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In My Blood

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The first thing Yoongi learns about his mate is that he’s clumsy.

He learns this before he even knows his name, his voice, or what he even looks like. He knows, because he pulls up into a mechanic’s shop, serviced and waiting-to-be-serviced cars asleep in the cramped parking lot like scattered, sun-softened candy, and steps out only to be slugged in the face with a scent so strong it’s like taking a baseball bat to the nose.

It’s thick, like caramel, cinnamon, something like whiskey, all things that Yoongi has never been a fan of up until this very moment, and the only thought that makes sense in his brain is to eat all three at once immediately. Once he had walked into a furniture store, one of the fancy suburban kind with the home decorations, and it had smelled like this. Pleasant without the pull. This is a tug, and he has to force himself to remember why he’s here. Oh, right. Flat. He has a flat tire.

“And bad brake pads,” he says through gritted teeth at the counter, when one of the lead techs comes around the corner to the sound of the ringing bell. “So. A change for those, too.”

“On which tire?”

“No clue.” Yoongi dislikes being curt without reason, but the scent is stronger in here. His blood is practically carbonated with it. It takes more effort than he’s pleased with exerting to keep his composure, and that means the retail voice has got to go. “But I’ll wager a wild guess and say probably the front ones.”

The smell wafts in from the garage, so Yoongi makes what he thinks is the educated decision to wait in the sitting room until he can get a quote for how much the work will cost. Educated, or so he thinks, until the door opens not five minutes later and the culprit himself waltzes in

Shuffles, more like. There’s not much art to his gait. He seems to realize it the same time Yoongi does, air charged thick and electric, almost as dense as water. In his hands is a grease-stained receipt, black at the edges, and Yoongi feels his body tense when their gazes meet.

“Your vehicle will be ready for pickup in about three days. We’ll give you a call if we’ll be done earlier, hopefully not later.” The tech leans over the counter until he jumps. “Sir?”

“Yes! Thank you. Uh. Am I good to go?”

Yoongi is still staring at him. The cartilage of his ears has gone red, as if the weight of Yoongi’s eyes is tangible.

But then he is sweeping from the waiting room, taking the scent of caramel-cinnamon-whiskey with him, and Yoongi thinks he might pass out.

Three days, the lead technician had said. Yoongi carves a mental note to himself and, for now, tries to unscramble the puree that is his brain when the mechanic comes back in.

 

Yoongi is the type to handle crises in silence. Sexuality crisis? In silence. Quarter life crisis? Not a peep. Emotional crisis? Nothing a glass of whiskey, neat, can’t fix.

But then his nameless mate rockets through his orbit, coming close enough to singe the stratosphere, and Yoongi all of a sudden forgets how to handle things himself. It’s undignifying, and Yoongi hates it. He is not the type to need handholding, and he does not intend to start now.

“I feel like you’re jumping the gun here,” Taehyung says. “Are you sure that was your mate? You said you guys were around each other for less than thirty seconds.”

“You could make an egg in less time than that.”

“I mean, you’re absolutely right. But that’s not the topic at hand!”

Yoongi sighs. He’s at lunch, with Taehyung, alone—and not to say Taehyung doesn’t have an excellent grip on emotional fluency, which he does. That’s the entire reason they’re even here with two plates of Italian between them. But he doesn’t necessarily ask Taehyung to come out alone, over lunch, something so formal. He’ll bring Jeongguk, or Hoseok, or Jimin. Without them Taehyung can read him too easily, and if there’s anything Yoongi hates more than shitty music, it’s being read like an open book.

“You had it easier,” Yoongi says, spearing sundried tomato on his fork and eating with more force than necessary.

“Uhm, no,” Taehyung says pointedly. “Because as far as I’m concerned, I met Jeongguk because he scented me across a restaurant he was working at and then proceeded to trip into my lap with a bowlful of lobster bisque meant for the director of public works.”

Yoongi makes a face at the memory.

“So.”

“Still,” Yoongi says.

It’s Taehyung’s turn to sigh. “Don’t. You’re going to say something along the lines of that still being something out of a shitty romcom, while your encounter is more like a pretentious grimdark documentary. I get it.”

The sputter Yoongi makes is inhuman. “I would not say—”

“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, so you said he’d be back in three days. Why not try your luck? The worst that could happen is that you’re wrong.”

“The worst that could happen is that I pop a boner in public.”

“Wear jeans,” Taehyung sniffs, like this is so simple.

“It’s not that simple.”

“Literally everything is so simple all the time. We as people are just very good at making it difficult.”

At this, Yoongi has no retaliation. He has to admire this point of view. Taehyung speaks up again.

“The worst that could happen is that you’re wrong. You get that out of the way, you go on with the rest of your merry day. Sure, he might comment about you being back at the same time. And if you really want to freak and run, say something like you came back because you were worried about another issue on your car. Say you forgot something at the shop. But most people won’t. People generally don’t ask questions.”

This is all unnervingly shrewd in the way only Taehyung can manage and, Yoongi hates to admit, mostly true.

“Fine.”

Taehyung’s expression brightens. “So you’ll go?”

“I’ll even tell you how it pans out.”

“I expect a full write-up, typed, in MLA or Chicago format by Friday at noon.”

“I’ll deliver it to you personally.”

 

As if the sky cannot decide what mood to be in, just to match, it’s overcast three days later. The dapple of the clouds is the kind that harbors rain, and Yoongi steps out of his car at the mechanic’s again.

The roofs of the cars are wet with gathered dew, and Yoongi immediately hates the relief that washes over him when he sees the same red Mazda parked outside the shop. Its bumper is restored to full, boisterous health. When he opens the door to the waiting room, a lone bell tinkles. There is nobody behind the counter.

Yoongi sits down awkwardly in one of the seats. He hasn’t rehearsed his excuse to be here yet—is he looking for something? If he is, it has to be something obscure, small, and easy to fake finding in the shop. His phone should work. It’ll be too hard to fake another problem on his car. The second they find out what it is—or, isn’t, technically speaking—then he has no other excuse to be here.

Over the counter lies a clipboard full with names, payments, dog-eared pages curled like onion skins around the wood. Yoongi reaches over, turning it so that he can read, and flips back in time several pages until he spots his name. Min Yoongi, it says in messy scrawl. 2013 Hyundai Elantra. Brake pad fix, flat. 33k. He runs his finger up the list, searching the names. It seems silly to, because it’s not like Yoongi will know the name even when he sees it, but he likes to know the possibilities. Choi Sangwook. Bae Mijoo. Kim Namjoon. Chun Yeseul.

Kim Namjoon. The words roll around in Yoongi’s head, slow, lazy marbles in a maze. They seem right, but he can’t say how. It’s a pretty name. But he doesn’t want to get attached, either, if his mate walks in and announces that he is in fact Kwon Hyunsoo, who’s right after this Yeseul, and Yoongi begins to feel stupid again for thinking so far ahead when the garage door opens and the lead technician startles at the sight of Yoongi standing at the counter.

“Can I help you?”

“Uhm,” Yoongi says. “I believe I left my phone here when I visited. I’ve been retracing all my steps and this is the last place I could think of the day it disappeared. Mind if I look around?”

“Oh, that’s not good. Yeah, uh—I think so. Be careful in the shop. If you’re going to walk under anything looking for it, you better put on safety glasses, we don’t want you getting injured.”

