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Fate works in funny ways.

It's not a concept Yoongi has given much consideration to, fate. That's more up Tae's alley, even Joon's on occasion. Fate, kismet, destiny written out in the stars, that's far more their style. The circumstances that lead up to meeting your "soulmate"; having that one perfect day, or stumbling upon the kind of meet-cute-moment that only ever happens in the movies, Yoongi isn't really inclined to believe in any of it.

If fate does exist, it isn't stepping in to help him now—already running twenty five minutes behind schedule, half asleep, waiting in line at the coffee shop smack dab in the midst of the morning rush.

Really, it's Yoongi's own fault. Any and all attempts made to unfuck the day were cancelled out the second he overslept his alarm. And then realized that he'd forgotten to do laundry last night. And then missed his train to get to campus on time for a studio session with Namjoon.

He's killing the time between now and the next train by picking up apology provisions—one iced americano for him, a green tea and two packets of sweetener for Namjoon. If fate had any pull for Min Yoongi, it would have happened by now. Fate would have thrown him that life jacket, made his coffee speedy-quick and ready to go.

Fate, as it turns out, has other plans in mind.

"One large iced americano and one green tea," the barista drones, setting two drinks on the counter.

Yoongi shuffles forward, wraps his cold hands around the Americano to take that initial first sip, closes his eyes. Heaven. Bliss. Day officially un-fucked, and he'll make the next train. Satisfied, he blindly gropes for the tea when—

"My bad," mumbles Yoongi, as his knuckles collide sharply with someone else's hand in the crowded coffee shop.

"All good," the stranger says, and then picks up Yoongi's tea.

"Uh." Yoongi gives the guy a look, the initial pleasure at having his americano in hand fading. "Sorry, but I think you grabbed my drink."

"One extra large green tea?" The guy tilts his head to the side, like he can't quite make out what Yoongi's saying. He's still smiling all polite. "Nope. Definitely mine, sorry."

Only he doesn't sound "sorry" at all.

Normally Yoongi would let it slide. But he's already running late. And he knows Joon is waiting, can feel his phone is going off in his pocket with texts. So maybe it's all of that, plus the fact that he got up on the wrong side of the bed (quite literally the wrong side. Yoongi's boxspring is next to the window, and although he starts each night facing the warm inside of the room, practically on the edge of the mattress, he ends up pressed to the window by morning like he wants to cuddle it, the September chill creeping in through the thick blackout curtains and settling inside his bones).

He really should let it slide.

But there's something about all of this that is rubbing Yoongi the wrong way. From the guy's cheery tone to the way he's looking at Yoongi, like Yoongi's the dick in this situation.

He starts after the guy before he can turn and walk away and says, firmly, "Actually, no. That's my drink. I ordered one americano and one green tea. Sorry."

The guy's wearing a baseball cap, and his face has been tucked away for most of this exchange, but now he looks over at Yoongi, like he'd forgotten Yoongi was there. A very distinct surge of irritation prickles at the back of his neck; he doesn't like being ignored. It only worsens when the guy smiles again, somehow both polite and condescending.

"I was in line before you, so."

"They called out one americano and one green tea. That was my order."

The guy rolls his eyes. "Look, I'm in a hurry, can't you just let me have this? I've got a rehearsal I need to get to."

Why is Yoongi arguing so much? It's tea, why the fuck does this matter? He thinks he remembers Hoseok saying something the other day about Mercury being in retrograde and it affecting his aura, whatever that means, but the fact of the matter is that Yoongi just isn't in the mood to deal with bullshit this morning. Something about this guy—where Yoongi would usually let it be—is provoking the instinct to dig his heels into the ground and not budge an inch.

"And I've got booked studio time that I'm already late to. You're not special."

"Look, I paid for the drink first. So, I'm just going to take it."

"Seriously? Wow."

"Um—sir?"

"What?" Yoongi snaps, rounding on the tiny barista.

"Here's your green tea," she's looking at Yoongi, holding out a cup. "Um. I'm so sorry. It's been hectic."

Yoongi promptly feels like a huge dick. Which like, he is definitely being a huge dick right now. But there's being a dick, and then there's being a dick to service industry workers. He fists the change in his pocket and drops it into the tip-jar, trying for a kind smile. "It's okay, no big deal. Thank you."

"Honest mistake, not your fault," the stranger adds, also emptying his pocket into the tip-jar, with a markedly bigger amount of bills than Yoongi had. Yoongi narrows his eyes, but the guy has his gaze fixed on the barista, smiling brightly as he takes the drink, leaving Yoongi's on the counter beside him. "Have a wonderful day, thank you so much."

"Um." The barista looks utterly baffled at the huge tips. "You're welcome?"

Yoongi snatches up his tea and heads for the exit, silently fuming. The guy is close behind, and between them is an awkward and tense silence. The goal is to get to the train, and away from this jerkwad, as fast as possible.

But said jerkwad follows Yoongi. Or, Yoongi follows him. The guys got one hell of a power-walk for how short he is.

(He's definitely shorter than Yoongi. Probably.)

He seems to sense Yoongi, turns heel and says, "Can I help you?"

"I'm here for the train. That okay with you?"

"Oh." The guy blinks. "Well, same."

Great. Fantastic. The next three minutes and twenty seven seconds are spent sipping his americano and dutifully ignoring the other person on the platform with him. If mercury is in retrograde, then Yoongi's got no business picking fights with randos standing so close to the train-tracks.

No matter how wrong they are. Because goddammit that was Yoongi's green tea.

The train comes, doors opening to the typical morning commute crowd, packed like a can of sardines, few people getting off to make room.

In their car, there's one seat available.

Yoongi doesn't get to it first, he's willing to concede that. But the guy, who pretty much power-walked over there as well, promptly turns, catching Yoongi's gaze with a smirk.

"Here," he says. "All yours."

It's technically an offer, and a kind one at that. It also feels like a horrible trap.

Yoongi narrows his eyes again. At this point he's just holding a permanent scowl-n-squint. The guy is all smiles, and maybe to your average commuter it looks perfectly polite, but there's bite to it. Edge. Mockery.

Yoongi bristles despite himself. Even though he's tired and could use the opportunity to sip at his coffee and brace himself for the day, taking the seat feels like defeat. And Min Yoongi is many things, but he is not a quitter.

"You take it, I insist." He smiles back.

"Really, it's the least I can do."

Yoongi squints harder. Neither of them budge. The train lurches forward, and they stare each other down until the next stop, when an older man steps forward and shuffles over to the seat to take it.

Then, the guy gives Yoongi one last smirk, like he's won or something. Turns back around, and doesn't acknowledge Yoongi's presence again.

If fate does exist, it's some real bullshit, if you ask Yoongi.

***

"Sorry I'm late," Yoongi groans, throwing his whole body plus bag into the desk chair the way he might discard a smelly sock, only it's his body, and the chair is kind of stiff so yeah—it kind of hurts. His skins feels all kinds of prickly all over, tense and oversensitive. It had been a good morning that had so quickly gone wrong.

"Oversleep the alarm again, hyung?" Namjoon's smirk is an audible thing.

"Only because my bitchass roommate didn't wake me up."

Namjoon winces, scratches at the back of his neck. "Got caught up with Jeongukkie at the studio last night. Ended up crashing in the dorms, 's'closer." He clears his throat loudly. "You get your beauty rest in the extra forty-five minutes it took you to get here? Or."

"Eat shit. No. I got distracted. Ran into the hugest asshole today at the coffeeshop two blocks away from home. He tried to take my order."

"What do you mean tried?"

"I mean, we argued for so long that the barista managed to make a second one and give it to the guy by the time we were done. I think she was scared it was going to come to blows."

"What the hell? You can't even fight."

"Fuck you, I fight."

"Sure," Namjoon nods. "You're a regular scrapper. Heavyweight champ, Min Yoongi from the streets of Daegu, right here."

"As I was saying," Yoongi intones, ignoring the teasing. "It sucked, and then I had to ride in the same train as him, which was honestly the icing on the cake. So, that's why I'm late. And it's only Monday."

"Well, you know what they say," Namjoon sighs, adjusting a few dials on the sound board. "You ran into one asshole once, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."

"Are you voluntarily naming yourself the second asshole in this scenario?" Yoongi stares at him. "That's surprisingly disrespectful considering all I went through to get you your green tea."

"You're a beautiful humanitarian," Namjoon deadpans, making grabby hands for the cup. "Mother Teresa's got nothing on you."

"That's more like it." Yoongi passes the tea over, opening his laptop and hooking it up to the studio equipment. Namjoon starts to set up his chosen mic for the day.

In the silence, Yoongi allows his hackles to lower, sipping moodily at his own drink. It was well over an hour ago—but Yoongi had spent the entire train ride to campus glaring at the back of the guy's head, that stupid looking baseball cap, the flattened black hair peeking out from beneath.

Their train had stopped, and Yoongi had noticed with a further surge of irritation that the guy was also getting off and heading to campus. Which shouldn't be something to get upset over, lots of people go to their university. It's not an exclusive place. Yoongi does not own the monopoly at the University & Park metro stop. Still, it was nonetheless annoying, watching the guy walk away, knowing he was out there existing in a world concentric with Yoongi's.

"It's a shame the guy was such a jerk though." The words slip from his mouth and, at Joon's raised eyebrow he shrugs and adds, "He was kind of cute."

"Aren't they always."

"Mm."

They sigh, done with the subject, and get to work.

In the end, it doesn't matter. Cute or not, asshole or not, campus is a big place. Seoul an even bigger place. Yoongi isn't going to be seeing him again.

 

***

yoongi
u were right abt mercury being in retrograde btw

little seok
??????
porque

yoongi
nothin

little seok
lol ok
u still coming over to tae's place tonight for the housewarming party?

yoongi
i'm busy
who throws housewarming parties in college anyhow

little seok
he's excited abt the place! and his new roommate
jimin's in the dance program w/ me
he's really really cool and nice!! and apparently cleans!
and considering tae's history with roommates…

yoongi
yeah fair point

little seok
remember the last guy who would buy like 20 bags of produce and leave it in the fridge to rot for weeks?
or the guy who smelled faintly of old cheese no matter how much air freshener tae used?
and let us not forget the Roomate Who Must Not Be Named but actually we will name him his name was jaesung and he was the W O R S T

yoongi
which one was jaesung again?

little seok
the one with the online shopping problem
poor taehyung would have to pick up like 15 packages a week
the apartment was full of empty cardboard boxes
one time jinnie and i went over and we deadass couldn't even FIND taehyung

yoongi
oh yah shit that guy was nuts
i see ur point

little seok
so tldr; i won't peer pressure you!!!! but taehyung is very excited abt introducing jimin to the gang
plus we gotta get our DRANK ON
im H Y P E D

yoongi
ur always hyped
alright, i'll be there

little seok
\o/

***

In retrospect, Yoongi should have seen it coming.

The signs weren't exactly everywhere but he should have seen them. Maybe there were clues, breadcrumbs that he somehow missed. Maybe he wasn't paying close enough attention, the hints dropped.

Or maybe he just has fantastic karma.

He ends up running late to Taehyung's shindig. A meeting with his professor got pushed back and then the actual meeting extended well over an hour when they ended up going in depth about Yoongi's senior thesis projection and before he knew it it was late, he was late.

Taehyung had said the dress code was "slutty casual", but Taehyung also referred to his own party as a "shindig" until it caught on, so Yoongi takes those guidelines with a grain of salt. The ratty jeans and t-shirt he's got on will have to do.

He knocks on the door and is greeted by a mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces. His cousin just so happens to be close personal friends with pretty much everyone who attends or who has ever set foot on campus, so it makes sense that there'd be lots of them there, crowded together in the living room.

"Hey!" Taehyung tackles him from the side, a regular barnacle as he smacks an affectionate kiss on Yoongi's cheek. He looks loose and comfortable and every ounce of never-awkward that Yoongi never is. Hard to believe they're related. "You made it! And you're late!"

"Cough up, bitch," Jeongguk shouts across the room Taehyung, making a money gesture with his fingers. "You bet he'd be on time!"

Yoongi rolls his eyes. "I'm fashionably late. Not offensively late."

"You? Fashionable? Cute." Taehyung pats Yoongi's cheek affectionately. "Well, come on in. Help yourself to any of the food and drink."

Yoongi glances disdainfully at the table covered in shitty liquor. It looks like Hoseok decided to break out the sugary sweet cocktail mix again, which Yoongi would rather substitute with battery acid.

"Don't worry," Taehyung takes the words right out of his mouth. "I got your favorite stuff stashed away for special occasions where no one can get to it. Just so we don't have a repeat of the Summer of 2017 Tequila Meltdown."

Yoongi wrinkles his nose. "That was Seokjin's fault and you know it."

"Remember your dignity? Yeah, RIP to that Min Yoongi. Died a valiant death. Braver than the marines."

"Tae."

"Yeah, yeah, it's under the kitchen sink, you crabby baby," Taehyung smacks another affectionate kiss to Yoongi's cheek, just because. "Should be untouched, family only. Have at it. But come back quick! I want to introduce you to Jiminie Cricket, the one true love of my life, oh my god, you're going to adore him. He's around here somewhere, probably talking to Hobi or Joon."

"Cool."

Yoongi makes his way through the crowded apartment. He can usually handle the average college party crowd, but he's tired and had a overall exhausting day. The kitchen provides a semi-quiet reprieve, a bubble of less than loud in the midst of the commotion. He lets the kitchen door swing closed behind him, the sound of some EDM top 40 song—Jeongguk's doing, most likely—reverberating through the walls.

Sure enough, in the cupboard beneath the sink, Tae wasn't lying, voila, thank you Jesus. The bottle of Patron sits there in all its clear glory and Yoongi thinks to himself that this night might not turn out to be so bad after-all.

He's bent over and groping beneath the kitchen sink pipes when he hears, "Oh! Taehyung told you where the good stuff is too, nice. We can sha—"

The voice cuts off as Yoongi stands, turns, stares.

It's like the entire room narrows down to crosshairs. Like there's a red fucking target painted on the guy in the doorway, the pale kitchen light glinting off his stupid dark hair—

Which is ridiculous. This isn't Kill Bill. It's just the asshole from the coffeeshop.

and the train, Yoongi's brain whispers pettily, don't forget him being an asshole on the train too

"Oh." The guy blinks, surprised. His eyes flick down to the Patron, which Yoongi is clutching to his chest like a newborn baby. Then he smiles a little, like he finds Yoongi incredibly amusing. Like Yoongi's done something cute. "We meet again."

"This is for me," Yoongi blurts. "No sharing."

"You need a whole bottle? Quite the tolerance level you've got there."

"Taehyung told me family only," Yoongi looks the guy over. "Pretty sure we're not related."

"Pretty sure I gave Taetae the cash to pay for that on the condition that I could have some, but sure."

"Fine." Yoongi snaps, reaching up to the cupboard above the stove.

He pulls down two mugs. One for him: a picture of his family dog Holly printed on the side, the only thing he drinks out of when he's at his cousin's place. One for the asshole: a bright yellow Minions mug with eerily wide eyes that Taehyung purchased from a yard sale on the basis that he thought the mug contained a dark spirit trapped inside the ceramic. Yoongi pours a shot in each mug, holds the minion one out.

The guy glances at the bottle again, then sighs. Like Yoongi's a waiter at a restaurant and brought him the wrong hors d'oeuvre.

"Oh, I see. It's Patron. You can keep it. I thought you were drinking the good tequila."

Yoongi bristles. "This is the good tequila."

"I mean, if you've never had good tequila, sure," the guy sighs again, walks over to the fridge, like he owns the place. Who the hell does he think he is? "Guess I can chase it down with something."

He pulls out a fucking can of La Croix from the fridge and Yoongi distinctly feels a blood vessel burst in his brain at the mere sight of it. Surely this asshole can't be friends with Taehyung. Did this guy…bring his own La Croix? Who brings mineral water—fucking mineral water—to a party? Yoongi's never ever witnessed something so revolting.

"Who are you?" he asks after a long pause, as the guy calmly pours La Croix into the minions mug with Patron. Yoongi feels like he's witnessing some extreme cult ritual. "What are you doing here?"

"Shouldn't I ask you the same thing? You must know Taetae, if you know where he keeps the 'good tequila'." The guy actually does the air-quotes gesture.

Taetae. Something begins to prickle in Yoongi's stomach, like that feeling of pre-nausea. Pre-food poisoning. Like the day before you get sick and feverish and vomit everywhere, when you don't know what exactly is wrong but something is very wrong.

"Besides," the guy says, right as the kitchen door swings open. "I live here."

"No you don't. Taehyung and his roommate live here."

The guy stares at Yoongi for a solid beat, then points at himself with a deadpan expression. "Roommate."

Then he fucking drinks the raspberry La Croix and Patron mixed drink from the minions mug without even blinking. Just downs it in one gulp.

"Oh great! You two have already met!" Taehyung beams, and bounces over to give the guy an enthusiastic one-armed hug. "Yoongi-hyung my dearest cousin, meet Jimin my roommate and BFF. Wow, this is the best day. What a good day. I can't believe it took us so long to get you two together, but I can already see you guys are gonna get along great."

"Wait, this is your cousin?" The BFF—Jimin—says, as if Yoongi is a disgusting stain in the middle of the floor.

"This is your roommate?" Yoongi sputters, like he's already drank half the bottle of Patron and it's gone all bad sour in his stomach.

This is the person Hoseok told him was really nice and cool. This is the person that Taehyung has orchestrated this whole event around to get everyone to meet.

The asshole who stole Yoongi's tea.

"Wait, you two know each other?!" Taehyung looks beside himself with joy.

"You could say that," Jimin says tightly, smiling at Taehyung, all the while still looking at Yoongi like he'd like nothing more than to murder him.

Everything rises up in Yoongi at that look, a stubborn riptide wave. He's not a particularly combative person but suddenly his adrenaline is in high gear and he's analyzing Jimin's height and frame and trying to decide if he could take him. Weighing the risks.

"Pour me another shot, Yoongi-hyung," Jimin says, holding out his minions mug with a glare and a sweet smile. "Or, you could give me your drink. You seem to be having some trouble handling your liquor."

Yoongi slams back his shot and quickly pours another, eyes watering. Taehyung's still smiling at them, but it's more a wide-eyed and confused what the fuck is going on here on this day kind of smile.

"To you, Yoongi-hyung," Jimin toasts, right before he downs another cup of La Croix and tequila. "Always nice to make a new friend."

It's going to be a long night.

***

His name is Park Jimin, and he is the enemy.

"Why are you telling me this?" Namjoon is looking at Yoongi like he's lost his damn mind, and maybe he has. "Why are you monologuing about this kid like he killed your family?"

"He is the enemy." Yoongi repeats, because it's the only thing he has going for him at this point. Because Park Jimin, despite first impressions and every ounce of stubborn spite Yoongi has in him, seems to be a pretty decent guy.

Not that Yoongi looked into it or anything.

(It's bullshit. Fucking bullshit. Yoongi scoured the internet for dirt after the party, but found nothing. Park Jimin seems like a regular sophomore at Seoul University. He does not seem like an evil mastermind or potential assassin whose sole purpose is to ruin lives. His Instagram consists of tasteful selfies and pictures of latte art and a few reposts from Jeongguk's photography account in which he's dancing. His Facebook is more or less the same with no incriminating finds—all Yoongi can gather is that Jimin is a) a dance major b) knows every fucking student and their mother on campus judging by his grossly unnecessary facebook friend count and c) is massively popular and well liked by everyone who has ever met him.)

Also—

("He's gay," Taehyung adds, peeking over Yoongi's shoulder and spotting his phone screen. "In case you were wondering."

Yoongi slams down his phone so hard on the table the plastic casing cracks.

"Why the fuck would I be wondering that."

"Well, I noticed you were zooming in there on a rainbow pin in a picture of Jimin's backpack that he took like, fifteen months ago. So. I dunno, hyung. Unless you were just wondering where he got it on Etsy…"

"Vamoose, Tae.")

Yoongi flicks his wrist and begins folding the t-shirt he's got crumpled in his hands. 2 a.m. laundry is a pain but he feels wired and talkative in the way that occurs when him and both Namjoon are both sleep addled and dicking around because they've got assignments due come morning.

Only it's a Saturday night, and they just got back from Taehyung's (and Jimin's) place a few hours ago. A game of Uno had begun in a competitive shouting match over the rule legitimacy of Draw 4+ Wildcards and ended with Yoongi being bodily dragged out of the apartment, Jimin laughing loud at him while the neighbors threatened to call the cops with a noise complaint.

It's been a week since they met in the coffeeshop.

Yoongi pulls out a pair of jeans that are far too long, and chucks them at Namjoon, standing across from him on the other side of the dryers.

"Have you actually talked to the guy? Outside trying to bite his head off every time you see him?" Namjoon asks, calmly holding up a middle finger as he peels the jeans off of his face.

"And why the hell would I do that." Yoongi focuses very hard on sorting through his mismatched socks.

"I dunno, hyung. Maybe because he's actually a pretty cool guy?"

Yoongi's head snaps up. "Okay, what the fuck, am I the only person on this goddamn campus that doesn't know Park Jimin?"

"Probably. He volunteers for that clothing drive I hold at the LGBT youth center every semester? He's really nice, and super hard working. You really could not have picked a worse person to declare your arch nemesis."

Well then.

"You think you're so smart," Yoongi sneers, balling up one purple sock and one black because it's pointless to pretend he's ever going to find matching pairs at this point. "He's got all of you wrapped around his tiny finger."

There comes a long and labored sigh and Yoongi looks up at Namjoon. It's not a sigh that could possibly mean anything good.

"You're exhausting, do you know that?"

"If you've got something to say, spit it out."

"I'm not saying anything. It's too late to deal with your dramatics. Also, those pink socks are mine bitch, don't even think about it."

Yoongi beans the socks at him. "Look, I really am sorry about the neighbors. But I was not cheating."

"Can you just play nice?" Namjoon pleads. "For the sake of the group? For the sake of my sanity?"

"Fine, whatever. But I'm not just gonna lie down and take shit if he dishes it out. I'm not just gonna let him win."

"Win what?"

"The war," Yoongi says sagely, pegging another pink sock in Namjoon's direction that hits him with a solid thwap to the face.

***

Yoongi tries to play nice.

Except for the times when something about Park Jimin makes it so easy to not be nice.

***

They fight about anything. Everything. Favorite music. Movies. Their fashion choices depending on the day of the week. There doesn't seem to be a single thing they can agree on.

