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Arms Unfolding

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As an omegas’ rights activist, Jimin was less than happy over the prospect of finding his true mate. He genuinely thought the whole mating system was fucked; there was barely any consent involved in the ordeal. An omega could have their entire independent life planned out before them, and with one unsuspecting day, they could be forcefully mated just because of their biological draw. As soon as one half of the pair caught the scent of their destined mate, their hormones synced, and it was all over.

The worst part of the equation was how the mating typically happened. Because pairs were supposedly fated to be, it was socially and legally acceptable for an alpha to mate their counterpart on the spot. No introduction, no discussion—just stuck together for life.

It infuriated Jimin beyond end to hear alphas justify themselves. “It’s natural,” they said. “My omega wanted it, too.”

If any alpha, his destined mate or not, tried to sink their teeth into Jimin’s neck, he’d kick them right in the shin and run.

Jimin wasn’t alone in his distaste toward the practice. He often joined protests and other public demonstrations, urging authorities to set consequences for abusers using true mates as an excuse to take forceful control of another person. Throughout Jimin’s time at his university, he had been involved in four sit-ins at his university’s dean’s office, urging their board to adopt their own policies surrounding abuse.

“You know there are good alphas in the world,” Taehyung often sighed, still sitting through Jimin’s many rants over the topic.

“Obviously. And they need to join the cause!”

It became harder to talk to Taehyung about it when the other omega found his mate. The ordeal had been a shock of cold water to Jimin. His roommate had gone out for the evening on a date with one man, then returned five hours later with a different alpha and a brand-new mating mark. Jimin was horrified, no matter how much Taehyung insisted that he wanted it as much as his mate did.

Eight months later, and Jimin still sometimes felt the urge to snap at Jungkook.

“Stop glaring at him,” Taehyung muttered, sipping at his tea from across the table.

“I wasn’t,” Jimin denied, an obvious lie. Jimin crossed his arms defensively. “Maybe I’m just a little irked that you don’t get to graduate with me next semester.”

Jungkook looked between them awkwardly, arm slung over Taehyung’s shoulders. Taehyung rolled his eyes. “We’ve been over this. It was my choice to take a break.”

“Oh, and I’m gonna bet you knocked yourself up, too,” Jimin retorted, nodding at Taehyung’s round belly—he was due in three months.

“You’re going to have to warm up to all this someday,” Taehyung said, seemingly to himself. “If you’re going to be a brat, you’re not allowed to be my baby’s uncle.”

Jimin uncrossed his arms and leaned forward. “That’s not fair.”

“It is, so play nice.”

Jimin pouted. “Sorry, I’m just more pissy than normal.”

“The Northern story?” Jungkook prompted. He wasn’t too fazed; he’d grown used to Jimin’s fits over the span of months they had begrudgingly known each other.

Jimin wrinkled his nose and twisted his straw around his iced coffee. “Yes,” he grunted. “I read about it before I went to bed last night. It’s fucking awful.”

A sophomore at a nearby university had been out with her friends, when supposedly her true mate found her and cornered her, cutting her off from her group. According to witnesses, she was screaming for her friends, but the alpha covered her mouth until they disappeared into a secluded spot between some buildings. The woman reported it to the police after, and photos of her bruises and gnarled mating mark were released along with the report.

The bite stuck, so the alpha was evidently her mate. Because of that fact, however, the alpha likely wouldn’t be convicted of assault.

“What is this, the fuckin’ Joseon era? We’re supposed to be living in the modern day,” Jimin grumbled, angrily sipping at his coffee.

“Hey, I’m in agreement,” Taehyung quelled. “People should be held accountable for that kind of shit.”

“I’m never getting mated,” Jimin stated.

Jungkook snorted, and Jimin narrowed his eyes at the alpha coldly. “You really think you’re gonna find your true mate and just… walk away? That would take an awful lot of self-control.”

“And a high tolerance for pain,” Taehyung added.

Jungkook nodded in agreement.

Jimin pursed his lips. “It can’t hurt that much.”

“It does. But if you really need to feel it for yourself, go ahead,” Taehyung shrugged. “And you should trust that the universe knows what it’s doing, Chim. You’re not gonna end up with a godawful mate.”

“Right, because I won’t have a mate at all,” Jimin said firmly.

Taehyung lifted his mug and grumbled into his tea.

Jimin’s phone buzzed on the table, and he snatched it up to take a glance. “Namjoon-hyung wants to know if you guys are going to his gig this weekend.”

“Nope. I’m gonna lay at home and do nothing,” Taehyung sighed wistfully. “Everything aches; there’s no way I’m standing in a mass of sweaty people for over two hours, no offense to hyung.”

“And I will be making sure he eats and stays hydrated,” Jungkook said.

“Oh, let’s play Overwatch,” Taehyung suggested, turning to his mate.

Jungkook nodded in agreement, massaging Taehyung’s shoulder.

“I guess it’ll just be me, then. Hoseok-hyung’s got his evening classes to teach,” Jimin said, typing out a reply. “I barely see him now that he’s graduated.”

“Must be nice, living an adult life,” Taehyung mused.

“You don’t consider yourself an adult living an adult life, preggo?” Jimin questioned, arching a brow.

Taehyung shrugged. “We’ll get to the whole parenting thing when it happens.”

“I think it’s… actively happening,” Jimin muttered, returning to his phone when he received Namjoon’s reply. “Looks like I’ll be out late. The thing starts at ten.”

Taehyung groaned. “I’m too old for that.”

“If anyone’s too old for that, it’s Joon-hyung,” Jimin said. “He makes these old man noises every time he stretches a muscle too much. I think he sits in his studio too often and it’s screwing with his body.” Jimin squinted and pondered to himself. “Maybe I should show him some daily stretches he can utilize.”

“Ever the dancer,” Jungkook mumbled, shaking his empty coffee cup with a frown, leftover ice clattering together.

Taehyung snickered, then checked the time. He made a noise in the back of his throat and tapped Jungkook’s thigh. “We gotta go. Appointment’s in a half hour.”

Jimin’s eyes widened. “Obstetrician?”

“Yup,” Taehyung chirped, reaching behind himself to fetch his coat. “Monthly check-up.”

“Oh, alright,” Jimin said, watching Jungkook help Taehyung stand. “Tell me about it later.”

“I will,” Taehyung assured, waving to him as they rounded the table.

Jimin rested back into his seat and absently wrapped his lips around his straw.

Jimin arrived at Namjoon’s performance venue alone, leather jacket pulled up past his chin to protect against the autumn chill. Namjoon had arrived much earlier to help set up and get prepared, leaving Jimin to take the bus into this run-down sector of the city.

Jimin figured he was dressed for the occasion, freshly-dyed honey blonde hair parted, the skin of his thighs and knees showing through the rips in his dark jeans. Maybe the jeans were a mistake, Jimin thought with a wince, a particularly cold gust blowing through. At least he looked a little edgy, eye makeup heavy and gaze narrowed in suspicion of any alpha who stepped too close—Jimin appreciated apprehension on their part, as it allowed him his personal space.

The venue was rather packed inside, but Jimin still managed to charm his way up to the front. He knew Namjoon was the last act of a three-part lineup, but he still wanted to ensure a decent spot to see his friend, even if he would be stuck there for quite a while.

Jimin pulled his jacket around himself tighter and leaned into the guardrail, settling in for a long night.

The first act passed, a somewhat amateur rapper who flubbed his own flow a couple times. He had pretty clever lyrics, though, and that was enough to hold Jimin’s attention. Jimin checked his phone during the interlude, scrolling through the ultrasound photos Taehyung had texted him. Jimin was perplexed as to how a fetus could already be so cute.

Jimin tapped his fingers along the rail, small rings clinking against the metal surface. The next act was supposed to come out a couple minutes ago. Must be a diva, Jimin thought with bemusement, glancing down when his phone pinged with an excited text from Namjoon. Jimin smiled.

Then the lights dimmed, and an unfamiliar beat started up. The next rapper walked out on stage, and Jimin took a moment to admire him. He was as decked out in as much black as Jimin, although his bleached hair was pushed back under a hat. Jimin liked his sharp eyes, he absently mused, and how his long fingers wrapped around the microphone. The rapper parted his lips to begin, and Jimin might have just fallen in love with his deep voice, too.

Considering Jimin’s intimate proximity to the stage, the rapper only had to get through the first few lines of his song before his scent hit Jimin full-force. Jimin’s throat closed up, body suddenly warm with an odd sensation in his veins. Alpha, Jimin first noted. Mate, his subconscious reminded.

Within that single moment, both Jimin and the alpha knew.

Their eyes locked, and the whole world stopped for a full second. The background track continued to play while the rapper’s voice cut off. He slowly lowered the mic, and an audible hush fell upon the crowd. The music halted, abrupt and sharp.

Then Jimin’s panic flooded back to him, survival instinct snapping into place, and he quickly turned on his heel to get the fuck out of there. Jimin pushed through the crowd with a pounding heart and roaring ears, only vaguely hearing the rapper’s urgent “excuse me’s” as he followed after Jimin.

Jimin burst through the doors into the cool night air, drawing a blank as to where he could run now. The street was empty, but Jimin didn’t know this neighborhood. He didn’t even have a car to run to. It didn’t occur to him that he could call someone for help. Well, even if he had considered the option, would any of his friends make it to him on time?

Jimin sucked in a deep breath and swiftly turned the nearest corner. He ducked down in a dim alley, heart beating up to his goddamn ears. The venue door slammed open a millisecond later, and Jimin held his breath. 

There was a pause, the heavy night air falling still.

“Omega?” The rapper cautiously called, voice wavering. “It’s okay, I’m not going to do anything to you. I just wanna talk.”

Jimin bit his lip. As sincere as the alpha sounded, Jimin knew all the horror stories, and he was still hesitant to trust him.

Jimin exhaled as quietly as he could manage, breath fogging out before him. A siren blared in the distance, and a neon restaurant sign across the street flickered. The pavement was damp beneath him, wall stiff and frigid against his back. Yet, Jimin refused to move.

“Please? It’s cold, and I know the bond’s probably starting to hurt.”

Jimin settled a palm over his heart, nails digging into the material of his shirt. His true mate wasn’t wrong; Jimin could begin to feel the ache deep beneath his ribs. He released an involuntary whimper.

Barely a beat passed, the short sound echoing through the alley, then he heard the scuff of boots. Much too suddenly, Jimin found a figure looming over him.

Jimin’s wide gaze shifted up, and he curled into himself further, despite his instinct to reach out for his mate. The alpha quickly shook off the shock of finally getting a good look at Jimin. He slowly knelt down, leaving a few inches between them.

“Hey,” he said softly. “You don’t need to be scared. I’m not gonna bite.”

Jimin merely eyed him warily.

The alpha sighed and briefly lifted his hat to push his hair back. “I’m Yoongi.”

Jimin dug his nails into his bicep. “Jimin,” he mumbled.

“I’m happy to finally meet you, Jimin,” Yoongi replied, all warmth. “Do you think I could drive you home?”

“No,” Jimin said swiftly, a hiss on his tongue. “Why would I go home with you?”

“T-to your home,” Yoongi clarified, holding his palms up in a placating motion. “I’m not dragging you back to my place, I swear. I don’t want to scare you.”

Jimin pulled his lower lip between his teeth. “What about your show?”

Yoongi shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. You’re shivering, and I want to make sure you get back safe.” He paused. “You were here alone, right?”

Jimin blinked, suddenly reminded of Namjoon. “N-Namjoon-hyung… I was supposed to watch him. But he still has his set to get through.”

“Oh, Joon,” Yoongi replied. “I can call him, fill him in for you?”

“You know each other?”

“Mm. We’ve been friends for a while,” Yoongi replied. He pulled out his phone and pressed dial, offering Jimin a gentle smile as it rang.

Jimin fiddled with the sleeves of his jacket and glanced around. His head was reeling, more confused over the fact that Yoongi was being kind and careful with him than over the situation itself.

Yoongi straightened up and began to pace when Namjoon answered, speaking in a low tone. His breath fogged out before him, pouted lips parting around soft utterances. Jimin hated how attractive the alpha was, from his slow gait to his rumbling voice.

“He says he knows you,” Jimin absently heard. Yoongi paused, wiping under his eye as he squinted at the parking lot across the alley. “Yeah, I’m surprised, too.” He huffed out something resembling a chuckle. “I was thinking I’d just drive him home. He looks shaken up.”

Yoongi tilted his head, gaze flickering down to Jimin for a moment as he listened to Namjoon. His expression softened, some revelation over the line causing him further pause. “Uh huh,” he mumbled. “Thanks. Call me whenever you want.”

Yoongi hung up and shifted on his heel to face Jimin. “Your hyung gives his blessing,” he said casually, sticking a hand in the pocket of his jacket. “Do you trust me enough to come with me?”

“No,” Jimin stated. A shiver wracked his body. “But I know it’ll hurt like a bitch if I don’t.”

Yoongi withheld a disappointed frown. He nodded. “Well, my car’s down this way.” He took a step forward and offered a hand to help Jimin up.

Jimin stood on his own and brushed off his pants. “Don’t touch me,” he muttered. When he saw the pained pinch to Yoongi’s brow, he felt a twinge of guilt. “Please,” he belatedly tacked on.

Yoongi led them into the parking lot and opened Jimin’s door for him, making sure he was buckled before shutting it. He turned up the heat as soon as the car was on, making brief, worried glances to Jimin, the omega sunk down into his seat and burrowed into his coat.

Yoongi allowed Jimin to sit in silence as he pulled out of the lot, orange streetlight passing over the windshield, highlighting the slope of the alpha’s nose and the prominent knuckles of his hands.

Jimin held his palm in front of the heater, gaze distant as he stared out the window, watching the city slowly pass them by. “I’m in Hongdae,” he remembered to mutter.

“Ah, me too,” Yoongi mused, flicking on his blinker. “You a university student?”

“Mm,” Jimin simply uttered.

“What do you study?”

Jimin exhaled, fogging up his side of the windshield. “Dance major, poli-sci minor.”

“Oh, cool,” Yoongi replied, sounding genuinely intrigued. “Do you help with campus organizations?”

“Uh huh. I’ve led a few demonstrations.”

“And the dance thing… what kind of dance?”

“Contemporary,” Jimin murmured. “And some ballet.”

“So, you’re graceful,” Yoongi mused.

Jimin snorted. “Far from it. I’m very uncoordinated when I’m not dancing.”

“That’s cute,” Yoongi drawled, seemingly to himself.

