When he lifted his head, Jimin could barely recognise him for the bruises.
They had agreed to meet at six that night. Jimin had ordered in some food, set up a trashy programme on the television; Jungkook was supposed to bring the wine. It wouldn’t be the fanciest of dates, but something they’d both enjoy.
By seven, Jimin had started to suspect he’d been stood up.
By eight, he was worried.
He tried calling Taehyung, Hoseok and Yoongi with no success. Jin answered on the third ring and told him he hadn’t heard anything; Namjoon had been home all night and whatever the rest of the boys were up to was beyond him. He promised to keep an ear out and ask Namjoon about it and Jimin promised to call back if he got any news.
Food long gone cold and television playing away to itself, Jimin pulled a dining chair into the hallway and sat down, unable to do anything but stare at the front door to his apartment. Jimin didn’t know the specifics of what Jungkook got up to under the cover of night, but he knew just enough for the cold, clammy feeling in his stomach to be warranted.
But thinking on all the scenarios that could have unfolded tonight - Jungkook arrested, Jungkook attacked, Jungkook lying unconscious somewhere, Jungkook… - would only bring him further anguish.
If something had happened, someone would have called.
And then his phone rang.
“Tae?” Jimin answered, breathless with worry, on the first ring.
“Sorry, we missed your calls! Jungkook’s here with us.”
The sound of Tae’s smiling voice was enough to set Jimin’s knawing panic to simmer and he breathed a small sigh of relief. If Jungkook was seriously hurt, Tae would be devastated and even more so if he had to be the one to pass on the heartbreaking news to Jimin.
That brief moment of relief was shortlived, however, because if Jeon Jungkook was okay, that meant he was in big trouble.
Jimin crossed one leg over the other and set his icy gaze on the door, “Does he want to give me his excuse for standing me up now, or wait until he gets home?”
At that, the joy in Tae’s voice became a little wavering. He tried to laugh at Jimin’s comment but it came out more awkward than anything, the sort of awkward that comes with being trapped between a squabbling couple - and squabble they would.
“He, err,” Tae started, but gave up quicker than he began, “We’ll just send him home, shall we?”
“That’s probably for the best.”
There was a rustling sound as Taehyung presumable pressed the mic of his phone into his shirt, some distant muttering, and then the bright and pleasant voice Jimin knew and loved returned like it was never gone, “He’s on his way back, now. We’re really sorry if we scared you. I’ll speak to you tomorrow! Bye, love you!”
“Love you, too,” Jimin sighed and hung up, typed out a quick text to Jin, then tossed his phone over onto the sofa.
He was in for a long night.
Jungkook rolled in at half eleven. He was soaked through from the rain outside with shoulders hunched and hanging face hidden by his sodden hair. Jimin was still sat in the chair, waiting right in front of the door for his boyfriend's return. With his arms crossed and eyes cold, he probably made for an intimidating sight; he wasn’t surprised Jungkook didn’t want to look at him.
“Baby, I’m so-”
“Save it,” Jimin snapped, pursing his lips, “If something comes up and you can’t make it over, or even if you just don’t feel like hanging out tonight, that’s fine. It’s whatever. But you call . You let me know. You don’t just leave me hanging like some guy in a fucking bar that you didn’t really want to give your number to in the first place.”
“I know, I know-”
“Don’t give me that fucking ‘ I know ’ shit. If you knew you would have called. You wouldn’t have stood me up. How long have we been together? Almost a fucking year and you left me sitting alone, waiting for you to come home for hours while you were out galavanting with your fucking friends!” He was seething. The more he vented his frustration, the more it grew and Jimin stood, angrily taking the chair back to the dining room for something to do. He ran his fingers through his hair and kept going, “You can’t do shit like that to me, not when you’re out there doing what you're doing . Anything could have happened, tonight, Jungkook! I’ve sat here since eight wondering if you’d come home at all. If I’d get a call off Jin telling me-”
Jimin’s voice caught in his throat and he deflated, all the fight draining out of him at once. For all he was quick to anger, he was also quick to defeat and he suddenly found himself so very, very exhausted.
“Okay, your turn,” Jimin breathed as he turned away from the dining room, frowning when he found Jungkook hadn’t followed him in. Jungkook was like a puppy whenever they fought, hot on his heels with apologies on his lips. And even when Jungkook wasn’t apologising, instead giving as good as he got, arguing his case, he was still always close by, always hovering just outside Jimin’s personal space.
Jungkook was in the doorway, hadn’t budged since he first stepped in from the cold. His head was still lowered and his shoulders still hunched. For a moment, Jimin thought he’d been ignored. Then that heavy, bitter feeling in his stomach returned.
“Honey, what happened?”
Despite the recentness of his injuries, Jungkook’s face had already started to discolour. The skin around his swollen eyes was bright red and angry, matching the twin bruises along his jaw and above his right brow; his lip was split and his nostrils were caked with dried, crusty blood that forced him to breathe through his mouth. Where once his face had been all sharp edges and straight lines, it was now puffy and sore.
