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He thinks it’s his alarm clock at first. The way the sirens blare, they clearly demand attention, demand to be heard and somewhere in back of Yoongi’s mind, he comes to and remembers he never set an alarm the night before in the first place.

 

He gasps out loud and sits up quickly, covered in a slight sheen of sweat, and slowly, the sounds fade until the only thing he can hear is the scratchy heave of his lungs trying to start up properly. The alarms go away, but the faint voices will remain until he remembers to forget. He knows from experience.

 

Failure, failure, you’re a failure, this is all you know, isn’t it? Voices he’s familiar with, grown up with all his life, saying things they have never said aloud, but those which Yoongi has always been able to read from their eyes alone.

 

His chest flares up with guilt and Yoongi closes his eyes again in hopes of feeling the room’s true expanse, because there is room, there is room, damn it. The walls aren’t closing in on him and there are no alarms. But then he can’t take it anymore and swings his legs over the edge of his bed. Yoongi pads over to the screen door, unlocks and pulls it open, before stepping outside on his balcony. Out here, the world doesn’t seem to work against him. Out here, his lungs don’t have to try to work and he finds that his head clears slowly with the alarms finally gone.

 

Yoongi releases a slow breath as he collects his senses again. When he first moved to Seoul, he learned how easy it was to blend. To exist, and to not exist at the same time. Easy to be just a number, easier still to be just another face. Contrary to the stories, the city could be forgiving at times.

 

Out here, he was just another body that could look to the sky in peace. Clad in nothing but a loose white shirt and boxers, Yoongi shivers once before leaning his crossed arms on the ledge and just breathes.

 

Forgiving indeed.

 

 

“The progression is strange here, don’t you think?” The notes Yoongi plays in rapid succession come to an abrupt end and right next to him, he can feel Namjoon’s slight fidgeting. Tap, tap, tap, tap. He hums in agreement with his friend, picking up a pencil to scratch out the notes he’d just written.

 

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

 

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

 

“Namjoon, you’ve been doing that since we started at eight this morning.” Yoongi’s just a bit disgruntled, partly because of the sound, sure, but he knows deep down it has more to do with the fact that they had almost been in the studio for twelve hours and they hadn’t made much progress with the assignment at all.

 

Namjoon blinks in realization and is quick to apologize, before leaning in close.

 

“Hyung, why don’t we call it quits for tonight? I’m starving and Jin-hyung and Hoseok are waiting for us. Late dinner and all.” A tired smile dimples its way onto Namjoon’s face and Yoongi doesn’t have to look at a mirror to know he most likely looks just as exhausted. Face probably gaunt and written with lines of stress.

 

He wills it all away though and shakes his head. “Go. I’ll stay and see if I can figure out the chords for the next verse.”

 

Namjoon looks as if he’s going to protest, but Yoongi gives him the Look only to get an exasperated one in return.

 

“It can wait until tomorrow, Yoongi-hyung.”

 

Yoongi makes a noncommittal sound, knowing he’s won when Namjoon stands to grab his bag, the latter’s long legs headed to the small couch in the corner.

 

“But you know I can’t.”

 

At that, Namjoon lightly scoffs and shakes the fringe out of his eyes. “Just don’t stay too late, okay? Jin-hyung will have my head again if you fall asleep here. You know it’s bad when you do.” Somewhere in what Namjoon says, Yoongi reads between the lines — it’s harder to breathe in a space you trap yourself in — and nods once.

 

Then Namjoon leaves and it’s just him, the soundboard, the piano, and a pencil.

 

 

It would be a lie if Yoongi said he hated staying back in the studio.

 

He loved it, even in moments of pressure like this, even when his advisor had been hounding him to make progress on the long-term score assignment. A joint project with Namjoon, the university’s well-known whiz (to this day, Yoongi didn’t know how he balanced the coursework for Philo and Music Education, but if anyone could do it, it would certainly be Namjoon), but above all else, someone he’s known since their high school days when they still battled other underground artists in secret, when both of them were younger, hungry and desperate for a chance.

 

It’s the memory of the grit of it all that has Yoongi picking up the pencil, hurrying to scribble the sudden harmony he had been absentmindedly humming in his sleep-deprived state. The next notes make their way onto the paper, as countless nights of sitting at his desk, ripping sheet after sheet out of his worn lyric notebook, flash through his mind, and Yoongi can taste the metallic frustration and impatience from when he was younger all over again.

 

At some point, his neck is too stiff to ignore and after a few minutes, Yoongi wraps up a particularly tricky section (after which he sends a text message to Namjoon, who replies with what the fuck, hyung, its literally almost 4 in the morning, go home pls before u pass out and im not there to save u, god). The moment Yoongi steps out, his body reacts to the chill and he can’t help but to shiver in his long, gray coat.

