It was Hoseok’s idea. Hoseok’s ideas tend to be mild. Safe. Compared to Seokjin’s at least, who usually just picks the most unusual restaurants he can find because his stomach is a dumpster and he likes to watch others suffer through eating live food. Jungkook’s not allowed to plan night outs anymore, not since the go-kart incident of ‘16, which left Namjoon with a broken collar bone and all four of them banned from a small amusement park for life.
It was Hoseok’s idea to try hot yoga. Rather, it was Hoseok’s pick this month for their group date and he chose hot yoga. “It’s one of the best workouts you can do,” Hoseok tells them, like he has to convince them even though he doesn’t because the contract states that, as long as there isn’t (planned) bodily harm set to happen, everyone’s obligated to attend the Choosee’s activity. “It’s supposed to be great for you skin, helps detoxify the body, improve your mood. It’ll be fun and beneficial to the body.”
Namjoon likes to think of himself as a spry young lad. He doesn’t eat out all that often. Loves his morning walks. Every few weeks he and Jungkook go hiking somewhere out of city limits to rid themselves of industrial grime. He drinks a bit too much coffee and doesn’t sleep as often as he should, but that’s the life he accepted when he started his own business.
“They have drunk yoga!” Seokjin screeches as they pass the bulletin board in the lobby, gesturing frantically to one of the flyers under the list of offered classes. “Why the hell are we going into Satan’s asscrack when we could be drinking fine wine and talking shit about each other’s leggings!”
“Because,” Hoseok calmly interjects as they shuffle towards the stairs that lead to the upstairs studio, “this is my pick and I say that by the time you’re all thirty-four, you’ll be accomplished and published in your fields and have everything you’ve ever dreamed of achieving, but it won’t matter because you’ll have heart disease or liver failure or manic depression and you’ll keel over at your desk one night and no one will find you for five days because it’s not uncommon for you to avoid social contact for a week at a time.”
Seokjin whistles low and smooth. “Damn, Hobi. Way to wreck a man.”
“I feel like those were oddly specific ways for us to die,” Namjoon states.
“They were,” Hoseok answers without looking back at them, and Namjoon can feel the temperature shift with every step up. “So we’re going to go into this room, and we’re going to treat our bodies like temples, and we’re going to have fun doing it.”
The room itself looks like the dance studio at the Center, mirrors covering two walls and the back just one large floor-to-ceiling window. It’s a big but cozy space, half-way full right now with mostly single women and possibly a few couples here and there, going off of how close their mats are placed together.
When they step in fully, it’s like walking into a wall of heat. Namjoon physically feels his heart rate pick up as Jungkook leads them to the far front corner in front of one set of mirrors. Namjoon can already feel sweat trickling on his neck.
“I’m going to die,” Namjoon bemoans as they arrange themselves in a neat line. Namjoon settles in on his rented black mat and eyes the bright yellow one beside him, currently empty of its owner. “That’s what the waiver is for. So we can’t sue when they have to carry my dehydrated body out of here.”
“Shut up. Exercise won’t kill you,” Hoseok huffs, already settling into his everyday stretching routine.
Seokjin, despite the highest amount of complaints, also begins stretching by promptly folding himself in half to touch his toes.
Jungkook’s just lying spread eagle on his back.
“It’s a thing. I saw it in the movies,” Jungkook says, when he catches Namjoon staring at him. “You just, like, lay here and breathe.”
Namjoon finds a happy medium of sitting on his butt and wiggling his legs out in front of him. “God, it’s so hot. I wanna take a nap in here.”
Someone hushes them and they all turn abashed back to their various warm-ups. Namjoon’s unsuccessfully trying to touch his toes when he hears a quiet, “holy shit,” come from Hoseok, just under his breath, more to himself than any of them.
Namjoon frowns, turns to find Seokjin frozen mid-stretch and Jungkook staring towards the other side of the room with the same thousand-yard stare he gets when he slips into whatever pocket dimension opens up in his head at moments like this.
Namjoon swivels to look over his shoulder. Chokes on his spit. Promptly feels his arm give out underneath him and collides hard with his mat.
“Hello, everyone,” the man greets as he adjusts the volume of the stereo so his soft voice can be heard over the music. “For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of practicing with before, my name is Jimin Park. Welcome to tonight’s flow class.”
This is the first time they’re meeting, but Jimin Park is a god amongst mortals. Namjoon’s never felt so inadequate in his life as he does right now, watching this young man walk towards the back corner of the room, tanned and shirtless and in tiny spandex shorts.
Namjoon glances down to consider his own sprawled form in a loose tank top and basketball shorts. Jimin has muscles Namjoon didn’t even knew existed and he went to fucking med school for two years.
“I’m so gay,” he hears Seokjin whisper, and Jungkook muffles his laughter into his mat as Hoseok shoves Seokjin so he lands face first against the floor.
“We’ll start in child’s pose tonight, with your hands facing towards the back of the room instead of the mirrors.”
Namjoon realizes halfway through that most of the room is already slipping into the pose while he’s been flopped on his side, slightly incapacitated by the sight of Park Jimin’s honey thighs. He scrambles over onto his stomach as Jimin starts to pace in the openings between the mats, then side-eyes Hoseok and the old woman directly behind him through the mirror to see that they’re resting on their knees, arms at their sides, heads pressed into their mats.
Namjoon feels stiff and a little dumb curled up on the floor like this, and his fingers twitch as Jimin’s voice carries across the room. “If at any point throughout the class you become overwhelmed, please listen to your body and return to this resting pose.” His voice draws closer and Namjoon continues to fidget. “I’m hands-on during class with light touch and massage, so please raise your hand if you would rather me not interrupt your practice, and I will kindly honor your space.”
Namjoon doesn’t hear any movement, which means nobody probably raised their hands. Namjoon thinks he should have raised his hand. He’s not sure how he’s going to hold himself together if Jimin tries to touch him.
“We’ll start by finding our breath,” Jimin says, much closer than before, and Namjoon tenses and tilts his head to peek to the once empty mat beside him that Jimin is now seated cross-legged on. Four feet away. Oh shit. “Begin with a slow inhale, feeling the air fill in the intercostal space of the ribs and into the heartspace. Hold it for a moment, spreading that breath through the other parts of the body, then exhale open mouth.” Everyone gusts out a breath at once and Namjoon follows along belatedly. “We’ll repeat this twice more.”
