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New Romantics

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There are two types of people in this world: morning people, and those who want to shoot morning people.

Yoongi falls firmly within the second category.

And the incessant, loud ringing of the doorbell does nothing to disprove that fact. Tossing in bed, Yoongi groans, barely awake to register any coherent thought. It’s probably the neighbors. Some deliveryman for the family with their three kids or Jung Hoseok two doors down. 

Dingdingdingding—

Who the fuck orders things at this hour? It’s way too early—the sun’s still up, fuck's sake. Yoongi wants to make full use of his snooze time as much as possible, thank you very much. He shoves his head beneath his pillow to drown out the endless buzzing ricocheting off the walls like a loudhailer, waiting for the noise to cease.

But it doesn’t. It prattles on and on, not unlike the way his mother used to nag at him for shirking dishwashing duty back in high school.

Somewhere behind his closed eyes and at the back of his mind, Yoongi wonders if the bell is actually ringing for him, but then he dismisses the thought as soon as it comes. Of course not. The last time he had friends over was... ah, right. 

Never.

It’s definitely for the folks next door.

“Min Yoongi-ssi?”

Or not.

Breath snagging, Yoongi’s eyes crack opens. His first thought is: who?

And then: why?

Because let it be known that Min Yoongi is not a person of parties. He’s not huge on inviting people to come within the range of his personal space, let alone his own damn living quarters, so who in the world could be looking for him—knowing his name, even—at hell o’clock in the morning?

He drags his feet from bed and trudges to the door, yawning while stretching, and when he peeks through the peephole, he finds a tall man clad in a suit standing on the other side. Like, an actual formal suit, with a tie and all, this early in the morning. An insurance agent? If so, that’s fucked up. Just goes to show what next sales tactics these relentless white-collar workers are up to these days. They sure have a lot of nerve knocking from door-to-door now.

Yoongi frowns and calls out, “What the hell do you want?”

A muffled voice from the other side of the door answers, “Hello! It would be better to explain face to face.”

“How do I know you’re not trying to break in and rob me?” Yoongi slurs the question, still groggy.

A pause. “With all due respect—if that were the case, I wouldn’t bother to knock.”

Fair point. With a sigh, Yoongi keys in his passcode and opens the door just a crack, barely enough for a gust of summer air to blow through, and his bleary eyes land on his uninvited guest’s face. The man is as tall as a tree, one arm clutching a thick file of papers while the other hand holds a leather laptop bag. He smiles at Yoongi and gives a small wave. 

Yoongi crinkles his nose. “So. How can I help you?”

“Hello,” says Mr. Suit Guy. “I’m Kim Namjoon, your grandfather’s lawyer, and I’m here to discuss your assets.”

Yoongi blinks. His grandfather? He’s never even met the old man, was never introduced to him. “My... assets?”

The man nods, moving forward to invite himself into Yoongi’s flat. “Yes. If we could sit down—“

“I’m sorry but,” Yoongi bars Namjoon’s entry with a pale arm, “what is going on here, exactly?”

Namjoon pauses, startled, then flashes him a look heavy with pity. “Min Yoongi-ssi. I’m afraid your grandfather is dead.”

 


 

By all means, this is not how Yoongi envisioned his Saturday morning would go.

He and Namjoon are sitting across from each other at the dining table, and for the first fifteen minutes, his brain completely zones out, glossing through the details of whatever Namjoon is rambling on about.

It’s too early in the morning and Yoongi hasn’t ingested enough caffeine to spark his brain cells to life yet, because a typical weekend for him involves sleeping through breakfast and lunch and only waking up near dusk. He fights to keep his bleary eyes open as each unfamiliar term and law jargon coming from Namjoon’s mouth zip right over his head, with the exception of the four words he’d said earlier—yourgrandfatherisdead—replaying in his mind over and over like a broken telecom message.

It’s surreal.

Yoongi doesn’t quite know how to react to this shred of knowledge—grief seems too intimate of a word to feel for someone who’s been sorely absent from his life 99% of the time. He didn’t even know he had a grandparent who was, well... alive.

(Well, not anymore, but you know.)

So he ends up just sitting there listlessly, mouth parted and mind scrambling for a more appropriate response—what do you say to a member of the law enforcement society barging into your house at the asscrack of dawn, bearing news of the death of a long-lost grandfather?

It’s not until Namjoon says something about a “will” and “10 million” and “inheritance”—in that order, respectively—that Yoongi’s ears perk up and suddenly he forgets his quenching thirst for coffee because, come on: money? He can talk money.

“Wait,” Yoongi interrupts, blood surging. “What did you just say?”