Jimin swallowed. He knew better than to ask; knew that even if he did Jungkook wouldn’t give him a straight answer. So he kept his mouth shut and hurried the short distance back to his boyfriend’s side, instead.
With gentle hands he cupped Jungkook’s cheeks, being beyond careful so as not to cause him any further pain. It broke his heart to see the man he loved like this and it took everything in Jimin to temper down the new wave of blossoming rage at whoever had put their hands on his sweet Jungkookie.
He pulled away just long enough to take Jungkook by the hand and lead him into the living room, directing him down onto the couch with orders to stay right there. Once in the kitchen, Jimin placed a clean tea towel down on the bench and retrieved some ice cubes from the freezer. With deft fingers, he popped each cube out, dopped them into a thin plastic bag and wrapped the bag in the towel. He also grabbed some pain pills and a pack of wet wipes to clean up the grime.
Back in the living room, Jungkook looked miserable. Jimin sat down beside him and pressed the makeshift cold compress to the man’s broken nose, shushing him softly when he made a small noise of complaint.
“It’ll help with the inflammation,” he said, frowning sadly at how Jungkook’s eyes had almost completely swelled shut. “Did you mess with your nose after it happened?”
Jungkook shrugged, “Tried to stop the bleeding,” he answered, nasally.
Jimin pushed his boyfriend’s hair from his eyes and sighed, “You’ll have a nasty bruise tomorrow.”
After handing over the cold compress to Jungkook, Jimin made him take the painkillers with a bottle of water from the coffee table, then set to work on cleaning up his face a little.
“Lift the compress just a bit,” he breathed, a wet wipe wrapped around his index finger. His face was inches away from Jungkook’s, so close he could feel the other man’s breath in small puffs. The proximity made Jimin feel like he had to whisper, like talking too loud might break the fragile calm that surrounded them.
Careful not to jostle Jungkook’s nose, making it start to bleed all over again, he gently began wiping at the crusted area just beneath his nostrils. Jungkook grimaced but didn’t otherwise indicate he was in any more pain than he had been already.
“I’m sorry I ruined our date,” he said, throwing the compress down on the coffee table after a good fifteen minutes had passed. Most of the blood had been cleaned from his broken nose but there was nothing Jimin could do to reverse the damage done to his jaw, brow and eyes. Still, he looked a little better. A little less grim.
Jimin shook his head, rubbed at a knot in Jungkook’s neck, “Don’t apologise; we have a lifetime to reschedule. And I'm sorry I got so mad. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.”
“I worried you,” he said and Jimin couldn’t deny that.
“I’m always a bit worried about you,” He conceded, running his hand over Jungkook’s shoulder and down his arm until he could take a hold of his hand, “But you’re home now. Just… just try to be more careful next time.”
Jimin knew that, realistically, that wasn’t something Jungkook could promise. In Jungkook’s line of work, people got hurt. People got hurt all the time. Thankfully, the people getting hurt were rarely Jungkook, but something like this was inevitable. This was not the first evening Jimin had spent playing nurse and it wouldn’t be the last.
Instead of lying, Jungkook leant forward and pressed a kiss to Jimin’s temple. He flinched when his nose brushed the side of Jimin’s face but was smiling softly when he pulled back. “I love you, Park Jimin,” he said, “Thank you for always taking care of me.”
Jimin shook his head, lips curved up with a fondness that not even the strife of the last six hours could wipe clean. “I love you, too,” He replied and settled the soiled wipes down on the coffee table.
After Jungkook had showered and changed into some clean pyjamas, Jimin propped himself up against the headboard of his bed and spread his legs to make room for Jungkook. “Wanna be the little spoon?” he asked, patting the mattress invitingly. Jungkook jumped at the chance and came to settle under the blankets with his back pressed against Jimin’s chest. He had to keep his head elevated, but Jimin figured a human pillow would still bring Jungkook a little comfort, emotional if nothing else.
“Can I pick the show?” he asked, swiping the television remote out of Jimin’s grasp.
“Oh, so you get to ditch me on date night and come home looking like you’ve gone three rounds with Seokjin, worrying me out of my mind in the process and get to choose what we watch on TV?” Jimin prattled, voice full of faux offence.
“Exactly,” Jungkook grinned, tension leeching from his body as he sank more comfortably into his boyfriend's embrace. Now thoroughly out of hot water, Jungkook clearly felt comfortable reverting to his usual bratty self and Jimin couldn’t help but feel relief. He’d rather deal with a spoiled, TV hogging Jungkook than have to see his love look quite so broken ever again.
So Jimin shook his head, and wrapped his arms around Jungkook’s small waist and contented himself by pressing soft kisses to the back of Jungkook’s neck for the rest of the night.