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With You, There's Only Love

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It’s on a Tuesday of no particular importance that Jeongguk makes his first mistake.

 

It’s not often that he pays mind to the thrum of students gathered around the music block’s notice board. Not that he doesn’t care to check it, rather he prefers not to have to push through a throng of people he can easily avoid by opening his email. 

 

But the noise is uncharacteristically loud for eight ‘o’ clock in the morning, excited chatter echoing through the halls as people call for their friends to take a look at whatever’s managed to replace the generic poster that tells them to be mindful of noise pollution when using the open studios. 

 

Jeongguk lingers by the entrance, waiting for the initial buzz to die down before taking a look at it himself. 

 

He’s never understood the hype surrounding the glorification of couples, which is essentially what the colourful text on the bulletin is doing, advertising the annual competition to determine the campus’ best romantically involved duo. That’s not something Jeongguk is sure can be measured objectively, seeing as the ways in which couples work well together are endless. But each year without fail, they amp up the cheesiness and flood the “lovestagram” tag with poorly shot attempts at candid yet romantic moments, desperate to be crowned hypothetical rulers for no real reason other than the satisfaction of being able to say that they won. 

 

He’s about to leave with a roll of his eyes and a pitying sigh for the poor souls that’ll undoubtedly become over-invested in it, when the picture next to the list of previous winners catches his eye. 

 

It’s an American microphone, valued at nearing a thousand dollars and fruitfully advertised as ‘yours if your classmates want it to be!’. It’s a sly tactic to encourage more of those doing musical degrees to enter, and Jeongguk is ashamed to admit that his heart does beat a little faster at the thought of owning such a piece of equipment.

 

He’d be the envy of his hyung, though he wouldn’t hesitate to share its custody. Yoongi would be over the moon to own equipment of such good quality, securing his bragging rights over Namjoon at the dinner table. 

 

But neither of them have a partner as far as he’s aware, and the poster is abundantly clear that the only way to secure the microphone is to convince your peers to slip your name into the box outside the student board’s office labelled “Couple Nominations.” 

 

He sighs, but takes one of the flyers from the table beneath the notice board anyway. Maybe he can pin the photo above his desk as a reminder of what to strive for in the future, assuming his grades don’t drop and he lands himself a well paid job that can justify spending that much money on one piece of equipment.

 

“We all know you’re single, Jeon,” someone calls as they pass, startling him out of his thoughts. “Unless you’ve quietly been dating that Min guy all this time, there’s no point in even breathing near that flyer!”

 

It’s an off-hand comment meant to get some kind of (vastly unnecessary) confirmation that he’s available for having numbers in place of lettuce in his sandwich. The kind of comment that he’s prone to ignoring and forgetting about as quickly as said numbers, which he drops into the trash on his way out of the cafeteria. He’s not against dating by any means, but he is against people trying to get him to agree to go out with them just to say that they’ve managed to do it.

 

But this comment in particular strikes something unfamiliar in him, lingering in the back of his mind as he turns away from the board to try and put a face to the voice. 

 

He thinks about it as he makes his way to his seat in the lecture hall, close enough to hear clearly but far enough for it not to be noticeable if he’s not paying full attention. He fades into the white noise of people chatting, before their lecturer arrives and holds his focus for a good five minutes. And then he thinks about it again, doodling in the margins of his notebook - tiny question marks posing a big what if? 

 

He thinks about it with every glance at the clock, the minute hand seemingly immobile with the frequency of his gaze. 

 

And he thinks about it when the lecture finally comes to an end, when he finds himself hovering in front of the notice board and it’s stupid posters once again.

 

Dating that Min guy. 

 

There’s never been anything more than platonic companionship between them, but he’d spent the better part of the past three hours pondering the likelihood of he and Yoongi being a believable couple. 

 

There’s an expensive chunk of metal and wires silently begging him to take it home, and putting in the effort to make it seem a little more like he and Yoongi are an item in order to do so doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

 

If people he barely knows outside of facial recognition around the block already have their suspicions about the two of them, it’s a heaven-sent convenience of a fool-proof plan. 

 

Assuming that Yoongi would like to play along, that is.

 

Jeongguk spins his phone in one hand as he exits the building, not biting on the raised eyebrows sent his way in response to the flyer tucked beneath his elbow. He’d picked up another in case Yoongi wanted to look at it before agreeing to anything, often one to actually read the small print to avoid signing up for scams. Jeongguk doubts it’s a scam though - the student board would never live it down if whoever won never received their prize, and they’d always pulled through in previous years.

 

Yoongi’s contact is pulled up on his screen, and Jeongguk is hoping that his thumb accidentally landing on call with each spin will give him the courage to put forward his pitch. 

 

It doesn’t. 

 

By the time he reaches his shared living space, throwing his bag in a corner for the time being while he has other priorities, he’s swiping manually, anxiously tapping his foot in time with the dial tone. 

 

Yoongi picks up on the first ring and Jeongguk doesn’t know if he’s disappointed or relieved.  “Hyung,” he says, before the other can speak, phone pressed snug against his ear with one hand, the now rumpled flyer clutched tightly in the other. “I need you to fake date me.”  

 

There’s a confused grunt on the other end of the line. “And why’s that, Bun?” 

 

Jeongguk studies the words once again, just to confirm that what he’d read the first few times hadn’t, in fact, been the result of over-tired wishful thinking. “You know the competition the student council puts on for couples at the end of the year?” Jeongguk asks, skimming over the parts that provide instruction on how to enter. “This year’s prize is one of the highest rated mics in America, the kind that you don’t find in stores here.” 

 

He gets a low whistle in response. “No catch?” 

 

“The catch is you have to convince everyone that we’re hopelessly in love.” 

 

“Why me, though?” Yoongi asks. “You could have anyone falling at your feet. I guarantee you’ll sit down to another number scrawled on the back of your coffee cup at lunch.” 

 

Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “What I could do and what I want to do are two separate things.” 

 

“So you’d rather use me for your own gain than seek a genuine connection with someone? I’m really feeling the love, Bun.” 

 

“The prize would be extremely beneficial to both of us,” he replies, and though Jeongguk can’t physically see Yoongi, he can picture the pout gracing his features as he mulls it over. 

 

Yoongi laughs softly, a breathy sound that has Jeongguk’s cheeks lifting in response. “Maybe start with that next time.” 

 

“I’m not out to make it a regular occurrence, hyung, I just want that mic.”  

 

“I gathered. Luckily, you have an adoring best friend who may be willing to help you get it.” 

 

“I think Taehyung will have something to say about you claiming his title like that.”

 

Yoongi scoffs into the receiver, and Jeongguk knows he’s rolling his eyes to accompany it. “Why don’t you ask him to date you instead, then?”

 

“I don’t know, hyung, it’s not like he’s made it abundantly clear to everyone on campus that he’s head over heels for Hobi-hyung or anything.” 

 

He supposes he could make up something elaborate about him and Taehyung coming to a mutual realisation that they’re both in love with the dance major and are deciding to see how they’ll work as a trio, but it’s too unexpected from someone like Jeongguk. Yoongi has been the constant throughout his university life. He’s never seen too far without Jeongguk in tow, unless he’s attending to more private matters that Jeongguk wants no part in knowing the ins and outs of. 

 

“So, I’m also your last resort? You’re a real charmer, Jeon Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, but there’s a playful lilt to his voice that Jeongguk knows means he’s not really taking offence.

 

“Actually, you were my first choice,” Jeongguk replies. Using the favourite hyung tactic is yet to fail him. “Winning it for us both was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the flyer. I know how many nights you’ve spent window shopping online, drooling over mics like that, hyung. Think about it - my voice and your skills combined with a high end piece of equipment, acing this year’s final project with superior sound quality.”

 

“I’m flattered that you acknowledge my skills for what they are, but you don’t have to butter me up to try and talk me into something.”

 

“So, you’ll do it?”

 

“Send me a copy of the flyer and I’ll consider it.”

 

“You’re the best, hyung.”

 

“I’m not promising anything,” Yoongi says, entirely serious. “Dating someone, even if it’s just for show - it’s a lot to commit to, and I’m not sure you know exactly what you’re asking of me, Gguk.” 

 

Admittedly, the decision to call Yoongi had been impulsive - a spur of the moment thing caused by obvious materialism. And maybe, amidst the time he’d spent contemplating, he hadn’t stopped to fully think about the fact that asking one of his closest friends to date him, even unofficially, would come with more than just a label and the odd over the top heart eyes across the hall. But he knows what he’s asking for. “I’m asking you to pretend to be my boyfriend long enough to convince the student board that they should give us the mic,” he says, looking at the badly printed photo on the flyer. 

 

“You know that’s not what I mean,” Yoongi replies. “It has to seem authentic, right? That means a whole lot more than just saying that we’re together. We have to find a happy medium between Tae and Hobi’s level of PDA and the over the top couples that suck each other’s faces in public. Is a microphone that we could save up and combine funds to buy ourselves really worth all that?”

 

“We’re going to be saving for the rest of our lives for one as good as that, hyung,” Jeongguk says. “If you don’t think you’ll be able to even pretend to be attracted to me, it’s no big deal. Guess I’ll just have to kiss my dreams of a successful career goodbye.” 

 

Guilt tripping is not his preferred method of persuasion, but needs must and Yoongi is too much of a sap to account for the fact that Jeongguk is just being melodramatic. 

 

“That’s not it, Gguk-ah. I just want to know that you’re aware of what you’re asking for involves and that you’re comfortable with it. Think about it - What if you start “dating” me, we convince everyone that we’re so in love we’re likely to get married in the future, and then the man of your dreams seeks you out to confess? You can’t sleep with anyone in case they run their mouth to the wrong person and paint you as a cheater. You’re stuck with a lie to uphold.” 

 

Jeongguk can’t see that happening any time soon. As far as he’s aware, the man of his dreams is yet to exist - he has no conscious attraction to a particular type, always dodging the questions surrounding such a thing because he simply doesn’t know. As for having to avoid sleeping with people - that’s hardly a problem. He hasn’t been with anyone save for his hand in months. 

 

“I appreciate your concern, hyung, but those things don’t faze me,” he says, shifting his phone to the opposite ear. “I’m comfortable pretending to be your boyfriend, if you’re comfortable pretending to be mine.” 

 

Yoongi laughs, big and throaty this time. “That has to be the most unromantic cliché I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.” 

 

“As you said, I’m quite the charmer,” Jeongguk says, sparing the microphone one last glance before trudging over to the fridge and tacking the flyer there with the only magnet they seem to own. A small, black cat with one paw curled so it looks like it’s waving. It was the first personal touch they’d added to the apartment, what with Taehyung trudging around the furniture store with it stuck to the handle of the trolley, insisting on bringing it home because “it looks so much like Yoongi-hyung, Gguk, we have to!”

 

Yoongi is rather fond of it, even if he doesn’t care to admit it.

 

“I’ve even left the notice on the fridge under your favourite magnet.” 

 

“Poster boyfriend, I’m sure,” Yoongi replies.

 

“Then date me.” It’s strange, uttering words with such heavy weight for something make believe. Maybe he should feel at least a little remorseful about it - about this whole thing.

 

“I said I’ll think about it.”

 

Jeongguk is left listening to the incessant beep of the line in use reminder as Yoongi hangs up, boring holes into the poor cat.

 

Yoongi could be his boyfriend by tonight, and there’s nothing remotely uncomfortable about the thought. Having spent the majority of his twenty-two years with the elder in his life, he comes to the conclusion that his impassivity is merely the result of having known Yoongi long enough to trust that he won’t push past more than hand holding and an arm around his waist, despite what he says.

 

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but he swears the cat narrows its eyes into a sharp glare the longer he stares at it, effectively labelling him a liar. 

 

He glares right back. 

 

And that’s how Taehyung finds him, pausing as he removes his shoes to raise a questioning eyebrow. 

 

“Can I ask what the fridge has done to offend you today?” 

 

Jeongguk blinks, finally moving his gaze from the magnet to look at Taehyung, and before he registers what he’s doing, “I’m possibly fake dating Yoongi-hyung” falls from his mouth.

 

Taehyung mutters a quiet “ oh?”, giving Jeongguk leeway to explain that the flyer is the reason he’s stood in the middle of their kitchen glaring at their refrigerator, and not because he believes that an inanimate cat thinks he’s a fool.

 

“We’re going to enter the couples competition,” he says, moving aside so that Taehyung can read for himself. 

 

“There’s a motive, right?” Taehyung asks, sounding as though he’s not exactly sure if there will be and Jeongguk frowns. 

 

“One of the highest rated microphones, coming from America.” 

 

“And that’s all?” 

 

“Should there be another reason?” Jeongguk questions, eyebrows knit tight as he tries to comprehend why Taehyung would ask something that’s already obvious. 

 

Taehyung shrugs, but Jeongguk gets the sense that there’s something he isn’t saying. “Not if you don’t want there to be.” 

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

 

“Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?” Taehyung asks, turning to face him. 

 

“Yes?” His silent conversation with the cat was more straightforward than whatever this is.

 

He’s no stranger to Taehyung speaking in riddles, but this time it feels like he’s being left out of a loop that he has no idea how to step into. Sure enough, announcing that he’s going to fake date one of his best friend’s best friends isn’t the most conventional thing to hear, but they’ve all had their fair share of potentially regrettable ideas and it’s to be expected without question by now.

 

“Ten thousand won that you’re absolutely not,” Taehyung says, smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. 

 

Jeongguk rolls his eyes. He’s not even sure he possesses ten thousand won. “Did you speak to him before you came here with the intention of plotting something against me? He’s not going to do something gross like shove his tongue in my ear, right?” 

 

The smirk turns into a grimace. “That’s a visual I absolutely did not need, but no, Gguk. I think that you’ll realise eventually.” 

 

“Realise what?” 

 

“How is a realisation a realisation if you’re not the one to figure it out?” 

 

That’s more like the kind of riddle he’s used to.

 

“Do you think it’s a bad idea?” 

 

“To stick your tongue in someone’s ear? I wouldn’t say bad, just extremely questionable.” 

 

“I meant me and Yoongi-hyung.” 

 

“Depends in which context you’re referring to,” Taehyung says, patting him on the shoulder. “Do I think you two are a bad idea? No. Do I think it’s a bad idea to tease yourself by pretending to date him? Yes.” 

 

Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. He’s not sure what Taehyung means by that. If it’s the worry that a pretend relationship will leave him pining for a real one, then his concern is unnecessary. There’s bound to be at least one person he could see himself falling for, even if he has to get the others to introduce him to their friends so he can expand his social circle. “Fake dating doesn’t mean I’ll become an inconsolable mess over not having a real relationship, hyung. I know where my head’s at, and it’s currently telling me that the real love of my life is waiting for me in the student board’s office.” 

 

“And how does Yoongi-hyung feel about his faux boyfriend loving and leaving him for a man made out of money?” Taehyung asks, giving the flyer another once over. 

 

It’s a valid question. How does Yoongi feel?

 

Jeongguk feels like an idiot. Yoongi’s concerns for his feelings were probably a reflection of his own. 

 

Jeongguk sighs, resting his forehead against the fridge. “I’m so stupid.” 

 

Taehyung blinks at him, waiting for him to go on. 

 

“I just went ahead and assumed that he wouldn’t say no. The mic is too much of a steal to pass up, you know? But when we were on the phone, he was asking if I was worried about the sacrifices I’d have to make and it didn’t even occur to me that maybe he was asking because he’s not willing to make them,” Jeongguk explains, cursing at the cat in his peripheral. “Which is fine, I don’t want to force him into anything, but I should’ve at least thought about that instead of being an asshole.” 

 

“You’re not an asshole, Gguk. If Yoongi doesn’t want to do something, he either ignores the plan or shuts it down straight away and I’m guessing he didn’t. He probably just needs time to comprehend the fact that you actually asked him out.” 

 

“He’s been asked out plenty of times before, though.” 

 

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “If he says no, then I owe you the ten thousand won I was planning on filling my pocket with.”

 

Jeongguk hates that the cat has the audacity to laugh when the thought of Yoongi not wanting to date him brings back the odd something that he’d felt after hearing the comment in the music block earlier. It’s unsettling.

 

He steps away from the fridge, extending his hand towards Taehyung. “Sounds like a deal.”

 

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:00PM

 

?Have you thought about it yet 

 

It hasn’t been long since their phone call, but Jeongguk can’t shift the uncomfortable feeling he’s since identified as anticipation turning his stomach. He should’ve sought the advice of Namjoon, who probably would have helped him to realise that no, Jeongguk, pretending that your best friend is your boyfriend for the sake of winning a competition is not a sensible idea, before he’d called.

 

Despite Taehyung’s reassurances, he has half a mind to text Yoongi and tell him he’s re-thought the whole thing. That he knows he’s right and he’s been a little selfish to not consider the fact that maybe Yoongi doesn’t want to give up the possibility of finding the man of his dreams, when all Jeongguk feels about the situation is a whole lot of nothing.  

 

But he doesn’t.

 

Jeongguk sits with the chat box open, waiting for the appearance of the infamous three dotted bubble. 

 

It comes five minutes later, when he’s locked and unlocked his phone enough times for the battery to have lowered a good ten percent.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:05 PM 

 

Are you always this desperate?

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:06 PM

 

Only for you, hyungie.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:07 PM

 

In which case, the answer is no. 

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:08 PM

 

:(((((

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:07 PM

 

Quit pouting and get your lunch.

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:08 PM

 

How can I eat with the potential answer to such a burning question playing on my mind?

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:09 PM

 

You pick up your chopsticks, grab a piece of food, put it in your mouth and chew. 

Wild, right?

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:09 PM

 

You’re the worst yet to be fake boyfriend I’ve ever had.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:10 PM

 

Thanks, Bun

The feeling is mutual.

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:10 PM

 

Would showing you the flyer assist in your thought process?

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:10 PM

 

Would having a little patience do you any harm?

You haven’t been this whiny since that time in first year when you failed to get that plushie from the claw machine, so you begged me to win it for you.

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:11 PM

 

As if that’s not one of your fondest memories!

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:11 PM

 

Hmm, I can’t lie and say that you’re wrong.

 

Jeongguk knows he’s not wrong because it’s one of his fondest memories too.

 

In the days before they’d been weighed down with assignments, they’d had more time to visit places like Lotte World. Jeongguk would drag Yoongi by the hand, so they wouldn’t end up lost among a sea of people and Yoongi would laugh and tell him that he didn’t need an excuse to hold it. They’d stuff their faces with something sweet and lose coins to the claw machines right into the later evening hours.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

You know what, Bun? You win.

I’ll do it.

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

For real?

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

No.

Obviously I’m lying to you.

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

Just checking.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

I’ll date you.

Fake date you, whatever...

Okay?

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

Thanks, hyungie :D

You coming home for lunch? Taehyungie-hyung is buying bulgogi.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

I suppose I shouldn’t deny you the right to eat with your boyfriend, hmm?

 

To: Dumpling Hyung 

Sent: 1:15 PM

 

I’m gonna pretend I didn’t cringe at that...

 

Jeongguk sighs, sparing the chat one last glance before locking his phone and chucking it aimlessly towards the foot of his bed. He wonders if there are any other couples that enter the competition without really being a couple at all. In a university of around twenty eight thousand people, the likelihood doesn’t actually seem all that slim. If there have been in previous years, it’s never been obvious. Though he supposes it’s not easy to tell the real couples from the fake among all the dramatics. They’ve mastered an art he’s not even sure where to begin with. 

 

It’s not that he doesn’t know how it should work, they only need to act as regular couples do - rather he’s not sure how he and Yoongi are going to work together.  It’s not like being affectionate is out of the ordinary for them. The sessions they set aside for finalising projects in the studio had more often than not resulted in Jeongguk carding his fingers through Yoongi’s hair, where he’d ungraciously flopped across his thighs until he’d fallen asleep. But there’s the lingering worry that trying anything that pushes past the boundaries of platonic is going to seem awkward and staged.

 

They aren’t the Kim Seokjins of the world, winning people over with cleverly constructed acting. In fact, he’ll likely be the hardest to convince because although Yoongi and Jeongguk may seem as though they could easily be a couple to those who barely know them, an acting major who’s known them for years will see straight through them.

 

Not that they’re going to keep it under wraps, at least Jeongguk doesn’t think they should. That’s another thing he’ll have to ask Yoongi’s opinion on, but as far as he’s concerned, there’s no point in trying to conceal something blatantly unconcealable.

 

“Gguk, stop moping and help me eat all this,” Taehyung calls from the hall, lightly wrapping his knuckles against Jeongguk’s door. 

 

“I’m not moping, just thinking,” Jeongguk replies as he pads across the room, pocketing his phone before he leaves. 

 

Yoongi said he’d join them, but there’s been multiple occasions in which Jeongguk has waited, only for Yoongi to call and tell him that Namjoon wants to add an extra this or that to a song and “yes, don’t worry, he’s bought takeout with him.” 

