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strawberries & cigarettes

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as with most other things in his life, jeongguk misses the bus by accident. he sleeps through his alarm on a bright monday morning and wakes half an hour later than he should, half an hour later than he needs to. jeongguk is very particular about these things—he knows exactly how long it takes him to shower in the morning, how long it takes to do his hair, how long it takes to make breakfast. he knows exactly how long it takes to get from his apartment to the bus stop, and from the bus stop by his apartment to the bus stop by the bookshop he’s been working at for the past three months. he knows these things, and knows that if just one of those tasks takes even a few minutes longer than it should, the whole system will fall apart.

or—if he sleeps through his alarm.

“shit,” he hisses when he wakes up and realizes it’s much too light outside to be 7:45. he rolls over, grabbing his glasses and shoving them on his face before he grabs his phone and sees the time glaring back at him: 8:14. his bus comes at 8:36, exactly, and it takes thirteen minutes, exactly, for jeongguk to walk there from his apartment. that means he has about nine minutes to get ready. as he throws the covers off of him and scrambles out of bed, tearing through his closet to find something to wear, he works through it in his head—he can’t make a real breakfast with that time, but he also won’t have time to stop somewhere to get food before his shift starts. he always has a good, nutritious breakfast, though, and just having an apple isn’t going to cut it.

“shit, shit, shit,” he continues to mutter as he finally pulls on his clothes—an oversized, baby pink sweatshirt and cuffed jeans, and maybe it’s a step down from the clothes he likes to wear to work to show that he’s a grown up adult who has grown up adult clothes, but he’s panicked. he needs something soft, warm—something to keep him from feeling frazzled all day, just from waking up late. he checks the time again: 8:16. seven minutes before he has to leave the house.

jeongguk makes a grunting noise when his arm gets stuck in his sleeve, hopping around his room before he passes the mirror and sees the absolutely devastating state of his hair; hurriedly, he pushes his arm through his sleeve and tries to do something about it, smoothing his hair down on his sides. it’s a little swoopy in the front, pieces of his fringe falling into his eyes, but—it’ll have to do. he switches his glasses for contacts, hoping it makes him look at least somewhat put together despite what everything else suggests.

he bustles around the rest of his room, hastily grabbing the supplies he needs for the day and then racing out of his room and into the kitchen. his roommates have already left for the day—namjoon is in his first year of a master’s degree and seokjin is trying to get cast in literally any tv show, so they’re both gone all of the time. now, he curses that fact as he fumbles around for some breakfast, grabbing an apple when he sees there’s just about nothing in the fridge, anyway. he’s going to be hungry all morning, already groaning at the thought, but when he checks the time again, he sees it’s 8:26. he’s already four minutes behind schedule, and there’s no time.

completely out of sorts, jeongguk slings his backpack over his shoulder and heads out of the house. at least he’s always been a fast runner, so he locks the door and takes off down the street. each step has his heart pounding harder, harder—he’s scared of missing the bus, sure, but what he’s really scared of is being late to work. he’s only been at the bookshop for three months and he doesn’t want them thinking that he’s not a good employee, that tardiness is going to become a habit. jeongguk, above all, is a people pleaser, and he likes to follow the rules. he always shows up early to work, something that his boss gratefully comments on, and the idea of her being disappointed in him for showing up late has him picking up speed.

and anyway. he needs this job. he likes reading and likes helping people, but more than that, he needs the money, since he’s trying to save up for singing lessons, because that’s what he really wants to do. his high school choir teacher used to say that he had the voice of an angel, and the face of one too, so if anyone could become famous, it was him. jeongguk’s not sure he has the stage presence for it, but he likes singing. he wants to be a singer.

which means he can’t be late to work.

except—except.

by the time jeongguk manages to get to the bus stop, having stopped several times just to breathe and once to check on a potentially injured bird across the street, the time is already 8:34. which means that the bus should still be coming, but—jeongguk stands, catching his breath, and watches as other cars drive past him. and the bus doesn’t come. he stands and waits for three minutes, four, five—even ten minutes, all without the bus coming. which means it must have come early for once, and jeongguk missed it anyway, even with him rushing through his entire morning routine and running all the way here.

with this realization, jeongguk lets out a very long sigh. he can’t miss work. he can’t miss work. and he doesn’t know what to do, panic filling him up from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. he can’t disappoint people, doesn’t need to be reprimanded or he’ll fucking cry because he hates it. he hates it.

he needs to find a way to get to work, and both namjoon and seokjin are gone, too far away to come and get him. and it’s only been three months here, which means jeongguk hasn’t really made any friends—he’s shy, an introvert, doesn’t like going to social gatherings especially in places a nineteen-year-old might be expected to go: clubs, bars, parties. jeongguk likes spending his friday nights curled up in his bed watching studio ghibli films while cuddling with his favourite stuffed animals. now he curses himself for being like this, for not having any friends.

for not having any friends except—hoseok. hoseok, a regular at the bookshop because it’s right across the street from the starbucks he works at while he’s saving up for school, too. hoseok, who asked jeongguk for help finding a book for his roommate the first time he came into the store and then ended up staying for almost two hours, waiting for jeongguk to go on break so they could talk. hoseok, who, despite seeing that jeongguk is shy and might not be the best with making conversation, pushed his way into jeongguk’s life anyway.

they’ve only known enough for a month, and they haven’t hung out outside of the bookshop or starbucks or both. which means… maybe jeongguk shouldn’t reach out to him. maybe hoseok has other things to do, maybe hoseok won’t care enough despite how friendly and outgoing and bright he is. but. hoseok has a car. hoseok has a car and jeongguk needs to get to work and the longer he stands there at the bus stop, the more panicked he feels.

it’s this panic that has him pulling out his phone and searching for hoseok’s number, overcoming the anxiety of talking on the phone in the first place. it seems to take forever for hoseok to pick up, but when he does, it’s with a bright, “jeonggukkie!”

“hi, hoseokie-hyung,” says jeongguk shyly, already feeling guilty despite not even having made his request. what if hoseok has more important things to do? but when he pulls his phone away from his ear, he sees that his shift is supposed to start in half an hour, and it takes at least twenty minutes to get from here to there, so. so.

“missed me so much that you couldn’t wait to see me at work, huh?” asks hoseok, and jeongguk flushes.

“no,” he admits. “i—i mean, i do miss you. i mean—not like that. fuck, i mean—”

“jeongguk-ah,” says hoseok, chuckling a little. “it’s okay, i was just teasing. what’s up?”

jeongguk swallows tightly, trying to tamp down all of the emotion within him. he feels small, suddenly. “i’m sorry for bothering you,” he begins. “but um—i kind of missed my bus? and i don’t have a car or a bike or anything and my shift starts in half an hour and i really, really need to get there because they’ll fire me if i’m late or miss it and i feel really bad and i don’t have a way to get there so i was just wondering maybe, and—and obviously you can say no, it’s fine—”

“you need a ride to work?” hoseok cuts him off, thankfully.

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk. “i’m really sorry; you don’t have to, though.”

“don’t apologize,” says hoseok. “i’d love to drive you, guk-ah, but i’m actually just about to start my own shift and i don’t think i can swing that.”

jeongguk’s stomach drops. “oh,” he says. “oh, oh, that’s okay, hyung. it’s okay, don’t worry, i’ll—”

“but,” says hoseok before jeongguk can continue rambling. “my roommate is home today and i can ask him to pick you up?”

the thing about jeongguk—not only is he shy and overwhelmed easily by things like crowds or parties, but he’s really not good with strangers. it’s different when he’s at work, because he’s meant to help strangers, and for the most part, his boss lets him work on shelving things until someone asks him for help. it’s different when he’s pushed into a social situation with someone he doesn’t know. he’s different when he has to get into a car with someone he doesn’t know, let them drive him across town.

he pales at the thought. hoseok hasn’t spoken much about his roommate, merely mentioned that he has one and mentioned a bit about him when jeongguk was trying to find a book for him, but jeongguk doesn’t think hoseok would live with anyone who wasn’t nice and would try to kill him on the way to work. but, still. still.

“um,” says jeongguk when he realizes he hasn’t answered. “are you sure? i don’t want to—to be a burden on anyone; if he doesn’t want to drive me, that’s okay.”

“you need to get to work, right?” asks hoseok. “and i have a means of getting you there. trust me, yoongi-hyung is a great person and he owes me like, fourteen thousand favours anyway, so he’ll be more than happy to drive you. just send me your location and he’ll be there soon, okay?”

so—like most things in his life, jeongguk meets min yoongi by accident.

jeongguk spends the entire fourteen minutes and eighteen seconds it takes for yoongi to show up wringing his hands, pacing back and forth on the street, and panicking. this time, it’s both panicking about being late to his shift and panicking about meeting someone new and being expected to get in a car with him. but yoongi is probably a nice person. he’s probably as nice as hoseok, just as friendly and bright and easy to get along with. he’s probably not a serial killer.

and besides, even if jeongguk is too scared and shy to say anything, it’s not like they have to be friends. yoongi is just giving him a ride to work. they never have to see each other ever again after this, which is hopefully how this goes—jeongguk doesn’t want to keep seeing someone who had to rescue him like this. it’s far too embarrassing.

that’s what he decides in those fourteen minutes and eighteen seconds—he’ll just get in yoongi’s beat up old car and give him the address to the bookshop and never, ever, ever think about min yoongi again.

and then he actually meets min yoongi, and all of that goes to shit.

yoongi doesn’t, like jeongguk expected, show up in a beat up old car. in fact, he doesn’t show up in a car at all. when min yoongi shows up, it’s like this:

jeongguk hears the loud rumble of a motorcycle before he sees it, but he turns his head down the street anyway, catching sight of someone tearing down the mostly-empty street. the motorcycle is sleek and black, its rider hunched over the handles with a bright red helmet on. jeongguk makes a face, taking a step away from the curb as he waits for the person to pass; he’s never been a fan of those—too loud and far too dangerous.

but then the person on the motorcycle starts slowing down and comes to a stop right beside jeongguk, the motorcycle roaring idly for a second before the rider turns it off and knocks out the kickstand. they swing a leg over the side of the bike, stepping onto the curb and pulling off the helmet to reveal—the most ridiculously attractive man that jeongguk has ever seen in his entire fucking life.

it’s striking, maybe—the cut off his jaw or the line of his throat. it all seems to happen in slow motion, like the romantic comedies that jeongguk is so fond of—the man takes off his helmet and shakes his head a little, running a hand through his fucking dyed grey hair as he hoists the helmet under his arm and turns to look at jeongguk. his eyes are dark, strangely cat-like (and jeongguk has to swallow the thought about how much he fucking likes cats) and outlined in just a hint of eyeliner, nose perfectly round, lips pink as the sweater jeongguk is wearing.

jeongguk’s mouth immediately goes dry before he even bothers to look at what the man is wearing. he doesn’t get a chance, though, before the man’s lips curl into a little grin and he says, “you’re jeongguk, right?”

and oh. oh, jesus fucking christ.

jeongguk doesn’t realize that he’s just standing there clutching the hem of his sweater and staring until the man lets out this husky laugh, shaking some of his hair out of his eyes and approaching with his free hand held out between them. “i’m yoongi,” he says. “hoseok’s roommate? he asked if i would be willing to drive you to work so here i am.” jeongguk stares at yoongi’s outstretched hand—nails covered in chipped black polish, which are attached to a very long and veiny hand, which is coming out of a fucking leather jacket, which is thrown over a black shirt, which is tucked into a pair of very tight and ripped black jeans, which come to rest above a pair of black combat boots, and that’s just—not fair. at all.

somehow, jeongguk manages to make the part of his brain not connected to his dick work enough to raise his hand, grasping onto yoongi’s a little too tightly. he swallows thickly, praying to god that his face isn’t as red as it feels when he looks yoongi in the eye again and lets out a quiet, “hi.”

yoongi’s lips curl into a stupidly attractive smile, like he’s delighted just to hear jeongguk’s voice, and that’s—weird. that’s weird because yoongi drives a motorcycle and wears nothing but black and has grey hair and by all means looks like the boy that his parents warned him about before he moved to seoul—earrings studding his ears, arms likely covered in tattoos, bad habits just waiting to come out and bite, but. yoongi is smiling at him. yoongi is smiling at him and giving his hand a gentle shake and saying, “i hope you’re not opposed to taking my bike? it’s the only thing i have, but um… i have an extra helmet and i promise not to go faster than the speed limit.”

jeongguk stops himself from saying something stupid, like i’d let you do literally anything if you keep smiling like that, and just gives a small nod. “okay,” he says, dropping yoongi’s hand and blushing, because of course he blushes. yoongi grins wider. jeongguk thinks—fuck. he’s very bad at lying, so when hoseok comes over to the bookshop later and inevitably asks about this, jeongguk will have to say that he’s gone and fallen in love at first sight with the first attractive boy to smile at him, who just so happens to be, as he’s sure seokjin and namjoon would put it: a bad boy.

it was probably inevitable. jeongguk’s heart is very, very gentle, and very, very easily taken with things he can’t have.

“okay,” repeats yoongi, and then holds out his helmet. “you can have this helmet so you don’t have to wear the my little pony one. that’s hobi’s.”

jeongguk lets out a giggle, taking the helmet. “i don’t mind,” he says, but yoongi is already returning to the bike and grabbing the other helmet—my little pony, just like he’d said—and fitting it over his head. “it doesn’t really go with your…” he pauses, unsure what he’s trying to say. doesn’t really go with yoongi’s everything, it seems—he gives off such an air of confidence and coolness, seems like he has a lot of rock posters up in his room and probably knows a thing or two about breaking the law. after a second, jeongguk settles on finishing the sentence with: “outfit.”

“what, you don’t think i can rock a leather jacket and my little pony at the same time?” asks yoongi, lips curling into a smirk, which is—almost worse than the smile.

and jeongguk blushes, of course, taken back by the teasing. “n-no,” he stutters. “i mean—yes. i mean—” he stops, blushing harder when yoongi starts chuckling at him, and shoves the helmet over his own head in hopes of masking it somehow. “you can wear whatever you want,” he finally says quietly. the worst part, maybe, is that yoongi doesn’t care—he will wear a leather jacket and my little pony at the same time, clearly not worried about strange looks or what people, least of jeongguk, might think.

“here, let me help you with that,” says yoongi, and jeongguk freezes on the spot as he approaches. this close, when yoongi comes to a stop inches away from him and starts fiddling with the chin strap, jeongguk realizes several things: first, yoongi is shorter than him. not by much, but he is. something curls in jeongguk’s stomach at the thought. second, that yoongi is even prettier up close—from here, with yoongi’s gaze thankfully elsewhere, he can make out the make up on yoongi’s eyelids, the slight upturn of his lips. there’s something strangely delicate about his features, despite the sharpness of everything else. and third—that he smells really, really good, like pine and just a hint of something smokey.

jeongguk likes it. which is saying something, considering jeongguk is sensitive to smells.

anyway. he doesn’t have time to focus on yoongi’s fingers brushing against the underside of his chin or how close he’s standing or anything, too overwhelmed with everything else. and then yoongi is stepping back, grinning at him and saying, “good to go. let’s get you to work, okay?”

jeongguk had almost forgotten that he was supposed to go to work. he’s probably late by now—but suddenly, that prospect doesn’t seem so bad. he nods anyway, rattling off the address before he follows yoongi to the motorcycle. the truth is that he does have a problem with these things—he’s never ridden one, but he doesn’t have to have ridden one to know its dangers. jeongguk much prefers to be in a vehicle with doors, or better yet, something that has hand rails and seatbelts. but he doesn’t want to seem like a baby, and yoongi has been very kind to go out of his way in order to drive jeongguk to work, so. when yoongi swings his leg over the bike and sits down, scooting up to leave room for jeongguk behind him, jeongguk just takes a very deep breath and follows.

he sits behind yoongi, trying not to panic at the idea of speeding through the city on this thing. the only good thing is that he can’t see much if he just stares at yoongi’s back, which is nice and broad and a very good shield.

“hold onto me, okay?” says yoongi. “don’t worry, jeongguk. i’ll keep you safe.”

it’s a good thing, of course, that yoongi can’t actually see him, because jeongguk’s face immediately bursts into flames. he scoots forward, though, until they’re pressed together and gingerly wraps his arms around yoongi’s middle, hugging him just enough to feel safe. he takes a deep breath, and then yoongi starts the motorcycle; it roars to life underneath them and jeongguk practically squeaks, hold instantly tightening around yoongi despite the fact that they haven’t even moved. yoongi must think it’s funny, too, because he laughs again, pats jeongguk’s hand, and then starts driving.

it takes exactly sixteen minutes and forty-five seconds to get to the bookshop. jeongguk knows because he counts each second with his stomach in knots, terrified that something awful is going to happen. he finds that he trusts yoongi implicitly, not worried that he’s going to murder jeongguk or crash, but they’re still on a motorcycle. he keeps his arms tightly wrapped around yoongi and face pressed to yoongi’s back through the helmet with his eyes squeezed shut, even when they’re sitting at stoplights and yoongi tells him that he doesn’t have to hold on so tightly when they’re not even moving.

it’s very stressful. but after sixteen minutes and forty-five seconds, they pull up outside of the bookshop. at first, jeongguk doesn’t realize it, since his eyes are closed, but then yoongi is laughing again and gently grabbing jeongguk’s hands to pry them away. “you can open your eyes now,” he says. “we’re here.”

when jeongguk cracks one eye open, he sees that yoongi is right. then he’s quick to retract his arms, all but throwing himself off of the death trap and landing on wobbly legs. yoongi is still laughing behind him, and jeongguk turns around before jutting his chin out. “please take this off,” he says. “i never want to get back on a motorcycle again in my life.”

with their faces this close again and yoongi working at the chin strap, he asks, “not even if you miss the bus and need someone to rescue you again?”

jeongguk flushes, pouting as yoongi finishes with the chin strap and he takes the helmet off. rather than responding to that comment, he just toys with the straps of his backpack and says, “um—thank you. for rescuing me. i really appreciate it.” he doesn’t even know what time it is, so he might be late, but. at least he’s here.

“it was my pleasure,” says yoongi as he takes off his own helmet, tucking one under each arm. “have a good day at work, okay? and—really, if you do ever need another ride to work or anywhere else, i’m always happy to help.”

the idea of getting back on that motorcycle is extremely unappealing. the idea of seeing yoongi again, however… well. maybe jeongguk can just learn how to deal with feeling like he’s constantly at risk of dying while flying down the highway without anything to protect him.

“okay,” he says, taking a step back. yoongi gives him a half wave before returning to the bike, putting away the my little pony helmet before he sits down on the seat, and—he’s leaving. of course he’s leaving; that’s how this is supposed to work. jeongguk is supposed to miss his bus and panic-call a friend who sends someone to pick him up, and yoongi is supposed to drive him to work and then go back home. except—jeongguk kind of fucked it up by ending up absolutely smitten.

because yoongi is very nice to look at, but he’s also just very nice in general. he’s sweet, despite what his appearance would suggest about him. jeongguk likes him. jeongguk really, really likes him.

he chews on his bottom lip for a moment as he surveys yoongi preparing to leave. and jeongguk isn’t—a forward person by any means. he’s rather a wallflower, passive in letting things happen to him. but there’s something about the ride or the look in yoongi’s eye when he’d been teasing jeongguk or how fast his heart is beating that has him putting all that aside and calling out a, “wait!” before darting forward. yoongi looks up at him, surprise in his eyes as jeongguk gets to the curb and leans down, pressing his lips to yoongi’s cheek in a soft kiss.

and then he’s straightening back up, muttering a, “thanks again. um—bye,” before he turns around and flees, cheeks coloured red all the way to the door of the bookshop. he doesn’t look back, not once—and so doesn’t see yoongi hurriedly shoving his helmet over his head like he’s hiding something, like he has something to flee from, too.

later, when hoseok does come over to the bookshop and does ask about it, jeongguk has to hide behind the books he’s trying to shelve because he’s blushing so fiercely. and hoseok giggles at him, teasing, and jeongguk tries to explain that it was just nice, stuttering the whole way. after making a fool of himself through the whole conversation, jeongguk tries to shoo hoseok out of the shop.

at the door, hoseok turns around and beams at him with something akin to mischief in his eyes. says, “you know, if you ever want to come over for dinner…” and jeongguk almost shrieks at him, physically pushing him out of the store and closing the door in the wake of hoseok’s delighted laughter.

but still, even later, after he’s gotten home safe and sound on the bus that he didn’t miss this time—he texts hoseok. says, will you have vegetarian options at this hypothetical dinner? ten minutes later, hoseok replies with something about the only meat that jeongguk will want to eat. he stops reading halfway through, not in the mood to be mentally scarred, but—but. he thinks about seeing yoongi again and has to dive under his covers, feet kicking. there are much worse ways the day could have gone.

a week later, jeongguk goes for dinner at hoseok and yoongi’s apartment. eight days later, to be exact, and jeongguk counts each day with a growing impatience and nervousness. on the night of the dinner, he changes his outfit five times, making such a ruckus that seokjin peeks his head into jeongguk’s room and asks if he’s going on a date, and jeongguk throws his shoe at him, and that’s that.

he takes the bus, because he takes the bus everywhere, despite hoseok’s suggestive texts asking if he’s sure he doesn’t need a ride—but jeongguk wants to make a good impression, a better one than the first. he’s sure he must have looked half a mess, but now he makes sure that his hair is actually laying flat and that his sweater isn’t creased as he approaches the right apartment with a little gift of wine—because that’s what adults do, right?

anyway. anyway. he can’t stop the nerves that bundle up inside of him as he comes to rest in front of the door and raises his fist to knock—and then thinks better of it. yoongi is on the other side of that door. jeongguk thinks about his devastating eyes and his cupid’s bow and the way his hair fell just into his eyes, and jeongguk can feel all sorts of panic again, although a much different kind of panic from being late to work. but it’s panic nonetheless.

he considers just leaving and then calling hoseok and telling him that he’s unexpectedly come down with the flu, and isn’t that sad, and he hopes that both he and yoongi have wonderful lives as he’ll never be seeing either of them again, hopefully. that’s easier, isn’t it, then having to face someone he finds horrendously attractive and has already made a fool of himself in front of and knows, without a doubt, that nothing will ever happen, because they’re just too different. yoongi is—cool. yoongi wears leather and rides a motorcycle. jeongguk, on the other hand, cried thinking about dogs earlier today, so.

so he’s about to leave when the door opens anyway, jeongguk’s hand still poised to knock, and—and there he is.

jeongguk freezes, eyes widening as he stares at yoongi standing in the doorway. his brain sort of just—short circuits, because. because somehow, eight days of distance has managed to make min yoongi even more attractive, like jeongguk had convinced himself that he was romanticizing it all only to be slapped in the face now with yoongi standing there with one hand on the door and the other on his hip, casual.

(and jeongguk was right, he thinks—yoongi’s wearing a t-shirt and his arms are covered in tattoos and he has this thought, strangely, that he kind of just wants to touch them, wants to trace the lines and patterns, wants to memorize them until he can draw them with his eyes closed.)

“hello,” says yoongi, grinning.

“um,” says jeongguk. he realizes that his hand is still raised and quickly puts it down, already flushing when he says, “were you—did you… see me?”

“i got worried that you’d fallen asleep on your feet or something,” says yoongi with an even wider grin, and jeongguk’s eyes flicker to the door; there’s a peep hole, of course. he’s been standing there for five minutes already, debating, and yoongi was just watching him struggle. how mortifying. he might as well just turn around and flee.

when he doesn’t say anything else, yoongi takes a little step back. “wanna come in?” he asks, and jeongguk realizes that he’s wearing a choker. why the fuck is he wearing a choker? how did hoseok allow that knowing damn well that jeongguk has a thing for very nice throats that are very nicely accentuated with very nice throat accessories such as nice fucking chokers?

“jeongguk?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk’s eyes snap upward, to his face.

“yes,” he says quickly. “no. sorry, what was the question?”

that makes yoongi laugh—something swells in jeongguk’s chest—before he takes another step back and opens the door wider, gesturing for jeongguk to come inside. “hoseok’s just finishing dinner. don’t worry about taking your shoes off.” ah yes, hoseok—hoseok who definitely knew that jeongguk was supposed to be showing up about now and probably sent yoongi to be on door duty. because he likes torturing jeongguk, and that’s not fair. nothing about this is fair, but despite his fight or flight response kicking in—or, in jeongguk’s case, flight or flight—he knows that going home would be a mistake.

so he steps inside, ducking his head so he doesn’t have to see yoongi’s grin, and mutters a thanks. and feels very grateful for the wine he’s brought, which probably won’t be much of a gift after all, because he suddenly feels the need to drink it all himself.

remarkably, the dinner goes well—jeongguk tries to keep his head down and not stare at yoongi’s pretty, pretty face every time he says something, but it’s hard. the wine goes very quickly, mostly into jeongguk’s mouth, but hoseok and yoongi have their own liquor cabinet that they break into as they get further into the evening. hoseok is, thankfully, a nice mediator—he likes to talk and can talk a lot, happily asking jeongguk questions and telling all sorts of ridiculous stories about yoongi that have jeongguk giggling. like how they met (they went to high school together, and despite running in different crowds, managed to bond over their mutual love for obscure underground rappers) and what it’s like living together (hoseok started the oven on fire last week, yoongi put said fire out with hoseok’s favourite sweater completely by accident—apparently; it’s still a hot topic of debate between them). there are a lot of stories, most of which jeongguk listens to with an increasing adoration for both of them. he likes their relationship, likes how they talk to each other; there’s something about seeing yoongi with hoseok that makes jeongguk a little jealous, but.

but. when he talks about himself, answering some of the basic questions that yoongi asks and delving deeper with hoseok’s prompting, he has to keep his eyes trained on his plate or the wall or somewhere that isn’t yoongi’s face, because yoongi keeps looking at him like—like. something. like something. but it’s fine.

“he’s a very hard worker,” hoseok is saying over dessert, pointing his fork at jeongguk. “every time i go over to the bookshop, he’s deep in those shelves, trying his hardest to avoid all the customers.”

hyung!” protests jeongguk, cheeks colouring as he glances at yoongi to see him laughing. “that’s not true. i’m not avoiding them, i just… have other things to do. important things.”

“i get it,” says yoongi. “i’m not a huge fan of people either.”

“you can say that again,” says hoseok. “if it wasn’t for me, i don’t think you’d have any friends.”

“it’s not my fault that my bed is much more agreeable than ninety-five percent of the people out there,” says yoongi. “my bed can’t disappoint me.”

“he’s hopeless, guk-ah,” sighs hoseok, leaning back in his seat. “absolutely hopeless. i need you to help me save him from himself. you’ll have to be his second friend in this whole fucking city.”

jeongguk catches his bottom lip between his teeth, chancing a glance at yoongi. it’s not—like he thinks they won’t be friends. the whole point of coming over for dinner was to be properly introduced to yoongi, which he has now been, thanks to hoseok. but that doesn’t mean they’ll be friends, doesn’t mean they’ll work together the way jeongguk works with namjoon and seokjin, or like yoongi works with hoseok. they’re not always so lucky. but yoongi is grinning at him, stuffing a piece of dessert in his mouth, and jeongguk thinks—maybe. maybe.

“well,” says jeongguk after a moment, picking at the sleeves of his sweater to distract himself. “i’ll see what i can do about that. i guess it would be nice to have another friend who can drive me around.” across from him, yoongi chuckles, and jeongguk realizes they already have a bit of an inside joke between them.

“so you’re just going to use me?” asks yoongi. “doesn’t sound like a very fair friendship to me.”

“i’m sure jeongguk has something to offer you in return,” hoseok says, and jeongguk looks over to throw him a warning look. the truth is that jeongguk probably doesn’t have much to offer yoongi—not anything that is equal to free rides around the city. jeongguk just has… himself. and he’s inclined to think that’s not really enough. “he’s very good at massages.”

jeongguk flushes. “i only give you massages because you’re always complaining very loudly about how much your shoulders hurt all the time,” he mutters.

“he does that with you, too?” asks yoongi. “god, i swear his first language is complaining. but he always does it in a way that’s just asking for something from you even if he won’t say it. so then he makes you offer rather than him asking.”

“yeah, all the time!” grins jeongguk. “a few days ago, he came into the store and immediately told me that it had been so long since anyone told him that they liked his hair, and i was like, do you want me to say that i like your hair, and he was like, oh, i would never fish for compliments like that.”

excuse me,” says hoseok as both jeongguk and yoongi start laughing. “this isn’t roast hoseok hour. i’m supposed to be embarrassing you.

“i’m very hard to embarrass, hoseok-ah,” says yoongi. “as you already know. i have a very thick shell.” it looks like that, anyway—everything about yoongi screams guarded and impenetrable. even just from spending these few hours with him, jeongguk can tell that appearances aren’t anything, but he’s still not sure that yoongi and hoseok could go toe to toe with embarrassing stories. yoongi’s just very—nonchalant about everything.

“yeah, good luck with that, jeongguk-ah,” says hoseok, leaning over the table toward him, and jeongguk blinks over at him. it almost sounds like he’s just handing yoongi over. which—is weird. sounds too much like hoseok is giving them his blessing for something that hasn’t even happened yet.

their laughter dies down, jeongguk feeling just buzzed enough from the alcohol to not be as nervous as he was when he showed up. he still can’t quite look yoongi in the eye, preferring to keep his gaze trained somewhere around yoongi’s chin if they have to look at each other—although that’s not as helpful as he wants, because then he can see yoongi’s lips, and yoongi’s lips are. very nice. especially when he talks, especially when he licks them, especially when he grins, and—yeah. yeah.

“i’m gonna start dishes,” announces hoseok, getting up from the table. yoongi begins to rise, intending to help out, but hoseok gestures for him to sit. “i’ve got it. jeongguk here is our honoured guest and someone has to keep him company so he doesn’t start stealing things.”

“hey,” pouts jeongguk. “i wouldn’t steal anything.”

“i’ve seen you eying the record collection,” says hoseok with a tut of his tongue, and jeongguk can’t really argue with that. so hoseok gathers their plates and brings them into the kitchen, leaving both yoongi and jeongguk sitting at the dining table, and. suddenly jeongguk realizes that his lack of nerves had less to do with the alcohol and more to do with hoseok; it’s easy to be in any situation with hoseok, because hoseok is comforting and familiar. he seems to know how to deal with anything, and he’s been the mediator all evening between jeongguk and yoongi. he led the conversation, led the dinner, and jeongguk could rely on him to cut the tension if either he or yoongi didn’t know what to say.

but now. now it’s just he and yoongi, and suddenly, his stomach is in knots again. he doesn’t know how to exist with yoongi—not when he can’t stop thinking about how pretty yoongi is and how nice he is and how much he wants to lick his tattoos, and what the fuck, that’s not what he thought earlier. jeongguk realizes that perhaps the alcohol is now having detrimental effects.

thankfully, yoongi seems to be in control of his motor functions, because hoseok has only been gone for a few seconds before he leans a little over the table and asks, “do you wanna take a look?”

jeongguk’s eyes snap upward, widening like a deer caught in the headlights. did he accidentally say the thing about licking yoongi’s tattoos out loud? “at… what?” asks jeongguk.

“the record collection,” says yoongi, and—oh. oh yeah.

“sure,” says jeongguk, and lets yoongi lead the way into the little living room; it’s dotted with shelves, most of which are filled with books and records and trinkets that he imagines each have their own stories. he likes the apartment—feels like it’s lived in, feels like it’s someone’s home. he can see bits of both yoongi and hoseok, coming together in the record collection, which makes sense—music was what connected them in the first place.

jeongguk does his best to pay attention as yoongi pulls out different records and shows them to jeongguk, telling stories about his favourites or where he got them from, but—but jeongguk can’t concentrate when they’re standing this close to each other, arms brushing once in a while when yoongi moves. he can’t concentrate when yoongi is talking like that, voice low and rough, slipping more and more into his own dialect when he gets excited about what he’s talking about. he can’t concentrate when yoongi is just—there.

so jeongguk kind of just… stops trying to pay attention, watching yoongi’s face as he talks. he’s so pretty. so, so fucking pretty, and nice, and it’s weird, because jeongguk probably shouldn’t like him. jeongguk wears pastels and refuses to watch horror movies and has never broken a rule in his entire life. jeongguk should probably want to stay far, far away from yoongi, but—here he is. here he is, and his heart is tripping over itself to get that much closer.

“so what do you think?” yoongi finally asks, turning to look at jeongguk, and jeongguk is jerked out of his thoughts when he realizes he hasn’t retained anything that yoongi has been talking about.

so he says, “oh, um. this is all really cool,” as his flushes just a little. he’s quick to turn his gaze to the shelves, not wanting to make it seem like he’d been caught staring. he reaches out carefully, brushing his fingers over the records. “it’s cool that you’re so passionate about music.”

“hoseok tells me that you want to be a singer,” says yoongi, and jeongguk nods a little.

“i like singing,” says jeongguk with a small shrug. “i don’t know if i’m good enough to make it big, but… that’s why i’m saving up for lessons. it’s the only thing i can really see myself doing in the future, so i thought i’d try it out.”

“that’s really cool, jeongguk,” says yoongi, and when jeongguk glances at him, he looks so sincere and honest that it makes something flip inside of him. “i’m sure you’re great, though. don’t doubt yourself. that’s not going to help you get very far.”

“okay,” whispers jeongguk. “i’ll try.”

yoongi’s grin widens. “i used to want to get into music when i was in high school, actually,” he says. “that’s why i was into those obscure underground rappers—i wanted to be one.”

“really?” asks jeongguk.

“oh, yeah, i was super cool,” laughs yoongi. “but… i dunno. after a while, i realized it wasn’t where my passions really were. i like music and i like rapping, but i ultimately wanted to keep it as just a hobby.”

it’s only then that jeongguk realizes he doesn’t actually know what yoongi does. so he asks, “what did you decide to do, then? where are your passions?”

“human resources,” says yoongi, and jeongguk—stares at him. yoongi laughs. “surprising, no? you probably expect someone like me to work at a bar or in a mechanic shop or something. but that’s what i went to school for—human resources. i find it really interesting.”

that’s the thing about yoongi, he thinks—he’s not at all what jeongguk might have expected him to be, and he’s constantly challenging the preconceived notions that jeongguk has just from what yoongi looks like. he might dress one way but act another, making up this sort of enigma forming in jeongguk’s mind. he’s sure he could spend his whole life trying to understand min yoongi and never get there in the end. (but—even now, he thinks he might like to try.)

“so that’s your job now?” asks jeongguk.

“ah, not yet,” admits yoongi, turning away from the shelf. he wanders the room for a second before he collapses on the sofa. “i’ve been applying for jobs but haven’t gotten one yet. i would like to work in a hospital or the government, if possible, but, um—for now, i’m actually working at build-a-bear.”

jeongguk immediately clamps down on the inside of his cheek, trying to keep himself from giggling. he can’t help it—the mental image of this grey-haired, tattoo-covered man helping children make stuffed animals to love and cherish forever is too funny. actually, it’s cute. apparently he’s not so good at hiding his amusement, though, because yoongi himself lets out a chuckle, shaking his head. “laugh all you want,” he says. “it’s pretty funny. you wouldn’t expect me to work there any more than you’d expect me to be in human resources.”

“you’re very strange, min yoongi,” says jeongguk, tilting his head. “you’re not at all like what i expected.”

“and what did you expect?” asks yoongi. he leans forward, elbows on his knees, and surveys jeongguk from across the room. as much as jeongguk wants to go over there, he feels like it’s better to be here, where he can convince himself it’s best to keep a safe distance. he’s not tipsy enough to make a stupid decision, but he doesn’t want to take his chances. he likes yoongi—likes yoongi so much that it makes his toes curl, and he doesn’t want to ruin that somehow, whatever this is: new and growing and delicate.

so jeongguk turns away from yoongi, looking at the shelves instead. he runs his fingers over the records, the books, the framed pictures. he’s about to answer when he spots something familiar—on one of the shelves, nestled between a little cactus and a framed photo of hoseok and yoongi, is a collection of books that jeongguk distinctly remembers selling hoseok the first time they met. he remembers, suddenly, that hoseok bought them for his roommate—his roommate, who is yoongi.

“did you… read all of these?” he asks suddenly, turning around and pointing at the books: all seven of jane austen’s books. it had been very expensive, if he remembers correctly.

yoongi looks at him for a second before he says, “i’m halfway through mansfield park, although i’ve read all of them several times before, so… yes, technically. jane austen is one of my favourite authors.”

jeongguk stares at him. and then he turns around to stare at the books again.that’s what i mean,” he admits. “you ride a motorcycle and have grey hair and tattoos. i guess i assumed you’d be… a bartender, like you said, or a security guard at a club or something… dangerous. you look like you should be dangerous. you look like you shouldn’t have jane austen as one of your favourite authors.” he doesn’t look at yoongi as he says it, afraid of his reaction. instead, he just keeps going. “you look like you should smoke and get into fights all the time and not give a shit about anyone but yourself. you know, like—heath ledger in 10 things i hate about you, or kylo ren or whatever.”

after a moment, yoongi asks, “you think i’m kylo ren?”

“i don’t know,” huffs jeongguk, peeking over his shoulder. “i don’t watch star trek.”

“star wars.”

“whatever,” mutters jeongguk, turning back to the shelf. that’s not the point he was trying to make, although now—he’s not sure what point he was trying to make in the first place. maybe he’s just trying to convince himself that it’s okay to like yoongi, okay to like him more than he did at first once he’s finding out that yoongi is so much more than just the motorcycle and the pretty eyes, although jeongguk really likes those things, too—the things that yoongi represents. there’s something dangerous about him, even if he works at build-a-bear. something that makes jeongguk feel like he’s breaking a rule by even looking at him, and jeongguk doesn’t like breaking rules, but.

but. he’d break a lot of rules for min yoongi.

“well,” says yoongi, finally, after the silence has dragged on long enough. jeongguk turns around to look at him, sees him lounging against the sofa with a smirk on his lips. “i do ride a motorcycle and have grey hair and tattoos. and i do have a degree in human resources and work at build-a-bear and love jane austen. and i do care about people other than myself. but i also smoke.” jeongguk’s eyebrows rise. “and i’ve gotten in fights before, and i have gotten arrested before.”

jeongguk stares at him. “for what?”

“nothing the other guy didn’t deserve.”

and jeongguk thinks—maybe he was a little too quick to judge either way. maybe yoongi can be the bad boy and sweet at the same time. maybe jeongguk is just very confused and more than a little aroused right now, even though everything in him is telling him that he shouldn’t be.

“o-oh,” he says after a moment, clearing his throat. yoongi continues to smirk at him.

“don’t worry, though,” says yoongi. “i’m not planning on robbing any banks or anything. you don’t have to worry about me being a bad influence on you, jeongguk.”

“i wasn’t worried about that,” says jeongguk quickly. “i just find it… interesting.”

“what about you?”

“what about me?”

yoongi tilts his head. “are you hiding things that are going to ruin my expectations of you, too?”

it’s strange—up until that moment, jeongguk hadn’t thought about yoongi having expectations of him. he’d been too busy thinking about who yoongi was to realize that yoongi was probably thinking the same thing about him, making assumptions based on his appearance and demeanour. and he can only imagine what yoongi has come to think.

jeongguk clasps his hands in front of him, rocking a little on his heels as he says, “depends what your expectations are.”

for the first time, when yoongi looks at him, jeongguk feels a thrill of something shoot up his spine—it’s not fear, but something close to it. something about how yoongi could devour him whole, could ruin him, and jeongguk would just let him. that’s what this is: yoongi has so much power over him already, just because jeongguk likes him. just because jeongguk wants to talk to him, wants to spend time with him, wants to prove all of his inhibitions wrong. and yoongi gets up from the sofa, wandering back over to jeongguk with that dark, careful look in his eyes—feels like he can see right through jeongguk, can see right down into the bottom of his heart.

despite being taller, jeongguk feels small when yoongi approaches him, gets close enough that they’re practically breathing the same air. jeongguk swallows tightly as yoongi crowds him against the shelf, closer and closer, that smirk still etched on his lips. and then yoongi reaches out and takes his hand, turning it over and tracing over the lines of his palms. the action has jeongguk sucking in a breath, stomach flipping at the touch, staring at the top of yoongi’s head where he’s looking down.

“let’s see,” says yoongi quietly. “you wear soft, bright colours. you’re shy, don’t like talking to people unless you have to. your hair is super fluffy and your eyes are about the size of the fucking moon.” jeongguk blushes—just in time for yoongi to look up and then grin. “and that—you blush a lot. every time i say anything to you, just about, so you must be easily flustered. you like singing, you don’t like dangerous things. you’re nice, jeon jeongguk. you’re a baby.”

jeongguk tries not to blush at that, but he can’t help it—can’t help that being called a baby gets him as flustered as everything else, even though he snatches his hand away from yoongi and pouts instead when he says, “i’m not a baby. i’m a nineteen-year-old man who can take care of himself.”

yoongi just grins at him, showing all of his teeth like a predator—and jeongguk’s stomach is still in knots, unsure how to deal with having yoongi this close, looking like he wants to take a bite right out of jeongguk. “sure,” he says, leaning a little closer before he whispers, “baby.

of course, hoseok chooses that exact moment to enter the room—the moment in which jeongguk is practically pressed up against the shelf, red from head to toe at the pet name. there’s something about it coming out of yoongi’s mouth that has too strong of an effect on him, toes curling in his shoes as he tries to keep himself from doing or something stupid—from whimpering like he wants to. and yoongi knows, of course, what he’s doing, too eager to play this little game that only he knows the rules of. jeongguk is entirely at his mercy.

and he shouldn’t like it—he shouldn’t like feeling small like this, shouldn’t want yoongi to say it again and again and again, but. but. when hoseok announces his presence with a, “what did i miss?” and yoongi immediately steps away from him, turning to look at his roommate with a much more docile grin, jeongguk can only let out the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding, will himself not to pop a boner in the middle of a very friendly dinner, and remind himself that he and yoongi are opposites in a lot of ways—the bad boy and the baby boy, hard and soft, rebellious and goody two shoes. they shouldn’t work. they shouldn’t want to.

but yoongi looks at him again, just briefly, when hoseok says something about missing the record collection tour, and jeongguk thinks—shit. shit shit shit. there’s no way he’s coming back from this.

later, yoongi drives him home. it’s a decision that hoseok makes, and one that jeongguk vehemently protests, but it’s late by the time he thinks to head home and the buses run much slower by then. hoseok argues that he’s not going to send jeongguk out this late at night when there are perfectly good vehicles sitting outside, and when jeongguk finally relents, he’s about to ask if hoseok can drive when yoongi pipes up instead with an, “and here i thought you said you weren’t going to need someone to rescue you again.”

“it’s not rescuing if i didn’t miss the bus,” says jeongguk, already pulling on his coat at the door. “but if you’re so determined to be my knight in shining armour…” and yoongi grins at him, wide like a shark, and so jeongguk ends up on a motorcycle for the second time in a week, despite all of his reservations.

it’s not any less scary this time, and he holds onto yoongi just as tightly. it’s a longer ride than from his apartment to the bookshop, and he tries to spend the eighteen minutes and thirty-one seconds not being terrified. instead, he spends it thinking about yoongi. thinking about the way he’d laughed over dinner when jeongguk told a joke, or the way he’d looked at hoseok when they were talking about their time as teenagers, back in daegu. he thinks about how yoongi had admitted that he works at build-a-bear, but also how he’d gotten arrested once, and how he’d said both as though they didn’t have to be in opposition.

he thinks, too, of how yoongi had crowded him against the shelf, admitted all of those things that he already knows about jeongguk. how he called him baby.

jeongguk shivers at the thought, pressed up against yoongi’s back, and pretends it’s because he’s cold.

yoongi drops him off just outside of his apartment, letting the motorcycle run idle as jeongguk clambers off of it and waits for yoongi to take the helmet off. he could do it himself, probably, but—he likes yoongi’s hands on his chin, likes their faces this close once yoongi has taken off his own helmet and is kind of looking at him, kind of not. his hair is matted against his forehead, makes him look a little less put together until he runs a hand through it and jeongguk has to look away.

when jeongguk takes off his helmet, handing it to yoongi, he finds himself stalling. finds himself realizing that the evening went by too quickly, finds himself wanting to get back on that bike and go wherever yoongi wants to. something has shifted here, or been planted, has begun to grow—yoongi is just as ridiculously pretty as the first time jeongguk saw him, maybe prettier now that jeongguk knows more about him. but he’s not so panicked when he looks at yoongi anymore, just—feels the knots in his stomach from something more like want.

that’s what it is: want. he wants, doesn’t know what to do with it.

but yoongi is going to leave again, because that’s how this works. so jeongguk blurts out the first thing he thinks of, the only thing to keep him here a little longer—“coffee,” he says as yoongi gets back on the bike, and then turns to look at him.

“pardon?”

“i drink black coffee,” says jeongguk, and then realizes that it might sound like he’s asking yoongi for something—even though he is, maybe, even though he wants to. “your expectations—you probably expect that i like things with lots of sugar. sweet things. but i drink black coffee.”

yoongi’s lips curl into a little grin, like he’s impressed. “alright,” he says. “you win this one, jeongguk. i didn’t expect you to drink black coffee.”

“so we’re even,” says jeongguk. “you work at build-a-bear and i drink black coffee.”

“you’re still a baby.”

jeongguk juts his chin out. “goodbye,” he says, already taking a few steps back toward the apartment building. yoongi continues to sit and watch him, glowing under the streetlight and the moonlight. jeongguk is overwhelmed and terrified and wants. wants wants wants.

“aren’t you forgetting something?” asks yoongi finally, making jeongguk pause.

“um… thank you,” says jeongguk. yoongi tilts his head, and jeongguk thinks—oh. blushes just a little, and then hesitates, wonders—wonders if he should. but he wants. of course he wants, because he always wants when it comes to yoongi. after a second, then, he begins walking forward instead, trying not to focus on the smug look on yoongi’s face when he realizes that he’s getting what he wants, too. and jeongguk gets to yoongi, pausing a little before he reaches out and grasps one of his hands into yoongi’s leather jacket, and then tugs forward until he can lean down and press his lips to yoongi’s cheek.

then he’s backing away just as quickly as he came, hoping that the cover of night will hide his flustered appearance, although he swears yoongi’s cheeks are pink, too. he tries to keep his lips in a straight line, too, although fails entirely as he walks backwards and away from yoongi, keeping an eye on him the entire time.

when jeongguk gets to the door, yoongi finally calls out. says, “goodnight jeon jeongguk, black coffee connoisseur.”

jeongguk presses his lips together to keep himself from smiling. calls back, “goodnight min yoongi, build-a-bear employee.” he leaves it at that, trying to silence everything else that bubbles up inside of him—i like you i like you i like you a lot. just watches yoongi for another moment, and then turns around and hurries into the apartment.

his back hits the door as he closes it behind him, pressing himself against it for a long moment as he just—breathes. and tries to wrap his mind around all of it, tries to stop feeling so overwhelmed and assaulted with all of these feelings. reasonably, he shouldn’t like yoongi that much. he’s had about two conversations with him, has known him for a week. but he can’t help it. jeongguk can never help it.

he wants to run, wants to dive into bed and hide under the covers and scream into his pillow, but he doesn’t even get through the kitchen before there’s a shout of, “excuse me, dearest darling jeon jeongguk!” and he comes to a skidding stop, socks sliding against the tiled floor as he turns and sees namjoon and seokjin sitting at the kitchen table, two mugs between them. the kitchen table, which—is next to a very large window that looks out onto the street. the street which yoongi just dropped jeongguk off on.

jeongguk’s eyes widen.

“um,” he begins.

“you said it wasn’t a date,” says seokjin, lifting his mug to his lips and taking a very loud and dramatic sip.

jeongguk says, “it wasn’t a date.”

“namjoon-ah,” says seokjin. “what did we just witness with our own two eyes?”

“seokjin-hyung,” says namjoon, although he’s looking right at jeongguk, who has never felt more like he’s being interrogated in his entire life. “with our own two eyes—wait, wouldn’t it be four eyes…”

“that’s not the point.”

“right, anyway,” says namjoon. “what we saw was our little jeonggukkie getting a ride home from a very interesting man on a motorcycle and then kissing him on the cheek.”

“oh my god,” whispers jeongguk, already slapping both of his hands over his eyes. he does not need to hear or see or generally be present for this. see, as much as he loves his roommates, they share a single braincell between the two of them and aren’t afraid to show it, and they’re always teasing him. they know he can take it, of course, know his boundaries, but they’ve never had to tease him about a boy before. which means he just knows they’re going to have so much fun with this.

“it was very interesting, wouldn’t you say, namjoon-ah?” asks seokjin, and jeongguk spins around, peeking through his fingers as he makes a beeline for his bedroom.

“very interesting, seokjin-hyung,” says namjoon.

“hey, don’t run away from us, young man!”

“you’re not my dad!” jeongguk calls back.

“did he treat you nicely?” yells seokjin as jeongguk darts into his room, slamming the door behind him. “did he treat you nicely?

“it wasn’t a date!” jeongguk yells.

he waits a few seconds, hoping that they’ve given up, and then he hears namjoon’s voice, quieter—“it was totally a date.”

and it wasn’t. (but maybe jeongguk wouldn’t mind if it had been.)

the next morning, jeongguk wakes to a text from an unknown number. knows who it is, anyway, just from the message: i can’t stand black coffee. jeongguk lets himself sink even further into his bed, grinning at the screen for a second before he texts back, are you being mean about my preferences?

yoongi texts, expectations. people might think i like black coffee and you like sugary coffee but it’s the other way around.

jeongguk texts, and also you work at build-a-bear.

and yoongi texts, also i work at build-a-bear. (got your number from hoseok, i hope it isn’t weird.)

it’s not weird. in fact, it’s okay—it’s very, very okay. he has to day off of his work, which mean he spends hours wandering around the apartment and staring at his phone, waiting for yoongi to text him back, to tease him again, to ask him questions. jeongguk had plans—things he had to do, errands he had to run. but he spends the entire day waiting for yoongi and feels like it’s going to be a common theme now—knowing that yoongi is the more forward of the two of them, less shy. more willing to take the risks, to take the leaps for them, and jeongguk is more than willing to let him.

by the time he’s wasted the entire day on his phone, giggling when yoongi sends him outdated memes and an extremely unfair selfie to set as his contact photo, even namjoon and seokjin have noticed—when they get home, anyway. he doesn’t let them tease, disappearing into his room instead.

when do you work next? yoongi asks.

tomorrow, replies jeongguk. nine thirty. don’t worry, i won’t miss the bus again.

i wasn’t worried, says yoongi, then—okay, maybe i was a little worried. and jeongguk thinks about yoongi thinking about him, worrying about him, hoping that he won’t need rescuing again—or maybe hoping he does, maybe wanting an excuse to show up at jeongguk’s apartment again.

he doesn’t need the excuse, though—the next morning, jeongguk wakes up on time. goes through the motions of his morning routine, each taking just as long and just as short as they should. he wears his adult clothes, puts his contacts in. it’s as he’s doing his hair that there’s a short knock at his door, and then namjoon’s head peeking in.

“i don’t mean to alarm you,” he says, and jeongguk puts down his comb, “but that motorcycle guy from the other day is sitting outside the apartment.”

jeongguk blinks at him. and then—half-panicked, because this isn’t part of the routine, and he doesn’t have time to go outside and help yoongi with whatever he needs, and he’s going to be late somehow if he does, and that’ll be twice in a week and a half, and then they will fire him—he pads his way across the apartment and out of the door, stepping out onto the stoop of the apartment as he looks out at the street and sees that, indeed, the motorcycle guy from the other day is sitting on the curb.

“yoongi?” asks jeongguk, confusion colouring his face as yoongi gets off of his bike, heading up the sidewalk with both his helmet and the my little pony helmet under his arms.

“yoongi-hyung,” yoongi corrects him, coming to a stop on the step below him and holding out the helmet. “hello, jeon jeongguk, who is… wearing socks with ducks on them.” jeongguk looks down at his socked feet, then back to yoongi. “ready to go?”

jeongguk stares. “am i—pardon?”

“are you ready to go?” repeats yoongi.

“where are we going?”

“to the bookshop.” yoongi’s got this look on his face, like he’s confused about jeongguk’s confusion, but—fucking hell, he still looks ridiculously nice. he’s wearing a choker again, jeongguk notes. for a moment, he fixates on it and then shakes himself out of it when he remembers that yoongi isn’t supposed to be here.

“why are we going to the bookshop?” asks jeongguk.

yoongi lets out this strange, aborted laugh. “you said you have a shift at nine-thirty,” he says. “or was that cancelled?”

finally, jeongguk begins to put the pieces together—a little belatedly, maybe, but he’s been known to be slow on the uptake sometimes. “are you…” he finally says, peering past yoongi’s shoulder at his bike for a second. “are you here to drive me to work?”

“yes,” says yoongi, like that should have been obvious. should it have been obvious?

“um,” says jeongguk, feeling warmth bloom in the pit of his stomach, rising up up up until it comes out of his mouth in a weirdly fond, “why?”

“because i want to,” says yoongi, “and i figure it’s easier than you taking the bus. you won’t have to worry about missing your ride this way.”

“that was one time,” blushes jeongguk. “you really don’t have to drive me to work, yoongi-hyung. i can take the bus just fine.”

“i’m already here,” says yoongi with a shrug, like he just happened to be driving by at the right time and figured it would be nice if he offered to drive jeongguk to work again. and—jeongguk realizes, after a second, that that’s exactly what yoongi is trying to pass this off as. he’s trying to make it seem like this is completely coincidental, like he totally didn’t plan this out last night when he asked jeongguk when his next shift was.

and that, too, has warmth blooming in jeongguk’s stomach—the idea that maybe yoongi likes him, too, maybe yoongi wants to spend more time with him, too. maybe he’s not alone in all of this.

rather than call yoongi out on it—because jeongguk isn’t that forward, because he’s shy, because maybe he wants to keep this delicate and light and careful—he just looks down at his socked feet and wiggles his toes. “well, i’m not quite ready to go yet,” he says. “you came a little early, so i haven’t eaten breakfast yet.” he looks back at yoongi, teeth catching on his bottom lip before he takes a little step back, up onto the doorstep. “you can wait inside, though, if you want.” his stomach curls into knots at the thought, at having yoongi in this part of his life, too; it’s only fair since he’s been to yoongi’s apartment already, but. but.

he forgets about namjoon until he turns around and leads yoongi inside, beginning to explain that he should be ready in twenty minutes at the most, and then—namjoon is standing in the kitchen, awkwardly leaning against the table with one hand, and then standing up straight when jeongguk and yoongi enter the room, and then going back to leaning against the table, like he can’t decide how he wants to stand.

namjoon’s eyes flicker over jeongguk’s shoulder and then back, and he raises an eyebrow. jeongguk throws him a wide-eyed warning look, one that clearly says, don’t say anything.

“namjoon-hyung, this is yoongi. yoongi-hyung, this is namjoon,” says jeongguk before namjoon can try to introduce himself, probably with something like i’m his seoul dad, don’t think about doing anything funny. “he’s one of my roommates, doing a master’s degree, probably has somewhere to be. right, namjoon-hyung?” jeongguk gives him another pointed look, and namjoon reaches for the mug on the table.

“nope,” he says. “i don’t have class until the afternoon.” he’s grinning, shit-eating. jeongguk resists the urge to do something he’ll likely regret, and turns around to grin at yoongi instead.

“okay, well,” he says. “i’m just… going to finish doing my hair. please don’t believe anything namjoon-hyung says about me.” it’s a terrible idea to leave them alone—partially because jeongguk doesn’t trust namjoon not to say something embarrassing, but also because he’s worried that they’ll like each other, and jeongguk wants to keep yoongi all to himself, at least for now, at least until their friendship isn’t so new and terrifying. but he retreats to his bedroom, hopeful that he can leave them alone for five minutes. from the kitchen, he hears yoongi say, “you’re doing a master’s degree? i considered doing one myself,” and then he shuts the door.

so—yoongi drives him to work.

so—yoongi keeps driving him to work.

what jeongguk thinks will be a one-time occurrence continues time and time again, yoongi asking when jeongguk’s next shift is and casually showing up at his apartment to drive him. sometimes he claims that he’s just in the neighbourhood, but jeongguk knows better. and he doesn’t say anything, because the truth is that he likes it—likes when there’s a knock at the door, a new distinct pattern every morning, and he opens the door to see yoongi leaning against the doorframe, clad in a leather jacket and ripped jeans and a smirk that could put jeongguk in the ground on a good day. he likes it when yoongi comes in and sits at his kitchen table or explores the living room, occasionally asking jeongguk questions about pictures or books or his roommates.

he likes when yoongi is—there. he doesn’t like riding a motorcycle, but it’s much easier to deal with when he’s riding a motorcycle with min yoongi, having an excuse to press up against his back and hang on tightly. most of all, he likes saying goodbye, because yoongi will take jeongguk’s helmet off and turn his face just a little, and jeongguk will lean forward, giving him a kiss on the cheek, and yoongi will look at him like jeongguk is christmas come early, and jeongguk will say goodbye and run into the bookshop, hoping that no one sees how flushed he is.

it’s their thing: yoongi drives him to work and jeongguk kisses him on the cheek as a thank-you and then they go their separate ways. after two weeks, the butterflies haven’t died down at all when he hears yoongi knock on the door—and the teasing comments from seokjin or namjoon or both, depending on who’s home at the time, haven’t gotten any less embarrassing—but it’s not so new. jeongguk doesn’t feel like he’s going to pass out every time it happens anymore, and he thinks—it’s good, it’s growing. but he’s not afraid to help it grow a little more.

so, after those two weeks, when yoongi drops him off outside of the bookshop and takes his helmet off and turns his face, waiting for the kiss, jeongguk—hesitates. licks his lips, watches the way yoongi’s face falls just a little, and then looks back at the shop. “d’you—” he begins, toes curling in his shoes as he worries at the hem of his shirt, making himself smaller in his nervousness. “do you have somewhere to be?”

yoongi’s eyebrows furrow, but he shakes his head.

“do you—maybe…” jeongguk begins, focusing on the hollow of yoongi’s throat rather than his face, rather than his careful, pretty eyes. “um. do you want to come in? i can show you around and try to sell you books you don’t need.”

“don’t you have real work to do?” asks yoongi, teasing—always teasing.

“no one comes to a bookshop at nine in the morning, hyung,” protests jeongguk, even though they do, but—he doesn’t want yoongi to go just yet, feeling like he’s not sure how else to spend time with yoongi. and he could just ask, probably, if yoongi wants to go for coffee sometime or hang out outside of driving him to work, but. this is him trying. jeongguk is doing his best.

thankfully, yoongi seems to realize that—seems to realize that jeongguk trying to be friends with someone takes its time, but has its worth. so he says, “sure. i’d love hear you nerd out about books and pretend to be interested.”

hyung.

“i’m kidding,” says yoongi. “as long as you still kiss me goodbye after.” and jeongguk huffs, turning around and walking into the shop so yoongi doesn’t have to see just how much he likes that idea.

that’s how they end up here—with yoongi trailing after jeongguk with his arms full of books, holding them so that jeongguk can shelve them when they get to the right part of the store. and jeongguk rambling about his favourite books, the floodgates opening with the right questions; he doesn’t talk a lot, not normally, but he can’t help it here, now. yoongi doesn’t seem to mind.

“i just think, you know, that it’s really cool how these stories have been retold throughout history,” says jeongguk, grabbing a small stack of shakespeare plays from yoongi’s hands to begin shelving. “i’m sure you’ve heard about how there are basically, like, only seven stories in the entire world—a quest, rags to riches, tragedy, rebirth, all that stuff. but i like this tolstoy quote; he said, all great literature is one of two stories: a man goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. and if you think about it, that’s so true, how you can fit all of your favourite books and plays and whatever into that.” he shoves romeo and juliet into the shelf, grinning as he points at it. “like—this one. this one is probably a stranger comes to town, because that’s how they meet in the beginning, right, and then they fall in love and all of that shit happens, but it happens because a stranger comes to town.” he grabs king lear—“this one is a man goes on a journey, though, since he’s exiled from his own home, right, and has to figure out how to deal with it. isn’t it interesting, hyung?”

he turns around, finally, grinning at yoongi, and—yoongi is staring back at him, with a look on his face that jeongguk can only describe as fond. can only described as a special sort of enamoured, like how jeongguk was looking at yoongi when he was talking about music and not paying attention at all.

jeongguk—turns back to the bookshelf, trying to stop himself from grinning.

belatedly, yoongi says, “yeah.”

“yeah,” repeats jeongguk, putting another book into the shelf. “do you like shakespeare, hyung?”

“i didn’t like studying him in high school,” says yoongi. “but i think that might have been the teacher’s fault, not shakespeare’s.”

“shakespeare is my favourite,” says jeongguk. “i think my gay awakening was leonardo dicaprio in the 1996 version of romeo and juliet.

“i’ve never seen it,” says yoongi, and jeongguk turns to look at him so quickly he almost gives himself whiplash.

what?

“i’ve… never seen it?” repeats yoongi, looking a little sheepish now. “i don’t know, i don’t watch a lot of romance movies.”

“what, they’re not cool enough for you? you probably watch fight club and 300.

“hey, there’s nothing wrong with those movies.”

“so i’m right,” says jeongguk, rolling his eyes as he grabs another book to shelve. “there’s nothing wrong with romantic movies, either, you know.”

yoongi snorts. “i didn’t say there was anything wrong with them. and i’ll have you know i’m a big fan of disney movies and action movies. i’m a very versatile person.”

“oh, he’s sensitive, too,” says jeongguk, and can’t help grinning a little as yoongi gives him a gentle shove now that his hands are free. he supposes he has to stop assuming things about yoongi, should let himself learn instead. “we’ll just have to watch it, then,” he adds after a moment, keeping his eyes trained on the books. “i have two different copies of it because namjoon-hyung and seokjin-hyung both got it for me separately as house-warming gifts.”

“sounds like something they’d do,” muses yoongi.

“is that a yes?” asks jeongguk, peeking over at him. he tries to imagine watching romeo and juliet with yoongi, knowing he’s always distraught for hours afterwards, but—maybe that’s part of it. maybe it would be nice to have something other than his own pillow to comfort him after.

yoongi grins at him, turns to the shelf too and runs a finger over the spines of the books. “only if you watch fight club with me,” he says. “it’s only fair.”

jeongguk wrinkles his nose, but—but. just like with the motorcycle, he realizes that there are some things he’s willing to stomach if it means being close to yoongi. it’s all about compromise.

before he can reply, though, there’s a call of, “jeongguk!” from across the store, and jeongguk pales before he turns around to see his boss at the register, watching him. she’d been very nice about letting yoongi loiter, at least once jeongguk stuttered through an explanation that he’s a friend and jeongguk just wanted to show him around.

“little less talking, a little more working?” she suggests, and jeongguk feels embarrassment bubble up inside of him as he nods his head, quickly turning around and staring hard at the books. he’s never liked being reprimanded, too easily embarrassed and sensitive for that kind of thing, but—it’s not that big of a deal, he tells himself. it’s not that big of a deal.

also yoongi is standing right there, and jeongguk doesn’t want him to think that he’s a child who doesn’t know how to be reprimanded once in a while. he blinks a few times, trying to keep himself from doing something stupid like crying, and then yoongi says, “guk-ah?” and jeongguk’s gaze snaps to him, bottom lip wobbling just a little.

“hey,” says yoongi. “you’re doing good. how about you meet me at starbucks during your break? i’ll go bother hoseok for a while and get him in trouble instead.” and jeongguk likes that about him—likes that yoongi seems to just know, seems to get it, and doesn’t draw attention to it. he knows when to tease, knows when to be kind and gentle. jeongguk takes a deep breath and then nods, already going back to working with the books so his boss doesn’t have another excuse to get angry at him.

and then yoongi shuffles closer, practically pressed to his side, and jeongguk—freezes. against his ear, yoongi says, “didn’t you promise me something?” jeongguk’s stomach swoops, forgetting that yoongi can do that—that as nice and gentle as he is, he knows exactly how to push jeongguk’s buttons, knows just how to twist him just right. knows how to play.

jeongguk leans back a little, turning his face to look at yoongi—like this, they’re only inches away from each other, and yoongi is smirking, and jeongguk isn’t sure what to do about that. he clears his throat, though, gently reaching up and grasping yoongi’s chin so he can turn his head sideways, leaning forward to give him their customary cheek kiss.

he can feel yoongi’s cheek move under his lips, can feel him grin. “goodbye, min yoongi, who has questionable taste in movies,” he mutters as he pulls away.

yoongi grins at him, and then breaks all the fucking rules when he leans forward and pecks the tip of jeongguk’s nose, says, “bye, baby,” and then turns around and leaves, like it’s just—okay. like it doesn’t make jeongguk’s heart clench inside of him, turning back to stare at the books and… not do anything for a solid three minutes, unsure how he’s supposed to function normally after something like that.

he does meet yoongi later, when he gets his lunch break and can sneak over to starbucks. jeongguk does not look for hoseok behind the counter, instead searching for a familiar head of grey hair; he spots yoongi near the back of the coffee shop, two cups already on the table, and jeongguk takes a deep breath before he joins him.

“you’ve already had two cups of coffee?” asks jeongguk when he sits down. “that’s not good for you, you know.”

“hello, jeon jeongguk, worry wart. that one’s for you,” says yoongi, gesturing to the cup closest to jeongguk. “i already told you i can’t stand black coffee.”

it is black coffee—easy enough to order, and jeongguk grins into the cup as he takes a sip. yoongi lets him try his, too, some sugary mocha or macchiato or something that honestly should be banned from the country, and jeongguk makes a face when he tastes it, and yoongi laughs at him, loud and happy and—jeongguk likes that feeling, likes knowing that he can make yoongi laugh.

he wants to keep making him laugh. feels less afraid as they sit there and talk, and laugh. and he’s slow—jeongguk is always slow, at least with people, at least with friends. but he wants to rush into this, wants yoongi to know that he’s comfortable, that he likes whatever is happening here.

as usual, he finds himself transfixed. as yoongi tells him about his plans for the next week, jeongguk stares at yoongi’s bare arms—at the tattoos that curl over his skin, disappearing under his sleeves. he’s thought about it before, thought about it a lot—touching them, or asking, but he’s always been shy.

it’s yoongi who says, “do you wanna look at them?” and jeongguk blinks in surprise, blushing when he realizes he’s been caught staring. he sits back in his seat, quickly bringing his coffee to his lips. “you can, if you want. i don’t mind. they’re there for a reason.” with that, he holds out both of his arms, leaning his forearms on the table between them with his palms facing up, like he’s just asking jeongguk to touch. and he is—and jeongguk wants to. jeongguk always wants to touch.

gingerly, he sets down the coffee and reaches out for yoongi’s arms, using just his index finger to begin tracing the lines on yoongi’s wrist. this close, he can finally begin to make out what the designs are—he sees some geometrical patterns that curl into flowers near yoongi’s elbow, and there’s the bottom half of a face peeking out from where his t-shirt sleeve covers the rest of his design. on his other arm is something more colourful, something that jeongguk wants to learn, wants to know. wants to understand.

“i like getting tattoos that mean something to me,” says yoongi quietly, as jeongguk traces the lines with his fingers. it’s all connected, somehow, eyes wide as he takes it in—and takes in how yoongi’s skin pebbles under his touch, arm hair standing up on end like it’s cold. or something.

“you don’t have to explain them to me,” says jeongguk. “they’re just yours.”

“but i like sharing them with people i care about,” says yoongi, and jeongguk keeps his eyes trained on yoongi’s arms rather than looking up, rather than seeing the expression that likely matches that kind of sentiment. “i started getting them right out of high school, as soon as i was old enough. at first, i got some really stupid ones, but they’ve mostly been covered up—some of my friends and i used to make stupid bets and whoever lost had to shave their head or get a tattoo on their ass or something like that. back in my wilder days.”

jeongguk forgot, somehow, that yoongi might have had those wilder days—he still looks like he’s in the midst of them, but he supposes they had to start somewhere, and had to fizzle out, too. as jeongguk moves his finger over one of the flowers, he asks, “what are these for?”

“my family,” says yoongi. “probably really cheesy, but—i like it. i have flowers for each member of my immediate family—my dad, my mom, and my brother, plus my grandparents. all of them having meanings, like… the sweet pea.” he turns his arm, twisting it so that jeongguk can see the sweet peas inked on the outside of yoongi’s forearm, just below his elbow. “they were my grandmother’s favourite flower, but they’re also symbolic of departure after having a good time. i got them after she passed away a few years ago.”

“oh,” says jeongguk. “i’m really sorry, hyung.”

“it’s okay,” he laughs. “there’s a reason i got them—the departure after a good time, you know? she had a good life and i loved her a lot, so it made sense. some of the others… don’t have as deep meaning as that. like—this one.” he offers jeongguk his other arm, pointing to the stag head. “that’s just because i think stags are cool.”

jeongguk giggles. “it still counts if it means something to you.” he traces his fingers over the stag, seeing where bits of yoongi’s skin are raised, where some of the ink has begun to fade just slightly. there’s so much here, so much to unravel and learn—and jeongguk knows he can’t learn all of it right now, over a cup of coffee in starbucks, but. maybe there will be many other cups of coffee.

he’s just trailing his fingers down yoongi’s arm again, coming to a rest at his hands and tracing the lines of his palms, yoongi’s breathing getting just a little deeper, when—“well, would you look who it is!”

jeongguk physically startles, hands snapping back to himself as he looks up and sees a beaming hoseok standing beside the table, hands on his hips as he boasts his starbucks apron. it’s not like hoseok caught them doing anything intimate or embarrassing, but jeongguk flushes anyway, and when he glances at yoongi, he sees that the older boy is rearranging his fringe, practically hiding his face behind his arm.

“hello, hoseok-hyung,” says jeongguk after a moment.

“are you enjoying your coffee?” asks hoseok, still beaming wide—and a little crazed, almost, like he’s going to accuse them of pda. which it wasn’t, because jeongguk was just touching yoongi’s arms, but. somehow, it feels like more. feels like it means more.

“yes,” says yoongi after a second, looking up at hoseok. “i didn’t know that starbucks has begun to offer tableside service. aren’t you supposed to be making frappes for teenage girls right now?”

“i’m on break,” says hoseok, “so i thought i would come visit my two favourite lovebirds.”

jeongguk, having chosen the wrong time to take a sip of his (mostly cold) coffee, almost chokes. he puts the mug down, coughing a few times and using that has an excuse for the redness of his face. “speaking of breaks,” he says, “i should probably get back to the bookshop. i still have to eat lunch.”

“aw, you’re going to go so soon?” asks hoseok. “i wanted to talk to you, too. yoongi-hyung, stop hogging jeonggukkie.”

“i’m not—hogging him,” mutters yoongi, staring at the table.

“it’s just very interesting,” says hoseok, sounding far too much like seokjin and namjoon, and—god, jeongguk hopes those three never end up in the same room. ever. ever. he’d throw himself out of a window before he let that happen. “but if jeongguk has to go, i guess he has to go. maybe the next time you want to start doing some sensual exploring of each other’s bodies, you could do it not in my coffeeshop, though?”

“goodbye, hyungs,” says jeongguk, immediately getting up from the table and not even bothering to look at either of them before he makes a beeline for the door. he hopes to god that yoongi isn’t going to call him back for a kiss on the cheek, but apparently he’s aware what a bad idea that would be in front of hoseok—or isn’t even thinking of it, because he’s embarrassed, too. anyway. anyway. he sees when yoongi leaves starbucks, getting back on his bike and letting it roar to life. jeongguk happens (happens) to be by the window, and when yoongi looks up at the bookshop, jeongguk gives him a little wave. coincidentally, he sees hoseok through the window of starbucks across the street, and that’s just his luck, ducking his head with embarrassment when hoseok waves back.

“hyung,” jeongguk sighs, flopping against his bed once yoongi picks up. “when’s your next shift?”

“hello, jeon jeongguk, stealer of my questions,” says yoongi.

“hyung,” repeats jeongguk. “when’s your next shift?”

there’s a moment of silence, like yoongi really isn’t going to answer—then there’s a quiet rustle on the other end. jeongguk imagines him on his bed, too, staring up at the ceiling, although he doubts yoongi has glow in the dark stars stuck up in his room. “tuesday afternoon,” yoongi finally says.

“perfect,” grins jeongguk. “i don’t work on tuesday. take me to build-a-bear with you.”

a longer moment of silence, and jeongguk curls into a little ball, rolling onto his side and wondering, wondering—it’s strange, maybe, that he’s the shy one, yet he’s the one making all of the advances. but there’s something about yoongi that makes him brave, and besides, sometimes he thinks yoongi treats him like he’s too delicate, like if yoongi touches him in the wrong place, he’ll shatter. jeongguk wants to look at him and say: i am not afraid of you. but he’s worried that yoongi will look back and say: but i’m afraid of myself.

finally—“you can’t help me with work, jeongguk-ah.”

“i don’t want to help you with work,” says jeongguk. “i want you to help me make a bear. isn’t that what a build-a-bear employee does?” there’s a grin on his lips when he hears yoongi groan on the other end, probably not wanting jeongguk to see him doing that; it would ruin his bad boy image. jeongguk has been to a build-a-bear before; he knows the employees have to wear uniforms. he tries to imagine yoongi wearing not even one article of black clothing and has to giggle.

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, exasperated and loud and right there in jeongguk’s ear, where he always wants him.

“you came to work with me,” says jeongguk, “and i made a fool of myself talking about books and got in trouble for it, so it’s only fair that i get to go to work with you and see you in action. it’ll be fun.”

and here’s the thing—he knows for a fact that yoongi won’t do anything that he doesn’t want to do. he’s not a people pleaser the way jeongguk is, won’t bend over backwards for anyone—but jeongguk isn’t anyone. and maybe this is new, and maybe yoongi has only been driving him to work for three weeks, but. jeongguk wants to test the boundaries, wants to see just how far yoongi will let him go before he starts pushing back.

“please, hyung?” jeongguk asks, making his voice as small as possible, pouting into the phone. “i really want to go to build-a-bear and i don’t trust anyone else to make sure i have the best experience.”

“jeongguk—”

“i’ll give you a kiss after,” jeongguk hurriedly says, breathes it out, glad that yoongi can’t see the blush that creeps onto his cheeks. “i’ll give you two.

yoongi picks him up on tuesday afternoon, then, with a, “hello jeon jeongguk, little shit,” and jeongguk beams at him, hopping on the back of his motorcycle with a, “hello min yoongi, who has to wear khakis and an apron to work,” and yoongi pinches his thigh, and jeongguk giggles at him, and it’s good.

he makes yoongi act like a real employee, like jeongguk isn’t just a friend who is forcing him into this; makes yoongi smile like he’s supposed to and greet jeongguk like a regular customer, and it’s hilarious really, to see yoongi like this—still with the grey hair and dangly earrings and tattoos covering his arms, but also a friendly grin and slightly higher-pitched voice in an attempt to sound as friendly as his face generally doesn’t look. yoongi is mortified. jeongguk, on the other hand, is delighted.

“which one do you think i should get?” he asks yoongi as he stands in front of all of the animals, pouting.

“how about a bear,” yoongi deadpans, and jeongguk frowns at him.

“too unoriginal,” he sighs. ”there are so many other options, so i want to go with a special one.”

yoongi digs in a few of the buckets, rummaging through some of the deflated animals before he pulls out a bunny. “here,” he says, holding it up beside jeongguk’s head. “the likeness is uncanny. “

“i’m not a bunny,” jeongguk pouts.

“yes, you are,” says yoongi. “just a little one.”

jeongguk huffs, grabbing the bunny and putting it back in the bucket. “whatever,” he says. “i don’t want to make one that looks like me, anyway. what would be the point? i’m supposed to make one that’s like, a friend, or something. a cuddle buddy.”

yoongi snorts, but jeongguk resolutely ignores that, rummaging through the different animals instead. “just because i’m not a little kid doesn’t mean i can’t cuddle with stuffed animals,” he says, and then adds in a mumble, “besides, it’s not like i have a human to cuddle.” it’s not meant to be pointed, because he and yoongi have only been friends for a month, but. but. it gives him an idea anyway.

he finds the cat near the bottom of the bucket, coincidentally covered in grey fur. jeongguk pulls it out, staring at its little ears and little tail, and then looks over at yoongi. and then he nods, holding it out. “i want this one,” he says. “stuff it, yoongi-hyung.”

jeongguk watches closely as yoongi does his job, stuffing the cat until it’s filled and then looking up at jeongguk like he’d rather die than have to go through the motions. “you have to give it a heart,” says yoongi, nodding to the little bucket of plush hearts next to them.

“it’s a he,” jeongguk says, and then grabs one of the hearts. yoongi watches him for a second, and then (with slightly red cheeks) has to do his job of making jeongguk shake the heart around, make a wish on it, and then give it a kiss. as jeongguk hands it over, there’s a glint in his eyes.

“what did you wish for?” asks yoongi as he slips the heart inside the cat.

“i can’t tell you,” says jeongguk, “or it won’t come true. oh—wait, do you have those things that let you record your voice to put inside?” reaching over, yoongi grabs a little device from a shelf beside him and hands it over to jeongguk. jeongguk hands it right back. “say something, hyung.”

yoongi narrows his eyes. “why do you want me to say something?”

“hyung.”

yoongi stares at him for another few seconds before he heaves a sigh, likely knowing that he’s not going to win any sort of staring contest with jeongguk, who can be very stubborn when he wants to be. instead, yoongi just lifts the recorder to his mouth, pressing it before he says, “hello jeon jeongguk, pain in my ass.”

yoongi-hyung,” jeongguk scolds. “that’s what you want me to hear every time i squeeze my beautiful, cuddly cat?”

to answer the question, yoongi shoves the little recorder into the cat and velcro’s it together, handing the stuffed animal over to jeongguk. he takes it, after just a second, and then turns around and heads for the massive wall of clothing. there’s so much to choose from, but he only has one thing in mind as his eyes scour the wall, searching for the perfect outfit. once he finds it, he beams, reaching up and grabbing the outfit before bringing the cat to the changing station. in the middle of putting the cat’s pants on, he looks over his shoulder at where yoongi is still at the stuffing station.

