It all started with the breathing simulation.
See, androids, by virtue of being androids, didn’t need oxygen to sustain their organs and keep their body functional. Even though every android was built in a human’s image, the insides weren’t as important to get right, not even in Jimin, who was a prototype of the absolute highest standard, the state of the art JM200 model. He’d been created to be the best the android business had to offer, but even he lacked lungs and a respiratory system.
One could argue that a pair of lungs could be installed for cosmetic purposes, but then again, the cyber department of BigHit likely didn’t believe any human would want to crack open their android for a peek inside their chest. Not any sane human, anyway.
Thus Jimin had offered to download the breathing software after Yoongi had complained about how still he was whenever they weren’t in the field. Not only did they share a living space, but they also sat opposite of each other at the Seoul Police Department, so Jimin was always in the lieutenant’s line of sight, which would explain how he would’ve noticed his lack of breathing in the first place.
Yoongi had smacked his hands down on his desk one day and declared it unnerving that Jimin didn’t move at all when sitting down sometimes, even to blink or take breath.
To be fair, the former wasn’t actually true; Jimin did blink, the insides of his eyelids equipped with a lubricant to keep his eyes clear and fully functional, but he only needed to activate it once every ten minutes.
Perhaps he should do it more often.
It took all of forty-two seconds to locate the download file for a breathing software that would prompt the wires in his throat and chest to simulate inhaling and exhaling every other second. The file came with a lengthy description of why androids could benefit from such a program, and true enough, Jimin found Yoongi was not the only one who wanted their companion to breathe.
“Lieutenant,” he said and turned to face Yoongi, who didn’t look up from whatever he was reading on his computer. “I have decided to download a software that will simulate human breathing in me.”
That did grab the lieutenant’s attention. “Huh?” he uttered and looked up, frowning. “Why?”
Jimin inclined his head. “You’ve complained about my lack of breathing on nine separate occasions, lieutenant,” he said simply. “Since an appropriate software is readily available, I believe downloading it would be beneficial for the prosperity of our companionship.”
Yoongi didn’t seem to have anything to say to that, parting his lips and closing them again until he found his voice. “Shit, I mean, it’s not like you have to go out of your way,” he grumbled and ran a hand through his hair, suddenly far more meek than he had been every time he’d complained about Jimin’s stillness. “It’s weird when you don’t move at all, but… I didn’t say you had to…”
“You appear to be experiencing some level of guilt, lieutenant,” Jimin said, lips curling up into the makings of a smile; for some reason, knowing that Yoongi didn’t want him to change himself to suit his standards made him content. “Your heart rate increased and you’re hunching your shoulders, and—”
“Yah, didn’t I tell you to stop saying that shit out loud? And to stop scanning me!” Yoongi snapped, quick to return to his usual gruffness. He rolled his shoulders and sat up straight, as if fixing his posture would hide the rest of his body’s signs of regret. “Do whatever the fuck you want. Download the software, I don’t care.”
Jimin knew it was a blatant lie, what with the way Yoongi’s gaze kept flickering to him before he even began the download. He did indeed care and it made Jimin have to consciously suppress the urge to smile wider than before, the thirium pump in his chest kicking up its pace for a few beats before settling again. A brief note flickered into his field of vision, warning him of an irregularity in the machinery that functioned like his heart, but he ignored it.
“Yes, lieutenant,” he said primly and closed his eyes, the LED on his temple going from blue to yellow as he downloaded the necessary files.
Downloading File b#9386: Breathing Simulator 3.0.7
There was a quiet hissing sound as the wires in his chest and throat settled into their new function, expanding and contracting to project the necessary movements to complete their new task. It wasn’t a very large file; coaxing the android body into simulating the most basic of human acts was hardly a strain on the hundreds of functions it hosted.
It took a moment or two to grow used to the sensation of his body moving on its own, the steady rise and fall of his chest. Jimin looked down, curiously peering at the slight expansion of his chest every time he drew air through his nose—or his mouth, if he opened it—and the way it settled back when he exhaled.
When he looked up again, Yoongi was staring at him from the corner of his eyes, failing miserably to hide his curiosity.
“The download was successful,” Jimin stated without prompt, knowing the lieutenant would probably not ask. He noticed that the breathing simulation paused when he spoke, his chest stilling momentarily to not get in the way of his speech. “It doesn’t appear to interfere with any of my other functions, and it is fully automated and doesn’t require any effort on my behalf.”
