Yoongi looks around. The museum seems to welcome its visitors with open arms; its glazed roof and large windows with wooden frames project the daylight in a way that everything feels warm and cozy. A group of middle grade students with navy blazers pay close attention to their teacher, and there’s a couple taking selfies with one of the Renoir paintings. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, except...
“I’m sorry”, he says with a calm and yet high-pitched voice, “I think I misheard you. Did you by any chance say you’re gonna steal this painting?”
“Sshh, lower your voice, please”, the boy hisses, putting down his pink sunglasses so he can take a good look at Yoongi.
Yoongi’s heart is beating fast like it’s on a rage spree, threatening to break his rib cage and cut loose; there’s a pulse thumping in his ears, and he’s feeling a little light-headed.
“Wait, are you for real?”
“What, you’ve never met a robber before?”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you. My name is Jimin. And you are… Yoongi”, he reads Yoongi’s work badge and pronounces his name like he’s feeling its taste on his tongue. A little smirk comes across his face but it vanishes into thin air like it was never there in the first place.
Yoongi is still staring at him as if he’s starstruck. Jimin looks like a hybrid between a crazy-ass biker and a goddamn Barbie: his hair is dyed in a light shade of pink, a tone that matches his glasses in a way that’s almost too perfect to be real, and he’s wearing a black leather jacket with a dark pair of jeans.
“So what’s the drill? Are you gonna sell this painting and become a millionaire?”, Yoongi tries to refocus on the conversation; everything about this Jimin guy is telling Yoongi to come closer, to lean in, to just pay attention, and it’s driving him mad.
“What? No!”, Jimin replies, as if having Yoongi assuming that is the most outrageous and ridiculous thing in the world. “I’m already a millionaire. Well, sort of. I want to hang it in my bedroom. You see, Yoongi, I’m an art appreciator. I see something beautiful and I need to have it in my life.”
That was actually a pretty good line, though Yoongi would much rather see Jimin saying that while flirting with him instead of dropping that piece of information in that absurd conversation.
“Just like that?”
Jimin shrugs, a sunbeam casting a warm glow on his cheek.
“Just like that.”
“You’re insane. I’m calling the police.”
“Now why would you do that?”, Jimin tries to reason, getting really close to Yoongi and putting his right arm around his shoulders. Yoongi can feel his warmth, and he’s suddenly very aware of how their hips are touching. “Tell me something, Yoongi”, he points at Luncheon of the Boating Party, the Renoir painting the couple was taking a selfie with; Yoongi admires its flickering lights and detailed composition, and then Jimin says: “Do you honestly think it’s fair for this painting to be here among so many others, being stared by restless and uninterested eyes, when it could be in my place being cherished by me every single day of my life?”.
“This”, Yoongi points at the woman at the centre of the canvas, who’s sipping a glass with a very bored look on her face, “is a classic painting. It’s a Renoir”, he starts to back off. “It belongs to a museum, where people from all around the world can appreciate it. You’re not insane, you’re delusional. Which makes this even worse.”
“Well, go on, then. Call the cops. I bet they’ll be very interested in knowing why you were here talking to me for the past ten minutes instead of doing something about this situation.”
“I’m sure they’ll understand once I explain everything.”
“I’m sure they will. But I’d call my family to say goodbye just to be sure. But that’s just me.”
“That won’t be…”, Yoongi puts his hands on his pockets and something that wasn’t in there before makes him feel uneasy.
Jimin changes his position, standing really close to him now, one of his brows lifted in defiance. Yoongi is holding a pipe shaped hair pin, a very old one, made of silver, adorned with flowers and embellished with a green jade.
“What the actual fuck…”
“Language!”, Jimin admonishes Yoongi while giving away a know-it-all attitude. “Oh, how did you get that?”, he leans in, making Yoongi drown in his perfume, which gives away notes of leather and something sweet like peaches. “Wait, I think I recognize it. Isn’t it one of the Korean artifacts on display at the east wing?”
“How did you… What did you do?!” He is seconds away from screeching; his already pale hands are turning white and he can feel the absurdity of it all running like ice through his veins.
“Easy now”, Jimin puts his hands on his shoulders. “Look, the camera is not filming you right now. I’m blocking it by being right in front of you. And yes”, he shakes his head like he’s apologizing, “this is one of the Korean artifacts on display at the east wing. It’s very, very old. Maybe a thousand years old? Does the name Goryeo dynasty ring a bell?”
“You bastard…”, Yoongi’s voice is as strong as a thunder.
“And you were hiding it in your pocket!”, Jimin is wagging his head in a very disappointed manner and his tongue makes a tsk, tsk sound. “Look, I won’t tell anyone about your secret if you don’t tell anyone about mine. Do we have a deal?”
Yoongi’s mind is racing. He can’t believe Jimin stole a hair pin and hid it in his pocket. Of all the places, his pocket. Of all the people, him. It’s not like he can give it back now. He’ll get arrested and probably spend his whole life rotting in jail. And he can’t keep it either. The museum staff will eventually realize it is missing and things could escalate quickly. Aren’t the staff members usually the first suspects when something goes missing from a museum? His house could be searched and then what? He’d probably spend his whole life rotting in jail.
