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Seokjin woke up in a new apartment full of dusty silence and unpacked boxes and rolled over to go back to sleep.

He had no real plans for the day. Plans, that is, that required him to put on pants and leave the house. There was nothing pushing him out into the world, and so nothing to drag him out of bed. (His manuscript objected, of course).

It was 1 pm when he ate breakfast while reading the first few pages of an old paperback. Though he wanted to enjoy it, the longer he sat there, the more oppressive the boxes around him became, and he was about ready to knock them all over when he heard something. A meow.

That couldn’t be right.

But no, there it was again. He turned to the window and tentatively peeked out. Seoul bustled below him, and in front of him was a calico cat standing on the fire escape and looking into the apartment with the confidence only a feline possessed. 

He blinked, taking a step back and wondering who the cat belonged to. Wasn’t it a bit dangerous for an animal to be out on there? Another meow and he found himself bending over to stare into intelligent green eyes. He tutted, put his hand on his hip for a moment before opening the window. The cat laid down on the sill, unconcerned, and he leaned out to see if he could determine her origin.

Aha. The window of the apartment next to his was open. Seokjin found himself a bit disappointed that she hadn’t appeared magically - his familiar coming to find him at last. She was just the result of someone who seemed to have no care for either their pet or the security of their apartment. He imagined the inhabitant – maybe a thoughtless older person? A college kid who’d been late for class?

He petted the cat for a while, discovered that she was sweet and unassuming, and left his window open so that she could continue lounging in the sun. This was enough of a reason to unpack his plants and put them next to her, and he smiled as her lazy eyes blinked up at him in contentment. 

She left after a while, though, and he didn’t think much of it as he ate dinner alone, listening to the sound of sirens and traffic in the street below.

 

The next day, the cat showed up again. And the day after that, and the day after that. It was lucky he worked from home – someone should be paying attention to her, after all.

When he sat with her, she would nuzzle against him, climb all over his lap and crush him with her paws, making his laugh ring out into the empty apartment. 

 

After two days, he named her Tang. All his animal friends were given food related names, and this one suited her. It was a formal name, because she was a regal lady. And like a good soup, she warmed his heart.

He was very fond of this cat, he decided. She was a little bit of magic in his life, and it was easy to forget she did belong somewhere.

 

The day he met Tang’s owner was a memorable one, and not only because he’d been so curious. It’s not every day, after all, that you meet someone who gives you real pause. 

That was Park Jimin; a man with the softest of voices and smiles and a laugh like bells.

They met on a Saturday.

By then, Seokjin expected Tang to be there when he woke up, and by then he had gotten to the point where he crawled out on the fire escape to sit with her and pet her while he read or did work.

It was like that that he was found, a sort of gangly twenty-six-year-old with his limbs arranged so he could fit with a feline on a rusty metal balcony. A balcony he was likely not supposed to be on.

At first, he heard the melodic voice calling out through the open window a few feet away. “Curry,” it called. “Where have you gone to?”

 Seokjin froze as the voice came closer and became a criminal caught in the act when a blond head ducked through the window.

“Oh,” said Jimin, surprised, lips falling apart before twitching up into a polite if a little bemused smile. “Hello. I see Curry has met a friend.” Seokjin watched, entranced, as the smile widened and revealed a charmingly crooked front tooth.

He ducked his head, petting Tang – or Curry, he supposed her name was - once more as he gathered himself. “Hi,” he said after a second, smiling back and letting out a self-deprecating laugh. “I’m sure this looks very bizarre.”

“Only slightly,” said Jimin, resting his elbows on the window sill. “I mean, the fire escape is fair game, I suppose. If my cat can go out here, why not you? You’re my next-door neighbor, then?” He tilted his head towards the plant-lined window through which one of Seokjin’s feet dangled.

“That’s me. I’m Kim Seokjin, pleasure to meet you.”

“Park Jimin, and likewise. Do you usually come out here, Seokjin-ssi? I can’t say it ever crossed my mind to do so. You must be very inventive.” Curry got up and wandered back towards her owner, letting him run a hand over her head as she paced in front of him. Jimin’s mouth had a teasing lilt to it.

“It’s not my usual occupation, I promise. I even just moved in on Sunday. It’s your cat that lured me out here when she came meowing at my window.”

“Oh my,” Jimin laughed. “I’m so sorry. I finally let her go out here last Monday because she stares through the window every day. I didn’t even think about her causing a scene like that.”

“No worries, Jimin-ssi. I’ve been happy to have a friend this week. I work from home, so she’s been wonderful company.”

“How sweet.” Jimin smiled at him once more, his eyes now forming gleeful crescents that made Seokjin’s heart melt just a bit. “What do you do for work, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Not at all. I write novels, and do some other odd jobs on the side. You know how rent in Seoul is.” 

“I do,” said Jimin, wincing. “That’s very cool that you write, though. You should lend me one of your books. Maybe it would encourage me to actually sit down and relax for once instead of just working.”

Seokjin nodded. People would always ask for his books, never really meaning it, so it was safest to just agree. He frowned, though, at his neighbor’s admission of being a workaholic. “I think our sleepy friend Curry would probably want her dad to relax every once in a while.”

Jimin giggled, petting Curry’s tail lightly and watching as she jumped back through the window. “You’re right, Seokjin-ssi. Well,” he said, standing up straight and narrowly avoiding knocking his head into the window. “Thank you for this. Um, I’m glad we met.” 

And then, with one last enchanting smile he retreated back inside, leaving Seokjin to ponder the likelihood of having both an adorable new cat friend and an absurdly handsome neighbor.

 ☙

After that, Saturdays on the fire escape somehow became tradition. Almost without fail, Jimin would stick his head out the window, even just to say hello briefly.

Along the way, Seokjin found out that Jimin was an actuary and extremely overworked. And he was only twenty-three, too. The way Jimin talked about it, he was the type of guy who would give 110% to any job, who had spent college in the pursuit of gainful employment. In short, he was a little overzealous, but still sweet. The kind of person that you wanted to remind to take it easy, take time to be happy.

 

As spring faded away and the days got hotter, Jimin would often bring Seokjin a refreshingly cool glass of misugaru and sit with him while he drank it.

“Why do you always have this stuff at the ready? I’ve never met anyone else who had such a constant supply,” Seokjin wondered one humid Saturday in June, shaking his head fondly at the boy across from him.

Jimin hugged his legs closer to his chest. “I’m about to sound like a douche, but it’s because I work out a lot. I have it around for protein.”

“Oh?” Seokjin grinned. “We should go to the gym some time, then. My usual buddy lives all the way across the city now. Plus, he’s still in college, so. Busy, you know.” He shrugged.

Jimin was smiling at him, now, but it resembled a smirk more closely. “I would love that, hyung. The only thing is – do you dance?”

Seokjin spluttered. “I mean – at parties, sure? Why do you ask that?”

“Well, when I say I work out, I mean that I dance.” He laughed at the blank look on Seokjin’s face. “At a dance studio, you know. But you’re very welcome to come, still. I would love to dance with you.”

“That would be… interesting,” Seokjin said, but he looked down at his knees as he felt his ears turn red. Curse them. And curse the melodic laugh that burst out of Jimin next.

“Now I’m going to hold you to coming with me one day. Don’t think you can escape, I know you’re free most Saturday nights.”

“Are you calling me a loser, Jimin-ah?”

“Not a loser. Just conveniently available to come out with your neighbor.”

“Okay, neighbor,” said Seokjin, rolling his eyes. “So you’re a dancer, then? You know, I always thought you had the idol look to you.”

Jimin scoffed. “You mean cause I have blond hair.”

“I mean that I can picture you doing some aegyo on a variety show,” he joked. “But I am serious - there’s something about you. I’m sure you could captivate an audience.”

Jimin rarely blushed, not like Seokjin did, but he did have a pleased smile on his face. “I’ve been on dance teams for pretty much my whole life. And I won’t pretend I never dreamed of being an idol. But some things are just dreams, I suppose.” 

Seokjin blinked at that, at the way it landed heavy in his chest, but then Jimin spoke again. “Anyways, hyung, I’d need you to teach me that natural aegyo you’ve got going on there.”

