New York City is an unyielding place.
When Jimin first moved into the city, he came with one dingy suitcase, his black Jansport from high school, a wardrobe of ill-fitting graphic tees, and a distractingly large chip on his shoulder. His first home in New York City had been a shitty NYU suite off of 12th St and Broadway that he shared with Jung Hoseok. Hoseok had moved into the apartment with three massive pieces of sleek, matching luggage, a leather backpack, and a cleaning crew that was already finished scrubbing the place from top to bottom by the time Jimin and his mom entered the premises. Later that night, on the phone with his mother back in Korea, he described the location of the apartment in proximity to Le Poisson Rouge, which was ridiculous then and even more ridiculous now.
Over the course of their first few weeks of school, Jimin had watched Hoseok throw soft, fluffy blankets artfully over the arm of their sterile student-housing couch, set out framed photos, and pin up prints that he and Jimin picked out from a gallery that Hoseok put together. He rolled out a rug underneath their coffee table that suddenly made the room stop looking like a hospital break room and more like a home. He put a stand-up lamp in the corner of their common space and strung up tiny, sparkling lanterns along the perimeter of the room.
Jimin’s side of their shared bedroom looked like prison cell, and Hoseok told him so one day. It solidified Jimin’s suspicion that Hoseok was definitely a dick to the tenth degree. Hoseok had been still in the thick of dorm decorating mania and flipping through a magazine looking for inspiration. He periodically asked Jimin for his opinion, and kept giving pointed suggestions on what color palettes might be complementary to the mid-century tropical vibe that Hoseok was going for on his side of the room.
“I mean, unless you plan on sticking with this penitentiary chic thing that you have going on,” Hoseok had finished plainly, loudly turning the page in his magazine without looking up.
Jimin, in the middle of a particularly punishing problem set and with no patience for Hoseok’s little rich boy bullshit, had snapped. “Thanks for the suggestion, but I like it like this. Reminds me of the hovel I spawned from.”
Hoseok looked up from his magazine with one raised eyebrow, outlined softly by the warm light of the decorative lamp on his bedside table. They laugh about it now, but at the time, Jimin really wanted to murder him in his sleep. It had all seemed so easy for Hoseok, his transition to the city eased by money and connections that Jimin did not and would never have.
Hoseok had looked up and told him, “This place doesn’t give a shit whether you make it here or not. Either you decide to make a home here, or it eats you alive. I’m just trying to help.”
Jimin, eighteen and petulant and poor, had scooped up all of his homework at once and spent the next five hours fuming in the library and then at the shitty 24-hour coffee shop around the corner, like he could work his way out from under the truth of Hoseok’s words.
When he came home, it was to a pack of the tiny string lanterns and a small, potted plant with tall, shiny leaves on his otherwise barren desk. Stuck to the pot was a sticky note embossed with an ornate JH, and Hoseok’s curly, childish handwriting, Sorry for calling your side of the room a prison cell! Welcome home.
Jimin had gotten mad all over again, but—the plant looked really nice on his desk so it stayed. And later, after the Great Passive-Aggressive Post-It Note War of 2012 and the spring recital for their dance group when they finally made the jump from frenemies to real friends, Jimin strung up the lights.
The night he put them up was one week before their designated move-out date and 12 hours after he and Hoseok had decided to live together again, to the surprise of absolutely everyone. Hoseok had walked into their room with the pizza they ordered to celebrate just as Jimin was climbing down off of his desk, the lights twinkling enchantingly along the shelf that now held pictures of Jimin and his mom, group shots of his friends, and lastly, a framed photo of him and Hoseok at their dance recital.
You’re a petty bitch, Hoseok had said, his laugh loud and delighted as he plopped down onto the rug at the center of their room.
Jimin had grinned, flopping onto the rug with him, his head landing in Hoseok’s lap as he chirped, Welcome home!
That was the beginning—the first time he thought he might be able to find a place here. Jimin, now, in a private room in a trendy sushi bar on the Upper West Side, surrounded by his very best friends, celebrating a book deal, and flanked by the man of his dreams? Jimin at 18 with his bad haircut and baby fat and bad attitude would have never. The way that things had actually panned out were far beyond the reaches of his reluctant optimism.
