The more optimistic members of the royal household had assumed that the fuss and borderline-intrusive interest in the crown prince's nuptials would eventually subside once he and his groom were married. This did not happen, as the more pessimistic members of the royal household had predicted. A fact that is repeated often by them, as they smugly remind everyone that they had indeed, as they said, "called it". Neither their display of righteousness, nor the excessive eye-rolling of the other members in response, solved the problem, however.
That problem being namely that Kim Namjoon, the crown prince of Korea, and his new groom, Jung Hoseok, are being daily inundated with media speculation and the gross invasion of not only their privacy, but the privacy of their close friends and family.
A solution must be found, and it came in the form of a comment from the youngest son of the Duke of Dalseong.
"Why don't we just give them the story they're desperate for and stop all the questions?" Taehyung had said, quite reasonably, and both the optimistic and pessimistic members could find no fault in his suggestion.
The arrangements were made and a royal biographer was selected amongst the scholars to chronicle the story of Kim Namjoon and Jung Hoseok. Their trials, their tribulations, and the ultimate triumph of true love, hard earned and admirable, as is fitting for a personage of royal blood. The task fell to the unluckiest of all the scholars, a Kim Jisoo, to interview, collect, and in all ways assemble the story of how Namjoon met and fell in love with Hoseok. She is excited and nervous at the opportunity, and still junior enough in her employment with the royal household to not realize that this is no enviable duty.
She understands the magnitude and the sheer, soul-draining aggravation of it soon enough, after interviewing some of the more eclectic members of the royal house of Kim. By the time she arrives at the moment to interview Kim Seokjin, eldest son of the Duke of Dalseong and Prince Namjoon's close friend and cousin, she is equal parts relieved and terrified. Relieved, as he has always been incredibly friendly and enjoyable company, and terrified, that something, or someone, would ruin her one carefree interview.
She opens the door cheerfully to the large and expensively decorated study at the appointed hour. She promptly freezes on the spot and chokes down a gasp, fingers gripping like a lifeline onto the door as she catches a glimpse inside.
She realizes she was right to worry. She should have been having cold sweats all night. She should have faked her own death and run away to Italy or Australia. Because beside Kim Seokjin, somehow managing to sit comfortably on the impossibly uncomfortable, indecently ornate sofa, lounges Min Yoongi.
He had purportedly been out of the country for another three days and she is not, in any way, shape, or form, ready to question him. She has no notes, no research, absolutely nothing except for three very limited points of knowledge. He is the only son of the Baron of Daegu, he went to school with Prince Namjoon and is one of his closest and oldest friends, and he is infamously private. This is his first interview in seven years and he is going to murder her.
That last bit is more presumption than fact but it doesn't matter, because Jisoo still has to step into that room and face her death, bravely, cowering only on the inside.
A little on the outside but she can hide her shaking hands behind her back, she thinks.
She stalls by the door, trying to remember how to put one foot in front of the other, when she sees Yoongi turn his head and scowl at Seokjin.
"I can't believe you dragged me here on a Saturday," he says, almost sulking, sitting up a bit so he can properly fold his arms across his chest.
Seokjin arches a brow and smirks, scrolling through his phone. "I didn't drag you anywhere. You followed me."
"Well, what else am I supposed to do all alone at home?" He sniffs and shifts, subtly inching closer to Seokjin. "You should have scheduled this before I got back."
"I did. You came back early." He locks his phone and turns to smile cajolingly at Yoongi. "Why was that, again?:
Yoongi wrinkles his nose and looks away, toward the door. Jisoo's breath stops in her lungs and panic races through her veins, but he apparently doesn't spot her, hidden at an awkward angle behind the massive oak. "They rearranged my flights."
"Just admit you missed me," Seokjin says, tilting his head, eyes lighting with unspoken laughter.
Yoongi stares blankly at Seokjin, blinking slowly. "You're a funny man."
Seokjin laughs. "I know you didn't mean it that way, but I am funny, so I win."
Yoongi snorts. "We were competing?"
"Always," Seokjin says, laughter subsiding into a pleased grin.
Yoongi's lips purse, a twitch away from what could be a smile. "For what?"
Seokjin's eyes crease with another gale of laughter barely contained. "Each other's affection."
Yoongi's lips spread into a smile and his eyes soften with fondness. He is placated, happy, content, and Jisoo is not stupid enough to let the opportunity slip by. She takes in a deep breath and enters the room, pasting the brightest smile she can manage onto her mouth and making her introductions.
Yoongi is quiet and watchful but, to her relief, polite and courteous. Seokjin leads most of the conversation, kind and outgoing and charming. He almost even eases all of her anxieties about the interview. Almost. Until she's set up her phone to record and pulled out her notebook, glancing at her list of questions, realizing she can't use any of them. They have been researched and written and edited over and over and over, and they're all trash now. They're meant specifically for Seokjin, and Seokjin alone.
She flicks her gaze to Seokjin, and then to Yoongi, biting her lip and squeezing her hands tight to stop them from trembling. No matter how she thinks about it, this has to be a group interview. And the questions must include Yoongi. She stares at them blankly for too many long, drawn-out moments until finally Yoongi sighs and wrinkles his nose.
"Have I fucked it up?"
She blinks, jolting. "What?" she asks, and immediately grimaces because she should have said something more proper like pardon, or no, not at all.
Yoongi nods to her notebook. "I've messed up your questions." He raises a hand and says briefly but somehow sincerely, "Sorry. Jinnie said I would but I wanted to tag along."
"Ah, no, no," she denies, pasting that bright smile back to her lips. "No, it's totally fine. Less work for me, getting two for the price of one. What a deal!" She forces a laugh through her suddenly dry lips.
"I can leave him in the car," Seokjin suggests, and starts laughing when Yoongi sends him a quick scowl. He crinkles his eyes and swats a hand on Yoongi's shoulder lightly. "What? You said I was a funny man, Yoongi," he says between hiccups of laughter.
Yoongi's lips purse and his eyes blink slowly. He lets out a soft sigh, more affectionate than annoyed, and moves to stand. Jisoo's eyes widen in surprise as she catches the subtle but firm press of Seokjin's fingers against Yoongi's wrist, staying him. Yoongi relaxes back against the couch cushions.
Seokjin's laughter subsides and he turns his bright, charming smile onto Jisoo. "It's fine if he stays, right? You don't have to worry about the questions. We'll just tell you the whole story from the beginning, nothing held back." He glances to Yoongi and tilts his head. "Right?"
Yoongi's lips tilt into a small smile and he flicks his gaze to Jisoo. "If that works for you?"
Jisoo nods briskly, a chaotic mix of relieved that her interview hasn't been completely destroyed, and anxious because she has no secondary plan in case things go awry.
Seokjin settles back in his seat and crosses his legs, clasping his hands over his knees. "Okay, I'll start."
Slumped on Namjoon's shoulder lies the unconscious, pale form of a man, dark-haired, lean-limbed, thin round glasses sitting on his sharp nose. Yoongi stands at the edge of the semi-circle booth, brow furrowed and arms crossed as Namjoon gently tries to revive the stranger. Neither of them acknowledge Seokjin's presence as he enters the private bar room, which makes this entire thing even worse. He could be a waiter or a reporter for all they know, walking in on a dead body clinging to the crown prince of Korea.
He's going to murder both of them.
"You killed someone?" Seokjin finally spits out, shutting the door quickly and pressing his back against the cold panel, barricading it in case someone tries to follow him. He already has three plans circling his head. He has to get the body out and placed somewhere. Make it look like an accident at home or something. He'll need access to the security cameras. He'll need-
Seokjin stops mid-sentence, blinks, then tilts his head to look at Yoongi, arching a brow. "I was talking."
Yoongi snaps his mouth shut and makes a small noise, apologetic or sulking, Jisoo cannot tell. She stays perfectly still in her seat, confused, a little upset Yoongi interrupted Seokjin, a little scared, but mostly desperately curious.
Yoongi shuffles in his seat and presses his lips together, looking at Seokjin, silent, heeding to him. Jisoo turns her eyes back to Seokjin and they wait for him to continue.
Seokjin seems unbothered, pursing his lips and tapping his fingers on the sofa arm. He finally glances back to Yoongi. "Why can't I start there? That's the first time I met Hoseok."
"That's the first time any of us met Hoseok, but it doesn't really set the story up, hyung," Yoongi says, mildly reproachful and partly amused. He moves his hand in Jisoo's direction. "She's obviously confused. Look at how big her eyes are."
Seokjin looks at Jisoo. She freezes, not expecting any attention to be focused on her. "Her eyes are just naturally big," Seokjin says.
"You're lost, right?" Yoongi prompts her and Seokjin hits his shoulder with the back of his hand again.
"You're leading the witness," he protests.
They both turn their attention back to Jisoo and she feels her mouth dry up, her fingers twitching nervously.
"Well? Are you confused?" Seokjin asks, smiling gently.
"Um." She licks her lips and frowns down at the notepad on her lap. She takes a deep breath and reminds herself to be brave. "I don't really understand who the, uh, the dead body was?" She waves her hands in front of her suddenly. "But it doesn't matter, if it'll get me killed." She laughs nervously.
"It was Hoseok," Yoongi says. "And he wasn't dead, he was passed out." He flicks his gaze to Seokjin. "Obviously."
Seokjin's mouth opens, affronted. "How was I supposed to know, I just showed up with Namjoon texting me there was a huge problem."
"And your mind went automatically to murder?"
Seokjin shrugs. "Well, he was alone with you."
"I thought Hoseok doesn't drink," Jisoo says, furrowing her brow in confusion. "And he met Prince Namjoon at his university." She blinks, looking back and forth between Seokjin and Yoongi, doubt festering in her mind as she tries to recall all the interviews she's done over the past month. "Right?"
Seokjin shakes his head, sighing. "Lies." He leans forward conspiratorially. "We're here to tell you the real story. The truth no one wants you to know."
Jisoo isn't entirely sure she wants to know that truth. She's fairly certain she won't be able to use any of it in her write up. But before she can protest, Yoongi shifts closer to mirror Seokjin and says, "Right. Except we're not starting literally when you walk in the door."
"Well, you tell it, then," Seokjin says.
Yoongi crosses his arms over his chest. "I am," he says, arching a brow and flicking his eyes determinedly to Jisoo.
From the corner of her eye, she thinks she sees Seokjin's lips twitch in triumph, like Yoongi fell right into his plan. She can't ponder it any longer, however, and the thought melts away as Yoongi starts.
He catches a glimpse of the caller ID, frowning when he reads the name.
Kim Seokjin, spelled out in clear characters, that very last person he would have thought would call him.
He sniffs and lifts his mug to his lips, taking a welcome sip of coffee, and ignores his phone. He switches his focus back on the morning news playing on his kitchen television. It's probably a mistaken call, he figures. Kim Seokjin has no reason whatsoever to call him. They know each other, yes. They have all the same mutual friends, yes. They have each other's phone numbers, yes. And yet, they're not friends. Or friendly, even.
Civil, Yoongi thinks, tilting his head and taking another sip from his mug, the caffeine easing the sleep from his body already. They have a weird sort of tension between them, like a mild, vague dislike, too abstract to be isolated and inspected. They never really hit it off when they first met and they just kind of settled into this existence.
Besides, Yoongi thinks, frowning at the television screen, Seokjin is friendly and nice and outgoing with everyone. It turns out that Yoongi isn't an everyone, apparently. Seokjin must not like him very much.
Which is fine. Yoongi has been fine with it for a while. It doesn't bother him.
He wants more coffee.
Happier stops and there's a ringing type of silence in its absence despite the weather forecast playing on the television. He sighs and shifts, leaning his elbow back against the counter, watching as a low pressure system sweeps across the green screen map of Seoul.
There is no ding of his phone indicating a voicemail. He sniffs again. A mistake, just like he thought.
He's on his second cup of coffee and contemplating moving from the kitchen to his office when Happier plays again, his phone buzzing against the marble countertop. He pushes away from his position and scoops the device up, surprise making his eyebrows raise.
The caller display reads Jeon Jungkook, which isn't so odd except it's before noon on a Saturday morning. He swipes his thumb to answer it.
"Hyung?" Jungkook croaks, sleep choking his words, slurring and dragging them out into rough syllables.
Yoongi frowns. "What's wrong?"
"It's so early," Jungkook complains, the sentence muffling into a loud yawn. "Can you call Seokjin-hyung?"
Yoongi blinks. "Why?"
Jungkook yawns again and Yoongi can hear the rustle of bed sheets. "He said you're not picking up and he's going to keep calling me if you don't call him."
Yoongi scrunches his nose. "Why does he want to talk to me?"
Jungkook makes a small, whining noise. "Call him, hyung. Please, I need to sleep."
"Just turn your phone on silent."
"Seokjin-hyung will find a way," Jungkook says ominously. "You're going to doom me and my sleeping patterns."
Yoongi wants to tell Jungkook that his sleeping patterns are unhealthy anyway but instead he hums and says, "Fine, I'll call him."
"You saved my life," Jungkook says before the line goes dead, Jungkook presumably hanging up to fall back asleep.
Yoongi brings his phone from his ear to stare at it for a moment, frowning at the screen. Not a mistake then, but he still cannot fathom what Seokjin wants from him. Something he wants desperately enough to involve one of their mutual friends.
His phone starts to buzz again, the screen lighting up to spell Kim Seokjin for a second time this morning. He jolts in surprise but quickly recovers, clearing his throat with a cough. He's fine, it's just a phone call. He just has to answer it and say hello.
Hey would be the most nonchalant. Yes, hey is the best response.
His thumb moves to answer the call.
But maybe that's too casual?
His thumb slides across his screen, answering the call just as he changes his mind. In a panic, he lifts the phone to his ear and says, "Hey-lo?" Immediately, he scrunches his eyes shut and curses himself. That was literally the opposite of nonchalant.
"Min Yoongi?" Seokjin says, interrupting Yoongi's mental tumble. "It's Kim Seokjin."
"Yeah, Jungkook just called me," Yoongi says, his voice a monotone that comes off harsher than he intends. He coughs again, shifting on his feet, his free hand coming up to touch absentmindedly at his cupid's bow.
"Sorry, it was an emergency," Seokjin explains, partly contrite, partly unconcerned, pushing onwards before Yoongi can comment. "Namjoon's birthday is coming up."
Yoongi sniffs. "Yeah?"
"So I was thinking, for his present," Seokjin continues.
Yoongi frowns, brow furrowing as confusion washes over him, unsure why Seokjin would think they would get a joint gift for Namjoon. He wonders how expensive the present is, that Seokjin is looking for investors. "I already bought his gift," he interrupts. "A new wallet, since he keeps losing his."
Seokjin is silent on the other end, and Yoongi can feel his disapproval before he can understand it. His eyes flick around his kitchen, searching for an answer, as if the cabinets can tell him where he fucked up. "Yoongi," Seokjin finally says slowly.
He pauses again and Yoongi licks his lips. "Yes?"
"Are you done interrupting me?"
Yoongi coughs. "Yeah, sorry."