One particular quiet Tuesday they seem to actually be edging towards near cordial, doing homework at the dining room table in polite silence. Until Jimin points out that there's a new frozen yogurt place that just opened down the street and asks if Yoongi wants to go try it out. Until Yoongi points out that frozen yogurt isn't even good so why is Jimin trying to make him suffer. Until Jimin announces that Yoongi has no taste whatsoever don't know why I even bothered asking.

And they're off again.

Jimin does this thing when he's mad—mad at Yoongi specifically. He curls his tiny hands into fists at his sides like one more word from Yoongi and he'll start swinging.

("He's not actually a violent person," Taehyung assures Yoongi, one day, after Jimin threatened to shave his skin off and roll him in sand twenty minutes prior. "Although…"

"…What is it?"

"Well. This one time, we were playing drunk Pictionary. And Jimin was trying to draw the word 'leader' but he just sort of drew himself holding a whip in his hand while the rest of the picture was us bowing down to him, declaring ourselves his slaves."

"What the fuck."

"Yeah, so not outright violent? But like. Wouldn't put it past him to have been the one in the group who's killed a man and gotten away with it. He's cute enough to get away with it, for sure.")

When Jimin's mad at Yoongi his eyes get all scrunched up, when Jimin's mad the tips of his ears turn pink, his voice turns snappy, a bit of a growl to it, which isn't really intimidating because a) Jimin is around Yoongi's height and b) Jimin has a more tenor voice than the rest of them. When he screams—usually after losing a game—it sounds a little bit like what Yoongi imagines an angry muppet might sound like.

When Jimin's mad at Yoongi—he's paying attention to Yoongi. And there's a really weird and kind of fucked up adrenaline rush that comes with that. Something about their fighting sets off a biological urge in Yoongi that screams "toxic masculinity" but really expresses itself as "being fucking annoying", at least according to Namjoon.

It's not so much that sirens start going off in Yoongi's head every time he catches a glance of Jimin, because that'd just be ridiculous. It's more like Yoongi sees Jimin, or rather, they see each other, and everything narrows down to a small opening of vision, like peering through a telescope to see a far off planet and then trying to shoot the planet right out of the fucking sky.

They hate each other, and it doesn't go much deeper than that.

"It really doesn't," he explains to Hoseok. The floorboards of the dance studio are creaking as Hoseok does a back hand spring, the last of a set he promised to finish up before he and Yoongi leave for dinner. "He's just annoying. You know my hoodie? My favorite Anti-Social Social Club hoodie? Well yesterday, Jimin—"

"Ohhhhhhhhh my God," Hoseok suddenly groans, flinging his body onto the mat where Yoongi is sitting. "You've been talking about Jimin for like, an hour. Please stop. I'm begging you. I'll do anything. Just shut up."

"How is this my fault? He's the one always picking fights."

Hoseok stares at him, and it reminds Yoongi uncharacteristically of Namjoon. Like they've been holding secret meetings to master the exact same expression to send his way. That same flat stare-into-the-abyss sort of look.

"When was the last time you got laid?" Hoseok asks suddenly.

"I—what?"

"You're acting like you need to get laid."

"What does that even mean?"

"Cagey. Feisty. Which is usually a coverup for the fact that you're having a massive gay panic attack and are a few seconds from fleeing the country."

"Are you suggesting I want to—"

"Not suggesting anything, hyung. Just trying to understand your behavior as a whole. And why you would talk about Jimin for the better part of an hour if you're not trying to suck his dick."

"Did you not hear what I'm saying? He's mean, and I don't trust him."

"He's actually kind of a wonderful person and literally everyone adores him but—go off I guess."

"You just don't see him the way I do."

Hoseok snorts, walks over to grab his duffle bag. "Clearly."

***

This time, it's not even Yoongi's fault.

In the center of the living room coffee table there is an ominously large jar placed. The kind they've got displayed in local delis with the gigantic discount pickles inside. Everyone's aware of it—it's movie night and the typical popcorn and candies pile is mysteriously absent, but no one actually acknowledges it until Hoseok does, taking the opportunity to do so the second everyone is gathered together.

"Assholes and gentlemen alike. Welcome! This," Hoseok says brightly, looking around at them all, "Is the Yoonmin jar."

"The what now."

"The Yoonmin jar. Yoongi-hyung plus Jimin equals Yoonmin, see? Think of it as a community tip jar to help check problematic behavior with regards to the current feud happening among our ranks."

Yoongi pinches at the bridge of his nose. "Hobi, what the everliving fuck—"

"Any time either of you fucks either start fighting or talk shit about each other when the other person is not around, you have to put a 500 won coin in the jar. Proceeds will go towards: group hangouts and general booze expenses, and maybe, on occasion, that good kush."

"Question." Jin raises his hand politely, as if Hoseok is not seated directly in his lap and this is a lecture hall or something.

"Yes!" Hobi calls out with game-host gusto. "Kim Seokjin!"

"Does the Yoonmin jar only extend to the "yoon" and the "min" components of the namesake?"

"Excellent question. No, it does not. Anyone complaining about Yoonmin or the Yoonmin feud whatsoever will also need to donate to the jar. This rule is instated to help increase group unity and decrease hostility."

"This is insane," Yoongi grouses. "We don't even argue that much."

"Yeah," says Jimin, sounding off from behind Yoongi. "I walked in the room and Yoongi didn't even make a snide comment by way of greeting. He's showing a marked sign of self control. That's progress."

"To be fair," Yoongi lobbies back. "I thought you'd be at practice until late and got my hopes up."

"You know what—"

"JAR!" Hoseok booms, smile wide and tight. "An excellent first demonstration, thank you for volunteering!"

"I don't have won coins. Who carries change on them in 2018?"

"That sounds like a you problem, my dude," Hoseok trills, as everyone else in the group joins in the jeering chorus of: "JAR! JAR! JAR!"

"Another question. Does the jar take PayPal?" Taehyung asks, looking deadly serious, and Namjoon snickers.

"Funny you should ask. The jar does not take PayPal, but for every jar patronage not provided, involved parties may exchange the 500 won for one spanking from yours truly. If you don't have change hyung, I'd be more than happy to spank you."

"Question," Yoongi snaps. "Can't you get your weird kinks fulfilled with your boyfriend? Why punish us?"

"It's not a punishment if my boyfriend likes it," Hoseok answers coolly, holding his hand up without blinking as Seokjin nails him with a perfectly executed high five.

Silently, Yoongi begins calculating the cost of moving to a far off country. Surely there's a warm breezy island calling his name somewhere. Guam sounds nice this time of year. A nice getaway. Palm trees and fresh coconut milk. No friends. No motherfucking jar. And certainly no—

"Fine," Jimin sashays over to the table, flicks a coin into the jar.

Hoseok blinks. "You didn't even say anything. That jar penalty was for Yoongi-hyung."

"Oh," Jimin blinks, then turns to Yoongi, like he wasn't even aware Yoongi was in the room. He drags his eyes over Yoongi, pursing his lips. "Sorry hyung, didn't see you there. Are you here to project your terrible taste in movies on all of us? Recommend we watch Tazza for the twentieth time?"

"Okay now that was just targeted: jar!" Hoseok reprimands, looking exasperated as Jimin practically skips back over to the couch. For a second he looks like he's going to nestle up to Taehyung's side to puppy pile with Jeongguk but changes his mind at the last minute, scoots himself into the space next to Yoongi instead.

"Are you trying to make me even more broke than usual?" Yoongi mutters out the corner of his mouth as Namjoon stands up and begins to run the town hall on which movie they're gonna watch.

"Me?" Jimin bats his eyelashes, impish.

It's not like Yoongi to notice these things but—Jimin must have been at a dress rehearsal earlier. There's a residual streak of kohl around his eyes, a smudge of glittery highlighter on his cheekbone, like he tried washing his face but couldn't quite get the glamour off. Yoongi's never really seen him with makeup on outside of Instagram. That coupled with what he's wearing—a loose black and white striped shirt and overalls that resemble child's play-clothes—make for a strange contrast. The striking edge of his face is off putting. The way the overalls are cuffed several times at the ankle to keep from sweeping the floor, even more-so.

Or maybe it's just Jimin as a whole that's off putting.

"Yeah," says Yoongi. "You."

He's looking at Yoongi like he wants to laugh, mouth twisted to the side in a near pucker. The way he's always looking at Yoongi. Like Yoongi's doing something particularly funny. Like Yoongi himself is the punch line to the world's funniest goddamn joke.

"What are you smirking at?"

"Mm?" Jimin's lips twitch upwards, and Yoongi can see now—only now—that they're tinted too. Just a bit of residual stain, a dark red now rubbed down to lush pink. "Oh, nothing."

"All those in favor of High School Musical 2 raise your hands?" Namjoon calls out.

"Last chance to spit it out," Yoongi warns, a scant whisper as everyone's hands but his and Jimin's shoot up. "Or I'll tell Namjoon that you're the one who took them."

"Took what?" Jimin hisses.

"Great. HSM 2 it is then, a wise choice," Namjoon says, looking satisfied, and heads for the DVD cabinet.

Jimin's eyes narrow at Yoongi, but the smile persists. Infuriating. Knowing. "I just like to look at your face, hyung, that's all."

That—throws Yoongi the fuck off. He'd been expecting an insult, a swear, Jimin's fists curling up as if to physically fight. What the hell? Who gives up that easily, and with such a cheap and used line? What kind of sneak attack maneuver is this? Is Jimin preparing to secretly stab him with some sort of stealth knife hidden in his overalls? What the shit is going on?

"You—"

"Godfuckingdammit WHO HID HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 1, 2 AND 3," bellows Namjoon.

***

And so the Yoonmin Jar and all its tyranny is instated. For the sake of his wallet and bank account, Yoongi just tries to avoid Jimin entirely.

Only—

"So you and Joon are pretty close, huh?" Yoongi asks waspishly as Jimin runs over to them and gives Namjoon a big hug around his torso, lifting him straight off he ground with a surprising amount of strength.

"Yeah," Jimin's whole face scrunches up with the the smile he directs at Namjoon. "We met at the LGBT youth clothing drive last year. He's the best."

"That's cute. You met him last year? I've known him for five years," Yoongi says coolly.

Jimin's head tips to the side, like he didn't hear Yoongi quite right. "Oh really? You're friends? How come I've never seen you helping hyung out at the youth center?"

"I mean I clear out my closet every six months for the drive and make annual monetary donations but sure, guess we're not friends."

"Guys," Namjoon chuckles nervously. "I feel like this really doesn't need to be a competition."

"Sweet," Jimin smiles tightly. "Jeongguk tells me you know him as well? We grew up together in Busan. We're best friends."

"Well, your roommate is my cousin." Yoongi crosses his arms over his chest. "Beat that."

"Funny." Jimin's smile could cut, it's so sharp. "Neither of them even mentioned you to me."

"Jimin, please see yourself to the nearest Yoonmin jar," Hoseok hums, practically evaporating out of thin air.

***

"Are you…drinking La Croix? Again?"

"Uh, yeah," Jimin glances down at the drink in his hand. "Peach flavored, actually."

"But why."

"It's good?"

"La Croix is not good. You are so full of shit."

"Suit yourself, then." Jimin shrugs.

Yoongi elbows Namjoon. "You hear that? Park Jimin drinks La Croix."

"I drink La Croix too, what of it?"

Yoongi wrinkles his nose. "It's pretentious."

"You refuse to shop at any candle store that isn't Yankee Candle, undoubtedly the most over-priced rip off store on the planet, and you're calling me pretentious? Jar, dude. No. Don't even argue. Put your money in the jar."

***

"No, fuck off, listen, I read a Buzzfeed article—"

"Are you citing your argument with a Buzzfeed article, Park Jimin?"

"AS I WAS SAYING, in the article they literally have this couple re-enact the scene. Jack could have crawled onto that piece of boat with her. They could have laid on top of each other and not drowned and waited for the rescue boats. It was totally possible."

"Are you kidding me with this shit? Young Leo DeCaprio isn't some scrawny twink. Boy's got meat. Had he crawled on top of Rose their dumb asses would have both drowned. Besides. The sacrifice he makes is what makes the entire movie so romantic. That's why it's a classic."

"DEATH BY FREEZING COLD WATER IS NOT ROMANTIC MIN YOONGI. SHE WAS KISSING A DEAD BODY. WHAT THE FUCK."

"Um, I'm gonna call jar on both of y'all for being hostile. Besides, if we're going to debate a James Cameron movie, can't we debate Avatar?"

"Shut the fuck up, Jeongguk."

***

"Obviously it would be potatoes. Potatoes literally survived the famine. They're the smartest motherfuckers out there."

"What the everliving godfuck are you two arguing about?"

"…"

"…"

"Who would win the war if vegetables became sentient."

"YOONMIN JAR. NOW."

***

"Congratulations, Yoongi-hyung."

"I…I didn't do anything. What are you doing? What do you want from me?"

"Nothing! Just really proud of you. Congratulations."

"Is this because I'm eating produce? Are you mocking me?"

"No! Can't a dongsaeng congratulate his hyung?"

"Fine. Then congratulate me and go."

"Okay. Congrats forever."

"Thanks so very much."

"…"

"…"

"I'm just so proud of you—"

"HOSEOK."

"Quit provoking him, Jimin-ah. JAR."

***

"What's that racket? I'm trying to choreograph a piece."

"Oh, that's Yoongi-hyung! He's testing out a new sound system."

"Great. Cool. I am going to kill him."

"Stop by the jar before you do."

***

"Tae."

"Yeah?"

"Who the fuck wrote 'Min Yoongi is an idiot' on the fridge?"

"What? Oh. Huh. That's funny."

"IT IS NOT FUNNY TAE WHO DID THAT."

"Oh, definitely Jimin. For sure. I'll text him and see if he already donated to the jar."

"Oh my god."

***

"Hey."

"…"

"Hey."

"…"

"MIIIINNNNN YOOOOONNNNNGGGGIIIIIIIIIIIIII."

"You know, that's not how guys usually sound when they're shouting my name."

"You're right. I'll try to sound more disappointed next time."

"…"

"…"

"Oh. Oh my god. Jimin, what the fuck. That's at least 2000 won in the jar. Look at him, he fucking dissociated. Oh, that was so cruel. You know what, Yoongi-hyung, I feel bad on account of you getting scalped and all. Look, I'm going to donate to the jar too. I didn't even do anything wrong but you just got fucking obliterated and I feel so bad. Fucking rip in pieces."

***

"What is that?"

"A green smoothie?"

"Smoothies aren't green. Smoothies have fruit in them."

"Well, it has added kale and spinach in it for extra nutrients, so. Do you want to try some?"

"Are you trying to kill me?"

"I was just asking if you want some smoothie! That is a perfectly normal and not at all hostile question!"

"Hoseok—"

"Hyung quit being a bitch and put your damn won in the jar."

***

"What are you looking at, weirdo?"

"I'm not looking at you. Hush."

"Wh—you're doing it again!"

"Has your left eye always been bigger than your right one, Yoongi-hyung? Or did you get stung by a bee this morning."

"Okay that was just mean—JAR."

***

Daegu Bro
what are u doing hyung

yoongi
moi?

Daegu Bro
toi.

yoongi
wouldnt know what you're referring to, sry
care to elaborate?

Daegu Bro
[IMAGE SENT]
i'm with jimin right now
his instagram feed is blowing up

yoongi
huh
that's so weird

Daegu Bro
do you mean to tell me you are not username myg42069
and that u didn't just spam comment a solid 15 of jimin's most recent photos

yoongi
no
you know damn well i'm _minyongo
you chose my instagram @ after all

Daegu Bro
so is myg42069 your Finsta acc

yoongi
what is Finsta

Daegu Bro
Fake insta???
s2g it's like you're 90
like a private insta outside of your public one for indulgent selfies and captions that are more personal life updates

yoongi
even if i cared enough to update my real instagram what makes u think i would bother to put any effort whatsoever into making a second

Daegu Bro
i happen to know you care VERY MUCH about your instagram aesthetic
Grindr selfies and all
dont even lie

yoongi
im not

Daegu Bro
sure jan
anyways
i was just curious because myg42069 just commented on jimin's photo of coffee and says "cut the shit with tryna be a cool city guy we all know that's tea jimin" so
was just
curious

yoongi
myg42069 sounds like a douche if you ask me
i mean what asshole puts 420 AND 69 in the same username

Daegu Bro
B)
nice

yoongi
are we done here

Daegu Bro
for now :)

***

unknown number
taetae says you're stalking my instagram u weirdo

yoongi
whos this

The Enemy
jimin, obviously

yoongi
who?

The Enemy™
park jimin??
i know you think you're funny hyung but dad jokes like this one died with the use of VCR please keep up
i bet u learned that from seokjin

yoongi
excuse me
and who pray tell did seokjin learn that from
you ever think about THAT

The Enemy
oh my god

***

And so it goes.

By the end of the second week, the jar is significantly less empty than before.

***

"What are you doing?"

Yoongi lifts his head which is, admittedly, a significant feat considering his head feels like it weighs a million pounds, all sloshy mush inside. He just came out the end of an all-nighter that wreaked absolute havoc on his system. Stumbled his way through two papers and an exam in a single 24 hour stretch and probably forgot to eat substantial food for at least the last half of that 24 hours. It's a miracle he even made it home.

Which begs the question:

"How'd you get into my house?"

Jimin cocks his head to the side, like a puppy. He does that a lot when he's talking to Yoongi. From this angle he's upside down, but there's no mistaking the vague alarm in his expression. "You mean my house? Where do you think you are right now, exactly?"

Oh. That explains the bleary struggle with the door as Yoongi tried every key on his lanyard until one worked.

"Thought this was my place," he grumbles. "Whoopsie daisy."

Jimin sputters a bit. "Whoopsie—are you high hyung?"

"Fuck, I wish." Yoongi lets his head thunk back to the floor, closes his eyes. Keeping them open feels impossible right now. "Midterms. No sleep. Feel like shit."

"Why didn't you go get something to eat?" Jimin asks, leaving off the tacked on idiot, though his tone implies it just the same.

"Too tired. Like. So tired it's possible I'd throw up if I ate anything."

"Ah, I know that feeling well."

Now Yoongi does open his eyes, if only to give Jimin a suspicious glare. "Do you now?"

Jimin doesn't rise to the combative challenge though, the invitation to argue. He just walks away from Yoongi, sets down two brown paper bags on the counter and begins taking out food and storing it the fridge and cupboards.

Yoongi knows he should probably offer to help but feels like he's physically incapable of movement. Instead, he watches Jimin stretch to reach the spice cabinet, the way Yoongi also does when he's visiting. It somehow looks different on Jimin. They're the same height by all technicalities. But Jimin looks smaller doing it. Cuter, or whatever. Yoongi could be dressed in a French maid outfit and he still wouldn't look cute. He doesn't know where this hazy thought process is going but Jimin stretches onto his tiptoes, straining his left arm, fingers waggling like that'll help make them longer to reach, and for some reason it's difficult to look away.

"So why'd you come here?" Jimin asks after a beat, bouncing back on his heels. "Taetae's got work until six."

"I…don't know." He really can't even track the thought process. Yoongi's exam got out and he just sort of stumbled blindly onto the train and stumbled blindly off and somehow ended up here. Going home would've be the smart thing to do. But his place is a little farther from campus, and Namjoon's gone home to Ilsan for the weekend. Plus, waking up to an empty apartment after a super long nap when you don't even know what year it is sucks.

"We'll call it delirium."

And in a way, it is. It seems crazy now, and Yoongi is hardly comfortable here on the floor. But somehow, to his sleep-starved overworked brain, being here, stretched out on Taehyung's thin carpet that's so stained you can't really tell what color it once was, just seemed like the right place to let all his test information and maybe also his vital organs break down and leak out of his ears. Here seemed like a good place to be.

He can't figure out why it'd seemed like such a good idea at the time. Right now Yoongi's starting to feel kind of stupid for it, actually.

"I can leave."

"No," says Jimin, tucking the last of the groceries away. "God knows who else's residence you'd zombie walk into. C'mon, I was just going to make lunch."

"You don't have to babysit me," Yoongi grouses, feeling weirdly exposed.

Jimin's not being half as snarky as usual. He's talking to Yoongi like Yoongi's a normal person. Like every single interaction they've ever had hasn't been a spat. Either the sight of Yoongi's prone corpse on the floor is too pathetic for even Jimin to mess with, or Jimin's just as tired as Yoongi is. What is going on?

"It's lunch, hyung, not a diaper change." Jimin rolls his eyes. "Plus, I don't think my roommate will look kindly on me letting his favorite cousin die on our living room floor."

Fifteen minutes later Yoongi is sitting on the couch, looking at a bowl full of—

"It's a salad," Jimin says, and now there is an edge of bite to his voice. "You've seen a salad before, right?"

Once. If you could call it that. Joon watched some fucked up documentary about the meat industry and for a week they went "vegan". It lasted five days. Yoongi still has nightmares about the arugula and soy cheese salads, which ended up being worlds of different away from the recipe because it was Namjoon preparing them. They ate a disgusting amount of samgyeopsal to make up for it when they declared their vegan streak over, and never talked it about again.

"Fuck off." Yoongi forks a whole mouthful of spinach and chicken into his mouth in answer.

It's actually tasty. Jimin grilled the chicken with spices and lime juice and the avocado doesn't make him feel like he's just crunching down on leaves and it's…really good. The nausea slowly ebbs away, careful bite by careful bite. Turns out he actually did need to eat.

"It's good," he offers. "Thank you."

Jimin's responding smile is one Yoongi has seen before. Only it's always been directed at other people. His whole face scrunching up a bit, smile even except for his one crooked tooth, which somehow makes it even better. Something happy and wholly untouchable. The room is mostly dark but it's like someone went and yanked the curtains aside, let the sun spill onto the carpet in a big goopy puddle.

It's quiet, a feeling Yoongi is not used to sharing with Jimin. So he says, "Were you born eating healthy green produce? You're maybe the only college student I've met that doesn't live off of things that need to be microwaved."

Jimin huffs, looking a bit embarrassed. "Actually, no. That habit I had to learn."

There's more he's not saying. Maybe holding it back for fear that Yoongi will say something mean, that Yoongi will judge him, or tease him.

Yoongi waits.

"Freshman year I was especially bad at like. Taking care of myself. I rehearsed so long sometimes that I just like—forgot to eat. Sleep. Even shower. It wasn't intentional or anything. I just, when you love the work so much, when you want to be good at something so much, and it kills you if you're not good enough, you just," he breaks off, "sort of put everything else on the back burner."