“‘S that so,” Yoongi said slowly, his disinterest nothing but a facade, judging by the way his gaze flickered down to Jimin’s chest, where it lingered for long enough to see him inhale and exhale once. “And you can just… deactivate it if, I dunno, it starts doing weird shit?”
Jimin smiled and leaned forward over his desk. “It is sweet that you worry about me, lieutenant,” he said, and found his new software allowed him to emit a quiet, airy chuckle when Yoongi scoffed and scowled and grumbled something about goddamn androids under his breath.
The breathing simulation worked flawlessly for weeks. It didn’t impede on his work, not when he had to engage in a high-speed chase of a wanted criminal nor when he went into stasis, and if Jimin had the capability to forget things, he likely would’ve forgotten he’d even downloaded the program in the first place.
Then came the stutter.
The first time it happened, it took Jimin a moment to realise what had happened. It was early in the morning, at least an hour before sunrise, during a night shift at the police department. Yoongi looked absolutely ruined by exhaustion, so Jimin left his desk to prepare a cup of coffee for the lieutenant. It was an easy task; while Jimin lacked taste sensors and couldn't assess levels of sweetness well, Yoongi took his coffee black without any kinds of condiments. It made it simple enough for an android to perfect, and so he went about making the cup of coffee without difficulty.
Just as he’d finished, Yoongi appeared in the doorway of the break room, seemingly thinking along the same lines as Jimin. His hair was a mess, the dark locks freed from their usual sloppy bun, and the stubble on his chin was more prominent than usual. Prim as ever, Jimin walked over to the lieutenant and held the cup out towards him. “Here, lieutenant,” he said, taking care to speak softly to spare Yoongi's tired ears. “You looked tired. I thought a coffee could do you well.”
Yoongi stated down into the cup for a long moment, and then he leaned forward, a hand coming up to momentarily rest on Jimin's shoulder as he pushed into what humans would regularly consider personal space. “Thanks, blue boy,” he muttered, close enough for Jimin to feel his breath against his cheek.
Warning: Thirium Pump Irregularity Detected.
A slow buzz passed through the wires in his chest, bringing with it the inexplicable content Jimin always felt in the lieutenant's proximity. His LED flickered yellow, blue, and yellow again, and his lips curled into a smile. “Yo-you’re welcome, lieutenant,” he said, only to freeze where he stood upon the realisation of how his voice had glitched.
Yoongi didn't notice, too tired to do anything more than take the cup and drag his feet back to his desk, and so Jimin stood stock still and alone in the break room, running diagnostic after diagnostic to try and find any kind of error in his wiring, coding, vocal processors, anything.
His LED light flickered yellow, red, yellow, yellow, blue, and eventually settled on a steady yellow, confusion muddling his thoughts as every scan came up empty, no signs of damage or malfunction anywhere to be found. He replayed the scene that had taken place only moments prior, grasping at anything that could’ve triggered a glitch in his vocal processor.
The exchange between Yoongi and himself had lasted only a matter of twenty-seven seconds, during which nothing extraordinary had happened. Except…
“Thanks, blue boy.”
A nickname the lieutenant had thought of the first time he’d seen Jimin be shot on the job. The bullet had hit his shoulder, but instead of blood, a rush of thirium—the blue fluid that powered androids—had gushed from the wound. Jimin couldn’t feel pain, but the impact of the shot had thrown him to the ground and thrown his sense of balance off its axis, thus impairing him from resuming the chase.
Distressed as he had been by the incident, Yoongi had coped by calling Jimin blue boy and forcing a smile, as if his heart wasn’t beating at 135bpm in his panic as he helped Jimin stand upright.
Yoongi hadn’t called him by that name since he’d been repaired, and Jimin had understood it had merely been the lieutenant’s way of coping with a stressful situation. Projecting, as he had a tendency of doing quite often.
Jimin had understood it. That is, until now.
“Strange,” he said to the silence of the room. He lingered for a moment longer, as if waiting would bring some kind of answer, before deeming the stutter a one-time occurrence and walking back to his desk.
The second time it happened, Yoongi definitely noticed.
