This week holds a new and interesting challenge ahead, Libra. Just as the sun continuously heralds the rising day, so has the work season come around again. You will be given more responsibility than before, and the pressure will weigh on you, so take the time for little acts of self-love whenever you get them. Difficulties might arise between ethics and romantic interests. Steer out of the path of temptation and find an honest path to your goals.
"Difficulties between my ethics and romantic interests," Jimin murmured over the rim of his tea, his brow furrowed. He clicked back to last week's horoscope and read through the description, before sitting back and staring outside the window of the coffee shop.
The gentle drizzle of the afternoon pooled along the sidewalk and streets, drawing the occasional splash as passersby hastened to escape the rain. A dog walker was attempting to frogmarch a round terrier on the other side of the road while tugging the hood of her rain coat further over her face. Several students were sprinting toward the shop, shrieking with laughter as the rain soaked their clothes and backpacks. Jimin watched them crowd through the doorway, shoes squeaking wetly on the floor, his mind drifting.
He'd have to check his own charts later, but astroglosswas usually spot on with their readings for libra. His go-to astrology account on twitter had been one of the reasons Jimin himself had begun to delve into the practice, when he'd been mulling his way through freshman year with little purpose or direction in mind for his studies.
Ethics? Did that refer to his studies? Jimin had always excelled in most subjects, especially math and science--he'd never really had to face an "ethical dilemma" to pass any of his classes. Or did that reading refer to his work at the university newspaper? His ongoing article was tailored around sustainable projects on campus, specifically the recycling and composting efforts of the forestry club. Perhaps he was about to discover a hidden darkness in the club. Maybe the president littered on the weekends for the thrill of it.
But the reading had said difficulties between his ethics and romantic interests.
Jimin sighed and took another bite from his sandwich. At the moment, all he hadwere his ethics--not a romantic prospect in sight. Maybe that was cause for hope then--he'd finally have a guy to feel conflicted over.
A bag wrapped around the chair across from him, before Taehyung dropped into the seat and propped his chin on the table. He'd been caught in the rain—his dark blonde hair slicked away from his face, a few stray droplets slipping from his hairline and down his temples, the fabric of his shirt sodden around his shoulders.
"Morning," he grumbled. Ah. So he hadn't done well on his chemistry final after all.
"Did you order yet?" Jimin dug through his bag for the hand towel he sometimes carried with his makeup. Taehyung took the small towel gratefully and mopped his face and neck.
"Mmm." He turned his cheek and eyed the counter with lazy hunger, before nodding at the charts spread out in front of Jimin's laptop. "Working on this week's readings?"
"Mostly. I'm also finishing that essay for physics." Jimin shuffled the papers around until he found the star charts he'd drawn up for Capricorn. He scanned it again to refresh his memory, before saying, "You're focused too intently on your goals and forgetting to give due time to your surroundings and loved ones. Set aside a piece of each day to appreciate the ones who understand your creative expression wholeheartedly and reward them for their care and loyalty."
Taehyung glanced up from his phone and grinned across the table, ruffling the towel through his hair. "If you wanted to hang out this weekend, you could just say so, Jiminie."
"No hot date with Yoongi hyung, then?"
His expression fell almost immediately. "His thesis proposal is due next week. He's been practically living on the couch in his studio for the past month. I haven't had more than thirty minutes at a time with hyung in so long."
"Thirty minutes, huh," Jimin echoed before closing his eyes when Taehyung mimed a blowjob with his fist and cheek. It was too early in the day to be in this much agony. "Jesus, Tae. I like this coffee shop. Don't get me kicked out of this coffee shop."
"Are you kidding, Jungkook loves me," he scoffed, before fluttering his fingers at the freshman barista sliding a smoothie across the counter. Jungkook glanced at his manager before flipping him the bird and pointing at his phone. "Oh, right. I forgot to upload the latest upgrades last night. He might kick us out, but just for today."
"Kindly, fuck you."
"It's Leo season, aren't you supposed to be staying calm and practicing self-love? You sound a little frustrated, Jimin." Taehyung snickered before dodging the kick Jimin aimed under the table. He got up from the table and strolled over to the counter to pick up his smoothie, pausing to talk Jungkook down from the vengeful way he was funneling boiling steam into a latte.
Jimin watched them for a moment before quietly peaking at the reading for Virgo that week, frowning. You need to confront your darker temptations instead of hiding from them from the forefront of your mind and examine why you desire them. His pencil bounced against his lower lip as he speculated. What dark temptations are you fighting, Jungkookie?
"What happened to that guy you were dating? The one that took you to see the reboot of the Shining," Taehyung said as he sat back down at the table with his lunch. He'd picked the spicy tuna and kimchi roll with a cookie on the side, his pick-me-up special of choice.
"Axed." Jimin took a second to grin at his own joke, before adding, "we just didn't click. Liked to talk about himself and hockey a little too much. The sex was just all right." He sighed moodily, stroking his fingers along the side of his mug. The guy had tried to not so subtly ask if Jimin would be into wearing shoulder pads while they fucked, and that's just not something you ask on the third date.
"Your standards are too high." Taehyung slurped loudly from his straw, pastel green sludge from his kiwi fusion smoothie rocketing up the tube. He held Jimin's gaze with a knowing look. "If you're never gonna ask him out, you should at least purge the crush."
As someone that had dated actual models in the past and was currently attached to a senior photography student with the most delicate facial features Jimin had ever seen, Taehyung didn't have a lot of room to talk about high standards. But Jimin allowed him half the point.
He'd had lots of casual boyfriends over his university days, some for several weeks, even months at a time, but he'd always carried a small torch in the back of his mind for one person in particular. Someone he'd spoken to only a handful of times in between articles for the newspaper and the occasional passing in the hallway. Someone with a loud laugh, kind eyes, and the broadest, thickest shoulders Jimin had ever seen.
"Who says I'm not going to ask him out? Maybe I'm waiting for the right moment." Jimin hedged, casually closing his twitter browser before Taehyung had the chance to look.
"If there wasn't a "right moment" in three years, there's not going to be," Taehyung said, to the point but not unkindly. "Just do it, and then you'll have an answer, one way or the other."
"No. It has to be subtler than that. He's a Sagittarius, I have to get to know him first, test the waters. He has to fall for me first, has to show the initiative so that he feels he's maintaining his autonomy. Independence is a deeply-rooted motivator for his sign."
Taehyung blinked slowly, skepticism so thick it coated his eyelashes like mascara.
Jimin held the front for a full minute before he caved. "The last time I tried to talk to him, he had a smear of chocolate on his cheek that he kept trying to lick off with his tongue. It was so stupidly endearing and hot I almost died on the spot."
"You've got it real bad."
"I know." Jimin dropped his head down onto his notebook and wrestled with the memory of that day, burning with mortification at how awkward he'd been. "He's been visiting the clubroom more often lately to talk about this month's focus on student initiative."
"There's your chance, then," Taehyung said in between bites of his tuna roll. "He graduates this year, Jimin. You've got nine months left in the same convenient bubble to be close to him before you're inevitably separated by the harsh reality of adulthood, the job market and the rising cost of living in this capitalist dystopia."
Jimin held his friend's gaze for a long moment before reaching across the table and held his hand in sympathy. "You really miss him, huh."
"I'm developing callouses on my palms, Jimin. I'm practically ambidextrous at this point."
Jimin stared at their clasped hands for a moment, before he quietly stood up and walked to the bathroom to wash his hands.
Three days later, when he was staring at the template for the next weekly edition of their online newspaper, Jimin understood.
He'd been discussing his articles with their newspaper editor, crowded around Hoseok's computer as they clicked through the photographs Taehyung had taken of the multi-colored bins for organized recycling outside the mess hall and a couple from the tree planting event the forestry club had invited him to on the fly, when a familiar shout comes from the doorway.
"Hoseok ah, are you here?"
"Hyung! You're early!" Hoseok spun around in his chair and waved, beaming from ear to ear. He'd had a meeting with their advisor that day so he'd dressed up in a button-down blue shirt and black dress pants rather than his customary tank top and basketball shorts. He'd kept his sunshine yellow headband though, to keep from shoving the chocolatey curls from his eyes.
Jimin's heart leapt out of his chest. He slipped his hands under his legs, his thumb brushing nervously over his rings, before he finally looked up as the footsteps stopped outside their huddle at the desk.
Kim Seokjin draped himself over the back of Hoseok's chair in greeting, swaying from side to side with his arms wrapped around the other boy's neck. He'd dressed casually that day, in a white shirt with a red flannel thrown on top, ripped jeans and sneakers. Jimin stared into the shadows of the gaping hole riding high on Seokjin's thigh and thought he could feel his bones liquefying.
"Hoseok, working past the clock, so dedicated," Seokjin crowed, petting the top of Hoseok's head. The editor seemed caught between feeling annoyed and pleased at the attention. "I hate to pull you away from your work, but it's almost six. We're meeting Namjoon for dinner, remember?"
"Oh, right." Hoseok turned around and started quickly saving all the files open on his computer. "Jiminie, we'll finish this tomorrow, yeah? You can decide which photos are best, it's your article. Just get the format figured out and send it to me for approval."
"Jimin ah! I didn't see you there!" Seokjin released his chokehold on Hoseok's neck and straightened, smiling. "How's the article coming?"
"It's going well, hyung." Jimin replied quickly. He ducked his head a bit, taking a fortifying breath, before squaring his shoulders. "Actually, I'd love to have your perspective on the joint sustainability efforts being made by the students and the university. If you have the time this week, I mean."
"Yes. As the student body president. I think a lot of students would be really interested to hear what you have to say," Jimin continued earnestly, before adding quietly, "I know I am."
"Really?" Seokjin brushed the dark fringe of his hair out of his eyes, his pretty lips forming a little, thoughtful 'o.' "Sure, I can do that."
Jimin squeezed the side of the chair and held back an ecstatic smile. "Great! Just, uh. Drop by the club anytime in the afternoon, I'm usually here. Or we can set a time and date if that’d be easier."
"Okay," he answered with a thumbs-up. "Oh, Jimin, before you go, what's the reading for next week?"
Jimin froze. "The reading? You mean.... the horoscope?"
Hoseok snorted as he got to his feet and began packing his notebooks into his bag. "Hyung's one of your most loyal followers, Jiminie. He checks his horoscope every Monday when it first comes out." He yelped at the flick Seokjin landed in the middle of his back before pouting. "What, it's true. Not my fault you're embarrassing."
"Ignore him," Seokjin said firmly before waving an expectant hand.
"Well, I'd need to grab my notes for specifics, but Sagittarius had a positive outlook, I think. Keep yourself open to new possibilities, focus on building closer relationships with the people around you."
"Good, good. I'll check the full reading next week, but thanks, Jimin ah!" He blew Jimin a quick kiss before dragging a sulking Hoseok from the office.
In the now empty clubroom, he reached up and caught the kiss before it could fly away to some other hopeless idiot with a crush and made his way back to his little desk, face aflame. Seokjin read his horoscopes. Kim Seokjin, senior president, business and food industry major, read Jimin's horoscopes.Hyung's one of your most loyal followers.
He tried to contain the burst of happy, raucous, exhilaratingfeeling in his chest, as if he'd swallowed a batch of fireworks, before Jimin muffled his giggling into the pillow on his chair and kicked his feet on the floor. After he'd worked through the initial unmitigated joy, an idea crept into Jimin's mind.
Your day will be as full as ever, Sagittarius! Activity, be it work or play, will have you on your feet running from one adventure to the next. While you enjoy the vibe, this will inevitably wear you down. Take time to have a little treat or a cup of coffee with a friend! The warm colors of autumn will bring you good luck!
Jimin hazarded a glance away from the door, long enough to shoot Taehyung a look.