So he does the last thing he thought he would be doing that day when he got out of bed. He shakes Jimin’s hands and very discreetly slips the hair pin into his sleeve. Jimin is blithe, the sunlight streaming through the glass ceiling making his eyes shimmer. Damn, he is beautiful. Yoongi only wanted them to go out and drink a few beers, maybe make out a little, but now he is letting that lunatic handsome stranger go away with stealing an ancient artifact because, if not, his life is doomed.
“I need to hear you say it.”
“Say what?”, he retorts.
“Say ‘I’ll let you keep this hair pin, Jimin, and I’m also going to let you steal this painting because you clearly know what you’re doing and I clearly don’t’.”
“I’m not gonna say that!”
“Fine”, Jimin exhales impatiently, rolling his eyes. “Just say we have a deal.”
Yoongi slowly lets the words slip out of his mouth.
“We have a deal, you fucking asshole.”
“First you want to ask me out on a date and then you call me a fucking asshole? You need to sort out your priorities. If you’re not careful, I might have to steal your heart too, to teach you a lesson.”
Jimin adjusts his pink sunglasses with a heartthrob smile, gives Yoongi a kiss on the cheek and leaves without looking back.
The rest of the day goes by in a drowsy blur. The sun is low in the sky now, casting its golden rays down upon Seoul’s buildings and streets, engulfing the buzzing, effervescent city in marmalade flames.
Yoongi can’t get all the things that idiot said off his mind. And worst: he can’t decide whether to tell the whole story to someone or just go with the flow. He got so nervous and incapable of doing anything he even gave the wrong directions to a girl who asked where the nearest Starbucks is, which is something he does at least three times a day without even blinking.
Flashes of Yoongi being taken to the police station kept popping into his head all day long. Why didn't you call the authorities immediately? Why did you wait until now to report this man? He could be anywhere by now, we could have caught him. We're going to have to keep you here for the night. Oh, and you won't be able to call an attorney, or anyone for that matter, because you fucked this thing up so badly you deserve to be in jail for the rest of your life.
And to think Yoongi was worried about getting hurt by poison darts and loaded pistols when he first started working at the museum. Being cursed by one of those creepy human jaws with teeth that were anonymously donated by a rich European family suddenly seem a much more interesting fate.
He was just so sure Jimin was there because of him. He's still struggling to understand what sort of demon had possessed him, the mere thought of him walking towards Jimin to ask him out making him cringe and wanting to disappear like smoke. That is not the kind of thing he does when he finds someone attractive. He usually just stares at the person from the distance while creating a lot of memories in his head of things that will never happen. And that's pretty much it.
Perhaps he is tired of false memories. Perhaps it’s time for him to make new ones. Real ones.
But of course he’s so messed up he liked a robber of all people.
“You look like you've seen a ghost. Are you alright?”
“Do you think I could donate my stupid brain to research when I die?”, he snaps, his voice cracking.
Jin tweaks his head to the side.
“Should I ask?”
Jin works by his side as a member of the Museum Protection Staff. In other words, they are both security officers, which means they have to be stationed throughout the museum to make sure the visitors follow all the rules and that all visitors — and museum objects — are safe.
Oh, the irony.
It’s a very dull job. And also very frustrating at times. People often take pictures with Yoongi without consent and some love to see the paintings by touching them. But the money is good. Yoongi is able to pay the rent, eat well and buy his favorite records and photography accessories.
“Don’t bother”, Yoongi sighs. “I was just… thinking about some errands I'll have to take care of once I get home.”
“This is why the good old ladies won’t come by to talk to you”, Jin brags, a smirk lifting the corner of his mouth. He is a very beautiful man and one of Yoongi’s favorite pastimes is to tease him about how the old ladies always seem to find an excuse to talk to him and touch his broad shoulders. “You keep looking like your whole world is crashing down when you basically just forgot to lock the door or something. Relax, my friend. Let's grab a couple of beers later.”
“Thank you”, Yoongi replies, his hand feeling the back of his head, “but I think I'll just head home.”
“Ok, let me know if your change your mind. Namjoon is coming as well. It's about time you two get to know each other.”
Jin and Namjoon were dating for about two months now. They met at a benefit hosted by the museum. Namjoon arrived there wearing a pair of jeans and a floral shirt while everyone else was wearing nice suits and fancy ties. Jin teased him about it and after a glass of wine they decided to make out in the men’s restroom.
When the twilight fades to blackness, it’s time to go home. They lock up the museum and walk together until the subway station; Jin keeps talking about the new game he started to play and gets so carried away describing the high definition textures and challenging levels he doesn’t even notice Yoongi is absent minded and not listening to a word he says.
At the platform, they say goodbye and go separate ways. When the train arrives, Yoongi hurries to find a seat in the last car. He closes his eyes, the greasy and metallic smell of the subway permeating his surroundings and relaxing his muscles, and his headphones make every noise around him disappear. For a moment it also mutes his spiraling thoughts, until a very specific line from the rap song he’s listening to brings about the memory of when Jimin (if that’s even his real name) brushed his lips against his skin — and how Yoongi’s cheeks turned into a cherry red almost immediately.