 

Jeongguk had quickly learnt that Yoongi only does it when there’s a point of confrontation that he’s trying to avoid, and now seems strangely fitting as one of those times.

 

“Think any harder and your eyebrows will stay like that,” Taehyung says as Jeongguk opens the door, flicking him square in the forehead. “I know we have a bet going, but I promise you’ll be keeping your ten thousand.” 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head. “It’s not that. I’m just wondering if we’ll be as convincing as I’d like to hope.” 

 

Taehyung laughs but Jeongguk doesn’t understand how it’s funny. “I’m sure you’ll be just fine, Gguk.” 

 

Taehyung is right, his eyebrows do stay where they are as Jeongguk follows him to the coffee come makeshift dining table. 

 

And they stay where they are when Taehyung starts laughing even harder, sliding one of the plastic bowls towards him. 

 

“Who’d have thought that possibly dating Yoongi-hyung would have you this broody. I can’t believe you’re actually pouting right now.” 

 

“I’m not pouting!” 

 

“He says whilst pouting. Honestly, Gguk, what is it that’s worrying you? Guilty conscience? Fear of hyung being a terrible boyfriend and forgetting your birthday?” Taehyung asks, piling beef onto Jeongguk’s plate when he doesn’t move. 

 

Jeongguk sighs. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just worried that we’ll make a stiff couple? There’s a difference between easily being affectionate with your friends and easily being affectionate with your friends when you know you’re supposed to be making it look like you’re together.” 

 

“As I said, I think you’ll be just fine. Love that you’re worried about not appearing real enough instead of the fact that you’re scamming the student board, though.” 

 

Jeongguk scoffs, separating his chopsticks. “As if you wouldn’t do the same.” 

 

“Oh, absolutely,” Taehyung replies. “If that mic was a set of acrylic paints, I’d be begging Hobi-hyung to date me.” 

 

“That’s something you’ve not done already?” Jeongguk jokes, revelling in the blush that adorns Taehyung’s cheeks as a result. 

 

Taehyung opens his mouth to reply, but is cut off by the trill of Jeongguk’s phone. He sighs as he retrieves it from his pocket, preparing himself for a possible excuse. 

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 1:45 PM

 

On the way up. Don’t let the beef get cold.

 

“Hyung will be here in approximately thirty seconds,” Jeongguk says.

 

“Mm, I can tell,” Taehyung replies around a mouthful. “Your eyebrows have returned to their natural state.” 

 

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, though Yoongi choosing not to stay holed up in one of the tiny open studios for fear of having to speak to Jeongguk about this whole thing face to face does set his mind a little more at ease. 

 

He’s back to the same calm yet unexplainable nothingness when he hears the tell-tale click of Yoongi’s card sliding through the lock mechanism. 

 

His stomach twists with anticipation and he swears can hear the cat laughing at him again. 

 

“Were you serious about what you said earlier?” Jeongguk asks quietly, as Yoongi takes a seat on the floor beside him.

 

May as well start off in the deep end.

 

Yoongi gives a subtle nod, already shovelling beef into his mouth. 

 

“So, we’re sort of dating now?” Jeongguk asks even more quietly, using the need to reach for the dish of rice as an excuse to shuffle a little closer, not wanting to risk Taehyung overhearing just yet. He’s not sure how much Yoongi wants him to know.

 

“I guess we are,” Yoongi replies. 

 

“Are you sure you want to? I was thinking about it and I don’t want you to feel like you have to just to get me to be quiet. It’s a big commitment for you too and I don’t want to hold you back from pursuing a potential love interest or anything.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head. “My only love interest is my music, Bun.”

 

“So you do want the mic.”

 

“I never said I didn’t. I just don’t think the way we’re going about getting it is entirely ethical is all.”

 

“How else do you suggest we get it?” Jeongguk asks, picking a piece of beef from Yoongi’s plate. “We’re officially partners in crime now, hyung.”

 

Yoongi shrugs, close enough for his shoulder to bump against Jeongguk beside him. It should feel different - awkward even, now that they’re technically more than friends. But the gentle weight of Yoongi’s shoulder blade against his chest is hardly unusual. 

 

Yoongi is affectionate by nature, seeking out the warmth of whoever happens to be close to him through subtle gestures - his hand resting palm side up on the table, a shoulder casually knocking against a rib every so often until he gets an arm wrapped around them, sweet words rolling off his tongue amidst a different conversation. And given that they’re pursuing the same career path, it usually ends up being Jeongguk on the receiving end. 

 

Yoongi had said that they needed to find a happy medium when it comes to PDA, but now that he thinks about it, Jeongguk’s pretty sure they’ve done just that for the past few years - even if it doesn’t quite count for the same when it’s platonic. 

 

“Back to Earth, Bun,” Yoongi says then, breaking Jeongguk’s reverie with a flick to the forehead. “Don’t get too lost in the imaginary life of crime.” 

 

“Anything I can get in on?” Taehyung asks from beside them, chopsticks poised mid air, as he speaks more than eats. 

 

“I’ll tell you later,” Jeongguk replies.

 

“No, it’s okay. Tell him now,” Yoongi cuts in. “He should know, seeing as he lives with us.” 

 

Taehyung looks at them expectantly. 

 

“This might come as a surprise to you but we - er, we’re together now,” Yoongi says for him, bumping Jeongguk’s shoulder again.

 

“On the contrary,” Taehyung replies, a subtle smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “I’m not surprised at all.” 

 

Yoongi’s cheeks darken, but Jeongguk shoots Taehyung a glare. 

 

Taehyung’s smirk just gets wider. “Jeongguk was spilling his worries about you possibly rejecting him to me all afternoon. Poor thing looked like a kicked puppy.” 

 

“Is that so?” Yoongi asks, turning to face him. 

 

Jeongguk halts, caught in the headlights. 

 

“You really thought I’d say no to dating someone like you? Don’t be silly, Gguk-ah.” 

 

“See, that’s exactly what I said, hyung,” Taehyung says, making a point with the aid of his hands. “I don’t blame him, though. It’s only natural to worry.” 

 

Yoongi is still looking at him.

 

Jeongguk avoids his eye by reaching for the last piece of beef on Taehyung’s plate. 

 

“Anyway, I have a lecture soon, so I should get going. I’ll leave you to discuss coupley things, but if you taint any of this furniture, I will have you evicted,” Taehyung grins as Jeongguk sends him another glare. 

 

“Were you seriously worrying about it?” Yoongi asks when the door swings shut behind Taehyung. 

 

Jeongguk nods, still avoiding his gaze. “I was - am also worried that we’ll seem too forced. What if we both try to initiate something at the same time, and then everything is far too over the top, you know?” 

 

“That’s why we discuss it beforehand,” Yoongi says, pulling him into a one armed hug. “You didn’t think we were just going to wing our way through it, right?” 

 

“I don’t know, hyung. I may have suggested it, but it’s not like I’ve pretended to date someone before.”

 

Yoongi nods in understanding. “Then we make a list outlining everything we’re okay with and everything we’re not, what we’re expecting from each other etc.”

 

“We’re dating, not going into a BDSM scene.”

 

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “Will that be on your list?”

 

Jeongguk flushes furiously, sending one of the container’s plastic lids in Yoongi’s direction. 

 

“I’ll take that as a no.”

 

“Emphasis on the pretending, hyung. Why would we need to -”

 

“It’s a joke, Gguk-ah,” Yoongi says, crow’s feet appearing at the corners of his eyes as he tries not to laugh. “But that’s exactly the kind of thing you should write down, tell me what your limits are.” 

 

“I am not sharing my kinks with you, hyung. We haven’t even been on our first date.” 

 

Yoongi does laugh this time. “I didn’t mean those kind of limits, but if it makes you feel any better, I won’t be sharing mine either.” 

 

Jeongguk has known Yoongi too long to feel embarrassed about silly misinterpretations, instead he says “Your only kink is being showered in love, hyung, there’s not exactly much to share.” 

 

“Touché.” 

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

After much contemplation, having sat in the same spot since lunch and nursing a leg cramp, Jeongguk’s list is comprised of a grand total of four things.

 

#1 Participate in “lovestagram”:

If we can convince the others to take ‘candid’ photos of us doing lovey-dovey things and post them on Instagram, it boosts our audiences, therefore boosting our chances of winning. Some people have gone extremely over the top in the past few years, and personally, I’m okay with being showered in gifts and expensive food but that’s entirely up to you, hyungie.

Maybe do some research (in other words, screenshot the good ones so we have a point of reference) in the tag itself.  

O: Holding hands at the table, sharing the same straw, snuggling on the couch, surprises.

X: TBD ?

 

#2 Kissing:

Most couples tend to kiss, and we have to make it believable. Again, some people go way too over the top but I’d like to keep it tasteful.

O: Cheek kisses, light pecks, occasional ‘proper’ kisses around the hyungs (no longer than three seconds !!)

X: Eating each other’s faces. Tongues. Don’t bite my lips or we’ll have issues.

 

#3 Hand holding:

I know how much you love hand holding and honestly, same. Just go for it, hyung, there’s no limits when it comes to this. 

O: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

X: No nail picking.

 

#4 Keep it PG:

Self-explanatory, really.

O: Regular couple activity.

X: Sexy stuff.

 

He slides it over to Yoongi, who’s since moved to Taehyung’s empty seat, giving him more space to write out his own list. 

 

He’d insisted upon handwriting them because that way they can’t accidentally be deleted. Jeongguk had countered that though they can’t be deleted, they can most definitely be lost, to which Yoongi had just rolled his eyes with a sigh and handed him a notepad. 

 

Yoongi’s pen pauses mid sentence, eyebrow raised as he looks at the paper and then at Jeongguk. “You’re finished already?” 

 

“I’m a simple man, hyung,” Jeongguk replies, leaning across the table to try and see how much Yoongi has written, but the other curls an elbow around the top of his paper, like they used to do in school when trying to stop the cheaters from copying their work.

 

Jeongguk’s not really sure what more he could have written - there are so many aspects to dating that he can’t think of off the top of his head. It makes more sense to start small and update it as he goes. Yoongi has more experience than him, he probably already knows exactly what he’s looking for in a relationship. 

 

Not that that’s what this is. This is different, for sure. What he wants from something artificial and what he wants from something real are likely two entirely separate lists. 

 

Jeongguk watches him write for a while, pen caught between his teeth as he tries to take inspiration from seeing Yoongi work so diligently at outlining his boundaries. Instead, he gets distracted by the soft pout pulling Yoongi’s bottom lip in front of the top as he concentrates, murmuring under his breath to no one in particular.

 

Maybe it’s the whole dating thing coming into effect, but something about it makes Jeongguk’s nose wrinkle as he tries to fight a smile. 

 

Yoongi would laugh at him if he noticed.

 

“You’re not writing a song right now, are you?” Jeongguk teases.

 

“It’s really not as long as you seem to think. I’m just making sure I’m covering everything,” Yoongi replies.

 

“Can I see it yet?”

 

Yoongi rolls his eyes again. “Fine, but it’s not finished.”

 

#1 Pictures: 

Couples generally tend to have an album in their camera roll dedicated to their partner. Take as many pics of me as you want, but show me before you keep them. I’m not letting you store them as meme material after last time.

(Jeongguk may or may not have sent a plethora of photos at Yoongi’s most unflattering angles to the group chat.)

In turn, please let me take pics of you. Maybe I’ll make one my lockscreen, idk.

 

#2 Kissing:

Not too fazed about this. Most people don’t care if you kiss in public or not, as in they’re not going to think we’re fake if we don’t have our tongues down each other’s throats. Those that don’t show much PDA are just labelled as cutesy and shy. Maybe that’s what we should aim for.

 

#3 Hand holding:

We do this already, but I’d like to note that you are now hereby obligated to hold my hand 24/7. Thank you very much.

 

#4 Warnings:

Please warn me before you plan on doing something. I know that surprises make things seem more authentic, but I’d like us to be on the same page so there’s no accidental negative reactions. (Not that there will be.)  

 

#5 Exploration:

I’m open to trying out different coupley things. Let’s wear jumpers of the same colour or buy matching phone cases. If we don’t like it, that’s fine. If we do, then we amp it to the max.

 

#6 Hugs:

Side hugs, back hugs, lap hugs, regular hugs. I am down for every kind of hug. Especially the kind of back hug that’s around the shoulders, that shit’s real cute. But only if you’re comfortable.

 

“You’re such a softie, hyung,” Jeongguk says, handing the list back with a grin. 

 

That’s nothing he didn’t already know, but to see the evidence in Yoongi’s small albeit slightly scruffy font is oddly endearing. 

 

“I haven’t gotten to the nitty gritty bits yet, that’s all,” Yoongi replies, immediately scribbling something beneath number seven.

 

“As long as you’re not expecting me to participate in an orgy or something, then I’m fine.”

 

Yoongi laughs, cursing at himself when ink smudges across what he’s already written. “I can assure you that nothing of the sort is going to happen, and I would never expect you to do anything. I want you to be comfortable, yeah? Make your own decisions - don’t feel like you have to do something just ‘cause I want you to.” 

 

Jeongguk nods.

 

He already knows Yoongi will treat him right.

 

He wants to treat Yoongi right too.  

 

Theoretically. 

 

Chapter Text

The next person they decide to reveal their newfound relationship to is Jimin. Firstly, because he’s in love with the idea of love, always gushing over how adorable couples on the internet or in the latest drama he’s watching are and secondly, because he’s majoring in photography and has all the right equipment to make their “lovestagram” photos rival those taken professionally. 

 

“So, let me get this straight…” Jimin says, pushing his glasses up his nose as he brings Jeongguk’s phone closer to his face to see what’s on the screen. It’s a Pinterest board, full of extremely staged photos of couples brandishing “new couple” banners and heart shaped balloons. “You want me to replicate something like this?” He clicks on one of the photos to enlarge it; a couple beaming at one another, holding a string of bunting between them that reads “We’re together!”. 

 

Jeongguk leans over Jimin’s shoulder to look, studying the photo carefully before nodding in approval. “Maybe not quite like that. We want it to be a little more… Us…”

 

Jimin nods, minimising the picture to go back to scrolling through the board, screenshotting the ones he likes best to send to himself for inspiration. “So, what I’m hearing is no pastel colours, just varying shades of grey and black,” he says, cheeks bunching considerably as he grins at them cheekily. 

 

“I’m not opposed to pastels, but I can’t say I’m partial to vibrant colours. All this red and orange?” Yoongi says from Jimin’s other side, gesturing vaguely to the screen in front of them. “That’s not my style and people know that. They’d probably find it odd.” 

 

“Don’t worry, hyungie. I’ll make it look good, promise,” Jimin replies, clicking away from Pinterest to open up his chat with Jeongguk on Kakaotalk. “I’ll leave you in charge of gathering the accessories, though. I’m just here for the technicals.” 

 

“Oh, hyung! What if we get a blow up piano and you pretend to play me a love song?” Jeongguk suggests, making a mental note to write that down later. “Nothing says romance like music majors that fell for each other, brought together by their shared passion.” 

 

“Why would it need to be inflatable? I own a real piano, Gguk-ah. We can just use that,” Yoongi says, sinking into the sofa cushion now that he no longer needs to look at the screen. “I think it will be more romantic for me to play you a real song. That way, your reaction will be more candid.” 

 

“Yeah, you own a real piano back home in Daegu. We need something that’s accessible here,” Jeongguk replies, stretching his legs across the expanse of both laps. “We can’t use the ones on campus, the interior of the studios is an eye sore.” 

 

“That idea is perfect though,” Jimin muses, turning to face Jeongguk with the kind of smile that tells him he’s already lost this fight. There’ll be no inflatable pianos appearing on his feed any time soon. “I’m thinking the kind of piano that rests against the wall. You two sat in front of it, smiling at each other whilst you play together, with a huge “new couple” banner hanging above it.” 

 

Yoongi nods, patting Jeongguk’s ankle. “I like that a lot, actually, it’ll tie right in with my feed. What about you, Bun?” 

 

Jeongguk makes a noise of agreement, eyes wandering to the fridge, where the cat still taunts him. “Do aesthetics really matter when it comes to love?” He asks, narrowing his eyes at the cat before returning his attention to the sofa. “I want our celebratory photos to be pretty, of course, but what about our spontaneous selfies? What about the photos of me cuddling with your Kumamon plushies in the middle of the night that are just so cute that you have to share them? Do they not deserve a place on your feed?” 

 

He juts his lips out in what he knows resembles an upside down heart shape, trying his best to make his feelings for Yoongi seem believable every so often. If they chat like they usually do, the others may grow suspicious at how they seem to be lacking the feelings that come with that sweet period of time when everything about each other is addictive, making it hard for them to be apart. 

 

It’s out of character for Jeongguk, he knows that, Yoongi knows that, hell, even Jimin is probably thinking that he’s acting a little strange. But he wants them to closely resemble the other couples on campus, overly lovey-dovey until the novelty wears off and they’re stuck dealing with each other’s stress related outbursts during exam season. 

 

“Who says you’re not the central focus of my feed, mm?” Yoongi asks in return, leaning around Jimin to look at him. He pats Jeongguk’s ankle again. “Now that we’re official and I don’t have to be shy about taking photos of you, you’re going to appear much more often. I’ll be sure to let the entirety of the campus know exactly who my heart belongs to.”

 

Jimin wrinkles his nose. “I never thought I would hear two of my best friends talking about each other like this and I can’t decide if you’re rotting my teeth or turning my stomach.” 

 

“Did you say the same thing to Taehyung and Hoseok? ‘Cause they’re about six hundred times worse than we are and they’re not even official,” Yoongi says, thumb moving in small circles across the ball of Jeongguk’s ankle.

 

Something Jeongguk had quickly learned in the short week since he’d proposed his plan, is that Yoongi is extremely good at this whole pretending thing. He has a habit of making Jeongguk’s pulse accelerate at the most inconvenient of times, playing with his fingers during class, slipping an arm around his waist as they navigate the corridors, keeping his eyes trained on Jeongguk across the table at the cafeteria, even when he’s mid-conversation with one of the others. (If Jeongguk had almost swallowed his mouthful of chicken whole that day, no one has to know.) 

 

He’s also a wonder with words, sugar dripping from his tongue when he talks to or about Jeongguk. Maybe Yoongi was right in that Jeongguk wasn’t a hundred percent aware of what he was signing up for when he’d asked him to date him. He finds himself overwhelmed by the constant attention, cheeks seemingly in a permanent state of looking like he’s spent too long beneath the sun. 

 

“They’ve been eating out of each other’s palms for so long, that I tend to tune them out these days,” Jimin replies, holding out Jeongguk’s phone for him to take. “You two are… I don’t know, I thought you were together all this time, but keeping it on the down low. I didn’t think you’d be one of those couples that made it inherently obvious and I can’t lie, it’s a bit of a shock to the system to see you all… candyfloss and sugar hearts with each other.”

 

Jeongguk frowns. He can understand some random kid in the music block misinterpreting their bond as them being an item. But for Jimin (who’s known them almost as long as they’ve known each other, and who Jeongguk is pretty certain has been intimate with Yoongi on more than one occasion) to think the same just doesn’t make sense. 

 

Jimin must mistake Jeongguk’s frown for him thinking that he doesn’t approve of their relationship because he holds up his hands as if in surrender, eyes widening as he says “That’s not to say that that’s a bad thing! I’m actually glad that you were able to finally recognise your feelings and are no longer shy about them.” 

 

Jeongguk catches one of Jimin’s hands on its way back down, squeezing their fingers together. “I know, hyungie. I wasn’t making faces at you, I was just lost in thought for a second, that’s all.” 

 

“You’ve got him running away with the fairies, hyung,” Jimin says with a giggle, tugging his hand from Jeongguk’s grip to flick Yoongi’s temple. “How is he going to graduate like this, huh?” 

 

“He’s talented with his tongue,” Yoongi answers with a shrug, smirking at the way Jeongguk immediately brings his heel down hard on Yoongi’s thigh. “He’ll pass with flying colours.”

 

If he remembers correctly, one of the first things he’d written on his list was very clear in that they’re supposed to warn each other before saying or doing anything that elicits a larger reaction than usual. They’ve been dating barely a week and Yoongi has already failed. 

 

“I didn’t need to know that!” Jimin says, cupping his hands around his ears. “Keep such knowledge to yourself.”

 

What’s funny, is that Yoongi actually doesn’t know that. They’ve never been in a situation remotely close to anything of that nature, save for the one time in their first year when Jeongguk had been taken to his first official campus party. He’d drank a little too much, accepting whatever was offered because he didn’t want to seem boring (He’s long since dropped that foolish attitude now) and somehow, in his hazy state, he’d managed to drag Yoongi away from that one older guy whose name he doesn’t remember but just knows he doesn’t like, and sloppily attempted to kiss him. 

