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Credo Quia Absurdum Est (I believe it because it is absurd)

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28.02.1919
London, Oxford Circus Station

Yoongi knows that the prohibition is a bitch to anyone whom it doesn't profit, but the Peaky Blinders won't have that problem.

It's been a long time coming, but they've finally jumped on the import and export bandwagon, courtesy of one money-minded bastard by the name of Kim Seokjin. It feels like an eternity's passed since the last time he'd laid eyes on the unnecessarily handsome man, and Yoongi cocks his head with a scoff. "You haven't changed one fucking bit," he deadpans drily, glancing at the pristine automobile the elder is leaning against. "Even if it's convenient to get around, aren't you embarrassed to flaunt your green like this?"

"Money is for spending," Seokjin informs him— Patient and slow, like Yoongi is a small child who doesn't understand the fundamental concept of finance. "I moved to London for a reason, you know. With the rewards I've reaped, I won't have myself living like a pauper from Small Heath."

"You're talking pretty big for someone who was raised in the same shithole as me." God. It's been all of 5 seconds, and Yoongi already wants to strangle the guy. He tugs on the peaked brim of his cap instead, fingers tracing along the seam. "I've forgotten how fucking annoying you are."

"That certainly won't do." Unflappable asshole that he is, Seokjin doesn't even blink. Setting a hand on Yoongi's shoulder, he chuckles and guides the younger towards the car. "I suppose it's prudent that over the next few months, I remind you exactly how annoying I can be."

"Don't do useless shit like that; all you'll have to do is breathe in the same room as me." Yoongi grumbles, getting into the passenger's seat. Callously tossing his case into the back of the car, he waits for Seokjin to round the car and get in— Take the wheel. "Fucking Nams… If it weren't for the fucking Blinders, I'd have been happy spending the rest of my life not seeing you again."

"Lying this early in the day is gauche."

"Did I fucking stutter?"

Smiling, Seokjin turns the key. The car rumbles to life, and he carefully takes them out onto the road, away from the train station. "It's been a very long time, Yoongi," he offers softly, keeping his eyes firmly on the road. It's probably the first genuine thing he's said since they laid eyes on one another. "I'm glad you're well."

('That you made it through the war,' he doesn't need to add.)

Yoongi hears it, though; hears it loud and clear. "Shut up," he scoffs derisively, slouching in his seat. His shoulder throbs – motherfucking Verdun – and he digs his fingers into his side to distribute the pain. Turning to look out the window, he knowingly glares at the dark clouds scattering the distant horizon. "You're just as fucking sappy as you used to be."

('You too,' he thinks, but doesn't say. 'I'm glad you made it too, Jin.')

 

 

01.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"I already said this yesterday, but your fucking house is stupidly big."

"Good morning to you, too." Turning the page of the papers, Seokjin doesn't even look his way. "And my house is moderately sized, actually. I host far more modest dinner parties than most… For business, of course."

"Sure you do." Rolling his eyes, Yoongi sinks into the chair on the elder's right. "That why this table looks like something out of the Last Supper?" It's fucking long; how many chairs are there on either side of the damn thing, anyway?

"Did you just reference the bible or the painting?" Apparently, this warrants a lifted brow; Seokjin even offers him a bright and patronizing smile. "Either way, that's unexpectedly cultured of you."

Slamming his hand on the table, Yoongi growls. "I'll fucking shank you, asshole."

"Don't threaten the hand that feeds you," Seokjin cautions Yoongi with a laugh, peering at the younger over the Finance section. "For the next few months, you're under my roof."

"I'll rent a place."

"Don't be cold."

"It's a lot of work, putting up with your shit," Yoongi points out flatly, glancing at a maid when she enters the room. She rests a covered tray on the table by his hand, withdrawing and leaving the room with a polite smile. "When are we actually getting to the business part of my trip? The sooner I get back to Small Heath, the better."

"Oh?" Seokjin perks up with interest, folding the papers on his lap. Lifting his hand, he delicately circles his pinkie in the air. "How curious. Don't tell me you finally have someone waiting for you back home?"

Unbelievable. "Only thing I've got waiting for me at mine is a stiff drink… And Taehyung, sometimes, if he breaks in to use my fucking phone again," Yoongi scoffs, reaching out and pulling the cover off his breakfast tray. It's heavy on the bacon, which is nice. "I've said it a million times to Nams and Seok; our careers don't exactly lend themselves to happy endings."

"You're morbid this morning."

"I'm being realistic, you shithead," Yoongi scowls, stabbing a rasher and cramming it into his mouth. Chewing quickly, he levels Seokjin with a heated glare. "And don't change the subject. Nams didn't send me here for a fucking holiday, so where are we on getting our papers?"

"I'll be meeting with a man named Alfie Solomons soon. He's our primary partner— A Jewish man who makes a mint in the distillery business, he runs his dirty operation through a 'bakery' located in Camden Town," Seokjin informs Yoongi with a sigh, looking slightly put out. "He's infamous for despising Gypsies, so you should be prepared to tolerate some jokes in poor taste on his part."

Oh? It's been a long time since Yoongi's tolerated low brow racism. Back in Birmingham, that shit doesn't fly. "Sticks and stones," he decides airily, practically inhaling his eggs. Seokjin's supposed to take him around town today, and he's not a fan of wasting his time— The sooner they get shit done outside, the more he gets to sleep at night. "Assholes mouth off to me all the time."

"You seem so sure of yourself, but your temper is legendary," Seokjin points out, patently amused. "Everyone knows of Birmingham's rabid dog, you know. To people in London, you're even more famous than the Peaky Blinders."

His shitty ring name? Seriously? "That's ancient fucking history."

"Not to people down here," Seokjin says peacefully, quartering the newspapers on his knee. He sets them on the table in a neat pile, cocking his head. "And you need to have some self-awareness; we're living in an age where words are a fist fight."

"A fist fight's a fucking fist fight; end of story," Yoongi corrects the elder drily, unimpressed. Shaking his head, he refocuses his attention on his breakfast. "Have a semblance of fucking faith in me; I'm not going to punch our gift horse in the face, and it's definitely not going to be the first time I have to take shit from someone on the other end of a contract."

Smiling serenely, Seokjin leans back in his seat. "If I play my cards right, we'll be able to meet him in a few days," he cautions, sounding more pleased than skeptical. "I hope you're prepared; he's quite the character."

"You've run all of this by Nams, haven't you?" The leader's instincts have never led them astray, and he isn't counting on Seokjin to cock that up just yet— The elder's sense in business is extreme, but profitable. If he thinks Solomons' their man, Yoongi doesn't see any reason to doubt him. "As long as he sticks to his end of the bargain, I'm not going to have problems with the guy."

"Don't say I didn't warn you."

"Let me finish my fucking eggs in peace, you old nag."

"Old— There's no need to be rude. Besides, I'm only a year older than you, so you're really calling yourself—"

'It's for the Blinders,' Yoongi thinks to himself stoically, ignoring Seokjin's defensive tirade in favor of decimating everything on his plate. This business venture's been in the making for months; Namjoon's seen an opportunity in a fever dream, Seokjin's laid the ground work, and now he's been sent to London to finalize it all.

Yoongi's no sentimental bastard, but if it's for the Peaky Blinders, he'll tolerate anything.

(That's just what you do for family, he guesses.)

 

 

05.03.1919
London, Camden Town, The Solomons Bakery

Alfie Solomons is a fucking dickwagon. In fact – and this is entirely unprecedented – Yoongi thinks the guy is somehow even more annoying than Seokjin.

"Fucking Gypsies, right?" The man says by way of greeting, taking them down a corridor. He bellows with laughter when something explodes to his right, flailing an arm at his men. "Fucking hell, lads, not bad— Keep a lid on it, though. So," Solomons smirks, turning to look at Yoongi and Seokjin over his shoulder, "what do you live in, a fucking tent or caravan?"

"Manor, actually." Seokjin smiles, sidestepping a man rolling a barrel of whiskey down the hall. "I own a lot on Mayfair."

"He ain't the Gypsy; I am," Yoongi corrects Solomons blandly, fingers itching for a cigarette. Fuck Seokjin and his sensitive nose, seriously. Then again, maybe it's just as well that he isn't having one; he doesn't know how liable he is to put it out in Alfie's better eye. "Half, on my mother's side."

(That whore.)

Solomons laughs. "Only thing worse than a purebred Gypsy's a mutt, I always say."

What a fucking piece of work. "No one asked—"

"Quite the setup you've made for yourself here, right by the canal," Seokjin cuts in, eyes bright and attentive. Solomons' 'bakery' is huge; underground, it stretches across at least 4 buildings on the lot. "You have it all; the manpower, the location and the resources— Must be convenient for both production and distribution."

"Oh, you've noticed?" Solomons grins, his teeth gleaming as he gestures to his left. Hundreds of barrels are stacked up against the wall, each with a messy number blowtorched into the head, close to the chime. "We bake all sorts here, mate. We bake the white bread, we bake the brown bread… Do you know we bake close to 10,000 loaves a week?"

"It's come to our attention," Yoongi murmurs, glancing at Seokjin. The elder looks for all the world like he could be on a date right now; it's sort of maddening, how this sort of business no longer seems to intimidate or turn his companion off in the least. It's been a long time, but still. "That's why we're here."

"Would you like to try some?" Solomons offers, pausing by a table in the next room. He lifts a bottle off the surface, holding it up to the light with his head cocked. "Bread?"

Seokjin slows to a still, slowly moving his hands out the pockets of his coat. "Alright," he concedes with a nod, seemingly pleased. "Why not?"

"What would you fancy? Brown or white?"

Yoongi glances at Seokjin before turning his gaze on Solomons expectantly. "We'll try the brown," he decides, looking over the man's shoulder. They're right in front of what he thinks is Alfie's office; it's got two men on the doors, even though no one's inside the room. "Whiskey?"

"It's bread, mate— Fuckin' bread," Solomons emphasizes with a grunt, taking the cap off the bottle he's already got in hand. Turning up a couple of glasses, he pours a neat measure into each, sloshing some onto the table callously. "Just bread," he drawls again, eyes half-lidded as he gestures for both Yoongi and Seokjin to step forward. "At your own time."

"Not bad," Seokjin says neutrally after a sip, eager to keep the peace.

"Not bad?" Solomons repeats after him, brow lifted.

"It's fucking shitty whiskey," Yoongi deadpans in the same beat, spitting back into the glass. He believes that honesty is the best policy in business; if Solomons is bottling this crap for his clients, the deal is off— He'd best be on his way back to Birmingham by nightfall. "It bites the lip, it's watered down, it burns like a fucking venereal disease and I'll be tasting that shit for the rest of the day. Tell me you aren't fucking serious."

Solomons stares at him for a long time before snorting, slamming a hand on the table and folding over with a gruff outburst of laughter. "It's fucking awful, that stuff," he agrees with Yoongi around a sneer, scoffing. "The fucking brown stuff is awful— It's for the workers, yeah? For the lads."

Sighing a little laboriously, Seokjin rests his nearly untouched glass on the table and reaches into his pocket for a handkerchief, pressing the corner onto his tongue behind his hand to scrub the taste out of his palate.

"White stuff, now that's for the bosses." Curling his fingers in the air, Solomons beckons them over to the room Yoongi had guessed was his office. "Come on, now; let's really get to business."

Following the guy, Yoongi hangs back to snicker at Seokjin's plight. His companion's a connoisseur in gastronomy; having the burn of subpar whiskey on his tongue must be killing him far more than it's killing Yoongi. "All good there?" He jibes knowingly with a smirk. "How's that handkerchief working out for you?"

"I will hurt you once this is over," Seokjin remarks drily. "It may not further our business or erase the taste of that atrocity, but it will bring me undeniable pleasure."

Yoongi grins, lowering his head. "Promises, promises," he scoffs. "You fucking sadist."

"See?" The elder eases his facial expression back to serene as he shuts the door behind him, smiling at Solomons' invitation for them to sit across from him at his desk. "You do know my heart, Yoongi."

(Seokjin's so god damned full of shit, seriously. The only thing Yoongi knows for sure about the elder's heart is that he isn't sure where it is.

Somewhere on the fields of the First Battle of Marne, maybe.)



"I've heard some bad things about you people up in Birmingham," Solomons says, halfway through a glass of whiskey. He's got a cigarette hanging from his lips, the smoke pluming up towards the ceiling. "They say that you," he adds, pointing at Yoongi with a glint in his eye, "were saved by a fucking policeman."

"Rumors only," Yoongi dismisses with a baleful sniff. "He tried to shank me for someone else, and I put him down like a dog. Get your facts straight."

"But we do have policemen on our payroll, Mr. Solomons," Seokjin says calmly, sitting up in his chair. "Both in Birmingham and in London."

"See, I don't like policemen," Solomons sighs, sagging. Sparing a distasteful look for his half-done cigarette, he stubs it out on a tray by his hand. "Can't trust policemen— Can't even fucking trust the gossip about policemen."

They've been dancing around for a while now, and Yoongi's getting sick of Solomons' bullshit. "Sabini uses policemen all the time," he counters drily, glancing at the way Alfie's fingers twitch on the rim of his glass. "That's why he's winning the fucking war in London, and you're losing it."

"And the war ain't fuckin' over till it's over, mate," Solomons insists slowly, narrowing his eyes at Yoongi. "Were you in the war?"

Yoongi doesn't think he needs to dignify that with a response.

(Non sum qualis eram.

It's branded into his skin over his hip, and he doesn't need to define his fucking suffering to anyone.)

"I once carried out my own personal form of stigmata on an Italian," Solomons overshares, even though no one's asked. Slumping against the back of his chair, he flaps an arm flippantly. "I pushed his face up against the trench and shoved a six-inch nail up his fucking nose— Hammered it home with a duck board."

Again, Yoongi doesn't dignify this with a response.

"It was fucking biblical, mate," Solomons slurs lowly, eyes dark and heavy as he reaches under the table, "so don't come in here and sit there in my chair and tell me that I'm losing my war to a fucking wop."

"That war was a long time ago," Seokjin chooses to intervene, carefully pleasant. Like Yoongi, he's keeping an eye on Solomons' hand, and where the fuck it's disappeared to. "You need to be more realistic."

"Fuck— You want to do it like this? Fucking fine," Solomons finally scowls, leaning over the edge of the table. "I'm here, aren't I? And you're here. So, what the fuck do the Peaky fucking Blinders want with me?"

"We join forces," Yoongi details simply.

Predictably, this is immediately met with opposition. "Fuck off," Solomons spits around a laugh, incredulous and offended and defensive. "No! Categorical— Fucking ridiculous."

"Mr. Solomons, your distillery provides one-tenth of your income," Seokjin states, interlacing his fingers on his knee. "Protection is another 10%, and the rest you make from the race tracks."

Glancing to his left, Solomons' hand moves.

"I know you keep a gun in the drawer," Yoongi drawls lazily, sitting up and leaning forward. Resting his elbows on his thighs, he hunches his back and cocks his head. "I know you keep it beside the whiskey. My colleague and I both know that you offer a deal or death."

"I know what we are saying makes you angry, but we're here to offer you a solution," Seokjin adds serenely, irritating Yoongi with his fucking finesse. "Mr. Sabini is running all your bookies off your courses. He is closing down the premises that take your… Bread, and people don't trust your protection anymore."

Solomons remains silent— Contemplative.

"The Peaky Blinders can offer you 100 good men— All with weapons," Yoongi promises, knowing full well that he has leeway to give Solomons 50 more names. Hopefully, Alfie doesn't suss that out. "And a new relationship with the police, both here and in Birmingham."

"Intelligence," Solomons finally speaks, sounding far too composed. "Intelligence is a very valuable thing, innit, my friend?"

Yoongi doesn't move.

In the next second, he has a gun pointed at him, squarely between his eyes.

"And usually it comes far too fucking late," Solomons finishes belatedly, his aim unwavering.

Mutely, Yoongi stares right down the barrel into Alfie's eyes.

"Let's say I shot you already, right, in the fucking face. The bullet goes bone, mush, bone, cabinet over there," Solomons says somewhat cheerfully, now that he's got the draw on them— He's even waving the gun over Yoongi's shoulder for a second, presumably at a fucking cabinet. "Which is a shame, innit? 'Cause that cabinet's fucked now, and I've got to get a shot out of it."

Seokjin flinches— Yoongi holds out a steady hand to stop him from moving.

"So, what I'd do is this; it's fucking simple, mate." Holding up his free arm, Solomons shows them the flat of his hand. "I cut that cabinet in half, don't I? I do, I just literally cut the cabinet in half. And I take one half of the cabinet, right, and put it into a barrel and I take the other half of the cabinet in all its pieces and I put that into another barrel, right? And I send one barrel off to Mandalay."

'God,' Yoongi thinks to himself irritably, 'this shithead's longwinded.' It's the most uninspiring death threat he's ever received.

"And I'll ship the other barrel off to somewhere like… Fuck. I don't know, Timbuktu." Sighing, Solomons shrugs. Almost casually, he lifts an eyebrow at Yoongi. "You ever been? Timbuktu, I mean."

"No," Yoongi says succinctly.

"No?" Solomons repeats after him, sounding almost surprised by the fact that Yoongi's never been to motherfucking Timbuktu. God, this asshole's nuts; Namjoon's asked him to conduct business with a fucking psycho. "Would you like to go?"

Enough's enough— They're wasting daylight, and he's not about to play games with a fucking lunatic. Standing up, Yoongi grabs onto the barrel of the gun— Forces the muzzle right between his eyes, on the bridge of his nose. He's fucking pissed now.

Solomons' eyes widen with shock that he just can't dial back in time.

"No," Yoongi says again, resolute.

For a long time, nobody moves.

"You know," Solomons says eventually, "I always thought that you Gypsies would have a great, big, fucking gold ring in your noses."

Seokjin's shoulders loosen.

Yoongi lets go of the gun— Sits back down.

"I'm sorry, go on," Solomons tells Seokjin, almost apologetically as he tosses his firearm onto the table. It makes a loud thudding noise, the cylinder scratching against worn wood. "Tell us your plan, then, Mr. Business Man."

 

 

09.03.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

For the most part, he's pushing papers, and Yoongi's fucking sick of it. He hasn't left Seokjin's manor in almost 3 days, save for having a cigarette out on the green every now and then, and he's getting restless as fuck.

"I'm going stir crazy," he tells Seokjin over lunch, caving. "We're sitting on licenses. Let's get the fuck out of here for once."

"Anything for you, your highness," Seokjin retorts with a perennial smile, slicing into his venison steak. "If you'd wanted to go on a date, you could have just said so."

"Fuck you."

"You aren't my type," Seokjin says sweetly, having the nerve to sound apologetic, "but we'll find you someone, if you'd like."

Yoongi turns it over in his head. It's been a while. "Maybe," he allows generously, after brief consideration. "Are Londoners better in bed than us plebeians from Small Heath?"

"I haven't thought much about it. Would you like me to take you to a sex den?"

"What the fuck? Jin, no."

"It was merely a suggestion—"

It's why the night finds them out on the streets. Yoongi doesn't know London as well as he'd like, but he can't say he's attracted to the glitz and glamor of it all— Having been born to jack shit, he's used to jack shit, and the city's wastefulness eats at him the same way his stomach had eaten at itself in his youth. "Where the literal fuck are we going?" He asks for the third time, annoyed at Seokjin for hedging. "I hope you know that if you take me to a sex den, I will kill you with my bare hands."

"Consider this; I am capable of making jokes," Seokjin points out flatly, giving Yoongi an unimpressed look. "I'm not taking you to a sex den, Yoongi; they're poorly run, unsanitary and even I don't visit such places."

"So where the fuck are we going?" Fourth time, Jesus.

"A dance lounge."

God's sake. "You know I fucking hate loud places, Jin."

"Focus on the 'lounge' part and put up with it— They've just got another half hour of the swing crowd, and then it's onto jazz and blues by midnight," Seokjin chuckles, taking a turn at the corner of the street. Two women pass him by, both giving him eyes and a giggle in unison; Yoongi vomits a little in his mouth. "I have it on good authority that the scene at Ophel is good, past the common hour."

Once they arrive, they're greeted by upbeat swing music that ebbs through the open doors and down the marbled steps. The Ophel Lounge stands tall— It's ostentatious and grand, and as promised by Seokjin, it's appears to be the latest blooming establishment of Throgmorton Street.

Yoongi passes a group of the drunkards coming down the steps, making a face. "Make this easy for the both of us," he requests of Seokjin, already dreading what lies ahead. "Just fucking kill me."

"You're so dramatic," Seokjin chides, guiding Yoongi past a bevy of women with cute trilby hats sitting off the sides of their heads. "Come, I'll get us a table near the floor— We'll wait out the din and enjoy a quieter crowd soon enough."

"I fucking hate you," Yoongi informs him very seriously.

"I, too, appreciate your candor."

God fucking damn it all. Grabbing onto a passing waiter's arm once they're seated, Yoongi yanks him close. "Bring us some whiskey!" He shouts over the ruckus, because he's far too sober to tolerate the voluminous mass of people swarming the floor. "Enough of it to fucking kill me!"

"You're so crass," Seokjin sighs tiredly, waving over the hesitant waiter with a reassuring nod. "I saw someone being served Buffalo Trace bourbon on our way in. We'll have ourselves a bottle in kind— Have the bar keep my tab open."

"Yes, sir."

Yoongi's attention wavers, irritating as it all is, to the dance floor. There are all kinds out there; a melting pot of men and women, paper-thin fabric clinging to golden sweat-sweet skin— Eye candy aplenty, but the mess of the mob turns him off. "Disgusting," he murmurs, leaning over and glaring at Seokjin. "This is how Londoners choose to while the night away?"

"As far as we've known each other, have I ever erred in taste?" Seokjin sighs, despondent as he rests a hand on the younger's shoulders. His lips quirk, and he nods towards the far left of the stage. "Be watchful, Yoongi. The night's only just begun, and I've heard that The Ophel boasts of a beautiful gem."

"A gem?" Yoongi repeats after Seokjin with a scoff, his head turning. "That a moniker?"

"One I've heard to be well-granted." His head lilting to the right, Seokjin chuckles and gestures to the floor. "Over there. The man who captivates and ensnares the unwise— They call him Makeda of Sheba."

Makeda.

He's wearing a white dress, the sheer lace of the hem clinging to his thighs. A half mask is tied across his face, the gentle bridge of his nose holding up the elaborate piece. His legs—

Shit, just the way he moves.

Watching him slows the chaos in the lounge. Yoongi's eyes are dull as he traces the man's steps across the polished wooden floor. No one's on it save for the lone dancer now, the loud click of his heels in sharp beat with the music as he tears his way across the floor, fire lapping at his ankles. He's alternating with partners standing off the side, waiting their turn for a shot with the most attractive man Yoongi's seen in London since Seokjin.

"Damn," he says eloquently.

"I've been told his name is Park Jimin— A boy turned pearl of the London nightclub scene," Seokjin informs him, at ease as he lazily eyes the blonde. "I told you, Yoongi," he adds, smug and fucking unapologetic as he taps his index finger delicately against his temple, "I have never erred in taste."



"You're a new face."

They're an hour in, and Seokjin's off meeting and greeting the social, financial and political elites of London. The crowd's thinned enough for Yoongi to breathe without bumping into anyone, which is the only reason he finds himself at the bar with an Old Fashioned in hand. He's blissfully alone to enjoy a cigarette and the one drink he'll tolerate as far as cocktails go—

That is, till Park Jimin had deemed him worthy of his time.

"Everyone's a new face to me— I'm not from these parts," Yoongi counters easily, turning to rest his arm on the counter. Waving the bartender over, he nods towards Jimin and tugs on the brim of his cap. "Whatever he wants, on my tab."

(On Seokjin's tab, really, but Yoongi doesn't give a shit.)

"A Brogue; light on the lavender," Jimin tell the bartender, drawing closer to Yoongi. Cocking his head, his lips curl with a sweet smile. "I'm Park Jimin. Thank you for the drink, darling."

"Yoongi. And don't call me darling."

Jimin remains unfazed. "Not big on pet names?"

Grunting, the elder lifts his cocktail to his lips. "They don't suit a man like me."

"Insofar, I'm inclined to agree." Jimin watches Yoongi drink, eyes tracking the bobbing of his Adam's apple in his throat. "Whereabouts are you from?"

"Birmingham."

"Saltley?"

Lifting a brow, Yoongi rests his glass on the table. "Small Heath," he corrects, lifting his hand and tapping at the peaked brim of his cap. Jimin's eyes widen a fraction. "Cesspool of the north."

The bartender returns with Jimin's cocktail, and the dancer receives it carefully. "That would be reaching, I think," he says eventually, eyes softening as his gaze rests on the lavender garnish. "I've heard many things about the men who have their run of Small Heath."

"Bad things, I'm assuming?"

"That depends on who's asking, doesn't it?"

"And if I'm asking?"

"Then I've only heard good things," Jimin retorts immediately, leaning in and tapping at the razor sewn into the seam of Yoongi's cap. It catches the light off of the nearest chandelier, casting a soft glow on the far wall behind the bar. "Blinder," he adds softly in Yoongi's ear, breath hot against the shell of it.

Oh, this one's quick on the uptake. Yoongi likes him; it helps that the dancer also recognizes him for who he is now and not who he had been in the ring, eons ago. "You know me?"

"I know your kind."

"Do you, now?" This back and forth seems supremely disingenuous. Still, as far as making a move goes, Yoongi doesn't think he's doing half a bad job just yet— He tests the waters by placing a hand on Jimin's waist, pulling him a little closer. "My kind… And what about you, Park Jimin? Are you of a kind?"

"I'm not for sale, if that's what you mean," Jimin informs Yoongi gently, even though he makes no move to retreat. He seems to be enjoying the attention, if the way he leans even further into the elder's space is anything to go by. "At the request of many loyal patrons, I'm simply paid to dance here. Sometimes I sing, and the owner offers me a fairly decent wage."

"I see." It's not like Yoongi had any ideas about Jimin being a prostitute, but he'll bite— See where this goes, exactly.

"Did you think I was a whore?"

A part of him wonders if it's instinctive of the younger to defend himself like this; beneath the lovely gloss of his lips and the precarious height of his heels, Yoongi thinks it's a little sad. "We're all whores, doll," he grants cautiously, eyes drawn to the adorably imperfect crook of Jimin's front teeth through the slight gape of his mouth, the gentle slopes of his cheeks and his smoked lashes— He's extremely beautiful. "We just sell different parts of ourselves."

The dancer seems to consider this for a while, his eyes half-lidded as he turns Yoongi's bittersweet adage over in his head. "So?" Jimin asks eventually, lifting his gaze and drawing close enough that they're sharing the same breath.

Damn. There's an expectant look in his eyes, and Yoongi's not entirely sure what the question is. "So?" He repeats after Jimin quietly, hand drifting to the small of the younger's back.

"So," Jimin blinks at him, sweet and deceptively demure even as his head lilts to the side— Even as his lips drag against the column of Yoongi's neck right up to the spot beneath his ear, even as their bodies end up pressed together from their shoulders to down to their thighs. "What part of yourself are you going to sell to me tonight?"



As it happens, Jimin lives in the attic of the building that houses The Ophel Lounge. Yoongi doesn't particularly care about this, other than the fact that it makes for a very convenient place to sequester themselves for the rest of the night.

They're already kissing halfway up the steps, breath heavy. Yoongi licks against the seam of Jimin's lips, tasting whiskey and smelling lavender and feeling lightheaded with want. "Fuck," he curses heatedly, eyes half-lidded as the younger moans into his mouth, almost tripping onto the platform. "Shit."

(It's been too fucking long since he's had a warm body— Even longer since that warm body's come attached to a face he wouldn't mind waking up to the next morning.

Not that that's likely to happen or anything, but Yoongi's just saying; he wouldn't mind.)

"Stop cussing; I'll start thinking you want to be elsewhere," Jimin murmurs under his breath, voice pitchy as he takes Yoongi by the wrist. Leading the elder to a door, he throws it open. "Hurry—"

"Demanding."

"Want me to slow down?"

"Fast women and slow horses will ruin any man," Yoongi quotes his dead mother, laughing drily as he stumbles in. Waiting till Jimin bolts the door to his room shut, he yanks the pretty boy towards him with a hand around his waist— Swallows the surprised gasp that spills from the dancer's lips and laughs breathlessly after. "You gonna ruin me, doll?"

"I'm no woman," Jimin breathes around a smile, eyes hazy. The strap of his dress slips off the curve of his shoulder, exposing a gold-dusted collarbone that Yoongi immediately fixes his mouth over. "Ah—"

"You make a compelling argument," Yoongi admits between sucking a bruise to skin, one hand moving to cup and squeeze the swell of Jimin's ass. The other lingers between the younger's shoulder blades, holding him up as the dancer wobbles on his feet with a muffled cry of need. "But are you fast?"

"I can be fast." Fingers digging into the elder's back, Jimin crushes himself against Yoongi with a desperation that licks arousal into the air. Reaching down between them, the dancer palms Yoongi's cock through his slacks, clearly gratified by the resulting moan that echoes off the walls in the attic. "I can be slow, too— I can be anything you want to be."

Jesus. This was going to kill Yoongi, but what a way to go. "Is that right?"

"You'll see."

(Jimin is right.

It doesn't even take half the night, and Yoongi does see.)

 

 

10.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"I was wondering when you'd return," Seokjin greets Yoongi pleasantly at the door, making the younger tsk with irritation. "How was he? The Makeba of Sheba."

Fuck's sake; he'd been trying to sneak in and everything. It's the crack of motherfucking dawn and he knew they'd both drank their weight in alcohol, so how the hell is the businessman so damn chipper? "The guy has a fucking name," Yoongi deadpans, striding past Seokjin with less dignity than he typically has in his walk of shame. Why the fuck is it so embarrassing to be called out for having sex, anyway? He feels like a bumbling teen caught with his hand in his slacks. "Leave me alone."

Closing the door and turning the lock, Seokjin's silent for a beat. "You must have enjoyed yourself," he says knowingly, the corner of his lips quirked with amusement as he watches Yoongi climb the stairs. "Mouthy, loose-limbed and deflecting— All these years, and your tells haven't changed."

"I'll cave your fucking head in with one of your own stupidly expensive vases."

Annoyingly unruffled and sadistically intrigued, Seokjin simply chuckles and leans against the banister. "That good?"

Rounding on his heel at the top of the stairs, Yoongi levels Seokjin with a glare. "Shut the fuck up," he says flatly, the sweet aroma of Jimin's cologne still clinging to the collar of his inner shirt. They'd had sex through the twilight hours, and Jimin is lovely – the dancer must have been told this a hundred, thousand times, in bed and out of it – but there's something more alluring about him to Yoongi than the way he looks.

(The younger had come apart on the sheets beneath him, mouth parted around slurred, pleading sighs. With closed eyes and nothing but a voice to guide him home to release, Yoongi had learned – for the first time in his life – how good his name could sound on another man's tongue.

Jimin's voice…)

Yoongi pauses in his step, hand turning the doorknob to the guest room he's staying in.

Seokjin stills a few paces behind him, humming an unasked question.

"He was good," Yoongi admits eventually without turning to face Seokjin, conflicted. He's fucking annoyed for some reason; he hasn't let a lay get under his skin this much in years. All in all, it makes for a night as unpleasant as it had been pleasant, and he doesn't know what to fucking do. "Too good."

There's a beat that passes before Seokjin's hand grazes his arm, and the elder passes him by to return to his own bedroom. "Sleep well, Yoongi," he says softly, a gentle sort of severity in the timber of his voice.

 

 

13.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"While I'm visiting, Seokjin tells me you've found someone of interest to you," Namjoon smiles, lifting his glass to his lips. Across from him, Yoongi blanches with distaste. "Both Hoseok and I are happy for you, though I take it that you're unhappy with our dear childhood friend's lack of discretion."

"Seokjin's got a big fucking mouth, and one day I'm gonna stitch it shut," Yoongi scowls, snatching his lighter off the table. Putting a cigarette to his lips, he glares at Namjoon. "Watch me make it as painful for him as fucking possible, too."

"Let's not make threats amongst ourselves; we have plenty of enemies to contend with as it is," Namjoon points out, amused. Downing the rest of his drink, he reaches for the decanter and pours himself a new measure of rum. "Have you met him again? The boy from the lounge, I mean."

"I thought you sent me here to do business, not fuck my way through London."

"As far as I've been told, you've only slept with one person since you've arrive. Have I been misled?"

Jesus fucking Christ. Yoongi's not even going to dignify that with a response.

"Speaking of business," Namjoon segues effortlessly, tone heavier than before, "where are we on acquiring our papers?"

"Fuck if I know; everyone and their grandmother in London's been bought off by Sabini— Makes it hard for shit to move under his nose." Smoke plumes from Yoongi's lips, a tsk making a particularly thick cloud rise from his mouth. With his head lolling over the back of the chair, he stares at the roof of Seokjin's patio. "I don't know how good Solomons is at getting his way; all I know is that the guy's a fucking basket case."

"That bad?"

"Worse."

"Sounds like you have your work cut out for you here," Namjoon smiles, looking out over the green.

Yoongi glances at him, mildly disturbed by the silence that stretches between them. There's something distant about Namjoon— His eyes are eerily empty, have been since the war. It's why Yoongi has trouble holding his younger brother's gaze sometimes; it's almost as though he's still – painfully, bitterly – still trapped under the harrowing fields of Verdun and Somme.

(Well, Yoongi can't blame him.)

It's too fucking early in the day for him to think on this depressing bullshit. "When are our men set to arrive in London?" Yoongi asks, ashing his cigarette on the edge of his tray. "Solomons is taking his own sweet time on those licenses; maybe having more hands on deck will light a fire under the bastard's ass."

Namjoon hums, leaning back in his seat. "I'll send them by the 20th, at the latest," he decides quietly, head lilting to the side as he relaxes. "Hoseok and Taehyung are doing well on corralling decent men into our ranks— It helps, having such friendly guys at the top."

"Friendly's one way to put it."

"It's the most diplomatically correct way to put it, that's for sure," Namjoon smiles, closing his eyes. "With any luck, we'll outnumber Solomons' people in his own bakery by the end of the week— Moving forward will be easy, if we're ahead of schedule."

Scoffing, Yoongi stubs his cigarette out and rubs his nose, looking at the sky. "You look so fucking gentle, even when you're saying shit like that," he murmurs, staring at the clouds through half-lidded eyes. Namjoon chuckles beside him. "Makes me sick."

"That's what makes me good at my job."

'The war made us good at our jobs,' Yoongi thinks, but doesn't say. 'We've changed,' he believes, but doesn't say. 'It's killed us once,' he knows, but doesn't say.

('I won't let it kill you again,' he wants to promise, but he cannot bring himself to lie.)

 

 

16.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

Yoongi wakes up panting heavily, his cock hard and leaking a wet spot through his boxers.

"Fuck," he hisses, mind hazy and shoulder throbbing. He's somehow kicked the sheets almost all the way off— They're bundled at his knees, and the room's too god damned hot for words. The sun's not even up, and he hangs his head with a dull, "shit."

Park fucking Jimin, seriously.

What the hell had been so special about the damn dancer? He's looked good and sounded better, but Yoongi's been with enough people that one good fuck shouldn't matter this much. They'd had their fun, and had parted ways without so much as an, 'I'll see you around,' so what the hell was with this burning need to seek him out again?

If Yoongi had to describe the night they'd spent together, the phrase, 'no fuss, no frills,' comes to mind. They'd both known what they'd wanted from the moment they'd started talking; with minimal pretenses, Jimin had admitted him to his bed for the price of a good fucking. Once they'd both had their fill of each other, he'd bid Yoongi good night at the door with a smile— Blanket draped around his shoulders, fingers waggling with his tousled hair framing his pretty face.

("Goodbye, Yoongi.")

Not good night, but goodbye. And that had been enough, hadn't it? Shouldn't it? They'd had amazing sex, but that had been that; Jimin had been graciously transparent with his choice of words. Laughing humorlessly, Yoongi shakes his head; was he a fucking child? What's happened to him? It's been years since he's carelessly lost himself to someone like this, so has he lost his damn mind?

Why the fuck was Park Jimin appearing in his dreams?

Shit. It's too damn early for this— Either way, he's got to deal with one problem at a time. Sluggishly, Yoongi blinks at his groin with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. "You're fucking inconvenient, you know that?" He slurs at his cock through a growl, hand dipping beneath the hem of his boxers. Curling his fingers around his dick, he squeezes— The resulting jolt of pleasure that strikes has him curling over into himself, grunting under his breath.

The hell is he going to do about this?

(Still, there's question about it. Waking up like this is preferable to the alternative—

That is, waking up with a pistol in hand, aiming at someone who doesn't exist.)

Frustrated and half asleep, Yoongi strokes his cock and lays back down, turning on his side. He's used to fixing himself up like this; he isn't typically interested in fucking around while he's in Small Heath, after all. If he closes his eyes long enough, he can still hear the sweet melodic timbre of Jimin's voice— See the dancer's flushed face and pretend he's fucking the tight heat of his ass.

"Fuck," he whispers, thumb curling over the slick head of his dick as he remembers it all – remembers Jimin's pretty mouth on his cock, the marks he'd left on the younger's creamy, lovely thighs – and takes one step closer to the edge. "Doll—"

He cums with Jimin's name muffled into the pillow, teeth sinking into his lower lip hard enough for him to taste iron on his tongue.

