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p.s. i love you

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on the first day of classes—the last first day of classes, and it sets him on edge, leaves him nervous and relieved at the same time—yoongi receives a letter.

he’s halfway out of the door already, pulling on a coat with a piece of toast in his mouth because somehow, even after three years of university, he never learns how to be on time for classes. he blames it on the summer, on having too much freedom and sleeping in too often; he’s not used to 8:30 classes or wearing actual clothes or making a good impression for his professors. then again, as a fourth year student, he doubts the professors will be expecting much.

anyway—he’s halfway out of the door already when seokjin chucks something at him.

“mail,” says the elder, wandering by in his pajamas and a bowl of cereal in his hands—the joys of not being a college student anymore—and yoongi’s hand automatically catches the object against his chest. it’s an envelope with his name on it in loopy handwriting, as well as his address—his childhood address, back in daegu. then his current address written in his mother’s handwriting, a clear rerouting. yoongi’s eyebrows furrow as he checks the return address and sees a name that he vaguely recognizes. or—knew well at one point, but maybe doesn’t anymore. something about distance and time.

“what’s this?” he asks, as though seokjin would know, but the other has already wandered off into the kitchen and is loudly singing some made up tune about not being stuck in the hell of essays and classes. yoongi, seeing the time again, stuffs the rest of his toast into his mouth and takes off out of the house.

on the bus, he opens the envelope to discover it’s a letter. the handwriting looks to be that of a twelve-year-old’s, but that’s not what has his eyebrows furrowing. it’s what’s in the letter that confuses him, checking and re-checking the name and the signature at the bottom as he grows impossibly confused the more he reads it.

by the time the bus is at his stop, yoongi almost has it memorized—i haven’t been able to stop thinking about the kiss. i know it wasn’t a real kiss, since it was just on the cheek, but it makes my heart do funny things anyway. you’re the cutest boy i’ve ever seen, and i think that’s saying something because i know a lot of cute boys.

it’s—true, maybe. he remembers the kiss, too, although it had been something like six years ago and has been stored away in the vague adolescent memories he has and would probably rather forget. there’s the one where seokjin ran over his foot with a car, and the one where he thought it would be a good idea to shave half of his head to look cool but only ended up looking like he’d gotten into a bad fight with a raccoon.

but it’s been—six years, or something close to it. yoongi isn’t fifteen anymore. and he doesn’t have time to worry about it, anyway, as he steps off the bus and heads for his first class of the day, of the semester. he stuffs the letter in his backpack and puts it out of his mind, although the name jeon jeongguk rings in his mind during his first class, and his second. for the rest of the day.

love, jeongguk, it said. p.s. i love you. before that: you probably don’t like me the way i like you, but that’s okay. i can wait.

he puts it out of his mind, as best as he can, because it doesn’t make much sense. he has classes to attend and focus on, especially since it’s his last year—he doesn’t need ghosts creeping up on him, pressing in where they shouldn’t be. jeongguk was always just that kid that hung around he and seokjin when they were in high school, because he was seokjin’s neighbour. and yoongi liked him enough, but—he hadn’t thought jeongguk liked him like that. they haven’t spoken much in the three years since yoongi graduated, anyway, so he doesn’t get it. doesn’t get it now.

he forgets about it for a few days. and then, because of course—he runs into jeongguk on campus.

literally—kind of. yoongi is leaving the arts building when jeongguk is coming in, and their shoulders collide in the mismatch. yoongi stumbles a little before turning to snap, only to see—“jeongguk?” he asks, and the other turns to look at him, eyes wide with surprise. it has been three years—jeongguk is taller, skinnier. still has the same eyes, though.

“yoongi-hyung,” says jeongguk, standing in the doorway to the building.

“you go to school here now?” asks yoongi, an easy grin curling on his lips. jeongguk cried, he thinks, when seokjin graduated and left for college, and then when yoongi did, too.

jeongguk’s cheeks are pink, for some reason. he ducks his head a little, moving out of the way of another student trying to get into the building—stepping closer to yoongi—and nods his head. “yeah, first year,” he says. “everything is so new.”

“yeah, it can be pretty scary,” admits yoongi. “but you’re a smart kid. i’m sure you’ll be fine.” it’s been three years. he can still remember the kid that jeongguk was, too eager to follow after yoongi and seokjin, and then he thinks of—the letter. the kiss that wasn’t much of a kiss at all, more a press of yoongi’s lips to jeongguk’s cheek on his birthday, once, because jeongguk asked. and who was he to deny someone with that kind of heart?

yoongi tries to see—whatever jeongguk said in the letter. the crush he was talking about, how he’d wait. but he doesn’t, and despite the way jeongguk is looking back at the door like he’s eager to get somewhere else, he can’t help but ask, “did you… send me a letter the other day?”

jeongguk’s eyes snap to his, wide. confused. “what?”

“a letter,” says yoongi, and then slips off his backpack so he can dig around in it to find the piece of paper. when he does find it, he holds it out between them, but jeongguk just. stares. “it came a few days ago. and like—i mean, it’s flattering, i guess? but i just broke up with my girlfriend and you’re nice and cute and all, but it’s just not good timing, i think?”

jeongguk is still staring at the letter.

“i’m sorry,” adds yoongi after a moment. “i don’t want to hurt your feelings, but i just want to be honest with you. that it’s not a good idea. also… do you really think my eyes have the whole universe in them?”

“oh my god,” whispers jeongguk.

“i’ll take that… as a yes?”

“oh my god.” finally, jeongguk snatches the letter out of his hand, reading it over almost furiously. yoongi is still confused, although—he’s more worried that jeongguk is going to be embarrassed. “i didn’t—oh my god. hyung. i didn’t—mean. what the fuck.

“look,” says yoongi again. “we can be friends, if you want? now that we’re… actually in the same city again.”

“this isn’t—” jeongguk begins, finally lifting his gaze to yoongi’s. there’s fear in it, and desperation. he’s panicking, yoongi realizes. “i wrote this when i was twelve. how did it—oh my god.”

yoongi squints a little. “i thought the writing looked a little young,” he admits. “why did you send it now if you wrote it like, six years ago, though?”

“i didn’t send it,” says jeongguk, voice vaguely shrieky—“i didn’t—i swear i didn’t send this.”

“it has your return address on it.”

“i kept it in a box. in my closet. with the—oh fuck.” it looks like jeongguk is having a terrible, horrible revelation. and yoongi is still confused. it sounds like jeongguk used to have a crush on him and wrote a letter about it, but never intended to send it, although it was sent—which isn’t that big of a deal, really, other than all of the embarrassment and awkwardness it’s bringing. yoongi didn’t want this to be their first conversation after three years, but there’s nothing he can do about it now.

“so… you don’t have a crush on me?” asks yoongi tentatively.

“no, i don’t have a crush on you!” shrieks jeongguk. “i don’t know how this got mailed to you. i didn’t even put stamps on them.”

and yoongi—pauses. “them?” he asks.

but jeongguk isn’t looking at him anymore. he’s looking past yoongi’s shoulder, eyes widening impossibly—jeongguk always had those big eyes, and he used to use them for evil all of the time. he could get anything out of anyone if he pouted hard enough. and that’s—weird to think about now, maybe, when it looks like jeongguk is going through a crisis. the younger swears under his breath, and yoongi glances over his shoulder just long enough to spot someone else he vaguely recognizes, one of seokjin’s friends—kim namjoon, or something. he’s walking in their direction, something that looks suspiciously like an envelope in his hand.

and then there are hands on yoongi’s face, turning him back around, and all he sees is jeongguk’s desperate expression before—jeongguk kisses him.

it’s—definitely not the best kiss yoongi has ever had. jeongguk presses his lips too hard against yoongi’s, too quickly, too rough—yoongi doesn’t do anything for three, four, five seconds as he’s shocked into silence, and then jeongguk relaxes just slightly. yoongi finds himself inexplicably pressing back, just for a second before he realizes what’s actually happening and lets out a protesting noise in the back of his throat.

he gets his hands between them, giving jeongguk to gentle shove. the other finally pulls back, hands still on either side of yoongi’s face, and yoongi stares at him, bewildered—but jeongguk is looking past him again. yoongi looks over his shoulder, and there’s kim namjoon, still in the middle of the sidewalk. he’s stopped walking, though, staring at them.

“what the fuck was that?” asks yoongi as he turns back around, and jeongguk only spares him a pained look and a, “sorry,” before he’s turning and running back into the arts building, away from the situation entirely. yoongi stands, blinking at the ground before he prods at his lips a little.

so—that was fucking weird.

by the time yoongi gets home, he has three missed calls and a slough of texts. he heaves a sigh as he drops his backpack on the sofa and then drops himself beside it; it was a strange bus ride home as he tried to understand what had happened with jeongguk—he doesn’t care much about the letter, because jeongguk had said himself that he no longer has a crush on yoongi. it’s the kiss that bothers him, especially because, well—he wouldn’t not kiss jeongguk. he’s always thought jeongguk was cute, but it’s been three years. they could have had least had a real conversation first.

checking his phone, yoongi’s mood plummets even further.

all of the missed calls and text messages (save for a few from seokjin about their fridge being empty) are from his girlfriend. ex-girlfriend as of a few weeks ago, and he knew he should have deleted her number. he calls her back anyway.

“min yoongi,” she says when she picks up, clearly upset.

“seoyeon,” he begins, already exasperated. he’s not in the mood to have any conversations with her, but he knows if he doesn’t have this conversation, she won’t stop texting him.

“what’s this i hear about you kissing someone else at school today?”

and—word travels fast. there weren’t even many other students around them when he and jeongguk were talking. maybe it was namjoon.

still. something defensive rises up in him. he broke up with seoyeon for a variety of reasons—not wanting to be in a relationship, for one thing, but also because she was always a little too clingy. she went through his text messages one too many times for his liking. so instead of denying it or explaining that it was all some weird misunderstanding, he just says, “yeah.”

seoyeon makes a huffing noise. “and why were you kissing someone else today?”

yoongi snorts. “because i can?” he asks. “we’re not dating anymore, seoyeon. i can kiss whoever the fuck i want.”

“yoongi—” she begins.

“no, listen. stop calling me. stop texting me. stop trying to butt into my life. we’re not together so i’m allowed to be with someone if i want.”

surprisingly, she doesn’t immediately argue. he knows she wants to, but instead—she asks, “is he your boyfriend? is that what this is? you’re already over me and moving onto someone prettier and younger?”

and that’s—not it. at all. but he thinks about seoyeon texting him every day and asking if he’s ready to get back together yet, and he thinks about seoyeon trying to seduce him because she thinks that if they can just sleep together one more time, he’ll change his mind. he thinks about all of the friendships she ruined because she was suspicious of everyone in yoongi’s life—something about his bisexuality, which was offensive to begin with.

yoongi hasn’t really liked her for a long, long time.

maybe it has to do with getting her off of his back, or just because he’s petty. or because she deserves it—anyway. anyway. she asks, is he your boyfriend?

yoongi replies, “what if he is?” and waits just long enough to hear the shocked gasp before he hangs up.

❤ ❤ ❤

jeongguk finds him in the library the next day, looking all sorts of panicked and apologetic as he comes to a stop beside the little table that yoongi claimed three hours ago. he’s not sure why he has so much homework and reading to do during the first week of classes, but—he’s stopped questioning things his professors do.

he notices the feet first, toes pointed in just slightly, and then his eyes move up and up until he comes to jeongguk’s face. yoongi takes out one of his earphones.

“hi,” says jeongguk.

“hello,” says yoongi, taking out the other earphone.

“d’you mind if i—” jeongguk gestures to the empty seat across from yoongi, and he gestures to it to say go ahead. it’s still strange to not have spoken to the younger for three years and now be plunged into some weird relationship where jeongguk used to have a crush on him and they kissed, although not for any romantic reason he can possibly think of. and jeongguk looks nervous as he sits, clasping and then unclasping his hands on top of the table before he just puts them in his lap.

“so,” begins yoongi, assuming jeongguk has something to say.

“i’m really sorry,” says jeongguk, and—ah. just what he expected. “for kissing you yesterday. that was totally inappropriate and i understand if you hate me, but i was just—namjoon-hyung—” he stops, like he’s trying to think through the words for once instead of just saying them. he gives a sigh, then, running a hand through his hair. “this is such a mess.”

yoongi, despite how much of a mess it all is, can’t help but be amused. “you wanna start from the beginning? explain the letter?”

“right,” says jeongguk. “it’s—it’s like i said. i wrote that letter to you when i was twelve because i did have a crush on you. and i put it in a box in my closet and i never intended for you to get it. and… i didn’t intend for anyone else to get theirs, either.”

“wait, you wrote more than one letter? and here i thought i was special.”

yoongi-hyung,” groans jeongguk, and yoongi laughs as jeomgguk aggressively rubs at his cheeks for just a second, like he’s waking himself up. “yes, i did write more than one. i wrote six, to be exact.”

six?” says yoongi. “jesus, you’re popular.”

“to be fair,” mutters jeongguk. “i have a lot of feelings and i develop crushes on people very easily. look, it’s—it’s just a whole thing. every time i get a crush, i write a letter about it to get all of my feelings out. it helps, okay?”

“i’m not judging you,” says yoongi, even though he’s judging him. just a little, though. “who were the others?”

jeongguk purses his lips. “you don’t need to know,” he says. “but—namjoon-hyung is one of them. and he’s the most recent one. like… i wrote the letter during the summer and i maybe might still have a crush on him, but it’s—awkward and complicated and—it’s just—”

“you’d rather not have to deal with him knowing?” asks yoongi. “especially because it wasn’t done on your own terms even though you wrote the letter?”

jeongguk sighs. “yeah,” he says. “i never wanted the letters to be sent. i was never going to tell any of you about my crushes, and especially not namjoon-hyung. but somehow, they did get sent so he does know and it’s… a mess. it’s a big fucking mess.”

to be honest, yoongi feels for him. it’s embarrassing and humiliating and awkward, especially if one of the crushes is recent. there’s nothing to be worried about with yoongi considering his letter was written years ago, but he has no idea when any of the other letters were written or who they were even written to. jeongguk might have a lot more confusion and awkward conversations to deal with.

“how did they get out in the first place, then?” asks yoongi.

“i think it was my little sister,” huffs jeongguk. “she wants me to get a boyfriend before—well. as soon as possible, i guess.”

yoongi snorts. “you have to love siblings,” he says. “she’s just trying to help.”

“there are reasons that i don’t have a boyfriend, hyung,” counters jeongguk. “i didn’t need any help.

“alright,” says yoongi, crossing his arms over his chest as he leans back in his chair. jeongguk looks so—pained. it’s sad to watch. “so i understand about the letters. now what about the kiss?”

this has jeongguk groaning, physically letting his head drop until it’s leaning against the table—which probably hasn’t been washed in a while and had suspicious and sticky substances on it before yoongi got here. he frowns a little, reaching out to poke the top of jeongguk’s head. “c’mon, guk-ah, i deserve an explanation. i’m not mad at you or anything, for what it’s worth. just confused. since you said you don’t have a crush on me anymore and then immediately kissed me, so i’m getting some mixed signals here.”

“i didn’t want namjoonie-hyung to see me,” is what jeongguk mumbles miserably, turning his head enough for yoongi to hear. “he was walking towards us and he had the letter and i just—panicked and didn’t want to have that conversation with him so i did the first thing i could think of. and that was kissing you.”

“why was that the first thing you thought of?”

“it’s what they do in the movies,” grumbles jeongguk.

“it’s what—” yoongi lets out a sigh, and then can’t help but chuckle. it’s so stupid. but in a weird way, it kind of makes sense. “this isn’t a movie, jeongguk-ah. you can’t just go around kissing people to get out of situations.”

“i know, hyung. i’m sorry.”

“i forgive you. although—” he thinks of seoyeon, her angry texts and phone calls. thinks of letting her believe that maybe he is dating jeongguk, just to get her off of his back all the time. he looks at jeongguk—with his face still pressed to the table, slumped over like he’d rather stay there and melt into the floor rather than face any of this alone. “it kind of helped me, actually.”

jeongguk looks up, finally, lifting his head (and his cheek is a little red, with something like a piece of lettuce stuck to it now) and giving yoongi a careful look. “how?”

“i told you i broke up with my girlfriend, right?” jeongguk nods. “she was pretty pissed when she heard i was kissing someone else. and i’m a petty person, so it was kind of nice to have her angry when she was always the one threatening to leave me for other people when we were together. i don’t want her to keep bothering me about getting back together.”

“so you… want me to keep kissing you?”

“no,” says yoongi. “you’re a lovely person, jeongguk, but i don’t want to keep kissing you.”

“oh.” he doesn’t—expect the crestfallen look on the boy’s face, eyes turning back to the sticky table again. the lettuce still hasn’t come off of his cheek. yoongi thinks of what jeongguk said only minutes ago—about writing letters to get his feelings out instead of just telling the person, about not wanting to deal with namjoon actually knowing he has a crush on him. it’s been three years, so yoongi might have missed big things in jeongguk’s life, but he still knew the kid back when he was just becoming a teenager, when all of his friends were getting interested in other people. and jeongguk never really did that. maybe he feels like he’s missing out.

“hey, guk-ah,” begins yoongi, careful this time—gentle. he reaches out and picks the lettuce off of jeongguk’s face, flicking it onto the floor. “do you want someone to kiss you? if you… talked to namjoon, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as you think it’ll be. he might like you back.”

jeongguk gives this pathetic little whine—he did that as a kid, too—and crosses his arms on top of the table, petulantly letting his head rest on them. he’s pouting something fierce and yoongi absolutely does not think it’s cute. “it’s not just that,” he admits quietly. “it’s just—i’ve never had a boyfriend before? i’ve had crushes, obviously, but i’ve never told anyone about them or let myself get close enough to someone to date them.”

“why not?”

there’s something in jeongguk’s eyes when he looks up—fear, a little. hesitation. but more than that—a secret. “it’s scary,” he says. “being vulnerable with someone. dealing with feelings and, i dunno—what if something goes wrong? you fight or you change feelings or something happens to one of you? i don’t like the unknown of it. i’d rather just control what happens, but i can’t. so i keep all of my feelings to myself, so they can’t mess anything up.”

in a way, yoongi can understand. relationships are scary and feelings are hard to deal with. and something usually does go wrong. his relationship with seoyeon is a testament to that—they’d only been dating for four months, but he did like her a lot at first. but they changed. yoongi got bored, seoyeon got obsessed. it wasn’t a good combination.