Nihilistically Yoongi hopes something plummets and delivers a swift blow to his head, killing him instantly, but he nods.

So he searches. And feels stupid for it some more. This is a lot of feeling stupid for so early in the morning, but he could have planned this better. Who’s to even say that Nameless Mate will come before the last hour? Or today at all? Yoongi is one to think these things through, but he had opened his eyes today, checked his phone, and gotten out of bed like he had just been informed that he’d signed a record deal with DefJam. He’s done a lot of things he wouldn’t normally do today.

The other techs cast him curious glances as they start coming in for the day. Some of them offer their time to help look, not knowing Yoongi’s phone sits securely in his pocket, and he waves away their goodwill and tells them that he can manage. Half an hour passes. Then the hour completes. The minutes inch into the second, sun burning back the clouds, and just as Yoongi is about give up and simply pretend to find it in a corner, he smells it: cinnamon-caramel-whiskey, wafting in through the spaces under the door.

He straightens and beelines for the waiting room.

“—the bumper. Front fenders look good. I also checked and rotated your tires like you asked.” The lead tech looks up when Yoongi more or less barges in, out of breath, then immediately wheezes when the scent broadsides him. If Yoongi thought it had been a bat to the nose three days ago, this is walking into a storm. It burns his lungs like a mouthful of sand. “Hey. You find your phone?”

“Huh?”

“Your phone.”

A text chime bleats from Yoongi’s pocket. “Oh!” he says, brain catching up belatedly. The scent is fogging up his thoughts, and the stranger is staring curiously at him. Yoongi wonders what he smells like to him. “Uh. Yeah.”

The tech nods, like he’s not understanding. “Well, I’m glad. Okay, have a nice day?”

Yoongi takes the invite to leave with grace, though not without looking back at CCW (caramel-cinnamon-whiskey, he really needs to know his name, is it seriously Namjoon?). It’s hard to force his body to move towards and out the door when every cell of his blood and bones screams to reach out as instinct commands, but Yoongi is nothing if not disciplined. The hurt manifests as a physical ache when he manages to close the door behind him, but he does it.

Without thinking about what he was supposed to do, Yoongi’s feet start moving. He makes to jog, run, scramble back into his car and drive off and not repeat this humiliating experience again. Just as he thinks about breaking into a hard sprint across the crowded lot, a hand circles his wrist.

It’s more than just a simple request to stop. The contact, Yoongi shits himself not, feels like it throws a wrench into everything he knows. His world inverts, turns upside-down, erects and rights itself in new color.

“I’m sorry.” The hand pulls back. Oh, so this is his voice. It’s deep, resonant, and it makes Yoongi turns around. “I—I wanted to ask your name.”

Normally, Yoongi would say, “why?” to such an oddly intrusive question. But now, he blurts, “What’s yours?”

He looks surprised. “Namjoon,” he says. A deep as his voice is, it doesn’t carry. It doesn’t boom. In fact, it’s soft around the edges, like torn paper. “Kim Namjoon.”

It tastes like home on Yoongi’s tongue. “Min Yoongi.”

“You were the one with the flat and the bad brake pads.”

“I—what?”

“I saw you three days ago. I,” Namjoon reaches up to rub at the nape of his neck. He’s embarrassed. He’s embarrassed? Yoongi can’t fathom what about. “The scent of you filled this place. If it doesn’t for you, I’m sorry for taking your time and bothering you. I—” He seems ready, without even hearing Yoongi’s answer, to bolt. “Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“You do.”

Yoongi’s right, and almost too late. There must be something on his face, a mixture of confusion and fright, but also what he hopes is relief, that turns Namjoon away. “You do. It’s actually giving me a headache. The good kind.” Yoongi has never had the good kind of a headache, but he has one now.

“I—what, I smell like something to you?”

“Yeah. Cinnamon and whiskey.”

Namjoon opens his mouth, closes it. Opens his mouth, closes it, a fish out of water until he finds his words again. “Laundry.”

The noise Yoongi makes borders on gently offended. “Laundry?”

“I don’t know,” Namjoon says, helpless.

“Is that it?”

“Grass.”

“Grass,” Yoongi repeats. “I smell like laundry and grass to you.”

“It’s not the smell of laundry and grass, per se,” says Namjoon. “But the feeling of it. Laundry in the springtime after a particularly long winter. Grass between your toes. Promises of peach cobbler and pies cooling in windows. A picture of whimsy that we don’t allow ourselves anymore. It’s no more a smell than a feeling.” He looks up, having lost himself in his words, and immediately looks small. “Too much. Too much. You’re not one for poetry, I can tell.”

Yoongi isn’t. He likes to play music too loud with the windows down and flip people off when they drive too close to him.

“Are you busy this weekend?” is what he says instead.

 

When Yoongi presented as an omega, it took some time for reality to catch up with him.

He’d gone through most of his life expecting to be an alpha. A beta, maybe, but he heard it from everyone: his parents, his friends, people who have never spoken a word to him but cowed under the weight of his gaze. There has always been something inexplicably assured and steady about him. Of course he would be an alpha. The idea was as solid as the sky was blue and as water was wet, and yet one spring some six years ago, Yoongi woke up with a raging warmth beneath his skin so uncomfortable that he wanted to crawl out of the flesh of his body.

Even then, he couldn’t wrap his mind around it.

Springtime. Yoongi turns the thought over and over in his head. He was born on the cusp of it, at the fleecy, pilled end of winter. Laundry, grass, peach cobbler. None of these share the same fabric of being, and yet he thinks he understands.

“Min Yoongi?”

He looks up when his name is called, and follows the nurse into the clinic.

They go through his vitals, his weight, as per the routine. The nurse glances at the reason for visit—presentation, Yoongi had neatly ticked off on his waiting room survey—and raises her eyebrows briefly.

“You’re twenty-five, Yoongi?”

“Yeah. Late presentation, I know.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” she says, with the air of someone who’s been caught. Yoongi does not deign this with an answer, because as much as he hates it, she isn’t wrong, either. Taehyung presented when he was eighteen. From what he tells Yoongi, Jeongguk had come even earlier. Hoseok and Jimin had presented just before their twentieth birthdays.

Not to say he was concerned. Yoongi is almost glad, because the longer he hasn’t had to worry about the fate his biology has decided for him, the longer he’s had to pour his consciousness into work. As if karma has caught up to him, though, of course it had to be now.

“Your blood pressure is on the higher side,” says the nurse when she undoes the cuff from his arm. The blood tingles in Yoongi’s fingers, hot oil in a skillet, impatient. “And it’s usually on the lower end, so that’s a telltale sign of presentation. Your doctor will order bloodwork to be sure.”

“I always thought it was impossible to tell without bloodwork.”

“Your body temperature is elevated. Higher blood pressure means that you’re presenting during a stressful period in your life, and when has presentation ever come at the right time?” She gives his knuckles a commiserating pat as she notes one last thing on her clipboard and beckons for him to stand up. “Anything bothering you lately?”

Everything is always bothering Yoongi. If it’s not work, then it’s his social life. If it’s not his social life, then it’s his own health. If it’s not his health, it’s some uncomfortable wash instructions tab on the seam of his shirt. Peace, if even for a moment, is a foreign concept to him that sounds like a luxury he’ll never know.