“hey, hyung,” calls jeongguk. “when you wanted to do music… did you have a rapper name?”

yoongi looks up and stares at him, almost suspiciously. “yeah,” he says. “why?”

“what was it?”

there’s some hesitation—and jeongguk thinks he’s going to say something ridiculous, because he wouldn’t put it past teenage yoongi to give himself an embarrassing name—and then he says, “agust d.”

“what does that even mean?” asks jeongguk.

“why do you want to know?” asks yoongi.

jeongguk turns back to his cat in lieu of answering, slipping the jacket onto it before he stands it up and pets the top of its head. it looks perfect, and he gives it a little squeeze—yoongi’s voice comes, muffled by the stuffing: hello jeon jeongguk, pain in my ass. it might not be what he’d wanted, but it’s perfect anyway, and he turns around before holding the cat out toward yoongi.

it’s dressed in the biker clothing that the store thankfully sells—leather pants and a leather jacket. its fur is grey. it has yoongi’s voice, for all intents and purposes. he sees yoongi stare at it for a solid five seconds before jeongguk says, “his name is august.” it makes sense, at least to jeongguk—the cat is yoongi. if jeongguk is going to cuddle with something every night, he wants it to be yoongi. and this is about as close as he’s going to get to the real thing, so—so. he wraps his arms around the little cat, dropping a kiss to the top of its head. across the room, yoongi lets out a sound that jeongguk would describe as pained.

“if you would—just—” yoongi begins, getting up from his seat and approaching jeongguk. and jeongguk can’t help but grin at him, realizing that for the first time, he has the upperhand here; yoongi is flustered, stuttering with pink cheeks. it’s a strange feeling, but jeongguk realizes he likes it.

“yes, hyung?” asks jeongguk, cuddling the cat a little closer.

“i forgot. to do something,” says yoongi, snatching the cat out of jeongguk’s arms and turning around, disappearing through the employees only door. jeongguk kind of just—stands there, staring after him, until yoongi comes back out a few minutes later. he looks slightly less flushed, like he’s just had to give himself a pep talk, and doesn’t say anything as he puts the cat back in jeongguk’s arms and mutters, “you have to pay for it. i’m not giving you that for free.”

after he pays—yoongi not really looking him in the eye the whole time, and, as namjoon and seokjin would say, isn’t that just very interesting—and yoongi informs him that he won’t be able to drive him home considering he’s at work, jeongguk leans over the counter and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “goodbye min yoongi,” he says, “who is definitely a cat in disguise.” yoongi threatens to kick him out. jeongguk goes willingly, giggling a little—until he gets outside of the store and squeezes the cat again, and instead of the message that yoongi originally recorded, there’s something new.

still yoongi’s voice, of course, but a little warmer, a little more rushed, like yoongi was embarrassed to say it: “hello little one. you look extra cute today.” and jeongguk blushes something fierce, looking over his shoulder and through the window of the shop to see yoongi crouched beside a little girl who is trying to choose an animal, grin on his face. jeongguk thinks—oh no, as the seed of warmth in his chest bursts into full bloom.

the second time jeongguk is invited to yoongi’s apartment, it isn’t at hoseok’s request. he and yoongi have been hanging out regularly now, at the bookshop or starbucks or elsewhere, too, branching out, and one night, when yoongi asks the customary question of when jeongguk’s next shift is, he asks a foll0w-up question afte jeongguk tells him that he has the whole weekend off: “do you wanna come over tomorrow night?”

jeongguk stares at the stuffed cat in his lap, picking at the seam of his jeans. “what would we be doing at your apartment?”

“i figured it’s time to introduce you to my law-breaking ways. you ever picked a lock before?’

“i’m—” begins jeongguk, taken back. “i-i don’t—”

“i’m kidding, guk-ah, don’t panic,” says yoongi, husky laugh crackling in jeongguk’s ear. “i was thinking we could watch a movie or two. you still want to introduce me to that romeo and julia movie, right?”

“juliet, hyung, and i’m pretty sure you know that,” says jeongguk. “but, um—yeah. yeah, i’d really like that.”

“we’re watching one of my movies, too,” says yoongi. “hopefully you’re a fan of blood.”

jeongguk isn’t, but he doesn’t say that, because he knows yoongi isn’t a fan of romantic movies. compromise. he packs a few of his favourite stuffed animals for comfort, anyway, and yoongi eyes his backpack when he comes to pick him up the next evening, asking, “what’s in the bag?” and jeongguk doesn’t answer, just plops down on the bike before securing his arms around yoongi’s middle.

somehow, jeongguk is surprised when they get to yoongi’s apartment and hoseok opens the door for them. it’s like jeongguk’s heart trips over something inside of him, an unforeseen obstacle that he should have considered, because—hoseok lives with yoongi. of course hoseok is going to be home because he lives here, and it’s saturday evening.

still. he has to swallow disappointment as he follows yoongi into the house, as hoseok asks, “what’s in the bag?” and jeongguk feels a weird spark of irritation.

jeongguk nicely asks hoseok to set up the movie, since he doesn’t know how their entertainment system works, and he trails after yoongi into the kitchen where he’s pulling out snacks, and he leans against the counter, arms crossing over his chest as he stares down at the floor, and. and. it’s ridiculous. yoongi and hoseok have known each other for years, and they live together, and—

“something wrong?” asks yoongi, making jeongguk look up at him across the kitchen. jeongguk hadn’t meant to look upset, but, well. “is it the popcorn? do you not like popcorn? sorry, i should have asked—”

“no,” says jeongguk quickly. “it’s just—ugh. whatever, it’s stupid.”

“guk-ah,” says yoongi, and his voice is soft, and it sounds like he cares—but of course he cares. of course he cares about jeongguk, because he can care about more than one person at a time. but jeongguk is childish and stubborn and doesn’t want that kind of softness as yoongi makes his way across the kitchen, and jeongguk crowds against the counter, keeping his bottom lip out in a pout and his eyes trained on his feet as he sees yoongi’s feet join his, close enough to touch. yoongi leans forward, hands on either side of jeongguk on the counter, caging him in.

somehow, it makes jeongguk feel better—when it’s just yoongi and nothing more, taking up everything.

“talk to me,” says yoongi lowly, just over the sounds of the popcorn popping in the microwave. he can hear hoseok talking to himself in the living room. when jeongguk doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even look up, yoongi fits a finger under his chin and tilts his face upwards, making him look. “baby.”

“i just thought…” begins jeongguk, knowing he’s going to sound silly when he says it. “i just thought it was gonna be you and me.”

there’s a moment of silence where jeongguk thinks that yoongi might laugh at him, or tell him that he’s being stupid. but yoongi just looks at him, lips tugging into a little frown. this close, jeongguk finds himself focusing on them, noticing a tiny hole just under yoongi’s lip where he might have had a lip piercing at one point.

“i’m sorry,” says yoongi finally. “i didn’t even think that you might have taken it that way. do you want me to make hobi leave?”

“no,” says jeongguk immediately. “no, don’t, that’s—that’s mean. it’s not his fault that i did something stupid.”

“it’s not stupid, jeongguk,” says yoongi, thumb rubbing under his chin. “it’s my fault that i wasn’t clear. we can watch something else, if you want—keep romeo and juliet just for you and me. for next time, when hobi isn’t here.”

jeongguk can’t help the way his lips curl into a tiny, pleased grin, knowing that yoongi cares about him like that—cares enough to accommodate him, enough to change plans just to make him happy. knowing that yoongi wants to do this again, even if it might be a little thing—watching a movie together. they’re friends, so of course they’d something like this. but it’s another step, closer and closer, and jeongguk’s heart swells.

behind them, the microwave beeps.

“okay,” whispers jeongguk. “i’d like that.”

“did you happen to bring a different movie?”

he giggles. “no, but i don’t mind watching one of yours as long as it’s not too scary and no one dies and you don’t make fun of me cuddling with august at the parts i don’t like.”

“you’re going to come into my house and cuddle with a stuffed cat when i’m right here?”

jeongguk’s cheeks flush pink, chewing on the inside of his cheek at the idea of cuddling with yoongi—at the idea of yoongi cuddling him because he wants to, because he asked first. this whole time, when jeongguk can’t control his feelings because they’re just too big, he’s been thinking that maybe it’s all him. maybe yoongi is just entertaining him for now until he gets bored, maybe he only cares insofar as he finds jeongguk fun to be around, and that might change.

and maybe that is how it is—maybe jeongguk doesn’t care. he has blind faith, can’t stop his heart from doing these silly things, and even if yoongi does want to cast him out once he gets bored, jeongguk doesn’t care. he’ll take what he can get.

they end up watching finding nemo, at hoseok’s request, and it’s not scary and no one dies and there’s no reason to, but—but. jeongguk sits beside yoongi, thighs pressed together for the first half an hour, and he can’t pay attention to the movie because he’s too busy focused on that, focused on the heat of yoongi’s leg and the little thrill that runs through him every time yoongi shifts, but ends up shifting even closer. he keeps august cuddled to his chest so he isn’t tempted to do something silly with his hands, and is glad that he’s seen this movie plenty of times so he isn’t lost when he eventually tries to start paying attention.

halfway through, yoongi excuses himself to get more popcorn. and jeongguk feels strangely cold when he’s gone, even though there’s a blanket thrown over his legs, and he still can’t focus on the movie because he’s waiting for yoongi to come back. when he does, he sits down beside jeongguk—this time, a little further away, maybe intentionally. maybe not. jeongguk can’t imagine that all of this is occupying yoongi’s thoughts as much as it is his, can’t imagine that yoongi is anywhere near as affected.

but still. when the jellyfish show up, jeongguk uses it as an excuse to scoot over toward yoongi, squeaking a little when marlin ends up getting stung. he hooks his arm through yoongi’s, pressing himself against his side, making himself small. it’s not really scary, but he doesn’t mind looking childish for being afraid of it, at least when yoongi turns his head to look at him with a little grin. on the other end of the couch, hoseok is giving commentary, because he doesn’t know how to shut up during movies.

jeongguk’s not paying attention to that, though. he’s just paying attention to how yoongi moves his arm, slipping it out of jeongguk’s hold, and he—panics a little, thinks that maybe yoongi doesn’t want him that close, but before he can move away, yoongi instead wraps his arm around jeongguk’s shoulder, tugging him even closer.

flushing, jeongguk snuggles into yoongi’s side, ducking his head. against his hair, yoongi mutters, “you know they find him, right?”

“yes,” breathes jeongguk, embarrassed. “doesn’t make it any less worrisome when they’re still looking.”

“cute,” mumbles yoongi, and jeongguk flushes even deeper, turning his face into yoongi’s shoulder. it’s not the scary part anymore, but he doesn’t mind—doesn’t think he needs the excuse, not when yoongi starts trailing his fingers over the back of jeongguk’s neck, curling up into his hair. not when yoongi eventually starts carding his fingers through jeongguk’s hair properly, and jeongguk stops paying attention to the movie entirely, too warm and warm and warm.

jeongguk falls asleep like that, pressed against yoongi’s side with yoongi’s fingers in his hair and the sounds of sea turtles coming from the television. jeongguk feels—safe, feels home. yoongi feels like home.

(after, when yoongi gently shakes him awake and asks if he’s going to stay over, because it’s late—and jeongguk turns red red red and hurriedly declines, even though hoseok says he doesn’t mind—and yoongi drives him home, jeongguk kisses him on the cheek and says, “goodnight min yoongi, who has a very comfortable shoulder,” and yoongi says, “goodnight jeon jeongguk, sleepyhead.” jeongguk spends a few minutes standing on the sidewalk as he watches yoongi drive away and it feels like they’ve crossed another border, another barrier. jeongguk can’t stop feeling yoongi’s fingers in his hair, gently scratching at his scalp, gently lulling him into something deeper.

he holds august a little closer when he gets in bed. squeezes him only to hear a new message, one that yoongi must have recorded when jeongguk was sleeping: “hello, guk-ah. did you know that when you’re sleeping, you pucker your lips when something touches them? it’s cute, just like the rest of you.”

it’s not fair. it’s really, really not fair.)

“motorcycle guy is here,” calls seokjin as jeongguk is fixing his hair, and his heart definitely does not jump all the way into his throat.

“his name is yoongi,” says jeongguk as he hurriedly finishes his hair and wanders into the kitchen, peering out the window at where yoongi is getting off of his bike. “you can just call him that.”

“he has yet to gain my trust,” says seokjin. “until he proves himself a worthy suitor, he’ll be known as motorcycle guy.”

“what am i, your daughter in the eighteenth century?” asks jeongguk, frowning. “also, he’s not a suitor. we’re friends.”

“i don’t have a single friend who would drive me to work every single fucking day even though said work is a forty minute drive from their house.”

“that’s because you don’t have any friends to begin with, hyung,” namjoon calls from the living room.

seokjin makes an affronted noise. “you’re my friend, namjoon-ah.”

“debatable.”

“you got me that nice watch for my birthday last year!”

“yeah, because you threatened to kick me out of the apartment if i didn’t.”

“i feel like this is getting away from us,” says jeongguk, although letting seokjin and namjoon bicker is a much better turn of events than seokjin trying to claim that he can’t marry jeongguk off to yoongi just yet. it doesn’t sound like either of them hear him, anyway, so he takes the opportunity to slip on his shoes and open the door, only to find yoongi standing right there, leaning against the doorframe.

“hello jeon jeongguk,” drawls yoongi, “whose hair is extra fluffy this morning.” he reaches out, clearly intending to touch jeongguk’s hair, but jeongguk leans back, eyebrows furrowing as he focuses on something that is very distinctly wrong about all of this.

“are you smoking?” jeongguk asks, frowning as he stares at the little white stick hanging out of yoongi’s mouth. of course—he remembers yoongi telling him when they first met that he smoked, that it fit right into the bad boy expectations that jeongguk had of him. but yoongi has never smoked around him before, and although there’s always the vague smell of smoke clinging to all of his clothes, it’s overpowered by whatever cologne yoongi wears.

but. somehow, it’s a slap in the face to see yoongi with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, reminding jeongguk that yoongi is like that, like what he’s been steadily ignoring. yoongi has been sweet and kind and wholesome since they met, but—yoongi said he smokes, says he’s been arrested before. somehow, jeongguk forgot.

yoongi’s hand freezes between them, like he’s unsure if he should still try to touch jeongguk’s hair. but jeongguk is still leaning away from him, deep frown curving his lips. so yoongi drops his hand, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and regarding it; it’s not even lit. “i told you i smoke,” he says with a furrow of his brows.

why?” asks jeongguk. “it’s not cool and you smell bad and it’ll ruin your lungs. and your teeth. and your fingernails.”

yoongi rolls his eyes. “alright, nerd,” he says. “so far, i haven’t developed any lung diseases.”

“that’s because you’re twenty-three,” snaps jeongguk, crossing his arms over his chest. “you have thirty more years to go before the signs start showing up and by then, it’ll be too late. how can you actually smoke in this day and age?”

yoongi stares at him, clearly surprised by the little outburst; jeongguk knows that he’s never gotten upset with yoongi before, not really. but it had been so easy to pretend that yoongi was everything that he wanted, that he had no flaws, and now—the cigarette. yoongi regards it for a second, and then frowns right back at jeongguk. “i’m sorry that i ended up getting addicted when i was a teenager,” he says. “it’s not easy to just stop.

“it doesn’t look like you want to stop,” says jeongguk. “but i’m not getting on that bike with you if you’re smoking. in fact, i don’t even want to be anywhere near you if you’re smoking.”

“i’m not—” yoongi begins, letting out a frustrated sound. “it’s not even lit!”

“you were going to light it, though, weren’t you?”

yoongi frowns at him, eyes darkening, and—and for the first time since they met, jeongguk feels something like fear shoot down his spine. not the exciting kind of fear, though, not the kind that tells him he’d let yoongi do anything if he wanted. it’s the kind of fear that leaves him actually afraid of yoongi, at least when he looks like that—eyes dark, lips in a frown, all of his features sharp and ragged. this is the min yoongi that jeongguk has never seen before, but the one that fits his image—the one that has been there all along, and one that jeongguk hasn’t seen because yoongi has kept it carefully hidden away from him.

for a second, jeongguk thinks that yoongi is going to do something stupid—like storm away or get properly angry at him. but then he just says, “don’t be ridiculous, jeongguk-ah. i have to drive you to work.”

“i can take the bus,” says jeongguk, refusing to budge an inch. he’s compliant, soft, easily flustered—but jeongguk is stubborn and he refuses to give in on things that he’s adamant about. it’s something that yoongi is just going to have to learn to deal with in their friendship.

it’s interesting, maybe, that jeongguk is the one who needs yoongi in this situation—he can take the bus, but it’s easier and more convenient to let yoongi drive him. yoongi isn’t really getting anything out of this, not like what jeongguk is getting out of it. yet it’s jeongguk who is giving yoongi the ultimatum, realizing that maybe he has more power in this relationship than he thought he did. and maybe yoongi is willing to bend if jeongguk isn’t, because jeongguk isn’t.

finally, yoongi concedes, just a little, just enough to soften his voice when he says, “what do you want me to do?”

jeongguk, grinning triumphantly, holds his index finger up to tell yoongi to wait. and then he disappears back into the apartment. seokjin and namjoon have long since stopped arguing, it seems, and when jeongguk enters the kitchen, they’re both sitting at the table and staring at him, like they’ve been listening. they continue to stare at him when he finds the right cupboard, rummaging around in it until he pulls out what he wants and then turns to look at them.

“what?” he asks.

“like i said,” says seokjin, “that boy is not just a friend.”

“so you don’t have any friends who would stop smoking because you don’t like it?” asks jeongguk with a roll of his eyes, breezing past the both of them as he makes his way back to the door.

“i already said that’s because he doesn’t have any friends to begin with,” says namjoon, and jeongguk grins a little more when the two of them start arguing again behind him.

at the door, where yoongi is still waiting for him, jeongguk grabs the cigarette out of yoongi’s hand and drops it on the doorstep, crushing it with his shoe. and then he pulls the wrapper off of the lollipop he’d grabbed from the kitchen, shoving it into yoongi’s mouth instead.

“there,” he says with a little shrug, closing the door and stepping past yoongi as he heads for the bike. “now you can drive me to work.”

the problem with having nosy friends, jeongguk realizes, is that it’s impossible to keep them from finding out things. things, in this case being—the fact that yoongi has an equally nosy friend. he’d thought, when he first met yoongi, that he would give anything for seokjin, namjoon, and hoseok to never be in the same room ever, and yet—and yet. the idea of going out to a bar isn’t an enticing one for jeongguk, unless yoongi is added into the mix.

going out to a bar with yoongi and hoseok and seokjin and namjoon, though—

“he’s really not as interesting as you think he is,” says jeongguk desperately, trailing around the apartment behind namjoon as his roommate cleans. cleans, because yoongi and hoseok are coming over, and namjoon is all about making good first impressions.

“yoongi-ssi told me that hoseok is a very interesting person,” namjoon says.

“yeah, but he has to say that, because hoseok-hyung is his roommate.”

“so when you tell people very nice things about me, you don’t actually mean them?”

hyung,” pouts jeongguk, feet dragging. namjoon gathers some clothes that have found their way into the living room, and then turns around when he gets to the end of the room, making jeongguk bump into his chest.

“jeongguk-ah,” says namjoon. “what’s so wrong with us meeting hoseok? we’ve already met yoongi-ssi, and i’d think that’s the person you want to hide from us since you obviously like him a lot and don’t want us to embarrass you.”

“yeah, but hoseok-hyung is just like that, too,” grumbles jeongguk. “i can deal with you and seokjin-hyung embarrassing me, but all three of you? i’d honestly rather die.”

“no dying!” seokjin calls, choosing that moment to leave his room and enter the living room. jeongguk peeks around namjoon to see him wearing an absolutely blinding outfit, complete with a jacket made entirely out of sequins and sparkles. “you can’t die before you see my wily and drunken ways in action.”

“oh god,” mutters jeongguk, leaning forward until he can push his head into namjoon’s chest. “this is why i’ve never gone out with him.”

namjoon pats jeongguk’s head, and then leaves him standing there, clearly not empathetic enough about any of this to call the whole thing off. they’d demanded it in the first place—all five of them meeting up and going out for once. the problem is that he just knows that seokjin, hoseok, and namjoon will get along. they’ll probably get along a little too well, whether or not they’re going to embarrass jeongguk and yoongi while they’re at it. it’s dangerous either way. but jeongguk’s going to hope they hit it off enough to leave jeongguk and yoongi alone and then he can just pretend it’s only he and yoongi.

“not to alarm you, jeongguk-ah,” says namjoon a few seconds later, when jeongguk is still standing in the middle of the living room with his head hung, “but they’re here.”

“what?” jeongguk gasps, head snapping up. “but i don’t look good yet!”

“i doubt he cares,” says namjoon, but jeongguk ignores that as he darts to the window, peering out at the street to see hoseok and yoongi getting out of hoseok’s car. it’s almost unnerving to see yoongi without his bike and helmet, and jeongguk is about to dash into his room to do something about his clothes when he stops, noticing something much more unnerving about yoongi’s appearance.

hoseok and yoongi turn toward the apartment, laughing at something before they begin walking up the street, and jeongguk stares for another second before he forgets all about what he looks like, instead bolting for the door.

“min yoongi!” he yells when he opens it, forgoing shoes in favour of dashing out of the apartment and down the steps, racing down the sidewalk toward the pair. he sees yoongi freeze when he spots jeongguk running toward him, and hoseok lets out a shrieking laugh, and jeongguk gets to them, fitting his hands on either side of yoongi’s face before wrenching his head downward—“what did you do your hair?!”

“um,” says yoongi, awkwardly hunched over in front of jeongguk. “i dyed it?”

“yeah, i can see that,” says jeongguk, moving yoongi’s head first one way and then the other, pulling it down more so he can see the back of yoongi’s head, and then pushing it up so he can look at yoongi’s face. “but—what? why?”

yoongi frowns, reaching up between jeongguk’s arms so he can tug at his freshly dyed fringe. “you don’t like it?” he asks, sounding all sorts of deflated, like he’d been hoping that jeongguk would like it—like he dyed it so jeongguk would like it, and jeongguk’s heart seizes in his chest as he thinks about it. thinks about yoongi traipsing the aisles of the drug store and trying to decide what colour jeongguk would like, nervously asking hoseok what he thought, coming all the way over here without telling jeongguk so it would be a surprise.

and the truth is—the truth is. yoongi’s hair is mint. it’s bright, a little blue and a little green, so different from the grey he was sporting the last time jeongguk saw him, just the other day. the truth is that the more jeongguk looks at it, the more he’s unsure what to say because his mouth is going dry, and he remembers so vividly the first time he saw yoongi, and this—feels like that.

this is that.

“you—um,” begins jeongguk, knocking yoongi’s hand away from his hair so he can gingerly tug at the strands himself. “i like it. a lot.”

“really?” asks yoongi.

“i’d like you with any hair colour,” says jeongguk quietly. “i’d like you with no hair at all. i mean—please don’t go bald. but it’s really pretty. my pretty hyung.”

there’s a beat, and then—“well,” says hoseok, who is still standing beside them. “i’m gonna go inside.”

“oh,” says jeongguk after a second, shifting to look at him. “sorry, i’m—”

“no, it’s fine,” says hoseok, already walking up to the apartment. “commit crimes, be gay, drink vodka.”

“isn’t that a meme?” asks yoongi.

“i thought you didn’t know what memes were,” says jeongguk.

“do you actually like it?” jeongguk turns back to yoongi, knowing that hoseok is about to walk into his apartment and meet namjoon and seokjin for the first time without anyone to supervise them, but. jeongguk is much more interested in yoongi and yoongi’s new mint hair and yoongi being insecure that jeongguk doesn’t like it, and it’s weird. it’s weird because yoongi shouldn’t care and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about what he wears or looks like or does, but—he cares what jeongguk thinks.

so jeongguk grins, leaving yoongi’s hair alone in favour of making himself small enough to fit into yoongi’s chest, sliding his arms around yoongi’s middle and holding him tightly. “i actually like it,” he says. “it looks good on you. i liked you with grey hair and it’ll always have a special place in my heart because you had grey hair when i met you, but i really like the mint hair and it suits you and now it’ll have a special place in my heart because it’s your hair colour now and i’m sure we’ll do lots of fun things when you have mint hair.”

he feels yoongi fit his arms around him in return, laying his cheek on top of jeongguk’s head. “you’re very nice to me, you know,” he says.

“you deserve nice,” says jeongguk. “can i touch it?”

“my hair?” asks yoongi. “‘course.”

“excuse me!” calls someone from overhead; jeongguk turns his head enough to see seokjin’s head poking out of the kitchen window, waving an arm at them. “stop being gay!”

“hoseok-hyung said we should be gay,” jeongguk calls back, tightening his hold on yoongi as he tries his hardest not to be embarrassed; he’s gotten used to his roommates’ teasing, and if he wants to spend any amount of time with yoongi tonight, he’s going to have to get used to the comments and looks that they’re going to give him.

“hoseok said he’s going to eat those marshmallow things you bought that look like baby chicks.”

jeongguk gasps. “hoseok-hyung, no!” he yells before letting go of yoongi and running back for the apartment, somehow not surprised that hoseok has already made himself at home enough to start rummaging through the cupboards to find something to eat. or maybe it’s that seokjin is always trying to offer guests everyone else’s possessions, like he can buy their love by pawning off jeongguk’s and namjoon’s things.

half an hour later—because yoongi and hoseok showed up mostly so they could go out right away, but jeongguk was right in thinking that hoseok would hit it off too well with seokjin and namjoon and now they’re too busy platonically canoodling in the living room to leave—jeongguk and yoongi are sitting on jeongguk’s bed, yoongi conveniently sitting between jeongguk’s legs so he can get a better look at yoongi’s hair.

“how many different hair colours have you had, anyway?” asks jeongguk as he carefully runs his fingers through yoongi’s hair, watching it flop back down when he lifts his hands away. it’s exceptionally soft.

“a lot,” says yoongi, distracted as he paints his nails; normally jeongguk would panic about having nail polish anywhere near his bedspread, but he trusts yoongi, and besides, if they move, he won’t be able to touch yoongi’s hair and cuddle him at the same time. he’s just going to pretend this is for convenience. “i started dyeing my hair when i was like, fifteen.”

“how do you have any hair left after this long?” muses jeongguk, running his hands through yoongi’s hair is gather it on top of his head, giggling at the little apple top that sprouts out of his grasp. “i was joking when i said i didn’t want you to purposely go bald, but you might go bald anyway.”

“first of all, i’m not that old,” says yoongi, “and second of all, i’ve gone pretty long stretches with just brown or black hair so it’s not like i’m bleaching my hair all of the time. but i’ve had… mint, obviously, and grey, and blonde, and dark red, and pink.”

jeongguk gasps, letting go of yoongi’s hair and watching it flop back into place. “you’ve had pink hair? do you have pictures?”

“somewhere, probably,” he says, and then lifts one of his hands over his head, spreading his fingers wide as he commands, “blow.” jeongguk leans forward, blowing gently on yoongi’s nails to help dry them—he’s painting them black, of course, because jeongguk has never seen him wear another colour, not even a really, really dark colour. he’s very committed to his image, although now that he’s got super bright hair, it might ruin it. then again, most nice boys don’t walk around with mint-coloured hair, either.

once yoongi has dropped his hand again, jeongguk goes back to playing with his hair. “do you think hoseok-hyung, seokjin-hyung, and namjoon-hyung have started anything on fire yet?” he asks; he’d been a little apprehensive about leaving them to their own devices, but he was much more interested in pulling yoongi into his room and locking the door.

“it’s probably best if we just stay in here,” sighs yoongi. “i don’t trust any of them.”

“that’s why i didn’t want to do this in the first place,” says jeongguk. “putting all three of them together is giving them too much power.”

“aw, but you get to see me,” says yoongi, tilting his head back until he can look up at jeongguk. suddenly, their faces are a little close for comfort, and jeongguk finds himself blushing even though he doesn’t move back. he’s tempted, suddenly, to dip down and kiss yoongi, and—that thought shocks him, somehow. it would be a bit like spiderman, wouldn’t it? “or… not?”

jeongguk realizes he hasn’t responded and quickly clears his throat, tugging on yoongi’s fringe to distract himself. “i guess you kind of make it worth it,” he says. “but only kind of.”

“you’re not fooling me, jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi. “i know you like spending time with me.”

“it’s the price i have to pay for getting a ride to work every morning,” says jeongguk. “you’re actually super annoying.”

yoongi gasps, although he’s laughing when he twists around in jeongguk’s arms and lunges for him, and jeongguk shrieks as he throws himself back on the bed, trying to wiggle out from under yoongi. “not the bedsheets!” he yells. “you’re gonna get nail polish—”

“i’ll buy you new ones,” laughs yoongi as jeongguk manages to get out from under him, sliding off of the bed. luckily, yoongi didn’t get nail polish on the bed, although he doesn’t doubt that yoongi would really buy him a new bedspread and new pillows and probably a whole new wardrobe if he got even a speck of polish on anything in the room.

when yoongi rolls over, his voice suddenly fills the room—“hello little one, don’t forget to brush your teeth twice a day for healthy gums!” jeongguk blushes, despite the fact that it’s yoongi who recorded the message in august, and yoongi rolls over before pulling the stuffed cat out from under him. “oh hey, i just realized august is the wrong colour now,” he says. “you need one that has mint fur.”

“guess you’ll just have to take me back to build-a-bear,” says jeongguk, wandering over to his desk now, where yoongi put his jacket and wallet. “with your khakis and your apron.”

“watch it before i make him say something mean,” says yoongi from behind him. jeongguk snorts, trailing his fingers over the shoulder of the jacket on his chair. he’s always wanted to wear it, although he’s never dared ask; yoongi wears it just about every day, which means it must be his favourite, and jeongguk doesn’t want to be rude, but. he hears rustling on the bed behind him, yoongi muttering something about painting his other hand, and jeongguk takes his chances—slips the jacket off of the chair and onto himself, slipping his arms through the sleeves.

he can tell that it’s a little big—yoongi has wider shoulders than him—but he tugs the lapels a little, making sure that it’s snug on him, and then looks down at himself. he doesn’t have a mirror, but he likes how it feels—warm and comforting, and, well. it’s yoongi’s. he likes anything if it’s yoongi’s. it smells like him. makes him feel like yoongi is holding him, a little.

jeongguk turns around. “how do i look, hyung?” he asks, holding his arms out before letting them fall to his side. on the bed, yoongi looks up from where he’s painting his nails, and just—stops. his eyes widen as he stares at jeongguk, a look of almost pure terror passing over his face.

after a few seconds of silence, jeongguk tilts his head. “good?” he asks, trying to prompt yoongi into some response. “not good? i can’t—tell when your face is like that. are you having a seizure?” he looks down at the jacket again, pouting a little when he considers that he might not look good in it. it’s leather, after all, and black, and most of jeongguk’s clothes are brightly coloured and soft and oversized.

yoongi says, “i—fucking. what? yeah. uh,” and then clears his throat awkwardly. when jeongguk looks back at him with wide eyes and a pout, yoongi jerks a little, rapidly throwing one of his legs over the other. the action knocks the open bottle of nail polish over, though, black polish immediately spilling out, and jeongguk shrieks, darting forward to grab the bottle before it can spill all of its contents onto the bed.

“oh my god,” exclaims yoongi, scooting backwards on the bed as the black polish begins to spread, but he doesn’t get up, still awkwardly crossing his legs like he’s trying to hide something, and jeongguk lets out this pained noise, standing at the foot of the bed. “guk-ah—i’m so sorry, oh my god.”

“my bed,” whines jeongguk, looking down at the massive black stain. “hyung, you said you wouldn’t spill.”

“i know,” says yoongi. “i know, guk, i’m sorry. hyung didn’t mean to.”

jeongguk pouts at the stain. there’s nothing he can do about it now, though, because there’s no way he’s getting that out. and yoongi did already promise he’d buy jeongguk a new bedspread if anything went wrong, so they’ll just have to put that promise to the test. so jeongguk huffs a little, eyes moving back to yoongi sitting at the head of the bed. “now you have to buy me all of my drinks tonight,” he says. “it’s only fair.”

“yeah,” says yoongi a little breathlessly, clearing his throat again when his eyes trail over jeongguk’s torso. jeongguk almost forgot he was still wearing yoongi’s jacket. “yeah, sure. whatever you want.”

“also,” says jeongguk, licking his lips. he holds out the almost-empty bottle of nail polish. “i want you to paint my nails, too.”

yoongi blinks at him. then—“okay,” he says. “are you sure you want black, though?”

“do you have any other colour?”

“i mean—no.”

“then we’ll be matching.”

there’s a knock at the door, before jeongguk can move, and then it opens to reveal all three of their friends peering in on them. hoseok stares at him, likely noting the fact that he’s wearing yoongi’s jacket.

it’s namjoon who asks, “are you okay in here? we heard yelling.”

“yoongi-hyung spilled nail polish on my bed,” pouts jeongguk.

“oh,” says namjoon. “that’s better than what any of us had in mind.”

yoongi clears his throat again. “and… what did you have in mind?”

“nothing,” says hoseok hurriedly, already tugging seokjin backwards and away from the door, but jeongguk still hears him when he starts speaking—

“i told him not to open the door,” begins seokjin, and jeongguk is already cringing before he continues—“you know, just in case you were having passionate sex in there, but then hoseok here informed me that jeongguk can’t even touch yoongi without turning into a blushing mess, so they’re probably far from sticking anything in each other.”

jeongguk regrets all of this. very, very much.

“sorry,” whispers namjoon, throwing jeongguk an apologetic look as though they’re not used to those kinds of things coming out of seokjin’s mouth. they are, but—they’re not used to those kinds of things coming out of seokjin’s mouth when yoongi is around to hear them. “i’m gonna… close the door.” and then he does.

jeongguk stares at the closed door, at the poster of shinee he’d put there, and prays to choi minho that he’s struck with a very quick and efficient disease that can kill him within the next three seconds. unfortunately—things don’t work like that.

across the room, yoongi clears his throat. “dead puppies,” he whispers.

“what?” asks jeongguk.

through the door, he can hear seokjin beginning a very loud and off-key rendition of can you feel the love tonight, and hoseok laughing at him. jeongguk wonders how hard it would be to climb out of the window, and then thinks better of it.

“you wanted me to do your nails?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk takes a deep breath before he nods, trying to put seokjin’s words behind him.

they do end up going out, despite hoseok, seokjin, and namjoon putting it off in favour of telling embarrassing stories about yoongi and jeongguk to each other. jeongguk hears them laughing through his bedroom door and refuses to come out, at least until yoongi fixes his hair for him and drags him out of the room. jeongguk still doesn’t want to go to a bar, and he drags his feet a little, knowing he’s being childish, but then hoseok, seokjin, and namjoon are all piling out of the door, still laughing about some inside joke they already have with each other, heading for hoseok’s car.

and jeongguk watches as yoongi puts on his shoes, arms crossed over his chest. when yoongi stands up again, he regards jeongguk for a moment, raising an eyebrow as he presumably waits for jeongguk to grin.

“what are you pouting about?” he asks after a moment, reaching out to poke jeongguk’s bottom lip.

“i don’t like drinking,” says jeongguk, “or people or crowds or crowded bars.”

“we could ditch,” suggests yoongi without hesitation, and that has jeongguk grinning reluctantly, knowing that yoongi will always try to make him feel better, will always compromise for him. it was yoongi’s idea to go out to a bar when they’d been trying to decide what to do with the evening, but he’d readily give up his own ideas so that he can accommodate jeongguk.

which means jeongguk doesn’t want him to, because he wants to make yoongi happy, too. “it’s fine,” he says with a shake of his head. “too late to change plans. and someone has to make sure those three don’t end up getting arrested tonight.”

yoongi turns and peers out of the door at where namjoon, seokjin, and hoseok have already clambered into hoseok’s car and are blasting very loud music with all of the windows rolled down. it sounds like they’re headbanging to gee by girl’s generation. when yoongi turns back to look at him, there’s an apologetic look on his face. but he always seems to know how to make it better as he holds out his hand between them. he doesn’t ask jeongguk to hold it, just offering it, just in case—and jeongguk finds himself blushing a little anyway, reaching out and taking yoongi’s hand.

it’s yoongi who threads their fingers together, tugging him out of the apartment and waiting for jeongguk to lock the door behind them before he leads him to the car. his hand is warm where it’s pressed to jeongguk’s, and jeongguk lets himself grin, shoulders hiking up to his ears in his shyness. it’s only then that jeongguk realizes he’s still wearing yoongi’s jacket, but—yoongi doesn’t ask for it back. and jeongguk doesn’t want to give it back, anyway.

to no one’s surprise, the bar is crowded and loud and jeongguk keeps himself glued to yoongi’s side as they find an empty booth; he slips into it and decides he’ll just stay there all night, drinking orange juice or something. seokjin orders a round of drinks to start, clearly excited with going out, since it’s not often that he does with how busy he is; and even though jeongguk isn’t a big fan of these places, he’s glad that his hyungs get to let loose for a little while. besides, yoongi squeezes into the booth beside him and doesn’t let go of his hand, not even once, clearly not going anywhere. it makes jeongguk feel warm.

by the fourth round, jeongguk is both very glad and very upset that he’s never seen namjoon or seokjin drunk, watching them with a wild fascination as they shout at each other, and hoseok, over the music.

“i’m just saying,” exclaims seokjin. “who wouldn’t want to have this face all over the movie screens? i’m a fucking ten!”

“an eleven,” shouts hoseok, slamming his fist on the table. “how can the world miss out on such beauty and talent?”

“exactly!”

“you know, i want to get into the film industry,” says hoseok, hiccupping. “dunno what yet, but. but. i will find a way to make your career happen! even if i have to drag you from the pits of hell with my own two hands!”

“oh my god, i knew there was a reason we were destined to meet,” says seokjin, reaching over the table and putting his hand over hoseok’s. “i think you might be my soulmate, jung hoseok.”

jeongguk giggles, sliding down a little in his seat because it’s embarrassing even if it’s funny. this is the kind of thing that he imagined would happen when they met, but he’s not fond of being right.

“please don’t make out right now,” says namjoon, more of a groan than anything, where he’s sitting with his head on the table. “i might throw up.”

“you might throw up anyway,” muses yoongi, still holding jeongguk’s hand under the table. he’s had some to drink, too, although can apparently hold his alcohol better than the other three combined. “please don’t, though, considering you’re sitting beside me.”

“if i do, will you still marry jeongguk?”

jeongguk chokes on his own spit. “no one’s marrying anyone, hyung,” he says, blushing in the low lighting of the bar. yoongi turns to look at him, a glimmer in his eye, and jeongguk looks away, focusing on hoseok and seokjin’s joined hands on the table instead. “maybe they’re getting married,” he mumbles, trying to get the attention off of himself. “it looks like they’re ready to elope.”

“i think we should dance,” says seokjin. “hoseok-ah. will you do me the honour of being my dance partner?”

“always, hyung,” says hoseok, practically throwing himself out of the booth and dragging seokjin with him. jeongguk can’t help but grin as he watches them, even if he’s worried that they’re going to break their legs on the dance floor. he can see a beautiful friendship budding, unfortunately—now hoseok will want to come over all the time. and he loves hoseok, really, so he doesn’t mind fusing their friend groups, but it’s still dangerous.

after they’re gone, almost bumping into a waitress carrying a tray of drinks, jeongguk lets out another giggle and turns his face into yoongi’s arm. “this was such a bad idea,” he says.

“i’m beginning to see why you were apprehensive about letting them meet,” says yoongi. “we may have made a grave mistake.”

“this is the best night of my life,” mumbles namjoon, sounding like he’s on the verge of falling asleep. jeongguk peeks around yoongi’s arm at him, really hoping that he’s not going to throw up, but. he’s sure that namjoon can hold his own.

in the meantime, he feels yoongi turn his face, dropping a kiss to the top of jeongguk’s head. “doing okay, baby?” he asks, and jeongguk’s stomach bursts into butterflies, fluttering all the way up and up; he hasn’t had a drop of alcohol but still feels a little drunk, maybe off of the affection or the attention or the fact that yoongi hasn’t left his side once in the past few hours, even before they got here.

“yeah,” jeongguk mumbles, rubbing his thumb over the back of yoongi’s hand. “i guess this place isn’t so bad when we’re stuck in a corner.”

“we could still ditch.”

“we can’t now,” says jeongguk, looking at namjoon again. “they’d probably fall into a ditch without us. i’m supposed to be the designated driver.”

“do you even have your driver’s licence?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk just giggles. he doesn’t, technically, but seokjin taught him how to drive—which is also probably not a good thing, because seokjin doesn’t really know how to drive either. somehow, he coerced someone into giving him a licence, though, and he trusts seokjin more than namjoon in that department.

there’s a loud screech from the dance floor and jeongguk stretches his neck in order to look over and see—hoseok and seokjin attempting to do some sort of tango, although both of them have two left feet and it’s not going very well. at least they’re having fun, though. on the table, namjoon lets out a little snore.

“i’m thirsty,” says jeongguk after a second, looking up at yoongi imploringly. he’s certainly not going to get out of the booth, and he knows that yoongi will if he bats his eyelashes a few times.

yoongi turns to look at him. “do you think they have banana milk here?”

hyung. i’ll at least have a diet coke.”

“that’s not any healthier for you than regular coke.”

“i can pretend.”

yoongi snorts at him, but he drops a kiss to jeongguk’s forehead anyway—and jeongguk blushes, doesn’t know when casually kissing like that became the norm for their relationship. it feels like they’re slowly slipping into something deeper and deeper every time they see each other, not just friends anymore but something in between, something in the grey area that jeongguk is too fond to ask about. he’s afraid of scaring yoongi off if he addresses it, if he asks why yoongi wants to hold his hand and kiss his forehead and call him baby all of the time.

he likes it too much, is the thing—he likes the attention that yoongi gives him, the bit of danger in that. yoongi still isn’t the person he should like, not with his bad habits and tattoos and criminal record. if jeongguk ever told his parents about yoongi, he’s sure they would find a way to bring him back to busan just to protect him. but he likes it too much—likes that yoongi is all too eager to clamber over a sleeping namjoon to get to the bar and order him a diet coke, even though it might make him look silly. he doesn’t mind looking silly for jeongguk, or letting him wear his jacket even though that jacket is precious and jeongguk already has a sweater on and yoongi is only in a t-shirt now, even though there’s a breeze in the bar. he doesn’t mind it at all. and jeongguk doesn’t mind it, either.

he thinks about it for a moment, when he watches yoongi disappear into the crowd—he likes yoongi so much. and yoongi likes him, or—maybe does. in all honesty, jeongguk isn’t worried about it. yoongi gets him out of his room, makes him laugh, makes him feel like he belongs, like he’s finally found something good. and there’s nothing more than he could ask for, not in this serendipitous, happenstance thing he’s found.

namjoon snores again, making jeongguk giggle; he’s not sure if he should leave him, not ever having dealt with a drunk person before, but he looks fine. his attention drifts to the dance floor again, where hoseok and seokjin are now performing some sort of girl group dance that they both happen to know, or maybe hoseok has taught it to seokjin in the past five minutes. he’s not worried. maybe this is turning out better than he thought it would, better than—

“hey there.” jeongguk startles a little at a low voice near his ear, and he turns around to see a stranger leaning over the back of the booth, grinning at him. he blinks, staring up at the man as though he’s been caught in headlights, not entirely sure what to do.

“um,” he begins, shrinking a little at the sudden attention. “hi?”

“i couldn’t help but notice you,” says the man, lips curling into a charming grin, and jeongguk feels his cheeks begin to heat up, discomfort blooming in the pit of his stomach. he’s not stupid, despite being a little more innocent than other people his age—he already knows what this is. “you’re pretty cute, did you know that?”

“th-thank you,” jeongguk stutters, dropping his eyes because he can’t look at the stranger, not when he’s being complimented.

the man chuckles, clearly pleased with the shyness—and is that what yoongi looked about him, too, at first? and is this any different? “i don’t know if you’re with anyone tonight, but would you let me buy you a drink? a cutie like you deserves to be spoiled that much, at least.”

jeongguk swallows tightly, the discomfort spreading. the truth is that he’s never been good with attention, or with someone making advances on him; there haven’t been a lot of those, because he spends a lot of time alone and doesn’t go to places where advances are warranted—like bars. he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to politely ask the man to leave, because—what if he gets upset? he’s being nice, of course, asking if he can buy jeongguk a drink. that’s a very nice thing to do, and even if jeongguk doesn’t want it, maybe he should say yes, maybe he should just be nice back, maybe it can’t be so bad if this man is offering him something, and jeongguk is anxious, doesn’t know, doesn’t know—

he throws a desperate eye toward the dance floor, hoping that seokjin and hoseok might be coming back now, but they’re too busy twerking. his eyes move to the bar, then, still crowded, needing yoongi yoongi yoongi—

“what do you say?” asks the man beside him, and jeongguk is going to. fucking. cry. “you gonna let me buy you a drink, sweetheart?”

jeongguk can take care of himself. of course he can take care of himself, but when the crowd parts just enough and he sees yoongi heading back to the table with two drinks in his hands, jeongguk has never felt more relieved. he doesn’t—need protection, but he wants it. he wants it because he doesn’t know what to do and he knows that yoongi will know, because yoongi always knows, because yoongi is covered in tattoos and has mint hair and got arrested once, which means he’ll know how to deal with it.

the look that jeongguk gives him is one full of discomfort and desperation, eyes widening as they make eye contact across the bar and he tries to convey the fact that someone is bothering him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. the truth is that the man isn’t bothering him, isn’t harassing him, but—yoongi must see the panicked look on his face and take it as the worst case scenario.

the next thing jeongguk knows, yoongi is back at the table, setting down the drinks and moving around the side of the booth so that he’s standing beside the man, directly in front of jeongguk like he’s shielding him, hand already reaching out to curl over the back of jeongguk’s neck.

“is this man bothering you, baby?” he asks lowly, keeping his eyes locked on the stranger; even from here, jeongguk can see something dark in them, can see the stranger back up just a little.

“no, hyung,” says jeongguk quickly. “it’s okay, he just—wanted to buy me a drink.”

“is that so,” deadpans yoongi.

“doesn’t he deserve to have drinks bought for him?” asks the stranger, clearly not one to be scared off easily, and jeongguk swallows tightly when yoongi’s hand tightens around the back of his neck.

“did he ask for a drink from you?” asks yoongi, voice dropping an octave lower than normal.

“hyung, it’s fine,” says jeongguk weakly, reaching up to tug at his arm. “just leave it.”

“no. if he’s bothering you, then he needs to leave,” says yoongi.

“i’m not bothering him,” says the stranger, “and he didn’t say anything about a boyfriend, either.”

“he’s not my boyfriend,” whispers jeongguk at the same time that yoongi says, “he doesn’t want a drink from you.”

“he couldn’t tell me that himself?” asks the stranger, getting angry now, and jeongguk feels—even more uncomfortable even though yoongi is here, even though yoongi is touching him. the two of them are at a stand off, only a foot apart, and jeongguk can see the hard look on yoongi’s face. his grip is almost painful on jeongguk’s neck.

“hyung,” he whispers again.

“how about you fuck off?” growls yoongi.

hyung,” repeats jeongguk.

“if you’re not his boyfriend, then you don’t own him,” says the stranger. “nothing wrong with me buying him a drink, is there? sounds like you’re a being a little possessive of him. i doubt he appreciates that.”

“don’t fucking speak for him.”

“you’re the one telling me he doesn’t want me to buy him a drink when he’s shown nothing of the sort.”

hyung,” jeongguk tries again, practically on the verge of tears at watching it unfold, at knowing it’s his fault for not being able to tell the stranger that he doesn’t want a drink, and he doesn’t want—this. he’s frightened of the way yoongi is getting so riled up at something like this, voice getting louder and louder, like he might start throwing punches, might get them kicked out. “i’m okay, just let it go.”

“you heard him,” says the stranger. “let it go.”

“i’ll fucking let something—” yoongi begins, and then namjoon wakes up with a shout, bolting upright in the seat. it startles jeongguk, who turns to look at him and remembers, suddenly, that there are other people in the bar. he reaches out for namjoon instantly, despite the other man being half-asleep, and tries to scoot closer to him, feeling a little afraid of yoongi. but yoongi notices—yoongi notices him pulling away, finally looks at him and actually sees the expression on jeongguk’s face. and jeongguk looks up at him, unsure how else to make him stop.

“just let it go,” he whispers, latching onto namjoon’s arm. he takes a deep breath, looking at the stranger again before he adds, “i don’t want a drink. but, um—thank you.”

“wasn’t so hard, now, was it?” asks the stranger with a laugh, and jeongguk reaches out for yoongi’s arm before yoongi can turn around and do something rash, like punch him in the face. from the way yoongi’s jaw is clenched, he’d guess that that’s exactly what yoongi wants to do, anyway, and jeongguk doesn’t—can’t—

“fucking prick,” mutters yoongi once the stranger has disappeared into the crowd again, and namjoon mumbles something, and jeongguk turns to see hoseok and seokjin finally returning to the table, sweaty and laughing and definitely still too drunk, oblivious to everything else that has been happening. jeongguk swallows again, letting go of yoongi’s arm.

“you don’t have to do that,” he says quietly, looking up at yoongi. “he wasn’t bothering me.”

“he was trying to buy you a drink even though you clearly didn’t want one,” says yoongi.

“i just—didn’t know how to say no. i thought it would be mean.”

“jeongguk-ah—” begins yoongi, sounding almost exasperated, but he doesn’t get anything else out before hoseok and seokjin begin loudly calling for more drinks, and jeongguk is all too eager to pay attention to them instead, not wanting to dwell on the murderous look on yoongi’s face when he’d been dealing with the stranger. he forgot, of course—he forgot that yoongi isn’t nice to everyone, not the way he’s nice to jeongguk. forgot that yoongi has no qualms about hurting other people, about smoking and getting drunk if he wants to, and that’s—scary, somehow. scary that jeongguk can forget. scary that he can be blinded by his own feelings enough to ignore something that has always been part of yoongi in the first place.

when yoongi slips back into the booth, jeongguk keeps his arm looped through namjoon’s, even when yoongi nudges him, even when he trails his fingers over the side of jeongguk’s thigh, clearly asking for something—something that jeongguk suddenly doesn’t want to give. even later, when jeongguk finally announces that it’s probably best if they go home, because seokjin and hoseok have drunk far too much and namjoon keeps trying to explain to every waiter that passes what his master’s thesis is, yoongi presses against his side, mutters a, “sorry, guk-ah—sorry, hyung’s sorry,” and jeongguk realizes he’s drunk, too, and he doesn’t like the twisted feeling in his gut.

he drives seokjin and namjoon home, and then brings hoseok and yoongi to their apartment. he realizes they didn’t really think it through, not when yoongi tugs on his sleeve, asks if he wants to stay, says it like he’s pleading and not entirely sure, and jeongguk thinks of how he’d looked at the stranger and just shakes his head, says he’ll take the bus even though it’s two in the morning. he’s fine, he says.

when he gets home, he stares at the nail polish stain on his bed and it feels like a reminder of the fucking mess yoongi has made of his life—in a good way, usually. not tonight, though.

jeongguk sleeps on the couch.

the next morning, there’s a knock on the door right on time; jeongguk had assumed that yoongi would dip out of driving him to work, considering he’d gotten a little drunker than either of them had intended last night, and jeongguk had already told him that he would be fine taking the bus for once. but there’s a thrill, something delighted inside of him when he realizes that yoongi is still there—despite what he’d felt last night, that bit of fear and distance, jeongguk knows that he can’t spend any time apart from yoongi. he’s addicted, maybe. probably.

both namjoon and seokjin are still asleep, unsurprisingly. jeongguk is quiet as he grabs his backpack and heads for the door, opening it with a greeting for yoongi already on his tongue, only for him to open the door and see that—it’s not yoongi.

it’s hoseok.

“what are you doing here?” asks jeongguk, eyebrows furrowing. “aren’t you hungover as fuck?” hoseok looks it—he’s wearing sweatpants and a sweater, hair a mess and face a little rough.

“yoongi-hyung can’t make it,” says hoseok, and then turns around and starts walking to his car, parked just outside the apartment. “i figured i should take over for him today.”

“i… can take the bus, hyung,” says jeongguk, closing the door behind him anyway as he hurries after hoseok. “i figured that yoongi-hyung wasn’t going to be picking me up today anyway, since we went out last night.”

“i thought…” begins hoseok, pausing when he gets to the side of the car and turning to look at jeongguk. “sorry, i thought he would have planned anyway, but…”

“but what?” asks jeongguk. “it’s fine if he’s hungover.”

“it’s not that,” says hoseok, rubbing a hand over his face. “it’s—not that.”

jeongguk’s eyebrows furrow. hoseok is acting strangely, even for being hungover. it doesn’t make sense that he would come pick up jeongguk if yoongi had told him that he wasn’t going, because he would have said that jeongguk could make it on his own. which means… yoongi must not have told him that he wouldn’t make it. which means he’s been indisposed for a reason other than being hungover.

“what’s going on?” asks jeongguk, and hoseok just shakes his head, moving around the side of the car and opening the driver’s door.

“just get in,” he says. “it’s not my place to say.”

so jeongguk does, feeling strange about all of it as hoseok drives him to the bookshop and drops him off, mumbling something about going back to bed as jeongguk closes the door behind him and watches hoseok drive away.

he spends the entire morning worried that something bad happened to yoongi, because hoseok hasn’t led him to believe anything else—but he hasn’t gotten any worrying texts from yoongi, which might not actually be a sign that nothing has happened. his boss has to remind him to do his work twice, because he’s too distracted, staring out the window as though yoongi will just show up to explain what happened.

but—that’s exactly what does happen.

jeongguk is about to go on his lunch break when the little bell above the door sounds and he turns to grin at the new customer, only to see mint hair and leather. he freezes in the middle of the aisle, noting that yoongi looks about how bad as hoseok did in the morning, and then yoongi lifts a hand to rub at his nose and jeongguk sees that his knuckles are bruised.

“yoongi-hyung,” he gasps, darting across the shop and grabbing yoongi’s arm so he can drag him back out. as he passes his boss, he lets out a, “sorry, gonna—break,” and then pushes the door open, bringing yoongi out with him before turning around and staring at him. he grabs yoongi’s hands, bringing them up to eye level so he can inspect them. sure enough, just as he’d seen in the shop, the knuckles on both of his hands are bruised, one of them even cut. it looks painful.

“what happened to you?” jeongguk asks, staring at yoongi’s knuckles and thinking the worst—he got into an accident, he hurt himself, he’s not okay. jeongguk looks up, then, at yoongi’s face, and notes, with a roll of his stomach, that yoongi is wearing foundation. which he never does, especially not like that; it’s practically caked around his cheekbones, and jeongguk stares and stares until—he gets it.

jeongguk gingerly raises a hand, intending to touch yoongi’s cheekbone, but yoongi jerks his head backwards, and that’s all he needs to know.

“i’m sorry for not showing up this morning,” says yoongi, and he’s not looking at jeongguk, he’s not looking. “and i’m sorry i didn’t text you to let you know that i wasn’t coming. it was irresponsible.”

“did you get in a fight?” jeongguk asks quietly.

“doesn’t matter,” mutters yoongi, pulling his hands out of jeongguk’s and shoving them into his pockets. “i just wanted to apologize. i’ll be there tomorrow.”

“yoongi-hyung,” says jeongguk, and he can’t help the alarms going off in his head, the panic surfacing again—but a different kind from last night. this time, he isn’t afraid of yoongi, but afraid for him, remembering what he had remembered last night: yoongi isn’t sweet. he isn’t nice, at least not to people that aren’t jeongguk or hoseok or even namjoon and seokjin. there’s a reason that he dresses the way he does. i have gotten arrested before, he’d said.

yoongi looks at him, eyes dark. “i said it doesn’t matter,” he says. “don’t worry about me, guk-ah.”

“are you okay?” asks jeongguk. “did someone jump you? are you—hyung. you’re scaring me.” he thinks of the stranger who had tried to buy jeongguk a drink last night, and how yoongi had swooped in like a knight in shining armour and then very quickly turned into a nightmare instead, how he’d looked at that man, how jeongguk had had to beg him to let it go.

maybe yoongi hadn’t. or maybe yoongi had just been too drunk and riled up when jeongguk dropped him off at his apartment, and maybe he went out looking for a way to let it out. maybe he happened to stumble into something that was going to hit back.

“i’m fine, jeongguk,” yoongi says again, a little softer this time, like he’s really trying to show it. “it happens sometimes.”

“you getting in fights?” asks jeongguk. “you—getting protective of people and almost hurting them because of it? you drinking and making stupid decisions?” he can tell it makes yoongi uncomfortable to hear it, to hear someone talk about it like he’s not just going to accept it, because jeongguk doesn’t want to. “you scared me last night, hyung. i don’t like how you acted around that guy when i told you to let it go. i don’t like when you—do that.

“do what?”

“i don’t know,” huffs jeongguk. “you don’t have to look at everyone like they’re going to fuck you over or hurt you. the world isn’t your punching bag, hyung. and i know you have… your things. but you don’t have go through life with your fists up.” the truth is that this is the first time jeongguk has seen him like this, but he doesn’t want see yoongi like this again. jeongguk is nice, is soft; maybe he needs protection. but he’s gotten this far in life without being hurt, so maybe yoongi can take a page out of his book.

“i’m sorry,” says yoongi finally. “i didn’t know i upset you like that. i just—didn’t want that guy to bother you.”

“i know,” says jeongguk. “and i do appreciate that. but i’m okay, right? i’m fine. he didn’t do anything to me.” it’s flattering, somewhat, for yoongi to be protective of him. but jeongguk is still nineteen years old and, despite being soft, can fend for himself for the most part. or at least knows when he can and when he can’t.

for the first time since they met, yoongi looks a little sheepish. “i didn’t go back and beat him up, if that’s what you’re thinking,” he says. “i just want you to know that. it wasn’t him.”

“i don’t want to know who it was,” says jeongguk. “i don’t care about them. i care about you, and i don’t want you to get hurt. are you really okay?”

yoongi laughs quietly, husky. he takes his hands out of his pockets, wiggling his fingers at jeongguk. “not broken,” he says, “and it’s hardly the worst injury i’ve had. it’ll heal.”

jeongguk lets out a sigh. “you worry me sometimes, hyung,” he says, and then steps forward and into yoongi’s space, wrapping his arms around yoongi’s neck and pulling him in for a hug. “you really worry me sometimes.”

“that’s what you get for becoming friends with someone like me.”

“i only became friends with you for your bike. i thought we went over this already.”

“you’re a brat,” says yoongi, but it’s said with amusement, and jeongguk thinks—they’ll be fine. maybe yoongi will try not to fight people to get his frustration out, but jeongguk also can’t expect yoongi to change for him. this isn’t one of those stories and it’s certainly not a movie. when he pulls back, though, he hesitates and then leans forward again, pressing a very soft and gentle kiss to yoongi’s cheek, not wanting to hurt him.

“make sure you ice your knuckles,” he says when he steps away. “and don’t hurt yourself anymore.”

“i won’t,” says yoongi.

jeongguk regards him silently, figuring that this is the exact thing to complete yoongi’s image—mint hair, leather jacket, ripped jeans. and now: bruised cheek, bruised knuckles. his parents would have a fit.

“i have to go back to work,” says jeongguk. “goodbye min yoongi, who thinks he’s part of fight club.”

yoongi cracks the smallest of grins. “goodbye jeon jeongguk,” he replies, “whose kisses hopefully have healing powers.” jeongguk’s own grin only lasts until yoongi gets to his bike, puts his helmet on, and leaves. it’s too late, though, he knows, to turn around and back out of this—there’s no way he could tell his heart to stop feeling what it does for yoongi. there’s only one way to go, and that’s onward.

the thing about jeongguk wanting to be a singer is that—he’s shy about it. he joined his high school choir only because the choir teacher hounded him for months, begging for him to lend his voice for just a song or two. he’s always loved singing, always loved dancing around his room and belting out different tunes, but it’s different when he’s not singing for himself. it’s different when he’s singing in front of people, and it’s different when those people might not like his voice. it’s a confidence thing, probably. his parents have always been very supportive of it, gently encouraging him to follow his dream of singing for more than just himself, even though it took a few years for him to realize that is what he wants.

which it is. it is, which is why he’s working at the bookshop, because he wants to make sure that he has the strongest voice possible when he auditions for companies. maybe it’s a little late; he knows people who auditioned at thirteen or fourteen, and he’s already nineteen. but jeongguk always had a late start on things, and besides, there’s something about patience in there.

he likes to sing, thinks he’s pretty good at it. but he’s still shy about it, still unsure about letting people hear him sing. before he came to seoul, his mother told him that he would have to get over that if he wanted to make singing a career, because the point of being a singer or an idol is actually singing for people—in front of thousands at a time, maybe. jeongguk’s not sure he’s good enough for that, but he knows she has a point.

it took him almost two and a half months to work up the courage to sing in front of namjoon and seokjin, despite being honest about it the first time they met that he wanted to be a singer. for a week straight, seokjin begged him to sing every time they saw each other, and jeongguk shyly refused, saying he wasn’t ready yet. but he did eventually—and once those flood gates were opened, all of his apprehension about letting his roommates hear him disappeared.

he sings all the time in the apartment, then—when he’s cooking, when he’s listening to music in his room. he and seokjin have a strange unspoken competition in which they’ll take every opportunity in conversation to burst into song if someone happens to say a lyric. namjoon isn’t fond of it, but jeongguk thinks he secretly enjoys hearing the two of them scream-singing at each other.

jeongguk likes singing—and he loves singing in the shower. sometimes, if he sings loud enough, he can hear seokjin joining in because his room is beside the bathroom. and usually he sings very loudly and off-key to ruin jeongguk’s singing—but today, it’s just jeongguk and the shower and a justin bieber song, one that he’s been obsessed with lately. it’s not his fault that the bathroom has the best acoustics, and it might be early in the morning, but he knows that both namjoon and seokjin are awake and won’t mind.

so jeongguk sings. he sings very, very loudly, putting as much pizazz into the one-man show as possible. he’s in a good mood, because it’s going to be a good day; yoongi’s taking him to work, and then after work, picking him back up so they can go for dinner at some new restaurant that opened up near yoongi’s apartment. it only took jeongguk dropping hints for a week straight for yoongi to get the memo, but they’re working on it.

his singing dissolves into humming as he steps out of the shower, quickly drying himself off and towelling at his hair before he secures the towel around his waist and sneaks out of the bathroom. he’s trying to decide what outfit he should wear—it’s been a while since he’s gone with overalls, but it kind of makes him look like a little kid, and he’s not sure his boss would appreciate that kind of attire when he’s shelving things in the erotica section—when he wanders past the kitchen on the way to his room, and then—

stops.

because yoongi is sitting in his kitchen, sipping at a mug of coffee. and jeongguk is standing right behind him, half-naked and dripping wet, and he’s just spent the past fifteen minutes singing his little heart out.

“ah, jeongguk-ah!” says namjoon, poking his head out from behind the fridge door. “there you are. yoongi-hyung came early, so i let him in.”

jeongguk stares at namjoon, a look of dread and alarm on his face as he hears a mug hit the table, and then the rustle of fabric against the chair, meaning yoongi is turning around, meaning yoongi is going to look at him, and jeongguk’s eyes snap back to the table in time to see yoongi’s head turn to look at him and then—freeze.

it’s not embarrassing, really, because jeongguk doesn’t have a nice body. it’s embarrassing because he does, because even though he wears oversized clothes and looks like he’d probably lose in a fist fight against a kitten, that’s hardly the truth. jeongguk likes working out. jeongguk has biceps and pecs and abs. jeongguk has abs.

and yoongi is staring at them.

“um,” says jeongguk, not entirely sure what to do or say. most of him just wants to melt into the floor and die. namjoon shuts the fridge door, wandering between the two of them with a jug of milk in his hand, apparently oblivious to the fact that both yoongi and jeongguk have just short circuited and need a reboot. after a second, jeongguk slowly crosses his arms over himself, attempting to hide a little. “hello, yoongi-hyung.”

yoongi doesn’t say anything, just continues to stare somewhere below jeongguk’s face, and jeongguk feels himself beginning to heat up, getting far too embarrassed about this. he could probably run away, but his feet feel rooted to the spot, and he’ll just—die of shame. that’s fine. he’s had a good life.

the silence stretches on. finally, jeongguk clears his throat. “i’m gonna… go put a shirt on,” he says, noting that yoongi’s eyes don’t flicker up to his once. not even when he begins to step backwards, retreating back into the hallway. “okay. bye,” he adds, and then turns around and disappears into his room.

he goes with the overalls, because he feels like wearing as many layers as possible might somehow help him get over the horrific incident of yoongi seeing him half-naked. and despite wanting to text yoongi from his room and tell him that he’s going to be taking the bus this morning, he can hear yoongi and namjoon talking in the kitchen. and he doesn’t want to have to explain to namjoon that yoongi seeing him shirtless is a much bigger deal than namjoon or seokjin seeing him shirtless, so he musters up all of his courage and goes back to the kitchen.

jeongguk clears his throat again, sitting down at the seat next to yoongi, so that he doesn’t have to look at his face.

“hi,” he says, “again.”

when he peeks at yoongi, he sees that yoongi’s cheeks are pink. he stares at his mug. “hello, jeongguk,” he replies.

“yoongi-hyung and i were just talking about how nice your voice is, jeongguk-ah,” says namjoon, still fucking oblivious—or, and jeongguk realizes this is the more likely possibility, he knows exactly what he’s doing and likes to revel in jeongguk’s misery—“what were you saying, yoongi-hyung?”

yoongi makes this awkward coughing sound, shrugging one of his shoulders. “yeah, i mean,” he begins, “it’s really good, jeongguk-ah. i can see why you want to be singer.”

“he was gushing about it,” says namjoon. “don’t be fooled. he said, and i quote, i would literally kill a man to get my hands on an album of jeongguk’s singing.

“you… heard me singing?” asks jeongguk, shrinking into his seat as the embarrassment flares up again. not only has yoongi seen him half-naked, but he’s also heard him singing—completely by accident. and of course he would love to share his voice with yoongi, would love to sing for him, but he didn’t want yoongi to hear like this—in the shower. he’d been trying to work up the courage, because singing for yoongi is something special. sharing anything with yoongi is special.

yoongi rubs at the back of his neck. “yeah,” he says. “namjoon let me in, like he said, and you were—singing, so. it was kind of hard not to hear it.”

“i really liked the sing you were singing,” says namjoon. “you could do a cover of it and post it on youtube or something. i bet people would love it.”

“thanks,” mumbles jeongguk. strangely, it’s relieving to be focusing on his singing and not the fact that he walked into the kitchen half-naked just ten minutes ago. objectively, that’s much more embarrassing than yoongi hearing him singing in the shower, so he’ll take it. he’ll take it because yoongi said he likes jeongguk’s singing, and that’s much easier to handle than yoongi saying something about his body. that’s a conversation he’d much rather not have now. or ever.

yoongi sips at his drink again. jeongguk stares at the table. namjoon says, “oh shit. i have to leave. have a good day at work, jeongguk-ah!” and then gets up from the table, hurrying to put his breakfast dishes away before he disappears further into the apartment.

after a long bout of silence, jeongguk lifts his head to look at yoongi again. he swallows tightly, keeping his voice small and quiet when he asks, “did you really think it was good? my singing, i mean.”

yoongi looks at him, finally. his cheeks are still a little pink, but he’s grinning. “yeah,” he says. “yeah, guk-ah, your voice is amazing. and i’m sure you weren’t even trying that hard since you were singing in the shower, but that just goes to show how much talent you have. i think you’ll be an amazing singer when you decide to audition for a company.”

the butterflies in jeongguk’s stomach flutter flutter flutter, shoulders hiking up around his ears at the praise; as much as he likes getting compliments, he’s never been good at receiving them. doesn’t know what to do with them, doesn’t know how to keep this feeling of warmth forever—at knowing that yoongi likes his voice, thinks that he’ll be successful. he settles on a shy, “thanks, hyung.”

“you should sing for me sometime,” says yoongi. “properly sing. but only if you want to and only when you’re ready. i know this was, uh—” he coughs. “an accident. so it’s fine if you never want to sing for me again, but i’d really like if you would.”

the thing is, jeongguk does want to sing for yoongi. but he has to make sure he chooses the perfect song and the perfect place and practices for hours on end so that it’s the perfect performance. yoongi doesn’t deserve anything less than that. still—“okay,” he nods. “i’d like that, too. i wanted to sing for you anyway, but, um… i was just nervous.”

“you have a really beautiful voice, jeongguk,” says yoongi, earnest now. “i know it’s scary to share that with people, but you don’t have to be nervous. there’s no way that i wouldn’t like it, especially. you know me. i like everything about you.”

jeongguk’s cheeks flush, quickly looking back to the table. he thinks about it—thinks about how they’ve been friends for almost three months now, how they’ve been steadily growing closer and closer, and yoongi still makes him nervous. yoongi still manages to fluster him, but. that’s good. that’s good, because he can fluster yoongi, too, even if he usually isn’t trying.

which has to mean something. right?

“how close are you to being able to take lessons, anyway?” asks yoongi, thankfully steering the conversation away from feelings. “i feel like you should be doing more than just singing in the shower. maybe namjoon has a point about youtube.”

“i’m not making a youtube channel, hyung,” says jeongguk, wrinkling his nose. “that’s too awkward. i could probably swing cheap lessons right now, but i want to make sure that i get the best ones, so i was hoping that… maybe after six months or a year i’d be able to start.”

“a year?” asks yoongi. “jeongguk-ah, that’s way too long. don’t you want to sing now?”

jeongguk shrugs, picking at the sleeve of his shirt. “yeah,” he admits, “but i’m fine just singing in my room. it’s still singing.”

“you should join a singing group,” yoongi says. “i’m sure there are tonnes around here. you know, just a group of people that get together and sing sometimes, like a choir. it wouldn’t even have to be competitive or one of those groups that sings at events. just… singing. with other people who like singing and can help you.”

the idea of singing with other people almost makes jeongguk queasy; he’d liked singing in his high school choir, but he had easily been the best member, so he didn’t have to worry about getting jealous of someone else’s voice or solos. and besides, all of those people were people he knew—some of them were his classmates. here, he’s in a big city full of strangers. and jeongguk doesn’t do well with strangers.

“i don’t know, hyung,” he pouts, refusing to look at yoongi. “what if i’m not good enough for it? or they don’t want me or i panic and get scared?”

“you don’t have to,” says yoongi, reaching over and grabbing jeongguk’s hand. it gives him something to focus on—the way yoongi holds onto his fingers, tugging a little. “it was just a suggestion. obviously you can do what you want, but i think you should be sharing your voice before a year is over. you should think about it.”

jeongguk looks up, looks at yoongi’s face—he has so much faith in jeongguk, always has. and maybe he’s the forward one and confident and doesn’t care what other people think of him, so it’s easy for him to say something like that. but maybe it’s less about yoongi not knowing what it’s like to be jeongguk and more about yoongi knowing jeongguk and knowing that sometimes he needs a good nudge in the right direction. if it was up to jeongguk, he’d spend every day in his bedroom because everything else is scary. but his entire friendship with yoongi has been about gently tugging him out of his comfort zone, gently showing him that things can be okay like this.

that’s what yoongi is doing here, he realizes. he’s taking care of jeongguk.

so jeongguk gives him a tiny grin, growing when yoongi grins back at him. “i’ll think about it,” he says. “and—you’ll help me research groups if i decide i want to? and come to the first practice with me to make sure that no one tries to murder me in the back alley?”

“of course,” says yoongi. “i’ll flash them my tattoos and they’ll go running. although…” he pauses, eyes flickering down to jeongguk’s chest, his arms, then back up again. “you sure you couldn’t handle them yourself? i didn’t know you were packing so many muscles under all those oversized sweaters of yours.”

“oh my god,” says jeongguk, snatching his hand out of yoongi’s and immediately getting up, hurrying out of the kitchen and toward his room.

“what?” calls yoongi, laughing; apparently he’s managed to recover from whatever his weird staring thing was when he first saw jeongguk shirtless. “you didn’t tell me that you work out so much! how do you have the face of a baby but the body of a greek god?”

“shut up, yoongi-hyung!”

“those are dangerous goods, jeongguk-ah. do you have a warrant for those guns?”

jeongguk slams his door shut.

jeongguk thinks about it. a little, at first, shyly asking namjoon and seokjin if they think it’s a good idea, and with their enthusiasm and encouragement, he starts looking for groups to join. it seems that yoongi is more enthusiastic than he is, constantly sending links and ads of things that he’s found. as scary as it is—putting himself out there, letting other people hear him—it’s easier when he has yoongi. it’s easier when yoongi is careful and is loud so that jeongguk can be quiet, does most of the work so that jeongguk can’t get overwhelmed and discouraged when he doesn’t find what he wants.

eventually, they find a group that jeongguk likes. just a hobby group, full of a range of ages and genders, meeting once a week in a church basement so they can sing together and do nothing more. it’s small, doesn’t require much commitment other than showing up and singing. it’s something that jeongguk can handle, something that he thinks will be good for him.

he sings for yoongi as the first step before singing in front of a group of strangers. practices the song for days and days before, trying to work himself up to it. what he finds is that it might actually be easier to sing for strangers, because at least he doesn’t know them; what they think of his voice matters less than what yoongi thinks, and he’s not sure he can sing when yoongi looks at him like that, the one he always does: like jeongguk holds all of the stars in his eyes and then some.

in the end, he sings to yoongi over the phone, throws a blanket over his head as he calls yoongi and hears yoongi pick up with, “hello jeon jeongguk, the next rain.”

“hyung, stop,” breathes jeongguk, hugging august to his chest. he’s already nervous as it is, having chickened out of doing it face to face. he can practically hear yoongi’s grin through the phone, can imagine it—wants to kiss it.

what are you doing?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk takes a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut. thinks of how yoongi makes him feel—like a cherry blossom, growing and growing, delicate and pretty and so, so precious. yoongi makes him feel precious, like he’s just been waiting with bated breath, watching for the moment jeongguk finally blooms.

jeongguk wants to bloom. so he begins to sing.

he’d chosen it carefully, the song. in the end, he’d gone with only then by roy kim, partially because he means it, partially because he thinks he sounds good singing it. mostly because a few weeks ago, yoongi sent him a four paragraph text about the song, about how much he loves it. how much it makes him feel.

jeongguk wants to make him feel. wants to make him feel like that, wants to be the only one to make him feel. it feels special, then, as he sings—quietly and unsure at first, then louder and more confident as he goes along. yoongi doesn’t make a sound on the other end, not the entire time, and that’s good, jeongguk thinks; he almost forgets that yoongi is there. but all of it is true—the way to love jeongguk isn’t hard. the way to love yoongi isn’t hard.

he’s just trying to figure it out.

when he finishes, holding the last note long enough until his voice fades out into the silence of his room. jeongguk sucks in another breath, stomach turning as he waits for yoongi to say something; he squeezes august too hard, hears yoongi’s muffled voice from the recorder saying, “hello little one. you have the most beautiful voice i’ve ever heard.”

after a second, he hears yoongi’s voice in his ear, through the phone—“well. he’s right.”

jeongguk hides his face in his knees, clutching the phone hard enough to shake. “hyung,” he begins.

“you are so special, jeongguk,” says yoongi. “did you know that? i feel very, very lucky to know you. i feel very lucky that you choose to show me parts of your heart like that.”

“i trust you with it,” whispers jeongguk. “my heart, i mean.”