Namjoon pauses and looks up from the sheaf of papers that have scattered across the dining table. “Um. That the funeral will take place three days from now, and will last a week—“

“No.” Yoongi waves a hand in the air, mimicking a rewinding gesture. “Earlier, before that.”

“Ah. The late Yoon Janghyuk has stated in his final will that upon his death, his only grandson Min Yoongi will be entitled to inherit 10 billion won in his name,” Namjoon repeats in one breath.

Yoongi inhales a staggering breath and sits back, mind racing to string sentences together. Blinking rapidly, he rests a palm across his forehead because—wow. 

Whoa. Since when did he have a filthy rich grandfather? And why did his mother never make a single mention of her family background all throughout Yoongi’s growing years? Seriously. A heads-up would’ve been nice.

“Did you just say ten billion?” Yoongi says in a whoosh of a breath, feeling dizzy all of a sudden. He pinches the underside of his wrist to make sure he’s not having a fancy dream. Ten billion is enough to get him almost anything he wants. A lifetime’s worth of bills paid for. He could even move out, if he wants to.

Namjoon nods. “Ten billion in assets, correct.”

Not million. It’s more than enough money to sustain him, more than enough to ensure he lives a comfortable life. Yoongi’s eyes widen. “Um. Wow.”

The attorney clears his throat. “Now, as I was saying—“

“Could you tell me more about this particular inheritance,” Yoongi can’t help himself from cutting in again. “And how one might go about um, procuring it.”

Namjoon must see right through his bullshit, because he sighs and unlatches his glasses from the bridge of his nose. Using the hem of his sleeve to wipe it clean, he asks in a plaintive tone, “Min Yoongi-ssi, are you perhaps married?”

“To my job? Hell yeah.”

Namjoon chuckles in wry amusement. “Then in that case I might as well say I am, too.”

Yoongi’s brow creases and he sits forward. “I don’t follow.”

“Which is why if you would allow me to elaborate further, I would explain the terms of Yoon Janghyuk’s will—“

A loud crash steals their attention, followed by a hiss. Yoongi turns to where his cat, a Scottish Fold named Madeleine, is stalking out of the bedroom and glaring daggers at the space where Namjoon sits.

Namjoon groans and buries his head in his hands. “Am I just long-winded, or do people not finish talking in this house?”

Yoongi stands up and scoops the cat in his arms, stroking her ginger fur in an attempt to tamp down the aggression. “It’s okay,” he croons under his breath. “This man won’t harm me.”

On the contrary. Namjoon is the surrogate key to his financial fulfillment.

“As I was saying.” Namjoon adjusts the glasses back on his nose, and it glints from the late morning sun filtering in through the blinds. “From my observations, you are not married.”

Shrugging, Yoongi says, “I don’t really see where you’re going with this...”

“Which means you won’t be able to claim your inheritance.”

Yoongi stops short. “Why not?”

Namjoon shuffles through his pile of paperwork until he finds the right sheet, and points to a paragraph. “It states here on clause three that…”

Yoongi leans forward to read along, and his heart plummets.

 

iii. Min Yoongi shall inherit all aforementioned assets given the circumstances in which he is bound by legal and credible marriage.

 

“What the fuck.”

There are moments in life where you look out the window and see a glorious landscape just beyond reach, only to stand up and find the door locked from the outside in.

This is one of them.

Yoongi’s mouth hangs open, and he lets out a tiny disbelieving scoff. “You’re kidding me.”

Namjoon’s apologetic smile tells him otherwise, and amidst the dread and dark panic twisting in his gut all Yoongi musters is: “But why?”

“In his final months, your grandfather became a very... sentimental man,” says Namjoon, lowering his gaze. “It’s not my place to assume his reasons, but I believe he sincerely wanted to ‘make up for all his mistakes’ throughout his lifetime. And that includes you and your family.”

Yoongi’s mood dampens. He doesn’t want to steer the conversation in that direction. With a deep sigh, he asks, “So what happens next?”

“As Mr. Yoon’s representing attorney, it is within my power to safekeep the assets at least until you find a spouse,” Namjoon replies. He purses his lips, pushing up the rim of his glasses. “But there’s this other clause...”

Yoongi groans. “Another one?”

“It says that if you are not married within the year, the inheritance will be split among your other relatives.”

Horror curdles at the pit of Yoongi’s stomach. No. There is no way in hell he is letting that happen. He clenches his fists.

“So since you’re not married—“

“Yet.”

Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Beg your pardon?”

“I said I’m not married,” Yoongi affirms dryly. “Not yet, at least.”

The attorney gives him a curious look, and something stubborn and resolute forms in Yoongi’s chest. Truth be told, he has no clue what he’s supposed to do from here onwards, but at that moment only one thing matters: he’s motherfucking rich now.

