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though i try to resist (i still want it all)

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Jungkook moved from Korea to the United States when they were thirteen years old, just starting puberty and terrified of what the American kids might think of them.

Their mom is a Korean-American woman who had enlisted in the US military in the 90s, met their dad and fell in love over the year she was stationed in Seoul. The entire story is beautiful, Jungkook thinks, and they love hearing it when their parents tell it. (The quick version: she had a kid, came back to Korea for another tour and brought the kid, got married, had Jungkook, moved several years later to San Diego to be near the base.) But when Jungkook got here for the first time, their English was minimal. Their mom was fluent, of course, but never had a need to use English at home back in Korea except when speaking with other expats. Jungkook was already shy in general, and not being able to speak the tongue of the country they were living in made things a million times worse.

A stroke of luck found their family in a small, two-bedroom condominium located directly next to another Korean family with a sixteen-year-old named Kim Namjoon who quickly became friends with Junghyun, Jungkook’s brother. But Namjoon easily took notice of Jungkook’s shyness and tried to befriend them too. He invited them out to join him and Junghyun, he always greeted them when he came over, and he never once treated Jungkook like their age difference really mattered. He didn’t seem to care about honorifics, which Jungkook thought was fantastic.

On Namjoon’s eighteenth birthday, he invites Jungkook and Junghyun to his condo for a small party, and Jungkook gets to meet Namjoon’s friends for the first time. They’re all older, cooler, much more mature than Jungkook could ever imagine. Namjoon’s mom offers one of them a can of beer—he’s old enough to drink, apparently. Jungkook feels utterly intimidated by all of them.

“Hey, Junghyun. Jungkook. Could you come here for a second?” Namjoon asks. He nods his head towards his bedroom. Junghyun and Jungkook follow wordlessly.

“What’s up?” Junghyun asks at the same time Jungkook goes, “Is this your room?”

“He hasn’t been in your room yet?” Junghyun asks in confusion. Namjoon shakes his head.

“Yeah, this is my room.”

“I wish I had my own room,” Jungkook murmurs in Korean, a little bit in awe. Junghyun shoves them. “Hey, you do too!”

“You’re right,” their brother replies with a roll of his eyes.

“Anyway,” Namjoon says, “I have something really important to tell you. My other friends already know, but I think you two deserve to know too. I hope it doesn’t change the way you guys think about me.”

Jungkook’s not stupid. They may only be fifteen, but they can tell Namjoon’s stalling. But they don’t say anything about it. Junghyun might, but Jungkook won’t. The silence stretches past a heartbeat, and then two. They watch as Namjoon takes a deep breath, and he can’t meet either of their eyes. “I’m gay.”

Jungkook blinks. They’ve heard the word before, but they’re not sure if Namjoon is being one-hundred percent serious, so they look at Junghyun, who isn’t looking at either of them. It’s dead silent in the room, a weird kind of tension spread thick in the air as they all sit almost completely still, as if trying to evade the eyes of a predator.

“You should’ve told me sooner,” Junghyun says. Jungkook isn’t sure what to make of their older brother’s tone, but they’re sure it’s not good. They’re almost glad Namjoon didn’t look too hopeful before, because Jungkook doesn’t think they would be able to handle it if Namjoon’s face were to fall even more. “I… I need some space, Namjoon. I hope you understand.”

“Of course,” Namjoon replies. His voice cracks. Jungkook can’t tear their eyes away from him.

“Come on, Jungkook,” Junghyun says as he makes for the door. When the younger doesn’t move, he raises an eyebrow. “Jungkook, let’s go.”

Jungkook looks from Junghyun to Namjoon, whose eyes are trained on the ground.

“No,” Jungkook says. They slap a hand over their mouth as soon as they say it. Junghyun and Namjoon look equally as shocked. Too late now to pretend that didn’t happen, Jungkook gathers a little bit of courage. They slip into Korean, much more comfortable standing up to their older brother in a language they can speak fluently. “I’m going to stay here, hyung.”

“Okay,” Junghyun says slowly. He narrows his eyes at Jungkook before turning and leaving the room. Jungkook turns to look at Namjoon, who looks sadder than Jungkook’s ever seen him.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says. It’s more a breath than a sentence, and Jungkook moves to sit next to Namjoon instead of across from him, wrapping him in the tightest hug they can manage without crushing him. Namjoon’s caught off-guard for a moment, but then he pulls Jungkook even closer. It takes a while for Jungkook to realize Namjoon’s crying, but they do notice and don’t know what to do. So they hold him until Namjoon calms down.

“You don’t need to be sorry for who you are,” Jungkook says in Korean. “I’m your friend.”

“Thank you, Jungkook,” Namjoon replies. “I really needed to hear that.”

In an unexpected turn of events, Namjoon grows closer to Jungkook than Junghyun, clinging to the fact that Jungkook accepted him without question.

Over the next few months, Junghyun gets his fair share of education, works to unlearn all the predispositions he learned both from their parents and society in Korea. He still keeps his distance with Namjoon, which Jungkook knows makes him a little sad, but they’re friends. They suppose that’s all Namjoon could ever hope for.

The closer the two of them get, the more Jungkook feels it take hold. They’re unsure what to make of it, but they bury it as deep as possible to keep hidden for as long as possible.

“Your dad and I are not comfortable with you being friends with Namjoon,” their mom says one time, some time around Thanksgiving. Jungkook seizes up, fear climbing their throat as they assume someone, perhaps Junghyun, outed Namjoon to their parents. But they don’t say anything, a single gram of hope keeping them from voicing their worst-case scenario assumption. “We know he’s a nice young man, but that’s it, honey. He’s eighteen, and you’re only fifteen.”

Jungkook starts to breathe a sigh of relief, only to realize her words and get upset all over again. “But that’s only three years.”

“I know, sweetie, but you have to understand It would be different if you were also eighteen and he were twenty-one.”

Jungkook frowns. “He’s my only friend, Mom.”

At this, their mom purses her lips, considering their son for a moment. “Why can’t you make friends your own age?”

“They’re all idiots, Mom,” Jungkook groans. “Worse than Junghyun.”

“Be nice to your brother,” she chides. “I’ll talk to your father about Namjoon again. Until then, you can’t go over to his family’s apartment. If he wants to hang out, he comes here, okay?”

Jungkook sighs in resignation. “Okay.”

“Junghyun would put up a fight, probably storm out of the room when he didn’t get his way,” she says with a laugh. “This is why you’re my favorite son.”

“I’m telling Junghyun you said that!” Jungkook shouts, already up on their feet and out of the room before their mom can protest, giggling as they disappear down the hall to their bedroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year Jungkook turns sixteen, they get invited to their first end-of-summer party. They’ve seen the movies, they know the deal, and it’s really not as hard as they think to get out of the apartment when their dad is working late and their mom is out on deployment. (It’s actually more just Jungkook walking out the front door than actual sneaking out, but they like to feel like they were being a badass. So. Sneaking out.)

Jungkook accepts the first cup pushed into their hand when they stride through the door, wondering if they’ll see anyone they recognize as they sip at the drink. It tastes like shit, but it’s Jungkook’s first encounter with alcohol, and they can’t help their curiosity. They force themselves to keep drinking, already beginning to feel the buzz seep into their bones.

They make their way into the kitchen and a girl named Anna Hernandez stands behind a long table lined with different types of alcohol.

“Hey, Jungkook, right?” she asks, expertly mixing a drink Jungkook wishes they knew the name of. She goes on before Jungkook can confirm or deny. “What’s your ethnicity, by the way? Chinese? Vietnamese? Filipino?”

“Korean,” Jungkook answers, eyeing the drinks curiously.

“You want me to make you something? My sister is a bartender at some gay bar, taught me all her tricks.”

“Um.” They hesitate.  They don’t know any drinks. “Surprise me?”

The smirk they get in response makes them want to take back their response, but anxiety pushes the urge far, far away, and they’re forced to reap what they sow.

It’s more alcohol than anything else, and Jungkook’s almost positive that was done on purpose. But they politely say thank you and head on their merry way. It isn’t long before the world starts to tip sideways and their legs move like slush. They know they should say no when someone hands them another cup of some other drink, but Jungkook’s body thinks for itself, accepting the drink and downing it before they can process that it also tastes more like straight alcohol than anything else.

“Hey, man,” someone croons, slapping a hand over Jungkook’s shoulder. “Want a line?”

“A what?”

The guy doesn’t give Jungkook an immediate answer, instead directing over to a table where someone is splitting white powder up into groups and reorganizing them into different lines. Jungkook’s eyes triple in size.

“No, thank you,” they say hastily.

“Aw, come on, man, there’s enough for everyone!” he says with a forced laugh.

“I have to pee,” Jungkook says instead, swiftly turning on their heel and heading in the opposite direction and nearly running into the girl who invited them in the first place. “Oh, sorry, Mariana.”

“Jungkook!” she says. “Hi, no, you’re fine. Are you having fun?”

Are they? Jungkook doesn’t actually know, but they nod. “Thank you for inviting me.”

Mariana flushes. “Oh, it was nothing. But hey, we’re about to start Seven Minutes in Heaven. Do you want to play?”

“What’s that?”

Mariana smiles sweetly. “You’ll see.”

She takes their hand and leads them to the living room, intertwining their fingers, and Jungkook doesn’t protest. She pulls them down to sit next to her on the couch as others gather around to start the game.

“Okay, write your name on the piece of paper she gives you and put it in the bowl, okay?” Mariana whispers. Jungkook nods, wishes they knew what they were signing themselves up for.

Everyone takes turns putting pieces of paper with their names on them in the bowl and then picking them out one by one. Jungkook doesn’t understand it when a girl gets another girl’s name and the whole room makes a huge fuss about it. They don’t understand when the ruckus is three times as bad when it’s Jungkook’s turn, and they pull out the name of a senior who was the TA of their dance class.

“Oooh, I always knew you were gay, Blake,” the guy next to the senior, cuddling up to his side and batting his eyelashes.

Blake shoves him hard. “Oh, fuck off. It’s just part of the game.”

“I thought you rigged it for me!” Mariana hisses to the host, who merely shrugs in response.

The girl leads them both to an upstairs bedroom, snickers and throws two tiny packets at Jungkook’s chest before shutting the door. Jungkook stares at them where they land on the floor in mortification. From the other side of the door, they hear, “Seven minutes, boys. Make it fast!”

“What? Never seen condoms and lube before?” Blake scoffs. Jungkook stares at him blankly. “Do you even speak English?”

“Yes,” Jungkook whispers.

“Huh,” Blake mutters, sizing Jungkook up. “You’re actually kind of cute. For a guy.”

Jungkook hates—hates—that they flush red and how they have to look away to try to hide it. Blake laughs at them. “And so easy.”

Before they know it, there’s a hand on their cheek and a pair of lips pressing to theirs. Jungkook makes a surprised noise because, wow, they weren’t aware this was going to happen. And at first, it’s chaste. Just lips pressing to lips. But then Blake changes his method, parts his lips a little bit, and the sound Jungkook makes is equally as surprised but not so accidental.

They don’t know what they’re doing, but they try to match Blake’s movements, making another surprised sound when Blake sits on the edge of the bed and pulls Jungkook down into his lap without breaking this kiss but instead urging Jungkook to open their mouth.

It's weird, so weird, if Jungkook overthinks the mechanics of it, but their bodies are pressed close together, tongues mingling, and it feels so good.

Until Blake abruptly pulls away.

“Oh my fucking god, are you hard?” He laughs. Genuinely laughs at Jungkook. “God, you gay people are so easy.”

Jungkook scrambles off of his lap, trying to fight off tears. But then Blake says a word Jungkook doesn’t recognize nor understand, but the distaste is clear in his tone and on his face, and the tears breach the dam. They fumble with the doorknob and stumble down the stairs, alcohol grappling with their brain for control of their body. Drunk, sad, and unsure what to do, they wander to the nearest gas station and call the only phone number they have memorized aside from their mom’s.

“Hello? Who is this?” Namjoon says sleepily.

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook hiccups.

“Jungkook? Hey, what’s wrong?” Namjoon asks hurriedly, sounding much more awake than a moment before. “Why are you up so late?”

“I was at a party,” Jungkook says. “I—they—he kissed me.”

“He? Who, Jungkook? Where are you right now?”

“A 7-Eleven. He was… I can’t remember the word in English, but he laughed at me.”

“I’m coming to get you,” Namjoon says. “Do you know what street you’re on?”

Jungkook wants to cry again. They know it’s already been three years, but their English still isn’t great, and it’s even harder to understand it with their mind going in a million directions at once and simultaneously moving at the rate of molasses.

“I don’t know,” they say in Korean, voice breaking. “Everything’s blurry, and I was scared, and I—”

“It’s okay, Jungkook,” Namjoon says. “Can you describe your surroundings?”

Jungkook hiccups again and does as they’re told. They wait underneath the sign for fifteen minutes until Namjoon gets there, dressed in only a t-shirt and boxers. He’s not even wearing shoes.

“Are you cold? Do you need help?” Namjoon asks as Jungkook stumbles towards the car. Jungkook shakes their head. Bad idea. They bend over and puke over the pavement, wipe their mouth on the sleeve of their hoodie, and slump into the car.

“Jesus, how much did you drink, Jungkook?”

Jungkook starts crying again. “I don’t know. A lot. My head hurts. I don’t want to go home—Dad will be so mad at me! Oh God, when he finds out I kissed a guy, he’s going to hate me!”

They sob even harder before the jolt of realization hits them. They turn to Namjoon quickly. “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I know you didn’t,” Namjoon answers. “Did he have permission to kiss you?”

Jungkook… doesn’t actually know. “We were playing a game. They put us both in a bedroom and they left… packets. I think they said we had seven minutes.”

Namjoon nods. “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” He pauses as if to gather his thoughts. “Never let anyone touch you without your permission, okay? Girl, boy, or otherwise.”

“Otherwise?” Jungkook asks, hiccupping again.