Namjoon, caring and attentive Kim Namjoon, sets his hand gently on Jimin’s knee under the table. Around them, Tae is doing a loud dramatic reenactment of Hoseok watching Moana for the first time and Hoseok is screaming to try and get them to stop, both much to Yoongi’s delight. Tae is sparkling tonight, the low light catching on the glitter dabbed across their eyelids, and the dangling silver jewelry at their ears, incandescent with happiness in the way that is threatening to eat Jimin up as well. Jimin snaps out of his daze and tilts his head in Namjoon’s direction.
“Hi,” Jimin says, leaning close. Jimin is a little tipsy and a lot nostalgic, and it casts Namjoon in an even more golden light than usual. Jimin grins at him, because he can, because Namjoon is so good and should be grinned at.
“Where’d you go, Park Jimin?” Namjoon asks, brushing his thumb across Jimin’s cheekbone.
Jimin softens into the touch, feeling a lot at once. He sighs. “Thinking about how Jimin at 18 would be seething with jealousy at Jimin at 28.”
Namjoon smiles, wide and amused, and Jimin wonders when the sight will stop making his stomach feel like it is dropping out of his body. He drops his hand to lace his fingers with Jimin’s. “Oh yeah?”
Jimin nods emphatically, reaching for his glass of champagne with his free hand. He takes a gulp. “Big time. I was such a mean kid. I hated when I thought anyone was doing better than me,” he replies on a gasped inhale after downing his glass. “I never thought I could have a life like this.”
Namjoon kisses him on the cheek, presses his smile to Jimin's skin. His breath smells like sushi and champagne. Jimin loves him, it's gross. "Like what? One where you lose your hearing because all your friends do is yell at each other?”
Jimin makes a face. Namjoon continues, pressing his fingers into Jimin's side to make him squirm, "One where your dweeb boyfriend wakes you up in the middle of the night once a week over a conspiracy theory thread on Reddit?”
Hope screams, lunging at Taehyung as their face contorts into a cartoonish wail. He lets his head roll back against the soft leather of the booth and rolls his eyes. Namjoon is going to make him say it. He's going to make him show all of his soft feelings right here in front of some critically acclaimed sushi chef who Tae insisted was trending (?) and their dumbass friends, like Jimin isn't a tenure-track professor in one of the leading social psych departments in the world, like Jimin has any sort of dignity at all.
"One where all of my dreams came true, okay?" Jimin says, exasperated. He sighs, but the smile breaks out across his face unbidden. It feels good to be soft. It feels good to feel safe enough to be soft. That's part of it.
Namjoon, pleased, plants a smacking kiss to his cheek and pulls away. "Oh, cool.”
"Cool," Jimin teases, sticking a finger into Namjoon's stupid dimple before he can say anything else incriminating within earshot of Hoseok, who would never shut up about it. "Don't tell anyone."
Namjoon opens his mouth like he's going to rat him out and Jimin picks up a piece of sashimi and shoves it in instead.
"I wasn't going to," Namjoon mumbles around the toro, but chews happily anyway, throwing an arm around Jimin's shoulders and pulling him close. Jimin crosses his legs and hooks his ankle over Namjoon's knee. Jimin tunes back into the conversation to see how long until they could make a break for Namjoon's apartment. Yoongi has his head thrown back hooting with laughter and Hoseok has his hands wrapped lightly around Yoongi's neck to try and get him to stop.
"I'm never showing emotion again," Hoseok whines, shaking Yoongi while he pretends to choke. They're idiots and Jimin belongs with them, right here, he's never known anything more true. It's overwhelming to feel like he's found a place in the world, that he could do anything and these people would have his back. He could fail and they'd still love him. They'd love him without the book deal and without tenure and without a single penny to his name. It's a lot to handle, that kind of faith. Jimin blinks a few times to clear his head.
"Hey, Minnie is crying!" Hoseok yells, like it isn't just a convenient distraction from his own embarrassment. Hoseok releases Yoongi to point, and immediately begins to coo over him, reaching right over Namjoon to cup Jimin's face between his warm palms. "Why? What's wrong, honey?"