He waved a hand at Seokjin and Seokjin pouted dramatically, making him laugh and pull a finger heart out of his pocket in response. 

When Seokjin sat down to write that day, he felt more than usual that he was grateful to Curry for introducing them, in her way.

 ☙

The Friday after that, he ran into Jimin on the street outside the apartment just as he was leaving to get groceries. It was only five, so it was a bit of a surprise – he knew by now that if Jimin left work by six it was a miracle. 

Here he was though, looking more sharp than soft. Seokjin had never noticed before now the way Jimin walked, the confidence in his motions. 

His black dress pants were tighter than the average, and a pair of large black sunglasses rested low on the bridge of his nose.

When he saw Seokjin, his eyebrows rose up as he smiled, and his whole demeanor changed. “Seokjin-hyung,” he said, “We meet in the outside world at last.”

“At long last. You look different in a non-fire escape setting.” 

“Still good, I hope?” said Jimin, tilting his head. He was a few inches shorter than Seokjin, but he must have been wearing some insoles – or maybe it was his posture that made him seem tall, gave such large energy.

“Of course. Just more… actuarial. Speaking of which, what brings you out of the corporate world so early?”

“Well, actually, I was just promoted.” Jimin smiled, then, a little sheepish and a little proud. “My boss told me I should go home on time and stop trying to impress him by working late.”

Seokjin gasped. “That’s amazing, Jimin. Your hard work paid off, then. Any plans to celebrate?”

“Thanks, hyung. But no plans tonight, just a bottle of wine waiting for me. What about you, though?”

“Me? I’m only going to the grocery store. Samgyeopsal was calling my name, you know?”

“Oh, I know. You’re really going to make it yourself, though? A man who can cook, sheesh, hyung is such a catch.”

Seokjin raised a brow, read the glimmer in Jimin’s eye for what he thought it was. “Do you like samgyeopsal, Jimin?” He nodded enthusiastically, and Seokjin smiled. “Then why don’t you come over at seven, and we can enjoy together?”

“I would love that.”

 

Two hours later and Seokjin was just throwing the pork belly onto the frying pan when Jimin knocked on his door. He had changed into more casual clothes now, black ripped jeans and a red short sleeve button up.

“It smells delicious in here,” said Jimin, toeing off his loafers and standing at the door. For some reason, the sight of him there arrested Seokjin for a moment. 

Maybe it was because Jimin was the first company he’d had in his apartment. Now that finals were over, Jeongguk promised he would come over for a housewarming instead of leaving Seokjin to travel for nearly forty-five minutes to visit him in his dingy shared apartment. 

Regardless, Jimin was his first house guest, and he looked kind of poetically perfect in the orange light that filtered in from the west-facing window. “Here,” said Seokjin, nudging a pair of slippers Jimin’s way. “You can borrow these.”

Jimin followed him into the kitchen after, though not without glancing around curiously at the walls lined with books and the cozy, plushy-filled living room.

 “I’ve got the ingredients for ssam , so I hope you like that,” said Seokjin, pushing the meat around for a minute before transferring the rice, perilla leaves, and ssamjang to the small dining table.

“I love ssam. Even better when someone feeds them to me.” Jimin grinned at him, leaning a hip against the kitchen counter. Seokjin just breathed out a laugh.

“That can be arranged. You think you’re my first bratty dongsaeng, Park Jimin?”

Jimin gasped in mock outrage. “ Bratty? Why I’ve never –“ he paused for a moment. “Well, I can’t say never, I suppose.”

“I’m just messing with you, Jimin-ah. You’re far sweeter than my other dongsaeng. He’s a menace to me.”

“It’s because you’re too lenient, hyung. Or just too sweet.”

Seokjin shook his head. “Maybe you’re right, but there’s nothing I can do to stop him now. In fact, I kind of miss his antics. He’s five years younger, and he’s been trailing after me since he was five, even.”

“That’s cute. My best friend is the same age, so I’ve never had a close relationship where the age dynamic came into play like that. No one to call me hyung or baby me.”

“Poor Jiminie. You’ve really never even dated anyone who wasn’t the same age?”

He hummed. “There was somebody on dance team at SNU, and we’re good friends, now. But they were only a year older and not really the doting type, you know?”

“Yeah, I get it. That role always falls to me, despite me being the younger sibling. I just like to make people happy, I guess.”

“I understand that, hyung. Too much, sometimes” They met eyes for a prolonged second, shared a secret smile, then each looked away as Seokjin brought a plate of meat to the table.

“Okay, Jimin-ah. Dig in, get yourself some protein. We’ve got to bulk you up.” He tapped his bicep in demonstration and Jimin rolled his eyes.

“I knew telling you about the protein shakes would be a mistake.”

“Should’ve known better. I mean, really, who would give up the opportunity to roast their friend about that?” 

He watched as one side of Jimin’s mouth quirked up at the declaration of friendship, and Seokjin rushed ahead to fill the air with new words. “So, you never said, what kind of dance is it that you do?”

“Oh yeah,” said Jimin, spooning some meat and rice into his wrap as he spoke. “Well I used to study ballet and contemporary dance for a while, but nowadays I like to do more some hip hop stuff, as well. Sometimes I do covers.”

“Ooh, how cool. I’ll be taking you up on your offer to come with to the studio, then. Just to watch,” he added, holding up a hand at the eager expression on Jimin’s face.

“Yeah, yeah. All I need to do is get you there, then we’ll see what happens.”

 

Conversation carried on like this, and at one point Jimin insisted that the wraps Seokjin made were better. “Feed it to me, hyung,” he said, leaning forward in his seat and opening his mouth. There was that glint in his eyes again, the one that told Seokjin this sweet boy may be quite the handful.

“As you wish,” he said, picking up a nice and hearty one with his chopsticks and bringing it to the awaiting mouth. Jimin had beautiful lips, he couldn’t help but notice. Plump, like his own, but shaped differently. He had the sudden urge to compare them side by side, and quelled it quickly, turning back to his own plate and clearing his throat.

 

After dinner, Jimin wandered over to the bookshelf, bending over to scan the titles and turning to grin at Seokjin when he found a book written by him.

“Here you are,” he said, pulling it out and looking at the cover design, flipping through the pages and landing on the ‘about the author’ segment on the back flap of the dust cover. “That’s a good picture of you. ‘ Kim Seokjin studied film and creative writing at Konkuk University,’” he read. “‘He worked as a barista and and starred in a chicken commercial before publishing his first novel. Aside from writing, the thing he loves most is eating.’ Cute.”

“Ugh,” Seokjin groaned. “You just gave me a full body cringe.”

“Why? This looks great. I hope you don’t mind if I steal it for a bit?”

“Go ahead,” said Seokjin, flapping a hand. “I hope you like magic.”

“I’m open to anything, hyung. But more importantly, where can I find this chicken commercial?”

“Buried in a tomb, guarded by eight high priests trained specifically for the task. And they’ll curse you if you come too close. Haven’t you seen ‘The Mummy’, Jimin-ah? You’ve got to be careful about curses.”

Jimin scoffed. “You can try to stop me. But that’s all you can do. Try.”

“Scary,” said Seokjin, throwing himself onto the couch as Jimin continued to peruse the shelves.

“How many other books have you published?” he asked, coming to sit next to Seokjin after a minute.

“Three total, including the one you’re holding. That one also sold the most and is the most recent, so now I live in the slump of trying to live up to that.”

“Ahh,” said Jimin, nodding sagely. “I believe in you, hyung. You’re talented and a hard worker.”

“You don’t know that. I could be a lazy schmuck who can’t write a sentence. Maybe Curry’s been my ghostwriter all along.”

Jimin laughed, shook his head. “I guess that could be the case. She is always coming over here.” He paused for a moment. “I know she doesn’t really need me. But I still feel bad that I’m always away. So, I know I’ve already said it, but thank you for humoring her.”

“You really don’t have to thank me. Just one thing, and forgive me for being forward, but I think if you came home more often at the same time you did today, she would be happy. And maybe you would be, too. It’s great if you love your job, but I’ve always thought we need time to breathe and live outside of making money.”