“Yeah. I don’t think there’s a word in Korean for it, but there’s not just two genders. Gender is… fluid. Just like sexuality.” Jungkook must look confused because Namjoon laughs. “I’ll tell you when you’re sober.”

When they back to the apartment building, Jungkook pats down their pockets for their keys. “I think…”

“You can sleep over,” Namjoon offers, “if you don’t want Junghyun to find out you left. I’ll tell him I asked you to come over to play games or something, and you fell asleep.”

“You’d do that?”

“Yeah,” Namjoon says with a shrug. “My parents won’t mind, but they don’t like anyone sleeping on the couch without notice, so you’ll have to take my bed.”

“What about you?”

“I can take the floor. No offense, but I don’t want you to vomit on me in your sleep.” Jungkook flushes red and follows Namjoon into his condo, follows him to the bedroom they’ve been in a grand total of once. “Tomorrow, I’ll have aspirin and water for you. You’ll also need a shower, and you can just borrow some of my clothes. I’ll toss them in the washer, okay?”

“Okay.”

They let Namjoon pick something comfortable for them and grab them a towel, directing them to the bathroom and instructing Jungkook how to turn on the shower (“Because if you move it just a little bit too far this way, it’ll be way too hot to use,” Namjoon explains). Jungkook nearly has to cut their shower short when a wave of nausea has them doubled over in the shower with shampoo running down their face. But eventually, their stomach stops turning and the world stops spinning long enough for Jungkook to finish up and trudge back to Namjoon’s bedroom, where the older’s laid out a comforter and some blankets on the floor at the foot of his bed.

“All good?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook says.

“Good night, Jungkook.”

Jungkook nods as they climb onto Namjoon’s bed, mumbling something vaguely similar to “good night”, plopping down face-first with their feet sticking out. They hear Namjoon’s chuckle before promptly falling asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jungkook finds out their mom can’t make it to their graduation, they don’t know what to do. Their distress turns into an argument they pick with both parents. It’s their graduation, after all. Jungkook’s never going to graduate from high school again. This is a huge milestone, and their mom can’t come because she’s going to be on the other side of the fucking planet because the military said so.

“Jungkook, you know if I could be here for your graduation, I would,” their mom tries to console them.

“You should be here anyway,” Jungkook snaps, “with your family.”

It’s not the first time any of them have gotten upset about her being in the military, constantly out on deployment. Their dad has learned better than to argue about it, though. Junghyun has moved on in his teenage years, caught up in early college drama and girlfriends and sports. But Jungkook… Jungkook can’t get over it. She’s been in the military all of his life, has missed some of the biggest milestones any of them have had.

It’s not fair.

“Jungkook, you know I can’t.”

“But why!” Jungkook shouts.

And god, they hate themselves. They know it’s not fair to her. It’s not her fault. Yes, she has the option to retire any time, now that her minimum enlistment is over, but when Uncle Sam dangles a hefty reward in front of your face if you just stay in a little while longer, it’s hard to say no. Especially when you know that that reward could give your kids the life you wanted but never got.

“Jungkook, please—”

Jungkook isn’t listening anymore. They turn on their heel and storm out of the apartment. It seems absurdly fitting that the sky is a murky grey haze, thunder rolling low in the distance as Jungkook takes the stairs two at a time and heads for the playground across from the apartment building. They have their hood pulled over their head, just in case the sky decides to shed the tears Jungkook’s fighting off.

It’s not the first time they’ve gone there in a time of distress. After fights with Junghyun, Jungkook comes here. When something has Jungkook frustrated, they come here. The empty playground is their sanctuary.

They’re not sure how long they stay there, but they’re sure hours pass before someone comes to find them, curled underneath the top of the slide, shielded from the rain once it finally starts pouring. Jungkook knows who it is immediately. He’s the only person who knows that Jungkook comes here when they need to de-stress. He’s the only person who ever seemed to care enough to go looking for them.

“Your mom called me,” Namjoon says, sitting down on the floor of the jungle gym, next to where Jungkook is seated.

“She still thinks you’re too old to be my friend,” Jungkook mutters.

“Is that what the fight was about?”

Jungkook sighs. “No.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really. I know I shouldn’t have blown up on her. It’s not her fault. She’s trying to do her best for us.”

“What happened?”

Jungkook appreciates that he isn’t really pushing them, isn’t asking specific questions to weed out information from them. Instead, he’s trying to leave the questions a little open-ended. So that Jungkook can be a little more forthcoming if they want to be, or just give Namjoon the bare basics of the story. He’s letting Jungkook take the first step of venting or just keep it to themselves if they need to.

“My mom is going out on deployment again soon. She won’t be here to see me graduate. And I understand why she’s going again. I just… I’m so upset. She hasn’t been around for a lot of things, and I miss her, and I get it, but it’s also so hard for me to wrap my head around why she’s staying in when she could just be with us.”

“Fuck,” Namjoon mutters. “I’m sorry, Jungkook.”

“I mean, it’s fine. It’ll be fine. She’ll get to see pictures, and I know she’s proud of me. She’d be proud of me even if I had to stick it out through summer school and graduate then.”

“She loves you.”

“She does,” Jungkook agrees. “Sometimes, I ask myself if she loves me enough to retire. But I know it’s not fair to ask. She does it because she loves me.”

“She wouldn’t have called me to go find you if she didn’t love you.”

“Thank you, by the way,” Jungkook says, leaning out of the slide to face Namjoon. “Even if she did call you, you didn’t have to come. Thank you for always looking out for me.”

Namjoon smiles at them. “Jungkook, you’re one of my best friends. I’ve always got your back.”

“Me too,” Jungkook replies, trying not to be too flustered at the fact that Namjoon called them one of his best friends. “I mean, I’ve got your back. I mean it.”

“Thanks, Kook.” Namjoon shifts. “Now, do you want to maybe hop in my car, go for a drive, get McDonald’s on me, and then come back and apologize to your mom?”

Jungkook’s immediate answer is a yes, but they pretend to think for the sake of not looking desperate. “Sure.”

And Namjoon smiles again. “Come on. Down the slide.”

Jungkook leads the way down the slide and then waits for Namjoon to reach their side before following him to where his car is parked. Jungkook slides into the passenger seat and waits again for Namjoon, who buckles up and then hands the younger the auxiliary cord. Their eyes light up.

“Really?” Jungkook asks excitedly.

“Yeah. Play something to match the mood.”

They whip out their phone, searching desperately for a song to fit the current atmosphere as Namjoon pulls away from the curb and takes the long way out of the neighborhood—the way his dad comes when they want to stop at the little Mexican restaurant that has $1 carne asada tacos every Tuesday. It’s only once they merge onto the freeway that Jungkook finds the perfect song.

“’Sweet Disposition,’” Namjoon says. “Good choice.”

Jungkook beams at the approval. Makes a mental note that Namjoon knows, and seemingly likes, the song. Then decides to just build a playlist because they know they’re not going to remember, no matter how badly they want to. They queue up a few more songs—“Vowels” by HUNNY, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2, “Total Zombie” by Day Wave—and scan Namjoon’s reactions to see if he likes them.

“Thank god,” Namjoon mutters after a while. “I was worried you’d have a shit music taste.”

“I usually listen to more pop,” Jungkook admits. “Electropop, dreampop… Stuff like that. Some EDM.”

Namjoon chuckles. “I usually listen to more hip hop… lo-fi—that kind of stuff. But at least you don’t listen to country.”

Silence.

“Jungkook.”

“Not a lot.”

“I’m never giving you the aux again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s July, and Jungkook is eighteen and questioning. Or maybe questioning isn’t quite the right word. They’re 99.9999% sure, and “questioning” is a safety net for the 0.0001% they’re not. But Junghyun has only recently become more okay with Namjoon being gay, and their parents aren’t the most conservative, but they’re definitely not very liberal. The Pride Parade is only a week away, and they’ve overheard people at school talking about going. And Jungkook wants to go—god, they want to. But they’d eat manure before trying to ask their parents.

Jungkook’s over at Namjoon’s apartment. His parents are out (“It’s date night,” Namjoon explains when they get there. “And my parents probably won’t be back until tomorrow, because they like to get cheap hotel rooms and pretend they’re in a movie.” Jungkook blushes ten shades of red and stammers out a response that makes Namjoon laugh.), and some of Namjoon’s older friends are there too.

There’s Yoongi, the grad student who says little but smiles a lot. There’s Hoseok, who smiles twice as much and always carries a family size bag of chips with him. And then there’s Taehyung, who is as needy as Jungkook would be if they let themselves show it. Yoongi’s pan, if Jungkook remembers correctly. Hoseok’s aromantic, and occasionally he and Yoongi mess around. Taehyung is bisexual, and they’ve heard from none other than Taehyung himself that he’ll sometimes join Yoongi and Hoseok, which Jungkook definitely didn’t need to know.

“Oh, hey, Taehyung,” Namjoon says, pausing the game and setting his controller on the arm rest. Jungkook makes an indignant noise in the back of their throat. “Can I still stay with you for Pride?”

Taehyung scrunches his nose. “Yeah, I guess. I won’t be going, though.”

“Tae…” Yoongi starts.

“I don’t want a repeat of last year,” Tae says quietly. “I’m obviously not welcome at Pride.”

“Everyone is welcome at Pride,” Hoseok says firmly.

Jungkook leans towards Namjoon and whispers, “What happened last year?”

Namjoon gives them a small, sad smile. “Tae was attacked last year by some TERFs. It was… bad. The cops didn’t do anything about it, either. It’s part of the reason we don’t like cops at Pride.”

“Oh.”

“Tae,” Namjoon says, “we can’t make you go. But you’re always welcome. And if Jungkook goes, we’ll basically have twice the muscle to fight anyone who gives you shit.”

Jungkook’s eyes go comically wide. “Me?”

Namjoon turns to them, lowers his voice the slightest. ”If you want. I mean, you mentioned you were questioning, like, once, but questioning people are welcome at Pride too. And you’re really buff for your age and frame. You know that, right?”

“But my parents,” Jungkook says, fighting the blush making its way to their cheeks. They don’t even remember mentioning they were questioning, but they probably did. And Namjoon would be the only person they’d tell anyway.

“Oh, they’re pretty conservative, huh?” Jungkook nods. “Well, I can always make something up. They seem to trust me, so I could probably tell them about a concert or something… We can figure it out.”

“Really?”

Namjoon grins. “Of course.”

“Ooh, is this his first Pride?” Hoseok says with a smirk filled with mischief. Jungkook nods hesitantly.

“He’s such a baby,” Yoongi says. “Has he even been around that many mostly-naked people?”

Jungkook flushes, and Namjoon chastises his friends. “Don’t tease him. Jungkook’s probably apprehensive as is.”

Thank you, Jungkook mouths when Namjoon looks their way again. Namjoon gives them a small smile. Jungkook’s stomach flips as they smile back.

Convincing their parents isn’t as hard as they thought it would be. Namjoon comes over and propels into a story about this band that he knows and how Jungkook absolutely loves the band. Namjoon got tickets from his friend whose friend is the lead guitarist. He wasn't planning to go until he heard that Jungkook likes the group. He explains that he has a friend who lives near the venue; he’s a year older than Jungkook and studying business, and he has a spare bedroom that Jungkook can have. (Namjoon will take the couch.) Jungkook’s dad is on board right out of the gate. Their mom asks a few more questions before ultimately agreeing.

When the Friday before Pride comes, Jungkook lounges around Namjoon’s apartment while they wait for the older to finish packing. (Their bag’s been packed for days now.)

“Am I forgetting anything?” Namjoon mutters to himself as he re-enters the living room.

Jungkook hums. “Toiletries?”

“Yeah,” Namjoon agrees, disappearing back down the hall to the bathroom.

Eventually, they hit the road. Namjoon insists on playing his “En Route: Pride” playlist, and Jungkook laughs as they get a mix of Cher, Gaga, Lennon, and more. It’s easy and fun, but the ride is relatively short. They make it to Taehyung’s apartment with little hassle and grab their things before Jungkook follows Namjoon into the building.

“This is really nice,” Jungkook murmurs, eyeing the mirror walls of the elevator and the clean carpeted floors of the hallways.

Namjoon smiles. “Tae’s sugar daddy pays for it.”

“His—He—”

“Yeah. He can’t afford his college and a place to live, and there’s only so much the FAFSA can do. He was perfectly willing to get a job, but Tae likes the idea of being taken care of, so he looked into getting a sugar daddy.”

“And his sugar daddy is fine with—”

“Yeah, he’s helping cover the medical costs too.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, Tae overshares. You’ve probably noticed.”

Jungkook blushes. “Yeah.”

Taehyung opens the door to his apartment with a bright smile, and Jungkook tries to fight their blush when they see that it’s a no-binder day. The older is quick to accommodate the both of them, pushing them towards the spare bedroom to get comfortable.

“We don’t have to share,” Namjoon says quickly. “Tae’s couch is really comfortable, and with all your muscle mass, you could probably take up this queen by yourself.”

Stupidly, the first thing out of Jungkook’s mouth is, “I’m smaller than you think.”

Namjoon raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

“Like, around the waist and stuff,” Jungkook hurriedly explains. “I’m kind of small, and my shoulders aren’t that broad. I’m pretty sure you’re broader than I am. I just work out a lot.”

“Oh, trust me, Kook. People have noticed.”

Jungkook flushes. “What people?”

Namjoon meets their gaze, and there’s a trace of a smirk on his lips. “It’s hard not to, Kook. We live right next to each other.”

“Well,” Jungkook murmurs as they look away in embarrassment, “it’s up to you, but I don’t mind sharing if you don’t.”

“Okay,” Namjoon replies and he starts to get settled.

The thought of sharing a bed with Namjoon is mildly horrifying, but they've shared a tent together, so it can't be too different. Can it? Jungkook hopes not. They should be able to sleep through Namjoon's snoring without any major issues, but their biggest worry isn't getting to bed but rather... what happens when they wake up.