“i think lots of people feel like that,” he says, trying to helpful hyung advice despite the fact that it’s never been his strong suit. “but if you want a boyfriend to kiss you, you kind of have to do the feelings thing.”

“it’s not even the kissing that i want,” sighs jeongguk. “it’s the rest of it. all of the things you see in the movies—i love romantic movies, hyung, and all of the romantic speeches they give and the romantic gestures. why can’t someone love me like mr. darcy loves elizabeth bennett? why can’t i have john cusack carrying a boom box, playing my favourite song to make me fall in love?” he sighs again, his pout deepening. “i just want what they have in the movies and i don’t think i’ll get many chances in my life. why can’t i have that without all the feelings and vulnerability and possibility of something going wrong?”

yoongi—almost laughs. almost tells jeongguk that the point of all of the romantic speeches and gestures in the movies is the fact that they’re emotionally charged, built entirely on love and vulnerability and someone willing to take the risk of something going wrong in order to get something very, very right. but jeongguk looks so—sad. looks like he doesn’t think that he’s going to get it no matter how hard he tries.

but. he thinks about what jeongguk is really saying—he’s afraid to have a real boyfriend, for whatever reason. he just wants someone who will go through the motions with him, to fulfill his dreams so that, if he never gets another chance, at least he’ll have had this. and yoongi—yoongi already told seoyeon that he might be dating jeongguk, just to get her to shut up. she didn’t send him obsessive morning texts, so it might have worked. if there’s one thing that’s going to drive the nail into the coffin on that, it’s this.

yoongi gets an idea.

“what if…” he begins, licking his lips nervously. “what if you could? have all that without the possibility of something going wrong or emotions or whatever?”

“what do you mean?” asks jeongguk, lifting his head. his hair’s gotten into his eyes, all messy. “if there was a way, don’t you think i would have done it by now?”

“look. you want to have your movie moments and you don’t want to have to face namjoon and your crush, right?” asks yoongi. “and i don’t want to have to deal with my ex trying to get back together with me all the time. two birds with one stone, jeongguk-ah. why don’t we get together?”

jeongguk stares at him. “hyung,” he says, exasperated. “i already told you i don’t have—”

“a crush on me, i know,” says yoongi. “i didn’t mean actually get together. why don’t we pretend?”

“like… pretend we’re dating each other? we fake date each other?” he’s still staring, incredulous. and then yoongi sees something shift in his expression, eyes lighting up. “oh my god, it’s like in the proposal.

“well—not really. we’re not getting married—”

“oh my god, hyung, you’re a genius!” jeongguk perks right up, all smiles and bright eyes as he stares at yoongi, and yoongi—has a bad feeling about this. “that’s perfect! we can do all of my movie moments and i won’t have to worry about dying before i get all of them done the normal way.”

“jesus,” snorts yoongi. “you really think you’re not going to get a boyfriend before you’re eighty years old?”

jeongguk gives him a weird look, just for a moment. but then he’s smiling again, already digging in his backpack and bringing out a notebook and pen. he sets it between them, pushing yoongi’s three empty coffee cups out of the way to make room before he flips it open. “this is perfect,” he’s gushing. “i’ll get my romance movie and you won’t have to worry about your ex. it’s a win-win!”

“i’m glad you agree,” muses yoongi. “wait, what are you writing?”

“we need a contract,” says jeongguk, like it’s obvious. “lay down some rules about what we can and can’t do, and what is expected of this relationship.”

yoongi lets out a groan. he was expecting this to be simple, not involve paperwork—but jeongguk looks so fucking excited about all of it that he can’t help but give in, putting his laptop back into his own bag before he gestures for jeongguk to begin whatever ridiculous rules he’s excited to talk about.

“alright,” says jeongguk, scrawling THE CONTRACT on top of the page in massive, loopy letters. not so unlike the way he wrote yoongi’s name on the envelope, so there’s no doubt about who that was from. “for all intents and purposes, we’re an actual couple. which means we have to tell people that we’re a couple and make it somewhat obvious. we should hang out in public as much as possible. eat lunch together, maybe?”

“i don’t even have classes scheduled around lunch,” grumbles yoongi.

“social media, then,” says jeongguk. “we have to make a big fuss over social media. and you still have the hang out with me in public, or anyone who sees us won’t think it’s believable.”

yoongi has to give him that one, so he nods, letting jeongguk write the instructions on the paper for the contract.

“we have to act like a couple, too,” adds jeongguk, to which yoongi says—“handholding.”

“what?”

“you have to hold my hand,” he gestures to the paper, wanting jeongguk to write it down. “seoyeon was always mad that i didn’t want to show her a lot of physical affection in public, because i’m not big on pda. so if she sees you and i being touchy in public and on social media, she’ll get pissed off.”

“petty,” grins jeongguk, adding handholding onto the list. and maybe—that’s a little just for yoongi’s own well-being. he used to hold jeongguk’s hand sometimes when he was a kid, when they were crossing the street or something. maybe he kind of misses it.

“anything else on your end to keep your ex away?” asks jeongguk.

“i think that should be good,” says yoongi. “just making it really obvious that we’re together. rub it in her face a little.”

“good,” jeongguk draws a little line, beginning a new set of rules, presumably for his side of things. “now, there’s a list of movie moments that i’ve always wanted to re-enact that we absolutely have to do. i might come up with more along the way, but we can start with… these.” he scrawls out a small handful of things on the paper, turning it around for yoongi to see once he’s finished. the elder reads it over, eyebrows furrowing slightly.

“what the fuck is the lift from love 911?” he asks.

“you’ve never seen love 911?” gasps jeongguk, staring like yoongi has grown a third head. he shrinks a little.

“i don’t watch romance movies,” he argues.

“okay, new rule,” jeongguk snatches the notebook back, writing another rule under the list of movie moments he wants to re-enact. “we have to actually watch the movies you haven’t seen before we re-enact a scene. that way we can get it right and you don’t off script or something.”

“is that really necessary?” sighs yoongi. “that’s—so many movies! i don’t have time for this.”

“you’re supposed to be my boyfriend,” pouts jeongguk. “a good boyfriend would spend time with me and watch my favourite movies with me just because i want to. and it’s part of the contract that this is supposed to give me the experience of having a boyfriend so that i don’t have to worry about missing out on having one.”

yoongi—thinks of his readings, and his homework, and his movie nights with seokjin. they usually watch something comedic, if not an action movie, and now all of his weekends are going to be spent watching the same predictable shit about people falling in love. but—he does like jeongguk. it’ll be nice to spend more time with him, even if they’re just watching movies. he can spend the whole time bragging on social media about how in love with jeon jeongguk he is, just for seoyeon’s benefit.

“fine,” he sighs. “but that means you have to do some things that i want, too. like coming to my friends’ parties or helping me study or something.”

“deal,” agrees jeongguk, still writing. “oh, and um—even with the handholding and stuff, can we, like… not kiss unless it’s for the movie moments?”

it’s weird, maybe, that it’s not until that moment that yoongi realizes he’d kind of been assuming kissing would be part of it. and he’s weirdly disappointed by jeongguk’s rule. “yeah, that’s fine,” he says anyway, shifting in his seat. “you don’t have any kisses on the list, though.”

“well,” and jeongguk is—blushing? “i might remember a moment that i want to re-enact that has kissing in it. plus, the love 911 one is technically a kiss but i didn’t add that in there because i didn’t want to scare you away.”

“considerate,” mutters yoongi, suddenly fearful of actually watching these fucking movies. no matter if the moments they’re choosing to re-enact aren’t the kissing ones, he’s still going to have the watch the characters fall in love and kiss anyway. and know that that’s supposed to be he and jeongguk, however fake. this might be harder than he thought, not because of feelings, but—it’s a lot. it’s a fucking lot.

jeongguk is busy looking over the list of rules again—too many, in yoongi’s opinion—when yoongi asks, “how long are we going to keep this up for? i mean—if it’s just for the your experience and me getting my ex off of my back.”

the younger boy sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, his thinking face. he’s still so much like the fifteen-year-old kid that yoongi left in daegu, but so much more. “i guess until we finish the list?” he suggests. “since that’s the main point of it, you’re right. there would be no point to keep it going if we’ve done everything on the list. assuming that by that point, your ex isn’t bothering you anymore.”

yoongi looks at the list again—there are only a handful there at the moment, but he’s sure that jeongguk will come up with a few more. they could complete them all in a single day if they were really determined, but yoongi knows that it’s as much about the actual experience of having a boyfriend to do all of those things with than merely doing them. he can’t see it lasting more than a month or two, though, which is fine by him.

“okay,” agrees yoongi. “until we complete your little bucket list. if my ex isn’t out of the picture by then, i doubt anything will get her away from me.”

“i’ll make sure to rub it in her face if i ever see her,” says jeongguk, “even though i don’t know who she is. but i’ll do it anyway.”

yoongi snorts. “thanks, guk-ah. you’re a good kid.”

“i’m not a kid, hyung. i’m your boyfriend. officially.”

and that’s—weird. kind of. he wonders, briefly, if he ever had a crush on jeongguk, too, even a little one when they were kids. he doesn’t like thinking about it. instead he holds out his hand over the table, grinning when jeongguk takes it and they shake. “boyfriends,” he agrees. “let’s make some movie magic, jeon jeongguk.”

❤ ❤ ❤

yoongi and jeongguk’s first official appearance as a couple comes three days later, conveniently timed to have maximum effect, considering it’s while walking through the campus starbucks while both namjoon and seoyeon are there. yoongi feels a little bad for namjoon, considering he probably just wants to talk to jeongguk about the letter, and talking about it would clear up anything that needs to be said, but—jeongguk is still hellbent on not saying a word to the other student. he feels no remorse whatsoever about seoyeon, so that’s solved.

it’s this: “hold on,” says yoongi when they’re right outside of the door, peering in and spotting seoyeon sitting in one of the corners with a few of her friends. he takes a breath, then looks to jeongguk and holds out his hand.

“even better,” says jeongguk. “put it in my back pocket.”

“your—” he begins before clearing his throat. “why?”

sixteen candles,” says jeongguk, and he’s smirking, the little shit—but yoongi does it anyway, wiping his hand off on his own jeans before he slips it into jeongguk’s back pocket. it’s just. jeongguk has a nice ass. it’s hard not to appreciate it, although he’s trying not to think about it as jeongguk pulls the door open and they walk inside.

it’s loud, at first—too loud for anyone to really notice them enter, but yoongi makes sure to tug jeongguk a little closer as they wait in line and then get to the front to order their drinks. he glances sideways in time to see namjoon looking at them—and yoongi finds himself removing his hand from jeongguk’s pocket almost out of instinct, because he doesn’t like pda, but his hand sort of hovers as jeongguk is busy ordering some ridiculous drink and—there’s a reason he’s doing this. so he just curls his arm around jeongguk’s waist instead, giving him a little squeeze as he swallows all of the nerves over being touchy in public.

“i ordered you something,” says jeongguk. “i hope you don’t mind. babe.”

“oh god,” mutters yoongi. “we need to discuss appropriate pet names.”

“what’s wrong with babe?”

“it’s—i don’t like it.”

“honey? sugar pie? my cinnamon apple?”

“isn’t that a vine? is that a vine reference? also—no.”

it’s this: by the time they get their drinks, they’ve done enough whispering to each other to look coupley, he hopes. but seoyeon still hasn’t looked over, too invested in her own conversation, and yoongi realizes what they’re going to have to do.

“there’s an open table over there,” says yoongi, nodding toward the corner that seoyeon is in. “also, did you see namjoon?”

“i’m conveniently ignoring namjoon,” says jeongguk, grabbing their drinks and already making his way across the café.

“i still think you should just talk to him,” he begins, eyes skirting over the students in the café in hopes of spotting namjoon again, but it looks like the other boy has already disappeared from the café. probably for nothing related whatsoever.

his thoughts are interrupted by a familiar voice asking, “yoongi?” and he turns to see that they’ve arrived at the empty table. seoyeon is staring at him from her table, something fiery in her eyes as she focuses on he and jeongguk’s proximity. again, he feels the urge to drop his hand and he sort of just stares back, unsure what to do—maybe this was a bad idea. letting seoyeon believe he was dating jeongguk with a vague question had been easy, but this is different. he has no fucking idea what he’s doing.

“ah, hyung,” says jeongguk, thankfully swooping in like a fucking angel to save the day—“i think there’s only one seat at this table.”

yoongi looks at the table. there are definitely two seats, and he’s about to say that when he actually makes eye contact with jeongguk and sees the mischievous look in the other’s eyes. seoyeon is right there, something in her eyes daring yoongi to do something, to prove that her suspicions are correct. and he switches it on, because yoongi knows he has to sell it as best as he can.

“no problem, bun,” he says with a grin, ignoring seoyeon completely as he boops jeongguk’s nose and moves around him to collapse onto the open seat. “you can sit on my lap.”

jeongguk’s responding smile is—too genuine. too bright, too real, and yoongi blocks out the noises coming from seoyeon’s table (choking, gasping noises, like she’s drowning, which—she might be, actually) as jeongguk gives a little giggle and does as he’s told, easily fitting himself onto yoongi’s lap—a little sideways so they can actually see each other, and facing seoyeon so she gets a full view of this.

“thanks, yoonie,” grins jeongguk, and then he drops down and kisses yoongi’s cheek. which. doesn’t really mean anything, but yoongi thinks about the letter, about being fifteen and giving jeongguk a kiss on his cheek, too—it makes my heart do funny things anyway. seoyeon makes another gasping noise and yoongi finally throws her an icy look.

“are you having trouble breathing today, seoyeon?” he snaps. “i’m trying to enjoy some time with my boyfriend. so if you don’t mind keeping it down over there, i would be very grateful.”

he doesn’t bother to see the offended look on her face before he’s turning back to grin up at jeongguk, and it—feels good. weird at the same time, maybe because he’s trying to see jeongguk as a boyfriend so that it’s easier to act and it’s not as hard as he thought it would be. jeongguk fits too well in his lap, legs draped over yoongi’s hip. he fits too well leaning into yoongi’s chest and whispering in his ear (mostly absurd things, but yoongi laughs all the same like he’s saying something especially flirtatious). it’s too easy to be like this, touching, laughing at each other.

but that’s just. because they’re friends. they were friends for years before this, and even with the distance, it’s easy to fall back into their friendship from when they were teenagers. yoongi knows how to act with someone that he likes, maybe loves—seoyeon wasn’t his first relationship. it’s just like in the movies, like jeongguk said.

but it’s this: seoyeon marches out of the café with her friends five minutes after jeongguk and yoongi arrive. jeongguk doesn’t get off of his lap, though, and yoongi doesn’t tell him to. they don’t have to rub it in anyone’s faces, but they just—stay like that anyway. to make it look real for everyone else, yoongi tells himself. but maybe he likes the way it feels anyway.

they post a slough of couple selfies on social media to mark the beginning of their relationship, yoongi doing so and then resigning to never look at his social media again lest his mother find the pictures. or seokjin, although that’s inevitable considering he lives with the other and they’re best friends. jeongguk, on the other hand, immediately starts reading out comments that he gets on his own posts about it, much to yoongi’s chagrin.

then—“oh my god,” says jeongguk. “one of the other crushes commented.”

“who?” asks yoongi, grabbing jeongguk’s phone and reading the comments that he can see. “wait, yugyeom?”

“no,” grumbles jeongguk, taking his phone back. “park jimin.”

“park jimin? you mean the kid from daegu who got straight a’s for all four years of high school and then almost got expelled during the last week of his last year for trying to pull off the greatest senior prank the world has ever seen? also the gayest senior prank… which might have been why he almost got expelled.”

“i knew him before that,” says jeongguk, sinking lower and lower in his chair—he’s since moved to his own, long after seoyeon left. and only because yoongi started complaining about his legs going numb. “we were in this dance camp together when i was like, nine or ten. i couldn’t help it.”

“did your letter say that he had the universe in his eyes?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk’s cheeks flare red red red. he hides behind his phone.

“no,” mumbles jeongguk. “it was about how if he ever wanted to try ballroom dancing, i’d gladly be his partner.”

once yoongi has stopped laughing—although even jeongguk threatening to throw his cold coffee does nothing to deter him—jeongguk actually reads that comment. it’s a nice one, about how cute the two of them look together, and then something about catching up since it’s been a while. it’s probably code for the two of them needing to talk about the letter, but yoongi takes the first part of it as a sign that jimin isn’t hung up on it by any means.

they’re official, anyway. the two people they’re trying to avoid with this relationship know about it, plus the rest of the internet world, so—yoongi thinks it’s a success.

when he goes home that night, he tries not to feel weird about how all they’d done was hang out in starbucks for a few hours. but it felt real, somehow—realer than his relationship with seoyeon had been for the last month. he and jeongguk get along, is all. they have good chemistry, even as friends, is all. it’s just—that.

he looks at the copy of the contract that jeongguk gave to him, the list of movie moments that they’re to re-enact in their relationship. that part is just for them, just for jeongguk. and although something about that afternoon is unsettling, there’s nothing he can do but put it out of his mind and get the rest of the show on the road. they’ve got things to do. after studying the list and choosing one of the movies he’s actually seen, he makes his plans. he puts them into motion.

min yoongi is going to be the best damn boyfriend in the world.

❤ ❤ ❤

“where are we going?”

“it’s a surprise.”

hyung—“

“it’s a date,” says yoongi, carefully steering jeongguk through the parking lot toward the massive building in front of them. jeongguk is blindfolded, mostly because yoongi decided it would be best to surprise him with most of the movie moments if he could help it. it would feel too much like acting if they set up times and days for it rather than letting it be like a real relationship, where things might happen spontaneously. where they might not. “and a surprise at the same time.”

“it’s a movie moment, though, right?” asks jeongguk, turning his head to look over his shoulder like he can actually see yoongi there.

“of course it’s a movie moment,” replies yoongi. “it’s not a real date. although we may have to improvise afterwards because this honestly isn’t that long of a movie moment.” it’s weird, a bit, being in a relationship again, even if it’s not a real one. and he’ll admit that he sees what jeongguk means about having all of the moments without any of the baggage—he doesn’t have to worry about keeping jeongguk happy all of the time, or letting him know what he’s doing. they text and talk, hang out because they are friends beyond the fake dating thing. but it’ll be nice to have the dates without having to worry about going home with jeongguk after, or impressing him so much.

he manhandles jeongguk up onto the curb and then stops just outside the doors, ignoring the strange look that the man leaving the store gives him. “okay,” he says, mouth close to jeongguk’s ear as he stands behind the other. carefully, he tugs the blindfold off of jeongguk’s eyes. “open your eyes.”

when jeongguk does, there’s a moment of—nothing. he imagines jeongguk blinking at the automatic doors, and then he sees his head tilt up until he can see the front of the building, the massive letters there. finally, there’s a quiet gasp—“are we at ikea?”