"Hmm. What I was thinking for Namjoon's present is less a thing, and more an experience. I want to throw him a surprise party." Seokjin sounds pleased with himself and Yoongi wonders why his own mouth lifts into a small smile.
"That's a nice idea, but, ah, Namjoonie's birthday is practically a national holiday. He has schedules the entire day." Yoongi purses his lips, a little regretful to dampen Seokjin's plan.
"I know. That's why we're doing it the week after his birthday. Operation BTS."
Yoongi frowns. "BTS?"
"Birthday plus seven," Seokjin supplies helpfully.
"That....doesn't condense to BTS."
"Birthday, lowercase t, seven."
Yoongi's lips curl and his brows pinch together in bafflement. "Why are you calling it 'T'?"
"Because 'lowercase t' takes too long to say, and 'plus sign' just seems silly." Yoongi starts to protest again but Seokjin preempts him. "That doesn't matter. What I need you to do is get Namjoon to the location without him realizing anything is up. And also make sure Dispatch doesn't follow you. Or the guards."
Yoongi can practically see Seokjin's shudder, a similar distasteful shiver working through his own shoulders at the mention of Namjoon's heavy-handed security.
"I'll text you the address," Seokjin says before Yoongi even agrees, as if he doesn't have a choice.
He doesn't, he realizes, but he'd like to pretend.
"Remember, it's a secret."
The phone goes dead as Seokjin hangs up. Yoongi lowers his hand to the counter, placing the device down carefully. He coughs one more time and rubs the back of his neck.
That didn't go terribly.
Yoongi's mouth tilts into a smile and he hums, pushing away from the counter.
Not that he cares.
He gets Namjoon to the designated place without a hitch, casually leading Namjoon through the exclusive club to the private room that Seokjin arranged. Namjoon follows trustingly and Yoongi is concerned for a moment at how easy it would be to actually kidnap the prince. He frowns. This is why he stays close, to watch, to protect. There are too many people in this world that would take advantage of the kindness of Namjoon's heart.
The room is empty when they enter, as Yoongi expects. Seokjin will appear later with the rest of their friends, probably with Jimin bringing in a cake and singing Happy Birthday. There's a large, elongated U-shaped leather booth with a table already set with various bottles of alcohol. The lights are dim but brighter than the club behind them.
Yoongi lets Namjoon in first before following him inside, closing the door firmly behind him, the overpowering sound of the dance music suddenly muffled to a dull impression of a song. Namjoon smiles and slides into the booth. "You know I can't drink that much," he says to Yoongi, nodding to what is essentially a small-scale bar of assorted beverages.
Yoongi just makes a low sound in his throat. "But you know I can," he replies, smirking. He hangs back by the door, pulling out his cell phone to let Seokjin know they are in position.
"Why are we having dinner in a club?" Namjoon asks, more absently than actually curious.
Yoongi glances up to see Namjoon fiddling with the bottles, reading the labels with interest. He smiles. "So we're not disturbed by your adoring public."
As if on cue, the door to the room slams open. Yoongi prepares for the barrage of a chaotic burst of Happy Birthday's. He frowns when he notices the new occupant of the room is a man he's never seen before, thumping a little clumsily into the space, eyes unfocused, face blank.
Namjoon's eyes widen slightly and Yoongi's brow furrows, momentarily confused. He sniffs. Seokjin would order one of those stupid singing telegram things.
The man – slim build, dark hair, round glasses sliding off to the tip of his nose – closes the door behind him with a dramatic flourish. He looks around the room for a moment before settling on Namjoon. The blank haze melts from his face and a sudden determination sets into his features, arresting Yoongi from movement by its sheer aura.
The man makes his way over to Namjoon, cautious and deliberate steps that only slightly sway, until he can slump down on the edge of the booth, Namjoon shifting down automatically to make room. "You!" he says suddenly, an accusation.
Namjoon blinks. "Me," he says, placating and soothing even in his confusion.
The man nods. "Yeah, you. You fucked me."
Namjoon's mouth gaps open. He looks quickly up at Yoongi. "I never," he starts to protest but Yoongi is already approaching, finally cluing in to the situation. A drunk patron recognized Namjoon and thought he was the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow of lies and trickery.
"Okay, buddy, time to go," he starts to say, trying to reach for the man. He's hit back with surprising force, flailing arms and sharp nails striking at Yoongi’s chest.
"No, I'm gonna, I'm gonna say this!" the man protests. He swings his gaze back to Namjoon, eyes narrowing until they're almost closed, lips formed into a deep-set triangle. "I," he starts, hiccupping before pressing on. "I worked so hard for you. I did all the overtime." He sways a bit, burping. "I gave you my research. I gave you the idea for your thesis." He pushes a finger into Namjoon's shoulder, jabbing it repeatedly as he leans forward. "And you recommend fucking Lee? Fucking Lee I-Never-Wrote-A-Damn-Original-Word-In-My-Life Yejun. You bastard."
The man takes a shuddering breath and bends his head, saying mournfully, "That professorship shoulda been mine, and you promised me. You promised me, sunbae."
The man tips forward and finally slumps into Namjoon's chest. Namjoon's hands reach to catch him automatically and he looks up with alarm at Yoongi.
Yoongi sighs heavily. "What the fuck was that."
Namjoon gingerly shifts, reaching into his jacket pocket for his cell phone, careful not to disturb the passed-out man leaning on him. "I think I might look a bit like this sunbae," he says, unlocking his phone with one hand and quickly typing with his thumb.
"I'll get security," Yoongi says, taking a step back.
"No, you can't," Namjoon says, tone neutral and authoritative.
Yoongi frowns. "Why not?"
"Won't look right." Namjoon slips his phone to the table. "I texted Seokjin-hyung to come here."
Yoongi crosses his arms. "Why would you expect he's even anywhere near here?"
Namjoon smiles, dimples flashing briefly. "This is my surprise party, isn't it?"
Yoongi gapes at him. "How –"
Before he can finish, the door to the room swings open and Seokjin steps in. He takes one sweep of the room, eyes falling on the man slumped against Namjoon, and all good nature falls from his face. His brows pinch together, his eyes narrow, his jaw tightens as he clenches it. Yoongi thinks it's really unfair that he somehow maintains his extraordinary good looks even when fuming and stressed. He sniffs and refuses to acknowledge Seokjin's presence out of spite.
Yoongi hears the door close soundly and Seokjin shifts to stand next to him, in front of Namjoon and the drunk man.
"You killed someone?" he demands, vexation in his every syllable.
Yoongi rolls his eyes. "Don't be dramatic, he's just drunk."
"This doesn't look good. What were you thinking?" Seokjin says, casting his gaze to Yoongi, disapproval falling off him in waves, as if this is somehow Yoongi's fault.
Yoongi scoffs, indignant. "You should have chosen a classier joint."
"I tried, they wouldn't let you in."
Yoongi's shoulders bristle and he swings around to fully face Seokjin, tongue rolling in his mouth as he prepares a vicious response.
"You two can fight it out later," Namjoon interrupts, eyeing them sharply. "We have more pressing matters at hand."
Seokjin clenches his jaw again and nods, attention redirected. Yoongi clears his throat and tips his chin to Namjoon.
"What exactly happened?" Seokjin asks coolly, looking only at Namjoon for an answer. Yoongi presses his lips together. Fine. He's out of it, fine.
Namjoon briefly explains what transpired and after he's finished, Yoongi says, "We need to get this guy out of here."
"No, we can't move an unconscious person from a room with the crown prince," Seokjin dismisses. "There are always eyes, waiting to sell a story to Dispatch."
"Then what are we going to do?"
Seokjin yelps suddenly as the door swings open again, a ruckus of three boisterous voices harmonizing Happy Birthday filling the space. Yoongi turns to watch Taehyung and Jungkook enter the room, followed by Jimin with a large, candle-lit birthday cake.
Yoongi walks over to slam the door closed again. "Not now," he tells them as he passes, their faces turning comically confused. There is a litany of "What happened?", "Who's that?", and "Can we still eat the cake?" that he ignores.
Seokjin slumps down on the booth at the opposite end from Namjoon and the troublemaker. He locks eyes with Namjoon and says in the most even, deadpan tone Yoongi has ever heard Seokjin voice, "Happy birthday, Namjoon-ah."
Yoongi sends the kids home after they've picked off all the strawberries from the cake. He tries to get Namjoon to leave, unsuccessfully.
"Seokjin-hyung and I can handle it," he tells Namjoon, watching as Namjoon carefully eases the man into a comfortable lying position. "We'll stay until our friend here sobers up. It's better if he doesn't see you when he wakes up."
Namjoon shakes his head, shrugging out of his jacket and draping it gently over the man's torso as a makeshift blanket. "No. It's my responsibility."
"How is this your responsibility?" Yoongi asks, exasperated. "You don't even know him."
Namjoon places a finger over his lips, signalling to Yoongi to lower his voice. "He followed us in here because of me."
"He thought you were someone else."
Namjoon sits by the man's feet, leaning against the booth back and closing his eyes. "You can go. I'll stay."
"You know I'm not leaving," Yoongi says, accepting Namjoon's stubbornness with displeased reluctance. He slides into the booth and mirrors Namjoon's pose, crossing his arms over his chest. "Seokjin-hyung can go, then," he says.
"I'm not leaving," Seokjin says, returning to the room. He's carrying a case of water bottles, procured from thin air for all Yoongi knows. It annoys him somehow, in a strange, convoluted sort of way. There's a tinge of awe at Seokjin's abilities that Yoongi doesn't feel inclined to acknowledge, and that makes him irritable.
Yoongi purses his lips. "So we'll all have a sleepover here, then."
"Looks like it," Seokjin says, placing the bottles on the table.
The man lets out a displeased mutter, disturbed by the noise. Namjoon's eyes open long enough to ascertain that the man is fine before he closes them again, intent on sleeping.
Seokjin frowns, lips jutting out in a pout. He removes two water bottles, holding one out to Yoongi. Yoongi stares at it, confused, and blinks up at Seokjin. Seokjin waves the water bottle a little. "Take it."
Yoongi blinks again, reaching for the bottle, frowning. It feels weird, accepting a kindness from Seokjin, even one so small. "I'd rather have the soju," he says without thought, a light-hearted quip.
Seokjin's lips quirk into the first smile he's worn all evening. "Me too." He glances at the forgotten collection of alcohol by them, partly hesitant and partly hopeful.
For a moment, Yoongi feel a tenuous connection with Seokjin, a kind of understanding between the two of them. Yoongi's lips twitch and he follows Seokjin's gaze to the bottles. "We probably shouldn't," he says slowly, regretfully.
"Yeah," Seokjin agrees, just as regretfully.
"One drunk is more than enough for one evening," Yoongi elaborates.
Seokjin glances back to Yoongi. "We can both handle ourselves, though."
"One beer should be okay," Yoongi suggests eagerly. "It's nearly water."
Seokjin grins and reaches for two tall cans of beer. He slides one to Yoongi before slipping into the booth beside him and opening his can. He holds his beer in the air. "To my worst party ever," he says.
Yoongi snorts. He taps his beer against Seokjin's. "To your good intentions."
"And the road to hell," Seokjin adds, tipping his head back to drink.
"We're sinners here."
Seokjin laughs, his eyes crinkling and mouth wide open.
Yoongi glances away and takes a swig of his beer before his thoughts start to confuse him again. Before he starts to feel that tenuous connection strengthen between them and he fools himself into thinking Seokjin is anything deeper than a friend of a friend.
Seokjin's laughter fades and they descend into an awkward silence. For a moment Yoongi thinks it's because Seokjin might have sensed Yoongi pulling back internally. But when he finally glances back to Seokjin and finds him engrossed in his cell phone, he knows he's imagining it.
Yoongi shifts further down the booth, nursing his beer, silence thick and heavy and pressing insistently against him.
"You don't have to stay," Seokjin says quietly, startling Yoongi from his almost trance. Yoongi's eyes flick to Seokjin, a frown of displeasure turning his lips down. Seokjin smiles slightly at Yoongi's expression. "I'm not trying to get rid of you. I know you'll stay." He taps his fingers against the side of his beer can. "I'm just saying, you don't have to stay. You're a good friend."
In Yoongi's imagination, it almost seems like Seokjin's smile dims a little, a strange pull of emotion fighting to show through, and a stubbornness to conceal it.
"I'm glad Namjoon has you," Seokjin says.
Yoongi's brows furrow. He licks his lips, unsure how to respond, the silence pressing, pressing, pressing.
"You should try to sleep," Seokjin continues, unperturbed by the awkwardness he induced, and seemingly unaware of the easy escape he provided Yoongi. He stretches his legs out under the table and slides halfway down in his seat. "We're probably going to be here until sun up."
Yoongi stares at Seokjin for a long moment, pursing his lips, an uneasy awareness in his chest. He lets out a deep breath and shifts against the booth, taking Seokjin's advice and drifting off to sleep.
He is awakened by the piercing, dismayed screams of an unfamiliar voice. He lips jut out in annoyance and protest but his eyes remain weighted, refusing to open. He makes a weak groaning noise in his chest when the commotion continues, more voices added to it with varying levels of calm. There's a very low, very rough voice that still somehow manages to form concise sentences despite the sleep clinging to it. There's another voice, gentle and soothing that Yoongi recognizes as Namjoon, explaining the situation.
Yoongi lets out a sigh as he listens, his eyes finally cooperating and squinting open. Their guest has awoken and Namjoon is explaining to him exactly what happened the night before. He shifts up into a sitting position, glancing at the blurry forms of the man and Namjoon. The man has his head buried in his hands, moaning woefully.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so, so, so sorry, I can't believe this, I'm so sorry," the man repeats. "I was out with my colleagues and I was upset and I drank too much, I'm so sorry."
"Oh, no, it's okay," Namjoon soothes, patting the man's shoulder calmingly. "Mistakes happen, it's life. It's fine."
The man's head pops up, sudden indignation on his face. "It's not fine, I passed out drunk in front of the prince of Korea, what the fuck is wrong with you?" He stops abruptly. "And now I just cursed at the prince of Korea, please don't charge me with treason."
Namjoon's eyes are wide, his expression flustered and, if Yoongi trusts his still sleep-hazed vision, slightly enamored. "I, um."
"I can't die, I promised my mother I'd live until I was a hundred," the man rambles, entreating. He clasps his hands together and rubs them in supplication.
"I, uh," Namjoon starts. "I pardon you."
Yoongi snorts. He hears Seokjin huff out a short laugh from beside him, low and rumbling, and he finally realizes that the third voice was Seokjin's. The skin of his neck tingles with the vibrations of Seokjin's laugh, for some weird reason.
"Okay, great. Now that the judicial proceedings are finished, I should take our newly pardoned citizen back to his home," Seokjin says, sliding from the booth and grabbing his jacket from the table. He smiles kindly at Hoseok. "Hmm?"
The man stares wide-eyed at Seokjin. "You're Kim Seokjin."
Seokjin winks, clearly pleased to be recognized. "I am."
"This is the real fucking deal," the man says blankly. "The newspapers don't do your face justice."