“No, you can definitely say that, hyung. I agree, although I’m terrible at reminding myself to unwind. You – well, thank you again, I guess, for wanting to help me.” He curled up against a pillow, and Seokjin suddenly felt unbearably fond. “That’s why I dance, you know. Just cause I love to.”

 

It was like this that they became friends. Seokjin knew that he was too introverted sometimes, had even accepted that now he was twenty-six he probably wouldn’t be making friends in the same way he did in college. Yoongi and Jeongguk were all he needed, really. But Yoongi was away in LA working for a record label, and Jeongguk was often too busy with school. 

Now here was Jimin. His new friend – it made him a little giddy to say that.

And maybe, just maybe, he had the smallest crush on him. A friend crush, he preferred to say, the kind you get when you meet someone new and they’re just so cool and you click without even trying. He knew that the friend crush was there, and he was content to just let it live its life while he did the same.

 

The problem got worse, though, when he ended up joining Jimin one Saturday at the gym. He had wanted for a while to see Jimin doing what he loved, and when Jimin showed up at the window one day with water bottle and backpack in hand, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite himself along. Jimin agreed with a wide smile.

“What should I wear, though?” Seokjin asked, faltering as he handed Curry to Jimin.

“You can wear anything. I usually wear jeans, but I wouldn’t recommend that.”

“Yeah, that doesn’t seem right for anyone but you. I’ll just wear some sweatpants, then.”

“Sounds good. Knock on my door whenever you’re ready.”

As Seokjin threw on a baggy white shirt and red sweatpants, a thrill of anticipation ran through him at the idea of going out to somewhere new with Jimin. And the idea of working out together. He and Jeongguk had such a specific dynamic that carried over to their gym dates, and he’d be curious to see what that looked like with Jimin.

He knocked on the door a minute later, and jolted when Jimin threw it open with gusto. “Hyung, you’re quick. Do you have a bottle of water to bring with you?”

“Um, yeah, it’s in my bag.”

“Good. You’ll need that when I’m done with you.” Jimin pushed a hand back through his bangs as he said this, making Seokjin feel like he did long ago when he met his crush from the soccer team by the lockers. He thought for a moment that all life was was just the constant recycling of feelings.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re sort of terrifying, Jimin-ah?”

He laughed. “Not many people, surprisingly. I think the face distracts them from it.”

“Makes sense,” Seokjin agreed. “No one thinks that a little cutie like yourself would be able to destroy a man. But I know better.” He remembered being pinned down once or twice by guys Jimin’s size, so he really did know better. 

When he looked up, Jimin was examining him like he knew just what he was thinking of, bringing a blush to his ears. “Okay, let’s go,” he said, turning and speed-walking down the hall with Jimin at his heels.

 

When they arrived, Jimin showed him to a private room he’d rented for two hours, a studio with mirrors covering all the walls. He then promptly threw his bag on the floor and folded himself in half.

“Jesus,” Seokjin exclaimed. “Give some warning before you start your contortions.”

Jimin snorted from where his rested between his knees. “You try, hyung.”

Seokjin folded himself almost in half, giving up after a few seconds. “I’m more flexible on my bottom half,” he said. “See, watch.” Then he propped his foot up on of the higher bars that lined the walls. Jimin made an appreciative noise.

“Impressive. You could be a promising student for the Park Jimin School of Dance. Now let’s stretch for a bit longer and we can get right to it.”

 

And so they did. Jimin put on a song. Something by Drake, he thought. It was slower than Seokjin expected. 

He watched as Jimin ran through the choreography once, though he found himself a bit distracted by the lyrics. “Jimin,” he said, once he’d slowed down. “Is this song about fucking?”

Jimin laughed, loud and surprised. “There’s just the one line,” he said, holding up his hands. “Now, c’mere, let me teach you.”

 

He slowly demonstrated each move with Seokjin following along, even moving to guide his limbs when he needed. Seokjin had to force himself not to melt into a puddle at the touch, or even at the sight of Jimin moving the way he did.

When Jimin played the song again, they dissolved into laughter more than a few times as Seokjin improvised his own moves where he forgot the others, his goofiness distracting Jimin.

By the end, Seokjin thought he could do a passable job. But at what cost, he wondered, sliding down the wall to collapse into fetal position.

“I’m covered in sweat, Jimin. I don’t like it at all.” Jimin came to sit next to him as he pulled himself up to slump against the wall.

“Isn’t that the point of a great workout?” he asked, folding himself once more into a stretch.

“Maybe. Let me wallow in misery anyways.” He took a few sips of water until his throat felt less parched and then looked over at Jimin, taking his fill as the younger man kept stretching, unconcerned with the eyes on him. “I’m about to make an obvious statement, but you’re really, really good. I think… the way you move is really mesmerizing.”

“Thanks, hyung,” he said, voice quieter than usual as he nudged Seokjin’s shoulder with his own. “You’re sweet. And you did a wonderful job – you’re a hard worker. And you have a very cute concentration face.”

“What?”

“Yeah, you pout just a little bit. I’ve never had such an adorable student.”

Seokjin felt himself flush, kept his eyes glued to the ground. “Shut up,” he said, smiling as Jimin nudged him again, laughing his melodic laugh.

 

 ☙

 

The Friday after that, Jeongguk came over for a movie night. He told Seokjin about his summer job working for a radio station and the advice Yoongi had been giving him about breaking into the music industry. 

“It’s a lot of hours, but I’m really excited about it. I just miss you, hyung,” said Jeongguk, cuddling closer. “What have you been up to?”

“I’m glad you like it, Jeongguk-ah. I miss you, too, but of course you’re gonna be busy the summer before your senior year.” He paused for a moment to pull Jeongguk closer and run a hand through his hair. “Oh – I meant to tell you that I went to a dance studio the other day.”

Jeongguk’s eyebrows shot up. “And you danced?”

“No, I crocheted a crop top for you. Of course I danced. My neighbor is super good so he took me along.”

“Your neighbor?” The incredulity in his voice had not lessened. “What neighbor? Since when do people do things with their neighbors?”

Seokjin sighed. “His name’s Jimin. And he’s my neighbor and my friend, so chill. His cat visits me all the time.”

“Ah. A classic relationship milestone. Is he cute?” Jeongguk’s front teeth stuck out as he grinned, an evil sparkle in his eyes.

“Well. Yeah, he is.”

“Okay, I see you. It’s been a drought, hyung, you have to get back into the game.”

“You don’t see anything, JK. He’s cute, and oddly flirtatious, but I’m not gonna do anything. I’m fine.”

Jeongguk hummed. “Sure. Just let me know if you ever need me to come be your wingman.”

“Yeah, yeah. I don’t really think you’d be a great wingman. Now turn on the game, Jeongguk.”

“I am,” he said, standing up. “Just one more thing, though. Is he nice to you?”

Seokjin studied his face, which was far more serious than usual. “Yeah, he is.”

Later that night, they facetimed Yoongi, who grumbled about it being his day to sleep in but still had fond smiles for the both of them.

 

 

The next day, Jimin found Seokjin drinking an iced tea on the balcony. He knocked on the frame of his window before crawling out onto the fire escape, as if this were a private space.

“Hey, hyung,” he said, plopping down with a loud rattle. They both looked down at the rusty metal floor, momentarily alarmed, and Jimin smiled sheepishly. “I finished your book.”

“Really? That was quick.”

Jimin stared at him. “It’s been several weeks, Seokjin-hyung.”

“Oh.” He thought back in his head to that night he and Jimin had dinner together. “Huh, I guess it has. My perception of time is a little skewed.”

“I mean, I get it. Every day I get up and go to work and do the exact same thing. If I paid too much attention to how excruciatingly slow the weeks go by it would be… not good.”

Seokjin winced in sympathy. “I’m sorry, Jimin-ah.”

He waved a hand. “Don’t be sorry. At any rate, I was glad to read your book when I got home in the evening. You have a really captivating voice.”

