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Cosmopolitan, please

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Kim Seokjin had spent the last 26 years of his life being optimistic. Never once had he doubted, or faltered, or worried. Not about this at least. Kim Seokjin had full, unwavering confidence in the fact that he did have a soulmate, they were going to meet, it would be before he was a sad, bitter, elderly man, and they would live the rest of their lives happy and in love because, goddamnit, Kim Seokjin fucking deserved it.

So, he remained optimistic. He was optimistic when his oldest friend, the stone-cold, sharp-tongued, sleepy Min Yoongi suddenly turned up with a boy who’s smile and energy rivaled the sun, their hands entwined, and the telltale matching marks syncing up for the first time.

(“This is Jung Hoseok. He’s the reason I haven’t been able to sleep for the past 25 years, but now I’m making sure he has no excitement to carry into our dreams.” “Hah! Try and stop me, Min Yoongi! We may be soulmates, but don’t you dare underestimate me.”)

He remained optimistic when his other best friend and Yoongi’s coworker, the stupidly smart and uncontrollably clumsy Kim Namjoon, appeared with a tiny, beautiful, angelic-looking man who moved with the grace of a cat and nearly rivaled Hoseok when he smiled. He remained optimistic when, a few months later, Namjoon and Jimin were suddenly towing a man child with arms the size of tree trunks, panicked doe eyes, and a nervous bunny smile, all three of their marks pulsing the same color, all looking like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.

(“Jungkookie, don’t be shy, bun, this is Joonie’s best friend, Jin-Hyung! He’ll love you.” “Hi, Hyung, it’s good to meet you.” Jungkooks cheeks were burning red, Jimin looked unbearably fond, and Namjoon had never looked more proud. Jin was so endeared he was able to ignore the sharp pains in his heart as he hugged the younger.)

He remained optimistic even when his dreams reflected his own life, thoughts, and feelings, not his soulmates, except for when he dreamt of weird colors and surrealistic landscapes- but he chalked those up to fever dreams. He remained optimistic when the songs he got stuck in his head were the same songs he heard on the radio, not hints to what his soulmate could be hearing. He remained optimistic when the line on his arm seemed to fluctuate wildly from minute to minute, never staying the same shade (Jin would never say out loud that he thought it could be faulty). Day after day, week after month after year, he remained optimistic.

Except. Although he would never admit it. Not even from his spot on the couch, under a crumb covered blanket, surrounded by tissues, from where he hadn’t moved in something like 19 hours now. Maybe. There was a slight chance. The tiniest sliver of a possibility, really. That perhaps, Kim Seokjin wasn’t quite so optimistic anymore.

26 years of his life had gone by, all of his closest friends had found their soulmate(s), and he was sitting on his couch, in the apartment he lived in by himself, eating instant ramen and blowing his nose every five minutes. At this point, he wasn’t sure if he could blame the fever he’d woken up with, or if his symptoms had more to do with how mind-numbingly alone he felt and how the stupid dramas he kept watching weren’t helping, because every time a soulmate was found on the screen, Seokjin would burst back into tears.

He was sure- well, no he wasn’t anymore, but if he allowed himself to succumb to painful irony, he was sure that his soulmate would be having awfully depressing, mopey, pitiful dreams, they’d be unconsciously listening to cheesy drama soundtracks nonstop, and their damn line would be a dull, ugly, grey. Because Jin was a dull, ugly grey. Of his, he was sure.

Listen to you, he chided himself, wiping at his nose with a crumpled tissue and hugging the pillow in his lap. Worldwide Handsome, reduced to a dull, ugly, grey, blubbering mess. No wonder you don’t have a soulmate. They probably felt you in their dreams, turned tail, and ran.

Jin scowled, throwing his tissue at the screen in frustration. He didn’t have to listen to this. He was Kim Seokjin, the most desirable, beautiful, single, pitiful, lonely, miserab- No, goddamnit!

Jin sighed, dropping his head back into the couch pillows, letting himself wallow. He didn’t deserve a soulmate. He deserved a slap in the face to snap him out of his misery and self-pity. For now, though, maybe a drink would do.

Jin finally emerged from his cocoon of gloom and anguish, turning off the tv and gathering his trash and dirty dishes up, half-heartedly cleaning his living room so he wouldn’t have to come back home to a pile of his own filth. He cracked the windows, knowing full well that the house smelled like he’d been doing exactly what he had been doing for the past day 20 hours, which was both shameful and disgusting.

Jin summoned the energy to drag himself to the shower, finally changing out of the crumb covered clothes he’d been spilling ramen on for the past day, washing his greasy hair, and getting clean enough that he didn’t smell like sweat, misery, and instant noodles.

Once out of the shower, Jin didn’t bother dressing up or doing makeup like he normally did. What did it matter? Normally, he was the radiant and enthralling Kim Seokjin- broad-shouldered Hyung-nim extraordinaire, master chef, practical model Kim Seokjin who believed in soulmates and knew that he could meet his at any time.

Tonight, though, he was just Jin. And Jin was tired, and sick, and sick and tired, and wouldn’t admit it but was losing faith in love at an astoundingly rapid rate, and Jin couldn’t be bothered to dress up to the nines to impress someone who didn’t even exist. So Jin pulled on his softest hoodie- a baby pink one that was at least two sizes too big and gave him cozy sweater paws- and a pair of plain, worn, blue jeans, and after staring at himself in the mirror and slapping himself softly a few times to hopefully not look quite so… well, miserable, he grabbed his keys, wallet, and phone, slipped his shoes on, and left.

The bar was just a few blocks from his apartment, and Jin couldn’t decide if he was annoyed at the fact that it was a Saturday night and, therefore, crowded- depriving him of the solitude he usually preferred to drown his sorrows with- or if he was satisfied that the bar was so packed that he could barely hear himself think, and the bartender would, therefore, be less likely to spend his time judging Jin for his misery.

