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we should just kiss, like real people do

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his mouth is like heaven-

 

 

  

There’s a boy from the city sitting in the church.

Jimin doesn’t usually stay to listen to the drone of the priest as he delivers his sermons, or the seemingly endless hymns the church choir sings, but there’s a boy from the city sitting in the church, and something about him makes Jimin stop. Makes him listen.

Something is being said about God - something is always being said about God, but Jimin’s eyes are drawn to the curve of the boy’s shoulders beneath his leather jacket, and how his knee bounces in a nervous tick, or perhaps an impatient one. There are fading bruises over his knuckles, long fingers covering his mouth as he leans forward, elbows braced on his knees.

Everything about him seems desperate to leave, to be outside the ancient looking walls and the stories and prayers that echo within them, but his eyes, slanted and dark, are sharp. They give nothing away, and yet-

And yet-

Jimin thinks this boy from the city, with his dark hair and hurt hands, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on earth.

Something is being said about God. Jimin closes the wooden door that leads to the back hallway, and then makes his way up stairs that creak like old bones to his bedroom in the attic.

 

-

 

Jimin can still taste the strong mint of his toothpaste as he stands outside the church doors, and it clashes unpleasantly with the taste of black coffee that he swallows in large gulps from the travel mug he’d filled before rushing out the door. His sweater, old and threadbare and something he’d bought years ago and can’t bear to part with - can’t truly afford to part with - does little to keep him warm from the morning chill of a fading summer.

He’d stayed up late last night, restless and unable to focus on his work. The maths had been relatively easy to get through, but the chemistry had taken a little more time, pages of sketches filling his notebook until the compounds he’d been trying to visualise finally clicked in his mind. If Jimin were to go back upstairs and see his room in the proper light of day, he knows it’d be a mess: a dinner plate still unwashed in the small kitchen sink, a dirty pile of laundry outside the bathroom door, and stationary and papers spread over his desk.

Jimin shakes his head, as if he’ll be able to physically remove the thoughts from his mind, and promises himself to find the time to give his room an overdue clean.

A familiar car pulls up into the carpark, and Jimin hitches his bag a little higher up his shoulder before walking down the wide stone steps. Gravel crunches beneath the soles of his shoes, a crisp and sharp sound that, along with the slow rumble of the engine, break the heavy silence around him.

Taehyung has turned the heating on high, always more sensitive to the cold, and waits until Jimin relaxes into the passenger seat before reaching into the back of the car. The jacket he pulls out from an old clothes bag is not the one Jimin left with him last night after work.

While his old school blazer had been well-kept, it’d shown obvious signs of age and use. The one Taehyung holds out for Jimin now is new and looks it, the glossy stitches of the school logo on the front pocket gleaming as they catch the light. The fabric is pressed so well it’d look stiff if not for the luxurious black lining inside, soft and silken to touch.

Jimin feels something strange sit heavy on his tongue, something that’s not quite shame, but not quite bitterness, either.

“Taehyung-”

Taehyung purses his lips at the tone of Jimin’s voice, and shakes his head furiously as he puts the car into gear. His long fingers reach out to knock the indicator and signal a left turn, despite the empty road. “Just take it. Please.”

Jimin clenches his hand into a tight fist on the jacket now draped over his lap. “Taehyung-

“It’s an old one,” Taehyung interrupts, voice low and quiet. “It didn’t fit, and I forgot to return it.” He glances at the side mirror. “Take it, Jimin.”

The quiet that falls over them is tense for several long moments. Taehyung reaches out to twist the silver chain hanging between the opened collar of his white shirt, fiddling with the pendant, a clear nervous tick that gives away his discomfort. Jimin purses his lips, intent on staying angry, but can’t help himself from rolling his eyes when Taehyung doesn’t stop glancing over at him.

“Keep your eyes on the road, Tae,” he says finally, and pushes his drink into the cup-holder so he can pull the blazer on. The dark blue fabric smells nice, like freshly cleaned linen, and also a little like the plastic packaging it had originally come in. He moves quickly, careful not to distract Taehyung, and then sits back with a sigh. “Happy?”

Taehyung hums, but his grin is so wide that Jimin worries it’ll split his face. Despite the unease Jimin feels wearing something so expensive, more than everyone knows he can afford, it helps to see Taehyung so happy over something that, for him, is such a relatively small gesture.

“My cousin is coming to visit,” Taehyung begins casually when Jimin has finished his coffee, the gates of their school coming into sight, “from the city.”

Jimin’s mind immediately conjures up the image of the beautiful boy hidden in the pews a few days ago. “Oh?” he hums, noncommittally.

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, “he’s the coolest.” The childish, excited lilt of Taehyung’s voice has Jimin smiling. “Remember, the hyung I used to talk about when we were younger?”

“Yeah?”

Him.” Taehyung then grins, glancing at Jimin as he does. “You’ll love him.”

“I didn’t know I was meeting him.” Though Taehyung had spoken highly of his cousin when they were younger, enough time has passed that Jimin had almost forgotten he existed at all.

Taehyung turns his engine off, pulling the keys out of the ignition, and then turns his wide eyes to Jimin. “Obviously.” He reaches forward to pinch the skin beneath Jimin’s chin, and then pulls back, detaching his phone from the charger. “You’re my best friend, and he’s my best person, so you have to.”

For Taehyung, that reason is logic enough. Though they come from startlingly different backgrounds, Taehyung, raised by his grandparents in a beautiful country home with an abundance of wealth he’ll never quite know what to do with, and Jimin, taken in by the church as a child and working tirelessly to become more than who he is, they aren’t quite as dissimilar as people think.

It doesn’t matter that Jimin isn’t the most impressive person Taehyung knows. At the end of the day, Taehyung loves him enough to introduce Jimin to the person he loves most.

Jimin may struggle with where he comes from, and what the future holds, but he’s never felt out of place at Taehyung’s side.

The problem is remembering that his sweet, giving and well-intentioned best friend is also the richest kid in a school of the already elite.

The moment they step outside the car, they’re swept into a small crowd of students desperate to know how Taehyung spent his holidays, looking at Jimin as if they expect him to have discovered a small fortune since they last saw him so that he’ll be worthy enough to talk to. As always, Taehyung smiles and politely dismisses them, and Jimin keeps his eyes fixed on his phone, busying himself with nothing at all.

Dance ends up taking most of Jimin’s morning, and he barely has time to say goodbye to Taehyung after their afternoon classes before he’s rushing to work. There’s a small bakery in town that Jimin has been working at since he was old enough to, and in between classes and assignments, he tries to cover as many shifts as possible to pay for rent and save up for college.

The customers come in a regular and steady stream: mothers who try to appease their kids with baked goods, and businessmen who come in their too-fancy suits and loud voices, ordering coffees and teas like they’re in a Starbucks in the middle of the city, and not a small café in the middle of nowhere.

Eventually, there’s an expected lull in the crowd, and Jimin uses the time to stand behind the counter and begin his homework. Though it’s the first week back, being in final year means there’s an added workload with looming entrance exams and university applications.

He’s so immersed in following through with a calculation that he doesn’t register the customer waiting for him until they cough, pointedly. Twice.

“Sorry- sorry-” Jimin stumbles to stand, chin slipping off the cup of his palm, and he smooths down his black t-shirt as he straightens. “What can I…?” he trails off, having looked up only to realise the customer in front of him is that boy - the one from the city, the one from the church. He’s even prettier up close, dark lashes and velveteen skin, and now that his hands aren’t covering his mouth Jimin can see his lips, small and pretty and pink.

The boy raises an eyebrow.

Jimin clears his throat. Tries again. “What can I get you?”

“Just an espresso, thanks.” His voice is deeper and quieter than Jimin had expected, and he feels his cheeks flush, looking down at the register and swallowing hard.

“Anything else?”

“No,” he says, “that’s all.” He pays using contactless card, and stays by the register as Jimin turns to make his drink. The hiss of the coffee machine is loud, and Jimin lets out a small sigh and forces his shoulders to relax, moving with muscle memory. He doesn’t have time to be flustered by pretty strangers.

When he turns around to hand over the drink though, Jimin can’t help how his eyes flicker down to the fading marks over the boy’s knuckles. They’re less obvious now than they were a few days ago, beginning to turn a yellow-green around the darker purple colour, but the bruises are still vivid against his pale skin. Jimin’s fingers twitch around the cup, resisting the urge to reach out, and it’s not until the boy sighs that Jimin finally pushes the drink forward, flustered.

“Sorry,” Jimin says, and then plasters a wide smile on his face. It doesn’t pass his notice how the boy’s eyes widen slightly at the sight of it, how they flicker from Jimin’s eyes to his mouth. “Have a nice day.”

It’s a dismissal, a clear one. Jimin turns around and busies himself with wiping the already clean counter before he can make a bigger fool of himself, waiting until the door closes with a quiet thud before he turns back his work.

His cheeks are still a little warm, skin tingling from the goosebumps at the back of his neck, but then he remembers: he doesn’t have time to be flustered by pretty strangers, especially ones he’ll likely never see again.

So, with a heaving sigh, Jimin picks up his pencil and tries to focus.

It only half-works.

 

-

 

Jimin sees him at church every Sunday, early in the morning as he’s leaving for his shift. He comes to know the boy with the dark hair and hooded eyes, jacket on his shoulders or slung over the back of empty wooden pews in front of him. He always looks angry, or pained to even be there at all, but sometimes-

Sometimes-

Sometimes, Jimin catches an expression on his face that screams comfort, like sinking into a chair after a long day of work, or the relief that comes with the smell of fresh coffee before a busy day ahead. Then again, it’s hard to understand anyone’s relationship with God when God is so hard to understand Himself.

One day, Jimin lingers a little too long, eyes caught on the way the light catches on the multitude of silver hoops hanging from his ears, and the boy notices him back.

It’s sudden and quick, as if he’s been waiting to catch Jimin staring all along. He’s sat in the back with his arms crossed over his chest and his bottom lip caught between his teeth, and everything about him screams casual until his eyes flicker away from the priest. In the span of seconds, the same intensity he’d been giving God he’s suddenly directed onto Jimin.

Jimin feels his breath catch in his throat, heart thumping frantically in his chest, loud enough to echo in his ears in a way that feels like it’s echoing within the walls themselves, loud enough that maybe he’ll hear it.

Someone coughs. It breaks Jimin out of his reverie just long enough for him to duck his head and slip out the door, unnoticed by everyone. Everyone, but the boy whose heavy gaze burns into his back as he leaves.

 

-

 

It’s been a long day. Long enough that Jimin’s limbs feel heavy and his feet feel sore, arms so weak that it’s a strain even to turn the lock and push open his bedroom door. The moment he steps inside, Jimin toes off his shoes and sheds his work clothes, dropping his satchel onto the floor with a heavy thud.

The wind whistles against the old frame of the window, and the sound alone sends a shiver through Jimin’s body. He turns on the space heater with a resigned sigh, knowing that he’ll have to keep it on a lot more in the growing chill, limiting his spending even further. As the heat radiates and begins to warm his toes almost immediately though, he thinks the sacrifice will be worth it.

He takes a long shower; the water is a welcome relief and he stands for several minutes beneath the spray, letting the heat sink in, down to his muscles and his bones. His body begins to finally relax as he washes his hair, scrubs at his shoulders and beneath his arms.

When Jimin steps out of the bathroom, grey sweatpants loose on his hips and head down as he towel-dries his hair, he doesn’t expect to hear his bedroom door creaking open.

There are two rules that Jimin has lived with since he lived here. The first, that the attic was for him alone to do as he pleased and make of it what he wanted. The second, that no one would ever come upstairs and intrude the only space he’s ever had to himself.

So really, he can’t be blamed for shouting the moment he catches someone walking into his bedroom.

The figure startles, and then turns.

Jimin’s bedroom is dark, the only light coming from the bathroom behind him, spilling out into the open space. It casts both of them in shadowed silhouettes.

“What the fuck?” The stranger hisses, and Jimin recognises that voice, hasn’t been able to shake it from his mind, but his heart beats erratically at the sudden intrusion and his hands are still tangled in the towel against his hair.

“Who are you?” Jimin says, much louder than he means to, and rushes to cover his chest with the towel. “What are you doing?

“Who are you?” he replies, his voice no louder than a harsh whisper, and he still hasn’t moved. “And why are you naked in a church?

Jimin splutters, and then hurries to his bedside table to turn on the small lamp. Though old and not too bright, the yellow bulb floods the room in colour, and it takes them both a second to adjust. Then, Jimin shakes his head, and in a much calmer voice, says,

“I live here.” Embarrassed, Jimin reaches out on his bed for the jumper he’d thrown on it earlier and shoves his head through the collar, willing the blush away from his cheeks. “And I wasn’t naked.”

The light, and the detached familiarity of having seen each other before, puts them both a little more at ease.

The wind howls outside, and Jimin shivers.

“I live here,” he says again, quieter, and watches the boy’s eyes flicker over his bedroom before settling on his face, lips pursed and eyebrows furrowed. “People don’t- um, they don’t usually come up to the attic.”

Something sheepish flickers over the boy’s expression, and he scratches behind his ear. Jimin can’t help but notice just how pretty the colour that blooms on his cheeks is.

“Sorry,” he says, and Jimin finds himself leaning forward to hear his voice. “I didn’t know, otherwise- well, I- I wouldn’t have-” He sighs, shoulders sagging. “Yeah.”

Jimin nods. “Yeah.”

Even then, though, the boy doesn’t make a move to leave, but Jimin doesn’t ask him to go. He should. He’s tired, and it’s been a long day, and Jimin shouldn’t care to know about this boy or who he is, but he wants to.

“I’m Jimin,” he says finally, letting his lips twitch in what he hopes is a smile. “I work at the bakery in town.”

“I remember.” He tucks his hands into the pockets of his jacket, biting the inside of his cheek. “Yoongi,” he says after a moment, “I’m Yoongi.”

After weeks, it feels strange for Jimin to have a name to put to his face, something other than church or city boy.

Yoongi.

It suits him.

“I’ve seen you,” Jimin admits, feeling heat rise to his cheeks, not sure whether it’s because of the unwarranted confession or the way Yoongi’s eyes seem to become darker, his gaze more intense. “You come every Sunday morning.”

The twitch of Yoongi’s mouth isn’t quite a smile, but it’s not a smirk, either. “I’ve seen you, too.”

Jimin’s eyes widen, reactionary, and he glances away. The light reflects their silhouettes against the window, and he realises that this is the first time since he moved that anyone has been in his room with him. Ever.

Even Taehyung, who Jimin has known since he was twelve and has loved as a best friend and brother and more, hasn’t stepped foot in Jimin’s space.

Yet this stranger, Yoongi, stands in the middle of the apartment Jimin has made his own like he has nowhere else to go. Jimin should feel more unnerved by that than he does.

“Um,” Jimin begins, finally breaking the silence between them, voice a quiet rasp. He scratches his forearm but can’t bring himself to look Yoongi back in the eye now that he’s looked away. “Were you looking for something, or?”

“Just a place to breathe,” Yoongi admits, and there’s something about how easily he says it that’s telling of how truthful he is. There’s no reason for Yoongi to lie. “I got curious.”

“It’s late, though,” Jimin says before he can help himself. “Can’t you go home?”

He only realises what he’s asked when he looks at Yoongi only to find him staring back, an eyebrow raised, unimpressed by Jimin’s boldness, or surprised by it.

“Sorry,” Jimin says suddenly, “sorry, I-”

“It’s fine,” Yoongi says with a small breath of laughter. “I can, but like I said, I got curious. Something made me stay.”

Jimin doesn’t mean for his voice to sound as teasing as it does when he says, “divine intervention.”

It’s an inappropriate joke to make, especially in a church and to someone who attends so religiously. Jimin is halfway to mortified, a thousand apologies on the tip of his tongue, when Yoongi snorts. It’s muffled behind his hand, obscuring his face from sight save for the curve of his lips, but it makes Jimin falter.

“Sure,” Yoongi says, “something like that.”

Jimin fiddles with the sleeves of his jumper, pulling the cuffs over his knuckles. He’s not quite sure what to say, or how to react, thrown off by Yoongi’s casual dismissal of what he’d said.

Yoongi notices.

“Listen,” he says, taking a step forward, black boots tapping lightly on the wooden floor. He runs a hand through his hair and then lets his fingers fall to trail over the silver chain hanging from his earring. “Listen it’s-” He shakes his head, and this time his smile is a little more genuine. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not that deep.”