“Somewhat.”

“Deadlines at work?”

“In a sense.”

She leaves him alone after that, when it becomes obvious that Yoongi’s not going to open up any more. Then he’s alone.

As a kid, Yoongi had feared that, if he breathed in malodorous public bathroom air, then it’d get stuck in him until he breathed it back out. He spent many a panicked moment hyperventilating every time he came out of one until he could be sure the smell was out. Maybe it was only an unfounded childhood fear, the reason for which he can no longer remember. But now, sitting here, feeling like cinna-caramel-whiskey can’t and won’t leave him, he thinks he can understand his little self a bit.

In lingers on the back of his tongue, under his fingernails, at the hair at the base of his neck.

The doctor tells him what he already expects. She sweeps in in a flurried white coat of tight scheduling and professional, pointed questions, and Yoongi lets her interrupt his explanations to mine for the point. Do you have an idea who it is? Good, any changes in physical health that we should know about? What medications are you taking already?

She pauses as he clicks into his profile on the monitor. Yoongi simply waits and allows her to read. He already know what must be there, antidepressants listed neatly together in a small dialog box. “I see,” she says, skimming the shorthand that Yoongi’s medical physician had taken down already. “Well. That changes things a little.”

“Does it?”

“The nurse noted that you seemed to be strung a little thin. You see,” and she pushes away from the desk to look at Yoongi fully now. Her attention seems to be with him entirely for the first time this afternoon. “Later presenters are working with bodies that have already settled into a comfortable equilibrium. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about being a late presenter, despite whatever stigmas there may be, it does give you unique challenges that are usually easily regulated with medication.”

“So.”

“The way that you’re describing your initial reaction to scent tells me that it’s much stronger than if you were to have met your mate at a younger age. Which means your body is dumping all sorts of neurotransmitters and other hormones into your system, which in turn will mess with prescriptions you already have. And, with all that in mind, I think it’d be good if I put you on a neuro-regulator until your body adjusts.”

The short of it is: Yoongi is put on a carefully controlled cocktail of medications, and he’s not sure how he feels about it. The deadline at work shifts quietly behind him, as if reminding him of its presence. Four weeks of time is not much to get what he’s been asked of done, and he’d rather not attempt it on another prescription. But if the doctor says is right, and it must be, then he’ll hardly be any better without it.

“Thank you,” he tells the pharmacist after she passes the pill bottle over the counter.

“Don’t hesitate to come back if you have any concerns, or if it gives you any bad side effects,” she says after him.

 

It doesn’t give Yoongi any trouble, as long as he doesn’t count the part where he almost forgets about The Weekend. He doesn’t Forget forget, not like Jeongguk forgets things. He only remembers twelve hours before, which is forgetful for him.

“That is your seventh shirt, and they all look the same,” Jeongguk complains as Yoongi tightens the belt of his pants around it. “At this point I feel like you’re just trying to show off your expansive collection of rayon button-ups.”

“They don’t all look the same. This one has beading on the collar, which frames his face pretty well. You look good, hyung.”

“Thank you, Taehyung. Why did you have to bring your seatwarmer?”

Taehyung pats Jeongguk’s thighs, on which he is comfortably perched. “To warm my seat.”

Jeongguk makes a noise like a milked cow.

“But I still think you looked best in pink.”

“I am not wearing that. That was a joke. Not to mention I’d rather die than let Seokjin know that I arrived at my first date with my future mate in a shirt that he claimed would look good on me.”

“So it is a date!” Jeongguk crows, looking victorious.

Yoongi grunts. He’d spent all evening denying that this was a date, because literally all they’d exchanged was where to meet up and the time to meet up at. It’s the same way Yoongi schedules appointments with clients.

“That is a date, hyung. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.”

Fine, so it’s a date. Yoongi hasn’t been on one of those since he graduated, not for lack of trying, but, again—he doesn’t run into too many single alphas his age. He sways with the movements of the subway as it pulls out of his station and hurtles into dark underground. Someone turns their head when he walks by, and immediately, Yoongi is self-conscious. Even when they turn away, attention no more than a flicker of a flame on him, he feels his skin warm at the cuffs of his shirt. What does he smell like, now? Does he smell the same to everyone? Isn’t it embarrassing?

Yoongi looks up at the address Namjoon had given him.

It’s a bookstore.

Namjoon had sent him to a bookstore.

Yoongi is torn between being immediately in love and demanding a refund.

He had assumed it was a cafe. Yoongi hadn’t even looked up the damn place beforehand, assuming it would be a cafe, something safe, and immediately feels overdressed in his button-up. A pair of students hurries past him in the wintry chill, and a blast of warm air gusts against him when the door opens. He slips inside.

There is no scent of caramel, so Yoongi must be here first. Then he sees a cafe, tucked into one end of the bookstore, and feels less like an idiot in his nice jacket. He reads the menu without absorbing a single word. Flavors and finishes float through his field of consciousness and—there.

He smells Namjoon before he sees him. Warm, easy, but this time, the scent doesn’t attack him from all sides, a deep plunge into Arctic water. This time, it feels like a blanket around his shoulders.

“You’re late,” is what he says in lieu of a proper greeting.

“If I tell you that it’s because of who I am as a person, are you still going to stick around?”

Yoongi looks up at him. He’s smiling, but reading the menu, until he returns Yoongi’s gaze. “You look nice.”

“Thanks.” Yoongi gestures at Namjoon, too. He’s in a black turtleneck, and he has Way More Leg than Yoongi recalls. “You, uhm. Same.”

He’s usually very good with words, as long as he plans them. But Namjoon takes it in stride. “Thank you.”

So they order. And they sit. And they talk. Namjoon is comfortable, in a way that Yoongi hadn’t realized he was missing until it’s in front of him. He’s younger. He’s not much of a social butterfly, which Yoongi picked up on, though he’s not sure how he did. He just came from his job at the publishing house. And Yoongi doesn’t need to rummage for words to say with him, at least not until Namjoon asks what he likes to do.

“Carpentry.”

“No, you said that already.” Namjoon scrapes at the milk foam at the bottom of his cup, one last sip of cappuccino left.

“What if I just like wood?”

“I sure hope you do.”

Yoongi gapes at him as Namjoon throws the last bit of his coffee back.

“Sorry. Got a friend who’s a big fan of bad jokes.”

“I’m.” Endeared, is what Yoongi does not say. “I see.” He pauses, thinks. This is a part of him that he doesn’t like to share with someone he’s just met, but he looks at Namjoon’s downcast eyes, embarrassed and full of mirth all the same, and opens his mouth.

“Music.”

There’s a bustle of orders at the counter. A flurry of dings as the barista calls all of them in rapid succession. The mechanical grind of the receipt printer slots between the pages of the books, and Namjoon looks up.

“Music, huh?”

There’s no judgement in his voice. Only wonder.

“Yeah.” There’s no tone of defense in Yoongi’s voice, omnipresent whenever someone parrots his career choice back at him with a hint of surprise. “Music.”

“Writing? Composition?”

“Production. But, uhm. Those too. And sound mixing.”

“That’s what you work in, right?”

Yoongi nods.

“Are you worried about something for it?”

Yoongi shifts. “I guess. How can you tell?”