“Oh, that’s sweet. I’m glad you enjoyed.” He traced a finger through the condensation on his glass, unsure where to store the happy feeling Jimin’s flattery had given him.

“I enjoyed a lot. So, how’s the new book coming along?” 

Seokjin sighed. “It’s coming along, I suppose. I had to make some changes to the story near the beginning, and I keep getting hung up on it.”

“Oh. What’s it about?”

“It’s about a member of the yangban with this downtrodden estate, right on the precipice of the Donghak Rebellion. But I’m not a historian, so I try not to get too into details. It’s more about identity.”

“Sounds cool. What was it that changed?” 

Seokjin glanced over at Jimin and his small hands clasped around his knees. “Originally, the protagonist was in love with someone, his childhood friend who’s this Confucian traditionalist, obsessed with rising in court. Another guy.” He couldn’t help the wry twist to his mouth. “My publishing company was very polite when they said that couldn’t happen.”

“Oh no,” said Jimin, hands immediately coming up to comfort. They found purchase in the soft cotton of Seokjin’s t-shirt. “I’m so sorry, hyung, I hate that.”

“It’s okay, I guess.” He sighed again. “It’s all subtext now, they can’t stop that.”

Jimin nodded. “I wish it could be more. All the time I wish that.” He rested his head on Seokjin’s shoulder, slow. “Hey. Can I ask you something?”

He knew what it was Jimin was about to say. “Go ahead.”

“Hm. Well,” he hesitated again. “I don’t want to put you on the spot. So, instead I’ll say that I’m gay.”

Seokjin’s mouth tucked itself into a small smile. “Me, too, Jimin-ah”

Jimin’s eyes met his and both were happy, comfort nestled within them. Jimin breathed out a laugh. “Okay, cool. Oh, and can I borrow another one of your books?”

“If you really want?”

“I do.” He crawled away so his feet hung through Seokjin’s window. “Is now alright?”

“Of course,” said Seokjin, and watched as Jimin slipped through. After a second, Curry followed, and then so did he. “Would you like a glass of iced tea?”

“I would love one. It’s getting to be so muggy out there, I just want to escape to the sea.”

“Mm. Have you always lived in Seoul?”

Jimin shook his head, stepping closer to accept the glass with a grateful smile. “No, no. I’m from Busan, actually. Lived right by the ocean when I was growing up.”

“Oh, that must’ve been great. I grew up in Anyang, so practically Seoul.” He shrugged. “I would love to go for a swim right now.”

“Well,” said Jimin. But he didn’t continue for a moment. Finally, “There’s a pool at the gym we went to. If you’re not busy.”

Seokjin was surprised. He didn’t know why he kept being surprised that Jimin seemed to want to talk to him, want to do things with him.

“I’m not,” he said. “Not busy. I – well, embarrassingly enough I didn’t really have anything on the schedule for today. I might’ve done some editing.”

“Hyung, don’t be embarrassed. Now you have time to come swimming with me.” He smiled, and paired with the yellow t-shirt he was wearing it looked like the sun had paid a visit to Seokjin’s kitchen.

“That sounds great, Jimin. Um, did you want to go right now, then?”

“Why not? We could leave in a half hour, I just have to finish a chore or two and change quickly.”

“Same here. So, I’ll meet you in the hall, then?”

“Yep.” He took a step forward, then glanced down at the iced tea in his hand. “Oh.”

“Just take it with you. I trust you with my glassware.”

“I will honor your trust, then,” said Jimin in a grave voice. Then, he crawled back through the window. “See you soon.”

 

It was only a slight exaggeration to say that seeing Jimin without his shirt hit him like a load of bricks. He tried his best not to ogle the defined abs and indents of his hips, the goddamn tattoo that he never expected. 

He did a good job of averting his eyes, but of course it was Jimin, who carried himself with such confidence, who brought up the matter.

Seokjin himself was pretty fit – he worked out enough to have a flat and toned stomach, but still he was more lanky, with a slim waist and arms.

“Hyung,” Jimin said, pushing through the water on tiptoes until he was close to Seokjin. Seokjin stood still as Jimin circled behind him. “You have such broad shoulders.” Then he giggled. It was literally a giggle, and Seokjin felt his eyebrows furrow as he wondered how somebody like Jimin existed. He was jolted out of this line of thought when he felt the light trace of fingertips on one of his scapula. “Sorry. Do you mind?”

Seokjin swallowed. “No, um, go ahead.” He watched the artificial blue water break up into delicate waves before him as Jimin flattened his palm and ran it across his back.

“Sorry,” he said again, coming back around and pushing back so he was floating on his back. “Your shoulders are like… the Pacific Ocean, or something.”

“You’re funny, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin laughed. “Race you?”

They swam to the base of the diving boards, where Jimin climbed out of the pool and demonstrated an inverse dive for him. 

Seokjin watched him, his graceful form as he stood confidently with his heels hanging off the edge of the board before throwing himself forward. His heart pounded – he didn’t know if he’d be brave enough to ignore the fear of hitting the board with his face.

Jimin was something else, he thought as he watched the other man emerge from underwater and push his wet hair back. “That was fun,” he exclaimed, swimming towards Seokjin.

“Was it? Weren’t you scared?”

“I don’t get scared about things like that,” he assured him. They were clinging to the side of the pool now.

“Then what?”

“Something far scarier. Failure,” he said, turning to Seokjin. For a moment there was an uncharacteristically serious look on his face before it turned into a self-deprecating grin. “Your face right now is the exact face all my friends make when they wish I would try less.”

Seokjin shook his head. “My face was completely neutral, I promise.”

 

When they were drying off on the bench, Seokjin finally worked up the courage to ask his question. “Jimin,” he said, examining the profile of the younger man, his delicate nose and plush lips. “When’d you get your tattoo?”

“Oh,” said Jimin. He twisted a little bit as if to look and make sure it was still there. “Yeah, that thing. I got it junior year, I wanna say? Yeah, junior year on my twentieth birthday.”

“Ah. That’s always a good time to get one.”

“Do you have any tattoos, hyung?”

“I don’t,” he said, holding out his bare arms. “As you can see.”

“Well,” said Jimin. There was that sly tone that Seokjin was beginning to get to know. “ Some of you is still covered. So I don’t know for sure.”

Seokjin’s ears flushed as he reprimanded Jimin, but he swore he wouldn’t be able to get that teasing grin out of his head for days.

Later, when they said goodbye in the hall, Jimin stopped him with a soft hand on the forearm.

“Wait, hyung, I finally remembered.” He turned to dig his phone out his shorts pocket. “I need your number. It’s funny, we’ve just been communicating like they did in the olden days. You know, by happenstance.”

Seokjin laughed. “Wow, we might as well be Joseon peasants, then. Here you go, Jimin.” He handed him his phone. “Go ahead and call yourself.”

When Jimin handed it back, his eyes had curved into happy crescents. “Great, thanks. I’ll text you soon.” And with that, he disappeared into his apartment.

 

Jimin was true to his word. He texted throughout the week, and again early Friday morning. When Seokjin rolled over in bed at 9:30, he blinked at his screen that was lit up with several notifications.

Hey, hyung, the first said, Sorry to text so early, I was just wondering whether you were free tonight?

Me and a few of my friends are going out for BBQ + drinks at 7:30

He attached a link to an address. Then, finally: Have a great day 😊

Seokjin rubbed the bleariness out of his eyes as he smiled at the screen. It was rare to wake up to such a sweet barrage of messages.

He texted Jimin back to say he’d be there, then went about his day, editing the first few chapters of his manuscript and doing some other odd jobs. At quarter past noon, he said hello to Curry, sent Jimin a picture on a whim.

7:30 snuck up on him, filling his chest with an odd fizzy feeling he hadn’t felt in a while, a bit of nervousness that he tamped down as best he could.

 

The restaurant was only a short metro ride away. As he leaned against the pole, surrounded by strangers, he wondered about Jimin’s friends. What would they be like? Stylish, successful, like Jimin? Intimidating, maybe?

He was nervous, yes. But he could be a person people loved, someone who made them laugh at any cost. It was strange to stand there looking at a random person’s shoes and feel the other side of him shift into place.