They were in the middle of a crime scene, looking for clues in the back alley where a man had been gunned down a few hours prior. As murders to, there wasn't anything particular about the case; a quick scan told Jimin the victim in question was a long-time dealer of red ice, someone who'd been involved in gang violence and crime since his childhood. The most likely motive was a drug trade gone wrong, or a squabble between gang members taken a bad turn.
“There is blood under his left hand’s fingernails,” Jimin said after completing his scan. “There is no weapon, so it’s likely he attempted to fight off his assailant barehanded. He might’ve scratched the murderer’s skin.”
“Fantastic,” Yoongi said dryly and looked around, searching for the forensic analyst. “Let’s get a sample of that and have it sent to the lab.”
“Lieutenant, I can—”
“You’re not putting that guy’s fucking fingers in your mouth,” the lieutenant snapped, grimacing at the mere thought. “That’s really fucking gross, Jimin. And no,” he added when Jimin parted his lips to protest, “I don’t care if it’s faster or however many percent more accurate. It’s going to the lab and we’ll sit nice and patient on our asses and wait for the analysts to give us the results.”
Jimin wanted to insist, but the look Yoongi pinned him under was withering, so he heaved a sigh—a curious feature of his breathing simulator—and took a step backwards if only for the sake of avoiding conflict at the crime scene. He couldn’t understand what was so gross about it; his tongue and the inside of his mouth had been specifically programmed with sensors and scanners to speed up the process of finding leads via forensic evidence.
Yoongi had seen him do it once, when Jimin had dipped his finger into the foamy substance at the corner of a victim’s mouth and licked it in search of traces of drugs. The lieutenant had promptly declared it absolutely fucking disgusting and forbidden for the rest of his life.
With a lingering glare, Yoongi turned to go talk to a witness who’d heard a squabble before a gunshot a few hours ago. Jimin watched him go; he would usually partake in conversation with the witnesses, since he was specifically designed to appear trustworthy and calming, but his gaze drifted back to the victim’s hand. It would be so much faster to sample the tissue directly, and if anything, Jimin valued efficiency.
He glanced at Yoongi and found his back turned, engaged in his questioning of the woman. He wouldn’t notice if Jimin was quick enough.
Without further ado, he walked back over to the victim and sank into a crouch, reaching for his left hand. He pressed the tip of his finger into the tight space between fingernail and skin, scraping off as much of the tissue as he could before bringing it to his mouth.
His finger was two inches away from his mouth when a hand latched onto his wrist and pulled him upright.
“I’m starting to think you get a fucking kick out of ignoring what I tell you,” Yoongi bit out in exasperation, making a face of disgust as he pushed Jimin’s hand as far away from both of their faces as he could. “Jesus, you’d think it would’ve sunk in by now, but no, ‘s like you can’t bloody help yourself.”
Jimin could’ve easily pried his way out of the lieutenant’s grip. He was built far stronger than even the strongest human, and yet, even though Yoongi was keeping him from furthering their investigation, Jimin couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Perhaps it was the fact that Yoongi had pulled him quite close, their faces far closer than what humans would consider socially acceptable for a professional environment.
Warning: Thirium Pump Irregularity Detected.
Jimin liked Yoongi’s face. He had liked it before turning deviant, finding a degree of comfort in the unyielding facade the lieutenant carried with him. The thought had intensified after he’d broken free from the clutches of his programming; now, he also liked Yoongi’s sharp eyes and and the creases between them, a product of god knows how many years of scowling. He liked his nose and his lips, and the hard lines around them. Jimin liked Yoongi’s stubble and his long, messy hair, and he especially liked the traces of graying silver lining his temples, a tell of his age.
Jimin liked Yoongi’s face. He found it nice to look at, even though many people seemed to disagree, muttering something about a resting bitch-face, which, after a few moments of research, Jimin had realised was something one called someone who never smiled. Which was absurd; the lieutenant did smile. He smiled when his team won in a baseball game and when Jimin tried and failed to make a joke, and when Holly jumped up into his lap and nestled there, expecting a healthy dose of petting.
Those smiles were Jimin’s favorite. They were softer. Fond. Content.
Warning: System Instability Detected.
“Are you even listening to me?”
Jimin blinked out of his thoughts, momentarily surprised with his own distraction. Yoongi was still holding onto his wrist and his face was still close, his scowl having smoothened out into a frown. The proximity caused an involuntary increase in Jimin’s core temperature for reasons he couldn’t quite comprehend, and he parted his lips to bypass the situation as quickly as possible.
