Namjoon was coming home.
“I mean, he’s just visiting, but this is his home,” Jungkook said to Jimin through the wall between their cubicles as he scrolled absently through his work email. “And he’s graduating in a few weeks so then he’ll really be coming home, he’s got a job lined up and everything.”
“Right,” said Jimin from the other side of the wall. “And what time does his flight get in? Which gate? Terminal? What’s his flight number? Passport ID?”
“He doesn’t need his passport, he’s not coming from another countr- hey.” Jungkook stood up from his chair and looked over the wall. He glared down at Jimin. “Don’t make fun, hyung.”
“I’m not making fun,” said Jimin, giving him a smile that was a little too sweet. Jungkook glared harder and Jimin’s smile turned crinkly around the eyes. “No, no, Kookie, I think it’s cute how excited you are to see your friend.”
Right. So maybe Jungkook had been talking about Namjoon’s visit since Namjoon had told him over a month ago that he’d booked his flight back to Seoul.
And maybe Jungkook had immediately put in a week of his carefully saved up vacation time for every day Namjoon would be here. Maybe he’d bought some of Namjoon’s favorite snacks and kept them in his apartment in case Namjoon was hungry after a long flight. Maybe he’d actually cleaned his apartment for once and made his bed even though Namjoon would kick his shoes off like a slob the second he walked through the door. Maybe he’d marked Namjoon’s arrival on his calendar and had been counting down the days. Perhaps hours. But no one needed to know.
“He’s one of my best friends,” Jungkook said.
“I know,” said Jimin, taking a sip of his Friday latte.
“You’d be excited too if you met him,” said Jungkook.
“I’m sure I would be,” Jimin said.
Jungkook brightened. “Hey, maybe you can come out with us at some point!”
Jimin’s smile was genuine this time. “Sure.” Then he wagged his eyebrows. “I hope he lives up to the hype.”
“Of course he will,” said Jungkook, turning his chin up slightly.
Maybe Jungkook idolized Namjoon a bit. Jungkook knew that, he was perfectly self aware, thank you very much. He knew Namjoon was also human. He got that wakeup call the first time Namjoon dropped Hoseok’s entire birthday cake on Jungkook’s favorite shoes.
Jungkook sat back down in his desk chair, but getting anything productive done was as good as hopeless. In nine hours, Namjoon would be here. In the same city as him after four long months, since New Year's. That was like, half a year. Almost. Almost half a year without Namjoon. Jungkook’s chest ached a little. Well, a lot. He hadn’t known that missing someone could be a physical pain until Namjoon left. But he was also happy Namjoon was out pursuing his dreams, even if it meant he had to be far away at a university across the country. It was complicated.
By four o’clock that afternoon, Jungkook was practically vibrating in his desk chair. He kept checking his phone, even though he knew Namjoon would be in the air by now and wouldn’t be texting him for another few hours.
“Just go,” said Jimin.
Jungkook looked up from refreshing his useless Twitter app for the trillionth time. No one he followed seemed to have anything to say, ever. “What?”
“You’re not even working. Just leave, I’ll cover for you.”
Jungkook set his phone down and grabbed his mouse. “I’m working.”
“You were on your phone. And now you’re just clicking randomly around your screen.” Jimin didn’t even look over the divide between them. Jungkook dropped his mouse. “We’ve got an hour left, no one’s going to come looking for you, and if they do I’ll just say you’re getting a snack or something.”
Jungkook stood up. He glanced around the office from their little corner. Nearly half their coworkers were gone, anyway. “You’re sure?”
Jimin looked up at him. He rolled his eyes. “Yes. Go!”
Jungkook broke into a grin. “You’re the best, hyung.” He grabbed his phone and his jacket. “I sent you the list of what to cover for me next week-”
“Like two days ago, yeah, I have it and I already started it because I’m the best coworker you’ve ever had,” said Jimin. He made a shooing motion with his hand. “Go, your anxious energy is infecting the air and I don’t want it.”
“Yeah, alright,” Jungkook said. “I’ll text you about hanging out, okay?”
“Yeah, and you owe me a drink for all this extra labor,” said Jimin.
“Sure, of course, bye hyung,” Jungkook said, shrugging on his coat. “See you next Thursday!”
“Bye, Kookie,” said Jimin. “Give Namjoon a big kiss for me!”
“Just go,” Jimin said, and kicked at him from around the divide.
Jungkook dodged his foot and shuffled away. Namjoon would be home soon, and he didn’t have to work for the next week. For the first time in a while, Jungkook felt like everything was perfect.
hyung!!! text me when you land!
Hey Kook-ah, I forgot to tell you, I’m here!
Yeah got an earlier flight, I got here last night
Jungkook stared down at his phone. Namjoon was here? Had been in the city for a day already and Jungkook hadn’t even known?
you should have texted me hyung!!
Got in late
I’m with Hobi and Yoongi-hyung, want to come out with us?
Jungkook answered in the affirmative, and Namjoon responded with the time and place, and then Jungkook put his phone down, staring around his clean, empty living room. Was Namjoon staying with Hoseok and Yoongi? They’d never really discussed where Namjoon would be staying, but every time before it had been at Jungkook’s.
But it was fine, Namjoon could do whatever he wanted. And Jungkook would be seeing him tonight. Jungkook just wanted to see him.
He changed out of his starchy work clothes and threw on some black jeans and a black t-shirt, and shrugged on his black coat. He glanced at the mirror. Namjoon always liked to make fun of him for wearing so much black, but Jungkook argued that Namjoon wore enough color for the both of them. Black was just nice.
He took a short train ride downtown, leaving a bit earlier than he really needed to, but there wasn’t anything else for him to do but hang around and wait at his apartment, so he figured he’d hang around and wait at the bar.
The night was cool, still a bit wintery for early April, but the sky was staying brighter longer and the weather had been sunnier as of late. Jungkook stepped onto the train that would take him downtown, lights blurring past in yellows and golds against the hushed blue sky as he stared at the window, leaning against the handrail.
As expected, the others weren’t there when he arrived, so he snagged a table near the back and texted Namjoon that he was there. He ordered a drink and some food because he hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and he ate and drank slowly so that it would last until the others arrived.
He was nearly finished when he heard his name, and when he looked up, Jung Hoseok was grinning at him.
“Jungkook!” Hoseok darted over and pulled him into a hug so tight Jungkook nearly fell off of his stool. Then he punched him on the shoulder. “I haven’t seen you in ages. Where have you been?”
“Working, mostly,” said Jungkook, rubbing his shoulder. He hadn’t realized Hoseok had missed him.
Jungkook looked around Hoseok, because there was Namjoon, hair a blonde that was rapidly fading to brown, brushed over his forehead in a loose curl. Jungkook wondered if it was intentional or a lucky accident by the wind. Namjoon was smiling, smiling at Jungkook big enough to reveal his dimples, and Jungkook suddenly felt all the nervous excitement that had been stored up over the past four months since they had last seen each other.
Jungkook slipped out of his chair without thinking, wanting- wanting. Namjoon was here and Jungkook had waited so long and it didn’t even matter that Namjoon had gotten here early and forgotten to tell him.
Jungkook squeezed past Hoseok and pulled Namjoon into a hug. Neither of them were as exuberantly affectionate as Hoseok, but Jungkook didn’t need to be loud. He felt Namjoon’s arms come up around his back, and it was the warmth and familiarity Jungkook had been craving for weeks.
Being away from his best friend was hard.
“Hyung, I missed you,” Jungkook said, holding on until Namjoon pulled away first.
He laughed. “I missed you too.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you got here yesterday?” he asked. So much for not caring about that.
“Ah, sorry, Jungkook-ah,” said Namjoon. He reached up to rub at the back of his neck. “I got in late and I didn’t want to bug you.”
“But you didn’t care about bugging us?” said Yoongi, sliding into the chair across from Jungkook’s, looking amused. He nodded a greeting at Jungkook.
“You’re always up till, like, four in the morning,” said Namjoon. Yoongi shrugged.
“I wouldn’t have minded,” Jungkook said, because he wouldn’t have. He didn’t stay up until four in the morning, but Namjoon knew he was a night owl.
Namjoon gave him a smile. “I know.”
Then why didn’t you call me? Jungkook wanted to ask, but he didn’t. It wasn’t that big of a deal. Namjoon was here now and that’s what mattered.
“Can we order now?” Yoongi said. “Namjoon, you owe me a drink for barging in on us at midnight on a Thursday.”
“And me,” Hoseok piped up.
“You didn’t even wake up,” said Namjoon. He looked at Jungkook. “I woke him up this morning, you should have seen his face.”
“I wouldn’t have screamed if you hadn’t tripped over the lamp cord and fallen on top of me,” said Hoseok, crossing his arms. “You definitely owe me a drink for that.”
That did sound fair. “Yeah, fine,” said Namjoon.
“May as well get Jungkook a drink, too,” said Yoongi.
Namjoon rolled his eyes. “You guys all have well-paying jobs and I’m still a broke student, this isn’t fair.”
None of them objected as Namjoon made his way over to the bar.
“So what’s up, Jungkook?” Yoongi asked. Jungkook had always liked his style. He also wore lots of black.
“Do you still work at that magazine?” Hoseok asked him.
Jungkook nodded. “Yeah, nearly for a year, now.” He and Jimin were the underdogs of the marketing department, toiling away in their little design corner.
