The football field is the last place Jimin would want to be at. Cheering on a bunch of burly, hard-headed jocks as if they were the saviors of the school? Definitely not in his agenda.
Jimin scolds himself tirelessly in his mind that he could avoided this situation by simply saying he came down with a cold. And by cold, he means snacking on popcorn in his basement
watching the new episode of Saved By The Bell.
With a hotdog in hand, he manages to wind himself through the shouting teens on the bleachers. He ignores the distasteful stares, as he is accustomed, and the blonde squeezes himself next to his best friend.
"Jimin! You missed the first quarter!" Taehyung all but whines.
His best friend, the real reason why he would even bother to come to a school event, barely glances his way before he's on his feet deliberately yelling out a foul on behalf of the opposing team.
"Jimin. Nice to see you."
He's not surprised to say the least. Jimin knew that as class president, Namjoon was, in essence, obligated to attend school events. He was nice, Jimin attested, polite. He was never one to judge; or maybe Jimin can be a bit bias seeing as he used to crush on the boy.
"Namjoon." Jimin smiles pleasantly. "Nice to see you. Score?" He really, really doesn't care all much about the score, only asks to keep the conversation going.
"21-7." The brunette replies, a dimple appearing. "Jeon Jeongguk just made a touch down."
Jimin hums in feign appraisal.
"We all knew the golden boy couldn't miss making a touch down. It's almost guaranteed." Taehyung sighs; both teams meeting for a time out. Taehyung eyes Jimin's hotdog with a grin and
snags a bite from the food. Jimin scoffs but remains silent. The game resumes and Jimin, who has next to nothing of knowledge on football, wanders his eyes on the players. He recognizes many of them, seeing as they are the ones who decide its their duty to make Jimin's high school experience shitty.
Rather aggressively, he takes a bite out of the remaining of his hotdog and sighs.
Again, he really should've thought about that cold.
There comes a time where you realize you know where you don't belong and where you do. The process can be painstaking and tiring, but once you've reached the zenith, the climax, you never regret it.
Jimin knows himself. He discovered his quirks and traits while growing up; hell, he knew he was queer possibly before he even knew what his favorite color was.
That's why this Jimin, reckless and orphic, is the Jimin he wishes he could be all the time.
Lava Lamp's neon letters are like a safe haven to Jimin. He's had illustrous and unforgettable memories made in this club. Lava Lamp has taken his firsts. First drink, first kiss, first dance, and first hookups.
Jimin finds himself, like a freed bird from a cage, dancing in midst of a sweaty crowd. He's never felt so alive, like he belonged there. He feels a wave of warmth treasure itself behind him. A smirk grows on his face; he's used to this. Jimin languidly moves his body to the music. The bass, neon lights and body heat enticing him in a familiar manner. Jimin's used to this.
"Wanna take this somewhere else?" The voice is surprisingly deep, husky. Jimin tilts his head to the side as if to feign that he's hesitating. He turns towards the man. He's not much taller than him,very skinny; he's handsome. "Let's go." Jimin follows the stranger to the bathrooms, not too excited about the location but anticipation buzzes in his insides.
Jimin's all but used to the Friday night hook up.
"I don't get why they're praised for winning a game when the Mathletes just came back from winning the regional championships."
"Because Jimin," Taehyung huffs, "no one really cares about the Mathletes or if they won a championship. High school culture is all about glorifying the sports teams." Jimin's best friend slams his locker shut, despite Jimin's many past complaints about the noise, "Besides, they won by a HUGE gap. All thanks to Jeon Jeongguk."
Jimin slightly rolls his eyes, "Is the boy really that good?"
"They don't call him the Golden Boy for nothing." Taehyung sing-songs.
Speaking of, said boy walks by with a few other teammates. A smile takes set on his features as he listens to whatever is being said by his friend. They head into the direction of the cafeteria,followed by Jimin and Taehyung.
The two best friends wait in line before finally getting their lunch. Taehyung walks in front of Jimin, seeming to take the long way towards their lone table in the back. The blonde can't help but cautiously follow, light on his footsteps once he's near the football team's table. The jocks chatter amongst themselves when Taehyung walks near them but once they see Jimin in their proximity, they immediately quiet. Jimin gulps as a knot forms in his throat. He silently prays that he can walk by undisturbed and unnoticed.
His prayer fails.
Before he even steps another foot behind Taehyung, his lunch tray is forced out of his hands and onto the cafeteria floor. His salad plummets on his shoes, he winces at the French salad dressing coloring the white sneakers. He hears the boys cackling and faintly hears Taehyung yelling at them. All Jimin can do is stare teary-eyed at his stained shoes thinking of what a pain it will be washing them out later.