 

 

19.03.1919
London, Camden Town, The Solomons Bakery

Standing beside Seokjin towards the back of the room, Yoongi keeps an eye on the men streaming into Alfie's office. They're all men enlisted by the Peaky Blinders— The men who will indefinitely add to Solomons' forces in London.

He recognizes some of them, too. There's Will, from the forgery— Third son of the Keffler family, youngest of the boys. Freddie and Finn from the stables; the Kirsten brothers. Chester from the Gypsies up further north, and Johnny Finger. Most of them are just looking to provide for a family back in Birmingham; goodwill and decent wages aside, Yoongi seriously hopes they know what they've signed up for.

(Solomons' not going to be soft on them, and that means he won't have the liberty to be, either.)

"Next," Alfie drawls lazily, nudging his reading glasses up on the bridge of his nose. He glances at the next man who comes in, lifting an eyebrow. "Name?" He asks as per routine, looking for all the world like he'd rather shoot himself than give a shit about what he's doing.

"Oliver Hughes," the man answers, rubbing soot from his nose.

"Right, then… Oliver Hughes." Solomons scoffs, looking back down at the papers on his desk. Squinting, he grumbles mildly about his own shitty eyesight before striking the man's name off a list. "Profession?"

"Baker."

And that's just what Alfie's looking to hear. "Good lad," he says, turning to his right-hand man and flapping a hand in the air. He hands Oliver a form, who then gets an apron thrown in his face in short order. "Fill out the form, go join the others."

"Yes, sir."

"And wipe that constipated look off your fucking face, Hughes. You're here to bake bread, not shit all over the product."

It's been going on like this for over an hour. "These screenings are fucking pointless," Yoongi declares, looking down at the crown of Seokjin's head. "He might as well be doing a fucking headcount, for what it's worth."

The elder's engrossed with reading a book, and he makes a disinterested noise at Yoongi's complaint. "It's alright, isn't it?" Turning the page, Seokjin smiles serenely. "I've told you this before, but Solomons has his own way of doing things— Once he's finished up here, he'll address all the new workers in the bakery itself…" Finally lifting his head, he levels Yoongi with a stern look. "Also, don't forget that I'm only here to turn a profit. it's fine to leave the boring business side of things to me since that what I signed up for, but you're the one in charge of the men under the employment of the Blinders while they're here."

Yoongi takes in a deep breath, holding it as Seokjin's eyes gleam with meaning.

"Make sure you do your job well, rabid dog," the elder adds severely, "or Solomons will swallow them whole, right under your nose."



"All right, boys, you've now all been enrolled as bakers in the Aerated Bread Company of Camden Town. If anyone asks, that's what you do— You're bakers," Seokjin announces pleasantly, addressing everyone as Solomons hangs back with Yoongi. Approaching the nearest man, he points at the work permit clutched in his soot-stained hands. "The police in Camden Town are on our side, but anywhere else in London, you show them that piece of paper."

"The coppers will pistol-whip us for no reason," one of the men grunts from the middle row, eyes hard. "You tellin' us to tell them straight that we're from up north?"

Solomons rolls his eyes with a passion.

"Tell them you've come down from the north to find work, or break strikes," Yoongi drawls, folding his arms and half sitting on an empty barrel. "Fuck, we don't give a shit; you can tell them you're fascists if you have to."

Seokjin retreats, smiling. "We're finding lodgings for you. For now, you'll sleep here in the bakery," he informs everyone, glancing around the room. It's as decent a shelter as any, Yoongi reckons— Any man who's been through the war won't give two shits about even laying down a sheet. "Mr. Solomons will arrange for your needs to be met for a few days while we work out the logistics."

"Also, don't touch any of the bread," Yoongi adds drily, since some people truly are idiotic enough that they'd need to be told. "It'll most likely explode."

The men laugh, till they realize he isn't taking the piss.

"Any questions?" Seokjin prompts shortly, cocking his head when a man in the front row raises his hand. "Yes?"

It's the blacksmith's boy, Yoongi recognizes distractedly. Nick, Nicholas, Nikolai— Something to that effect, he doesn't remember. "I haven't even seen any bread since we stepped in," the man grins toothily, glancing around and prompting a round of muffled laughs.

This time, Solomons isn't amused— He isn't even annoyed.

The psycho's flat out pissed.

'Fuck's sake,' Yoongi thinks to himself tiredly, pushing himself up off his barrel. He spots a crowbar at the corner of his eye, ambling over lazily and dipping to pick it up by the crooked head. Seokjin just shakes his head wearily, knowingly stepping aside and allowing him to pass without a word.

(So much for not putting on a show.)

Drawing up close to Nick – Nicholas, Nikolai, whatever – Yoongi tightens his grip on the crowbar and tugs the brim of his cap down to shade his narrowed eyes.

Nick – Yoongi's just going to call him Nick, fuck it – finally seems to get a clue, and his laughter tapers off to these nervous little half-chortles that fade out entirely. At the very least, he's mute with fear once he sees Yoongi raise his weapon of choice, slamming it against the jaw of the person to his left.

The poor fucker drops like he's dead on the floor, out cold from a single strike. All of the men closest to them recoil, eyes wide with shock.

Solomons finally lifts his head in earnest, clearly interested in the proceedings.

'Yeah. Watch this, you fucking freak,' Yoongi thinks sourly, staring down at the guy he's just clocked with a fucking crowbar. Jesus, he hopes there's no need for surgery. "He'll wake up," he says coldly to the rest of the lot, all of whom are staring at him with abject horror. "Granted, he won't have any teeth left, but he will be a wiser man for it," he adds, turning to Nick. "And the last thing he'll remember is your funny little joke."

Nick pales, swallowing thickly as he staggers back. The look in his eyes reminds Yoongi of something Taehyung had said a long time ago.

("You know, no one fears Namjoon or Hoseok because of you."

And that's the way it should be, shouldn't it? Namjoon will receive the credit for saving Birmingham, Hoseok will receive the love for protecting everyone in Small Heath, and Yoongi will receive only fear— From the Gypsies' Lot down to London and beyond, his name will always be bathed in blood, on the tongues of their own people and their enemies alike.

"You're fucking scary; that's why people respect Namjoon and love Hoseok," Taehyung had told him once, cautiously apologetic. "They don't know how much you endure."

And Yoongi had been bitterly gratified.)

"Alright. Listen up, you shitheads; there are fucking rules here," Yoongi announces, tossing the crowbar aside. It clatters to the ground noisily— From the pin-drop silence that greets his words, he doesn't assume he'll need to use it again. "There are rules, and they need to be obeyed. Rule number one; the distinction between bread and liquor is not to be discussed."

Running a hand through his hair, Seokjin averts his eyes and heaves a heavy sigh.

"Rule number two," Yoongi continues, glaring heatedly at everyone in the front row, "anything Mr. Solomons, myself, or Jin say to you, or anything your other superior officers say to you? Not fucking discussed."

"Furthermore," Solomons speaks up suddenly, making Yoongi glance over his shoulder, "rule number three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… I don't care." The man ambles over with a bottle in hand, approaching Nick – poor fucking Nick, seriously – and jabbing a finger into the boy's chest. "And listen well, because this goes for the rest of your fucking miserable, measly lives, yeah? Because I, like you lads, am also a complete fucking sodomite…"

Shit, Nick looks like he's about to piss himself.

"Jewish women," Solomons snarls, baring his teeth and looming over the godforsaken kid. "You do not go anywhere near them, because Jewish women for you – all of you stone-rubbing cow-fuckers – are off the fucking menu."

He pauses, turning to Yoongi and Seokjin with a lifted brow.

How the actual fuck is Solomons still walking around and breathing when he's this fucking racist, anyway? And what, does the stupid fuck think they're all fucking Gypsies? Yoongi wants to spit in the idiot's eye. "I think that's fair," he forces out neutrally instead, careful not to misstep. They're so fucking close to tying this up, after all.

Solomons takes a moment to think before he nods, seemingly pleased. "All right, that's it, yeah," he shrugs, backing off as easy as A, B, C. Fucking psycho. Waving Seokjin and Yoongi over, he smirks. "Forgive me, I interrupted you's little speech— Let's get on with it."

Seokjin steps in before Yoongi can bristle. "Pick him up," he tells the men in the front row, glancing at the unconscious man on the ground. They start to move as he addresses the others, stern and firm. "The rest of you will receive your orders shortly from Mr. Solomons and his men. Make no mistake about it; we will not forgive anyone who steps out of line—"

"— So keep your heads down, and keep them out of your fucking asses while you're at it," Yoongi sums up crudely, much to Seokjin's distaste. Cracking his neck, he turns on his heel to leave, ignoring the low murmuring that underlines his departure. "You're here to work, and no one's fucking indispensable. Are we fucking clear?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Good," Yoongi rumbles. God, Solomons actually looks happy with the way this entire shitshow's played out. He, on the other hand, is craving a cigarette, and possibly eternal rest. "Now, get the fuck out of here, boys, and make this fucking work."

 

 

23.03.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

All in all, Yoongi manages to stay away a full fortnight before he caves.

(It's a testament to his self-control, really.)

This time, he makes sure he drops by only after the crowd's gone, which means that he's greeted by gentle blues at the door. Without Seokjin to snap his fingers for a table, Yoongi's content to approach the bar and take up a stool at the counter. "Old Fashioned," he tells the bartender, who starts on making his cocktail with practiced hands. "I'll open a tab—"

"Yoongi?"

Well, that hadn't taken long at all.

Turning his head, Yoongi finds Jimin staring at him with wide eyes, blinking with surprise. "Jimin," he greets politely, because he's not a fucking Neanderthal. The younger doesn't seem revolted to see him again, at least— He's going to take that as a win. "I wasn't sure if you'd be working tonight."

"I work every night, save for Sundays," Jimin replies shyly, glancing around before he smiles at Yoongi. The elder finds himself momentarily distracted by the way the dancer's lids are dusted with gold and winged with browns, the way his pouty lips are dark with paint— Seriously, what business does the younger have, being so fucking beautiful? "I hadn't expected to see you here again. Where's your Londoner friend?"

"Hell if I know." Grimacing, Yoongi pauses to retrieve his requested Old Fashioned from the bartender with a nod of thanks. Seokjin had given him so much fucking grief about Jimin— He literally dreads the guy ever finding out he's come to see the dancer again. "And fuck if I care," he adds resolutely, resting one arm on the counter.

Jimin laughs brightly, covering his mouth and taking the stool right next to Yoongi's. "That's not very nice."

"I'm not a nice man." The dancer's dressed sweetly tonight, a toga-esque dress draped over one shoulder, the fabric bronzed and neatly folded. The skirt cuts across his knees, the longest length of cotton-blend brushing the backs of his calves— All in all, Yoongi's liking whoever the fuck dresses Jimin for the floor. "You can't have worn that for swing earlier."

"Of course not— I changed into this, since it's more comfortable and all my things are just upstairs." Curling a stray lock of hair behind his ears, Jimin glances at Yoongi's drink with half-lidded eyes. "Aren't you going to get me one?"

"Spoiled, aren't you?"

"I deserve it, don't I?"

What a cocky little fucker. "Can't argue that," Yoongi chuckles, waving the bartender over. "You know, I've been told by my younger brothers that humbleness is becoming— What are you having? Another Brogue, light on the lavender?"

"You remembered," Jimin smiles, folding his arms on the counter and nodding in confirmation at the bartender. "My usual, please. Also, your brothers must have been drunk at the time."

"They drink less often than I do."

"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me."

"You calling me an alcoholic, doll?"

"Am I wrong?"

"Better that than Gondola."

Humming with mirth, Jimin rests his chin on the curve of his palm, eyeing the elder with interest. "Did you use to smoke that?" He asks, leaning into Yoongi's space like they've known each other for years. "Opium."

Wow, did he? During the war – and for a long time after it was over – it had been the only thing that could get Yoongi to sleep. "Recreationally," he poorly lies with a snort, glancing sideways when the bartender returns with Jimin's drink. "Only after a good fuck and on the lord's Sundays."

Grinning, Jimin raises his glass to his lips. "You didn't smoke opium after we had sex," he points out with a little pout over the rim, feigning affront. "Only a cigarette. Should I be concerned?"

Not that Yoongi would go as far as to relapse to drive a point, but he'll raise Jimin a witty comeback— Take a risk and test the waters, for the second time. He's always been a good gambling man, and it's not like he has anything to lose by asking. "I don't have a pipe on me or anything, but are you up for trying again?"

There's a long silence as Jimin sips his Brogue, little lavender buds clinging to his upper lip till he lowers his glass. "I don't have sex with people who come to the lounge more than once," he says softly, sounding mildly apologetic. Getting up, he draws closer to Yoongi and drops a delicate little kiss on his right cheek. "Sorry."

Hmm. That's disappointing. "Did I do anything wrong?"

"It really isn't you, so I hope you aren't offended— Since I'm working in the lounge, I've been advised against sleeping with any of the customers," Jimin explains with a shake of his head, his eyes wide and earnest. Yoongi believes him, unbidden relief swelling in his chest; at least he hadn't been a shitty fuck. "I make exceptions sometimes, but I don't make allowances for anyone beyond the once… Consider it a professional policy of mine."

Well, that's that then.

"… Yoongi?"

"I'm not gonna lie; sex being off the table is pretty tragic for me," Yoongi shrugs easily, because he sees no reason to lie about it. "But I'm not gonna fuck you if that isn't what you want, doll. I'm not an animal; I'm a big boy, and I know what 'no' means."

Lowering his gaze, Jimin lifts an eyebrow at the elder's hand on his waist. "You do?"

"You said that I couldn't fuck you," Yoongi retorts in the same beat, "not that I couldn't touch you."

(He's reaching, but whatever. It'd be nice to have someone other than Seokjin to talk to for however long he has to stick around in London – god knows that it's just a matter of time before they fight about something or another, and it's probably going to be so, so stupid – and Jimin goes really far by way of eye candy.

Unless he's explicitly told to fuck off, Yoongi's not going to stop seeing the dancer just because he isn't allowed to have him in bed anymore.)

Jimin blinks with surprise before he starts giggling. "It's been 5 seconds," he manages through his laughter, standing up straight and beaming down at Yoongi. "You're already trying to find loopholes?"

Yoongi smiles discreetly, thumb slowly circling over the curve of Jimin's hipbone. "Do you hate it?" He asks tentatively, fully intending to back off if the answer is yes. In all fairness, he'd always been the realistic – read; cynical – type, so he'd been prepared for Jimin to turn him down— He has no interest in forcing that kind of thing on someone, either. But…

"… No," Jimin says softly, moving between Yoongi's thighs. Lowering his head, he whispers sweetly in the elder's ear. "I don't hate it at all."

Smirking, Yoongi picks up his glass and drains it over the dancer's shoulder.

(He's always been a good gambling man.)



"I never asked, but how long will you be in London?" Jimin quips curiously, facing his mirror and carefully removing his earrings. "Or have you decided to move here permanently?"

They're in the attic again, and Yoongi briefly eyes the bed with longing. He's no scumbag, though, so he purposefully redirects his gaze to Jimin's reflection. "Not a chance," he chuckles drily, amused by the mere idea. "There's too much happening in London for me— Birmingham's what I was born to, and it'll always be my speed."

"Were you raised in Small Heath?"

Raised is a pretty loose term for whatever the fuck Yoongi's mother had been doing in his childhood, but Yoongi will let it slide. "Yeah, alongside Jin and my younger brothers."

"How many brothers?"

"Two. We don't share blood, but we shared Somme and Verdun," Yoongi crosses his arms, turning towards the window seat. Walking towards it, he leans over to look out onto the street. They're fast approaching the witching hour; aside from a couple of idiots exchanging drunken slurs down the block, it's dark and quiet and deceptively serene. "I've lived in Small Heath all my life, but I've been told I was born on the Gypsy's Lot."

"Oh?" Jimin pipes up, humming as he unclasps his matching necklace, meticulously laying it on the surface of his desk. "Does that mean you're a Gypsy?"

"Mutt."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm half and half," Yoongi informs him callously— It's been a long time since he's given a shit about his roots. "My mother was a Gypsy whore, and all I know about my father is that he was a traveling doctor. They fucked, and I was born; the accidental product of their irresponsibility."

Jimin freezes, his eyes filled with sympathy.

Settling himself in the window seat, the elder snorts. "It's not a big deal, so don't make that face," Yoongi placates, flapping a hand dismissively before he holds out an arm in invitation. "My mother didn't do fuck all for me. I hate her, but I'll always be glad she moved to Small Heath with me when I was a baby— That was what had allowed me to meet Nams and Seok, after all."

"Are those your brothers?"

Shit; he hadn't meant to blurt their names. 'Well, whatever,' Yoongi thinks, eventually giving Jimin a cautious nod. "Kim Namjoon and Jung Hoseok," he tells the younger under his breath, looking out the window. "Jin, the guy who took me to the lounge the first time I met you, is a childhood friend of ours— Kim Seokjin."

"Sounds like quite the band of misfits."

"We took in a wild street brat, too." Scoffing sardonically, Yoongi cocks his head at the dancer. "Kim Taehyung. Little bastard tried to pickpocket me when he'd been all skin and bones, and now he wears our colors."

(Sooner or later, everyone was going to know them on sight anyway.)

Walking over to Yoongi, Jimin sits across from him in the window seat. "I'm an orphan," he decides to say, completely apropos of nothing. Yoongi isn't surprised though; he's known many people who work in pubs and clubs and brothels, and everyone's got a sob story— Briefly, he wonders if he's lacking empathy, or if he's just seen too much of the world they live in. "I don't know anything about my parents, but they left me on the step of the All Saints' Church in Poplar."

"You came to the city on your own?"

"Once I was 16, yes."

Respectfully, Yoongi doesn't pry any further. He continues looking out the window with half-lidded eyes till something shifts in his peripheral vision— He then finds himself surprised by Jimin crawling towards him. "This is a surprising development," he muses aloud, moving to accommodate the younger. "Especially for someone who was fussing about my hand on his waist earlier."

"I wasn't fussing, and I like cuddling," Jimin murmurs softly, sounding a little tired as he slumps against Yoongi's chest, eyes closed. "Friends may not fuck, but they do cuddle…"

"Not like this." With one leg firmly on the floor in the attic and the other hanging out the open window, Yoongi lifts an eyebrow at Jimin. Carefully, he puts an arm around the younger and tries not to feel too pleased about any of this. "Since you look like you're going to nod off, let's set a few things straight before I come to see you next— I know fucking's off the table."

"Mm…"

"What about everything else?"

His head lilting back, Jimin cracks an eye open at Yoongi. "Everything else?" He repeats after the elder, sounding suspicious.

Yoongi snakes his arm around Jimin's shoulders, one hand braced at his lower back. Pulling the younger closer, he buries his nose in the dancer's hair. "This," he murmurs, closing his eyes and relishing the soft hitch of Jimin's breath. "Is this allowed…?"

Only silence greets him.

Well, if Jimin wants to be like that… "What about this?" Yoongi murmurs, pulling back a little so that he can gently take Jimin's chin between his thumb and index finger, lifting the younger's head and leaning in— Trailing his lips along his jaw to his ear, slow and hesitant, like he's coaxing a small woodland creature to eat from his hand. "Is this crossing a line?"

Cheeks flushed, Jimin's eyes flutter shut. "You sound desperate," he whispers, even as his fingers curl into the soft fabric of Yoongi's shirt.

Does he? Yoongi wonders— Turns it over in his head. Jimin isn't wrong, probably, but he's far beyond the point in his life where he pretends he doesn't want something if he does.

At the very least, he knows he wants Jimin more than he's wanted anyone in a long, long time. There are a million questions about the validity of his desire for the younger— What does he want from this? Should he be worried about where this is going? Does he sound desperate? And if he is, why is he this desperate in the first place? What's so special about Park Jimin?

(Than again, is it really so bad to be desperate for something special again?)

"Maybe I am," he ends up saying, forcefully quieting his mind for a moment. He'll think about it all later, when he isn't in the window seat of Jimin's attic with his arms around the younger. Tilting his head back against the wall, Yoongi looks down at Jimin's flushed face. "Are you complaining?"

Jimin chews on his lower lip for a moment, clearly conflicted. Eventually, he meets the elder's eyes with a decisive look. "You won't get the wrong idea, will you?" He asks quietly, far gentler than he has any right to be for someone who isn't kicking Yoongi out of his room. "I belong to The Ophel Lounge, and I'm not in the business of mending broken hearts."

(Yoongi has to admit that he has a very bad feeling about this.)

"Doll, I'm fucking off in a few months," he hedges instead, brushing his lips against the bridge of Jimin's nose. The dancer sighs, tension bleeding from his body as he sags against Yoongi with sleepy relief. "Forget you; it's me who can't afford to get the wrong idea."

 

 

25.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"The licenses are finally moving," Yoongi drawls down the line, clamping the phone between his ear and shoulder. Picking up the documents Seokjin's neatly filed away, he shakes out the folder and frowns at the resulting mess on the table. "Tell Nams we're making headway. If everything goes smoothly, I'll be back in Small Heath by the middle of May… End of May, at the latest."

"End of May?" Hoseok huffs on his end of the call, sounding put out. "That's ages away… You've been there for almost a month and everything. Does that mean we're behind schedule, then?"

"Hand to god, you're the clingiest younger brother in fucking England," Yoongi deadpans, even though he doesn't hate it; not even a little bit, not at all. It's nice to know that at least a handful of people will make sure he gets buried in fresh flowers. "I'm the one holding this fucking deal together with spit and prayers; how is it that you're the one bitching and moaning?"

"Bite me," Hoseok retorts. It's strange that Yoongi thinks he can hear his younger brother pouting, but he can— Hell, he'd bet money on it. "Fuck if I know why, but I miss your small, angry self."

"I will literally walk back to Birmingham if you call me small again, specifically to cut you down at the fucking knees."

"Will you really?" Jesus, Hoseok sounds fucking delighted at the prospect. "You midget."

How is this the family he's chosen to be a part of? "One day I really will shoot you in the fucking face," Yoongi threatens without heat, frowning down at the papers on the table. He shuffles everything around, trying to find the projected timeline Seokjin's drawn up where it comes to recovering their capital investments in their partnership with Solomons. "Nams doesn't give me this much fucking grief."

"That's because Joon sent you there in the first place. Also, he's neck deep in pulling strings to save Birmingham, or whatever," Hoseok says dismissively, making Yoongi scrunch his nose. Sobering slightly, the younger lets out a weary sigh. "He's not sleeping again, and you know how he is about medication— Gypsy remedies or otherwise, I mean."

"I know he'd sooner spit in my eye than take a fucking pill of Tokyo," Yoongi mumbles distractedly, finally plucking out the fucking timeline under a stack of staff rosters. "I know this only because I jokingly asked him once, and he specifically told me that he'd sooner spit in my eye than take a fucking pill of Tokyo— That's how disgusted he was by the idea."

"That the latest little thing London spat out on the streets?"

"It's just cocaine in a capsule— Dulled down and more consumable, but it's all the same fucking dope. People pill it for moving, but it's taken the same way everywhere; snorting or drinking," Yoongi elaborates, frowning at the document. Licking his thumb, he turns the page, folding it at the corner with a staple bullet holding the papers together. "But whatever. You know how Nams is; he wouldn't get near that shit with a 10-foot pole."

(It's actually funny, considering how Namjoon would sooner produce it, pack it and sell it before he so much as touches it. He's fucking religious about abstaining from the product, which Yoongi supposes is as good a principle as any for a supplier.)

Hoseok's silent for a bit before he makes a frustrated noise up in Birmingham. "He's working himself into a fit."

"He always does."

"Yoongi, I'm being serious."

"So am I." Jesus, what the fuck does Hoseok want from him, anyway? "He's a big boy, Seok, and he's our leader in everything but our years. We can't watch him all the time, nor can we afford to."

"He needs to do something about it— Drink himself stupid, or whatever. Maybe he needs to meet someone," Hoseok insists stubbornly, making Yoongi palm his face with a groan. "Look, I keep trying to set him up, but he never goes for it. If you introduced him to anyone, maybe he'd really—"

"Seok," Yoongi says, with as much patience as he can summon, "I know you mean well, seriously, but no. If you're so fucking worried, just dose the guy's tea and let him pass out for a few hours."

"But—"

"Again – and I can't believe I have to fucking repeat myself on this – no." God, what a tragic idea. Namjoon's got enough on his plate, and Yoongi's not letting Hoseok cock it all up just because he thinks their younger brother needs to get laid. He gets the sentiment, but it's a really bad idea. "The stick up Nams' ass isn't something that a man or a woman can pull out, and you know that. Give him some fucking time and space— The guy's no moron, and he'll figure his shit out eventually."

An unhappy noise filters through the line. "It's been years," Hoseok says eventually, disgruntled and impatient and all the bad things. "It may not seem like a long time since we've gotten back, but it's been years, Yoongi. Years since…"

(Since the war.)

Clutching his shoulder, Yoongi squeezes and glares at the papers on the table. "It's been years for us too, Seok," he says quietly, hearing the sharp hitch of breath that comes down the line, plain as day as though he were right beside his brother up in Birmingham. For a second, the memory of their time in France makes his shoulder ache so acutely that he freezes, closing his eyes. "When's the last time you slept without a gun under your pillow?"

Hoseok's silent for a moment before he takes in a deep breath. "He can't be like this forever," he says eventually, quiet and chastised. "I'm really worried about him, Yoongi."

Like he doesn't know that. "Give me a break; you're preaching to the choir here," Yoongi rumbles, sinking into a chair at the table. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he wonders how many hours he'll get tonight— Having had this conversation with Hoseok, the odds of him getting uninterrupted rest aren't looking too good. "We all deal with our shit differently, Seok. I fight it out of my system, you fuck it out of yours—"

"— Okay, you don't have to be mean about it—"

"— And Nams will find his way to deal with it eventually," Yoongi finishes, ignoring the noises of protest that filter down the line. Smiling briefly, he glances out of the window at the green; the sun's out and it's a nice day, even if they aren't having a very nice call. There's always a 'sweet' at the end of every 'bitter' in their lives, he finds. "For now, all we can do is support him— Let him restore Small Heath, rebuild Birmingham, and take London."

"And that's going to make him better?"

"That's going to fill up his time," Yoongi corrects sharply, his head lolling over the back of his chair, "and that's what he needs, till he finds something – or someone – to give him back some of what he's lost in the war." He pauses, narrowing his eyes at the receiver. "Alright?"

It's a long time before Hoseok lets out another sigh, tired and strung-out. "Yeah," he agrees, solemnly enough that it makes the elder hurt a little— He wishes he could be there for is younger brothers; they must be driving each other up the walls, being a closed circuit of worrying and nagging and all that shit back home. "Okay, Yoongi. Alright."

"Getting laid may not be Nams' cup of tea where it comes to getting a good night's sleep, but I know it's yours," Yoongi adds before he goes, knowing the jibe will make Hoseok feel at least a little better. He's right, if the laugh he gets for his words are anything to go by. "Go out with Tae tonight. Even if neither of you have someone in bed by the end of the night, you'll at least have half-decent company while you get piss wasted."

"Come on, now," Hoseok grins down the call in parting. "When have I ever gone out with the intention of sleeping with someone, without sleeping with someone?"

Yoongi listens to the dial tone for a while after his younger brother hangs up, thinking of Jimin before he laughs at the ceiling.

(He suddenly feels very, very old.)

 

 

26.03.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"We've been invited to a wedding on the 7th— That's the Saturday after next," Seokjin announces brightly the second Yoongi comes downstairs, lifting a gold-tipped envelope. "We'll have to get you measured for a suit this afternoon; I already had my butler call my tailor to make an appointment, since we have nothing important scheduled."

"You're so fucking noisy in the mornings, it's unbelievable." God, Yoongi isn't even oriented with the land of the living and he's being subjected to this bullshit. "Who the hell's getting married, and why do I care? I already have a suit, and the fuck do you mean you had your butler make a call for you? Are your fucking fingers broken? Do you want me to break them for you?"

"That's a lot of coherent questions, coming from someone who isn't a morning person."

"I'll fucking kill you."

"Mihael Petrov, the groom, is the newly crowned heir to Petrov Industries— A Russian conglomerate," Seokjin belatedly answers the most pertinent question, waiting till Yoongi sits beside him. With an index finger on the wax seal of the envelope, he slides over the invitation. "He is eager to do business in London, and I've managed to convince him that I'm the man he's looking to deal with."

"You?" Yoongi questions with a grunt, rubbing one eye while he scrutinizes the invitation with the other. "Or the Blinders?"

"Me," Seokjin confirms casually, lifting his cup of tea to his lips and taking a liberal sip. He draws back soon after to clear his throat, wincing at having burned his tongue in his haste. "I have a new business down south, manufacturing car parts— He's looking for a supplier, and I'm looking for demand."

Ugh. "Why the fuck do I have to go, then?" Yoongi grimaces, folding his arms on the table and smacking his forehead on the surface repeatedly. Maybe if he hurts himself enough, he'll wake up from this diplomatic meet-and-greet nightmare. "It's not Blinder business."

"But it could— No. It will be, eventually." Reaching for the newspapers, Seokjin unfolds them on his lap with practiced hands. "Like I've mentioned, Petrov Industries is a conglomerate; their blooming automobile business aside, they control over 30% of the liquor import and export in Russia. If Namjoon is serious about seizing London, he and Mihael will soon need to be on first-name basis with one another."

"Then fucking call him down from Birmingham for the wedding."

"He's busy setting up the betting den in Small Heath— You know he's taking horses seriously these days, don't you?"

"I'm not cut out for this handshaking, sweet-talking, hat-tipping, yes-man grinning, wedding… Congratulating… Fuckery."

"Stop whining like a child; All you have to do is make an impression, drop Namjoon's name and shake the groom's hand. I'll let you leave half an hour after the ceremony, if you're going to be this insufferable about it." Sighing laboriously, Seokjin narrows his eyes at Yoongi. "Sometimes it's hard to believe you're older than Namjoon and Hoseok."

Jesus, who the fuck needs enemies when you have friends like Seokjin? "Bite me, you capitalistic cockwagon."

"Yes, yes; whatever you say," Seokjin drones dully, flipping the page and losing interest in cajoling Yoongi into compliance. "The suit fitting will be at 3. Nothing ready-to-wear; I'll have a proper suit done up for you."

Yoongi groans loudly, smacking his forehead on the table hard enough that Seokjin's teacup rattles on the saucer.



"Oh," Seokjin says, stilling in his tracks. Yoongi bumps into him before recoiling with a grunt, muffling a curse under his breath. "This is an unexpected development."

Peering around the elder, Yoongi rubs his nose before his disgruntlement fades to surprise. Standing on a platform in the middle of the store, back straight and arms raised is… "Jimin?"

The dancer turns on his heel, eyes wide as he blinks at them. "Yoongi?"

"What are you doing here?"

Looking down at the top of the tailor's head, Jimin's brows furrow. "I'm getting measured for something next week," he explains briefly, keeping very still as he's measured from knee to ankle. "I've been instructed to have something new made here, by the person taking me."

"You have a lot of clothes, though?" Yoongi points out, having seen Jimin's extensive wardrobe the couple of times he's had the pleasure of being taken up to the dancer's attic. Sidestepping Seokjin, he approaches the younger with a chuckle, hands in his pockets so he won't be tempted to touch. "Well, I'm not sure about suits, but going out of your way like this must be troublesome."

"It's a themed event; if I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb, I'll have to get something that matches everyone else," Jimin beams, turning around as instructed by the tailor's soft pat on his hip. "And I don't do much when the lounge isn't open; I'm usually just resting in the attic on my own."

"Oh?" Yoongi smirks, cocking his head and rounding the platform before he immediately regrets it— He should have known better than to think he could look at Jimin's ass without feeling things. "Does that mean I can come by when the sun's still out?"

"You're getting very brazen," Jimin tells him, amused.

"I prefer the term 'opportunistic,' doll."

"Well, maybe someday, if you're free." Lowering his gaze to the ground, Jimin's cheeks pink a little. "If it isn't at the attic…"

"Are you telling me to take you out for lunch?" Yoongi's usually more of a dinner and sex guy, but he isn't going to complain; they'd both laid out some rules the last time they'd met, after all. "Because I can do lunch."

Smiling, Jimin ducks his head with a shy nod. "I start prepping for work in the evenings, so dinners are difficult… Besides, it's nice to be out in the day like this, once in a while."

"Our Yoongi should take a leaf out of your book; trying to get him to come for this fitting was like pulling teeth," Seokjin butts in unapologetically, moving to stand in front of Jimin before he extends his hand. "Pleasure to meet you; my name is Kim Seokjin."

"Likewise— I'm Park Jimin," the dancer chimes, taking the elder's hand with bright eyes. "You're the person who first brought Yoongi to The Ophel Lounge, aren't you?"

"That would be me, yes."

"Should we come back later?" Yoongi asks the tailor, who swiftly straightens up with his tape measure around his neck. Tugging on the brim of his cap, he removes it to run a hand through his tousled, untamed hair. "Don't stand on ceremony. If you're busy with Jimin, we won't bother you till you're finished."

"No, sir. Our master tailor stepped out for a moment to see his daughter, but he will be back to attend to you and Mr. Kim shortly."

"That's what I like to hear— As expected, this place alone never disappoints on Savile Row," Seokjin says pleasantly, sinking onto a leather couch between two finely dressed mannequins. He pats the seat next to him invitingly, lifting an eyebrow at Yoongi. "I'll busy myself reading the novel I brought, so why don't you spend some time catching up with Jimin while we wait?"

Yoongi scowls at him, crossing his arms. "As though you won't be right here eavesdropping the entire time?"

"Oh, shamelessly, Yoongi. Shamelessly."

"I'll fucking strangle you—"

Jimin giggles before he covers his mouth, looking sheepish. "Sorry," he smiles, shaking his head when both Yoongi and Seokjin turn a questioning look on him. "It's just that with the way you're bickering like this, I can tell you're very close… You must have known each other for a long time."

"Our acerbic friend was just a baby when I first laid eyes on him in Small Heath," Seokjin smirks, clearly ready to seize any and all opportunity to mortify Yoongi. He ignores the growl he gets for it, chuckling into his fist. "He was as angry back then as he is now— In essence, he hasn't changed a bit over the years, other than learning how to cuss like a sailor."

"Kim Seokjin," Yoongi drones dully, picking up a ceramic vase by the neck and making a motion to fling it, "we're literally one fucking year apart. Are you trying to get stitches today?"

The tailor working on Jimin drops everything to spring towards Yoongi, holding onto his arm with wide, panicked eyes. "Sir, that vase, it belongs to Mr. Davies—"

"Don't worry so much," Jimin laughs brightly, reaching over to pat the tailor on the shoulder as Seokjin smiles at the chaos in the small store. "Yoongi's only joking with his friend. He wouldn't break anything in here; he's very gentle."

Rounding on his heel, Yoongi sputters lamely as he sets the vase back down. "Gentle—"

"Gentle?" Seokjin repeats after Jimin, his eyes practically sparkling. "Our Yoongi? Jimin, just how special are you?"

"Special?" Blinking, Jimin cocks his head at Seokjin. "Me? What do you mean—"

"ENOUGH." Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the donkey, Yoongi is so fucking tired of everything on god's green earth. Glaring at Seokjin, he makes a fist and threateningly shakes it at the elder. "I'll fucking kill you, seriously. Don't think I won't cave your face in just because Nams, Seok and Tae still like you for some reason."

"You're so violent," Seokjin says serenely, side-eyeing Jimin with mirth. "Well, not all the time, I suppose?"

"Shut the fuck up, you bastard—"

"Oh!" Jimin gasps in the same beat, almost slipping as he steps down from the platform.

Yoongi reaches for him on instinct, catching him around the waist as the tailor startles on the other end of the store, going over Jimin's selection in fabrics. "I thought dancers were light on their feet. Aren't you being too clumsy, stumbling like this?" Pulling the dancer against him, Yoongi makes sure he's steady before he lets him go with an embarrassed grunt. "Watch yourself, doll."

"Thank you," Jimin breathes, ducking his head with a shy smile. Looking at him like this, it's hard for Yoongi to connect this image of the dancer to the apple of The Ophel Lounge's eye, the famed Makeba of Sheba on Throgmorton Street. "I'm sorry…"

"What a gentleman," Seokjin sighs indulgently from the sofa, instantaneously ruining the moment and earning Yoongi's wrath. He lifts his novel on reflex, the hard cover of the book blocking the younger's cap from hitting him in the face. "You missed me—"

"I'll gouge your eyes out, asshole—"

"What's all this fuss?" Someone new grumbles from the door, hard eyes immediately turning a severe gaze onto the tailor that had been taking Jimin's measurements. "I step out for 15 fucking minutes to see my progeny, Thomas, and now the shop's become a bloody circus? And where's my damn 3 o'clock? If Mr. Kim wants his suits done on time, he'd best believe we have no time to waste—"

"Mr. Davies," Seokjin smiles, snapping his novel shut and getting to his feet. Approaching the elderly man, he inclines his head and holds out a hand. "Always a pleasure to visit. Thank you for clearing your afternoon on such short notice; I'm afraid we'll be counting on you for the works today."

"Aren't you always?"

"I've even brought a friend today."

"About time you gave me new business; my coffers are running dry. Seems like no one appreciates the art that goes into a good suit these days…"

"I'm sure that isn't the case, Mr. Davies."