(Sort of.)

 


 

“What’s with the long face?”

Seokjin twists the combination to his locker, and it springs open with a rustic clang. “Wait, no. Don’t tell me. Somebody stole your slippers outside your apartment again. Or you’re behind on bills. Or... your cat’s sick?”

Sighing, Yoongi buttons his navy blue vest over his crisp white collared shirt—basic uniform. No employee at the Blue Rose Jazz Bar is allowed to look “unpresentable”, or so his manager says. Seokjin places a lot of emphasis on first impressions, though it’s probably just an elaborate excuse to dress up all fancy to “match the setting’s smokey atmosphere”. Whatever.

“Worse,” Yoongi mutters.

“And here I thought you couldn’t have possibly looked any gloomier than you usually do. Is Madeleine okay?” Seokjin shakes a can of hairspray. “Why so angsty?”

If it wasn’t already obvious, Yoongi’s not the find-someone-and-settle-down type. He keeps it simple. Roof over his head, food on the table, cat in his lap. Never in his twenty-five years of existence did he ever imagine the day would come where he’d lament, “...I need to get married.”

The jiggling sound of the hairspray can ceases, and the spraying noise stops. Silence hangs between them so loudly that Yoongi hears the rush of the air vents in the ceiling.

Seokjin is staring at him. “Yoongi. Are you on drugs?”

“You’re making me sound like a cynic misanthrope hermit crab.”

“Correction,” Seokjin intercepts, looking like he’s finally recovering from the initial shock. “A cynic misanthrope hermit crab who also happens to be a ruthless punctuality snob.”

“My most redeeming qualities.”

“You’re welcome.” His manager smooths his gel-slicked hair and shuts his locker. “But that’s beside the point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did I just hear you say the M-word?”

Yoongi’s deadpan stare gives it all away.

“Shocking.” Seokjin emits a low whistle. “I have so many questions.”

“And I have so many pieces to get through before the night is over.” Yoongi reluctantly puts on the small, fake teal blue rose on his breast pocket—the finishing touch, cherry on top, according to Seokjin—and picks up his sheet music. “That piano’s not gonna play itself.”

“This conversation is not over!” Seokjin bellows when Yoongi steps through the curtains that lead into the Blue Rose’s mini stage. “You have a lot of answering to do!”

Yoongi only huffs under his breath, then sits on a low, black leather bench in the middle of the wooden stage.

The first touch of the ivory keys sends his mind to a different realm, and for the first time since the chaos of this morning Yoongi closes his eyes and relaxes completely, losing himself to a medley of Davis and Ellington and Sinatra’s bests.

It’s different, with music. Yoongi doesn’t have to put on a smile, doesn’t have to think, just lets his fingers dance down the piano as if his bones and the keys are made of the same ivory. Playing at the Blue Rose might only be a part-time weekend gig, but it’s a sacred window of time to him. Whenever he lets muscle memory take over, playing pianissimo to serve as background ambience, Yoongi allows his gaze to roam while patrons sashay in and out of the underground jazz bar.

Most of them are regulars, beloved customers who return time and again. There’s Jinwoon and Hakyeon, striding in arm-in-arm while exchanging secret smiles only forbidden lovers understand. There’s also the Japanese ‘benefactor’ who always arrives with a different lady each week.

Most of the faces here are familiar, but occasionally they do get newcomers.

Like this one.

The first thing Yoongi notices is his hair—sunburst gold, so effortless in the way each strand swishes this way and that that you’d think it grew out of the guy’s head naturally.

The second thing that grabs Yoongi’s attention is the way the young man walks—like the world is a stage and he owns it. He’s not that tall; perhaps even the same height as Yoongi, but when he walks it’s like the entire room holds it breath and shifts to accommodate his presence. And Yoongi’s not the type of guy to be fazed by first impressions, but when the young man looks up and catches him staring, his heart tumbles backwards and Yoongi ends up pressing the wrong key at the wrong time.

What comes out of the piano is a pathetic, off-beat, wrong note.

Grimacing, Yoongi rips his gaze away and focus back on the music—lest he get fired for messing up such a simple piece—but his senses are hyper aware of which booth Blondie chooses to sit, and Yoongi is (pleasantly) surprised to realize that it’s at the table 2 meters across him.

Focus, Min Yoongi.

It’s just another attractive stranger. That’s it. No need to lose his wits over one face. Yoongi takes a deep breath and forces his eyes to stay low on the keys, even though they’re itching to stray back to where he sits.

The guy’s probably taken anyway.

And... surprise surprise, he’s not wrong.

Because not more than ten minutes later, a man built like bricks strides into the club like a bulldozer, nearly colliding into a poor waiter before sliding into the booth to press a sloppy kiss to Blondie’s cheek.