Jimin uses pronounced breathing, but Namjoon’s having trouble getting his lungs to function. Jimin smells like oranges. Not in the weirdly specific novella way, either. He legit smells like orange chocolate.
“Now we’ll move on to the ujjayi breath, or the ocean breath,” Jimin announces gently, voice high and smooth as it carries over the room, in harmony with the light pop music playing in the background. “With the lips tightly sealed, breath in deeply through the nose, then exhale through the nose, being mindful to not leave any pause in-between.” Namjoon closes his eyes and follows along with the breathing because it’s supposed to calm him down, right? Why isn’t it calming him down? “This will be the breath you carry throughout the rest of the class as we move between poses.”
He could have Hoseok switch with him. Hoseok would do it, if it was important enough to Namjoon. But Namjoon doesn’t want to draw any attention to himself, and he doesn’t want Jimin to think that he doesn’t want to be close to him, even though he doesn’t want to be, but that’s more because Namjoon is already overheated from the room, and being close to a gorgeous Korean boy who smells like candy is not helping his heart one bit.
“As we lay here tonight, I’d like for you all to start scanning the body,” Jimin continues, and Namjoon’s still trying to find his ocean breath, but he follows along to Jimin’s sweet voice. “Taking that awareness from the top of your head, down to the throat, into the shoulders, scanning the abdomen, down the arms, through the thighs, and all the way to the feet.”
Namjoon’s still twitchy, still can’t get his breathing right; but for some reason, the way Jimin speaks is soothing. Despite the disgusting heat and the ache in his knees and the sticky sweat gradually building between his forehead and the mat, Namjoon’s chest feels calmer right now than it has in weeks.
“I’d like for you to set an intention or a dedication for today’s practice,” Jimin says, and Namjoon closes his eyes and tries to settle in on his words. “By setting an intention, you are building a bridge between what you work through on your mat, and what you continue to focus your mind on when you step off your mat. It can be a word or a maybe a phrase that you return to when your mind starts to drift.”
Namjoon filters through a string of words, all of them blundering through his head so quickly he can’t quite linger one one. Peace. Strength. Awareness. Grace. Forgiveness. Not dying at thirty-four at his desk, only to be found five days later.
“There’s a mantra I like for my classes to open with. Please feel free to repeat after me, aloud or your in your head: I love myself.”
Namjoon’s head shoots up so fast his back finally pops, eyes flitting over to where Jimin is now watching him with parted lips, amusement making his eyes curl up prettily despite the surprise. He doesn’t look away from Namjoon as the class echoes his words, as he says, “I am worthy of love.”
I am worthy of love , Namjoon mouths, hears others around him repeat it aloud, and Jimin still doesn’t turn from him as he states,
“I am worthy of good things.”
I am worthy of good things.
“I can choose positive thoughts.”
I can choose positive thoughts.
“I am strong.”
I am strong.
“I am enough.”
“I am enough,” Namjoon whispers so softly that surely no one can hear him; except Jimin smiles so tenderly at him that Namjoon flushes, ducks his head to wipe his dripping forehead against the mat.
“Alright, class. Let’s begin with some warm-ups.”
The earlier thought that Namjoon is a healthy, capable, young man? Not applicable to hot yoga. Not applicable to any form of yoga, it seems, especially when the room is a smothering ninety-one degrees. Despite the other’s affectionately dubbing him their “lean bean” and “noodle man”, Namjoon is by no means capable of bending in any which way that Jimin guides them.
Namjoon peeks to the side during one of their resting downward dogs (which is a lie, downward dog should not be considered a resting pose, it fucking aches ), to find Hoseok holding a split downward dog, Seokjin with his head almost touching the floor, and Jungkook muscling his way through several sets of push-ups.
Namjoon blanches, arms quaking under him, and squeaks when a hand settles on the small of his back, guiding him down.
“Try to maintain a flat back,” Jimin tells him softly. “And let your head hang loose. You’ll get tension in your shoulders if you don’t.”
And then Jimin’s shuffling over to encourage an elderly Hispanic couple in the back who have been putting them all to shame the whole class, and Namjoon drops to his knees and does his ocean breath, big and gusty and obnoxious, and tries not pass out.
“Joon,” Hoseok whispers. “You dying, man?”
Namjoon flounders like a fish in response.
Namjoon isn’t sure how long they’ve been here, but it feels like several hours. He doesn’t know where they’re at in the class, if things are going to start winding down soon, if there’s still several more rounds to force himself through. He’s tired, but tired is something he can manage; is something he’s been managing most of his life. Feeling completely inadequate and partially incompetent as the whole room manages to move through each pose without stumbling? Not a big fan of those feelings.
Jimin is kind, though. Announces modifications for people to take, if they want to test their limits more or if they need to pull back a little. He’s encouraging and bright and hasn’t dropped his smile once since he stepped through the doors. He’s a professional.
Which is why Namjoon needs to stop going gooey-eyed every time Jimin adjusts his limbs or his head or softly cheers him on when he passes by.
Jimin is a professional. Namjoon will not be one of those losers who tries to hit on a nice person when they’re just doing their job.
Not that he’d be able to hit on Jimin, anyway. Namjoon doesn’t believe in societal standards about beauty anymore, but Jimin? Way out of his league. An angel blessing them all with his presence on this foolish mortal plane.
“Joon. Joon, you feeling okay?”
Namjoon hums. He’s tired. Somewhat sad. A little hazy at the corners of his mind. His ears are ringing. How long have his ears been ringing?
“I think I’m gonna pass out.”
Namjoon’s voice is warbled in his ears, and he has just enough time to step out of his warrior pose and glance over to find Hoseok watching him in horror before the darkness at the edges of his eyes takes over.
Namjoon is aware of three things when he comes to:
- He’s lying in a puddle of his own sweat.
- His head is resting on a strangely warm pillow.
- The scent of eucalyptus is startling poignant.
“I think he’s coming to.”
Namjoon groans in response and buries further into his nice, warm pillow. The washcloth over his eyes slips off, and for a moment Namjoon thinks he’s gone blind as he bats away the stinging left behind from whatever oil was infused with the towel.