Yoongi's lips quirk into a crooked smile when he sees the tips of Seokjin's ears turn red at the compliment. Less of a compliment, actually, he thinks. More like a fact. The newspapers really don't do him justice and it annoys him.
"Thank you, I'm very handsome," Seokjin replies. He beckons with his hand. "Come on, I'll get you home and we can all forget this happened."
The man moves to leave the booth. Namjoon hesitantly slides out of the space to let the man pass, as if he's unwilling to let this bizarre encounter end yet. Yoongi narrows his eyes.
"Yoongi, will you get Namjoon back?" Seokjin asks, fishing his car keys out of his pocket.
"Yeah, we'll leave in twenty minutes, just to be safe," Yoongi replies.
"Thanks," Seokjin says as he escorts the man from the room and disappears behind the closing door.
Yoongi inhales deeply and stretches. "Well."
Namjoon stares at the closed door and nods. "Well."
And that, Yoongi thinks incorrectly, is the end of that.
Yoongi arches a brow and glances behind him. His studio is exactly how it was three seconds ago when Namjoon’s attention wandered away. The open space still has a long black table covered in 3D models of his latest project. The walls are still dark grey and textured. The books are still overstuffed on his bookcase. There’s still too many figurines surrounding his double monitor computer on his desk, along with empty coffee cups he hasn’t gotten around to recycling yet. His glass and black drafting table still has a half-finished design, clean dark lines translating the vision he has stuck in his head.
He looks back to Namjoon, seated perfectly still on Yoongi’s office sofa, still zoned out. Yoongi smirks. “Sometimes.”
Namjoon jolts from his trance, looking back to Yoongi. “Hmm?”
“Sometimes I think.”
Namjoon’s eyebrows raise, confusion comically widening his eyes. “Pardon?”
Yoongi schools his features, deadpan like his tone. “You asked me if I think. Sometimes I do, but a lot of it is pure talent and instinct.”
Namjoon smiles indulgently and Yoongi thinks his little joke deserves a bit more than indulgence. It was funny.
“Ah. Ha,” Namjoon says charitably.
Yoongi’s lips flatten into a resigned line. “What did you want to say?” he asks, steering back to the topic at hand.
“Oh.” Namjoon smiles sheepishly. “Nevermind, it was nothing.”
“It was something,” Yoongi disagrees. “Come on, it’s me. What were you going to say?”
Namjoon holds his gaze for a moment, two moments, before he leans forward slightly. “Remember Jung Hoseok?”
Yoongi quirks his lips, thinking for a moment, trying to place the familiar name. “Oh! The drunk guy?”
“You shouldn’t say that,” Namjoon protests, frowning.
“He was, though. Nevermind,” Yoongi says quickly, preventing Namjoon from side-tracking again. “What about Jung Hoseok?”
Namjoon taps his fingers on the arm of the sofa, an unconscious habit he tends to exhibit when he’s forming the right words. “He had my jacket when he left that night. He had it cleaned and sent it back to me.”
“Okay,” Yoongi says slowly, still not understanding what Namjoon’s point is supposed to be.
“He sent a note with the jacket.”
Yoongi waits for Namjoon to elaborate but it seems he believes his statement contained sufficient information. Yoongi swallows a sigh. This is going to be one of those long conversations where Namjoon tries to decide something excruciatingly cautiously. He leans forward to grab his coffee off the low table and hooks his free arm over the back of his square, quilted leather chair. “What did the note say?” he prompts when he’s comfortable.
“It was a very nice note. Three pages double-sided!” Namjoon smiles softly, his dimple peeking out for a moment. “I have it here,” he says, looking around presumably for his small bag. He frowns when it isn’t immediately visible.
Yoongi takes a sip of his coffee, blessed caffeine hitting his tongue. “On your left side. You’re sitting on it,” he tells Namjoon.
“Oh!” Namjoon smiles gratefully. “Thanks.” He pulls his bag from between his left thigh and the sofa arm, flipping through the contents until he retrieves a light blue folded note. Namjoon smiles fondly as he scans the letter again. “His name is Jung Hoseok and he’s an assistant professor at Seoul University, in the Department of Aesthetics.” Namjoon looks at Yoongi. “Isn’t that cool?”
Yoongi hums noncommittally and takes another sip of his coffee.
“He explains a bit more about why he got drunk.” Namjoon sighs. “He was supposed to get a promotion, but it went to someone else, and he was feeling badly used. It’s really a shame. I looked up his papers, they’re astounding. New and interesting ideas. Well researched and argued. He’s blazing a new academic path.”
Yoongi nods, but Namjoon doesn’t need encouragement, continuing.
“He sends his apologies to you, and everyone else. He really does feel bad.”
Yoongi shrugs. “It was a memorable night.” He shifts forward, resting his coffee cup on his knee. “So. What’s the problem?”
Namjoon pauses, his lips pressing together in thought. “I know I don’t really know him, and I’m a prince, so it’s really not easy-”
“You like him,” Yoongi says, eyebrows raising in surprise.
Namjoon dips his head shyly and reaches a hand up to rub the back of his neck. “I don’t really know him yet, but I’d like to know him more.”
“Ask him out, then,” Yoongi says casually. An easy solution to a non-problem.
“I can’t just ask him out,” Namjoon protests.
“I’m a prince!”
“So? You don’t have a dating ban. Your parents said it’s okay years ago.”
“That’s not the issue,” Namjoon sighs.
“Then what is the issue?”
“What if I ask him out and he says yes?” Namjoon says forlornly.
Yoongi’s brows furrow and his eyes narrow. “You’re afraid of...not being rejected?”
“You’re overthinking again.”
“What if he only says yes because I’m the prince? What if he feels he has to say yes?”
“Then I guess you’ll be alone forever,” Yoongi says bluntly.
“Hyung, I came for advice,” Namjoon says, almost pleading.
Yoongi sniffs. “My advice: be straightforward. Tell him you’d like to know him better but he can feel free to say no. No pressure.”
Namjoon frowns, unconvinced.
Yoongi sighs, frustrated. “Well, ask Seokjin-ssi, then, if my advice is so bad.”
Namjoon nods. “Yeah, good idea.”
Yoongi’s mouth opens in affronted shock. “Get out of my office.”
Jisoo turns her avid attention from Yoongi to Seokjin, her eyes wide.
Yoongi frowns. “What?”
“You just skipped so much,” Seokjin complains, his hands waving to emphasize his statement.
“I wasn’t involved after that until they were dating,” Yoongi protests mildly.
“Why don’t you tell it, then?” Yoongi prompts.
Jisoo has a strange impression that Yoongi is smiling without moving his lips, a kind of amused twinkle in his eyes as he casts his gaze up and down Seokjin.
“I will.” Seokjin flicks his gaze to Jisoo so suddenly, her breath catches in her throat. He leans forward and holds a hand up dramatically. “This is how it happened.”
Furtive glances, excited flushes, a constant murmur of something-is-happening is all Seokjin walks through when he returns from his meeting and heads to his office. He distinctly overhears an argument in the break room about how their tea isn't "posh enough" and serving it would be an offense akin to treason.
Which is ridiculous because he's been drinking that tea for three years now, and it's fair enough. On the more moderate end of the tea spectrum but they do have a budget to maintain.
It all makes sense once Seokjin enters his office and finds Namjoon waiting for him. “I was wondering why everyone is on edge. I get it now,” Seokjin says, shutting the door behind him. He smiles at Namjoon and lifts a hand in greeting. “What’s up?”
Namjoon stands from his chair and smiles bashfully. “Sorry, I probably should have called ahead. I sometimes pop in at Yoongi-hyung’s work, I didn’t think it would cause such a -” He gestures wildly with his hands when words escape him.
Seokjin shrugs, laughing. “We’re government employees, Namjoon-ah,” he says, winking conspiratorily. “And you are the government.”
Namjoon sighs in mild frustration. “In name only.”
“Hmm.” Seokjin pulls a chair up to Namjoon’s and sits, crossing his legs and folding his hands over one knee. He smiles and tilts his head. “So, what’s so important that you had to visit?”
Namjoon sits as well, hooking his ankles together, his fingers tapping at the arm of the chair. “Remember Jung Hoseok?”
Seokjin nods. “Of course. I’ve been in contact with him.”
Namjoon’s eyes widen. “For what?”
“We started talking when I drove him home. The K-pop festival we’re organizing is actually his area of expertise. He works at Seoul University in the Aesthetics department, did you know that? Wrote some papers on the Hallyu wave.”
“I know,” Namjoon says, fondness subtle but still perspectable in his tone.
Seokjin pauses, eyes flickering over Namjoon. A grin spreads on his lips. “You’re interested in him.”
Namjoon’s cheeks flush and he clears his throat, straightening his posture in what Seokjin recognizes as his etiquette-will-save-you-always pose. “I mean, I don’t really know him -”
“But you want to?” Seokjin prompts, leaning forward.
“If it’s possible. But -”
“It’s a hard thing to arrange on your own without overstepping,” Seokjin concludes. He leans back, slapping both hands on the arms of his chair. “I have you covered, bro.” He stands and bends across his desk to grab the landline phone. He enters the extension to the intern’s desk and waits.
Jihan’s voicemail picks up and Seokjin says, “Hey, Jihan, it’s Seokjin. You know that package you needed to pick up from Jung Hoseok? Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’ll get it myself. Thanks.” He replaces the receiver and turns to smile at Namjoon. “Let’s go, Namjoon-ah.”
Namjoon stares at him, mouth agape. “Right now?”
Seokjin sighs, walking around to Namjoon to try to pull him up from his chair. “Right now. Seize the day. Let’s go!” He pats at Namjoon’s back. “Up, up.”
Jisoo shifts her eyes between Yoongi and Seokjin, jolted from the story Seokjin had been telling.
Yoongi shrugs, arms crossed over his chest. “Nothing.”
Seokjin shifts on the sofa to face Yoongi. “What?” he repeats forcefully.
Yoongi shrugs again. “Just, you’re always going on about how you got Namjoon and Hoseok together and all you did was put them in the same room.”
“I did more than that, and you know it,” Seokjin defends. “I did more than you.”
Yoongi turns to face Seokjin, offended. “I told him to be direct. That’s the best advice he could get.”
“Too bad you didn’t follow it,” Seokjin remarks archly.
Jisoo watches in fascination as Yoongi’s face turns into a strange mix of abashment and defiance.
“I was direct with you!” Yoongi counters stubbornly.
Seokjin snorts. “It doesn’t count when -” He stops, his eyes falling back on Jisoo. Both Seokjin and Yoongi freeze as if just recalling her presence.
Jisoo holds up a hand. “Uh, can I ask?” She ignores Yoongi’s narrowing eyes, curiosity pushing her on. “What did Yoongi-ssi do?”
“Doesn’t matter. Hyung, continue,” Yoongi says quickly.
“Where was I?” Seokjin says, going along with Yoongi’s desire to avoid discussing whatever happened.
Jisoo wants to stop him and ask more, but Seokjin is already back on topic and she sadly lets it go.
Hoseok’s office is small and cramped, shared with two other assistant professors. His desk is the closest to the door, piled high with books and papers and a large collection of albums. Seokjin can see Hoseok’s dark hair peekings up from behind a ridiculously high stack of books that somehow manages to be neatly piled despite its mass of volumes. He glances around the room, relieved Hoseok’s officemates are absent.
He knocks on the door, stepping in as Namjoon trails behind him. “Knock, knock,” he greets.
Hoseok peeks around the stack, round glasses perched on his nose. “Oh!” He blinks in surprise when he spots Namjoon. “Your Royal Highness,” he says, stepping out from around his desk. “Please, come in, sit down.” He hurriedly uncovers two chairs by his desk, stacking papers together and holding them to his chest.
“Oh, please don’t call me that,” Namjoon says, smiling. “Namjoon is fine.”
Hoseok frowns, pausing as he surveys Namjoon. “I’m not sure I can do that. You’re kind of a prince.”
Seokjin slides into a newly discovered chair and shrugs casually. “You’re a professor. Should we call you Professor Jung?”
“Assistant professor,” Hoseok corrects.
“Assistant Professor Hoseok-ssi?” Namjoon says, smiling.
Hoseok glances at Namjoon and laughs, his eyes bright with amusement. “That sounds ridiculous.”
Namjoon’s smile widens. “I know.” He holds his hand out to Hoseok. “Let’s drop the titles. At least privately. Deal?”
Hoseok’s gaze drops to Namjoon’s hand before flickering back up to his eyes. “Deal,” he says, smiling widely and taking Namjoon’s hand in his.
Seokjin notes with amusement that their hands seem to linger a bit longer in the shake than absolutely necessary.
Hoseok finally steps back from Namjoon and gestures to the other newly uncovered chair. “Please, sit. What brings you here?”
“We came to pick up the report you did for us,” Seokjin says, watching as Hoseok reorganizes the papers he took from the chairs, placing them on his desk in deliberate piles.
“Us?” Hoseok asks, glancing up.
Seokjin nods to Namjoon. “Namjoon commissioned the festival. It’s his passion project.”
Hoseok’s eyebrows raise and his eye light with interest. “Really?”
“You’re surprised?” Namjoon asks, frowning.
“No, just. K-pop tends to have a reputation of being less culturally significant than the other arts,” Hoseok explains. He smiles. “It’s nice to see it recognized.”
“It’s an important part of our evolving culture,” Namjoon says, smiling sheepishly. “I have to admit, I read your papers on the Hallyu wave and I really enjoyed the perspective. Especially the part about dismantling international borders.”
Hoseok’s eyes widen and he leans forward into Namjoon’s space, far closer than appropriate. “Right, because this third wave has the advantage of social media and the unprecedented -” He stops short and laughs shyly, abashed. “Sorry. Never ask an academic about his subject. We’ll never shut up.”
“I don’t mind,” Namjoon blurts out, eyes completely focused on Hoseok, sweetly fond and moony. “Ah.” He colors a bit at his declaration. “I mean, I like to hear you talk.” He presses his lips together and rubs the back of his neck, digging himself further into embarrassment. “About K-pop,” he amends.
Seokjin tries valiantly to keep a straight face.
“I’d love to tell you anything you’d like to know,” Hoseok says eagerly. “About K-pop,” he adds, smiling.
Namjoon’s dimple flashes and Seokjin’s eyebrows arch when he sees Hoseok’s eyes lose focus momentarily, his mouth parting. He smiles smugly to himself. Namjoon’s dimples are lethal to the unprepared.
“How about now?” Seokjin suggests.
Namjoon and Hoseok send him a confused look and Seokjin smiles at them.
“Namjoon-ah, you have some time now, right?”
“Ah,” Namjoon blinks at Seokjin. “Yeah, yes.”
Seokjin glances at Hoseok. “Have you eaten lunch yet?”
“No, no, not yet,” Hoseok answers, brow furrowed as he glances back to Namjoon.
“Great!” Seokjin claps his hands together and stands. “You two go to lunch. You can discuss the Hallyu wave, your favorite colors, dreams for the future.” He passes Namjoon and squeezes his shoulder encouragingly. “I’ve got a meeting to get to.”