 

He doesn’t know why he did it and thankfully, Yoongi had bought the excuse that he’d drunk enough to not remember his actions the following morning. They haven’t spoken about it since then, in fact, Jeongguk had sort of forgotten about it until now. But he’s pretty sure there was no tongue involved, because it was over before he could even blink. 

 

“Hyung, don’t scare him off. Who else is going to give us the photoshoot of our dreams, if not Jimin?” Jeongguk says, changing the subject before his mind wanders into territory he’d rather not cross. 

 

“Sorry, I can't help but brag about you,” Yoongi replies, fingertips trailing across Jeongguk’s ankle to flick at the cuff of his jeans. 

 

Jeongguk studies him intensely, looking for any kind of crack in his seemingly perfect composure. It’s almost as if he’s used to doing this kind of thing, and he can’t stop himself from wondering if any of Yoongi’s previous relationships were also make believe.

 

Jimin clicks his tongue, pushing Jeongguk’s legs from his lap so he can stand. “I think I’ll take my leave now, before you start making out in front of me,” he says, retrieving his cap from the coffee table and securing it over his ears. “Let me know when you want the shoot to go ahead and I’ll arrange some time at the studio downtown.” 

 

“You’re the best, hyungie!” Jeongguk replies, holding his hand out for Jimin to high five. “We’ve got endless amounts of theory this week, which means more assignments than I willingly signed up for. So, it’ll probably be next weekend.” 

 

“Look at you, setting your priorities straight,” Jimin grins, ruffling Jeongguk’s hair. “Maybe hyung should take some notes, huh?” he says, glancing at Yoongi, whose spread his own legs across the now empty space, feet poking at the edge of Jeongguk’s thigh. 

 

“My academic career is doing just fine, thank you, Jimin-ah,” he replies, wiggling his toes. “I’ll graduate with honours, just you wait.” 

 

“I don’t doubt that, hyung, but sometimes your priorities are a little backwards. Finishing that mixtape with Joonie-hyung isn’t worth another late mark. And don’t forget the time when you called me into the studio because you couldn’t focus until I -”

 

“Go home, you absolute heathen,” Yoongi interrupts, to which Jimin laughs, picking up his bag from where he’d left it beside the sofa. 

 

“I’m going, I’m going! Don’t forget to pick out some accessories for the shoot!” Jimin says as he heads to the door, toeing on his shoes without pulling the backs over his heels. He sends them a wave before slipping through the door, letting it swing shut on its own.

 

“Full offence, hyung, what the fuck, ” Jeongguk says when the door clicks into place, batting Yoongi’s toes away from his leg, so he can tuck his knees beneath his chin without squishing him. “I thought we agreed to warn each other about that kind of thing?” 

 

“About me and Jimin? Gguk-ah, you already knew about that,” Yoongi replies, opting to poke his big toe into Jeongguk’s cheek, much to his annoyance.

 

“I don’t care who you sleep with! I’m talking about the whole me being good with my tongue thing. You can’t just say things that’ll fluster me like that! What if I’d reacted differently and Jimin had sussed us out straight away?” Jeongguk asks, grabbing Yoongi’s foot to tickle the base.

 

He squirms away with a yelp, curling his legs to the side. “I’m not sure how exactly I’m supposed to warn you about that kind of thing. I sort of just went with it, but I’m sorry if it made you uncomfortable.” 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head. “I was just surprised is all. But now he’s probably holding me to a standard that I can’t meet. What if after this is all over, I find someone nice but am pathetically sloppy when it comes to kissing?” 

 

Yoongi laughs, the top of the sofa cushion denting as he rests against it. “I wasn’t talking about kissing, Bun. I love that you’re already thinking about the break-up before our relationship has even begun, though.”

 

Jeongguk wrinkles his nose. “We’ve barely been dating a week, you think I’m that easy?” He jokes, mirroring Yoongi’s actions and resting his cheek against the cushion. “You’re setting me up for quite the reputation, huh?”

 

“Even those who don’t actually know us are aware that we come as a pair. They won’t bat an eyelid at the two people that have been pining after each other since the dawn of time sleeping together, Gguk.” 

 

“Is that really how they look at us?” Jeongguk asks, drawing shapeless patterns into the fabric in the space between them. “They think we were pining after each other? I’ve only ever been reminded of how obviously single I am.” 

 

He thinks back to the faceless voice that had sparked this whole thing in the first place, telling him not to enter the competition unless he was dating Yoongi. Did they think that he was pining after him too? Does he give off that kind of vibe? He’s always looked up to Yoongi as a source of inspiration, eager to follow in the footsteps of a good man, but he doesn’t think that doing so constitutes to him seeming as though he wants to hold his hand twenty-four seven and share kisses in the studio. 

 

Yoongi shrugs. “I’ve had a few classmates ask about you before. Some of them wanted to know when you were going to ask me out, which I always found strange because you’ve never done anything to suggest that you like me in that way. And some of them, mainly girls, wondered how I got lucky enough to call someone like you mine, followed by a good ten minutes of them gushing about your looks.” 

 

“They think you’re lucky?” Jeongguk asks, a frown marring his brow. He knows he’s not ugly, but he wouldn’t say he’s particularly attractive - not in comparison to Yoongi, anyway. “I don’t understand. Have they even looked at you?”

 

“Are you saying I’m ugly?” Yoongi jokes, blinking at Jeongguk innocently, despite the obvious shade of pink steadily darkening his cheeks.

 

“Surely you know that you’re gorgeous, hyung. They were probably only saying those things as an excuse to talk to you because your face is so appealing.” Jeongguk has always thought of Yoongi as nothing short of beautiful, even when they were younger and he was yet to grow into his features. If anything, Jeongguk is the lucky one in their hypothetical relationship.

 

“Yeah? What exactly about my face is appealing?” Yoongi asks. It’s phrased like a rhetorical question, slightly sarcastic, as if anybody looking at him in such a way is a ridiculous concept. But Jeongguk feels the urge to answer it anyway.

 

“Well, for a start, you have the prettiest eyes. They’re sharp like a kitten’s, but they’re also full of warmth and I swear that sometimes when the light hits them in just the right way, there are literal stars inside of them,” he begins, nodding to himself as if to affirm that his words are true. “You have a button nose and I have no doubts that there are many people in our block, in fact, in our class alone that would pay to boop it. And then there’s your lips. You’re probably aware, but a lot of the time they fall into a pout whilst you’re speaking and so many people find that endearing. And your cheeks are nice and round. There’s nothing people find cuter than a good, plump cheek. Oh, and your earrings. Can’t beat a guy with piercings, right?”

 

Yoongi hums, looking at Jeongguk in a way that he doesn’t quite understand. “Do you really think all that?”

 

“From an objective standpoint, I think that you’re conventionally attractive, yes,” Jeongguk replies, picking at a loose thread on the sofa cushion. “It doesn’t take much to see so.”

 

Yoongi nods but doesn’t say anything, the unfathomable look still in his eye. Jeongguk stares right back, waiting for the inevitable playful yet vaguely self-deprecating comment that makes it obvious that Yoongi disagrees with him. But it doesn’t come.

 

They stay like that, quietly trying to comprehend each other’s thoughts until the click of the lock and a cheery “Hey, guys! I ran into Jimin on the way up and he told me about the - am I interrupting something?” startles Jeongguk, causing his knee to almost collide with his face as he sits up. 

 

“No, we were just talking,” he says, glancing between the door and Yoongi, who seems completely unaffected by Taehyung’s arrival, calmly greeting him with a wave and a small smile. 

 

“Sure looks like it,” Taehyung replies, dropping his bag and toeing off his shoes. “I always talk to people via lovingly gazing into their eyes. Makes for the greatest conversations,” he says sarcastically. 

 

“You’re just jealous that we have what you and Hoseok don’t,” Yoongi teases, reaching up to ruffle Taehyung’s hair as he passes to sit at their makeshift desk, an old dining table that they’d pushed against the wall and shoved a small armchair underneath. “Gguk was just telling me about how pretty he thinks I am, isn’t that sweet?”

 

Jeongguk feels his cheeks grow warm. It’s easy to forget that their “relationship” exists outside of the pair of them, and it’s highly likely that Yoongi has been twisting the details from all kinds of their conversations with friends outside of his and Jeongguk’s shared circle to make it seem as though they’re in deep. It’s almost laughable how that’s the point of the whole thing anyway, and yet Jeongguk hasn’t thought about the microphone once since the day he’d suggested they enter the competition.

 

The cat magnet starts laughing again, a shrill sound that makes his ears hurt. It tells him that he’s a fool in between cackles, over and over again until it’s all he can hear. 

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

Jimin’s studio, or rather, the penthouse suite that the owner of the apartment block realised he could make a decent sum from by letting it to students at the nearby university, is much nicer than Jeongguk had anticipated. The white walls are clean, light from the floor to ceiling windows along the breadth of the opposite wall reflecting against them to make the room seem much larger than it actually is. Sure enough, there’s an upright piano being hit directly by the sun, metallic purple lettering that looks to have been made by hand pinned neatly above it. Not that he’d expect anything less than elegance and maturity from Jimin, but with a tight budget such as theirs, relying only on monthly student loans, it’s hard to find somewhere that qualifies as decent.

 

“Do you like the colour?” Jimin asks, gesturing to the banner. “Taehyung and I thought about it for a while and we decided on purple because it’s the colour of devotion and peace. Fitting for a new couple, don’t you think?” Jeongguk and Yoongi nod in unison. “We made it metallic because we felt it was more your style. It’s not too cutesy and it’s not cringey either.”

 

“It’s pretty,” Jeongguk says, reaching up to run his fingers over the material. It’s smooth beneath his fingers, turning silver wherever he touches. “Did Taehyungie-hyung make this? It doesn’t look store-bought. Hyung and I spent the longest time browsing the banner section at Daiso, but they had nothing for new couples, only those borderline tacky ‘just married’ bunting sets.”

 

Their mission to buy props that would make their photos just that little bit cuter had been vastly unsuccessful. Jeongguk had convinced Yoongi to leave the studio early Friday afternoon with the promise of a hearty lunch, courtesy of whatever was left lingering in his wallet. They’d then proceeded to wander around the nearest set of shops looking for anything that could be of use until their feet grew tired, buying nothing but a pair of pillows shaped like half of a heart. They slotted together with velcro in the middle to form a whole, and Yoongi was more than convinced that they were intended for children but had dumped them in the basket anyway.

 

“Mm, he did. Spent hours hunched over a table in the library, drawing and cutting out the letters while I worked on my portfolio. By the time he was satisfied with it, I’d written so many annotations that the lines had started to blur,” Jimin replies with a sigh, wandering over to a table full of varying sized lenses and different coloured memory cards. He picks up a small, purple card reading ‘8GB’ and slots it into the camera hanging around his neck, a chunky DSLR that Jeongguk and the others had chipped in to get him for his birthday during first year. “He thinks you’re real cute, you know? But he looked kinda sad when he said so. I think he’s a little envious that his roommates got together before the man he’s after managed to acknowledge his feelings.”

 

Jeongguk knows that Taehyung doesn’t think that for a second, but he admires him for keeping up the act. He’s yet to slip in front of Yoongi, only voicing his opinions about their situation when he and Jeongguk are alone. But he also knows that Hoseok is, in fact, a little dense when it comes to how Taehyung feels about him despite their constant flirting, and it’s entirely possible that Taehyung will just admit defeat and move on soon.

 

“As Hoseok’s roommate and one of Taehyung’s best friends, isn’t it your duty to give him a kick in the right direction?” Yoongi asks, smoothing his fingers across the keys of the piano, light enough not to make a sound despite the multitude of songs Jeongguk knows are circling his mind, just waiting to be played. 

 

“Isn’t it a push in the right direction?” Jimin asks in return, aiming the lens in Yoongi’s direction and hitting the shutter. “Hmm, good. This set-up is even better than I thought it was going to be,” he says, tilting the screen towards Jeongguk as he leans in to have a look.

 

He’s right. Though Yoongi isn’t central in the photo, the light is hitting both him and the piano in such a way that he’s still the main focus, shoulders relaxed and fingers poised to look like he’s playing. It’s the kind of photo Jeongguk would set as the background on his phone, meaninglessly tapping the screen under the guise of checking the time, just so that more people would look at it.

 

“I said what I said. It’s going to take more than just a push to get him to realise that he has a kind-hearted, intelligent soul that loves deeply longing for his affection. Some people need help when it comes to recognising such things,” Yoongi replies, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his photo is being taken. He takes a seat on the bench, free hand coming up to join the first where it rests on the keys. 

 

“You’re lucky then, huh?” Jimin says, catching Jeongguk’s eye before moving his gaze to Yoongi’s back once again. “Our Jeonggukie was smart enough to see that his hyung adored him.”

 

“Yeah. Sure was,” Yoongi replies rather absently, fingers still moving soundlessly. “Can we start shooting now? I have a project to finish and Joon will send me nothing but disappointed frog memes if it passes the time we’re supposed to meet.”

 

“Of course. Ggukie, sit beside hyung and I’ll get a couple more test shots before we move on to the real thing.” Jimin gives Jeongguk’s shoulder a light push, forcing his gaze away from the photo on the screen and onto the real thing. 

 

Yoongi looks especially gentle today, dressed in a thick, white jumper that hangs just short of his fingers and reveals the slightest hint of collarbone, despite the warm weather outside. His hair is curled lightly and he’d opted for keeping a natural look for the shoot, no makeup decorating his face save for a small amount of concealer covering a particularly stubborn spot on his nose. Jeongguk knows this because he was the one who’d applied it for him, having more knowledge on how to blend properly. 

 

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but since Jeongguk had pointed out his attractive points, Yoongi had been emphasising them, asking Jeongguk to apply makeup to his nose, pouting his lips a little further than necessary when asking for his opinion on a new lip product, lining his eyes in a soft colour that makes them pop just that bit more than black does. He’d started wearing heavier earrings too, thick hoops dangling from all three holes as opposed to the two he usually has light bars in. 

 

He’s all for change, but something about it unsettles Jeongguk. If Yoongi is hoping that one of the girls in their class will fall for him, then he’s not going to have to wait long, but their chances of winning the microphone will be a big, fat zero percent. That, and it makes Jeongguk feel as though he isn’t doing enough to maintain his interest, even as a fake boyfriend. 

 

Perhaps it’s his lack of initiation. He always waits for Yoongi to lead when it comes to saying or doing coupley things, unable to do so himself without tripping over his own tongue as he stutters out a more than platonic compliment. The “he’s just shy about these things” excuse will only work for so long before people will start to raise their eyebrows. 

 

He takes a deep breath, seating himself on the bench and allowing his knee to bump against Yoongi’s. “I don’t know if I told you already, but you look really cute today,” he says, loudly enough for Jimin to scoff and mutter “this is supposed to be a photo shoot, not a flirting session,” behind them. 

 

Yoongi tilts his head, a small smile playing at his features as he looks at Jeongguk. “Yeah? I’m glad you think so. Recognise this jumper at all?”

 

Jeongguk takes a moment to study it up close, running a careful finger along the ridges of the collar. It’s a soft material as opposed to itchy - something Jeongguk is very particular about when it comes to buying clothes - and there’s no label to tuck beneath the fabric, only traces of the stitching left behind from a cut, which is why he knows that this jumper is his. Yoongi had rummaged through his rather monotone closet and managed to find something that suited him enough for it to go unnoticed by Jeongguk until now. He feels his pulse accelerate, likely out of embarrassment at such a bold expression. 

 

Nothing says “we’re definitely a thing” like wearing each other’s clothes and though Yoongi is often dressed in cozy jumpers, there’s no way it will be ignored by their classmates because Jeongguk’s clothes don’t hold Yoongi’s scent. “If you want to smell like me, all you have to do is ask to borrow my cologne,” he says jokingly, flicking the fabric against Yoongi’s skin. He gets an odd sense of satisfaction at the thought of Yoongi wandering around in his clothing, making a statement that will definitely aid in their attempts at scoring the top title in the competition.

 

“Where’s the fun in that? Anyone can borrow cologne, but not everyone gets to wear your clothes,” Yoongi replies, finally pausing his movements on the keys to tug at a sleeve, pulling it further over his hands but causing the material to slip even lower and expose the majority of his collarbone. He looks the least bit embarrassed, completely nonchalant and once again, Jeongguk can’t help but think about how natural this all seems to be to Yoongi. 

 

“If you two are quite done, I’d like to take some photos,” Jimin says then, pout evident in his voice. “Mr ‘let’s get this done, so I can slink away to the studio’ and yet here you are, trying to seduce the man that is practically my little brother on a bench that I put my heart into finding for you, right in front of my own two eyes.”

 

“Stop being dramatic, Min-ah. You’re just jealous that you can’t hit it anymore,” Yoongi teases, giving Jeongguk a cheeky grin. Jeongguk has always found their dynamic fascinating. For as long as he can remember, the pair have been teasing each other in a way that’s not too dissimilar to how he and Yoongi tease one another, but wholly different at the same time. 

 

There’s never been anything romantic between them, just a comfortable friendship in which they would help each other out with no qualms when they needed it. Jeongguk knows that romantic and sexual attraction are in no way the same, that they can exist as independently as they can exist alongside each other, but he can’t see himself being able to sleep with someone more than once without forming an attachment. Especially not when it comes to someone like Yoongi, who’s always been a gentle soul, treating his partners with the utmost respect and maintaining the rule that communication is key. He and Yoongi have never been involved that way, but Jeongguk is content with knowing that if for some reason they ever were, he’d be in safe hands. 

 

“He’s right, hyung. The quicker we get this done, the quicker you can finish your project and the quicker you get to spend time with me again,” Jeongguk says, words tumbling from his lips so his mind is focused elsewhere. He doesn’t even think about the fact that what he’s saying is incredibly cheesy, the mirror image of every cliché movie girlfriend. “I’m sure Joonie-hyung can let you off early to see your favourite boy, no?” 

 

He knows Yoongi will stay in the studio late enough for Jeongguk to have to bring him breakfast and a coffee containing the largest quantity of caffeine they have in store before class tomorrow, but he’s trying his best to act like the adoring boyfriend that he’s supposed to be. This is a two player game and if he wants them to win, he really needs to work on developing his strategy. That, or he’ll lose and end up pouting to Taehyung about the fact that he isn’t even desirable enough to appeal to the other party in a pretend relationship because he’s too much of a clutz when it comes to that oh, so wonderful thing known as expressing one’s feelings.

 

“Remember when I said I wasn’t sure if you were rotting my teeth or turning my stomach? It’s definitely the latter,” Jimin says, completely ignoring Yoongi’s earlier comment. “Let’s channel that clinginess into some cute photos. Please.” 

 

Jeongguk nods, watching Yoongi’s hands where they’ve resumed their playing, only this time there’s music coming to life beneath his fingers. “Stay just like that,” Jimin instructs, though Jeongguk has no intention of looking away, enthralled by the way Yoongi’s fingers dance across the keys with the kind of precision that comes from years of playing. There are no sheets resting in the music rack, he’s moving solely on memory and it has a sense of pride swelling in Jeongguk’s chest.

 

He still remembers tagging along to the recitals when they were much younger, Yoongi aged nine and himself a tender five. He’d cling tightly to Yoongi’s hands before the start, reminding him of just how great he was going to be once the curtains opened, and beaming at any of the adults who’d fondly ruffle his hair and voice their agreement. There’d been many a time when he’d been scolded for cheering during them, too. 

 

“This isn’t the right setting for that, baby,” his mother would say, guiding his hands to form a polite clap instead. His younger self had seen nothing wrong with cheering for his favourite hyung, but he knew better than to question his mother’s authority and opted for saving all of his excited shouting for the car journey home. 

 

“Hyung is going to grow up to be the best piano player in the whole world!” Jeongguk would tell him every time, squishing Yoongi’s cheeks between his tiny hands to make sure he definitely had his full attention. Yoongi would grin at him in the way he liked best when he said as such, lips parting enough to show his gums and his eyes crinkling until they resembled the moon. 

 

Yoongi didn’t grow up to be the world’s best pianist, striving to achieve other things as he navigated school. But he never stopped playing, much to Jeongguk’s relief, and even when they moved into their cramped apartment with Taehyung at the start of university, he made sure there was some form of piano with them, even if it was one of those electric ones that had half the sound quality of a grand.

 

The shutter clicks continuously behind them and Jeongguk isn’t really sure what exactly Jimin is capturing if not the same shot repeatedly, but he stays still regardless, focusing on the music until the tune finally registers in his mind and he can’t stop himself from laughing.

 

“Hyung, I thought you were going to play me a love song, not the damn wedding march,” he says, playfully batting at Yoongi’s shoulder. “We’re too young for marriage, are we not?” 