The way he says it, as if he’s still laughing about the joke itself, calms Jimin down just a little, just enough to smile back. “Sorry, it’s just-” Jimin shrugs. “You come here a lot, I didn’t want to offend.”

“It’s fine,” Yoongi says as his eyes begin to wander around Jimin’s room again, taking in the unmade bed and the stack of books piled beside the overflowing bookshelf, the old cups of coffee by the kitchen sink. “I’m not really coming for myself.”

It’s cryptic and strange, and Jimin wants to know more but doesn’t want to press further. He doesn’t want to make Yoongi uncomfortable, doesn’t want to make Yoongi leave.

Jimin hums and finally moves to turn the bathroom light off, pulling the door shut. It’s not that Jimin doesn’t believe in God, but he doesn’t think too much about his faith or lack thereof, though he understands that it means more to some than it does others. He still feels a little jarred by his own comment, how risky and foolish it was.

When he turns back around, Yoongi has moved to the window.

His shoulders have relaxed and his expression in the reflection of the glass is calm and thoughtful. Then, his eyes catch Jimin’s.

Jimin’s feels more than hears his own breath hitch. Though his face is mostly cast in shadows, slightly blurred against the window, Yoongi looks beautiful. Impossibly, incomprehensibly beautiful.

“How have we never met before?” Yoongi murmurs, quiet in a way that makes Jimin think he hadn’t meant to say it out loud. But the room is silent, and Jimin is looking at Yoongi and Yoongi isn’t looking away.

He’s not taking their brief encounter at the bakery into account. Jimin decides he won’t, either.

“I’ve lived here forever,” Jimin says, no louder than a whisper. “Not always in the church, but in this town.”

“I live in the city,” Yoongi says, running his tongue over his bottom lip. Jimin’s gaze is drawn to the wet sheen of it in the reflection. “I have for years. But I used to live here, too. I practically grew up in this church."

Jimin’s eyes snap back up to Yoongi’s. The realisation dawns, of how often they could’ve seen each other before and not known. He thinks of corner stores and take-outs that every student frequents, rushing into when the weather is bad, and how he and Yoongi could’ve brushed shoulders and never said a word. The realisation dawns, that if Yoongi hadn’t been drawn upstairs by curiosity, needing a moment to breathe away from the prayers, to not feel burdened beneath the weight of the church walls, they could have continued to pass each other by.

But then-

Then-

No, Jimin thinks, and watches Yoongi’s expression soften into something akin to wonder, the same thought dawning over him, not this time.

Maybe divine intervention is somewhere at play, after all.

It wouldn’t be wrong for Jimin to ask Yoongi to leave, now that they aren’t strangers anymore, not entirely, but there’s something about the way Yoongi is holding himself, something about how easy Jimin feels having him here, that keeps him quiet.

“If you’re going to stay,” Jimin says eventually, “take off your shoes.”

 

-

 

Somehow, it becomes a thing.

Jimin will catch sight of Yoongi as he leaves for work, early on Sunday mornings, slipping into the pews at the back, and when he finally stumbles home in the late afternoon, Yoongi will be waiting for him. As Jimin works on his assignments, Yoongi will sit quietly on the edge of Jimin’s bed and flick through the pages of his books.

Somehow, it becomes a routine.

Music and the occasional question fills the silence between them, nice and simple, and then something shifts. Jimin arrives from work one day with a small box of leftover sandwiches and pastries, and between mouthfuls of food, they fall into a conversation that flows so easily it feels like they’ve known each other for much longer than they actually have.

Jimin tells Yoongi about his maths scholarship, how he wants to study dance but knows he can excel in other subjects and uses it to his advantage. In turn, Yoongi tells Jimin how long it took for him to finally decide on his major, how long it took for him to finally decide he wanted to study at all, and that he’s glad he pursued it.

They learn each other’s favourite colours, the names of the films they watch when they’re feeling low and the music they sing along to that makes them feel like kids again.

A few weeks after they first meet, as he’s lying in bed with the darkness surrounding him and the early autumn air carrying a chill through the slight vent of the open window, Jimin realises he wouldn’t quite know what to do with himself if he came home from work one day and Yoongi wasn’t there.

Jimin tries not to think about it for too long, not wanting to understand why the thought makes his heart sink, not wanting to get more attached than he already is and knowing he inevitably will.

One month becomes two, and the September chill creeps into the air, and the leaves turn from green to orange and yellow and red, and Yoongi doesn’t go.

One day, Jimin steps out of the shower to see Yoongi flat on his back in the middle of the floor, sunlight from the window streaming into his room and gilding the strands of Yoongi’s dark hair. The halo of light rests like a crown above his head.

He looks like something holy, something not quite real, the shadows and curves of his face pronounced and beautiful in the afternoon sun.

Yoongi must sense Jimin watching, because he tilts his head to the side just slightly, and when his eyes flutter open, the golden light fills them and turns brown into rich honey.

Jimin feels his heart stutter, his chest ache.

That moment, more than any other, imprints itself in his mind. Suddenly, Jimin pictures Yoongi everywhere, with the sunlight grazing his skin and his half-smile and pink lips, the gentle rumble of his voice. Suddenly, Jimin realises that his growing wonder for Yoongi isn’t quite so sudden at all.

 

-

 

“You’re quiet,” Taehyung says as they’re clambering out of the car. His hair has grown out, the ends curling slightly behind his ears, but he looks as pristine and aristocratic as ever, a high king in a court of royals. Jimin offers him the other half of his muffin.

For a moment, Jimin thinks maybe he’s gotten away from answering the question. He should know his best friend better by now.

“You’ve been quiet,” he continues, looking at Jimin strangely. His eyes are light and his smile is sweet, and though he’s not pushing for answer, he expects one. “You okay?”

Yoongi’s name is on the tip of Jimin’s tongue, but he holds himself back from saying anything. There’s something deep and selfish in him that wants to keep Yoongi secret, wants to keep Yoongi as his, just for a little longer. Maybe it’s the mystery of him, despite how often they talk, and how telling Taehyung about him will mean that Jimin will finally have to go searching for answers to questions he doesn’t want to ask. Or maybe it’s because Yoongi is a reminder of the kind of life, better and hopeful and electric, that’s waiting for Jimin when he’s done with school.

There’s an air to Yoongi, like the city has made an imprint on him that won’t ever fade, that Jimin craves to carry himself.

Taehyung gives him a moment to gather his thoughts as they walk down the school hall’s, shoulders pressed together and avoiding larger groups of students, because he’s nothing if not patient, nothing if not kind. He could have all the friends in the world, but he just wants Jimin, wants to give his love and his friendship to the kid with no family and no wealth. It’s the most selfless thing about him.

Jimin thinks of work and the papers he’s due in, assignments that never seem to end despite the hours he invests to make sure his grades don’t waver. He thinks of Yoongi, of his voice and the curve of his mouth.

Thinks of something holy.

“There’s just a lot,” Jimin says finally, not ready to admit anything but not quite ready to lie to Taehyung, either. “There’s a lot going on.”

Taehyung glances at him, pursing his lips; Jimin knows what Taehyung is going to say before he’s even found the words.

“If it’s-” he starts, “if it’s about- you know I’d never-”

“Don’t,” Jimin says, much harsher and louder than he needs. “I don’t need your money, Taehyung.” His voice is sharp, tense. Taehyung flinches. “I don’t need your pity, either.”

He pushes the door of their classroom open with more force than he means to, thankful that it’s empty.

“Jimin, I don’t-” Taehyung says, and Jimin knows that. He knows that. But there are scars left from words thrown at him out of malice and judgement, to remind him that he’s an orphan who survived off charity and that he doesn’t deserve to be here, with Taehyung and people like him, that are harder to shake off. There are scars from words that are hard to replace with the warm love Taehyung so readily gives. “I don’t.”

Taehyung stops leaning against the door, letting it fall shut behind him. Jimin begins to set his work out on the table, the anger - at himself, at the people who made him feel so defensive in front of the only person who’d never think to judge him at all - making his hands shake.

“If I needed your money I’d ask,” he says. Liar, he thinks. “I’m not friends with you because I need your-”

“But you wouldn’t.” Taehyung never raises his voice, especially at Jimin, but he speaks loud enough now to make them both falter. Jimin lifts his head to look at him.

Taehyung has only said three words, but his cheeks are red and his chest is heaving. His mouth is twisted into a pained frown.

“You wouldn’t,” Taehyung repeats, and his voice audibly wavers as he tries to keep himself calm. “You could be half-dying, and you wouldn’t even tell me. You’d never- you’ve never asked for my help, and I-” His hands curl into fists around the strap of his satchel, but his eyes don’t leave Jimin’s face for even a second. “I know you’ve been through a lot, that you expect the worst because of it, but- it’s me. Jimin, it’s me. Your Taehyung.”

There’s shouting outside the window, kids out on the playground before the morning bell rings. The sound is dull, muted.

“It hurts,” Taehyung says, “because you can’t see past everything else to realise that it’s just me.”

Jimin feels a strange mix of guilt and sadness sink into his skin. A boy like Kim Taehyung deserves to be seen. “Tae-”

The bell rings. The corridor outside begins to flood with students, and in a matter of seconds the classroom will fill. Jimin watches Taehyung glance at the door and visibly steel himself, plastering a fake smile on his face, and he feels sick to his stomach at the sight of it.

Fighting isn’t uncommon for them; they do it more often than people think, about so many things, but they don’t stay angry at each other. Even with the threat of being walked in on, of the privacy they’ve worked hard to protect being invaded, Jimin won’t let them break that tradition now.

He walks forward in quick strides to where Taehyung stands at the front of the classroom and eases his hands over Taehyung’s must larger ones, forcing Taehyung to look at him.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin says, “I didn’t know.”

Taehyung’s smile stays firmly in place. “It’s fine, don’t worry, it’s-”

“Taehyung,” Jimin says, softer, fingers pressing into the dips between his Taehyung’s knuckles. “My Taehyung.”

“Jimin,” Taehyung says, voice strained, “it’s fine.”

“It’s not,” Jimin says over him, and the years of discomfort and pride that he’s built up come crumbling down in a second, all for this sweet and lanky and genuine boy. “I’ll try,” he says, “I can’t promise that I’ll ask, but I’m going to promise to try, okay?”

Taehyung glances at the door again, and then after a moment, sighs and closes his eyes. He bows his head forward so that his hair brushes against Jimin’s, close enough to breathe him in, and then nods. It’s a small, barely-there movement, but he nods.

“That’s all I want,” Taehyung says quietly, “Jimin. That’s all I want.”

Jimin tips forward to press a firm kiss to Taehyung’s forehead, and then steps back just as the door opens.

They slip into their roles easily: Jimin, quiet and studious, and Taehyung, loud and happy. Only, there’s a warmth in Jimin’s chest that spreads to the tips of his fingers as he watches Taehyung from beneath his lashes, takes in the comfortable set of Taehyung’s shoulders and the brightness of his smile.

It’s not surprising at all, he thinks, the things he would promise this boy.

 

-

 

Jimin likes to think he and Yoongi are friends. The use of the word is tentative, and he’d never say it out loud, but he likes to think that they’re somewhere close.

They’ve never touched, though, and as the days pass, Jimin finds himself wanting to reach out more and more. He wants to skim his fingers down the slope of Yoongi’s nose and over the gentle curve of his jaw, follow the line of Yoongi’s cupid’s bow with the rough pad of his thumb. He wants to feel Yoongi breathe against his skin, wants to breathe Yoongi and the smell of church incense he carries on his skin in.

It’s dangerous, so dangerous, to think and feel and to want as badly as he does.

Sometimes, he thinks Yoongi knows. When they’re sat together quietly, talking about nothing at all, Jimin will catch himself lingering a little too long on the way Yoongi sucks his bottom lip between his teeth, or how his fingers trace mindlessly over the words he’s reading. Yoongi will catch him, too.

He’d be more embarrassed if Yoongi didn’t look back. Jimin sees how Yoongi’s eyes will track the drops of water that trail from Jimin’s damp hair to the hollow his collarbones, how he’ll look at Jimin’s lips when they’re speaking and take a moment too long to look away.

Sometimes, he thinks Yoongi wants him just as badly.

The air around them begins to grow thick, heavy. It’s so weighted that Jimin can almost taste it on the back of his tongue.

He doesn’t have time to get flustered and infatuated with pretty city boys who flicker into his life and will most likely flicker away just as quickly, but maybe-

Just maybe-

He has time for a boy named Yoongi.

 

-

 

Taehyung pushes Jimin’s hair back off his forehead, and then runs his thumb over the corner of Jimin’s eye, smudging the dark liner he’d blended earlier even further. A multitude of rings and bangles catch the light, shining on his skin, and Jimin feels the cool night air push against the thin black fabric of his t-shirt.

It’s one of Jimin’s rare nights off, where he forces himself to leave behind his work and spend some time having fun, especially before revision period begins for exams. Sometimes, it means going to a small diner and sitting there for hours after he and Taehyung have finished their desserts, playing games together on their phones. Other times, it means going to Taehyung’s house and watching films, eating what feels like an endless amount of food, and waking up with a bloated stomach and the rare comforting warmth of home.

Even rarer is Taehyung asking Jimin to accompany him to a party. Jimin doesn’t do parties, especially not ones that involve socialising with rich arrogant assholes who only respect him when they realise that Jimin, the scholarship kid who dances, is the top student in all their classes. Taehyung doesn’t care much for going out either, but the school year is coming to an end and they deserve to act like dumb teenagers, just for one night.

“We’ll be leaving for uni anyway,” he’d said, when he was still trying to convince Jimin to come, “and then we’ll never see anyone again.”

The house they stand in front of now is large and white and modern, and the music that cuts through the night air around them is unnecessarily loud. Jimin crinkles his nose and glances at Taehyung, who looks just as reluctant as Jimin feels.

“Are we really doing this?” Jimin asks, hoping that maybe Taehyung will cave and let them bail.

“Not that we’re not naturally stunning.” Taehyung says, beginning the trek up the long gravel driveway, pace slow as he waits for Jimin to fall into step, “but it took a lot of effort for us to look this hot tonight.”

Jimin snorts.

“Anyway,” Taehyung adds, raising his voice slightly as they draw closer to the house, “my cousin’s here tonight, and I really want you guys to meet.”

It’s been nearly three months since Taehyung’s cousin arrived from the city, and if Jimin’s being honest, he’s surprised that it’s taken this long for Taehyung to introduce them. He’s curious, he’s been curious, and he’s loved every member that he’s met of Taehyung’s family so far. The way Taehyung speaks of his hyung, Jimin has no doubt he’ll like the elder too.

The first thing they do when they step inside is get themselves some drinks. Although there’s a table laid out in the living room, they sneak into the kitchen to get something cold. Taehyung immediately goes for something non-alcoholic, but Jimin can handle himself much better and pulls out a bottle of beer from the fridge.

The brand is generic and it doesn’t taste particularly good, but it doesn’t taste bad either, so Jimin takes a few, long sips, gives himself a moment to get used to the taste, and then heads back into the living room.

For a little while, it’s easy to keep up the façade.

He smiles and he drinks and he dances. The town is small enough that any young person, student or otherwise, who can be here, is. Jimin sees the kids who rotate shifts from the grocery store mingling in the corner, and the girls from the diner sat outside in the fancy garden with red cups in their hands. He breathes a little easier, knowing there are people like him enjoying themselves here, too.

At one point, he catches sight of Taehyung standing by the stairs talking to Jungkook, a boy a couple of years younger than them. Taehyung is impossibly endeared by the kid, and Jimin has spoken to him enough times in passing that he’d consider Jungkook a friend.

Jimin notices how they both lean into each other, small and secretive smiles on their faces, and smiles to himself, deciding to leave them be. The party isn’t awful and no one’s bothered him too much, so Jimin’s in no rush to leave.

As he’s heading back into the kitchen, to get another drink and get away from the noise, he spots another familiar face.

Yoongi is perched on the edge of a coach, dressed head-to-toe in black, but even in his jeans and jacket he looks like he fits here, in this house, like he’s rich. Jimin’s not quite so sure how he never noticed before.

The light catches on the bracelets on his wrists and the small silver rings on his fingers, the hoops in his ears and the chains that dangle from them. Jimin doesn’t mean to stare so obviously, but this is Yoongi, and there’s not yet been a moment where Jimin has seen Yoongi and been able to look away from him.

A small crowd of people burst into cheers, a loud and happy sound, and it breaks Jimin out of his reverie for just long enough that he can step out into the hallway.

In the kitchen, everything is quiet. The music and the noise are immediately muted as the two doors swing shut behind him; streaks of moonlight shimmer through the windows and light the dark marble surfaces of the countertops, reflecting off the white cupboards and stainless-steel appliances.

