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strawberries & cigarettes

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It's pitch black outside when Namjoon steps out of the bar that Thursday night. The sky is heavy with low clouds, and the moon and stars are nowhere to be seen. Seokjin, the owner of the little establishment, had left an hour or so before, and asked Namjoon to lock up. He quickly flips the sign to CLOSED and locks the door behind himself. Scuffed boots crunching on the gravel of the parking lot, he rummages around in his pocket for his pack of cigarettes and lights one, exhaling the smoke through his nose. It looks thicker than usual in the cold night air, and it's strangely satisfying.

He kicks a little rock in front of himself like a football as he walks out of the parking lot and down the road that leads to the train station. A cold wind blows around him, making the straps on his leather jacket flap around. He shivers, and pulls the jacket tighter around his body. By the time his cigarette has burned down to the filter, he's arrived at the station. He drops the butt onto the cracked concrete and grinds it out under the heel of his boot before walking into the building.

It's not much warmer inside. His leather jacket isn't really appropriate for this kind of weather, and to be honest he can't wait to get home and take a nice, warm shower. The station is empty, as expected at this time of night, so he doesn't have to queue to get his ticket. Soon enough he's on the platform, fiddling with his earphones as he waits for the train.

He hears it arrive before he sees it. The rumble of the wheels on the tracks and the screeching of the brakes fill the tunnel long before the yellow halo of the headlights does, sound echoing off the tiled walls. The train stutters to a stop, the doors clatter open, and Namjoon steps in.

It's almost empty inside, just a couple teenage girls giggling together down one end and a man in an oversized black hoodie, curled up in the seat opposite from where Namjoon sits down. He's got a cap on, and the shadow it casts over his face prevents Namjoon from seeing any of his features, but he can see his hands, joined over his shins to keep his body curled together. They're webbed with visible veins, but still soft-looking. The most interesting thing about them is the dried paint splatters that decorate the skin, the vivid colors looking even brighter against the man's pale complexion, washed out further by the fluorescent lights of the carriage.

With difficulty, Namjoon tears his eyes away from the colorful patterns on the man's skin and, clearing his throat, pulls his phone out of his pocket. There's a movement in the corner of his eye. The man, no doubt surprised by the sound of Namjoon's cough, has lifted his head high enough to let the light wash over his features. Namjoon barely holds in the surprised gasp that bubbles up in his chest when he lays eyes on the man's face. He looks young, younger than Namjoon, the way his oversized clothes seem to swallow him up making him look even younger. There are dark circles under his eyes, fatigue etched into every single one of his features, but somehow he's still the most beautiful man Namjoon has ever laid eyes upon.

The man's big doe eyes flutter briefly under the assault of the harsh fluorescent lights as they adjust to the brightness, pretty pink lips pushing out into a little pout. He cautiously unfolds, letting his legs reach out in front of him and stretching, back arching out of the seat. Namjoon lets his eyes trail the man's body unashamedly, admiring the way his muscular thighs stretch out the fabric of his sweatpants and the flash of golden skin he reveals when his hoodie rides up on his hips slightly.

When Namjoon's eyes finally flicker back up to the man's face, he realizes he's watching him too. Their gazes meet for a second before Namjoon looks away, cheeks flushing red. There's a little streak of paint on the stranger's cheekbone that he hadn't noticed at first. The contrast between his dark eyes and darker clothes and the brightness of the colors that stain his skin in fascinating. Namjoon wants to look again, wants to stare, but somehow he can feel the stranger's gaze on him, and he's afraid to look up, afraid to meet his eyes. Self-conscious, he pulls his jacket tighter around himself and drops his head down, trying to ignore the weight of the other's gaze.

The train rattles along, stopping from time to time, and eventually Namjoon relaxes enough to lift his head back up. The stranger isn't looking at him anymore, but there's a subtle flush on his cheeks that wasn't there before. Namjoon can't help but feel flattered. Objectively, he knows he's decent looking – he's got the long legs, the charming dimples, the intricate tattoos that always grab people's attention – but it's always nice to catch the eye of someone attractive, and especially someone as attractive as this stranger.

Quite suddenly, the train rounds a corner and screeches to a stop. The stranger stretches languidly, gets up and ambles out of the train, feet dragging slightly. Namjoon's eyes follow him as he goes, his dark silhouette cutting a sharp contrast against the white walls of the station, until the train lurches away again.

There's only a couple of stops left until Namjoon's, and he spends them replaying the moment when their eyes met over and over in his head. When the train grinds to a halt in the station opposite his apartment building, he shakes his head, as if the motion will help to dispel the fog that's settled over his mind, and strides out. The street outside is empty, and he crosses it quickly, pausing in front of the building's doors to punch in the passcode. Soon enough he's in the elevator, gliding steadily up to the seventh floor. The building is bland and slightly shabby, but perfectly functional, and with a train station right opposite it's the best Namjoon can go for with his bartender's salary. Yoongi contributes, too, but as a grad student he doesn't make very much either.

“I'm home,” he calls as he pushes the door open. There's no response, but that's not very surprising. Yoongi probably has his headphones on, totally immersed in whatever song he's working on at the moment. Namjoon sighs and shrugs off his jacket, tossing it over the back of the sofa before walking over to Yoongi's room. He knocks. No response. He cautiously pushes the door open. Yoongi is sitting at his desk, as expected, and probably hasn't eaten all day either. Namjoon walks over and taps him gently on the shoulder. He jumps a little and turns around, eyes narrowed and lips pursed, looking a little like a disgruntled cat. With a sigh, he takes off his headphones.

“Have you eaten?” Namjoon asks. Yoongi, surprisingly, nods.

“I got takeout. There's leftovers in the fridge if you wanna have them.” He narrows his eyes at Namjoon. “You look less depressed than you usually do on Thursdays,” he notes. “What's up?”

“Oh, nothing,” Namjoon lies, but the blush on his cheeks gives him away. Yoongi swivels his chair to face him fully.

“Seriously, what happened?”

Namjoon knows Yoongi isn't going to let it drop until he tells him, so he explains.

“There was a boy, on the train,” he says. Yoongi's lips curl up into a knowing smile. “He was… pretty.” His blush is stronger now, his face probably tomato red. Yoongi lets out a quiet laugh.

“You always have liked pretty boys.”

Namjoon rolls his eyes at him, but grins nonetheless.

“It's whatever, I'll probably never see him again,” he concludes, before heading to the kitchen to eat before he goes to bed.

He does, in fact, see him again. The next Thursday, he finds him in exactly the same train, the same carriage, the same seat. He wasn't really looking for him, not actively, at least. It's like some force of nature, some strange instinct, had directed his steps, unconsciously leading him to the fascinating stranger.

He's dressed differently this time, in tight black jeans and a pretty pastel blue sweater. He looks just as tired as the last time, if not even more, and Namjoon just wants to gather him up in his arms and smother him with affection. He's still got those streaks of paint all over his skin, darker colors this time, more subdued than the last week, navy blues and khaki greens and browns like a forest, blending in with the dark circles under his eyes. His features are drawn tight with worry, and Namjoon wishes he could speak to him and soothe him, wash it all away. He's not brave enough, though, and doesn't think he ever will be, so he keeps his mouth shut and his arms firmly stuck to his sides and stays in his seat. The train ride goes by faster now that he has something to occupy him, and soon enough the boy is standing up and exiting the train. Namjoon watches him go again, watches the way his feet drag on the cold tiles of the station floor, watches the defeated slouch of his shoulders, and wonders.

In the end, it's not his business, anyway. When he gets home that night he's distinctly subdued, and Yoongi doesn't fail to notice.

“What's wrong?” he asks, swirling cheap red wine around in a water glass. Namjoon shrugs.

“I don't like seeing people be sad,” he says. It's vague, but it's enough for Yoongi. He sets his glass down and sighs.

“You can't fix everything, Joon,” he says. “There's always gonna be sad people in the world. There's always gonna be wars, and diseases, and just plain accidents, there's always gonna be families being torn apart. You can't stop that. No one can.”

Namjoon breathes heavily through his nose, tilting his head back. His eyes sting with unshed tears, but he won't let them fall. Yoongi's harsh, yes, but that's what he needs right now – a cold, hard dose of reality.

“I wish I'd gone to uni,” he says. His voice sounds wet and choked up, but Yoongi doesn't comment. “I could have been, I don't know, a doctor or something. A psychologist. I could have made people's lives better, even just a few people, just a little bit. Instead I just help them drink their problems away.”

Yoongi sighs, and turns away. That's what it always comes down to, and they both know it. The fact that Yoongi is getting an education, and Namjoon is not.

“Joon, you can't help that you didn't have the money. If you keep working and you keep saving, you'll probably have enough in a few years to pay for a degree.”

“It's not that simple,” Namjoon says, dropping his head. “Who knows where I'll be in a few years, Yoongi. Sure, I might have the money, but will I even want to go anymore? Some days it's like I can feel the energy seeping out of me. Like a bottle of water with a tiny little hole in it, you know? You don't even notice it's leaking until it's all gone. Who says I'll have any motivation left a few years from now? I can't promise myself that, I can't promise myself that I'll go as soon as I have the money. All I can do is take it day by day, and try not to give up. That's all I can do.”

The tears are flowing now, as much as he tried to hold them in. He turns his head away from Yoongi.

“I'm going to bed,” he says, wiping angrily at the tears on his cheeks, and begins to walk away.

“Joon,” Yoongi murmurs from behind him, soft and full of worry and affection. Namjoon stops walking. He feels a hand on his shoulder, and turns around. Yoongi's standing behind him, eyes full of understanding. Namjoon feels something building up in his chest, heavy, too big for his body to hold and, with a heart-wrenching sob, it explodes, tears streaming down his face as he falls into Yoongi's arms. Despite the height difference between them he manages to bury his head in Yoongi's chest, the familiar smell of coffee and laundry detergent soothing him slightly.

Yoongi doesn't speak, just strokes Namjoon's hair and holds him as he cries, as he lets out all his worries, all his pent up frustration. They stay like that for god knows how long, until Namjoon has stopped sobbing and is left sniffling against the fabric of Yoongi's hoodie, eyes red and body drained.

“I wish it didn't have to be like this,” he hiccups. Yoongi runs a soothing hand down his back, and doesn't say anything. There's nothing he cansay.