“Of c-co-course I am, lieutenant,” he said, only to immediately click his mouth shut as soon as the stutter registered in his brain. His LED flickered yellow, blue, then yellow again, and even the briefest glimpse of red upon Yoongi’s confused expression, his gaze moving over Jimin’s face as if he to find the source of his sudden vocal malfunction.
Warning: Increase In Thirium Pump Irregularity Detected.
Warning: System Instability Prominent.
Very carefully, Jimin freed himself from Yoongi’s grip and took a step back. “I apologise for acting against your orders, lieutenant,” he said promptly, his clean hand coming up to straighten his tie. “I will look for something to wipe the tissue off my hand.”
“Wait, fuck, it’s not like I’m trying to force you to obey me or anything,” Yoongi said in a rush, once again displaying that uncomfortable guilt. “It’s just, shit, that’s shit makes me want to—”
“I understand, lieutenant,” Jimin said even though he didn’t really. The lieutenant’s consideration for his feelings was incredibly sweet, however, so he smiled in the most reassuring manner he could, the wires in his chest humming at the sight of Yoongi’s instant relief. “It is a rather… gross function, I admit.”
Yoongi snorted and arched his brows in a way which Jimin translated into him saying no shit it is, and with that, the moment passed and Jimin’s systems returned to normal.
Of course, he was still utterly clueless to what had brought on the stutter; for all the warnings that had flickered in his HUD, none of them had had anything to do with his vocal processor or voice box.
Once his hands were clean once more, Jimin raised one of them to massage the artificial skin of his throat. “Strange,” he said, much like he had last time. “Very strange.”
He stood still until Yoongi called his name, and pushed the oddity to the far back of his mind in favor of returning to the investigation.
The third time it happened, Yoongi pointed it out in a rather overwhelming manner.
They had decided to bring their work to Yoongi’s apartment—their apartment, Yoongi had to remind him every time it was brought up—hauling three cardboard boxes full of reports and files up the eight flights of stairs. Jimin had offered to carry all three, but the lieutenant had refused with a comment about chivalry or whatever the fuck and taken two. Jimin had been pleasantly surprised for all of three seconds, before he had realised the lieutenant had probably just been sarcastic again.
After greeting an over-excited and barking Holly, they had settled around the kitchen table to go through the files in search of a clue for what seemed to be a series of android hate-crimes. Yoongi had switched out of his work clothes—if the well-worn dress shirt and jacket could be called as such—into a black t-shirt and sweats, and let his hair down from its loose bun.
He had offered Jimin a change of clothes, but he had declined; since they were going to be working, Jimin preferred to wear his uniform, no matter how much Yoongi groused about how uncomfortable it looked, suit and tie impeccable.
The hours passed slowly. Many of the files were ink on paper, notes taken by the previous investigative team, which was slower for Jimin, who could absorb the data off a holopad in a matter of seconds. It made him purse his lips in discontent; with such sloppy filing, no wonder the perp was still at large.
Three hours in, Yoongi ordered takeout for him under Jimin’s judgemental eye; the levels of calories and sodium in the hamburgers he loved to scarf down were atrocious, especially for someone Yoongi’s age. Having already turned forty-three, consuming such unhealthy food was as far from smart as could be.
“Well, Jimin, the day you start cooking these healthy meals yourself, I’ll stop eating this shit,” Yoongi scoffed when Jimin pointed out the contents of the food after it had been dropped off. “Until then, I’m gonna enjoy death by delicious, greasy burgers.”
An interesting thought, that, even though Jimin was 93.2% certain the lieutenant was being sarcastic. Again. He filed it away in his mind, along with a note to download recipes for something healthier than burgers and beer.
It was past midnight when Jimin found a possible lead. Three of the victims had visited the same clothes’ shop, one before the android uprising, two after. The assaults had all happened after the androids’ revolution had come to a fruitful end, thus enforcing the belief that it was a matter of a serial hate crime.
“Lieutenant,” Jimin said and lined the files up on the table in front of him. “I believe I’ve found something that can help us further this investigation.”