The boy, the alleged robber, had such smooth lips he couldn't stop himself wondering what it would feel like to kiss them softly on a sunny day. Would he also taste like peaches?
Yoongi unconsciously touches his cheek and feels something there. Lip gloss. A pinkish sparkly lip gloss that makes his fingers shimmer.
Now Yoongi is blushing even harder.
At the right station, Yoongi gets off the train and walks home, feeling grateful for the soft breeze that lifts his hair, the scent of kimchi wafting through it, making his mind a little clearer. He dashes the six block distance until he sees the old building at the end of the street, the kind of place that is always creaking and where everything seems dusty and dirty.
Yoongi goes straight to the bathroom to take a hot shower. His toes flinch as they touch the cool ceramic floor, and he adjusts the water temperature so it can be as hot as humanly possible. The running water somehow helps his shredded mind to fall back into place.
Ten or fifteen minutes later he sits on the couch, a cold beer is his hands, wearing a white t-shirt and grey sweatpants. He doesn't bother to turn on the lights; the moonlight coming from the single pane windows turns everything into a dark silvery grey; even his beer is tinted of a dark shade like it’s some sweet, dangerous poison.
Yoongi unlocks his phone in a sudden decision.
“Fuck this Jimin and...”
“Language!”, a voice murmurs from across the dark living room.
“WHAT THE FUCK?”, Yoongi jumps, spilling beer on the couch and on his lap.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you”, Jimin turns his head, his eyes looking like a luminous galaxy behind the pink lenses. “You were about to call the cops, weren’t you? I knew you were going to do that. Which is why I’m here. Nice place, by the way. You sure look like a industrial decor kind of guy.”
Yoongi is shaking again, and it takes all the control he has to keep his hands steady.
“How the hell… You can’t possibly expect me to not… Get the fuck away from my house. Now.”
“You sure swear a lot for someone so small. I should wash your mouth with soap.”
“You won’t be able to do that, or anything else for that matter, once you’re locked behind bars”, Yoongi attacks with a low voice, and when realization strikes him, he adds: “Oh, God. Tell me you didn’t hide another ancient artifact in my apartment”.
“No”, Yoongi raises a brow, and Jimin shows his open palms in a ‘I got not weapons or secrets’ sign. “I promise. I’m here to talk.”
“I thought a lot about our little chat. I see now you're a more rational person. Emotions just get you nervous and on edge, right?”, Jimin doesn’t wait for Yoongi to reply to continue. “I have a proposition.”
“I figured you’d say that. And that’s why I made a proper presentation while I was waiting for you. How do I turn this on?”, Jimin points at the TV and looks around, searching for the remote.
Yoongi calls the police. A second later, a woman answers.
“Police, what’s your emergency?”
Jimin turn the lights on while doing something with his phone. Suddenly its screen is synchronized with the TV. Yoongi sees some very ordinary apps installed: food delivery services, Twitter, Spotify and, of course, Grindr. He didn’t know what he was expecting to see on an robber’s phone, but it was definitely not that.
“Hello? Is someone there?”, the lady from 112 asks, raising her voice.
Jimin opens a file and an actual presentation fills the screen. It starts with a very straight to the point sentence: 5 reasons why you should dump your current life and be my partner in crime.
“What the fuck is that?”, Yoongi asks again.
“Sir? Is everything alright?”
Jimin stares at Yoongi, arms crossed while waiting for him to decide what he’s going to do: report him to the police or hear him out. The night seems to surround them both; Yoongi can almost feel its presence right there by his side, whispering secrets and questionable advices. Jimin has a neutral look on his face, and Yoongi wonders what’s crossing his mind right now.
And then he says to the woman waiting in line:
“I’m so sorry to bother you, my… friend was just… surprising me.”
“Are you sure? Do you need to…”
“I’m sure”, Yoongi says with a raspy, deep voice. “Thank you. Have a good evening.”
He slips his phone back into his pocket and crosses his arms as if mirroring Jimin’s gesture.
“Well, there you go, you creep.”
“Thank you”, Jimin claps his hands with jubilation. “Now, should I start or…?”
“Or what?”, Yoongi says, nearly spouting the answer. “I’m not opening a glass of wine or cooking you dinner if that’s what you mean.”
“Oh. Feisty. I like that”, the robber smiles. “Let's begin…”
Jimin talks for about five minutes. Yoongi stopped listening by the end of the first ten seconds. Jimin is really cute and watch him talk gibberish can be very distracting, as Yoongi eventually finds out. Jimin is saying something about never having a partner in crime before and how he thought for a long time that was the best thing to do and how lately he is starting to consider other possibilities… Is this guy for real?
At one point Yoongi gets curious and decides to interrupt him to ask:
“Wait, how many slides did you make?”
“All the ones that I needed. I told you, it's a real presentation.”
