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Like a Rolling Stone

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“I have to quit the band.”

Yoongi looks up, the cord for his keyboard dangling limply from his hand, halfway to the plug. Jimin’s fists are in his pockets, his face downturned. The pink of his cheeks matches the faded dye in his hair. Yoongi can’t imagine what his expression might be, because despite everything Jimin is still mostly a mystery to him.

Yoongi doesn’t say anything at first, waiting in the hopes that Jimin will clarify for him. When he doesn’t, Yoongi drops the plug and stands up.

“You’re quitting?” Yoongi knows he hasn’t misheard, but maybe hopes that repeating Jimin’s words out loud will shame him into rethinking whatever he’s trying to do.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin says. “I just don’t really have the time anymore.”

“Why not?”

It’s clear that Jimin is uncomfortable, from his squared shoulders to his closed off expression. Yoongi doesn’t care as much as he should, he even feels a sort of dark satisfaction to see Jimin looking guilty and uncertain, alone and on the spot. Taehyung and Namjoon have both taken steps back, as if removing themselves from the conversation with a suspicious deliberation.

“I want to focus on dance,” Jimin says, in a soft voice that Yoongi thinks is supposed to be remorseful.

Yoongi turns back to setting up his keyboard, as if to show that the situation doesn’t deserve his attention, as if his heart isn’t dropping. “You’ve always made time for both before.”

“I want to really focus on dance,” Jimin says, clasping his hands together like a schoolboy, the image of him so painfully earnest that Yoongi can’t stand to look at him. “Besides, this - it’s just not as fun for me anymore.” Though he punctuates the sentence with his tone, he doesn’t seem to have really finished what he was saying. Yoongi looks up in time to catch the briefest of glances pass between Jimin and Taehyung. The almost imperceptible shake of Taehyung’s head, as if to say, It’s not worth it . The silent familiarity between them is infuriating to Yoongi, as grating to his nerves as fingernails on a chalkboard.

“It’s not just about being fun ,” Yoongi says, defiant. “It’s about making music.”

“And I’m not as serious about music as you guys are,” Jimin says, meeting Yoongi’s eyes finally. Yoongi looks away from him just as quickly, as if eye contact is a sort of surrender he’s not willing to make. It’s like they’re playing a game, dodging each other and trying not to let the other get the upper hand. At least it feels that way to Yoongi.

In his avoidance of Jimin, Yoongi’s eyes find Taehyung and Namjoon, who still haven’t spoken and are mirrors of each other, both picking at the hems of their shirts and looking at the wall, as if there is something more interesting there besides an old Nirvana poster kept in place with thumbtacks. Namjoon and Taehyung share habits like clothes, a side effect of knowing each other for so long, of being best friends since childhood. To know one was a little like knowing them both.

“You guys haven’t said anything,” Yoongi says. “You knew about this already, didn’t you?”

Taehyung and Namjoon look at each other before they look at Yoongi, which means they don’t really need to say anything at all.

“He sort of mentioned it last week,” Taehyung says.

“Taehyung told me off hand,” Namjoon says. “It’s not like we planned it.”

Yoongi thinks that their quickened movements and jagged speech tell a different story. Without Hoseok there to be on his side, Yoongi feels like he’s being mutinied.

“You waited a week to tell me,” Yoongi says, turning his back and going behind his keyboard, plucking at a few keys without really thinking about it. Deep, bass notes ring out. Taehyung picks at a scab on his elbow.

“Because we knew how you’d react!” Namjoon says, waving his hands as if to illustrate some kind of point.

“Does Hobi know about this too?” Yoongi asks, somewhat upset at himself for even having the thought.

“No, of course he doesn’t. We were gonna tell you both tonight - we didn’t know he wasn’t planning to show up.”

“Look, Yoongi,” Jimin says. “I waited until all of our scheduled shows were done. It’s not like I’m putting you out, or anything. You have time to find someone else who works better for this.”

This was working just fine,” Yoongi snaps, aware that he sounds immature, but that’s how the whole situation feels.

“For you it is,” Jimin counters.

“You know all our songs already,” Yoongi says. “I wrote a lot of them for you.”

The words hang heavily in the room, and Yoongi only realizes after saying them what it sounds like. “For your voice,” he clarifies.

No one seems keen on speaking after that. Jimin stands straight, resolute. The three of them - Jimin, Taehyung and Namjoon - are huddled close together, and Yoongi is partitioned behind his keyboard as if it were a barricade. He feels Hoseok’s absence acutely. Fortunately for him, the stairs are beside him and he takes them two at a time, throwing a brief, “I need a smoke,” behind him as he goes.

“Yoongi, c’mon,” he hears Namjoon’s voice below him, but it’s just a half hearted plead. Yoongi is sure they’ll stay down there to talk amongst themselves once he’s gone, and they do, no creak of the wooden stairs behind him.

The basement stairs lead to a landing in the corner of the kitchen and that’s where Jin is, where he almost always is. It’s fitting that the kitchen is the largest room in his house, equipped with an abundance of counter space and cupboards for all of the utensils that Yoongi has never seen before, but that Jin seems to need on a regular basis. The stove is working overtime - something is boiling, something is frying, and the air is thick with the smell of garlic and spices that Yoongi can’t name.

“Hey,” Jin says as Yoongi emerges from the basement, flecks of some red sauce splashed across his white tshirt like rust. “You weren’t down there long.”

“I need a smoke,” Yoongi says, repeating the excuse that’s becoming truer by the second.

“Oh, well - ”

Yoongi isn’t mad at Jin, his perpetually kind face and dark eyes that smile even when his mouth doesn’t, his hair a bit larger at the moment from the steam of his boiling water. Still, Yoongi’s moods don’t always discriminate, and he lets Jin’s sentence disappear behind him as he goes onto the porch. The screen door clatters closed behind him, ushering in silent relief.

Yoongi pulls the lighter from his pocket first, then the pack of cigarettes, shaking one loose into his palm. He doesn’t smoke much, really. Yoongi isn’t prone to addictions, and saying he has a cigarette only “once in a while” is true enough for him. The “once in a while” becomes more frequent if he’s stressed or annoyed, though, and he’s feeling a substantial amount of both.

Yoongi presses his elbows into the half-decayed wood of the porch railing. The first drag is warm, slowing his mind down. His focus shifts to the scratchy feeling in his throat, then out to the city in front of him. The air is heavy with humidity, thick with the summer.

Jin doesn’t live in the best neighborhood, he lives in the one he can afford. Still, he has a house with a porch and a basement and the room not only for his own hobbies, but for those of his friends. And Yoongi envies him for that. It’s not uncommon to hear some kind of commotion when stepping out onto Jin’s street, be it police sirens or rowdy neighbors, but tonight is quiet, and Yoongi is grateful.

Yoongi appreciates that Jin’s house is on a hill, situated just far enough above and away from the city that that skyline always looks like a picture. The city flickers before Yoongi’s eyes, the skyscrapers lit up along the height of their formidable bodies, reflecting off of the shuddering waves of the bay that surrounds them. It all looks pristine from this vantage point, far removed from the grime and grit that lines the cracks when you get up close.

The door opens as Yoongi’s cigarette is burning down almost to the filter. He turns expecting to see Namjoon, dreading that he might see Jimin. Instead it’s Jin, wiping his hands on the front of his jeans, stepping onto the porch. The wooden slats creak beneath them as Jin crosses to stand next to Yoongi. Yoongi nods at him in acknowledgement but doesn’t speak, knowing he doesn’t have to. People don’t normally wait for him to speak, and Yoongi isn’t sure if that’s because they know they’d be waiting for a long time, or because they assume he has nothing to say.

“Everything alright?” Jin asks.

“I guess so.” Yoongi’s still holding the cigarette and it’s getting warmer as it burns close to his fingers, but he isn’t sure what to do with it, Jin standing close beside him. He continues holding it.

“You just came up out of there kind of quickly. Did you even have time to set up?”

“Don’t need to,” Yoongi said. “We’re not practicing tonight.”

“Why not?” Jin turns, resting one arm on the porch and facing Yoongi fully. His gaze makes Yoongi’s skin prickle.

“Hobi’s not here, and now we don’t have a vocalist either. Seems like a lost cause.” Jin’s answering gaze is quizzical and Yoongi feels an ironic comfort that he wasn’t the only one there kept out of the loop.

“Jimin’s quitting the band,” Yoongi says, and looks away from Jin’s face because he doesn’t want to see his expression. Jin’s only a friend of Namjoon who lets them practice in his basement, and Yoongi isn’t keen on the fact that he’s sharing more than pleasantries with him.

The cigarette burns low enough that the heat on Yoongi’s fingers has become sharp, painful. He finally stubbs it out on the railing, then blows the ash off, letting it float away to join the fireflies blinking in the street in front of the house.

“Oh,” Jin says. He manages to catch Yoongi’s eye, despite the effort Yoongi puts in to avoid him. “I’m sorry.”

Yoongi shrugs, but he thinks it comes off unconvincing. “Namjoon’s uncle is a producer, we were supposed to record a few tracks soon - I don’t know.”

“None of the rest of you could pick up the vocals?”

Yoongi shakes his head. “Namjoon, Hobi and I sing like shit. Taehyung has a good voice, but he says he can’t drum and sing at the same time.”

“I’m sorry,” Jin says again. “I know this band means a lot to you.”

The wording annoys Yoongi. “I thought it meant a lot to all of us.”

Jin drums his fingers on the railing, as if to get Yoongi’s attention, which is already on him. “I could ask my brother, Jungkook, if he might want to do it. He’s a voice major.”

“He’s in college?”
“Yeah, a freshman.”

“A kid,” Yoongi says doubtfully.

“A voice major ,” Jin repeats, with a small frown and gentle insistence. “He’s talked about joining a band before. His voice recitals aren’t always the kind of music he likes.”

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says.

“Jimin is in school too,” Jin points out. “Namjoon is in graduate school.”

“I know that,” Yoongi says.

“Then why is this different?” Jin asks. He doesn’t sound angry, his head is tilted to the side, his mouth is a soft line. It seems important to him.

The front door is opening again before Yoongi can think of a satisfying answer. Namjoon, Taehyung and Jimin step out, fresh from whatever sort of discussion they had, the same worry reflected on all of their faces. Yoongi turns away from their grimaces.

Jin is the first to speak. “Yoongi was telling me about your change in lineup,” he says. He’s met only by an uncomfortable silence, but doesn’t seem to feel it. “And I told him I think I have a solution. My brother Jungkook, remember?” Yoongi isn’t sure who in particular he’s talking to.

“Yeah,” Namjoon says, his voice lifting up at the end of the word, a hint of enthusiasm. “He’s pretty good, isn’t he?”
“He’s been taking voice lessons since he was a kid,” Jin says, the pride easily detectable in his tone without looking at him. “It’s his major.”

“Apparently so,” Yoongi says quietly. If Jin hears him he pretends not to.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Jimin says quickly.

“Of course you do,” Yoongi says, turning around again to look at him straight on. “It lets you off the hook, doesn’t it?”

“Hey, Yoongi,” Taehyung breaks in. “You don’t have to be an ass.”

Yoongi looks at him. Taehyung , he thinks. He couldn’t look intimidating if he tried, and he’s trying. His eyebrows are knit together above his handsome face, dark eyes slightly narrowed under his overgrown brown hair, arms crossed over his chest. The tattoo on his collarbone is half revealed by his loose tshirt, and seems to glow in the porch light. He looks like he’s acting angry for a role, and Yoongi thinks if he hadn’t dropped out of college and the theater program he was in, he might be better at it. Yoongi can’t hate him, or even dislike him, despite trying.

“Sorry,” Yoongi says.

“I know you’re upset right now,” Namjoon says, running a hand through his hair, colored pink from the same batch of dye as Jimin’s, the result of some recent Friday night that Yoongi had skipped out on to work on music. Taehyung had come away from the experience with a new color of his own - dark green in the tips of his bangs that the others had been too smart to mess with. It looked good on Taehyung, though, as everything did. “I think this is a good idea too, Yoongi.”

The porch is silent for a while, the only sound the chirping of crickets in the overgrown patch of grass that Jin has for a front yard. Yoongi comes to realize that they’re probably waiting on him, and turns to face them. The porch light is dim, a bulbs burned out so that only one remains to illuminate their faces. Still, Yoongi can see the expressions of expectation. He feels defeated, backed into a corner.

“At least let me ask him,” Jin says. “And give him a chance if he wants one.”

Yoongi nods, and feels small in the wave of relief that washes over them afterwards, tangible in the humid night air.

 

Hoseok is asleep on the couch when Yoongi gets home, panting slightly from dragging his keyboard up the three flights of stairs to their apartment. One of Hoseok’s arms hangs over the side of the cushions, knuckles brushing the carpet. Yoongi regards the scene of peacefulness before him. Jung Hoseok, or Hobi - his best friend. Maybe his only friend.

The TV is on, the remote is resting on Hobi’s chest, and half a joint is placed on top of the metal box where he keeps his stash. Yoongi sits on the end of the couch by Hobi’s feet gingerly, shaking one of his knees to wake him.

Hobi wakes up slowly, stretching one arm above his head and catching the remote as it starts to slide off of his chest. He blinks rapidly to bring Yoongi into focus, and looks from him to the clock on their wall in confusion. Their apartment is small, and sparsely furnished with the basics of a couch, bookshelf, coffee table and stand for their TV. They have their own bedrooms though Hobi, a social creature, normally occupies the couch when he’s home.

“I thought you had a date tonight,” Yoongi says, when Hobi looks like he’s about to speak.

“It ran short. I don’t think she was that into me,” Hobi says, an apologetic smile on his lips. “I know what you’re going to say, but I am serious about the band and I won’t skip again - ”

“Doesn’t matter,” Yoongi cuts across his drowsy rambling. “We didn’t practice anyway. Jimin quit.”

Hobi stares at him, rubbing his eyes as he continues to wake up. “He quit?”

“Yep. Would have been nice for him to let me know over text or something, before I bothered to carry my keyboard all the way over there, on the fucking bus.”

“Would have been nice for someone to let me know at all,” Hobi says. “Guess I am really just the bassist, huh?”

When Yoongi doesn’t react Hobi runs a hand through his dark hair, putting it back into position, fixing it from his sleep. “You’re really upset about this, aren’t you?”

Yoongi shakes his head in disbelief, and leans back into the embrace of the old couch, which has gone squishy with time and use. “It came out of nowhere.”

“Did he give a reason?”

“Wants to focus on dance.”

Hobi nods thoughtfully. “He is an amazing dancer.” He catches Yoongi’s eye, guilty. “Still not cool of him, though.”

Yoongi sighs, pushing his palms into his eyes until multicolored lights materialize to spin across his vision like a kaleidoscope. “He says it’s because of dance, but I know there’s more to it than that,” he says, voicing the thought out loud for the first time.

“What do you mean?” Hobi asks, though Yoongi thinks he knows exactly what he means.

“He’s been different since we broke up,” Yoongi says, spitting it out as if it’s a bitter taste in his mouth.

“That seems normal.”

“It doesn’t have to impact the band,” Yoongi says.

“It’s probably worse that he’s dating Taehyung now,” Hobi says.

There’s an ache in Yoongi’s temple. “It’s worse,” he says, “Because he dumped me a week after he met Taehyung, and started seeing him a week later.”

“Not his best move,” Hobi says softly.

“Still, I’m not the one who’s made a big deal out of this, you know? He could at least stick to one commitment he’s made, he could at least stick to the band.”

Hobi looks at him for a long moment, his smile a bit melancholy as if he’s watching a sad movie, instead of looking at Yoongi. “This could be a good thing,” he says. “It’s not like the rest of us can’t feel the tension, too.”

Yoongi shrugs, unconvinced. With Hobi, the frustration that was more carefully contained at practice threatens to push through Yoongi’s exhaustion. There’s a murky feeling in his chest. He doesn’t mind if Hobi notices that he’s off - he’s the one person Yoongi isn’t afraid of showing a little more authenticity to, because the amount that Hobi himself shows dims any embarrassment Yoongi would otherwise feel. Yoongi thinks maybe that’s why he’s stuck with Hobi for so long, through college and the formation and disbandment of two other bands, to moving to the city together a year ago and forming their current lineup from a group of Hobi’s high school friends. It’s easy to spend around Hobi, and he can’t really say that about anyone else.

“We can find another vocalist,” Hobi says, his voice gentle. He puts a hand on Yoongi’s knee. “In the meantime, we can still practice. Namjoon’s guitar could be a little tighter.”

“Jin wants his little brother to join us,” Yoongi says, thinking there’s no reason to keep that development quiet.

Hobi sits back. “You mean Jungkook?”

“I’m guessing you know him.”

Hobi shrugs. “I’ve met him, yeah. It’s hard to be friends with Jin without hearing about Jungkook all the time.”

Yoongi racks his brain a little, searching through past conversations with Jin, of which there haven’t been an abundance. He remembers hearing the name a few times, maybe even looking at a high school graduation photo. “I guess.”

“Once, I was talking about my trip to the dentist, and even then Jin found a way to bring up Jungkook.”

“You’ve known Jin longer than I have,” Yoongi points out.

Hobi finally turns off the TV, which has been droning on in the background mostly ignored by both of them. “It could be a good idea,” he says. “Having Jungkook in the band.”

“That’s what Namjoon said.”

“And what do you think?” Hobi asks.

“I think it sounds like he’s a kid. And he’s probably busy with school.”

“But let me guess - everyone else is willing to let him try out?”

Yoongi nods reluctantly.

“It’s our band too,” Hobi says, keeping his voice low. “It won’t hurt you to give it a try.”

Yoongi sighs. “Don’t have much choice.”

A light rain begins to fall outside, pattering against the window. Yoongi feels fortunate that at least he got home with his keyboard before it got wet. It’s late, now, but not terribly so, and normally Yoongi would take the opportunity of a night off of practice to work on new stuff. Instead, he mostly feels tired, and a little guilty from his conversation with Hobi. It’s not like he’s trying to be difficult, but he gets the feeling that everyone thinks he is. He glances back to Hobi, who is looking at his phone, unusually subdued.

“Were you feeling kind of sorry for yourself here?” Yoongi gestures toward the joint on the coffee table.

Hobi smiles, the most natural expression for his face, the way it seems like it should always be. “Only about as much as you are.”

Yoongi rubs his hand over his face, and knows that Hobi isn’t wrong.

“Did Jin send anything back to eat?” Hobi asks, hopeful. Yoongi shakes his head. “Do you want to order a pizza then?” Hobi sticks the unfinished joint back in the box and heads toward the kitchen.

“A pizza sounds good,” Yoongi says.

Chapter Text

Jungkook is shy. Yoongi can tell right away when the kid won’t meet his eyes, and barely speaks to him beyond some muttered greeting. He’s a deer in headlights, big eyes and a timid expression. He’s not dressed like he came to audition for an indie rap-rock band, and instead looks kind of like he’s going to an interview. He’s wearing dark jeans with a button up shirt and Yoongi thinks the collar looks ironed, thinks it looks like Jungkook even slicked his hair back with gel. Yoongi doesn’t feel hopeful.

With everyone gathered in Jin’s basement the space feels overly small, and hot. Jin himself is there, apparently having taken the night off of cooking to be present. Even Jimin is there, for some reason, and no matter how many annoyed glances Yoongi sends towards him and Taehyung, they go ignored. Yoongi feels slightly claustrophobic, and overheated.

“Alright,” Yoongi says, repositioning himself behind his keyboard as soon as introductions are done. “What do you want to sing?”

“Um,” Jungkook says. He’s being watched like he’s in an aquarium. He’s substantially taller than Yoongi, but looks small at the moment. When Jin said that he was a music major, Yoongi hoped it meant he was used to auditioning and performing enough to not get anxious about it. Clearly that’s not the case, and Yoongi has worked with enough stage-scared musicians that he feels disappointed. Still, he understands. He sighs.

“Look, we don’t all need to stand here staring at him,” Yoongi says. “Maybe just the band?” Yoongi makes a point to look directly at Jimin, feels a bit bad, and ignores it.

“I came to give my opinion,” Jimin says evenly. Taehyung is standing with an arm draped around him, instead of behind his drum kit, where he should be.

Yoongi thinks about telling Jimin that if he wanted an opinion, he should have stayed in the band. He says nothing, instead looking to Jungkook for his input. Jungkook is blushing, and Yoongi unintentionally notices that it’s a particularly pretty blush - a delicate pink like fresh roses, rather than the blotchy red that Yoongi himself tends to take on.

Jungkook glances back at Jin and says, “It’s okay. I don’t mind.”

That’s enough for Yoongi, who’d rather not argue any point longer than he needs to. Jin and Jimin head to the half broken futon in the corner, and Yoongi decides to put them out of his mind for the time being.

“We can play one of our songs for you first,” Hobi offers with an encouraging smile. “So that you can find out if our music is even your kind of thing.”

“I’ve, uh, actually heard some of your songs before,” Jungkook says. “Jin gave me your demo CD.”

“I recorded that myself,” Yoongi says. “And I don’t have great equipment, so it’s shitty quality.”

“I think it sounds great,” Jungkook says. He speaks up again after the smallest pause, as if he’s afraid of silence. “I listened to what you’ve put up on YouTube, too.”

“Cool,” Yoongi says, adjusting the reverb on his keyboard. “Glad you like it.”

“Should we play one of our songs then?” Namjoon asks, picking absently at his guitar. It needs tuned, Yoongi thinks, but a lot of the time Namjoon doesn’t notice when the strings get loose.

“We could do Lie , maybe?” Jungkook says.

Yoongi locks eyes with Jimin, and his expression is unreadable, but he doesn’t look away. Of course Jungkook would pick the one song Yoongi and Jimin had written together.

“Or, not that one?” Jungkook says into the silence. It’s only then that Yoongi realizes no one else has spoken either.

“It’s pretty ambitious,” Yoongi says, not looking away from Jimin, thinking of the weeks it to him to be able to master some of the high notes, the length he had to hold them.

Jungkook shrugs, not cockily, but with a genuine blaise that surprises Yoongi.

“Let’s do that, then,” Yoongi says.

 

When they’re finished with Lie they try a couple more songs, both originals and covers. Jungkook may have only been a voice major for a semester or two, but Yoongi admits that he doubts he would be able to tell. He’s used to playing with, and listening to, vocalists with no formal training at all. Jungkook’s voice is smooth, wavering only a bit with what Yoongi thinks is nerves, not incompetence.

“You’re great, man,” Namjoon says as he’s pulling his guitar strap over his head.

Jungkook smiles at him toothily.

“Really great,” Hobi says, setting his bass on its stand.

“What did you think of singing with Bangtan Sonyeondan?” Taehyung asks, opening his arms wide to gesture to all of them.

“I - ” Jungkook pauses to think for a moment, slotting the microphone back into its stand. “I’ve never sung this kind of music before. I mean, not with accompaniment. It’s fun.” He laughs shyly, and Taehyung grins widely.

In the next moment, all six faces have turned toward Yoongi.

“Thanks, Jungkook,” he says, suddenly not sure what he should say.

Taehyung exchances a glance with Namjoon. “We’re taking him, right?”

Yoongi sort of wants to punch him, and Taehyung only blinks under his withering gaze. Yoongi runs his forefinger lightly over his keyboard, feelings the key’s sharp edges.

“I think we need to discuss,” he says, trying to keep the tenseness he feels out of his voice as much as possible. Yoongi glances a Jungkook quickly, feeling awkward, but his expression is neutral, nothing in particular to see there.

“It’s late, anyway,” Jin says, putting a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “You have class tomorrow.” Jungkook turns his head to give Jin a look, the kind of unspoken sibling communication that causes Jin to remove his hand, and shrug. Jungkook looks back at everyone else, his expression shy.

“It was nice to meet you all,” Jungkook says, looking at Yoongi as he speaks.

“I’m gonna drive him back to his dorm,” Jin says. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

When they’re gone Hobi crosses to the futon, retrieving the metal box from his bag. “I like him,” he says as he pulls out a rolling paper.

“Me too,” Namjoon and Taehyung say together.

“He’s cute,” Jimin inputs.

“Doesn’t matter what he looks like,” says Yoongi. “It matters what he sounds like.”

“Admit it,” Hobi says. “It matters what he looks like a little, considering what we’re up against.” Yoongi knows he’s talking about the city’s hero among local indie bands, Big Bang, who seem to all be as attractive as they are talented. Hobi tends to talk about them as if they’re a hostile world power, and they kind of are, in terms of the annual Battle of the Bands. To Yoongi, it doesn’t matter much.

“Anyway, he sounds good too,” Namjoon says. “But you didn’t like him.” He says it more as a statement than a question, as if he could have expected it.

“He’s fine,” Yoongi says. “I just don’t know if he fits our image, or our sound.”

“Since when do we have an “image”?” Namjoon asks.

“What do you think?” Yoongi asks, ignoring the question and turning to Taehyung.

Taehyung shrugs from where he’s still seated behind his drums. “I already said I want him in the band. I just don’t think it matters much - you don’t like him.”

Yoongi sighs in frustration. Often, he feels like he’s on a different page than the rest of the world. “I never said I don’t like him. You invited him into the band as soon as he was done and I just thought we need to talk about it first.”

“What’s to talk about? We need a vocalist, and he’s good and seems willing to sing anything.”
“He’s the only person we’ve heard so far,” Yoongi says.

“And how many people do we need to hear?” Namjoon asks. “What are you looking for, exactly?”

“Nothing particular. I just don’t wanna make a hasty decision.”

“Yoongi,” Hobi says, his eyes focused on his work of joint rolling. “No offense, but you’re taking this a little too seriously. We don’t need to try out a bunch of people - I don’t think we could find many who’d be interested.”

Yoongi stays quiet.

“We’ve only technically been with this lineup for, like, a year. Taehyung’s only been with us for a few months.”

“What’s that matter?” Yoongi asks.

“It’s not like we’re professionals, like we’re famous, is what I’m saying. We don’t have a huge reputation to uphold. We have some fans, sure, but they’re probably going to stop coming to our shows when they can’t stare at Jiminie the whole time anymore.”

Hobi looks up when he’s met with a long silence, and has the dignity to shrink under Yoongi’s glare.

“I’m kidding,” Hobi says. “What I’m trying to say is that he’s good, and we all like him, so please take that into consideration before you veto the idea.”

“You’re always so picky,” Jimin says from the corner of the futon, his eyes on Yoongi, a sly smile on his lips. “I don’t get it.”

No one asked , Yoongi wants to say. He wants to tell Jimin to leave, to stay out of it, to mind his own business. Instead he says, “Fine, let’s take him.”

 

“Stop,” Yoongi says, a week later, at Jungkook’s second official practice. He takes his fingers off the keys, and signals for the others to stop playing. “The bass is too heavy, we need to adjust the mix.”

“We’ve adjusted the mix five times already,” Namjoon groans.

“Really, can we get through one full song please?” Taehyung leans back on his stool.

“Jungkook’s getting drowned out,” Yoongi says.

“I think my bass sounds fine,” Hobi says.

“Then maybe it’s Jungkook. Can you try singing louder?” Yoongi has already made the request twice, and Jungkook’s ears are turning red.

“Sorry,” Jungkook says, his knuckles white around the mic stand.

“It’s fine, you’re not used to performing this kind of music,” Hobi says kindly.

“Let’s try again,” Yoongi says, motioning to start the song over. They get a minute and a half in before Yoongi’s pulling his hands off the keyboard again, and Namjoon is taking his hands off of his guitar to make them into fists, and Taehyung is throwing one of his drum sticks across the room.

“What is it this time?” Hobi asks.

“It just doesn’t sound right,” Yoongi says. “Something about the vocals, the guitar.”

“So it’s the guitar now?” Namjoon asks, his voice raising along the length of the sentence.

Yoongi nods to the futon. “I’ll sit out there while you guys play, maybe I can figure it out.”

“Then how will you play?”

“If you’d let Jimin come he could help us sound check,” Taehyung says, his mouth turned down, his shoulders hunched sulkily.

“I didn’t say he couldn’t come,” Yoongi says.

“You said, ‘I don’t know why he’d have to be there’ when I asked!” Taehyung hits a cymbal with the stick he still has, as if to accentuate his point.

“He complains about not having enough time, but still wants to come to every practice?”

“This is very far from the point,” Hobi says.

“I agree,” Yoongi says. “Let’s take a break, I’m going out for a smoke.”

Before anyone can protest, and Yoongi can see they want to, he has his pack and is headed up the stairs.

Jin raises his eyebrows in the kitchen. “Everything okay?”

“What are you, a gatekeeper?” Yoongi asks, brushing by him to get to the porch. The evening air is unusually cool for the early summer, and it feels soft like a blanket.

Yoongi doesn’t light his cigarette at first, instead standing for a long moment to catch his breath, his eyes traveling the cityscape in front of him once again. He feels acutely frustrated, and isn’t sure why. It’s not about the sound, really, or anything that they’re doing wrong in particular. It’s hearing Jungkook’s voice in the place of Jimin’s, maybe. After so many months of crafting lyrics and melodies to the thought of Jimin’s voice, Yoongi misses it more than he thought he would.

“Hey.” Yoongi jumps as Jungkook speaks before the front door can herald his arrival by swinging shut behind him. The sun hasn’t quite set yet, and Jungkook’s already sharp features are sharpened by the orange light and long shadows. He doesn’t look so young standing there as he did when he auditioned, and he’s lost the clean cut look for a tshirt and jeans with a hole in one of the knees.

“Hey,” Yoongi replies, cupping his hand around the cigarette so that he can light it.

Jungkook crosses to stand beside Yoongi at the porch railing, resting his own elbows on the rough wood. Yoongi feels suddenly awkward. He’s never been alone with Jungkook before, and isn’t sure why he is now.

“Jin tells me that you work at a music store.”