When the little tremors wracking Namjoon's body have subsided almost completely, Yoongi helps him to his bedroom, pulls his shoes off for him and tucks him into bed, fully clothed. He gently brushes Namjoon's sweat-soaked hair away from his forehead before leaving, closing the door as quietly as possible behind him.

Namjoon is so tired from his crying fit that he falls asleep almost immediately, curling into the soft sheets, sore eyes sliding shut.

When he wakes the next morning, Yoongi doesn't say a word about the whole ordeal, but he makes coffee and pancakes for the two of them even though he hates cooking, and that's enough for Namjoon. Yoongi has to leave for class soon enough, and Namjoon has to clean everything up, but he finds he doesn't mind too much. He hums quietly as he washes up the dirty dishes, and finds the repetitive task and the minty scent of the dish soap strangely calming.

He finds himself thinking about lots of things, about his life, about his family, about the boy on the train (only a little bit), but mostly about Yoongi. Sometimes he wonders what good he must have done in a past life to deserve someone like Yoongi in his current one. Yoongi isn't overtly affectionate, isn't necessarily good with words, is sometimes a little blunt and a little harsh, but he's always right there when Namjoon needs him, arms wide open. He's such a steady presence in his life, always supporting him with such unwavering loyalty, that Namjoon doesn't really know if he would even have gotten this far without him.

The next week, in a lot of ways, is very similar. Namjoon goes to work at the bar every night, comes home to Yoongi still working tirelessly away at his computer, eats reheated leftovers and falls into bed. On Thursday night, he rides the train home with the mystery boy. In some ways, though, it's completely different. The man on the train doesn't look quite as tired as he had the past two weeks. There's a faint smile on his face and some color to his cheeks when Namjoon steps into the carriage, and that, in turn, makes Namjoon brighten up slightly. This week he's wearing light blue jeans and a flimsy white shirt that looks nowhere near warm enough for the weather, and the paint stains on his hands and face and clothes are bright, primary colors, yellows and reds and blues.

He shoots Namjoon a smile when he walks off the train, and Namjoon almost falls out of his seat from surprise. It's wide enough that it shows his teeth, big and angled forward slightly like a bunny's, and it's the brightest, most beautiful smile Namjoon has seen in a while. It makes him want to jump out of his seat and run after him, but before he can move the doors are already closing and the train is rattling off into the darkness, leaving the pretty boy and his even prettier smile behind.

The fact that he'll never have the courage to talk to him puts a bit of a damper on his mood, but he's still so ecstatic that the boy is looking happier and healthier. He goes home that night with his mind at peace, no longer feeling quite so unimportant and helpless. Yoongi sees it in his demeanor, and smiles faintly before pulling him into a quick hug.

The week after that, the boy isn't there. Instead, the carriage is completely empty when Namjoon steps into, and he rides home with a frown on his face and worry weighing down his heart. He doesn't cry that night, but he does step out onto the balcony and chain-smoke until his fingertips go numb from the cold. He doesn't let his mind linger on the fact that he might never see him again.

Thankfully, he does, in fact, see him again. The next week, when Namjoon steps into the carriage, the boy is sitting in his usual seat, curled up with his feet on the seat next to him, wearing the same oversized hoodie as the very first night. Namjoon is so happy to see him again that it takes him a few moments to realize something's wrong – the boy's lithe frame is shaking with poorly restrained sobs, the muffled sound of his crying filling the carriage.

He freezes for a moment, not sure what to do. He's being drawn to the boy like a magnet, wanting nothing more than to gather him up in his arms and comfort him, but his feet stay glued to the ground. He's thrown out of his stupor when the train starts up again, the sudden jolt almost throwing him off his feet. He stumbles forwards a little, and the mystery boy lifts his head at the sound he makes. His eyes are red, his face covered in tears, and he looks so devastated that Namjoon just can't stay quiet.

“Hey,” he murmurs, quiet but still too loud in the silence of the carriage, broken only by the rumbling of the train on its rails. “Are you okay?” He winces the moment the words leave his mouth, aware of how stupid the question is. He's clearly not okay.

The stranger lets out a bitter laugh, all choked up and wet with tears. Namjoon's heart lurches, and he steps forward to sit down in the seat next to him. To his surprise, the stranger turns slightly towards him.

“Hey, what's wrong?” Namjoon asks, voice shaky and hesitant. “I know I'm a stranger and you might not want to talk to me, it's fine, but if you wanna talk I'm here, okay?”

The stranger lets out a couple more muffled sobs. “I – god I'm so sorry, this is so embarrassing,” he sniffles. “You really don't have to listen to me.”

“Hey, no, it's fine,” Namjoon says, trying to keep his voice soothing. His hands hover around the stranger's shoulders, hesitant to touch. “You can talk to me. It helps to talk sometimes.”

“Well,” the boy starts, words punctuated here and there with sobs that wrack his entire body, “I have this late night a-art class I go to, for uni.” There he stops, sniffles again, and leans slightly towards Namjoon. Namjoon takes it as permission, and lets his arm fall around the stranger's shoulders, pulling his trembling frame towards his chest.

“And b-basically I'm failing,” he mumbles, shoulders slumping. “My teacher says my stuff is all good, technically, but there's just n-not enough emotion in it, and I've been trying and trying but I just can't make anything that's good enough for her and it's so f-frustrating.” He breaks into sobs again, hands rising to cover his face. Namjoon shushes him, bringing his other arm up to wrap the boy in a tight hug. He's not usually good at comforting people, but somehow with this stranger it comes naturally. Seeing him sad is so distressing that soothing him is almost instinctual.

“Hey, hey,” Namjoon says, raising his voice slightly to be heard over the other's sobs. “I know that failing a class probably feels like the end of the world to you right now, but in the grand scale of things it really doesn't matter that much, okay? You can always retake it, and I know it'll feel like a waste of time but you're young, you've got your whole life ahead of you, yeah? Besides, your teacher's opinion is just that – an opinion. Your artworks could be masterpieces for all we know. You've just got to tell yourself that life keeps on whatever happens, and that any day now something could happen to you that would give you all the inspiration you've been lacking, and you could start painting the most incredible, emotion-filled pieces and prove your teacher completely wrong, yeah?”

The boy has stopped crying by now, his sobs subdued into quiet little sniffles. With a sigh, he lets his head fall onto Namjoon's shoulder. His soft brown hair tickles the skin of Namjoon's neck, and he feels his heart doing somersaults in his chest.

“T-thank you,” he murmurs, voice quiet and soft, and Namjoon is so, so endeared.

“I don't mean to be condescending,” he says, “but sometimes you really do have to try and distance yourself from your problems, y'know? It can be difficult, but it really helps.”

“You sound like you have experience,” the boy says, lifting his head from Namjoon's chest. Namjoon laughs, and it comes out far more bitter than expected, surprising the both of them.

“Let's just say my life isn't exactly where I'd like it to be right now.” He shrugs, and turns to look the stranger in the eyes. “But sometimes you just have to take day by day.”

The boy nods earnestly, eyes still red, but there's a sparkle in them that wasn't there before. “That seems like good advice,” he says. Namjoon doesn't answer, too distracted by the other's face, and the stranger blushes, cheeks glowing a fetching dusty pink.

The moment of silence is interrupted by the sudden screeching of the train's brakes as it screeches to a halt. The stranger scrambles to his feet, picking his bag up from the floor.

“Oh my god, I'm so sorry!” he says, tripping over his words as he tries to get them out before the train starts up again.

“Thank you so much for comforting me, I'm Jungkook by the way, see you next week!” he yells over his shoulder as he rushes out of the train, and then he's gone. The doors slam shut, the train starts up again, and Namjoon is left with nothing but a name, a mess of butterflies in his stomach and a damp patch on his shirt from Jungkook's tears.

He's still feeling distinctly shaken when he walks into his apartment later that night. Yoongi is sitting at the kitchen table, sipping on a glass of juice, which is kind of out of the ordinary. Everything that night is starting to feel stilted, like Namjoon's world has been knocked off its axis. Him talking to the boy on the train, Yoongi not working until the early hours of the morning? It's definitely a day full of oddities.

Yoongi looks him up and down when he walks through the door, eyeing the damp patch on his shirt that hasn't quite dried off yet and the loopy smile on his face.

“What happened?” he asks, voice firm like he won't accept anything other than a straight answer.

“I talked to him!” Namjoon answers, smile widening into a lovestruck grin. Yoongi raises a doubtful eyebrow. He doesn't believe him.

“I promise I did!” Namjoon continues. “He was crying when I walked into the train, I couldn't leave him like that so I comforted him, and – and he said thank you! And he told me his name!” He's getting a little overexcited, and Yoongi laughs at him, the juice in his glass sloshing around the edges.

“So what is his name?”

“Jungkook,” Namjoon answers, walking over to the fridge to get his own glass of juice.

“As in… Jeon Jungkook?” Yoongi asks with a frown.

“Um… I don't know, he didn't tell me his last name,” Namjoon says, turning to face Yoongi. “You know a Jungkook?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi answers. “Art student, tall but not as tall as you, huge eyes, big thighs, always has paint stains everywhere. Is that him?”

“Yeah, sounds like him. How do you know him?”

“He's my friend Taehyung's roommate. I see them together on campus sometimes but I didn't know he had a late night class on Thursdays.”

“Wow,” Namjoon chuckles, sipping on his juice. “Small world.”

“It is,” Yoongi agrees with a grin. “I should have known he'd be your type.”

Namjoon laughs out loud at that. “Well, I ended up meeting him anyway. That must mean something.”

Yoongi hums, a small smile playing at his lips. “I guess the universe works in mysterious ways. Or something along those lines.”

The next Thursday is very, very different. As soon as Namjoon walks into the train, Jungkook greets him with a sweet little wave and beckons him over to the seat next to him.

“So,” he starts, “I never learnt your name last week. I'm sorry I had to leave in such a hurry, by the way, I really would have loved to stay longer after you took the time to comfort me and everything but it was the last train.”

“It's fine,” Namjoon says with a chuckle. “I'm Namjoon.”

“Oh,” Jungkook says, lips forming a perfect little circle. “Do you know Min Yoongi?”

“Yeah,” Namjoon answers. “I'm his roommate. When I told him your name last night he figured out it was you.”