Hoseok swims into view above him. “Hey, big guy. How ya feelin’?”
“Yoga is banned,” Namjoon growls, brain still thick with confusion. His pillow giggles.
His pillow giggles holy shit.
Namjoon tilts his head back, neck scraping against bare skin as he does so. Jimin grins down at him, hand slipping off his shoulders from where he was massaging out the kinks under Namjoon’s skin.
Namjoon blinks up at him.
Flails so hard he ends up kneeing himself in the face.
“Holy shit, Joon!”
Namjoon rolls off Jimin’s lap and promptly releases a high-keening noise similar to what a small forest creature might make in the wild when natural selection rightfully decides it’s time to take a life.
Hands on his face, guiding his head up, and Namjoon goes lax in Jimin’s hold as Jimin tilts his head side to side to check for damage.
“It’s just not your day now is it, sweetheart?” Jimin smiles at him, and Namjoon blanks so hard he forgets his own name.
“Don’t worry,” Seokjin pipes up. “He’s like this all the time. Really puts the ‘disaster’ in disaster gay.”
“Jin,” Namjoon hisses the same time Jungkook whacks his arm and says, “You can’t just out people like that, hyung.”
“No offense,” Seokjin says to the room at large, “but if sweet Jimin here is anything but queer, I will shave my head.”
Laughter bubbles around Namjoon’s head just as Jimin says between tiny squeaks, “You’re fine, seriously. I’m quite gay, actually. Thanks for noticing.”
“You have impeccable thighs,” Seokjin nods.
Very nice thighs, Namjoon thinks he says in his head, but he must announce it aloud because Hoseok and Seokjin are snickering behind their hands and Jimin, when Namjoon tilts his face up to look, has gone pink in the cheeks.
“Thanks. I work out.” Jimin grins, and Namjoon opens his mouth like he might say something but what is he possibly supposed to say to the most gorgeous man on earth?
“You, uhm. You can let go now,” Namjoon stutters out, and Jimin’s flush spreads to his neck as he quickly uncups his soft hands from Namjoon’s cheeks with a mumbled apology.
Namjoon rolls over onto his back, heaves in a breath, and takes Jungkook’s outstretched hand as he’s tugged up from the floor. This is usually where Namjoon would let awkwardness fester, ruining any chances of a healthy interaction, but Seokjin just claps his hands and Hoseok makes for the door. Movement is good. Great. Movement keeps things fresh. Their small group carries forward without further prompting, out into the hall and down the stairs.
“How are you feeling?” Jimin asks from his side, and Namjoon’s about to tell him he’s peachy, never felt more alive in his life, when his knees buckle under him and he makes a grab for the wall rail.
“Sorry!” Namjoon shrills as Jimin guides him back up into a standing position. “Sorry, a little. Little weak in the knees.”
“And why is that?” Jimin asks even quieter, a smile evident in his voice, and Namjoon looks over and blinks. Jimin is staring up at him from under his lashes.
“Uh. Because class was really hard?”
A falter at the corner of Jimin’s mouth. “Oh. Right. Of course. Well, you guys did come to one of the harder classes. Usually beginners go for a ying-yang, which is like half deep stretch and half a flow.”
Some of those words did not make sense in their sentence placement, but Namjoon just nods like he’s not a complete yoga imbecile even though it’s grossly obvious that he’s never spent more than ten minutes stretching in his life.
“So, Jimin,” Seokjin calls out as they slip into the lobby. “Do you happen to have any other hot co-workers? Asking for a friend. The friend is me, if I didn’t make that obvious enough.”
Coming from anyone but Seokjin and it might be taken as offensive, but Jimin just covers his mouth as he giggles, honest to god giggles, then uses the same hand to point over their shoulders towards one of studios just as it cracks open.
They swivel as a group, and the boy stepping through the door startles when he turns fully to find a room full of people staring him down.
“Holy shit,” Hoseok exhales in the same tone of heavenly revelation from before.
“So fucking gay,” Seokjin agrees.
“Where do you people come from,” Namjoon mutters, lip curling in confusion because how is this fair? Is yoga some kind of secret society for gorgeous, healthy, perfect pore skin people? If he stays in downward dog long enough will he suddenly turn into a runway model?
“Hey, Chim,” the new boy greets tentatively as he passes them by, all golden skin and long dark hair that’s tied into a loose pony at his neck. He’s got eyelashes on eyelashes on eyelashes, and as he saddles up behind Jimin to pull him into a back hug and rest his chin on Jimin’s shoulders, he looks curiously at them all and then winks cheekily in Jungkook’s direction.
Jungkook whimpers and Namjoon almost laughs aloud.
Scratch that, he does laugh. Bleats, really, and Jungkook’s fist knocks into his kidney, successfully cutting it short.
“Hey, Tae,” Jimin grins, tipping his head to knock their cheeks together. “How was class?”
“Got half of them into a firefly, so I say pretty good. You?”
The boy’s, Tae’s, voice seems to come from his feet, and this time when Jungkook mutters something under his breath that sounds like “lord, please take me now”, Namjoon just hides a smile behind his hand.
“Good. Joon here fainted.”
Namjoon bristles and drops his hand, feeling distinctly like he was just thrown under the bus. Jimin’s eyes are smiling when he looks over, though, and Tae is quick to turn soft and serious when he asks, “Oh no, how are you feeling?”
“Peachy,” Namjoon tells him the same time Hoseok says from behind, “He’s fantastic. Jimin caught him mid-fall.”
“He did what?” Namjoon blanches.
“Jimin caught you,” Seokjin answers, eyes narrow with glee. “A top ten moment of my life. Swooped in and scooped you up like a princess. It was stunning. Full ten.”
Namjoon swivels back to where Jimin is bashfully looking away from them. He wants to apologize. Again. First he made repeated uncomfortable eye-contact, then he interrupted the class, and then he possibly sexually harassed Jimin’s lap? There are so many things Namjoon wants to say, wants to apologize for, but all he does is stare at Jimin’s flexed arms and mutter, “holy Toulouse.”
“It was nothing,” Jimin tells him, flushes, waves his hands. “I mean, not that I’m bragging or anything. But I mean, you’re not that heavy. Not that you’re not, you know, muscular, but I mean I work out for a living… Yeah.”