“He wasn’t lying.” Yoongi takes the first drag on his cigarette, and is happy to have it. He always is. Having something to smoke makes talking feel more natural, turns the awkward pauses into useful ones. Sometimes Yoongi thinks it’s half the reason he picked the habit up.

“Any tips for getting that kind of job? I want something for this school year, and there’s a music store on campus, and I think it’d be cool.”

Yoongi shrugs. “I’m not sure,” he says.

Jungkook nods, as if he’s actually considering that as advice. Yoongi stays quiet, feeling safe in the fact that he was the last one to speak, like the pressure is off of him now.

“Am I doing something wrong?” Jungkook asks, turning to face Yoongi fully.

Yoongi feels his skin heat up, embarrassed and taken aback by the bluntness of the question. “What? No.”

“It just… It feels like it.” Jungkook smiles sheepishly, seemingly not offended. “If I am, I’d rather you tell me when it’s just the two of us, than in front of everyone.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Yoongi says. He feels kind of like a child being called out on bad behavior that he thought he was getting away with.

“I know,” Jungkook says quickly, looking down, picking at a splinter in the wood of the railing. “I’m good at taking criticism, so I don’t mind.”

Yoongi sighs, resigned, and remembers that Jungkook isn’t used to him. Yoongi doesn’t like to filter himself, so he generally doesn’t. He’s used to Hobi’s response of being equally as candid with him, and the way Namjoon and Taehyung respond with frustration but are generally easy going. Yoongi’s mind briefly turns to Jimin, who was not so keen on his way of communicating, and feels a tightening in his throat.

“You’re doing a good job,” Yoongi says, and Jungkook smiles in relief. “I just want to make sure it’s right.”

“I understand,” Jungkook says, nodding a bit too quickly, enthusiasm spilling over. “I admire you.”

Yoongi lets himself smile, and takes another pull on his cigarette to make it less obvious. “Don’t do that,” he says as he exhales. “You hardly know me.”

“No,” Jungkook says. “But I think I know what you’re going for. With music, if it’s going to be good then it should be really good.”

“Sure.”

Jungkook looks down at his hands, turning them over, inspecting his fingernails. “I also wanted to tell you that I’m not mad, about when I tried out. When you told Taehyung that you wanted to discuss having me before letting me join.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says, half annoyed by Jungkook’s presence and half enjoying his compliments.

“Like I said, you just want to make really good music, and it’s cool to see you’re committed to that.”

“And do you think it’s really good?” Yoongi meets Jungkook’s eyes which are bright, and enthusiastic

“I think you guys are,” Jungkook says, and Yoongi wonders if the color on his cheeks is just a reflection of the sunset. “I’m not, though.”

Yoongi thinks that Jungkook is maybe the best out of all of them, technically speaking, but doesn’t say it. “We still have a couple of weeks until the show,” Yoongi says, crushing his cigarette against the railing to put it out. “You can practice.”

Jungkook nods. “I’ll do my best.”

 

“I mean, he could have got on his knees and just yelled ‘Like me please!’ right there and I would have gotten the same message.” Yoongi takes a mouthful of noodles from his cardboard takeout container, and Hobi clicks his tongue disapprovingly.

“You’re being harsh,” he says.

“I’m not being harsh ,” Yoongi says. “Jungkook’s desperate for approval, it’s embarrassing.”

“I happen to like him,” Hobi says. “He’s polite, and clean, and everything else an upstanding young man should be.” He settles into the couch next to Yoongi, grabbing his own takeout box and pulling the top open.

“We’ll see how he does at the show, I guess.”

“What’s your problem with him?” Hobi asks as he dumps his dinner onto a plate. He prefers to eat it like that, while Yoongi always eats it straight out of the box.

“Don’t have one.”

“You clearly do. I hoped you would get over it after we let him in the band, but you treat him like you’re his probation officer or something.”

Yoongi shakes his head with the air that Hobi’s being completely ridiculous.

“You don’t like him because he’s not Jimin,” Hobi says decidedly.

“That’s not true.” It’s an unexpected accusation, enough that Yoongi doesn’t stop himself before his defensiveness shows through.

“C’mon. You’re as obvious about that as he is about wanting us to like him. I’m sure Namjoon and Taehyung would point it out too, if they weren’t oblivious to almost everything. You’re fortunate they just want to make music and have fun.”

Yoongi shrugs, prompting him to drop the point. Hobi sits back and turns on the TV, flipping through channels for a little while. He’s tired - Yoongi can tell. There are bags under his eyes, delicate little bruises. He was up that morning to go the dance studio before Yoongi had even gone to bed, which isn’t unusual, but has happened multiple times in the past week and seems to be wearing on him. Yoongi knows he won’t say anything, though, and if he hadn’t known Hobi for years he wouldn’t even be able to tell. He wonders how he does it.

“I talked to Jimin after dance practice today,” Hobi says after a few minutes of peaceful TV watching.

Yoongi’s skin prickles uncomfortably, and the bite of noodles he just took turns tasteless in his mouth. “About what?”

Hobi leans forward to place his plate on the coffee table, wipes his hands on his sweatpants. “He’s kind of hurt, I think. That you won’t let him come to practice anymore.”

Yoongi groans. “He can do whatever he wants.”

“I know, but - ”

“Taehyung is caught up on this, and you too?”

“I get why it upsets you,” Hobi says. “Believe it or not, I’m on your side. I don’t think it’s cool of him to want to hang around while we’re practicing. But you might want to make it, like, an official rule or something. Like ‘no guests at practice’ or something like that. So that he doesn’t feel singled out.”

Yoongi sighs impatiently. “Why are you so caught up on other people's feelings?”

Hobi shrugs. “I like Jimin. And now he thinks you hate him.”

“Maybe I do.”

Hobi gives Yoongi a hard look, clearly trying to convey every bit of no-nonsense attitude that he can employ. “I know you don’t.”

“A rule like that doesn’t make sense,” Yoongi says, ignoring him. “No one else comes to our practices. It’d still be singling him out.”

“Just a thought,” Hobi says. “I consider him my closest friend next to you, you know? And I feel bad about the whole thing, about introducing you and bringing him into the band and everything. Although it’s really more Namjoon’s fault for suggesting Taehyung as the drummer - ”

Yoongi holds up a hand to cut off Hobi’s rambling. “Just invite him to practice the next time you see him, then, alright?”

Hobi nods, seemingly satisfied.

“Are we done?”

“Done with what?”

“Is there anyone else I’m being unfair to that you wanna bring up?”

Hobi smiles, aware that Yoongi isn’t being truly hostile. He bumps his own shoulder against Yoongi’s affectionately, shaking his head. “I can’t think of any more.”

“I’m going to finish eating then.”

Hobi stands. “And I’m going to grab a beer, you want one?”

Yoongi says he doesn’t and watches Hobi disappear into the kitchen with a palpable guilt. It’s not unusual for Hobi to call him out on his bullshit like this once in a while, and Yoongi would never admit that he appreciates being kept in check, though he’s sure Hobi can tell. He would also never admit the varying degrees of awful he feels afterwards, which he’s not sure Hobi is aware of. This time, it’s worse than usual. Even as he tries not to, he keeps picturing Jungkook’s face, his unintentionally messy hair, his frustrating doe eyes that make him look like he couldn’t ever have a single bad intention.

Hobi pauses for a moment when he enters the room again, looking at Yoongi, apparently seeing something in his expression. He purses his lips. He comes back to sit on the couch, and Yoongi moves over to make room for him.

“Let’s watch a movie,” Hobi suggests, picking up the remote again.

Chapter Text

“Where’s Jungkook?” Yoongi asks, feeling anxiety begin to claw at him. The bar is loud and close, and it’s dark in the tiny backstage room. Yoongi can hardly see Namjoon sitting on the worn couch across from him in the gloom.

“No idea,” Namjoon says. “He was here a while ago.”

“I know he was,” Yoongi says impatiently. “I’m concerned about where he is now .”

The door to the stuffy room cracks open and Hobi and Taehyung enter, laughing. The sound of live music leaks in behind them, cutting off communication in the room until they close the door. They’re relaxed in a way that makes Yoongi feel even more anxious - Taehyung recounting some piece of narrative from an anime he’s been watching while half giggling.

“Have you guys seen Jungkook?” Yoongi asks, stepping toward them.

Hobi and Taehyung look at each other, then shake their heads simultaneously. “He was right here last time I saw him,” Taehyung says.

“Me too,” Hobi chimes in.

“That's been a while.” Yoongi pulls out his phone to look at the time. The rest of them mostly shrug or turn away, and Yoongi feels annoyed. Hobi and Taehyung’s easy smiles do nothing to lower his irritability.

“Do you have to go light up before every show?” he asks Hobi.

“I light up before everything ,” Hobi corrects him, but quickly becomes more somber when he sees Yoongi isn't in a joking mood. “Maybe you should have, too."

“It's Jungkook's first show with us, we should be at our best.”

“Jungkook's not even here, so why get mad at those of us who are?” Namjoon cuts in.

“We we shouldn't fight,” Hobi says. This ushers in an unhappy silence, Yoongi checking the door for signs of Jungkook frequently.

“Relax, Yoongi,” Hobi says. “The opening act just went on. We still have like half an hour before we need to worry.”

“It’s his first show with us,” Yoongi repeats. “I was hoping we could go over some things beforehand.”

“Maybe he’s out with Jin?” Namjoon suggests. “I can go check.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “I’ll go.” He wants to be the one to find Jungkook so that he can reprimand him in private about running off before the show, but he doesn’t mention that. He’s not sure the others would agree with his methods.

Yoongi pushes out through the scratched and splintered wooden door, and the sound of the music amplifies. He inserts himself uncomfortably into the crowd and starts toward the bar. He sees Jin sitting there right away, his tall figure and broad shoulders standing out against the rest of the bar patrons. As Yoongi gets closer he sees that Jimin is sitting there as well. Yoongi approaches and they turn, and Jimin smiles sweetly. His cheeks are a light pink that hints at intoxication.

“Yoongi,” Jimin croons. “How’s it going?”

Yoongi ignores him and talks to Jin. “Have you seen Jungkook around?”

Jin shakes his head and sets his drink down on the bar, his eyebrows instantly furrowed in concern. “No, I haven’t.”

Yoongi sighs. “Can you try calling him?”

Jin rises to his feet. “Can you not find him?”

Yoongi blinks. “No, that’s why I’m looking.”

Jin unlocks his phone and immediately holds it to his ear, as if Jungkook is the first person he has on speed dial. They wait for a few tense moments until Jin hangs up, shaking his head. “He’s not answering.”

Jimin places a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. His hand is small, and warm, and though Yoongi can’t feel Jimin’s skin through his flannel shirt he knows that it’s soft and smooth like a bar of soap. Yoongi swallows, and resists the urge to shrug his hand off.

“Is everything okay, Yoongi? You look upset.”

Yoongi looks at Jimin. His eyes are dark with worry - he appears genuinely concerned. It makes Yoongi angry, and he wants to ask why Jimin cares. But he just shakes his head and gently starts to turn away.

“I’m not upset,” Yoongi says, although he feels that he is. Upset at Jungkook for going missing at the last moment, upset at himself for wanting Jimin’s hand to stay where it is, for wanting the rest of his body to be just as close. “I just want to find Jungkook.”

“If he’s missing, I’ll look too,” says Jin. He pockets his phone and starts to move away from the bar, but Yoongi shakes his head.

“Just stay here,” Yoongi says. “And call me if you see him, alright?”
Jin looks reluctant, but eventually nods.

Yoongi lets Jimin’s hand fall away as he turns, and he pushes his way through the crowd, stumbling as he’s shoved from all sides. In the mass of people he sees some of their regulars, the individuals who could be called their fans. They’re mostly old classmates of his and Hobi’s, along with some people who happened to be at one of their shows once and kept coming back. He nods to them as he passes by. He thinks there are probably more people there to see Bangtan Sonyeondan than he wouldn’t be able to identify, owing to the article that had run a story about them in a local indie magazine the past month. The band currently playing, Blackpink, has a modest following as well, and must be at least partly responsible for the crowd.

Yoongi is grateful for every person there to see them, pleased that Blackpink has a turn out as well, happy that the indie music scene in their city is getting attention. Yet at the moment it feels more bothersome than anything, trying to locate Jungkook with his dark hair and dark leather jacket in a bar that seems to have forgotten they have a lighting system, and is full of people in dark clothes.

Yoongi starts to feel a tightness in his chest. The world seems too close to him in this bar, and every breath he takes just fills his lungs with stale cigarette smoke trapped in the humid air. If he was Jungkook, he wouldn’t want to be in here. He finds his way to the door, and stumbles outside for relief. He stands there, surveying the city street, and gets the sinking feeling that Jungkook could be anywhere. The street is lined with other bars that are pulsing with music, and there are groups of people wandering down the road, most of them loud and drunk.

As Yoongi is about step into the street to begin looking at random, he feels a hand grip his wrist. He turns around and finds himself face to face with Jimin, too close with his messy pink hair and smudge of smokey eye make up. For a moment, Yoongi can’t speak.

“You’re sweating,” Jimin says, eyeing Yoongi’s forehead. “Are you okay? I know you don’t like crowds.”

Yoongi hates Jimin’s concern, how out of place it seems. “Stop touching me,” he says, twisting his arm to pull his wrist away.

A flicker of hurt crosses Jimin’s face, and his concern morphs into something darker, even volatile. He steps back and crosses his arms over his chest, almost protectively, and Yoongi’s stomach twists.

“You’re too old for this shit, you know that right? You’re immature.” Jimin’s voice has lost it’s sweetness, and adopted an uncharacteristic hardness in its place.

“What are you talking about?”

Jimin scoffs, shaking his head incredulously. “You said you still wanted to be friends”

“We are friends.”

“No, Yoongi, because I don’t waste time on being friends with assholes.”

It’s Yoongi’s turn to scoff. “You’re calling me names, and I’m immature?”

“Yes, you are.” Jimin steps closer again, and Yoongi can smell his cologne, and wants to back away. He feels pathetic. “When we were together you loved pretending like our relationship meant nothing to you, like you could take it or leave it. Then suddenly, when I’m the one to leave it, you’re so hurt and I’m supposed to feel bad?”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t look at Jimin. He focuses on a loose thread on the shoulder of Jimin’s shirt.

“I don’t feel bad,” Jimin says. Yoongi starts to suspect that Jimin is truly drunk, beyond tispy. He doesn’t often let that happen. “You’re only friends with all of us because you’re important to Hoseok. Me and Namjoon, Hobi, Jin - we were making music together before you came along, and you have no right to ask me to stay away from practices.”

The tirade almost seems rehearsed, and Yoongi doesn’t interrupt.

Jimin shakes his head, as if he’s deeply disappointed. “Stop being so bitter, no one wants to be around you.”

In a moment, Jimin is gone, as if he said what he wanted and didn’t care about getting a response. Yoongi feels like he’s been slapped. He realizes his hands are shaking slightly.

“Jungkook,” Yoongi calls hoarsely, because he remembers he came outside with a purpose. He’s not expecting to get a response, but he does.

“Over here,” he hears, from his right. It’s coming from around the side of the building, so he goes to the voice, turning the corner and finding himself in a dark, damp alley. Jungkook is sitting on the ground, his outline just visible in the street lights, his back pressed against the outside wall of the bar.

“Hey,” Jungkook says, a deep blush barely visible in the dimness of the alley. Yoongi wonders if he’s ever not blushing.

“Hey,” Yoongi says through a sigh. Jungkook was essentially just a few feet from where Jimin had confronted him. “So, what did you hear?”

Jungkook looks down, pulls on his shoelaces. “Everything, I think.”

Yoongi puts his hands in his pockets and falls back against the wall, sliding down to sit next to Jungkook. He doesn’t feel the motivation to keep standing. “That’s great.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know.” Yoongi would suddenly like nothing more than to cancel the show, to go home and to bed.

“Now you know what a jerk I am, right? I won’t have to pretend anymore.” He means it to come out as a joke, and tries to smile, but when he looks over Jungkook’s face is grim.

“I’m sure you’re not,” he says.

They sit in silence for a moment, and when Yoongi glances again to Jungkook, he sees the blush fading to leave behind a stark paleness. He remembers his plan to reprimand Jungkook, to lecture him on taking the band more seriously, but no longer feels the urge to carry it out. He mostly feels tired. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

Jungkook draws his knees up to his chest and rests his elbows on them, covering his face with his hands. “I figured,” he says through his fingers.

“You’ve just been out here?”

“Pretty much.”

Jungkook won’t uncover his face, and Yoongi is close enough to hear his uneven breathing, and he forces himself to forget about what just happened with Jimin. “Is something wrong?”

Jungkook shakes his head at first, then stops, and removes his hands enough to look at Yoongi through one eye. “I feel… I don’t know. I just... I don’t think I can do it.”

“Go on stage?”

Jungkook nods mutely.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asks.

“Yes,” Jungkook says. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what it is.”

“It seems like nerves.”

“I don’t get so nervous usually. I really don’t.” It seems like he’s trying to convince Yoongi, but he’s not sure he is. He’s seen a lot of timidity and shyness from Jungkook, and not much else.

“You were nervous when you auditioned.”

“That was - that was just because.” Jungkook looks at him fully for several long moments, with his wide eyes, his dark hair clinging to his neck with sweat.

“Because of what?” Yoongi asks, waving with a cupped hand to prompt him to finish.

Jungkook’s eyes dart away, and he licks his chapped lips, and doesn’t answer.

“You’ll be fine once you get out there,” Yoongi says, trying to sound gentle but feeling a bit desperate. He doesn’t know how to handle this kind of situation, but he knows he doesn’t want them to miss the show. They can’t , it would be a big hit to their reputation, to pull out just minutes before they’re supposed to go on. He thinks about telling Jungkook this to scare him, but again stops when he looks at him. Jungkook looks truly miserable, like he could cry.

“I don’t know.”

“Just try taking deep breaths,” Yoongi says, because it’s what people always say to do. It’s never worked very well for him, but it seems worth a try.

But Jungkook just shakes his head. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I really don’t think I can do it.”

Yoongi feels annoyance that threatens to turn to anger for a brief moment, like an unconscious reflex. He massages his temples and reminds himself that losing his cool won’t solve anything. When he raises his head again he looks at Jungkook, and pauses for a moment. Jungkook isn’t paying attention to him, he’s picking at a hole in his shirt, a Rolling Stones shirt that looks authentically vintage and distressed. And too large for him. When Yoongi looks at it longer he connects it to a memory, an image of Jin wearing it, in the kitchen, standing at the stove. And at one of their shows, in the audience. The leather jacket is recognizable too, from colder days, when Jin would pop down into the basement during practice to tell them he was running to the store.

Jungkook’s not wearing his own clothes. He’s not even wearing weather appropriate clothes, and Yoongi thinks he must be pretty uncomfortable in his leather jacket. His hair looks like he was trying something different, maybe styled to look unstyled, but it has too much product in it. It just looks wet or dirty. Yoongi feels an unexpected stirring sympathy.

“That’s alright,” Yoongi says to Jungkook, who looks like he’s been on the edge of panicking. His eyes are so wide Yoongi can see himself in them.

“Really?” Jungkook says.

Yoongi sighs in defeat. “Sure. If you really don’t want to do it, I won’t make you.”

Jungkook buries his head in his hands again, pulling his fingers through his messy clumps of hair. “I want to do it,” he says. “I just - I don’t know. They’re your songs. I’ve never performed a song in front of the person who wrote it.”

That’s why you’re nervous?” Yoongi asks, half laughing, but Jungkook doesn’t answer him. Yoongi realizes he really isn’t angry at Jungkook, and the thought surprises him. He wants to be angry at him.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. Yoongi reaches out to put a hand on Jungkook’s shoulder, and Jungkook flinches a little.

“It’s fine,” Yoongi says. “I get anxious too. I get it.”

“You do?”

“Sure. I’ve had to sit out of shows before.”

Yoongi isn’t sure why he’s admitting something that not even Hobi knows. They didn’t perform together when he was deeply afflicted by stage fright, and by the time they did Yoongi had gotten control of it. As much as he trusts Hobi, he hasn’t revealed even to him how bad his anxiety was at one point.

Jungkook looks appreciative, but also still like he might burst into tears. “I ruined the show.”

“No you haven’t,” Yoongi says, with a feeling of acute resignation and a little dread washing over him. He lets his lungs empty and fill completely before he speaks again. “I’ll just ask Jimin.”

Jungkook lifts his head slowly, and looks at Yoongi as if he hasn’t heard him. “You’ll what?”

Yoongi rubs at his eyes. He speaks slowly. “Jimin’s here. He knows all our songs. I’ll ask him to step in.”

Jungkook’s mouth is open a little. “You can’t do that.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows. “I think I can.”

“After he was such a dick?”

Yoongi shakes his head, and feels oddly defensive. “Don’t say that,” he says. “You don’t know him.”

“No, I don’t. Based on what I heard, I don’t want to.”

Yoongi is about to reply to defend Jimin again, when he finds that, really, he doesn’t mind so much that Jungkook dislikes Jimin on his behalf. It’s kind of nice.

“Anyway, I do know him, and I know he’ll do it.”

Jungkook still stares at him incredulously.

“Look, I’m not gonna ask him. I’ll ask Taehyung to ask him.” He gives Jungkook what he hopes is a conspiratorial smile and, at last, Jungkook smiles back at him.

Yoongi finally takes his hand off Jungkook’s shoulder and stands up, brushing off his jeans as he does so. He doesn’t like to think what he might have sat in in the dark of the filthy alley. He holds out his hand to Jungkook, who for a moment looks at it as if it’s a foreign object, before taking it. His palm is warm and damp. Yoongi pulls Jungkook to his feet with some difficulty.

“You’re heavy,” Yoongi says.

For a moment they stand facing each other awkwardly, Yoongi with his hands in his pockets, Jungkook in his too big clothes.

“I’ll tell them you weren’t feeling well,” Yoongi says. “And that you went back to your dorm. Jimin will probably even offer to step in, honestly. It’ll be fine.”
Jungkook looks up, and shakes his head slowly. “No, it’s okay. I’ll go on. I’ll sing.”

The change in heart is a little surprising to Yoongi, and he examines Jungkook tentatively. The shaky look is gone from his face, replaced by one that Yoongi doesn’t know Jungkook well enough to place. Maybe determination. “You sure?”

Jungkook nods decidedly. “Sure. It’s like you said, I’ll be fine once I get out there.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “You’re giving me whiplash, kid.”

“Sorry. I know.”

“You’re not gonna like, change your mind again when we get up there, are you?”

Jungkook shakes his head furiously. “I won’t. You shouldn’t have to ask Jimin.”

Yoongi shrugs and lets it go, not wanting to press it further and somehow actually prompt Jungkook to change his mind again. “Let’s go in then. We only have five minutes.”

When they go back inside the bar Blackpink is already off the stage, and Taehyung is starting to set up his drums. Yoongi and Jungkook walk past Jin, who asks a lot of questions about where they’ve been and what happened (“I’m fine, Jin, we have to go on!”), and up to the rest of their band, who don’t ask any at all. There’s not much time, then, to be nervous, before they’re playing.

The anxiety and doubts fade away for Yoongi once they’re performing. They always do. When their set begins, he can always push everything else back and just focus on doing a good job, and it seems like Jungkook is doing the same. He sings without a waver in his voice. Yoongi sees Jin standing in the crowd now smiling proudly, and looks to the bar to find Jimin. He’s at the same seat he was before and turned away, focusing on his drink, not looking at the stage, not even at Taehyung.

Their set is short, as it always is for bands of their caliber. Soon enough they’re finishing up and quickly packing up their equipment so that the next band can go on. They shove everything into the trunk of Namjoon’s van, then Hobi tugs at Yoongi’s sleeve.

“Let’s go back in and get drinks,”

As satisfied as Yoongi feels, he's tired and drained. He glances to where Jimin is standing a few feet away, drunk but somehow still pouting. Every time he looks at Jimin he feels a little sick to his stomach, and doesn't want to deal with that all night.

“I don’t feel like drinking tonight,” Yoongi says.

“Come on, it was a great show,” Taehyung says, his voice loud, an arm slung around Jungkook, who seems to be trying to keep his smile under control.

“Just a shot or two,” Hobi says.

“We’ll stay for a while,” Namjoon, who is driving them all home, decides. “We should listen to the next band.”

So they head inside, a strange mixture of celebratory fervor and tenseness surrounding them. Yoongi thinks that he and Jimin are probably the only ones to notice both. Yoongi sits at the bar between Hobi and Jungkook, and accepts a couple of shots complacently. Yoongi is quiet, and Jungkook is too. On the other side of them Namjoon, Jin and Hobi are discussing the next band, and Jimin has his head on Taehyung’s shoulder.

When the music ends and the final act of the night starts setting up Namjoon launches into another conversation with Jin and Yoongi gets the feeling they still won’t be going home for a while. He resignedly orders another drink and turns to Jungkook, who’s look down at the bar, sort of smiling to himself.

“You should give me your phone number,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook slowly looks up, blinking. “What?”

“You know, your phone number? So if we lose you again I can call you myself. We should all have each other’s numbers, anyway.” He takes a swallow of his drink and lets it burn its way down his throat.

Jungkook nods. “We all should,” he says.

They exchange numbers and Yoongi turns back to his drink, ready to begin the wait until Namjoon is finally ready to take them home. Jungkook seems to have other ideas, though, and bumps Yoongi’s shoulder with his own.

“Hey,” he says. He’s only drinking a Coke, because he has class the next day. “We did good tonight, didn’t we?”

“We did.”

“They all seem happy.” He nods towards their bandmates.

Yoongi shakes his head. “They’re just drunk.” When Jungkook’s expression wavers a little Yoongi amends, “I’m kidding. It was a good show.”

Jungkook nods, satisfied. “I didn’t mess it up. And you didn’t have to ask Jimin to step in.”

“Look,” Yoongi says, turning on his bar stool to face Jungkook fully. “If you don’t like Jimin, I’m all for it, really. But don’t make that decision just because you heard him yell at me. At least get to know him first.”

“I - ” Jungkook pauses, looking abashed. “Okay.”

Yoongi continues to nurse his beer, the monotone chatter of his friends in his ear. The high of the show is wearing down, and the events of the night are catching up with him. He wants to go home.

“Thanks for earlier,” Jungkook says after a moment. His voice is soft, barely audible over the noise of the bar.

“For what?”

“You know, for talking me down. I really appreciate it.”

Yoongi looks at Jungkook briefly. There’s a sweet earnestness in his eyes, that makes Yoongi feel guilty. “I did it for the band,” he says.

“Oh.” Jungkook draws in the condensation on his glass with his forefinger. “Still, thanks.”

The next band is about to start playing, and Jin comes over. He looks between Yoongi and Jungkook, and smiles apologetically. He motions for Jungkook to stand. “Come on, we should go. I have work in the morning, and you have school.”

Jungkook nods and stands up. He and Jin leave with waves, though Jungkook doesn’t look at Yoongi. Yoongi goes back to his drink, until the final band is done with their set and Namjoon decides he’s ready to leave, too.

The car ride home is uncomfortable, with Yoongi feeling that any satisfaction he got from playing a good show has worn away with exhaustion and a strange ache in his chest. Jimin sits in the middle of the back seat, with Taehyung on one side and Yoongi on the other. Since it’s a van it’s not a tight fit, but still too close to Jimin for Yoongi’s comfort. Neither he nor Jimin speak on the ride home, and Yoongi is careful not to let their shoulders touch as the van goes around a corner and they sway.

Hobi is drunk enough that Yoongi holds his elbow as they walk up to their apartment to keep him steady. It seems very quiet away from the clatter of the bar and live music.

“Did you and Jimin have some kind of fight?” Hobi asks, too loud, as Yoongi unlocks the apartment. Yoongi opens the door and drags both his keyboard and Hobi’s bass inside, annoyed.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“He seemed upset. And you guys clearly weren’t speaking.”

“He’s mad at me.”

“What’d you say to him?”

Yoongi closes the door behind him, hard, almost a slam. It’s hot in their apartment, since they turned the air conditioning off when they left.

“Does it have to be me that did something?”
“I didn’t - ”

“You shouldn’t always expect the worst from me,” Yoongi says. “I’m your best friend.”

“I’m sorry - ” Hobi starts to say, but Yoongi waves him off.

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of it,” Yoongi says. “I’m going to bed.”

“Fine then.” Hobi looks exasperated, like he should have known better than to say something. And he should have.

Yoongi goes to his room and shuts the door softly, leaving Hobi alone in the living room, still facing the other way.

Chapter Text

When Yoongi wakes up the next morning, he has has a text from Jungkook. His bedroom is dark, thanks to his heavy curtains, and the incessant blinking of his notification light reflects against the ceiling. Jungkook’s name glows on the screen when Yoongi unlocks his phone, and he opens up the message, sent at 8 that morning. Yoongi checks the time. It’s almost 11. He doesn’t have to work until the evening shift, but Jungkook was probably up for class.

 

Jungkook : Thanks again about last night. Sorry if I was weird ( > _ < ; )

 

Yoongi taps his fingers against the sides of his phone. What’s he supposed to say to that? And what the fuck is that emoticon he used?

 

Yoongi : That emoji is weird, youre ok though

 

Jungkook’s reply comes seconds later.

 

Jungkook: \o/ Do we have practice tonight?

 

Yoongi: Nope, tomorrow

 

Jungkook: See you then :D :D

 

Yoongi tosses his phone aside, and sighs. When he gave Jungkook his number, he didn’t anticipate actually having text conversations with him. He doesn’t enjoy texting. Every time he gets a message these days he wonders for a split second before he checks it if it’s Jimin, even if he hadn’t been thinking about Jimin at all. It makes him feel desperate and a little pathetic. He feels a little desperate and pathetic in general, and he’s starting to get tired of it.