Either way, he’d come for drinks, and that’s what he would get. Jin made his way to the bar, doing his best to avoid shoving and pushing people out of the way; not because he was nice, but because he was positive he was going to be alone forever and the thought of someone touching him, even if that someone was a drunk stranger and the touch was an accidental elbow to the chest, made him more sad and pathetic at the thought that he would never feel the touch of his soulmate because he was miserable and alone and destined to wallow in his misery and loneliness forever and ever.

He decided there might be at least some light left in his life when someone stood and left the crowded bar, leaving a stool empty just in time for Jin to take it. That’s right. Small victories. He didn’t have to wait long before the bartender appeared in front of him, but instead of asking his order, he placed a glass of whiskey in front of him. Jin frowned at the glass, then up at the bartender.

“I didn’t-”

The bartender cut him off with a shrug, motioning to the end of the bar with an uninterested expression. “The man down there bought it for you.”

Before Jin could ask anything else, the bartender was gone, taking another order, preparing another drink. Jin frowned again at the glass before trying to find who had bought him a glass of whiskey. Whiskey? Really? I’m wearing a baby pink hoodie that matches my hair. I have sweater paws. I am the twinkiest twink to exist with the exception of Park Jimin, and Park Jimin only. I deserve a damn cosmopolitan, or at least a vodka martini.

He identified the man- who was apparently top ten on the list of not being able to read people at all- when he made eye contact with a greasy looking guy who winked at him with a puckered smirk and raised his own glass- also whiskey- in cheers.

Jin fought the urge to gag. Was this the kind of man he attracted now? Oh, how the mighty had fallen. On a normal night, he wouldn’t have even spent a second with the man or his drink, but on this night, Jin wanted to get wasted, and if a strange, greasy, nasty man who was apparently blind and/or dumb wanted to buy him a drink, then Jin would save his money, hold his breath, and drink whiskey.

So, looking away from the generous creep and vowing to avoid eye contact for the rest of the night, Jin drank. He made a face at the bitter taste, hating the way it burned, but hoping it would at least get him closer to drunk. He flagged down the bartender before he even finished the last sip, cringing.

“Cosmopolitan, please,” he choked out. The bartender was taciturn but efficient, and Jin was grateful for the drink, if not the conversation.

“The man over there offered to pay for your next drink,” the bartender stated, sliding the cosmo over. Jin rolled his eyes, wondering if he’d been too subtle with his avoidance of eye contact and screwed up face. Then he realized the bartender had gestured in the opposite direction. Once again, before he could inquire more, the bartender was gone.

This time, Jin took a long sip of his (delicious) drink before looking in the direction of his new benefactor. ‘Decidedly less sleazy’ was his first impression. A bit younger than the first man, a bit more well-groomed, but still with a predatory glint in his eye and a self-indulgent smirk on his face.

Jin kept his own face stony, looking firmly down at his drink as he finished it quickly. He made brief eye contact with the bartender, gesturing for another drink. The bartender seemed satisfied at the complete lack of words needed for the exchange. He made the drink quickly, brought it to Jin, and gestured to another occupied bar stool.

This time, Jin didn’t bother looking. If the patrons insisted on buying him drinks, aiding and enabling his wallowing, he wouldn’t stop them. But, lonely as he was, he wasn’t looking to fill his bed with some arrogant, slimy stranger. The pattern repeated a few more times- one customer buying him an appletini (not Jin’s favorite, but closer than whiskey), another funding his next two drinks, another ordering him “tonight’s special”, which made the bartender roll his eyes and serve Jin a cosmopolitan because this was a dive bar, not a five star restaurant, there was no special tonight or any other night, and he didn’t care to make one up, so he gave Jin what he wanted instead.

After six free drinks, Jin finally was able to buy his own, another cosmo, and decided to turn around in hopes that maybe if they couldn’t see his face, strangers would stop trying to woo him with alcoholic beverages.

Holding his drink in two hands, Jin took in the rest of the bar with bleary eyes. The alcohol was definitely hitting his system, although he couldn’t tell if he was feeling more or less miserable. The bar had a makeshift dance floor, and Jin found his attention drawn there, taking in the sweaty, gyrating bodies. Yeah, almost everyone was grinding on their partners or bouncing dumbly with their hands in the air, but it was distracting.

It got better, too, when Jin spotted a couple that could actually dance. Wait a minute! Could that be… It was! The twinkiest twink to ever exist, out-twinking even Kim Seokjin himself!

“Jiminnie!” He called out, shooting to his feet and cursing when he almost spilled his drink. Of course, Jimin couldn’t possibly hear him over the blasting music or the babble of people talking. Jin downed the rest of his drink in one gulp, leaving the empty glass on the bar with a graceless nod of gratitude to the bartender.

“Park Jimin!” He yelled, his words slurring together as he tried to get closer. Jimin was laughing about something his partner had said, and Jin frowned. The other man was facing away from him, but he could tell that it wasn’t Namjoon or Jungkook. He was certain Jimin wouldn’t be cheating on them- after all, they were his soulmates- but the small man was very touchy, very close, and very happy with this stranger, and Jin had just 1) given up on soulmates and 2) rapidly consumed many highly alcoholic beverages back to back, so his reasoning was maybe not as top-notch as it normally was.

When Jimin stood on his tiptoes to yell something in the other’s ear, pulling back with a breathtaking grin, Jin felt his jaw hit the ground. How dare he! Park Jimin may have looked like an angel, but no one with an ounce of decency would be able to cheat on the gentle, loving tree that was Kim Namjoon. In a fit of righteous fury, Jin stormed forward, grabbed Jimin’s arm, and immediately headed for the door, ignoring Jimin’s cry of surprise and his curious “Jin-Hyung?!”.