Jimin gets himself another beer and perches on the counter by the window. He’s alone for five, maybe ten minutes, and then one of the doors is gently pushed open and Yoongi slips inside.

He doesn’t seem surprised to see Jimin, walks towards him slowly, purposefully. Jimin feels the fine hairs on the back of his neck and forearms stand to attention, goosebumps breaking out across his skin when Yoongi stops in front him, hips almost knocking into Jimin’s knees. One of his hands curls beside Jimin on the counter, the other hovering slightly over Jimin’s thigh. Jimin can feel the heat of Yoongi’s palms through the rips in his jeans.

It’s the closest they’ve ever been.

“Hey,” Yoongi says, mouth twitching.

“Hi.” Jimin’s voice is quiet, soft, and his eyes flicker over Yoongi’s face, the smudge of liner around his eyes and the shine on his cheek. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”

Then again, how could he? They only see each other once a week, only speak when the mornings have been long and they’re feeling a little too raw, too honest, weary in a way only Sundays can bring.

Jimin doesn’t even know what Yoongi does, why he even came back to his hometown in the first place.

“I know a couple of people,” Yoongi says, shrugging. His fingers tap a tuneless rhythm on the counter. Jimin feels the vibrations of it in his bones.

Jimin feels the corner of his mouth twitch, and he ducks his head as a huff of laughter escapes his lips. “How mysterious,” he says, and looks up in time to see Yoongi smile. “Why aren’t you out there?”

“Because you’re in here.” He says it so simply, so easily, that Jimin’s mouth parts in shock, eyes widening. He stares up at Yoongi’s face and it feels like his breath is caught in his throat, heart stilling in his chest. He knows the flush on his skin will be apparent even in the silver light.

Yoongi’s eyes flicker down to Jimin’s mouth, and Jimin’s eyes flicker to the bob of his adam’s apple as Yoongi swallows around a lump in his throat.

The weird air between them, the one that sat heavy and strange and that Jimin could never decipher, begins to buzz, becomes something static and electric. For the first time, Jimin feels brave enough to touch.

His fingers twitch on his thigh, and then slowly, slowly-

There’s the curve of Yoongi’s mouth and the halo of light around his hair, and the kitchen door swings open.

They don’t jump apart, but it’s close. Jimin leans back, putting hands on the counter, and Yoongi steps away just enough that he can turn his face to see who’s walked in. Jimin isn’t quite sure what he expected, but it wasn’t for Yoongi to smile, wider than Jimin has ever seen, at the sight of his best friend.

Jimin!” Taehyung shouts, and then his eyes flicker to Yoongi and seem to light up even further. “Hyung!”

Jimin smiles, but his eyes flicker between the two of them. When Yoongi doesn’t speak, Jimin reaches out with his hand, gesturing for Taehyung to come closer. “Hey,” he says, and feels Yoongi’s eyes burn into the side of his face. “Having fun?”

Taehyung joins their hands together, wrinkling his nose. “It’s not too bad, no.”

Yoongi snorts and takes another step back, pushing his hands into the small pockets of his jeans and letting Taehyung stand a little more comfortably between them.

“Really?” Jimin continues, his smile turning a little more teasing, “and how’s Jungkook doing?”

A myriad of expressions crosses over Taehyung’s face before he squeezes Jimin’s hand. “He’s doing fine.”

“I’m sure.” It’s the first time Yoongi has said anything since Taehyung entered the kitchen, and Jimin doesn’t think he’s ever seen Taehyung smile so quickly. “You drink anything?”

Jimin glances to his side where his second bottle of beer rests, half-finished.

Taehyung shakes his head, and then reaches out to curl his other hand around Yoongi’s wrist. “I can’t believe you met,” he says to Yoongi, “it’s like fate, or something.”

Divine intervention, Jimin thinks with a small smile, and when he glances at Yoongi, Yoongi is already looking at him. It’s clear the same words came to mind.

The phrase feels like a secret between them.

“This,” Taehyung says, holding up his and Jimin’s hands, mouth twitching at the way Jimin’s eyes stay focused on Yoongi and Yoongi’s eyes stay focused on him, “is my best friend and soulmate, other and better half, the only-”

Jimin looks at Taehyung with a grin, huffs a small breath of laughter as he tugs Taehyung closer to him and presses his nose into Taehyung’s hair. “Tae.”

“Jimin,” Taehyung introduces finally, stepping back. “Hyung, this is Jimin.”

Yoongi’s eyes are dark and there’s a flicker of amusement in them as he smiles and nods, ruffling Taehyung’s hair. “I know,” he says, “I figured.”

“And this is Yoongi-hyung,” Taehyung continues, grinning between them, “my cousin. The best person in the world. Seriously.”

Oh.

Oh.

Jimin’s not quite sure how he didn’t make the connection before.

There’s little resemblance between them, and Jimin wouldn’t ever have known that Yoongi, his Yoongi, with his quiet voice and dark eyes and wonderful mind, was the same as Taehyung’s. The cousin he never stopped speaking about when they were younger, the cool one who lived in the city and the only person aside from Jimin that Taehyung would trust with his life.

He wonders if knowing would’ve changed anything between them.

Taehyung goes to get a glass of water and Jimin leans back on his hands again to stop himself from reaching out. It’s somehow harder, not to touch Yoongi now, when he’s become more solid, more real.

“How do you guys know each other, anyway?” Taehyung asks, propping his hip against the sink edge and watching them both with wide eyes. “You never said anything.”

Jimin’s not quite sure how to answer or what Yoongi would be comfortable with sharing, so he stays quiet and shrugs. Yoongi’s mouth forms a small pout, plump and pink, and Jimin-

Jimin-

Jimin wants to kiss it. Kiss him. Take Yoongi’s bottom lip between his teeth and feel Yoongi’s breath, warm and stuttered, against his cheek.

He picks up his drink and takes a long sip.

“We met at church,” Yoongi says, simple and honest, and leans against the counter opposite Jimin with his arms crossed over his chest, a small smile on his face that seems to be reserved for Taehyung on his face. “Our paths just kept crossing.”

Jimin realises that he and Yoongi share the same problem: they will always be honest with Taehyung. Always a little too soft for him.

“Oh,” Taehyung says, mouth falling open, “really? Amazing.”

Yoongi hums, and Jimin kicks his feet against the counter and lets his legs swing.

“I didn’t know you still went to church, hyung,” Taehyung admits. Jimin picks at the fine thread around the rips in his jeans, trying not to make it obvious that he’s listening, giving them a semblance of privacy. “That’s where you go every Sunday?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, and in his periphery Jimin sees Yoongi reach out for Taehyung’s glass. “It’s habit.”

“Even now?”

Yoongi nods. “Even now.”

It’s quiet, so Jimin chances a look at them both. Yoongi is smiling, but it’s small and tight, and Taehyung looks incomprehensibly sad, something bittersweet laced in his expression.

“Halmeoni will be proud,” Taehyung says, quiet and sure, “so would she.”

Yoongi exhales through his mouth, and then glances at Jimin. The strange expression falls from his face, and his smile becomes a little more genuine. Jimin wonders who they’re talking about, if not their grandmother, but Yoongi is looking at him with something sweet in his eyes, and Jimin’s curiosity fades as quickly as it’d come.

Beneath the gentle heat of Yoongi’s gaze, Jimin feels his breath catch.

 

-

 

One afternoon, Jimin walks up the stone steps and enters through the front of the church. He doesn’t often step foot into the grand hall, sticking to the back doors that lead directly to his room, but something draws him in.

The large and dark and wooden door creaks as he pushes it open. As expected, the church is empty, not even the priest in sight.

For a moment, Jimin stands and breathes in the smell of old wood and paper. Though small and old, the church is nothing short of grand. Intricate designs are carved into the pews and beams, stained glass windows creating a rainbow of colour that reflect against the golden ornaments that shine in the light, projecting images onto the cream coloured walls.

Jimin knows that churches can be weighted with heaviness and despair for many, but this one is warm and friendly and, despite everything, it’s home.

As he begins to walk slowly down the aisle, he spots a figure sitting at the very front, head tilted back to look up at the arches and the art of the ceiling.

“Yoongi,” Jimin breathes.

Somehow, impossibly, Yoongi hears him.

The party was last week, and the Sunday just gone they’d spent together with Taehyung. They’d gone to a diner outside of town and had burgers and milkshakes and chocolate sundaes, and Jimin had heard Yoongi laugh for the first time, heard him speak louder than ever.

Jimin had captured the sound of him and trapped it in his heart, like a record player stuck on repeat.

He learned that Yoongi was taking a semester’s break before graduating, and that he’d grown up here but moved to the city with his parents to study music from an early age. That he and Taehyung, despite the distance and their busy schedules, were as close as brothers, if not more, even after all this time.

It’d been unusual to not have their holy quiet between them, lo-fi music and murmured conversations, but it’d been nice.

When Yoongi turns, the first thing Jimin notices is his denim jacket. It’s a washed-out blue, worn with age and use, and the silver buttons are dulled and slightly rusted. Without the familiar black leather on his shoulders, he seems somehow softer.

The silver chain that Jimin has always noticed around Yoongi’s neck, dainty and thin, glitters above the collar of his white t-shirt. One leg is crossed beneath the other on the seat, and he looks small, delicate.

He looks beautiful.

God-

God.

He looks beautiful.

The light from the windows has painted him lilac and pink and red, and he’s a masterpiece of shattered mosaic and Jimin is drawn to him. Inevitably and wondrously so.

“Hi,” Yoongi whispers, sweet and a little tired. Sharp cheeks and soft eyes, and Jimin thinks this is as close to divinity as he’s ever been.

“Hey,” Jimin says, and moves to stand in front of him, his back to the altar. Maybe it’s God, maybe it’s the prayers still trapped in the walls, maybe it’s Yoongi. Jimin reaches out.

His right hand trembles as he brushes his fingers lightly through Yoongi’s hair, pushing soft strands back off his forehead before the fall back into place.

Jimin’s not quite sure what to do when Yoongi reaches up to catch Jimin’s wrist between the circle of his fingers. He can feel Yoongi’s thumb pressing lightly over the pulse that beats harshly beside his veins and the thin bones beneath his skin.

But it feels natural, so natural, when Yoongi tugs on his wrist and pulls Jimin closer.

Jimin’s thighs knock against the curve of Yoongi’s knees, and he bends down until their faces are almost level. Yoongi tilts his head up, and they’re close enough that their noses brush and Jimin can feel Yoongi’s breath against his skin.

Red light, like a shard of glass, smears the bottom half of Yoongi’s face and stains his lips. Jimin covers Yoongi’s mouth with his own.

Their first kiss, first touch, is as soft as a sigh and as stuttered as a heartbeat. It’s a simple press of lips and yet there’s nothing simple about it at all. Jimin’s pulse is still trapped beneath Yoongi’s thumb, so he raises his other hand to curl around Yoongi’s neck and ease him slightly, bring himself closer, and Yoongi parts his lips at the touch and sighs into Jimin’s mouth.

He tastes of coffee and warmth, and when Jimin catches Yoongi’s bottom lip between his, rolls his tongue over the swell of it and feels Yoongi gasp, it’s too much.

It’s far, far too much.

Jimin has thought about kissing Yoongi for weeks. Nothing could have prepared him. No image or dream could compare to the hitch of Yoongi’s breath and the press of his fingers. Jimin doesn’t think he can breathe, doesn’t think he wants to if it would mean pulling away.

Discomfort begins to line his shoulders, and he keeps kissing Yoongi until he can’t anymore. Eventually, Jimin has to move.

He opens his eyes and pulls back, falling to his knees. Yoongi’s eyes flutter open just to watch him, and the moment Jimin settles he moves forward, tilts towards Jimin as if a string is between them, small and thin, drawing them to each other. Even with the cold floor pressing harshly against his knees and the weight in his muscles from a long day of school and dance and work, Jimin cups Yoongi’s face in his hands and kisses him again.

There’s no hesitation between them, no doubt. It’s a kiss, and it’s more. It’s weeks of endless wanting and something that feels deeper than desire, and it’s knowing this was inevitable but being patient with it anyway. It’s the pure pull of belonging.

Their lips catch, and they don’t stop kissing. Jimin’s body is sore and his mouth is tingling, the heat of Yoongi burning against his lips, chapped from the cold air, and they don’t stop kissing. One of his thumbs presses against the corner of their meeting mouths even as they fall open, and their tongues press against each other in a way that feels warm and right and holy.

They’re coloured in light, but it’s Yoongi who seems to radiate within these ancient walls.

He can feel Yoongi’s jaw move beneath his fingers, and when Yoongi tilts his face away to catch his breath, Jimin trails his parted mouth down Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi’s hands curl over Jimin’s shoulders, squeezing. Jimin lets one of his hands fall to Yoongi’s leg, and lets his teeth drag over the fine skin of Yoongi’s throat.

Their chests are heaving. The sound of their breathing is the only sound in the room.

Jimin rests his head against Yoongi’s collarbone and breathes in the smell of sandalwood and his cologne. After a moment, he feels Yoongi raise a hand to his hair and begin to card his fingers through it, nails running lightly over Jimin’s scalp. It’s soothing, his touch gentle, and then Yoongi pulls lightly at some of the hairs at the nape of his neck.

Jimin leans back and looks up, feeling his breath catch in his throat. There’s a delicate flush on Yoongi’s cheeks, and his lips are dark and slightly swollen. Jimin wants to kiss him. Now that he knows what it is to kiss Yoongi, Jimin wants to kiss him again and again and-

He realises that this is the first time they’ve touched, realises that the first they’ve touched, God was watching.

Yoongi smiles.

 

-

 

The routine they established shifts, morphs into something more.

Jimin will wake up and go to school, go to the bakery and pour over his textbooks until his eyesight begins to blur, and then stumble home on tired feet. Only now, Yoongi will be waiting for him more days than not, eyes soft and kisses gentle.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, Jimin learns the shape of Yoongi’s body beneath his hands, the small dip of his back and the curve of his waist, the knobs of Yoongi’s spine and the slope of his broad shoulders.

Now, they’re in Taehyung’s house, Yoongi’s childhood home, and Taehyung has gone to the market with his grandparents. Jimin had been studying, but it’d been easy, so easy, to get lost in Yoongi the moment they were alone. They’re in Yoongi’s childhood home, and there’s the sound of wind and the rustle of leaves, and sunlight shines in through the window in a pale yellow beam.

Jimin presses an absent kiss to the base of Yoongi’s throat, lying half on top of him, their legs tangled together. Yoongi’s jeans are thrown somewhere beside the bed and Jimin’s mouth is red and swollen and sore, and they’re caught in the gentle quiet around them.

Occasionally, they’ll ask each other murmured questions, trapping each other’s answers in the cave of their chests. Curiosity can be a strange thing, can set people on edge and make them draw further into themselves, but there’s something about Yoongi, something about the way Yoongi is with him, that makes Jimin feel settled, open and raw in the best of ways.

“How, um,” Yoongi begins, and then falters, the movement of his hand running up and down Jimin’s back slowing. “How did you- shit, I-”

“How did I end up living in a church?”

Yoongi winces, scratching the side of his nose. “I have no fucking tact, huh?”

Jimin huffs out a small breath of laughter and lifts himself up on one arm, elbow digging into the mattress as he rests his forehead on his palm. He’s able to look down at Yoongi like this, and lifts his free hand to brush his fingers lightly over Yoongi’s mouth, feel the dip of Yoongi’s bottom lip between the pad of his thumb.

Yoongi watches him, blinking slow.

“I never met my parents,” Jimin says quietly, “The only reason I know they exist at all is because I’m here.”

It’s not something he feels embarrassed about, because it’s not something he can escape, and he learned from a young age that he would either have to accept it or let the reality be used against him. He doesn’t often talk about it, though. Saying the words out loud feels jarring, and he trails his fingers from Yoongi’s mouth to his chest, palm flat over Yoongi’s heartbeat, using the rhythm to steady his own.

“It’s kinda cliché, really,” he says. “I, uh, I was left on the steps as a baby.” Sighing, Jimin glances out the window. “The sisters took me in and, when I was old enough, rented me the attic in the church.”

One of Yoongi’s hands comes up to tuck itself beneath Jimin’s. They both seem to be holding their breath and-

It’s quiet. It’s terrifyingly quiet.

“They didn’t raise me to be religious,” Jimin says, when the silence becomes suffocating, “it was weird. I think everyone expected me to be.” He curls his fingers around Yoongi’s palm, skin warm and soft, taking solace in the comfort Yoongi gives. “They taught me everything they could but, I don’t know. I guess, at the end of the day, they wanted to let me choose.”