“That’s cool,” said Yoongi, and Jungkook felt pleased. He’d been familiar with Yoongi and Hoseok since Namjoon had befriended them when he was an undergrad, but that’s what they were, mostly- Namjoon’s friends. They’d always felt a little too cool for Jungkook. Then again, Namjoon himself had always felt too cool for Jungkook.
Namjoon returned with the drinks, slipping into the seat beside Yoongi – diagonal from Jungkook – and Hoseok took the seat next to Jungkook.
Jungkook had forgotten how much he liked Yoongi and Hoseok. Even though they were older, and cooler, they were nice, and they always included him and genuinely seemed to like him, and Jungkook decided he’d make a point to reach out to them more often.
But as much as he liked them, and as much fun as he was having at the bar with them, a part of him was eager to hang out with Namjoon alone. He wanted to catch up, for real, in person. But it was only Namjoon’s first – second – night, and he was here for the week, and he knew they would have time.
It was beginning to get late and the day’s fatigue was beginning to catch up to Jungkook when Hoseok gave an enormous yawn and Yoongi said, “Let’s head back, yeah?”
They put on their coats and headed out to the cold sidewalk, and as they made their way to the train Jungkook realized that Namjoon would be going back with Hoseok and Yoongi.
Jungkook fell into step with Namjoon. “Hyung,” he said, “are you staying with Hoseok-hyung and Yoongi-hyung the whole week?”
Namjoon shrugged, headlights from a passing car briefly illuminating his face. “All my stuff’s there, so I think so.”
He supposed he’d expected that to be the answer, but a sinking disappointment slowly spread out from his chest. He would just have to bring all those snacks over to Yoongi and Hoseok’s place, he guessed.
“Hey, how’s work going?” Namjoon asked. “You and your friend still stuck in those little corner cubicles?”
“Jimin?” Jungkook said, looking up from his feet. “Yeah, but it’s not so bad. Hey, I told Jimin he could come out with us one night this week. I want him to meet you.”
“Yeah, that’d be great,” said Namjoon, smiling at him, and some of the feeling returned to Jungkook’s chest. “I’ve heard so much about him.”
“When do you want to go out again?” Jungkook asked, sidestepping a grate in the sidewalk. “Tomorrow?”
“Going to see my family tomorrow, actually,” said Namjoon. “But maybe I’ll be back before it’s too late? I can text you.”
“Oh. Okay,” Jungkook said. But it was fine. They still had a whole week before Namjoon went back next Saturday.
The four of them rode the same train until the other three had to switch to get to Yoongi and Hoseok’s place, and Namjoon parted ways with a fist bump and a promise to see him later, maybe Sunday.
And then Jungkook was alone again, streetlights blurring past the windows against a black sky, on his way back to a very clean, very empty apartment.
But it was okay, it was fine. Namjoon was here. There would be more time to spend together later.
Jungkook loved living alone, most of the time.
He liked being able to play video games at all hours of the night without bugging anyone, he liked that he could control how loud or quiet the place got, he liked being able to walk around naked if he wanted to. Not that Taehyung had minded any of these things when they were roommates in university a few years back.
But sometimes when you expected to have plans, to go out somewhere or have someone over, and then suddenly you didn't, a one-person apartment could feel like a very weird, empty place. Especially when it was unnaturally clean.
Jungkook hadn’t anticipated finding himself with no plans on this particular Saturday. But sometimes plans didn’t go according to plan. Especially when they hadn’t really been planned in the first place.
But Jungkook was happy that Namjoon got to spend time with his family. He knew that he saw so little of them, and that he often missed his parents and his sister. It wasn’t as if Jungkook had expected Namjoon to spend every waking moment with him.
He flopped back on his couch and pulled out his phone.
i thought namjoon hyung was here this week?
he’s with his family today
pls i’m bored let’s play overwatch
you assume i’m not already doing something important
you’re probably playing overwatch right now
what if i was grocery shopping
what if i was on a date
the grocery shopping or the date
it’s one of those dates where we grocery shop together
then go home and make a fabulous pasta
while drinking expensive wine
hyung i have snacks
see u in 15
So maybe Jungkook didn’t envision himself playing seven hours of video games with Taehyung on the first Saturday of Namjoon’s visit, but it was better than spending it alone, and at least now his apartment was working its way back to its natural state of disarray.
“You were right, I wasn’t on a fancy grocery shopping date,” Taehyung said after five Fruit by the Foots. He laid spread-eagled on Jungkook’s living room floor, game controller in hand. “I don’t even like wine.”
“I know you don’t,” Jungkook said, and patted his ankle.
“Maybe one day I’ll have a boyfriend who likes to drink fancy wine.” Taehyung sighed. “He won’t even have to share, he can have it all for himself.”
Taehyung must have had another bout of bad online dating recently. Jungkook should have known better than to let him eat so much sugar. “Hyung.”
“It never works out, Kookie,” Taehyung said. “I think I’m too forward.”
“You just know what you want,” said Jungkook.
“Too strong and independent for my own good,” Taehyung sighed again, sadly. “But also too clingy, I guess. That’s what the last guy said. That I was too physically clingy. He didn’t like cuddling that much.”
“You’ll find someone who likes independence and your full body hugs, hyung,” Jungkook said. All these guys who rejected Taehyung didn’t deserve him, anyway, if they couldn’t see the extraordinary amount of love Taehyung had in him to give.
“Okay,” said Taehyung, and he grabbed another bag of sour gummies.
Jungkook’s phone pinged. Normally he set it to vibrate, but-
“Oh, it’s Namjoon,” Jungkook said, like he hadn’t been waiting for a text from him for the last two hours, at least.
“Ugh, lucky. You don’t have to worry about any of this stuff.”
“What stuff?” Jungkook said absently, opening the text.
“Jungkook, are you serious right now-”
“He can’t meet up,” Jungkook said, disappointment washing over him all over again. “He’s staying over at his parent’s house tonight.” He tossed his phone back on the couch.
Taehyung poked at him with his controller. “You’ve still got like, six whole days left to spend with him.”
“I know,” Jungkook said. Six days was still a lot. “I just really wanted to introduce him and Jimin.”
“And what about me? Am I too slovenly to meet this prince you work with?”
Jungkook kicked him. “You can meet Jimin, too.”
“I don’t even know if I want to, now,” said Taehyung. “He’ll probably just be too starstruck by Namjoon.”
Taehyung flicked a gummy at his face, so Jungkook retaliated by trying to lasso him with a Fruit Rollup.
It probably wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to know that when Jungkook first met Namjoon, he was starstruck.
Jungkook was in his first year of high school and Namjoon was in his fourth, and Jungkook was shy and awkward and had no friends and his mother told him, “Just join a club,” as if it was that easy.
The thing was, Jungkook liked a lot of things. He liked to try a lot of things. He’d made his way through a lot of hobbies already, and he had only been fifteen.
He thought maybe he’d try the drawing club, or the film club, which just watched movies all the time. Perhaps the comic book club. Singing club? Maybe photography. He’d considered the baking club,l but he heard that they kicked out anyone who was only there to eat.
He hadn’t considered the wildlife club. He had nothing against animals; he even had a dog. But to, like, sit around discussing deer and squirrels and bees? Maybe actually go out in nature and see them? Not interested.
That is, until he heard Kim Namjoon rapping about crabs in the middle of the school courtyard.
Jungkook had never been particularly into rap, or crabs, at least, not until that moment. But by the way Namjoon stood so confidently, releasing his flow of words with such clarity and speed and rhythm that Jungkook later wished he’d recorded it so he could listen to it again, and again, and again, it was all he could do not to join the wildlife club right then and there, if it meant he got to hear more of this. If it meant that he potentially had the chance to befriend this guy with such an incredible talent.
And so Jungkook picked the wildlife club, which he learned, upon showing up for the first meeting, was headed by Kim Namjoon himself. And it turned out that deer and squirrels and bees were a lot more interesting than he’d thought, and Namjoon did become his friend. Jungkook had shyly asked him where he’d learned to rap that very first day, and Namjoon responded with such kindness and enthusiasm it was hard not to fall for him right away.
Not that- Jungkook had fallen for him. Well, he had. In a friend way. Which is to say, they became fast friends.
“You’re good at this, Jungkookie!” Namjoon had said, impressed, when Jungkook had given rapping a try for the first time. Jungkook had flushed with warmth.
But it was tough, having a good friend who was always three years ahead of you. Namjoon graduated high school first, and walking around with the nature club hoping to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird wasn’t nearly as magical without his wonder. Then they shared one year of university together before Namjoon was out in the real world. And then Jungkook graduated and was thrown out into the real world, and Namjoon moved across the country to get a fancy master’s degree.
But they’d always stayed close. They had always managed to stay close.
And they would continue to stay close, even if Namjoon was staying with other people and hanging out with people who weren’t him. That was fine.
Jungkook just missed him. Like he’d been thirsty for months and had only gotten a sip when he was promised a whole bottle.
But there were still six days left of Namjoon’s visit.
Jungkook finally saw Namjoon again on Sunday night when Hoseok texted him to come over to watch a movie with them.
Jungkook supposed it was natural that Hoseok invite him to his own place, not Namjoon. Jungkook hadn’t been there in ages, so he had to ask Hoseok what his address was, and it wasn’t too far from the café Jimin worked at part-time so he could pay off his school loans faster.
He didn’t bother asking if he could bring Jimin along, though, still intent on a proper night out to invite him to (and introduce him to Namjoon and Taehyung, as promised). Jungkook showed up right after the pizza did. He had already eaten dinner – some half-assed salad only because Namjoon liked healthy stuff and he couldn’t let it go to waste – but there was always room for pizza.