 

As he walks home, he’s struck by the still of the streets and relishes in the same kind of quiet in his mind for once. No alarms, no voices, no leftover, unfounded guilt at a decision he long has since made.

 

This is what he rarely says aloud: pursuing what he wanted, instead of what everyone else wanted for him, was the best thing he could have done for himself and nothing would change his mind. Yoongi’s feet don’t drag when he thinks of how content he is, despite the strain in his relationship with his family. Does he wish it was different? That his parents were more accepting of his decision to stick to his dream? Yes, he thinks, but I deserve to be able to live with myself first. Everything else, the optimist in him says, could follow.

 

Still, even as he reaches his door and turns the key, Yoongi’s mind runs a mile a minute, cycling between the looming deadlines, the possibility of incompletion, of failure, failure, failure. It was a fear that lived and breathed in his soul.

 

It’s that same night, the third night of the week, that Yoongi wakes up to his own ragged breathing again and his hands slightly shake as he opens his screen door. As he blinks up at the sky, thinking nothing, numb to the cold, he hears some commotion from below. Scrapes against the floor, a lot of shuffling, heavy grunts of exertion, then silence. It’s broken again when the sound of the sliding screen door, right below Yoongi’s, fills the air, and then a sigh.

 

It’s one loaded with a brand of sadness Yoongi knows well — he hears a familiar swirl of unshed tears, of unkempt frustration, of loneliness in the highest degree.

 

Please,” he hears a small voice whisper from the balcony below.

 

“I just don’t want to be alone anymore.”

 

It’s low, soft, and sad, and definitely not meant for anyone else to hear and Yoongi tastes something bitter, bitter before he swallows silently.

 

It’s quiet again and he savors the silence that falls once more. Breathes again, now that it’s two pitted against the world. This stranger’s voice was tinged with a sad melody he thinks he might already know about. Maybe the city could be forgiving, but the world could be cruel when it wished to be.

 

The moon opts to just stare back at the both of them, unchallenging and present.

 

Yoongi listens to whoever it is just breathe with him, and eventually they rise, the screen door below soon closing shut with a click. Then, Yoongi follows suit.

 

 

His name was Jimin. High cheekbones, a blinding smile, and the eyes to match.

 

The first time they meet is in the elevator, when Jimin joins Yoongi’s descent to the ground floor. Yoongi really doesn’t pay much attention, not really when he’s distracted by Hoseok’s texts coming in at an impressively rapid rate. Something about annoying fire alarms and waking up at the most ungodly hour. It’s as he’s leaving that he knocks into a shoulder lightly that he mutters an embarrassed apology and finally looks up.

 

“Don’t worry about it.” It’s the same, soft voice from the other night, but brighter, decidedly less sad.

 

Yoongi believes if there’s a moment to believe in love at first sight, it’d be this one. Maybe the cliches were true after all, because his eyes see this new face and his heart plunges into overdrive. He feels red rise in his stomach, his cheeks, and his ears, much to his horror and own disbelief.

 

He can only nod mutely in response,  to which the boy offers a smile. “I’m Jimin. See you around?”

 

Robotically, Yoongi’s legs carry him out of the elevator and with that, the door slides shut.

 

He realizes belatedly he forgot to introduce himself.

 

 

Yoongi runs into Jimin a few times after, but never long enough to mention that he too has a name.

 

Jimin had grinned in greeting when Yoongi had passed by his door once, arms full of grocery bags, his face red with exertion. Yoongi had only managed a jerky nod before forcing himself to look away because of the bags — they were actually getting to be pretty damn heavy.

 

He’s met up with Hoseok and offhandedly mentions Jimin as they run through new developments and Yoongi later questions why his neighbor (neighbor, right?) even made it through his mind.

 

Hoseok could be discreet, but only when he wanted to be and also only if he remembered. Unfortunately, for Yoongi, Hoseok didn’t seem to possess the want or the memory tonight.

 

“Oh, so this guy’s your neighbor?” Hoseok ponders out aloud as they make their way up the staircase of Yoongi’s complex. Despite protesting earlier, Yoongi had, of course, been corralled into taking the stairs because of Hoseok refused to take the elevator in favor of getting more exercise, hyung!

 

Yoongi hums in affirmation. “Think maybe the third floor. Not sure though.” He’s busy searching for his keys in his rucksack, unable to locate them before Hoseok smacks his ass playfully and it jingles. Back pocket, damn.

 

“Found ‘em.” Cheeky, as Hoseok is, and Yoongi says nothing, grumbling only a little before unlocking the door. On second thought, he should’ve at least given Jimin his own name that day, but things happen, right?