“I can't believe Yoongi hyung never introduced us!” he exclaims with a sweet little giggle that makes Namjoon's heart go flip flop in his chest. “Oh, can I call you hyung too?” he asks, and he looks so earnest and hopeful that Namjoon could never deny him, even if he wanted to.

“O-of course,” he says, trying to mask his stutter with a cough.

“So,” Jungkook says, bringing his legs up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. “What do you do in life, Namjoon hyung?”

It's like a bucket of ice cold water has been dumped over Namjoon's head. He tries to conceal his feelings behind a fake grin, but judging from the look on Jungkook's face it hasn't really worked.

“I'm a bartender,” he says, voice distinctly subdued. Jungkook's smile just brightens even more.

“Oh, that's so cool!” he exclaims. “So that's why you take the late train home… don't you get tired sometimes?”

Namjoon laughs. Jungkook's excitement is contagious, and it's difficult not to let his mood be lifted.

“I do, definitely. But you do too, don't you? I remember the first couple times I saw you you looked really tired.”

“That's because I was,” Jungkook sighs. “I was really stressed about this project we had to turn in, and I thought I'd done well in the end so I was okay the week before last, but then my professor didn't like it and… well, you know all about that.”

Namjoon shits in his seat to look Jungkook in the eyes. “You're feeling better about that, right?”

“I am,” Jungkook says, blushing and looking away. “What you said last week… it really helped. You were right, I just needed to distance myself from it, think about it differently, you know? So,” he adds, looking back at Namjoon, eyes shining with an intensity that's almost intimidating, “thank you for that. Really.”

“I-it's nothing,” Namjoon stutters, a matching blush appearing on his cheeks. “I don't like seeing people sad.”

Jungkook giggles at that, tilting his head to the side. “You're sweet,” he says, and Namjoon pretty much spontaneously combusts on the spot.

“Well,” Jungkook adds, stretching and getting up from his seat, “looks like it's my stop next. Here, let me give you my number.”

Namjoon's so stunned that it takes him a moment too long to react, jaw falling open in surprise. “O-oh, sure,” he says, pulling out his phone and handing it to Jungkook. The younger quickly types his number in, and hands the phone back to Namjoon as the train begins to slow down. As the doors slide open, he gives Namjoon a cheeky wink, and, calling out a “text me!” over his shoulder, he saunters out of the train and onto the platform. Namjoon is left frozen in shock, sweaty palms clutching his phone like it's the most precious treasure in the entire world.

Namjoon does not, in fact, text Jungkook. He tries several times, typing out all sorts of different messages but inevitably backspacing them all away, and ends up chickening out completely. Understandably, he's a little nervous when he gets on the train the next Thursday. Jungkook greets him with a raised eyebrow, arms crossed over his chest, and Namjoon starts wracking his brain for excuses.

“Why didn't you text me?” Jungkook asks, pouting, and all of Namjoon's defenses break down.

“I was nervous,” he mumbles, shoulders slouching as he tries, in vain, to make himself appear smaller.

“Hyung,” Jungkook giggles, a bright smile stretching his pretty pink lips, “there's no reason to be scared of me. I'm nice, I promise.” He looks up at Namjoon with his big, shiny eyes, and Namjoon can already feel his heart turning into mush in his chest. God, he's only known this boy for a few weeks, his only interactions with him have been short, jarringly deep conversations in this very train carriage, and yet he's already so, so fond of him.

“I know you are, Kook,” Namjoon says, lifting a hand to rub at the back of his neck. He doesn't really know how to explain without revealing his rapidly growing crush on the younger, so he keeps his mouth shut. Luckily, Jungkook is easily distracted.

“You called me Kook!” he gasps, clasping his hands together excitedly. Namjoon practically melts.

“Is that not okay?” he asks, words coming out all rushed together, face bright red by now.

“It fine! More than fine, actually, I like it!” Jungkook laughs. “It's cute.”

It's not quite a “you're cute” but it's close enough, enough for heat to flush Namjoon's body from head to toe.

“Anyway,” Jungkook adds, “I won't let you get away with not texting me this time. Promise me you'll text this week?” He sticks his bottom lip out slightly and makes his eyes extra big and shiny, and Namjoon just can't say no.

“I promise,” he mumbles.

Namjoon's not one to break his promises, and he does end up texting Jungkook. It takes him a couple days to build up the courage, but eventually he manages to click send, and from there onwards it's so easy he regrets never doing it the first week. Jungkook is a great conversationalist, starting with small talk to put Namjoon at ease and slowly digging deeper, asking about his family, his friends, his job, his tattoos. They don't talk about his education – or lack thereof – though, Namjoon shutting down that subject whenever it threatens to turn up. He's not comfortable talking about his deepest insecurities with Jungkook quite yet.

In turn, Jungkook talks about himself as well, about his friends Jimin and Taehyung, about his family and their dog, about his classes, about his art. He admits to enjoying singing and dancing as well, although painting still holds his heart, and Namjoon pesters him until he sends a short little clip of him singing. It's just him, sitting in his bedroom, swallowed up in a huge black t-shirt, too long hair falling over his eyes, singing a cappella, and yet somehow it's the most beautiful thing Namjoon has ever seen and listened to. Sometimes when he has trouble finding sleep he listens to it over and over like a lullaby until his eyelids finally slide shut.

Despite texting every day, and sometimes even calling each other in the evenings, they only ever see each other on Thursday nights. Those nights always feel like special moments, just the two of them in the emptiness of the train, in a little world of their own, curled up into each other. Namjoon often slings an arm around Jungkook's shoulders, and Jungkook leans his head against Namjoon's chest, and sometimes they talk about their days, about their weeks, and sometimes they just sit in silence, listening to the train rumble along on its tracks, watching the yellow lights of the tunnel fly by. Namjoon always comes away from those nights feeling strangely at peace, energy replenished to get him through to the weekend.

Slowly but surely, they fall into a rhythm, a pattern, and the weeks fly by without much change. Namjoon's life feels brighter now, happier, and when he thinks about his job or sees Yoongi going off to classes in the morning he still gets that sinking feeling in his chest, but it's not quite so overwhelming. His weeks aren't punctuated by days off on weekends anymore, but by Thursday nights, by being able to see Jungkook and touch him and look into his pretty shiny eyes and find out what colors of paint he's splashed all over himself this week. Maybe he should be worried about how much this boy means to him already, how quickly he's become dependent on him, how quickly – dare he say it – he's falling in love. Because he is. It started slowly, like how storms start with a few big drops that make you look up in surprise before the heavens open, and then he'd fallen all at once, tripping over his feet and diving headfirst into this beautiful, beautiful boy and all his idiosyncrasies.

But, as all things are bound to eventually, it changes. If there is life there must be movement, Namjoon knows, but he doesn't think he can really be blamed for wishing he could just stop time there and then, and never have to know anything else but the euphoria that Jungkook's presence in his life brings him.

“You know,” Jungkook tells Namjoon one Thursday night, “don't you think it would be fun if we could see each other some other time?”

“Sure,” Namjoon nods, surprised but always happy to spend more time with Jungkook.

“Oh!” Jungkook exclaims, eyes going wide with excitement at his idea. “Do you think my friends and I could come over to the bar where you work one night? I wanna see you in your element,” he giggles, and Namjoon can't possibly say no.

“Of course you can,” he says, not even trying to disguise the amount of fondness in his voice. “How about tomorrow night? You don't have classes on Saturday mornings, right?”

“No, I don't,” Jungkook shakes his head. The train is already slowing to a stop in front of Jungkook's station. “See you tomorrow night then!” he says, picking his bag up from the floor and standing up. “Text me the details.”

And then he's gone. Namjoon leans back into his seat, sighing heavily. If it had been anyone else, he would have said no immediately. He doesn't want people he knows seeing him in his work environment, he's not comfortable, embarrassed even. The fact that it's Jungkook makes it worse, makes it even more embarrassing, but when he makes his eyes even wider than usual and pushes out his bottom lip a little Namjoon is convinced that no one could say no to him.

“Jungkook's coming to the bar tomorrow night with Jimin and Taehyung,” Namjoon tells Yoongi, almost too casually, as he reheats his dinner.

“Really?” Yoongi asks, raising an eyebrow. Namjoon hums out an affirmative.

“You should come too,” he says.

“Okay,” Yoongi shrugs, and Namjoon looks at him in surprise. Yoongi usually doesn't like going out, at all. He doesn't question it, though. He's not about to try his luck.

He goes to bed that night with his stomach tying itself in knots, far too apprehensive to fall asleep. He gets his headphones out, plugs them into his phone, puts Jungkook's little cover on repeat, and flops back onto his bed. Jungkook's voice, soft and breathy and sweet, fills his ears, but it still takes far too long for sleep to claim him. The sun is already rising by the time his eyelids slide shut.

Friday night comes far, far too quickly. Before he knows it Namjoon is getting dressed – same old black slacks, black button up, leather jacket – and rushing down to the train station to get to work. It's still early by the time he gets to the bar, Jungkook and his friends won't be arriving quite yet, so he shrugs off his jacket and gets to work, wiping the bar top down out of boredom. He serves the first few customers of the night, mostly middle aged alcoholics running away from their wives, and rests his elbows on the bar while he waits.

The bar is starting to fill out properly by the time Jungkook and his friends arrive, Yoongi trailing in right behind them. To Namjoon's surprise, the owner of the bar, Seokjin, greets Jungkook as they come in with a quick, comfortable hug. Namjoon's eyes narrow.

“Jungkook,” he calls, raising his voice to be heard over the cacophony of music and loud, drunken conversation. Jungkook notices him, smiles and walks over. Namjoon takes him in as he struts towards him. He's wearing tight, dark jeans that show off every single muscle in his thighs, and this positively sinful top, a black, v-neck shirt with a hint of lace letting his smooth skin peek through on his shoulders. The fabric moves as he walks, the swing of his hips making it brush from side to side on his chest, revealing expanses of gorgeous, tanned skin and defined pectorals.

It might be a trick of the light, but it looks like Jungkook's eyes darken when he notices Namjoon is blatantly checking him out.

“Would you like a drink?” Namjoon asks, almost choking on his own saliva when Jungkook leans over to rest his elbows on the bar top, the neckline of his top falling down so far that Namjoon catches a glimpse of golden, rock hard abs. “First one's on the house,” he adds. “Just for you.”