“hardly,” murmurs yoongi, and then finally extracts himself from the other and steps around jeongguk toward the entrance. he holds out his hand. “we’re home.”

it’s not—much, really, to drive them to ikea and play house like they do in 500 days of summer. it was number four on jeongguk’s list, and it was one of the movies that yoongi had actually seen, so it wouldn’t take much effort to get right. it’s not much, really, to walk around a furniture store and pretend, but—jeongguk’s eyes are still shining as he looks from the giant ikea letters on the front of the building to yoongi’s outstretched hand, and then to his eyes. and yoongi gets it, maybe, because jeongguk has never had this before. he’s never had the chance to do this before, only ever imagining it and watching it on the big screen.

when they started this, only days ago, yoongi thought it might be more for his benefit. hanging out with jeongguk to pretend they’re characters in a movie won’t take much effort. but it’s so much more than just recreating the scene, or pretending. this is—what jeongguk has. what he wants. yoongi still doesn’t understand why jeongguk is so adamant about doing all of it this way, but he can’t argue when he sees the way jeongguk is looking at him, like this is the single best gift he’s ever gotten.

“coming?” asks yoongi, wiggling his fingers between them. and jeongguk’s grin is wide, wide, wide as he takes yoongi’s hand and they make their way inside.

yoongi knows how it goes in the movie—he watched the scene ten times over the night before to get it right—but he doesn’t think that jeongguk wants a word for word re-enactment of the scene. it’s just—the essence. the idea of being tom and summer, of having what they had, no matter how fleeting. so he pulls jeongguk toward the model rooms.

“wow, such a long day,” says yoongi, pretending to yawn as he gets into one of the model living rooms, collapsing on the sofa and pulling jeongguk down beside him. “what should we do tonight? i’m thinking—tv? i think there’s a new episode of we got married on tonight.”

jeongguk giggles beside him, clearly all too pleased with this, and then melts into it easily; he reaches out and grabs the remote from the coffee table in front of them, snuggling into yoongi’s side as he pretends to turn on the television. “speaking of marriage—you’ll never guess what i heard at work today,” he says.

“goodness, what?” asks yoongi.

“minyoung is having an affair with her yoga instructor.

“positively scandalous.

“oh look, it’s all commercials,” sighs jeongguk, gesturing to the—well. the rest of the store, considering there isn’t actually a wall with a television in front of them, but yoongi likes to think he’s good at pretending. “couldn’t we have gotten the stations with no commercials?”

“i don’t think they do that, darling,” says yoongi, planting a hand on jeongguk’s thigh.

“if you love me, you’ll find a way to make it so,” replies jeongguk, and it’s—so stupid. all of this is so stupid, but yoongi laughs anyway and he wonders wonders wonders what tom must have felt in 500 days of summer. having summer when he did, having her leave so suddenly—maybe that’s a bit like this. jeongguk seems to be as unattainable as summer, and yet as bright. as wonderful to be around.

jeongguk points the remote in front of them again. “time for dinner, hyung!” he exclaims, standing from the sofa and holding out his hand. yoongi takes it, letting jeongguk pull him through two other model living rooms (that one has fun decorations, hyung, why didn’t you get me that living room?) before they get to the model kitchens. here, jeongguk pauses, turning around so quickly that yoongi almost crashes right into him, and he levels yoongi with a careful look.

“did you put dinner in the oven before you left for work?” he asks in a conspiratorial whisper.

yoongi’s eyebrows rise. “i thought you were supposed to,” he whispers back.

“well, i didn’t.”

“i didn’t either.”

jeongguk pouts. and it’s—not real, it’s not real, yoongi reminds himself, but the sight makes something stir within him. there’s some age old instinct to fix it, to give jeongguk exactly what he wants and needs, despite that all of this is just acting. it’s just acting.

yoongi turns his head to look at the fridge. “maybe we have leftovers,” he says before extracting himself from this inch-away nonsense, trying to calm the beating of his heart as he makes his way to the fridge and opens it with a gasp. “oh dear. it’s completely empty!”

“not even a vegetable in sight,” adds jeongguk, and despite yoongi moving here to get away from him, the other boy manages to make things difficult anyway by sidling up behind yoongi and sliding his arms around his waist, resting his chin on yoongi’s shoulder. he’s—bigger than yoongi, sort of wrapping himself around yoongi like he fits there. like he’s supposed to. “we’ll have to go grocery shopping soon lest we starve to death.”

“or,” says yoongi, closing the fridge and reaching up to pat jeongguk’s head. “we’ll just have to check in our second kitchen.”

“oh yes, i forgot about the second kitchen,” giggles jeongguk, and he doesn’t let go of yoongi as they make their way through the door in the wall into a different model kitchen. there’s an elderly woman there who gives them one look before walking away, to which jeongguk ducks his head and puts his lips directly next to yoongi’s ear and whispers, “you didn’t tell me your grandmother was coming to visit today.”

yoongi, ignoring the shiver it sends down his spine, replies, “neither did i. she’s gone now, though, so we don’t have to worry about sharing our nonexistent food with her.”

jeongguk giggles again, and together they manage to waddle over to the fridge in this room, too. yoongi opens it, humming as he looks inside. after a moment, jeongguk says, “i guess we’ll have to order in tonight.”

“probably better than either of our cooking,” agrees yoongi.

“excuse you. didn’t i make that delicious meal last night?”

“ah, right—roasted koala. my favourite.”

jeongguk giggles again, directly into his ear—he’s still holding yoongi tightly, gives him a little squeeze, and. yoongi can almost forget the point of this. it’s only the first date, but it’s—something more, suddenly. he’s not sure he can look jeongguk in the eye right now, anyway, not when he realizes that this might be as much for yoongi as it is for jeongguk, because he and seoyeon had never done anything like this. he’s never done anything like this with anyone that he’s been with.

luckily, jeongguk doesn’t seem to be caught in such thoughts. he finally retracts himself from around yoongi, sticking to the script as he says, “i’ll race you to the bedroom.”

yoongi almost asks what he’s talking about before he remembers they’re not actually in their house, and that their bedroom is across the store. he turns, catching the massive bunny smile on jeongguk’s face before the other takes off. in an instant, yoongi is running after him, skirting around other customers in the aisle and calling apologies when he accidentally brushes against someone in his chase.

it’s easy to follow when jeongguk is laughing like that, head thrown back and carefree. and yoongi’s laughing too, stumbling after him as jeongguk turns a corner and they hurtle into one of the model bedrooms. jeongguk throws himself onto the bed, settling on his back and giggling as yoongi stops at the end of the bed and just breathes for a moment, that smile still on his face.

he sees the scene clearly—so he crawls onto the bed after jeongguk, settling on his side beside the other and dipping his head down just slightly. and jeongguk is—looking at him with those wide eyes, eyes that hold so much and yet have revealed so little. if this was a real relationship, he’d kiss jeongguk just like this. but it’s not—and he remembers their contract, remembers the rules. he just wants jeongguk to feel loved.

but. but. this can’t all be going off-script, so he whispers, “honey, i… don’t know how to tell you this. but there’s an american family in our bathroom.”

jeongguk immediately bursts into giggles, recognizing the line from the movie, too, but yoongi can only let out a short laugh before he adds, “no, but really.” he glances up, looking over at the attached model bathroom to see that, by some stroke of luck, there really is an american family standing there, looking at them. jeongguk must look, too, because he starts giggling again and rolls right into yoongi’s chest, hiding his face in the older’s neck.

“maybe my grandmother brought them,” says yoongi, giggling too as he flops down onto his back. and that’s—where the scene stops, he knows. for all intents and purposes, they’ll be able to cross one item off of jeongguk’s bucket list. except he doesn’t really want to stop pretending, because it’s fun. he likes hearing jeongguk laugh like that, likes knowing that he’s making him happy like that. that was the point, but it still makes his chest a little warmer.

still, jeongguk knows it, too. once he’s stopped giggling, he pulls away from yoongi enough to look him in the eye. “thanks, hyung,” he says.

“for what?” asks yoongi.

“this. i dunno, just—agreeing to do this. and doing it right.”

“i have no idea what you’re talking about,” says yoongi with a grin of his own, rolling over enough to plant a kiss on jeongguk’s forehead, even if there’s no one watching. keeping up pretences, at least for himself. “you’re my boyfriend. gotta make you laugh once in a while, hm?”

when he pulls away, he thinks jeongguk might be blushing, but—they also just run across ikea, so he’s going to blame it on that. and yoongi does, as he slides off of the bed and holds out his hand to bring jeongguk with him, off to find a new adventure, because they didn’t come all this way not to make it a real date.

they fall into an easy rhythm; when they’re at school at the same time, they hang out outside of classes, usually in public areas lest someone they know happens to be around. yoongi will see namjoon sometimes, although he never comes over to talk. he sees seoyeon once or twice, and always makes sure to make a grab for jeongguk’s hand or pat his butt or something that makes his ex-girlfriend huff and storm away. more than that, though, he and jeongguk just—become very good friends. yoongi helps jeongguk with his classes as best as he can, and jeongguk forces yoongi to leave his apartment for more than just school. they go to the arcade or to the movies, and although those outings have nothing to do with the movie moments, yoongi finds he likes them almost more.

one night, he comes home from playing video games in jeongguk’s dorm—because that’s apparently all he does on the weekends—to seokjin sitting at the kitchen table with a single light on, hands folded and staring intently at the door. like he’s been waiting.

“um, hello,” says yoongi when the door falls shut behind him, eyebrows furrowing before he slips off his shoes.

“and where have you been, young man?” asks seokjin.

“with jeongguk,” replies yoongi, already trying to slip past him to get to his room, but seokjin sticks a foot out to stop yoongi from passing.

“i’ve been seeing interesting things on your social media recently,” says seokjin. “and quite frankly, i’m offended that you didn’t think to tell me yourself that you’re dating the kid who used to hero-worship me.”

“he used to hero-worship me, i think,” says yoongi. “and yeah, what of it?”

seokjin’s eyes narrow, like he’ll somehow be able to uncover the truth just by looking hard enough. yoongi wouldn’t put it past him, so he quickly steps over his roommate’s leg to get to his bedroom.

“he’ll probably come over sometimes, if that’s cool,” yoongi calls over his shoulder.

“i didn’t even know you two talked!”

“no, we haven’t fucked.”

“that’s not what—min yoongi!

yoongi shuts the door before they can continue that conversation any further, mostly because—he doesn’t like lying to seokjin. and because seokjin will be able to put all of the strange pieces together to figure out the truth better than anyone, and he doesn’t need that when he and jeongguk have barely started the bucket list.

❤ ❤ ❤

it’s just before jeongguk’s first exam of the year that yoongi finds another opportunity to surprise him with a movie moment. it’s hardly going to be what actually happens in the movie, but yoongi doesn’t think jeongguk will mind the improvisation—it’s about the essence of it, isn’t it. yoongi’s good at sticking to that.

he texts jeongguk and makes sure that he’ll be in his dorm for the evening, studying like he’s supposed to be. and then yoongi spends the entire afternoon cooped up in his room, writing out the messages and perfecting them before he grabs his phone in lieu of one of those old cd players that he’s not sure anyone even sells anymore, and heads over to the university.

he silently prays that jeongguk’s roommate isn’t home, although he supposes he should be willing to humiliate himself for his boyfriend once or twice, and he doesn’t say anything to the students he passes in the halls of jeongguk’s dorm as he makes his way up the stairs to the right room. luckily, most people seem to be out for the weekend—which jeongguk had complained about all day, whining that he wanted to be out having fun or going to parties instead of studying for a midterm, but yoongi in his upperclassman wisdom told jeongguk that he would regret it, so. that’s why he’s here, too.

when he finds the right room, he raps his knuckles against the door and waits for it to open. when it does, it reveals a sleepy-looking jeongguk—sweatpants and a massive hoodie, hair a mess and expression that of someone who has considered drinking enough coffee to give himself a heart attack just to get through the evening. it changes, though, when he sees yoongi, eyes widening as he says, “oh, hyung! what are you doing here?”

true to the scene he’s trying to re-enact, even if it’s not quite a love confession, yoongi presses a finger to his lips in a silent plea for jeongguk to be silent. the boy’s expression turns to one of confusion, then, eyes darting to the massive white poster boards yoongi is holding in his hands, and then yoongi turns on silent night on his phone and sets to work.

love actually was one of the movies that yoongi had seen prior to beginning to fake date jeongguk, but jeongguk had been so excited about the idea of watching it that he’d pretended not to merely for the sake of letting jeongguk watch it again, and letting jeongguk gush about his favourite parts and ask yoongi a million questions about his favourite parts. and despite always having a negative opinion of this particular story line, it was number two on jeongguk’s list, so—

he turns the poster boards around, glancing down at the first one to make sure it’s right. i know it’s not christmas, it reads, and he gives jeongguk a few seconds to read before he lets the poster fall to his feet to reveal the next. so you’ll have to forgive me for the timing, but i thought it would be a good opportunity.

jeongguk’s eyes turn up to his again, eyebrows furrowing a little despite the grin that spreads on his lips when he must understand exactly what’s happening. yoongi lets that poster fall, too.

university can be really hard, it says. and i know you’d rather be out partying than studying.

jeongguk snorts, nodding his head as the next poster falls.

you might think that it’s too hard or that you’re not good enough to ace your exams.

and the next.

but i’m here to tell you that you’re one of the smartest kids i know.

and the next.

definitely the most determined.

jeongguk looks at him again, the grin faltering just a little. less of—something mesmerized, more something soft and private. for him. as much as this is pretending, as it always is, yoongi means every word that he’s written.

you can do anything that you set your mind to, even without going to university.

and you can do really well on this exam, too. and every exam after this one.

i just wanted to let you know that, in case you were feeling discouraged. i’m in your corner, gukkie.

yoongi can’t help the grin on his own lips as he looks down and sees that one. it’s true—he’s been helping jeongguk with his homework and studying for weeks now, always trying to encourage him to attend classes and do as well as he can. he remembers being a first year, too, and how terrifying it was, and how he was worried that he’d made the wrong choice and shouldn’t have gone to university at all. he’s glad that he can help jeongguk, but hopefully this gives him a bit of an extra boost to get him through the weekend of studying.

“hyung,” jeongguk begins, and yoongi holds up a finger to stop him before he lets the poster fall to reveal the last one.

also… it says, because—even though it really has nothing to do with the message he’s trying to send, it’s probably the most important part of the scene in love actually. and yoongi can’t leave that out. and it’s true, too, he’s realizing—to me, you are perfect.

jeongguk lets out this little sigh, pouting at the sign. yoongi holds that one out for him to take, figuring it’s the sort of souvenir he’ll want to keep to remember this movie moment. and jeongguk does take it, holding it to his chest as yoongi gives him a wink and then bends down to scoop up the discarded posters.

“thanks,” whispers jeongguk, and yoongi’s grin widens.

“really, though,” he says. “study hard, okay? you’ll be okay. if you want me to come over later to help you de-stress, just ask. i’m trying to procrastinate on my own studying.”

hyung!” exclaims jeongguk, reaching out to smack yoongi with the poster he’s holding. “that defeats the purpose of everything you just told me.”

“the purpose of everything i just told you was to make you seem like a younger, buffer keira knightley. now go study, you heathen. i’ve embarrassed myself enough.”

he thinks, in the back of his mind, that in the scene, they share a kiss as mark walks away. and it’s not going to happen, of course—it wasn’t specified in the list that the kiss should be included, even though it could be. and it would be jeongguk’s choice anyway, and yoongi tells himself not to hope for it, despite the strange aching in his chest every time he thinks of it, or thinks of jeongguk. it’s fake, he reminds himself. it’s fake, it’s fake.

still—as he’s walking away, maybe he does so deliberately slowly. just in case.

(jeongguk doesn’t chase after him, anyway, and yoongi mentally kicks himself for even thinking about it as he leaves the building and heads home and checks off one more bucket list item. and feels a little empty as he does so.)

❤ ❤ ❤

hyung,” sighs jeongguk for the third time, collapsing onto the older’s bed with the same dramatic flair that seems to accompany everything he does around yoongi. “do we have to go?”

“yes,” says yoongi, halfway into his closet as he tries to find the clothes that he wants and has hidden away considering he usually only goes to school and then stays at home. he doesn’t need the jeans that apparently make his ass look good if he never goes anywhere that requires a good-looking ass. “it’s part of the contract, guk.”

“i know,” grumbles jeongguk. “but they’re releasing another chapter of my favourite webtoon tonight and i really wanted to read it.”

“you can read it there.”

“isn’t that considered unsocial behaviour?”

“do you really think i’m going to be particularly social at this thing?” yoongi finally finds the jeans he was looking for, pulling them out of the closet with a little huff before he turns to look at jeongguk, who has taken to cuddling one of yoongi’s kumamon pillows to his chest. “c’mon, you have to get ready.”

“i am ready,” comes jeongguk’s muffled reply.

“you’re literally just wearing a white shirt and jeans. that’s what you wear every day.”

“i don’t have to impress anyone if i’m going with my boyfriend!” protests jeongguk. “am i supposed to be impressing someone? oh god, i won’t know anywhere there, hyung. what if they think i’m weird and want you to break up with me?”

yoongi, rolling his eyes, finally makes his way over to the bed. he pulls the pillow out of jeongguk’s grasp, setting it beside the other’s head and levelling jeongguk with a careful look. he’s pouting again, looking up at yoongi with a certain fear in his eyes, which—yoongi can understand, in a way. jeongguk isn’t one for partying, preferring to hang out with his friends in smaller capacities, although he has called yoongi drunk a few times already because of being dragged to freshman parties by classmates.

this is different, though. this is a party thrown by one of yoongi’s friends, which means there were likely be more upperclassmen than not. college students generally party in the same way for all four years, but yoongi can understand the trepidation anyway.

so he crawls onto the bed over jeongguk, knees on either side of his hips and hands coming to rest on either side of his head.

“jeon jeongguk,” he says in a low voice. “you’re going to be fine. i’m not going to leave your side the whole time and i’ll introduce you to some of my friends. you’ll like them and they’ll like you and if seoyeon is there, we only have to do a little couple-y stuff. or you can just get wasted and enjoy it that way.”

jeongguk groans, throwing an arm over his eyes. his cheeks are pink. “are you sure we can’t just pretend that we’re sick and not go?”