“Wait, hyung,” Namjoon starts but Seokjin is already out of the door, shutting it closed behind him. He smiles and nods to himself. Another job well done, Seokjinnie, he thinks.
That does not, however, mean there are no more problems that arise after. And the first major hiccup in the road to love for the crown prince and his future groom presents itself exactly four weeks later.
"It's just hard, you know," Namjoon tells Seokjin over the phone. "We can't really see each other in person. There's cameras everywhere and I don't want to put Hoseok through that."
Seokjin hums in acknowledgement, folding his leg under him as he shifts on the couch. He secures his phone between his cheek and his shoulder and uses his freed hands to close the report he's been reading. He's given up the lie that he's going to complete the monstrous document tonight. "You can't meet up somewhere inconspicuous, or a place where the owners are mindful of the press? Club 21 has always been good to you."
"The risk is too high," Namjoon sighs, tone sadly resigned. "One bad quality picture of me and Hoseok alone at a table will break the whole thing open."
"Oh!" Seokjin's eyes widen and he straightens on the sofa as another brilliant idea occurs to him. "What if you were with a group of people? It would just be you hanging out with your platonic friends."
"No offense, but when the group gets together, it's a bit too chaotic to be considered romantic."
Seokjin makes a face. "Not the whole group. Just two. Me and...." He trails off, working his way mentally through his contact list. Too many acquaintances, not enough friends he trusts to keep Namjoon's love life a secret.
"And?" Namjoon prompts.
Seokjin's eyes scan his coffee table, thinking. "And Yoongi," he blurts out, his tongue overriding his thought process. He frowns and tilts his head. Yoongi could work. He's intensely loyal to Namjoon. He's known to be Namjoon's close friend, so the media would think nothing of his presence. Seokjin's head tilts the other way. He just isn't quite sure Yoongi will agree.
"Yoongi-hyung?" Namjoon repeats, surprised.
"Yes, Yoongi," Seokjin confirms, committing to his suggestion. "I could bring Jungkook if you'd like."
"Are you going to challenge him to a fist fight?" Namjoon asks warily.
Namjoon laughs. "Better bring Yoongi-hyung."
"I'll arrange it, just get Hoseok to meet us at Club 21 tomorrow night, okay?"
"Hyung," Namjoon says softly. "Thank you. I really appreciate it."
Seokjin sniffs loudly. "It's nothing. I'm hanging up now."
He disconnects the call before Namjoon can reply back. He scrolls through his phone contact list until he reaches Yoongi's name and frowns, swallowing a sigh. He got his own self into this.
It's not that he doesn't want to call Yoongi, it's just that he doesn't want to call Yoongi.
They have an awkward, strange, stilted kind of relationship. No, Seokjin couldn't go so far as to say it's a relationship. An existence, more like. A strange kind of existence where they're both so out of step with the other that even their corrective footwork shifts them further apart. They're playing a game of rock, paper, scissors and neither one of them knows whether to release their hand on scissors or go.
Which is a shame, because Seokjin quite likes Yoongi. He's loyal, and talented, and smart. He's kind, and generous if a little shy about it, and he has the most lovely eyes. Deep brown that almost shimmers in the right lighting, eyes that can see so much, that almost seem to reach out and touch Seokjin when they linger on him for a moment too long. Really just. The loveliest eyes.
Seokjin clears his throat and shifts, his face suddenly warm. He brings his thoughts back in line. Yes, so. Yoongi is a very good friend, just not Seokjin's friend. Which is fine with Seokjin. He doesn't have to be everyone's friend. He's perfectly fine in this awkward existence with Yoongi. So perfectly fine that calling him right now will be absolutely not a problem, and he will have absolutely no butterflies in his stomach when Yoongi picks up. Absolutely.
He nods to himself and presses his thumb on Yoongi's name in his phone, dialling his number.
It rings, and rings, and rings, and Seokjin is starting to think he'll have to get Jungkook to call Yoongi to call him again in a ridiculous game of actual telephone, until the ringing stops and Yoongi's voice answers.
"Seokjin....ssi?" he says hesitantly, tacking on the ssi at the end as if unsure.
Seokjin rolls his eyes. It's not that weird to call Yoongi. He has before. They're something adjacent to friends. "Hey," he says, keeping his voice cheerful and friendly. He refuses to let this descend into awkwardness again.
"Hi," Yoongi says, monotone.
Seokjin frowns. He really hates phone conversations. It's a lot easier when he can read the disinterest on Yoongi's face rather than try to decipher it blindly. "How are you?" he asks.
"Fine." A pause. Seokjin's lips purse and his feet tap restless against his coffee table, nerves building in the silence. "You?" Yoongi finally says.
"I'm great, thanks for asking."
Seokjin swallows a sigh. He failed. This got awkward. Again. And those stupid butterflies appeared in his stomach. Again. Nothing for it but to push through, he tells himself. "Are you free tomorrow night?" There's a strange clattering sound from the other end and Seokjin straightens, concerned. "Are you okay, Yoongi?"
"Yeah, no, fine, good, I'm." Yoongi clears his throat. "Sorry, what were you saying?"
"Hmm.” Seokjin frowns but continues with his task. “You know how Namjoon's been dating Hoseok."
"Yeah?" Yoongi says.
"And it's hard for them to go out together because of the paparazzi."
"Uh, yeah, I guess," Yoongi says, voice dipping into confusion.
"I thought if he went out with a group, he could see Hoseok without worrying. We're going to Club 21 tomorrow night."
"Oh." Yoongi is silent for a moment. "Like chaperones?"
"Bad chaperones," Seokjin says, smiling. "We look the other way when they hold hands and whisper sweet nothings to each other."
"Who else is coming?"
"Namjoon. Hoseok. Me." Seokjin licks his lips and says as casually as he can, "And you, hopefully."
"Just the four of us?" Yoongi asks, mildly surprised.
"Anymore and it will be hard for Namjoon and Hoseok to have a moment. Is that a problem?"
"No, just." Yoongi doesn't finish his sentence, the incomplete thought hanging in the silence. "Sure," he finally says.
Seokjin grins. "Excellent. Operation BT21 is a go."
"What is Operation BT21?" Yoongi asks, and if Seokjin didn't know any better, he would think Yoongi was trying to keep himself from laughing.
"Operation Boyfriends Together at Club 21," Seokjin answers proudly.
"Shouldn't it be BTaC21?" Yoongi asks.
"I'm not taking feedback on my operation titles. Just meet us there at eight tomorrow. I'm hanging up."
Yoongi hums in acknowledgement and Seokjin disconnects the call. He lets out a long breath, trying to dispel the jitters. That wasn't so bad.
He rubs the back of his hand against his cheek, trying to coax the smile stuck on there back into a neutral expression.
Not so bad.
There really must be something going wrong in Seokjin, his head overloaded with dim lighting and music and the encroaching air of the club pressing against him. Because Yoongi, in his bucket hat that hides his eyes and mask that hides his lips and nose, only a small speck of skin visible, that Yoongi. That Yoongi looks really cute to Seokjin’s eyes.
He shakes his shoulders, physically trying to reset.
“Oh, hyung! Hi!” Hoseok notices him and waves him over, smiling widely.
Seokjin returns his smile and walks the last few steps to the booth, sliding in on Yoongi’s side to leave the spot next to Hoseok empty for Namjoon. Yoongi tries to shift further into the middle of the semi-circle to give Seokjin more room. Seokjin quickly reaches a hand over and lightly touches his fingers to Yoongi’s arm, subtly shaking his head no. Yoongi freezes, head tilting up to blink at Seokjin.
Seokjin shifts his gaze away before he starts malfunctioning again and starts thinking the shape of Yoongi’s eyes are almost cat-like. He leans on the table, looking past Yoongi to Hoseok, and smiles. “Hey.”
Hoseok leans onto the table as well. “I wanted to thank you for setting this up for me and Namjoonie,” he says loud enough to be heard over the speakers.
Seokjin’s smile widens at hearing Namjoonie. He shrugs. “It’s no big deal. Yoongi and I are happy to help.”
“We’re also happy to drink, so it’s a win-win,” Yoongi adds cheerfully.
Seokjin looks back at Yoongi, his eyes lingering a little too long so that he starts wondering if the shade of Yoongi’s are more espresso or tree bark. A warmth in Seokjin’s chest spreads up his neck. Thankfully, Namjoon appears, sliding into the booth beside Hoseok, and Seokjin doesn’t have to think about Yoongi’s eyes anymore.
They say their greetings and order drinks. After a brief conversation about the recent events in their lives, Seokjin has pity on Namjoon and his moon eyes focused only on Hoseok. He clears his throat and leans back in the booth, reaching out to tap on Yoongi’s hand lightly, gaining his attention.
Yoongi looks at him, eyes blank, face still hidden under his mask.
Seokjin smiles charmingly. “So. How’s work?” he asks, settling on the most impersonal and easiest topic he can imagine.
Yoongi blinks once. Twice. Then says, “Fine.”
Seokjin makes a face. “You’ll have to do better than that.”
Yoongi’s brows furrow under his bucket hat. The effect is more adorable than Seokjin would like to admit. “Better how?”
Seokjin gestures at Namjoon and Hoseok behind Yoongi’s shoulder. “We’re here to help them have a bit of couple-time. We’re not supposed to look like two lovers - “ Yoongi coughs but Seokjin ignores him - “and their bodyguards.”
Yoongi points to himself. “We’re the bodyguards?”
“We’re not supposed to look like that.” He slaps his hands on the table. “Have an actual conversation with me. Essay length answers.”
Yoongi snorts. “You want a thesis, too?”
“And four supporting follow-up statements,” Seokjin declares, taking the bait and running with it, silently daring Yoongi to follow him.
Yoongi’s head tilts. “Four follow-up statements?” He sounds amused and Seokjin grins in response.
“With a conclusion?”
Yoongi snickers and shifts to face Seokjin more directly. His fingers reach up to tug his black mask down around his chin, his lips spread in a smirk. “Okay, go. But it has to be essay questions!” he adds suddenly. “Something I can answer.”
Seokjin scoffs. “Trust me, I have plenty of good questions.”
Yoongi shrugs and gestures with his hand for Seokjin to go on with it already.
Seokjin takes a moment to consider Yoongi before he takes a breath. He discards the questions hovering around his mind, easy ones like hobbies and favorite vacation spots. He leans forward, eyes locking with Yoongi’s, and says, “I’ve been curious for a while. When you started your company, you used to design commercial buildings. You only do residential designs now. Why?”
Yoongi’s eyes widen slightly, surprised.
“Too intimate?” Seokjin asks, suddenly concerned he overstepped a boundary.
“No, no,” Yooni says, shaking his head. “Just a little unexpected. No one really asks it like that.”
“How do they ask?”
Yoongi frowns. “They don’t ask. They tell me I should go back to commercial designs. No one thinks that it was a conscious decision.”
Seokjin’s brow furrows. “Of course it was a conscious decision. You don’t do anything you don’t want to.”
Yoongi’s lips melt into a small almost-smile. He glances down at his hands. “Yeah. I didn’t expect you to know that.”
“So, why?” Seokjin prompts.
“I like residential better.”
“Fair thesis. Explain.”
Yoongi’s lips twitch and widen, his smile fighting to be seen. Seokjin wants to tell Yoongi’s lips that it’s okay, they don’t have to go through the effort. The bright light in Yoongi’s eyes is more than enough, overwhelming Seokjin’s chest, overheating his neck. He isn’t confident that he’ll survive the flash of gums and teeth that Yoongi sometimes bestows on others, directed solely on him.
“Residences are personal,” Yoongi says, heedless of the spin of Seokjin’s thoughts. “Commercial structures have committees, and brands. Reputations to uphold.” He waves one hand up and down in front of his face. “A veneer to be compared, a competition of glass and metal and form.” Yoongi tilts his head, his fingers idly tapping at the space just above his lips. It’s not necessary, Seokjin wants to tell those fingers. The visual stimulation is a bit too much, his gaze torn between fingers and lips and then slowly drawn back to the light in Yoongi’s eyes, the inevitability of gravity.
“With residential buildings,” Yoongi continues, lips softening to a dreamy sort of curve, “it’s personal. A family, a dream. The tastes, the imaginations of an individual reflected in wood and stone.” He shrugs. “I like creating that, much more than any corporate stronghold.”
“I see,” Seokjin says, softly mirroring Yoongi’s smile. Yoongi’s answer confirms everything he’s already known about his character. Bright, strong-willed, thoughtful, intensely creative. Min Yoongi, he thinks, is a rare kind of man.
“Did I elaborate enough?” Yoongi asks, and Seokjin almost thinks Yoongi is teasing him.
He nods. “Yes, very satisfactory.”
“My turn,” Yoongi says, wiggling in the booth to move undetectably closer to Seokjin.
“Who said you get a turn?” Seokjin demands.
“Quid pro quo,” Yoongi counters, arching his brow.
“I never agreed to that.”
“It’s implied.” Yoongi leans his elbow on the table and glances up at Seokjin, his eyelashes casting a shadow-smudge along on his waterline. “Tell me, is there anything that actually embarrasses you?”
Part of Seokjin wants to protest some more, remind Yoongi that he’s the one in control here, both as the eldest and as the mastermind of this entire operation. But a larger part of him, the bigger part, the majority of him - three quarters of his chest, eighty percent of his legs and arms, all of his stomach and the longest portion of his tongue - wants to answer, wants to share. Wants to lay a foundational piece that might one day be a bridge that connects him to Yoongi.
“It’s not that I don’t get embarrassed,” he says. “I just don’t let it stop me. I commit once I start something.”
Yoongi purses his lips, considering. “What if you haven’t started it yet? Do you still push through, or let your own head talk you out of it?”
Seokjin frowns. “Ahh,” he breathes out. “That’s a tough one. I guess it depends on the context. Sometimes, I guess. Not even I should go through with all my ideas.” He smiles slyly. “They’re wild,” he says, laughing at himself.
“Tell me one,” Yoongi says, lips quirking into a lop-sided smile, bright eyes focused on Seokjin.
Seokjin is grateful for the deep purple lights that cover the redness of his ears. “Hmm.” He pretends to think for a moment. “Okay. You know how I always get photographed when I go to the airport?”
Yoongi sneers. “Same.”
“We are semi-famous.”
“We were born into very specific families. I don’t think that’s worthy of media attention.”
“Yes, but it’s a reality. And I was going to use that to my advantage.”
Interest flashes in Yoongi’s eyes and he tips even closer to Seokjin. They’re close enough now that Seokjin can smell the pine of his cologne, a sharp, intense scent that tastes like how Yoongi looks. Seokjin idly wonders if the skin of his neck tastes sharply of pine.
“How?” Yoongi prompts.
Seokjin blinks, eyes widening for a split second when he thinks Yoongi read his mind. He remembers their conversation and clears his throat, hoping to clear his mind from the haze of Yoongi. “I was going to wear a hanbok to my next flight. Promote the culture, give a little show.”
Yoongi’s lips stretch into a full, beautiful smile, gums and pearly teeth and delight. It’s precious, Seokjin thinks. It’s precious to be the recipient of that smile. “You should do it.”