"'The colors of autumn will bring you good luck?' What does that mean?" His friend asked, his chin propped on his palm. He'd spread his notes and textbook over the narrow table after he'd arrived at the cafe, though he seemed to be using his notebook more like a napkin than to take notes. His phone in hand, he paused in his scrolling and turned the screen his way, the familiar mobile site for their newspaper revealed beneath the cracked glass.
Jimin turned back to the front door, staring out of the windows and examining every passerby. He fought to keep his face as casual as possible. "Exactly how it sounds. Why are you reading the horoscope for Sagittarius?"
"I like to read them all, not just mine. Sometimes I'll drop cryptic texts in the group chat to freak out Hoseok hyung." Taehyung leaned across his textbook, sleepy gaze boring into the side of Jimin's face. "You've never mentioned anything about colors in your horoscopes before. I thought you steered clear from saying things like that."
"Good luck is mostly determined by keeping a positive outlook on coincidental occurrences, there's nothing wrong with putting an optimistic suggestion in my readers' minds," Jimin argued back, though it tasted a little hollow in his mouth. He tugged the turtleneck of his sweater nervously, making sure the edge was smooth and wrinkle free.
"Hmm." Taehyung mulled that over as he drank from his mug, staring. "You know. Some would describe your outfit as having the 'warm colors of autumn.'"
His heart skipped a beat, before he slowly turned to face Taehyung, finally giving him his undivided attention. "Oh? I hadn't noticed."
"The brown sweater. The burnt orange corduroys. Gold earrings. You even brought your leather canvas bag today instead of your backpack."
"Huh. What a positive coincidence."
They held each other's gaze long enough that Jimin's cheeks began to burn, before Taehyung finally released him with a smirk hidden in the corner of his mouth. "How kind of you, Jiminie, to bring good luck to any Sagittarius that crosses your path."
Jimin picked up one of the rice snacks they'd been slowly demolishing and shoved it against Taehyung's lips. "Just shut up and study before you fail the class instead of an exam."
"You're not helping much. You said you'd walk me through oxidation-reduction reactions, but you've spent the past hour nodding to everything I say and staring at the door to the cafe." A pout formed on his lips, but he ate the rice snack without resistance. "Who's coming?"
"No one. I'm not--" Jimin paused before he sighed. "I thought someone might come, but it was a long shot."
"Is that someone a certain student body president who happens to be born in early December?" Taehyung dropped his pen and let his arm fall onto the table, shaking his head. "Is that what this is?" His fingers dipped into the baggy sleeve of Jimin's sweater.
"No," He denied quickly, but Jimin could tell the jig was up. "Maybe. Fine, yes. I just thought that if I ran into Seokjin hyung on campus, he'd--he'd have a reason to feel happy about seeing me."
"He should already feel happy to see you. You're Jimin," Taehyung said matter-of-factly. Touched, Jimin flipped his hand over and knitted their fingers together. "And this plan is weak as shit."
"It's better than you realize," he mumbled, sending an email to Hoseok with his free hand as he kept an eye on the door. "You should remember from your psychology course last year. Suggestion and subliminal messaging can be powerful subconscious motivators."
Taehyung slumped onto the table, groaning with his nose in the crease of his textbook. "So your plan is to send subliminal messages until his brain thinks you're the one? How exactly is that going to work?"
Jimin bit his lip and fiddled with the edge of his laptop sheepishly. "Well. I found out he reads my horoscope column."
His own horoscope from earlier that week was starting to hold more water than he'd realized at the time. Difficulties might arise between ethics and romantic interests. Was it dishonest to use his own horoscope column to subtly flirt with his crush? Maybe. Every other aspect of his readings were his honest interpretations from star charts and hours of dedicated research for the twelve different houses. He poured as much integrity and dedication into his horoscope column as he did into his coursework, topical articles and editing duties.
Every now and then, he embellished the more dry articles with stylistic language or interesting anecdotes--surely adding a little extra to a sign here and there wasn't too different? Admittedly his motivations were more selfish this time, but ultimately harmless.
"Jimin. We've been best friends for three long, tireless years. I watched you get through your fuckboy freshman phase. One fateful, hazy, fucked-up night, I watched you convince not one, not two, but threeguys to pile into a bedroom together just twenty minutes after arriving at the party." His cheek pressed to the page, Taehyung stared up at him with mild incredulity. "Why is this so difficult?"
"That was different."
"You know how," Jimin mumbled, scrunching in on himself a bit.
A couple moments of silence passed before Taehyung sat up and sighed. "Fine. How are you going to give him good luck if you're sitting here in a cafe? Shouldn't you be stalking the student union building or something?"
Jimin had considered it but went with something subtler. "It doesn't have to be that obvious."
"It literally needs to be that obvious at this point," Taehyung countered, more to make the point than because he actually believed Jimin would agree.
"I had Mijoo noona put a coupon advertisement close to the horoscope column when she designed the format for the fourth spread," he added casually, sipping from the straw of his iced coffee. The sweater was admittedly a little too hot for August, but Jimin had been raised to follow through with his convictions and this was the best he had on such short notice.
"An advertisement?" It took a second for Taehyung to get it, but the dawning realization on his face was priceless. "For this cafe."
Jimin gave a modest shrug, shooting another glance at the door.
"I'm impressed and a little scared."
He shot Taehyung a concerned look. "Don't fall in love with me. I know that's your type."
Grinning, his best friend and platonic soulmate of four years took another swig from his drink before wiping the condensation clinging to his fingers onto his notebook. "You know at any point in time, I'm always a little in love with you. The way I am around babies and dogs," he said, letting the little crumpled straw wrapper Jimin flicked bounce off his chin. "So you've got a plan at least--finally. Still seems needlessly complicated but...."
He trailed off as Jungkook appeared at the edge of their table, dragging a chair behind him. He spun the chair around with a quick twist of his wrist and dropped down into the seat, his arms wrapped around the backing. Jungkook reached over and stole a chip from Taehyung's plate before glancing between the two of them.
"Hey, hyungs," he quipped, propping his chin on his forearms. He'd worn short sleeves that day, ripped biceps and veiny forearms bare to the world.
"Studying," Jimin replied curtly, shoving his chair back so he could see the door around Jungkook’s needlessly bulky back.
"What's with him?"
Taehyung breathed in sharply, hastily looking away from the silver bracelet dangling from Jungkook’s wrist and clearing his throat. "Diabolical plan in progress, subliminal dick trapping."
"The fuck is that," he asked, his voice hushed and alarmed, as an involuntary grin replaced Jimin's furrowed brow and focused stare.
"You'll understand one day, when you're older."
If they hadn't been in public and at the cafe where Jeongguk worked, this kind of comment would've sparked a dash and chase across the room, rugby tackles and pandemonium. As it was, Jungkook jerked the bag of chips to his side completely, shoving a handful pointedly into his mouth. After a couple moments of mutinous crunching, Jungkook started talking about Overwatch and their latest dive into the new Busan area, leaning a little closer to Taehyung as they began discussing equipment and secret hotspots for items.
On a normal day, Jimin would be watching this exchange much more closely. There was something growing between Taehyung and Jungkook, nebulous and hesitant, perhaps the most tentative flirting Jimin had ever witnessed. In fact, it was so difficult to distinguish where the line was being drawn that Jimin couldn't be sure he was seeing anything at all. Taehyung was naturally a tactile person, easygoing and affectionate with his friends, and yet Jimin suspected he'd been making an extra effort to remain a little aloof with Jungkook. Bumping shoulders where he'd usually sling his arm around a friend's shoulder, maintaining a careful space, scant inches between them when they sat in the same booth or walked side-by-side to class. It had reminded Jimin of an earlier time, back when they were freshmen, when Taehyung had been harboring a crush on a senior he'd never quite had the nerve to ask out. Rare in this day and age, when his friend had grown into his looks and style and confidence, and telling.
And Jungkook. Oh, sweet, obvious Jungkook. Jimin had spotted that development a mile away, even more so once they'd become better friends and he'd watched the kid shoot shy glances at them from over the counter, the attentive almost perfectionist way he would make Taehyung's drinks and lunch when he was on rotation.
As he caught Jungkook’s furtive glance at Taehyung's mouth and the fidgeting of his knees beneath the table, Jimin thought about last week's horoscope and wondered if the kid had come to any conclusions about his "darker temptations."
Momentarily distracted, Jimin almost missed the sound of the bell hanging on the front door ringing merrily over the buzz in the cafe. Another cluster of students shuffled in, three young men toting backpacks and fanning their faces with their hands. Jimin could see thick brown curls straining against a yellow headband, a blindingly orange tank top, and slender arms gesticulating wildly in the cramped space between the tables. Hoseok. Next to him, a tall, lanky boy with blonde hair and pair of glasses perched on his nose dodged around him, sharing an exasperated but fond look with--
Jimin jumped so hard in his seat that his knees slammed into the frame and nearly spilled their laptops, notebooks, and drinks into Taehyung’s bewildered lap. “Oh shit, it’s him. It worked, it really worked. He’s here, oh my god.”
“Seriously?” Taehyung’s jaw dropped, and he craned his neck to look over the edge of the book.
“Don’t look,” Jimin hissed, aiming a kick at him under the table. Taehyung winced and shot him a disgruntled look. “Sorry.”
“Who?” Jungkook frowned, sitting up in his seat and looking toward the door. “Is that Hoseok hyung?” He turned back and shot a confused look at Taehyung. “So what? Did something happen? Oh, is this a prank?”
“It’s a joke, but not in the way you’re thinking.”
Flushing, Jimin glared at him before scooting furtively to the edge of his booth, square in the opening between Jungkook and the edge of the booth where Taehyung sat with a full sight-line to the line slowly ambling to the counter. He thought about getting up and walking over, using the pretense of greeting Hoseok or newspaper business to talk to them, but found himself frozen in his seat. Would that be a giveaway? Too obvious? He’d wanted this to be as innocent as possible, a pure coincidence, a chance of fate. Jimin fiddled with the gold hoop in his ear, suddenly uncertain in the face of his successful tactic.
“So what’s the plan now,” Taehyung drawled, his cheek propped on the palm of his hand. “Hope he somehow sees you in the back of a packed cafe?”
Jimin bit his lip. He looked down at his hands, his fingers worrying at the edge of his sleeves, before Taehyung sighed.
“Put your game face on, Jiminie,” he murmured before lurching over the table, propping his knees on the booth seat, and shouting, “Hyung!” over the hum of the cafe.
Two dozen heads turned at the greeting. Taehyung grinned winningly at the random assortment of faces before returning the wave Hoseok sent from the middle of the line. Jimin had a second to prepare for a pair of surprised, whiskey eyes to turn toward their table and catch sight of them. He smiled and immediately knew it was too wide, too much. But the one he got in return made it worth it.
Assured that Hoseok would drag his crew over once they’d ordered, Taehyung dropped back down with a bounce on the cushion, looking satisfied. “There.”
Flustered but trying to hide it, Jimin hid his smile into the curl of his fingers and mumbled, “Thanks, Tae.”
Jungkook leaned across the table, his voice lowering, “Is this about what Hoseok hyung said in the group chat?”
“What?” Momentarily thrown, Jimin bent closer. “What did he say?” He hadn’t checked the group chat since that morning.
Jungkook’s lips parted before he seemed to think better of it. “Uh. Never mind.” He cleared his throat and scrolled through his phone before his thumbs started texting rapidly. A second later, Taehyung’s phone buzzed.
Jimin ignored him this time, checking his reflection in the screen of his phone while watching out of the corner of his eye as the trio place their orders at the counter. He’d left his hair wavy that morning, each curl carefully tugged and sprayed with an inch of hairspray to look soft and effortless. His eyeshadow game was sultry, his lips a little dry. Shit. If he had another minute, he’d apply more gloss but Hoseok was speeding through the crowd toward them.