Yoongi purses his lips.

A smile blossoms across Blondie’s face, and he leans in to whisper into his boyfriend’s ear.

Yoongi averts his gaze. They’re always taken, at the end of the day. Disappointed but not surprised.

The rest of the night blurs by. He may or may not have slammed the piano too hard. It even gets to the point where Seokjin waltzes past where Yoongi’s piano pedestal stands, whispering surreptitiously behind his hand, “Tone down the angst a bit, won’t you?”

Only when Yoongi reaches the second-to-the-last song of the night does the chaos ensue.

Don’t get him wrong, it’s not like he was deliberately eavesdropping. It’s just kind of hard not to listen when two people start a screeching match two feet away from you. It’s also hard not to look, because as much as Yoongi hates disruption in his life, he can’t say he hates witnessing drama. He’s a busybody like that.

Look but don’t meddle: that’s his personal policy.

“You’re what?” he hears Blondie exclaim, high-pitched and petulant.

The guy next to him—his boyfriend, Yoongi presumes—lets out a string of hurried murmurs that he can’t hear, but the next thing he knows, Blondie is dropping a string of loud curses left and right as if he’s beatboxing each word. Then he picks up a wine glass and dumps its cherry-red liquid contents into his boyfriend’s face.

Yoongi has to remind his fingers not to seize up while playing.

“Jimin, wait. Babe—“

“Don’t ever call me that,” Blondie snaps, eyes red with outrage. “Especially not when you’ve been engaged this whole fucking time, Choi Sungjoon. How gracious of you to only inform me now.”

Behind the piano, Yoongi’s eyes widen and his jaw drops. Well, damn.

“But we can always keep this up, you know?” argues the asshole, which has Jimin’s hand smacking the side of his face.

“Don’t make me your side project,” Jimin bites out, and Yoongi can’t help but press each key faster, speeding up the tempo to somehow accompany this tension.

“Tell you what,” Jimin spits out, intentionally making his voice ring out across the entire bar. “And this bar is my witness. You’re getting married next month? Well, Choi Sungjoon, guess what.”

Tears are welling up in his eyes—Yoongi can see the breakdown from 50 yards away.

“If you can get married, then so can I,” Jimin continues, his voice breathy and cracking at the end. “I swear I will marry the first man I run into, from now on. Just you fucking wait and see, dirtbag.”

At his words, Yoongi’s hands pause, hovering over the piano keys.

What?

He swears he’s hearing things. He must be getting desperate, and the prospect of inheriting ten billion won is messing with his perception. Yoongi doesn’t get to ponder this over, because the next moment, Jimin picks up his things and scoots out of his booth seat unceremoniously.

“Jimin, wait—“

“You have no right,” Jimin half-growls, half-whimpers. “You have no right to— oh!”

At the last moment, Jimin trips over one side of the table leg jutting out of the booth, and he falls, almost in slow motion...

...and barrels face-first into Yoongi’s chest.

Later, Yoongi will regret sliding out of the safety of his piano bench and acting before thinking. Later, he’ll question what the hell could’ve gotten into him for being so brash and bold and dumb.

Right now though, as he holds this wide-eyed stranger steady, all he rasps out is a low, despairing, “Hi. Will you marry me?”

 


 

Park Jimin is no stranger to proposals.

At the prime, tender age of twenty-three years young, he’s already amassed a suite of impromptu confessions and wedding offers that sits at the back of his mind like a row of trophies left to collect dust on a shelf. Ego fluffers, each one of them.

He’s aware of his charisma, knows how to work his gait and facial expressions to his advantage. Park Jimin is no stranger to the world of proposals, but in his twenty-three years of life, never has he been on the receiving end of one from a random stranger out of the blue.

Yet here he is now, red-cheeked and tear-streaked, staring into the deep brown eyes of a guy whose hair is the color of midnight on a rainy evening, and all Jimin can think is: Who the hell asks for a hand in marriage in place of a simple ‘hello’?

That, but also a panicked: Not here. Not now.

Because this is not how this particular scenario was supposed to go. He was supposed to make a clean exit, leave Sungjoon in the bar and paint him as a huge thirsty asshat. Just like they’d agreed.

Stricken, Jimin’s mouth freezes momentarily as he grapples for a reaction. “Um.”

The guy in front of him blinks, and he seems to catch a hold of his actions,  because then he releases Jimin’s elbows and steps back with a mortified bow. “M-my bad. I didn’t—“

“Shhh,” Jimin shushes, feeling like his brain is disassembling itself, hyper aware of the eyes on them. The ambient chatter inside the jazz bar has lowered to a stunned silence, and Jimin’s instincts scream for him to flee, bring this outside. Someone has interrupted his little performance, waltzed into his stage without his permission. Unacceptable.