Namjoon, like the neanderthal he is, only continues to stare.
“I have to go prep for a class,” Jimin claps, smile tight as he pushes Tae off of him. “Taehyung can answer any question you have. Thanks so much for attending today, and I’m sorry about any inconveniences. I hope you guys come back.”
Hoseok coughs. “Oh, I definitely think we’ll be—”
Namjoon smacks him hard across the back and Hoseok crumbles. “It was nice to meet you, Jimin. Sorry if I ruined class.”
“No, we were almost done anyway,” Jimin smiles, soft and small. His gaze flickers over the group of them before landing on Namjoon again. “I, uh. I teach all week. You can sign up on our app if you’d like to come again.”
“Oh, he’ll want to come—”
Another swift slap and this time Seokjin keels over. “Thanks, Jimin.”
Jimin nods, spares Namjoon one last look, and then pads off towards the stairs. The four of them watch him go.
“Suspicious,” Seokjin states.
Taehyung turns around and shrugs. “He’s just shy. He likes you.”
The “you” is directed at Namjoon, and Namjoon feels itchy under Taehyung’s intentional stare. Gone is the kind, open face. Instead it’s sharp and serious with blocky brows. The expression makes Taehyung even more intimidatingly gorgeous, like if he asked Namjoon to lay on the floor so he could step on him, well, Namjoon might just toss dignity to the side and say yes. He’s scary pretty, and what’s worse is that he’s looking at Namjoon like he knows it.
Namjoon reminds himself that he is a strong, independent, established twenty-six year old man and he shouldn’t be afraid of attractive people anymore.
“Hey, Taehyung,” Hoseok butts in. “Do you guys have security cameras in the classrooms?”
Taehyung breaks away from Namjoon with a beaming, boxy smile that seems to stun Hoseok into stillness and wow, what a feat. “Wanna relive the damsel in distress moment?”
“Oh, most definitely,” Seokjin nods.
“Right this way, boys.”
Namjoon follows after with a sigh. Seokjin wasn’t kidding, either, as they watch the tape for the third time. Jimin, just a couple yards away, leaps across two mats and scoops Namjoon into his arms before he hits the floor. Their size difference is comical through the pixelated screen, but Namjoon can smell the trace scent of oranges on his skin from where Jimin touched him, held him, and he excuses himself to go stick his face under the faucet of the locker room before he starts to hyperventilate.
Namjoon doesn’t go back to yoga that week, even though when he was reading the notice board at the studio, it said that it’s best to attend at least three days a week to keep your practice strong.
It’s not that he’s still embarrassed. Because he’s not. After being best friends with ones Hoseok Jung and Seokjin Kim for nearly a decade, shame is something he doesn’t experience as often as he did in his teenage years. And it’s not that he didn’t enjoy yoga. Sure, his muscles ached for days after and he had trouble with stairs; but it was a good pain. He’s been more relaxed the past week than he’s probably been in months, went a full forty-eight hours without a headache, and Namjoon isn’t certain if it’s because he had a proper workout for the first time since mandatory gym in high school or because of Jimin’s soothing mantra.
Either way, Namjoon isn’t avoiding yoga by any means. He’s just busy. He has meetings and conference calls and on-site visits and anytime he sits down to answer emails he has an employee in his office asking for an opinion and he loves helping others, of course he does, that’s the whole point of this operation—but he’s tired .
“You look like something that crawled out of a sewer grate.”
Namjoon lifts his head off the desk and a paper stays stuck to his cheek. “Hey, Hobi. Great to see you, too.”
“At least you’re alive.” Hoseok flitters over to his desk and drops a plastic cup with green liquid in front of him after tugging off the spreadsheet. “Drink this.”
“It smells like dirt.”
“Dirt is probably healthier than what you’ve put in your body the past four days.”
Namjoon grumbles, nothing that quite makes it out as words, but he hopes the emotion gets across as he curls up his chair with the smoothie and slurps on it with a scowl.
“Stop that. I was serious about finding you keeled over in here one day.”
Namjoon spins once in his chair. “I know.”
“I’m worried about you, Joon.”
Spins twice. “I’m fine.”
“Please don’t make me host an intervention.”
Spins a third time and hears the huff before Hoseok’s walking around to sit next to him, jutting out a leg so that Namjoon is forced to sit still. Namjoon takes a huge gulp and says, too petulantly, “What am I supposed to do, Hoseok? Take a vacation? Leave this place alone?”
Hoseok reaches to place a hand on Namjoon’s knee. Squeezes once. Namjoon has to look away from his downturned eyes. “I’m not asking you to skip out to Bali or something. Just take a break. We can go for a hike this weekend maybe. Clear your head a bit. I can sign us up for another yoga class?”
Namjoon’s heart flushes. “Please don’t turn this into a joke.”
“I’m serious. Okay, mostly serious,” Hoseok amends when Namjoon edges up a brow. “But you seemed better after the class. Chiller. I think yoga might be a really good thing for you.”
Namjoon kicks his heels against the floorboards and takes another sip.
“And you haven’t dated in a long time and Jimin seems sweet.”
“You’re such a meddler,” Namjoon bites, but Hoseok just snorts and squeezes his thigh and tells him that the copier is on the fritz again and Namjoon needs to fix it because he’s the only one who knows how to jiggle it just right.
It only takes eight minutes for Namjoon to hype himself up enough to actually walk into the studio again, which is an excellent personal best compared to the twenty-three he used the other day that inevitably ended with him canceling his sign-up through the mobile app and going home to watch Street Food on Netflix and cry over Toyo’s izakaya while Solon meowed anytime Namjoon let out a particularly wet sniffle.
It wasn’t a terrible night, sometimes you just need a good cry; but Namjoon’s tired of crying and his back is getting stiff again so here he is. Yoga.
“Hey, there!” Taehyung greets as soon as Namjoon walks through the door. “Thought I saw your name on the sign-up.”
“Yeah, I—” Namjoon clutches his newly purchased blue mat to his chest. It was ten dollars at target but now he’s invested. “I felt really good, after the last class. Refreshed?”
“Yeah, hot yoga will do that for you.” Taehyung’s smile spreads—bright and scheming. “Jimin’s awesome at what he does, too.”