Seokjin snorts. “I was going to, but I thought it might be too much.”
“No, do it. I want to see it.”
“Are you encouraging my shenanigans?” Seokjin asks, amused and warm.
“Absolutely.” Yoongi’s head leans onto his hand, squishing his cheek cutely. “You need to.”
“Okay, deal,” Seokjin agrees readily because he doesn’t want to say no.
“Thank you, I know,” Seokjin responds, grinning at her. Beside him, Yoongi laughs silently, a wide smile flashing across his face as he averts his eyes from Seokjin. “Oh.” Seokjin frowns and reaches into his pant pocket, pulling out his cell phone.
Jisoo can hear it vibrating, indicating a call. “Oh, answer it. Go ahead, we can take a break.”
Seokjin smiles at her apologetically. “I’m sorry. I do need to take this.” He pats Yoongi’s knee as he stands. “You take over for a bit.” He winks at Yoongi. “And don’t leave out any parts where I’m very handsome.”
Yoongi scoffs and watches Seokjin leave. Once the door closes behind Seokjin, he flicks his gaze to Jisoo. He motions to her phone recording them on the table. “Turn that off for a second.”
Jisoo jolts, diving for her phone and pausing the recording. She looks up with wide eyes at Yoongi, curiosity drumming through her fingers. “It’s off.”
“This is strictly off the record,” he tells her, leaning closer.
“Of course,” she breathes. “I’ll take it to my grave.”
He smiles. “Hyung is very handsome all the time.”
Jisoo blinks. That’s not exactly a secret, she thinks, but Yoongi is already leaning back against the cushions, content with his disclosure.
“Seokjin and I were chaperones five, maybe six more times after that,” Yoongi continues. Jisoo hurriedly hits the record button on her phone again, fingers fumbling in her haste. “But we all got a little too comfortable. A little too careless. That’s when the Incident happened.”
Seokjin makes a face, brows furrowed, disapproval evident in the pinched pout of his lips. Yoongi kind of has the urge to reach out and tap his finger on them, and immediately decides perhaps he has had enough to drink tonight. "Yoongi, no," Seokjin says, slinking forward so Yoongi can hear the whine in his voice over the EDM thumping off the speakers, rattling the floor. "You didn't even experience the city."
Yoongi shrugs and sets his glass down, safely away from his mouth before he gets any other silly imaginations. "I've seen the tourist things before with my family. And I had work to do."
"You'll always have work to do." Seokjin shakes his head. "And okay, fine, I don't do the tourist spots either. But when you go abroad, you need to feel the city." He straightens in his chair and makes a big show of inhaling deeply, his elbows pulling back and fist clenched as he mimics the air flowing into his lungs. "Breathe in the smells, taste the food. Walk around, get lost, feed ducks."
Yoongi lulls his head to the side, laughing. "What if I can't find any ducks?"
"Feed the kangaroos, then."
He snorts. "Is that what you did in Australia?"
"Yes, they were everywhere. Followed me down the street." Seokjin nods seriously, daring Yoongi to challenge his statement.
Yoongi smirks. "Maybe you shouldn't have fed them."
Seokjin erupts into laughter, smacking back against his chair and clapping, delighted.
Warmth floods Yoongi's cheeks and he reaches for his drink, an urgent need to cool down winning out over the potential for silly thoughts. Besides, he's already had another dumb thought all on his own without the alcohol.
He thought that making Seokjin laugh is one of his favorite things.
Seokjin doesn't seem to notice Yoongi's moment of panic – not panic, no, it's not that big of a deal. Yoongi's moment of weird tipsy thoughts. Yes. Seokjin doesn't seem to notice that, his eyes casting over to Hoseok and Namjoon on the other side of the table from them. A frown dips his lips down, his eyes narrowing, brow creasing.
Yoongi swallows his drink. He doesn't like whatever this is, this worry etching into Seokjin's vibrant face.
"What's wrong?" he asks, setting his glass down again, turning his head to look in the direction of Seokjin's gaze.
Yoongi pauses when he sees Namjoon, limbs stiff, brow lowered in concern, eyes moving quickly as if he’s chasing his thoughts. He has his phone pressed close to his ear, engaged in a troubling conversation that Yoongi cannot hear. Hoseok’s lips are downturned, worry and upset draining the usual cheer from his face. He has one hand resting lightly on Namjoon’s shoulder, silently supportive.
“What’s going on?” Yoongi asks, pulling away from the comfort of Seokjin’s proximity within his personal space.
Hoseok flicks his eyes to Yoongi, his frown deepening into a siot. “Someone’s found us.”
“That should be okay, though.” Seokjin gestures to Yoongi. “That’s why we’re here.”
Hoseok sighs and grabs his phone. He unlocks the screen and swipes before pushing it over to them. Slowly, Yoongi takes the phone and holds it up so that Seokjin can see. The number one Naver trend is “Prince Namjoon’s boyfriend”.
“How -” Yoongi starts.
“It’s on Twitter, too. And Weibo, apparently,” Hoseok explains. “It’s all the same. Prince Namjoon is out with his boyfriend. There’s apparently a whole swarm of media outside.” He curls his lips. “Like Namjoon is some public artifact that can be examined anytime, anywhere.”
“It’s not Namjoon we’re concerned about right now,” Yoongi says, handing the phone back to Hoseok.
Hoseok’s jaw tightens. “That’s the problem, isn’t it? When is he allowed to say no to the media? When is he allowed to be a person?”
Yoongi blinks, surprised and relieved at the fierce protectiveness in Hoseok’s voice. He thinks his gut was right about Hoseok. This is a man who can be with Namjoon. As equals, loving, caring, protecting when Namjoon is so used to carrying the burdens of the crown all on his own.
“We can discuss the injustice of public life later,” Seokjin says, leaning around Yoongi towards Hoseok. “Have any pictures of you been leaked yet?”
Hoseok’s lips twist but he shakes his head. “Not that I’ve seen.”
Seokjin sighs in relief and leans back again. “Good, okay. I can work with that.”
“It doesn’t matter. As soon as we leave this room, we’ll be photographed.”
“They won’t be able to get a clear shot. As long as -” Seokjin pauses and looks at Yoongi, smiling charmingly.
Yoongi purses his lips. “What?”
“We’ll need your hat and mask.”
“Done,” Yoongi agrees readily, taking the items off and handing them over to Hoseok.
“Probably change jackets, too,” Seokjin says, tilting his head to appraise Yoongi’s large, nondescript black coat.
“Fine,” Yoongi agrees again, wondering why there’s still a wary hesitation in Seokjin’s eyes.
“Even if I get out, they’ll still follow me,” Hoseok says, shrugging on Yoongi’s coat.
“About that,” Seokjin starts, breaking off when Namjoon finishes his call.
Namjoon runs a hand through his hair, sighing loudly. “Hoseok, I’m so sorry,” he says, contrite. “My security team says it was one of the staff members who leaked the information.”
Hoseok wraps an arm around Namjoon’s back and pats soothingly. “It’s not your fault. It was inevitable. Maybe we should just face it.”
“Not like this,” Seokjin protests, shaking his head. “Look, we’ll cover Hoseok up with Yoongi’s” - he waves his hand at the bucket hat on Hoseok’s head - “fashion. He’ll slip out to a car two blocks away and it’s all good.”
“How is he supposed to slip out?” Namjoon asks. “There’s thirty photographers out there waiting for anyone to leave.”
“We distract them,” Seokjin says, smiling as if that will help convince them.
Yoongi’s eyes narrow. “Distract, how?”
“We give them a juicy story.” Seokjin’s smile widens and Yoongi’s stomach lurches.
No need to panic, he tells himself. It can’t be that bad.
He curls his fingers into a fist and hovers behind Seokjin as they wait by the door of their private room. From this distance he can almost feel the heat from Seokjin’s broad back. His eyes sweep from his wide shoulders to the sharp curve at his waist where his oversized sweater pools, soft fabric folding and veiling and making a fuss. His thumb twitches against his index finger as he resists the urge to hold Seokjin there, and find out just what the fabric is hiding.
This is such a bad idea.
“I could punch you,” Yoongi suggests.
“No,” Seokjin dismisses immediately, not even turning to look at Yoongi.
“Why not? You’d let Jungkookie punch you,” Yoongi counters stubbornly.
“I’d let Jungkook try,” Seokjin says ominously, turning around with his hands up in a fighting stance. “He couldn’t get through these stellar defenses.”
Despite his predicament, Yoongi’s lips tug into a smile.
Seokjin lowers his hands. “You’re not punching me.”
“You could punch me,” Yoongi offers.
“Why would you rather get hit than kissed?” Seokjin asks, exasperated. “Don’t worry. I’m a very good kisser.”
Yoongi makes a face. That is exactly the problem. Kim Seokjin is going to be an incredible kisser with his incredible plump lips and his incredible hidden waist and Yoongi already has enough stupid thoughts to occupy his mind. He doesn’t need the memory of kissing the most attractive man in Korea to knock around in there as well.
“The car is ready,” Namjoon announces and Yoongi’s heart leaps into his throat. No going back now.
Seokjin moves as if to reach out to Yoongi, his hand extending before he retracts it back to his side. Yoongi frowns, his eyes flickering to Seokjin's. "Yoongi, if you're uncomfortable, you don't have to kiss me. I can get someone else."
Yoongi's frown deepens. He doesn't like that idea at all. "Who would you get to kiss you in front of thirty cameras?"
Seokjin smiles. "Absolutely anyone in this club."
He scoffs and doesn't admit to himself that Seokjin is right. It's not hard to find a willing participant. "I'll do it," he says, glancing over to Namjoon and Hoseok. Namjoon squeezes Hoseok's hand and leans in to whisper something into his ear. Whatever it is, Hoseok must find it reassuring, because he smiles and tilts his head up to give Namjoon a quick kiss on his cheek. Yoongi looks back to Seokjin. "It's for a good cause," he concedes.
Seokjin hums in approval. "Ready?" he asks.
Yoongi takes one quick breath into his lungs and nods. "Ready."
It's a lie, but he won't be any more ready in ten minutes, or ten years, so he might as well get this over with.
Seokjin opens the door and immediately slings his arm around Yoongi's shoulders, leaning his weight into Yoongi and tucking his head into the crook of Yoongi's neck and shoulder, not quite touching but hovering, drifting, almost. "Yoongichi," he whines, affecting a slur in his voice.
Yoongi would be impressed with Seokjin's acting skills if he wasn't so busy panicking. Seokjin's breath is hot on the skin of his neck. Seokjin's fingers are teasingly gentle on Yoongi's shoulder, sending sparks of interest through Yoongi's blood. Seokjin's voice is syrupy-sweet in his ear, dripping like melted sugar all the way to Yoongi's chest and his heart that beats too fast, too strong.
"Yoongichi," Seokjin repeats, "come on."
Seokjin urges Yoongi forward and somehow he manages to put one foot in front of the other, shuffling in a pretend-drunk wobble to the club entrance. He hears Hoseok slip out of the room after them, following a few steps behind as they had planned. And that's the last thought Yoongi has of Hoseok, because Seokjin presses his nose into Yoongi's neck and his mind blanks.
Seokjin's nose is cool, sending a chill across Yoongi's skin, goosebumps coursing like a rushing river down his arms, his spine, his legs. Yoongi's hand comes up to Seokjin's waist on instinct, his fingers clenching in the fabric, twisting for a better grip. He's not sure if he's trying to stay standing or tumble Seokjin down with him. His knuckles skim against the outline of Seokjin's back, firm, slim, in a delectable curve Yoongi wants to follow.
They make their way through the club, gaining attention from the patrons as they stumble through. There's a growing murmur around them as an undertone to the music thumping through the space. They reach the entrance and Seokjin's arm eases from Yoongi's shoulder, his hand trailing down the side of Yoongi's chest to rest softly on his hip.
Seokjin lifts his head slightly, whispering for Yoongi only to hear, "Okay?"
Yoongi nods minutely, swallowing around his heart in his throat. "Okay."
"Showtime," Seokjin breathes as he pulls back. His eyes lock with Yoongi's, and for a moment Yoongi wonders what kind of gem they are, reflecting the hues of the dim lights so brightly. A spark of sapphire, a glimmer of gold. Yoongi's breath slows to a stop in his lungs, a gradual easement, emptying, waiting. Seokjin smiles reassuringly before he raises both his hands to Yoongi's face, sliding his fingers across the too-warm surface of his cheeks.
Soft, Yoongi's mind offers. Exquisite, his heart corrects, the pads of Seokjin's fingertips smooth and deliberately feathery as they elongate into Yoongi's hair, curling around his ear. Seokjin's thumb caresses Yoongi's cheek up, down, up again, and then.
In a fell swoop, Seokjin bends, closing the distance between them, his lips sliding against Yoongi's, enveloping.
Yoongi inhales sharply, suddenly desperate for something, oxygen or Seokjin, he cannot decipher which. His hands grasp onto Seokjin's waist, his hip, fingers finding the band of his pants and tugging. They crash together, the momentum hurtling them through the club doors and outside. Their feet scuffle against the pavement roughly, dragging them to a halt.
Yoongi's eyes close but there's an explosion of light behind his lids that he doesn't understand. Later, he will know it's the flash of the photographers, and the rumble that thumps from his feet to the very top of his head is the burst of reporters yelling, demanding a story, a picture, an explanation.
It certainly can't be the firm press of Seokjin's lips against his, can't be Seokjin's breath exhaling into his mouth, can't be the shudder in Seokjin's chest when Yoongi angles his head, deepening the kiss. It can't be Seokjin's fingers tightening in Yoongi's hair, nails scraping lightly against his scalp. Those are all make-pretend, an act, a scheme.
It isn't supposed to affect him.
He parts his mouth and catches Seokjin's upper lip between his, nipping, tugging gently, swallowing down the whining sound he draws from Seokjin.
It's as real as a particularly vivid dream. And when they part, it will fade, reality shaking any remnants from his memory. So for just a little longer, he decides, he will linger.
He steps closer, rising on his toes to press up into Seokjin.
Yes. He will linger just a little more.
Yoongi clears his throat, uncomfortable.
“What, are you two even together now?” Jisoo asks, her eyes widening as the entire foundation of her world shakes. Everything is a lie.
“Of course we’re together. We just started dating later.”
Jisoo’s eyes narrow. “How much later?”
“You’ll know if you let me continue.”
Jisoo leans her elbow on her crossed legs and places her head in her hand. “Go on.”
Yoongi frowns as he holds his phone above his head, settled comfortably in his bed, scrolling through Twitter. There’s a lot of old photos of him and Seokjin at public events. Photos where he’s looking at Seokjin with what netizens are calling “pining”. He sniffs. Amazing, the lies they can make up. He’s never pined for Seokjin.
There’s nothing to pine for. They are just -
He purses his lips. He doesn’t know what they are anymore. They used to be friends of friends, acquaintances that maintained their distances with dedication. But that was all before Operation BT21.
His lips twitch into a smile as he recalls Seokjin’s fondness for naming their exploits. It’s cute.