“nice try,” laughs yoongi, swatting at the boy’s arm. “c’mon, we have to go soon. you can pre-drink if you want. might make it easier.”

jeongguk does—he downs almost a third of seokjin’s new bottle of vodka in one go, before yoongi catches him in the kitchen and steals the bottle from him, citing the fact that he’s trying not to kill the kid before the night is over. and jeongguk is still nervous as yoongi drives them to the party location, someone’s massive house that is clearly owned by rich parents. jeongguk fidgets in the front seat the whole time.

“hey,” says yoongi when jeongguk gets out of the car, tugging on his wrist before they can disappear into the house. “if you really want to go home, just let me know. i don’t want you to be uncomfortable, but i do have to make an appearance and it’s a good way to remind people that we’re together. okay?”

jeongguk offers him a little grin. “okay,” he agrees. “i’m just being dramatic. just—please don’t disappear in the middle and leave me awkwardly on a couch with a kissing couple.”

“got it,” snorts yoongi. “c’mon, let’s take a selfie before we go in.”

the house is already full of people and noise by the time they get in, and jeongguk immediately slips their hands together as they walk through the door, practically pressed to his side. it’s—good, because they’re supposed to be dating. although yoongi is fairly sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re supposed to be dating, everything to do with being the anchor for jeongguk in an unfamiliar situation.

he tugs jeongguk through the initial crowd, already searching for anyone that he actually knows. when he sees only unfamiliar faces at first, he gives a little sigh and turns to jeongguk. “do you want a drink?” he asks.

“please,” says jeongguk.

“go claim a spot on one of the couches and i’ll get you one,” says yoongi, giving the younger a little push toward the living room. jeongguk goes, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

in the kitchen, yoongi is busy pouring jeongguk a much stronger drink than he probably needs—but it’s for the best—when he hears a loud exclamation of, “min yoongi!” and turns to see the one person he’d actually been looking for.

“kim taehyung,” beams yoongi, letting out an oof when taehyung barrels into him and gives him a hug.

“you came!” says taehyung. “i was worried that you weren’t going to. knowing your track record, i mean.”

“i’m not a hermit.”

“you could pass as one without even trying. anyway—i’m glad you came. i feel like i haven’t seen you in ages. what’s up with you these days?”

yoongi raises an eyebrow. he’s known taehyung for a few years, having met in daegu before yoongi left for university, and have maintained a friendship since then although sometimes taehyung disappears for several months at a time only to resurface as though he never left at all. when he does, he likes to throw big parties like this, although yoongi rarely shows up. this time, though, he has a reason.

“i have someone to introduce to you, actually,” says yoongi, and taehyung’s eyebrows shoot up.

“i heard you broke up seoyeon,” he says. “already got yourself a new girl?”

“boy,” says yoongi.

“cute,” grins taehyung. “pour your drinks and let’s go.”

yoongi leads taehyung back to where he saw jeongguk disappear off to, unable to help the stupid fondness in his chest when he sees jeongguk squished onto one end of a sofa, knees practically pulled into his chest as some girl tries to talk to him. he visibly relaxes when he sees yoongi, eyes sparking with relief before yoongi pushes through the crowd and hands one of the cups over.

“doing okay?” he asks, carding his free hand through jeongguk’s hair in a familiar gesture. also because—image.

“yeah, i’m okay,” breathes jeongguk, giving yoongi a grin.

“i ran into my friend in the kitchen,” says yoongi. “the one who’s throwing this whole thing. i wanted you to meet him. tae—hey, taehyung!” he turns, seeing that the other boy has disappeared, but as soon as his name is called, his head pops out from behind some other sofa and he offers a beaming smile.

“wait,” begins jeongguk, hand curling into the fabric of yoongi’s shirt. “taehyung?”

“yeah, he’s—tae, jesus, get over here.”

“hyung—”

taehyung pops up by yoongi’s side, boxy smile on his face as he looks from yoongi to jeongguk, and then—it freezes.

“guk, this is my good friend, kim taehyung,” says yoongi, gesturing to the freshman who is currently staring wide-eyed at taehyung. that’s generally everyone’s reactions, considering the utter beauty of the other boy, so yoongi thinks nothing of it. “tae, this is my boyfriend—”

“jeon jeongguk,” finishes taehyung.

yoongi frowns. “you know each other?”

“do we know each other,” laughs taehyung. “we were friends for a few years when we were high school. and apparently, jeonggukkie here had a cr—”

“hyung, do you mind,” interrupts jeongguk hurriedly, standing up from his seat and grabbing yoongi’s wrist before pulling him in the other direction without explanation. yoongi looks back over his shoulder to taehyung to see the other is staring with a bewildered expression as jeongguk tugs him through the crowd.

“what are you doing?” asks yoongi. “where are we going?”

hyung,” says jeongguk, turning around suddenly and causing yoongi to bump into him, almost upending his drink. his eyes are wild, fearful. desperate. “why didn’t you tell me that your friend was kim taehyung?”

“i didn’t think it mattered,” says yoongi, sipping at his drink. “small world, though.”

jeongguk groans, ducking his head and kind of headbutting yoongi in the neck for a moment. “hyung,” he begins again. “hyung. i wrote him a letter.”

“good for you?” begins yoongi, chuckling. “i commend you for going for snail mail when e-mail is so much faster these days.”

“no,” and jeongguk looks up, expression pained. “hyung. i wrote him a letter.

“yeah, you just—oh.” yoongi’s eyes widen, turning back to look over his shoulder. he can’t see taehyung from here, having been pulled halfway across the living room with all of these people in between them. but he turns back to jeongguk, an oops expression written across his face. “that’s awkward.”

“yeah, it’s fucking—awkward,” sighs jeongguk. “i had a massive crush on him when i was like, sixteen. and i wrote him this really disgusting letter and he read it, and he might still think i have a crush on him and it’s awkward. oh my god. hyung, i can’t be here.”

“hey—jeongguk, hey,” begins yoongi, pushing his drink into the nearest person’s chest. they take it, thankfully, and he grabs the sides of jeongguk’s face before pulling it up so that they can look each other in the eyes. jeongguk looks so—pained, and a little upset. this definitely wasn’t how yoongi was expecting the party to go. “hey.”

“hi,” mumbles jeongguk.

“it’s not the end of the world. it’s not. i can talk to taehyung if you want, but you shouldn’t avoid this because it’s just going to get more awkward.” jeongguk opens his mouth to protest, but yoongi pushes on his chin with his thumbs, closing it again. “we don’t have to be here for very long,” he says, “but let’s stay just for a little bit. we’ll avoid taehyung entirely if it makes you feel better. we can go outside and drink and look at the stars together. we’ll have fun. just you and me. okay?”

the truth is that yoongi knows jeongguk can’t run from the letters forever. he’s already running from namjoon, but the least he could do is actually clear things up with taehyung. he wants jeongguk to let loose a little, to see that he doesn’t have to keep running from his feelings, even if they were in the past. and—now that they’re here, he figures they might as well stay.

jeongguk pouts. “i guess.”

“you guess,” says yoongi, grinning now. “it’ll be fine. drink your vodka. you’ll feel better if you’re a little drunk.” it’s probably not the best advice, but jeongguk gives him a little grin anyway, and yoongi inexplicably rocks up on his toes to keep jeongguk’s nose a kiss. when he pulls away, jeongguk immediately downs the rest of his drink and comes away a little flushed, which is—good. means the alcohol is doing its job.

they avoid taehyung for the most part for the rest of the party. yoongi does send him a text, trying to explain the situation at least somewhat, but taehyung seems to be drunk enough at that point that he just sends a bunch of eggplant emojis back and yoongi regrets ever being friends with him.

he and jeongguk refill drink after drink, finding other ways to occupy themselves. they sit on one of the more abandoned sofas and talk to each other, or hang out by the massive pool that taehyung’s parents own, doing their best not to fall into the water despite their drunkenness. and they do get drunk, at least somewhat—jeongguk’s cheeks get redder, eyes getting hazier as the night goes on, and he stops complaining about people or not having fun. he even gets up and starts dancing when a few of his favourite songs come on, and yoongi laughs and laughs and tries not to admire it.

tries not to think about what it means when jeongguk automatically collapses in his lap when he sits back down again, when he curls his hand around the back of yoongi’s neck and presses his face into yoongi’s hair. tries not to think about how easily he answers questions about their relationship when a vague acquaintance asks. tries not to think about the classmate who, after talking to yoongi for five minutes with jeongguk giggling into his neck, says, “you guys are really cute, you know? you seem so much happier with him than you did with seoyeon.”

and it’s—weird, maybe, that yoongi realizes halfway through the night that he’s forgotten to pretend that he’s jeongguk’s boyfriend. but no one seems to notice, or seems to think that it’s weird. and maybe it’s because he’s doing all of the same things, anyway. maybe it’s because he doesn’t really have to act.

the thought, when it occurs to him—while jeongguk is busy animatedly telling a complete stranger about the webtoon he wanted to be reading tonight, and yoongi realizes he’s been affectionately playing with jeongguk’s hair the whole time—has him snapping back to reality somewhat. he’s not wasted, but drunk enough that his vision has gone blurry and he’s not sure he can walk quite right. but suddenly, he feels too hot, a little suffocated because he’s pressed to jeongguk’s side, smiling too fondly at him.

he has to go somewhere. fresh air, or—something.

“hey,” he says, leaning forward and nuzzling his nose behind jeongguk’s ear. “hey, bun. baby. m’gonna—pee.” that seems like the best excuse for leaving and coming back in ten minutes, when he’s gotten his head on straight, and jeongguk pauses from his story to look at yoongi.

“‘kay, hyung,” he says, then—“kiss first?”

which is—weird. and jeongguk is definitely drunk, much drunker than yoongi is. for a moment, yoongi thinks that jeongguk’s asking for a kiss on the lips, and then he sticks his face out a little sideways. yoongi dips down and presses a kiss to his cheek, and the boy jeongguk has been talking to gives a little chuckle, says, “what a good boyfriend,” and jeongguk says, “i know!” and yoongi feels like he’s going to be sick.

he makes it outside with minimal stumbling and only one person accidentally spilling a mysterious substance on his arm. when the door falls shut behind him, it doesn’t cut off all of the noise and music from inside, but enough that yoongi can finally think. can finally breathe. it’s a cool night, nearing the end of september. he can’t see the stars, but he knows they’re there. somehow, that’s comforting.

yoongi realizes, belatedly, that he doesn’t know what he was hoping to accomplish here. but the distance from jeongguk seems to be doing his head and heart good, no longer tangled up with the other. he can smell something other than the cologne jeongguk borrowed from him, and is it weird that it somehow smells better on jeongguk?

anyway—anyway. he sits down on the front step of the house, noting the few others that are outside as well. there’s a couple making out against the side of the house, and he ignores them and how it makes his stomach twist uncomfortably. he’s drunk too much, feels too much like liquid—like he can melt all the way into the grass if someone bumps him the wrong way, and his heart is just—weird. weird. it’s all weird.

behind him, the door opens and closes again.

then—“yoongi.” he turns, blinking up through the darkness and the haze. it makes sense, of course, that she’s here. he hasn’t seen her all night, but seoyeon is there anyway, taking the few steps until she can sit beside yoongi.

for the first time in months, it isn’t yoongi’s first reaction to snap at her. he’s too drunk for that—but not drunk enough for a conversation, whatever she wants to say to him, it’s the first conversation they’re going to have since yoongi started ‘dating’ jeongguk.

so he waits. it comes, of course—“i see you brought your boy toy with you,” says seoyeon.

“he’s not a toy,” says yoongi.

“don’t you think you’d had enough with him?” she asks, then, and her hand is touching his arm and he doesn’t like it, but he can’t make his body work to shake her off. “we were only supposed to take a break, yoongi. i think it’s been long enough. you can stop stringing him along.”

does she know, does she know—“i’m not stringing him along,” slurs yoongi. “we’re dating. fuck off.”

“you can’t be serious,” laughs seoyeon. when he looks at her, she’s—pretty. she’s always pretty. but she’s always been dangerous, too. “you know nothing with him can last.”

“why, because you think that i’m going to come back to you?”

“yoongi,” says seoyeon, and for a moment, it doesn’t sound like she’s just trying to convince him, to seduce him. “you know he’s sick, right?”

yoongi—stares at her. at her perfect makeup, her perfect nose. even drunk, it doesn’t escape him that seoyeon made him break up with a friends with benefit slash maybe boyfriend before they started dating, mostly by spreading lies and rumours. mostly by making yoongi believe something that wasn’t quite true, something that he didn’t learn wasn’t true for months and months. by then, it was too late. by then, seoyeon had already gotten him into her trap, and now that he’s free—he refuses to crawl back in.

seoyeon doesn’t like jeongguk. it doesn’t give her an excuse.

“why would you say shit like that?” he snaps, suddenly feeling as though coming out was a bad idea. despite wanting to get away from jeongguk for a few minutes, now he craves the easy familiarity of the other boy, the comfort and warmth of him. “you don’t call someone sick just because you don’t like him.” he’s sick in the head, was what seoyeon meant, he knows. it’s something she would say.

“yoongi,” she begins again, standing up after him. “i’m trying to help you. you can’t stay with him in that condition.”

“go the fuck away, seoyeon,” snaps yoongi. “stop trying to ruin my happiness. you don’t know jeongguk. there’s nothing wrong with him.”

he’s angry now, too angry—jeongguk could make it better. jeongguk always knows how to make things better, when he’s stressed about school or frustrated with a friend. he knows how to make yoongi laugh. knows how to make him happy.

he’s at the door already, pushing it open as seoyeon tries to trail after him, catching his arm, but yoongi shrugs it off. “don’t make jokes about that,” he tells her one last time, turning to look at her. “you’re not helping me. you’re just a jealous and bitter child who doesn’t know when to let go. i’m not going to go back to you, seoyeon. i’m with jeongguk now. just fuck off.”

yoongi doesn’t even bother to close the door as she stands there and stares after him, but he just turns and stumbles back into the crowd. suddenly, it’s all too much—the music, the people. he spots taehyung halfway to the couch and avoids him entirely, shouldering past some dancing girls so that he can get to jeongguk. he just needs to get to jeongguk, and he’s—shaken, horrified that seoyeon would try to assume anything about jeongguk’s mental health. he wouldn’t put it past her to stoop so low, but it hurts him anyway. makes him regret regret regret.

by the time he gets back to jeongguk, he sees that there’s a small cluster of people crowded around him, listening to him tell some story or do some party trick or—something. in his drunkenness, jeongguk has opened right up, all bright eyes and excitement, and it’s strange how their roles have changed entirely in the matter of only minutes.

but he doesn’t care. yoongi squeezes himself into the circle, reaching out for jeongguk’s hand as he says, “can we go?” it’s desperate, a little. jeongguk looks at him, pausing mid-sentence, and must see the pain and desperation in yoongi’s eyes, for he just nods. gets up despite the protests from the others around him, and slips a hand around yoongi’s waist to keep him close as they head back the other way and out of the house. seoyeon is already nowhere to be found.

yoongi doesn’t say anything as they stumble out into the silent night, pulling jeongguk down the street. and jeongguk doesn’t ask either, at least until they’re a few blocks away and the sounds of the party are long behind them and yoongi stops walking so fast. he realizes that they’re holding hands, but he doesn’t let go. doesn’t really want to.

finally, near a deserted intersection, jeongguk tugs on his hand and pulls yoongi to a stop. “what was that about?” he asks.

“don’t wanna talk about it,” says yoongi, sniffing. “just—dumb stuff. dumb ex stuff.”

jeongguk rubs his thumb over the back of yoongi’s hand. “i’m sorry,” he says.

“s’not your fault.”

“i’m still sorry.”

he would have none of this trouble if he and jeongguk weren’t pretending to date. he knows that, but—he also wouldn’t have the goodness of it either. he wouldn’t have this. he and jeongguk would probably be friends, but this is something else. there’s something caught in the thicket of yoongi’s heart, trying to crawl its way up and up even though he won’t let it. and jeongguk looks at him under a streetlamp and they’re both drunk and it’s—something. it’s always something.

yoongi doesn’t want to think about seoyeon. he remembers, vaguely, that he’d planned something more for tonight and he searches in his memory for it as jeongguk holds his hand and looks at him and neither of them say anything.

then—“the notebook,” mumbles yoongi. “i was gonna—we were. hey.” he turns to look at the intersection, at the deserted street. he’d asked jeongguk about this one weeks ago and jeongguk had sort of giggled, and in his desire not to break all of his bones, yoongi had written it off. but he’s just drunk enough for it, and it feels right. feels like a good way to make the night better, to put seoyeon’s disgusting words out of his mind.

“c’mere,” says yoongi, stepping off of the curb and tugging jeongguk with him. jeongguk comes willingly, unlike allie, but that’s to be expected.

“what we you doing?” asks jeongguk, and yoongi drops his hand in favour of standing in the middle of the crosswalk and then crumpling down until he’s lying on his back. it’s less graceful than it looks in the movie, but it’s good enough. it’s different, too, because in the notebook, it takes an awful lot of convincing for allie to get onto the ground with noah. they almost get run over by a car, and yoongi is hoping that doesn’t happen here, but it still works.

he turns his head to look at jeongguk, standing beside him and grinning. “what are you doing?” asks jeongguk.

“i don’t know the lines,” says yoongi, staring up at the sky. “you’ll have to do them for me.”

“my dad and i used to come out here,” begins jeongguk automatically, and yoongi closes his eyes and lets his voice fill him and fill him, pretending that they really are noah and allie. that they’ll have this sort of love for their whole lives, even when one of them begins to forget. “lay down and watch the lights change, watch ‘em go from green to red to yellow.”

yoongi grins, suddenly remembering one of the following lines. “that’s your problem,” he says. “you don’t do what you want.” he’s not looking, but—he hears the intake of breath anyway, and he’s too drunk to be having this conversation. too drunk to be here, and if a car comes, he’s not going to be able to get up and out of the way before it runs him over, but maybe he doesn’t mind. not—the death thing, but being here with jeongguk. feeling like they’re the only two people in the whole goddamn world, the way it should be.

he feels more than hears jeongguk get onto the ground beside him, their shoulders and thighs pressed together. yoongi finally opens his eyes, turning his head to look at jeongguk again with a bit of a funny grin on his lips. earlier, he thought that it was too easy not to pretend. now he’s wondering if they’re really doing this for anyone else’s benefit, if anyone even cares as much as they’re making it out to be.