Jungkook's lips stretch out into a sweet, sweet smile at that, completely at odds with the rest of his appearance. “I'll have a rum and coke, thanks,” he says. Namjoon quickly serves him his drink, and takes the rest of the group's orders too. Jimin and Taehyung head onto the dance floor almost immediately, and Yoongi takes a seat at the other end of the bar and starts up a conversation with Seokjin, leaving Jungkook and Namjoon alone.

Jungkook makes himself comfortable on a barstool directly across from Namjoon, and seems perfectly content to just sit there making conversation with the elder, sipping at his rum and coke whenever Namjoon has to go serve another customer. It's not long until Namjoon is pouring him a second drink, then a third, and all of a sudden Jungkook seems a lot more inclined to hit the dance floor.

He leaves Namjoon behind the bar with a flirty little wink and goes to join Jimin and Taehyung on the dance floor, placing himself in Namjoon's direct line of sight. The current song is coming to an end, and Jungkook just stands there giggling with his friends while the last notes of it escape from the speakers. When the next song starts up, a slow, bass heavy thing perfect for dancing too, the smile drops from his face and his eyebrows furrow in concentration.

He starts to dance, slowly at first, just swaying his slim hips to the music, then with a little more energy as the rhythm of the song picks up, and Namjoon can't take his eyes off him. He dances with such grace, such restrained power, that everything around him seems to fade into the background until he's all that's left. He tosses his head back, hips rolling to the beat, the muscles in his thighs working visibly, and a drop of sweat on the side of his face catches the light, mesmerizing Namjoon as it slowly travels down to his jaw, to his neck, under the neckline of his shirt.

It's not until Seokjin comes up to tap him on the shoulder that he realizes he's been neglecting his job, and he shakes himself out of his trance and decides to keep his eyes away from Jungkook for the rest of the night. That doesn't last very long, though – the moment Namjoon's eyes leave him, Jungkook makes his way back to the bar with a little pout on his lips and orders another rum and coke. He doesn't seem too drunk yet, so Namjoon gives it to him, but apparently Jungkook is the sort of drunk who goes from zero to one hundred very, very easily. By the time he's drained his glass he's a little bit of a mess, all loose and giggly, words slurred and punctuated with hiccups.

Namjoon's forehead is creased with worry as he scans the room for Jimin and Taehyung. They're nowhere to be seen. Jungkook notices him looking, and giggles.

“They're probably fucking in the bathroom,” he says, and Namjoon raises an eyebrow even as a jolt of heat passes through his body at Jungkook using such crude language.

“I didn't know they were together,” he remarks. Jungkook hums thoughtfully – or at least as thoughtfully as someone as drunk as him can manage.

“They've been together forever,” he says, “or at least as long as any of their friends can remember. They're the kind of best friends who grew up together until the lines blurred and they turned into boyfriends instead.” He sighs wistfully. “They're cute together, but it's kind of sickening sometimes, how in love they are.” He turns to look at Namjoon, eyes all wide and glassy. “I wish I had someone like that,” he says, and it's so sad yet hopeful, Namjoon's heart clenches at the same time as it soars. “I wish I had you,” he mumbles just as Namjoon is turning away to serve another customer. He freezes mid turn, thinking he might have misheard. Somehow, though, he knows deep down that Jungkook said exactly what he heard.

Slowly, like he's stuck underwater, he turns towards Jungkook. The younger is still slumped over the bar top, tracing little patterns in the condensation melting off his glass. He doesn't seem to realize what he's just said.

“You're so handsome, Joonie,” he sighs. “Wish you'd be my boyfriend.” Namjoon is frozen to the spot, incapable of moving, incapable of even opening his mouth. He'd been so convinced that his crush was one sided, yet here is Jungkook, confessing that he feels the same way towards Namjoon. He feels like he must be dreaming. Jungkook's still talking.

“Ever since I first saw you on that train,” he mumbles. “Has anyone ever told you how hot you look in that uniform, Joonie hyung? Oh, your legs in those black slacks… I thought I'd seen a god. And your tattoos! I'm such a sucker for tattoos, especially on arms like yours,” he sighs dreamily. “Wanted you to fuck me up against a wall the first time I saw you.”

Namjoon's body flushes all hot at those last words, but that can't save his heart from dropping right down into his stomach. God, and he'd thought he'd had a chance.

It's obvious that Jungkook's only into him physically. Why would he even like him past that, really? Someone like Jungkook, young and bright, with a promising future and his whole life ahead of him, and someone like Namjoon, with nothing but a high school diploma and half a shitty apartment to his name, working his life away in this little dump of a bar because he's not good enough for anything else.

Jungkook doesn't seem to realize the effect his words have had on Namjoon, so he slips away to the other end of the bar as soon as the younger looks away.

“Yoongi,” he hisses through teeth clenched tightly to keep the tears from flowing.

“What? What's wrong?” Yoongi says, half out of his stool already, eyes wide with worry.

“You need to take Jungkook home,” he says, voice coming out surprisingly stable given the state he's in. “He's far too drunk, and I can't see Jimin and Taehyung. You know where he lives, right?”

Yoongi nods grimly, already draining the last of his drink. “I'll get him home. Just let Jimin and Taehyung know where he's gone when they come back, okay?”

Namjoon nods back, and gets back to work as Yoongi helps Jungkook out of his stool and through the door. His eyes burn with unshed tears, but he refuses to let them fall. He should have known he would never have a chance, anyway.

The night crawls on until, finally, the bar starts emptying out. Soon enough it's only Namjoon and Seokjin left behind. Namjoon wipes down the bar top aggressively as Seokjin watches on with a worried frown on his face. The silence is tense, but from the set of Namjoon's jaw Seokjin understands that it's best not to pry.

“Go on,” Namjoon grits out eventually. “Ask me what's wrong. You know you want to.”

Seokjin lets out a long-suffering sigh. “What's wrong?”

Namjoon laughs bitterly. “I should be happy that he likes me a little bit, even if it's only physical,” he says. Seokjin stays quiet. “I should take the opportunity, take him to bed, let him forget me in the morning and move on. It'd hurt, but I should do it. It's the best I'll ever get it.” The tears are starting to flow now. “I should have known that he'd never like me the way I like him. I'm not good enough for someone like him.”

Seokjin takes two quick steps towards him and wrenches the cleaning cloth out of his hands.

“Namjoon. Listen to me,” he starts, firm but not unkind. “You have to stop thinking like this. You're not defined by your education, you're not defined by your job, you're not defined by your financial situation, okay? I'm not sure that you're right about Jungkook only liking you for your body or whatever, but if that's the case you mustn't let it affect your self-confidence this much. You're much more than what one other person thinks of you, and even if Jungkook doesn't like you for you, someday there'll be someone who will. There already are people who do.”

Namjoon leans back against the bar and lets out a huge sigh, rolling his shoulders like he's trying to shrug off all the weight that's resting on them.

“I still think you should talk to Jungkook,” Seokjin adds. He's wiping down the spots that Namjoon had missed. “From what Yoongi told me, he's a good kid. And from the way he looks at you, there's more to his feelings than him just liking you for your looks.” Namjoon hums noncommittally. Seokjin looks up at him.

“Really, you should. At least clear the air between you two. You wanna keep him as a friend, don't you?” Namjoon doesn't hesitate a moment before nodding. Jungkook's far too important to him, as a friend, not only as a love interest, to let go so easily.

“Promise me you'll talk to him,” Seokjin says, lifting a hand to shake on it.

“I promise,” Namjoon says somewhat reluctantly, but he shakes Seokjin's hand anyway.

Namjoon ends up not talking to Jungkook at all, despite his promise to Seokjin. He spends his weekend moping in his bedroom, only getting out of bed for trips to the bathroom and snacks. Yoongi frowns at him all weekend in a way that's definitely going to give him premature wrinkles, but he can't really say anything without sounding hypocritical, with the way that he locks himself up in his bedroom with his music equipment for days on end sometimes. So instead of lecturing Namjoon he just hangs around him all the time like a worried parent, force feeding him the occasionally piece of fruit or vegetable and pouring water down his throat.

By the time Tuesday rolls around Namjoon has no choice but to crawl out of his blanket cocoon and wash the weekend's grime off his body in the shower. It's rather like a caterpillar crawling out of its cocoon as a butterfly, except that in this case the butterfly is just as sad and emotionally constipated as the caterpillar, if slightly better looking and better smelling.

He drags himself to work and ignores Seokjin's judgmental gaze on him all evening. The customers don't seem to notice his deteriorated mental state, and that's good enough for him. It's Seokjin's turn to close up, so as soon as Namjoon's shift ends he's dashing out of the bar with a quick goodbye thrown over his shoulder before Seokjin can get a word in edgeways.

He rides the train home alone, elbows resting on his knees, eyes fixed on the floor. He feels empty, drained, the same way it was before he met Jungkook, except that it's worse now because he knows how it feels to be happy and sated and content.The rumble of the train on its rails and the screech of metal on metal when it brakes seem louder on nights like this, when Jungkook isn't around to break the silence. Jungkook has never taken the train with Namjoon on a Tuesday night, but somehow this Tuesday night is even lonelier than all the Tuesday nights before, because Namjoon isn't sure if Jungkook will ever be around again.

That Thursday, Namjoon calls in sick. He can hear the disappointment in Seokjin's voice even through the phone, but he ignores it, hangs up as soon as he can and walks out onto the balcony to light up a cigarette. His pack is almost empty. He's been smoking more since that night at the bar, spending money he doesn't really have and ruining his health at the same time. 'Smoking kills,' the packaging says in big letters. He's seen it so much, read it so many times, that it doesn't really affect him anymore. He's not sure that it ever did, to be honest.

“I heard that,” Yoongi says from behind Namjoon, startling him. He almost drops his half-smoked cigarette. “You're not going to work today.”

It's not a question, but Namjoon nods anyway.

“You need to talk to him eventually, Joon. I don't know why you've gotten it into your head that he only likes your body and doesn't want the rest, but I really don't think that's true. God,” he laughs, “you should have heard the things he said about you when I took him home that night. Kept talking about how pretty you are and how much he wants to kiss you all over.”

“Exactly,” Namjoon mumbles. “All physical.”