So they’re not acquaintances anymore, but he doesn’t know if they’re quite friends yet. Do friends fake make-out in front of thirty photographers to help their other friends escape?
Partners in crime would, Yoongi decides, nodding to himself. That is exactly what they are.
Content, he continues scrolling through the trending tags.
It’s odd, looking at photos of him mid-kiss. The lighting is harsh, a sharp contrast of night shadows and the white light of a dozen camera flashes. He frowns as he stops on one photo in particular. He doesn’t remember plastering himself that tightly against Seokjin. It must be the angle.
He remembers Seokjin’s soft lips sinking against his, and the feathering of Seokjin’s fingers against the shell of Yoongi’s ear. He remembers the strangling moan from Seokjin’s throat.
Heat flushes down Yoongi’s body. Yes, well. Pretend moan, he supposes.
A message notification thankfully flashes on his phone, drawing away Yoongi’s attention. It’s Hoseok, finally responding to Yoongi’s query if he made it back safely.
Yeah, it’s fine. No one followed me. Thank you so much :3
Yoongi chuckles at the emoji. Cute.
I’m glad, he types back.
I had a long talk with Namjoon. We’re going to go public. We agreed it’s time, and then we won’t have any more emergencies like tonight, Hoseok continues.
Yoongi smiles, relieved that things seem to be working out so well for Namjoon and Hoseok’s relationship. They deserve to be happy.
Thank you so much for the last few weeks, Hoseok sends. You can have your nights free now. No more need to chaperone :3 I’ll buy you a drink sometime to repay the favor.
Yoongi’s fingers falter on his phone, realization settling heavy and cold in his stomach. That’s right. Once Namjoon and Hoseok’s relationship is public, they’ll no longer need chaperones. And his weekly nights out with them - with Seokjin - will end.
Sure, Yoongi texts back dully, a frown etched into his lips.
It’s a good thing, he supposes, locking his phone and throwing it onto his nightstand. He turns over in bed, curling onto his side, his hands sliding under his head.
He prefers to stay at home anyway. It’s a relief, he insists.
And maybe he’ll believe himself in the morning.
“Nothing about this story is sad,” Seokjin says, stepping back into the room, shutting the door behind him.
Jisoo doesn’t know if he notices, but Yoongi’s eyes immediately track to Seokjin, a smile blooming on his lips. At least this is real now, she assures herself. This - Seokjin and Yoongi - no one could pretend that well.
“Yoongi, what are you telling her?” Seokjin mildly scolds, settling back beside his boyfriend.
Yoongi slings his arm on the back of the couch, fingers curving down to rest on the back of Seokjin’s neck. “I’m telling her what happened.”
“You’re telling it wrong if it’s sad.” Seokjin shifts further into Yoongi, adjusting under Yoongi’s arm naturally. “What part did you get to?”
“Hoseok and Namjoon went public.”
Seokjin looks at Jisoo, bewildered. “That’s not sad. That’s happy!” He pauses, considering. “Oh. Except for the part where they almost broke up. I guess that could be sad, but we know how that turned out.”
“They broke up?” Jisoo exclaims, far louder than she intended. Her mind races. Absolutely none of her other interviews even hinted at anything like that.
“Almost,” Yoongi corrects.
“Right, almost. Thank you, Yoongi,” Seokjin says, patting Yoongi’s knee.
Yoongi shrugs. “No problem, hyung.”
“When, how?” Jisoo gapes at them, wide eyes pleading for them to explain.
“It’s hard to be in the spotlight so suddenly,” Seokjin says. “For Namjoon, he grew up with it, but Hoseok didn’t. It was a strain on their relationship, especially when the media started coming for Hoseok’s family.”
Yoongi scowls, clearly unhappy at the memory.
“There was obviously a problem.” Seokjin smiles. “And that’s where we came in. To the rescue again.”
Sometimes, I just wonder if I'm being too selfish. Maybe Hoseok would be better off if we broke up, Namjoon had written.
It's not fair. It's not fair, and Seokjin won't stand for it.
He swipes through his phone to his contact list, scrolling, scrolling until he pauses on Min Yoongi's name, his thumb hovering over the entry. He supposes he doesn't need Yoongi to help him form a plan. He can ask Taehyung, or Jungkook. Jimin for sure would eagerly embrace the chance to help Namjoon.
He doesn't need Yoongi. His lips press together. But he wants him.
In a completely platonic friendship kind of way, of course. The only reason he's been replaying their kiss over and over in his head is because he hasn't talked to Yoongi since then. It's like a movie that cuts off before the final scene, a loose thread that makes his thoughts circle back to the last known contact.
That makes perfect sense, he decides. And now, he has an excuse to contact Yoongi and replace the memory of their kiss with something more mundane. Like Yoongi's dry humor when he tells a joke with a blank face, his lips curving into an errant smile if Seokjin laughs. Or Yoongi's eyes, deep brown, a kaleidoscope of unsaid words and cryptic thoughts, always watching, absorbing, memorizing what he sees. Or Yoongi's hands, slim and long, knuckles brushing against Seokjin's waist –
Seokjin coughs and hits his thumb on Yoongi's name in his phone. No more thinking.
The other line rings once before it clicks and Yoongi's voice sounds quickly, "Hi, hey." Yoongi clears his throat and says in a much lower register, "Hello?"
Seokjin blinks, surprised at the swiftness of Yoongi's response. He expected to call about four more times and get to sent to voicemail before he could get Yoongi on the phone. "Hey," he says when he realizes he's been silent for too long. "It's Seokjin."
"I know," Yoongi breathes. "Uh, I mean. I saw your name on the display."
"Right." Seokjin nods despite the knowledge that Yoongi can't see it. "Of course." He lapses into silence, his tongue twisted in his mouth. He's nervous, he realizes with growing horror. He's nervous that he'll say something strange, or awkward, or that Yoongi might not like him, that they might be back to not-friends that tolerate each other and oh no.
He likes Yoongi.
This is exactly the opposite of what he needed to happen. He admired Yoongi, yes. He thought Yoongi was a good person, a brilliant architect, funny and attractive and – damn it, he's liked Yoongi from the beginning. He makes a face at his office window, his reflection translucent and judging him severely.
"How, how are you?" Yoongi ventures, and Seokjin remembers he probably shouldn't be having an internal crisis while on the phone with said crisis.
"I'm fine," he says automatically, too busy attempting to reel in every errant tendril of his heart to elaborate a more substantial answer.
Yoongi huffs out a short laugh. "I thought you had a rule about essay-length answers."
Seokjin smiles, and leans his head against the neck of his chair, the nerves in his stomach easing with the sound of Yoongi's voice. There's still something low in his belly that sends a pleasant sort of thrill up to his chest. "Sometimes I accept multiple choice."
"Alright," Yoongi agrees. "The question is: what's up? A: Nothing much, what are you doing? B: I've decided to buy a ticket on the next space mission and beat Lance Bass to the moon." Seokjin erupts into hiccuping laughter but Yoongi continues, unperturbed. "C: There's an international crisis that only you, Min Yoongi genius jjang jjang man bbong bbong, can solve. Or D." Yoongi pauses, and Seokjin's laughter subsides as he waits, a hand coming up to rub at the tears forming in his eyes from the ridiculousness.
"What's D?" Seokjin prompts, a bubble of laughter still trickling through his tone.
Yoongi clears his throat and finally says, "Agust."
Seokjin smiles. "What's Agust?"
"If you have to ask, you won't understand. So, what's your answer?"
Seokjin tilts his head and considers. "Believe it or not, C."
"C?" Yoongi sounds sceptical. "What's the international crisis?"
"The crown prince of Korea is about to break his own heart," Seokjin says. "And a sad prince is a sad country. Which of course would have terrible international repercussions."
"Is this about Hoseok?" Yoongi asks, the mirth leaving his voice.
Seokjin sighs, crossing his legs at the ankle and swivelling his chair again, soothingly left and right. "Hoseok's having a hard time adjusting to the spotlight and I think Namjoon is going to break up with him."
"Because Namjoon is noble and used to making sacrifices, and probably thinks Hoseok's having a hard time for his sake. It's a mess."
"Have you talked to Hoseok?"
"He's not saying much. They're at a breaking point, Yoongi."
"What are we going to do about it?" Yoongi asks.
Seokjin smiles at the use of "we". They are like partners in crime, he thinks. "That's why I called. I need ideas."
"We can't stop the media from prying into Hoseok's life," Yoongi says, and Seokjin can hear the frown in his voice.
"No, but we can help them put things into perspective. And help them figure out that it's worth it to push through, even if it's hard right now."
"You can't make them decide anything," Yoongi warns.
"We can at least give them a chance," Seokjin reasons.
Yoongi sighs. "So basically, you're thinking they need to get away. Somewhere without a lot of people so they can talk without pressure."
Seokjin brightens and he sits up in his chair. "Exactly that. Where should we send them? Europe? I heard Malta is nice."
"I'm fairly certain Namjoon won't be able to go to Europe unnoticed." Seokjin frowns, but Yoongi continues. "My family has a cabin near Mount Taegi. It's in a secluded area, and as long as they don't go near the resort, they should be fine."
"That sounds perfect. I'll let them know. Maybe next weekend would be good?"
Yoongi hums in agreement. "I'll call someone to get it ready."
"No, don't do that!" Seokjin protests suddenly. "Once you let one person know, everyone will find out and before you know it, Dispatch is hiding in the bushes."
"Hyung, no one has been to the cabin for over a year. It needs to be dusted, aired. There needs to be food in the fridge."
"We'll do it."
"What?" Yoongi asks dumbly.
Seokjin nods, satisfied with his decision. "We'll go up this weekend and get it ready. I'll pick you up at seven on Saturday." He pauses, then adds, in case it needs clarity, "Seven in the morning."
"What if I have plans for Saturday?" Yoongi cuts in.
Seokjin snorts. "Do you?"
Seokjin's eyes narrow. "What plans?"
"Those aren't plans."
"They are to me," Yoongi says, sniffing defiantly.
"You can sleep in the car. I'm hanging up now."
Seokjin disconnects the call and smiles at his reflection in the window, a hum of excitement mixing with those pleasant feelings racing up his spine.
Seokjin isn't certain why he's sure Yoongi's eyes are smiling, but he is, and the knowledge makes his ears warm. He raises the hood of his coat over his head to hide the rising blush and hops out of his SUV to open the trunk for Yoongi. "We're just going for an afternoon, not two months," he teases, moving some things around to make room for the box.
"These are supplies," Yoongi says, panting as he manages to set the box into the trunk. He's not wearing a face mask today, his cute nose and pink lips on full display. It occurs to Seokjin that this is the first time he's seen Yoongi since their pretend kiss, that warmth in his ears spreading to his cheeks. He should probably stop staring at Yoongi's lips before it gets awkward.
"Are we building the cabin?" Seokjin asks, bringing his thoughts back to the present.
Yoongi snorts, wiping his hands on his coat. He looks up at Seokjin and his eyes crease, a wider smile. "It's for cleaning. And setting the mood." He walks past Seokjin and around to the passenger's side, opening the door and shuffling inside.
Seokjin tries to peer into the box but Yoongi closed it off neatly. "What's in there to set the mood?" he asks, walking over to the driver's side and slipping inside.
Yoongi shrugs, already buckled in. "Candles, rose petals, fairy lights." He tilts his head to look at Seokjin directly, grinning. "My favorite bath bomb."
Seokjin's lips quirk into a wide smile. "I appreciate the sacrifice you're making."
"Anything for my friends," Yoongi quips, settling into his seat.
Seokjin starts the car and places his hand on the back of Yoongi's seat, glancing over his shoulder to back up. His fingers twitch, the soft tuft of Yoongi's beanie grazing his skin. He swallows slowly. Don't make this awkward, he tells himself. Just because he likes Yoongi doesn't mean he has to make it obvious and disrupt this pleasant sort of camaraderie they have established. Seokjin grips his fingers on the leather of the headrest and ignores the way Yoongi's pale neck shifts, angling against the seat as he re-adjusts his position.
This is going to be a long drive, he realizes.
Seokjin emerges from his car, feeting landing on a cobblestone path that leads to the grand entrance. Yoongi doesn’t wait for him, waddling up to the door and leaving the massive box in the trunk for Seokjin to retrieve.
“Hyung, hurry, it’s cold,” Yoongi shouts, shoulders hunched around his ears, feet tapping one by one in place as he waits by the now open door.
Yoongi could just go in, Seokjin thinks as he hefts the box of supplies out of the trunk. He smiles at Yoongi’s strange and nearly contradictory sense of courtesy.
Seokjin cranes his neck as he approaches, admiring the work of the tall overhanging entranceway. “This is a very nice cabin,” he says, pushing past Yoongi into the foyer.
Yoongi slams the door firmly closed behind them and toes off his shoes. “Thanks. It’s my design.”
“You designed this?” Seokjin nearly yells, the box slipping from his hands onto the floor.
Yoongi frowns. “Yes. Right after I graduated.”
“It’s beautiful,” Seokjin declares, glancing around. His eyes finally land back on Yoongi, a large smile on the other’s lips, teeth and gums showing, eyes creased and sparking with pride and happiness. Seokjin’s heart does a double tap-tap against his chest, like it’s trying to find the opening in his ribs, like it wants to escape and pin itself onto Yoongi’s sweater.
“Thank you,” Yoongi says, shyly looking away. He bends to take the box and shuffles further into the cabin. “Come on, we have a lot of work to do.”
Seokjin remains in the foyer for a long moment, inhaling in a shuddering kind of uneven breath. It’s not a simple thing to be on the receiving end of Yoongi’s brilliant smiles.
He rubs his hands on his thighs quickly. He’s good, he’s cool, his heart is still in his chest somehow.
It doesn’t take long to get the cabin back in order. They open all the windows to air it out, vacuum and dust and run the water. They work well together, as if they each know what the other is thinking, switching out tasks with hardly a word of explanation. They really do suit each other, Seokjin thinks.
As morning winds down and the cabin seems to take shape, Yoongi busies himself in the living room, hanging fairy lights and fluffing a soft, plush rug in front of the fireplace. Seokjin raids the linen closet and choses the set of sheets he deems most romantic, dark navy cotton smooth against his fingers. He wanders into the living room, whistling when he sees the set up.
Flower petals are strewn on the floor, white and red and pink shapes mimicking the cobblestone outside. A multitude of throw pillows pile around a fluffed up rug. If Seokjin squints his eyes, he can almost imagine moonlight reflecting off the snow outside, can almost hear the soothing crackle of the fireplace, feel the cozy warmth of its fire.
“Very romantic,” he says approvingly, nodding at Yoongi.
Yoongi scrunches his nose. “It’s not too much?” he asks.
“No, I think they’ll appreciate it.” He holds up the pile of linen in his arms. “Come on, help me change the sheets. Then we can go home.”
“Already?” Yoongi asks, surprised. He pulls the sleeve of his coat up and glances at the large rolex on his wrist. “It’s not even lunch yet.”
“Hmm. We worked fast.” Seokjin starts heading up the stairs to the master bedroom, assured Yoongi will follow him. He sets the sheets on a loveseat once he’s in the bedroom, singing an upbeat song that’s been playing on the radio lately. He unfolds the sheet and starts trying to position it on the bare king-sized bed.