“what happens if a car comes?” asks yoongi.

the light changes.

“we die,” says jeongguk.

and then—they both start giggling. maybe it’s the alcohol or the adrenaline from doing this—re-enacting some stupid scene from a love story, risking their lives for it. but it’s what jeongguk wants, and yoongi knows without having to think that he’ll do anything to give jeongguk what he wants. to make him happy, to hear him laugh like that, echoing into the night.

it’s not part of the movie, but yoongi says it anyway—“i’m glad you came with me tonight.”

“yeah?” asks jeongguk, lolling his head to look at yoongi.

“hm. yeah.”

“sorry i was a wet blanket at first.”

yoongi giggles. “i don’t blame you, especially with the taehyung thing. we had fun anyway.”

he feels jeongguk’s fingers on his hand, first just a brush of pinkie against pinkie. then careful, careful—their fingers twist together, locking hand in hand in the middle of the street. for the first time, it doesn’t feel like it’s pretend. there’s no one here, no one to see them, no one to pretend for. and something hot burns in yoongi’s stomach at the very thought.

“are we gonna do the slow dancing, too?” asks jeongguk. “like in the movie?”

“i might be too drunk for that,” says yoongi. “and also too drunk to get up.”

“we’ll get run over for real, hyung.”

yoongi makes a groaning noise, especially when jeongguk pulls himself up into a sitting position, then a standing position without letting go of their hands. he tries to haul yoongi up to, and he does reluctantly until they’re both standing again and he’s sort of clutching onto jeongguk’s chest, which—is perfect, in a way. jeongguk’s hands move a little, until they’re on yoongi’s waist, and they’re still in the middle of the intersection and the light changes and jeongguk begins swaying side to side, dancing.

“it’s just like the notebook,” breathes jeongguk, lips pressed to the crown of yoongi’s head. yoongi hums.

“without the part where one of us marries someone else,” he says. “not even seoyeon.” he’s reminded of her, of her words. you know he’s sick, right?

but yoongi looks at jeongguk, and sees—perfection. sees beauty and wonder and awe. sees so much more than his jealous ex-girlfriend ever could, no matter what kind of things she tries to throw at him. jeongguk looks down at him, then, and he’s grinning, and. it’s good. they’re slow dancing in the street with no music, and that’s perfect. he’d do it even without the bucket list.

eventually, they get back to jeongguk’s dorm only half a mile away, planning on picking up yoongi’s car in the morning. yoongi falls into jeongguk’s bed first, not even bothering to take off his shoes, and is just awake enough when jeongguk joins him to tug and tug until jeongguk is cuddling him properly, nose pressed to the back of yoongi’s neck, arms tight around his waist. if they’re noah and allie, maybe this is how they slept, in love and in love. maybe yoongi can pretend it’s not pretend.

❤ ❤ ❤

the next morning, neither of them really say anything about it. it’s just—easier, maybe, or jeongguk just complains about a terrible hangover so yoongi goes into caretaker mode instead of worrying about feelings. because there are no feelings; this is all fake, of course, and yoongi just had a moment of weakness in his drunkenness. there are enough snapchats of them and pictures on instagram or facebook with them in the background to remind him of that, even if he can’t stop seeing the look on his face in all of them when he’s watching jeongguk.

he should have gone into fucking theatre school.

they continue as they have always continued. school, hanging out on the weekends, trying to find ways to tick things off of jeongguk’s bucket list, which is slowly beginning to dwindle. jeongguk added a few things, which is nice. yoongi ignores the feeling in his chest that has him relieved that it hasn’t come to an end just yet—because he doesn’t really know what’s going to happen after, and it’s so much easier not to think about it.

they watch love 911. and yoongi can see why jeongguk loves it so much, except—he watches the part that jeongguk wants to re-enact and can only frown as soon as the movie fades to the credits and jeongguk turns to him with a beaming smile.

“no,” he says immediately. “do you think i can lift you like that? really? you’re like, four hundred percent muscle and i don’t go to the gym enough.”

“we have to do it,” says jeongguk, clambering off of the couch and tugging a reluctant yoongi up as well. “it’s on the list! and you agreed to do everything on the list!”

“can i retroactively add a clause to the contract that allows me to reserve the right to refuse to do any of the things on your bucket list?”

there’s popcorn butter on jeongguk’s hands, making yoongi’s wrist slick and buttery. he wrinkles his nose, tugging his hand out of the other’s grasp, and the ending credits are still rolling, some romantic song through the speakers, and jeongguk is looking at him like that. “i’ll lift you, then,” says jeongguk.

which—is worse. “fuck no,” says yoongi. “there is no way i’m letting you lift me.”

“why?” asks jeongguk. “if you don’t want to lift me, then i have to lift you.”

“i’m your hyung!”

“that doesn’t mean i can’t lift you!”

“it’s embarrassing.” that’s the crux of it, probably—yoongi doesn’t want to let go of his pride long enough to let jeon jeongguk, the kid who used to follow him around daegu with puppy eyes, lift him any amount of inches or feet into the air. and there’s no one around to see them, but still. it’s the principle of the thing.

jeongguk, though—he’s grinning that grin again, the one that makes yoongi’s stomach swoop. it’s a shit-eating grin, and it shouldn’t make yoongi feel anything at all, but he still takes a little step back. “you don’t have to be embarrassed that you’re smaller than me, hyung.”

“i’m not,” huffs yoongi, slapping at jeongguk’s hand when it reaches out between them, like he’s going to try something funny. “i just don’t want you to lift me. you’ll probably drop me and i’ll break my tail bone.”

“you just called me four hundred percent muscle.”

“i take it back.”

hyung.

“jeon jeongguk, don’t you fucking dare—” except he doesn’t back up fast enough for jeongguk to come after him, and yoongi shrieks as jeongguk rushes at him and grabs him, hands around the backs of his thighs as he scoops yoongi up like he doesn’t weigh much at all. yoongi moves automatically, legs hitching on jeongguk’s hips as jeongguk kind of stumbles with the momentum, laughing as yoongi finally manages to close his mouth and sees that—oh. oh.

jeongguk’s kind of just… holding him there. for the first time, yoongi is taller than him, head titled down as jeongguk looks up at him. this is the part, he thinks, where jeongguk is supposed to kiss him.

or—not jeongguk. but in the movie. this is where they kiss, this was the point of the lift in the movie. they kiss in the middle of the street and it’s heroic and beautiful and the whole point, but jeongguk hadn’t really specified in the list that they were supposed to do the kiss. they did say that they could kiss for the movie moments, so realistically, they could, maybe they should, and yoongi’s breath hitches in his throat when he realizes that maybe maybe maybe he wouldn’t mind it maybe that’s what he wants maybe maybe—

it’s only then that yoongi feels it: jeongguk’s hands on his ass.

the realization, more than the first, comes as more of a shock and he shrieks again, lurching forward like it’ll somehow make jeongguk let go of his ass, and jeongguk is laughing again as yoongi shrieks, “that wasn’t part of the deal!” and then he’s leaning too much and jeongguk stumbles backwards, stumbles stumbles and—topples backwards with yoongi still in his grasp.

they hit the floor in a tangle of limbs and jeongguk still laughing, yoongi still shrieking. yoongi’s knees hit the ground first, on either side of jeongguk’s body and he’s still lurching forward, chin accidentally colliding with jeongguk’s forehead.

“ow, fuck!” shouts yoongi, and jeongguk is shaking with laughter beneath him as he rubs at his forehead. at least he’s not touching yoongi’s ass anymore, though. “what the fuck was that?”

“what?” asks jeongguk, giggling. he’s always fucking giggling, and yoongi is trying to be angry at him, but it’s hard. it’s so hard when jeongguk looks like that—all soft in the darkness of the room with only the television screen to illuminate him. he has the good sense to look at least somewhat sheepish. “i thought it was a good substitute for a kiss.”

and yoongi—has to stop himself from saying, you could have just kissed me. it hits him like it did the first time, only moments ago. he wants to kiss jeongguk. he wants to kiss jeongguk.

he leans back instead, ignoring the fact that he’s practically straddling jeongguk, and straightens his shirt. “you’re lucky i didn’t accidentally bite through my lip,” he huffs.

“sorry, hyung,” says jeongguk, finally dropping his hand from his forehead. it lands—on yoongi’s thigh, inexplicably. yoongi looks at it like it’s foreign, like he doesn’t understand, and—

“oh look, you’ve already gotten a bruise,” he chides, grabbing jeongguk’s wrist and raising it to show jeongguk where he’s got a purple bruise on the inside of his arm. “i could have knocked you out.”

jeongguk pulls his arm out of yoongi’s grasp. “you’re not that strong,” he argues, and then giggles when yoongi swats at his shoulder. “you were making such a fuss about you not being able to carry me.” it probably would have gone much worse. but—this is bad, he realizes. they haven’t moved and jeongguk’s hand is back on his thigh and yoongi can’t stop staring at jeongguk’s lips, a little distracted. he should be angrier than he is, maybe, about jeongguk grabbing his ass and falling over and insulting him for being small and weak.

he can’t really focus on that, though, not when jeongguk is just—there. looking like that. looking at him like that.

yoongi sucks in a breath suddenly, clambering off of jeongguk and getting to his feet. he wipes himself off again, like he can wipe that silly desire away with it. it’s not that easy, but—it should be. he wants it to be. he’s not allowed to like jeongguk, not like that. this is fake and it’s supposed to be fake and once they finish the list—one more thing crossed off, one more day closer to going back to their normal lives and maybe pretending none of this ever happened—jeongguk will probably find a real boyfriend. he won’t have the pressure of needing to get everything right now that yoongi has shown him all of it first. and yoongi will… well. he’s not sure what he’ll do. but it won’t be anything to do with jeon jeongguk.

he was never a hopeless romantic, not in the way jeongguk seems to be—so fond of romantic stories, books and movies. jeongguk wants what they have in the movies, but yoongi has always tried to be more rational about it. he’s always tried to keep a level head, tried to be logical. and—it’s not logical to like jeongguk, not when they’re just pretending.

so he helps jeongguk off of the floor. he mumbles something about having homework which sort of amounts to kicking jeongguk out of his apartment, and he has to ignore the slight hurt on jeongguk’s face as he does so. it’s just pretend. he pushes down everything that begins to bubble up as soon as jeongguk is out of his apartment, all of the things that he won’t allow himself to feel. it’s easier that way.

but the days go by. and every time yoongi sees jeongguk, he has to swallow down all of it: the desire to kiss the pretty moles on his face, the desire to hold his hand for himself and not for show. the need to say something, because maybe he should, but—then jeongguk says something about seoyeon, or something about namjoon, or something about showing off. and he remembers. it’s so fucking hard to forget.

all at once, yoongi looks at the list they made together and he realizes that they’ve run out of things to do. they’ve run out of movie moments for jeongguk to re-enact, and—he panics. realistically, it should mean that they end this, that they go back to focusing on their own lives having had some fun together, having fooled everyone. seoyeon hasn’t tried to talk to him for weeks, not since the party, which—is good. which means this worked.

but. but. despite yoongi trying to push down all of those unwanted feelings, all of those unwanted desires, he finds himself awake at two in the morning, obsessively googling top ten most romantic movie moments ever. he makes his own list. he doesn’t want to stop—not this, not now. he blames it on the time of year, in the middle of midterms. it would be too messy to try to stage a break-up now. he doesn’t want to deal with seokjin trying to sleep in his bed every night to comfort him. it’s just easier this way, isn’t it?

yoongi doesn’t say anything to jeongguk about it.

instead: yoongi buys a plastic mailbox to stick outside jeongguk’s dorm room and fills it with cartons of banana milk, trusting that jeongguk will understand the reference to juno.

instead: yoongi spends an entire lunch tucked into jeongguk’s side as he enthusiastically discusses some of his classes with a classmate, and then distractedly starts writing on jeongguk’s hand. he leaves for his own class with a kiss to jeongguk’s cheek, and only pauses at the entrance to the cafeteria to watch jeongguk actually open his hand and see the i love you written there in kanji, just like in kimi no na wa.

instead: yoongi waits until jeongguk is busy trying to study for an exam and slips behind him on his bed, attempting to re-enact the pottery scene from ghost with a book and—it’s hardly as romantic and jeongguk won’t stop laughing at him, but it’s close enough.

instead: yoongi spends weeks and weeks desperately trying to for more. trying to ignore the fact that he knows what it means, that he can’t ignore the fact that he broke the first unspoken rule of the contract: don’t fall in love. it was never—there, but it’s always the unspoken rule in these kinds of arrangements. he’s not supposed to like jeongguk, because this is supposed to be like a business arrangement. they were supposed to help each other and come away with only that help.

not—the way yoongi’s heart beats double time when jeongguk gives him a beaming smile, no matter how tired he says he is. yoongi doesn’t think jeongguk is getting much sleep, always trying to take naps when they’re supposed to be studying, always complaining about not having any energy when they’re on ‘dates’, and yoongi can’t blame him—not with how difficult a first year of university can be. but jeongguk always finds the energy to smile at him like that, almost secret. careful. yoongi hates it.

and not the way that yoongi falls over himself to care for jeongguk when he falls ill near the end of october, too run down from school to actually take care himself. it’s just an infection, jeongguk tells him as yoongi wraps him up in blankets and pushes a bowl of homemade soup into the hands and tells him not to do anything strenuous until he’s feeling back to normal. let me take care of you, yoongi tells him. it feels like there’s something missing in him when jeongguk is sick, but it passes quickly enough and yoongi realizes—

it’s so much more than just wanting to kiss him. it’s so much more than just wanting to spend time with him or not wanting this fake dating scheme to end. he likes jeongguk, properly. he wants to date him the way he dated seoyeon, but different—better. he wants it so much that it makes him heart ache, something unbearable. he doesn’t know what to do about it.

but—jeongguk doesn’t like him back. can’t, shouldn’t, won’t. even when he snuggles into yoongi’s side when they watch another romantic movie, even when he giggles at yoongi every time he comes up with a new movie moment for them to re-enact. he doesn’t complain about the relationship stretching on longer than either of them likely thought it would, but. that’s just because it’s fun. it’s easy. yoongi doesn’t blame him for not saying anything about it, either.

❤ ❤ ❤

for halloween, they dress up as gamora and star lord. makes sense sticking with the movie theme, and jeongguk claims that they fit, anyway. yoongi complains about having to paint all of his visible skin green before jeongguk says he’ll re-enact the scene from guardians of the galaxy where star lord dances to distract the villain from taking over the world, and then yoongi finds it remarkably easy to be green.

maybe it’s just that yoongi isn’t used to this—having someone to go out with, or dress up with, or cling to out in public. he and seoyeon were never the happy sort of couple who did these kinds of things, and seokjin would be hard-pressed to get yoongi to go out in public with him despite having been best friends for their entire lives and living together for the past three years. but he likes being with jeongguk, moreso than just because he’s come to terms with his feelings for the other boy. there’s just something about jeongguk that makes yoongi want to be alive.

“do you think it’s weird that we’re doing stuff for charity instead of going to a party on halloween?” asks jeongguk as he fits the guns in the holsters on his hips—or the blasters or whatever they’re called. maybe yoongi fell asleep when they watched this movie last weekend.

“it’s much better for the world to be doing stuff for charity than getting wasted and waking up in someone else’s backyard with suspicious substances all over you,” yoongi tells him with a grin, and jeongguk giggles as they cram into yoongi’s car again. they signed up for a trick-or-treating food drive for an hour in lieu of going to any of the halloween parties on campus, partially because neither of them are really party people, and partially because it’s been yoongi’s halloween tradition for three years.

“i probably shouldn’t be out too late, anyway,” sighs jeongguk. “i’ve been so tired recently.”

“yeah, because you stay up half the night playing fucking overwatch.”

“i do not!”

“i told your roommate to keep tabs on you, so yes, i know you do.”

yoongi doesn’t particularly want to be out very late either, though. the others at the food drive will inevitably invite them to a party or at least out for a few drinks, but considering the revelation he had the last time he was drunk, he’s not interested in getting drunk and having some other thoughts about jeongguk. especially when jeongguk has what are basically leather pants on, hugging his ass and thighs in all of the right places that are going to yoongi’s head without the aid of alcohol.

the food drive goes much the same way that yoongi expected, considering they decided to go around campus and the surrounding residential areas, which are mainly populated by students: either people aren’t home or they can’t really afford to give a lot of food. yoongi slips a few cans of soup into jeongguk’s bag when he’s not looking, just to make him feel better about not getting it any other way.

“people are kind of shit,” says jeongguk as they start on their last street of the night, having collected a few boxes and bags full of food along with the other people with them. “maybe we should go actual trick-or-treating.”

“i don’t think people who need food are going to want to eat a bunch of chocolate every day, guk,” snorts yoongi.

“some people are really bad for what they give out. like, they give you healthy things or toothpicks or something. we just have to find those people since all of the kids aren’t going to want to take their stuff.”

“i think you just want to get junk food,” yoongi tells him with a grin, knocking their shoulders together. “don’t worry, i bought a bunch of those mini chocolate bars so if you want to crash at my place, i can give you some.”

“hyung, no,” sighs jeongguk as they approach the first house on the street. “i have to stay in shape as star lord. these biceps aren’t going to stay this magnificent if i eat chocolate every day.” yoongi—resolutely does not look at jeongguk’s biceps. why the fuck are superhero costumes so tight, anyway? of course—his costume is tight, too, considering he’s portraying a female character. but he doesn’t have biceps like that.

in lieu of saying anything, he rings the doorbell of the house they’ve approached. they wait a minute before the door opens to reveal a middle-aged woman with a bowl of treats in her hand.

“no,” mutters yoongi, pushing jeongguk’s hand away because he knows what the kid is thinking. then he turns to the woman. “hi, there! my name is yoongi. this is jeongguk. we’re trick-or-treating as a food drive for underprivileged families. we were wondering if you’d have any non-perishable food items that you’d like to donate to help end hunger?”

they stand on the doorstep as the woman disappears into her house, happy to find some cans or other food to donate to them. as they wait, yoongi realizes that jeongguk is—standing kind of close. practically pressed up against him, and yoongi huffs before he reaches over and pinches the other’s thigh.

“what are you doing,” he mutters.

“hyung, it’s cold,” replies jeongguk.