“A lot of people don’t get that choice,” Yoongi murmurs, understanding. “A lot of people don’t get that choice,” he says again, “and it makes them hate it all.”

“It’s probably why I don’t hate God,” Jimin says slowly. “It’s probably why I don’t hate myself, either.”

Yoongi hums, and his eyes haven’t left Jimin’s face for even a moment. Gently, so gently, he raises their clasped hands to his lips and kisses the back of Jimin’s palm. The feel of Yoongi’s chapped mouth against Jimin’s skin makes his breath hitch.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and his lips brush over Jimin’s knuckles. “I’m so sorry.”

Jimin looks at him: the smooth curve of his cheek and the dark line of his eyelashes, the barely-there furrow of his brow. His lip twitches in what he hopes is a reassuring smile, to let Yoongi know that he’s okay now, but doesn’t say anything, because it feels like there are words on the tip of Yoongi’s tongue and Jimin wants to hear them.

Jimin hasn’t asked anything, but Yoongi wants to tell him anyway. It means more than it should.

Yoongi glances away, biting the inside of his cheek as he gathers his thoughts, and he looks so vulnerable so suddenly that Jimin eases himself back down onto the bed, presses his mouth to Yoongi’s shoulder and closes his eyes.

In the darkness, in the quiet, it feels like confession, like they’re the only two people in the world.

“I knew what it was to hate myself before I knew God.”

Jimin feels the hollow of his chest cave.

“I, uh-” Yoongi laughs, breaking himself off, but it’s slightly hurt, slightly pained. Jimin feels his heart break. “I don’t think I have any relationship…with God, or whatever. My mum, though, she, uh- her and Tae’s dad were siblings. She loved the church, God, all of it.”

Jimin turns his face and presses his nose into Yoongi’s skin. Yoongi kisses his hand again.

“She taught me how to read the Bible, the rosary. Everything.” He sounds wistful, lost in the memories he’s trying to paint for Jimin. “I used to sit on her lap and listen to her voice. I didn’t- I don’t get the same peace from God like she did, but I, um, I got peace from her.”

In Jimin’s hold, Yoongi’s hand is trembling.

“My dad couldn’t care less,” he says quietly, “but he loved her enough that it didn’t matter.”

Everyone’s relationship with religion is so personal, so twisted and complex and unique, but no one has ever come away unscathed, unhurt. Even the people most at peace with themselves and their faith have carried crosses on their backs. Jimin has never wanted to soothe the pain of it for anyone as strongly as he does right now.

A picture, so startlingly clear, suddenly manifests in Jimin’s mind. Of Yoongi, so young and insecure, desperate to find solace in the way his mother had, to feel a little more at home in his own skin.

“She’s why you come,” Jimin whispers. She’s why Yoongi sits in the pews every Sunday and looks something close to distressed, something close to heart-broken. She’s the reason why Yoongi keeps a jade-green rosary in his jacket pocket, rolls the beads worn with age between his finger and his thumb. She’s why Yoongi can recite the Bible half-asleep but never once picks it up or turns a page.

It was never for God at all.

“She died.”

Jimin tilts his head up so fast he feels a tendon in his neck twinge painfully. At this angle, he can only see the blurred curve of Yoongi’s jaw and the slope of his nose.

“That’s why-” Yoongi’s voice becomes thick, watery and tight with emotion. “That’s why I came home.”

It’s why Yoongi comes to church, and forces himself to linger, and it’s almost certainly why the first time Jimin saw him, his knuckles were bruised.

Jimin doesn’t know what he feels for Yoongi, only knows what he feels around him, but Yoongi is his beautiful and broken boy and Jimin just wants to hold him.

He pulls his hand out of Yoongi’s to press his fingers lightly against Yoongi’s chin, angle his face just enough that Jimin can tilt his head up and kiss him. Yoongi’s eyes are closed, but his eyelashes flutter, and there’s a damp shine clinging to his bottom lashes.

“Yoongi,” Jimin breathes against his mouth, “Yoongi, Yoongi-

It’s tender, the way Jimin says his name, tender and soft and quiet. It’s dangerous, too, to sound like that. Jimin can’t afford to be dangerous. But this is Yoongi, his sad and sweet boy, and Jimin just wants to-

He wants to-

Their lips catch.

They’re in Yoongi’s childhood home, and there’s the sound of wind and the rustle of leaves, and sunlight shines in through the window in a pale, yellow beam.

It’s hard for them to stop touching, after that. As the days pass following their stolen afternoon, whatever wall had been between them, weak and cracked, collapses. They’re left open and exposed to each other in a way Jimin’s never been with anyone else before.

Whenever and wherever they meet, their hands reach out, mouths finding skin. Jimin learns the sound of Yoongi’s heartbeat, of his absent humming as he sings along to hymns he can’t quite shake from his mind.

It feels like they become too big, too much, for the church and the town. Their moments are stolen and secret, not from shame and not from worry of being found, but because if they were any louder it would become more real than it is.

They become too big, too much, so one day Yoongi shows up in Taehyung’s car, black and fast and shining, and opens the passenger door. 

They go to the city to feel small. To feel human.

The drive takes over an hour, an hour that Jimin can’t afford to spare amid his schedule but gives himself anyway. As the orange glow of the city breaks the dark veil of the horizon, Jimin is reminded again of how desperate he is to get away, of how soon he and Taehyung will be leaving behind all they know to live and study and learn in a place full of light and laughter and newness.

Yoongi parks his car in a quiet alley, and then tangles his hand with Jimin’s and takes the long route to a party his friend his hosting. Walking through the city late at night, where the crowds are small but loud and street lamps flicker like spotlights, Jimin feels his breath catch.

His awe is obvious, and it makes Yoongi’s lips curve and his eyes narrow into crescents as he smiles. Jimin purses his mouth when he notices Yoongi’s amusement, and they stumble to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk, and Yoongi leans forward and kisses Jimin until they’re both smiling and the meeting of their mouths is more teeth than it is lips or tongue.

“Kiss me,” Jimin requests, quiet and gentle, at every street corner and beneath every light. “Kiss me here.”

And Yoongi does.

They kiss and they kiss and they kiss.

Wildly, freely, gently.

The knowledge that this is the first time Yoongi has come back to the city since his mother passed away doesn’t feel as heavy as Jimin thought it would. The ease of Yoongi’s shoulders, the way he doesn’t quite stop smiling and indulges Jimin’s every request, makes Jimin think that maybe Yoongi feels the same way.

The apartment they arrive at is on the fifteenth floor of an impressively tall building, and is so different from the last party Jimin went to. Surprisingly, despite being in the heart of the city, the mood of the room is chill and welcoming. Jimin knows no one here at all, but doesn’t feel anxious or isolated for even a moment.

Then again, that could be because Yoongi’s holding his hand and doesn’t seem to have any intention of letting go.

Yoongi’s best friend’s boyfriend is standing in the middle of a small crowd in the kitchen, pulling out a warm tray of nachos from the oven while everyone else waits with watering mouths. It’s a funny sight, especially when he hisses at anyone who tries to reach out before he’s done spreading the toppings over the melted cheese.

The moment he catches sight of Yoongi, he breaks into a wide and bright grin.

“Yoongi-ah!”

The curve of Yoongi’s smile is such a lovely sight. Jimin can still feel the taste of it on his tongue.

“Jin-hyung,” Yoongi says, a happy lilt to his voice. A couple of people turn to look at Yoongi, clearly recognising him as they say hello. Jin leaves the tray at the centre of the table, everyone immediately reaching out for it, and pushes through the group to pull Yoongi into a hug.

Jimin pulls his hand out of Yoongi’s and watches them, amused.

“Are you well?” Jin asks, pulling back and gripping Yoongi’s shoulders.

Yoongi shrugs, but he’s still smiling. “Yeah.”

“Are you really?” Despite the upturn of his lips and the laughter in his voice, the question manages to carry a weight and seriousness that’s hard to ignore.

“I-” Yoongi glances at Jimin. It doesn’t past Jin’s notice. “Honestly, I really am.”

“And who,” Jin says suddenly, letting his hands fall from Yoongi’s shoulders to reach out to Jimin, “is this?

Jimin goes into the embrace easily, and lets out a shy breath of laughter. “I’m, um. I’m Jimin. It’s nice to meet you.”

Jin turns his face to Yoongi with a gasp.

Yoongi groans. “No.”

“Yoongi-”

“No.”

Yoongi,” Jin says, and keeps one arm firmly draped over Jimin’s shoulders. Yoongi’s expression has fallen into something unimpressed, mouth set in a straight line, yet Jin remains undeterred.

Jimin looks between them. “What’s- what is it?”

Nothing,” Yoongi says, at the same time Jin turns back to Jimin and grins.

“You’re so pretty.” Jin huffs when Yoongi rolls his eyes. “It’s true, he’s gorgeous.”

Jimin feels himself blush furiously, scratching behind his ear and then fiddling with the chain around his neck. He’s not used to being called pretty, or gorgeous, and he’s not quite sure what to do with himself, especially when Jin is so free with his words and they don’t even know each other.

“You think I don’t know that?” Yoongi asks, and Jimin looks down and tries to fight the smile off his face. Yoongi has never said the words to him before; it’s almost overwhelming to hear him acknowledge what Jin’s said, to agree, so casually, like he’s thought it all along.

Yoongi reaches out with his hand and Jimin clasps it immediately, easing himself out of Jin’s hold so he can feel some semblance of normalcy as he presses his free hand to his cheek, trying to use the coolness of his palm to calm himself down.

“Well,” Jin says, clapping his hands together as he looks at Jimin. “Yoongi’s told me so much about you. It’s nice to finally put a face to the name,”

Jimin turns to look at Yoongi, surprised. He didn’t know Yoongi spoke to his friends in the city often enough for them to know about Jimin at all.

There’s a light pink dusting on Yoongi’s cheeks.

“I wish I could say the same,” Jimin admits quietly, smiling at Jin but unable to help himself from glancing back at Yoongi. Jin purses his lips in an effort not to grin at them outright, but it’s an obvious struggle.

“I’d be offended that Yoongi hasn’t mentioned me,” he says, “but this way you can get to know me without any of his lies.”

“He’s awful,” Yoongi says immediately, embarrassment forgotten in favour of staring Jin down, eyes narrowed slightly. “Loud. Messy. Intrusive.”

“Slander,” Jin says simply, like that’s a word people even say in casual conversation. Jimin bites down on the inside of his cheek. It’s clear that they’re close from the way they talk to each other, the way they tease. There’s an air about Jin, a confidence that tells of money and power, but unlike the boys Jimin goes to school with, he’s less arrogant about it, it’s harder to see the wealth on him.

It’s a comfort, to know that someone so close to Yoongi is like this, to know that despite Yoongi’s unspoken riches, he chooses to befriend people like himself. Then again, for all that Jimin knows Yoongi, he’s never come across as someone who cares for airs and graces.

Jimin also feels glad, in a deep and earnest way, that even when Yoongi was struggling with the death of his mother, he had friends he was comfortable reaching out to, staying in touch with. Until now, Jimin didn’t even realise he cared that Yoongi did.

As Jimin glances around the apartment, he settles further. It’s comfy and homely, and it feels more like a dinner with friends than it does a party. There’s alcohol, a lot of it, lined up on the kitchen counter behind them, but no one seems overly drunk, and there’s music playing, but it’s less for dancing and more to fill gaps in conversation with pleasant noise. The chatter and the bass add to the sea of sounds in the city outside.

“-in the guest bedroom,” Jin is saying when Jimin tunes back into the conversation. “They’ll be happy to see you. I mean it, Yoongi.”

Yoongi tugs on Jimin’s hand, beginning to lead him out of the kitchen and into the darkly lit hallway, but he pauses to grasp Jin’s shoulder with his hand and smile. “I know,” he says softly, truthfully. “I’ll be happy to see them too.”

“I hope to see more of you, Jimin!” Jin shouts before he’s pulled back into conversation, and Jimin laughs and nods and lets Yoongi pull him down the hall, where the door at the end is ajar and there’s a soft glow coming from inside.

Yoongi suddenly stops and turns around, and Jimin only just manages not to walk into him.

They’re at level height, but Jimin tilts his head up slightly anyway, smile in place but eyebrows furrowing at the pinched expression on Yoongi’s face.

“Before these assholes complain about me not having mentioned them,” Yoongi begins, and Jimin bites down hard on a smile, “Namjoon and Hoseok. They’re two of my best friends.”

Jimin hums, teasing, and lifts a hand to gently pinch Yoongi’s cheek. Before he can say anything though, the door swings open, and they’re suddenly standing face-to-face with two people, staring between them both with wide eyes.

“How did you-?” Yoongi begins, turning away from Jimin.

“Jin-hyung texted,” one of them says, the taller one, and then after a moment, “you’re back.”

Jimin takes a step away without drawing attention to himself, giving them a semblance of privacy, but Yoongi squeezes his hand to keep him from going too far.

“Not entirely,” Yoongi admits. It’s strange, how he reacts to them, who Jimin assumes must be Hoseok and Namjoon respectively, as compared to Jin. There’s a little more hesitation, a little more wariness.

The smaller of the two, with his small nose and dark red hair, makes a strange noise at the back of his throat. He pushes past the other boy, and pulls Yoongi into an impossibly tight embrace.

“But you’re here now,” he says, eyes screwed shut. “Christ.”

“Hoseok-ah,” Yoongi says softly, “hey.”

Suddenly, abruptly, Hoseok pulls back and punches Yoongi in the shoulder.

Jimin catches the wince on Yoongi’s face.

Dickhead,” Hoseok hisses, his glare fierce and piercing, and Jimin finds himself struggling to keep up with the continuously shifting moods around him. “You didn’t even tell us you were coming,” Hoseok continues. “Jin-hyung texted us literally a second ago, bastard.”

“I literally texted you all,” Yoongi says, unimpressed as he finally lets go of Jimin’s hand to rub his shoulder. “I literally text you all the time.”

“Um,” Namjoon pipes up from the doorway, “still not cool, dude.”

Yoongi sighs, and though Hoseok is still glaring, he seems undeterred. Jimin thinks that this probably isn’t the first time Yoongi has been on the receiving end of it. If the atmosphere weren’t so tense, it might even be amusing to see the three friends come to a clear impasse.

Yoongi glances between them, and then steps forward, holding Hoseok’s wrist in one hand and curling his other around Namjoon’s neck.

“Guys,” he says, and his voice is low but firm. “I promise you, I’m alright. I’m actually, uh, I’m actually really good.”

It’s quiet, the music and the chatter from the living room and the kitchen distant to Jimin’s ears, and then Hoseok smiles. Jimin is struck by the sight of it, how it transforms his face completely and seems to make the air around him, between the three of them, lighter.

“It’s really good to see you,” Namjoon says quietly, and there’s a small dimple in his cheek. Jimin finds himself impossibly endeared. “Christ, man, it’s really good to see you again.”

Yoongi must have left the city quickly after his mother’s death if the reactions of his closest friends are anything to go by. The way the tension bleeds out of Yoongi isn’t only visible on his face but in the set of his shoulders, the way his wrists seem to relax even as he keeps a hold on them both.

“It’s really good to see you too, Joon-ah.” 

Jimin is so caught up with watching Yoongi that he doesn’t realise their focus has shifted onto him until he notices Namjoon’s gaze, intrigued and assessing. Hoseok’s grin is unwavering.

“You must be Jimin,” Namjoon says finally, smiling, and just like Hoseok, the seriousness of his face fades into something softer, welcoming.

Hoseok points to Yoongi. “Don’t worry about pretending he told you shit about us.”

Yoongi makes an indignant sound, mouth falling open, and Jimin’s eyes are drawn back to him. It’s a habit he still hasn’t been able to shake, even in all the time they’ve known each other.

“Hyung,” Namjoon says, half-amused and half-reprimanding, “chill.”

Yoongi’s eyes dart to Namjoon, and then to Jimin, wondering, waiting to see what Jimin will say. Jimin lets his lips curve into a cheeky grin. “He said you were his best friends.”

Jimin isn’t quite sure what reaction he was expecting, but it wasn’t for Namjoon to groan dramatically and walk back into the room he and Hoseok emerged from, or for the almost inhuman screeching sound Hoseok makes as he pinches Yoongi’s cheeks between his fingers.

“You do care,” Hoseok jokes, and Yoongi huffs loudly. Before Jimin realises what’s happening, Yoongi’s reached out to grab him by the arm and pull him into the room behind Namjoon.