With an incoherent sound of interest, Yoongi pushed himself upright and walked around the table, stretching his arms over his shoulder as he went. He came to stand behind Jimin’s chair, leaning forward to brace his hand against the table so he could have a better look of the files in question. The movement put his face close to Jimin’s, his warm breath fanning over Jimin’s ear, and Jimin could almost feel the glitch happen.
The sensors in his ears, made more sensitive by default to give him a better detection of muted soundwaves, shuddered under the rush of humid warmth. It triggered a current resembling electricity to pass through him until it reached the thirium pump in his chest, which in turn released a rush of what Jimin could only identify as exhilaration.
His artificial breath hitched in his throat, and the words that left his mouth were not only stuttered to all hell, but more high-pitched than usual, borderline tinny. “I-i-it’s th-there, lieutenant.”
He wasn’t surprised when Yoongi stiffened behind him, nor how the previously soft blue glow in the room turned yellow and then red, courtesy of his LED.
“Okay, what the hell’s going on with your voice?” Yoongi asked and pushed himself upright, grabbing hold of the chair to turn Jimin around to face him. “It’s been doing that stuttering thing for a while now. Don’t you have a,” he gestured vaguely towards Jimin’s chest, “I don’t know, an error detection thingie that can fix it?”
“I do have an error detection thingie,” Jimin said slowly, his own attempt at sarcasm making the lieutenant roll his eyes, “but my diagnostics haven’t been able to find the cause of my stutter. I’ve run them several times, but they can’t find the problem.”
Yoongi frowned, crossing his arms over his chest. Where he stood, he towered over Jimin in his chair. “It stopped,” he said, sounding marginally suspicious. “The stuttering’s gone again.”
“Yes,” Jimin agreed, nodding. “It’s not a constant occurrence. You’ve likely noticed that I articulate quite clearly most of the time. This stutter only happens when you…”
He let his voice trail off there, suddenly overcome by an odd hesitation. The words that had sat at the tip of his tongue moved back as if in protest, reluctant to be spoken for the lieutenant to hear. His lips moved around nothing before snapping shut, and the LED at his temple flickered. Yellow, red, yellow.
When Yoongi arched an impatient brow at him, Jimin realised what was happening to him.
He was nervous.
Warning: System Instability Detected.
“It only happens when I what?” Yoongi asked, jerking his head in a silent demand for Jimin to see his sentence through. Jimin wanted to tell him; he wasn’t fond of the thought of lying to the lieutenant, but at the same time, he couldn’t calculate a favorable reaction to the words he’d been about to speak. He did not want to upset Yoongi.
“I shouldn’t say it,” is what he ended up with, lowering his gaze to Yoongi’s shoulder; the sharpness of the man’s eyes making the task of avoiding the topic far more challenging. “You’ve expressed distaste for my bluntness before.”
Yoongi scoffed and unfolded his arms. “Oh, the fuck’s with that, you’re making me curious,” he said and leaned forward to get a proper look at Jimin’s face. “If I’m the cause of this, you gotta tell me, Jimin.”
Although unsure of why, Jimin turned away. “N-n-no, I d-don’t,” he stuttered, his vocal modulator glitching once more.
A tremor went through the wires in his arms, and he wondered if he’d be trembling if he’d been human.
Yoongi regarded him in silence for a long moment, frown dug deep into his brow. “Wait a second,” he muttered and leaned back, stepping out of Jimin’s personal space. “Speak.”
Despite himself, Jimin pursed his lips and sent a glance the lieutenant’s way. “I’m not Holly, lieutenant,” he said in an attempt at chiding. In the corner of the room, Holly perked up from his doggie bed. “I do not speak on command.”
Yoongi merely rolled his eyes, the corner of his lips twitching up into a smirk. “I think you just did. Now—”
He stepped back in, reaching out to brace his hands against the table behind Jimin’s chair. He trapped Jimin completely, and even though Jimin was an android and could’ve thrown Yoongi against the wall with hardly any effort, he found himself pressing back in his seat, blinking through the many errors popping up in his field of vision.
“—speak again,” Yoongi said.
Jimin wanted to tell him, but at the same time, he couldn’t, his sudden nervousness tugging at the wires in him in a desperate attempt to stop him. To assure himself he wouldn’t speak, he pressed his lips together, still refusing to meet the lieutenant’s gaze.
His LED glowed red, yellow, and red again.