Regret sinks in deep, but they can't back out now. It'd be weird and so sudden. And besides, they'll wake up before Namjoon, right? They can just... escape to bathroom. It'll be fine.

"So what's the plan for tomorrow?" Jungkook asks as they unpack their toiletries, setting the container down next to their duffel bag.

"Well, I was thinking tonight, we could either head down to the block party and sneak you in, or just have the night in and rest up for tomorrow. The parade starts at eleven, but we should probably get there early if we want good spots. And then there's more parties after, if you want to go to any of them."

"I... I don't know."

"I know you're not a big fan of parties, so you can always come back to Tae's apartment. He's great company."

"I know... But..."

They don't want to leave Namjoon's side, really. They don't know his friends very well, and they don't do great in large crowds at all. It would be a disaster for them to be left all alone in any circumstance. They'd rather endure the party than try to head back to Taehyung's apartment alone. They'll make themselves queasy just thinking about how many different worst-case scenarios could occur the second they're alone.

"It's okay," Namjoon says lightly. "Whatever you decide. Hoseok and Yoongi will probably start to fight over whether they want to stay in or party, but don't worry. They bicker all the time, and it's all lighthearted."

"If... If they decide to go party, I'll probably just stay here."

"Okay," Namjoon replies easily, "I'll stay too.”

"Oh... You don't have to if you don't want to."

"What makes you think I don't want to?"

Jungkook takes in the confused look on Namjoon's face and the barely-there challenge in his eyes. They're not quite sure what to make of the statement, or even how to reply. So instead they change the subject. "What are we going to do if we all spend the night in?"

"Watch a movie, bond. I might grab some smokes with Hoseok and Yoongi later."

"You smoke?" Jungkook asks in surprise.

"Only weed," Namjoon says. "And only ever with them, so not often. Tae doesn't smoke though."

"Oh. Okay. It’s fine if I don’t, right?”

Namjoon looks confused again. “Of course, Jungkook. You know we’d never pressure you to do anything, right? If… if you ever feel like we are, tell me. I’ll put a stop to it.”

“You aren’t,” Jungkook replies, trying to stop themselves from smiling too noticeably. “You’ve never made me feel pressured to do anything.”

The rest of the evening moves smoothly, and Jungkook’s almost surprised. Hoseok and Yoongi do end up arguing, but Yoongi promises he’ll make up for Hoseok having to stay in tonight. (They’re not surprised when the two turn in early and Tae yells, “Don’t mess up my sheets!” but it does leave them with their cheeks and ears burning despite not being the subject of the teasing.) They put in “Mean Girls”, which Namjoon states is “a prerequisite for accepting any queer label” and Taehyung vehemently agrees.

They’re all squeezed onto Taehyung’s two-seater sofa in his living room. At Taehyung’s insistence, Jungkook is in the middle, because Taehyung can’t fall asleep without hugging someone, and he says that Namjoon moves too much in his sleep. So Jungkook lets Taehyung cuddle up to their side and spoon them, tries to ignore how close they are to Namjoon as well, but with how small of a space they’re all forced to share, they’re pressed right up against the older, resting their head on his shoulder to see the TV screen. If they weren’t so hyperaware of all the attention their body was suddenly getting, they might not have noticed Namjoon’s hand resting oh-so casually on Jungkook’s exposed inner thigh.

“Hey, Jungkook,” Namjoon whispers.

“Yeah?”

“You might wanna wake up Taehyung if you don’t want to wake up with a knot on your neck from sleeping here.”

Jungkook lifts their head up slightly to peer over at Taehyung, whose eyes start to flutter shut before he forces them back open, over and over again. They nudge the other slightly.

“Mm?”

“Namjoon says I need to wake you up.”

Taehyung pouts. “No fun.”

“Sorry,” Jungkook says, giving him a genuinely apologetic smile.

“It’s okay. You two should probably go to bed anyway, if you want to get decent spots for the parade.”

“He’s right,” Namjoon says, patting Jungkook’s thigh lightly. “Last year was a fucking disaster.”

“Okay,” they reply. “Good night, Tae.”

“Night, you two.”

Namjoon leads Jungkook to their shared room, grabbing his toiletries and flashing a grin at Jungkook before heading for the bathroom. Jungkook grabs their own stuff, sits on the edge of the bed and waits for Namjoon to finish up. They know it won’t be too long—Namjoon does morning showers, like an imbecile. When the older’s finished, Jungkook hurries, making sure to keep their shower quick because even if Tae’s rent is covered by a sugar daddy, they don’t want to affect the water bill too much.

When they get out, they forget for a moment that they’re not in their apartment and Namjoon is, in fact, in the room. They’ve only got boxers on when they head back into the room, towel-drying their hair absentmindedly.

Namjoon whistles lowly. “Impressive.”

Jungkook blushes. “I… forgot clothes.”

“I won’t look if you don’t want me to,” Namjoon says earnestly.

“No, you can,” Jungkook says hesitantly, cringing at their wording. “I don’t care.”

It’s as far as he’ll tease them today, nodding silently and going back to whatever he was doing—reading apparently. Jungkook feels a little unsure of themselves as they dig through their bag for something more to wear without wearing too much. They’re used to sleeping in just their boxers at home, but it doesn’t sit right to do the same here, even if they do add a shirt or sweats to the mix.

Namjoon seems to pick up on their indecision and calls their name, beckoning them over to the bed.

“You don’t have to be so unsure around me, Jungkook,” he says. “We’ve known each other for years. You trust me, I know you do. I won’t judge you if you fart in your sleep. We’ve cuddled before, so you know we’re probably gonna wake up cuddling. It’s fine. You’re one of my closest friends. You can be yourself around me.”

“I’m sorry,” Jungkook mutters.

Namjoon laughs. “What are you apologizing for?”

“I… don’t know.”

Namjoon laughs again. “You’re cute.”

“Am not.”

“C’mon,” Namjoon says, tugging Jungkook to lay down on the bed. “Let’s sleep.”

Namjoon pulls them into his arms like it’s easiest thing in the world, like Jungkook isn’t mostly naked, like their heart isn’t hammering against their chest, like Namjoon is anybody but himself. Jungkook forces their body to relax as Namjoon pulls them close, back pressed to his chest.

“Is this what gay panic feels like?” Jungkook accidentally whispers out loud.

“What?” Namjoon asks.

“Nothing.”

“Mm, alright,” Namjoon murmurs, nuzzles his head into Jungkook’s neck. They try to even their breathing, but it’s impossible not to take shallow breaths with Namjoon so close. Before long, Namjoon’s dozed off, and Jungkook finds it a little easier to relax and eventually fall asleep.

They wake up to shrieking laughter, muffled at first, and then not as the door to the room swings open and light from the rest of the apartment floods in. Namjoon snores obnoxiously loud as Jungkook squirms from under the covers to see what’s happening. They recognize the laughter as Hoseok’s, but there’s two pairs of footsteps.

“Rise and shine, my beautiful gay children!” Hoseok sing-songs, ripping the comforter off of their bodies. Jungkook tries desperately to fight the fierce blush that rises to their cheeks, avoiding Hoseok’s eyes, accidentally meeting Yoongi’s, and avoiding his too. Hoseok wolf-whistles. “Damn, Jungkook. Namjoon wasn’t lying.”

“About what?” Jungkook asks, but before they can get an answer out of Hoseok, Namjoon groans.

“Kook, did you open the curtains?”

“No, Hoseok came in.”

“If you’re joining Tae and Yoongi on that whole Hoseok-being-the-actual-sun thing, I’m never talking to you again.”

“Don’t drag me into that,” Tae says, waltzing into the room like It’s nobody’s business. “We all know I’ve only got eyes for Jimin.”

“Sex eyes,” Hoseok says. “You’ve got heart eyes for us both.”

“I have heart eyes for everyone, the fuck are you talking about.”

“I stand corrected.”

“Can… can everyone get out?” Jungkook asks softly, debating with themselves if they should untangle themselves from Namjoon now or just wait until everyone’s left.

“Oh, I forgot you’re just a baby gay,” Hoseok says consolingly. “You’re not used to us.”

He grabs Yoongi and Taehyung by the elbow (the former of the two arguing vehemently that he didn’t need to be dragged out of the room—he very well would have left on his own) and pulls them out of the room before shutting the door behind them.

“I’m sorry about them,” Namjoon says softly.

“It’s okay,” Jungkook says, trying very hard to ignore where Namjoon’s thigh is. They pause and then amend their statement. “There’s nothing to be sorry for.”

“I know they can be a bit much.”

Jungkook tries to shrug a little. “They’re a lot, and usually just a lot is already too much for me, but I like them. They’re… nice.”

“I’m glad you like them. They like you too.”

“They do?”

Namjoon snorts. “Do you really think my friends would let you stay here if they didn’t like you? Do you really think they’d hang out with someone they didn’t like?”

Jungkook briefly remembers how passionately Yoongi ranted about someone their friend group seems to solely refer to as PPOS (“Professional Piece of Shit,” Hoseok clarifies to Jungkook.) who turns out to be Tae’s ex-girlfriend. Apparently, PPOS tried to become friends with Tae again recently after what she did to him (which Jungkook still doesn’t know and won’t ask—it’s none of their business). Yoongi was furious, ranted about some of her friends as well. It sunk in Jungkook’s mind never to get on his bad side.

“No,” Jungkook says softly. “I guess I just didn’t expect them to like me.”

“I’m sure if Hoseok had it his way, he and Yoongi would’ve pounced on you for a heavy BDSM deflowering. So yes, they like you.”

Jungkook blushes ten shades of red, struggles to think of something to say, and apparently, Namjoon takes mercy on them.

“Come on, let’s get ready. We’ve gotta go soon.”

Namjoon untangles his limbs from Jungkook’s with ease, striding over to his bag like he didn’t just wake up. Jungkook tries to calm themselves for a moment before they roll out of bed too, trudging over to their bag to pull out the outfit they’d been waiting months to wear.

They nonchalantly wait for Namjoon to head to the bathroom to get his shower before changing out of their boxers into a jock strap. They tug on bright red high-waisted shorts before staring at the two articles of clothing they were debating on when they first started packing: a cropped hoodie with a rainbow across it or a bralette. It’s a daring choice, but it’s an opportunity Jungkook doesn’t want to miss. They continue to debate with themselves for another minute or two before flushing, grabbing the hoodie, and pulling it over their head.

They avoid looking at themselves in the mirror, flustered already at the thought of actually wearing this outfit, as they pull out their phone to busy themselves so they don’t need to think about it.

Yoongi knocks on the door and then pokes his head in. “Hey, is Namjoon—”

He stops short, takes in Jungkook’s outfit, and exhales slowly. “You’re going to kill him.”

“Who?”

But Yoongi shakes his head. “Do you want some makeup? Taehyung’s really good at it. But you don’t have to wear makeup.”

Jungkook blushes again and swears to themselves they’re not a prude but Christ. “Sure.”

Yoongi leads them out of the bedroom and into Taehyung’s room, where he’s busy doing Hoseok’s makeup. He doesn’t even bother looking up at them, but he scolds Hoseok when the older between the two turns at the sound of the door.

“Baby Gay needs your expertise, Tae,” Yoongi says, urging Jungkook forward with a hand between their shoulder blades.

At this, Taehyung does look up. Scans Jungkook’s outfit. “Oh, boy.”

Hoseok sees them next. “I should’ve saved my whistle.”

Jungkook blushes again but waves off the attention. “I wanted to go all-out.”

“He’s going to die when he sees Jungkook,” Yoongi tries and fails to whisper to Hoseok.

“Who is?”

“Jungkook,” Taehyung says, cutting his eyes sharply at the other two, “let me just finish up Hoseok’s makeup, and I’ll do yours, okay?”

“Okay.”

It doesn’t take long for Taehyung to finish, but Jungkook watches in earnest until he does, completely fascinated by the older’s level of concentration. They’ve always appreciated people’s ability to do makeup, always viewed it as a special kind of art. Each stroke of Taehyung’s brush is graceful and filled with intent, like a stag leap across center stage, and Jungkook finds themselves pushing down a yearning to learn more.

Not now.

“Is there anything specific you want me to do?” Taehyung asks as he directs Jungkook to sit on the edge of his bed.

Jungkook shakes their head. “Just work your magic.”

Taehyung smiles fondly. “You’re so sweet, Kookie. It’s no wonder…”

The older trails off and laughs to himself. “Just sit still. I’ll be done in no time.”

So Jungkook shuts their eyes and folds their hands in their lap, zoning out as Taehyung paints a potential masterpiece on their face. And it’s almost therapeutic, going into a headspace where they do absolutely nothing and just let Taehyung do whatever he wants. It’s never really been possible for Jungkook to clear their head completely, to meditate, almost. But now, they are, and it’s almost freeing.

“Just the finishing touches now,” Taehyung whispers, luring Jungkook back down to Earth. They hum in response, lets Taehyung grip their chin to hold their face in place before stepping back to admire his work. “Open your eyes.”

Jungkook opens their eyes and glances at their reflection in the mirror, a little in awe. It really was magic, what Taehyung did. They’re still Jungkook, still recognizable, but Jungkook’s surprised at just how well Taehyung seemed to accentuate their features. They can tell that while Hoseok’s makeup had been fun and bright, there’s something darker and sultrier about theirs. Their gut is telling them this was done on purpose, but Jungkook tells themselves that Taehyung probably just thought this would look better as opposed to something like Hoseok’s.

“Hey, guys, did Jungkook—"

Namjoon cuts himself short as his eyes automatically land on Jungkook. He makes a sound akin to a wheeze but sounds suspiciously like a dying cat.

“Did I what?” they ask.

“What the fuck are you wearing?” Namjoon near-screeches.

Jungkook frowns, looking down at their outfit. “Does it… look bad?”

“No!” Namjoon shouts. Realizes he’s shouting and quickly lowers his voice. “No, it looks great. I just.”

He scans Jungkook’s outfit again. “I need to lay down.”