“I accidentally ordered more pizza than three people could eat so I thought, hey, why not invite Jungkookie?” said Hoseok, flipping open the pizza boxes.
Oh. Well, it was a valid reason to invite him. “I can always help with pizza,” said Jungkook.
“One time in high school Jungkook ate an entire pizza in seven minutes,” said Namjoon, walking over from the living room. He had a soft hoodie and some sweatpants on, hair flat and unbrushed over his forehead. Jungkook wondered if he’d done anything today.
“Was it a dare?” Yoongi asked, passing out plates.
“I just wanted to see if I could,” said Jungkook.
“Admirable,” said Hoseok. “If a bit horrifying.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” said Jungkook. “I’d eaten an entire pizza before that, I just wanted to see if I could do it in less than ten minutes.”
“I like that,” said Yoongi. He pointed at him with a slice of pizza in hand. “You don’t waste time wondering. You just do it.”
Jungkook had never really considered it that way. “Thanks.”
Namjoon patted him on the back. “And he only had like, one stomach cramp.”
“I should have tried two pizzas,” Jungkook said thoughtfully. He eyed the extra pizza Hoseok had ordered.
“Yeah, maybe another time,” Hoseok said, shutting the box. “No one’s throwing up in my apartment.”
Mission aborted, they settled into the living room to watch that movie, a superhero one Jungkook had seen at least five times before. He didn’t mind, though. The pizza was tasty and Yoongi had gotten out some beers and Namjoon was sitting next to him on the couch, close enough that Jungkook could feel his body heat, and he felt a semblance of yes, this is nice, this is something I’ve been waiting for.
The movie wasn’t even half over before Hoseok passed out on Yoongi’s shoulder, and it wasn’t long after that before Yoongi fell under, too. For some reason, it made Jungkook begin to feel antsy. Namjoon was still awake beside him, slowly making his way through a beer as the light from the television flashed across his face, and they had both seen this movie before.
Jungkook kicked at Namjoon’s foot.
Namjoon looked up at him.
“We’ve seen this before,” Jungkook said in a low voice.
“So? I thought you liked this movie. You have the toothbrush,” said Namjoon.
Of course Jungkook had the toothbrush, because it was a good movie. “Yeah, but I’ve seen it like, ten times.”
“Oh. Do you want to go home?”
Jungkook suddenly wanted to pull his hair out. “No .”
Namjoon looked at him. “Okay…?”
Jungkook had never been the best at expressing his thoughts. But one of the reasons he appreciated Namjoon was because he’d always been patient with him. He always helped him piece together his thoughts, or waited until he found his words. But for some reason, this felt different.
“I just mean,” said Jungkook, looking away. He picked at a thread on the couch, “we haven’t really hung out yet.”
“Aren’t we hanging out right now?”
Jungkook looked at him. Was Namjoon being purposely obtuse about this? No, he couldn’t be. But he really couldn’t have missed that they hadn't really hung out yet, could he have?
“I mean,” said Jungkook, tugging harder at the thread. “You know, just us.”
“Oh,” said Namjoon. “Of course we can hang out just us.”
It was what Jungkook wanted, but a strange sinking feeling suddenly overtook him. It was like Namjoon hadn’t even considered that they might hang out together, just them. Jungkook knew that normally they didn’t have to carve out time like this, because Namjoon normally stayed at his place and they had all the time they needed at his apartment, watching TV or playing video games or eating midnight snacks or staying up late enough for their conversations to get existential like Namjoon liked. But Namjoon had stayed somewhere else this time.
“I mean,” Jungkook said, suddenly weirdly insecure, “if you want to.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to?” said Namjoon, and he playfully pulled the hood of Jungkook’s sweatshirt over his head and ruffled his hair.
Relief washed over Jungkook, and he only basked in Namjoon’s touch for a second longer than necessary before he yanked himself back. “Because I’m so much cooler than you, you’re probably intimidated.”
“Pfft,” said Namjoon. He folded his arms.
“When can we hang out, then?” Jungkook asked. “Tomorrow?”
“Actually, I’m going to a gig downtown tomorrow,” Namjoon said, and grinned. “You know the one that was sold out? I managed to buy two tickets off of someone on Twitter. Yoongi’s coming with me.”
“Oh.” Jungkook liked gigs. “That’s great, hyung. What about-”
“And I know you work in the day.”
“Ah. Well, actually, hyung-”
“The movie’s over already?”
Jungkook and Namjoon looked up at Hoseok groggy voice. Jungkook hadn’t even noticed the credits were rolling on the television as Hoseok and Yoongi untangled themselves.
“Good movie,” Yoongi said, voice rough and low and half-asleep. “Love that ending. So sad.”
“It’s not a sad ending, hyung,” said Namjoon, laughing at him.
“Whatever,” Yoongi said. He hadn’t even opened his eyes. “I’m going to bed.” He shuffled off down the hall.
“Sorry for falling asleep, guys,” Hoseok said, stretching. He began to gather their empty plates and Namjoon leapt up to help him.
Wait, Jungkook wanted to say, clutching his hands together. Wait, I have the whole week off just for you.
But suddenly the thought of saying that out loud struck him as highly embarrassing, because Namjoon had other things to do.
He stood up quietly, shuffling over to where his shoes sat neatly lined near the door.
He could hear Hoseok and Namjoon’s laughter drifting from the kitchen as he struggled with untangling the laces on his left sneaker. It was okay, it was fine. Namjoon had things to do. Namjoon had other friends. Namjoon had gigs to go to and family to visit and Hoseok and Yoongi’s couch to sleep on. Jungkook should have expected this. He’d been silly not to.
“Kookie?” Hoseok peeked his head down the hall. “Hey, you can’t leave without saying goodbye.”
Jungkook stood up. “I was just putting my shoes on.”
“Here, take some pizza,” Hoseok said, and he walked over with a Tupperware of slices.
“Thank you, hyung,” Jungkook said, taking it carefully into his hands. Hoseok was sweet.
“Don’t eat it all at once,” said Namjoon, popping out of the kitchen behind him.
“We’ll see you again before Namjoon leaves, right?” said Hoseok, and before Jungkook could answer, could comprehend that this felt like a weirdly final goodbye, added, “And after, right?” he narrowed his eyes slightly. “Don’t hide from us, Jungkook. I’ll order more pizza and force you to eat it.”
“I have no problem with that,” Jungkook said, and suddenly, humiliatingly, he felt a telltale pressure behind his eyes at Hoseok being so adamant about seeing him again. He blinked and looked away.
“Safe trip home, Jungkookie,” said Hoseok. He pulled the strings of Jungkook’s sweatshirt so that his hood scrunched tight around his face. “Stay warm!”
“Bye, Kook-ah,” said Namjoon, and Jungkook’s chest froze, because wait-
“Namjoon,” he said. “About hanging out-”
“We’ll figure it out,” said Namjoon.
Jungkook wanted to figure it out right now, needed to make sure they had a time and a date and a plan because even though Namjoon still had five days left, Jungkook had the awful sensation of time slipping through his fingers.
But all he said was, “Okay.”
He slipped into the hall and let the apartment door shut behind him.
Jungkook woke up too early on Monday, like his body knew he was supposed to be at work. He stayed in bed an extra three hours scrolling through his phone and when he finally did get up, he ate all of the pizza Hoseok had given him the night before.
Then, because he felt so pathetic that he couldn’t even bring himself to text Taehyung to do something when he got out of work, he went to the gym.
He knew he could have texted Namjoon. His show wasn’t until the evening and Jungkook could have said hyung, actually, I’m home all day, do you want to come over? He took his phone out a few times to do it, but he couldn’t bring himself to actually type the words. Namjoon was probably busy again, and Jungkook didn’t know if he could bear another no.
Weary and exhausted after running eight miles and doing three arm workouts, he instead texted, hyung, are you free tomorrow?
Meeting up with some university friends I haven’t seen in ages, maybe Wednesday???
Jungkook had kind of expected it, but the disappointment sunk heavy in his chest, taking what was left of his energy with it.
Silently, he slid his phone into his gym bag and tugged the hood of his sweatshirt low over his eyes as he left the gym.
Jimin did a double take.
“ Jungkook?” he said on Tuesday morning, when Jungkook had strolled to his cubicle at nine o’clock sharp. “What are you doing here?”
“Working,” Jungkook said. He didn’t want to talk about it. He sat down in his chair, and Jimin stood up to look at him over the wall.
“But what about your friend? Namjoon? Did he not end up coming? I saw you posted that picture of him at that bar on Friday night,” Jimin said, puzzling it out like he was some sort of detective all of the sudden.
“He came,” Jungkook said shortly. He turned on his computer. He probably didn’t have that many missed emails from just one day. “He’s just busy.”
Jimin was frowning. “Did you get in a fight?”
“No,” Jungkook said.
“So why aren’t you hanging out with him? Why are you here?”
Jungkook finally looked at him. “I told you, he’s busy.”
“Busy with what?” Jimin asked.
“I don’t know,” Jungkook said, growing irritated. He typed his password into his computer. “Stuff. People.”
“So you just decided to come into work?” Jimin said.
“Obviously, hyung,” said Jungkook.
Jimin was quiet. Jungkook could hear him thinking. Trying to figure it out. Jungkook wasn’t going to help him. He didn’t want to think about it.