 

Yoongi shakes his head without faltering, glancing at Jeongguk from his peripheral. “There’s no upwards or downwards limit, Gguk-ah. We’re both adults and if marriage was something that we decided would be right for our relationship, then it wouldn’t matter what age we were.”

 

“Are you saying that you would marry me now?” Jeongguk asks rather boldly, resting an elbow against the keys, a rather ungracious sound following, to get a better look at Yoongi’s face. 

 

Yoongi nods, completely unabashed. “I’ve known you long enough to know that I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life with you,” he says assuredly, song still flawless despite Jeongguk’s interruption. 

 

Jimin makes an incomprehensible noise, the sound of the shutter finally coming to a stop, and Jeongguk knows that it’s not just his cheeks that are burning. “What the fuck, Yoongi-hyung, why would you spring something like that on us? I think at least fifty of these are blurry... Warn a guy before you effectively propose!”

 

Yoongi laughs, hitting the final note before turning to face Jeongguk. “It’s not something we have to rush into, of course. I’m just saying that if you wanted to get married, I would start planning our wedding in a heartbeat.” 


It’s too much. Jeongguk knows he should’ve expected something like this after the last time he’d been taken by surprise, but it’s just as much of a shock to the system and he isn’t quite sure how to respond. Yoongi has a habit of rendering him speechless in the worst way.

 

Yoongi turns to Jimin then. “And I’m sure your pictures are fine, Min-ah. You’re talented, so I have full faith, okay? If I’d have told you what I was going to play, the shots wouldn’t have been so candid. I can’t wait to see what Gguk’s face looked like.”

 

Jeongguk can. It’s probably a weird twist of embarrassment and confusion, hardly a pretty sight for the world of Instagram to see. There’s making an effort to make it seem as though they adore the ground each other walks on and then there’s overdoing it.

 

Jimin brings the camera over, cycling back through to the beginning of the photos, so they can see them in order. At first, there are just shots of them with their faces barely visible - the tester shots, Jeongguk supposes. And then the atmosphere changes, shots of Jeongguk staring at Yoongi’s hands in wonder, then with something a little warmer in his eyes, as if the song is particularly touching. Jeongguk caught mid-punch to Yoongi’s shoulder, nose scrunched and teeth on full display, showing that there’s no bite behind it.

 

In one photo - another of Jeongguk laughing, though this time with Yoongi’s face visible, too - the light hits their eyes in a way that emphasises the depth of their emotions. Yoongi’s mouth is closed, but his lips are drawn up enough for it to be obvious that he’s close to bursting into laughter, crows feet beginning to form at the corners of his eyes. It’s a fond expression, and Jeongguk finds himself smiling back at the photo without thinking about it.

 

“I like this one the most,” he says, placing a hand over Jimin’s to stop him from changing to the next photo.

Jimin laughs softly, shaking his head. “You haven’t even seen them all. I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or be offended.” 

 

“Definitely a compliment. These are beautiful, Min-ah,” Yoongi says, leaning closer to the screen to get a better view. “I like this one a lot, too.”

 

“Beautiful photos are formed by beautiful subjects,” Jimin replies, smiling at the both of them. “You can really see how fond you are of each other. It’s sweet, and I can assure you that the world of ‘lovestagram’ is going to die when you post these. In fact, I might steal a few to add to my portfolio, if that’s okay with you, of course.” 

 

Jeongguk is a hundred percent certain that the beautiful subject he’s referring to is Yoongi, because there’s no way anybody could look at these photos and not immediately be drawn to him. “They’re your photos, hyung, it’s hardly stealing. And besides, these are too lovely to not be in your portfolio. I’d be upset if you didn’t want to include them.”

Jimin beams at him then, letting the camera hang loosely around his neck as he reaches up to squeeze one of Jeongguk’s cheeks between his forefinger and thumb. “You’re too kind to me, Ggukie. Do you really like them that much?” 

 

Jeongguk nods, batting his hand away. “They’re great, hyung, really. We could get one framed for our apartment, though I’m not sure how Taehyungie-hyung would feel about that.” 

 

He’s not exaggerating for the sake of it this time. He really does like the photos enough to want to treasure them in an album or have them on display on one of his shelves. His mother will coo over them when she next comes to visit, gushing about how wonderful it is that they’re still such close friends after all these years. Not that he can think of a reason why they wouldn’t be, Yoongi has been the only constant in his life, outside of his family.

 

They’ve never fought, at least not big time. There have been petty arguments over the years at times when they’ve been too highly strung, ribbing each other for forgetting to empty the dishwasher or throwing a tantrum (mostly on Jeongguk’s end) when texts have gone unanswered for a period of time long enough for the other to start worrying. And though friends drifting apart naturally as they grow is hardly an uncommon occurrence, the universe seems to have kept them together, for which he’s grateful. 

 

“If it’s up in one of our rooms, he’ll have no need to pout about it,” Yoongi says, turning to close the lid of the piano, so he can rest against it. 

 

“You’re not sharing?” Jimin asks, giving them a questioning look. 

 

Jeongguk panics, looking at Yoongi with what he hopes is a subtle expression of pleading because he can’t come up with a valid reason as to why they aren’t sharing a bedroom. He hasn’t thought things like that through because he didn’t think the others would delve deep enough into their relationship to question them.

 

“Even couples need their space, Min-ah. You think my home equipment is going to fit in Gguk’s tiny room?” Yoongi answers without even sparing him a glance, as if he already knows that Jeongguk is wholly unprepared for situations like this. 

 

Jeongguk nods, playing along, now that he has something to work with. “Maybe after graduation when we’ve been working for a while and can afford somewhere a little bigger, we’ll start sharing properly. But for now, hyung’s things stay scattered across his bed so he has an excuse to hog my blankets. It’s so rude of him, you know? Here I am, a whole furnace for free and yet he still wants the duvet.” 

 

Jimin laughs, squeezing Jeongguk’s cheek once again. “You guys are so cute, already thinking about your future. I’m glad I’m your photographer, ‘cause I think someone a little more steel-hearted would’ve packed up and gone home by now with all this mushy talk.” 

 

Jeongguk shrugs, leaning into Yoongi’s side and resting his head on his shoulder. They’ve only been here for what feels like minutes, but he’s exhausted. He can’t wait to be done with this whole thing, to upload one of the photos with the cheesiest caption he can think of and then take a break from forcing himself to be so lovey-dovey. 

 

“Are we done now, hyung?” he asks, closing his eyes. “Send me the photos so I can post them as soon as possible. They don’t need to be edited, they’re fine as they are.” 

 

“Slow down, Gguk-ah. You haven’t taken any with the accessories you bought yet, and I also thought it would be cute to get a shot of you kissing. Nothing full on, just a peck on the cheek,” Jimin says, taking a step back and bringing the camera up to take a photo of them lounging against the piano. 

 

Kissing. They’d both written it on their lists but are yet to discuss how exactly they’re going to go about such a thing. It’s not like Jeongguk has never kissed anyone before, even if they were only brief pecks with ex-boyfriends who initiated most of the kisses themselves and he still has his insecurities when it comes to skill, but suddenly having to kiss his hyung is entirely different. 

 

He was kind of hoping that Yoongi would allow him to effectively practice with him first, letting him get used to the feeling of being so close, with his skin beneath his lips before progressing into mouth on mouth action. 

 

“Gguk is painfully shy about that kind of thing, so unless you want a thousand photos of him rivalling a tomato, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yoongi replies with a bashful giggle, a hand coming to rest at Jeongguk’s waist. It’s warm, comfortable and Jeongguk is quite sure he could fall asleep any minute now. 

 

Jimin kisses his teeth, snapping another photo before lowering the camera once again. “You shouldn’t be shy, Ggukie! It’s not like you’re eating his face against a wall like most of the couples I see around campus,” he says with a fake shiver, sticking his tongue out in mock disgust. 

 

“I can’t help it, hyungie,” Jeongguk replies, feeling his cheeks begin to warm. “Every time we kiss, my heart feels like it’s going to fly right out of my chest and it’s so embarrassing.” At least, that’s what he thinks it would feel like to have someone he cares for kiss him.

 

“Okay, then, change of plans. We don’t need anyone going into cardiac arrest today, so let’s just stick with the props and then I’ll send the photos over to you later,” Jimin says, returning to the table of equipment and rifling through the plastic bag filled with a grand total of one prop. 

 

He frowns as he pulls the heart pillow out, holding it out in front of him at arm’s length. “Is this all you bought?” He asks, pulling it apart and sticking it back together. “I can’t say it’s what I envisioned when we talked about adding accessories to the shoot, but it’s kind of cute, I guess.” 

 

He splits it again and hands Jeongguk and Yoongi a half each. Jeongguk holds his half in his lap loosely, keeping his eyes closed as he speaks. “I told you, we looked for ages, hyung. There wasn’t anything that really caught our eye,” he explains, drumming his fingers along the soft edges. 

 

Jimin nods in understanding, fiddling with something on the screen of his camera. “Yoongi-hyung, can you rest your chin on Gguk’s head? And can both of you hold the heart out in front of you? I think it’ll make for a cute shot.” 

 

Jeongguk lifts the heart, smiling as he feels the weight against his hair. He hopes he appears to be endeared as opposed to bored; deeming keeping his eyes shut the safer option, rather than turning into an overwhelmed mess having to look at Yoongi. He’s reached his limit when it comes to playing boyfriend for the day.

 

The shutter clicks a few more times before Jimin makes a pleased sound, and his footsteps come closer. There’s a pat to Jeongguk’s shoulder, coaxing him to open his eyes and look at the screen. The photo is pretty, as expected by now - Yoongi had closed his eyes too, making it seem as though they were caught in a moment of fondness, their hands on either side of the heart very clearly showing that they’re not just friends. 

 

“How are we going to choose the best ones to upload when they’re all just as nice as each other?” Yoongi asks, giving Jeongguk’s side a squeeze before moving away. He pulls his phone from his pocket to take a photo of the screen. “I know you’ll send the HD versions later, but I wanted something to set as my profile picture now, you know?” 

 

“I’m glad you like my work,” Jimin beams, once again letting the camera hang loose, so he can pull them both into a one armed hug. “There’s no need to look for a wedding photographer - consider it done already.”

 

Jeongguk scoffs against Jimin’s cheek. “Hyung, we’re not getting married for a good while yet.”

 

“Ah, the yet means it’ll happen at some point in the future, though and I’m willing to wait until then,” Jimin replies, pulling away and removing the strap from around his neck. He switches the camera off, setting it on the table and removing the memory card. “But if you turn down Yoongi-hyung after that spontaneous yet heart-felt confession, or if you get too shy to tell anyone that you’re engaged, I will personally beat your ass.”

 

“You’ll be the first person we tell, Min-ah. You can shoot our engagement photos,” Yoongi says, nudging Jeongguk from his shoulder as he moves to stand, but keeping his arm wrapped around his waist, so he can pull him up with him. 

 

“Thank you for doing this for us, hyung. We really appreciate it,” Jeongguk says, bowing his head. “Can you make sure to send me the tester shot of Yoongi-hyung? You know, the first one?” he says a little more quietly, cheeks aflame before he’s even finished the sentence.

 

He’s not sure why he wants the photo, other than to set it as his lock screen like he’d thought to do earlier. So, he’s also not entirely sure why his cheeks are betraying him, making it seem as though he’s feeling some kind of unintelligible emotion that he definitely is not. He feels nothing, just like he did on the day he’d asked Yoongi to pretend to be his boyfriend.

 

Maybe he does get embarrassed and sometimes downright flustered when Yoongi says or does certain things. But that’s all explained away by the uncomfortableness of having one of his closest friends be more affectionate towards him than usual. He guarantees that anyone else in his situation would feel exactly the same. 

 

Putting those few occasions aside, Jeongguk knows he feels nothing, save for a warm admiration, when it comes to Yoongi. Absolutely nothing.

 

“Of course!” Jimin replies, sliding the camera into a soft case and zipping it up. “I’d never let our Ggukie miss an opportunity to brag about his pretty boyfriend. Or cry about him during the night, I don’t know what you use his photos for,” he continues with a laugh. 

 

“Why would he need to cry over my photos when the real thing is right there?” Yoongi jokes, hugging Jeongguk closer. 

 

“With all due respect, hyung, if you ever make him cry for real, I will step on your dick,” Jimin says rather casually, slinging the strap of the camera case over his shoulder. 

“What if he makes me cry?” Yoongi asks, raising an eyebrow, as if to challenge him for an answer he knows he’s not going to get. 

 

Jimin shrugs, tugging a set of keys from his pocket and gesturing for them to follow him as he heads towards the door. “I can’t see that happening, somehow, but you’ll have to get back to me for an answer if it does.” 

 

Yoongi clicks his tongue, shaking his head as he leads Jeongguk through the door and into the hall. It seems oddly dark now that they’re away from the large windows, a kind of dimness that only adds to Jeongguk’s tiredness. “You’re not supposed to have favourites.” 

 

“Taehyung is my favourite, all of you know this,” Jimin replies, locking the door behind them and re-pocketing the keys. “But Ggukie comes in at a close second.” 

 

Yoongi makes a sound that Jeongguk can only describe as smug, relaxing his hold on his waist to link their fingers together instead. “That’s because he takes up first place for favourites on my list. In fact, he takes up all of the available spots there are.” 

 

Jeongguk scoffs, hiding his yet again flaming cheeks against Yoongi’s shoulder. Yoongi really is on a roll with the act today and if Jeongguk didn’t know any better, he’d be inclined to take his words as the gospel truth. 

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

“Hyung, can I ask you something?” Jeongguk asks a short while later, when they’re back in the comfort of their living room and Taehyung is yet to return from a lecture. They’re safe to discuss the topics that Yoongi deems a little riskier for a good hour or so. “Have you ever… done this before?”


Yoongi blinks, looking at Jeongguk over the top of his laptop. “Worked on music on the couch? I do this all the time.”



Jeongguk shakes his head. He knows he’s being evasive, but he doesn’t want to run the risk of upsetting his hyung by making stupid assumptions. “No, I mean have you ever done what we’re doing? But… with someone else?”


He looks at the screen of his phone, where Instagram sits open, the photo of he and Yoongi laughing together waiting to be posted. The way Yoongi is looking at him so fondly and his general passiveness when it comes to blurting out romantic things, just seems far too natural for him to not be experienced in the world of fake dating.


“You have nothing to worry about, Bun. I’ve not done this before, so there’ll be no unwarranted comments yelling about how our relationship is a scam and not to trust me or whatever people’s preferred method of starting drama is these days,” Yoongi replies, knocking his foot against Jeongguk’s own where they rest on the coffee table in a gesture of reassurance.


That thought hadn’t even crossed Jeongguk’s mind, and he feels the urge to bury his head in the nearest pillow. He doesn’t though, instead pretending to type for a few moments to buy himself some time as he thinks of an acceptable response. “I was just curious,” he admits, opting for the ‘honesty is the best policy’ route. “You’re so confident in what you say and do, it has me a little envious, you know? It was so easy for you to tell me that you wanted to marry me. If I’d have tried that, I would’ve been a mess of tangled words and incoherency.”


Yoongi laughs softly, gaze returning to the computer screen. “I think you’re doing just fine, mm? Your internal cringing comes off as you getting embarrassed in the way that only new lovers in the honeymoon phase do. You definitely had Jimin convinced today.”


Jeongguk nods, but before he can offer anything in response, Yoongi begins to speak again. “But if you want to know the secret to keeping your cool, it’s to not lie. Talk about or to me in the way that you usually would but with emphasis on the things that can be interpreted romantically. So, for example, you bringing me breakfast at the studio. That’s something you’ve done for years, right? But now that we’re a couple, it’ll seem like something much sweeter. Just by telling people that you’re bringing me a snack, they’ll coo at how gone you are for me.”


It makes sense. Jeongguk now has no doubts that the people around their block think he’s been dating Yoongi all these years because of how often he frequents the studio with food in tow. But he’s never assumed such a thing when he’s seen other people doing the same, always thinking of them as friends helping out other friends, just like himself. 


“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks, hyungie,” Jeongguk says, knocking his foot in return. “Help me think of a caption?” he adds, waving his phone above the lid of Yoongi’s laptop. 


Yoongi hums, adjusting his glasses and pushing the lid inwards, so he can look at the photo properly. “Oh, you chose the one I liked best,” he muses, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Why don’t you make it something generic like ‘we have an announcement’ hashtag lovestagram, or something? People adore that kind of thing.”


Jeongguk types exactly that into the box, clicking on the recommended tag just to make sure it’s spelt correctly and will land their photo in the right place. “Shall I add emojis or not?” he asks, thumb hovering over a pair of pink hearts. “And for the record, I liked this one best too.”


“Yeah? Well, I’m older, so technically I liked it best first and should have posting rights,” Yoongi jokes, grinning at Jeongguk. “We can’t post the same one, Jimin will never let us hear the end of it.” 


Jeongguk makes a noise of agreement, still scrolling through the pages of emojis. He settles on two guys making kissy faces with a heart above their heads, before hitting post. “Ha!” he says with a grin of his own, “I’ve posted it now, so you’ll have to pick a different one.” 


Yoongi rolls his eyes but reaches for his own phone, opening Instagram and double tapping the photo Jeongguk posted before clicking on the new post button. He scrolls through the album he’d made especially for photos of the pair of them and Jeongguk on his own, aptly titled “Baby Bun” with an absurd amount of hearts tacked to the end. “Honestly, I quite like them all,” he mumbles, selecting the multi photo option, so he can post a few. 


Jeongguk leans over to see what he’s doing, wrinkling his nose at the album title. “‘Baby Bun’. Really, hyung?” 


Yoongi has referred to him as ‘Bun’ for as long as Jeongguk can remember - a nickname that had stuck when his big teeth had started coming in and gave him a striking resemblance to a rabbit. Or in a young Yoongi’s words “Gguk-ah’s like a bunny. One of the really soft ones that you just want to squish over and over!” He’s grown so used to hearing it over the years that he responds to it as easily as his given name. So, to see it being used in a context meant for something that effectively means nothing is a little jarring.


Yoongi nods, pausing in his search to look at Jeongguk with a tilt of his head. “Is yours any better?” 


Jeongguk shrinks back into his seat, playing with the edge of his sleeve. “I may or may not have made one yet.”


It’s not that he’s been avoiding doing so, it’s simply not something he thought of as strictly necessary and ended up forgetting about. Not to mention that the only photos of Yoongi he has in his camera roll at present are candid photos that he took in secret whilst he lounged across Jeongguk’s legs and fell asleep with the straw of his coffee still in his mouth. He’s pretty sure Yoongi won’t appreciate him sharing them, especially having not yet seen them.


“Well, when you do, what are you going to call it?” Yoongi asks, typing something rather speedily before locking his phone and setting it on the arm of the sofa. 


“‘Honey Boy’ with the honey pot emoji and a bee to go with it,” Jeongguk answers. That’s something he had thought about briefly. It’s not the most gooey of titles but it fits Yoongi’s reputation for being the music block’s sweetheart. 


“I was hoping for ‘The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me’ but I guess ‘Honey Boy’ works too,” Yoongi jokes, placing a hand over his face in embarrassment as he cringes at his own words. 


“Gross! Even if we were together, I would label you as no such thing,” Jeongguk says, refreshing the activity page to check on the status of their photo. Surprisingly, it has nearing a hundred likes already, from both those they know and random accounts with usernames that don’t sound human. 


“Ever the charmer, Bun,” Yoongi replies, bumping his knee against Jeongguk’s own. “Is the world in love with us, yet?”


Jeongguk half nods, half shakes his head. “We have ninety-five likes already but no comments. We need people to properly acknowledge how cute we are, if we want to win. I’ll encourage the others to share their thoughts.” 

He pulls up his most commonly used group chat on Kakaotalk, starting off with a simple ‘there’s an emergency’


From: Likes To Think He’s Scary

Sent: 8:01PM

 

What’s the problem, Gguk-ah? 

Do you need me to drive you to the hospital?

 

From: Sunshine Hyung

Sent: 8:01PM

 

I was just about to head to practice but I can be there ASAP if you need me!


From: Dinky Hyung UWU

Sent: 8:01PM

 

Gguk, you know I love you but if this is what I think it’s about, istfg I will cut those pretty locks of yours while you’re sleeping. 


To: Seokjin and the Six Babies

Sent: 8:01PM

 

It’s not a physical emergency, sorry hyungs!   

I didn’t mean to worry you!  

It’s just that nobody has commented on my latest Instagram post and it left me wondering whether or not you hated it? ; n ;

 

It’s not strictly a lie. He has wondered what the others’ reactions will be like, more so the eldest among their circle. Taehyung was a no brainer, wholly supportive of both he and Yoongi in anything that they do, even if he doesn’t exactly agree with it (Jeongguk is still yet to tell Yoongi that he’s very much aware that they aren’t actually a thing and Taehyung scowls at him each time he says so.) He’d had no fears when it came to telling Jimin either. 