Before the guy can stutter more, Jimin grasps him by the shoulders and pushes, pushes, pushes him up past the flight of stairs that lead up to ground level, wheeling the stranger out into the fresh, open air.

The guy stammers a slew of baffled protests, but Jimin is not having it. “Do you know what you’ve just done?”

“Sorry, I acted without thinking—“

“You nearly blew it.” Jimin fumes as he turns to pin the stranger down with a harsh glower. Granted, he’d managed to pull off the ruse well, had shed the most convincing crocodile tears he could, but still. “I almost broke character!”

Black Haired Dude stares dumbly at him. “Uh. What are you– I’m lost.“

Jimin glances behind his shoulder, scanning for possible eavesdroppers, before stepping close to the guy—and wow, it’s not everyday he meets a cutie whose height matches his for perfect kissing range—to whisper:

Listen. Everything you saw there? Was staged, but between you and me, let’s say it was all completely and wholly true.” The words slip past Jimin’s mouth without filter, and at the back of his mind he wonders why the hell he’s divulging Top Secret Matters to a random stranger.

Two weeks ago, his high school friend Sungjoon pinged him on KakaoTalk to share his miserable story of woe—that he, a gym instructor, has gathered himself some rabid admirers who’ve turned into stalkers over time.

And Park Jimin, theatre graduate, had agreed to help shake them off. After all, he’s built quite a steady repertoire, being everyone’s go-to contact person when it comes to fooling people for blind. Their little sly conman, able to pull off any believable act without breaking a sweat.

Which brings them to this night with Operation Make Sungjoon Unavailable, and the whole time Jimin was already priding himself on being such a talented actor that Sungjoon’s nasty fans from two tables over started sporting horrified expressions at their little spat.

Until this guy.

This guy was not a part of the plan at all.

“And to answer your question,” Jimin quips curtly, carding a hand through his hair out of habit. In the autumn air, his breath comes out in white puffs of mist. “No, I won’t marry you.”

Black Haired Dude blanches at his words. “It’s fine. It’s not like I expected—“

“I mean, please,” Jimin continues with a laugh. “I know I’m pretty, but marriage? Right away? Isn’t that taking it a little too far? I don’t even know you, sir.”

“Like I said—“

“And honestly. I’m too good for you. So no thanks, I’m staying single.”

The apologetic shine in the guy’s eyes diminishes into something resembling affront. “Wait,” he says slowly. “So... you weren’t heartbroken?”

Finally, he’s catching on!” Jimin claps his hands together and gives Black Haired Dude a pity-pat on the shoulder, grinning for no reason. Maybe he’s tipsy.

“Anyway, it’s a flattering offer, mister, but no.” Jimin pastes on the sickly sweet smile he always uses in front of his friends’ mothers. “I’m not that cheap.”

He spins to leave, but hears at the last moment:

“But it all seemed so real.”

Jimin chuckles, congratulating himself for fooling every last person in that bar. “Honey, that’s just called acting.”

 


 

“Just when I thought you were finally doing something cool in your life, you come strutting back in here looking like a wet kitten,” Seokjin remarks the moment Yoongi steps back inside the Blue Rose’s staff locker room. 

Yoongi drops into a chair and buries his face in his hands.

“Do me a favor, won’t you?” he says, feeling like... like gum stuck to the sole of a shoe. Small and dirty and all things unnecessary. “Just put me on like. Stocking duty next week.”

“Those fingers are for piano-ing, not appliance-checking” comes Seokjin’s lightning-fast reply.

“Though I could definitely think of a lot more uses for long fingers.” He waggles his eyebrows suggestively.

Any other time, Yoongi would have rolled his eyes, maybe even laughed if he’s in a particularly good mood. But now he just sighs, sniffles and looks down at the floor.

Never has he ever felt such magnitude of humiliation before. Yoongi’s comfort zone lies in staying within the sidelines, watching life pass him by. He’s not quite sure what stings more: that he’s made a fool out of putting himself out there, or that he just got brutally rejected.

He hears footsteps drawing near, and when he looks up he finds Seokjin looming over him, arms crossed. “Min Yoongi.”

“Mmph.” Yoongi doesn’t look up.

“What the hell is going on?” Seokjin asks. “First you tell me you need to get married, and now you’re proposing to strangers.”

Yoongi sighs again, the words ‘Ten billion dollars’ bouncing back and forth in his mind like a pinball.

“I mean, what am I supposed to expect now?” Seokjin carries on. “Next thing I know, you’ll be taking off to become a rap star, or that you’re training to be a monk. Bald and—“

The noise of the walk-in freezer’s door interrupts Seokjin’s monologue, and Taehyung’s teal blue-dyed head pops out, eyes wide and curious. “Did anything happen while I was inside?”