Jimin folded his hands in his lap, hesitating. “Did you… do you go to school, too?”

“I graduated a couple years ago, music production,” Yoongi lightly answered. His lips parted, a moment of contemplation. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-two.”

“Oh,” Yoongi stated. “I guess I really am your hyung, then.”

“Did you think we were the same age?”

“I mean, you look young, but you can never be sure,” Yoongi shrugged. “How old do I look?”

Jimin pursed his lips. “Twenty-five.”

The corner of Yoongi’s mouth quirked up. “So close. Twenty-four.” He tapped the steering wheel as they stalled at a red light. “Any roommates?”

“Not anymore,” Jimin said. “My best friend found his mate earlier this year and moved in with him. I’ll be graduating soon, though, so it’s fine. I’ll move where I can find work.”

“Do you enjoy Hongdae?” Yoongi asked tentatively.

“I do, but I need money, so my love for the area doesn’t matter all that much.”

The light flickered green, and Yoongi stepped on the gas. The question Yoongi wouldn’t dare utter hung between them—what if you lived with me?

As much as Jimin wanted to deny it, mates needed to be together. If they tried to separate without sealing the bond, they would only gravitate back to each other like two planets in orbit. And as much as Jimin liked the idea of staying in his district, he was not about to rely on some alpha, especially not when a mating mark was a requirement of the deal.

“Do you have family close by?” Yoongi continued, trying to quell the tension evident in Jimin’s posture, from the set of his jaw to the stiff line of his shoulders.

“No,” Jimin mumbled. “They’re all in Busan.”

“I understand,” Yoongi said. “I’m from Daegu.”

“My best friend’s from Daegu,” Jimin mused. “He’s taken me home with him a couple times. It’s a nice city.” He paused. “Busan’s nicer, though.”

Yoongi snorted. “Of course.”

“What, you never heard about how Busan’s got the prettiest omegas?”

“I haven’t,” Yoongi drawled. He spared a glance at Jimin. “I don’t doubt it, though.”

Oh, that was not the response Jimin had been fishing for. He tugged the collar of his jacket up to hide his rising flush. Jimin fell quiet, much too awkward to offer a response.

He fed Yoongi directions once they were in Hongdae, navigating closer and closer to his apartment complex. Maybe it was a bad idea showing the alpha where he lived, Jimin thought belatedly. In retrospect, he could have led them to Taehyung’s home instead, and taken shelter with his friend. Too late now, he supposed.

When Yoongi pulled into the parking garage of Jimin’s building, the omega’s hand hovered over the belt buckle. “Well, thanks,” he said slowly, looking over to Yoongi to catch his smile.

“Of course,” he replied. “Could I, um, get your number?”

Jimin worried his lower lip, yet nodded. He fished for his phone in his back pocket and handed it over with an unsteady grip. “Why don’t you put yours in?” He suggested. He didn’t want the eager alpha blowing up his notifications.

Yoongi complied, adding the contact and returning the device. Jimin then unbuckled himself and propped the door, sliding out and standing on stiff limbs. He fidgeted with his sleeves, glancing between Yoongi and the apartment complex.

“I guess I’ll… see you?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi agreed. “Soon, I hope.”

Jimin gave a curt nod and shut the car door. He turned around, taking one careful step at a time. Every movement incited another painful tug at his heart. By the time he made it even remotely close to the sliding doors out of the parking garage, he felt as if he was tearing his own chest open. Jimin wondered if Yoongi felt the same.

Jimin stopped and shut his eyes. His heart was thundering madly, sending new waves of ache throughout his entire body. His lungs had clenched, shortening his breath, skin prickling under the cold air. Jimin gasped and clenched his teeth, trying to rein himself in to no avail. What did he do to deserve this? No matter how hard he tried to move, to take one more goddamn step, his body was forcing him back from the warm safety of home.

Stupid alpha, Jimin thought as his eyes watered. Stupid mate, stupid bond, stupid ache, and stupid body. He just wanted to go home.

But home was Yoongi now, his bond whispered, scratching as his insides, dragging him back to the one person who was supposed to complete him.

Jimin exhaled a shuddering breath. He shifted around, a tear streaking down his cheek as he walked back to the idling car. His vision was blurry, so he couldn’t take in Yoongi’s reaction when he tugged open the passenger door and slid right back in.

“T-take me… home,” Jimin stuttered. He wrapped his arms around his midsection and sunk into his seat.

Yoongi observed him for a long moment, hand on the center console. He wanted to touch Jimin, but he withheld the desire. “Okay,” he whispered, pulling the brake. He licked his lips. “I’m sorry.”

Jimin’s expression pinched; he shut his eyes tight. “Not your fault.”

 

The clatter of Yoongi’s keys against his kitchen counter was jarring amidst the apartment’s silence. Jimin squinted when Yoongi flicked on the lights, and he looked around the sprawling space with confusion.

“How do you afford this?” He questioned, passing through the living room to stop in front of a shiny black piano positioned by the tall windows. He brushed his fingertips over the smooth surface, gaze flickering to the view of Seoul below them, from hazy orange streetlamps to flickering purple signs.

“Royalties,” Yoongi said casually. “Producing is my main gig.”

“Huh,” Jimin stated.

Yoongi trailed after him, always a few paces behind as Jimin explored the space. He didn’t set limits to where Jimin could go or what he could touch—he was fully opening his home to Jimin, and the omega wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about that.

Jimin found his bedroom, a prickle under his skin as he stared at the bed. Dark, fluffy comforter, and a soft blanket at the foot of the mattress. Jimin wanted to nuzzle into the mass of pillows and drown in Yoongi’s scent. But he wouldn’t, because that would be irrational.

“Do you have makeup remover?” Jimin asked suddenly, turning around to face Yoongi lingering in the hall.

“Uh, no. I can run to the store and get you some?”

Jimin brushed his hair back. “No. It’ll come off with enough water and scrubbing.” He wrung his hands and shifted toward the wardrobe, leaving Yoongi to merely watch. He pulled open the double doors, sifting through the hangers like the clothes were his own. His instincts told him they were his, told him everything in this apartment was his—an alpha cared for their mate in whatever manner they required, after all. Jimin frowned, yet continued searching.

He pulled out a knit sweater and threw it onto the bed. He wandered to Yoongi’s dresser to find a pair of sweats. When his gaze met Yoongi’s, the alpha arched a brow. “My clothes aren’t exactly comfortable,” Jimin muttered in explanation.

“Alright,” Yoongi replied, unaccusatory. “How about I make you some hot chocolate while you change?” He suggested.

Jimin nodded, grateful he didn’t have to shoo the alpha out.

Jimin later padded out into the living room, clothes changed and makeup cleaned off, sweater slipping off his shoulder as he wandered toward the kitchen. There was already a steaming mug on the countertop, Yoongi leaning on the surface in the corner with his phone pressed to his ear. He glanced up, catching Jimin’s eyes, and finished the conversation.

Jimin crawled onto the stool in front of the countertop and pulled the mug toward him, blowing at the steam. He wrapped his hands around the warmed ceramic. “Who was that?” He murmured.

“Namjoon. I gave him another update,” Yoongi replied. He leaned into the other side of the counter, watching as Jimin took a tentative sip. “You look comfy.”

“I like the material of this,” Jimin said quietly, lifting a hand to thumb at his sleeve.

“Do you always wear such tight clothes?”

“No,” Jimin sighed. “Those were my late-night outing clothes. I’ve got leather pants, too.”

Yoongi visibly swallowed.

“I usually wear bright colors. I’ve got a lot of yellow right now. A lot of tight-fit jeans, but not suffocating. Some skirts, too. And so many fall sweaters, but lots of reds and dark greens.”

“I’ll bet you’re very cute,” Yoongi mused.

Jimin made a small noise in the back of his throat and took another drink.

Yoongi tapped lightly against the granite surface. “So, how do you… feel about this?”

Jimin stared at Yoongi’s hands, his grip tightening around the mug. “Not great,” Jimin admitted. “It’s nothing against you, but I’d hoped I had more time.”

“Does this make you feel trapped?”

“Sort of,” Jimin whispered. “My body’s forcing me to attach myself to another person. How could I not feel at least somewhat trapped?”

“True,” Yoongi said. “I won’t force you into anything, though.”

“I think you’ve proven that by now,” Jimin replied, twisting his fingers around the handle. “But that doesn’t help much in the long run. If I want to keep living a normal life, I have to mate with you. And then I lose my independence.”

“It doesn’t have to be romantic.”

Jimin blinked, eyes widening. He looked up. “How?”

“I mean, our bodies need a mating bond to function. But I can’t force you to love me,” he chuckled dryly. “If it comes down to it, we could mate and just… live our lives, like platonic partners or something.”

Practically, that was a good idea. Yet, the notion didn’t sit right with him. Jimin spoke before he could properly think, properly hold himself back. “Are you not attracted to me?”

Yoongi inhaled, a hint of panic in his expression. “I am,” he insisted. “Of course I am. You’re… wow. But that’s aside from the point.” He shook his head. “What I meant was that you could keep your independence. I know how apprehensive you are about this, and about me. You also looked so terrified running out of that venue tonight. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable, or even worse, miserable.”

Jimin’s lips parted, brows drawn. “I just—” He took a deep breath. “I don’t know you.”

“I understand,” Yoongi said slowly. “So, you wouldn’t be entirely opposed to being with me?”

“I’d have to know what kind of person you are before I make that decision. I can’t accidentally wrap myself up with a shitty alpha,” Jimin replied, shrugging. “Not that I think you’re a shitty alpha. I mean, you could be, but I don’t think so.”

Yoongi huffed, then smirked. “Thanks.”

Jimin took another drink, filling the silence. He set the mug down with a small clatter. “What’s your greatest aspiration in life?”

Yoongi blinked, taken aback by the question. “Um,” he drawled in consideration. “To make music that speaks to people, I guess? Music got me through high school, and the bad days when I was still adjusting to my depression medication. So I want to do the same for others, in a way?”

“That’s nice,” Jimin murmured. “You’re on meds?”

Yoongi hummed in affirmation. “Helps me function a little easier.”

“I’m glad you found something that works.”

“And what about you?” Yoongi continued. “Big aspirations?”

“Equality,” Jimin stated simply, confidently. “I won’t rest until omegas have equal standing to alphas in the legal and social realms.”

Yoongi smiled. “A valiant cause.”

“Thank you,” Jimin said lightly. He bit his lip, a bit shy. “I also want to be a good father.”

Yoongi’s gaze lingered on him, suddenly very fond. “You want kids?”

“A few,” Jimin confirmed. “Do you?” He prompted, a bit cautious.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said. “I do.”

Jimin tapped his mug and muffled a yawn. “What time is it?”

Yoongi glanced back at the digital clock on the microwave. “Past one,” he replied, rather sheepish. “Sorry, I’ve been keeping you up.”

Jimin shook his head. “It’s fine. We both got distracted.”

“Let me rinse that out for you, and you can get settled in bed,” Yoongi suggested, reaching for Jimin’s mug. “I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Jimin slid the cup over, then paused. “I don’t think that’s the best idea.”

Yoongi arched a brow.

“Well, it’s a bit of a distance, and that might start to hurt us both. It might be easier if we just… sleep in the bed together.” Jimin was aware of the flush on his cheeks, but he refused to acknowledge it.

Yoongi observed him for a beat. “Okay,” he finally agreed. “I might shift around in my sleep, though, and I know you said I couldn’t touch you.”

“It’s fine,” Jimin said begrudgingly. “I’ll just bite your hand if you go too far.”

“Wonderful,” Yoongi sighed, turning around to wash out the mug.

Jimin stopped by the bathroom first, rinsing his mouth with minty mouthwash after he realized he didn’t have a toothbrush. It’d be good enough for one night, then he could buy some supplies for the rest of his time there, or just bring over his own things.

Jimin stopped in the doorway after he flicked off the bathroom light. He was already entertaining the possibility of permanence. Discomfort and satisfaction over the mere notion battled within him. Jimin was too exhausted to determine the winner.

Jimin crawled into bed, surprised over how soft the mattress was. He sunk into it with a sigh, pulling the fluffy comforter up around himself. He burrowed into a pillow, solely smelling Yoongi. He swallowed a purr, irritated by his own reaction to the scent.

Jimin gripped the pillow when Yoongi walked in, shut his eyes when the alpha changed into sleep clothes. He held his breath when the mattress dipped, aware that they were on opposite sides and certainly wouldn’t touch. The proximity was palpable all the same. He still felt the urge to scoot closer.

Yoongi muttered a weak “goodnight,” then flicked off the lamp and turned his back to the omega.

Jimin nuzzled into his pillow and tried to let his internal sense of safety lull him to sleep. There was an emptiness gnawing at him, though, keeping him awake for a good half hour longer. Jimin feared he wouldn’t get any rest. He sighed.

Admitting defeat, Jimin rolled closer until he was nearly touching Yoongi. He buried his face between Yoongi’s shoulder blades, inhaling his scent and feeling his warmth.

“Jimin?” Yoongi asked groggily.

Jimin’s hand skimmed along Yoongi’s waist. He bit his lip and felt his pride crack. “Could you… hold me?” He whispered, feeling much too vulnerable under the night’s shadow and the weight of the unfamiliar room.

Yoongi shifted around, a pinch to his expression. He wordlessly slung an arm around Jimin, allowing the omega to do the rest. Jimin curled into him and pressed his face into Yoongi’s neck, scenting him fully. He felt Yoongi’s palm tighten around his hip.

It was in those quiet moments that Jimin realized he could never be alone again. For years, he had been completely independent. Jimin was a strong omega, and he was proud of that fact. He could stand up for himself in any circumstance, and he could provide for himself without the assistance for an alpha.

Yet, with such a simple occurrence, in such a quick instance, Jimin’s entire world had tilted on its axis. Suddenly, he needed Yoongi’s touch, his scent, his reassurances. Jimin truly needed someone, and that thought hurt him more than he could describe.

Yoongi was kind and considerate, but he was an anchor, and one Jimin had never requested in the first place.

Jimin fisted his hand in the loose material of Yoongi’s shirt and exhaled a shuddering breath. When he began to shake with quiet sobs, Yoongi said nothing. He merely pressed his nose to Jimin’s hair and hugged him closer.

Jimin cried himself to sleep.