“i’ll keep it safe, then,” says yoongi. “i promise.”

they don’t say much after that, just staying on the line with each other. jeongguk listens to the sound of yoongi’s breathing, thinks he could get used to it. wishes, suddenly, that he’d been brave enough to sing to yoongi in person, because even with yoongi this close, it’s not close enough. he feels the distance between them too greatly, feels something squeezing his heart that wasn’t there before and he thinks, oh. oh.

this is something new.

he tucks it under his ribcage, keeping the seed of it there, where it’ll be safe. where it can grow.

eventually, jeongguk whispers, “goodnight min yoongi, who owns my heart.”

yoongi whispers back, “goodnight jeon jeongguk, who owns mine.”

two days later, jeongguk goes to the first meeting of the singing group crescendo, invited there after he’d emailed the director. yoongi goes with him, holding his hand down the street and into the basement of the church. jeongguk sings for the group—only then by roy kim, because yoongi told him to. they let him into the group. jeongguk doesn’t take his eyes off yoongi once.

to celebrate, yoongi takes him to a concert—some little known singer yoongi has been keeping an eye on for the past few years, playing in a bar on a friday night. it’s not much, maybe, but jeongguk feels warm and cared for and special, feels like a cherry blossom again when yoongi shows up at the apartment with flowers as part of the congratulations, eyes lined with make-up and a collar around his neck because jeongguk mentioned the other day that he likes when yoongi wears them.

jeongguk wears his best and fanciest outfit, does his hair with a little part on the side, and ignores the sidelong glances that namjoon gives him and seokjin saying, “have fun on your date,” as he happily skips out of the apartment with yoongi.

it’s not a date. it’s not a date, but yoongi gives him flowers anyway, and calls him pretty, and his fingers linger when he does up the chinstrap on jeongguk’s helmet. it’s not a date, but yoongi buys him as many diet cokes as he wants at the bar, and pulls jeongguk into his lap when the bar gets too crowded for both of them to claim a seat, and hooks his chin on jeongguk’s shoulder to hum in his ear along with the singer crooning on stage with her guitar. it’s not a date, but yoongi fits his hand on jeongguk’s waist, holds him tight, noses into the hair against jeongguk’s neck once he has two, three beers. says, “hyung’s thought about this a lot.” and jeongguk asks, “thought about what?” and yoongi says, “your waist is so tiny, gukkie. didn’t think about that until i saw it.”

it’s not a date, but jeongguk kind of wishes it is, because he likes it—likes yoongi’s hands on his waist and yoongi’s breath against his ear and yoongi’s attention on him, even in a crowded room. especially in a crowded room. yoongi touches him and whispers in his ear and buys him things, but—

it’s not a date. it can’t be a date, because that’s not what their relationship is. jeongguk has spent the past three months taking it slow, letting himself feel only so much for yoongi at one time. he takes his time, dipping his foot into the well of things that yoongi has made him feel since day one. but he’s shy, and often scared, and worried. he knows what he feels.

but he doesn’t know what yoongi feels. because yoongi is nice and sweet and knows him, but—so are namjoon and seokjin and hoseok. maybe they don’t touch him like yoongi, and maybe they don’t tease him like yoongi, and maybe they don’t talk to him like yoongi, but—but. how is jeongguk supposed to know? how is he supposed to know anything other than his own heart, which beats too fast when yoongi mumbles the lyrics of the song they’re listening into his ear, and the song is a love song, and it sounds like he means it?

he feels a strange sort of panic begin to well up inside of him, drowning the little blossom under his ribcage, the one all of his hope calls home. it only grows when he hears someone at the table next to theirs say something like aren’t they a cute couple? and jeongguk glances over to see the person looking at him. at yoongi. at the two of them.

but—jeongguk lets himself pretend, just for now, doesn’t want to ruin whatever this is. even if he’s unsure and confused and a little frightened, he likes yoongi too much to say anything—because if he says something, yoongi might decide he’s had enough. yoongi might leave, and he’d rather have yoongi with the uncertainty than not have yoongi at all.

when yoongi drives him home, jeongguk holds onto him a little tighter. whispers the lyrics of one of those songs, one of those songs that yoongi sang to him, or maybe just sang; maybe jeongguk is thinking too much about it, maybe he’s getting into his head too much. maybe he’s just sensitive, has never had to deal with these feelings before because he’s never been so brave as to let anyone close enough for it. yoongi is the first—the first everything.

on the curb outside of his apartment, jeongguk lingers. holds his breath as yoongi undoes the chin strap and pulls the helmet off of his head, running his fingers through jeongguk’s hair to fix it. something feels—different. it might be jeongguk. it might be how chilly it is, and he didn’t bring a coat. yoongi is preoccupied with his hair, tugging on the strands of his fringe, and they’re so, so close. jeongguk can almost see his breath between them.

he reaches out for yoongi, hooks his fingers into the pockets of his jacket. yoongi finally looks at him, eyes shifting just enough, and jeongguk—wants. he wants. but he wants yoongi to want, too.

“hyung,” jeongguk breathes out, and yoongi leans forward and up just enough, just enough—and then drops his hand to jeongguk’s chin, turning his face sideways before pressing a kiss to jeongguk’s cheek.

that’s not how it’s supposed to happen, he thinks briefly, and he doesn’t know if he means he’s supposed to be the one kissing yoongi’s cheek or if he means yoongi is supposed to kiss him properly, on the lips, kiss him closer, closer. anyway.

“goodnight jeon jeongguk,” murmurs yoongi as he pulls away, “whose cheeks were made for being kissed.”

“goodnight min yoongi,” whispers jeongguk, and he—doesn’t know what to say. doesn’t know what to say that isn’t wrong, somehow, or presumptuous, or too much. he just lets them be this time, letting go of yoongi’s jacket and backing away, all the way up and up and up to his apartment, watching yoongi watch him the whole time. at the door, he takes another moment to just look. and then he waves his fingers at yoongi, unlocks the door, and disappears inside.

something about it feels strangely reminiscent of the first time, when yoongi dropped him off after he’d gone over to he and hoseok’s apartment for dinner. when he realized that maybe there was something more, or could be, and he leaned against this door and let out a breath that contained everything he’d been holding in all evening. it’s strangely reminiscent because, once he takes off his shoes and ventures into the apartment, he finds namjoon and seokjin sitting on the kitchen table, looking out the window.

but it’s different this time, too—last time, seokjin said, you said it wasn’t a date, and jeongguk said, it wasn’t a date. this time, seokjin says, “you said it wasn’t a date,” and jeongguk sits down on the floor next to him, pushes his forehead into seokjin’s thigh, and says, “i really, really like him. i like like him. i have a big, fat, disgusting crush on him.”

neither namjoon nor seokjin says anything.

hesitantly, miserably, jeongguk adds, “i want to be his boyfriend.”

there’s a hand in his hair, just gentle, almost enough to make him cry. he doesn’t know why. above him, seokjin says, “oh, jeongguk.”

“what if he doesn’t?” asks jeongguk. “what if he doesn’t want me?”

“i don’t think that’s the problem,” says namjoon, and jeongguk lifts his head enough to look at him, almost obscured by the table. namjoon didn’t say it’s not a problem. he said it’s not the problem, which means there is one, which means—

“we’ve been meaning to talk to you,” continues namjoon, and seokjin’s hand tightens in his hair. “about—yoongi.”

“oh,” says jeongguk.

“we like him,” says seokjin, and jeongguk knows it’s not a good place to start, “but we’ve been talking a bit, and—jeongguk-ah. we know you like him. we know you like spending time with him and we know he treats you well, but we’re… worried.”

jeongguk turns his head to look up at seokjin—seokjin who is five years older than him, five years wiser. who has been in relationships before and knows how to navigate these confusing, uncertain feelings. who looks out for jeongguk because jeongguk doesn’t have anyone else to look out for him, not here.

“about what?” he asks quietly. he sees seokjin and namjoon exchange a glance over his head. doesn’t like where it’s going.

“hoseok has told us some things about yoongi,” says namjoon. “about what he was like when they were in high school and after they graduated and… you know. even now. things he’s done, some of his habits. has yoongi told you anything?”

he did, during their first conversation. jeongguk has been very good at ignoring it. “he’s gotten arrested before,” says jeongguk, “and he smokes and sometimes he fights people. he gets angry when he’s drunk. it’s not—he doesn’t do that. he’s not a bad person.”

“i didn’t say he was,” says namjoon. “hoseok said he was a really rebellious kid. used to get in trouble all the time, and he still does now. he just—doesn’t let you know.”

jeongguk stares at the underside of the table. there’s some writing under it, maybe from whoever owned it before, or from the company that made it. maybe it was scrap wood. he stares at it as he thinks, as he tries to understand what they’re saying to him. but—he can’t get it. can’t understand when he can still feel yoongi’s lips on his cheek, can feel his hands on jeongguk’s waist.

so he asks, “what are you trying to say?”

and seokjin sighs, says, “we’re not sure he’s good for you, jeongguk-ah. to have someone who does those things… who might influence you in the wrong way. you’re—”

“not a kid, hyung,” says jeongguk. “i’m not a kid. i’m not going to start getting in trouble just because i’m with yoongi-hyung. i haven’t changed since we became friends, have i?”

“we’re just worried, jeongguk-ah,” says namjoon. “we just want to make sure that the decisions you make are the best for you, and we do like yoongi. we’re not saying he’s a bad person, but he’s… he’s not like you. he’s not like me or seokjin-hyung, for that matter. we’re just trying to look out for you.”

the truth is—jeongguk can understand that. he lived with seokjin and namjoon for three months before meeting yoongi, but he clung to them so much in that time because they were the only people he knew in this whole city. they took him in, took care of him. he likes to think he’s grown in the months since, found his footing and flourished. but he’s still nineteen. he’s still innocent and naïve in some ways.

and he’s not like yoongi. but that’s the point.

“i appreciate you looking out for me,” says jeongguk after a moment, “and… i appreciate your concerns.”

“we want you to be happy,” says seokjin. “you know that, right? we love you, jeongguk. we want you to reach all of your dreams and goals, and to get what you want. but we also want to make sure that what you want is going to be good for you.”

“we want to make sure who you’re with is someone who can take care of you the way you deserve to be taken care of,” says namjoon. “we just don’t know if that person is yoongi.”

yoongi does take care of him, jeongguk thinks—doesn’t he? but now… now he thinks. now he thinks and all of the panic and uncertainty of where he stands with yoongi comes rushing up again. he really doesn’t know how yoongi feels about him, even though he’s tried to understand. yoongi could be stringing him along, could think of all of this as a game. maybe he can’t take care of jeongguk. maybe he doesn’t care as much as jeongguk wants and needs him to.

maybe seokjin and namjoon have a point.

he sits there with his head against seokjin’s thigh for a long time, none of them saying anything. there’s nothing more to say, probably; they’ve said their piece, bringing their concerns to jeongguk, and he does appreciate them looking out for him. but it doesn’t sit well in his stomach, doesn’t make him feel good. he knows that he likes yoongi, knows that he wants something more, but now he’s not sure what to do with it. not sure if he should do something with it.

eventually, namjoon goes to bed. seokjin follows shortly after, once he’s given jeongguk a few more comforting and affectionate hair pets. then it’s just jeongguk sitting on the floor, staring at the tiles and trying to think and not being able to, not being able to be rational because the only thing in his head is yoongi’s smile and yoongi’s voice and yoongi, yoongi, yoongi.

he does get up, though, eventually. retreats into his bedroom, shuts the door. checks his phone to see a text message from yoongi—sweet dreams, little one. dream of me and i’ll dream of you and then maybe i won’t miss you so much.

jeongguk crawls under the covers, turns his face into his pillow, and tries very hard not to cry.

jeongguk knows that he should probably talk to yoongi. if not about his feelings, because that’s terrifying, then at least yoongi’s feelings—about something. they need to talk about something, because it’s clear that they’ve crossed some sort of line and are very rapidly gaining speed. jeongguk can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but he knows it has.

but jeongguk isn’t so good at talking. and it’s scary to think about, leaving him too nervous every time he imagines trying to sit yoongi down and admit that maybe he wants something more. so… he doesn’t say anything. yoongi comes to pick him up for work and jeongguk lets him hold his hand, lets him tease, lets him kiss jeongguk’s cheek as a goodbye, their roles now somehow reversed.

he lets it happen, because he’s afraid that if he draws attention to it, it’ll stop. and this is easier, and jeongguk doesn’t mind being confused and uncertain, not when that’s the price he has to pay to be this close to yoongi. to have what he wants—almost.

he decides, after a week, that maybe if he says it in a song, it’ll be easier. now that he’s part of a singing group, he feels less self-conscious about his singing, knows that yoongi likes his voice. it would be very like him to tell yoongi how he feels in a song, anyway. after one of crescendo’s practices, then, he hangs back, figuring that asking for advice from the director on the best song to use for the situation is his best bet.

she’s a nice woman—reminds jeongguk of his mom, a bit, and he likes that, likes having some tie to home here. she’s been enthusiastic about him joining the group, grateful for the use of his voice, and has even given him a solo part in the song they were practicing today. she likes him, so he trusts her.

he asks for her advice, shyly admitting that he wants to confess his feelings to someone in a song—and she’s nice about it, because she’s nice about everything, giving her advice and wishing him luck. he leaves the basement with a hop in his step, feeling light and good. he’ll work on the song. he’ll tell yoongi, when he’s brave enough. he’ll—

“hey, new kid.” jeongguk comes to a halt just outside of the basement, turning to peer into the darkness before he sees three figures standing near the street. he recognizes them, of course—three of the members of the singing group, the only other three young men. they’re around his age, probably. they’re friends, maybe.

they’re looking at jeongguk like they want to hurt him, definitely.

suddenly, jeongguk wishes that he had asked yoongi to pick him up after practice, even though he knows that yoongi has somewhere else to be. but he thinks of that night in the bar, thinks of the man trying to buy jeongguk a drink. it’s the same discomfort that settles in jeongguk’s stomach as the three young men hop onto the sidewalk, approaching him. but yoongi isn’t here, not this time.

and jeongguk has to be brave.

“um,” he begins, shoving his hands in the pockets of his coat. “hi?”

“what the fuck is your problem?” one of them asks, and jeongguk flinches. “you’re sucking up to the director already? after, what, two weeks?”

“that’s not what i was doing,” says jeongguk hurriedly.

“sure looks like it,” says another. “looks like you’re trying to be a goody two shoes so that you can get the spotlight and steal our solos. is that what you want, huh? you think you can come into our group and fuck everything up and be the hotshot just because your mommy told you that you had the nicest voice in town?”

jeongguk takes a step back, fear pulsing through him; he doesn’t think that they’ll beat him up, not over something as trivial as a solo. this isn’t fucking glee. but it’s clear that they’re not happy with him, not happy that he’s joined the group and is already gaining attention from the director.

“that’s not my fault,” he says quietly. “i’m just—i’m just here to sing. i’m not trying to steal anything from anyone.”

one of them laughs. “you’re not even that good of a singer,” he says. “this isn’t high school anymore. you said you wanted to be an idol, right? good luck with that.”

jeongguk’s hands clench into fists inside of his coat, biting down hard on his tongue to keep himself from crying. it’s not—it doesn’t matter. they don’t matter. he doesn’t even remember what their names are, so it shouldn’t matter if they think he’s not a good singer.

but he wants to cry anyway.

“don’t think that you’re going to make it big in this group or anywhere else,” says one of them. “you might as well just quit, honestly.” jeongguk stares at the ground, hard. he wishes yoongi was here. he wishes yoongi was here, not because yoongi would deal with the other boys, but because yoongi would know how to make it better.

then, suddenly, he remembers what namjoon and seokjin told him—we want to make sure who you’re with is someone who can take care of you the way you deserve to be taken care of. we just don’t know if that person is yoongi.

what if yoongi can’t take care of him? what if he wouldn’t be able to do something about this?

and that just—makes it worse.

with tears filling his eyes, jeongguk starts walking, shouldering past the three other boys as he starts heading down the street. behind him, they begin to laugh. “see you next practice, then!” one of them jeers, and another adds, “i mean, hopefully not. but we’ll see what kind of balls that kid has,” and then jeongguk can’t hold it in anymore, fishing for his phone to call for help.

when his rescuer shows up, jeongguk doesn’t even bother to hide the redness of his eyes, wiping at his cheeks one last time before he gets in the car.

“did something happen?” asks seokjin. jeongguk thinks of how his fingers had itched to call yoongi, but he hadn’t let himself. just in case.

“s’fine,” he says, sinking into the seat and staring out the window. “i just want to go home.”

seokjin doesn’t ask again. and jeongguk doesn’t tell. he thinks, briefly, of the song he’d asked the director about, the one he’d wanted to sing for yoongi, but every time he thinks of singing, his stomach rolls. so he puts it to the back of his mind. he doesn’t tell namjoon or seokjin what the boys said. he certainly doesn’t tell yoongi what they said.

he goes to work, he goes home. he tries to ignore the queasy feeling as so much in his life begins to surmount to something, a disruption tearing through the peace of his life. he tries to ignore it—most of it, anyway. but the days pass, and before he knows it, a week as gone by. a week, which means—there’s another crescendo practice that he’s meant to attend.

meant to, except he thinks about the boys cornering him last week, telling him that he might as well quit because he’s not even a good singer. saying, see you next week, as though they expect him to show up just so they can harass him, bully one. he feels like a child, not being able to stand up for himself at the ripe age of nineteen, being bullied like he’s in middle school.

he should be fine. but jeongguk gets more and more upset the more he thinks about it, trying to get through the day. the closer he gets to the time for practice, the worse he feels, unable to get out of his own head as he remembers what the boys said, how it made him feel—he’s not a good singer. he’s not and they’re mean to him and he doesn’t want to go.

so—he doesn’t. jeongguk shuts himself in his room, burrows under the covers, tries to shut out the thoughts and reminders and anxiety over not showing up to practice even though he hates the very thought, doesn’t want to disappoint the director. but he can’t. he can’t.

at six sharp, though, there’s a knock at the front door.

jeongguk burrows under the covers a little more, the aching and pounding thoughts in his head growing worse, worse. it’s yoongi, because yoongi always drives him to practice and he always shows up at six sharp. and jeongguk didn’t say anything about the other boys harassing him, and he certainly didn’t tell yoongi that he wasn’t going to practice, so yoongi is here. and jeongguk isn’t answering the door, pulling his sheets a little higher over his head as though if he just hides, everything will go away—the boys in the singing group, the bad thoughts, yoongi. maybe yoongi will go away.

but—jeongguk should know by now. min yoongi isn’t scared away so easily.

the knock comes again, a little harder this time. namjoon and seokjin are both out, which is both a blessing and a curse. they’d tell yoongi to go away if jeongguk said so, but they’re not here to do it. so—after another minute, jeongguk hears his phone vibrate on his night stand, notifying him that he’s gotten a text. jeongguk stays under the covers, knowing what it says—i’m here!!! from yoongi, plus fourteen emojis because he’s recently become obsessed. he probably thinks jeongguk is listening to music, or taking a shower, or just didn’t hear.

jeongguk squeezes his eyes shut, tighter, tighter. maybe yoongi will go away. yoongi has to go away.

when jeongguk doesn’t reply to the text, though, there’s yet another knock at the door, and yoongi’s muffled voice—“jeongguk-ah? are you in there?” then, jeongguk’s phone vibrates again. it keeps vibrating, which means yoongi is calling him, and jeongguk burrows deeper and deeper like it’ll help, like he doesn’t know that yoongi is beginning to panic, just a little.

jeongguk always picks up his phone.

“jeongguk?” yoongi calls again, a little louder. “are you okay? if you don’t answer me, i’m gonna break down the door.”

it’s this that has jeongguk finally paying attention. namjoon and seokjin won’t be happy if yoongi breaks the fucking door because jeongguk can’t pick up his phone, and the idea of disappointing them on top of everything pushes jeongguk over the edge. he throws the covers off of him, letting out a loud and somewhat desperate, “don’t!” the knocking stops, along with the vibrating of his phone.

“jeongguk-ah?”

jeongguk stares up at his ceiling, at the glow in the dark stars. when jeongguk moved in, he mentioned that he’d never lived away from home and his dad, an artist, had painted the night sky on the ceiling of his room, and he was going to miss it. two days later, he got home to find a box of glow in the dark stars on his bed and a note from namjoon saying, i know it’s not the same, but i hope it’s enough.

another knock. “jeongguk-ah, seriously, are you okay?”

no, he thinks.

we just don’t know if that person is yoongi, he thinks.

he rolls over until he can grab his phone, unlocking it and clicking on the missed call from yoongi. it’s easier this way, he’s found—to face yoongi through the phone, some sort of barrier that can keep him from having to admit the truth entirely. his face can’t betray him this way.

yoongi picks up on the first ring.

“oh my god, jeongguk,” he breathes, and jeongguk throws the covers back over his head, hates the panic and worry in yoongi’s voice over something as simple as not opening the fucking door. “what’s going on? why won’t you open the door? are you—”

“i’m fine, hyung,” says jeongguk quietly. he’s tempted to say he’s sick, which is half of the truth. he’s tempted to say he’s too tired, which is also half of the truth. but yoongi has always deserved the whole truth.

“are you sure?”

“yeah,” says jeongguk. “sorry. didn’t mean to scare you.”

he can tell, even through the phone, that yoongi is struggling with what to say next—whether or not he should continue to bombard jeongguk with questions, to smother him. he’s never heard yoongi sound so concerned about him, because jeongguk has never really given him a reason to be concerned. somehow, it makes jeongguk feel worse—the idea that he’s making his hyung worry over something that jeongguk should be able to handle himself, over some childish squabble that shouldn’t be affecting him this much.

eventually, yoongi asks, “are you going to come out? we’ll be late to your practice if you don’t.”

jeongguk’s stomach tightens again, curling into a little ball in the middle of his bed. “no,” he says after a moment. “i’m not going.”

“why not?” asks yoongi. “is something wrong? are you sick?”

“no,” says jeongguk. “no, i’m just—not going. you can go home, it’s okay.”

it doesn’t work, of course. yoongi is too attentive, always has been. he cares too much. “you don’t sound okay,” he says. “can you please open the door for hyung? we don’t have to go to practice, but i just want to see you. wanna talk to you face to face.”

petulantly, jeongguk thinks that he doesn’t want to talk face to face. but yoongi is asking very nicely, and maybe jeongguk owes him that much. “i’m fine, yoongi-hyung,” he tries one last time, a little more desperate than the last.

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “baby. please open the door.” something about it makes him want to cry—the tone of yoongi’s voice, the persistence of it. no one has ever tried so hard with him, been so patient. no one has ever stuck around for this long, and that’s—something. it makes his heart hurt.

so jeongguk uncurls himself, slowly tugs the covers off of his head. he fishes around for his glasses, slipping them onto his face before he shuffles out of bed with his duvet wrapped around his shoulders. he knows he looks half a mess, but he doesn’t care, not when he’s sad. yoongi must hear the movement, must hear him opening his bedroom door, because he gives a quiet, “thank you,” into the phone, and then jeongguk hangs up, tossing his phone onto his floor before he heads for the front door.

when he opens the door, it’s with some apprehension, some uncertainty. but yoongi is standing there on the doorstep, phone still pressed to his ear and a look of pure concern on his face. he opens the door slowly, peeking around it at yoongi and refusing to open it the whole way like he’ll be able to convince yoongi to leave even though he’s practically inviting him inside.

for a moment, they just stare at each other. somehow, it isn’t until then—when he’s actually looking at yoongi, when they’re this close—that jeongguk realizes he really doesn’t want to be alone.

“hi,” says yoongi.

“i’m okay,” says jeongguk. “see? i’m fine. you can go home.”

yoongi begins to reach out and then catches himself, hand suspended awkwardly between them. he says, “i didn’t know you wore glasses.”

it’s a weird thing to start with, but jeongguk just clears his throat, hiding behind the door a little more. “yeah,” he says. “i do. i have contacts, though, so i don’t really wear glasses often.” hesitantly, he adds, “not unless i’m sad.”

he sees yoongi deflate, visibly. “why are you sad?”

“doesn’t matter,” jeongguk whispers. “i think i’d just like to be sad alone, though. so if you don’t mind, i’ll be going back to bed. thank you for the concern.” he says it hurriedly, trying to convince himself that it’s the truth; he doesn’t deserve to have yoongi’s concern. he doesn’t deserve it when he’s been second-guessing yoongi since his conversation with namjoon and seokjin, not when he should be a big kid and figure out how to get over this by himself.

“jeongguk-ah,” begins yoongi, clearly going to protest, and jeongguk just—shuts the door.

he feels bad about it. not bad enough to open the door again, though, so he just wanders back into the bedroom and collapses on his bed, trying to stop the heavy feeling on his chest, trying not to cry about how stupid it is. it’s a lot harder than he wants.

an hour later, there’s a knock on the door again.

jeongguk doesn’t even bother to ask who it is, because he knows. he throws the covers back again and shouts, “go away!”

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “open the door.”

“i said, go away! let me be sad in peace!”

“jeongguk—”

‘i’m not—”

“i got you waffles.”

“—in the—what?” jeongguk sits upright, staring through his open door toward the front door. his eyebrows furrow.

after a second, yoongi’s voice comes again: “i got you waffles. um—from that place you like?”

jeongguk continues to stare out of his door. and then, slowly, he gets out of bed. he leaves the covers this time, gingerly padding down the hallway until he gets to the front door. again, he carefully opens it just a few inches, peering through the crack at yoongi. sure enough—he’s standing on the doorstep, holding out a take away container.

“you got me waffles?” he asks quietly.

“bananas and strawberries and nutella and whipped cream and caramel sauce and extra icing sugar,” says yoongi.

jeongguk stares at the container. “from… beansbins?”

“um,” says yoongi. “yeah.”

“but that place is like, halfway across town.”

yoongi rubs at the back of his neck, a little awkward. “yeah,” he says with a short laugh. “i know.”

he continues to stare, eyebrows furrowing just slightly as he tries to understand it. but… yoongi saw he was sad. yoongi saw he was sad and decided to drive across the city to go to jeongguk’s favourite waffle place, to get jeongguk’s favourite waffles, so he could make jeongguk feel better. and now he’s just—standing there with jeongguk’s waffles and almost sheepishly offering them, like he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it.

slowly, jeongguk opens the door the rest of the way. he can’t stop his bottom lip from trembling just a little as he reaches out over the divide and grasps yoongi’s wrist, gently tugging him inside, and then tugs him a little more until jeongguk can wrap his arms around yoongi’s neck, hugging him tightly. he buries his face in yoongi’s neck, waiting until he feels yoongi’s arms wrap around his back.

“thanks, hyung,” he whispers.

“don’t want you to be sad, gukkie,” yoongi whispers back.

“i’m not sad when i’m with you,” says jeongguk. “you make me really happy. also waffles make me really happy.”

yoongi snorts into his neck, giving him a squeeze. “i know,” he says. “that’s why i got them. they’re probably cold by now, though, sorry about that.”

“i don’t mind. hot waffles are overrated, anyway.”

“you’re just saying that so i don’t feel bad.”

“yeah, i am.”

yoongi giggles quietly, turning his face and pressing a kiss to jeongguk’s cheek, wherever he can reach. jeongguk doesn’t want to let go, but the door is still open and he’s getting a little cold and he does want the waffles. he does let go, reluctantly, but not entirely—keeps one of his hands on yoongi’s wrist, not wanting him to go far, and yoongi doesn’t seem keen on leaving him alone, either, so.

there’s an elephant in the room, the one about why he’s sad in the first place. yoongi doesn’t ask, though, like he knows that jeongguk has to work up the courage to talk about it himself. instead, yoongi uses his free hand to brush at jeongguk’s hair, says, “wanna watch romeo and juliet?” and jeongguk doesn’t say anything about how they’ve already watched it twice and yoongi complained the whole through both times, because he doesn’t like it. he just nods, lips curling upward just slightly, and lets yoongi take care of him.

because that’s what he’s doing—he’s taking care of jeongguk. he leads jeongguk to the living room, sitting him down on the sofa, and disappears for a few minutes. when he comes back, it’s with jeongguk’s duvet, which he carefully plops on top of jeongguk, and august, which he carefully puts into jeongguk’s arms, and one of jeongguk’s copies of romeo and juliet, which he carefully sets up on the television. he finds a fork, grabs a carton of banana milk from the fridge, and squishes in beside jeongguk as he turns on the movie.

and jeongguk feels—loved. feels wanted, feels at home. yoongi doesn’t say anything, just doing what jeongguk needs because he knows what jeongguk needs. he knows that jeongguk needs attention and comfort and physical affection. knows he needs to be quiet, at least for now, at least until he feels ready to talk. yoongi just shuffles them around until jeongguk is leaning against his chest a little, still able to eat his waffles and watch his movie, and starts playing with jeongguk’s hair.

it’s nice. it’s good. this is one of jeongguk’s favourite movies, and he’s eating his favourite comfort food, and he’s with his favourite person, but—it’s also overwhelming. it’s overwhelming because this is what he needs, what he hasn’t let himself have for fear of being wrong about what it means, for fear of only wanting it more. it’s overwhelming because it’s taken ten minutes for him to realize that seokjin and namjoon are very, very wrong, that yoongi can take care of him, and wants to, and is. and is without asking for anything in return, because he wants to, because he cares.

romeo and juliet have barely met, then, and jeongguk has only gotten through half a waffle, and yoongi is pressing his lips to the top of jeongguk’s head, when jeongguk starts crying. it’s sudden, as quickly as he blinks, and he can’t stop it—but it’s everything he’s been holding in for a week and maybe longer, so overwhelmed with emotions from all sides that he just lets go. he’s still upset, but it’s something more. he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

so he just lets himself cry, silently at first and then louder as he sniffs, breaking through the almost-silence of the room, and he brings a hand to his eyes, pressing the heel of his palm into one of them, and he feels yoongi shift, hears him say, “jeongguk-ah?” and jeongguk just shakes his head, hating how fucking soft yoongi’s voice is, and—he’s crying in earnest, then, practically sobbing when he can’t hold it in anymore.

“jeongguk, baby,” says yoongi, and jeongguk lets out this ugly sobbing sound, letting yoongi grab the container of waffles from him, setting them on the floor before he manhandles jeongguk more into his lap, turning him around so that they’re facing each other. he wraps jeongguk up in his arms, holding him close as jeongguk presses his face into yoongi’s chest. doesn’t stop the tears, can’t. but maybe that’s not the point.

yoongi lets him cry for a while, just holding him and rocking him back and forth gently. and jeongguk does cry, not entirely sure why, but it’s likely a culmination of things. he doesn’t know what to do with all of this gentleness, all of this softness.

eventually, when his cries have turned softer and less harsh, yoongi plants a kiss on top of his head. “you usually don’t start crying until the end,” he says after a second, and jeongguk almost laughs.

“it’s not the movie,” he mumbles, sniffing.

yoongi does laugh at that. “oh,” he says. “sorry for assuming.”

he knows he’s trying to make jeongguk feel better, trying to make the situation a little lighter. but he also knows that yoongi can’t be kept in the dark about it any longer, not when there’s clearly more than he wants to do. he wants to help more than just holding jeongguk and hope that his presence is enough, but he can’t do anything concrete unless jeongguk lets him in.

so jeongguk pulls away, just enough to wipe at his eyes and make a face at the wet patch he’s let on yoongi’s shirt. he doesn’t go too far, though, realizing that he’s more or less straddling yoongi like this, almost pressed chest to chest. quietly, yoongi asks, “can i touch you?” and jeongguk nods, watching as yoongi reaches out for him. he cups jeongguk’s face with one of his hands, wiping at the tears on jeongguk’s cheek, and he holds jeongguk like he’s precious. like he’s still precious.

there’s no running from it—his feelings, the truth. but jeongguk lets himself hide, just for a little longer.

so he says, “they said i’m not a good singer.”

he feels yoongi’s hand freeze on his face, keeps his eyes trained somewhere around yoongi’s neck. “some of the others,” he adds quietly. “last week, i stayed behind to talk to the director about something and—and they were waiting outside when i finished, and they t-told me that i wasn’t a good singer and i should just quit and i was stupid for thinking i could take the spotlight from them.” thinking about it now brings fresh tears to his eyes, and he tries to stop them from falling, but he can’t—he closes his eyes, sniffing again as he feels yoongi catch the tears with his fingers, wiping them away. “that’s why i didn’t want to go tonight.”

“guk-ah,” begins yoongi.

“it’s fine,” sniffs jeongguk. “i know i’m being a baby.”

“you’re not being a baby,” says yoongi. “they shouldn’t have said those things to you, and i’m sorry they did. that’s not acceptable at all.”

“maybe they’re right, though,” says jeongguk. “i just showed up and the director likes me so she’s giving me solos, a-and they’ve been there for so much longer and they should get solos, too.”

“they’re not right. you’re an amazing singer, jeongguk, and you deserve to have your voice heard. and if those assholes can’t share the spotlight with someone in a recreational singing group, then they need to work on their priorities.”

jeongguk opens his eyes. sees the fierce sort of way that yoongi is looking at him, with all of that protectiveness. yoongi was ready to throw hands with someone who wasn’t even bothering jeongguk, so he can’t imagine how far yoongi would go in this situation. but—he’s not going anywhere. he’s staying right here, with his hands on jeongguk, paying attention. caring for him.

“okay,” he whispers. “i still feel—like shit, though.”

“don’t listen to them,” says yoongi. “they’re wrong. and you don’t need them if they’re going to talk or think about you like that. you deserve to be around people who are going to appreciate you for who you are and support you and encourage you. they don’t matter, jeongguk.”

he sniffs again, leaning into yoongi’s hand. “okay,” he whispers.

“you know who does matter?” yoongi asks. “you. you matter so much. you are beautiful and funny and caring and so, so smart. and a great singer, too. you deserve to be loved by the right people. don’t even waste a single second thinking about people who don’t love you the right way.” jeongguk’s breath hitches in his throat for a second, thinking that maybe—maybe yoongi is going to say more, maybe it’s going to say jeongguk deserves to be loved by him, but.

yoongi wipes at his cheeks a few more times, and then leans forward until he can press a kiss to jeongguk’s forward. somehow, it’s softer. somehow, it means more.

“okay?” he asks.

“okay,” says jeongguk.

“i’m so sorry that happened to you,” says yoongi, “but don’t think about it, okay? you never have to go back to that singing group if you don’t want to. we’ll find another one, one that has better people in it who are going to appreciate you. or if you don’t want to join another one, you don’t have to. whatever you want to do.”

jeongguk thinks—he wants to stay right here, in yoongi’s arms, feeling all of this overwhelming love. he wants to stay right here, wants to make this last forever; even though he’s still sad, it’s… almost a good sort of sad. a sort of sad that has brought about something better, brought about all of this love and attention and care. it’s proven everything wrong—yoongi might be intimidating sometimes and have tattoos and beat people up when he gets drunk, but.

here, he’s soft. here, he’s kind. here, he is taking very good care of jeongguk, and isn’t that all he needs to know? he’d been scared of admitting the truth about his feelings for yoongi because he wasn’t sure what yoongi feels for him, and maybe he still isn’t sure. but he has an idea. he has an idea, and he knows that even if yoongi doesn’t like him as much as jeongguk likes yoongi, at least he knows that namjoon and seokjin are wrong—yoongi can take care of him. yoongi is taking care of him, and has been since the very first day they met. maybe it didn’t always look like this, with gentle words and careful hands, but he has been. it was simply coming to this, working up to this: jeongguk needing him and yoongi not even thinking twice before being everything jeongguk needs.

that’s all jeongguk has really wanted—someone who will take care of him like this, someone who won’t even hesitate. maybe he should have known all along that it was going to be yoongi.

“okay, hyung,” he says. “thank you. i really—i’m really grateful.”

yoongi grins at him, all soft and careful in the darkness of the room. “i’m always here for you, guk-ah,” he says. “you know that, right? you can tell hyung anything and he’ll take care of you. i don’t want to see you sad or upset or anything, not when i can do something about it.”

“i’m not sad, hyung,” says jeongguk. “not anymore.”

“good,” says yoongi, dipping forward to give him another kiss on the forehead, and jeongguk thinks—he has to say it. he has to say it now, and then yoongi adds, “wanna keep watching the movie now? i think the third time might be the charm and i might actually end up liking it.” and jeongguk thinks—yoongi isn’t doing this in hopes of something more happening. if he does have feelings, he’s not doing this because he thinks jeongguk will reciprocate. he’s doing it because it’s just how he wants to take care of jeongguk, just because it’s what he does.

and despite all of the turbulent feelings coiled up inside of him, jeongguk thinks this might be okay for now—to just sit with it, to just be with it. and with yoongi.

so he nods, shuffling off of yoongi’s lap but staying close, pressed up against his side before he asks, “can i have my waffles back, too?” and yoongi laughs, but he does as jeongguk asks, anyway.

jeongguk still doesn’t pay attention to the movie. he just snuggles in closer to yoongi, letting himself be happy for once. there will be time to worry about his feelings later, and time to say things that need to be said. at least he doesn’t have to panic about what namjoon and seokjin think anymore, because he knows they’re wrong. he’s not scared of it anymore, he realizes. he doesn’t have a reason to be.

a week later—a week of yoongi being a little gentler than usual, a little softer, a week of yoongi holding his hand and kissing his forehead and making jeongguk want to cry in the good way—jeongguk finds himself in starbucks, sitting across from hoseok while they’re both on break. he’s been thinking about it all week, about what he wants to do; it’s been a turbulent few weeks of back and forth, too many conflicting emotions and upsetting situations. but jeongguk knows, now, is certain of how he feels and what he wants to do about it.

but he wants to be certain about yoongi, too.

“she like, barfed up her entire insides,” hoseok is saying, slumped in his chair. “it was the most disgusting thing i’ve ever seen in my life, jeongguk-ah, i swear. and of course i was the only one available to clean it up, so i was in there trying not to toss my own cookies for an hour.”

jeongguk sips at his iced coffee. “sounds awful, hyung,” he says, to which hoseok sighs.

“it really, really was,” he says. “but enough about me. yoongi-hyung told me you’re quitting that singing group?”

he freezes, eyes widening slightly as he thinks about yoongi telling hoseok about that night in his apartment—although he doubts yoongi would have said everything. maybe just the important bits, like why yoongi didn’t come home for several hours. he’s sure hoseok would have a few things to say about the cuddling and waffles nonsense, if he knew about it.

so jeongguk just clears his throat, setting his coffee down. “yeah,” he says. “i don’t think it’s the right one for me, but i might keep looking.”

“you should,” says hoseok. “just because the first one doesn’t work out doesn’t mean another won’t. you just have to keep looking until you find the perfect one for you.” somehow, it makes him think of finding the perfect person for him. makes him a little nervous, but gives him a little push, since they’re practically already on the topic.

“you know, um,” he begins, looking down at his hands. “yoongi-hyung was really nice about it. i didn’t have a really great night a week ago, and he took care of me.” jeongguk glances upward briefly, and then regrets it when he sees the way hoseok is looking back at him, almost knowing. he drops his eyes again, taking a deep breath as he figures he just—has to come out and say it. it was hard enough saying it to namjoon and seokjin, but he has to tell yoongi sometime, so this is like a middle step.

“anyway,” he says. “i realized that, um—i mean.” jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “i’m, like—i really—ugh, fuck.”

“you’re super gay for yoongi-hyung?” hoseok helpfully supplies, and jeongguk blushes furiously.

no,” he says. “i mean—yes. but don’t say it like that.”

“you don’t have to be nervous about telling me,” says hoseok. “it’s pretty fucking obvious that you like him. and that he likes you, too.”

jeongguk’s head snaps up, staring. and it’s—been a long time. he supposes he should be able to put the pieces together himself, from the way yoongi looks at him to the way he touches him to the way he took care of him just a week ago. but hearing it from someone else’s mouth makes it different, somehow.

“really?” he asks.

“oh my god, jeongguk, how dense are you?” asks hoseok. “obviously he likes you. i don’t even know how to begin explaining that.”

“you don’t—” jeongguk begins, already embarrassed enough as it is, but hoseok doesn’t hear him.

“first of all, he’s literally always talking about you,” says hoseok, rolling his eyes. “every fucking day, it’s jeongguk-ah this, and jeongguk-ah that, and do you think he’ll like my hair and i don’t know what to record in august without sounding like i’d literally die for him and he was half naked, hoseok, i literally almost popped a boner in his kitchen.

“wait, what?”

“it’s annoying as fuck,” says hoseok. “but like, cute. annoyingly cute, actually, which is why it’s so annoying. but other than that, he’s just—whipped, obviously? i dunno. he told me about the waffle thing, which is like… goddamn. he’s never done anything like that for me and we’ve been best friends for damn year ten years. not to mention the fact that he literally changed his entire work schedule just to be able to drive you to work every day.”

“um,” says jeongguk. “he said he doesn’t work in the morning.”

“yeah, not anymore. he did work in the morning before he met you, because he’s actually a morning person and likes having his evenings free, but he talked to his boss about taking afternoon shifts like, the day after you met. that’s like, the modern day equivalent of buying an engagement ring the day after you meet.”

jeongguk’s cheeks darken just a little. “oh,” he says quietly. “i didn’t know that.”

“of course not,” says hoseok. “yoongi isn’t vocal about that kind of stuff, because he doesn’t do it to be recognized. he does it because he cares about people. and he obviously cares about you. he’d literally rope the fucking sun for you, jeongguk-ah, honestly. i don’t know how you don’t see it.”

“i-i just—” he begins. “i guess i could have figured it out, but i was just…”

“too busy gay panicking over your own feelings?”

“yeah,” says jeongguk. “something like that. he keeps wearing chokers and it’s not very good for my health.”

“understandable,” says hoseok. “i’d jump him in a choker and our relationship is strictly platonic.”

it’s weird—as embarrassing as it is to hear all of this so plainly and to realize that he’s been blind for several months, it also feels like a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders. yoongi does like him. yoongi probably wants to be with him. and even if it doesn’t, there’s something much less scary about admitting the truth when jeongguk knows there’s a chance, having heard it from the mouth of yoongi’s own best friend and roommate. hoseok wouldn’t make that up.

and still, he finds himself thinking of namjoon and seokjin.

he fidgets in his seat for a moment, raising his eyes to hoseok again before he asks, “did you… tell namjoon-hyung and seokjin-hyung that yoongi-hyung wasn’t a good influence on me?”

hoseok stares at him. “what?”

“they—talked to me a few weeks ago,” he says, shifting again. “they said that you had told them some stuff about what yoongi was like in high school, and how he has bad habits and stuff, and they said that… i mean, they basically said they didn’t think yoongi-hyung would be good for me.”

“those fuckers,” hoseok sighs. “i didn’t tell them that to make them scare you away. we were just—talking about yoongi-hyung, yeah, and i was telling them some stories. but it wasn’t meant for them to take all of it that way.”

“how were they meant to take it, then?”

“listen, jeongguk-ah,” says hoseok. “the truth is that yoongi-hyung did some crazy shit in high school. he got in trouble a lot. and he does have some bad habits—the smoking, and drinking too much sometimes, and getting in fights when he gets upset about something. but you know those things, and he’s careful not to let them bleed into the rest of his relationships. and he’s not perfect—but neither are the rest of us. yoongi-hyung isn’t a bad guy. he can cause trouble sometimes, but all of us are capable of that.”

“that’s what i thought,” says jeongguk. “i don’t like that he smokes and gets in fights, but i’m not trying to change him. and i have bad habits, too, things that he probably doesn’t like that i do either.”

“there’s nothing wrong with being concerned about some of the things he does,” says hoseok. “it’s good that you’re concerned, because it means that you care about him and his well-being. and trust me, i’ve tried to get him to work on some of those things, and he’s gotten a lot better since we were teenagers. but you can love someone and not agree with all of their actions at the same time. you can be with someone and still want them to work on their flaws.”

that was what he was missing, he thinks—the realization that it’s okay to acknowledge the fact that sometimes yoongi does bad things, and still like him. he doesn’t have to change yoongi, and he can’t expect that yoongi will change. it’s not about that. it’s about knowing where they fall short and not turning away from it, but rather picking each other up and trying to help them get that much further the next time they try.

“so…” says jeongguk. “you don’t think he’s a bad influence on me?”

“jeongguk-ah,” says hoseok. “i’ve never seen yoongi so happy and giddy and well-behaved in my entire life. if anything, you’re the influence on him.”

something warm settles in jeongguk’s chest. he grins at the table, unable to look up, not wanting to see. but he knows, and that’s enough. for the first time in a long time, he feels certain and ready and unafraid. he feels like this is the one right thing in his life, and that’s just—yoongi. of course it’s yoongi.

the spends the rest of his day—and he just happens to have a long shift, of course—thinking of what to say and how to say it. he’s been practicing the song he chose for yoongi all week, and he still thinks it’s a good idea, so he’ll go with that. but he’ll go with real words, too, words that are his own, because that’s what yoongi deserves. he hums to himself in the stacks, then, muttering to himself all of the things he thinks he’d like to say to yoongi. he feels his nerves grow as the days goes on, but he’s glad to have the time. glad to be able to figure it out, to run it through. he just wants it to be good.

he’s going to confess to yoongi. he’s finally going to be honest, and hope that it goes well, and even if it doesn’t—he’s not worried, because it’s yoongi, and yoongi always makes him feel safe, and warm, and wanted. nothing is ever going to go wrong with yoongi.

by the time he gets home, having taken the bus, it’s almost seven. he spends the bus ride repeating his thoughts to himself, hurrying off the bus and down the street toward his apartment. he’ll call yoongi, ask if they can go out or ask if yoongi can come over, maybe, somewhere that they can talk in private.

he’s so busy trying to work out the details, practically skipping down the street and turning toward his apartment, still humming the song, that he almost doesn’t see what’s right in front of him until it’s too late. but then—just as he’s thinking of yoongi, yoongi is right there. jeongguk comes to a halt halfway up the walk to the apartment, spotting the familiar mint of yoongi’s hair and the familiar black of yoongi’s clothes.

yoongi is sitting on the steps outside of his apartment. and—a spike of nerves shoots through jeongguk, realizing that he has much less time to prepare, but that’s okay, that’s okay, because he wants to say, feeling a new giddiness rising up in him because it’s yoongi, and yoongi is here, and—

yoongi looks up. and jeongguk stops.

he stares for an unnaturally long time, it seems, unable to move any closer or speak or think, because—yoongi’s face is covered in blood. it’s coming from his nose, from a cut on his lip, from a gash above one of his eyebrows. there’s bruising forming on his skin, on his cheekbone. his knuckles, where his hands are resting on his knees, a lit cigarette held in his fingers, are split and bleeding and raw. yoongi is sitting on jeongguk’s front step and he’s bleeding and broken.

jeongguk feels tears spring to his eyes, suddenly, panic and worry overwhelming him as his feet finally move, hurrying the last few steps to yoongi until he can crouch down, hands fluttering uselessly because he doesn’t know what to do, he doesn’t know how to help

“yoongi-hyung?” he asks quietly, fearing that speaking louder will somehow give him permission to cry, and yoongi looks at him—through the blood on his face and the bruise around one of his eyes—and brings the cigarette to his lips, taking a drag before he blows the smoke out in a steady stream and grins.

“hi, guk-ah,” he says.

jeongguk, unlike every other time he’s seen yoongi with a cigarette, doesn’t berate him. instead, he asks, “are you okay?” he knows what it is, of course—yoongi wouldn’t have split knuckles if he hadn’t fought back, but. maybe someone tried to mug him. maybe he was just trying to protect himself. his conversation with hoseok from only hours ago comes to him, about yoongi’s bad habits, about being able to love him without loving the habits, and jeongguk realizes he doesn’t care. because yoongi is hurt, and whether or not he started it doesn’t make a fucking difference to how jeongguk wants to take care of him.

yoongi, despite the grin, gives his head a little shake. it looks painful, looks awful, and jeongguk just nods, more to himself than anything. sniffs, quickly wiping at his eyes, and then stands up, reaching out before thinking better of it. “sorry,” he says, “sorry, um—come in. we have a first-aid kit.”

he doesn’t want to hurt yoongi. doesn’t want to hurt him more, but he wants to touch, wants to do something—still, he’s afraid. so he just waits for yoongi stand on his own and drop the cigarette before gently reaching for his elbow, leading him up the steps and to the door. he unlocks it, leading yoongi inside. neither namjoon nor seokjin are home, which is a good thing, probably. and maybe a bad thing, because jeongguk has never had to do this before. he doesn’t know how to make it better, doesn’t know how to be of use when there are still tears in his eyes and yoongi is walking a little funny.

but. he might not know the first thing about medical care, but he does know how to love, how to care. he instructs yoongi to sit on the sofa, then, as he grabs the first aid kid and a wet cloth, quickly joining him and scooting close.

they don’t say anything, not as jeongguk begins to very gently wipe away the blood from yoongi’s face. and yoongi winces once in a while, when jeongguk dabs at an injured spot—he pulls away when yoongi does, not wanting to hurt, but yoongi just looks at him, waiting for him to continue. it’s meticulous work, being gentle and soft. but jeongguk is good at that. that’s who jeongguk is—so he gently wipes the blood from yoongi’s face, from the cut on his eyebrow and the cut on his lip and from under his nose.

yoongi stares at him the whole time, a little unnerving. there’s something heavy in his gaze, something that jeongguk doesn’t want to think about, so he doesn’t. he just moves on to yoongi’s hands, carefully taking the first into his own grasp and gently dabbing at his split knuckles. it’s worse than the first time jeongguk saw them, back after the night at the bar. something tells him it means more this time.

once he’s cleaned yoongi’s wounds, jeongguk digs in the first aid kit. he doesn’t know what to do with any of the supplies, settling on grabbing some band-aids and tearing one open before he just—stops. he stares down at yoongi’s split knuckles, and thinks about the damage they’ve done. thinks about what the other guy must have looked like, thinks about what the other guy’s knuckles look like to have done that much damage to yoongi, too.

jeongguk looks up, trying to keep himself from crying when he sees yoongi’s face—even without all the blood, he looks terrible.

“what happened?” he asks. there’s a good chance yoongi won’t tell him, but. he needs to know.

after a pregnant pause, yoongi just says, “it’s wednesday.”

jeongguk stares at him. “i know,” he says.

“no, jeongguk,” says yoongi. “it’s wednesday.

he continues to stare, eyebrows furrowing as he tries to understand what yoongi is telling him. and then—he gets it. it’s wednesday. it’s wednesday, and wednesdays are the days he used to go to singing practice, at least until the boys from the group bullied him. it’s wednesday, and wednesdays are the days that crescendo meets, and met before jeongguk came along, and continue to meet even though jeongguk is gone.

it’s wednesday. and yoongi is sitting in his apartment with split knuckles and a bloody face.

jeongguk swallows. “hyung,” he whispers. “did you—did you go there?”

“they shouldn’t have said those things to you, guk-ah.”

“you…” jeongguk sniffs, dropping his gaze. “you didn’t have to—hurt them.”

“i didn’t go there to hurt them,” says yoongi. “i just went there to talk. but they seemed to think that it would be easy if it was three against one, and i had to prove them wrong.”

“it doesn’t look like it worked out very well.” he stares at yoongi’s knuckles again. thinks about yoongi going there to deal with the problem because jeongguk wasn’t going to, because he knows that jeongguk wouldn’t do that. thinks about yoongi wanting to protect him, wanting to take care of him. thinks about yoongi trying to talk to them, trying to be better because he knows that jeongguk doesn’t like the idea of yoongi hurting other people or getting hurt—and ending up like this anyway. and not apologizing for it.

and he thinks, too, of the first time—of yoongi getting upset with the stranger who tried to buy him a drink and showing up at the bookshop with bruised knuckles the next day. thinks of yoongi trying so fucking hard to take care of him however he can—whether it’s driving across the city to buy him waffles because he’s sad, or getting in fist fights with people who made jeongguk cry.

jeongguk looks up again. this close, he can see where yoongi’s skin is torn, where he’s been hurt. he can see what he did, what he took just because he wanted to protect jeongguk. and he can see the way yoongi is looking right back at him.

“why would you do that?” jeongguk asks. “why do you keep doing things like that?”

and yoongi exhales, almost with relief, like he’s been waiting for jeongguk to ask—“don’t you know?” he asks. “jeongguk, don’t you know?”

“know what?” asks jeongguk, trembles, feels small as yoongi shifts closer, just enough

“jeongguk-ah,” whispers yoongi, lifting his hand. he brushes it against jeongguk’s cheek, so gentle that it almost hurts—traces jeongguk’s cheekbone, the side of his nose. yoongi’s thumb catches on his bottom lip, just barely, just there, and jeongguk inhales. holds it, holds it.

but yoongi doesn’t have to say it, because jeongguk does know. he does know, and he feels it, and he wants it; he holds his breath, waits as yoongi touches him, looks at him, and jeongguk thinks: he’s waited. he’s waited and wanted and yoongi makes him brave. yoongi opens his mouth again, says, “i—” and jeongguk doesn’t wait, just reaches out and fists his hand into yoongi’s shirt, leans forward, and kisses him.

it’s too hard at first, too fast—yoongi lets out this gasped, “ow,” and jeongguk jerks back, saying, “sorry. sorry, hyung—” and yoongi laughs, just a little, pulling him back in with the hand on his cheek.

says, “s’okay, gukkie, just—my lip’s all fucked up. gotta be gentle,” and jeongguk thinks, oh. he can do that. and he is gentle as he leans in again, takes all of his chances and softly presses his lips to yoongi’s.

this time—it’s perfect. jeongguk kisses him, the smallest amount of pressure because he doesn’t want to hurt yoongi, but he wants him to know—wants him to know with all of the words that he can’t say. jeongguk was going to sing, was going to find a way to put words to everything in his heart, but somehow, this is better. this is enough, as he tugs yoongi a little closer by his shirt, and as yoongi presses back, tilts his head just enough and kisses jeongguk.

he tastes like blood, a little, something metallic that jeongguk shouldn’t like, but does. tastes like he thought yoongi would always taste, from the very first moment they met—and he hadn’t thought about kissing yoongi then, but it was always going to come to this anyway. jeongguk makes a noise in the back of his throat, wishes he could want more, but he shouldn’t. not when yoongi is like this, injured and not okay; he stops himself from being greedy. thinks that, if yoongi likes him, too, then they’ll have plenty of time for more later.

instead, he pulls away, just enough to lean his forehead against yoongi’s. he breathes heavily despite the kiss being soft and sacred, and he closes his eyes, and he can feel yoongi’s breath on his lips. he holds on.

yoongi kisses him again—just as soft as the first time, just a gentle press of their lips before he pulls back, and jeongguk wants more, wants all of it, but. but. he says, “i know. but i still want you to say it.”

“say what?” asks yoongi, but there’s amusement in his voice—something giddy, because they both know. jeongguk can’t open his eyes, feeling the blush high in his cheeks, and he doesn’t need to make it worse. even now, yoongi manages to fluster him. especially now, yoongi manages to fluster him.

he tugs a little on yoongi’s shirt, whines, “hyung.

and he can tell yoongi is grinning without even having to look, almost surprised when he leans in again, kisses jeongguk’s top lip, then his bottom, then the mole under his bottom—“what, jeongguk-ah? want me to say i have a big, fat crush on you?” he kisses him again, again, pushing a little harder as jeongguk leans back, until he starts falling, until he does—giggling as yoongi disregards all of his injuries, all of his apprehensions and follows him, crawling over him until he can dip down and kiss jeongguk’s nose.

“you like me, hyung,” giggles jeongguk. “you like like me.”

“i do like like you,” says yoongi, and when jeongguk finally opens his eyes, all he sees is: yoongi hovering over him. his lip is still split, beginning to bleed again from the kisses. there’s a bruise darkening around his eye. his roots have begun to grow in, too dark for the brightness of his hair. he’s wearing a fucking leather jacket, because he always is. everything about him should be angry, and hard, and difficult—but he’s looking at jeongguk with so much fondness, so much softness that jeongguk almost can’t bear to look back. he doesn’t deserve that, not really.

but he’ll take it anyway.

“i like like you, too,” whispers jeongguk shyly—somehow, despite already having kissed yoongi, despite already having said it in every other way but through words. yoongi leans down again, brushing his lips over jeongguk’s.

“i’m glad we’re on the same page, then,” he says. “i have like liked you for a very long time.”

“you didn’t have to beat anyone up to prove it,” says jeongguk.

“nothing else i did was working,” says yoongi, and jeongguk giggles, because—when he thinks about it, maybe he was thinking too much about it. not that it matters now, when there’s nothing else to hide.

“sorry,” jeongguk whispers, lifting a hand to trace yoongi’s cheekbone. “sorry, hyung.”

“you’re cute,” says yoongi, and jeongguk—blushes, like an idiot, like yoongi doesn’t say something like that every day and will, probably, now that he knows. now that they both know. yoongi laughs at it, pressing a kiss to jeongguk’s right cheek, and then his left, mumbling, “you’re also cute when you do that,” and it just makes it worse.

“you don’t get to talk,” protests jeongguk. “i heard you almost popped a boner that time you saw me half-naked.”

yoongi jerks up at that, staring down at him, and jeongguk can’t help but giggle. “fucking jung hoseok.”

“please don’t fuck jung hoseok,” says jeongguk.

“why, would you be jealous?”

“you just told me you had a big, fat crush on me!”

“it’s not like we’re dating

jeongguk gives his chest a (gentle) shove, exasperated even as yoongi laughs, sitting up and tugging jeongguk with him. and jeongguk pouts, realizing that they accidentally dumped the first aid kit on the floor, and he stares down at it somewhat petulantly before he feels yoongi press up against his arm, face dangerously close to his.

“jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi.

“what,” says jeongguk.

“do you want us to be dating?”

jeongguk pouts a little harder, and then turns his face to look at yoongi. he goes cross-eyed from trying to see, and then feels himself blushing again when he mutters, “obviously.” then, a little louder—“only if you stop beating people up and getting into fights, though, because i don’t think my heart or nerves could handle it. you can just prove that you like me by taking me on dates and holding my hand and kissing me in front of our friends so they get grossed out by pda.”

yoongi reaches up and taps jeongguk’s chin once, twice. says, “i think i can manage that.”

“good,” says jeongguk. “also you have to keep driving me to work.”

“okay.”

“and you have to let me wear your jacket whenever i want.”

“okay.”

and you have to get my waffles whenever i’m sad and watch romeo and juliet whenever i want and call me baby all the time.”

“okay.”

“okay.”

yoongi’s grinning at him, all wide and fond. jeongguk’s heart aches, just a little.

“do you have any conditions?” he asks.

yoongi shakes his head. “i just wanna be with you,” he says.

“you’re so gross,” whispers jeongguk.

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, and jeongguk thinks of the first time yoongi ever said his name, and how much he liked it in yoongi’s mouth, and how he wants it to stay there, and how he’d gladly hand over his heart for safekeeping—“will you please be my boyfriend?”

jeongguk’s heart does a hiccup in his chest, as though he hasn’t been expecting it. as though he hasn’t been wanting it for longer than he’s able to put words to. he’d wanted to sing, to give some sort of grand gesture, but this is better. this is them—just yoongi and jeongguk and their bleeding hearts, and something that started with jeongguk sleeping through his goddamn alarm.

he leans forward, kisses yoongi’s nose. says, “i would very much like to be your boyfriend, yoongi-hyung,” and yoongi smiles at him, all gums and teeth and a little bit of blood, and jeongguk doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything more beautiful.

later, when yoongi goes home—because yoongi has to go home, because as much as jeongguk doesn’t want to let him go, he’s not sure sharing a bed on their first night as a couple is a good idea, and yoongi is a gentleman—jeongguk stands out on the curb beside yoongi’s bike. this is familiar, despite the newness of everything else; it’s always just going to be yoongi and his bike, driving away and promising to come back tomorrow to pick jeongguk up for work. maybe nothing really has to change, other than the fact that before yoongi puts his helmet on, jeongguk kisses him on the lips instead of on the cheek, and his heart hiccups again, and he finds that he likes it much, much better.

when yoongi backs away, swinging a leg over his bike and preparing to leave, jeongguk thinks he’d rather not let him go. but it’ll make seeing him again tomorrow even better, so—it’s okay. jeongguk needs some time to scream into his pillow, anyway.

“goodnight jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi, grinning at him, and jeongguk feels himself burst into full bloom—“my adorable, wonderful, devastatingly gorgeous boyfriend.”

jeongguk—blushes, of course, both hands flying up to cover his ears in his shyness. “goodnight min yoongi,” he says anyway, shoulders hiking up, and—

“say it,” says yoongi.

“yoongi-hyung,” whines jeongguk, already backing away.

“jeongguk, say it.

“my boyfriend!” he practically yells, feeling far too flustered and overwhelmed as yoongi just sits there and giggles at him. “goodnight min yoongi, my tiny, scary, but still devastatingly beautiful boyfriend.”

“i’m not tiny

“i already said goodnight!” shouts jeongguk as he turns and runs back to the apartment.

“jeon jeongguk! i’m not tiny!

“bye, hyung!” he shouts, giggling as he throws the door open and jumps inside, shutting the door behind him. he leans against it, breathing for a moment, and then—after a moment, turns around, opening the door a few inches so he can stick his head out. “hyung!” he calls, watching as yoongi’s head snaps toward him, expression a little breathless.

“what?” yoongi calls back.

he realizes, then, that he doesn’t really have anything to say. just wants to look at yoongi, just doesn’t want to see him go just yet. he hesitates, seeing the way that yoongi looks back at him, waits with his entire body, because he knows that whatever jeongguk is going to say is more important than anything else he could be doing.

and that’s enough.

jeongguk blows him a kiss. yoongi catches it, tucks it into his pocket, for safe-keeping, at least until tomorrow morning, when jeongguk can kiss him properly again. jeongguk giggles when yoongi winks at him, gives him a little wave, and then shuts the door again. for a second, he just—breathes. and then he gives a little squeal, turning around and running all the way to his bedroom before throwing himself on his bed, stuffing his face in his pillow, and doing all that screaming he’s been holding in for hours.

jeongguk blooms.

Chapter Text

at the stoplight, jeongguk counts—one mississippi, two mississippi. they’ve been driving for twelve minutes and fifty seconds, which means they should be arriving in six minutes, maximum. sometimes the lights don’t allow it. sometimes they drive a little fast, but that’s usual because they’re at risk of being late—or late for jeongguk. late for jeongguk means arriving less than fifteen minutes early, but it’s very important that he arrives everywhere early. just last week, his boss told him that she’s so impressed with his work ethic that she’s going to give him a promotion, which isn’t really a promotion because there aren’t ranks of employees at the bookshop, but she’s going to pay him more and he gets to tell people that he got a promotion, so. getting to work early is of the utmost importance.

the light turns green, and the bike revs underneath him, and jeongguk lets out a little squeak as he flings his arms out to hold on again; he’s been riding this thing almost every day for four months, but he’s still apprehensive about it. he takes safety very seriously. as much as he would still prefer to ride in a vehicle with sides and a roof and seatbelts, he’s gotten over most of his fears associated with motorcycles. not enough to not cling to yoongi for dear life, but then again—that might be for other reasons. jeongguk isn’t going to admit which.

he counts the rest of the seconds as they speed through the city toward the bookshop. he was right, in the end—it takes them another four minutes and forty-one seconds to arrive, and jeongguk waits until yoongi parks the bike before he swings his leg over and hops off onto the curb, standing with his hands clasped as he waits for yoongi to do the chin strap. he can definitely do that himself, but no one’s complaining as yoongi pulls off his own helmet and shakes out his hair, reaching over to flick under jeongguk’s chin before undoing the chin strap.

jeongguk giggles, pulling off his helmet—it’s new, bright pink with hello kitty on the side. yoongi decided that it was only right that he get his own helmet now, and had even taken him shopping for it; he tried to fob a regular one off on him, but jeongguk had seen the hello kitty one and demanded that he buy that one. and then he demanded that yoongi keep wearing the my little pony helmet so they could match, at least somewhat. with a grin, he tucks the helmet under his arm and lets yoongi fluff his hair, fix his sweater.

“there,” says yoongi once he’s finished, poking jeongguk’s nose. “cute as a button.”

“are you implying that i wasn’t cute before?” asks jeongguk.

yoongi raises an eyebrow.

hyung.

“i didn’t say anything—”

“i’m going to work,” says jeongguk, turning around to march toward the bookshop, but yoongi laughs, catching his arm and pulling him back; jeongguk giggles as he turns around, stumbling a little right into yoongi’s chest.

“not so fast, hotshot,” says yoongi. “you’re forgetting something.”

“i’m awfully forgetful, aren’t i?” muses jeongguk.

“are you sure you’re feeling up to work today?” asks yoongi, putting his hand on jeongguk’s forehead like he’s checking his temperature. “it’s not too late to skip… you could come back to mine and we could cuddle all day.”

jeongguk pouts. “very tempting, hyung,” he says, “but i’m not going to skip work.”

“even for me?”

“even for you. not all of us can be bad boys. also, i know for a fact that you’re going to go to work today, no matter what you say. i know you, min yoongi. you’re a big softie on the inside.”

“no, i just don’t want to get fired,” says yoongi, grinning when jeongguk snorts at him. “so that’s a no to cuddling?”

“we can cuddle after,” says jeongguk as he reaches out and tugs on the lapels of yoongi’s jacket, just a little. “you’re still gonna pick me up for waffles after?”

“we could go for waffles right now

“hyung.

“fine, fine,” sighs yoongi. “i’ll just wallow alone in my bed as i wait until i get to see you again. i don’t know how i’ll ever make it. if i’m not here to pick you up later, please assume that i’ve literally died of loneliness and i passed away clutching your photo.”

jeongguk rolls his eyes, but he tugs on yoongi’s jacket again until yoongi lurches forward, right into his space. “i think you’ll survive,” he murmurs, ducking his head until he can press his lips to yoongi’s in a kiss. he likes this better, he thinks—better than kissing yoongi on the cheek like they used to do when he dropped jeongguk off at work. likes the way yoongi presses back, insistent, and cradles his face. likes the way he tries to pull back and yoongi makes a protesting noise in the back of his throat, wanting more—how he chases after jeongguk and jeongguk giggles as yoongi kisses him again, and again, and again, until jeongguk has to physically push him away.

“hyung,” he giggles as yoongi pulls him back in, starts peppering kisses all over his face. “hyung, stop, i have—” yoongi squeezes his butt and jeongguk lets out a shriek, pushing yoongi away from him as he blushes. “i have to go to work.

“no one’s looking,” says yoongi, trying to lean toward him again, and jeongguk takes a step back, holding his index finger out like he’s going to scold yoongi. which—he would. if he wasn’t currently blushing just from that little bit of attention.

“bad,” says jeongguk. “i really have to go to work.”

“one more kiss?”

jeongguk considers it and then hums, quickly stepping forward and kissing yoongi—not his lips this time, though, but the mole on his cheek. it’s probably not what yoongi wanted, but jeongguk likes to keep him on his toes, knowing that yoongi’s whipped for him, anyway, and he’ll take whatever jeongguk is going to give him.

stepping away, he gives yoongi a wide grin. “goodbye min yoongi,” he says, “whose pouting will not make me come back.”

yoongi doesn’t stop pouting. “goodbye jeon jeongguk,” he sighs, “who is definitely going to come back and kiss me again.”

jeongguk just grins at him as he keeps walking backwards, hello kitty helmet now cradled in his arms, and yoongi stands there as though jeongguk actually is going to come back. and the truth is that jeongguk would come back—he could kiss yoongi for hours, probably, and has, definitely, but he’s already only fifteen minutes early for work. and as much as he likes yoongi, he also likes his job. besides, yoongi’s taking him on a date tonight—they’ll have plenty of time to kiss then.

and—and. he likes the look that yoongi gives him, like he’s half tempted to run over and drag jeongguk back himself, because he knows that yoongi won’t. because he knows that yoongi is only ever going to do what jeongguk wants, because he likes jeongguk too much. because he’s whipped.

still, he just grins at yoongi and then gives him a little wave before turning and disappearing into the bookshop. he takes a moment—cheeks heated, heart racing—to collect himself. kissing yoongi, even once, always makes him nervous, gets him worked up. even though it’s been a few weeks since they started dating, jeongguk feels almost like he did back when they first met—nervous and unsure how to act, unsure how to contain everything that he feels for yoongi. this time, he doesn’t have to contain it, but sometimes it overwhelms him so much when he just looks at yoongi and knows that yoongi likes him back and they’re together, properly. he can kiss yoongi if he wants. and he does, because yoongi is always very eager to kiss him back.

still—it’s not good for his health. he keeps blushing all the time again, like an idiot. yoongi can just look at him and he’ll start blushing, and yoongi will laugh at him, and that’ll make him blush even more. everything is new—and exciting, a little. jeongguk shyly holds yoongi’s hand whenever they’re together, trying to tell himself that they’re still the same people they were before, still the same friends. now, he just gets to tell people that yoongi is his boyfriend, which always raises a few eyebrows.

he just likes yoongi so much. and he likes being with him, even if it’s new and they’re still trying to work out boundaries and logistics. yoongi still drives him to work every morning, but now jeongguk gets to kiss him on the lips as a thank you. and yoongi always tries to steal a few more, not afraid of trying to get frisky even in the middle of the street, but jeongguk doesn’t know why he’s surprised by that. yoongi was always forward, even in their friendship.

now—jeongguk takes a moment before turning around and peering out of the glass door to see yoongi has finally given up on getting jeongguk to come back. he’s just putting on his helmet, and jeongguk can’t help giggling at how ridiculous he looks with his black motorcycle and black clothing and bright pink my little pony helmet. he wouldn’t have to wear it when jeongguk isn’t around to demand it, but, well. he wears it anyway, because jeongguk told him to. jeongguk’s heart swells at the stupidest things.

as yoongi gets back on the bike and starts it up, he turns to look at the shop, and jeongguk blows him a kiss for good measure. like always, yoongi catches it. and jeongguk’s toes curl in his shoes, hating how much it makes him feel, and how the butterflies in the stomach burst to life just from something as small as that. he waits until yoongi as driven away to turn around, taking a deep breath. he does have work to do, after all—he can’t spend all day thinking about min yoongi, as much as he might want to.

true to his word, yoongi is waiting outside when jeongguk finishes his shift, happily bidding his boss farewell before skipping out to the street with a, “hello min yoongi, survivor of loneliness and despair,” and yoongi scowls at him, and jeongguk giggles and kisses him to make it better.

they go to jeongguk’s favourite waffle place—halfway across town, but it’s worth the long drive. it’s their thing. they have a lot of things, and jeongguk realizes they might have been blurring the lines for a while before they actually started dating. he doesn’t mind, though, as long as he has yoongi in any capacity, even if this is the best one.

at the restaurant, jeongguk slides into the booth first and then holds his hand out to yoongi, bottom lip jutting out into a pout. yoongi regards him for a second, and then says, “you know we look idiotic sitting on the same side of the booth.”

“i didn’t think you cared what people thought about you,” says jeongguk, making a grabby hand and pouting a little harder. he knows yoongi will crack—he always does. and jeongguk isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops to make him.

yoongi narrows his eyes. “i don’t.

jeongguk makes one last very aggressive grabby hand, as though to say then prove it. they engage in a strange staring contest for a few seconds, testing yoongi’s iron will—because he really is good at saying no to other people. most people wouldn’t even bother challenging him, thanks to the way he looks, but jeongguk isn’t just anyone. jeongguk is yoongi’s boyfriend, and yoongi likes making jeongguk happy.

so—with a sigh, yoongi finally slides into the booth beside jeongguk, and jeongguk beams, immediately reaching out for yoongi’s hands and intertwining their fingers as he gives him a kiss on the cheek for his troubles. “thanks, hyung! i just wanted to hold your hand.”

“we can hold hands over the table.”

“well, it’s too late now,” he says, and giggles when he sees the exasperated look on yoongi’s face. he loves it, just won’t admit it, probably. jeongguk gives him another kiss on the cheek, holding his lips there until he blows a raspberry and yoongi jerks away, and jeongguk giggles at him.

“you’re a brat,” says yoongi, jabbing his free hand into jeongguk’s side in revenge, and jeongguk continues to giggle, twisting away from him. it’s hard when they’re stuck in a booth and holding hands, but before he can attempt to retaliate, their waiter shows up with a slightly exasperated expression. yoongi and jeongguk come here often enough that they’re practically on a first-name basis with him, which means he’s used to their antics.

“hello,” says the man. “what can i get you?”

jeongguk perks up, turning his attention to the waiter, and yoongi takes the opportunity to tickle him again, so jeongguk’s words come out something like, “hell—ow, hyung!” he swats at yoongi’s hand, swallowing his giggles when the waiter just levels them with a deadpan gaze. jeongguk is going to assume that he doesn’t have someone to express pda with, which is unfortunate. “sorry, hi. i’ll have the triple trouble waffles, please! with, um—chocolate, strawberry, and salted caramel ice cream, please. and extra whipped cream, if possible. oh! and chocolate sauce?”

beside him, yoongi makes a vague gagging noise, and jeongguk pinches his thigh. sure, it’s only five thirty and this is technically going to be his dinner, but yoongi’s going to pay for the waffles no matter what he gets. (jeongguk will protest, because he always does, and say that he should pay for them at least once, and yoongi will insist, because he always does, saying that he’s the hyung, so it’s only fair. but jeongguk protests anyway, because it would be rude if he didn’t.)

“and for you?” asks the waiter, looking to yoongi.

“just the belgian waffle,” he says.

“lame,” sighs jeongguk. “can i get a coffee, too? just black.”

after the waiter is gone, yoongi squeezes his hand, says, “i still can’t believe you’re going to have ice cream and chocolate sauce and extra whipped cream on your waffles and then only have black coffee.”

“it’s called having duality, yoongi-hyung,” says jeongguk. “besides, i’m a growing boy. i need my food!”

“i think that’s supposed to be about drinking lots of milk and stuff.”

“ice cream is made out of milk,” says jeongguk, and yoongi just—looks at him for a second before he shakes his head, laughing. jeongguk beams. clearly his logic is better than yoongi’s. he squishes a little closer, hooking his ankle around yoongi’s before he turns his face into yoongi’s shoulder, peering up at him like that and admiring yoongi’s side profile; his hair has begun to fade since he first dyed it, the mint becoming more of a light blue than anything, but he likes it. likes yoongi’s pretty eyes, still sharp, and his pretty nose, and his pretty pouty lips. sometimes he just wants to sit and look, just wants to remind himself what he has and marvel how far he’s come from not even being able to look yoongi in the eyes for fear of how pretty he was.

that’s it, he thinks—yoongi still makes him nervous, still makes him blush. but jeongguk isn’t afraid of that anymore.

“what?” yoongi asks eventually, awkwardly craning his neck so he can look at jeongguk. “is there something on my face?”

“no,” says jeongguk. “just admiring how pretty my hyung is.”

“your pretty hyung is getting tired of staring at an empty booth,” says yoongi, and jeongguk grins, pressing a kiss to yoongi’s shoulder.

“tell me about your day?” he asks, because he likes knowing, because he always wants to know everything about yoongi—he thought, back when they first met, that he could spend the rest of his life tying to understand yoongi, trying to unravel all of his mysteries and inner workings. he likes to think that he knows yoongi, knows him the way that he wanted to know back then, but—there’s still so much. jeongguk will always find something new about yoongi—something new to like, something new to learn to love. and besides, if yoongi talks to him, he can continue to stare at his pretty face and that’s always going to make him happy.

so yoongi does—jeongguk sits and plays with his fingers as yoongi starts talking about his day, staring from his long and agonizing ride home after dropping jeongguk off. he’s not a dramatic person by any means, but he does it to make jeongguk laugh, because he knows that jeongguk will laugh every time. sometimes jeongguk gets distracted by the corner of yoongi’s mouth, too busy staring and wanting to kiss it as yoongi talks about going to work, about some of the little kids that he met and helped. and it’s strange, sometimes, to hear yoongi talk about working at build-a-bear, to hear him talk about how he treats the kids and makes them feel special—because it goes against everything he looks like. it looks like yoongi should be mean to kids, but he isn’t. he’s quite the opposite.

it makes jeongguk’s heart bloom and blossom inside of him. makes him warm. yoongi has his flaws, but he’s a good person. he’s sweet. jeongguk wants to hold his hand forever, wants to listen to him talk, wants to admire him for the rest of his life. he’s only known yoongi for four months, has only been dating him for three weeks (two weeks and six days, because of course he’s keeping track), but that’s true—he wants to do this for the rest of his life.

“we’re getting some new animals in, though,” yoongi is saying. “since it’s going to be valentine’s day soon. so they’re all pink and white and red and have hearts on them and stuff.”

jeongguk gasps—“hyung! you have to take me. i bet they’re so cute.”

“you don’t even know what they look like.”

“if they have hearts, they’re cute,” he says, leaning his head against yoongi’s shoulder. “maybe i’ll get a big bear this time… a human-sized one. for cuddles.”

yoongi scoffs. “you have me.

“it’s not the same,” says jeongguk. “you’re not in my bed.

“i could be in your bed. or you could be in mine. or we could be in the back of someone’s car…”

jeongguk blushes a little, realizing what it sounds like—and he hadn’t meant it like that, just that he likes holding something when he’s sleeping, and as nice as august is, the cat is a little small. “that’s,” he begins, clearing his throat. “that’s not—” the waiter shows up at that exact moment, thankfully saving him the embarrassment and yoongi’s teasing. he gratefully accepts his plate of waffles—with three scoops of ice cream and extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce, just like he wanted. it looks even better beside yoongi’s plain waffle with one little dollop of whipped cream and a few strawberry slices.

after a second, he grabs his fork and scoops yoongi’s whipped cream off of his waffle, showing it in his mouth as yoongi makes a protesting noise.

“you want it?” he asks with his mouth full, grinning at yoongi as he turns toward him and seems to consider it for a moment—and then dives forward, kissing jeongguk right there in the middle of the restaurant. jeongguk starts giggling—which means he opens his mouth, and yoongi dips his tongue inside, scooping some of the whipped cream out, and it’s gross, but it just makes jeongguk giggle harder as yoongi pulls back and makes a show of wiping his lips.

“you already got your own whipped cream,” says yoongi, reaching out for jeongguk’s waffles and scooping up some of said whipped cream with his finger. he wipes it on jeongguk’s nose. “there.”

giggling, jeongguk swallows the whipped cream. “i still want a bear,” he says, finally returning to his own waffles. his ice cream is going to melt if he doesn’t eat it soon, and soggy waffles are the absolute worst.

“can we at least go to build-a-bear when i’m not working?” asks yoongi. “it’s fucking embarrassing.”

“but you’re so cute in your khakis, hyung.”

“i’ll stab you with this fork.”

“oh, bad boy min yoongi threatens innocent boyfriend over a plate of waffles—” yoongi wipes a little more whipped cream on his face and then just as quickly goes back to his own waffles, leaving jeongguk to wipe it off with a napkin. he can’t help teasing, mostly because he knows it’s embarrassing for yoongi—the khakis and apron don’t really go with his usual get-up, especially the tattoos and mint hair. he hasn’t let jeongguk take any photos of him in his uniform yet, but jeongguk needs photographic evidence for the future. (like their wedding video. jeongguk likes to be prepared.)

still—“fine,” he sighs, stuffing a piece of waffle into his mouth. “we can go when you’re not working. i’ll even let you choose its name this time.”

“what about july?”

“hilarious.”

jeongguk cuts another piece of waffle, making sure that it has a little bite of strawberry ice cream on it, as well as whipped cream, before he spears it with his fork and nudges yoongi, holding the fork to him. yoongi’s not a fan of sharing food—jeongguk knows this from the many times he’s tried to convince yoongi to give him a bite of whatever he’s eating, although he might protest because jeongguk usually does it when he has his own plate of food or when he claims that he doesn’t want anything and then of course changes his mind as soon as he sees what yoongi gets—but he immediately opens his mouth anyway, letting jeongguk feed him the piece of waffle.

“good?” asks jeongguk.

