The cafe was busier than usual for a Thursday afternoon, but there were still a few tables open when Jungkook showed up. He checked his watch and saw he was five minutes early, so he went ahead and ordered two iced Americanos and grabbed a table next to the windows. He faced the doors, watching for the person he was supposed to meet.
Spring was in full swing. The plum blossoms bloomed weeks ago and it was warm enough now for people to be wearing skirts or shorts. The school year had just started and this cafe was on the edge of campus, filled mostly with students, some who were incoming first years like Jungkook and the other seniors who were less enthusiastic about another year of university.
Jungkook sipped at his coffee and checked his phone again. He wondered if he should text and say he was there, but right as he was about to pick up his phone, someone slipped into the seat across from him.
"Am I late?"
"Hyung!" Jungkook grinned. "No, you're right on time."
Yoongi did look like he had rushed a bit to make it. His hair was a little windblown and he drank half of his Americano in a few long sips before slouching back into his seat. "I forget the first couple weeks there's always one overzealous student who has a million questions to ask after everyone else leaves."
"You're shaping young minds," said Jungkook. "One of them could be the future President!"
Yoongi rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'm sure they'll remember to credit me, their assistant professor from PoliSci 101, as the reason why they've come so far."
Jungkook shrugged. "You never know."
Yoongi stared and Jungkook grinned, all teeth. He sat up again and slapped his hand on the table lightly. "What have you been up to? I haven't seen you since you were yay high," he said, holding his hand out just a bit above table height. "Followed me around everywhere."
"Your mom told me to follow you everywhere."
Which she had. Jungkook had been Yoongi's neighbor until his dad had been transferred down to Busan for work just before Jungkook had started grade school. Yoongi was the cool hyung next door, a whole ten years older, but he never acted like he was too good to have a little kid hanging around him. They went to the park on weekends where Jungkook would run around and climb everything and get dirt all over himself while Yoongi parked himself on the bench in the shade to study.
"I want to get into a good school," was all Yoongi would say when Jungkook had asked why he didn't play too. It would be a few years before Jungkook learned why that was important.
But before Jungkook's family had moved, he would be at Yoongi's house all the time. Both his parents worked, and still did, but Yoongi's mom hadn't. So every morning Jungkook's would get dropped off at kindergarten and every afternoon Yoongi's mother would pick him up. Sometimes when his parents worked late, he would stay over for dinner and Yoongi had always been happy to see him.
"I can't believe you recognized me," said Yoongi, pushing his hair back. Jungkook noticed the silver band on his ring finger and vaguely recalled his mom telling him a few years ago, 'Remember Yoongi? He got married.'
"You look almost exactly the same," said Jungkook. "Are you sure you didn't shrink?"
"Watch it," Yoongi said with no bite.
Last week Jungkook had been wandering around the east side of campus trying to find the physics building. His lecture was in fifteen minutes and he didn't want to get stuck in the front row. He hadn't wanted to admit he was lost but he was saved from his embarrassment when someone approached asking where he was going. When Jungkook had looked up, he had been hit by a wave of deja vu and the name "Yoongi-hyung?" had slipped from his mouth on its own.
Once Jungkook said who he was, Yoongi had remembered quickly. They hadn't been able to catch up for more than the five minute walk where Yoongi led them to the building Jungkook was supposed to be at, but it was long enough for Jungkook to find out this was Yoongi's second year as an assistant professor in the Polisci department and for them to exchange numbers.
"Did you ever move?" said Jungkook, his leg jittering under the table.
Yoongi shook his head. "My parents are still in that apartment. They could sell it for a fortune at this point and buy a nice quiet place out in the countryside, but they don't want to deal with sorting through over twenty years of stuff. You guys went to...Busan?"
Jungkook nodded and told him their home just fifteen minutes from the sea and his best friend Jimin who also came to Seoul to audition for the National Ballet Company. He was in the middle of complaining about all the required classes he still had to take when he was interrupted by someone coming up to their table.
"Oh wow. Wow."