“then you should have chosen a costume with a jacket.” yoongi himself—is far from cold, suddenly. he doesn’t need to feel all of it. and anyway—“she’s going to be weirded out if she comes back and you’re practically trying to dry hump me.”

jeongguk makes a choking noise, but it does the trick as he moves away in time for the woman to come back with an armful of food to give them. at least someone is enthusiastic, and jeongguk wordlessly takes the food without looking in yoongi’s direction.

“what are you supposed to be, by the way?” asks the woman before she closes the door.

“gamora and star lord,” replies yoongi. “from guardians of the galaxy?”

the woman nods, although yoongi isn’t sure if that means she actually understands the reference. she just looks at them for a second before she points to jeongguk and says, “you know you have some green stuff on your neck?” the door closes before she can say more, and yoongi whips around to see that jeongguk does indeed have some green stuff on his neck. the green stuff that yoongi used to paint his own neck, as well as his face and hands.

it looks—incriminating, to say the least.

“what the fuck,” snaps yoongi, smacking jeongguk’s chest. “where did that come from?”

“i don’t know,” says jeongguk, rubbing at his neck with a pained expression.

“now it looks like we’ve been necking in public.”

“we’re supposed to be dating!” protests jeongguk. “i don’t see the problem with that.”

and it’s—weird, maybe, that jeongguk is right. there shouldn’t be a problem with everyone thinking that they’re getting a little frisky in the back alley during halloween. but it still makes yoongi’s cheeks burn, maybe because he’s realized that maybe that’s exactly what he wants. and it’s suddenly a little embarrassing for everyone to assume they’re together when they’re not, when yoongi could never be so lucky.

“whatever, let’s just finish this street,” he huffs, heading back out to the sidewalk. the rest of the street gets them a decent amount of food, as well, although the sun is beginning to go down and it’s getting too cold to continue, so yoongi is glad when they step up to the last house on the street.

as they ring the doorbell and wait, jeongguk keeps himself at a respectable distance, but still leans down toward yoongi’s ear to ask, “what are we doing after this?”

“do you want to go to one of the parties?” asks yoongi, looking over his shoulder. jeongguk wrinkles his nose.

“i’m getting kind of tired,” he admits, and yoongi can’t help but turn a little, reaching up to smooth down jeongguk’s hair in affection. it’s a wonder that they have so many of the same interests, one of which is not doing anything that requires a lot of physical exertion, at least when it comes to dealing with other people.

“we could—” he begins before the door opens behind him and yoongi startles, quickly dropping his hand as he turns to see the young man standing there.

“hi,” begins yoongi, about to introduce the two of them before the man’s eyes flicker over his shoulder and widen, and he hears the choking noise from behind him. “um—”

“jeongguk-ah?” asks the man. yoongi turns over his shoulder again to see jeongguk’s horrified expression, which is—vaguely familiar, although yoongi can’t put his finger on why.

“hoseok-hyung,” begins jeongguk, and then laughs awkwardly, rubbing at the back of his neck. “this is my, uh—boyfriend. min yoongi.” the man—hoseok—turns his gaze toward him again, staring for a second before his lips curl into a huge smile.

“no way!” says hoseok. “it’s good to see you again! and uh, to meet you, yoongi-ssi. i’m a little surprised, considering—”

“we’re doing a food drive,” says jeongguk hurriedly. “for people who don’t have food. if you—have any. that you want to give. please.” yoongi is confused, as he seems to always be when jeongguk meets new people, and jeongguk throws him a desperate glance that has him somehow putting the pieces together himself.

of course—hoseok must be yet another recipient of the dreaded crush letters. the kid really did write a lot of those.

hoseok doesn’t say much more, welcoming them into his house as he goes to find some food for them. when he comes back, with a few items to donate, he’s still grinning that same wide grin. yoongi excuses himself for the better, taking the food and leaving the house so that he can add it to their little collection already in hopes that jeongguk will actually take the opportunity to say something rather than avoiding all mention of the letters like he’s done with the rest of the boys he’s had crushes on.

by the time jeongguk leaves the house with red-tinted cheeks and hoseok calling a goodbye after him, yoongi has almost frozen his nose off, but he kind of smirks as jeongguk joins him.

“that was so embarrassing,” he mutters, grabbing yoongi’s hand and pulling him down the street. “i really never should have written those letters.”

“is he the last one?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk gives him a sheepish grin that clearly means no. yoongi doesn’t ask, though, too amused with the whole situation as they drag all of their food back to where the rest of the food drive group has staked out as their headquarters for the evening. the organizers thank them, offering a few chocolates that has jeongguk beaming all bunny-toothed, and yoongi sighs before he relents and grabs one for himself when they head out.

with a wide open evening, they end up just walking aimlessly. neither of them want to go to a party, so it’s just this—two superheroes, or something like it, wandering down streets that will eventually lead to yoongi’s car, or jeongguk’s dorm, or somewhere in between. yoongi finds that he doesn’t particularly mind where they go, as long as they’re together.

they end up at a diner not far from campus. yoongi orders a massive plate of fries, mostly because jeongguk keeps mentioning them without actually making a move to do anything about it, and milkshakes, too, because he knows jeongguk likes them. the diner is almost deserted, everyone out doing their own things or at halloween parties.

gamora and star lord share a milkshake.

“this is kind of like when harry met sally,” muses jeongguk as he eats a fry, grinning.

“i’ve never seen that,” says yoongi. “don’t ask me to re-enact part of it.” the whole point of their relationship was for the movie moments. but suddenly, yoongi realizes that he likes these moments much better: the ones that are only theirs, the ones that are genuine despite them faking their relationship. those are the ones that he cherishes most, that he’ll remember long after jeongguk has moved on and found someone he actually likes.

jeongguk giggles again. “meg ryan fakes an orgasm,” he says.

yoongi—stares at him. “what?”

“in the movie. she fakes an orgasm in the middle of the diner and everyone’s staring at her. it’s hilarious.”

“alright, well, i’m definitely not doing that,” mutters yoongi, grabbing for the milkshake just to have something else to do with his hands.

“maybe i’ll do it.”

“jeon jeongguk.” yoongi levels him with a warning look, and jeongguk is still giggling as he grabs for more fries, and yoongi thinks that he’ll be the death of him. most certainly.

“fine,” says jeongguk finally, once he’s calmed down some. “not that there’s anyone here. you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed.”

“i’ve been embarrassed by half of the other movie things we’ve done. and those weren’t even actually embarrassing things.”

“what, you don’t like being romantic?”

yoongi tilts his head, considers it. he and seoyeon never did anything romantic for each other, and none of his other relationships in the past ever ventured into that sort of territory. so maybe it’s the first time he’s ever actually done any of these things, or anything like them. he didn’t expect to want to continue. “i have my pride,” he settles on. “reputation. all that. i’m not generally someone who is seen as romantic or willing to make a fool of myself for someone else.”

“i know you’re a big softie, hyung,” says jeongguk. “it’s not your fault that no one else looks hard enough to see it.” it’s supposed to a compliment, or something cute. but maybe jeongguk is telling the truth, that no one has ever really given him the chance. and here’s jeon jeongguk, the boy he’s not even really dating, showing him what it’s like to actually be in love. maybe this whole thing wasn’t just for jeongguk’s benefit.

still, yoongi shrugs. “it’s been nice, though, i’ll admit,” he says as he grabs a fry. “fun, i mean. even though i think i’ve watched enough romantic movies to last me for the rest of my life. i never want to see another love confession so long as i live.”

“it has been fun, hasn’t it?” grins jeongguk. “i know i’ve said it before, but—i mean, thank you, really. for doing this for me.”

“i still don’t get why you’re so adamant about it in the first place. but i’m happy to help. you’ve helped me, too, with seoyeon and everything—i think she might officially be off my back.”

“good,” grins jeongguk, and then—it falters, just a little. he looks down at their plate of fries, half-eaten, and somehow, yoongi knows what he’s thinking. “i think we’ve pretty much gotten everything on the list, too. although you keep doing things i don’t remember telling you about.”

yoongi feels like a deer in headlights when jeongguk looks at him again, like he can see right through him. “well,” he begins, shifting in his seat. “i thought it would be nice for me to add some of my own things, just to make it… better.”

the grin on jeongguk’s face is secret, almost. careful. so fucking fond that it makes something in yoongi grow warm and warm. “yeah,” he says. “it did make it better.”

“how can you be such a hopeless romantic but never have had a boyfriend before?” asks yoongi, curious.

jeongguk’s face falls, just a little. “i dunno,” he admits. “i guess i was too busy trying to make it like the movies to realize that it rarely happens like that. sometimes the person you’re meant to be with isn’t the one you think it is.” he shrugs, cheeks colouring. “besides, i’ve just never had time or been in the right place for it, you know? relationships are hard work.”

“you can say that again,” sighs yoongi. “they’re overrated lots of the time, too, so you probably dodged a bullet with that one. even if you couldn’t stop yourself from having crushes.”

the other lets out a groan. “i still can’t believe those letters got out. and i’m still having to deal with it.” yoongi thinks of hoseok, of his surprised face. hopefully jeongguk has gotten better with dealing with them so he can maybe talk to namjoon for once. “i know my sister had the best intentions in mind when she sent them out, but it’s caused so much trouble.”

“you got me out of it, though,” says yoongi. “so it can’t be all bad.”

despite the blush on his cheeks, jeongguk knocks his foot against yoongi’s under the table and says, “you’ve been the biggest trouble of all. i can’t believe i have to hang out with you all the time.”

“excuse you,” laughs yoongi. “i’m a wonderful person!”

“you’re annoying,” giggles jeongguk. “and you don’t even know romantic movies. how can i be dating someone who hasn’t even seen when harry met sally?”

they kind of dissolve into a mini food fight after that, playfully bickering about movies and the like. and yoongi realizes that he likes this much better than parties or anything else that he could have been doing on a night like this. and they’re coming to an end of all of this—yoongi has run out of movie moments to surprise jeongguk with. seoyeon is nowhere to be found, for the most part. and they’re still pretending, neither of them willing to admit to the truth of it, and it scares yoongi.

he doesn’t think about it. instead, they pay for their milkshake and fries and head out of the diner hand in hand, yoongi pulling a black mask back over his mouth when he feels how cold it is. it might not go with his costume, but he’s more interested in keeping himself from getting a cold than looking exactly like a green creature from some movie he only watched half of.

jeongguk must notice how he shivers, though, because he presses the entire length of his body against yoongi’s back when they’re waiting at the nearest stoplight, wrapping his arms around yoongi’s stomach. for some reason, yoongi finds himself saying, “we’ve both accomplished what we wanted with this, haven’t we?”

he feels jeongguk stiffen just a little. the walk light goes on, but neither of them move, and yoongi—doesn’t want this to end. but they have to talk about it.

back when they started this and wrote the contract, they didn’t put an expiry date on the relationship. they didn’t know how long they would need to keep acting, but they said that they would continue for as long as seoyeon was trying to get back together with yoongi, and as long as they had things to do on the list. but seoyeon hasn’t spoken to yoongi in weeks, and they’ve both run out of movie moments to add. they could find more—they could always find more, but it’s just going to come to this realization anyway.

“yeah,” says jeongguk. “i guess that could be it?” it’s not—something he should be sad about, when jeongguk says it like that. they were never a real couple, so breaking up shouldn’t matter, but. but.

“i dunno,” whispers yoongi. “i don’t know if i want that to be it.”

“me neither,” whispers jeongguk.

and—yoongi stops, just a little. his breath hitches in his throat, turning around in jeongguk’s grasp to look at him. jeongguk’s eyes are wide and open and vulnerable. has yoongi been reading the situation wrong this whole time, thinking that he was the only one pretending to be pretending?

“no?” he asks.

“why did you really add all of those things to the list?” asks jeongguk carefully.

it’s an opportunity. and yoongi has to keep himself from trembling, eyes focusing on the spot on jeongguk’s neck that is green, the body paint rubbing off on him.

“i got scared,” he admits. “of—having to have this conversation. of running out of things to do and us stopping this whole thing and just going back to being friends. so i kept adding things so we could keep pretending.” there’s something unspoken in it, the other half—because i don’t want to stop pretending.

his eyes focus on jeongguk again. there’s some halloween song playing faintly from within the diner only feet away, the monster mash or something. he doesn’t think this is any part of any movie, even though the same things run through all of them: the nervousness, the waiting. this is his own love confession, he realizes, no matter how sick of them he’s gotten.

“so does that mean—”

“yeah,” yoongi breathes. suddenly, it’s too hot despite the weather. “i don’t know. i know i broke the unspoken rule. and it’s fine if you want to break up or whatever and we can go back to being friends or not even friends—”

“hyung,” says jeongguk, and when yoongi actually looks at him, he’s grinning. “hyung. i broke the rule, too.”

“oh,” says yoongi. it’s not—quite what they should be saying. they’re skirting around it, but maybe they both know. and yoongi stands and stares at jeongguk and tries to see how he missed it, tries to remember all of the times jeongguk smiled at him or held his hand or did anything that could have been acting but wasn’t, maybe. maybe none of it was.

and maybe they don’t really need to say it. his eyes skirt to jeongguk’s mouth, not so far from him, and jeongguk is still holding onto him, and. and. he doesn’t want to pretend anymore.

“hyung,” breathes jeongguk, and he looks up again. he couldn’t mistake this—the way jeongguk is looking at him. the way he wants and wants and wants. carefully, jeongguk lets go of him and moves his hands to yoongi’s mouth, fingers catching on the black mask that separates them. slowly, he tugs it down until it’s snug under his chin, and yoongi stops breathing, and jeongguk whispers—“this is just like spiderman.

and yoongi, lips curling into a stupidly fond grin, mutters, “wrong movie, guk,” before he leans up and kisses jeongguk.

for the first time, it’s not like any movie. for the first time since this relationship started, yoongi doesn’t feel like he’s pretending anymore, or like he has to. here, he isn’t gamora or jack dawson or anyone else. here, he’s min yoongi. here, he isn’t in a movie or a book or a play. it’s real life, for the first time, and they’re making their own sort of love story—maybe not as smooth as the ones in a movies. and maybe he has no idea how it’s going to end and maybe it won’t end happy or maybe it will but it doesn’t matter. yoongi doesn’t care about the movies anymore.

what he cares about is: jeongguk kissing him back, gently at first, and then more insistently. his lips are cold but there’s only heat in yoongi’s chest as his fingers curl into the lapels of jeongguk’s leather jacket to pull him closer.

what he cares about is: the little sound that jeongguk makes when yoongi dares to run his tongue along jeongguk’s bottom lip, asking permission, and how his thumbs run over yoongi’s cheekbones and how he blossoms like a flower until yoongi’s touch.

what he cares about is: all of it. jeongguk tastes like a chocolate milkshake. he tastes like peanut butter, a little, which means he ate yoongi’s reeses pieces even though he promised that he wouldn’t, and yoongi giggles at that, for some reason. jeongguk swallows the sound right down, tilting his head and finally deepening the kiss. it’s cold and wet, a little, and yoongi is suddenly keenly aware of the fact that his entire face is green, which means jeongguk’s face is going to be green, and that’s so much worse than a little green paint on his neck.

he doesn’t have to fake the rabid beat of his heart, or the need to pull jeongguk ever closer. he doesn’t have to pretend that it goes straight to his head, or that jeongguk pressing kiss after kiss into the corner of his mouth—the middle of his bottom lip, his cupid’s bow—has him feeling all sorts of giddy.

for the first time in their relationship, yoongi knows exactly what’s real and what’s not. and this—there’s no pretending.

“i’m getting you all green,” mumbles yoongi when he finally gets too cold, pulling away just enough to brush his lips against jeongguk’s. “everyone’s gonna know.”

“i guess that means we can’t stay out in public,” replies jeongguk.

yoongi giggles. “is that your way of asking to come over to my place?”

“depends if it worked.”

it did—does. yoongi washes the green off of his face, mostly because he’s not sure it’s safe to be consumed in any amount, and they spend the rest of the night lazily making out in yoongi’s bed because jeongguk insists on re-enacting every kiss from every movie he’s ever seen, even if it’s not perfect. yoongi lets him get away with it anyway, because it’s jeongguk. it’s always jeongguk.

❤ ❤ ❤

the next morning, while jeongguk is still sleeping in yoongi’s bed, seokjin greets yoongi coming out of the shower the same way he did months ago when yoongi started fake dating jeongguk—at the kitchen table, mug in hand, staring yoongi down.

the first thing seokjin asks is, “why are you green?”

“i think i got the wrong kind of body paint,” says yoongi.

“i… don’t even want to know.” then—“so you’ve been getting pretty cozy with that boyfriend of yours.” seokjin sips at whatever’s in his mug obnoxiously loudly, keeping his hard gaze on yoongi over the lip of the mug.

yoongi suddenly feels extraordinarily uncomfortable. “yeah, well,” he says, clearing his throat. “he’s my boyfriend.”

“i got a very interesting letter yesterday,” says seokjin, and yoongi’s—stomach drops. “from my mom. well, not from my mom—it was sent to my house in daegu and she forwarded it to me even though it was sent at the beginning of september.”

for a lack of anything better to say, yoongi replies, “she should probably go through her mail more often.”

“don’t you want to know what it says?” asks seokjin. “it was written by your boyfriend.”

yoongi doesn’t remember how many letters jeongguk said he sent. only that more and more boys he used to have crushes on keep popping up, and of course one of them would be yoongi’s own roommate and best friend.

“no,” he says, then, turning and heading toward his bedroom.

“he said my face is more beautiful than yours!”