“Are you okay?” Jungkook asks sincerely. “Do you need aspirin? I packed some, just in case.”

“No!” Namjoon shouts again, vague panic in his eyes. “I just… Give me five minutes.”

“Three,” Yoongi interjects. “We’ve gotta beat foot traffic.”

Namjoon looks mildly pained but nods, glances at Jungkook again, and hurries out the door.

“Here lies Kim Namjoon,” Hoseok announces in a solemn voice. “Cause of death: J—”

“Why don’t we all raid Taehyung’s kitchen?” Yoongi interrupts, though he’s barely hiding a snicker.

By the time they get down to the parade, it’s T-minus fifteen minutes to start, and Jungkook can’t help but teasingly remind the others how they wanted to get there early.

“Jungkook, if there’s one thing you need to know about the world going into adulthood, it’s that the only people who are ever early or on time for things are white people, current and ex-military, and the elderly.”

Jungkook tilts their head in question. “What about royals? Think… ‘The Princess Diaries’. ‘A queen is never late. Everyone else is simply early.’”

Hoseok considers them for a moment. “Okay, royals too. By technicality.”

Jungkook grins in victory and looks over their shoulder at Namjoon to share their victory. The older quickly glances up, looking vaguely like a deer caught in headlights as his ears shine bright red. Jungkook may be a bit of an idiot, but they’re not that oblivious, and it’s far too obvious where Namjoon’s eyes were just one second ago. Jungkook opens their mouth to say something to distract them both from the fact that Namjoon was checking out their ass, but instead, Hoseok grabs their arm and tugs them in a random direction.

Their group squeezes in between a group of shirtless older men dressed in leather and bondage and a group of women in lesbian pride flag-patterned outfits.

Yoongi ogles the group to their left. “I love the Bondage Bears.”

Jungkook chokes. “The what?”

“They’re LGBTQ+ sex worker activists based in Palm Springs. They’re all bears.”

Hoseok nods seriously and adds, “Their sibling groups are the Tied-Up Twinks and the Creampie Queens.”

“My innocent ears,” Jungkook mutters, turning to look at Namjoon again, only to see him snap his head up, once again a deer in headlights, and pointedly stare anywhere but Jungkook.

“Caught twice in a row?” Yoongi comments, shaking his head. “You are hopeless, Kim Namjoon.”

Jungkook focuses most of their attention on the parade from then on, but now, Namjoon’s presence behind them is almost too prominent. They’re hyper aware of every time Namjoon’s eyes are on them, every time he moves closer to get a better view. It becomes almost torture when the crowd has to condense even further halfway through the parade and Namjoon is right behind them.

But there are points where Jungkook forgets the three of them even exist, caught up in the excitement of the parade. Jungkook screams lyrics they don’t know every time a float blasting Lady Gaga passes by. A float filled with men similarly dressed to the Bondage Bears passes blasting Elton John, and men surrounding the float give out condoms.

Jungkook blushes from their chest to the tips of their ears when one man gives them three and nods his head towards the three friends around them.

They continue enjoying the parade until it starts to come to a close. When the last float disappears down the street and the crowd immediately starts to disperse, Jungkook panics and accidentally steps back into Namjoon, whose arms fly to their hips to keep them upright.

“You okay?”

Jungkook nods, but they’re not really sure, trying to fight down the rising panic in their throat. Their eyes scan for Hoseok and Yoongi, immediately finding them within vicinity, both conversing with the Bondage Bears. They’re okay. Jungkook is okay. Namjoon is right behind them—he’s safe too. But Namjoon starts to take his hands off of Jungkook’s hips, and they don’t want to lose him in the crowd.

“Wait,” Jungkook says hurriedly, grabbing onto one of Namjoon’s hands with both of their own. “Please.”

Namjoon looks confused at first but quickly nods, interlacing their fingers. Jungkook sighs in relief, sticks to his side like white on rice as they wait for Hoseok and Yoongi.

“Do you guys want to check out the after parties?” Yoongi asks when they return. “Normally, I don’t want to, but since it’s Jungkook’s first Pride…”

Jungkook shrugs. “Only if you want to.”

“I’m always down for a party,” Hoseok says.

I’m just looking for a good lay,” Yoongi says.

“Getting tired of this dick?”

“Only a little.”

“Rude!” Hoseok exclaims, smacking Yoongi square in the chest. “Apologize.”

“I’m sorry for them,” Namjoon whispers in Jungkook’s ear.

Jungkook smiles. “You don’t need to apologize.”

They head back to the apartment to have lunch with Taehyung and kill time before any of the parties start. Jungkook doesn’t even notice that they never let go of Namjoon’s hand until Taehyung pointedly stares at their hands and raises a brow.

“Crowds make Jungkook nervous,” Namjoon explains with a flush. “It helped him stay calm.”

Taehyung looks at Jungkook as they nod enthusiastically. “Right.”

“It’s true!” Jungkook insists. “Namjoon makes me feel safe.”

Hoseok snickers. “Cute.”

Namjoon mutters a Shut up, Hoseok and then everyone migrates to the kitchen to finally get lunch. Since the only thing Taehyung knows how to make is a bowl of cereal and Hoseok is lazy, Yoongi whips up a large pot of instant ramen for lunch, tossing in spinach, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers along with diced leftover chicken.

“Alexa, play smooth jazz on Pandora!” Taehyung shouts in the middle of everyone talking, scaring the living shit out of both Jungkook and Hoseok. He smiles sheepishly at them both. “Sorry, I remembered we needed music and had to act on it before I forgot.”

When the ramen is finished, everyone becomes fully immersed in their food. (Yoongi seems to act really smug about everyone liking his ramen, too, making Jungkook wonder what kind of scrutiny he got from the others.) Jungkook tries not to moan too obscenely as they eat, but the ramen is good . They didn’t know instant ramen could be this good, and now, they’re going to cook it like this all the time.

“Hey, Taehyung, can you and Yoongi help me find something in your room?” Hoseok says suddenly, once he’s finished eating.

“Sure, let me just finish—”

“Nope, now!”

Hoseok grabs Taehyung by the wrist and tugs him away, Yoongi rolling his eyes and following behind them. Jungkook turns to Namjoon with a raised brow.

“Why are they acting weird?”

“I don’t know,” Namjoon says. “But hey, you… you were holding my hand because you were nervous, right? You weren’t pretending? ”

Jungkook nods quickly. “Yes. One hundred percent.”

“Okay. Because if you want to hold my hand, you don’t need an excuse. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my friends and I like skinship. We can hold hands if you want to.”

Jungkook thinks about that for a moment, looks down at their empty bowl. “Can I hold your hand, then?”

“What, now?”

Jungkook turns to face Namjoon again, startled at how close he suddenly is to their face, but they don’t bother putting any distance between them. They nod. “Yes, right now.”

“Sure.”

Namjoon takes their hand with a small, shy smile. Jungkook looks away in a hurry, trying to control the pounding of their heart in their chest. This is a friend thing. Purely a friend thing. Namjoon just said he and his friends like skinship. It’s purely platonic. They’re getting worked up over nothing.

“I’m sorry my hands are so sweaty,” Jungkook mumbles, staring intently at the empty bowl.

“Don’t worry,” Namjoon chuckles. “Mine are too.”

“You two are so infuriating,” Yoongi says when he waltzes back into the kitchen. “The three of us are going to… disappear, and I suggest you two get a nap. We’re gonna start getting ready at four and leave by five-thirty.”

“Okay,” Namjoon says seriously.

“Wait, how are we infuriating? What did we do?” Jungkook asks. “Specifically, what did I do? I’m innocent.”

“You most certainly are not,” Namjoon argues.

“I’m pleading the Fifth,” Yoongi replies. “Now, don’t come into Tae’s room under any circumstances unless you want to join.”

“Join?” Jungkook asks, nose scrunching in confusion.

Yoongi smiles sympathetically. “You’re such a baby gay.”

Jungkook looks to Namjoon for an answer.

“Do you want to turn their threesome into an orgy?”

“No thank you,” Jungkook says quickly.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “I’ll try not to take that too personally.”

“Leave him alone,” Namjoon chides Yoongi. “I think he’s dealt with enough of you three for a lifetime. Keep it up and he might never come back. Anyway, we’re gonna go take that nap. Have fun and please try to be quiet.”

Once again, Jungkook lets Namjoon take the lead after putting both their dishes in the sink. They try not to think too hard as he guides Jungkook to the bed and then sets about closing the curtains, shutting the door, plugging both their phones into their respective chargers, and so on. Jungkook lays on the bed, watching with drooping eyelids as he does all of this. They weren’t tired before, but now that their head is on a pillow, Jungkook feels like they could go into hibernation.

Eventually, Namjoon comes to lay beside them, turns on his side to face Jungkook.

“I set an alarm for four o’clock. Is that alright?”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Jungkook murmurs, fighting to keep their eyes open. “I won’t take too long to get ready, though.”

“Are you going to change?”

“I dunno. I don’t think I packed enough.”

“You must be really tired,” Namjoon says with a chuckle. “Go to sleep, Jungkook.”

They don’t realize their eyes fall closed before Namjoon’s even finished talking but it doesn’t take long for them to doze off, wondering if the lips on their forehead was imagined or real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jungkook turns nineteen, Junghyun makes the decision to fly back to South Korea for his mandatory service, and Jungkook is devastated. They don’t mean for it to become an argument, but it does, and Jungkook goes to Namjoon. Or tries to, at least.

“Sorry, honey,” his mother says at the door. It’s taking everything in their body not to cry in front of her. “Namjoon is at a friend’s house.”

“It’s okay, ma’am,” they say in English, bowing out of habit. “Thank you.”

They wonder briefly if Namjoon’s parents know he’s gay. It’s not their business, they decide, taking the elevator down to the first floor so they can walk to the park across the street and avoid Junghyun. They hide in the jungle gym for thirty minutes and then get a text.

 

namjoon: hey my parents called and said you asked for me.

 

Jungkook is in the middle of telling him not to worry about it when they get another text.


namjoon: they heard yelling and said you looked pretty shaken up

 

And then in Korean:


namjoon: distraught

namjoon: do you want me to pick you up?

 

Jungkook replies in English.


kook: it’s okay

kook: don’t worry about me. i’m fine.

namjoon: get out of the jungle gym and wait on the sidewalk

kook: you’re not my mom

 

Despite their retort, they climb to the highest part of the jungle gym and take the slide down, hating that it’s grown much more difficult to maneuver in the structure through the years. Their feet hit the wood chips with a crunch and then they stride to the sidewalk, leaning against the chain link fence as they wait for Namjoon. It’s not a long wait, but it gives Jungkook more than enough time to think about what Junghyun going to Korea means for them both. It’s a train of thought that has them on the verge of tears again by the time Namjoon’s car pulls up to the sidewalk.

“Fine, my ass,” Namjoon says by way of greeting, catching how Jungkook hastily tries to wipe away their tears without moving from their spot.

“Fuck off,” Jungkook says, but it’s harsher than they mean for it to be. They cringe. “I’m sorry.”

“That’s how I can tell something’s really upsetting you,” Namjoon says. “Get in.”

Jungkook timidly makes their way around the car to slide into the passenger seat. Namjoon wordlessly hands them the auxiliary cord, and Jungkook’s spirits lift the tiniest bit.

They have a thing that they do. On random days or random nights, when Jungkook’s parents aren’t home or when it’s been a particularly good day or Namjoon’s driving Jungkook back from an event or Namjoon’s had a bad day and needs to get out, they go on drives. It’s routine, how Jungkook’s fingers automatically find their favorite playlist: “13 hours, 0 degrees”—the right ascension and declination for the constellation Virgo. They set their phone down in the cup holder between them and watches Namjoon take the long way out of the neighborhood.

At a red light twenty minutes later, Jungkook sits up abruptly. “I’m non-binary.”

Namjoon looks over at them for a second in vague confusion, and Jungkook knows that that wasn’t at all what he was expecting. It definitely isn’t what Jungkook meant to say, but it’d been on their mind a lot recently before the news about Junghyun. That’s what they meant to say. They wanted to tell Namjoon about Junghyun.

“Junghyunie-hyung is joining the military,” Jungkook blurts in Korean.

“One thing at a time,” Namjoon says with a laugh as the light turns green. “Which one do you want to talk about first?”

Jungkook doesn’t know. God, they’re not even sure they were ready to come out. But they sure as hell don’t want to think about Junghyun yet. “The first one.”

“Okay,” Namjoon answers slowly. He glances at Jungkook briefly, like waiting to see the younger’s reaction. “So you’re non-binary.”

Hearing it out loud is different than mulling it over in their head. Hearing it out loud makes it more real. More significant. More… substantial. They’d been toying with the term for months but the only person they ever disclosed to that they were even questioning was Namjoon, and that was once so long ago. They thought it’d feel weird to hear it spoken back to them, but if anything, it makes them feel a little more secure.

“Yeah,” Jungkook says.

“Eloquent,” Namjoon comments with a laugh. “Have you thought about what your pronouns are?”

Jungkook pauses. They thought about it, but… “They, them? I’m not sure yet.”

“That’s okay. Take your time. It’s a long process, Jungkook.” There’s a heartbeat. “Have you told anyone else?”

They take a long breath before they answer. “No. I… I didn’t mean to tell you yet, actually.”

“Okay. Do you think you’re ready to tell more people now?”

Jungkook’s stomach crashes between their hip bones. “No.”

“Strangers?”

“No.”

Namjoon thinks for a moment. “What about Tae, Yoongi, and Hoseok?”

“Maybe.” Jungkook thinks for a second. “I know that they’d be accepting, and I trust them… I’m just scared.”

“That’s okay. Coming out is scary. I appreciate you telling me, Jungkook. That was really brave.”

“Thanks.” Then quieter: “It doesn’t feel very brave.”

“Trust me, it is. I still haven’t come out to my parents, but I want to.”

“I don’t want to ever tell my parents,” Jungkook says.