Texting Jungkook also makes their friendship seem one step more advanced, somehow. Like it actually is a friendship, not just a working acquaintanceship. And Yoongi supposes they should be friends. They’re in a band together, they see each other at least twice a week. Jungkook’s only been in the band for a month but already seems close enough to Taehyung, who was also a stranger to him when he joined.

Yoongi gets out of bed and heads to the kitchen, not bothering to put on a shirt. He could hear the opening and closing of cabinet doors and the clinking of utensils from his room, and so isn’t surprised to see Hobi standing at the counter when he rounds the corner.

Hobi turns around and beams when he sees Yoongi. It looks fake.

“You’re awake,” Hobi says. He’s holding a big metal spoon with grains of white rice stuck to it.

“So are you.”

Hobi clicks his tongue. “I’ve been awake for hours. I got up, taught a class at the studio and came back here all while you were getting your beauty rest.”

Yoongi grimaces. “How are you not hungover?”

“Good genes, I guess.”

Yoongi sits down at their small kitchen table, really just a glorified card table, and Hobi turns around fully and looks him up and down.

“You know, you’re getting some good muscle definition lately,” he says. “Maybe even some abs.”

Yoongi shakes his head. He knows Hobi’s not wrong, though. When Yoongi was with Jimin he had been at the gym at least twice a week, in the effort to get into better shape. He hasn’t been since Jimin left, but the muscles stuck around. “I thought you were supposed to be the straight one in this friendship.”

“What, I can’t admire another man’s body? That’s narrow minded of you.” Hobi shakes his head in mock disappointment.

“I think you’re just trying to flatter me and get on my good side.”

“Does that mean I’m on your bad side? You’re mad at me?” Hobi says it as if he’s a detective who’s just solved a case, like he’s been waiting for Yoongi to slip up and reveal sensitive information.

Yoongi sighs. “No. I’m not mad at you.”

“Good. Speaking of nice bodies, have you noticed Taehyung’s arms? Must be all the drumming, but I’m kind of jealous.”

Yoongi just grunts. He wants Hobi to hurry up and get out of the kitchen so that he can make coffee. It’s really too small for both of them to stand in there together.

“Anyway, I made you breakfast,” Hobi says. “Your favorite.”

“You made rice.”
“Isn’t rice your favorite? I went to the trouble just for you.”

Yoongi scoffs. “You really know how to work an instant rice maker, Hoseok.”

Hobi waves his spoon at Yoongi accusingly. A few grains of rice land on the floor. “You are mad at me. You only call me Hoseok when you’re mad at me.”

“Maybe I called you that because it’s your name.”

Hobi shakes his head as if Yoongi is a lost cause, and pulls out a bowl for each of them. He has a dish of tofu, too, and kimchi, and other things that Yoongi isn’t paying attention to as he gets up to make coffee.

Hobi sits, and when Yoongi glances at him he notices a seriousness that isn’t typical of Hobi. “You know, I do actually owe you an apology, Yoongi.”

Yoongi waves his hand, as if to say Go on .

“I should have stuck with you. I’m on your side.”

Yoongi smiles a little, filled with a sudden warm appreciation for Hobi, as he often is. “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

“No, really.” Hobi’s eyes have gotten wide. “Did you know Jimin booked a show for us to open for Big Bang, right before he quit the band? To open for them? He just told me that this morning, at the dance studio.”

“He booked a show and didn’t tell us?” Yoongi feels himself getting angry, though unrelated to his personal issues with Jimin. He hates not knowing about shows as far in advance as possible, not being able to prepare as much as he can.

“It’s still a few months out. But opening for our arch nemesis?”

“For yours.”

“Admit it. Bangtan Sonyeondan and Big Bang are mortal enemies. We always have been.”

“We don’t have to do it, then.”

Hobi sighs. “No, we should. It’s at the Blackstone.”

Yoongi nods. The Blackstone is an actual venue, not just a bar. Several hundred people can fit in there, and if Big Bang is playing then it will probably be full.

“They must not hate us as much as you hate them,” Yoongi says. “If they’re willing to let us play a venue like that with them.”

“I think their drummer just has a crush on Jimin.”

Yoongi grunts. That’s a thing that Hobi does - he won’t refer to anyone in Big Bang by their actual name. It’s all “the drummer”, or “the guitarist”. And not “the vocalist” but just “the singer”.

“I get the sense this is less about you being on my side, and more of a Big Bang thing,” Yoongi says.

Hobi laughs. Yoongi turns back to his coffee, watching it drip into the pot with impatience.

“Jimin also told me he was a jerk to you last night,” Hobi says, his voice lower. Yoongi is taken aback by the abrupt change in subject and tries to wrap his head around it.

“What did he say?” Yoongi feels like he has to ask, but he’s not sure he even wants to know.

“Just that he regrets what he said to you.” Hobi keeps his eyes on Yoongi, clearly curious about what exactly was said. Yoongi has no intent of letting him know. He remembers, with a repressed cringe, that Jungkook had heard. That was bad enough, though when he thinks about it he’s not worried that Jungkook will tell anyone else.

“Nice for Jimin to apologize to someone about it.” Yoongi pours his coffee into a mug, frowning when some splashes onto the counter around it.

“He seemed genuine, Yoongi.”

Yoongi is suddenly reluctant to return to the table and sit with Hobi. He won’t if it means being held captive for this kind of a conversation.

“I really don’t want to talk about Jimin any more,” Yoongi says firmly, trying to look Hobi in the eye to let him know he’s serious. Thankfully, Hobi seems to understand. He mimes locking his lips and tossing away the key. Yoongi nods at him approvingly and throws away his coffee grounds, turning back to the table when he’s cleaned up.

When Yoongi sits back down he observes an overcast look on Hobi’s face, though he wants to think it’s just for show. Yoongi lets himself give up the game - after all, he’s not actually mad.

“So, last night,” Yoongi starts, wanting to breathe some life back into their conversation.

“What about last night?” Hobi asks, somewhat cautiously.

“Jungkook was freaking out,” Yoongi says, satisfied when Hobi immediately looks up. Yoongi feels a bit bad about serving up Jungkook’s drama instead of his own, but he could have predicted that revealing that piece of juicy information would be enough to get Hobi’s attention and get his mind away from Jimin.

“He was?” Hobi asks, and Yoongi nods. “Come to think of it, you never did tell me where he was after he went missing.”

“He was hiding outside in an alley.”

Hobi looks intrigued. “Was he scared about singing?”

“He said he was nervous about performing my songs in front of me.”

“Poor kid,” Hobi says, taking a large mouthful of rice and talking around it. “He’s intimidated by you.”

“I’m not intimidating.”

“He seems to think that you are.”

Yoongi sips at his coffee, still hot enough to burn his tongue a little. He can admit that he’s not the easiest person to get along with, and maybe not even the kindest sometimes. He knows himself well enough for that. He wouldn’t call himself intimidating though. He doesn’t want to be intimidating, especially not to Jungkook, who seems like his feelings could be bruised as easily as a soft peach.

“From his point of view you probably look so cool. In a band, badass black clothes all the time, and you already have a music degree.”

Yoongi shakes his head, unconvinced. “He just has some stage fright.”

“Nope. Jin once dragged me to a musical Jungkook was in during high school, and he seemed just fine.”

“Well, he was just fine last night too, when we went on.”

“Believe what you want,” Hobi says, picking up Yoongi’s mug to take a sip of coffee without permission.

“Look,” Yoongi says, unlocking his phone and showing Hobi his text conversation with Jungkook from earlier. “Would someone who’s intimidated by me send me so many dumb emojis?”

Hobi smiles softly when he reads the texts, his eyes almost twinkling. “You know, he’s really growing on me. He’s cute.”

“Two grinning faces?” Yoongi says, pointing at Jungkook’s last text. “He’s desperate, like I said. It’s like he doesn’t have friends at university.”

Hobi frowns, a particularly distasteful expression that he normally saves for when Yoongi’s being intolerable. “He doesn’t have friends, Yoongi.”

Yoongi pauses with a piece of tofu nearing his mouth. “What do you mean?”

“He’s had a hard time fitting in at university, or he doesn’t get along with his dorm mates. Something like that. It’s all Jin has been talking about for months. Do you listen?”

Yoongi chooses to ignore the question. “Taehyung is his friend. I saw them playing Pokemon Go the other night.”

“Taehyung is everyone’s friend. Taehyung is your friend.”

Yoongi shrugs, because he’s not wrong. As strange as it seems, as much as he doesn’t want to, he likes Taehyung. He even sees why Jimin would be as infatuated with Taehyung as he seems.

“Apparently it’s bad enough that Jungkook was thinking about dropping out and moving back to his parents’ town,” Hobi continues. “Jin offered to let him live at his house and commute from there. He started doing that about a month ago so that he can take summer classes, and he’s going to continue it into the fall.”

“I didn’t know that,” Yoongi says grudgingly, looking down with an uncomfortable twinge of guilt. They practice at Jin’s house a few times a week, and Yoongi had been under the impression that Jungkook was still living at his dorm. The emojis in Jungkook’s text grin up at him accusingly.

Hobi continues to muse, apparently unaware of Yoongi’s guilt. “I almost think I know how Jin feels. It’s like Jungkook could be my little brother too, you know what I mean?” Hobi looks at Yoongi, waiting for a response, but Yoongi says nothing.

All he can really think of is Jungkook’s smile, the way his eyes crinkle around the edges. It makes him look every bit the freshman he is. He’s over eager to the point of being a bit off putting, sure, but Yoongi doesn’t think it’s any reason for him to go friendless, let alone force him to think of dropping out of school. Yoongi almost doesn’t believe Hobi, because Jungkook just seems too friendly and carefree to have such a depressing fact associated with him. The thought makes him uncomfortable enough that Yoongi decides, in case it’s true, he’ll try to keep some of his more unpleasant judgements about Jungkook to himself.

 

Yoongi’s sympathy for Jungkook lasts about a week and a half, through two more practices and a show that comes up for them suddenly. This time, their performance goes on without a hitch, and if Jungkook is nervous Yoongi only notices it in the deep breathes he takes right before they go on. Somehow it seems in the span of just two weeks Jungkook’s voice has improved even more, and Yoongi would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little bit impressed.

His new gentle feelings toward Jungkook are disrupted one Thursday evening while he sits at work. It’s raining outside and there isn’t a single customer in the shop, the kind of night that makes Yoongi wonder why he’s working at all. His phone vibrates in his pocket and he pulls out it, expecting a text from Hobi asking him to pick up a snack when he leaves work. He sees immediately that the text is instead from Jungkook.

 

Jungkook : I can’t come to practice today, maybe not next week either D:

 

Yoongi feels sudden frustration. They have a show in just over two weeks, and it’s Thursday now. If Jungkook can’t make a single practice that’s one thing, but the whole week?

 

Yoongi : Why not

 

Jungkook : I’m really sorry ): ):

 

Yoongi : ??

 

Jungkook : I’m not doing great in my math class and I need to study ;_;

 

Yoongi looks down at the screen disapprovingly, pursing his lips. Great fucking time for Jungkook to let him know. He picks up a pencil sitting beside him and starts to tap it, wobbling it in his finger to let it slam against the counter over and over.

 

Yoongi : What kind of math?

 

Jungkook : I dunno like derivatives and integrals and stuff

 

Yoongi runs his hands through his hair, pushing it back from his forehead. In reality, this shouldn’t even be a problem. It’s summer time - Jungkook should be on break like every other university student.

 

Yoongi : What if I tutored you?

 

Jungkook : You’re a math tutor? :O

 

Yoongi : I have a math degree. Do you think it would help?

 

Jungkook : That would be so nice of you! You don’t have to though OTL

 

Yoongi shakes his head. It’s a dirty solution, but the best he can think of at the moment.

 

Yoongi : We really have to practice if were going to play new stuff at our next show

 

Jungkook : I understand, what time is good for you?

 

Jungkook’s replies come so fast that Yoongi barely has time to think about what he’s agreeing to. He sort of wants to tell Jungkook to study now, instead of paying such close attention to his phone.

 

Yoongi : We’re supposed to practice tomorrow, alright if I come to Jin’s a few hours early and do it then?

 

Jungkook : Yes!

 

Yoongi puts his phone down on the counter with a sigh, thinking the matter settled. He has the entire day off tomorrow and wanted to focus on a new song he’s been working on. He just hopes he can quickly solve whatever issue Jungkook is having with his math class. His phone vibrates again.

 

Jungkook : Thanks so much by the way, I really appreciate it (> ^_^ )>

 

Yoongi opens up a browser on his work computer and replicates the latest emoji Jungkook has sent him. Hugging face , the results tells him . Yoongi groans.

 

Jungkook : See you tomorrow!

 

Yoongi : No problem, see you

 

The rain continues to pound against the windows to the store, like tiny rocks hitting the glass. He lets it lull him into feeling a bit sorry for himself, for the situation he’s in. He knows he’s not the best teacher, and surprises himself by worrying about letting his frustration come across too strongly. Thankfully, Jungkook seems to be so oblivious to that kind of thing, he’ll probably be fine.

 

“So how bad is it? Your math situation?” Yoongi asks the next day after Jungkook has led him somewhat awkwardly to his room and they’ve sat down at his desk.

Jungkook his puts his elbows on his desk and rests his face in his hands, remaining quiet.

“Seriously, tell me,” Yoongi says.

“I’m basically failing.” Jungkook’s cheeks are visibly red behind his fingers. Yoongi sits back, letting the words sink in.

“That is bad,” he says.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Yoongi sighs. Maybe it wasn’t the best question to start out with. He doesn’t want Jungkook to get discouraged before they’ve even started.

“Well, what exactly are you having trouble with?” he asks.

“Kind of everything,” Jungkook says, a faint whine in his voice.

Shit. Yoongi tries to decide where to go from there. He wouldn’t have known that Jungkook had moved into Jin’s not long ago. The room looks  lived in, from the Pokemon plushies on the shelves to the clothes strewn across the floor. Jungkook’s desk is so packed that there's hardly room for them both to sit there. Yoongi notices some trophies on the floor in the corner, that look like they’re for bowling.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, with his head lifted and looking at Yoongi anxiously now. “I really should have cleaned up more. I’ve just been trying to figure out this integral stuff all morning - ”

“I don’t mind it,” Yoongi says with a shrug. The awkwardness of the situation and Jungkook’s anxiety is making him uncomfortable, and he wants to break the tension. “It’s nice of Jin to let you live here.”

“I feel bad for taking up his spare room,” Jungkook says, his voice slow with uncertainty.

“I’m sure he likes having you around,” Yoongi says. He reaches across Jungkook to pick his calculus textbook up off of the desk, his shoulder brushing against Jungkook’s as he does so. Yoongi begins flipping through the book idly. It’s been a long time since he took his introductory calculus course, but he thinks about it with fondness. Math holds comfort for him, the rules and expectations that are firmly laid and time tested.

“How come you didn’t take this in the spring?” Yoongi asks.

Jungkook is quiet for a moment, running his finger along the edge of the desk. “I did, but I failed it,” he says, his voice soft. Yoong looks over at Jungkook, and sees that his expression is pinched, as if he’s in pain. “You’d find out eventually.”

Yoongi laughs a little and looks back to the book. “That’s dramatic, it doesn’t matter to me,” he says. “Where are you?”
Jungkook gently pushes Yoongi’s hands away to handle the book himself, turning to a chapter near the middle.

“Integration and integration techniques,” Yoongi reads.

“I was doing alright until here,” Jungkook groans. “At least, I wasn’t failing.”

“We’ll start with integration by parts, then,” Yoongi says, opting not to offer any encouraging words. After all, he’s still not certain how inept Jungkook actually is, or if he’ll be able to fix it. He sort of has to, but doesn’t let himself think about what it would mean for their next show if he doesn’t. He reaches into his backpack to pull out a notebook, along with one of his own calculus textbooks and notes.

“By the way,” Jungkook said. “I thought you had a music degree? I didn’t know you did math.”

“I had a double major,” Yoongi says. “The math degree was a backup, in case the music thing doesn’t work out.”

Jungkook nods. “So you’re kind of a genius, then?”

Yoongi laughs, sort of pleased by how genuine Jungkook sounds. There’s no hint of a joke in his voice. “No, I’m not a genius.”

“I’m not good at school,” Jungkook says. “My major classes are difficult enough, without having requirements like this. Though it’s smart to have a backup.” He glances over quickly, and Yoongi gets the distinct feeling that Jungkook is nervous. He remembers what Hobi said about Jungkook being intimidated by him. Though he was unwilling to believe it, it’s not often that Hobi is wrong about something like that.

“I might need a backup soon,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook looks over at him. “Really?” He seems interested, although Yoongi can’t tell if that’s because he actually is, or just because he wants to put off studying for as long as he can.

“I thought I’d be able to make money off my own music by now,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t like to say it, but a part of him hopes that, if Jungkook really is intimidated by him, admitting something personal might help. That’s how you gain someone’s trust, right? It’s the kind of thing that Hobi would do.

“Jin says you’ve sold songs, though,” Jungkook says. “That’s cool.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “I sell a song every once in a while, but it’s not much.”

Jungkook waves him away dismissively, becoming bolder. “There’s the band, too. Taehyung says you’ve been scouted for a record deal before.

“Taehyung loves saying that,” Yoongi says. “There’s been scouts at a couple of our shows before, but none have reached out.”

Jungkook is leaning on one hand, looking at Yoongi fully, in a way that’s suddenly a bit disarming. Yoongi looks back at the textbook, at the description of L’Hopital’s Rule. He pretends to be reading over it, although Jungkook’s class isn’t there yet.

“Your music is amazing,” Jungkook says. “So I’m sure you won’t have to wait much longer. Don’t become a math teacher yet, or anything.”

Yoongi offers him a quick smile. “Thanks, Jungkook.”

“I’m serious,” Jungkook says. “I hope you keep making music for a long time. And that the band goes on for a long time, too.”

Yoongi shifts, pulling the textbook closer to him, and points to the page. “Let’s do some calculus now,” he says.

 

Three hours later, Yoongi can tell that Jungkook is only continuing because he’s too polite to ask if they can stop. He has a hand pressed against his forehead, his eyes are a little bloodshot, and he looks vaguely sick.

“I was going to suggest we try another word problem, but the guys should be here in a few minutes,” Yoongi says, checking his watch for show. He studies Jungkook closely, satisfied when he sighs in relief and lets his head fall on the table.

“Every time I do this stuff, it feels like my brain is melting,” Jungkook says.

Yoongi leans down to pack his book and notepaper into his bag, feeling like he’s back in school. “You’re progressing though,” he says.

Jungkook lifts his head a little. “Really?”

Yoongi nods. “You should be able to pass your quiz on Friday, especially if we keep this up.”

“You’d keep tutoring me?” Jungkook sounds a bit stunned.

“Sure,” Yoongi says. “Your class is only a couple more months, right? When you pass this time, you’ll be done with it forever.”

“Done with it forever,” Jungkook echoes. His eyes, which had gone slightly vacant, pop back up to meet Yoongi’s. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”

“I don’t mind helping you,” Yoongi says evenly.

Oddly enough, he doesn’t. Jungkook isn’t a bad student, despite his visible struggle. He doesn’t let his frustration show through, and takes Yoongi’s instructions with grace. Yoongi half suspects that Jungkook just needs the motivation to really study, and he’ll be fine. Retaking a class multiple times seems painful to Yoongi, so he’s willing to do what he can to make sure that doesn’t have to happen.

The doorbell rings, and Yoongi can hear Taehyung’s booming voice from the entryway, as Jin greets him. Jungkook and Yoongi get up, stretching their sore backs from hours of hunching over calculus problems, and go to join the others.

Taehyung’s eyebrows raise when he sees Yoongi and Jungkook. “Hey guys,” he says. “What’s up?”

“Yoongi was helping me study for my math quiz,” Jungkook says immediately. “Did you know he had a math degree?”
“I didn’t know that,” Taehyung says. “I don’t know much about Yoongi.” As he says it he smiles at Yoongi little, almost teasingly, but his eyes are warm. Yoongi notices that Taehyung’s green highlights have faded, leaving behind a straw colored blond. He has a six pack in one hand.

Hobi gets there next and they head down to the basement where, this time, Yoongi shares in Hobi’s joint. He feels pleasantly relaxed by the time Namjoon finally arrives, running down the stairs and saying he lost track of time grading papers for the literature class he’s a TA for over the summer. Jungkook looks at Yoongi and smiles before they begin to play and Yoongi returns it, his attention suddenly caught up by the white of Jungkook’s teeth and the fullness of his lips.

The new songs they’ve been practicing for their next show are a bit heavier and Jungkook sings even those prettily. He sounds good when his voice goes raspy and breaks, when he raises it to the point almost of yelling. It figures he could adapt to anything, even something grungy and seemingly unlike him in sound.

Yoongi stops them as usual throughout the practice to give suggestions and adjustments, but when they’re done his pulls his hands off his keyboard and says, “Good job,” and finds he’s mostly talking to Jungkook.

“Good job,” Taehyung echoes while Hobi scoffs and says, “Is that it? No admonishments? Are you getting soft, Yoongi?”

Yoongi waves him off and goes to the couch, sitting down and waiting for when he knows Hobi will come back over and want to smoke again.

Namjoon leans with a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder as he remains behind his drum set. “Shall we discuss our setlist for next week?”

“Let’s discuss ,” Hobi says, leaning his bass against a wall and joining Yoongi on the couch.

“I’m gonna get a snack, then I’ll be right back down,” Jungkook says and bounds up the stairs, taking them two at a time, as if he’s just been waiting to be released so he can do so. It occurs to Yoongi that the whole afternoon he’s been with Jungkook, they didn’t stop to eat once. It’s not unusual for Yoongi himself, but he thinks that Jungkook might have been quietly suffering.

“What are you smiling about?” Hobi asks, pushing his shoulder against Yoongi’s.

“Nothing.”

“How was the math tutoring? Must have gone well if he could come to practice.”

“It was fine,” Yoongi says. “I don’t think he’s as bad as he let on.”

“Did you hear,” Taehyung says loudly, turning to Namjoon and smiling a little as if he’s in on a joke. “Yoongi is tutoring Jungkook in math now.”

“So that he can make practices,” Yoongi says.

Namjoon blinks slowly, feigning surprise. “How much did he have to pay you to get you to do something like that?”

Yoongi accepts the pass off of Hobi’s newly lit joint, inhaling deeply before he gives a response. “He’s not paying me. I can do something nice once in a while.”

Namjoon continues his game of acting shocked, turning to Taehyung again. “Did you know that? He can do something nice?”

“I think he has a soft spot for Jungkook,” Taehyung says.

“Who among us doesn’t?” Hobi asks musingly.

Jungkook reenters the basement, his footfalls loud, a sandwich in one hand. He takes a bite immediately before speaking, his words a little muffled.

“Jin says you guys are smoking too much down here. He’s taste testing new recipes and the smell is disturbing his palate.”

Hobi closes up his stash pointedly, and Jungkook comes to join them on the couch as he finishes his sandwich. It’s a bit of a tight fit with three people, and Yoongi is stuck in the middle, his shoulder against Hobi’s and his knee against Jungkook’s. He can feel Jungkook turn toward him, and the gentle movement of his shoulders as he laughs.

“What?” Yoongi asks.

“Your pupils are huge,” Jungkook says. His voice is soft.

“Everyone’s making fun of me today,” Yoongi says, but he’s not really annoyed. In fact, he feels almost content.

Chapter Text

It’s Taehyung’s idea to go to their local amusement park one Saturday a few weeks later. He suggests it as they’re wrapping up practice, and Jungkook’s eyes brighten like light bulbs.

“Sure, why not?” Namjoons says. “We can pre game before we head over there.”

Yoongi and Hobi exchange a glance. Neither of them particularly likes amusement parks. Hobi doesn’t like the rides, and Yoongi doesn’t like the crowds, or the noise. When Namjoon mentions drinking, though, Yoongi can see Hobi’s expression change, and knows he’s drawn into the idea of making it into a party.

Yoongi’s about to say he’ll pass, maybe give the excuse that he has to work the next day, or that he doesn’t have enough money. Before he can speak, Jungkook is at his side.

“Sounds like fun, right?”

Yoongi decides not to lie. “Not really.”

“You don’t like rides?”

“I don’t really like anything about amusement parks.”

Jungkook dims, the disappointment frustratingly visible on his face.

“C’mon Yoongi,” says Hobi. “We can just hang out, and get shitfaced.”

Yoongi is about to say that idea doesn’t sound appealing either, but Taehyung breaks in with, “It’s like those team building exercises that big companies do. But for our band. We can bond and stuff.”
Taehyung looks almost as eager as Jungkook, like they might as well be clasping each other’s hands and jumping up and down in anticipation.

Yoongi looks at Jungkook again. “Sure, fine.”

 

They go first to Namjoon’s stuffy on campus graduate dorm a few blocks away, because Jin is at work late into the evening and Jungkook says he feels weird hosting a party at his house alone. They all chuckle at the word “party”, but drink heavily from Namjoon’s various bottles of liquor. Yoongi only takes a few shots, and waits patiently as the others drink to their own satisfaction. Taehyung and Namjoon fill water bottles with a mixture of vodka and Sprite.

Yoongi shakes his head. “It’s like you guys are still in college,” he says.

Namjoon holds his arms out to gesture around him. “I live in a dorm.”

“What would your students think of you?” Hobi asks.

Jungkook laughs at them, and drinks more. He seems to be glowing, an infectious and childlike happiness radiating off of him. He listens to their conversations and smiles along but doesn’t say much, reminding Yoongi that he’s still technically the new one in their group. He wonders if Jungkook feels it too.

Yoongi and Hobi leave the dorm ahead of everyone else to go outside and smoke a little. Yoongi thinks that if he’s going to go to an amusement park he might as well get mildly high and drunk beforehand. Once they’re joined by the others they head for the train station, and Yoongi finds himself walking next to Jungkook, who is continuing to take sips from Taehyung and Namjoon’s drinks when offered.

“So what do you like so much about amusement parks?” Yoongi asks.

Jungkook turns to him, his eyes alight as if he’s been waiting for the question. “I like everything. The roller coasters, anything that goes fast.”

He’s talking quickly, and trips over his words a little. Yoongi briefly wonders how used to drinking he is.

“Maybe I’ll go on a roller coaster with you,” Yoongi says, feeling adequately loosened up himself.

“You will?” Jungkook asks, in awe as if had Yoongi offered to buy him a car.

“I said maybe.”

When they get through the amusement park gates Jungkook and Taehyung go straight for the food, the cotton candy and the hot dogs and the pretzels. The rest of them stand and wait, unsure of what to do first. Yoongi is high enough now to feel dizzy and mildly confused, but the upside was that it makes the amusement park seem bearable, even fun. Everything that would normally seem too fast is slower, the spinning of the rides and the blinking of the rainbow of lights.

Jungkook and Taehyung return to the group holding ice cream cones, licking the drips down the side.

“Let’s just wait here for Jimin,” Namjoon says, gesturing toward the amusement park gate.

“Jimin’s coming?” Jungkook asks curiously, the very question that was on Yoongi’s mind.

“I texted him back at Namjoon’s place,” Taehyung says, looking up at Yoongi through his bangs. “It felt weird not to invite him.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Yoongi says with a shrug.

Jimin joins them not long after, his pink hair somehow even brighter when surrounded by the sea of colors on all sides. He throws his arms around Taehyung as if they’ve been apart for years. Yoongi looks away, to see Jungkook approaching him from the side, the remnants of his ice cream cone clutched in one hand.

Jungkook holds the cone out to Yoongi. “Here,” he says.

Yoongi thinks it’s a strange gesture, but doesn’t have enough of a reason to refuse, so he takes it for one lick and hands it back. The sticky sweet flavor of vanilla explodes on his taste buds.

“Let’s go for the rides!” Taehyung yells, drunk and overly enthusiastic.

The summer air swims around them as they walk through the park, filled with the sweet smell of cotton candy and the abrasive screaming of school children. Taehyung’s voice joins their cacophony as the entrance for the first roller coaster comes into view. He’s gripping Jimin’s hand, tugging him toward the ride with a frenzied excitement that Yoongi knows Jimin doesn’t share. He’s scared of rides, but Yoongi notices he follows along behind Taehyung willingly enough.

“This one?” Jungkook asks Yoongi hopefully, but he shakes his head.

“I’ll go with you, Jungkook,” Namjoon offers, coming up behind them. Without further convincing, Jungkook starts toward the line behind Taehyung and Jimin.

“We’ll wait for you guys here,” Hobi says, slinging an arm loosely around Yoongi’s shoulders. When they’re out of sight, Hobi reaches into his pocket and pulls out something small and white in color, waving it in Yoongi’s face.

“Do you know what this is?” Hobi asks, his voice a pitch too high.

“No.”

“Some LSD I got last week. Do you wanna drop acid?”

Yoongi blinks, absorbing the sentence, then pulls away from Hobi to face him full on. “What? No, no thanks.”

“Really?” Hobi’s eyebrows are knit together like he had expected a different answer, though Yoongi wasn’t sure why he would have. “Why not?”

“Because, here, Hobi? Really?”

“What’s wrong with it?”

Yoongi gestures around himself, as if that alone could explain his answer. “I’d freak out. You’ll freak out.”

“C’mon Yoongi, I don’t want to do it alone.”

“Then don’t do it at all.”

Hobi raises his eyebrows, gives Yoongi that particular pleading look that he knows is halfway between ridiculous and endearing. “Give me a reason why not.”

Yoongi is starting to feel annoyed and jumpy, and he doesn’t like it. The conversation feels oddly confrontational to him. Where at first he was feeling relaxed, the noise and movement around him is starting to become overwhelming without warning.

“Because Jungkook - ” He trails off, angry, without any real sense of what he had been trying to say.

“What about Jungkook?” Hobi asks, shaking his head a little.

“What would he think, you know?”