“Hey,” he greeted them, knocking a fist on Jungkook’s shoulder. “Jungkook, it’s been a while. I thought you were going to attend dance club three times a week, not once every two,” he teased easily. “What happened?”
“Oh.” Jungkook glanced at Taehyung before shrugging sheepishly. “I got a job here, hyung.”
“You work here? No wonder it takes forever to get my coffee lately.” He laughed, before quickly adding, “I’m kidding. That’s great, good for you, Kook.” Hoseok glanced over his shoulder as the other two finally broke through the crowd. Seokjin had been flagged down by two tables as they’d made their way and paused to talk for a couple seconds, his friend lingering at his back and nodding along.
“Ah, hyung, Joon, there you are. I know you’ve met Jiminie, but this is Taehyung and Jungkook.” Hoseok introduced them quickly, tugging Namjoon out from where he’d been half hiding behind Seokjin’s shoulder. “Namjoon, these are my newspaper minions. Minions, this is Namjoon.”
“Hi,” he replied simply, offering a small smile. Jimin realized he’d seen him around the Humanities building, lingering in the doorway of offices and holding tutoring sessions. He’d overheard a couple things about Kim Namjoon, namely that he was a professor favorite and could usually be found deep in the bowels of the university library, working on his thesis.
Jungkook had sat up at his appearance, his expression sheepish. “Oh, hyung. Hey. Uh. About last week….”
“I got your email,” Namjoon replied, his voice deep and amused. “It’s fine, Jungkook. Just try to let me know earlier next time. I could’ve scheduled someone else in that time slot.”
The kid nodded hastily before extracting a chip stuck in the bag with unnecessary concentration.
During this, Seokjin had shuffled to the side to allow a flow of people access to the back hallway and the bathroom, so that he was leaning against the side of Jimin’s booth, his arm braced over the back. Seokjin was craning his neck to hear better, his face just a couple feet above Jimin’s, and it took a monumental effort to turn his gaze away from the small burned spot on the table to glance up at him.
He looked nice today, all pressed slacks and neat button-up shirt, a silver thread hanging from one ear. He had a thin brown cardigan draped over his shoulders that looked almost identical to one Jimin had in his own closet, a favorite that was now probably cursed to forever remind him of Seokjin when he wore it. If his plan succeeded, maybe he’d just wear Seokjin’s from now on.
Caught up in that thought, it took a moment to register that Seokjin was staring back at him, his brow quirked.
His head whipped around, a twinge sparking. “Huh?”
Hoseok’s lips quivered. “You’re staring, why?”
“Ah, my handsome face is so powerful, it’s hard to take your eyes away,” Seokjin played along, framing his chin on the v of his index and thumb and winking down at Jungkook, who stared back uncertainly.
“No, you—you have something on your cheek,” Jimin lied, flushing from head to toe. He shot Hoseok a look that promised retribution, before leaning back in surprise when Seokjin’s face dropped even closer.
“I do? Oh no, I came this whole way with food on my face,” he lamented, squeezing his eyes shut dramatically. “My reputation, my dignity. I’m ruined.”
“Neither of those things got you elected. I think you’re good,” Namjoon mumbled to the side, forcing a snigger from Hoseok and dodging the slap aimed at his arm.
Seokjin rolled the back of his fist over his cheek, scrubbing for a second, before asking, “Did I get it?”
Jimin hesitated. “No.” He ignored the knowing looks being tossed around the table. His sweater felt too hot all of a sudden. A buzzing had begun in his ears. He could count Seokjin’s eyelashes from this distance, could see the freckle on the side of his jaw.
He didn’t know what made him do it. It was the kind of familiarity he shared with his family, with Taehyung and Jungkook, boundaries that he was particular about with himself and so careful to respect of others.
His thumb swept across the corner of Seokjin’s lips.
He held his hyung’s surprised gaze for a long second, as if time had stopped, pretty doe eyes wide, before his hand dropped into his lap.
“Got it,” he said casually, facing forward.
Hoseok cleared his throat, clearly searching for something to distract the table, when the barista shouted his name over the noise of the crowd. “Oh! There we are. We’d normally stay and hang out, but we’re on our way to the exhibition hall.”
“Hoseok, we could stay for a couple minutes,” Seokjin tried, his back straightening. “They haven’t even called our drinks yet.” He gestured between himself and Namjoon. “His should take a while. He had like, ten special requests.”
Namjoon huffed. “I’m lactose-intolerant, okay. Shut up.”
“Shut up, hyung,” Seokjin corrected, outraged, before a short bout of giggles broke through.
The other man rolled his eyes before sauntering off to the pick-up counter.
“We were late to his last show because you had to stop by your advisor’s office and drop off overdue papers,” Hoseok reminded him sternly, one hand braced on his hip. Seokjin’s lips parted to argue his defense, but he stopped short at the determined frown on his friend’s face. “No buts, hyung.”
“You’re right, sorry,” Seokjin mumbled, abashed. He hoisted his bag further up his shoulder and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his cardigan. “Well, it was nice seeing you all.” He started to follow behind Hoseok, who’d muscled his way through the impatient throng around the pick-up counter to help Namjoon cram the cups into a take-away carton, before he turned around. “Oh, thanks for the save, Jimin ah! Those two would’ve let me walk around like an idiot.”
“No problem, hyung,” Jimin heard himself reply, as if from a great distance.
“Pretty lucky I ran into you, huh,” he called, grinning, before striding after Hoseok and Namjoon, who’d made it to the front and had evidently decided to let Seokjin fend for his drink by himself.
Jimin watched him go, his gaze trailing after him through the front window as he vanished around the corner of the shop. The buzzing didn’t abate immediately now that Seokjin was out of sight the way he’d hoped it would. He still felt like he was floating a foot above his body somehow.
A tiny moment of madness, of breathless stupidity. It could’ve gone wrong, should’ve gone wrong—but it hadn’t.
The place where his thumb had met Seokjin’s cheek burned.
“You’re actually happy about that, aren’t you.” Taehyung shook his head, but he was looking at him so fondly.
Jungkook was examining him curiously, his brow furrowed, before he said, frustrated, “Is someone going to tell me what’s going?”
The summer is slowly winding down, making way for a gentle autumn, Sagittarius. This is a good time to reevaluate the world around you, to take a step back from your work and look more closely at the people in your life. You will need to curb your instincts to run away with your passions and keep your feet firmly on the ground during this time. A lovely opportunity dances just beneath your nose.
The following Thursday rolled around with a merciful drop in temperature, so that when Jimin hustled through the newspaper clubroom doors at five past four o’clock, he wasn’t dripping in sweat beneath the bulky cords of his sweater. He strode around the first block of cubicles in the office, sending seven prayers up to the stars and nearly tripping over a power chord in the process. Notebooks and his pencil case jostling in his arms, Jimin reached the hall where his desk was stationed and—
“Hyung, I’m so sorry for making you wait.”
Seokjin spun around in a spare office chair, a smile on his lips. “Jimin! Finally, I thought I was going to have to raid your desk for snacks if you didn’t show up soon.”
The comment had him freezing as he dropped his books on the desk, a flare of panic sparking in his stomach before he let himself relax. Good thing he’d run from the Science building, then. Jimin was pretty sure he’d stashed an article with a picture of Seokjin on it in one of the folders in his drawers, but he hadn’t seen it in a while. He should’ve cleaned his desk before their interview. “Sorry, hyung. I have a granola bar if you want it.”
“I’m kidding,” he said easily, his chair creaking as he leaned back and dropped his hands in his lap. “I got an ice cream bar from that truck in central campus on my way here.”
Of course he did, Jimin thought, smiling with his back turned. He pulled out his laptop where he’d written up a few questions to ask and opened his notebook to a clean page. Sitting heavily in his chair, he took a couple breaths to calm down and pull it together, his heart still beating fast from the run.
“Are you okay? You didn’t have to run here, I would’ve waited.” While he’d been getting his things out, Seokjin had grabbed a folder and started fanning waves of air for him.
“I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten,” he replied when he’d caught his breath. The short puffs of air felt good. “Thanks, hyung. You didn’t wait long, right?”
Seokjin shook his head with a smile and kept his steady motion, the folder snapping and undulating in his hands.
“Good. Okay.” Jimin took stock for a second before turning to his interview questions. “Ready to start, hyung?”
“Sure,” he hummed.
For the first couple minutes, they talked about the overall purpose of the article and the project itself, going over the details of the sustainability initiatives and what the club hoped to gain from their efforts. A put-out frown had formed on Seokjin’s face when he’d gone over the pushback the forestry club had received from the administration and the student body, which had been relatively minimal but the president of the club, a stoic senior called Do Kyungsoo, had struggled to negotiate and compromise.
“I wish I’d known earlier,” Seokjin had admitted. “I don’t know how much good I could’ve done, but I know a lot of people in the Student Activities office. A united front might’ve helped.”
“You could still help,” Jimin added encouragingly. “I can give you his number or you could drop by a club meeting?”
“That’d be great, Jimin.”
He scribbled the club’s contact information on a scrap sheet of paper as well as the hours of the club and handed it over to Seokjin, who pocketed it.
After that, Jimin started the set of questions that he'd initially wanted: five short, to the point questions that brought out Seokjin's opinions on the project.
"I think it's a great initiative," he answered, his voice taking on the confident, optimistic tone Jimin was used to hearing during start of term speeches and university promotional videos. "In light of the growing global concern around climate change and South Korea's own commitment to reducing carbon emissions as well as funding green research and programs, I think it's a critical time in the field and that the students here at SU could make a positive impact on overall awareness of this crisis among the student body."
Jimin dutifully wrote this down, his stomach flipping a bit. Was it supposed to be that sexy, informed engagement in environmental conservation?
"I've also heard that there are several interesting theses being researched in the Environmental Health department that are specifically tackling air pollution and filtration systems that could alleviate the dust levels in Seoul and the effects on human health it causes."
"That's amazing," said Jimin, his pen pausing over the notebook.
Seokjin beamed. "I can see if a few of them would be interested in an interview too, if you want."
"I--I would love to include that!" His mind racing, Jimin nibbled on the end of his pen. "This was meant to be published in the next edition though. I might need to ask Hoseok hyung for an extension. We'd have to adjust this week's spread, add one of the filler pieces."
Seokjin swiveled around in the seat watching him, his hands gripping the edge of the cushion, his thighs spread wide. He flicked the fringe of his bangs away from his brow and scuffed his sneakers together. A buzz echoed from his jean pocket, and he checked his phone while Jimin finished making notes.
"Sorry, hyung, just had to note that down before I forgot."
"No problem." Seokjin glanced at his notes, his head tilted to read upside down. "Got any more questions for me?"
For the first time that afternoon, Jimin realized how close they were sitting. Somehow, over the course of the hour they'd been talking, Seokjin's chair had crept closer until their knees were inches apart. A couple of threads hanging off the gaping holes in Seokjin's jeans clung to Jimin's legs with static electricity. He thought he could smell a hint of his hyung's cologne in the cramped cubicle.
"No, I think--that'll be enough, hyung," he murmured, before clearing his throat stiffly. "Thanks again, for doing this."
He had to look away from the Seokjin after a moment, the contented expression doing something to his chest. Pulling all the air from his lungs.
"Well," Seokjin sighed, slapping his thighs. He got to his feet. "Let me know if I can do anything else. I'd be happy to be interviewed again in the future, Jimin." He winked.
Jimin didn't blush. He didn't. "Have a good night, hyung."