“Of course not. I have this one and another one and that's it”, he shrugs, his fingers raking through his hair in a carefree way. “I have a lot of stuff going on in my plate, ok?”
“I can imagine.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”, he frowns, ready to pick up a fight.
“I think you know.”
“Look, Yoongi. I postponed a switching art job to be here. If you're going to be throwing shade at me I'll just leave.”
"I think I'm entitled to do that, don't you?"
Jimin shoots a smirk at Yoongi.
"Only after our first date."
Yoongi is disoriented. Suddenly the living room vanishes in a confused blur. He strains to keep his hazy mind in check, the thin line of light coming from the window making everything feels possible. Jimmy's staring at him, lifting his chin with a proud air; he knows what he's done to Yoongi and now he is just contemplating the results.
Damn. Jimin is going to be the death of him. Yoongi usually says that as a metaphor but Jimin's way of life kind of makes that sort of assumption very real.
"Look, Yoongi", Jimin starts again, clearing his throat. "I'll go straight to the point. I see myself in you. The person I was before I decided it was time for me to change a few things. I know you're good at what you do, but I also know that deep down you feel you're meant for something more. Maybe you don't know what that is yet, and that's fine, but shouting 'no flash photography!' is not the life you wanted for yourself. It's a very honorable and important job, but not the one you thought you'd have when you were a kid and everything seemed possible."
Yoongi looks at Jimin like he’s just received a slap on his face.
"You don't know me."
"I don't. I might be terribly wrong. So I ask you…”, he talks slowly, letting it all sink in, “am I?"
Yoongi stares at the linoleum floor, his eyes getting lost while his mind foresees all the possibilities that are in front of him. Jimin is right, of course. He thought he was gonna do more about his life. He wanted to be a rapper. Wanted to be a photographer. Wanted to be anything else he could put his whole mind and body into… Something he could create. Now all the things that made him feel alive are hobbies, things he has to do while resting and putting his stupid uniform in the washing machine.
But what Jimin is suggesting is a life of crime. He would become a felony and for what? Just to feel the thrill of the chase?
"Jimin, this is insane. I don't even know you", he puts his hands on his head. "You can't change my mind like that. You won’t."
"There’s not much to know, really. I’m a Libra, I was born in Busan, I have a younger brother and I’m pretty reserved in terms of expressing my emotions, unless I know it’s going to be worth it. I also have a very strong sense of perfection which sometimes gets in the way, but it’s nothing that I can’t manage.”
“Yoongi… You’re right, though. It is insane. It is risky. Every single move we make will have to be thoroughly calculated. We won't take chances. We won't leave each other behind. We'll be in this together, you know?"
"We can go to Rome, have a gelato and buy cute artwork from the streets. And then visit some idyllic country town. I've always wanted to see a lavender field…", he shrugs.
Yoongi smiles a little, getting carried away.
"Florence seems like a nice place to spend a couple of days. The pictures I'd take there…"
"It's all in the tip of your fingers."
"What is it that you did? Before all this?"
"I was a supermarket cashier. At a Lotte Mart to be precise. I struggled a lot to pay for university, until I couldn't do it anymore. That was like a blow straight to the head. I worked so many extra shifts…", he sighs. "So I took a turn."
"Do you miss it? Your old life?"
"I'm gonna need proof. I mean, you're telling me a hell of a story but besides that hair pin incident at the museum you haven't really showed me that you really do what you're saying you do."
Yoongi gets Jimin's attention.
"What is it that you want to see?"
"Well, I don't know… You said you want to hang that Renoir painting in your apartment, so I'm guessing you have a lot of artwork and antiques there. So maybe we could go there so I can check them out?"
"I don't usually invite guys over... but for you I might make an exception”, Jimin says with a devious grin.
"What is it, is this a clue? Did you change your mind?”, Yoongi suddenly loses it. “Do you want me to take you on a date now too?"
"I'm just teasing you. But if you agree to be my partner in crime then that might change."
"Are you blackmailing me?", his eyes narrow to slits.
"Of course not! Only if it works”, he winks.
"It works”, Yoongi makes up his mind and Jimin’s eyes suddenly widen, gleaming. The stars and the moon feel a lot closer to Yoongi all of a sudden. “I will help you steal that Renoir painting if you agree to go out on a date with me." Jimin opens his mouth but Yoongi doesn't let him speak: "If everything goes well with the robbery and the date I'll join you. If it goes south… If we get caught, it's on you. I’ll say you were threatening me and there's nothing I could do. And if you're a bad kisser… our deal ends there too."
"Look at you talking about only kissing on our first date”, Jimin pinches Yoongi’s chin with pouty lips. “You've got yourself a deal. The easiest one I’ve made in my entire life. There's no way this robbery will go wrong. Now, Netflix and chill?"
Yoongi opens the front door.
"Fine!", he pouts his lips even more while caving to his demand. "I'll pick you up tomorrow so you can have your proof. Ok? And then you can tell me a bit more about yourself."
"Fine", Yoongi repeats.
“See you tomorrow!” Jimin kisses his cheek again, making Yoongi blush for the second time that day, and leaves with a giggle.