When he arrived, Jimin and his friends were already seated in a booth by the window, two of them on each side. There was Jimin, hands decked out in rings, sitting next to a broad boy with beautiful features. Across from them, a boy who was laughing loudly and a tall, lanky one.

He noticed Seokjin first, eyes widening slightly – Seokjin watched his mouth move and Jimin turn in his direction as a result.

“Hyung,” he called, waving his arms. “Come sit.”

It was a bit of a tight fit, the three of them on one side, but it worked. Around them was the mouth-watering aroma of meat. Then Jimin put his hand, small and warm, on Seokjin’s forearm.

“Guys, this is Seokjin, my neighbor.”

“Nice to meet you,” said the two across from him, polite and smiling. The boy on Jimin’s other side leaned forward to examine Seokjin with heavily-lashed eyes.

“You’re even more handsome than Jimin said,” he determined.

Seokjin blinked. “Oh,” he said, huffing a laugh. “Thank you.”

“Taehyung,” Jimin muttered with dark eyes. “Shut up.” He cleared his throat. “Um, that’s Taehyung. And these two hyungs are Namjoon and Hoseok.”

“Hi,” he waved. “Nice to meet you. So, tell me, how did you all meet?”

Taehyung started, leaning forward again to meet Seokjin’s eyes. “Jimin and I met senior year of high school. And became soulmates soon after.”

Seokjin raised his eyebrows. “Soulmates, wow, that’s impressive. Not everyone is lucky enough to meet theirs.”

Taehyung nodded, and Jimin piped up. “Have you, hyung?”

“My soulmate? Um, no? If you mean platonic, I love my best friend but I’ve never thought of our relationship as soulmates.”

“You mean Yoongi? He’s away, right?’

“Mm. And as we know in all soulmate lore you can’t be too far from one another.”

“Yeah, so they say,” said Jimin, grinning. “Well don’t lose hope.”

Seokjin smiled back. “I’ll try. Anyways, what about you two?”

“Ah,” said Hoseok, leaning back in his seat. “It’s a wonderful story, could be the next fairy tale romance.” Jimin was blushing, now, the tiniest amount but still more than Seokjin had seen.

“Oh, do share then.”

“Well, we were both on dance team at university, did a lot of dance covers together, you know. Even dated for a brief but extremely steamy period. Fortunately, we can still be friends. And I introduced Jimin and his ever-present soulmate to my favorite nerd, Namjoon here.”

Seokjin’s heart leapt a bit as Hoseok told his tale. He smiled softly at Jimin next to him. “Oh yeah, Jimin mentioned dating another dancer. Unless of course there was someone aside from you.”

Jimin huffed. “Hey, I didn’t make my way through the entire dance team.”

“I don’t think two people is the entire dance team,” Seokjin said, raising an eyebrow. “I would really love to see you both dance – I saw Jimin, and he was incredible, so I’m sure this team was something special.”

“We were pretty damn good,” Hoseok admitted. “When did you see Jimin dance?”

“I took Seokjin-hyung to the studio a few weeks ago, taught him some of this dance I’m doing. ‘Own It’, you know.”

“Did you like that?” asked Namjoon, smile in his voice. “I think I’d be a little scared.”

“Oh, I was,” said Seokjin.

Jimin nudged him, pouting. “You were not,” he said. “I even tried my hardest not to be scary.”

“If you have to try not to be scary, therein lays the issue.”

“Hobi – sorry, that’s what we call Hoseok- is scary, as well. Dancers.” Namjoon shook his head.

Hoseok cocked his head like he couldn’t deny the accusation. “So, Seokjin-ssi,” he asked, resting his chin in his hand. “Jimin-ah said you’re a writer?”

“Yeah,” said Seokjin. He hadn’t realized Jimin would even talk about him. “What about all of you?”

“We both work for entertainment companies, actually,” said Namjoon. “I’m a producer, Hoseok’s a choreographer.”

Seokjin felt his eyes go wide. “Wow, that’s amazing. It’s funny, both my best friends are in entertainment as well. One of them’s in the US now as a producer.”

“That’s wild. It’s pretty rare to find other people in the business.”

“It is. I’m sure if we’d gone to school together I would have met you somehow.”

 

The night went on, and several drinks later saw the whole table abuzz and Seokjin with loose limbs, slumped over on the bench so his shoulder pressed up against Jimin’s.

“Jimin is the pettiest,” said Taehyung, in response to something Seokjin couldn’t recall. “Like, one time he poured banana milk on my lap because I spoiled a movie.”

“I didn’t pour it, it just happened to spill,” Jimin insisted, though the grin on his face said otherwise. Seokjin observed him, thinking that this side of his new friend wasn’t totally surprising. Jimin was kind, he was charismatic, but he wasn’t like those people who were so nice it was off-putting. 

“What movie was it?” he asked, proud his voice was steady even after four sojus (they were peach flavored, he couldn’t help himself). “Cause that makes a big difference.”

“It was Train to Busan, ” said Taehyung, rolling his eyes. “I - well, it slipped out that Gong Yoo turned into a zombie in the end. But, but,” he shouted over Jimin, holding up a finger. “This was last month. He had three years to figure that shit out!”

“I hadn’t seen it yet,” Jimin shouted back, pushing his lips into a pout. 

“That movie gave me an ulcer,” said Hoseok, picking his head up from where it rested on the table. “I don’t even know why I watched it.”

“Same,” Seokjin agreed. “Gong Yoo was a fucking idiot anyways not to push the evil guy off the train. They literally watched him become a zombie, for crying out loud.”

Namjoon let out a squawk of what seemed to be agreement. “That part killed me. He only even survived because of the big guy, anyways.”

 “Facts,” said Seokjin, sharing a smile with him. “I don’t know, in the event of zombies I think I’d probably stay locked in my apartment until someone solved the issue. I’m easily scared. Jimin, though,” he continued, lifting his bottle towards him, “he’d be out there with a bat, and he’d make it.”

Taehyung nodded. “Too many muscles and a hero complex, it’s a dangerous combo.”

“Yeah, well, you’d probably feel bad for them or something,” said Jimin, rolling his eyes.

“What can I say, I’m a tender soul.” 

Jimin turned to Seokjin then, looked at him for a moment. “Are you a tender soul, hyung? It’s hard to tell.”

Seokjin was bewildered. “Uh. I don’t know? Partly, at least.”

“Hm,” was Jimin’s response. “I think you are.” 

 

Then they were leaving, with plans to go back to Jimin’s and drink more. 

“Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, everybody,” Hoseok sang, dancing his way out of the restaurant. 

By the time they arrived back, Seokjin had gained a clingy, heavy companion who kept pulling him closer, even as he reached out a hand to unlock the front door. 

Seokjin realized as the door swung open that he’d never been inside Jimin’s home. It was, well, it was kind of a mess. There was a chair piled high with coats. A drawer left open with a scarf draped over it, socks and boots littering the entryway.

There were many photos on the walls, though, photos that screamed love. 

“Welcome to Jiminie’s home,” said Jimin in a cute voice.

“Oh no,” Hoseok deadpanned. “He’s here.”

“Who?” asked Seokjin, stumbling a bit as Jimin pulled them towards the couch.

“Cute Jimin,” said Namjoon. “He always makes an appearance. Now, time for shots.” 

Jimin didn’t leave Seokjin’s side as he threw back his shot and sunk into the cushions. Seokjin’s thigh was seared from where Jimin’s pressed into it, and he kept his eyes on Namjoon’s steady hands as he poured rather than Jimin’s beseeching gaze. It was easy enough to space out once he’d had a few drinks, anyways.

“Seokjin-hyung.” Jimin spoke after the others were engaged in a loud conversation. “Are you dating anyone right now?”

Seokjin finally looked at the man beside him, his delicate face and the smattering of freckles on his cheekbone. “Oh, no. No, not for a while. Wouldn’t you have known, anyways?”

Jimin shrugged and smiled a small, unreadable smile. “I guess I would. But why aren’t you? You’re so handsome and cool.”

Seokjin flushed, hoping it would go unnoticed, before he winked at Jimin. “I’ve yet to give out the final rose, my dear Jimin.”