"I'll have Tommy clear out the shop. Perfectionist that you are, I best have my wits about me and some space to breathe while I work—"

"I'll have your suit jacket and pants ready by the middle of next week," the junior tailor, Thomas, tells Jimin in the meantime. Glancing nervously at his mentor, he offers the surprised dancer an apologetic look. "Mr. Davies will probably want the floor, and he'll need me to assist him… Unless you're comfortable with coming back later this evening for shoe measurements—"

Glancing towards the clock, Jimin fidgets warily. "I have to be back at the lounge by 5, since the owner's coming to visit," he worries quietly, turning to Thomas with a pleading look. "Is there any way we could just finish up quickly—"

"What's the big deal? Just take the fucking measurements," Yoongi frowns, flailing an arm at the couch dismissively. Seokjin and Davies move to the backroom, discussing fabrics and suitable colors for the upcoming wedding as Thomas blinks at Yoongi with wide eyes. "He was here before us and the store's big enough, isn't it? Finish up his shit before sending him back out."

"But Mr. Davies will—"

"I'll fucking handle the old man with Jin, so don't inconvenience your other clients— Either way, it'd be fucking unreasonable of Davies to chase out paying customers, too," Yoongi deadpans, reaching over and ruffling Thomas' hair. The guy squeaks, the pitchy sound of it making Jimin burst into surprised little giggles. "People have jobs to keep and shit to do, so don't just casually assume they have time to come and go as and when they please."

Awkwardly, Thomas shoots a nervous glance towards the backroom. "Yes…"

He's just a fucking kid. "Make it fast," Yoongi murmurs, squeezing the guy's shoulders and passing him. He'll just join Seokjin in the back room with Davies, listen to the old man complain about fucking everything for a while— The elderly loved the sound of their own voices, after all. "I promise you won't get into any trouble, so do it right."

"Yes, sir."

"Yoongi," Jimin says softly before he can leave altogether, stopping the elder in his tracks.

Turning on his heel at the door, Yoongi lifts an eyebrow in silent question.

"… Thank you," the dancer ends up saying, cheeks rosy and smile wide. He looks incredibly hopeful as he clasps his hands behind his back, voice sweet and playfully grateful. God, he's so fucking pretty Yoongi wants to punch something— Probably Seokjin, if he has his way. "If you're free, then… I'll see you soon?"

(And how could anyone say no to that face?)

"Real soon, doll," Yoongi says under his breath before he gives Jimin a gummy smile, tries not to feel too fucking screwed, and leaves with his hands in his pockets.

What other option did he have, really?

 

 

30.03.1919
London, Westminster, Whitehall Police Station

The Commissioner of Police is a greedy bastard, but at least he's a greedy bastard with an open agenda.

As a whole, Yoongi likes it when things are transparent, so he has no problem talking to the fucker in his own language. "I don't know or care how much he's paying you, but Sabini's not running London much longer," he dismisses with a scoff, crossing his legs at the ankle and tipping his chair back with a roll of his eyes. "If you haven't sussed out that there's blood in the air, I can't be held responsible for your lack of a fucking nose."

"These are the land deeds the Peaky Blinders will need in our name by the end of the week," Seokjin continues seamlessly, placing several folders on the table with a perennial smile. Delicately, he places a hand atop the pile and shifts them closer to the commissioner. "Your forces are effective, so we trust there will be no issues moving forward, Mr. Reeves."

"If you want the force, you have to pay the coin… Well, if you've gotten all the way here, I don't suppose that'll be a problem," Reeves grunts, slapping a fat hand on the papers and yanking the whole pile into his lap. Squinting, he starts flipping the pages before he pauses on the fourth stapled document. "These are distillery warehouses, aren't they?"

"Yes."

"I understand all the other properties, but Camden Town? Ain't that's Alfie Solomons' cesspit?"

"Well, would you look at that." Clapping his hands real slow, Yoongi bares his teeth in a smile. "Commissioner Reeves, maybe you've got half a nose after all."

"Cut the sass, Gypsy boy; I'm still turning your offer over in my head," Reeves says flatly, annoyed. Lifting his head, he narrows his eyes at Seokjin. "I was under the impression you'd be working with that Jewish asshole, not against him. Are you telling me to put my men in the crossfires of a war between you Birmingham fuckwits, Solomons' idiots and Sabini's bullies?"

"We will require more time and resources before removing Mr. Sabini from his place of power," Seokjin reassures Reeves, shaking his head, "so there is no cause for concern."

"Are you fucking insane? There's cause for concern, even if it's just you lot against fucking Solomons—"

"I feel like we've been painting this situation all wrong," Yoongi speaks up, because he knows his place in this meeting— In any meeting where Blinder business is concerned, really. Seokjin and everyone else – be it Namjoon, Hoseok or Taehyung – they get to smile and shake hands and play nice. He doesn't get that luxury. "Hey, Reeves, it sounds like you think you have a choice. When we walked into this fucking building, did you think we were expecting to make a friendly transaction?"

The commissioner leans forward, cocking his head. "You little brat—"

"Just so you know," Yoongi adds with a grin, lifting the brim of his cap as he licks his teeth, "you're the last fucking cop on our payroll. We were trying to be nice but replacing you will be easy— I'll bet that it could take less than a day. If you don't believe me, see for yourself."

Seokjin leans to his side, beaming as he turns at the waist to allow Reeves his eyeful.

On the other side of the glass, the entire department has their heads turned towards the commissioner's office. Every last policeman on the floor has their hand on their gun, and a steely look in their eyes.

"Our leader believes that violence isn't the answer, so we've been instructed to use money to speak— That's why my colleague and I have brought you an incentive in exchange for your discretion and loyalty," Seokjin reminds Reeves, patting the briefcase filled with cash on the desk. Leaning in with a wink, he chuckles. "But if money doesn't talk, we hope you bear in mind that accidents typically occur."

"Do you think you can get away with this?" Reeves glowers, even sweat beads at his temples. "I'm the motherfucking Commissioner of Police. Are you fucking threatening me?"

Hanging his head with a laugh, Yoongi shakes his head. Lifting his arm, he brings a hand down on the table with a loud smack before grinning up at the infuriated commissioner. "Reeves," he says calmly, making sure the idiot has a real clear view of his own men right outside his office, "did you really just fucking notice?"

Reeves is mute, and his hands clench into fists on the table.

"That's right; you called us 'Birmingham fuckwits' earlier, didn't you? I suggest you unfuck your ears and start paying more attention to your own men," Yoongi drawls, getting up and gesturing for Seokjin to follow him. Either way, Reeves doesn't have a choice— He'll either keep his thumbs in their honey pot or die, so their meeting's effectively over. "I don't hate you, but it's pretty fucking alarming when a commander doesn't realize his own footmen have been bought off by another king."

"We would much rather work with you than anyone else, Mr. Reeves," Seokjin placates the commissioner, having the nerve to sound sympathetic. "Your ambition is minimal, and honor is of little priority to you. If money is what you desire, we are willing to meet your demands to a reasonable degree. However…"

"… No one's indispensable, so make your choice quickly and make it with no regrets," Yoongi finishes for the elder at the door, holding it open for Seokjin to pass through. Dipping at the waist, Yoongi gives the commissioner a cheeky two-fingered salute in parting. "If you pick the right side, we'll have those land deeds by the end of the week in Kim Namjoon's name, with Solomons none the wiser. If you pick the wrong side, I'll be paying you a special visit— Same deadline."

"Do you think London's for the taking, boy?" Reeves growls, getting to his feet and slamming his hands on the table. His face is red— That's how pissed off he is, not that Yoongi blames him. "Alfie Solomons will catch on, and so will Sabini. You and all the fucking idiots who wear your colors will end up dead in a fucking ditch!"

"You're the one who'll end up dead in a fucking ditch if you don't comply— By this Friday, even." Waving with a grin, Yoongi taps the razor sewn into the seam of his cap before turning to dog Seokjin's steps out the building. "We're fucking eating up London, Reeves," he sings in warning, nodding at all the officers they pass on the way out with familiarity, "and we'll be doing it with or without you."

 

 

02.04.1919
London, Maiden Lane Covent Garden, Rules

"This is too nice," Jimin murmurs under his breath, eyes wide as he clings to Yoongi's arm. Staring up at the chandeliers, he swallows thickly. "You didn't have to bring me to somewhere like this; I would've been perfectly happy at the deli on the corner."

"I like the food here," Yoongi lies, because he's never been here in his fucking life. Seokjin recommends it, which is as good an indication of quality as anything— The bastard never mentioned it was this fucking classy and uppity, though. "It's a date. It's natural for it to be nice, isn't it?"

"This is a date?" Jimin asks, a shy smile curling his lips as they're taken to a table by the balcony. "That's news to me."

"Did I give you any indication to believe it isn't?"

"We've discussed my policy—"

"I'm taking you on a date, not taking off your clothes," Yoongi retorts unapologetically, hand on the back of Jimin's chair. Pulling it out for the dancer, he laughs drily. "If you were going to be this concerned about the semantics, you should have been more specific from the start."

"I don't recall trying to be purposefully evasive about anything."

"You should have said something along the lines of, 'I'm not interested,' if you aren't," Yoongi coaches Jimin with a smirk, knowing full well that it wasn't the case. "Men like me use our fists more than we do our mouths— We're stupid, so we get confused easily."

"You? Stupid?" Sitting down, Jimin balances his weight on his heels, allowing Yoongi to push in his chair for him at the table. Lifting his head, he giggles. "Surely not. I think you've been quite calculated about getting what you want with me, so far."

"I do like having my way."

"That's fairly apparent, yes."

"What time do you have to be back at the lounge?" Yoongi asks, rounding the table to seat himself. Once he's across from Jimin and comfortable, a waiter starts beelining to them on the balcony. "I stole Jin's car for the day, so I'll give you a lift back after we're through here."

"I start prepping for the evening at dusk; 6 is a fairly safe bet," Jimin smiles, lifting his head as their server reaches the table with menus in hand. "Thank you very much."

"Of course, sir."

"I don't care what it is or where it's from or what year a vineyard pissed it out; please don't ask me any questions I don't know the answer to, and just give us your best bottle of wine," Yoongi tells the waiter, taking one of the leather-bound menus and turning over the cover. "For food… We'll call once we've come to a decision on what to order."

"Yes, sir."

"You're really going all out to wine and dine someone you've already managed to have sex with," Jimin quips, clearly amused by the lengths Yoongi is going to for their date. "Their best bottle? Despite your alleged distaste for this city, you spend like the most distinguished Londoner."

"Don't insult your date; that's bad form, and we haven't even had our appetizers." Leaning back in his seat, Yoongi removes his cap and casts his gaze lazily over the green. The afternoon breeze cards through his hair, messing it up and throwing his fringe over his eyes. "We're meeting outside of the lounge for the first time, so why don't you tell me something about yourself that I don't already know?"

"Ask me anything; I'm an open book," Jimin offers, flipping the page as he reads off the menu. "Are you very hungry? I don't have a very big appetite this early in the day, so if you'd prefer having your own entrée, then…"

"We could order a couple of things to share; I'm not big on food this time of the day, either." Turning the last couple of times he'd met Jimin over in his head, Yoongi wonders what he should ask first. What his favorite color is? Flowers? Does the dancer even like those types of things, or are his tastes secretly less effeminate than he lets on? Come to think of it, it's entirely possible that he's maintaining an imposed façade to keep his job— Giving thirsty men with small cocks something to dream about at night.

About a minute goes by before Jimin's light chuckle breaks Yoongi out of his stupor. "You're thinking a little too hard about this, Mr. Min," he says sweetly, placing the menu on the table and folding his arms atop the pages. "Should I be concerned— Oh, how are you with lamb?"

Yoongi blinks. Was it possible to suffer whiplash from someone changing the subject?

"Yes? No?"

"We can have the lamb if you want the lamb, doll."

"Good," Jimin says happily, eyes sparkling as the waiter returns with a bottle of red wine. "Let's have the lamb."

"We'll order," Yoongi says, slightly baffled. On one hand, he's glad he has this date with Jimin; on the other, he's wondering why he's having this date with Jimin. It isn't that he thinks with his cock and nothing else, but as someone who hasn't dated anyone without sex on the table for about 10 odd years, he's just mildly confused about where his carnal priorities have gone. "Roasted leg of lamb, chicken tikka masala and a small game pie. What's good for dessert here?"

"We have good sticky toffee pudding, and our banoffee tart is very popular," the waiter recommends mildly, uncorking the bottle of wine and carefully tipping a good measure into Yoongi's glass. Turning towards Jimin, he does the same for the younger. "If you'd prefer something less sweet, our chef prepares the apple pie in a traditional, savory fashion."

"Apple pie," Jimin breathes, looking across the table at Yoongi like a puppy.

"Yeah, yeah; alright. We'll have the fucking apple pie." God damn it, Jimin's so fucking cute. Turning to the waiter, Yoongi hands him both menus. "That's all for now, thank you. You can leave the wine bottle here as well; it'd be a pain to run you back and forth every time we're down a glass."

"Yes, sir."

Once they're alone, Jimin hums and folds his arms on the table. "So?" The dancer prompts in a singsong fashion, head lilting to the left. "Got any questions for me yet?"

"I'm trying to date you, doll, not depose you." Sighing, Yoongi rakes his fingers through his hair in an attempt to tame it— Knowing his luck, what he's probably doing is just messing it up more. "If you're putting it like that, this lunch is going to be fucking awkward."

"If you don't have one for me, could I ask one?"

"Shoot."

Cupping his face in his hands, Jimin blinks at Yoongi with wide, attentive eyes. "Why do you keep calling me 'doll'?"

Mmm. Easy question to answer; it's just a matter of what the younger wants to hear. "You're pretty enough that I can get away with it," Yoongi decides to say, shrugging callously as he reaches for his glass of wine. He doesn't usually touch any liquor that isn't bronze or gold in hue, but he'll make an exception. "Jin tells me people at the lounge call you the Makeba of Sheba, so I hadn't thought you'd have a problem with things like pet names."

"That's not really a pet name."

"It's a moniker. Same thing."

"No, it isn't. 'Doll' is a pet name, though." Smiling, Jimin sips his wine and curls a stray lock of hair behind his ear. "It's not that I have a problem with it, although I'm sure that if I did, you'd stop. I was just curious as to why you picked 'doll,' of all things."

"You want the longer answer?"

"Try me."

Yoongi concedes, leaning back in his chair with a grunt. "I told you Nams, Seok and I picked up this little shit named Taehyung, right? The kid who tried to pick my pocket?"

Jimin nods, intrigued.

"Tae's got this knack for picking up weird shit on his own time," Yoongi explains vaguely, snorting as he remembers all the fucking trouble Taehyung's dumb ass had caused over the years. "All sorts, really. Guy never went to school or learned how to read till he was well into his 20's, but for some reason he knows how to do fucking everything from making grease with soap to heat rub with beeswax."

"That’s… Interesting?"

Yeah, Jimin's fucking bewildered. Yoongi honestly finds it hilarious to talk about Taehyung to anyone; they always look at him like he's describing some sort of mythical creature. "I told you, he's fucking weird. Smart as they come, and quick, but really fucking weird."

"But what does this have to do with you calling me 'doll'?"

"I'm getting there; patience is a virtue." Turning his chair, Yoongi retrieves his pack from the pocket of his jacket and hopes he's remembered to bring a lighter this time. "So, one day I head home, somewhere between 3 and 4 in the morning. It's raining like a motherfucker, so I'm drenched, pissed off and probably going to die from hypothermia."

Giggling behind his hands at Yoongi's deadpan dramatics, Jimin nods for the elder to continue.

"So I get inside and turn on the lights, and I get a fucking heart attack." Putting a cigarette to his lips and lighting it with practiced hands, Yoongi consciously avoids blowing smoke in Jimin's face like a rude asshole. "See, Tae has his own place, but he almost never fucking stays there. Most mornings, I wake up with him half on me and half on the floor— If he hasn't crashed at mine, he's usually on Nams' couch or in Seok's bed."

"He sounds carefree," Jimin laughs, pretty teeth gleaming before he covers his mouth. "So he scared you because he was in your house and you didn't know?"

"No, I'm used to that at this point. It was the dolls he left on my dining table."

"Excuse me?"

"I told you, didn't I? Tae has fucking weird hobbies, and he never announces them till they come in handy. If they don't, Nams, Seok and I would never know half the shit he gets up to." Reaching for the tray in the middle of the table, Yoongi drags it towards him with a roll of his eyes. "Apparently, Tae had picked up painting some time in his troubled youth. He'd spent the afternoon at my place, painting dolls for a toymaker… Without a fucking care in the world, and without my fucking permission, too."

Jimin stares at Yoongi for a long time before he chokes out a giggle, ducking his head. Soon, he's folded over the edge of the table, laughing so hard his tummy starts to ache. "So that's what scared you?" He manages to get out with much difficulty, arm thrown across his abdomen as he rubs at the corners of his eyes with his free hand. "The d-dolls he painted?"

"It's not fucking funny," Yoongi scowls, smacking the surface of the table with his cigarette hanging from his lips. "Do you know how many damn eyes I had on me in my own home? I almost fucking pissed myself."

"I-It's just so… Unexpected…"

"Well, it was. But after I got over how fucking creepy it all was, I picked one up and took a closer look," Yoongi barreled on, taking a deep drag. Smoke spilt from his lips, carried on the afternoon breeze over the green. "Tae's a good painter – we already knew this, since he does most of our signs around Small Heath – but I hadn't realized how talented he really was till I held that doll up under a light."

Sobering a little, Jimin smiles. "It was pretty?"

("Get up, brat," He'd grunted, unapologetically kicking Taehyung in the side as he held up the doll. The younger had squeaked, rolled off the edge of Yoongi's bed and crashed on the floor with a groan, glaring up at the elder. "You made this on your own?"

"Wha— That? No," Taehyung had whined from the ground, half awake. He buried one of his big hands in his own hair, rubbing the spot he'd bumped on his way down. "Old man Nile from the toyshop gave them to me this afternoon; I just painted it."

"You did?"

"Is it so hard to believe I can do nice things?"

Yoongi had looked at the doll, silent and contemplative as the younger yawned and grumbled at being woken up. It was beautiful, skin artfully toned and brushed tan— He had no idea how Taehyung had managed to make polymer clay look so supple and soft, but he had. The doll's face, in particular, was artfully done; the swell of one's lips, or the gentle blush that colored one's cheeks and the crease of one's eyelids… Somehow, all of these details had been captured, and the result was paralyzing.

He really should have complemented the kid better. "You're stupidly good at this," he'd murmured instead, fucking confused because how had he never known? "What the fuck, honestly."

Taehyung had blinked up at him, baffled. Eventually, the lines of his face evened out and he'd grinned, boxy and bright and blinding.)

"Yeah," Yoongi says sincerely, looking out towards the green and feeling at peace. Taehyung's up in Birmingham, and he's far enough from the idiot to speak the truth now. "Real pretty, doll— Prettiest little thing I'd ever seen."

Humming, Jimin rests his cheek on his palm and beams at him. "That's why you call me 'doll'?" He asks one more time, eyes half-lidded and filled with more warmth than Yoongi's ever seen. "Because you think I'm pretty?"

"No, although you're plenty pretty," Yoongi tells Jimin without any hesitation at all, ashing his cigarette on the tray before lifting his gaze to the dancer. They do still say that honesty is the best policy, isn't it? "I call you 'doll'," he murmurs, mildly embarrassed, "because I'd always wanted to keep one— One that Tae had painted, I mean."

"You hadn't?" Apparently, this surprises Jimin. "I'd just assumed— I mean, since you liked them so much…"

"He'd finished painting them, so Tae took them all to the store the next day." After he'd complimented Taehyung, the younger had been so blatantly proud of his work. Yoongi's not big on feelings or anything, but even he has to admit that's fucking endearing— Tae's pride had been half the reason why he'd wanted to keep one of the fucking dolls, honestly. "They sold so quickly that I regretted not asking for one, the night I'd found them staring at me from my dining table."

"Can't you ask him to paint another for you?"

"Moment's passed," Yoongi dismisses, flapping his hand at the wrist. Resting his elbow on the table, he props his chin on his upturned palm and levels Jimin with a childlike grin. "Besides, I have my sights set on a new doll now."

Pouting, Jimin folds his arms. "Am I just a toy to you?"

"Like you keep saying, we've discussed your policy. I'm not breaking any rules here, am I?" Snorting, Yoongi lifts an eyebrow. "And does any sane man wine and dine a toy?"

"Then what do you want with me?" Jimin asks, cutting the bullshit and frowning. His tone settles somewhere between cautious and hopeful as he drags a finger around the rim of his glass, wetting it with condensation so that it produces a clear and melodic ringing sound. Almost timidly, he glances at the elder across the table. "This is… You told me you'll be leaving London, Yoongi, and I don't even know when. What exactly are we doing here?"

('Taking risks, probably,' Yoongi thinks. 'Breaking hearts, maybe.')

"We're having lunch," he says instead, quiet and solemn. Jimin opens his mouth, possibly to argue that Yoongi had missed the point, but the elder silences him by lifting a hand— He isn't finished. "Is it so bad to want something, even if you know it may not last? To give it your best go?"

"There's that phrase, right?" Jimin murmurs, folding his arms on the table. "'There is no man who fears love; only the man who fears letting go.'" Lifting a hand, he brushes his fringe out of his eyes. "… Sometimes, I think that's true about me."

"You fear your own heart?"

Shaking his head, Jimin smiles. There's a bittersweet look in his eyes as he toys with the hems of his sleeves, brows pinched with concentration. " It isn't my heart that I fear, but the heart of others," he explains himself sweetly, fingers lingering on a button. "I may have been an orphan, but I've come to terms with that a long time ago. I don't consider myself to be someone accustomed to rejection, and I don't want to learn how it feels to be left behind…"

Just a few years ago, Yoongi would have agreed. He probably wouldn't have approached Jimin at The Ophel Lounge at all, but the war's changed many things and he's grateful for that. Where others would stop, Yoongi's learned to go; where others would falter, he's learned to rise above it all.

(Non sum qualis eram.)

"What a depressing way to live," he tells Jimin with a lopsided gummy grin, taking some pleasure in the way the younger's mouth twists with surprise. "What's with that face?"

"I just… Hadn't really pinned you for the romantic type…"

"I'm not," Yoongi says truthfully, his shoulder aching. Lifting a hand, he laughs and digs his fingers into his side, nails marking crescents into the ink needled into his skin over his hip. It's a sobering reminder for him – for Namjoon, for Hoseok – and he's not going to spend the rest of his life afraid of taking what he wants. "I'm just a very simple man, and I just want very simple things; regretting something that hasn't happened yet just isn't in my nature."

"Are you always like this?" Jimin huffs suspiciously, eyes sharp as though he's exasperated— He probably is, now that Yoongi isn't turning out to be someone he's truly sussed out. "You hadn't struck me as the type to have blind faith."

"I don't," Yoongi corrects Jimin one more time, smiling. Turning his head, he relaxes and watches the horses gallop across the green, getting their fill of the sun and the soil.

("Seok, where's Nams?"

"I don't— I don't know, he was just here. I saw him going that way, but…"

"Nams wouldn't leave. He wouldn't fucking leave us, where the fuck is he?"

"He'll… He'll come back. But Yoongi, your shoulder, we have to—"

"What the— What the fuck was that noise?"

"Shit. Shit—"

"WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT NOISE!?"

"FUCKING STOP, YOONGI! You can't move, your fucking leg is broken—"

"THAT WAS A FUCKING EXPLOSION, SEOK! FUCKING WHERE IS HE!?"

"I DON'T FUCKING KNOW! I don't know, but you can't— He—"

"I'm fucking fine, fucking let me go— NAMJOON! NAMS!")

So, Yoongi's survived fucking Verdun. The war's changed many things, and he's grateful for that. Where others would stop, he's learned to go; where others would falter, he's learned to rise above it all. His faith isn't blind, and he doesn't live a Gypsy's dream by the luck of the clover or the Lady— With the hand he's been given in life, he's incapable of trusting that sort of thing.

He makes his own choices, he deals with his own consequences, he enjoys his own success and tastes his own failure. That's the life Yoongi's chosen to lead, and he's going to do whatever the fuck he wants to make himself happy— To make his family happy.

(Everything else after Verdun is extra.)

"No blind faith here, doll," Yoongi informs Jimin again, slouching in his seat and closing his eyes. "I only have faith in me. I know what I want, and I'll keep doing my best… Over time, I've learnt that's typically more than enough for me to get it."

"And that would be me?"

"Sorry?"

"What you want," Jimin mumbles, resting his head on his folded arms. He turns his face towards the green, but Yoongi catches a glimpse of his heated cheeks. "Is it me…?"

Shyness truly is becoming on the dancer, and Yoongi can't help but chuckle. "I'd say so," he says, amused. Reaching out, he cards his fingers through Jimin's soft locks, grinning when the younger lifts his head. His face is flushed, but there's a smile that's wobbling the seam of his lips. "I think I've made that abundantly clear, though? I bought you apple pie and wine and everything."

"That's your idea of a confession?" Jimin giggles, even though he's clearly flustered. "Just apple pie and wine? That's cheap, Mr. Min."

"I want you," Yoongi says, blunt and sincere and concise. He laughs when Jimin's face gets impossibly redder, cocking his head. "Oh? That good enough for you, doll?"

Jimin sits up straight, stubbornly averting his gaze. Hiding behind his hands, he scrunches his nose and squeezes his eyes shut as Yoongi laughs and laughs and laughs.

"S-Shut up! Don't laugh at me!"

 

 

04.04.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"HEY YOONGI, WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE GOOD HEMP?"

"Stop fucking screaming, you little shit— I'm half convinced I may as well stick my head out the god damned window to hear you," Yoongi growls, holding the phone at a distance from his ear and wincing. Fucking Taehyung, seriously. "Are you trying to deafen me? And I never smoked hemp, you fuckwit; I used to do Gondola."

"Oh… Okay." A pause. "Where do you keep the good Gondo—"

"No way; Nams will have my balls in a jar, and I need those." He doesn't have any opium at his house, anyway; Yoongi had quit relying on the stuff a long time ago. And speaking of his house… "Also, what the fuck are you doing at my place?" Fucking— Taehyung's even using his phone to ring Seokjin's, isn't he?

"Um."

Jesus Christ. Brothering Taehyung is truly a full-time fucking job, isn't it? "Please tell me," Yoongi breathes down the line, fingers itching to strangle the idiot back in Birmingham, "that you at least used the fucking keys this time?"

"I… May have forgotten I had those?"

"Why the fuck— How the fuck—" His entire life is suffering. This means that Taehyung's broken in again, which means that he's either broken something, or Yoongi's house has security flaws; either way, he isn't happy. "How does anyone just forget that they have fucking KEYS—"

"I never had keys before I met you guys!"

"THAT'S BECAUSE YOU NEVER HAD A HOUSE, AND YOU BROKE IN EVERYWHERE!" Great, now he's fucking yelling. This is way too much; it isn't even noon yet, and Yoongi already wants to crawl back in bed. "Fuck's sake, Tae, you're not on the streets anymore. You have your own damn house, and you have the keys to all of our houses— Hell, you have keys to half the fucking places in town!"

"I'm not used to it!"

"It's been fucking years!" 'Lord,' Yoongi thinks desperately, his fingers tightening on the phone, 'give me the strength.' Seokjin's an asshole, but he doesn't want to be responsible for breaking the man's fucking phone. "We picked you up when you were half your fucking height, so get used to it already!"

On the other end of the call, Taehyung makes a garbled, unintelligible whine to indicate that he has no intention of being remotely apologetic about this, whatsoever.

After a long and extended silence from Yoongi, he relents with a dull and defeated sigh. Taehyung's frustrating, but he's a familiar brand of frustrating; that push-and-pull dynamic's really been the extent of their bond since the idiot had tried to nab his wallet all those years ago, so he can't really say he hadn't seen this coming at some point. "What did you break this time?"

"Nothing…"

"Then how'd you get in?"

"Window…"

"I fucking locked that before I left, Tae. I'm not a fucking moron."

"Hoseok came by to air out the place last week, since you've been in London for ages," Taehyung actually sulks. Yoongi's fucking baffled; how is it that the little shit's the one breaking into his apartment, and he's got the nerve to sulk? "He left the latch half down; I jimmied it and it opened right quick. Been staying here for a couple of days…"

"Fucking why?" Yoongi asks, lifting his head and staring at the ceiling with resignation in his fucking bones. His life is tragic, and for some reason, he doesn't even have the energy to get mad at Taehyung anymore. Everything is worthless. "You remember having your own place, right? The one Nams, Seok and I bought for you? You picked out your own fucking bed and your own fucking table and your own fucking drapes and— And fucking everything else?"

Taehyung mumbles something.

Squinting at the receiver, Yoongi frowns. First the fucker's too damn loud, now he's talking to ants. "What did you say?"

"I said, it's boring at my place!" Taehyung complains like a child, his huffing telling of an equally infantile pout. "It's quiet, and no one talks to me or answers the door when I want to meet them because they know I'm a Blinder! It's much more fun to go to your house!"

"Go to Nams'! Or Seok's!"

"They're not home half the time!"

"And I am!?"

"Obviously I know that!" Taehyung yells, overtly emotional as usual. As annoying as that can be, Yoongi kind of likes that about the kid— He's got a big heart, and he's never afraid to wear it on his sleeve; makes it easy to know that he's always being genuine, and earnest. "I'm not fucking stupid! Why do you think I'm calling you!?"

'Oh.' It's beyond absurd, but maybe, just maybe— "Kim Taehyung," Yoongi deadpans, sinking into the nearest chair with a muffled groan, "by any chance, are you feeling… Is this you, I don't know… Fucking… Missing me?"

"Uh," Taehyung says drily, sounding equally as done as Yoongi feels, "yes? Why the hell did you think— I mean, it's only the first fucking time you've been away from this dump for more than a week?"

Yoongi can't lie; he'd been born unwanted, so it's nothing short of fucking groundbreaking that he has someone actually missing him. Still, they're hitting a crucial part of the deal; the lands deeds have come in from Reeves, which means they can begin moving in on pushing Solomons out of the picture. He can't have Hoseok and Taehyung calling him every other day while he's up here to get shit done; being somewhat stern about this should deter them, shouldn't it? "Are you some kind of newborn puppy?" He asks instead, embarrassed as fuck. "Do you need me to be around all the time to wipe your ass? Take you out for walks?"

"No," Taehyung mopes, clearly petty. "… You don't take me out for walks anymore, anyway. It's been ages since you took me out past the Gypsy's lot."

'Oh my god,' the elder thinks. "Oh my god," he says aloud, because that's how exasperated he is. Hoseok's made it pretty damn clear he wants Yoongi back in Birmingham, and now this? "Tae, I'm in London, not fucking dead. I'll be back once this deal goes through, and Jin says it's going well; we've bought over the police, and shit with Solomons is finally starting to fly." Pausing, he lets out a slow breath and counts to 10, praying for patience. "You know how important new business is for Nams to move forward, don't you?"

"I fucking know, okay?" There's a rustle on Tae's end of the call; Yoongi's 95% sure it means the younger's made himself some kind of fucking nest with every last cushion and pillow he has in his fucking house… Again. Fuck damn it. "I know, it's just… I hate it when everyone's all busy doing shit. Why couldn't I have gone with you, anyway? I love London."

"London is a god damned cesspit of rich fuckwits who don't know what to do with their green; Nams and I weren't about to let you get your head even more up your ass with company like the people up here," Yoongi defends himself, feeling quite justified. Also, he hopes Taehyung can't tell how much he wants to go back to Birmingham; having built a home for himself changes everything, and he fucking misses his family, too. "Just be good and stay put; sooner or later, Nams or Seok will have something for you to do."

Silence.

Damn it. "Tae, are you fucking sulking?"

More silence ensues.

"Stop fucking sulking."

Still nothing.

Jesus, he's really going to have to do this, isn't he? He's really going to have to fucking do this. "Far as I know, Jin and I have a wedding on the 7th. Allegedly, I'll die if I don't attend," Yoongi scowls. Just thinking about it is annoying, and he really isn't looking forward to the whole fucking affair. "Solomons will meet us on the 10th for something, but we have nothing planned between those two days— You can ask Nams if he'll let you have the car for a drive down here."

"… Really?" Taehyung says slowly, sounding suspicious. "You'll let me come?"

"Yeah," Yoongi mumbles tiredly, palming his face. God, keeping Taehyung in check in Small Heath is hard enough; getting him to behave in London is going to be a fucking nightmare. "Tell the others, see if they want to come. I doubt Nams will, since he's already visited once last month and he's got work up north, but Seok'll probably be up for it."

"Oh my god," the younger breathes, sounding genuinely in awe. "You're… You're really letting me come. Holy shit."

"Don't make a fuss or anything; you're making me fucking regret it." Clicking his tongue, Yoongi wonders if there's any more coffee left. If there isn't, he'll head to the kitchens himself; Seokjin's asked him to get used to his household staff doing shit – says he's paying them good money for their hard work – but he's never had someone waiting on him and it feels awkward as fuck. "Other than asking me where I stash drugs in my house – which I fucking don't, by the way – is there anything else you want to bother me with?"

There's a lull of silence before Taehyung speaks again, sounding all too happy. "So," he singsongs in anticipation, "a little birdie – I'm not gonna say who, or anything – told me that you found someone you like in Lon—"

Yoongi hangs up.

 

 

07.04.1919
London, Shaftesbury Place, Ironmongers’ Hall

"Everyone here's a fucking face," Yoongi glowers, annoyed. Crossing his arms, he cracks his next and looks over the crowd. "I know it's a wedding, but how the fuck does someone know this many people, anyway?"

"It's a social affair— I've already told you this, but weddings in London are less big on the sentimentality. They focus more on forging, building and enforcing business connections," Seokjin reminds him primly, fixing his lapel pin. "We saw Solomons on the way in, hadn't we? We should have greeted him together, but as usual, you're leaving me to do the hard work after you disappear."

"Speaking of which, if you don't let me leave in the next 15 minutes, I'm going to fucking shit in that potted plant," Yoongi tells Seokjin very seriously, pointing at an enormous vase of bougainvilleas by the pews. "And there is nothing you – or anyone in this hall – can do to stop me."

"Don't be crass, he's coming this way. This is for Namjoon, and I've been planning this introduction since Mihael Petrov decided to invest in my business with a ring on his finger," Exhausted with Yoongi's complaints, Seokjin places a hand at the small of his back to forcibly keep him in place. "Do your utmost, or I will severe your head where you stand with the closest steak knife."

"You literally cannot, there are too many people here."

"I will find a way."

(Yoongi stays perfectly still, because he believes Seokjin.)

"Seokjin," Mihael greets them pleasantly once they're close enough, his wife by his side with a blissful smile and a glass of champagne in hand. "I know you RSVP'ed, but I know you're a busy man. Vanessa and I are so glad you managed to make time to come to the wedding."

"Not at all. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, Mr. Petrov," Seokjin reassures the man, turning to Vanessa. "You look beautiful, Mrs. Petrov. Your husband is a very lucky man."

Flushing, a shy smile curls Vanessa's lips as she sips her drink.

"Don't go stealing her, eh? I've only just put a ring on the lady for 5 hot seconds," Mihael grins, playfully punching Seokjin in the shoulder. Turning to Yoongi, he cocks his head. "And who's your date over there?"

"Not a date, unfortunately… Or fortunately, depending on how you view the situation as it stands," Seokjin counters with a chuckle, putting his arm around Yoongi and squeezing his shoulder in warning. "This is my dear friend that I've told you about, Min Yoongi from Small Heath."

"I see, so this is the guy?"

"I'm the guy," Yoongi nods in confirmation, leaving one hand in his pocket as he holds out the other for a shake. "Nams— Kim Namjoon wanted to come himself since you kindly extended an invitation, but he's held up conducting some business in the east; hope you don't mind having the oldest one of the lot."

"Oh, so you're the oldest brother?" Leaning over, Mihael appraises Yoongi for a second before he bellows a hearty laugh and takes his hand, squeezing briefly before he lets go. "No worries at all, really. Seokjin's told me a lot about what you boys are doing up in Birmingham, so I know how busy he must be… It's a pleasure to meet one of the top guns, nonetheless."

"Glad to make your acquaintance too, and on such a momentous occasion." Turning to Vanessa, he awkwardly nods; he's not much good at events like these, but he needs to make some kind of effort or Seokjin will decapitate him. "Congratulations to the both of you. Was this a long time coming? I know some people decide to stay engaged for years on end."

"Mihael and I were only engaged for a little over a year," Vanessa says sweetly, turning to look up at her husband with a blissful expression. "We would have done it sooner, had the wedding preparations not been so elaborate. The Petrov family and mine are both huge; when we were both done counting our guests… Well, we had to cater to a crowd, as I'm sure you've noticed."

'Must've been a fucking pain,' Yoongi thinks. "It definitely paid off," he says instead, glancing around and trying to keep his irritation at bay; he's spent half the fucking day trying not to bump into anyone, which is easily as unachievable as breathing. "It was a lovely wedding."

"Something like this is just a show for our relatives and business partners— In truth, I'd get married to Vanessa under a cherry tree in Greenwich, if I had my way." Curling his hand around his wife's waist, Mihael bares his teeth with a gleeful grin. "Yoongi, right? Listen to an old man ramble for a bit on his wedding day and keep this in mind; it's all about the company you keep close, and nothing's closer than family. With a woman like this, I'm going to take over the world."