Hobi runs a hand through his hair, looking a bit confused now, as if the topic has gotten away from him. Yoongi drops his head into his hands, rubbing his eyes roughly. “I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” Hobi says.

Yoongi continues rubbing his eyes, shaking his head. “I don’t know. I feel weird.”

Hobi claps his hand on Yoongi’s shoulder confidently. “You’re just high. I’ll let it go, alright?”
Yoongi nods and looks up at Hobi, who appears satisfied. Yoongi wanders away from him to go to one of the concession stands for a cup of water, thinking to himself that he probably is too high. His heart is pounding and he feels a strange nervousness lingering in his limbs. When he heads back to Hobi, the others have returned from the ride. Time seems strange again, stretched out, while also moving too quickly.

From there they move on from ride to ride for a while, Yoongi ruminating on the fact that doesn’t seem to be having as much fun as his friends anymore. Hobi mostly talks at him as they walk or while they wait for everyone to go on a ride, but Yoongi finds he’s having a hard time concentrating on the words. Having multiple substances coursing through his blood stream seems like more of a bad idea as the night goes on, but mostly just because it’s making him so tired. He remembers why he normally opts to stay sober. These things just don’t seem to have the same effect on him as they do on his friends, and he just wants to sleep.

“Jimin wants to go on the bumper boats,” Taehyung announces to the group sometime later.

“Sounds like fun,” Namjoon says, taking a sip from his alleged water bottle.

“What are you going to do?” Jungkook asks, turning to Yoongi.

“Not sure. Walk around more I guess?” Yoongi looks to Hobi as if for confirmation, and he nods.

“Maybe I could come with you guys?” Jungkook says.

“Really?” Hobi raises his eyebrows. “You might be bored.”

“C’mon Jungkook,” Taehyung says. “You’re the most fun to go on rides with.” His voice is even louder when he’s drunk. Yoongi catches Jimin elbowing Taehyung in the side.

“It’s alright,” Jungkook says. “I’d rather just hang out and get something else to eat right now.” He holds out his hand for a sip from Namjoon’s drink, even though Yoongi thinks Jungkook’s speech seems slow and slightly slurred, probably a sign that he’s intoxicated enough.

They part ways with the promise to meet back up in an hour or so, Yoongi and Jungkook following after Hobi as he heads into the crowd. Yoongi brings up the rear, watching Jungkook’s back as he walks. His hair is extra glossy under the amusement park lights, his shoulders are wider than Yoongi had previously noticed. It’s not long until Jungkook is turning his head toward a line of concession stands, his eyes bright, as if he’s on the hunt and has just caught scent of his prey.

“Be right back,” Jungkook says, dashing off to toward a stand selling slices of pizza.

“Do you think he’s had too much to drink?” Yoongi asks Hobi.

“Don’t know.”

Yoongi looks to Hoseok for the first time in a while, having been distracted by Jungkook. He looks washed out, a thin sheen of sweat layered on top of his skin.

“Hey, you okay?” Yoongi asks.

Eyes slightly unfocused, Hobi grasps Yoongi’s arm. “You better go on a ride with that kid, Yoongi.”

Yoongi squirms. “What, with Jungkook? Why?”

Yoongi sees Hobi swallow, hears it. “It’s important to him, seriously.”

“This hurts,” Yoongi whines, pulling his arm away from Hobi’s unusually strong grasp. “What’s with you?”

Hobi’s eyes finally meet Yoongi’s own, and they’re glassy, as if he’s somewhere else.

“Fuck,” Yoongi says. “You took it, didn’t you? The acid?”

Hobi swallows again, and shrugs. “I might have.”

“Shit, Hoseok,” Yoongi says. “Not cool.”

“Why not? I didn’t make you take it, did I?”

“You have no idea how it will affect you. You don’t consider that I’m the one who has to look after you!”

“Something wrong?” Jungkook asks, suddenly standing at Yoongi’s side, making him jump and his heart race.

“Just Yoongi,” Hobi says vaguely. “He gets anxious when he smokes.”

Jungkook turns his wide eyes to Yoongi, in the middle of a bite of his slice of pizza. Yoongi crosses his arms over his chest. Hobi’s right - the weed, the crowd, it all makes him anxious. But what he notices is that Jungkook’s eyes trailing him with concern makes his heart jump more than anything else.

Jungkook pulls out a familiar looking plastic water bottle and downs the rest of the liquid in it as he finishes his pizza.

“Is that Namjoon’s?” Yoongi asks.

Jungkook nods. “He left it with me since he was going on rides.”

“And you finished it,” Yoongi says. “How much have you had to drink?”

“Don’t know,” Jungkook says, and he puts a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder to lean against him. His palm is warm, and Yoongi’s mouth feels dry.

“You get drunk often?” Yoongi asks.

“Never,” Jungkook says. He laughs a little, leans into Yoongi more. “This is really fun, though.”

Yoongi looks to Hobi to give him an “I told you so” expression, but he’s watching the swing ride with his mouth hanging slightly open.

“Do you guys want to go on the Ferris wheel?” Jungkook asks. His bangs are sticking to his forehead, and he’s grinning.

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says.

“How about you, Hoseok?”

They both turn to look at Hobi, who doesn’t respond until Yoongi nudges him in the side. He turns to them with a questioning look.

“The ferris wheel?” Jungkook asks again, a little uncertainty to his voice this time.

Hobi nods absently. “Alright, sure.”

Jungkook leads the way, listing to the side every once in a while. Yoongi rubs at his temples, sort of wanting to walk off and go home alone, but at the same time wanting to make sure that Jungkook doesn’t get into any trouble.

By the time they’re standing underneath the ferris wheel, Yoongi can hear Hoseok’s breathing roughly in his ear. There’s a sheen of sweat on the back of his neck, and he’s looking around at everything as if he can’t see enough at once.

“Let's get in line,” Jungkook says.

Hobi shakes his head quickly. “No - I can’t.”

Jungkook tilts his head, blinking slowly. “Why not?”

Instead of answering, Hobi places a hand firmly between Yoongi’s shoulder blades, pushing him toward the ride and Jungkook. “I really can’t do that right now,” Hobi says.

Yoongi turns around to scowl at Hobi, about to say something when he feels Jungkook slot his hand into Yoongi’s own. For a moment, Yoongi freezes up, unable to remember what he was about to say or do. Jungkook’s skin has that same soft warmth to it, and it’s a little sticky. He tugs on Yoongi’s hand gently.

“C’mon Yoongi,” he says. “Let’s go.”

“I’ll just wait here,” Hobi tells them as Yoongi allows himself to be pulled toward the ferris wheel, Hobi’s pleas that Yoongi go on a ride with Jungkook echoing in his mind.

As they approach a group of people lined up to get on the ride Yoongi wiggles his fingers to pull his hand free, and Jungkook says nothing. The line is fairly long so they wait for a while, not saying much. Jungkook is fidgety, and seems to be having trouble collecting his thoughts whenever he does speak. Eventually they’re being ushered onto the ride, and they’re sitting side by side in the open seat with a safety bar pressed down in their laps, locking them in place.

“Are you still anxious?” Jungkook asks when they’re seated, turning to look at Yoongi.

“I never was,” Yoongi say. “Hoseok was just saying that.” Even as he says it he has that jittery feeling sitting here beside Jungkook, the same he tends to get these days when they’re in Jungkook’s room alone practicing calculus.

“I am,” Jungkook says, as the ride starts to move and they’re lifted into the air. Yoongi swings his legs back and forth a little as the ground drops out from under them.

“You’re what?”
“I’m anxious. That’s - it’s why I’ve been drinking so much tonight.”

Yoongi looks over to Jungkook. His expression is wide open, as if Yoongi can suddenly see all of him right there on that ferris wheel. It’s a little disarming. Behind Jungkook, from their lofty new vantage point, the lights of the city glitter beyond a line of trees. Yoongi can see a train snaking its way back toward the high rises and congestion of the city.

“What’s wrong, then?” Yoongi asks, because he understands it’s the question to ask at this point.

Jungkook swallows, more than once, before he continues. “I just - it’s hard to think now,” Jungkook says. He laughs a little, and rubs his head. “I’m dizzy.”

“You really drank too much,” Yoongi says.

“I just really like you,” Jungkook says, his words quick, blurted out as soon as Yoongi’s sentence is finished.

The ride stops moving. They’re almost at the top. Jungkook looks terrified.

“Thanks, Jungkook,” Yoongi says slowly. There’s a rushing in his ears. He doesn’t want to make assumptions on what Jungkook is saying, but it’s painful not to.

Jungkook takes Yoongi’s hand again and this time his palm is slick and hot, but Yoongi finds he doesn’t mind all that much.

“You know what I mean though, right?” Jungkook says. He keeps swallowing like the words are hard to get out. “I really - ”

“I don’t know where this is coming from,” Yoongi says, looking away from him.

“Since I met you I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about you, I’ve wanted to tell you for a while, I just - it’s hard to - ”

“Why would you like me?” Yoongi asks, cutting over Jungkook’s stuttering.

“I like looking at you,” Jungkook says, stumbling over his words.

Yoongi raises his eyebrows.

“Not just - you’re kind, you’re patient with me - that time at the bar, the tutoring - ”

Yoongi smiles at Jungkook, tries to make it a calm and understanding smile. In reality, his heart is pounding hard enough that he’s sure Jungkook must be able to feel it. He pulls his hand out of Jungkook’s so that he can put it on his shoulder instead.

“I think you’re drunk,” Yoongi says.

Their eyes fully meet, and stay trained on one another. Jungkook’s are dark and soft, wide and gentle. They hold each other’s gaze for several moments, and the ride starts to move again. Yoongi doesn’t stop Jungkook when he leans in, when their mouths meet. It feels nice, the softness of Jungkook’s lips, the warmth of his mouth, the movement of his tongue against Yoongi’s own. Yoongi feels like he’s melting into it, this warm contact with another person. His mind feels foggy, and all he can think about is how nice it feels. And of course, it’s not just another person. For a moment this makes the kiss even better, unbelievably better even, until a sudden bolt of realization strikes Yoongi. He pulls away.

Jungkook blinks slowly. He smiles lopsidedly.

“We shouldn’t have done that,” Yoongi says, shaking his head quickly. Like that, Jungkook’s smile begins to fade.

“What - what do you mean?”

“You’re a kid, you’re drunk,” Yoongi says. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

“I’m not a kid,” Jungkook says. “You didn’t like it?”

“You’re drunk,” Yoongi says again, avoiding looking at him. “It doesn’t matter.”

The ride is approaching the bottom now, and Yoongi tugs at the safety bar as if he can pull it up right away, as if he needs to escape. Jungkook’s hand is gripping his shoulder. When he’s finally released by the amusement park staff member he stumbles away from the ride, unsure exactly what he’s feeling and not wanting to think about it.

Chapter Text

“Yoongi!” Jungkook calls, unable to keep up in his inebriated state. “What’s the - what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Yoongi says, looking around himself. All he sees is a blur of unrecognizable faces. His best friend is nowhere to be seen, but Yoongi suddenly feels like being near him would solve everything. If he could just talk to Hobi right now, he might know what to do. “I’m trying to find Hobi.”

When Jungkook gets close enough, he falls over his feet a little, and Yoongi jumps forward to catch him in his arms. Jungkook’s head lolls against Yoongi’s shoulder as he tries to regain his bearings. Yoongi closes his eyes.

“I don’t - I don’t understand,” Jungkook says. His voice is shaking a little. He tries to stand up straight by himself, swaying a little.

“We left him right here,” Yoongi says.

“Did I do the wrong thing?”

“Jungkook,” Yoongi says, rounding on him. “I’m not sure you know what you’re doing at all.”

Jungkook’s eyes are glistening, so Yoongi turns away from him again. “Let’s just find Hobi,” Yoongi says. “He shouldn’t be by himself.”

After a few more glances around, during which Yoongi takes extra care to let his gaze glide over Jungkook’s features, he’s still missing Hoseok. He pulls out his phone and dials quickly, feeling relieved when it’s picked up on the third ring.

“Hello?”

“Hoseok, where are you?”

“Yoongi?”

“Yes, it’s me.”

“Where - are you?”

Yoongi sighs, impatient. “The ferris wheel.”

“I started feeling really weird. I went to find Namjoon.”

“We were gone for like half an hour, tops,” Yoongi says. Now that his worry about Hobi has dissolved, he feels anger toward him in its place. He’s vaguely aware of Jungkook beside him, beginning to walk away. Yoongi grabs the back of his shirt and holds it firmly to keep him in place.

“I wanted to call you,” Hobi says. “But I’m not sure where my phone is.”

“Hoseok,” Yoongi says through gritted teeth. “We’re talking on the phone right now.”

“Oh,” Hobi says, as if it’s a curious thought. “I told you - I’m sorry. I feel weird.”

“I wonder why that is?” Yoongi sighs. “Where are you now?”

“On the train.”

“What?” Yoongi’s grip loosens on Jungkook’s shirt enough that he gets free, and starts out into the crowd. Yoongi jogs while talking to keep up with him. “You mean on your way home?”

“Tae felt sick,” Hobi says. “So we decided to go back.”

“You realize Jungkook and I are still here, right?”

“Oh,” Hobi says, sounding confused. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry? Great.”

“Namjoon says I can stay at his place tonight,” Hobi says. “I’m not - I don’t know if I can get home right now. I see - ”

“Fine,” Yoongi says, trying to keep sight of Jungkook. He thinks about asking Hobi if he had taken the time at all to think about if Yoongi would worry about him. Instead, he hangs up and pockets his phone.

Jungkook is standing in front of a concession stand. Yoongi puts a hand on his shoulder, pulling him around to face him. There’s a few tear tracks down his cheeks, though his eyes are dry now. Yoongi tries not to think about that too hard.

“Will you buy me a pretzel?” Jungkook asks, chewing on his bottom lip.

“What?” The contrast between what Jungkook is asking him to do and the way he looks, his damp face and arms crossed over his chest, doesn’t add up,

“I don’t have any money left.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “No, you’ve had enough to eat. You’re gonna get sick.”

“I feel fine,” Jungkook says, though his mouth is in a tight line and his skin is slick and pale. “I feel good.”

“You do now,” Yoongi says. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“You keep saying that!” Jungkook’s voice breaks. He turns away from Yoongi, who has to rush to catch him again.

“Just stop, alright? I’m taking you back to Jin’s.”

If possible, Jungkook looks more distressed at those words. “No, you can’t do that.” He’s starting to back away, until Yoongi grabs his wrist. Jungkook looks down at where his hand is, distracted.

“Yes, I can.”

“No, you can’t, Jin will kill me - ” Jungkook breaks off, shaking his head. “I told him I wouldn’t drink.”

“Why does he care?” Yoongi asks. “You’re an adult.”

“He just does, it - it was an agreement we had, since I’m failing - ”

“You’re not failing anymore,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook continues to shake his head. “You can’t, Yoongi, please. He could tell our parents, they already think I’m not doing well - ”

“Fine!” Yoongi says, tossing his hands in the air. “You want to just sleep here, then?”

“I told him I was going to Tae’s house, that was - that was the plan.”

Yoongi looks at him in disbelief. “You just told me you’re not a kid, but I swear it’s like you’re in high school.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, avoiding his eyes.

Yoongi feels tense. Taehyung’s house is an extra 15 minutes away, he knows that. Despite everything he doesn’t want Jungkook to get into trouble, certainly doesn’t want him to be any more upset than he already is. Yoongi lets himself take a couple of breaths, and puts the kiss out of his mind.

“You can just come back to my place, then,” Yoongi says defeatedly.

“Really?”

“It’s fine.”

It’s later than Yoongi realized, the early morning, and the crowds at the amusement park are beginning to thin out. The moon hangs in the night sky stretched out above them. As they make their way out of the exit Jungkook is quiet, and Yoongi takes advantage of his silence to let his mind slow down a little. As he does, he starts to feel foolish, unsure of why he had become so flustered. The night air outside of the amusement park on the path to the train station is cooler, and still.

“I did the wrong thing, didn’t I?” Jungkook’s voice breaks across the quiet of the night, interrupting the crickets, and Yoongi’s thoughts.

Yoongi thinks about the first time he kissed Jimin, on a warm night like this. It wasn’t long after Hobi had recruited Yoongi to join the band. It was at the first or second show that Yoongi played with them, he can’t remember exactly. He can remember that Jimin was drunk, maybe even drunker than Jungkook is now. Jimin kissed him unexpectedly, pushing him up against the back of Namjoon’s van, and Yoongi had sort of wondered ever since if it had set into action a set of events that Jimin hadn’t fully intended. After that night they had devolved into casual sex, until Yoongi had gently persuaded Jimin to go on an actual date with him.

It was that need for persuasion that Yoongi couldn’t forget.

“Think about that when you’re sober,” Yoongi says. He’s thankful that it’s dark, too dark to see Jungkook’s face, or be seen by him.

“I thought you liked me too,” Jungkook says miserably.

Yoongi stops in his tracks, feeling half fed up and half guilty. “Look, Jungkook,” he says. “I need you to - you need to think about things clearly before you do them. That’s what I’d like.”

“You sound so serious,” Jungkook groans. “You’re always so serious.”

Yoongi shrugs, even though he was fairly sure there’s no way Jungkook can see him in the darkness.

“Yoongi,” Jungkook says, from somewhere behind him. “I don’t feel so great.”

“We’ll be home soon,” Yoongi says. “The station’s just up there.”

“I really don’t feel good,” Jungkook says, more firmly. Yoongi turns around, to see that Jungkook hasn’t moved from where they were standing moments before. It’s hard to tell if he’s really as pale as he looks, or just washed out by the creamy moonlight. Yoongi sighs.

“Let’s sit down for a bit then, I’m tired anyway,” Yoongi says.

“You’re tired?”

“That’s what I said.” Yoongi makes his way back to Jungkook, sitting on the curb and pulling Jungkook to join him. “Sit down, Jungkook.”

Jungkook sits heavily beside him, and crosses his arms on his knees, letting his head fall onto them. Yoongi pulls his cigarettes out of his pocket and shakes one out.

“I told you that you’d get sick, didn’t I?”

Jungkook groans. Yoongi puts a hand on the back of his neck to push his head further between his knees. He lights his cigarette and puts it between his lips, feeling the relief of the first inhale caress him satisfyingly.

“You don’t smoke much anymore,” Jungkook notes from his strange, bent over position.

“I’ve been cutting back,” Yoongi says. He doesn’t mention the reason, how he’s afraid it’s off putting, how he doesn’t think it seems like something Jungkook would like.

“I feel awful,” Jungkook says, following it with a whimper.

Yoongi inhales thoughtfully. “Can you believe Hobi just left like that? They all left me to take care of you, didn’t think about how I’d feel at all.”

“You never talk this much,” Jungkook says.

“Fine,” Yoongi says. “Let’s stay quiet, you’ll feel better.”

However it’s only a few more moments until Jungkook is stumbling to his feet and into the line of trees behind them. Yoongi can hear Jungkook retching and when he returns his face is shiny with sweat and his eyes are bloodshot and watery.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook whispers.

“You’re okay,” Yoongi says.

He stubs out his cigarette on the curb and stands. He tips his head toward the station and Jungkook nods. He seems so forlorn and ashamed that Yoongi puts an arm around him as they sit on the train. Jungkook rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder, and Yoongi hopes that by the morning neither of them will remember how nice it is.

By the time they walk up the stairs to Yoongi’s apartment Jungkook is more tired than sick, and he surveys his surroundings through bleary eyes.

“This is where you live?” Jungkook says, his voice slow and soft.

“Last time I checked.”

Yoongi gets Jungkook a glass of water and hands it to him with the stipulation not to drink too fast. Still, Jungkook downs it in one go. When Jungkook’s done, he looks around like he’s not quite sure where he is. His eyes land on Yoongi and he blinks.

“Which is yours?” Jungkook asks. Yoongi points to his bedroom door and Jungkook heads there, opening the door without invitation and switching on the light. Yoongi follows him and watches as Jungkook surveys the room, seeming to drink everything in. There’s not much to see - what part of Yoongi’s room that isn’t taken up by his bed is consumed by his desk, computer and audio equipment. Jungkook takes two unsteady steps forward and falls on top of Yoongi’s bed.

“Hey - what are you doing?” Yoongi asks. Jungkooks pulls himself further onto the bed and says nothing.

“You can’t sleep here Jungkook,” Yoongi tries. “There’s a couch in the living room.”

Nothing.

“Hobi isn’t here. You can have his bed.”

Jungkook gives no sign that he’s listening, just sighs contentedly and rolls over a little, away from Yoongi.

Tthere’s nothing much Yoongi can do. He certainly can’t move Jungkook himself, and he’s too tired to really try. He unties Jungkook’s boots and pulls them off, throwing them out into the hall. He manages to maneuver Jungkook to be able to get the duvet over him. When he’s struggled to get Jungkook settled into his bed, Yoongi stands back, regarding the situation. He runs a hand through his hair, and considers why he doesn’t often go out on excursions with the rest of his friends. He’s just not made for it. While the rest of them always seem content to have simple fun, Yoongi feels that he just ends up tired.

Jungkook’s phone dings, reminding Yoongi of its presence. He pulls it out of Jungkook’s pocket, glimpsing the screen as he does.

 

Jin: Did you make it to Taehyung’s?

 

Yoongi blinks at the screen. He knew Jin was overbearing, but this is a lot for an older brother. Jungkook makes a noise from the bed, prompting Yoongi to look up at him. Jungkook looks more harmless in sleep, if that’s even possible. The worry he’d exhibited earlier in the night is completely gone, replaced with a peaceful expression of sleep. Yoongi feels his own expression soften, and thinks that he might understand how Jin feels a little. Yoongi unlocks Jungkook’s phone, of course he doesn’t have any kind of password set up for it, and attempts to reply to Jin in a Jungkook-like fashion.

 

Jungkook : I did! Goodnight! :)

 

Yoongi feels a little ridiculous covering for a grown man, especially since the cover is against his older brother, but he’s too tired to think about it long. He puts Jungkook’s phone on the desk, turns off the light and pulls off his own shirt. He hesitates for a moment before he falls on the bed beside Jungkook and pulls himself under the covers. He can feel Jungkook’s warmth radiating toward him, along with the smell of cotton candy and alcohol. Yoongi moves toward him a little, letting his back press ever so slightly against Jungkook’s forearm.

 

Yoongi wakes up a few hours later, feeling disoriented and exposed. He turns toward the other side of his bed, putting his arm out as if by instinct. His grasp meets nothing besides slightly crumpled sheets. He wakes up further, rubbing his eyes and surveying the empty spot beside him.

He gets up unsteadily and shuffles to the open door of his bedroom. In the moonlight streaming through the open living room window he can see Jungkook curled into himself on the couch. He’s abandoned his shirt, and it lays crumpled beside the couch like a sleeping animal. He must have woken up at some point and moved out here. Why he left, though, Yoongi isn’t sure. He walks a little closer to the couch to look at Jungkook more closely. His brow his knit, as if he’s in slight discomfort, but he’s soundly asleep. Yoongi reaches down to run a hand over Jungkook’s forehead, unsticking the hair from his skin there. He retrieves a pillow from his bed to slide under Jungkook’s head. When he’s satisfied that Jungkook’s as comfortable as he can be, Yoongi returns to his own bed.

 

The next time Yoongi wakes up, there’s morning light filtering through a crack in his curtains. He lets himself drift up out of sleep slowly, trying to place himself after the night before. He remembers kissing Jungkook first, and doesn’t want to stop thinking about it. He can still smell him on the sheets next to him. Yoongi pushes himself up and picks up Jungkook’s phone when he notices it still laying on the desk.

Jungkook is sitting slouched at the kitchen table, his face in his hands. He’s put his shirt back on, but Yoongi can still see the muscles of his back and shoulders defined against the fabric. He takes a moment to look before he makes his presence known.

“Hey,” Yoongi says, coming up beside Jungkook and putting his phone next to him. Jungkook says nothing, and Yoongi realizes he’s starting to feel a little fond of the way Jungkook tends to hide his face behind his hands when he’s embarrassed.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asks carefully, crossing the kitchen to start his coffee maker.

“I think I’m dying,” Jungkook says. His voice sounds scratchy and painful. “My head.”

He doesn’t elaborate, but Yoongi doesn’t need him too. He pours Jungkook a glass of water, pulls the bottle of painkillers out of the cabinet over the fridge. He sets the offerings down in front of Jungkook, hesitates for a moment, then puts a light hand on Jungkook’s shoulder for a few moments.

“You’re just hungover,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook shakes out a couple of painkillers and downs them with the water, sighing shakily. “I feel awful.”

“You’ll feel better soon,” Yoongi assures him.

“Not just that,” Jungkook mumbles into his hands.

“What do you mean?”

“I - I shouldn’t have - I just shouldn’t - ”

“Have gotten so drunk?” Yoongi finishes. “That’s what everyone thinks the next day.”

Jungkook is red, clearly so embarrassed that he almost seems on the edge of tears. Yoongi doesn’t like it, but he knows that sometimes lessons must be learned the hard way.

“I don’t remember a lot of last night,” Jungkook says.

Yoongi turns back to the counter, back to his coffee maker, feeling his heart sink, and a tightness in his throat. After the amount Jungkook drank, and his inexperience, Yoongi didn’t expect him to remember everything of the night before. Yet it’s still disappointing.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says.

“It’s alright,” Yoongi says, keeping his tone light. “Not much happened.”

“What did happen?”

The question makes Yoongi’s throat burn a little. He remains standing, facing away, expectation and disappointment mingling and making his chest ache.

“You drank, we went on the ferris wheel, everyone else left. You got sick, I brought you back here, and you passed out.” Yoongi doesn’t want to turn back around and face Jungkook. Doesn’t want to see what he might be thinking. He doesn’t want to see Jungkook’s embarrassment, doesn’t want to know just how much he regrets the night before.

“Did I do anything stupid?” Jungkook asks.

Yoongi pours two shaky cups of coffee, and sets one down in front of Jungkook hard enough for the liquid to go sloshing over the side, spilling on the table. He feels angry at Jungkook, for not remembering, for making a mistake that made him feel this way, although he has no right to. He shouldn’t really be feeling anything at all. “No.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says. “I’m sorry if I - said anything I shouldn’t have.”

Yoongi shrugs, putting his own coffee mug on the other side of the table. He feels a little like crawling back into bed. “You want some cereal?”

Jungkook groans. “No, please. I can’t eat anything.”

Yoongi nods, and pours himself a bowl. He sets it down next to his coffee, but he really doesn’t want anything to eat either. He doesn’t want to make Jungkook leave, but he certainly doesn’t want him there anymore. Looking at him is like a kick in the ribs. He starts to offer to take Jungkook home, but before he can begin the sentence, Jungkook speaks again.

“Did I kiss you?”

Jungkook is staring intently into his coffee, his hair hanging down and covering his face. Yoongi can see the persistent blush present on his neck, though. Yoongi considers lying for a moment, sparing Jungkook the embarrassment and regret, but a not small part of him is still angry. Wants Jungkook to feel somewhat bad about what he did.

“Yes, you did, but it’s okay Jungkook - ”

“I just - it wasn’t supposed to be like that.”

“We can just forget about it,” Yoongi says, talking over Jungkook a little and only letting his last sentence sink in a few moments later. Wasn’t supposed to be like that . So was it supposed to be something . For a while, the only sound is the drip of the kitchen sink.

“I don’t want to forget about it,” Jungkook says finally, almost a whisper.

“You don’t?” Yoongi says. He wills Jungkook to look up, meet his eyes, show him he’s serious. Yoongi feels embarrassed by his own neediness, his desire to find meaning behind one stupid, drunken kiss.

“Of course not,” Jungkook says firmly, still looking down. “I didn’t want it to happen like that.”

Yoongi feels a strange swooping sensation in his chest, like he’s being picked up suddenly and carried off. He starts to talk but stutters, uncharacteristically. He feels himself blush this time, although Jungkook doesn’t seem to know it, and he paces himself before beginning to speak again.

“I figured you were just drunk,” Yoongi says.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says once more. He rubs the heels of his hands into his eyes. “I was so nervous, that’s the only way I could do it.”

“You said something like that,” Yoongi say slowly, recalling more of the scene on the ferris wheel the night before.

“I just had to tell you how much you mean to me,” Jungkook says. “Over these past few months, with what’s been going on in my life, school and my roommates and having trouble in my classes - you always just seem to want to help me, but not because you feel bad for me.”

Yoongi says nothing, and the silence seems to make Jungkook uncomfortable.

“It means a lot to me,” Jungkook says.

Yoongi is glad Jungkook is looking down, can’t see his failure to keep himself from smiling. He feels affection with a painful, frightening intensity.

“I’m glad,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook finally looks up, his expression full of a nervous earnestness. He works his bottom lip between his teeth, his eyes grazing Yoongi’s features. Yoongi suddenly realizes that he’s waiting for some confession of attraction in return, and Yoongi surprises himself by wanting to give it to him. But with a number of thoughts nagging the back of his mind - their age difference, Jungkook's clear inexperience - he can’t. In fact, he had no idea what to do at all. He didn’t spend any time considering that he would be in the position, because he didn’t want to make the disappointment worse than it had to be. He blurts the first thing that comes to his mind.

“That wasn’t your first kiss, was it?”
For a second, Jungkook looks almost stunned at the question. Emotion flickers in his eyes, but Yoongi can’t get a good read on it. “No, of course not. Why?”

“Have you kissed a girl before?” Yoongi asks, unsure where even he himself is going.

“Yes, I’ve kissed girls,” Jungkook splutters. “More than one.”

Jungkook’s voice is defensive. It would be amusing, but Yoongi feels an edge of panic and doesn’t feel like smiling.

“What about guys?”

This makes Jungkook pause. He looks down at his hands, picks at one of his nails. “Well, no.”

“I just want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into,” Yoongi says.