Jimin shifts on the couch, tucks his knees to his chest. He doesn't look uncomfortable right now so much as he looks contained, folding all his corners inwards so nothing too personal escapes. Coloring in the black and white bits of himself for Yoongi to see, but staying very carefully within the lines.

"What changed?"

There's a clink as Jimin twirls his fork, tracing it on the rim of his own bowl, like he's sorting through what color to show next. He looks up, smiles again.

"I met a boy named Kim Taehyung. I made some friends who weren't dancers. I realized that it was okay to like. Have fun. That I didn't have to punish myself for not constantly working. And like, also realizing that time spent investing in my relationships, or my non-major classes, or, I don't know, making yummy bougie salads," he waves his fork playfully, "was actually time spent investing in my dance, too. Dunno if that makes any sense but, it helps for the days when I'm really tired or stressed out."

It does make sense. It makes so much sense. Yoongi doesn't want to launch into the horror story of his freshman year, before he met Namjoon and Seokjin in class, before Hoseok had barreled his way into Yoongi's life. He doesn't know what good it would do this conversation, telling Jimin what a ball of stress he'd been, burnt out and still working so damn hard. Jimin wouldn't gain anything, because he's well adjusted and it's not like Yoongi would really be contributing something to this conversation.

It's just—Yoongi didn't know. Any of this. And suddenly all the things he doesn't know about Jimin begin to collectively amass into what is going to be a pretty fucking big elephant in the room once it grows up big and strong.

He wants to say something like thank you for telling me or why are you telling me or i used to be like that, too.

He wants to talk to Jimin, for just a little bit longer. Draw out this ceasefire that's settled between them, luxuriate in the odd stillness of the air.

"You don't seem stressed out. Or sad."

Jimin shrugs, the loose material of his sweater slipping off one of his shoulders as he curls into himself a little more, not meeting Yoongi's eyes.

"I don't mean that in a bad way," Yoongi trips over the words, feeling flustered. "Just—if you're going through shit, I can never tell. I doubt anyone else can either. You seem so put together."

"That is factually untrue."

"Maybe," Yoongi relents. "I suppose we're all messes in our own right. But like, I can never tell with you. You handle pressure really well."

The compliment slips out unbidden. It's maybe the most genuine thing Yoongi's ever said to him, and the effect of it is not lost. Jimin's expression ripples, softens. His lips part in surprise. The wary edge of his eyes smoothes out. He untucks his ankles and stretches them out on the coffee table. Like he remembered it was okay to take up space again. Yoongi finds himself staring at Jimin's feet for lack of anywhere else to look—dainty and callused, with toes that curl a bit at the end. Tiny, but undeniably tough.

"Hm," Jimin's voice twists wryly. "I can see how it comes across that way. Guess I'm not the best at expressing how I really feel."

His eyes flicker over to Yoongi and then back down to his salad.

They finish eating in silence. But it's not so bad, the way the quiet lingers.

***

When Yoongi thinks about it, really gives it genuine thought, it's possible that Park Jimin isn't the worst person in the world.

Top five, for sure. Definitely a serial killer in a past life. Technically speaking, jury's still out on this life.

("There's no telling me he hasn't killed literal people," says Yoongi. "You'll never convince me of it."

"Jimin-ah?" Taehyung shouts across the apartment. "Are you a serial killer?"

Jimin, without so much as wobbling where he stands—grabs his tiny foot with his tiny hand and lifts it above his head, leg perfectly straight, posture erect.

He has taken to stretching before dance class in the living room, something about sun exposure and not having to share with those bitches who hog the mirror. He's wearing leggings and a simple tank top with the sleeves cut off, so it's less of a tank top and more the mere suggestion of a strip of clothing draped about his torso. It angers Yoongi incredibly. He doesn't know why.

Like he's not in the midst doing some super fucked contortionist pose, Jimin makes a humming sound of consideration, like he has to give it actual thought, before smiling sweetly. "Hm, I don't think so."

Taehyung raises his eyebrows at Yoongi as if to say well there ya have it.)

Still, not the worst.

***

Before Yoongi is able to even keep track of time it's mid-November, a cold snap that doesn't quite reveal snow but gives the air a feeling that a bitch just might. You can't feel it down here though, in the underground club with a tiny stage thrust beneath spotlights. The air smells of heavy smoke and the tang of liquor that's been sloshed onto the floor, the faint reek of sweat rising from the crush of bodies in the room.

The event organizer had contacted Yoongi after hearing one of his mixtapes, asked him to join the lineup. It had been the start of summer then, and he'd thought to himself I have so much time to prep I'm not going to worry right now. But summer came and went and the semester started and everything got hectic and now—it's showtime.

Backstage, Yoongi crouches low and peers out at the audience from the wings. Most of them are college students, friends of friends, locals looking for a good time, but he glimpses a couple disinterested suits lurking in the back. Tries not to pay them any mind. He's not here to seek representation or attention from companies. It's a nice pipe dream but he knows better by now, not to get excited with these things. He'd be here to perform no matter what, regardless of whether or not the word "showcase" was part of the event title.

Hoseok had asked him once why he did gigs like this—dive bars and late nights, little to no pay. You could ask for more, hyung. You should. You know you're good enough. You're too good, matter of fact. Yoongi didn't have an answer then and he doesn't have one know.

He just likes it.

Likes the near unbearable heat of the lights and the ugly heady smells of night clubs. Likes picking up a mic and saying listen up, fuckers, and having the guts to try and make someone listen. Make anyone listen.

Joon and Hobi are along for the ride this time. They're always down for rap battles and other off-the-cuff performances, so when Yoongi asked them to help him perform this track he's been working on, they didn't hesitate. He kind of loves them for that.

But then of course loud mouth Hoseok told his loud mouth boyfriend Seokjin who told everyone in the entire country. Jeongguk was always a shoe-in to come along, because he'll never admit it but he goes to anything he knows Namjoon will be at, starry-eyed with adoration. And then, of course, Yoongi's number one fan Taehyung always comes.

So it shouldn't shock Yoongi that he spots Jimin with them, seated at the bar, drink in hand, leaning against Tae and whispering something to him as the current act wails into their mic. It's not weird or anything—Jimin's more than welcome to come if he wants. This just doesn't seem like his scene.

Not that Yoongi has any idea or cares about what kind of scene Jimin is into.

"Yo," Namjoon nudges Yoongi's knee with his boot. "You good?"

The act before Yoongi's is heading off. Yoongi nods, squares his shoulders, ignores the given flutter of anxiety that always kicks up before he walks on stage.

"Let's get it."

They walk out, emcee calling out their stage names and asking the audience to give them a warm welcome applause. He sees Hoseok flexing his neck, Namjoon tapping out beat on his pant leg with his fingers.

And then, right then, his favorite part:

That pause. That stillness. He loves it. Before a track starts, before a beat drops. It's not exactly silence—there's an audible bustle of the crowd, drinks clinking, murmurs and shouts, bodies pressed together and shining with sweat. But it's like the anticipation of the moment mutes everything out. Like he tucked in ear plugs and the only thing he can hear is the reverb on his mic.

He hears that pause.

But also, he hears—

"MIIIIINNNNNN YOOOOOOONNNNNGGGIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII," screamed from the very back of the house, echoing all the way up to the stage. Recognizable in every way.

Fucking Jimin.

The crowd titters a bit, but the laughter is good-natured and blooms into thunderous cheers and general hype. Heat creeps up the back of Yoongi's neck, steals over his cheeks. He stares at his shoes intensely, warring with the blush as he calmly holds up a middle finger at the source of the noise. The crowd laughs even harder, sends a few catcalls in response.

He can pick out Jimin's laugh, he thinks. Probably because the kid's just a loud ass motherfucker. Still. He can hear it.

They're waiting on him. Hoseok raises his eyebrows at Yoongi as if to say you good? and Yoongi nods before the stage fright can set in.

He faces out, raises his mic to his mouth, lets his lips touch dry knuckles as they curl over the head of the mic. Nods to the DJ to start the track. Listens as Hoseok hypes him up with the vocal hook and lets Joon's resounding growl slide him into a song that walks in a six inch heel—sharp and perfunctory, riding on that beat.

He takes center stage, rips into his verse with a growl of his own.

God, he loves it so fucking much.

After—after the applause almost drowns out the intro of the next act, Yoongi wades through the crowd as people he's never met before toss out casual great show dude's and YO D-BOY! as they slap Yoongi on the back like they know him. He gets caught up for a bit, but then Jeongguk and Hoseok start pretending to be his body guards, clearing a path as they escort him until Yoongi has to literally swat them away to get them to stop. He manages to make his way over to their table before he dies of humiliation at the hands of his terrible friends, a true feat.

When he gets there, he side-eyes Jimin first and foremost. Not that he was looking for him or anything. Jimin just happened to be seated closest to the front. And Tae is off ordering a round of drinks for everyone.

"I heard that shoutout," Yoongi mutters. "You trying to ruin my reputation?"

Jimin smiles, saccharine. "Oops."

He's dressed up again tonight, a contrast to everyone else, including Yoongi, who was just on stage. Another dress rehearsal tonight, from the looks of it. His dark black hair is swept aside and styled to look casually tussled but in the dim blue lights of the club Yoongi thinks he sees glitter in it, a little magic mixed in with the mundane.

Yoongi jerks his chin back towards the stage. "Enjoy yourself?"

"Eh," Jimin shrugs, nonchalant. "If you like that sort of thing."

Irritation doesn't stir the way it should, so Yoongi lets it slide just this once, right as Taehyung bounds over, almost spilling the tray of shots on himself. They squeeze into the booth—all seven of them—and though post-show talks are usually just him Namjoon and Hoseok picking apart the performance from beginning to end, he has to admit that this is nice too.

After they finish Tae's round of shots, Seokjin orders a second. Getting down to business of performance analysis gets pushed back, lost at sea in loud conversation and pleasant company. It's hard to play serious watching Jeongguk and Taehyung challenge Jimin see who can drink who under the table.

They end up in tiny clusters. Seokjin and Hoseok doing their tipsy two step like there's some sort of soft jazz they can hear with perfect clarity as they dance. Jeongguk knocking back another round with Jimin and Tae. Namjoon and Yoongi at the edge of the table, shooting the shit.

"So, what'd you think?" Namjoon sidles in, handing Yoongi a beer, which Yoongi had opted for instead of joining the drinking competition.

Yoongi purses his lips. "Good. Not great? But good. The bridge is still shit. Doesn't build."

Namjoon nods in agreement, takes a pull of his own beer. He's not drunk, but his eyes are on Jeongguk, which means there isn't much of a lifespan on this convo. As soon as Jeongguk looks back, he'll take that as his signal. They'll draw close to like magnets, the way they always do.

"Thing is, me and Hobi make it fun, but—I don't think we're it, you know? We're not it for that final mixing."

Yoongi does know. Hoseok and Joon aren't quite the sound that he envisioned for Tony Montana when he wrote it. But with time being what it is, he didn't have leisure to find the right vocalist. It's not that they're bad. But music and vocals can't be forced, sometimes it's just not the right fit. What his friends lack in vocal chemistry with Yoongi's sound they make up for in knowing how to put on a good show, which meant tonight's performance was fine, only fine isn't good enough. Fine is for vocal guides and demos. Not for a song that kills, both live and recorded.

He scrubs a hand over his face and groans, "God, this song's a pain in my ass. Starting to wonder if I'll get it right."

It feels good to do this with Namjoon, who is always honest with his criticism but never mean. Sometimes it's cathartic to just bitch about how hard making music is. Bitch and admit defeat for the day. Have a drink, wake up, and then try again tomorrow.

"Yeah, I dunno, hyung."

"You think it's worth it?"

"Hard to say. It's good, but it's not your best. The vocal line is a mess, even with me and Hobi improvising what we can. We don't work with your style for this one. I think you need to take a step back and try another angle. Maybe give it a rest for a few months and see if you can come back to it? Because right now it's a trainwreck."

He's right, Yoongi knows he's right. And it's a battle he'll fight for tomorrow.

For now—he's getting drunk.

"What the hell did you just say to him?" A voice from over Yoongi's shoulder.

They turn and Jimin is standing there, clutching a piña colada in one hand with a pink umbrella hanging off the edge, the other hand curled tightly at his side, the signature tell for him being pissed off. Well, that coupled with the venomous glare. Only he's not glaring at Yoongi.

He's glaring at Namjoon.

That's—new.

"How could you say that? Yoongi-hyung worked so hard on that track and you're just gonna—what—shit on his whole effort?"

Neither Yoongi nor Namjoon seem to know what to say. Yoongi especially is just. So lost. Half an hour ago Jimin straight up said eh if you like that sort of thing and now he's, what, defending Yoongi's honor? Yoongi's not even drunk, so this is definitely happening. Right in front of his eyes.

"I thought you were more supportive than that, Namjoon-hyung." Jimin looks at Namjoon like he doesn't recognize him. "How could you tell him to just give up? Yoongi-hyung is so talented. He's so great, how could you say that? Yoongi-hyung works so hard."

"I—," Namjoon looks supremely lost, and he's glancing at Yoongi as if to say SOS but Yoongi's just as lost as he is, if not more. "I wasn't saying he doesn't?"

"Uh, yeah, you just did. You called his song a trainwreck."

Jimin doesn't exactly stumble as he slams his hand on the table, leans into Namjoon's face, but he's definitely swaying. Definitely feeling the affects of the last few rounds of drinks, plus whatever they pre-gamed with.

"Jimin, you've got it all wrong."

"Namjoon-hyung, I respect you a lot, you're my friend, but if you continue to shit on Yoongi-hyung, I will physically fight you. Sir, do you hear me? I will fight you. And who asked for your opinion anyway?"

"Um."

"That'd be me," Yoongi says. "I did. I wanted his honest feedback."

"I'll still kick his ass."

"Nope. Not necessary." Yoongi should stand up. Maybe plant himself between Namjoon and the tiny ball of fury about to rain down on him. But he can't move. It's like his body is frozen between fight or flight.

"He was helping, Jimin. It's what we do."

A flicker of confusion, and then Jimin blinks, deflates a little.

"Oh." He looks between Yoongi and Namjoon, pointing his hand weakly. "You asked him to shit on you?"

"I mean, not how I'd put it, but sure."

"Oh. I—," Jimin suddenly looks very cowed, and very flustered. He blinks rapidly, shakes his head as if to clear it, looking increasingly upset with every second that passes. "I'm so sorry, my bad."

The three of them stand there for a second, and the air so awkward it sours the taste of beer in Yoongi's mouth. Jimin looks mortified. He won't look at Yoongi.

"Hey Jimin, I need a buddy for the bathroom!" Taehyung appears out of thin air and hooks his arm through Jimin's, eyes flicking over the scene only briefly, like he's a sonar for socially awkward situations. "Come with me, best friend!"

"Yeah. Yeah okay, I'm gonna—." Jimin sets down his piña colada and suddenly looks like he's going to be sick.

If they took off any faster, there'd be a cloud of dust in their wake.

"The hell was that about?" Jeongguk pouts, looking very disappointed that his chance to get alcohol poisoning was interrupted.

Fuck if Yoongi knows. His hands feel numb. Not cold, just numb. Like that stupid middle school game where you sit on your hands until the circulation cuts off so you can see what it feels like if someone else is groping you.

Yoongi-hyung is so talented

"No idea," Namjoon says, and then Jeongguk is sliding into the booth, and him and Namjoon are looking at each other like there's not a single person in the goddamn room as they do, and, yeah. Probably Yoongi's cue to leave. He finds himself craving the cold air in a way he's usually reluctant to experience.

he's so great

He waves goodbye to his friends, marches for the entrance. For a second, he thinks he glances Taehyung and Jimin huddled in a corner near the stage, Taehyung looking rather serious as he talks, but he doesn't go over to say goodbye. He'll see Taehyung tomorrow.

yoongi-hyung works so hard

Him and Jimin don't do goodbyes and goodnights. It would be strange to start now.

***

Every year, every fucking year, Yoongi thinks he knows what cold is. And then is promptly reminded that he knows nothing, because it gets even colder.

There's an old story in the corners of his mind that always stirs awake around this time of year. About the little orphan girl selling matches outside in the snow. The girl is starving. Freezing. Burns up the last of her wares just to chase after one last bit of warmth, keep it close, and dream up a place that's full of it. It's a sad story with an even sadder ending, but he can never quite seem to shake it this time of year. He carries a lighter in his pocket that he tells himself has nothing to do with old stories but sometimes, waiting for the train, he'll take it out, flick it on, flick it off. Drag his thumb over the groove of the sparkwheel. He's not an orphan girl with nothing to his name but a box of matches but winter has a way of seeping through the cracks of him, making him feel small and starved.

In winter, real winter, the winter that makes itself known by knocking Yoongi's breath from his lungs and saying bitch you fucking thought, Yoongi bundles up in as many layers as possible. He has a working theory that feeling cold is a spatial thing. If he puts a solid six inches of jacket/sweater/thermal shirt between his skin and the air, he won't feel it, because it can't touch him. 

Jimin seems wholly unbothered by it.

On the first day of snow, sky streaked a bleary weepy grey, he's practically bouncing on his toes as he greets Yoongi at the train stop. His mouth does this thing when he first catches sight of Yoongi, swaddled in all his layers. Like he's wresting down a bird about to take flight. Quelling something that wants to go up

"Oh my god. Hyung, you look like a dumpling. No, wait. The Stay-Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. No wait, you look like the little brother from that old movie. The Christmas one. You know when the mom puts twelve coats on him and he can't even move his arms. Can you move your arms?" 

It's like the cold can't even touch him. Like he can't even feel it.

There's a day where Jimin's in a turtleneck and a beanie and his cheeks are pink pink pink and he asks Yoongi, "Think you have enough scarves there, hyung?" and his voice is so warm it makes Yoongi, in all his tri-layered glory, absolutely furious.

They don't always ride the train together. Doing that would probably make this weird, what with their schedules being so wildly different. Probably makes the run-ins look less deliberate. Makes the spats had on the metro feel less routine. 

Probably.

"Yoongi-hyung," he greets one morning, as they intersect on the platform, Yoongi stepping off the westbound train. "You look miserable."

It's 6 o'clock in the fucking morning. Yoongi is the very definition of the word. 

He grunts, like this constitutes as an answer. Doesn't really feel like playing verbal tennis when it's this early and he's been awake this long, but curiosity gets the better of him.

"How are you not cold?"

"I run warm, I guess. Where are you headed?"

"Home. Been at the studio all night. You?"

"Eight a.m. ballet," chirps Jimin. "But I'm helping one of the students go over some choreo for our recital finale, hence waiting for the 6 a.m. train." 

Dawn is breaking out behind his head, sunlight gilding him with an honest-to-god halo, turning his black hair near brown. It's too cold and too early for anyone to get away with looking like that.

"Has anyone told you that you have a big forehead," says Yoongi.

Jimin doesn't snap or look disgruntled. He just smiles, then promptly leans over where he's standing and rubs his forehead all over Yoongi's shoulder. Like a needy cat or a grubby child except he's Jimin and he's warm and he smells like Yoongi's favorite blanket after he pulls it out of the dryer, down soft and homey. "This bother you, hyung?" 

In a way, yes. They don't touch like this. Not really.

In a way, no. Yoongi's tired brain is trying to fit two pieces of a puzzle that just will not click. He's utterly thrown off by this Jimin. Half-asleep and playful, like he hasn't quite gotten up the energy to be fully snarky. Half-asleep and touching Yoongi, which isn't something they do. Is this the same Jimin he's known all along? Or was there a secret evil twin hidden somewhere?

Yoongi thinks of the Jimin that had been ready to all out brawl with Namjoon just because he thought he was being mean to Yoongi. He thinks of the Jimin that makes salads when he's stressed because he's just trying so hard to be better at being a person. The Jimin who is always first to give gifts when someone in the group celebrates something. The Jimin who unabashedly preens at compliments but also gets very shy in emotionally vulnerable situations. There's a privacy to his sweetness—Yoongi didn't realize how exclusive it was until he was standing beneath the umbrella of it, only Yoongi has no idea when that standing even began.

Does this bother Yoongi? Give him a minute.

"I suffer every day because of you, Park Jiminie."

The nickname slips out unbidden. The resulting smile Jimin gives is terrible.

"Yoongi-hyung," he breathes, fond and quiet. "No one will ever believe you."

There's a lighter that Yoongi carries in his pocket. A weird material reminder of the limitations of winter. Yet—he keeps Jimin's brilliant smile with him the whole damn way home. Its own portable warmth. A playful flickering flame to carry about in his icy match-girl hands.

***

When he takes his seat at the dance recital several weeks later, Yoongi tries to tell himself multiple things, only one of which true.

That he's here because Taehyung dragged him. That he's here because he was bored. That he's here for Hoseok. That he's here because everyone else is, and it seemed like a dick move to not be.

That he's here because he's curious.

Jimin is a good dancer. That was always going to be a given. Yoongi might not know a single thing about dance but he's heard Hoseok talk enough about the program and heard enough snippets of conversations to gather that Jimin is good, really good. One of the best in the whole school. But hearsay isn't enough. He wants to know what that looks like. Wants to see.

("He's in like every other number," Taehyung explained to Yoongi as they walked over to the auditorium from the train. "I think he's one of the dance captains, or maybe he's just so good that he teaches everyone else how to be better. It's amazing. Wait till you see him."

Yoongi had quickened his pace on the icy sidewalk, but didn't respond.)

The lights dim, the curtains draw back and the opening kicks in. He may or may not lean forward in his seat. Just a bit.

When he first started rapping on the underground circuit, Yoongi refused to watch footage of himself performing on principle. He knows it's some weird artist ego thing, knows it's obnoxious. It's not that he thinks he looks bad, but more that he'd rather not know how he looks period.

On those rare occasions where he begrudgingly views gritty snapchat videos that Tae takes of his underground performances, or feels vain enough to search for clips on YouTube posted by randos, Yoongi's always taken aback by how goddamn cool he looks. For all the work he puts into his music—hard grueling hours, blood sweat and tears, he's always pleasantly surprised by how effortless he makes it seem. How he spits bars like it didn't take weeks, months of practice, just to get the enunciation and operative words down. He's a whole other creature on stage, one that shows no signs of the spine-breaking amount of rehearsal it takes to be this good. Exuding all the cocky confidence that screams: oh, this? I could do it in my sleep.

So Yoongi doesn't know a thing about dance, but he knows a thing or two about work. About how much of it you have to put in to make something look as easy as breathing.

Jimin makes dance look as easy as breathing.