Despite his grip, Yoongi’s touch is gentle, and his eyes are soft when he glances back at Jimin and winks.

Hoseok follows them inside, cooing teasingly, and closes the door behind him. Yoongi takes a seat beside Namjoon in a massive pile of blankets and cushions on the floor, and Hoseok is saying something to them, but Jimin is enraptured by the glow radiating from the fairy lights strung up around the room, weaved into the bed frame and hanging from the windowsill.

Reds and pinks and purples mix together to cast a gentle fuchsia glow. The window is open but the room is warm, and there’s a laptop resting on the edge of the bed, an old film still playing that Hoseok and Namjoon must have put on but not paid much attention to. The room is suspended in a beautiful haze.

It’s wonderful, like magic.

Yoongi’s fingers brush gently against Jimin’s, and Jimin lowers himself onto the ground to sit crossed-legged beside him.

With the film playing in the background and the noise of distant city traffic outside, Jimin finds his body feeling sated and heavy, mind clear of all thought. The three friends pass a joint between them, and Jimin is content to let the conversation flow around him, speaking only when he’s asked something directly. Hoseok is bright and sweet, and Namjoon is quiet and gentle, and it’s so easy to see how they’re all friends.

Jimin doesn’t rest his head on Yoongi’s shoulder, leaning back against the wall instead, but their thighs are pressed together and when Yoongi moves, Jimin can feel the fabric of Yoongi’s shirt brush against his cheek. 

When Namjoon and Yoongi turn their attention back to the film, Hoseok turns his attention to Jimin. He’s nice, really nice, and Jimin finds that he laughs easy, breathes easy, around him.

Jimin’s always had difficulty making friends, perhaps because of how focused and reserved he is, or because of the arrogance of students his age. Being around Namjoon and Hoseok though, Jimin feels a small trickle of excitement seep into his blood at the possibility that one day, he could find friends like this, people who make him feel as settled as he does now.

“Yah,” Hoseok says, scrunching his nose at Jimin as he pokes Yoongi’s thigh with his toes, “you never told me Jiminie was this cute.”

“Jiminie?” Jimin asks, suddenly shy.

“Of course!” Hoseok says brightly, reaching out to ruffle Jimin’s hair. “Cute name for the cute boy.”

Jimin feels the flush creeping up his neck and looks down, feeling Yoongi shift beside him.

“It’s true,” Namjoon agrees, catching Jimin’s eye and grinning. “You are pretty cute. Hyung mentioned a lot of stuff, but he didn’t say that.”

“Oh my god,” Jimin whispers, unsure of what to say, not used to being doted on. That Yoongi would have told his friends about him, about Jimin, in detail had never even crossed his mind. For one terrifying, guilty moment, Jimin thinks of Taehyung.

Stop it-” Yoongi hisses, reaching over Jimin to whack Hoseok’s leg. Unfortunately, he’s not half as intimidating as he’s trying to be, and Jimin forgets his momentary embarrassment to muffle a laugh behind his hand.

Hoseok shouts dramatically and raises a hand to his heart, crying abuse, and Namjoon begins to read what Jimin can only describe as a eulogy for him, sombre and straight-faced. Yoongi groans over them, complaining about the noise they’re making despite his own voice growing progressively louder.

Jimin laughs until he’s breathless, can’t actually remember the last time he laughed so much, and eventually has to excuse himself to go to the bathroom and freshen up.

The room has an ensuite, and Jimin locks the door behind him. He can hear Yoongi and Hoseok shouting at each other, and Namjoon’s occasional laughter, and it makes him smile. It’s as he’s washing his hands that the noise suddenly and finally dies down, and when he steps back into the bedroom, the door is open and Yoongi is sitting alone on the bed. He’s leaning back against the headboard as he scrolls through his phone, and the yellow light of his screen illuminates his face, makes him softer, touchable.

Jimin can touch him.

Sometimes, he still can’t quite believe it.

Yoongi looks up and turns as Jimin walks closer, setting his phone on the bedside table as Jimin stands between the spread of his legs. He takes Jimin’s hands in his, pressing their palms flat together and intertwining their fingers.

“They’re fucking insane,” Yoongi says, but he’s smiling. “I’m sorry you had to meet them.”

“I’m not,” Jimin says, earnest and honest and true.

Reds and pinks and purples mix together to cast a gentle fuchsia glow. Jimin is reminded vividly of the first time they kissed.

Then, the colours had been easily distinguishable, like jigsaw pieces against Yoongi’s face. Now, they all bleed together, the edges blurred. Now, when Jimin bends down to kiss him, Yoongi is already meeting him halfway.

Yoongi’s mouth is gentle and pliant, his lips moving languidly against Jimin’s. The kiss, more of a meeting of mouths, becomes coaxing, teasing, sweet.

Yoongi shifts back onto the bed, leaning back against the headboard like he’d been before, and Jimin follows. He cages Yoongi’s hips with his thighs, and their hands disconnect, only for Jimin to cup Yoongi’s face in his palms. Jimin brushes his thumbs lightly over the delicate skin beneath Yoongi’s eyes, and Yoongi’s hands fall to Jimin’s waist, warm even through the fabric of his t-shirt.

Jimin sways forward.

“You know I think you’re pretty, right?” Yoongi breathes against his mouth, breath warm and a little damp against Jimin’s lips. “That I think you’re beautiful?”

Jimin purses his mouth, lets his fingers fall to curl beneath Yoongi’s jaw. He shakes his head. “You’ve never said. We’ve never- we- you never said.”

One of Yoongi’s hands squeezes a little tighter around Jimin’s waist, fingers pushing against the hem of his t-shirt just slightly, just enough that the soft skin of his fingertips meets the soft skin of Jimin’s back. The other begins to slide down to his jeans, resting just above the curve of Jimin’s ass and bringing them closer together.

“You are,” Yoongi says quietly, fingers pressing down, digging in just enough to hurt, “you are.”

Jimin kisses him. Kisses Yoongi until they’re breathless, and then bites down on Yoongi’s bottom lip with his teeth as he rolls his hips forward, immediately soothing the small swell of it with his tongue. Yoongi makes a sound that’s not quite a gasp, not quite a sigh, either. It’s somewhere in between and it has Jimin’s breath hitching, the movement of his hips slowing just slightly as he tries to draw the sound from Yoongi again.

The way Yoongi holds him, firm and solid and real, is almost too much to handle. His touch is like an imprint, burns and brands Jimin’s skin like a cold fire.

Yoongi’s mouth falls open, and Jimin runs his tongue over the edges of Yoongi’s teeth, feeling the sharp curves of his canines. He tastes of smoke and chocolate, and the way he touches Jimin is mind-numbing, overwhelming. The curl of his tongue has Jimin groaning against his lips. In the span of a few weeks, Yoongi’s learned how to make Jimin’s heart race, how to make him lose all coherent thought with a single touch.

Jimin wants more. He wants more of Yoongi - all of him. He wants to feel their bodies together and taste the curve of his collarbones, feel Yoongi’s skin, bare and soft and warm, beneath his hands.

God-

God.

Jimin wants his hands everywhere, wants Yoongi’s hands everywhere on him. He wants to hold and be held, to take Yoongi apart and piece him back together. It’s like a haze descends over them, over him, and all he can think of is everything they could do, all the ways he could learn Yoongi and Yoongi could learn him.

His hips stutter in their movements, mouth slipping from Yoongi’s as his chest heaves with a shaky exhale.

“Look at you-” Yoongi says, “Christ, look at you.”

Jimin moans and grinds his hips, turns his head to tuck it into the crook of Yoongi’s neck. One of his hands curls around Yoongi’s shoulder, the other beneath his jaw, fingers brushing the strands of hair at the nape of Yoongi’s neck. His legs fall open further, and he can feel his jeans straining against his thighs, but the new angle helps him move closer, gives them better friction even through the layers of fabric between them, and it’s perfect.

It’s fucking perfect.

The lights shine and the city goes on, unsleeping and alive, but there’s a supernova building in the space between their bodies with more life and more radiance than anyone can comprehend. The heat of the stars in their hearts create something burning and bright in the hollow between their chests, and there’s stardust trapped in Jimin’s veins, galaxies beneath the roof of his mouth that spill into Yoongi’s own.

Out there, the world is big and breathing, but in between them, in the crevices and curves of their entangled souls, a whole universe expands.

“Jimin-” Yoongi breathes out, gasps into his ear, wet mouth grazing the cartilage and silver piercings that hang there. “Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” he whispers, like it’s a secret that he wants to keep, like it’s something he can’t quite believe. “The sounds you’re making, baby- God.”

“Please,” Jimin says, breathless, desperate. “Yoongi- please-”

 One of Yoongi’s hands splays itself completely over Jimin’s back, on his bare skin beneath his shirt, and the other over his ass. It keeps them close, impossible and tantalisingly and distressingly close.

The mingled sounds of their gasps and moans fill the room, and it’s a symphony straight to Jimin’s heart.

“Look at me,” Yoongi says, “baby- Jimin, look at me-”

Jimin lifts his head, and Yoongi’s lips are swollen and red and soft, so soft, when they press against his mouth.

And then Yoongi bites down, and Jimin’s hips jerk.

“Yoongi- Yoongi-” The only way to describe the sound that escapes him is a whimper, quiet and helpless, and Jimin is lost. Lost to the feeling of Yoongi, against and around him, to the sound of his own heartbeat and the rush of blood in his ears. “Touch me,” Jimin whispers, “please.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says gently, hands immediately finding their way to the button of Jimin’s jeans, “okay, baby.”

The sound of Jimin’s zip is loud in the quiet room as he continues to rock his hips, and then he tilts his head forward and gasps into Yoongi’s mouth when he feels Yoongi’s fingers curl around him through his boxers. The hand Yoongi had on his ass has moved, but Jimin doesn’t care because the new touch, the heat of his hands and the pressure of his fingers is-

It’s-

God. Jimin doesn’t think the words exist.

As Yoongi’s hands work, slow and firm and hard, he nudges Jimin’s jaw up with his nose to have better access to his neck, and then he’s pressing kisses to Jimin’s erratic pulse, over and over. He begins to suck and scrape his teeth over the tender skin, and Jimin can feel the bruise forming, blood vessels breaking beneath Yoongi’s tongue. It’s incredible. It’s hot and it’s shameless and Jimin doesn’t want Yoongi to stop, leaning further into him.

It should be impossible to get any closer, but Jimin leans further into Yoongi anyway.

Jimin’s fingers curl harder around Yoongi’s shoulder, and he feels his nails dig into Yoongi’s skin through the fabric of his shirt when Yoongi suddenly pulls Jimin’s dick out of his boxers.

Jimin screws his eyes shut and tilts his head back as Yoongi’s hand begins to move up and down his length, skin soft and grip firm and nails dragging just slightly. Yoongi’s mouth is still warm and wet on his neck.

He’s making sounds beneath his breath, oh and Yoongi and please, and Yoongi works him through it, doesn’t pick up the pace but doesn’t slow down either. Jimin’s not sure how long it takes, only knows he wants Yoongi’s hands on him always, Yoongi’s voice forever whispering songs of praise in his ear, but then his body is shuddering and Yoongi is gasping his name, jerking up into him.

The door is still open, but-

It’s quiet.

It’s still.

The sound the Big Bang made at the beginning of creation can still be heard in faint echoes throughout the universe, pulses like a heartbeat in the ever-expanding sky. This, their stilted breaths and heaving chests, Jimin’s trembling thighs and Yoongi’s parted mouth, will be an image that lingers in Jimin’s mind, echoes in his memory.

“Sometimes,” Yoongi says, eyes still closed, “I don’t think you’re real.”

For some reason, the words bring tears to Jimin’s eyes. He feels himself falter, feels something in his heart break. You’re the one, Jimin thinks, you’re the one that-

Slowly, sweetly, softly, their lips find each other’s again. They’re messy and sweaty and the breeze through the window causes goosebumps to break out over Jimin’s skin.

Jimin feels Yoongi’s eyelashes flutter against his cheek, feels stars collide in the cage of his ribs.

It’s quiet.

It’s still.

 

-

 

Taehyung finds out.

Jimin hasn’t found the right moment to tell him, but Taehyung finds out.

He’s been overworking himself; his shifts at the bakery remain endless and tiring, his wrists become sore from kneading dough and the skin of his fingers grows dry, red and peeling at the cuticles. In school, assignments continue to pile high. It seems like the more he works, there more there is still to do. Dance practice remains unforgiving, and as much as he adores it, the ache in his feet and legs begins to linger, no longer soothed away by the long showers and salt baths he takes.

His teachers notice he’s struggling, he knows they do, but none of them reach out, because Jimin stays top in his classes despite his workload, and that means other students have no excuses not to work just as hard.

They make an example of him without asking, without him even realising. When he does, it hurts, more so than he can ever remember it hurting, and Jimin draws further into himself. He spends his free time in the library, huddled by the shitty radiator as he tries not to fall asleep on his books, obsessively timetabling his every minute to fit in revision and work. The moment he finishes class, he’s out of the school gates and on his way to the bakery, staying until late in the evenings.

He doesn’t see Taehyung as often as he wants to. He doesn’t see much of Yoongi, either.

So, he’s not quite sure whether it’s exhaustion or relief that cause him to collapse into Taehyung’s arms. He’d walked home only to find Taehyung waiting for him on the church steps, face illuminated by the headlights of the car he’d left running.

Jimin tucks his face beneath Taehyung’s chin and lets Taehyung rock them back and forth, gravel crunching beneath their feet and the shadows of their silhouettes thrown against the church doors by the car lights.

“I miss you,” Taehyung confesses, always more honest and more willing to open himself up. “I don’t even know where you are,” he says, “I miss you.”

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Taehyung needs Jimin as much as Jimin needs him.

Jimin feels his chest constrict and shakes his head, not sure what to say or where to start, knowing that Taehyung will get it, that he’ll understand. His hands are trapped between them and Taehyung has enveloped him completely, and the embrace is comforting, feels and smells like home.

Taehyung has never been to Jimin’s apartment, but they’ve never been without each other for so long before, either. Jimin needs the comfort of him, needs the closeness and family that Taehyung brings with his smile and his laughter and his gentle voice.

It feels strange to finally see him here, to see him standing in the doorway and then searching through the fridge, have him emerging from the bathroom in old clothes that he’d leant to Jimin and ‘forgot’ to ask after.

Around Taehyung, Jimin lets the exhaustion of the past two weeks finally catch up to him. His body feels weak and his bones weighted, and this is the first time he truly lets himself relax, lets himself feel at ease. Taehyung has always had the power to make him feel like he can.

They curl towards each other on Jimin’s bed, feet touching and heads resting on the edges of their pillows. Taehyung lifts his hand and begins to run his fingers through Jimin’s hair, pushing dark strands off his forehead - it’s a habit he’s had since they were young, when Jimin started working and Taehyung didn’t know what he could do to help, smoothing Jimin’s hair like Taehyung’s grandmother did to him when he was unwell.

“Just a little longer,” Taehyung says quietly, “and all of it will be over.” Just a little longer till the entrance exam, till Jimin finds out if he makes the cut to go to university, till he can finally let himself breathe.

In the silence, Jimin matches the rise and fall of his chest with Taehyung’s.

“Where have you been?” Taehyung asks a little while later, barely louder than a whisper.

Jimin closes his eyes. “I don’t know.”

It’s strange, to have seen each other in class and have eaten their lunches together, in hurried fifteen-minute breaks before rushing back to the library, but to still feel like they’ve been apart for so long. There’s so much Jimin thinks they could say to each other, so much that they don’t know how to.

“What do you need?” Taehyung asks, hand curling over Jimin’s neck as he pressed their foreheads together. “What can I give you?”

“I don’t know,” he says again, and then, less certain and less sure, “time. Tae, I just need some time.”

He’s not sure where the honesty comes from, but maybe it’s the relief of having Taehyung with him again that makes him feel a little raw, makes his tongue loose.

Taehyung sighs, and then hums, and he tucks Jimin’s head beneath his chin and wraps an arm around his shoulders, throws a leg over Jimin’s thighs and cages him in. Jimin doesn’t know why he never let himself have this comfort before, why he never let himself be loved by Taehyung in his own home before.

“I can get you time,” Taehyung says eventually, as Jimin is drifting into sleep. “I don’t want you to hate me for it.”

Jimin shakes his head. He could never hate Taehyung, he’d sooner tear his heart out of his chest. He could get angry, hurt and upset, could maybe bring himself to ignore Taehyung for a little while, but Jimin doesn’t think there’s a cell in his body that would be prepared to hate him, be prepared to do anything less than love Taehyung completely and unconditionally, in the purest way love can exist.