Humming, Yoongi turns this over in his head before he smirks, tapping his index finger against the razor sewn into the seam of his cap. "Not sure how I feel about marriage right now," he drawls lazily, "but if Seokjin's told you anything worth knowing about me, then you'll know that I'm with you on family coming first."

The groom blinks at Yoongi with wide eyes. There's a moment of silence hanging between them before he bursts out laughing, reaching out and taking Seokjin by the shoulder. "You weren't joking about this one being sort of intense, huh?" Shaking his head, Mihael lifts an eyebrow at Yoongi. "I look forward to meeting that younger brother of yours, if he's anything like you."

"Namjoon is a mild-mannered man; he's nothing like his brutish older brother," Seokjin sighs teasingly, swatting Yoongi's shoulder and earning a glare for it. "He's on his best behavior right now, but this one's rough around the edges; you'll have no problems dealing with the other two, I assure you."

Brushing Seokjin's hand away with annoyance, Yoongi refrains from cursing and turns to Mihael. "While I'll admit that Nams is easier to deal with than I am, you better not be fooled by his dimples," he warns the groom sincerely, eyes half-lidded as he cocks his head. "I hear you're looking to do business with us. Since you've so kindly shared a word of wisdom with me on your wedding day, I'll share one with you too."

"Oh?" Mihael smiles, amused. "And what would that be?"

"As much as we're a ragtag bunch from Birmingham, don't underestimate my younger brother's ambition," Yoongi shares, folding his arms. "He's a clever little bastard, and he's far more loyal and righteous than he has any right being, in our line of work."

"It sounds like you're proud of him," Mihael points out quietly, looking down at Yoongi severely. Suddenly, it feels like they're alone, just speaking man to man even as the crowd mills around them rowdily. "What a good older brother."

"If you want to take over the world, you'll need help. We're good and loyal people, and a king needs good and loyal people," Yoongi returns in the same beat, undaunted as he narrows his eyes. "I'm just letting you know right now that if you don't shake our hand, someone else will… And any self-respecting dog doesn't bark for two owners."

Silently, Mihael shoots Seokjin an impressed look. "What a man," he comments lightly, seemingly pleased. "Quite the company you're keeping yourself, there."

"So I've been told over the years, not that it's fazed me in the least," Seokjin replies serenely, placing a hand on Yoongi's shoulder and smiling. "Unfortunately, he won't be able to stay for dinner— He has a meeting across town with a packaging supplier in an hour."

Well, that's the first Yoongi's heard of any meeting; this is obviously Seokjin giving him an out, and he's going to take it. "I'm very sorry," Yoongi murmurs, looking at the groom, "but the meeting's been set to happen for a few weeks— I'm afraid I can't afford to miss it. Jin's mentioned that he'll stay for the dinner and the dancing afterwards, though."

"Of course, of course; business comes first, for men like us," Mihael nods fervently, turning to glance at his wife. "We still have many more guests to greet, so we'll leave you boys be for now, eh? But I'd love to talk to you more after the dinner, Seokjin."

"I'm make sure not to let any ladies keep me," Seokjin promises teasingly, lifting a hand to bid the lovely couple goodbye as they turn to leave. Once they're left alone – as alone as they can be in a room full of fucking strangers, anyway – the elder lifts an eyebrow at Yoongi. "I thought I told you to be on your best behavior. What was that?"

Not really seeing the problem, Yoongi frowns. "My best behavior?"

Sighing, Seokjin pinches the bridge of his nose before he takes Yoongi by the wrist, dragging him out of the main hall towards the reception area. "You're lucky Mihael takes well to a little snark," he chides the younger once they're able to breathe again, away from the rest of the wedding guests. "If he'd gotten offended, you would have singlehandedly tanked the progress of a potentially life-changing business deal."

"If he'd gotten offended, he wouldn't be worth doing business with at all," Yoongi points out, prompting a groan of displeasure from Seokjin. Suddenly, something flits by in his peripheral vision that has him wide-eyed, and he grabs the elder by the lapel. "Hey," he mumbles, "you're kicking me out, right? I can leave? Give me your car keys."

"Yoongi, I have to go home somehow," Seokjin hisses irritably, smacking at Yoongi's hand without heat. Standing up straight, he fixes his jacket and collar. "Look, I'll have reception call my estate; my butler will pick you up within the hour—"

"Thanks for the keys; see you back at yours," Yoongi cuts the elder off, already having picked his pocket while he'd been fixing his jacket. Darting between the crowd, he ignores Seokjin's furious calls of his name and grins, rounding a pillar. It takes a while, but he eventually manages to catch up. "Hey."

Turning on his heel, Jimin flinches with surprise before his eyes grow impossibly wide. "Y-Yoongi?"

Palming the keys to Seokjin's car, he glances around. Once he's sure no one's milling around, he leans in to drop a kiss on Jimin's nose. "Didn't expect to see you here, doll."

"I—" Shaking his head, Jimin looks over Yoongi's shoulder before smiling at him. "Me neither. Are you here with your friend?"

"Yeah. Jin's staying, my cutting out." Leaning back, the elder takes a long moment to just really assess what Jimin's wearing. It's a beautiful suit in dark teal, the textured fabric just faintly patterned to pull the whole look together— Brown belt and leather loafers too, with a hand-painted pocket square in silk. "I've never seen you dress so formally. Was this what you were getting made back at the Davies' place?"

Nodding, Jimin smiles and toys with the hem of his sleeve. "I'm here as my boss' plus one as a formality, but I've been told that I don't have to stay for dinner," he says shyly, looking towards the garden. "I've been given the night off as well, since I've been up since early morning and the wedding ceremony's only just let out."

"Mmm… Good." Yoongi can spot Seokjin's car from where they are behind the pillar— The black Morgan is off the side, next to a hideous, deep green Vauxhall. Turning to Jimin, he lifts an eyebrow. "If you're not doing anything for the next few hours, why don't you come with me?"

Blinking, Jimin looks confused. "Where to?"

"Don't know yet," Yoongi shrugs, taking Jimin by the hand and turning to leave before the dancer can even begin to protest his advances. "But it's a good evening for a drive, isn't it? Let's figure it out."



Yoongi ends up taking Jimin to a beer garden at Flackwell Heath, which is a little more than halfway back to Seokjin's manor. The sky's getting dark, and Jimin had gotten in a good nap in the car, so they pull into the place with the dancer having a little more energy than he'd had when they'd left the wedding venue.

"That porch is beautiful, with all the tables set out on the grass… And just look at the view," Jimin murmurs, his fingers tucked warmly in the crook of Yoongi's arm. Beaming at the elder, he cocks his head. "I've lived in London for over a decade and I never knew about this place. How did you find it?"

"There was a sign on the road that said there was an inn; I took my chances that they'd have a pub, too."

"Risky."

"Calculated gamble."

"And you're a gambling man, are you?"

"You know it." Turning to the nearest server, Yoongi lifts the brim of his cap. "Could we get a table right by the fence outside? We'd like some privacy."

"Of course. Is this your first time here, sirs?"

"Sure is," Jimin chirps happily, taking in the lovely décor of the interior. They're led through the place to the outdoor area and seated at least a table away from other customers— Most of them look like regulars, and Yoongi's gratified to see that they clearly don't give a shit about a couple of newcomers milling around in their territory. "This place must be lovely in the daytime. Are there horses or cattle out on the green?"

"When the sun's out, but they're all back to the stables by sundown," the server nods with a smile, watching Yoongi pull Jimin's chair out for him. "What can I get you two?"

"Hungry?" Yoongi asks Jimin once he's settled into his own seat, grunting.

"Not really," the younger hums, working his lower lip. "You?"

"I nicked some of those little whatevers they were serving at the reception, so I'm not in a hurry to eat anytime soon." Lifting his head, Yoongi addresses the server. "The sign out by the door says you guys do a mean selection of beers here. What do you have?"

"We have brown ale, Belgian ale and IPAs by the bottle," the server says, glancing over her shoulder. "If you're looking for something a bit darker, we also have the standard draught beers like Red Barrel, Guinness and Old India."

"I wouldn't mind a Belgian ale," Jimin tells Yoongi across the table, eyes shining bright even as the sun begins to wane. "I've tried it at the lounge; it's fairly tasty."

"Is it strong?"

"It's alright; they're easy to drink, but I've been told that's what makes them dangerous to down."

"Deceptively fucked up; sounds like my cup of tea," Yoongi decides, nodding firmly before turning to the server. "Two Belgian ales, please."

"Yes, sir."

Resting his arms on the table, Jimin drums his fingers along the wood grain. "Somehow, you've been showing up a lot more since that second night you came to see me at the lounge," he says once they're alone, sounding amused. "You took me out for lunch that one time, but it's starting to feel like none of this is a coincidence."

"Even though you may not believe me, I'm really just going with the flow here," Yoongi replies honestly with a shrug, chuckling. Resting his elbow on the table, he props his chin on the upturned surface of his palm. "The world's different day to day, and weird shit happens right under our noses. I've just learnt not to dwell on what it all means too much, or question any of it."

Leaning back into his chair, Jimin's head lolls to the side. "Are you saying we're fated to meet or something?" He teases lightly, his eyes soft and lit by the last hues of pink and orange in the sky, chased away by the onset of night. "Like destiny?"

Well, Yoongi doesn't specifically believe in the idea of destiny. As mentioned, he makes his own choices, he deals with his own consequences – he enjoys his own success and tastes his own failure – but he also understands that not everyone's ready to take ownership of their life that way just yet.

Destiny's a pretty word, and it's a beautiful ideal to have, and Jimin cradling that dream in his little hands isn't hurting anyone.

"Whatever it is, I'm definitely not complaining if I get to see you more often," Yoongi hedges quietly, attentively taking in the soft swell of the younger's cheeks, his full lips gently gaped with wonder as the sky darkens and the stars start sparkling into view over their heads. "I'm no man to kick a gift horse in the mouth."

"You speak too highly of me." Reaching across the table, Jimin rests a hand over the elder's and giggles shyly, his cheeks flushed as the wind tousles his hair. "We've only met a handful of times."

"I thought we've been over this, but a handful of times is plenty."

"To become this infatuated?"

"To know I want to keep seeing you," Yoongi corrects Jimin gently, careful but not rebuffing. "Do you feel differently?"

"I… I don't, but it's just unusual," Jimin hums, cupping his face in his hands. Eyes gentling, he turns a sweet smile on Yoongi. "I've never had someone try to see me as persistently you have, with sex taken off the table."

"That's fucking shitty— People, in general, are fucking turds these days," Yoongi says drily, completely unimpressed as their server returns with their beers. She doesn't make much of a fuss, simply setting down the bottles and leaving— On his part, the elder pops the cap off of one on the edge of the table, handing it to Jimin. "The sex was great, but you're more than a quick fuck. I know I'm not getting any more of that with you, and I respect that if that's what you want… I'm still here, though."

"And like I said, that's unusual." Taking the bottle, Jimin turns it in his hands, careful not to spill any. Lifting his head, his eyes are warm. "I don't want to be rude, but I hadn't expected it from you… Hadn't expected it from anyone, really."

Snorting, Yoongi rolls his eyes. "What, basic human decency?"

"Respect," Jimin murmurs, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

"No," Yoongi corrects the younger flatly, popping off the cap of his bottle, too. Holding it up, he narrows his eyes at Jimin across the table. "Asking people not to treat you like a cheap fuck isn't asking for respect; it's asking for basic human decency."

"I'm a swing dancer at the lounge, Yoongi," Jimin sighs, setting his beer on the table and pouting as he eyes the glistening green glass of the bottle. "Do you have any idea how many times people have approached me thinking I was for sale?"

"But you aren't. And even if you were a whore, we're all more than the things we do to make a living," Yoongi says bluntly, because he's never been the type to sugarcoat things. When Jimin blinks at him with wide, baffled eyes, he snickers. "What, you're clocked in at the lounge all hours of the day? I don't know what it is you think I do for work, doll – and I'm not sure you're up for finding out – but I can assure you that who I am right now is very different from the man I am on the job."

Sitting up, Jimin cocks his head with interest. "Oh?"

"It's the same for everyone else," Yoongi grunts dismissively, not really wanting to get into it. As far as he's concerned, the further all his Blinder business stays from Jimin, the better. "What I'm saying is that you're a dancer, just like you told me. If assholes still try to fucking proposition you knowing that, it's on them, not you."

"Not everyone's like you."

"Thank fuck for that."

"No, I mean—" Breaking off into a giggle, Jimin shakes his head. "It's good. I like that you're different," the younger says eventually, regarding Yoongi with an exasperated smile. "It's frustrating sometimes, the way you seem to think everyone feels the same way as you, but you're the rarity here, you know? People aren't as… Progressive, as you."

"Don't know if progressive's really the word— If it is, Nams can probably take the credit for that." Shrugging nonchalantly, Yoongi plucks his pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket after taking a swig of his beer. "I've said this before, doll, but I'm a simple man. I like you, so I'm taking you out and spending time with you; pretty elementary stuff. You're the one thinking too hard about this."

"I've always been the worrying type."

'Me too,' Yoongi thinks, 'I'm just hiding it a lot better than I thought I would.' "That's too troublesome," he says instead, rummaging in his pockets for a lighter. "Life's a bitch, so all we've got to do is learn how to fuck it. Stop making things complicated in that pretty head of yours and live day to day like the rest of us fuckwits."

"Why?" Jimin laughs, amused as he holds out a lighter, the wick already lit. "Will it make me happier?"

"Maybe not." Leaning in, Yoongi allows the flame to catch on the end of his cigarette and grins, teeth clamped around the butt of it. Leaning back, he looks up at the sky and closes his eyes, feeling lazy, unencumbered and at peace. "But if nothing else, at least you'll sleep in peace."

(It's a good night to be having drinks with a beautiful man.)

 

 

09.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, Leadenhall Market

"So how's it been going with the guy?"

"I should never have let the pair of you come," Yoongi deadpans, hands in his pockets as he watched Taehyung out the corner of his eye. The fucking brat's all over the place, messing with anything he can get his hands on. "Why the fuck did I say this was okay?"

"Moment of insanity?" Hoseok grins, folding his arms as they pass a stall selling fresh fruits. Picking up an apple, Hoseok holds it up to the sky and checks it for blemishes. "You're just soft on Tae, not that anyone blames you."

"The only part of me that's soft for Tae is my dick," Yoongi deadpans, glaring at the idiot in question; 5 seconds he'd turned away from the little shit and he's already chatting up a seamstress. Snatching the apple out of Hoseok's hand, he lobs it at Taehyung's head. "Hey, asshole! Do I need to put you on a fucking leash!?"

Taehyung grabs the apple out of the air and lifts it to his nose to smell it, eyes bright and mischievous. Turning to the lady he'd been flirting with, he offers it with a boxy grin.

"Sir, that'll be a half-crown," the fruit vendor says nervously, glancing between Yoongi and Hoseok.

"So sorry about that," Hoseok apologizes with a wince, rummaging in his pockets for change. The person manning the fruit stall's a young gun, little more than a teenager, and he startles when Yoongi growls irritably at Taehyung. "I've only got a pound— Here. Keep the change for the ruckus, kid."

"Really? Thanks, mister!"

"TAE," Yoongi barks in annoyance, snapping his fingers. Surprisingly, it works to get Taehyung's attention— The fucking guy's like a fucking puppy, seriously. "What, you need me to fucking whistle? Get over here!"

Still beaming, Taehyung says his goodbyes to the seamstress before bouncing back over to Yoongi and Hoseok, eyes bright as stars. "London's amazing," he sighs dreamily, even as Yoongi smacks him upside the head for wandering off. "I love it here."

"You would," Hoseok snorts, rolling his eyes before he frowns at Yoongi. "And will you stop making me pay for things you're going to throw at Tae? That's the third time this morning."

"Not gonna be the last, if this shithead keeps playing hide and seek." Grumpy and annoyed, Yoongi sniffs derisively at Taehyung. "Seriously, are you a newborn pup out on your first walk? This isn't even the first time you've been down to London, so what's your fucking obsession with this place, anyway?"

"All the women are beautiful, all the men are handsome, and the city reeks of corruption; what's not to love?" Taehyung sings, spreading his arms and spinning on the corner of the street without a care in the world. Coming to an abrupt still, he takes Yoongi by the shoulders and leans down – very conspicuously, which the elder swears he's going to punch him for later – to stare into his eyes. "Where's your sense of romance? Having met a pretty young thing here, shouldn't you be more invested in moving to the city?"

"Don't be fucking ridiculous; I'm not leaving our shithole for this shithole," Yoongi scowls, shoving Taehyung off of him, groaning when the younger clings to him like a limpet. He ignores it, continuing to walk even as the idiot whines and drags his feet. "And don't call him a pretty young thing—"

"I'm young," a familiar voice cuts in over Yoongi's shoulder, sounding put out. "And I'm pretty too, but I do appreciate not being called a thing."

Incredulous, Yoongi turns on his heel. Again? What the fuck? "Jimin?"

"We've got to stop meeting like this," the dancer laughs, clutching a parcel to his chest. Cocking his head at Taehyung and Hoseok, he turns a bright smile on Yoongi. "This time I followed you for a little, and I only stopped to say hello once I was at least somewhat sure you were with your brothers… Sorry, am I interrupting?"

Before Yoongi can say anything, the Peaky Blinders' ultimate brat has his arm hooked through Jimin's. "I'm Kim Taehyung," he introduces without prompt, drawing in all too close till he's nose-to-nose with the dancer. "Oh, you really are a pretty man; way too good for our Yoongi, really. What do you see in him, anyway? He hits me all the time—"

Punching Taehyung in the shoulder's not even something Yoongi's sorry for, and he pulls the idiot off Jimin with a scowl. "Maybe if you weren't fucking breaking into my fucking house all the fucking time—"

"It's a pleasure to meet you!" Hoseok cuts in with a cheerful sing-song, clasping Jimin's free hand between his own. "This is such a lovely surprise; Tae and I are only here for the day— Hang on a second, did you say you recognized us? Has Yoongi really been talking about us to you? That's so… Unusual of him, but nice—"

"No one said I was saying anything good!" Yoongi yells over his shoulder, wrestling with Taehyung. Once he's gotten the younger's head under his arm, he barges between Hoseok and Jimin with an exhausted groan. "Hey," he greets the dancer lamely, hoping he doesn't look as tired as he feels, pretending that he isn't holding his idiot brother and the fucking pickpocket they claimed off the streets at bay. "… How are you?"

"I'm fine; it looks like you're the one who isn't," Jimin giggles, immediately making Taehyung and Hoseok melt like butter on a hot fucking pan, like that's his fucking superpower. Yoongi could not be more impressed, seriously. "I just wanted to say hello, in the good name of our short-lived tradition where we randomly bump into each other on a regular basis."

"Love that tradition, glad you stopped us," Yoongi grunts, smacking his hand over Taehyung's face as the younger strains to look over his shoulder at Jimin. "Just wish I were fucking alone this time, too. What's that you've got there?"

"Flour," Jimin smiles, looking down at the package in his arms. He hugs it tightly to his chest, sighing. "There wasn't any more at the lounge, and I wanted to make some toffee bars, so I had to pick some up—"

"I LOVE TOFFEE BARS," Taehyung screams through Yoongi's fingers, one of them literally in his mouth. Yanking his hand back, the elder grimaces at the spit clinging to his hand. "Hoseok and I, and Yoongi too! We love toffee bars!"

"O-Oh," Jimin blinks, startled as he turns to look at Yoongi with uncertainty. "I wouldn't want to intrude since they've come all the way to London to see you, but…"

"You've met him for 5 hot seconds; stop fucking bothering him," Yoongi scowls at Taehyung, turning to Hoseok for help with narrowed eyes.

"We do like toffee bars," Hoseok shrugs after a beat, casually ruining Yoongi's entire life— The elder wants to fucking slap him, really. Grinning, he turns a kind look on Jimin and inclines his head. "If it isn't any trouble, we'd love to. Is your home far from here?"

The betrayal is so real it physically injures Yoongi. "Seok, you fucking asshole—"

"It wouldn't be a bother, really!" Jimin insists quickly, leaning in a placing a gentle hand on Yoongi's shoulder. "There's really no sense in baking for one, either. I usually make enough to last me a fortnight, so if you wanted to follow me back to the lounge, I could…"

"Doll, you really don't have to listen to these fuckwits—"

"I'll help you with that," Taehyung swans in front of Jimin, flashing his pearly teeth at the dancer and relieving him of his parcel of flour. Resting it squarely on his shoulder, the little shit spins on his heel to look at Yoongi with all the pride of a dog waiting to be petted for doing well.

Yoongi smacks the back of Taehyung's head instead, murmuring a curse under his breath as the younger whines to Hoseok. "Fuck, fine," he growls eventually, putting his hands into his pockets and shoving past his idiot brother and idiot… Whatever the fuck Tae is. "Fine, we'll fucking go, alright? Jesus, shit."

"I haven't baked for anyone other than myself for ages," Jimin says sweetly, tucking his hand in the crook of Yoongi's arm. Dipping his body, he looks up at the elder's stormy face and laughs. "Don't be like that; they're your family, aren't they? This'll be fun!"

Glancing over his shoulder, Yoongi takes in the pleased 'cat that got the crème' look on Hoseok's face, the biggest and most earnest grin that stretches Taehyung's lips boxy and childlike. They're loud and happy at the prospect of invading his fucking privacy and learning more about Jimin, all smiles and bumping elbows.

(He's really fucking missed them.)

"Like a fucking car accident," he grumbles to Jimin instead, who's long sussed out how whipped he is for his family, but at least possesses the decency to muffle his giggle into the soft curves of his palm. "Let's just go and get this over with, doll. Fuckwits one and two need their toffee bars, or they'll never shut up now."



"So like this much?"

"Well… A little more? The pecans really give toffee bars a good crunch, so—"

"Do I use the whole bowl, or?"

"No, TaeTae, just a handful at a time. Slowly, like this—"

Sitting in his usual place by the window, Yoongi glares at Taehyung getting a personal lesson on how to make toffee bars from Jimin. They're so close, too; hands have touched hands on more than one occasion, and he's beginning to get annoyed.

"You look like someone just pissed in your drink," Hoseok snorts, sitting down beside Yoongi and throwing an arm over his shoulders. Glancing towards the younger pair in the pantry, he grins. "Rein in your jealousy already; it's getting embarrassing to watch."

"Shut the fuck up, you shitty traitor."

"Can you really blame me for wanting to get to know him? Since the war, it's always been fucking and running with you," Hoseok has the nerve to snicker, affectionately bumping heads with Yoongi. "You haven't put in this much effort in seeing someone for years; can't blame Tae and I for getting a little curious."

"What, I can't buy someone dinner without you fuckers taking a shit on me?" Scoffing, Yoongi rolls his eyes. "Look, I don't need to hear this from a guy who's slept with half of Small Heath and practically every last Gypsy on the lot."

"Hey; consensually— I slept with all those people consensually," Hoseok emphasizes, narrowing his eyes at his older brother. "Don't forget to say that bit. These are dark times, and reputations are easily besmirched."

"Your reputation being…?"

"Hey, I have a reputation."

"For thinking with your dick?"

"Wow. Those are harsh words, Yoongi; you've hurt me, right here," Hoseok drones, feigning immense pain as he clutches at the fabric of his shirt over his heart. "Who needs enemies, with a brother this malicious?"

"If I were fucking malicious, both you and Tae would have matching headstones at this point," Yoongi retorts drily, folding his arms. Leaning into Hoseok's side, he rests his forehead against the younger's shoulder and closes his eyes; all bullshit aside, there's no better time than the present to ask the real questions. "How's Nams doing?" He murmurs under his breath, frowning at the way his brother tenses up a little. "… That bad?"

Hoseok's silent for a beat before he sighs, hard enough that it instantly sets off warning bells in Yoongi's head. "He's doing a little better than he had been the last time I called, but…"

"He sleeping at all?"

"Not much, and not well."

Damn. Nightmares, huh? "He staying at yours?"

"Yeah; has been for a little over a week. He screams, sometimes, middle of the night and everything, and I just…" Lifting his hands, Hoseok massages his temples with the joints of his thumbs. When he next turns to look at Yoongi, he's got a tired smile forced to the curve of his lips. "I've been trying to tell him to take it easy, but it's pretty much impossible. He's still working himself to the bone, but, you know… That's just who Joon is, right?"

Fuck. If there's one thing that Yoongi hates more than seeing Hoseok sad, it's seeing Hoseok defeated. "Hey, it's not on you," he says sternly, squeezing the younger's knee with a firm hand. Turning on his ass, he makes sure they're eye to eye. "I know it's shitty, not being able to help Nams, but it's not on you to fucking shoulder that guilt. You understand?"

"Yeah."

"Seok."

"Yeah, I mean— I know that," Hoseok shakes his head weakly, palming his face and letting out an exhausted breath between the cracks of his fingers. "It's just— It's just hard, is all. Worrying about shit, watching him… Pretend, like there's nothing wrong, and everything's the same as it used to be—"

"Nams isn't pretending everything's the same as it used to be," Yoongi defends their youngest, brows furrowed. He'll let his brothers complain to him about anything – everything, honestly – but if there's one thing he won't let Hoseok believe about Namjoon, it's this. "All of this shit happening in London, every fucking business venture he's got in the making— Seok, although we see this as is his way of burying his trauma, you've got to know that he sees things differently, right?"

"Then why aren't we setting him fucking straight?" Hoseok hisses angrily under his breath, rounding on Yoongi with grit teeth. He flails an arm, wild and restrained in the same beat so that neither Taehyung or Jimin will think to look in their direction. "It's been so long, Yoongi, and I'm sick watching him torture himself. The war took its toll on all of us, and I know that, but it's like time's frozen for Joon. He's still stuck there, and we—"

"And we can't do fuck all about it," Yoongi says coldly, clinical and stiff and so sad, "till his time starts fucking moving again, by his own fucking hand."

For a long time, Hoseok is motionless. Then, without warning, he sags against the elder like a puppet whose strings have been cut. "Sorry," he rumbles quietly, crestfallen and upset and all the thing he has no business being on Yoongi's watch, ever. "We've beaten this dead horse so many times, but it still gets to me, seeing Joon like that. Somehow it's just less… I don't know— Less frustrating, when you're around."

"That's because I'm a fucking delight."

"Yoongi."

"Look, you're right. We've been through this a thousand fucking times, and we always end up back at square one," Yoongi mumbles, moving his arm and placing his hand on the back of Hoseok's head. Tousling the younger's hair, he lets out a slow hand. "I know it's been tough on you. I'll finish up what I need to do here and come back soon, so hang in there."

Grumbling about his hair, Hoseok lifts his head and looks across the room at Jimin and Taehyung. "What about him?" He asks softly, his facial expression gentling. "All bullshit aside, you do seem to really like him… What if you come back home? Is he going to stay here?"

Turning it over in his head, Yoongi sighs. "The guy's life is in London," he says with a shrug, letting go of Hoseok and leaning back against a large cushion. "I don't even really know what's going on between us… With the way things have been going, we'll probably stop seeing each other once I head back to Small Heath."

Unhappily, Hoseok turns to Yoongi and frowns. "Aren't you even going to try and ask him to come with you?"

"The guy's known me for all of 2 minutes; he's not going to uproot his pretty ass from the city to stay in the fucking cesspit of Birmingham."

"Hey, you really never know with these types of things," Hoseok argues, cocking his head. "What if he would be willing to come? You're already going out of your way to see him and all; against all odds, he actually seems to like you a lot too."

"The fuck do you mean 'against all odds'? And let's be realistic, Seok; he's probably being paid in the hundreds to dance here in London— Just look at this place," Yoongi lifts an eyebrow, gesturing around Jimin's attic. The younger may live right above the lounge, but it isn't a bad place to put up at all; there's a small chandelier over his dining table, and his closet's easily the size of Yoongi's bedroom back in Small Heath. "You really think he'd give all of this up? For what, me?"

"You can't decide that for him—"

"Hey," Jimin calls out, nabbing both Yoongi's and Hoseok's attention from across the room. Holding up a hand with a pink mitten on it, he invites them over with a wave. "Come and taste! This batch looks really good, too."

"Fresh out of the oven, huh?" Hoseok chimes cheerfully, getting up with a grunt. Yoongi runs his fingers through his hair, clearing his throat as he dogs his younger brother's footsteps towards the pantry. "Be honest, now; did our Tae help you or hinder you?"

"Hey, I can bake," Taehyung argues with a huff, crossing his arms.

"You've got fucking flour on your nose," Yoongi scoffs, reaching over and rubbing it off with a rough hand. Squawking, Taehyung recoils with a sputter and a wince. "I'm not gonna die eating this, am I?"

"You'll die for breaking my fucking nose!"

"I didn't break your fucking nose, you overdramatic little shit—"

"TaeTae helped lots with the toffee, and he helped sprinkle the pecans," Jimin says calmly, resting a hand on Yoongi's and coming between him and Taehyung. Smiling at Hoseok, he glances down at the baking tray that he's got cooling on a rack— Several squares have cut from the batch, resting on a plate off to the side. "He was a lot of help, and we had a lot of fun talking."

"Heard that?" Taehyung sniffs, mockingly derisive as he leers at Yoongi over Jimin's shoulder. "I was helpful, AND I was fun."

Yoongi bares his teeth at the kid.

Picking a piece off the plate, Hoseok holds it delicately between his fingers. "Oh, still pretty hot," he murmurs, before sinking his teeth into the bar.

"Is it good?" Jimin asks, taking off his mittens and smoothing down the front of his apron. Cocking his head, he looks up at Hoseok with worry in his eyes, waiting for a review. "I used a little more brown sugar this time, since TaeTae told me that all of you like sweet things… Oh no, did you burn your tongue? I have some milk, just give me a moment—"

"Doll, calm down," Yoongi snorts, putting a hand on the small of Jimin's back. Pulling the dancer against him, he chuckles at how flustered he looks. "You're babbling. Besides, look at Seok's face; the idiot loves it."

"The idiot loves it," Hoseok confirms with a stupidly emphasized moan of bliss, voice muffled around toffee that's gumming his teeth together. Turning to Jimin with bright eyes, he sticks the rest of the bar between his lips and takes the dancer by the shoulders. "You're a genius, Jimin; these taste fantastic!"

Jimin's eyes sparkle. "R-Really?"

"Oh my god," Taehyung says vaguely around two bars in his mouth, snatching the plate off the table and making a break for it. He waits till he's across the room before he cups a hand around his mouth to shout at them, his arm protectively curved over the goods. "These are mine now, you can't have anymore!"

"Fucking— TAE," Hoseok bellows, bolting after the kid like a bloodhound on drugs, "GET BACK HERE—"

"Wait, I've made enough for everyone!" Jimin tries to say. He moves to intervene, but Yoongi shakes his head with a sigh, stopping him. "But I did! I was going to pack some into a box so that they could take it back to Birmingham for your other brother… I was going to give you some for you and Seokjin to share, too—"

"Just let them tire each other out," Yoongi says dully, sitting on the kitchen counter and putting his arms around Jimin. The dancer tumbles towards him, craning his neck to stare up at the elder. "With any luck, they'll run out of steam and head back to Small Heath before dinner; fuck knows I can only take so much of their bullshit."

"You're so mean to them," Jimin giggles, tipping his head back and standing between Yoongi's thighs, arms around the man's waist. "Even though they're family and everything."

Humming, Yoongi brushes Jimin's hair away from his forehead, dropping a kiss above his brows. "Let them meet you, didn't I?" He points out, keeping his eyes on Hoseok and Taehyung at a distance. "That's about the nicest thing I've ever done for them; they even get toffee bars to show for it."

"They're just toffee bars." Ducking his head shyly, the dancer buries his flushed face in the front of Yoongi's shirt. "And I'm just a stranger…"

"Just a stranger… You really think so, doll?" Resting his chin on the crown of Jimin's head, Yoongi smiles. "Guess that makes one of us."

 

 

10.04.1919
London, Camden Town, The Solomons Bakery

Basically, the long and short of it is that they're doing well.

But everything's a fucking production for Alfie fucking Solomons, which is how Yoongi finds Seokjin and himself listening to the man talk shit all goddamn afternoon. "But the boys haven't given you any trouble, have they?" He jumps in, trying to put an end to all of this because anything of importance has already been discussed in the first 30 minutes he's fucking been here. "I should hope they've grown well and used to… Baking, at this point."

"You gave me a fuckin' crop of 50, right, and half of them are fuckin' braindead," Solomons complains, smacking the surface of the table and making Seokjin's teacup clatter on its saucer. "The boy who fucks horses, the one with the fucked up eye, what's his name?"

"Freddie," Yoongi deduces. He's grown uncomfortably accustomed to Alfie's offhanded racism, and he knows the man's talking about the Kirsten brothers because they used to work at the stables— The older brother, too, because he's the one with a lazy eye. "Freddie Kirsten."

"That's the fuckin one," Solomon spits on the ground to his left, dangerously close to Seokjin's foot. "I don't even have him baking anymore— You know, safety reasons and all that. Idiot couldn't tell his asshole from his piehole if I paid him in diamonds."

Moving his chair back a little, Seokjin crosses his legs and eyes Solomons' spit mark on the ground with distaste. "That is unfortunate," he artfully pretends to lament, glancing across the table at Yoongi. "Would you like him replaced?"

"What? No, fuck no," Solomons scoffs derisively, flapping a hand. He lifts his glass to his lips, draining the last measure of whiskey remaining before he reaches for the bottle again. "Boy's fuckin' useless in the kitchen, make no mistake about it, but he cleans shit like a fuckin' angel. Hell; I could tell that lad to scrub my balls, right, and he'd do a bang up job."

Grimacing, Yoongi has to refrain from glaring at Solomons' crotch. God, he pities Freddie.

"Since there's no apparent problem with the work force, maybe we should be discussing the details of how business has been proceeding," Seokjin chimes in, taking the opportunity. Turning to Solomons, he smiles. "Have production quotas been met, or are there still a few kinks we need to work out in the process?"

"You'd get high just breezing into the bakery, mate; we're hitting our fuckin' numbers. My end of the line's solid; what about yours?" Solomons grunts, rolling his eyes sarcastically. Narrowing his eyes at Yoongi, he sniffs. "This is a partnership, not a fuckin' charity— You lot were supposed to deadend Sabini and buy over the coppers."

"Killing off Sabini's influence in London will take more time," Yoongi says drily, resting his arm on the table. "You don't take a kingpin like that out overnight."

"What, you planning on asking the wop for his hand in fuckin' marriage first?"

Yoongi's hand clenches into a fist as he tries not to reach across the table to slap the racist fucker— It's a hard battle to win.

"First, we must dominate supply and demand in London," Seokjin jumps in quickly, glancing between Yoongi and Solomons with a lifted brow. "Unfortunately, my colleague is correct; there are no shortcuts where it comes to overthrowing Mr. Sabini. However, we've made significant progress where it comes to taking control of the police."

"Right," Solomons snorts, folding his arms and leaning back. "You're telling me that you – two nobodies from up north, you – managed to get Sabini's coppers off his coin and on yours?"

"Oh, of course not; that would advertise our presence as a threat, which is strategically unsound," Seokjin chuckles, shaking his head. "But we do have it on good authority that we're paying the police double what they're getting from either the crown or Mr. Sabini. If anything, it's coin well spent for a minute of advanced notice, should he choose to move against us."

"Money talks here, same as it does anywhere," Yoongi deadpans, lifting his hand. Rubbing his thumb and index finger together, he has to struggle against the urge to flip Solomons off in the same beat. "The uniforms here have a price, and we've just one-upped Sabini under his nose without him knowing. Less you doubt us, the better."

Solomons looks at them for a long time in silence, his eyes wide and unblinking.

"The licenses for production and distribution have been updated to include Namjoon's name— That's Yoongi's younger brother, and the man who sent him here to conduct business with you," Seokjin continues seamlessly, lifting his cup of tea to his lips. Of course, he doesn't mention that they've also bribed the appropriate authorities to discreetly remove Solomons' name off the licenses with no notice. "The hard copies are on the way to my manor; I'll bring them with me the next time I see you."

'You'll bring forgeries,' Yoongi translates in his head, snorting internally.

"Right, you do that," Solomons nods gravely, cocking his head at them with a derisive sniff. "Pace we're going at, your capital investments will be back in your pockets this time next month— Then we'll really get the fuckin' ball rolling, won't we?" The idea seems to perk him up a little, and he grins around a freshly lit cigarette. "Never thought I'd see the day I let a bunch of Gypsies in the door, but it's just a good time to do business all around, ain't it?"

"Only if it's with us," Yoongi agrees, leaning back in his seat with satisfaction.

(Solomons isn't going to know what hit him.)

 

 

13.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

Seokjin's busy meeting Mr. Petrov for dinner to discuss their dealings in car parts, which leaves Yoongi free for the evening. He's never really seen Jimin take the floor for more than a few minutes, so he decides to drop by a little earlier during swing hour to surprise the dancer.

He ends up being the one surprised instead.

The first time Yoongi had seen Jimin dance, the floor had been crowded, and his vision obstructed. This time, he forks out enough money for a table that affords him a clear view; it's elevated on a platform, far from the mob itself.

Tonight sees Jimin in an even more beautiful dress; the flowering bodice emphasizes the curve of his waist, the sheer silk skirt flaring with every turn he makes on his butterfly heels. Yoongi's mesmerized, watching the younger flit from partner to partner, dominating the floor and prompting cheers so loud the building seems to shake.