 

But the others are usually a little more focused on the things that could go wrong in a relationship instead of offering their congratulations. Hence, Hoseok and Taehyung being stuck in an awful limbo that pushes the boundaries of friendship but doesn’t classify as a romantic relationship. 

 

From: Sunshine Hyung

Sent: 8:01PM

 

I won’t lie. I’m kinda hurt that you decided to let Instagram know before telling us, but I’m happy for you.

Have you told anybody before now?

From: Dinky Hyung UWU

Sent: 8:01PM

 

Taehyung and I already knew...

Taehyung lives with them, which makes discovering a relationship practically unavoidable. Wait until you see how they are around each other, it’s for the best that they told him because I don’t even want to think about what he could’ve had to have walked in on. 

And I knew because I’m the genius behind the photo! They thought it would be nice to do a photoshoot in celebration of their relationship, like a momento, you know? Isn’t that just the cutest thing?

I’m gonna shoot their wedding photos too!  ; v ; 


From: Likes to Think He’s Scary 

Sent: 8:02PM

 

Wedding??  

Is this some kind of joke, Gguk??

 

From: (Platonic) LOML

Sent: 8:02PM

 

I’m happy for you, too, Ggukie! 

Hyung’s been talking about making things official with you for a while now. 

 

To: Seokjin and the Six Babies

Sent: 8:03PM

 

We didn’t mean to keep it from you like this but we thought it would be easier to make ourselves known to everyone in one go. We'll talk about it properly when we next see you, you can ask for all the nitty gritty details, promise. It’s most definitely not a joke.  

And don’t worry, Jin-hyung. We definitely are not getting married yet. I want to graduate first and so does Yoongi-hyung. I think, anyway.  

Thanks for the support, hyungs! Please leave nice comments. You know we crave that validation! ^ v ^

 

Despite his cheery reply, there’s something about Namjoon’s message that leaves him with a strange feeling in his stomach; an uncomfortable fluttering that he can’t quite identify. He reads it again, and then one more time for good measure.

 

“Hyung, please explain…” Jeongguk says, holding his phone out for Yoongi to take, open on the chat room with the message at the top. “What have you been telling Joonie-hyung?” 


‘For a while now’ suggests only one thing to Jeongguk, but he’ll give Yoongi the benefit of the doubt and allow him to explain himself. 


Yoongi hands Jeongguk his phone back with a shrug. “I told him that I was happy we were together because I’d been planning on asking you out for a few months. I spend most of my time with him, so he’s the one that’s going to ask the most questions when it comes to our relationship. I’m trying my best to make us as believable as possible.” 


Jeongguk nods, heart rate returning to normal as his initial conclusion is stamped upon. “You really do seem like a natural at this,” he mumbles under his breath, refreshing the activity page once again to find that Jimin has left a string of hearts beneath his photo, alongside another comment reading ‘still thinking about how cute that kissing shot could’ve been, rip.’ 


He sighs, mind wandering back to the speed at which his pulse had rocketed when Jimin had suggested he kiss Yoongi’s cheek. He supposes now is as good a time as any to bring up his earlier idea, if he wants to lessen the chances of making himself look like a fool when they can’t avoid such a thing anymore.


“Hey, hyung, you know the lists that we wrote?” Jeongguk asks, tapping the heart beside the comments but leaving no reply for now. Yoongi hums a noise of acknowledgement. “Well, Jimin-hyung keeps mentioning us kissing and that was one of the things that we put on our lists… I was just wondering how we’re going to go about that?” 


Jeongguk fiddles with the edge of his phone case, flicking it back and forth across the hard shell of his phone. “‘Cause I don’t think I can just go for something like that, you know? I might have to practice? Beforehand…”


“I don’t think that’s something we need to worry about yet, Gguk-ah. It’s nobody’s business what we do with our mouths,” Yoongi replies, reaching for his own phone once again. “But if you do want to go ahead and practice, then make sure you’re careful, yeah? As I said before, the last thing you want is for someone to run their mouth and spread rumours about you.”


Jeongguk shakes his head. “That’s not what I - I meant with you, hyung,” he rushes out, voice small and breathy. For what must be the hundredth time that day, his cheeks begin to feel hot. “I think I should get used to kissing you, so that when we do start doing it in front of everyone, there’s no hesitation. I could come to the studio when Joonie-hyung isn’t there, seeing as that’s the most private space. Or we could just do it here while Taehyung is attending a lecture. Unless you don’t want to kiss me, then that’s fine! I’m totally fine with that! I just thought, maybe, you know… If we have to...” 


Yoongi bumps their feet together again. “It’s okay, Bun. I’m happy for you to practice with me, I just wasn’t sure if you’d be comfortable with it, that’s all. Sometimes it feels better to work with a complete stranger rather than a friend, because you won’t have to live with their judgement every time you see them.” 


The logic is understandable, but Jeongguk can’t picture himself in that kind of situation. Kissing a stranger seems infinitely worse than having someone he knows guide him to the point of comfort, what with them being unpredictable and maybe not all that trust-worthy. He’s also not sure how getting comfortable with a stranger will help him to not feel so shy around his hyung. 


“Are you saying that you’re going to scrutinise me forever?” Jeongguk asks playfully. He knows he won’t, Yoongi’s never been the sort. “What if I’m so good at it that you end up lusting after me?” 


“We’re not going to be making out, Gguk. It’ll be small, simple kisses - the kind given in thanks when your partner drops you off on campus or when they buy you a present. The cute ones, yeah? Unless you want to make an absolute show of it.” 


“I’m content with the cute ones,” Jeongguk replies, rolling his eyes as a notification pops up with a comment from Hoseok reading ‘Congratulations. I wish I could have something like this v v.’  “Are you the kind of boyfriend that kisses their partner at the door of the classroom before you leave for your own? Or are you the quick squeeze of the hip and go kind?”


“Gguk, we have ninety-nine percent of our classes together, there would be absolutely no point in me kissing you at the door.” 


“You could do it anyway, just to get the point across. Have you ever had the joy of sitting at the very back of the classroom? All the couples do is nibble on each other’s necks and steal disgustingly wet kisses when the lecturer isn’t looking.” 


Yoongi wrinkles his nose, tapping at the keyboard of his laptop. “I can’t say I have but now that I know that, I’m glad of that fact.” 


“You don’t want to nibble on my neck like a vampire, hyung? Should I be offended?” Jeongguk jokes, resting his head on Yoongi’s shoulder at an angle that bares his throat. 

It’s still a little strange to Jeongguk that when they’re alone, nothing really feels any different. Even when they have conversations such as this, about varying aspects of their relationship, it just feels like Jeongguk and Yoongi, Yoongi and Jeongguk, as they always have been. 


“Not at the back of the classroom, no,” Yoongi replies, resting his cheek atop Jeongguk’s head in a similar fashion to earlier. Only this time it’s of his own accord, no one behind a camera directing his movements. “I’m not one for exhibitionism.” 


“But you would do it if we were alone?” Jeongguk asks, shifting so that his legs rest over the arm of the sofa, making it more comfortable for him to lay in his current position.

 

“Why are you asking this?” Yoongi questions in return, bringing an arm across Jeongguk’s middle so he can reach his laptop more easily without jostling him.

 

“Is it a crime to ask my boyfriend these things?” Jeongguk blinks up at him, but all he can really see from this angle is a whole lot of earring and blurry skin.

Yoongi sighs softly, quietly enough that Jeongguk likely wouldn’t have heard it, if not for being in such close proximity. “No one is around, right now. We don’t have to pretend.”

 

“I know, I’m just messing with you,” Jeongguk says, poking at Yoongi’s arm. “I’m still getting used to talking to you in a way that’s more than platonic. I need to become a pro at that before we approach the act of kissing.”


“I don’t think you’ll find it all that hard to kiss me, you know? At least, not once our lips are actually connected. You can just pretend that I’m someone else. But it’s the build up that you’re worried about, right? The getting all up in each other’s faces part?” 


“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies, twisting the fabric of Yoongi’s or rather his jumper between his fingers. He’s still yet to properly process the fact that Yoongi had really worn his clothing around campus this morning, had worn it to visit one of their friends without a hint of shame. “I know we’re close and we’ve never been closed off when it comes to being affectionate but cuddling is one thing, breaching the boundaries of personal space when it comes to your face is entirely different.”

“You wouldn’t be breaching any boundaries if I was willing for you to step into my space. Unless you’re referring to your own face, in which case, I totally respect that and I’m not going to do anything you’re uncomfortable with,” Yoongi says, tightening his grip around Jeongguk’s middle. “I meant it when I asked if you knew what you were asking of me, though. It’s clear that you hadn’t really thought it through all that well, but that’s okay, we still have plenty of time to elaborate on our lists. We’ll sit down and have a proper discussion about the contents of them and maybe add a few things here and there, yeah?”


Jeongguk sighs. There’s not a single inconsiderate bone in Yoongi’s body. He’s pretty sure he could punch him straight in the face and Yoongi would still be the one apologising. Not that he can ever imagine himself in a situation in which he would willingly hit his hyung in the first place, but for the sake of example. “And I meant it when I said anyone in our class would be lucky to have you.”

Yoongi pauses in the act of saving his file, currently titled as nothing but a keysmash. “Mm? I don’t remember you saying that.”


“I didn’t? Well, they would be,” Jeongguk replies. “You’re too nice, hyung. You’re right, I asked a lot of you when I didn’t know what I was doing. Any other person would’ve fake dumped me already.”


“Then they’re fools that don’t know what they’re missing, even if it’s just pretend. People learn as they grow, Gguk, it’s part of our nature.”


“You really think that? That they’d be fools?”


“I know so,” Yoongi replies, closing the lid of his laptop and bringing his other arm to meet the one at Jeongguk’s stomach. He holds him tight, cheek nuzzling against his hair.


The cat magnet eyes them from across the room, it’s mouth pulled back to reveal nasty fangs as it sneers. Just pretend ," it says in a shrill voice, mocking and cruel.


Just pretend , Jeongguk repeats to himself.

Chapter Text


The next time the subject of kissing is brought up in regards to he and Yoongi, is on an unsuspecting Thursday afternoon during a group study session. 

 

Jeongguk’s pen flicks back and forth between his fingers, ink long since drying on the page in front of him where he’s neglected to write anything for the past quarter of an hour. It’s not that he isn’t trying, but the intended use of study sessions is always ignored in favour of loud gossiping about the latest drama involving exes and those who got drunk enough to black out at the last party. It’s equal parts distracting and unnecessary. 

 

He does his best to tune it out but more often than not, he’s dragged into conversations to give his input on things he doesn’t particularly care about. Frankly, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass if Suzy gets a breast enlargement or not and he couldn’t care less about Minhyuk and his foreign boyfriend having yet another argument about the ways of managing a long distance relationship during the holidays. And yet for some reason, they never take the hint from his one word replies.

 

“Enough about me,” one of the girls he speaks to occasionally but has never bothered remembering the name of says, waving a hand in front of his face. “Tell me if the rumours are true. Are you and Min Yoongi really fucking around, Doll?” 

 

Jeongguk sighs, resisting the urge to roll his eyes for the sake of being polite. “Did you not see my Instagram post? We’re more than fucking around, he’s my boyfriend.”

 

He’s quite sure that the very blatant ‘#lovestagram’ and the encouraging comments from his friends were a give away to the fact that they’re exclusive, but he supposes some people’s wishful thinking leads to misinterpretation. It’s unsettling. He doesn’t want Yoongi to be seen as someone that can’t have more than a fling just because he had a casual arrangement in the past. 

 

The girl nods, tilting her head as if in question. “So, what’s he like?” She asks with a giggle, a well manicured hand coming up to cover her mouth. 

 

“What do you mean?” Jeongguk blinks. Everyone in their block knows what Yoongi is like; the guy that looks a little intimidating but is actually incredibly gentle and willing to help anybody that needs it when it comes to their physical projects. He’s not bad at theory either, but song production is where he excels.

 

“You know, like... in bed,” the girl says with a huff, as if it should be inherently obvious to Jeongguk. He hates such questions, not understanding their need to know the ins and outs of relationships that don’t concern them in any way. 

 

“We haven’t done anything like that yet,” he replies nonchalantly, leaning over his text book to appear as though he’s reading a paragraph in the hopes that she’ll get the message that he isn’t about to discuss his sex life in the middle of a classroom. Even if he and Yoongi had one, he wouldn’t be sharing the details with those he barely knows.

 

“Are you waiting for marriage?” Her friend pipes up, looking at him with an expression that he knows is a silent way of deeming him a loser. Again, he couldn’t care less. 

 

“No, we’re just taking things slowly. We’ve only been together for two weeks.” He puts his pen to paper, inking a string of letters that don’t form words across the lines of his notebook. Somewhere in amongst them is Yoongi’s name. 

 

“But you’ve known each other since the beginning of time! You’re telling me that not once in all these years, has he tried to hit it?” 

 

Jeongguk does roll his eyes this time. “You are aware that people are perfectly capable of maintaining a platonic friendship before realising that they’ve developed romantic feelings with the absence of lust, right? Sex isn’t the be all, end all of a relationship. The emotional side of things is more important to the both of us at the moment, and I am perfectly content with that.”

 

“Didn’t take you for the sappy kind. Shame. Let us know when you do get to the good part, though.” 

 

Jeongguk will absolutely not be letting anybody know anything, but he nods regardless, just to make them drop the subject. He crosses out the illegible mess of letters with haphazard lines, penning a neat title half way down the page in an attempt to actually do something productive with his time. 

 

He gets a reprieve for all of two minutes, enough time to have written a grand total of four bullet points, before they’re at it again. “I bet Yoongi is great at kissing,” one of them says, and though it’s not spoken directly to him, Jeongguk knows they’re waiting for him to affirm as such.

 

“With a mouth that pretty? There’s no way that he isn’t. I bet he can make you feel all kinds of things just with those lips.” They burst into a fit of childish giggles, faces tucked in their elbows to try and stifle the noise. Jeongguk sighs, tempted to pack up his things and visit Jimin’s studio for some peace and quiet. 

 

He’d visit Yoongi in one of the music block’s own studios, but he doesn’t want to disturb him and Namjoon. They’re working on something that’s lead to a multitude of ‘Remember to eat! And for the love of god, take a break at some point today!’ texts from himself, and one too many nights spent counting the hours since he’d last caught sight of them both. More so, Yoongi, who sometimes doesn’t come home, even when the soft blue of the early hours makes way for a warm, orange glow.

 

“You must’ve kissed, right?” There’s expectation in her voice, as if Jeongguk is about to launch into a spiel oddly similar to Britney’s Toxic, about how crazily love drunk Yoongi’s kisses make him feel. “Surely, you’re not prude enough for a little tongue action.”

 

“The length of time that someone takes to choose to engage in sexual activity doesn’t equate to them being prude,” he offers as an answer, effectively avoiding the question both out of inability to lie so blatantly and pettiness. “I don’t know why you’re so keen to know all this, it’s not like you’re the one he’s going to be fucking, is it? So, unless you want to talk about something of actual worth, leave me out of this conversation.” 

 

They fall quiet, blinking at him with their lips parted, as if they can’t quite comprehend what he’s just told them. He smiles as sweetly as he can, before closing his notebook and stuffing it into his bag. He knows that he can repeat the same thing till he’s blue in the face and they’ll still press for answers. 

 

There’s an hour left of the session, but he’s already registered and it’s reached the point in the year where the lecturers have grown slack when it comes to marking the students that end up skipping as absent. They likely won’t even notice that he’s gone, too busy signing off emails to pay close attention to the goings on in the classroom. 

 

He slings the strap of his backpack over his shoulder, ignoring the protests of “We didn’t mean to upset you, Doll! You don’t have to leave!” as he tucks his chair beneath the table. Upset isn’t the right word. He’s not about to start crying, but there is something about the way they talk that has his skin prickling uncomfortably. 

 

“I’m not upset, just tired of your lack of capacity to talk about anything else. I don’t pay millions of won just to sit and listen to you on repeat,” he mumbles, as he turns to leave. It’s not a lie. He hasn’t indebted himself to a student loan to not get any work done.

 

He envies those from backgrounds that allow them to attend university without a care in the world as to whether or not they graduate with the best grades, showing up only for the stereotypical experience depicted in the movies; overly dramatic gatherings and experimentation in order to find one’s true self. But despite his envy of their lifestyle, he doesn’t particularly want to be like them. He’s yet to meet someone of their type that doesn’t look down on those with thinner pockets. 

 

Except for maybe Seokjin, whom he’s convinced has neglected to tell their circle of friends that he’s actually a millionaire with several houses and a yacht to his name. Though Jeongguk supposes he has some revelations of his own for the next time he sees him, what with his eldest hyung questioning the authenticity of he and Yoongi. But he knew that Seokjin would be the hardest to convince - it takes an actor to know one, after all.

 

He reconsiders visiting Yoongi as he exits the music block, the elaborate plan of video calling Seokjin from the studio in the hopes of making it seem as though he’s spending time with his boyfriend springing to mind. But he quickly decides against it, passing the building in which the studios are housed to leave campus altogether. Being a music major, Jeongguk spends a large portion of his time inside them, which his friends are more than aware of. Seokjin will think nothing of him lounging in one of the large chairs, humming mindlessly to whichever tune Yoongi happens to be producing.

 

Jimin’s studio is only a short walk away anyway, visible from the campus gates and Jeongguk’s best bet at somewhere to study with minimal chances of disturbing anybody. Jimin doesn’t tend to stay late, shooting for clients that seek him out via his online portfolio during the morning, before heading to class in the afternoon. He works hard enough for it to feel like Jeongguk barely gets to see him these days. 

 

Even though he made the time to shoot some photos for he and Yoongi the previous week, it wasn’t the quality time binging cheesy romance films that Yoongi tries to deny he cries at and playing an unfair round of a game that neither Jimin nor Yoongi know how to play, like he’s used to. Taehyung often joins them during those nights too, but with exam season looming, he’s not around as much as Jeongguk would like him to be either. 

 

In a way, it makes things easier. Less time spent with them, means less pressure on he and Yoongi to uphold their couple status when not in class. But for the most part, Jeongguk misses the comfort of his best friends. 

 

Despite the small distance, the heat of the sun and the slight ascent in the walkway has him breathing a little heavier as he reaches the entrance of the building, temple resting against one of the elevator panels when he steps inside and hits the button for the seventh floor. He hopes he’s heading in the right direction. There’s a vague recollection of Jimin mentioning something ending in seven last time, but he’d been a little too preoccupied by the weight of Yoongi’s hand in his own to take much notice. 


The area looks familiar as he steps out, and there’s no way that the Polaroid photos featuring shots of different ocean scenery tacked to the door aren’t the works of one Park Jimin. They’re hard to miss, along with the neat keyhole and thick number pad keeping the room secure. With so much valuable equipment inside, the chances of Jeongguk being able to turn the handle and wander in without resistance or some kind of startling alarm making his ears ring are very slim. 

 

He sighs, debating whether or not it’s appropriate to ask Jimin if he can drop off the keys and allow him to use the space for a while at such a time. He’s probably in class right now, too and it wouldn’t be fair. It’s either that, or he stands here trying to guess the password to the secondary lock mechanism, installed precisely for moments like this in which one forgets their keys. Or in his case, doesn’t own any keys. 

 

He’s not sure if doing so counts as breaking and entering, but he’s pretty certain that Jimin won’t have him arrested for sitting in the middle of the floor, finishing up his notes. Regardless, he feels like an idiot for not having considered an obstacle such as this before he’d decided to make the trek over. But he can’t exactly say that he’s been one to make wise decisions lately, in the first place.

 

Jimin is sentimental, so his password is likely to be a date significant to him; the day he brought home a pet or when he first met a friend, maybe even the day he moved to the big city to start university. Regrettably, Jeongguk knows only one of those dates, punching in five, one, five and huffing in defeat as a red light flashes with a drony sequence of beeps that only worsens the feeling of idiocy. 

 

On a whim, he presses one, zero, one, three and finds himself blinking in shock when the light turns green and the lock clicks. He’s not foolish enough to berate Jimin for setting his birthday as the code; he’s smarter than some give him credit for, likely keeping it simple in case of emergencies and countering any protests against such a decision with “only those I want to know, know my birth date.”  Again, he’s sentimental. He’d rather have a select but meaningful few celebrate his birthday than the masses that congratulate him out of obligation. 

 

Jeongguk pushes lightly at the door with his fingertips, wary of knocking anything that lies behind it over. He’d sacrifice next month’s loan to replace accidental breakages in a heartbeat, but he’d rather avoid such casualties to begin with. To his surprise, Jimin is sat at the table that his equipment had lived on last time, only now there’s an array of film shots scattered above a large book that Jeongguk can only assume is his portfolio. He’s not seen it before due to Jimin’s desire to have it perfected before revealing its contents. 