“Namjoon,” Yoongi sighs. “Sometimes love works in different ways for different people, you know? For you it's all about words, all about expressing and explaining your feelings. For some people it's gifts, grand gestures, little things. For Jungkook I think it's touch. I think that's how he shows his love for people, that's the way he expresses it. And I think him wanting to kiss you all over is about much more than him thinking you're pretty and have a nice body. I think it means a lot to him, actually.”

“You think so?” Namjoon whispers, heart soaring with hope despite himself.

“I don't want to say I know so,” Yoongi answers, “because I don't. But I'm pretty damn sure. If you don't believe me,” he says, “you should ask Jungkook.”

Namjoon drops his head and takes a long drag of his cigarette. Yoongi sighs again, pats him on the shoulder, and walks back inside. Namjoon is left alone on the balcony to finish his cigarette, but the thought of Jungkook turns the smoke even more acrid in his mouth and he can't bear to finish it. He takes a couple more drags before grinding it out on the rusted metal railing of the balcony and tossing it over the edge, watching as it falls down onto the pavement below. It glows orange for a few more seconds before fizzling out, and Namjoon walks back inside.

He spends the rest of the evening moping around on the couch, scrolling mindlessly through Twitter and wasting away the night away on YouTube. He acts disinterested whenever Yoongi's around, but there's a knot growing tighter and tighter in his stomach as the clock's hands crawl towards the time when he usually gets on the train.

He watches, eyes trained on the clock, as the hands tick to that time and then past it. He doesn't know quite what he's waiting for, but after a few minutes he gives up waiting, sinking back into the sofa and lifting his hands to rub at his tired eyes. He's just starting to heave himself out of the sofa and into bed when his phone starts ringing, the shrill sound tearing through the silence of the apartment and making him jump. He fumbles for it between the couch cushions, and a jolt of adrenaline goes shooting through his veins. It's Jungkook.

He hesitates. He wants to talk to him, wants to hear his voice, wants to hear about his week, about his classes, about his friends, but he's apprehensive of what he's going to say. Just before the ringing stops, a few seconds before it goes to answerphone, he picks up. He lifts the phone to his ear. There's only silence on the other end.

“Hello?” he says, voice barely above a whisper. His heart feels like it's about to come out of his throat, beating so fast he feels dizzy.

N-Namjoon,” comes Jungkook's response, quiet and clogged up with tears.

“No, no, no,” Namjoon panics, chest going tight with worry. “Don't cry, Kook, please don't cry.”

I'm s-sorry,” the younger sobs on the other end. “I'm so sorry J-Joonie.”

“Hey, hey, there's nothing to be sorry about, Kook, you're fine, we're fine, okay? Just talk to me, stay on the line, try to calm down.”

All Namjoon's worries from earlier have practically evaporated, and all he can think about is Jungkook, Jungkook, Jungkook. He needs him to be okay, needs him to stop crying, can feel his heart breaking in two at the wet sobs coming from the other side of the line.

“What's wrong, what's going on?”

You weren't there, h-hyung. You weren't on the train. W-why weren't you on the train? Don't you l-like me anymore?

“No, no, don't say that, please don't say that,” Namjoon says, words slurring together from how fast he's trying to get them out. His eyes are burning with tears now, his chest aching. He can't stand hearing Jungkook say things like that, doubt his feelings for him, when in reality he loves him so much it hurts sometimes. “I like you so much Kook, so so much, you can't even imagine.”

W-why did you leave then? Why did you r-run away when I told you h-how much I liked you?”

Namjoon's heart skips a beat. “Liked?”

L-like,” comes Jungkook's answer after a long moment of silence. “I still like you Joonie, of c-course I do. I could never just s-stop,” he sobs.

“Jungkook,” Namjoon says, voice firm now, full of hope. “I think we may have misunderstood each other a little bit. Where are you right now?”

At home with Jimin and T-taehyung, why?” he sniffles.

“You should come over,” Namjoon answers, biting his lip nervously. “I think we need to talk.”

T-talk?” Jungkook stutters. He sounds terrified.

“Nothing bad, I promise! For what it's worth I really, really like you too.”

Oh,” Jungkook murmurs, and even through the phone Namjoon can tell how much happier he sounds already. The nervous tension in his muscles eases slightly. “Text me your address,” he says, sounding so much better already. “I'm coming over.”

“See you in a bit,” Namjoon says, chest bubbling with happiness and excitement.

See you,” Jungkook answers, his grin practically audible, and then the line goes dead.

Namjoon flops back on the sofa with a big smile, eyes slightly shiny from the intensity of his relief. Yoongi pads into the room.

“I was right, wasn't I?”

Namjoon looks away bashfully. “You were.”

Yoongi lets out a long-suffering sigh. “I'll text Jimin to tell him I'm sleeping over at their apartment tonight. Something tells me you and Jungkook will want this place to yourselves.”

Namjoon blushes hard, and doesn't correct him. He would never take advantage of Jungkook, would never have sex with him if he thought they weren't both ready, but the sadness and desperation that had clouded Jungkook's voice during their phone call tell him that their reunion will be intense.

He tries to clean up the apartment a little while Yoongi gathers enough stuff for an overnight stay in a little bag, and takes a quick shower when he's finished doing that. When he steps out of the shower Yoongi is gone, and the apartment is quiet and empty. He dresses himself in far nicer clothes than he would have otherwise, and even makes an effort to style his hair a little, although he gives up after a while.

Even though he's expecting it, the knock at his door surprises him. He takes a few moments to calm his nerves before opening it, plastering on a smile that is nervous but genuine.

“Jungkook,” he breathes, eyes taking in the boy in front of him. He looks soft and delicate, compact frame drowning in too big clothes, hair flopping over his forehead, eyes still slightly red, cheeks still stained with dried tear tracks. Namjoon feels awful.

“Come here,” he says, opening his arms wide, and Jungkook falls right into them with a soft, contented sigh, burying his head into Namjoon's chest. Namjoon pushes the door shut before wrapping both arms tightly around Jungkook and holding him as he starts to cry again.

“Shh,” he says. “Don't cry, baby.” The endearment slips out so easily that it feels like he's been calling him that for years, and Jungkook melts even further into Namjoon's arms even as he continues to sniffle.

“I-I lied to you earlier, Joon,” he gets out through the little tremors wracking his body. Namjoon freezes, and Jungkook pulls his head away from his chest. “When I said I like you.” Namjoon's heart starts free falling like it's in a lift and all the cables have been cut at once. He pulls away, and Jungkook lets him.

“I don't.” Namjoon can't help himself, winces at that, the pain in his chest so intense that he has to curl over a little.

“I-I,” Jungkook stutters, taking a deep breath. “I love you.” It's quiet, almost a whisper, but Namjoon hears it anyway. He straightens up, eyes going wide in surprise.

When the silence between them stretches on, Jungkook turns his head to the side, taking a step back.

“I'm sorry,” he hiccups. “I should have known. It's too much. I'm scaring you away.” He closes his eyes, and two twin teardrops fall from his already wet lashes, tracing shiny tracks all down his face. He takes another step back, towards the door, but Namjoon stops him with a hand on his arm. Jungkook's eyes fly open.

“Don't,” he says, voice harsh and bitter, and it sounds so, so wrong coming from him. “Don't make it worse, Joon. Don't make it hurt more. It hurts enough as it-”

Namjoon cuts him off with a kiss, slotting their lips together before Jungkook can finish his sentence. Jungkook makes a little noise of surprise, but relaxes into Namjoon's grip as the elder brings his arms up to wrap around his waist. Their mouths crash together awkwardly, Namjoon's teeth digging a little too deep into the softness of Jungkook's bottom lip, and it tastes salty like tears and coppery like blood but it's still perfect, because it's Jungkook.

Jungkook pulls away after a while and looks up at Namjoon, eyes wide, lashes clumped together from the moisture, a little bead of crimson red forming on his lip.

“D-does this mean…?” he murmurs, trailing off like he's afraid of finishing his sentence, afraid that saying the words out loud will change things.

“I love you too, Kook,” Namjoon says, stooping over a little to bury his head in the younger's shoulder. “For… a long time now.” He's blushing, cheeks red and hot despite himself. Jungkook freezes for a moment, breath catching in his throat, before he starts giggling. His warm breath tickles the hair at the back of Namjoon's neck, and the elder's lips stretch into a wide grin – Jungkook's laugh is just so infectious.

“Joonie,” Jungkook hiccups, still a little teary but bright with excitement too. “Kiss me again, properly this time,” he pouts, and Namjoon is happy to oblige.

Slowly but surely, he backs Jungkook up against the door. Jungkook's eyes stay fixed on his, wide and trusting, lips parted slightly. Namjoon leans down, pauses. Brings his hand up to caress Jungkook's cheek and cup his jaw, lets their breath mingle in the small space between their faces, eyes locked together, dark with intensity. Takes a deep, fortifying breath before leaning forwards to capture Jungkook's lips with his own.

It's softer this time, still just as intense but without the violent desperation of their earlier kiss. Jungkook's full bottom lip slots perfectly between Namjoon's own, and Jungkook's hands come up to rest hesitantly on Namjoon's broad shoulders. It's slow and warm and wet and perfect. Namjoon keeps it chaste, not wanting to overstep any boundaries, but soon enough Jungkook grows bored and runs his tongue coyly along the seam of Namjoon's lips, coaxing him to open up. Namjoon lets Jungkook take the lead for a few moments, licking eagerly into Namjoon's mouth, before he tangles his hand in Jungkook's hair and tugs gently.

Jungkook lets out a quiet little whine and goes completely pliant against Namjoon. Namjoon slowly pulls away, and gives Jungkook's hair another tentative tug. The younger whimpers, all high-pitched and breathy, and his eyes roll back into his head.

“Fuck,” Namjoon hisses through clenched teeth. “So sensitive, baby.”

Jungkook moans, fists a hand into the front of Namjoon's shirt, and pulls him back for another kiss. It's messier this time, wet, almost sloppy, and Namjoon's jeans are starting to feel uncomfortably tight. In a moment of uncharacteristic confidence, he slides both hands down Jungkook's body to grip his hips, and pulls his body tight against his own. Their cocks brush together through layers of clothing, and Jungkook moans into the kiss.