Jungkook's mouth curved into a frown and Yoongi looked over his shoulder in confusion. A man about Jungkook's height, maybe slightly taller, stood there and shook his head in disbelief, hand covering his mouth. He was dressed in grey slacks with a plain white t-shirt and on his head perched a yellow beret. He seemed older, maybe a graduate student.
But whoever this man was, he didn't seem to have any sense of physical or social boundaries because he pulled up a chair and took Yoongi's hand without permission. His expression seemed to be one of...shocked admiration? Jungkook really couldn't figure it out. "You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen. Do you believe in love at first sight? Because you are — wow." He did a chef's kiss. "Magnificent."
Yoongi seemed mortified. "What are you do—"
"And who is this?" The man turned toward Jungkook, as if Yoongi hadn't said anything at all. "Please. Don't break my heart and tell me he's your boyfriend."
"What? I — no," said Jungkook, eyes wide and panicked. "We're just—"
"Wonderful!" the man said, letting out a long exhale. He turned his attention back to Yoongi and leaned in, leading Yoongi to shrink back against the wall. As uncomfortable as Jungkook was witnessing this, for a second he had to admit this guy was awfully good-looking, especially when he flicked his hair back and smirked at Yoongi. "Hi," he said, dropping his voice and even laying on a wink, "I'm Kim Taehyung. Your soulmate."
"Seriously, what are you doing?" said Yoongi in a tight voice, glancing around where some of the neighboring tables were looking at them.
"Letting you know that I'm your soulmate and you're mine. Do you like big weddings or small? How do you feel about beach ceremonies? One of my cousins got married in Tuscany and it was lovely, so I'd be open to that too."
"He's already married!" Jungkook blurted out and got two surprised looks in return. Was he not supposed to know? Or say? "I mean, no he's, just. Stop harassing people!"
Taehyung's face grew grim and he sat back, placing a hand over his chest. "Your friend is right. I apologize, that was incredibly rude and invasive of me." He looked at Yoongi's left hand pressed flat on the table. "Ah, are you married?"
"...Yes," said Yoongi, voice flat. Jungkook wondered if he should tell this guy to get lost already. "To—"
Taehyung cut Yoongi off again by sighing loudly and pinched the bridge of his nose, expression pained. "I hope that person knows how lucky they are to have you," he said, holding up a hand dramatically when Yoongi leaned forward. "No, please, let me finish. I hope they tell you how much they appreciate you being in their life and how much brighter you make it. That you're the best thing that's ever happened to them. That every morning they wake up and look over, they can't imagine their world without you. I hope they tell you every day they love you, most ardently, in this lifetime, and every lifetime to come."
Jungkook felt like sinking into a hole of embarrassment from witnessing that confession, his shoulders and jaw tense with how terribly cringeworthy it was. If he felt this grossed out, he didn't know how Yoongi could stand getting the brunt of it. Yoongi didn't look as uncomfortable as earlier, but rather, he seemed...upset? Jungkook couldn't really tell from where he was and the lights were at a bad angle, but Yoongi sort of looked like he was going to cry.
Seeing that made Jungkook's fight or flight mode kick in. He stood up and wedged into the space in front of Taehyung, who had about an inch on him, but Jungkook could still take him if he had to. Luckily though, Taehyung slid his chair back in surprise. "I don't know what your deal is, but leave him alone," said Jungkook, turning around to grab Yoongi's arm. "Let's go, hyung, this guy's a creep."
Jungkook pulled Yoongi up and kept himself in the middle. "Don't follow us," he said, pointing a finger and herding Yoongi toward the door.
"Jungkook, it's fine," said Yoongi, but Jungkook spun around and ushered him out the door.
"See you around, soulmate!" Taehyung said, waving wildly.
Jungkook only stopped once they were at the end of the block and Yoongi pulled his hand away, repeating Jungkook's name.
"You okay?" said Yoongi, smiling a little. "That was an impressive move. I might've swooned if I weren't spoken for already."
Jungkook exhaled sharply and looked at his phone. His class was in fifteen minutes and it was going to take ten to get there. "Hyung, do you want me to walk with you back to your building? I don't trust that guy. He was seriously weird. Who goes up to a stranger and says all that?"