“Are you being embarrassing, Jimin?” Namjoon chimed in from a few feet away. “Let me know if he is, Seokjin-ssi.”

Seokjin waved a hand. “You should all call me hyung. And no worries, Jimin’s fine. Just trying to gather information on my personal life, but what’s new.”

“Yeah, that’s Jimin. Loves to ask personal questions,” said Namjoon. The three friends shared a look.

“One time Jimin asked me what brand of lube I used,” said Taehyung, taking a sip of his soda with a grin as Jimin hissed his name.

“Well, what are friends for if not to give such recommendations?” said Seokjin, poking Jimin in the side and laughing. 

Jimin groaned. “You’re all the worst. I just asked if he was dating anyone. Look at this shoujo manga boy, kill me for being curious.”

“Oh, understandable,” said Taehyung. “Are you then?”

Seokjin covered his face with his hands. “No, I’m not! It’s hard to meet people when you’re a solitary artist, you know.”

“What about online dating?” asked Hoseok. “I’ve met a few nice people on some apps.”

“I’m too pretty, people would accuse me of being a catfish,” he joked. “I just can’t do online.”

“They’re not always great for actual relationships anyways, Hobi-hyung. I think you were probably looking for something a little more… casual than Seokjin-hyung,” Jimin added with a devilish grin. “Right?”

Seokjin closed his mouth that had somehow fallen open. “Um. Yeah, probably. At any rate, I’d be really bad at it. And I just don’t think it would feel right. Not like soulmates, like you and Taehyung.”

Jimin laughed. “Sure, I get it. But me and Taehyung have never dated.”

“Doesn’t mean you haven’t done other things,” Hoseok added.

“Hobi-hyung,” Jimin hissed. “Stop being gross, Seokjin-hyung is an innocent man.”

Seokjin looked at him with an eyebrow raised, a laugh bursting out of him. “What are you talking about?”

Jimin cuddled closer. “You’re just so cute, hyung. I want to wrap you up in my arms like a koala and protect you from these demons.”

Seokjin shook his head at Jimin’s drunkenness. “I could say the same for you, Jimin-ah.”

“Jimin’s a demon, too, though. Beneath that loveable exterior.”

“Oh no,” said Seokjin, “I’m trembling with fear.” But he smiled at the feeling of Jimin’s arms tightening around him.

 

He saw the younger man again the next morning when he poked his head out the window and offered Seokjin a glass of juice. “Where’s that cat of mine gone to?” he asked, coming over to where Curry lounged in Seokjin’s lap and petting her. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m alright,” said Seokjin. “Late nights like that are nothing foreign to me.”

“Wild college life?”

“That, sure. And insomnia, you know.”

“Haunted by your thoughts?”

Seokjin huffed a laugh. “Not usually. But when you have nothing else to do but lay there in the darkness, they tend to sneak in.”

“They do, don’t they.” Jimin smiled at him and leaned so their shoulders rested together against the railing. “Thanks for coming last night,” he said. “I had fun, I hope you did, too.”

“I did. Your friends are funny.”

“Yeah, they’re an interesting bunch. They liked you a lot, I could tell. Taehyung raved about you, actually.”

Seokjin’s heart warmed in his chest. “Oh. That’s really sweet.

“You deserve it - you’re really good with people, hyung.”

“I’m out of practice, though,” he said with a shrug. “It’s been a long time mostly living for myself. Or being with friends that aren’t even like people anymore, you know?”

Jimin hummed. “Yeah, I do. Because you don’t have to think about how you’re portraying yourself when they’re around.”

Seokjin couldn’t help but think of Yoongi, then, with a dull pain in his chest. He missed the contentment of living together. Still to this day it was difficult for him to sort out whether or not that had been love. It didn’t matter, now, at any rate.

“Tell me about Yoongi,” said Jimin, somehow reading his mind. “I only know that he means a lot to you, but not much else.”

“Ah,” said Seokjin. “I guess so. Well, we met in high school, like you and Taehyung. We were roommates throughout college and then for a year post-grad before we got separate places in Seoul. I got my Masters, he worked for a small entertainment company. He left last year to go work in LA. And that’s all.”

“That’s a long time living together,” said Jimin after a moment. “Did you two ever…?”

He shook his head. “No, no. We didn’t. I mean, I won’t say I didn’t catch some feelings at some point. But they were very lowkey, you know. More of a ‘what-if’ sensation. Like, we get along so well, what if we tried that? And then it worms its way into your mind.”

“Sure,” Jimin agreed. “I get it. Friendship and love aren’t so different that we can’t convince ourselves. But you never said anything?”

“No, no, no,” Seokjin shook his head vehemently. “Like I said, the feelings were very subdued. And I don’t think I’d say anything even if I were head over heels. No one would ever guess, either.”

“Jesus, hyung, you worry me sometimes.”

“What? I’m just very quiet about my feelings.”

“Yeah,” said Jimin. “That’s all well and good. But I know people who are not only quiet, but actually averse to anyone knowing their feelings. And I would hate that for you.”

Seokjin looked away from Jimin’s piercing gaze. He was kind of right, was the thing. Seokjin felt uncomfortable that Jimin had characterized him so easily. “Thanks, Jimin-ah,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

“But you worry about me, right?” he countered.

“Of course.”

“Then there you go. Now, what are your plans for the day?”

“Uh, well, I don’t have any as of yet. I was thinking of making mango sticky rice later? If I got severely bored.”

Jimin’s eyes lit up. “Ooh. I was gonna invite you over to watch something together, but can we do that, too?”

“Sure,” said Seokjin, a warm feeling seeping in as he regarded Jimin’s bright smile. “We’ll make a night of it.” 

And so they did. He ended up at Jimin’s so that they could be with Curry, rooting through the unfamiliar kitchen for a measuring cup.

Jimin had gone into his room for a minute, and so Seokjin jumped in surprise when he straightened, cup in hand, to find Jimin standing there with a look on his face that didn’t bode well. “I found it,” he said, smiling creepily. 

Seokjin raised an eyebrow. “The manual on how to be normal? Good, I was beginning to think you’d lost it.”

Jimin just giggled, still sounding like a horror movie haunted doll or something equally unsettling. “No, no, dear Seokjin-hyung. Rather, I’ve found a precious .mp4 file buried deep in the sedimentary layers of youtube. Any idea what?” Seokjin stilled. Oh god. “Bangtan Crispy Chicken CF 2015,” Jimin continued. 

Then, he hit play, and Seokjin’s ears were accosted with the sound of his own voice, saying words that were unfortunately burned into his brain.

“No,” he cried, smacking Jimin on the arm with the measuring cup. “Why would you do this to me?” He launched himself forward to try and wrench the phone away, but for someone who was physically a lot smaller Jimin was powerful. 

He even managed to wrestle Seokjin into what was essentially a hug, laughing his bright laugh all the while and grasping onto Seokjin’s sweater. The video played on, ending in utter humiliation as ad-Seokjin declared, “ Mm… kkaepjang.

Jimin’s laugh grew even louder, almost a howl at this point. “Kkaepjang,” he repeated, breathless, convulsing in Seokjin’s arms so he nearly fell to the floor. 

“Well,” he said, unable to contain a smile as Jimin wiped tears from his eyes. “Now that that’s over with. I was going to make mango sticky rice, but I think that’s only for friends who don’t revive embarrassing moments.”

“No,” Jimin whined. “That wasn’t even bad, I could show you so much worse. You looked great, hyung.” He smoothed a hand over Seokjin’s hair as he said this, unaware of the way Seokjin’s heart stuttered. 

He pulled away. “I’ll hold you to your word, Park Jimin. Go and dig up your embarrassing home videos at once.”

 

They ate the dessert on the couch, with Curry making herself known around them, stepping on necks and thighs as she pleased. “Curry is really your cat, isn’t she?” Seokjin said. Jimin hadn’t stopped clinging to him, either. “Did you know I named her Tang when we first met?”

Jimin blinked. “You named her Tang ? Why on earth?”