The band eats up the ruckus, doubling and tripling the excitement in the ballroom till Yoongi feels his ears going numb. The embroidered flower crown that adorns Jimin's head catches the light of the chandeliers, each crystal sewn into the band glimmering. He's smiling, lips parted around soft giggles as he changes hands, the sharp clicks of his heels lost amidst the storm of his popularity in the lounge.

People are pushing and pulling each other back from lining the floor, Yoongi realizes, and he gets it. They're all waiting for a chance to hold Jimin— To pretend he belongs on their arm, that he belongs to them, just for half a beat. The dancer draws people like moth to a flame, each hypnotizing beckon like a siren's song.

One that even Yoongi had fallen for, now that he thinks about it.

Following his talk with Hoseok when his younger brother had come to London for a visit, Yoongi often finds himself trying to pinpoint why he's so enamored with the younger. He already knows that Jimin's never learnt what it means to be at war – though he doesn't know the specifics of how the dancer had managed to dodge being conscripted in the first place – and it shows. It shows in his fragile beauty, in the gentle slopes of his body, in the way he marvels and feels and breathes.

Jimin is the world's most beautiful pearl, encapsulated in an oyster that he hasn't yet realized is an illusion.

Distantly, a part of Yoongi wonders if that's why Jimin appeals to him so much, why the younger feels so untouched and unsullied in comparison to people like him and his brothers. Despite how short their time has been – and will be – together, he still feels an overwhelming need to look after his doll – his pretty, petulant doll – to make sure that nothing that's ruined his life will ever ruin that of the dancer's.

As he watches Jimin surrender his body to the floor, pretending to give everything of himself to each partner he entertains for a few precious seconds, Yoongi feels protectiveness and possessiveness take hold of him in equal parts— Curling their gnarled fingers around his heart, nails digging in and squeezing till he feels like he can't breathe.

'This is bad,' he thinks, somewhat resigned as he slumps in his seat. It's almost worrying; not the revelation that he's beginning to fall for Jimin, but the fact that it's bothering him far less than it should. His shoulder's aching something awful, and he digs his fingers into the flesh of it, carving crescents on his skin like it'll ease the pain. 'Very bad.'

At some point during a break towards the end of swing hour, Jimin spots him above the heads of the crowd. His eyes widen a little with surprise, before they gleam with excitement. 'Come here,' he mouths cheerfully, waving Yoongi over with a rose he'd been given mid-dance. 'Dance with me!'

Shaking his head, Yoongi manages a smile as he tugs on the brim of his cap. 'I don't dance,' he mouths back, chuckling at the little frown he gets for his trouble. 'You go ahead.'

Jimin huffs, clearly feigning offence. Turning on his heel, he makes a petty show of displaying his annoyance by stomping away without even finishing half of his Brogue.

(Yoongi doesn't mind. All it means is that they're heading up to the attic right after swing hour is over, and he's not nearly stupid enough to object to that at all.)



"Of course you can dance, Yoongi," Jimin sighs heavily, taking off his earrings as he speaks to the elder over his shoulder through the mirror. Carefully resting his jewelry on the top of his dresser, he dips at the waist to pout at his hair, pinching at several stray locks to rearrange their place on the crown of his head. "Everyone can dance; you're just worried you'll look silly."

"No, I know I'll look silly; there's a difference." Putting his arms around Jimin's waist, Yoongi closes his eyes and smiles, pressing a gentle kiss to the younger's neck. "I'm a self-aware guy, doll, and I'm not keen on lowering my chances with you; they're low as they are."

"You won't look silly; here, I'll show you," Jimin offers, turning around with a bright grin. Ignoring Yoongi's exasperated sigh, he starts by positioning the elder's right hand on his waist before lifting an eyebrow, amused. "Stop being so stiff! I'm trying to teach you—"

"Teach me what, how to dance like you?"

Chuckling, Jimin shakes his head. "Maybe not like me," he allows mischievously, leaning in to whisper in Yoongi's ear. "Between the two of us, I think I'm a little out of your league."

Blanching, Yoongi pretends to back off. "Oh, if you're going to be that condescending about it, then—"

"No, no! I'm sorry, I didn't mean it." Making grabby hands for Yoongi, Jimin giggles. "Come back, I promise I'll be nice…"

"You better be." There's muted jazz drumming low and steady through the floor of the attic, what with the lounge still buzzing with late-night couples and men consumed by less than legal business appointments. Yoongi frowns, putting up with Jimin guiding him till he feels he's got the hang of moving around on the beat in slow, rhythmic circles. "That's it?"

"That's it; you're dancing," Jimin nods cheerfully, eyes sparkling and filled with fondness. "It's not so bad, is it?"

"It's doable." They move in accordance to the music, dulled through the floors. The silence gets broken just mildly when it starts to drizzle, but there's a thickness of something in the air between them that's left uninterrupted. Yoongi's thoughts are muted for a long time, till there's a sharp prick of awareness at his fingertips. "I've been meaning to ask you," he murmurs quietly, thumb brushing over the raised embroidery on the bodice of the dancer's dress, "but do you like wearing things like this? Or does the lounge make you dress up for the floor?"

Jimin hums thoughtfully, unperturbed by the question; he's used to Yoongi's honest way of speaking— Seems to have a preference for it, even. "The lounge manager managed my wardrobe in the past, but he leaves most of what I wear up to me now… I like dressing up when I dance, personally," he decides eventually, as though he's never thought twice about it before. Cocking his head at the elder, he beams cheekily. "Of course, it helps that I look good in everything that I wear, whether it's a suit or a dress."

Cocky. "Mmhmm," the elder trails off, smirking.

"What was that?" Mock affronted, Jimin pouts at Yoongi with a huff. "Aren't I pretty?"

"Yeah, doll." Yoongi feels Jimin's soft breaths falling on the junction between his neck and shoulder more than he hears them, and he allows a small smile to curve his lips. They continue to dance as he presses his lips to the younger's forehead, eyes sliding shut. "Very pretty— The prettiest."

"That's more like it." Muffling a little laugh, Jimin sighs. After a beat, he shifts so that he's hiding his face against the elder's neck. "I've been thinking about what you said that day," he tells Yoongi under his breath, his voice small but firm. "About us, when you took me out for lunch at Covent Garden."

Oh, so they've finally reached a point where the younger's willing to break his silence on the matter. "Good," Yoongi says simply, trying to sound encouraging. "What about it?"

"I told you I wasn't someone accustomed to rejection— That I didn't want to learn how it felt to be left behind," Jimin reminds the elder softly, his eyes half-lidded as they sway on their feet. Hooking his chin over Yoongi's shoulder, he lets out a slow breath. "You told me that you thought it was a depressing way to live."

That sounded harsh; having it repeated back to him so flatly made Yoongi feel like shit. "I still do," he mumbles apologetically, maintaining his stand on the matter despite how bad it sounded; he's never been the type to sugarcoat, after all.

"I know." Gently, Jimin pulls back enough that they're face to face, pink dusting the apples of his cheeks. "After thinking about it for a while, I think I do, too."

For a moment, Yoongi's mind grinds to a halt. He turns everything between Jimin and himself over in his head— Goes over each conversation they've had, re-experiences each touch they've exchanged, re-captures each glance they've shared. "What do you mean?" He asks after a beat, frowning. He thinks he knows what Jimin's saying, but— "Best to be clear with me, doll."

"I— Yes," Jimin stammers earnestly, his teeth sinking into his lower lip. Taking in a deep breath with his eyes shut, he clasps his hands together and mouths something— A mantra to calm his nerves, maybe. By the time he's summoned the willpower to look at Yoongi again, it doesn't seem to have helped much; he actually looks a little paler, though the steady melancholy of the rain getting heavier may be contributing to the illusion. "I think— I mean, I don't know if it's still what you want, but like you said, I thought you'd want me to be clear about it, so I told myself that the next time we saw each other—"

"Jimin."

"— I'd tell you that I wanted to try being together," Jimin blurts in a rush, sounding completely winded.

Oh.

Yoongi blinks at him in surprise, not having expected this in a million years.

The dancer doesn't lose steam, barreling on without pause or punctuation. "I thought that I should tell you properly, because you were so forthcoming with me on our date… I was worried because I have a job here – a job that I really, truly love – and I wasn't sure if you'd want to continue seeing me once you move back to Birmingham, but I do like you—"

"Doll—"

"— Really, truly like you, and I didn't want to regret not saying anything because I was afraid that things wouldn't work out between us—"

"Jesus Christ," Yoongi says, stepping into Jimin's space and cupping the younger's face in his hands. If nothing else, it at least makes him stop talking; the dancer's mouth is gaped around a half-spoken word, his eyes wide with shock and his cheeks impossibly red. "Doll, I get it. Relax. Breathe."

"But I—"

Stopping their movement to the music, Yoongi leans in and drops a kiss on the tip of Jimin's nose, effectively shutting him up save for a tiny, pitchy gasp of surprise.

(Best way to quell a rambler, the elder finds.)

He lingers for a bit before pulling back, lips curved. "You talk too much," Yoongi decides to start with, chuckling at the anticipated whine he gets for being mean. Pulling Jimin towards him, he looks upon the dancer with warmth in his eyes. "But I don't hate it."

"That's not exactly a ringing endorsement," Jimin argues weakly through a pout, petulant even as his mouth trembles around a wobbly smile. Chewing on his lower lip for a moment, he takes in a deep breath through the cute crook of his teeth before lifting his head, eyes narrowed. "That— When you say you don't hate it, you mean…"

"… I mean?"

"Yoongi, I'll smack you with my heels."

"Don't; those could kill a man." Taking pity on the younger, Yoongi relents with a slow and meaningful nod that brightens Jimin's eyes. "Yes, doll; I mean that I'd like us to be together. But you already knew that, didn't you?"

"You never told me directly…"

"Didn't think I had to."

"Well," Jimin huffs, pink blooming on his cheeks again, "if you were going to, you should have done it before I said all of that…"

"Sorry." Is it really something he should be apologizing for in the first place? Shaking his head, Yoongi puts his arms around Jimin's waist again and pulls him close, till their bodies are flushed from shoulder to hip. "I didn't know I was working on a deadline, doll. You the one who sprung this on me; if it helps, I was probably going to say something tonight."

Jimin cocks his head, confused. "Why?"

Why indeed. Yoongi remembers the jealousy that had roiled in him, watching Jimin flit between partners on the floor— Feels the need to protect the sweet dancer even now. "Thought I'd been hinting at it enough," he decides to tell the younger with a callous shrug, not wanting to get too into the thick of explaining himself. "As it stands, Tae and Hoseok have all but married us in their minds; I wanted to get a proper clue on where we were going."

Ducking his head, Jimin giggles— Starts moving to the slow jazz that's bleeding through the floor again, prompting Yoongi through the motions with a gentle hand. "And where do you think we're going?"

"Fuck if I know, but I know it's a place worth getting to."

"That's vague."

"That's the hand life tends to deal you," Yoongi retorts realistically, thumb brushing over the curve of Jimin's hip in an arc. "You said it yourself; you didn't want to regret not saying anything out of fear. Is it that hard to believe that someone else could feel the same way?"

Thoughtfully, Jimin lowers his head. After a beat, he takes in a deep breath and squeezes his eyes shut. "Okay," he says quietly, like he's bracing himself for something. "… Kiss me."

"Excuse me?"

"Kiss me."

"Not while you're looking that fucking terrified, I won't."

Stubbornly, Jimin huffs and pouts and whines, fingers curling loosely into the collar of Yoongi's shirt. "Kiss me!" He demands, cheeks flushed and eyes filled with some sort of strange, nervous determination. It's really fucking endearing, to be honest. "I said it was fine, so kiss me!"

"Saying it thrice isn't a very good intimidation tactic, as far as intimidation tactics go."

"Stop making me ask for it so many times, then! Why aren't you—"

Yoongi leans in, cupping Jimin's cheek and closing his eyes as their lips meet for the first time in more than a solid month.

A gasp spills into the elder's mouth before Jimin kisses him back, the dancer's hands going lax and his body fitting against Yoongi's in that familiarly fleeting way it had the last time they'd embraced quite so intimately. He's pliant and soft and lovely and warm, and he melts into the kiss like butter on a hot pan. "Oh," he whispers, voice muffled by the way Yoongi sucks his lower lip between his lip, giving it a little nibble that has Jimin's lashes fluttering. "I—"

"Woah there," Yoongi murmurs, carefully putting his arms around Jimin and catching the younger when he stumbles in his heels, mouth curved around a smile. Pride sparks in his chest; managing to make someone so beautiful waver on their feet must be no easy mountain to conquer. "C'mere, baby."

"You weren't supposed to catch me by surprise," Jimin complains without heat, chewing on his lower lip. He yelps when the elder dips, arm around the backs of his thighs— Still, he manages to get the hint, straddling Yoongi and hiding his flushed face in the crook of the man's neck. "You don't play fair."

"All's fair in love and war."

"That's not how you're supposed to use the quote."

"Nams tells me literature's open to interpretation; I've always been an 'improvise on the go' kind of guy." Carrying Jimin is easy; he weighs next to nothing in comparison to the heavy lifting Yoongi's had to do in the past, and he takes the younger over to his bed without pause. Sitting at the foot of the mattress, he steadies Jimin on his thighs before leveling him with a serious look. "No pressure," he says, thinking it's really all that needs to be said. "Your pace."

Jimin's eyes widen for a moment, before tension bleeds from his shoulders in spades. "Alright," he says softly, eyes half-lidded and he interlaces his fingers at the back of Yoongi's neck. Leaning in, he bumps their foreheads together and bares his pretty, pearly teeth in the sweetest smile the elder's seen on him yet, toppling them back onto the mattress. "My pace."

"This already?"

"I like cuddling."

"So I've been told," Yoongi nods, relaxing into the plush sheets. He chuckles as Jimin mewls against the spot beneath his ear, sighs in contentment when he feels the dancer's lips brush his ear. Closing his eyes, he drowsily runs through his schedule for the next day— Namjoon's visiting to sign some sensitive documents for Seokjin, and he wants to pick up his younger brother from the station. "It's getting late, doll. I'll come tomorrow, but I should go—"

"Stay."

Surprised, Yoongi opens his eyes to stare at the top of Jimin's head; he hadn't been expecting that at all. "Are you sure?" He questions warily, frowning when the younger blinks up at him sluggishly. "Don't get me wrong; I'd love to. But I don't want you to think that you have to—"

"Yoongi," Jimin murmurs, sealing their lips momentarily before he pulls back with a drowsy, crooked smile, "I don't know how long you'll be here."

('I don't know how much time we have,' Yoongi's mind supplies immediately.)

There's a long, extended pause. Eventually, Jimin sags against the elder with a small huffing sound, seemingly resigned to Yoongi leaving. "Just so you know, I'm not forcing myself to do anything; I never said we'd be having sex, either," he mumbles against the fabric of the elder's shirt, sounding somewhat insecure and hesitant. "But that's okay. It's fine if you don't want to stay the night—"

"I'll stay," Yoongi cuts in, carefully moving Jimin onto his side so that they're facing one another with their legs dangling off the foot of the bed. "We don't have to do anything, too."

Jimin stares at him with wide eyes, mouth gaped around words that don't come.

"What is it?"

"You don't want to—" Swallowing thickly, Jimin averts his gaze and chews on his lower lip. "You don't want to have sex with me?"

"I'm not fucking blind, doll." Jesus, there's really no winning sometimes. "It's just that unlike most men, I don't think with my cock; I want you to be comfortable no matter how long I have to wait for us to have sex again," Yoongi points out drily, a little disbelieving. Lazy and a little sluggish himself, he reaches for a stray lock of hair hanging over the dancer's eyes, tucking it behind his ear. "We just agreed we'd go at your pace, remember? And besides, I'd prefer that you turn in, anyway."

"Turn in… Now?"

"Well, you must be tired after working at the lounge. It'd be bad if you fell sick, wouldn't it?"

"Mmm," Jimin hums vaguely instead of responding, scooting a little closer to the elder and tugging on his sleeve.

Sussing out what he wants, the elder moves. They shift upwards on the mattress without exchanging a word, grabbing cushions and making themselves comfortable in each other's embrace— It's not much of a production or anything, but it's a routine that's terribly unfamiliar to Yoongi. He really doesn't mind it, though; thinks he'd like to try getting used to sleeping with someone in the same bed without feeling the need to hide a gun under his pillow.

(That'll be the day.)

"Thank you," Jimin says suddenly, soft with sleep as he cups Yoongi's face. He giggles when the elder drops a kiss on the tip of his nose, adorable and lovely and fond. "For worrying about me, even though you don't have to."

"Want to," Yoongi grunts, enjoying the way their bodies are pulled flush, the way Jimin's head is resting on his bicep and the way their legs are tangled beneath the sheets. Yawning widely, he closes his eyes and buries his nose in the younger's hair; outside the window, the rain dulls to a drizzle, pleasantly melodic on the slanted glass panels. "Gonna take care of you. C'mere."

Jimin wriggles a little, lifting his head to brush his lips against the slope of Yoongi's jaw. He smiles when the elder muffles a noise, blindly turning his head for a real kiss. "I'm here," he whispers, before he gives in.

'Jesus,' Yoongi thinks, on the cusp of falling asleep as Jimin licks into his mouth, swallowing a muted moan as he wraps his arms around his pretty, pretty dancer.

(They manage to stave off sleep, just a little bit longer.

Just enough for Jimin to nod off with a smile curving the bow of his lips; just enough for the younger's face to be the last thing Yoongi sees before he succumbs to the black, at peace for the first time in another's arms since the war.)

 

 

14.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

"Doll."

"No…"

"Doll," Yoongi murmurs again, cracking an eye open and sighing at the sunlight painting the walls of the attic. When Jimin still refuses to stir, he can't help the fond rumble of laughter scratching its way up his throat. "Baby, I have to go— Just wanted to say I'll come by later, after I'm done with everything I have to get done."

"Uhnff," Jimin huffs, equal parts upset and sleep deprived. He wrinkles his nose when he turns in his sleep, clearly uncomfortable without Yoongi's warmth against his back. "No, it's cold and early, come back…"

"I wish I could stay, but Nams is coming down today." Apologetically, Yoongi drops a kiss on Jimin's exposed shoulder, the nightie that he'd changed into having slipped in the course of the night. Damn it, he's so beautiful, even though he's only half a step into the land of the living. "He'll only be in London till dusk; Jin will have my fucking balls if I'm not home by the time he comes around."

"Then let 'im have them…"

"No, I need them," Yoongi snorts, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he sits up. Sluggishly, he swings his feet off the edge of the bed and onto the ground. It's late enough in the morning to get a car to take him back to Seokjin's manor, surely? "You don't have to get up," he soothes the dancer, who whines and burrows under the sheets. "I'll let myself out."

"You don't have a key to the lounge," Jimin mumbles, which happens to be an extremely good point. Rolling over onto his tummy, he buries his face in Yoongi's pillow and sighs in resignation. "I'll see you out… Just 5 more minutes…"

5 more minutes sees Yoongi shrugging on his jacket, a huge yawn making him bare his teeth at himself in Jimin's mirror. He pulls on his cap before he starts patting his pockets down; wallet, keys— It's all there. "Doll," he calls over his shoulder, frowning at the bags under his eyes. He feels rested, though; far more rested than he usually is after a short night of sleep. "Come on, now. I'm sorry to trouble you, but at least you can do back to bed after."

"Nnnh."

"Baby, I need to go."

Huffing in mock annoyance, Jimin sits up. His bedhead is terribly impressive and endearing at the same time, and Yoongi's eyes soften on his sleepy pout. "I should give you keys…"

"I don't imagine the owner of the lounge will be too happy with that."

"He doesn't have to know what won't hurt him," Jimin slurs, words muffled through a massive yawn. Pulling a sheet around him, he gets out of bed and staggers towards Yoongi with his arms outstretched. "Hug…"

"Hug," Yoongi allows with a chuckle, putting his arms around the younger. Fuck, he's so adorable.

"Carry me."

"Don't push it; I'm just as tired as you," Yoongi warns indignantly, even as he dips to allow Jimin to climb on his back. Christ, the dancer really does have him wrapped around his finger, and they haven't even been together a day. "Hand to god, you're spoiled rotten."



London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"How were the toffee bars?"

Namjoon blinks, his hand stilling over a dotted line mid-signature. "I'm sorry?"

"The toffee bars," Yoongi repeats himself, brows furrowed as he vets yet another painfully boring contract, eyes skimming the lines through the glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. "The ones Seok and Tae brought back with them?" If those fuckwits had eaten the lot on the way home, he was going to commit cold-blooded murder.

"Ah, those."

'Good,' Yoongi thinks. No cold-blooded murder then.

"They were very good; the toffee had just the right sweetness, which you know I'm particular about." Returning his attention to his papers, Namjoon finishes off his work with a particularly thick blot of ink at the end of his name. "Hoseok tells me they were made by the man you've become enamored with, alongside Taehyung."

"He has a name, Nams."

"You haven't told me what it is."

Fair enough. "Park Jimin," Yoongi drawls, humoring his brother even though he knows full well that there's no way Hoseok and Taehyung hadn't opened their big mouths to Namjoon. Without missing a beat, he sticks his tongue out in concentration as he smoothens out a dog-eared page. "As of last night, we're seeing each other."

"Haven't you already been doing that?" Namjoon asks, unfazed. Leaning back in his chair with a sigh, he cracks his neck and reaches for his cup of tea. "Seokjin tells me that you've been heading to the lounge several times in the past few weeks, which is highly unusual. I know for a fact that you dislike crowds and loud music—"

"We're seeing each other," Yoongi cuts in to clarify, annoyed by the next fucking page that won't fucking seem to separate from the one after, "exclusively."

Namjoon chokes on his tea, coughing.

Unimpressed and pretty disgusted, Yoongi reaches for a clean napkin from the center of the table and tosses it at his younger brother— Somehow, Namjoon never fails to make it through a meal without dirtying his clothes, but the tea's green, and it makes for an especially sickly stain down the entire front of his shirt. "Jesus, you're a fucking disaster wherever you go."

"You just railroaded me; have some sympathy," Namjoon scowls, glaring down at his ruined clothes and then at Yoongi. The elder feels like the term 'railroaded's a bit of a stretch— That is, till his younger brother folds his arms on the table, pointedly ignoring the fact that his tattoo is clearly visible through his shirt, and goes, "I don't think you've seen anyone exclusively in at least a decade— In fact, I'm convinced you weren't serious about that girl back then, either."

And Yoongi would argue that, but he turns back the wheels of time in his head and realizes that shit, Namjoon's actually right. He's never been against the idea of commitment, but there just hasn't been anyone he's wanted to… Commit to. Case in point, his last relationship had mostly revolved around the fact that the girl he'd been seeing had lived across the street. "We had a good run," he mumbles defensively nonetheless, feeling awkward under the watchful gaze of the true head of their family of misfits. "We broke it off mutually like adults and everything, right before you, Seok and I were conscripted."

"But you weren't in love."

"No," Yoongi admits, trying for passive even as his mind's going a mile a minute, "but she gave decent head."

"You can't prioritize your carnal needs over emotional availability forever, Yoongi." Longsuffering and disappointed – but not surprised – Namjoon levels his elder brother with a steely look. "That's a fairly miserable checklist."

"Pick up your fucking pen already; you're here to sign papers, not rag on me like it's a fucking sport," Yoongi deflects, scowling. He waits for Namjoon to shake his head with a resigned sigh – which he does, because his younger brother is nothing if not predictable in his behavioral patterns – before smirking. "… And even if it is miserable, I'll have you know that Jimin passes that point on the checklist, too."

"If you're attempting to goad me into discontinuing this conversation, it won't work," Namjoon warns, even as he grimaces with discomfort at his newfound knowledge that Jimin apparently possesses above average blowjob skills. "I've been firmly instructed by both Hoseok and Taehyung to pressure you for an update on the budding relationship between you and Jimin, and I am far more afraid of them than I am of you."

"What the fuck?" Yoongi asks, feeling insulted as hell. He's way scarier than Taehyung and Hoseok, that's fucking bullshit. "Why?"

"Taehyung has been fixing everything that I've broken while you’ve been here in London, and Hoseok still cooks both lunch and dinner for me, every single day," Namjoon deadpans, cocking his head at Yoongi in a way that suggests he thinks the elder is being very, very foolish. "They are literally ensuring I have a table, and then putting food on said table; I have self-preservation instincts."

And Yoongi really wants to dispute that logic, but, you know. Namjoon's not wrong.

"So, I now know that you're pursuing this man with far more effort than you've displayed towards anyone else in recent years," Namjoon starts, tone bordering on amused as he turns back to the papers he'd been perusing. "It's a start— Hopefully, it'll be enough to placate Taehyung and Hoseok. Anything else you want me to take home to the boys?"

"If I punch you in the face, would you relay that?" Yoongi asks hopefully, only half joking. "I'd do it twice, too— One for each of those fuckwits."

"I've said it before and I'll say it again; violence is prohibited within the family, no matter how it may sometimes appear to be well-deserved."

"It's indisputably well-deserved."

"Self-restraint is a virtue." Calmly, Namjoon turns the page after initialing the bottom right corner. Lifting his eyes to Yoongi's, he raises an accompanying brow. "You know, as excitable and loud and nosy as they tend to be, they're just glad for you. I hope you'll be less resentful; all they want is to know that you're happy, and to share in that happiness."

Ugh, fuck. "I know," the elder grouses, feeling his annoyance wane irritatingly quick. Fuck Namjoon and his bullshit mind games; he's so damn good at sussing people out, and he plays Yoongi like a fucking instrument every single time. "Jesus, you're such a fucking sap."

"I love you too, Yoongi."

"Die in a fire, Nams."

The younger chuckles quietly, eyes half-lidded as he writes in the margin next to a paragraph, underlining a clause that needs to be tweaked. Eventually, he sets his pen down, leans back, and closes his eyes for a spell.

Just like that, it's blissfully silent between them for a few minutes. And Yoongi would enjoy it, but he knows Namjoon well enough to know that he's caught up in that big head of his— That his clever, astute younger brother is about to drop a bomb so profoundly… Something, that Yoongi will feel it right at his core, possibly for a very long time.

Soon enough, it comes.

"With the way things are looking on paper, we have a good chance of seeing results very soon— It'll take a month, tops." Across from Yoongi, Namjoon is stubbornly refusing to meet his gaze, eyes burning holes into the surface of the table. His knuckles are white even though he isn't gripping anything; it's as though he's been clenching and unclenching his fists beneath the table, trying to work up the nerve to say what he's saying, and mean it. "Seokjin intends to move against Solomon in a fortnight, if all goes well."

"I know."

"We… We can't afford to lose you in Birmingham, Yoongi. I hope you know that."

And Yoongi knows that what Namjoon really means is, 'no matter how things turn out, you can't stay here with Jimin.'

('I've only had him for one day,' Yoongi wants to say, brows furrowed. He wants to be angry, wants to purposefully misunderstand Namjoon and misconstrue his words for once— Twist his maturity against him in a fit of selfishness, even though he knows that isn't fair, because this doesn't feel very fair, either. 'Only a day, Nams. Can't I have one day?')

"I know," he repeats himself instead, because he does. He's known that from the start.

Namjoon takes in a deep breath, lowering his head and pinching the bridge of his nose. When he next lifts his head, there's a painfully hollow smile curving his lips; it doesn't reach his eyes. "I'm happy for you," he says sadly, trying so hard Yoongi feels it like a punch to the fucking throat. "I really am."

And the really sad thing is that Yoongi believes him.

 

 

17.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

The next few days of Yoongi's life follow a fairly stable pattern; he wakes up, does whatever the fuck Seokjin tells him he needs to do on pain of death, and goes to the lounge as soon as he's managed to escape the house. Jimin's typically up by noon, and they spend time lazing around and talking through the brightest, most offensive hours of the day with the blinds down.

It's… Nice. Yoongi definitely has no fucking idea what he's doing, but Jimin is nice, and their time together is nice, and everything is just really… Nice.

"I mean, I would hope so," Jimin says from his dresser, startling Yoongi. He hadn't even realized he'd been speaking out loud, but he supposed he must have blurted some approximation of, 'this is nice.' "It would be a little sad if you were here with me and wanted to be elsewhere… Also, very tasteless."

"You're getting cocky," Yoongi observes mildly. He isn't put off by it; not in the least, not at all. It's nearing 9 at night and the dancer's getting ready for the floor; between the sweet skirt that sways against the swell of his thighs and the kohl he's lining his eyes with, the elder doesn't see any reason for Jimin to be anything but confident in the way he looks. "Not that I'm shocked or anything, all things considered."

"Rude."

"Just stating facts."

"Be nicer to me! We've only been seeing each other for a few days; I don't deserve this ribbing from you just yet," Jimin teases, grinning over his shoulder. His cheeks are dusted with pale rose, and his lips are shiny with a clear layer of gloss. Resting his stick of kohl on the dresser, he turns to Yoongi and pats down his dress, bouncing on the balls of his feet with excitement. "Well? What do you think?"

Fuck, he's gorgeous. Getting to his feet, Yoongi ambles over and cocks his head, pretending he's giving Jimin a comprehensive onceover. They haven't really done anything beyond making out and spooning, but… "Have you ever heard of the phrase," he mumbles, pressing his lips to the strap of the dancer's dress and hooking his finger under the band of it, "less is more?"

"Don’t; I have to be down there in less than 15," Jimin whines, huffing and pouting petulantly even though the elder can see his mouth is wobbly around a smile. It makes one curve his own lips, and he wonders if it's really alright with the dancer that they're doing this— That he's giving a part of himself to Yoongi, even when they're on an unmarked deadline. He hopes so. "You're going to make me late."

"Over the course of the past 3 days, I've come to the conclusion you like being late."

"Only for the sake of being fashionable, not waylaid."

"Now you're just grasping at semantics." Chuckling, Yoongi brushes Jimin's fringe aside, dropping a kiss onto his forehead before picking up a pair of earrings laid out on the younger's dresser. "You know, I never thought I'd see the day, but Jin's beginning to sulk," he adds conversationally, steering them onto his latest, most pleasant discovery as he gently adorns Jimin's ear with a dangling disc of white gold. "Seems like the dumbass gets lonely at night, now that I'm not around for him to bother."

"Don't be that way; I know you think of him as one of your best friends." Giggling, Jimin turns his head once Yoongi's done with his left ear, offering him his right. "Why are you always so awful to him? You were mean to Taehyung and Hoseok too, when they came to visit you."

"You are absolutely not allowed to defend them," Yoongi deadpans distractedly, focusing hard on not hurting Jimin. He's done this a couple of times for the younger over the past few days, but he's still irrationally concerned that he'll stab a new hole in the dancer's ear. "They're fucking heathens, and they make my life miserable. The only time their names are allowed to leave your mouth is when you're commiserating with my suffering."

"Now who's being overdramatic?"

"Just this afternoon, you told me you wanted to perish because you had to fold your clothes."

"And you helped me fold half of them; I was overdramatic for a cause, and I reaped the benefits," Jimin points out with a smug grin, tapping Yoongi's nose. The elder scowls without heat, hating that he doesn't have a snappy comeback off the top of his head. "Meanwhile, you're being overdramatic for no reason."

"I've given you at least a hundred good reasons Taehyung and Hoseok make my life a living hell," Yoongi grumbles, snatching up the necklace that matches Jimin's earrings. Annoyed, he clumsily unclasps the damn thing and waits for the dancer to turn around. "Fuck, get me piss wasted and I could still give you at least 50."

"Well, I like them; I'd appreciate not having my mind changed just because you can't appreciate having friends and family that love you to an adorably, embarrassing degree."

"I'd dance on all their fucking graves in a heartbeat."

"You don't mean that," Jimin smiles softly, shooting Yoongi a knowing glance before his head lolls forward.

And no, Yoongi really doesn't. He's glad that the dancer gets his fucked up sense of humor; that he isn't questioned, that he isn't given a conflicted gaze that may as well scream something along the lines of, 'weren't you in the war? Aren't they your family? How can you joke about something like that? What is wrong with you?'

Yoongi jokes about death because death itself had denied him under the fields of Verdun. Yoongi talks shit about his family because his father had fucked off, and his mother had spent most of her time fucking strangers for her next dose of Tokyo instead of taking care of her own son. In keeping with the pattern, Yoongi talks about love like it's a chore, because he's never known what it is, but it doesn't seem like the sort of thing that'll treat him kindly.

(Truthfully, he's just fucking terrified of it. Of wanting it, of having it, of… It, in general.

Doesn't change the fact that he still wants it, though. Love.

He'd taken a leap with Jimin. It's something, isn't it? It's a start.)

"Yoongi?"

Right, his fingers are still on the clasps. Letting go, Yoongi takes a step back. "Yeah, doll." He has no fucking idea what he's doing. "Sorry."

"Don't think so much, you'll get wrinkles right here," Jimin teases, poking the spot between Yoongi's eyes. The elder frowns, making it as exaggerated as possible to pull a giggle from the dancer's lips. "You don't have to prove me right."

"Because you're always right?"

"You're learning," Jimin observes, winking at the elder. "Is Seokjin expecting you back at the house tonight?"

"No, even though he'll sulk, and then pretend he hasn't been sulking when I head back tomorrow morning." Cracking his neck with a muted groan, Yoongi turns on his heel to sit on the edge of Jimin's bed. "I'll stay here and wait till you're done— Nap a little if I can, or something." It's a cool night and the window's cracked open; he'll probably pass out the second he's alone without a problem.

"You're always so sleepy," Jimin sighs, looking in the mirror one last time and checking that his lips are glossed to his satisfaction. Once he's sure he looks perfect – to which Yoongi heartily agrees – he glances over at the elder with a warm smile. "I'll see you later, then?"

"Mm." Holding out both his arms in invitation, Yoongi yawns.

Jimin steps between his knees wordlessly, allowing the elder to hug him. "Come down if you feel bored," he adds sweetly, dipping at the waist to brush his lips against Yoongi's hairline. "There isn't much I have up here by way of entertainment."

"You know I don't like the crowd… But I'll come watch you dance for a little, maybe." Tipping his head back, Yoongi closes his eyes and chuckles when he gets a kiss on the lips. "I won't keep you any longer. Get down there and rob all those fuckers blind, baby."

"Oh, I will," Jimin laughs, taking the joke in stride. He gives Yoongi two last pecks – one each, on the apples of his cheeks – before he grabs a shawl he'll probably lose to the madness of the floor during swing hour. Waving at the door, he winks. "One day, I'll rob you blind, too!"

Yoongi hears the door click shut and grunts, tipping himself back onto Jimin's soft mattress. Staring up at the ceiling, he turns over every material asset he has in his head— It's not a lot; not with the way he, Namjoon, Hoseok and Taehyung pool everything they have, take as little as they can, and redistribute the rest amongst the poorest people in Small Heath.

After a beat, he ends up wondering if Jimin would even consider him worth robbing, were he to know Yoongi has next to nothing to his name… That is, save for a humble whiskey collection and a shitty apartment that Taehyung breaks into on the regular. Then he thinks about the fact that he may not have much, but money means jack shit to him— Ever since he'd started thinking of Namjoon and Hoseok as his brothers, he's always been pretty willing to share.

He wonders if consensual robbery constitutes as robbery— If consensual robbery's even a thing.

(It's a weird train of thought. Luckily, Yoongi drifts off to sleep before he gets too caught up in the winding rails of it.)

 

 

21.04.1919
London, Camden Town, The Solomons Bakery

Today, things are a little more complex.

Noon sees Yoongi's running an inspection of the 'bakery'. He has a meeting with Solomons at 4 to discuss where they are on their numbers; it won't be the first time he's been asked to scrutinize shit around the 'bakery,' but it'll be the first time Seokjin isn't here to act as a buffer between him and the fucking lunatic running this shitshow.

He's already fucking exhausted by the idea.

A man named Caleb Marlowe, who's managed to inch his way into Solomons' good graces by not being a fucking dumbass, is presently one of 4 'head bakers' in charge of the 'bakery.' He used to work the kiln back in Small Heath, but he'd snatched up the opportunity to work in London for more money, even if it'd meant he'd be away from his growing family.

Seokjin had done his due diligence a couple of weeks ago – which essentially means the guy's been paid off – so it's safe for Yoongi to talk to him without filtering his words.

(Most importantly, he's allowed to openly bitch about Alfie fucking Solomons as much as he likes to someone other than Seokjin.)

"We've been pushing product to Germany since before I got here— First shipment of the new bread to China's underway." Caleb doesn't seem to give much of a fuck about the business; all he knows is that he's getting paid good coin to roll on Solomons, giving away privileged information. Yoongi likes him; the guy's responsible, and he doesn't overcomplicate shit if he can help it. "No problems so far. Alfie's hard on the boys, but he hasn't killed anyone yet… Ollie can't hear out his left ear no more, though."

Oliver Hughes? Yoongi folds his arms, praying for patience. "The fuck did that asshole do to the kid?"

"Clocked him sideways with a vanga."

What the fuck? He almost doesn't want to know, but it's literally his job to ask, isn't it? "Fucking why?"

"You remember what Alfie says about us lot staying away from Jewish women. He caught a Jewish girl chatting Ollie up— You know, the one from the flower shop."

No, Yoongi doesn't know the girl from the fucking flower shop, but he supposes that isn't very important. "Hughes didn’t start even start it though, did he?" He scoffs in disgust, wondering if all of their guys are going to make it through this deal in one piece. Namjoon's not going to be happy about this— Hoseok's going to make that sad face that he can't stand, too. "Solomons paralyzed him just because a girl asked him out?"