“Getting myself into?” Jungkook repeats. His voice is louder, upset. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Behind them, Yoongi hears the door being unlocked, though Jungkook doesn’t seem to notice it. Yoongi tries to signal to let him know before he continues, but he doesn’t pick up on it.

“I like men and women, Yoongi, that’s not something I’m just learning about myself. Is that okay with you?”

Jungkook’s voice is loud, he’s clearly agitated, and when Hobi rounds the corner it’s equally as clear that he’s heard it. He’s blatantly exhausted, with gigantic dark bags under his eyes, but that doesn’t stop them from widening comically at the scene at his kitchen table. Jungkook looks up at him, his mouth dropping open a little.

“Sorry, Jungkook,” Yoongi says softly.

Jungkook goes more red than Yoongi thinks he’s ever seen him before.

“What’s this?” Hobi says, his eyebrows so far raised that they disappear into to his hair. “Jungkook, did you spend the night?”

“Leave him alone, Hobi,” Yoongi says. “He’s had a rough night.”

“And I didn’t?” Hoseok says, scoffing, going to the sink to pour himself a glass of water. He’s wearing the same clothes as the night before, a wrinkled button up short sleeved shirt and shorts, and his hair is disheveled.

“How the fuck would I know?” Yoongi says, standing. He’s suddenly annoyed, mostly at himself. Annoyed at offending Jungkook and hurting his feelings, annoyed at Hobi for making the situation worse. “You left.”

“I’m gonna go,” Jungkook says suddenly, standing up so fast that he almost knocks the chair over behind him.

“You don’t have to go, Jungkook,” Yoongi says with a sigh. “Are you feeling better?”

Jungkook doesn’t answer, quickly gathering his phone and wallet. Yoongi and Hobi watch his movements carefully. “Thanks for taking care of me,” Jungkook says in Yoongi’s general direction. He dashes out before Yoongi can say anything else, leaving and closing the door heavily behind him.

An uncomfortable silence covers them. Yoongi feels himself burning up with shame, and thinks about how much he wants to sink through the floor, straight down into the ground below his apartment building. He pretends to be interested in his cereal, pushing it around the bowl as Hobi starts and stops several sentences. Eventually, he seems unable to contain himself.

“So, Yoongi,” he says. “Is it okay with you ?”

Yoongi is a little surprised to feel the frustration that rushes up in him. He stands, abandoning his cereal, starting to head to his room. “Fuck off.”

“No, please,” Hobi says, scrambling to grab his wrist before he can get away. “You have to tell me what that was.”

Yoongi looks back at him, at his tired eyes and limp hair, at the way he manages to keep his playful expression, even though he looks like he hasn’t slept. “Why should I?”
“You can’t let me walk in on this and then deprive me of an explanation.”

“That was just me being an asshole,” Yoongi says with a sigh, pulling his hand free and dropping it to his side. “Saying something stupid.”

“Please explain for me,” Hobi says,

“Shouldn’t you go to bed, Hoseok? You look like you’ve been up all night.”

Hobi reaches up to smooth down his hair. “I don’t want to think about it. Let’s just say you were right about the acid.”

“What happened?”

Hobi shakes his head. “Namjoon took me back to his place and then - just ask him. You’re trying to deflect.”

“Fine. Jungkook got drunk, you guys all left, so I brought him back here for the night.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“What was that conversation at the table, then?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have abandoned me last night, then you’d know all about it.”
Hobi’s face falls. He holds his hands out to either side, as if he doesn’t know what to do. “I didn’t abandon you, Yoongi,” he says. “I’m an adult, you know. Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”

“I’m not.”

“You are! I can’t do anything without you getting mad at me. I spent the night at Namjoon’s, that’s all. You’re acting like we’re married!”

Yoongi blinks as Hobi finishes. “I was worried about you,” he says, his voice more even.

Hobi seems caught in the midst of an exhaustion-fueled tirade. “I’ll repeat, I’m an adult. You worry about everything!”

“That’s what having anxiety is like , Hobi,” Yoongi snaps.

Hobi’s hands fall to his sides, and he sighs. Yoongi sighs too, crossing his arms. They stand like that for a few moments, and as Yoongi looks at his friend he starts to feel a little bad. Despite everything, he’s happy to see Hobi. Happy that he’s safe. And he can’t help but agree that he’s being unreasonable - about everything.

“I’m sorry,” Hoseok says.

“Jungkook kissed me on the ferris wheel last night,” Yoongi says quickly, as if to get it out of the way. “And told me that he’s had this big crush on me, apparently.”

Hobi blinks a couple of times, and the anger seems to fade instantly. His tiredness washes away as he smiles. “I could have told you that,” he says.

“Why didn’t you, then?”

“Thought it would upset you,” Hobi says absently. He runs a hand through his hair. “Just when I think he can’t get any cuter. On the ferris wheel ?”

“I don’t know what to do about it,” Yoongi says.

“Sounded like you were telling him off when I got here,” Hobi says. “Doesn’t that take care of it?”

Yoongi’s heart sinks. If that’s what Hobi thinks, it must be what Jungkook’s thinking too. “I told you, I was being an asshole.”

Yoongi runs a shaky hand through his hair, and from the way Hobi is looking at him, his head tilted slightly, he thinks he must have a strange look on his face. “It was one drunken kiss,” Hobi says slowly, as if he’s trying to figure out a math problem.

“I know, but he remembers it. He says he planned in advance to tell me how he felt.”

“Well if you said something you didn’t mean to, just fix it.” Hobi shrugs. “Kiss him again, or something.”

“It’s not that easy,” Yoongi moans.

“It’s not? I don’t know what other advice to give.”

“There must be something.”

Hobi puts a hand on the chair beside him, still looking at Yoongi like he doesn’t quite recognize him. “I’m not sure why you’re asking my advice, anyway. I seem to remember when Jimin kissed you, you didn’t even mention it to me until a week later. And by then you’d already slept with him.”

Yoongi shrugs.

“It’s like you really like Jungkook, or something,” Hobi says.

“I think I do,” Yoongi says, the confession slipping out before he can stop it. “I think I really like him.”

The words feel childish as he says them, and Yoongi can’t quite meet Hobi’s eyes once they’re out there. But it’s the truth, and Yoongi knows there isn’t any other way to say it, no other way to make Hobi understand. From the corner of his eye, Yoongi sees Hobi sinking down into the chair.

“I thought last night was strange,” Hobi says. “Now I get home to you acting like a school boy.”

“You wanted me to tell you what happened,” Yoongi says. He looks up to meet Hobi’s eyes, and sees that he’s smiling gently.

“I just didn’t expect it,” he says. “But I’m happy for you.”

“Now I need to fix it,” Yoongi says. “I messed up.”

Hoseok springs up again, his energy surprising Yoongi. “Let me shower,” he says. “Then we’ll figure it out.”

Chapter Text

The next band practice is scheduled for the following day, and Yoongi gets there late, after an overly long shift at the music shop. The first thing he notices when he lets himself into Jin’s house and down to the basement is Jungkook’s absence. Everyone else is gathered around - Jin and Namjoon are seated on the couch, heads bent together, discussing something and caught up in their own world. Hobi is in the midst of restringing his bass, while talking to Taehyung about how much he misses his family dog, Mickey, and how he wants to adopt a puppy of his own soon. Taehyung himself is seated behind his drums, spinning drumsticks in his hands, and Jimin has his arms wrapped around his shoulders from behind.

“Hi Yoongi,” Taehyung chirps when he notices him come in. Jimin lets go of Taehyung and steps away.

Yoongi continues to survey the room, as if he might have somehow overlooked Jungkook, but he’s nowhere to be seen in the small basement. He was already nervous at the prospect of seeing Jungkook, and not seeing him is making it worse, as if he might pop out of nowhere suddenly, when Yoongi isn’t ready.

“Hey, Yoongi.” He jumps, having not noticed Jimin coming up beside him. He gets a questioning look from Jimin, but no comment.

“Hey,” Yoongi says back.

“We didn’t get a chance to talk on Saturday,” Jimin says. He’s running the hem of his tshirt between his fingers, and smiling faintly.

Yoongi realizes he’s right. They’d seen each other at the amusement park, but hadn’t exchanged any words. In fact, Yoongi thinks he hasn’t spoken directly to Jimin since the incident on the night of Jungkook’s first show.

“There something you wanted to talk about?” Yoongi asks distractedly.

“I was just wondering how you are,” Jimin says.

“I’m fine, Jimin,” Yoongi says.

“That’s good. Listen, I told everyone we should wait for you on Saturday instead of just leaving - ”

Yoongi nods, and smiles at Jimin absently. He’s not fully sure what Jimin’s saying, or trying to say, but has been watching Jin and Namjoon closely, and notices a lull in their conversation. He breaks away from Jimin and goes toward them, his heart hammering strangely.

“Hey Jin,” Yoongi says in greeting. “Is Jungkook coming down?”


Jin nods to himself, as if remembering something important. “That’s right - I was telling everyone else before you got here. Jungkook is sick, he can’t practice today.”

Yoongi’s eyes meet Hobi’s for a second, his skeptical expression matching how Yoongi feels.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“He said he been feeling off since Saturday night. When he got home yesterday he just crawled into bed and slept all day.”

Yoongi actively avoids Hobi’s eyes this time, and Jin continues.

“Anyway, when he woke up today he said he had a bad sore throat. He’s definitely not up for singing.”

“Poor thing,” Hobi says, keeping his concentration on his bass, and Yoongi tsk’s in sympathy. Jin seems completely oblivious, and Yoongi’s thankful for that. If Jin doesn’t approve of Jungkook going out drinking on a Saturday night, Yoongi can only imagine what he feelings might be on Jungkook spending the night in his bed and going home hungover. Yoongi is grateful that Taehyung hasn’t said anything either - he’s not a good liar, but Yoongi supposes it’s easy enough not to say anything at all. Yoongi texted him the day before to ask him to hold up the story that Jungkook had spent the night at his apartment after the amusement park, and Taehyung hadn’t asked questions.

“I’m gonna pay him a quick visit,” Yoongi says, heading toward the stairs. “I need to, you know, tell him something about calculus.”

“He’s resting right now,” Jin says doubtfully.

“I’ll just be a second,” Yoongi says behind himself as he bounds up the stairs. He turns the corner to get to Jungkook’s room, and knocks on the door lightly.

“It’s Yoongi. Can I come in?”

There’s no answer but Yoongi can hear sound coming from inside the room, as if Jungkook is watching TV or listening to music. Yoongi carefully turns the knob and opens the door to find Jungkook seated at his computer, his shoulders slightly hunched, playing a game that seems to involve lots of running around and shooting.

“Hey,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook has one hand on his keyboard and one on his mouse, and his fingers are moving at the speed of light. He glances up briefly at Yoongi and removes his hand from the mouse just long enough to point at his throat, shrugging apologetically.

“I know you can talk,” Yoongi says, to which Jungkook just  shrugs again.

Yoongi sighs. “Can you pause this, or something?”

Jungkook shakes his head, without looking toward Yoongi in the slightest.

“Then I’ll wait until you can,” Yoongi says, sitting gingerly on the bed directly behind Jungkook’s desk chair. Jungkook doesn’t react in any way, and Yoongi sighs again. He messed up even worse than he thought. Suddenly even Hobi’s painfully simple advice seems like it will be ineffective.

“First, just tell him you’re sorry,” Hobi had said. “Just try to start back over from the beginning, he’ll appreciate that. What you both need is to talk through the situation rationally.”

How could he do that if Jungkook wasn’t willing to talk to him at all?

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” Yoongi says, but again receives no acknowledgement from Jungkook. Yoongi starts to feel a little frustrated, and more than that, hurt. His chest aches a little. On Jungkook’s computer monitor the action suddenly stops and he sits back. A busty character with purple skin, a long ponytail and a strange helmet fills up the screen.

“What is that, a vampire?” Yoongi asks

Jungkook turns. “It’s Widowmaker,” he says. “Her character design is based off a spider.”

“Oh, a spider ,” Yoongi says, breaking a smile.

Jungkook huffs, his hand curling into a fist, and he turns back around. “Also, I can’t just pause it. That’s not how multiplayer games work.”

“It’s a good thing you’re cute,” Yoongi says, but feels his smile slipping away when Jungkook doesn’t react to him.

“Just say what you came to say,” Jungkook says, followed by a long sigh.

“What do you think I came to say?”

With his back still toward Yoongi, Jungkook begins to spin his chair side to side slowly, the hinges creaking with his movement. He’s clicking through screens in his game, moving through menus and changing his character, but doesn’t seem to be doing it with any kind of purpose.

“That I was stupid, probably. That I’m too eager - that’s what people in high school used to tell me. Or, that you wouldn’t date a kid like me.” Jungkook’s voice is bitter on the last sentence, biting.

Yoongi bows his head and stares at his feet. He doesn’t like talking to Jungkook’s back, but if that’s really what he thinks then Yoongi doesn’t blame him for not turning around.

“What if I told you I was being stupid?” Yoongi says.

Jungkook stops clicking and pauses for a long moment, as if waiting for Yoongi to go on. “Why would you tell me that?”

“Because I was. I handled everything the wrong way, and I never meant to upset you.”

“Really?” Jungkook’s tone is already painfully hopeful.

“I’m not good at this stuff,” Yoongi says.

Although Yoongi’s head is still down, he hears Jungkook turning his chair. “It’s okay,” Jungkook says. “Just tell me what you mean.”

“I just think you misunderstood me.” Each word Yoongi says is hard to get out. He has to search for it, uncover it from somewhere deep.

Jungkook seems to deliberately look away from Yoongi when he speaks next, his eyes resting somewhere on the floor. “I think you made yourself pretty clear. You don’t think I know what I’m doing. You probably think this is some phase.”

“You misunderstood,” Yoongi repeats firmly. “I wasn’t talking about - ”

“I do know what I’m doing, it hasn’t been easy for me but this isn’t new - ”

“I meant, you know, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into with - ” Yoongi stops, and simply gestures to himself. He feels bad vocalizing it, it’s a bit too self deprecating for him.

“What, with you?” Jungkook raises an eyebrow. Yoongi nods, and Jungkook laughs a little. “I really like you though,” he says, as if it’s just that simple. Yoongi has to wonder how long Jungkook’s longest relationship was, if he’d ever been in one.

“You like me now,” Yoongi says.

“I can’t imagine not liking you,” Jungkook says, his honesty and abruptness embarrassing Yoongi, as it has the tendency to do. Yoongi looks down at his hands, thinking himself undeserving of such a statement. Undeserving of Jungkook entirely and his sweetness, his kindness, his beauty.

“Yoongi?” Jungkook’s voice is hesitant. “Please just tell me. Do you like me or not?”

Yoongi is stumped for a moment. He doesn’t know which reaction will end up causing more pain - telling Jungkook the truth, or keeping himself distant. Yoongi tells himself that it’s likely Jungkook’s crush is just a temporary infatuation, with no real risk associated.

“Yes,” Yoongi says. “Yes, I like you a lot.”

Jungkook smiles wide, almost glowing. It makes Yoongi’s chest tingle with warmth, to see that he’s made Jungkook so happy. As if caught up in his excitement, Jungkook leans forward to press his lips against Yoongi’s, a bit too hard. It’s a short, painful but sweet kiss, with closed lips and a bashful look from Jungkook when he pulls away. If Yoongi was to compare Jungkook’s kisses to Jimin’s it would be like day and night, like ocean and desert. Jungkook’s kisses are afraid of being unwanted, whereas Jimin’s kisses assumed themselves as necessary as drinking water. Jimin seemed to think that Yoongi always wanted to be kissed by him (and to be fair, he always had), while Jungkook probably thought of every one as a risk, but can’t seem to stop himself regardless. Yoongi’s heartbeat picks up.

Jungkook takes a few deep breaths, and Yoongi thinks maybe he’s even trying to compose himself, biting his lip as if trying to stop smiling. Yoongi’s own heart is pounding in a special way, like when he was in high school and had a crush. He has that same breathless and uncomfortable feeling that he remembers from back then, complete with the stomach cramps and sweaty palms.

“So, what do we do now?” Jungkook asks.

“Do now?” Yoongi says. If this were Jimin, he knows what they would do now. They would already be on the bed, mostly undressed. And there was nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the way with Jungkook. Yoongi’s not particularly picky when he likes someone, which is why he has always let the other person lead him right into what they are most comfortable with at the beginning of a relationship. Yoongi thinks Jungkook isn’t likely to lead him anywhere, though. He’s probably waiting to be led. Yoongi briefly considers what most wants out of this mutual attraction with Jungkook, and it’s surprisingly simple.

“I guess we could go on a date,” Yoongi says, feeling silly and giddy.

“A date,” Jungkook repeats, as if it’s a curious idea. “Like to a bowling alley?”

Yoongi laughs. “Is that where you want to go?”

Jungkook nods quickly, his hair flopping into his eyes. He brushes it away, and suddenly gets timid. “I mean, if you want to.”

Yoongi shrugs. “We can go.” He doesn’t say what he thinks - that he doesn’t care where they go. He just wants to hang out with Jungkook, and talk to him, and hear his laugh. They could go anywhere really.

“Okay,” Jungkook says, finally letting himself break into a toothy grin.

“Okay then,” Yoongi says, and smiles back. He feels juvenile and out of place, especially in the awkward silence that follows. He shifts on the bed. “I should get back downstairs, before Jin scolds me for not letting you rest.”

Jungkook nods, and when Yoongi stands he stands too, and presses a quick kiss to his forehead. Yoongi realizes that his forehead is at the perfect height for Jungkook’s lips, and that he likes the way that Jungkook is taller than he is.

“Bye, Yoongi,” Jungkook says, and Yoongi thinks his voice is sweeter than the cotton candy from the amusement park, sweeter than anything.

“Bye, Jungkook.”

 

When Yoongi gets back downstairs he heads straight for his keyboard and starts playing something simple and thoughtless. The rest of the band is still chatting, caught up in conversation with Jin and Jimin, but for once Yoongi doesn’t feel annoyance at how long it takes them to get started at practice. He doesn’t want to talk about anything for a moment or to think about anything besides Jungkook, just for a little while. He wants a while to bask in what just happened, in the thought that Jungkook isn’t mad at him that they’d agreed to go on a date. At how happy Jungkook had looked at the prospect.

He wants to spend a while considering the softness of Jungkook’s bottom lip, especially when it’s pressed against his own. He wonders if Jungkook might have the same kinds of thoughts, and is embarrassed at himself in hoping he does. He thinks about how good Jungkook looks in the button up shirts he tends to wear, despite laughing at them at first.

“How’d it go?” Hobi whispers in his ear. He’s standing close by, and Yoongi didn’t even notice him get there. Yoongi jumps, uncomfortably startled, but for once is in no mood to feel angry at anyone.

“It was fine,” Yoongi says. He swipes his tongue over his lips and allows himself the smallest of smiles. “It was good, actually.”

“It was good?” Hobi looks overjoyed and that makes Yoongi feel happy, too. “You know, I don’t think I even want a puppy anymore. You two alone are cute enough to keep me going.”

“Be quiet,” Yoongi says, elbowing Hobi in the ribs. Hobi just chuckles, and returns to his bass to add the last string.

In the midst of a smile, Yoongi looks away from Hobi and startles a bit when he sees Jimin on the couch, no longer talking to Namjoon and Jin, but glaring at him. His eyes are cold, dagger like, and they make Yoongi’s heart freeze. Jimin looks away when their eyes meet, and Yoongi feels a sensation of deflation in his chest. Had he done something wrong? He remembers Jimin trying to talk to him earlier, and brushing him off. He feels a bit guilty.

Yoongi’s hands stop moving on the keys as he goes deeper into thought. Why did it always feel like he was doing the wrong thing, especially with Jimin? Their relationship had always felt so fragile, and Yoongi hated that. Were all relationships that way, or just his? He had only been with Jimin for ten months, but hadn’t exactly been in many long relationships before that.

What if Jungkook ever looked at him that way? It was a sudden unwanted thought, and Yoongi realized it was completely preemptive. Yet when a thought like that introduced itself into his mind, it was hard to get it to leave again. He had to wonder, how long would it be before he did the wrong thing with Jungkook without even noticing it? He already had, once. How long before Jungkook wasn’t willing to forgive him?

“Yoongi, hey.”

Yoongi realized that Hobi was waving an open palm in front of his face. He wasn’t looking at Yoongi like he was cute anymore, but more with an expression of thinly veiled concern. “Is something wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Yoongi shook his head, as if to try to knock the thoughts away. “I’m fine,” he said.

 

When Yoongi woke up the next morning his heart leapt preemptively to see the notification of a text received from Jungkook.

 

Jungkook : So when should we do the date thing? :D

 

Yoongi suggested Thursday night, Jungkook agreed, and the whole thing suddenly seemed very real. The dates Yoongi had been on before had never included anything like a bowling alley. Usually it was a bar or some restaurant, a movie if things were serious. Jimin had preferred to go to dance clubs, and Hoseok had normally tagged along to those, making it feel like the date was more between the two of them as Yoongi stood in some corner sipping a too expensive drink. Bowling isn’t exactly any more Yoongi’s style than the clubs were, but at least it might allow for some actual conversation.

 

“How does this look?” Yoongi asks shamefully on Thursday afternoon, presenting his outfit for inspection. Hoseok is on the couch, watching cartoons and shining his bass. He’d gotten the instrument secondhand some years ago and the metallic blue of the body is starting to fade in some places, but he loves with a tenderness that amuses Yoongi.

Hobi looks up, regarding Yoongi critically. “No,” he says, looking back down.

“No? What the fuck do you mean, no?”

“Too much black.”

Yoongi scoffs. “Most of what I own is black, Hobi.”

“You must have something more suitable for a date.”

Yoongi sits down beside Hobi, thinking about what could be suitable . In his opinion, his outfit is pretty good. It’s classic.

“You should be wearing white, really. Something that will glow if this is one of those bowling alleys with blacklights. Jungkook would like that.”

“He would like it if I glowed?” Yoongi says skeptically, wanting Hobi to hear the ridiculousness of his own words, but Hobi only nods matter of factly, and Yoongi realizes he’s right.

“Do you have anything I could wear?” Yoongi asks, half hopefully.

Hobi looks at him, his expression a mixture of amusement and pity. “I don’t think any of my stuff will fit you, buddy.”

In the end, Yoongi swaps out his black shirt for a white one, and leaves it at that. He hopes it’s not the kind of bowling alley with blacklights.

 

The bowling alley is just like Jungkook himself. It’s prevalent, and bright, and makes Yoongi feel kind of out of his element.

“It’s been years since I’ve gone bowling,” Yoongi said.

“For real?” Jungkook seems sad, and Yoongi smiles. Jungkook is wearing another of his short sleeved button up shirts, the ones that make him look like a valedictorian. His hair is nicely combed too, and Yoongi thinks he can detect a hint of cologne on him.

Of course, Jungkook came equipped with his own pair of bowling shoes and ball. Yoongi rents his shoes and picks out the least greasy looking bowling ball.

Jungkook is smiling to himself the whole time, as if he’s happy just to be there. Yoongi doesn’t know if that’s because of him, or because of the bowling. They sit at a sticky plastic table behind their lane while they put on their shoes.

“I was on the bowling team in high school,” Jungkook supplies.

“I didn’t know there were teams for that,” Yoongi says.

“Did you play any sports?”

“Just basketball.”

“Basketball?” Those two overly large, endearing front teeth peek out as Jungkook smiles.

“I know what you’re thinking: I’m too short.”

Jungkook shakes his head quickly, still smiling. “No, I was just imagining it.”

“Me playing basketball?” Yoongi raises an eyebrow. Jungkook reddens a little, so Yoongi decides to refrain from teasing him. “Did you do Taekwondo, too?” he asks instead.

“How did you know?”

“All of the pictures Jin has hanging up of you in that uniform.”

“Oh, right.” Jungkook rubs the back of his neck. Yoongi doesn’t tell him how he has to keep from smiling when he thinks of how Jungkook looks in those pictures, the black belt around his waist and the trophies in his arms a complete contradiction to the shy smile he wears as he poses.

With his bowling shoes now completely on, Yoongi flexes his toes a little. They’re a little tight, but he can live with them. “Did you tell Jin about this?” he asks carefully.

“About this - ?” Jungkook is biting his lip a little.

“About this being, you know, a date?”

“I told him we were hanging out. He didn’t really ask. I’m sorry.” Jungkook is avoiding his eyes.

“It’s fine, you don’t have to tell him.” Yoongi laughs, so that Jungkook knows he really isn’t bothered by it. “How do you think he’d feel about it?” Yoongi isn’t trying to put Jungkook on the spot, but he’s genuinely curious. He realizes he wants to know so that he knows what to expect in the future, if this gets more serious. He finds himself already hoping that it will. His palms feel damp.

“Oh, it’s not that, but - ” Jungkook cuts himself off, looking at Yoongi uncertainly. Yoongi nods for him to go on. “I don’t talk to him about much besides school these days,” Jungkook sighs. “I think that’s all he wants me to focus on.”

Yoongi nods, understanding dawning on him. “So you think he might be upset that you’re spending time with me, instead?”

Jungkook shrugs. “I’m not sure. I just don’t want to disappoint him.”

“What about the band? He’s fine with that?”

“It’s music. I think he sees it as related to my studies, kind of. Plus, he wants me to at least have some friends.”

“I can’t imagine Jin being disappointed in you,” Yoongi says, and it’s true. He doesn’t know Jin well, but he thinks he knows him well enough to get the feeling that Jungkook can’t do much wrong in his eyes. On the other hand, Jungkook lives in his head a bit, and Yoongi can easily see Jin’s disappointment being of Jungkook’s own creation, rather than the reality.

“He was always good at school stuff,” Jungkook says. “It doesn’t come as easily to me.”

Yoongi can tell the subject is a little sensitive, and it’s probably not the best territory to get into on their first date. He gets to his feet to set up their game so that can start playing.

On their first game, Yoongi bowls a 120 and Jungkook manages 210. Yoongi tsk’s as Jungkook walks back from his last turn. “I thought you were supposed to be good at this?” he says, despite the fact that he’s never himself broken 200 points.

“I’m nervous,” Jungkook says quickly, looking instantly bashful when he seems to realize what he’s said.

Yoongi stands up so that he can be beside Jungkook, nudging him lightly with his shoulder. Jungkook’s breath might pick up just from that touch, or it might be Yoongi’s imagination. “You’re nervous?”

“It’s hard to hold a bowling ball when your hands are sweaty,” Jungkook says, looking at the floor.

Yoongi is nervous too, though he doesn’t say it. He’s nervous every time he walks to the top of their lane for his turn, knowing that Jungkook his behind him, watching. He’s too nervous to be hungry for the pizza Jungkook brings back on paper plates, but grins when he sees what else he has in his hands.

“Is that a churro?” Yoongi asks.

Jungkook hands it to him shyly, watching his smile with rapt attention. “Hoseok mentioned they’re your favorites, one time.”

Yoongi has wanted to kiss Jungkook all night, but he especially does right then. He won’t do it right there in the middle of the bowling alley but it’s not bad to imagine.

 

Jin doesn’t live far from the bowling alley, so Yoongi walks Jungkook home in the damp summer hea, the sun long set. They had played two more games, and Yoongi’s score had dropped lower for each one, though Jungkook’s had gone back up as he’d gotten back into the swing of it.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says across the quiet of their walk. “You don’t really like bowling, do you?”

Yoongi assumes that Jungkook noticed how his attention to the game had waned over the course of the evening. “I’ve never played it much,” Yoongi says honestly. If he was being completely truthful, he would admit that his focus on the game didn’t decrease so much from a lack of enjoyment, as it had simply shifted to Jungkook instead. Yoongi had become increasingly focused on the little details of Jungkook, like the visual of his bicep as he swings his arm, or his pleased smile each time he got a strike.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says again. “We should have done something you like.”

“Don’t be,” says Yoongi. “I had fun.”

Jungkook’s hand finds his own in the darkness, their fingers twining together with ease. Yoongi feels a striking warmth in his hand, that travels up his arm and spreads across his chest.

When they’re outside of Jin’s house they stop and turn to face each other, the tension of sweet anticipation stretching out between them. Yoongi doesn’t mind being the one to break it this time. He finds Jungkook’s lips with his own and they kiss, their hands still pressed palm to palm. Yoongi pushes his tongue against Jungkook’s smooth lips and their kiss becomes deeper. Jungkook sounds breathless. Yoongi can easily feel Jungkook’s pulse where his forefinger is pressed against his wrist, pounding away and away. Yoongi pushes a hand into his hair, running it along the back of his head and his scalp.

Yoongi pulls himself away when he thinks of Jin inside, and Jungkook’s fear of disappointing him. He knows they can’t be seen, out here in the darkness, but the thought is bothering him a little. Jungkook’s inhales are short and quick, and the streetlights are bright enough to show that he’s smiling.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at practice,” Jungkook says, his voice breathy.

“See you then,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook leans forward for a parting kiss, one of those short, sweet pecks he seems to like, that somehow holds more significance than all of the making out they’d just done.

Yoongi watches Jungkook disappear into Jin’s house, then turns to go. He lets a smile rest on his lips until he makes it to the light of the train station.

Chapter Text

“Let’s watch the video for Mei’s backstory next,” Jungkook says.

“Is Mei the one with pink hair?” Yoongi asks.

“No, that’s Zarya. Mei is the arctic scientist.”

“I remember now,” Yoongi says, even though he doesn’t. He estimates that there are probably about a hundred Overwatch characters, and despite sitting through hours of Jungkook’s explanations on them, he still couldn’t name a single one. “We really should work on trigonometric substitution, though.”

Jungkook’s eyes become dark pools of disappointment. “You’ll really like it.”