The student body president sauntered out of the cubicle with one last smile, his sneakers scratching the worn carpet. The door to the clubroom shut behind him with a metallic clang, and the tension just oozed out of Jimin's body.
That was...something. He heaved a sigh and let his head fall back, a yawn splitting his cheeks. He'd been up for most of the night finishing the week's star charts on top of submitting a lab for his multidimensional calculus class at midnight. His desk chair had all the cushioning of a squashed marshmallow left overnight on a park bench, but he could feel his eyes drifting back, sleep settling warmly in his chest.
With a start, like he’d tripped in a dream, Jimin sat up and slapped his cheeks. The interview had filled a couple pages in his notebook, and he'd need to transcribe them onto his laptop. But that was a job for tomorrow.
Spinning around in his chair, he dropped his notebook onto the desk and started packing up the rest of his bag. He paused when he caught sight of the leather-bound journal on the opposite side of the desk, tufts of paper jutting out from the sides. His star chart journal. He hadn't realized he'd left it out before sprinting off to his physics lab earlier that day.
After filing his notes and the star charts, Jimin shrugged his heaving backpack onto his shoulders and shuffled toward the door. Just as he was leaving his cubicle, a sweet smell wafted into the air.
Stuffed into the trashcan by his cubicle was a pair of empty ice cream wrappers.
You are feeling the urge to jump headfirst, Libra, led by your heart and your restless energy. The chase feels exhilarating, but you must remember that patience is key to any sincere endeavor. You might be prone to making assumptions or leaping before you’ve looked at the ground beneath your feet. Good things come to those who wait. Explore your resources and prepare for the opportunities ahead.
"What does Seokjin hyung like to do in his free time?"
Hoseok took a long draw from his large, double-espresso latte with just a dash of caramel syrup, his eyes rolling to the back of his head in bliss. He held up a finger for Jimin to wait, swallowing thickly and releasing a coffee-scented sigh. His free hand turned, palm up and expectant.
Jimin slapped a breakfast sandwich into his palm, the wrapper crinkling under the force.
Sniffing, Hoseok unfolded the sandwich primly and took a bite. "That's so good." He took another bite with relish, his lips smacking as crumbs collected on his cheeks, before smiling beatifically at Jimin. "He usually goes for a hike or works on homework at the cafe by his apartment."
"What else?" Jimin sat down into the chair next to him, his handheld notebook flipped to a fresh page and ready.
"Mmm. Video games. He has a pink Nintendo that he carries around with him. He's a foodie, loves trying new things and visiting the food trucks that gather downtown at the end of the month."
His eyes gleaming, Jimin jotted that down quickly. "What kind of food? Where does he hike? Does he like simulations, strategy, RPG?"
Hoseok's tongue strained to lick a smear of cheese on the side of his cheek, considering his junior editor warily. "This is what makes you a fantastic journalist and a frightening human being. And single, probably."
Jimin stared him down, his pen poised.
"Fine. He loves traditional Korean and fusion food, he could eat his weight in bossam. He usually hikes at Bukhansan, I think. Big on Mario and Overwatch, but he's always playing some farming game when he rides the metro." Sandwich half-eaten, he laid it down on the table and washed it down with another gulp of coffee. "On the weekends, hyung spends one day doing everything he wants to do outside of the house, and then the second day lazing around in his pajamas, studying and watching dramas."
Pen paused in the middle of his furious scribbling, he was blindsided by a vision of Seokjin wandering around his apartment, loose t-shirt hanging from his broad frame and flannel pajama bottoms pooling around his ankles, scratching his bedhead as he sleepily mashed buttons with his thumb.
"Hello? Earth to Park Jimin?"
He dodged the hand waving in front of his face, shooting his editor a put-upon look.
"What, you were drooling a bit," Hoseok said with a grimace, pointing with his finger.
"I was not. Now keep going."
"Nope." Hoseok finished the sandwich and clapped his hands together. Jimin held out a clump of napkins with a grimace. "That's all breakfast will get you."
"Are you--hyung, that was a pretty nice breakfast, " he fumed. Not to mention the thirty minutes he'd waited in line at the packed cafe just down the street from the quad.
"You're trading for hyung secrets, the price is going to be steep. Buy me barbecue for dinner, and I'll tell you about Seokjin hyung's first kiss."
If his wallet had a voice, it would've screamed in agony from his back pocket. Still, he had to fight off the temptation with white-knuckled determination. He'd hear about that eventually, from Seokjin himself. Hopefully cuddled up on the couch watching dramas in their pajamas, giggly and tipsy as he fertilized his digital tomatoes.
He huffed before mentally shelving that fantasy for later. "Never mind." The information he had collected would help him with the next step of the plan, anyway. "I needed to talk to you about the sustainability article. After our interview, Seokjin gave me an idea of how to expand it and make it more encompassing of university wide green initiatives by students."
Hoseok's eyes sparkled with good humor, but he let the conversation drop rather than chase the impetus behind Jimin's sudden need to bribe him for details on Seokjin. "You're not about to ask me to push the main spread back. I know you're not, because then I'd have to cry and maybe kill you."
The changing of the seasons always tends to have an effect upon your state of mind, Capricorn. Lulled by the turning of the leaves and the oncoming chill of autumn, you've found yourself getting lost in your thoughts and dwelling on feelings of confusion, futility, and longing. Break the cycle. Schedule a date with a friend, go outside, and enjoy the sunlight on your face. Let the light in.
"Hyung! Hyung, look! There's a lizard on this tree trunk!"
Jimin took another swig from his water bottle before glancing over his shoulder, the strap of his backpack brushing beneath his chin. A thin layer of sweat seemed to coat every inch of his body, forming tiny, trickling rivers along his back and neck. He rubbed his hand through one, grimacing at his slick palm. He followed the excited voice and spotted Jungkook several yards back along the path, his nose pressed close to a small green lizard, frozen under the scrutiny. "Don't fall behind, Kook."
Taehyung shot him a look before propping his chin on Jungkook's shoulder. "Cute. What should we name him?"
"Uh." Jungkook seemed flustered, hastily turning back to the lizard with wide eyes and grinning brightly. "How about--Lieutenant?"
"What?" Taehyung questioned, deep-throated giggles echoing through the quiet of the forest. "Lieutenant?"
"He looks like he's in charge, doesn't he? Look, that spot on his head looks like a hat. A beret, like the military wear. I bet he's the amphibious leader of this part of the forest."
"It is staring us down, isn't it. Think we can touch it?" Taehyung murmured back, a smile still tugging at the corner of his mouth. He glanced up, his eyes meeting Jungkook's just scant inches from his own, and froze.
Jimin had frozen too, immediately picking up on the sudden tension between them. After a long, and for Jimin distinctly uncomfortable, moment, Taehyung took a step back and cleared his throat casually. "We probably shouldn't. Touch the lizard, I mean. It could be poisonous or something."
He'd busied himself tugging the front of his shirt and pulling his phone from a side pocket of his backpack, missing the way Jungkook's smile had slipped from his face, his shoulders slumping. But Jimin hadn't.
"Yeah, maybe," the kid mumbled, glancing back as the lizard scurried around the side of the trunk and dove into the thick underbrush, away from the strange pair of apex predators engaging in halfhearted mating attempts. Jimin's gaze followed enviously.
He tracked back and threw an arm around Jungkook's shoulder, dragging him up the path. "Come on, we can take a break when we get to the top. Almost there."
The kid went along easily, his eyes turned toward his boots lifting dust clouds off the ground as they continued up the climb. Jimin could hear a sigh at his back, before Taehyung hiked his backpack onto his shoulders and trailed after them. Soon, Jimin thought grimly. Soonn, he'd lure Taehyung over to his apartment with promises of breakfast and prime cuddle time with his cat and then force the storm of stifled feelings from his best friend's throat at all costs. Something was brewing between Taehyung and Jungkook, something with the potential for catastrophe and tears and weeks’ worth of vodka and ice cream, if Jimin didn't step in.
He'd stave off an impending crisis soon. For now, he had to reach the top of this mountain by 11:30am.
After another five minutes, they reached a fork in the trail. The wooden post crammed into the ground looked close to snapping and rotting slowly into the dirt, the lettering on the arrows juxtaposed at the top had long been wiped away. Jimin barely glanced at it before leading them down the left path.
"Do you hike here often, Jimin hyung?" said Jungkook, shrugging Jimin's arm off of his shoulder but keeping pace at his side.
"Why do you ask?" Jimin stepped over a clump of overgrown roots and waved a butterfly away from his thigh. He was almost positive there was a gnat trapped in the film of sweat on his neck. Fuck, he couldn't wait to go home and take a shower.
"You just seem to know the path really well."
He did know the path. Perfectly. He could tell you the nearest emergency shelters, the bird hides, the rough terrain areas, and every lookout on the eastern side of the mountain, despite never having visited before.
The night before, after receiving a text from Hoseok, Jimin had pulled up the terrain map for Bukhansan and memorized the trajectory of the trails, specifically those to the lookout point that he'd been reliably informed was Seokjin's favorite place to spread a blanket down and have a picnic in the shade. After some deliberation, Jimin had packed a picnic of his own, including homemade triangle kimbap, a fruit salad, smoothies, and a small cooler packed to the brim with ice packs to keep everything cold.
He was prepared. Using the map and judging both Seokjin's level of physical fitness and the likelihood that he'd bring Namjoon in addition to Hoseok, he'd estimated with reasonable certainty that they'd reach his favorite lookout spot for lunch around 11:50am, assuming that the weather remained sunny. Jimin had wanted at least twenty minutes to wipe the sweat from his face and reapply sunscreen, set up his picnic spot in a shady area, and draw them in like ants to a honey trap with his battery-powered fans, cold drinks, and fruit.
Oh, Jimin was ready. He'd prepared for this like it was an exam.
"Thank fucking god," Taehyung groaned, dropping onto the nearest flat rock he could find when they reached the lookout. The bandana holding his bangs back had a stick bug attached to the fold. "Tell me you brought beer, Minnie."
A strangled whine warbled out from between his hands pressed to his face, before he turned to the maknae hopefully. "Kookie?"
Jungkook turned around from where he'd been leaning over the safety railing, a long stick of jerky wiggling between his lips as he chewed. He held out the packaging to Taehyung, who sighed and took one.
"You doctored my horoscope, didn't you," he grumbled, grinding the jerky between his teeth. "To make sure I'd be suggestible and easily influenced to do this with you."
"I might've, if I'd known you'd bitch about it the entire time," Jimin shot back as he crouched by his pack. He spread the checkered blanket out below the shade of a tree, fixing the edges and testing out the view. They'd only climbed to one of the smaller mountain peaks, but the view over the city was still incredible. Wide expanse of sky, brushed with wispy clouds, Seoul spread out in the shadow of the mountains. On the cliff side, a gentle breeze carried over the chasm and carried the heat from his skin.
Jimin propped his hands on his hips and sighed. Not bad. He'd be game to hike this trail more often. He'd spent most of the agonizing climb daydreaming about what it'd be like to hike with Seokjin someday, bantering and teasing and pausing every now and then to press him into a tree and—
"Hyung, where's the fruit?"
Jungkook had made his way onto the blanket and helped himself to the contents of Jimin's backpack, the containers spread out between himself and Taehyung. His brows crept higher and higher up his forehead as he pulled out six large containers tightly packed with food and a thermos the size of a small fire hydrant. Bemused, he cracked open one of the fruit containers and slipped a piece of strawberry into his mouth. "This looks really good. Thanks, hyung."
"Don't eat too fast," Jimin warned him, wandering over and arranging the containers on the blanket. He put the second helpings back in his backpack so they'd stay cold. Jungkook looked a little confused. "We might have to share in a bit."
"We will? Bummer."