"Jewish girl," Caleb emphasizes again, "and she never got that far, did she?" Spitting sideways, he rakes a hand through his hair. "Guy's half deaf, and he didn't even get himself a woman for his troubles; crying shame."

Just because she was Jewish? Fucking hell, Yoongi can't wait to cut Alfie Solomons out of their business once and for all— What an asshole. "Has Hughes seen a fucking doctor, at least?"

"Yeah," Caleb grunts, nodding to his left. Down the corridor, Yoongi sees the boy in question rolling a barrel across the stretch of the bakery, brows furrowed in concentration. "Guy took himself, after work. Downed his pills and took it like a champ; blood on his pillow and sheets for days and days, but he never complained."

There's a lot of anger Yoongi has to tamp down. "Anything else?" He asks, barely keeping the fury out of his voice as he turns to Caleb. "Solomons never told us about the shipment to Asia— You're sure we've got product on the way to China?"

"I don't get paid to lie to you, do I?"

It's excellent news. It means that they've already managed to gain access to a new market— It also means that removing Solomons from the equation isn't in the distant future anymore. Regardless of the preexisting contracts they have, replacing that psychopath with a level-headed man like Seokjin will please any business partner with their head screwed on right, anyway. "Good work," Yoongi says quietly, clamping a hand on Caleb's shoulder and squeezing. "I'll ask Seok or Tae to drop by yours later; get them to bring your wife and kids a fucking duck or some shit."

(Taehyung's weirdly good at catching ducks. He's less adept at roasting them, so Yoongi hopes Caleb's wife knows her way around her poultry.)

Caleb doesn't smile, but his eyes soften. "The boys like Taehyung," he murmurs, glancing sideways at Yoongi. What he's saying sounds a lot like, 'thank you,' in his own introverted way. "Says he's got magic hands… He teaches them things while my wife's busy with the baby."

"You know, you should probably be a lot more alarmed by that than you are," Yoongi jokes mildly with a snort, plucking his pack of cigarettes from his pocket. Lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, he thinks about how children are naturally endeared to Taehyung; it's a bit of a superpower, probably. "He's fucking mad; this time tomorrow, your family may be down a house."

Shrugging, Caleb crosses his arms and eyes the other men in the 'bakery' with subdued mirth. "My wife's been nagging me about moving anyway."

Yoongi's about to respond when a boy – really, a boy; the little fucker can't be over 15 – comes running up to them, red-faced with exertion and panting.

"Mr. Solomons," he wheezes, "is stuck up north… Won't be back in time… For the meeting…"

Damn. "That right?" Yoongi asks, feelingly a little irritated; if that asshole pushes the meeting, it means that he won't see Jimin till after he's done with his shift at the lounge. "How long before he's back?"

"No, no— He says that he'll see you another day, with Mr. Kim… That he'll call, to reschedule."

Oh, it's actually more good news? This day keeps getting better for Yoongi. "Fine," he tells the boy with a curt nod, cocking his head and trying to hide how pleased he is with this new development. It's better to try looking annoyed, which he's been told he pulls off pretty well. "Thanks for telling me— I'll relay that to Jin."

"Yes, sir!"

Grimacing, Yoongi watches him run off.

Beside him, Caleb snorts and adjusts the shitty apron he has to keep on while he's 'baking'. "He's just a kid. Hide your disgust a little better."

"Formalities aren't my thing." Truth be told, Yoongi hates that people still look at him with eyes that worry he's going to tear them a new asshole. It's beneficial for his place in the Blinders, so he doesn't refute that notion, but it doesn't mean he has to like it. Turning to Caleb, he lifts an eyebrow. "If there's nothing else, I'm off; got places to be."

"Heading back?" Caleb mumbles, an amused quirk to his lips as he discreetly pulls an envelope from the inner pocket of his apron. Handing it over to Yoongi, he snickers. "Or are you meeting up with someone who doesn't call you 'sir'?"

"The latter, not that it's any of your fucking business," Yoongi deadpans without heat, snatching the envelope from Caleb. He slides it under the strap of his suspenders, folding his blazer over the papers. He'd ask what they are, but he's sure the informant would've said something in favor of a jibe if he felt he needed to… Or could, without fear of being overheard. "Tread wisely, Marlowe. You're on our payroll because you've got no interest in making other people's shit your shit; Let's not find out what'll happen if that changes."

"You got it, boss," Caleb says as he turns to leave, just to earn himself a disgruntled scowl from Yoongi as he laughs and laughs and laughs.

 

 

23.04.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"Things seem to be going well for you and that dancer."

"I don't know why I have to keep saying it, but the guy has a name," Yoongi grouses, arms folded as he leans on the doorframe of Seokjin's office. "Park Jimin— In the first place, you're the one who fucking introduced us. Why are you being so damn annoying about this?"

"You're out all night; if I tell you there isn't anything for you to do, you stay at the lounge throughout the day— What a dedicated man," Seokjin hedges in singsong, adjusting his reading glasses on the bridge of his nose. Lifting his head, he smiles at Yoongi. "Aren't you neglecting your childhood friend a little too much? I'm going to feel lonely."

"Keep it up and you'll die alone, too."

"No need to be harsh."

"There's also no need for you to be a bitch about Jimin and I, but here we are," Yoongi points out tonelessly, even though his words have no bite to them. Absently, he wonders if Seokjin's seeing anyone; if he is, he's been pretty secretive about it. "Quit raining on my long-awaited parade, you shithead. If you're so goddamn lonely in here, go out and get yourself laid."

"Don't be vulgar, Yoongi."

"But I'm so fucking good at it." Crossing the room, Yoongi sinks into the armchair across from the elder. "You lash out about stupid shit when you're bogged down by something," he points out acutely, making Seokjin's hand still over the papers— That's not great, because it means he's right on the money. "Shit. The fuck's gone wrong now?"

As expected, Seokjin takes a while to respond; Yoongi can practically see the cogs turning in his head. "Those papers you got for me from Caleb?" He reminds Yoongi eventually, leaning back in his seat and removing his spectacles. "I had a look at them that night."

Yoongi waits for more, but it seems Seokjin's being extra cryptic and irritating today. "And?" He prompts impatiently, scowling. "What the fuck did they say?"

"They didn't say anything specifically," the elder murmurs under his breath, setting his glasses on the table and leveling Yoongi with a meaningful stare, "save for the fact that if the meeting tomorrow goes well, you're not going to be in London for much longer."

('Oh,' Yoongi thinks.)

"Well, I'm sure Namjoon mentioned it to you in some capacity while he was here," Seokjin plays off the tension dismissively, because that's what he does best. Yoongi's grateful instead of annoyed; the elder really knows how to read the mood, and he can tell that his friend's just trying to be considerate. "Since you already know that you'll have to leave at some point, I won't go any further than telling you to keep it in mind."

There isn't really much he can say to that. "Mm," Yoongi chooses to hum, absently frowning at his knees. "Yeah."

Seokjin's quiet for a beat before he cocks his head. "You've told Jimin about this, I assume?" He prods carefully, brows drawn together with subdued disapproval that'll deepen if he doesn't hear what he wants to hear. "He knows you're not a Londoner and that you're a Blinder from up north… No matter how far removed you are from your emotions, you can't possibly have managed to hedge talking about that."

"He fucking knows— We both fucking know," Yoongi scowls, glaring sideways at the elder. "You don't have to be a dick about it."

"Either way," Seokjin interjects, not paying the younger's complaints any mind, "how soon we manage to tie up your stay here depends on how well we manage to draw Mr. Braun into our game plan." Turning to lift an eyebrow, he cocks his head— It's all business now; they've maxed out their time on talking about feelings and Yoongi cannot be any more grateful for that than he is. "He wants to meet at the lounge at midnight; I hope you're prepared."

"Yeah, whatever. Why the lounge, anyway?"

"It's his suggestion, Yoongi, not mine. Perhaps he's been there before."

"This little guy will help us push Solomons out of the picture?" Yoongi scoffs derisively, nabbing a page near the bottom of the pile in Seokjin's folder. Laying it flat on the table, he irons out the paper with the flat on his hand and squints at the picture presented to him. "Nikolas Braun… How do we know he isn't going to turn on us?"

"We don't," Seokjin points out, frowning at Yoongi for callously touching his documents, "but we do know that he's tired of being under Mr. Sabini's thumb." Shrugging, the elder leans back in his seat and relaxes, closing his eyes. "Mr. Solomons is a rival to the Sabini family, but we aren't— At least, not yet. If we offer Mr. Braun an opportunity to work on equal footing with us while simultaneously setting him free of both the biggest syndicates in London, it offers him a leg up where status and profit is concerned."

"Is all of this conniving shit coming from you?" Yoongi asks, pinching the page between his fingers and waving it in front of Seokjin's face. "Because I smell Nams all over this fucking plan."

"It was a joint effort; we've been talking about taking this path for weeks," Seokjin concedes, unfazed as he snatches Braun's profile back from the younger. Carefully, he slots it back into the pile from where Yoongi had nicked it. "Mr. Braun is a large proprietor of land on Mr. Sabini's payroll. As it stands, he has sufficient property for us to comfortably run our operations— Enough of it that Mr. Solomons and his bakery will become redundant."

"But we've already taken that psycho's warehouses in Camden Town," Yoongi narrows his eyes, confused. "That's why we bribed the Chief Commissioner, isn't it?"

"We own the warehouses on paper, but we don't own Camden Town in personnel. Many people are still loyal to Mr. Solomons— Out of fear, if nothing else." Folding his arms on the table, Seokjin leans forward to stare at Yoongi. "Once we've established an agreement between us and Mr. Braun, we'll need to subtly withdraw our men from Mr. Solomons' bakery. Leaving them there will expose them to his wrath, should he find out that we've turned to doing business with Mr. Braun under his nose."

"And Nams doesn't like collateral damage," Yoongi concludes drily under his breath, biting down on the nail of his thumb. Irritated, he remembers Oliver Hughes and the way he'd suffered under Solomons' brutality… He'll have to meet up with Caleb again to hash out some kind of evacuation cue, should worse come to worst. "Yeah, I know. I'll think of something."

Sighing heavily, Seokjin cracks his neck. "Tomorrow really needs to go well," he says gently, managing to offer the younger a tired smile. "Mr. Solomons decided to reschedule our missed meeting on the same night, so I'll be meeting him at the bakery… Since you'll be meeting Mr. Braun alone, I'll be counting on you to make it work, Yoongi."

And exactly what else can Yoongi say to that, really? "Yeah," he murmurs, even though his nerves are on edge. Seokjin's always been better at the whole political handholding thing than he is, but what choice does he have? If everything's hinging on this – if this is what he has to do to go home to his family, to help Nams and the Blinders – then all Yoongi can really say by way of response has to be:

"Alright. You can count on me, Jin."

 

 

24.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

(Except apparently, no one can fucking count on Yoongi.)

He'd been having such a good day, too. Jimin had gone out early in the morning to get a whole chicken; by the time Yoongi had rolled around at noon for a nap with his favorite dancer, they had a great roast to pick at while talking. They'd ended up lazing in bed all through the day, comfortable and quiet before Jimin had to get ready for his shift at the lounge.

Be that as it may, work was work was work. Yoongi had managed to snatch some sleep during swing hour, and midnight had found him begrudgingly waiting on the floor to meet Mr. Braun.

Who, as it turns out, is far less of a psycho than Solomons, but as much of a fucking asshole.

Therein laid the problem, really. They hadn't had much trouble hashing out business; Seokjin's advice – 'stick to the topic at hand; he tends to get longwinded if he drinks, so make sure anything that's worth saying is said before he has a drop' – had proved useful. However, now that they were effectively done and a handshake agreement had been established between them, Yoongi had no reason to keep Mr. Braun from having his fix of booze.

He'd been warned it'd make the shithead longwinded. He hadn't realized it'd make the shithead fucking handsy.

To his credit, Jimin's putting up with it… Albeit with an uneasy smile. He'd come to the table for Yoongi, but he'd been accosted by Mr. Braun at the earliest opportunity with fleeting touches and a hand on his waist. As it stands, the dancer's currently attempting to inch towards Yoongi's side of the table without offending the man— A mission he's had little to no success with as of yet.

(It's a fucking ordeal not to do anything about it. Yoongi's counting to 10 and counting it back— It's the 8th time he's done it, and he has to admit he doesn't think it's helping very much.)

"Pretty one like you caught my eye the second I walked in, all those months ago," Braun slurs through a drunken grin, eyes half-lidded and droopy. His cheeks are rosy with liquor, and his pupils are dilated— Yoongi wonders if he can get away with punching the fucker at the end of the night, if he blacks out. "Kept coming back for you— S'first time you came up to me though, darlin'."

"I'm terribly sorry," Jimin says sweetly, resting a hand on Braun's, who's clamped his palm over the dancer's wrist. Keeping eye contact, he gently pats the asshole's knuckles twice before he makes smooth work of prying the man's fingers off and taking a tiny step back. "I'm thankful that you chose to come back to the Ophel; had I known you were such a big fan, I would have danced with you earlier."

"Not for me?" Braun leers, before blinking at Yoongi, who slams his empty glass down on the table hard enough for the base to chip. "S'matter, mate? Want another?"

"No," Yoongi manages through grit teeth, praying to a god he doesn't believe in for some motherfucking patience, "thank you."

"Come off it; this one'll take care of us, eh?" Snickering in his seat, Braun takes Jimin by the arm and drags him closer, startling the dancer as he falls against the elder's shoulder with a small squeak. Lifting his free hand, he points at Jimin with a callous laugh. "He'll get us more booze, man, just say the word."

Jimin swallows thickly, eyes wide with alarm and uncertainty. "I—"

"He's a dancer, not a server," Yoongi points out with narrowed eyes, hoping he comes off less murderous than he feels. 'We need him alive,' he tells himself desperately, trying to hold his fucking temper even as his fingers itch for Braun's throat. 'We need him alive, we need him alive, we need him alive—' "— Speaking of which, there are probably other customers he has to attend to before his shift ends, Mr. Braun. Perhaps we should let him see to his duties."

"He has go kiss his other fans later. We paid good money to be here just like everyone else, didn't we?" Braun scoffs, categorically incapable of taking a fucking hint. Yoongi wants to fucking kill him, and the idiot's pressing his cheek up against the curve of Jimin's waist— Fucker really does have a death wish. "Besides," he has the audacity to add, licking his lips meaningfully, "I don't know what it's like up on the Gypsy's Lot, but down here in good old London, pleasure always comes after business."

Clench his fists any harder and Yoongi's going to put permanent crescents in his palms. "Mr. Braun," he says, very slowly, ignoring the way Jimin is sending him an urgent look, "It would probably be in your best interests to stop—"

"Besides, look at how the boy's dressed," Braun continues, because he doesn't have a working sense of self-preservation or a moral compass. Placing his hand on the back of Jimin's thigh – and steadily moving it higher – he leers up at the dancer with a sickening smirk. "I'd much prefer a woman myself, but in a pretty dress like this? He's basically asking for it—"

Yoongi doesn't really recall doing anything. All he knows is that one moment, he's seeing the hem of Jimin's dress drag high enough to expose his garter— In the next, he's jamming the blade of his muskrat deep into the oak of the table, the loud thud of it reverberating through the lounge.

Braun finally – fucking finally – freezes. Shuts up, too, which is definitely nice as far as developments go.

Shit. He'd been instructed to be diplomatic, hadn't he? This isn't diplomatic by any stretch of the word; Seokjin is going to suffocate Yoongi in his fucking sleep. Then again, he also doesn't really want to do business with a lowlife— It's only been a couple of hours, and he's already seen enough of Braun for a lifetime. He's rarely – if ever – disputed Namjoon's calls on Blinder business. Surely he gets some leeway, right? Of all the people in London they could be partnering, does it really have to be this handsy motherfucker?

Trembling a little, Jimin takes a hesitant step away from Braun and towards Yoongi. He's anxious; it's clear in the set of his shoulders, the way he's slightly hunched into himself like a frightened, cornered animal.

Staring at him, Yoongi toys with the hilt of his muskrat and wonders.

('Do we really need Braun?')

"Hey now, what was that all about?" Braun laughs nervously, lifting up his hands where Yoongi can see them. There's a light sheen of sweat on his forehead; and no, it isn't just from the light. People around their table are murmuring, making a poor show of pretending they aren't bursting at the seams with curiosity. "Mr. Min, it was just a joke. No need to get so riled up; if you want the boy, you can have him—"

"Does he look like a prostitute to you?" Yoongi asks flatly, getting out of his seat. If he were the bigger man here, he'd have let Braun's behavior slide with a stern warning; unluckily for the jackass, he doesn't personally subscribe to the doctrine of turning away from confrontation, even if it's in his favor to do so. Right, he's made an executive decision— Namjoon and Seokjin are just going to have to deal with it; he'll endure whatever bitching he has to in good grace for his actions, too. "Even if he were a sex worker, he's a human being."

"Mr. Min—"

"My mother was a whore, too." Wrapping his fingers around the hilt of his muskrat, Yoongi yanks the blade out the table and palms the weapon with expert ease. Stepping between Jimin and Braun, he narrows his eyes at the asshole. "And as far as mothers go, she wasn't worth jack shit, but I've grown up watching scum like you take liberties with our women up north." Drawing up close and personal, he sneers and presses the flat of his knife against the column of Braun's neck. "I wouldn't have known any better, but you can bet that with brothers like mine, I've been liberally educated on what it means to respect others."

Braun pales, sputtering as he pulls back as far as possible from Yoongi, his head hitting the raised banister behind their table. He's weak, is what it is; comfortable and complacent and near catatonic with his old money— So much so that he's never bothered to take a walk in someone else's shoes, so much so that he's never even entertained the idea.

This is why Yoongi hates rich people; by extension, it's why he hates London. The city's a cesspool of fuckwits like Braun, and he doesn't like the fact that they're even breathing the same fucking air. "Who do you think you are, exactly?" He asks tonelessly, disgusted. "You're just as much a pig as the last man who touched my mother without permission."

The faint stench of urine pricks at Yoongi's nose. He doesn't even have to look down to confirm that Braun's pissed himself; everyone in their vicinity must know— Just as everyone should. It's what the shithead deserves.

"I killed that man, Braun, and I was 6— Well. It'd been a few days shy of my birthday, but I was 6 that year; you get the idea." Angling his knife towards skin, Yoongi eyes the red line that forms at the slightest touch of his blade, blood beading along the run of it. Braun's near hysterics now, choking around words that won't come, his eyes swimming with panic, fear and tears. "You're rude, disrespectful and callous. You're a pervert, and you can't seem to keep your fucking hands to yourself, even if your life depended on it."

Pitchy whines of, "please," and, "stop," spill from Braun's throat, and it makes Yoongi see red.

(Exactly how many people have said those exact words, in that exact tone, to Braun, only to be refused?

How many people more?)

'Jimin,' Yoongi thinks, and it's enough for him to sheathe his muskrat. He straightens up instead, a collected sort of bloodlust pooling at the tips of his fingers and infecting every part of him. He reaches up for his cap, pinching the brim of it and dragging a practiced finger along the blade of the razor sewn into the seam. God, he's tired of the world. His shoulder aches; he wants to stop being so angry. "Did you think you'd get away with it forever?" He asks Braun, raising his arm to swing it down in a wide arc— Making a statement the best way he knows how.

(He's a Peaky Blinder through and through, after all.)

"Did you think I'd let you?"

"Yoongi, stop!"

Eyes widening, Yoongi freezes with his arm midair as he looks over his shoulder. Jimin's thrown his arms around his waist, pulling him back from Braun— He's really digging his heels into the ground and doing his best, too. "Doll—"

"It's alright, I'm fine," Jimin insists, hiding his face between Yoongi's shoulder blades. He sounds desperate, and it isn't till he snaps back to reality that the elder realizes why. The lounge's security staff are looming around their booth— Not close enough that they're breathing down his neck, but close enough that they could intervene at any moment. In addition, every last customer has their eyes directed at their table. "I'm okay, I promise! So please, just— Don't do anything more?"

Fucking hell. Braun's pissed himself, he's made a spectacle and Jimin might get fired after tonight. Yoongi's never been the subtle sort, but even he can tell that he's gone way overboard. Shit. "Doll…"

Someone – presumably a manager, judging by the gold pin that's on the lapel of his suit jacket – approaches them. "Jimin," the man says firmly, but not unkindly, "you're off your shift. Go and rest; I'll handle this situation."

Jimin looks alarmed as his arms drop by his sides, taking a step back. He really is going to lose his job, isn't he? God, Yoongi feels like such a fucking idiot. "But sir, I—"

"I'll accept full responsibility for this," Yoongi interjects, his hand curling into a fist around his cap. "I flew off the handle, and I'll pay for any damages to the lounge. This wasn't Jimin's fault—"

"I never said it was Jimin's fault; I simply told him to take the rest of the night off," the manager informs Yoongi drily, sounding supremely unimpressed. Turning to the dancer in question, he nods gently and speaks under his breath. "Quickly, now. I'll explain all of this to the boss and try to do some damage control; take tomorrow off as well, for good measure. I can imagine you'll need some extra rest after all of this."

For a moment, Jimin looks shell-shocked. It doesn't take long for relief to flood in, and he lets out a long, shaky sigh. "Thank you," he whispers, shoulders sagging as he chews on his lip. "Thank you so much, sir, I really appreciate it—"

Feeling uncomfortable, Yoongi tugs the brim of his cap over his eyes. There's still residual adrenaline amping him up, but he feels too guilty to exercise it; he doesn't even know how to look at Jimin without feeling like he's overstepped some kind of boundary, which is why he grabs onto his jacket and turns on his heel to leave.

Jimin's hand snags on his sleeve at the edge of the dais, brows furrowed with worry. "Yoongi?" He asks, sad and tired and small. Having heard how exuberant the dancer's voice can be, Yoongi feels a hollow ache with the knowledge that he's the one who's done this— That he's messed up badly enough for Jimin to sound as despondent as he does. "Where are you going? Aren't you… Aren't you coming back upstairs with me?"

"I think I've done enough for tonight, doll," the elder murmurs, glancing over Jimin's shoulder. Braun, who's recovered from being completely fucking paralyzed with fear, is now loudly declaring that he'll sue Yoongi for assault. Fine by him; it's not even a blip on the radar of things he could give a fuck about. "I'm sorry about all of this; if anything gets pinned on you, I promise I'll take responsibility for all of it."

"But you didn't do anything wrong…"

"I don't know about that," Yoongi says, a painful amount of relief swelling in him at the fact that Jimin isn't offended by his actions or words. Afterwards, he guiltily averts his eyes; he's still caused a world of trouble for Namjoon and Seokjin— The way the meeting with Braun had played out is going to jeopardize a lot of their plans. Hindsight is always 20/20; he shouldn't have been so reckless. "Whatever the case, I don't want to make any more of a scene than I already have. I know I told you I'd stay, but it's probably best if I head back to Jin's for tonight."

He starts to leave again, but feels one last tug on the hem of his jacket.

"You'll come tomorrow… Right?" Jimin asks softly, painfully sweet as his forehead thumps on the curve of Yoongi's shoulder. "The same time…?"

"Doll…"

"I'm not angry at you!" Jimin reassures Yoongi firmly, shaking his head. He yanks insistently on the elder's jacket, brows furrowed. "I'm not mad, so you'll come, right? The usual time…?"

Yoongi sighs, resisting the urge to knead his temples. Jimin is frustrated by the situation, tired out by his shift and probably nervous about what'll happen to his job, but he's dead set on communicating the fact that he isn't angry at Yoongi; he's too kind, seriously. "Yeah, doll," the elder concedes, because even if he wants to stay away – which he doesn't – there's apparently no power on earth strong enough to make him say no to Jimin.

(He's beginning to suspect this won't reflect well on his 'rabid dog of Birmingham, eldest brother of the Peaky fucking Blinders' reputation.)

"Don't worry," he mumbles, "and get lots of rest. I'll come."

 

 

24.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

As promised, Yoongi arrives at a little after noon.

He hovers outside the doors, awkwardly shifting from foot to foot with a bouquet of flowers under his arm. He doesn't know how badly he's messed up, but it's safe to say that a bunch of roses isn't going to go far by way of apologizing. Namjoon and Seokjin had thoroughly reamed him out in the morning for his idiotic actions, but he'd at least expected that— Jimin's had the whole night to turn what had happened over in his head, and Yoongi's man enough to admit that he's worried.

Just as he's about to turn on his heel to get something more by way of apologizing – a necklace or something? A new dress? Jimin likes books too, doesn't he? – the door swings open with the dancer on the other side of it.

"You're late," Jimin huffs, yanking Yoongi into the lounge by his wrist. He glances at the flowers before throwing his arms around the elder, pressing a kiss to the curve of his jaw. "You're late, and I worried, and I hate you."

"It's noon," Yoongi blinks, bewildered. His grip on the bouquet almost loosens, and he jumps a little when the doors slam shut behind them. "I'm always here around noon—"

Jimin buries his face against the column of Yoongi's neck, shaking his head furiously. "You're late," he repeats, petulant and stubborn as he clings to the elder, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt. "You didn't come back quickly enough, so I couldn't sleep."

"Doll…" Yoongi leans back, taking Jimin by the shoulders. He stares into the dancer's eyes— Sees the redness under each corner and the way his lids are drooping with exhaustion. Shit. "The whole night?" He asks, brows furrowing with guilt. He should have stayed, should have made sure the younger was okay, should have never lost his temper at that Braun in the first place. But how could he have endured watching that asshole paw at Jimin like that? "Not at all?"

"It's not my fault, it's yours."

"I know. I'm sorry—"

"— Because no one's ever stood up for me the way you did," Jimin scowls with a flush high on his cheeks, retreating only to beat a weak fist against Yoongi's chest. The elder stares at him, baffled. "How am I supposed to sleep after that? I mean, I've worked as a dancer for a long time, and I can take care of myself, but no one's ever tried to protect me like that and then you just disappeared. Now I'm sleepy and grumpy and I have to work in a few hours and you've only just arrived but we can't talk or have fun because now I have to nap through the day and we're wasting precious sleeping time because you're late—"

Yoongi cups Jimin's cheek— Half to shut him up, half because he's so impossibly endeared to the younger when he rambles. Leaning in, he kisses him.

(God, he's so fucking relieved.)

"Sorry," he apologizes again, meek as he draws back and breaks the kiss. Jimin's blinking at him sluggishly, lips parted in a soft pout that Yoongi wants painted and framed for posterity. So fucking cute… "I'm sorry. Should have come earlier; I hadn't realized you wouldn't be able to sleep."

Just like that, easy as anything, the tension's broken. "Mmm… We've been sleeping together often, so I've gotten too used to it…" Jimin yawns, muffling the soft moan of it into his hands and squeezing his eyes shut. "Bed," he orders half-heartedly, sagging against Yoongi with a whiny, unspoken request to be carried. "Now. Now, now, nownownow—"

"Okay, okay." Allowing his lips to curl with a subdued smile, Yoongi dips to curve his arms around the backs of the younger's thighs, trudging up the stairs wordlessly with legs wrapped around his waist. Jimin complains in a sleepy, near unintelligible slur all the way up the steps.

And Yoongi's tired too – way too tired to trudge up the fucking stairs, much less with someone in his arms – but Jimin isn't mad at him about the night before and they get to nap together for an entire afternoon. As it turns out, sleep is exactly what Yoongi could go for right now, too— Lots and lots of it. "You know," he murmurs in the younger's ear as they're heading up, "I don't know why I hadn't told you this before, but if anyone ever touches you again without your express permission, you tell me."

Jimin's silent for a bit before he speaks, lips brushing the column of Yoongi's neck. "But," he whispers, sounding hesitant and small. "I don't belong to you…"

And Yoongi gets it; really, he does. People who have tried to stake a claim on Jimin must number in the hundreds, but that isn't what he means by what he'd said. "Maybe not, but that doesn't mean you belong to anyone else," he clarifies, standing firmly by his words. "You're my lover, doll. I don't like you hurting, and I have people on hand who can fix things."

More silence, and then a soft kiss to his cheek. "Thank you," Jimin says sweetly, adorably sleepy and endearing as he hugs Yoongi just a little bit tighter. "For understanding."

Yoongi gently kicks the door open at the landing, shutting it with the same foot as he strides into Jimin's bedroom. He doesn't say anything, but the first thing he does when he lays the dancer on his bed is kiss his forehead.

(They fall asleep in minutes. All things considered, it's still a pretty good day.)

 

 

25.04.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"You got in trouble, didn't you?" Hoseok laughs over the line, irritating the fuck out of Yoongi. "Joon told Tae and I that he's heading down to London next week— Told us he might be dragging us along for the ride, even. What the hell happened with that Brown guy?"

"First of all, the fucker's name is Braun," Yoongi scowls, neck deep in paperwork as he checks up on how things are up north. Namjoon's still pissed and Taehyung's spending the day at the Gypsy's Lot, which leaves Hoseok as his only source of information. "Secondly, Jin should have known better than to send only me, especially when we're actually trying for diplomacy."

"At least you know your shortcomings."

"Was that a joke about my height?"

"Everything's a joke about your height to you; stop being so fucking sensitive," Hoseok laughs, and Yoongi can practically see the stupid heart-shaped grin he's got on his face back in Birmingham. Abruptly, he feels very homesick. "Joon was mumbling something about how Jimin was involved; Tae badgered him and stuff, but he didn't tell us anything more. Everything okay between you guys?"

"Jimin and I are fine," Yoongi deadpans, exhausted. He's still got at least a few hours' worth of shit to sort for Seokjin's business archive— He thought he'd been prepared for his punishment, but he hadn't realized it entailed mountains upon mountains of black and white corporate lunacy. Fuck his entire life, seriously. "Nams, Jin and I? Not so much."

"Well, that's par for course; you did take out a key partner."

"Fucker had it coming, Seok." Hell, maybe his younger brother would have done a lot more damage. Hoseok doesn't typically get angry, but that's exactly why he's off a leash when he does. "He touched Jimin."

"Like… Poked him in the cheek?" Hoseok asks, already sounding unhappy. He knows that's not what Yoongi means; he's just uncomfortable discussing the semantics, and he wants the elder to take the lead.

Yoongi can do that. "Like, borderline dragged him into his fucking lap."

"Does he know that Jimin's yours?"

"Before that? Probably not. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if half the fucking city's gotten the memo." News travels real fucking quick in London— Yoongi chalks it up to people not having anything better to do with their fucking time. "Jimin's been complaining, sort of; he's happy that people don't try to feel him up anymore, but he doesn't like that people are scared of approaching him for a dance altogether."

"You get out on the floor then."

"I've got about as much aptitude for dancing as pigs have for flying, Seok."

"Anyone can dance, beloved older brother."

"Save it; I know you only call me that when you're fucking messing with me." Honestly, Yoongi would complain about having such little shits for brothers if he didn't love them to the point of being willing to kill for them. "Either way, we're proceeding with the plan as is. Seokjin went to see Braun yesterday; we've bribed him to keep the lawsuit on hold till after we begin forceful evictions at Solomons' warehouses."

"The guy still wants to sue?" Hoseok snorts, disbelieving. "The bribe was just compensation; you'd think it were obvious. Does he know we've got the legal system in London in our pockets?"

"Probably not," Yoongi says dismissively with a shrug. Raising his arms high above his head, he interlaces his fingers and stretches with a groan— He seriously needs to take a fucking break. "Whatever it is, we can deal with it after Solomons is out of the picture. Nams and Jin tells me that we can still move forward without the additional insurance of having Braun backing us up; I can't wait to get the all clear to waste that psycho."

"You gonna kill him?"

"I'll paralyze him somehow, at least." Hughes deserves some kind of vengeance, at least. Yoongi would be the bigger man and let it slide, but he doesn't really want to. "I mean, if Nams lets me. We have to make sure we don't need him first."

"That's coldblooded, beloved older brother."

"Shut the fuck up, you're not better. And I told you to stop calling me that."

"But you make it so much fun," Hoseok bites back gleefully, making Yoongi sigh and pinch the bridge of his nose. Sobering a little after, the younger lets out a soft sigh. "Still, things seem to be going okay between you and Jimin… That's good; Tae'll be relieved."

Shifting uncomfortably, Yoongi slumps in his chair. "You two been chatting a lot about us?" He mumbles awkwardly, frowning with disapproval. "I already told you this, but don't go off marrying us in your head. He has a life here in London, and I—"

"You haven't asked him, have you?" Hoseok points out sharply, and Yoongi can practically hear scowl on his brother's face. "About coming back to Small Heath with you."

"Jimin wouldn't—"

"You don't know that—"

"Fuck's sake, Seok—"

"Yes, beloved older brother?"

"Jesus fucking Christ."

"You've got the wrong number, if you're looking to be saved."

"How is it possible for me to be all the way over here," Yoongi glowers, gesturing at his feet with exasperation even though Hoseok can't see him, "and for you to be all the way over there while still being a fucking pain in my ass?"

"I'm a man of many talents," Hoseok sniffs, clearly unamused by all the hedging. He sighs at length before relenting, his tone soft and careful. "You should give him a choice, Yoongi," he mumbles under his breath, abandoning his typical cheer for a more serious and thoughtful approach. "If you don't ask, you'll never know."

God damn everything. It's so rare that his younger brother gets all serious on him that it automatically makes Yoongi want to cave. "We've only been seeing each other for just shy of a fortnight," he protests. It sounds weak, though; even to his own ears. "It's just… I don't want you and Tae to have any expectations. It's nothing serious, alright? We haven't even had sex yet—"

"What, at all?"

"Well." Technically, that's not true. Unbidden, memories of that first – and only – night they'd spent together as lovers come forward, and Yoongi finds himself reaching for his worst nightmares at Somme and Verdun to avoid getting hard— He's on the phone with his own fucking brother, for fuck's sake. "… Just the once. The night we met."

"You're shitting me," Hoseok gasps, sounding scandalized. "Yoongi, that was ages ago!"

"Just a month and a half—"

"Yoongi!"

"Fucking what!?" GOD, he seriously cannot catch a break, can he? Getting to his feet, Yoongi stalks towards the nearest window and paws at the glass despondently, wishing he'd had the foresight to buy an extra pack the night before— He's all out of cigarettes, and he could really fucking use one right about now. "The hell do you want me to say, Seok? It'll happen when it happens, and I'm not going to rush Jimin."

"You're due back by May!" Hoseok yells, completely losing his fucking mind. Somehow, his younger brother's even more invested in his life than he is— If that isn't sad, Yoongi doesn't know what is. "End of May, you told me so!"

"I know that—"

"You don't have time—"

"I FUCKING KNOW THAT!" Yoongi shouts, and that's just great; now they're both raising their voices. Shit; things always turn out like this whenever he and Hoseok disagree on something. He doesn't like it, but it's better than stewing and letting a small matter snowball, he supposes. "So what if Jimin and I aren't having sex? So what if it doesn't happen again!? I don't recall that being any of your business, Seok!"

"This isn't about the sex; this is about what he means to you," Hoseok argues, because of course he argues. Jesus, Yoongi's so tired. "I asked you this the last time we spoke, didn't I? And you avoided it then, too—"

"Don't you dare—"

"Not that I think you're a shallow piece of shit, but I can't fucking remember the last time you wanted someone who you weren't having sex with on the daily."

Yoongi's beginning to see red. Mostly because Hoseok's hit the fucking nail on the head, but still. "Listen here, you little shit—"

"Look, my point is, when was the last time you felt so much for someone else!?" Undaunted and determined to get his point through, Hoseok bellows down the line— The sheer volume of his frustration makes Yoongi recoil from the receiver, wincing. "Is it really worth letting him go without even trying?"

"I—" Cutting himself off, Yoongi's lips thin into a line.

He thinks about Jimin— About all the ways he wants to protect him, of all the things they have and haven't talked about. He remembers how he'd woken up from a nightmare and the dancer hadn't pressed, hadn't pushed; had just put Yoongi's head in his lap and carded his fingers through his hair, had hummed a gentle tune to calm the elder and lull him back to sleep. He thinks about all the time they've spent together, curled up in Jimin's bed and whispering in hushed quiet tones; wonders how many secrets they've shared, how many secrets they've kept and how much he wants to let the younger in on every aspect of his life— The good, the bad and the ugly.

It makes literally no sense. They've only known each other for a month, but if he's being absolutely honest, Yoongi's found himself wanting to take care of Jimin on more than one occasion. Looking back on his track record, that desire to protect isn't exactly meaningless; nothing's sacred to him save for family – save for Namjoon, Hoseok, Taehyung and Seokjin – and Jimin doesn't fit into that category… Just yet, anyway, but the fact that Yoongi's even considering bringing him into the fold has to mean something.

Jimin's an anomaly— Something special, different and new. Something terrifying and amazing in the same beat, and Yoongi knows that this could only mean one thing.

(Hoseok is right, isn't he? Hoseok is right, and this is going to end with Yoongi going out on a limb and getting rejected, because Jimin seems smart enough to have a working sense of self-preservation— Being with any Blinder is a shitty idea, if you're looking to live long and prosper.)

"Fuck," Yoongi grumbles with feeling, palming his face because his younger brother is right— It still doesn't mean he has to like it, though. "Damn it, Seok. Seriously, fuck you."

"Yeah, alright," Hoseok says serenely, like he's achieved penultimate zen. If nothing else, he at least sounds – finally, fucking finally – satisfied with Yoongi's response to this entire clusterfuck. "Sucks to be you, I guess, but I'm not very sorry."