With a sigh Jimin shakes off his shoes and picks up his tray. He can still see Taehyung arguing with the boys, sees one of them point at Jimin and utter the word "pansy." Jimin looks away, wanting to leave before the situation worsens. The entire football team seems to laugh and continue to yell at his best friend except for one boy.
Jeon Jeongguk is seated at the back of the table, forking his salad with disinterest. He stops his aimless motions and looks up at his teammates indifferently. His brown eyes seem to fleet over to Jimin and set to make eye contact with him. Jimin doesn't know if he's seeing clearly or not but he notices Jeongguk nudge his cookies towards Jimin before resuming to eat to his salad.
Hesitantly, the blonde steps towards the jock and grabs the cookies.
"Thank you." He doubts he's heard, with all the shouting in the background and how small his voice came out, but Jimin can see Jeongguk give him a small nod of acknowledgement.
Jimin usually isn't the type to go to Lava Lamp during the week, especially on a Thursday. But after earlier's lunch fiasco, the blonde decides he needs to get away from everything.
He's met with "OPEN MIC NIGHT" plastered on a poster at the entrance of the lounge. Jimin notes that it states 'every thursday night' underneath and decides that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to come.
The inside of the lounge is pretty crowded, a surprising amount of people for it being the middle of the week. Jimin sits near the back of the lounge, excitement stirring inside him at the prospect of seeing so many queer talents.
The first few acts are poets. Each passionately reciting words and sounds that leave many in the lounge snapping in response. The entire scene has brought a remaining smile on Jimin's face.
The last poet, a man with striking pointy ears and a deep voice, amazes the crowd with a sung poem. He steps down after the chorus of snaps relay and soon the lounge's manager brings up a stool on stage.
"This next act is someone we all know too well. Please kindly welcome JK." The crowd finally claps, some even whistling as someone walks up on stage with a guitar in hand.
Jimin promptly chokes on his water once he notices the brunette boy on stage.
With a beanie and cardigan replacing his varsity jacket, Jeongguk almost seems like a totally different person. He smiles shyly at the crowd, positioning the mic near his mouth before closing his eyes and strumming at his guitar.
When he begins to sing Jimin is pleasantly surprised. The soft, airy voice of Jeongguk's capers through the lounge and whispers through his ears. Jimin finds himself swaying to the melody.
This Jeongguk, beanie wearing and shy-looking Jeongguk, is no where near the same as the Jeongguk he knew before. Varsity jacket wearing and loud, jock Jeongguk would possibly tease at the Jeongguk Jimin is currently witnessing. It's only until Jimin is out of the trance Jeongguk's airy voice had him in, that he realizes that Jeongguk is there. At Lava Lamp.
Jimin's eyes widen. His ears tune out the cheers and applause simply because his wide eyes on trained on the shy boy on stage.
Jeongguk is here at Lava Lamp.
Jeon Jeongguk is at Lava Lamp, the only queer club in their county.
"Jimin, you okay? You seem kind of out of it." Save Jimin's guilty conscience to keep him unfocused. After Jeongguk, or rather JK, had gotten off stage, Jimin all but ran out the doors of the lounge. He simply did not want to be seen.
It's not that Jimin is scared he'll be outed.
Hell, everyone knows Jimin likes it up the ass. It's majorly one of the reasons why he doesn't have many friends.
No, Jimin just couldn't believe his eyes.
Is that why Jeongguk had given him his cookies the other day? Did he feel bad for his fellow gay brother?
Wait, did his team even know that Jeongguk was queer?
Jimin's eyes flicker over to his table. Seeing as they all pleasantly converse with him his answer is no, they don't know.
Twirling his fork into his spaghetti, Jimin sighs. "I'm fine." He sighs. "I just didn't get too much sleep last night. Had to finish my lab." Not entirely a lie. After abruptly leaving Lava Lamp, Jimin remembered he had a few mistakes he needed to fix in his chemistry lab report.
Taehyung huffs. "Don't I know it. I stayed home all day yesterday trying to finish that thing. I couldn't even go to the game last night."
Jimin turns to his best friend in surprise. "There was a game?" Had Jeongguk not gone to the game?
Taehyung sips on his water. "Yep. We surprisingly won. Usually we lose Thursday games."
"How come?" Yet Jimin has an idea why.
"Jeongguk has some sort of tutoring every Thursday which makes him miss the games." Yet again, Jimin feels astonished at the discovery. The revelation makes Jimin realize that maybe Lava Lamp isn't only important to himself.
The week went by in a blur. Jimin passed his lab with a surprisingly high grade, and he managed to dodge going to another football game with Taehyung.