Yoongi’s fingers drummed against the table. “Jimin,” he said, and his voice was neither harsh nor commanding, but it shattered the restraint on Jimin in an instant.
“You—w-what are you doing, lieut-t-tenant?” he squeaked, his voice once again high-pitched and tinny. A new warning popped up, this time from the breathing simulation, notifying him of an irregularity in its intended pattern, but he ignored it.
Something shifted in Yoongi’s eyes, his gaze flickering across Jimin’s face as if he was attempting to read his thoughts. It lingered on the spinning LED at his temple before returning to his eyes. “So it only happens when I get all up in your business, huh?” he muttered, his face so close to Jimin’s his breath fanned out over his nose.
“I-I don’t know what you’re ta-talking about,” Jimin managed, refusing to meet his eyes.
Warning: Thirium Pump Irregularity Escalating.
Warning: Involuntary Core Temperature Increase Detected.
System Cooldown Recommended.
“Are you…” There was something resembling amusement in Yoongi’s voice now, yet it was far from unkind. “Are you being shy?” he asked.
Oh, yes, he was. Jimin was being shy.
The realisation prompted another stream of warnings, but Jimin ignored them all in favor of denying what was probably embarrassingly obvious. “N-n-no,” he said and shook his head, his eyes settling resolutely on Yoongi’s shoulder.
Avoiding the lieutenant’s gaze proved too difficult a task when Yoongi’s lips pulled into a smile, slow, lazy, and far more beautiful than anything Jimin had ever seen. “Look at you, blue boy,” he said, and for all the smugness to his tone, his words were soft and, undoubtedly, endeared. His eyes fell to Jimin’s cheeks, and there was a twitch in his left hand, as if he wanted to trace the trail of his gaze with his fingers. “You’re fucking blushing.”
Jimin parted his lips to tell Yoongi that androids couldn’t blush, but he paused upon the warning regarding the increase in his core temperature, the majority of which seemed to radiate from his chest, and, to his surprise, from his cheeks. A rush of thirium to his face would certainly result in something resembling blushing cheeks, only in Jimin’s case, the tint to his skin was blue rather than red.
His artificial heart froze for three beats before kicking up again, faster than before.
“I,” he began, his LED a steady whorl of red, “I-I c-c-can’t process-s-s wh-what is ha-happening.” His voice was more metallic than before, and he realised a tad too late that he probably shouldn’t have ignored every single one of the warnings popping up in his field of vision.
Error: Voice Module Malfunction.
The smile had vanished from Yoongi’s face, and it only served to increase the tension in Jimin’s chest. “Okay, now it’s freaking me the fuck out,” he said, moving back to grant Jimin his space, even though it was far too late now. “Can you, I dunno, can you tell me you’re not dying right now? Because it really fucking sounds like you’re about to shut down or something.”
Even amidst his own confusion, Jimin knew that wasn’t something he wanted Yoongi to think. He didn’t want Yoongi to look so worried. “L-lieut-t-ten—” The word wouldn’t come no matter how hard he struggled, and finally, he gave up and said, “Y-Yoon-Yoongi.”
Then his voice module cracked and his voice disappeared completely.
The sound of it breaking made Yoongi jump three feet high, a colorful string of curses spilling past his lips. “What the everliving fuck was that?!” he barked, his heart rate skyrocketing in sudden panic. “What the fuck, Jimin, your throat just crackled, what the fuck, are you okay?!”
Oddly enough, in the face of the lieutenant’s panicked worry, Jimin’s nervousness began to withdraw. The warnings receded slowly, some of the few remaining being Voice Module Impaired and System Instability Imminent. He raised his hands in what he hoped was a placating gesture, his lips moving soundlessly around words that would probably make Yoongi more agitated rather than calm.
I’m alright, he tried to say, but his voice refused to come. Everything is alright, Yoongi.
“Fucking hell, Jimin, you should’ve told me if I was pushing it too far,” Yoongi said loudly and ran a hand through his hair, messing it up even more. “Shit, you scared the shit out of me, it sounded like your neck snapped in two or something!”
The imagery made Jimin grimace, which in turn broke Yoongi out of his tension, an exasperated sigh passing his lips. “I need a drink,” he grouched and turned away, muttering under his breath about fucking heart attacks and dumbass androids who don’t know when to say stop.