He moves about the stage like water, like wind, like electrical current. Everything about him is fluid and alive and he is, for all intents and purposes, beautiful in this way that doesn't show often when up close and personal. On stage he's untouchable. Ethereal. He makes it look so natural.

But Yoongi knows better.

Like he scored the "secret decoder" glasses from a box of cracker jacks and now he's holding them up, squinting through the layers of grace and stage-light glamour to the real Jimin underneath. Yoongi can see the months of work, knows it's the only thing that makes him look so good. All those early mornings and sleepless nights. All that stretching in the living room every day.

It's weird, because Jimin's dancing, spinning about the stage under the gloss of lights and makeup like it's all he's ever known how to do, but Yoongi's thinking about salads. About all the conscious ways Jimin tries to be better and improve himself.

He'd be lying if he said he wasn't charmed by it. He'd be lying if it wasn't a relief—knowing there was a person in this world who got it, felt the same.

He'd be lying if there wasn't some kind of feeling creeping up the back of his throat, warm and tickling, causing him to smile before the first song is even over.

Yoongi watches, transfixed, as Jimin lands an aerial flip and drops to the floor without making a sound.

***

"You came!" Jimin shouts, tripping over himself as he lunges for his friends in the crowd.

"Yah! Of course we came you weirdo!" Seokjin shouts, swinging him off his feet. "The love of my life choreographed three quarters of the show, did you think I was going to risk my entire relationship by not coming?"

"Don't act like you didn't love it," Hoseok beams, making a gagging noise when Seokjin presses a kiss to his cheek and a sunflower into his hands.

Jimin's circling around to everyone—he's got a lot of admirers. A few people that Yoongi's never met before hand him flowers and he seems to exchange hugs with half the people in the room. Yoongi watches. Feels—doesn't know how he feels. He just had a ninety minute long revelation, like falling into slow-moving quicksand. Now that he's out, it's like his body doesn't yet recognize that he doesn't have to struggle against the sinking anymore—light-headed and wrung out.

Someone taps at his shoulder.

"Yoongi-hyung." Jimin's smile is a damn contagion, catches fast.

"Hey," Yoongi grins. Jimin's momentum stops short, like he's aware he probably shouldn't hug Yoongi—they've never breached that particular contact. So he rocks back on his heels, trying to slow himself down.

"You did good." Yoongi says, the words sounding sugar crystalized and rough in his throat. Like the honey that had trickled into his lungs from earlier had hardened.

It's a small compliment. Hardly a big one at that, in comparison with Jeongguk and Taehyung chanting "PARK JIMIN DANCE GOD" on loop behind them. Jimin's expression blanks with surprise, rewrites itself into something entirely new. Almost shy. Something Yoongi's never seen on Jimin's face—not since they were alone on Taehyung's couch and Jimin was telling Yoongi something quite personal.

"Thank you," he says, in an equally shy voice. "That means a lot."

For a moment they're just sort of looking at each other, and the moment is lengthening, and Yoongi no longer knows what to say but he's trying to come up with a way to keep this thing going. Whatever this is.

The crowd begins to dwindle, Jimin getting pulled into other friend groups and embraces. Yoongi should leave, Yoongi has no reason to be here, but the opportunity to exit without being noticed amongst the bustle slips by and still, he stays.

Then—

"Celebration, drinks on me!" Seokjin crows. "I'm going to buy a whole entire bottle of vodka, I wanna see if we can finish it."

"I'm down." Taehyung nods, receiving double high-fives from both Seokjin and Hoseok with a grin.

"Yeah, that's a no for me," says Yoongi. "I have to get up early in the morning for a meeting, killing my liver tonight isn't an option."

"You're boring," Seokjin whines. "Stop being boring."

"I can't help it. It's a disease. No cure."

"What, old man syndrome?"

"Actually…" Jimin shifts on his feet next to Yoongi, guilty looking. "I think I'm gonna head home, too. I need to sleep. We've got a matinee show and I don't want to be hungover before the run is over."

He's drowned out by a chorus of boos and Jeongguk trying to convince Jimin to come out by putting him in a headlock, but to no avail.

"Cool, looks like Jimin and I will head out. You coming?" Yoongi looks at Namjoon, who's standing there looking torn.

"Well—"

"Namjoon-hyung you have to come out with us," Jeongguk says in a babyish tone that belies the fact that he just had Jimin in a chokehold. "You promised."

It's hard not to laugh at Namjoon's ashen expression as he flounders with Jeongguk's pleas. "I—I did?"

"Yeah, when you walked me home from Yoongi-hyung's show, remember?" Jeongguk says, oblivious to the fact that everyone is looking between him and Namjoon with absolutely shit-eating grins. "Remember, I called you dumb for being all mature and responsible and making sure I didn't go home with scoundrels and so you promised me you'd drink with me next time we went out?"

"Scoundrels?" Jimin silently mouths at Yoongi, eyes crinkling with mirth.

Jeongguk is staring Namjoon down, jaw clenched, quietly determined.

"I mean, yeah, I did promise that." Namjoon relents, looking like he may or may not pass out. "Fine. Fuck it. Let's go drink until we regret everything."

They spill out of the performance center, push out into the cold. Yoongi and Jimin get on the westbound train, their friends on the east, headed for downtown to the dive-bars with the cheap liquor. Everyone waves goodbye, gives Jimin one last congratulations hug for the road.

"Try not to die, will you?" Yoongi shouts after their retreating backs as the train doors slide closed.

"Goodnight old man!" Jeongguk shouts back, jogging over to walk beside Namjoon.

This car is crowded. It's a Friday night and everyone's headed home. Tightly packed. One seat free.

"Sit." Yoongi tells Jimin, because somehow they've ended up sticking together instead of separating like they've done in the past. "You're probably exhausted."

Jimin waves him off. "I'm fine, hyung. You're the one with an early morning wakeup."

"I'm not the one who just danced for two hours straight. Don't give me that look. I know you haven't slept much either."

"Sit down, bitchass," instructs Jimin in his bossiest voice, and shoves Yoongi into the seat with all of his might.

Yoongi goes. Not because Jimin physically overpowers him or anything. He got caught off guard is all.

"Bitchass?" Yoongi sputters, starts to stand up. "Where'd you get such a mouth, Park Jiminie?"

"Fine. Please sit down, bitchass-hyung," Jimin says with his sunniest smile, as he keeps his hands on Yoongi's shoulders, shoves him back into the seat again.

"Would you just take the seat?" Yoongi complains, struggling against the death grip, as the train stops and more people pile on, but no seats open up. "You're clearly tired. C'mon, this is so stupid. I feel guilty."

"I'm not going to steal your seat, hyung. I'm fine standing."

"Don't be stubborn."

"Hello pot, I'm kettle."

"Would you just—"

"Jesus christ. Fine."

Jimin sits on Yoongi's lap.

Once, in undergrad, during a very long very awful all-nighter pulled in the studio, Namjoon had spilled a cup of green tea on his laptop. Before Namjoon freaked out, before they managed to get it fixed by some insane miracle, it was like watching a horror movie in slow motion, both Yoongi and Namjoon dead silent and staring as the tea seeped into the keyboard. There was a flickering glitch on the screen and then sudden black. Bam. Completely unresponsive laptop.

Jimin sits down on his lap, and that's essentially what happens inside Yoongi's stupid, stupid, very homosexual brain. Jimin takes a seat and bam. Lights out.

"There," huffs Jimin, shifting in place like he's trying to make himself comfortable. Yoongi can't see his face but he sounds pissed. "Is this better, hyung? Is this what you wanted?"

"Um," says Yoongi. Eloquent.

Jimin shifts again. "Your knees are so bony. I'm gonna have bruises."

"Well so's your ass." Yoongi responds.

"That's a lie and we both know it."

It is. It is very much a lie. Jimin's ass is very much not bony. The opposite of bony. And for once, Yoongi cannot for the life of him come up with a retort to counter it.

Hell.

They sit. Stiffly so. Jimin turns slightly at one point, leans against the window, muttering under his breath about Yoongi's bony knees, but he doesn't get up. Doesn't move. Stops fade by as they leave the downtown area and Yoongi realizes that he's not counting them like he usually does. Yoongi's always going somewhere, always heading toward something, whether it's the studio or home to finally catch some sleep. He's always going. But he's not thinking about that now.

Stop. Go. Stop. Go. The doors are opening, the doors are closing. The car begins to empty, Yoongi watches them all go. Grandmas bundling up as they leave to face the wind chill. Couples tucking in to each other to keep warm as they exit the sliding doors, kids trailing after their parents, hands clasping.

Jimin's head drops onto Yoongi's shoulder.

At first Yoongi thinks Jimin's being obnoxious, but then he can feel that Jimin's whole body is slumped against him. Devoid of tension. Utterly lacking in the controlled fury he usually has when being in the same room as Yoongi. Fast sleep.

When Jimin starts to slide down a bit, potentially fall off into the other seat and bang his head on the window, Yoongi doesn't think. He loops his arms around Jimin's waist and pulls him closer, holds him tight so he doesn't slip away again.

Everything in him goes quiet.

Namjoon's computer had managed to survive, but Yoongi doesn't think he will. His brain feels like a tea-soaked motherboard. He doesn't know how to get out of this situation (doesn't know if he even wants to).

Jimin shifts in his sleep, winds up with his face pushed into Yoongi's neck after a point. He snuffles a bit, shivers, presses closer to Yoongi like Yoongi's actually giving off warmth. Presses so much that Yoongi could almost call it snuggling, if that was the sort of thing that they did. Which they don't. Obviously.

His mouth drags against Yoongi's neck and he sighs. Yoongi can't move, can't breathe. Can't catch his bearings.

Can only hold Jimin tighter, spread a hand flat against his back.

"Smell good, hyung," Jimin whispers, something so soft Yoongi can't actually tell if he's sleep talking or just being really quiet. His mouth is a bit warm and wet where it trails across Yoongi's collarbone accidentally. "Like the sea. Like being home."

A million possible razor sharp quips supply themselves at the ready in Yoongi's brain, it's practically instinct now, but he doesn't take them. Before the recital he'd been holed up in the studio all day, hasn't actually been to the ocean in months, not since last summer, so he doesn't really know what the fuck Jimin is talking about. He probably smells like stale coffee and electric equipment, but it's nice. It's nice words, pressed into Yoongi's skin almost like little kisses. Yoongi finds himself liking Jimin's nice words—those soft mumbled nothings that come out when you're tired enough to feel unselfconscious about them—as much as his mean ones. Maybe even more.

Jimin sighs again, tucks his knees up on Yoongi's lap. They're the same height, or just about, but Jimin feels really really small right now in his arms. Curled against Yoongi's chest. Breathing against him. With him.

Yoongi can't tell whether it's the shortest train ride of his life or the longest. He really can't tell anything. All he knows is that after—after he awkwardly coughs into his sleeve and Jimin tenses awake as they arrive at their stop, after Jimin laughs lightly and clambers off of Yoongi's lap like it was nothing, then has the audacity to once again tease Yoongi about his bony knees; after they part ways, not in irritated silence or a snappy goodbye, but something gentler, something softer, Jimin saying goodnight hyung, his eyes forming crescent moons with the smallest most secret smile, after all of that—Yoongi trudges through the bitter cold all the way back to his apartment, and he still feels warm.

***

After that, they stop arguing over the seat. Well, not entirely. But the bickering feels half-hearted. Like both of them already know how this is going to end.

(If it doesn't end with Jimin sitting on Yoongi's lap out of sheer spite, then it's Jimin squishing in between him and the wall, their thighs pressed together, Jimin stealing one of Yoongi's earbuds and complaining about every single song that Yoongi picks.

Winter days are short and winter nights are long. Sometimes it feels like the snow will never stop. But Jimin in winter is a paradox. The very existence of him warms.)

For the most part, Yoongi doesn't think anything of it.

Only one time—

He's more tired than he cares to admit. He can fall asleep anywhere. Has. But public transport isn't the best place to let your guard down, let your limbs loosen or your face go slack. One minute Yoongi's shoving in his earbuds and preparing to tune out Jimin's talking at him, the next he's out. Asleep like driftwood, sinking under the dark waves but bobbing up to the surface of awareness every stop or so, every jostle of a passenger down the aisle. He doesn't want to miss the stop, he should wake up, but he feels so strangely warm and safe with his eyes closed, leaned back on the seat with his feet kicked up, Jimin's hand—

Jimin's hand.

At first, he's too groggy to register the touch, can't tell if this is a dream or not. There's no telling when his head tipped over to the side far enough that an earbud fell out, but it did. Now there are fingers plucking the earbud where it dangles against his chest, bringing it back to his ear.

It tickles a little bit. Yoongi makes a discontent noise in his throat.

"Hold still, hyung," Jimin tsks, swiping Yoongi's bangs aside, like that's anywhere close to his ear. He fits it back in gently, fingers delicate as moth's wings. Then—the briefest pressure along his cheekbone, Jimin getting at a smudge of dirt with his thumb maybe, and then it's gone. "There. Much better."

But Yoongi had never selected a song on his phone. He'd been sitting there, listening to Jimin tell some story about Hoseok in rehearsal, pretending not to care. He could have just put on music to drown it out but Yoongi had waited. Waited until Jimin was finished speaking. The earbuds feel eerily quiet and hollow in his head.

"You want me to put something else on? I think your playlist ran out." Jimin's voice has the smallest lisp, like wispy threads on a soft wool blanket. It's a pretty voice, too. The producer in Yoongi wants to ask if he's ever sung before. "What'd you have on before?"

"Was listening to you," Yoongi mumbles, the sleepy truth dragged up from the deep of him, the warmest subterranean trench. He almost wants to ask Jimin to touch him again, wants to nudge up into his hand. "Just you."

"Wow, you really are tired," laughs Jimin, but it doesn't feel like a joke. Jimin is speaking too softly for it to be a joke, tone all gossamer and delicate.

"Mm," Yoongi hums.

The train car lurches forward, and the current drags him back under.

Somewhere between the rattle of the train cars Yoongi loses the earbuds again but picks up on a song. Light and a little raspy, under the breath, almost a whisper. Scooping melody out of the cold night air. A lullaby.

Later—Yoongi will convince himself he dreamed up the voice. It happens from time to time, when he's been in the studio too long, sorting through vocal parts and instrumentals for hours on end. A composer's curse.

He not quite sure how he knows, but he knows that if he opens his eyes the music will stop.

Tomorrow, maybe. Tomorrow he'll ask Jimin if he had heard it too.

***

It becomes their "thing". If two people who spend their time together arguing can even have that.

"I hate you," says Jimin, when Yoongi beats him to the last piece of samgyeopsal, giving the cheekiest smile as he stuffs the whole thing in his mouth.

"I hate you," says Jimin, shoving his tiny body in an even tinier crevice between Yoongi and Taehyung during movie night because Yoongi had the audacity to "take Jimin's spot".

"Hate you," mumbles Jimin when Yoongi gets up to leave, because by the end of the night he's asleep on Yoongi's shoulder again. They didn't used to touch but it's like all their train rides have ripped that bandaid right off. He's curled up against Yoongi's side by the time the credits roll and Yoongi, more than anything, wants to let him sleep.

"I fucking hate you," Jimin groans, when he's hungover from a weekend night out with dance friends and Yoongi takes the opportunity to blast his latest track because Taehyung woke up in a Mood To Jam and cannot be stopped. Jimin shuffles out of his room, makes himself a cup of tea, and promptly returns to his room with a pointed door slam, not to be seen for the rest of the day. Not that Yoongi is watching the hall or anything.

H8 U, Jimin texts, because it's game night and Yoongi's buried in a project. They're playing Settlers of Catan, and Jimin swears to Yoongi that without his commanding presence and referee ability, the group is sure to come to blows.

gonna be at least another hour. bringing beer to make up for it he texts back

hate u! comes the response. A given. To be expected by this point.

It's weird to depend on a specific phrase but it's kind of how Yoongi knows all is right in the world. The sun rises in the east. Sets in the west. Park Jimin hates him. Despises him. Will take any and all opportunities to insult and tease and drag him, even if none of it is truly threatening or mean.

The sad truth is, it's not about the rivalry anymore. Not for Yoongi, at least.

Not anymore.

This is some advanced kindergarten crush bullshit, but as a gay man, as a person in general, Yoongi is so genuinely godawful at flirting that he doesn't have a clue as to how to change their dynamic. He doesn't know how to test the waters and go about becoming friends with Jimin, how to go about making sure Jimin doesn't hate him.

Sure as hell doesn't know how to get Jimin to do the opposite of hate him.

Would Jimin even be interested? Probably not. He's heard Jimin complain about bad dates from time to time and Taehyung has overshared enough times for Yoongi to know Jimin's "type". He's squandered enough intel to know that that type looks nothing like Min Yoongi.

(They were drunk when Yoongi asked, because there are some questions you just can't ask without alcohol in the mix.

"Well, for one: men. Big men? He's dated a couple of hulking wrestler-type dudes. Accountants and Engineers and such. Business majors. He doesn't really seem to be attracted to the chill artist types…he likes people with ambition. Guys with goals, who work hard. Most of the time those guys turn out to be jerks, but you didn't hear that from me. Definitely a good conversationalist? But not someone who just, talks about themselves constantly."

Yoongi had taken another swig of whisky, and stared beyond the window at the light pollution, orange and blotchy in the night sky.)

And yeah, Yoongi could always just admit the jig is up. Actually take the opportunity during one of their spats, suck it the fuck up and ask Jimin out. Acting like a functioning human being is totally an option.

But every time he even considers it, Yoongi's mind conjures up a scene where a confused and disgusted looking Jimin thinks Yoongi is joking, or making fun of him. Or worse, conjures up a Jimin who is kind to Yoongi while he gently lets him down. A Jimin who looks at Yoongi like he did that day he found Yoongi sleeping on the floor. Like he is someone to be pitied. Yoongi would rather go play in oncoming traffic than see either one of those scenarios play out. 

No. Better to stay silent and safe within their drawn lines. Banter and tease and nothing more.

***

However.

Sometimes—just sometimes—Yoongi gets the sneaking feeling that Park Jimin doesn't hate him at all. 

Just a feeling. 

"First of all, this is fashion design. I need a model, and your shoulder measurements are close to the model from class. Only the model from class has the flu, and I'd have to physically kill him if he got germs anywhere on this top."

"Fine," Yoongi grumbles, like he's not already stripping down and hardly putting up a fight. He's used to this. Ever since his cousin expressed a remote interest in fashion, Taehyung had been occasionally "using" his body to try out different looks. It's not the worst thing in the world.

Today's look is a paradox of contrasts. Taehyung says he's "combining aesthetics", one of which requires Yoongi to wear his ripped and rattiest jeans. So Yoongi did his best. There's a lot of holes in these ones. 

"Why holes?" he'd asked.

Taehyung looked at Yoongi like he was speaking another language. "For the fishnets? Duh."

So, yeah. It's 4 p.m. in the afternoon and Yoongi's wearing fishnets. He'd complain, but it's best to just let Kim Taehyung happen to you, so to speak. 

"I had asked Jin-hyung to sub in, he's got such nice broad shoulders, but when I mentioned needing ripped jeans Hoseok went on to refer to Jin's ripped jeans as his Nut Jeans, effectively ending that conversation and professional relationship."

"What the hell are nut jeans?" 

Taehyung stares at him for a beat until it clicks in Yoongi's head. 

“Got it. Not a viable option for a class you're getting graded on.”

“I mean I'm all about edgy fashion that pushes boundaries but that’s the last thing my professor needs to see.” Taehyung shudders. “Plus. Seokjin and Hoseok are too opinionated about what they wear. Not like you.”

“I'm very opinionated.”

"I mean, yes, okay, but you're essentially malleable under my genius hands.” Taehyung grins. “You're arguably sweeter than they are.”

“I'm not sweet,” Yoongi grumbles. 

“Sure sure. Now take your shirt off, you sexy beast.”

The piece Tae's having him try on is actually quite lovely. Yoongi will outright lie and say he prefers the comfort of giant hoodies and generally dark clothing any day of the week, but this kind of delicate looks good on him. There's no denying it.

He never would have pegged his cousin to have the patience for something like painstakingly sewing a garment together, but the white lace top Tae has him put in—strappy white ribbon criss-crossed all over the front, high collar, sheer white lace in the back—feels immensely complex. It's a little loose around the waist, but Taehyung has always been a big champion of comfort when it comes to fashion, which Yoongi is grateful for.

Taehyung takes a step back, evaluating. “Love it. I'm gonna grab some safety pins to shorten the hem a bit for the photos. You good?”

“Yeah. Okay if I make some coffee?”

“Go for it. Just don’t spill!”

Minutes later, Yoongi's stretched up against the counter, groping up high for his Holly mug as a pot of coffee brews, when the front door opens behind him.

He knows who it is. Waits for the quip about the fishnets, or maybe the lace. hyung, I know you're broke but, camboy shows? Really? followed by that wheezy hiccupy laughter that's reserved for any time Yoongi does something remotely out of character. Yoongi can practically write the script himself by this point.

But the silence continues. So Yoongi, finally reaching his mug, turns.

"Out with it. Whatever it is, get it out of your system now before the coffee kicks in and I feel like fighting back, jerk."

Jimin isn’t getting anything out. Jimin isn’t making a sound. He’s holding a bag of takeout in one hand and a cup of boba tea in the other but they're both sort of hanging at his sides like limp noodles. He’s looking at Yoongi, and he looks terrified.

For a second, they just stare blankly at each other. Yoongi suddenly aware of all the exposed skin he's got. The way the cold air presses against it.

“Finally found the safety pins.” Taehyung booms, marching triumphantly out of the bedroom. “Oh hey Jimin-ah! Just finishing up my fitting session with hyung.”

Jimin jumps like he's been shot. “Hey!” he says, too brightly. “Yeah, no worries! I'm just gonna—,” he makes a vague flapping gesture at his room.

“Wait! No, I need your help.” Taehyung snatches up an electric fan. “Would you do me a favor and point this at Yoongi-hyung while I take photos? Want to try and see if I can make him look all ethereal like.”

“Um.” Jimin is suddenly and inexplicably pink in the face. “Um, sure, I guess.”

He awkwardly sets down the food and the boba, slow, like any sudden movement and he’ll get shot again. Taehyung has an eerily wide smile on his face as he waits.

It's over quick enough. Yoongi gives his sultriest pout, tips his head in a way that shows off his angle best, makes his gaze go soft. He's done this enough times by now that he knows what Taehyung needs from him. It's easy to slip in the performance of being someone else when you're dressed in fishnets and white lace.