“waffles and ice cream just don’t go together,” says yoongi, frowning, and jeongguk shrugs. more for him, anyway.

after they’ve finished, jeongguk trying to play footsie and steal yoongi’s food the whole time, yoongi pays the bill and tugs jeongguk out of the booth, still attached by their hands. “you know,” he says as they’re leaving, jeongguk crowding close because it’s cold outside—“i’d actually be happy to have you in my bed. no innuendo intended.”

“i know,” says jeongguk, cheeks flushing anyway. “is it okay if—we don’t, though? i mean, stay over. for a little bit.” it’s one of the things they haven’t really talked about—sleeping in the same bed. and as much as jeongguk would really like to sleep in the same bed as yoongi, he’s hesitant to. not because he thinks yoongi will try anything, but because jeongguk doesn’t really trust himself. and he’s shy enough as it is, and they’ve only been dating for two weeks and six days, and maybe they should take it slow. whatever that means.

anyway—maybe he doesn’t have the words to explain it. sometimes jeongguk just feels like he needs to do something, or to not do something. and this is it—he’s not ready yet, is all.

but yoongi, because yoongi is yoongi and yoongi likes him a whole lot, doesn’t need words. he just nods, tugging jeongguk a little closer to give him a kiss right between the eyes. “of course,” he says. “whatever you wanna do, baby. i’m happy as long as you’re happy.”

god, that’s so cheesy,” says jeongguk, trying to cover up the fact that he’s blushing again, and feels far too happy at the idea of yoongi just being willing to go along with whatever he wants, to set their boundaries as they go. they’ve crossed so many lines already that it’s hard to know where to pull back, but yoongi lets him take the reins.

yoongi grins at him, pulls him back when jeongguk pulls away. “you just let me know what you want, okay?” he asks, keeping his voice low—he’s being serious. something like nerves curl in jeongguk’s gut, but he knows, he knows. “i don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or upset. i just wanna make you happy.”

“i know, hyung,” says jeongguk, a little breathless. “thank you.”

yoongi squeezes his hand. and that’s—enough.

he drives jeongguk home, and jeongguk holds on tightly as he counts the seconds. he used to hate the bike rides, counting because he wanted them to end; even if he liked being with yoongi, it was too scary for him. now, he counts because he wants to make every second count—every second of holding onto yoongi, chest pressed to his back, feeling yoongi breathe under him. he knows that when they get to his apartment and he stops counting, he’ll have to say goodbye. that’s the worst part of it—he hates saying goodbye more than he hates riding on a death trap, so he doesn’t mind riding on the death trap.

he considers, of course, inviting yoongi in. and yoongi would come, because he wants to make jeongguk happy. it would be easy to just not kiss him goodbye, to tilt his head toward the door. and that’s what his heart wants, maybe, even though he knows in his head that it’s not a good idea. he has to remind himself to like yoongi a little less, to not try to give himself entirely to yoongi so quickly, to save something for later. that’s it—he wants to save something for later.

so he just closes his eyes, feeling yoongi underneath him as they drive and drive, until they get to yoongi’s apartment and jeongguk reluctantly lets go, climbing off of the bike. yoongi undoes the chin strap on jeongguk’s helmet, pulls it off. grins at him, like it’s been a long time since they’ve last seen each other.

“thanks, hyung,” says jeongguk. “for the waffles. and the ride. and letting me eat your whipped cream.”

“i didn’t let you,” says yoongi, “but you’re welcome.”

he hesitates, just for a second. it would be so easy—but he glances up at the apartment and sees the lights on. seokjin and namjoon are home, and inviting yoongi inside is a bad idea solely for their reactions. at least that’s what jeongguk tells himself as he turns back to look at yoongi, a small and shy smile on his lips. saying goodbye is always the worst part of the day, but also the best, just a little—because that means that he gets to kiss yoongi again, gets to look forward to seeing him again. and seeing yoongi is always the best part of the day, but he can’t see yoongi again unless he says goodbye, so.

“see you tomorrow?” asks jeongguk, worrying at his bottom lip as though yoongi is going to say no.

“eight-fifteen am,” says yoongi. then—“you should wear your glasses tomorrow. i like when you do.”

“they make me look stupid,” says jeongguk.

“they’re cute. you’re cute.”

“am i cute without them?”

“stop fishing for compliments,” says yoongi, and jeongguk grins. but yoongi relents, because he always does—reaches out and hooks his fingers through jeongguk’s belt loops to pull him closer, until he’s standing on either side of yoongi’s legs where he’s leaning against the seat of his bike. yoongi has to tilt his head up, much shorter than jeongguk now, and jeongguk crowds closer, tilting his head down until they’re almost touching—“you’re cute, jeon jeongguk. always. i like your glasses, though.”

“i’ll wear my glasses if you wear anything other than black,” grins jeongguk, bumping his nose against yoongi’s.

“do you think i only own black?”

“i’ve seen no evidence to suggest the contrary,” he says, and yoongi leans up just enough to nip at his bottom lip in retaliation.

“you gonna kiss me goodbye or what?” asks yoongi. “my ass is getting cold.” jeongguk has mercy on him—mostly because he doesn’t want to wait, either, likes yoongi too much to be this close and not do anything about it—and tilts his head just right, kissing yoongi like that. he leans his hands against yoongi’s shoulders as yoongi tugs him even closer by the waist, always wanting more—but jeongguk doesn’t give it to him, just pressing evenly for a few long seconds before he pulls back with a click of their lips. in the darkness, he can see yoongi’s eyes shining almost hungrily, like he has to hold himself back, but jeongguk just grins, squeezing yoongi’s shoulder before he steps back. yoongi’s hands fall from his waist.

“i miss you already,” yoongi tells him as jeongguk steps back onto the curb and backs up.

“disgusting.” jeongguk calls back, although he can’t help grinning, can’t help revelling in all of this.

he gets to the door, his back hitting it as he watches yoongi. he wants so badly, so much—it terrifies him. but he takes a breath, resolute.

“goodnight jeon jeongguk,” yoongi finally calls, soft soft soft, “whipped cream thief.”

“goodnight min yoongi,” jeongguk calls back, “ever the gentleman.” at that, yoongi gives a little bow, tipping an invisible hat. jeongguk giggles, and then, to stop himself from running back over and giving yoongi another kiss, turns around and opens the door, slipping inside and shutting it behind him.

as always—he takes a moment to breathe. being with yoongi feels like a dream most of the time, or takes so much out of him not because it’s exhausting but because he has to hold so much in. has to keep himself in check, has to deal with the onslaught of emotions that don’t seem to actually hit him until yoongi is gone and he thinks i like you i like you i like you too much.

but. he lets all of it out with a sigh, sagging against the door. he toes off his shoes. he pads through the entrance, following the sound of namjoon and seokjin’s voices in the living room, spotting namjoon on the floor, surrounded by books upon books, and papers, and his laptop. seokjin is on one of the sofas, on his phone, and they both look up when jeongguk enters, giddy grin on his lips.

seokjin says, “no.”

jeongguk ignores him, stepping over namjoon’s books so he can settle on the couch, already flopping down and putting his head in seokjin’s lap. “hyung,” he begins.

“i said, no. down.”

“i’m not a dog,” he protests, rolling so he can look up at seokjin, who is scowling, but he doesn’t push jeongguk away. “i just wanted to say that—”

“you love yoongi so much, he’s the best boyfriend ever, he took you out for waffles and you spent five minutes saying goodbye because you just wanted to kiss his moles,” says seokjin. “we know.

jeongguk frowns. “i wasn’t gonna say that,” he mutters, even though he was going to say that.

“i liked it better when you were emotionally constipated and couldn’t admit that you liked yoongi,” says seokjin. “wouldn’t you agree, namjoon-ah?”

“it was bad either way,” says namjoon, not even bothering to look up from his laptop. “either he was getting flustered and hiding behind one of us every time he thought about yoongi, or now he’s getting flustered and lamenting about how beautiful yoongi is every time he thinks about yoongi. either way, he’s not letting me study.”

hyung,” protests jeongguk. “aren’t you happy for me?”

he’s met with silence.

ugh,” he says, sitting up and getting off of the sofa. “fine, i’ll go tell hoseok-hyung, instead.”

“oh yes,” says seokjin. “warn him that yoongi is about to come home and cry about how much he likes you, too.”

“no, don’t,” says namjoon. “then he’ll text us complaining about it. “

“at least we can put him on mute,” says seokjin, as jeongguk huffs and leaves the room. “can’t put jeongguk on mute. trust me, i’ve tried.”

“you’re the worst roommates ever!” jeongguk calls as he gets to his room, already reaching for his phone so he can sulk to someone.

after a brief pause, namjoon calls back, “love you, too, gukkie!” and jeongguk huffs, closing the door.

it’s in the middle of watching a rerun of produce 48 that jeongguk realizes he misses singing. he quit his original group officially after yoongi ‘talked’ to the three boys that had been bothering him, which means it’s been something like five weeks since he last sang properly. singing in the shower or on his own isn’t the same anymore, not after he’s had a taste of what it’s like to be in a group again with people who love singing as much as he does and want to help uplift him. he’s been hesitant about finding another group for fear of ending up in another one with people who don’t like him, but—but.

he watches the girls singing and dancing, and thinks—he wants that. he wants that, wants so badly to be on stage and to sing, not even just in a group. but he knows that he doesn’t have enough saved up for lessons just yet, and despite all four of his hyungs telling him that they would gladly chip in to help out, he knows he needs to do this on his own.

still—he and yoongi are cuddled on the sofa listening to hoseok give commentary on the show (because he still doesn’t know how to shut up during movies) when jeongguk turns to look at yoongi and says, “do you—still have the info about those other singing groups that you researched when i wanted to join one originally?”

yoongi looks up at him where his head is pillowed in jeongguk’s lap. “are you thinking of joining another one?”

“i don’t know,” says jeongguk, wrinkling his nose. “the first one ended up being pretty shitty, but… i miss it. i miss singing with other people who like singing, and getting direction that can help me. it was fun.”

“up until those idiots made you feel like shit about your singing.”

jeongguk frowns, carding his fingers through yoongi’s hair. “i know,” he says. “that’s why i’m apprehensive—i don’t want it to be a do-over of that, you know? but it’s been a while, so… i think i’ll be okay.”

“yoongi-hyung will beat up anyone who says your singing is shit, anyway,” says hoseok, still paying attention to the tv show.

“i’m trying not to beat people up,” says yoongi, flinging a leg out toward his roommate, sitting on the other end of the sofa. “although it’s true,” he adds, looking back up at jeongguk. “if you wanted me to beat someone up.”

“you don’t need to beat someone up, hyung,” says jeongguk. “if someone says something about my singing… i think i could handle it better this time, now that i’ve had to deal with it once. and i would definitely just leave the group right away. but maybe we can try again?”

he wants to be brave, is the thing—he’s never done well with people not liking his singing, or even anything else about him. but the truth is that he’s always going to come up against people who don’t like him, or don’t like his singing, or don’t like what he does. he’s a people pleaser, but he’s coming to realize that it’s impossible to please everyone, and if he tries, he’ll only end up burning himself out, or not being true to himself. if he wants to sing—then he’ll fucking sing. maybe his voice won’t be everyone’s taste. but that’s just the sort of thing he’s going to come up against when he tries to become a professional singer, so he might as well learn how to deal with it now.

yoongi grins up at him. “okay,” he says. “if you want to.”

“i do,” says jeongguk. “and if the people in my new group can’t handle me being better than them, then i’d be happy to give them tips on how to improve.”

“that’s my baby.”

jeongguk drags yoongi’s laptop over, letting hoseok pay attention to the singing show on his own—although he’s still happy to commentate for them, which is nice. also kind of annoying, but that’s beside the point. the first time they did this, jeongguk was too overwhelmed and nervous to actually do any of the researching himself, making yoongi do all of it. but he’s more determined this time and wants to make sure that it’s perfect, so he’s the one who starts scouring the internet, pulling up the information that yoongi found the first time.

yoongi sits beside him, slumped against his arm and occasionally offering advice or comments on different things that jeongguk finds. it’s great—until yoongi gets bored. and yoongi gets bored very, very quickly.

jeongguk has just vetted the third group from yoongi’s original list when yoongi gets up from the sofa, apparently leaving him to his own devices. hoseok makes his guttural sound, which jeongguk can only mean he’s gotten to the ranking and his favourite contestant isn’t doing so well. (it’s not like he doesn’t already know who ends up in the group, but jeongguk isn’t going to say anything.)

“do you think an all male group would be better or worse?” jeongguk calls out, narrowing his eyes as he scrolls through the facebook page of called timbre! “i kind of liked the noonas in the old group, but i guess this would be more of a brotherhood or something.”

“oh my god, that’s bullshit,” says hoseok. “she did so well last week!”

“hello?” calls jeongguk. “anyone? all male group, yes or no?”

“what’s it called?” asks yoongi from behind him, hands coming to rest on jeongguk’s shoulders. “i’ll only vote for it if they’re called like… cresendudes.”

hyung, that’s so lame,” says jeongguk, although he giggles a little at the name. “they’re called timbre! with an exclamation point. and they meet once a week like my old group and they’re casual, although they put on little shows sometimes as fundraisers and stuff.” he’s momentarily distracted as yoongi bends down, first sticking his face in jeongguk’s hair and sniffing—strange, a little—and then moving his face down the side of jeongguk’s head, over his ear.

yoongi hums, voice vibrating into jeongguk’s ear; he shivers, tilting his head sideways as yoongi skims his lips down jeongguk’s neck, settling right in the crook.

“and,” continues jeongguk, toes curling as yoongi plants a kiss on his neck. “it says right here that they have a no-discrimination policy s-so—” he pauses as yoongi continues planting kisses on his neck, a little harder each time, with a little more purpose—“so i’m sure they don’t let people in who are going to bully someone else for getting atte—atten—fuck, hyung.” he can feel yoongi grinning into his neck, pleased with himself for whatever he’s doing: distracting jeongguk, trying to be cheeky.

either way, yoongi just mutters a, “what?” before he latches onto jeongguk’s neck again, sucking at the skin properly now as jeongguk’s body curls up, shivers running down his spine.

“you’re distracting me,” he whines. “i’m trying to—hyung.” the last word is punctuated by yoongi nipping at his skin, finally letting go when he likely gets what he wants—which, jeongguk assumes, is to suck a massive hickey into the side of his neck. “i have work tomorrow.”

“you look cute in turtlenecks,” says yoongi with a smirk in his voice. jeongguk realizes, somewhat, that this is the sort of bad boy behaviour that yoongi exhibits—it’s less about breaking the law and not being able to deal with his feelings, which is the sort of thing that jeongguk would have run far away from in the beginning. yoongi just likes to push the boundaries, likes to tease him, likes to make just a little more rebellious.

likes to give him hickies, too, and try to convince him not to go to work so that they can get waffles instead. the worst part is that jeongguk is always toeing the line, always on the verge of going anywhere with yoongi.

still, jeongguk pouts. “i’m trying to do research,” he says.

“i want you to pay attention to me, though,” says yoongi, and across the sofa, hoseok makes a gagging noise; for the first time, jeongguk isn’t sure if it’s from the tv show or not. when he glances up, he sees it’s a car commercial, so—it’s probably aimed at them, not very subtly. jeongguk can understand why seokjin and namjoon found it preferable when jeongguk couldn’t admit that he liked yoongi.

“okay, just—” jeongguk hums, righting his head as yoongi starts playing with his hair. “yes to this timbre group?”

“if it’s what you want, then i’m in favour of it,” says yoongi, and jeongguk thinks—there’s always a chance that it’s going to be bad. there’s always a chance that any singing group he joins is going to be bad, but there’s only one way to find out. he sends a quick message to the director of the group, then, asking if he can join their next practice to check them out, bookmarks the page, and then closes yoongi’s laptop, setting it aside.

“okay,” he says. “now i can pay attention to you.”

“thank god,” says yoongi, but before jeongguk can turn around to look at him, yoongi’s hands are on his face, tilting his head back against the back of the sofa. he squints up at yoongi, their faces the wrong way around—like spiderman, he thinks vaguely—and yoongi squishes his cheeks together. “wanna see how long it takes hoseok to leave out of pure disgust?”

jeongguk giggles, face squished together as yoongi bends down and kisses his pursed lips with an over exaggerated mwah sound. he keeps giggling as yoongi keeps kissing him—first his lips, then his nose, then between his eyes, then his forehead. he makes loud smacking sounds as he does so, barely masking hoseok saying, “i know what you’re doing and i’ll have you know that my love for singing competitions will always win out over my disgust at you two making out in the middle of the living room.”

yoongi kisses him again—again again again as jeongguk laughs, and even though jeongguk is supposed to be the one paying attention to yoongi, he likes this better. likes when yoongi kisses him, pays attention to the little scar on his cheek and his moles and every other part of him. it makes him feel loved and cared for—and that’s what he likes. that’s what he wants. he likes to take care of yoongi too, even if it looks a little different.

“is it working?” yoongi asks eventually, pulling back to presumably check on hoseok, who hasn’t left the room yet. “god, he’s hard to crack today. jeongguk-ah, i’m about to stick my tongue in your mouth.”

“i’ve seen worse,” comments hoseok, and jeongguk grasps at yoongi’s wrists, grinning up at him; yoongi’s hair is flopping in his eyes, and he has that secret smile he saves only for jeongguk. he has the entire universe in his eyes, and jeongguk wants it. jeongguk wants to take it out right out of him, wants to swallow it whole.

“what if i take my shirt off?” says yoongi.

“i’ve definitely seen that before,” says hoseok.

“what if i take my shirt off?” says jeongguk.

“good idea,” says yoongi. “scare him off with your rock hard abs and well-defined biceps.”

“only if you lick them.”

“damn, you’re wild tonight, jeongguk-ah. i might just have to break out the grapefruits.”

jeongguk peers up at him, trying to figure out exactly what he means by that, although—apparently it doesn’t matter, because hoseok finally throws the remote on the sofa and gets up with a, “alright! you win! i don’t want to know what the fuck you’re going to use grapefruits for.” they wait until he leaves the room, jeongguk trying to see out of the corner of his eyes with yoongi still holding his face, and then yoongi snorts, leaning down to press another kiss to jeongguk’s lips.

“what are the grapefruits for?” asks jeongguk.

“i dunno, just sounded like something that would scare him away,” says yoongi. “he’s not a fan of people using food in less than innocent ways.”

i’m not a fan of people using food in less than innocent ways.”

“i’ll have to keep that in mind. you know, for… future reference.”

hyung,” jeongguk blushes, but yoongi just laughs at him, vaulting over the back of the sofa and landing beside him, pulling jeongguk in again.

two weeks later, yoongi drives him to the first timbre! practice. despite the nerves that curl in his stomach, jeongguk tells himself to be brave; he wants to find a place that he belongs here, wants to make this good. and as much as he wants to cling to yoongi the whole time, he knows this is something he has to do for himself. it was nice to have yoongi by him the first time, and it was nice that yoongi tried to deal with the bullying for him, but jeongguk isn’t a child. yoongi is trying to work on not smoking and trying to hurt people when he’s angry, so jeongguk is working on not relying so much on other people and being assertive.

still—“are you sure you don’t want me to come in?” asks yoongi as he takes jeongguk’s helmet off, a worried crease in his forehead; there’s something horribly endearing about it, the way yoongi worries about him. worries about his wellbeing, about his happiness. that’s how jeongguk knows he’s found the right one.

“i’ll be okay, hyung,” jeongguk says. “if i don’t like it, i won’t come back, and if anyone says something rude about my singing, i’ll just sing louder. or i won’t come back, because it might make me cry, but i know that i don’t have to deal with that if i don’t want to.”

the worried look on yoongi’s face doesn’t go away.

jeongguk grins, pulling yoongi into a hug and leaning his cheek against the side of yoongi’s head. “i’m a big kid, yoongi-hyung,” he says. “and i’ll call you if anything goes wrong. i know you’ll be itching to race over here if i need anything.”

“can’t help it,” yoongi huffs into his neck. “i swear sometimes i have nightmares about the first time i ever saw you cry.”

“would you cry if i cried?”

“are you going to cry on purpose to find out?”

jeongguk giggles, turning his head and pressing a kiss into yoongi’s hair. “i’ll call you,” he says. “either way, if it goes bad or if it goes well. and don’t stare at your phone the whole time. it’s just a singing practice.”

reluctantly, yoongi lets go. jeongguk likes that yoongi wants to protect him, wants to take care of him—but there are some things that he can and has to do himself. when yoongi pouts at him—honest to god pouts, looks a little like jeongguk himself, and they haven’t been dating for long but maybe they’re already starting to pick up on each other’s habits and mannerisms—jeongguk leans down and kisses him square on the lips.

“goodbye min yoongi,” he says as he backs away, taking his hello kitty helmet with him, “who is very cute when he’s worried but shouldn’t be worried in the first place.”

yoongi narrows his eyes. “goodbye jeon jeongguk,” he says, “who will call me the moment something even remotely bad goes wrong or i’ll be upset.”

“these are getting a little convoluted,” says jeongguk.

“go sing your little heart out,” says yoongi.

and jeongguk does.

he was worried, just a little, trying not to let it show—but from the moment he steps into little hall that has been rented out for the group and sees them, he knows. he sings for them, and they praise him, call him their missing link—which probably isn’t true, but it makes him feel good anyway. it’s a group of men, mostly young like him, mostly just looking for a way to express their love for music amidst school and work and family. the first practice is a success, at least on his part—he doesn’t get nervous after the initial performance, not even once. no one tells him that he sucks. he doesn’t even think about calling yoongi.

once they’re done the practice, jeongguk packs up his things, feeling light on his feet even with the prospect of a little concert near the end of february—they’ve been asked to sing at a fundraiser for some cancer society in the city, and the director tells jeongguk that he by no means has to participate since they’re already halfway through rehearsals and he hasn’t been with them long, but he wants to, wants to push himself, wants to be good. it’s as he’s putting on his scarf that he notices two of the other members of the group near him, whispering somewhat conspiratorially.

“you ask him,” one of them whispers, and jeongguk pauses, looking down at his hands so that he doesn’t have to look at them and let them know that he’s caught them.

you ask him,” the other one whispers back.

“i have mono.”

“you don’t have mono, oh my god—”

“um,” says jeongguk, finally looking up and over at them. “hello?” the two young men stop whispering immediately, eyes wide like deer caught in headlights as they stare back at him; they’re practically hunched over each other like they’re plotting something evil, and jeongguk just. looks. he wouldn’t be able to recall their names despite having been introduced to everyone at the beginning, but he thinks he remembers one of them whistling after his performance.

he stares at them and they stare back for a terse moment. then one of them—the shorter of the two, with blonde hair—reaches over to the table they’re next to, grabbing the full plate of cookies that someone had brought and thrusting them toward jeongguk. “refreshment?” he asks. jeongguk blinks at the plate.

“no thanks,” he says after a moment. “i’m not a fan of gingerbread.”

“not a fan of gingerbread?” asks the man, and then turns to face the other one—taller, dark hair. “we might have to rethink this, tae.”

“oh my god,” says the second one—tae. “jimin, you’re so embarrassing and you’ll scare the poor kid away.”

“m’not a kid,” says jeongguk, and both of them look at him, as though they forget he was there. he has to wonder if that happens a lot; even just from talking to them for about two seconds, he can somehow tell that they’re a package deal and very interested in each other and not really anyone else.

“of course not,” says the first one. “sorry. we’re just—we like you. we’d adopt you if we could. is that weird?”

“yes,” says jeongguk. “you don’t even know me.”

“we know you have a lovely singing voice,” says the second. “and that’s all we need to know. we’re thinking of starting a singing colony, you know like the hutterites except korean and not at all like the hutterites.”

jeongguk blinks.

“i’m taehyung,” says the second one, moving forward and taking the plate of cookies out of the first one’s hands, setting it down on the table before he extends his hand for jeongguk to shake. “this is jimin. sorry, we always come off a little strong.”

“i told you that we should have gone with the singing gram thing,” mutters jimin.

despite how strange it is—and how strange they are—jeongguk finds himself grinning, bemused. “what singing gram thing?” he asks. jimin lights up immediately, clearly pleased with the invitation, and taehyung lets out a little groan.

“never ask about the singing gram thing, jeongguk-ah,” he says. “is it okay if i call you jeongguk-ah? cool, anyway, jimin and i will be leaving now—”

“but i haven’t done the singing gram thing!” protests jimin as taehyung physically grabs him and begins dragging him away, and jeongguk giggles as he watches them.

“we just wanted to say hello!” taehyung calls to him. “and welcome you to timbre! and tell you that if you ever need anything, we’re happy to help, and that we really love your voice, and we’ll try to be less weird next time, maybe. it’s hard to turn off.”

“please be our friend!” jimin calls, still being dragged away. “we’ll give you singing tips and cookies! but not gingerbread.”

jeongguk watches them until they disappear around the corner, presumably toward the door. and then he giggles to himself, shaking his head as he mutters, “okay.” it’s not sure what to expect from them—they are strange, but the nice kind of strange. the kind of strange that offers him cookies and tells him that he has a nice voice, and he can deal with that.

on the bus ride home, he calls yoongi and tells him about it. “i met some people,” he says, sinking low in the bus seat and speaking quietly so that no one can overhear him. “at the singing thing.”

“what kind of people?” yoongi asks immediately, a thread of concern in his voice; jeongguk imagines his face, that worried crease back in his forehead, but the little eyebrow furrow he does when he’s uncertain about something, the way his lips turn downward when he’s suspicious. it almost makes jeongguk laugh.

nice people, hyung,” says jeongguk, picking at the seam of his jeans. “everyone was really nice, but these two—jimin and taehyung—came up to me after specifically to tell me that they like my voice and if i need anything, i should let me know.”

that’s weird,” says yoongi immediately. “they don’t even know you; why would they offer you something like that?”

hyung,” sighs jeongguk. “you don’t have to be worried about them, i think. they seem nice and cool and a little weird, but like a good weird. not like a they’re gonna bully me out of the group weird. they offered me cookies.”

“did you eat the cookies? they could be trying to offer you an olive branch to gain your trust and then snatch it away from you at the last second to leave you devastated.”

jeongguk rolls his eyes, sliding down in the seat even more. “stop being so pessimistic,” he mumbles into the phone. “they actually seem nice. but remember that i’m a big kid and i can handle myself and decide who i want to spend my time with. if i decide that they’re not as nice as i thought, i’ll just… stop talking to them.”

“would you really?” asks yoongi. “i know you, jeongguk. you feel bad about ending friendships with people. you’ll let people walk all over you because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

“that’s not true.”

“jeongguk-ah, last week the lady at that mongolian restaurant we went to gave you the wrong order and you refused to say anything about it because you said she was probably busy and stressed and it was an accident and you would eat it anyway.”

“well, i would!”

“it had meat in it. you’re a vegetarian.”

jeongguk pouts, picking even harder at his jeans. “so what? what does this have to do with jimin and taehyung?”

“i’m just saying that i want you to be careful,” says yoongi. “i don’t want a repeat of last time. and i can’t help being suspicious and protective of you considering what happened last time. and i know you really want this to work out because you miss singing with a group, but remember that we have tonnes of other options if this doesn’t work. so if jimin and taehyung turn out to be not as cool as you thought, you have to tell me.”

jeongguk wrinkles his nose, tempted to be a brat and say that he doesn’t need yoongi’s help or concern. but the truth is that—yoongi is right. jeongguk doesn’t like making people feel bad, so he’ll continue to bend and bend for them, until he might just snap. he doesn’t mean to hurt himself in the process, but he doesn’t want to hurt anyone else. he’s sure that jimin and taehyung won’t turn out to be like the boys from his other singing group, but in the case that they do, he knows that having yoongi will be nice. he can at least help jeongguk find his backbone.

but jimin and taehyung don’t turn out to be different from what jeongguk expected. the next week when jeongguk comes back for his second practice, they bombard him immediately, asking him questions and wanting to hear his advice on some musical arrangement that jimin is apparently putting together. he wants to be a singer, too, like jeongguk, although he’s in school for dancing, so he doesn’t mind what he does as long as it’s in the spotlight. taehyung says he’s going to be a rocket scientist, and jeongguk isn’t entirely sure if he’s joking or not.

anyway—they’re nice. they’re like kids on the playground and jeongguk is the new kid, so they hog him from the rest of the group, wanting to sit by him and talk to him and learn about him. and they’re good singers, too, the three of their voices blending well. they praise him when he does well and give constructive criticism when he doesn’t. they’re interested in him as a person, making it clear that they want to be friends, and they don’t give him a reason to be worried about them down the road. jeongguk likes them. he likes them a lot.

after that second practice, they exchange numbers. “we live together, so if you text one of us, it’s kind of like texting the both of us,” explains taehyung. “oh! or we could be in a groupchat. please, i’m amazing at groupchat names.”

“sure,” says jeongguk, a little shyly, as they pull on their coats and head toward the door. and then, he takes a breath, tells himself to be brave—“would you guys ever mind hanging out outside of practice? we could do our own singing, or…”

“boba!” says jimin, hooking his arm through jeongguk’s as they head out of the door. “we should go for boba. i’d suggest we go for waffles, but taehyung here apparently thinks waffles are a scam.”

“how can waffles be a scam?” gasps jeongguk. “they’re like, my second favourite food in the whole world!”

taehyung clicks his tongue. “you don’t think it’s very suspicious tha—”

“jeongguk-ah?”

jeongguk comes to a halt, pulling jimin with him as he turns around at the sound of his name, jerked out his thoughts as he sees—yoongi standing outside of the door, hands shoved into the pockets of his coat. it almost takes a second for jeongguk to recognize him, as though yoongi is out of place here—but he is, a little, because even though he always drops jeongguk off, jeongguk always takes the bus back home. or in this case, jimin and taehyung offered to drive him home, and he was going to use it as an excuse to keep talking to them.

but yoongi is here. yoongi is shivering in the cold, just a little, hands shoved in his jacket as he watches them. jeongguk sees the moment that yoongi must put the pieces together that the two other boys with him are jimin and taehyung, sees the way that his jaw sets just a little—suspicious. jeongguk doesn’t even hesitate, just slips his am out of jimin’s grasp and pads over to yoongi, giving him a questioning glance before sticking his hand in yoongi’s pocket to thread their fingers together and turning to his new friends.

“this is yoongi-hyung,” he says with a grin. “my boyfriend.”

jimin raises an eyebrow. taehyung says, “he looks like an anime character.”

jeongguk grins, a little. “yoongi-hyung,” he says, nudging yoongi. “this is jimin-hyung and tae-hyung. i told you about them.”

“right,” says yoongi, eying the pair. “the singing hutterites.”

“yes!” exclaims taehyung. “the singing hutterites! so you think it’s a good idea, too?”

“that’s not—”

“are you a singer, too, yoongi-ssi? we could always use more people in our little colony. so far, it’s just me and jiminie and jeonggukkie, but it would only make sense that you join, too, since you’re gukkie’s boyfriend and i imagine he wouldn’t want to leave you anyway.” yoongi seems to bristle at the nicknames, hand slipping out of his pocket and instead immediately curling around jeongguk’s waist, tugging him closer, protective.

jeongguk blushes. “he used to be into underground rapping when he lived in daegu,” says jeongguk.

“no fucking way,” gasps taehyung. “i grew up in daegu, too! i bet i’ve heard of you before. what’s your rapper name?”

“it’s—” begins jeongguk only to be cut off by yoongi saying, “you probably haven’t heard of me. i didn’t put out a lot of stuff.” it’s short, curt. he clearly isn’t convinced that taehyung and jimin are worthy of being jeongguk’s friends, and as silly as it is that yoongi wants to vet them, jeongguk can’t help being endeared, as he is with most things yoongi does. and he knows it’s coming from a good place of concern and love, considering the last people who took an interest in jeongguk through a singing group.

“jimin-hyung and tae-hyung and i were just talking about hanging out,” says jeongguk carefully, watching yoongi’s expression. yoongi’s grip on him tightens just a little. “we were gonna get boba or waffles.”

not waffles,” says jimin.

“i think you just need to get waffles from the right place,” says jeongguk, turning back to the pair. “have you ever been to beansbins? that’s my favourite waffle place and they have really good ones. they even put ice cream on them.”

“taehyung’s lactose intolerant,” says jimin, patting taehyung’s arm. “it’s a sore spot.”

“oh,” says jeongguk. “that’s horrible. you’ve never had ice cream?”

please,” says taehyung. “being lactose intolerant doesn’t stop me from eating ice cream. it just gives me the shits after.”

“it’s disgusting,” says jimin. “i keep telling him not to fucking eat dairy products, but he’s all i have the power of god and anime on my side or whatever.”

jeongguk giggles at them as they get into an argument about taehyung eating ice cream—he can understand, at least, because he’s certainly still eat ice cream if he was lactose intolerant. and whipped cream. and cheese. he’s distracted from his thoughts of how much he loves dairy products when he feels yoongi lean toward him, nose brushing against his ear.

after a second, yoongi whispers, “they’re really fucking weird,” and jeongguk giggles.

“i told you,” he whispers back, “but a good weird. i like them.”

yoongi makes this weird growling noise in the back of his throat, pulling jeongguk in front of him and wrapping his arms around his stomach in a back hug. it’s the first time yoongi has ever been possessive of him—or just a little too protective and clingy and unsure. jeongguk pats his hand in time for jimin and taehyung to pay attention to him again with a, “how do you feel about pancakes?

“i love pancakes,” he grins.

“i don’t,” yoongi mutters into his shoulder. jeongguk pinches his hand.

“we should go for pancakes!” says taehyung with a nod. “i’m not suspicious of pancakes, and also they generally come with less dairy-related products so i don’t have to worry about jimin scowling at me the whole time.”

yoongi perks up with a, “wait, right now?”

“why not?” asks taehyung.

“it’s like… eight at night.”

“perfect time for pancakes, hyung,” says jeongguk. “traditional breakfast foods need not to be confined to a certain time of the day when it’s just food and we’re the ones who put all of these constructs of time and what is and isn’t allowed into place to begin with. there’s nothing inherently breakfast-y about pancakes.”

“you’ve lived with namjoon for too long.”

“are you gonna come with, yoongi-ssi?” asks jimin. vaguely, jeongguk thinks he’ll have to because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to let go of jeongguk anytime soon. “you wouldn’t have to get pancakes, i guess.”

jeongguk can tell that he’s debating it—whether or not he wants to spend time with jimin and taehyung, whom he’s clearly still suspicious of. but not spending time with them means letting jeongguk go on his own, and if he’s suspicious, it’s probably not a good idea to let jeongguk on his own. jeongguk just wants pancakes.

“alright, fine,” yoongi eventually sighs. “but i’m driving jeongguk.”

“he has a motorbike!” jeongguk beams.’

“that’s so cool,” mutters taehyung. “you’re like everything i ever wanted to be as a kid.” jeongguk grins, patting yoongi’s hand again. he’s sure jimin and taehyung will have won him over by the end of the night, and if not, jeongguk isn’t afraid to sit him down and have a very serious talk about letting jeongguk have friends.

they get pancakes. jeongguk and yoongi sit on the same side of the booth, finally having someone to sit on the other side, and jeongguk bounces in his seat as he orders what he wants—something with lots of peanut butter and chocolate, and black coffee, of course—and yoongi holds his hand under the table. jeongguk pats his knee, reminded yet again that jeongguk is the anomaly in his life; he doesn’t warm to people nearly as quickly as he did to jeongguk, doesn’t get so soft for strangers. he has to wonder what made him different.

“so yoongi-ssi,” says jimin once they get their pancakes, pointing a piece on his fork at yoongi. “what do you do?”

“i’m hoping to get into human resources in a hospital,” says yoongi. “i’m in the middle of applying for jobs, but it’s kind of a weird time of year, so hopefully something will come up soon.”

“you’re so cool,” says taehyung through a mouthful of pancakes—only fruit and syrup, per jimin’s nonverbal demand by glare and intense eyebrows.

“don’t be fooled,” says jeongguk. “he works at build-a-bear.”

yoongi elbows him. jeongguk grins, taking a bite of his pancakes before he continues, “and he looks really funny in his uniform, but that’s why i sometimes show up there randomly so i can laugh at him. and he wears a my little pony helmet when he bikes.”

“because you get upset when i don’t,” protests yoongi.

“but you still do it. that’s whipped culture, hyung.”

across the table, jimin mutters, “cute.” at the same time, taehyung says, “i wish someone would wear a my little pony helmet for me. the only date i’ve been on in the past two years was to the aquarium and he made fun of me for liking the jelly fish, so i ditched his ass.”

“wait,” says jeongguk as he swallows his food. “you two aren’t together?”

jimin and taehyung look at each other for a second before the two of them burst out laughing. “oh my god, no,” says jimin through his laughter, turning to look back at jeongguk. “us? never. that’s so funny.”

“you’re literally sitting on each other,” says yoongi.

so funny,” says taehyung rather than answering that, and jeongguk figures that’s just—how it’s going to be with them. he doesn’t mind, as long as they’re going to be friends with him, so he just shrugs and goes back to his pancakes.

“human resources is really cool, though,” says taehyung after he and jimin have calmed down, returning to their prior conversation. “i considered doing something like that myself, but i like science too much.”

“really?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk peeks at him out of the corner of his eye as he sees yoongi freeze, clearly confused by the fact that taehyung is interested in human resources—or maybe science. it’s not that something about taehyung doesn’t scream science, but jeongguk can tell that it’s not what he was expecting. at this point, it’s a bit like how jeongguk felt about yoongi at first—all of those expectations were thrown out of the window the more he learned about yoongi, and now that he’s seeing it happen when yoongi is learning about taehyung, and even jimin.

“yeah,” says taehyung with a grin. “i always thought it would be cool to be a hiring manager or something, dealing with people and figuring out who would be best for a job.”

“huh,” says yoongi, blinking a little slowly. “that’s what i’m interested in too.” jeongguk grins, more to himself than anything, at his pancakes—he’s not spoken much with yoongi about his degree because he doesn’t really understand it, and finds it a little boring even if it could listen to yoongi talk about anything. but taehyung starts talking about some sort of human resources thing and yoongi listens, and yoongi seems to shed his apprehension just a little as they sit there and eat their pancakes, jeongguk eventually poking jimin’s foot under the table and beginning a quiet conversation with him about the singing group.

it’s not quite the wild time that he was expecting, but he comes out of it realizing that there’s a serious side to jimin and taehyung, too, one that appeals more to yoongi’s sensibilities. when they bid goodbye at the door, having split the bill between them—even though yoongi tries to pay for the whole thing, claiming once again that he’s the hyung—jeongguk gives his new friends a wave as they head back to their car.

beside him, yoongi bumps his shoulder. “alright,” he admits. “so maybe they’re not so bad.”

jeongguk grins, turning to look at yoongi; he wants to tease, wants to tell yoongi that he should have trusted jeongguk in the first place, but he can see the way that yoongi’s cheeks are a little pink just from having to admit that he’s wrong, yoongi’s not the best at that—likes his pride. so jeongguk just reaches out for his hand, leaning over to press a kiss to yoongi’s cheek.

“i’m glad you think so,” he says. “you don’t have to worry about them being rude to me, i think. they’re good people.”

“i wasn’t going to stop you from being friends with them in the first place,” yoongi says. “i just can’t help being protective of you.”

“i know, hyung,” grins jeongguk, kissing him again. “but it’s okay now, right? i bet they’d like to hang out with you again sometime. you and taehyung can bond over screening tests or whatever. almost thought you were gonna nut talking about that.”

“that’s gross.”

“don’t lie. you’d totally get off to me telling you about all the ways you can screen a future employee. wanna talk about background checks?” he giggles as yoongi bumps his hip against jeongguk’s, turning around to walk away and to his bike. jeongguk can’t help continuing to tease in lieu of the other teasing he could do, calling out, “are you getting aroused, yoongi-hyung? does the word compensation turn you on?”

“i’m leaving you here,” calls yoongi as jeongguk chases after him.

compensation.

“let’s go back to talking about jimin and taehyung,” says yoongi as they get to his bike, turning around with slightly red cheeks. (jeongguk’s going to assume he was turned on by the word compensation.) he catches jeongguk’s hand, tugging him closer, and jeongguk goes, crowding into yoongi’s space.

he chews on his lip, eyes bright. “you really like them?”

“yeah, guk-ah,” says yoongi. “i really like them. they seem like really nice guys and i’m glad that they’re in the group with you. i bet this one will be the one.”

“i hope so,” says jeongguk. “i really, really hope so.”

jeongguk surveys the stuffed animals before him, pursing his lips as he tries to decide which one he wants. he already has august, so he doesn’t need another cat—and the cats they have to offer are a little ugly, anyway. there are cute dogs, though, and bears, of course. but he can’t decide which one to choose—there’s one that’s red with pink hearts, and one that’s white with red hearts. there’s one that’s just pink and purple in little swirls, almost like a fancy picture of space, not to mention the regular-coloured ones that just have cute “be mine” cushions attached to them.

for the fourth time in a minute, jeongguk lets out a sigh.

“i really don’t think this has to be so complicated,” says yoongi, squeezing jeongguk’s hand.

“that’s easy for you to say,” grumbles jeongguk, “since you work here and probably already know exactly what you would choose.”

“i do,” says yoongi, “work here, that is. and i work with these every day, so i know which ones are the best. why don’t i choose for you?”

jeongguk turns to look at him, pout on his lips. the first time they came to build-a-bear, it was remarkably easy to choose, but the special valentine’s day animals are throwing him through a loop. “what if you choose the wrong one?” he asks.

“i’m your boyfriend,” says yoongi. “you don’t trust me?”

it’s sweet, but—“no,” says jeongguk.

with a snort, yoongi swings their hands between them, tugging him down the wall a little. “how about you choose one for me, too, then?” he asks. “and we give them to each other as gifts. you know, for valentine’s day.”

“that’s so unoriginal, hyung. stuffed animals? let me guess, we’ll go to the chocolatier next and stop off at the balloon shop while we’re at it.”

“why not?” asks yoongi with a shrug; he looks remarkably soft today, and too happy for jeongguk’s liking—only because he’s currently in the middle of a crisis and yoongi doesn’t seem to understand how important that is. but it is valentine’s day, and although they didn’t plan anything major—they’re together almost every day already and jeongguk told yoongi not to do anything big or he’d probably cry from being overwhelmed—this is a special day. “i’ve never been with someone on valentine’s day,” yoongi adds. “sue me if i want to experience the classic things at least once.”

jeongguk rolls his eyes, but something giddy rises up in him anyway, knowing that he’s the only one yoongi has been with on the holiday; he knows that yoongi has had a few relationships in the past, although none of them lasted very long or meant very much. technically, this is the first time jeongguk has been with anyone on valentine’s day, too—because it’s the first time he’s been with anyone period. despite how much of his hopeless romantic he is, though, he can’t help his apprehensions.

“fine,” he finally relents. “but i want a bear.”

“that gives me two options,” says yoongi.

“less chance of you getting it wrong, then,” says jeongguk, and yoongi pokes him in the side, but maybe it doesn’t have to be so bad. in the end, yoongi does get him a bear—the white one with red hearts, and dresses it in a little cupid’s costume that the store sells, and makes sure to give its heart a big kiss before letting the employee sew it up. jeongguk decides that he gets it right. in return, jeongguk gets one of the bunnies for yoongi, mostly as an inside joke because of the first time they came, but also because the bunnies are cute. it has brown fur, and jeongguk dresses it in a pink sweater and jeans, because that’s what he was wearing the first time he and yoongi met. yoongi kisses its head when jeongguk hands it over, and that’s—enough to make his heart sing.

they do get chocolate after, although they can’t find balloons, so yoongi makes some out of paper when they get back to his apartment. it’s stupidly endearing and jeongguk can’t take the way that his heart leaps into his throat and stays there, wanting jeongguk to say things that he’s not ready to say, things he’s unsure of; they’ve only been together officially for almost two months. they’ve been friends for five. jeongguk can’t stop thinking about what it means to love someone.

later, after they’ve spent the afternoon together and gone out to dinner—at the waffle place, because no matter how hard yoongi tries, he can’t convince jeongguk to go somewhere fancier (partially because jeongguk doesn’t want to go somewhere fancier and partially because neither of them can really afford a fancy dinner, and if they go for waffles, they can sit on the same side of the booth and hold hands and jeongguk can steal yoongi’s whipped cream), and there’s a valentine’s deal, and jeongguk kisses yoongi in the middle of the restaurant and doesn’t feel insecure about it—they go to a drive-in theatre.

of course, yoongi doesn’t have a car, so they go in hoseok’s.

“make sure you get popcorn!” calls jeongguk to yoongi once he’s getting out of the car after they’ve parked among the other moviegoers, near the back of the pack so that they’re not too close. jeongguk’s never been to a drive-in before, but he doubts it’s much different from a real movie other than the fact that he can talk without worrying about other people telling him to shut up. also, he can cry—which is good, because they’re showing a double feature of love forecast and a moment to remember, so.

“i’m not putting butter on it, though,” says yoongi before he shuts the door, and jeongguk sticks his tongue out before he turns back to peer out at the massive screen looming at the front of the lot. he’s seen both of these movies plenty of times, but it’s more exciting this way—and he even brought his new bear to watch with them.

yoongi comes back just as the opening credits are beginning to roll on the first movie, piling back into the car with a bag of popcorn and two drinks. jeongguk beams, grabbing the popcorn and digging in immediately as he tugs yoongi into his seat by his coat, whispering for him to hurry up so he doesn’t miss the beginning of the movie. it’s all very exciting—

at first, anyway.

the thing is that hoseok’s radio is pretty shit. it’s always cut out sometimes when he just drives, and jeongguk didn’t think any of it until they’re watching the movie and the sound starts cutting out randomly, crackling, because the theatre can only broadcast the movie soundtrack over the radio. and as much as sitting there and watching a movie is great, it’s only great if they can hear it.

after the sound cuts out for the third time in five minutes, jeongguk lets out a huff, tapping the radio. “this is so annoying,” he grumbles. “what’s the point of watching if we can’t even hear it?” the rest of it is fun—he’s eaten half of the popcorn already and yoongi is holding his hand over the console of the car and it’s already gotten dark, so it’s just like in the movies when people go to drive-ins. except it’s not nearly as romantic and the sound keeps cutting out and he can’t help getting irritated because it’s ruining their fucking valentine’s date.

“it’s not that bad,” yoongi tells him. “you don’t have to get mad at it.”

“i can’t hear the movie!” protests jeongguk, throwing a kernel of popcorn at the radio as he sinks down in the seat. “hoseok-hyung has a shitty car.”

“hey,” says yoongi, squeezing his hand. “this car is timeless. he’s had it since high school.”

“that’s probably why the fucking radio doesn’t work,” jeongguk snaps, pulling his hand out of yoongi’s and hugging the popcorn to his chest instead, throwing a few kernels into his mouth. the sound comes back in, crackling a little, but it doesn’t matter because he’s already missed half of the conversation and catching the last half isn’t going to do anything.

beside him, he can tell that yoongi is staring at him. “guk-ah,” says yoongi quietly, and jeongguk frowns harder, twisting in his seat so his back is partially facing yoongi. he stuffs another handful of popcorn into his mouth, staring hard out of the windshield at the movie screen. he knows he’s being a brat, but now he’s in a bad mood and it’s always a little hard for him to get out of it once he’s in it.

yoongi is patient with him, though, and persistent. he reaches out for jeongguk, running a hand over his shoulder and to the back of his neck, squeezing gently. “jeongguk-ah,” he says again, softer this time. he rubs a thumb over the side of jeongguk’s neck like he knows jeongguk likes, right under his ear. “why are you so upset?”

“because i can’t hear the movie,” mutters jeongguk, trying not to give in as he eats another handful of popcorn.

“it sucks that we can’t hear the movie,” says yoongi, “but don’t you think you’re being a little irrational about it? you don’t have to get angry about it.” jeongguk tilts his head, finally, away from yoongi—giving him more room to rub at the back of jeongguk’s neck, fingers curling into his hair and tugging a little, just gently.

“s’just,” he says, sniffing, “valentine’s day and it’s supposed to be a romantic date and it’s not even—it’s not what i wanted. i dunno. it’s stupid.” he watches the screen as the sound cuts out again, although it doesn’t elicit the same angered reaction as the first time.

“it’s not stupid,” says yoongi quietly. “the date’s not ruined, though. you still have me. shouldn’t the two of us being together be the most important part of this? we have a much better love story than that anyway.” on the screen, the female lead is going on a bowling date with someone she shouldn’t be. jeongguk almost cracks a grin.

“at least we didn’t date other people,” he admits. “it’s a stupid movie anyway. i didn’t want to hear the soundtrack, because all they do is swear.”

he can practically hear yoongi grinning. “exactly,” he says. “who wants to watch that? i’d rather just sit here in my best friend’s old car surrounded by a bunch of other couples in their cars and eat popcorn and talk to my boyfriend.”

“pretty expensive conversation.”

“i’d pay ten million won to have a conversation with you.”

jeongguk turns his head finally, looking over at yoongi as he tries to stop himself from grinning. it’s one of the dumber things yoongi has said to him, but it’s still—cute. mostly because he knows it’s true, even if yoongi doesn’t have ten million won to spare on having a single conversation with someone. but yoongi is grinning at him, all soft and wanting, and it sucks that they can’t hear the movie, but maybe he has a point. it’s not like they have to sit there in silence and wait for the sound to come back.

so jeongguk sighs, twisting back around so he’s facing yoongi properly, turning his face into yoongi’s hand. “sorry, hyung,” he says. “i just wanted this to be really fun.”

“it can still be really fun,” says yoongi.

after a second, jeongguk narrows his eyes. “are you asking me to make out in hoseok-hyung’s car instead of watching the movie?”

yoongi smirks. “you’re the one who said it.”

jeongguk hesitates for a second, teeth catching on his bottom lip. it’s probably a terrible idea—they’re in public, technically, and there are other people in cars beside them. it’s dark save for the light from the screen, sure, and people will be watching the movie, but… but. it’s valentine’s day. they’re on a date.

yoongi cocks his head. jeongguk turns to peer out of the window at the car beside them, windows dark. then in one swift movement, he drops the mostly-empty bag of popcorn to the ground, turns around and fists his hand into yoongi’s shirt, tugging him over the console to kiss him.

they get it wrong at first—their teeth clack awkwardly, and jeongguk makes a hurt sound in the back of his throat, and yoongi laughs at him, at the eagerness, at all of it. and then yoongi reaches out for him, cups jeongguk’s face with his hands and tilts his head just so—and then it’s right. jeongguk kisses yoongi and yoongi kisses back, charged from the start as jeongguk opens his mouth and waits for yoongi to lick into it, awkwardly leaning over the console and the drinks that are still in the cup holder.

yoongi tastes like the butter of the popcorn, mostly, and the root beer he was drinking, a little. but like yoongi, too, because yoongi always tastes like something jeongguk can’t quite put his finger on—but he wants more of it, wants to make it his. he presses a little harder, sucking on yoongi’s tongue as yoongi lets out a little groan into his mouth, and jeongguk swallows it down down down.

he gets lost in it, feels it all going straight to his head; he likes kissing yoongi, could spend hours lazily losing himself like this. yoongi always takes care of him, always pays special attention to what he wants and needs—knows that despite how long it took them to get here, it has to be delicate. it’s still something new, even now, and as much as jeongguk wants to rush into everything, he tells himself to pull back.

still—yoongi pulls back a little, letting them breathe, and presses kisses to jeongguk’s cupid’s bow, the sides of his mouth, his moles. “kinda,” he begins, voice a little lower than usual, “uncomfortable.”

“i told you hoseok-hyung’s car sucks,” jeongguk mutters back, hand trailing up to yoongi’s neck as he searches for yoongi’s mouth again, wanting more. their lips click loudly in the silence of the car, the soundtrack of the movie long having cut out, and suddenly this isn’t enough; jeongguk tries to tug yoongi a little closer only for yoongi to pull away instead, muttering a curse.

“fucking console,” he mutters, and jeongguk takes a moment to breathe; even in the darkness, he can see that yoongi’s lips are swollen already, his face flushed. he’s focusing on the console, though, which can’t exactly move, which means—they have to move instead.

“slide your seat back,” breathes jeongguk, already pulling off his boots—mostly for ease than anything—and yoongi stares at him. “hyung, slide your seat back,” he repeats, hardly even waiting for yoongi to grab the latch beside the seat to do just that before he’s awkwardly clambering over the console. it doesn’t go as smoothly as he wanted—his foot gets caught and he almost faceplants into the window, but yoongi catches his arm at the last second, trying to pull him over, and that doesn’t go well either. jeongguk’s knee lands too close to yoongi’s groin, and jeongguk grunts with the effort before he finally manages to get over properly, knocking over one of the drinks in the process.

“fuck,” he breathes, suddenly out of breath as he lands in yoongi’s lap, straddling him and hunching over in the tight space. “they make it look so easy in the movies.”

“i dunno, that was pretty impressive,” says yoongi, holding onto his waist now—he must have been trying to help move jeongguk, but jeongguk hadn’t been paying attention. now he is, though, now he’s just focused on yoongi holding him and how they’re almost pressed chest to chest, trying to fit despite the car being too small for this.

he swallows tightly. “i think i spilled one of the drinks,” he whispers as yoongi rubs his thumbs over jeongguk’s hip bones through his sweater, leaning up to brush their lips together. “hyung’s gonna be really mad.”

“stop talking about hoseok when you’re in my lap,” says yoongi, and jeongguk grins just a little, finally having caught his breath enough. it’ll be in vain soon, but—he likes this better. he takes a moment, at first, to lift his hands to yoongi’s hair, playing with the strands of his fringe as yoongi just looks up at him and waits—because he’s waiting for jeongguk, waiting for him to give in, to do what he wants. that’s how all of this has been from the start; no matter how shy and hesitant jeongguk is, yoongi always waits.

so jeongguk just grins, drops his hands to yoongi’s face; he thumbs at the corners of yoongi’s eyes, traces over his cheekbones, tugs down on his bottom lip. it’s fucking uncomfortable and jeongguk’s limbs are too long for this, but—he doesn’t mind, not when it’s with yoongi.

finally, he dips down, nose bumping against yoongi’s, teasing. yoongi’s breath is hot against his lips.

“jeon jeongguk,” he whispers.

“min yoongi,” jeongguk whispers back.

he bumps their noses again. and then jeongguk finally, finally tilts his head and kisses yoongi. this time, it’s right from the start—jeongguk holds yoongi’s face as he kisses him, hot and hard from the beginning as yoongi licks along the seam of his mouth. it’s better like this than before—with nothing in between them as jeongguk shuffles a little closer, until they’re chest to chest, until he can wrap his arms around yoongi’s neck and kiss him harder, deeper. yoongi groans into his mouth, spurring him onward as his fingers curl into yoongi’s hair.

jeongguk forgets about yoongi’s hands on his waist until he feels them again—until yoongi slips his hands under jeongguk’s sweater and touches him properly, sending sparks down through jeongguk’s gut. yoongi’s hands are warm on him, just sneaking under his sweater and his thumbs rubbing into his skin, but it has jeongguk jolting, arching into him anyway. it’s just—they haven’t done much. they kiss a lot, and make out sometimes, but it’s always been a lot more chaste than not. yoongi may have seen jeongguk with his shirt off by accident once, but that was the only time.

he still gets shy when yoongi makes suggestive comments, even though he tries to make them back. and he still feels butterflies in his stomach when yoongi kisses him, even like this—and like this, with their bodies pressed together, jeongguk is suddenly well aware of everything they haven’t done. but he puts it out of his mind, choosing to focus on yoongi’s lips on him instead, a little rough and still soft at the same time, attentive, wanting.

jeongguk pulls back a little, pressing kisses to the corner of yoongi’s mouth and tugging harder on his hair, making yoongi groan again. he likes it—likes the sounds that yoongi makes as he kisses them out of yoongi’s mouth, makes them his own. yoongi’s hands press a little harder into his skin.

when jeongguk pulls away again, yoongi chases him, nips at his bottom lip, and jeongguk whines at the feeling of it; something sparks in his gut again, suddenly feeling too hot in his sweater and the cramped space of the car. he ignores it, instead letting yoongi kiss him, and then kiss just below his lips, and then kiss his chin, and then his jaw. jeongguk tilts his head up, letting out a stuttered, “f-fuck,” as yoongi drags his lips over jeongguk’s jaw and then down, down, kissing a line down his throat until he sucks into the side of his neck, kneading at his waist.

he makes a needy noise, something he’s never heard out of his own mouth, but he has to squeeze his eyes shut, fisting at yoongi’s hair. “hyung,” he breathes as yoongi licks over the spot on his neck, lips travelling back up and up, and jeongguk meets him halfway, kissing him again—“hyung.

“what?” breathes yoongi, as jeongguk grows hotter and hotter, feeling like they need to crack a fucking window or something—“what do you want, baby?”

there’s something different this time, he realizes. he’s sitting yoongi’s lap and yoongi is kissing him, is touching him, and jeongguk realizes, belatedly—he’s getting hard. the realization has him whining again, kisses turning sloppy as he tries to get more, more, trying not to move for fear of what might happen.

“jeongguk-ah,” yoongi mutters, voice half-wrecked as he leans back, clearly trying to talk, but jeongguk doesn’t want to; behind him, the radio sparks and crackles again, the soundtrack of the movie filling the car, and he uses it as an excuse not to say anything, just pressing against yoongi and kissing him again. the arousal mounts low in his gut, jeans growing too tight for comfort, and he kisses yoongi harder, like he can ignore it—but then yoongi’s hips move, just a little, just enough to give jeongguk friction, and he lets out a moan.

yoongi—pulls back, pushing on jeongguk’s waist, but it’s pushing him away and he doesn’t want that—“guk-ah,” begins yoongi, and jeongguk just shakes his head, grasping at yoongi’s shoulders as he connects their lips again, too hard; if he pays attention, he can feel yoongi growing hard underneath him, too.

experimentally, jeongguk grinds down. yoongi lets out a little gasp, throwing his head back against the headrest, and jeongguk whines again, at the friction, at how good it feels. but it’s still not enough, so he does it again, mouth pressed to yoongi’s in an open mouthed kiss.

“s’okay?” he breathes, trying to scoot even closer as he grinds down a third time. “hyung—hyung, s’okay?”

yoongi curls his arms around jeongguk properly, sliding one hand up his back and onto his neck. “yeah,” he breathes. “yeah, baby, s’good, you’re so good for hyung—”

jeongguk lets out another moan, dropping his head onto yoongi’s shoulder and hiding his face as he continues to grind down, feeling yoongi try to grind up against him in rhythm, and sparks curl up jeongguk’s spine as he does so, lips pressed against yoongi’s neck as yoongi cradles the back of his head. “fuck,” breathes jeongguk, needing more more more—he grinds down harder, cock twitching in the confines of his jeans, and feels yoongi turn his head, kiss the side of his face.

a particularly hard thrust upward from yoongi has jeongguk jerking in his lap, hand smacking against the window as he tries to keep his balance, and he tries to meet it with his grind downward, feeling something build and build inside of him. desperately, he lifts his head again, already hazy as he finds yoongi’s lips and kisses him hard, hard before he grinds down one last time and then—snaps.

jeongguk comes with a whimper against yoongi’s lips, hips stuttering to a halt as his toes curl through it, body going taunt for a second before he feels himself go slack, sagging against yoongi’s chest. immediately—it becomes apparent how disgusting it is to have come in his jeans. he breathes heavily against yoongi’s mouth, keeping his eyes closed when he realizes what he’s done.

after a second, yoongi asks, “did you just… come in your pants?”

the only appropriate response, jeongguk decides, is for him to hide his face in yoongi’s neck again, aware that it took far too little friction for him to let go like that. yoongi laughs, hand curling into the hair at the nape of his neck again, and jeongguk’s cheeks are red with exertion and embarrassment.

“i didn’t even touch you,” says yoongi. “are you that sensitive?”

jeongguk whines in lieu of answering, wishing that there was some way to get out of this without the teasing, but he shouldn’t have expected anything else. yoongi slips his other hand under jeongguk’s sweater at his back, rubbing along his spine. “my sensitive baby,” teases yoongi. “you’re so cute. have you always been like that?” jeongguk whines again. “guk-ah, really,” says yoongi, less teasing now. “how long do you usually last?”

jeongguk sniffs, and it’s—stupid. it’s stupid because it’s not yoongi’s fault, and jeongguk probably should have said something before, but he feels his eyes begin to fill with tears anyway. he makes a noise, some sort of protest, and shakes his head in yoongi’s neck, sniffing again, and—

“wait, are you crying?” asks yoongi, voice immediately filling with concern as he tries to manhandle jeongguk, pulling him out of yoongi’s neck and forcing jeongguk to sit up. he’s still uncomfortable, come drying in his jeans, but he just sits miserably and tries to stop his eyes from filling more with tears. it’s not how he imagined this going, but he can’t help it; he sees the worry on yoongi’s face, hands immediately cupping jeongguk’s face and thumbing over his cheeks. “baby, what’s wrong? i’m sorry, i shouldn’t have teased you.”

“no, s’just,” begins jeongguk, closing his eyes when he can’t look at yoongi anymore. “i’ve never—done that.”

a beat—“done what?”

“i m-mean, i’ve done stuff, but i don’t—i’ve never—” he feels discomfort curling up inside of him, not wanting to say it even though he knows he has to, and it’s not embarrassing, and he doesn’t really care, but yoongi has to know. jeongguk takes a breath, and then opens his eyes, vision blurring. “hyung, i’m a virgin.”

yoongi just—looks at him, and then his eyebrows smooth out. he looks relieved. “jeongguk-ah,” he says softly, and somehow that’s what breaks the dam on jeongguk’s emotions. the first tear spills over, hot on his skin, and yoongi catches it, wipes it again. “baby, that’s fine. that’s okay.”

“i know,” says jeongguk, even though he’s still crying—“i know, i just—i don’t know why i’m crying.”

“okay,” says yoongi, wiping at the tears that continue to spill from his eyes. “thank you for telling me. it doesn’t have to change anything.” jeongguk isn’t sure what he was expecting from yoongi—making a big deal out of it would probably make him feel worse, because it’s just a simple fact of his life. he’s never been with anyone, not like that; he messed around in high school a bit, mostly with girls and a few boys when he was trying to figure out his sexuality, but he’s never been in a relationship before. he’s never wanted to do anything before, and now he’s sitting in yoongi’s lap and there’s come drying his jeans, and he does want. he has to recognize that in his own heart.

jeongguk sniffs again, lifting a hand to wipe at his own eyes over yoongi’s hands. “sorry,” he whispers. “sorry, hyung, i—fucked up—”

“no, guk-ah,” says yoongi, tugging him down a little until their foreheads are resting together. “you did nothing wrong. i’m glad you told me. i’m not going to expect anything from you, okay?”

“but what if—” he sniffs again. “what if i want something?”

“that’s okay, too,” says yoongi. “but you don’t have to want something. we can go slow if you want. you just tell me what you want and hyung will do it, okay? i just want to take care of you. just want to make you happy, whatever that looks like.”

that’s even worse, somehow, than anything else yoongi could have said. jeongguk feels a fresh wave of tears, unsure why he feels so overwhelmed—maybe because it’s a good kind of overwhelmed. maybe because he’s been scared of relationships in the past, scared of opening up to someone and being taken advantage of, or coming up against a brick wall. he’s introverted and shy so he’s never wanted a relationship, not really, but the truth is that he’s hidden behind that shyness as an excuse not to try when the real reason he hasn’t tried is because he’s scared.

he’s scared of things going wrong, he’s scared of being hurt. maybe in a way he’s been scared of ending up with someone who won’t understand his boundaries, won’t understand that there are some things he has to work up to. he’s been scared of being with someone who found his virginity amusing or embarrassing or even something to brush off, like it doesn’t matter. because it does matter—it means that jeongguk doesn’t know what he’s doing, means that he might need to take things slow. means he wants someone who is going to take care of him.

like yoongi.

yoongi is going to take care of him—respect what he wants, what he doesn’t want. and it’s overwhelming to see that, to know that, after he’s spent years nervous about finding someone who isn’t at all like yoongi. he doesn’t know what he ever did to deserve this, to have someone who is going to listen to him and understand him.

finally, jeongguk whispers, “okay.”

and yoongi whispers back, “okay.”

he pulls back, just enough to be able to look yoongi in the eye as he tries to collect himself, stop himself from crying over something like this. “maybe, um,” he begins, wiping at his eyes again, “maybe in a little bit? i’ll be ready. but—not right now.”

“okay,” says yoongi with a nod. “that’s okay with me. i’m okay with whatever you want.”

“i just like kissing you,” whispers jeongguk. he can’t stop himself from wanting a little more sometimes, although now that they’ve officially broken this barrier, he can stop feeling bad about wanting it. about going for it, little by little until they work up to something more.

yoongi grins, using his sleeve to wipe at jeongguk’s wet cheeks now that he’s mostly finished crying. then he runs his fingers through jeongguk’s hair, wiping it off of his forehead. “i like kissing you, too,” he says. “i’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“you don’t think it’s—weird?” he asks, cheeks colouring.

“that you’re a virgin?” asks yoongi. “i don’t think it’s weird at all. you’re allowed to do or not do what you want. you’re allowed to not or not want what you want. it’s none of my business, but i’m glad you’re letting me in, and then maybe one day, we can do something about it. but only if you’re ready. i’m not going to pressure you into anything.”

jeongguk’s bottom lip juts out in a pout. “you’re really nice.”

“i like like you so much, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, tugging him down a little to press a gentle kiss to his lips. “and i’m very happy with whatever you want to do, even if it’s just eating waffles all the time and kissing. and not watching movies that we paid to watch so that we can get neck cramps instead.”

despite himself, jeongguk lets out a giggle; it really is uncomfortable and now his knees are killing him, so he’s not sure he could move even if he wanted to. he remembers suddenly, though, that he came—but yoongi didn’t. almost panicked, he pulls back, eyes wide. “hyung, do you—do you want me to, um—” he gestures vaguely downward, a little embarrassed to come right out and say it.

yoongi just laughs. “i’m okay,” he says, and when jeongguk frowns, says, “i mean—like. i don’t need anything. kind of went soft.”

“oh,” whispers jeongguk, blushing again. “sorry, that was my fault.”

“don’t worry about it,” says yoongi, grinning as he kisses jeongguk again. then—“do you wanna… watch the movie now or…”

“i kind of made a mess,” jeongguk says. “i would prefer to change out of these jeans as soon as possible, if you don’t mind.” yoongi snorts, but he doesn’t tease again—thankfully—instead giving him one last kiss before leaning back.

“we can probably just find this on netflix anyway,” he says. “and then we can make out in the safety of our own home without consoles and drinks and windows in the way.” jeongguk giggles again, knowing that will be much more comfortable if he can actually manage to get back over to the passenger seat so that yoongi can drive them home. but the promise of cuddling with yoongi on a real sofa and not spending more time in sticky clothes is enough.

at the end of february, timbre! performs to a small crowd in a small theatre as part of a fundraiser. despite having practiced for several months, jeongguk still feels nervous enough to almost make him sick—but he knows that he’s ready. they’re all ready, and besides, he doesn’t even have a solo in the show, so he’s not worried. jimin and taehyung spend the hour before calming his nerves, even though both of them have solos, so they should rightfully be more nervous.

but. jeongguk is excited, too. there are a few other acts as part of the benefit, and as some group of little girls doing covers of k-pop dances are on stage, he finds himself peeking toward the audience from the side of the stage, worrying at his bottom lip.

“guk-ah,” says taehyung, tugging on his sleeve. “c’mon, we’ve gotta do our pre-show ritual. there’s a lot of smacking lips for some reason.”

“hold on, i just—” jeongguk cranes his neck, not wanting to accidentally peek out of the curtain and be seen in the middle of the dance, but he can’t see

“he’s here, trust me,” says taehyung, tugging a little harder. “stop worrying about it.”

“i know he’s here,” whispers jeongguk, but the mention of yoongi has the nerves doubling inside of him. the thing is, yoongi has heard him sing plenty of times by now; sometimes he’ll call jeongguk just to ask him to sing, especially if yoongi can’t sleep for whatever reason. and jeongguk is always happy to sing for him, but this is different. this is a performance with other people, and it’s an even bigger milestone considering the trouble he’s had with singing groups in the past.

he cranes his neck a little more, eyes scanning the crowd until, finally—he spots yoongi’s familiar bright hair. his stomach swoops inside of him, some mix of fear and relief filling him knowing that yoongi is right there and will be watching him. but then he sees yoongi lean over to whoever is sitting beside him and—

“oh my god,” gasps jeongguk, snapping upright and turning to look at taehyung. “oh my god.”

“what?” asks taehyung. “jeongguk, seriously, they’ll kick both of our asses if we’re not—”

“they’re all there,” he whispers, panic filling him. “all of them.

“who is all of them?” whispers taehyung.

“my roommates. and yoongi-hyung’s roommate. they’re all in the audience!” taehyung doesn’t appear to understand the gravity of that, just shaking his head with wide eyes before he grabs jeongguk’s hand and finally drags him away from the curtains; jeongguk has no choice but to go with him this time, too busy being horrified at spotting not only yoongi, but also seokjin, namjoon, and hoseok in the audience.

“isn’t it nice that they’re supporting you?”

“this is so humiliating,” whispers jeongguk. “they didn’t say they were coming!”

“they better buy some of those damn cookies,” says taehyung, “that’s the point of this. now c’mon, i can hear chanting already.” jeongguk gives a miserable sigh, but there’s no time to think of how embarrassing it is for all of his hyungs to be watching him perform. he just won’t think about it. he’ll just focus on the spotlight so he’s blinded and can never see any of them ever again, because he just knows what kind of embarrassing reaction they’ll have. this is the exact thing he feared when hoseok became friends with seokjin and namjoon.

but it’s a whirlwind through the pre-show ritual—there is a lot of smacking lips, strangely enough—and a whirlwind through the actual performance. jeongguk forgets about his nerves the moment he steps on stage, mostly because he’s too focused on not messing up his notes. but once, he makes the mistake of looking out at the crowd and sees hoseok and seokjin trying to start the wave or something, and jeongguk decidedly does not look at them again.

it goes well, though. jeongguk is more of a background voice than anything, but the whole group sounds great. jimin and taehyung nail their solos. they get a standing ovation, again started by hoseok and seokjin, who won’t stop whistling and screaming, and jeongguk hurries off stage with red cheeks, both from the embarrassment and from the exhilaration of having performed on stage, even if it was a small one. if anything, other than realizing that he can never let his hyungs watch another performance, he realizes that this is what he wants to do.

after the whole show is done, giving jeongguk some time to calm down and prepare himself for the onslaught of embarrassing things to come, he, jimin, and taehyung are browsing some of the refreshment booths when he hears a loud call of, “jeon jeongguk!” he groans, recognizing the voice as seokjin’s immediately, and tries to hide behind jimin, but—jimin is too fucking short, no matter how small jeongguk tries to make himself.

“jeongguk!” he hears hoseok call, and he peeks out from behind jimin’s shoulder to see all four of his hyungs pushing through the crowd, seokjin and hoseok at the helm. “look at you! that’s my baby! all grown up!”

“please don’t,” groans jeongguk, but jimin and taehyung are laughing as they pull him out from behind jimin and shove him toward his friends.

“i honestly shed a fucking tear seeing you up there,” says seokjin, throwing his arms around jeongguk. “didn’t i, hoseok-ah? didn’t i fucking cry?”

“it’s true. he used my sweater to wipe the tear away,” says hoseok, prying jeongguk out of seokjin’s arms to hug him, too. “i said, look at him go! that’s our jeonggukkie! his voice could cure cancer alone, fuck the whole benefit.”

“please don’t say that,” mutters jeongguk.

“you’re an angel,” says hoseok. “and i will hear nothing else! they should have given you a solo, but i’ll allow it because these two other angels sounded so beautiful.” he lets go of jeongguk as suddenly as he wrapped him up, pushing him toward namjoon as he instead turns to jimin and taehyung with a, “hello, how do you two like your eggs cooked in the morning?”

once again, jeongguk realizes that it’s a terrible idea to let any of his friends meet any of his other friends without supervision, but he’s too interested in namjoon hugging him, too, giving him a tight squeeze. “you did really, really well, gukkie,” he says into jeongguk’s ear before pulling back. “i’m really proud of you.”

“thanks, hyung.” says jeongguk, blushing a little; namjoon and seokjin have been subject to hearing his ails about singing, trying to encourage him as best as they can. it means a lot to hear them praise him, even if he might prefer namjoon’s method more than seokjin screaming his name every time he so much as opened his mouth during the performance.

“that’s jimin and taehyung?” asks namjoon once he lets go, and jeongguk looks over to see the pair of them already laughing at something seokjin is telling them. “i should probably make sure hoseok and seokjin don’t make total fools of themselves. but you really did so good, jeongguk-ah. one step closer to world domination as the nation’s baby boy, right?”

jeongguk huffs, pushing namjoon toward the other four—at least someone can be a mediator. and then—there’s just one person left to congratulate him. somehow, all of the nerves from before the show come back as jeongguk turns to look at yoongi, who has been standing apart from the chaos for the most part. jeongguk feels shy again, like the first time he ever sang for yoongi, wanting to curl into a ball and escape all of it, but—

yoongi is grinning at him, that grin that is only for him. yoongi understands more than anyone what this means to him. so jeongguk clasps his hands in front of him, worrying at the inside of his cheek as he tries to look yoongi in the eye despite being shy and nervous.

after a second, he says, “hi, yoongi-hyung.”

yoongi’s grin widens and then he moves his hands from behind his back, and jeongguk sees that—he’s holding flowers. not professional ones, maybe, because there’s no wrapping or ribbon. it’s just a handful of flowers that he picked himself from somewhere, despite it being the end of february. there’s still some dirt clinging onto one of the flowers. but jeongguk looks at it, at how yoongi is holding them out to him, and he thinks—he’s never been so sure about anything in his life.

“hi, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “i, um—got you flowers. sorry, they’re kind of wilty.”

“it’s okay,” laughs jeongguk, stepping forward and carefully taking them out of yoongi’s hands—they do droop, just a little, but it’s not really about the flowers. he keeps his eyes trained on them rather than having to look at yoongi when he adds, “thank you. they’re perfect.”

“they’re right, you know,” says yoongi, and jeongguk knows he’s gotten closer only because he can see yoongi’s feet, toes almost knocking together. “you did really, really well. you looked so good up there, like you fit right in. and you sounded beautiful.”

“you couldn’t even hear me,” says jeongguk quietly, trying to hide the blush that rises quickly to his cheeks.

“i could hear only you,” yoongi says, “and you sounded beautiful. i’m really proud of you. for—going up there and doing that and being brave. my brave little one.” that makes jeongguk blush even harder, finally peeking up at yoongi to see yoongi close, closer—and grinning again, all proud and fond and. overwhelming. it’s overwhelming.

but the truth is that it’s not really about his singing. it’s about jeongguk actually getting up on stage and doing it himself, and doing it because he wants to, not because anyone forces him. as much as the compliments about his voice mean, it’s not about that. so he feels his lips curling into a grin right back to yoongi. and that’s enough; yoongi giggles, just a little, and dips leans forward to press a kiss to his cheek.

jeongguk enjoys the private moment—and it is just a moment, because as soon as yoongi pulls away from him, something hits the back of his head and jeongguk spins around to see a crumpled napkin fall to the ground behind him. his eyes move up, landing on the five still standing near the refreshments table, all looking in other directions, suspiciously.

jeongguk frowns. “just because all of you are sad and lonely doesn’t mean i can’t enjoy a nice moment with my boyfriend,” he says with a huff, grabbing the napkin from the floor and chucking it back.

it beans namjoon in the side of the head, who says, “i was the one not in favour of bothering you!”

“oh please,” says jimin, “you were the one who said, and i quote, look how disgusting they are. they’re like this in the safety of their own homes, so can they try to contain themselves while they’re in public?” namjoon’s cheeks flash red. jeongguk giggles into his hand.

“i’m assuming you’ve all become friends, then,” says jeongguk as he reaches behind him for yoongi’s hand, glad when they find each other immediately. “i can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.”

“definitely not a good thing,” says yoongi.

definitely not a good thing,” agrees seokjin. “but that’s exactly why it’s a good thing.”

“that makes no sense,” says namjoon.

“taehyung said we should all go out for dinner!” says jimin, beaming now as he addresses jeongguk. “and that’s definitely a good idea. and you can’t say no, because you’re basically the star of the show.”

“i didn’t even get a solo,” argues jeongguk, but the five of them are already leaving the table, filing past him and tugging he and yoongi along with them.

“not the star of that show,” says hoseok. “but you’re the reason all of us are hanging out anyway. you’re like, the glue of this group, jeongguk-ah.”

jeongguk groans, tugging yoongi alongside him so he can bury his face in yoongi’s shoulder. “i have made a grave mistake,” he says, and yoongi chuckles, kissing the top of his head. but he supposes, just like when he introduced hoseok to seokjin and namjoon, as long as he has yoongi with him, it’s not so bad.

and in the end—it’s not so bad, anyway. they go out to eat and squish into a booth that’s too small for them, jeongguk crammed into a corner beside yoongi, but. yoongi holds his hand under the table and jeongguk gets a front row seat to all of his friends coming together, laughing, talking. they order too much food and then argue about who has to pay. seokjin and jimin somehow end up in a drinking contest, even though the only alcohol the restaurant sells is adult milkshakes, which means they’re mostly just eating ice cream. taehyung, namjoon, and yoongi end up in some debate about labour unions or something, at which point jeongguk stops listening.

he just—watches, and listens, and sees. jimin and taehyung fit in with the group as though they’ve been there from the beginning, or like the other five of them were just waiting for them to show up. jeongguk allows himself to revel in it for a second, at how everything has turned out perfectly: he has good friends, and a boyfriend that he likes very, very much, and he’s learning how to be brave with his singing. there are much worse places he could be.

yoongi leans over to him, then, as the other jimin and taehyung begin a lively debate with the other three about the singing hutterite idea, and nudges his arm. “what are you smiling about?”

he hadn’t realized he’d been smiling, but jeongguk doesn’t bother to stop. “i’m just happy,” he says, taking a moment to watch the other five before he looks at yoongi.