“Jungkook,” he said again, quieter, like maybe if he was soft Jungkook would confide all his secrets in him.
“It’s fine, hyung,” Jungkook said. “There’s nothing wrong. I’m fine.”
“Alright,” Jimin said, though his tone told Jungkook he didn’t believe him. Whatever.
They worked in silence for the first hour, perhaps because Jimin could sense Jungkook needed space, until Jungkook felt a balled up sticky note hit the side of his face.
“I already finished half of that nature project for you. If I’d known you were going to come back so fast I wouldn’t have bothered,” Jimin said, resting his chin on the top of the divider.
“That’s okay,” Jungkook said. “You can finish it, if you like.”
Jimin threw another sticky note at him. “Jerk.”
It got a smile out of Jungkook, at least, and Jimin looked satisfied. “Hey, let’s get lunch, my treat.”
They always got lunch together. “You don’t have to pay for me, hyung.”
Jimin shrugged. “Just let me, Kookie.”
So Jungkook did. Because even though he wasn’t saying much, Jimin was perceptive and kind and he could tell that Jungkook wasn’t happy about something, and he’d probably gathered that it was about Namjoon because he was smart. And, because he was also nosy, he was trying to butter Jungkook up for more questions.
“What do you mean, he’s busy?”
Jungkook sighed. He was tired and ready for this day to be over, even though it was better than staying home all day and wasting perfectly good vacation time doing nothing.
“I mean he has other things to do this week, hyung,” Jungkook said, stabbing at his pork. “Things that don’t involve me.”
“He said that?” Jimin said, frowning.
“He didn’t have to say it.” Jungkook really didn’t want to talk about this. It only made the hole in his chest hollower. “I’m just his dongsaeng. He has better things to do.”
“You’re not just his dongsaeng,” Jimin said.
“You’ve never even met Namjoon, how can you know?” Jungkook said, rolling his eyes.
“The way you’ve talked about him, about your relationship with him, that can’t be true,” said Jimin, like it was a fact. “You told me he’s one of your best friends. You text him every day. You Skype him every week. You’re not just some dongsaeng, Kookie.”
Jungkook stared down at his food, a terrible ache - a creeping, horrifying mortification - slowly building in his chest. “Probably because I’m so eager for it.” Who’d initiated most texts these past few weeks? Who’d set up the Skype calls? Who took vacation days and cleaned his apartment like it was a five-star hotel for someone who clearly had better places to be but was too nice to say so? How had he never seen it before? He was like a puppy, trailing around his cool, older friend who was too nice to tell him he didn’t want him.
Jimin reached across the table, aware of how his statement had backfired. “No, Jungkookie-”
Jungkook no longer had an appetite. He didn’t want to eat anything ever again. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” he said. He pushed his plate away, blinking away the familiar pressure behind his eyes. “Please, hyung. I don’t want to.”
Jimin looked like he might say something else, but instead he just closed his mouth, nodding. “Okay,” he said. “But Kookie, whatever this is, it doesn’t sound like it’s you, okay? It’s something to do with him.”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.” Jungkook’s chest was tight. He wanted to go back to the office. He wanted to go home. He was so humiliated. No wonder Namjoon didn’t want to hang out with him. He was pathetic.
Mercifully, Jimin started talking about the project he’d started for Jungkook, and Jungkook let his voice wash over his ears and drown out his thoughts.
Namjoon didn’t text him that day, or Wednesday. And as much as Jungkook wasn’t surprised, he felt as if his lungs were slowly filling up with sand and he didn’t know how to stop it.
Clearly Namjoon didn’t care about seeing him any more than he already had. And every time he thought about it, every time he looked at his blank phone and was reminded of it, the sand scraped against the inside of his chest, at the sensitive tissue surrounding his heart.
He went to work as normal, and while Jimin didn’t bring Namjoon up again, Jungkook could tell he was waiting for something.
But there was nothing else to say.
hey hyung!! do you want your tupperware back?? that stuff’s expensive
KOOKIE! Aw you’re sweet. Yeah I’ll take it back but whenever!
i can bring it by on my way to the gym rn
You really don’t have to go out of your way, but you’re always free to stop by kook :D
okay i’ll be there in 10!
It wasn’t about Namjoon. It was about Hoseok’s Tupperware.
That’s what Jungkook told himself the entire train ride over, clutching his gym bag to his chest with his only good reason to stop by Yoongi and Hoseok’s apartment. Not that he needed one. He was just returning the Tupperware. That stuff was expensive.
It was Thursday night. Namjoon was leaving Saturday. Not that that meant anything, because they hadn’t spoken, really, since they’d watched that movie on Sunday.
Hoseok greeted him with a big smile when he opened his door.
Jungkook’s smile felt pasted on his face.
Hoseok ushered him inside, even though he didn’t need to stay for anything. He pulled the Tupperware out of his bag. “It’s clean and everything.”
“Aw, thanks Kook,” said Hoseok. He pinched his cheek. “Do you want something to drink? A snack? Namjoon bought all these weird fruit gummies.”
“I’m okay,” Jungkook said. He glanced around. “Is, ah- is Namjoon here?”
Hoseok was reaching up into the cupboard. “No, he’s out somewhere. Not sure who with, that guy has so many friends.” He turned around to roll his eyes at Jungkook, a pack of gummies in hand, but froze when he met his eyes. “Jungkook?”
“Oh,” Jungkook said. Right. Of course. Always busy. Always busy with people.
“Hey,” Hoseok said, voice going soft, as he reached out and put his hand on Jungkook’s arm. “Hey, Jungkook- oh. Oh, did he tell you?”
A look of such sympathy came over Hoseok’s face that Jungkook grew inexplicably frightened. Tell him? Tell him what? Had he confided in Hoseok that he didn’t want to be friends with Jungkook anymore? That he was tired of Jungkook trailing after him, texting him all hours of the day, begging him to hang out, bothering him?
“Tell me what?” he asked, scared to have the answer, yet stricken with the need for it.
“You know, about Seokjin?” Hoseok said. He squeezed his arm gently.
Jungkook blinked. “Who’s Seokjin?”
Hoseok blinked back, and then his eyes widened. He clapped a hand to his mouth.
“Wait,” Jungkook said, a worse, more terrible dread washing over him and turning him cold. “Wait, who’s Seokjin?”
“Um,” Hoseok said behind his hand.
Yoongi chose that moment to wander into the kitchen. He looked pleasantly surprised to see Jungkook there. “Hey, Jungkook.”
Jungkook whirled on him. “Who’s Seokjin?”
Yoongi blinked rapidly.
“Seokjin’s no one,” Hoseok said, lowering his hand. “We don’t know anyone named Seokjin, right hyung?”
“No, but Namjoon does,” Yoongi said without a thought. He froze and looked at Jungkook, like he’d just revealed something he wasn’t supposed to. That he probably wasn't supposed to. “Um. I mean.”
“Just tell me,” Jungkook said, because if he didn’t find out right this moment he was going to combust. “Who is Seokjin?”
“Ah,” said Hoseok, running his hand over his face. “Namjoon should be the one to tell you.”
“Well, he’s not here,” said Jungkook, losing patience. “And he hasn’t told me anything. And obviously he’s not going to if he’s had all week.” He felt his hands beginning to shake.
Hoseok and Yoongi exchanged a look. Finally, Hoseok sighed. He looked back at Jungkook.
“Seokjin…is this guy,” he started.
“Yes, I gathered that much,” said Jungkook.
“He’s this guy Namjoon knows,” Hoseok said. He held up his hands when Jungkook opened his mouth to say something impatient again. “Okay, okay. Jungkook, Seokjin is this guy Namjoon’s kind of been seeing at school.”
It was as if the room had suddenly been drained of oxygen. Jungkook’s vision tilted.
“Nothing serious!” Hoseok said quickly, because there must have been something showing on Jungkook’s face. “Just this guy who’s been like, showing interest in him. Namjoon’s not sure about it. They’ve only gone out a few times.”
It was as if the sand in Jungkook’s lungs had turned to ice and was slowly spreading to each of his limbs, turning them numb. He set a trembling hand on the counter. “Oh.”
“Um. There’s more,” said Hoseok, and he glanced at Yoongi again, like whatever he had to say next he really, really didn’t want to say to Jungkook’s face. Was Namjoon sure about going out with this guy? Was it serious now? What could be worse?
“But Seokjin- he asked Namjoon if, well, if he’d be interested in staying in the area after graduation. Work on making it more official. Take it slow, because like I said, Namjoon’s on the fence, but, you know, he wants them to take a step forward. That’s why Namjoon came back here a day early. He was kind of in a crisis about it.” Hoseok sounded almost solemn, sensitive, like he was speaking to someone at a funeral.
Jungkook’s ears were ringing.
He looked from Hoseok to Yoongi, as if he might reveal that this whole thing was some cruel, terrible, singularly awful prank. But Yoongi was just frowning.
Jungkook couldn’t breathe.
“I- have to go,” he said.
“Jungkook-” Hoseok said behind him as he fled the kitchen, and he felt Yoongi grab at his sleeve, but Jungkook didn’t want to hear any more.
By the time he stumbled out onto the sidewalk, shivering far more violently than the outside temperature accounted for, tears were already beginning to blur his vision.