Jimin laughs wetly, turning to hide his face in Namjoon's shoulder. Admittedly, he was crying, a little bit. “I’m not," Jimin groans in response, pretending to flinch away from Hoseok without actually moving away at all. He loves being held by Hoseok, and Namjoon's arm is still warm around him, his hand steadying at his waist.
Taehyung's eyes go huge at once, "Hope, did you tell them?"
Jimin continues, "—I'm just being old and drunk. Wait."
Hoseok looks over to Taehyung and raises an eyebrow, his hands still pressing Jimin's cheeks up until they crowd his eyes, his weight heavy over Namjoon, who wheezes, "Tell us what?”
"Ah, Hobi," Yoongi sighs, looking towards a panicked Taehyung through his fingers.
Jimin's stomach drops. He turns his head from Taehyung looking at Hoseok to Hoseok staring at Yoongi with narrowed eyes.
"Like I would ever do that," Hoseok snaps, letting go of Jimin's face and slouching into Namjoon's side.
Namjoon peers down at him and goes, "Oh," then again. "Oh. Oh!"
Jimin sits straight up, his heart pounding. Everyone is very still, the four of their gazes meeting and blatantly avoiding Jimin. "What is happening?"
Taehyung breaks out into an embarrassed grin, and leans over the table to stick out their left hand. "One of these rings is not like the other.”
Jimin squeaks and scrambles to his feet, grabbing at Taehyung's hand and bringing it close his face. "What?" he asks stupidly, even as his eyes focus in on the wide, diamond-encrusted Cartier band on Taehyung's ring finger. Now that he's looking, he can't believe he missed it the whole dinner. Jimin knew Taehyung was extra sparkly tonight.
He rounds on Namjoon, who looks rightfully fearful, not dropping Taehyung's hand. "You knew!"
Then, on Hoseok, who is still pouting. "And you!"
Taehyung takes their hand back from Jimin to throw their arms in the air, smile giant and boxy across their entire face. "We're getting married! Kinda."
"We're having a wedding," Yoongi corrects, coming away from behind his hands to prop his elbows on the table and smooth his hands over his hair. "And signing some mergers.”
"It's romantic," Hoseok comments, shouldering closer to Namjoon until Joon wraps an arm around him, but he's smiling. "The law may be against the gays, but capitalism isn't."
Jimin thinks he aged fifty years over the course of this single conversation. Jimin looks between all of them, his whole brain working to process what is happening. "Wait, what the hell do you two have to merge?"
A lot, as it turns out. Like, two multi-billion dollar corporations and international real estate holdings and some islands. Jimin doesn't know if those should count as real estate since they're entire land masses.
"So you're like," Jimin starts, jaw slack. "Crazy rich."
Namjoon shifts uncomfortably next to him. "We're comfortable."
"That's definitely what a crazy rich person would say," Jimin says. Jimin pauses, considering. "Huh."
"I'm not as rich as them, if that helps," Hoseok offers blithely. "We're in product, not real estate, so."
"So just a multi-million dollar inheritance, then?" Jimin raises his eyebrows. "Anyway, I already knew you were loaded."
Yoongi snorts. "New money."
"Better than no money," Hoseok snaps, flicking him on the ear. "No offense, Minnie."
"I mean—definitely some taken." But Jimin laughs, because it's Hoseok and because this is the most absurd thing that has ever happened. “I knew all of you had money, but the like… corporation thing. I thought Yoongi was an investment banker?”
“Yeah,” Yoongi nods. “But now, it’s time to, uh.”
“Take his rightful throne,” Hoseok drawls, pinching his cheek.
Yoongi sticks his tongue out like he tasted something bad. Jimin can’t look at Namjoon; this is a conversation they need to have in private. Each passing second sends an alternating pang of fear and panic through his body, so he just turns his attention back to extra sparkly Taehyung.
Before they leave the restaurant, Taehyung pulls a folded up piece of paper out of his leather pouch, and smooths it out on the edge of the table. They hand it over to Jimin with an embarrassed look on their face. "Sorry, sorry—this is crazy," Taehyung says, pained. "But my mom made me promise to make anyone I told sign one until the news officially drops."
Jimin takes the crumpled paper from them.
"Is this an... NDA?" Jimin asks.