“You,” and he says the next part with some shame, like it’s his fault, “smell different.”

“Oh.”

“It’s not a bad thing! It’s worrisome. Is it something I can help with?”

Yoongi regards him with some doubt. “I do sound mixing for movie trailers. I don’t know if that’s something you can help with.”

“I know composition pretty well,” Namjoon says. “I can take a go at it.”

If anyone else were to suggest this, Yoongi would just laugh. Hell no, he’d say. No one’s allowed into his music studio, no one knows the password. Like fuck Namjoon, whom Yoongi has known for a grand, formal total of four hours, is going to be privy to it.

Which is of course how he finds himself punching his passcode into the number pad with Namjoon in tow. Of course. Why did he expect anything else?

“You work in a really nice place,” Namjoon says. He seems to be struggling to keep his voice nonchalant, and is failing. The way his eyes go wide when he takes in Yoongi’s setup and equipment betrays him. Yoongi tries not to smile. “Is this all yours?”

Yoongi sinks into his own chair and nods at the empty couch by the door. “Yeah. Took a while to get here.”

“That’s so cool.” Namjoon runs his fingertip along the edge of the glimmering keyboard, powered off. “You’re so cool.”

Yoongi does not blush. He doesn’t even have blood. But he does feel heat rise to his cheeks, and he spins in his chair before Namjoon can catch his expression. The screen of his monitor glows to life when he jiggles his mouse. “So, uhm.” He feels wildly out of place, here in his studio at off-hours, and wearing a button-up. Yoongi usually is in here wearing a pair of sweats. “Right. The track.”

The sound of fabric on fabric, and then Yoongi is acutely aware that Namjoon has scooted up along the length of the couch so that he’s sitting on the end nearest to Yoongi’s desk. “What movie is it?”

A movie about political corruption. Nothing that Yoongi hasn’t seen before, but he’s sent two mixes, already, only to have been met with lackluster responses that amount to something like “It’s good, but it’s not perfect,” and no other help.

“And it’s due next month. Officially, anyway. But I’d like to finish it earlier if I can, so they don’t feel tempted to ask someone else.”

He hits play on the unfinished track, and in the split second before it begins playing, a spike of cinnamon-caramel fills his nose. Even sitting, he feels weak in his knees. The music goes, a soft crescendo, giving way to drums, the beat grounding him. Namjoon listens without moving a muscle.

It’s only ninety seconds of music, one that Yoongi has shuffled and reshuffled, but it feels far too long. Namjoon is far too close. When the last notes peter away, Yoongi would like to let him sit in contemplative silence, but his skin is tingly and warm all over. He finds words just to distract himself.

“So that’s that. It’s—well, it’s alright. I thought the first two drafts were better, but they don’t like them. Now I’m stuck with this, and I don’t like it. But if that means they’ll take it, then. Fine.”

Namjoon searches his face, and Yoongi meets his eyes for only a moment before he tears his own away. Now he remembers why this was a bad idea. They’re close, too close, and he had promised himself that he wasn’t going to simply give in to what their bodies had already decided, and take this the organic way. He wants to know what makes Namjoon tick, the ins and outs of his thoughts, before falling into his arms.

“I think it’s good, hyung,” he says, and his voice is far too gentle. Yoongi’s not good with this sort of thing—if it’s not clipped communication in the workplace, it’s the banter from Taehyung, or Seokjin. Not this intense focus on him, voice muffled by the walls. Their knees are hardly touching but Yoongi can feel the singe of heat from Namjoon’s body like a physical burn.

“Thank you,” Yoongi says, aiming for grateful but only achieving breathless. “Listen, I. Need some air, hold on.”

The concern on Namjoon’s face only makes it as far as his periphery before Yoongi is stumbling out of his chair, towards the door, wrenching it open with all his body weight. It shuts heavily behind him, a muted click, and he leans back against the thickly frosted glass.

He wants to ask himself what he’s doing. But what’s more, is that he’s confused why it feels inherently right. Is this what it means when Taehyung said that meeting Jeongguk was like smelling the smell of home—not realizing what home was until that moment, and not understanding how something he met for the first time could feel familiar? Outside, in the crisper, unheated air of the hallway, the cinnamon turns icy and sweet on his clothes.

Namjoon does not follow him outside. Yoongi wonders if he must be put off by now, and straightens up. He has to go back inside, because at once he knows his absence is starting to get weird, and also, well. His body screams for it. Every cell and molecule yearns to melt through the glass, back into the cocooned warmth beside Namjoon. Yoongi listens to the call—puts his hand on the knob, punches the numbers in with shaking fingers, and swings the door open again.

“Oh—whoa,” Namjoon’s hands come up to steady Yoongi when he runs right into the solid wall of Namjoon’s body. Why is he so close to the door? The chair at Yoongi’s desk is spinning lazily, like he’d sat in it and just vacated it, probably to check on him. Yoongi can feel the heat of Namjoon’s palms through his shirt. If his eyelids flutter a little at the sensation, he’s not acknowledging it. “Sorry. You were out there for a while, I just thought—”

“Do that again.”

Namjoon blinks. “Huh?”

“Do that...again.” Yoongi steps in closer. “Hold me.”

And carefully, so carefully, Namjoon brings his arms up, wraps them around Yoongi’s body as if to cradle glass and filigree, and pulls him in.

Yoongi breathes. He breathes. He breathes some more, as if drowning in oxygen, learning the taste of cinnamon on the backs of air for what seems like the first time. Namjoon crushes him to his chest, gently, as Yoongi clings to him. It’s as if his world, up till now, has been a mass of mismatched metal pieces held together by threads. Namjoon, his scent, and the touch of his body feels like the first time they fit together, nut to bolt, socket to socket, and Yoongi feels his knees go weak all over again.

“Like this?”

“Don’t you dare let go.”

The chuckle Namjoon gives him is more chest than sound. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

 

“He’s not a very intense-looking alpha,” is Jeongguk’s verdict. “But how tall is he? Do you even reach his chin?”

To which Yoongi smacks him. Jeongguk yelps and tries to shimmy out of the way.

“You’re one to talk,” Yoongi says, plucking his phone back out of Jeongguk’s fingers.

“I am so intense-looking,” Jeongguk insists. “Like, a Rottweiler.”

“You’re more like a Pomeranian.”

“Taehyung likes Pomeranians. He has one.”

Yoongi does not withhold his eyeroll.

“Is he cool?” Jeongguk breaks out the important question now. “Do you like him? You need to, well. Like your mate.”

“My body has already decided whether I like it or not.”

“Hyung, please stop being so pragmatic for a damn second. Do you like him?”

Yes, Yoongi likes him. Yoongi likes him a lot. It’s been a week and a half since that warm evening in Genius Lab, and Yoongi hasn’t gone a day without seeing Namjoon. It’s a quiet, absurd sort of dance. Their bodies know the maps better than they do. They just want to take their time to smell the flowers.

Yoongi isn’t the type to go on dates, not really, not the kind that Taehyung is always telling him about. So he’s not sure if any of the hours he’s spent with Namjoon count as dates, or what they really are—sitting together, sometimes with Yoongi’s legs curled into Namjoon’s side, working. One of the days, they’d gone to park in the hills, and Yoongi watched as all manner of woodland creature skittered up to them, begging for scraps.