 

“You said his name was Jimin?” Hoseok continues, squinting at Yoongi.

 

“Yeah, that’s all I know.” Yoongi sees the gears turning in his friend’s head, unsure of where this was headed. “Why? What is it?”

 

“I feel like I’ve heard the name before.” Hoseok rubs his chin in thought, before shrugging.

 

Yoongi’s lost in his own thoughts, remembering the other night when he heard Jimin’s secret plea. It had to be him. Same soft, pretty voice.

 

Maybe it was possible that Jimin, who had given him the same kind smile in the elevator, could also be worn down, deep down, by something else entirely.

 

“Are you gonna order pizza or am I gonna have to do all the work again?” Hoseok nudges Yoongi with his elbow, to which the other scowls.

 

“Hyung, c’mon. I’m hungry and I didn’t go to your place to just talk about your pretty new neighbor. Get your tsundere ass over here and call for pizza and wings.”

 

Yoongi has a retort ready, but then Hoseok raises his eyebrows in expectancy and he just sighs. “Fine, damn. Give me the phone.”

 

Hoseok throws his arms up and cheers loudly before Yoongi can brace himself.

 

 

There were nights where Yoongi actually slept easily, not because sleep came easily through a soft, slow lull, but because sometimes he felt pure exhaustion overtake his entire body, consciousness vanishing as soon as his head hits the pillow. It was kind of like a big, remorseless rig running him over full-force and then leaving him for dead.

 

After running errands and stopping by the studio for a quick two-hour session (it was supposed to be just one hour, but Yoongi skillfully convinced Namjoon to stay for another to make some edits to their work), fatigue hits him like an old friend and he happily welcomes sleep.

 

Then:

 

“I’m not— noooo ,” a voice, exasperated, loud and slurred. “I told y-you no.”

 

The light’s still on when he stirs awake completely and Yoongi‘s eyes blink open.

 

Lisssten, there was nothing for me there. I needed to leave. Leave.

 

A scoff. Or was that a choked sob?

 

“You know what? F-forget it. I don’t want to see you, okay? Okay.”

 

He hears a thud and a curse, hands hitting the floor repeatedly as if someone’s actively, but blindly, searching for something. Hearing another sound outside, Yoongi can’t quite keep it in anymore so he clambers out of bed, throws on his coat and slippers, and rushes to his door, hand on handle. Hesitant, unsure. He hears another thud, heavier, and then all trepidation is gone.

 

He pulls his door open and in the lobby of the fourth floor sits a dazed-looking Jimin, legs sprawled in a sitting position and hair mussed up and still glinting gold against the artificial light. His eyes are puffy, rimmed red and Yoongi feels his chest constrict all at once as he rushes forward.

 

“Hey. Jimin?” He kneels to pick up the phone, meeting Jimin at eye level and the latter’s gaze is clouded with emotions Yoongi can’t quite name.

 

“‘Lo,” Jimin softly says, eyes looking up to the ceiling and then back down to the floor, unfocused. Hic.

 

“Are you— do you wanna get up? Jimin?” Yoongi thinks Jimin’s about two heartbeats away from passing out, from the way he just keeps on shutting his eyes, and he knows if their landlord or anyone, really, were to chance upon him in this state, it might result in more than a few choice words.

 

Jimin blinks open slowly and plays with his fingers, twisting a ring round and round, and it’s hypnotizing, Yoongi can’t stop following the silver band. “I jus’ want my bed,” he mumbles. Hic. “M’bed.”

 

He’s pressing into Yoongi’s space and Yoongi goes cross-eyed as Jimin leans in, close enough to let him smell the mix of alcohol and close enough to let him see his eyes swimming in sadness, and then Yoongi falters because up close, he can see the pretty flush on Jimin’s cheeks and nose. His eyelashes. The tear tracks.

 

Inside, Yoongi is quaking. Being drunk was one thing. Being sad and drunk could mean something else entirely and he really doesn’t even know Jimin that well yet.

 

Still, he finds himself hauling Jimin up (light as a feather, he weakly surmises) and unlocks his own door. The room is still illuminated as he’s left it and with the way Jimin sways on his heels, Yoongi knows there are just seconds left before he collapses. Panic surges through his system and with strength he didn’t know he possessed, he lays Jimin down slowly, guiding his head first.

 

It’s with a slight grunt that Jimin makes it to Yoongi’s couch and the younger shuts his eyes completely, breathing deeply.

 

“No, Jimin?” Yoongi lightly shakes Jimin’s bare shoulder before retracting his hand as if he was burned. He quickly adjusts Jimin’s shirt to sit right on his frame before huffing slightly. What now?