"Ah, no I'm fine. Actually—"
"Do you think we should report him? How many people do you think he's done this to?"
"I don't think very many—"
"I think he really thought those lines were going to work! Soulmate, oh my god." Jungkook gagged and shivered. "Anyway, hyung, are you sure? I don't think my lecture is about anything important today."
Yoongi sighed and shoved Jungkook's arm lightly. "Go. I'm not letting you skip class. I can take care of myself from people who can't resist me. We'll finish catching up some other time."
Jungkook still hesitated and gave in only when Yoongi physically started leading him back toward campus.
"Study hard!" Yoongi yelled once Jungkook was across the street and stood there at least until Jungkook turned the corner out of sight.
After the lecture, because of course Yoongi knew when it ended, Jungkook got a text inviting him over Saturday for dinner. To make up for the interruption, he said, but Jungkook was already on board by the promise of a home-cooked meal.
Maybe he'd meet Yoongi's wife too.
Yoongi's neighborhood was a fifteen minute ride on the metro, south of the river. The sun was just starting to set as Jungkook crossed the bridge and he took a few photos, glad that he brought his camera.
Once off the metro, Jungkook trekked ten minutes up a hill before he arrived at the small building matching the address Yoongi gave him. It was an older building judging by its style, one of those villas with a rooftop studio. Jungkook went up to the second floor apartment and rang the doorbell, sticking his face extra close to the camera just to be annoying.
"Oh my god, has your nose always been that huge?"
"Hyung," Jungkook whined, hopping a couple times. "Let me in, it's cold."
The intercom crackled, then went dead. A few seconds later, the front door swung open. Yoongi held it as Jungkook shuffled past.
"Nice," Jungkook said, nodding at the black apron Yoongi had on. In the center was a cartoon cat with its middle fingers up.
"It was a gift," said Yoongi.
Jungkook glanced quickly around the living room, but immediately noticed there wasn't a giant portrait from Yoongi's wedding day the way most couples had on the wall, front and center. He spun around and held out the bag of clementines he bought on the way. "Here. If my mom found out I didn't bring a gift, she'd kill me."
Yoongi laughed and pointed to the dining table, a modest hand-me-down just big enough for four. "You can put it there," he said, heading back into the kitchen. There was a pot simmering away and Yoongi pulled out a frying pan, setting it atop an open flame while he stirred something in a neighboring bowl. "You still like gamjatang and pajeon, right?"
"Oh my god, yes," said Jungkook as if he'd been starved for days. He went over and peeked over Yoongi's shoulder. "Hyung, when did you get good at cooking?"
"Since my other half would subsist on convenience store lunch boxes if I didn't."
"Oh yeah, is she not home?"
Yoongi poured a thin layer of oil into the pan. "She…?"
"Your wife?" Jungkook said, but he thought that'd been pretty clear.
"About that," said Yoongi, ladling batter in slowly. "She is actually a—"
The front door opening cut Yoongi off. "Hyung! I couldn't remember if you wanted the radish or perilla kimchi so I got both. And cucumber. And fish cakes. You said Jungkook eats anything?"
That voice was familiar. Jungkook turned around, but whoever just walked in was bent over taking off his shoes so Jungkook couldn't see his face. But those shoulders also looked familiar. When mystery man finally stood up and walked into the apartment, Jungkook thought he was hallucinating.
It was the guy from the cafe a few days ago.
"Oh! You're here already."
Jungkook opened his mouth a couple times, but nothing came out. He stared between the guy and Yoongi, head whipping back and forth as if he was watching a tennis rally. Finally, he sputtered, "Hyung!" at Yoongi, eyes wide. "What is this guy doing here?"
"This guy has a name. Taehyung? We met the other day. But I'm older, so you can call me hyung."
Taehyung brought the grocery bags he was carrying over to the kitchen counter, then went over to Yoongi and. And. Jungkook blinked once then spaced out as Taehyung slid his arm around Yoongi's waist and kissed his cheek. "Is he okay?" he said, both of them looking back at Jungkook.
"Jungkook?" said Yoongi.
"Why is your stalker in your home? Why is he…" Jungkook trailed off, his brain still glitching trying to process this information.