The fresh air outside hit Jin like a wall of bricks, making him stumble slightly as he lost the immediate energy of the pulsating bar. Regaining his composure, he pulled Jimin in front of him, glaring down at the younger with what was no doubt a fearsome scowl. Except that it felt a bit more like a pout on his face, but he was sure that the anger was radiating. Except that Jimin didn’t seem afraid or upset at all, looking confused and happy instead.

“Hyung!” Jimin exclaimed, a beautiful smile on his lips. Don’t call me Hyung, you adulterer! “What are you doing here? How are you feeling, I thought you were sick? You look a little rough, do you need a cab? Or I could walk you home?”

Damn it, Park Jimin, stop being good for a second! Jin may have been… affected by the alcohol that was steadily replacing the blood in his veins, but he wouldn’t admit that Jimin’s onslaught of care and concern, mixed with the younger man’s fond eyes and gentle smile were making his head spin, because that would be admitting defeat, and Kim Seokjin was no loser.

“Park Jimin!” He finally pronounced, pouting- no, scowling- fiercely. “I saw you dancing with another man! How… dare you!” He poked an angry finger at Jimin’s chest, his eyebrows furrowing together. Jimin looked more confused now. “You have not one, but two of the most perfect, wonderful soulmates ev-ever in the world, and you’re dancing! With another man! Park Jimin! I… am disappointed! In you! Some people don’t even have soulmates, and you! You have two and look at you!”

“Hyung-”

“Oh, no, Jimin-ah, your Hyung is goone now, I’m no adulterer’s Hyung!”

“Hyung! Oh my God!” Jimin looked like he was either about to laugh or pass out. “Jin-Hyung! I would never cheat on Joon-ah or Kookie!” He laughed, a sound like chimes, or angels, or something else pure and wonderful that Jin couldn’t name. It was Jin’s turn to frown- no, this one was definitely a pout- in confusion, drink-addled brain not understanding anything. “Hyung, I was dancing with my best friend, Tae-Tae. We’ve been friends since school. He’s basically my other soulmate, but, like, best friends.”

Jin huffed out a disappointed breath, deflating. “So, what, you get three soulmates? Jiminie, that’s greedy.”

Jimin laughed again, his eyes turning into crescents. “Hyung! How much have you had to drink? Do you need a hand getting home?”

Jin shook his head firmly. “Not going home,” he proclaimed, ignoring the weird burning sensation on his arm. “I’m gonna get food. There’s a place… there- no, there!” he spun from one side to another, pointing up and then down the street. “Good food,” he mused, nodding seriously. “’m getting food.”

“Jin-Hyung, you shouldn’t go off right now, you can barely stand.”

“No! I am going… to get food. Korean food. It’s good.”

“Since it’s Korean food, would you like to eat with me?” A sudden deep, deep voice made Jin whirl around, losing his weak center of gravity and sending him tumbling forward.

He pushed off the firm expanse of muscle before him with wide eyes, sputtering out something indignant, although maybe not comprehensible. His shocked babbling cut off when he caught sight of the man in front of him.

It was dark on the street, but the light from the bar behind the stranger provided a golden halo that highlighted the angular planes of his face, his proud nose and high cheekbones, sharp jaw and strong throat. Jin couldn’t make out the other man’s features, but he could see the charming, boxy smile right in front of him.

Jin stared at that smile, the defined lips that had just spoken, the mouth that for some reason could speak in a voice Jin would have felt in his bones, if he’d had any.

Wait a minute. I have bones, right? Jin scoffed. Yeah, a bone-r.

“Tae!” Jimin’s bright voice interrupted Jin’s speculation as the small man bounced forward, placing a steadying hand on Jin’s arm. “Sorry I left so fast! Jin-Hyung saw me and wanted to talk.” He shot Jin a wink and a smile, a subtle promise to not embarrass him by sharing his extreme overreaction.

“It’s fine, Minnie, I just wanted to make sure you were still alive.” Jin was once again floored by the deep voice. It was low and husky, but so, so smooth, Jin couldn’t shake the image of honey dripping slowly, thinking that that was what this man’s voice felt like.

“Jin-Hyung,” Jimin exclaimed, tugging eagerly on Jin’s wrist, which brought Jin’s attention back to the odd stinging on his arm, “I wanna introduce you Kim Taehyung, my best friend. Tae, this is Kim Seokjin. I met him through Joonie and he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met.”

Jin cooed, reaching up to squeeze Jimin’s cheek. “Jiminie~”

Jimin laughed, swatting his hand away. Taehyung, the honey-voiced, broad-chested, boxy-smiled man in front of him, decided to speak again.

“It’s good to finally meet you, Seokjin-ssi, Jimin brags about you constantly.”

Jin lifted his chin proudly, momentarily forgetting that he was bare-faced and in a massive, pink hoodie. “Of course he does. You can call me Jin-Hyung. Any friend of Diminie-“

Hyung!”

Inebriated Jin wasn't quite fast enough to catch or dodge Jimin’s hand against his chest, so he ended up stumbling closer to Taehyung. “Ow,” he hissed, not from the slap, but from the burning on his arm, stronger now. He looked down with a frown and immediately froze. In half a second, it felt like all the alcohol evaporated from his body, leaving him stunned sober.

“Hyung?” Jimin asked, confused and maybe a little worried in the sudden shift in Jin’s mood. Jin couldn’t answer, barely heard the younger speak. He felt his head spinning, and not from the drinks, then a steadying hand, large and warm, on his shoulder.

Jin was surprised his arm didn’t combust into flames with how it was burning. But more than that, he was concerned with the mark on his arm. The mark that, for the past several years of his life had been changing colors by the minute, the mark that Jin had been convinced was a fluke of nature, a cruel joke on nature’s part that his lack of a soulmate couldn’t just be a subtle affair, but would be an eyecatching array of rainbow colors. The mark that had been tingling and burning on Jin’s arm since just a few minutes ago.