And Jimin is tired. He’s so, so tired. He’d let Taehyung do anything, give him anything, at this point.

He doesn’t mean to fall asleep, but when Jimin wakes up, the sun is already shining brightly in his room and Taehyung is hanging up the phone.

Jimin’s late for work. He knows he’s late for work, because he leaves when the sky is still dark and it’s winter and his room is full of light, and he’s late for work.

He tries to swallow past the lump in his throat, tries to get Taehyung’s attention, but no sound comes from his mouth. He forces himself to take a deep breath, but the rush of air in his lungs only seems to make the awful feeling building in his chest worse.

“Hey,” Taehyung says, noticing his panic and shuffling down the bed, cupping Jimin’s face in his palms. “Jimin-ah, hey-”

“Tae-” Jimin says, unable to catch his breath and speak, “Tae- I can’t- I need to-”

He was meant to work an eight-hour shift today; that’s money he can’t afford to miss out on. He’s been leaving the heater on to keep his room warm when he stumbles home from work, and there’s a list of things he needs to buy: stationary and books and a new pair of dance shoes, and he needs money for that.

Jimin tries to pull away, tries to sit up. Taehyung reaches out with one hand to hold Jimin’s, presses Jimin’s shaking palm to his chest, right over his heart.

Jimin-” he says, “listen. Listen to me.”

It takes a few moments to hear past the blood rushing in his ears, to focus himself on Taehyung’s steady heartbeat. As his own heaving chest begins to slow, Jimin feels his eyes grow heavy with sleep, beginning to feel sore.

“Don’t hate me,” Taehyung begins, when Jimin’s breath has calmed, though his hands have yet to stop shaking. “I love you, and I need you to be okay, so don’t hate me. Please.”

Jimin falters, Taehyung’s panic making Jimin’s worry lessen slightly, confusion and concern for Taehyung overtaking him instead.

“Taehyung?”

“Because, you promised me-” Taehyung says, voice wavering, “you promised me that you’d try and last night was as close to asking as you’ve ever given me so just- just don’t-”

“What is it?” Jimin asks, “Taehyung, what is it-?”

“I called your work and got someone to cover your shift,” Taehyung says in a rush, and he seems to steel himself before saying, “for the whole week.”

Ice floods Jimin’s veins, and he gets a sudden burst of energy, scrambling to sit up. “What?

“I just-”

“You have no right,” Jimin hisses, eyes narrowing as Taehyung pushes himself upright. “You have no right-

He doesn’t know what he expected, but it wasn’t for Taehyung to be angry back. “That’s all we ever talk about!” he shouts suddenly, “your job and your work and your money. And it wouldn’t even-” he waves a hand between them, “it wouldn’t even be a problem if I knew how to help! It wouldn’t even be a problem if you let me!”

Jimin bites down hard on the inside of his cheek, furious, but Taehyung doesn’t wait for him to reply.

“Instead,” Taehyung continues, shoving the duvet off him as he stands. “Instead, I have to sit and listen and pretend that it’s not fucked up that somehow I’m becoming this cave for you to shout into, except you don’t even want an echo back.”

The engine of a speeding car outside rumbles and revs as it drives down the road, but the sound isn’t as thunderous as that of Taehyung’s voice, of Jimin’s pulsing blood.

“You haven’t been a kid since you were fourteen, and then suddenly you grew up and decided that you had to be alone!” Taehyung reaches for his jeans that he’d left at the side of the bed, pulling them on over the shorts he’d worn to sleep in. His sweater, dark red and warm, goes on over the threadbare t-shirt. “I get it. I get it. You don’t have parents, and you don’t have a home to call yours,” he says, “and I get that I’m never going to know what it’s like to worry that one day you won’t have any idea where your next meal is coming from.”

Distantly, dimly, Jimin realises this fight isn’t about him at all.

“But you can’t hold that against me,” Taehyung says, blinking rapidly, “you can’t fucking hold that against me. Because- because I might not ever know, but I’ve spent half my life trying to make sure you never know, either.”

Jimin forces himself to stand, but his legs feel shaky. It has nothing to do with the exhaustion, nothing to do with aching muscles or tired bones.

“I figure,” Taehyung says, rubbing at his eyes, and fuck- fuck, his hands are shaking. “I figure you think I pity you, or that you’d owe me, or that I’d hold it over you.”

Jimin feels his chest begin to rise and fall rapidly, the awful feeling in his chest returning, only this time it’s uglier, larger, more painful.

“So, maybe you’re on a self-imposed crusade, making yourself a martyr you don’t need to be, and maybe-” Taehyung cuts himself off to take a gulping breath, and shakes his head, “and I guess maybe I haven’t been the friend I thought I was trying to be for you.”

“Taehyung-” Jimin says, but his voice is hoarse and a little dry, and the fight has been completely drained out of him. “Taehyung-” He takes a step forward. Taehyung makes a small, wounded noise.

“And,” Taehyung continues, eyes screwing shut, as if the words are painful for him to get out, “and you haven’t been the friend I’ve needed you to be recently, either.”

There are very few things Jimin takes pride in, but one of them, perhaps the most important one, is being Taehyung’s best friend. A hatred, deep and violent and like nothing he’s ever felt before, crashes into him, makes Jimin feel sick to his stomach. In all his panic, all his worry and fear and selfishness, he’d forgotten to be there for the person who’s always mattered most, who’s never made Jimin feel anything less than wholly adored.

“You have a week off work,” Taehyung says, glancing up at the exposed beams of the ceiling, voice purposefully controlled. “I told them you’d spend some time sorting through the finances between studying, so you won’t lose out on pay.”

“Taehyung-”

Taehyung shakes his head. “I called Yoongi-hyung and asked if he could drop off some lunch,” he says instead. “Turns out he’s been here a lot, that you talk a lot.”

Jimin suddenly remembers that he’d never said a word about Yoongi to Taehyung at all. That it’s been four months, if not more, and that despite every hurdle and difficulty Jimin has faced, he’s never kept anything from Taehyung for so long before.

“I’m glad that-” Taehyung continues quietly, “I’m glad that you found each other. I really- I really am.”

The most heartbreaking thing about it all is that Taehyung is never anything less than completely earnest. Whether it’s his encouragement or support or love, it’s always gentle, always kind. It’s why, regardless of his money and status and wealth, people are naturally drawn to him, seek his company. And Taehyung has always directed so much of it to Jimin, and that Jimin is at a place where he could ignore or dismiss it, is-

It’s-

Jimin’s not quite sure he likes the person he’s becoming, if it’s not someone worthy of a person like Kim Taehyung.

“You have the week off,” Taehyung says again, and he pockets his phone and pulls on his coat, slipping on his shoes. He’s stood in the doorway of Jimin’s apartment, leaving, and Jimin can’t move. Can’t even say a word. “Please be okay.”

It feels like the noise the door makes as it closes behind him should be louder than a quiet click.

When Yoongi arrives an hour later, a white plastic bag of take-out food in his hand, Jimin hasn’t made sense of anything. He’d showered and freshened up, put away laundry that had been piling on his desk, even managed to tick things off his to-do list, but he still hasn’t made sense of a single thing.

He feels numb, achingly and distressingly numb.

It’s hard not to notice Taehyung’s absence, especially when Yoongi’s bought enough food for three people, but he doesn’t ask. By the downturned pout of his lips, the way he checks his phone, he doesn’t know where Taehyung has gone or why, but he doesn’t ask.

Maybe it’s the time that’s passed without each other, or maybe it’s the way Jimin moves as if he’s not quite sure of himself, but Yoongi stays with him for the whole day. As Jimin works half-heartedly, Yoongi presses himself close to Jimin’s side and trails absent kisses down his neck. It’s grounding, a comfort, and probably one that Jimin doesn’t deserve.

He takes it anyway. Revels in it, lets his head fall to the side and lets Yoongi kiss him, the same spot, over and over until it burns.

When the sky begins to turn a saturated shade of lilac, Jimin says, “I’ve been a really shit friend to your cousin.”

They’re sat side-by-side, and Jimin is so glad he can’t see Yoongi’s face as he speaks.

“I’ve been really selfish,” Jimin admits, “and it’s made me a really bad person.”

“You’re not,” Yoongi says quietly, surely, “whatever you’ve done, I know you’re not.”

Jimin shakes his head furiously. “You don’t-”

“When we met, I didn’t realise who you were,” Yoongi says, interrupting him. “I didn’t realise that you were the same Jimin that Taehyung talked about. Literally, every time I’ve called him since he was twelve years old,” he says, reaching out to tangle their fingers together, forcing Jimin to drop the pencil in his hand, his voice a gentle rasp, “every time, he always tells me about you first. For the last seven years, you’ve been his intelligent, and smart, and funny, and kind, and selfless best friend.”

Jimin’s body shakes as he inhales.

“I used to tease him,” Yoongi continues, “that he was in love with you. He said if he could be so lucky.” Yoongi turns his face slightly more towards Jimin, and grazes his thumb up and down the length of Jimin’s index finger. “I don’t think there’s a person in this world he admires more than he admires you.”

Jimin feels his eyes burn, and lifts his other hand to rub furiously at them, trying to will the tears away.

“I worry about him being taking advantage of a lot,” Yoongi says, “but everything he told me about you, I never doubted your intentions for a second.” He pauses, and his next words are weighted with something Jimin has never heard in his voice before. “I don’t know what happened exactly, but I have a feeling I know what it’s about. You shouldn’t be afraid of asking for help, and you shouldn’t be afraid of receiving it, either.”

“It’s hard,” Jimin confesses suddenly, voice weak. “It’s so hard.” He shakes his head, and pulls away so he can look at Yoongi. He’s never said this to anyone before, but it makes sense that Yoongi would be the first to hear it, the first to know. “I don’t want to take favours, to be indebted to anyone.”

“You’re not asking for anything Taehyung won’t willingly give,” Yoongi says immediately, “by the looks of it, you’re not asking for anything at all. Helping yourself isn’t just about you, but about the people around you, too.”

Jimin purses his lips, but stays quiet.

“You’re too careful, too worried, and love him too much to take advantage of him, Jimin.” Yoongi lifts his hand to brush a few strands of hair off Jimin’s forehead, fingertips lightly grazing Jimin’s skin. “You don’t have to ask for anything you don’t think you can give back.”

It’s getting rapidly dark outside, and they haven’t even turned the light on. It’s easier to talk like this, to be close and earnest like this, in the shadows.

“Do you ever expect anything when you look out for him?” Yoongi asks suddenly. “When you stay up with him to revise for an exam, or talk him through his insecurities?” Yoongi’s lips twitch when Jimin’s eyes grow wide, lips parting. “He really did tell me so much about you, Jimin.”

No,” Jimin says, shaking his head, “no, I do that because I- I love him. He’s the best person in my life.”

“You’re the best person in his.”

Suddenly, quietly, it clicks.

Something must show on his face, realisation or a muted kind of awareness, because Yoongi smiles a little wider, teeth beginning to show.

Taehyung loves Jimin, wants to express and give his love in any way he can, and for him, with his money and his privilege, it makes sense that he would try to give Jimin even a little bit of the life he lives himself. It’s thoughtless for him, in the same way what Jimin does is thoughtless for Taehyung, because it’s an act of love, an act of concern and kindness and family.

Yoongi leans forward to place a kiss at the corner of Jimin’s mouth, tender and sweet, but Jimin turns his head, pulls Yoongi back in for something deeper, something slow.

“Thank you,” Jimin says quietly, opening his eyes and watching Yoongi’s eyelashes flutter, waits for Yoongi to look back. “Hey, thank you.”

He wants to say so much more, but he hopes for now, with the dark sky and the quiet room, with their gentle breaths and even gentler beating hearts, that Yoongi will understand.

Yoongi owes him nothing, but he visits Jimin almost every day without fail. He kisses him and holds him, runs his fingers through Jimin’s hair and presses his lips to Jimin’s forehead whilst he works. Yoongi owes him nothing, but he listens and he stays patient, and when he looks at Jimin with his soft and dark eyes it feels like-

It feels like-

It feels close to something Jimin isn’t quite ready to name.

 

-

 

Taehyung is hunched outside on the wooden steps of his house, looking out at the garden. His chin is tucked behind his knees and his hands are stuffed in the pockets of his jacket, and it’s amazing how someone so tall can make themselves look so incredibly tiny.

Jimin knocks twice on the wooden frame of the back door before he walks outside. He doesn’t say anything as he lowers himself onto the step beside Taehyung, and Taehyung doesn’t say anything to him.

It’s been two days since they last spoke.

“You’re going to catch a cold,” Jimin says through a sigh. “How long have you been out here?”

Taehyung shrugs, and then because he was raised to be polite, to always answer a question when asked, says, “not that long.”

There’s a silence that falls over them, strange and tense, that not even the soft rustle of leaves as the wind blows gently by can break.

It’s been two days, and Jimin has spent most of that time thinking of what he could say to fix things. Now, faced with the reality of being honest, Jimin has to take several deep breaths before he speaks.

“You’ve been my best friend and my brother from the moment we met,” he begins hesitantly, “I don’t think there’s been a decision I’ve made, or a- a step I’ve taken, where you haven’t been there.” His fingers creep towards the chain around his neck, the only luxury he’s ever really allowed himself, a matching accessory to the one Taehyung never takes off. “There’s not a future I can imagine that doesn’t have you in it.”

Taehyung’s still looking out at the greenery, the lines of trees at the bottom of the garden and the freshly cut grass. He doesn’t reply, doesn’t say a word, but Jimin doesn’t expect him too.

“I don’t take money from you because that’s not who you are to me,” Jimin says, “and it’s not the person I want to be to you.” Jimin lets his eyes trail over the familiar profile of Taehyung’s face, the smooth slope of his nose and the curves of his mouth. “I tried so hard not to be this toxic or exhausting person in your life, and that’s who I’ve ended becoming anyway.”

There are tears clinging to Taehyung’s eyelashes. His bottom lip quivers.

“Money between us is different, and I don’t see it like you do. When I give you time- when I give you anything, it’s stuff that’s tangible to me. More real to me.” Jimin shrugs, and finally looks away from Taehyung to follow his line of sight instead. “But I don’t expect it back, even though time and effort and comfort are all invaluable, too. It’s so easy for me to give them to you that I don’t even- I don’t even think about it.”

Here, Jimin falters. Here, his words take a little longer to come out. Selfishly, he reaches out and forces his hand into Taehyung’s pocket, tangling their fingers together.

“It’s not fair that I don’t let you do the same for me. It’s not fair that I, uh, that I belittle you, or the way you want to help.” Jimin swallows around the lump in his throat, voice shaking slightly as he speaks. “I’m sorry. I know it’s not enough, but I’m, um-” his voice cracks, and Jimin lifts his free hand to wipe his cold nose. “I’m really sorry, Tae.”

Taehyung turns before Jimin has even finished speaking, and envelopes him in an impossibly tight embrace. Their knees dig into each other and their hands are still clasped in Taehyung’s jacket pocket, but Taehyung holds Jimin close and Jimin curves into him further.

Jimin’s next words are spoken quietly, but are just as important, and he tilts his face to the side so that his words won’t be muffled against Taehyung’s scarf.

“When we move,” to university, to the city, “I was thinking maybe we could share a place.” He knows he sounds uncertain, taking long pauses between his words, but this is a step he needs to force himself to take, and a step he wouldn’t dare take with anyone else. “It’d have to be small, just for us, but maybe…maybe we could balance it out. You could pay rent and I’d pay the bills, and we’d rotate the groceries. It’d be- I don’t know, it’d be-”

Nice. It’d be nice and comforting, and Jimin wouldn’t feel guilty and Taehyung wouldn’t feel useless, and it’d be nice.

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, voice a little choked up. “That’d be- I’d. Um, I’d really like that.”

Jimin sniffs, and nods. “Me too.”

Their eyes are still damp with unshed tears and they both sound a little strange, the air is getting colder and their position uncomfortable, but they’re together. They’re together, and that means things will be okay.

Jimin pulls back and smiles, and it’s small but bright, and Taehyung grins in his beautiful and wondrous way.

It’s enough.

 

-

 

They spend the rest of the evening talking. They haven’t spent time together like this in so long that Jimin had almost forgotten that they could.

As the evening passes, and conversation turns into testing each other using revision cards, Jimin realises he lost out on a lot of his youth because of concerns that people his age don’t often have. The thought doesn’t bring any bitter or anger, but more of a quiet acceptance, that this is the life he made and he’s the one who’ll change it.