Jimin curled up on the couch while Yoongi took a shower, one arm around his knees and phone pressed to his ear as it rang. Jimin’s eyes wandered, the apartment seeming so much larger in the daylight. The sofa was large, a fairly big flat-screen hanging on the wall across from him. The piano still glimmered, and the hardwood reflected the sun’s yellow rays. There was a fireplace in the corner; it looked like a nice commodity for the winter.

“Jimin?” Taehyung answered, voice thick with grogginess.

“Did I wake you?”

“Not really.” There was a shuffling of sheets. “What’re you doing up before ten on a Sunday?”

Jimin swallowed a lump in his throat. “It’s been an unusual weekend.”

Taehyung dramatically gasped into the receiver. “Did you hook up with someone at Joon-hyung’s show?”

“Not really,” Jimin snorted. “And you know I don’t do that.” He licked his lips and tilted his head, reluctant to just spit it out. “So, I… Something happened. I was at the show a-and one of the rappers went on stage…” His voice wavered, and he exhaled.

“Are you okay?” Taehyung asked, tone softening.

“Yeah, shockingly,” Jimin replied. “The rapper, he—he turned out to be my mate. I sorta freaked and ran, b-but he found me anyway.”

“He didn’t hurt you?”

“No,” Jimin assured. “I really thought he was going to, though. I was so scared, Tae, and he could sense it. So, he was really nice to me, didn’t touch me or anything. He took me home and let me just walk out of his car to my apartment. But I couldn’t keep walking. It hurt like hell to be away from him, so to put it simply, I’m at his apartment now.”

There was a pause over the line. “Are you… still unmated?”

“Yeah,” Jimin breathed. “I told him I didn’t want to do it, and he respected that. We can’t be physically apart, but at least he’s respecting my boundaries.”

“That’s good,” Taehyung said. “That’s really good. What’s his name?”

“Yoongi.”

“Just Yoongi? No family name?”

Jimin laughed. “Oh my god, I forgot to ask.”

“I mean, I’m sure you were distracted,” Taehyung replied. “I think I learned Kook’s full name a week after we mated.”

Jimin shook his head. “I’m going to make sure I get to know him before I let anything happen. He actually suggested we go on a date today; we’re gonna stop by my place first, so I can get dressed and pack up some stuff.”

“Are you planning on living with him?”

Jimin hesitated. That was a complicated matter. “For now,” he said slowly. “I wanna feel it out, but I know we can’t be apart, so… this is the compromise.”

“Well, you do what you need to,” Taehyung said. “I suppose I was right, too—fate didn’t leave you with a shitty alpha.”

The water shut off in the background, and Jimin rolled his eyes. “Don’t get all haughty about it.”

“I wasn’t,” Taehyung said innocently. “Anyway, how was Joon-hyung’s performance?”

“I don’t know, never got the chance to see it. And what about you? How was Overwatch weekend?”

“Amazing,” Taehyung groaned. “God, I love being pregnant. It gives me an excuse to do absolutely nothing.”

“You’re lucky your mate’s a breadwinner.”

“I really am.” He paused. “Does Yoongi have money?”

“God,” Jimin muttered. “You should see this place, Tae. I was shocked the second I stepped in. He doesn’t look the part—no fancy jewelry or rich boy swagger. But I was snooping through his stuff earlier this morning, and he’s got four watches. Four! All shiny and expensive, too. Oh, and he’s got a huge TV that I will not mind taking advantage of.”

Taehyung whined. “I want a rich mate.”

“Then tell Kook to upgrade to a movie director. Now they make good money.”

He could hear Taehyung’s pout over the line; “Yeah, I guess so. The online videos do well enough, but I can always be greedy and ask for more.”

“There you go,” Jimin snickered. He heard the bathroom door creak open. “I, uh, I gotta go now, Tae. But I’ll keep you updated.”

“Alright,” Taehyung sighed. “Tell me when you finally lose your virginity.”

Jimin flushed red up to his ears, emitting an indignant squawk before he managed to hang up.

 

Jimin twined his fingers in his lap, fidgeting the slightest as Yoongi drove them to lunch. It had taken him a mere ten minutes to pack some clothes and necessities in a duffle, then another ten to get dressed. He knew he didn’t need to wear makeup, but he put it on anyway, succumbing to his irritating desire to impress Yoongi.

Jimin pulled the sleeve of his crimson sweater over his hand, staring down at the black velvet of his skirt. He’d put too much gloss on, he thought absently, pulling his lower lip between his teeth.

Yoongi slowed to a stop in front of a red light and glanced over. “You look pretty.”

Jimin blinked twice, a subtle blush on his cheeks. “Thank you,” he mumbled.

Yoongi reached up, hesitated a moment, then tucked a lock of blonde hair behind Jimin’s ear. Jimin almost snapped at him, almost reminded the alpha not to touch him. But Yoongi was being so gentle, and the touch didn’t feel wrong. Jimin merely held his breath. Then the light changed, and his hand was back on the steering wheel.

They pulled up to an empty curb, Yoongi stating that the restaurant of choice was only a block away. Jimin was embarrassed, to say the least, when Yoongi quickly rounded the front of the car to open Jimin’s door for him. He ducked his head to hide his blush, pushing through the internal war raging within himself—on one hand, wow that was kinda cute, but on another, Jimin was perfectly capable of opening his own door. Jimin had engaged in joking chivalry with Taehyung countless times before, but it was different between two omegas. There was something socially charged behind an alpha engaging in the act.

They walked down the block side by side, shoulders barely brushing. Jimin curled his hand into his sleeve to avoid touching Yoongi directly; he didn’t want Yoongi to get the wrong idea and try to hold his hand.

They got a few odd looks at their awkward proximity. He noticed a few people squinting at his neck, looking for a mating mark. What, an alpha and omega couldn’t hang out alone without being mated? Jimin thought.

They stopped in front of a small place, windows lined with plants. Inside, the chatter was quiet, tables spread out to allow for some privacy. When Yoongi asked where he wanted to sit, Jimin meekly replied, “a booth.” They settled across from each other, soft sunlight dancing along the clean tabletop.

Jimin fiddled with the menu, skin prickling under Yoongi’s careful gaze.

“Pick whatever you want, I’m paying,” he stated simply.

Jimin blinked up at him. “That’s not fair,” he replied with a burst of petulance.

Yoongi cracked a smile. “Why’s that not fair?”

Jimin pouted. “I’m already staying at your apartment and eating your snacks…”

“I don’t mind,” Yoongi said smoothly. “Anything else you want? A shopping trip? A new pair of earrings?”

“Shut up,” Jimin grumbled. “You shouldn’t spoil people who aren’t giving you anything in return.”

“But you are giving me something in return,” Yoongi replied. Jimin stiffened at the comment, mind going to an undesirable place. “You’re giving me your pleasant company.”

Oh. Jimin exhaled, relieved Yoongi hadn’t actually been expecting something. True mates or not, Jimin was not going to offer sex out of a twisted sense of obligation.

“My company’s not all that exceptional,” Jimin mumbled, flipping a page of the menu. “Are their Italian sodas any good?”

Yoongi hummed. “Wouldn’t know. I’ve only had the coffee.”

“I shouldn’t hop myself up on caffeine today. I’ve gotta sleep early so I can get up for school.”

“Can I drive you?” Yoongi asked.

Jimin looked up at him in surprise. “You don’t need to. I usually take the bus.”

“But my apartment’s farther from the campus than yours. I don’t mind.”

Jimin pursed his lips. “You don’t have to be this nice, y’know.”

“I’m not forcing myself to be kind to you, Jimin,” Yoongi said quietly. “I genuinely want to look out for you.”

“Because you’re biologically drawn to me.”

“Because I think you’re a good person.”

Jimin met his gaze for a moment, then looked down at his hands clasped on the table, wordless. “You don’t really know me.”

“I know you’re an honors student.”

“What?” Jimin asked, brows furrowed.

“And I know you earned a solo in your university’s dance recital last year. Joon’s been talking about you. It took me a short while to connect the pieces, but I’ve been thinking about it all since this morning. You’re the exceptional little omega he’s always bragging about.” Yoongi tilted his head, held Jimin’s gaze. “Am I wrong?”

“N-no,” Jimin stammered, embarrassed and floundering for words.

“I also know you’re passionate about good causes, about helping people. Because you’ve told me as much. I admire someone’s who’s warm-hearted and driven.”

“But what about you?” Jimin insisted, ignoring the frantic beating of his heart and the blush warm on his cheeks. “I need to know about you. What’s your family like? What kind of student were you in college? What’s your music about?”

Yoongi inhaled, taken aback by Jimin’s intensity. He chuckled. “Alright.” He settled back in his seat and absently tapped the table. “I’ve got an older brother who does boring office work. He’s still unmated, but he says he doesn’t mind. My parents run a restaurant and have never moved from Daegu. I was a decent student. Not honor roll or anything, but I managed to keep up a few scholarships. I was better at hands-on stuff than studying.”

Jimin nodded along, soaking in the information, trying to get a better grasp on the man across from him.

“Um, most of the music I write and produce isn’t for myself, so the topics vary. My own raps can be politically-charged, though.”

“You’re not into alpha supremacy, are you?” Jimin asked, narrowing his eyes.

Yoongi snorted. “God, no. I think our politics line up pretty well—omega rights, better protections and opportunities for all.”

“Death to the system?”

Yoongi smirked. “Yup, death to the system.”

It was during that golden moment when the waitress decided to finally greet them and take their orders. Jimin exchanged a bemused look with Yoongi, then ordered the first sandwich that sounded good to him. Yoongi asked for a salad, and Jimin arched a brow.

Yoongi waited until the waitress walked away to explain. “My friend has been nagging me about eating habits. He says I won’t be young forever.”

“Well, your friend’s right,” Jimin hummed. “But that fact won’t stop me from getting sugary drinks.”

“At least you’ve got some sort of workout routine, hm?”

Jimin squinted at Yoongi, particularly the broad set of his shoulders. “You’re saying you don’t work out?”

“Not regularly,” Yoongi replied.

“I’m doubtful,” Jimin mumbled. “Oh,” he perked up. “What’s your family name?”

“Have I not… mentioned it?”

Jimin shook his head. “I don’t think you know mine, either.”

“Huh, I don’t,” Yoongi mused. “Well, I’m Min Yoongi. Nice to formally meet you.” He held out a hand across the table.

A smile curled onto Jimin’s lips. “Park Jimin,” he replied, shaking Yoongi’s hand firmly.

Yoongi released his hand and merely watched Jimin for a long moment, expression soft and admiring. Sunlight caught in his blonde hair, the strands near white under the bright rays. Jimin’s gaze flickered away, then back again, flustered under the attention. “What?” He laughed.

“Nothing,” Yoongi murmured.

“Did my lip gloss smudge?” Jimin pouted, wiping under his lower lip to search for residue.

“No,” Yoongi snickered. “You’re fine. I was just thinking.”

“About me?” Jimin asked awkwardly.

Yoongi gave a curt nod. “I guess I’ve dreamed of this for a while. It’s nice, finally being able to see you, get to know you.”

“Really? I’ve only dreaded this,” Jimin admitted. “Not that you’re bad, or anything. I just… I expected you to be.”

“Did you ever want to find your mate? Like, as a child?”

Jimin huffed dryly. “Not really. That was more of Taehyung’s fantasy.”

“Then what was yours?”

Jimin bit his lip. “Don’t laugh.”

Yoongi smirked. “Why?”

“Just don’t,” Jimin whined.

“Fine. I’ll stay dead silent.”

Jimin sighed, then glanced around conspiratorially. He leaned in and lowered his voice. “My mother took me to see a production of Swan Lake when I was five. All I’ve wanted since then is to be Odette.”

Yoongi’s eyes glimmered, and he slapped a hand over his mouth.

“Don’t laugh,” Jimin hissed, red up to his ears.

“I’m not,” Yoongi insisted, voice muffled.

“Listen, she was so pretty and graceful. I wanted to be a pretty swan ballerina, too.”

“I’m sorry, that’s just so cute,” Yoongi said, lowering his hand, voice laced with mirth. “Now I’m imagining you in one of those fluffy white tutus, and it’s fucking adorable.”

Jimin pressed his hand flat on the table with a whine. “It sounds like you’re teasing me.”

“Not at all, I swear,” Yoongi chuckled. “I’m genuinely intrigued by this childhood dream.” He stopped, licked his lips. “I guess it came to fruition, in some sense. You might not be a ballerina, but you are a pretty and graceful dancer.”

“Hyung,” Jimin stated, leaning in with narrowed eyes. “We’ve been over this. I’m not graceful.”

“Well, maybe not, but you’re…” He hummed, considering. “You’re delicate.”

Jimin arched a brow. “How so?”

“Not delicate as in weak. More like—” He placed his hand over Jimin’s, then turned the omega’s palm up. “You’re got these cute little fingers, and you touch everything so carefully. Like when you were looking through my closet last night, you touched things so lightly. You walk confidently, too, but your steps are also light. I don’t know; now that I think about it, it’s hard to describe.”

Jimin stared at their hands, how Yoongi had twined their fingers. His heart skipped a beat. He didn’t want Yoongi to let go.

Then their waitress returned with both their food and drinks, and they had to pull apart. Jimin awkwardly cleared his throat and distracted himself with his straw, stirring the pink Italian soda.

Most of their chatter after that was rather idle, and Jimin grew nervous for their return back to Yoongi’s apartment. He could pretend the date was one thing, but going home with the alpha would be another reminder of how stuck they were together. He mulled in his thoughts, too preoccupied to protest when Yoongi paid for both of their meals.

Yoongi carried Jimin’s bags up to his apartment when they arrived, Jimin trailing after him as he set Jimin’s things down in the bedroom.

“I’ll clear out a drawer for you,” Yoongi said casually, as if this shift wasn’t even fazing him. He pushed aside the hangers in his wardrobe, allowing room for Jimin’s clothes. Then he unpacked the bottom drawer of his dresser, reorganizing the content.

Jimin brought his own pillow and laid it on the side of the bed he had occupied the night before. It felt like an act of possession, as if he was taking ownership of that side of Yoongi’s mattress. Jimin exhaled and tried to ignore the twinge in his gut.

“What time do you need to be on campus tomorrow?” Yoongi asked as Jimin unpacked his laptop.

“Um, nine-thirty would be good.”

“Alright,” Yoongi stated, watching him from the bedroom doorway.

“I think I’m gonna do some homework,” Jimin quietly stated.

“Do you wanna use my office?”

“The living room will work just fine.”

Jimin cradled his laptop to his chest, glancing uneasily between Yoongi and the hall behind him. Yoongi slowly stepped aside, a hint of sympathy in his expression. He seemed to understand how awkward this was for Jimin, how much of a stitch it was in his routine.