“yeah?” asks yoongi. he doesn’t need an explanation.

so jeongguk just says, “yeah.” and yoongi squeezes his hand, and kisses his nose, and jeongguk feels a little happier because of that, too.

and make sure that he eats the stuff i left in the fridge,” hoseok says. “he doesn’t know how to cook for shit but i made a bunch of stuff so that he should be fine and not have to resort to ramen and stale water every day.

“yes, hobi-hyung, i’ll make sure he’s eating well,” says jeongguk, cradling his phone between his ear and shoulder as he holds out one of his sweaters, regards it, and then throws it in his bag. “although you know i can’t cook either.”

“i know. all you do is eat waffles.”

“waffles are good,” mumbles jeongguk, grabbing another sweater and adding it to the bag before he starts packing up some of his other supplies.

“and make sure he doesn’t stay up until like, four in the morning watching netflix.”

“i’m not his babysitter.”

“no, i am,” says hoseok. “but now i’m passing the gong onto you for a few days.”

“what could possibly go wrong in a few days?” asks jeongguk, tossing his phone charger into his bag, along with his wallet.

“please don’t say that,” sighs hoseok. “min yoongi’s law will get you.”

“isn’t it murphy’s law?”

“yeah, but this one is specifically for yoongi-hyung. his rebellious nature can sniff out any challenge that he comes across and then has to immediately prove you wrong.”

jeongguk snorts, zipping up his bag and then doing a once over of the room to make sure he hasn’t forgotten about anything. from within the apartment, there’s a knock at the front door. “okay, hobi-hyung, i’ll make sure that nothing goes wrong,” he says. “i have to go, hyung is here.”

“and don’t fuck on the couch!” hoseok calls.

“goodbye, hyung!” jeongguk hangs up before hoseok can make any other comments, slipping his phone into his pocket before he heads for the front door. he’s not sure that he has to worry so much about yoongi, but he can understand why hoseok wants to make sure that everything goes well. they’ve been best friends for ten years and have been roommates for four, which means he knows all of yoongi’s bad habits and tendencies, especially when hoseok isn’t around to watch him.

still—jeongguk isn’t worried. he opens the door after slipping on his shoes, grinning as he sees yoongi leaning against the doorframe.

“hello jeon jeongguk,” he says, “my favourite boy.”

“hello min yoongi,” grins jeongguk, stepping over the door to kiss yoongi, “my favourite birthday boy.”

“ugh, don’t say it like that,” says yoongi, pulling the door shut behind jeongguk and grabbing his bag. “i’m not a boy anymore, jeongguk-ah. i’m twenty-four.”

“not for another eight hours,” jeongguk reminds him. “don’t get ahead of yourself.” he can’t help giggling anyway, slipping his hand into yoongi’s as they head toward his bike.

“it’s my birthday weekend,” yoongi reminds him, “so i get to be twenty-four already. and we’re gonna celebrate the fuck out of it.” celebrating the fuck out of yoongi’s birthday, in true yoongi and jeongguk fashion, is—hanging out at yoongi’s apartment. they hang out there a few times a week already, but this time it’s special because they have the whole apartment to themselves; hoseok conveniently has a tour at a theatre school back in daegu, so he’s decided to stay with his parents for the weekend.

it’s both a bad thing and a good thing. he’d apologized profusely for missing yoongi’s birthday, promising to go on a bender once he got back. but he’s also leaving the apartment to yoongi and jeongguk, and that means they can spend all fucking weekend cuddling and watching anime and doing whatever they want.

and—of course jeongguk is well aware of what whatever they want might mean. it has something curling in his gut as he puts on his helmet and gets onto the back of yoongi’s motorbike. he knows that it’s the first time he’s going to stay over at yoongi’s apartment, the first time they’ll probably sleep in the same bed. and in light of their conversation on valentine’s day, he doesn’t know what will happen. all he does know is that—he and yoongi are going to be together. and he’s going to make sure that yoongi eats well, per hoseok’s request.

they do go out for dinner—not at the waffle place, unfortunately, but jeongguk relents since it’s yoongi’s birthday. (jeongguk orders tofu shaped like dinosaurs, even though it’s on the kid’s menu. it’s delicious.) they pile up on terrible snack foods that would have hoseok rolling his eyes at them, and then watch anime for several hours while cuddling. maybe it’s not the fancy sort of birthday that most people want, but for them—it’s perfect.

at midnight, jeongguk gives yoongi a kiss on the cheek and leaves him to keep watching the episode of avatar they’re on, padding into yoongi’s bedroom and digging through the bag he brought. seeing it there—seeing some part of him in yoongi’s life, in his room, has him nervous again, but he pushes it away, instead grabbing what he wanted and heading back into the living room. he stands in front of yoongi, hands held behind his back, and waits for yoongi to look up from his laptop.

when he does, it’s with furrowed brows. “what are you doing?” asks yoongi. “you’re gonna miss the good part.”

“it’s officially your birthday,” says jeongguk. “so, um—happy birthday, hyung.” he shoves what he’s holding toward yoongi, the gift that he’d found. he’d thought about it, tried to find something that he knows yoongi will like, or be happy with—and he knows yoongi, but he can’t help being nervous anyway, watching as yoongi closes the laptop and moves it off of his lap, sitting up and taking the present out of jeongguk’s hands.

“you didn’t have to get me anything, guk,” he says.

“yes, i did,” says jeongguk. “it’s your birthday. and you already buy a lot of stuff for me and do a lot, so um. it’s the least i could do.”

he watches as yoongi looks down at it; jeongguk hadn’t wrapped it, just putting a ribbon on it because he was kind of afraid of touching the gift more than he needed to. but he watches as yoongi undoes the ribbon, pulling it off and looking down at what he’s holding—they’re books. not just any books, but very special books that someone donated to the bookshop. when jeongguk had seen, he’d begged his boss to let him have them, knowing what it would mean—and knowing that they would be ridiculously expensive otherwise.

and now. jeongguk’s toes curl in his socks as he watches yoongi stare at the books, not really moving. after a second, jeongguk says, “um. they’re second edition pride and prejudice. someone donated it to the bookshop and i mean—you really love jane austen, so i thought it would be cool. they’re like, super old and everything, but—yeah. second edition.” he’s rambling a little, too nervous to stop talking, but he forces himself to stop as he watches yoongi.

who—still hasn’t moved. he’s just staring at the books in his hands, frozen on the sofa. when the silence stretches on for too long, the nerves becoming too much, jeongguk stoops down a little, trying to see yoongi’s face. “are you—is it not good?” he whispers. “i’m sorry, should i have—i had a different gift—”

“jeongguk-ah,” yoongi finally whispers, voice so quiet that jeongguk almost doesn’t hear it. it’s thick, and when yoongi looks up, jeongguk is surprised to see that his eyes are shining with tears.

“oh,” says jeongguk. “oh, i’m—this was bad, wasn’t it? sorry, i’ll give them—” he doesn’t finish before yoongi puts the books down beside him and reaches out for jeongguk instead, pulling him in by the belt loops so he can wrap his arms around jeongguk’s torso and hug him like that, his face pressed into jeongguk’s stomach. jeongguk—looks down, surprised, as yoongi holds him like that, just—holding. after a second, jeongguk carefully puts his hand on yoongi’s head, carding through his hair.

“s’not bad,” whispers yoongi eventually. “s’not bad, guk-ah.”

“okay,” whispers jeongguk, carefully moving his fingers through yoongi’s hair.

“thank you,” says yoongi.

jeongguk grins a little, bending over so he can press a kiss to the top of yoongi’s head, even if it’s a little awkward. “you’re welcome, hyung,” he says. “just want you to be happy.”

“i am,” says yoongi, finally looking up at him. there are still tears in his eyes, threatening to spill over, and jeongguk thumbs at the corners of his eyes, trying to wipe them away. “really, thank you. s’the best gift i’ve ever gotten.”

after a second, jeongguk adds, “there’s a second part, though.”

yoongi’s eyebrows furrow, dropping his arms from around jeongguk. and then jeongguk reaches over and grabs the ribbon on the sofa, quickly looping it around his head and tying a bow. “ta-da!” he says, opening his arms. “it’s me. i’m the gift.” it’s—lame, probably, but he doesn’t want yoongi to cry, even if it’s the good crying.

and yoongi just looks up at him for a second, like he’s caught between laughing or groaning, and then lets out a quiet giggle, wiping at his eyes before he tugging on jeongguk’s hand so he leans over again. “that’s even better than the books,” he says, and giggles again when jeongguk blushes at that, leaning up to give jeongguk a kiss. and then another—another, hands moving to hold jeongguk’s face, and jeongguk gets tired of leaning over and instead pushes yoongi back against the couch, crawling on top of him until he’s sitting in yoongi’s lap.

he thinks about it—thinks about how much he feels for yoongi, and how he does just want yoongi to be happy, whether that’s by finding him second editions of jane austen books or trying to pass himself off as the real gift or just being here. he’d do anything to make yoongi happy, he realizes. he’d do anything to see yoongi smile that that, with all of his gums and his eyes like little moons, all of the stars shining just for jeongguk. he’d do anything to keep it that way, and sometimes it scares him how much he wants it and how much pressure he feels because of it—but it’s this easy, he thinks. it’s this easy.

he just presses himself against yoongi and kisses him, yoongi’s thumbs rubbing over his cheekbones. he licks at yoongi’s mouth, drawing a contented sound from him, and he grins, and realizes how comfortable this feels—right here in yoongi’s lap, like he belongs there. it hasn’t been so long since all of this started, since they did this for the first time, but he wants and he wants so greatly. he’d been nervous about it when thinking about coming over to yoongi’s and having the apartment to themselves, but it’s just he and yoongi and all of these fucking feelings. and he just knows.

“guk-ah,” yoongi breathes against him, arching up just a little, and jeongguk swallows the word down, likes how yoongi says it like that—when he’s just a little out of breath and aching for something more. jeongguk hums in response, grinding down a little, and yoongi gasps into his mouth, and jeongguk likes it. likes it, wants more.

yoongi’s hands trail down his back, down down down until they come to his ass, and jeongguk lets out something akin to a squeak when yoongi touches him, encourages the tiny movements of his hips. he pulls back just a little, just enough to kiss at yoongi’s cupid’s bow instead, says, “want—” and then cuts himself off with a moan when yoongi grinds up again, and jeongguk feels the hardening outline of his cock.

“what?” breathes yoongi against his mouth. “what do you want, baby?”

and that’s—that’s the fucking question, isn’t it? jeongguk’s head feels hazy, can’t think properly anymore. they’re just kissing, but it always feels like more with yoongi, because it’s yoongi and yoongi always makes him feel more. jeongguk grinds down a little, feels hot and nervous and too much, suddenly; he thinks of being in hoseok’s car, cramped and hurried, and he doesn’t want that. wants more, wants something slower and better, because they have the time. they have the time.

he whines into yoongi’s mouth though, in lieu of having the words, in lieu of knowing—because jeongguk doesn’t know what he’s allowed to want. yoongi just kisses him, slower and softer this time, swivelling his hips upward to met jeongguk’s. jeongguk thinks, vaguely, that he should be the one asking what yoongi wants—it’s yoongi’s birthday, so jeongguk should be giving him something, but he can’t articulate it, not when yoongi is kissing him like that, running his hands up and until his sweater, lightly dragging his nails over jeongguk’s back.

it has jeongguk jolting forward, making an oh sound as he catches himself on yoongi’s shoulders. and—“yeah?” asks yoongi, doing it again, his hands all over jeongguk’s skin, and jeongguk nods.

“yeah,” he says, “yeah, hyung—” he makes an aborted whining sound again, desperately kissing yoongi to keep himself from doing something embarrassing. “touch me. want you to touch me.”

so yoongi does—his hands leave jeongguk’s skin, and jeongguk almost whines at the loss, because that’s not what he asked for, but it’s only so he can wrap his arms around jeongguk’s waist and move them, turning and making jeongguk flop against the couch, head almost on the head rest. jeongguk makes a surprised noise, says, “the books—” and yoongi laughs at him, at his concern. jeongguk’s cheeks colour even more than before, not just from arousal.

“the books are fine,” yoongi tells him, but he carefully places them on the floor anyway, and then returns to crawl between jeongguk’s legs, up and up his body until he can connect their lips again. “you’re cute.”

“hyung,” says jeongguk, then—“this ribbon is choking me.”

yoongi laughs again, but he has mercy and pulls it off of jeongguk’s head, tossing it aside as he plants a kiss on jeongguk’s forehead, his cheek, his chin. “does that count as unwrapping you?” he asks.

“why did you think i said i was your gift?” asks jeongguk, and he wishes, in some ways, that he could have just shown up naked with a bow on his dick and been done with it, but—but. they’re not quite there yet. they’ll have their six month anniversary in a while, and maybe jeongguk will be able to do it then. the idea alone has him blushing again, letting yoongi pepper kisses all over his face until jeongguk gets impatient and says, “gonna touch me or not?”

“needy,” grins yoongi, but he kisses jeongguk’s lips this time, hands already trailing down jeongguk’s sides. “it’s my birthday, so you should be the one giving me special treatment.”

“i got you jane austen,” huffs jeongguk, trying not to squirm as yoongi slips his hands under his sweater again, cold against the heat of jeongguk’s skin. he’s already sweating, cock beginning to ache in his jeans, and yoongi is teasing him.

yoongi hums against his lips. “and i appreciate it,” he says, “which is why i’m gonna give you what you want as a thank you.”

“fuck,” whispers jeongguk, arching up into yoongi—too far away, too far away—when yoongi’s hands wander and wander, smoothing over his stomach and then down over his waist, just holding for a second. “does that mean you’ll do this more often if i get you other presents?”

“you’re gonna run out of jane austen books to give me.”

“i bet you’d cry if i gave you first editions of any of the bronte sisters, too,” says jeongguk, and yoongi pinches his side but kisses him anyway, and jeongguk is going to take that as a challenge to find those books just for this. (and he could probably just ask, but yoongi is awfully enthusiastic right now, so.) jeongguk giggles, and then groans instead when yoongi nips at his bottom lip, fingers dancing underneath his waistband.

he asked for it, but it still makes the knot in his stomach tighten when yoongi ghosts his hand over jeongguk’s bulge, not giving any pressure the way he wants it, and jeongguk has to stop himself from bucking up into yoongi’s hand. yoongi notices—because yoongi always notices—and chuckles into his mouth, pressing a little harder, but not hard enough. jeongguk’s frustrated.

“hyung,” he says, all joking leaving his mind—“hyung, yoongi-hyung, please—” he moans a little when yoongi finally palms him properly, so much better than grinding, and he makes a desperate grab for yoongi’s face just to have something to hold onto.

“feel good?” yoongi murmurs, palming a little harder, and jeongguk—bucks up into it, unable to help himself.

“yeah,” he breathes, tilting his head back and letting yoongi nose into his jaw instead. “yeah, hy—fuck, more. more, please—” yoongi kisses the underside of his jaw, drags his teeth over the skin as he palms a little harder, a little more, and jeongguk could come from that alone, but—that’s what happened the first time and he doesn’t want that. he bucks up again, whispers, “please,” and hopes that yoongi might know what he’s talking about.

yoongi, by some miracle, does, and lets his hand trail back up to jeongguk’s waistband. “s’okay, baby?” he asks into jeongguk’s neck as he toys with it, with the button on jeongguk’s jeans. “can i touch?”

“yes,” jeongguk gasps. “yes, yeah, shit.” and yoongi does, deftly undoing the button of his jeans and pulling down the zipper in one go, trying to tug his jeans down a little.

“move your hips for me, bun,” yoongi whispers as he pulls his face back, letting his head rest against jeongguk’s shoulder, and jeongguk does, raising his hips so that yoongi can tug his jeans down and off of his hips, shoving them just down to his thighs. jeongguk lets his hips fall back again, squeezing his eyes shut as yoongi’s hands ghost over him again—over his cock, his thighs. yoongi tugs on his sweater, too, rucking it up enough to touch.

jeongguk whines again as yoongi pulls away from him entirely, hands smoothing over his stomach, his hips, his thighs. “so gorgeous, guk-ah,” yoongi whispers. “your body is insane.”

“hyung,” jeongguk says, flushing at the praise as he brings a hand to his mouth, sweater paw shoved past his teeth to have something to focus on, something to keep him from moaning loudly enough to be embarrassing. he has to remind himself that they’re alone, that he can, but he’s embarrassed anyway, feeling yoongi’s hands all over him except where he wants them.

yoongi leans over, pressing kisses to his stomach and lower, making jeongguk jolt again. he whines into his sweater, feeling lightheaded when yoongi’s breath ghosts over jeongguk’s cock and bypasses it completely. yoongi kisses at his thighs instead, spreading jeongguk’s legs a little more with his hands, and jeongguk—can’t handle it, entirely overwhelmed with the attention.

he finally lets out a needy sound, high-pitched in the back of his throat when yoongi spends too long sucking a hickey into the inside of his thigh. “hyung,” he mumbles through the fabric of his sweater. “please—touch me, pl-please.

“okay, baby,” says yoongi rather than teasing—and jeongguk’s not sure he could handle teasing anyway—instead licking over the spot on jeongguk’s thigh before he sits up a little. his hands toy with jeongguk’s waistband again, snapping it, and then says, “open your eyes for me, bun.”

jeongguk does, having to blink a few times to get his vision to stop blurring, seeing yoongi hovering over him with his own hair a mess and lips swollen. “i need you to tell me if you like it,” says yoongi. “need you to tell me if you don’t, okay? can you do that for hyung? can you tell him what you want?” gingerly, jeongguk nods his head, feeling too small and too big at the same time, knowing that yoongi is paying that much attention to him—not even bothering to think about his own needs, just wanting to make it feel good for jeongguk.

“do you want me to touch you?” yoongi asks, and jeongguk nods, even though he’s asked before—but yoongi finally tugs his underwear down and jeongguk lets out a gasp when his hard cock is finally exposed, springing back up against his stomach, and he keeps his eyes trained somewhere else, not wanting to see how desperate and hard he is just from a little attention from yoongi.

yoongi—touches him, finally, wrapping his hand around jeongguk’s cock, and jeongguk can’t stop himself from moaning, back already arching off of the sofa. yoongi’s hand is so big, and jeongguk knows that his cock isn’t big to begin with, but it feels small in yoongi’s grasp, makes the rest of him feel small, and he didn’t think he’d like, but—but. he moans again as yoongi moves his hand, just lightly, just gently.

“so pretty, guk-ah,” whispers yoongi. “your cock is so pretty, just like the rest of you.”

“hyung,” jeongguk whispers. “stop.

“stop touching you?” asks yoongi, hand immediately leaving his cock, and jeongguk almost lets out a cry, bucking his hips up at the loss of contact.

“no, no,” he says. “stop—saying things.”

“but i want you to know,” says yoongi, wrapping his hand around jeongguk again, and jeongguk can’t stop himself from fucking up into it, needing more. it’s the first time yoongi has seen his cock, has touched it, and it’s going right to jeongguk’s head. it’s strange—this is hardly the first handjob he’s ever gotten, but it’s different when it’s yoongi and he likes yoongi so much. yoongi tightens his grip, twisting a little on the upstroke and then paying special attention to the head of jeongguk’s cock and jeongguk moans again, louder this time, biting down hard on his sweater. it’s already wet where he’s drooling, but he can’t be bothered to care about it, too busy trying not to come from yoongi touching his cock for a few seconds.

carefully, yoongi leans over him again—still stroking his cock, just slowly, without real direction—and uses his free hand to pull jeongguk’s arm away from his face. jeongguk feels like he’s going to burst at the seams, whimpering when yoongi kisses him; it feels like it’s been too long, desperately kissing yoongi back and wanting more, needing more—

“feel good, baby?” yoongi asks when he pulls back a little, and jeongguk nods, grinding up into yoongi’s hand when he wants more friction, and yoongi tightens his hold a little, giving him more pressure. it feels more than good, feels like it’s more than just yoongi giving him a handjob, and maybe it does mean more.

maybe jeongguk can’t help himself from searching for yoongi’s lips again, kissing him hard before he whispers, “more?” like he’s afraid that yoongi won’t give it to him—but yoongi doesn’t know how to say no to him, especially now. yoongi kisses him once, twice, asks, “do you want my mouth?” and jeongguk almost comes on the spot, pre-come spurting out of his cock as he groans, nodding his head.

it’s not the first blowjob he’s had, either. most of the other ones were shitty, sure, but when yoongi gives him one last kiss on the lips and instead shuffles down his body and kisses the head of jeongguk’s cock, jeongguk—blossoms, blossoms, blooms.

yoongi is gentle about it, slow, must know that jeongguk couldn’t handle much more. he takes jeongguk’s cock into his mouth, just the head at first, and sucks at it gently—gives it kitten licks, kisses it, then kisses down the shaft until he gets to the base and back up again. jeongguk goes hazy, forgets to pay attention—too busy staring at the ceiling rather than looking down and seeing yoongi between his legs, pretty head bobbing as he takes jeongguk into his mouth properly. he has to bite at his sweater again, moans high-pitched and whining as yoongi sucks at his cock, tightening his mouth on the upstroke.

jeongguk thinks he should say something, maybe—tell yoongi that he likes it, that it feels good—but he can’t. he feels the tightening in his stomach too quickly, doesn’t know how to tell yoongi to pause maybe, to make it last longer, and does he want it to last longer, but yoongi just hums around his cock, the vibrations going straight up jeongguk’s spine.

desperately, he reaches out for yoongi’s head and accidentally punches him, weakly, and it would be funny if he wasn’t about to come, trying to keep his hips from bucking up into yoongi’s mouth. “f-fuck,” he breathes, finally, around the sweater—“hyung—fuck, i’m gonna—gonna—” yoongi pulls off, thankfully, licking up the side of his cock as he does, and jeongguk dares to glance downward.

it’s a bad idea—yoongi is looking up at him, lips pressed to the head of jeongguk’s cock, and his lips are slick with spit, red and swollen, and jeongguk’s toes curl, only able to warn yoongi with another, “gonna—” before he comes, throwing his head back against the headrest of the sofa with a loud moan. he’s vaguely aware of yoongi stroking him through it, hopefully having moved his head, because jeongguk is going to feel terrible if he came on yoongi’s face, but he doesn’t have the capacity to worry about it as his body finally goes slack, blinking up at the ceiling.

it takes only a second for yoongi to crawl up his body again, letting go of jeongguk’s cock in favour of tugging his hand away from his face for the second time. he presses a kiss to jeongguk’s chin, to his bottom lip, says, “good?”

jeongguk groans. “yeah,” he says eventually. “hyung—”

“did good, baby,” whispers yoongi, kissing him on the mouth finally. “thank you for the gift.”

something about it doesn’t seem right—and then he thinks that yoongi didn’t come, and the first time they tried something like this, he didn’t get to either, and that’s not fair. he makes a protesting sound, then, lifting his head before he says, “i wanna—wanna—you.” yoongi laughs at him, kisses him again.

“i can do it,” he says, and jeongguk shakes his head.

“wanna touch you,” he says, even though he’s too spent to do much more than flop his hand around until he finds yoongi’s button. yoongi ends up doing most of the work for him—undoes his button and zipper, pulling his cock out, and practically wrapping jeongguk’s hand around it. and jeongguk groans, lifting his head to look between their bodies and see it; he wishes his head wasn’t so heavy, so hazy, or he’d appreciate it more. he’d appreciate everything about yoongi the way yoongi appreciates everything about jeongguk, but he can’t right now.

instead, he wraps his hand around yoongi’s cock properly and begins stroking it, feeling yoongi stuff his face in jeongguk’s neck as he moans. jeongguk doesn’t know how yoongi likes it—tight and fast, or slow and lazy, but he’s sure he’ll learn. he’ll learn and be good for yoongi the way he deserves, especially on his birthday. but yoongi’s cock is already leaking precome and he uses it to make the slide easier, fisting yoongi’s cock the way jeongguk likes it in lieu of knowing the best way to do it.

he turns his face, pressing a kiss to the side of yoongi’s head as yoongi moans into his neck, hands grappling at jeongguk’s waist to have something to hold onto. his cock is heavy in jeongguk’s hand and jeongguk strokes faster, faster, wanting to hear how yoongi sounds when he falls apart, when he falls apart because of jeongguk.

“shit,” yoongi breathes into his neck. “fuck, guk—”

“does it feel good?” breathes jeongguk, wanting to get it right. “am i making you feel good, hyung?”

“yeah,” whispers yoongi. “yeah, make me feel so good, baby.” his voice catches on the last word, pitching up into a moan, and jeongguk wants to hear it again, again—he thumbs at the head of yoongi’s cock, likes the way yoongi gasps into his neck when he does, and then moves his hand faster, faster, wanting to bring him to the edge.

yoongi’s breath hitches again, thumbs digging into jeongguk’s hips so hard that it almost hurts, but jeongguk takes it as encouragement, pumping once, twice more before yoongi lets out a low groan into his neck and comes into his hand.

for a while after, they just—stay like that, catching their breaths. jeongguk presses another kiss to the side of yoongi’s head, and then another and another until yoongi moves, lifting his face until they can kiss properly. it’s lazy, hot, and jeongguk is sweaty and sticky. his own come has dried on his stomach, and now he has yoongi’s adding to it, and they’ll have to move and clean up and get into bed, but—for now, he likes this. this after part, where yoongi is pliant and holding him, kissing him like there’s no hurry in the world, not anymore.

eventually, they do get up and clean themselves up and get into bed. jeongguk realizes, by the time they’re under the covers and jeongguk is hooking his ankle around yoongi’s, that he was so nervous about this part earlier—nervous about how he would act, about how it would all come about. but there’s nothing to be nervous about, because it’s yoongi. and yoongi always makes him feel good, whether it’s by touching him or hugging him or rolling over with a lazy grin and asking, “you wanna be big spoon or little spoon?”

jeongguk giggles. “i don’t really care,” he admits almost shyly—and how he can shy about cuddling after yoongi just sucked him off, he’s not sure. but he’s always been a mystery, even to himself.

yoongi huffs, shuffling over so he can kiss jeongguk’s nose. “hoseok always makes me be the big spoon when we cuddle,” he says, and jeongguk tries not to feel jealous that hoseok has definitely been cuddling yoongi for ten years.

“does that mean you want to be the little spoon for once?” asks jeongguk with a grin. “it fits. since you’re so little.”

“i am not little,” protests yoongi, kicking jeongguk’s shin under the covers, and jeongguk can’t help laughing, kicking him back and rolling until he can flop on top of yoongi, smothering him into the bed.

“don’t worry, hyung,” he giggles, wrapping his arms around yoongi. “i’ll be your big spoon.”

“you’re still my little one, though,” mumbles yoongi from under him, poking jeongguk in the side.

“remember what i said about duality?” says jeongguk, giggling before he plants a kiss on yoongi’s forehead and then rolls off of him. but he really doesn’t mind—he does like holding something when he sleeps, and what better thing to hold than his own boyfriend? so he reaches out for yoongi’s arm, tugging him until yoongi comes willingly, scooting under his back is pressed into jeongguk’s chest, and jeongguk throws an arm over him, pressing a kiss behind his ear. “happy birthday, hyung,” he says.

“out of all of my birthdays,” says yoongi, “this is probably… top five.”

“top five?” jeongguk gasps. “i gave you a second edition pride and prejudice and a handjob! and i’m letting you be the little spoon!”

“how do you know i haven’t already had that on a bir—”

jeongguk bites his neck, and yoongi shrieks, rolling to get away from him, and jeongguk follows, and they get into a strange wrestling match that ends only when jeongguk has flopped on top of yoongi again, and they laugh and jeongguk kisses him, and. and, yeah. jeongguk realizes he really didn’t have anything to worry about, not with yoongi. never with yoongi.

in the morning, jeongguk wakes up first. it’s slow, groggy—he always has trouble waking up, and he’s aware, first, of the light filtering behind his eyelids. he blinks them open once, twice—stares up at the ceiling. his mouth feels a little dry.

he turns his head, intending to roll over only to find that he can’t because there’s something heavy on his arm, pinning it down to the bed, and he blinks down to see—yoongi. somehow he ended up turning over in the night and he’s currently lying on top of jeongguk’s arm, face pressed into his chest.

jeongguk blinks, and then blinks again. tries to decide if this is some dream despite the fact that he knows they fell asleep in the same bed last night, but—it’s weird. it’s different, and new, and he can’t stop the way his heart immediately moves into full bloom, just at the sight. he can count all of yoongi’s eyelashes.

he just stares for a while, watching yoongi sleep against him, and he thinks—he’s so lucky. thinks—he wouldn’t mind this happening every day, wouldn’t mind having this turn into his life, and that’s. a lot to think. he and yoongi have been dating for less than three months, but it’s what he’s thinking and he can’t stop it, can’t stop his heart from thudding harder and harder in his chest despite the sort of calm that spreads over him when yoongi gives a weird snuffling sound and turns further into jeongguk’s chest, cold nose pressed to where jeongguk’s shirt dips down over his collarbone.

but—yeah, he thinks. he wouldn’t mind it.

jeongguk falls asleep at some point, cuddling closer to yoongi, and wakes up an hour later after yoongi has woken up, too—and it makes his heart clench again when he opens his eyes and sees yoongi lying next to him, head propped in his hand as he watches jeongguk. he just looks for a long second, the soft grin on yoongi’s lips making something curl inside of him.

then he says, “watching me sleep is creepy.”

“did you know you sleep talk?” yoongi replies.

“i do not,” protests jeongguk, throwing an arm over his face. “that’s so embarrassing.”

“you do,” says yoongi, dipping down to press a kiss to jeongguk’s forehead. “it’s okay, you only said you wanted to marry me and have a million dogs and give me handjobs on all of my birthdays.”

jeongguk giggles, although his face is red again, trying to roll away from yoongi despite the onslaught of kisses yoongi is trying to give—“i definitely didn’t say that,” he protests. “i’m a cat person!” he gives up fighting yoongi after a while, too sleepy and lazy for it, and just flops against the bed, letting yoongi kiss his cheek again.

“good morning jeon jeongguk,” he says, and jeongguk has to hide his face to keep himself from smiling like an idiot at how it sounds—“who has very cute bedhead.”

“hyung, stop,” he groans, and yoongi giggles at him.

“you’re supposed to say it back, jeongguk,” he says. “you’re ruining our tradition.”

“i’m starting a new tradition.”

“and what is that?”

“you not being embarrassing every time you see me,” says jeongguk, but he’s light, happy—he wants to wake up next to yoongi for the rest of his fucking life. maybe he really had been sleep talking about marrying him and getting a million dogs. he’s at least going to bed the handjob part was made up, though.

yoongi just kisses his cheek again, scraping his teeth over the skin. “i’m starting a new tradition, too,” he says, and jeongguk is already groaning before yoongi pries his hands away from his face and peers down at him with a shit-eating grin. “it’s called saying good morning to all of your cute little moles.”

hyung,” protests jeongguk, but yoongi is already turning his face to press a kiss to the mole on the side of his face with a, “good morning,” and then to the mole under his bottom lip with a, “good morning to you, too,” and then shuffling down his body to kiss the mole on his neck with a, “and also good morning to you,” and jeongguk can’t stop giggling, embarrassed as he tries to push yoongi away from him because that’s more than enough. but yoongi keeps going—with the mole on the bridge of his nose and near his nostril, even though that’s kind of gross, and the others on his cheeks, and even the one on his ear.

and then yoongi keeps fucking going, kneeling and grabbing the end of jeongguk’s shirt before pulling it up. “hyung!” squeaks jeongguk, trying to push his shirt down even as yoongi sticks his face under it, saying, “hello, good morning, is anyone under here?” jeongguk laughs and laughs as yoongi goes, “oh, yes, hello,” and starts kissing the moles on his chest, and then his stomach with a good morning to each of them.

his stomach hurts by the time yoongi gets lower, hands reaching for jeongguk’s waistband, and then he physically shoves yoongi off of him, shrieking, “i don’t have a mole on my dick!”

and yoongi giggles, pulling jeongguk with him as he says, “i didn’t get that good of a look last night; there might be a mole,” and jeongguk kisses him just to shut up him, just to give his mouth something else to do, and it’s awful and yoongi keeps laughing at him, and jeongguk can’t stop thinking of the word love.

it’s not often that jeongguk has bad days. he always tries to be optimistic about things, being grateful for everything he has even when something doesn’t go right. he’s learned, at least from the hardships of moving to seoul on his own and dealing with people who aren’t keen on him succeeding, how to deal with some things, how to be mature. but—it’s been a long, hard week. his boss is trying to start some sort of reading program for children in the area and has designated jeongguk as the main coordinator because of his hard work since he was hired, but it’s hard and frustrating and stressful. things aren’t going well with the planning process. his parents called the other day and told him that they wouldn’t be able to come up to seoul in a few weeks like they’d been planning, because of his father’s work. he hasn’t been able to spend time with yoongi other than yoongi dropping him off at work, and it’s not enough.

so—jeongguk is feeling strangely irritable, and tired, and stressed out. but it’s friday, and yoongi is staying over for the weekend, and all they’re going to do is veg the fuck out, so. so. it should be good. when he gets off of the bus and walks the few blocks to his house, jeongguk takes the time to just breathe and feel the stress of the week melting away. his problems aren’t going to go away in a few days, but at least he can take a few days to step back and just try to relax, no matter how high strung he’s feeling at the moment.

once he gets closer to the apartment, he spots not only yoongi’s motorcycle parked on the street but hoseok’s car, too, and jeongguk feels just a hint of relief at knowing yoongi is already there, and (almost) all of his hyungs, for that matter. he can just make them cuddle pile him in the middle of the living room under he feels better. it’s with a slight hop in his step, then, that jeongguk makes his way to the apartment, letting himself in and hearing the sounds of namjoon, seokjin, hoseok, and yoongi talking in the living room.

jeongguk toes off his shoes, tossing his backpack down the hallway toward his room before he pads into the living room. they appear to be playing a board game—not one that jeongguk has ever seen before, so it’s probably hoseok and yoongi’s—with all four of them on the floor, crowded around the board. seokjin is currently yelling something about cheating, hoseok’s rapidly rifling through the rule sheet, and yoongi is muttering about capitalism.

jeongguk just watches them for a moment, grinning at their antics; sometimes he still regrets introducing hoseok to his roommates, usually when they find ways to tease him relentlessly, but in the end he’s glad that these two worlds have come together. with jimin and taehyung, although they’re not all able to hang out together all the time, jeongguk feels—complete. feels like this is how it’s supposed to be, finally.

it’s sappy, sure, but he’s had a long week, and he wants to find the silver lining, and this is it: when he comes home after a long day, he gets to come home to this.

namjoon spots him, says over seokjin’s ranting and hoseok trying to explain the rules: “hey, jeongguk-ah. did you have a good day at work?”

he takes it as an invitation, moving into the room with a little shrug. “it was okay,” he says, and although seokjin and hoseok don’t even acknowledge his presence, yoongi turns over his shoulder to give him a grin.

“hello, little one,” he says, and that’s enough for jeongguk to forget entirely all of the stress of the week—just seeing yoongi is enough, can put him in a better mood. he moves across the living room until he’s standing behind yoongi, then, and yoongi tips his head back to look up at him.

“hi, hyung,” says jeongguk quietly, bending over to give him a kiss, and then—he stops when their lips are nearly touching, yoongi leaning back against his legs. jeongguk opens his eyes, and pulls back just a little so he can see yoongi’s face properly, see his eyes. he sniffs.

and then he asks, “were you smoking?” for a long time when they first met, yoongi always smelled vaguely of smoke—it clung to his clothes, to his skin. hoseok wouldn’t let him smoke inside the apartment so that was at least safe, but everything else wasn’t. he and jeongguk have talked about it, and talked about it a lot, and he knows that yoongi is trying to quit. but they have rules—because jeongguk not only hates the idea of yoongi smoking, but hates the smell of it, doesn’t want to deal with it.

yoongi isn’t supposed to smoke when he’s going to see jeongguk, and he’s definitely not supposed to smoke when he’s going to come over to jeongguk’s apartment, because then it’s not just jeongguk but seokjin and namjoon who have to deal with it.

but. he smells like smoke.

yoongi opens his eyes, and looks at him. hoseok and seokjin finally stop arguing. jeongguk thinks—normally, this might be fine. normally, he might just ask if yoongi has been working on stopping, or if he’s been stressed, or if something is wrong. but jeongguk has had a bad week and all he wants is to cuddle with his boyfriend but now he can’t because his fucking boyfriend smells like smoke.

“jeongguk,” begins yoongi, and straightens up, frowning.

“were you?” he demands. “hyung, were you smoking today?”

“jeongguk-ah—”

“don’t jeongguk-ah me,” he snaps. “we made a fucking rule about this! you told me you were trying to quit.

“i am.

“then why the fuck do you smell like smoke, huh?”

“jesus, guk, it’s not that easy.”

“yeah, i know,” growls jeongguk, stepping away from him and crossing his arms over his chest. “i know it’s not that easy, but it’s been months and it doesn’t even look like you’re trying. i know you’re addicted or whatever, and whose fault is that?” he looks up to hoseok, frowning at him. “yours? you knew him when he was a teenager; why the fuck didn’t you stop him from smoking?”

“what the fuck did i do?” mutters hoseok, staring at him. they’re all staring at him—it’s not often that jeongguk gets angry, or has an outburst, but he’s tired.

“jeongguk, please calm down,” says yoongi, getting off of the floor now and facing him, reaching out like he wants to touch or maybe like he’s dealing with a wild animal.

“no!” snaps jeongguk. “i’ve told you countless times that i don’t like you smoking! and how am i supposed to be around when you smell like that and taste like it?”

“it wasn’t even from—”

“today?” asks jeongguk. “it wasn’t from today? bullshit, where are they?”

yoongi stares at him. “where are what?”

“your cigarettes,” snaps jeongguk, and then stalks forward, sticking his hands in the pocket of yoongi’s hoodie as he searches for them.

yoongi jerks back, but jeongguk pursues him, smacking at his jeans pockets. “what are you doing?” asks yoongi, pushing his hands away, and jeongguk just spins already, marching off toward his room. there’s a moment where he thinks yoongi isn’t going to follow him, and he hears someone murmuring, “what the fuck is going on?” before there are footsteps after him.

“jeongguk,” yoongi says, pleading, trying to catch his arm, but jeongguk shoves him off and gets into his room, spotting yoongi’s bad on the bed. he grabs it, opening it and rifling through it as he searches. “jeongguk, what are you doing?”

maybe he’s being irrational, but jeongguk doesn’t really care—not when his hand closes around a little cardboard container and he pulls it out, staring down at the cigarette pack yoongi had stashed in his bag. for a second—jeongguk just stares at them, and yoongi stares at him.

and then jeongguk asks, “are you fucking kidding me?”

“i wasn’t going to smoke them,” whispers yoongi.

“you brought these into my fucking house,” says jeongguk, “when i’ve told you several times how much i hate smoking and don’t want you doing it around me.” it’s not a question—it’s a statement, because that’s exactly what yoongi has done. he packed an overnight bag and chose to put the cigarettes in. the pack is open, too, and jeongguk just glares at yoongi before he reaches out and pulls one out.

“okay,” he says. “fine, if you wanna keep smoking around me, then why don’t i just join you?” he sees the panic flash in yoongi’s eyes before he turns around again and stalks out of his bedroom, running into the kitchen in search of a lighter. yoongi runs after him, footsteps thundering behind him as he calls out jeongguk’s name, tries to stop him, but jeongguk is too busy opening up drawers, trying to find a fucking match with the unlit cigarette stuck in his mouth—

finally, yoongi physically grabs onto him, snatching the cigarette out of his mouth and throwing it in the sink. “jeongguk,” he snaps. “stop it!”

“what?” asks jeongguk, turning to him. “it’s fine for you to smoke and ruin your fucking lungs and hurt yourself, but i can’t? it’s okay for you to not give a shit about your health but it’s suddenly the worst thing in the world if i don’t?”

yoongi doesn’t have anything to say to that, apparently, just watching him with something crossed between fear and anger. they’re just standing in the middle of the kitchen, and jeongguk’s chest is heaving from the exertion, from the adrenaline, and he’s—upset. he’s so fucking upset.

“why don’t you care about yourself?” jeongguk demands. “why don’t you care about yourself the way i care about you? it’s fucking—exhausting, hyung. it’s exhausting trying to help you when you don’t even seem to want to help yourself.”

his questions are met with silence. and jeongguk—didn’t realize that’s how he felt until he said it, but now he knows it’s the truth. the smoking thing is less about yoongi smelling like smoke or it being a bad habit. it’s about jeongguk wanting yoongi to be better and not seeing that yoongi wants himself to be better. and he doesn’t know how to fix it, doesn’t know how to make yoongi see that he’s worth caring about.

and yoongi just. looks at him. and then he whispers, “i don’t know.”

“you don’t know what?” asks jeongguk.

“i don’t know what you want me to say,” he says. “i don’t smoke because i hate myself, jeongguk-ah. i smoke because it’s been my crutch when i’m stressed or upset or bored. i want to change, but it’s hard. it’s really fucking hard, and i’m trying to care about myself the way you care about me, but that’s hard, too, because i can’t—i can’t, jeongguk. i don’t have your heart.”

“i just want you to be healthy, hyung,” says jeongguk, a little quieter now. now that his initial outburst has ended, he feels the anger stripping itself away, just leaving disappointment and sadness. “i just want you to be okay.”

“i know,” says yoongi. “i want to be okay, too. but i’m human and i’m going to fuck up and you—yelling at me isn’t going to make me any more inclined to change. i just.. need you to help me.”

“i need you to help yourself.”

“i’m working on it.”

“work harder.

yoongi takes a breath, like he’s trying to convince himself not to yell back. “i had a really long week,” he admits quietly.

jeongguk crosses his arms. “yeah, well, so did i.”

maybe there’s something more to be said there—when yoongi has a long week, he smokes. when jeongguk has a long week, he snaps at people. it’s not a good combination. but for the first time, jeongguk tries to actually listen to what yoongi is saying—that he’s trying, and he’s failed this time. but that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop trying, and maybe he’s right about jeongguk not being helpful when he automatically assumes the worst and gets angry rather than trying to be supportive. but maybe yoongi does need the reminder that there is more to work for, and that this isn’t just about jeongguk not liking it.

yoongi takes a step toward him, tentative, like he thinks jeongguk is going to run away. “i’m sorry, jeongguk,” he says quietly. “i know that i’m not supposed to smoke when i see you, but i had a moment of weakness and i was really stressed about applying for jobs. and it’s not a good excuse, but i recognize that i messed up. i brought the cigarettes because they’re… like a safety net, just in case. i was too stressed out not to bring them, and i honestly wasn’t going to smoke them here, but it made me feel better to have them. and i know i have to work on that.” he takes another step closer, just slowly, and jeongguk doesn’t move, lets him come. he just keeps his eyes trained somewhere on yoongi’s chest, jaw clenched, until yoongi gets close enough to tug at his wrist, trying to undo the knot of his arms. “okay?” he asks. “okay, gukkie? are you okay with that? i’m trying to be better, i promise. but i’m not there yet. you have to be patient with me.”

it kind of makes jeongguk want to cry. instead, he mutters, “i still don’t want you to have cigarettes in my house.”

“okay,” says yoongi. “i’ll throw them out.”

“okay,” says jeongguk. then, more quietly, “sorry for yelling at you. i just really don’t like you smoking and i know it’s not my right to tell you what to do, but i couldn’t help it. i was really stressed out and it was my first instinct and it was—stupid. sorry.”

“s’okay,” says yoongi. “i deserved it.”

he does feel better knowing that yoongi has been trying to quit, and that he’s doing his best. and maybe this is just a reminder that jeongguk has some things to work on—namely not letting his emotions get the better of him in situations like this, where all of this could have been avoided if he would have just taken a deep breath and thought logically about it all rather than immediately jumping to conclusions and getting angry. and he’s still upset, but yoongi is upset too. and they’re both stressed. and the only thing that’s going to fix it is—each other.

finally, he drops the fold of his arms. he lips jut out in a bit of a pout as he lifts his arms and yoongi grins at him, just a little, before stepping forward and wrapping him up in a hug.

“i don’t like arguing with you,” jeongguk says after a second, pressing his face into yoongi’s hair. “feels like shit.”

“yeah, i know,” says yoongi. “let’s not argue anymore.”

after a minute or two of just standing there and hugging—and jeongguk trying to remind himself that there are worse things than yoongi smoking, objectively, and people are allowed to make mistakes and it’s better to just be together—there’s a whisper from the living room: “are we… supposed to keep playing?”

“shut up, hyung. they’re having a moment.”

“i’m just saying.

jeongguk giggles, just a little.

later, after yoongi has thrown out the cigarettes like he promised and they’ve finished the board game with jeongguk sitting behind yoongi and back hugging him, trying to give advice that yoongi resolutely does not take because he’s apparently more interested in trying to get away with cheating—jeongguk pulls yoongi into his room and shuts the down, pushes him on the bed, and just cuddles him.

that’s what he’s been needing all week. despite the argument, that’s not going to change.

“sorry, guk-ah,” whispers yoongi, nose pressed to the side of jeongguk’s head. “hyung’s sorry.”

“you can stop saying that,” jeongguk tells him. “i know.”

“still feel bad, though.”

“then make it up to me.”

yoongi doesn’t move immediately. jeongguk’s not sure what kind of making up he expects, but yoongi just shifts enough to kiss his cheekbone, says, “okay. okay, i will.”

when jeongguk gets home from work a few days later, he knows that something is wrong. or—off, at least. he’s a very particular person, which means that his room is always impeccably clean and everything has its proper place. but the moment he steps into his room, he knows that something is different. he can’t quite pinpoint what, but it just—feels wrong.

then he sees august, sitting in the middle of his bed. that’s not quite it, but there’s a piece of paper taped to the cat’s chest that says, squeeze me! and jeongguk narrows his eyes at it for a second before he puts his bag down and sits down on the bed, reaching out for august.

when he squeezes the cat, yoongi’s voice comes—not the last message he’d left, which had been something about how much he loves moles, and jeongguk had blushed furiously remembering the way yoongi had said good morning to all of them the first time they’d woken up together, but—“hi, bun. i hope you don’t mind going on a little scavenger hunt. i just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me and how grateful i am that you care about me. soyoongi makes this little coughing noise, and jeongguk realizes that he must have been embarrassed. “yeah. okay. look under august.

jeongguk does, surprised to find that there’s a wrapped gift under. he quickly takes off the wrapping to find that it’s a book—the complete collection of shakespeare’s sonnets. jeongguk’s eyebrows furrow as he opens the front cover to find yoongi has written on the inside: when we first met, you told me how much you love shakespeare. i still don’t see the appeal, but after watching romeo and juliet enough times, i think i can understand why you love his work. and i like the things you like, because you like them for a reason. i feel very lucky to be one of those things. you have a golden heart, jeongguk-ah.

he swallows tightly, running his finger over the page, and then flipping to the next and the next. with only a quick glance at the book, he sees that yoongi has highlighted certain sonnets or passages and added his own commentary—some helpful like, this is how i feel about you and some ridiculous like, what the fuck does this even mean. jeongguk feels something very warm take up residence in his heart, and he doesn’t have time to read all of them, but. he wants to. he wants to know what yoongi thinks about all of this, to know that he’s taken the time to try to understand what yoongi sees in these words.

he takes a chance as he flips to sonnet 18, and finds that yoongi has just drawn a massive heart around it, has written beside it, shall i compare thee to a summer’s day? you’re hot as fuck. checkmate, shakespeare.

jeongguk has to physically put down the book and giggle into his hands. and it’s—ridiculous, but it’s also very yoongi. he’s not sure he should have expected anything else. so he flips to the back of the book, unsure if there’s more, and sure enough, there’s a sticky note stuck to the back cover that says, look in the closet.

intrigued, he leaves the book and august on the bed as he opens his closet door and sees—everything as it should be. yoongi hasn’t stolen his clothes, at least. but then he notices that although nothing is missing, there are things there that shouldn’t be there, and he crouches down on the ground as he sees three stuffed animals leaning against the boxes he has there. he’s never seen them before, which means—

he reaches out for the first one; it’s one of the other valentine’s day bears, even though the store stopped selling those weeks ago. jeongguk squeezes it, just in case, and sure enough, he hears yoongi’s voice coming out of the bear—“you’ve always been really excited about the fact that i work at build-a-bear, even though i think it’s kind of embarrassing. and i know you were really excited about the valentine’s day bears, so i figured you could use another one. i dressed him like you, because i love how you dress. it makes you look really cute.” indeed, the bear is wearing overalls and glasses. jeongguk giggles as he puts it down and moves onto the next one.

this one is a bunny, much like the one that he got for yoongi the last time they went to build-a-bear. he squeezes this one, too, and hears yoongi say, “did you know you actually do look like a bunny? it’s the teeth. also you scrunch your nose a lot when you’re giggling and i have to stop myself from kissing your nose every time you do that. i also have to stop myself from kissing the rest of your face, but i do just kiss my bunny every time instead. now we can match.”

jeongguk puts that one down and moves to the last animal—he doesn’t think it’s a build-a-bear, because it’s a whale, and he doesn’t think they sell those. it doesn’t have clothes on either, but a note stuck to it, and jeongguk pulls it off with furrowed brows before he sees that yoongi has written, do you like whales? because i was thinking that we could ‘humpback’ at my place.

“oh my god,” says jeongguk, burying his face in his hands as his cheeks flush—not that there’s anyone to even see, but. yoongi would try to use that pick-up line on him, even if they’re dating. and jeongguk starts giggling, grabbing the three animals out of the closet and bringing them to his bed to join the others there. it’s true that he does love stuffed animals, and they mean even more because they’re from yoongi. but there’s even more—when he moves the animals, he sees that they were sitting on a little envelope, and jeongguk quickly grabs it and opens it to pull out another piece of paper.

bathroom cabinet! it says, and jeongguk quickly gets off of the floor and hurries to the bathroom as he reads the rest of the note. remember the time we introduced hoseok to seokjin-hyung and namjoon? first of all, a terrible idea. (jeongguk giggles, because yoongi is right.) but i accidentally spilled nail polish all over your bed. i don’t know if you figured it out, but it’s because you put my jacket on and i literally popped a boner. but that’s not the point of this. the point is that, i don’t just like how you like thingsi like how you like the things that i like. you’re never afraid to try something new even if it’s out of your comfort zone if it’s something that i like, and it makes me feel really validated. so now you can have some of your own.

jeongguk pulls open the cabinet in the bathroom, frowning before he spots the little row of nail polish bottles that definitely weren’t there before—they’re an array of colours. most of them pastel: pinks and purples and blues and greens. on the end, there’s one bottle of black and a note that says, in case you ever want to match again.

he takes the black bottle out, grinning down at it; yoongi has done his nails a few times in the past, although jeongguk has always lamented that he doesn’t own any light coloured polish. but now he has some of his own, so he doesn’t have to bother yoongi about it anymore, and he giggles at the idea before he sees yet another note stuck behind the bottles of polish.

“fucking hell,” mumbles jeongguk as he reaches for it. “how many of these things did he do?” this note just says—seokjin has a cd player, right? how 2000s.

jeongguk stares at it for a second before he turns around and peers down the hallway toward seokjin’s bedroom. he’s not home, so… jeongguk is quick to sneak into his room, finding the cd player that yoongi is talking about and popping it open to see a blank cd. he turns the player on, pressing play. surprisingly—or maybe not, at this point—yoongi’s voice fills the room, embarrassed again as he says, “singing is really important to you, and i really admire that. you have a dream and you really want to reach it, and it inspires me to see how much you want to improve and how badly you want to achieve that dream, even when you come up against people who try to tear you down. it makes me think about how when i was a teenager, i was a bit like that, but with rapping. and no, i’m not going to become a rapper. but i figured i’d be brave like you and share some of my own work… please never ever ever let anyone else hear this. also please never mention it to me. okay, bye.”

he watches the player, confused, before the second track starts—some gritty beat, the sort of music that he would normally never listen to. and then someone starts rapping, and he takes him a moment to realize—it’s yoongi. yoongi has given him a whole fucking mixtape of his rapping, even if he’s embarrassed of it. jeongguk gasps, immediately reaching out and turning the cd player off entirely. it’s not—embarrassing to him either, but he’s. not sure he’s ready to hear that just yet, especially when he already feels so full of love for what yoongi is doing—all to make up for their argument a few days ago. he can listen to it later, when he’s not so eager to finish this and actually talk to yoongi.

so he runs his hands over the cd player until he finds another sticky note, the next hint to the scavenger hunt. it’s a terrible drawing of what jeongguk deduces is a refrigerator, and when jeongguk wanders into the kitchen and pulls open the fridge, he sees—

“no way!” he gasps, pulling out the take out container sitting on the middle shelf. when he opens it, he sees waffles—and not just any waffles, but the new waffles that beansbins has been promoting but jeongguk and yoongi have been too busy to actually go get. it’s piled high with fruit and caramel sauce, plus twice as much whipped cream as usual.

jeongguk grins down at it, unable to help himself as he grabs a fork and immediately digs into it. the rest of the stuff can wait, since they’re not even food. but there’s no note attached to this one, and no ending to it. jeongguk, after eating the first waffle, grabs his phone and calls yoongi.

he picks up on the third ring. “hello jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi, “whom i assume is enjoying his waffles right now.”

“hi hyung,” says jeongguk, shy suddenly. he’d been too excited about the little scavenger hunt to think about what it actually means, but now that he’s talking to yoongi—there’s no way around it. “thanks for all the stuff. you—you didn’t have to do all that, you know.”

“yes, i did,” says yoongi. “i made you feel like shit and that’s not okay. i made you feel like i didn’t care about you and what you do for me, but i really do, and i wanted to show you at least a little but how much i lo—um,” he coughs suddenly, clearing his throat into the phone. “how much i like you. and appreciate you. and am very happy that you are my boyfriend.”

jeongguk blushes down to his toes, sinking down onto the floor with the waffles in his lap so he can curl into himself, glad that yoongi can’t see him. “oh,” he says. “well. i really love all of it. especially the waffles.”

“even i wanted to eat those.”

“you can come over, you know,” says jeongguk, chewing on the fork. “and have them with me?”

yoongi hesitates—“is that okay?” he asks finally, almost shyly.

“of course,” whispers jeongguk. “you can paint my nails, too, and we can cuddle with the animals and read sonnets and listen to you rapping.”

“what did i say about never mentioning the rapping to me?”

“but hyung,” giggles jeongguk, hears yoongi giggling on the other end. he wants him here—doesn’t feel bad about asking for it, because he’s well beyond that point. yoongi makes him feel so much, makes him feel at home and more. he wants to kiss yoongi’s dumb face. wants to make him rap for him in real time, not on the cd. wants to crawl right into yoongi’s chest, and snuggle up to his heart, and stay there.

after he’s calmed down, yoongi says, “okay, guk-ah. i’d love to come over.”

“hurry,” says jeongguk. “the longer it takes you, the less waffle you get.”

“are you telling me to speed, jeongguk? how rebellious.”

“i didn’t say it,” shrugs jeongguk. “see you soon, hyung.”

“bye, baby.”

as march begins to tip over into april, jeongguk feels light on his feet. he’s enjoying singing with timbre! and doesn’t have any problems with them—in fact, he’s only gotten closer with other members of the group, and is closest with jimin and taehyung, who often hang out with the rest of the group as a whole. now they’re seven. it’s the perfect number. he feels good about what he’s saving through the bookshop, hopeful that he’ll be able to begin taking singing lessons during the summer, or just in time for his birthday. he and yoongi are doing well, celebrating their three-month anniversary. it’s good. everything is good.

and then—one afternoon at the end of march, jeongguk finishes his shift and checks his phone to find six missed calls from yoongi. he blanches, immediately panicking that something horrible has happened—he’s been in an accident or ended up in the hospital or was dying and needed jeongguk to save him, but jeongguk couldn’t because he was working and his phone was in the break room, and—

he calls yoongi back, hands shaking.

“hel—”

“yoongi-hyung!” jeongguk yells as he pushes out of the bookshop, already running toward the bus stop. “oh my god, are you okay?”

“wha—”

“are you dying? are you hurt? do you need something? i just got off work so i didn’t see your calls before, but i’m heading home and i can take the bus to your apartment or the hospital or—”

“jeongguk-ah, stop, i’m fine.” now that he stops to listen, yoongi does sound fine. and if he thinks about it, someone probably would have called the bookshop or come to get him if something was seriously wrong, considering they have five other friends who likely would have heard about the problem.

jeongguk stops running, squinting up at the sky for a second so he can catch his breath. “sorry,” he says. “why were you calling me so many times?”

“because i have good news,” says yoongi. “i got an interview.”

jeongguk stares out at the street, at the passing cars. and then the words sink in—yoongi got an interview. yoongi got an interview for a human resources position, an interview for a job that he has been searching for since he graduated almost a whole fucking year ago. he’s been applying for months now, waiting for something to catch, and now—he has an interview.

“you got an interview,” repeats jeongguk, almost breathless.

“yeah, guk-ah,” says yoongi, and jeongguk can hear his gummy smile through the phone. “hyung got an interview.”

jeongguk does take the bus to yoongi’s apartment, waiting impatiently at every stop, but it’s not because he’s panicked—it’s because he’s happy. he knows that applying for jobs has been the most stressful part of yoongi’s life for a while, feeling like he’s waiting his degree while working at build-a-bear. but someone finally wants to hire him, and jeongguk feels everything expanding, suddenly, just another thing to add to the long list of wonderful things in his life at the moment.

the interview is next week, so yoongi has ample time to prepare. but when jeongguk gets to the apartment, he’s practically knee deep in his own textbooks, trying to brush up on the knowledge that he might have just forgotten in the past year, although jeongguk is sure that the hiring manager isn’t going to grill him on that kind of stuff. there are papers everywhere filled with interview questions and procedures, a youtube video playing on his laptop about how to ace an interview—not to mention all of the snacks and empty water bottles lying around.

it almost looks like he’s studying for a final.

jeongguk peeks into the kitchen, where hoseok is sitting at the table and eating dinner. “is he okay?” asks jeongguk, gesturing to yoongi over his shoulder, who is pacing back and forth in the living room and muttering.

“he’s nervous,” says hoseok. “he’s been waiting for this for ages so he really wants to get it right. and i don’t blame him, but—i dunno. i tried to actually make him eat real food and he told me to fuck off, so.”

jeongguk frowns. “how long has he been doing that?”

“since he found out he got the interview,” says hoseok, and then glances at his watch. “which was… about four hours ago. he’s beginning to scare me.”

he turns to look at yoongi. he admires his boyfriend’s dedication and determination to nail this interview. but it also looks like he’s on the verge of pulling out his hair, and jeongguk is worried about the sheer amount of empty red bull cans on the couch, and under the couch, and on the coffee table. he knows that yoongi is a perfectionist in a lot of ways, and that he’s been waiting a long time for this opportunity, but there’s no point in burning himself out preparing an interview. that’s not going to help him get the job.

“i’m gonna talk to him,” says jeongguk.

“good luck,” says hoseok, shovelling more food into his mouth. “if he tells you to fuck off, then we know he’s a goner. rest in pieces, min yoongi.”

jeongguk marches into the lion’s den, knowing that he’ll be able to convince yoongi to stop watching so many fucking youtube videos as though he doesn’t know how to answer a few questions about what his strengths and weaknesses are. and sure, jeongguk has never interviewed for a really serious job like this, but he knows for a fact that this isn’t helping.

“yoongi-hyung,” he says. yoongi keeps muttering. “yoongi-hyung. yoongi, babe, hello—” he reaches out and grabs yoongi’s arm, forcing him to turn around, and yoongi does with a yelp, apparently surprised to be touched. he blinks at jeongguk, surprise on his face. he didn’t even notice jeongguk had known up.

“hello,” says jeongguk.

“hi,” says yoongi.

“hoseok-hyung and i are worried about your well-being,” he says. “i think you’re going to break out in hives if you stop stressing so much about this.”

“but i have to do well,” says yoongi. “this is like, really important.”

“i know. but you also have to take care of yourself.”

“i’m fine,” says yoongi. “i just need to make sure i answer these questions right. this guy is getting to the part about what you’re supposed to wear and that’s important too because all i own is black and ripped jeans and i don’t think they’re going to want their human resources guy to look like that.”

jeongguk snorts, although—yoongi has a point. which. makes him stop and take a small step back. he has a point—because the truth is that no matter how well yoongi can answer those questions, no matter how many impressive facts he memorizes from his textbooks, it’s not going to make a difference if the people hiring him don’t like what they see from the beginning. their first impression isn’t going to be what comes out of yoongi’s mouth but what he looks like.

and as far as jeongguk is concerned, yoongi is beautiful. but his hair is a faded mint colour. he does own mostly black and ripped jeans. and he’s stressing himself out so much that it looks like he hasn’t slept in three weeks despite the fact that it’s only been four hours since he heard the news about the interview.

an intervention is in order. and jeongguk knows how to hit all of those birds with the same stone.

“c’mon,” he says, reaching over and closing yoongi’s laptop in the middle of the video. then he grabs yoongi’s arm, dragging him toward the door.

“wait, where are we going?” asks yoongi. “i’m not done with the video! i have to keep practicing.”

“no, you don’t,” says jeongguk. “you’ve been stressing too much about this and it’s not good for you. you have a week to practice answering those questions, but you’re going to die from stress if you don’t find a way to calm down. and you have to look the part—which means you have to get rid of the mint hair.”

“what?” asks yoongi, frowning as he reaches up to touch his hair. “but i like it.”

“they’re not going to, trust me,” says jeongguk. he slips on his shoes at the door, kicking yoongi’s toward him. “you’re going to stop freaking out about this and i’m going to give you a personal spa to calm you down and also dye your hair. and we need to go to a drug store first.”

yoongi blinks at him. then he says, “um… okay.”

from the kitchen, hoseok calls, “why didn’t you tell him to fuck off?”

“because he didn’t tell me i looked like i was extremely constipated,” yoongi calls back. jeongguk leans over to give him a kiss, and then opens the door.

they stop at a drug store, like jeongguk asked, and pick out a box of black hair dye. jeongguk glares at yoongi when he eyes the red bull until yoongi leaves it alone, wanting this to be a relaxing experience. when they get back to the apartment, hoseok is gone, leaving a note about not wanting to intrude on the super romantic spa—although jeongguk isn’t sure it’ll be romantic since he’s already had to tell yoongi to stop repeating interview questions to himself twice now. he runs a bath, adding a bath bomb that he got yoongi a few weeks ago. he grabs rubber gloves. he demands that yoongi not even look at his laptop again unless he wants to be put in a headlock.

“get in the tub,” says jeongguk once he’s finally managed to prepare everything, pointing to the water—it’s gone a lovely pink and purple colour thanks to the bath bomb and it smells wonderful.

yoongi’s eyes widen. “what, like right now?”

“yes. i said i was giving you a personal spa.”

“you want me to strip?”

“yoongi-hyung, i’ve already seen your dick multiple times, so stop being a baby and take off your clothes.” he might be a little aggressive about it—although the whole thing is coming from a place of care and concern. jeongguk can’t help that he’s aggressively trying to help yoongi because yoongi won’t respond well to anything else. it seems to work, though, because yoongi immediately drops his pants and jeongguk nods, turning to start getting the hair dye ready instead of ogling, although he’s tempted to.

by the time he’s finished, yoongi has gotten into the tub, knees awkwardly pulled up to his chest as he sits there and stares at jeongguk with something akin to fear in his eyes. “is the rest of this going to be as aggressive as the beginning?” he asks.

“i’m very gentle, hyung,” says jeongguk. “i just want you to know that you have to take care of yourself and de-stress instead of getting super worked up about this interview. congratulations, by the way.”

“thanks,” mumbles yoongi.

“don’t get your hair wet,” says jeongguk as he sits down on the edge of the tub. “you can relax, you know. this is supposed to be relaxing.”

yoongi eyes him for a second, almost wary, and then he finally puts his legs down, leaning back against the tub. jeongguk watches him, trying to make sure that he’s actually going to relax, and then yoongi lets out a very long sigh and closes his eyes. “fuck,” he mutters. “i’m so fucking stressed out.”

“i know,” says jeongguk, reaching over and grabbing one of yoongi’s hands out of the water. he starts massaging yoongi’s fingers and palm, hoping it’ll help. “that’s why we’re doing this. i know you really want the job.”

“i really want the job,” agrees yoongi. “like, it’s been almost a year since i graduated and i’ve been trying to get one since then, but it’s hard. i dunno. the job economy is shit these days anyway, but i haven’t even gotten a lot of interviews.”

“you’ll be fine,” says jeongguk. “you’re smart and a hard worker and you know your stuff. and you’re passionate about human resources—which is something that i didn’t know a person could be passionate about. but you talk about it like you genuinely love it, and i think that’s more than a lot of people can say, even in the industry. lots of people just do a job because it’s a job, but you want to have this job because it’s genuinely what you love doing.”

when he looks up from where he’s massaging yoongi’s hand, he sees that yoongi has opened his eyes and is watching him, head tilted back against the tub. there’s a bit of a grin playing on his lips. “i thought you didn’t like listening to me talk about human resources.”

“i don’t not like it,” shrugs jeongguk. “i’m not as interested in it as you are, but i love hearing you talk about anything, especially something you love. taehyungie-hyung can definitely have better conversations with you about it because he actually understands it, but it’s clear that you like what you’re talking about. i want to be able to talk about something like that.”

“you do. you talk about singing like that. actually, you sing like that.”

jeongguk flushes, just a little. “this isn’t supposed to be complimenting me time,” he says, moving to massage yoongi’s wrist. “this is supposed to be about helping you feel better about the interview. so—i think you’re going to do great. and i think you’ll get the job.”

“what if i don’t?”

it’s strange—yoongi isn’t an insecure person. he doesn’t show his insecurities often, and jeongguk used to think that it was because yoongi didn’t have any. but being his friend for six months and his boyfriend for half of that time, he’s learned that that’s not the truth. the truth is that yoongi just doesn’t show them, because he doesn’t want to think of himself as weak. he doesn’t want to be hurt by them even more, or be hurt by others because of them.

but he’s vulnerable with jeongguk. he peels back those layers and lets jeongguk see, because he knows that jeongguk will be careful with them. he knows that jeongguk will love them the same way that he loves the rest of yoongi.

so jeongguk pauses, lowering his hands and just holding yoongi’s for a while. “then you don’t get it,” he says quietly, “and you’ll get another interview and try for another job. and you’ll keep doing that until you get one. more jobs will come if this one doesn’t work out. it’s like what you said about the singing group—if this one didn’t work, we’d keep looking until we find the right one. it’s the same thing with a job. we’ll just keep looking.”

he doesn’t want to have to come home to yoongi being upset that an interview didn’t go well, or because he didn’t get a call back about a job. it’s been a long time since he even got a chance, and jeongguk knows that it’s been frustrating. but he also knows that yoongi is strong and resilient and that he’ll keep working until he reaches his dream, just like he’s been encouraging jeongguk to do with his singing.

because yoongi has been encouraging—he’s done all he can to make jeongguk feel confident about his voice, to help him branch out into a singing group and be ready for when he takes lessons. the least jeongguk can do is the same for yoongi’s job search.

“i really want this one, though,” yoongi finally whispers.

jeongguk grins, lifting yoongi’s hand to his mouth and kissing it. “i know. i really want you to get it, and that’s why you’re going to do well on the interview and they’re going to love you. when you go in there confident and looking well relaxed and with black hair instead of mint.”

yoongi nods, closing his eyes again. “does that mean that you’re going to give me a personal spa every night until the interview?”

“don’t take advantage of my kindness, yoongi-hyung.”

“i thought this was just you being a good boyfriend.”

jeongguk dips his fingers into the water and then flicks it at yoongi’s face, giggling when he sputters. “i am a good boyfriend,” he says. “but don’t get stressed out so much that i need to give you another personal spa.”

yoongi chuckles at him, relaxing back against the tub as jeongguk goes back to massaging his hand. that’s how it goes—jeongguk massages his other hand, too, and then both of his feet, and watches as yoongi seems to sink right into the tub like he’s just needed an excuse to relax. it’s not quite the same as having body scrubs and candles and rose petals, but jeongguk thinks it’s pretty good for being on short notice. besides, he thinks that their gentle conversation is the best part of it, as jeongguk makes yoongi talk about things other than the interview so he doesn’t keep thinking about it.

by the time yoongi has begun to get a little pruney in the water, jeongguk figures it’s time to move onto dyeing his hair. as yoongi gets out of the tub, dries himself off, and puts on an old shirt—which turns out to be one of jeongguk’s old shirts, although he doesn’t comment on that, just grinning to himself when he realizes—jeongguk prepares the hair dye and puts on the gloves. then he sits on the toilet seat, making yoongi sit on the floor between his legs with a towel around his shoulders.

“have you ever dyed anyone’s hair before?” asks yoongi once jeongguk already has the tube in his hand, prepared to begin applying it.

“nope,” he says cheerfully.

“then why the fuck are you doing this?” asks yoongi, but jeongguk is already squeezing some of the dye onto yoongi’s hair. it’s too late now—and besides, jeongguk is sure that he’ll do a better job than yoongi, considering he can at least see all of yoongi’s head.

as he begins to apply the dye, rubbing it into yoongi’s hair, he lets out a little sigh. “goodbye, beautiful mint hair,” he says. “you will be very, very missed. you were my favourite.”

“you liked it better than my grey hair?” asks yoongi, letting jeongguk manipulate his head to get all of his hair.

“i liked your grey hair because that’s what colour it was when i met you,” says jeongguk, “but i like your mint hair better because it’s the colour it was when we started dating. so it’s automatically better regardless of how it actually looked.”

“hm,” says yoongi. “your hair has just been… brown this whole time.”

“are you saying i should dye my hair, too?”

“i mean, if we have extra and you wanted to. i think you’d look good with black hair.”

“if i was gonna dye it, i’d want to go all out,” sighs jeongguk. “do like… pink or something.”

yoongi doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, and jeongguk panics that he thinks it would look terrible—it was the first colour he thought of—and then yoongi says, “it would match.”

“match what?”

“everything,” says yoongi. “you always wear pink. so it would match you and your… personality. you have a very pink personality.”

“does that mean you have a black personality?”

“have you ever seen that house meme,” begins yoongi, and jeongguk gently kicks him in the side to keep him from continuing that thought—because first of all, yes. second of all, seokjin wouldn’t shut up about for two whole weeks when he found it.

jeongguk continues to work the dye into yoongi’s hair, careful not to get any on his skin—or jeongguk’s pants, for that matter. “what do you think you’ll look like with black hair?” asks jeongguk. “you’ve had it before, right?”

yoongi makes a humming noise, like he can’t open his mouth to actually respond—and jeongguk grins to himself, thinking that his relaxing spa has gone a little too far and now yoongi is half asleep with his head in jeongguk’s lap, getting his hair dyed. so jeongguk stops asking him questions—just starts humming as he continues with the hair dye, carefully moving yoongi’s head forward and sideways when he gets to the lower hairs. it doesn’t take very long to finish dyeing his hair, all of the strands wet and matted with black, but jeongguk before can say anything, he hears a very quiet snore.

a grin curls on his lips as he leans sideways until he can see yoongi’s face—his eyes are closed, fast asleep. it makes something very soft and fond bloom in jeongguk’s chest, and he leans over to press a very gentle kiss to yoongi’s cheek before he grabs the shower cap to carefully put over yoongi’s hair to make sure the dye doesn’t go anywhere. and then he throws out the gloves and slowly tips yoongi’s head back until it’s cradled in jeongguk’s lap, his face toward the ceiling. he looks strangely adorable like that, sleeping in a shower cap.

jeongguk can’t help humming some love song he heard on the radio, gently tracing over yoongi’s features—nose, eyebrows, lips. it’s a far cry from the person who was stressed out and pacing his living room a few hours ago, and jeongguk thinks—he likes taking care of yoongi, even if it’s sometimes a little aggressive. yoongi has done a lot to take care of him, but jeongguk wants yoongi to know that it’s not one-sided. wants him to know that jeongguk really, really likes him, too.

in his sleep, yoongi lets out another snore, and then smacks his lips, wrinkles his nose. jeongguk looks down at him and feels his heart shed all of its leaves in one go, dropping right down to the bottom of his stomach, where he can gather them, make piles—use them as landing pads for when he falls and falls, just like that. he feels new blossoms already, just like that.

he’s in love with min yoongi, just like that.

it’s a quiet sort of realization, a knowledge that is just there, like it’s always been there. it comes like a new season, creeping upon him at first until all at once, he finds himself in the middle of it, unsure when it all changed. but it has—but it has. he looks down at yoongi and thinks that maybe he’s been in love with yoongi for longer than he thinks, or maybe he’s been coming to this point one blossom at a time, until he’s clutching an entire garden in his arms and can’t run from it.

but—he doesn’t want to run from it. that’s the other piece of knowledge that settles low in his gut: that it makes sense. there are flecks of black dye on his yoongi’s forehead, even his cheeks. he’s snoring. his mouth is a little open, teeth just poking out from behind his lips. and jeongguk is very much in love.

he leans down, pressing his lips to the tip of yoongi’s nose. he doesn’t say it—he could, because yoongi is asleep, and he wouldn’t know. but for now, jeongguk keeps it to himself. jeongguk keeps it alongside the tree in his heart, the one that was planted long ago, when he first realized maybe he liked yoongi as more than a friend. this one will grow, too, like the first, and one day, it will bloom, too—fully. and then jeongguk will be able to admit it, to tell yoongi.

until then—he kisses yoongi’s nose again, grinning when yoongi wrinkles it in his sleep. he hums. he waits.

after the thirty minutes is over, he gently wakes yoongi, watching him blink awake all soft and sleepy and confused. jeongguk doesn’t need another excuse to realize he’s in love, but—there it is. he tells yoongi that he has to wash his hair now, and even in his sleepiness, yoongi shoves him off, tells him that he can do it himself—something about a surprise, not wanting jeongguk to see him with black hair for the first time when he looks like a drowned rat. jeongguk is more worried that yoongi will actually drown, since he’s half-asleep, but he obeys anyway, giving yoongi’s nose one last kiss before he leaves the bathroom and waits out in the living room, surrounded by all of yoongi’s textbooks and empty food containers.

he grabs yoongi’s laptop, exiting out of the fourteen youtube tabs on interviewing tips in order to watch something on netflix. he hears the shower turn on and then off ten minutes later, and then hears the blow dryer going as yoongi does his hair. jeongguk tries not to let himself imagine what yoongi will look like—it’s not like his face is going to change, just the colour of his hair. but he’s somehow looked completely different between his grey and mint hair, so he can only assume that yoongi will again look completely different with black hair.

eventually, the blow dryer turns off for good, and a few minutes later, the bathroom to the door opens.

“can i look now?” calls jeongguk.

“not yet,” yoongi tells him. “if you want me to look the part of someone they’re going to hire, i have to find the right clothes.” which—has jeongguk pausing the episode he’s watching, staring at the screen for a very long second. the right clothes aren’t going to be yoongi’s usual black or leather jacket. it’s going to be… adult clothes. professional ones. he didn’t even think yoongi owned that kind of clothing, but he’s been surprised before.

a sort of chilly fear settles on him as he sits and waits. seeing yoongi with black hair would be bad enough, but now he’s going to see yoongi with black hair and professional clothes.

it’s an agonizing five minutes before he hears yoongi’s bedroom door open and yoongi says, “i wasn’t actually sure i had any fancier clothes, but i guess there was some stuff shoved in the back of my closet from last summer when i was going to interviews.” jeongguk carefully sets the laptop aside, knowing that yoongi will be entering the room from behind him. which—should realistically give him a chance to prepare. but all too soon, yoongi’s voice is in the room, saying. “i dunno. do you think i pass the first impression test?”

jeongguk takes a deep breath and then gets up from the sofa, turning around to look.

it’s a weird sense of deja vu—from the first time that he ever saw yoongi, and how strikingly pretty he had been then, with grey hair and a leather jacket and black nail polish. their first meeting is a bit of a blur for jeongguk, because he’d been gay panicking so hard that he thinks he might have actually blacked out at one point, but he remembers, distinctly, feeling entirely out of depth and frazzled and as though it might just be a dream.

that’s how he feels now, when he sees yoongi standing in the entrance of the living room. his hair is black—which, of course, jeongguk knew it would be, but it’s not at all like what he thought it would be. yoongi has styled it so that it’s just a little curly, his fringe swooping on his forehead. somehow, it makes the rest of his face look stupidly attractive, just because it’s dark, and he’s standing there and. the outfit isn’t anything to write home about, really. just a white button-up shirt tucked into a pair of black slacks paired with a black tie, but he’s gone and rolled up the sleeves to the his elbows, revealing his forearms full of tattoos, and jeongguk can see his waist. he looks effortlessly casual and professional at the same time, ridiculously elegant, and jeongguk—

jeongguk is suddenly very glad that hoseok decided to leave.

he just stares. for a very long time, trying to think any thought, but—his mind has gone completely blank, just some fucking siren going off in his head. he should say something. he should really, really say something.

after the silence has gotten a little awkward, yoongi winces, asks, “is it bad?” he reaches up to touch his hair. “is it the hair? hoseok thinks i look better with light-coloured hair so it might be that? or—” he pauses, looking down at his clothes. “it’s the outfit, isn’t it? i’ll need to go shopping, find something that actually fits…”

“um,” says jeongguk, finally finding his voice. his pants have suddenly gotten a little tight. “that’s—i’m. fuck.”

yoongi stares at him. “is that good or bad?”

jeongguk takes a breath, and wills himself to find the right words. it’s just—he’s always been attracted to yoongi. the first time they met, he remembers thinking that yoongi was the most attractive person he’d ever seen, and he’s continued to think that every day since. he always thinks yoongi looks great. but yoongi has never looked so great that it’s made jeongguk literally want to get on his knees and present his fucking asshole to yoongi like it’s the eighth wonder of the world.

