung, “but now I do,”
“Because…?” Taehyung prods, still looking baffled.
“Because Jungkook doesn’t have a scarf,”
“And you’re knitting him one because, what? He still looks cold or something?” Taehyung shoots back, his brows angling even more. And Jimin just… short circuits.
Jimin groans and smacks his hands over his eyes with resignation, “oh god, I like him, don’t I?”
Before Taehyung can answer, the bell goes off and the teacher starts talking. Taehyung gives Jimin a telling stare that the conversation will continue before turning and facing the front of the class.
It takes a couple of periods before Taehyung swings around in his seat dramatically and says all he wants to ask with his intense stare.
Jimin swallows awkwardly, looking to the window next to them, “would you stop?” He asks weakly.
“Jimin…” Taehyung’s eyes immediately soften along with his tone, “did you just realize this?”
“I guess?” Jimin replies, now focusing on the infinite twirling of his pencil between his fingers, “I just, it’s been nice, getting to know him and before I knew it…”
Taehyung sighs, leaning away and nodding his understanding. His eyes looks to the window like Jimin did earlier and noticeably stiffens, his eyes flicker between Jimin and whatever he’s witnessing outside. Jimin is sure to showcase his confusion on his face before glancing over to whatever had Taehyung in a tizzy.
Of course, it’s Jungkook, visible through a lower hallway window. He was stopped by a pretty girl, different from the one with the lunchbox weeks earlier. She tucks her hair behind her ear and bats her lashes in an effortlessly beautiful way as she hands Jungkook an open notebook. Jungkook nods as he reviews the contents and smiles at her when he hands it back.
“Are you going to tell him?” Taehyung says, low and slightly hesitant. Jimin continues observing at Jungkook as he exchanges words with the girl, who is now writing something down in the notebook.
“Should I?” He finds himself murmuring quietly, not actually intending to answer Taehyung.
Only silence meets Jimin’s ears for a while. It’s enough to drag Jimin’s attention away from Jungkook and back onto Taehyung. Eyes were waiting for the contact and Taehyung instantly says, “you should,”
Jimin can’t help but chew at his bottom lip nervously. He thinks about the lunchbox girl and the numerous other confessions that the rumour mill has sprouted out over the years. He also thinks about the laughter that erupts from Jungkook when they tease each other.
“I wanted to be his friend first,” Jimin mutters, dejection filling him, “I just wanted to befriend him,”
“And now you want something more,” Taehyung adds in, reaching over and placing a hand over one of Jimin’s, “these things happen, Jimin,” The contact and warmth from Taehyung’s hand does what it set out to do by calming and comforting Jimin.
“God, Taehyung,” Jimin sinks further in his seat and grasps at the hand, “what will he think?”
“Not sure, but he’s a good guy. Be clear, so he can understand and give you an honest reply, okay?”
Jimin lets out a humourless laugh, “what’s a little rejection anyways?”
The bell sounds off and marks the end of the break between periods. Students around them quickly shuffle and reorganize themselves but all Taehyung says is, “don’t be so sure about that,” and gives Jimin his back.
The scarf is finished. It’s not bad for Jimin’s first try. In all honesty, Jimin enjoyed the twirling and twiddling. His chaotic thoughts were soothed and muted, and Jimin had a lot of thinking he was doing as of late.
He thought a lot about the lunchbox girl in particular. She looked so…determined, strong, and sure. Jimin tried to imagine himself in her position but with the scarf in hand. In his imaginings, there are usually red cheeks, voiceless words, and downcast eyes, but no hands reach out to take Jimin’s offering.
It’s past dinner on a Thursday, and Jimin rubs his fingers over the finished scarf for the third day in a row. He grips it tightly for a moment, releasing a little bit of frustration into it before he stands and leaves his room, taking the scarf with him.
“Honey?” His mother asks when he crosses the living room and makes his way into the kitchen, “what’s that?”
“Nothing, mom,” Jimin replies dutifully while opening a cabinet and retrieving a plastic bag. He chances a glance at his mother, who only looks back with her concern. His dad is next to her on the couch, half asleep as he watches television. His uncle is busy on his phone with a friend, while his aunt is watching the television with her fingers knitting away. Just the usual Park post-dinner scene.
“Is everything all right?” His mother tries again, which catches his father’s attention now and then they both proceed to stare at him.
“Yeah,” Jimin replies, folding the scarf gently, “yeah, everything’s fine.” The scarf goes into the bag and Jimin turns his head to give his family a smile, “I just have to drop something off, I’ll be right back,”
His mother and father share a glance, unsure and unconvinced, but they do eventually relax and leave Jimin to his devices.
“Jimin!” Jimin hears right before he walks down to the apartment’s entryway. He looks over his shoulder and makes eye contact with his aunt, “the scarf you have there,” and Jimin feels himself seizing up, not prepared for any sort of questioning but his aunt’s eyes crinkle with her gentle smile and she softly adds, “it’s very nice,”
He’s not sure why, but he feels relieved while still very embarrassed. A small weight lifts off his shoulders as he nods his response and heads to the door.