“I’ll keep quiet, then,” Yoongi said, trying to lift the mood.

“Thank you,” Jimin said simply, walking away to get settled on the couch.

Jimin dropped his backpack in the entryway and stretched his arms with a groan. His last class of the day was dance, and Hoseok had been kind enough to drop him off. Jimin was honestly considering a nap now.

Jimin stepped into the silent apartment, scenting the air to determine if Yoongi was even home. His scent wasn’t stale. “Yoongi-hyung?” Jimin called, idling in the living room as he looked around. When he garnered no response, Jimin frowned and turned on his heel to retreat to the kitchen. Yoongi was probably busy in his office, anyway.

Jimin swung open the fridge, perusing the few contents within. Eggs, milk, condiments. Was that really it? Jimin squinted, frown deepening. This man needed real food. Jimin shut the door and sighed. He caught something his peripheral and swerved around, finding Yoongi hanging in the entryway.

“Shit,” Jimin muttered, hand over his heart. “You scared me.”

“Sorry?” Yoongi replied, hands up in surrender. “Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”

Jimin brushed a hand through his hair and leaned into the counter.

“How was class?”

Jimin shrugged. “It was class. Y’know.”

“Sure,” Yoongi muttered with bemusement. His gaze roved over Jimin. “You look hot.”

“E-excuse me?” Jimin spluttered.

“Oh, no—Hot as in temperature. Not… no,” Yoongi rushed to amend, rubbing the back of his neck. “You look hot, temperature-wise.”

Jimin cleared his throat. “I’ve been dancing,” he explained. “It requires a lot of exertion.”

“Right.”

Well, this was a weird mood, Jimin thought. “Um, you have like, no food in your fridge.”

“I’ve got stuff,” Yoongi replied, brows pinched in confusion.

“C’mon, hyung, it’s bare in there. What do you eat?”

“Takeout,” Yoongi said casually, as if that was an acceptable answer.

“Oh, hyung,” Jimin sighed. “That’s gotta be terrible for your health and your wallet. Do you know how to cook?”

“Yeah, but what’s the fun in cooking for one person?”

Jimin frowned. “We need to go grocery shopping. I can’t live here if you don’t have—” he flailed his arms, “food.”

“Sure, after I finished up my track,” Yoongi replied.

“I’m gonna fall asleep any minute. Let’s just do it now,” Jimin protested, voice verging on a whine.

Yoongi exhaled and glanced forlornly behind him, already defeated. “Okay. Put on a sweatshirt; the temperature’s supposed to drop this afternoon.”

 

Jimin wrote a list on his phone while they were in the car. “Do you have any allergies?” He asked, wracking his brain for his usual necessities.

“Not that I know of.”

Jimin hummed. “I once made dinner for a boyfriend, completely unaware he was allergic to shellfish. I’ve learned my lesson; I always ask.”

“A boyfriend?” Yoongi echoed.

Jimin glanced up at him. “Yeah, why?”

“That’s just… unusual. I’ve heard of unmated people hooking up, but rarely relationships.”

“Well, I was twenty and lonely. Sue me.” He set his phone on his thigh. “Have you done the hookup thing?”

Yoongi paused, flicking his turn signal as he tried to switch lanes. He shrugged. “Not in a while.”

“So, you used to,” Jimin concluded.

“I’m clean, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“No, that’s not—” Jimin exhaled. “Not what I was wondering.”

Yoongi hit the blinker again as they turned in to the grocery store parking lot. “Have you done the hookup thing?”

Jimin sank lower in his seat. “No.”

“Why are you blushing?” Yoongi asked with mirth, glancing down at him. “Park Jimin, are you a virgin or something?”

Jimin spluttered. “As if that’s any of your business.” They were both surely aware that it was, in fact, entirely Yoongi’s business, considering how likely it was that they would have sex. Sex was an activity most pairs of mates engaged in, after all.

“So, you are,” Yoongi said simply, withholding a smirk. “That’s interesting.”

“It is not,” Jimin stubbornly denied.

“I don’t think you get to determine what I find interesting,” Yoongi snorted. He pulled to a stop.

Jimin huffed and unbuckled himself, promptly stepping out of the car.

Yoongi trailed after him, careful to hit the lock.

Jimin moved through his shopping routine like there wasn’t an alpha eyeing him, gravitating toward his back like a magnet he just couldn’t throw away. Jimin navigated toward the aisles.

When he abruptly stopped in front of the pasta, Yoongi bumped into him with a grunt. Jimin sighed. “Can you go pick out some yogurt, please?” He suggested, sparing a brief glance behind him. “I like Greek.”

Yoongi observed him for a second, donning a downtrodden expression. He looked a bit guilty. The alpha gave a curt nod. When he turned around, Jimin felt a sudden stab of regret toward his own cold shoulder.

Jimin quickly stepped forward and grasped Yoongi’s sleeve. The alpha stopped and shifted around, eyes wide.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin mumbled. “I shouldn’t snap at you. I’ve just been teased about it a lot before, and I get tired of it. I’ll have sex when I want to, not when it’s expected of me.”

“Oh,” Yoongi said slowly. “I’m sorry for teasing you, then. I won’t do it again.”

“You didn’t know,” Jimin said quietly. He loosened his grip on Yoongi’s sleeve, then dropped his hand. Yoongi quickly reached out and grasped it, twining their fingers. He gauged Jimin’s reaction. Jimin swallowed, but he didn’t protest. “We’ll… we can get to the yogurt later,” he murmured.

Yoongi grasped Jimin’s hand tighter and moved to stand beside him. He tilted his head. “You’re not shooing me away.”

Jimin’s lips parted, words lost on his tongue. “It’s cold in here,” he muttered. A weak excuse, but Yoongi didn’t call him out on it.

They walked side by side as Jimin perused the aisles, ticking off the items on his list. Sometimes Yoongi would brush up against his hip, and Jimin’s breath would catch. They never mentioned it, though—not the subtle contact, the satiated feeling between them, nor how perfectly Yoongi’s fingers slotted between Jimin’s.

Their cart quickly filled up, and Jimin began to huff every time he had to push it back into motion. Yoongi laughed at him, only quieted by Jimin’s over-the-shoulder glare. They caught the attention of a few people, the onlookers perhaps wondering why this alpha was watching his smaller omega struggle.

“Is it really that heavy?” Yoongi mused.

“It’s fine, I got it,” Jimin retorted, bodily turning a corner. “Where’s the cereal aisle?”

“Two more down,” Yoongi replied, absently fiddling with Jimin’s fingers.

When they turned down the proper aisle, Yoongi released Jimin’s hand, the omega glancing up in surprise. Yoongi then pressed up close behind Jimin and settled his palms atop Jimin’s on the cart rail. Jimin felt Yoongi’s chest against his back, and he suddenly couldn’t breathe.

Yoongi started to help him push, and Jimin tried to keep his focus on the task at hand. It was very hard to remain calm when he was absolutely swathed in Yoongi’s scent at this point. It was doing things to Jimin’s body, and he wanted no part of it.

Yoongi could surely scent Jimin’s hint of arousal, feel how easily he leaned back into him. The alpha’s chest rumbled with contentment.

Jimin inhaled a slow and shuddering breath. “Hyung,” he uttered, voice cracking. He felt Yoongi press his nose to his temple. Jimin closed his eyes. He felt the urge to bare his neck, but that would be entirely inappropriate.

Jimin suddenly shoved the cart forward, forcefully detaching Yoongi and leaving him to stumble after Jimin. “Don’t do that here,” Jimin hissed.

“So, I can do that at home?”

Jimin levelled him with a look, yet he didn’t correct Yoongi’s usage of home—perhaps it was their shared home now.

Yoongi continued to trail after him like a lost puppy, picking up items Jimin pointed to, sneakily helping him push the cart every so often. Yoongi continually offered to push Jimin around on the cart.

“There’s people here, hyung,” Jimin curtly replied. “And I’m not that childish.”

Jimin was thoroughly exhausted by the time they made it to the checkout line. They worked together to place their groceries on the conveyor, moving around each other in sync. An elderly alpha woman in front of them offered a smile; “I love watching young mates act so domestically. You make a cute couple.”

Jimin blinked owlishly, taken aback. Yoongi simply thanked her, probably realizing it wasn’t worth the explanation.

The same woman made an offhand comment about how pretty their children would look. Jimin did not take the time to acknowledge it, much too flustered over the prospect.

When Yoongi pulled out his debit card to pay, Jimin wrapped a hand around his bicep and tugged the alpha close. He narrowed his eyes. “You need to consult me before you pay for everything.”

“It’s basically your money too now, Jimin,” Yoongi said cheekily, perhaps challenging Jimin to protest in front of the waiting cashier.

Jimin puffed out his cheeks. He was cornered, so he shut his mouth.

The car ride back was quiet, but not in a tense manner. They were both genuinely tired, and hauling the groceries up to Yoongi’s floor drained the last of their energy. Jimin begrudgingly put everything away, then collapsed on the sofa.

Yoongi sat on the end of the couch and pulled out his phone. Before Jimin could fully sink into the soft cushions, he scooted up to rest his cheek against Yoongi’s thigh. The alpha stiffened for a moment out of surprise, yet quickly relaxed. Jimin shut his eyes, his breathing evening out as Yoongi twined his long fingers in Jimin’s hair.

“Thought you had a track to finish,” Jimin said, words slurred with grogginess.

“I’ll get to it later,” Yoongi quietly replied, brushing his knuckles against Jimin’s temple.

Yoongi’s touch remained gentle and fond. Jimin drifted off within minutes.

The rest of the school week passed somewhat normally. Jimin went about his usual routine—classes, workouts, more classes, and late-night studying. He learned to ignore the growing ache in his chest throughout the day, pain somewhat sated by his intimate proximity to Yoongi during the later hours of the day.

Yoongi split his time between his home office and his studio. He was always back in the apartment by the time Jimin arrived from school; he was often the one to pick Jimin up.

Jimin made plans to see Taehyung on Saturday, and he looked forward to the break in his new normal. Of course, Yoongi would have to tag along—Taehyung practically demanded it.

Yoongi seemed to take the invitation much more seriously than Jimin had anticipated. He flitted around the bedroom, searching for button-up shirts that he swore he had. Jimin, already fully dressed and ready to go, watched the shirtless alpha pace with bemusement. Okay, so maybe he was also taking advantage of the view.

“Have you checked the left side of the wardrobe?” Jimin drawled, hand on his hip.

Yoongi paused mid-step.

“I know that’s where you shove all the clothes you never actually wear.”

Yoongi snorted and turned around to open the wardrobe. “You’ve only lived here a week. How would you know—” He cut himself off, pulling out a hanger with a pressed black button up.

Jimin smirked. “Oh look, I was right.”

“Of course you were,” Yoongi muttered, sliding the shirt off its hook. He quickly kissed Jimin’s cheek. “Thank you.”

Jimin stiffened for a moment. It wasn’t the first time Yoongi had done that, but it startled him all the same. Jimin blinked a couple of times, then cleared his throat. He shifted on his heel, noticing how slowly Yoongi was buttoning it up. Jimin reached forward and swatted his hands away, resuming the buttoning for him.

Yoongi merely watched him with mirth. “Domestic,” he stated.

“Shut up,” Jimin mumbled. He smoothed down the front of the shirt, then adjusted the lapels. He exhaled, satisfied with his work. “I’m surprised you’re putting any effort into your appearance. It almost seems like you want to impress Tae.”

“I mean, he’s your best friend. I want to make a good impression, especially since we’ll have to deal with each other for a very long time,” Yoongi replied with a shrug.

“A very long time,” Jimin absently echoed, intending it to be a thought rather than an utterance. He shook his head. “We need to go.”

“Is Taehyung going to nag us about punctuality?”

“He might,” Jimin mused. “Pregnancy makes him irritable.”

Yoongi was just pocketing his phone when he stopped, eyes widening. “You didn’t mention he was pregnant.”

Jimin arched a brow. “I didn’t? Well, I don’t see why it’s all that important.”

“I need to mentally prepare myself for that, Jimin-ah.”

Jimin snorted. “Why?”

“The hormones,” Yoongi gestured. “You gotta be prepared for the hormones.”

Jimin rolled his eyes and tugged at Yoongi’s arm, practically dragging him out of the bedroom. “You’ll be fine. You’ve got a strong, confident omega to protect you.”

 

“He’s not that tall,” Taehyung stated, tilting his head as he looked Yoongi up and down. Yoongi had only gotten the chance to greet Taehyung and shake his hand. Yet, he was already being scrutinized; honestly, Jimin expected no less.

Jimin opened his mouth to defend his mate.

“Yes, well, you’re not that pregnant. So, I guess we’re even,” Yoongi casually replied.

Taehyung placed a hand over his belly and gawked. “Oh, so you’re a smartass?”

Jimin shimmied himself between them. “How about we sit down and not take up this restaurant’s entire entryway, huh?”

Taehyung grumbled in agreement, waddling off to find a corner for them to nestle into.

“Why did you say that?” Jimin hissed.

“He’s really not as pregnant as I was expecting. And he seemed like the type to respond well to humor.”

Jimin nudged him. “Hormones, remember?”

Jimin walked ahead to sit across from Taehyung, sidling up close to the window. Yoongi settled in beside him, the waiter laid out three waters, then they were left in silence.

“Tae,” Jimin began tensely, observing how the omega was squinting across the table at Yoongi. “How was that trip to your parents’ house this week?”

“Fine,” he tersely replied.

Jimin sighed. “Hey, Tae. Yoongi’s from Daegu, too. Isn’t that cool?”

Taehyung pursed his lips. “Do you know that ramyeon place on the east side?”

“Which one?” Yoongi retorted.

“The good one, obviously.”

“With the extra oily broth?”

“Of course,” Taehyung sniffed.

“Then yeah, I know it. My brother used to take me there after basketball practices.”

Jimin perked up. “Look, you guys have a mutual interest.”

“Right,” Taehyung said slowly.

“Oh,” Jimin said excitedly, clapping his hands together. “Yoongi-hyung’s a rapper. Jungkookie is an entertainer, too. Why don’t you tell hyung about that?” He prompted.

Taehyung’s eyes lit up at the mention of his mate. He shuffled around for his phone, quickly unlocking it. “My Jungkookie’s so talented,” he hummed. He turned the phone around to show Yoongi a picture. “And pretty.”