“i know you literally just put those clothes on,” jeongguk says carefully, “but if you don’t take them off right now and also take mine off while you’re at it, then i can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

yoongi blinks. “what?”

“min yoongi,” says jeongguk, slower. “i have a boner. please do something about it.”

yoongi does; his doing something amounts to dragging jeongguk to his bedroom, already attached at the lips, and rapidly trying to take off the stupid tie he’s wearing. jeongguk feels only mildly bad about making him take his clothes off after he put so much effort into looking nice, but he will have plenty of other opportunities to wear his nice clothes wherein jeongguk doesn’t want to jump him. hopefully.

jeongguk almost trips over the other clothes that yoongi left on the floor when he changed as he walks backward, dragging yoongi with him, and he lets out a surprised sound against yoongi’s mouth before he kicks the clothes out of the way. “can you please hurry,” he mumbles, already reaching for yoongi’s belt.

“it’s fucking—not that easy,” yoongi replies, still pulling at his tie, and jeongguk gets impatient—he is hard and wants yoongi to do something about it, but also yoongi looks unnaturally attractive right now and he can make do with the distractions. he manages to undo yoongi’s belt and pull his pants down as jeongguk drops to his knees, already reaching for yoongi’s cock before yoongi realizes what’s happening.

and then—“jesus,” gasps yoongi as jeongguk gets a hand around his cock, already half-hard, and begins stroking it. “i th-thought i was supposed to be something about your boner.”

“you’re being too slow,” grumbles jeongguk, leaning forward to take the tip of yoongi’s cock into his mouth. yoongi lets out another gasp of shit and almost topples forward, placing a hand on the top of jeongguk’s head.

jeongguk’s not the best at blowjobs yet, but what he lacks in skill he makes up in eagerness. he sinks down on yoongi’s cock in one go, trying to relax his throat like yoongi told him to the last time they did this, and he thinks he’s doing well from the way yoongi keeps cursing above him, having forgotten about the tie. jeongguk suctions his lips as he pulls off again, swirling his tongue around the head of yoongi’s cock.

“are you really sucking me off because you like me with black hair?” breathes yoongi, hand tightening just slightly in jeongguk’s hair. jeongguk peers up at him for a moment as he kisses the tip of yoongi’s cock, hoping that answers the question; he’s not one to question his own arousal, and he doubts that yoongi wants him to stop, so.

“i told you to take your clothes off,” he reminds yoongi before he suck at the head of his cock again, trying to remember not to get his teeth in the way. yoongi curses again, although when jeongguk looks up at him next, he’s hurriedly and shakily pulling his tie off, finally managing to toss it somewhere to his right, and then he’s undoing the buttons on his shirt.

“this would have been—fuck—easier if i wasn’t wearing this,” huffs yoongi, and jeongguk pulls off long enough to look up at him, continuing to stroke yoongi before he palms at his own cock with his other hand, getting impatient.

“this wouldn’t be happening if you weren’t wearing that,” jeongguk tells him, and yoongi pauses to look down at him.

“what’s that supposed to mean?” he asks as he finally pulls off his shirt, and jeongguk ignores the question in favour of standing up again and grabbing yoongi’s face to pull him in for a wet kiss, tugging him backwards toward the bed.

jeongguk remembers his own clothes, frantically tugging off his shirt before kissing yoongi again, mumbling, “you’re so fucking hot,” and yoongi touches him—gets his hands on jeongguk’s waist, pushing him back until his legs catch on the bed and he tumbles backwards, yoongi landing on top of him. he tries to keep his eyes open, wants to see yoongi like that—with his black hair and the dark look in his eyes and everything else, but yoongi gets a knee between his legs and pushes, just enough to finally provide jeongguk with friction, and he lets out a groan instead, head falling back as sparks shoot up his spine.

“could say the same about you,” yoongi mutters as he kisses up jeongguk’s chest, neck, jaw. jeongguk is keenly aware that it’ll be the first time he’s entirely naked in front of yoongi, but he’s too hard too care, his mind too hazy to focus on being insecure. besides, he know he has a good body, knows that yoongi appreciates so, so—

he lets out a groan as he ruts up against yoongi’s thigh, needing more, and yoongi chuckles against his skin, dragging his lips toward jeongguk’s. when they finally kiss again, it feels—sacred, somehow, and jeongguk gets his hands in yoongi’s hair, needs to feel it, pull it. he continues to rut harder, harder, as yoongi laughs again, mumbling, “eager little one, aren’t you.” yoongi helps him, though, hands trailing down his chest and stomach until they get to the waistband of his jeans, making quick work of the button and zipper.

but then yoongi leans back, leaving jeongguk empty as he whines, trying to follow where yoongi goes only for yoongi to push him back down with a hand on his chest, saying, “s’okay, baby, just gotta get you out of these jeans, okay?” they’re uncomfortable, caging his hard cock in, and he nods a little before lifting his hips to let yoongi tug his jeans and boxers down until they’re off completely, thrown off the side of the bed.

“cute,” mutters yoongi when jeongguk is completely naked, laid bare for him, and jeongguk whines, making a grabby hand at yoongi even though it goes against his protests of being called cute when he and yoongi are about to do less than innocent things.

yoongi leans down, letting jeongguk rut into his thigh again as he kisses him quiet.

“m’not cute,” protests jeongguk, a mumble against yoongi’s lips—hot and heavy, and yoongi is smaller than him but jeongguk feels dwarfed under him, like all he can see and feel is yoongi, and he likes it—

“my cute baby,” breathes yoongi with a smirk, punctuating the words with a kiss to jeongguk’s cupid’s bow, then the corner of his mouth, then his bottom lip. “cute little body, cute little ass.” he reaches down between them, and jeongguk lets out a gasp when yoongi wraps his hand around jeongguk’s cock—

“don’t say it,” jeongguk tells him.

“you’re the one thinking it,” says yoongi, and jeongguk doesn’t have time to argue with that before yoongi starts stroking him lazily, so much better than trying to grind on his thigh. yoongi kisses him again and again, smattering them over his face, and jeongguk tilts his head back, gasping into it as yoongi thumbs at the head of his cock, something curling up inside of him. he’s too sensitive and wound up now, trying to reach down for yoongi’s hand.

says, “you too, hyung,” as he bucks up into yoongi’s hand, knuckles bumping against yoongi’s stomach. “want you to feel good, too.”

yoongi kisses him again, softer this time. he lets go of jeongguk’s cock in favour of grabbing his hand, tugging a little when he says, “sit up for me, okay?” jeongguk does, trying to catch yoongi’s lips as he does so, feeling—needy, a little, like he just wants yoongi’s hands and lips all over him, wants more. once he’s sitting up, yoongi slides into his lap properly, straddling him, and jeongguk almost asks what he’s doing before he feels their cocks knock together and—oh.

“s’okay, gukkie?” asks yoongi against his mouth as he wraps a hand around jeongguk again—but around himself at the same time, too, collecting the pre-come dripping from jeongguk’s cock to aid with the slide.

and yoongi’s hand—is big enough to do that, can hold both of them at once, makes jeongguk’s head feel a little lighter as he nods rapidly. it’s getting harder to breathe, a little, feeling like something is about to burst inside of him as yoongi begins stroking both of them at once. jeongguk lets out a moan, high in his throat, and drops his head onto yoongi’s shoulder, looking down at his cock in yoongi’s hand, at yoongi’s too.

he reaches out tentatively, fingers curling into yoongi’s waist. “hyung,” he breathes, shuddering as a wave of pleasure passes through him. yoongi presses his face into the side of jeongguk’s head, mouth hovering over his ear, and groans, too—jeongguk can’t breathe, choked by how stupidly hot it is that yoongi can jerk both of them off at the same time.

“hyung—fuck, ah,” he says as yoongi speeds up. “feels good—”

“yeah?” breathes yoongi, turning his face to press a kiss to the shell of jeongguk’s ear. “hyung feels good, too.”

jeongguk moans again, closing his eyes as he chases the sensation, lets it overtake him; yoongi twists his hand just right and he lets out another whine, turning his face into yoongi’s shoulder and pressing his lips there. “gonna—hyung, gonna come,” he breathes, hands grappling at yoongi’s waist for something to hold onto, and he doesn’t need permission, but when yoongi says, “wait for hyung, okay?” jeongguk just nods his head, pressing his nose harder into yoongi’s skin as he tries to hold off.

he can feel himself about to snap as yoongi continues to stroke them faster, his own breathing hitching and groans becoming cut off, and then he slips his free hand into jeongguk’s hair and pulls and jeongguk can’t hold it any longer—he comes with a gasp, spilling into yoongi’s hand. he hears yoongi moan his name directly into his ear, coming along with him. jeongguk stays like that as yoongi strokes them through it, until jeongguk whines from the oversensitivity and yoongi lets go, just breathing heavily above him. slowly, jeongguk pulls his face out of yoongi’s shoulder and tilts his head up, waiting for yoongi to kiss him—and he does, clean hand sliding over to hold his cheek.

jeongguk likes to cuddle after, he’s realized—when yoongi has pulled an orgasm out of him, when he’s spent and tired. he gets needy, clingier than normal, and yoongi is always glad to accommodate him—kisses him soft and sweet, plays with his fingers, holds him close. so yoongi kisses him now as jeongguk catches his breath, and then yoongi starts to get off of him, says, “gotta clean up,” and jeongguk—panics.

“no, hyung, wait—” he begins, looping his arms around yoongi’s waist to hold him in place, because—because. he wants more, he realizes. he and yoongi have been doing this since valentine’s day, only a month and a half, and it’s been good. yoongi always takes care of him, does what he wants, but they’ve been taking it slow in light of jeongguk telling yoongi that he’s a virgin, and. he likes that, likes that yoongi never pressures him into something he doesn’t want to do.

but he does want it. he’s been thinking about it—can’t stop thinking about yoongi being closer than this, being part of him, can’t stop thinking about yoongi holding his waist as their hips slap together, and yoongi telling him he’s a good boy for his hyung, and, and—

“what?” asks yoongi, pulling back enough to look down at him, moving jeongguk’s hair away from his forehead.

“i wanna—can you—” jeongguk feels his heart seize in his chest, almost feeling embarrassed at asking for it even though he’s been trying to work up the courage. yoongi just looks so devastatingly gorgeous like this, with his new black hair and his sweaty face, and jeongguk. wants him. wants him more. “hyung, i’ve been—i really—please.

“hey, hey,” says yoongi, eyebrows furrowing as he drops a kiss right between jeongguk’s eyes, then smooths down the crease of his eyebrows. “s’okay, baby, use your words. you don’t have to rush.”

hyung,” says jeongguk, feeling tears prick at the backs of his eyes because he wants and doesn’t know how to ask for it.

“jeongguk-ah,” whispers yoongi. “tell hyung what you want.”

jeongguk takes a deep breath, wills himself to be brave. when he looks at yoongi, yoongi is just—watching him, a vague look of concern on his face. he presses his thumb between jeongguk’s eyes, moving it over one of his eyebrows, then the other. repeat. there are words for this, for the way that his stomach knots itself over and over when he thinks about yoongi inside of him, and he takes another breath. he whispers, “i want—more.”

“like what?”

“like…” jeongguk licks his lips, closing his eyes as yoongi keeps running his thumb over his eyebrows, his forehead. “like i wanna try—stuff. i’m ready.”

yoongi’s hand stops. “you mean—you want hyung to fuck you?”

jeongguk’s breath hitches at the words, and he opens his eyes to see yoongi looking down at him, eyes a shade darker than they were before. his cheeks flush a little more, seeing that way that yoongi looks at him like he’s hungry, like he’s been thinking about it, too, just waiting—“yeah,” breathes jeongguk. “please fuck me.”

for a second, yoongi just watches him. and then his hand trails down the side of jeongguk’s face, down to his lips. he presses his thumb into jeongguk’s bottom lip, experimental. “are you sure?” he asks. “if you’re not one hundred percent ready, we can wait. i don’t mind.”

“no,” says jeongguk. “no, i want to. i’m really ready, i promise. i—i can’t stop thinking about it.” his cheeks darken, but he’s not sure he has room to be embarrassed—they’re both naked, yoongi still sitting in his lap. he thinks yoongi’s other hand is still covered in their come. “really want it. please, hyung?”

a flicker of something darker passes over yoongi’s face. “been thinking about it, huh?” he asks, and jeongguk—flushes, head to toe. “think about it when you’re home alone, gukkie? in your bed, hand down your pants? think about hyung spreading you open and fucking you into the mattress? think about letting him do whatever he wants, like the good boy you are? tying you up, making you cry?”

jeongguk shudders—his cock twitches with interest, already beginning to grow hard again. “y-yeah,” he stutters, eyes falling shut. “yeah.

“cute,” murmurs yoongi. “we’ll save that for later.”

and—“what?”

“we’re not doing nasty shit the first time, guk-ah,” yoongi chuckles, kissing his nose. “i’m gonna take care of you.”

somehow, that makes him even more flustered than the idea of yoongi being mean—because he doesn’t really want yoongi to be mean, but he’d let yoongi do anything to him. the idea of yoongi being gentle, though, coaxing him through his first time, has jeongguk getting a little light-headed, cock definitely interested now as yoongi kisses him one, two, three more times, and then gets off of him.

“lie down, okay?” asks yoongi. “i gotta go find… stuff.” and then he’s gone, hurrying out of the bedroom butt naked while jeongguk just—sits there, staring after him.

after a second, jeongguk lets out a very long breath, and then lies down on the bed, staring at the ceiling. his stomach curls, rolls—he’s excited, but. nervous. it was easy to be brave in the moment, when yoongi was right here, but now yoongi is not right here, instead shouting triumphantly from what he assumes is hoseok’s room, or the bathroom. and jeongguk has been thinking about it. but he can’t help feeling nervous anyway, trying to calm himself down with yoongi’s own words—i’m gonna take care of you.

because yoongi will. because yoongi has been for months now, even before they started dating, and why should this be any different? yoongi drives him to work, buys him waffles and stuffed animals when he’s sad, goes slow because he knows that’s what jeongguk needs.

by the time yoongi comes back, jeongguk has curled into a little ball on his side, hiding his face in yoongi’s pillow. and the footsteps—falter, just a little, before yoongi’s voice comes, concerned: “guk-ah? are you okay?”

jeongguk makes a noise in the back of his throat, nods his head as he hears yoongi set something on the bedside table and then slide his hand through jeongguk’s hair, down his arm. “just, um—” he sniffs, turning his head so he can peek at yoongi. “kinda scared.”

“oh,” says yoongi. “what are you scared about?”

“i don’t know,” whispers jeongguk.

“we don’t have to do this if you’re scared,” yoongi tells him. “you’re allowed to change your mind.”

“no, i want—i want to do it,” says jeongguk quickly. “can you just, um—talk me through it? or—kiss me lots? i dunno. sorry—”

“hey, don’t apologize,” says yoongi, leaning down to press a kiss to his forehead. “if you’re sure, then we’ll do it. and i’ll do my best to make you feel better, okay? you don’t have to be scared. i’ve got you.”

jeongguk lets out a shaky breath, nodding his head. the truth is that he does want it, but he can’t help feeling a little scared, anyway—just because it’s new, just because he doesn’t want it to be bad for either of them. but he trusts yoongi, knows that yoongi won’t let anything bad happen to him. and as yoongi kisses him properly again, gentle and unhurried, he lets himself melt into it, into the bed. lets all of the fear bleed out until he remembers why he wants this in the first place: because he loves yoongi, even if he can’t say it yet.

yoongi kisses him until he feels like jelly again, pliant and wanting and warm. and then yoongi slides onto the bed again with a bottle of lube in his hand, telling him to open his legs. jeongguk does, a little shyly, already missing all of the points of contact with yoongi, but he reminds himself that he can’t be shy if he wants any of this to happen, so.

yoongi manoeuvres his legs until they’re propped up and he has nowhere to hide, yoongi’s hands keeping them apart. and jeongguk whines as yoongi looks at him, throwing an arm over his face in embarrassment.

“what?” asks yoongi, voice laced with amusement. he dips down, pressing a kiss to the inside of jeongguk’s knee, and then further up.

hyung,” whines jeongguk. “stop looking at me.”

“you want me to do this with my eyes closed?”

jeongguk whines again, and yoongi kneads at his thighs in some act of comfort, still leaving a trail of kisses up and up and up to his most sensitive parts. jeongguk takes a breath, trying to hold it as he waits in anticipation, and then at the last second, flings his arm out until he finds the stupid bunny stuffie that yoongi got on valentine’s day, throwing that over his face instead.

yoongi chuckles at him again, but doesn’t comment. instead, he says, “i’m just gonna open you up, okay? so it doesn’t hurt.” jeongguk nods, not wanting to look because he can feel it well enough—feel yoongi running his hands over the inside of jeongguk’s thighs, both as a way to relax him and as a way to make sure that jeongguk doesn’t close his legs out of embarrassment, which he wants to do.

“have you ever done this before?” asks yoongi after a second. “i mean—fingered yourself?”

jeongguk clears his throat, cheeks burning red as he peeks around the ear of the bunny. “a few times,” he admits. “not—much, though, just one or two. kinda felt weird. but like—good weird.” he can see yoongi between his legs now, sees him grin that stupidly fond grin which shouldn’t fit when he’s reaching out for the bottle of lube and opening it, squeezing way more than necessary only his fingers. jeongguk’s mouth goes dry.

“good,” says yoongi. “my fingers are probably different from yours, but i’ll go slow, okay?” jeongguk nods, hating the fact that he’s strangely embarrassed about this and still hard, but he ignores his cock in favour of hiding behind the bunny again when he sees yoongi move his hand down. first, yoongi presses a kiss to the inside of his knee again, says, “relax, bun.”

jeongguk lets out the breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding, and then feels one of yoongi’s fingers at his rim. he lets out a yelp despite knowing it was coming, hips jumping on the bed, and yoongi shushes him, rubbing circles into his waist with his other hand. “sorry,” breathes jeongguk, “sorry, just—surprised me.”

he feels yoongi toying with his rim a little, rubbing his finger and the lube over it, and he breathes into it, relaxing again as he waits, and yoongi kisses his knee again. “ready?” he asks, and jeongguk drops the bunny enough to look at him and nod, and then—he reaches out with one of his hands, hoping that yoongi knows—and he does, grinning as he grabs jeongguk’s hand with his, lacing their fingers together and letting them rest against jeongguk’s stomach.

with that, he slowly pushes the tip of his finger inside jeongguk, making him gasp again—not from surprise, but from the intrusion; he wasn’t lying when he said he’s done this a few times, but yoongi was right when he said it feels different. not only are yoongi’s fingers different, but it’s different when he’s not the one controlling it, and he tries to remember to breathe as yoongi doesn’t go further than that at first, just gently pulsing the tip of his finger in and out of jeongguk’s rim.

he gets impatient quickly, though, letting out a little whine that has yoongi laughing. “gotta be patient,” he reminds jeongguk. “i don’t want you to get hurt. gotta tell me if it does, though, okay? tell me if you’re uncomfortable.”

“m’not,” says jeongguk, squeezing yoongi’s hand. “more, please—” and yoongi placates him, sliding his finger in further, further, until jeongguk lets out another gasp. it doesn’t hurt, really, just takes some getting used to—and yoongi is using a lot of fucking lube, which he’s grateful for. yoongi starts moving his finger like that, just gently in and out up to the first knuckle, and then a little more when jeongguk begins to relax into it. slowly, he feels the pleasure come back—once he gets used to the feeling of something in his ass, once he focuses on the slight stretch and the ridges of yoongi’s knuckles, on the way that yoongi is rubbing circles into his hand and slowly, slowly moving his finger at the same time.

after a minute or two, yoongi asks, “doing okay?” and jeongguk just nods, breath hitching when yoongi speeds up his finger, just a little. it feels—good, then, and he moans a little as yoongi feels along his walls, sinking even more into the mattress. “wanna talk to me, baby?”

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk immediately, clutching at the bunny with one hand. “feels—feels good, hyung. can you, um—” he feels embarrassed asking for something, feels like he should be needy when yoongi is fingering him, but. it feels good. it could feel better. “can you kiss me?”

he peeks at yoongi to see him grinning, hair shaggy and sweaty in his eyes, but he doesn’t argue. he just shifts up, not pulling his finger out as he instead hovers over jeongguk and leans down to press their lips together. jeongguk lets out a sigh of relief at the contact, feeling himself go weightless and raggedy on the bed just from that; yoongi’s finger slips in a little more and he speeds up again, making jeongguk moan into his mouth.

“tell me when you’re ready for another one,” yoongi tells him, but jeongguk just likes—this right now. it’s not much, and he knows they’re supposed to be prepping him for what comes next, but he kind of just. likes kissing yoongi, hitching his legs open a little more, likes the way that yoongi licks into his mouth as he fingers him open, more and more. and jeongguk’s hard, and jeongguk has arousal and pleasure pooling in his stomach, but for now, he just—feels safe. he’s suddenly not afraid anymore.

eventually, he feels an itch for more, feels like he’s ready, so moves his hips down a little to meet yoongi’s finger, says, “okay—okay, want two.” yoongi pulls away to press a kiss to the corner of his mouth, asking, “yeah?” and jeongguk nods, and he breathes out at the same time as yoongi gingerly presses another finger to his entrance, slipping it inside with the first.

jeongguk lets out a groan, throwing his head back at the new stretch—it burns, just for a second, until it mellows out into something only a little uncomfortable, and yoongi holds both of his fingers just inside of his rim, testing it. “fuck,” breathes jeongguk. “this is embarrassing.”

“why?” asks yoongi, kissing him again, waiting for a few more seconds before he gently pushes both of his fingers in to the first knuckle.

“‘cause i—” begins jeongguk, gasping again as he squeezes yoongi’s hand. “s’only two fingers, i should—”

“you shouldn’t anything,” yoongi says. “you’ve never really done this before, and everyone’s first time is like this. no one can just take two fingers up their ass easily the first time.”

for some reason, it makes jeongguk giggle at the candid way that yoongi just says it, and he giggles until it turns into a gasp as yoongi rocking his fingers inside of him, stretching him. “what about you?” he asks to distract himself, waiting for the sting to turn into pleasure again as yoongi repeats the process from the first time—slow at first, just to the first knuckle, and then deeper when he thinks jeongguk can handle it.

“i certainly couldn’t just take two fingers up my ass the first time,” yoongi tells him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“i didn’t take you as someone who would take anything up his ass,” breathes jeongguk.

“why, because i’m a bad boy?”

“i guess,” breathes jeongguk, cutting off his own moan when yoongi finally slips both of his fingers all the way in and holds them there; jeongguk feels full already, just from that, but it’s good, he likes it—“i just assumed you’d wanna fuck me and not want me to fuck you.”

“i’d be very happy for you to fuck me,” yoongi says. “if that’s what you want, i mean. in my past relationships, i’ve been a switch mostly. i like it however you like it, ‘cause it’s all about our relationship and not what we look or act like, you know?”

jeongguk hums, wiggling a little once he’s ready for yoongi to move his fingers—he does, slowly pumping them in and out, and jeongguk closes his eyes again. “‘kay,” he says, a little belatedly, breath coming heavier now. “okay, but i—shit, still want you to fuck me. for now.”

yoongi snorts at him, brushing their noses together before he says, “we’re getting there,” and then jeongguk just—focuses on the slide of yoongi’s fingers inside of him, moving faster and faster until jeongguk is gasping at the feeling, moaning through it; yoongi scissors his fingers just a little and jeongguk lets out a shrill fuck at the feeling, a spike of pain running through him. it’s mingled in with the pleasure, though, as yoongi leans back and speeds up his fingers, and jeongguk can feel himself getting closer and closer to the edge, but that wasn’t the point

“hyung,” he gasps, hips swivelling. “hyung, please—more—”

yoongi hums, says, “stay still,” and pushes his hips back down to the bed. jeongguk does as he’s told, telling himself not to fuck himself down on yoongi’s fingers, instead waiting for the feeling of a third finger at his rim. he groans a little as it nestles against the other two and then yoongi pushes it in and—jeongguk curses, seeing white for a second, and he aches off of the bed as yoongi keeps going, slow, slow, and the stretch is too much—

“ow, ow, fuck, hyung—” he lets out, tears immediately pricking at his eyes. “hyung, it hurts.” yoongi stops immediately, pulling all three of his fingers out just like that, and jeongguk lets out a wail at the loss, because that’s not what he wants, and now he’s empty and it hurts even more somehow, but yoongi is crawling up his body, pulling the bunny away from him and cupping at his face.

“are you okay?” he asks, worried, and jeongguk groans again.

“i’m fine, s’fine,” he breathes. “please—i just—hyung, put them back.” he chokes on the words, trying to buck his hips upward to get some sort of contact, because it did hurt, but he needs yoongi’s fingers back inside of him, and the first two fingers hurt, too, just for a little. yoongi is hesitant, even with jeongguk whining, although he brings his fingers back to jeongguk’s rim and presses for a second, and then slowly pushes three back inside.

the pain comes back immediately, the stretch too much, and yoongi mutters, “fuck, you’re tight,” and jeongguk tries to hold it in, doesn’t want to be a fucking baby just because yoongi is using three fingers, but yoongi pushes a little more and it hurts so badly that jeongguk actually lets out a choked sob that has yoongi removing his fingers even quicker than the first time.

“shit, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, and jeongguk lets out another dry sob—

“put them back,” he cries. “please, hyung, it’s fine—s’fine, i can do it, i can take them—”

“jeongguk,” says yoongi, cradling his face again. “jeongguk, no, not if it hurts you that badly.”

“i can do it,” jeongguk tells him almost angrily. “i can do it, just—do it again, please, hyung, i can do it. i’ll get used to it.”

he looks at yoongi, looks at yoongi looking back at him, and yoongi just. shakes his head a little. says, “i’m not going to hurt you, jeongguk-ah. we tried, but you’re—you’re not ready, baby.” and jeongguk realizes that it’s not just about yoongi fingering him—because if jeongguk can’t take more than two of yoongi’s fingers, there’s no way he can take yoongi’s cock, and if yoongi isn’t going to work him up to it, that means he won’t fuck jeongguk.

jeongguk stares up at him for a second, hears you’re not ready bouncing around in his head, and he knows, without yoongi having to say it, that they can’t—not tonight, not for the foreseeable future until they work their way up, and. and.

jeongguk bursts into tears.

he’s vaguely aware, through his tears and sobbing, of yoongi grabbing him and moving them until he’s leaning against the headboard and jeongguk is in his lap, slumped against his chest. he’s vaguely aware, through his near-wailing, but yoongi trying to shush him, holding him close, running his hand up and down jeongguk’s back. but he just—he just wanted it so badly, and he’d been so ready, and he loves yoongi so fucking much, but he can’t do this right. he can’t do the one thing that he’s wanted this whole time, all because he’s a virgin and didn’t think he’d not be enough.

“jeongguk-ah,” yoongi is saying into his hair, holding him closer. “jeongguk-ah, baby, it’s okay. it’s okay, stop crying.”

jeongguk lets out another sob, hiding his face in yoongi’s neck as he continues to cry; he can’t stop it, not when he feels so utterly distraught and useless. he’s getting tears all over yoongi’s neck, and his nose is starting to run, but he just—he just—

“it’s okay,” yoongi repeats, rocking him from side to side just enough, and jeongguk clings onto him, feeling stupid and small, but not in a good way. “jeongguk-ah, can you look at me? can you look at hyung?”

jeongguk shakes his head a little, letting out another sob, but yoongi manhandles him anyway—gently grasps at his face and pulls it out of his neck, holding jeongguk upright in front of him. he can’t even see yoongi with how blurred his vision is, wet with tears, but he can feel yoongi wiping at his cheeks already, trying to calm him down.

“why are you so upset?” asks yoongi.

jeongguk hiccups, closing his eyes as more tears fall, but he tries to stop sobbing. when he’s certain he can speak, just a little, he says, “i-i wanna—i wanted you.” there’s not much more he can say. and he knows that he has yoongi, knows that everything they’ve been doing up to this point has been more than enough, but suddenly, it’s not anymore.

“guk-ah,” whispers yoongi, wiping at his tears. “you have me. i’m right here. i’m not going anywhere just because we can’t do more than this.”

“b-but i’m not—not enough,” he says, sniffing as a few more tears escape him, hot on his cheeks. “i can’t do it.”

“this has nothing to do with your worth, jeongguk,” says yoongi firmly. when jeongguk opens his eyes, yoongi is looking at him so fiercely, but still with so much love that it makes him hiccup again, a fresh wave of tears overtaking him. “this has nothing to do with that. you are still you whether or not you can take a dick up your ass, jeongguk. okay?”

“but i wanted—”

“i know you did, baby,” says yoongi, and he finally pulls jeongguk back into him again, hugging him tightly as jeongguk plants his face in yoongi’s neck. “i know you did. and i did, too, but it’s okay. it’s not the end of the world, right? we’ll figure it out. i still—i still want to be with you and i still care about you. our ability to have sex has nothing to do with how i feel about you.”

jeongguk knows that yoongi is right, but he still can’t help feeling distraught, feeling like he’s missing something. it’s both the loss of not being able to have what he wants and feeling like he isn’t enough for yoongi anymore, like yoongi will find someone who he can fuck and doesn’t have to be so slow and gentle with.

“you’re my boyfriend whether or not we sleep together,” yoongi adds, pressing a kiss to jeongguk’s hair. “i really liked you before we even started dating, and i really liked you before we ever did any of this. and i’ll really like you even if we can’t sleep together. even if we never, ever do. i will feel the same way about you no matter how far we go.”

it’s stupid, he thinks. it’s stupid to get so emotional about all of this. he sniffs a little more, trying to will his tears to stop falling, and turns his face so he can breathe properly, right into the crook of yoongi’s neck. “i’m just sad,” he finally whispers.

“okay,” says yoongi. “you can be sad. but i don’t want you to feel like you’re not enough for me, just because we can’t go further.”

jeongguk sniffs—“okay.”

“we’ll work up to it,” says yoongi, petting over his back. “and it’ll make the first time even better. it’s not your fault, okay, jeongguk-ah?” it’s hard to believe, but he’s sure there are other people who have this problem, too. considering it’s his first time, maybe he shouldn’t be that surprised, but it still feels like something has been taken away from him. he just breathes into yoongi’s neck, finally feeling his tears slow, and he wipes at his eyes.

“sorry,” he whispers. “i—i ruined it. m’sorry.”

“you didn’t ruin anything, bun,” yoongi says, pressing another kiss to the top of his head. “don’t be sorry.”

“this was s-supposed to be your night and i fucking—”

“jeongguk, stop. i’m happy to spend any time with you, even if it’s like this. especially if it’s like this, because then i get to take care of you, and that’s what i love doing more than sucking your dick or celebrating me getting an interview. okay? i just want to be with you. i just want you to be happy.”

tears well in jeongguk’s eyes again, but it’s not because of the sadness anymore—it’s because he doesn’t really think he deserves yoongi, not when he’s so kind and good and wants to take care of him. he pulls himself upright again, pouting at yoongi as he tries to stop himself from feeling bad—and he doesn’t think that feeling is really going to go away, at least not right now. he’s still sad, and he’s still going to feel like he ruined something, but he can try not to let that get in the way of their night. because yoongi is right—them being together is better, even if it’s like this.

so he whispers, “okay. i’m still sorry.”

“well, i accept your apology if that makes you feel better,” says yoongi, reaching out to wipe at the last of the tears on his cheeks. “we can just go cuddle on the couch and watch studio ghibli films if you want?”

jeongguk sniffs, considering it. but that almost makes him feel worse, just dropping the whole thing entirely, so he shakes his head. he doesn’t know what he wants—doesn’t even know what they can do, but yoongi just moves his hair out of his eyes, and says, “we can make it work, hm? you still want to do something?”

“yeah,” says jeongguk. “i’m okay. i just—i just want you. please.”

yoongi grins, just a little. then he leans forward until he can kiss jeongguk again, just gently. “okay, baby,” he says. “we could—you could fuck me, if you want?” the idea, while appealing in some aspects, makes jeongguk feel worse, because he doesn’t want that to be their first time.

“maybe next time,” he whispers. “i don’t—i want—”

“okay,” says yoongi quickly. “you don’t have to. how about we... we can pretend.”

he doesn’t know what that means, exactly, but he trusts yoongi—trusts that whatever he wants will be good for jeongguk, because he cares about yoongi. and yoongi makes him lie down again, much like before, propping his legs up. yoongi squeezes more lube onto his fingers, and then leans over jeongguk, saying, “put your legs around me, okay?” jeongguk does, hooking his ankles around the small of yoongi’s back, and then yoongi moves, positioning himself at jeongguk’s entrance—not with his cock, but with his fingers.

he leans over, brushing his lips over jeongguk’s before he slowly pushes two of his fingers back inside jeongguk. he gasps a little, even though he’s stretched that far, at least—but it doesn’t hurt, not the way three fingers did. he relaxes into it immediately, still confused what yoongi means before yoongi begins to move, not just his fingers but his hips as well. his hips press against jeongguk’s, and although his cock is just rubbing against jeongguk’s thigh, it almost—feels like his fingers could be his cock, if jeongguk closes his eyes and suspends belief for a moment.

that’s what he does. he feels yoongi rocking against him, hips beginning to knock against his as he moves his fingers in and out of jeongguk, and he leans over, pressing open mouthed kisses to jeongguk’s neck as he groans. “fuck,” says yoongi. “so tight, baby. feel so good around my cock,” and that’s—not what’s happening at all, but jeongguk lets out a cry, anyway, because. they’re pretending. they’re pretending.

jeongguk moans high in his throat, hand curling into yoongi’s hair as yoongi continues thrusting his hips, fingering him faster. it’s not the same, but he can pretend, of course he can pretend—yoongi keeps murmuring praises into his skin, keeps talking about how good it feels for him even though it’s just his fingers, but it’s not. jeongguk tells himself that it’s not.

he can’t stop himself from crying again, this time overwhelmed with both the feeling of yoongi fucking him with his fingers, gentle and firm, rocking his hips, and from the feeling of being taken care of. yoongi knows what he needs, what he wants—doesn’t stop kissing him, doesn’t stop telling him how good he is, how beautiful, how perfect. jeongguk makes little hiccupping noises through his tears, unable to form words as he loses himself to the pleasure, loses himself in a strange sort of fantasy.

eventually, his breath starts hitching, feeling the pleasure coil in the pit of his stomach tighter and tighter. he tugs at yoongi’s hair a little, not able to form the words to tell him what he needs, but yoongi just kisses his cheek. he says, “wanna come, bun?” and jeongguk nods weakly, tightening the fold of his legs around yoongi.

yoongi starts more staccato thrusts, hips almost slapping against his skin even with his hand awkwardly stuck between them, scissoring his fingers once in a while. jeongguk lets out a gasped moan, and yoongi drops his other hand between them, wrapping it around jeongguk’s cock. he moans at that, too, the contact and end of neglect bringing him closer to the edge, and he wants, wants to pretend that he’s coming on yoongi’s cock, just like that—

he does come like that, with yoongi finger fucking him and a hand on his cock, pliant and needy. it’s with a breathless moan, body going rigid for a moment as he comes between their stomachs and over yoongi’s hand for the second time. yoongi strokes him through it, pumping his fingers a few more times before jeongguk whines and he pulls out, kissing him instead as jeongguk kind of—lies there, unable to move.

eventually, he whispers, “hyung,” and just. just. he needs something, needs yoongi to take care of him, and yoongi whispers, “will you let me try something?” and jeongguk doesn’t think, just nods. he feels spent, but he thinks he’d let yoongi do anything.

what yoongi does do is leaves him, just for a second—unhooks jeongguk’s legs from around him and pushes them together in front of him instead, pressing on either side of his thighs. he folds jeongguk almost in half, peering at jeongguk from around his ankles. “keep your thighs pressed together,” he tells jeongguk, and then—jeongguk understands, suddenly, as he watches yoongi stroke himself a few times, using the lube from his fingers to make it wet enough.

and then he pushes his cock between jeongguk’s thighs, almost nestled up against his own softening cock, and jeongguk just whines, using all of his strength to keep his thighs pressed together, yoongi has one arm wrapped around his knees as he begins to thrust, fucking jeongguk’s thighs like that—almost lazily, chasing some release that he’s clearly already on the verge of coming, and jeongguk hiccups again, blinking a few more tears out of his eyes. it feels—weird, almost, but good, likes the pressure of it as he lets yoongi use him however he wants.

yoongi thrusts into his thighs, the sound of their skin slapping reverberating through the room, and that’s. close enough, jeongguk thinks, he’ll take it, moaning again as yoongi presses a kiss to the outside of his ankle, groaning as his thrusts pick up speed.

“thought about this, too,” breathes yoongi, voice low and ragged. “your thighs are so fucking gorgeous.”

“hyung,” breathes jeongguk, throwing an arm over his eyes at the embarrassment of it; he can’t look anymore, can’t see the head of yoongi’s cock poking in and out of the space between his thighs, can’t see yoongi fall apart like that. and yoongi does—within a minute, his hips are stuttering, desperately fucking between jeongguk’s thighs, and jeongguk presses them a little tighter together as yoongi thrusts one last time and then comes in ropes all over jeongguk’s stomach and chest.

after he’s come down from it, yoongi pulls out, lets jeongguk’s legs fall to the bed with a dull thump. he feels even more spent now, drifting even as he lifts a heavy arm toward yoongi, needing him. he supposes it doesn’t really matter what they actually do as long as it’s the same in the end—yoongi grabbing one of the old shirts on his floor to wipe the come off of jeongguk and then lying down beside him, pulling him in. jeongguk is hot and sweaty, but he doesn’t mind—he curls into yoongi’s chest, lets himself breathe for a while.

quietly, yoongi says, “you did so good.” he curls into jeongguk a little more, holding his tighter. “my baby. i know it wasn’t what you wanted, but i hope it was okay.”

jeongguk makes a noise. “was,” he says after a second. “was good, hyung.”

yoongi presses a kiss to his cheek. “good. you’re so good.”

“gonna sleep,” mumbles jeongguk, already drifting off, unable to keep his eyes open. he kind of wants to be awake to cuddle more, wants to congratulate yoongi again on his interview, wants to play with his new hair. but. he’s so comfortable and feels so safe and loved, and he doesn’t want to move. he wants to always be here, in yoongi’s arms, knowing that yoongi is going to take care of him no matter what.

“goodnight jeon jeongguk,” yoongi whispers into his hair, “who still owns my heart.”

jeongguk is asleep before he even thinks to reply.

yoongi gets the job. it’s several weeks of vague panic and stress, not only leading up to the interview, but then after the interview as yoongi waits for a call back even though he says that the interview went well. jeongguk is confident in him, certain that anyone would be lucky to have yoongi as their employee. especially when he looks the part with his new black hair and fancy clothes that seokjin happily takes him shopping for. you have to prepare for the part before you even get it, he says. that way it’s like you’re demanding that the universe give you what you want. you already put too much money into it for the universe to fuck you over, you know? yoongi had looked over at jeongguk a little helplessly, and jeongguk just grinned.

but—he gets the job. he calls jeongguk in near-tears, and jeongguk demands that someone drive him to hoseok and yoongi’s apartment, and he kind of just hugs yoongi for a really long time, and doesn’t say anything, and doesn’t think he has to.

the celebrating comes after—that weekend, once they can round up the whole gang. jimin and taehyung physically tackle yoongi outside of the bar they meet at, and give him kisses all over his head, and yoongi scowls at them, but jeongguk thinks he secretly likes it—likes being the source of pride for the group now, likes having something that makes him more.

inside the bar, they crowd into a little booth and order three rounds of drinks to start, mostly on jimin’s request.

“i hope you’re paying for that,” says yoongi when the waitress comes back with three separate trays of drinks and shots for them. “i may have a fancy job now, but i’m not getting paid yet.”

“of course you don’t have to pay, hyung,” jimin reassures him. “this is supposed to be celebrating you, so you’re the only one who doesn’t have to pay. speaking of which—toasts!” jeongguk grins, reaching out for one of the drinks despite the fact that jimin ordered a few non-alcoholic ones for him, and yoongi squeezes his knee until the table.

“you don’t have to drink if you don’t want to,” he says, and jeongguk pouts at him.

“i do want to,” he says. “it’s not like i’ve never had alcohol before in my life, yoongi-hyung. and it’s like jimin-hyung said—this is to celebrate you. so i want to take part in it.” yoongi doesn’t have time to argue that point as the others grab their drinks as well, and the round of toasts start.

taehyung starts—“i may not have known you for long, yoongi-hyung,” he says, “but i already know that you’re the perfect person for this job. i’ve really enjoyed my conversations about human resources, and seeing you reach your goal and get the job you want inspires me to reach for my own goals, too.” he raises his glass, and the table gives a little cheer before taking a drink. jeongguk realizes, after he downs a little too much of it, that there are going to be six toasts, and maybe a seventh if seokjin and hoseok demand that yoongi make a speech, which they will.

and maybe his alcohol tolerance is lower than he thought.

but, anyway—“i haven’t known you for long, either,” says jimin, “but i agree with taehyungie. i still think it’s super fucking weird that you’re into human resources when you look like you should be someone’s bodyguard, but you’ve taught me not to judge a book by its cover. or a man by his tattoos.”

namjoon goes next, says, “not only are you a determined and hard-working person, but you’ve really shown your true colours over the past few months of what a good person you are. i’m really happy that you’re reaching your dream and i wish you only success in the future.”

and seokjin says, “you know,” a little too loudly, which means he might have been pre-gaming, which jeongguk wouldn’t put past him—“when jeongguk first brought you home—or i guess you brought jeongguk home… anyway. the first time i met you, i wasn’t sure about you. like jiminie here, i was judging a book by its cover. even after a few months, i wasn’t sure about you, because i was always waiting for the other shoe to drop—i didn’t understand how someone could be so kind, and so generous, and so gentle, no matter what he looked like. but i’ve realized that that’s just… you. there’s no catch to you, yoongi. you’re just a really fucking great person. and you deserve everything this universe wants to give you.”

(jeongguk thinks he sees yoongi wiping inconspicuously at his eyes at that one when everyone gives another cheer and takes a sip of their drinks. under the table, jeongguk pats his thigh.)

across the table from them, hoseok’s eyes are shining. “hyung,” he says, and yoongi’s breath kind of hitches. “i’ve known you for a long time, and for as long as i have known you, the world hasn’t been fair. it’s hurt me a lot to see things thrown back in your face, and opportunities not working out, and life just generally being pretty shitty. but you’ve never given up on yourself, not once. i’ve watched you grow and tried so hard to be like you because—you, min yoongi, are who i want to be when i grow up. you’re all of the things that your friends have said: hard-working and determined and kind and generous and someone who exceeds expectations. but more than that, you’re a fighter. you’ve refused to give up on the things you love, and now… it’s not the world who is rewarding you. it’s you who is taking every inch that you can. and now look at you.” his eyes flicker to jeongguk’s for a second, grin widening. (jeongguk may or may not be crying. it’s fine.) “you’re just getting started,” says hoseok. “and i can’t wait to see what you do next, because i don’t doubt that you’re going to keep fighting. and—fuck you, stop crying or i’ll start.”

“fuck you, stop saying nice shit about me and making me cry,” yoongi shoots back, and the table erupts in laughter—which is better than the tears, probably, because yoongi is crying, and so is hoseok, and jeongguk has to quickly wipe at his own eyes before grabbing his glass, toasting with the rest of them.

and then. everyone looks at him.

“oh,” he says, blinking wide eyes at the group. “i—how am i supposed to follow that?”

“aw, jeonggukkie’s gonna give yoongi-hyung his toast later,” says taehyung with a wiggle of his eyebrows. “if you know what i mean.”

“that’s disgusting,” says jimin, shoving him.

“also true,” says seokjin, and jeongguk’s cheeks burn, dropping his head into his heads. he’s not sure if the insinuation that jeongguk is going to suck yoongi’s dick later—which is probably true, actually—or the idea of saying nice words about yoongi in front of all of their friends is more humiliating, but yoongi saves him by tugging at jeongguk’s wrist until he drops his hands, threading their fingers together in his lap and grabbing his own drink.

“thank you for all of the nice words, though,” he says. “it really means a lot. i’m excited about this job and… actually putting my education and knowledge to good use, and it makes me feel good to have all of your support and to know that you don’t just think i’m the mysterious one of the group.”

you’re the mysterious one of the group?” asks jimin. “i thought that was seokjin-hyung.”

“that’s true, actually,” agrees namjoon. “i’ve lived with him for two years already and i don’t even know what he majored in at university.”

“acting, obviously,” says jeongguk. “since he’s an actor.”

“classical medieval renaissance studies, actually,” says hoseok, “with a minor in acting.” jeongguk stares at him. “and he graduated with honours.”

“how the fuck do you know that,” mutters namjoon.

anyway,” says yoongi, drawing the attention back to himself. “i’m really grateful and thankful and clearly a little emotional about all of this. and i’ll try not to let all of you down by getting fired within the first week. now please stop making me cry and just get shit-faced or something.” the others bang on the table in celebration, cheers-ing one last time in the middle before taking yoongi’s advice very literally; jimin and taehyung down their drinks in one go before grabbing for the next round, and namjoon starts demanding why hoseok knows about seokjin’s major, and seokjin sputters to defend himself, and jeongguk turns to look at yoongi, squeezing his hand.

“i promise i’ll give you a real toast,” he says quietly. “just—not good with words. you know.”

“you don’t need to give me a toast, gukkie,” yoongi tells him, grinning. “you already say enough nice things about me on a daily basis. although i wouldn’t be opposed to the other kind of toast…” jeongguk scoffs, grabbing for his drink, but it’s mostly just to hide how red his cheeks get at the insinuation. they’re there to celebrate yoongi, though, and to have a good time—

and a good time jeongguk does have.

almost immediately after they finish the toasts, he’s pulled out of the booth by jimin and seokjin, who appear to want to take advantage of the fact that jeongguk is actually drinking for once by dragging him to the bar and ordering a ridiculous amount of shots. he giggles at the names, and does not giggle at the way that some of them taste, but seokjin and jimin cheer every time he knocks one back and they all do shots on some weird ski or something and he likes the way they laugh at him when he finishes another shot and pulls a weird face only for them to push another one on him. taehyung and hoseok pull him away after that, pushing real drinks into his hand as they start an impromptu drinking game in the middle of the bar, and the music is loud and his hyungs are having a good time, so. jeongguk likes it.

jeongguk likes it, but he forgets that he probably has a really low alcohol tolerance, and by the time a few hours is up, he can’t see or think straight—not that he could ever really think straight. he thinks very, very gay. especially when it comes to yoongi.

anyway.

he hasn’t seen yoongi since he was pulled out of the booth and shuffled around the bar to drink and dance a little, but this is supposed to be yoongi’s party and he loves yoongi so much and he’s so proud of him, and when he sees hoseok and seokjin disappearing toward the dance floor or—the bathroom, maybe?—jeongguk takes the opportunity to stumble back to their booth, or where he thinks their booth is. he gets a little lost, eyes wide as he tries to see through the low lighting of the bar to where he left his boyfriend, and jimin and taehyung are nowhere to be seen, either, and then—he spots namjoon. namjoon is good.

jeongguk hurries toward him, and finds that he’s still sitting in the booth, and he’s talking to yoongi. “oh,” says jeongguk with a grin as he flops down onto the seat beside yoongi, leaning over and pressing his face into yoongi’s shoulder. “hello yin moongi,” he mumbles.

above him, yoongi giggles, moving his arm so he can wrap it around jeongguk and tug him closer. “hello jeon jeongguk, who is very drunk. and just so you know, i switched the letters of your name, too, but it just doesn’t sound like it because they’re both j’s.”

jeongguk looks up at him, blinking lazily—yoongi is so pretty.

“um,” says yoongi. “thank you.”

he must have said that out loud. which is fine, because it’s true, and yoongi should know how pretty he is, and he can’t believe no one mentioned that during their toasts. he snuggles in a little closer, humming as he throws one of his legs over yoongi’s lap. “i missed you,” he mumbles.

“did your hyungs give you alcohol?” asks yoongi, petting at his hair. jeongguk likes when he does that. “i told them to be cool but apparently that didn’t happen. how about you drink some water, guk-ah?” jeongguk makes a noise, pressing his face further into yoongi’s shoulder or chest or wherever it’s pressed. all he knows is that it smells nice and it’s solid and it’s yoongi, so. he doesn’t mind as long as it’s yoongi.

vaguely, he’s aware of namjoon saying something about going to make sure that jimin and taehyung aren’t trying to con someone out of their expensive watches, and yoongi telling him to check on hoseok and seokjin while he’s at it, because they have a habit of starting dance offs in bars and it never ends well for anyone, least of all seokjin and hoseok.

jeongguk whines, wanting yoongi’s attention on him instead, and he wonders if he’s drunk. and he wonders if this means he’s a clingy drunk, although he’s clingy when he’s sober, too, so. so. yoongi’s hand is back in his hair and jeongguk hums when he feels yoongi press a kiss to the top of his head, and he likes that much better.

“baby? water?” says yoongi, and jeongguk reluctantly straightens up and then just opens his mouth, waiting for the water. yoongi chuckles at him, but lifts the glass to his lips anyway, helping him drink before jeongguk swallows and then licks his lips as yoongi puts the glass down.

then he turns and slumps against yoongi’s shoulder again, pressing a sloppy kiss to his cheek. “thanks, hyung,” he giggles. “you’re like, the best ever. my favourite hyung. but don’t tell the others, ‘cause i don’t want them to get jealous.”

“okay, i won’t,” says yoongi, patting his knee.

“‘member when we met?” mumbles jeongguk, leaning his head against yoongi’s shoulder and closing his eyes. “thought you were like, the hottest person in the world. i wanted to suck your dick on your bike.”

yoongi makes this choked sound, then says, “i don’t think that’s true.”

“yes, it is,” says jeongguk. “wanna do it. can i do it? can i, can i, ca—”

“sure,” says yoongi. “whatever you want, bun.”

not bun. m’not a bunny.”

“no? then what are you?”

jeongguk thinks about it for a second, trying to wade through the hazy thoughts from the alcohol. he loses track of it for a second when he thinks about yoongi too hard, and loops his arm through yoongi’s to be a little closer, not wanting to let him go. he never wants to let yoongi go, always misses him when yoongi drops him off at home and then drives away, which he should never do, and they should move in together, jeongguk decides. he’ll have to ask.

“still with me?” yoongi asks gently, tapping his cheek. jeongguk makes a humming noise. “where’d you go?”

“like when you call me little one,” he finally says, squishing his cheek into yoongi’s shoulder. he thinks about yoongi calling him any pet name and it has his toes curling, but when yoongi grasps his chin and tilts his head up, leaning over until his lips are hovering just near his ear, and whispers, “little one,” jeongguk’s entire stomach drops out from under him.

he feels himself curling up, tingles shooting up and down his spine, and yoongi giggles at him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “honey bun,” he continues. “sweetheart. baby boy. my banana chocolate chip muffin.”

jeongguk giggles, trying to turn his face toward yoongi. “m’not food, hyung.”

“you sure? ‘cause i could eat you right up.”

“or you could eat my ass.”

yoongi chokes on his own spit, and jeongguk giggles, not wanting to admit that he has thought about it. before he can elaborate, though, he’s distracted by a cheer going up from the dance floor and he turns toward it, wanting to be part of the action too—and then he hears the song, and. he doesn’t even know what song it is, but he immediately turns back to yoongi, eyes wide. “hyung! hyung, i wanna dance!” he exclaims, already trying (and failing) to get out of the booth, feeling like his limbs don’t want to work. “please, please hyung, dance with me, i wanna daaa

“okay, we can dance,” says yoongi, reaching out and steadying him as they both get out of the booth. “don’t hurt yourself, baby.” but jeongguk just grabs yoongi’s hand and starts pulling him toward the dance floor, already bouncing up and down to the beat of the song.

it’s less dancing, more jeongguk almost falling over his own feet as yoongi holds his hands and makes sure that he stays upright. on a good day, he figures he’s a very good dancer, but the combination of the alcohol and his enthusiasm and yoongi is doing his head in, and he doesn’t mind. yoongi is smiling at him anyway, laughing as jeongguk swings their arms and wiggles around, and that’s. enough. that’s always going to be enough, just to make yoongi laugh, just to know that he’s as happy together as jeongguk is.

he used to worry that yoongi was going to get rid of him when he found someone more interesting, someone more like him. jeongguk can be a burden sometimes, he thinks—because he’s not as experienced, doesn’t know as many things. he’s trying his best, but he’s still four years younger than yoongi, and now yoongi has a big, fancy job and jeongguk is still trying to make something of himself. but right now, in the midst of his drunkenness and a loud song and yoongi smiling at him, he thinks—who the fuck cares? who cares if they’re not the same, who cares if they have problems sometimes, as long as they work them out? who cares what anyone thinks about their relationship? this isn’t for anyone else to see, isn’t for anyone else to decide. they’re good for each other. jeongguk knows they’re good for each other.

eventually, jeongguk gets kind of tired. the music changes again and again, and everything hits him at once; it’s been hours since they first started drinking, and jeongguk just hits a wall, and he stops moving, staring at yoongi as everyone continues to dance around them. he lets out a little sigh.

“tired?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk gives a little nod; it feels like he’s burned up all of his energy at once, and now everything is just very slow and sluggish. he could go for some waffles, but he can always go for some waffles, so that probably has nothing to do with the alcohol.

yoongi tugs jeongguk forward by the hands, and jeongguk stumbles into him, letting yoongi wrap his arms around jeongguk’s neck and sway them a little—slow dancing in the middle of a bar, when the song is something loud and pounding and everyone is jumping around them. jeongguk likes that, he thinks—makes sense. they’re always going against what other people expect of them, and he wraps his arms around yoongi’s waist, leaning his head against yoongi’s arm.

“m’really proud of you,” he mumbles. “for the job. just so you know.”

“i know,” says yoongi.

“i think you can do whatever you want to. ‘cause you’re the best person ever and really smart and pretty and i love—” jeongguk pauses to yawn, cutting himself off in the middle of his sentence. once he’s finished, though, he can’t really remember what he was saying.

yoongi’s grinning at him, though, rocking up on his toes to press a kiss to jeongguk’s forehead. “ready to go home, baby?”

“yeah,” sighs jeongguk. “i’m tired, hyung. can we get waffles?”

“how about we get waffles tomorrow? when you’re not super drunk and about to fall asleep on me?”

“okay,” he says as yoongi gives him another kiss, and then another and another until jeongguk is giggling and pushing him away, and then just as quickly reaching out for him when he realizes how unsteady he is on his feet. yoongi takes his hands and leads him back to their booth, where namjoon, jimin, and taehyung have taken up residence, locked in some intense debate that jeongguk isn’t going to try to understand. hoseok and seokjin are still missing, suspiciously.

“what if they bone in my bed,” he mumbles, and yoongi turns to look at him with furrowed brows.

“who?” he asks, and jeongguk doesn’t remember who he was talking about anyway, so he just shrugs.

yoongi turns back to the group. “i’m gonna take the little one home,” he says. “no thanks to all of you for getting him drunk in the first place. but thanks again for the celebration, and i’ll text you guys tomorrow about a hangover breakfast?”

“thank fuck,” sighs jimin. “i’ve been craving some greasy food for ages and this gives me an excuse.”

yoongi tugs on his hand again, reaching over to grab jeongguk’s coat from the booth and then saying, “say goodbye, jeongguk-ah.”

“goodbye, jeongguk-ah,” he mumbles, and he swears jimin and taehyung coo at him, saying their goodbyes as yoongi pulls him out of the bar and drives him home, back to jeongguk’s apartment.

by the time they get there, he’s even more tired, and yoongi has to manhandle him up the few steps and through the door, and then into his bedroom. he starts pulling off jeongguk’s clothes—shoes, shirt, socks. jeongguk lets out a little groan, wiggling his toes at yoongi. he’s finding it hard to form words, suddenly, but he feels like he’s missing something—and then he remembers that he didn’t get to say his toast.

“hyung,” he begins, making grabby hands as yoongi pulls off his jeans. “i gotta—toast.”

“you don’t gotta toast, gukkie,” says yoongi as he grabs pajamas for jeongguk and starts putting them on him, manhandling his limbs to make it work. jeongguk lets hem, pouting as yoongi pulls the shirt over his head.

“min yoongi,” he begins loudly, a little aggressively. “you—are nice. very nice. hm.” he narrows his eyes as yoongi puts his arms through the sleeves of the shirt, grinning at him. “yes. i like you and your face. your moles… are pretty. wanna lick ‘em.” yoongi snorts, but jeongguk reaches out and puts his hand on yoongi’s face to stop him from talking. “i got something to say! listen… hyung. listen.”

“i’m listening,” whispers yoongi, and jeongguk reaches out with both hands, grabbing yoongi’s face and pulling him a little closer so he can’t move.

he thinks for a long moment, wanting to get it right. “you’re the one who pushed me to join a singing group,” he says. “and it didn’t really work out the first time, but then you supported me in finding another one and making sure it was the right one. you’re the one who made me feel confine—condi—confident in my singing. you’re the one who has made me feel more okay about it than anyone ever has, even though we’ve only known each other for a little bit. you always make me feel like i’m good enough and that my singing is good enough and that i can do it if i keep working at it and trying and improving. you make me feel… good. you make me good.”

jeongguk pauses, patting yoongi’s cheek. “so i’m really happy that you’re being confident in yourself and feeling like you can do what you want, too, and getting a big adult job even though that makes you like ten times cooler than me now,” he continues. “you make you good, too.”

yoongi sniffs. and jeongguk didn’t mean to make him cry because he was kind of just saying words, but he thinks he got the point across. he’s not good with words and never has been, but alcohol does him well for once. yoongi turns his head a little, kissing jeongguk’s palm as he whispers, “thank you,” and jeongguk grins before letting go and flopping back against the bed.

“okay, enough talking,” he says. “i’m sleepy. my mouth hurts.”

yoongi makes him drink more water, and then brushes his teeth for him, and then tucks him into bed before slipping in beside him. jeongguk feels—warm, feels good. the alcohol is wearing off just slightly, but not enough for everything to stop being hazy. it all feels like a bit of a dream as he cuddles into yoongi’s chest, and then stops to reach out for—august. he hand collides with the cat and he squishes it in between he and yoongi’s chests, although a little too hard before suddenly yoongi’s voice comes from the cat, saying, “hello jeongukkie. can you stop trying to suck my dick every time you see me because you like my new hair? i understand and appreciate it, but also sometimes we’re in public.

jeongguk giggles, reaching over to tug at a few strands of yoongi’s hair. he really does like it, more than he thought he would, considering how attached he was to the mint. he doesn’t have much to say, just watching as his hand comes to rest against yoongi’s cheek, thumb tracing over his cheekbone. yoongi’s watching him, something soft and careful in his eyes.

“hey,” says yoongi after a second. “when you made august, you made a wish on his heart, but you never told me what it was.”

jeongguk hums. he forgot about that, but now that yoongi mentions it, it comes back to him—the one thing he’d thought when he had made a wish on august’s heart. that was back when he and yoongi were barely friends, only weeks after they’d met and he was trying to find any excuse to spend more time with yoongi outside of yoongi driving him to work. it’s been months; now they’ve been dating for almost four whole months, which is a long time. but to think that he didn’t even know yoongi eight months ago makes him realize how much as happened since then.

he drops his head, burrowing a little into yoongi’s neck, not really wanting to look at him as he admits it. “i wished that you’d be happy,” he whispers. “and if that meant being with me, then that was okay. and if it meant not being with me, then that was okay, too. i just wanted you to be happy no matter what it looked like.”

he feels yoongi’s hand in his hair, feels his lips pressing against his head. “i am happy,” he whispers. “i’m really happy with you.”

there’s something warm in his chest, growing and growing. the seed from weeks ago, when he first thought that he loved yoongi, blossoms into something delicate and special, something that he’s no longer afraid to hold. he grins into yoongi’s chest, tangling their legs a little more, because—he doesn’t think there needs to be much more said here.

“goodnight min yoongi,” he whispers, “who makes me happy too.”

yoongi kisses the top of his head again. “goodnight jeon jeongguk,” he says, “the love of my life.”

jeongguk almost doesn’t catch it, doesn’t get it—and then he pulls his face out of yoongi’s neck so fast he almost gives himself whiplash, blinking himself away as he stares at yoongi’s face. yoongi stares back. and then—“really?” he asks quietly.

“yeah,” breathes yoongi. “yeah, jeongguk-ah. i love you.” he says it, just—just like that, just like it’s easy. like he’s said it before, held it on his tongue, like he’s been waiting to say it to jeongguk the same way that jeongguk has been waiting to say it to yoongi, and he doesn’t mean to start crying, but suddenly there are tears in his eyes anyway and he’s finding it a little hard to breathe, and yoongi reaches for him, pulls him back, knocks their foreheads together. “jeongguk, i really, really love you. you make me good, too, you know? you make me really good. and i love you. and you don’t have to—”

“i love you, too,” whispers jeongguk. “i love you, too, hyung. i feel like i’ve loved you forever. i just—i was scared to say it. to make it real.”

“it is real,” says yoongi. “it’s okay. you don’t have to be scared.”

“m’not,” says jeongguk, rubbing his nose against yoongi’s. “i’m not anymore. you make me feel safe.” and he can feel yoongi grinning, can just tell. he leans in, brushing their lips together for just a second, and then finally kisses jeongguk—kisses him drunk, kisses him sober.

kisses him love, love, love.

jeongguk swings his leg over the bike, stepping onto the curb and looking up at the building with wide eyes. he’s never been here before—which is probably a good thing—but it doesn’t look bad from the outside, so he’s going to be optimistic. he hears yoongi turn the bike off, and then turns around to let yoongi take his helmet off, too, before he peeks another glance at the building.

it’s a hospital—that’s where yoongi got hired. jeongguk is only slightly worried that yoongi is going to catch something, but he’s reassured jeongguk several times that he won’t actually be working with the patients, but instead the employees. which only calmed jeongguk somewhat.

“you know where the bus stop is from here?” asks yoongi, tapping jeongguk’s forehead to get his attention. “i told you that i could just drop you off at work first and you didn’t have to come all the way here with me.”

“i’m the one dropping you off, hyung,” says jeongguk. “it’s important. and tradition. even though i have to take the bus all the way back across town, but that’s fine.” it is important—yoongi has been driving jeongguk to work most mornings for almost eight months, so it’s only right that jeongguk ‘drop off’ yoongi on his first day of work. he won’t really be able to drive jeongguk to work anymore because their schedules clash, but they’ll make it work. that’s what adults in loving, communication-filled relationships do, right?

he takes a moment to fix yoongi’s hair, making sure it’s laying right on his head. he fixes his tie, too, proud to see yoongi all cleaned up in his adult clothes. “you’ll do great,” says jeongguk. “but don’t be afraid to call me if someone bullies you.”

“they’re not gonna bully me.”

“but if they do—”

“i’ll let you beat them up,” winks yoongi, and jeongguk grins before he lets out a little sigh. he really is proud of yoongi for this, and he can’t begin to put it into words. he’ll miss yoongi driving him to work every morning, but it’s okay because they get to hang out during the evenings all they want and jeongguk is going to make sure that yoongi keeps his promise of letting jeongguk suck his dick on the bike.

but for now—he smooths his hands down yoongi’s chest, grinning. and then he grabs his tie, tugging him in for a gentle kiss that jeongguk presses to his lips. “good luck,” he says when he pulls back. “have a good day at work.”

“goodbye jeon jeongguk,” says yoongi as he steps around him, walking backward toward the doors, “love of my life.”

“goodbye min yoongi,” jeongguk calls back, and he only blushes a little—“love of mine.” and that’s true. and jeongguk just keeps fucking blooming.

Chapter Text

yoongi picks up on the third ring, filling jeongguk’s laptop screen with his face—slightly dishevelled, although still wearing a button-up shirt and tie, now half undone. jeongguk knows he’s just walked through the door, but he can’t feel bad about it as he lies on his stomach in front of his own laptop, hugging a whole three of his stuffed animals to his chest, hiding his face partially behind one.

“hi, baby,” says yoongi, and he sounds tired.

“hi, hyung,” says jeongguk quietly, almost breathlessly; he presses his mouth into the stuffed animal against it—august, maybe. makes his heart hurt a little more. he watches as yoongi pulls on his tie, just sitting on the edge of the bed and craning down so jeongguk can see more of him.

belatedly, yoongi asks, “did you have a good day?”

“s’okay,” mumbles jeongguk, picking at one of the stickers on his laptop. “had work until four, and then jimin-hyung, taehyungie-hyung, and hobi-hyung picked me up for dinner later.”

“did you convince them to go for waffles?” asks yoongi, a thread of amusement in his voice, but it doesn’t quite make jeongguk laugh.

“no,” he says. “tae-hyung doesn’t like waffles, remember?”

a pause, and then—“is that why you’re pouting?”

jeongguk looks up from the sticker he’s already picked the corner off of, meeting yoongi’s eyes through the laptop screen. even though the quality is kind of shitty, because the work laptop that the hospital gave yoongi is kind of shitty, jeongguk tries to take a moment to admire his boyfriend. he really does look good in his professional get-up, even with him now having pulled off the tie and run a hand through his hair so it’s sticking up a little thanks to the product in it. but he’s grinning at jeongguk, teasing, and he’s seen that look enough times to know it inside and out without needing yoongi here to see it.

he drops his eyes again, dropping his chin onto the pile of stuffies in his arms as he goes back to picking at the sticker. “no,” he mumbles, and he hears yoongi’s breathy chuckle through the tinny speakers of his laptop before the sounds move away, meaning yoongi has gotten off of the bed and is probably changing out of his work clothes.

“then why are you pouting?” asks yoongi. “you got free food out of your hyungs and i bet they were pretty entertaining, so you should be happy.” the truth is that he did get food out of his hyungs—although it’s a common occurrence at this point so it’s not much to celebrate anymore. hoseok, jimin, and taehyung were especially chaotic, likely in an attempt to cheer jeongguk up and distract him, and it worked for the few hours they were together. but now jeongguk is back at home, hiding in his room with the lights off and all of his blankets piled on top of him.

and no yoongi.

“jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, and when jeongguk looks up, he can see him pulling on his shirt a little further in the frame. “did you at least thank them?”

“yes, hyung,” says jeongguk, pushing his bottom lip out a little further. yoongi probably can’t even make out the details on his laptop, anyway. “it was very nice of them to take care of me.”

“we’ll go out for waffles first thing on monday, okay?”

“i have work on monday.”

“first thing after you’re off work.”

jeongguk thinks on it for a moment before he huffs, squishing himself a little further into the bed. and then yoongi laughs again, louder now, and jeongguk looks up to see him grabbing the laptop, moving around until he’s on his bed, too, leaning against the headboard. he doesn’t mean to be in a bad mood, but he can’t really help it. and he can’t help that being in a bad mood means he doesn’t like to talk much, and he pouts a lot, and he just wants someone to cuddle him, but. namjoon is at the library, because he’s always at the library. seokjin is out with other friends. jimin and taehyung live too far away. hoseok cuddled him last night.

and yoongi—well. that’s the problem, isn’t it?

“what did you learn today?” jeongguk asks quietly, because hearing yoongi talk always makes him feel better, even if he doesn’t understand half of what yoongi says. but yoongi understands that, too, and he easily slips into an explanation of his day, going into ridiculous detail just so jeongguk has an excuse to keep listening to his voice. yoongi’s at some work training thing out of town for the weekend—jeongguk kind of stopped paying attention to the details once yoongi told him that he would be gone for a whole three days. and maybe three days isn’t that much, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s also the longest he’s gone without seeing yoongi since they started dating.

and maybe he’s been feeling particularly needy lately, considering yoongi starting his new job has meant that they have less time to be together in the first place. yoongi can’t drive him to work anymore, which means they can only see each other after work, but singing lessons and yoongi’s own life and both of them being busy with other things means it’s not been easy. it’s only been a few weeks, and although yoongi loves his job, jeongguk can’t help feeling needier and clingier than usual.

but. yoongi is halfway across the country. all jeongguk has is a shitty skype call and yoongi telling him about his day and the weight of his blankets over him, pretending that it’s more. (yoongi made sure to record a whole slough of messages in his build-a-bear toys, so. that’s nice. it might have made jeongguk cry the first night.)

ten minutes later, after jeongguk has closed his eyes and stopped really listening to what yoongi saying, just listening to his voice, he hears yoongi ask, “did you fall asleep on me, bunny?”

“m’not a bunny,” jeongguk mumbles, much to yoongi’s delight as he laughs again. jeongguk cracks an eye open, watching the grainy picture of yoongi through the screen.

“really, guk-ah,” says yoongi. “what’s got you so upset?”

jeongguk wrinkles his nose. he doesn’t want to admit it, because they talked about this—it’s not only good for yoongi’s job to do the training, but it’s also a requirement. and jeongguk certainly couldn’t come along with him, and he should probably be able to be away from his boyfriend for three days. and he can be—jeongguk is an adult and he can be away from yoongi for three days.

but what’s so wrong about missing him?

“you know it’s been like, two days,” says yoongi, and jeongguk lets out a whine, stuffing his face back in the stuffies. “i’m pretty sure we’ve gone two days without seeing each other.”

“it’s different when i can’t see you,” he grumbles. “even if i wanted to. which i do.”

“you can see me,” says yoongi. “through your laptop. the amazing powers of technology allow us—”

stop,” whines jeongguk, although he lifts his face again to look at yoongi. his cheeks colour just slightly, knowing that yoongi is teasing him, but. but. “you can’t say you don’t miss me, too.”

“i do miss having someone to be my personal heater at night,” agrees yoongi. “these hotel rooms are fucking freezing no matter how high i crank the temperature.”

jeongguk pouts a little harder. “whatever,” he grumbles. “i just. i really miss you, hyung. and i need a hug but you’re not here to give me one and that just makes me miss you more and it’s—stupid. it’s stupid, whatever.”

“it’s not stupid,” says yoongi, a little softer. “i do miss you too, you know. but tomorrow is the last day of training and i’ll be home monday afternoon and like i said, i’ll pick you up from work and we can spend the rest of the day together, okay? we can do whatever you want.”

maybe it’s the fact that jeongguk has never had a boyfriend to miss. maybe it’s because yoongi makes him happy. maybe it’s because he loves yoongi so much that it makes his heart ache sometimes, even when they’re together, and it just makes his heart ache even more when they’re apart. he’ll survive, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling this way when yoongi is gone.

jeongguk lets out a little sigh, raising his eyes to look at yoongi. “okay, hyung,” he whispers.

“i love you, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi, and jeongguk’s cheeks go red against his will—that’s been for weeks, too, but he still can’t help getting flustered whenever yoongi says it. he hides his face in his stuffies again, whining a little as yoongi laughs on the other end. “aren’t you gonna say it back?”

“no.”

“then i guess i’ll just have to hang u—”

no!” exclaims jeongguk, looking up quickly enough that he sees spots. “i love you, too. don’t hang up.”

yoongi grins. “wasn’t so hard, was it?”

jeongguk sighs. “speaking of hard…

“what, i’ve been gone for two days and suddenly you don’t know how to rub one out without me?”

hyung.” jeongguk groans, although—that kind of is the other problem. jeongguk’s been feeling particularly horny and although he knows damn well how to deal with that on his own and did deal with it on his own well before yoongi came along, it’s just not the same anymore. and he doesn’t think he’d want to do it on his own when he’s feeling needy anyway.

still—there’s that shift, just enough. when jeongguk picks back at the screen, yoongi is watching him with a faint smirk on his lips and his hair is still a bit of a mess, and jeongguk just. needs something. just talking to yoongi helps him feel better, but yoongi could make him feel better in other ways.

“what do you want hyung to do, hm?” asks yoongi. “you can tell me.”

“ugh,” says jeongguk. “this is so embarrassing.”

“it’s not like i haven’t seen your dick before. and put it in my mouth.”

“i’m not gonna—whip it out!”

“why not?” asks yoongi. “there’s no one else here. i’ll put headphones in so no one can hear you moaning like your life depends on it.”

“oh my god.”

“i think it’s cute. you sound very cute when you’re getting off.”

jeongguk’s cheeks flare even more, although he thought it wouldn’t be possible. he’s far from looking at yoongi now, far from wanting to get his dick out and have yoongi talk him through getting off—because even though it’s a very tempting and appealing idea, he just knows that he’d never hear the end of it, and yoongi teases him enough as it is. “i’m not cute,” he argues. “you’re supposed to think i’m sexy when i’m getting off.”

“i also think you’re sexy when you’re getting off. but like, a cute kind of sexy. like, you always do this thing where you close your eyes and your forehead pinches and you whine in the back of your—”

jeongguk’s door opens.

he reaches out for his laptop in an instant, slamming it shut as he turns to stare at the two figures silhouetted in the doorway. the light from the hallway spills into his room, and jeongguk only now realizes just how flustered he is, cheeks bright red and a very thin sheen of sweat on his forehead.

the lights turn on, blinding him for a moment before he blinks and sees—

“jeon jeongguk!” exclaims seokjin, running into the room and flopping down on top of jeongguk. “we’re here to cuddle you. but first—what were you doing on your laptop that you needed to hide so badly from us?”

hyung,” wheezes jeongguk, trying to squirm out from under him, but namjoon just joins the pile as well, flopping onto the bed beside him.

“was it porn?” asks namjoon.

“oh my god, no.”

“you look awfully hot and bothered right now,” says namjoon. “doesn’t he, hyung?”

jeongguk feels hands on his face, awkwardly craning his head backwards as seokjin gets a look at him from on top of him, still squishing him into the bed. “damn, you’re right, namjoon-ah,” says seokjin. “he does look hot and bothered. were you watching porn?”

“i was talking to yoongi-hyung!”

apparently that’s the wrong thing to say, because both namjoon and seokjin pause before seokjin says, “oh, so… you were having skype sex.”

jeongguk groans, burying his face in his stuffies. “get out of my room.”

“you were totally having skype sex!” crows seokjin. “that’s disgusting. hasn’t he only been gone for a day?”

“two,” corrects jeongguk.

“gross. i don’t want to know how active their sex life is normally, then,” says seokjin. he pats the top of jeongguk’s head and slides off of him and off of the bed, pulling namjoon with him as he adds, “well, we’ll leave you to that. tell yoongi that we miss him, too!”

“tell him to come back soon so you stop sulking everywhere,” adds namjoon, and jeongguk gives them the finger without looking, well aware that they said they were going to come in to cuddle him—which is actually what he does want, but not if they think he’s jacking off under the blankets.

he waits for a full minute after they’ve left his room and closed the door before pulling out his phone to continuing speaking to yoongi in lieu of opening his laptop again, figuring that yoongi doesn’t need to see his face. this way, jeongguk can deal with the teasing over text only, which is remarkably easy when he can just not look.

yoongi does tease him. jeongguk does no rubbing of anything that night, especially when yoongi sends him a voice recording saying goodnight jeon jeongguk, whom i miss very much, and he has to stop himself from just being sad instead.

when yoongi comes home, they go out for waffles, like jeongguk wanted. he doesn’t let go of yoongi for even one second, even though they’re in public and he knows yoongi isn’t a huge fan of pda, but. he doesn’t complain, so jeongguk doesn’t stop himself from being clingy.

when they get to yoongi’s apartment, the door has barely been close for a few seconds before jeongguk has grabbed yoongi and pressed their lips together, something eager and desperate about it—and it was just three days, but jeongguk can feel something building up inside of him that needs to get out, and he finds his release in pressing yoongi against the back of the door and kissing him hard, kissing him deep. yoongi laughs into his mouth, hands grasping at jeongguk’s waist as he tries to speak.

“i’m,” he begins as jeongguk kisses him again, again, again—“we’re not—hoseok

“don’t care about hoseok,” breathes jeongguk, tugging at yoongi’s bottom lip with his teeth before kissing it better, hands holding either side of yoongi’s face.

“hm, no,” says yoongi, tipping his head against the back of the door, and jeongguk takes the opportunity to kiss down his jaw, down the side of his neck instead. “hoseok’s here.

on cue, jeongguk hears footsteps padding into the entrance behind him, and hoseok’s surprised, “oh. shit.” the responsible thing is probably to keep it in his pants for the night, or at least until they can work something out. but jeongguk isn’t interested in that, instead dragging his lips back up the side of yoongi’s neck and face, right to his ear.

“yeah,” he breathes, nipping at yoongi’s earlobe. “but i’ve been thinking about it, and i’m ready.”

yoongi makes a noise in the back of his throat. “for… for what?”

“i want to fuck you.”

there’s a moment where jeongguk isn’t sure that’s going to work—they’ve been going farther and farther since the first time, trying to fix the little problem of jeongguk being too tight, but. jeongguk has been thinking about what yoongi said that night, about how he’s more than happy to bottom in the meantime, even not in the meantime. jeongguk did miss him—still does, doesn’t feel close enough even like this. maybe he did actually rub one out last night thinking about it after yoongi said goodnight. maybe. no one has to know.

anyway—jeongguk takes a step away from yoongi, levelling him with small smirk of his own before he turns around and struts further into the apartment. “hi, hobi-hyung,” he says as he passes hoseok, winking before he disappears around the corner and heads for yoongi’s bedroom. he waits by the door, straining to hear at the entrance as he waits and hopes and—it has to work, right?

a terse moment, and then—“get out,” says yoongi.

“what?” asks hoseok. “hyung, c’mon, it’s like nine. where am i going to go?”

jung hoseok, i swear to god if you don’t leave this apartment right fucking now

“jesus, fine. you better sexile joon and seokjin-hyung sometime, too.”

“thank you.”