He tries not to look at Jimin too much. Tries.

Whatever surprise Jimin had shown earlier seems to have passed. He grips the fan and holds it how Taehyung instructs, looking intent, composed, as he angles it towards Yoongi. He appears to be very deep in thought. Sometimes Yoongi looks at Park Jimin and it's like he can see a million and one thoughts churning away, but not one is discernible from the other. Like trying to pick out a single pebble out of a maelstrom.

“These look so great. Doesn't he look great Jimin?”

Jimin glances over Taehyung's shoulder at the camera. His eyes flick up to Yoongi, unreadable.

“You look really nice, hyung.”

There’s no saccharine playfulness to the compliment. No pretense or false tone. It's either the nicest most genuine thing Park Jimin has ever said to him, or Yoongi is seconds away from getting taken out by an assassin and this is just the code phrase.

“I agree," nods Taehyung. “Just fabulous. Jimin, should we like—dump some water on him? It'd be kind of sexy, especially with the sheer lace and—”

“Have to study now. So sorry.” Jimin's halfway down the hallway before Taehyung even finishes the thought, closing his bedroom door shut.

After Yoongi changes out of the clothes—Wet Lace Shirt Concept abandoned, much to Tae's disappointment—Yoongi almost knocks to see if Jimin wants the rest of his boba tea, forgotten on the kitchen table. Goes so far as to lift his hand to rap his knuckles on the door.

Almost. But doesn't. They're enemies, after all.

***

It’s just a feeling, but—

It's 11 p.m. and Yoongi is standing alone in the grocery store around the corner from home. The store's set to close soon—which means everyone here is either raiding the alcohol aisle or spending an awkward amount of time where the condoms are, avoiding eye contact with everyone else in the same area. Yoongi's starting to feel like an asshole, because who can't find kale when he's the only one standing in the tiny produce section. This ain't no Farmer's Market, but he's staring at the bunches of leafy greens, and for the life of him they all look exactly the same. They all appear healthy.

“You know, I'm starting to wonder if that arugula did something to personally offend you.”

And there, like magic, is Jimin, grinning at Yoongi over the sweet potatoes.

He's dressed down, which makes sense given the hour of night. No dance attire or smart outfits today. Just loose athletic pants and a white long sleeved shirt, sans dangly earrings and stage glamour, hair windswept, unkempt. He looks wholly boyish and soft, if a little tired.

"The arugula did nothing," Yoongi says with a dignified sniff. "But. Just so we're clear, which one is the arugula?"

Jimin throws his head back and laughs, torso bending a bit like he's about to fall over. And god, it's so unfair. Even the hideous off-yellow of the fluorescent lights in the store can't make Park Jimin look ugly.

Meanwhile, Yoongi, in all his toad-hybrid glory, definitely hasn't showered in a minute or two. Definitely did not drink enough water today to make his skin look hydrated and un corpse-like.

"Are you buying greens hyung?"

"No. Fuck off…maybe."

"What's the occasion?"

"Nothing. Just," Yoongi hesitates, but it's 11 p.m. and he's not about to say he's actually here for condoms and lube because that's a whole other can of worms he doesn't even want to touch.

"Trying to make a salad." Yoongi can feel the tips of his ears turning red. “Emphasis on trying. I can't remember what you put in that one you made that one time."

That one time, literal months ago. That neither of them ever brought up or mentioned or referenced ever again.

Jimin blinks, and for a second Yoongi thinks he's going to literally get laughed out of the super market. But Jimin doesn’t laugh. Just walks around over to where Yoongi is standing, taps a finger on his chin.

"Well, all of these technically work for salads, depending on your preference. They're just the base. I tend to like more neutral tasting greens. Spinach is good and neutral. Kale has a bit of a bitterness to it, but it's good. But your base isn't the most important part. It's more about the other stuff."

"Other stuff?"

"Yeah, you know. Chicken, protein, other veggies, shredded cheese, dressing."

"This already sounds like too much effort. I'm leaving."

"Nooo, come back," Jimin laughs, looping his hands through Yoongi's arm to tug him back and god, his laugh squeaks like a broken dog toy. It's so fucking cute. "Here, try some."

Yoongi chances a glance around. "We won't be arrested for eating before purchase?"

"Who's gonna arrest us, the Produce Police?" Jimin retorts, then plucks a piece of kale off the bunch and sticks it in his mouth.

Yoongi does the same and promptly chokes.

"What the fuck," he spits, only he can't, because he chewed it, it's in his mouth, there's no turning back now. He can't just spit out chewed kale in a public place. The people looking at condoms are now looking at him, and they are judging him. "What the fuck. Did you just poison me?"

Jimin continues talking through the options like a tour guide, "Okay, so like I said, that one's kale—"

"Jimin help. I'm being murdered."

"This bunch right here in the bag is just spring mixed greens."

"Jimin-ah, call the store manager. Call the police. I'm dying."

"Then you've got chard, with the red stalks—"

"Park Jiminie have you no soul."

Jimin gives him the most angelic smile, positively radiant, undeniably evil. Yoongi's a little terrified. "Yoongi-hyung, are you sure you are in the right college major? Seems like you missed your calling there with Drama."

Then he calmly picks up the nearest bunch to him—spinach, notes Yoongi, because he's an asshole but he's an asshole that pays attention, even as he's being poisoned to death and metaphorically dragged within an inch of his life—and places it in Yoongi's cart.

It goes on like that for a while. Jimin tossing chopped walnuts and ricotta cheese and dried cranberries into Yoongi's cart, gently teasing Yoongi every time he hasn't heard of some fancy garnish, can't tell the difference between a vinaigrette and ranch. Yoongi frequently complaining about how terrible healthy food actually is and how he's still choking on kale (Jimin snatches up a bag of peach-O's, tears into it with his teeth, hands Yoongi a handful to suck on to get rid of the acrid taste). All in all it's probably the healthiest Yoongi's ever shopped. By the time they're back at the front, Jimin's somehow conjured up a small pile of his own in Yoongi's cart. Yoongi hadn't even noticed stuff being added.

"Just needed more licorice tea and some ace bandages," he elaborates, "Oh, and Icy-Hot patches."

They separate briefly—Yoongi unloading all his items onto the conveyor belt, Jimin taking his to the self-checkout area. Unite once more at the entrance, Jimin sidling up behind Yoongi and bumping their shoulders together, jostling the grocery bags and making Yoongi trip up a bit, which makes Jimin smile.

Technically, "home" is in opposite directions from this point. Their time spent together ends here at the exit. This is where they say goodbye. There's no reason for Yoongi to come over and visit Taehyung at midnight on a Sunday. No reason to invite Jimin back over to his place that isn't covered completely in bright yellow caution tape.

"The greens will start to wilt and taste gross after a week or so," Jimin says. "Don't forget to eat them."

"And don't you forget that tea is not a replacement for actual sleep."

"You can't convince me to drink coffee, hyung. I'd rather die."

"Ah, but I almost did die tonight, Park Jiminie. I have to get even somehow."

By this point they're just sort of standing outside the sliding doors as people push past them. Open. Close. Open again.

He should go.

"Well, goodnight Yoongi-hyung." Jimin shoulders his bag, throwing his hand up in a sleepy farewell. "Good luck with the salads."

Yoongi gets all the way home and unpacks the groceries before he finds the opened bag of candy, stuffed inside one of the shopping bags. He can't remember having paid for them. Waits for Jimin to text him saying u thief u stole my peach-o’s!! i hate u! But Jimin never does.

His mouth is peach-sweet for days after.

***

It's just a feeling, but—

"I want meat," Jeongguk whines, a thin and reedy sound. "C'mon, I'm a growing boy. I haven't had a full meal in like 5 hours. Which means I'm basically near death."

"Who votes meat?" Namjoon asks, rolling his eyes only the slightest bit when everyone groans back meat like a horde of zombies stirring to life at the mention of human flesh.

"Oh," exclaims Jin. "We should check out that new seafood buffet that just opened up on—"

"Jimin doesn't like seafood." Yoongi says, on autopilot, not even glancing up from his phone.

There's just the briefest pause in the conversation, a hiccup of silence in which everyone acknowledges that Yoongi, yes that Min Yoongi, just talked about Jimin and didn't end up having to empty his wallet into the Yoonmin Jar. In which Yoongi realizes the exact same thing, and tries to figure out a) how the fuck he knows that information and b) when exactly he filed it away in the do not forget folder of his brain.

But then Jeongguk offers another suggestion, one of those as-seen-on-tv food challenges where you get the whole meal comped if you manage to eat every last bite of whatever monstrously large portion is put in front of you. Namjoon points out that he doesn't want to die tonight, as hungry as he is.

Yoongi carefully waits for the noise level in the room to swell back to its previous decibel before he looks up.

Jimin's perched up on the arm of the couch on the other side of the room, legs crossed, leaned back against the wall. Taehyung's right next to him, siding with Jeongguk, bellowing about how he's here for a good time not a long time, but Jimin's not paying the ensuing debate any attention.

Thank you, he mouths at Yoongi, smiling warm and small. Like he means it.

Yoongi nods shortly, turning back to his phone. He's reading an article for sound design class that he has to write a discussion post on by tomorrow but he sort of gets stuck scanning the same paragraph on loop while absorbing none of it. It appears his brain absorbs information on a selective basis these days.

They end up at their usual hole in the wall bbq place (though Jeongguk swears vengeance for the mutiny done to his idea), all seven of them crowded around a table in the back and shouting over each other as they eat. Dinner passes in a blur of Yoongi trying to convince himself that he's not feeling Jimin's eyes on him the entire time.

***

It's just a feeling, but—

"Yo, when did you switch out your coffee blend?"

"Huh?" Taehyung raises his head from where he's bent over an art history paper, bleary eyed.

Yoongi's supposed to be working on a digital mixing techniques project but instead he's mentally picking at a new musical hook that's been floating around his head. It's a melody with no lyrics, which basically translates to a fetus in music major terms; an emotion that he has yet to hammer out into a concrete song. That's always the hardest part, having something that's all metaphor no message. He knows how he wants it to feel. He just doesn't know what it is that he wants to say. Not yet.

Coffee helps for ruminating, but he's not used to the stuff he scrounges from Taehyung's cabinet tasting this good.

"This roast, it's great, but it's definitely not the kind you used to have. Which was like, Folger's, I'm ninety-nine percent sure."

Taehyung shrugs. "Honestly, Jimin's been doing the grocery shopping lately. I just eat whatever he puts in front of me, I don't question it."

"Probably a good thing he's not a murderer then."

"I know, right? It's funny. Him changing the roast, I mean. Like. I could literally drink bleach and not notice the difference. And Jimin doesn't even drink coffee."

Taehyung turns back to his essay with a yawn. Yoongi stares down at his drink, inhales the fragrant scent of freshly ground beans, real expensive primo shit. Feels something fluttering, just beneath his breast bone. He cups the mug between his rounded palms a little tighter. Breathes.

***

And then there's—

park jiminie
yoongi-hyung!!!

yoongi
what's wrong?
is taehyung okay?
did him and jeongguk try to throw another homemade molotov cocktail off the roof again
im not near my car but i can be at the hospital in 10

park jiminie
skjdfjsdjfjag omg no stop
everything's fine!!!
besides we banned explosives in the apartment after the vinegar volcano incident

yoongi
you know i want to ask but we're just gonna stick a pin in that one for later

park jiminie
probably for the best

yoongi
so what's on fire then
why are you texting me

park jiminie
okay first of all:rude
second of all: jeonggukie says you've got a gig tonight! he was complaining abt not being able to go

yoongi
oh
yeah i mean
it's less of a gig more of a trial run of some new tracks
just
live instead of pre-recorded

park jiminie
so a gig then

yoongi
I-

park jiminie
i wish u had told me! i would be there to cheer u on but unfortunately we've got a last minute rehearsal and ofc the whole routine is a shitshow which means i'll be here til late

yoongi
its okay
you don't have to come

jimin
i mean i cant but i wish i could :(
good luck! or, break a leg!
do rappers say break a leg? is that a thing
hobi-hyung says they say "bust a nut" but something abt that feels off

yoongi
glad you know not to believe a single word jung hoseok says

park jiminie
thanks my parents raised me right

yoongi
gtg
on deck

park jiminie
bust a nut!!!
(ur gonna be amazing <3)

***

Anyways.

***

"I want to go on record and state that I think this is going to be a disaster."

"Thanks for your contribution, Yoongi-hyung," Hoseok beams. "Really great addition to team bonding night. Keep up that spirit."

"We are paying to have ourselves locked in a room for an hour until we can figure out how to escape, and you think this isn't going to turn into a full out Donner party situation?”

“I’ve always wondered what what would be like.” Taehyung nods.

"I'll eat any one of you bitches," Seokjin says, scrolling through his phone calmly. "I don't give a fuck. I'm an alpha, I'll do what it takes to survive."

"There will be no eating of anyone tonight," says Namjoon firmly, and at Hoseok's raised hand he barks, "YES THAT INCLUDES VORE, SICKO."

Hoseok pouts, but his hands drops.

"Yoongi-hyung does make a point," Jeongguk pipes up. "We get along. Is team bonding even necessary?"

"Seokjin literally just said he'll eat any one of you," Jimin points out. "Not sure ‘get along’ are the right words here."

Escape room with the gang it is, then.

The objective is simple, as a greasy looking high schooler explains the rules of the escape room in a monotone voice: seven team members. Two are "murderers". The goal is to solve the murder case in Murder Village and then find a way to escape the room. The murderer's job is to try to stay under the radar.

Yoongi draws a card from the pile of seven and reads the big block letters you are a murderer! Cool. Being the murderer means he doesn't have to do anything but blend in and look innocent with the rest of the group for an hour. Easy enough.

The game starts, all of them spreading out inside a warehouse decorated to look like a mini-village and as it turns out, Yoongi truly underestimated how stupid his friends can be at times. Despite being the best in their classes of their chosen educational fields. Despite being otherwise super intelligent people.

It’s a little more than chaotic. Jesus christ, they couldn't be worse at this game if they tried.

Yoongi just tries to nod along with whatever working theory Namjoon has as he solves something that looks like extremely overcomplicated sudoku and helps Taehyung put together a floor puzzle that points them to another location in the Murder Village to scope out for clues. He's headed over with Hoseok to check out the bakery when Jimin jogs over, loops his hand through Yoongi's arm to slow him down. He’s been doing that a lot lately when he talks to Yoongi.

"Walk with me," Jimin says breezily. "I think I found something."

Yoongi follows as they trot away from everyone else and through the flower shop, looking through the fake bouquets.

“What is it?"

"Oh, that." Jimin grins. “Just wanted to let you know. I may or may not be feeding everyone false clues. Red-herrings."

Yoongi stares at him. "You're a murderer."

"And so are you."

"What? I never—"

"Your poker face, hyung," Jimin giggles, cheeks rosy pink. "It's terrible. You're such a bad liar. But I wanted to see if you’d be interested in helping me skew the game to our advantage?”

“Park Jiminie you absolute evil genius.”

It becomes a competition, almost a game of their own, set outside the rules from everyone else. Yoongi scribbles down some random gibberish words and tells the gang he found them in a mailbox, and the next minute Jimin says he thinks he hears morse-code in the radio that's playing nothing but tinny pop music from the 90s.

Every time their friends go wild, every time one of them shouts "I KNEW IT" when they did not, in fact, know it, Jimin's eyes meet Yoongi's across the room and—it's not quite a smile they exchange, that'd be too obvious. But it's a look, one that sends something warm zipping right up from the base of Yoongi's spine. Like they're speaking a language only they understand. They're definitely ruining team bonding night but, it's a ridiculous amount of fun to do so.

"Okay," Yoongi whispers out of the corner of his mouth to Jimin. "That should be enough to keep them distracted. As long as we keep them away from the lockers in the north side of the room, it should go much better."

"Definitely."

Then, suddenly, a loud pterodactyl screech from the other side of the room. Hoseok, probably. Though he and Seokjin are in that stage of the relationship where they start to sound alike sometimes, so it could be either of them.

"Oh no." Jimin smiles again. He's smiling so so much tonight. "I think we've been found out."

“Fuck."

Then another strangled shout followed by a bunch of whoops and howls. Yoongi isn't entirely sure his friend group hasn't transformed into a pack of hyenas but whatever, it's chill.

"PARK JIMIN YOU SONUVABITCH." That's Taehyung.

Jimin glances up at the timer near the entrance. "We've got five minutes left. Think we can outrun them and hide until then?"

When Yoongi holds out his hand, he's not really sure what he's thinking. It's certainly not to offer a high five, because he would have held it up for that.

Why they would need to hold hands when they're about to be running for their lives from their rabid friends is beyond Yoongi. It's just—it felt right. He saw Jimin grinning like some sort of evil sprite and felt that warm current along his spine all over again and it just felt right to do it.

Feels right, because after a few seconds of startled blinking at Yoongi’s outstretched hand, Jimin smiles and takes it.

Jimin's hand is so tiny. And yeah, Yoongi has always known this. But it's one thing looking at Jimin's tiny hands from a distance and another thing entirely holding one in his own. Quietly marveling at the way their fingers fold together. It feels like a little bit like dying, and Yoongi doesn't really know what that says about him the grand scheme of things.

"Run." Jimin says, more laughter than words, eyes bright, and takes off, not giving Yoongi a chance for a breath.

This is definitely the dumbest thing Yoongi has ever done. Whatever. He's kind of cracking up. They're both cracking up. Jimin is fast and he tugs Yoongi behind him with the kind of strength that Yoongi can't really resist. They run, turning corners, and as the screaming and whooping and shouts of their friends come closer, they sprint, until Yoongi's all but gasping for air. He doesn't have the cardio endurance of a dancer, so it's honestly a goddamn relief when Jimin tugs him into some sort of crevice wedged between two fake buildings. A little pocket of hidden space in the corner of the escape room.

Jimin pushes Yoongi against the wall behind a dumpster, covering Yoongi's mouth with his hand before Yoongi can so much as protest.

Silently, Jimin holds a finger over his lips. Not a word.

They wait.

Yoongi tries to slow his breathing, slow the loud crashing of his heart beat. Ease down from the adrenaline.

"I think they went this way,” Hoseok says breathlessly, somewhere from a distance, and then the sound of scampering feet and slightly maniacal giggles follow, fading as the voices head towards the opposite end of the room.

Yoongi waits for Jimin to step back, drag him elsewhere, or maybe just give him some fucking space to breathe.

But Jimin doesn't move.

Jimin, if anything, stays right the fuck where he is. Which is right against Yoongi's entire person. Hand pressed over Yoongi's mouth.

It's chill.

Yoongi can't really pretend like he's thinking straight (certainly not straight, if anything he is thinking the opposite of straight shoved into a corner with Jimin pressed against him in a warm line). His body is screaming at him in the way he imagines it would be if he were being confronted by a bear. Some deep primal ancient stirring in his bones telling him to do something rather than just sitting and letting the bear come for him. He's not really sure what the 'bear' is in this situation, can't discern whether it's the group of people trying to hunt him down, or the boy standing plastered against him. Whatever the reason, his brain is pleading do something, please do something, you useless homosexual, so—

Yoongi panics and licks Jimin's hand.

If this were a bear, his dumb ass would be dead by now.

It's not even like, a remotely sexy lick. He just drags his tongue against the palm of Jimins' hand which—gross, it's been all over the escape room, what the fuck Yoongi—but at least it'll get Jimin to let go of him. At least it'll mean Yoongi can get out of this extremely confusing situation and remember proper breathing again.

Jimin pulls his hand away, but he doesn't make a disgusted face. Doesn't shove Yoongi away. Doesn't say ew gross disgusting hyung. Something passes over his face, gaze gone dark, brows drawn together. He almost looks drunk, eyes flickering down to Yoongi's mouth and back up again.

Wait, what.

Before Yoongi's brain has the wherewithal to connect one thought to another, Jimin's curling his fists into Yoongi's hoodie and shoving him back against the wall. Crushing their mouths together. Kissing him.

Kissing him? Kissing him. Park Jimin is kissing him. Park Jimin is shoving Yoongi against this cold fake brick wall in this fake alleyway and kissing him.

If Jimin had pulled a literal weapon from his pocket and taken Yoongi out, he would have been less surprised than he is right now.

So, shock. That's a thing his body is sure going through. Brain going silent for a few seconds, completely offline. But Jimin's kissing him too furiously to not react. To not feel something.

To not kiss back.

(Because of course Yoongi would kiss back. He's never explicitly thought about it, not really. But now that it's happening it's like the most obvious thing in the world. Oh, of course, you fucking idiot, why wouldn't you want to kiss him. Newsflash asshole, you've wanted to kiss him the entire goddamn time.)

Yoongi gives his internal systems one ferocious kick to reboot, and gives his all into the kiss, whatever he can.

And holy god is it good.

Jimin kisses like he's trying to tell Yoongi something without words. Like he's trying to say stay put as a warning to the chaotic screaming happening at the end of the room but also maybe hey shove your tongue in my mouth, from the insistent way he presses against Yoongi. The way they press against eachother because, yeah, Yoongi may or may not be wrapping his arms around Jimin's back to keep upright. May or may not be going slightly weak kneed with the fake brick wall at his back. May or may not feel every cell in his body come to a stand still. Rush hour traffic in his veins, every horn and siren blaring and screaming.

Jimin kisses Yoongi like he'd always had the intention of doing so, like this wasn't a spur of the moment catastrophe, like he's got Yoongi exactly where he wants him, his lips a fierce and purposeful drag. Their mouths are slick. They keep catching, making this soft, wet noise. And when Yoongi gets a taste—just a taste, Jimin's tongue flicking against his bottom lip and away, sweet sweet flavor he can't think to name—Yoongi thinks this might be some other form of bizarre manipulation tactic that somehow ties into the game, because there's no other way to explain how he gets to feel something so good. He thinks he might be about to die.

Is the game time still running? What game. Yoongi doesn't know a game. Yoongi doesn't know his own damn name. He just knows Park Jimin's mouth, and Park Jimin's nose brushing soft against his cheek, and Park Jimin's hands pressed down over his chest, like they're keeping his heart in place where it belongs. He knows all the points where Park Jimin touches him, and absolutely nothing else.

Jimin gets his leg between Yoongi's thighs and nips at Yoongi's mouth, and the sound that Yoongi makes is honestly embarrassing. Something between a curse and a moan that comes out sounding like fwungk. But Jimin doesn't shush him, just pushes his tongue further into Yoongi's mouth like that'll shut him up, nips at him again, the gentle bite of teeth a crazy combination of dizzying hot and unconventionally cute and getting a boner in an escape room is the last thing Yoongi ever thought would happen in his lifetime but damn if it's not one of his top ten—

Namjoon's voice, nearby, calling the others over. "Guys!"