Yoongi blinked, then offered a smile. “What does he do, exactly?”

“He makes artsy online videos,” Jimin said.

“He also directs other creators’ videos, too,” Taehyung was sure to tack on. “He has an eye for these things, and good skills in editing. I keep telling him to branch out into television or film, but he says he likes the flexibility of online content.”

Taehyung continued to swipe through photos, smile blooming on his face as he showed Yoongi many more. Some of the pictures depicted the both of them, Taehyung grinning wide, and Jungkook either smiling along or appearing surprised. Most of the photos seemed candid, honestly, Jungkook’s eyes wide or lips parted while speaking. There were a few close-ups of Jungkook’s face, a pinch to his brows and a tired look in his gaze in the last image.

“He looks so annoyed,” Jimin snorted.

“He loves me,” Taehyung pouted in protest. “Not as much when I take pictures of him at night, but he still loves me anyway.”

“Would he be interested in directing a music video?” Yoongi asked abruptly.

Taehyung leaned back, gauging whether he was serious. “Probably. Why?”

“I mean, I’d need to see his work first, but I’d be open to hiring him for the part sometime,” Yoongi shrugged. “Sales are going up, so we’ll have the budget for more videos soon.”

Taehyung glanced between them, excitement growing in his expression. “Yeah… that would be cool. Jimin can show you his stuff, a-and I can talk to Kookie about it.” Taehyung leaned in and lowered his voice. “I keep telling him to stop being so picky about what he works on, but I’m still sure he’d say yes to this.”

Yoongi nodded along, noticing how Taehyung was easing up around him. He kept pushing onward. “How long have you and Jungkook known each other?”

“Eight months,” Taehyung chirped.

Yoongi’s gaze drifted down to Taehyung’s stomach. He must have been doing the mental math.

“They never bothered with birth control,” Jimin sighed, offering explanation.

Taehyung waved him off. “I don’t regret it. I’ve wanted kids since forever.”

“You really ought to move out of your one-bedroom before they get here, though,” Jimin said.

“He,” Taehyung cheekily corrected.

Jimin gaped. “Kim Taehyung, you did not inform me earlier!”

Taehyung snickered and leaned away from Jimin’s flailing hands, careful to not get slapped. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell people, but I guess you should at least know.” He rested his elbows on the table and leaned his cheeks into his open palms. “My baby boy Jeon, coming this February.”

Jimin shook his head, smiling all the same. “It’s way too soon.”

“It’s happening,” Taehyung sang. He then turned to face Yoongi. “I forgot to interrogate you about this—do you want kids, Yoongi-hyung? Jimin definitely does, so I expect you to still cater to his whims.”

Jimin rolled his eyes.

“I do,” Yoongi confirmed, smirking subtly at Jimin.

“That’s good. Jimin’s already a spoiled brat, but I’ll admit he deserves getting what he wants,” Taehying replied matter-of-factly.

Jimin squawked. “I am not!”

Taehyung pressed forward and imitated Jimin’s signature pout. He pitched his voice higher. “Oh Taehyungie, I want that eyeliner! Won’t you buy it for me? Oh Namjoon-hyungie, I dropped my books. Could you pick them up for me?”

“That is not what I sound like,” Jimin whined.

“It is,” Taehyung insisted.

“Sounds pretty accurate to me,” Yoongi agreed.

Jimin shot him a glare. “Why are you siding with Taehyung?”

“Because he’s right.

“Traitor.”

“I shouldn’t lie, Minie,” Yoongi teased, leaning into Jimin with a glimmer in his eye. He pinched Jimin’s hip, and Jimin indignantly swatted his hand off.

Jimin scooted away and raised his glass, pinching his straw between his lips. He glared between the two of them while he sipped. “Well, now I trust no one,” he mumbled. “And I really don’t sound like that.”

Taehyung rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why you’re not acknowledging it when you benefit so much from it. You whine and act all cutesy to get what you want, and it works unfailingly. It’s a good system, Chim.”

“Of course it works,” Jimin stated, still sipping incessantly at his water. “I’m naturally cute.”

“I like your outfit, by the way,” Taehyung cooed, reaching forward to finger the sleeve of Jimin’s pastel yellow blouse. “It’s very much spring season, but I feel like you pull it off anyway.”

“Call me a fashion icon,” Jimin shrugged.

Taehyung hummed. “How does Yoongi feel about the blonde hair?”

Jimin glanced at the alpha and arched a brow in question.

Yoongi paused, tongue-tied. “I like it,” he said simply.

“I keep telling him to go back to black,” Taehyung said. “It gives him a more innocent look.”

“How? Yellow is the softest color,” Jimin retorted.

“I’d argue that pink is.”

Jimin puffed out his cheeks. “I don’t wanna go back to my natural hair yet, though. Maybe when I’m old and trying to take care of four energetic kids.”

Taehyung snorted. “What’s your definition of old?”

Jimin furrowed his brows. “I don’t know, thirty?”

“You’re gonna have four kids by the time you’re thirty?”

“When else would I have them?”

“People have kids after thirty.”

“Sure, but I want to be alive to also see my grandkids grow up.”

“I guess you gotta convince Yoongi to get to it soon, then,” Taehyung snorted.

Jimin glanced over, suddenly struck by Yoongi’s silence. Yoongi seemed a little awestruck. “Are you okay?” Jimin ventured.

“Did he scare you?” Taehyung teased.

“No, that’s just… you’re really thinking in the long-term.”

“What, you don’t like to think about growing old?” Jimin asked.

“I don’t really take the time to,” Yoongi confessed. Their gazes met and lingered, Jimin’s expression softening. He reached up to brush his fingers through Yoongi’s blonde fringe. “Although, now that I’m considering it, I guess I wouldn’t mind growing old with you.”

Jimin may have been able to withhold his blush, if not for Taehyung’s dramatic “aww.”

Jimin quickly turned away. “Shut up,” he hissed at the omega, cheeks aflame.

Jimin was happy for the reprieve of the waiter when he arrived to finally take their orders. Yoongi made the same offer to Taehyung as he had to Jimin—order whatever, he was paying. Taehyung, however, was much too happy to take advantage of the given opportunity.

As they continued to chat, Jimin left the conversation to Yoongi and Taehyung, hoping they could connect on some level. At least they didn’t hate each other, he reasoned. To occupy himself, though, he emptied his first glass of water. Before he could get ahold of the waiter, Yoongi simply slid his own half-full cup in front of Jimin. He barely even spared the omega a glance, attention primarily focused on Taehyung’s description of his first art show.

Jimin had to pause, struck by the unconsciously caring action. Sure, he had been doted upon by his friends before, but the simplicity and lack of thought behind Yoongi’s quick reaction was very new. There was a small, very omega, part of Jimin that was overwhelmingly satisfied to know he was being provided for.

When Yoongi casually reach over and threaded his fingers into the soft hairs at the back of Jimin’s neck, Jimin allowed himself to ease into the touch. Taehyung’s gaze caught on the interaction, and much to Jimin’s relief, he offered a gentle and approving smile.

Jimin dropped his backpack by the door and stretched out his arms, as he always did. “I’m home!” He shouted. Despite spending an extra couple hours at the dance studio with Hoseok, Jimin expected Yoongi to still be holed up in his office.

“In the kitchen,” Yoongi called in return.

Jimin perked up and wandered around the corner, finding Yoongi in front of the stove. The scent of grilled meat finally hit him, and Jimin’s mouth watered.

“I figured we could have a date night in,” Yoongi said, glancing up to shoot Jimin a smile. “Why don’t you get changed into sweats or something? This’ll be done soon.”

“God, I’m so hungry,” Jimin groaned, stepping forward to peer over Yoongi’s shoulder. “Thank you. I could kiss you right now.” The tension that strung the following silence was only intensified by Jimin’s awareness of his chest brushing up against Yoongi’s shoulder.

Certain intimacies were common for them now; they would occasionally hold hands, play with each others’ hair, press chaste kisses to their cheeks. However, it never verged on the side of sexual. They hadn’t properly kissed yet, despite being together for about a month now, and it was entirely due to Jimin’s lingering apprehension—and Yoongi’s respect for said apprehension. That expectation for the moment to eventually happen was beginning to cause extra tension, though.

Jimin cleared his throat and stepped back. “Yeah, I’ll go change. Dinner looks good, hyung.”

Yoongi gave a short nod, returning to his task at hand. He was always so hesitant to push the subject, to even venture into a realm that might cause Jimin true discomfort. Jimin appreciated it, truly, but he didn’t quite know how to handle all the responsibility of initiation himself.

Jimin drifted toward their bedroom and stepped out of his workout leggings. The room was swathed in Jimin’s scent, his belongings spread out over time. He had transferred most of his clothes to Yoongi’s apartment by now. Give more time, his own apartment might be left bare. Jimin’s lease was up in a few weeks, and he seriously debated whether it’d be worth renewing. While he wanted a place of his own to escape to, he was admittedly plenty comfortable here.

Jimin tugged on some thin sweats and a loose shirt, collar sliding off one shoulder—Yoongi had a habit of teasing Jimin over his often bare shoulders. Jimin had already washed himself up somewhat at the studio, so he deemed himself fine and wandered back to the main living area, tiredly rubbing his eyes.

Yoongi placed their plates on the countertop where they typically ate. Yoongi technically had a small dining table, but they chose to ignore its presence. Jimin hummed as he shoveled food in his mouth, Yoongi merely observing him with bemusement. Jimin glanced up, cheeks stuffed and noodles hanging out of his mouth. Jimin blinked at Yoongi, then quickly slurped them up, ears red.

“Don’t watch me,” he muttered.

“Sorry. You’re very entertaining,” Yoongi murmured, finally digging into his own meal.

“’M just hungry,” Jimin grumbled, squinting as his noodles continually slipped between his chopsticks. He sighed and picked up a chunk of meat instead.

“You were gone for a while. Your muscles burning yet?”

Jimin hummed. “My thighs especially. Hyung made me go through this routine—god, I don’t even know how to describe it. But it was intense. A lot of crouching, I guess. So, my core hurts, too.”

“I’m proud of you for pushing through.”

Jimin snorted. “That better not be your response when I’m pregnant and everything hurts.”

Yoongi stilled.

Jimin gaped, searching for a shift in topic. “I mean, well…” He winced at his high-pitched tone. “How was work today?”

“Fine. Added some little revisions to another producer’s track. I’ll send it back to her tomorrow,” Yoongi said simply. There was a lapse of quiet. “You know I wouldn’t be a blasé asshole when you’re pregnant and suffering. I’m here to take care of you, right?”

“You don’t always need to—”

“But I want to,” Yoongi insisted, voice gentle.

Jimin pushed his food around his plate and bit the inside of his cheek. “I know,” he mumbled.

Yoongi set his chopsticks down. “I picked a movie for us to watch tonight,” he said, drawing the conversation away, surely to ease Jimin’s mood. “Do you wanna know what I picked?”

“Not with that cheeky tone,” Jimin grumbled, looking up at him through narrowed eyes.

“It’s an indie horror film,” Yoongi grinned.

Jimin’s shoulders slumped. “No,” he whined. “I don’t wanna.”

“It’s my week to pick, Min. You got to have your say last week. These are the rules we agreed upon.”

“But you don’t even like horror,” Jimin argued, puffing out his cheeks.

Yoongi poked his cheek. “I don’t like horror unless it’s made well,” he corrected. “And I’ve heard good reviews for this one.”

“I’m just gonna hide under a blanket the whole time,” Jimin grumbled.

“I think that still counts as spending quality time together, so go ahead,” Yoongi shrugged. He observed Jimin’s pout, inciting a roll of his eyes. Yoongi reached over and tapped the tip of Jimin’s nose. “Eat, crybaby.”

Jimin dramatically shoved a big strip of meat into his mouth, meeting Yoongi’s eyes as he chewed. He arched a stubborn brow.

“Forget ‘crybaby,’” Yoongi muttered to himself. “I should just be calling you what you are—a brat.”

“Oh, like you’re not into it,” Jimin retorted.

“Do you want me to be?” Yoongi asked smoothly, barely missing a beat.

Jimin spluttered. He quickly turned back to his plate, refusing to meet Yoongi’s teasing smirk. “No response,” he mumbled.

Yoongi pulled back and left Jimin be, satisfied enough to know the omega was basking in embarrassment. Yoongi was developing quite the knack for flustering Jimin, and he enjoyed it much too greatly.

When they finished, Yoongi tried to shoo Jimin toward the couch while he did the dishes, yet Jimin protested. He snatched the dirty plates from Yoongi’s grasp and rounded the counter. “You cooked, so I clean. It’s about equality and balance, hyung.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “It was just a polite gesture.”

Jimin merely waved him away in turn, hiding a smile when Yoongi begrudgingly turned around to settle in and set up the movie.

Jimin finished the dishes rather quickly, leaving Yoongi’s cooking pans in the sink to soak. He padded toward the living room, spotting a folded blanket already awaiting him at Yoongi’s side. Jimin plopped down and spread out the blanket over his lap, curling his legs beneath himself. He unconsciously leaned into Yoongi’s side, resting his head on the alpha’s shoulder.

A few pre-movie advertisements played, and Jimin passed the time twirling a loose thread between his fingers. Then the screen went black, and Jimin felt a familiar sense of dread creeping up his chest. He had always been the first to hide away from scary scenes amongst his group of friends growing up. He wailed every time they selected horror flicks for sleepovers. Jimin would much rather play board games while a mindless romcom played in the background.

This time, Jimin only made it through the opening credits accompanied by stereotypically creepy music before he threw the blanket off his lap, shot up, and pressed pause. “Nope,” he announced, setting a path for the kitchen.

Yoongi chuckled behind him. “What are you doing?”

Jimin opened the refrigerator, yellow line casting a hazy glow throughout the expanse of the room. He pulled out two beers and slammed the fridge door, popped the caps, then padded back to the couch.

“I am not sitting through this without something alcoholic in my system,” he firmly stated, handing one of the bottles to Yoongi. Jimin shot back his first drink, then settled into the cushions with a gaze narrowed onto the frozen screen. “Okay, go.”

Yoongi snorted and pressed play, distracted by Jimin’s careful sips and expression of suspicion. “Do you spook easily?”

“I don’t like jump-scares,” Jimin grumbled. He didn’t protest when Yoongi slung an arm around his shoulders; he knew there was no denying his cowardice and need for comfort in this situation.