"Oh, Jungkook," Taehyung sighed, shoving his raybands onto his nose and shaking his head. "You sweet, unsuspecting nugget."
"Thank you for appreciating the five hours of work that went into this picnic, Kookie," Jimin cooed pointedly, picking up a glob of moss from a nearby rock and flinging it at Taehyung. It slapped him on the chest and rolled onto his lap, where he flicked it off with a careless hand.
Jimin handed a small, retractable plate to Jungkook along with a pair of chopsticks.
"So we're meeting someone here?" the kid continued, his cheeks full of melon. "From the newspaper or the dance team?"
"Hoseok should be coming at least, and Seokjin hyung," Jimin added in the most casual voice he could muster.
"Oh. That sounds fun." Jungkook shrugged, glancing at Taehyung uncertainly.
"I thought so too," JImin said under his breath, opening the lid of the kiwi-melon smoothie with a loud snap. He poured a decent amount into three small stackable cups and put them on the blanket in front of the others. He held Taehyung's gaze for a moment--or at least he thought he did, it was difficult to see through lens of his sunglasses--until he'd pulled out of his slouch and taken a sip from the smoothie.
"Well, at least we'll get some good photos out of this, huh, Kook," said Taehyung, nudging his knee with the tip of his sandal.
He only nodded back.
For the next ten minutes, they lazed about on the blanket and slowly picked their way through half the food, talking about classes, clubs, and other things going on in their lives. Jimin had jumped on the chance to vent his frustrations about the newspaper and his article, which was progressing incredibly well (enough so that the newspaper's department supervisor thought he could win one of the school awards for journalism) but involved so much more hassle now that he had to track down graduate students and ruthlessly steal their free time for interviews.
"I've had to start waiting for them after class," he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I think someone tipped them off that I'd be coming for an interview--they've started wearing disguises to avoid me."
"You know, hats, scarves, sunglasses. Kyungsoo hyung said that I'm developing a reputation amongst environmental science grad students. They fear me now."
"I thought you'd be happy, hyung," laughed Jungkook, his hand quickly darting into the kimbap container to steal the last shrimp before Taehyung could reach it.
"It was funny at first. Now, it's so much more work."
"That's like when Yoongi hyung's exhibit was going to be showcased on the university's official Naver account and an intern from HR was haunting his schedule, trying to get through a spreadsheet of questions." Taehyung grinned as he scrunched the blanket between his bare toes. It'd only taken three minutes into lunch for him to tug off his sandals. "He was looking over his shoulder for weeks after."
"You'd think they'd be flattered," Jimin pouted. "Not everyone gets an interview from the university's cutest journalism major."
"Well, yeah. Hoseok stopped interviewing last year." Taehyung's cheek earned him a slice of strawberry flung at his face, where it stuck to his temple before slowly sliding down. He waited until it was in range before licking it into his mouth.
"Anyway, how about you, Jungkook?"
The maknae had been mostly quiet, deftly eating twice as much as the other two and staring out over the mountains. "Mmm? Oh, I'm doing all right. English is kicking my ass, but Namjoon hyung has been tutoring me like twice a week now." He sighed. "I'll probably pass."
"What about your art classes? You were so excited about that video game design workshop."
At the mention, Jungkook practically beamed. "That's been fantastic. We spent like, five weeks just analyzing different video games and taking apart how the graphics were created, and stuff. Our final project is to make a marketing pitch with character design and world building."
"That's where he's been picking up tips and shit," Taehyung added with an exaggerated pout. "His professor is an Overwatch pro."
"Oh? What kind of tips?" A voice called through the trees.
Jimin jumped a mile off the blanket.
Making his way to the top of the trail into onto the outlook, his skin gold and gleaming under the burning sun, was Seokjin. Hands on his hips, he grinned at them from below the brim of his pink baseball cap and released a deep breath before he glanced over his shoulder. A moment later, Hoseok had caught up to him, with Namjoon trailing behind, panting loudly and toting bright red spots high on his cheeks.
Jimin's breath caught, the way it always did around Kim Seokjin, but excitement and triumph rose in his chest like a small sunrise. It'd worked. It'd fucking worked. He stifled the urge to pump his fist and shoot Taehyung a smug look. "Hyung!" He shot to his feet, smile already in place. "Hi!"
"Jiminie, what a surprise," crowed Hoseok, abandoning Namjoon slumped onto a nearby tree to throw an arm around Jimin's shoulder.
"Not you," he grumbled under his breath.
Hoseok pinched his cheek. "Rude," he pouted, talking low enough that the others wouldn't hear, "that's no way to talk to a confidential informant or your editor, brat, unless you want to be put on minutes’ duty for the honor council. You're frighteningly good at this, by the way."
"I know." Jimin shrugged his arm off and turned to find Seokjin already sitting on the blanket between Jungkook and Namjoon, up to his elbow deep in the army-grade backpack he'd toted up the mountain on his back. He stifled the immediate disappointment--he'd wanted to sit next to him. "Seokjin hyung."
Turning in the middle of a laugh, Seokjin craned his neck and smiled. "Jimin! I didn't know you guys liked hiking," he exclaimed, delighted. "And to be up here at the same time as us! How amazing!"
"Yeah, amazing," Taehyung drawled from the bottom of his throat, his head tipped back in the shade. Jungkook stared at the arched bridge of his neck for a full minute.
"Well, it's going to rain for the rest of the week, so," Jimin trailed off, plopping back down on the blanket and pulling out the extra containers in his bag. He scooted them across the blanket, a little closer to Seokjin than the others, and ignored the snort that earned him from Hoseok.
"We are evidently on the same wavelength, Jimin ah," Seokjin sighed, tugging several long thermoses from his backpack. "Midterms are just a couple weeks away too. You should enjoy the sunlight while you can, before the darkness takes you."
"Yes, hyung," he answered dutifully, leaning forward to get a glimpse into the canister.
"Some of you should be studying already," Namjoon added, talking for the first time since they'd reached the outcrop. He shot a playful glance at Jungkook, who huffed. "Just kidding, Kook. You've been working hard."
"Yes, I have." The kid sneaked a hand into the new container packed full of fruit and slipped an entire strawberry into his mouth as if to reward himself.
"He's been missing practice to go to your extra sessions, so he'd better be," Hoseok piped up from Jimin's left, a large blue water bottle in hand. As if he didn't have enough on his plate managing his course schedule as well as running the university newspaper, Hoseok was one of the leaders of the university's dance club. "Hyung, what'd you bring for lunch?"
Seokjin unsnapped small camping bowls and passed two to Namjoon and Hoseok. "Nangmyeon with watermelon. There's enough to share. Probably."
"I brought some things too, hyung," Jimin interjected shyly, nudging the containers just a little closer with the tips of his fingers. "Fruit, kimbap. There's some smoothie left too, if you'd like that."
"Oh, thanks." Seokjin leaned forward to inspect the containers, the collar of his white t-shirt hanging off his frame. Jimin stared right down the hole and caught a glimpse of soft-ridged muscle and a dark bellybutton. He watched Seokjin pick up a blueberry and press it between his full lips, and thought that staring into the sun itself would be less torture than this. "Mmm!"
Jimin rolled his lips in and forced his gaze away.
The conversation drifted for a while, ambling from school to work to random things like the upcoming fall festival being held on campus and if anyone planned on attending wearing a Halloween costume. Seokjin hadn't officially met Jungkook yet, so he'd prodded the kid with questions like his year, major, where he was from, before diving straight into the aforementioned Overwatch tips he'd learned from his professor. Taehyung joined in every now and then, his fingers drawing shapes into the dirt by Jungkook’s thigh.
Sulking just a little, Jimin kept one ear turned to their conversation while he listened to Hoseok complain about the freshmen writers for the newspaper and their inability to turn projects in on time before he and Namjoon moved on to the anime they'd been watching recently. The nangmyeon had been consumed so quickly that Jimin hadn't had a chance to grab a bite from Hoseok's bowl, just the small black watermelon seeds left swimming in the juice. Taehyung had taken to flicking them at Jungkook and Hoseok, laughing when they stuck to their cheeks and shirts.
"Jimin, feed me a strawberry."
Surprised, Jimin turned around and stared at Hoseok. "Why?"
"Please? Hyung already put up our chopsticks, and I don't want my hands to be sticky for the rest of the day," he pleaded, throwing his voice into that reedy, high tone he used to baby the freshmen.
"Fine, just stop that."
He'd picked out the smallest remaining cut of strawberry left in the container and shoved it into Hoseok's open mouth with thinly veiled irritation. Namjoon had snorted so hard he had to dig in Hoseok's backpack for a tissue. Ignoring the wounded look he was getting from his editor-in-chief, Jimin paused. He studied the steel chopsticks in hand before taking a deep breath. The idea rolled around in his brain, before he decided to go for it. If it went badly, he could just toss himself off the nearby cliff-face.
Inspecting the fruit container, Jimin found the perfect offering. A large chunk of pear, its faded mellow green skin dipped in the seeping red and blue juice of the surrounding fruit, was nestled in the corner, hidden and kept safe from the concentrated assault of Jungkook and Hoseok upon the tupperware. Determined, Jimin pinched the pear between his chopsticks and lifted it from the bottom, shaking off the drips of juice. Was he really going to do this? Like, actually do it?
Jimin stared at the piece of fruit trapped in his grip as if it held the keys to the universe before he rolled his shoulders back and steeled himself.
Seokjin turned at the sound of his name. He'd removed the pink baseball cap at some point, his fringe brushed back from his forehead, a few strands clinging stubbornly to his temples. A swooping sensation passed through Jimin's stomach. He wondered what they'd been talking about to bring that kind of smile to his face. He should've just shoved Jungkook into the underbrush from the start and claimed that seat next to him.
Swallowing thickly, Jimin lifted the pear up, his arms stretching over the blanket.
Seokjin blinked, surprised.
"The pears are your favorite, right? You'd better eat this one before Kookie gets it," he explained with a forced laugh, only just keeping the anxiety from his voice.
"Oh, nice!" Seokjin grinned gamely, throwing a hand out as if to keep the maknae at bay. He leaned across the blanket, his chest almost brushing the tops of his knees, until his mouth hung a couple inches from the chopsticks. His lips parted, mouth opened expectantly as he stared at the pear before glancing up at Jimin through thick lashes.
A bear could've burst through the bushes with an innocent hiker clasped in its jaws. Jimin wouldn't have noticed.
His other hand held carefully beneath, Jimin nestled the pear on the dip of Seokjin's tongue, his hand miraculously steady as if the entirety of his being wasn't shaking beneath the surface. An eruption of electricity sped through his veins when plush lips closed over the edge of the chopsticks, where Jimin's had been not five minutes previous, and a spark leapt at the back of his chest when Seokjin let out a short, pleased hum. He held Jimin's gaze for an unbearably long moment before sweet dark eyes disappeared into the folds of a happy smile.
"Thank you, Jimin ah," he cooed a second later, releasing the chopsticks from the surprisingly strong grip of his lips. "I knew there was a reason you were my favorite."
Too much. Too much. Too much. Abort, Park Jimin. He giggled shortly, his beaming and burning face turned toward his lap to keep the tidal wave of bubblegum bright feeling at bay, pink and stretching, threatening to pop. If he'd been alone on this mountain, he would've turned to the cavernous space before him and screamed his feelings into the air, the forest, the sun until his voice was hoarse and the tiny woodland animals feared and pitied him.
He set the chopsticks into an empty container, delicately because they now felt as if they'd been imbued with some sacred, earth-altering power. Jimin turned back to Hoseok and Namjoon's conversation to maintain some semblance of control over himself, afraid his smile was embarrassingly obvious but unable to do anything else. He could hear Jungkook returning to the discussion of weapons attachments at his back, Taehyung and Seokjin chiming in soon after, and felt that it was safe enough to release the breath he'd been holding for nearly five minutes.