Of course Namjoon was seeing someone. How could Namjoon not be seeing someone? He couldn’t blame this Seokjin guy for asking Namjoon to stay with him. Jungkook would, if-
But it didn’t matter, Jungkook thought to himself as he wiped at his face with the back of his sleeve and pulled his hood down over his eyes. It didn’t matter. He didn’t matter. Namjoon was always too good for him, and Jungkook had always idolized him a little too much. He was perfectly self aware, thank you very much.
He didn’t give any thought about going to the gym, and he slipped onto the first train home.
The next morning, Jimin had barely greeted him with a cheery “Good morning, Jungkookie!” when Jungkook felt his face begin to crumple.
“Oh-” Jimin said, freezing in the middle of his cubicle, his usual Friday latte in hand. “Jungkook, do you- I think you need some air.”
Jimin quickly and quietly ushered him out of the office and into the elevator, and Jungkook managed to hold it in until they stepped into the lobby.
“Actually, bathroom first,” Jimin said, steering him into the single person bathroom and locking the door behind both of them.
“The receptionist is going to talk about how we both went in here at the same time,” Jungkook said, and burst into tears.
Jimin was already bunching up some toilet paper. “Let her talk, it’ll give her boring workday some excitement,” he said, and reached up to dab at Jungkook’s face.
He let Jungkook cry it out for a few minutes, drying his eyes and patting his face, and Jungkook was embarrassed but he was also grateful. He’d spent all night crying about it alone.
Jimin pulled away after a few minutes, tossing the damp tissue into the toilet. He peered up at Jungkook, eyes gentle and full of very real concern. “Jungkook, what happened?”
Jungkook sniffled. “Namjoon’s seeing someone,” he said, voice clogged and muffled. His face was disgustingly puffy and he avoided glancing at the mirror.
Jimin’s face fell, so sad and sympathetic that Jungkook felt even more embarrassed. “Oh, Kookie.”
“It’s fine,” Jungkook said automatically, wiping at his eyes. “It’s just- he never told me, and this guy asked him to stay with him at school, on the other side of the country. Namjoon might not even be coming back after graduation and he never even told me.” His eyes welled with tears again.
Jimin clucked his tongue sympathetically, and he reached up to dab at Jungkook’s eyes again. “I’m so sorry, Kook.”
“It’s okay,” Jungkook heard himself say again.
“It’s not,” said Jimin, gently. “If it was okay you wouldn’t be in here like this. And it’s okay that you’re not okay about it.”
Jungkook let out a tiny sob, which was embarrassing. “I wish he told me. I wish- I wish I didn’t-”
“I know,” Jimin murmured.
Jungkook wrapped his arms around the front of his stomach. This was the worst he’d ever felt in his life.
“It just hurts, you know?” he said, feeling a tear slip over his lips, wet and salty. Jimin was gathering more toilet paper. “Not just that. All of it. I’d been waiting to see him for months and he doesn’t- he doesn’t even care about me.”
“There has to be some explanation,” said Jimin, frowning.
“If there is, he’s not talking to me,” said Jungkook. “He’s not saying anything to me. He won’t even text me.”
Jimin’s frown took on a sharper edge. “How did you even find out about this?”
“His friends told me,” Jungkook said bitterly. “By accident.”
“Well, you know what,” Jimin said, throwing away the last wad of toilet paper, “If I ever run into this Kim Namjoon, I’m going to fight him.”
Jungkook gave a watery laugh. “You’d probably win.”
Jimin looked satisfied. “Good,” he said. “Hey, are you okay to go back out there?”
His face was still blotchy and swollen and red. He looked like his dog died. “Ah-”
“Not back to the office,” Jimin said. He grabbed at Jungkook’s sleeve. “I’ll text the boss. You do need some fresh air. And a muffin.”
“Okay,” Jungkook said. A muffin sounded nice. Jimin unlocked the door, and the receptionist was staring at them.
“Nothing to see here,” said Jimin, waving Jungkook to the door. “Who doesn’t need a good cry in the work bathroom every once in a while, hm?”
After an apple cinnamon muffin and a large hot chocolate, courtesy of Jimin, Jungkook did feel significantly better, like his emotions had been wrung out to dry, even if his heart was still a heavy, fractured presence in his chest. It was unsurprising that he got little done the rest of the day.
“Are you busy tonight?” Jungkook asked as he packed up, because he really didn’t feel like spending the night alone, and the knowledge that it was Namjoon’s last before he went back was sitting heavy in his heart. And Jimin had already seen the worst of him, so he only felt a little shame at asking for more.
His heart fell when Jimin immediately looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, Kookie, I have a shift at the café tonight.”
Of all the days for Jimin to be such a hard worker. “That’s okay.” He kicked the side of the cubicle. “Hey. Thanks. For earlier.” Jimin was a better friend than he deserved.
Jimin waved it off. “You don’t have to thank me.”
“I do,” said Jungkook. “You didn’t have to do any of that, but you did.”
“Heartbreak is no fun,” Jimin said, and Jungkook wondered if Jimin had had his broken before. He hoped not; Jimin deserved someone with a big heart to match his own. Not that he was ever going to voice such a sappy thought to Jimin.
“Well, have a good shift tonight, hyung,” said Jungkook, giving a parting wave.
“Take it easy, Kookie. Text me if you get sad, okay?”
Jungkook promised he would, though if he really held himself to it, he’d probably be texting Jimin every second of the whole night. Instead, he decided to text Taehyung.
hey hyung, can we hang out tonight?
sorry i’m booked for the evening :(
Jungkook felt his heart sink as the train carried him home, letting it jostle his head.
that’s okay hyung
on another date?
but!! you’d never guess who asked me to hang out
well maybe you would idk he probably told you
And that- that was like a small slap to the face, after everything. Namjoon was even finding time to hang out with Taehyung, who he never even knew all that well, who was Jungkook’s friend.
Jungkook closed his eyes. He refused to shed any more tears on this today. Not in public, at least.
oh nice haha
tell him i said hi
Jungkook’s finger lingered over the send button on the last text for a moment, but he sent it off. Maybe those would be his parting words for when Namjoon left the next day. Taehyung texted back saying that he’d tell him.
It was only because Jungkook was out of options that he briefly considered texting Hoseok, who he was pretty sure suspected everything anyway, but- he was Namjoon’s friend. He wondered if he’d told Namjoon that he’d told Jungkook about Seokjin. It probably didn’t even matter.
Jungkook slipped his phone into his pocket and leaned his head against the cool glass of the train window, closing his eyes as he let it carry him home.
It wasn’t often that Park Jimin’s dreams of vengeance came to fruition.
He was working a usual Friday night shift, grateful to be past the rush hour as the night settled in and turned business slower. He was just wiping down the counter when two people walked through the door.
The first guy- well, the first guy probably had one of the prettiest faces Jimin had ever seen. Jimin’s eyes lingered for only for a moment before he glanced at the second guy, and the second guy- well, the second guy was Kim Namjoon.
He’d seen the Instagram photo Jungkook had posted a week ago, and he’d seen more from the obligatory Facebook stalking he’d done when they’d first became Facebook friends, not to mention the pictures Jungkook had shown him of Namjoon on his phone.
Needless to say, Jimin had seen a whole lot of Kim Namjoon without ever actually seeing Kim Namjoon. He would know that face anywhere.
The two stood chatting about something as they regarded the menu, and Jimin played it cool, finished wiping the counter and straightened some of the displays. He wasn’t about to challenge Kim Namjoon to a fight without taking his money first. He’d never been so grateful for their inflated prices.
When they stepped up to the register, Kim Namjoon ordered a decaf with light cream and light sugar. Jimin entered it as a regular with extra cream and extra extra sugar, smiling at him sweetly as the order blatantly displayed itself on the little screen in front of the register. Kim Namjoon didn’t even notice. His pretty friend ordered something disgustingly sugary that would surely keep him up for next twenty-four hours straight, but he was just doing that to himself.
Kim Namjoon handed him his rewards card, because he was extravagant like that, Jimin supposed, and then paid for both drinks.
“Thanks, hyung,” said the pretty friend. He looked exceptionally happy. Was everyone this enamored by Kim Namjoon’s presence? Jimin didn’t see it. He was wearing his sunglasses behind his head, upside down. At night.
They sat at a table in the corner, which was perfect. A less distracting location. Jimin offered to make the coffee while his coworker made Pretty Friend’s drink, and Jimin may have put a bit more cream than coffee into the cup.
“I’ll bring them out,” he said, grabbing the drinks from his coworker before she could call out their names. It was time.
“Here you go,” he said, setting Namjoon’s and Pretty Friend’s drinks in front of them. “I hope they’re to your satisfaction.”
“Oh, thank you,” said Namjoon, bowing his head slightly, which might have been endearing if Jimin hadn’t seen the way Jungkook sobbed over him in the bathroom earlier that day. Pretty Friend took a sip of his sugar monstrosity and looked up at Jimin with wide, dark eyes that – had Jimin not been preparing to fight Kim Namjoon – might have left him breathless. “It’s delicious!”
Jimin waited until Namjoon took a sip of his own. Immediately, he made a face. “Um-”
Jimin slapped his hands on the table, and both Namjoon and Pretty Friend jumped.
“Is it not good?” Jimin said, voice low so as not to draw the attention of other customers. Jimin had a reputation for being one of the friendlier baristas and he wasn’t about to ruin it now. “Do you not like it?”
Namjoon stared up at him, eyes wide and shocked.
“Because you know what I don’t like?” Jimin hissed. “I don’t like seeing my friend heartbroken and crying in the work bathroom as I wipe his tears away with toilet paper.”