Seokjin sends him a pointed look. “You missed out. Yoongi proposed to a stranger just now.”

“No way.” The younger waiter’s mouth falls open. “Everything always happens when I’m on freezer duty.”

“I don’t know, it’s not a very Yoongi thing to do,” Seokjin singsongs, talking about Yoongi as if he’s not right there sitting in the same room.

Taehyung nods. “There’s an ulterior motive. There’s always one with him.”

“Go ahead. Ask him why. My bet is: he’s high.”

“I’m not high, or drunk, or whatever the hell you’re thinking,” Yoongi defends himself before launching into a brief recap of everything that happened since this morning. When he finishes, Taehyung goes quiet while Seokjin bursts out laughing.

“So you need to find a wife—“

“Or a husband,” Yoongi adds.

“Or a husband, just for the sake of claiming your money from a grandfather you’ve never met?” Seokjin asks, leaning against the side of the lockers. “Either you’re a lucky bastard, or this is a scam.”

“The attorney himself explained it to me.”

Yoongi isn’t about to let his manager’s skepticism dampen his already rotten mood. “It’s the real thing, hyung. This is my ticket to paradise.”

Seokjin studies him for a moment, trying to gauge just how serious he is about this. “Well. Do you want me to set up a blind date?”

Yoongi swallows. Him, meet new people? Make attempts at flirting and get them interested in marriage? He might as well scale the Pyramids of Giza. He scratches his head. “No need. Thing is, I’m not really interested in the whole falling in love shit. No time for that.”

Seokjin shrugs and weaves through the curtains to return to the Blue Rose’s main floor. “Suit yourself.”

In the wake of his manager’s departure, Yoongi sags against his locker, thoughts in a jumble. What now?

“You don’t have to.”

He glances up to find Taehyung pacing back and forth in front of, eyes glinting with something either utterly brilliant or utterly ridiculous. Yoongi knows that look: the trademark Scheming Face. “What do you mean?”

“You’re just getting married, hyung,” Taehyung says casually. “It’s not like you have to love them, right?”

Squinting his eyes, Yoongi says, “I don’t know where you’re going with this, but that face is giving me bad idea vibes.”

“It’s the face of a genius at work,” Taehyung chides in mock offense. “Learn the difference, hyung.”

“Did you forget when you suggested we should name our cocktails after sex terms?” Yoongi fires.

“Hey! Flaming Orgasm is iconic! And the customers love them!” Taehyung cries, before rearranging his face in a placating smile. “Anyway. Trust me on this. Because I think I might know just the perfect person for you.”

Yoongi can spot a Bad Idea from a mile away, and it’s safe to say that this one is already giving him an ominous feeling. “Who?”

Taehyung smiles, looking genuinely pleased with himself. “A friend.”

 


 

When Jimin gets home later that night, he hardly makes it past the first flight of stairs leading into his [rented] apartment complex when his spots his belongings—his clothes, his sheets, his books, his suitcase—dumped outside the main entrance like a pile of garbage.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

Letting out a small cry, he rushes forward and picks up his dirtied laundry, trying to gather every last item in his arms. What the hell is going on? Jimin has half a mind to storm into the apartment and knock on the landlady’s front door—

“Park Jimin!” comes a shrill shriek.

Jimin freezes mid-scramble. Looks like there’s no need to go looking.

Straightening his spine, he turns around to come face to face with who else but his landlady—a short, middle-aged woman in a pale nightdress that makes her look sickly green.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Jimin suppresses a horrified gasp when he sees a triangular bald spot on the crown of her head, which was definitely not there the last time he’d seen her. “H-hi, Mrs. Kwon.”

“You dare show your face in my premises?” Mrs. Kwon sneers, raising a hanger in the air, and Jimin feels like he’s twelve years old again, running away from his mother’s ass whooping after accidentally breaking her favorite flower vase. “Huh? After what you did—“

“Mrs. Kwon!” Jimin cries as he inches backwards. “I-isn’t it a lovely night? Perfect for some... um. Relaxation? Yoga?”

“Yoga, my ass!” Mrs. Kwon screeches, eyes livid. “Relaxing is the last thing on my mind right now. I’ve lost so much hair, you filthy scoundrel, all because of you, and now I’m balding even more because of stress!”

Jimin can only flash what he hopes is a remorseful expression as he kneels on the gravel. “I’m so, so sorry—“

“You’re only sorry you got caught, rat,” his landlady interjects, face red, nostrils flaring. She points at her half-shorn head. “And you’re paying for all this damage, eh? I’m going to court and slamming your name.”