He doesn’t bother to change out of his slippers. The plan is to leave the scarf hanging on the doorknob like he wanted with the mittens and hope Jungkook doesn’t ask too many, or ideally any, questions.
It’s the plan, but the door knob fails to cooperate. Jimin slips the handles of the plastic bag over the knob but with the size of the bag and the plushness of the scarf, it bulges. It bulges to the point that it causes the handles to slide and refuse to stay in place. The plastic bag crinkles and crackles every time Jimin tries to secure it, and it’s a noise that pushes against his ear drums and irritated heart.
He kind of refuses to leave it on the ground, he made it goddamnit, and he’s too worried Jungkook or his family might step on it with wet boots or something. Maybe he should go back and find a box to put it in, or he could find a bigger bag that would stay in place on the doorknob. He could ring the bell and dash as well, but Jungkook’s apartment is far enough that he’s not confident he’ll make it back to his own apartment undetected.
Jimin keeps trying and trying to secure the bag as other possibilities whirl in his mind. He’s so lost in them that when he sees the doorknob turn, he completely freezes.
He probably looks like a deer in headlights as the door opens and reveals Jungkook. Jungkook, on the other hand, looks a little surprised but smiles through it anyways.
“Uh hello,” Jungkook greets him, undoubtedly noticing the bag in one of Jimin’s hands.
“Hi,” Jimin rasps, heart stuttering and uncontrollable at that point.
Silence is shared between them from there, and since Jimin is unable to speak much further, Jungkook offers, “I…heard some rustling from inside,” he opens the door a little wider and relaxes against it, “Saw you through the peephole,”
Jimin bites on his bottom lip, unable to meet Jungkook’s eyes. He curses himself internally for how much of coward he is.
“Would you like to come in?”
Jimin gasps lowly, eye shooting up to meet Jungkook’s because that is the very last thing he wants to do. But, Jungkook looks so earnest again and it makes Jimin wonder how often Jungkook invites people into his home.
So, Jimin nods. Jungkook smoothly moves to the side and further invites Jimin in, motioning him to go ahead with his head. Jimin sucks a breath in quickly and brushes past Jungkook to get into an apartment not unlike his own. Jungkook closes the door gently behind him, and leads Jimin further into the apartment.
“I was just studying,” Jungkook says when Jimin catches sight of a few open books on a large coffee table. There’s a cushion, where Jungkook probably sat. The rest of the apartment feels a little…bare. The walls are beige, with little to no decorative embellishments around. There’s one bookshelf, one chest, one television set with a game console, and one lazy-boy and love-seat set. The kitchen has a table folded in half with only two seats. Jimin spots one frame on a wall, a family photo maybe but with just three people.
“My mom works the night shifts at the hospital,” Jungkook cuts into Jimin’s thoughts, “if that’s what you’re looking for,”
Jimin shakes his head incessantly, “n-no, I wasn’t, I mean—”
Jungkook easily deflects with a distant smile, “Pretty different from your place, huh? Take a seat, do you want a drink?”
“No thank you,” Jimin says, honestly and a little helplessly but still stiffly takes a seat on the love seat, the bag crinkling in his lap.
Jungkook hesitates, Jimin sees his eyes regarding to the cushion on the floor but Jungkook approaches Jimin and sits right down next to him.
“So,” he says a few moments after they settle, “what’s up?”
Jimin wants to make up some story for him, spew little white lies and dash out of there. But he doesn’t. He just moves the bag and places it into Jungkook’s lap without a word.
Jungkook looks between the bag and Jimin in question. At Jimin’s small nod of approval, Jungkook opens the bag and extracts the scarf inside.
Jimin analyzes the tiny movements Jungkook’s face makes as he takes in the scarf. To his disappointment, his face doesn’t reveal much. His hands hold onto the scarf gently, caressing one of his hands back and forth against it before he unravels it further.
It’s all Jimin can take. “S-Sorry, I’m really sorry,” he says as he springs up from the love seat. He combs his fingers nervously through his hair and then turns to go.
“Wha—wait!” and Jimin then feels a hand latch onto one of his as Jungkook rapidly stands up after him, “w-what could you possibly be sorry for?”
Jimin is totally and utterly fumbling now, eyes darting around, and his heart leaping up and down his throat. He sees the scarf in Jungkook’s other hand and says, “I made it. I know it’s not as good as the mittens, I know that but I still…”
“You made it?” Jungkook asks, disbelief clear across his face and in his tone. Jimin knew this was a terrible, terrible idea but Jungkook adds, “no! Jimin, no, I mean, I didn’t know you could knit,”
Jimin clears his throat at that, emotions running high but he decides to remain honest, “I didn’t,”
Jimin would have liked to leave at that moment, but the hand holding his grips a bit tighter for whatever reason.
“Jimin,” Jungkook says, but Jimin might be a little stubborn about not looking at Jungkook’s face. Jungkook calls to him a second time though and Jimin meets his stare because he’s weak, “It’s lovely,” Jungkook’s eyes are large, brown, and filled with a sort of conviction Jimin isn’t expecting, “thank you,” is tacked on shortly afterwards, in a tone that causes shivers to race up his spine.