That mark, for once in his life, was not changing colors. And not just that, it seemed to be… glowing. Jin couldn’t tear his eyes from the pulsating purple, couldn’t wrap his brain around what that meant. He knew, but his brain wasn’t keeping up with his knowledge right now, it was running purely on panic and maybe adrenaline.

Jimin must have followed his gaze, because he heard a gasp and then Jimin’s small hands were wrapped around his forearm, squeezing tight as the younger practically squealed. “Hyung!! Oh my God! Hyung I’m so happy for you! Do you know what this means? Oh, Hyung, you’ve been waiting so long, no one deserves this more!”

“I’m gonna pass out,” Jin muttered, voicing the only cognisant thought running through his brain right now. It didn’t appear that Jimin heard him, though, the smaller still practically bouncing, running delicate fingers over the mark. Suddenly, he froze, his hand hovering just above it as his eyes grew wide and his voice quiet and reverent.

“Hyung, do you know what this means?!" Jimin’s hand moved away for a second, and before Jin could even blink, Jimin was pulling another arm close to his. Of course Jin already knew what the mark meant, but it suddenly felt overwhelmingly real, because now there were two, his and another, softly glowing the same purple, maybe shining brighter as they were maneuvered closer by Jimin’s tiny but strong hands. Jin felt his breath catch. I’m gonna pass out. “Hyung! Tae! You’re soulmates! I might cry, oh my God, I’m so happy! I love you both so much, this is perfect!”

Jimin probably kept going, babbling and squealing in joy, but Jin didn’t hear him. No, Jin passed out.

 


 

 

When Jin came to, he was in an unfamiliar, albeit incredibly comfortable, bed, his head resting on soft pillows, a warm blanket drawn up to his shoulders. Jin didn’t move for a minute as he took in the room, his body feeling heavy and brain feeling sluggish.

The wall against the head of the bed was covered with a rich, luxurious looking wallpaper (Jin felt it, wondered if it was made of fabric instead), while the other walls were painted a soft grey. Everywhere Jin looked, there was something… different. Here, a painting that looked like… Van Gogh? There, a collection of gold-framed mirrors. Here a collage of polaroids. There, a pile of fashion magazines and old vinyl records. Rich, crimson, velvet curtains hung floor to ceiling beside the windows, and (this made Jin do a double-take) the ceiling was sprinkled with glow in the dark stars. Jin was no astronomer, but he was 90% sure that those were real constellations, not just random clusters.

If Jin had to label the aesthetic, he’d say… thrift-shop royalty. Everything felt opulent and grand, but it was so eclectic, so comfortable. It was clear just from looking around that whoever lived here was passionate, cared deeply about every item in the room, everything they represented.

Sitting up, Jin took in the tall, elegant armchair in one corner, a patchwork quilt draped over one arm, the imposing desk against the far wall, dark wooden surface cluttered with expensive perfumes, jars of paintbrushes, scattered photographs, a high-tech camera, papers and pencils and seashells. The whole room seemed to match. Everything was luxurious, but the person who lived here wasn’t afraid of wearing things down, letting them be used and serve their purpose. There was no sense of arrogance or pretension.

Jin loved the room, even if it was nothing like his own, but he was still sitting on a stranger’s bed (silk sheets?!) with no idea where he was or who he was with. He heard voices from outside the cracked door, and he frowned, trying to focus on them.

“-when he wakes up.” Jimin’s voice. That made Jin feel more at ease.

“Does this happen often?” A low, husky voice that made Jin shiver. It felt familiar, but his fuzzy brain wasn’t operating on full power right now. Jimin’s sweet laugh sounded.

“No. Jin-Hyung is always in control of himself, the world is practically his runway. I think tonight was an off night… and you caught him by surprise. Hyung has always been a romantic, so optimistic and hopeful, but he turned 26 a little while ago- oh, hey! You guys actually have really close birthdays!- sorry, my bad. Anyway, I think… Don’t tell him I said this, he doesn’t like us to see him sad or worried, I think, but recently he’s been different. I think he just felt like it was too late for him, like maybe he didn’t have a soulmate. Tae? You okay?”

Taehyung. The name resonated through the haze in Jin’s mind, so much truth in it that Jin knew if he’d been standing, he would have stumbled. Taehyung responded, his voice quieter than before. Jin had to strain his ears to catch his next words.

“Yeah. No, I- I don’t know. I feel guilty? I know it’s stupid, I don’t even know him. But I should have been there, you know? Like… it hurts me, for some reason, that he could have… doubted me. No, not even that. Doubted in me, that I even existed. That I’ve been waiting for him just as long as he’s been waiting for me.”

Is this a heart attack? Jin wondered, holding his hand firmly over his heart. He was pretty sure it had never beaten so fast before, even that one time when Jungkook had convinced him that he should go a quick run with him and they’d ended up running a 10k, Kook smiling and chatting as Jin turned redder and redder, gasping for air as he tried to keep up. He was feeling oddly similar now, too hot, heart racing, head spinning. Trying to make sense of it all, what Jimin and Taehyung were saying, why he was here in what he now assumed must be Taehyung’s bedroom. Why the thought of being in Taehyung’s bedroom made his breath catch, his heart stumble.

The voices outside had become murmurs too quiet for Jin to hear, and he took the opportunity to try and figure out what the hell was going on, deciding that remembering the past few hours was probably the best way to start.

He (sadly) remembered the hours and hours he’d sat wallowing in his own misery. He remembered cleaning up and getting dressed in the same pink hoodie and blue jeans he was (thankfully) still wearing. He remembered the taciturn bartender who he was pretty sure now liked him, at least a little. He remembered being bought drink after drink, and then stopping Jimin… cheating? No, it was a friend. Taehyung. He remembered, although through the haze of alcohol, a short conversation, a pain in his arm, a blinding, boxy smile, and then…

Soulmate. He’d met his soulmate. His soulmate had been Taehyung, Jimin’s best friend. His soulmate was Taehyung, and Taehyung, his soulmate, was currently outside the room, feeling guilty for something Seokjin had done.