“What song is that?” Yoongi asks, appearing at the doorway, just as Seokjin knew he would.
“Just something I’ve heard on the radio.” He nods to the opposite side of the bed. “Grab that corner.”
Yoongi dutifully pushes past the doorway and bends to grab the opposite side of the sheet. He holds it tight while Seokjin secures the first corner.
“You should sing, too,” he tells Yoongi, glancing up to smile at him. “It makes the chores go by faster.”
Yoongi shakes his head dismissively. “I’d rather hear you sing,” he says.
Seokjin smooths the sheet down the bed until he reaches the foot. “You don’t have to be shy.” He grins and looks over his shoulder at Yoongi. “I don’t mind if you’re off pitch.”
Yoongi smirks and bends to secure one of his corners. “No, I can sing just fine.”
Seokjin snorts. “So why don’t you?”
Yoongi shrugs. “Because listening to you sing is one of my favorite things.”
Seokjin blinks, freezing, his eyes flickering on Yoongi’s bent form. His fingers falter on the sheet, the soft cotton slipping from his loosened grip. “What?” he says, less eloquently than he’d have liked.
Yoongi straightens and steps down to the foot of the bed across from Seokjin. “You let your side go,” he says, frowning.
“Why?” Seokjin asks, still stuck on listening to you sing is one of my favorite things.
“Because you didn’t tuck the sheet in,” Yoongi explains.
“No, why is my singing one of your favorite things?” Seokjin clarifies.
Yoongi stills. He glances at Seokjin, his face flushing, dropping his gaze suddenly. He clears his throat and shrugs his left shoulder, making a vague noise.
“Why?” Seokjin repeats, a little more forcefully, relentless.
Yoongi tucks the sheet around the edge of the mattress hurriedly and steps back. “We should go now.”
“Yah! We need to do the duvet, too,” Seokjin yells as Yoongi retreats out of the room. “Yah!”
“A game of unresolved sexual tension,” Seokjin answers confidently.
“That is not what it means,” Yoongi grumbles, frustrated.
“Well you never told me what it means so I had to make up my own definition.” Seokjin arches a brow. “Correct me if it’s wrong.”
“Shouldn’t we get back with the story?” Yoongi says, stubbornly avoiding an answer.
“No, I’d like to know,” Jisoo insists.
Yoongi sniffs. “I gave the cabin keys to Namjoon as soon as we got back to Seoul -”
“No, hold on,” Jisoo protests.
Yoongi continues, unfazed. “It was a busy week for me. One of my clients changed something last minute on a project. I end up working overtime that next Saturday.”
Jisoo sighs and leans back in her chair, resigned to never know the mystery of Agust.
Yoongi is okay that last Saturday was spent not sleeping. It happens.
It's not supposed to happen two weekends in a row.
Yoongi sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose, leaning back in his office chair. He vaguely recognizes that the sun has long since set outside, his day dissolved into nothingness with only the sketches surrounding him to prove it even existed. He made the deadline, at least, even if it took all Saturday. He owes his team a dinner out. Drinks included.
For now, though, the office empty as the last of his employees yawns a goodnight and slips through the door, all he's thinking about is his bed, and the fresh sheets, and sleeping for approximately fourteen hours.
He stands, stretching his arms over his head carefully, rolling his neck to remind the muscles that no, hunched over is not the only position it can perform. They don't seem to believe him.
He freezes when his phone lights up on his desk, vibrating against the flat surface, inching closer to the edge. Part of him wants to leave it, watch it tumble down to the floor, possibly crack, and he can pretend he never even had a phone to begin with. He doesn't need technology, he needs his bed.
Sighing in resignation, he reaches for the device and answers it. "Hello?"
"Oppa! Hi, how are you, I missed you so much," the other line explodes, overly cheerful in a forced, nervous kind of way.
Yoongi's lips curl up as he recognizes his cousin's voice. "Hi, Sohyun."
"Hi. So, I was talking to Auntie and I heard that you have the keys for the cabin at Mount Taegi. I'm coming over right now to pick them up."
Yoongi nearly falls over, his hand reaching out to grab onto his chair for balance. "What, no, you can't." His eyes narrow. "Why do you need them?"
"I just need a place to hide out for a day or two, no big deal." She laughs nervously. "I didn't do anything wrong."
"Did you run away from home?"
"I'm twenty-five years old, I can't run away from home. I'm an adult."
"So use your adult credit card to get a hotel room."
"Mom canceled them," Sohyun says mournfully. "Please, oppa, I just need to crash at the cabin for like one night, maybe two."
"You can't!" Yoongi blurts out, and possibly it isn't the most calm sentence he has said in his life, but he can't find it in himself to care. He's more concerned about keeping his cousin away from the cabin where Namjoon and Hoseok are currently having a very private, very secret weekend together.
Yoongi purses his lips and takes one split second to think up a plausible excuse. He has to keep Sohyun away from the cabin at all costs. He scrunches his nose and opens his mouth to answer.
Seokjin’s place is a three-storey, narrow structure near the top of a hill, slanting upwards so the first floor acts as a half-basement. There are several steps leading up the front door, and neatly trimmed hedges lining the short walkway. Yoongi parks his car in a designated visitors’ spot and steps out, leaning his head back to look at the top of the row of attached villas. It seems like there might be a rooftop garden, the side of a sun umbrella visible from streetlevel.
It’s nice, Yoongi thinks, albeit formulaic. There’s an entire row of the same structures climbing up the hill. He could design Seokjin something better, something the reflects his dichotomy of classic air and desire for cozy comfort.
A yawn interrupts his thoughts and he remembers why he’s here. He’s exhausted, and rumpled, and kicked out of his own apartment. He heaves a sigh and uses what’s left of his strength to shut his car door and luge his own feet up the stairs to Seokjin’s front door.
He presses on the intercom and waits, blinking slowly in front of the camera, his eyelids growing heavier with each downward motion. He sways on his feet gently, rocking into a soothing rhythm. Vaguely he wonders if he’ll freeze to death if he just lays down here for a nap.
“Yoongi?” Seokjin’s voice sounds, loud and staticy through the speakers, confusion still somehow transmitting clearly.
Yoongi raises his hand in greeting. “Hey.”
“What are you doing here?”
Yoongi sniffs. “Can you let me in? I’m freezing.”
“Oh, yeah. Just. I’ll be right down.”
Yoongi nods and steps back, waiting for Seokjin to appear at the door. Quick, steady tap-tap-taps precede Seokjin just before he opens the door, a plume of warmth escaping the house to brush past Yoongi’s shivering skin. Yoongi’s eyes sweep up Seokjin’s form, cuddled in an oversized hoodie that drapes to his thighs, soft black track pants veiling the shape of his hips and legs, and large, fluffy white slippers in the form of alpacas on his feet.
Yoongi smiles. Cute.
He glances back up to Seokjin’s face, his smile growing wider without conscious thought. Cute, he thinks again, a happy sort of thumping in his chest.
Seokjin steps back to let Yoongi in, saying, “Come in. You look terrible.”
Yoongi is too tired to object. He probably does look terrible, dark circles under his eyes and his lips chapping from the cold and lack of hydration over the last six days. He shuffles inside, gratefully sighing when he’s hit with another blast of warmth from the heater.
Seokjin closes the door behind them. “What’s wrong? Is it Namjoon and Hoseok? They texted me this morning, they’re already at the cabin.”
“That’s the problem,” Yoongi says, sliding out of his shoes and dragging himself up the stairs to Seokjin’s living room. “My cousin, Sohyun - do you remember her?”
Seokjin hums in confirmation, following Yoongi into the room.
Yoongi sighs and slumps down on the leather couch, smiling happily and leaning his head against the back cushions. “Hmm. Well, she ran away from home and wanted to use the cabin to hide from my aunt.”
“That’s a problem,” Seokjin concedes.
“Told you.” He tries to shrug but gives up midway through, deciding it takes too much energy. “Don’t worry, I took care of it. I told her I was there having a clandestine affair.”
Jisoo jolts at the sudden interruption. She clutches her fingers onto her chair arms.
Yoongi arches a brow at Seokjin. “How is that wrong? That’s exactly what happened.”
“You told Sohyun you were at the cabin with me.”
“I did not!”
“You’re forgetting I talk to your family. You said you were at the cabin with me.”
“I told her I was having a clandestine affair and not to come over,” Yoongi insists.
“Then why does she think I was there with you?” Seokjin counters.
“She probably assumed.” Yoongi makes a face. “It doesn’t even matter, because I told you that I told her it was a clandestine affair.”
“You’re giving misleading information.” Seokjin looks at Jisoo. “I’ll tell it.”
Seokjin squats in front of Yoongi. “Who did you tell her you were sneaking around with?”
“She didn’t ask.” Yoongi shifts, finding a more comfortable spot for his head.
“And you came all this way to tell me?” Seokjin prompts, smiling as Yoongi’s cheek smushes against the arm of the couch, distorting his lips cutely.
“Nuh-uh. Sohyun decided my place was a free hotel.” He sighs heavily, scowling even as his eyes close. “I can’t be there if I’m shacking up at the cabin. Can I crash here, hyung?”
Seokjin hums, affection spreading warm and quick through his chest, shooting to the tips of his fingers. “Sure. But you’re not sleeping on the couch.”
Yoongi’s eyes snap open, his lips parting in disbelief. His mouth moves without words, like he’s warming up his vocal chords until they work. “Am I sleeping with you?” he asks, incredulous, the edge of his voice cracking.
Seokjin arches his eyebrows. Oh, he thinks. This is interesting.
“I have a guest room,” he manages to say.
“Oh.” Yoongi blinks, eyes flickering with something Seokjin is almost certain can be called disappointment. “Yeah, that makes more sense.”
“Come on, get up.” Seokjin stands and starts to help Yoongi up, arm going around his waist to lift his leaden, sleep-deprived body. Yoongi slings his arm around Seokjin’s shoulders and leans on him as he stands, tucked against Seokjin’s side snuggly. Seokjin thinks they fit together nicely, his fingers tightening around Yoongi’s stomach.
Seokjin walks Yoongi to the closest guest room, thankfully already made up from the last time Taehyung stayed over. He deposits Yoongi on the side of the bed, sitting him upright. He crouches in front of him, looking up to Yoongi’s drowsy eyes, eyelids drooping heavily. He grips Yoongi’s knees firmly to get his attention.
“Stay here and don’t fall asleep until I bring you a toothbrush and pyjamas,” he orders.
Yoongi makes a noise in acknowledgement, low and rumbling, nodding. “No problem,” he assures through a yawn.
Seokjin snorts, not sure if he believes Yoongi. He stands and turns to leave, halting when he hears Yoongi call out after him.
“Hyung,” Yoongi says, the word lilting, strung out, every drawn out sound of it resonating with the pulse of blood at Seokjin’s fingertips. “Thanks.”
Seokjin smiles over his shoulder. “You’re welcome. We’re partners, right?”
Yoongi smiles, nodding, eyes creasing to crescent moons. Celestial, Seokjin thinks. “Yeah. The best partners.”
He reaches a hand up to the towel around his neck, using it to dab at the post-workout sweat still clinging to his jawline. He'll need to head out to grab a late breakfast. He pauses, glancing in the direction of the guest room. He wonders what Yoongi would like.
A smile spreads on his lips. Yoongi spent the night, and now they'll have breakfast together, and it's just....
Nice to have someone to look for in the morning. Nice to have this camaraderie.
Nice that Yoongi is here, with Seokjin, on a lazy Sunday where they both have nothing to do except be together in the same space.
This is probably what dating Yoongi feels like.
Seokjin inhales and stuffs his hands into his pants pockets. He makes his way down the hall to the guest bedroom, refocusing his mind back on the problem of breakfast. He has a general rule of never entertaining matters of the heart with an empty stomach.
He stops in front of the closed bedroom door and raises a hand to knock when it opens suddenly. Seokjin yells involuntarily, flinging his hands up to shield his face instinctively, his heart rate spiking. Yoongi jolts back, yelling loud and clear at the imagined threat, his knees bending as he crumples to the floor.
Seokjin laughs, gasping bursts as the adrenaline clears. "Sorry," he says, still laughing and moving forward to help Yoongi back up.
Yoongi stares up at him, mirroring laughter bubbling up, his mouth wide open. His hands are still clutched on his chest, his face swollen from sleep, his legs curled under him, and Seokjin doesn't think he's ever seen a more beautiful sight.
"Ah, hyung," Yoongi complains, standing. "Why did you scare me?"
"You scared me first!" Seokjin protests, sticking his chin out defiantly. "Why'd you have to open your door so quickly?"
"I was just leaving the room!"
"Warn me next time."
Yoongi snorts, shaking his head, a wide smile on his lips. "Okay, I'll let you know next time I open a door."
"I'm glad we understand each other." Seokjin straightens his shoulders, relaxing. "I came to ask you if you'd like breakfast."
Yoongi's lips curve into a crooked smile. "Yeah, I'd love some."
"Great. I have no food in the house."
Yoongi snorts again. "Inconvenient."
"I know. Just let me shower and we can go pick something up."
Yoongi nods. "Sure."
By the time Seokjin returns, showered and dressed, hair still damp, he can smell food. His stomach rumbles in eager curiosity, and he follows the scent to the kitchen. Yoongi's still dressed in the checkered pyjamas Seokjin lent him, sleeves rolled up to his elbows as he rinses a pan in the sink.
"Yoongi?" Seokjin asks, eyes falling to two plates set on the counter, a simple arrangement of eggs and half a sliced banana, paired with a small bowl of rice.
Yoongi glances up from his task. "You really have no food, hyung," he complains.
"You cooked?" Seokjin asks dumbly.
Yoongi shrugs. "I found some eggs. It's enough, for now." Yoongi towel dries the pan and sets it onto the stove, moving to grab his plate. "Eat, before it gets cold."
Seokjin smiles, eyes still lingering on Yoongi, affection fluttering in his stomach, and something stronger tingling at his fingertips. An urge to brush through Yoongi's hair. An itch to step closer until their hips touch, leaning on each other. An impulse to say something.
Something like you're cute, and I like you, and every time I see you, I fall a little harder for you.
He reaches for his plate before he does something reckless.
"Hyung," Yoongi says, swallowing a mouthful of rice, apparently ignorant of Seokjin's colliding thoughts.
"Namjoon and Hoseok," he continues, frowning at his plate, his hip leaned against the counter. "You think they worked things out?"
Seokjin shrugs. "Whether they did or didn't, they had the chance. That's the best we can do for them."
Yoongi hums, nodding, eyes still on his plate. His lips twist, an unknown thought troubling him, his brow furrowing. Seokjin waits patiently. "What do you think happens when two people miss their chance?" He finally glances back up, locking his eyes with Seokjin.
Seokjin's lips purse. He tilts his head, considering. "I guess they have to make another one."
Yoongi's lips part, his eyes widening. He holds Seokjin's gaze for a moment. "Hm," he finally says.