Every time the music swelled as the movie played on, Jimin inched closer to Yoongi’s side, despite already being plastered to the alpha’s body. Jimin soon found his beer to be empty and clutched it tighter with a frown, attention caught by the close-up shot of a swinging, flickering hall light. Jimin nearly threw his bottle when something tall, dark, and lanky suddenly peeked out of a creaking doorway.

“Fuck,” Jimin hissed. He set his empty bottle down and snatched Yoongi’s half-full drink right out of his hand. Jimin shot back a big gulp and squinted at the wary expression of the movie’s protagonist. The little girl’s lips parted in shock before a gangly hand reached across the screen, nails barely scraping the rigid girl’s cheek. “Fuck,” Jimin repeated, voice sinking into a whine.

Yoongi snickered at his terror, and Jimin thought he had all the right to slap Yoongi, yet he refrained.

When Jimin emptied the second bottle, he set it next to the first with a shaky hand. He promptly curled himself around Yoongi’s arm after, pressing half his face against the alpha’s bicep. Jimin was satisfied with the obstructed view, especially when silence fell upon the film’s landscape.

Only minutes passed before Jimin was nuzzled into Yoongi entirely, facing well away from the screen. He still jumped at sudden noises, but he figured out how to hone in on Yoongi’s scent rather than the loud movie across from them.

Jimin took deep and steadying breaths, letting Yoongi’s scent ease his body despite the thumping of his heart. Yoongi seemed too distracted by the film to pay Jimin much attention, at least until Jimin noticably flinched. Yoongi’s scent spiked, and suddenly Jimin was breathing in the alpha’s pheromones.

Jimin felt his body going nearly numb, as if he was forcefully falling asleep—it was a very intense form of relaxation. Jimin curled his fingers into the fabric of Yoongi’s shirt, clutching and unclutching as his weariness intensified.

“Ah, they got a new exorcist,” Yoongi narrated, gravelly voice overtaking the frantic dialogue from the television. “They think the necklace is cursed. Mm, I don’t know if holy water is gonna help all that much now.”

Yoongi’s hand found Jimin’s thigh, palm splayed over the tensed muscles. Yoongi slowly rubbed down, perhaps absently or perhaps soothingly, squeezing just above Jimin’s knee. He trailed back up, and when his fingers brushed against the juncture of Jimin’s hip, the omega shuddered.

Yoongi paused in his ministrations, touch lingering almost curiously. His pheromones had eased up, leaving Jimin at least somewhat conscious.

There was a shriek in the movie, but neither of them were paying much attention now.

Yoongi added pressure to his touch, inciting some strange sparks along that sensitive expanse of skin. Jimin sucked in a sharp breath; maybe he should push Yoongi away. Yoongi’s thumb moved along his hip bone, and Jimin’s mind went blank. That didn’t feel bad.

Jimin wondered if Yoongi could smell how the omega’s body was responding to his touch, easing him into more. Jimin’s fingers uncurled from Yoongi’s shirt, and he pulled his face away from his bicep just an inch.

Glass shattered on-screen.

Jimin licked his lips, then looked up, catching Yoongi’s gaze from under his lashes. Jimin thought about how easy it would be to lean up. In reality, there wasn’t that much distance between them. Yet, there were still so many barriers.

“I can stop,” Yoongi murmured.

Jimin inhaled slowly, lips parting. He should agree. “You don’t have to.”

There was a string of silence in the film, a small creak of floorboards, and heavy breathing in anticipation of something—a monster lurking, a change awaiting them.

Jimin’s hooded eyes flickered from the slope of Yoongi’s nose to the blue light of the television casting dark hues on his lips. This was far from the first time Jimin had thought Yoongi pretty, surely far from the last.

Jimin’s hand brushed against Yoongi’s, somewhat unconsciously. He wrapped his short fingers around Yoongi’s thumb, almost like an anchor as his body drifted forward, following its gravitational pull.

Yoongi inhaled, seemingly enraptured by that same thematic anticipation.

Jimin was too close before he could think twice. His lashes fluttered closed, his nose brushed against Yoongi’s in a feather-light contact, and they fell into place.

It was barely a kiss. Jimin was too tentative, Yoongi too considerate to push onward himself. Jimin’s lips were just the slightest bit puckered. He felt a flush high along his cheeks, then he pressed in again.

When Yoongi didn’t respond, there was a spike of panic in Jimin’s chest; he wondered if he had somehow read the signals wrong. He pulled back, an apology on his tongue, until Yoongi leaned forward to chase after him.

The third kiss was firmer than the others, and it soon turned to the fourth and fifth. Yoongi’s palm slid up the remaining inch to grasp Jimin’s hip, holding him close as their breath became one.

This wasn’t Jimin’s first encounter with kissing, but he felt like a fumbling teen all over again. He clutched at Yoongi’s shoulder and held on for dear life, limbs so very weak, stuttered breaths passing between briefly parted lips. Jimin’s body tingled, heat spreading through each of his arteries as if he was buzzing with satisfaction.

Jimin loathed to admit it, but with the way they moved against each other, he couldn’t deny the creeping thought that he was truly made to be with Yoongi. When Jimin shifted, Yoongi followed, touch always right where Jimin wanted it. His lips glided across Jimin’s without effort, as if they were falling into a practiced rhythm. Before Jimin even realized he was leaning backwards, Yoongi’s hand was at his back, helping to lower the omega down onto the cushions.

Jimin circled his arms around Yoongi’s shoulders, and Yoongi settled between Jimin’s spread legs. When Yoongi pressed his tongue along the seam of Jimin’s lips, the omega gasped and caged Yoongi’s hips between his thighs. Lips now parted, Yoongi wasted no time brushing his tongue along Jimin’s, a rumble in throat when he felt the omega twitch beneath him.

Jimin hadn’t considered himself so sensitive, but every new sensation incited a whole wave of reactions. He felt like he was losing control of his body—his heart, lungs, and flushed skin simply falling apart at the seams.

Yoongi cupped Jimin’s pink cheek and smoothed his thumb along his soft, warm skin. Jimin preened under the gentle care, movements slowing as he sucked on Yoongi’s upper lip. When Yoongi squeezed his waist, Jimin arched up and opened his mouth in a stuttered and startled moan.

Such a simple touch shouldn’t feel this good; perhaps Jimin had underestimated the impact of their fated bond.

Jimin couldn’t deny that Yoongi’s tongue did marvelous things against his own, and Jimin dug his fingers into the taut muscles of Yoongi’s back to anchor himself. He whimpered, thighs tightening around Yoongi’s hips. Jimin’s abdomen clenched with heat, and there was a new fog behind his eyes.

Yoongi pulled back, and Jimin shivered at the wet pop, much too turned on. Yoongi hovered above him, their labored breathing in sync, Yoongi’s nose brushing against Jimin’s. Yoongi offered a chaste kiss, Jimin’s lips red and swollen from misuse.

“Hyung,” Jimin breathed, eyes shut tight, huffing out short puffs of hair. He wasn’t sure if he was asking for anything, and perhaps Yoongi understood Jimin’s intentions better than the omega even did.

Yoongi nuzzled down into Jimin’s neck, scenting him as they came down from their high. Jimin slid his hand up into Yoongi’s hair, tangling his fingers in his smooth locks, already a mess from the long day.

“God, you are worth the wait,” Yoongi mumbled, lips against Jimin’s skin.

Jimin relaxed into the cushions beneath him, gaze drifting back to the television. They hadn’t even noticed the movie drawing to an end, typical dark backdrops fading to a burst of orange sunrise as the credits neared.

Jimin traced a fingertip along the fogged glass as he sat cross-legged in front of the long living room window. The expanse of sky beyond the apartment was white as far as he could see. Yellow lights glowed against the fog that had descended upon the winter-shrouded city.

“Jimin-ah?” Yoongi called.

“Shh,” Jimin uttered, staying still as Yoongi approached from behind. “It’s snowing.”

Yoongi blinked and glanced out in surprise. Then he chuckled. “My voice isn’t going to disturb the snow, baby.”

Jimin absently waved him off, gaze glued to the fluttering snowflakes just past the glass. The flakes were rather big, floating through the breeze at a lazy pace, sticking to the sidewalks below. “I think we’re supposed to get a few inches today,” Jimin mumbled. He looked up at Yoongi, suddenly wide-eyed. “Is the fridge stocked?”

Yoongi snorted and reach down to pat Jimin’s head. “Yes. I don’t know why that’d be your first worry.”

Jimin puffed out his cheeks. “It can be hard getting groceries when the snow’s too deep,” he said petulantly.

“I’m grateful for your concern,” Yoongi replied. Jimin continued to pout, yet he returned his attention to the window. “You’re too cute.”

Jimin ignored both Yoongi and the flush along his neck.

Yoongi sighed and carefully lowered himself to the hardwood beside Jimin. He crossed his legs, knee touching Jimin’s, and stared at the cityscape beyond. “Do you like the cold weather?” He asked quietly, attempting to return to Jimin’s preferred state of calm.

“Mm,” Jimin hummed. “I like the first snow especially. I mean, summers in Busan were fun growing up—playing on the beaches, riding our bikes to convenience stores for popsicles. But winter was better. I… liked staying inside under some blankets. I guess that’s very omega of me.”

Yoongi smiled with all the warmth he could muster, and Jimin ducked his head, unable to keep his gaze too long. “Cuddling’s always better than splashing around in the ocean,” Yoongi agreed.

Yoongi placed a hand on Jimin’s knee, tentative at first, as if Jimin might simply shove it off. Jimin merely picked at a loose thread in his fuzzy sock, making occasional glances up at the increasingly heavy snow storm.

“You haven’t really talked about your childhood or family, y’know,” Yoongi said.

Jimin took an even breath. “Yeah,” he exhaled. “There’s not much to be said for my family now.”

“Is it hard to talk about?”

Jimin shrugged. “I’m not really in contact with anyone. My mother’s parents paid for student housing during my first two years in college, then after that… I don’t know, I guess their guilt dried up, and they left me be.”

“Guilt?” Yoongi echoed.

Jimin pursed his lips; he knew they would need to have this conversation someday. “My mom died when I was six,” he said slowly. “She was pregnant, there were complications, and it was a whole big mess that I don’t remember all that clearly. But it left me as her parents’ only grandchild, so they seemed to feel an obligation to help me. Well, I wasn’t close with them, so the extent of their help was direct deposits to my bank account.”

Yoongi was looking at him; Jimin could feel his gaze like heated prickles along his cheek and neck. Jimin pulled his lower lip between his teeth, apprehensive. “That’s a lot. Sorry. Should I start from the beginning?”

“You’re fine,” Yoongi murmured. “And yeah, if you’re okay with going into it.”

Jimin huffed out a dry laugh. “I mean, we’re supposed to be spending the rest of forever together, right? You ought to know where I come from.”

Jimin tugged at the thread, watched it unravel much too easily. He tucked the string into the sock’s hem, then cleared his throat.

“My parents were apparently a really good fit,” Jimin began, tilting his head, hooded eyes fixated on a blinking plane amidst the shroud of white clouds. “They grew up together, same neighborhood and schools. My mom presented, nothing happened. Then my dad presented, and they felt the connection. They mated, blah blah, you know. My mom had to move in with my dad for the last couple years of high school, and then their lives began after that.

“My mom dropped out of college after her first year, because she suddenly had a baby to take care of.” He pointed at himself for unnecessary emphasis. “Of course, I don’t remember being a baby and a toddler, but we looked happy in all the pictures. The few years I do remember of her were nice. She stayed at home to take care of me, so I hear we were close.

“We’d go on little family trips, eat dinner together every night, and both my parents would tuck me in at bedtime. Then she got pregnant again, and everything was supposed to be fine. It had been fine the first time around. Eight months in, though, and things were not… fine.” Jimin rubbed the back of his neck. He always felt awkward about this, as if it wasn’t his tale to tell. “My grandparents said it happened too fast. I guess there was a problem they didn’t detect early enough. Or maybe it was the baby, or—” Jimin stopped, licked his lips. “Who knows; it doesn’t really matter.

“Then it was just me and my dad. I don’t know how great he was before it all, but after my mom was gone, he just… stopped being a good person,” Jimin said, voice tapering off. “I grew up thinking that’s just how alphas were—full of rage that they had to take out on whoever was closest. Maybe he was sad, o-or lonely or—” Jimin shrugged. “Frustrated? I’m not sure I care anymore. But it didn’t make home any fun.”

He felt Yoongi’s hold on his knee tighten.

“He made it easy for me to leave, though. I got my high school diploma and jumped ship the same week. I think I’ve done alright for myself. But it is weird hearing from people who’ve got entire families, two parents and siblings and the whole deal. Maybe I would’ve wanted that more if that’s what my family looked like,” Jimin said quietly.

“You don’t… you know I would never treat you like that, right?” Yoongi asked tentatively. “I wouldn’t lash out at you or hurt you in any way.”

“Yeah,” Jimin said slowly. “But you understand why I’ve gotta be cautious?”

“Of course,” Yoongi sighed. “I’m heartbroken that’s what you had to live with.”

“I’m not saying that’s the main reason why I’m opposed to the whole mating thing, but I also have to wonder how much of my dad’s behavior came from being left without a mate. You have this person who’s so integral to you, that y-you can’t function without them. You just… just become a different person, I guess,” Jimin said, voice hitching. “How crazy is it that all that’s forced on us?”

“But it’s up to us to deal with it in our own way, to be responsible for how we react,” Yoongi replied, treading carefully. “It’s like how alphas try to excuse their forceful behavior toward omega mates—they’ve felt something strong, but they should have the self-control, and the respect for the other person, to make their own decisions.”

Jimin finally glanced up at Yoongi, hiding a bit behind his fringe. “Was it hard for you that first night?” Jimin whispered.

“God,” Yoongi breathed. “I can’t even describe it. Well, you heard how desperate I was when I got out of the venue and couldn’t find you. Then I stepped around the corner, and there you were, and it took everything in me to not just fuckin’ hug you.”

A smile curled at the corner of Jimin’s lips. “A hug? That’s all?”

“Jimin, I’ve been waiting for my mate since I was a kid. A hug would’ve been more than enough for me on the first encounter,” Yoongi replied. He heaved an exhale. “But you were so scared, so I held myself back. Y’know, like a responsible, logical person.”

Jimin placed his hand over Yoongi’s. “I would have kicked your ass and hated you forever if you tried to touch me in that state,” Jimin said earnestly.

Yoongi cracked a smile. “And rightfully so.”

“Were you frustrated?” Jimin asked after a moment, pulling on a neutral expression.

“By what, your distance and cold shoulder?”