The week following is meant to be one of the most intense of his life, sitting the entrance exam and finding out whether he meets the required grade threshold for university, but somehow, it’s like the storm has already passed and Jimin is revelling in the calm that follows.

The test itself takes a whole day, the school shrouded in a tense silence, and then it’s done. It feels more anticlimactic than anyone thought it would.

They go to a diner on the outskirts of town and, like all the students around them, eat quietly and drink and let the stress seep out their bones. Jimin’s hands are still shaking from how hard he’d held his pencil throughout the day, stained with smudges black ink.

It takes him a few more days before he’s able to return to work, and when Jimin asks for some of his shifts to continue being covered, it doesn’t make him panic like it once would.

One day, as Jimin is in the final hour of his shift, immersed in a graphic novel, Taehyung and Yoongi walk in through the door. They make a striking sight, so different in the way they carry themselves, both with their own kind of power. Jimin can’t help but smile at them, pushing himself to a stand as Taehyung bounds over to the counter.

“Hey,” Jimin says, quiet and surprised, “what are you doing here?”

Taehyung grins and glances at Yoongi, who’s busy inspecting the muffins through the glass case. “Just thought we’d come say hello.”

Jimin hums and reaches over the counter to pinch the skin beneath Taehyung’s chin, then soothes it with his thumb before pulling back. “The usual?” he asks, already moving towards the coffee machine.

“To stay, please,” Taehyung says, and then nudging Yoongi, asks, “hyung? What are you having?”

“I’ll just have a double espresso, thanks.”

Jimin glances over his shoulder and nods his head at Taehyung, having caught the order, and then catches Yoongi’s eye. He feels the expression on his face soften, and watches Yoongi’s eyes flicker over his features.

“You look better,” Yoongi says quietly. “The rest did you some good.”

Jimin nods, biting the inside of his cheek. “I think so, too.”

“I’m glad,” he says, soft and sweet. Patting Taehyung’s shoulder, Yoongi then moves to sit down, and Taehyung leans forward as he waits for Jimin to finish making their drinks. His chin is propped on his hands, elbows on the counter, and his eyes follow Jimin as he moves.

Jimin pushes the coffees towards him. “What?”

“You care about him a lot,” Taehyung comments, so much more observant than he seems. “I don’t know how I never realised.”

Jimin glances down at the blue apron tied around his waist, picking at a loose thread, feeling warmth creep up his neck.

“The best people in my life,” he continues, but doesn’t sound upset or hurt, “and you started something before you even knew.”

“What do you mean?” Jimin asks, eyebrows furrowing as he looks back up.

“Just, like.” Taehyung waves his hand around vaguely, keeps the gesture small as to not draw Yoongi’s attention. “Remember that party? And he said you’d already met? You already had something going on before I even introduced you.”

Jimin remembers; the party and the moonlight and Yoongi’s soft smile.

“I guess that’s why I’m not upset that I didn’t find out earlier,” Taehyung says, "because whatever’s between you two started before I was even part of the equation at all.”

Jimin feels the blush spread over his cheeks. “I-”

“I remember,” Taehyung says quietly, “seeing you together and thinking it was so strange, because it’s like you couldn’t even look at him.” Taehyung shakes his head, smile small. “And when you did, it’s like you couldn’t look away.”

It’s insane. It’s insane how Taehyung can soothe each of Jimin’s worries and concerns with his gentle words, his kind understanding.

Jimin still feels the need to apologise. “I’m still sorry for keeping it from you,” he says, “I just- it’s weird. It doesn’t even feel real, sometimes.”

Taehyung stays quiet, giving Jimin his full intention, giving him time to sort through his thoughts.

“We’ve never talked about it,” Jimin says quietly. “We’ve talked about so much, but never- never about us, and he’ll be going soon.” He sighs. “I can’t afford to care as much as I already do.”

Taehyung looks over his shoulder at Yoongi, quiet and contemplative, and Jimin follows his gaze. As if they’d called his name, Yoongi looks up from his phone with his lips pursed, eyes widening just a fraction when he notices their attention on him. “What?” he asks, wary.

His expression, the suspicion in his voice, is enough to make Jimin smile. Taehyung shakes his head, and mutters a quick, “one sec” as he takes Yoongi’s coffee to him.

“You never told me his name,” Jimin says suddenly as Taehyung’s walking back, quiet enough that only Taehyung can hear him. “I heard so much about your cousin growing up, but you never told me his name.”

Realisation dawns on Taehyung’s face, and his smile is a little surprised, a little sheepish. “I always called him hyung.”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, grinning, “you did.”

Taehyung leans against the counter, one hand remaining curled around his mug. “The two of you makes sense,” he says. “When I talked about you guys to each other...I don’t know, looking back, it makes sense.” He takes a sip of his drink, and then sighs, and his voice is much softer when he says, “and he might be leaving, but Jimin, so are we.”

Jimin pushes his hair back off his forehead, taking a heaving breath as he leans forward on the counter and mirrors Taehyung’s position.

“I don’t want us to change,” Jimin admits quietly. “I like what we have, how we have it. I don’t want to ruin that.”

Taehyung lifts his hand to brush his thumb over Jimin’s temple, then down to cup his face. “Talk to him,” Taehyung says, and there’s something about the way he says it, weighted and knowing, that has Jimin’s eyes flickering over his face, trying to read what he means. “Talk to him, Jimin-ah.”

Music and the sound of chatter fills the café, and the smell of caramel and chocolate sit light and sweet in the air. Jimin trusts Taehyung with his life, with everything and more, so if Taehyung thinks they should talk, then Jimin will try.

He pushes himself off the counter and smiles, gently and gratefully, and nods.

 

-

 

There’s an email waiting for Jimin when he gets home. He hasn’t had a chance to look at his phone all day, and there are a handful of emails waiting for him, but there’s one in particular that has his heart slamming against his ribcage, hands shaking as he unlocks his phone.

His eyes begin to blur with tears before he can even finish reading the familiar numbers of his student ID. Email still unopened, he dumps everything on the ground and runs back downstairs where Yoongi is waiting, leaning against the car as he scrolls through his phone.

Yoongi looks up when the wooden doors slam open and Jimin stumbles outside, but his expression turns from mild surprise to worry instantly.

“I need-” Jimin rasps, hands fumbling as he pulls open the car door. “I need- you need to- Taehyung.”

Yoongi drives. Fast.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t ask Jimin what’s wrong or press for answers, doesn’t even play music. He opens his window to let in some air despite the cold, glancing over at Jimin as he does, but stays otherwise silent.

Jimin leans forward, unable to look away from the email notification on his lap, head in his hands and seat belt digging into his chest. He can’t think, can’t bring himself to read any further than the subject in bold, only knows that he needs to be with Taehyung. The past twelve years of his life have led up to this moment, and he needs to see it through with his best friend.

Jimin doesn’t wait for Yoongi to finish putting the handbrake on before he’s throwing the door open, running up the steps of Taehyung’s home and almost tripping over the threshold in his haste.

Tae,” Jimin breathes, stopping at the sight of him curled up on the staircase, his phone by his feet as he wrings his hands together.

Taehyung’s head jerks up to look at him.

Anxiety and trepidation coil tight in Jimin’s stomach as he walks towards Taehyung on shaky legs, sitting on the step beside him. Yoongi closes the front door and stands quietly in the hallway, watching them. Taehyung picks his phone up from the floor.

They sit, motionless, until Yoongi speaks.

“Open them,” he says gently.

The email, titled Application Update, states that there’s an update waiting for them on the student portal, and they can log in using the links provided in the attachment below.

They’d received the results of their admissions tests last week; the scores had been listed from lowest to highest. Jimin’s first mark had been an italicised 95%. It’d been a relief to have done so well, but then he’d worked for it, dedicated over half his life to making sure he’d achieve good results. So, it’d been a relief - but not a surprise.

Unlike most students, it’s not the results Jimin’s concerned about, but the update on his university application, the one he’s too afraid to open.

“On three,” Taehyung says, thumb hovering over the login button.

“On three,” Jimin repeats, and then presses down.

The words don’t register. Taehyung starts shouting, leaping forward to pull Yoongi into a tight embrace, and Jimin rubs harshly at his eyes and tries to understand what he sees.

There’s a small paragraph, stating that Jimin has been accepted into his university of choice, and Jimin has to read it three times over to full comprehend what the words say.

It feels like Jimin has been standing on the edge of a crumbling cliff for a long time, an endless depth waiting for him below, and recently he’s been struggling to keep his footing. Suddenly, because of a few simple words, Jimin finds himself on firm ground, steadier than he’s ever known.

The emotions he’d tried to keep at bay for the past few months come crashing into him like a tidal wave; the hurt and exhaustion and weariness, the fear of not doing well, of not being enough, and now-

Now-

Jimin’s chest caves. He curls up into a tight ball on the stairs and tries to ease the aching relief, head tucked between his knees and tremors beginning to run wild throughout his body. He’s distantly aware of Taehyung whispering his name into his hair, watery and happy and sweet, and of Yoongi’s palms spread over his knees, thumbs rubbing small circles into his jeans.

It was worth it, he thinks, it was all fucking worth it.

For the first time since he was a child, Jimin lets himself cry.

 

-

 

Jimin goes about the following week with a strange sort of detachment, not quite sure what to do with himself now that he’s relatively free until the January, and unused to having so much time to spare. It’s strange, but it’s nice, and a lovely light feeling settles on his chest, in his blood, and stays.

As Christmas approaches, Mass becomes more frequent, littered throughout the week instead of Sundays alone. The sermons last longer, the choir growing somehow bigger and louder. Jimin begins to fall asleep to the sound of hymns and wake to the creaking of wooden doors and floors, like an army of angels arriving to say their own prayers before dawn.

The last Sunday before Christmas, the church hosts its first midnight Mass. Jimin can hear the high and innocent voices of the young choir stuttering through their prayer books through the floorboards.

He’s lying in bed in the dark of his room, tracing absent patterns onto the bare skin of his chest, when there’s a familiar rapping at his door. There’s only one person in the world who would come up here.

Still, when Jimin opens the door, he doesn’t expect to see Yoongi in a well-tailored suit, tie hanging loosely from his neck and the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up to his elbows. The buttons of his collar are undone, his jacket draped in the crook of his elbow, as he tucks his hands into his pockets. For the first time, Jimin can clearly see the small silver cross that hangs around Yoongi’s neck as it glints in the yellow light of the hallway.

He feels suddenly underdressed, in a pair of loose-fitting flannel trousers, messy hair and slightly swollen eyes, a mix of overwhelming tiredness and the inability to sleep.

The way they look at each other, take each other in, is so completely different to any time before.

It feels wrong to say anything, not when they can hear the priest's voice echoing around them, so Jimin steps aside and lets Yoongi in. The door falls shut behind them, and Jimin stays in place and watches Yoongi walk to the window, past the shitty electric heater, and push up the window pane.

Cold air rushes into the room, sharp against Jimin’s skin, his body immediately tensing. And then Yoongi lights up a cigarette.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” Jimin says, unable to help himself.

Yoongi hums. “Only on special occasions.” A pause, and then, “do you-?”

“No,” Jimin says quietly, “I don’t mind.”

He watches the smoke curl above Yoongi’s head in the night air, how the orange ember of the stub flickers, the only light in the pitch-black sky. Their faces are cast in shadows by the small lamp on Jimin’s bedside table, and the air between them feels heavy and holy, filled with a strange kind of melancholy.

Jimin has never been one for faith, but he finds himself reaching for the small, yellow-paged Bible in the drawer that goes unused by his bed. The spine is worn, and the ink of the words is greyed with age. He sits quietly on the bed, legs crossed, sleep still heavy on his chest and in his heart, and watches the trembling outline of Yoongi’s shoulders.

Jimin has never been one for faith, but the words fall from his mouth like a familiar prayer.

“My darling, you are lovely,” Jimin begins, and his voice is a quiet rasp, and though his eyes are focused on the page, trying to decipher the words in the poor light of his room, he can see the way Yoongi suddenly stiffens, suddenly stills. “So very lovely,” he continues, “your eyes are like those of a dove.”

The words are weighted on his tongue, and he speaks slowly, lowly. Yoongi walks towards him as if entranced, leaving his cigarette to burn out on the windows ledge, eyes wide and mouth parted. His knees push against the edge of Jimin’s mattress as Yoongi stands over him, and he presses his thumb beneath the swell of Jimin’s bottom lip, dragging the skin just slightly, the side of his knuckles against Jimin’s chin.

Jimin falters, but keeps going. There’s a line about love, many of them, but those are harder to say. Jimin skips past them, skims his fingers down the page only to turn it. If Yoongi knows what he’s passed by, he doesn’t say.

“My darling,” Jimin finally says, quiet and soft, “I am yours, and you are mine.”

Yoongi inhales shakily. Jimin can hear the stutter of his breath.

“While in bed at night,” Jimin continues, the words coming a little easier, feeling a little more true, “I reached for the one I love.”

He glances up to see Yoongi’s eyes flutter closed. Yoongi’s fingers are still pressed against his face.

“I looked for him,” Jimin says, and lifts one hand to Yoongi’s wrist, to turn his palm over and press a kiss to the swell of it, green-blue veins spread out beneath paper-thin skin. When he speaks again, his mouth drags over them. “I looked for him,” Jimin says, “but he wasn’t there.”

Like a string has been pulled, Yoongi tips forward. His hands come to rest on Jimin’s bare shoulders as Yoongi sits in the crevice of his folded legs. He presses his lips to Yoongi’s collarbone, to his jaw. The window is still open, the air is still cold.

Below them, the choir is singing.

Jimin curls one arm gently around Yoongi’s waist; he can see the redness around Yoongi’s eyes, tears that haven’t yet been shed, but are too stubborn to fall, pooling by his bottom lashes. Jimin glances at the passage, then says the words to Yoongi directly, holding his gaze.

“My darling,” Jimin says, as quiet as a confession, “you are lovely in every way.”

Yoongi kisses him. The Bible falls from Jimin’s hand.

There’s no warning, no gentleness. Yoongi opens his mouth and makes a quiet sound, not quite a moan, when Jimin licks behind his teeth, presses the warmth of their tongues together. He tastes of coffee and overly sweet communion wine, and Jimin kisses him until all that’s left is Yoongi.

Jimin presses his mouth to the shine of Yoongi’s bottom lip, grazes his teeth of the swell of it, and then bites down. He keeps his touches light, but repeats the action over and over until Yoongi is gasping his name, until the colour of his lips is stained as deep as wine and they look swollen and sore.

In the deafening silence between them, Jimin slowly pulls the pieces of Yoongi apart.

The colour of Yoongi’s skin strikes a startling contrast with the dark blue sheets of Jimin’s duvet, and the white of his unbuttoned shirt spreads at his sides like wings, the silver chain around his neck pressing down on his skin, the cross that hangs on the end lost beneath his shoulder. When Yoongi swallows, the chain shifts and glitters.

Yoongi’s tie and jacket are thrown haphazardly on the floor, and Jimin runs a hand down his chest, fingers grazing over the curve of his abdomen as Yoongi seems to hold his breath. The yellow light paints his body gold, and Jimin is reminded of an early autumn afternoon, the halo of light that had shone like a crown on Yoongi’s head.

“Jimin-” Yoongi breathes, blindly reaching for the hand Jimin has on his body when Jimin’s been staring for too long, eyes selfishly taking him in. “Jimin.”

There are scattered prayers still floating up through the hallowed walls, and the murmur of the priest is comforting and blessing all those who ask. Jimin attends his own confession at the altar of Yoongi’s body, seeks redemption as he kneels between Yoongi’s thighs. His fingers move over Yoongi's body like piano keys, grazing the valleys of his bones and his muscles, playing a soft symphony against his skin and returning to the places that make Yoongi sing, over and over until his panting mouth falls open in a long, soundless moan. He feels the fine hairs of Yoongi's skin beneath his hands, drags his nails just hard enough that they leave soft pink trails in their wake. He works from Yoongi's chest down to his stomach, down to his thighs and then-

Jimin opens Yoongi up slowly, gently, their tangled fingers pressed against Yoongi’s waist, grounding them both. Yoongi has his eyes closed, head thrown back as his hips jerk in stuttered movements, and his chest is heaving but even with his lips parted, he hardly makes a sound. Jimin begins to trail kisses up his chest, his tongue warm and wet against Yoongi’s skin, lingering each time. He thinks maybe he can feel Yoongi’s heartbeat against his mouth.