Jimin gasps. “But I don’t have- I just graduated from university!” In other words: broke.

“You think I care? Get out. And never come back unless you’re settling for my damages and your overdue rent.”

And that is how Jimin finds himself hauling his ass down the streets of metropolitan Seoul, lugging around two suitcases, one grocery bag of leftover takeout food, and a backpack weighing heavy on his shoulders, cursing himself for his terrible circumstances that he can’t exactly not blame himself for, all because—

“You sold what to your landlady?” Taehyung chokes through a mouthful of bibimbap, and Jimin pushes a cup of cold water towards his best friend.

Jimin clucks his tongue. “Some homemade hair products.”

Taehyung gives him a pointed look. “Homemade.

“Okay, fine. It was just a little bit of... leg wax.”

“Leg. Fucking. Wax.”

“Small doses! And it wasn’t even obvious!” Jimin cries indignantly, cheeks puffed into a pout. “Plus, I designed that purple uniform on the bottle!”

“Jiminie, Chimchim, Jimbo,” Taehyung says, putting his chopsticks down. “Breathe, man. Loosen those shoulders. It’s not good for your blood pressure.”

Jimin lets out a breath he didn’t even know he’d been bottling up.

“I know you’re quite the entrepreneur, but... okay. Why?”

Jimin stabs his rice bowl with a spoon. “The grind never stops, Tae. You know I can’t let my family know how it’s really like for me here.” After all the fuss he’d made back in Busan to go out and find ‘better acting opportunities’ in Seoul, he can’t quit now. No turning back.

“Didn’t you say you were waiting for Big Apple Performing Group to get back to you with audition results?”

Jimin gasps, eyes blowing wide, and he scrambles for his phone. “Shit, that was today. Thanks for reminding me.”

A few swipes and taps later, he pulls up the email alert from his dream company. Jimin’s heart pounds in his ears as he scrolls through the list of names scheduled for a callback, only for his chest to deflate when he reaches the end of the webpage and—

“My name’s not here.”

Taehyung gives an empathetic sigh. “Better luck next time—“

“There’s no next time,” Jimin says, heart sinking, swallowing down the lump forming in his throat. Big Apple only has yearly intakes. “At least, not until next year.”

“Then you have a year to keep improving yourself!”

Here’s to the fools who dream.

It’s a line Jimin fondly remembers from his favorite recent musical, Lala Land, sung by Emma Stone as she auditions for a role that she’s been coveting throughout the movie. Jimin remembers himself, sitting starry-eyed in the cinema, charmed to the bone. He remembers wanting to belt out a sudden tune, remembers the way his chest fluttered as if that song had been birthed into the seed of his soul, telling himself he would definitely be successful if he worked—tried—hard enough.

But sometimes even your 100% falls short.

“Y’know, Tae...” His words quieten, and he fiddles with the bottlecap of a soju bottle on the table. “I used to believe dreams were made of stardust, and that mine would hopefully be big & bright enough so someone might pay attention and say, ‘Hey, let’s give this one a chance.’

Jimin locks his jaw, feels his stomach clench. He’s tried. He’s been trying. He’s tired. “But then I realized maybe dreams are just that. Things you can only imagine while you sleep.” A traitorous teardrop leaks out of the corner of his left eye. “Fuck. I think I drank too much." He leans forward to rest his forehead on the table. “I’m just another tryhard who’s never gonna be able to pay back my student loans. And now I’m about to get sued for some ahjumma’s hair loss, and I have no place to stay.”

“You can stay with me,” Taehyung offers quietly.

“Nah.” Jimin waves his hands absently mid-air. “I’ll owe you too much. As if I don’t already.” He gives a humorless giggle. “I don’t leech off of friends.”

Silence hangs in the air between them like a tapestry, until Taehyung speaks. “Jimin?”

“Mmm?”

“What if I told you there might be a way I could help?” There’s a quaver to Taehyung’s voice that wasn’t there before.

“Don’t give me money, Taehyung-ah.”

“I’m not.” A pregnant pause. “At least, it won’t be me giving it to you. And you can work for it. With your acting chops.”

“You say that as if you’re not my fellow theatre major graduate.”

“Yeah, but...” Taehyung’s voice trails off, because they both know he doesn’t have to worry about auditioning when he’s the one who got street-casted while walking down Hongdae a few months back. “I’m just saying. You need something that you can’t earn from a monthly paycheck. And… I think there’s a way.”

Rubbing his nose, Jimin raises his head and fixes his blurry gaze on his best friend, and that’s how he knows Taehyung isn’t kidding. “How much does it pay?”

“Uhh. Falls within ten billion won. I think half.”

Jimin’s insides jolt. “Tell me more.”