“Are you a forest nymph?” Yoongi asked. There was a squirrel with its paws on his knees, legs crossed, straining to smell Namjoon’s fried potato skewer.

“They always do this wherever I go,” was Namjoon’s answer. They’d sat there, in the afternoon chill, as Namjoon picked off bits of his own food to share with the squirrels and chipmunks and even a few birds, until he’d had nothing left. Yoongi offered his own.

“Are you sure?” Namjoon asked. “You’ve barely touched it.”

“You didn’t touch yours at all. Too busy feeding Bambi and Friends for that.”

But then Yoongi finds himself here, in Namjoon’s apartment, scent settling on his too-big clothes where he’s curled up with his back against Namjoon’s side on his couch. He has his big headphones on, listening to what seems like the twentieth revision of his trailer draft. Namjoon’s arm is around his waist, mostly on his stomach. Yoongi prides himself in being able to concentrate with it there.

Namjoon says something. It filters in through the headphones as nothing more but a murmur.

“Hm?”

“I asked if you were hungry.”

Yoongi twists his head so he can look at Namjoon’s face, and oh—this is a lot closer than he’s used to. He’s been sitting legs first for all the days leading up to this, and. Namjoon’s jaw is right in front of him. “Not particularly?”

“Your stomach is growling. And has been for half an hour.”

He hadn’t even felt anything. “I don’t mind eating.”

“It’s just. We’d have to go out. I don’t cook.”

The expression on his face makes laughter bubble at the brim of Yoongi’s throat. “No? What’s in your fridge?”

“My roommate’s food,” Namjoon says. “The last time I tried to cook I threw salt instead of flour into a hot pan and set it on fire.”

Namjoon shivers, like the memory still haunts him.

“Let’s go out.”

It isn’t until Yoongi is in the tiny foyer of Namjoon’s apartment, his roommate’s shoes askew by the doormat, when he looks outside, then at himself. He hadn’t brought a jacket—he didn’t think he’d be here this long, anyway, and the wind is rustling through the trees outside something cruel.

“I think I need to borrow a jacket.”

“A jacket? Yeah, feel free. Uh, there are a ton of mostly-clean ones on my chair in my room.”

“Ah, The Chair. Purgatory between The Closet and The Laundry Basket.”

It’s both an amazing and a horrible experience. Yoongi doesn’t realize that this might be a bad idea until he opens Namjoon’s door and the scent hits him like it had the first time, a rucksack full of cinderblocks. Distantly, he can hear the jingle of Namjoon’s keys, the shuffle as he shrugs his own jacket on, and a gentle crash as a shelf of shoes goes tumbling to the ground. Right, Namjoon is clumsy. He tries to fixate on this detail. It’s endearing more than it is exasperating. Yoongi will himself to not go weak in the knees.

“Hyung?”

There—there, beneath his skin, is a telltale simmer of warmth. Yoongi swallows, throat sandpaper.

“Oh, worried you’re not in the right room?” Namjoon bustles past, and Yoongi sways slightly with the brush of his body. A soft click and the light overhead fades in. “You’re fine. Here, I only wore these once—or some of them just for a few hours.”

Yoongi simply stares as Namjoon begins to paw through his pile of jackets. His style is far removed from what Yoongi would wear himself; everything borders on just a little too odd to be conventional—green corduroy with suede patches on the elbows, wool-lined denim, patterns. He finds one that is relatively all-black save for a Supreme logo across the chest.

“Put this on. I got it too small, so it should fit you better.”

Movement from the door to Namjoon is almost robotic. Yoongi clasps the fabric in his hands, room spinning as his skin prickles, and he looks up into Namjoon’s face.

“Namjoon.”

“Yeah?”

Yoongi is almost short of breath even though he hasn’t so much as taken more than five steps. “Namjoon-ah.”

And then, Namjoon’s face changes. There must be a shift in Yoongi’s scent, because understanding bleeds into his expression. His eyes are darker.

“Hyung,” he says, voice still gentle, spun cotton in the muted silence.

It feels like a long distance to close. But one moment, Yoongi is still gazing up into his face. In the next, he’s leaned in, and sometime then he’d fluttered his eyes shut, and Namjoon’s mouth is on his. Or his mouth is on Namjoon’s. It’s hard to say when Yoongi bites down on Namjoon’s lip and when Namjoon licks at the seam of his lips.

“Wait,” Namjoon says, pulling back. Yoongi chases him. It’s very unlike him. He does not even chase his alcohol, much less his men. “Hey, wait.”

“Don’t wanna wait.”

The words come out before Yoongi can go through with a fine tooth comb, and Namjoon stills and stares as Yoongi feels the warmth spread in his cheeks. Then the lines of this brain fall flat, back into militant reason, and Yoongi almost gives himself a little shake. The sweater is still clutched in his hands.

“Sorry.”

Namjoon doesn’t smile, but his eyes are sparkling. “For what?”

Yoongi looks at him, and slowly pulls the jacket over his head. It settles around him, and he steps into Namjoon’s space again and tips his face up.

“This,” he says, leaning in again.

But it never culminates to anything more than kissing—probably for the better, because Yoongi finds that he actually is hungry. There’s an uncomfortable warmth under his skin all evening, though, the harbinger of fever. By the end of dinner, aches have start to set in at Yoongi’s joints.

“Joint aches? You sure you’re not ninety?”

“You’re only a year younger than me.” Yoongi rolls his eyes as Namjoon’s car sprints past slower ones on the highway. Even the joints in his hands and fingers have started to ache, which isn’t a good sign. He needs his hands to work. “It’s fine. I’m fine. Just tired.”

“You’ve been in your studio for eighteen hours at a time every day. You need sleep.”

“Sleep schleep,” Yoongi says. “I’ve done worse.”

“Hyung.” This time, Namjoon does not sound like he’s offering a gentle suggestion. Something in this voice, commanding, the alpha grain of it, turns Yoongi’s head without even needing to touch him. Even in the small space Yoongi can suddenly smell it again: a sharp, staccato spike in the scent of whiskey. “I want you to sleep. You have a few more days left before submission.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says. He rests his forehead against the window, cool, soothing, solid. His voice is barely above a whisper. “Okay.”

 

Suffice it to say that Yoongi does not feel better by the morning. In fact, he feels worse. Usually coming down with a cold means a bad first night, fever and body aches taking center stage, followed by two weeks of sniffling and coughing and the general feeling of malaise.

Today, Yoongi wakes up and he feels like moving is a punishment tailored specially for him. There’s a pain deep in his abdomen. His hands are shaking. He’d taken two Advils before bed and he’s still overly hot and feverish to the touch, and when he sits up, he sways.

The first thing his mind says is Namjoon.

To which the rational part of him says to shut up.

Fuck. He does not have time to be sick, not with the deadline of his trailer mix so near. It does not matter if it hurts to even be alive right now. Yoongi is counting on the royalties from this mix to carry him through the rest of this year, at least.

Time passes strangely over the course of the day. When Yoongi gets out of bed to get dressed and find food, the minutes can’t wait to rush by, not even bothering to apologize as they brush past him. By the time he gets to his studio, they’ve come to nearly a standstill. Then they snail by, as if forgetting to even pass. Yoongi works as long as his brain allows and checks the clock. It’s 2:03. He works more. It’s 2:07.