He adjusts the angle of his finger as he rolls the fine skin of Yoongi’s collarbone between his teeth, presses his lips against it until the shadowed line created by the lamp is littered with lilac and rose bruises. One of Yoongi’s hands curls warm around Jimin’s shoulder, the other tangles in Jimin’s hair, and he guides Jimin’s mouth back to his. Yoongi’s lips are achingly soft, pliant and slow. They kiss like they have all the time in the world, a heat between them that makes it feel like they have none. 

There's something about kissing Yoongi, being kissed by him, that manages to drive Jimin wild. Yoongi opens his mouth so easily, lets Jimin into him so readily, Jimin almost can't breathe with how wanted Yoongi makes him feel. Their kisses melt together, heady and sweet, and their tongues brush, and despite how desperate they are for more they kiss each other slowly, deeply, in a way that makes Jimin think they could come from kissing alone. 

Yoongi tilts his face away to catch his breath, and Jimin lets his mouth fall to the curve of Yoongi’s cheek, the hinge of his jaw. There are no words Jimin can say, there’s nothing quite right that comes to mind, but then,

“I am yours,” he murmurs from memory, “and you are mine.”

Yoongi’s eyes crinkle as he forces them closed, but Jimin doesn’t miss the shining trail that falls from the thick line of his lashes to the sheets of Jimin’s bed.

“Yoongi,” Jimin says, Yoongi’s name falling from his mouth as easily as a breath, “Yoongi, sweetheart, let me- just let me-”

Yoongi’s lower lip quivers; Jimin presses a hard kiss against it. His body, which had seemed to vibrate with something restless, something electric beneath his skin and in his blood, seems to suddenly calm when Jimin finally pushes into him.

For a moment, they’re both still. Yoongi’s eyes remain closed, his lips caught between his teeth, and Jimin’s forehead presses against Yoongi’s temple, mouth by his ear. His breath comes out in soft, shallow pants. 

And then Yoongi shifts and sighs, only it sounds more like a moan. He still hasn't said a word, and Jimin hates it, wants to hear Yoongi sigh and gasp and say his name. He just wants Yoongi to say his name. Jimin pulls away just enough that he can cast his eyes over Yoongi's face and watch his expression change when Jimin moves, when he speaks, when he calls Yoongi his. The skin of Yoongi's lip is almost pale with how hard he's biting into it, and Jimin dips down to kiss the pink swell, to flick his tongue over the dampness of Yoongi's mouth. The fine veins and vessels of his eyelids are connected like flowing streams, electric blue and vivid violet. He's stunning, like a masterpiece carved from marble and brought to life with a kiss, with the promise of love. 

“You called me beautiful,” Jimin whispers, rolling his hips just slightly, feeling Yoongi’s chest heave, rise in a small arc to press against Jimin’s own. “You were- wrong, fuck, Yoongi, you were so wrong.”

Yoongi’s eyes snap open, and his gaze finds Jimin’s immediately. His expression has melted into something uncertain, something more hesitant than Jimin has ever seen. 

“You said sometimes,” Jimin says, slowly and between soft movements, “sometimes- you don’t- ah, you don’t think I’m real.” He sets a pace, firm but gentle, and uses his free hand to grip the sheets by Yoongi’s head and steady himself, to not lose himself in the way that Yoongi clenches around him, in the way that Yoongi stutters his name. He breathes his next words, mumbled and sweet, against Yoongi’s parted mouth. “You’re a fucking miracle, Yoongi- darling- mine.

Yoongi’s hands cup Jimin’s neck, and he gasps, and it’s like whatever had been holding him together suddenly falls apart. He chases Jimin’s lips with his own in something torn between desperation and lust, begins to move his body and meet every one of Jimin's thrusts with a roll of his hips, tightening his thighs around Jimin’s waist. 

“Jimin-” Yoongi says against the corner of Jimin’s mouth, fingers catching on the short strands of hair at the nape of Jimin’s neck, “baby- you’re so good to me.” Unable to keep kissing Jimin, he lets Jimin kiss him. Lets Jimin's tongue trace over his lips and lick into his mouth, his whole body responding to each one of Jimin's touches, each shaky exhale Jimin breathes against his skin. “Jimin,” he says, “you’re so-”

There’s wanting in Yoongi, and Jimin is ready to give him everything, anything he asks for.

Suddenly, Jimin wants everyone in the church to hear them. To hear how they fuck, how their mingled moans and hitched breaths get trapped between meeting mouths, the slap of their skin when Jimin picks up the pace only to slow back down. To hear how Yoongi whimpers and gasps and breathes Jimin’s name like it’s the most important prayer, the only prayer, that matters.

They’re above the altar, closer to God than anyone else below them, and Jimin wants to ask Him, wants to ask that if love is the purest thing in the universe, if this makes them godly.

The bed creaks as it presses lightly back into the wall, and Jimin lifts his hand from Yoongi’s waist and presses it against the curve of his jaw instead. He tilts Yoongi’s head up, just enough to see the strain of his tendon, and kisses him until Yoongi can’t breathe. He wants Yoongi to taste him, wants to taste himself on Yoongi

Oh-” Yoongi whispers, eyes closed and a light sheen of sweat on the high of his cheeks, on the curved edges of his temples, “oh god.”

Jimin prays, for the first time in years, that everyone will hear them and feel ashamed that they’ll never know God like Jimin does, in the moments between Yoongi’s gasps and moans, in the heat between his thighs, the way he clenches around Jimin and holds him close.

There’s a whole universe between them, Jimin thinks again, a supernova expanding until it bursts.

“Jimin,” Yoongi says, blindly seeking Jimin’s mouth, using his hands to guide Jimin towards him, “I- I-

Jimin kisses Yoongi’s lips, his cheek, the corner of his eye, and presses his thumb over a blooming bruise below Yoongi’s jaw as he pulls out. “Just a moment,” he soothes, his own mouth falling open at the loss of Yoongi’s warmth. “I promise, just a moment.”

Yoongi swallows audibly, and moves his hands down to Jimin’s shoulders, nails digging into Jimin’s skin. His eyes are half-lidded, cherry-red mouth parted as he nods. The sound he makes is just short of a sigh as Jimin moves down his body. Down, down, down until Jimin’s mouth is hovering over the length of Yoongi’s dick.

There’s a long pause. Every part of Yoongi is strained, desperate and waiting, and Jimin thinks of God and thinks that God can’t have any power, not really, not if Jimin’s the only one who can make Yoongi look like this, can have Yoongi like this.

Then again, maybe there’s more than one God in this church tonight; one of them trembles beneath Jimin’s palms.

Yoongi is beautiful, and though warmth pools heavy in Jimin’s abdomen, desperate to hear and see Yoongi come - to see how his eyelashes will flutter and his cheeks and chest will flush pink, the way his mouth will fall open and his thighs will tremble - Jimin can’t help but take his time.

Yoongi deserves to be adored, body and soul.

Jimin’s hands press down firmly on Yoongi’s waist, and he drags his mouth over Yoongi’s body, leaves a trail of marks so vivid they’ll last for days, wanting Yoongi to walk out of church with a graveyard of his kisses, an imprint of belonging on his skin.

When Jimin takes Yoongi into his mouth, the only thing he can think is holy, holy, holy, and all it takes is the warm press of his lips, the wet heat of his tongue and slight drag of his mouth as he bobs his head, and Yoongi’s chest rises, breath hitching, the hands that had fallen from Jimin’s shoulders to his sides clenching in the sheets.

Jimin is still hard, but he’s too entranced by the sight of Yoongi in front of him, too caught in the pink blush on his skin and the violent array of flowers pressed over his bones, like offerings gifted in temples in the early spring, to care.

Baby,” Yoongi breathes out, eyelashes fluttering as he opens his eyes, “Jimin- baby, come here.”

He reaches out to cup Jimin’s face, holds it between his hands and kisses him, kisses Jimin breathless as Jimin fucks himself against Yoongi’s thigh. It's dizzying to feel each of Yoongi's hitched breaths and mumbled whimpers against his mouth, sensitive and sore but still keeping Jimin against him, still wanting Jimin close. And when he comes, Yoongi swallows every swear, every gasp, every stuttered whisper of Yoongi’s name that Jimin has trapped beneath his tongue.

Jimin tucks his face into the crook of Yoongi’s neck, hands hooked beneath Yoongi’s arms as he hovers over his body, trembling. He presses his nose into the dip behind Yoongi’s ear and breathes him in, the lingering scene of his once-heavy cologne masked beneath spicy incense.

Yoongi tilts his head so that his lips brush over the sensitive skin of Jimin’s ear. “My darling,” he whispers, still breathless, “I am yours.” His nose presses into Jimin’s hair, his thumbs soothing Jimin’s skin, and finishes, “set me a seal upon your heart.”

The supernova explodes.

Jimin is exhausted, his body shakes with it, but his heart is bursting with something impossible, swelling with something terrifying and incomprehensible and like nothing he’s ever felt before.

It feels like-

It feels like-

 

-

 

There’s this: their bodies gravitating towards each other, warm beneath the sunlight, the flutter of Yoongi’s eyelashes on Jimin’s cheek. There’s them: the taste of Yoongi’s mouth, the curve of his lips carved against Jimin’s jaw.

Their touches become tender, as if they’re unable to help themselves, weighted with devotion. It would scare Jimin, how easily he gives himself away, if not for how easily Yoongi gives himself back.

There’s no doubt in the curves of Yoongi’s smiles, sweet and secretive and for Jimin alone, or the way he’ll weave his arm around Jimin’s waist and hold him close, let Jimin breathe in the sandalwood of his favourite cologne.

When the time comes for Jimin to move to the city after breaking in the New Year together, Yoongi sits beside him on the train, their hands intertwined on his lap, and kisses the back of Jimin’s knuckles over and over until Jimin’s grin turns into laughter. The scenery is a blur outside the window, the faint murmur of early travellers seated further down, and Jimin turns his face and kisses Yoongi, soft and gentle and slow.

It takes a while for reality to sink in. Taehyung is on holiday in Japan and won’t be back till the end of the month, so Jimin takes his time to learn the alleys and streets of the city he’ll learn to call home, the beat and rhythm of the crowds and the sound of the underground.

It takes a while, but he grows accustomed to the smell of sewage after heavy rain, and the sight of smoke and pollution that settle into the skyline like a heavy fog. The lights are sometimes too bright, sometimes not enough, but he seeks them out like starlight and begins to find comfort in the everglow.

“Come here,” Yoongi will say, fond and patient, each time Jimin gets caught in the rush of it all, standing on street corners and busy roads, hands reaching out. “Come here, baby,” he’ll say, sweet and soft, “kiss me here, too.”

Jimin learns the city as a map of Yoongi’s veins, landmarks of his laughter and his smiles. There’s a small take-out hidden in the city where they slurp noodles covered in rich sauce, and a stall in the business district where Jimin has the best street food he’s ever tasted and Yoongi eats more of Jimin’s food than he does his own.

One day, they go to a party. This time, when Jimin meets Yoongi’s friends, they feel a little like his, too. Hoseok and Jin make it their duty to introduce Jimin to people they like, and Jimin drinks and smiles and feels a little more of himself settle into place.

He catches sight of Yoongi a little while after he’d been pulled away, standing with Namjoon in the hallway, drink half-raised to his lips. He catches sight of Yoongi, and Yoongi is already looking back.

There’s a boy from the city.

His shoulders shake when he laughs, and his fingers are always fiddling with something: his phone, the loose threads of his clothes, the rosary ring on his finger that replaces the beads he used to carry around. His dark hair falls in soft waves and his eyes, dark and slanted, carry a cosmos of shimmering stars.

There’s a boy from the city, in the city. His body is a cathedral and Jimin’s heart is stored at the altar of it, hidden behind the golden cage of his ribs. Sacred. Safe.

The street is dark and the city is silent, more so than Jimin has ever heard it. They’re walking back to his apartment, hands linked loosely between them, and Yoongi is lost in thought and Jimin is lost in him. Overcome, Jimin’s steps falter, and Yoongi stops beside him.

“Jimin?” Yoongi asks. The light from the street lamp overhead casts a halo around his hair.

“Hey,” Jimin says quietly, turning to look at him, pulling his hand out of Yoongi’s hold. “Hey,” he says again, and his mouth twitches, fingers curling gently around Yoongi’s neck. “Kiss me?” 

Yoongi moves forward, hands circling Jimin’s wrists even as he teases, “here, too?”

Jimin nods. “Here, too.”

He hums when their lips meet, gentle and tender. Usually, they keep their kisses short and sweet; this time Jimin lingers, keeps Yoongi close. Slowly, Yoongi’s smile fades as his bottom lip gets caught between Jimin’s teeth.

“What was that for?” Yoongi asks, breathless, cheeks flushed when they part. He brushes a thumb over the delicate skin beneath Jimin’s eye, the tip of his nail catching on Jimin’s bottom lashes.

He’s beautiful. He’s so beautiful, sometimes Jimin feels his heart ache with it.

“You know,” Jimin says quietly, tipping his head forward until their foreheads touch, until all he can see and feel is Yoongi. Until all Yoongi can see and feel is him. “You’ve got to. You’ve got to know how much you matter to me.”

Yoongi’s eyes widen slightly, mouth parting.

This beautiful boy, and Jimin had tried to pretend that he’d never mean anything to Jimin at all.

Someone walks past them, footsteps heavy, and Yoongi walks Jimin backwards till he’s pressed against the cold stone wall of a closed store. Jimin smiles up at him, bright and light and heart singing. They’re in the middle of a city of nearly ten million people. They’re the only two people in the world.

His eyes wander over Yoongi’s features, the small freckle on his cheek and the thick curves of his lashes, the redness at the tip of his nose and his eyes, full of surprise and kindness and-

“You’re this whole universe, Min Yoongi,” Jimin says, gently, sweetly, thumbs brushing lightly over Yoongi’s skin. He would whisper the words against Yoongi’s heart if he could. “You’re the sun and stars- the whole night sky. All of it.”

Yoongi’s eyelashes flutter, lip curling upwards. “Jimin,” he says, soft and wondrous. “Park Jimin.”

His name rolls off Yoongi’s tongue so easily, the sound of it so familiar, like holy walls and carved wooden pews, like kisses in coloured light, carrying patience and affection and something that sounds like-

That sounds like-

That sounds like he carries Jimin’s name on his tongue the same way he’d carry love.

The idea doesn’t seem as absurd as it might have a few months ago.

“Baby,” Yoongi breathes softly, “you and your gorgeous heart. There’s a supernova living in your soul.”

There’s no doubt. At his words, there’s no doubt, that Yoongi is Jimin’s and Jimin’s is his. Wholly and completely, forevermore. Jimin can’t help the breathless laughter that escapes his lips, closing his eyes as he presses his nose against Yoongi’s cheek, blindly seeking Yoongi’s mouth with his own.

Jimin feels his heart stutter, feels it swell.

“Darling,” Jimin says against the corner of Yoongi’s lips, “sweetheart.” With a shaky exhale and a wide smile, he pulls away, and lets Yoongi pull him back into the light of the street lamp. This time, they’re both painted orange-gold. “Mine.”

Later, much later, they’re in Jimin’s bedroom and the windows are open, the noise of the city floating in like a hymn. Yoongi is asleep on the bed, covers wrapped around him and the bare skin of his back exposed, and Jimin lies down next to him, happy and content in a way he’s never been before. Settled, into the city and into his skin and into this, in ways he never imagined he could be.

Beneath the silver moonlight, in the darkness of his apartment, Jimin reaches for the one he loves.

 

-

 

There’s a temple in Istanbul that has windows on all four walls, so that every hour of the day that the sun is shining, the building is filled with light. Jimin is a glass house in the middle of the desert, and Yoongi fills him with something radiant, glittering and gold.

There’s the warmth of Yoongi’s skin, his hands and his body and his mouth, and of his soul. Yoongi is a bright and burning star and Jimin has painted himself a night sky just to hold him, just to keep him close.

Jimin has belonged to Yoongi since the moment they met, belonged to Yoongi in heart and mind, body and soul. When they touch, it’s like every prayer Jimin has asked for is tangled in the gasps and whispers trapped beneath Yoongi’s tongue. With Yoongi, the nights become warmer, the hours become softer and the world seems to still, seems to slow, and somehow it feels like all of Jimin has just been waiting for Yoongi to come to him, to shine light through the kaleidoscope of Jimin’s soul and paint them both in vivid colour.

It feels like forever is trapped in the cave of their joined hands, in the lines of Yoongi’s laughter and the sweet crinkle of his eyes.

It feels like love.

 

 

 

-his kisses falling over me like stars