“and don’t fuck on the couch.”

jeongguk turns his face into the doorframe, giggling for a second before he hears the door open and close, hoseok muttering darkly under his breath the whole time. and then, peeking around the door, he sees yoongi round the corner of the hallway and pause, catching sight of him. despite the show of confidence just seconds earlier, jeongguk’s stomach suddenly flips, equal parts nervous and excited.

yoongi leans against the wall for a second, cocking his eyebrow at jeongguk, and jeongguk worries at his bottom lip, partially hiding behind the door frame like he didn’t just make yoongi kick his own roommate out.

“oh hey,” says yoongi. “fancy meeting you here.”

“fancy that,” whispers jeongguk.

yoongi takes a step forward, reaching over his back to grab at his hoodie and pull it off, tossing it onto the ground as he approaches jeongguk. “what was that you said earlier?” he asks as he runs a hand through his hair, and jeongguk’s stomach swoops again, deeper now, as he takes a step back into yoongi’s bedroom. he’s already trying to get his own arms out of his sweater sleeves, almost tripping on something left on yoongi’s floor.

when he doesn’t answer, though, yoongi raises an eyebrow, pulling off his shirt, as well. “where’d all that confidence go, huh?” he asks.

“i’m a panicked gay, hyung,” says jeongguk, finally managing to pull his sweater off. “the confident gay comes out very periodically and only for short periods of time.”

“i’ve noticed,” says yoongi, grinning now, and jeongguk can’t help giggling, stopping his retreat once he hits the end of yoongi’s bed, letting yoongi advance on him instead, reaching out for his waist again. “gotta ask nicely, though.”

jeongguk almost rolls his eyes at the teasing, although he should have expected it. after a second, he does his best to put off how strangely embarrassing it is to say it, looks yoongi dead in the eye, and asks, “hyung-nim, can i please stick my dick inside of your ass?”

that’s how they end up here: yoongi three fingers deep in his own ass, the sound of lube squelching through the silence of the room, and jeongguk desperately rutting up against his thigh, trying not to come before he even gets his dick anywhere near yoongi’s ass. he can’t help it—can’t help it with the sounds yoongi makes as he fucks himself with his fingers, opening himself up for jeongguk, using his other hand to keep a firm grasp on jeongguk’s neck as they kiss. or—jeongguk tries to kiss yoongi as yoongi breathes into his mouth, jaw slack as he works at himself. jeongguk won’t let himself look, the heat never wavering in the pit of his stomach as he weakly ruts against yoongi’s thigh again, again, just trying to find friction.

“fuck,” hisses yoongi against jeongguk’s lips. “s’been a while since i’ve done this.”

“done what?” asks jeongguk, pulling back enough to look at yoongi’s face: hair already sweat slicked against his forehead, lips swollen and red.

“let someone fuck me,” laughs yoongi. “actually, it’s been a while since i fucked someone, too.”

jeongguk almost blushes for some reason, pressing a kiss to yoongi’s lips again as he stills his hips. “it’ll be both of our first times then, kinda,” he says. “cute.”

“that’s so cheesy,” says yoongi, but he chuckles anyway, and then lets out another groan as his head falls forward on jeongguk’s shoulder, catching himself in some pleasure—and jeongguk almost wishes he were the one working yoongi open instead, wishes he were the one making him make those sounds and that face. but he knows he will be, if he can be patient. it’s just—he’s missed yoongi so much and even now, completely naked and touching, it’s not enough. it’s never going to be enough, not when it comes to yoongi.

he presses a kiss to the side of yoongi’s face, then, trailing his hand down yoongi’s chest and bypassing his cock—down down down until their hands knock together, until he can feel. he sees it through touch alone, how yoongi is pumping his fingers in and out of himself, hand covered in lube. jeongguk has barely pressed his finger against yoongi’s stretched rim when yoongi lets out a loud curse and removes his hand entirely, grabbing jeongguk’s wrist to pull his hand away too. and then he rolls off of jeongguk, flopping onto his back and pulling jeongguk with him until they’ve switched positions.

“‘kay,” he says, nose knocking against jeongguk’s cheek. “okay, baby, i’m ready.” he finds jeongguk’s lips, kisses him softly. “need help?”

“i’m not a baby,” jeongguk mumbles, clambering onto his knees between yoongi’s legs as yoongi grabs a pillow and props his hips up with it, reaching for the open bottle of lube and the condom on the side table. yoongi grins at him, though, laughing, and jeongguk—can do it himself, but his hands tremble a little anyway, still nervous and excited and extremely high strung. he’s so hard that he could almost cry, needing release however it’s going to come, and still, he’s well aware that this is the first time they’re actually going to fuck properly.

he doesn’t want to get it wrong. but he can’t even get the goddamn condom wrapper open, fingers fumbling with it for a few seconds before he drops it and he lets out a curse.

“guk-ah, baby,” laughs yoongi, and jeongguk pouts as he picks up the condom and silently hands it to yoongi. how stupid, he thinks, that he’s about to fuck his boyfriend and he can’t even get the condom wrapper open. but yoongi just rips it with his teeth, foregoing using his hands at all and hands the condom back to jeongguk, who rolls it on and squeezes a generous amount of lube onto his cock before spreading it a little.

and then he—pauses, looking up to yoongi, who is just waiting for him. always waiting. they’ve been dating for just over four months now, and yoongi just—waited. he never pushed jeongguk to do anything that he didn’t want to, never asked of him anything that jeongguk didn’t want to give. and yoongi looks very delectable lying there with his own hard cock already leaking onto his stomach and his chest heaving and his hole stretched, but for a moment, jeongguk just—sits.

“what?” asks yoongi. “did you forget to turn off the oven?”

“i just love you,” says jeongguk quietly. “i just really, really love you. did you know that?”

yoongi’s expression softens, a grin curling on his lips as he gestures to jeongguk to come closer, and jeongguk sits up on his knees, crawling between yoongi’s legs and leaning down as yoongi reaches for him. he slips a hand around jeongguk’s neck and just holds him there, pressing their foreheads together. “i know,” says yoongi. “did you know that i just really, really love you, too?”

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk, closing his eyes.

“okay,” says yoongi. “glad we got that cleared up. you wanna fuck hyung now?” it’s probably meant to be teasing, but jeongguk is far beyond that, just nodding a little before he pulls away, taking hold of his cock and lining it up with yoongi’s rim. he knows it’s not the first time yoongi has done this, but it’s the first time jeongguk has, and he trembles a little as he lines himself up, watching as yoongi reaches down and guides him silently, and that’s what he likes, too—that yoongi doesn’t tease him about it, doesn’t make him feel like he’s silly for never having done this. he just makes jeongguk feel taken care of and loved, even if he’s the one on top.

slowly, jeongguk pushes in, just enough until the head of his cock disappears inside yoongi, and yoongi makes a gasping noise, head falling back against the bed. “god,” he groans.

“feel good?” breathes jeongguk, trying not to focus on himself because god knows he won’t last, god knows he needs to think about yoongi yoongi yoongi, and yoongi nods a little, mutters, “keep going,” so jeongguk does. he keeps pushing slowly, thrusting in until he bottoms out and has to gasp himself, dropping his hands on either side of yoongi’s ribs as he hangs his head. it’s so—tight, so hot around him, making his head hazy with a bone deep sort of pleasure, a bone deep sort of anticipation.

they breathe in tandem, and jeongguk looks down at where they’re connected, his cock buried inside of yoongi, and he thinks—this is what he wanted, what he needed. this is what he needed to feel. it scratches the itch he’s been feeling for weeks now, not just the weekend without yoongi, just knowing that they’re more. they’re more.

“doing okay?” asks yoongi, lifting a hand to pet at the top of jeongguk’s head, swiping his hair off of his forehead. jeongguk lifts his head, hazy eyes meeting yoongi’s, and nods. vaguely, he thinks he should be the one asking that, but. but yoongi is still taking care of him, and he feels full with love, with things he can’t put a name to.

yoongi tugs on his neck again, making jeongguk bend down over him so they can kiss, something soft and gentle, and then yoongi wraps his legs around jeongguk’s waist and murmurs, “move, guk-ah.”

so jeongguk does—he keeps his thrusts slow and shallow at first, moaning at the feeling as he fucks into yoongi gently, not quite afraid to hurt him but afraid of ending it all too fast. he knows they’ll have many more opportunities in the future, but he wants to make this one last, wants to make it good. he lets yoongi hold him close, kissing him as he focuses on his thrusts, on not losing himself in it, and barely notices when yoongi starts meeting his thrusts with upward grinds.

“you can go faster, jeongguk-ah,” yoongi tells him. “you’re not gonna hurt me.”

“don’t wanna—” begins jeongguk before he moans a little as a shiver runs down his spine, picking up the speed of his thrusts. “don’t wanna come.”

“we can just go for round two,” yoongi says with a chuckle, kissing the side of his mouth, his cheek. “although it’s cute that you’re already overwhelmed.”

hyung,” he whines, because of the teasing—because it feels too good as he bottoms out again, hips beginning to snap a little faster as he chases after whatever yoongi is giving him permission to go for—he focuses on the drag against his cock, the tightness of yoongi around him, and how yoongi kisses him, kisses his lips, his nose, even when jeongguk isn’t paying attention. holds him close, encourages him, because he knows jeongguk needs it. because he always knows what jeongguk needs.

his hips slap against yoongi’s a little harder, the sound of skin on skin echoing into the room, and yoongi moans again—jeongguk remembers, suddenly, that he’d been wanting this, that it’s not about him. he lifts his head, determined to see it, and sneaks a hand between them to grasp at yoongi’s cock as yoongi lets out another gasp, head thrown back against the bed.

“fuck,” he gasps as jeongguk starts fisting his cock, too, timing it with his thrusts as he watches yoongi’s face. “yeah, shit—guk-ah, right there.” jeongguk focuses on it, wanting to hear yoongi say it again and again, to look like that—like he’s about to fall apart, forehead pinched and jaw slack with pleasure, just like he looked when he was fingering himself.

yoongi lets out another moan before he lifts his head, reaching out for jeongguk again, and jeongguk leans down again, distracted as yoongi kisses him hard—almost hard enough to bruise. his thrusts stutter, get sloppier, and he can feel yoongi’s heels digging into him, encouraging him.

“does it feel good?” he breathes into yoongi’s mouth.

“yeah, baby,” says yoongi. “you’re making hyung feel so good. love you so much, yeah?”

“yeah,” says jeongguk, and that’s—that’s all he really wanted. to feel close, to know yoongi loves him, to know that yoongi knows jeongguk loves him back. enough to not care, maybe, that yoongi can’t fuck him, and it shouldn’t matter anyway. and it doesn’t. because it’s all the same—the way yoongi holds him, reaching down and tugging on his wrist so that jeongguk lets go of his cock and threads their fingers together instead. it’s all the same—the way yoongi kisses him, sweet and tender and hot all at once, licking into his mouth and making jeongguk moan. it’s all the same—the way they’re tangled together, sweat-slick and on the verge of something more, jeongguk’s thrusts becoming slower and more languid as he tries to stave his own orgasm off.

he whines again at how it feels now, going slower—feels every inch of himself inside of yoongi, feels yoongi squeezing his hand. “you’re doing so good, bun,” yoongi says, kissing the side of his mouth. “the best, just for me, hm?”

“missed you,” says jeongguk, unable to stop the outpouring of emotion now that they’re together. “missed you so much, hyung. don’t wanna—didn’t want you to go.

“i know, baby,” says yoongi, rubbing at his cheekbone. “but i’m back. i’m right here, guk-ah, hyung’s right here.”

jeongguk doesn’t realize that there are tears prickling the backs of his eyes until then, sniffing against tears he refuses to cry over something so silly—but it’s the combination of his feelings over fucking yoongi and missing him so badly, of finally having him back even if it was only three days. he pulls away enough to actually look at yoongi, realizing that he’s stopped moving his hips entirely, just buried inside of yoongi like that as he looks at him, tries not to let all of his fucking feels spill over and drown them both in petals.

a moment of silence, and then—“you wanna cuddle, don’t you?” asks yoongi.

jeongguk, despite himself, lets out a wet laugh, wiping at his eyes. “shut up.”

“you’re so needy,” says yoongi, amusement in his voice. “my needy baby. you just want hyung to give you forehead kisses and hold your hand and feed you waffles all the time.”

“there’s nothing wrong with that,” protests jeongguk, swatting at yoongi’s hands when he tries to reach for jeongguk again. it causes him to jostle, though, grinding a little into yoongi, and yoongi lets out a moan instead of teasing again.

“do that again,” he says, and jeongguk forgets about being needy—at least for the moment—trying to keep all of his overwhelmed feelings at bay as he grinds into yoongi again, eliciting the same reaction. he does it again and again, grinding in harder and hiccupping in a breath at how good it feels. he leans over yoongi, pressing his forehead into yoongi’s shoulder as he picks it up, thrusting in and grinding at the same time, chasing something that’s just hanging below the surface now, waiting—

“hyung,” he whines, sees yoongi reach for his own cock and begin to tug at it, his other hand still linked with jeongguk’s on his other side. “hyung.

“yeah, baby,” says yoongi, breathless. “s’okay, you can come.”

he didn’t realize he was asking for permission, but the go ahead from yoongi has him picking up the speed of his thrusts again, chasing his own release as he slams into yoongi again and again. he can hear yoongi mumbling encouragements, praises, but he can’t focus on it, too busy focusing on the heat and tightness around his cock, the feeling of yoongi around him, everywhere and everywhere, how he wants yoongi all of the time.

yoongi turns his head, then, and kisses jeongguk’s hear. murmurs, “love you so much, guk-ah. so good for hyung, my best boy.” and jeongguk just—lets out a cry as he comes, hips stuttering to a halt as the pleasure runs thick down his spine. he tries to keep fucking yoongi through it, but it’s too much, overwhelmed all at once as he thrusts one last time into yoongi and stays, face buried in yoongi’s neck as tears prick at the backs of his eyes again.

he hears yoongi come moments later, groaning into jeongguk’s ear as he spatters over both of their stomachs. and jeongguk just—stays there, one of his hands still linked with yoongi’s, almost afraid to move. yoongi kisses his ear again, kisses the side of his face, his temple. makes him feel all sorts of loved, all sorts of wanted and good.

slowly, jeongguk pulls out, feeling boneless as he lets himself flop onto the bed beside yoongi, facing the ceiling. and yoongi rolls a little, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “how was that?” he asks.

jeongguk sighs. “cuddle?” he asks, and yoongi giggles at him, kissing him again. he’ll get his praises later. they’ll talk about it later, probably, because yoongi is the type to want to talk about it, to figure out what worked and what didn’t, how to make it better. jeongguk gets embarrassed, but he knows that communication is key in a healthy relationship. for now, he’s happy to let yoongi do all the work of cleaning them up, throwing a new change of clothes at him and pulling jeongguk under the covers with him.

once they’re cuddled up, yoongi pressed into jeongguk’s chest, jeongguk asks, “was i really good?”

and yoongi presses a kiss to his chest. “of course,” he says. “10/10, would let fuck me again.”

jeongguk snorts. “please never use that meme again. it’s so old.”

“be glad that i use memes at all, jeongguk-ah.”

“if it’s that or nothing, i’ll take nothing.”

yoongi digs a finger into his side, and jeongguk giggles, clinging onto him because despite the teasing, he doesn’t want to let go. he waits until they’ve calmed down some, pressing his lips into yoongi’s forehead before he adds, “really did miss you, though.”

“i missed you too, little one,” says yoongi. jeongguk’s toes curl.

he doesn’t say much after that, too busy basking in yoongi being here, yoongi holding him. he realizes, belatedly, that there was nothing to worry about with the sex, either, because it’s yoongi, and yoongi loves him. yoongi kisses his chest, slips his fingers under jeongguk’s shirt and rubs over his skin, just gentle, just calm. maybe that’s it: yoongi makes him feel calm, makes him feel safe. for three days, jeongguk was just a little on edge, but it all bleeds out now.

“hyung?” asks jeongguk when he’s already halfway to sleep, and yoongi lifts his head, eyes meeting.

“hm?”

“love you,” whispers jeongguk, pouting a little. yoongi leans forward and presses a kiss to his chin, and then a little higher—the mole under his lip. that one means: love you too. the one on his nostril means: you’re cute. the one on his cheek means: i’m very glad we’re together.

“goodnight jeon jeongguk,” murmurs yoongi, snuggling in a little closer. “my needy baby.”

“goodnight min yoongi,” sighs jeongguk, closing his eyes. “my pretty hyung.”

(jeongguk is awoken by a slough of texts an hour later, yoongi’s phone vibrating non-stop on the bedside table to the point that it rouses him from sleep. it’s hoseok, demanding to know where the fuck he’s supposed to sleep tonight because he’s just going to assume that jeongguk and yoongi fucked on the couch and therefore he will not be coming home until they can get it cleaned and/or thrown out. jeongguk, still half asleep, makes a grab for the phone and types out a text riddled with typos, generally suggesting that he try seokjin’s bed. yoongi makes a little sound in his sleep, pressing his face further into jeongguk’s chest, and that’s all the reason jeongguk needs to go back to sleep.)

despite their differing tastes in a lot of things, there is one thing that yoongi and jeongguk always see eye to eye on: bowling. jeongguk might look like he’s not the athletic type just from how he dresses, but his passion other than singing is sports, and he knows he’s good at them. of course, yoongi being the stubborn person he is, refuses to let jeongguk think that he’s better, at least until they put it to the test.

so they go on a date. a very competitive date, but a date nonetheless, because jeongguk knows that they’ll end up making out in the back alley either way.

jeongguk grins on as he pulls on the bowling shoes, watching yoongi do some stretches beside him to prepare. “it’s not too late to back out, hyung,” he says with a teasing grin. “we can pretend that we played a game and i didn’t beat you that badly.”

“what are you talking about, jeon?” asks yoongi with a huff. “i’ll have you know i was on the bowling team when i was in high school.”

“oh, you mean the one that always ended the season with record losses?”

“you little shit—” begins yoongi, and jeongguk giggles, skirting away from him before yoongi can get his hands on him. he can’t help being cocky, though, since he does know that he’s good at bowling. he’s kicked both namjoon and seokjin’s asses every time they’ve gone bowling, but that might have more to do with the fact that namjoon doesn’t really know how to bowl and seokjin always gets fed up halfway through and starts trying to bowl in increasingly ridiculous and extravagant ways to jeongguk kind of has to win.

still, he leads yoongi to one of the open lanes, considering before he gestures for yoongi to go first. “so you can feel like you’re beating me for a few seconds,” he says, but yoongi doesn’t argue as he grabs one of the balls and looks down the lane. after a second, jeongguk has a new idea and calls out, “wait, hyung—good luck kiss?”

yoongi turns around to look at him. “i don’t need luck to beat you,” he says.

jeongguk pouts, and waits the few seconds before yoongi gives in with an exasperated sigh, coming back to the end of the lane to tug jeongguk in for a kiss. “you’re going to lose,” he whispers before he kisses jeongguk, but before he can pull back, jeongguk makes a grab for his shirt and pulls him in even more, pressing a little harder, a little rougher. yoongi makes a surprise noise, and jeongguk reaches with his other hand to give yoongi’s butt a hard squeeze and then pushes him away.

“there,” he says as he sees the slightly dazed look on yoongi’s face. “good luck, honey bear.”

predictably—yoongi bowls pretty terribly on the first go, making jeongguk giggle as he watches the ball curve off into the gutter halfway down the lane. the second and third throws are a little better, but it’s certainly not the bang that yoongi probably wanted to start out with—and is probably capable of—but jeongguk isn’t afraid to play a little dirty to ensure that he wins. and he gets to kiss his boyfriend, so he’s not complaining.

yoongi tries to pull the same trick on him, though, trying to convince jeongguk to kiss him before he bowls, but jeongguk refuses, just winking at yoongi before he ends up bowling a spare. it goes on like that for most of the game—both of them attempting to outdo the other not only in how they’re bowling, but in how they distract each other. yoongi gets a few good butt slaps in there that jeongguk tries not to let fluster him, although jeongguk mostly resigns himself to yelling out random words he’s heard yoongi use when talking about human resources as though the might do something.

“you know i don’t get turned on by the word compensation, right?” yoongi asks as he stands near the lane with a ball in his hand, waiting to bowl as jeongguk calls out branding! incentive pay! orientation!

jeongguk points to their scores. “doesn’t matter, but i think my tactics are working,” he says. he is winning, although not by much. they still have a few more frames to bowl, too.

“that has nothing to do with you yelling out random human resources terms.”

“so you’re saying i am better than you at bowling and it’s all just skill?”

yoongi narrows his eyes at him. and then he turns around and throws the ball without further comment and manages to get a spare. when he turns back around, there’s a cocky look on his face as he wipes his hands together. “yes, that is all skill,” he says. “we should have come up with a bet for this before we started.”

“s’not too late,” says jeongguk. “although i’m still winning, so whatever you decide better be something you’re willing to give me.”

“ever heard of an underdog?” asks yoongi. “someone pulling it in the last quarter, blowing ahead of the competition at the last second to win?”

“this isn’t football, hyung.”

“if i win, i get to stop wearing that fucking my little pony helmet,” says yoongi, cocking an eyebrow at jeongguk. although jeongguk is confident in himself, he still narrows his eyes, frowning as he considers it.

“i thought you liked wearing that,” he says.

“it was cute when we rode my bike together and matched, but now i drive to the hospital wearing it and my co-workers have already taken the piss out of me multiple times for it.” jeongguk can’t help giggling, imagining how his co-workers tease him about the helmet and he probably mutters something about how his boyfriend makes him wear it.

“you know you could just… not wear it. i wouldn’t know,” shrugs jeongguk.

“yeah, except for the fact that you broke my other one. remember?” asks yoongi, and—that does ring a bell. jeongguk didn’t mean to, but it’s not his fault that it had somehow been in his way in yoongi’s room the last time they’d gotten a little more tipsy than intended and in jeongguk’s drunk mind, the best thing to do was literally toss it out of the window.

he shrugs again. “does that mean you’re going to make me buy the new one?” he asks. “that shit is expensive, hyung.”

“you can paint the my little pony one,” says yoongi. “but like, paint it black. so it matches my aesthetic.”

jeongguk snorts, but he doesn’t have much to argue with that—especially because he’s determined to win instead, and then he won’t have to worry about painting anything. “okay,” he says. “but if i win, you have to fuck me on the bike.”

yoongi almost chokes on his own spit, cheeks turning red as jeongguk grins at him and then giggles at his reaction. “jesus christ, jeongguk, we’re in public.”

“i’m just saying,” says jeongguk. “i keep making jokes about it and you think i’m joking, but i’m really not.”

“i haven’t even fucked you in a bed yet.”

“we’ll get there.”

yoongi narrows his eyes. and jeongguk gives him a sickly sweet grin; to be honest, if he wins, yoongi gets something out of it, too. and maybe he isn’t so fond of doing anything less than innocent on his bike, since it’s precious and doesn’t need to be desecrated by bodily fluids and whatnot, but jeongguk has thought about it. a lot. and he’s sure that having that promise will motivate him even more to get there.

“alright,” says yoongi finally. “it’s a deal. and i think it’s your bowl, so…” he makes a sweeping gesture toward the lane, bowing a little as he does so.

in the end, neither of them wins—because they don’t actually finish the game. sometime between the making of the bet and the second last frame, yoongi grabbing jeongguk’s butt gets a little too frisky and jeongguk tries to retaliate only for the two of them to end up in a heap on the plastic seats next to the lane, giggling madly with jeongguk trying to keep yoongi from eating his face in the middle of the fucking bowling alley, and the people in the lane next to them politely ask if they can stop being so loud, and jeongguk is all sorts of embarrassed as yoongi apologizes profusely and tries to get them back on track, but jeongguk is too interested in kissing him, so.

they kind of just give up. jeongguk decides that he’ll paint yoongi’s helmet anyway, and he’ll probably be able to convince yoongi to fuck him on the bike at some point, even if it’s not as a debt from a lost bowling game. they go for cheap nachos and sodas across the bowling alley instead, giggling the whole way.

“can you get the corndog and tell me if it’s good?” asks jeongguk as they stand in line, his chin hooked on yoongi’s shoulder as he stands behind him, back hugging him.

“why would you want to know?” asks yoongi. “you don’t even eat meat.”

“that’s why you’re going to try it. it looks really gross, but i want to know if it tastes as bad as it looks.”

“i can’t believe you would willingly put me through that agony just so you can know if a corndog tastes bad. you could at least pay for it.”

“okay, i—”

“no, i’m paying,” says yoongi immediately, smacking his hand. “i’m the hyung.”

yoongi does get the corndog, much to jeongguk’s delight; it looks far too greasy and he hopes that yoongi doesn’t get a stomach ache from it, but jeongguk is sure it would be worth it. as they receive their food and drink, jeongguk waits for yoongi to lead the way, but as yoongi turns around, he accidentally bumps into someone standing behind him; jeongguk watches with some horror as the other person, a much taller and beefier man than either of them, fumbles with his drink and ends up spilling some of it on his own arm.

“hey,” says the man. “watch where you’re fucking going.”

and jeongguk—panics, just a little. he’s well aware that yoongi can get riled up easily by other people being rude to him, and although he hasn’t fought anyone in a long time, this is the sort of thing that would lead to that. jeongguk reaches out for him, but as he closes his hand around yoongi’s elbow to tug him away, yoongi says, “i’m sorry for running into you. that was my fault. i can buy you a new drink if you want?”

jeongguk lets out a tiny sigh of relief, glad that this isn’t going to turn into an altercation. but then the stranger looks at him, sees where his hand is holding yoongi’s elbow, and a dark look passes over his face. “no thanks,” says the man. “i wouldn’t want anything from someone like you.

and it’s not—he didn’t say anything, not really. but it’s easy to know what he means, and jeongguk feels something sick curl inside of him at the words and the look on the man’s face. he half expects yoongi to retaliate at that sort of comment, but yoongi takes the high road and just lets out a slight chuckle, says, “alright. i wouldn’t want to give anything to someone who is closed-minded, but i hope you have a nice evening.” and then he gives a tiny bow and turns around, tugging jeongguk with him without another word.

jeongguk looks over his shoulder, though, watching the man as he still stares after them, and it doesn’t sit right with him. of course it doesn’t—and maybe they don’t need to get into a fight, but. “you didn’t have to let him say that to you,” says jeongguk when he turns back to yoongi, stopping at the little condiments booth.

“you can’t stop someone from saying something like that,” says yoongi, voice surprisingly calm. “but you can choose to be the bigger person and walk away from it. he doesn’t deserve our time, jeongguk-ah.”

“yeah, but—”

“jeongguk.” when jeongguk looks back to yoongi, yoongi is already watching him with a firm gaze, one that almost betrays how calm his voice is. “he doesn’t deserve it. just let it go.”

it’s reminiscent of the first time they went out with hoseok, seokjin, and namjoon, when a stranger tried to buy a drink for jeongguk and yoongi got upset with it. jeongguk had told him the exact same thing, but now he can understand what yoongi might have been feeling then—like it’s less about being able to calm down his own feelings, because jeongguk isn’t angry at the comment. he just thinks they should do more about it, and when he looks back to the man, he sees that the man hasn’t moved and is still staring them down, like he’s trying to decide something.

and then the man puts his drink down on the counter and starts walking toward them.

“can we,” says jeongguk suddenly, a spike of fear going through him. “can we take this to go, hyung? please?”

“what?” asks yoongi. “why?”

“i just—um. c’mon, i don’t want to be around that guy.” he grabs yoongi’s wrist again, his other hand occupied with his stupid nachos as he heads for the exit, but before they can even reach the door, he hears a loud, hey! from behind them. jeongguk knows, without having to turn, that it’s the man—and he doesn’t know what he wants, but jeongguk is already second-guessing his idea of doing more about the comment, pulling yoongi out of the door and into the dark street.

the door opens behind them when they’re halfway down the street, and the man yells, “hey! i’m talking to you!” yoongi comes to a stop first and jeongguk is forced to stop with him, panicking a little as yoongi turns around and stares at the man.

“what do you want?” asks yoongi. “i already apologized for spilling your drink and offered to buy you a new one. have you changed your mind?”

jeongguk can see how it’s going to happen. the man is going to say something homophobic, and yoongi is going to get into a fight with him, and one or both of them are going to be arrested for it, and it’s just going to mess with their date night and their lives in general. and yoongi has been doing so well with working on his bad habits, just as jeongguk has been doing well working on being assertive and taking care of himself. but—what if taking care of himself means taking care of yoongi, too, because he knows that yoongi isn’t going to do what he needs to do?

“c’mon, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi then, already turning and grabbing jeongguk to pull him away. “let’s go home.”

“you think i’m closed-minded?” calls the man, still following them.

“i think you’re trying to harass us for no reason,” yoongi calls back without looking over his shoulder.

“i’ll show you harassment, you fucking fa—” jeongguk turns around, winds up, and punches him square in the jaw before he can even finish the word. he watches as the man stumbles back, caught by surprise, and immediately holds his jaw as he lets out a surprised yelp of pain.

“don’t you fucking dare!” snaps jeongguk, glaring at him, even as yoongi lets out a, “holy shit!” and grabs jeongguk’s arm, pulling him away. jeongguk isn't done, though, as yoongi pulls down the street at a brisk pace, and he calls over his shoulder, “you have no right to speak to us like that or follow us when we’re just trying to have a nice night! you’re a homophobic piece of shit!”

jeongguk,” yoongi snaps, tugging a little harder on him, and jeongguk turns back around with a breathless sort of giggle as he grabs yoongi’s hand and they run down the street together and he realizes what he just did. it’s exhilarating, though, feels—good.

feels—like it hurts a whole fucking lot. “ow, jesus,” he says a little belatedly as the pain from the punch finally sets in, and he stumbles to a stop a few blocks away as he begins to shake out his hand. “oh my god, that really hurts. fuck, why does it hurt so much?” the words are almost said with a whine and he turns to yoongi with a pout, still wiggling his hands. “hyung.

“jeongguk-ah,” breathes yoongi, and it sounds—strangely aroused. that wasn’t jeongguk’s intention, but he’s not going to complain about. “i can’t believe you just punched him in the face.”

“he was being a dick,” says jeongguk. “ow, it really hurts!”

“you probably did it wrong,” says yoongi, reaching out for his hand and holding on carefully as he inspects jeongguk’s knuckles. “there’s an etiquette to this, you know. you could have broken your knuckles.”

“please fix it,” he whines, trying to breathe through it. the pain is hardly the worst thing he’s ever felt, but he doesn’t like it. although when he remembers the look on the man’s face when he’s straightened up and realized that jeongguk had punched him when he had likely expected yoongi to do it is enough to make it worth it, and yoongi just gives a little sigh before he gently kisses jeongguk’s knuckles and tugs him back down the street.

yoongi drives him back to his apartment, jeongguk complaining the whole time that his hand hurts even though yoongi can’t really hear him over the sound of the bike and the road below him. it seems to take ages to get to yoongi’s apartment, but finally, he’s running into the building and yoongi instructs him to sit at the kitchen table as he grabs a frozen bag of peas—a classic—and a bunch of gauze.

jeongguk pouts as he lets yoongi wrap up his hand, hissing at both the cold and the pain as the bag touches his knuckles. they’re not bleeding, but they’re already beginning to bruise, and he knows it’s going to hurt like a bitch for a while. still—he’s not sure what to say about it, so he just pouts and watches.

finally, yoongi finishes patching him up and looks up at jeongguk with a frown. “okay, so that was really hot and i think my dick twitched a little when you punched that guy and i’m kind of glad you did because i wanted to but i’m trying to be better with that stuff even though he totally deserved it,” says yoongi, “but please never punch anyone again.”

“i won’t,” frowns jeongguk. “it really hurts. like, a surprising amount. they make it look so painless in the movies.”

“you’re not in a movie, guk-ah,” says yoongi. “i don’t want you hurting yourself.”

“he really did deserve it, though,” mumbles jeongguk. it does hurt, and he doesn’t like upsetting yoongi, but it had been his first instinct in the moment. and he’s not going to make it a habit, but—but. he can’t help feeling a little better when yoongi gets up from the table and slides into jeongguk’s lap instead, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“my big, protective baby,” he says. “thank you for taking care of me. but i think i understand how you feel about me fighting people. it’s really not a good feeling.”

“i won’t do it again, hyung,” promises jeongguk. “i don’t want to break my hand. and i’m really proud of you for not punching him first. i kind of thought you were going to.”

“i kind of thought i was going to, too,” admits yoongi. “but i thought about it for a second and i realized that it was going to be a bad idea. that’s character development right there.”

jeongguk giggles, pressing his face into yoongi’s neck as yoongi starts stroking his hair, holding him close. “i think we’re better people now than we were before we met each other,” he says. “don’t you think?”

yoongi hums, pressing another kiss to his hair. “i think so, too,” he says. “that’s how you know we’re good for each other. i’m not gonna fight people anymore and you’re gonna stand up for yourself. but maybe you standing up for yourself can involve less punching people, too.”

he grins a little, knowing full well that he’s not going to punch anyone else. it hurts far too much for that, and he tilts his head up, waiting for yoongi to look down at him before he stretches up a little and kisses yoongi, glad that he didn’t get punched in return or this would have a very different ending.

they stay like that until hoseok comes home—a half an hour or so, both of them just sitting there and not talking much, but yoongi checks on his hand once in a while, asking if it hurts, if it can move his fingers. when they hear the door opening again, jeongguk almost panics, hoping that hoseok isn’t going to go on a rant about him punching people because he’s not in the mood for it, but when hoseok enters the kitchen, he looks at the pair of them for a moment before heading for the fridge.

it’s certainly not weird to see them wrapped up like that, so that’s not a surprising picture.

still, after hoseok pulls open the fridge and goes scavenging for food, he asks, “what happened to your hand?”

“jeonggukkie decided to play the hero tonight,” says yoongi before jeongguk can explain, petting the side of his face. “punched someone in the face.”

“he was being a bad person, hyung!” jeongguk protests. “he was being homophobic.”

hoseok straightens up behind the fridge door, a bowl of leftovers in his hand, and he regards jeongguk for a second. even now, jeongguk wants his approval, just like he wants the approval of all of his hyungs. but hoseok just nods a little, frowning before he says, “nice. you did good, kid.” and jeongguk beams as yoongi goes off about not encouraging him, and jeongguk giggles, holding him a little tighter—with one hand, though, because the other still really fucking hurts. he doesn’t think yoongi has to worry.

“i’m just saying, it’s the most badass story i’ve ever heard and that’s going up against jeongguk punching that guy in the face for being homophobic,” says taehyung with a shrug, sipping on his boba after.

“that only happened a few weeks ago,” jeongguk argues. “how come i only got to hold the title for that long? do i need to punch someone else?”

“no punching people, gukkie,” scolds jimin immediately, reaching across the table to put his hands over jeongguk’s. “what happened to you being a soft baby who was too shy to talk to people?”

“character development, hyung,” shrugs jeongguk, pulling his hand out to first pat jimin’s hand and the grab his own boba and take a sip. it’s been their weekly thing after singing practices, and especially with how busy everyone is these days, it’s nice to be able to see the pair even if it’s only for an hour or two once a week.

speaking of which—“you’re coming to my showcase, right?” asks jimin a moment later, leaning back in his chair.

“of course,” grins jeongguk. “i wouldn’t miss it for the world. everyone is coming, hyung. it’s gonna be great.”

“you don’t all have to come.”

“don’t act humble, jiminie,” says taehyung. “you’ve been talking for weeks about how everyone better show up so they can see how amazing you’ve done this year and then fawn all over your feet once you get off stage and throw flowers at you and shower you in actual glitter.” jeongguk snorts, although he knows taehyung isn’t lying because that’s the exact kind of thing jimin would say—and does say when it comes to their singing performances, so he’s sure it’s no different when it comes to his dancing performances.

“well, they better,” jimin huffs, grabbing his own boba. “i’ve put a lot of work in this showcase! you know, they’re putting me last because they know i’m the best dancer they have.”

“are you doing the one with the sexy snake thing or the back-up dancers and the lift?” asks jeongguk; he’s seen jimin dance before, although it’s never been at a professional showcase like the one that will mark the end of his school year. mostly the dancing has been in clubs, which doesn’t count because that involves a lot of grinding, or in his living room, which also doesn’t count because the living room isn’t big enough and he always ends up tripping over the coffee table.

taehyung makes a noise, swallowing his drink quickly before he says, “sexy snake! he’s been practicing a lot in the apartment and i always walk in when he’s doing it and it just looks like he’s doing something nasty to the ground.”

“i don’t just go around and hump the ground, tae,” says jimin, whacking taehyung in the chest.

“that’s what it looks like!”

“also, why do you guys call it the sexy snake? i don’t look like a snake.”

“you kind of do,” says jeongguk.

“there’s a lot of this,” says taehyung, and then does some weird wiggly thing presumably meant to imitate some of jimin’s dance moves, “and also this,” and he does another dance move, although it looks strange in his chair and jeongguk can’t help giggling as jimin stares at him.

“that’s offensive,” says jimin. “i don’t look like that. jeongguk-ah, do i look like that?”

“maybe hyung can do the dance for you.”

“it can be a duet!” chirps taehyung excitedly, and jeongguk continues to watch and laugh as taehyung does more of jimin’s dance moves while sitting in a chair and jimin tries to stop him, physically grabbing his wrists and forcing them down, muttering about taking back taehyung’s ticket to the showcase if he’s going to be so embarrassing.

jeongguk distracted by his phone beginning to vibrate on the table, and he grabs it to see hoseok is calling him, so he settles further into his seat and picks up, still chuckling at jimin and taehyung’s antics.

“hello, hoseokie-hyung,” he greets.

“jeongguk-ah,” says hoseok, sounding all sorts of exasperated. “where are you?”

“um, i’m getting boba with thing one and thing two.”

across the table, jimin stops trying to physically restrain taehyung in order to lean over and ask, “wait, which one am i?”

“are you going to be leaving anytime soon?” asks hoseok.

“jeongguk-ah. am i thing one or two?”

“we can, if you need something? is something wrong?”

“which one am i, jeongguk-ah? jeongguk-ah

“not with me, no,” says hoseok, and jeongguk bats away jimin’s hand as he reaches for him, turning a little in his seat in an attempt to hear hoseok better. vaguely, in the background of the call, he can hear yoongi yelling something about hanging up the phone. “your boyfriend, on the other hand—”

“what?” asks jeongguk immediately, panic running through him. “is he okay? does he need to go to the hospital? hyung—”

“no,” says hoseok. “no, he’s just come down with the flu and won’t listen to me when i say he needs to stay home tomorrow because he didn’t stay home today and by the time i got back from work, he was literally lying on the kitchen floor, moaning about not being able to get up.”

in the background, yoongi yells, “m’not sick! jeongguk-ah, don’t listen to him.”

“shut up and get back in bed,” snaps hoseok, away from the phone, and then his voice is back in jeongguk’s ear. “he won’t listen to me, obviously, but i was hoping that you could talk some sense into him.”

although he knows that yoongi isn’t dying, he still can’t help the panic that settles inside of him—maybe less panic, if he thinks about it, more worry and concern. yoongi’s sick. and he’s stubborn, which means he’s not going to take care of himself, so jeongguk has to take care of him. and jeongguk will gladly take care of him, because he loves yoongi.

“i’ll be over as soon as i can,” says jeongguk. “do you guys have medicine or do you need me to buy some?”

“you should probably buy what you want,” says hoseok. “also like, food. he won’t let me go near him with a ten foot pole because he’s afraid i’m going to check his temperature or something even though i can practically feel him sweating from here.”

“jeongguk-ah!” yells yoongi. “i’m fine!”

“can you please tell my boyfriend to stop being a fucking idiot,” huffs jeongguk. “thanks, hobi-hyung. i can take care of him.” although yoongi probably won’t want jeongguk to come near him either—both because he won’t admit that he’s sick and because deep down he knows he’s sick and therefore doesn’t want to get jeongguk sick too, jeongguk is more than willing to put their stubbornness to the test and see who can last longer. and jeongguk knows that it’ll be him, because he’s very good at aggressively loving people when they need it.

when he hangs up, he turns to jimin and taehyung. “i’m thing one, right?” asks jimin. “just tell me if i’m thing one. i have to know.”

“is something wrong?” taehyung asks.

“yoongi-hyung has the flu,” sighs jeongguk, already getting up from his seat and grabbing his drink. “i’m gonna go over there and take care of him and lock him in his room so he doesn’t try to run off to work tomorrow morning.”

“cute,” says taehyung. “try not to get sick, too, though.”

“i’ll be fine,” says jeongguk. “drive me to the drug store, though?”

by the time jeongguk gets to yoongi and hoseok’s apartment, after stopping at the drugstore to pile up on flu and fever medication, as well as other supplements that he hopes will help, he has a pile of texts from hoseok with increasingly worrying contents about yoongi’s condition—mostly about how he’s taken to hissing at hoseok every time hoseok steps in his direction, which is difficult because yoongi has apparently claimed everything but the kitchen as his territory. jeongguk imagines him as an angry cat with drenched fur from a fever, and finds it both hilarious and endearing.

much like when he barged into their apartment and forced yoongi to stop worrying about his damn job interview, though, jeongguk waves goodbye to jimin and taehyung after they drop him off and marches up to the apartment, knocking and calling out, “hyungs, it’s me! i come bearing medicine and cuddles!”

immediately, there’s an actual hiss from the other side of the door, a, “jesus, hyung, let me answer the fucking door, would you?” and a, “go away! i’m not sick!”

“okay then, i come bearing cuddles,” jeongguk corrects. “how rude of you to turn away your boyfriend when all he wants is to spend some quality time with you, completely unrelated to the fact that you’re sweating out of your ass and have thrown up several times today.”

there’s a pause, and then—“once. i threw up once.”

“useless information,” says jeongguk. “let me in.”

it takes another few seconds, but then the door opens just a crack and he sees hoseok peeking at him, only half of his face visible. “he wants me to ask if you’ve brought garlic.”

“why would i have brought garlic?”

“that’s his mom’s favourite cold and flu remedy,” says hoseok. “he’s eaten so many raw garlic cloves while sick that he’ll literally scream at me if i try to use garlic in cooking. so i’m not supposed to let you in if you have garlic.”

“what, is he a fucking vampire?” asks jeongguk with a roll of his eyes, pushing open the door and making his way inside instead of being invited. he doesn’t have any garlic, for what it’s worth, and he gives an apologetic grin to hoseok before he heads into the living room, where yoongi has made a nest for himself on the sofa. he does look terrible—his fringe is a little sweaty, despite the piles of blankets on top of him, and his skin is pale, almost ghastly. he stares at jeongguk from the nest, where his head is the only visible part of him.

jeongguk’s bottom lip juts out in a pout. “aw, hyung,” he says. “look at you.”

“i’m fine,” yoongi insists.

“aren’t you a little hot under all those blankets?”

“actually, i’m freezing.”

“i can see that from the sweat literally pooling on your face.”

yoongi narrows his eyes, slipping a hand out of the nest of blankets to wipe at his face. he still doesn’t seem keen on admitting that he’s sick, but jeongguk can’t help feeling sorry for him—he does look awful, and jeongguk knows that being sick isn’t fun, especially when it’s the middle of may and there should be no reason to be sick in the first place. and as much as he wants to shove the medicine down yoongi’s throat, he also knows that that’s not the best idea right now.

jeongguk sets the bag of supplies down on the coffee table as he approaches and tugs a little on the blankets until he can squish himself underneath them as well, snuggled up as close to yoongi as possible. he tugs yoongi into his chest, wrapping both arms around him and pressing a kiss into his hair, no matter how hot and sweaty he is.

“toasty,” he comments.

yoongi makes a non-committal sound, relaxing into jeongguk’s chest.

“jimin-hyung and tae-hyung send their regards,” says jeongguk after a moment. “taehyung also sends you his white blood cells to help yours, since he doesn’t need them at the moment and you do. isn’t that nice?”

“hm.”

“we started working on that movie medley at practice today, you know the one i was telling you about? i think i might get a solo as part of it, because i’ve mentioned how much i love movie soundtracks and our director has promised that i’d get one soon, but it’s not like we’re actually performing it for anyone, but it still feels good for the practice, you know, and—”

“jeongguk-ah.”

“what?”

yoongi lifts his head and looks up at him, frowning. “i feel like shit.”

jeongguk tries his best not to tease, although he can’t help saying, “i thought you were fine.”

“i am,” he says. “i just feel like shit. and i’m hungry.” it’s about as close as jeongguk is going to get to an admittance that yoongi is sick—yoongi is asking jeongguk to take care of him, to feed him, in a roundabout sort of way.

and jeongguk feels all sorts of fond anyway as he presses another kiss to the top of yoongi’s head and says, “okay. i have some stuff that might make you feel less like shit. and how do you feel about soup?”

they shuffle into the kitchen, effectively letting hoseok escape to his room now that yoongi isn’t hissing at him every time he takes a step in the wrong direction. jeongguk digs through the bag of medication, giving yoongi something for his fever and the flu in general, hoping that it’ll help enough to keep him from getting worse, at least.

“when did you throw up?” asks jeongguk as he watches yoongi swallow down the last of the pills, pulling a face as he puts the glass of water down.

“um,” says yoongi; he’s brought the blankets with him, still wrapped up in them as he sits across from jeongguk at the table. he looks so ridiculous, but also very soft, and jeongguk has to keep himself from going over there and cooing at him. “a while ago. i was still at work.”

“you threw up at work and didn’t come home?”

“i’m not sick!”

jeongguk sighs, but he’s not going to argue. instead, he says, “i’ll try feeding you soup and if you can’t keep it down, we’ll have to find something to settle your stomach. but it might be okay.”

yoongi wrinkles his nose. “what kind of soup?”

“depends what food you have in your fridge,” says jeongguk. as it turns out—they don’t have much. but jeongguk makes do as he pulls out ingredients and sets to work on trying to put something together that yoongi will be able to keep down. he busies himself with it, trying to get all of the proportions and spices right so that he won’t feel the need to go over and just cuddle yoongi instead of doing this—because that’s what he wants to do, now that he’s seen how miserable yoongi looks. but taking care of him has to mean more than just sitting around in bed, and they can do that after, so.

yoongi finds him halfway through anyway, shuffling over with the blankets still thrown around him, and sticks himself to jeongguk’s back, weak arms carefully curling around jeongguk’s stomach. he lays his head against the back of jeongguk’s neck, and it’s too hot for jeongguk—yoongi’s skin is burning up where it touches his, but he’s not going to tell yoongi to go away. it’s odd to see yoongi being the clingy and touchy one instead of the other way around, but jeongguk kind of likes it. he lets yoongi cling onto him as he slowly moves around the kitchen and stands by the stove as he makes the soup, humming a quiet tune under his breath.

when he’s just adding the last spices, yoongi murmurs, “what song were you just humming?”

“um,” says jeongguk, cheeks colouring a little. “it’s… kind of an original.”

“i didn’t know you wrote music.”

“i don’t really,” says jeongguk, glad that he can focus on the soup rather than seeing yoongi’s reaction—although yoongi is partly out of it from how he’s slurring his words and slumping against jeongguk’s back, so maybe he doesn’t have to worry. “sometimes i put stuff together, but it’s not much more than a melody or a few lyrics here and there.”

yoongi hums, tightening his hold around jeongguk’s stomach. “i like it,” he says it. “you should sing me your stuff more often.”

“okay,” jeongguk whispers, pretending that the heat curling over him is from the stove and yoongi’s feverish skin pressed against the back of his neck. he’s gained a lot of confidence in his singing over the past few months, but singing his own songs is a completely different thing. but he knows that yoongi will love anything he does, although he’ll be honest about what he thinks and what needs to be improved. if there’s anyone that he can trust to be truthful, it’s min yoongi.

before yoongi can ask him to sing it now, thought, jeongguk reaches over and turns off the burner. “soup’s ready, hyung,” he murmurs, forcing yoongi to untangle from him as he scoops the soup into two bowls and goes back to the table so they can eat. it’s mostly just thrown together, nothing more than broth and some vegetables and spices, but it tasted good when he sampled it, plus he doubts yoongi’s taste buds are working anyway.

yoongi slumps back into his seat, frowning at the bowl of soup and spoon that jeongguk sets in front of him.

“what?” jeongguk asks eventually.

“hurts,” mumbles yoongi.

“what does?”

“everything.”

jeongguk watches him, a grin curling on his lips—not at yoongi being sick, but at his poor attempts to get jeongguk to do things by avoiding asking for it directly, or even indirectly. but jeongguk knows him. “do you need help eating, yoongi-hyung?” he asks, just a hint of teasing in his voice.

surprisingly, yoongi doesn’t even bother arguing, just muttering a, “yes, please.” he must feel worse than jeongguk anticipated when he first got here, but jeongguk is happy to help—happy to be the overprotective boyfriend for once, as he pulls his chair up next to yoongi’s and giggles at him, dropping a kiss to yoongi’s temple before he grabs yoongi’s spoon and helps feed him. it’s wonderfully domestic, and despite the fact that yoongi is sick, jeongguk thinks—he likes this. likes having this casual sort of domesticity and intimacy, the kind that people have when they’ve been together for a long time.

hoseok wanders back into the kitchen a few minutes in and stops to stare at jeongguk feeding yoongi before he says, “that’s like, the cutest and grossest thing i’ve ever seen. you do know he’s getting sweat all over you.”

“yeah, i know,” says jeongguk, not taking his eyes off of yoongi, instead reaching over to smooth down his hair.

“ugh,” says hoseok, quieter now as he heads for the fridge. “you’re so in love that it makes me sick.”

“don’t ask him to care of you,” yoongi says. “he’s mine.”

“of course, hyung,” says jeongguk, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “only yours.” (hoseok makes a gagging sound, and jeongguk takes the opportunity to give him the finger.)

after, jeongguk pulls yoongi into his room and pushes him down on the bed before joining him, letting yoongi cuddle back into his chest where jeongguk leans against the headboard. “we’re going to stay here for the next twenty-four hours,” jeongguk informs him, to which yoongi makes a noise in the back of his throat.

“i have work tomorrow at eight,” says yoongi.

jeongguk snorts. “you’re not going to work tomorrow, hyung.”

“i have to.”

“you’re sick,” says jeongguk. “you are really very sick and you aren’t going to work. aren’t hospitals supposed to be for making people better?”

“hospitals are for sick people,” mumbles yoongi. “i’ll fit right in.” unfortunately, that logic makes more sense than jeongguk wants it to, and he just giggles, holding yoongi a little tighter. he’s still not letting yoongi go, though—despite his protesting that he’s fine, he looks awful and has been clinging to jeongguk since he got here, barely having enough energy to move. he seems content with snuggling in bed and doing nothing, so jeongguk’s not sure why he would want to go into work anyway when he could cuddle with jeongguk all day instead. that seems like a much better option.

“when i was little and got the flu,” says jeongguk. “my mom would massage my hands and arms and feet and legs to make me feel better, even when they didn’t hurt. she said that she was massaging all her love into my skin so that it could help fight the infections and keep me healthy. and you know, i think that worked pretty well.”

yoongi hums. “i don’t have the flu, though.”

“you don’t want my love?”

a beat, and then—“i want it.” jeongguk grins, dropping a kiss to yoongi’s head before he shuffles them around until yoongi is sitting between his legs, back pressed to jeongguk’s chest. he pushes the blankets off of them enough to keep him from sweating out of his clothes—although it’s hot enough just being pressed to yoongi—and takes one of yoongi’s hands in his own, slowly massaging his fingers and palm. he sets his chin on top of yoongi’s head, thinking for a moment before he says, “you know you have to take care of yourself, right, hyung?”

he thinks maybe yoongi has fallen asleep, but then he hears a quiet, “i do take care of myself.”

“you eat well,” agrees jeongguk, “and you exercise and you get a good amount of sleep and you don’t smoke as much anymore and you don’t have a lot of unhealthy habits, yeah. but sometimes that’s not enough. and when you do end up getting sick, you have to take care of yourself then. which means letting yourself rest and taking medicine and not trying to overwork yourself, which is just going to make things worse.”

yoongi doesn’t have much to say to that, just letting jeongguk massage his hand and up to his wrist, moving the skin under his fingers. after a while, jeongguk adds, “i don’t like seeing you sick, but it happens to everyone even if you do your best to avoid it. what i like even less is seeing you almost hurting yourself by insisting that there’s nothing wrong.”

“but you like taking care of me,” mutters yoongi.

“of course i do,” says jeongguk, “but i don’t like coming over here and practically forcing medicine down your throat.”

yoongi sighs, sagging even further against jeongguk’s chest as jeongguk continues his slow working up yoongi’s arm. “i just feel bad.”

“about what? missing work? making people worry about you? all of that is okay, hyung. you’re only human. they’re not going to fire you for getting sick once.”

“i don’t like letting people down,” mutters yoongi. “or feeling like i am. especially because this is still a new job and i’m trying my best to impress them and be a good worker, but it’s hard when i’m literally throwing up in the toilets over my lunch break.”

“i know, hyung,” says jeongguk, moving his head to kiss the side of yoongi’s face. “i feel like that, too. you know i’m a people pleaser, so i don’t like missing work even if it’s something i can’t avoid. but it’s okay to be weak, you know? and to need people and to admit that there’s something wrong. they’ll understand.”

“i also just don’t like being sick,” adds yoongi with a huff. “it’s awful.”

“you get to cuddle with me all day, though,” says jeongguk, “and we can watch as many movies as we want and eat so much soup that we never want to eat soup again. and everyone else will come over to give you things and spend time with you if you want. you know that everyone wants to help you get better, because they love you.”

“i can cuddle with you any other day,” argues yoongi, “and i won’t run the risk of getting you sick, too.”

“that would be so romantic if we were sick together. like our immune systems can’t handle the other being down on its own.”

“that’s so gross.”

“we could make out and see if anything happens.”

yoongi giggles a little, weakly batting away jeongguk when he tries to kiss yoongi’s face again, a little closer to his lips—and jeongguk doesn’t want to get sick, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to suffer together. anyway, he gives up after a few seconds, instead moving to massage yoongi’s other hand and arm.

“thank you for letting me take care of you, though,” he adds. “i love you a lot.”

“love you, too, guk-ah,” sighs yoongi. “even when you make me take medicine that tastes bad.”

“it’s done out of love.”

“can’t the love taste like something other than my own vomit, though?”

true to jeongguk’s promise earlier, they do cuddle for the rest of the evening. yoongi doesn’t have to throw up again, so it’s a good sign that he’s been able to keep the soup down. jeongguk reads passages out of jane austen to him for a bit, trying to put on an accent and doing a terrible job of it as yoongi protests that he’s ruining the story, but it makes yoongi laugh, and that’s better than him being miserable about being sick. it doesn’t last long because jeongguk makes him take more medicine, but he makes up for it again with gentle kisses peppered all over his face and jeongguk singing part of one of those songs that he wrote years ago.

jeongguk had things to do tonight, but he likes this much better—taking care of yoongi however he can, making him feel better just by being here. yoongi does so much to take care of him day to day, even just driving him places or asking him how his day was, but it’s a reminder that jeongguk is good at taking care of yoongi, too. that they’re good for each other, that they belong here.

eventually, yoongi falls asleep like that—cuddled against jeongguk’s chest while jeongguk sings to him, and jeongguk looks down at him and feels his heart swell and swell. thinks that he wouldn’t mind doing this for the rest of life, thinks that he doesn’t want anyone else to ever take care of yoongi when he’s sick. or when he’s not sick, too. jeongguk wants this—forever.

he digs in yoongi’s drawers until he finds some pajamas for himself, popping into hoseok’s room to tell him that he’ll stay with yoongi tomorrow so hoseok doesn’t have to worry about taking care of him, and then slips back into bed. he just admires yoongi for a time, gently playing with his hair, and then dips down to press a kiss to his forehead.

“goodnight min yoongi,” he whispers, “who is not sick.” he doesn’t get an answer other than the soft snore that yoongi gives, and—that’s enough.

in the morning, jeongguk wakes to movement and noise—not much, but it’s there. by the time he’s pulled fully into consciousness and blinks open his bleary eyes, he realizes that yoongi is no longer in his arms. he blinks a few more times, just enough to realize it and then realize what it means—that yoongi might be even sicker than he was last night, having run to the bathroom to throw up or something worse, and jeongguk rolls over quickly only to collide with yoongi—

who is sitting on the edge of the bed and trying to pull on a pair of socks.

“hyung,” jeongguk begins, squinting through the darkness at him. “what are you doing?”

“i’m going to work,” says yoongi as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and jeongguk relaxes for a second, because that makes sense. it’s a thursday.

and then—“you’re not supposed to be going to work,” says jeongguk.

“i told you i’m fine, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “whatever you did last night worked like magic and i’m perfectly healthy today and can totally go t—”

no,” grumbles jeongguk, reaching out and wrapping himself around yoongi, arms on one side and legs on the other. “you’re not going. you’re sick and staying here with me.”

“i’m fine.

“min yoongi,” scolds jeongguk as he tightens his hold on yoongi and then rolls, effectively tipping yoongi over the both of them with a yelp. he lands on the bed as jeongguk lazily and sleepily lets go of him, but only to roll out from under yoongi and flop on top of him instead, starfishing and hoping that his deadpan weight is enough to keep yoongi where he is. “you’re staying here.”

“guk-ah.”

“i’ll cry,” mumbles jeongguk, pressing his face into yoongi’s chest. “don’t make me cry, hyung.”

“i have to go to work—”

jeongguk flings a hand toward yoongi’s face, smacking it against his forehead and holding it for a second before he says, “i think you still have a fever. stay.”

“i’m going to be late if you don’t let go of me.”

“i’ll give you a blowjob,” says jeongguk, because it’s the first thing that comes to mind as the best way to make yoongi stay. if he’s so determined, then jeongguk just has to make sure that staying home has many more benefits than leaving does. he’s not actually sure giving a sick person a blowjob is a good idea, but there’s only one way to find out. if he hasn’t already gotten sick from all of the cuddling they did last night, he doubts sucking dick can do much.

when yoongi doesn’t immediately protest and try to throw jeongguk off of him, jeongguk looks up. blinks a few times to get the sleep out of his eyes, and sees yoongi looking back down at him with conflict written all over his face. he still looks sick, which is enough to tell jeongguk that it’s a much better idea if he stays here.

finally, yoongi says, “fine. i’ll stay.”

“good,” sighs jeongguk, letting his head rest against yoongi’s chest again. he scoops his arms under yoongi in a hug, realizing this is actually quite comfortable.

then—“well? aren’t you going to give me a blowjob?”

“not right now, jesus,” mumbles jeongguk. “it’s like, six-thirty in the morning and i’m tired and you’re sick. i’ll give it to you when you’re not sick anymore.”

hey

“i didn’t say when i was going to give you a blowjob, just that you would get one if you stayed. and you promised to stay. now hush and go back to sleep.” he wiggles an arm out from under yoongi, blindly searching for the blanket again so that he can throw it over them. he hears yoongi sigh in defeat above him, and then the blanket is thrown over him, and jeongguk grins, knowing he’s won—as usual.

despite the fact that jeongguk was never someone who went out a lot to begin with, each weekend with yoongi is spent indoors and together—often in bed, or snuggled together on someone’s couch. at first, when they realized this was how their relationship was turning, with less and less dates that didn’t involve studio ghibli movies and hot chocolate in bed, yoongi almost panicked. called jeongguk on a friday night once, concern clear in his voice as he asked, “are we boring?”

“what do you mean, hyung?” jeongguk had asked.

“we don’t really do anything anymore. are you bored with our relationship since we don’t go do fun things like other people? like dancing on the weekends or hiking or things like that?”

and jeongguk had laughed, just a little, said—“we’re not people who go dancing or hiking, though. we’re homebodies, min yoongi. and there is no place i’d rather be than right at home with you.”

and jeongguk doesn’t mind. he’s never liked hiking anyway, although it is nice when he and yoongi do go out—but when they’re both busy and spend so much time away from home as it is, there’s something extra relaxing about getting to spend an entire weekend cooped up together, just enjoying each other’s company. jeongguk revels in it now, after another long and hard week at work for both of them, sandwiched in jeongguk’s bed on a saturday afternoon. yoongi put some anime on jeongguk’s laptop, but it’s been shoved to the foot of the bed in favour of yoongi flopping on top of jeongguk’s chest and giving him chin kisses, which jeongguk thinks is the better alternative, anyway.

he compares it to being out in public and not being able to display such affection without someone staring at them, and jeongguk does like it. he giggles as yoongi kisses a line down his throat, pulling down the collar of his shirt to get as low as possible, and swats at his boyfriend’s head.

“i’m trying to tell you a story, hyung,” protests jeongguk.

“i’m listening,” says yoongi.

“no, you’re trying to distract me.”

“i’m very good at multitasking.”

jeongguk sighs, but he continues his story—about something stupid jimin and taehyung did the last time they were together, because jimin and taehyung are always doing stupid things—as yoongi crawls back up his body, starting to pepper kisses over jeongguk’s face instead. first his cheeks, then his nose, then his forehead—paying special attention to his moles, as usual. jeongguk is a fan of his own moles solely because yoongi is, because it’s impossible not to love all the parts of himself that yoongi does when yoongi treats him like this.

even if it is distracting.

“so then he was like—hyung, stop,” he giggles, yoongi biting his nose gently.

“that part doesn’t make sense with the story.”

“that’s because i’m telling you to stop,” says jeongguk, shoving lightly at yoongi’s chest. “if you just wanna make out with me, you can tell me and not bite me instead.”

“who said i want to make out with you?” asks yoongi, but apparently that’s all the invitation he needs as he ducks down to press their lips together. and maybe the story about jimin and taehyung can wait as jeongguk grins into the kiss, feels yoongi grinning into it, too. at the end of the day, it’s just this—he and yoongi and all of their love, and all of the trees blooming in jeongguk’s chest, a whole garden of flowers and butterflies. he doesn’t mind what they do as long as they do it together.

he’s no longer nervous around yoongi, because he knows that there’s no reason to be nervous, even when trying something new. yoongi is always going to be there to help him, to catch him if he falls. he’s not afraid of their future, because he doesn’t mind what happens as long as yoongi is standing by his side. he’s a better person with yoongi, and yoongi is a better person with him. they’ve been dating for almost five months, which might not be much to realize this sort of thing, but—it’s the truth. jeongguk just wants to be with yoongi. one day, they’ll move in together, and one day, they’ll probably get married. for now, yoongi is just kissing him soft and gentle and full of love, and that’s a good place to start.

there’s a knock at the door, suddenly, pulling jeongguk out of his thoughts as he makes a noise in the back of his throat; yoongi doesn’t stop kissing him, which means he can’t really get the door, but both namjoon and seokjin know yoongi is over, so. what do they expect?

but there’s another knock, and then namjoon’s voice through the door saying, “jeongguk-ah, please open up.” jeongguk makes another noise as yoongi kisses his bottom lip once, twice, says, “tell him to go away,” and jeongguk giggles, giving him a little shove away.

but he does say, “is it important, hyung? we’re kind of busy.” yoongi punctuates this sentiment by attaching his lips to jeongguk’s neck instead, making jeongguk giggle again, but it gives him no motivation to get out of bed and talk to namjoon.

the door opens just enough for namjoon to poke his head in, and jeongguk’s about to tell him that he didn’t say to come in when he sees namjoon’s guilty face. “i don’t mean to alarm you,” he says, “but um… your parents are here.”

jeongguk stares at him. namjoon stares back.

it’s yoongi who detaches his lips from jeongguk’s neck, pulls away, and asks, “pardon?

“i don’t know if you were expecting them,” adds namjoon, which—no. no, he was very much not expecting them, “but they’re literally in the kitchen and seokjin is making them tea and promising that you’ll be out in a second, so… yes. sorry. um—hello, hyung.”

“hi, namjoon-ah.”

the door closes behind namjoon, leaving jeongguk to stare at it as he tries to wrap his head around it. his parents—are here. and of course he loves his parents and is always happy to welcome them into his home, but they didn’t say they were visiting. and if they had said they were visiting, he would have made sure that he was home. alone.

after a long bout of silence, yoongi says, “so… i’m gonna meet your parents?”

that snaps jeongguk into action, who suddenly realizes the gravity of the situation and is out of bed in an instant, panicking as he starts searching for his fucking pants. he’s still wearing his pajamas, for god’s sake. “no,” he says belatedly in response to yoongi’s question. “no, oh my god, you—you have to leave. you have to leave!”

“what?” asks yoongi, sliding out of bed as jeongguk continues to tear through his room. where the fuck are his pants? “i can’t leave; the kitchen is on the way to the front door! they’ll see me.”

“then—go out of the window, i don’t know!”

“jeongguk-ah, that’s ridiculous.”

“jesus christ, finally,” huffs jeongguk when he finds his pants, quickly pulling them on before he heads for the mirror to do something about the state of his hair. and his face. “oh my god, i have hickies!

“yeah, well, we did fuck last night. and this morning.”

“oh my god,” whispers jeongguk, putting his face in his hands for a second. this is a disaster. this is such a disaster.

after a moment, yoongi asks, “wait… do they not know that you have a boyfriend?”

“of course they know i have a boyfriend,” grumbles jeongguk.

“then what’s so bad about me being here?”

because, hyung,” says jeongguk, dropping his hands and staring at yoong through the mirror; he doesn’t look much better than jeongguk. there’s a massive hickey on the side of his neck that jeongguk doesn’t even remember giving him. but it’s there. he’ll just have to borrow one of jeongguk’s turtlenecks. “as you know, i’m a perfectionist, and everything has to go according to plan, and this was not my plan for my parents to meet you.”

“what was the plan?”

“i don’t know,” huffs jeongguk. he starts running a hand through his hair, frantically trying to tame it. “it was going to be me taking you to busan, though, so we could have a whole pep talk on the way there and i would plan our outfits and we’d go over conversation topics to make sure that you don’t scare them with your tattoos and everything, and we’d be able to escape easily if something went wrong. it was going to be a whole thing. we have to prepare.

his parents aren’t bad people, of course—they’re likeable people, and they’ve liked all of jeongguk’s friends in the past. but none of jeongguk’s friends have been quite like yoongi. the only clothes that yoongi brought over are his stupid ripped jeans and band t-shirts, not to mention all of his tattoos and the fact that he’s still wearing some smokey-eye make up. there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s certainly going to be a shock to his parents, who know as little about yoongi as possible.

jeongguk was going to make this right, was going to make it perfect. and now his parents are just on the other side of that door and they’re going to meet yoongi now because yoongi can’t just hide in his room the whole time and he can’t sneak out either, and it’s going to be a disaster and his parents are going to hate yoongi and make them break-up and it’s going to be a mess and—

“hey, hey, guk-ah,” says yoongi, already across the room and grabbing his shoulder, turning jeongguk around and wrapping him up in a hug. “hey, you’re hyperventilating a little. take some deep breaths for me, okay?” jeongguk hadn’t even realized, but he does as yoongi says, burying his face in yoongi’s shoulder as he tries to breathe normally.

“it’s gonna be okay,” says yoongi. “it’s gonna be fine. if you want, i can hide in here the whole time and they’ll never know that i’m here. or i can go out there with you and it’ll be totally fine, because your parents are nice people and i’m very good at charming nice people. there’s nothing to worry about.”

“what if they don’t like you?” jeongguk mumbles, feeling yoongi’s fingers curling through his hair.

“you think that’s going to stop us from being together?” asks yoongi. “we know it’s a little jarring to see us together, especially for people who know you well. and i know you don’t want to upset your parents, but you can trust me. right? you can trust me, baby.”

jeongguk makes a noise in the back of his throat, neither a protest nor an agreement. he does know that yoongi is charming and is a different person from how his appearance looks, but he’s worried that his parents won’t be able to see beyond the tattoos and clothing. he’s worried that yoongi will accidentally say something to offend his parents because jeongguk hasn’t briefed him on the top five things his parents like talking about as well as all of the no-no’s in the jeon household. he’s worried that he’s going to throw up. he’s worried that his mother is going to ask if they use protection and then he’ll have to move to tibet in an attempt to escape that kind of humiliation.

but—yoongi is holding him, pressing kisses into his hair. saying, “we’ll be fine. we’ll go out there together and if it all goes to shit, we can eat our weight in ice cream and never talk about it again.” and that’s all he needs, isn’t it? someone who is going to be there with him through thick and thin, meeting the parents or not. he just wants his parents to like yoongi so badly. he wouldn’t know what to do otherwise.

finally, he pulls away from yoongi, pouting a little before he nods. “okay,” he says, and yoongi rocks up on his toes to press a reassuring kiss to jeongguk’s lips. “i can do this. right?”

“absolutely,” says yoongi. “but you’re going to want to cover up your neck, because that is really bad. goddamn, i need to calm down on the hickies.”

jeongguk, despite himself, snorts with laughter, although he does have to agree. it’s a pain in the ass when he goes to work, too, although he now knows all of the ways to cover up his neck and chooses his sweater specifically for that.

when he leaves his room, it’s with some hesitation, although he makes yoongi hold his hand as he heads down the hallway and then rounds the corner into the kitchen. sure enough, his parents are sitting at the table and having cups of tea as they speak with both namjoon and seokjin—both having been previously vetted by them before jeongguk actually moved in. he takes a deep breath and then clears his throat, effectively interrupting the conversation as all four of them turn to look at him.

“hello,” says jeongguk a little awkwardly. “mom and dad. nice of you to pop in.” his parents are out of their chairs in an instant, gleefully greeting him and pulling him into hugs, which unfortunately forces him to let go of yoongi’s hand—but he is happy to see his parents, grinning as they let go of him and fawn over him as usual.

“you’ve gotten skinnier,” says his mother. “have you been eating well?’

“yes, mom,” he says. “i promise i’m eating well. the hyungs feed me all the time even though i can make my own food.”

“that’s because he mostly makes ramen,” supplies namjoon, much to jeongguk’s chagrin.

“what are you two doing here anyway?” asks jeongguk after his mother has finished tugging on his cheeks to check how chubby they are. “i didn’t think you would be coming into seoul until next month at least.”

“change of plans,” says his mother. “we weren’t planning on coming anyway, but it’s an emergency with your father’s work, so we ended up here anyway and decided to surprise you with a visit.”

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk. “a real surprise.”

“and who’s this?” says his father suddenly, and jeongguk turns around to see yoongi hanging around by the entrance to the kitchen a little awkwardly—he’s wearing a sweater, at least, so the tattoos are covered up, but. his entire outfit is black, which is probably enough to tip off the fact that he’s a little different from jeongguk.

jeongguk pulls himself away from his mother, returning to yoongi’s side and slipping their hands together again before he turns back to his parents. with pink cheeks, he says, “um, this is min yoongi. my boyfriend.” he tries to remember everything that he’s told them about him—not much, since at first he didn’t want to jinx their relationship, and then it just got to be odd to tell them that he’d been dating someone for months without spilling yoongi’s entire life story. they know that he has a boyfriend, and knows that said boyfriend works in human resources. he imagines that they were expecting someone a little less… well. a little less like yoongi.

but he just watches them in anticipation, hoping that they won’t say anything awkward, because god knows it wouldn’t be the first time.

but then yoongi is reaching forward with his right hand, saying, “it’s very nice to finally meet you. jeongguk has told me a lot of great things about the two of you, so it’s an honour.” his parents stare for a moment before jeongguk’s father finally reaches forward and shakes yoongi’s hand, and then his mother afterwards.

“you live—” begins his mother, and jeongguk senses a disaster so he quickly jumps in with, “yoongi-hyung has an apartment with a friend across town. and he got a job a few months ago at a hospital, doing work in human resources, which he also has a bachelor’s degree in. and they really like him. right?”

he looks over at yoongi, who glances at him for a second before saying, “uh—yeah.”

“he’s a good worker,” says jeongguk, turning back to his parents, “and a lovely person in general. you don’t have to worry, he takes good care of me.”

“we weren’t questioning that,” says his father. “but it’s good to know.” jeongguk’s cheeks colour; he just doesn’t want them to judge yoongi prematurely, or to think that they’re not good for each other just because they look a little different. of course, they can’t know about the motorcycle, and yoongi with black hair is a lot less deviant-looking than yoongi with grey or mint hair. but jeongguk can’t help trying to control the situation, anyway.

finally, from the table, namjoon clears his throat and says, “well, i should be tending to some homework,” and he and seokjin quickly disappear from the room, leaving it all to yoongi and jeongguk. despite the bit of awkwardness in the air, considering the surprise of the situation, yoongi is the one who manages to take the reins; he suggests they sit at the table again and have a real conversation, and jeongguk just goes along with him, grasping desperately at his hand under the table as yoongi effortlessly converses with his parents.

he asks questions about his parents’ work, about their home, about their trip to seoul and if they want recommendations for restaurants while they stay. he tells them about his job when they ask in return, about himself and his own family even though jeongguk knows it can be a bit of a sore spot. he watches as right before his eyes, yoongi does what he said he would—he charms them. never once is he awkward, never once does he falter for an answer. this isn’t bad boy yoongi, whom seokjin and namjoon were worried about five months ago. it’s adult yoongi, who knows how to hold a conversation with people and impress them with his intellect.

it’s almost strange to see—not because yoongi isn’t intellectual with jeongguk, but because jeongguk has never really had to see him talk with people like this. he’s different with jeongguk, of course. but he does an amazing job of charming jeongguk’s parents, who at first seemed somewhat off-put by the whole situation but immediately relax when they realize yoongi is just… a good guy. jeongguk doesn’t even bother trying to jump in, too busy staring at his boyfriend and marvelling at all of it.

he’s pulled into the conversation, though, when yoongi says, “jeongguk tells me that you’re really supportive of him wanting to become a singer.” he blushes a little, but his parents grin at him at just the mention, nodding in agreement.

“of course,” says his father. “jeongguk was always a good singer, but he really came out of his shell with it in high school when he joined the choir. we weren’t sure what he was going to do after he graduated, but he told us that he wanted to pursue singing, and it wasn’t even a question of whether or not we’d support him. he’s our son and we love him, but more than that, he’s an amazing singer. we have an immense amount of faith in him.”

jeongguk blushes harder, bashful as he scratches at the back of his neck. “that’s embarrassing,” he mutters.

“but it’s true,” his mother agrees. “we’re always going to support him in any of his pursuits, but especially in this one. it was hard letting him come to seoul on his own, but he’s been doing well, and… of course we’re glad that he’s found someone who can help him and make him happy.”

jeongguk lifts his head suddenly, staring at her—did she just indirectly admit her approval of yoongi? when he glances at yoongi, he sees that yoongi has a somewhat similar expression, eyes wide. “i mean,” he says quickly. “thank you. and—yeah, of course. i agree that jeongguk has a really beautiful voice, so i’m always happy to support him with that.”

“he’s the one who encouraged me to find a singing group, actually,” admits jeongguk. “so it’s really thanks to hyung that i’m coming out of my shell even more.”

“you’re still saving for lessons, though?” asks his mother, to which jeongguk nods.

“i want to make sure that i can afford the best ones,” he says, “so it’s kind of taking a long time, but rent here isn’t too bad with three of us and i don’t spend a lot of money on other things.”

“that’s why you make me pay for all of our dates?” asks yoongi.

no,” flushes jeongguk, kicking him under the table. “i always offer and you insist that you pay. don’t make me look bad in front of my parents.” they chuckle at that—thankfully, since he doesn’t want them thinking that he’s some sort of golddigger, even though yoongi was hardly rich when they met. and he’s not rich now either, even though he has a proper job and is objectively doing better between the two of them.

his father asks, “how far are you to being able to begin lessons?”

“i haven’t added it up in a few weeks,” admits jeongguk, “but i was hoping to be able to start in time for my birthday. which is still three months away, but i should be good by then.”

his parents glance at each other quickly before his mother reaches across the table for his free hand, which jeongguk gladly gives her. “we’ve been talking a lot lately, your father and i,” she says, “and we want to help you out more with that, jeongguk-ah. we know that when you moved to seoul, you told us that you wanted to do this on your own as much as possible, but we can’t sit here and let you pursue your dreams without giving you a little boost. think of it as… an early birthday present.”

“what?” asks jeongguk. “what are you talking about?”

“we want to pay the rest of what you need for the lessons,” says his mother. “however much you need to be able to start doing lessons as soon as possible.”

jeongguk—lets it sit for a moment, trying to understand what she’s saying. that’s almost three months worth of saving. and it’s going to mean that he can start lessons as soon as possible, as soon as he finds someone that he knows will be right. “oh,” he says quietly. “oh, i—really?”

“yeah,” says his father. “of course, jeongguk-ah. we want to help as much as you need, if you’ll accept it.”

the truth is that he had told them that he wanted to do all of this on his own, but it’s still hard. it’s hard when he has this dream that he’s been toward for so long without seeming much growth because it’s all been saving his money, and as much as he likes his job at the bookshop, it’s not what he wants to do with his life. he wants to be a singer. and to be a singer, he needs lessons. and now his parents are offering to pay for the last of his savings, so that he can get a headstart on it.

slowly, he nods. “yeah,” he says. “yeah, yes, i’d—i’d really like that. i’d love that. thank you.” he ends up crying just a little thinking about it, and his parents pull him into tight hugs and they whisper their love to him and he can see yoongi over their shoulders, watching him with the bright sort of proud smile that makes jeongguk’s chest ache, because yoongi knows more than anyone what that kind of offer means to him—knows how frustrated he’s been with saving in the past, because he’s had to pay for something that he wasn’t expecting. he knows how much jeongguk wants this and how much he’s dreamed for it and what he’s gone through to get here.

when his parents leave—a half an hour later once they finish talking and politely decline a meal that jeongguk actually can’t cook so he’s glad they did decline it—jeongguk lets out a massive sigh of relief as he closes the door behind them and sags against it. yoongi stands by the table with that same grin on, and jeongguk asks, “what are you smiling about? that was the most stressful hour of my life.”

“they really love you, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi.

“yeah, i know.”

“and i do, too,” says yoongi, wandering over to him. he runs a hand over jeongguk’s cheek, grinning at him. “i told you that it was going to be fine.”

“i didn’t know you could be so charming,” says jeongguk with a grin of his own, letting himself be relieved and relaxed now that his parents are gone. “i’ve never seen you sound so grown-up.”