That was all it took for Jin to be on his feet, unsteady (he was pretty sure he’d only been out maybe an hour or two, and there was still alcohol in his blood, destroying his coordination even now that his brain was clear) and stumbling, but practically shooting out the door, following the sounds of voices, as well as the discomfort that was returning and increasing on his arm. The mark wanted him close to Taehyung.

Jin skidded to a stop when he burst into the living room, causing Jimin and Taehyung to turn matching wide-eyed stares on him. Jin felt his mouth go dry, the frantic energy that had thrown him from the bed and running with socked feet down the hallway immediately quieting. He glanced once at Jimin, but the second he looked at Taehyung in the light for the first time, Jimin may as well have ceased to exist.

Taehyung had dark brown hair, almost black, that was messy and kind of wavy, and hung almost into his eyes. His eyes. His eyes were a glittering obsidian black, and so big and soft and gorgeous that Jin wondered if maybe he was physically falling into them. He remembered noticing Taehyung’s proud nose and strong jaw when he first saw him, but, even though they were even more beautiful in the light, Jin’s eyes were drawn to Taehyung’s lips. Earlier, in the dark, they’d been pulled up into a glorious smile, but now, they were parted in surprise, slightly downturned, incredibly defined, soft-looking, and so, so pink.

The rest of Teahyung was blocked by the back of the couch, but Jin could see his hunched shoulders, dressed in a dark, patterned, silk shirt that looked a bit too big and, even though he didn’t even know him, somehow seemed so Taehyung.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Jin halfheartedly wondered if maybe he was being weird, staring so hard, not blinking, barely breathing, fingers trembling and curling around the sleeves of his hoodie. He quickly dismissed the thought when he looked back to Taehyung’s eyes and saw- felt them raking over his own face and body as if they were trying to drink in every detail. The intensity of Taehyung’s stare made Jin feel like he was somehow seeing through him instead of at him, and it made him shiver.

Jin had no idea how long they stayed frozen, staring at each other, (Jin’s arm burning, maybe Taehyung’s too?) before Jimin cleared his throat. It barely registered, the two not looking away. Jimin did it again, louder.

Jin was the first to blink, wetting his dry lips, gasping in a ragged breath as he turned to meet Jimin’s eyes even though every molecule in his body was screaming at him that they were the wrong shape, wrong shade of brown, that he should immediately look back at Taehyung and not ever look away ever again.

“Well… that was fun…” Jimin looked pointedly between Taehyung, who was blinking like he’d been dunked in a bucket of ice, and Jin, who was trying really hard not to glare at Jimin because it wasn’t Jimin’s fault that he wasn’t Taehyung, but it sure was pissing Jin off. “As much as I enjoy staring contests, I think we should-”

“Jimin, get out.”

Jimin snapped his head to Jin, eyes wide with shock and maybe a little amusement. “What?”

“You heard him, Min. Thanks for your help.” Taehyung didn’t even hesitate, didn’t pause for a second as he surged to his feet, dragging Jimin up and practically herding him to the door. Jimin barely had time to grab his shoes, his face crumpling into a wide, amused smile as he laughed, before Taehyung had opened the door, pushed him out, and shut it firmly in his face, locking it behind him.

Taehyung didn’t move, stayed staring at the door, until Jimin’s breathy laughter faded as the other called a suggestive “Safety first!” through the door and finally left them alone.

When they had sat in silence for somewhere between 30 seconds to a year and a half, Taehyung finally turned around, leaning back heavily against the door, his eyes finding Jin’s instantly. After Jin had actually taken all of Taehyung in (his long, tailored slacks, half-buttoned, tucked in shirt, Gucci belt highlighting his slim waist), he suddenly felt embarrassed.

Here he was, in the house of a stranger, after passing out in their arms, waking up in their bed, and kicking their best friend out of their literal house. “Fuck…” he gasped, feeling his cheeks turning pink, “I didn’t mean to do that, I- it’s your house, I shouldn’t have just- you can kick me out, or better yet, I’ll just leave, catch up, send him back in, I don’t know what I was thinkin-”

“Hyung,” Taehyung’s deep voice- will I ever get used to that?- interrupted Jin’s rant. “If you hadn’t done that I would have. Don’t leave.”

“Okay,” Jin breathed, not caring how easily his mind had been changed. Taehyung wanted him here. Didn’t want Jimin here. Wanted him, though.

“Hi,” Taehyung said, a cheeky smile spreading slowly across his lips. Suddenly, Jin was aware of just how much space was between them; Jin still standing in the entryway to the hall, Taehyung leaning on the door all the way across the room. Unacceptable.

“I-” Jin hesitated, wondering if he was about to make a fool of himself. Then he studied Taehyung’s face, the darkness of his eyes, the tongue that darted out to wet his lips, the tension in his shoulders as he kept is hands pinned between the door and his back. He suddenly remembered who he was, his mind sparing him a thought that wasn’t Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung.

He was Kim Seokjin, and Kim Seokjin was stunning, and beautiful, and irresistible (even when he had no makeup and was dressed like a bum, as at least six strangers at the bar could attest to), and most importantly, he was Taehyung’s soulmate, and Taehyung was his. There was no making a fool of himself, not right now.

“Do you really want to talk right now?” He asked instead, straightening his spine, lifting his chin, and meeting Taehyung’s stunned gaze. Even with his newfound confidence, he worried when Taehyung didn’t respond immediately.

Then, Taehyung stood, practically pushing himself up off the door, and suddenly, the distance didn’t feel quite so imposing because Taehyung only needed five strides and he was in front of Jin; too close for a stranger, not nearly close enough for a Taehyung.

Jin frowned in frustration when Taehyung didn’t move, didn’t touch him, and the burning on his arm was making him impatient. With a determined pout, Jin stepped closer, standing chest to chest with the other man, grabbed Taehyung’s hands, and planted them firmly on his own waist before looking up to meet Taehyung’s eyes with a purposeful glare.