"What the hell is an art switching job anyway?", Yoongi asks.
But that only makes Jimin giggle one more time. He disappears through the stairs, one of the steps groaning and creaking under his weight, leaving a very speechless Yoongi behind.
A few moments later, Yoongi hears the roar of a motorcycle engine and screeching tires, but when he hurries to the window to take a peek he doesn't see or hear anything except for the gentle hiss of leaves whooshing across the street.
Yoongi barely slept the weeks that followed. He did a good job at pretending things were as normal as they once were, and Jin, who is usually a very perceptive person, never suspected anything. Jimin is real. He is just as real as any of the antique artifacts kept in the museum’s restoration room.
The following day, Jimin stopped by at Yoongi’s flat with his bike and gave him a lift. Yoongi tried not to, but he was too surprised to act cool when he realized Jimin lived in one of Seoul’s richest neighbourhoods, in a huge building with coral and beige undertones and beautiful chandeliers — a very tasteful combination of contemporary decor and something resembling a 1920’s manor home, with a gramophone, belgian tapestries and a green leather-topped desk.
In fact, Jimin’s apartment looked like something Yoongi had only seen in magazines or movies: a leather couch, faux fur cushions that were cuddly and soft to the touch, bookshelves filled with books. And art, of course, in every shape or form, hanging on the walls, kept in cupboards, being the centerpiece of the living room. Carved stone sculptures, tea cups, old books with golden details and paintings. Including The Pigeon With Green Peas by Pablo Picasso.
"I stole this one in 2010 from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. All by myself. My best job so far."
Yoongi rolled his eyes.
“It amazes me how proud you can be from doing such things.”
“I'm good at this, why shouldn't I be happy and congratulate myself?”, Jimin snorted. “Anyway, it took me a little while to remove the painting from the frame but here it is. And of course I had that situation with the man…”
“This man came out of nowhere and stated that he had thrown the painting into a rubbish container following the theft.”
“I know. Crazy, right? He was convicted of the robbery, obviously. That sure made things easier for me. But some still doubt the credibility of his story. I wonder why…”, he shaked his head.
“And you had nothing to do with his confession?”
“Nothing at all. I was just as shocked as you are now. So I've decided to think of it as a gift from beyond”, he said, his mouth pulled in a smirk.
“This is crazy. You're like a famous robber, the whole world is chasing you… and I'm the one with trouble sleeping.”
“I do have back pains sometimes”, Jimin pointed out.
“Yeah, it must be hard to carry all these stolen goods around”, Yoongi teased.
Jimin served a glass of rosé wine that matched his pink hair. He was wearing different sunglasses that night, with dark lenses and a golden frame. Those made Yoongi slightly uncomfortable because he couldn't see where Jimin was looking at. A voice inside his head kept teasing him, telling him he was staring at him and contemplating his figures in a very discreet way, but he didn't give any attention to it. Last time he did it, he found out Jimin was a professional robber — and that going on a date with him was the last thing crossing his mind.
“How can you afford a place like this?”, Yoongi asked.
“Yoongi… I don’t keep all the things I steal.”
“Oh”, he paused, flustering. “That makes sense.”
Yoongi spent a couple more minutes admiring Jimin’s private collection, answering Jimin’s questions about his private life with a few words and frowns. He even reached out and touched a painting; the sensation of dry oil paint meeting his fingers was something he would never forget. Yoongi was never that much into paintings; he understood their importance, of course, but he always thought they were too… edited. Nothing like the spontaneity of a picture. But after that day something changed within him.
Jimin stayed silent. Yoongi could feel his eyes following him like he was waiting for Yoongi to make the first move. He didn’t want to rush him and accidentally change his mind.
“So… How are we gonna do it?
“We’ll walk in and take it, of course.”
“What?”, Yoongi’s voice came out as something fragile and breakable.
“What did you think? That we’d dance between lasers, shoot guns and get away with it in a chopper?”
“No. I thought we were going to hop in your bike and leave.”
Jimin took off his sunglasses. Even in the dim light, Yoongi could see the determination flaring up in his eyes like a match lighted.
“Yoongi, listen to me. Take it and go is the best move in this particular case. Nobody ever expects that. And we have the upper hand here: were won’t be selling the painting afterwards. So the chances of us getting caught are the smallest as they can be.”
“How do you know that?”
“I read it somewhere. It said that something like one or two percent of cases of art theft see the art recovered and the criminal prosecuted. So...”
“But the cameras… the wireless alarm sensors…”
“I have a guy who’ll turn the electricity off for fifteen minutes on my signal.”
“His name is V.”
“That’s not even a name!”
“Well, I don’t need to know his real name for him to work with me on robberies, do I? Trust me, he’s the best. He works with two other guys but they’re specialized in different things. V is the tech guy, Jungkook’s got the pickpocket skills and Hobi is the fence. You know, the person who buys stolen goods in order to resell them for profit. He’s also the driver when V is not available.”
“Where are the six other guys?”
“What other guys?”