 


 

Yoongi cannot believe he’s letting himself get roped into this.

It’s not the first time he’s fallen into one of Kim Taehyung’s schemes. The guy has a knack for Inventive Ideas, though Yoongi can confidently say that there’s a 2:10 chance that his ideas are actually... feasible.

So while it’s not the first time he’s falling into one of Kim Taehyung’s brainchild schemes, Yoongi is taking a huge leap of faith with this one.

There’s a coffee shop two blocks down Yoongi’s apartment called Bean There Done That, and that’s where Yoongi sits now, beside the glass windows and trying his best not to wring his hands together in nervousness. He actually wore a nice, crisp grey shirt paired with dark jeans today instead of opting for one of his usual hoodies and ripped jeggings. Somehow this feels like a blind date, even though Yoongi’s better, rational brain knows it’s anything but.

Park Jimin. That’s the name of the guy that Taehyung is recommending as a candidate for marriage. As if marriage is just a contest you have to win instead of a lifetime commitment.

It almost sounds similar to a certain young man’s name from last night’s kerfuffle, but Yoongi waves it off. There’s no way. For all he knows, there could be a hundred Park Jimins staying within the vicinity of Myeongdong alone. Min Yoongi doesn’t think his luck is that bad.

He glances at his wristwatch.

2:03pm. Where is he? Yoongi hates to think he’s an anal stickler for punctuality to the point of aggression, but it’s actually one of the traits Seokjin has gotten right about him from the get-go. Time is gold—once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

He sighs through gritted teeth. Tardiness, tardiness—the most despicable of all attitudes. You never know if you can depend on people. Tapping his foot restlessly, Yoongi picks up a random magazine with a glossy cover from a coffee table at the right side of his armrest.

It takes 7 more minutes and 43 seconds of Yoongi casually leafing through the shitty magazine when the air across him shifts and, from his peripheral vision through either side of the magazine, he senses someone sitting down.

“Hello, good afternoon,” a silky voice greets.

Yoongi’s blood goes cold.

That voice is way too familiar for his liking. Slowly, ever so slowly, Yoongi peeks over the top of the magazine to observe who the newcomer is, and what he sees sends his nerve endings haywire.

“Have you already had lunch? I haven’t and I’m starv– oh.”

Of all the damn men in the world. Same golden hair, same slender build, same caramel eyes, glinting to reflect sunlight streaming into the cafe.

It’s him– that Jimin.

Yoongi lowers the magazine on the table, expecting to be bamboozled with scorn and self-entitled haughtiness, but by some miracle or a 180-degree twist in personality, the shock in Jimin’s eyes quickly shift into hesitation and even embarrassment.

What. Yoongi shifts in his seat. “It’s you.”

"Unfortunately." Jimin nods once, firm. “Anyway! Look, let’s cut to the chase. I um, changed my mind.”

“About?”

“Marrying you. I say yes.” Jimin doesn’t waste any time, and to Yoongi’s surprise, he finds the same quiet desperation that he’s sure his own eyes must have held the night before. “I do.”

Yoongk bristles, startled. “Is that so?” he says, low and careful. “How come?”

“I heard there was a…” Jimin snags his upper lip beneath his teeth, “...compensation for it.”

Money—how it drives people in circles. Only then does Yoongi understand what exactly Jimin’s here for. Taehyung must have relayed him the predicament Yoongi’s in. It’s almost laughable, how they’re both after the same thing and resorting to drastic measure for it. Yoongi arches an eyebrow. “Y’sure?”

Jimin worries his lower lip, and overhead Yoongi notices an Ed Sheeran song filtering in through the speakers:

 

'Cause you need me, man, I don't need you 

You need me man, I don't need you

You need me, man, I don’t need you at all

 

“Yes.”

Feeling daring, somewhat feral, Yoongi asks, “Well, what if I told you my offer doesn’t stand anymore?”

No, please—“ Jimin’s eyes fall shut, like he’s holding something back, as he says, “Please. I’m sorry for all I said last night, but...” He exhales shakily, a quiet helplessness straining his eyes, before he molds his face in an impressively calm mask. “C’mon. Let’s help each other out. We’ll call ourselves the new romantics: partners in crime, 21st century millennials making money out of marriage. Like a movie, but in real life. So.”

Yoongi smirks, feeling like he has the upper hand now after remembering the way Jimin pretty much treating him like gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe last night. “So what?”

Jimin rolls his eyes and sighs. “Do you want to get married or not?”

How the tables have turned. If they go through with this, Yoongi will either get very, very rich or very, very screwed over. Either way, there’s only one way up. He shrugs, makes it obvious that this isn’t his personal choice, but oh well.

“I do.”