Yoongi knows that isn’t necessarily true, because he hasn’t exactly “liked” any of the Overwatch videos Jungkook has shown him so far. He likes Jungkook himself, though, and that’s pretty much the same thing. Yoongi makes the mistake of meeting Jungkook’s eyes, and becomes resigned. “Fine, but this is the last one.”

Jungkook grins, and starts the next video, which takes place in a frozen tundra. Yoongi keeps his eyes on the screen, reacting as much as he can to the video, because Jungkook is watching him closely. Yoongi can’t fathom why this game is so important to Jungkook, but in some ways it’s endearing how invested he is.

When the video ends, Yoongi bites the bullet. “We need to get back to calculus now. You only have a few weeks of the class left.”

“I guess so,” Jungkook sighs. Instead of opening his book, though, he swivels his chair to kiss Yoongi. Despite the fact that it’s blatantly procrastination, making out is much more entertaining than Overwatch videos, or even calculus. Yoongi doesn’t protest it. He thinks that studying can probably wait for a while longer.

 

“We’re going on a road trip!” Taehyung says later, when Yoongi and Jungkook are finished studying and join them in the basement for practice.

“I’m aware,” Yoongi says. “We’re all aware.”

“It’s all you talk about,” Jungkook says, though Yoongi knows for a fact that he’s just as excited as Taehyung is. Yoongi thinks maybe Jungkook is picking up on some of his own blaise mannerisms.

“Road trip is a strong description, anyway,” Hobi says from his normal place on the couch, smoking his usual pre practice joint.

“It’s three hours away, it’s a road trip,” Taehyung says with an air of finality. “Aren’t you guys pumped that we have a gig in a different town? It’s means we’re really making it.”

In Taehyung’s mind, the fact that they are traveling for a bit to get to their next show might as well equal a national tour. He doesn’t seem at all hung up on the fact that Namjoon’s sister works at the bar they’re playing at, which is the only reason they got a gig there.

“We’re practically famous,” Yoongi says. “A step below the Rolling Stones in terms of global recognition.”

Yoongi’s in a good mood. Kissing Jungkook tends to do that to him. The high he gets from it must be five times as good as whatever he feels from the mediocre weed Hoseok smokes.

“We’re not going to get any recognition if we don’t practice,” Namjoon mumbles, holding his electric guitar to his chest in the corner of the room. From what Yoongi can gather, Namjoon broke up with his girlfriend of a month the week before, and since then has been frustratingly sulky. In some ways Yoongi is glad that Namjoon is there to take the place of his negativity, so that no one gets suspicious of him.

“Cheer up Namjoon,” Hobi says between inhales. “You have plenty of other short lived relationships to look forward to.”

“At least I have relationships,” Namjoon snaps.

“Damn, fine.” Hobi drops his joint into the ashtray and stands up to retrieve his bass from where it’s leaning against Yoongi’s keyboard. “I think Namjoon is even worse than you when slighted by love,” he says under his breath when he’s in Yoongi’s earshot. They exchange a sly smile. Yoongi feels good somehow. It’s an indescribable, just there feeling and makes him want to joke around with Hobi, write music, even watch more of Jungkook’s Overwatch videos just to see that enthusiastic gleam in his eye.

“Namjoon is right, though,” Hobi says to everyone. “The Battle of the Bands is only about two months away. We have to start going for the gold, giving it our all at practice.”

While Namjoon groans, Jungkook tilts his head. “Battle of the Bands?”

Hobi’s bright eyes gleam brighter. “The most important show we play all year, JK.”

“It’s not,” Namjoon says. “We never win.”

“We’ll win this time,” Hobi says.

“Big Bang wins every year, we all know it, that’s just how it is.”

“I had just joined last year when we played Battle of the Bands,” Yoongi explains to Jungkook.

“Which is the only reason we lost,” Hobi says. “This year, with the new songs you’ve written, and JK, just watch.”

“Big Bang has actual fans,” Namjoon says. “Groupies and shit. We can’t compete against that.”

“Can Jimin come with us to the show this weekend, by the way?” Yoongi has the feeling that Taehyung, who doesn’t care for competitions, has been thinking this over while they discussed the Battle of the Bands. He’s looking right at Yoongi when he asks his sudden question, as usual.

“Fine with me,” Yoongi says, with true impartiality. Everyone else sorts of nods their agreement, though Jungkook hesitates.

“Isn’t the van too small?” Jungkook asks. “Jin was going to come too, remember?”

“There are seven seats,” Hobi says.

“We use most of the back seat for our gear though,” Jungkook says.

“Yoongi and Jimin were always able to squeeze together back there and fit.”

“I don’t think Yoongi wants to squeeze in with Jimin,” Jungkook says firmly. Yoongi doesn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He can feel his face heating up rapidly, and he just wants Jungkook to stop talking.

“Jimin and I can squeeze instead,” Taehyung says happily, obliviously. “We don’t mind.”

“I’m sure you don’t,” Hobi says.

“Great,” Namjoon says, throwing his arms wide, his mouth a pointed frown. “Are we all happy then?”

“I still think it’s a tight fit for such a long ride,” Jungkook says lowly.

“We really don’t mind.” Taehyung’s not smiling anymore, and his eyes a bit dejected.

“Why is it such a big fucking deal?” Namjoon asks. He’s antsy, not his usual laid back self, warning them all to provoke him.

“It’s not,” Yoongi says, desperately wanting to escape from the topic. “Let’s just practice.”

 

“Are you bothered that Jimin is coming?” Jungkook asks on Saturday morning, the day of the road trip. Yoongi was the first to arrive, toting his keyboard and a change of clothes, even though they’re heading straight back after the show. Yoongi and Jungkook are in the basement packing up Taehyung’s drumkit while Jin makes them breakfast upstairs.

“No,” Yoongi says. “It seems like you are, though.”

“I just don’t like him very much.”

“I got that.”

Jungkook looks up at Yoongi, a waver in his expression. He seems like he doesn’t know what he should feel. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I can’t forget about what a jerk he was to you.”

Yoongi focuses on packing up the drums. He doesn’t want to look at Jungkook, and he doesn’t want to talk about this. Remembering how Jungkook protested Jimin coming along makes Yoongi uncomfortable. It makes him feel a little angry at Jungkook, which isn’t something he likes to feel.

“I know that you think you know him,” Yoongi starts. He pauses, trying to gather his thoughts. “But you only know that part of him. He can be thoughtful, and sweet even.”

Jungkook snaps one of the drum cases closed loudly.

“Just because he doesn’t show that part of himself to me anymore doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Yoongi says. “I think you’d like him if you really knew him.”

“So you want me to be friends with him?” Jungkook’s voice is sharp.

Yoongi sighs. “You can do whatever you want. Just stop making it so painfully obvious that you don’t like him.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s not fair to Jimin. And because it makes it seem like you have a thing for me.”

“I do have a thing for you,” Jungkook says. His voice is getting softer with every sentence and Yoongi, now afraid that he’s done the wrong thing, swivels to face Jungkook. He’s messing with a tuner on Taehyung’s snare, absently turning it back and forth.

“I’m not ready for them to know that,” Yoongi says. The words are painful to get out, like he’s choking on them.

“Are you embarrassed?”

Yoongi puts his hand over Jungkook’s to stop his fidgeting. “It’s not that.”

“What is it?” Jungkook doesn’t pull his hand away, which gives Yoongi some confidence.

“I’m afraid of how they’ll react, I guess.”

“You don’t think they’d be happy for us?”

Yoongi runs his thumb lightly over the back of Jungkook’s hand. “Everything was roses for Bangtan Sonyeondan before I joined. Then Jimin and I started dating right after, and look what happened when we broke up?”

“He quit,” Jungkook says slowly.

“And now I’m dating the singer right away again.”

Jungkook looks up to meet Yoongi’s eyes, some understanding crossing his face. He winces, and Yoongi nods.

“Would they be mad at you?” Jungkook sounds doubtful.

“I don’t know. I’d be mad at me, I guess.”

“Hoseok knows, though, doesn’t he?”

“Hoseok is different,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook nods slowly. He doesn’t look happy.

“These guys are the best friends I have,” Yoongi says. He feels embarrassed to say it, or shy, and doesn’t look at Jungkook’s expression, but he wants him to know. He wants Jungkook to really understand, and not think it has anything to do with him.

“I really like you, though,” Jungkook says. “I don’t like hiding it.”

“It’s not forever,” Yoongi says. “Can we just give it a while?”

There’s a long pause, then Jungkook is in the midst of another nod when Jin’s voice echoes down the stairs. “JK, Yoongi, breakfast is ready!”

They go upstairs to find that Taehyung and Jimin had arrived at some point, and are at the dining room table stuffing their mouths as if famished. They look up in greeting, and Yoongi notes the fact that Jungkook smiles back at Jimin, his expression genuine. Yoongi feels that warm affection for Jungkook, becoming ever more familiar, seep into his chest.

 

Yoongi planned to sit back and sleep during the journey to their show, but all of the kicking against the back of his seat is making it hard to do. He pulls off his headphones, spinning around to face Taehyung and Jimin, who are crushed in the backseat behind him, beside Yoongi’s keyboard.

“Could you stop?” Yoongi asks. Both have a look of mild annoyance on their faces, none of Taehyung’s previous excitement showing through anymore.

“I’m just trying to get more room,” Taehyung says.

“It’s not that bad,” Jimin says.

“My legs are longer than yours.”

Hobi turns around from where he’s sandwiched between Yoongi and Jungkook on the middle seat, to join the conversation. “I thought you were happy to squeeze in back there with Jimin?”

“It’s more of a squeeze than I thought,” Taehyung mutters.

“If it was just the two of us it would be better,” Jimin says. “Instead it’s me, Tae, and Tae’s snacks.”

Yoongi has to laugh at that. Taehyung had brought along a plastic bag full of chips and carbonated drinks, and it’s occupying some of the valuable leg space in the back seat. Jimin catches Yoongi’s eye and starts laughing too, for a few moments. It’s only when Hobi looks between them strangely that Yoongi remembers he’s not exactly on laughing terms with Jimin these days, though it’s a regretful realization.

“We can solve this,” Jin calls back from the front seat.

“Pass the snacks up here,” Namjoon says, seemingly finishing his thought. They turn to grin at each other as Yoongi relaxes back into his seat. He glances over to where Jungkook is boneless with his head against the window, asleep since they started moving. Yoongi thinks about waking him up, sure he’d want to snack, but considering they have a long night ahead decides to leave him asleep.

On the outskirts of the city they decide to stop for dinner. Yoongi climbs out of the van first, stretching his muscles, while Hobi struggles to wake Jungkook beside him. When he finally gets out he’s only half awake, starting to stumble toward Yoongi when he suddenly seems to think better of it and turns to fall against Jin’s shoulder instead. Jin chuckles, putting an arm around his little brother affectionately.

They eat at a small diner, crowded around a table with a grill in the middle. Yoongi finishes his portion quickly and stands up while Taehyung and Jimin are still bickering over who gets to eat the leftover meat.

“I’m gonna go for a walk,” Yoongi says, stretching his arms above his head. He knows walking will help his preshow nerves.

“Do you mind if I come along?” Jungkook asks, also standing. Yoongi nods.

Jungkook and Yoongi exit the restaurant and walk onto the suburban street surrounding the restaurant in silence.

“You don’t think they’ll be suspicious we went out for a walk together, do you?” Jungkook asks, his eyebrows suddenly furrowed.

Yoongi sighs. “No. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t talk to me around them now, Jungkook,” Yoongi says. He’s felt a slow build of regret since their conversation this morning, since Jungkook chose the seat on the other side of Hobi from him in the van.

“I’ve been thinking about what you said,” Jungkook says. “You guys are really my only friends now, too. It’s important - I wouldn’t want you to lose that.”

“It’s not really like I don’t have other friends,” Yoongi says with a shrug. “Most of them are just back in my hometown, I guess. My coworkers at the music shop are friends, maybe just not people I’d hang out with.”

“Well I don’t have other friends,” Jungkook says with a firmness that makes Yoongi look over at him. His jaw is set.

“I don’t understand that, Jungkook,” Yoongi says. “Who wouldn’t want to be your friend?”

Yoongi means for his words to be reassuring, but Jungkook looks at him uncertainly, and runs his tongue over his lips. “It’s a long story,” he says.

“You can tell me if you want,” Yoongi says. They turn down a sidestreet, passing a few low rise apartment buildings. The air is hazy with humidity.

“I lived in a share house with three other guys last year,” Jungkook says. “I didn’t know any of them, but we had a good time at first. I had a girlfriend too, she was in the music program too.”

Jungkook pauses, but Yoongi stays quiet. Jungkook swallows noticeably. “I liked this guy in my chemistry class, though,” he says, his cheeks a light pink. “So I broke up with my girlfriend towards the end of winter.”

Yoongi isn’t sure where this story is going yet, but he feels oddly jealous of everyone in it.

“She asked me why I broke up with her, so I told her,” Jungkook says.

Yoongi looks at him quickly. It doesn’t seem like he’s kidding. “You told your girlfriend you broke up with her because you liked another guy?”

Jungkook nods and shrugs at the same time. “She asked me. I thought it might make her feel better if I was honest.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows, slightly astounded.

“She told all of my housemates, though,” Jungkook says.

“Jungkook,” Yoongi says. “Not that what she did was right - but you shouldn’t mention to someone if you’re breaking up with them for someone else.” Yoongi can’t help but think of Jimin. He unfortunately relates to that unique pain, but has the feeling that Jungkook’s story doesn’t end there.

“I realize that now,” Jungkook mutters, after looking at him a long moment.

They’re alone on the quiet street, and it’s starting to get a little dusky, and Yoongi takes Jungkook’s hand. He can sense that on some level this story is hard for him to tell.

“My housemates told me they didn’t want to want to live with someone like me,” Jungkook says. “They told they rest of my friends. They started throwing away my stuff, they changed the locks on the doors when I wasn’t there, things like that.”

Yoongi squeezes Jungkook’s hand, his heart sinking.

“I guess I’m an easy target for that kind of stuff,” Jungkook says. “That’s what one of them told me. They said they were joking around, but I don’t know.”

Yoongi stops in the street, turning to Jungkook and taking his other hand. “That doesn’t sound like a joke to me.”

Jungkook shakes his head. He’s clearly embarrassed, maybe even ashamed.

“I couldn’t live there anymore,” Jungkook says. “But I couldn’t really tell my parents what happened.”

“You could tell Jin, though?”

Jungkook nods. “As long as I pass my classes and taste test his recipes, he doesn’t care very much. I can usually do one of those things.”

Jungkook sounds bitter. It’s not an emotion Yoongi likes on him. Yoongi leans forward to press a kiss to his cheek. It’s the only thing he can think to do. He dislikes himself in these moments, when he knows he should have something helpful to say but can’t think of anything. Jungkook smiles a little, but turns and keeps walking, pulling Yoongi along with him.

Soon they’ve circled back around and are coming up behind the restaurant again. Yoongi can see everyone else clustered outside around the van, waiting on them, facing the other direction. Jungkook pulls his hand out of Yoongi’s.

Yoongi wants to thank Jungkook for telling him, for sharing something with him that was hard to say. He wants to reassure Jungkook, to somehow make him know that he has a place there, with Bangtan Sonyeondan, and with him. He wants to take Jungkook’s hand again, and kiss him, and push away his doubts.

Yoongi is breathless from these thoughts, for a moment. They’re back at the van, and Jungkook is smiling again, and laughing at something Namjoon says. Yoongi thinks about saying it right then, telling everyone that he’s dating Jungkook and how genuinely happy about it he is.

What Yoongi does instead is push past Hobi as they’re getting into the van, so that he can claim the seat next to Jungkook, pushing their legs together firmly enough that he knows Jungkook feels it. Jungkook turns to him, and smiles, and for the moment that’s enough.

 

The bar they play at that night is like the dozens of others they’ve played at in their hometown. It’s dark, loud and cramped. There are some variation of colored lights rigged to the ceiling that illuminate their performance, and the crowd in front of them.

Yoongi feels a gentle elation, like a pleasant swelling in his chest. He thinks that maybe this was what he was made for, playing music and watching Jungkook as he sings. He thinks Jungkook is radiating a light of his own. He wonders how Jungkook can improve so much every time they perform. When Jungkook’s singing, he’s no longer the shy, awkward kid he is offstage. He’s powerful, and commanding.

No one in this city would have heard of Bangtan Sonyeondan, not so far from home, yet they cheer just as loudly when the set is over. Yoongi has never heard of the band going on after them, but they brought in a respectable crowd, and he’s pleased with the exposure. As soon as they’re offstage Hobi and Taehyung are talking to different groups of people, giving out their social media information.

Jungkook bounds up to Yoongi as he’s putting away his keyboard, wrapping him in a tight hug. Jungkook smells like sweat, and Yoongi can feel his heart beating hard and fast against his own chest. He squeezes him back, and doesn’t care if anyone’s looking, and knows that Jungkook is too wrapped up in the feeling to think about it, either.

“You did good,” Yoongi says close to his ear. Jungkook pulls away, and Yoongi’s heart might beat twice as hard to see him smile at that. Yoongi wants to kiss him. He feels alert, as if he has fresh batteries. He knows that they’re both buzzing, electric, high strung. He slips a hand under the hem of Jungkook’s shirt, up the slick skin of his back, watches him blink. He feels Jungkook’s nails bite into his arm.

“Hey guys,” Taehyung says from behind him. Jungkook jumps, and Yoongi pulls away. Taehyung notices nothing, as he’s busy inspecting his hands. “That was awesome, but I almost lost it halfway through when this blister on my finger broke. See?” He pushes his arm between them, makes them look at his drum-worn hands, and Yoongi laughs.

“I think we might get a new fan base here,” Hobi says when he joins them. Even Namjoon seems more upbeat, pounding back shots at the bar and going on about something animatedly while Jin sits beside him and listens patiently.

They stay at the bar for a while longer. Yoongi goes outside to smoke, and when he comes back in he’s happy to see Jungkook in the midst of a conversation with Taehyung and Jimin, who’s hanging around Taehyung’s neck.

“Hey Yoongi,” Jungkook calls as he walks over. “Taehyung plays Overwatch too!”

“That’s great,” Yoongi says, smiling. “Then you don’t have to bother me about it anymore.”

Jungkook laughs, his cheeks pink with delight and energy.

“Why do you talk to Yoongi about video games, anyway?” Jimin asks Jungkook, also laughing. “He doesn’t like that kind of thing.”

Jungkook doesn’t say anything, but he catches Yoongi’s eye for a moment and smiles, and Yoongi’s heart feels strange. It’s a secret, conspiratorial smile. It’s a smile just for him.

Jimin puts an unexpected, friendly hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. “You know, this kid is really good,” he says. “I’m almost jealous.”

“You’re good too,” Taehyung says, nuzzling his nose into Jimin’s neck. They both have a drink in hand, and Yoongi thinks that’s what’s making them even more touchy than usual.

“You guys made the right choice,” Jimin says, and when his eyes land on Yoongi there’s something he hasn’t seen there in a while, maybe neutrality, maybe kindness. “Even I can admit that much.”

Jungkook blushes red, and Yoongi feels some tension leave his chest.

As they walk out to the van, Namjoon leans against Jin heavily. “I’m so glad you came, man,” he says. “Because I’m way too drunk to drive back.”

“We can switch sitting in the back seat this time,” Yoongi offers, taking an opportunity when he sees Taehyung and Jimin regarding the van cautiously. “Maybe Jungkook and I?”

Jungkook looks at him in surprise, his expression soft.

“Why doesn’t Hobi sit back there with you?” Taehyung says. “Jungkook can sit in the middle with us, I wanted to keep talking about Overwatch.”

“Arguing over the seats again?” Namjoon breaks in, his voice a grumble even though he looks amused this time.

“Hobi gets carsick in the back,” Yoongi says. 

“It’s fine,” Jungkook says. “I want to sleep, anyway.”

They pile into the back, Yoongi and Jungkook pressed together closely but keeping themselves separate. When the doors are all closed, and the lights go off and Jin starts driving, Yoongi slides an arm behind Jungkook, who settles in and rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi runs his fingers through Jungkook’s hair slowly, savoring the mere contact with him. His warm, feverish attraction to Jungkook after the show has settled down with his heartbeat, leaving behind a feeling that’s misty and sweet.

Jungkook’s hand finds its way across Yoongi’s lap, to grasp his free hand. They hold hands like that, in the darkness of the backseat. It’s quiet, and Yoongi thinks everyone else must have realized their fatigue when they sat down. He can see the silhouette of Taehyung curled into Jimin’s lap in front of him, and Hobi’s head lolling to the side. Namjoon and Jin are conversing lowly in the front, but it’s hard to hear any sound from them at all over the hum of the engine. Orange highway lights stream into through the windows at regular intervals. Yoongi feels his own alertness starting to fade as Jungkook plays with his fingers gently.

Jungkook’s mouth is close to Yoongi’s ear, his breath is soft and warm on his neck.

“Yoongi?” Jungkook whispers. Yoongi squeezes his hand lightly to let him know he’s listening, even though his eyes are closed now.

“I’m really glad I met you,” Jungkook says, his voice even softer, impossible for anyone else to hear. Yoongi squeezes Jungkook’s hand again, and this time keeps holding it tightly.

Chapter Text

“So is Jungkook some secret?” Hobi says one night as he’s watching TV and Yoongi is hunched over a textbook brushing up on calculus formulas. “You never kept Jimin a secret.”

Yoongi sighs, and feels tired. “Imagine Jimin letting himself be a secret.”

“I can’t,” says Hobi, with a nod. “But that doesn’t answer my question.”

“It’s not that he’s a secret,” Yoongi says. “I just don’t want everyone to know yet.”

Hobi raises an eyebrow. “So, like a secret?”
“What do you think Namjoon would say?” Yoongi says. “How do you think Taehyung would feel?”

Hobi shrugs. “They might be happy for you?”

“After I ruined things with Jimin?”

He broke up with you ,” Hobi says.

“It still ended with him leaving the band,” Yoongi says, and looks down at his notebook. He’s having trouble concentrating on the formulas on the page now that this topic has come up. It looks like a foreign language unless he focuses, and he wonders if this is how calculus seems to Jungkook normally.

“Namjoon and Taehyung are too chill to care,” Hobi says after a moment.

“Namjoon isn’t so chill these days.” Yoongi thinks of Namjoon and his tense moods lately, his dark expressions. They tend to color the room when everyone is together, the way Yoongi imagines he did at the beginning of the summer.

“I think he’s just stressed,” Hobi says, waving a dismissive hand. “Relationship troubles, something about school. He’ll get back to normal soon enough.”

“And what about Jin?” Yoongi asks, swallowing. “How do you think he would feel about me being with his little brother?”
Hobi meets his eyes, blinking as if in confusion. “Jin?”

“Jungkook seems to think Jin doesn’t want him focusing on anything besides school.”

“Jungkook is an adult,” Hobi says, his voice firm but gentle. “He can make his own decisions, you and Jin both know that.”

“I’m just trying to keep things how they are,” Yoongi says. Trying to keep things good is what he means, so that he can keep playing shows, keep being around a group of people he genuinely enjoys. “I’m trying not to upset anyone.”

“Jin could beat you up pretty easily,” Hobi says. “So be careful.” Yoongi knows he’s joking, but can only manage a tight smile.

“I’m doing the best I can,” Yoongi says.

“You’re overthinking things,” Hobi says. “Getting anxious over nothing.”

“It’s what I do,” Yoongi says.

Hobi flips through channels idly, looking at the screen but not really watching. “You seem to really like him,” he says.

Yoongi looks up again. “Jungkook?”

Hobi nods. “It’s funny, you know. You’re not the most likely couple. It’s like you, cold and stoic, meets… Jungkook.”

Yoongi feels like he should be offended by the description, but it’s too accurate for him to argue. “I guess so,” he says.

“Why do you like Jungkook, anyway?” Hobi asks. There’s nothing accusing in his voice, just genuine curiosity, and for a moment Yoongi sees things from his perspective. He’s almost surprised the question hasn’t come up before. He’s not totally oblivious to the way he himself acts, to his own introverted nature or tendency to be apathetic. Jungkook’s most notable features - his enthusiasm, his lack of a filter, his startling positivity - don’t seem to fit.

Yoongi thinks that, maybe, it would be easier to list things he doesn’t like about Jungkook. Yoongi thinks the only way to describe what he does like about Jungkook would be to have him there in person. Yoongi would need to present Jungkook in his entirety, and challenge Hobi to find something not to like.

Yoongi shrugs, to answer Hobi’s question. “I don’t know.”

Hobi laughs, his eyes crinkling at the sides. “That’s typical.”

Yoongi feels a prickle of mild annoyance, and thinks harder for a moment. “Jungkook doesn’t worry about who he is. He doesn’t try to change himself, even if some people dislike him for it.”

“Kind of like you,” Hobi says, his face transitioning to seriousness again.

Yoongi considers that. In a way, comparing himself to Jungkook is a bit laughable. “Well, he doesn’t seem to want me to change,” Yoongi says, his voice coming out softer, without his intention. “He hasn’t always seen me at my best, but he doesn’t care. He just seems to like me anyway.”

Yoongi swallows, and suddenly feels like words are hard to get out. He goes silent, and in the next moment Hobi appears to think over what he’s about to say long and hard. Yoongi feels concerned by that, and focuses on the reflection of the TV in the window, flickering like a flame.

“How does Jungkook feel about being a secret?” Hobi says finally. The question stings, catching on the vulnerability Yoongi had just let himself display.

“He doesn’t like it,” Yoongi answers after a reasonably long moment, the blue lines in his notebook running together the longer he looks at them.

“I don’t - I’m sure you don’t want him to get hurt,” Hobi says, turning around fully and putting his arm on the back of the couch, craning his neck to look at Yoongi.

For a moment, Yoongi wonders why no one worries that he could get hurt.

 

As Jungkook’s calculus final approaches, their studying sessions become longer, often tipping over the edge into time they’re supposed to be practicing. The result is an annoyed Namjoon and an impatient Taehyung, but Yoongi thinks that for once something is more important than the band, at least until Jungkook has passed the class.

Yoongi insists they study every day leading up to the test, even though one of those days includes a show in the evening. He can tell Jungkook is getting frustrated, and so every passing moment begins to feel longer. Jungkook has gotten quieter over the course of their session, hardly replying to Yoongi’s prompting, sighing often.

“Can we stop?” Jungkook asks eventually, half timid, half pleading.

“We should really do one more word problem,” Yoongi says hesitantly.

“I need to get ready for the show,” Jungkook whines. “I need to shower and change.”

Yoongi starts steeling himself to be firm, pulling up some response he can use to convince Jungkook, but loses all momentum when he looks up. All it takes is a glimpse of Jungkook’s doe eyes, creased with worry, his hair fluffy and messy.

“It’s fine,” Yoongi says. “We still have a few more days.”

Jungkook’s shoulders sink with relief, and he leans over in his chair to wrap his arms around Yoongi’s neck, resting his head on Yoongi’s shoulder for a moment. Yoongi smooths his hair down. He senses Jungkook’s exhaustion and frustration, and realizes he’s probably worried about performing that night too.

“Go clean yourself up,” Yoongi says, nudging Jungkook away gently. “You’re all sweaty from concentrating so hard.”

Jungkook groans, and only holds onto Yoongi more closely. Yoongi feels the tightness of his embrace echoed in his chest. Again there’s that sensation of thickness in his throat, and a tingling in his limbs. The feelings are at once both pleasant and worrying. The minimal distance between them is too much separation for Yoongi, who suddenly wants to find out how close two people can get, wants to skip the show and spend hours in close proximity to Jungkook.

“You’re suffocating me,” Yoongi says, pulling away.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, yawning. Yoongi feels cold without Jungkook’s arms around him.

Yoongi pulls Jungkook up with him as he stands, and guides him in the direction of his closet. Yoongi watches Jungkook for a moment, thinking about how nice he looks in his white t shirt and jeans, how Yoongi can’t think of anyone looking so good in such a simple outfit, not even Jimin.

“Make yourself presentable,” Yoongi says, and Jungkook turns to scowl at him. “I’m gonna run home, I’ll see you at the show.”

Their set that night is at a bar they’ve played at often enough, but they’re allowed to go longer than usual. Yoongi sees the allowance for a few extra songs in their setlist as a sign of progress, and puts himself into the music, devoting himself fully as if he’s married to his keyboard. Sometimes, he feels as if there’s nothing besides him and his fingers on the keys, and that’s the mindset it tries to get into. He’s a little concerned, though, at how often he feels compelled to look up at Jungkook, to watch his movements, his side profile as he sings.

It’s not Yoongi who makes a mistake that night, though. He’s not sure if its the longer set or something else, but he can’t help but notice a few slip ups on Jungkook’s part, from a missed note to forgotten lyrics, in one case so extreme that he goes into the chorus at the wrong time, causing Namjoon to play the wrong part as well. Although they catch themselves, a tenseness pervades the rest of their performance.

Yoongi learned long ago that most of the time the audience won’t pick up on mistakes, and that slip ups are bound to happen, but somehow that never makes it easier. He tries to push away his disappointment, heading for the bar as soon as they’re off stage and Yoongi’s zipped up his keyboard and stashed it in Namjoon’s van. Taehyung joins him as soon as he’s done packing up his drums.

“That was awesome!” Taehyung says, tapping the neck of his beer bottle against Yoongi’s. “I had fun.”

Yoongi smiles, thinking that it’s not just the audience who tends to overlook mistakes. “You always have fun.”

“I just like to play.” Taehyung sets down his bottle on the bar long enough to mimic playing the drums, as if he’s ready to get right back to it. He bobs his head to whatever song he’s air drumming to.

“When did you start playing the drums, anyway?” Yoongi asks.

Taehyung puts a hand under his chin, as if he’s thinking hard. The dramatics in everything he does should annoy Yoongi, but instead it usually amuses him. “Since I was twelve,” Taehyung says. “I got a set for Christmas that year, because my grandma thought it would help me deal with my extra energy.”