Jimin watched him rummage through his kitchen cabinets, belatedly remembering he had disposed of the bottles of liquor a few days prior. The strongest Yoongi’s apartment had to offer at the moment was two cans of beer in the fridge, which was a tame exchange for the usual whiskey or brandy.
The more frustrated Yoongi became at the lack of a drink, the more peaceful Jimin felt. The arrhythmia in his chest began to settle and his core temperature dropped, yet his LED remained yellow in his struggle to comprehend what had happened. It was like grasping at straws, rendering him nervous in a far more uncomfortable manner than before.
Jimin was supposed to know things. He didn’t like not knowing.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake—Jimin.” Yoongi came back to the table, arms crossed and scowling. “Where the fuck’s my whiskey?” he asked, his voice easily giving away the poorly suppressed irritation. “There were two bottles here last time I checked. Did you fucking throw them out when I wasn’t looking?”
Yes. The word rested uselessly on Jimin’s tongue, and he knew he could just nod his confession, but…
But Jimin was too preoccupied with analysing the situation to give a straight answer, brimming with curiosity and a myriad of confused emotions, ones he was fairly certain were caused by Yoongi and Yoongi alone. He had never glitched in this manner before, certainly not before his deviancy, yet as alarming as it was, the thought that it revolved around Yoongi was comforting, if nothing else. He trusted Yoongi.
He liked Yoongi.
His LED spun yellow, red, yellow, yellow before Jimin smiled and raised his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug he had seen the lieutenant perform several times.
The relief flickering over Yoongi’s face was brief, gone within a second, but Jimin caught it all the same, a pulse of calm warmth radiating from his chest. There was still a warning of a system instability blinking somewhere in the corner of his field of vision, but he ignored it in favor of listening to the lieutenant rant about how he should be allowed to drink whatever the fuck he wants in his own house.
Jimin knew could’ve rebooted then and there and restored his voice, but he didn’t. Instead, he used his lack of speech as an excuse to save himself from having to explain to Yoongi what exactly had caused his systems to run haywire. He wasn’t sure why he did it, but listening to the lieutenant’s petulant mutterings helped him stay calm.
Steadily, as he came to terms with the new emotions he had experienced, his LED returned to its neutral blue. Being shy had felt odd, alarming even, but upon reflection, it seemed an appropriate response to Yoongi’s proximity. It never happened with anyone else, and based on what Jimin had learned from watching whatever old movies the lieutenant liked to show him whenever they didn’t have work, shyness was a natural thing to experience in the presence of someone you admire.
Particularly when that admiration was of a romantic nature.
Jimin’s LED flickered yellow once more, but he resolutely directed his thoughts to the far back of his mind. They were in the middle of work, after all, and no matter the instability in Jimin’s flow of emotions, they still had a murderer to catch. Dwelling on the nature of his admiration of the lieutenant could wait.
Yoongi fell asleep not much later, head pillowed on his folded arms across the table, soft snores filling the kitchen. With a rush of fondness, Jimin stood upright and gently hoisted the lieutenant into his arms to move him to his bed, Holly trudging at his heels all the way.
Jimin lingered for a moment once he’d made sure Yoongi was comfortable. He looked so serene, Jimin couldn’t help but reach out and carefully brush away a few stray hairs from the lieutenant’s face, lips curling into a smile when he emitted a muffled groan and buried into his pillows.
In spite of the evening’s events, as he settled on the couch in the living room and prepared for stasis and a proper reboot, he found himself utterly content with the way things had transpired. There was a steady hum in his chest, a comfortable warmth radiating from his thirium pump, and without really knowing why, he took one of the decorative pillows into his arms and pressed his face against it, reveling in the scent that clung to it.
It was familiar and soothing, and all Jimin wanted in that moment.
Good night, Yoongi, he thought, wishing he’d restored his voice module already so he could’ve spoken the words into the silence of the night.
It wasn’t until weeks later that he would realise the stutter came from the breathing simulator. Every time his new emotions fluctuated, his breath would hitch and affect his speech, causing him to stumble over his words. It was an easy thing to fix, a minor alteration in the simulator’s code, but the next time Yoongi drew close enough to him to trigger the malfunction again, Jimin couldn’t bring it in him to care all that much.
Not when Yoongi murmured something about how adorable he was being, nor when his lips were so sweet against the blue blush of Jimin’s cheeks.