"Stalker is certainly one way to refer to someone's husband," said Taehyung, moving away to unload the groceries. He piled onto the counter enough side dishes for a family reunion.
Yoongi seemed defeated, shoulders slumped even lower than their usual slouch. "I thought you knew? My mom told your mom."
"All she said was you got married!"
"I did," Yoongi said, and gesturing like a model on a home shopping channel would a set of crystal dishware, "To Taehyung."
On cue, Taehyung framed his face with his hands and batted his eyelashes. He then wrinkled his nose. "Is something burning?"
"Oh, shit!" Yoongi scurried back to the stove where the pajeon was starting to smoke. He took the pan off the fire and winced as he wedged a pair of chopsticks under the burnt batter. He glared briefly over his shoulder at Taehyung. "I blame you."
"Me?" Taehyung's indignation was the most outraged Jungkook had ever heard. "Over the kid who assumed you married a woman?"
"Hyung dated a girl in middle school!" Jungkook said, face heating up in panic. "And you pretended not to know him!"
Taehyung shrugged. "You got me there. That was fun, though."
Yoongi had tossed the burnt pajeon out and started a new batch, this time staying near the stove. "He has a flair for dramatics," he said, crossing his arms and leaning back against the counter. "And pranks."
"I almost got you weepy though," said Taehyung, going in for a hug, but Yoongi shoved him away and turned his attention back to not burning dinner.
Taehyung laughed, but then his expression softened into a smile as he watched Yoongi work quietly and Jungkook recalled some of the saccharine monologue from the other day, wondering how much of it was even a lie.
"Anyway!" Taehyung clasped his hands together and faced Jungkook. "Childhood neighbor all grown up and protecting my husband from leery strangers. I like you. Keep it up."
"No one else leers at me except you," said Yoongi without even looking.
"Hyung, no! You're a total hot professor."
"Please stop making this weird for Jungkook and set the table."
"Whatever you want."
It was odd, watching the two of them interact. On the surface, Taehyung seemed to be everything which would normally annoy Yoongi. He drew attention to Yoongi and was loud and had trouble staying serious. But even when Yoongi rolled his eyes it was fond. Even when he told Taehyung to shut up, it was while fighting a smile. Even when he rejected Taehyung's embrace, he positioned himself for Taehyung to hug him from behind instead.
As they ate, Jungkook saw more glimpses of how they fit together and how Taehyung, even while telling a very animated story about his research assistant's blind date gone horribly wrong, would place his hand on Yoongi's back or swap the side dishes so the ones Yoongi liked best were closest to him.
Jungkook had questions, of course, about how the two of them had met and what they saw in each other. But his questions weren't important then and there, caught between feeling like a third wheel and odd intrigue at seeing this side of Yoongi who had all his guards down.
Jungkook volunteered to help wash the dishes, but got aggressively turned down. They broke open a bottle of wine instead and Yoongi told embarrassing stories of Jungkook when he was little. The more tipsy Jungkook got, the whinier he was at being exposed, but he also liked that Yoongi remembered all these things about him.
It was almost midnight by the time Jungkook stumbled into the bathroom, two — three? — glasses of wine in him. He was floaty and happy, just having spent the last twenty minutes rambling about photography with Taehyung, who offered to lend him really expensive lenses for him to test out. He peed and washed his hands and thought about how nice Yoongi and Taehyung were.
It was silent when he stepped out and shuffled down the hall. He stopped just out of view when he heard Taehyung's voice, quiet and low enough that he couldn't make out the words. Jungkook peered around to see them still on the couch, but pressed even closer together, as if Yoongi was trying to fuse into Taehyung's side. Taehyung said something else and Yoongi laughed, smiling big and wide, the corners of his eyes wrinkling.
He looked hopelessly in love.
A normal Jungkook was already very susceptible to romantic cliches. A wine-drunk Jungkook absolutely lost it. He sniffled loudly, forgetting he was trying to be inconspicuous.
"Jungkook?" said Yoongi, glancing his way. "Are you okay?"
Jungkook stepped out, wiping at his eyes and feeling all around ridiculous.