“That’s okay. You don’t have to tell anyone anything. Remember that, alright?”

“Okay.”

There’s another pause, another several heartbeats, that stretches a little long. Jungkook takes the opportunity to enjoy the drive. It’s been a while—maybe a couple weeks—since their last late-night drive, and they think there’s always something kind of serene about their drives together. When Namjoon finally brings it up, because he knows Jungkook will avoid it forever if given the chance, they’re at a drive-thru for McDonald’s.

“So Junghyun’s joining the military,” Namjoon says. No beating around the bush, then.

“Yes.”

“He told you today?”

“Yeah.”

“Hi, welcome to McDonald’s. What can I get for you?”

Namjoon leans out his window slightly. “Can we get, uhhh… Two Big Macs, one large fry, and two Oreo McFlurry’s? And an order of the twenty-piece chicken nuggets.”

Jungkook smiles a little to themselves. It’s not a huge thing, but knowing that Namjoon knows their order—the order for when it’s the two of them together—by heart makes them all the more grateful to have Namjoon in their life.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Jungkook murmurs. “My mom’s always out on deployment. My dad’s always working. Then Junghyun is going to be in Korea for two years. I feel like… like I don’t really have anybody. I still don’t have a lot of friends, and that’s mostly by choice, but I feel… lonely, I guess.”

“What am I, chopped liver?” Namjoon asks with a chuckle.

Jungkook shakes their head quickly. “You’re the most important person in my life right now.”

Immediately, they blush. That wasn’t really what they meant to say, but now that it’s out there… Well, they don’t think it’s any less true. An understatement, maybe, but still mostly true. Jungkook glances over to scan Namjoon’s face, wonders what’s going through the older’s head right now.

“Thank you,” Namjoon replies.

He doesn’t have to say it back. They don’t expect him to, but they can tell there’s more he wants to say. So they wait for him to add on, for Namjoon to spill whatever it is that’s waiting on the tip of his tongue, but the words never come. The silence hangs in the air as they pull up to the window and get their food, gets drawn out even further as Namjoon pulls into a random parking lot down the street so they can eat.

“Hey, Jungkook,” Namjoon says after he finishes his burger.

“Yeah?”

“No matter what happens, no matter who comes and goes, I’ll always be here for you.”

Jungkook gapes a little, but Namjoon’s eyes are on the dashboard. Their voice comes out a whisper. “Thank you.”

“No, thank you, Jungkook. You don’t realize it yet, but you’ve taught me a lot more than you think. You’ve… opened my eyes to a lot of things.” Namjoon pauses and again, Jungkook can tell there’s more he wants to say. But instead, he finishes with, “I appreciate you, Jungkook.”

“I appreciate you,” Jungkook says insistently. They don’t know why they say it the way they do, like they need Namjoon to believe it more than they do themselves. Like it’s important for him to know it. Like Jungkook might die if Namjoon doesn’t fully comprehend just how much they appreciate him. “You’ve never abandoned me. You’ve always been there for me when I needed you.”

Briefly, their mind flashes back to the one time last year, when the two of them held hands at Pride, and then after when Jungkook felt what they were sure was Namjoon’s lips on their forehead. They never found out if it really was, but the older seemed to grow a little more comfortable with skinship. Their heart ached, just the tiniest bit, but things remained the same as they always did. They knew they would survive. And survive, they did.

“Why are you blushing, Kook?”

“Nothing,” they answer quietly, smiling slightly as they turn to face the window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Junghyun’s been in Korea for a year now, and Jungkook is doing okay. They think maybe they would have eventually been fine if they had to go through it alone, but having Namjoon around definitely helps. Even if the older will never love them back.

“Jungkook, can I ask for some advice?” he asks the younger on the phone.

They’re so surprised they mess up what would have been their first perfect winged tip. “Me?! Ask me?”

“Yeah.” There’s some shifting around, a single grunt, and Jungkook can almost picture Namjoon turning over on his bed to lay on his stomach. “See, there’s this person.”

“Person—like a guy?”

“Any gender… or no gender.”

Jungkook tilts their head. “I thought you were gay.”

“Who said this had anything to do with romance or sex?”

“In my defense, the way you phrased it was like… most American romcoms. So.”

Namjoon laughs. “Okay, fine. But ‘gay’ can be an umbrella term. For me, well… Okay, gender and sexuality are fluid and can change. I’ve never questioned it… but this person has me questioning it.”

“Oh.” Jungkook pauses to take a makeup wipe to the messed-up eyeliner, wiping it off so they can fix it in a minute. “Well, what kind of advice do you want?”

“Okay, so this person… I like them a lot. Like… A lot. But I don’t know if they like me back. But see, they’re a lot like you—shy and easy to fluster… so I can’t tell if they’re flustered because they like me or they’re just flustered in general, you know? I don’t know how to ask them.”

“Oh.” Jungkook tries their damnedest not to let their disappointment show in their voice. “Well, I guess if I were them, I’d want you to just to tell me. It’d… it would make it easier on me, because if this person is like me and I liked you—completely hypothetical—I would be questioning how you felt up until you said something. Even if you made a move, I still wouldn’t believe until you actually said something.”

Namjoon hums thoughtfully. “Would you want, like, a huge romantic gesture or something more… I don’t know—intimate?”

“Hypothetically?”

“Yeah, hypothetically. Of course.”

“Well, I would want something more intimate. Something small. I hate being the center of attention.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Jungkook sputters for a minute. “Well, um, your person—they might be different.”

“Right, of course.” Namjoon pauses. “Would you mind if I talked about them for a minute?”

Jungkook’s heart sinks to their stomach. “Of course not.”

“They’re so amazing, Jungkook. They have the most beautiful smile, and a startling personality. The way their eyes light up when they talk about the things they’re passionate about… the way they bite their lip when they don’t know what to say…” Namjoon sighs dreamily into the receiver, and Jungkook tries to control the urge to just hang up and start a pity party. “I think I might love them.”

“Wow, really?” Jungkook asks in surprise. They really never had a chance, did they?

“Yeah. They’re… they’re the kind of person I’d want to marry.” Namjoon laughs, then. “The funny thing is, I don’t even want to get married.”

“You must care about them a lot,” Jungkook murmurs, hoping their bitterness isn’t obvious.

Namjoon’s response is automatic. “More than anyone in the world.”

“You should tell them how you feel, then,” Jungkook says. Even though it hurts, they just want him to be happy. That’s all that matters.

“I wish I could.”

“Well, why can’t you?”

“Because I’m scared of rejection.”

“Are you joking? You’re like… the perfect significant other!” Jungkook exclaims. “Anyone would be lucky to have you.”

Namjoon sounds almost adamant. “No, trust me, they’re much more perfect. Way out of my league. I can’t… I can’t even begin to describe how perfect they are.”

Jungkook still disagrees. It doesn’t add up. There’s literally no one on this planet who could match up to Namjoon. He’s smart, attractive, a dork. He’s constantly trying to learn, constantly trying to improve himself. He can drive, he’s an avid reader, he loves animals. He’s never been anything but kind to Jungkook, but he’s told them when they’re wrong. He’s… perfect.

“Well, no matter what, they should know they’re lucky to have you.”

“Thanks, Jungkook,” Namjoon says with a laugh. “Oh, hey, did Hoseok send you the invite to his party?”

“Uh,” Jungkook tries to think. “I don’t think so. Tae mentioned it, I think, but I haven’t heard from Hoseok yet.”

“I won’t go if you won’t go,” Namjoon said earnestly. “There’s this guy that’s going and… ugh, can I rant?”

“Of course.”

“He’s an asshole,” Namjoon groans. “And Hoseok doesn’t know, but he’s also my ex. But he’s one of the choreographers for the studio that Hoseok likes, and he really wants to kiss his ass so that he can put in a good word for Hoseok.”

“Oh, damn.” Jungkook wants to know more about him. Maybe kick his ass. “Well, you know I don’t like parties…”

“You’re a life saver, Jungkook. This guy’s just…” Namjoon groans again. “I’m so glad you’re nothing like him.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Namjoon says quickly. “Do you mind if I tell Hoseok you’re sick and I’m taking care of you? Otherwise, he and Tae will give me shit for not going.”

“Yeah, of course,” Jungkook says easily.

“Awesome. We can just watch a movie. I’ll buy pizza, if you want.”

Jungkook didn’t even think they’d actually hang out, perfectly fine with letting Namjoon use them as an excuse. “That sounds good.”

“Awesome.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Jungkook’s sophomore year of college, they get invited to perform at a show in Los Angeles at the convention center with the team they’re on. Their brother is still in Korea. Their mom is on her last tour before she wants to retire, and their dad can’t get more than a single night off. Jungkook doesn’t drive yet (not legally, anyway, and they’re not sure they can drive from San Diego to LA comfortably), and they're running out of options.

“Sorry, Kook,” Jimin says. “Tae’s sugar daddy is driving me and my mom and my little sister and Tae. Our car is full. Have you tried Hoseok?”

“Yeah,” Jungkook says. They’re trying not to pout. “He and Yoongi are driving together.”

“Ah,” Jimin replies.

“Yeah. He said I was more than welcome, but I already walked in on them once. I don’t want that to happen again.”

“Sorry,” Jimin says again. “Hey, but doesn’t your friend Namjoon drive? I’m pretty sure he’s driven Hoseok around.”

Jungkook didn’t even think of Namjoon yet. “He does, but—”

“Ask him! I’m sure he’d love to go.”

Jungkook’s skeptical but they say sure to please Jimin, the self-proclaimed Parent Friend, both among their friend group and the dance team. Jimin, sated, tells Jungkook how excited he is before saying he loves them and hanging up. Jungkook lays in their bed for a minute, first trying to think any other options, then trying to work up the courage to ask Namjoon.

 

jungkook: hey are you home?

namjoon: i’m in the elevator. what’s up?

jungkook: coming or leaving?

namjoon: coming

jungkook: come over

jungkook: if you want to

 

Just moments later, there’s a knock at the door. Jungkook rolls off their bed with a groan, not wanting to leave the comfort of their blankets and pillows. They open the door and rest their forehead on Namjoon’s chest, exactly where they knew he’d be standing.

“What are you doing?” Namjoon asks with a chuckle.

“Homeostasis,” Jungkook mumbles. “What are you doing this weekend?”

“Nothing in particular. Can I come in before you start grilling me? My bladder has been ignoring nature’s call all day.”

Jungkook laughs and lets him in, pink across their cheeks as they wait for Namjoon on the couch. When the older returns, he plops down right next to Jungkook and melts into the cushions.

“You know that show I’m doing with the team?” Jungkook asks.

“Yeah,” Namjoon replies. “Is that why you asked what I’m doing this weekend?”

Jungkook pouts. “I don’t have a ride.”

“You sure that’s not just an excuse to have me there?” Jungkook flushes bright red. “Relax, I’m just teasing you.”

They don’t want Namjoon there. They’re different when they’re on stage, and Jungkook’s not ready to show Namjoon that side of them. It’s not bad, but there’s something entirely bare about the way Jungkook performs. All of their emotions are laid out, raw and exposed, across the stage. And the piece their team is performing is… personal. Jungkook knows that they poured their heart and soul in this song because of what song it is and what it means to them. They’re terrified that if Namjoon sees this performance, he’ll know.

“I know,” Jungkook says. “I don’t want to ask so much from you, and I don’t have a lot to offer, but I’ll make it up to you.”

“Kook, it’s fine—”

“I can’t get you your own hotel room, but I’ll have my own, and it’s really nice, and I can always take the cot—”

“Jungkook.”

Jungkook flushes. “Yes?”

“I’ll take you.”

“You don’t have to,” Jungkook immediately jumps in.

“Are you trying to convince me not to?” Jungkook must hesitate for half a beat too long because Namjoon gets serious quickly. “Jungkook, if you don’t want me to, just tell me.”

Jungkook hesitates again. “It’s not that…”

“You don’t have to explain it,” Namjoon says gently, taking mercy on the younger. “If you don’t want me to go, I can just drive you there and chill in the hotel room or go to a museum in LA.”

“Are you sure?” Jungkook asks.

Namjoon laughs and places a hand on Jungkook’s thigh. “Yes, I’m sure Jungkook. Just let me know what time you want us to leave and send me the address of the hotel.”

Jungkook grins. “Thank you.”

The rest of week passes quickly, and Jungkook has to make a packing checklist for themselves and for Namjoon, who forgets that toiletries are, in fact, a necessity. They load each of their bags into the back of Namjoon’s car and head off to a gas station for the older to fill the tank.

“Wait, I’ve got some cash,” Jungkook says, pulling a twenty out of their wallet.

“I’ve got it, Jungkook,” Namjoon replies, waving off their extended hand. “Save your money.”

“No,” the younger responds stubbornly. “Take the gas money or I’ll sit on the hood of this car until you do.”

“You wouldn’t.”

Jungkook raises a single brow. “Bet.”

“Fine,” Namjoon mutters, taking the cash and heading inside. When he comes back out, he playfully glares at Jungkook. “I hope you’re happy.”

“As a matter of fact, I am.”

Jungkook falls fast asleep before the ride is halfway over and startles awake when they hit LA’s trademark evening traffic.

“Fuck, I hate the 91.”

“You and everyone else in California,” Namjoon laughs. “It takes a lot to get road rage out of me, though.”

“Thank god. Both of my parents cuss out anyone who makes even the slightest mistake in driving, even if it’s an accident. Which is funny because neither of them are good drivers.”

Namjoon chuckles. “I’ve never seen your mom drive, but your dad really likes to ride the double yellow lines, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, oh my god. It’s terrifying.”

Namjoon laughs for a minute, inching forward in the traffic as his laughter dies down. “Hey, can you do me a favor and put our playlist on?”

Jungkook’s heart jumps to their throat. “Yeah. Gimme a second.”

The rest of the drive, though tedious and immensely frustrating even for Jungkook, who’s only a passenger, goes relatively easy. Namjoon takes a wrong turn thanks to Jungkook’s shitty directions, and the younger apologizes profusely for being a terrible navigator, but Namjoon waves off their apology.