“What-” Pretty Friend’s straw slipped out of his mouth. “What the fuck?”
“And why am I wiping his tears away, you ask? Because his so-called best friend won’t take two seconds to hang out with him, or tell him about this new guy he’s been seeing.”
Namjoon’s eyes flickered in some distant, far off recognition, like there was no way some random stranger was yelling at him about these things, but here it was, happening.
“Do you know what I’m talking about, Kim Namjoon?” Jimin said, dipping his head down to be more level with Namjoon’s eyes. “Do you know who I’m talking about?”
Namjoon just blinked, speechless.
“You know,” Jimin said, “that he took a whole week of vacation just to spend this week with you? Bought all your favorite foods because he’s thoughtful like that? Has talked my ear off about how excited he’s been for you to come home for like, the past five weeks straight? About ye high, dark hair, has those really cute doe eyes that get kind of skittish when he finds himself in an awkward situation?”
“Wait,” said Pretty Friend slowly. “Wait, are you talking about Jungkook ?”
To Jimin’s satisfaction, Namjoon’s face paled.
“How do you know Jungkook?” Pretty Friend asked. His entire face looked shocked and lost.
Jimin reached into his pocket and pulled out two business cards, which he kept with him for situations just like these. “I work at Serendipity Magazine by day, on the design team. Cubicle next to one Jeon Jungkook. The name is Park Jimin.”
He should have asked someone to film this.
Both Namjoon and Pretty Friend looked down at the business card and then back up at him at the same time. “You’re Jimin?” they said in unison and damn, he really should have had someone film this.
“I’m Jimin,” Jimin said, standing up straight and adjusting his apron.
“Wait,” Pretty Friend said again, looking like he was trying to keep up. “Jungkook was crying in the work bathroom?”
“Don’t you dare tell him I told you that,” said Jimin, and he meant it. But Kim Namjoon needed to know. He looked back at Namjoon, whose very lips had paled. “You really fucked up, my friend.” Not that Kim Namjoon was his friend.
“I-” Namjoon opened his mouth but no more sound seemed capable of coming out. He closed it again.
Jimin sighed. He needed to be straight about this. “Jungkook was really hurt, Namjoon,” he said. “Like, full-on tears hurt. You ignore him all week and then he has to find out from your friends that you’re seeing some guy that you might stay across the country for? What’s that all about?” Jimin took a breath. “He’s pretty heartbroken right now.”
“Oh,” said Pretty Friend, because he seemed to be the only one capable of speaking. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his phone, eyes widening. “That must have been why he asked me to hang out tonight.”
Namjoon looked at him. “What?” He looked like he needed a second to breathe. “What-”
“Come on, Namjoon, you have to know,” Pretty Friend said. “Jungkook’s been, like, madly in love with you since he saw you rapping about crabs or something. And I only know that because I’ve heard the story like a thousand times.”
Namjoon’s face flooded with color again. “What? Wait. Wait, Taehyung-”
Taehyung stood up, grabbing his jacket. “Sorry, hyung, but if Jungkook is sad-”
“No, wait,” Namjoon said again. He shot up out of his chair, eyes frantic. “No, I have to go, this is all my fault.”
“Yes, it is,” said Jimin. He crossed his arms.
Namjoon glanced at him, a healthy dose of fear crossing his face as he did, much to Jimin’s gratification. “I didn’t- I didn’t know-”
“You really didn’t know?” said Jimin, skeptically. “You really didn’t notice that you weren’t spending any time with him this week? Then maybe you’re a worse friend than I thought.”
Namjoon seemed cowed by that, ducking his head, and Jimin only felt a tiny bit bad. It would have been better if he fought back. But it was probably better that he didn’t, because it was obvious: yes, Namjoon knew what he’d been doing.
“Why?” Jimin asked, some of the anger leaking out of his voice. “Why’d you treat him like that?”
“I’ve been- going through some things,” Namjoon said, looking away.
“Not very fair of you to do that to him, hyung,” Pretty Friend – Taehyung – said.
Namjoon deflated, shoulders slumping, his very hair seeming to wilt. He looked utterly exhausted all of the sudden. He looked back at Jimin. “Jungkook really wanted to introduce us. I’m sorry it had to be this way.”
Jimin sighed, dropping his arms. “Yeah, me too,” he said. He looked at him. “You sounded like a really cool guy.”
Namjoon winced. “I’m really not,” he said. “I don’t know why everyone thinks that.”
“Don’t say that, hyung,” said Taehyung. He kicked at him under the table. “Just go make things right with Jungkook. And stop dropping Hoseok-hyung’s cakes on our shoes. That might make you a bit cooler.”
Namjoon stood up, shrugging his coat on. He looked at Jimin. “Thanks. I’m glad Jungkook has a friend like you.”
Jimin felt himself preen – only slightly – at the compliment. He lifted his chin. “Jungkookie deserves it.”
“Yeah,” Namjoon said. “Yeah, he does.”
Not bothering to take his terrible coffee, Namjoon fled the restaurant.
Jimin could feel Taehyung looking at him with his wide, insanely beautiful eyes. He felt his bravado beginning to fade. So much for first impressions. Jimin glanced in his direction. “Um.”
It was quiet for one supremely awkward second. Then Taehyung said, loudly, “That was hot.”
Jimin went pink.
On some level Jungkook knew he was probably being dramatic, but he’d never suffered from a broken heart before.
It was only 8:17, but he lay in bed wrapped in his giant fluffy duvet like some sort of caterpillar cocooning itself, completely in the dark. He’d tried to sleep because being awake wasn’t very fun at the moment, but he couldn’t, so instead of crying some more he decided to play Nintendogs on his 3DS. The screen was the only source of light in his apartment.
He was just buying a customized water bowl for Bacon Jr. when he heard a knock echo from his door down the hall. Jungkook froze.
He dug his phone out of the sheets. Could it be Taehyung stopping by after hanging out with Namjoon? Jimin? He didn’t have any messages.
The knock sounded again. He really hoped it wasn’t the old lady down the hall here to complain that he’d accidentally left some socks in the dryer again. He hadn’t even done laundry in like a week.
Whatever. Jungkook slid out of bed, not bothering to unravel himself from his blanket. His heart was broken and whoever was at the door was just going to have to deal with setting their eyes on his ugly, pathetic figure.
The knocking sounded again and Jungkook shuffled down the hall, hindered only when he tripped in the dark over a stray shoe or a video game controller because he didn’t feel like turning any lights on. The person had just started to knock again when Jungkook unlatched the door and pulled it open.
He found himself face to face with Namjoon.
“Um.” Jungkook gripped at the inside of his blanket.
“Oh,” said Namjoon. His eyes were wide and his hair was a mess, like he’d been out jogging. “Were you sleeping?”
“No,” said Jungkook, then realized what he must look like, wrapped head to toe in his bedsheets and standing completely in the dark. “Yes.”
“Sorry to bother you, but can I- ” Namjoon started. He took a breath. “Can I talk to you? It’s important.”
“Okay,” said Jungkook, standing aside so that Namjoon could enter his cave. He found the light switch on the wall and flicked it on. He noticed that it was a video game controller he’d tripped on.
Namjoon neatly slipped his shoes off by the door, which was so polite and unlike him that Jungkook’s heart began to hurt all over again.
Namjoon turned around to look at him, looking unsure, and Jungkook said, “Let’s go to the living room.”
Jungkook slipped the duvet off of himself, feeling silly in it now that Namjoon was here to witness him. He folded it neatly and set it in his lap as Namjoon sat down on the couch. “Sorry for the mess,” Jungkook said, noticing that Namjoon was looking at the box of candy that was still on the floor from when Taehyung was over last weekend. Jungkook felt a flash of embarrassment.
“I don’t mind,” said Namjoon, looking at him. “You know I don’t mind mess.”
Jungkook nodded. “Yeah. Um.”
It was so quiet in his living room, not even the buzz of the AC or the hum of the refrigerator there to soften the silence. A terrible apprehension filled Jungkook. All he’d wanted for weeks was to be alone with Namjoon, and now that he was, everything felt strange and horrible.
Namjoon’s breath pierced the silence. “Jungkook,” he said. “I’ve been…I’m sorry I haven’t seen you much this week.”
Jungkook looked up at him, hugging the duvet to his chest. His instinct was to say “it’s fine” but it really wasn’t.
“There have been some…things that I’ve been going through, and I didn’t-” Namjoon was looking anywhere but at Jungkook. “I didn’t really know how to say them to you.”
Jungkook looked away, biting the inside of his cheek. He guessed they really weren’t as close as he always thought they were, if Namjoon didn’t feel like he could confide what he’d been going through to him. He really was his kid friend.
Jungkook felt very tired suddenly, very sad.
“Hyung,” he said. “I’m sure I’d have understood.”
“I know,” said Namjoon. “But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what I wanted.”
Jungkook looked at him. “What you wanted?”
Namjoon ran a hand through his hair. “I spent a lot of time with other people this week, looking for advice. About what I should do now that I’m finally graduating. About where I should go. Why I should go there. About what I wanted.”
Jungkook’s heart began to beat hard in his chest. “What you want?”
Namjoon sighed. “I know Hoseok told you about Seokjin-”
Jungkook’s heart stuttered. He’d been so upset that Namjoon hadn’t told him about Seokjin himself, but suddenly hearing it from his own mouth, a very real confirmation that yes, this Seokjin did exist and Namjoon had been seeing him and he might leave to be with him forever-
Fear suddenly filled every part of him.