"Um. Yes." Taehyung presses their hands to the table. Then, like it is truly taking the very last of their strength, they roll their eyes to the ceiling and sigh, "Vogue Korea has the exclusive."
"Vogue... has the exclusive on your engagement. To Yoongi." And that is the most absurd thing that has ever happened. Min Yoongi in Vogue Korea. "My long lost goth father on vacation, Min Yoongi. That's who Vogue has an exclusive on."
Yoongi rolls his eyes. "Fuck off."
Then, an even more preposterous thought occurs to him. He can’t suppress it any more. His eyes go wide.
Jimin rounds on Namjoon. "Have you been in Vogue?"
Namjoon is wearing his most polite smile. Jimin's gonna kill him.
"Vogue, Namjoon?" Jimin yells, finally breaking. "And you won't fucking let me throw out your ancient, disgusting Birkenstocks?"
"I love them!" Namjoon yelps, covering his head as Jimin swats at his arm.
Hoseok perks up from where he'd been tapping away at his phone. "Oh shit, I can finally show you all of the embarrassing stuff about them in the news back home," Hoseok says excitably.
"Hobi," Yoongi whines, sinking into his seat. "It's history now. Leave it in the past."
"Sure thing, People's #2 Most Eligible Bachelor five years running," Hoseok says, sweet like syrup, leaning in to press a loud sucking kiss to Yoongi's cheek. Across the table, Tae giggles and looks at them like it's the best thing they've ever seen.
"Gross," Yoongi grumbles, wiping it off.
A vague sense of dread settles over Jimin, worse than before. Beside him, Namjoon stiffens.
"Wait, who's number one?"
Jimin doesn't know what the graceful reaction to learning that your closest friends are bajillionaires, but it probably isn't to walk around his apartment picking up every gift that he's ever received from Namjoon and playing the how much did this really cost game.
“Jimin,” Namjoon groans.
Jimin is a little wild-eyed, clutching a pen that Namjoon gave him after his thesis defense in one hand and a sweater that Jimin found wrapped up and laying on his bed last year after the first really chilly autumn day of the season.
“You lied to me for four years!” Jimin yells back. “Answer the question.”
“I didn’t lie,” Namjoon says diplomatically, throwing a hand over his eyes, flat on his back on Jimin’s bed. “I told you my family was in real estate.”
“I thought your parents were realtors. I thought you had a few houses not that you owned like, half of the motherland.”
“It’s not half,” Namjoon mutters and Jimin shoots him a death glare.
"Chim," Namjoon pleads, letting his arms flop onto the bed with a thud. He lifts up his head to look at Jimin with big, sad eyes, and Jimin continues to glare at him. Namjoon is too fucking smart to think he can pout his way out of this. Namjoon reaches for him. "Come here."
Jimin crosses his arms. He can't decide if he's really mad. It's one of those things where he thinks he probably should be, but he's empathizing too much to hold space for his own anger. He understands immediately all the reasons why Namjoon wouldn’t want someone to know about this. He understands why being in New York, why the Ph.D, is such a big deal to him. Once the pieces are there, they fit together effortlessly in Jimin’s mind. He still knows Namjoon. This doesn’t change any of that.
Namjoon sighs, and peels himself off the bed. He comes over to Jimin and gently takes the pen and sweater from his hands, setting them on the bed. He takes one of Jimin's hands in his, the other wide across Jimin's side. His face is so open and concerned. It's so hard to be upset with him, it always has been. Namjoon means so well. "Are you really mad?"
Namjoon's cheek is pressed to his temple. He's warm. It's late, and their friends are getting married, and Jimin has unknowingly all but trapped a billionaire.
"Yes," he pouts, turning his head away. Namjoon tugs at his waist to bring him closer; Jimin allows it.
“I was going to ask you to come home with me this summer,” Namjoon confesses, brushing Jimin’s hair out of his face. Jimin turns into the touch, and Namjoon rests his hand at the side of his neck, thumb brushing Jimin’s jaw fondly. “Yoongi stole my thunder.”
“I’d really like for you to meet my family. You are one of the most important people in my life. They should know you.”
Jimin drops his head to Namjoon’s shoulder, chest going tight. Not for the first time, he thinks that Namjoon is it for him, that the anger that he should hold on behalf of his own pride or whatever is so futile in the face of a love this big.