“We’re taking the scenic route,” Namjoon says.

When they get to the hotel, Jungkook double-checks for their ID before going to the front desk to check into their room. Having never done so before, they stumble through the ordeal with a lot of stammering and twice as many apologies. There’s yet another apology on their lips when they thank the front desk secretary for their help, take their key and the spare, and walk back to Namjoon, who’s still smiling like nothing could go wrong.

“That was an absolute fucking train wreck,” Jungkook mutters, grabbing the handle of their suitcase.

“Could have been worse,” Namjoon replies with a shrug. “The first time I got a hotel room for myself, I put it under my dad’s name since I had to use his card. When I came to check in, it was a disaster. I couldn’t get the hotel room with just me, obviously. The manager was nice enough to let him call them and confirm all of the information, like the credit card number and stuff. But I’ll never forget it.”

“Well, damn.”

“Yeah. Fucking up isn’t fun, but they’re great life lessons. You learn from them, don’t you? That makes your mistakes valuable. You can’t forget them. They’re part of who you are. Forgive yourself for them, learn from them, and move on.”

Jungkook smiles to themselves as the two of them board the elevator. “You’re so smart.”

Namjoon snorts. “My IQ isn’t important. My worth as a human being is determined by my morality.”

“You literally just proved my point.”

“Jungkook, you know that there are different kinds of smart, right? Multiple intelligences?”

The younger rolls their eyes. “Yes, I know. You’ve told me before. I’m smart, just not the same smart as you are.”

“You retain a lot of information,” Namjoon comments. “You learn quickly. Both useful skills in any trade or passion.”

Jungkook flushes. “Yes...?”

“You have an excellent physique and great stamina. Definitely helpful in many vocational careers that look at such. Basically a necessity for a dancer such as yourself. Also important for any performer and great if you’re an ice skater.”

“You can stop now,” Jungkook hisses as the blush creeps towards their chest.

“Oh, but it’s so easy to get you flustered, Kook,” Namjoon coos with a smug smile.

“Yeah, well,” Jungkook grumbles, “let’s not forget how you couldn’t take your eyes off my ass for a goddamn second at Pride when I wore those shorts.”

Namjoon’s face drains of color. Jungkook can’t help but cackle as the elevator doors ding, opening to their floor, and they leave Namjoon behind, feeling immensely smug about breaking down Namjoon’s composure.

As they locate their room, they have to commend themselves for being able to tease Namjoon about that day. Neither of them have even brought it up until today, both too embarrassed to recall the events, much less talk about them. Jungkook still doesn’t know what that day ever meant for the two of them, but it’s much easier to tease and joke than dwell.

“So the show is tomorrow at six,” Jungkook says quietly as they both put all their stuff down and get settled. Part of them hopes he doesn’t hear. “Doors open at five-thirty.”

“Does that mean I can go?” Namjoon asks, moving so he can sit next to Jungkook on the bed.

Jungkook nods. “Yeah.”

Namjoon grins. “I’ve only seen you like… briefly go over pieces of choreography with your friends. I’m excited to see you dance.”

“Yeah,” Jungkook chuckles nervously, fidgeting with their fingers.

“Hey, what are you so nervous for?” Namjoon asks, reaching for Jungkook’s hand. “It’s just me, Kook.”

That’s the thing, Jungkook almost says. It’s you.

“I always get nervous before I perform,” they say instead. “It’ll go away once I get onstage.”

Namjoon gives Jungkook’s hand a little squeeze, and the younger tries not to be too in awe at how absolutely breathtaking he is. Has to remind themselves that this is real life so they don’t do something stupid, like kiss him.

“You’ll be okay,” Namjoon says.

Jungkook smiles. Maybe they will be.

Surprisingly, their nerves seem to dissipate the closer the show gets, like they’ve come to accept that Namjoon will know. For better or for worse. Things… things will be okay. No matter what. Worst-case scenario is that Namjoon doesn’t like them back, and Jungkook’s long since been prepared to be broken the news. They can handle this.

Jimin meets them in the lobby at lunch time, T-minus four hours until their call time.

“Hey, you excited?” Jimin chirps when he catches sight of Jungkook and Namjoon.

“Yeah. I’m a little less than nervous than I usually am, though,” Jungkook says.

“Wait, why are you nervous?”

Jungkook raises a brow. “You know I always get nervous before I perform.”

“No, not that,” Jimin says dismissively. “I’m talking about meeting Tae’s sugar daddy.”

“Oh, he’s still here?” Jungkook looks around like they might see him right then and there.

“Of course he is!” Jimin near-shouts. “Tae doesn’t see it, but the guy’s head-over-heels in love with him. I could spot his heart eyes from a mile away.” Jimin’s eyes scan their surroundings before he zeroes in on the hallway leading to the elevators. “Oh, they’re coming.”

It’s easy to spot them. They’re easily the two most attractive people in the building. And the best-dressed.

Taehyung has his arm hooked with the other’s, smiling brightly and talking animatedly all the way up until they reach the other group. He cuts their conversation short to greet the others.

“Oh, Jungkook, you haven’t met him yet! This is Seokjin. Jin, this is Jungkook. They—he’s a friend of mine and Namjoon’s.”

Seokjin smiles brightly at Jungkook, extending a hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Jungkook.”

“You too,” Jungkook says politely. “And it’s okay, Tae.” They turn back to Seokjin. “I’m non-binary. My pronouns are ‘they’ and ‘them’.”

From the corner of their eye, they see Namjoon bite back a smile. “And you already know me. We met briefly.”

“Oh, don’t worry. Tae tells me enough stories for me to forget any of his friends.”

“Holy shit, is that Gucci?” Jimin asks, reaching for Taehyung’s blazer sleeve.

“Well, the blazer is,” Seokjin says absentmindedly. “I didn’t get the set, so the trousers are St. Laurent and the button-up…”

“Walmart,” Tae supplies with a grin.

“Walmart,” Jin repeats in confirmation, turning to the rest of the group.

“Are Hoseok and Yoongi on their way down yet?” Taehyung asks.

Jimin scoffs. “Are you kidding? They’re fucking like rabbits until they absolutely have to leave.”

“Rude!” shouts Hoseok, who’s approaching the group with a pink-faced, bruised-lip Yoongi in tow. “Do you think we’d really miss lunch with you guys to have sex?”

The response is unanimous and simultaneous. “Yes.”

Hoseok sniffs. “Whatever.”

Lunch is, for the most part, uneventful. Seokjin is funny and easy to hang out with, and he seems to enjoy picking on Jungkook (and Jungkook fights back with just as much fervor). And they also understand what Jimin means—they can see it easily, and they’re sure the others can as well. Taehyung already is very charming without trying, easily making friends with anyone around him. It’s extremely difficult not to like him, and Seokjin is clearly whipped.

They’re not sure how Taehyung himself can’t see it. Seokjin isn’t bothering to hide the fond smile or the shining eyes. But then they catch the way Tae looks after Jimin when the other isn’t looking, the way he smiles with all his heart when Jimin smiles at him, the way Seokjin looks between them—a little lost but slowly catching on, and Jungkook understands.

“That’s one big clusterfuck,” Jungkook murmurs as they follow Namjoon back to the car.

“Huh?”

Jungkook nods towards the trio, who’ve gathered by a car too expensive to be anyone’s but Jin’s, all talking, though Jimin’s doing the Thing he does when he wants to sleep with a man. (Jungkook’s seen the Thing in person. Jimin’s already gorgeous, and when he cranks up his seduction methods, he’s deadly. )

“Oh.” Namjoon laughs. “They’ll figure out.”

“Will they?” Jungkook asks skeptically.

“Don’t worry,” Namjoon says as they get into the car. “Jimin’s very proactive, and Jin’s not as oblivious as Tae is.”

“I’m… confused.”

“Yoongi’s right. You are a baby gay.”

Jungkook rolls their eyes. “Shut up.”

When they get back to the hotel after lunch, Jungkook takes a nap. Because socializing is exhausting and, well, they weren’t planning to originally, but once they laid down on the bed, their body screamed at their brain to take a break.

“’M gonna sleep,” Jungkook murmurs into a pillow, curling into the smallest ball they can without making their spine ache.

“I’ll wake you up at three.”

Jungkook merely hums in response, stealing Namjoon’s pillow and cradling it close to their body. They hope the older doesn’t notice when they inhale softly, surprised but happy to know Namjoon’s natural scent has already been left on the pillow. They hear him sink down on the bed beside them and turn over, allowing Namjoon to curl up behind them, an arm tossed around their waist as they fall asleep.

The process of waking up and then getting to the convention center is a sleep-induced blur, mostly spurred on by Namjoon guiding a half-awake Jungkook by the elbow or with a hand on the small of their back. When they get in the car, Jungkook promptly falls back asleep.

“Hey, I can’t go backstage with you,” Namjoon tells Jungkook when he goes to drop them off. “I’ll be in the audience though. Tae said we’re somewhere to the left? I don’t know if it’s our left or stage left, but just look for us!”

“Okay,” Jungkook says, smiling tiredly.

“Good luck, Jungkook,” Namjoon tells them. “You’re going to be great.”

The nerves hit fifteen minutes before show time. Jimin keeps glancing over at them worriedly, no doubt certain Jungkook will throw up any minute. Jungkook themselves is sure they’ll puke. A nasty concoction of bile and the cheeseburger they had for lunch is churning in their stomach, ready to turn into projectiles at a moment’s notice.

“Are you okay?” Jimin asks.

“I’m in love with Namjoon,” Jungkook blurts.

“So I’ll take that as a no,” Jimin says, anxiously looking around for something that might help. “The rest of the team was wondering who the dance was about.”

Jungkook blanches. “What?”

“God, Kook, it’s so obvious you choreographed this for someone. They’ve been trying to figure it out for weeks. Half of them think you’re in love with me which, you’re hot— very hot, in fact—but I’ve got my sights set on more than just man candy.”

“You wish I were in love with you,” Jungkook scoffs.

Jimin grins. “See, there’s the little brat I know.”

“Whatever.”

“Let’s talk about your confession,” Jimin decides. “Namjoon’s gonna be here tonight. He’s going to see. And he’s not as oblivious as, say, Tae, right? So he’s going to know.”

“Oh my god.”

“Hey, stay with me. Don’t freak out. It’s okay, Jungkook.”

“I’m going to puke.”

“Aim in that direction. That team’s outfits are vomit green anyway.”

Jungkook laughs in spite of themselves. “Gross.”

“Their outfits are gross, thank you very much. I don’t know who picked them but they need a demotion.”

The banter and joking allows Jungkook’s stomach to settle, but the nerves sit in their peripheral, waiting to re-emerge when the time comes. Jungkook ignores them in favor of practicing the routine, trying to put their focus on putting on a good show. But they know that the best shows come when they put their all into a show, when all of their emotions are on their face. Jimin has an easier time doing this, having had a contemporary background, but Jimin’s also taught Jungkook all his tricks. Jungkook is going to tell a story, and Namjoon will be the first person in the audience to understand.

Jimin holds their hand as their team waits in the green room, Jungkook growing more and more anxious with each roar of applause from the audience, with each team, duet, and solo called to the stage. Jimin gives their hand a gentle squeeze. Jungkook squeezes back. Takes a deep breath when their team is announced.

They can’t see Namjoon from their position on stage, not with the spotlights shining on them, and it’s almost a relief. They shut the world out and focus on the music as it starts up, stares out over the heads of the audience as the spotlights settle on their group. The music starts up, they count themselves in, and then they get lost in the dance, pouring their heart and soul out for everyone to see. For Namjoon to see and understand.

Jungkook’s almost a little embarrassed at how quickly the last six years of their life wells up in their throat in the form of a choked sob, which they manage to push down until they’re running off-stage, the rush of adrenaline fading along with the audience’s applause. They follow Jimin backstage and break the rules because they’re college kids and they frankly couldn’t give less of a fuck, meeting up with the others outside the convention center, still in costume.

Somehow, everyone gets to hug them before Namjoon does, congratulating them on their performance.

“That was the biggest audience I’ve ever performed for,” Jungkook realizes with a jolt.

“Oh my god,” Jimin says. “Are you just now realizing this?”

Jungkook nods solemnly.

“Thoughts somewhere else?” Jin asks. It’s innocent. He doesn’t know, couldn’t possibly know.

Jungkook doesn’t mean to, but they meet Namjoon’s eyes just behind Seokjin as they breathe out, “Yes.”

Their group grows a little quiet as neither of them drop the other’s gaze.

“Hey, there’s a vendor selling churros down the street,” Hoseok says. “Yoongi, Jimin, Tae, Jin, do you guys want some?”

“Sure.”

“Yes.”

“I’m starving.”

“I’m paying.”

And then they’re alone.

Jungkook opens their mouth to say something, anything, but Namjoon beats them to it. “Why don’t we head back?”

Jungkook feels jittery on the drive back from the convention center to the hotel, trying to read Namjoon’s body language and facial expression. Some random station is puffing out 80s soft rock, but the drive otherwise quiet, and it makes them nervous.

Maybe it was a mistake to let Namjoon watch their performance. They had reason to believe it was a bad idea, and now the older’s barely said a word to them since they got into the car, and they can’t read him. They can’t tell what thoughts might be swirling in the older’s head. They knew Namjoon would know. He would see the performance, the choreography Jungkook worked for endless hours on, and he would know. There’s absolutely no way he doesn’t know, and now that it’s all out there in the open, the two of them can’t just ignore it or pretend neither of them know. Something is going to change between them, for better or for worse.

He’s silent up until they get into the elevator, when he finally seems to notice how much anxiety he’s pulsing into the air.

“Hey,” he says softly, reaching out to brush his fingertips along the side of Jungkook’s hand. “I’m sorry for being so quiet.”

Jungkook purses their lips, braces themselves for the worst. “Are you mad?”