“he was probably like, ten!” yoongi shouts back. “also, he’s mine!”

and—he’s not. not really. but just like that, yoongi realizes he wants him to be.

but yoongi doesn’t see jeongguk for three days. it’s just—life, unfortunately. yoongi has a midterm that morning, which means he leaves jeongguk still sleeping in his bed (after watching him for long enough that it might be considered creepy and giving him enough forehead kisses to have jeongguk almost stirring) as he runs off to school. by the time he gets home, jeongguk is long gone, and there’s only a text on his phone about how long of a shower jeongguk took to get the green paint off of his face.

but yoongi knows, of course, that they have to talk. he doesn’t think either of them are very good at that, considering how they ended up fake dating in the first place, but he has to be brave. has to be an adult. it’s clear that something has changed, and now that they’ve crossed a line they didn’t think they would, there are things to be said. namely: does jeongguk like him back? was it just some strange occurrence, once before jeongguk wanted to try it? is there something more?

he wonders, vaguely, if transitioning to dating jeongguk would be much different from fake dating him. other than them knowing that it’s real now, he’s not sure it would look any different. he’d still want to hold jeongguk’s hand in public, still want to watch stupid romantic movies on the weekend if that’s what jeongguk wants. and—he could kiss jeongguk, too. the thought makes him giddy, makes him want and want even more.

but he doesn’t see jeongguk the first day, because they’re busy. after the first evening, jeongguk stops replying to his texts, too, which isn’t so strange—sometimes they just don’t talk for a few days. they’re the same in their introversion, in sometimes just needing to not worry about the pressure of responding to messages.

but it’s weird, maybe, that jeongguk stopped replying once yoongi mentioned meeting up again. to talk, of course, but—just to see each other again. after having even just a taste of what he wants so badly, yoongi isn’t sure he could go so long without seeing jeongguk again. without knowing.

yet, jeongguk doesn’t text him back. doesn’t see him the first day, or the second. it’s only on the third, when jeongguk doesn’t turn up for their preplanned weekly lunch date in the campus café that he gets worried. and yoongi thinks—maybe jeongguk got scared. maybe he was happy to kiss yoongi on halloween and then changed his mind, or realized that it was a bad idea. maybe he doesn’t like yoongi as much as yoongi likes jeongguk, and… maybe that’s alright. maybe it’s understandable. despite the way it makes his heart hurt, yoongi couldn’t fault him for it.

but that doesn’t mean he’s going to let jeongguk hide from him.

at this point, he has the other boy’s schedule memorized, so if jeongguk isn’t going to come to him, yoongi decides he’ll go to jeongguk. it’s where he finally sees jeongguk after those three days, with the memory of their kiss still burning brightly in his mind—after jeongguk’s intro to psychology class, thursday afternoons. he watches the first years file out of the classroom with anxiety burning in the pit of his stomach, and when he catches sight of a familiar head of hair, his heart lurches.

“hey,” says yoongi as he squeezes through the crowd, hand catching on jeongguk’s wrist. “hey, guk-ah.”

jeongguk turns, startled, eyes wide. he stares at yoongi.

“hey,” yoongi tries again. “why aren’t you answering my texts? you didn’t show up at the café today either.” he sees the way jeongguk’s eyes skirt sideways, like he’s searching for an escape. and yoongi’s heart sinks, all hope that maybe jeongguk was just too busy to say anything fleeing from his mind. “i—i mean, if you think halloween was a mistake and you don’t… actually care about me, that’s okay, but i—”

“you think i don’t care?” asks jeongguk, frowning at him now.

“what else am i supposed to think? you’ve been ghosting me for three days.”

for the first time, he really sees hurt in jeongguk’s eyes. the younger shakes yoongi’s grip off of him. “yeah, well,” he says. “i think it’s for the best if we don’t do this anymore, hyung. i hope you had your fun while it lasted.”

“what?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk is already retreating. “jeongguk—wait, what are you talking about? you can’t just break up with me.”

“don’t blame this on me,” says jeongguk. “you know, i really liked you, hyung. properly. i shouldn’t have been so stupid to think that you’d actually want to be with me after everything.”

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi desperately, reaching out for him again, but yoongi takes a step back. “jeongguk, stop. just talk to me—”

“why don’t you talk to your girlfriend instead?” snaps jeongguk, and. yoongi stops. stares. by the time he thinks to say anything more, jeongguk is already gone, swallowed by the crowd of students filling the hallway. and yoongi stares after him, trying to understand—the tear in his heart, the words that jeongguk said. the way he looked so hurt, like yoongi had done anything more than kiss him.

but—why don’t you talk to your girlfriend instead?

yoongi sets his jaw. of course.

“what the fuck did you do?” he snaps the moment the call goes through, not even bothering to say hello or wait for a response.

there’s a pause, briefly. then—“hello to you, min yoongi,” says seoyeon, voice as sickly sweet as it always is when she’s done something horrible and knows it. yoongi’s free hand curls into a fist at his side, pacing just outside of the doors to the arts building because he couldn’t wait.

“what did you do?” he repeats.

“i’m sorry, i have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“seoyeon. i know you talked to jeongguk about something and now he’s angry at me and won’t talk to me, so what the fuck did you say?”

seoyeon’s laughter is sharp and loud, and yoongi winces as it crackles through the phone. “i’ve talked to so many people in the past few days, yoongi, dear. do you think i’d remember what i said to him?”

yoongi grits his teeth. takes a deep breath to keep himself from throwing his phone at the wall, and then tries again. “seoyeon, please,” he says, quieter now. “he told me to talk to you. so i’m talking to you. tell me what you said to him.”

he imagines her now, grinning that grin of hers when she knows she’s gotten what she wants. and he was so stupid to think that seoyeon not constantly texting him meant that she’d actually given up, not when she’d been so obsessed with him while they were dating. not when she’d been so angry when jeongguk showed up. he should have seen this coming. he should have done better to protect jeongguk from her, but he was too busy being infatuated to worry about it.

“let’s see,” says seoyeon. “jeongguk… what did i say to him? oh yes. i told him the truth, yoongi.”

“and what exactly is that, seoyeon?”

“i told him that you never actually cared about him,” says seoyeon, too fucking cheerful. and that you were just using him to get to me. and that you wouldn’t want to be with someone like him because i told you the truth about him. isn’t that right, yoongi? that you were just using him to make me jealous? i know you. i know that you want me back. so i told him that he can get out of the way now that we are going to get back together.”

yoongi—doesn’t bother stopping himself this time, letting out frustrated yell as he doesn’t even hang up before he throws his phone away from him. not toward the wall, thankfully, but away anyway.

he’s halfway across campus before he thinks that he might need it, but it’s too late anyway. he doesn’t know where jeongguk is, but he’s going to take a chance as he gets into jeongguk’s dorm building, taking the stairs two or three at a time. of course seoyeon tried to fuck with his relationship. of course she lied. and he has no idea why jeongguk would believe her, but he has to set it straight, has to prove to jeongguk that none of it is true. everything is on the line now, suddenly—and yoongi finally realizes that there’s no way he could escape it: all that he feels for jeongguk. the idea of losing him now is too much to bear.

“jeongguk!” he yells once he gets to jeongguk’s floor, ignoring how out of breath he is in favour of running for the right dorm room and pounding on it with his fist. “jeongguk, please open up!”

there’s a muffled shout of go away from inside.

“jeongguk-ah, please,” says yoongi, knocking again. “please, you have to listen to me. seoyeon was lying to you.”

he thinks that—that will do the trick. but there’s nothing, and yoongi drops his fist, the exertion finally hitting him. he’s breathing hard, standing so close to the door that he could almost melt right through it.

“jeongguk,” he tries again, quietly. “please open the door.” he imagines—jeongguk on the other side, hand on the doorknob, like he just has to convince himself that whatever seoyeon said was a lie. and yoongi can’t blame him for being angry, but that anger shouldn’t be directed at him.

“i said go away,” says jeongguk through the door, much closer this time. yoongi knocks his forehead against the wood, squeezing his eyes shut.

“she was lying to you,” he tries again. “jeongguk, i—i do care about you. of course i care about you. and i’m not getting back together with her. i never would. you know how i feel about her.” the truth is—does he? yoongi doesn’t talk about seoyeon for a reason. but when this whole thing started, he told jeongguk that he wanted to get seoyeon off of his back. there’s no way that jeongguk could think that those feelings have changed.

“i don’t care about that,” says jeongguk.

“then why won’t you open the door?”

he imagines jeongguk doing it. imagines falling forward a little bit because he’s pressing his weight against the door, and he imagines jeongguk standing there and making him explain. he imagines what he would say and how he would confess everything and how they would be okay.

but—that’s not what happens.

what happens is: “i don’t believe you, hyung,” says jeongguk, so quietly that yoongi almost doesn’t hear it. “i don’t know why you would want to be with me when i’m like this.”

“jeonggukkie,” breathes yoongi, and he feels—all of it, just like that, slipping away from him. there’s pressure at the back of his eyes, tears stinging there, and he pounds his fist against the door again, this time in frustration. “jeongguk, please. open the door. please let me talk to you. you have to believe me.”

“just leave me alone,” comes the reply. “this was a mistake, hyung. all of it.”

“jeongguk, no,” whispers yoongi. “no, it wasn’t. i don’t know what you’re talking about.”

after that—he doesn’t hear anything. yoongi stands with his forehead and hand pressed to the door, trying to stop himself from crying like a fucking idiot, and he doesn’t hear anything. and he waits, because maybe jeongguk will change his mind. and maybe he’ll finally understand why, but—he just waits. and waits.

eventually, someone walks by and asks if he got locked out of his room, and then yoongi finally leaves, realizing that—maybe it was his fault, after all, for breaking the unspoken rules. for developing feelings in the first place, for expecting anything from jeongguk when he shouldn’t have. and jeongguk won’t talk to him and it’s seoyeon’s fault for causing this, but.

it shouldn’t matter. because none of it was real to begin with, right?

❤ ❤ ❤

yoongi doesn’t hear from jeongguk after that—not for weeks. at first, it’s just jeongguk not texting him back or returning his calls or responding to any of his other attempts for communication. after a week, yoongi stops trying, knowing that all of his messages are going to go unanswered anyway. he sees jeongguk on campus once or twice, but the other scampers away the moment he spots yoongi, and there’s no point. he has no idea how to make it better when jeongguk won’t talk to him—when yoongi thinks that most of it is his fault to begin with, anyway.

for another few weeks, though, yoongi begins to notice that jeongguk isn’t… anywhere. it’s not just that he’s not texting back. suddenly. jeongguk stops posting on all of his social media. suddenly, yoongi no longer sees him on campus or in the library or in the café. yoongi looks for him, but he can’t find him. he even goes over to the boy’s dorm a few times only for his roommate to tell him that jeongguk isn’t there, cryptic as ever.

he ventures to ask some of the other letter recipients about it. not because he thinks jeongguk would be talking to them, but—they know him, at least. taehyung says that he hasn’t heard from jeongguk for a few weeks either. jimin, when yoongi manages to message him on facebook, mentions something about jeongguk contacting him with the intention of catching up but never following up on it. hoseok doesn’t answer his door no matter how many times yoongi goes over to visit.

it’s only namjoon who actually seems to have some information. after three weeks of radio silence from jeongguk, and after three weeks of the growing worry in the pit of his stomach, yoongi finally goes to namjoon. maybe it’s not his place to talk to him when jeongguk clearly hasn’t made any move to fix things because of the letter, but—it’s his last hope.

“namjoon-ssi,” calls yoongi as he catches namjoon leaving the library, and namjoon turns to look at him before his expression flickers with some vague sort of panic.

“yoongi-ssi,” he says.

“sorry to bother you,” says yoongi, catching up to him and letting out a breath. it’s too cold now, his breath visible in the air. “i just—don’t know who else to talk to. have you heard from jeongguk recently?”

namjoon’s expression changes again, this time to one of confusion. “shouldn’t you know, considering you’re his boyfriend?”

“i’m not—” yoongi begins, and then stops. there’s too much to be said. “i’m not his boyfriend. anymore. well—never really was. that’s not—the point, sorry. have you heard from him? please, he hasn’t been responding to me for a few weeks.”

“i thought you knew,” says namjoon.

“knew what?”

“yoongi-ssi,” says namjoon, and then looks so uncomfortable that yoongi can feel it in his chest. “jeongguk is in the hospital.”

it’s like—everything stops. jeongguk is in the hospital. when yoongi can’t wrap his head around it, can’t say anything, can’t do anything but stare at namjoon with his mouth open, the younger reaches out and takes his elbow. namjoon leads him back into the library, finds some little lonely corner where they can talk properly. and yoongi doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know how he’s supposed to wrap his head around it.

his first question: “what happened? is he okay?”

“it’s,” begins namjoon, then rubs at his neck. “he’s not injured or anything. fuck, he really should be the one telling you.”

“well, he’s not,” says yoongi. “so i need you to.”

“yoongi-ssi, did you know jeongguk a few years ago? when he was like, fifteen or sixteen?”

“i’ve known him since he was a kid,” says yoongi. “we stopped talking after i graduated so i don’t really know what went on with him for the past three years, but yeah.”

“okay, that’s fair,” says namjoon. “well. when jeongguk was fifteen, he, uh—he had cancer. leukemia, to be exact. i don’t know all of the details, but it was pretty bad. but he went through treatment and came out the other side just fine.”

yoongi stares at him.

“we’re family friends,” continues namjoon. “and we really tried to help them and him through it, so i was with jeongguk a lot—in the hospital sometimes, or just helping him get back on his feet after. he was fine. he has been fine, but… the type of leukemia that he had has a fifteen to twenty percent relapse rate.”

“oh god,” says yoongi. he’s going to be sick. “oh my god.

“he’s going to be fine,” says namjoon. “i really believe it. but he—a few weeks ago, he went to get tested because he was showing a lot of the same symptoms again. and they admitted him into the hospital right away, and i’ve been visiting as much as i can to see how he’s doing. i think you should probably go, too. it’s really not my place to talk about all of this.”

yoongi has spent three weeks hating himself for developing feelings, hating jeongguk for not just talking to him, when there was something so much bigger happening. suddenly, all of the silly problems with their fake dating don’t matter at all. jeongguk’s life is on the line, and no matter the confidence that namjoon has in treatment, yoongi can’t imagine it. can’t imagine how scared jeongguk is, and how hurt, and how sick.

suddenly, he remembers seoyeon talking to him at taehyung’s party—you know he’s sick, right?

she knew. she knew, and yoongi didn’t, and she told jeongguk that yoongi wouldn’t want to be with him when he’s like that. it all makes sense.

“yoongi-ssi?” he hears, and his attention turns back to namjoon. it’s only then that he realizes there are tears in his eyes. “i’m sorry. i can tell you which hospital he’s at if you want to visit him. i just thought he would have told you, since you’re dating and everything.”

“we’re not,” says yoongi, suddenly. “we never were. it was fake. he—didn’t want to deal with you knowing he had a crush on you because of the letter, so we pretended that we were together to get you and my ex off of our backs, and because he wanted to have the chance to have a boyfriend before he—” yoongi stops. dies, he thinks. jeongguk told him that he wanted to have all of the romantic moments before he died.

of course. it was all right there and yoongi was too blind to see it—or simply didn’t ask, because it was easier. it was always easier to pretend, but it hits him all at once: yoongi doesn’t want to pretend. yoongi likes jeongguk like he pretended to like him for months, or maybe he was never really pretending—and he wants it. wants it all, wants more, and the idea of jeongguk being sick and hurting and all alone has his heart aching in ways he’s never felt before. the idea of losing jeongguk—it’s too much. it’s all too much.

he speeds all the way to the hospital, trying to see through the blur of tears as he does so. by the time he gets there, there’s something heavy weighing on his chest, something that means he can’t breathe. it’s not about only finding out the truth now, more about—the idea that this could be it. that jeongguk might never know what he feels, how none of it was really fake to yoongi, not after the beginning. and even more: the idea that jeongguk is still angry at him, and won’t want to talk to him. or can’t. he can’t let this be the ending.

the nurse gives yoongi the room number with a bored expression, oblivious to the angry sea of emotions in the pit of yoongi’s stomach. each step is one step closer to the truth, but one step closer to despair, maybe—jeongguk is alone when yoongi knocks on the door and peeks his head inside. but he’s also: wrapped up in blankets, small. pale and frail. his undereyes are purple, like plums. yoongi wonders if they are as fragile, too.

“yoongi?” asks jeongguk, sitting upright suddenly when his eyes fall on yoongi, hovering awkwardly in the doorway.

“hey, guk,” he says quietly, doesn’t trust his voice to be able to say anything more. even that sounds pained, voice breaking on jeongguk’s name. he sniffs quietly, wipes at his eyes under the pretence of something else. he doesn’t want jeongguk to know he’s upset, somehow. “is it, um—can i come in?”

for a moment, he thinks jeongguk is going to refuse him. he’s rigid, stiff in the bed, and he doesn’t look like he wants yoongi to be there, but he nods anyway. it’s hardly the first time yoongi has been in a hospital room, but this is different, when it’s jeongguk—he’s not hooked up to any machines, but they’re there anyway. just in case, maybe. there’s a chart above his bed with something about medication. the sheets look scratchy and uncomfortable.

everything is—sterile. wrong. and yoongi stops at the side of jeongguk’s bed, still feeling entirely unwelcome and unsure what to do with his hands. he shoves them in the pocket of his hoodie, focusing on the collar of the hospital gown jeongguk is wearing so he doesn’t have to look at jeongguk’s face. it’s worse, somehow, when he sees a yellowing bruise peeking out from the fabric.

finally, he finds his voice. says, “why didn’t you tell me?”

maybe it’s not the right thing to say. but jeongguk clears his throat a little. “i thought you knew at first,” he admits. “it’s not—i mean. it’s not really a secret that i was sick three years ago. everyone back at home knew, so i think i just assumed that your parents would have told you.”

“they didn’t,” says yoongi. “they—didn’t.”

“right,” says jeongguk. he sounds tired, sounds small. yoongi wants to climb onto the bed and hold him, but he knows he can’t. he keeps his hands to himself. “then when i figured out you didn’t know, i just thought… i didn’t want you to treat me differently. like i was breakable or something, especially with all of the stuff we were doing.”

“i wouldn’t have treated you like that,” says yoongi.

“yes, you would have. everyone treats me differently when they find out.”

you know he’s sick, right? seoyeon had said. you wouldn’t want to be with someone like him. i told you the truth about him.

when yoongi doesn’t respond, jeongguk adds, “it’s okay. i get it, i think. even though i was in remission for almost two years, i still have some residual health problems because of it. and my parents wanted me to be careful in case something came back.” yoongi looks at his face and sees all of that pain, all of that exhaustion. yoongi can’t imagine it, can’t imagine knowing that he has to go through this all over again. “i didn’t tell you because i wanted a chance to pretend i had a boyfriend who saw me as just… a person. not a sick person.”

“is that why you wanted to fake date me?” asks yoongi. “when you said you wanted to experience all those things before you died—”

“i wasn’t talking about when i got old, hyung,” says jeongguk. “i was talking about now.” yoongi isn’t sure if many people fake date their friends, but he doesn’t imagine it’s ever because of this: because jeongguk doesn’t think he’ll get many other chances. and maybe he was right, now that he’s here.

and yoongi wants to be mad, a little, that jeongguk didn’t tell him. but he can’t be, because he can understand. jeongguk just wanted to be himself, just wanted to have some fun with yoongi. he didn’t want his illness or the possibility of his illness to get in the way of things, because it would have—yoongi wouldn’t have let jeongguk get drunk if he had known. wouldn’t have let jeongguk throw him around a little, or go on so many late night adventures. he gets it—but it still upsets him.