He’d never felt that way before. Before Namjoon, sometimes it felt like he was all pride, that in his heart all there was was something to prove. It was haunting, the remnants of that feeling that he still sometimes felt in his professional life, to be approved of, to be respected, to be liked.
He’s grown so far away from that. It happened slow enough that he didn’t notice, weight falling from his mind easily and naturally like a body being fed to nourish. It started with his mother, fed by his friends, and postmarked, sealed by Namjoon and his sun-warmed lake water kind of love, welcoming and gentle, ready to receive, no tides to fight.
They’re on the same team.
“I want to know them,” Jimin says. He squeezes Namjoon around the middle, hard. Namjoon presses a kiss to his temple.
“Great,” Namjoon whispers. “I’m sorry I lied about being crazy rich.”
“Yeah, you’re the worst.”
“I’ll answer any question you want,” Namjoon says, walking them backwards. “Tomorrow?”
Jimin pulls Namjoon down with him when his knees hit the edge of the bed. “Okay.”
Namjoon lands heavy on top of him, and Jimin groans. He reaches next to Jimin’s head and produces the pen that Jimin had nearly worked himself into a frenzy over earlier.
“Hey,” Namjoon says, rolling to the side and propping himself on an elbow. Jimin narrows his eyes.
“This,” Namjoon holds the pen up gravely, “has JC Chasez’s face on it. It was 99 cents from Family Dollar.”
Jimin stares at him blankly for a moment before he covers his face with his hands, a giggle bubbling up. The day was catching up with him and he had been ridiculous. “It could have been a collectible! Limited edition!”
“Limited because no one but you cares about JC.”
“Thanks, we’re breaking up,” Jimin replies flippantly, moving to push himself off of the bed.
“Nice while it lasted,” Namjoon says, grinning and rolling back over onto Jimin to pin him back down, his weight heavy and welcome.
Published quietly and without further comment on April 20, 2024 in Daegu Shinmun, morning edition
Min Sungsoo and Lee Youngmi announce the engagement of their son Min Yoongi to Kim Taehyung, son of Kim Jeongho and Park Kyunghee of Daegu. Min Yoongi, Harvard Business School alumnus, will soon be stepping in as CEO of Min Holdings International in New York City. Kim Taehyung recently completed an MFA at Parsons and will be launching his namesake brand in the new year. A July wedding is planned.
Published loudly and with much fanfare on April 20, 2024 in Vogue Korea
The week before he met Min Yoongi, Kim Taehyung told his mother without room for negotiation: no more blind dates. The young fashion icon is poised to launch his own brand after spending the last two years completing an MFA that culminated in a work that Taehyung claims as the basis for his brand: a treatise on texture. When they arrive on set, Taehyung embodies texture and color in a vibrant ensemble of soft, oversized layered knits, a fringed skirt, and huge, fluffy accessories. In contrast, his soon-to-be beau rolled through in black shorts and a zip-up hoodie pulled up over a bucket hat. Not to say it wasn't a look—they were just different looks.
"We're like that," Taehyung tells us as makeup artist applies a soft lavender lip color at his direction. "That outfit in your closet that you don't think will work together until it's on your body, then you can't imagine how you didn't see it before. That's what it felt like to fall in love with Yoongi."
Yoongi at his side, barefaced and scrolling through his phone, looking for all intents like he wasn't listening at all, stops for a moment. He nods without looking up.
Taehyung beams, and his smile is so big that his make-up artist has to reapply his lipstick.
"So, I told my mom no more blind dates," Taehyung explained. "And—"
"I told my mom, one more blind date," Yoongi continues wryly. "But only if she didn't set me up with a woman. I—really didn't think she'd do it."
And as they say, the rest was history.
When Hoseok hears Jimin’s key in the lock, he scrunches up his face to get rid of his expression. His face relaxes enough that he’ll probably be able to smile convincingly. He shakes the tension out of his shoulders.
“Hooooooope,” Jimin sings from the entry, his voice high and sweet, and Hoseok can hear him toeing off his shoes and not putting them on the shoe rack.