“Mad?” Namjoon asks in disbelief, almost laughing. “Why would I be mad? I’m so fucking proud of you, Jungkook.”

“Really?” Jungkook chokes.

Namjoon intertwines their fingers, nodding as he does. “Yes, oh my god. That performance was amazing! You just… you laid yourself bare, Kook. That’s brave.”

Jungkook flushes. And then the elevator dings and the doors slide open. They let Namjoon lead them out and to their room. When the door shuts softly behind them, they both stop and Namjoon turns to face them. Something in the air shifts from the unsure tension to something more sincere, something softer but, at the same time, twenty times more intense. And Jungkook meets Namjoon’s gaze, feels their heart thud incessantly against their chest at the look in his eyes.

“Can I kiss you?” Namjoon whispers, taking one hesitant step forward.

Jungkook starts crying.

“Oh—oh my god. Did I read this wrong?” Namjoon cups their face worriedly and then immediately retracts his hands. “Was that the wrong thing to say?”

“You’re so stupid,” Jungkook sobs, reaching out for his hands so he can cup their face again.

Namjoon looks hilariously lost. “What?”

“I’ve been in love with you for so long,” Jungkook cries, rushing forward to press their lips to Namjoon’s. The older makes a surprised noise at the back of his throat but Jungkook’s constant pressure is all it takes for Namjoon to release his inhibitions and press Jungkook against the hotel room door. Jungkook whimpers, caught just a little off-guard, instinctively moving their arms to wrap around Namjoon’s neck.

It doesn’t take long for things to escalate, so much built-up tension of both kinds finally reaching their breaking points and pushing over the rim of the dam.

Jungkook parts their lips in what should be a choked gasp when Namjoon slips one of his thighs between theirs, but the noise is muffled as the older uses the moment to nip at Jungkook’s bottom lip. The younger’s knees give out, but Namjoon has two, strong arms already steadying them before they can get any closer to the ground. And Jungkook’s always been the strong one, knows (mostly thanks to Taehyung) that people picture them manhandling their partners, but they whimper a little deliriously and barely muster enough self-control to not go limp in Namjoon’s arms.

“Wait,” Jungkook says abruptly, the one moment they can get air. They’re both panting heavily, both of their eyes slightly glazed over, both with slick, pink lips and rosy cheeks. But Namjoon stills immediately, pulls back enough to look Jungkook in the eyes. “You need to say something.”

“What?”

“Say something,” they near-plead. “About what I said. Before we do more. I just…” Jungkook bites their lip, uncertain. “I need to know how you feel… before we do anything else.”

They know—they know sex doesn’t have to be romantic. It doesn’t have to have feelings. It could just be sex and they’d be done with it. But Namjoon’s… Namjoon is special. And maybe Jungkook’s naïve for thinking they could save themselves for someone older, someone so far out of their league, someone who may never have even had feelings for them. But they did , and now Namjoon is right here and he’s looking at Jungkook like they’re the only star in the sky worth watching.

“Oh, god, Jungkook,” Namjoon whispers. “I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember.”

His lips are back on Jungkook’s, insistent. Jungkook fists their free hand into the older’s hair, pulls back a little so they can mouth at Namjoon’s jawline, trying to let their body take over their actions so they don’t get caught up in uncertainty. They know they’re inexperienced, they know someone else can make it so much better for Namjoon, but they’re determined to make it good.

“Fuck,” Namjoon breathes when Jungkook nibbles on his earlobe before continuing down, nipping a trail all the way to his collarbone. “Fuck, Jungkook.”

Jungkook makes to travel back up but is surprised when Namjoon’s free hand slides down to their ass, pulls their hips forward so their bodies are flush. Jungkook moans directly into Namjoon’s ear, the older groaning in tandem. They get a little lost, grinding against Namjoon in search of more friction, head thudding back against the door. The older takes their exposed neck as an invitation to return the favor, sucking hard on the bare skin wherever he can manage.

“Bed,” Jungkook gasps, because they can feel it coiling in the pit of their stomach. They could come like this, but they don’t want to. Finishing like this, finishing so soon, would make it feel like so much less than what this is. “Bed, Joon, please.”

Namjoon pulls away, leads Jungkook further into the room by their still joined hands. When they get to the bed, Namjoon sits on the end of it, Jungkook crawling into his lap without question. They find his lips again, could stay like this forever if given the chance, but Namjoon pushes them back lightly, kicking his shoes off behind Jungkook before crawling backwards up the bed.

“What do you want to do?” Namjoon asks quietly as Jungkook follows him up the bed.

“Everything,” Jungkook replies automatically, finding their place in Namjoon’s lap again.

Namjoon chuckles. “Can’t do everything, Kook. A lot, but not everything.”

So Jungkook presses their forehead against Namjoon’s and murmurs, “Please fuck me.”

They slide their hands underneath Namjoon’s shirt, running their fingertips over the supple skin of his stomach. They want it so fucking bad. They hurriedly tug his shirt over his head, a little giddy at how quickly the older catches on, helps get his shirt off. Jungkook eyes his bare chest almost hungrily as the older goes a little pink. They find his tummy and god—

“Gotta—gotta just—”

Jungkook nuzzles their nose under Namjoon’s jawline, pressed open-mouthed kisses to his skin, retracing the path they made earlier down his neck, past his collarbone, down his chest. They hear Namjoon take a shuddered breath as they continue further down, kissing all over his stomach. Then they glance up, fingertips grazing the button of his jeans.

“Fuck,” Namjoon mutters. “You’re so pretty.”

They go a little boneless at the praise, cheek pressing to Namjoon’s hip, eye-level with his hardening, clothed cock. They trace a single finger down the length, mouth almost watering at the wet patch that forms on his pants. Jungkook swipes their tongue over their lips and undoes his button, smirking at Namjoon’s sharp intake of breath. They oh-so-slowly pull down his zipper and then his pants, scooting back to help Namjoon get them all the way off. And then Jungkook crawls back his legs, a hand coming up to palm Namjoon’s cock through his briefs.

“You’re so big,” Jungkook comments.

“Thanks,” Namjoon mutters. He’s breathless.

Jungkook raises a brow. “How do you know that’s a compliment? What if you’re too big?”

“I’ve never gotten a complaint,” Namjoon chuckles. Jungkook rolls their eyes, decides to shut him up by swooping down and mouthing his cock through the fabric. Tries not to be too smug when Namjoon chokes on nothing but air and his own saliva.

He’s big, and Jungkook knows they’re salivating at the thought of actually having him in their mouth. It’d almost be embarrassing if the older weren’t moaning softly, thighs tensing on either side of Jungkook’s head. They watch Namjoon’s cock twitch when they pull back to catch their breath a bit, and maybe Jungkook gets a little impatient, hooking their fingertips under the waistband of Namjoon’s briefs and tugging them down a little hurriedly.

“Fuck,” Jungkook whimpers as Namjoon’s cock slaps against his stomach, drops of precome falling with it. “Fuck, can I—can I suck your dick?”

“Are you seriously asking me that right now?” Namjoon asks, fingers clenched tight in the sheets beside him. “You literally just—you had your mouth on me a second ago!”

“Sorry,” Jungkook mutters, only a little apologetic.

They grip Namjoon’s cock firmly at the base and hold him steady as they lick a stripe from where their fist ends to the tip, moaning at the taste of Namjoon’s precome. They take the head of his cock into their mouth, whimpering at the sensation of him heavy on their tongue. Jungkook hollows their cheeks, takes as much of Namjoon as they can handle, pushing the boundaries of their gag reflex a little.

“Don’t—don’t choke,” Namjoon warns.

The idea of choking on Namjoon’s cock has Jungkook whining around him, leaking into their boxers.

And then they remember they’re still wearing clothes and determinedly try to undo the button on their own pants without taking their mouth off of the older’s dick. They only manage to get the button off and pull down the zipper, offering themselves a little relief from the pressure but nothing close to pleasure, their focus on Namjoon’s cock.

“Come here, Jungkook,” Namjoon says. It’s almost instantaneous, Jungkook pulling off of his cock to sit up and swoop down to press their forehead to Namjoon’s. The older smiles at him. “Let me take care of you too.”

He flips the two of them over, Jungkook blushing as the attention is turned on them. Namjoon kisses them quickly, groaning softly at the taste of himself on the younger’s lips, before his lips latch onto Jungkook’s nipple, one hand holding his body steady, the other trailing down their chest to reach into the younger’s boxers and grip their cock. Jungkook whimpers automatically, embarrassed at how quickly they react and how sensitive they are. The two sensations already feel like too much.

“You’re leaking so much, baby,” Namjoon murmurs against their skin. Jungkook whines involuntarily, but they feel a little indignant.

“Yeah,” Jungkook says petulantly, eyes screwed shut because it’s just so much. “Well.”

They don’t finish whatever they thought they might say, too distracted to come up with something witty. Then, Namjoon pushes himself to sit up and Jungkook opens their eyes, watching as he reaches for the waistband of Jungkook’s pants, tugging them down along with their boxers so that Jungkook’s cock is fully exposed. Jungkook’s almost scared of what might happen when Namjoon gets his mouth on them, because they’re so hard they might just come on the spot, and that would be really fucking embarrassing.

Jungkook ruts up accidentally when Namjoon begins kissing their thighs, completely unprepared for the sensation when all signs pointed to the older sucking their dick.

“S-sorry,” Jungkook whimpers.

“It’s okay, baby, you’re just eager,” Namjoon says. Nips at the inside of their thigh just to be mean. “There’s nothing wrong with being eager.”

Their cock twitches in anticipation as Namjoon trails his kisses and nips upwards, closer to where Jungkook wants him most. But then he bypasses Jungkook’s cock completely, the younger whining a protest before they’re silenced with a kiss. It’s open-mouthed and a little sloppy, riding the line between passionate and desperate as their cocks brush and they moan into each other’s mouths.

“Please,” Jungkook whines. “There’s lube in my bag.”

Namjoon has the audacity to snort. “Why is there lube in your bag?”

He grinds down against Jungkook, just to be an asshole, smirking a little when the younger matches the movement.

“Was gonna finger myself later,” Jungkook gasps, hands reaching out for Namjoon. The reminder that they were going to do that, knowing fully well Namjoon would be on the other side of the wall, has their hole clenching around nothing. “Please, Namjoon, want you so bad.”

“Fuck,” Namjoon groans. He climbs off of the bed and digs through Jungkook’s bag a little hurriedly.

“Front pocket,” Jungkook supplies.

Namjoon returns to bed with the half-full bottle, working quickly to pour some over his fingers and warm them with his hands. “When did you buy the bottle?”

“Why?”

Namjoon leans in close, lets a finger circle Jungkook’s rim, the younger gasping as their eyes squeeze shut again, legs instinctively moving further apart to give him ease of access. “Call me curious.”

Jungkook tries not to squirm out of embarrassment. “Last week.”

Namjoon’s eyebrows disappear into his hairline. “Seriously? And it’s already halfway gone?”

“Well,” Jungkook tries to sound affronted as their ears go bright red, “try having a neighbor like you and see how much lube you use.”

“Do you even know how many sheets and boxers and fucking, like, pillows I’ve ruined thinking about you?”

Jungkook doesn’t know if he times the words with pushing his finger into Jungkook fucking finally, but it sure as hell seems like it, the younger arching off of the bed with a moan. An image works its way into their head of Namjoon with his hand around his cock in the darkness of his own room, moaning Jungkook’s name softly as he comes. Jungkook whimpers.

“Are you ready for a second finger?” Namjoon asks. Jungkook shakes their head.

“I’ve—I’ve never—”

Namjoon freezes. “You’ve never had sex?”

“No,” Jungkook admits. “I—”

“It’s okay,” Namjoon says quickly, probably sensing the rise in Jungkook’s anxiety. “It’s okay, baby. Everyone does it on their own time. I was just surprised.”

“Why?”

“Have you seen yourself? You’re gorgeous.”

Jungkook flushes. “I was waiting for the right person.”

And they’ll always hate themselves for saying things they don’t mean to say at that moment in time, but Namjoon’s facial expression goes from surprised to affectionate in under a second. Jungkook can’t say they regret saying it.

“I love you so much,” he murmurs leaning down to nuzzle against Jungkook’s throat, focusing again on working Jungkook open.

“I love you too.”

“I’m gonna take care of you, baby, I promise.”

“I’m ready for another,” Jungkook mutters, voice cracking into a whimper when Namjoon finally finds their prostate. Namjoon kisses them again, swallowing their whine when he adds a second finger. He works slowly, pushing Jungkook closer and closer to the edge but never quite to the point of no return. Jungkook notices that he purposely avoids Jungkook’s prostate, only brushing against it occasionally. Even so, there’s a small pool of precome on their stomach where their cock’s been leaking, so hard it’s almost painful.

When Jungkook begins trying to push down on Namjoon’s fingers, the older pulls his fingers out, Jungkook nearly crying out in protest. Namjoon sates them with another kiss before popping open the cap of the lube bottle to add a third finger.

“Just in case,” Namjoon whispers, leaning down. “And, hey, don’t come yet, okay?”

“What—”

Jungkook chokes on a moan as they feel Namjoon take their cock into his mouth at the same time that he slowly pushes three fingers into Jungkook, just narrowly avoiding their prostate. It takes every bit of self-control in their body not to come, so many sensations hitting them at the same time with them already teetering so close to the edge. Namjoon stays completely still around their cock, seemingly gauging their reaction as his fingers begin to slide in and out of their hole.

“Namjoon,” Jungkook moans brokenly. “I can’t—please. I’m too close.”

They reach out to get a hand into Namjoon’s hair, tugging lightly before going completely limp when Namjoon groans around their cock, the vibrations sending jolts of pleasure up Jungkook’s spine. Their thighs shake as Namjoon begins bobbing his head in tandem with the movements of his fingers, tears springing to their eyes when they grow a little more desperate.

Namjoon pulls off just as Jungkook starts to get really close, smirks as he lets Jungkook catch their breath, chest heaving from getting so close. “Could you go again? If I made you come now?”