“For Jimin’s Eleven. I take I’m the... Oh, God, I have no idea who I am. Am I the old guy who almost dies when his nerves overtake him? I am, aren't I?”
“No, that guy was a legend.”
“What I mean is that he had a very profitable life of crime which is not your case. Yet”, he winked. “You’ll be my eyes, Yoongi. You’re going to keep an eye on things like you always do on your daily job. You noticed me when no one else did.”
Yoongi wanted to say Jimin would be hard to miss, but instead he answered:
“Yeah, but I got you all wrong.” Yoongi didn’t need to explain that any further.
“Of course you did. I wouldn’t want you to find out my true intentions without my permission, would I? And perhaps you didn’t get me all wrong”, Jimin teased.
“I’m not falling for that.”
“You never do”, Jimin pouted. He did that a lot — making his soft and juicy lips become even plumper — and Yoongi didn’t know how much more of that he would be able to take without kissing it away.
“So… We’ll do it in the middle of the night?”
“No, I’m thinking daylight.”
“Impossible. There’s always lots of kids during this time of the year. Plus there’s Jin, the other security officer who works on the first floor. Even if I wear a mask or something, it’s risky. He could recognize me. And not showing up to work would get me into trouble.”
“Fine”, Jimin looked bored. “We’ll do it tonight.”
“Tonight?!”, a loud gasp came out of Yoongi.
“Yes. Tonight. You’re so unsettled I’m worried you’ll screw this up without meaning to. Plus, there’s nothing else to prepare. You’re in. I’m in. V is just waiting for my command.”
“I can’t believe I’m actually gonna do that.”
“To be honest? Me neither. But I’m sure you’ll do great. You have something in you. I think you’ll enjoy feeling the blood pumping through your veins.”
“I’m nervous and already feeling sick but as crazy that sounds, I think you’re right.”
Jimin looked away for a second and gave a rather triumphant look towards Yoongi.
“So… Have you decided where our first date is going to be?”
“Yes”, Yoongi blushed a little. “But I’m not telling you. It’s a surprise.”
“Yeah, well… I don’t know, I think you might like it.”
“When you blush like that it makes me want to forget our deal and kiss you right here and right now”, Jimin’s voice dropped lower, making Yoongi feel they were about to slip into infinity together. “Should I, Yoongi? Should I kiss you at this very moment?”
Yoongi lost the nerve to speak.
Jimin got closer. His lips were glossy, inviting, and Yoongi felt his whole body reacting to his closeness. But there was something in Jimin’s expression — the fun of a challenge, the jaunty amusement of toying with him — that made Yoongi awkwardly cough and look away.
“Let’s stick to our deal. I should go home and get some rest.”
Jimin took a while to reply.
“Yes. Yes, you should. I’ll text you when it’s time. Don’t forget: dark clothes, nothing fancy or special. I’ll give you your mask when we meet. Leave your phone and documents at home. Stay offline from this moment on. And remember: you were sound asleep.”
Yoongi was the one who kissed Jimin’s cheeks that time.
“See you later.”
He didn’t linger to see the robber’s reaction, but the lack of words coming out of his mouth was the exact reaction he was hoping for.
“I also brought gloves and a beanie. You know, for DNA reasons.”
That's how Jimin greets Yoongi later day that, using the same pink glasses he wore on the day they first talked to each other. They meet at a dark alley two blocks away from the museum; Yoongi never thought that would be a day when he’d be thankful for wearing a burglar mask, but the smell in the alley was almost making him puke his lungs out.
They finish dressing up, Yoongi feeling slightly comfortable with the fact that no one’s going to be able to recognize him with that weird outfit. Jimin places the tools on his utility belt — a hammer, a box cutter, a screwdriver — and gets closer to Yoongi to adjust his mask.
“There you go. Nervous?”
“I feel like I'm dead on the inside.”
“In a few moments you'll feel more alive than you ever did in your entire life.”
Yoongi doesn't answer. Instead, he does some stretching while Jimin texts V, the tech guy. When he replies, he puts his phone back in the front pocket of his jacket, closes the zipper and says:
They run, Jimin’s feet so light it almost seems he is not touching the ground. The streets are empty. Yoongi unlocks the back door of the museum with his keys, his hands shaking like they never did before, and in the blink of an eye they're inside, surrounded by paintings with beautiful frames and tall sculptures hidden in the shadows.
Jimin goes first, his back arched, ready to hide if necessary. Yoongi follows him close by, his eyes scanning the place. The moonlight coming from the glass ceiling makes everything feel ethereal, like they are in a haunted room stuck between two worlds, the one that was gone and the one they are living in.
The cameras are off. Yoongi can’t see the red lights on the corners anymore, which relaxes him a little bit. Thoughts of how crazy he is for doing that are surfacing his mind but he strains himself not to listen to them. There’s no time for emotions. He’s not good with them, and they’re not good for him. Now he needs to be as rational as he can be.