 

“Jimin, you need to drink some water first,” Yoongi tries. All the times he’s taken care of Namjoon whenever they went for drinks and his friend takes the shot to end all shots, all the while reciting the opening paragraph of The Stranger word for word, are failing to help him now. Yoongi’s helpless as he looks to Jimin, whose lips flutter as he breathes in and out.

 

Yoongi licks his own lips in worry before sitting down at one end of the couch. Fuck, okay.

 

He reaches for Jimin’s shoulder again, shaking it with more vigor. He was going to make Jimin drink some water, he could do it.

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi’s voice comes out slightly more authoritative this time, surer, but he still gulps. “You need to drink water, okay? When I come back, you’re going to drink some water. Yeah? Yeah.”

 

Jimin moves slightly, releasing a sigh. Yoongi stands dumbly with his hands out, in case Jimin falls, before quickly moving to get a glass of water and some aspirin. As he turns the corner between his kitchen and living room, the sharp trill of a phone ringing breaks the silence and Jimin turns over on his side and Yoongi sucks in a relieved breath.

 

Jimin knocks over a candle (unlit) and his phone in the process and huffs again sleepily. The phone’s insistent and Yoongi just knows this might be bad, but he slides to answer anyway.

 

“Jimin? Jimin! Hello? Hello, where are you?” The voice is deep, frantic, and worried and Yoongi clears his throat for confidence.

 

“H-hi, this is Min Yoongi. I’m Jimin’s neighbor.”

 

“Min Y—Oh, shit, where is Jimin? Where is he? Wait, is he okay? Is he okay?” The guy on the other line is now pressed and agitated, bordering anger, and Yoongi can sense this might not end well for him if he answers in negative.

 

“He’s at my place, o-on my couch just laying down. He’s okay, I’m just—” he looks to Jimin who seems to have completely knocked out, mouth open, lightly snoring, “trying to get him to drink some water.”

 

“Fuck, okay, okay. Jimin… Okay, Yoongi-ssi, I’m… we’re on our way, okay? Can you stay on the line? We’re not that far at all. Please, if anything’s happened to him…”

 

“No, he’s… I think he just had too much to drink, maybe.” It comes out slightly stilted as Jimin groans and decides to turn over again and Yoongi instinctively moves to his side.

 

It doesn’t take long at all for someone to rap on Yoongi’s door and after glancing at Jimin who thankfully is still on his side, breathing more evenly, he opens the door and is greeted by a red-haired, pretty face marred only by its worried expression and then another younger-looking, equally pretty face with dark eyebrows set in the most serious lines.

 

“Are you Min Yoongi-ssi?” There was that deep voice over the phone, anxious still. His eyes were clear as day, definitely more sober than Jimin’s when Yoongi had found him.

 

Yoongi nods once and steps to the side to let them through the door. In an instant, they’re crowded around his couch and Yoongi almost feels like he’s intruding as he watches the red-haired boy graze Jimin’s cheek with his finger after examining every inch of his body maybe for signs of any damage, brokenness.

 

Jimin’s sound asleep now as his friends murmur words to one another, heads so close that Yoongi thinks the red and the dark brown may mix well if they were ever to come together.

 

“Yoongi-ssi?” He startles suddenly at the voice.

 

“So you live a floor above Jiminie?” Taehyung’s voice is gentler this time, hushed in a way that could only mean he was trying to not wake up Jimin and Yoongi nods. “We didn’t even introduce ourselves to you. I’m Taehyung and that’s Jeongguk.”

 

Taehyung laughs, but the smile doesn’t reach his eyes as he glances at Jimin again.

 

“Thank you, Yoongi-ssi,” Jeongguk pipes up from where he stands along the wall. The look on his face is like Taehyung’s, written in worry. “Jimin-hyung had a tough night tonight.”

 

“We were at Orbit, that club that just opened, and at some point, we lost Jimin.” Taehyung’s hand finds Jimin’s and squeezes. Yoongi can see his fingers flex, as if they’re trying to warm Jimin. Protect him somehow. “He… had a couple of drinks.”

 

Yoongi just nods. The three of them sit in a thoughtful kind of silence before he decides to speak.

 

“He was… talking to someone. On the phone, I mean.”

 

Taehyung’s eyes shoot up in almost-alarm and the crease between Jeongguk’s eyebrows deepens.

 

“That’s how I knew he was outside,” Yoongi says quietly. “He sounded upset.”

 

It’s eerie how solemn the two become. His apartment suddenly feels large and unfriendly and all he can hear is Jimin’s slow breaths in and out.

 

Taehyung runs his fingers again through Jimin’s blonde hair, mind clearly somewhere else.