Weakly, meekly, Jimin replies, “you’re welcome,” and he feels so small with Jungkook so tall and so close and why is Jungkook lacing their fingers?
“Would you… put it on me?” Jungkook asks, and Jimin jolts when he processes Jungkook’s request.
Unease fills Jimin because they both know Jungkook is perfectly capable of putting a scarf on and they’re not even outside. So, Jimin nervously shoots back, “Um, why?”
“Please?” Is what Jungkook says, maybe pleads, and it clenches at Jimin’s heart. Jimin takes a deep breath in again, gathering courage with the extra oxygen or something and exhales loudly before nodding his head in jerky motions. Jungkook finally lets go of his hand and hands over the scarf.
Jimin straightens the scarf, being extra critical of the mistakes in the stitching now. Jungkook steps as close as he can, nearly chest to chest with Jimin. He ducks down low enough for Jimin to loop the scarf over his head and proceeds to straighten the ends. Jimin focuses solely on his slightly shaky hands and the softness of the scarf despite Jungkook doing his best drilling holes into his face with his stare.
“There,” he whispers, and straightens the scarf once more but this time the back of fingers accidentally caress the underside of Jungkook’s jaw. He tries to be appear unaffected. He wonders if he’s successful.
He goes to pull away but Jungkook is quicker. Both hands race up to each of Jimin’s departing hands, yet they hold onto them gently. He presses Jimin’s palms against his cheeks, eyes never leaving Jimin’s when he just starts…nuzzling.
His heart stutters and his gut swings violently at the sight, but his awkwardness shines through when he says, “s-soft, huh?”
Jungkook swiftly replies, “yes,” with a deepened, raspy tone that makes Jimin think Jungkook isn’t talking about the scarf like Jimin was.
Jimin watches as Jungkook’s eye droop bit by bit and finally close. His face presses further into Jimin’s palm and he moves his head to the side, just enough that his lips caress. His eye open then, searching Jimin’s eyes before whispering, “is this okay?”
Jimin can’t help but swallow nervously before replying, “yes,” and he’s so proud of how steady the word is. Jungkook closes his eyes again, and Jimin feels the lips move back and forth against one of his palms. He feels the breath from Jungkook’s nose against the back of his hand. There’s a shaky inhale and exhale brushing, and then the lips press, once, twice for two, three seconds.
“Is this okay?”
Jimin is probably gaping by now, and is thankful that Jungkook keeps his eyes close this time because it’s probably not a pretty sight. But despite his disbelief, Jimin still replies as firmly as he can with a, “yes,” Then Jimin can see something snap in Jungkook, he grips Jimin’s hands tighter, nuzzles harder while his brow furrow. His lips press against his palm longer, wider, and wetter.
“You like me,” Jimin finds himself whispering, “you really like me, don’t you?”
Jungkook opens his eyes again to pin Jimin down with an intense stare and rasps, “yes,”
Jimin smiles, shaky, happy, and completely overwhelmed. His hands, though hesitant, withdraw from Jungkook’s cheeks and Jungkook reluctantly lets him go. Jimin’s fingers clench onto the scarf instead and pulls on it gently. He lightly pulls and pulls, without much strength nor speed, giving Jungkook the option of stopping him. But, understanding flashes across Jungkook’s expression and he goes along with Jimin’s grip.
Jimin pauses just before their lips meet and then, he’s not sure who finishes the distance. In the end, it doesn’t matter because just like Jungkook himself, the kiss is perfect. It starts as a light caress that presses gently. Lips spread and push with an increasing need to taste and feel. Jungkook’s hands touch either side of Jimin’s waist before they slide and search across his lower back. The hold tightens, bringing them closer together. Jimin’s fingers gently rest against Jungkook’s jaw, loving the feeling of the muscles moving beneath his fingertips as Jungkook moves with the growing intensity of the kiss.
They break away, sighing and Jimin can feel exactly how fast Jungkook’s heart is beating against his pinky finger. There’s a moment when Jungkook looks over Jimin’s face and then he bend his head down. His face meets the junction between his shoulder and neck and just rests there. He can feel Jungkook grip the back of his t-shirt tightly and he feels so firmly secured against Jungkook’s warm, hard body. Jimin, with his arms now around Jungkook’s shoulders, tightens his own hold and they remain that embrace for a long time.
“Stop being a brat and wear the damn mittens,”
“B-but,” Jungkook stutters as they start their walk to school, opting out of biking that day, “I want to hold your hand,” he says, almost in a whine-like way.
“We can hold hands wearing mittens, I told you it’s—”
“Cold, I know,” Jungkook sighs, nearly exasperated, “please? You know what I mean,”
Jimin eyes Jungkook for a moment before letting out a big sigh of his own and ripping off one of his mittens, “fine, but only for a few minutes.”
Jungkook beams and his bare hand instantly engulfs Jimin’s. In a few seconds, Jimin does reluctantly admit to himself that Jungkook was right in the beginning.
He sure does run hot.