 

Jimin looks up when the door creaks under the pressure, eyes widening as he takes in the sight of Jeongguk. He smiles warmly, but tilts his head in question, clearly awaiting an explanation as to why Jeongguk is barging into his space at nearing four ‘o’ clock in the afternoon. 

 

“Hi, hyung! Sorry to bother you, I didn’t realise you’d be here,” Jeongguk says, closing the door behind him. “Study room got a little too loud for me today. I wanted someplace quiet to finish my notes and I thought here would be ideal, but if you’re busy, I’ll go home. I don’t want to be a distraction.”

 

“You’re never a bother, Ggukie.” Jimin pats the chair beside his own, carefully securing a corner to one of the photos with his other hand. “If you’re happy to work around my mess, you’re more than welcome to share this space with me. I trust that you aren’t about to rifle through my photos and ask a million questions like some do when they visit - namely one Kim Taehyung.” 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head, bag resting against the leg of the table as he sets it down, pulling his notebook free. Taehyung has always had a passion for the arts, so it comes as no surprise that he likes to learn the motives behind compositions or the reasons for certain muses. And as much as Jimin teases, Jeongguk has no doubts that he takes pride in answering said questions. 

 

Rightfully so, too. His shots never fall short of stunning, captured with more than just a nice sight in mind, but the emotions evoked through looking at it. Something that’s amplified tenfold when featuring people as the focus, especially when it comes to those he knows and cherishes.

 

“I’ll just admire them from afar,” Jeongguk says, digging around for a pen. The photos strewn across the table look to be freshly developed, colours vibrant and clear. He daren’t touch them for fear of leaving grubby prints behind. “You won’t even notice I’m here.”

 

“I know you didn’t come here just because of the noise, Gguk,” Jimin says softly, arranging several shots across a double page spread before reaching for a fresh box of corners. “I don’t even have to look at you to know that something is bothering you. I can feel you fidgeting from here, and I want you to know that I’m willing to listen to whatever’s on your mind.”

 

Jeongguk sighs. Being so easily readable is a trait of his that he despises the most, not even aware that his feelings are as clear as day more often than he’d like. “There’s a couple girls in my class that I chat to sometimes that were prying about Yoongi today,” he says, pen swirling in directionless loops over the margin of his page.

 

“They must’ve said something you didn’t like if you’re dropping the honorific. Were they nasty?” Jimin asks, gaze flicking between him and the photo corner perched on the pad of his index finger. 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head. “Not exactly. They were asking personal things, talking about hyung as if he’s some kind of object that lives and breathes sex, as if he doesn’t have any personality at all. I don’t understand why they’re so interested in his sex life and it’s unsettling. I’m probably overreacting, but I couldn’t bear to be around them any longer.” 

 

“It’s normal to feel that way, Gguk. You’re not overreacting, that’s your boyfriend they’re talking about, and I can’t imagine it being comfortable for most people to hear such things about their partners,” Jimin replies, giving him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “That, and your relationship is just beginning. Everyone feels a little more possessive in the honeymoon stage.”

 

Jeongguk’s not sure that the itchy prickling beneath his skin is the result of feeling possessive. Yoongi is free to do whatever he wants with whomever he pleases and he fully acknowledges as such. In fact, he doesn’t think it's strictly possible to be possessive over someone that isn’t technically his to start with. 

 

“Obviously, I can’t quite relate in the same way, but I do understand how you’re feeling,” Jimin continues, squeezing Jeongguk’s shoulder before returning to his arrangement. “I hate those types of people. I know you probably don’t enjoy hearing about this, but when Yoongi-hyung and I were hooking up, we’d get those kind of comments all the time. It wasn’t like we were loud about it, you know? We didn’t broadcast it to anyone that would listen that we were sleeping together, but once one person had put two and two together, suddenly everyone just had to know. They seemed to forget that above all else, we were friends with more to ourselves and each other than sharing a bed once in a while.” 

 

Jeongguk frowns. He probably should’ve considered the fact that placing both he and Yoongi in the couple’s limelight would lead to them being seen as nothing but that very thing. A couple. Two people in a romantic relationship, irrelevant without the other. The sad reality of both that and the thought of Jimin being on the receiving end of unwarranted dirty comments makes his nose wrinkle.

 

“Hyungie,” Jeongguk says softly, clicking the top of his pen so it’ll stop drawing before he wastes all of the ink on pointless scribbles. “It doesn’t bother me at all when you talk about you and hyung, you know that, right? I don’t look at you and see you only as the person hyung once hooked up with, I see you as the hardworking best friend that you are and who I know I can talk to whenever I need.”

 

As Yoongi’s boyfriend, maybe he should be making more of an effort to make it seem as though he does care. Most people wouldn’t be comfortable with the fact that their friend has slept with their partner at some point. But as both he and Jimin’s friend, he wants them to know that he doesn’t feel and has never felt anything negative towards them. 

 

Besides, he’s not going to win that microphone by promoting a relationship full of insecurity. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, pretend or not, and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t make it clear to everyone they come across that he has full faith in Yoongi. In every sense of the word, too. 

 

So far, save for the few occasions in which Yoongi has taken him by surprise and left him a little flustered, he’s been nothing but respectful of Jeongguk’s boundaries and he has no doubts that he’ll continue to be. If the darned magnet was here, Jeongguk knows it would be saying something along the lines of “so, that’s why you’re thinking of lowering them?” in response to such thoughts. He’s tempted to shove it to the back of a deep draw so it will stop taunting him, but he knows how fond of it Yoongi is.

 

“You’re such a kind soul, Gguk,” Jimin says, offering the same warm smile he’d greeted him with. “Yoongi really did strike gold with you.”

 

“Says you,” Jeongguk replies, poking at Jimin’s arm with the top of his pen. “I’m yet to meet someone as kind as you. Even when you bitch about the people you find annoying, you’re somehow still polite. I bet you could floor someone if you wanted to, though.”

 

Jimin laughs, shaking his head. “I’m not sure about that. Unless hyung breaks your heart, then I won’t hesitate. But I’m sure you could take care of that yourself, Mr. ‘I bench press two times my weight for fun’ .”

 

“Oh, shut up, hyung,” Jeongguk tries to say semi-seriously, but he can’t hold back a giggle of his own and that only spurs Jimin on more, until there are tears collecting at the corners of his eyes. 

 

Jeongguk’s phone vibrates in his pocket, a helpful distraction that allows him to regain his composure. He has half a mind to ignore it, likely a message from one of his classmates or perhaps an email from his lecturer having finally noticed his absence, but his curiosity gets the better of him and he tugs it free as it vibrates once again, screen lighting up with a message from Yoongi.

 

From: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 4:02PM

 

You hiding in the toilet or something, Bun?

I thought I’d do my boyfriendly duties and walk you home from class, but I can’t see you. 

 

 

To: Dumpling Hyung

Sent: 4:02PM

 

I’m at Jimin-hyung’s studio. I left study room early to get some peace and quiet.   

But stay where you are, I’ll come meet you!   

Thanks for being so sweet, hyungie :)♡

 

“Is that lover boy?” Jimin asks, smirking at Jeongguk with a knowing look in his eye. “You get a certain glow about you whenever you’re around him, I guess that translates into his cyber presence too.”

 

Jeongguk has no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but he nods even so, re-pocketing his phone and closing his notebook. So much for finishing his notes this afternoon. “He’s waiting for me outside class, so I better head back. Thanks for not kicking me out, even if I was nothing but a distraction.”

 

Jimin shakes his head, accompanied by the wave of a hand. “I can multitask, Gguk. I’d much rather be an ear for your ailments than sit in silence attaching little plastic corners to photos until I lose my mind, anyway.”

 

“Don’t tell Yoongi-hyung, but you’re my favourite,” Jeongguk says playfully, lightly bumping a fist against Jimin’s shoulder as he passes him to head for the door. 

 

Jimin laughs, but it’s quickly followed by a kiss to his teeth. “Somehow, I highly doubt that. Especially seeing as you’re practically bouncing on the balls of your feet at the thought of seeing him. You’re adorable, you know? I’m tempted to slip your names into the ‘cutest couple’ box on campus.” 

 

Jeongguk’s pretty sure he’s doing no such thing, feet planted firmly on the ground. Jimin is exaggerating, working hard to read into the little mannerisms that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. But he’ll accept it as a victory - one down, twenty-seven thousand, nine hundred and ninety seven people left to convince to do the same. 

 

Realistically, Jeongguk knows that they won’t be able to convince the entirety of the university’s population to vote for them, but he can wish so. Wishful thinking is better than resigning to the fate of there being no chance of them winning, all of their efforts gone to waste. 

 

“Do you really think we’re cute, hyung?” Jeongguk asks. “Are we well matched? Please be a hundred percent honest with me.”

 

He knows the question will come across to Jimin as though he’s experiencing momentary self-doubt, something Jimin won’t lie to him in the face of. Not that he doesn’t trust his hyung to tell him the truth, but people are prone to overstating new couples for the sake of making them happy, even if they’re completely wrong for one another. He wants to hear Jimin’s honest thoughts, to gauge whether or not he and Yoongi need to work harder. 

 

“Jeongguk,” Jimin says, in a voice that resembles that of an angered parent. “I haven’t watched you two quietly adore each other for years, waiting for one of you to finally confess so that you could be as happy as you deserved to be, to not think that you’re good together. People would kill for a friendship like yours, let alone knowing they get the added bonus of romanticism.” 

 

Again, Jeongguk’s not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean. He and Yoongi adore each other, as all lifelong friends do, but not in a way that he thinks could ever come across as there being something more than platonic between them. 

 

“Just checking,” he opts for replying with a shrug, tugging the strap of his bag back up as it slips. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell what people truly think of us. With the way some people talk, it makes me question the motive behind their compliments, you know?” 

 

“That’s understandable, but I’m not one of the girls trying to work my way into your pants. I’m genuinely happy for you, Gguk. For Yoongi, too.” Jeongguk believes him. Jimin has always been open when it comes to his feelings, and now must be no exception. “Now, go! Don’t keep your man waiting.” 

 

Jeongguk pushes a sudden impending sense of guilt to the back of his mind as he pulls on the handle, trying to clear his thoughts until there’s nothing but white noise. He hates lying. 

 

But his competitive streak hates losing. 

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

Yoongi is the epitome of every cliché university boyfriend, hip cocked against the door frame and phone in hand, thumb sliding across the screen as he scrolls nonchalantly, waiting for Jeongguk to approach him. He will, but he can’t help but slow his steps a little, eager to observe for as long as possible. Surprisingly, there’s nobody crowding Yoongi like Jeongguk had expected, in fact, they barely spare him a glance as they leave the room. It calms the uncomfortable prickling that had settled over his skin and he breathes a sigh of relief, bumping his shoulder against Yoongi’s as he finally reaches him.

 

“Hey, Bun,” Yoongi says, pulling him into a one armed hug. He makes a point of linking their fingers when he pulls away, glancing over his shoulder and grinning bashfully as he catches the eye of one of the students on their way out. It’s a smart tactic. “How was study room today?”

 

Jeongguk shrugs, tugging Yoongi towards the exit. “Not that great. There’s something I want to talk to you about, actually, but it can wait till we’re out of here.” 

 

Yoongi hums, swinging their hands between them as they walk. “It doesn’t happen to have anything to do with me camping at the studio these past few days, does it?” He asks, lower lip jutting out in a slight pout as he looks at Jeongguk. He’s starting to wonder if Yoongi hasn’t been working at all, but instead studying the cheesiest dramas he can find to take tips from the male protagonists. “Namjoon went home every night, I promise.”

 

Jeongguk frowns. “Why would I need to talk to you about that? You’re a grown man, hyung. If you want to not come home and have us worry that you’ll wither away to nothing having not eaten in days, that’s up to you.” 

 

"Play along,” Yoongi mouths, narrowly avoiding walking into the door instead of through it as he continues to look at Jeongguk. “There’s nothing to worry about. I only have eyes for you, Bun.”

 

Jeongguk squeezes their fingers in reply, unable to come up with a verbal response. It’s not that he can’t think of anything to say, rather his throat feels dry and his pulse is thumping in his ears. Yoongi giggles, squeezing in return. “You’re so cute, I could kiss you.”

 

Someone coos from behind them, turning to speak to their friend about how they envy Jeongguk. It brings the uncomfortable feeling back, only this time there’s a tight knot twisting his gut, forcing him to bite his tongue in order to not say something stupid. 

 

He manages to hold it until the pair pass and he and Yoongi are on their way outside of campus. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about...” Jeongguk says, voice barely above a whisper. He swallows several times in the hopes of clearing his throat, fighting the heat that threatens to fill his cheeks for the thousandth time in a mere two weeks. 

 

Yoongi waits for him to go on, steering them both around a lamp post and in the general direction of their apartment. When Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, he asks, “About people being envious of you? I know that I warned you about limiting yourself when you first thought about dating me, but the same never applied to me, Gguk. I have no interest in our classmates, you don’t have to worry about me ditching you halfway to the deadline for any of them. Unless you want to talk about it because you’ve got your eye on someone, then of course, I’m all ears.”

 

Jeongguk shakes his head, fingers growing sweaty under the weight of Yoongi’s palm. “No, not that. I - Remember what we spoke about after the shoot?”

 

Yoongi blinks at him, mouth falling open in the way it often does when he’s thinking or concentrating, something Jeongguk has never been able to stop himself from feeling utterly endeared by. “You were serious about that? You really want to try kissing me?” 

 

Jeongguk nods, bringing his free hand up to nibble at the skin of his thumb, a nervous habit he’d picked up from his hyung years ago. “It makes sense, doesn’t it? There were a couple of girls in class today who asked about it and I realised that if we want to win that microphone, we can’t just hold hands forever, right? Anyone can hold a hand, not everyone shares kisses. At least, not on the lips.” 

 

Yoongi scoffs, picking up the pace of his swinging until it tugs at their muscles, like a parent often does with their young child to make them laugh. “You don’t have to force yourself into anything just because people are nosy,” he says, leading them into the building. He keeps his voice low as they enter the lobby, “but if it’s really something you want to try, then we’ll try, yeah? Maybe it’ll be what we need to convince Jin-hyung to warm up to the idea of us.” 

 

“I hate lying to everyone,” Jeongguk says, nothing more than a quiet murmur. They’ve been doing too well to have someone overhear and rat them out. “Jimin-hyung is more than convinced. He’s truly happy for us and I can’t stand the fact that that happiness is for nothing. Shall we tell him the truth?”

 

Yoongi hums in thought. “If you want to. I can’t say that I’m a fan of lying either, but I kind of assumed we were pulling that typical stunt where we wait until we’ve bagged the prize to tell them. It’s probably not the best idea to admit to faking things to Jin-hyung just yet, though. He’s already confused enough.” He sighs, letting their hands fall between them as they start the multi-story ascent to their apartment. “And maybe it’s selfish but - I’m kind of having fun living this lie for now? I know we haven’t exactly gone all out yet, but it’s been a while since anyone’s been willing to hold my hand as much as this and it’s nice…”

 

Jeongguk laughs, squeezing their fingers once again. “You’re such a sap, hyung. You didn’t have to agree to pretend to date me in order to get me to hold your hand, you know? You could’ve just asked.”

 

“Mm, I know. I’m just saying that I’m certainly not complaining now that we are,” Yoongi replies, leaning against the bannister for a breath as they reach the third floor. 

 

Jeongguk supposes that despite his inability to say anything explicitly romantic (though having been ‘together’ for only two weeks, he thinks he’s getting better at doing so) and the way that Yoongi’s words make him feel as though he can’t breathe sometimes, (sometimes being a lot of the time for reasons he can’t quite fathom) he’s not complaining either.

 

And maybe, he kind of enjoys the fact that every time Yoongi refers to him as Bun, people know they can’t do the same. He takes comfort in the thought of it being well known that it’s only for the two of them. “Hey, hyung, would you be comfortable with me calling you something else? Like a pet name? It’s just that you always call me Bun and it might seem a little strange if I don’t reciprocate the term of endearment. They might think we’re faking it to win the competition or something,” he grins, to which Yoongi laughs. 

 

“Go for it,” Yoongi says, sighing as he leans over the banister to count the remaining flights left until they reach their floor. “What did you have in mind?”

 

Their apartment resides on the eighth floor and they’ve only climbed three, but Jeongguk is grateful for the alone time it allows him to share with Yoongi. He’d mentioned having a discussion about things they may or may not want to add to their lists and the remaining five floors seems like an opportune time to do just that. 

 

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it in depth, but…” Jeongguk pauses to think for a moment, a thousand different names of varying degrees of cringey circling his thoughts. “What about kitten?”

 

Jeongguk is pretty certain that at least one person at each outing they go on will strike a conversation with Yoongi just to tell him that he has a close resemblance to a cat of some sort. It’s happened many a time in the past, resulting in Yoongi mumbling a word of confused thanks and burying his face in Jeongguk’s shoulder in embarrassment. 

 

Yoongi pauses again, only this time he’s blinking up at Jeongguk with an unreadable expression. “Not -” He clears his throat. “Not that one. Maybe pick something else?” Jeongguk can’t help but notice the way his cheeks have taken on a light dusting of red at such a suggestion.

 

“If you insist,” he says with a shrug, mounting the stairs two at a time. “How about treble clef? Music is important to the both of us, it holds a double meaning.”

 

“Couldn’t possibly think of anything more romantic,” Yoongi replies sarcastically, but it’s quickly followed by a giggle. “For it is the East, and Juliet is the treble clef.” 

 

Jeongguk laughs. “I admit, it doesn’t roll off the tongue, but this is harder than you’d think, hyung. Maybe it has to come naturally. I really think that kitten suits you best, though.” 

 

Yoongi visibly huffs, shoulders moving rather dramatically with the sound. “Start calling me kitten and see what happens, Gguk. I don’t think you’ll like it.” 

 

It sounds like a threat but the gentle flush on his cheeks has blossomed into something darker, and it does nothing against tempting Jeongguk to try it. He cocks an eyebrow, but Yoongi just shakes his head, quietly telling him to drop it. “Okay, no endearments of a feline nature. Got it.” 

 

He doesn’t got it. He just has to wait for the right moment to drop it at the end of a sentence, surprising Yoongi in return for the previous occasions in which he’d flustered Jeongguk. 

 

“What about sugar plum?” He suggests. He’s running out of ideas now that his initial plan has been foiled. In all honesty, Jeongguk had originally thought of calling Yoongi kitten to represent a slightly warped yet somehow still cute rendition of cat and mouse. Kitten and Bun, chasing each other’s tails. “You’re small, round and sweet.” 

 

“Are you calling me fat?” Yoongi scoffs, though Jeongguk knows he’s taking no real offence.

 

“As in your cheeks, hyungie,” Jeongguk replies, reaching to squish one between his fingers. He pulls a pouty face, mimicking the sounds one would make at a baby. 

 

“Mm, I’m not really feeling that,” Yoongi says, batting Jeongguk’s hand away from his face. “Why are you trying to be so unconventional? What’s wrong with a simple ‘baby’?” 

 

Jeongguk sighs. “I don’t want to be boring, hyung. We’ve known each other for so long, people are probably expecting our pet names to have a lengthy history and a very deep explanation.” He raises an eyebrow. “Unless you want me to call you baby.”

 

Yoongi shakes his head, cheeks darkening once again. “It was just a question,” he says, untangling his fingers from Jeongguk’s to push open the door leading to their floor. 

 

“You know what, I’m just going to surprise you,” Jeongguk replies, flexing his fingers with a satisfying crack. “Consider this a warning in advance.”

 

He ignores the strange feeling of emptiness that accompanies the lack of weight on his palm, fumbling in his pocket for the keys. Yoongi is probably carrying his own and being the elder of the two of them, is likely to open the door out of courtesy (something he’s been doing for as long as Jeongguk can remember) but he needs to keep his hands occupied before he does something stupid, like reach out and intertwine their fingers again for no apparent reason. 

 

“If you end up calling me love muffin or something ridiculous in public, I will break up with you on the spot,” Yoongi says, winking before speeding down the hall towards their apartment. Jeongguk chuckles at the way his ears turn red as he goes, grateful that he’s not the only one that gets a little flustered.

 

He’s not going to settle for something overused, but he’s not going to be the kind of guy that has everyone around them miming a gag because of the cringeworthy words falling from his mouth either. Maybe something fitting will come naturally, as he’d said. If not, he’ll just have to resort to the pet name equivalent of baby names dot com and pick the one that doesn’t make him want to crawl into a hole at the thought of using it in reference to another person.

 

He has more important things to worry about than which term of endearment he uses for his faux boyfriend, anyway. Like the fact that within the next few hours he’ll be able to say that his lips have graced Min Yoongi’s own. 