A hand dropped onto his shoulder.
Hoseok rubbed the knob of his shoulder blade almost consolingly, his lips rolled in as if to keep from saying something. Namjoon had turned his face away politely.
"Good for you, Jimin ah," his editor murmured in a choked voice.
Jimin planted his fist into Hoseok's gut and beamed at the ant crawling out of his backpack, a too big piece of rice clutched triumphantly in its tiny pincers.
This is an auspicious week for you, Libra. The equinox has drawn the sun back into your sign, the glad tidings of your birth month bringing energy, luck, and happiness into your spirit. Your ambition and aspirations are progressing as you hoped, and soon you will receive the rewards for all of your efforts. During this time, you might feel restless and overeager-- be sure that you are directing your overflowing energy in positive ways. Indulge in self-care, pour yourself into a passion project, give your affection to a friend in need of a kind touch. Take that chance you've been waiting for, Libra.
Take that chance you've been waiting for.
Jimin strode into the Communications and Student Administration department with definite swagger, the words of the star chart echoing through his mind. It was the lazy hours of the afternoon, when the brunt of the sun's radiance had begun to dip below the horizon but its warmth lingered on the air cast through the windows of the hall. A few clusters of students with evening classes lingered, their conversations hushed and held over cellphones and textbooks. His Media in Journalism professor, Dr. Kwan was stapling several flyers to the notice board by his office.
He turned his face away and slipped past without stopping to greet him. Rude, he knew, and on a normal day completely unnecessary-- Dr. Kwan was one of his favorite professors and frequently extended a helping hand when Jimin needed a faculty advisor for a project. But the professor's reputation for delving into interesting but longwinded anecdotes from his days as a reporter in Seoul was completely accurate, and Jimin couldn't be distracted today.
Today, he was going to ask Kim Seokjin out on a date.
Auspicious week. Energy, luck, and happiness. The rewards for all your efforts. Take that chance.
Jimin was a confident, sweater-clad bombshell on the outside—pure panic inside.
He thought he was hiding it pretty well.
When he’d left his bedroom that morning, Taehyung, who’d stayed over the night before after he’d left Yoongi’s studio, had taken one look at him and said, stunned, “Oh my god, you’re doing it.”
Jimin had frozen in the doorway, his eyes wide. “What?”
“You’re going to ask out Seokjin hyung.”
He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t expected this. They’d been best friends long enough that Taehyung could read a wrinkle between his eyebrows and know that he’d had an argument with his mother, could tell from the cologne he wore that day if he were trying to soften up Jungkook for a free latte. Knew from his decision on gold or silver earrings if he was trying to get laid that night. Taehyung knew where his birthmark was, and there weren’t a lot of friends that could honestly say they’d platonically witnessed the ink blot hidden in the crease of your left ass cheek.
“Be honest. The leather jacket. Too much?” sighed Jimin, tugging at the zipper of said jacket with indecision.
“If gravity doesn’t pull his pants down for you, I’ll be offended.”
That forced a laugh out of Jimin, enough that his shoulders unclenched and he walked over to the couch, leaning his hip against the arm. “Are you camping out here for the rest of the day?”
“Thought about it.” Taehyung scratched his head, tufts of sandy blonde hair stuck up at different angles from sleeping with washing out the hairspray from the night before. He still had a couple makeup smudges around his eyes and smacked his lips as he stared down at the mole on his thigh, just visible beneath the scrunched-up hem of his boxers. A soft, rolling meow was chased by the appearance of Jimin’s cat Curry, who stepped on Taehyung’s thigh and rubbed his head beneath his chin, demanding pets. “Hyung said he’d be in the studio all day again, so…. I might go, take him some food at some point.”
He’d made an attempt to sound casual, but Jimin could hear the hollow tone beneath the careful disinterest, the thread of loneliness. He knew Taehyung had barely managed more than a few snatched moments with Yoongi, fast dates that he had gone out of his way for, had planned around his own schedule just to see his boyfriend. It was near to the point where Jimin was starting to get angry, protective instincts urging him to storm into that cramped studio in the dungeons of the arts building and just shake some consideration into him.
He knew how soul-sucking the senior year in the Arts department could be, how demanding and difficult and time-consuming creating and planning for the thesis was. The university’s reputation for the highest quality arts department in Korea didn’t come from aggressive advertisements and hyperbole—the requirements to attain the degree were numerous and extremely hard-won. He’d witnessed more than a few seniors buckle under the pressure.
Jimin understood. He really did. But at the same time, this was Taehyung, his best friend, patient and kind and so in love that he hadn’t complained to Yoongi’s face once. Not once. And if Jimin could see the cracks around the edges of Taehyung’s expression, then it was getting more serious than Yoongi probably understood.
That conversation Jimin had known they needed to have about Jungkook would need to happen. As soon as possible.
“Let’s have a movie night,” he suggested, reaching out to brush a lock of hair sticking up from Tae’s bedhead like an arrow. It rebounded stubbornly. “I’ll grab fried chicken on my way home, and a bag of that Halloween candy in wrappers that look like shiny body parts.”
Taehyung craned his neck and met his gaze, a happy light back in his eyes. His hands were buried in Curry’s fur, stroking behind his ears. “Scary movie marathon?”
“Sure,” he agreed easily. Jimin didn’t need sleep anyway. Plus, if Seokjin turned him down, well. It might be good to be reminded that there were worse things in this world than your crush not returning the feeling. Perspective. “Hell, we can watch the next season of Attack on Titan if you want.”
Taehyung positively beamed at that suggestion, wiggling on the cushion, before he suddenly frowned. “Oh. I promised Yoongi we’d watch it together, after his final exhibition.” He stared at the ground for a long moment, but just before Jimin opened his mouth to brush the offer away, he said, “Whatever. I’m tired of waiting. Let’s do it!”
Thinking back on that conversation, Jimin was surprised that Taehyung had not suggested they invite Jungkook, loud and proud Levi fan boy, to their movie night, but couldn’t deny that he was relieved. Especially since this offered the perfect opportunity to trap Taehyung in his apartment and have this conversation that he’d otherwise avoid.
As he took the stairs leading up to the third floor, bag of boba tea squeaking below his grip, Jimin made a mental note to buy a bag of those sour candies that Taehyung loved, even if they made his breath smell like hot garbage. He had a feeling they might need it.
Another person was at the top, just starting down the first step, an enormous stack of papers braced against his chest. Jimin recognized Park Jinyoung, the sophomore secretary of the student council, his stoic face even stiffer than usual. He glanced at him and nodded in acknowledgement before continuing down the stairs, looking as if a metaphorical storm cloud should be hovering over his head. Nodding back, Jimin watched him turn the corner of the stairwell with empathy. He supposed being on the council was as hellish as filling a deadline for the newspaper during midterms and exams.
The top floor of the building was much quieter than the lower floors. A few office doors were left open for professors giving office hours, but the classrooms he passed were dark and empty. Colorful flyers and signs plastered over the walls pointed to the end of the hallway, where the student council had its own set of rooms and offices, and if rumors were correct, their own bathroom and break room. He’d only been a few times and just in the open conference room at the entrance, on the brief occasion as a freshman when he’d accompanied an upperclassman to write an article.
Once he’d reached the door, Jimin took a breath and ran through his plan again. Walk in, find Seokjin hyung, casually greet him, give him the boba tea and say it’s a ‘thank you’ for all his help on the article. Then, if he said he’d never been to the place, offer to go together. If he has been there, still suggest you go together next time. If he agreed, don’t scare him away—keep calm, smile, and get his number.
If he doesn’t…. still keep calm, smile, and go to the store for as much candy and sweets as your budget will allow.
You can do this, Park Jimin, he coached himself, rolling his neck until it cracked. It’s in the stars.
He grabbed the doorknob and twisted.
The council room was pure chaos.
Stunned, Jimin’s gaze swept over the stacks of boxes crammed full of loose papers and folders, taking up every available space on the conference table. The whiteboard on the right wall had enough red marker scribbled across its surface that it reminded Jimin of the drafts he’d seen clasped in the hands of downtrodden freshman journalists for the newspaper, on their way back from a session with their old senior editor, Soo Youngji. She’d been about the sweetest person Jimin had ever met, but put a red pen in her hand and set her onto the task of editing grammar and syntax and she became the most vicious taskmaster on the force. As it was, the board seemed to reflect the schedule of an audit. No wonder Jinyoung had looked like miserable.
A couple students were sorting through the files on the other side of the room, two young women squinting hard at the fine print on the sheets before them. Jimin didn’t recognize them, but they barely glanced up as the door opened, so concentrated on reading the files and flipping open folders. He waited awkwardly for a moment, looking around the room. Seokjin hyung wasn’t there.
“Um. Excuse me.”
One of the students finished marking a document so hard that the tip of her pen broke through the paper before glancing up at him through a curtain of long black hair. “What.”
“I’m trying to find Seokjin hyung,” Jimin explained, as politely as he could. He thought he could see her eye twitching.
“Third office on the left,” she replied curtly before turning back to her stack. The girl sitting next to her jumped, as if it had been a long time since she’d heard a noise other than the shuffling of paper.
“Thank you,” he murmured back before quickly escaping.
A short hallway was attached to the conference room, with three doors leading to a couple offices and a supply closet. Jimin approached the one labeled ‘President’ with trepidation, his nerves like an itchy blanket over his skin. The door was cracked open, offering a sliver of what laid beyond: a chair opposite a desk, a window on the far wall, and another towering stack of papers.
Jimin knocked softly before pushing the door open and saying, tentatively, “Hyung?”
After a couple moments of silence, he stepped into the room and leaned around the stack of papers. The sun had descended far enough in the sky that warm light spilled thickly into the room, making it warm and a little stuffy. Sitting in the middle of the heated office, bent over on the desk with his cheek stuck to a manila folder, was Seokjin. Asleep.
Jimin froze. He hadn’t been expecting something like this. In all of his forward planning of the event, Seokjin had been awake and a bit busy but free enough to invite Jimin inside his office and talk to him. He took another step until he reached the edge of the desk and could look a little closer.
Seokjin was still gorgeous, even passed out with his face smooshed into a yellow folder and drooling a small wet spot onto the front. His lips were parted and slightly chapped, reminding Jimin of a squished persimmon, and his cheeks looked as if they’d seen the sun for an hour too long that day. His hair, normally shiny and styled to perfection, was messier than Jimin had ever seen and had taken on a life of its own, drifting lazily in the air as if at the whims of static electricity.
Jimin sucked in a shaky breath. It felt…intimate, to see him like this. Seokjin, who was either the picture of poise on the podium before an audience or controlled exuberance around his friends and professors. Now that Jimin could see his face without dark, lively eyes crinkling at the corners and boisterous laughter, he noticed the shadows that smudged the otherwise flawless skin below, the sharp cut of his cheekbones as if he’d lost weight.
He must’ve been working on the same reports as the girls in the other room, until the sunlight lulled him to sleep. Judging by the state of the conference room, they must be nearing the deadline.
Jimin stared at him, slumped over the desk, his neck crooked at an uncomfortable angle that would be impossible to sleep through for long unless you were so exhausted that your body had transcended physical discomfort in its need for rest. His carefully thought-out plans slowly crumbled in his mind’s eye. He couldn’t bring himself to wake Seokjin up from what looked like the best sleep he’d had in a week.
After a moment, Jimin set the bag on a chair and withdrew one of the teas as quietly as he could, biting his lip at the crinkling of the paper. Seokjin didn’t stir as he moved a coaster from a side table and placed it on the desk, depositing the tea on the thin block of wood, and gathering the bag into his hand again.