Jimin freezes against him.

"This way," Namjoon says. "I think they're close."

same, supplies Yoongi's brain, then wait, no as Jimin swiftly steps away from him, the cool air rushing to fill where his body had been moments before.

His face is blank, even if his hair is a bit mussed, mouth carrying the sheen of Yoongi's on it.

wait no, says Yoongi’s brain again, as his mouth says absolutely nothing.

"Time's up." Jimin mutters, looking away right as the alarm on the game timer begins blaring.

Yoongi feels warm all over, eggshell delicate.

The minimum wage high schooler is back, giving them a slow clap applause and telling them that their hour is up and, unfortunately, they did not escape Murder Village, and did they want to take a group picture and get tagged on Instagram?

Yoongi should say something. Yoongi wants to say something. But he's looking at Jimin and Jimin is looking back like he wants to say something too, and doesn't.

Then Hoseok is shouting their names and Jimin is ducking out of the alleyway, running to join the others with a laugh that sounds completely unbothered, completely unaffected, like he doesn't even care at all.

But Jimin had kissed him. Deliberately. Stepped into Yoongi's space and fitted their mouths together and that, if anything, means that Yoongi's not the only one reeling here.

Right?

He joins his friends for the picture, all crowded together at the entrance with colorful signs that read cheesy catch-phrases like "SO CLOSE!" and "ALMOST!"

The irony is not lost on Yoongi, but he can't bring himself to even feel remotely smug about it.

Their gazes meet as they move to stand next to each other for the picture. It's one of those rare moments when Jimin feels taller than Yoongi, bigger than him in every single way although their eyelines are level.

Jimin tilts his head to the side, and it’s familiar. His eyes form their signature crescents, and that’s familiar too. The smile he gives is small and shy and pink-cheeked and familiar in every kind of way only this time Yoongi gets the fucking air knocked out of his lungs with the force of how very gone he is.

The instagram pic gets posted about an hour later, and Yoongi's horrified to see that he's not even looking at the camera.

***

So maybe Yoongi doesn't hate Jimin as much as he thought.

Maybe he doesn't hate Jimin at all.

(Fuck.)

***

Yoongi tries not to panic, but holding panic at bay feels like trying to stop a dam with his fingers. One crack, one spouting leak, fine. But it's been a little under two weeks since Yoongi last saw Jimin and he's run out of fingers, so to speak.

After the escape room, after they all go to a diner for milkshakes and him and Jimin do nothing but trade sneaky glances and zero conversation, after Hoseok and Seokjin corner Yoongi on the drive home and scream for half an hour about "The Yoonmin Portrait" via the instagram photo, after Yoongi lies awake for the entire night, totally not thinking at all about Jimin’s mouth, after all of that, Yoongi just—doesn’t run into Jimin.

He writes up texts to send, then deletes them. He finds reasons to swing by Taehyung's, paltry excuses that barely hold up, but Jimin never seems to be around. He's busy, and so is Yoongi, and that has always been the case with them. Only now it's weird, because Yoongi actively wants to see Jimin. But he can’t. If Jimin is around, he's running out the door, or he's sound asleep, or he's talking to Yoongi in a very cordial way. Maybe because Taehyung is in the room every time they interact. Or maybe because he hates Yoongi and regrets everything that happened at the escape room. Yoongi tries not to dwell on it.

They ride the train together, just once. The day the panic dam breaks. Yoongi scoots over in the seat and offers an earbud, hope fluttering beneath his breastbone. But Jimin has dark circles beneath bloodshot eyes and a sway to the frame that bleeds fatigue, and the hope stills once more. Yoongi wants to ask, he almost asks, almost offers his coffee even though he knows Jimin won't drink it but—they're not exactly friends. They don't ask questions like this. They don't talk about these things. And before he knows it Jimin is politely rejecting the earbud and going over choreography notes in silence, dark brows creased, leg jostling, the very personification of stress. Halfway through the commute one of the other dance majors gets on the train and jogs over yo Jimin, dude and they begin talking intensely about rehearsal in a blow by blow and, yes, Yoongi knows that something is up but also he doesn't know how to breach that, or get over that, or functionally communicate, period.

So—panic.

So—Plan B: Never talk to boys again. Become a hermit. Relocate to Guam.

It's going swimmingly.

***

In a roundabout way, Yoongi tries to broach the subject three times.

He's eaten his pint of ice cream and he's moped enough and thought through it enough and now that he's thought through it, he has some shit to say. Because he's maybe quite possibly a little in love with Park Jimin, and it's kind of pissing him off.

If he's going to be in love, he’s going to be dragged kicking and screaming.

"You know, I'd like to think that we're at a point in our longstanding friendship where nothing makes me uncomfortable, but I was wrong. This is crossing a line," says Namjoon.

"Shut up and pause your jerk off session for just five minutes. This is important."

"Fuck, what now."

"Do you remember when you tried to tell me about the subconscious and the id and all that bullshit and I just shouted penis envy at you until you shut up?"

"You mean every conversation we've ever had where you don't listen to me? Yup."

"Kay well I take that back. Tell me more about what to do if someone says or does something but maybe they didn't mean to."

The shower water turns abruptly off. Namjoon peeks his head out from around the corner, expression flat. "This can't wait?"

Yoongi shakes his head, stubborn.

Namjoon sighs, turns the shower back on. "I was listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. You're really killing my vibe here."

"Cool. Great. Glad to know your super old music tastes are more important than my personal crisis."

"Fucking hell hyung, if you're in love with Jimin just tell him,” Namjoon bellows.

"I hope you have blue balls for the rest of the day,” Yoongi shouts back, slamming the door.

***

"Here's my theory," he starts, hitting the ground running. "Nobody 'falls' in love. It's a conscious choice."

Hoseok blinks at him, halfway through buttering a waffle. “Well, this wasn't the conversation I was prepared to have at seven in the morning. Care to elaborate on this theory?"

"Nobody 'falls'. You either walk into it willingly or you're dragged kicking and screaming. It's just something I've been thinking about lately."

"Mm." Hoseok eyes him. "Any particular reason why?"

"Also," pipes in Seokjin. "Does it matter either way whether you're dragged or you fall? Isn't there literally a quote that goes love is love is love? Like. No matter how you look at it or rearrange the pretty words around it: that's love, bitch."

The kitchen of their apartment is tangerine orange and summer warm, in absolute denial of the frigid blizzard raging just outside. Hoseok and Seokjin must have painted it since Yoongi was here last, the walls were once pale grey and a little sad but now everything feels doused in sunlight, like the kitchen window doesn't actually face a solid brick wall of another apartment building identical to theirs.

There's a stack of Belgian waffles in front of Yoongi, because even though he swore he just wanted to swing by, Hoseok interpreted such a text to mean he and Seokjin role out a whole smorgasbord of hospitality. Yoongi opted for tea instead.

("No coffee, just tea. Licorice, if you have it," he'd said, not acknowledging the long look Hoseok gave him before placing the coffee filters back in the cupboard and snagging a tea bag.

Yoongi feels like he can't drink coffee anymore. Like he's given himself a literal complex about it. He keeps craving the stuff at Tae's place, even though he knows he can buy his own of the same brand, it wouldn't be the same.

So, licorice.

He thinks he'd tasted it somewhere (he knows exactly where) and gotten addicted, because he’s been craving it, though he doesn't even really like the flavor, all that sweet sweet sweet.)

"That's love, bitch," Yoongi repeats. "Thanks for the wonderful and completely unhelpful advice."

Seokjin groans, angrily waves his fork-and-waffle at Yoongi. "Yah, can you just fucking fess up already and tell us what's going on?"

Yoongi blinks. "Nothing's going on."

"Cut the shit, Yoongi," Seokjin snaps. "We know something happened the other night at the escape room. That instagram was oozing sexual tension. Only Jimin's a closed book and bolts every time we ask. And you're acting like Eomukkie and Odengie when I start using the vacuum."

"I don't know what that means."

"Like you're about to flee the country and move to Guam, darling," says Hoseok gently.

"Traitor, I told you about Guam in confidence—"

"So you guys kissed." Hoseok says, eyes narrowed, because he knows Yoongi all too well. "You kissed, and you haven't talked about it.

Yoongi chugs his tea and scalds his tongue. Resurfaces after choking only to make a garbled noise with no discernible words, so Seokjin leans in, a sympathetic smile on his face. "How bad is it, Yoongi-yah?"

Good question. How bad is a half-boner that lasted upwards of four hours and a night that ended with Yoongi staring up at the ceiling and not getting a minute of sleep?

"Like, fourteen. Fourteen bad." Yoongi lets his head slam sharply on the formica. ”It's so bad. Like. He kissed me. I didn't even start it. It was him. And I thought I was going to die. But then he never brought it up again and acted like it never happened? I don't know. I think I have a secret masochist kink. That like. Makes me fall for people who would hurt me."

"Why would you ever assume that Jimin would hurt you?"

"Well, not like, deliberately. But like. Because he doesn't like me the way I like him. It's not intentional. It's just. Collateral. Doesn't matter how nice, how good," Yoongi breaks off. "It doesn't matter how much Jimin doesn't mean to hurt me. It's just part of rejection. Nobody's fault. Except for maybe mine for being such a dumbshit."

“Question. In all of this conjecturing and theorizing, have you bothered to talk to Jimin about this?"

"Are you crazy," Yoongi snorts. "Communication? In this economy?"

"Maybe he wants to talk to you."

"Or maybe he, like you, is booking a one way ticket to Guam in a state of gay panic."

"Yeah right." Yoongi snorts. "I feel like I would have read the signs by now if Jimin wanted anything to do with me."

He looks up at his friends to find them staring, both varying degrees of incredulous to dissociating from reality.

"I really can't with this,” Seokjin says, shoving another bite of waffle in his mouth. "This is physically aging me. I can't have this kind of negativity in my house, babe."

"Look," Yoongi blurts in a rush, more for the sake of trying to cover for how absolutely stupid he feels as he sits here, wasting their time spilling his guts, or whatever. "I don't know what else to say it just. Frustrates me how hard this all is. You guys make it seem so easy. Love, relationships, dating, all that mess. You never fight. You always think alike and get along. You are literal couple goals in every sense of the word. And I've got no fucking clue how to even tell someone I like them."

Jin and Hoseok share a second long glance before they both break out into laughter. Seokjin laugh so hard he cries.

"Jesus christ," he chokes, slapping a hand on the counter. "Oh my god. Min Yoongi, you absolute comedian."

"Sorry but," Hoseok snorts. "Hyung and I do not always get along."

"We argue all the time.

"Like. Constantly."

"Yeah, but when you fight it's about stupid things. Trivial things. What colors are you going to wear on your upcoming tennis date and how will you complement it kind of things. What kind of cake they're going to serve at your wedding."

"First of all, we've already decided on red velvet cupcakes with buttercream frosting, how dare you accuse us of disagreeing on the most important decision factor of any relationship."

"Second of all," tacks on Hoseok, a little more gently. "We fight about hard things too. Adult things. Like 'I had a terrible day and I need you to not make jokes right now because it's actually hurting my feelings' kind of things."

"That's a recurring fight of ours." Seokjin nods. He settles in closer to Hoseok on the barstool, idly slipping an arm around his waist, loose with unbothered affection. Hoseok makes a cheesy grimace, even as he briefly nuzzles against Seokjin's cheek. "Sometimes one of us wants to cuddle while the other one just wants to do a face mask and go to bed. We've been together for a while but—even now we're still getting the knack of how to read the room with each other."

"Yeah. Personally, we also suck at admitting when we are upset to the other. Like, we're both weirdly obsessed with being people pleasers. It's a hard habit to break."

"It's a constant work in progress with us."

"But do we love each other? Yeah."

"Do we still bone like nine times a day? Hell yeah."

"Really didn't need to hear that last one," Yoongi cringes.

"Sorry bitch, you asked for our advice, you get it with the bonus commentary. Point is, if it were all easy easy it wouldn't be love, hyung."

He thinks, briefly, of how it seemed that way for them. Easy. Hoseok and Seokjin have been in domestic bliss since the beginning of college. Since as long as Yoongi's known them. He remembers Hoseok showing up to hang out after their first date and like. Humming old school Taylor Swift while twirling around the living room. He was that deliriously happy. Yoongi could never quite wrap his mind around it. The notion that two people could be so in love.

He can't even bring himself to talk to Jimin as a starting point. So how the fuck is he gonna get to the humming Taylor Swift part?

"But that's stupid," Yoongi says, and he doesn't know why his eyes are prickling at the corners as he says it but they are. "That's so stupid. Why wouldn't it be easy. It's all the other shit in life that's supposed to be hard, that's not supposed to make any sense. If it's called 'falling' in love, why isn't it easy? Falling is easy."

"I mean, sure, if you want to fixate on that vaguely confusing metaphor," Seokjin concedes, pausing before he brightens. "Thing is though, you still have to be brave enough to jump before you fall."

"Nice one babe." Hoseok beams, and they kiss, Hoseok thumbing at a splotch of syrup on Jin's chin.

"Y'all are useless," Yoongi groans, but he sees the point. Or, at the very least, he's beginning to.

***

Jump, then fall.

He turns the thought over in his head, like pouring water through a sieve, scraping out the tiniest particles. Over, then over again.

Jump then fall.

It's not that he doesn't get it. It's just that nobody "falls" in love. Falling is an unpleasant feeling, in Yoongi's experience. No one likes falling.

"You're being really specific with your word choice,” Taehyung points out, before he passes Yoongi a joint. "Like. Weirdly so."

They're not stoned out of their minds. It's more of a mellow high. The kind of calm and listless that Yoongi's brain has needed for the past few days. So when Tae hit him up earlier to smoke up like they used to when they were teens, crawling onto rooftops so they didn't get caught—it was kind of a no brainer.

(He hadn't asked if Jimin was home. Taehyung gave that information voluntarily: Jimin-ah's at some dance retreat, won't be back until Monday, I think he's got some big audition coming up.

Yoongi had looked at Jimin's bedroom door—so often open, spilling light out into the hallway, and tried not to feel stung.)

"I'm just saying, 's dumb. Falling in love sounds so romantic, when the fact of the matter is that you basically have no choice in the matter."

"I mean…yeah. 'Dragged kicking and screaming into love' rolls off the tongue a little less fluidly."

Yoongi takes another drag. He wants to reach that state of high where nothing bothers him. But the unfortunate fact of inebriation is that you bring your bullshit with you sometimes. Sometimes a niggling worry becomes a full blown paranoia. Which he doesn’t want.

"Is this about what I think it's about."

"What do you think it's about."

"Yoongi-hyung."

"Taehyung."

"Are you in love?”

Ain’t that the question of the hour.

"Yes? No? I don't know,” says Yoongi says, and it's true.

He really doesn’t know. This doesn't feel sweet, the way he thought love would. It feels more terrifying, and not in a good way. "Starting to worried that I'm like, cursed to fall in love in these ridiculous ways that will only get me hurt in the end.”

“I mean, that depends on the person.”

“We're like two negatives. We don't work."

"Opposites don't always attract, hyung."

"Then why do I feel so scared," Yoongi blinks at the ceiling fan, the haze of smoke. "Isn't this supposed to feel good? This should feel good. I do not feel good. I feel like I'm gonna throw up. Constantly. I feel like I'm going to crawl out of my skin."

"Well, I think that's part of it," says Taehyung thoughtfully. "Being taken out of yourself just a little. When you're in love you're still you, just. Better. Forced to be more of yourself than you're used to being. That's my interpretation of it, at least."

Yoongi thinks of all the gentle things pried out of him by Jimin. All the things he'd felt over the past few months that were new and without shape and therefore scary. He thinks about how he buys produce now, on the regular. He thinks about how his lyrics feel softer, a little more alive and a little less angry. How he's started watching more dance choreography videos with the sound turned off, tracing the beats that the dancers hit and seeing if he can pull his own kind of music from that. He thinks about falling asleep on the train. About Jimin's hands in his hair. About being unmade, coming undone, in tiny infinitesimal ways.

All terrifying things. But not necessarily bad things.

"Are you?" Yoongi asks after a moment, turning over on his side, pillowing his elbow under his head. "Have you?"

Taehyung frowns. He hasn't dated anyone in a while. In high school, there was a parade of girls, and some boys too; everyone loved and loves Taehyung. And then—

"I don't think it works like that for me," Taehyung says slowly, an edge of developing vulnerability in the words, a rumble of shyness. "I've thought about it for a long time. I think stuff like sex and love isn't like, the most important to me. I don't miss it when it's gone. I don't ever think about wanting it. And for a long time that used to worry me, like, is something wrong with me, am I broken, I dunno. But. It's not a sad thing? I'm not sad about it. I guess I've filled that void in a way. Or, it’s just a different sort of void altogether."

"What do you mean?"

"Like. Where some people crave a significant other I'm more—it's my friendships. And I thought for the longest time it was not having a boyfriend or a girlfriend but then I got you guys. I got the best friends in the world. And everything sort of clicked into place and realized I was living my best life and I'd never really wanted that one thing in the first place. I'm so happy right now with all of you in my life. I don't really need anything else. Sorry, that sounds stupid."

The room is quiet. Taehyung's brow is furrowed and his eyes are closed. Like he's bracing himself for something.

"Hard to explain but like. I know that I want kids. But I want them regardless of having a partner. When I picture it, it's just me with kids. And while I know that I'm very capable of loving someone and being loved, it’s not a priority, being in a relationship. It's not even a blip on the radar, honestly. Not in the way it should be."

"There's no right and wrong way to love, Tae." Yoongi's words sound smoke cracked and quiet. "Plus, you're the biggest love bug out of all of us. Romance not required."

"Guess I could say the same to you, then."

"Say what."

Taehyung rolls on his side now, looking at Yoongi. “That there's no wrong way to love. No mathematical formula that's gonna give you the exact numbers to the right one. Even if it's in a jagged, sideways, lopsided sort of way. Even if it's different. Even if it's the last person you'd expect. It can't be wrong if it's something good."

"I was worried for a bit," Yoongi croaks. "Like. We didn't get off on the right foot, me and him. I was worried that something was wrong with me like I couldn't possibly—like I was falling for someone who would hurt me."

Because Yoongi had been with cruel people before. He'd loved people who turned out to be cold, or thought he was cold. This isn't that. He may not know how Jimin feels but he does know who Jimin is. Jimin is not cruel.

"But he wouldn't."

"Yeah," Yoongi agrees. "He wouldn’t."

The smoke haze in the room has finally settled, cleared.

"Sorry for the super soul baring conversation. Let's never do that again," says Taehyung, holding out his hand and lacing his fingers through Yoongi’s. It’s the kind of comforting gesture they've done ever since they were kids, made to hold hands and get along whenever they'd fight over toys in the sand box.

“Deal," Yoongi says, and squeezes Tae's hand back. "Only, I have one more question."

Because it's not like he has a single ounce of dignity left anyway.

“What’s up?"

"Does Jimin sing?"

"Like, professionally?"

"No. Like, at all. Can he sing. Does he sing." Yoongi feels like he couldn't be more obvious if he tried. Like he's gone and pasted his own jagged, lopsided, sideways kind of love across his forehead. A damn billboard sign.

Taehyung doesn't laugh though. He doesn't even grin all smug. He looks at Yoongi with the kindest eyes and says, "Yeah. Not often, he's kind of shy about it, because he’s ever taken lessons like Jeonggukie. But I’ve heard him in the shower a few times. He’s good. Keeps it a secret but I know he likes it deep down. He always sings when he’s happy. I don’t even think he realizes it.”

That night. The train. The light raspy tune over the click clack of the tracks.

Everything in Yoongi feels late summer ripe. Tender and exposed, skin tight with trying to hold everything beneath. Just one prick, and he'd be dripping sweetness all over the floor.

***

Okay. So Yoongi loves Jimin. In his own crooked, lopsided, topsy turvy kind of way.

When he comes home from Taehyung’s to find Namjoon seated on the kitchen floor, staring up at the ceiling, it just seems right.

"Mind if I join you?" Yoongi grabs a pillow and a blanket from the couch and trots over.

Namjoon hums, gestures to the tile like he'd been saving it for Yoongi. He hands over the pint of Ben & Jerry's like he knew Yoongi would want some. Yoongi slides down the wall opposite him and stretches out his legs. Digs into the Cherry Garcia.

"You want to go first? Or should I,” Namjoon asks, a spoon hanging from his mouth.

"You."

"Cool, so. I like Jeongguk. Or, he likes me. We almost kissed. Like, almost-almost, but then I completely panicked and shut him down, even after he told me how he felt, because I am a fucking coward. And we haven't talked since."

"Nice."

"No, not nice. I feel terrible. What kind of monster am I."

"He's twenty-one, not twelve. He can handle himself, and you're not exactly an overbearing dude."

"Fine. Don't be sympathetic, asshole. Your turn."

"Okay. I'm in love with Jimin. Unlike you, however, we did kiss. But we also haven’t talked since.”

He waits for the barbed fucking told you so you dumbass, but it doesn't come.

It's kind of almost worse when Yoongi looks up and finds Namjoon looking at him, the way his eyes are nothing but big and sad. It's the kind of look he gets when he watches the news sometimes. Or reads a really intense book. Like he can suddenly feel and perceive all the endless suffering of the world and he hates himself because he's only one person and doesn't know how to fix everything at once. As if it's his job to.

"Nice," Namjoon says, and grabs the pint back from Yoongi, spoons out a sizable hunk into his mouth. "What a pair we make."

Somehow, it's the most comforting thing he could have said and done. Somehow, impossibly, it makes Yoongi feel better. Like between both of their thick skulls, they'll manage to figure it out.

"Yeah," Yoongi says, trying to will away the sudden choked up feeling throbbing in his chest. He steals the pint back from Namjoon a second later, ignoring his indignant squawk. "What a pair."

***

jimin
hey

yoongi
i dont have a gig tonight
what's on fire

jimin
nothing
how are you?

yoongi
fine

jimin
good, that's good.
busy week then? how are classes going?

yoongi
are you ok?

jimin
yeah!
actually not really
could you come over?
it's not an emergency or anything, i really am fine
its just normally taetae is home but he's not rn
actually
you know what nvm
ignore all of this sry

yoongi
? wha
jimin-ah

jimin
really its nothing
im being a huge baby
sorry

yoongi
leaving the studio rn

jimin
hyung! please dont on my account
its so dumb

yoongi
great, i love dumb
cant wait

***

"I'm sorry," is the first thing that comes rushing out of Jimin's mouth when he opens the door for Yoongi half an hour later. There are shadowed smudges under his eyes and he looks deeply uncomfortable, like he regrets every single thing he is saying and doing as it happens. "You really didn't have to come. I'm fine, I am, I’m just being dramatic."