It’s only been four minutes, but he swears several eternities rolled by in each.

Inadvertently, he finds his thoughts wandering to Namjoon again. Focus, music. He’d sat on these clothes that Yoongi is wearing today, his scent is still there, warm. Focus, music. Yoongi doesn’t even like this coat, why’d he wear it? Focus, music. It drapes in odd places, too big in the body, too small in the wrists. Yoongi’s both overheating in it but unable to get warm. Focus, music.

Focus.

A flare of warmth rises in his abdomen. Belatedly does Yoongi realize what it all means—the need to feel Namjoon’s scent nearby, the aches, the inability to concentrate. The telltale sear of heat tingles beneath the surface of his skin.

How is this possible? Yoongi dives for his bag in a futile attempt for answers, or at least for his neuro-regulator as if it’ll help. His hands are shaking. There’s a thin clack of pen to wood when it rolls off his desk and he hyperfixate on it as it tumbles into a forest of wires under his desk.

Some of the pills spill from the bottle when he finally yanks it from the depth of his bag. There are no answers on it, none that he wants, and he’s about to drop it in frustration when he sees the words Take once per day with food. Caution: May cause nausea, fluctuation in weight, and drowsiness. May trigger irregular heats. Avoid operating heavy machinery.

“Fuck,” he says aloud. “Fuck.”

For Yoongi, the onset of his heat is fast. Taehyung has helpfully shared that he can function for long enough to get out of work when he feels the first symptoms of heat set in, but Yoongi is not so lucky. One second, he’s okay. The next he’s—

—stumbling into the hall. Sweat beads at his temples as he struggles to get his USB full of music files and composition book into his bag, because Yoongi could be scheduled to snuff it tomorrow and he’ll still spitefully work until that deadline.

Namjoon, his brain says, screams now. Namjoon, Namjoon. Namjoon.

“No,” Yoongi groans. The insides of his mouth feel like cotton, tongue chafing against the roof of his mouth. He’s made to the elevators. All he needs to do is make it downstairs and into his car and then he’ll be safe. Even when he passed through the lobby he could sense heads turn in his periphery. What was it that Namjoon had said about his scent—something about laundry? Pies?

Try as he might, it’s not use. Yoongi would love to fool himself into thinking he can make the drive home but the second he falls into the driver’s seat in his car, he knows he’s too late. The seat of his pants has already started to dampen with slick and red-hot shame colors his cheeks. He hopes no one had noticed.

His forehead thunks against the steering wheel. Yoongi sits and shivers, hugging himself in the sweater that smells like Namjoon, but not enough. He listens to the pitter patter of rain against the roof of his car. The outside had smelled of rain when he left the building, ozone pungent enough to smother the smell of his pheromones. The places where his jacket touches his skin erupts in goosebumps. Slick pools beneath him.

Yoongi has his phone in his hand before he can register what he’s doing. Then he has the phone to his ear, and Min Yoongi Never Makes Phone Calls. He doesn’t even know if Namjoon will pick up—it’s the middle of the day. He said he worked in, what—publishing? Composition? Bit of both? Neither?

“Hello?”

“Namjoon-ah,” Yoongi says in his steadiest voice. He doesn’t trust himself to say anything else right away. There’s a whimper right behind his teeth.

There’s a pause. Then Namjoon’s voice fills the space of his car.

“What’s wrong?”

Yoongi aims for steady again, but all his words are prefaced with breathless pants, and he blows his cover. “Uhm, I might have a bit of a problem.”

“Are you in heat?”

Namjoon asks without a beat of hesitation. There’s no knowing tease in his voice, no triumphant alpha leer. Only concern.

“I think so.” Yoongi swallows, the tack of spit uncomfortable on his tongue. “Yeah, it’s bad. Please, I—” Fuck, not the begging. “I need you.”

“I’ll be right there. Where are you?”

Yoongi shuts his eyes. “Parked outside my studio.”

“Don’t move.”

He couldn’t even if he wanted to. The ridged leather of the steering wheel digs into Yoongi’s forehead as he sits, hunched over, feeling worse and worse as time passes. Where is Namjoon? Thoughts grow more fragmented as heat hazes his brain. Namjoon. Namjoon, where is he? Why isn’t he here yet?

The glow of headlights and the sound of tires on wet asphalt makes Yoongi lift his head high enough to peer out the windshield. The world is blurred and soft around the edges with rain. A tall, dark-coated figure steps out of the car, headlights blinking, his umbrella a red sunburst against the dreary afternoon.

“Namjoon,” Yoongi says. His hand shakes so badly that he can hardly get his locks, and the second he does, Namjoon is yanking the door open himself.

“Are you okay—oh. Shit.” Namjoon swallows and Yoongi can only imagine what it must be like for him. Yoongi’s been sitting in his car smoking up the insides with his heatscent and it comes pouring out all at once into Namjoon’s face. His gaze darkens. “Okay,” he breathes, and the sight of it steadies Yoongi a bit. “Take this.”

He hands Yoongi the umbrella. The next part isn’t what Yoongi predicts, this is not part of what Yoongi expected from any of this: Namjoon bending down with surprising grace, wrapping his arms under Yoongi’s thighs and at his back, and scooping him cleanly out of his seat. Yoongi winces when he sees the dark patch of slick staining the upholstery.

“Put me down,” Yoongi argues, voice thin.

“You look like you’re going to eat cement if I do that. If you want to be useful—can you get the door?”

Yoongi collapses in a heap in the passenger seat where Namjoon deposits him. The scent of cinnamon whiskey is so strong in here that Yoongi’s head spins, and he squirms when he feels another ripple of slick wet the seat of his pants.

“I’m fucking up your seats,” Yoongi says as Namjoon buckles in.

“That is the least of my worries.”

“My car.”

“You park here overnight all the time.” Namjoon peels out of the quiet, deserted street, and Yoongi presses his head to the cool glass of the window. “When did it start?”

“This morning.”

“Was it because of me? I’m sorry.”

“No,” Yoongi finds himself answering. “It’s not your fault.”

The rest of the drive is quiet as Yoongi wrestles with keeping a grasp on his train of thought and giving into the urge to touch Namjoon. He’s still shivering, mouth dry, as he closes his eyes and breathes against the window. A lunar circle of condensation forms by his lips.

“Sorry, I’m sorry. We’re almost there.”

Almost stretches out before them, uncharted road. Yoongi wonders if Namjoon is as collected as he sounds, but he hadn’t hesitated for even a moment when Yoongi called him, wracked with heat. The thought of it almost makes him want to cry, and he might. Just a little.

“Hurts,” Yoongi says.

“I know. I can smell it.”

“What’s it like?”

“Burnt sugar,” Namjoon says, the answer at the front of his mind. “And it’s impossible to focus on the road, actually.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says. He’s pleased with this confirmation that he’s not the only one that feels undone, like a handful of cut ribbons with no ties.

Stringing thoughts together is out of the question by the time they get to Namjoon’s apartment. Yoongi leans heavily against him in the elevator and it takes every fiber of his being not to climb Namjoon’s body right there. That much he saves until the door has closed behind them and Namjoon grunts with the weight of him.

“Please.”

Namjoon’s eyes are glassy as he gets his hands under Yoongi to support him, where his legs are wrapped around Namjoon’s waist. “I’m here,” he says. “I’m right here.”