The bitter thought that the star chart had been wrong after all came unbidden as he inched toward the door, but he immediately brushed it aside. He’d been ready to do it, had made it all the way to Seokjin’s office without faltering, and to be honest—that was further than he’d ever managed before. A small glow of pride nestled in his chest at the thought. He’d try his luck again on another day. A better day.
With a last glance at the cozy office, the fluttering of soft puffs of breath rustling papers, Jimin shut the door and headed home.
You’re too wrapped up in your head, Pisces. It is time to take a step back and draw yourself out of the spiral that has pulled you away from light and life and happiness. During this time, it is crucial to reach out to your friends, family, and loved ones who have been left on the outside of your internal rumination and make a genuine effort to reconnect. An unexpected opportunity will arise, one that will test you in crucial ways. Remember to open yourself to new ideas and re-evaluate your priorities.
After leaving the student council room (or rather, being chased out by the harried students working frantically to finish that day’s allotted filing so they too could go home) a little disappointed but positive, Jimin had gathered his hoard of candy and consolation chocolate before heading back to the apartment.
When he shoved his way through the front door, arms laden with grocery bags, Taehyung had not moved far from where he’d left him earlier that day, sprawled across the couch in his t-shirt and boxers, bare toes crinkling against the arm of the couch. He shot up when Jimin entered and rushed over to help with the bags.
“Well?” prodded Taehyung immediately as they shuffled into the kitchen and dropped everything onto the table. He’d located the sour candy and within seconds was tearing open the bag for a bright red, cherry-flavored tongue. “Are we celebrating or are we going to do tequila body shots before leaving open cans of tuna in front of his door?”
“Neither.” Jimin snorted, before considering it. Actually, that might not be a bad idea for his own apartment. Then all of the neighborhood cats might visit him. Curry wouldn’t be pleased, but… He tabled that thought for later and pulled a few actual groceries he’d bought out of the bags to shove in a cabinet. “The student council is in the middle of an audit.”
Taehyung’s brow scrunched. “So, what, he didn’t have time to talk?”
“He was asleep on his desk when I went. Looked tired,” sighed Jimin. A granola bar fell out and bounced onto the counter when he stuffed a box of cereal in between his energy bars and snack box. He shot Taehyung a winsome half-smile over his shoulder. “I’ll try again later.”
Taehyung shook his head as he opened another candy, one cheek still stuffed with the first. “You’re too considerate. This is starting to turn out like one of those young love dramas where they spend thirty-eight episodes getting the couple together and then in the last episode, they finally hold hands and that’s it.” A green toe flavored with sour green apple soon followed the tongue into the other cheek, and Jimin wondered how that combination could taste anything other than disgusting. “Did you at least draw on his face?”
“No,” he rolled his eyes. Although next time, he might. Jimin wondered what Seokjin’s reaction would be to waking up with a small heart drawn on his cheek and giggled to himself. Then he realized. “I didn’t leave a note.”
“I didn’t—“ he pressed a fist to his forehead and swallowed a growl of frustration, “leave a note to say who the boba was from. Damn it.”
Taehyung leaned back in the chair. “How are you both terrible and weirdly good at this,” he wondered with a laugh before snapping shut at the look Jimin shot over his shoulder. “Sorry. Maybe he’ll realize. Was anyone else there?”
No one that would remember, Jimin thought despondently, before pulling a beer out of the fridge and letting it go. It didn’t really matter, as long as Seokjin had a nice little surprise to wake up to.
“Not really. I’d say this mission was a failure.” He mourned the brownie points that might’ve earned him, before moving on. “Anyway, let’s get into movie night. Want one of these?”
“Maybe later. Candy and beer don’t mix very well.”
“Really? I would’ve thought the taste of sugary garbage and watered-down piss came from the same palette.” He got a purple, bloodshot eyeball flicked at his beer can for the trouble. It ricocheted off the tin with a crackling sound before rolling off the table and right into Curry’s furiously batting paws.
For a while, the night went on like any other movie night. They dragged all the blankets out of his bedroom closet and formed a stiflingly warm cocoon on the couch, their snacks and room-temperature beer scattered around the coffee table within arm’s reach. They made it through a few episodes before they got hungry and paused long enough to make several cups of instant ramen to share as humanity struggled against the titans onscreen, though Jimin’s appetite took a sharp downturn every time a side character was brutally eaten.
When Taehyung had checked his phone for the tenth time and stashed it beneath the blanket again with a small sigh, Jimin decided he couldn’t avoid it any longer.
“You need to be honest with him.”
A sudden disquiet filled the room, long enough that he thought Taehyung might ignore him. He acted almost like he hadn’t heard, except for the slight tightening in his shoulders and around his mouth, until Jimin shoved his feet into his lap and nudged his stomach with his toes. “I’m always honest with hyung.”
“Not lying to his face isn’t the same as being honest. You know that.” Jimin pulled the pillow at his back around until he was facing his best friend rather than the TV. “You need to talk to him.”
“And say what,” he interrupted sharply, frowning at him from across the couch. “‘Stop working on that thing that will determine whether or not you’ll graduate next year and get your dream job, and pay attention to me instead?’ I’m not that needy or selfish.”
Jimin bit his lip before softening his voice as best he could. “It’s not selfish to want to spend time with him, Tae. Real time with him, not just quick sex in his studio and sporadic texts at three in the morning.”
Stony silence met this statement. Taehyung stared hard at the screen, clearly hoping that he would drop it but knowing he wouldn’t. Jimin had learned to be stubborn and tenacious when it came to drawing Taehyung’s heart from behind its thickly fortified walls.
He hesitated, knowing he had to approach this next bit with a combination of force and delicacy. “You need to be honest with yourself too.” He rolled his lips in before adding quietly, “About your feelings for Jungkook.”
A crack broke through that seemingly impenetrable facade. For a moment, he thought Taehyung would deny it. His fingers dug into the quilt on his lap, sinking into the stitching and gripping tightly until his knuckles grew white. His gaze fell to the cluster of candy wrappers on the table, the empty cups of ramen, and finally the phone dropped onto his lap. The screen was lit up, a small notification popping onto the screensaver. He stared down at it.
When Jimin finally recognized the emotion filling his dark eyes, he sat up and pushed the blankets aside, dislodging the warm balled-up cat in the middle of the blankets, until he could tug his best friend into his arms. Taehyung slumped against him, his head falling onto his shoulder. He was close enough now that he could see his hands shaking beneath the threads of the quilt.
“Talk to me, Tae,” he murmured, snuggling closer, “please.”
Eventually, well after midnight and the ending credits on the screen had rolled by, he did.
This week has been full of work, stress, and the feeling that time is running out, Sagittarius, but do not fear— you have finally come to the end of this cycle and can again appreciate the fruits of your labor. Now that the forecast has opened up and your energy returned, you can appreciate the world around you. Enjoy a sunny day, indulge in your favorite pastime, try something different. You have always enjoyed the thrill of the chase, the excitement that new paths can lead you on. Where one adventure ends, another will soon begin.
Over the next couple weeks, Jimin threw himself into his coursework and the newspaper. He went to extra tutoring sessions, stayed late in the club room, hunted down the last remaining interviewees for his article, and finished a term paper that would be due after fall break in a week. He started going to the gym more, even dropped by a few of Hoseok’s dance sessions, where he was forced to gyrate his hips until his muscles screamed but could share a laugh with Jungkook when he added ridiculous extra moves into the choreography, grinning shamelessly at Hoseok through the mirror.
It was amazing how good his body felt at the end of it, how the exercise just cleared his mind and opened his lungs. At some point during that semester, he’d been so focused on masterfully incepting attraction into Seokjin’s subconscious that he’d missed the advice of his own star chart, the need for some self-love.
So he’d adjusted his priorities. That was not to say that he’d given up—like hell he wasn’t going to ask Kim Seokjin out now that he’d put so much thought and effort into this slow, subtle enchantment—but he’d put it on the back burner for a while. Jimin would return to the plan once he’d knocked a few items off his to-do list and could return with a fresh perspective.
One of the biggest reasons he’d pulled back a bit was so he could be there for Taehyung, as he finally wrestled with the conflict inside of him and started to figure out what he wanted out of his relationship, what he should do about his growing feelings for Jungkook. That had led to Taehyung staying over more, long nights just talking and laughing and trying to figure things out. He said he'd worked out about as much as he could on his own--the hardest part would be finally discussing things with Yoongi, but he'd decided to wait until fall break when he'd promised Tae that he would take a break for a few days.
Another reason was that, well. Seeing Seokjin passed out on his desk, overworked and stressed enough to actually fall asleep in the middle of filling reports, had made Jimin feel embarrassed and a little ashamed of the way he'd been going about this. Nothing he'd done had truly crossed the line, but he'd realized sometime during that first late night, Taehyung quietly crying on his shoulder, how hypocritical it was to tell Taehyung to be honest about his feelings while using his horoscopes to try to get Seokjin interested in him, as harmless as they had been. He liked Seokjin. Even more, now that he'd had a chance to spend time with him. Liked him enough that he wanted to be honest.
So the past two horoscopes had been as genuine as the others. And the third would be too, as soon as he finished it.
Stretching back in his chair, Jimin groaned as his back cracked a couple times. He shoved his glasses up and rubbed his eyes, dry and fuzzy from staring at his laptop for hours finishing the final draft of the article on green student initiatives that afternoon. Though it had taken forever to finish, Jimin couldn't be more proud of the work he'd poured into it--he was positive that it was the best article he had written yet, and Hoseok had cleared it for the front page of the newspaper almost immediately when he'd sent it a couple hours earlier. He was looking forward to seeing it on the website, getting feedback, and hopefully creating more conversations about environmentally friendly projects on campus.
Now if he could just finish the star charts for next week, he could retreat back to his apartment and sleep until tomorrow afternoon.
In the middle of tracking the sun alignment within Virgo, he jumped when the door to the club room door opened. Jimin dug his pencil into the chart before he lost his spot and craned his neck to check the time. 5:34pm.
"Noona, is that you?" he called, turning back to the chart as soft footsteps scuffed on the carpet. Seulgi had also planned on staying late to work on an article on the history symposium opening next week, but she'd left a while ago to grab takeout.
He nibbled on the end of his pencil. Virgo signs would have a difficult week ahead. Uncertainty characterized their mood for the foreseeable future. Jimin thought of Jungkook and felt an ache of sympathy well up in his chest. He made a mental note to look out for him too.
"Hard at work as ever, Jimin."
He startled so badly that he inhaled an eraser shaving right off the top of his pencil.
Jimin jerked his head to the side, caught sight of Seokjin leaning against the cubic wall, and promptly sneezed. "Hyung?" He wiped his watering eyes with his sleeve and turned his chair to face him. "What are you doing here so late?"
Seokjin shrugged, peering over his shoulder at the charts spread across his desk. "I was at a lecture in the audience hall and thought I'd stop by."
"Oh." He remembered hearing about a lecture that afternoon but couldn't recall what it was about. "Well, it's just me here, I think. Seulgi noona was here, but..." he trailed off, rolling the pencil around in his grip. "Hoseok hyung left a couple hours ago."
"Hmm." Seokjin took a step into the cubicle and bent slightly over the desk, looking over the star charts curiously. "Working on next week's horoscopes? I've looked at those before online but gave up trying to understand what anything meant after like, ten seconds."
Jimin cleared his throat and fought to keep his breathing even as the subtle cloud of cologne washed over his sense. It didn't help that Seokjin was wearing a bright yellow sweater and those infuriating jeans with the gaping hole in the thigh. It took a monumental effort not to turn look just a couple feet away, into the abyss. He'd probably burst into flames on the spot if he gazed into that darkness. "It just takes time to get familiar with it. I could show you sometime, if you wanted."