This time when entering the lounge, Jimin prepares himself for the scene. He doesn't wear his usual tight and suggestive club clothing. He dons a more comfortable, soft-vibed outfit. He takes his usual seat in the back of the lounge and has barely missed the ending of another poet. This time, the stool is already set up on the stage, seemingly waiting for Jeongguk to settle into the spotlight. Only a few more acts appear before the manager is yet again introducing JK. Jimin can't help but feel excited.
Jeongguk adorns another beanie, this time with a leather jacket, and he walks with a bit more confidence on stage.
Jimin can see resemblance of this Jeongguk and football player Jeongguk. He strums the guitar quietly, inviting the audience to bask in the light sound, before singing a fairly popular song.
Jimin finds himself closing his eyes. Jeongguk's voice has a way of transporting you. To any destination, or no where at all, he manages to send you on a journey. Jimin feels himself sighing in satisfaction at the music, body relaxing in his seat.
The song ends fairly quick, in Jimin's opinion, but it doesn't stop him from applauding the blushing boy on stage. He walks off and heads over to the bar, nodding in gratitude to many complimenting people who he passes by.
Jimin notices the poet from last week walking on stage, ears pointy and undeniably cute, and he eyes Jeongguk at the bar once more before gaining courage and walking over. He heaves a breath, fingers gripping his glass of water a bit tightly.
What's the worst that could possibly happen?
Jeongguk could freak and possibly never want to see Jimin ever in his life again (not that ever do interact).
Ignoring the worst, Jimin sits on the empty stool next to the brunette.
"Hey." His voice comes out soft, non-threatening.
He senses Jeongguk recognizes him because he sees him flinch for a second. He sets down his glass of water and turns slowly in his seat. Jimin gulps in nervousness and avoids the jock's eyes.
"J-Jimin." He sounds surprised, not mad. A good sign, Jimin takes.
"The one and only." The blonde smiles sheepishly. He gets no reply, simply an astonished glance and decides to take it from there. "I uh, heard you sing. You have an amazing voice."
Jeongguk reddens slightly, scratches the back of neck and sheepishly smiles. "Thanks. I'm not a pro or anything, but I like to sing."
Happy with getting a response, Jimin laughs quietly, "Could've fooled me with being a pro. You even had the guitar thing going on."
Jeongguk chuckles before looking down at his hands. The atmosphere is tense, Jimin knows they can both feel it. There are questions lingering in the air.
Jimin looks at the boy who is searching to find the right words and continuing to stare at his hands.
"Jimin." His name is said exasperatedly, like a plead. The blonde thinks he knows what is going to be said next.
"Can you please not tell anyone about this?" There it is. The "I'm secretly gay but everyone thinks I'm straight because I need to stay on the football team" card. Jimin was expecting it.
He stares at the way the boy nervously wrings his hands together and avoids eye contact. Jimin can feel slight sympathy. He knew what it was like to be scared of being judged. He's been there.
"Okay." He says quietly before finishing his glass of water and leaving the lounge as if the conversation ever happened.
Routines are like vines that ravel themselves onto any surface. Once they begin, it's hard to unravel the leaves that grip what it has under.
Jimin and Jeongguk go to Lava Lamp every Thursday.
Jimin sits at his usual seat in the back, Jungkook comes in with his usual beanie, guitar and shy smile. They acknowledge each other with smiles, then Jimin proceeds to the bar to make conversation. Unlike at school where they avoid each other's eyes.
Today is slightly different though.
Instead of Jimin meeting Jeongguk at the bar after his performance like he usually does, the blonde stays seated in the back of the lounge. He doesn't miss the questioning glances he gets from Jeongguk every few minutes.
He hears footsteps approaching him and he knows even before he turns who it is.
"Jim-" The blonde turns with a forced smile.
"Oh my God, Jimin what happened?" Frantic hands are on his face in no time, carefully avoiding the large forming bruise on Jimin's eye.
Your friends are what happened, he's tempted to say.
Instead he sighs, "Had an accident when running during P.E. It's not a big deal."
The hands stay put on his face, soft and not too rough on the bruise. "Jimin, don't lie to me." The blonde manages to avoid answering before he meets eyes with the brunette.
He's wearing a new beanie, he notices.
"Jake elbowed me after I walked into the bathroom while he was peeing at the urinals." He whispers.
"Fuck." Jeongguk grits out. He looks angrily at the ground and breathes harshly through his nose. He then looks up at the blonde with a sorrowful look.
"I'm so sorry."
Jimin gulps, "it's not your fault." Because it isn't. Jake is just a homophobic piece of shit and Jimin should have ran out the bathroom when he had the chance.
"I'm going to beat his ass." Jeongguk says quietly. He continues to stroke Jimin's cheeks before meeting his eyes again. They hold sincerity and truth.
Jimin feels safe when looking at Jeongguk.