"Yeah well, we take shifts with that," Yoongi says, waving Jimin off as he closes the door behind them. "It's your turn."

Jimin huffs a laugh that sounds cracked, almost immediately retreats to the couch. Fluffing the pillows, fidgeting. His hair's a little damp looking, skin pink and scrubbed, like he just finished a very long and rigorous shower. He's very clean looking but he's—off. Something about his posture, the way he moves, seems wounded. Like he's limping and trying to hide it.

Yoongi glances elsewhere. "It's quiet."

Jimin nods, but it comes off as more of a shudder.

This isn't so unusual for the apartment, but there's usually some sort of background music. Taehyung playing old records, talking loudly, playing video games. Or the upstairs neighbors talking through the floor, loud bursts of laughter. Dogs barking down the hall. It's like the entire floor decided to relocate on the exact same day.

It makes Yoongi even more painfully aware that this is the first time he’s been alone with Jimin since—

"Anyways," Jimin's pushing out words like it physically pains him, all with the most polite smile on his face. "Tae's on his field trip with his art history class, which I totally forgot about. I shouldn’t have texted I just," he looks at Yoongi for the briefest flicker, "I'm really bad at being alone sometimes. Pathetic, I know."

Yoongi shrugs. "Not really." He looks at Jimin, the odd way Jimin curls around himself, like he's nursing a bruised rib.

are you okay? he wants to ask, but bites the words back, puts a muzzle on them. I know this is us and we don't talk about things like that but are you okay, are you alright, are you hurting—

"I hope I wasn't interrupting anything. At the studio."

Jimin is talking in cringes, in faked smiles. Yoongi's not good at being subtle, has never been able to tiptoe a goddamn day in his life. He doesn't necessarily see himself as gentle or soft, though he tries very hard to be. His form of comfort with Namjoon or Hoseok is to go to throw their favorite junk food at them and say talk bitch but Namjoon and Hoseok are not necessarily Jimin and Yoongi doesn't—doesn't.

"Nah," Yoongi says, mind working on a way to bring up a subject he’s never even touched on with Jimin. "Today was a bust. The crap I made today does not even begin to qualify as music. One of those days where I didn't even feel like an artist."

Jimin lifts his head up from where he's leaning against the couch, a sign of life. "Yeah? Me too."

"You too?" Yoongi generally moves like a turtle does, all shuffle and no grace, but he tries his best for casual as he sits on the opposite end of the couch.

"Yeah," Jimin nods, looking a little bolstered. "It was just. It was shit. It was complete absolute fucking shit, hyung."

"Yeah?" Yoongi parrots back, egging him on. "Tell me about it. Tell me about how shit life is."

Jimin opens his mouth like he’s at last ready to unload, but then his stomach makes an ungodly rumbling sound, startling both of them.

"Well," he's not exactly smiling, but it's a near thing to it. “I haven’t had a thing to eat all day. Except for coffee. That was definitely a shit thing."

"Oh hell Park Jiminie, you drank coffee?”

"I did." Jimin nods. "It was the worst ordeal I've ever been through. My stomach hurt so bad, but I had to, I was so tired.”

"Are you hungry?"

Jimin cringes again. "Not really. But maybe I should…"

Yoongi wants to say something soothing, but he doesn't think Jimin would like that. Even something as simple as let hyung take care of you might come off as patronizing. Jimin doesn't like being coddled. He likes being his own person and being trusted to figure things out.

Yoongi can't necessarily take care of him. Shouldn’t. Wouldn’t, unless Jimin asked him to. He settles for the next best thing.

Fifteen minutes later, Jimin is sitting on the couch looking at—

"It's a salad," says Yoongi, even though the monstrosity sitting inside the bowl on Jimin's lap is decidedly not salad.

Like, there's lettuce in the bowl. There's definitely green leaves in the bowl. But it's not—nothing about this at all constitutes something decent.

But then, that's kind of the point. If Yoongi can't gently pry Jimin out of his shell, then maybe Yoongi can drag him kicking and screaming.

Yoongi watches as Jimin takes a bite, chew thoughtfully.

"This is good," Jimin says, and Yoongi's never seen a more agonized expression on a human being. The smile he pulls off is a valiant effort, but a cry for help. “I like it. Thanks hyung."

Good god, Yoongi wants to laugh, except for some reason he knows that Jimin isn't fighting him on it, isn’t fighting him at all, and that for some reason makes him want to cry.

"No, it's not, tell the truth,” Yoongi says. "Don't be nice."

Jimin takes another bite, stubborn. "This salad is delicious."

"Bullshit."

"It's delicious and I love it."

"C'mon, Park Jiminie, fight me on this," Yoongi growls, and it's stupid that they're having this sort of stalemate over a freaking salad. It is actually stupid. "I put peanut butter in it, for fuck's sake. You're eating peanut butter and iceberg lettuce. Don't lie."

Jimin looks up at that, brow furrowing. "But I hate peanut butter."

Yoongi raises his eyebrows. "Yeah, I know."

It was supposed get Jimin to laugh. Smile. Smirk and call Yoongi an abomination unto the culinary arts. Maybe rant a little bit about what's got him in such a mood after the fact.

It was not supposed to make him cry.

“Oh—," Yoongi stares as Jimin wilts right in front of him, setting his tipping bowl aside, pulling his knees to his chest.

For a solid few seconds Yoongi almost considers walking right out of the apartment. It feels like Jimin wants space, and Yoongi will sprint out of here to give it to him if he has to. He will run out and wipe this whole experience from his mind if Jimin asked it of him. But Jimin doesn't ask for that. He just sort of wilts, and Yoongi—

"Hey, hey, none of that."

"What do you care?" Jimin snaps, trying to hide his face, the obvious tears. "You hate me."

"Just because you're my mortal enemy that I've sworn to hate for all eternity doesn't mean I want to see you cry. What kind of glutton for punishment would that make me? C'mere," Yoongi says, opening his legs in a sprawl and tugging Jimin straight into his lap. Pulling them together in an awkward sprawl.

They've never actually hugged. But Yoongi's had enough experience maneuvering a sleeping Jimin, making sure he doesn't fall over and bang his head on the train window, hurt his neck sleeping on Yoongi's shoulder during movie night. He knows where Jimin fits against him. The crying, that's new, but Yoongi lets it happen. Quells the panic in his chest that says he's too emotionally stunted to handle this. That someone—Taehyung, Joon, anyone—could handle it better.

If Jimin can deal with Yoongi at his crankiest, his lowest fumes, then Yoongi can do the same. They're not the same emotions necessarily, but maybe the simple fact of vulnerability makes up the difference.

Then Jimin is speaking again, and Yoongi pulls the plug on all his rushing thoughts.

"Do you ever just—feel like shit. Shit at everything. And no matter how hard you try to be better, it's never enough. You're either sloppy or too late or too short or not skinny enough and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how many hours of work you've put in. No one sees that. They only see the end result, but you fucked up the end result, so all the hard work might as well be fucked too."

"Yeah," says Yoongi. “Yeah, I do."

"Okay. Well, it's that."

"You had that audition.” It dawns on Yoongi right as he says it, the way they kept missing each other, the stress emanating from Jimin’s pores. “For that internship.”

"Yeah."

"Bad?"

Jimin nods. "I tried too hard. Which like, you wouldn't think that's a thing, but it is. I was too in my head and they could tell. And like, it's fine. There are other dance internships. There are other shots. This isn't the end of the world."

"That doesn't mean you're not allowed to care."

A shuddery sigh releases against his shoulder, Jimin's voice a mere whisper. "I care. A lot."

The admission seems to break something in him, and he sags against Yoongi's shoulder. Just like on the train all those late nights, only now he clings.

He cares. Of course he cares. You can't look at Jimin, all the raw effort he puts in and think he does anything but. But admitting an investment in something, how vulnerable it makes you, is it's own difficulty.

"Park Jiminie," Yoongi whispers, useless, the word getting caught in his throat, a lump to swallow around.

"I'm sorry," Jimin sounds like he's biting something back, even as he quakes against Yoongi, holds tight. "I was fine. It was literally hours ago. I thought I was fine at first, just a bit bummed, but then I guess I had the rest of the day to fixate on it and panic because like, what if I'm pursuing the wrong career. What if I never get any better. What if I ruin every audition after this. What if I've jinxed myself. And the apartment was so quiet, hyung. And I was sitting here just drowning in this sudden panic and frustration and. I don't know. I really didn't want to bother you but I couldn't think of anyone who would like, get it. Who wouldn't try to fix everything.”

“You’re not bothering me, I’m glad you called. Jimin, listen, I’m really glad you called me.”

The realization falls on Yoongi then, soft as powdered snow. We are so alike, he thinks, even though he had an inkling of it before. He knows by now that his feelings for Jimin would exist with or without that commonality. But knowing it’s there stills something, something rattled loose in his chest. Knowing it’s there mends it and holds it down with duct tape, with superglue, with cement.

If it were him (and it has, on many occasions—been him) crying on the couch in the middle of the night, what would Yoongi want to hear?

But. No, that’s not right. Because Yoongi isn't Jimin. They are so alike, but Jimin deserves to be treated with the same autonomy that Yoongi would demand.

For a while, he doesn't say anything more. Lets Jimin tremble in his arms, lets them both pretend that Jimin's not crying. He feels damp tears on his skin but ignores them, instead allowing Jimin the privacy of ducking his face in Yoongi's neck, pressing his nose along his throat, hands curled in the material of Yoongi's hoodie.

Yoongi waits out the shaking, like earthquake aftershocks, weighs it all in the richter scale of his solar plexus and tries not to look down until he feels them fade out entirely. Until Jimin's breathing evens out.

The words feel awkward and so so heavy on his tongue but Yoongi gets them out there. Has to.

"How can I help you feel better?" he asks, sometime later, after the quiet has crept back into the room, less oppressive and more of a comfort.

Jimin tenses, but he doesn't move to get up, allowing Yoongi to stumble and rephrase the question. They're not looking at each other but everything about this conversation, the careful way with which Yoongi is speaking, feels like acknowledging a larger Something that Jimin will be able to hear in his tone alone.

"I meant, what do you want from me, if anything," the words sound so damn loud, even though Yoongi's basically whispering them into Jimin's soft soft hair. "Do you want me to bestow sage old man Min advice? Do you want comfort? I sing like a dying cat in heat, but if that would help—"

"Just," Jimin sighs. "Tell me what to do. What the fuck do I even do. I feel so awful. Like I'll never be able to dance again. Like I broke both my legs. All because of one audition, and that's so lame, hyung, but I feel so weak—"

"Did I ever tell you about the time I got hit by a car?"

Jimin pauses, shakes his head.

"I did. It was really dumb. I was out on a bike delivery job—I used to deliver early morning papers like, freshman year. And I got hit by a car. It was my fault; I couldn't afford a bike light so I just didn't use one, even though I'd be out before the sun was up. It was so dumb, but it fucked up my shoulder for a while. I couldn't afford food because I had to quit my job. I used to sell my music tracks to afford bus money so I could get to campus. One song sometimes only got me a single train ride."

Silence, then, "That's awful. Is this supposed to make me feel better? You're terrible at this."

"The point is," continues Yoongi firmly, "I limped around with a bum shoulder for months before Seokjin-hyung finally referred me to one of his friends in med-school who gave me free PT. And it was ass. The whole situation: ass. But I learned endurance. Learned to suck it up and swallow down the bitter pill and got better for it."

Jimin doesn't sound so confused now, makes a soft humming noise, like he understands, like he gets it. Yoongi takes that as a sign to continue.

"You work really hard," he says, parsing the words out. "You work really, really fucking hard Park Jiminie. But that doesn't mean you're not going to ever fuck up. But, whether you keep working despite that makes all the difference. The people that make it, the people that are almost perfect, they got there because they kept going even after they fucked it all up."

It's not advice Yoongi doles out often. Some people don't react well to it. That kind of grit your teeth and barrel through the shit mentality. Maybe Jimin won’t get it, but Yoongi's got a feeling that he might.

"Does that make sense?" he asks, after a beat. "I don't mean it in a condescending way. I just…I see you. And I hope you know that what feels like the end of everything—it's not. It's just going to be a day you look back on in five, ten years and the only thing you're going to remember about this day is the fact that your hyung tried to kill you with a peanut butter and lettuce salad. All the other stuff is just junk and noise, Park Jiminie. You're not even gonna remember it."

At last, Jimin lifts up his head. He's stopped crying, but his eyelashes are stuck together in little spikes. His cheeks are a little swollen and blotchy. He looks at Yoongi for a long time.

"Thank you,” he says, in the smallest voice.

That—that unsettles Yoongi. Disarms him. He’d been expecting a joke and gotten this instead. Jimin being sweet. Sincere.

He scratches at the back of his neck. "No big deal."

"But it is." Jimin sits up now, between the vee of Yoongi’s legs. He is looking at Yoongi so intensely, it’s impossible to look away. "I feel like I don't say that enough to you and I know it doesn't seem like it now but I already feel a lot better. So thank you."

"You don't need to thank me."

"I absolutely do," Jimin intones. “Thank you, hyung.”

"No," says Yoongi, getting flustered again. "No, stop, Jimin, I'm trying to—"

“Shush,” Jimin says, pressing his fingers over Yoongi's lips and—

Yoongi doesn't know what cable in his brain decides to disconnect from the mainframe or if he's really just been this broken the entire time but Jimin puts his fingers over Yoongi’s mouth and he just.

Kisses them.

Which isn't quite as holy god embarrassing as last time his mouth met Jimin's hand but. It's up there, for sure. Yoongi kisses the tips of Jimin's fingers, on reflex, like somewhere in that goddamn escape room a very essential part of Yoongi's framework got rewired to respond a certain way every time Park Jimin touches his mouth. Pavlov's homosexual.

Fucking. Hell.

There's no way Yoongi is gonna make it out of this alive.

"Um." Jimin's eyes are comically wide, jaw dropping open as he takes his hand back. "Did you—what?"

Yoongi can feel the incredible heat stealing over his cheeks, knows he's blushing, and like, should probably dial it back. Brush this off, pretend it never happened. You don't have to thank me, Jimin. Seriously, it's no big deal. I'd do it again, if I had to.

But before Yoongi can even get the words out—Jimin presses his fingers back over Yoongi's mouth. Firmer.

"Do that again."

For a second, Yoongi just looks at him. Sometimes Yoongi looks at Park Jimin and it's like he can see a million and one thoughts churning away, but not one is discernible from the other. Like trying to pick out a single pebble out of a maelstrom.

Only now—now he can see those thoughts, in the shine of Jimin's wide eyes. Do that again, Jimin says, but his eyes tack on the if you want, do it if you want.

Yoongi wants.

So he does it again. This time wraps his own fingers around Jimin's dainty wrist, pulls Jimin a little closer. Presses a kiss to one finger tip, then the other. Lets his bottom lip drag a bit on the whorl of a fingerprint. Slow slow.

Then he draws back, mouth buzzing. Mind a white noise hum.

"And here," Jimin suddenly pouts, thrusting his hand out fully, the heel of his palm exposed just below his sleeve.

Yoongi kisses Jimin's wrist, the thin warm skin there. Jimin's skin smells like soap and licorice, so sweet it almost makes his teeth ache.

His eyes flick to Jimin's. Jimin's cheeks are so pink, lips gently parted.

"Here, hyung. Here too." Jimin taps an index finger on his exposed collarbone just beneath the neckline of his shirt, tilts his jaw just so. He's gaining confidence as he goes, a little bossier. A little less shy. A little more coloring outside of the lines.

Here is closer than before so Yoongi carefully, so carefully, maneuvers Jimin in his lap, wrapping his arms slow around Jimin's torso. Jimin's basically straddling him by now, so that's cool, that's chill, and now they're close enough for Yoongi to brush his mouth over Jimin's collar bones, trace and drag along the line until he's reached the base of Jimin's throat.

There, in the tiny divot, he presses a slower, more deliberate kiss. Listens to the whoosh of air as Jimin lets out a breath.

He listens for the next here, but Jimin doesn't speak this time, just points at the corner of his mouth, the tiniest dimple Yoongi's ever seen as his lips twist in a half smile. Yoongi sways forward like he's drunk, the kiss landing almost sloppily because fuck him, he might actually be trembling.

He pulls back, but doesn’t go too far. Jimin’s looking down at him now, eyes dark. Yoongi wants to pepper kisses all over his cheeks and his damp eyelashes but he waits. Waits until Jimin asks for it. Until Jimin wants it.

"My turn, hyung," Jimin hums, unhooking one of Yoongi's arms from where it's looped around his waist. "My turn. Tell me—"

Yoongi—may have forgotten basic vocabulary. Maybe. He holds his hand up like a damn puppet, or a kid playing one of those command games; Jimin Says.

Jimin smiles, for real, and his one crooked tooth is so damn sweet. When he kisses the dry skin of Yoongi's palm, his nose squishes just a bit, and it honest to fucking god makes Yoongi want to cry. Which is the weirdest reaction in the history of ever to having someone sitting in your lap and kissing you, but whatever. They're definitely past the point of weird now.

Maybe they have always been past it. Maybe they have always been here, in a way.

Yoongi knows he playfully joked at one point about Jimin being a witch or a demon or some sort of cursed imp but he's starting to wonder if that's actually true, as Jimin turns over his hand, brushes his mouth over the knuckles, the calluses there. He kisses the knob of Yoongi's bony wrist and says, "Tell me if you want to stop."

"Do you." The words come out like something Yoongi's choking on. "Do you want to stop."

Jimin shakes head head very seriously, mouth brushing over Yoongi's forearm, making goosebumps. "I've sort of wanted to do this forever, hyung. I don't want to stop, unless you want to."

They stare at each other, weight in the words.

Then Yoongi, slowly, holds out his other hand.

Then Jimin takes it, the smallest smile curving about his lips.

Then, in between kisses, because he's the goddamn devil like that, Jimin says, "I've liked you for so long, hyung. So so so long."

He says it like it's nothing. Like they're talking about literally any other subject. Meanwhile everything in Yoongi—every organ, every bone, his own goddamn dick—just sort of evaporates. He's not operating on a plane of existence that's human, that's how shaken to his core he is.

Jimin kisses every which one of Yoongi's finger tips, quick brief bursts of contact. Kisses Yoongi's palms again, lingers at the calluses.

"Tell me where," breathes Jimin.

Speech isn’t possible right now but Yoongi gives non-verbal communication his best attempt. Points out places in increments like those neon orange tags that go on the old diseased trees in parks. Markers that say this one. right here. burn it to the ground. Because that's very much what this feels like right now. Small little brush fires. Controlled burning, to prevent the whole thing from going up in flames all at once.

Yoongi points and Jimin, like wildfire, goes.

"I like how smart you are," he whispers into the crease of Yoongi's elbow, where Yoongi can feel the smile like an imprint. "And how it makes you funny. And kind. And how it allows you to make music that makes people care."

"I like your ambition and your dedication. And how it's not something everyone gets. But I get it. I like it." This, into Yoongi's neck, about his pulse point, that oddly vulnerable spot behind his left ear.

"I like how your music makes me want to sing, sing for you." This, beneath the angle of his jaw, underscored by Yoongi's own heartbeat slamming, breath hitching in his chest.

"I like your shitty taste in coffee." Into his clavicle. "I like your goblin laugh." Nestled up beneath his chin.

"I like your body, too.” This—devastatingly—into Yoongi's ear, the barest scrape and tug of teeth against his earlobe. "But you probably already knew that, hyung."

burn here, Yoongi says wordlessly, and here, and here

By the time Jimin is face to face with him—one last kiss to the very tip of Yoongi's nose—Yoongi realizes that he's run out of exposed skin. Out of ideas. They're looking at each other, and Yoongi thinks there is only one place he hasn't really kissed me.

He waits for Jimin to point the obvious out, but it seems that Jimin is waiting for him. He doesn't look bothered at all, nor flustered. There's no sign of any dishevelment whatsoever on Jimin save for the dark pink of his mouth, like sunrise at sea.

They're so close he could count Jimin's eyelashes. Count the pretty shades of brown in his irises. He could take all the time in the world, and Jimin would wait.

"Kiss me here," Yoongi says, and lifts Jimin's fingers to fit back over his lips the way they had before. "Here too, Jimin-ah."

"Yeah," Jimin says dreamily, and leans in.

When they come together, Jimin's hands moving to frame Yoongi's face, cup his cheeks, it's not—like before. Like before was a little bit dirty, rushed, something neither of them prepared for but just sort of went with.

This kiss is careful. Slow moving. This kiss is Yoongi's hands splayed wide against Jimin's shoulders, then his waist, as the feelings he'd been holding at arm's length all this time, those things once panicky and unsure in his chest, now settle. Take root in him like a tree. Yoongi lets them in, and it's like a downpour in his ribs, clean rains soaking deep into the soil of him. Like they've cleared away the ash now, put out all those little wildfires, and all that's left to do is to bloom and grow once more.

Soft and close-mouthed is maybe not the way Yoongi should be going about this. Maybe he should be more fervent, maybe be ravaging Jimin the way Jimin had done to him the first time. Kissing like marking territory. But he doesn't feel like he's got something to prove. And maybe the first time they did this Jimin was proving something that they both needed to know. Putting his want out there in a blatant shameless way and leaving it at the door.

Yoongi doesn't have a point to make. Not really. There's no territory he wants to claim. Nothing to rush. He's a spitfire and a hellion when you give him a mic but right now Yoongi doesn't feel the least bit reckless, doesn't feel like setting fires. Doesn't think he could even if he tried.

He just wants to kiss Jimin back. So he does.

Moves his lips over Jimin's with all the quiet affection he's felt over the past few months. The slow and the unassuming. Gentle as a breeze.

Yoongi keeps his hands innocent at Jimin's waist. Keeps his kisses brief, the pressure of his mouth soft against Jimin's—divides attention between that full bottom lip, the fuller top lip. He nuzzles that shy dimple on the one side, delights in the way it deepens when Jimin smiles, huffs out a quiet laugh. Takes that opportunity to kiss at his crooked teeth.