“He was… calming.”
Taehyung laughs, but it isn’t mocking. He’s clicking on something on his monitor. “Yeah, he tends to favor relaxation methods during practice. I’m a little more upbeat, but I tend to take all the morning classes, so the extra boost is needed. You’re in the Studio B today. Down the hall and to the left.”
Namjoon nods at the weird mixture of casual formality that Taehyung has and sets off down the hall. There are cubbies outside the entrance and Namjoon leaves his belongings there before opening the studio door and quietly padding in.
The downstairs studio is smaller, maybe room for half the amount of students that were in the room upstairs. There are already a few people spread out on their mats, and Namjoon makes sure to pick the back corner this time, purposefully avoiding the yellow mat front and center before the mirrors.
For the next fifteen minutes people filter in, gradually filling the space, those before them shifting to make room to accommodate others’ wingspans. Namjoon doesn’t greet the middle-aged white woman who settles down on his free side, but he doesn’t feel guilty about it either like he normally would be. You’re not supposed to talk in the studio, afterall, but there’s also this air of solidarity; like everyone knows that they’re each here for themselves and not to bother one another.
Jimin walks in right on time, this time in crop leggings. Still shirtless. His eyes drift over the room as he walks to the stereo, and when he catches Namjoon watching from his corner, Jimin’s face lights up and Namjoon feels something small tug on the bottom of his stomach.
Class goes swimmingly. As in, Namjoon made sure to sign up for the deep stretch this time, and even though he got some back burn in certain positions, enough to loosen out of them for half a minute here and there, he never got dizzy in the heat. The worst that happened is he dozed off in one of the leg stretches and jolted awake when Jimin’s voice called for them to start shifting to another position, whacking the window with his hand hard enough to draw attention. But Jimin just laughed gently and that was that. No embarrassment to flood Namjoon’s chest. Just him and an achy wrist and heart.
Jimin goes through the cool down, the mantras. He makes a couple soft announcements for special classes next week.
Namjoon just lies there, feeling like his limbs are filled with liquid, unsure of how he’s supposed to leave the building. He feels more spent than the last class where they were practically doing burpees at one point.
Namjoon’s eyes flutter open. Jimin’s crouched beside him, worry creasing his brow. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Jimin greets, his smile lopsided and lovely. “You okay? You’ve been here for twenty minutes.”
Namjoon cranes his neck and sees the studio has emptied. The stereo is still playing the instrumental indie music from when Jimin left to let them finish out any final stretches they wished to do in their own time.
Or in Namjoon’s case, fall asleep again.
“Oh. Oh, I’m so sorry.” Namjoon huffs and folds himself up into a sitting position. Jimin rocks back on his heels to give him room. “You need to clean up. Sorry.”
“It’s alright. I just need to prep for the next class.”
Namjoon nods, makes a few embarrassing sounds as he pulls himself to his feet. Jimin walks him to the door and Namjoon glances sidelong at him, not able to fully commit to a look. He’s still shirtless. Glistening. Namjoon is drenched, but Jimin’s frame just kind of gleams with sweat. He’s pushed his fringe off his forehead, but there’s one piece that’s rebelled and is sticking to the center of his brow.
Namjoon blinks. Realizes he just mellowed out again. “Thank you for today,” Namjoon tells him, one foot in the studio, the other in the hall. “I’m glad I took the class.”
“Yeah, I’m glad you decided to come back,” Jimin chirps, grinning warmly.
They stare at each other for a moment more. Why? Why is Namjoon just staring?
“I’ll, uhm, sign up for another class this week. Three times, right? The recommended attendance?”
“Oh, yeah.” Jimin nods, his eyes pinching at the corners. “Yeah, that’s what we recommend. You did yang today, so I would suggest doing a yin-yang within the next couple days, and then you should feel better able to finish a flow class after that.”
More staring ensues, and Namjoon’s not sure how to end this semblance of a conversation so he just nods, turns heel, grabs his backpack, and stumbles with rubber legs down the hall.
“You just… walked away from a hot boy who’s obviously interested in you?” Seokjin says around the straw of his boba.
“He’s obviously not interested in me like that,” Namjoon denies, picking off the lettuce on his burger. And the tomatoes. And the onions. “He’s polite. He’s at work and doing his job.”
“Yeah,” Seokjin huffs, “and giving you goo-goo eyes every time he sees you in a tank top. When’s your next class?”
“How do you kn—” Seokjin blinks at him, unamused. “Thursday evening.”
“Cool. I’m coming with you. I need to woo his best friend who is objectively the most beautiful creature on this dying earth. He’s even prettier than me. Do you know how pretty that is.”
“Taehyung? Very. Doesn’t he scare you? He scares me.”
“Shitless,” Seokjin grins, all teeth. “I love it. Makes me feel alive.”
Namjoon grabs a spoon to scrape off the mustard. “Jin. You get queasy anytime someone tries to initiate a hug with you. How are you going to handle Taehyung?”
“Humor. Green smoothies. Charisma,” he ticks off on his fingers. “Do you think he likes dogs?”
“Who doesn’t like dogs?”
“No, cat people like cats and dogs,” Namjoon says, picking up the patty to peel off the pickles hidden underneath. “Dog people only like dogs.”
“Oh. Yeah, guess that’s true.”
“I don’t think you can bring a dog to the studio.”
“But I can bring pictures of dogs.”
“Alright, you do that. Hey, what are you doing?”
Seokjin’s grabbed his plate and is making his way to the counter with his customer service smile on full wattage. As head of their PR department, Namjoon’s seen it often enough to be slightly terrified. “You’re obviously too nice to tell them they messed up your order, so I’m doing it for you because I’m your best friend.”
“Hoseok is my best friend.”
The smile grows. “Do you want a new burger that does not taste like feet?”
Namjoon gives him finger guns. “Thank you, new best friend.”
“You’re not even taking the class with me?” Namjoon hisses as they tuck away their shoes.
“Why would I do that? I’m not here for you, I’m here for Taehyung, my future husband.”
“This is cold, Jin.”
“No, it’s hot. Hot yoga, Joonie. Get with the picture.” Joon pats his shoulders with both hands. Squeezes. Winks. “See you in an hour! Don’t pass out again!”