“When I was younger, I had sugar gliders as pets. And their names were Gukmul, Odeng, and Eomuk. So you see, I was just continuing the tradition.”

Jimin shook his head, a smile that screamed familiarity gracing his handsome features. “Of course you would name your pets that.”

“Might I remind you, your cat does in fact have a food related name. You’re not better than me, Park Jimin.”

“Damn, you got me,” said Jimin, raising his hands in defeat. “Hey, you seem to like saying my full name, tonight, hyung. I like it.” Now he wore the same expression he had when he and Taehyung had danced to SexyBack the night before. 

Seokjin flushed, knowing exactly what Jimin was thinking. “I really like your name, too,” Jimin continued, unexpectedly turning sweet. “It’s… I don’t know, it’s very pleasing to say. The soft shiot that leads into the hard giyeok , then ‘jin’ finishes it perfectly. It’s just pretty.”

Seokjin was struck dumb. No one had ever said anything like that, given anything about him that much thought. “Oh,” he said. “Thank you. Um, doesn’t your name mean something like ‘My wisdom will be higher than the sky’?. It’s nice.”

Jimin nodded. “Yeah, it does. My grandfather told me. How’d you know that, though?”

“I’m pretty good with hanja,” he shrugged. “But my eighth grade girlfriend was named Jimin, actually, and I remember her telling me that.”

“Your girlfriend?” Jimin laughed. “Unexpected.”

“Hey, I was fourteen. She gave me Trolli sour gummy worms, and we sat together in Korean class. I just went along with it.”

“Oh, so gummy worms are the key to your heart, then? Good to know.”

“Yep,” said Seokjin. “The keyhole is literally shaped like a gummy worm, so you have to insert one.” He lifted his hands to demonstrate. “It’s difficult cause the worm’s a little flaccid, but I like to consider that a security measure.”

Jimin was laughing in earnest, now, tilting into him as he did so. “God, never say flaccid again, hyung.”

“Are you gonna stop me? Honestly, I’m tired of this language policing, people are always telling me not to say penetrate, too. Well guess what,” he said, hearing his own voice speed up as he ranted. “Lots of things can be penetrated, in many ways, and my vocabulary is actually bereft without it!”

“Stop,” Jimin wheezed, tears leaking from his eyes as he fell head first into Seokjin’s lap. “You talk so fast, you sound like a rapper.”

“So I’ve been told.” He couldn’t prevent himself from running a hand through Jimin’s bangs now that he was here. He smiled down at his friend, who was making him feel a lot funnier than he probably was. “Did you have anything in mind for a movie?”

Jimin didn’t seem inclined to get up. “Hm,” he said, adjusting his position so his neck was comfortably against Seokjin’s thigh. “Let’s watch Real. I read the manhwa a few years ago, plus Kim Soo-hyun is in it.”

“Are you a fan?”

“I mean, I never say no to a beautiful man,” said Jimin, wiggling his eyebrows.

 

Two hours later, and Seokjin determined that in this case Jimin should have said no. “Well,” he said, “that was something.”

Jimin laughed, face a little flushed. But maybe that was only because he needed to turn the AC up. “I thought it would be good. And I didn’t know about those scenes, I swear.”

“I don’t think I believe you,” said Seokjin. “But it’s alright. I liked his tattoos.”

“Oh?” Jimin said. He sat up, stretching, and casually lifted his t-shirt to show off his own. Seokjin didn’t know where to look. “You think I should add some to my collection?”

“If you wanted,” he said. His throat felt a bit dry. “I don’t think it could hurt.”

“Physically it could. This one was painful as all hell.”

“Really?” His hand moved on its own to hover over the lettering. Jimin nodded, and he brushed a thumb over the skin, feeling the way it pulled taut over his ribcage. “I don’t think I could get one, then.”

He glanced up at Jimin, and faltered at the way he stared back with dark eyes. After a second his face changed to an easy smile. “You’d just need someone there to hold your hand, hyung.”

The fervor with which Jimin had held on to him that weekend clung to his consciousness as Sunday passed and work life resumed. He was touchier than anyone else Seokjin knew. 

Jeongguk was decisive about when he clung. Yoongi only held hands when he needed a boost. But neither liked to truly cuddle him, though he wouldn’t be adverse. 

He liked it a lot, he decided, the warm feeling of Jimin against his side. He smelled like cologne almost always, a scent that was less offensive and more floral. It made Seokjin feel light-headed, in a good way.

Jimin would text him throughout the week, too, just to complain about his co-workers or send screenshots from a webcomic he was reading, saying Aren’t the protagonists so cute? 

 

On Friday, his phone pinged just as he was getting home, arms laden with groceries. He set them down and dug it out from his pocket.

There was a message from Jimin. 

  Hyung, I have a proposition for you .

I won’t be back until eight tonight :( do you mind if I knock on your door, then?

 

Not at all. See you then! He sent back.

 

He was worried that Jimin would be so late at work, but that wasn’t completely abnormal, especially not after his promotion. 

It wasn’t until 8:30 that the knock came, and he opened the door to find Jimin in his work slacks, his shirt still tucked in impeccably.

“Hey,” he said, surprising Seokjin by wrapping him up in a quick greeting hug before stepping inside. “I’m so sorry I’m late, everyone is an idiot.”

Seokjin laughed. “Up to their usual incompetence, then?”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m like, I thought we all wanted to leave but no, you wanted to make pointless errors in your spreadsheet that put us behind two hours. And then,” he said, raising a finger in ire. “This guy has the audacity to suggest we all go out for drinks. I was like, ‘oh I have plans already’, and of course these knobheads start ribbing me about whether I’ve finally got a girlfriend.” His scowl died down as Seokjin rested a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Jiminie, that sounds torturous. Do you want some mochi?”

“Are you kidding me? Hell yeah I do. God, your moving here was a blessing.”

Seokjin chuckled. “I’m glad you think so.”

“Why did you move, anyways?” Jimin asked as Seokjin pulled the mochi out of the freezer.

“Rent went up,” he said simply. “Authors don’t make much at all, you know.”

“Ah. They should, though. You’re definitely contributing more to the world than me, all I do is calculate how to charge people more for their insurance.”

Seokjin shook his head, smiling. “You’re my parents’ dream, though. They wanted me to major in business so badly, since my dad’s a businessman.”

“You’re too cool for that,” said Jimin, lifting a mochi up to his mouth eagerly before realizing it was still frozen. He frowned at it, cross-eyed. “That reminds me of my proposition, though.”

“Oh, I’d forgotten you came here to proposition me.”

Jimin scoffed. “Not that kind. My proposition is far, far worse.”

“Well get on with it, then.”

Jimin kicked him in the shin with a socked foot. “So, basically my company’s having this dumb retreat. To celebrate our hard work, or whatever. And all my coworkers are bringing their wives, so I was salty, and my boss told me to bring my girlfriend or whoever I’d like.”

Seokjin sighed, “Wow, the heteronormativity was strong today.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s like that every day. But he did say ‘or whoever you’d like’. So will you come with me, maybe? I figured a weekend at the lake would be fun for you. I promise to make the assholes stay away.”

Seokjin slumped back in his chair, his eyebrows rising beneath his bangs. “Really, Jiminie, you want to take me? I’m flattered.”

Jimin smiled widely, his eyes forming crescents. “Yeah, hyung. I wanted for us to do more fun things together, and this seemed like the perfect chance. Well. Perfect would be if there was no one else, but still.”

“When is it?”

“Weekend after next,” he said. “Are you free? The resort’s right outside Incheon, so I’ll drive us. There’s nothing for hyung to worry about.”

“I’m almost definitely free. Thanks, Jiminie. I have a little vacation scheduled with Jeongguk later in August, but aside from that the schedule’s blank.”

“Yay,” said Jimin. “I’d love to meet Jeongguk, by the way.”

“The thought of you two meeting fills me with primal fear. But I’ll see what I can arrange. Maybe after we get back.”

“Sounds good to me.” He bit into his mochi, groaning with happiness. “Delicious.”