Then Jimin's not laughing anymore as one kiss slides into another, continuous, without end. His mouth parts against Yoongi's, like maybe he wants Yoongi to be gentle and then some. So Yoongi runs his tongue over the seam of that mouth, tasting, sipping at it like coffee, and Jimin opens further in kind. Takes him in in in.

And then things are not so slow and unassuming at all.

Jimin's hands move to wrap around Yoongi's neck for a better grip and he tips forward into Yoongi's lap, now fully on his knees as he straddles Yoongi's thighs and hovering above, forcing Yoongi to lean back and kiss him like that. As if Yoongi wouldn't kiss Jimin any which way he wanted.

There should be a tolerance limit for this. Surely Yoongi's entire system is about to shut down any second now. But Yoongi hears Jimin's shuddering gasp against his mouth, like he forgot to breathe for a second, and it makes him feel a little less afraid of this whole thing. Makes him think that maybe Jimin's not as cool and collected about all of this as he thought. That maybe they're both treading water in space as gravity kicks in.

Maybe jumping isn't so terrifying when you're doing it with someone.

Jimin's hand slides down from where it's curled around Yoongi's neck and settles over Yoongi's chest, presses down like he knows where Yoongi’s heartbeat is thundering.

"Like this too," Jimin says breathlessly, spreads his fingers to indicate what he means. "Like your heart so much. Like how it's like mine."

"God." The word punches out of Yoongi like he's been wounded. He moves one hand to touch Jimin’s face, bring their lips together again. The other he settles over Jimin's hand on his chest, lacing their fingers together, holding tight.

They tip so far and they kiss to such a devastating point that Yoongi's literally lying on the couch as if his spine has melted, Jimin pressed to his chest, kissing him deep. He keeps making these noises against Yoongi’s mouth, equal parts contentment and frustration, judging from the tone.

"What?" Yoongi asks, resurfacing for the briefest pause, only to suck kisses down the slope of Jimin's neck. He'd kissed there earlier, because Jimin had told him to. But now there is nothing soft or venturing about these kisses. Yoongi makes them wet. Scrapes his teeth. "What is it?"

"You can touch me, you know," Jimin pants, fingers flexing in the material of Yoongi's hoodie like a cat kneading its claws. "You can, you can."

"Don't want anything you don't want. Don't want—"

"Touch me, idiot."

Yoongi grips the thighs on either side of his waist and Jimin growls, a darker sound than he's made before, shifting in Yoongi's lap, and oh, he's hard. He's hard and Yoongi's hard too, and that's not a sudden thing but Yoongi didn't notice it until just now and he—

"Do you want to—bedroom? Not to sleep."

"Thank you for the clarification, hyung," snickers Jimin, and works a mark of his own design beneath his jaw, meaning it's Yoongi's turn to growl, to shift his hips. "Curious to know what we'd be doing if not sleeping, though."

"Don't be a shit, Park Jimin."

"Don't be an idiot, Min Yoongi. How many times do I have to tell you?" Jimin ducks a kiss against Yoongi's chin, "I want," presses a brief kiss against Yoongi's mouth, "I want," a longer kiss, tongue spiraling, mouth so warm and wet, "I want."

"Christ," Yoongi gasps, dizzy. "Jesus christ."

He grips Jimin's thighs again, fingers digging into the corded muscle there, and Jimin seems to like that. They kiss like that for a few minutes, getting caught up in it, forgetting that they were actually having a conversation before this. Before they started dry humping each other on the couch of an apartment that pretty much everyone in their friend group has a spare key to—

"Okay," Jimin says, and now his voice sounds outright shaky as he wrenches his mouth away from Yoongi's, mouth a stain of red. "Okay. Yeah. We're getting up now. We're going to that bedroom. And we're not going to do any sleeping whatsofuckingever."

"Great. Fantastic. Let's go."

In the end, it is absolutely Jimin's fault.

Jimin's the clumsy one. And yeah, maybe he got clumsy because someone decided to try and grope at his ass and tongue at his collarbones like some kind of touch starved animal. And maybe they were both trying navigate to the bedroom with eyes closed, spinning each other around like they're dancing instead of making out. But bottom line, it is definitely absolutely Jimin's fault that they trip over the coffee table.

The gigantic pickle jar cracks right in half when it hits the floor, coins spilling out and over in a landslide. Roughly six months worth of Yoonmin penalty material, give or take.

For a second, they just stare at the mess, open mouthed. Then Jimin looks back at Yoongi, leans in close, whispers conspiratorially against Yoongi's mouth, "I won't tell if you won't."

"We'll blame it on the cat," Yoongi blurts. "Cats are always knocking things over."

"We have a cat?"

"The stray cat. It came through the window."

"Of this twenty story building?"

"Yes."

"And where is the cat now."

"Uh." Yoongi racks his brains. He's a shitty liar under pressure. He's an even shittier liar under Park Jimin's mouth. He’s trying his best. “Dead?"

"Yoongi-hyung, you cannot invent a fake cat for the sake of alibi only to kill it."

"What do you want from me?"

"Oh, so very much." Jimin smiles, the look in his eyes both beatific and deadly. White sunlight on dark water. “Let’s make it to the bedroom without breaking anything else, to start. We can outline the rest of the details once we get there, preferably without clothes on. I mean, if that’s okay with you, Yoongi-hyung.”

He is so very gorgeous and Yoongi is so very fucked. Jimin saunters to the bedroom, tugging Yoongi by his belt-loops, and the sound of his laughter is another combination of contrasts, satanic and angelic. "Your face, oh my god. You’d think I just shot you."

"I hate you," Yoongi rasps, belied by the way he's stumbling forward. Like some dumbass sailor after a siren call, ready to pitch himself off the damn boat and into the tumbling sea with a smile on his face. "I hate you so much."

"Yeah, yeah," says Jimin, before he tugs Yoongi into his room, before he kicks the door closed behind them, before he kisses Yoongi quiet, and then kisses Yoongi not-so-quiet, gasping and shuddering beneath hands and mouth.

"Hate you too."

***

Yoongi falls asleep warm and wakes up cold.

He squints in the morning light, letting the room come into focus. For a few brief seconds, he thinks Jimin's gone and disappeared on him again. Then he hears the sound of the fridge door opening, closing.

Jimin's in the kitchen, at the stove. He’s humming to himself, under his breath. His hair, for once, is kind of a mess. Yoongi watches him grope in the topmost cupboard for the coffee filters and feels his heart expand impossibly.

He waits until Jimin gets it, rocks back on his heels, allows him the dignity of being short without the teasing, and then walks forward.

"Good morning," Jimin sing-songs, like he knew Yoongi was there all along.

"Mm." Yoongi grunts in reply, walking blindly forward with his eyes half closed until his forehead bumps into Jimin's shoulder, lets it drop as he sort of melts against Jimin's back. Listens to the commotion of Jimin making breakfast, the pleasant drip of the coffee maker. Lets the sounds of the world seep into him a little more, wake him up.

"It's so early. Why are you up so early Park Jimin-ah? Are you trying to kill me?" Yoongi nuzzles into the back of Jimin's neck, drags his mouth over the nape where the bone juts out slightly, the loveliest curve.

"I'm trying to make breakfast, hyung."

"It's Sunday," Yoongi says, like Sunday is the designated day for not eating breakfast or something. He feels half asleep and sinking under in the best sort of way, like he's still in bed.

Like they're still in bed.

"I'm hungry," Jimin pouts, and swirls the whisk a little bit, hand a blur. Yoongi wants to put his mouth there too, the same way he did last night. Kiss that thin wrist. "Someone tried to feed me lettuce and peanut butter last night and tell me it was a meal, so. I'm starving. And I'm making scrambled eggs before we go out. You want some?"

"We're going out?"

Jimin smirks. "It's a nice day. Plus I may or may not have promised Seokjin that we'd emerge from the sex marathon by at least noon for tea."

"You what—"

"Yeah, heads up, maybe avoid the group chat for a while. There may or may not be a picture of you sleeping in there that had a bit of an avalanche effect."

And Yoongi—wants to argue. Wants to call Jimin a hellspawn or Satan's Pomeranian or some form of vague insult because Jimin is trying to end his life before it's even begun and that's rude, that's just so rude.

But then Jimin turns, setting the bowl and the whisk down. He's wearing an t-shirt that he’s swimming in, some old dance showcase logo stretched and faded over the chest. It hits the tops of his thighs. He looks mussed and sleep warm and Yoongi doesn't quite know how to articulate the strange emotion that equates to wanting to put your mouth on every part of a person—their lips, their sternum, the delicate crease of their knee—but he feels it, blooming wide, in his chest. So big there's no room for anything else.

"Christ, you're cute."

Jimin's eyes brighten. "You think I'm cute, hyung?"

Yoongi is beet red in the face, he just knows it. "No. Yes. Fuck off, Jimin, you know you're cute. Everyone says so. Don't play dumb."

"Well, sure, I knew. I just wasn't aware that you did."

"I'm not blind."

Jimin's eyes crinkle as he smiles, "You think I'm cute."

"I'm going to kill you."

Jimin laughs right in his face. Pours the runny yellow egg into the frying pan. Hops up onto the counter, lets his heels drum on the cabinets in little beats.

"You know I think that, right," Yoongi asks. “That I meant it.”

The fear creeps up sudden and unbidden. The fact that Yoongi hasn't really said it. Because last night had been falling into the sheets and shedding clothing and wet mouths and simply trying not to die on impact but he didn't say it. Not really. It had been more Jimin doing the talking, filling in those gaps, and Yoongi a useless garble of yes and Jimin-ah and curse words and pressing everything else he wanted to say into frantic kisses.

Jimin tilts his head. "What do you mean?"

"That last night wasn't just. I dunno, me taking the edge off. Getting my yah-yah's out."

"Your yah-yah's?"

"Fuck off, you know what I mean."

But Jimin doesn't, and it's suddenly panic o'clock at Min Headquarters. In all that's happened, in all the sleep they definitely lost last night, it never occurred to Yoongi until now, standing in the sunlight of the kitchen, that Jimin might not know.

"You know, right," he says, staring at the eggs in the frying pan like he's shy or something. Like he hasn't spent months staring Park Jimin in the eye and arguing back. The eggs are starting to bubble around the edges, starting to rise, blended yolk turning an even brighter yellow. "You know that I think that you're cute. And smart. And kind. And talented. But not talented for talent's sake, but talented because you’re so fucking hard working it inspires the hell out of me. You know, right, Jimin? You have to know—"

"Yeah. Yeah, hyung, yeah, c'mere," Jimin says, soothing, reaching out to hook his heels about the backs of Yoongi's thighs, tug him closer.

He kisses Yoongi quick, then slow, until Yoongi's all but gasping. Until Yoongi’s heartbeat settles down. Kisses the upturned corner of Yoongi's mouth like it's his favorite spot, like he's already settled on it after just one night with the way he lingers, his soft soft eyelashes brushing Yoongi’s cheek in a butterfly kiss. “Yeah, sweetheart, I know."

***

“Yoongi. What are those?" Jimin's halfway through his eggs and tea when he halts, staring down at Yoongi's legs under the kitchen table, looking downright stricken.

Yoongi looks up from his phone. “Isn’t the proper pronunciation supposed to be what are thooooooooose?"

"Are those," Jimin blinks rapidly. "Are those my fucking thigh high socks?"

Yoongi follows Jimin’s line of sight and—yes. Technically, they are very much thigh high socks that he’s wearing. Technically he stumbled out of bed, pulled on his t-shirt and underwear, and then these socks and nothing else. Technically. “In my defense, my feet were cold, and I couldn't find any clean socks except for these. You should do laundry, by the way."

Jimin gapes wordlessly for a moment, but then the expression settles. Contains itself. He leans back in his chair, breakfast abandoned. His eyes flicker down again to Yoongi’s legs, lingering. "So you found my thigh highs. Fun fact, those are a prop from a dance intensive I attended.”

The distinct feeling of being cornered prickles at the back of Yoongi’s neck. Fight or flight. “That’s interesting.”

“It was really fun. I learned a lot. Wanna know what dance style it was?"

Jimin's looking at Yoongi with something that says he didn't just consume a whole plate of food and is, in fact, starving. Yoongi blinks, goes to take a sip of his coffee. "Um. What was the theme?"

“Burlesque,” Jimin purrs.

Yoongi chokes. Rubs his foot at his calf, scratching an itch, crossing his legs at the ankle as Jimin giggles, looks at Yoongi through hooded eyes. The once peaceful morning now feels fraught with tension.

Anticipation.

It’s the same buzz that Yoongi used to get from fighting with Jimin. That same hum of adrenaline in his veins.

Only now—

"What time were we meeting Jin-hyung again?" Yoongi’s voice does not crack, not at all.

"I mean, about an hour. But it’s Seokjin, so,” Jimin shrugs. “I suppose we can interpret the time whichever way we want. Open RSVP. You know how relaxed they are about these things."

"Right."

They stare at each other for a beat.

"Tae won't be home until much later,” Jimin adds. “We don’t have to worry about him coming in.”

They don't necessarily run back to the bedroom, but it's a near thing.

***

big seok>>>groupchat
HEY
ARE YOU FUCKS COMING OVER OR WHAT

yoongi
please chill

little seok
translation: was too busy getting DICKED to notice the time

yoongi
yeah?
and what of it?

little seok
KJJKLSLL;VSDJ'VSD'FV'KDFLK;//?
JLKDFJKGJLKD
IXDUFYVPSODFJVSLDKF OH FMGHYGB OD???

big seok
IM FUCKING S H O O K
hOSEOK JUST DISSOCIATED
YOU KILLED HIM
IM SCREMA AING
OH MY GOD

yoongi
serves u nosy assholes right

jimin
on our way hyungs <3 !!

***

"Behold!" Hoseok crows, waving his hands with a magician’s flourish. "The new Yoonmin jar."

Movie night, again. Yoongi had been planning to ditch for a studio session, but Hoseok had said it was an emergency, that there was an actual legitimate emergency. And Yoongi had walked in to this mess.

Not that he hadn't expected it. Jimin texted him two days ago babe i overheard them, those fucking snakes, they're getting a new jar. what's our move here? and the two of them brainstormed for hours figuring out how to make this work to their advantage. They were ready, it had just taken longer than expected to get everything together on Yoongi’s end.

(His friends were all crowded on the couch when Yoongi came in a few minutes ago. Jeongguk on Namjoon's lap, in the middle of a deep conversation. Hoseok stuffed next to Seokjin, cackling over something on Seokjin's phone. Taehyung stretched out across everyone's laps and legs and complaining about how bony everyone is.

Jimin had looked up from his perch on the arm of the couch, posture perfectly straight, and smiled. Winked. And Yoongi would be lying if his heart hadn't done the most damn cliched ka-thunk in the history of loud hyperbolic sound effects.)

"Same rules apply as before," Hoseok continues. "However, one addendum to the old rules: we will now also be adding a penalty for any time that Jimin and Yoongi are remotely openly affectionate with one another and/or displaying in any means that they are grossly in love."

"Grossly in love, could you use it in a sentence?” Seokjin asks politely.

"Yes. About five days ago Min Yoongi called Park Jimin cute because Jimin made a salad, thereby exemplifying that he is grossly in love."

"I am hardly the only one that's grossly in love in this room," Yoongi complains. "I'm not gonna name names but one of them rhymes with Whim Bomb Loon."

"Nice try sweetie," Hoseok grins. "Established boyfriends only for the penalty rule."

Jeongguk nods very seriously in agreement, like he isn’t sitting directly on Namjoon's lap. They're not together yet, it's true, as far as Yoongi can tell. Namjoon had quietly explained that after a long honest conversation, followed by more long honest conversations, that he and Jeongguk had agreed to take things slow.

It looks, however, as if Jeon Jeongguk has another agenda entirely. Good for him.

"Any other questions?” says Hoseok. “No? Great. Now, onto our next movie night agenda: Grease or Grease 2."

“Wait a minute."

Yoongi stands up, reaching for his bag. He was late getting here, the bag had not been light, after all. "I got a penalty for the other day with the salad. I need to contribute."

Hoseok looks very pleased by this complicity. "Wow! So glad to see you're coming around to this, Yoongi-hyung. Contribute away!"

Yoongi watches, grim satisfaction vibrating in his teeth, as their expressions drop from happiness to mild horror as he opens his bag. Pulls out what's inside.

He'd been at the bank the last hour getting currency exchanged for coins, any coins, as many coins as they were willing to give between him and Jimin's pooled petty cash. But god was it worth it to see his friends’ faces now.

Yoongi stares them all down, rigid as he pours the entire Ziploc gallon bag into the jar. Followed by another. A literal mountain of won coins. The jar fills, then overflows, coins clattering to the floor.

"Here," says Yoongi, giving the second bag a good shake as the last coin falls with one final plink. "Think of this as an advance."

Then he marches over to the arm chair, beside the couch. Sits.

Hoseok, looking shaken but trying to rally, brings the debate back to movie night. Conversation overtakes and the small mountain of coins remains in the center of the coffee table and floor. They won, for now.

"I'm not gonna lie, that was kind of hot," Jimin whispers into Yoongi's ear. He hasn't moved from his perch, hasn't moved to claim real estate in Yoongi's lap the way Jeongguk has with Namjoon, but his knee is brushing Yoongi's thigh, and his eyes are bright. "I love your stubborn don’t-fuck-with-me face.”

It’s still new, doing this. Being like this. It’s still so new to both of them. The teasing, however—

That stays the same.

"Yeah?" Yoongi smirks. "Like it when I take charge?"

"I mean, I'd say yes, but," Jimin's eyes sparkle. "I like it when you blush and get all shy just as much. The duality of Min Yoongi. What a conundrum."

Their eyes lock, heat blooming like a stove burner, flaring up with that low flickering blue. Fizzy warmth floods Yoongi's belly. Jimin's wearing a v-neck today that exposes his collarbones, some of his chest. There's a faded bruise a little north of his sternum, barely visible. Yoongi recognizes it because he's got a few of his own too.

"How long do you think we have to stick around for before we can sneak off to your room?"

"If we leave now, they might not even notice,” Jimin mutters, glancing over as Seokjin and Jeongguk begin kicking each other in a vehement debate over who in their group is what Pink Lady.

"I'm gonna get a drink,” Yoongi announces, and no one even pays him attention.

"See you in three,” Jimin says. “Grab me a La Croix."

"Ridiculous." Yoongi groans, like he hadn't been planning to do just that.

They end up in the dark of Jimin's room, taking alternating sips of mango La Croix and cracking up as Yoongi gags and Jimin tells him to shut up and quit being such a drama queen. Then, when Yoongi has hit his limit of mineral water, Jimin abandons the drink entirely and crawls into Yoongi's lap. Shuts him up more effectively.

They strip down to the sound of their friends screeching Greased Lightnin' in the living room and Jimin touches Yoongi so soft and so good and kisses with a little bit of bite and tastes like nasty fruit flavored water and nothing about any of this should be remotely romantic or sexy or the best thing that's ever happened in Yoongi's life, but there's a jar full to bursting with coins in the living room that tells Yoongi he gets a free pass for being gross.

Just this once.

***

park_jimjams has uploaded a new photo to Instagram
park_jimjams: coffee with boyfriend !! does this count as a date even though we're still half asleep? #butfirstcoffee #ihatemondays #minstagram

"Did you just upload a picture of my coffee and try to pass it off as yours?"

Jimin looks up innocently, fingers still tapping away at his screen. "I've never done anything, ever, in my life."

"You're a fucking demon, you know that?"

"Mm, talk dirty to me baby."

Yoongi doesn't have a response to that one other than to go rather pink in the face, which of course makes Jimin absolutely preen.

He takes pity on Yoongi’s pouting soon enough though, lifts Yoongi's legs up off the floor, settles his ankles over his lap.

"There," he hums. "Much more boyfriend material, don't you think?”

“Fuck off.”

The old woman two seats behind gives them a severe look, but says nothing. Jimin settles his hand somewhere along the expanse of Yoongi's thigh, just low enough to get away with seeming innocent.

Keyword: seeming.

"Beginning to think you've got a thing, there."

Jimin just hums again, a small grace note. "Your first ever post to instagram was a picture admiring your own skinny thighs. If anyone has a thing it's you."

"You stalked my instagram?"

Now it's Jimin's turn to go pink, even if he covers it up with an excellent poker face. Yoongi knows the tells now, likes that he does. "You were stalking mine!"

"You stalked my instagram." It feels so good to pull these kind of responses out of Jimin. So rarely flustered, but Yoongi supposes there's weak spots in everyone.

"Maybe a little," Jimin admits. “It was necessary research. But that's besides the point."

"Oh, my apologies Park Jiminie. Back to the point then; you love my legs."

"I'm just saying," Jimin says with a faux sultry tone, belied by his grin as he pats Yoongi’s thigh. "That if anyone wants appreciation for these gams, it's you."

"If you use the word 'gams' again I am going to throw myself in front of this train."

"No no no, don't do that,” Jimin says, catching Yoongi's ankles and holding them still before he can move. He tips his head back against the seat, and for a minute, they just listen to the sounds around them, eyes closed, barely touching.

"Hey." Jimin's voice low and soothing. Jimin's eyes soft, and on Yoongi. "I like you."

It's said very quiet. And Jimin doesn't follow it up with a kiss or a smile or a laugh. He just says it, simple. Just between them, and for no one else. Their own private and gentle love.

Different and unconventional, maybe. Not quite as loud, maybe. But right. Very very right. And very very good.

"I like you too," Yoongi says back, just as quiet.

Maybe he should say something else too.

Yoongi knows they both have class as soon as they get to campus, a day chock full with school work rehearsal that's probably going to mean they won't see each other until the commute home, somewhere just around the midnight hour. Jimin's got another audition coming up, he's so stressed and worried, but Yoongi knows he's going to kill it. He just knows. So it won't be until late that they see each other again. But they will ride the train home, and Jimin will talk about his day, or maybe they will listen to music and bicker about each other's choices, or maybe Yoongi will convince Jimin to sing.

But it doesn't seem necessary, not really.

Around them, the train creaks and groans. The air pulses. Churns. The city and its people, the whole wide world, rushes in with all its racket and its bustling and its demanding, the world rushes in about them, all noise, all life and form and color and loud loud loud but—they stay quiet.

Maybe that's what fate and kismet and love is really about. About finding someone who can stand with you in the chaos. Finding someone who can make you feel steady. Make you feel quiet even when it's not. Calm.

Jimin taps his thumb once, twice, against his leg, a heartbeat rhythm, and Yoongi feels so incredibly still.

 

***

fin.