Yoongi kisses him.

Heats coming as a surprise mean that Yoongi doesn’t have a chance for convention. There’s no nest. There isn’t water by the table. But somehow, even without these things, heat doesn’t feel so scary when Namjoon sets him down so gently on his bed that Yoongi has to break away from Namjoon’s lips to push his face into his neck.

“Burning, it’s burning.”

“Where?” Namjoon says. The palms of his hands are cool and dry, points of sanity on Yoongi’s skin. Trying to find words is hard but Yoongi plucks them from his brain.

“Everywhere, please. Namjoon. Namjoon-ah—”

Namjoon’s eyes are dark as he lowers Yoongi onto the bed. It’s gentle in the way that makes Yoongi want to scream, but also a little but like he wants to cry, so he compromises and whimpers. It seems to make Namjoon climb into bed with him faster, so he can’t say he’s mad about it, even if it is undignified. His skin is still burning. The sheets are cold through his shirt, after being empty for so long.

“It’s going to be okay,” Namjoon says. When he fits his palm to Yoongi’s cheek, Yoongi doesn’t hold back the shudder of his body at the touch. “Fuck, you’re burning. Do you want me to—”

“Yes, hurry up.” Yoongi tears at the buttons of his shirt, some small voice in the back of his head hating himself for wearing a shirt with buttons today. What was he thinking? “Please. Please, it hurts—”

So Namjoon makes it better. It hurts, and Yoongi hates hurting like this. There is no sense of control, and Yoongi needs it, or at least a false sense of it, in all aspects of his life, but this is one part of himself that he has to hand to Namjoon to know comfort. But Namjoon’s hands are shaking as much as his, and it grounds him, somewhat, knowing he’s not in this alone.

“Sorry, I haven’t done this in a while,” Namjoon mutters as he struggles near the end of the line of buttonholes.

“A while?” Yoongi says hazily. Even in his haze this pings in his thoughts, sourly.

“Yeah, well. I thought maybe by the day I met my mate, they’d appreciate if I. Knew what I was doing.” Namjoon laughs, breathless. “Though I’m not sure that’s working right now.”

Yoongi’s heart does something funny, mostly stupid. The air hits his bare skin now that his shirt is open, but he reaches up to Namjoon’s collar and pulls him in until their mouths meet—it’s hot, warm, and Yoongi immediately pants into it without realizing he’s been craving this sort of contact all day. Then he feels Namjoon’s weight settle more heavily upon him—the rough denim of Namjoon’s waist against the soft skin of Yoongi’s lower stomach, and chest to chest. He whimpers again, yes, please—he’s been waiting, he’s still waiting, it feels like he’s always been waiting.

“It’s working,” Yoongi says, pulling Namjoon back only enough to say it against his lips. “So keep doing it.”

They kiss for what could be just another second, but it could be a whole minute, or an hour, or the entire rainy evening. Time passes differently in heat, only becoming real when Namjoon gathers the strength to pull back and yank the hem of his sweater over his head. He moves to get Yoongi out of his clothes.

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says.

Namjoon’s hands still on his belt buckle. “For what?”

“I’m going to mess up your sheets.”

Yoongi watches him for a reaction. Namjoon blinks at him. Then he laughs.

“Hyung,” he says, resting his forehead against Yoongi’s collarbone.

“What,” Yoongi says irritably, wiggling as he feels his slick pooling in the seat of his pants. “It’s true. I’m getting slick on you, and your sheets, and your bed, and it’s still in your car, and—”

“Hyung,” Namjoon repeats. This time, Yoongi lets him finish. “I like it.”

“You—”

“That’s what mates do.”

Mates. It’s not official yet, not really, but it’s stupid to think otherwise. Yoongi swallows.

“Then get on with it, alpha,” he says.

That’s enough to make Namjoon move. Yoongi’s hands are shaking, so he fists them tighter in the sheets, and Namjoon—smells a little like he’s nervous, but his fingers are deft and sure. The belt loosens around Yoongi’s waist with a few clinks and he allows his head to fall back into the pillows.

The haze of heat makes him drift until Yoongi feels bare skin brush against the soft inside of his thighs, and his body jolts at the contact. “Shh,” Namjoon says, running his palm down the length of Yoongi’s leg. “’S just me.”

“Namjoon—Namjoon-ah.” Yoongi’s throat feels thick, from heat, but also from emotion. “Need. Need you.”

“I know,” Namjoon presses a kiss into the curve of the bridge of his nose. The shift of his body means Yoongi can feel his cock press lightly into his hip and he sucks in a breath so harsh that it catches in his lungs. “Relax, okay?”

The warmth of Namjoon’s body fades, but he props the backs of Yoongi’s thighs up in his own lap before Yoongi can complain. It opens him up, and Yoongi feels both exposed and vulnerable, but he finds that he isn’t uncomfortable. Not when it’s Namjoon.

“Are you sure you even need that?”

“You’re very lucid for an omega in heat,” Namjoon says, laughing quietly, as he drizzles lube into his open palm. “It’s impressive.”

“Lot of control,” Yoongi mutters, relaxing.

As he predicted, it’s redundant, the lube; Namjoon runs his hand down until it’s at Yoongi’s entrance, and just for a moment presses the pad of his thumb inside him. It comes away coated with slick, and he hums. “Okay?”

“Please, yes.”

Everything moves in wordless motion starting from: here. Namjoon breathes, one inhale. He presses one finger into Yoongi. Then two. The both of them sink inside easily, and Yoongi worries his lower lip cherry-red at the feeling. It’s a drop of water to the fire. It’s something, but it’s nothing. Namjoon breathes, one exhales. Air rushes in and out of Yoongi’s body, gasping, as he feels slick leak onto Namjoon’s thighs.

Yoongi tries to form words—that’s what he does, even in times when he can’t find them. He has always had words, at least inside his head, all shouting at the same time. Now, there’s only one, and it’s just Namjoon.

So he uses his hands. He reaches out, grasps at nothing before he finds Namjoon’s wrist to the hand that’s pressed to the crest of Yoongi’s hip. It’s solid, sinewy, and Yoongi tugs at it until he feels Namjoon’s body folding over his. He breathes, two gasps, and Namjoon kisses him like he so wants. He kisses and kisses until Yoongi feels like his whole body is liquefying, simmering under his skin, and Namjoon seems unopposed to indulging him forever just like this—suspended in the delayed animation of time where heat doesn’t hurt.

But then Namjoon puts his palm to Yoongi’s cock, and everything speeds up again. Everything hurts, no longer muted, and he chokes before pushing his hips into the touch. Precome beads at the tip before running down into the circle of Namjoon’s hand, and he fists his fingers tighter as he pumps Yoongi’s cock.

Words find him again. “More, please,” Yoongi says, not sure what he wants more of. “More, now.”

Namjoon lets go, and finally, he gets some of Yoongi’s slick on himself. Yoongi watches without processing most of it, though his body reacts to it—the gentle swipe of Namjoon’s fingers to collect enough of it to coat himself. The outline of Namjoon’s body is bathed in dim lamplight, and the bed creaks again when he shifts close.

“Okay?”

“Okay.”