The younger pulls away, eyes dark and lustful. His lips are red and kiss-swollen, smeared with shiny spit, and his hair is sticking up where Namjoon had pulled it earlier. He looks like sin personified. He keeps his gaze locked with Namjoon's as his hands cover the elder's where they rest on his hips and pull them lower and lower until they settle on the curve of his ass. A shiver runs up Namjoon's spine, and he dips his head to kiss trails of bruises into Jungkook's neck, squeezing the firm cheeks. Jungkook lets out a satisfied little sigh and tilts his head back to give Namjoon better access.

Namjoon pulls back after a few minutes, leaving the skin of Jungkook's neck constellated with pinks and purples.They're both fully hard in their jeans by now, and Jungkook's eyes are looking a little hazy and unfocused.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Namjoon asks. His voice comes out rough and slightly shaky.

Jungkook nods, and brings his hands up to cup Namjoon's face. “I love you, Joon. I trust you, I want to do this with you, as long as you want to do it with me.”

Namjoon's heart skips a beat. He's not quite used to hearing those words come out of Jungkook's mouth, and he's not sure he ever will be.

“I love you too, baby,” he murmurs, pressing a soft little kiss to Jungkook's lips. “And of course I want to do this. I want you so bad, baby,” he groans, voice deepening. “You're so beautiful, so perfect, who wouldn't?”

Jungkook shivers at the praise, and tangles his hands in Namjoon's hair.

“Take me to your bedroom, then,” he whispers, lips brushing against Namjoon's jaw. It's Namjoon's turn to shiver under the intensity of Jungkook's dark eyes before he slides his hands down to the back of Jungkook's thighs and lifts him up. Jungkook's arms quickly wrap around Namjoon's neck, and his legs come up to circle his waist tightly. Namjoon hisses as the new position presses Jungkook's tailbone right up against the head of his cock.

He moves quickly, carrying Jungkook through the apartment to his bedroom and laying him down gently on his bed before going back to close the door. He turns around to see Jungkook sitting cross legged on the bed, already tugging his shirt off. Namjoon bites his lip as his eyes roam over the planes of golden skin and tight muscle. Jungkook grins up at him.

“Like what you see?” He's a little bratty, a little cheeky, but there's a glint in his eyes like a challenge that tells Namjoon he wants nothing more than to be taken down a notch.

“I do,” Namjoon breathes as he stalks towards the bed like a predator. Jungkook's eyes are wide, black with only the slimmest ring of brown around the pupil, shining with lust and maybe a little fear. Namjoon kneels on the mattress in front of Jungkook and pushes at his shoulders slightly. Jungkook goes down easily, his limp, pliant body contrasting with the fire in his eyes. Namjoon grabs his shirt from where it's still hanging on one arm and tosses it aside before lowering his head to Jungkook's chest and kissing a hot trail down from his collarbones to his bellybutton. Jungkook's muscles tense and shiver under his touch, and Namjoon lifts his head with a smirk.

“Not so mouthy now, are you?” he says, and Jungkook lets out a quiet little whimper.

“T-take off your clothes,” he says, more a plea than an order. “Please, Joonie.”

Namjoon obliges, quickly tugging his shirt over his head and letting Jungkook run his hands all over his chest, exploring the golden skin. He only lets Jungkook touch for a few moments though, and soon enough he's grabbing the younger's wrists and pinning them above his head, lowering his mouth to his chest again. This time he goes for Jungkook's nipples, licking a long, wet stripe over one of them. Jungkook's reaction is far more intense than expected. His whole body seizes up, wrists straining against Namjoon's grasp, and he lets out a loud, high-pitched whine, voice strained like he's trying to contain his noises.

Namjoon looks up briefly. “Be as loud as you want, baby,” he orders. “I want to hear your pretty noises.”

Jungkook's head falls back against the sheets, and he moans, louder this time, as Namjoon returns his attention to his nipples, taking one of them into his mouth to flick at it with his tongue while his free hand comes up to toy with the other one. Jungkook writhes under his mouth and fingers, head thrown back, eyes closed and lips parted, a plethora of loud moans, whines and whimpers falling from them with each flick of Namjoon's tongue.

“Joon,” he gasps, voice tight like he's struggling for air. “P-please… stop – ah! – teasing.”

Namjoon takes pity on him and detaches his mouth from his nipple, leaving one last lick on the opposite one for good measure. He lets go of Jungkook's wrists, and lets his hands trail down to Jungkook's belt instead.

“This okay?” he asks, looking up at the younger. Jungkook nods once, lifting himself up on his elbows, and watches as Namjoon undoes his belt, button and fly. He obediently lifts his hips without Namjoon even having to ask so that the elder can pull his jeans down until he's left in nothing but his underwear.

“Pretty baby,” Namjoon breathes as he runs his hands up and down Jungkook's thighs, the muscle there tensing up under his touch. Jungkook moans quietly at the praise, and Namjoon lets his hands travel higher until they're tracing the crease between Jungkook's thighs and his torso. Their eyes lock and, ever so slowly, Namjoon hooks his fingers in the waistband of Jungkook's underwear and pulls it down his legs. His cock bounces back against his stomach as it slips free from the fabric, leaving a wet patch on the skin from all the precome he's leaking.

“Fuck,” Namjoon hisses, wrapping a hand around Jungkook's cock. Jungkook's abs seize up, and he lets out a loud moan. “So wet, baby.” Jungkook blushes at that, raising his hands to cover his face, and Namjoon laughs. “No need to be so embarrassed, Kook,” he says, digging his thumb into the slit and coating the head with precome, urging a loud whimper out of Jungkook. “S' really hot.”

“R-really?” Jungkook hiccups, looking up at Namjoon with wide eyes.

“Yeah, really,” Namjoon confirms, before lifting his thumb up to his lips to taste. Jungkook lets out a soft little moan as he watches Namjoon suck the digit into his mouth, coating his tongue in Jungkook's precome. Namjoon smiles at him, leans in to kiss the head of his cock, and then parts his lips and sinks down on it, taking it as deep as he can. Jungkook curls forward with a gasp, hands scrabbling for purchase in Namjoon's hair as the elder works his throat around Jungkook's cock.

Oh, oh, oh,” he breathes, falling back onto the bed, squirming so hard on the sheets that Namjoon has to pin his legs down to avoid getting kicked. He pulls off with a lewd, wet sound and starts licking at the head, reveling in the little choked off noises Jungkook makes whenever he so much as touches him. He smirks to himself before sinking down again and beginning to bob his head, letting his tongue rest, heavy and warm, against the underside of Jungkook's dick.

Jungkook's moans get louder and louder, more and more high-pitched, and before long he's tugging at Namjoon's hair with a breathy little “'m gonna c-come, Joonie.”

Namjoon just hums and takes him deeper, swallowing around him, letting his throat constrict around the head. Jungkook lets out a loud sob and spills, hot and heavy down Namjoon's throat. Namjoon swallows it all, and pulls off with one last kitten lick to the head, chuckling at the way Jungkook's entire body twitches. He crawls back up his body to capture his lips with his own, licking into his mouth and moaning as Jungkook licks back just as eagerly, tasting his own come on Namjoon's tongue.

Jungkook's hands trail down Namjoon's bare torso to his crotch, palming him through his jeans. Namjoon spills a groan into Jungkook's mouth before tearing himself away.

“You don't have to, baby,” he pants.

“But I want to,” Jungkook pouts. “Been waiting so long Joonie, want you to fuck me.”

A full-bodied shiver shakes through Namjoon's frame, and he bites his bottom lip to hold back the groan that bubbles up in his chest.

“Are you sure? I don't wanna hurt you...” he says, although he wants nothing more than to flip Jungkook over and fuck him into the sheets. Instead of answering, Jungkook turns over on the bed, face down, ass up, and pulls his cheeks apart, presenting himself to Namjoon. He lets his fingers brush over his pretty hole and whines into the mattress.

“Fuck,” Namjoon swears. “You wax?”

Jungkook doesn't answer, just hums and lets out a little hiccuping gasp when Namjoon's fingers replace his own.

“So pretty, baby,” Namjoon whispers. “Can't wait to wreck you, yeah?”

“Fuck, yes,” Jungkook whines, rutting against the sheets. He's getting hard again already. “Wanna – want you t-to break me, tear me ap-apart,” he moans, voice all hoarse and wrecked.

Namjoon leans over to grab a bottle of lube out of his bedside drawer. Jungkook whines when he takes his hands away from his ass, and Namjoon gently slaps one of his thighs to keep him quiet. Jungkook moans at the sensation and melts submissively into the sheets, and Namjoon files that information away for another day. He hurriedly coats his fingers with a thick layer of lube before bringing his hands back to Jungkook's ass, pulling the cheeks apart with his dry hand. He circles his pretty pink rim with one lubed up finger, and Jungkook shivers at the coldness of it, but doesn't say a word, hazy and lost in his headspace.

Namjoon slowly pushes his finger in, and it sinks all the way to the last knuckle without much resistance. He raises an eyebrow.

“You do this often, baby?” he asks. Jungkook buries his face in the sheets, embarrassed, and Namjoon spanks his thigh again to get him to talk.

Ah!” Jungkook cries. “I-I do,” he sniffles. “Feels – feels so good, can't help it.”

“And who do you think about when you finger your pretty little hole?” Namjoon asks, pumping his finger in and out of Jungkook a few times before adding a second one.

“Y-you, hyung!” Jungkook cries out, back arching. “Imagine 's your fingers instead,” he hiccups. “Sometimes I use a-a dildo, 'n I imagine 's your cock splitting me open,” he slurs, fucking himself back on Namjoon's fingers. “Thinking about you f-fucking me, it always makes me come so hard,” he gasps as Namjoon pushes a third finger in, stretching Jungkook's hole wide open.

“Yeah?” he growls, scissoring his fingers and curling them into Jungkook's walls. “You won't have to imagine anymore, baby,” he says, and Jungkook's body seizes up as his fingers brush up against his sweet spot.

“There, hyung, there!” the boy whines, cock leaking steadily onto the sheets. Namjoon presses up against Jungkook's prostate more insistently, curling his fingers into it on every thrust.

“H-hyung, stop,” Jungkook whimpers, and Namjoon freezes, panic bubbling up in his chest. “Don't wanna come yet, want you to fuck me first,” Jungkook explains, and Namjoon relaxes, slowly pulling his fingers out.