Jungkook shakes their head furiously. “I don’t know—I’ve never tried. Please, please fuck me.”

“Are you ready?” Namjoon asks, fingers pressing directly against Jungkook’s prostate as he does.

“Yes,” Jungkook breathes. Namjoon pulls his fingers out, Jungkook whining in response, their hole clenching around nothing.

“Do you have a condom?”

“Um,” Jungkook stammers. “I didn’t… No.”

Namjoon purses his lips. “I don’t either.”

“Next time?” Jungkook asks hopefully. “Just this once… no condom.”

“I’m clean,” Namjoon tells them, holding his cock in his hand as he lines himself up. “So. Yeah. Are you—wait, you’re a virgin—so.”

Jungkook smiles a little disbelievingly. “Joon, are you getting nervous?”

“No.” Namjoon smiles sheepishly. “A little.”

Jungkook sits up slightly and pulls Namjoon down for another sloppy kiss, grateful they’re not the only one nervous about this. They feel the tip of his cock press against his hole, biting down on Namjoon’s bottom lip in surprise. Namjoon moans against their lips, hips rutting forward unintentionally. Jungkook gasps and arches up against him, lips brushing with his.

“Sorry, sorry,” Namjoon says quickly. “I meant to go slow.”

“No, fuck,” Jungkook pants, mind delirious with pleasure. “Do it again.”

“You’re sure?” Namjoon rolls his hips experimentally in question.

Jungkook nods enthusiastically. “Hit me with your best shot.”

“Never say that again.”

Before Jungkook can muster up a retort, Namjoon pushes all the way in, a low growl forming in the back of his throat. Their lips meet again while Jungkook tries to adjust to the feeling, briefly wonders how it’d feel if Namjoon went up for four fingers, for shits and giggles.

Jungkook whines. “Please move.”

“Already?”

“Namjoon, for the love of—”

They’re cut off when the older abruptly pulls back and thrusts forward again, Jungkook whining high and caught off-guard. It’s the only taste of ‘hard and fast’ Jungkook gets as Namjoon develops an unbearably slow pace, pressing kisses all over their face whenever he gets the chance. It’s almost maddening, feeling the gradual slide of Namjoon’s cock, pushing them closer to their orgasm with each brush against their prostate without the promise of ever finishing.

At one point, Namjoon tries to sit up and pulls back enough that he actually slips out, and Jungkook whimpers in displeasure.

“Sorry,” Namjoon chuckles. “Got distracted looking at your beautiful face.”

Jungkook wants to roll their eyes but it’s so fucking corny. Instead, their ears brighten and they whimper. Namjoon smiles sweetly at them and pushes in just as slowly as before, keeps up the same pace.

“Please,” Jungkook whines, so desperate they might actually start crying. “Please, Namjoon.”

“What is it, baby?” Namjoon asks, saccharine smile remaining steady. “It’s very nice of you to say please, but I have no idea what you’re asking for.”

His tone skirts the line of condescending and Jungkook feels their cock leak even more. They make a mental note of it and store it away to look into another day, but all they care about right now is Namjoon’s cock moving inside them and how badly they want to come. They barely manage a desperately whispered, “Faster.”

At once, Namjoon’s pace changes from languid and leisurely to sharp, the older thrusting so hard that each slap of his hips against Jungkook’s is accented by a whimper from the younger. This time, tears brim their eyes and they reach around them for an anchor, grabby hands curling into the pillow next to their head and the sheets underneath them. Namjoon changes the angle ever-so-slightly, and Jungkook all but screams, writhing as they desperately try not to come quite yet.

“Are you close?” Namjoon asks.

“I’ve been close!” Jungkook cries. “You told me not to come!”

Namjoon stops moving entirely, Jungkook fighting tears because that’s just not fucking fair. He considers the younger, smirks to himself as he thrusts all the way in again and stays perfectly still. “You’re so good for me, Jungkook.”

Jungkook feels the tips of their ears heat up. “No, I’m not.”

“Waiting to come, waiting for my permission,” Namjoon murmurs, running his hands along Jungkook’s thighs. “Do you like being good, baby?”

“Stop,” Jungkook whines, thighs twitching.

“Do you want me to?” Namjoon asks, voice sincere. Jungkook meets his gaze. “You know I will. Do you really want me to?”

Jungkook shakes their head. “No. Keep going.”

The older smiles. “Do you like being good, then, baby?”

“Yes,” Jungkook whimpers.

“Fuck,” Namjoon mutters.

He picks up his pace again, this time aiming for Jungkook’s prostate. He keeps it fast, the only sounds in the room being the squelch of lube, skin-on-skin, and his and Jungkook’s sounds. Jungkook tries to reach out for him again, but he’s just out of reach, and they’re too close to the edge to be able to put much more effort into it.

But then, he doesn’t have to. Namjoon leans in close again and presses his lips to theirs. He pulls away just enough to be able to speak, lips still brushing.

“I’m close,” he whispers, slowing down the movement of his hips by just a fraction. “Do you want me to come inside you or on you?”

Jungkook nearly comes on the spot at the question. “I wanna feel it.” They reach for their cock in hopes of getting off faster. “Inside me, please.”

Namjoon pushes their hand away and replaces it with his own, jerking Jungkook off in time with his thrusts. The younger squirms, simultaneously trying to rut into his hand and meet his hips halfway but unable to do both. They arch off of the bed the next time Namjoon brushes against their prostate—so, so close—and it’s all it takes for Namjoon to falter, hips stuttering and then stilling inside of them as he comes. He nuzzles his face into Jungkook’s neck, groaning softly.

“I love you,” he whispers against their skin, squeezing Jungkook’s cock gently.

Jungkook’s body quivers as they come between their bodies, a broken moan of something sounding vaguely like “Namjoon” falling from their lips. It’s entirely gross when the older pulls out and then promptly plops down on top of Jungkook, but they can’t bring themselves to care as Namjoon meets them halfway in another kiss.

“I love you,” Jungkook mutters against Namjoon’s lips, though the words are mostly muffled and incomprehensible. “So much. I love you so, so much.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Keep or donate?”

Jungkook looks up at Hoseok, eyes the shirt he’s holding. “Donate. I can’t even remember the last time I wore it.”

“Got it.”

He tosses the Los Angeles Kings jersey into a large box, already most of the way full while Jungkook resumes folding the clothes already in the ‘to-keep’ pile on their old bed.

Most of their walls are stripped of any indication Jungkook lived in the room—paintings, posters, sticky notes, and the like all packed away or given away to start a new life cycle. Some of the boxes with their things are already sitting in the back of Namjoon’s car downstairs. Some of them litter Jungkook’s old room, waiting to be brought along as well. Some of them are already at the new apartment, a cheap little studio on the outside of the city.

“How do your parents feel about you moving out?”

Jungkook sighs. “My dad says he couldn’t care less, but I know he’s upset. Thinks I’m flying the coop too soon, destined to fail. My mom is… struggling. She can tell there’s something more to me and Namjoon, but…”

Hoseok nods understandingly. “Do you think they’d ever accept you two?”

“Probably not,” Jungkook says with a shrug. “I mean, I know they’d love me, but it would make them distant. So I don’t plan on ever telling them.”

“What about your brother?”

“Junghyun? Oh, he knows. I think… I think maybe he knew for a long time and just let me figure it out on my own.”

Jungkook thinks back to the first time they went into Namjoon’s room, back when the older first came out to them and Junghyun. Maybe he knew from the day Jungkook defied him to stay with Namjoon and give him their unrivaled support. Maybe.

“How do you feel?” Hoseok asks this time. “And keep or donate?”

Jungkook eyes the black ‘OBEY’ tank top and visibly shudders. “Donate.”

“So how do you feel?” Hoseok prompts again, tossing the tank top into the same box as the t-shirt.

Jungkook bites their lip in an attempt to hide a bashful smile. “I’m excited, obviously. It’ll be my first time really on my own, you know? And I’ve never done that before.”

“I’m excited for you. Joonie is, like, husband material.” Hoseok pauses, considering Jungkook for a minute and they have a brief moment of déjà vu. “God, imagine the sex you two are gonna have now that you’ll be alone.”

Jungkook flushes. “We don’t… I don’t think we’ll have a lot of sex.”

“Are you kidding? Honey, Joon’s been holding back on you. Once he figures out what kinks you’re into, oh boy.”

“We’ve already… done some stuff.”

“God, you’re adorable,” Hoseok coos, pinching Jungkook’s cheek. “No wonder he’s so whipped for you.”

Jungkook swats his hand away. “Shut up.”

“Hey,” Hoseok says softly. “That boy really does love you, you know? He’d go to the ends of the Earth to make you happy. And you make him so, so happy. Literally won’t shut up about you.”

“I know,” they reply, thinking back to the previous night. Namjoon was having one of his moments where he was overwhelmed with how much he loves Jungkook, whispering sonnets into their ear in the moments before Jungkook fell asleep. He compared Jungkook’s eyes to the night sky and their heart to the sun, kissed them until they believed it to be true.

“Last one,” Hoseok says, adorning a soft smile. “Keep or donate?”

Jungkook glances over, hesitates. It’s a hoodie they’d borrowed from Namjoon years ago, much too large back then, now a perfect fit. Jungkook completely forgot they still had it, probably wouldn’t even wear it. Namjoon’s fashion sense has also changed since then, and he probably wouldn’t wear it either. Not unless he’d waited to do laundry and didn’t have anything else.

Yet…

“Keep,” Jungkook says, taking the hoodie when it’s handed to them.

“Assumed as much, but I decided to ask.”

“Thanks,” they mutter, remembering how many times they wore it when they were younger before it disappeared as Jungkook’s style matured. “Do you know if Namjoon’s done packing?”

“Probably not,” Hoseok says. “Knowing him, he’s probably trying to see If he forgot anything, and he did, but can’t remember what.”

Jungkook snickers. “You’re right. Should we go check on him?”

“You can, but I’ll stick over here and raid your kitchen. Can’t stand another second of you two being grossly adorable.”

“Suit yourself. Just don’t touch the cheesecake.”

“No promises.”

Jungkook laughs as they make their way out of the apartment, hears the sound of the fridge opening right before they shut the door behind them and stride towards their next-door neighbor. They smile to themselves and then knock on the door.

“One minute!”

“Open up, loser!”

Namjoon has a brow raised when he finally opens the door. “If I’m dating you, am I really a loser?”

“Fuck off.”

The older steps aside to let Jungkook in, crowding them against the door once it’s shut. Jungkook whimpers as soon as Namjoon has a leg slotted between their thighs, lips insistent against their own until the younger gently shoves him off.

“No making out until you’re done packing,” they scold.

“I’m almost done. Just five minutes? I promise I can get us both to finish in five.”

Jungkook rolls their eyes. “No. You can wait.”

“But I’ve been waiting all day,” Namjoon whines a little petulantly. “Do you have any idea how good your thighs look in those jeans?”

Jungkook hops up onto the island counter. “I’m already done packing, babe. I’m ready to load the car. What’s your status?”

“Horny,” Namjoon grumbles, sliding in between Jungkook’s knees and pulling them forward until they’re flush. “Come on, baby, I’ll just suck you off. Or you can suck me off—I know how much you love having me in your mouth.”

Jungkook blushes but pushes him away again. “Pack. We can fuck later. Maybe at our new place.”

Namjoon snorts. “If we manage to beat Tae and Jimin.”

“What?”

“Taehyung and Jimin want to break in our apartment. As in, they’re probably going to fuck in the kitchen if they get a hold of the spare key.”

Jungkook blinks. “Can I watch?”

Namjoon thumps them on the forehead.

“Hey, it’s a fair question!”

“No, because we’re going to break in the apartment by fucking in the kitchen.”

Jungkook perks up. “We are?”

Namjoon smiles devilishly. “Of course we are.”

It only takes a little bit more convincing for Namjoon to continue and eventually finish packing, though they do get a little distracted by wandering hands. (“It’s your fault,” Namjoon tells Jungkook. “I could’ve finished sooner if you hadn’t thought, ‘Hey, what if I suck Joon’s dick while he’s packing?”) The two of them, with the help of one (1) Jung Hoseok, load most of their boxes into Namjoon’s car and the rest into Hoseok’s.

“Do you two need any more help before I leave?” Hoseok asks in the hallway outside their apartment, after helping them bring up their boxes. “Do you need condoms? An industrial-sized container of flavored lube?”

Jungkook smiles brightly. “Nope!”

“Okay, well,” Hoseok tugs on his jacket, “I left a housewarming gift in the nightstand next to your bed. Let me know what you think of it so I can get one for myself.”

“What—”

Hoseok reaches forward and shuts the door before Jungkook can finish their question. They wave off the incident and turning to look at the rest of the apartment, sees Namjoon’s shadow on the floor coming from the kitchen.

It’s a studio, small by most standards and expensive because they’re still within vicinity of most of San Diego. It’s small, but it’s theirs. There’s boxes everywhere, but it’s theirs. The only real furniture in the apartment right now are the blow-up mattress in the corner, the cute little nightstand beside it, and the few appliances in the kitchen. Which isn’t much. But it’s theirs.

“Hoseok said he left a housewarming gift for us,” Jungkook announces, moving towards the nightstand. They feel Namjoon come up behind them as they tug open the little drawer.

“A cock ring,” Namjoon observes, reaching inside and picking up the little piece of metal. “Oh, this is going to be so much fun.”

Jungkook squeezes their thighs together. “Shouldn’t we, ah, unpack?”

“First things, first,” Namjoon says thoughtfully, stepping into Jungkook’s personal space from behind, free hand on their hip. “We need to break in the new place.”

Jungkook laughs. “Really? That’s first?”

“We did a lot today,” Namjoon replies with a shrug. “Let’s take a break.”

Jungkook laughs harder. “I love you.”

“Love you too, baby.” Namjoon rolls his hips against the younger’s ass. “Now, come on. This thing is going to make you cry.”