They lapse into stilted silence. Seokjin has the impression they've just had two very separate conversations. He inhales and says cheerfully, intent on lightening the atmosphere, "Are you free the rest of the day?"
Yoongi shrugs. "Until my aunt finds my cousin."
"Great. You can help me go grocery shopping."
Yoongi's nose scrunches. "Are you going to make me carry the bags?"
Seokjin smirks and takes a bite of his rice. "Yes."
"Can we get cherry tomatoes?"
Yoongi grins, satisfied. "Fine."
Seokjin tries not to think that this must be what it's like, a life with Yoongi.
Yoongi shrugs. “Maybe a bit.”
“Hmm.” Seokjin looks back to Jisoo and smiles. “And that’s pretty much the story. The weekend at Yoongi’s cabin seemed to do them good.”
Yoongi nods in agreement. “It wasn’t easier for them, but I always get the impression they were a unit after that.” He smiles fondly. “Every relationship deserves its fair chance.”
Jisoo blinks at them, alarm and disappointment forming in her stomach as she realizes they think their story is over. “That’s it?” she prompts. “What, what happened after that?”
Yoongi’s brow furrows. “I mean, Namjoon and Hoseok dated for a few more months before they got engaged. There’s not much to tell. They went out. They held hands. They made moony eyes at each other.”
“So much PDA,” Seokjin complains, fiddling with Yoongi’s hand in his.
Jisoo makes a distressed noise, eyes flickering to Seokjin, desperate to know what happened to them. “No, no, what happened after breakfast?” she prompts. “Did you go grocery shopping?”
Yoongi blinks. “Well, yeah. We went to the store.” He looks at Seokjin, confused. “I think my aunt found my cousin and I went back home after, right?”
“Oh,” Seokjin sounds, realization in his widening eyes. “I know what you want to know.” He winks at her. “Okay!”
Seokjin stops, startled. Yoongi’s arm slips lower to rub Seokjin’s back, soothing him.
“Why was Yoongi-ssi on top of you? How? What?” Jisoo continues.
“We were living together by the time Namjoon announced the engagement,” Seokjin explains. “He called to tell us early in the morning -”
Jisoo shakes her head violently, waving her arms. “No, no, back up. How did you start living together? Last I heard, Yoongi-ssi was in love with you and you were in love with Yoongi-ssi and neither one of you was doing anything about it!” She feels her face flush in frustration. “I want to know how and when that changed.”
She sits back in her chair and crosses her arms over her chest, a sharp, stubborn set to her mouth.
Yoongi’s lips curl in mild distaste. “That’s a bit off topic.”
“That ship sailed two hours ago,” she retorts coolly.
Seokjin hums, looking at Yoongi. “Should you tell it, or should I?”
Yoongi sniffs and looks away, his lips tilting into a sulk.
“If I tell it, I won’t go easy on you,” Seokjin warns, but Yoongi remains stubbornly silent. “Fine.” He looks at Jisoo. “Two days after Yoongi went back home, I get a phone call.”
His fingers drum on his steering wheel and a grin involuntarily stretches on his lips as he reads the name on his display.
Not such a rare occurrence to receive a call from him these days, but no less delightful.
Even more delightful lately, he muses, reaching forward to answer the call on speaker.
“Hello, Yoongichi,” he greets, smiling in amusement.
Yoongi huffs out something between a laugh and a cough. “Why, why do you call me Yoongichi?”
Seokjin tilts his head, fingers still drumming on the top of the steering wheel. “Hmm, it’s cute. Like you.” His grin widens when he imagines the look on Yoongi’s face, a delicate balance of pleased and cringe that is becoming increasingly precious to Seokjin.
Yoongi makes protesting noises, not quite words, more like extended vowel sounds. “Not even my mother calls me cute.”
“She thinks it, though,” Seokjin says with confidence.
“So what’s up?” Seokjin prompts when Yoongi doesn’t move to say anything more.
“Oh. Um.” Yoongi clears his throat. “I was just, uh. Thinking.”
“Hmm. Thinking is one of my favorite hobbies,” Seokjin teases. The light finally turns green and he steps on the gas pedal, easing to a start again. “What were you thinking about? How Pluto should still be a planet? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? My handsome face?”
Yoongi is silent for a moment before he says, “Actually.” He stops. “Wait, sorry, are you busy right now? What I want to say is kind of important.”
Seokjin blinks, taking a right turn down quieter street, fingers skimming over the wheel with practiced ease. “I’m just driving home from work. I’m all ears.”
Seokjin laughs when Yoongi doesn’t continue. “If I’m all ears, you should be all mouth,” he says. “That’s how this communication thing works.”
Yoongi laughs lightly. “Yeah, yeah. Right.”
Seokjin smiles, still waiting. He wonders if he should tell Yoongi how cute he is when he can’t seem to say what he wants to say. Probably not a good idea right now. He nods to himself. He should tell Yoongi when he can see his reaction, the way his nose scrunches and his cheek color even when he loudly denies Seokjin’s astute observation.
“Hyung,” Yoongi finally says slowly, “I’m in love with you.”
Seokjin’s foot slams on the brakes suddenly, his fingers gripping the wheel so tightly his knuckles start to pale. An involuntary curse or two slips from his tongue, choked out on a wheezing breath. “What-”
“Wait,” Yoongi says loudly, panic evident in his tone. “Wait, wait, nevermind. Forget I said that.”
“What the fuck, Yoongi?” Seokjin scolds, ignoring the angry honks from the other cars around him. He didn’t hit anyone, they can chill. He has a Very Important Thing happening at the moment. He checks his rearview mirror and steps on the gas pedal again, intent to move his car somewhere not in the middle of the road so he can properly experience this.
“No, I take it back,” Yoongi says quickly.
“You can’t take it back!” Seokjin yells, his shock fading into the strangest mixture of happiness and annoyance. “You can’t just-”
“I never said it and we will never talk about this again.”
“The fuck we won’t-” Seokjin’s eyes widen, his mouth dropping open, annoyance rapidly descending into outrage as the call disconnects. “You did not just hang up on me,” he shouts at his display console.
He pulls into a parking lot, stopping and reaching to redial Yoongi’s number. It rings.
And fucking Min Yoongi is screening his fucking calls after fucking confessing and then taking it back. Seokjin scowls as the call goes to voicemail. “This isn’t over,” he warns Yoongi ominously before disconnecting and trying again.
This is so far from over.
“He did,” Seokjin confirms, nodding. “And he wouldn’t answer my calls. Or texts, or emails. He wasn’t even at his apartment.”
“You went to his apartment?” Jisoo asks.
“Of course.” Seokjin smiles and nudges Yoongi’s shoulder. “But he fled like a man running from the law.”
Yoongi sighs. “Look, I have a perfectly reasonable explanation.”
Jisoo eyes him expectantly and his lips twist as he shifts forward to pick up the story.
Jungkook stares with wide eyes at Yoongi, lips parted as he nods. “That’s genius, hyung,” he breathes. “You’re so smart.”
Yoongi smirks and shrugs. “I know.” He points his index finger at Jungkook. “So don’t tell him I’m crashing at your place for a bit, okay?”
Jungkook nods vigorously. “Right.”
Yoongi smiles, satisfied. “I’ll buy you lamb skewers next time we go out,” he says, proud of how loyal Jungkook grew up to be.
Yoongi sighs, but a smile tugs at his lips, his eyes solely focused on Seokjin. His hand reaches down to cover Seokjin’s, still resting on his thigh, their fingers intertwining. “Yeah, I know. Can I continue?”
Seokjin nods, still smiling, and leans back.
He does, however, hear Jungkook call his name, and the door creaking open. He glances up to see Jungkook peek his head into the narrow opening.
“Hey hyung,” he drawls, his eyes shifting away from Yoongi and towards the hallway suspiciously.
Yoongi straightens his back, eyes narrowing, a frown weighting down his lips. “Why are you being weird?” he asks.
Jungkook laughs, a forced sound that makes Yoongi cringe. “Me? I’m being natural. Super, super natural.” His eyes glance to the side again.
Yoongi watches Jungkook for one, two, three seconds before his eyes widen in alarm. He slams his laptop closed and shoves it to the side, wondering how long he has until Seokjin shows up. “You told him!” he accuses.
Jungkook’s nose scrunches up. “He made valid points.”
“I gave him my card,” Seokjin says, opening the door the rest of the way and stepping into the room, his arms crossed over his chest.
Yoongi yelps in surprise and dives under the covers, rolling to his stomach and pulling the blanket up over his head. He raised Jungkook better than this, he thinks petulantly.
“I’m just going to go,” Jungkook says.
Yoongi can hear the door close with a soft click. He has one moment where he hopes, stupidly, that Seokjin actually left too.
The mattress dips as Seokjin sits on the edge and Yoongi shuts his eyes tight. Shit.
“Yoongi,” Seokjin starts, his tone authoritative, sending tingles down Yoongi’s spine. Yoongi smashes his face into a pillow and curses the moment he let himself fall in love.
“Go away, I’m sick,” Yoongi mutters into his pillow.
“You mean lovesick?” Seokjin teases, amusement lilting in his words.
Yoongi scowls into the pillow. There’s just so much regret in his body, heavy like lead in his stomach. “I misspoke.”
Yoongi sighs and sits up suddenly, throwing the comforter off and turning to glare at Seokjin. “Okay, fine. I love you, so fucking what? It doesn’t have to change anything. It won’t change anything. I’ve been in love with you from the beginning and we’ve been fine, so this doesn’t have to be a big deal.”
Seokjin stares, slack-jawed, at him. “From the beginning?”
“From the moment I first laid eyes on you. And more every passing day,” Yoongi expands defiantly. “So what?”
Seokjin looks up to the ceiling and breathes out, blowing a slow breath out through puffed cheeks, his eyes shining in the late afternoon sunlight that pours through the window. He’s breathtaking, Yoongi thinks, his fingers curling into the sheets under him.
He’s breathtaking and funny and makes Yoongi feel good, a calmness and a spark all in one. It’s all Seokjin’s fault that Yoongi fell for him, anyway.
Yoongi frowns, eyeing Seokjin warily, his heart pounding too hard in his chest, climbing up his throat and onto his tongue. “I said it,” he says with false confidence. “And now we can forget about it.” He starts to move, intent on climbing out of bed and out of this room as soon as physically possible.
“Shouldn’t I get to respond before we forget about this?” Seokjin asks, stalling Yoongi.
Yoongi glances up, finds Seokjin’s shining eyes focused on him. He swallows his heart down from his tongue, lodging it into his throat, his fingers twisting deeper into the sheets. “Do you have to?”
Seokjin nods seriously, leaning closer. “I’ll be gentle,” he says in a stage whisper.
Yoongi makes a mildly distressed noise. “Fine.” He gathers himself together, back straight, shoulders tense, chin tilted up, heart dropped to the base of his stomach. “Go ahead.”
“Despite the fact that you confessed to me over the phone,” Seokjin starts, ticking one finger up. “And tried to take it back.”
Another finger lifts ticks up and Yoongi’s eyes focus on them, the neat, manicured nails, the smooth knuckles, the soft pads he can remember feathering on his cheeks. It’s easier to look at Seokjin’s fingers than his eyes.
“And proceeded to run away,” Seokjin continues, a third finger joining the other two. “Despite all that, I still like you a lot.”
Yoongi’s heart jumps up to his throat again, his eyes wide, his lungs frozen mid-breath. He looks up to Seokjin again, finds him grinning at him, fondness and affection in the shine of his eyes. “What?” he asks dumbly.
“I like you, Yoongi.” Seokjin leans back and pats his own thighs lightly. “Now that I’ve said what I wanted to, we can forget this whole thing-”
Yoongi reaches out, grabbing onto Seokjin’s arm, panic and confusion swirling in his head, and disbelief fading into elation in the heart that’s working its way back to his tongue. “Wait, no, you like me?”
Seokjin nods. “Yes.”
“Like I like you?”
Seokjin’s grin widens. “Yes.” He reaches his other hand to pat at Yoongi’s, still attached to the sleeve of his sweater. “But you wanted to forget it, so let’s move on.”
“I take it back,” Yoongi blurts out quickly.
Seokjin shakes his head, his lips pursed. “You already took it back.”
“I take back what I took back.”
Seokjin laughs and squeezes Yoongi’s hand. “Do you want to try that again, a little more simply?”
Yoongi sits up on his knees and leans closer, placing his hands on Seokjin’s broad shoulders to brace himself. He takes one deep, fortifying breath before he says, “Hyung, I’m in love with you,” he confesses, his heart finally tumbling off his tongue and hovering between them.
Seokjin’s eyes flicker, sparkling, shining, glowing with affection that Yoongi feels cascade down every inch of his skin. “Same.”
Yoongi laughs. “You can’t just say ‘same’ to a love confession.”
“You can’t just take a love confession back, but you did,” Seokjin retorts, arching his brows.
He can’t deny it so he shrugs and tilts his head to the side. “Can I kiss you now?”
Seokjin nods minutely. “Yeah, you can,” he says quietly, eyes dropping down to Yoongi’s lips.
Yoongi shuffles forward more until his knees bump Seokjin’s. His fingers tighten on Seokjin’s shoulders. He catches Seokjin’s gaze with his, his eyes searching Seokjin’s, falling into deep, rich brown he never wants to escape. Yoongi licks his lips, inhaling softly the breath Seokjin releases, and closes the distance between them.
Yoongi’s lips slot against Seokjin’s, sinking down.
Seokjin slaps his thighs and stands. “Guess we’re done? You’ll probably have to edit it a bit, we got way off topic,” he says apologetically.
Jisoo blinks, her mouth opening and closing several times. She wants to know more. How did they get along after the confession, how did they end up living together. How did they get engaged. Can she go to their wedding.
But she stares at the phone on the coffee table, three hours and counting of a recording, and the latter half of it absolutely useless to her project. She can’t exactly document the time the prince and his husband almost broke up. Her eyes widen with realization. Or when the prince met his husband at a club, drunk.
She forces a polite smile on her lips. “Just a bit of editing,” she says, glancing at them. “Thank you, for taking the time to come today.”
Yoongi smiles and stands. “No worries. It was kind of fun.”
Seokjin bows, Yoongi following in his lead. “We’ll be going now.”
Jisoo stands quickly and bows as well. “Ah, yes, drive safely.”
Yoongi smiles and lifts his hand in a wave. “We will. ‘Bye.” He steps back and waits for Seokjin to reach him before they start to walk towards the door. “You hungry?” Yoongi asks quietly to Seokjin, looking up at him and smiling.
Seokjin hums in acknowledgement. “Yeah,” he says, his fingers reaching up to slide into the crook of Yoongi’s elbow, leaning his weight into him as they step out the door and out of sight.
Jisoo collapses down into her chair and stares out the door for a moment, still lost in their story for a moment. She shakes her head, jolting herself back to the present, and grabs her phone off the table to end the recording.
"I can't use any of this,” she sighs to herself. She smiles, angling the phone in her hand. “But it was a nice story, anyway.”
After all, she’s always been partial to happily ever afters. For the prince.
And all his friends.