“Whatever you want, baby,” he says, wiping his wet fingers on the already ruined sheets before wriggling out of his jeans. He tears open a condom and rolls it onto his cock, slicking himself up thoroughly, before kneeling behind Jungkook and pulling the younger's bottom half flush against his. Jungkook whines as Namjoon's dick slides between his cheeks, getting the skin there all sticky with lube.

“C'mon, Joonie,” he pouts, exasperation slipping into his voice, reaching back to grab Namjoon's thigh. “Fuck me.”

Namjoon is tempted to spank the brattiness out of him again, but finds himself growing impatient too. Instead he grasps his cock by the base and ever so slowly feeds it into Jungkook's hole. The younger chokes up underneath him, whining and squirming and begging for him to go faster, but Namjoon keeps his pace steady. By the time he finally bottoms out, there are tears of frustration forming at the corners of Jungkook's eyes.

“Fuck me, fuck me, please,” he pleads, rocking back against Namjoon desperately, and the elder finally takes pity on him, grabbing hold of his waist before snapping his hips forcefully against Jungkook's ass. The younger keens, fisting his hands in Namjoon's sheets and shuddering as he finds his prostate, slamming into it a few times before slowing the movement of his hips to a slow grind. Jungkook tries to fuck himself on Namjoon's cock again, but the elder keeps him still with two firm hands on his waist as he circles his hips slowly against Jungkook's sweet spot.

It's honestly not that surprising when Jungkook decides he's had enough. In an impressive show of strength, he yanks Namjoon's hands off him, pushes the elder over onto his back and straddles him, grabbing his cock and sinking down onto it with a satisfied sigh. Namjoon is so stunned by Jungkook's complete change in persona, from how pliant and submissive he was before to the way he pins Namjoon to the mattress and takes what he wants now, that he doesn't bother trying to flip them over again, and just lets Jungkook bounce on his cock, forcing little moans out of himself with every movement.

“That'll teach you not to t-tease me,” he pants as he swivels his hips, the muscles in his thighs bulging under the strain. Namjoon won't lie to himself – he finds this sudden show of dominance almost as arousing as the desperation and submissiveness.

Soon enough Jungkook's abs are tensing, brows furrowed and a string of drool slipping down his chin as he nears his orgasm. His moans get louder and whinier, and his hips slow slightly, letting Namjoon's cock reach even deeper inside him. It's not long until he's coming again, cock spurting strings of white all over his and Namjoon's stomachs as he squirms and sobs on Namjoon's cock. The moment his spent cock stops twitching, Namjoon flips him over and, hooking his legs over his shoulders, starts fucking into him with quick, desperate strokes, chasing his own orgasm. Jungkook's eyes are wet and shiny from the overstimulation, and even as he lets out pained little whimpers he pulls Namjoon closer with a hand on his ass.

Stopping for a moment to readjust their position, Namjoon grabs both of Jungkook's ankles in one hand and twists his legs sideways until both his knees are touching one of his shoulders. The position makes Jungkook seize up tight, hole clenching down on Namjoon's cock, and it only takes a few more thrusts until he's spilling into the condom with a low groan, peppering soft kisses over the backs of Jungkook's knees.

“So good, baby,” he whispers as he gently pulls out, kissing Jungkook's forehead when the younger lets out a pained whine at the feeling of emptiness. “You were so good for me, so perfect.” Jungkook sighs happily at the praise, a smile stretching his swollen lips.

“Wanna take a shower with me? Or are you too tired?”

“Shower,” Jungkook pouts, stretching his arms out towards Namjoon. “But hyung has to carry me.”

Namjoon chuckles, and gathers Jungkook up in his arms before heading to the bathroom. He sets the younger down on the edge of the sink as he fixes the water's temperature, then helps him into the little walk-in shower with an arm around his waist. It's cramped, so small they barely fit, but Jungkook seems happy to press himself up against Namjoon and let the other do all the work, eyelids fluttering shut as he lets Namjoon shampoo his hair and rinse his body down.

They don't stay in the bathroom for long, not with Jungkook practically falling asleep on his feet, and soon enough Namjoon is wrapping the younger in a big fluffy towel, soaking up all the moisture from his skin.

“C'mon, let's get you to bed,” he chuckles when Jungkook starts sniffling adorably. He dresses the younger in one of his bigger t-shirts, loving the way it hangs a little loose on Jungkook's smaller frame, laying him on the bed and climbing under the covers with him.

“Goodnight, Kookie,” he whispers into Jungkook's shoulder, wrapping his arms around him from behind.

“Night hyung,” Jungkook answers, words muffled and slurred with sleep. He goes out like a light almost immediately, and Namjoon lets the warmth of his body against his coax his eyelids shut.

Namjoon wakes up the next morning to Jungkook tracing patterns on his bare chest, following the stark lines of his tattoos.

“Morning, Kook,” he mumbles, cracking one eye open. Jungkook smiles at him.

“They're nice,” he whispers against Namjoon's lips, leaning down to kiss him. “Your tattoos.”

“Thanks,” Namjoon laughs, voice still rough with sleep. “I don't usually get compliments on them.”

“That's a shame,” Jungkook pouts, as he traces the lines of one of them down Namjoon's bicep. “I like them. What are they supposed to be?”

“Nothing in particular,” Namjoon shrugs. “Just abstract.”

Jungkook hums, and leans down to press his lips against the ink. “Do they mean anything?”

Namjoon lifts his hand to grab Jungkook's fingers, and brings them down to touch the center of his chest, where the lines of his tattoos flow out from. “See how they all start here, and kind of flow outwards?” Jungkook hums. “It's a reminder that if you set your heart to it, you can do anything you want to.”

“Do you really believe that?” Jungkook asks, tilting his head. Namjoon shrugs.

“I'd like to think it's true. There's a lot of things I'd like to do, but haven't yet. I guess more than anything they're just a reminder not to give up.”

“What would you like to do that you haven't done, hyung?” Jungkook asks, eyes wide and curious. Namjoon lets his head flop back against the mattress with a sigh. He knows he has to talk to Jungkook about this eventually.

“Go to university. For music, like Yoongi.”

“I didn't know you were into music!” Jungkook exclaims, and he sounds more excited to learn about another hobby of Namjoon's than anything else, which is reassuring.

“Yeah. I used to rap a little, actually,” he mumbles.

“That's so cool, hyung!” Jungkook gasps. “You'll have to show me one day, yeah?”

“Maybe one day, baby,” Namjoon laughs, burying his head in Jungkook's shoulder to hide his growing blush. Jungkook giggles and wraps his arms around him, burying his nose in Namjoon's hair.

“Why didn't you go to university?” he asks, no judgement in his tone, only curiosity. It's refreshing.

“Not enough money,” Namjoon sighs. “Didn't want to burden my parents, so I told them I'd work to save up enough to pay for a degree. Guess that didn't work out,” he laughs, and it comes out bitter and jaded. Jungkook just sighs and hugs Namjoon tighter, pretending like he doesn't notice the tears that escape the elder's eyes, and that's just what Namjoon needs, really.

“You should let me paint your tattoos, one day,” Jungkook says, voice muffled against Namjoon's hair.

“What, like… on a canvas?” Namjoon says. “You want me to model for you?”

“No, no, that's not what I meant,” Jungkook explains, shaking his head. “Like… they're so… monochromatic, you know? All black and white. Not that there's anything wrong with that,” he rushes to say, blushing. “But I'd like to color them in, sometime.”

The proposition is strange, but Namjoon likes the idea of it. He would do anything for Jungkook, but the thought of lying down and letting him drip colored paints all over the stark, dark lines of his tattoos sounds almost fun, in a way.

“Of course I'd let you, Kook,” he says, lifting his head to peck Jungkook on the mouth. Jungkook blushes, and giggles against Namjoon's lips. Namjoon settles back against the bedsheets again, and drifts off as Jungkook continues to trace patterns over his skin, eyes fixed on his tattoos. If you look close enough, you can almost see colors that aren't there reflected in his eyes.

He wakes up again a couple of hours later to an empty bed and the smell of pancakes wafting through the apartment. Smiling, he drags himself out of bed and into the kitchen, and is met with the sight of a half naked Jungkook standing in front of the stove next to an impressively tall stack of pancakes. He walks over to the younger and drapes himself over his back, wrapping his arms around his waist and resting his head on his shoulder as he watches him cook.

“Care to explain why you're making enough food for a large family?” Namjoon asks, and Jungkook giggles.

“I thought you might be hungry after last night,” he explains. Namjoon hums. The large t-shirt Jungkook's wearing hangs to about halfway down his thighs, and Namjoon slips a hand underneath it, dragging the fabric up until his palm is resting on the soft curve of Jungkook's ass. Just as he'd expected, there's nothing underneath. He purposefully starts to knead the muscle there, watching as Jungkook's cheeks get redder and redder.

“J-joonie,” he stutters after a while. “Why don't we eat first, yeah? You sit down, I'll just go put some pants on.”

“You don't have to,” Namjoon pouts, but Jungkook just rolls his eyes at him and leaves the room anyway.

Namjoon gets two plates out of the cupboard and shares the pancakes equally onto them, digging some strawberries and whipped cream out of his fridge to decorate them with. Jungkook comes back soon enough, wearing a pair of Namjoon's boxers under Namjoon's shirt. Namjoon grins at the sight and pulls him into his lap.

“Who said you could take those?” he whispers into his ear.

“We're boyfriends, hyung. What's yours is mine and what's mine is yours and all that,” Jungkook pouts.

“I think that only applies to married people, not boyfriends, Kookie,” Namjoon laughs, although internally he's kind of shaken up. Boyfriends? It's moving fast, maybe a little too fast, but Namjoon wouldn't have it any other way. All he wants is to be able to call Jungkook his.

“So we are?” Jungkook asks. “Boyfriends, I mean.”

“Of course we are, babe,” Namjoon smiles. “As long as you want us to be.”

Jungkook smiles back and whispers his approval against Namjoon's lips, pulling him into a kiss. Somehow his mouth tastes sweet like strawberries, and Namjoon licks into it hungrily until Jungkook pulls away with a sweet little giggle.

“Let's not let the food go cold,” he pouts, and Namjoon pulls the two plates towards them and promptly decides to feed Jungkook his breakfast. Jungkook whines and complains, saying he's a big boy, but still opens his mouth wide for Namjoon to fork little bites of pancake into it.

They've practically cleared their plates when the door to the flat opens suddenly. Yoongi steps through, looking tired and a little disheveled, and grins when he notices Namjoon and Jungkook.