“do i not normally sound grown-up?”

“just earlier, you wouldn’t let me tell a story without trying to get it on, so i’m going to say no,” giggles jeongguk, giggling hardly when yoongi sticks his fingers into jeongguk’s sides and kisses him. “but—yeah, you were right,” he adds when yoongi pulls back. “it wasn’t bad at all.”

“i think they like me,” says yoongi. “now when you do take me home with you, we won’t have to do the whole brief thing because we already know i can impress them.”

jeongguk snorts, rolling his eyes as he pushes off the door and wraps his arms around yoongi’s neck, pecking him on the lips again. “we’ll still need a briefing for the rest of the family,” he says. “we have my brother and my brother’s wife and my parents and all of the cousins and aunts and uncles. they’ll all be scandalized by my boyfriend.”

“does that mean i can show up on my motorbike with tattoos showing and a knife in my hand?”

“why would you have a knife?”

“i don’t know, it seems like something i should have if i’m trying to scare them.”

jeongguk giggles, kissing yoongi again as he begins to walk them back toward his room. “sure,” he says. “my tiny, scary boyfriend. wait until they find out how much you nerd out about dual labour markets.

“you don’t think that adds to my bad boy image?” asks yoongi, affronted.

“even bad boys can be versatile, i guess,” says jeongguk, kissing him again and steering him down the hallway. “but now, if you don’t mind, i’m going to put you back in my bed and get back to what we were doing before we were so rudely interrupted by a surprise meet the parents activity.”

“you mean you’re finally going to finish that story about jimin and taehyung?”

“don’t tell me you want to hear that now,” sighs jeongguk, finally managing to get them into his bedroom before he closes the door behind him, somehow more in love than when he left.

during the first weekend of june, they go to the beach. it reminds jeongguk of home, a bit, even though the beaches outside of seoul aren’t quite like the ones outside of busan—but it’s a beach nonetheless, and he likes this better because he gets to be with all of his hyungs. soon, it’ll be a year since he moved to seoul, and as he watches his six hyungs unpack their things on the beach and set up their beach towels and beach chairs, he has to marvel at how much has changed—and how far he’s come in just a year. when he moved to seoul, he didn’t know anyone and didn’t know anything, didn’t know what he was doing other than chasing a dream that was too far away to actually grasp. now he has two wonderful roommates, and a wonderful boyfriend, and three other wonderful hyungs who make him feel loved and special every day. he’ll be able to begin taking singing lessons as soon as he chooses a vocal coach, and he’s happy.

that’s the important bit, he thinks: he’s happy.

he’s happy as he trails after yoongi, lugging the massive cooler of food and drinks that they all packed to bring for their afternoon at the beach. he insisted on bringing as much sports equipment as possible, too, even though yoongi quickly informed him that he would not be joining in. jeongguk informed him that he can play sports with or without yoongi, thank you very much.

“hyung,” he calls once the seven of them find a good piece of the beach to claim, putting down the cooler next to the chairs that they’re already setting up. “what’s the point of going out in the sun if you’re going to be covered up like that?”

yoongi turns to look at him—indeed covered from head to toe. even though he has a short sleeve shirt and shorts on, he’s still wearing black leggings and a long sleeved shirt under that, plus a sun hat. “some of us don’t have legs like yours, jeongguk-ah,” he says.

“i like your legs,” says jeongguk.

“you have to say that because you’re my boyfriend. i don’t want to blind anyone.”

it’s understandable—yoongi’s legs are kind of white, but that’s just because he doesn’t let them ever see the sun. in any case, he watches as yoongi lays out his beach towel under one of the umbrellas that they’ve claimed and then lies down on it, completely covered in shade. jeongguk stares down at him for a second.

“are you… going to stay there the whole time?”

“yep,” says yoongi.

jeongguk takes a moment, and then squats beside him, tipping the hat back so he can look at yoongi’s face. “don’t fall asleep or the others will pull your shirt up and make a funny design in sunscreen and then leave you to fry.”

“you mean you’re not going to stand guard over me the whole time?”

“i have several hyungs to destroy in watersports.”

“this isn’t a nudist beach, jeongguk-ah.”

“that’s—hyung,” protests jeongguk, cheeks flaring red. yoongi just grins at him, all proud of that terrible joke, and then makes a grabby hand so jeongguk dips down and presses a kiss to his lips. “have fun relaxing.”

“have fun kicking ass,” says yoongi, and jeongguk leaves him so he can join the rest of his hyungs in their beach activities.

he challenges jimin, taehyung, and seokjin to a game of beach volleyball—hoseok and namjoon have taken to exploring the beach further down, probably trying to find crabs or something—and lets seokjin on his team only because seokjin promises to win them at least half of the points. of course, that’s not what happens—it’s not that he’s bad at the game, it’s just that jimin and taehyung seem to move as one most of the time and seokjin keeps trying to make a fool of himself with spectacular dives that end in the ball hitting the ground rather than his arms.

when they’re sitting at a measly ten points to jimin and taehyung’s twenty, with the match point coming up, jeongguk aims a swift kick at seokjin’s shin. “you told me you were gonna win half the points!”

“have i not?” he asks.

“we’re losing. i’m going to throw you into the ocean if we do.”

“at least give me a floatie to save me,” says seokjin, and jeongguk gives him a shove before he tells taehyung to serve the ball. he does, sending it flying in a wide arc over the net, and jeongguk gets it, passing it to seokjin, who passes it back for a spike; jeongguk hits it over the net, but jimin saves it at the last second as taehyung sends it flying over the net again, far enough back that seokjin has to go running for it, and jeongguk is already groaning as he watches seokjin dive, flailing an arm out for the ball—which lands beside him as seokjin does a face plant into the sand.

behind him, jimin and taehyung start cackling, high-fiving as they win the game. jeongguk lets out a sigh, and then goes marching for seokjin, grabbing his arm to peel hm off of the ground.

“i almost had it!” protests seokjin as he gets up, letting jeongguk drag him toward the water. “please, i did my hair so well this morning! i didn’t want to go in the water!”

“we’re at a beach, hyung. why wouldn’t you want to go in the water?” asks jeongguk, but seokjin starts struggling anyway, and the two of them end in a strange standing wrestling match just feet from the water. jimin and taehyung start cheering for jeongguk behind him as he gets his hands around seokjin’s arms, backhugging him and dragging him toward the water. seokjin is surprisingly strong, but jeongguk keeps giggling as he drags him into the water, realizing that the only way he’s going to get seokjin under is if jeongguk goes with him—which is fine.

“jeon jeongguk!” shrieks seokjin nonetheless, trying to break out of his grasp as jeongguk walks them into the water, just their feet at first, and then their ankles, their calves—“let go of me right now! i’ll bite you!”

“put him in!” taehyung yells. “put him in, jeongguk-ah!”

“don’t you dare,” says seokjin as jeongguk finally stops walking, the water up to their knees. seokjin turns around to look at him, eyes dark, and jeongguk just grins at him before he throws both of them sideways into the water.

there’s a lot of wrestling in the water too—seokjin pushing at him and trying to push his head under the water, and jeongguk fighting right back, laughing so hard that he almost swallows a whole gallon of water. jimin and taehyung join them after a moment, willingly running into the water and roughhousing with them as they all try to drown seokjin—or not actually drown him, but he’s screaming bloody murder, so it’s close enough. eventually, jeongguk gives up and just watches as jimin, taehyung, and seokjin squabble about the water, dissolving into more competitions about who can hold their breath the longest or who can swim the farthest, hanging back a bit.

when he turns around, he sees hoseok and namjoon have returned from their walk down the beach and he joins them instead, shaking out his hair once he gets out of the water.

“did you find anything?” he calls to the pair, seeing them stop and turn around to wait for him.

“there is a sad lack of sea life on the beach,” says namjoon. “but we did find some cool shells and rocks.” he holds out his hand to jeongguk, offering some of their findings, and jeongguk grins down at them, running his fingers over the shells.

“that’s cool,” he breathes.

“we heard you trying to murder seokjin-hyung,” says hoseok, to which jeongguk laughs. “he told me how much work he put into his hair this morning, so i’m sure he’s not happy about that.”

“yeah, but who does their hair on a beach day?” asks jeongguk. “who comes to the beach and doesn’t even anticipate going in the water?” after a second, namjoon turns and gazes further up the beach, to where the last member of their group is still curled up under the umbrella. jeongguk considers—“okay, who other than yoongi-hyung doesn’t anticipate going in the water?”

hoseok and namjoon laugh at that, inviting jeongguk to walk with them as they go down the other end of the beach in search of other shells. he’s happy to go with them; it’s the first time he’s been to a beach in seoul, since last summer was spent just trying to figure out how to get around the city, let alone get out of the city in order to hit up a beach. it’s a nice day, not too hot, but perfect for beach weather, and they pass by others who have come out for the afternoon. they find a few other shells and rocks to collect, although no crabs, much to namjoon’s chagrin. jeongguk promises that they’ll have to go to a beach that does have crabs at some point, just for him.

by the time he gets back to their section of the beach, jimin, taehyung, and seokjin are trying to build a massive sandcastle on the edge of the water line. the other three are happy to join them, although jimin has clearly taken over as the head builder and basically orders everyone around—which jeongguk doesn’t mind, since he’s happy just to take part.

“it should have a moat,” says seokjin. “all great sandcastles have a moat.”

“and a drawbridge!” says taehyung, to which jimin asks, “and how, pray tell, are you going to make it work?”

“oh, ye of little faith.”

jeongguk grins as they attempt to make the castle—it doesn’t go over very well because they don’t actually have any buckets to put the sand into, but they try to mold it themselves into something at least resembling a castle.

“whose castle is this anyway?” asks namjoon after they’ve tried and failed several times to make towers, just going for lumps with sticks coming out of the top instead.

after a moment, hoseok says, “it’s yoongi-hyung’s.”

“shouldn't he get a say in what we put in it, then?” asks namjoon, to which everyone disagrees. he’s sleeping, anyway.

“we know him,” agrees jimin. “we can figure it out. can someone make a sand motorcycle?”

“he needs a massive library,” says jeongguk.

oh! and a sand jeongguk,” says jimin. jeongguk throws a fistful of wet sand at him, not wanting to see himself as a sand person for fear of what it would look like. “what? i’m not saying you’re the damsel in distress who’s locked in the tower. you obviously own the castle with him.”

“and you have fourteen little sand dogs,” says taehyung, “as you rule over the entire sea. i bet you can talk to dolphins and everything.”

“isn’t this getting a little out of hand?” murmurs jeongguk as he start piling more sand on the castle rather than listen to the others start coming up with he and yoongi’s sand lives as the kings of the sea or whatever it is they’re talking about. not only do they have fourteen sand dogs, but they also have a whole sand stable with sand sea horses that they ride when they go out to the sea to check on their subjects—which includes mermaids, pirates, and sirens. hoseok is just getting to the part about sand children when jeongguk decides he’s had enough, reaching out to shove hoseok backwards into the sand. it causes him to lose his own balance though when hoseok grabs onto his hand and tugs him forward with him, over the castle, and jeongguk puts down one of his hands to catch himself—right on top of the castle, effectively smashing it under him.

for a second, no one says anything as they stare at the damage that jeongguk has done.

and then seokjin says, “now look what you’ve done! you’ve gone and destroyed your own house!” jeongguk starts giggling even though he feels bad, considering they did just spend the past fifteen minutes putting it together, and seokjin gets up to grab his hand and drag him up with him. “as the head of your royal guard, i’m going to have to punish you immediately. come with me, young man.” he starts pulling jeongguk toward the water in a moment reminiscent of earlier when jeongguk dragged seokjin into the sea for ruining their volleyball game, but jeongguk doesn’t even bother fighting as he giggles at seokjin and the others watching, cheering for him to get a mouthful of water for ruining the sandcastle.

seokjin dunks him back into the water, tossing him as far as he can and holding him under for a few seconds before he lets jeongguk pop back up. “there,” he says. “have you learned your lesson not to go around and ruin castles?”

“yes, sir,” giggles jeongguk, splashing seokjin a little, and seokjin splashes him back. “i’m gonna go talk to my hus—” he stops, realizing what he was about to say, and feels his cheeks flaring with embarrassment before he quickly amends with a, “boyfriend. i’m going to talk to my boyfriend. and make sure he hasn’t died of heatstroke under all those layers.”

he wades out of the water, running a hand through his hair as he walks past the ruined castle—someone actually hisses at him as he passes, and he hears a stage whisper of, “it’s the castle crusher!” before he flings some sand with his toe at them and giggles. he joins yoongi easily, standing at the foot of his beach towel as he surveys how yoongi is indeed sleeping there, protected from the sun and heat by the umbrella.

jeongguk considers his options before he gets down on all fours over top of yoongi and starts shaking his hair in his face, effectively spraying water all over him. it takes a few seconds, but then he sees yoongi’s face scrunch up before he blinks his eyes open, their gazes meeting.

yoongi frowns. “what’re you doing?” he mumbles, voice groggy with sleep.

“hello min yoongi,” says jeongguk, “party pooper.” he shakes his head again, a few more droplets of water dripping down onto yoongi’s face—who makes a groaning noise and tries to shove him away.

“stop, you’re getting me wet.”

hyung, this is a public beach.” it takes a second, but then yoongi is groaning again and shoving him harder.

“i was having a nice dream, go away.”

“you should join us, hyung,” grins jeongguk, ducking down to press a kiss to yoongi’s cheek despite how grumpy he looks at having been woken up. “we’re building a sandcastle.”

“don’t like sandcastles,” mumbles yoongi, swatting at jeongguk again when he kisses yoongi’s other cheek.

“then i’m sure we can convince them to do some other fun beach activity that you’re into.”

“i’m into sleeping.”

jeongguk sighs, letting himself flop down onto yoongi with all of his weight—he’s still wet from head to toe, so now it’s going to soak into yoongi’s clothes too. but jeongguk just pouts at yoongi. “please, hyung?” he asks. “they were making fun of you earlier. so now you have to throw sand at them.”

eventually, yoongi concedes—once he’s woken up more, probably, thanks to jeongguk peppering his face with kisses. he gets up from the towel and jeongguk leads him back to the rest of the group by the hand, grinning the whole time as yoongi sort of waddles on the sand. they refuse to let jeongguk near the sandcastle again, having tied to patch up what he ruined—although if he’s being honest, jeongguk isn’t sure the sand castle was very nice to look at to begin with, so his destruction didn’t take away much.

instead, they take to playing games in the sand, sorting out the shells and rocks that namjoon and hoseok found, and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures—mostly of yoongi covered from head to toe as jeongguk leans on his back, beaming at the camera. it’s nice, though, he thinks. it’s really nice to just be together like this, to have fun and to laugh. he knows that it’s only going to get harder to do this from here on out, with all of them progressing in their careers or schooling. hoseok has been accepted to a few different film schools and just has to choose the one he wants. namjoon has finished the first year of his master’s degree and only has one left to go. seokjin has an audition next week. jimin’s school year just ended and he has just one left as well. admittedly, jeongguk doesn’t really know what taehyung does, because he never gives a straight answer when jeongguk asks. yoongi has been doing really well at his job, impressing his boss.

and jeongguk—well. he’s on the brink of something more, too. he’s been searching vocal coaches in the city over the past few weeks in preparation for choosing one, but he hasn’t chosen one just yet. he has his favourites and he’s even spoken to some of them, but it’s a step that he’s too nervous to take at the moment, no matter how excited and sure of himself as he is.

it’s as they’re digging into the food that they packed, back to sitting on their beach towels and chatting, that jimin collapses next to him. he grabs one of the bottles of water from the cooler and nudges jeongguk’s knee with his, asking, “what’s on your mind?”

jeongguk blushes a little, not realizing he’d looked troubled. “just thinking about some stuff.”

“like what?”

the truth is that jeongguk hasn’t told anyone outside of yoongi that he’s searching for a vocal coach in earnest now, maybe because he’s nervous or because he doesn’t want anything to fall through. he has the money now, thanks to his parents, but there are still too many other variables—what if the coach doesn’t like him? what if the coach turns out to be the wrong one? what if it turns out he’s not as good at singing as everyone says he is?

but then he remembers that his hyungs love him and they want to support him. maybe what he needs is someone to give him that extra push to just go for it.

so jeongguk swallows the piece of food in his mouth and shyly says, “well, i’ve… been looking for a vocal coach, really seriously. my parents visited a few weeks ago and told me they wanted to pay for the rest of what i needed to save for the lessons, so now i can start them whenever i find the right coach.”

“no way,” gasps jimin immediately. “jeongguk-ah, that’s so good! i’m so happy for you.”

“thanks,” he laughs. “i dunno, i guess i’m just nervous that it’s not going to be the right thing. i’ve been dreaming about this for so long, but now that i’m actually going to start doing what i want… is it bad that i’m second-guessing myself?”

“i think everyone does that,” says jimin with a shake of his head. “you work so hard for what you want, but then as soon as it’s within your grasp, you start overthinking it, wondering if it’s actually the right thing for you, if you’re actually good enough for it. i did that too, when i got into my school.”

“really?”

“of course,” says jimin. “i love dancing and i know i’m good at it and i worked my ass off to get into school for it, but when i actually had the acceptance letter in my hand, i had that moment of wait, what if i’m making a mistake? and i think lots of people have that no matter how confident they are in themselves. the main thing is that you think about it logically and think about what you want and then push through that doubt.” he squeezes jeongguk’s knee. “i haven’t known you for as long as everyone else here, but i know you and i know your singing. you’re such a hard worker, jeongguk-ah, and you’re talented and this is what you’ve been working for. this is right for you. it’s scary, but you know that all of us will be here with you to take that step, right?”

jeongguk takes a moment to look around at their little group—yoongi, taehyung, and hoseok are deep in conversation, while seokjin and namjoon are busy throwing sand at each other in some sort of argument. it’s the two sides of the group: the serious side, the side that will be there to support him emotionally and physically if he needs it, and the silly side, the side that will be there to make him feel better, to make him laugh on the hard days. he’s been through hard things since he’s met them, but jimin is right—they’ve always been there to help him, and although he’s the one making the decision and going to the lessons and trying to be a singer, he’s not alone.

especially with yoongi—yoongi, who has done nothing but encouraged and supported him since day one, who has shown him the way to fight for what he wants and take that leap of faith by managing to get his own dream job in human resources. yoongi, who loves him, who makes jeongguk see that he’s not only talented and determined, but is worth betting his own money on.

jeongguk grins as he turns back to jimin, nodding. “yeah,” he says. “yeah, i know. it’s still scary, but… you’re right. i’m not making that step alone.”

“you’re the only one who can make the decision to really go for it,” says jimin, “but we’re all supporting you no matter what you choose. and we’ll all be here if it goes wrong to help you, and to celebrate if it goes right. it’s like the singing group in the first place, right? you had to go out on a limb for that, and it didn’t work out the first time, but look what the second time brought you. life is terrifying, but if you have good friends who love and support you… it’s a little less scary.”

he takes a deep breath, nodding. through his whole process of researching, he’s had his idea about which vocal coach he wants, but he’s been hesitant because of his doubt in himself. but he feels much more confident just from this little conversation with jimin, and he knows what he wants to do. once they get back from the beach—jeongguk is going to take that leap of faith. he’s going to finally reach for the dream he’s been keeping in his back pocket for years.

“i wanna get ice cream!” taehyung exclaims suddenly, before jeongguk can say anything more. he turns to look at the other, beaming at the group. “who’s with me?”

“aren’t you still lactose intolerant?” asks namjoon.

“how many times do i have to tell you that my lactose intolerance is a hurdle that i try my best to get over? it’s merely an obstacle in the way of my love for dairy.”

“can someone else please take him home?” asks jimin. “he’s gonna get the shits and i don’t want to deal with that in my toilet.”

“nose goes,” grins jeongguk as he touches his nose, glad to see both namjoon and seokjin do it immediately, leaving hoseok and yoongi to last.

“fine, he’s your problem now,” says jimin as he gets up from the sand, wiping himself off. “ice cream it is, then!”

as they’re packing up their things, folding up the towels and chairs and taking one last photo of the sand castle, yoongi gravitates to jeongguk’s side and nudges him. “sorry i was asleep for most of this,” he says. “i hope you still had fun.”

“i can have fun with the others without you, hyung,” teases jeongguk, knocking their shoulders together. yoongi rolls his eyes, but jeongguk understands what he means, anyway—but the truth is that as long as yoongi is enjoying himself, then jeongguk is happy, even if that means yoongi is sleeping the whole time.

“what were you talking to jimin about?” asks yoongi.

jeongguk hands him the beach towel, grinning before he says, “he was just giving me a pep talk about finally choosing a vocal coach.”

“and?”

he blushes a little. “i think i’m ready to actually do it. i’ve been waffling for so long because i’ve been scared, but he made me realize that it’s always going to be scary and i just have to go for it. and it’ll be less scary when i know that everyone is supporting me.”

yoongi grins, reaching out and tugging him closer so he can kiss jeongguk. “good,” he says. “when we get back, we can contact the one you like most, hm?”

jeongguk nods. it’s terrifying to see it all put into place, but he knows it’s what’s best for him—and what he wants. yoongi has finally secured the job that he wants, so it’s time for jeongguk to take that step, too.

but first—ice cream.

true to his word, jeongguk contacts a vocal coach once they get back from the beach. he’d narrowed it down to two after speaking with the ones that he liked the most from his initial research, and both had seemed enthusiastic about taking him on as a student, but he’d just needed to choose. it’s scary, even though he knows it’s for the best. he makes yoongi hold his hand as he dials the number and thrums with excitement and nerves as he waits for the man to pick up. but he does. jeongguk chooses him, finally puts in the first steps to achieving his dream.

after he hangs up, yoongi grabs his face and kisses him all over, again and again and again—“i’m so proud of you,” he says, and jeongguk kind of wants to cry, both from the fear and the relief. “i’m so fucking proud of you.”

jeongguk is learning to be proud of himself, too.

although he expects that everything will be kept low-key—it’s just jeongguk choosing a vocal coach, and it still might turn out to be a huge mistake and everything could go wrong—yoongi insists that they celebrate much in the same way that they did when yoongi got his job. although jeongguk isn’t sure going out to a bar like they did that time will be a good idea, yoongi shows up at jeongguk’s on a saturday morning and insists that he get on yoongi’s motorcycle.

or—he says, “good morning jeon jeongguk, future king of the music industry. please get on my bike.”

jeongguk peers out at the street, where yoongi’s bike is parked, and then down at his bunny socks. “good morning min yoongi,” he says, “do i have to?”

“yes,” says yoongi. “it’s imperative or we’ll be late.”

“for what?”

“you’ll see,” winks yoongi, and then leans forward to peck jeongguk’s lips before pushing him back into the apartment. “i’ll be waiting!” he turns around and dashes down the steps and sidewalk toward his apartment, leaving jeongguk no choice but to do as he says and go along with it. he’s honestly a little afraid that yoongi will take him somewhere he doesn’t want to be—like to a huge celebration with a crowd of people, although he’s not sure that either of them know enough people to be called a crowd. it could be something that was seokjin’s idea, considering the wiggly eyebrows he gives jeongguk when they pass each other in the apartment as jeongguk is on his way to put real clothes on, and in that case, he really doesn’t want to know what it is.

but yoongi won’t give him any hints as he fits the hello kitty helmet on his head—with yoong’s now-black helmet, as promised—and gets on the bike, letting it roar to life before they take off down the street. jeongguk counts the seconds, like he always does, trying to recognize where they’re going as they head out of the residential area and toward the businesses between their apartments. it could be beansbins, because jeongguk is never going to say no to waffles, but yoongi doesn’t turn in that direction.

instead, they stop outside of an unfamiliar building, and jeongguk turns to look up at it with a frown. “soonsiki hair salon?” he asks as he steps off of the bike, reading the name on the front of the building.

“you mentioned that you wanted to get your hair dyed when we were doing mine, right?” asks yoongi as he undoes the strap on jeongguk’s helmet and pulls it off, ruffling jeongguk’s hair after. “you’ve mentioned it a few other times, so i figured… why not get it professionally done?”

“but that’s like,” begins jeongguk, licking his lips, “expensive?”

“yeah, well,” shrugs yoongi. “it’s my congratulatory gift to you for finding a vocal coach you like, and it’s probably going to be a better job than if i try it on you. plus, if you want to get it dyed pink…” that had been just an off-hand comment when he’d been dyeing yoongi’s hair, but now that they’re standing here and presumably have an appointment where he could do just that—

jeongguk grins. “okay,” he says, turning to look at yoongi. “i wanna do it.”

“good,” says yoongi, taking jeongguk’s hand and heading toward the salon. “because that’s what i told them to prepare for.”

it’s a whirlwind as they enter the salon and are taken through the motions of it—the hairdresser brings out a massive book of all of the shades of pink that they can dye jeongguk’s hair, which overwhelms him just a little. thankfully, yoongi gives his input on which one to go with, so jeongguk chooses a vibrant and deeper pink because he might as well go big. he practically vibrates as he sits in the chair and the hairdresser bleaches his hair first, watching in the mirror as she works at it.

“this is so much easier than when i dyed your hair,” says jeongguk once they’ve gone through the bleaching process and she’s going to start putting the pink dye in. “i was so scared that i was going to accidentally dye your face or something.”

“that’s why we pay them big money for this,” says yoongi as he grins at him, pulling out his phone to start snapping pictures. jeongguk thinks he looks stupid when it’s not finished, but he doesn’t mind when it’s yoongi.

“just think, now people are going to look us and think i’m the crazy one,” grins jeongguk. “you look too normal now. i’m the one with the weird hair.”

“your face is still too much of a baby face for anyone to think that you’re dangerous though,” replies yoongi, grinning when jeongguk pouts at him—and can’t retaliate physically like he normally does, since he’s not allowed to move out of the chair as the hairdresser applies the pink dye. “does that mean you’ll get a tattoo with me, though?”

jeongguk blanches. “what would i even get a tattoo of?”

“my face?”

“what if we break up?”

“that’s a terrible mentality to have when you’re dating someone.”

“i’m just being realistic,” shrugs jeongguk. “i wouldn’t get a tattoo of your face, but we could get matching tattoos, i suppose. but in like, two years when i work up the courage, because they look like they hurt.”

“it’s not bad,” says yoongi, “you get used to the pain, at least.”

jeongguk hums, trying to imagine it; he does love yoongi’s tattoos and he’s admired them countless times, although liking someone else’s tattoos is entirely different from wanting to get his own. but then again, he didn’t think he’d ever dye his hair an outrageous colour like pink, and they’re already halfway through that. “my parents would probably kill me,” he concludes.

“they didn’t kill you when they found out you were dating me,” says yoongi. “i just have to be a bad enough influence on you to dye your hair, get tattoos, and get you all pierced up. then we’ll see what your parents have to say.”

“we could be like matching, except you’re black and i’m pink,” grins jeongguk. “it’s a good aesthetic.”

yoongi grins at him—and jeongguk does like the idea of them being similar, although he also likes them being different. that’s what drew him to yoongi in the first place, probably—the fact that yoongi was so different from him, yet there was something that still drew them together and connected them in the first place. he wanted to know more, wanted to dig below the surface. their differences connect them as much as their similarities, so maybe dyeing his hair is as far as jeongguk is going to go at the moment.

when the hairdresser has finished dyeing his hair and he’s waiting for it to set with those ridiculous foils on his head, he kicks his foot into yoongi’s leg to get his attention where his boyfriend is currently reading some gossip magazine.

“what if it looks bad?” asks jeongguk quietly, eyes wide as he watches yoongi.

and yoongi just tilts his head. “it’s not going to look bad.”

“but what if it does?”

“then we’ll dye it back,” shrugs yoongi. “or you’ll wear beanies until it grows out enough to cut it. but i think you look beautiful no matter what you wear or what you have on your head.”

“maybe i can’t have dyed hair like you can,” pouts jeongguk. “you always look good with any hair colour.”

“hey,” says yoongi, frowning now as he crouches in front of jeongguk, hands on his knees. “baby. before i started dyeing my hair, it had just been black. always black, and i wanted to try something new, but i was scared, too, that it would look bad. maybe i didn’t care so much what people thought of it, but i still didn’t want to look bad. but then i dyed my hair, and some people didn’t like it, because there are always going to be people who don’t like what you look like. but i liked it, and hoseok liked it, and that’s what mattered.”

jeongguk wrinkles his nose.

“and you know what?” adds yoongi. “the first colour i ever dyed my hair was pink, too.”

“really? i didn’t know that was your first colour.”

“yep,” says yoongi. “it’s a risky choice to go with, sure, but it looked great on me and it’ll look great on you. and anyone who says otherwise can get fucked.”

despite himself, jeongguk’s lips quirk up into a grin. he’s not too worried—he’s imagined himself with pink hair before and he thinks he’ll look good, but he can’t help doubting himself just a little. it’s the same as with his singing—now that there’s literally no turning back, considering the dye is already in his hair, he has doubts. but as usual, yoongi is there to dispel them, giving him that same confident grin that he always has. so jeongguk chooses to believe him.

and when the hairdresser brings him back into her chair and takes off the foils, washing his hair and then blow drying it and styling it, jeongguk can only stare at himself in the mirror. his hair is really pink—vibrantly so, and it almost hurts his eyes. but… it does look great. in fact, it looks better than great.

he made yoongi stay in the waiting room to have a grand reveal, so once the hairdresser gives him some tips on how to best care for his hair and then walks him back to the receptionist desk to pay, he makes his way into the waiting room to grab yoongi. he’s a little nervous for yoongi’s reaction, not because he doesn’t think he’ll like it, but because he knows he will—and they’re in public. but the last time one of them dyed their hair, they ended up needing to not be in a very public place.

he spots yoongi in one of the seats, still reading that magazine. after a second, jeongguk clears his throat. “yoongi-hyung,” he says quietly, and yoongi’s head snaps up, eyes landing on him and—

his eyes go wide. he stares for a long, long moment, almost long enough that it makes jeongguk uncomfortable to stand there and stare back. self-consciously, he lifts a hand to tug at the hair at the back of his head.

“what do you think?” he asks, and yoongi stands up from his chair, tossing the magazine aside as he approaches jeongguk. when they’re toe to toe, he reaches up and tugs on the strands of his fringe, just like jeongguk had when he first saw yoongi with mint hair—and he thinks he might be able to understand what yoongi is feeling seeing him with a new hair colour. it’s quite an experience.

“wow,” breathes yoongi, staring at the pink of his hair. “you look—wow. holy shit. i don’t even have words.”

“good wow or bad wow?”

“good wow,” says yoongi. “great wow. absolutely fucking fantastic wow. you look like cotton candy and i kind of want to eat you.”

jeongguk giggles, cheeks going pink—and yoongi’s eyes drop to his face, grinning. “hey, you match,” he adds. “your hair is pink and so is your face. it’s really, really perfect. you’re like a fucking angel.”

“hyung, stop,” protests jeongguk, eyes skirting sideways to some of the others in the waiting room; they don’t seem to be paying attention to them, but he still doesn’t need to be reduced to a blushing mess by his boyfriend in public. “do you really like it?”

“i really like it, jeongguk-ah,” says yoongi. “it suits you. it’s really nice.” he supposes it’ll take some getting used to it, but yoongi was right—having his approval is perfect, and jeongguk already liked when it he saw it, so he’s not worried about it. he’s happy that they did this, finally taking that leap. it’s just about the most dangerous thing he’s ever done in his life, even if dyeing his hair isn’t dangerous at all. but he likes it. yoongi thinks he looks like cotton candy and an angel, and that’s good enough for him.

it turns out that seokjin did know something was up, because by the time yoongi drives jeongguk back to his apartment, there are two very familiar cars parked outside. he sends a suspicious look to yoongi, who just shrugs as he takes his helmet off, so jeongguk heads up the stairs to the door and carefully opens it. the apartment is dark despite it being the middle of the afternoon, and jeongguk carefully steps inside before calling out, “hello?”

there’s a loud, “surprise!” from the living room, and then a hushed, “jesus christ, namjoon, we decided against that,” and jeongguk giggles as he hurries into the room and flicks on the light. it douses all five of them in light—as well as the living room, which is decorated to the nines in what he can only guess are some party decoration store’s version of music party. they’ve even gotten a cardboard cut out of choi minho, although jeongguk isn’t going to ask how—or if one of them already had it in the closet.

that’s not the impressive part, though. the impressive part is namjoon, seokjin, hoseok, jimin, and taehyung all piled behind the sofa, peeking over top of it at him with wide eyes at having been caught, despite the premature surprise that namjoon yelled out. they’re all wearing new year’s hats—despite it being the middle of june—and fake glasses that have music notes coming off of the sides like wings. there’s a party horn in taehyung’s mouth, and jeongguk stares at him for a moment before he blows it.

after a second, hoseok asks, “is your hair pink?”

despite feeling like that shouldn’t be the focus of all of this, jeongguk lifts a hand to the back of his head and tugs at his new hair, blushing just a little. “um, yeah,” he says. “do you like it?”

“you look like cotton candy,” says taehyung.

“that’s what yoongi-hyung said.”

they fall into silence again, just for a second—and then the door opens and closes across the apartment, yoongi entering, likely thinking that he’ll come into a very different scene if he knew what the rest of them were planning.

again, namjoon yells, “surprise!” and hoseok smacks his shoulder. “what? he can clearly see us.”

“what the fuck is going on?” asks jeongguk with confusion.

“it’s a surprise party for you!” says jimin. “as a congratulations for choosing a vocal coach and starting your singing lessons. and also kind of a joint party because it’s almost yours and yoongi-hyung’s six month anniversary, and that’s like, a fucking long time in this day and age. but it’s mostly for you, don’t tell hyung.”

jeongguk’s laughter bubbles out of him almost against his will, staring at his friends as they still hide behind the couch. the decorations are one thing, but now that he actually looks around, he can see that in the kitchen, they have a whole spread already set out, including a cake in the middle of the table. it feels like his birthday, but better.

he turns back to them. “you didn’t have to do all of this, you know,” he says.

“of course we did,” says seokjin. “you’ve worked really hard for this, jeongguk-ah, and we’re really proud of you. so we want you to know that.” jeongguk turns around as he hears yoongi enter, that smug little grin on his lips, which means he was probably in charge of this, or at least partially. he just stares at jeongguk before he shrugs, as though he had no idea.

“i don’t—” begins jeongguk, turning back around to look at all of them—and they do look proud. they look really proud, and jeongguk doesn’t know what to do with all of that. it’s been a hard year in a lot of ways, but it’s been the best year of his life—he got to meet all of his friends here, and he started dating yoongi, and he’s finally going to take singing lessons so he can become a singer like he’s always wanted. and maybe that won’t work out, but for the first time in his life, jeongguk isn’t afraid of that. because he knows that no matter what, he’s always going to have these six people in his life to support him and help him and make him feel better if everything goes wrong. and that’s something that outshines every other achievement in his life, even if he becomes the most famous singer in korea.

before he can start crying, though—because he can feel the tears coming—he asks, “what were you going to do to announce yourselves before namjoon-hyung ruined it?”

“yeah, thanks namjoon-hyung,” says jimin.

“we were going to sing,” says hoseok. “jimin and taehyung spent a whole painstaking hour trying to get it right with us, but seokjin-hyung was too busy trying to waltz with minho over there.”

“what, he’s good-looking,” mutters seokjin.

“you can still sing for me,” says jeongguk with a grin, stepping over to yoongi and reaching for his hand. “i don’t mind.”

they do—it’s we are the champions by queen, which realistically shouldn’t be that hard to sing, but someone is off-key and someone else is off-time, and jimin keeps glaring daggers at the others when they get a word wrong, but jeongguk just giggles as he watches, can’t help feeling as though he’s right at home here and it’s perfect. it’s perfect because they love him and he loves them and they’ll do anything to make him laugh and they’re trying, which is what counts. they made him food and bought him a cake and decorated his apartment and they’re singing for him even though half of them aren’t singers, and that’s enough. that’s more than enough.

that’s how the whole thing goes—they share a group hug that turns into his hyungs trying to touch his hair and demanding to take pictures with him now that his hair is pink, and then they make jeongguk sing for them even though it’s embarrassing. they eat cake, which turns into a bit of a food fight after jeongguk wipes icing all over yoongi’s face and yoongi retaliates, and it ends with the two of them making out with icing all over both of their faces as some of the others cheer them on—and namjoon hollers about not getting icing on the floor, because he doesn’t want to clean that up.

eventually, they eat the rest of the food that they prepared—taehyung whispers to jeongguk that they actually bought it and just plated it to look like they made it, but jeongguk is touched anyway. they open up bottles of wine and soju and end up crowded on the sofas and floor in the living room, drinking as they talk and laugh. the party is for jeongguk, but he likes it better when it’s about all of them, when he’s not quite the center of attention, instead letting him glue himself to yoongi’s side as he watches the antics of his friends.

“now that yoongi-hyung and jeongguk have gotten their lives together,” says seokjin a little drunkenly, sitting in the middle of the floor as he surveys the rest of them, “it’s time that the rest of you lazy fucks did something. i wanna hear five-year plans.”

“lazy fucks?” asks namjoon. “i’m in the middle of my master’s degree.”

“all you do is sit in the library and read, joon-ah,” says seokjin. namjoon almost gets up from the sofa to fight him (or jeongguk assumes he’s going to fight him) but jimin reaches out and grabs him first, throwing a leg over his lap to keep him in place instead.

“i want to be in musicals or something,” says jimin. “i’ll be done my degree by then, and i think it would be cool to be on broadway or something. even if it’s not as the main actor, just a background dancer would be cool. oh, or i could go on world tours with famous singers and be their back-up dancers.”

“you can be my back-up dancer, hyung,” calls out jeongguk, grinning. “actually, i’ll make you my choreographer.”

“i don’t think that’s how it works,” says jimin. “you can’t just walk into a company and demand something like that.”

“that’s how it works in the movies,” shrugs jeongguk. “i’ll have such a beautiful voice that they’ll do anything to sign me, so i’ll have this whole list of demands. i’ll make jimin-hyung my choreographer, and i’ll get seokjin-hyung signed with the same company so he can be in dramas.”

“i’m doing very well on my own, thank you,” huffs seokjin. “in five years, i’m going to sweep every entertainment awards show ever. just watch me.”

“me too,” says jeongguk. “daesangs for days.”

“i’m gonna do a ph.d,” says namjoon with a nod. “maybe in five years, i’ll finally be out of school.”

“don’t you want to be professor?” asks yoongi with a frown. “you’ll never be out of school in that case.”

namjoon groans, head tipping back against the sofa. “don’t remind me.”

jeongguk giggles, although he knows it’ll be a good job for namjoon when he eventually gets there—he’d be good at whatever he does, of course. after a moment of silence, hoseok says, “i just want to see my name on the credits of some movie. doesn’t even matter if it’s a big movie or if i make a lot of money—i just want to see it there.”

“you’ll invite us to the premiere, right?” asks jimin. “i want an excuse to buy a new outfit and everything.”

“and if you work with famous actors, you have to introduce us,” adds taehyung.

“hey,” says seokjin. “how come you didn’t ask me to introduce you to famous actors? when i am going to be the famous actor?”

“i don’t trust you,” says taehyung, giggling when seokjin gets offended—rightly so, probably—and scoots over to the couch before pinching taehyung’s knee.

seokjin asks, “and what about you, then?”

“me?” asks taehyung. “i dunno. i kind of just like seeing where things go.”

“i still don’t know what you do for a job,” says jeongguk suddenly, realizing that he’s known taehyung for quite a few months and has no idea. taehyung winks at him. he had mentioned when they first met that he wanted to be a rocket scientist, so it’s possible that he actually is in school, but jeongguk has just never seen a textbook at he and jimin’s apartment.

“honestly, though,” says taehyung. “it would be cool to work for nasa.”

“only if you introduce us to the aliens,” says seokjin.

taehyung grins. “deal.”

the conversation goes a little silent, then, until jeongguk realizes that there’s one person who hasn’t detailed their own five-year plan. he turns his head to look at yoongi, snuggling a little closer as he asks, “what about you, yoongi-hyung?” it’s different, maybe, when yoongi is no longer in the process of trying to reach his goal. there are always more goals to reach and more places to go, considering he’s only twenty-five, but. yoongi turns to look at him, a little grin on his lips.

“i just wanna be happy,” he says. “whatever that looks like.” jeongguk wants to guess, wants to hope—it looks like him. they’ve been together for six months, or will have been in just a week, and yoongi is his first boyfriend, but. he thinks he knows. and he wants to hope, and he wants to believe, because what’s the point of loving someone if he’s not going to plan on being with them for a very long time?

his thoughts are interrupted by hoseok saying, “that’s both disgusting and beautiful at the same time.”

“i have to agree, hoseok-ah,” says seokjin. “look at how they’re looking at each other. i bet they’re thinking some cheesy shit right now.”

jeongguk giggles, eyes skirting away from yoongi’s to land on the rest of his hyungs, who are all watching them with vague senses of fear or disgust. namjoon says, “i bet within a few years, we’ll have to throw a stupid engagement party for them. and please, for the love of god, don’t make us sing that time.”

“the singing would have worked out just fine if you hadn’t yelled surprise when i distinctly remember us deciding against that!” argues jimin.

“and who decided that?” asks namjoon. “it certainly wasn’t me.”

“i, for one, didn’t want to sing anyway,” says seokjin. “it’s cheesy as shit!”

“it would have sounded great!”

“you’re just saying that because you’re an actual singer.”

“well, i didn’t want to say anything—”

jeongguk tunes them out, letting the five of them argue and squabble as he turns back to yoongi instead. he grins at him as yoongi winks back, and—that’s strange, maybe, that he doesn’t feel embarrassed about their insinuations for yoongi’s five-year plan. because maybe it’s true. because jeongguk doesn’t mind it. they’ll get there eventually, and for now, he’s happy to have this, at least as yoongi leans over and presses their foreheads together and then tilts his head until jeongguk can meet him in the middle in a kiss.

it takes a few more hours of them lazily hanging out and talking for the party to break up. the sun has already set and jeongguk is almost tired enough to just go to sleep—although he might just be drunk off of happiness and love, realizing that this is the best place that any of this could end. he still has the summer ahead of him, still has his whole life ahead of him, but he’s no longer afraid of what it’ll bring now that he has these wonderful people by his side.

“some of you may have your whole lives figured out, but the rest of us have to go to work tomorrow,” sighs hoseok as he gets up from the sofa finally.

“what?” asks jimin. “i was just getting started with the party. i think we should continue it.”

“please not in my apartment,” groans jeongguk. “you’re gonna make me clean it all up.”

“alright, fine, i’ll go somewhere else. anyone with me?”

there’s a moment, and then seokjin looks at namjoon, and namjoon looks at jimin. “yep,” he says. “seokjin-hyung and i are in. i don’t want to look at these horrendous decorations for a moment longer.”

“you’re still going to make me clean up alone?” asks jeongguk, to which seokjin crawls over and pats his knee.

“put your boyfriend to work,” he says, getting up from the floor and stumbling a little—which might be a sign that he really doesn’t need to continue the party, but jimin is already calling for a round-up as yoongi calls out, “please take a cab!”

“mind if i go home with you, then?” asks taehyung, nodding toward hoseok, who happily grabs his hand and pulls him off of the sofa as well. jeongguk watches as the bustle about cleaning up a little—mostly just putting their bottles in the sink and making sure they haven’t dumped their sweaters elsewhere, and then they’re all clambering toward the door to put on their shoes.

jeongguk looks over the back of the sofa toward them. “please be safe,” he calls.

“we’re always safe, jeongguk-ah!” namjoon calls back. “please don’t fuck on the couch.”

“why do they always assume we’re going to have sex when we’re left alone?” jeongguk mutters, turning to look at yoongi with a pout.

yoongi says, “because we do.” and that’s—not entirely true. but it’s kind of true. in any case, he waves his friends off, reminding them not to drink too much and to get enough sleep, and then—as the door closes, there’s finally blessed silence. he sits in it for a moment before he turns back to yoongi and lets out a little sigh, leaning his head on yoongi’s shoulder.

“that was nice,” he says. “if not a little overwhelming, but. i’m really glad that everyone is happy for me.”

“of course, baby,” says yoongi, pressing a kiss into his hair. “we all want what’s best for you and we’re proud of you for taking this step.”

“i could probably do without the cardboard cutout, though,” he says. “that was kind of creepy.”

“i think they bought it for you to keep.”

“where the fuck am i supposed to put it?”

“you can put it in namjoon’s and seokjin-hyung’s bedrooms in the middle of the night to freak them out.” jeongguk giggles at the idea, nuzzling his cheek into yoongi’s shoulder. as much as he does love his hyungs, it’s nice to have a moment of peace and quiet with yoongi. it feels as though they don’t get much of it anymore, although he knows that’s just how life is going to go now that they’re getting even busier. he just has to treasure every moment they do get.

after a few minutes, yoongi lets out a little sigh and says, “we should probably clean up at least a little. less work for tomorrow, hm?”

jeongguk groans, but he knows yoongi has a good point—and it’s not a total mess in here, but there is definitely icing on the kitchen floor and someone spilled wine earlier, not to mention all of the decorations that they have to get rid of. it’s yoongi who untangles them first, getting off of the sofa and leaving jeongguk slumped there for a little while before he eventually gets up, too, wandering into the kitchen to start putting away some the dishes. he gets bored easily, though, as he’s wont to do when it comes to cleaning, and wanders through the rest of the apartment as he hears yoongi cleaning up in the living room.

the truth is that he doesn’t want to clean. he can think of much better things to do, especially since they have the apartment to themselves and they’re celebrating and it’s almost their six month anniversary. and that really is a damn long time—although it doesn’t feel like it’s been six months, since it’s all gone by in something of a blur. but a good blur, one that he doesn’t even mind being a blur, because he’s planning on spending many more six month increments of time with yoongi.

he wanders into his room, spotting yoongi’s leather jacket thrown onto the bed. and then he gets an idea.

a few minutes later, jeongguk wanders back into the living room to see yoongi still cleaning up, trying to pry some of the decorations off of the wall while muttering to himself about glue or tape or something. jeongguk’s not too bothered with it, just making his way across the room and curling his arms around yoongi’s torso in a back hug.

“oh, hello,” says yoongi. “have you given up on cleaning already?”

jeongguk hums in the back of his throat, pressing himself a little closer and swaying side to side.

“seriously, guk-ah,” says yoongi as he finally manages to get the massive music note off of the wall. he reaches behind him to smack the side of jeongguk’s thigh. “we’ve gotta—wait.” jeongguk has to hold back his grin as he sees yoongi look down and sideways, trying to see jeongguk’s thigh. “what happened to your pants?”

jeongguk presses a kiss to the back of yoongi’s neck before letting go and walking back a few steps, waiting for yoongi to spin around and look at him before he turns around and saunters into the kitchen with a shrug.

he waits for yoongi’s next words as he moves over to the table, leaning over and wiping some of the leftover icing from the cake onto his finger before sucking it off, glancing over his shoulder at yoongi to see him still standing in the middle of the living room, staring with his mouth open just a little.

“what are you doing?” asks yoongi finally. “we’re supposed to be cleaning.”

“i am cleaning,” says jeongguk, licking his finger again to get all of the icing off.

“normally, people don’t clean while also butt naked.”

“i’m not entirely naked,” says jeongguk, looking down at himself—sure, he’s not wearing a shirt or pants or underwear. but he is wearing yoongi’s leather jacket, and he thinks that’s actually the most important garment at the moment. so he shrugs again, disappearing further into the kitchen and grabbing the wine bottle beside the sink, still half-full. then he leans against the counter, sipping at it as he waits for yoongi to follow him—because he knows yoongi will follow him.

sure enough, after a few seconds, he sees yoongi enter the kitchen, hands on his hips as he surveys jeongguk.

“you dye your hair and suddenly you’re walking around like you got a big dick?” asks yoongi, to which jeongguk giggles.

“it’s called big dick energy.”

“oh, it’s just energy,” says yoongi, tilting his head, “because you don’t actually have a big dick. in that case… i don’t need the energy. you know, ‘cause i do have a big dick.”

jeongguk almost rolls of his eyes, leaving it at a snort instead as he says, “that’s small dick energy right there, hyung.”

yoongi narrows his eyes. jeongguk wiggles his eyebrows, taking another sip of the wine. he does feel strangely confident now that he has pink hair, but maybe it’s just because he knows he looks damn good with it—and even better with pink hair and a leather jacket, especially if the jacket is yoongi’s. and he knows that yoongi has a weak spot for jeongguk wearing his clothes, so there’s really only one way that this can end. jeongguk is banking on it.

finally, yoongi licks his lips, crosses his arms. says, “what, you wanna fuck me in that?”

jeongguk smirks. “no,” he says. “i want you to fuck me in this.”

he sees yoongi’s expression falter for a moment, clearly taken back by the request. because they haven’t done that yet—yoongi has bottomed plenty of times, but jeongguk has never admitted that he’s ready for it to be the other way around. and he hasn’t been ready, but just like they’d said when they’d tried the first time, jeongguk has been working at it. it’s almost strange to work at it, which really means getting off using increasingly larger dildos after he’d managed to take three of his own fingers, but it’s been a few months. and jeongguk has been thinking about, and he’s determined.

so.

“are you sure?” asks yoongi. “i mean, are—”

“i’m ready,” says jeongguk, dropping the coy act for a second so yoongi knows that he’s serious. “if you don’t want to, i mean—we don’t have to. obviously. but i want to. if that’s… cool.”

yoongi watches him for a second, and then grins. “of course i want to,” he says. “but we really should clean first.”

“why are you so fucking responsible,” grumbles jeongguk, stomping his foot on the ground as yoongi laughs at him, darting forward to tug jeongguk in for a kiss.

“the sooner we clean, the sooner i can fuck you,” says yoongi. “chop chop.”

and, well. jeongguk doesn’t think he’s ever cleaned anything so fast in his entire life.

when they’re done, jeongguk almost regrets it because now he’s fucking cold, but—he stands in the doorway to his bedroom, lip caught between his teeth as yoongi throws the last of the decorations away and then joins him. he watches as yoongi approaches, tiny grin on his lips, and then stops when their toes are almost pressed together.

“hi,” whispers jeongguk.

“hello,” says yoongi.

jeongguk searches inside of himself for any feelings of nervousness—like the first time they tried, even though it didn’t go over well, or even the first time it did work out. but he doesn’t feel it, not this time. he reaches out, takes yoongi’s hand, and pulls him inside.

yoongi kisses him first—kisses him hard, kisses him hurried with something thrumming hot under his skin. he wraps an arm around jeongguk’s waist, curling up until the jacket, and it’s shocking, almost, to feel it—to feel yoongi press himself against jeongguk’s body, the fabric of his clothing rubbing against jeongguk’s bare skin. he likes it, thinks maybe they should try that sometime, but he can’t get ahead of himself. all he needs is yoongi here and now, what he’s been waiting for for months already. the anticipation curls in his gut, sends sparks down his spine as they back their way to jeongguk’s bed, yoongi falling on top of him when they hit the bed and careen backwards onto the mattress.

their teeth knock together with the impact, and jeongguk giggles as yoongi hisses but doesn’t stop kissing him—crawls between his legs and trails one hand up and up jeongguk’s bare chest, up to his neck, to his jaw. he cradles it, something soft in the midst of these hard lines and sharp edges, tongue swiping inside of jeongguk’s mouth. he can almost feel himself growing hard as yoongi helps him scoot up on the bed, one hand holding his face and the other now moving over his body—lightly raking his nails over jeongguk’s stomach, making him keen, up and up until he flicks one of his fingers over the nub of jeongguk’s nipple.

jeongguk lets out a quiet yelp against his own will, and yoongi pulls back to look in the eye, wicked grin on his lips. “i kinda like this,” he breathes, eyes already blown wide with lust.

“what?” breathes jeongguk, propping himself up on his elbows as he tries to kiss yoongi again, not wanting to be apart from him.

“you not having any clothes on to begin with,” says yoongi. “makes it a lot easier.”

“if we lived together, i could just be naked all the time,” says jeongguk, almost without thinking, and then—stops when yoongi pulls away a little, eyes widening. jeongguk stares at him, realizing what he said. “um,” he begins, cheeks flaring not only from the exertion and arousal. “i—didn’t mean that. what? kiss me.” he reaches up for yoongi, dragging him in for another kiss, trying to grind up into yoongi’s thigh to get some friction.

“hold on,” begins yoongi against his lips, but jeongguk is determined not to breach that subject now, pawing at yoongi’s shirt instead, tugging at the hem.

“take this off,” he demands with a huff, and yoongi listens, pulls away enough to take his shirt off and let it fall over the side of the bed, opening his mouth to speak again, so jeongguk wraps a leg around his waist and flips them over, attaching his lips to yoongi’s neck as he leans over him. he grinds down again, feeling yoongi’s cock hardening beneath him.

“jeongguk-ah,” breathes yoongi. “jeongguk-ah, baby, look at me.”

jeongguk makes a noise of protest, but yoongi gets a hand in his hair and tugs, making jeongguk keen as he’s forced to pull his head out of yoongi’s neck. he breathes hard, staring at yoongi as yoongi watches him, hand tight in his hair.

“you’re thinking about us moving in together?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk lets out this little sigh, because he doesn’t want to have this conversation now.

“it just slipped out,” he says as yoongi lets go of his hair, sliding his hand to jeongguk’s cheek instead and stroking it lightly. “i mean, maybe i’ve thought about it. but that doesn’t mean i want to.”

“you don’t?”

“hyung,” jeongguk’s cheeks colour. “just forget about it. we’ve only been dating for six months.”

“you know hoseok is going to be moving out at the end of august, right?” says yoongi, tilting his head a little. in the back of his head, jeongguk can’t help thinking that it is fast—that he wanted to take all of this slowly to get it right, but maybe he has been thinking about what it would be like to live with yoongi.

still—he sighs, dropping his face into yoongi’s neck. “can we please not talk about this right now,” he mumbles. “there are other things to focus on. please.” he figures they need to worry about this relationship one step at a time—and the step they’re taking right now is not talking about moving in together, but yoongi finally putting his dick in jeongguk’s ass.

at first, he thinks yoongi might force him into the conversation anyway, but then he feels yoongi press a kiss to the side of his head. says, “of course. you want your fingers or mine?”

“yours,” says jeongguk quietly, hands grasping at yoongi’s sides. that’s what he wants to focus on: yoongi. around him, in him. they can have the adult talk later, after he’s fucked out and overwhelmed.

when yoongi tugs him back gently by the hair again, it’s to kiss him this time—it’s gentler, less hurried than the first, but jeongguk sighs into it anyway, jerking a little when yoongi trails one of his hands down jeongguk’s body again and ghosts his hand over jeongguk’s cock. it’s hard and red already, feeling neglected despite the fact that they only just started—but it never takes long for jeongguk to get worked up, always wanting more, needing more.

jeongguk grabs the lube when he gets impatient, letting yoongi sit up and straddling him before kneeling up enough that yoongi will be able to get his hand between them, and then squirts a generous amount of lube on yoongi’s fingers. “just in case,” he breathes, feeling the first curl of nerves inside of him. he’s taken back to the first time they tried this and how horribly it had gone, although they’d worked it out in the end. and although he knows there should be nothing to worry about this time, he can’t help feeling a little nervous.

he’s not the only one, it seems, as yoongi warms the lube up on his fingers and then tugs jeongguk a little closer, stretching up to kiss just under his bottom lip. “sure about this?” he asks.

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk, steadying himself on yoongi’s shoulders. “i’ve been practicing.”

“and you’ve not let me be part of it?”

“it’s embarrassing,” mumbles jeongguk, focusing on yoongi’s fingers where he’s still holding his hand between them—long, bony fingers, fat knuckles that he just wants inside of him. he thinks about how many times he’s fallen apart on his own fingers, working himself up to take another and another, and how many times he’s fucked himself with a dildo imagining it was yoongi, until he was sure he could take one the size of yoongi’s cock. he’s nothing if not determined.

still, yoongi grins at him, kissing the side of his mouth. “you don’t think that’d be hot?” he asks. “mutual masturbation.”

“can you just put your fingers inside of me?” huffs jeongguk, and yoongi kisses him again—consolation—before doing as he asks, reaching between them to run a slick finger over jeongguk’s rim. he gasps at the feeling, lurching forward despite having expected it. yoongi kisses him again, again, just rubbing his finger there until jeongguk whines a little, and yoongi has mercy on him, sinking the first finger past the rim of muscle until he’s knuckle deep.

jeongguk tries to keep himself still as yoongi slowly pumps his finger, taking it slow and gentle at first, although his knees start trembling almost immediately. he distracts himself by tipping his head down and kissing yoongi instead, pressed chest to chest as he heaves with the force of his breathing—and yoongi quickens the pace of his finger, pushing further in each time until jeongguk has swallowed his entire finger up to the second knuckle.

“fuck,” breathes yoongi. “you’re still so tight.”

“keep going,” whines jeongguk, choking out a moan when yoongi speeds up, fingers wet enough that he meets little resistance. he whines again when he realizes it’s not enough, having adjusted to one finger, and can’t help wiggling down a little as yoongi pumps up into him.

“another?” asks yoongi, already knowing, and jeongguk nods as he sucks at yoongi’s bottom lip, trying to relax into the feeling of yoongi rubbing another finger along his rim before he carefully presses it in along with the first. jeongguk lets out a little moan, unable to help himself, and breathes into yoongi’s mouth—an open-mouthed kiss, too distracted to do more than that, and his moan grows louder as yoongi keeps pushing in, both fingers stretching him fully.

jeongguk curls his arms around yoongi’s neck, letting his hard cock rub against yoongi’s stomach as he lurches forward again, yoong’s fingers torturously slow as he pulls them back out and then pushes in again. “please,” he gasps. “hyung

“doing good, baby,” yoongi tells him, kissing the corner of his mouth. “feel good?”

“y-yeah,” he stutters as yoongi scissors his fingers, gasping again. still, the sparks of pleasure burn in the pit of his stomach, making him moan as yoongi picks up speed, fucking his fingers in and out of jeongguk at a faster pace. he does it for so long that jeongguk feels his head go foggy, fingers digging into yoongi’s shoulders as he moans, needs more, wants more, and it takes him that long to realize that yoongi isn’t going to give it to him unless he asks.

“hyung,” he tries, breathless as yoongi pumps his fingers faster, faster, stretching jeongguk but not enough—“hyung, shit—please, more.”

“are you sure?” asks yoongi, and jeongguk remembers the last time, remembers the pain—

“i can take it,” he gasps, dropping his forehead onto yoongi’s shoulder. his legs are trembling so badly that he almost can’t hold himself up, leaning too much on yoongi, but he needs more—“ngh, hyung, please—i can take it, i can do it—” yoongi pulls out both of his fingers, leaving him empty and gasping again, and tears spring to his eyes with how desperate he is, but yoongi turns his head to kiss the side of jeongguk’s face.

“okay,” he says. “okay, baby, tell me if it hurts.” he slips the first two fingers back inside, and then carefully adds the third, slowly pushing it alongside the other two. the stretch is too much for a moment, a spark of pain running down jeongguk’s spine, but it’s nothing like the first time. as soon as yoongi is a knuckle deep with three fingers, the pleasure is already burning through him again and jeongguk straightens up, throwing his head back as he lets out a wanton moan.

“yeah, fuck,” he practically wails, hands digging into yoongi’s shoulders. “fuck, yoongi-hyung—” it’s different than his own, of course, so much different than anything he’s felt, and it’s just because of yoongi, he knows—because he loves yoongi, because he wants yoongi to take care of him, and he is, and that’s what he’s always wanted, in any form. in any way.

yoongi is still slow about it, pumping his fingers in and out of jeongguk at an even pace, and jeongguk feels himself stretch around it, stuttering through his moans as he tries not to give into it entirely; his cock is hard and aching against yoongi’s stomach, leaking precome over the both of them, but he doesn’t focus on that, instead feeling yoongi’s fingers inside of him, stretching and searching.

“fuck,” breathes yoongi, leaning forward to mouth along jeongguk’s neck. “so good, baby, just for me.”

“yeah,” breathes jeongguk, sitting down just slightly on yoongi’s fingers, encouraging him to move faster. “just for you, just yours.” he gasps again as yoongi picks up speed, pumping in and out faster and faster, and he almost forgets that this isn’t the point—but it almost is, just knowing that they can do it, that they’ve waited long enough and now jeongguk lets his head fall forward again, searching for yoongi’s lips as they kiss hot and hard between them.

yoongi fingers him faster, stretching him just right, and jeongguk groans into his mouth, the pleasure coiling in his gut. he knows he’s about to snap, but he doesn’t want to—not yet, but from this, so he lets out a little whine, hurriedly whispering, “fuck me, fuck me—hyung, please, shit—” and letting out a sigh of both relief and pain when yoongi stops moving his fingers, buried inside of him for a long moment as he pulls back and pecks his lips.

“yeah?” he asks.

“yeah,” says jeongguk. “yeah, yeah, i’m ready.”

yoongi pulls his fingers out—leaves jeongguk at a loss, empty without anything to clench around, and he almost whines again before reminding himself that he’ll be getting something much better. he clambers off of yoongi long enough to let him take his pants off, finally, his own hard cock springing free after being trapped for so long, and yoongi reaches for the jacket still sitting on jeongguk’s frame before he jerks back, pouting.

“leave it on,” he says.

“aren’t you like, incredibly hot?” asks yoongi.

“i dunno, am i?” he asks, tilting his head a little. yoongi just rolls his eyes, tugging him back in for a kiss as he mumbles, “very. but please don’t die of heat stroke.” they’ll have to wash the damn thing after, but it would hardly be the first article of clothing that ended up with come stains on it.

jeongguk lurches for the lube instead, digging around in his drawer for a condom as well before he joins yoongi on the bed again, anticipation mounting.

“how do you wanna do it?” asks yoongi as he rolls the condom on, immediately reaching for jeongguk again—and jeongguk goes willingly, glad to kiss him, glad to have something to momentarily distract him from how badly he needs this.

“wanna ride you,” he breathes into yoongi’s mouth, and yoongi makes a surprised sort of sound—or one of appreciation, and he doesn’t complaining either way, just tugging jeongguk into his lap. he slathers the lube over his own cock, and jeongguk eyes it almost hungrily for a second before he kneels up, reaching to position himself over it. he doesn’t think he has anything to worry about, but he wants to have some semblance of control anyway, feeling yoongi’s hands come to rest on his waist.

he nudges yoongi’s cock up against his entrance, taking a moment to breathe before he glances up at yoongi, who is already watching him. jeongguk swallows tightly.

“you okay?” asks yoongi, sensing his hesitation.

jeongguk nods his head, and then—“just love you a lot,” he whispers.

yoongi’s lips curl up up up, all open and warm. his thumbs rub at jeongguk’s hip bones. “yeah?” he asks.

“yeah,” says jeongguk.

“good,” says yoongi. “i just love you a lot, too.” he tilts his head up just enough, and jeongguk tilts his down, and they meet in the middle, a chaste kiss despite it all—and then jeongguk bleeds out all of his anxieties with a sigh and slowly sinks down on yoongi’s cock.

he gasps into it, into yoongi’s mouth, and yoongi holds him tighter; it’s different from any preparation he did, because it’s yoongi—because he can feel yoongi groaning under him at the feeling, slowly slowly slowly sinking down until yoongi is buried inside of him, and then jeongguk just sits there. he feels full and stretched to the brim, almost to the point of being painful, but it’s a satisfying sort of painful—one that he knows will give way to pleasure as soon as he starts moving. he knows that if he opens his eyes, yoongi will be watching him, waiting for the first sign of real pain so he can pull out, but jeongguk isn’t letting it happen this time.

he feels yoongi’s hands wander, rubbing over his sides and his back in comforting circles. and he likes that—likes that yoongi is thinking about him, probably not even worrying about himself because he wants it to be good for jeongguk. and if it’s good for jeongguk, it’ll be good for yoongi—that’s kind of how they work. it’s only right then that jeongguk realizes how spoiled he is, how he probably doesn’t deserve yoongi, but he doesn’t mind. he’s trying to be his best, too.

jeongguk exhales, trying to relax even more into it, and ends up sinking just a little further. “fuck,” he lets out, and yoongi chuckles.

“does it hurt?” asks yoongi.

jeongguk shakes his head. “feels good,” he breathes. “just—full.”

“you can go slow,” says yoongi, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth, the mole below his lip, his chin. “whatever you want, baby.” jeongguk thinks he’d like whatever yoongi would like too, but—but. he nods, exhaling slowly again, and then tilts his head down to kiss yoongi properly, to distract himself. yoongi is all too eager to reciprocate, hands still smoothing over jeongguk’s skin under the jacket—and maybe he is beginning to regret wearing it, because he’s sweating and it’s sticking, but he still thinks he looks good in it.

he waits another minute, letting himself adjust fully, and then he gets too impatient and slowly lifts himself up before sinking back down again. he moans into yoongi’s mouth at the feeling, yoongi’s cock stretching him with each movement, and yoongi’s arms curl around him, holding him close as he starts up a slow rhythm.

it’s almost torturous, but he likes it that way—slowly moving up on his knees to draw yoongi’s cock almost out of him, just so the head is nestled inside jeongguk’s rim, and then slowly sinking back down until he can feel every inch inside of him. it’s worth it, he thinks, for how long he’s waited, for how much he’s wanted; he wants to savour every moment, lazily kissing yoongi as he fucks himself on yoongi’s cock.

his thighs are trembling already, but he ignores it as he continues his slow pace, and he feels yoongi slowly grinding up into him to meet his thrusts. “ah, hyung,” jeongguk gasps, hands tightening on yoongi’s shoulders.

“what?” yoongi has the audacity to ask, grinning when jeongguk pulls back enough to brush their noses together.

fuck,” says jeongguk as he sinks down again, a little faster as he gets impatient—always impatient. yoongi moves his hands back to jeongguk’s waist, squeezing a little as he encourages him to move faster, too, pressing kisses to the side of jeongguk’s neck, and his head is a little hazy already, too far gone, but he focuses on the feeling of yoongi filling hm to the brim, almost enough to spill over.

slowly, he speeds up, works up a real rhythm—puts his thighs to good use as he begins to bounce on yoongi’s cock, choked moans and whines leaving him as the new pace sends sparks of pleasure flaring up his spine. one of his hands tightens in yoongi’s hair, something to hold onto, and yoongi lets out a moan as jeongguk drops his head again, searching for his lips—it grounds him as he bounces faster, the slide of yoongi’s lips over his giving him something to focus on.

jeongguk whines against yoongi’s lips as a new bubble of pleasure bursts in the pit of his stomach, and he hears the sound of their skin slapping through the room—and then he feels yoongi’s hand on his cock and lets out a gasp, lurching a little; he almost forgot about himself, but now he realizes how neglected his cock has been with yoongi’s hand around it, stroking it in time with jeongguk’s bouncing in his lap.

“feel good?” yoongi asks him, breathing heavy as jeongguk finally opens his eyes to look—to see yoongi’s cheeks flushed and red, eyes tracing his every movement like he’ll never look at anything else again.

and jeongguk can only nod, a choked moan leaving him when yoongi’s fingers play with the head of his cock. it’s getting harder to keep up the rhythm of his bounces, overwhelmed on both sides as his thighs begin to burn, but he’s determined, doesn’t want to let go—“doing so good, baby,” whispers yoongi, and jeongguk pitches himself, hiding his face in yoong’s neck at the praise; he burns and burns, hips stuttering as he starts grinding down on yoongi’s cock instead. “my pretty boy. look so good bouncing on my cock like that.”

“yeah,” he breathes into yoongi’s neck, squeezing his eyes shut as the pleasure mounts inside of him, drawing closer and closer to the edge with yoongi’s hand on him, his cock buried inside of jeongguk, and he’s close, close—

and then he loses steam all at once, the tiredness of his movements hitting him as he grinds down one last time and stops. he breathes hard into yoongi’s neck, yoongi’s hand stilling on his cock before he turns his head and presses a kiss to the side of his face. “what?” he asks. “something wrong?”

jeongguk whines. “m’tired, hyung.”

and yoongi—laughs, because of course he laughs. “aw, baby,” he says. “i thought you worked out a lot.”

“i do,” he whines. “m’still tired. my thighs hurt.” he feels yoongi’s hands move to his thighs, rubbing over them as he chuckles again, rumbling low in his throat. “stop laughing. it’s hard.

“you’re so cute,” says yoongi, like that’s supposed to help, and then—“guess you’ll just have to work on it, huh? i can give you lots of practice.”

jeongguk bites him, right in the juncture of his neck and shoulder. “who said i wanted to bottom ever again after this?” he asks, although he already knows without even having to finish that he does—although he likes having the option. but yoongi digs his fingers into the side of jeongguk’s thighs anyway, making him jerk. “i’m just saying, so far i’ve done most of the work.”

“that’s because you wanted to,” protests yoongi, and jeongguk finally sits up—hissing just a little when it jostles yoongi’s cock still inside of him.

“you could still help,” says jeongguk. “i’m tapping out.” yoongi grins up at him a little incredulously, but he tilts his head up for a kiss anyway, and jeongguk happily gives him one. they kiss lazily for a few seconds, yoongi’s tongue swiping into jeongguk’s mouth, and then yoongi wraps his arms around jeongguk and pitches them sideways until jeongguk lands on his back with an oof and yoongi is looming over him.

“like this?” asks yoongi, dipping down to kiss jeongguk again, and jeongguk giggles.

“aren’t you big and strong,” he murmurs, to which yoongi pinches his side—but he slides his hands down jeongguk’s side, over his thigh until he can curl a hand under the back of his knee and press it away from him, back toward the bed. then he reaches between them, pressing his cock back inside jeongguk.

for a second, it looks like he might say something, and then he leans down and kisses jeongguk and jeongguk threads his fingers through yoongi’s hair, keeping him there—and then yoongi moves. it’s slow at first, careful thrusts that make jeongguk moan low in his throat against yoongi’s lips as he feels every inch of yoongi’s cock again—but it’s different this time because he’s not in charge, because he’s entirely at yoongi’s mercy, and he likes it. likes feeling small, just a little, likes knowing that yoongi is going to take care of him, because he will. that’s what yoongi does.

he works up a quicker rhythm soon, snapping his hips against jeongguk’s as he thrusts harder and faster, and jeongguk whines loudly, a new pleasure burning through him at the feeling. yoongi drags his lips over jeongguk’s jaw, his neck, until he fits his face into jeongguk’s neck, breathing hot against his skin as jeongguk wraps his arms around yoongi’s shoulders and squeezes his eyes shut.

he’d say something, maybe—tell yoongi how good it feels, how much he loves him—but yoongi thrusts harder and faster, punching out nothing but a string of ah ah ahs from jeongguk’s mouth, feeling like a rag doll as yoongi tightens his hold on jeongguk’s thigh. he’s lost in it, in yoongi’s cock moving in and out of him, in yoongi’s body pressed to his, finally close enough, just the way he wants it.

his cock rubs again yoongi’s stomach between them, leaking precome as he feels himself pushed closer and closer to the edge with each of yoongi’s harsh thrusts, only able to tip his head back and take it; tears prick at the corners of his eyes as he feels overwhelmed, fuller and fuller, and closer to something more—he finally gasps in a breath, fingernails digging into yoongi’s shoulder as he chokes out, “gonna—hyung, m’gonna come.”

he feels yoongi press a kiss against the side of his neck, feels more than hears him say, “okay, baby,” and yoongi sneaks a hand between them to grab his cock. he strokes it in time with his thrusts, slowing down just slightly, and it only takes one, two tugs for jeongguk to snap, spilling between them with a loud moan of yoongi’s name. he feels himself clench around yoongi’s cock, feels the responding growl of fuck into his neck, and then yoongi comes, too.

jeongguk holds onto him for a time after, just breathing heavily into the silence of the room. he can feel yoongi’s face still pressed into his neck, can feel him pressing kisses there slowly, softly. and then jeongguk lets out a groan, trying to shove him away with a, “i’m so fucking sweaty.

yoongi snorts, slowly pulling out—and jeongguk doesn’t whine—and rolling off of him, flopping onto the bed beside him as he reaches for the condom. “that’s what you get for wearing a leather jacket.”

“i bet it looked hot, though,” he sighs, too lazy and fucked out to actually sit up and take it off, even if it’s sticking to his skin in uncomfortable places. “too bad i couldn’t see myself.”

“next time, i can fuck you in it in front of a mirror,” grunts yoongi, and jeongguk’s cock twitches. just a little. he closes his eyes, just breathing as he tries to calm himself down; he knows he’ll get cuddly and clingy in a few minutes, so he lets himself cool down for now. after a minute, he feels yoongi kneel on his side of the bed, warm cloth running over him to clean him up, and jeongguk cracks an eye open to look up at him, grinning lazily.

“that was nice,” he says.

yoongi snorts. “just nice?” he asks. “we’ve been waiting how long to do this and you call it nice?

jeongguk giggles, even more so when yoongi tosses the cloth aside and starts poking at his sides instead, making jeongguk try to roll over to get away from it. “okay!” he squawks, batting at yoongi’s insistent hands. “okay, it was great. stop trying to make me flatter you.”

“i just think that honesty is the best policy,” shrugs yoongi as he wanders back around the room, kicking their clothes into a little pile at the foot of the bed. then he digs through jeongguk’s drawers to find them fresh pairs of clothes, chucking them at jeongguk who finally concedes and sits up, tugging off the leather jacket despite how hard it is with how sweaty he’s gotten. it’ll definitely need washing.

“you did look hot in it, by the way,” says yoongi as he crawls onto the bed after he’s changed, burrowing under the covers as jeongguk joins him. “i appreciated it.”

jeongguk grins, scooting closer under he can tuck himself into yoongi’s chest, tangling their legs together as yoongi wraps his arms around him. then he lets out a little sigh of contentment. “that wasn’t scary,” he admits. “i was worried i was gonna be scared, but i liked it. it was good.” he tilts his head up, watching yoongi tilt his head down, rubbing their noses together.

“good,” says yoongi. “i only ever want to do what you want and what makes you comfortable. so if you never want to do that again, that’s okay.”

“you’re cheesy.”

“i love you,” says yoongi.

“same thing,” grins jeongguk, tilting his chin to press a soft kiss to yoongi’s lips. “but i love you, too.”

“and i’m also proud of you.”

“for being able to take your dick up my ass?”

no,” huffs yoongi, making jeongguk giggle. “for the singing lessons and everything. also, don’t think i haven’t forgotten about the moving in thing.”

jeongguk groans, burying his head in yoongi’s chest rather than look him in the eye at the reminder of that slip-up. “one step at a time,” he grumbles. “can’t you just pet my hair and call me baby?”

“okay, baby,” says yoongi, hand already moving into jeongguk’s hair. he likes that much better. yoongi kisses the top of his head, and jeongguk lets out another sigh, feeling everything melt out of his body. he’s sleepy and warm and feels loved, feels like this is right where he belongs—no matter where they go or live, as long as he’s with yoongi, he doesn’t mind.

yoongi kisses the top of his head again. “goodnight jeon jeongguk,” he says, “my future roommate, probably.”

jeongguk hums, pursing his lips to press a kiss to yoongi’s neck. “goodnight min yoongi,” he mumbles, “my future husband. probably.”

after a terse moment, he hears yoongi snort. “one step at a time, eh?” he asks.

“i’m just saying,” murmurs jeongguk. but—yoongi doesn’t argue with it. and that’s good enough.

it’s not often that yoongi gets to drive jeongguk places anymore because of work—but he’d insisted on this one, taking the afternoon off, because it’s tradition. because jeongguk had asked, less in words than in pouts and wide eyes, and yoongi always knows. yoongi takes his helmet off for him, fixing his hair and grinning as he asks, “are you nervous?”

“of course i’m nervous,” frowns jeongguk. “i get nervous before i call my own mother on the phone.”

“you’ll be fine,” yoongi says, tugging him closer by the hand to press a kiss to his nose. and jeongguk knows he will be—he’d done his research and has been asking the members of his singing group for advice, since some of them take singing lessons as well. and there’s no use in being scared about it now, because he’s standing outside of the man’s house and there’s no going back.

“what if he thinks i’m a bad singer?” whispers jeongguk anyway, with a pout.

“then we’ll egg his house,” says yoongi. “and when you win your first daesang, we’ll come back and plaster his house with the headlines just to show him that he was wrong.”

jeongguk’s lips quirk upward into an amused grin. that’s what he loves about yoongi—it’s ridiculous, and he knows that if anything goes wrong, they won’t egg the man’s house, but having that kind of confidence is what keeps him from being so worried. “okay,” he says. “you’ll be back after i’m done to pick me up?”

“of course,” says yoongi. “i’m whisking you away.” it’s convenient—or maybe not—not it’s their six month anniversary today. new beginnings, he thinks, and also some old ones. there’s something familiar in it, and in the way that yoongi looks at him like that. jeongguk knows that yoongi will be waiting for him. jeongguk knows that yoongi will always be waiting for him, willing to take it slow if that’s what jeongguk needs.

and just like yoongi’s job had gone well, he knows that his singing lessons will go well. it’s the first step in something more—and no longer is it just about his relationship with yoongi. this is his life now—and yoongi is a big part of it. it’s about them walking side by side, about them navigating new and strange worlds together. jeongguk can’t imagine ever doing something new again without yoongi right here to wish him luck, to pull him into for one last kiss.

“bye, hyung,” he says as he steps away, knowing if he doesn’t leave now he’ll just stay there until his singing teacher comes outside and asks why they’re making out in his driveway, which probably isn’t the first impression he wants to give.

“bye, baby,” says yoongi, blowing him a kiss as jeongguk starts up the drive. he grins, catching it and tucking it in his pocket to have with him through the lesson, to give him courage. he turns to confidently walk the rest of the way to the front door, certain of himself and his choices.

jeongguk isn't letting this go, he decides right then and there. no matter if the singing lessons go well or not, no matter if it the rest of his life goes well or not—he’ll always have this. he’ll always have min yoongi, his bad boy.