Namjoon doesn’t pass out again because he took Jimin’s advice and went with the half-and-half class. Jimin isn’t his instructor, Namjoon’s not even sure if Jimin is here today. Instead he has a middle-aged woman who likes to keep the room lit with only candles and is both kind and kicks his ass during the flow portion of the class. At the end of the hour, though, when she’s placing their cool, eucalyptus infused towels over their foreheads, she also gives them foot massages so Namjoon isn’t all that upset about the amount of body sweat he loses today and how he had to maintain extra control over his limbs as to avoid setting the curtains on fire.
Namjoon is just coming out of his shavasana when a soft voice says near his ear, “Hey.”
It takes a few beats for his eyes to adjust, and Namjoon squints in the low light at the form crouched near his mat. “Jimin?”
Jimin’s teeth are white enough to be seen in the darkness. “Hi, Joon.”
“Hey. Hi.” Namjoon’s still high off essential oils and endorphins as he crawls to a seated position. “Sorry, do you need to get ready for the next class?”
“Oh, no. I don’t work today.”
“Oh.” Namjoon rubs at his eyes. “What are you doing here then?”
“I was taking the class.”
Namjoon drops his hand. “What? This class?”
“Yeah, the one that just ended.”
Oh holy Nantucket. “I didn’t even see you.”
Jimin’s smile concaves and Namjoon immediately feels this desperate, animalistic need to give Jimin everything he wants in the world to get him to stop making that heartbroken expression. Who needs human evolution when Namjoon could just go fight a bear in the forest and bring it home to Jimin.
Okay, too much nature documentaries before bed. Enough of those this month.
Namjoon doesn’t know what he said wrong to fix it, so they exit the studio in silence. Grab their stuff in silence. Pad down the steps in silence.
Namjoon’s just about to apologize for the heck of it when he spots Jin laying face first against the floor of the waiting area.
Jin makes this screechy noise into the tile, but his body remains motionless. A couple young women passing by laugh behind their hands as they walk past him.
“He took Taehyung’s class for the first time, didn’t he?” Jimin asks from behind as they cross the lobby. There’s a smile hidden in his voice.
“Is this typical post-first class with Taehyung behavior?” Namjoon asks as he crouches at Seokin’s side, one hand on his shoulder and the other on his waist so he can roll his body over.
“Yup. Standard at this point.”
“I have seen the face of god,” Seokjin bemoans, now staring wide-eyed at the ceiling. “And it is Taehyung Kim in leggings.”
“Jin,” Namjoon says. “You’re an embarrassment. Please get up.”
Jin places a hand on Namjoon’s chest. Namjoon pushes it off, but Seokjin’s palm just gravitates back in place. “I can’t feel the lower half of my body. Or my upper half. But oh, my heart. My wounded heart. Doubt thou the stars are fire—”
“Jin, please don’t do this—”
“—Doubt that the sun doth move—”
“Jin. Jin, please.”
“—Doubt truth to be a liar—”
“We’re in public—”
“—But never doubt Taehyung Kim’s ass.”
Jimin’s in hysterics behind them and Namjoon just presses both his palms to his forehead where he can feel a headache blooming. “I can’t believe you. Where’s Taehyung? Do you want him to see you like this?”
“I want him to see me in all my forms.”
“How about I show him your Halloween of 2014 form,” Namjoon bites. “How about that?”
Jin’s on his feet so fast he almost collides with the floor again. Jimin’s there to prop him up, though, still giggly and bubbling even as Jin drapes himself over Jimin’s small frame to pat him on the back. “You’re so solid, Jimin. Solid arms, solid heart. We should be friends.”
Jimin’s grinning crazily. “You’re attempting to seduce my best friend so yes, I think we should be friends.”
“I like you.” Jin gives his arm and chest and cheek a gentle pat. Squeezes Jimin’s face so that his lips squish together into a little duck bill. Jimin just smiles up at him, squintily, adorably. How can one human being be so cute and hot at the same time this isn’t fair. This isn’t logistically possible. “Joon, I like Jimin.”
Namjoon’s chest feels funny. He beats it once. “That’s great to hear, Jin.”
“By the way, I’m going to get tacos with Taehyung so you’re on your own bye~”
And then he’s off. Jin disappears through the glass doors like he didn’t just go full Shakespearean monologue and then drop that he managed to score a date with a Raphaelite sculpture come to life.
“I would apologize for him,” Namjoon says, twisting back to look at Jimin. “But Jin’s honestly one of the best people in my life so I don’t have anything to apologize for.”
Jimin laughs once and pushes the hair from his eyes. He does it slowly, sensually, and Namjoon wonders if it’s on purpose. Seokjin said that Jimin probably likes him, but Namjoon just thinks that Jimin is an attractive person who forgets he’s attractive and just accidentally beguiles lost, lonely souls. “I like that. I’m the same way with Tae. I think they’ll get along great.”
Namjoon blinks. “You think they’ll actually get together?”
“Oh, definitely.” Jimin laughs again, his eyes curling up with the sound, and Namjoon beats his chest again. “Tae texted me before class began and said ‘the beautiful man with pillow lips showed me a picture of a corgi with flowers on its butt and then offered to buy me vegan cupcakes what do I do’ with seven question marks and a few sparkle emojis and the squirt emoji.”
“Wow, vegan cupcakes. True love right there.” Jimin’s face lights up. He’s glowing. Human beings can’t glow. “And please never say squirt again. It’s one of my least favorite English words.”
“Oh, mine’s pustule.” Namjoon shudders and Jimin almost breaks his back with his laugh, the way he flings himself into it. “You’re Korean, right?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sorry, I guess we never formally met.” Namjoon wipes his palm on his thigh and thrusts out his hand. Jimin takes it and Namjoon tries not to swoon then and there. Is this a size kink thing? Hoseok says he has a size kink but Namjoon still doesn’t quite get what that means because Hoseok just starts laughing anytime Namjoon tries to bring it up again and Namjoon’s too afraid to google it now. “I’m Namjoon Kim, but everyone calls me Joon.”
“Jimin Park. Nice to meet you again, Joon.”
A door slams down the hall, and not a second later Taehyung is jogging into the lobby in a pair of wide-legged pants and a loose floral button-up. “Chim! Wish me luck! I’m about to go on a date with the most attractive human being I’ve ever seen who’s three-dimensional!”