“Congrats,” he says, voice casual but eyes shining. “You two look good together.”

Namjoon mumbles his thanks around his last mouthful of pancakes, and Jungkook responds to Yoongi's comment with a bright grin.

“I'm glad you've figured it out,” he adds. “You should have seen how miserable Joon was when you two were fighting,” he says to Jungkook. “Moped around in bed all day, stared at your contact on his phone but never actually called or texted you, smoked far too much… he was a mess.”

Jungkook turns on Namjoon with angry eyes. “You smoke?” he says, and Namjoon's pretty dependent on his daily dose of nicotine but the look on Jungkook's face is enough for him to never want to buy a pack again.

“There are better coping mechanisms, you know,” Jungkook adds, face softening. “I… wasn't in the best state either, when we weren't talking. So I painted. Sad things, angry things, but it helps because it's like taking all the negative things stewing in your heart and your head and spilling them on the canvas instead.”

Namjoon feels his heart double in size inside his chest. “You should show me, sometime,” he murmurs. “Your paintings. Only if you want to, of course.” He ducks his head, blushing, and Jungkook laughs, loud and bright.

“Of course I do,” he grins. “Why would I be afraid to show you my heart, when you already hold half of it?”

It's a while after that before Jungkook has the time to finally show Namjoon his paintings. One week it's finals coming up, and Jungkook is obscenely busy. The week after that, Namjoon is busier than ever helping Seokjin out at the bar, which is full of students celebrating the end of exams almost every night. Eventually though, they find a day where they're both free, and Namjoon takes the train over to Jungkook's shared apartment. Yoongi tags along with him, claiming that he needs to ask Jimin and Taehyung about singing on his newest project as a vague excuse. The flirty smirks and bedroom eyes that the pair pin him with as soon as they enter the apartment tell an entirely different story, and Namjoon doesn't dare to ask – he's not sure he even really wants to know. Sure enough, they disappear into Jimin's room with hushed giggles, saying they need to 'practice' together. Jungkook turns to Namjoon with a light flush on his cheeks.

“Come on, I'll show you to my studio. We probably won't hear them from there, as long as they're not too loud,” he giggles, and Namjoon feels his own face heat up too. He's not really attracted to any of them individually, but he's not blind either, and the thought of the three of them together is, well – kind of hot.

He quickly forgets about all that when Jungkook pushes the door to his studio open, though. It's a tiny little room, more like a storage closet than a studio, but Jungkook has made it look almost professional. Despite the size of the room there's a large window taking up almost the whole width of the wall opposite the door, and the walls are painted a pretty eggshell white that makes the room look bigger than it actually is. There's an easel with a canvas perched on it and a little stool in the center, and every wall is lined with more canvases, some blank, some turned face down, some protected with fabric draped over them. The wooden floor surrounding the stool and easel is spotted with paint in a myriad of different colors, and there's even stray streaks on the walls here and there, too.

As they walk in, Namjoon's eyes are drawn to the canvas resting on the easel. It's abstract, and it looks unfinished, but it makes something in his chest tighten up all the same. It's all bright colors, mostly yellows and oranges and reds, but with sprinkles of blue and green here and there as well. Jungkook lowers his head, even shyer than usual, as Namjoon approaches it.

“What… what does it represent?” Namjoon asks, lips parting in awe as he stands directly in front of the painting and takes it all in. There's so many colors, all mixed up together, that it should just look chaotic, but the soft, elegant brushstrokes Jungkook has used give it quite the opposite effect.

“It's… how I feel about you, I guess,” Jungkook says, voice wavering. “The yellows and oranges are happiness, excitement. The blue is calmness, tranquility. The green is strength and growth. And the red is… lust.”

Namjoon grins at that. “C'mere baby,” he whispers, pulling Jungkook closer by the waist, and he kisses him silly in front of his painting, swallowing up Jungkook's little giggles and moans, so, so endeared by this boy.

“I love you,” he murmurs when they separate, foreheads still resting against each other. Jungkook answers him with a smile and a little peck. He doesn't need to say it back. The painting says it all for him.

It all comes to a head – the end of the beginning, if you will – when, after one of the open mic nights the bar holds once in a blue moon, Seokjin makes Namjoon an offer.

“You should perform, next time we have one of those,” he says. He sounds casual, almost disinterested, but Namjoon knows that Seokjin realizes how important music is to him.

“I can't,” Namjoon laughs, trying to brush him off. “I don't have anything to perform.”

Seokjin fixes him with judgmental eyes. “I know damn well you have lyrics, Namjoon. Or do you think I don't see you scribbling in that notebook of yours during the quiet nights? You could just ask Yoongi to make you some beats, or even to teach you how to make some. We both know he'd jump at the chance.”

Namjoon sighs, setting down the wine glass he's cleaning. “I'll think about it,” he says.

He does end up thinking about it a lot, in the weeks after that. He talks about it to Jungkook and Yoongi, who, as expected, are very amenable to the idea. Namjoon isn't so sure. He hasn't performed anything he's written since he was, what? Seventeen? And he has no idea if he's capable of doing it now. Yoongi doesn't take maybe for an answer, and one day when they're both free he sits Namjoon down in front of his own workstation, and they waste away all the daylight hours creating beat after beat for Namjoon to lay his lyrics down to.

Jungkook isn't about to let Namjoon abandon the opportunity, either, and one whole week before the open mic night he's barging into Namjoon's apartment and raiding his wardrobe for an appropriate outfit. Namjoon whines and complains the whole time, but secretly it makes his heart flutter to see Jungkook so determined to see him doing what he loves.

The night of the open mic event is warm and balmy, and Namjoon's already sweating in his shirt by the time he and Jungkook arrive at the bar. It's partly the temperature, and mostly the nerves. Yoongi, Taehyung and Jimin are already there, seated at a big round table with several bottles already covering it. There's someone up on stage already, a slim guy with red hair even brighter than his clothes. He's rapping over a happy-sounding, uptempo beat, and Namjoon finds himself grinning almost without realizing it.

“He's good, isn't he?” Yoongi shouts when Namjoon and Jungkook sit down at the table. They both nod enthusiastically. “His name's Hoseok. Jimin convinced him to come! He said they dance together.”

The song ends, and the bar fills with applause as Hoseok bows to the crowd before stepping off the stage. Namjoon watches curiously as he walks over to the bar, flipping sweaty hair out of his face, and Seokjin greets him with a smile far sweeter than any he's shown Namjoon before. Seokjin hands him his drink, and Hoseok leans forward to thank him. Namjoon raises an eyebrow as the red-haired man leans in far closer than is appropriate and whispers something in Seokjin's ear that makes him far more flustered than Namjoon has ever seen him before. He's surprised. Seokjin's not one to flirt with the customers, but Hoseok is definitely good-looking, and definitely Seokjin's type, so Namjoon just averts his eyes and hides his smirk behind his glass as Seokjin whispers something back, all confident swagger despite the blush on his cheeks visible even in the dim lighting of the bar.

Soon enough it's Namjoon's turn to go up on stage, and suddenly the air inside the bar feels far too thick. His friends all shoot him encouraging smiles as he walks towards the stage, and at the last moment he feels a hand wrap around his wrist. He turns around to find Jungkook grinning shyly up at him, puckering his lips for a kiss that Namjoon greedily accepts.

“Good luck,” he whispers when he pulls away. “Not that you need it. You're gonna do amazing, hyung.”

Namjoon's not usually the confident type, but when Jungkook says those words with so much assurance he can't help but believe him.

It's different up on the stage, with the strobe lights in his face and what looks like a small ocean of faces looking up at him, but he thinks he'll be able to handle it. The music starts up, the deep bass of the beat making the speakers tremble, and Namjoon takes a deep breath, and opens his mouth.

After that it's mostly just a blur. The crowd seem to enjoy his performance, if the loud applause at the end of every song is anything to go by, and Namjoon finds himself feeling more energized than ever, adrenaline and endorphins filling his veins as he stands up on stage and simply does what he loves.

By the time he's finished his vision is blurry with sweat, the strobe lights aimed at his face making him squint, but he can still pick out Jungkook's face in the crowd, and the wide smile stretching it makes his heart soar. His boyfriend greets him with a warm hug the minute he steps off the stage, and Namjoon laughs into his neck, swinging him around.

“You did so good!” Jungkook shouts over the din of the bar, eyes shining with pride, and Namjoon grabs his face with both hands and kisses him. Jungkook smiles wide into the kiss, and Namjoon's heartbeat flutters under the tattoos on his chest. The end of the beginning, indeed.

Namjoon's ears are filled with nothing but Jungkook's quiet breathing and the sound of his own heart beating steadily in his chest. The sun shines through the thin curtains draped over the window in Jungkook's bedroom, and spreads its bright rays like paint splatters over the old sheet Jungkook's thrown over his mattress to protect it. Namjoon's lying on it, face tilted towards the ceiling, breathing deeply as Jungkook trails a paintbrush over the lines of Namjoon's tattoos.

He's chosen pastel colors for the occasion, light blues and greens and pinks and yellows, and they contrast oddly with the cutting black of the tattoos and the deep tan of Namjoon's skin, but Namjoon finds he likes it anyway. Jungkook seems to have an eye for odd combinations that end up working beautifully, and Namjoon, although he tries not to show it, is excited to see the end result.

Jungkook's tongue pokes out through his teeth as he works, brows scrunched adorably in concentration, and Namjoon has to resist the urge to boop his cute little nose and coo at him. Sometimes everything he feels for his boyfriend gets overwhelming, in silent moments like this, when it's nothing but him and Jungkook and the smell of paint in the still air of the room. The younger trails pastels over Namjoon's biceps, never covering the black, always interlacing with it like the lines are dancing some sort of obscure ballet with each other, winding together and coming apart only to fall back together again, the pattern almost magnetic in its inevitability.

It reminds him, in a lot of ways, of him and Jungkook. Jungkook's paintbrush comes off Namjoon's skin where the lines of his tattoo end, and Namjoon looks up at him, breath catching in his chest. Sure enough, Jungkook's looking at him too, eyes intense and lit up with a strange spark. It's you and me, they say, youandme rather, silent but still clear as day.

Namjoon closes his eyes, and wishes for the paint to dry under his skin like tattoo ink.