It’s better that they get it over with now, because despite what Yoongi had said about nobody caring if they kiss in public or not, Jeongguk is inclined to believe the opposite after his earlier experience and he doesn’t want to be the subject of bothersome questions for the remainder of the year. He doesn’t want them to hassle Yoongi either, and being able to kiss him openly seems like the only reasonable solution to that at present. 

 

Jeongguk stifles a yawn as he trails after Yoongi, dropping his keys into the bowl on the kitchen counter and knocking the door shut with his heel. Pretending to date someone has been far more exhausting than he’d anticipated and the funny thing is it’s not once been because of Yoongi himself. It’s stupid that there’s knots in his stomach and chips in his teeth where he grinds them so hard listening to people talk.

 

He wonders if real couples feel the same amount of stress, if not more when it comes to how people speak and act in regards to their partners. Jimin had said that most people would be uncomfortable and Jeongguk guesses that’s true, but he’s not supposed to be feeling like they do. He’s not supposed to be feeling at all.

 

He shakes his head, setting his bag on one of the stools beside the counter. He’s just feeling protective over a long time friend, that’s all. Romantic attachment or not, Jeongguk is still allowed to have a distaste for those that objectify his hyung. It’s normal. 

 

“Are you okay, Gguk?” Taehyung asks from his position on the sofa - upside down, head almost touching the floor and legs draped over the back cushions. He’s still wearing his shoes, and Jeongguk would scold him if he didn’t lack the energy. But in all fairness, he can’t have been home long and Jeongguk doesn’t blame him for wanting to sit and do a whole lot of nothing for a while.

 

“Yeah, just tired,” Jeongguk replies, offering him a small smile. “Hyung and I are going to work on a project, but if you’ve got time, let’s play Overwatch afterwards? I feel like I don’t see you enough lately.”

 

Taehyung laughs. “I see you every day at some point, Gguk. But I know what you mean, pre-exam season is a bitch, huh? There’s passages of art history glued to my retinas and questionably coloured smudges of oil pastel that won’t come out of my shirt. It’ll be nice to use my hands for something other than a canvas.”

 

“It’s worth it though, right? One day your name will be in the Museum of Art, not just in Korea but worldwide. Everyone will know of the talented yet mysterious Kim Vante,” Jeongguk says. Taehyung is right, exam season is a bitch and he’s grateful that the worst of it is still yet to come for he and Yoongi. He tries his best to keep his friends motivated every year because he knows first hand what being overly self-critical results in: crying in your best friend’s lap until midnight, running on one sad coffee and three hours of sleep.

 

“Will you visit my exhibitions?” Taehyung asks, though Jeongguk knows that he knows there’s only one answer to such a question. “I know you’ll probably be famous by then, singing your little heart out and inducing tears. Maybe you can sing a piece for the documentary about my life as an artist if you get time. Yoongi can produce it.”

 

“Even if I was the most famous man in the world, I’d still make time for every single one, hyung. You better not forget that,” Jeongguk replies, flicking Taehyung’s ankle as he passes.

 

Instead of carrying on to his own room, he turns down the short hall towards Yoongi’s. Though the apartment is hardly large, the bedroom at the end of the hall is the farthest from the living area, giving whomever resides in it a little more privacy. Jeongguk isn’t sure how well he’d fair at kissing Yoongi while listening intently for any sign of Taehyung approaching, a hundred excuses as to what they’re doing with their mouths that isn’t what it looks like on standby in his mind.

 

Yoongi has told him many a time that he needn’t knock, but he wraps his knuckles hard against the wood of the door, anyway, unsure as to whether or not he’ll be able to hear him. Despite having met Jeongguk on campus after leaving the studio for the day, Yoongi likely has his headphones on, the file for his and Namjoon’s latest project open on screen because the concept of taking breaks is something he often forgets about.

 

“Is it dinner time already?” Jeongguk gets in response, followed by the sound of bare feet padding across laminate flooring. Yoongi opens the door, frowning when he sees Jeongguk’s lack of a plate filled with food. “No? Shame. I’m rather hungry.” 

 

Jeongguk tuts, playfully shouldering Yoongi out of the way to plonk himself on his bed, spreading his arms and legs like a very large starfish. Yoongi’s bed is the standard one that they fit in all student housing, but it somehow always feels more comfortable than his own. He feels calmer in here too, like Yoongi’s peaceful mood reflects off the walls, as opposed to the pent up, angry energy flying around Jeongguk’s room.

 

“I’ll whip you up a neat cup of instant ramen if you kiss me,” Jeongguk says, deciding to get straight to the point. If he waits any longer, he knows he’ll chicken out and that’ll only result in what he really doesn’t want. “I’ll even give you extra seasoning.” 

 

They can’t afford to waste their extra packets, what with their food budget already being tight, but Jeongguk needs an incentive to move them along quickly. He hears Yoongi scoff from the other side of the room and braces himself for rejection, though knowing his hyung, he’ll barely make it sound like he’s turning him down at all. He’s always been one to let them down easy.

 

“When you said you wanted to try it, I didn’t exactly think you meant right now, or even today for that matter,” Yoongi says, taking a seat at his desk. It’s adjacent to the bed and with the way he’s laying, Jeongguk can’t see him, but he can feel his gaze sweeping over him, searching, as if he’s looking for the answer to a question Jeongguk is yet to ask. 

 

He sighs. “If you’d prefer not to, then let’s not do it today, hyung. It’s just that I would much rather get it over with than leave each other waiting in anticipation, listening to the whiny drones of how we’re taking too long and should hurry the fuck up.”

 

“Gguk-ah, how many times do I have to tell you? I know we’re doing this to win over the hearts of our block, but we don’t need to rush for their sake. We still have a few months before the winners are announced, which is plenty of time to get used to each other gradually,” Yoongi says, shifting in his seat to tuck his legs beneath him. “We need to have that discussion we talked about first, set our boundaries before jumping into the action, okay?”

 

Of course they need to talk about boundaries because only in a warped universe would Yoongi ever neglect to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Even if they’d already touched on the topic when writing their lists, his heart is too big to allow for any form of misunderstanding and undue hard feelings. 

 

“Then let’s have it now,” Jeongguk suggests, closing his eyes. “Tell me what you wouldn’t be comfortable with me doing. For example, say I walked into the studio on campus and kissed you in front of Namjoon, is that a strike on the metaphorical chart of ‘the worst things your fake boyfriend can do’?”

 

“Not exactly,” Yoongi replies. A draw opens and a pen clicks, the sound of it scratching across paper following almost immediately. “I wouldn’t say it’s one of the worst things you could do, but I’d appreciate it if you could warn me if you wish to do such a thing beforehand, so I can prepare myself for it. Apart from that, you can kiss me at any time and place you please. Ah, except that I wouldn’t be okay with you kissing me in the presence of my parents, just because I don’t want to deal with the aftermath of them thinking one of us broke up with the other somewhere down the line.”

 

Jeongguk nods. That’s more than understandable - his own mother would raise hell if she thought that he’d hurt Yoongi in any way. “Anything else? What about when it comes to the actual kissing?”

 

“I don’t have any objections to that. Not that I’m all that well versed in the different types of kisses, but I’m yet to find a style that I don’t find particularly pleasant. Just don’t try to consume the entirety of the lower half of my face, that’s not cute.” 

 

“Can’t say I had any plans to,” Jeongguk replies, nose wrinkling as images of his classmates pressing their partners against the noticeboards and shoving their tongues down their throats spring to mind. It’s something he’s witnessed one too many times for his liking in the three years he’s been visiting the music block. He wouldn’t want to subject anyone to that of his own accord, even if for some bizarre reason they seem to want it. “That’s a no for me, too. I don’t really have any other big no nos, but don’t bite my lips. I think I already wrote that down, right?”

 

Yoongi hums, shuffling the papers on his desk. “Yeah, you did,” he says after a moment, scratching a line beneath the text to emphasise the point. “Worried I’ll burst your lip or something? I’m not one for doing that kind of thing in public anyway, so you don’t need to.”

 

“Mm, no. I’m not worried about my lips. It’s me that’ll burst if you try it,” Jeongguk says rather brashly, giggling as the pen Yoongi had presumably been writing with lands on his stomach and bounces onto the duvet. He can almost feel the eye roll aimed in his direction. 

 

He’s not sure what compelled him to share such a detail, but it’s not like they haven’t discussed things of that nature before. Though admittedly, it was never about them specifically and usually involved the presence of the others and a whole lot of light-hearted teasing directed at whoever had initiated the conversation.

 

“That’s more information than I wanted, thanks, Gguk,” Yoongi says, leaning forward to retrieve his pen and scribbling “ABSOLUTELY DO NOT” in all capitals next to the line he’d just made.

 

“You were the one that asked,” Jeongguk says cheekily, rolling onto his side and cracking one eye open. Yoongi’s lip is caught between his teeth, a mirror of what he isn’t supposed to initiate, as he writes. “I’m only answering honestly, hyung.”

 

“I asked a simple yes or no question. What happened to Mr ‘I’m not sharing my kinks with you, hyung?’”  Yoongi asks, end of the pen replacing his lip as he studies the lists in front of him. It’s a terrible but oddly endearing habit that he’s had since they were young, resulting more often than not in several rushed trips to the sink with a soaked flannel pressed to his mouth in an attempt to wash the ink out.

 

“I don’t really think that’s classified as a kink,” Jeongguk replies as he rolls back over, settling himself a little more comfortably on the pillows. “That’s more like… I don’t know...”

 

Yoongi laughs at that, shaking his head. “If you say so.”

 

He does say so, only because he’s not really sure. He’s never thought in depth about these things, save for the odd time when a previous boyfriend had asked if there was anything he was interested in trying in the future. He’d taken a moment to think before his mind had gone blank and he’d offered a casual “being emotionally supported.” (They’d broken up shortly after that, but Jeongguk can’t say he was particularly bothered.)

 

“Moral of the story, don't bite my lip and we’ll be fine,” Jeongguk says, willing the thought of such a thing occurring away before he ends up the very opposite of fine. With Yoongi being in such close proximity, the last thing he wants is to embarrass himself.

 

“Got it,” Yoongi replies with a nod, gnawing at the end of his pen in a way that resembles a hamster. Jeongguk is tempted to take a photo to document his hyung at such a cute moment and share it with the others, but he knows the second he pulls out his phone, Yoongi will move. 

 

He watches him silently for a beat, fascinated by his ability to look so sweet doing something potentially detrimental to his health. “That reminds me,” he says then, though there’s really no similarities in what Yoongi is doing and what he’s about to say. “Maybe don’t stick your tongue in my mouth either. Nothing will happen if you do that, I’m just not keen on the idea of slimy appendages in my mouth.”

 

Yoongi wrinkles his nose, but circles the “no tongues” already written down, anyway. “You really have a way of wording things to make them sound utterly disgusting, huh?” he says, with a shake of his head. “But for the record, I wasn’t planning on it.” 

 

“Good. Is that all?” Jeongguk asks.

 

“I don’t know. Is it?” Yoongi counters, tilting his head, much like a puppy. “I already told you, there’s nothing else I’d consider off limits. It’s all on you, now, Gguk.”

 

Jeongguk tugs at the peach fuzz on his chin, pretending to think, when all that’s running through his mind is the image of Yoongi’s full cheeks bunching up as he nibbles his pen. He’s pretty certain that there’s nothing off the top of his head that he’s opposed to, anyway. “I can’t think of anything else.”

 

“But if you do, tell me and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen, okay?” Yoongi says, knocking the lists against the table to stack them neatly against each other before sliding them back into the draw they’d come from.

 

Jeongguk nods, accompanied by a playful salute. “So, will you kiss me, now?” he asks, voice a little less confident than he’d hoped it would be. He won’t lie and say that he’s not nervous, but it’s a different kind of nerves to the anticipation of speaking publicly or performing in front of examiners. The kind of nerves that can’t be explained by words.

 

Yoongi blinks, mouth falling open in that cute way that it does, pen now long since abandoned. “Like, right now?” 

 

“Did I stutter?” Jeongguk asks, opting for the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. Yoongi is less likely to agree to kiss him if he seems too hesitant about it, being the ever considerate man that he is. They’ve been open about their doubts, but Jeongguk wants to appear as though he’s wholly ready now, even if it has only been a little under a week since they’d had that conversation.

 

“Don’t be bratty,” Yoongi replies seriously, but slips into a pout, doing everything to make him seem like the brat and nothing to make him look intimidating. Jeongguk bites the edge of his cheek in order not to laugh. “I’m just making a hundred percent sure.”

 

“I’m a hundred percent sure. Promise, hyung,” Jeongguk says, offering Yoongi a small smile. If he’s not ready today, he never will be. “Let’s get it over with so we can work on winning that microphone.”

 

“What if Taehyung calls us for dinner?” 

 

Jeongguk rolls his eyes. “It’s not going to take hours, hyung. We already discussed the fact that we aren’t going to makeout or anything like that. And hyung and I are going to play Overwatch for a while before dinner, so you don’t need to worry about him bursting in unexpectedly.” He’s not sure if he’s trying to console Yoongi or himself, but it seems to be working regardless.

 

“What about my ramen?” Yoongi asks, slowly spinning himself in the desk chair. Also a habit that he’s had since they were young, though this one less likely to result in a trip to the hospital, unless he goes wild and ends up throwing himself to the ground.

 

“I’ll still make it for you, with extra seasoning. I’m a man of my word, hyung,” Jeongguk replies, holding his pinky in the air in a signal of promise. “I’ll even put it in one of our nicer bowls instead of leaving it in the packaging.”

 

“Okay, deal.” Yoongi stills, unfurling his limbs and clambering onto the bed. There’s barely room for the both of them, but Jeongguk supposes it doesn’t matter considering they’ll be as close as is possible for them to get very shortly.

 

As expected, Yoongi does come closer, hands cushioned on either side of Jeongguk’s head to keep himself upright. And maybe this whole pretending thing is going to his head again, because Jeongguk can’t help but think that he doesn’t mind the thought of kissing his hyung as much as he probably should.

 

And those eyes. Yoongi’s eyes are once again looking at him with something he doesn’t quite understand, foreign but still warm, causing his gut to tighten rather uncomfortably. He pushes Yoongi away as his cheeks heat up, the elder hitting the mattress with a soft “I thought you wanted me to kiss you.”

 

“I do, but that’s… That’s a little too much, hyung. Can we maybe sit up?” Jeongguk asks, avoiding Yoongi’s gaze as he wills the flush he knows is already visible to die down. Not that he’s imagined himself in this situation before, but he was hoping for something a little softer, more secure - something that makes him feel safe like every other part of Yoongi always manages to. 

 

Not that he feels threatened, just taken aback. He doesn’t want kissing Yoongi to feel just like every other experience he’s had in the past. Even if it’s for the sake of making something fake believable, their kisses can’t be falsified and Jeongguk at least wants their first one to be sweet - to be something he won’t cringe about when he looks back on it because the whole thing was rushed and slightly sleazy. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi says, rolling onto his side to face Jeongguk, taking his hand in his own and squeezing his fingers. “I should’ve asked first, but how would you like to do it? Like this but sitting up?” 

 

Jeongguk squeezes back, quietly letting Yoongi know that he isn’t upset. “You said that there’s no point in kissing me before class, so we'll mostly be kissing at parties to humour our classmates or in a homely environment in front of the others, right?”

 

Yoongi nods, waiting patiently for Jeongguk to continue, thumb drawing shapes across the back of his hand. It’s soothing. Safe. Just like he wanted, almost as if Yoongi knows that he needs it.

 

“Then perhaps you could hold me?” he carries on, unsure of how to word what he’s visualising. “I’ll sit on your lap and you can wrap your arms around me? Like a hug but our mouths are connected instead. Only if you’re comfortable with that too, though.” 

 

“I’m not quite sure I’m understanding what you mean but it doesn’t sound like something I’m not okay with. Can you show me? If we don’t like it, we’ll readjust.”

 

Jeongguk nods this time, pushing himself up on his elbows. He sits on his knees, tugging on Yoongi’s hand to get him to do the same. He’s sat on Yoongi’s lap countless times throughout his life, more often than not to tuck his arms around his middle and fall asleep with hands carding gently through his hair. 

 

But this time is different and his heart is telling him so, thumping against his ribs as he shuffles across the fabric of the duvet to plant his legs on either side of Yoongi’s. He unlinks their fingers to take hold of Yoongi’s wrist, settling it where he thinks it should go, despite not being able to see behind him.

 

“You comfortable like this?” Yoongi asks, voice as soft as the thumb that he brings up to smooth soothing circles into Jeongguk’s cheek. His other hand rests at the base of his spine, applying a light pressure that keeps Jeongguk close but leaves him room to pull away should he feel the need. 

 

Of all positions he could have chosen, this one undoubtedly falls on the more intimate side. But Jeongguk doesn’t find himself feeling unsettled or put off by such a thing, instead he finds the weight of Yoongi’s hands rather pleasant, keeping him grounded, focused on the task at hand. “Your thighs are more cushioned than they look, hyung. I’m fine.” 

 

Yoongi clicks his tongue, thumb stilling to tap at the end of Jeongguk’s nose. “Don’t play, Gguk. Are you comfortable or not?”

 

“Yes, hyung. I would’ve moved us by now if I wasn’t.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“Promise,” Jeongguk says, nudging into Yoongi’s hand where it rests against his skin to get him to continue with his movements. All he’s seemed to do in the short span of time since he’d entered Yoongi’s room is make promises, but he means every one of them. “What about you? How do you feel about this?” 

 

Yoongi chuckles, thumb brushing the apple of Jeongguk’s cheek. “And you say I’m like a cat,” he mumbles, shifting them slightly so the weight on his thighs is distributed a little more evenly. “I think this is nice. Reminds me of when we were little, apart from the fact that you’re significantly more muscular now.”

 

“If it gets too much, just push me off. Or you can sit on my lap instead,” Jeongguk suggests, knees knocking against Yoongi’s hips. “Your comfort is just as important as mine, hyungie.” 

 

Yoongi nods, straightening his back to accommodate for the height difference. “Let’s start with a simple peck?”

 

A simple peck, as it turns out, is easy enough. All Jeongguk has to do is lean forward and jut his lips into a slight pout before pulling away. His cheeks aren’t aflame and his heart doesn’t feel like it’ll tear through his ribcage at any moment now. He can handle this.

 

“Okay?” Yoongi asks when he pulls away, studying Jeongguk’s face for any signs of discomfort. “That was fine for me, before you ask.”

 

“Yeah, that was okay,” Jeongguk replies, breathing a sigh of relief. That felt like nothing at all. He’d psyched himself up for no reason. “Let’s try something longer?” 

 

Yoongi’s lips press against his again, only this time their warmth doesn’t disappear after a mere second. Yoongi gives him time to breathe, keeping still until Jeongguk bumps their noses together in an attempt to nod in encouragement. 

 

From then on, the slide of Yoongi’s lips against his own is slow, controlled in a way that Jeongguk knows comes from experience. There’s no tongues or teeth like Jeongguk had stupidly feared, just the gentle weight of Yoongi’s upper lip caught between his own. He thinks the hand resting at his back is drawing him closer, his own locked at Yoongi’s nape with the same amount of pressure, but he’s a little too hazy to distinguish whether or not he’s imagining such a thing.

 

His skin is on fire with every movement, but it doesn’t burn. It’s a prickling sensation that’s oddly pleasant, working its way beneath the surface to attach itself to the wings of the butterflies swarming Jeongguk’s stomach. It’s strange. He’s doesn’t feel nervous and he’s no longer anticipating anything, but they don’t settle, even so.

 

He shivers when Yoongi’s thumb slips over the ridge at the base of his spine, the same soothing circles he’d been painting on his cheek, only this time there’s goosebumps left in the wake of each slow drag. They should stop before Jeongguk truly bursts into flames, but he can’t summon the words to tell Yoongi so. He can’t muster the energy to push him away either, limbs a dead weight.

 

There’s something at the back of his mind telling him that there’s nothing physically preventing him from pulling away from Yoongi. His vocal cords work just fine and his muscles are as strong as ever. But there must be something, Jeongguk knows there’s something. 

 

“Want,” the cat chuckles all the way from the living room, voice crystal clear despite the walls in between them. It tuts. “ It manifests itself in the strangest of ways. Silly boy.”

 

But that can’t be right. It’s not like Jeongguk has been deprived of physical affection before now. He has no real need to want something he already has an abundance of. 

 

Yoongi sighing against his lips grounds him once again, mind returning to a state of white noise as he concentrates on the feeling. Yoongi’s lips have always looked soft, and that they are, caressing Jeongguk’s own as if they’re fragile. He’s certain he’s alight now, flames spreading from his fingertips to lick at Yoongi’s neck. 