“I got 10 copies shipped over,” Hoseok greets Jimin, their kitchen table papered over entirely with glossy, open magazine spreads. He raises his eyebrows suggestively, and shoves the copy open to his favorite picture towards Jimin, who takes it with a bemused expression on his face, bag still hanging haphazardly from the crook of his elbow.
The spread is gorgeous, obviously, infuriatingly. Tae had talked Yoongi into the high fashion thing, and they were all suffering for it. The picture in Jimin's hands has Yoongi in a sparkling gray suit and white shirt opened way too low for him to have not to have thrown a fit about it. His mouth was hanging open in that way that he had, tongue poking the inside of his cheek. Taehyung was next to him, straight faced and ethereal, wide shoulders made wider by a padded jacket exploding with shiny white plastic fringe. Hoseok had cried over it earlier.
"It's so good," Jimin comments, shock evident in his voice. "Look at Yoongi, flashing a breast."
"Don't talk about your father like that," Hoseok teases. He tries not to look at the photo when Jimin hands it back to him, just closes it straightaway and stacks it on top of another brutal spread still open on the table. Yoongi's face is only half obscured, one half of that awful, transparently adoring look he gets sometimes when he looks at Taehyung.
“How are you?” Jimin asks, hanging his bag off the back of the chair that he collapses into. “How was rehearsal?”
“Killed it,” Hoseok replies breezily, flashing all his teeth and tipping back in his chair. “I nailed a piece of the choreo that Lucas has been fucking up. He can only coast by on being blonde and having abs for so long.”
“It works for some people,” Jimin says, and pushes a hand through his light hair, raising an eyebrow teasingly. Hoseok reaches out and pinches his cheek.
“You’re not white though,” Hoseok says, patting him and turning back to the magazines. He picks one up open to a spread of Tae alone, and lays it across one of his thighs.
Jimin rolls his eyes. "I don't want to be."
It goes quiet between them for a moment, as Jimin pulls out his phone and taps out a message. Hoseok's stomach twists back up.
Hoseok swallows. “You’re coming right? You and Joonie worked it out.”
“Of course,” Jimin says, eyeing him oddly. “Yeah. I’m coming. It’ll be crazy, but good. Joon wants me to meet his family."
Hoseok kicks his legs up into Jimin’s lap and raises one arm in celebration. “Thank god I’ll be there to dress you. I bet you were going to show up in one of your silk shirts or something.”
Jimin glares at him. “Those shirts are nice.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that they’ll eat you alive without me, Park Jimin, and the quicker you come to terms with that the better off you’ll be.”
It’s true. It’s also true that Hoseok may be eaten alive without Park Jimin. He doesn’t say it, but Jimin is smart, and Hoseok figures he’ll pick up on that pretty fast once they’re back home. The whole thing is shaping up to be even more horrifyingly depressing than he had already anticipated, and Jimin—is Jimin. He is good. They are best for each other at their worst and Hoseok thinks that this summer might be his worst yet.
Jimin rolls his eyes again, but curls a hand warmly around Hoseok’s ankle. “I’m happy you’re gonna be there, too.”
Hoseok huffs. He leans over and presses a wet kiss to Jimin's head, disgruntled expression on his face. "Ugh. Love you."
Across the world, it’s the middle of the night. Kim Seokjin is sitting facing his wife at their kitchen table. Kim Taehyung and Min Yoongi’s engagement photos are spread out between them.
“Namjoon is bringing Jimin home.”
Dahyun has been lovely for her whole life. Not in the stupid way that people think other people are lovely, either. She’s been lovely because she’s easy to love, funny and bright and strong. She has seen his pink razr prop cell phone and raised him an ever expanding flashlight collection. Dahyun got them kicked out of Gotgan after Jin was pretty sure her mother had to buy part of the restaurant to get them a reservation because she wouldn't back out of a gag that he started involving a hypothetically overdone steak and PETA. She has made it so easy for Jin to love her, and he does. She is his best friend.
Jin has made so many dumb jokes tonight to try and get the unfamiliar stubborn, pained look off of Dahyun's face; but now it’s two in the morning and her mouth is still set in a line.
“I want to live with Momo,” she repeats. Her eyes are so shiny and she blinks hard, not breaking his gaze.