“Do you want to be famous?” Yoongi asks.

“A famous drummer,” Taehyung muses. “That’d be nice, but I’d rather be a famous actor. Jimin’s trying to convince me to go back to school and finish my acting degree.”

Yoongi pauses, words getting stuck in his throat, and he brings his bottle to his lips again. He has a hard time carrying conversations, always has, unless it’s Hoseok. Or Jungkook, these days, because when neither of them has anything to say the silence is actually comfortable. With Taehyung, he feels like he should say something.

“Where is Jimin, anyway?” Yoongi blurts out “I didn’t see him at our show last week, and he hasn’t come to any practices, either.”

It might have only been a week and a half but still, it’s unusual. Yoongi’s gotten used to the fact that his friends are Jimin’s friends too, and so seeing him around is normal, even if they don’t talk often. Taehyung picks at the label on his bottle, peeling it off a little.

“He’s been busy.”

“A new performance?” Yoongi guesses. “Hobi hasn’t said anything.”

Yoongi looks at Taehyung when he doesn’t reply, and sees that he’s looking away. The energy seems to have seeped out of the conversation, and Yoongi suddenly feels bad, as if it might be something he said. He wonders if Taehyung doesn’t like him talking to him about Jimin, even though he doesn’t seem like the jealous type.

Yoongi’s gaze goes to the front of the bar, where Jungkook is by the stage standing close to a man Yoongi’s never seen before, seemingly deep in conversation. The other man has a long face, his hair formed into a swoop over his forehead. Jungkook’s eyes are wide at whatever he’s saying, his mouth slightly agape. Yoongi wants to pull Jungkook away to join his conversation with Taehyung, knowing it would dispel the awkwardness, but it doesn’t seem like an option at the moment.

“Do you want to go outside?” Yoongi asks, looking back to Taehyung. “I want a cigarette.”

They finish their beers and exit to the back of the bar, into the parking lot. Yoongi immediately spots Namjoon and Hobi standing by the van. Without Jin and Jimin in attendance, their number seems small, and as Yoongi and Taehyung join them it feels like something is missing.

Yoongi can see that Namjoon is wearing a scowl as they approach, and though Hobi is halfway through a joint his shoulders are squared in a way that doesn’t look very relaxed. Yoongi begins to regret leaving the bar, even though the air outside is cool and fresh, damp from a recent rain. Streetlights gleam off of the pavement, and the noise inside the bar is a dull thud.

“Yoongi?” Hobi holds the joint out. Yoongi takes a hit and returns it, shuffling his feet. He lights a cigarette next, filling his lungs with more smoke to pass the time.

“I really liked the band who went on before us,” Taehyung begins, but Namjoon seems to immediately take the broken silence as an opportunity to speak again himself.

“I think we need to say something to Jungkook,” he says.

“About what?” Taehyung tilts his head.

“About all those mistakes,” Namjoon says. “He fucked up the chorus in Run , missed notes, it wasn’t like him.”

Yoongi feels himself prickle, almost as if his hackles are raising like a dog. Hobi swallows hard enough beside him to be audible.

“You’re right,” Yoongi says. “It wasn’t like him, so we should let it go this time.”

Namjoon’s stare is hard, a challenge. “What happened to Yoongi the perfectionist?” he asks. “What happened to insulting my guitar work even when no one else can hear a problem?”

“Namjoon,” Taehyung says. He’s looking at his friend as if he doesn’t fully recognize him.

“Adjusting and insulting aren’t the same thing,” Yoongi says evenly.

“He threw the whole song off,” Namjoon says. “It was embarrassing.” There’s nothing outwardly angry about his tone or his voice, but Yoongi still feels a hostility behind it, or thinks that he does.

“Mistakes happen,” Yoongi says. “It’s only going to upset him if you point it out.”

“But maybe if we point it out, it won’t happen again.”

“I’m telling you not to,” Yoongi says. He has his free hand on a door handle of the van, gripping it tightly.

“You’re acting like I want to hurt his feelings,” Namjoon says, his voice a pitch higher than usual. “I’m just trying to help us be the best we can.”

“Guys, c’mon,” Hobi says, taking a step forward. “Namjoon, I’m sure that’s not what he meant.”

“It’s what’s going to happen if you say something,” Yoongi says, flicking ash off the end of his cigarette. He glances as Taehyung, who has his arms wrapped around himself, his shoulders slumped uncharacteristically.

“Let’s not fight,” Hobi says. “Maybe we should just forget about this.”

“Of course you’d take his side,” Namjoon snaps. Hobi steps forward again, his disposition darkening in a way that makes Yoongi nervous. The threat of an angry Hobi is unpleasant enough to make Yoongi almost regret pushing back against Namjoon.

“We had fun,” Taehyung says. “Isn’t that what’s important?”
“No,” Namjoon and Yoongi both reply at the same time. In the following silence, tense enough to make Yoongi’s skin crawl, he hears footsteps approaching and then the sound of Jungkook’s voice, his words quick.

“Guys, guess what?” he says as he bounds toward them.

For a moment, no one answers, maybe too confused to gather their thoughts. The juxtaposition of seeing Jungkook beaming after just discussing his hurt feelings is a bit jarring.

“What is it?” Hobi finally says, his tone dull compared to the feverish excitement in Jungkook’s.

“Do you know who that guy was I was talking to in there?”

“Who?” Yoongi asks, humoring him. Jungkook is looking only at him, and doesn’t seem to pick up on any of the discomfort he had walked in on.

“A YouTuber, he goes by the username BamBam. He does let’s plays and daily vlogs with his cats.”

“Okay,” Hobi says, his voice tired.

“He has half a million subscribers,” Jungkook says. “And he loves our band.”

“Okay,” Hobi says again, this time with his head up.

“He said he’d put us in a daily vlog the next time we play,” Jungkook says. “If we want.”

“Of course we want,” Hobi says.

“I love BamBam,” Taehyung says, his voice soft with awe. “I didn’t recognize him.”

“Isn’t that cool, Yoongi?” Jungkook asks, turning his gaze on Yoongi with a toothy grin that makes Yoongi’s chest ache.

“It’s really cool,” Yoongi says, cigarette between his fingers, smiling. He looks away long enough to glance at Namjoon, shooting daggers with his eyes. Namjoon’s gaze is fixed on the ground, though, the conviction seemingly gone from him. Yoongi hopes he feels bad, that Jungkook’s bright eyes and enthusiasm have made Namjoon rethink ever speaking a word against him. Yoongi’s own investment in the matter startles him. He almost suspects that he would have been more upset that Jungkook would have been at being criticized, which is a strange thought.

“Let’s go dump this stuff at Jin’s place,” Namjoon says, gesturing to his van.

The ride back is tense, Taehyung filling the silence by babbling to Jungkook about BamBam. Yoongi thinks Taehyung deserves some kind of medal for how often he tries to lighten situations. It’s certainly a skill that Yoongi himself doesn’t have.

Though it’s relatively late when they return to Jin’s house, he’s not home.

“Sometimes he’s stays late to start prep for the next day,” Jungkook says.

“He shouldn’t work so hard,” Namjoon says. “It’s like he lives at that restaurant.”

“He would if he could,” Jungkook says. “It’s what he loves doing.”

“It must be nice to do what you love for a job,” Taehyung muses. “I could go the rest of my life without spending another day doing menial labor.”

“Maybe Jimin’s right,” Yoongi says. “Maybe you should pick up your acting degree again, see where it takes you.”

Taehyung shuts down, as if Yoongi has hit an off switch, offering only a weak shrug and looking away toward the van. Yoongi almost feels like he should offer an apology, but isn’t sure what he’s sorry for.

They unload their instruments into Jin’s living room, Yoongi deciding to leave his keyboard since they’ll be back for practice the following night. It feels dim and empty in Jin’s house, and the very atmosphere is tired. Taehyung is quiet now, Hobi is high to the point that Yoongi knows he won’t say much, and Namjoon is putting things away with a forced determination. Though the five of them there are technically the members of the band, Yoongi once again feels that they’re incomplete without Jin and Jimin.

Yoongi reaches for his keyboard to carry it downstairs, and finds his hand next to Jungkook’s, their fingertips pressed together. It’s just them in the living room, since everyone else is already on their way downstairs with their gear, so Yoongi wraps his fingers around Jungkook’s hand, squeezes lightly.

“I can get this, JK,” Yoongi says.

“I want to help,” Jungkook says, hoisting the keyboard into his arms. Watching Jungkook carry it toward the stairs, Yoongi gets the pleasant feeling that he’s showing off, the way his shirt is pulled against his muscles, the defined shape of his back.

Yoongi trails Jungkook down the stairs to where everyone is setting down their instruments. Namjoon’s posture is tense and Yoongi feels half ashamed, immature to have fought with him earlier.

“I’m gonna head home,” Namjoon says, after putting his electric guitar on the stand, still in its case. He glances around at all of them, his gaze landing and staying on Taehyung. “Anyone want a ride?”

“I do,” says Taehyung.
“Yoongi and I can take the train,” Hobi says, before Yoongi gets the chance to speak. “We’re kind of out of your way.”

Namjoon nods, and flicks his head in the direction of the stairs, which they all climb to get back to the front door.

“Practice tomorrow night?” Yoongi says, quickly, before Namjoon and Taehyung have the chance to leave. He’s looking at Namjoon’s back, who doesn’t turn to face them.

“I don’t know,” Namjoon says. “I might have to grade some papers.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says, not mentioning that they’ve had the practice scheduled since the week before, not saying that he doesn’t want them to be angry at each other.

“Let us know,” Hobi says, as they leave. Taehyung turns to wave at them, a bit sadly. Jungkook calls goodbye from the kitchen. When the door closes behind them, it’s quiet.

“Want to get going?” Hobi asks, his voice low. The house is half dark and sleepy, only a few lights on here and there. Yoongi nods even though the thought of leaving isn’t actually that appealing to him. He looks around behind him. He gaze doesn’t find Jungkook, so he heads into the kitchen. Jungkook has the fridge open, digging inside as if looking for treasure.

“We’re gonna head out, Jungkook,” Hobi says from behind Yoongi.

Jungkook peeks his head out from around the refrigerator door. “Okay,” he says.

“Are you hungry, Jungkook?” Yoongi asks.

Jungkook nods, licking his lips slightly. “Normally Jin leaves something to eat, but he must not have had time today.”

“You sound spoiled,” Hobi says through a soft smile.

“Do you want to go get food?” Yoongi says. For once he isn’t ready to go home and fall into bed, doesn’t want to end the night on the note it’s left off on.

Jungkook looks pleased at the suggestion, his front teeth poking through. He nods.

“How about that hamburger place you were telling Taehyung about the other day?”

Jungkook’s eyes widen. “With the gigantic bacon cheeseburgers, you mean.”

Yoongi laughs. “That’s right.”

“It’s open late, that’s perfect!” Jungkook says, closing the refrigerator door. Yoongi didn’t know someone could be so enthusiastic about cheeseburgers and so attractive at the same time. Yoongi turns to Hobi for his opinion, and he makes a show of yawning, wide and loud, stretching his arms above his head.

“I think I’m more tired than hungry,” Hobi says. “I’m probably just gonna head home, I’ll leave you two to it.”

They part ways at the train, Hobi returning to their apartment and Yoongi and Jungkook heading into the city. It’s nearing midnight, and the train is empty and silent. Yoongi puts his head on Jungkook’s shoulder as the swaying begins to lull him into relaxation.

“I can’t believe you remember me talking to Taehyung about this place,” Jungkook says.

Yoongi wants to tell Jungkook that he’s a magnet for his attention. That when Jungkook’s eyes are bright, when he’s gesturing and enthusiastic, Yoongi finds nearly impossible to focus on anything else.

“I’m pretty sure everyone could hear you talking about it,” Yoongi says.

“Are you saying I’m loud?” Jungkook pushes Yoongi playfully.

The diner welcomes them with glowing neon signs, too bright fluorescents, and the smell of grease. Truthfully, Yoongi has no appetite for a cheeseburger at the moment, but Jungkook looks like it’s Christmas morning. Lately when Jungkook wants something that inconveniences Yoongi, it doesn’t feel like an inconvenience at all.

Despite Jungkook’s ravenous stares, the fact that his mouth is practically watering while looking at the food on other people’s plates, when their burgers arrive he only takes a few bites before transitioning into pushing it around on his plate. Yoongi watches him, setting down his own burger, which really is gigantic. He thinks he’ll probably have to admit defeat before he’s even halfway done. He picks up a fry, remembering events earlier in the evening, and clears his throat.

“Is everything alright, Jungkook?”

Jungkook looks up quickly with a guilty expression. “I think so,” he says.

“You’re not eating much.”

“I’m not as hungry as I thought.”

Yoongi thinks of letting it go. Normally, he’d be happy to. But he’s genuinely upset by the quiet, contemplative Jungkook, the Jungkook who isn’t acting as he typically would.

“You’re sure there’s nothing bothering you?” Yoongi says.

Jungkook looks up at him, his dark eyes tired. “Is this because of the show?”
Yoongi feels caught, ashamed, even if he has no reason to be. He didn’t expect Jungkook to know what he was talking about. “I noticed a couple of mistakes, but it’s not - ”

“I know I messed up, Yoongi, I don’t - ”

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” Yoongi says. He focuses on firmness in his tone, determined not to be misunderstood this time. He’s relieved when he sees Jungkook’s expression transition from guilt, even fear, to something gentler. His eyes search Yoongi’s face until he apparently finds what he’s looking for, and his shoulders slump with a sigh.

“I’m not going to pass this calculus test.”

Yoongi sits back a little. He feels his body relax, feels himself ease away from the confrontation he was afraid was about to happen. “That’s what you’re worried about?”

Jungkook nods, pulling a piece of bacon off of his cheeseburger and nibbling on it. “I don’t want to fail again.”

“You won’t fail,” Yoongi says, adding every ounce of conviction to his voice that he can. It helps that he believes it.

Jungkook doesn’t answer, and doesn’t look up, and Yoongi realizes how real his concern must be. He reaches across the table to take Jungkook’s hand in his own, squeezing his fingers and catching his eye.

“Do you think I spent all this time tutoring you just for you to fail?”

At this, finally a smile ghosts over Jungkook’s lips. “Probably not.”

“Definitely not.”

“Jin would be really disappointed.”

“You’re ready Jungkook,” Yoongi says. “I can tell that you are, even if you can’t.”

“If you say so,” Jungkook says, smiling fully.

“I do. And you trust me, right?”

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

It is the kind of day so hot that everything more than a few feet in front of Yoongi looks hazy and washed out. He can feel a line of sweat running down the dip of his spine, and his sunglasses slide down his nose as soon as he pushes them back up. He’s relieved to be in the relative coolness of Jin’s house, but still doesn’t understand how Jin can stand to be in front of the oven, something boiling on the stovetop. Yoongi heads quickly down the stairs into the basement, savoring another dip in temperature.

Hoseok and Namjoon are already present, setting up in a silence that makes Yoongi feel somewhat on edge. Namjoon is pale, his expression taut. Hobi looks up at Yoongi with a smile that only lights up 80% of his face, as opposed to the usual full 100%.

“Is everything alright?” Yoongi asks, setting his keyboard down and wiping his brow, catching his breath.

“Taehyung and Jimin broke up,” Hobi says, his voice soft, with a glance at Namjoon.

“Shit,” Yoongi says, feeling truly surprised. He looks from Hobi to Namjoon for signs that they’re joking or exaggerating the situation, but they look grave. “I didn’t expect that.”

“I know,” Hobi says, with a tight smile. “I’m shocked they didn’t at least last as long as you two did.”

Yoongi knows it’s a joke, and Namjoon must know it too, but it still somehow seems in bad taste. No one says anything, but inside Yoongi is burning with curiosity. He wants to know what happened, and if it felt as abrupt to Taehyung as it had felt to him. It had to have been Jimin that broke up with Taehyung, Yoongi thinks. Remembering the way Taehyung would gaze at Jimin, like he was the answer to every problem faced by humanity, Yoongi didn’t think it could be the other way around. It feels like there are icicles being driven into his chest. He wonders if Jungkook would ever look at him that way, and if he would deserve it.

“Hey guys!” Jungkook flies down the stairs, oblivious to the thick atmosphere of the room, bringing a smile to Yoongi’s face despite himself. Jungkook is ready to go right away, as usual, standing at the microphone, doing vocal warm ups.

“Do you think Taehyung’s still coming?” Yoongi asks carefully when he sees Namjoon checking his phone.

“I’m here,” Taehyung says, from the top of the stairs, where apparently no one had noticed him. Normally, he couldn’t enter a room without being noticed. Yoongi wouldn’t have once called Taehyung quiet until that day, though quiet still wasn’t the best description. Yoongi thinks it seems more like he’s trying not to exist.

Taehyung’s eyes are sunken, surrounded by pink skin that looks like bruising. His hair is limp and clearly unwashed, and the fact that his green highlights have faded away to leave pale straw colored streaks makes it look dirtier.

Even Jungkook notices the difference, his face falling into confusion, his large eyes clouding over. “Tae, are you okay?”

“Jimin broke up with me,” Taehyung says, his voice breathy as if with disbelief. There’s Yoongi’s confirmation. Jungkook’s lips part but he seems at a loss for words.

“I’m sorry,” Hobi says. “We’re all really sorry, Tae.”

“We don’t have to practice today if you don’t feel up to it,” Namjoon says.

“I want to,” Taehyung says, shaking his head. “I want to do something.”

Jungkook is at the microphone, clutching it, and when they start playing Yoongi is pleasantly surprised by the intensity of their practice. There’s no pauses to goof off, and though Taehyung loses the beat a few times, he’s more accurate than Yoongi would have expected. His face is a mask of grim determination, and the rest of them match his mood.

It’s not like when Yoongi and Jimin broke up and everyone stepped carefully around Yoongi and avoided mentioning it. There were sympathetic words, and pats on the back, and Yoongi had gone out drinking with Hobi and Namjoon one night. Even though by all accounts Taehyung and Jimin’s relationship was shorter, there’s an acute sense of loss that they all seem to feel. It’s as if the room is empty, even with all of them there and their music reverberating off of the walls. It feels as if they should be preparing for a funeral.

As they work their way through their practice set, Yoongi is surprised by how often he finds himself glancing to Taehyung, checking on him. He’s surprised by the hand of grief that grips him everytime he looks at Taehyung, because he somehow understands that even if he knows what it feels like, he only understands a fraction of it. He had been furious when Jimin had broken up with him for Taehyung, had spent weeks desperately wanting something to go wrong between them out of spite. Now he’s ashamed of those feelings. Yoongi had been in love before, or he thought he had, but it hadn’t looked like Taehyung and Jimin. It hadn’t been that believable.

“Let’s stop,” Namjoon decides finally, after their practice goes on for much longer than usual, and Jungkook’s voice is getting noticeably hoarse.

“I don’t want to,” Taehyung says, his fists tight around his drumsticks.

“My fingers are sore,” Hobi says, smiling kindly at Taehyung. “We should rest.”

“I don’t want to,” Taehyung says again. I don’t want to be alone, is what Yoongi hears.

“We can keep hanging out if you want,” Namjoon says, because he must hear it too.

“We can go upstairs,” Jungkook offers. “I bet Jin has made something good, we can play video games.”

“It’s a Saturday night,” Hobi says. “We should go out.”

Namjoon sends him a harsh glance, but beside him Taehyung is nodding.

“Going out sounds good.”

Hobi looks to Yoongi, who shrugs. “Sure.”

“Karaoke?” Hobi suggests.

They end up at a karaoke bar, Jin tagging along, where they start with shots of soju and go from there. Yoongi hasn’t known Taehyung to be a heavy drinker, and normally he isn’t himself either, but a round of shots quickly turns into three for all of them. Namjoon buys them beers, and they all sit in a booth as Hobi goes up to sing. It’s unclear if he’s on tune or not.

Hobi pulls Taehyung on stage for his next song, and Jungkook wanders back to the bar. Jin and Namjoon have their heads close together, glancing at Taehyung every so often, their brows furrowed. Yoongi isn’t part of the conversation, so he trails Jungkook to the bar and helps him carry back another round of drinks.

“It just seems so sudden,” Jin is saying, his voice raised above the music, when they return.

“It happened yesterday,” Namjoon says. “He won’t talk about it.”

They go quiet and lean towards each other again when Yoongi sits back down, as if he shouldn’t hear. It stings, it’s not like it’s any more their business than it is his.

Hobi and Taehyung return to the table, and they pick back up their drinks and loud conversation, and the world turns over a little. Yoongi swallows. He realizes suddenly that they’ve had a startling amount to drink in a short of amount of time, and he decides to give it a rest. Anyway, drinking isn’t working to lighten the mood this time, even though Yoongi expects that was the intention. It’s just making it more chaotic. Taehyung and Namjoon are going on at top volume about something Yoongi can’t follow until, very suddenly, Taehyung is crying.

Namjoon jumps to his feet. As if rushing into battle, he pushes past Yoongi and switches seats with Jungkook so that he can sit next to Taehyung. Jungkook is pressed against Yoongi after that, hot and close, and the world spins a little more. Across the table, Hobi locks eyes with Yoongi and winces, glancing at Taehyung.

The tears keep coming, and Namjoon wraps his arm around Taehyung, and Yoongi figures he should have expected it. This isn’t how he saw his evening going, drunk at a bar, the world a shade too dark.

“It’s gonna be okay,” Jin calls to Taehyung across the table. They’re seated diagonally from each other, and the need for Jin to yell makes the sentiment feel a little lost.

“It is,” Namjoon says, nodding. Taehyung’s face is messy, and he doesn’t seem to care. “You’ll get through this.”

“Breakups fucking suck,” Hobi says. “We’ve all been through it, and we’ve all survived.”

Taehyung shakes his head, dismissing their words as if they’re irrelevant. “I really love him,” he says, all present tense and unapologetic. “I thought he loved me too. I really do.”

His words are a tangle, mixed up and a little slurred.

“Jimin has bad taste,” Jungkook says, suddenly. Everyone turns to him, eyes a little wide. “I mean, he has good taste.” Jungkook’s brow furrows, as if he’s thinking. “But he broke up with Yoongi too for no reason even though Yoongi’s, like, the most amazing person I know.”

And Jungkook leans into Yoongi a little harder. The table is quiet for a moment. Taehyung sniffles, glancing between Jungkook and Yoongi, eyes not focused on either of them.

“Now he did the same to you,” Jungkook continues. “He’s a jerk.”

He says the last part with conviction, and even as he does Taehyung is shaking his head. “No, no he’s not.”

There’s anger and defensiveness on Taehyung’s face, even through his tears, and Yoongi finds he understands it. Yoongi looks away and then his eyes are locked on Namjoon’s, and feels a sick sensation hit the pit of his stomach. His nostrils are filled with Jungkook’s soft, laundry detergent scent.

“You don’t know the full situation,” Yoongi says to Jungkook, more coherent than he feels. “So try not to make that judgement.”

A bit of Jungkook’s weight comes off of him, and he feels relief, and in the gloom of the crowded bar the glint of Hobi’s eyes catch his own.

“Does anyone want to go out for a bit?” Hobi asks, holding up his metal box and looking at Yoongi, knowing he’s the only one likely to say yes. Yoongi nods a little, and pushes clumsily past Jungkook, out of the booth, out of the small bar.

It’s a bar they’ve played at before, more than once, so they’re familiar with the privacy of the alley behind it. Now that he’s walking and standing, Yoongi realizes how unsteady he feels on his feet, and squeezes his eyes closed for a moment to try to regain his balance.

“ - seems to get himself into trouble when he’s drunk, huh?”

Yoongi opens his eyes again, struggles for a moment to focus on Hobi in front of him. Only some light from the street seeps back into the alley, and most of Hobi’s face is in shadow.

“What?” Yoongi asks.

“Jungkook,” Hobi clarifies, popping open his box and pulling out an already rolled joint. “He doesn’t seem to have any filter when he’s been drinking. I mean he hardly has a filter without alcohol, so it makes sense.”

Hobi’s talking too fast and saying too much, so Yoongi doesn’t answer. He feels confused, a slow confusion that’s been building as he’s ignored it.

“You look pale,” Hobi says, pointedly looking Yoongi up and down. “And you seem tense.”

Hobi holds out the joint for Yoongi and he takes it, more as something to do than anything else. For a moment, when he looks up and into Hobi’s kind eyes and impartial expression, Yoongi thinks about telling him everything. All of his silent fears, his guilt over keeping Jungkook a secret for no reason, until the secret spiraled away from him and started to feel like he was actually doing something wrong. His uncertainty of what to do now, when he feels like a traitor to his friends.

“I just needed fresh air,” Yoongi says.

Hobi sends him a look of concern, inhaling on the joint. “I thought Jimin seemed distant lately,” he says, as he hands it over. “He didn’t mention anything like this, though.”

“Did he mention it before he broke up with me ?” Yoongi asks, the thought startling.

“No,” Hobi says, shaking his head. “But that was more expected.”

Yoongi just shrugs when Hobi gives him a guilty look, because it’s true. At the moment he didn’t expect Jimin to break up with him, but once it was done he thought he should have seen it coming. The farther away from the breakup he gets, the more it makes sense, he has to admit that. Being with Jimin made him feel exhilarated, and important, and excited. But not comfortable. Jimin always made him think he was either too good for him or not good enough, and he still wasn’t sure which.

“I knew both Jimin and Taehyung separately before they met,” Hobi is saying. “But it’s like they’re more who they are when they’re together then they even were alone, do you know what I mean?”

Yoongi laughs a little, and pretends that Hobi just said something incomprehensible. The reality is that he understands what Hobi is saying exactly.

“I’m not looking forward to talking to Jimin at the studio tomorrow,” Hobi says, with a sigh. “He’s not going to want to discuss it.”

“Then don’t,” Yoongi says.

Hobi gives him a hard look. “Jimin’s kind of like you sometimes,” Hobi says. “You have to force him to do what’s best for himself.”

They finish the joint without saying anything else, and Hobi turns to go back inside.

“I’m going to hang out here a while longer,” Yoongi says, leaning against the brick side of the building.

Hobi seems to think of saying something else, but then just nods and leaves, passing around the corner soundlessly. Yoongi watches him go, then leans back again and lets his mind spin away. His stomach hurts, and his head hurts, and he realizes he drank too much. He feels tired from the day, from his questions about Taehyung and Jungkook and himself.

Yoongi wants to stay there for a while in the quiet. When he was younger, he needed quiet all the time. He needed it to work, to think, to rest. Being in multiple bands, becoming used to dealing with group dynamics, and being best friends with Hobi had annulled this need a bit. Now Yoongi needed solitude and silence the most only at his most anxious moments, his most uncertain. And his anxiety had been building, even under the current of giddiness that had invaded his life since Jungkook had come into it. With a few more moments by himself, a few more minutes to think and steady his heart, he’s sure he’ll come back down.

He doesn’t get that, though.

It’s Namjoon that Yoongi feels standing close beside him, his breath audible. Yoongi sees this when he opens his eyes, blinks through the blurriness, feels dizzy amongst the faraway sounds of karoke and the street lights.

“I need to talk to you,” Namjoon says. He doesn’t look hostile, a fact that Yoongi knows in some tucked away part of his mind. Yet Yoongi ascribes hostility to him, thinks he feels it in waves, even if maybe it’s his own guilt. Namjoon is worrying at his bottom lip with his teeth, running a hand through his messy hair.

“What is it?” Yoongi says, not able to keep that defensive edge out of his tone. Their argument from days ago sits heavily on his shoulders, paining him.

“Why are you messing around with Jungkook?” Namjoon asks, an almost imperceptible waver in his voice.

Yoongi swallows hard, the question unexpectedly offensive to him. “I’m not messing around with him,” he snaps.

Namjoon blinks, as if surprised by his tone. “But you’re seeing him. Dating him,” he says firmly.

Yoongi doesn’t answer.

“Why did you think we wouldn’t notice?” Namjoon says, his voice raising. “You defending him all the time, treating him like porcelain. The way he clings to your arm and goes on about how awesome you are?”
Yoongi doesn’t answer again. Strangely, he feels like crying. It’s a sudden and unexpected sensation, and he could only guess his drunkenness is what causes it to come over him. All he can think about is how much he doesn’t want Namjoon to yell at him here, outside the karaoke bar, and the thought makes him feel pathetic.

“You walk out just now, and you’re all he can talk about,” Namjoon continues. “The music you’re writing, the clothes you wear, the hamburger place you went the other night.”

Yoongi stings as if he’s been slapped. Was Jungkook that obvious? He’d had a lot to drink, but his inebriation shouldn’t be an excuse for that.

“What do you want me to say, praise how clever you are for figuring it out?” Yoongi knows his words are biting, and knows he’s only working against himself by saying them. Yet he feels helpless to stop. He feels backed into a corner, trapped and ashamed. He’s hurt by Namjoon’s accusing tone, by Jungkook’s carelessness.

“Why is this any of your business?” Yoongi asks.

“It’s the same shit you did before,” Namjoon says. “With Jimin. Only this time you’re hiding it.”

“Do you blame me?”

Namjoon shakes his head in disbelief. “You want to act like you’re more devoted to music that any of us, yet continue to jeopardize the band like this. I just thought it was important to you.”

“It is important to me!” Yoongi says before he can stop himself. Of all the accusations, this hurts the most, though he could have guessed Namjoon would use it against him.

“What happens when you break up?”

Yoongi turns away, even though he’s now just facing the nothingness of the brick wall.

“What happens when Jin finds out?”

“Jungkook is an adult, and Jin has nothing to do with this,” Yoongi snaps.

“We’re all adults, I don’t give a shit,” Namjoon says. “This is about Jungkook being Jin’s brother. You and me, Jin’s best friends. Keeping a secret from him.”