 

“He’s figuring some things out.” Yoongi gets the sense that Taehyung’s not so much telling him, but telling Jimin somehow, hearing worry and a need to reassure bleed through his words.

 

He nods again, knowing there’s more than meets the surface, but it isn’t the day or night to go into any of it. As he glances at Jimin again, he sees that he looks infinitely younger, cheek squished against the seat of the couch.

 

Yoongi can see Jimin’s chest rise and fall, can see part of his hair funnily standing against the rest and thinks, He should look like that all the time.

 

Free of stress, free of the world’s weight.

 

Yoongi manages to convince them that no, he had no plans to murder Jimin, commit any crime against him, and that Jimin was welcome to stay on his couch, at his place, until he woke from his slumber. They had tried moving him, but Jimin was practically dead weight, immovable (adorably so).

 

Taehyung and Jeongguk take their leave hours later, right before the sunrise, after exchanging numbers with Yoongi.

 

“Yoongi-ssi.” Taehyung had paused on his way out, red hair shocking against Yoongi’s pale walls. His place hadn’t seen that much color since ever, really. “Thank you for making sure he was okay.”

 

Jeongguk gives a small grin, shrugging his jacket on, and adds, “You didn’t have to.”

 

“I wanted to,” the words leave Yoongi before he really understands what he’s said and Taehyung’s eyes soften.

 

“We’re grateful. Jimin’s lucky to have someone like you then.”

 

When Yoongi wakes in the morning, it’s to an empty couch and a napkin.

 

Yoongi-ssi,

 

Thank you. I called Taehyung and he cleared things up. Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

- Jimin

 

There’s a tiny smiley face next to his name and Yoongi breathes a small laugh.

 

 

Jimin shows up later that afternoon, redness noticeably gone from his eyes and cheeks and when Yoongi opens his door, he’s immediately hit with the smell of gaeranjim. He hasn’t had that since he left home.

 

“You live on the fourth. Just a floor above me.” Jimin says as a way of greeting, with a shy, embarrassed smile. He swings a bag from behind him and the smell only grows stronger.

 

“I do. We’re neighbors,” Yoongi responds with his own small smile. “I’m Yoongi. Didn’t get to introduce myself the other times.”

 

Jimin can’t quite look him in the eye — maybe he’s still embarrassed? — but nods. “Sorry we had to meet like that. I’m not usually...” Jimin gestures wordlessly, definitely embarrassed. Drunk, Yoongi knows he means and he’s quick to want to dispel the apology.

 

“Don’t worry about it, Jimin,” he says, offering what he hopes is a comforting smile. “As long as you’re okay.”

 

Jimin bites his lip and looks down at the bag he’s holding, chin slightly trembling. “Yeah. I am now.”

 

“A thank you,” Jimin seems to shake himself out of something and grins up at him. “For last night.”

 

And he’s handing Yoongi the bag and waving off, walking towards the staircase again.

 

Yoongi lifts his hand in a confused, offhanded sort of way, and berates himself for not offering Jimin to come in earlier. He rubs his eyes with one hand, closes his door, and makes his way to the kitchen.

 

Opening the bag releases the full scent of gaeranjim, among other side dishes all packed neatly in clear containers. There’s even a small thermos of warm chrysanthemum tea, the tendrils of sweet smoke escaping as he uncaps it.

 

Yoongi feels something course through his veins. Gratitude, awe maybe. His stomach grumbles right on cue and he sits down to eat all that Jimin’s prepared, but not before thinking of the blonde-haired boy’s squished cheek from last night and smiling despite himself.

 

 

It’s not that he avoids Jimin at all after that. On the contrary, Yoongi tried to see if Jimin was in a few times so he could thank him properly, much to the teasing of Hoseok and Namjoon when they catch wind of where he’s heading after a studio session or coffee break. He’s felt like a fool just standing in front of Jimin’s door, but still waits a bit every time, at least until he thinks it’s appropriate.

 

(The last time, an elderly woman came out of the apartment right beside Jimin’s and eyed him suspiciously before he gave a cough, saying “I live upstairs and have something to give to Jimin.” She had narrowed her eyes just slightly, saying nothing, and slinked back into her place. Yoongi had been thoroughly spooked.)

 

Yoongi sleeps a little restlessly that night, voices quiet, but still present, and he wakes up just to stare at his ceiling, exasperated.

 

Some habits will always die a little harder than others and almost mechanically, he rises to head out to the balcony again.

 

The night air feels like a comeback, the chill almost cleansing, and he’s leaning on the balcony’s edge, seeking refuge among the stars yet again.

 

Except, he feels another presence. Jimin. Doing the same, breathing in time with him.