"Are you crying?" Taehyung said, alarmed. "What happened?"
"No one is upset over nothing," said Yoongi.
"I'm not upset," said Jungkook, collapsing onto the couch once he was within reach for Yoongi to pull him down. He felt really ridiculous. "I'm just really happy for you guys."
Yoongi shared an amused, but puzzled look with Taehyung. "Thank you?"
"You're just, really in love and it's really gross," said Jungkook. "I'm jealous."
"Did he just compliment or insult us?"
"I don't know, but he's definitely drunk," said Yoongi, taking Jungkook's arm. "Come on, you can stay in the other room tonight. I'll go grab some pajamas for you."
"I'm not drunk," said Jungkook, getting to his feet. "I'm just. Buffering."
Taehyung burst out laughing. "I love this guy," he called after Yoongi.
"No, you love Yoongi-hyung."
"I do love Yoongi-hyung."
"You should marry him then."
"I should marry him," said Taehyung. They went into the guest bedroom and Jungkook flopped onto the single bed. "Do you think he would say yes?"
"Yeah. He loves you too. He's in love with you."
"Wow," said Taehyung, turning to Yoongi when he came in and placed an old t-shirt and sweatpants next to Jungkook. "Are you in love with me? Jungkook says you are."
"No, that's not what you're supposed to ask," said Jungkook, sitting up with a frown. He pointed at Yoongi. "Ask him."
Yoongi stared between them. "Ask me what?"
"This is a lot of pressure, but okay," said Taehyung, who then promptly went down on one knee, taking Yoongi's hands in his. "Yoongi-hyung."
Yoongi laughed. "What is this?"
"You can't laugh, this is a serious moment!" said Taehyung, clearing his throat. "Hyung. Meeting you was the best thing that's ever happened to me. I can't stop smiling when I'm around you. When I'm not around you all I can think about is when I get to see you again. Some mornings I still pinch myself because I can't believe I get to be with you. You're gorgeous and witty and kind and funny and smart like wow when you go on rants about foreign trade policies my heart skips a beat. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want us to have two dogs and a cat. I want — so much with you that I think I'm going to explode with how much I want it because I love you and—"
"Shut up," said Yoongi, covering Taehyung's mouth suddenly. "Just shut up. You had me at 'hyung'."
"That's not yes or no!" said Jungkook, hiccuping.
Yoongi sighed and took his hand away, running it through Taehyung's hair. "I've always said yes to you."
Taehyung stood up and hugged Yoongi, even picking him up and spinning him around. "Jungkook!" he yelled after, grabbing Jungkook's hands and shaking them in the air. "I'm marrying Yoongi-hyung!"
"You're marrying Yoongi-hyung!"
"Okay, okay, the neighbors are going to file a complaint again and then we'll be homeless," said Yoongi, separating the two of them. Taehyung draped his arms over Yoongi's shoulders and hung there like a sloth. "There's extra toothbrushes in the bathroom. Are you okay with cereal for breakfast?"
"Hyung, how did you know I love cereal?" Jungkook said, touched.
"Lucky guess," Yoongi said, messing up Jungkook's hair. "Go wash up. You look like the kind of drunk who spontaneously passes out. Go before you hit your wall."
"I told you I'm not drunk." Jungkook stood up and hugged both of them tightly. "I'm so happy for you guys. Can I come to the wedding?"
"You're going to be the first one invited," Taehyung said, patting Jungkook's head. "Now go before Yoongi-hyung asks twice. He doesn't like that."
Jungkook nodded and shuffled off across the hall. He did almost fall asleep in the middle of brushing his teeth, startling awake when he nearly lost his balance. Down the hall, he could hear the sound of water running and dishes clinking and above it all soft, quiet laughter.
He changed into the clothes Yoongi left him and crawled into bed. The sheets smelled nice and the pillows were fluffy and Jungkook sank into the mattress with a deep satisfaction that came with having done a good deed. He thought about calling his mom to let her know the good news, but Yoongi probably wanted to tell his family first and it was late anyway.
True love couldn't wait, Jungkook made sure of that, but sharing the happily ever after could start tomorrow.