“He’s waiting outside,” Jimin grins. “Said something about tacos.”
“Frick yeah, this is gonna be great. Joon. Hi.” Namjoon flinches at the intensity of Taehyung’s stare, but it’s not as bad now that he’s gotten rid of the headband and his eyebrows are hidden. “Will Jin care that I’m lactose intolerant?”
“He’s gluten-free, so between the two of you I think you have it easier.”
“Great. I can work with that. See ya, babe.” Taehyung gives Jimin’s temple a wet smack and then flurries out the door.
It takes a few beats for them to gather themselves, and then Jimin whistles, long and low. “They’re gonna be a beautiful wreck to handle.”
Namjoon hums in agreement. “Are you dairy and/or gluten-free?”
“Heck no. Give me all the carbs and cheese.”
Jimin makes little grabby motions with his hands and Namjoon notices, not for the first time, how small and pudgy they are. Big enough that they’d fit right against Namjoon’s palms. Namjoon notices, not for the first time, that Jimin has one dimple in his left cheek when he smiles wide enough. Which he’s always smiling wide enough. He’s just this gorgeous, happy person who looks at people like he’s looking at the sun and smells like orange blossoms and starshine and wowza, Namjoon is absolutely charmed. When did he become so enamored by this near stranger?
“Would you like to get dinner with me? Like right now?”
Namjoon practically yelled it. He thinks he even startled the fish in the small aquarium behind the counter. Jimin’s definitely taken off guard and Namjoon’s stomach churns because holy Sicily he just asked Jimin out who, in Namjoon’s opinion and Taehyung’s words, is the most attractive human being he’s ever seen who’s three-dimensional.
“Oh. Oh, uh, yeah.” Jimin clears his throat. “Yeah. That’d be great.”
Oh. Oh? What?
“Cool.” Namjoon swallows, looks away, then quickly looks back. “I just really wanted to talk to you about yoga.”
“Oh, yoga?” Jimin’s staring at him dreamily and says in a low, lazy voice, “We can talk yoga.”
Forty minutes later they’re at a fusion sushi shop three streets down, tucked into a corner of the room, and Namjoon opens his mouth and says, “Does doing yoga help relieve headaches?”
Jimin blinks at him from over the rim of his glass. Lowers his hands. Says, “Wow, you really just wanted to talk about yoga.”
Namjoon frowns. “What? I said that earlier, didn’t I?”
“Yes, but I thought—” Jimin’s cheeks are pink enough to pick up even in the low light and he clears his throat. “It’s nothing. But as far as headaches go, I don’t think yoga physically helps with them, but it might be a mental block you’re lifting. People don’t just attend class for strength building, but also for stress-relieving.”
Namjoon nods at that because it makes sense. It’s not like the heat is somehow curing his migraines. But twice now he’s been calmer after leaving the studio, even though the same amount of work is waiting for him when he went in, it doesn’t seem as daunting when he comes out.
Namjoon looks up and Jimin is watching him intently, an elbow on the table and his chin in a palm. “What? Oh, yeah. My motor skills are subpar for the most part, except sometimes I just lose track of my limbs…” Jimin is smiling at him now, that soft thing he does where it shows in his eyes first before it reaches his mouth. “What?”
“No, I mean…” Jimin gives a wave over Namjoon’s body. “Physically you’re okay. On the inside? You’re unbalanced.”
Jimin laughs and Namjoon slips at the sound. “Yoga is more than just strengthening the body. Half of the practice is actually all about mental stability. If your mind wavers, it shows in your practice.”
“So I’m falling over because my head is a mess?”
“And because you never place your back foot at hip width, but yeah. Once you build inner peace, learn to push through your boundaries, and stop letting concerns outside the studio filter in during the session, then you’ll be able to become stronger physically, as well.”
Namjoon’s fingers still where they were tapping along his thighs. “Huh.”
“A lot of people think it’s bullshit,” Jimin says, taking a long drag of his beer, “but I’ve got some killer anxiety and yoga has only made things easier. Quieter. Even when I’m outside and just having a rough time, practicing my breathing helps me calm down.”
Namjoon thinks of Jimin’s mantras. Always about self-love and peace. Always gentle enough that it feels like his spirit is being cradled.
Jimin tilts his head, smiles in a way that has Namjoon’s stomach filling with warmth. “That’s really cool, Jimin,” he says gently, feeling bewildered at the incessant need to reach out and touch Jimin’s cheek. Hold his hand. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
Jimin looks pleased. His eyes rove over Namjoon’s face. The corner of his mouth curls into his topsy turvy smile. “Oh, yeah. I’m not embarrassed by it or anything. Not anymore. Everyone has shit, afterall.”
Namjoon nods. Chugs his beer. Shoves an entire sushi roll into his mouth and promptly chokes on it.
Jimin laughs at that. Laughs at everything, really, the whole night, bright and delighted, and Namjoon thinks that he’d gladly spend the rest of his life listening to that sound.
“So I’ll see you in class soon?”
They’re standing on a corner of the street where they have to go different directions. Jimin’s going to take the bus a block away, but Namjoon’s going to walk the half hour back to his apartment.
“Yeah,” Namjoon says. “I’ll be there tomorrow.”
“Great,” Jimin grins, hands in the pockets of his very short shorts. Namjoon had the safety of the table for the past three hours, but now they’re out in the open. Golden thighs. Muscle. Huh. “I’ll look forward to it.”
Jimin’s looking at him. Jimin, sweet and darling and probably capable of body-slamming him to ground is just looking at Namjoon, has been looking at Namjoon, listening to him, all night. Even when Namjoon went on a tirade about the public education system, Jimin just hummed and nodded and asked probing questions about the things he didn’t understand and he’s just good. What a good person.
“Earlier you said… Did you think we weren’t going to talk yoga?” Namjoon asks, thumbing the hem of his shirt. “As in, I was using yoga as a euphemism for something else?” He bites his bottom lip. “As in, if I asked you out for coffee right now and said it was a date, would you say yes?”
Jimin’s sigh gusts out of him, like he’s been holding his breath the whole night and was finally able to let it all go. “Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Jesus , that took a long time. Shit, Joon, has no one ever flirted with you before?”