 

If Yoongi peers out, leans a little more, he’d be able to see that Jimin’s gazing at the night sky with all he has. He doesn’t though, opting to just shut his eyes, inhale, and exhale. After a moment, Yoongi opens his eyes.

 

His feet move more quickly than his mind does and before he knows it, he finds himself making the trek to the third floor. Yoongi lightly, can-Jimin-even-hear-this lightly, gives the door three knocks in succession.

 

At four in the morning, Jimin opens his door to Yoongi. Looks surprised, his mouth parting kind of like a fish, kind of like an infant discovering the permanence of objects for the first time. All surprise. Yoongi counts the milliseconds between them before he decides to speak.

 

“Hey, Jimin.”

 

It’s dead silent and Yoongi fidgets. He waits nervously and thinks, shit, should I have done this? Somewhere, he thinks he hears a cricket chirp cheerily.

 

“Yoongi-ssi?”

 

Then Yoongi forgets to be so nervous because Jimin laughs, fills the air with it, and manages to reply with, “Yeah, it’s me.”

 

“God, you scared me. What are you doing up at this hour?” His eyes crescent softly and Yoongi’s breath catches.

 

“I, uh,” Yoongi’s hand flies up to his neck because he didn’t think this far. “I couldn’t fall asleep. Figured I’d see if you were awake.”

 

“At four in the morning?” Jimin’s smile grows slightly mischievous and Yoongi has to swallow his nerves, because yeah, it did sound strange.

 

“Yeah.” He mentally congratulates himself for at least answering.

 

“I see,” Jimin’s grin doesn’t let up in the slightest and he shuffles to the side before saying, “Do you want to come in then?”

 

They find themselves nursing cups of coffee at Jimin’s kitchen island and Yoongi’s eyes adjust to the white lights, trying not to stare at Jimin, because here, in the younger’s own home, he seems airy, glittering with ease.

 

“Where are you from?” Jimin asks, bringing a steaming mug to his lips. Smacks them lightly, lets out a content sigh. “Coffee’s good.”

 

“Daegu, originally. Moved here for university. And I agree,” Yoongi hides his smile behind his own cup before drinking.

 

“I go to university too,” Jimin says, thumb running over the rim of the mug, eyes slightly more downcast.

 

Yoongi hums in acknowledgement and takes another gulp, but it’s too hot. Jimin laughs that twinkling laugh again and passes him a napkin.

 

Maybe it’s the fact that Jimin doesn’t look so downcast now, that Yoongi finds courage to share what he says next.

 

“Everyone I knew back at home wanted me to stay. Said music’s not worth moving to the big city for. That it’s too risky and that…” There’s a lot of room to fail here. Yoongi breaks off, but Jimin seems to understand with the way he straightens his shoulders and looks Yoongi straight in the eye.

 

“But you have to take chances. And this one just happens to be me taking mine.” He finishes and there’s something satisfying in hearing his own thoughts flesh out like this. Because though he’s plagued by the voices, all that uncertainty, that’s what it came down to — a decision he’s made. One that he stands by.

 

“I think I can get that.” Jimin’s voice is small. “To be honest with you, I wanted to get away from Busan.” His fingers twitch and Yoongi has to will his hands to stay still.

 

“Everything got to be too much, you know?” Jimin says and then he’s looking out the balcony from where they’re seated.

 

“I think I can get that,” Yoongi echoes Jimin’s words from earlier, because he understands even just a little bit. Even if Jimin doesn’t elaborate.

 

When Yoongi leaves Jimin’s apartment later that night (after they finish their coffee, after Jimin makes a comment about the blues in Yoongi’s hair, strands that didn’t quite go back to his original black, calling it nice, after they linger a moment too long near the door), he thinks he’s in good spirits.

 

He falls asleep remembering the tinkle of Jimin’s laugh.

 

 

It’s funny how easily Yoongi finds the courage to visit Jimin a second time, a third time, a fourth. He walks down a floor, carrying a box of still-hot fried chicken, and attempts to hide the whole thing in his coat before he realizes what he’s doing. Dumbfounded, he pauses in his tracks because what in the actual fuck is he thinking?

 

Suddenly, he hears a door swing open and he has no time to reflect.

 

“Hyung!” They had dropped formalities the third time they hung out, a day Yoongi will remember well, because there was nothing quite like hearing Jimin call him that for the first time.

 

And it’s easy with Jimin. Incredibly so. Yoongi knows it when Jimin pulls him in through the doorway, knows it when he exclaims at the chicken, knows it when Jimin pushes him to the living room with both hands.

 

They’re both sitting cross-legged, eating the chicken and Jimin pulls out two bottles of soju, and Yoongi hisses at the slight burn of it going down his throat as he swallows, but blinks because it’s so simple. To breathe, to speak, to just be.