The rush of air is loud in Yoongi’s ears as he tries to control his breathing. Namjoon pushes in slow, the stretch of him settling the burn under Yoongi’s skin. Not by much, but just enough to dull the edges. He stops when he gets to the hilt, puts a hand to the side of Yoongi’s ribs, feels him breathe.

“I’m going to move.”

Yoongi nods, taking Namjoon’s wrist again. Reaching for his hand seems too direct, but Namjoon moves at his touch, pulling out. Something in Yoongi’s brain panics at the thought of Namjoon not being near, but he wrestles it down. Namjoon sets a slow pace, his other hand around the underside of Yoongi’s thigh to hitch it more securely around his waist.

“Faster,” Yoongi grits, into the swell of Namjoon’s shoulder. “Please, it’s not enough.”

Namjoon listens wordlessly. He hits something in Yoongi that makes a hoarse whimper falls from Yoongi’s lips, and it finally starts to peel back the heat at the edges, one that can’t stop bubbling over. Pain, desire. The pain starts to burn away, alcohol over fire. Namjoon fucks him, harder, making Yoongi’s body slide a bit against the mattress. The wet noise of his slick against Namjoon’s thighs fills the spaces between their breathing.

Heat builds in the right places, now, in Yoongi’s cheeks and low in his abdomen. He almost cries with the relief of it, grabbing Namjoon’s hand in earnest now as his orgasm crests. Namjoon can sense it, whether it be for his hand, or the way Yoongi’s breath quickens, and thrusts harder.

“Close,” Yoongi says. He thinks he says, anyway—some sort of noise leaves his mouth and close is its intent.

Namjoon doesn’t say anything in reply. Instead, he turns his face and presses his mouth right into Yoongi’s, kissing him as he comes in ribbons between them. It spatters over Namjoon’s own stomach, too, and he pulls out.

“No, wait—”

“I’m not going to knot you,” Namjoon says. “Not before we’ve talked about it.”

Yoongi drops his head back into the pillows. Trust Namjoon to think rationally, and he bites his lip to hold back the words that spring to his lips, rash and heat-driven. He opts to trap Namjoon between his legs despite how jelly-weak they feel, watching him pump at his cock until his body locks up and he comes, too.

The come down is slow. Most of it is spent in breaths. The warmth in Yoongi’s limbs has already begun to build again, and he knows it’s going to be another insatiable few hours before it’ll let him rest, but he gathers the shrapnel of his thoughts and forms words.

“Thank you,” is the first thing he says.

Namjoon chuckles, breath ragged. You’re welcome, it means. He, too, takes a while longer before he speaks.

“It was my pleasure.”

“I wager it must have been,” Yoongi says dryly, and Namjoon laughs again, stronger this time. He pulls away, footsteps padding around the room and into the hallway, and Yoongi allows himself to drift in the afterglow until the touch of warm towel makes him startle.

“How long do you usually need before it can die down for the day?” Namjoon asks as he gets all the biggest smears of come and slick.

Yoongi sighs. “A while.”

“Six hours?”

“God, no.” His head throbs when he looks up, but Namjoon is already climbing back into bed and arranging himself so that Yoongi can curl up against him. “I’m an easy man to please.”

Namjoon shifts, lying in the damp spot so Yoongi doesn’t have to, holding him more securely to his chest when Yoongi shivers. “What do you need right now?” he asks, soft.

The skin of Namjoon’s chest is warm when Yoongi shifts his face to look up, then stretches up to kiss. He misses slightly, getting the corner of Namjoon’s mouth, and feels a lazy smile tug at his lips.

“A nap.” He struggles to hold his eyes open. “Namjoon-ah.”

“Mhm?”

“Promise after I can function you wake me up to finish my mix.”

He’s out like a light, the ghost of Namjoon’s laugh at his temple.

“Okay.”

 

On an unbearably sunny day, Yoongi receives a phone call.

He’s going back to the studio after meeting Jeongguk. Evidently, the kid has a couple of beat he’s been working on, and wants Yoongi to give it a once over. What he said was, “I hear your hot new mate has an ear for music too, so feel free to listen to it in a number of environment and states of dress to let me know how it sounds.”

“He’s not my mate yet. And if this is a sex playlist, I am going to spit in your eye.”

“Ooh, is Namjoon-ssi into that?”

It’s not as satisfying to thwack someone with a USB, not like it would have been with a CD sleeve, so Yoongi’s fist connected with Jeongguk’s shoulder. He has a feeling he did more damage to himself and his chicken wrist than he did to Jeongguk, but it’s the punch that counts.

Yoongi almost misses it, music loud, and just catches it at the last second.

“Hello—can I please speak to Min Yoongi, thank you.”

“Yes, this is he.”

“Oh, excellent. Right, Yoongi, I’m calling from CJ to let you know that we’ve decided to go with your mix for the New World trailer. This was the sort of atmosphere that we were looking for and you beat out the competition. Please let me know about your scheduling and availability for you to discuss commission and royalties.”

Yoongi momentarily zonks out of what he’s doing and barely manages to brake in time to not hit the car in front of him. “Wow,” he allows. “Wow, okay. Holy—thank you. I’d love to call you back when I’m not driving to discuss just that.”

She bids him farewell and a safe drive, but Yoongi can barely focus on the rest of his drive. More than once he forgets where he’s supposed to be headed, head in the clouds until he sees Namjoon’s car parked outside his studio building and it brings him back to earth. Namjoon is already here.

Right. Right, today they were supposed to have The Talk about mating.

The faint smell of cinnamon lingers in the elevator, wafts down the hall. Yoongi does not burst into his studio any more than someone who lets himself into his room as one condemned, but today the door gives a light pop as he shoves it open.

“Hey,” he says breathlessly. Namjoon is already smiling. “Hey, guess what?”

“They took your track.”

“How’d you know?”

“I can smell it on you,” Namjoon says. “Congratulations. I knew you’d be chosen.”

“So did I,” Yoongi sniffs, and Namjoon laughs. “But thank you. For lending an ear.”

Namjoon lets his laughter drift into a quiet smile. “I know what we came here for today, but.” He shrugs. “If you want to go out to dinner and celebrate the old-fashioned way instead, I’m game.”

Celebrating, or—well, celebrating. It’s happiness either way. Winning something, and finding one’s place beside someone else. A celebration of work and a celebration of them.

A while ago, Yoongi might have told himself he should pick one and be okay with it. There must be a give for a take, a karmic balance of good and bad, but today, he allows himself this.

“Why not both?” he says.

“Or both,” Namjoon says, eyes glittering with unsaid words.

Namjoon’s hand is warm and solid in his own when Yoongi takes it. “I’ll drive.”

“I love you,” Namjoon says fervently. He seems to only realize what he’s said when Yoongi casts him an amused, sidelong glance, and sputters. “I—you, uhm. Don’t have to feel any pressure or anything. It just came out.”

“I know.”

“You know? I’m serious, though. I’m sorry if that made you uncomfortable. You don’t have to take that as any indication of how I want our Talk to go later, so—”

“Namjoon.”

“Yes,” Namjoon says.

“You are going to stop talking.”

“Okay.”

“And I’m going to kiss you now. So you should close your eyes.”

The air seems to come out of him as he laughs, eyes turning into sunlit lines in his face, before his smile fades. Yoongi waits, watching, holding his hands.

Namjoon closes his eyes, and Yoongi leans in.