('We just want you to be happy,' Hoseok doesn't add, but Yoongi hears it anyway.

It's annoying that he can't even find it within himself to get mad at Hoseok, but he supposes that's just par for course, too.)

 

 

27.04.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

Yoongi gets stuck doing paperwork for a few days more than is strictly necessary – courtesy of Seokjin, who's making it his mission to stress exactly how disappointed he is in the younger for fucking up that meeting with Braun – which, naturally, means that he's been ordered to invite Jimin over – by Jimin – to make up for lost time.

He doesn't really know why Jimin insists on this, till the dancer shows up on Seokjin's doorstep in one of the prettiest dress he owns – a sweet, unassuming white number – with flowers in his hair and a peach cobbler still in the baking tin.

"It's such a pleasure to see you again; I was wondering when Yoongi would finally invite me over," Jimin beams up at Seokjin, who's staring at him with complete bewilderment in the doorway. Undeterred, the dancer glides into the manor, eyes bright as he takes in the sheer grandeur of the Kim estate. "You have such a beautiful home! Oh, and I made a peach cobbler; it's nothing, really, but I thought it'd be rude to visit without bringing something to thank you for taking such good care of Yoongi, so I just— Here."

Wordlessly taking the cobbler into his hands, Seokjin watches Jimin glide off towards Yoongi in the sitting room.

In the meantime, Yoongi is very carefully pretending that he'd told the elder about Jimin coming by, even though he obviously hasn't— He's supposed to be laboring through his punishment of death via paperwork, so naturally he'd assumed Seokjin would have shut him down on letting Jimin come by the house. "Hey doll," he greets the younger with a wince, accepting a kiss on the cheek and hoping he'll escape this with all his limbs intact. "I'm still working—"

"That's okay! I'll wait— Actually, should I have cut up the cobbler before I came? I mean, if you two haven't had tea yet, I was wondering if you'd like to have some, but I didn't call ahead to ask…"

"Please, don't worry about it; I'll have someone bring a knife and some plates." Turning very slowly on his heel as he shuts the door, Seokjin gives Yoongi the dirtiest glare before smiling at Jimin. "As it turns out, neither of us have had tea yet— I was out till a little under an hour ago, and he's been busy all afternoon, sorting through some of my loose papers that have yet to be properly archived."

"That sounds so tiring," Jimin hums, frowning at the stacks of documents still left unfiled on the table. Pouting at Yoongi, he sinks into the seat beside him. "Is this why you haven't been coming to the lounge?"

"The lounge is why I'm stuck here in the first place," Yoongi mumbles under his breath, afraid to look at Seokjin. God, this is how he's going to die? He's been to Somme and Verdun and this is how he's going to perish? At the hands of his workaholic childhood friend? His entire life is pathetic. "Jin and Nams aren't very happy I gave that shithead Braun what he deserved."

"I must apologize for what you had to go through at the lounge that night," Seokjin quickly intercedes, placing a comforting hand on Jimin's shoulder. "Mr. Braun was a partner in business, but I can assure you that neither Namjoon nor I condone his actions in any way. Yoongi's temper and recklessness in dealing with the situation may have put us in a difficult position, but we're not holding you responsible for his actions in any way."

"No, no; I never— I mean, thank you," Jimin rushes to say, eyes wide with bewilderment. "I never thought of it that way, but… What did you mean, earlier? Difficult position?"

"That meeting was Blinder business, doll," Yoongi drawls lazily, resisting the urge to yawn as he files away a land acquisition contract. "Braun's a dick, and I'm not sorry for telling him that. It's no apocalyptic setback; you don't have to worry about it."

"It's a fairly apocalyptic setback," Seokjin corrects Yoongi primly, crossing his arms as a member of his staff enters the room. "Have a conscience for Namjoon and I; just because we're capable of rectifying the situation doesn't mean it wasn't irritating— Our lovely guest brought us a peach cobbler," he tells the butler, who nods. "It's on the table over there; have someone in the kitchen section it for us, and have it served with our best tea."

"Yes, sir."

Jimin waits till the butler leaves, smiling at the man as he goes. "I probably shouldn't have approached Yoongi that night," he says softly, looking a little sheepish as he glances between his lover and Seokjin. "If I'd known it were a business meeting… I'm sorry to have caused you and Yoongi's brother trouble—"

"Not at all, please," Seokjin amends, gesturing towards the chair beside Yoongi's and pulling it out for Jimin. "As I've said, it was through no fault of yours that the business deal went south; the blame rests solely on Yoongi's shoulders, and we're all well aware of that."

"Thanks," Yoongi scowls at the elder, worn and weary. God, his shoulder is aching. "That's just fucking great— Thanks very fucking much, Jin."

"You're welcome."

"Please, even if you say that, let me help Yoongi with all of this work," Jimin appeals, sinking in the chair and looking up at Seokjin with pleading eyes. "I know how to read and write— The managers at the lounge have even taught me how to do accounting over the years that I've worked there, since I asked for lessons."

Seokjin frowns, glancing at the mess on his dining table. "Jimin…"

"Doll, this is Blinder stuff," Yoongi mumbles, uncomfortably averting his eyes. He doesn't want to involve Jimin in his work more than he has to— Would prefer that he keeps those parts of his life completely separate, really. He's got way too fucking much to deal with as is; having his lover thrown into the line of fire of his job will just add to the pile. "You don't have to—"

"But I want to," Jimin argues, huffing as his fingers curl over the edge of the table. Fuck, he's doing that pouting thing that Yoongi caves to, every single time. Shit, shit, shit. "I can help! I can keep secrets too; you wouldn't believe the type of people I've seen coming by the lounge in the dead of the night, or the things I've overheard—"

"Really?" Seokjin asks with interest, earning himself a glare from Yoongi. "What kind of things?"

"Jin," Yoongi snaps, for once managing to cut the elder off in his tracks. Turning to Jimin, he plucks a loose petal out of the younger's hair and toys with it between his fingers. "Doll, seriously, I'm fine. I'll be done with all of this bullshit eventually, so if you could just be patient and wait—"

"These are utility bills, aren't they?" Jimin interrupts Yoongi, pointing at a stack of papers and frowning up at Seokjin once it's clear Yoongi won't let him help. "Are you filing them away? How do you sort them? Chronologically? If I have to compare addresses, I can do that much too."

Yoongi sighs, kneading his temples. "Doll…"

"By the address," Seokjin answers Jimin unexpectedly, ignoring the wide-eyed stare he gets from Yoongi. Walking around the table, the elder bends over at the waist to point at the top left-hand corner of the bill in Jimin's hand. "Two years ago, I was still only using one bank— All of the utility bills from back then have the addresses printed here, so it'll be easier to sort them out."

"I can definitely do that—"

"Does no one have working ears in this room? Am I speaking to fucking ghosts?" Yoongi points out irritably, smacking his hand on Seokjin's obnoxiously large dining table. Narrowing his eyes at Jimin, he scowls. "Doll, I didn't want to put it this way, but it's dangerous for you to so much as lay your eyes on this stuff. If you know that I'm a Blinder, then you know the shit we get up to; stop being so stubborn and—"

"Since you've known from the start that I'm aware you're a member of the Peaky Blinders," Jimin says casually, reaching for Yoongi's cup of stale coffee and taking a sip, "you shouldn't have made me fall for you without expecting me to be a part of this at some point— Yoongi," he whines, giving the elder a disgusted look as he lowers the cup back down onto the table, "this tastes awful; how long have you left it to sit?"

Yoongi stares at him, mouth gaped a little and absolutely speechless. Had Jimin really just… Said what he'd thought he'd said? Off the top of his head? Like it wasn't a big deal? "Doll—"

"Sir," one of Seokjin's staff members call from the door, pushing in a cart, "your tea is ready. The chef has decided that the Tetley's India Ceylon would be best paired with the peach cobbler."

"Thank you; that sounds lovely." Seokjin smiles and beckons the man over, turning to Jimin. "Now, these are all of the utility bills from January 1916 to March 1917," he tells the younger gently, pointing at the stack in front of them. "I'd like them sorted by the address, and then chronologically after. Once you've finished, I'm sure Yoongi will be more than happy to accompany you back to the lounge."

"That would be lovely, but doesn't he have to finish everything here?" Jimin worries his lower lip, moving aside as Seokjin's staff clears the stale cup of coffee he'd sampled. "I can wait, or help him out more—"

"Nonsense; you'll do nothing of the sort. I'll be here for the evening, so I'll tidy some of this mess away myself; I'll have him finish the rest tomorrow morning." Pleasantly, Seokjin pats Jimin on the back with a wink. "After all, it's rare that I have the pleasure of meeting someone as delightful as yourself; as his childhood friend, it's my solemn duty to ensure Yoongi treats you with the utmost respect and care."

'God,' Yoongi thinks incredulously, in a daze as he watches his lover and his childhood friend banter like they've known each other all their lives. Half of him is still trying to figure out of Jimin had actually said what he'd said— That was how casually they'd glossed over the fact that it'd been said at all. 'I'm in the fucking twilight zone.'

(He has to hand it to Jimin though; the peach cobbler is fucking delicious, and it takes his mind off the whole, 'you shouldn't have made me fall for you without expecting me to be a part of this at some point,' thing…

For… 15 minutes, give or take.)

 

 

29.04.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

As promised, Seokjin lets Yoongi off the hook.

(A day late, but he isn't going to complain. As far as he remembers, Seokjin's sadistic and resourceful enough to keep him locked in for at least another month if he so wishes— At this point, Yoongi's just counting his blessings.)

It has him back at the lounge as per routine, watching Jimin go through the tedious process of removing his makeup and slipping off his clothes. Yoongi loves it when the dancer's done with his shift; there's something exquisite about the intimacy of being privy to such an unguarded and – figuratively – naked side of his lover. "Need help?" He calls over from the bed, eyeing the mess of straps holding the younger's dress on his shoulders. "That one looks stupidly complex."

"It is, but it's still stupidly pretty," Jimin pouts over his shoulder, before his lips soften into a smile. "But yes, please. Just loosen the ribbons?"

Dutifully, Yoongi gets to his feet and crosses the distance between them. "You already took you heels off?" He murmurs, dropping a kiss on the back of Jimin's head before he gets to work. "It must have been a rough night on the floor."

"Mmm," Jimin hums noncommittally, gently scrubbing at his left eye to remove the last bit of kohl he's lined it with. The natural shine of his skin glistens, residual dampness from his washcloth taking years off his age. "A little, but I had a lot of fun. People are still wary of approaching me for a dance, but it was a busier night than usual… It is Friday, after all."

"Sorry, doll," Yoongi frowns, still feeling a little guilty as he fumbles with the knots between his fingers. On hindsight, he really should have thought more about what his actions would have meant for Jimin. The younger's the star of the lounge, after all; The Makeba of Sheba. "I didn't mean to—"

"Don't be that way; I've told you it's fine— If anything, having people being less grabby with me makes up for all the dancing I don't get called out to do," Jimin huffs, turning to slap Yoongi playfully on the shoulder. Removing his earrings with practiced fingers, he sets them on the table of his dresser and smiles. "How are things with Seokjin? You told me Namjoon is coming down next week, which sounds exciting."

"He's coming down to do damage control, but yeah."

"You miss him," Jimin grins knowingly, leaning around the elder to tug his nightie off a hanger. He pulls it over his head, eyes squeezed shut before he blinks at Yoongi. "Hoseok and Taehyung, too."

He really does. "It's a secret, so don't tell anyone." Putting his arms around Jimin's waist, Yoongi lifts the giggling dancer and carries him over to the bed with a grunt. Fuck, he looks so delicious and soft, reaching for a pillow and hugging it to his chest. "Especially not Tae. It'll ruin my reputation."

"You love them," the younger singsongs mischievously, holding out his hands for a hug. Yoongi obliges, the pillow stuffed between their chests. "You love them, and you miss them to bits~"

"Doll…"

"You're a sweetheart~"

"Now you're just milking this—"

"… You must miss being home."

That's sudden. Backing up a little, Yoongi lays on his back and pulls Jimin against his side, lifting an eyebrow when the dancer buries his face in his pillow. "Where's this coming from?" He asks quietly, mildly suspicious. The younger's never brought this up before— Not in such a blatant and unabashed way, at least. "Hey, come on. Talk to me."

Jimin takes a while to respond, his lips pursed in a thoughtful pout. "Seokjin says you’re your work here is almost done— That you're going to leave soon," he mumbles eventually, brows furrowed. "To go back home to Birmingham…"

Ah, shit. "Yeah," Yoongi allows, feeling mildly regretful that he hadn't been the one to broach the subject with Jimin, and a lot resentful at Seokjin for having gotten the jump on him. "I mean, I don't know when we'll be done, exactly, but… Yeah. With Nams coming down… It'll be soon, I think."

Silence.

Yoongi's feeling worried now. He'd thought he'd at least have a few more days, a week, to think through this entire situation. Now that Seokjin's blindsided him – probably with good intentions, but still – he run down the clock on drafting what he wants to say to Jimin. Every conversation he's had with every last important person in his life's running through his head— Hoseok in particular, really.

("Is it really worth letting him go without even trying?")

"You know," Jimin says softly, "you have a car."

'What?' Yoongi thinks, because what? What.

"Well, Seokjin has a car. I think you'd probably have one back in Small Heath, but the point is, well… You have a car," Jimin rambles, tucking his nose against the column of Yoongi's neck. He's blushing up a storm; the elder can feel how red his face is through sheer skin-to-skin contact. "At least, I think you do? Or maybe your brother…"

"Doll—"

"The drive," Jimin blurts, his hand clenching into a little fist over Yoongi's chest, "between Birmingham and London, it's an hour? And hour and a half, maybe… That's not— It's not too far, is it? I mean, it's still a distance, but…"

'Oh,' Yoongi thinks, because… Oh.

(Wow. He hadn't even thought of that.)

"Even though I'm sure you'll be busy once you go home, I don't think it'll be hard… I don't spend money on a lot of things, so I have a lot of savings," Jimin continues in a small voice, burying his face in his pillow as he turns away from Yoongi in his embarrassment. "I don't know how to drive, but I could learn? And I know a really nice lady living in Ludgate Hill whose son is selling a used Ford; he's off to Germany on business, see, so it doesn't make sense for him to bring his old car there. I'm sure he'd prefer having a new one, so he's putting his own on the market for now, and—"

"Hey, shh." Turning on his side, Yoongi spoons Jimin and puts his arms around the younger's waist, kissing the back of his neck and closing his eyes. Jesus, he's feeling so fucking much; how much had Jimin been thinking about all of this? For how long, and how hadn't he noticed at all? "Baby, come here. Look at me."

"No," Jimin whines, stubborn and shy as he curls into a ball. "Nooo…"

Sighing, Yoongi sits up and looks down at the younger. Well, whatever it is, he's going to say it before he loses his nerve. "I'll come see you," he murmurs under his breath, feeling less stupid and more brave than he ever thought he'd feel while committing to something— Committing to someone. "Every week— Every other day, as often as I can possibly get away with it."

Jimin stops whining, his eyes opening wide. Slowly, he turns to put his head in Yoongi's lap, shyly blinking up at him in surprise. "Really?" He asks softly, a little hesitant. "I— If this is because of what I said, I mean… We didn't even really talk about it, but we did say that this was going to be a short-term thing in the past. I was worried I was just getting ahead of myself, but I didn't want to just not say anything and let you go without telling you that if you wanted to, I'd want to keep seeing you and I—"

"You're rambling, doll."

Jimin huffs, crossing his arms like a brat. "Well, don't interrupt me."

Chuckling, Yoongi brushes a stray lock of the younger's fringe out of his eyes. "Hoseok's been— I've," he corrects himself firmly, taking a deep breath, "been thinking about this, too. How to ask you to— How to ask if we could continue seeing each other, even though I'm leaving London soon."

(He's been having nightmares about it, really, but now that he knows Jimin's on board and he isn't about to be rejected, Yoongi's fucking excited. He can't even remember the last time he was this excited— That's how amped up he is for what this means for them…

Namely, that their story isn't over just yet.)

"You have?" Jimin whispers, sounding so surprised Yoongi's chest tightens a little. "I wasn't… I mean, I didn't think you would—"

"Why wouldn't I?" After all of the time they've spent together, it only makes sense to him that Jimin would know— Would instinctively connect the dots on where he stands where their relationship's concerned, but that's clearly not the case. Hindsight's 20/20; Yoongi now knows he should have been clearer from the start, that he shouldn't have drawn boundaries he'd regret. How much time had they wasted, worrying about this on their own? "Since I'm an idiot, I hadn't really known how to say it up until now, but you make me happy."

"Yoongi," Jimin breathes, his eyes shiny as he sits up, scooting close to the elder and chewing on his lower lip. "I— You make me so happy too, I…"

"At the end of the day, I'm just a simple guy," Yoongi laughs drily, lifting a hand. Cupping Jimin's cheek, he catches the first tear that falls from the corner of the younger's eye, his lips quirking with a small and awkward smile. "And since I'm a simple guy, I'll put it simply— I don't know what'll happen in the future, but I don't want what we have to end."

Throwing himself at Yoongi, Jimin nods furiously. "Mmhmm," he muffles against the elder's collar, sounding so relieved and pleased and glad that it makes everything that's wrong with their separate worlds – every terrible thing that's happened to Jimin as a dancer, every horrible thing Yoongi's had to do as a Blinder and everything he'd been through in Somme and Verdun – okay. It just… It fixes something bone-deep in the both of them, and everything about this moment amazing and surreal and beautiful. "I'd like that too… Really."

Hugging Jimin against him, Yoongi buries his nose in the dancer's apple-scented hair and closes his eyes— Breathes.

(He'll hold off on asking Jimin to move to Small Heath for now, but he thinks this could be a very good start for what they're meant to be.)

 

 

02.05.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

Monday comes surprisingly quick. Then again, considering Yoongi's not cooped up at Seokjin's place under piles upon piles of the elder's administrative shit, he supposes that's fairly par for course.

Things have settled down somewhat, which he isn't used to. Things between him and Jimin are going extremely well— Tension is at an all-time low, following their talk that addresses what'll happen in the imminent future. Yoongi's promised to make time, and so has the dancer; overall, he thinks they'll be okay.

Seokjin's been as close to nice as he'll ever be; Yoongi takes this to mean that his cock up with Braun has been fixed for the most part, even though Namjoon will still be coming down to London— Today, actually, which is nice.

(Taehyung and Hoseok are tagging along, which is… About as worrying as it is nice.)

Yoongi wakes up with Jimin snuggling back against him, a soft and contented sigh falling from the younger's lips. It's a good way to greet the day, and he finds himself lacking his usual instinct to reach for the gun he typically keeps beneath his pillow— Fucking wonders upon wonders. "Hey," he manages to grunt, eyes still half-lidded as he tries to get accustomed to the light streaming through gap in the curtains. "Morning."

"Morning," Jimin echoes back quietly, giggling when Yoongi drops a kiss on the back of his head. Turning over, he faces the elder with a sleep-soft smile, brushing their noses. "About time you got up; I was beginning to get lonely."

"'Bout time?" Yoongi scoffs, lazily throwing an arm over Jimin's waist and dragging the younger flush against him. God, it feels good to cuddle. When the fuck was the last time he'd cuddled someone? Had he ever really cuddled anyone, ever? Taehyung notwithstanding – and only because the brat was fucking impossible to pry off in his sleep – he doesn't think so. "How long've you been awake?"

"An hour? A couple?"

"Jesus fucking Christ."

"I wake up when I have to."

"You work the fucking night shift, doll."

"Mmm… It's still not good to waste the day," Jimin hums pleasantly, nuzzling against the slope of Yoongi's collarbone. He starts dragging his lips up the curve of Yoongi's Adam's apple— Starts leaving open-mouthed kisses on the stretch of his neck. "Get up…"

"You're getting something up, that's for sure," Yoongi rumbles callously, eyes fluttering shut as he savors the sensation. They may not have had sex again just yet, but he can tell Jimin's nowhere near the realm of saying no; there'd been a part of him that had wanted to ask, but he's mostly caved to letting the younger set the pace… This is the result of that, he supposes. "Someone's frisky."

"You're too considerate of me," Jimin pouts, the swell of his lips catching the lobe of Yoongi's ear. Cheeky and playful, he swings his leg over Yoongi's hip beneath the sheets to straddle him. "I don't hate that about you, but I'm beginning to think that if I wait for you to make the first move, I'll die untouched."

"Overdramatic," Yoongi drawls accusatorily, watching Jimin sit up with the sheets still on his tousled hair. They remain draped over his body, and he tugs on the hems— His pretty doll looks like a bride with a makeshift veil in his nightie, and he finds himself thinking about that a little longer than he probably should. "I'm the one being tortured here."

"Tortured? Now who's being overdramatic?" Jimin chuckles, leaning down. His eyes flutter shut as he kisses Yoongi, lazy and slow and sweet. He hums with appreciation as Yoongi's hand strokes his back beneath the sheets, arching into the touch like a kitten. "Mmm… That feels nice…"

"You're sensitive, is why." Yoongi takes the cue and runs his free palm down Jimin's thigh, finding the hem of his nightie. Wordlessly, he tugs at it just a little, asking for permission as his other hand continues smoothing down the silk that's rumpled around the dancer's waist.

Jimin nuzzles against the elder's neck before giving him a deliberate nod, sighing with want.

As far as Yoongi knows, everything about Jimin is lovely; the way he knows what he wants and how to get it. He isn't going to do the younger the disgrace of questioning him. "You're so beautiful," he murmurs softly, his hand curving over the swell of Jimin's ass. God, it's been awhile; he's missed having this level of physical intimacy with someone and having it mean something, too. "How the fuck did I get so lucky?"

"You're right— I hope you feel blessed," Jimin teases in agreement, obviously pleased by the praise. His shoulders hunch as he gasps, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to the spot beneath Yoongi's ear. "Mmm…"

Though he dolls up and looks absolutely amazing in any of his dresses, Yoongi knows that Jimin's body is far removed from that of a woman. God's honest truth has the dancer with toned muscles; his thighs are supple and his tummy is soft, but there's a wealth of stamina and strength built into his lover from his time on the floor. "Don't get cocky," Yoongi snorts, closing his eyes as he feels something sharply dragging on his earlobe. "Fuck, baby…"

"I know you like it," Jimin murmurs, eyes half-lidded as he nibbles and teases and has Yoongi grunting with the need to get the fuck out of his slacks. "I remember things; you like leaving marks, don't you? Like having them on you too…"

Shit. Yoongi sucks in a slow breath, his cock throbbing.

"Last time, you left so many on my thighs," Jimin continues, nuzzling the crook of Yoongi's neck with a self-satisfied giggle. Grinding his length against Yoongi's through their clothes, the younger keens— It's the neediest, sweetest little sound. "I couldn't wear any of my shorter dresses for a week; it felt like a secret I had to keep…"

"Doesn't sound like you were too upset," Yoongi grunts, his head tilting back as he closes his eyes. Fuck; Jimin's too fucking good at riling him up. "Should I practice more restraint?"

"Don't you dare."

That's what the fuck he likes to hear. "C'mere, doll." Placing a hand at the base of Jimin's spine, Yoongi slowly moves it upwards so that the dancer's flush against him, lips pursed against the throb of the elder's pulse. "You want me? I'm going to spoil you fucking rotten…"

Sucking a bruise to the skin under his teeth, Jimin muffles a whine against the column of the elder's neck. "Please," he gasps, eyes half-lidded as he ruts against Yoongi's thigh – so fucking pretty – with desperation. His nightie slips from his shoulder, the skirting of it rumpled between their bodies as Yoongi gives the younger's perfect ass an obligatory squeeze. "Yoon…"

"So fucking hard for you, baby—"

The door to Jimin's attic slams wide open.

Yoongi wraps his arms around Jimin's waist, eyes hardening as he immediately reverses their positions. Protectively, he covers his lover's body with the sheets before slipping a hand under the pillow to curl his hand around his gun. Glaring daggers at the intruders who have interrupted their time together, he raises his weapon as Jimin squeaks with shock. "Who the FUCK—"

It's fucking Taehyung and Hoseok, because of course it's Taehyung and Hoseok. They're staring at him in shock, both of their hands raised— The younger drops a myriad of lock picks, and they tinkle on the ground. A couple of them fall through between the cracks of the wooden flooring, and Taehyung makes a distressed noise as they disappear into the abyss.

"In my defense, I tried to stop them." Namjoon's bringing up the rear of their little party with a long-suffering sigh spilling from his lips. "We're very sorry for interrupting," he prompts into the air, keeping his eyes averted from Yoongi and Jimin on the bed as he glares balefully at the backs of Taehyung and Hoseok's heads, "aren't we, boys?"

"We just wanted to surprise you since Jin told us you stayed at Jimin's place! Please lower the gun," Taehyung whimpers pathetically, shoulders trembling with fear as Yoongi growls, cocking it right at him. "PLEASE! I have a wife and 4 children; my youngest is still teething and I also have 7 dogs—"

"You've literally never fucked a woman," Hoseok hisses at the younger, wincing when Yoongi turns the gun on him. "The only true part about any of that is the dog thing—"

"No," Taehyung amends, frowning as he lowers his hands to fold his arms. Turning to Hoseok, he huffs in disappointment. "Even though you love Monet's works, you forgot Claude again, didn't you? I don't have 7 dogs, I have 8—"

"YOU KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I HAVE, ASSHOLES!?" Yoongi yells, waving his pistol at the idiots as they violently startle, rushing to cower behind Namjoon for protection. "A FUCKING GUN, SO WHY DON'T YOU GET THE FUCK OUT—"

"We're going, we're going." Calmly, Namjoon takes both Taehyung and Hoseok by their shoulders, turning them on their heels to face the staircase leading down to the lounge. "We're very apologetic for interrupting your time together; please come see us later, when you and Jimin have finished your business with each other."

They're halfway through the door when Taehyung gasps, making grabby hands over Namjoon's shoulder with a garbled whine. "Wait, my lock picks—"

"Taehyung," Namjoon says wryly, wrestling the younger along with him, "I'll have you remember that I am trying to save your life here."

Hoseok groans, yanking Taehyung by his arm. "Just fucking leave them, you idiot—"

The door slams shut.

Dropping his gun, Yoongi buries his face in his hands and groans, drained and long-suffering. "I," he tells Jimin, who surfaces from under the sheets with a red face, "am going to fucking skin those two fuckers and turn them into coats."

"That's absolutely disgusting," Jimin informs him, his hair messy as he sits up. Pouting, he frowns at the front of Yoongi's slacks, noting that the elder's erection has completely died down… Well, there's no surprise there. "Aw. We were having such a good time, too."

"We could ignore that they're here and just get back to what we were doing," Yoongi grumbles, even though he knows that Jimin wouldn't do that; he's too courteous to let visitors entertain themselves without even greeting them. "It's what they fucking deserve."

"Don't be like that, Yoongi." Sighing heavily, Jimin runs a hand through his hair, attempting to tame it as he swings his legs off the side of his bed. "We'll have time to be alone later," he adds, getting to his feet with an adorable little 'hup' of self-motivation. "I'll get dressed and wash my face… Oh, your jacket's on the coat rack by the door— I put it on a hanger last night so that it wouldn't get wrinkled."

"You're perfect," Yoongi calls after Jimin, despondently watching the dancer toddle towards his bathroom. God, his pert ass in that silk nightie… "None of us deserve you. You're a god amongst us mere mortals."

"Mmm," Jimin agrees sleepily with a feeble wave over his shoulder, still a little out of it as he closes the door behind him. "Okay…"

Bonelessly flopping onto his front, Yoongi buries his face in Jimin's pillow. He hates Hoseok and Taehyung, seriously, and tamping down the rising urge he has to commit fratricide is no easy feat.

 

 

05.05.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"I'm beginning to understand what you see in Jimin," Namjoon says, serenely looking out over the green. Taehyung and Hoseok are both on horses, and the dancer in question is riding on the back of the former's with a wide smile on his face. "He's extremely personable."

Glancing at him, Yoongi snorts. "Just admit you finally trust him," he retorts drily, reaching for his cigarettes on the table between them. "I can't stand how you and Jin beat around the fucking bush, sometimes. Doesn't it get fucking exhausting?"

"These days, being purposefully cryptic is one of the essentials of conducting good business." Calmly, Namjoon turns to face Yoongi. They're on the deck; Seokjin should be joining them soon, with an update about when they're next due to meet Solomons. "And you know why I've always been wary about trusting outsiders where it comes to Blinder business."

"I know." And for good reason, too— As the leader of the Peaky Blinders, Namjoon's their first line of defense; it's a brand of stress that Yoongi doesn't ever want placed on his shoulders, either. "But he isn't an outsider, Nams… At least, I don't think he'll be, for long." Not with the way Taehyung and Hoseok have practically adopted him into their ranks, anyway.

"Perhaps," Namjoon muses neutrally, watching Hoseok shake a fist at Taehyung and Jimin for almost running their horse into his on the green. "Honestly, all I feel I have to admit is that I hadn't seen this coming. I'm not going to intervene in your personal affairs, but you've always been the sort of steer clear of romance."

Well, that's fair. "Just hadn't met the right person, Nams."

"And you believe that Jimin is the right person?"

"Maybe." These days, Yoongi's been feeling more and more like Jimin may be the only person. It terrifies and excites him in the same beat, and he wonders if the same can be said for him in the dancer's eyes. Putting his cigarette between his lips, he lights it up. "I'm not ruling out the possibility. We've decided to continue seeing each other, even after I return to Small Heath."

"Even with the commute?"

"It's just an hour each way."

"And you swore never to own a car," Namjoon chuckles, amused even as Yoongi scowls at him. "You said it'd turn you into a pompous, money-minded man like Seokjin."

"I don't own a fucking manor in Mayfair; my apartment's the size of a bathroom in this marble prison," Yoongi snaps, folding his arms and sinking into the plush cushioning of Seokjin's garden furniture. "Even if I do end up buying a car, it'll be purely for convenience purposes. Taking the train is boring as fuck, and it's slower than driving up here myself; if I'm going to continue seeing Jimin, I'd rather it take less than 3 hours to get here—"

"Don't be so defensive," Namjoon cuts him off with a small smile, his cheeks dimpled with mirth before he lifts an eyebrow. "And even though I know you're joking, don't tease Seokjin too much. You know that he only values his wealth as much as he does because we all grew up with nothing; he's built a veritable empire's worth of business by his own hands, since he's decided to move to London."

That's true. Having grown up alongside Seokjin, Yoongi can't fault the elder for spending his own green on whatever the fuck he wants; while he has no personal penchant for material possessions, the same can't be said for everyone else. "It's fucking annoying," he grumbles instead, averting his eyes from Namjoon's knowing gaze. "He has 6 cars, Nams— 6. Who the fuck even needs 6 cars?"

"Perhaps if you ask him nicely, he will give you one—"

"Absolutely not," Seokjin pipes up primly from behind them, prompting both Namjoon and Yoongi to look over their shoulders— The former with a laugh, and the latter with a grimace. "I'm disappointed in your financial stability, Yoongi. Having worked this long, an automobile should be fully within your means."

"I can afford a car, shithead," Yoongi snaps, ever argumentative with the elder. Something about Seokjin just grinds him the wrong way; they're always bickering, albeit semi-affectionately. "You can fucking keep all 6 of yours like the penny-pinching miser you are; I don't need them."

"Good, because they were all very expensive."

Yoongi blows a plume of smoke at him. Irritated, Seokjin waves his arm in front of his face and takes a step back, glaring at the younger.

"Welcome home," Namjoon greets the owner of the house, far more amicably as he gets to his feet. "When will Mr. Solomons see us as a group?"

"Soon; apparently, our efforts in exporting towards Asia have paid off, and we'll soon be able to reach other continents like Australia and South America." Leaning over the back of Yoongi's chair, Seokjin places a small stack of papers on the table. "However, he's requested to see Yoongi once more before we meet him as a group. He's away on business till the 9th, so I've told him you'll visit the bakery on the 10th."

Fuck's sake. "Why?" Yoongi groans, making a face. "What fucking more does the asshole want from me?"

"Allegedly, he's caught one of our men trying to break into his office— A boy named Hughes," Seokjin frowns, cocking his head at Namjoon when the younger blinks in surprise. "I told him he must've been mistaken, but he's absolutely livid over the matter… Seeing as I've been the business-oriented one of our duo, he must've figured you ran herd on the personnel recruited from Birmingham."

"Hughes?" Yoongi spits, stubbing out his cigarette with feeling. "The same fucking kid Solomons brained with a vanga for getting chatted up by a girl, Hughes?"

"What?" Namjoon questions, face turning severe as he stares at Yoongi. "What are you talking about?"

Seokjin sighs heavily, pinching the bridge of his nose.

That's when Yoongi belatedly realizes that Namjoon hadn't been told of the matter— Seokjin must have kept it from him in an effort to spare the younger, taking matters into his own hands to provide monetary compensation to Hughes' family in exchange for them keeping their silence. Whoops. "Uh…"

"What did Solomons do to Oliver?" Namjoon bites out, turning to Seokjin. The elder averts his eyes, looking pained. "Have you neglected to tell me something that happened in the past?"

"Look, there was no way we could have prevented it, alright?" Yoongi cautiously defends Seokjin, wincing when Namjoon turns to him with his full attention— God, his younger brother is intense. "Solomons is a fucking psycho; I've been saying as much from the moment I met the sorry bastard. Hughes had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he's alright. Jin and I made sure of it; confirmed it with our own eyes, too."

"What did Mr. Solomons punish Oliver Hughes for?" Namjoon presses, his face darkening. "You mentioned something about a woman?"

"A Jewish woman, to be precise— The one working at the flower shop in Camden Town." Placing a hand on Namjoon's shoulder, Seokjin shakes his head solemnly. "I've told you this before, but Alfie Solomons is very racist; one of his rules upon hiring our people in his 'bakery' was that they were never to touch a Jewish woman… We hadn't anticipated he would be quite this violent where it came to enforcing that."

Namjoon is silent for a long time before he nods. "Right," he murmurs, lifting his head and looking between Seokjin and Yoongi with clarity and purpose in his eyes. "What happened to the young man?"

"His hearing in his left ear has been compromised; the boy is partially deaf," Seokjin informs Namjoon curtly, clearly finding Solomons' actions distasteful. "I've taken the liberty to pay off his doctor fees and all of his medication— Financial compensation has also been given to both his family, and Hughes himself."

"Good." Sinking into his seat, Namjoon's head lolls over the back of his chair. "See to it that when Solomons has been cut out of our business, you remove his left ear," he adds flatly, staring at Yoongi briefly before he closes his eyes. "We're the Peaky Blinders, and we protect Small Heath— The whole of Birmingham, really. We mustn't let people forget that where it comes to our people, violence begets violence."

Yoongi would be grossed out and disturbed, had he not been used to taking orders like these from Namjoon. "What'll I do with the fucking thing?" He asks, ignoring the way Seokjin grimaces at their callous words. "Much as I'll have fun taking it off, I'm not keeping the fucker's ear on me."

"Give it to the Hughes. Also, I'd like to give Oliver a job in one of our best betting dens, once all this mess with Solomons is over," Namjoon suggests, the afternoon breeze carding through his hair as he smiles serenely. He looks for all the world like he could be slipping off into a nap, even as he discusses the drab formalities of exacting revenge. "Let his family know that their son's suffering has not been in vain, and it has not gone unnoticed."

Seokjin and Yoongi silently exchange glances above the leader's head, each lifting a brow with an unspoken word pinging off the walls in their minds.

'Impressive…'

 

 

07.05.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

As much as they're feared on the streets, the Peaky Blinders are a rowdy, clingy bunch at heart. Since his brothers and Taehyung have gotten to London, Yoongi hasn't spent a moment alone with Jimin.

That is, till now.

It's just shy of the Gypsy's witching hour, and he's wrestled himself and his lover away from Seokjin's house for a fucking reprieve already. "They're so fucking annoying," Yoongi complained without heat, turning his head and kissing the curve of Jimin's hip, making the dancer hum with pleasure. "Feels like an eternity since I've last gotten to savor you— Can't fucking believe it's only been 5 goddamn days."

"Less talking, more savoring," Jimin bites out, gasping as Yoongi lifts his legs to hook them over his shoulders. He writhes a little when kisses are littered on his sensitive inner thighs, gasping. "Y-Yoon…"

"Mmm." God, Yoongi fucking loves his name on Jimin's lips. Closing his eyes, he noses against the lacy hem of the dancer's underwear, chuckling when he feels his lover arching his back with a low whine. "So bratty, for someone who's this needy."

"I wouldn't be bratty if you stopped teasing me so much."

"But I'm so good at it."

"You're being mean," Jimin huffs, pouting down at Yoongi between his legs. He looked deliciously disheveled, and the elder can't really fault him for being a little irritated; he's done nothing but toy with the younger in the past hour, after all. "You said you'd take care of me, but you aren't."

"I will; you know I will." Purposefully maintaining eye contact, Yoongi relents by shifting upwards on the bed, dragging his tongue over Jimin's cock that's straining against his pretty panties.

Crying out, Jimin throws his head back against his pillow, panting a slurred curse into the air.