 

Yoongi shakes his coat pocket for his phone, taking out his earphones, while Jimin’s eyes are still squeezed shut from laughter.

 

When Jimin opens his eyes again, it’s to Yoongi holding the earphones out, looking both nervous and relaxed, wistful and expectant. Jimin’s expression turns curious as he slowly, wordlessly takes them and puts them in.

 

It’s quiet as Yoongi presses play and lets Jimin into what’s taken weeks and weeks of painstaking work and editing. The final project he’s completed with Namjoon. A song called Intro: Never Mind.

 

Seconds in, Jimin shuts his eyes as Yoongi watches with his hands in his lap, heart in his throat.

 

Then, it finishes and Jimin pulls the cords out, eyes shining, almost questioning, and Yoongi finds the courage to say what he’s wanted to since the beginning. Since he heard Jimin’s plea to the stars.

 

“What others say, what we decide to leave behind — never mind it, Jimin. You aren’t ever alone.”

 

 

From that night, it’s like they’ve unlocked the secret of touch. Jimin presses into Yoongi’s space often, clutching his arm for support, and Yoongi’s hand finds the small of Jimin’s back now and then.

 

When they meet each other’s friends, it’s a stellar collision in the making and Yoongi can feel his own world expand and become bigger and brighter.

 

Tonight, he’s over at Seokjin’s apartment with Namjoon and Hoseok for dinner and he realizes the older’s been speaking to him and trying to get his attention.

 

“Yoongi! Yoongi, hello,” Seokjin waves a chopstick in front of his face and Yoongi turns red in embarrassment before he finally responds.

 

“I was saying, you need to invite Jimin, Taehyung, and Jeongguk to New Year’s Eve,” Seokjin says, teasing, “but maybe you were already thinking of doing that.”

 

“It’s happening at your place, right?” Namjoon chews as he speaks, eyes wide, and accidentally sprays Hoseok with his spit. Hoseok naturally squawks in disgust before hitting Namjoon’s head with his metal spoon.

 

“Yeah, we agreed it’d be at mine,” Yoongi says and he’s thinking of how best to ask Jimin when Hoseok places his utensils down and grins right at him.

 

“Jiminie, my dongsaeng Jiminie,” he sing-songs. “It’s funny, right? How Jimin turns out to be in my department, just a level lower than me? I knew I heard of his name somewhere. The world is so small. Funny how things work out.”

 

Yoongi agrees because when he thinks about it, it feels like their dominos laughed gently as they fell into place, and he smiles to himself.

 

Maybe the skies had answered a plea of his own.

 

 

All too soon, the year is over.

 

The clock strikes twelve and around them, the world erupts in celebration, streamers, confetti, a mess of laughter and yells, and it would be alarmingly loud if Yoongi’s ears wasn’t already filled with a buzz that only Jimin could accomplish.

 

Even across the room, he only has eyes for him. Yoongi takes the steps forward before taking Jimin’s hands in his own and leans in.

 

When they finally kiss, it’s hesitant fireworks, muted but going off at the right time, a steady burn in the pits of their stomachs, an ache so true it couldn’t be real, and Yoongi, Yoongi is on a cloud, floating.

 

Jimin’s laughing and it’s the most beautiful sound Yoongi’s ever heard.

 

They’ve long since retired to the third floor, to Jimin’s room, bidding a goodbye to their friends and feeling like teenagers sneaking away. They take turns chugging from a bottle of red wine Yoongi had stowed away after receiving it as a present some time ago. Jimin’s feet are in his lap, moving to and fro and Yoongi has the urge to just reach out and tickle so he does.

 

The small shriek of surprise is worth it and there’s fire in Jimin’s eyes when Yoongi opens his own that can only spell trouble of the best kind. It’s as Jimin swings his feet away that Yoongi, in a rare display of strength, pulls him in and they collide and end up closer than they’ve ever been, save the new year’s kiss.

 

And Yoongi’s just looking at Jimin, Jimin with his blonde hair swept back, his face flushed with the deepest pink, his lips glossed nearly the same color of the wine. His arms bracket the younger’s body and his eyes follows a single drop of sweat from where it starts, at the top of his forehead, all the way down to a crevice of his neck, and then it disappears completely from sight as it rolls down and down.

 

“You’re pretty.” His voice, in true Yoongi fashion, comes out gruff and honest.

 

Jimin blinks up at him beautifully, almost bashful. Opens his mouth to say something, but seems to think better of it before pulling Yoongi down and down into a kiss. It lasts a fraction of a second and Yoongi’s holding himself up again, careful not to press down on Jimin, but then he dips down to feather another and another and another until Jimin gives a huff, the scent of red wine filling Yoongi from the inside out.