Jin reaches for her hand and presses his lips together. He breathes out, then says, "Me too."
Dahyun snorts, wet and ugly, and it's enough for the tears to finally fall as her face scrunches up with her smile. She lets go of his hand to scrub at her face, but her grin lingers, unbidden, "Stop it. You know she can't stand how you leave socks in every single crevice on purpose."
He protests weakly, "It's sacrificial tribute—"
"—for the sock gnomes," she finishes, with a kind grin. She takes his hand again and presses it to her lips. Her lips are warm and soft. "I know."
Jin trains his eyes on her lips, pressed to his knuckles. Looking at her makes his stomach twist up. He knows how this conversation ends. It's been ending for years. He's only stringing it out because it sucks, plain and simple. He's really going to miss her.
"I'm scared," he says, finally. It feels like tearing a hole in his stomach with the effort.
Dahyun nods, folding his hand between hers. It's comforting. "This is scary. But just because I'm—you know, doesn't mean you have to—to do anything you don't want to do."
"Like I'm going to let you get all the press," Jin scoffs. Like I'd let you do this alone. Like you'd let me do this alone.
"Okay, Jinnie," Dahyun says. Her voice is soft in a way that it rarely is, her head tilted curiously like she's seeing him brand new. She hums almost to herself, appraising, gaze perceptive and focused.
Finally, she says, "You're so much better than you want anyone to know."
"You don't keep losing your Laneige lip balms. I steal them," he says, to defend his dignity, rubbing at his eyes. "Sometimes I lick things in the fridge to see if I want to eat them and if I don't, I just put them back. I'm a monster."
Horrifyingly, Dahyun's eyes get shiny again, and he can't bear to look at it so he panics and covers her face with his palm. "I hope these are I hate you, Seokjin tears. I don't want to see them if they're feelings tears."
"You have to, you gigantic asswipe," Dahyun sniffles, batting off his hand and scooting over so she can press her face into his shoulder. "I have feelings for you. I'm going to miss you."
Seokjin inhales sharply, a hand coming up automatically to pat at the bun piled on top of Dahyun's head. His eyes burn. This is a big thing. They're doing this. The jig is up. Jin never learned to be courageous, so he guesses this was always going to be how it was going to shake out, with Dahyun finally making the decision that he could never have alone.
Something finally opens up in him after that and he cries, and cries, and cries. He hasn't cried like this since Eomuk died, the kind of wracking sobs that make it feel like all the liquid is draining from your body. Dahyun cries too, both of their tears meeting on faces and soaking through the shoulders of their pajama sets.
When they finally quiet, and have shuffled through splashing water on their faces to carry off the salty remnants, they pile into Dahyun's bed in the master bedroom that they share sometimes.
"Cool," Jin says on an exhale, staring up at the ceiling. "So you're divorcing me to go live with your hot girlfriend."
"Yep," Dahyun says. "And you're..."
"Going to bring additional shame and disgrace on my family," Jin agrees. "But at least Namjoon started it. He makes a good martyr."
Dahyun rolls her eyes and flicks him on the ear. "No," she chastises him. "You're going to find a hot boyfriend. One who doesn't care about the sock thing, or how you'll probably name his dick and at minimum one of his asscheeks."
She finishes, devastatingly and with finality, "And you're gonna be happy."
"You—," he says, pained. Dahyun's small arms come all the way around him, squeezing hard and he feels like she squeezes the rest of the sentiment out of him. "You make me happy. You've made me happy, this whole time."
"Aw, my sweet demon husband," Dahyun coos, patting him. "I love you very much. Enough to divorce you."
"Thank you," Jin says. "Means a lot."
Tomorrow, everything will begin to change. But tonight, they have this. The comforting warmth of friends who know the kind of love that is reinforced with sacrifice, the solidarity of shared pain, and the heavy, grounding exhaustion of the good, good life that they'd built together, against the odds of a lot of things. He tries not to let the melancholy of a wonderful period coming to a close linger too thickly around them, just holds Dahyun as best as he can.
"Did you fart?" Dahyun mumbles into his shoulder.
“I thought it might make you nostalgic,” Jin whispers. “For our honeymoon."
"Yes, of course," she replies, yawning. "So, you'll be hearing from my lawyer."