The younger's cock is so hard; the wet spot that's dampened the silk of his underwear is delicious, and Yoongi suckles at it with his eyes half-lidded. "So good for me," he murmurs, dipping his tongue into the slit and appreciating the way it makes Jimin's thighs tremor on his shoulders. "You're so fucking pretty— All the time, but when like this…"

"Uhn," Jimin whimpers in beautiful desperation, trying to keep his hips from rolling against the press of Yoongi's tongue. "P-Please—"

God. How has anyone in existence ever managed to resist wanting Jimin? "Not so bratty now," Yoongi drawls, licking his lips as he gets up. Fuck; he wants to take it slow, he really does, but his cock is throbbing something fierce in his slacks and he needs to suck Jimin off— Wants to make the younger feel as good as he does. "Put your legs up before I tear your panties off of you, baby."

Immediately, Jimin complies. He lets Yoongi undress him, compliant even as pink dusts his cheeks. "O-Oil," he stammers, glancing sideways at his drawer as he chews on his lower lip. "It's… I have some…"

Oh? "Are you sure?" Yoongi asks, swallowing thickly as he straightens up on his knees. As much as his dick is twitching at the mere idea of taking Jimin, he doesn't want his lover to feel pressured. "We don't have to, if you aren't ready. I've told you that whatever the fuck we're doing, we'll go at your pace—"

"Yoongi," Jimin breathes, looking up at the elder as he cuts him off. His lips are swollen red from kissing, and his cheeks are flushed. There's just something so alluringly vulnerable about the way he holds his arms out to Yoongi, even as his cock leaks against the soft swell of his abdomen. "I know. I know that, but… I'm sure, that I want you… Please?"

Fuck.

"Yeah, okay," Yoongi nods, diving downwards and hugging Jimin. Pressing a kiss to the dancer's temple, he squeezes his eyes shut and wonders if he'd saved the whole fucking world in his previous life to deserve this. "Of course, doll. Anything for you, just— I'll get it, the oil—"

Giggling through his embarrassment, Jimin smiles shyly as he nods.

It truly feels like it's been a long time since they'd had sex, but Yoongi knows that's only because for the fact that they've only slept together the once, he's thought about it every single time he's jacked off since then. "Tell me if it hurts," he whispers, having doused his fingers with a generous amount of scented oil. Warming it, he puts his forehead against Jimin's— Kisses the younger's nose. "Promise me."

"Mmm," Jimin hums agreeably, cupping Yoongi's cheeks and bringing the elder down for a sweet, chaste kiss. "I promise," he adds, right before he tenses with a gasp of arousal, feeling Yoongi's finger circling the puckered ring of his entrance. "Oh…"

Shit; he's really fucking tight— It's literally something out of a wet dream. "Good?" Yoongi murmurs, brushing his lips against Jimin's hairline as his baby moans beneath him. Feeling the younger curl his hands around his cock to stroke him, Yoongi hisses a muffled curse through his teeth. "Fuck, doll, you're so fucking perfect…"

"More," Jimin pleads, voice wavering as Yoongi starts to tease a second finger against his entrance, the slick slide of warm oil sounding so obscene in the otherwise quiet room. "More, Yoon— Want you—"

"Want you too, so bad." Jimin really isn't making this easy for him, what with the way his fingers tightening and squeezing and teasing the tip of Yoongi's dick. Managing to push two fingers into his lover, he cautiously reminds himself to take it slower; eager as they both are, he doesn't want to hurt the younger. "Can't wait to be in you—"

"Oh my god," Jimin whines into Yoongi's mouth, tugging the elder's lower lip between his teeth to bite and swell. "G-Good, don't stop, please, pleasepleaseplease—"

At this rate, Yoongi's going to cum the second he's in. "Shit," he groans, picking up the pace just a little to fuck his fingers into the younger. He scissors them too, picking up on the way Jimin's breath hitches whenever he curls his fingers just right. "Just like that? Right there?"

Jimin's response is basically incoherent; he's stopped stroking Yoongi – which may be a good thing, considering it might make him last longer – too distracted by his own pleasure as he claws at the sheets. "Hnn," he whimpers, the guttural desperation for more in his voice making Yoongi's cock kick with need. "Uhn, t-there—"

"Fuck, you're so fucking hot," Yoongi growls under his breath, dipping his body and catching one of Jimin's hard nipples between his teeth. This is it, the best part of sex; watching someone come undone beneath him, listening to the way they're choking back cries and trying to keep tears at bay from how good they feel. "Fucking love it, so fucking hard for you—"

"Ah!" Jimin sobs, arching his back so violently that Yoongi's fingers almost slide clean out of his pretty hole. He pants harshly as the elder tongues his nipple, near hysterical as he writhes on the sheets from how it all feels like too much. "Ahn, p-please—"

"Gonna make you scream," Yoongi breathes, licking his lips before he gives Jimin's other nipple the same attention, drinking in the younger's moans and how good he sounds when he begs. Teasing his third finger into his beautiful doll, he stares at Jimin's face— Commits the pleasured gape of his mouth and the way tears are making his eyes shine to memory. "Want you, gonna fuck you so good you'll never fucking forget me, gonna make you mine—"

"Love," the dancer gasps, rolling his hips against the slide of Yoongi's fingers, putting his arms around the elder's shoulders. "Not— Not fuck—"

He looks so, so out of it; completely delirious with pleasure, and it makes Yoongi stare at the beautiful man beneath him with wide-eyed wonder, wondering if he'd really heard what he thinks he'd heard come from his lover's lips. "Love?" He repeats after Jimin, something tightening in his chest as the younger nods furiously, the rise and fall of his chest hypnotic. "Baby, what do you—"

"Make love," Jimin manages, staring up at Yoongi, "to me."

It would be all too easy to dismiss this as a sentiment blurted in the heat of the moment— In fact, Yoongi thinks that would be kinder for his heart, too.

(However, there's a gleam of clarity in Jimin's eyes. He knows exactly what he's doing; what he's saying, and what he's asking for. It solidifies the words; makes them believable— It makes them the irrevocable truth.

Jimin wants Yoongi to make love to him.)

'And what am I gonna do,' the elder thinks to himself as he kisses Jimin, his heart throbbing hard in his chest as his lover begs for him – begs for his cock, begs to be filled up and claimed and wanted and loved – 'say no?'

He could never. Not to Jimin. Not on the day they met, not in all of the days that have passed since, and not today.

Here on out, Yoongi's convinced he'll never say no to Jimin ever again.

 

 

08.05.1919
London, Throgmorton Street, The Ophel Lounge

"I love you," Yoongi confesses in the morning, his lips brushing the top of Jimin's head as the younger snuffles against his collarbone. "I think I may have loved you for a while now."

They always talk about it in Namjoon's books like an explosion is due to happen— Like there were supposed to be fireworks, or some kind of fanfare behind a couple’s first ‘I love you.’ There's none of that between them, but it was only because it had been obvious all along— It's in the way Yoongi's courted Jimin more carefully than he's courted even the wildest of stray cats in Small Heath to eat from his hand, in the way Jimin lights up opens the door to welcome Yoongi into the lounge when he comes to visit. It's in the way Yoongi walks and talks and breathes when he's around Jimin, in the way he loves who he is when he's with the younger.

Yoongi isn't sure he can claim to know a lot about love, but he can claim to know a lot about Jimin; about the faces he makes in his sleep and the little noise between a yawn and a grumble that he makes whenever he's stirred. He knows that Jimin is strong and masculine and perfectly capable of taking care of himself, that he's an independent man with his own principles and ideals. He knows of Jimin’s kindness; his gentleness and his patience. His willingness to give.

Their love isn't loud. It isn't a raucous or reckless affair. Their relationship had been a garden; once filled with infatuation, and slowly tended to bear the fruits of something far more intimate.

"I love you too," Jimin murmurs back— Soft but firm, truth ringing like a clear bell in his tone. He's speaking like he's trying to make up for lost time, like the past few months had culminated in a desperation for him to echo the words and speak them into Yoongi's ear like a mantra. "So much."

It hasn't been a long time since they've met, but… "I don't have a big house," Yoongi tells Jimin, staring up at the ceiling as he drags the tips of his fingers up and down the slope of the younger's back. "If we're talking money, the Blinders don't keep much for ourselves either— There's a chance you could be in danger, if you want to stay by my side."

Silently, Jimin looks up at Yoongi.

"You have a life here, and I know that," the elder adds, quiet and calm. He feels Jimin shifting in his arms before he rests his chin between Yoongi's collarbones. "You have a job – one that you love – and friends here in London. I know it may be selfish for me to ask this of you, but I also know that you'd be upset if I don't."

(Non sum quails eram. Everything after Verdun is extra, Yoongi doesn't want to regret a thing.)

"When I leave," Yoongi murmurs, closing his eyes with a small smile, "would you come back to Birmingham with me?"

Jimin's silent for a beat before he burrows under the sheets with a snuffle. "… I was always going to come," he mumbles, voice muffled against the fabric of Yoongi's shirt, "you dummy."

Chuckling with mirth and warm with happiness, Yoongi wraps his arms around his lover and holds him tight. He isn't sure he can claim to know a lot about love. But he can claim to know a lot about Jimin, and maybe at the end of the day, those things are one and the same.

It's enough. It had been, and always will be, enough.

 

 

10.05.1919
London, Camden Town, The Solomons Bakery

Yoongi had let his guard down.

He's not even halfway through the doors to Solomons' bakery before he's clocked upside the head with a shovel, and he tumbles to the ground.

"Right then," Solomons drawls derisively, his left boot coming to a stop just shy of Yoongi's nose on the ground. "Take him downstairs, boys, and bandage his head; I don't want any backstabbing cow-fuckers dying on me before they get their just desserts."

"Yes, sir."

"And bring me the fuckin' whore," Solomons adds callously, turning his glass over in the air and dousing Yoongi's inflicted wound with whiskey. Hissing in pain, the younger grits his teeth and pants harshly into the ground. "I won't tell you what'll happen if we're disturbed, but I can guarantee you won't wanna find out."

Feeling blood trickling down the side of his face, Yoongi's vision flickers in and out. He's dragged by his legs through the distillery before he's hauled to his feet by his arms at a landing. "I'll kill you," he grunts, disoriented and dizzy even as he tries to fight Solomons' men off. Whoever had hit him had gone ham with that shovel, and he's already blacking out. "Y-You'll fucking regret this—"

"No," a familiar voice says from down the stairs, "it's you who'll regret that night at the Ophel."

'Braun,' Yoongi dimly registers. He's taken past the man, dragged to a basement with his toes brushing the stairs. "Fuck," he wheezes at the bastard under his breath, squeezing one of his eyes shut as blood trickles over the lid, "you."

Braun spits scathingly. "Blinder cunt," he cusses in parting, clearly pleased as he climbs back up to the distillery to meet with Solomons on the landing. "You'll get what you deserve."

Yoongi blacks out.



"Please, I didn't k-know— He didn't know, I—"

'I know that voice,' Yoongi thinks dimly, cracking his eyes open. Dried blood flakes off the crease of his left eyelid, and he dully registers the sight of Solomons across the room. He's waving a gun in the air, towering over—

"Sir, please," Jimin begs in a pitchy wail, his face streaked with tears as he shakes his head, hands bound behind his back. His knees are bloody and bruised from kneeling, his face pallid. The pout of his lips, usually so soft and glossed, are bloodless— There's a split, near the corner of his mouth. "W-We never talked about anything to do with his work, I swear—"

Against all of his better judgement, Yoongi's body reacts on instinct. He thrashes wildly, belatedly realizing that his arms have been bound backwards around a pillar. "SOLOMONS!" He roars, ignoring the way his wrists burn against thick barreling rope. Eyes wild, he pants when the man turns to blinks at him, having the nerve to play innocent. "You fucking bastard—"

"Yoongi!" Jimin cries, straining towards him. He's stopped when Solomons clocks him sideways in the head, making Yoongi yell as the dancer tumbles to the ground in a heap.

"JIMIN!"

"I'm the fuckin' bastard?" Solomons laughs, throwing his head back and laughing at the ceiling. Lifting his gun to his head, he scratches at his temple with the barrel. "You cow-fuckin' lot have the nerve to play nice with Braun and the coppers to take over my – MY! – fuckin' bakery, and I'M the bastard?"

"Leave him the fuck alone," Yoongi glowers through grit teeth, still straining against the ropes that have him bound to the pillar. He can feel his skin tearing, but he can't help it— Can't tamp down the desire to protect Jimin that rests bone-deep in his body. He can't lose him— Can't lose his lower, not now. Not when he's finally – finally – found him. It's all about keeping Solomons' attention on himself now; averting it from Jimin. "Let him fucking go. He has nothing to fucking do with us."

"You should learn not to touch things that ain't yours, mate— My fuckin' licenses, my fuckin' bakery and my fuckin' working men," Solomons breathes harshly, dipping his body and wrenching a hand into Jimin's hair. The dancer whimpers in pain, his head pulled back as his mouth parts around a coarse whisper of Yoongi's name. "Come to think of it, you didn't know, did you? That I own the Ophel."

Freezing, Yoongi gapes at Solomons.

"Right, right… Not many people do, see; it's a secret— Can't have that fuckin' wop Sabini finding out, or he'll fuckin' get in here guns blazin', yeah?" Solomons grins, shrugging almost nonchalantly. "But hey, I got in a bit of wordplay too, too, right? Real fuckin' biblical, mate." Holding Jimin's head up, he shakes the younger like he's holding up a limb doll. "Think about it, huh? Or what, do you Gypsy types piss on the bible for fun these days?"

Solomons.

Ophel.

Makeba of Sheba.

'Fuck,' Yoongi thinks, biting down hard on his lower lip as Jimin sobs, trembling with fear. 'Fuck, fuck, fuck.'

"But anyways. Seeing as I do technically have the rightful ownership of the fuckin' place and all," Solomons continues seamlessly, staring off into the distance with half-lidded eyes like he's a villain in a B-rated movie, "maybe you should have kept your filthy Gypsy hands off my fuckin' whore, too."

Yoongi snarls. Splinters tear into his arms as he bares his teeth at Solomons, beyond fucking pissed. "Don't fucking call him that, you son of a bitch—"

Solomons roughly releases Jimin, causing the dancer to yelp as he collapses on the floor once more. "Fuck's sake," he laughs breathlessly, cocking his head at Yoongi disbelievingly. "You really fell for the slut? I didn't wanna fuckin' believe it, mate – really, hand to god, I didn't – but just how stupid do you boys get, down on the lot?"

Fuck. Fuck, this is very, very bad. Yoongi can't get free, and Solomons is a psycho; he doesn't know how long he can keep Jimin safe from this lunatic with his words alone. How long has he been out like a light? How long has it been since he'd been dragged down here? Will Namjoon figure out anything wrong? Will Seokjin, or Hoseok, or Taehyung? Judging by the state of Jimin's knees, it's been a while, but…

"What do you want," he asks Solomons, mouth dry as the fucker draws nearer to him. When there's no further response, save for the elder staring at him like he's a particularly unsightly stain on the bottom of his shoe, Yoongi loses it. "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT!?" He shouts, eyes blown wide as Jimin starts to cry, curled up into a ball on the ground.

"Right, right. Let's see here, right?" Solomons hums, sinking into a squat in front of Yoongi. Staring at him, the fucking lunatic nods slowly, like he's turning something over in his head. "Yeah," he says eventually, soft and quiet as he points the gun at the center of Yoongi's forehead. "Alright, I've thought about it. How about you fuckin' kill yourself, mate?"

What. What? "What?" Because what.

"Get creative," Solomons suggests, tapping his index finger against his temple as he toys with the gun in his other hand. "Thought you were being a clever boy when you lot from the north tried to play me, right? I'm sure you can think of something."

"Don't fuck with me," Yoongi bites back, his hands clenching into fists behind the pillar. Fuck, if he could just get a little loose— "You're a fucking lunatic. Even if I died, you're just gonna fucking kill him right after—"

Shrugging, Solomons turns and shoots Jimin in the knee.

Screaming, the dancer wails as his body spams in response to the pain.

"JIMIN!" Yoongi roars, tearing hard at the ropes. He dislocates his wrist— He's not sure which one, and his shoulder burns with agony. Turning to Solomons, he bellows in anger. "YOU FUCKING PSYCHO!"

"I gave you an option, mate; s'not my fault you didn't fuckin' take it," Solomons points out, easy as anything as he gets to his feet with a sigh, walking over to Jimin. Whimpering and sobbing, the dancer falls back on his ass, squirming away from the man with the use of his good leg till he's pressed up against the nearest wall. "Offer stands, though— You kill yourself, I'll think about letting the whore go."

Yoongi watches in horror as Solomons stares down at Jimin, unbuttoning the front of his slacks.

"Let's see here, right?" The fucking asshole murmurs, glancing at Yoongi over his shoulders as he points his gun at Jimin. "Maybe this'll get your creative juices running— You," Solomons refers to Jimin flatly, pulling down his boxers and letting his semi-hard cock out in front of the dancer's face, "open your mouth—"

"SOLOMONS!" Yoongi barks, growling. He's losing his fucking mind; there's warm blood trickling over his fingers from the ropes that have cut into his wrists, but he couldn't care less. Jimin is shaking his head, crying as he begs for Solomons to stop, and the rage that's built in Yoongi is truly something he's never felt before— Not even at Verdun and Somme. "I'LL KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING HEAR ME!? LAY ONE FINGER ON HIM AND I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU!"

"Here, I'll make it easy for you too," Solomons smiles, the twist of his mouth sickening as he speaks to Jimin. Lifting his gun, he points it back at Yoongi— The dancer sobs even harder as he lowers his head, shaking. "Ah, youth," the psychopath sings, looking down his nose at Jimin as he laughs balefully. "It's always easier when they're in love…"

Meeting Yoongi's eyes, Jimin's lower lip wobbles.

Then he turns to Solomon's closing his eyes.

Opening his mouth.

With all the strength he has in his body, Yoongi brings his head down as far as it'll go before slamming it back against the pillar he's been tied to. Pain explodes at the back of his skull, and he yells in agony as Jimin hysterically screams his name— The wound under the haphazard bandaging someone had done for him earlier splits open, and he almost immediately feels blood trickling down the back of his neck.

Beaming, Solomons lifts his eyebrows at Yoongi. "Well, what do you know?" He says cheerfully, cocking his head with an amused chuckle. "You found a way, didn't you? All it takes is a little motivation—"

"D-Don't," Yoongi slurs, slumping forward as Jimin cries like a child, chanting his name like a mantra, "touch 'im— 'll do… Anything—"

The door to the basement slams open.

Solomons immediately loses his good humor, scowling as both Jimin and Yoongi's heads turn towards the door. "What the fuckin'—"

"You are both two hours late to our dinner reservation," Seokjin announces to the room at large, checking his watch as Hoseok and Taehyung hold up their guns, bracketing Namjoon. "Upon confirming Jimin was not at the lounge, we'd suspected something was wrong."

"We've come to pick you up," Namjoon adds, glancing between Jimin and Yoongi before he rests his steely gaze on Solomons. Eyes hardening, his lips thin to a line. "We apologize for the delay."

Lifting his gun, Solomon cusses and makes to fire right at their leader.

Yoongi is out of it. He's lost too much blood and he can barely keep his head up – every part of his body is screaming at him – but he's belatedly told that several things had happened simultaneously at this time:

1. Jimin bites the head of Solomon's cock off to ensure he doesn't shoot Namjoon, spitting it out at the man's feet before he throws himself towards Yoongi.
2. Taehyung and Hoseok fire a shot each; one goes right through Solomons' hand, making him drop the gun, and the other goes through his leg, which makes him drop to one knee with a scream.
3. Seokjin rounds Solomons with his characteristic grace, kicking the man's back with all of his strength and then bearing his full weight down on the bastard till he's flat on the ground.
4. Namjoon approaches Solomons, sinking down into a squat in front of him and removing his cap.

Wailing, Jimin drags himself towards Yoongi with the use of his good leg, nuzzling against his throat. "Yoongi," he sobs with blood running down his chin, violently shaking as Hoseok rushes over with a knife in hand to free the both of them from their restraints. "Yoongi… Yoongi…"

"Baby," Yoongi whispers, on the brink of blacking out again. He feels the ropes around his wrists loosening, and his arms flop down to his sides, dangling uselessly. "Baby, 'm sorry… 'm so sorry—"

"No, it's not your fault, it's not," Jimin babbles through his weeping, bringing his hands to cup Yoongi's face the second he's cut free. "S'not your fault, please, d-don't say that—"

Fuck. Fuck, everything really fucking hurts. "Your leg," Yoongi says hoarsely, wincing as he slumps against the pillar, using every last bit of energy he has to throw his arms around Jimin. "Your knee, it—"

"It's okay, it'll be okay—"

"This is the way it should be," Namjoon is saying in the meantime, looking down at Solomons. There isn't a shred of humanity in his eyes for the bastard, and he lifts an eyebrow when the man tries to look up at him. "Taehyung, if you would."

Without missing a beat, Taehyung puts a bullet through Solomon's ear, cleanly through the cartilage and into the ground.

Solomons yells, thrashing under the heel of Seokjin's loafer.

"It's just a little graze," Namjoon informs Solomons calmly, putting his cap into the inner pocket of his coat before he rests his elbows on his knees, lacing his fingers between them. "Don't be such a child."

Shrugging off his jacket and stripping out of his outer shirt, Hoseok grimly begins to tear at the fabric. "Hold still— I've got a bottle of water; I'm going to wash some of the blood out of your hair," he murmurs to Yoongi, even though the elder can't find it within himself to move, even if he wanted to. "I'm going to bandage your head properly, and then Jimin's knee. Once we're out of here, we'll take you both to the hospital."

Gritting his teeth, Yoongi kisses the top of Jimin's head, watching Namjoon deal with Solomons as he endures Hoseok swiping a wet bundle of fabric over the open wound at the back of his skull. His lover's eyes are fluttering; clearly, the stress and fatigue caused by the past couple of hours is finally hitting him.

The psycho's flat out laughing; he's finally lost the plot, Yoongi guesses. "Get on with it, then," Solomons tells Namjoon, spitting on the ground at his feet with a crazed noise; something between a pitchy giggle and a wheeze. "Mr. Big Fuck Cow-Fucker; you're all the fuckin' same, and Sabini'll run you into the ground like the insects you are—"

"That remains to be seen," Namjoon corrects him primly, waving Taehyung over. The younger pulls out a switchblade, stepping on the back of Solomon's head to keep him still. "After all, you're still somewhat of a pest to him— I'm sure he'd appreciate you by way of a peace offering, and that should allow us to co-exist in each other's good graces for a while yet."

"What the fuck are you— Fuck off," Solomons snarls, flinching away from Taehyung as his left earlobe is taken between the younger's fingers. "What the FUCK, you cow-fucking— FUCK OFF!"

"That's right; I forgot to tell you," Namjoon murmurs, watching Taehyung. Frowning, he takes the switchblade from him, folding down the flat precision blade and flipping out a wood saw. Smiling approvingly, he returns the weapon. "I promised the Hughes a part of you," he informs Solomons pleasantly, resting his chin on the crest of his interlaced fingers. "So we'll be taking that, right before we hand you off to Sabini."

"I'm not going to die at the hands of that fuckin' wop," Solomons hisses, furious at the mere though. He tries to struggle upwards, but Seokjin doesn't let up, and Taehyung tugs on the psychopath's ear. "Let me go— FUCKIN' LET ME GO—"

"We're the Peaky fucking Blinders," Namjoon cusses harshly at Solomons, the biting lilt of the word so foreign on his tongue that it further emphasizes his disgust. "We don't let anyone go, and that'll be the last thing you learn in this lifetime."

Taehyung hums cheerfully. "Here I go," he sings, tugging hard on Solomon's ear and putting more of his weight on the man's head to keep him still. Yoongi thinks he hears a faint crack— Probably the psychopath's cheekbone fracturing. "I'll use the saw, since our precious leader wants me to…"

"Hoseok," Namjoon calls out, getting to his feet and dusting off his slacks, "I'm alright with letting Taehyung and Seokjin have the fun part. Since they must be in a lot of pain, let's take Yoongi and Jimin to the hospital."

Nodding quickly, Hoseok knots a band of fabric over Yoongi's temple to secure it in place. "Let me wrap Jimin's leg before we go— I think he's asleep now, so it won't hurt as much."

"Alright; make it quick." Calmly ignoring Solomons' screams in the background as Taehyung saws off his left ear, Namjoon sinks onto the ground in front of Yoongi on one knee. "I was careless, not having looked into Jimin and the people around him," he says severely, cupping the back of his older brother's neck as he stares at the ground. "Forgive me."

Too weak to shake his head, Yoongi just struggles to keep his eyes open with a groan of disapproval.

"Well… You're just going to tell me I'm taking too much blame onto my shoulders once you have the strength, so I thought I'd apologize now," Namjoon smiles bitterly, his other hand clenching into a fist on the ground. After a beat, he loosens his fingers so that they play on the uneven flooring. "Rest," he tells Yoongi gently, leaning in and resting his forehead on the elder's shoulder. "We'll take it from here, brother."

And Yoongi finally closes his eyes, doing just that.

 

 

15.05.1919
London, Mayfair, Seokjin's Manor

"You're taking too much blame on your shoulders, fuckwit," Yoongi croaks from the bed, literally the second he spots Namjoon at the door. Jimin lifts his head from the elder's chest, glancing over and smiling tiredly in greeting. "I finally managed to kick Seok and Tae out, and now you're here to bother me? Some resting place this is, doll; I told you we should've stayed at the hospital."

"You would have complained about staying at the hospital; they don't let you smoke." Chuckling sheepishly, Namjoon approaches the bed. "Hello, Yoongi. Jimin."

"Hello," Jimin says softly, curled into Yoongi's side.

Having suffered a bone fracture, the dancer had to undergo two surgeries— Healing from the aftereffects and getting use to movement again will take some time; for the most part, he's exhausted just trying to stay chipper throughout the day. Sometimes he succeeds…

More often than not, he ends up crying from the pain and the horrible thought that he'll never walk normally again, let alone dance.

Yoongi feels for him; really, he does. He thinks he'll carry the guilt of putting Jimin in so much danger for the rest of his life— He's also sworn to make sure it never fucking happens again. "So?" He grunts at Namjoon and Seokjin, watching them both settle into the armchairs next to the bed. If he can't cheer his lover up given his own poor condition, he'll settle for distracting him. "What's the word on our present to Sabini?"

"He seems happy enough with it, so I think we can officially declare our takeover of Camden Town and Solomons' assets a success," Namjoon starts, interlacing his fingers on his knee as his lips quirk with amusement. Turning to Jimin, his eyes soften. " I believe our temporary truce with the Sabini family has been solidified— He was particularly appreciative of the fact that you partially castrated Solomons, even under duress."

Ducking his head with a shy smile, Jimin burrows his nose against the slope of Yoongi's collarbone.

"The doctors who came to check up on you have recommended that you should both remain bedridden for the next couple of days," Seokjin adds, holding up an envelope with an official seal from the hospital, "but they're confident that with help, you'll be able to manage the journey back to Small Heath by the end of the week."

'Right,' Yoongi thinks, closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath. Against all odds – against all of their expectations – Jimin's agreed to come home with him, even after everything that's happened with Solomons. He doesn't fucking know why, but he isn't going to jinx it when he couldn't be happier with the younger's decision; he's also prepared to kill anything and anyone who even looks at his lover the wrong way, forever and ever, amen.

"Hoseok, Taehyung and I will stay till then, so that we can help with taking you both back to Birmingham," Namjoon continues, his face gentling when Jimin blinks at him. "And don't worry; they've already boxed all of your things from the attic at the Ophel lounge— I've confirmed it with my own two eyes, and nothing has been left behind."

Relaxing, Jimin sighs.

"I'm gonna need a bigger wardrobe for you," Yoongi murmurs at the younger, trying for teasing. It comes off a little tired, but Jimin still wrinkles his nose petulantly— Cute. "All of your clothes and your shiny little things will have to stay boxed for a while."

"No."

"No— Doll, be reasonable."

"No."

"I'll call someone back in Small Heath to begin building a cabinet," Namjoon laughs, holding up his hands placatingly. Jimin perks up a little, looking at him with a small smile curving his lips. "I'll tell them to build a dresser too, since Yoongi doesn't have one."

"I never needed one," Yoongi grouses, pecking Jimin on the forehead when the younger frowns at him disapprovingly. "Why would you think I had one? Stop being such a baby."

"Never," Jimin pouts, nuzzling against the column of Yoongi's neck with a sniff.

Fucking CUTE. "I'd appreciate it," Yoongi deadpans, turning to Namjoon, "if you could replace my sofa with one that's more comfortable. With Jimin being as bratty as he is, I can see myself being in the doghouse more often than I'd like."

"So a wardrobe and a kennel," Namjoon says serenely, trying to keep a straight face when Yoongi scowls at him and Jimin just giggles. "I'll relay your orders to our people…"

"We shouldn't stay too long," Seokjin reminds their leader at this point, glancing at his watch. Shooting Jimin and Yoongi an apologetic look, he shakes his head. "With everything that's happened with Solomons and our newly christened alliance with the Sabini family, there's tons to do… I'm afraid we'll have to take our leave very soon."

"I could call Hoseok and Taehyung back in on our way out," Namjoon suggests mischievously, laughing when Yoongi bristles. "I'm sure they'd be more than happy to entertain the both of you."

"Please, fuck, god, no," Yoongi begs, groaning at the mere thought. "Just send them back to Small Heath already— Tae keeps trying to cut my hair in my sleep, and Seok's been doing nothing but tell us about how many people he's slept with since he's gotten here."

"It's an impressive number," Jimin pipes up, making Namjoon lift an eyebrow. "He must've visited a sex den."

"Hoseok visited a sex den?" Namjoon and Seokjin repeat after him at the same time, the former with curiosity and the latter with disgust.

Scowling at the pair, Yoongi grumbles and hugs Jimin closer, annoyed. "Sure," he huffs, closing his eyes and pettily ignoring the pair of them as he turns on his side. "Sure; as much as we know Seok thinks with his dick, let's focus on that instead of the fact that Tae's trying to shave my fucking head."

"I think you'd look quite good, actually," Seokjin muses, darting to his left when Yoongi tosses an extra pillow at it. It misses the elder, deflating sadly on the floor after a brief flight. "You missed me—"

"I'll kill you, you fucking old nag—"

"Old— There's no need to be rude. Besides, I'm only a year older than you, so you're really calling yourself—"

"I'm excited," Namjoon says abruptly, completely apropos of nothing. When Yoongi and Jimin turn to him with unasked questions in their eyes, he lets out a slow breath. "For us to go home," he clarifies softly, averting his gaze and looking out of the window. "… All of us, together."

Silently, Jimin stares at the back of Namjoon's head. After a beat, he turns to Yoongi before pink rises to the apples of his cheeks, and he smiles.

That's as good an answer as any. "Yeah," Yoongi murmurs, craning his neck a little brush his lips against Jimin's in a chaste little kiss. Looking at his younger brother's back, he can't help but admire how broad Namjoon's shoulders have become— How reassuring it is to stand behind him, and how easy it is to want the same things he does. "Yeah, Nams."

'Let's go home.'

 

 

19.05.1919
Birmingham, Small Heath, Yoongi's Apartment

"Well," Jimin murmurs, looking around as he takes in a deep breath, "the good news is that for now, I like how small it is— This way, I won't have far to go if I need something."

The last of the boxes have been moved in, and they've finally been left alone. Jimin's on crutches to put less weight on his bad leg— Even though he's been undergoing some physical therapy, he'll have a couple of months left on them, before the doctors deem it absolutely safe for him to walk on his own.

Yoongi watches his lover sink down onto the bed, setting his crutches aside. "I'll put those away," he says immediately, making to spring to his feet before Jimin's hand on his gives him pause.

"Relax."

He'll never say no to Jimin again. Obediently, Yoongi relaxes.

A couple of minutes go by before the younger speaks again. "It's quite lovely," he tells Yoongi with a small smile, earnest and honest. Leaning against him, Jimin closes his eyes. "Really. I hadn't known what to expect, but it's so lived in and everything about this place… It's so you, and I love it."

From the shitty couch in his living room to the kettle he uses to boil water, everything in Yoongi's house is mismatched. They're bits and pieces he'd collected over the years to fulfil his needs; there's no aesthetic value in anything he owns. Still, Yoongi supposes Jimin has a point— The utilitarian manner in which he'd made a home for himself in this shoebox apartment is a testament as to who he is as a person.

"Thank you," Jimin breathes, turning his head to press a kiss to the side of Yoongi's neck, "for taking me away from London."

There are too many bad things there for Jimin to have an attachment to the city now. Yoongi understands that – is relieved by that, really – but he can't help but feel entirely responsible for it. There's a shitty taste in his mouth, thinking about it that way. "I love you," he whispers into the air, turning his own head and brushing his lips against the younger's temple. "I would take you anywhere and everywhere I go, if you'd let me."

Jimin doesn't respond, save for a pleased little hum. Eventually, though, he makes a muffled noise of irritation. "My knee is aching," he huffs a little sadly, cracking an eye open as he starts to massage the bone of it with a wince. "Do you think it could be the weather…?"

"Maybe." Glancing out the window, Yoongi frowns at the sky; it's darkened significantly since Namjoon, Hoseok and Taehyung have left for their own homes. Straightening up, he pulls Jimin into his arms with a grunt. "You want me to get you some painkillers? I think Nams left 'em in the living room, on the mantelpiece."

Shaking his head against the curve of Yoongi's shoulder, Jimin frowns. "The doctor said I should try not to rely on those," he says stubbornly, putting out his lower lip, "so I won't take them unless I have to."

Such a trooper. "What do you want to do now?" Yoongi asks quietly, running a hand down Jimin's back and trying to soothe him through the pain. "Do you want to take a nap? Are you hungry?" He can't personally cook worth a damn, but he could at least manage a run to the good deli across town.

"It's too early for dinner," Jimin points out, sagging against Yoongi bonelessly. Muffling his words into the elder's sweater, he pouts. "I don't know… It'd be inconvenient to go out again in the crutches, too…"

"Hmm." Glancing around his bedroom, Yoongi spots something that could work. "Hey, give me a second."

Sitting up, Jimin watches the elder get up. "Wow," he laughs eventually, in disbelief. "How could I not have seen that, having come in here? It's beautiful."

"I got it from the market one Sunday, where people were selling their used goods." Fondly, Yoongi smooths a hand over the gramophone in the corner of his room. He'd taken the trouble to restore it, but he can't remember the last time he'd used it— Hopefully, the vinyls he has are still in good condition. "It was a good steal, all things considered; I got a few records off the same seller, too."

"You're a bargaining man?" Jimin shakes his head, giggling into his hands as Yoongi finds one that he thinks the younger will like. "Why don't I find that surprising?"

"Because you know me too well; I like getting what I want." Carefully placing the vinyl on the turntable, Yoongi chuckles. Music fills the room; soft at first, and then swelling in volume as he turns to face his lover. Approaching Jimin, he holds out a hand and lifts an eyebrow meaningfully.

Abruptly faced with the invitation, Jimin's face falls.

It's no secret that the younger fears never being able to dance again. The doctors have told them that Jimin has a high chance of full recovery, but it's something that his lover still fears will not be the case— Yoongi knows that. "Doll," he pleads softly, keeping his hands completely still, "please."

"I can't," Jimin whispers, chewing on his lower lip nervously as he stares at his knees. His eyes grow a little wet, and it makes Yoongi's heart break. "… I— I'm scared…"

"I know." Turning it over in his head, Yoongi tries to come up with an alternative… Something else he could try, to put Jimin's mind at ease. Eventually, he settles on an idea, and he moves purposefully between the younger's knees. "Here," he prompts, putting one foot forward, bending over to help Jimin stand, "just hold onto me."

"Yoongi, wait—"

"Trust me."

Eventually, they get there; it takes a little more maneuvering, but Jimin's held up firmly by Yoongi's arms, and his feet are atop the elder's. "Wait," he pleads, eyes wide with worry. "Stop, really, I'm too heavy! You're going to hurt yourself—"

"Shh; you're light." As the record spins on, Yoongi focuses on the beat— Tries to remember how it had felt like, dancing with Jimin in his attic about a month ago. He isn't the best, but he tries; clumsily stepping from front to back, and side to side. "You're too conscious about your weight; I think you could stand to eat more."

"You're just being nice."

"You're in Small Heath now, doll," Yoongi reminds the younger drily, swaying to the slow jazz he doesn't recognize that's coming off his own record. Jesus; with Jimin here, he hopes his gramophone will get more use. "No one's nice."

"You're nice," Jimin murmurs, finally putting his arms around Yoongi and relaxing a little as he allows himself to be taken around the bedroom. There's a soft curve to his lips, and the elder has to tamp down the urge he has to kiss him, lest it interrupt his lover. "You, and Namjoon and Hoseok and Taehyung and Seokjin… You're all nice."

"That's what we want you to believe."

"That's who you are." Leaning back a little, Jimin brushes his forehead against Yoongi's and smiles, closing his eyes. "I love you," he breathes, soft and sweet as he brings their bodies closer, flush from shoulder to hip. "I'll get better, and I'll be stronger. I won't let you worry about me, because I can take care of myself."

Incorrect; Yoongi's always going to worry about Jimin. He gets the sentiment, though, and his arms tighten around the younger's waits. "I love you too," he replies under his breath, so fucking thankful they met— So fucking thankful he'd been brave enough to love. "So fucking much, you wouldn't believe. I'll always take care of you."

They swayed to the music, the patter of rain on Yoongi's windows serving to add another layer to the song.

('This,' Yoongi thinks, so, so sure of himself with Jimin in his arms that it almost hurts, 'is only the beginning.')