Jungkook stood up, duvet falling to the floor. He felt breathless, suddenly. Unable to breathe. “Hyung .”
Namjoon looked up at him, startled.
“You can’t leave, hyung,” Jungkook said, the words falling out of him, because even though Namjoon might not care about Jungkook as much as Jungkook cared about him, Jungkook had to- he had to try. He wouldn’t be able to live with the what ifs, the uncertainties of what might have happened if he had asked Namjoon to stay.
Even if it was humiliating, even if it left his heart broken and bleeding, he had to do it.
“You can’t leave,” said Jungkook, and he knew that he’d always been a bit of a selfish person. He was very aware of that fact about himself. Many things he did, he did to get what he wanted. Maybe this Seokjin was good for Namjoon, maybe he made Namjoon happy- but the thought filled Jungkook with so much pain. “Please don’t leave, hyung.”
Namjoon’s eyes were wide. “Jungkook-”
“I don’t know what I’d do if you left for real,” said Jungkook, tearing at his own sleeve. “You’ve always been other places, hyung. Ahead of me. And I’ve always waited for you to come back. You always came back. And I know it’s because I’m pushy and needy and I always bug you-”
“Jungkook, you don’t-”
“But hyung, you can’t leave for real,” said Jungkook, and he could feel his face growing hot, his eyes beginning to sting for the millionth time that day. “Though if Seokjin- if he’s what you really want-” Jungkook couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence, breath catching in his throat. He wiped the back of his hands over his eyes. “Hyung, I like you.”
And that was it. There it was. Since he was fifteen years old, this thing for Namjoon had festered in his heart and refused to leave. He wasn’t sure it ever would, and the thought scared him. But if Namjoon rejected him, well- at least he’d know.
“I think-” Jungkook said, because he had to get it out, all of it. He had to be completely honest. He had to go all the way. “I think I- I love you.”
He pressed his palms to his eyes because he didn’t have anyone to wipe away his tears this time. Jungkook’s heart was set between them and he didn’t want to see the sympathy in Namjoon’s eyes when he pushed it away with a no, I’m sorry, this isn’t what I want.
Jungkook took a deep breath, his head pounding and heart loud in his ears, pressing his hands against his eyes so hard he saw stars. The silence stretched on and his heart sank, and sank, until it was beginning to run out of air-
Jungkook’s breath caught when he felt warm fingertips touch the sides of his face.
“Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon’s voice said, soft and so, so close. Gentle fingers wrapped around his wrists and pulled his hands from his face.
Jungkook blinked into the light, feeling the wetness leak from the corners of his eyes as he met Namjoon’s gaze. Namjoon lifted his hands back up and caught the tears with the pads of his thumbs.
Jungkook stood absolutely still, afraid to breathe.
“I’m so sorry,” Namjoon said, and Jungkook’s heart seized, because the worst was happening, it was really happening. I’m sorry, this isn’t what I want.
Jungkook was about to pull away, because he couldn’t do this, not with Namjoon’s hands touching him so softly, so sweetly, as his words shoved a knife through his chest-
“I’m so stupid.”
Jungkook blinked again, and again Namjoon caught the tears as they fell down his cheek. “W- what?”
“You should have been the first person I talked to about this, weeks ago,” Namjoon said, and he suddenly looked wrecked. “The day Seokjin asked me out, I should have talked to you.”
“Why didn’t you?” Jungkook asked, skin warm where Namjoon still had his hands on his face.
“Ah, Jungkook- ” Namjoon ducked his head. “I was a coward.”
“What?” Jungkook said.
“Seokjin asked me to stay for him and I panicked,” Namjoon said, lifting his head again. “I have everything all set and lined up here- the job, an apartment complex I’ve been looking into- and Seokjin asked me to stay and suddenly there were all these possibilities I hadn’t considered.”
Jungkook’s breath grew short again. Was he still considering?
Maybe it showed on his face, maybe Namjoon could feel the way he tensed, but Namjoon swiped his fingers beneath his eyes again, gentle.
“He asked me to stay last week and I- I panicked and spent all this money I don’t have on changing my flight to one that left that night, and I called Yoongi-hyung and begged him to let me stay over.” Namjoon paused, then let out a chuckle that didn’t sound like it was directed toward anything very funny. “He asked me why I didn’t just go to your place.”
“Why didn’t you?” Jungkook asked. The question had been haunting him.
“Because, Kook,” said Namjoon, and his eyes were pained. “I was panicking and I wanted answers, and I wanted everyone’s opinion but yours, because yours was the most important one.”
Jungkook stared. “I don’t understand.”
Namjoon let his hands slide down to the sides of Jungkook’s neck, touch soft. “Jungkook-ah,” he said. “I didn’t want to hear you tell me anything other than what you just said.”
Jungkook’s skin was suddenly very hot beneath Namjoon’s hands.
“I was never going to stay for Seokjin,” Namjoon said. “It was never anything serious. I never let it become anything serious, because-“ His cheeks began to color, and he met Jungkook’s eyes. “Because my heart’s always been with someone else.”
Jungkook sucked in a sharp breath, the words hitting him like a jolt of electricity to the chest. That meant-
“I was just scared,” Namjoon said quietly, brushing his thumb against Jungkook’s skin, and Jungkook could feel his hand trembling slightly. “Leaving here had always been a temporary thing, and it scared me that it didn’t have to be. It scared me that Seokjin wanted me to stay with him, when we weren’t even that serious, but it could be, and it scared me to throw that chance away. It scared me to think that instead I might be coming back here for someone who didn’t want me the way I wanted him.”
“That’s not,” Jungkook said, breathless, “that’s not true, though, hyung.”
“No,” Namjoon said, a ghost of a smile appearing on his lips. He dipped his head until it bumped Jungkook’s chest. He said, shuddering slightly, “I should have asked you. I should have asked you before I asked literally everyone else I know in this city for advice.”
“You even met up with Taehyung ,” said Jungkook, reaching out and pinching his hip. His fingers were shaking.
“Ah, I’m sorry!” Namjoon said, and when he lifted his head again he was smiling, eyes curving and cheeks dimpling. His lips were so pink and he was so close .
“Hyung,” Jungkook said.
“Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon said, and his smile shifted into something a little sad again. He let out a breath. “I should have been honest with you like you were with me. I shouldn’t have let it get this far. You were always better than me at getting stuff done. You don’t overthink.”
“That’s why you need me,” Jungkook said.
“I think I need you for a lot of reasons,” Namjoon said, and he slid his hands back up Jungkook’s neck, cupping his jaw with his palms. Jungkook was about two seconds away from dissolving into a heap on the floor.
“Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon said again, softly, like Jungkook’s name was something precious, like a spell or an incantation or a charm. Namjoon’s eyes were so soft, and warm, and his cheek dimpled slightly as one side of his mouth quirked up. He leaned his forehead close, nearly against Jungkook’s, and Jungkook felt the timbre of Namjoon’s voice, the ghost of his breath against his lips as he said, “Jungkook-ah, I’ve been in love with you for years.”
Jungkook didn’t exactly know how to process it, these words he’d dreamed of hearing since he was fifteen years old, and instead crossed the few feeble centimeters separating their lips and pressed his mouth to Namjoon’s.
His lips were soft, immediately parting against Jungkook’s as if they’d been waiting for him. Jungkook felt the touch all the way down to his toes- warm and wet and sweet and real. This was real. Jungkook felt himself trembling against Namjoon’s skin, hands gripping at his waist.
They pulled away only briefly, just once, before Jungkook pulled Namjoon back against him, harder, bolder, wanting- he’d been waiting for this, waiting and wishing and hoping, hoping, hoping. He’d wanted this for so long. Namjoon kissed him back just as hard, sliding his hands into Jungkook’s hair. Namjoon kissed him, and kissed him, and kissed him until Jungkook felt shivery and shuddery and wasn’t entirely sure he was still inhabiting his body.
Jungkook had no concept of how long they had been kissing, but suddenly he was aware they were on the couch and his hands were under Namjoon’s shirt and his face was tingling, everything was a bit overly warm and his leg was half asleep.
Namjoon was breathing heavily beneath him, his face flushed and lips swollen and red. Jungkook wanted to take a picture. He wanted to take a picture of Namjoon and frame it and hang it on his bedroom wall so he could see it every day, even if that was kind of weird.
“Hyung,” Jungkook said, because he didn’t know what else to say. He pressed one more kiss to his dimple.
Impossibly, Namjoon’s face flushed redder. “Gah, Kook-ah,” he said, ducking his head. “You’re always too sweet.”
“The sweetest,” Namjoon said, and he put his hands on either side of Jungkook’s head and kissed him square on the lips. “Perfectly sweet. Just the right amount of sweet.” He kissed Jungkook’s nose.
Jungkook felt himself blushing, beaming.
“Hyung,” he said. “Hyung, will you please stay here tonight? I know you leave tomorrow, but-”
“Yes,” said Namjoon. “I’m sorry I wasted the whole week away from you.”
“It’s okay,” Jungkook said, because it was okay, they were here, they were here now, like this, together- it had led them here.
Because if Namjoon had told him about Seokjin weeks ago, over text or phone call or Skype or Facetime, Jungkook probably would have told him to go out with him. He probably would have held his own feelings back. Jungkook would probably have told Namjoon what Namjoon didn’t want to hear, and said what he didn’t want to say.