 

Though it’s hardly unpleasant to Jeongguk, it must be making Yoongi uncomfortable, because he applies a fraction more pressure before leaning himself back so he can look Jeongguk in the eye. “Hey, woah, breathe,” he says, the comfort of his hands falling away to cup Jeongguk’s cheeks. It’s then that he realises his heart is beating rapidly, chest rising and falling in sync with its movements. “Was that too much for you? I’m sorry, Bun.” 

 

Jeongguk shakes his head. The lines between too much and not enough seem a little too blurry for Jeongguk to determine a definitive answer. But he knows that they’re not on the same wavelength, right now.

 

“That was fine, hyung. I don’t know what I was expecting it to be like but I didn’t feel awkward or embarrassed at all,” Jeongguk says. He runs a hand through his hair, moving his fringe away from his now sticky forehead - the only visible sign that he’d truly been on fire. “Was I okay?”

 

Yoongi laughs breathily, leaning into Jeongguk’s space once more to bring their foreheads together. “You’re sweating. You’re not just saying that to appease me, right? If you’re not comfortable, we won’t do it, Gguk, it really doesn’t matter. And I don’t know, were you okay? I thought you were going to pass out on me for a second there.” 

 

“I really mean it, hyung. I’m not uncomfortable. Overwhelmed maybe, but definitely not uncomfortable. And that’s not… I meant - was the kiss good on your end? It felt nice for me, so,” Jeongguk replies with a shrug, as if sitting on his best friend’s lap with their mouths locked is a regular activity that he gets to be nonchalant about. He wants to seem as collected as Yoongi in this situation, despite having the urge to scream to the high heavens because what the fuck did he just feel.

 

“You’re not an inexperienced sixteen year old kissing their first boyfriend, Gguk. You’re just fine,” Yoongi says, close enough for his breath to still hit Jeongguk’s lips. He should’ve pushed him away by now, climbed off his lap and fled to Taehyung’s room.

 

But something about that sentence, not much of a complement in the grand scheme of things, gives him the urge to kiss his hyung again - to try to do better, make it more than just an average fine. He wants Yoongi to feel what he did, even though he’s not sure what it was himself. “Can you kiss me again?” 

 

“Am I that good at it?” Yoongi asks smugly, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. He snickers softly and the butterflies that had just started to settle begin to retrace their path in Jeongguk’s stomach. “You don’t have to ask, Gguk.”

 

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, hyung. I just need the practice,” Jeongguk replies, flicking the nape of Yoongi’s neck. “But I can’t lie and say that you’re terrible.” 

 

“Yeah?” Yeah. He’s not about to admit that he’s never had a kiss quite like that before, that Yoongi made him feel something he can’t identify but wants to experience again out loud, but he won’t hold back the whole truth. Yoongi isn’t terrible and that’s good enough for now.

 

“Yeah.” It feels like he’s floating this time, Yoongi’s lips somehow even softer, holding a warmth that rivals the fire that still simmers beneath Jeongguk’s skin. Yoongi’s own skin is cool to the touch as Jeongguk’s hands trail down his arms, gripping at his elbows to stop him from pulling away. 

 

It’s a relief against the heat, until Yoongi shifts, leaning against the headboard to ease the strain on his neck, pulling Jeongguk impossibly closer - by accident or not, he can’t be sure. This way, it feels more like Jeongguk is leading, the perfect opportunity to set Yoongi on fire, too. He brings a hand up to cup his jaw, holding him stable as he keeps the pace slow but applies more pressure, on the border of opening his mouth but not yet daring to cross it.

 

He’s not going to contradict himself just because his mind is running away with itself, trying to convince him to break his own rules because this is Yoongi-hyung and it’s not the same with anyone else. No matter how hazy his conscious thought is right now, he knows he’s not ready for anything other than this yet. That, and it works both ways - Yoongi had also agreed that they wouldn’t reach the point of making out and Jeongguk doesn’t want to make him uncomfortable.

 

And besides, this is fine. Getting used to doing it regularly isn’t going to take him long, though he’ll probably feel differently when it’s more than just the framed photos on Yoongi’s wall watching them. But for now, he’s okay. They’re okay. This is okay.

 

Until a loud shout of Jeongguk’s name startles them both, noses knocking together hard as they jerk away. “Okay, ow,” Jeongguk says, relaxing his grip on Yoongi’s jaw. It hurts, but he can't help but laugh. “You alright? Nothing’s broken?”

 

“I thought you said that wouldn’t happen?” Yoongi whisper shouts, giggling against Jeongguk’s shoulder where he buries his face. If Taehyung walks in now, it’ll just look like they’re cuddling, something that’s hardly out of the ordinary for the pair of them.

 

“Load us up, I’ll be there in just a second, hyung!” He calls to Taehyung, whose shadow is still lingering beneath the door. “And I want the purple controller this time!”

 

He waits for the responding “okay, but if you’re longer than a second, I’ll kick ass without you!” before turning back to Yoongi, cheek resting against his hair as he laughs breathily. “In my defense, he wasn’t calling us for dinner.”

 

“I told you this was a bad idea,” Yoongi mumbles, voice muffled by the fabric of Jeongguk’s shirt, but his shoulders are shaking as if he’s still giggling and Jeongguk is inclined to believe that he doesn’t really think so.

 

“Do you regret what we did, hyung? Are you going to kick me out in the rain now?” He teases. Even if Yoongi does regret agreeing to kiss him, Jeongguk knows he won’t kick him out. But he’s not worried, Yoongi has always been good at communication and if there’s something weighing on his mind, he’ll make it known. 

 

“Oh, absolutely,” Yoongi replies, but makes no effort to shove Jeongguk from his lap, arms still wound around his back. “Think you should get out, right now, because honestly, Jeongguk?” he pauses for effect and Jeongguk blinks at hearing the use of his full name. It’s been a long time since Yoongi had last called him that. “There’s a cup of ramen sitting in the cupboard that has my name written on it and I believe you said you would cook it for me.”

 

Jeongguk scoffs. “Fine, Min,” he says, trying his luck in return for the brief moment of panic Yoongi had just caused him. The full name card is really something. “But you need to let go of me first.”

 

“You’re the one sitting on my lap,” Yoongi says, lifting his head to meet Jeongguk’s eye with the gummy grin that’s usually hopelessly endearing, but now holds something devious behind it.

 

Two can play at this game and Jeongguk has the capacity to tease his hyung all day, if need be. “Yes, and that’s because you’re holding me here,” he replies, smug smile taking over his face as Yoongi’s cheeks flush. He knows he could easily move out of his hold if he wanted to.

 

“I am not.”

 

“Yeah? Then why are your arms still around me, hyung?” Jeongguk asks, trying to raise a questioning eyebrow, but he’s only able to hold it for a few seconds before he can no longer contain a giggle and his entire face scrunches up.

 

“They’re stuck,” Yoongi pouts, linking his fingers and pushing against Jeongguk’s back to emphasise his point. “It’s really not my fault. They’re glued to your back with all that sweating that you did.”

 

“Just admit that you want to kiss me again, hyung. I know I’m amazing,” Jeongguk grins, leaning forward just that little bit further to brush their noses together. Softly this time, to avoid unwanted injury. 

 

“As much as I’m not opposed to kissing you, I’m starving here, Gguk. The ramen is calling for me,” Yoongi replies, but he tilts his face up ever so slightly.

 

“Okay, I’m going,” Jeongguk says, closing his eyes. Going doesn’t have to mean right this very second. It’s a broad term.

 

“Thank you,” Yoongi breathes against his lips. “We’re getting carried away, aren’t we? I’m sorry. It’s been awhile since I’ve kissed anybody. We should stop before our hormones get the better of us.” 

 

“Yeah, we should,” Jeongguk replies. But neither of them move.

 

🎙🎙🎙

 

It takes another ten minutes before Jeongguk is throwing himself into one of several beanbag chairs strewn haphazardly across Taehyung’s floor, there for the exact purpose of sitting in to play games. 

 

He gets a raised eyebrow as he’s handed the controller with the purple cover, just as he’d requested, but Taehyung doesn’t say anything. Until he steps in front of Jeongguk to insert the disc into the console, turning to look at him over his shoulder with his mouth hanging open as if to ask a question before immediately closing it, eyes wide as he takes in his appearance. 

 

“Did you and hyung fight?” he asks, abandoning the disc to squat in front of Jeongguk, taking his face in his hands and turning it side to side, using the light from the window to assess his condition.

 

Jeongguk frowns, bringing a hand up to pat at his cheek. He doesn’t think he’d looked particularly bloated this morning, but maybe his lunch had taken a toll on his skin. Or maybe it’s his eyes - they’re often bloodshot from long nights and the strain of staring at lines of text for hours upon hours. “No, why?” 

 

“Your eyes are all glassy and you’re flushed, like you’ve been crying. If it wasn’t an argument then what’s bothering you? Class isn’t becoming too much for you, is it?” Taehyung asks softly, swiping a thumb beneath Jeongguk’s eye as if to collect tears that aren’t there. “You know you’re the best, right? You’ll graduate with honors, I just know it.”

 

Jeongguk wants to bolt back out of the room and fall into a very large hole that will materialise just for him. He can feel a deeper flush creeping up his neck, but this time it’s caused by shame rather than embarrassment or a simple rise in body temperature. (Which is precisely where his supposed crying flush had come from, no thanks to Yoongi.)

 

“Ah -,” Jeongguk says, clearing his throat and doing his best not to look Taehyung dead in the eye. “I haven’t been crying, hyungie, but I appreciate your kind words. I’m fine, promise.” 

 

Again, he’s being avoidant, leaving out parts of the truth without actually lying. He knows it’s better to come clean to Taehyung, to keep him in the loop so he doesn’t end up hopelessly confused by their dynamic. But something in his gut is telling him to keep the truth between he and Yoongi, where he knows nobody is holding any judgement towards them except for themselves. 

 

Taehyung’s eyes narrow and Jeongguk knows he’s not buying it. They’ve known each other much too long for Taehyung not to be able to see straight through him, and Jeongguk has never been a great liar to begin with. “Nobody that’s fine looks like you do right now, Gguk.” 

 

Jeongguk sighs, holding the small circular button in the middle of the controller until it beeps, trying to distract Taehyung by drawing his attention to the screen. “There’s really nothing wrong. I’m just tired and kinda hungry. Let’s play and then eat, yeah?” 

 

Taehyung raises an eyebrow, eyes searching his face for the emotions Jeongguk is unable to conceal. “If I win, you tell me what’s going on with you. If you win, I’ll let it slide and use the fifteen thousand I was saving for a new set of acrylics to buy us dinner.”

 

Jeongguk nods. “You have a deal,” he says, even though there’s no way he’s going to let Taehyung sacrifice that much just for one meal. He’ll slip his own ten thousand into the mix when he’s not looking. But he agrees, mostly because he already knows he’s not going to lose.

 

He must’ve spoken too soon, because only a short while later is Taehyung bouncing on his mattress, arms in the air as he secures a victory. His mouth has formed the sweet, boxy shape that it often does when he’s truly happy and Jeongguk takes a moment to appreciate such an expression before it inevitably all goes downhill. 

 

And by inevitably, he means the second Taehyung catches his eye as he stills, setting the controller on the table by his bedside and levelling Jeongguk with a look that says “I’m waiting.” But Jeongguk isn’t sure what he’s supposed to say, caught between a rock and a hard place as to whether or not he should make something up on the spot and hope for the best, or be honest and wait for the subsequent list of reasons why Taehyung thinks he’s an idiot. 

 

“I -” he starts clumsily, once again avoiding eye contact. “I know what you’re going to say, but -” Jeongguk closes his eyes, conscience getting the better of him. “Yoongi-hyung and I kissed a couple times, that’s why I look the way I do.”

 

Taehyung scoffs, an angry puff of air leaving his lips. “A couple times? What exactly is that supposed to mean, Gguk? Twice? Thrice? Every day?” 

 

There’s a thunking sound, followed by the squeak of springs and Jeongguk can only assume that Taehyung has thrown himself flat on the bed in frustration. Not that he understands what exactly he has to be frustrated about. Close friend or not, Jeongguk isn’t obligated to tell Taehyung about these things, especially when he knows that he’d rather not hear it.

 

“It means that we pressed our lips against each other’s multiple times,” He answers in what should be a cheeky manner, but it comes out flat and serious.

 

“Has this been going on long?” Taehyung asks, voice laced with a bitterness that Jeongguk definitely doesn’t like. “Anything else you’ve been keeping from me? Are you fucking now or something? Was this whole fake dating thing just an elaborate excuse to sneak off to the bathroom and suck each other off during class?” 

 

“What? No!” Jeongguk replies, a deep frown tugging at his brow as he opens his eyes to launch daggers at Taehyung’s feet, the only visible part of him from Jeongguk’s position on the floor. He doesn’t know how or why Taehyung jumped to that conclusion and it sparks a wave of anger inside him. 

 

His hyung is worth far more to him than a casual hookup inside a dingy university toilet stall and Taehyung knows that. “Is this some kind of displacement? Is that what you and Hobi-hyung have been doing?” He says rather pettily, even though he’s aware that they’ve made very little progress in terms of a relationship. The ‘just friends’ label is going to be the death of the both of them, he’s sure of it.

 

But he’s opening his mouth again before he can think about it. “Are you mad that we can do things like kiss and let it have no impact on our relationship because it’s what you want but can’t have? Maybe if you had the balls to actually ask hyung where you stand with each other, you wouldn’t have to be.” 

 

“I’m just trying to understand why you thought kissing him would be a good idea!” Taehyung replies. “You think it won’t have an impact on your relationship? You really think that once this whole thing is over you’ll be able to carry on as normal? You’re so naive, Gguk, it pains me.” 

 

“If you gave me a chance to speak, and actually heard me out before jumping to ridiculous conclusions that make no sense, you would know why!” Jeongguk responds, plucking at a loose thread at the edge of the bean bag. 

 

He thinks Taehyung is being a little unreasonable right now. Maybe Jeongguk had been in over his head when he’d suggested that he and Yoongi enter the competition, but since then, Yoongi has been helping him think things through logically and he’s secure in what they’re doing. If he thought kissing his hyung was going to have a negative impact on their relationship, he most definitely wouldn’t have done it. 

 

Microphones are replaceable, easily restockable. Yoongi is a priceless gem that Jeongguk would rather die than let someone or thing take from him. 

 

“Then go ahead and explain yourself,” Taehyung says, calmly but still holding a bitterness. “Tell me what goes on in that genius little head of yours that justifies your actions.” 

 

“What exactly do I need to justify? I’m an adult, hyung. As much as you may not like to think so, I’m not a child. Why do you even care so much about this?” 

 

Taehyung laughs, but it’s far from humourous. “I don’t know, Gguk. Have you considered the fact that I don’t want to watch two of my best friends get hurt because of a mess they walked themselves right into?”

 

“So, what I’m hearing is that you’re mad over nothing. Funnily enough, hyung, we’re both aware of what upholding a relationship involves - real or not, and none of it is going to hurt us because there’s nothing romantic between us. You can’t be hurt by an absence of feelings when it’s mutual,” Jeongguk says. 

 

He’d have thought that would’ve been obvious to Taehyung. The worst that could happen between he and Yoongi is that they accidentally overstep a boundary. But Jeongguk knows if that were to happen, they’d talk about it and make sure it’s a one time occurrence. 

 

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Taehyung replies. 

 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Jeongguk asks, closing his eyes and attempting to relax his face before his muscles cramp from the tension. 

 

“Guess we’ll have to wait and see if you keep up the denial like this, won’t we?” Taehyung says, once again speaking in riddles that Jeongguk doesn’t quite understand.

 

“Denial?” Jeongguk scoffs, shifting until he’s on his knees, so he can look at Taehyung properly. He too, has shut his eyes, but there’s a frown wrinkling his skin. “Don’t try to tell me what I do or don’t feel, Kim Taehyung. That’s a real asshole move.”

 

Taehyung sighs, long and drawn out. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I just get scared, you know? I don’t want you two to end up like Hobi-hyung and I. When you first mentioned that you were going to be pretending to date him, I didn’t think it would come with the physical aspects. What you have is what some of us can only wish for, even if you aren’t together. I’d hate to see that ruined because one of you did the cliché thing of falling for someone that doesn’t return your feelings, but I guess I’m just self-projecting.”

 

Jeongguk sighs too, shuffling out of the clutches of the bean bag to lay beside Taehyung, throwing an arm around his waist and tugging him closer. “I’m sorry, too,” he mumbles into his neck, nudging it with his nose. “I know you probably don’t want to hear it, but Hobi-hyung is an idiot. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.”

 

“Alright, Wheatus,” Taehyung giggles, but it’s laced with a sadness that Jeongguk wishes he could squeeze out of him. “I think he’s scared, too, and I can’t say that I don’t understand. Dating a friend is difficult because there’s always that lingering worry of losing what you had before after a break up. But sometimes I just wish he’d give it a try, instead of making me feel like I’m not worth it to begin with.”

 

“You really should try talking to him, hyungie,” Jeongguk says, resting his chin atop Taehyung’s collarbone. “I don’t mean to confess your ardent love for him, but at least try to get a better sense of where his head is at. If he knows he can communicate with you, maybe he’ll come around later on.”

 

“That’s why you and Yoongi-hyung have managed to stay friends without tearing each other’s hair out for so long, right? Because you know how to communicate.” 

 

Jeongguk nods as best as one can with a bone obstructing their movement. “I do think that’s part of it. Everything feels easier when you can just talk about it.”

 

“Was it easy to kiss him?” Taehyung asks, only this time there’s no bite behind it. He’s merely curious.

 

“You wouldn’t think so, would you? You’d think that it would feel at least a little awkward and definitely strange, but it felt as simple as working on a song does.” Obviously, there had been the unexplainable fire spreading throughout his limbs, but he doesn’t feel the need to share that. “It didn’t feel bad afterwards, either. There was no instant panic or regret, just a calm sense of… well, nothing.”

 

Yoongi had checked for the hundredth time that he was definitely okay with the way in which they’d kissed, and that he’ll be alright with doing it again in the future when they’d finally pulled away. Jeongguk had expressed that it might take him some time to warm up to kissing his hyung in front of others, but he’s not against it by any means. And then they’d parted with the repeated promise of a cup of ramen, as if they hadn’t been lip-locked just moments ago.

 

Maybe it was easier than it should’ve been, but Jeongguk doesn’t think it’s worth dwelling on. They’re happy with their arrangement and that’s all that matters.

 

“You know, they sometimes say that when you meet your soulmate there’s no spark. That they feel as comfortable in your life as your everyday routine,” Taehyung muses, poking at the end of Jeongguk’s nose. “I’d like to think that that’s true, Gguk. It would be nice wouldn’t it? For someone to adore you so easily like that.” 

 

“Mm, it would,” he agrees, a small frown tugging the corners of his mouth down. That’s how Yoongi fits into his life, but they aren’t soulmates, despite what he thinks Taehyung is alluding to. 

 

They love each other, sure. But if they were bound by fate, surely there’d have been a clear sign by now. Surely they’d have developed an obvious romantic attraction to each other. 

 

“Do you think platonic soulmates exist, too?” He asks, tilting his head so that his cheek rests against his arm. “You don’t always have to fit together romantically, right?”

 

“I know they do,” Taehyung says assuredly. “What’s Jimin, if not the other half of my very being? The missing piece to my puzzle, the dough that allows me to make the bread.”

 

Jeongguk laughs at the peculiar analogy, but he supposes it does make sense. Though different, Jimin and Taehyung are one in the same when it comes to knowing each other. In fact, Jimin can probably sense that he’s talking about him right now. “Then, do you think that’s what Yoongi and I are? Soulmates but in the platonic sense?”

 

“Honestly, Gguk? No,” Taehyung replies, holding up a finger to shush him as he opens his mouth. “I think you have a deeper bond than that. I know you say there’s nothing romantic there, but there’s definitely something that I can’t explain. Why’d you think everyone - except for Jin-hyung, was so quick to believe that you were together?”

 

That’s the question that Jeongguk still doesn’t have an answer to. He doesn’t know why his hyungs feel that way about them. Maybe they project a different image onto their friends, but all Jeongguk sees between them is regular companionship caused by a long history. 

 

“It’s almost as if instead of being soul mates, you’re two pieces of the same soul. Like a horcrux,” Taehyung continues, when Jeongguk doesn’t answer. 

 

Two pieces of the same soul. Something about the thought of that makes Jeongguk feel warm. Not the harsh flames that had overtaken him during the kiss, but a gentle simmering that has him a little drowsy.

 

He finds that he likes the thought of Yoongi being a part of himself more than he can comprehend. Is that what Yoongi truly is to him? A separate part of his own soul? 

 

He scoffs at himself when he consciously catches his thoughts running away to ridiculous places. Yoongi is just a very dear friend.