His glare faded when Taehyung suddenly laughed, the sound (despite being maybe the most beautiful thing Jin had ever heard) making him pout. Then, just as quickly, his pout faded as Taehyung’s long fingers squeezed around him and pulled him tight against the other’s body, making him gasp, and then Taehyung’s lips were on his, and Jin was somehow able to wrap his arms up and dig his own fingers into Taehyung’s shoulders before his knees gave out and they both stumbled until Jin was supported against the wall.

Jin couldn’t even spare a thought to how long it had taken to get here, how he’d been the last of his friends, how he’d been left to wallow. All he was possibly able to think about, maybe for the rest of his life, was how Taehyung’s lips moved against his, how Taehyung’s hands were pressing him closer, how Taehyung’s body molded into his. He knew right then that his mind was gone, entirely and unequivocally consumed by Taehyung.

Taehyung made a small, low noise in the throat as he licked into Jin’s mouth, and Jin couldn’t help his responding whine. Jin was a chef, loved few things more than good food, but the taste of Taehyung in his mouth maybe ruined all food for him forever, because it was impossible for anything to be better than this.

“Tae-” it was hard to formulate words when his lips just wanted to keep kissing Taehyung and letting Taehyung kiss them back. But this was important. “Taehyung… bed…” Success.

Taehyung might have muttered something back but Jin’s lips were back on his and, in all honesty, he didn’t care about the response as long as Taehyung was kissing him like this, teeth grazing his lips as he began to tug Jin towards the room Jin had woken up in.

As much as Jin liked the room and wanted to, eventually, know more about the eclectic mix of stuff everywhere, know more (everything) about Taehyung, right now he only wanted one thing and that was to have Taehyung as close as possible.

Their lips separated for the first time when Taehyung nudged Jin back and Jin let himself fall back onto the mattress, scooting back to center himself on the bed, admiring Taehyung with hooded eyes.

Taehyung seemed to have the same idea now that they were separated, and he didn't join Jin, standing instead by the edge of the bed, breath coming heavy, as he looked down at Jin. Jin let him look for a little because Jin was also caught up in how breathtaking Taehyung was, allowed it because Taehyung’s eyes should always be on him. But not for too long, because Taehyung’s hands should also always be on him, so should his lips, and his legs, and all of him, but right now, they were all far away and not on him.

“Tae” he whined, squirming, reaching out towards the other. Taehyung smiled down at him and gave him one last look before climbing onto the bed, his body pressing against Jin’s, their lips meeting again. Better, Jin thought, or rather, felt, because his brain wasn’t capable of making thoughts now, not when Taehyung’s body was on his like this, his weight pushing him into the mattress, his hands wandering in a way they couldn’t when they’d been out in the hall and he’d been holding Jin up.

Jin didn’t try to hold in the needy sounds that were escaping his mouth as Taehyung’s lips left his and moved to his jaw. Jin’s head rolled to the side, baring his neck to Taehyung, begging silently to be marked up, to be kissed and licked and bitten until he was wet and red and Taehyung’s.

And Taehyung seemed to know, did exactly what he needed. His lips were firm against the delicate skin of Jin’s neck, his tongue lapping eagerly, his teeth grazing here, nipping there. And meanwhile, Jin was pulling Tae’s shirt up from where it was tucked, unbuttoning it completely, sliding his hands over the soft, warm, golden skin. Taehyung wasn’t as muscular and defined as Jungkook the Muscle Bunny, or even Jimin the Dance God, but Jin could feel the hardness of muscle, feel the dips and curves of them as they tensed and shivered under his touch.

Touching Taehyung was addictive, and it didn’t help that Taehyung was biting and sucking at his neck, holding himself up with his elbows. It certainly didn’t help when Taehyung rolled his hips down, meeting Jin’s.

“Fuck,” Jin gasped, his hands instinctively wrapping around Taehyung’s back, fingers digging into soft skin and hard muscle. “Tae, again, fuck.”

He felt Taehyung’s smirk against his neck not even half a second before he felt Tae’s hips against his a second time. This time, he rolled up to meet them. He’d not even noticed his own erection until now, but when he felt Taehyung’s hard length against his, a wave of desperation washed over him.

“Taehyung,” he panted, pushing him away forcefully. Tae landed beside him on his back, a look of confusion and worry clouding his features.

“Hyung, I’m sorry, I-” His words were cut off by Jin’s lips, aggressive and relentless on his own as Jin swung over, his legs straddling Taehyung’s hips, his crotch pressing down against Tae’s.

“No,” Jin muttered against Tae’s lips, “Just a sec.” He sat up, wondered if Tae felt the same pressure- a mixture of pain and desire- when they weren’t immediately touching. But he would endure it, just for a little, so he could get what he needed. What Taehyung needed too, if the look in his eyes was any indication.

Jin made fast work of peeling off his pink sweatshirt, tossing it aside recklessly, and doing the same with Taehyung’s shirt. The pants were a little harder, required him standing for a second and then pulling Tae’s off when he’d finished his own. His briefs came off while he was crawling back on top of Taehyung, relishing in the sight of every inch of exposed skin, tight muscle.

His eyes lingered hungrily on the outline of Taehyung’s cock straining against his boxers, making him forget about his own erection, hanging heavy between his legs. Taehyung didn’t seem to forget though, as his wide eyes looked over all of Jin, glazing with lust.

“Hyung, if I don’t fuck you tonight, I might die.” Taehyung’s words would have sounded dramatic any other time, maybe even juvenile, but his deep voice was serious, and Jin was nodding frantically because fuck if he didn’t feel the exact same way.