Or maybe he wouldn’t have. Maybe he would have said hyung, no, you belong with me.
But it didn’t matter, because they were here now. Namjoon loved him, and Jungkook was very intent on keeping him for a long time.
“We’re here now, hyung,” Jungkook said, and kissed his lips. “Don’t be sad about it, okay? We’re here now.”
Namjoon kissed him back soundly.
“I’ll text you when I land,” Namjoon said, rezipping his duffle bag.
Namjoon’s plane left in two hours. They stood outside security at the airport, Jungkook in one of Namjoon’s hoodies because- well, because he could, now.
“Okay,” said Jungkook.
Namjoon looked at him. “Or I’ll call you. Or Facetime.”
“Okay,” Jungkook said again, tilting his head slightly. “Whichever you feel like.”
“Facetime,” Namjoon said definitively, nodding. “I like to see your face.”
“Oh,” Jungkook said. A curl of pleasure unwound in his belly. “Okay. I like to see your face, too.”
Namjoon kissed him on the cheek, and then on the mouth. “Hey,” he said, voice gentle. “You said last night that you were pushy, but that’s not true, okay? Call me whenever, text me whenever. I’ll answer, I promise. I was just being weird the last few weeks.”
“I know,” said Jungkook, and even though he knew now his messages didn’t bug Namjoon, it was still nice to hear.
He wrapped his arms around Namjoon’s waist and pressed his face into his shoulder.
“We’ll see each other in a month for my graduation,” Namjoon said.
“I know,” Jungkook said.
“Then I’ll be back again, for good.”
“Jungkook-ah,” Namjoon said. Jungkook felt him press his mouth to his hair. “Remember, okay? That I love you.”
Jungkook felt warmth from the place where Namjoon’s lips touched his head to the very tips of his toes. “I know.”
“Good,” Namjoon said. He glanced at his phone. “I have to go.”
Jungkook held on tighter.
“Kook-ah,” Namjoon said, pulling back. “We only have a few minutes, I want to use them kissing you.”
“Oh,” Jungkook said, and turned his face to Namjoon’s.
Namjoon kissed both of his cheeks, his nose, his forehead, his chin, even his ears, which got Jungkook giggling. Then he kissed Jungkook’s lips.
“Miss you,” Jungkook said against his mouth, eyes closed to the people rushing around them.
“Not gone yet,” Namjoon murmured.
“Still miss you,” Jungkook, because even though he was so happy, their time had been so brief.
As if Namjoon could hear what he was thinking, he said quietly, “In a month you’re never going to have to miss me again.”
Jungkook smiled against his lips, everything inside of him going warm and soft with a relief he didn’t know he’d been waiting for. He’d been waiting for years.
“Ah, I really have to go,” Namjoon said, pulling back.
“Okay,” Jungkook said, and grabbed Namjoon’s face with both of his hands to bring his lips to his own one more time. “I love you,” he said against Namjoon’s cheek, lips grazing the indent of his dimple.
Namjoon took a deep breath as he pulled away, hoisting his duffle bag over his shoulder.
“Bye, hyung,” Jungkook said. “Finish your work well, okay?”
“Yeah,” Namjoon said, and then pulled Jungkook back for one - two - okay, three - more kisses. Jungkook laughed against his lips, at the way he could feel Namjoon’s nose smushing against his face.
And then Namjoon was gone, and Jungkook watched as he disappeared through security, setting the alarms off because he forgot to take off his belt.
Made it through :D
i saw you set the alarm off hyung hahahah
Jungkook slipped through passing travelers, feeling warm and light and only a little sad that Namjoon had to leave again so soon. But it was okay. Jungkook knew he would be back.
* * *
“Hyung. Hyung. Oh my- you did not actually do that.”
“Oh god. Oh no. Jimin’s going to fight me again.”
“You just got on his good side, too.”
Namjoon held tight to Jungkook’s wrist as they both stared down at the birthday cake, Hoseok’s perfect birthday cake, smashed on the floor. On Jimin’s shoes. Namjoon’s eyes were wide.
“Okay. Okay. You go buy a new cake, and I’ll go buy Jimin new shoes. No one ever has to know,” Namjoon said, just as Yoongi called, “Guys? Where’s the cake? Hoseok-ah is going to be here soon” and the door opened and Hoseok walked inside, stepping directly into the frosting and slipping backward – like some sort of slow-motion cartoon character – and hard to the floor.
“What,” said Hoseok, dazed and blinking at the mess in front of him, frosting splattered on the walls.
“Jungkookie? Hyung?” Taehyung stepped out of the kitchen.
Jungkook waved his arms and shook his head. “Distract your boyfriend!” he hissed, just as Jimin appeared behind Taehyung.
Without question, Taehyung whipped around and engaged Jimin in a full-on, immediate lip lock.
“Mph!” Jimin said in surprise, muffled against Taehyung’s mouth, and Taehyung pushed him back into the kitchen.
“What the fuck guys,” Yoongi’s voice floated down the hall. “This is a family friendly party.”
“Then maybe don’t swear?” Taehyung responded, before another muffled exclamation sounded from Jimin.
“Hoseokie,” Namjoon said. “Please don’t hate me.”
“I won’t hate you as much as Jimin is going to,” Hoseok said, reaching up his hand for a lift. “Though I have to admit, this is a birthday tradition I was hoping we could skip this year.” He winced as Namjoon pulled him to his feet, rubbing at his hip.
“It just slipped out of the bottom of the box!” Namjoon still held it in his hands, perfectly intact, except for the bottom flaps which had fallen right open.
For a moment they were quiet, the three of them just staring.
“This is the worst surprise party I’ve ever been to,” Hoseok said sadly.
Jungkook couldn’t help it the laugh that slipped out of him.
Namjoon had moved back eight months ago, and instead of finding an apartment, he just moved in with Jungkook, which was perfectly ideal, since it was Jungkook’s preference to see Namjoon’s face every single day. He didn’t even have to spend any money on a picture of him to hang on the wall.
Jimin finally got invited to a night out- by Taehyung , not Jungkook, and he had fallen just as easily into their little friend group as he had into Taehyung’s heart.
“He drinks all the fancy wine, Jungkook, and then he lets me cuddle him for three hours straight!” Taehyung had beamed.
“Anyone who doesn’t like to cuddle is just lying to themselves,” Jimin said, and Taehyung had looked at him with such heart eyes that Jungkook gagged and Jimin’s face bloomed the brightest shade of red.
And despite their rough beginnings, Namjoon and Jimin got along really well. There had been many nights when Jungkook had fallen asleep on Namjoon’s shoulder as Namjoon and Jimin talked deep into the night about their places in the world and the value of hard work versus talent and the meaning of life, etcetera. Jungkook just liked that Jimin appreciated poking at Namjoon’s cheeks as much as he did.
So maybe Hoseok’s cake was destroyed and Jimin’s shoes were ruined and his boyfriend was about to be very, very dead, but Jungkook- Jungkook was just happy.
It took a minute before Hoseok started to laugh too, because Hoseok always started to laugh if someone else was laughing, and then Namjoon joined in nervously, and then Yoongi wanted to know what all the laughing was about and suddenly Jimin was yelling and Taehyung was in the bathroom trying to shower the frosting off of his shoes and Jungkook was trying to salvage the pieces of the cake that hadn’t touched the floor and Yoongi was saying “stop that, Jungkook, that’s disgusting” and demanding Namjoon pay him back every cent it took to clean the stains because “blue frosting, Namjoon! BLUE!” and then Jimin and Taehyung were making out in the shower and Hoseok was saying “we don’t have enough towels for this” and Namjoon was saying “sorry, sorry, I’ll never touch a cake again, please don’t murder me but if you do everything I own goes to Jungkook, sorry!”
Two hours later they found themselves at an ice cream shop because “you’ve all lost the privilege of eating desserts in my home.” But Hoseok was perfectly happy with his rainbow sprinkles, tucked into a tired Yoongi’s side, and Namjoon had paid for all of it.
“You’ve got some,” Jungkook said, pointing to Namjoon’s mouth before he kissed the vanilla off his lips.
“Gross,” said Taehyung, who was wearing candy cane patterned pajama pants he’d borrowed from Hoseok.
“We literally had to witness you showering with Jimin,” said Jungkook.
“Not gross,” said Jimin, who was wearing a pair of Yoongi’s basketball shorts and a hoodie that said “leaf me alone” with a little, angry looking leaf on the chest.
“Very gross,” said Namjoon.
“You’re all gross, you ruined my birthday,” Hoseok said, beaming.
“Jungkook’s gross, he was the one eating cake off the floor,” said Yoongi.
“It hadn’t touched anything!”
Namjoon looked at him. “I let that mouth kiss me?”
Jungkook pulled his hood over his head, finishing his ice cream alone. As the others fell back into our shower’s gross and full of frosting, Namjoon hooked a finger around the edge of his hood and peeked in at him.
“Love you,” Namjoon said, dimpling at him sweetly.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jungkook said, and it only took him a second of thought before he leaned forward to kiss him again.
Jungkook was pretty sure he was dating the coolest guy in the world, even if he did ruin people’s shoes and carpets and showers with cake sometimes. But Jungkook knew what he was getting himself into, and vice versa (because Namjoon had seen him eating that cake off the floor and hadn’t batted an eyelash).
They were both perfectly self aware, thank you very much.
And Jungkook was happy. He felt the warmth of it in his bones as Namjoon pressed another sweet, smiling kiss to his mouth. He was so, so happy.