They enter the east wing. The painting looks almost as if it was waiting for them to be rescued. They act quickly: Yoongi holds the painting by its frame while Jimin, peering closely at the painting, cuts the hanging wire and takes it off the wall. The painting is heavy, but they still manage to carry it. Yoongi is holding the painting but there’s something off. He stops, making Jimin mouth something abominable to him, and then he hisses, glancing around:
“We’re not alone.”
Jimin’s face livens.
“What do you mean?”
“I just have a feeling, that's all. Let's go.”
They walk faster, heading to the back door, when something catches Yoongi’s eyes. One second later, a thumping sound makes them stop again. And two figures come out of the dark carrying a cardboard box filled with ceramic objects.
“What the hell are you two doing here?”, Jimin relaxes.
The two guys get closer and Yoongi sees one of them has big eyes and is really young while the other one has a fierce look and at the same time seems like he's ready to hug someone.
“We couldn't lose the opportunity, could we?”, the older one smiles. “It's been a while, Jimin. How are you doing these days?”
“I can't complain, Hobi.”
“Wait, this is the Hobi you were telling me about earlier?”
“You've been talking about me?”, Hobi says with a flirty voice that makes Yoongi shift uncomfortably on his feet.
“I was explaining to him how things work. This is Yoongi, by the way. He's my eyes.”
“Oh, about time! You really needed one of those”, the younger one, who Yoongi believes to be Jungkook, says.
“How did you guys know? Did V…?”
“No, he wouldn't tip you off like that. I also happen to have a guy. He told me what you were up to and here I am”, Hobi explains.
“I'm a little disappointed though. We were planning to come and leave without running into you”, Jungkook adds.
“I'm sorry to have ruined your plans”, Jimin answers with no patience whatsoever.
“Look. It's good to meet you guys and all but we're in the middle of a situation here, so I suggest we leave the chit-chat for later”, Yoongi suggests.
“He's right”, Hobi says. “This is getting really heavy.”
“My sentiments exactly”, Yoongi agrees.
“Fine. We’ll talk later”, Jimin adds, modeling his voice in a way that Yoongi is not sure if that’s a threat or just a weird way to say goodbye.
The four of them head to the back door and leave, Jimin and Yoongi to the left, Hobi and Jungkook to the right. Jimin and Yoongi don’t talk until they reach the van where V is hidden.
“You good?”, V asks after they place the painting under one of the seats. He is eating a candy bar; there’s caramel on his chin and a little chocolate on his nose.
“Yes”, Jimin is panting raggedly. “We ran into Hobi and Jungkook. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“What? Hell no.”
“Good. Are you done?”
“I just have to…”, V types something on his laptop. “Ok. We’re done.”
“Great. Can you give us a lift?”
“Yeah, sure. You're going separate ways or…?”
“I don’t know”, Jimin gnaws on his bottom lip. “Yoongi, what do you say?”
“Oh”, he shakes his head, somehow managing to find his voice in time. “Why me?”
“You're the one who's taking me out on a date aren't you?”, Jimin replies, and V has a very discrete reaction quirking up his eyebrows for only a second.
“Yes, but I made reservations for tomorrow…”
Jimin huffs softly.
“You told me to take care of it and I did!”
“Yes, but I never go to bed like an eighty year old man after I steal something. Where’s the rush in that? We can have your kind of date tomorrow. But today we’re having the kind of date I like to have, ok? V, take us to my place.”
“You said you don’t bring guys over and here you are inviting me over again.”
“Well, you're not just any guy, are you?”, Jimin silently giggles.
V seems to have lost interest in all the flirting and turns the engine on. Jimin takes a wad of money out of his pocket and throws it in V’s lap.
“Thank you for your services.”
“Anytime, man”, V sounds distant while shifting gears.
“Now if you excuse me… I have to collect my other prize”, Jimin says to V, who nods while keeping his eye on the road.
Jimin intertwines his fingers in Yoongi’s, his small hands making Yoongi feel like he could wrap him up, pulling him to the backseat. Jimin takes off his sunglasses, hangs them on his shirt cleavage and stares at Yoongi.
“Should I take you're already my partner in crime?”, he says in a low, sweet voice. It’s a voice Yoongi’s never heard before; it seems intimate, like they were having a pillow talk because neither of them can’t sleep, room tinged by blackness, curtains waving in and out of wind.
Jimin is caressing his hand with the tip of his fingers, drawing small circles on his skin, sending shivers all over him. His hands travel through his body; Jimin presses his thighs with his nails, and Yoongi feels like all the blood running in his veins has been replaced with fire. He can't focus, though having his mind wandering around is the last thing he wants to do now. He wants to focus all of his attention to Jimin and only, only him.
“Our date hasn’t even begun yet…”
“And the thrill? Did you feel it?”
“I did. I mean, I was nervous too, but I have to admit it was… something else”, he’s having a hard time remembering words; Jimin is leaning into him, his moves as smooth as air, his walnut eyes chained to Yoongi’s lips. “I'll probably have an existential crisis over it later. Maybe an anxiety breakdown too. But… yeah.”