Jimin exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I mean, most people just jump into it. I’m not saying people should have that expectation for their mate, but… I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.”

“I was a little surprised,” Yoongi admitted. “But not frustrated. I feel like if anyone’s worth the wait and effort, it’s your mate. And that is not a relationship you want to fuck up so early. Betraying your trust instead of earning it,” he paused, brows pinched, “Even I’d be disappointed in myself over that.”

“I wonder,” Jimin began tentatively, drifting off in his line of thought, “How easy it is to fall out of love with someone you’re meant to be with. Especially if they are selfish and irresponsible, and they end up hurting you.”

“It must be easier than we’d imagine,” Yoongi said.

Jimin met his gaze, brow arching in surprise. “You think true mates aren’t all they seem?”

Yoongi shrugged. “I mean, I see these mated couples, barely talking to each other as they’re out together, no sign of affection or interest toward each other. I don’t doubt they’re compatible, but I think the passion, and even some of the love can just fade. Although I can’t imagine how, it must happen.”

“People grow tired of each other,” Jimin said simply. “Like how you get annoyed when I leave dishes in the sink.”

Yoongi shook his head, a quirk to his lips. “Not the same, Jimin. Your messy little habits have yet to make me love you any less.”

Jimin blinked, any response he may have conjured dying on his tongue. It took him a couple seconds to fully process Yoongi’s casual confession. “You love me?” Jimin asked, tone hushed and gaze owlish.

Yoongi mirrored his surprise. “Yeah. Have I not… told you?”

“No,” Jimin hissed, blush heating his cheeks and rushing through his veins. He reached out to lightly shove at Yoongi. “W-when, how?”

Yoongi bent forward and snickered, expression full of mirth and disbelief. “Park Jimin, I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you smile.”

Jimin gawked and curled into himself further. “You can’t say that so boldly,” he muttered, wrapping his arms around his legs and hiding behind his knees.

“Sorry,” Yoongi said quietly, levelling him with too much fondness for Jimin to bear.

“I can’t say it back yet,” Jimin whispered, cautious, keeping his eyes on the swirl of heavy snowfall.

“That’s okay,” Yoongi replied, as if the matter was truly that simple.

“Are you sure?” Jimin prodded. “Even if it takes me fifteen years?”

“Fifteen years?” Yoongi echoed. He exhaled, breath hitching in a chuckle. He carefully pushed himself to his feet, brushing off his pants as he looked down at Jimin. “Good thing I’m in this for the long haul.”

He patted Jimin’s head, then turned on his heel to leave.

Jimin’s heart beat just a bit faster.

Jimin was more of a homebody now than he had been in his earlier years of college. When Yoongi asked if Jimin wanted to come to his next show, however, there was no way he could refuse.

Jimin treated it like a date, taking over an hour to get dressed up for the rather casual evening. He wore his tight leather pants, both to his and Yoongi’s satisfaction, and a thin white button-up. His bare neck drew attention to his glimmering, dangling earrings, and Jimin thought he looked too good to mind when Yoongi chastised him for wearing so few layers.

Of course, on the walk to the venue, Jimin was shivering madly, and Yoongi placed his coat over Jimin’s shoulders with mild exasperation. When Jimin pouted up at him, Yoongi rolled his eyes.

“You would have frozen your ass off.”

“But I look hot.”

“You can look hot inside,” Yoongi argued, patting Jimin’s bum as they crossed the street.

Jimin squeaked and walked a few steps ahead, shooting a petulant glare back at his companion. He still hugged Yoongi’s coat tighter around himself, nevertheless.

They met Namjoon in front of the venue. Jimin caught sight of him, then ran across the remainder of the block, colliding with the man in a crushing hug. “Hi, hyung!” Jimin exclaimed, and Namjoon winced at the volume so close to his ear.

“Hi, Jiminie. You look nice,” he said, pushing Jimin back some inches to take him in. “How’ve you been doing?”

“Pretty good,” Jimin shrugged. “Midterms were a pain in the ass, but I’m still passing all my classes.”

“I’m proud of you,” Namjoon chuckled, ruffling Jimin’s hair, styled in bouncy curls.

“Jimin’s barely wearing anything,” Yoongi stated as he approached. “Let’s get inside.”

“It’s loud in there,” Namjoon warned.

“Isn’t it always?” Yoongi sighed, pulling open the door for them to pass through.

The room was an open design, bar area to the left, stage at the back, and space for the mingling crowd just about everywhere else. The three of them drifted toward the bar, Yoongi’s hand at Jimin’s back to guide him.

There was some heavy bass thumping throughout the room, pretty omegas swaying around with drinks in hand. A few huddled groups glanced their way, sharing shouted whispers and muffled giggles.

“Am I up first?” Yoongi asked.

“Second,” Namjoon replied, raising his voice and leaning in. “I’d head back, anyway. The set’s gonna start soon.”

Yoongi nodded, touch sliding away from Jimin. Jimin’s skin felt cold at the loss. Yoongi quickly kissed his cheek. “See you soon,” he promised. Jimin nodded, and Yoongi gave him a pointed look. “Don’t get into too much trouble.”

“Not with Joon-hyung hanging over my shoulder,” Jimin promised, offering a teasing wink before he waved Yoongi off.

Namjoon walked Jimin farther back, set on buying them drinks as they waited. Namjoon wasn’t wrong about the first guy starting so soon—barely a minute passed, and the background music was cut off, transitioning into the opening notes for the performer’s own song.

Jimin and Namjoon hung back from the crowd, huddled together as they leaned against the bar-top, orders already placed. Namjoon fiddled with the sleeve of Yoongi’s coat hanging past Jimin’s wrist, watching Jimin observe the new environment. Perhaps Jimin looked as skittish as he felt—he was much less at ease without Yoongi right beside him.

“I’m surprised you’re not at home, drinking wine and playing card games with Tae,” Namjoon said, pressing in closer to be heard above the quick flow of the rapper.

Jimin shrugged and perked up when their drinks were handed to them. He picked up his drink, ice clacking against the glass. Jimin took a sip. “Tae can’t get drunk with me right now. And I figured I should come out and support my mate.”

Namjoon ran his fingertip along the rim of his cup and arched a brow. “You’re technically not mated.”

Jimin sighed in exasperation, then made a furtive glance toward the buzzing crowd. “I ventured out of the safety of home to support my Yoongi,” he corrected. “Satisfied?”

A grin spread along Namjoon’s lips. He took a long drink. “Very. Thank you.”

They turned toward the stage and watched the show, Namjoon whispering little critiques about the rapper’s style or lyricism in Jimin’s ear. Jimin found himself snickering throughout, trying to hide his grin behind a palm.

When the first act was coming to a close, they set down their empty glasses and drifted through the crowd, many people dispersing to go buy more drinks of their own. They made it up to the guardrail, settling in to wait for Yoongi to come out next.

“Are you performing tonight?” Jimin asked.

“At the very end,” Namjoon replied. “Just a short couple songs. Yoongi’s the big deal tonight.”

“Is he?” Jimin asked. “A big deal, I mean.”

Namjoon shrugged. “In this realm, yeah. He’s got a lot of admirers.”

“What kind of admirers?” Jimin asked tentatively.

“I think you already have some idea.”

Jimin pursed his lips. He hated to admit it, but he couldn’t blame said admirers. One of his initial thoughts when faced with Yoongi was how attractive the man was. If it wasn’t for the whole true mates things, Jimin would have been all over that, if only for a night.

The lights dimmed again, and Jimin scooted in close to Namjoon, apprehensive around so many foreign scents and bodies. He didn’t quite like how many alphas were eying him up, and Namjoon ought to offer at least some kind of protection.

Jimin’s worries faded when Yoongi was up, however. It was nearly a sense of déjà vu, how Jimin’s attention focused in on the alpha, his breath catching. When Jimin caught his scent, though, there was no panic—only a small voice in the back of Jimin’s head stating “mine.”

Yoongi’s eyes met Jimin’s, and the whole world disappeared. The first song started up, and it took Jimin a little while to catch onto the lyrics. Yoongi was practically serenading him with a quick tongue.

He walked across the stage like he owned it, gait easy and eyes narrowed.

There was one line that stuck out most to Jimin; “Your lips taste like home.” Jimin heard it, and he swore his heart skipped a beat. He flushed red along his neck, hand curling along the guardrail as Yoongi walked toward him.

Yoongi bent down right in front of him, and the omega suddenly felt too many eyes on his back, curious and calculating. But Yoongi gave him a small smile, and it was only them once again. The alpha finished his verse, then during a swell of instrumentals, he reached forward and tucked a lock of golden hair behind Jimin’s ear.

Every other piece of Yoongi’s enthralling performance after that paled in comparison.

Jimin couldn’t get to Yoongi quick enough once it was over. He pushed through the crowd, Namjoon long lost behind him, and rushed to engulf his mate in a hug. He felt Yoongi’s shoulders shake with a chuckle, his hold tight and secure around Jimin.

They stumbled away from the performance area in a giggly daze. “You’re so good, hyung,” Jimin gushed, curled around Yoongi’s arm and eyes starry with delight. “Your voice is so fucking hot. And you’re so poetic and smart; it’s not fair.”

Yoongi shushed him with a quick, yet deep kiss. Jimin’s lashes fluttered closed, and he clutched at Yoongi harder. His limbs felt weak. When Yoongi pulled away, he brushed his nose against Jimin’s. “I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he said, voice rough with use.

Jimin felt all sorts of giddy, eager to drink more and curl up with Yoongi in some far corner of the room. And they did just that.

Jimin got touchier with more alcohol in his system, running his hands along Yoongi’s chest, tugging him close by his waist. Jimin knew people were watching them, and he almost wanted them to. There was this strange possessive instinct rearing its head within him, urging Jimin to only snuggle closer, kiss Yoongi harder.

Time passed, Namjoon left to prepare for his act, and Jimin found his back pressed against a wall. His fingers were tangled in Yoongi’s hair, lips parting only briefly to catch their breath. Jimin might have looked a mess, shirt askew and hair ruffled, but god did he like how Yoongi’s long fingers were clutching at his bare waist.

Jimin practically moaned into Yoongi’s mouth, lips red and worn. He titled his head to kiss the alpha deeper, movements languid as if the night simply couldn’t end. He grasped the nape of Yoongi’s neck as the alpha moved down, mouthing along Jimin’s throat, tasting the omega’s pulse.

Jimin hugged him closer to his chest, hazy gaze skirting along the flickering lights and swaying crowd. He gasped as he felt Yoongi’s tongue under his jaw, adding pressure as he sucked a mark into Jimin’s unblemished skin. Jimin hummed when Yoongi trailed down and licked over his collarbone.

Jimin’s attention caught on some commotion toward the back of the crowd. Namjoon was just getting on stage, a distraction for the rest of the venue’s occupants. But Jimin couldn’t push away the bad feeling settling in his gut when he saw a man moving in too close to a small woman, the lack of distance suffocating.

Jimin saw him snatch her wrist, and the woman struggled, trying to yank her arm away to no avail. She looked around in distress, but her spiked scent must have been lost amongst the hectic mass of bodies.

“Yoon,” Jimin said hoarsely. He tapped urgently at Yoongi’s shoulder, and the alpha let up. He pulled away with a question on his tongue, but Jimin was already rushing forward, totally disregarding his haphazard state.

Jimin pushed through a couple groups of people, nearing the struggling couple. He could finally scent the omega’s distress at this distance, and he forced himself between them, facing the alpha man with a snarl.

The alpha startled back a step in shock. When he realized Jimin’s rank, however, he retaliated with a low growl of his own.

“Leave her alone,” Jimin snapped, ignoring the prickle along his skin warning him of a very potential threat. “She’s obviously not interested.”

The girl hid behind Jimin, hand clutching his shoulder.

“Move,” the alpha stated.

Jimin bristled, preparing for a fight. Then Yoongi reached them, shoving the alpha back another step. The alpha gawked at Yoongi, brows drawn in irritation.

“You heard him,” Yoongi said carefully, clearly. “Back off.”

“This isn’t your business,” the alpha retorted, seemingly perplexed by Yoongi’s support toward the omegas.

Alphas took what they desired, omegas were complacent—that was the expectation. But if Jimin had taught Yoongi anything, omegas were more than their rank and the obligations placed heavy on their shoulders.

“Do the considerate thing and save yourself more trouble,” Yoongi replied. “Leave.”

The alpha looked over them with anger and growing defeat. He scoffed, trying to salvage some remainder of his pride, then stalked off. As soon as he was gone, moving toward the side exit, Jimin turned around to fret over the omega girl.

“Are you alright?” He asked, gently lifting her wrist to assess the damage.

She nodded and wiped at the tears streaking her cheeks. “I’m just shaken up, but I’m okay.”

“It might bruise,” Jimin sighed, observing the blotchy skin.

“That’s better than what could have happened,” she insisted.

“Do you need us to take you home? I don’t want him to come after you later.”

“No, no. It’s okay; my friends are here somewhere, and they’ll get me home,” she replied, offering Jimin a weak and watery smile. “Thank you, though. I was really scared for a minute.”

“Of course,” Jimin replied, releasing her wrist and watching her leave.

Jimin felt Yoongi’s hand along his shoulder, drawing him near. Jimin leaned into his touch, exhaling heavily. “Thanks,” he said.

Yoongi simply squeezed his shoulder in quiet support.

As much as that encounter had dampened Jimin’s mood, he was grateful for the good alphas in his life—Yoongi more than anyone.

 

There was no discussion when Jimin’s lease was up. Jimin told Yoongi he’d need to clear his stuff out within the next few days, and Yoongi rearranged his schedule to help him move.

They spent one day packing—Jimin felt much less somber about the ordeal than he had expected—then another transporting the omega’s few belongings to Yoongi’s apartment.

Jimin didn’t dwell on the satisfied feeling deep in his gut that accompanied the moving-in process. He simply set about the task as he always did, reorganizing what was already there to make space for the few items that had not made the transition previously. As Jimin’s entire wardrobe was already in the apartment, most of the rearranging had to do with his collection of blankets and quirky mugs.

“You really don’t have much,” Yoongi noted as he folded up the last box.

“I’ve moved around a lot over the years. It makes me clean up and get rid of stuff pretty often,” Jimin explained. He stretched out his arms, sweatshirt riding up over his torso. The sun was growing hazy as it neared the horizon; they had spent the whole day unpacking.