Jin tucked his fingers in the waistband of Taehyung’s boxers, pulling them down quickly and letting Taehyung kick them off the rest of the way. He crawled forward again, needing to feel Taehyung’s lips again. Taehyung surged up the second he was close enough, kissing him desperately enough that Jin felt dizzy. And then he felt Taehyung lift his hips, felt their hard, aching cocks brush together, and the moan that left his moth was lewd and obscene and would have been embarrassing if this didn’t feel so good, so right, and if Taehyung hadn’t repeated the action again and then again.

Jin could barely hold himself up, could barely focus on kissing Taehyung, even though it felt like the easiest thing in the world to him. Even breathing somehow seemed like a chore right now. All his focus was on Taehyung’s cock moving against his, the dry skin creating a delicious friction, each brush somehow too much and not enough.

Not enough. Jin needed more, needed Taehyung closer, inside him, preferably forever. He tried to make as much obvious, but his begs came out as moans and whines instead. Regardless, it worked. Taehyung flipped them so easily, one arm wrapped around the small of Jin’s back, and Jin was suddenly looking up at him and Taehyung was pulling away, reaching for something.

Thank God, Jin thought, when he saw Taehyung pull lube and a roll of condoms out of a drawer. Tae was back in a heartbeat, kissing him fiercely again, but was pulling away suddenly.

“Hyung… Jin, are you sure? Just because we’re soulmates doesn’t mean you have to-”

“Kim Taehyung, if you don’t get inside me in the next thirty seconds I will kill you, do you understand me?” Jin’s voice was too breathy, but the threat was there, and Jin was very serious about it right now. Taehyung’s responding smile and the chaste kiss he placed on Jin’s lips placated him slightly, though.

What placated him more was Taehyung sitting back on his haunches, snapping open the lube and pouring it on his fingers. Then Taehyung was touching him- really touching him, and Jin thought that any physical experience he’d ever had was completely worthless, that he’d never known any kind of pleasure until now.

He was quickly realizing that Taehyung was ruining him for everything from here on out. But he wasn’t upset at all. Couldn’t be, not when Taehyung’s feather-light touch was ghosting down the underside of his cock, tip to base, skimming the delicate skin of his balls, and then circling oh-so-slowly over his rim.

Jin didn’t even realize he was arching into it until Tae pressed his other hand firmly on Jin’s hips, holding him down. And then he couldn’t even feel that, because Taehyung was pushing one long finger inside him, and when Jin begged, another finger followed closely.

Jin wanted to beg for more, definitely tried to, but his words came out like moans, and the only thing that could be understood was maybe “Tae”, but even that was iffy. But Jin couldn’t be blamed, not when Taehyung was working his fingers in and out of him so smoothly, scissoring them open, curling them against his walls. And Jin surely couldn’t be blamed when Taehyung’s fingers found his prostate, didn’t lose it again as they kept pressing into him, and all Jin could do was moan and cry and choke on Taehyung’s name.

Pure desperation helped his tongue regain just a little control, enough for him to add another word to his current vocabulary of one. “Taehyung, more,” he panted, looking down at Taehyung, who’d been quiet since he started fingering him open, watching him, studying him, admiring him the way one would a piece of art.

Jin knew, objectively, that he was attractive. Had been told so countless times by family, friends, complete and utter strangers. Even believed it sometimes. Had gotten real good at perfecting a shameless confidence that drew people in at the same time that it kept people out.

This- here, right now-, however, was the first time in who knows how long (if not ever) that Jin had actually felt… beautiful? That wasn’t even enough to explain the way he felt when Taehyung looked at him the way he was doing now while he fucked Jin with his fingers, breaking him down, unraveling him. Jin felt like a muse of old, some holy and divine entity whose purpose was to inspire and provoke, someone stunning and unbelievable that made painters want to grab their easels and poets want to grab their pens.

When Taehyung looked at him like that, Jin could feel the entire depth of human emotion welling inside him, he felt so light and full and loved, and he’d never felt anything like it before. It occurred to him, as Taehyung slipped another finger in, making him arch and sob, that Taehyung had no right making him feel this much when they’d met only a few hours before.

But then Taehyung stopped holding his hips down, his free hand moving down to stroke his own cock as he looked Jin up and down, groaning lowly when his eyes met Jin’s. Jin couldn’t help but moan at the sight, Taehyung looking down at him, one hand on his cock, the other inside Jin. It was so beautiful. So, so, so fucking beautiful. And Jin needed it to stop immediately.

“Please, holy fuck, Taehyung, fuck me, God, now, Tae, please,” his words came out in one long stream, barely comprehensible, but getting the point across.

When Taehyung removed his fingers, Jin wasn’t sure how he kept himself from literally rioting, but his whole body felt like it was evaporating, like the tension and energy were spiraling undone and he didn’t have enough strength to keep it in. His head was spinning, he could barely focus his eyes on Taehyung as the younger ripped open a condom, rolling it on deftly.

He was maybe out of it, but he thought he heard Taehyung’s deep voice murmur “How the fuck did I get this lucky?” and if he’d been able to do anything other than wait not so patiently for Taehyung to be inside him, he would have smacked (or maybe kissed) the younger and told him that luck had nothing to do with this, and if it did, Jin would be the lucky one to have met his soulmate after so long and it turning out to be the most strikingly handsome, beautiful, magnetic, intriguing, not to mention excessively erotic man in the history of mankind.

As it was, Jin could do nothing more than whine pitifully and grind his hips down on nothing in hopes that he would magically be filled. “Tae.” He wanted to be patient (no, that’s not really true), but there was practically no contact between them right now while Taehyung poured lube on his cock and Jin felt like he might cry.

“Shh, I know, love, I’m here,” The words that slipped out of Taehyung’s swollen lips were mindless and reassuring, but Jin only eased when Taehyung finally came down over him again, one arm by his head, the other between them as Tae guided himself to Jin’s entrance. Jin finally felt calm when Taehyung’s body was weighing down against him, Tae’s head in the crook of his shoulder, lips pressing softly to his chest.