“I get nervous too”, Jimin is now kissing his neck, feeling his taste, his lips touching Yoongi’s skin so softly it reminds him of rose petals brushing against him. “How about this thrill right here, Yoongi? Can you feel it?”, he whispers on Yoongi’s ear, teasing him, making him melt on the inside.
“What?”, he replies, dangerously close to Yoongi’s jaw now.
“Shut up and fucking kiss me already”, Yoongi growls, tired of fighting the urge of being as close to him as possible, feeling confident as hell after his first theft. And Jimin, for the first time ever, obeys without question.
Six months later
“Yoongi, come and see this!”, Jimin calls from somewhere on Yoongi’s left. He follows his voice and see him staring at a painting of a pink sunset.
“Why everything always has to be pink or peachy with you?”, Yoongi lifts an eyebrow and clicks his tongue.
“Because they’re the cutest colors.”
“Doubtful”, he flashes a playful smirk. “Do you want it?”
Yoongi bargains with the artist in a very rusty Italian. The artist accepts his offer and they close the deal. Jimin bounces around Yoongi, thanking him in his own way. They’ve spent the whole afternoon admiring the artwork from local artists spread all over Piazza Navona: colorful watercolors and pastel oil paintings surrounded by artists doing sketches and trying to earn a living.
“This will look good in... our living room”, Yoongi says after a while. He decided to move in with Jimin about three months ago, but the fact that they are waking up together every day remains something hard to believe.
“Look at you saying it’s ours!”
“If you want me to stop just say the word.”
“Oh, always a drama queen”, Jimin kisses his hand.
“I think I’ll buy this one for Jin, what do you think?”
Jimin stares at the small painting Yoongi is pointing at and smiles.
“It’s really cute. He’ll love it.”
Yoongi nods and buys the painting that comes in an oval frame and they go after some gelato. The sun is shining bright and hot, and their shirts are wet from the sweat of carrying backpacks and their luggage downtown. Jimin picks a peach gelato, and Yoongi asks for a mint chocolate one, ignoring Jimin’s complaints about the flavour.
The Piazza is fervishing with people sitting on ringside tables, sipping espressos and admiring the artwork. Yoongi finally feels something burning inside him: happiness and freedom in its true form. He takes a picture to remember that moment with his brand new camera and kisses Jimin to cherish it even more.
“I love you, Jimin, the crazy robber.”
“Yoongi…”, he gasps, his cheeks turning red.
“What? I’m happy. I’m feeling alive. We’re in Rome. I may as well say it. I fucking love you.”
“I love you too”, Jimin answers with a tender smile, squeezing Yoongi’s cheeks.
They’ve stolen five more paintings since that day at the museum, all of Yoongi’s choice. Since he was the one moving in, he thought he should have a say in the decor. Jimin wasn’t a fan of Caravaggio and his dramatic use of chiaroscuro. He also thought Henry Fuseli and his fascination with the supernatural made their bedroom look scary. But he accepted that, because that’s what Yoongi wanted.
They are a pair made of opposites. Jimin is like a star with his pinkish lip gloss, shiny sunglasses and soft paintings with flowers, rivers and sunsets. And if Jimin is a star, Yoongi is a black hole with his dark clothes, gloomy artwork and shadowy photography.
Jin was really confused when Yoongi introduced Jimin to him and Namjoon. At first he thought Yoongi was just fooling around, that it didn’t really mean anything, but when they were saying goodbye Jin gave him a hug and said: “I’m glad you found someone you can connect to, my friend”.
Jimin and Yoongi had agreed on telling a story about Jimin being a very successful flight attendant and that's why he travels a lot. Yoongi also told Jin he decided to resign his job to pursue a career as a photographer. That wasn't entirely a lie: he was taking more pictures than ever, but he just wasn't planning on making a career out of that anytime soon.
Yoongi does plan to tell Jin the truth — that he is now a professional art robber who still lives in Seoul but spends most of his time traveling around the world — at some point, but he wants the secret to be kept between him and Jimin for just a while longer. And truth be told, he has a feeling Jin won’t be that shocked when he hears the truth. Namjoon on the other hand…
“We should get going to the airport”, Yoongi checks the time on his watch.
“Next stop, Florence!”, Jimin squeals. His sunglasses are sliding down his nose, so he corrects them with a mischievous look on his face. “You know Michelangelo's David is there, right?”
“It would look cute in our yard.”
“We live in an apartment! We don’t have a yard!”
“I’m sorry, out future yard…”
“You’re impossible. You’re actually making me a little mad right now”, Yoongi says as they get in the taxi.
“Good! That’s a very good first step. Art is all about feelings. I can work with that…”
“You won’t change my mind. Not about this.”
Jimin giggles, his eyes turning into crescents, and he gives Yoongi a peck on his lips.
“That’s what you said the first time. That’s a cute hair pin, by the way.”
Yoongi unconsciously touches the hair pin he’s wearing — the same one he let Jimin steal on the day they first met — and rolls his eyes. Jimin, he is always right.
And so they head to the airport, the warm sunlight softly kissing their skin as they watch Piazza Navona become smaller and smaller through the rearview mirror.
🍑 THE END 🍑