Jimin yawned and padded across the living room. Yoongi turned to drop the folded cardboard onto the pile by the entryway. Jimin came up behind him and wrapped his arms around the alpha’s waist. He rested his forehead between Yoongi’s shoulder blades. “’M tired now,” he mumbled.

Yoongi placed his hands over Jimin’s, then swayed with him. “Do you want to nap?”

“At five o’clock?” Jimin snickered. “No. Maybe I just need something to keep me going.”

“Food?” Yoongi prompted.

Jimin hummed in thought. “Can we see a movie, too?”

“You know it’s my turn to pick,” Yoongi said, a teasing lilt to his tone.

Jimin poked at Yoongi’s stomach. Yoongi shifted around in his hold, smiling down at Jimin expectantly. Jimin returned his gaze with a pout. “But I wanna pick,” he whined.

Yoongi kissed the tip of his nose. Jimin huffed. “You really think you can get whatever you want, huh?” Yoongi asked, tilting his head to admire Jimin.

“And if I say yes?” Jimin said quietly, meeting his eyes.

“You wouldn’t be wrong,” Yoongi replied. He pressed in, chest against Jimin’s. He brushed his lips over Jimin’s, the omega’s breath catching. “You’ve got a lot of courage.”

“Thanks,” Jimin breathed. “I’ve been working on it.”

Yoongi kissed him lightly, lingering, only continuing to work Jimin up. Jimin clutched at the back of Yoongi’s shirt, grasp tightening. He tried to lean forward to deepen the kiss, but Yoongi only pulled away. Jimin whined rather petulantly.

“C’mon, Min. We’re having a conversation,” Yoongi murmured, all mirth and cocky teasing.

“You didn’t answer me,” Jimin grumbled. “You gonna let me pick the movie?”

“You already know the answer to that,” Yoongi drawled. He pecked Jimin’s lips.

Jimin paused, then rushed forward and kissed him again before Yoongi could react. Yoongi’s breath hitched, and Jimin smirked in victory. “I wanna see the romantic drama, then,” Jimin said cheerily. He rubbed his nose against Yoongi’s. “That okay, hyung?”

“I will get bored, but it’s your pick,” Yoongi relented.

Jimin hummed in delight. “You gonna kiss me again?”

“Whatever you want,” Yoongi mumbled. One gentle peck, the next one longer, the third deep and languid.

Jimin always got what he wanted.

 

Jimin twined his fingers with Yoongi’s and tugged him through the theatre entryway. They passed through the hall, stopping to look at the posters for upcoming films.

“Do you like superhero movies?” Jimin asked, admiring the six-pack of the newest superhuman protagonist.

Yoongi shrugged. “They’re a little overhyped.”

“But they’re cool.”

“I like the meaningful stuff,” Yoongi shrugged.

Jimin snorted. “Of course you do.”

“Don’t tease me.”

“I’m not!” Jimin insisted. He nudged Yoongi’s shoulder. “I just know you.”

Yoongi met his eyes and arched a brow, yet he didn’t dispute. “I’m glad.”

“Would you still see the dumb superhero movies with me, though?”

“And watch you thirst over fictional men?”

  “Yes, but you’d be the one holding my hand,” Jimin replied, smiling at him cheekily.

“I mean, if that incentive’s involved,” Yoongi shrugged.

Jimin giggled at his begrudging expression and tugged him along. “You’re cute.”

They drew eyes as Jimin stumbled down the hall with Yoongi in tow, the omega’s grin too wide and cheeks flushed with excitement. He knew they were checking his neck for a mating mark and coming up short, but he hadn’t the energy to care at that point. Jimin had learned that being officially mated was overrated—he was just as content to be in Yoongi’s company as they were.

“We should go grocery shopping soon,” Jimin noted aloud, tugging open the theatre door. “I know it hasn’t been snowing as much, but I worry about getting suddenly snowed in. And I’m running out of snacks.”

“You mean you’re running out of alcohol,” Yoongi corrected, following behind as they wandered toward the rows of seats.

“Wow, you know me so well,” Jimin sighed.

The back couple rows were mostly occupied, so Jimin picked a couple seats in the middle for them. He sat down with a huff, wiggled around to settle in, then grasped Yoongi’s hand and set it on his thigh. Yoongi patted Jimin’s thigh and splayed his palm out.

Jimin leaned over to whisper throughout the ads, Yoongi smiling over Jimin’s little gasps of intrigue. He continued to smooth his hand over Jimin’s thigh, squeezing every so often, especially when Jimin was making too much noise. Then the film began, and Jimin fell into silence.

The movie told the story of a world where true mates didn’t exist, and every person’s decision was their own. Jimin was starry-eyed over the protagonists’ meet-cute, how they stumbled into each other on a college campus without any whirlwind of hormones or obligation toward mating.

The romantic ordeal made Jimin wonder who he would be with in this kind of world, if he would have met Yoongi under different circumstances, perhaps by introduction through Namjoon. Maybe they would have hit it off, spent an evening together full of flirtatious touches and smiles. Perhaps Jimin would have been quicker to love, quicker to open his arms and his heart to someone who had truly been a good person all along.

But that wasn’t their reality, Jimin reminded himself, glancing over at Yoongi, the alpha relaxed into his seat with a mildly bored expression. Yet, Jimin supposed that this was just fine all the same.

When the film’s conflict was reaching its climax, the omega protagonist had to confront his father about the new relationship. The omega was a chaebol of sorts, and his alpha girlfriend was nowhere near his social class. That proved a problem when it came to the inheritance of the omega’s father’s company.

Jimin clutched the armrest as tension erupted in the dialogue. Quiet simmering grew into snarls and shouts. Jimin unconsciously pressed himself back into his seat, curling into himself as the father and son gravitated closer to each other, rage palpable.

Jimin should have seen where it was going. He supposed, when thinking back on it, that he should have been better prepared. Yet, his body froze and his eyes widened during the buildup, like a rabbit in evening headlights.

Yoongi must have scented his rising distress; he felt the alpha’s hand on his, coaxing and questioning. “Jimin?” He whispered.

The slap rang out across the theatre. The omega on-screen stumbled back, perhaps as shocked as some of the audience members. The film fell silent, emphasizing the sharp ringing in the omega’s head, focusing in on the pain and betrayal of his expression.

Jimin’s lungs seized up as he stared at the red blotch on the character’s cheek and the tears welling in his eyes. Jimin could feel the sting in his own skin, a memory returning to haunt him, carved into him like a scar.

Jimin wasn't entirely conscious when he pushed himself out of his seat onto shaky legs. He uttered a quick and wavering, “sorry,” then rushed down the aisle. Jimin’s vision blurred, breathing erratic; he felt tens of eyes boring into his back before he turned the corner, tunnel-vision set on the glowing exit.

Jimin burst out into the bright hallway, head spinning and chest tight. He needed air. He felt along the wall, trying to escape whatever demon of the past had crawled through his throat and stolen his breath.

He should have known Yoongi would follow after him, would grab Jimin and pull him into his chest before the omega could bump into any passersby. It took Jimin a couple seconds to allow recognition to sink into him, releasing a stuttered whimper when the familiar scent washed over him.

Jimin clutched at the arms around his waist, then bent forward, energy so suddenly sapped from his limbs. Yoongi released an arm to rub at Jimin’s back, shushing him gently as Jimin worked through the ache and panic inside him.

Yoongi nuzzled into Jimin’s neck, working to calm him with a release of pheromones. He kneaded into the tense muscles of Jimin’s back. “It’s okay,” he murmured, lips brushing over Jimin’s skin. “Inhale and exhale, you’re okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin muttered, hanging onto Yoongi like a lifeline. “I didn’t know—”

“No, no apologies,” Yoongi insisted. “Not your fault.”

Jimin shook his head. “Usually I can… can get through that. I don’t know why—” He stopped, took a deep breath.

“It’s okay,” Yoongi repeated. He carefully helped turn Jimin around, then cupped the omega’s flushed cheek. “I understand. Sometimes we get reminded of things we don’t want to remember.”

Jimin blinked through his blurry vision to meet Yoongi’s gentle gaze. He nodded.

“Let’s go home,” Yoongi suggested. “We’ll finish our movie date on the couch. You can pick again.”

Jimin rubbed at his eyes, wiping off the moisture that had gathered in his lash-line. “Alright,” he mumbled, voice hoarse. “Thank you, hyung.”

Yoongi leaned in and kissed Jimin’s cheek, then dropped his arms to grasp Jimin’s hand. Jimin curled into Yoongi’s side as they made the walk out of the theatre and toward the parking lot. Night had fallen, the sky a hazy gray of light pollution. Jimin had his cheek pressed to Yoongi’s bicep, reluctant to let go when they reached the car.

Yoongi coaxed him inside, the omega relieved at the warmth once the engine was started. They buckled in and idled in the parking spot, Jimin sunken down in his seat, one of Yoongi’s hands resting on the clutch.

Jimin pulled his lower lip between his teeth, gaze focused on the bright orange streetlamp in the center of the row ahead of them. He reached over and placed his hand atop Yoongi’s, then slowly laced his fingers between the alpha’s. He was hesitant to look over, basking in the mutual quiet before he found his voice.

“I’m glad it’s you,” Jimin whispered. He ought to elaborate, to explain what he meant. But maybe that was one of the wonderful things about a fated bond—Yoongi already knew.

Jimin woke the next morning to a mess of blankets. He stretched out with a groan, pressing back into the fluffy pillows beneath him. He squinted against the early sunlight, curtains already pulled back to reveal the yellow and blue cityscape.

Jimin ignored the protest of his stiff muscles as he wiggled out of bed. Yoongi’s scent was still fresh, so he must have risen not too long ago. He leaned over and buried his nose in Yoongi’s pillow anyway, taking a quiet moment to truly wake up.

Jimin drifted down the hall, finding Yoongi cross-legged on the couch, glasses askew as he read on his phone. There was a mug of coffee on the low table in front of him, half full and still steaming. Jimin padded up to him and crawled into Yoongi’s lap, thighs caging his hips. Yoongi barely reacted, only holding his phone out and away from Jimin.

Yoongi settled a hand at the small of Jimin’s back, and Jimin slung his arms around his neck. He rested his cheek on Yoongi’s shoulder, looking out the window to the view outside as Yoongi continued to scroll.

Yoongi absently pressed a kiss to the top of Jimin’s head. “You slept longer than usual.”

“Was tired,” Jimin mumbled.

“Well, it’s not a school day, so you could keep sleeping,” Yoongi mused.

Jimin merely hummed. He stared out at the city through a hooded gaze, holding back a yawn. He nearly purred, feeling so content with the warmth of Yoongi’s chest beneath his own. Jimin nuzzled up into Yoongi’s neck and scented him, figuring he probably could drift back into unconsciousness like this.

A few peaceful minutes passed before Jimin remembered he did have homework to do. There were forty pages in his textbook he needed to read before tomorrow, therefore his decision to detach himself from Yoongi was a necessary yet begrudging one.

He smattered a couple kisses across Yoongi’s cheek before he got up, huffing over the tired ache in his limbs. He flitted through the kitchen, shoving a granola bar in his mouth, and searched around for his school supplies. Jimin found his way to the hall and made a stop in the bathroom to brush out his unruly hair. He leaned forward to get a better look at his dark roots, deciding he’d ask Taehyung to help him touch that up soon. Jimin paused in thought; he could just ask Yoongi to dye his hair.

Jimin peeked out of the bathroom and called down the hallway, “Hyung, let’s dye our hair soon.”

“Okay?” Yoongi replied, a hint of surprise and a hint of plain amusement.

Satisfied, Jimin stopped by their bedroom to find a thicker sweater. He arranged the mess of sheets he hadn’t bothered to straighten out in days, then turned toward the wardrobe.

With how much their scents were mingling, what was once Yoongi’s and what was once Jimin’s had so simply become… theirs. There was more comfort in that thought than Jimin could have ever imagined.

There was a quiet domesticity and companionship that Jimin had allowed himself to fall into, and he had left any regret over that fact far in his wake.

The big gray sweater Jimin eventually picked was decidedly Yoongi’s, and Jimin tugged it over his head on his retreat through the hall, blowing blonde fringe out of his eyes.

“Where’d I leave my backpack?” Jimin wondered aloud.

Yoongi wordlessly pointed to the apartment entryway.

“Thank you,” Jimin quietly sang. He bent down and grasped the heaviest textbook, cradling it to his chest as he finally returned to the couch.

As Jimin settled into the corner, back against the armrest and legs slung over Yoongi’s lap, Jimin took a moment to consider how much had changed in the span of a couple months.

This was his home now, undeniably and unquestionably. The alpha resting his arm over Jimin’s thighs was quickly turning into his closest companion, steady and compassionate and all the wonderful things in between.

That sense of fear and loneliness that Jimin had harbored deep in his chest had slowly faded, and the omega had fallen into orbit. No matter if it was fate’s doing, or simply their own, Jimin had found where he belonged.

He opened the book toward the assigned page, sighing as he rested back into the cushion. Jimin skimmed his fingertips along the thin paper, attention already drifting. He made a glance up at Yoongi, watched the alpha readjust the glasses on his nose then stifle a yawn. Yoongi absently played with the soft material of Jimin’s sweats, just as at ease having Jimin in his home now as he was the first night they met.

This sense of belonging was more than a place, Jimin thought, it was his destined person—it was the warmth and comfort of being loved.

“Hyung,” Jimin said, resting his palm on the textbook to hold it steady in his lap. “Yoongi,” he addressed again, lips curling up over Yoongi’s slow response; he must have been more tired than he was letting on.

Yoongi’s gaze flickered up, expectant and curious. The morning sunlight cast gentle hues of yellow along Yoongi’s face, from the tip of his nose to the line of his cheekbones. His hair was nearly silver in this light, a contrast to his pink lips tilting up in mirthful impatience. “Yes?” Yoongi finally asked.

Jimin blushed, realizing he had been staring.

“Nothing, it’s…” Jimin trailed off, suddenly shy.

Yoongi smoothed a hand over Jimin’s thigh, firm and encouraging.

Jimin took a steady breath. “I love you,” he said softly.

Yoongi’s smile widened, every bit of fondness Jimin felt for his mate returned in full. Despite the joy in Yoongi’s expression, there was a knowing hint behind his gaze, as if he had been aware of Jimin’s affections well before the omega.

Jimin felt a quiet relief over this realization, well aware of how in tune Yoongi was with him, how perfectly and completely they fit together. And Jimin no longer questioned it, because perhaps love really could be that simple—like an open embrace just waiting to welcome him home.