“seoyeon was lying,” he adds. “she didn’t tell me about it, jeongguk-ah. and i don’t want to get back together with her, and i wasn’t just using you. i swear—”

“i believe you,” says jeongguk. “i don’t have the energy to fight about it.” yoongi swallows at that, trying to reconcile this jeongguk with the one that he saw only weeks ago: so full of life. and it makes sense, really, when he thinks about the warning signs that he saw. jeongguk was always bruising easily at the end, and was always tired, and got sick so easily. but yoongi could never connect the dots, not when he didn’t know the context.

the thought brings tears to yoongi’s eyes again. he doesn’t want to fall apart here, not when he doesn’t think jeongguk needs someone crying over him—no doubt his family has been doing that, and his friends, and probably himself. so yoongi shakes his head a little, trying to be strong as he asks, “are you okay, guk-ah?”

jeongguk grins at him—tired, resigned. “no,” he says. “but i will be, i hope. i’ve already been through this once.”

that’s the worst part, maybe—that jeongguk fought for his life once, and won. but now his illness is coming back for a second round, and does that mean the fighting didn’t actually work in the first place? and is there a greater chance of him losing this time? and what if he does, and what if does, and what if he does

“it’s called acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” adds jeongguk, like he knows yoongi wants to ask but doesn’t know how to. “my white blood cells don’t work properly because my bone marrow can’t produce healthy ones. it’s gotten all clogged up with immature ones. s’why i bruise easily and get sick and stuff.”

yoongi doesn’t really want to hear it. doesn’t want to, because he hates the idea that jeongguk’s body won’t just work properly, to keep him healthy and happy. his fingers rest on the blankets wrapped around jeongguk’s legs, toying with it as he thinks, as he feels. he doesn’t like it. but jeongguk tells him anyway, because they both know yoongi needs to know.

“the first time, i was fifteen,” he says. “and i had chemotherapy for about six weeks. and then i had remission therapy for six months. they gave me drugs after that, to keep it away, and i thought—” jeongguk stops. wipes at his own eyes, and yoongi aches. “we thought it would be fine, you know? we decided i should go to university and have a normal life, because it was gone for almost two years.” they were wrong, is the unspoken part.

yoongi still doesn’t know what to do with his hands.

“is it—the same process this time?” he asks. means: are you going to be here from now on, what do i do without you, are you going to be okay, are you going to be okay, are you going to be okay?

“mostly,” says jeongguk. “they have to adjust some stuff since it’s a relapse. i’m just… tired, hyung. i’m so tired.

“have you started treatment yet?”

“no,” says jeongguk. “my parents just got here the other day and we have to talk to the doctor about what we’re doing. i’m in here until further notice, though. we’ll figure it out, i guess.”

he thinks of the movies he’s seen about cancer—the horrible parts of chemotherapy: throwing up, losing hair. the pain. he doesn’t want to see jeongguk like that, but he doesn’t want him to be sick either. and it’s not yoongi’s choice, not his body that is fighting against him, trying to take him down day by day. finally, yoongi takes the seat pulled up beside jeongguk’s bed, reaches out. takes jeongguk’s hand.

“i’m really sorry, guk,” he whispers. “i know that doesn’t change anything, but i am. i wish i could do something about it.”

jeongguk shrugs. it’s weird to think that only a few hours ago, yoongi was so worried about feelings. about the fake dating thing, when all of this was going on under his nose. it all seems so silly now, to worry about what he thought was important. this is life and death now—he doesn’t matter what seoyeon thinks, doesn’t matter what the letters said. and it has become ever clearer what he feels. what he wants.

but he can’t burden jeongguk with that, either.

“i’m glad that you gave me the chance that i wanted,” says jeongguk. “that’s what i wanted, you know? to just feel what other people get their whole lives to feel. i don’t—” he stops, takes a breath. “i don’t know what’s going to happen, hyung. and i really don’t want to die, but i might. i have to accept that.”

yoongi drops his head. doesn’t want jeongguk to see the tears that spring to his eyes at that: at jeongguk’s candid acceptance of it, like he’s spent so long thinking about it. and maybe he always knew about the possibility, if the leukemia were to come back. he sounds so tired. like maybe he doesn’t even want to try fighting it, which is the most horrible thing yoongi can think of in the moment.

“please don’t,” whispers yoongi wetly. “die, i mean.”

“i don’t want to,” says jeongguk, squeezing his hand. “but if i do, i just want you to know that i’m really glad we did this. and that you made it so real.”

“that’s because it was real, jeongguk,” says yoongi, lifting his head again. “it was real to me. it’s still real to me.”

and jeongguk just—grins at him a little. like he knows, or like he guessed. that’s the worst of all. “me too, hyung,” he whispers. and is that—it? is that all there is: this acceptance of what happened between them, and how it became so much more real than either of them anticipated, but they’ll never be able to do anything about it? because jeongguk is in the hospital and will be for the foreseeable future and this might be the end and yoongi doesn’t want it to be, but he can’t ignore the fact that it might be? but it’s not about that. it’s not about yoongi’s feelings or what he wants. it’s about jeongguk fighting for his life. it’s about making sure that he’s here for jeongguk in whatever capacity he can be, to support him, to love him, even if it’s not quite in the way he had been hoping for.

“it’s like a bad movie,” says jeongguk after a moment, leaning back on his pillows. “the worst fucking movie. why don’t they have movies about this stuff that end happily?” it’s true, yoongi thinks: someone always dies.

yoongi takes a breath as a new thought pops into his head, just like that. a few weeks ago, when he and jeongguk kissed under the streetlight, he thought that it wasn’t about being part of a movie anymore, but making their own love story. it wasn’t about copying someone else, but stepping out bravely into their world and making a story that couldn’t be rivalled on the big screen.

he knows what he has to do.

by the time a nurse comes in to tell jeongguk that he ought to rest, effectively kicking yoongi out, he has the whole plan formulated in his head. jeongguk looks so tired and sad there in the hospital bed, alone and scared. thinking only about the movies where this always ends badly, and yoongi won’t let him have that. he refuses to let this be a sad ending.

he spends the next few days putting it all together. has a lengthy conversation with the nurses at the hospital, trying to explain why it’s imperative that everything moves forward no matter how against the idea they are. he rounds up all of the others who received letters—even park jimin, all the way from busan. looks back at the bucket list they created months ago, jeongguk’s handwriting detailing the very last item that they never completed, mostly because jeongguk added it as a joke on halloween night—but yoongi promised him that they would do this. he promised jeongguk that he would make it as real as possible. he promised jeongguk that he was going to be the best boyfriend he could, and now the need is greater than ever.

yoongi digs the suit out of his closet. he combs his hair. and then he writes a letter.

❤ ❤ ❤

yoongi doesn’t see jeongguk’s reaction when it starts, considering he’s in the hallway making sure that he can’t be seen. but he sees the little procession anyway—the nurses with little flowers pinned to their uniforms making their way down the hallway, the little band of all the boys jeongguk has loved before. he knows they’ll wheel jeongguk in a wheelchair into the little common area on the floor he’s staying on, and it won’t quite be what jeongguk wanted on his bucket list, but it’s something. it has to be something.

he thinks he hears a quiet, “what’s going on?” from the room when everyone has gathered—only ten or so people, but it’s enough. seokjin peeks his head around the corner of the hallway, giving him a thumbs up, and yoongi nods more to himself than anything. he hears the beginning of only hope playing from inside the room, takes a deep breath, and starts walking.

when he steps into the doorway, he sees jeongguk’s eyes snap to him. they’ve given him flowers, too, clutched in his hands, and when their eyes meet, there’s not much but confusion there. but he sees the moment jeongguk begins to get it—whether from the song or from yoongi’s attire. or from everything else: the nurses and other boys sitting in little chairs facing him, the few decorations that someone managed to throw together.

it’s not quite the grand wedding that jeongguk might have wanted, but it’s something. it’s just like the one in a walk to remember, which might be ironic, because jamie had leukemia in that too, but—yoongi is determined to have a better ending. to make a better ending.

yoongi makes his way down the makeshift aisle, trying to contain the stupid grin at the look on jeongguk’s face—something a little in awe, something still a little confused. there’s no pastor to marry them, but they’re not actually getting married, so he supposes that makes no difference. but he joins jeongguk at the front of the room, clasping his hands behind his back as he faces the other.

“what are you doing?” asks jeongguk quietly.

“i’m finishing the bucket list,” says yoongi. “we had a deal, remember?”

“but,” begins jeongguk, and then flushes a little.

“i promised you at the beginning of this that i was going to do everything in my power to give you the experience that you wanted,” says yoongi. “that means doing everything on the bucket list. even the ones that were kind of jokes. and i know this isn’t—it’s not the same, but. i don’t want it to be.”

“you know she dies at the end of this movie, right?” asks jeongguk.

“i know,” says yoongi. “which is why this isn’t the wedding from a walk to remember. it’s our amazing and fake wedding. and i really believe that you’re going to get really married one day and you won’t need the memory of a fake one, but i’m seeing this through to the end. and—” he flushes a little himself, glancing sideways at the people watching them. he thinks taehyung might be crying a little. yoongi lowers his voice, leaning down so they’re nearer to the same level. “i might have ulterior motives.”

jeongguk’s eyebrows rise. “and what are those?”

“the most important part of a wedding,” says yoongi, “are the vows. so.” he reaches into the pocket of his suit jacket, pulling out a piece of paper. he spent hours trying to get it right last night, writing and rewriting. but he thinks he has it figured out now, and jeongguk eyes him suspiciously as yoongi unfolds the paper and clears his throat.

“jeon jeongguk,” he begins. “i wish i knew how to quit you.”

“oh my fucking god,” mutters jeongguk, and someone from the audience—seokjin, likely—bursts into giggles.

“no, hold on,” giggles yoongi, holding up a finger and hiding behind the paper. he has to get through this properly, without stopping. in a way, they’ve already confessed to each other, but jeongguk doesn’t deserve for it to be in a hospital room when they’re facing the possibility of death. he deserves for it to be like in a movie—like in all of the movies. and that’s exactly how yoongi is going to give it to him.

“hyung—”

“you have bewitched me, body and soul. i never wish to be parted from you from this day on,” he continues, cheeks burning. “i came here with no expectations, only to profess, now that i am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours. jeongguk, i love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. i love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. i love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like i’m nuts.” jeongguk lets out a choked laugh, and yoongi grins, something giddy kick-starting in his heart. “i love that after i spend a day with you, i can still smell your perfume on my clothes. and i love that you are the last person i want to talk to before i go to sleep at night. and it’s not because i’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s new year’s eve.”

he takes another deep breath. peeks over the top of the paper, just in case, and regrets it when he sees that jeongguk’s eyes are shining with tears. “you make me want to be a better man,” yoongi continues. “i vow to fiercely love you in all of your forms, now and forever. i promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love. death cannot stop true love. all it can do is delay it for a while.” he hears jeongguk inhale sharply, just quietly—but yoongi presses on, trying to ignore the wetness of his own eyes.

“you must do me this honor,” says yoongi. “promise me you’ll survive. that you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. i think you’ve still got lightning in you.” he pauses here, hands trembling on the paper. and it’s real, more real than he could have imagined, even if none of the words are his. he takes a breath, lowers the paper enough to actually look jeongguk in the eye.

he forgets about everyone watching them. just looks and sees and knows that jeongguk is more than just the kid that he grew up with, or someone who used to have a crush on him and wrote a letter about it. jeongguk is more than a fake boyfriend, or someone he can pretend to be in love with for a few months. he didn’t expect that it would turn out like this, but he doesn’t think he could be more glad that it did.

“p.s. jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “i love you.”

and jeongguk says—“i know.”

and yoongi laughs a little, watching as jeongguk gets out of the wheelchair, standing until they’re face to face. jeongguk’s still taller than him, and yoongi still resents him for it, but he likes this better—when they’re this close, faces mere inches apart. this is for them now, despite the people watching them.

“hyung,” whispers jeongguk, lips brushing together. “you had me at hello.” and then he kisses yoongi, and it’s not for the bucket list, and it’s not like in any movie that yoongi has ever seen—it’s just them, just all of this love, just all of this damning hope and want and need, all of the aching, desperate things that yoongi feels in his chest.

yoongi ignores the cheering that sounds from somewhere to his left, seokjin’s voice the loudest of them all, as he takes jeongguk’s face in his hands and kisses him back—almost just a press of their mouths because he’s smiling too much, feeling silly and wonderful all at once.

“you’re such a dork,” giggles jeongguk, and yoongi kisses the corner of his mouth.

“worked, though, didn’t it?” he asks. when he pulls back, jeongguk is smiling so, so wide—tears still in his eyes, and yoongi wipes at the corners to dry them. “i promise, jeongguk. this one isn’t going to have a sad ending.”

after, when jeongguk has been embarrassed enough by talking to all of the hyungs that he sent letters to, and the nurses have warned him about getting back to his room before too long, and when everyone has finally cleared out and it’s just jeongguk and yoongi back in the hospital room, holding hands over the end of jeongguk’s bed—

“that was really nice, hyung,” says jeongguk, cheeks colouring. “and i really do love you. it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this, but i’m glad it did. minus the leukemia thing.”

“i’m just really glad we’re both on the same page,” replies yoongi. “i was scared for a while back there that you were just going to keep thinking of me as your fake boyfriend.” he ducks his head a little before adding—“i mean, unless you… just want it to be that. that would be okay, too.”

jeongguk squeezes his hand. the thing is, a dramatic love confession might not mean much—so he knows that he and jeongguk like each other, love each other. but jeongguk is still stuck in a hospital bed. there’s still something in his body trying to kill him.

“i would very much like if you were my real boyfriend,” says jeongguk quietly, and yoongi’s head shoots up again—all that hope, all that want. something in his chest squeezes and won’t let go. and then jeongguk says, “but…”

yoongi looks at him. looks at his tired eyes, at the stupid hospital gown. he gets it.

“i want to be with you, yoongi-hyung,” says jeongguk, looking at him with wide, wide eyes—they could hold the whole fucking universe in them. probably do. “but i don’t want to be with you like this. this isn’t—this isn’t the fault in our stars or my sister’s keeper or whatever. you know? it’s my real life.”

“what do you mean?”

“i mean, it’s—it’s ugly, hyung. all of this. it’s scary and ugly and i don’t want to put you through seeing me suffer like this. i know you’ll probably be here anyway, but it’s different, you know, when you’re my boyfriend and you’ll probably feel like you have to do more to help me. but hyung, you can’t. cancer isn’t something you can take down with your bare hands. i have treatments and they’re going to work. but i have to let them work.”

yoongi wants to say he’s wrong, that he would be able to step back from it. he loves jeongguk and will love him even if they aren’t together officially, and that he’ll worry no matter what. he’ll be here no matter what, but he gets it. he gets it anyway.

“i never wanted it to happen like this,” adds jeongguk. “i didn’t want to get sick again, but i did. and i don’t want to be with you like this. i want to be with you, but i want it to be—when i’m okay, you know? as something to look forward to. when we can actually go out on dates and do stupid things together and not have to worry about me going back to the hospital or getting infections so easily.”

“yeah,” says yoongi, holding his hand tighter. “yeah, i understand, guk.”

“please don’t be mad at me,” whispers jeongguk, and yoongi finally sees that there are tears in his eyes.

“hey,” says yoongi. “hey, no, guk-ah—i could never be mad at you. i want you to be happy and i want you to be healthy, and if you want to wait, that’s okay. i respect you.”

“please wait for me,” says jeongguk, and it sounds—scared, sounds uncertain, and yoongi gets up from his chair, crowding onto the side of the bed so he can lean over to jeongguk and drop a kiss on his forehead. it’s hard, he knows. it’s hard for jeongguk to be sick, to be sick again, but it’s clear that he’s trying not to be afraid. and trying to make sure that he gets through this intact.

“always,” replies yoongi, lips pressed to jeongguk’s forehead as he feels hands curling into the shirt, holding tight. “i’ll do whatever you want, baby. i just want you to be okay.”

jeongguk sniffs. “okay,” he whispers. “i’m sorry that i’m sick.”

“you can’t help it. you didn’t choose it.”

“i still feel bad.”

“hey,” says yoongi, pulling back and holding jeongguk’s face to force them to look each other in the eyes. “hey, jeongguk-ah. baby. this is absolute shit, i agree. but you beat it once, so you can beat it again. and i’ll be here at your side for as long as you want me to be. if you don’t want me to see you like this, i’ll leave no matter how much i want to be here. i’ll respect your decision and you desires and once you get out of here, i’ll take you on the most romantic date in the entire world. i don’t mind prolonging it a bit, because you’re always worth it.”

he sees jeongguk’s face crumple, tears filling his eyes and then spilling over; yoongi catches them with his thumbs, trying to wipe the tears away as soon as they come. it might not do much use, but he’s here. he needs jeongguk to know he’s here.

“i love you, jeongguk,” whispers yoongi. “i’m with you through thick and thin, through cancer and everything else, okay? i’ll be your friend if that’s what you want. and when you’re ready, i’ll be your boyfriend, too.”

because that’s all there is to it, isn’t there? yoongi has spent the last few months learning to fall in love with jeongguk, learning all of the little bits that make him who he is. cancer isn’t going to take that away—isn’t going to take away his desire for something more. but it’s no longer about rushing to do it all before time runs out. jeongguk wanted a chance to be happy, to have what everyone does in the movies, and now that he has… maybe they don’t have to worry about getting it right. maybe they can just be stand hand in hand and work through something like this together and come out of the other side better people. stronger people.

it’s not quite the same—they’re not together. not yet. but they will be. and yoongi will wait as long as it takes.

jeongguk falls asleep like this: on yoongi’s chest, after yoongi manages to wiggle his way onto the bed, too. it doesn’t really fit both of them, but they make it work, because they want to—much like the rest of their relationship. and it’s not quite the happy ending that yoongi was expecting, but it’s something. it’s their own love story. it’s better than the movies, because it’s real.

and one day—hopefully soon—he’ll be able to call jeongguk his, properly. the only boy he’s loved before: the only one he will.

in the letter jeongguk wrote to yoongi as a kid, he said: you probably don’t like me the way i like you, but that’s okay. i can wait. jeongguk waited for six years. so yoongi can wait for a few months, a few years. he can wait. jeongguk is worth it.