Yoongi is stopped by this. Namjoon is right, he realizes. The whole thing suddenly seems unnecessarily sinister, especially as Jin still sits inside, undoubtedly more oblivious than Namjoon.

Yoongi wants to say he’s sorry. As with a few moments before, with Hobi, he wants to explain himself. To try to put the feeling into words that prohibited him from being honest in the first place. Though if he had told Namjoon sooner, would he have acted any differently?

“And of course Hoseok knows,” Namjoon says through a flicker of what is probably jealousy, which should bring Yoongi satisfaction but doesn’t. “Doesn’t he? You always have your secrets from us.”

“Why the fuck does it matter?” Yoongi asks. He feels a stab of panic, the apprehension that Namjoon might take this out on Hobi somehow, too. “Don’t punish him for this.”

“Get the fuck off your high horse, Yoongi,” Namjoon says. “Jungkook is a better vocalist than we could have hoped for three months ago. We’re playing better than we ever have, working together better than we ever have. Now that Jungkook’s involved with you though, we can’t know how long that will last.”

These words hang in the air so long that Yoongi finally turns around, just to see if Namjoon is still there. He is, and Yoongi is surprised to see none of the hostility or anger he had expected on Namjoon’s face. Instead, Namjoon’s expression strangely echoes the way Yoongi feels.

“Yoongi?” It’s Jungkook’s voice that pushes between them, before anything else can be said. He approaches them from around the corner, and Namjoon looks at him with his eyes wide. Jungkook’s are searching, and he clearly has no knowledge of what he walked into.

When Jungkook’s gaze lands on Yoongi his face shows relief, and the corners of his mouth lift into a smile. He doesn’t seem to register Namjoon being there, which hurts in its own way.

“Yoongi,” Jungkook says again, speaking his name slowly as if it brings him pleasure just to say it. “Are you feeling alright?”

Yoongi watches over Jungkook’s shoulder as Namjoon leaves wordlessly, shaking his head a bit.

“No,” Yoongi mutters. He’s surprised when Jungkook’s hand catches under his chin, tilting his face upwards so that he can see Yoongi’s face, eyes soft, fingers gentle.

“I thought something might be wrong when you came out here with Hobi, then Namjoon,” Jungkook says. “Can I help?”
“No,” Yoongi says again.

“You’ve been out here for a while,” Jungkook says. His eyebrows are pushed together.
“I drank too much,” Yoongi says. “You know all about that, right?”

Jungkook doesn’t catch the meaning behind this. He reflects harmless confusion, and doesn’t say anything else. Instead, he pulls Yoongi into his arms, as if he’s sure whatever is wrong can be fixed this way.

With Jungkook’s soft tshirt under his fingers, Yoongi wants it to be. Jungkook smells musty with sweat, but not unpleasant. His breath is warm and steady. Yoongi feels lulled.

“You’re tense,” Jungkook says. He rubs a hand over Yoongi’s back, careless about where they’re standing, what they’re doing, or who might see. “What’s wrong?”

“Everyone’s going to know,” Yoongi says.

“Know what?”

“About us.”

“How would they know?” Jungkook sounds unconcerned, almost as if he isn’t listening. He doesn’t pull away, doesn’t loosen his grip on Yoongi.

“The way you’re talking about me, and touching me,” Yoongi says. He finds it hard enough to get his voice loud enough to be heard.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook says, and now his voice falters. “It’s hard for me not to.”

“Well - ”

“I love you, Yoongi,” Jungkook says. So soft, so unexpected that Yoongi only hears it as an echo with his ear pressed against Jungkook’s chest.

Yoongi pulls back, and looks into Jungkook’s face, and sure enough he sees his love there, bared as openly as a fresh wound, and Yoongi first feels fear. The words I love you too form and fall too easily to the end of his tongue, and he opens his mouth to speak.

“You don’t mean that,” Yoongi says.

Jungkook stares at him for a long moment, looking at him as if he’s sure he’s misunderstood. “Huh?”

“Jungkook,” Yoongi says, his voice calm while his mind draws a blank. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”

It would probably be more accurate that Yoongi himself doesn’t know what he’s saying, his thoughts spinning away into nothingness, his heart rising in his throat. There’s rushing in his ears, so that he can’t hear anything. He’s caught up with the image of Namjoon’s face, hurt and confused in ways Yoongi doesn’t understand, his harsh words, the unspoken threat of abandonment that they all might follow. The thought of Jin, more protective of Jungkook than a real parent.

Everything feels out of control. He wants to put the world on pause, go back to the beginning of the evening, skip the practice. He wants to slow down.

“What do you mean?” Jungkook asks. His eyes are already glistening, filling Yoongi with a sense of dread.

“You - you don’t,” Yoongi is normally quick with his tongue but stumbles over his words, loses himself. “We just met.”

“I don’t care,” Jungkook says. “I know what I feel.”

“You haven’t been in love before,” Yoongi says, though he doesn’t know that for sure. “It’s only been a couple of months.”

Yoongi isn’t even sure how long it’s been, at the moment. He knows that even after nearly a year with Jimin, love was never discussed. He couldn’t even remember thinking about it. That seems unrelated to this, but he can’t help but think of it.

“Why does it matter?” Jungkook’s face is falling, closing off quickly.

“It matters,” Yoongi says, but doesn’t finish the sentence.

“You don’t love me,” Jungkook says,.
“Jungkook,” Yoongi says, shocked and lost. The beginning of the evening feels far away, when Taehyung and Jimin were still together. “That’s not what I said.”

“That’s what you mean,” Jungkook says. He crosses his arms tightly over his chest, holding onto his elbows, wrinkling his button up shirt.

“It’s not,” Yoongi says. He feels as if he’s sliding down an icy slope, struggling to find purchase, losing his footing again and again.

“Then say it,” Jungkook says.

And if Yoongi says it, then what happens? If he doesn’t, what then?

“Slow down,” Yoongi says. “Please.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re - it’s not - ”

“Why is it so hard?” Jungkook says, almost desperately.

“Why does this matter right now?” Yoongi asks, and realizes he’s almost snapping, almost yelling, and that whatever his voice sounds like has made Jungkook suddenly go quiet. “You’re drunk,” Yoongi says softly, for lack of anything else to say.

Jungkook’s face goes icy. “You always say that kind of shit,” he says.

Yoongi looks down in shame. “I’m sorry, Jungkook,” Yoongi says. “I’m just - not thinking clearly. I needed some fresh air.”

“Then stay out here,” Jungkook says, and returns inside, leaving Yoongi alone, wondering what happened.

Chapter Text

After that, Yoongi does what he thinks Jungkook wants him to do. He doesn’t go back inside, but retreats to the train station, and after that to his apartment. It’s dark and quiet there, and for the first time Yoongi can remember, he hates that silence. His phone breaks it with incessant dinging, and Yoongi only checks it long enough to see that it’s not Jungkook texting him, but Hoseok. He doesn’t read the texts. He throws the phone on his bed, then crawls there himself, and then he sleeps.

 

When Yoongi opens his eyes again it’s to darkness, although it’s morning, his curtains standing as a defense against the light. It takes him a moment to place himself, for his heart to sink sickeningly with the memory of the night before. He goes over it in his mind until he has to stop himself. He had put his phone on silent but the notification light blinks languidly in the sheets beside him, making itself known. Yoongi dreads checking his missed calls and messages, in case it’s Jungkook. Even more in case it’s not.

All messages are from Hobi the night before. Yoongi swallows painfully, and puts his phone where it belongs on his night stand. It feels like there’s a vice around his head, pressing his temples so hard his skull might break. He turns over, and attempts to go back to sleep. He thinks that he could. That he could slip back into unconsciousness as easily as flipping a switch. At the moment, it’s all that he wants.

It’s knocking on his door that breaks his concentration into unconsciousness, soft at first then growing in determination.

“Yoongi,” comes the singsong voice that is uniquely Hobi’s. Again, it’s soft at first, but when Yoongi doesn’t answer he raises his volume until the inevitable happens, and Yoongi hears him beginning to struggle to pick the lock on the door. Yoongi groans and half rises to fall to the door, unlock it, and return to bed as Hobi pushes it open.

Hobi stands in the doorway, backlit, blinking into the gloom.

“Shit, Yoongi,” he says. “You couldn’t have let me know you were alive?”

Yoongi says nothing, and turns over so that his back is facing the door.

“C’mon man,” Hobi says. “Are you that hung over?”

“I’m sick,” Yoongi says, hoping as he always does that this excuse will get him more peace and quiet than a simple hangover. He feels a dip in the bed as Hobi sits beside him, then the warmth of his hand as he seeks as Yoongi’s forehead. He makes a clicking sound with his tongue and removes his hand.

“You feel fine,” he says.

“I don’t feel fine,” Yoongi says. “I think I’d be able to tell if I’m sick better than you, Hoseok.”

“There it is,” Hobi says, and he sounds tired.

“There’s what?”

“You using Hoseok. What did I do?”

“For one, you’re not leaving me alone,” Yoongi says. He can tell by the following silence that his words hit something tender, but Hobi doesn’t stir.

Instead of leaving, Hobi changes the subject, as if this might help. “Jimin didn’t come to the studio this morning.”

Part of Yoongi wants to mention that he doesn’t particularly care about what Jimin did or didn’t do, but the thought of him missing work is somewhat disturbing. Dancing is Jimin’s state of comfort, his happy place, the way that bed and music are for Yoongi’s. Jimin had to be feeling pretty down not to go in, when even Taehyung had come to practice the night before.

“I’m worried,” Hobi is saying. “Think about it, Taehyung had all of us as a support system last night, and where was Jimin? I wonder who he had, or if he was alone.”

“Well Taehyung was the one who got broken up with,” Yoongi says. “He needed the support more.”

“I don’t know,” Hobi says. “It’s hard to say exactly what happened.”

Yoongi closes his eyes, hoping the conversation is over, that he won’t have to say more. It’s not that he wants Hobi to leave, though. His presence there is comforting, it’s the talking he can’t stand at the moment.

“In a way it feels like we’re taking Taehyung’s side,” Hobi says, his voice softer, as if he feels guilty.

“There don’t have to be sides,” Yoongi says. “There wasn’t with Jimin and I.”

“Yoongi,” Hobi says through a huff of breath. He shifts restlessly on the bed. “Of course there were sides. You didn’t notice because we fucking took yours .”

Yoongi swallows. He doesn’t know what to say to that, and as a matter of fact he isn’t in a place to think about it. He’s sorry the subject came up, and Hobi’s exasperated tone is like a firm shove against bruised skin.

“Sometimes I don’t know if you’re just trying to be difficult,” Hobi says. “Or if you really think we’re all against you that much, if you think we wouldn’t - ”

“I wonder if you’ll still take my side now,” Yoongi says, the words hard to get around the tightness in his throat. Hobi stumbles over his sentence, tries to speak again, then stops.

“What?” he asks.

“I think Jungkook broke up with me,” Yoongi says. He feels pathetic to say it, of his desperate need to say it. He just wants Hobi to know; for someone to know.

Hobi doesn’t speak for a long time, and there’s no movement from him on the bed. Yoongi stays still, remaining with his face away from him, too afraid to look at Hobi and see what his face might reveal.

“You think you broke up?” Hobi says at last.

“I don’t know,” Yoongi whispers. “I don’t know what happened.”

He feels a hand on his shoulder, unassuming and steady. “That’s why you left last night and didn’t answer my texts?”

Yoongi nods.

“And why Jungkook and Jin went home right after,” Hobi says more absently. Yoongi squeezes his eyes closed forcefully, as if this will help something. Would Jungkook have told Jin what happened?

“Did you and Jungkook fight?” Hobi asks.

“Kind of. I think. It’s fuzzy.”

“I didn’t know you were that drunk, Yoongi,” Hobi says, with more sympathy in his voice than judgement.

“I was more upset than drunk,” Yoongi says. The strength of the emotions had made it hard for him to think, even harder for him to remember.

“What exactly did you say to each other?” Hobi asks. His voice is soft, but curious.

“He said - ” Yoongi stops for a breath, surprised by a pain in his chest. He realizes how embarrassed he is to say it. He doesn’t think he’d be able to, if it weren’t for the darkness surrounding them. “He said he loved me, and I couldn’t say it back.”

It seems like even Hobi is lost for words after this.

“He was angry, and told me to stay outside, so I did.”

Yoongi stops talking, hoping his part is over. He doesn’t want to explain any more, or reflect on himself and the mistakes he might have made. He wants Hobi to say something now, to tell him what should be done. Even to tell him he was an idiot.

“This is - ” Hobi stops with the abruptness that tells Yoongi he’s choosing his words carefully. “Yoongi, this kind of just sounds like a misunderstanding to me.”

Yoongi swallows for what feels like the hundredth time. He doesn’t know what to say to Hobi, how to make him understand his feeling of desperation and sinking dread.

“I haven’t heard from him since,” Yoongi whispers.

“Have you tried to call him or anything?” Hobi asks. Yoongi doesn’t answer, not able to explain why that seems impossible, too.

“I don’t know how to make this better,” Hobi says, amidst Yoongi’s silence. “It seems like you’re jumping to conclusions, getting carried away with things in your head like you do.”

Hobi’s tone is calculatedly gentle, but Yoongi is in the mood to be offended by his words. He presses his cheek closely to his pillow and says nothing.

“Do you want to get up and talk about it?” Hobi tries again. “I can make coffee. You slept

late - we have practice in a few hours now.”

“I’m not up to going to practice tonight,” Yoongi says.

“Yoongi - ”

“I’m serious, Hobi.”

Yoongi feels Hobi stand, the cold place on his shoulder where his hand is removed. “I’ll get you some water, alright? Then I’ll come back in like and hour, and see if you feel differently then.”

Yoongi doesn’t hear Hobi leave the room, he goes so quietly. He must be asleep by the time Hobi brings the water in, because he doesn’t remember it.

 

The next day, Yoongi calls into work sick. He only gets up to go to the bathroom, and can’t bring himself to eat much. He sees Hobi’s face, twisted in concern, more than anything else. He hears nothing from Jungkook, as if he’s suddenly gone from the face of the Earth. Yoongi feels like a child, alone and afraid. He hadn’t expected to be hit this hard, seemingly out of the blue, but that’s typically how things hit him. He hadn’t expected any of this.

Yoongi humors Hobi by coming out of his rooms for meals. The food Hobi prepares for him is nearly patronizing in its simplicity - plain rice, miso soup - as if Yoongi is too broken to digest real food. It’s warm though, and he sleeps better after eating it.

“You should be glad you don’t live alone,” Hobi says to him while they eat. “Otherwise, I think you’d starve to death.”

Yoongi doesn’t like the apprehension he hears under Hobi’s joking tone.

“Yoongi, this is about more than Jungkook, isn’t it?” Hobi asks.

“No, it’s not.”

“Well, when are you going to talk to him?”

Yoongi pokes at his rice. “He could talk to me.”

“He’s the one who put himself out there, Yoongi, and got hurt. You should cut him some slack.”

Yoongi feels hot shame in his chest, like lava trickling down his throat.

“You have to talk to him sometime,” Hobi says. “You have to work it out eventually.”

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says.

“Yoongi, I’m sorry,” says Hobi. “But you don’t know what the fuck you’re feeling, so how is Jungkook supposed to?”

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says again. He realizes the question is rhetorical, but it doesn’t stop him from feeling like he needs to offer some explanation.

“What are you so afraid is going to happen?” Hobi’s voice is now gentle, but insistent. He doesn’t let up, and Yoongi nevers knows whether to thank him or hate him for it.

“You know the answer to that,” Yoongi says.

He expects Hobi not to answer, or at least to hesitate. Instead, he says the biting words. “You’re afraid he’ll end it for real.”

Yoongi makes eye contact with Hobi, and they hold it for a long pause.

“It’ll be alright, Yoongi,” Hobi says.

Yoongi stands up and goes to the bathroom to wash his hands.

“There was no practice last night,” Hobi says through the bathroom door. “So don’t worry about sleeping through it.”

Yoongi wants to say that he wasn’t worried, that he didn’t care, but feels too exhausted even to lie.

“Jungkook couldn’t come either,” Hobi says. “So there wasn’t much point in us meeting up.”

Yoongi takes longer than he needs to in the bathroom, washing his hands until they feel numb, inspecting the dark bags under his eyes. He hopes that Hobi walks away, that the apartment will be empty when he comes out, but knows it’s too much to ask for.

“Taehyung is coming over tomorrow,” Hobi says when Yoongi finally does exit.

Yoongi makes no motion to indicate that he heard. Even on a good day, he’s not fond of visitors. There’s always something invasive about someone seeing where he lives, even if it’s just Taehyung, who has been over many times before.

“Things are tough for him, especially with no practice,” Hobi continues on, seemingly satisfied with his half sided conversation.

“Why doesn’t he hang out with Namjoon?” Yoongi crosses his arms, slotting his hands under his armpits.
“He also wants to see you,” Hobi says, as if he’d been waiting for that question. “He knows you’re not feeling well.”

“He shouldn’t risk catching it, then,” Yoongi says, going back to his room. He puts his hand on the door, beginning to push it closed.

“Yoongi - ”

“Let me sleep for a while, Hobi.”

 

The next time Yoongi leaves his room is because of more knocking. Or more accurately a single knock, a futile attempt at turning the doorknob, and a sigh. Maybe even Hobi gets tired of Yoongi’s antics from time to time.

“Yoongi, Taehyung’s here,” Hobi calls.

Yoongi had been fine lying on his bed, looking at his phone, but he knows that with Hobi it’s better to just comply and get it over with. He opens the door to see Taehyung looking similar to how he feels. His hair is overlong and a bit lifeless, and purple bags bloom under his eyes, mirroring the ones that Yoongi himself is sporting.

“Hey, Taehyung,” Yoongi says.

“Hey, Yoongi.”

The three of them stand awkwardly in the overly small living room, and Yoongi begins to wonder why Taehyung is even there. It seems a strange and inappropriate time.

“So, what should we do?” Hobi asks, clapping his hands together like a camp counselor. “We could hit some bars, go to a movie, stay in - ”

“Stay in,” Yoongi and Taehyung repeat at the same time. Yoongi feels slightly embarrassed and shifts on his feet.

“Well, I have some vodka, I can mix cocktails,” Hobi says.

The reaction to this is unenthusiastic, but Hobi grins like they’re all in on the idea. While he goes to the kitchen to make the drinks, Taehyung and Yoongi both sit tenderly on the couch. Yoongi notices now that it’s very worn down, if not slightly tattered. Once one thread unravels in his life, it seems like all he can notice is the ugliness.

“Drinks and some Mario Kart,” Hobi says from the kitchen. “I like it.”

His faux cheeriness is grating, and Yoongi wonders what it must be like for someone like him to be boxed in with two downers such as them. However, Taehyung seems to perk up a bit at his words.

“Mario Kart?” he says.

“Sure, I charged my Switch and all the controllers.”

“That sounds like fun,” Taehyung says, a tentative smile on his face, as if he’s practicing it.

“I don’t know how to play that game,” Yoongi says, to be contrary. Playing video games reminds him of Jungkook.

“C’mon Yoongi, of course you do,” Hobi says.

“You can be Yoshi,” Taehyung says. “I always let Jimin play Yoshi when he’s grumpy.” The let in his sentence is conveniently neither past nor present tense.

Hoseok returns to the living room, joins them on the couch and places a drink in Yoongi’s hand. It tastes like pineapple, and warms his throat on the way down.

Yoongi plays the game with a dedicated lack of dedication. He stays in last place for most of the races, and doesn’t speak, but Hobi and Taehyung seem satisfied by the fact that he’s participating at all. Taehyung alone is loud enough for the three of them, whooping and crashing his shoulder into Yoongi’s hard enough to spill his drink. Yoongi’s glares makes Taehyung wilt a little. Yoongi sighs loudly to announce his displeasure when Hobi starts another series of races.

They stop to take shots eventually, Hobi carefully pouring the vodka into small clear glasses. Taehyung, already tipsy from one strong drink, shrugs when he spill some of the vodka down his chin. Yoongi shoots a glance at Hobi that he hopes will convey his annoyance.

“So Yoongi,” Taehyung says, setting his glass down loudly after another shot and turning to him. “What happened with you and Jungkook?”
Yoongi stiffens from the unexpectedness of the question, and feel Hobi do the same. The room goes quiet, only the faint carnival sound of the Mario Kart music in the background. “What do you mean?”

“Did you have a fight?”

“No,” Yoongi says. He pours himself another shot.

“You were dating, right? And suddenly you’re both avoiding each other.”

“Taehyung,” Hobi says, sounding as pissed as he ever gets. Yoongi looks up at Hobi, and sees tenseness of his bright eyes and squared shoulders.

“Did he say something to you?” Yoongi asks Taehyung, too tired to play dumb. “About us being together?”
“No,” Taehyung says. “Jimin told me.”

Yoongi looks at Hobi sharply, suddenly feeling the bite of betrayal. “You told Jimin?”
“Of course not,” Hobi splutters. “Yoongi -  ”

“No one told Jimin,” Taehyung says quickly, as if in a panic, holding up a hand between Yoongi and Hobi, like he wants to keep them separate. “He noticed it, weeks ago. He told me not to say anything to anyone, because he thought you two didn’t want anyone to know.”

Yoongi’s immediate reaction is to snap at Taehyung again, to tell him he must be wrong. There’s no way Jimin could have figured something out that he was so careful about. The words die in Yoongi’s throat, though. After all, it’s Jimin. Is it really that difficult to image that Jimin would have known?

“He does know you pretty well, Yoongi,” Hobi says softly, as if reading his mind.

Yoongi sighs in defeat, and lets himself sink back into the couch. It might be worn and stained, but it embraces him like an old friend.

“You’re saying Jimin knew,” Yoongi says. “But he didn’t want to tell anyone?”

Taehyung sits forward and twists around in his seat to look at Yoongi. “He’s not a villain. He didn’t want to upset you.”

Yoongi looks away. He believes it, though he doesn’t want to.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says to the silence, as if suddenly realizing that he had taken a step too far. Yoongi feels numb.

“It’s fine,” he says. “It was stupid to try to keep it a secret. Everyone knows now.”

“It’s not stupid,” Taehyung says. “Not if it’s what you both wanted.”

Yoongi doesn’t answer that. The farther the conversation progresses, the more out of himself he feels. He wants to go back to his room, but knows that Hobi would stop him. He feels as if he’s stranded on a raft in the middle of the sea.

“Let’s keep playing,” Hobi says, as if it’s the only escape he can think of. This time when they start playing Yoongi does pay attention, determined that if he has no choice but to stay, he should at least do a decent job at the game. He focuses on knocking Taehyung’s character off of the map whenever possible, the only revenge he can possibly muster.

When the next race is over, Yoongi feels ready for another shot, but when he picks up the bottle of vodka he finds it empty.

“We’re out,” he says, shaking the bottle at Hobi.

“So we are,” Hobi says. He seems relieved that Yoongi is speaking and showing interest in anything at all, and he grabs the bottle, getting to his feet. “I’ll run out and get some more.”

“Fine,” Yoongi says, tossing his controller onto the coffee table, relieved to have a break. He doesn’t realize until after Hobi has closed the door and blanketed them with silence that he’s now alone with Taehyung.

Yoongi steals a quick glance at Taehyung at the other side of the couch, but his face is turned away, shielded by the fall of his hair. Yoongi suddenly feels desperately out of place, and doesn’t fully understand why Taehyung isn’t babbling away to fill the silence as usual. Yoongi clears his throat, and still nothing. The closest liquor store is only a ten minute walk away, but at the moment half an hour feels like an eternity to sit next to Taehyung.

Yoongi stands. “I’m going to - ”

Before he can move towards the safety of his room, or even get out his sentence, Taehyung’s hand is latched around his wrist. Yoongi looks down at him in alarm.

“Wait, Yoongi.” To Yoongi's horror he sees pearlescent tears trailing down Taehyung’s face, large and round like raindrops. His hand goes limp in Taehyung’s grip.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung says, his voice choked as if he has a cold.

“It’s alright,” Yoongi says, tugging his hand gently, just wanting to be free of Taehyung’s grasp. Instead, Taehyung just pulls back harder, succeeding in dragging Yoongi down down to sit next to him. His drummer’s arms are powerful.

“It’s n-not alright,” Taehyung says brokenly. “I should have k-known that asking about Jungkook would upset you.”

Taehyung’s tears fall onto Yoongi’s hand, running over the hills of his knuckles, the salt stinging his skin.

“Fuck,” Yoongi says, moving his body closer to Taehyung’s. “Just stop crying.”

Taehyung shakes his head violently. “I can’t,” he says. “I c-can’t. Not since Jimin.”

Yoongi pulls his sleeve over his hand, using it to dab at Taehyung’s cheeks and wipe his tears. As much as Taehyung’s questions might have been uncomfortable for Yoongi, this is much worse.

“It’s alright,” Yoongi says again, and Taehyung careens into him, pressing his face into his shirt. His sobs rattle both of their bodies.

“Please,” Yoongi says, weakly. He feels completely out of his element. Tentatively he pats at Taehyung’s hair a few times, before moving his hand to rub his back. The gesture seems to have the opposite of Yoongi’s intended effect, as Taehyung begins crying twice as hard. His tears make Yoongi’s shirt start to stick to his skin. He doesn’t know what words of comfort to use, or what to do. He only wants Hobi to come back as quickly as possible, because he would know how to handle this.

“I love him, Yoongi,” Taehyung says through a sob.

“I know, buddy,” Yoongi says, and he thinks of Jungkook.

“I really love him, I mean - I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without him.”

“You were only with him for a few months, Taetae,” Yoongi says gently, hoping that Taehyung takes the words as comforting and not belittling.

“You never call me Taetae,” Taehyung says miserably.

“It’s what Namjoon calls you sometimes, isn’t it?” Yoongi says. He sighs, smoothing away more of Taehyung’s tears. “I’m not good at this shit.”

“I don’t understand,” Taehyung says, as if he hadn’t heard Yoongi at all. “We were h-h-happy, I was happy.”

“I don’t know,” Yoongi says. “Sometimes this stuff doesn’t make sense.”

Taehyung has Yoongi’s shirt balled up in his fists, and lets his crying continue uninhibited. Yoongi feels envious of him, in a way. His life is as simple as love and devastation, togetherness and separation.

Taehyung dries out slowly, his sobs growing farther between as he starts to exhaust himself. His grip loosens on Yoongi’s shirt, but he stays pressed against him, turning his head to look up at Yoongi with bloodshot eyes and a puffy face.

“I don’t know what to do,” he says with a sniff. “He says we shouldn’t see or talk to each other for a while, but all I can do is think about him.”

“I know,” Yoongi says.

“As soon as I wake up, I think about him,” Taehyung says. “When I’m eating, or reading, or going to bed I just want him to be beside me.”

It’s on the tip of Yoongi’s tongue to remind Taehyung again that he and Jimin have only been together for a short time. But really, he thinks he’s in no position to judge. He’s been holed up for days over his own months long relationship, is probably handling it in an even worse way.

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, squeezing Taehyung in his arms lightly. “I know it’s hard, but if he wants distance I think he’ll appreciate it most if you give it to him. Maybe he just needs some time to think.” Yoongi hopes it’s true.

Taehyung sighs shakily and pushes his face back into Yoongi’s shirt. He spends a few moments breathing deeply and Yoongi lets him be, relieved by his growing sedation.

“You’re sweet,” Taehyung says at last, thoughtfully. “You act like you don’t care about any of us, but really you’re a great friend.”

He looks up at Yoongi again, his eyes bright and earnest, and Yoongi feels affection so suddenly and potently that he can’t stop himself from smiling. He shrugs as his only anwer.

“I understand why Jungkook likes you so much,” Taehyung says, sitting up properly and scrubbing at his eyes with his sleeve. “You’re a good person.”

“You’re drunk,” Yoongi says, reaching out to straighten Taehyung’s shirt where it’s gone askew across his tattooed collar bones. Taehyung waves him away with his hand.

“Can you fix it?”

“Fix what?” Yoongi asks.

“Whatever happened with Jungkook.”

Yoongi sighs, and rubs at his own eyes. “I don’t know, Taehyung.”

Taehyung grabs Yoongi’s wrist again to pull his hand away from his face. Yoongi’s eyes lock with Taehyung’s lantern like gaze. “If you can, you should. We’re worried about you, leaving suddenly the other night and shutting yourself in here.”

Yoongi doesn’t ask who ‘we’ is. He feels bad that anyone is thinking about him at all. “It’s my fault,” he says. “I made a stupid mistake, and in the time Jungkook and I have been together I’ve made a lot of those. He shouldn’t have to deal with that anymore.”

“I saw him the other day,” Taehyung says. “When we were going to practice. It’s like he’s only half there, Yoongi. He’s not taking this well, if that’s what you think.”

“I don’t think that,” Yoongi says softly. He runs his fingers through his hair roughly, hard enough for the strands to pull and hurt. “I haven’t talked to him since then, Taehyung. I haven’t heard anything from him.”

Taehyung looks sympathetic, his large eyes sad. “Have you tried to contact him?”

Yoongi looks down. “That’s what Hobi asked.”

“If you miss him, tell him,” Taehyung says. “Make it right.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Yoongi says. “I don’t know if I can give him what he wants.”

“Isn’t it worth trying?” Taehyung asks.

Yoongi looks at Taehyung, eyes locking onto his steady gaze. He doesn’t have an excuse for himself.

“Do it now,” Taehyung insists gently. “Just send him a text or something.”

Yoongi licks his dry lips, takes out his phone, and draws in a deep breath. He opens their text conversation, his chest tightening painfully to see their last messages from days ago, chatting about nothing. Yoongi puts his thumbs to the screen, and types out a simple message.

 

Yoongi : Can we meet up sometime soon?

 

When he presses send, he suddenly has the strange sensation that his entire future hangs in the balance.