And when Taehyung finally pushed in, slow and controlled and so careful and caring, Jin thought, not for the first time that night, I’m gonna pass out.

“Fuck, Jin… so tight, shit,” Taehyung seemed just as overwhelmed as he bottomed out, his body trembling against Jin’s, breath coming quickly and rapidly against his skin.

Jin couldn’t help but wrap his arms around Taehyung, holding him impossibly closer as he adjusted to the younger’s impressive, albeit fucking painful, size, tears welling in his eyes. “Feels good, Taehyungie, so good, so, so good, move, baby, please.”

The groan that left Taehyung was nearly animalistic, as if he was devolving into some primitive creature acting on base instinct and need alone. Jin felt exactly the fucking same right now, so far removed from the normal Kim Seokjin, who was always perfect, always in control. He didn’t care about control right now. Didn’t care about perfect, was pretty sure he’d never have to worry about perfect ever again, because this was perfect here, and Jin was not planning on ever letting go of Kim Taehyung, not ever risking losing him or this. Perfect, he was sure, was here to stay.

And the half-thought was quickly imprinted into his brain, his being, the very essence of his soul with every thrust of Taehyung’s hips, every squeeze of his hand on his waist, brush of his lips on his face.

Jin didn’t even realize when his tears changed from tears of physical pleasure to tears of so much fucking emotion at once that Jin thought he might drown. Taehyung was placing the most beautiful, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses all over his face, murmuring praises and uttering his disbelief, and fucking into him with unreal precision, hitting Jin’s prostate every time until Jin knew he couldn’t take it anymore, and Jin was fucking sobbing, gasps of pleasure interrupting his shuddering breaths, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Tae,” he managed to choke out, his voice sounding weak and raw and breathy, “'m gonna come, Tae, baby, mngh.”

And Taehyung was kissing his tears, holding him close, not missing a single beat as he snapped his hips over and over, the lewd noises of skin slapping and lube squelching nearly covering the sounds of Jin’s keening moans, which were reaching a fever pitch as he drew closer and closer.

“Jin, Hyung, it’s okay, love, I’ve got you, I’m here, love, right here.”

And Jin was coming like he’d never come before (which he wondered now if he ever had, because nothing had ever felt even close to this), head thrown back, full lips parted in a silent wail. His fingers dug so hard into Taehyung that the other bit back a hiss, kissing instead along Jin’s neck, behind his ear as he kept up his pace.

Jin felt every muscle melt, his vision going white, his mind blank. The only thing he was (barely) aware of was Taehyung’s raspy breath, his sweat-soaked skin, his faltering rhythm as he chased his own release.

“Taehyung,” Jin breathed, eyes closed, mind sinking slowly into static, “need you, Tae.”

And then Taehyung was coming too, a low and broken cry sounding from his throat as he pumped through it, body giving out slowly. He somehow managed to pull out slowly, much to Jin’s immediate dissatisfaction, and if Jin hadn’t already been crying, he would have started the second Taehyung’s perfect, warm body left his.

Taehyung was back quickly, and Jin knew he couldn’t be resentful when the younger was wiping him down with a warm, damp towel, cleaning him so gently even when Jin could feel the exhausted trembling of his limbs. A greedy part of Jin didn’t even want to be cleaned up, wanted to stay dirty and covered in the proof of what had happened, what Taehyung had given him. But he’d have plenty of chances to do that, he told himself, plenty of time to be utterly and completely Taehyung’s.

So he let Taehyung clean him, melting into his touch, his cries coming softer now, his sobs not wracking through his body. And he let Taehyung guide his body slowly, pulling the blanket out from under him, shifting him until his head was on a pillow.

Then Taehyung was climbing beside him, and Jin found enough energy inside to turn and wrap himself around the younger as completely as he could while Taehyung gently pulled the sheets and blanket up over them, encasing them in a silky cocoon.

Jin rested his face against Taehyung’s chest- a much better pillow than the one he’d woken up with- and Taehyung stroked his back softly as his crying slowed, until he was barely shaking, the tears silent and passive as they fell to Taehyung’s chest. And he was glad Taehyung didn’t ask why he was crying, because even if he’d had the energy or brain space to talk about it, he really had no clue how to make sense of the tidal wave of emotions he felt.

“Jin,” Taehyung’s voice (his low, low voice that Jin now knew he would not only never get used to, but also never tire of) was quiet, barely a whisper. Jin could only hum in response, wet eyelashes fluttering against Taehyung’s skin. “I… know we just met, and I don’t even know you, and being soulmates doesn’t mean you owe me anything, and you don’t have to even respond, but I just-”

“I love you,” Jin breathed, his slow, hazy brain finally labeling his emotions, understanding them as best it could. He felt Tae freeze, felt his heart beating erratically under his cheek.

“I…”

“'love you a lot,” Jin pressed a soft kiss above Taehyung’s heart. “Dunno why, but I do.”

Taehyung was silent, but Jin didn’t worry. His mind was too gone, his body too heavy, and even if they weren’t, he could hear Taehyung’s heart in his chest, feel Taehyung’s response in the pulsing color of his mark, finally not burning in his arm.

He realized all his so-called fever dreams of outlandish landscapes and wild animals and vivid colors had never been that, but rather insights into the beautiful and unimaginable mind of Tae, who’s passion and wonder were so evident in everything he was, everything he did, everything he had.

Maybe he didn’t know Taehyung in the way he knew his friends or coworkers or family, maybe he didn’t know his history or his favorite ice cream flavor. He had time to figure all of that out. Right now, though, he knew Tae’s heart, and he knew Tae’s soul, and right now (and forever, probably), that was enough.

“Jinnie,” Tae said softly, pressing his lips to Jin’s head, his voice sounding watery and weak. “Hyung I do too. I love you, too.”

Jin smiled softly. There was time for everything else later. Right now, Taehyung loved him, and that was enough.