Namjoon tosses his head back and does the bleaty laugh that Hoseok says makes him sound like a goat, but Jimin’s squeaky laughter just follows right after. “Sorry. The guys say I’m emotionally thick when it comes to my own affairs.”
“Well, I can work with that,” Jimin says, lifting on his toes to trail his finger down Namjoon’s sternum. His eyes are heavy and shadowed. He’s got his bottom lip caught between his teeth and holy mother of Sacramento— “I would love to get coffee with you tomorrow, Joonie, but if you’re free right now, would you like to go to the river with me to talk some more?”
“I know a good bike rental place,” Namjoon forces out through his closed up throat.
“Even better,” Jimin grins, palm over his chest. He squeezes and Namjoon feels his left leg give out. “Lead the way, babe.”
“I don’t think you have to come on this stong an—”
“Let me have my fun, Joonie.”
“How’d your date with Jimin go?” Jin asks the next morning after their department meeting.
Namjoon spins in his chair. Can’t keep the giddy grin off his face. “We made out under the moonlight and talked about indie films and our place in the universe. What about you and Taehyung?”
“We got tacos and dairy-free ice cream, which wasn’t nearly as abhorrent as I was expecting, and then we went back to his place and watched three episodes of This is Us and I sucked his—”
“OKAY,” Namjoon shouts, promptly standing and ignoring Seokjin’s laughter that follows him out the door.
“CODE RED, DEFCON 1, SOS!”
Hoseok’s voice comes shrieking down the hall before Namjoon sees him, and Namjoon barely has time to stand from his desk when his office door is thrown open hard enough that it ricochets off the rubber stop and swings around into Hoseok’s face again.
Hoseok pushes it aside, much more gently this time, and looks straight at Namjoon. “We have a problem.”
Namjoon’s stomach twists. “What, what is it? Are the kids okay? Is the fake IRS guy back? Did a squirrel get into the kitchen again?”
“Oh,” Namjoon says. “Oh this is serious. What’s happening?”
“Taehyung has a roommate.”
They stand there in silence for a moment. Namjoon closes his eyes, sighs deeply, presses his hand hard against his temple. “Yes? I think his name is Yoongi. Is that all? Can I go back to work now?”
“No, you don’t get it Joon.” Hoseok starts to pace and Namjoon returns to his chair anyway. He took a vacation day last Friday so he and Jimin could do a weekend trip to Big Sur and his inbox is feeling it. “Taehyung has a roommate. What are all of Taehyung’s friends?”
“Uh… good people?”
“Hot, Joon. They’re hot.” Hoseok beats the back of one of the guest chairs for emphasis. “So Yoongi is hot, and that is a problem.”
“Hoseok,” Namjoon says slowly without looking up from his screen. “Hoseok, I mean this as objectively as possible, but you are also really hot. I don’t think you have anything to worry abo—”
“HYUNG, CALL IN THE GUARD WE HAVE A PROBLEM!”
Namjoon melts over his desk as Jungkook throws himself into the room, chest heaving, pausing only when he sees Hoseok lingering a couple yards away. He immediately flushes and tucks his hair, wild from the sprint he must have made from the gym, behind his hair with a demure hand.
“What?” Namjoon asks when seconds pass and Jungkook doesn’t speak. “Please tell me this isn't about Yoongi.”
Jungkook fwips around to him. “What? How’d you know?”
“Oh my god you both share one brain cell,” Namjoon mutters into his desk calendar.
“Wait, are you trying to date Yoongi, too?” Jungkook asks, twisting back to Hoseok.
“I haven’t made it that far,” Hoseok says. His ears are red. Namjoon doesn’t say anything. “What intel have you gathered, JK?”
Jungkook lifts a hand to start listing them off. “First-gen Korean. Psychologist. He’s got a music therapy degree. Likes basketball and tummy rubs and old school hip-hop.”
Hoseok’s hands smack down on his desk and Namjoon shouts, catches himself from slipping out of his chair, and nearly sends a keysmash response to a very important potential donor. “Joon, hire him so we can date him.”
“Okay, that’s the exact opposite of what will happen if I hire him,” Namjoon tells both of them as he crawls back into his seat.
6 months later
“Wait,” Yoongi says, lifting a hand to hold off Namjoon’s story. Namjoon waits patiently while Yoongi’s gaze flickers over the members of their table. “So you’re telling me you recruited me not because of my resumé and extensive accolades and innovative methods but because these two nit-wits couldn’t keep it in their pants?”
“I resent that,” Jungkook says.
“I don’t,” Hoseok shrugs.
Yoongi stares at them both open-mouthed. “And I said yes to you two. Wow. What was I thinking.”
“That we’re hot,” Hoseok says.
“That we make you a more joyful and well-rounded version of yourself,” Jungkook smiles.
Yoongi’s mouth pinches into a thin line but he doesn’t deny either of them.
Something knocks Namjoon’s foot under the table, and Namjoon glances down and then over to where Jimin’s sitting across from him, chin in palm, smiling flirtily at him.
“You can use my name, you know.”
“What if I want to play footsie with my boyfriend?”
“I will kick the table,” Namjoon says, stone-faced. “Or your shin. Probably break you. And the table. And myself. What will we have then?
Jimin lowers his lashes, chews on his bottom lip. Namjoon gulps. “Oh, do you want to break me, Joonie?”
“Come on guys, in front of my salad?” Seokjin whines. Jungkook breaks away from whatever quiet conversation is now happening between him and Hoseok and Yoongi to air high-five Seokjin across the table.
Namjoon stares at them both. “Jin. You’re eating pasta. There is no salad on this table.”
Seokjin just rolls his eyes and proceeds to shove an entire meatball into Taehyung’s waiting mouth. Taehyung starts laughing around the bite and Namjoon hands him a napkin before he spits it everywhere. “Joon, you work with the youths, why are you so dense.”
“I control your paycheck, Jin.”
“Precious, most amazing, loving boss who was top of his class at Stanford and has incredible hair—Why are you so dense?”
There’s unanimous, delighted laughter from the entire table, and Namjoon just sighs and picks up his pizza and smiles to himself when he feels Jimin’s foot knock against his ankle again and stay there for the rest of their tumultuous weekly lunch.