Like a spoken promise, Jeongguk leans forward and kisses Jimin softly.
I'll keep you safe.
"Hey." Jimin looks around curiously.
He recognizes the voice, but can't seem to find the source.
"Psst, Jimin. I'm in the closet."
Snorting, Jimin walks into the janitor's closet that is close to his locker. "How long did you think of that one?"
Jeongguk looks genuinely confused before he visibly realizes his words and scoffs. "oh shut it. I thought we were past the closet jokes. We're in the 90s now."
Jimin, deciding not to reply, simply hums before quickly kissing the boy.
Jeongguk is obviously not satisfied and grips the blonde by the waist and kisses the boy longer.
"Are you sure we should be doing this here?" Jimin places his hands on the brunette's chest and looks up in concern.
Jeongguk places a quick kiss on his lips. "We'll be fine. No one comes in here. Not even the janitor." He then proceeds to place his mouth on the other boy's and the conversation is concluded to be over.
Jimin feels slightly anxious. He's used to the stares, the murmuring. He's been used to it since the day he placed a rainbow pin proudly on his backpack.
But today, something about all the attention seems a little off. He proceeds to his locker, trying his best to not make eye contact with anyone in the hallway.
"Jimin!" He hears his best friend from near his locker. He quickly walks over to the boy and looks at him in question.
"Why didn't you tell me?! You know I don't judge about who you date!"
Jimin looks at the boy in confusion. "What?"
"You and Golden Boy!" Jimin's freezes in his actions and his eyes widen.
"What are you talking about?" He tries his best to be calm. Please let this be a joke.
"This!" And as if ink could possibly fall out of the sky, Taehyung moves out of the way of Jimin's locker and he can see a picture that certainly should not be there. His heart quickens in beats and his throat closes slightly.
Jeongguk, his mind immediately repeats.
No no no no, Jeongguk must be devastated.
Ignoring his best friend's shouts, Jimin pushes him out the way and rushes down the hallway.
He needs to find Jeongguk.
You know that feeling where your heart is beating so fast, you think it's going to bounce out of your chest? Or when everything around you seems to go by in a blur?
Yeah well, Jimin knows that exact feeling. With every second he can't find Jeongguk, the more the feeling intensifies. He already looked for the boy at his locker, the cafeteria and the janitor's closet.
The damn closet where the photo was taken. The photo that started all of this madness.
Nearing the gym, Jimin feels out of breath. He takes a step near the locker rooms to gather his breathing when he hears muffled voices coming from the inside. Recognizing the lovely airy voice of Jeongguk's, Jimin rushes into the locker rooms, slamming the door shut in the process. He's met with surprised stares and one horrified one.
The entire football team is crowded around Jeongguk, an image Jimin is so familiar with if he were placed in his boyfriend's shoes.
"Leave him alone." Jimin's voice comes out weak and frail. He feels useless.
The boys chuckle. "Awe look at your twink of a boyfriend Jeongguk. He came to save you." The quarterback, Jake, jokes.
"Fuck off." Jeongguk grits out.
The boys seems to look at each other before Jake knees Jeongguk in the stomach, causing him to fall to the ground with a groan.
"NO" Jimin rushes towards him but two of the boys grip his arms and pull them behind his body.
"Leave Jimin out of this!" Jeongguk yells, one hand placed around his stomach and eyes full of concern as he eyes his boyfriend.
"Who would've known that the golden boy was a pansy. Is he why you didn't go to games or practice on Thursdays? Huh?" Jake continued to kick at Jeongguk with every sentence he spoke. "You guys meet up and give each other bro jobs?" The boys chuckle while Jake continuously harasses Jeongguk. Jimin cries at not being able to help at all.
"Can't believe a pansy like you was ever on our team." Jake looks undeniably angry. His face reddens scarily and he continues to send blows to Jeongguk. Jeongguk's figure disappears each blow, moving furthing away from Jimin's line of vision.
"Stop, Stop!" Jimin continues to sob in the arms of the football players. He thrashes but comes to no use.
They continue until they hear approaching footsteps and a bang to the door.
"What the hell is going on here?!" The gym teacher, and coach of the football team eyes the scene in confusion before noticing Jeongguk's bloody body on the floor and reddening.
"You boys go the principal's office now!" He yells and Jake finally walks away from Jeongguk, Jimin sighing in relief. "You all are suspended from the team."
"But coach!" They chase after the man, leaving Jimin to attend to his boyfriend.
"Jeongguk, baby. I'm so sorry." He sobs until he can't see anything. The only reassurance he's receiving is the touch of Jeongguk's hand.
"Shh baby." Jeongguk's voice is quiet. "I told you I'd keep you safe."
And in Jeongguk's arms, Jimin knew, was another place in which he belonged.