"How about right now?" asked Seokjin, smiling.
A burst of elation erupted in Jimin's chest. Just the thought that Seokjin wanted to spend time with him, learn about astrology from him, had his heart soaring. His lips parted to agree, when he remembered he already had plans. Reluctantly, he admitted, "I'd love to, hyung, but I'm supposed to meet Tae in an hour. So I've been trying to finish this as fast as I can."
A full, lower lip pushed out. "Oh, really? I've been wondering how it all works."
Jimin bit the inside of his cheek, fighting not to give in. He wondered if that lip tasted as sweet as it looked. Fuck. Focus, Jimin. "Sorry, hyung. Next time, I promise."
"If that's the way it is, I suppose there's nothing I can do," Seokjin replied, playful pout in place. "I just think it's interesting. Hoseok rolls his eyes at me sometimes, but the predictions are so accurate."
"I'm glad." Jimin smiled shyly, ducking his head a bit.
"I mean, especially lately. I wasn't always sure what they meant at first, but I started picking up clues here and there, you know? Like a little something different about what they were telling me." Seokjin's hand drifted over the desk, the tips of his fingers nudging the pages of Virgo's star chart.
Jimin had gone very still. He forced himself to laugh casually. "What do you mean, hyung?"
Bemused, Seokjin shrugged again and braced his hand on the desk as his eyes narrowed on the papers spread out, darting around as if trying to pick one out of the pile. "I feel kind of embarrassed saying it," he chuckled, shaking his head, "it felt like they were trying to tell me that my ‘soulmate’ was nearby. But I'm probably just reading too much into it, right?"
Jimin carefully set the pencil on the desk to keep from snapping it in two. Well, at least he knew the subliminal messaging had worked. It felt strange to be thrilled about that after he'd already decided to no longer include the horoscopes into his plan to win Seokjin's heart, but at least the cost to his integrity had actually produced results. "Well, it's up to interpretation, but that can happen."
Meanwhile, Seokjin had found the star chart for Sagittarius and tugged it to the edge so he could see better, but he looked away at Jimin's words, surprised. "Really? So it could be true?" His expression softened around the edges, growing warm and tentative and something ached inside Jimin's chest, as if his heart wanted to live in the wrinkles of Seokjin's smile. "I mean, it seemed strange given that we'd just met, but I don't know. I could kind of tell that we shared something special."
We? Shared something special?
Jimin heard the words as if from a great distance away, his heart kicking into overdrive. He knew he was staring openly at Seokjin, bewildered, his jaw on the floor. He scrambled to pull himself together, ecstatic energy sparking in his chest like fireworks. "I--"
"He's a little young for me, though. Jungkookie," Seokjin cooed under his breath with a small, fond smile.
It took a moment to sink in.
When it did, Jimin felt crushed. All of that giddy, euphoric energy suddenly wilted, gathering at the bottom of his stomach like a pool of lead. He sagged slightly against the back of his chair as his heart caught up to his head, horror and bone-deep disappointment clogging his throat until he felt almost sick. Jungkookie. He thought the horoscopes had been directing him to Jungkook.
"I didn't see it at first, but I think it was August's prediction? That told me to look out for fall colors, and well--I don't know if you can call black a fall color, but I guess I do. And then they said something special would be 'dancing' under my nose!" Seokjin's head tilted to the side, as if delighted by the connection. "And Jungkook is on the dance team with Hoseok! Oh, but you know that, don't you, Jimin." He waved his hand in the air. "Anyway, I thought that was a pretty curious coincidence."
The more he thought about it, yeah. The more it made sense. Really, the hints had been vague enough that they could apply to anyone, but--from Seokjin's point of view, he could see how that would make perfect sense. Serendipity.
Jimin thought he might throw up.
"Then that day we met on the hike, I was shocked! Who would've thought we'd run into you there? And after talking to him, I could see how much we had in common. Overwatch, exercise, music," he trailed off, sighing. He picked one of the sheets off the desk, inspecting it closely, before he seemed to realize that Jimin had not said a word for several minutes. "Jimin?"
Jimin licked his lips and waited until he was sure he wouldn't throw up that granola bar he'd had an hour ago to tide him over until dinner. He couldn't imagine wanting to eat anything for at least a week at this point. "Wow. That... That is pretty incredible." He'd never heard himself say something so insincere but couldn't bring himself to give a shit.
Fuck, he wanted to cry.
"I thought so." Seokjin was watching him from the corner of his eye. "I mean, the circumstances seemed perfect. Like the heavens had scripted the words themselves."
They had, in a way. Maybe this was the universe's punishment for sacrificing his integrity for self interest. Either way, Jimin regretted it. Oh, how he regretted it now.
"Looking back, there were really only two possibilities," sighed Seokjin. "Either Jungkook was my soulmate, which admittedly seemed plausible after I met him. Or maybe a certain astrologer was trying to get my attention."
It was as if the world had transitioned into slow motion.
Jimin turned toward him, at an utter loss. All thought had completely abandoned him.
A hand slid onto the back of his chair, the other braced on the desk as Seokjin bent a little deeper, his dark, whiskey sweet gaze boring into Jimin's with the intensity of a dragon bearing down on his hoard. A small, pointed smirk quirked the corner of his lips. "I didn't rise to the top of this university by being gullible, Jimin ah," he said in a soft voice, barely above a whisper.
Jimin swallowed thickly. In that moment, he couldn't tell whether he felt bewildered, terrified, or unbelievably turned on. All of the above, probably.
"Now, I don't appreciate my feelings being played with," he continued, his eyes flickering down to Jimin's throat with some heat. Heavens and stars above. "And especially my horoscopes. I need that shit to be accurate and reliable, Jimin ah--I depend on those. But I have to admit," he murmured, leaning impossibly closer. "There's something awfully sweet about someone writing their attraction for me in the stars."
"Hyung," he whispered, breathless.
"So...what are we going to do about this," he asked, the words brushing against Jimin's lips. "Give me another prediction, Jimin ah."
'This' ended up being Kim Seokjin kissing him so thoroughly that when Seulgi returned thirty minutes later, a steaming bag of jajangmyeon dangling from her arm that she'd brought back to share, it was to find a puddle of a human being oozing out of his desk chair and onto the floor, flushed and burning, half his existence already transcended onto the astral plane.
Pleased as punch, Seokjin licked his lips and placed a last, lingering kiss on his cheek before slipping a piece of paper into the pocket of his jacket. "If there's not a text inviting me out to that boba tea place by the time I get home, no more kisses until the fifth date," he informed Jimin, his smile crinkling perfectly at the corners of his eyes. With that and a small nod to Seulgi, he strode out of the club room.
"Woah," Seulgi breathed.
The puddle once known as Park Jimin echoed the sentiment.
"Do you...do you need me to call someone?"
As expected, this was a shining month for you, Libra. With the sun shedding its radiance into your harmonious sign, you will feel a burst of confidence, vibrancy, and excitement. Undaunted by the slow shifting of the seasons, your spirit will be bolstered by the company of friends, family and significant others. During this time, follow your instincts and watch as your initiative creates opportunities for growth and success in the future. Enjoy this time to the fullest and be appreciative of the path that has led you to this moment.
"Hyung, you have a leaf stuck to your butt."
"You would know, wouldn't you," he snorted. "How many times have you tripped because your eyes were on my ass?"
Jimin lunged forward and pinched the leaf between his fingers. Maybe they'd caught a bit of ass in between too. Giggling, he skirted around Seokjin as he made to turn around, jogging ahead of him on the forest path.
Seokjin squawked and tried to swat at him, a laugh breaking through the protests he shouted up the path after Jimin. "Hey! You--get back here, Jimin! Don't go so fast, hyung is tired!"
"Already?" He taunted back, grinning from beneath the bill of his borrowed pink baseball cap. "You seemed pretty energetic last night, hyung."
"You'd think you would be nicer to my ass, if you remember last night so well," he heard, the sulky grumble carried along the wind. "Give me a piggyback."
Jimin hiked up the slope with several powerful strides until he reached the opening of the path, his boots digging into the dirt. Seoul opened up beneath them once more, gleaming in the sun, sheltered in the shadow of Bukhansan. Taking a deep breath, Jimin closed his eyes and lifted his face to the crisp autumn breeze, his heart light. Basking in the sunlight, he grinned as another body buffeted his from behind and a chin propped on his shoulder, puffs of breath brushing against his collar.
They stood for a few moments, just swaying in the breeze as they caught their breath, before moseying toward the shadow of the trees and setting out their picnic. Jimin tugged a familiar checkered blanket from the front pocket of his bag and spread it out, the sides worn from frequent use. A hole had been burned into the fabric near the center of the blanket where they'd tried to set up a make-shift fire pit to roast meat on a previous camping trip. Seokjin stuck his finger through the hole with a reminiscent grin. At the time, he'd screamed loud enough to cause a flock of birds to flee the resounding area.
"Since this is a special occasion," said Jimin, his hands hidden in his backpack, "I brought a lo to eat."
"Don't promise me 'a lot' if you're going to disappoint me, Jimin," Seokjin sighed, his legs splayed out on the blanket. He pulled the edge of his shirt up and wiped the sweat from his neck, exposing those smooth, hard-won abs to the open air. Jimin paused to give them the appreciation they were due.
"I think after a year of dating, I've got an accurate understanding of your expectations," he quipped back, before pulling five stacked tupperware containers from the depths of his bag. He rearranged them on the blanket before pulling a water bottle out of the cooler compartment and handing it to him.
"Thank you," he sang and took a healthy swig before narrowing his eyes on the containers. "This seems like a suitable offering. Proceed."
Rolling his eyes fondly, Jimin snapped open the tops of the containers and waited, wondering if he'd recognize the menu inside. He didn't have to wait long.
"Oh, my Jimin ah," Seokjin cooed reaching over to pinch his cheek. "Ever the romantic at heart." He picked up a wedge of strawberry between his fingers and popped it in his mouth eagerly, moaning at the sweet, refreshing taste. His mouth still felt dry, so he'd probably wait on the kimbap, but the sheer amount of fruit Jimin had crammed into the containers should tide him over for a while.
He leaned over and planted a sticky kiss on his cheek, before hiding a smile. "I happened to think ahead as well," he said haughtily, before lifting an enormous thermos out of his bag and dropping it proudly on the blanket with a loud thud.
Beaming, Jimin asked, "Is that--"
"Watermelon nangmyeon, yes. Yes it is."
Giggling, they pulled the cutlery out and began picking their way through the food, talking about their weeks and catching up the way they couldn't during the week, when they returned to the apartment and collapsed on the bed together. Seokjin spent a couple minutes getting Jimin caught up on the latest gossip at his job, before listening to the latest going on at university and Jimin's experience as the newspaper editor. He opened his mouth obligingly when Jimin lifted a piece of pear to his lips, before returning the favor and falling a little more in love at the smile that earned him.
"Okay, this is--way too much food," Jimin said after a while, finally putting his chopsticks down on his plate and resting on his hands.
"No such thing," Seokjin countered, although even he'd begun to slow down.
"We should've invited the others again, like last year." Jimin thought about it for another second, before turning to him. "You think Yoongi hyung would come?"
Seokjin swallowed his bite of nangmyeon and snorted. "Not willingly, but if anyone could make him, it'd be those two."
"They finally picked out a flat," Jimin told him, knowing Seokjin often missed things in the group chat from the excessive number of memes that Jungkook and Taehyung tended to use. "Took them long enough to agree on one, but they finally did it."
"Oh? We should visit them before they have a chance to ruin every surface."
"Hyung, gross," Jimin wrinkled his nose.
"What? We did!" Seokjin laughed.