 

“I have something to show you,” Jimin whispers, eyes widening and Yoongi makes room as he sits up. “I got it a week after you showed me.”

 

Jimin’s hands are tentative, shaking a little, and before Yoongi can take them in his own and offer reassurance because no matter what it was, it was okay, Jimin inhales. Exhales as he pulls his silk shirt, stark white against the gold of his skin, off and away. He lifts his arms where they lay and then Yoongi sees it.

 

Block letters, big and bold. NEVER MIND.

 

Yoongi’s only half-aware of everything as Jimin guides his hand and fingers to his rib and then he’s tracing the script, the words. Seeing the two words wrapped around and printed on Jimin’s body like this, permanent, sucker-punches him breathless, unravels some thread within Yoongi until it’s just a string, pulled taut, leading him only to Jimin.

 

It’s like clockwork when they finally give into the waves of each other’s ocean, lips crashing and meeting like there was never anyone else before. It’s not long until they break for air, Jimin’s breath dragging hot and heavy along his skin and Yoongi’s arms move to the younger’s side, caressing his ribs, the sides of his body lightly, carefully.

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi’s murmuring right next to Jimin’s ear, pressing a wet kiss at its shell, and Jimin lets out a soft, needy sound he wishes he could bottle up. “Is this okay? You need to let me know.”

 

Jimin squeezes him tighter, leaning to give Yoongi butterfly kisses, sweet and barely-there. “Yes,” he speaks softly. “I’m yours, Yoongi.”

 

Then Jimin nips at his neck playfully with teeth, before his lips, pillow-soft, kiss down the column on Yoongi’s throat and Yoongi closes his eyes and shudders. Breathes in Jimin.

 

It’s slow, the way they dance now, as Yoongi moves to capture Jimin’s lips in another searing kiss and he can feel his brain melt into this and them, his body somehow knowing how to lead. Jimin’s body shines in the yellow of the light and he’s clutching Yoongi’s shoulders, hands hot to the touch. He feels Jimin’s eyes burn into his body, as he unbuttons Yoongi’s shirt and chases his lips when they part and Jimin’s unbuttoning his own pants, graceful, so graceful, his Jimin.

 

Yoongi’s shed all of his clothes and they’ve made it higher and higher on Jimin’s bed, the younger’s head on his pillow. He pulls away and looks hard at the boy beneath him, at Jimin’s fucking smile, and feels something finally blossom in his chest, its pulse full-force and relentless.

 

Yoongi grips Jimin’s waist, pushes him back gently to lay flat. Their bodies are flush against each other, just skin on skin, and Yoongi tastes nothing but heaven as their mouths move together a little more desperately. Jimin’s letting out quiet sighs and little satisfied noises and his lips are so warm, so warm, as they meet Yoongi’s over and over and over again.

 

Yoongi and Jimin become open-mouthed kisses, become warmth, become hands that have found each other despite it all and they leave nothing untouched.

 

Yoongi’s fingers are reverent and he hopes Jimin can feel everything he feels for him in this moment, in the next, in their forever. He feels Jimin wrap his legs around his own thighs, feels the slow grind up as they meet, and can’t help but to groan low and deep. Two bodies seeking more and more friction, simply because it’s not enough. Yoongi and Jimin, breathless for each other.

 

It’s almost aggravating how slowly Yoongi squeezes the lube out of its bottle, how slowly he opens Jimin up and he finds himself silencing the younger’s sweet pleas with his mouth, answering in motion, easy does it, easy does it, we’ve got all the time in the world. Slower still when he finally, finally thrusts in, and Jimin’s heat is nearly suffocating. Slower still when he finally feels Jimin fall apart later, the younger releasing a small sob, embedding Yoongi’s very name into the skin of his shoulder, his chest, his lips.

 

As Yoongi reaches his own climax, he grips the younger’s hand tightly and presses a promise to Jimin’s forehead. I think I might love you, Park Jimin.

 

You know?

 

There’s a single tear that escapes Jimin’s eye and Yoongi catches it with his finger as they both make their way down.

 

I know.

 

 

Yoongi’s kissing the tips of Jimin’s fingers as they lay in bed, bathed in nothing but sheets and moonlight. Jimin shimmers like everything he’s ever wanted, bruises all over, sweat clinging to his skin still.

 

“I’ll take care of you. We’ll take care of each other. You hear me?” Yoongi’s words are steady and gentle.

 

Jimin laughs gently, taking his hand back and carding his fingers through Yoongi’s hair, the older’s eyes closing almost imperceptibly in reaction.

 

“Is that a promise?”

 

Yoongi’s heart beats for one person and one person alone and he exposes his gums when he smiles back at Jimin.

 

“Promise.”