 

When Jimin left that night he went up on his tiptoes to give Seokjin another hug, this time one that lasted longer. He was warm, and smelled like orange blossom. Seokjin tucked his nose against Jimin’s shirt collar for a moment before they separated. 

That night He dreamed of Jimin, though he couldn’t remember what it was about.

 The road to the resort was winding, and far less congested than the freeway. Jimin hummed along to the radio, tapped his ringed fingers against the wheel. There were a lot more trees, now, too.

“We’re almost there, hyung,” said Jimin. “Are you ready to relax?”

“Are you?”

“I am, actually. Just not psyched about this cocktail party tonight.”

“Yeah. It’ll be alright, though. You never have to flounder at the drinks table ‘cause there’s no one you want to talk to. I’ll be your constant companion.”

Jimin laughed, glanced over at him. His hair was black now that the roots had grown too far out, and for some reason it made him look surprisingly devastating.

“I appreciate it.”

 

The plan was to check in, get settled in the room, and get some dinner before the party. At the reception desk, the woman handed Jimin two keys, eyes flicking between them. “Your room is at the end of the hall on the first floor. Enjoy your stay.”

They followed a wide wooden hall to their door; the hotel was older, with traditional architecture. Inside the room, though, was where the problem lay.

“They gave us a king room?” said Jimin, eyes widening. “I’m sorry, hyung, my boss’s secretary took care of all the reservations - I don’t know, I guess no one told her I was bringing someone? Or- ”

“Don’t worry about it, Jimin-ah.”

“Are you sure? I can ask the front desk?”

He shook his head. “No need to make a scene. That bed’s bigger than any I’ve slept in. And don’t fret, I’m quiet as a mouse.”

Jimin’s tense shoulders slumped in relief. “Alright. Sorry, again.” He shuffled in, threw his duffel on the bed. “There’s a restaurant nearby that serves hanwoo beef, if you want to treat ourselves?”

“Are you kidding me? Of course.”

 

After a hearty dinner, which Jimin paid for despite Seokjin’s insistence, they dressed in light summer suits and hurried to get to the cocktail party. 

Seokjin could see that Jimin’s face had fallen into some strange semi-constipated fake smile as they made their way to the atrium where it was held. 

The din of many voices echoed in the half-lit hallway, loud laughter sounding. Seokjin hadn’t known Jimin had quite so many coworkers.

Almost as soon as they stepped inside, an older man in a shiny suit approached them.

“Park Jimin,” he said, pulling Jimin into a one-armed bro hug while Jimin’s smile-grimace wavered. “Good to see ya. This is a nice place, isn’t it? And who’s this?”

“Kim Seokjin,” said Seokjin. “Nice to meet you.”

“You as well. It’s funny, Jimin-ssi, everyone else brought their wife or girlfriend, and you just brought your bro.” He laughed an abrasive laugh.

They both blinked at him. “Right,” said Jimin, recovering quickly. “Well, we’re gonna go get some drinks. Have fun tonight, Jaebeom-ssi.”

Jimin ordered two whiskeys at the open bar and threw his back like a shot.

“Woah there.”

“Sorry, it was just necessary. You can expect more like that.” He inclined his head back towards Jaebeom.

“We can handle it.”

“I hope we can. Glad I brought moral support this time,” he sighed.

 

They were tested again not much later when another of Jimin’s coworkers came up to say hi while Seokjin was busy getting a snack.  

“Jimin-ssi,” said the man. These people seemed to all say Jimin’s name with the exact same inflection and tone. It was eerie. Jimin said hello back, but the man was already speaking again. “This is my girlfriend, Eunseon.”

“Hello,” she said, taking Jimin’s hand. She didn’t seem thrilled to be here either.

“Hey, hey - no company for tonight?” said the man. “Don’t get too jealous there, Park. We’ll get you a girlfriend soon enough. Actually, Dahyun over there might be interested.” He nudged Jimin playfully, his mouth like a shark’s.

“Uhh,” said Jimin. “Well, actually…” He lifted his hand as if to indicate Seokjin behind them but then dropped it. When the other two drifted away, he came to stand next to Seokjin, who had an unidentifiable hors d’oeuvre stuffed in his cheeks. There was a glimmer in his eye; an idea.

“Come out to the garden with me.”

Seokjin followed him back out into the hallway and through a set of doors to a tranquil garden. It was dusk now, but he could hear the sound of a water feature somewhere.

“Hyung,” said Jimin. “I have an idea to run by you. Bear with me, it’s gonna sound a little wild.”

“Yeah?”

Jimin sat down on a stone bench and sighed. “You know, I’ve had many chances now, to stop these people from making their assumptions. One on one conversations in the break room, or whatever, where I could have easily just thrown out a mention of a boyfriend when someone asked about my plans or something.”

“It’s not easy to do, though.” Seokjin frowned. “It’s hard, and you’re definitely not obligated.”

“That’s the thing. I know I’m not, and for a while I was like, what would coming out to any of them accomplish? They’d just be awkward. But… I don’t know. I don’t really care if they’re awkward anymore. I’m more annoyed with the way they’re treating me now. They assume I’m just like them, but they’re also so fucking condescending.” He scowled.

“Yeah,” Seokjin agreed. He put a hand on Jimin’s shoulder, squeezed. “I understand. Whatever the consequences, there would be some satisfaction in rocking their boat. And feeling free, for a moment.”

“Mm. I’m annoyed right now, but I feel… brave, I guess? Would you go along with me, if I asked you something?”

“What is it?”

“Well, I just know when we go back in there, someone else is going to comment about my lack of girlfriend. Or flirt with me or something. And I had this idea… what if I tell them we’re dating? That might get them off my back for good.” He glanced up, then shrunk away at the expression of shock on Seokjin’s face. “I know, it’s ridiculous.”

“No, no. I’m only surprised. It’s ... certainly one way of getting them off your back. And you really don’t mind, coming out to them?”

“I mind a little bit, but I want to go through with it. I’m more concerned if you’re comfortable with the idea.”

“Jimin-ah. I was a theatre kid. You’ve presented me with one of the most exciting chances to act I’ve had in years. I’m about to shift into your doting boyfriend.” He slid his hand so it rested on Jimin’s hip, just under his suit jacket. “Do you mind?”

Jimin’s lips quirked into a smile. “Not at all, hyung.”

 

When they entered the party again, Jimin pressed a kiss to his cheek. No one noticed, too busy mingling, but it still felt important. “Your skin is hot.”

“I tend to run warm when I’m in the middle of a fake dating scheme.”

“Sure,” Jimin laughed. His chin lifted a bit as they saw a new suit headed towards them. “Are you ready for our first victim?”

“I am. Alright, act casual.”

“Park Jimin,” said the man as he approached. His eyebrows seemed perpetually arched and his teeth were too white. Seokjin had the weird sensation of being back at his all boys high school.

“Hi, Kihyun-ssi. How are you?”

“I’m just great. This open bar, I gotta say…” He trailed off, glancing over at Seokjin, eyes flitting to where his arm was still around Jimin’s waist. Seokjin resisted the urge to remove it and put his hands in his pockets. “And your friend?”

“Kim Seokjin.” He stuck out his hand and smiled before glancing at Jimin, eyebrows questioning when the right moment was. Just then, a tall girl with matching white teeth ambled up. 

“Ah, this is my girlfriend, Sowon.” He put a hand to his chin. “Still no one in your life, Jimin-ssi?”

Jimin shifted from foot to foot, leaning closer to Seokjin. “Uh, well, actually, Seokjin-hyung and I are together.”

Kihyun’s eyebrows arched even more, and Sowon glanced back at them from where she had been eyeing a waiter with a tray of champagne flutes. After a split second, Kihyun nodded. “Oh. Good, then - I hope you two have fun tonight.”

After they walked away, Jimin let out a long breath. “Okay, step one complete. I’m glad it was Kihyun actually, he’s not the worst.” 

“Do you think he’ll tell everyone else?”

“Not everyone. I think he’ll tell his closest friend Youngho, though, and he’s a complete blabbermouth. So, we’ll have to wait and see how quickly word gets around.”

Seokjin hummed. “Is there anyone here you actually want to talk to? People you like?”

“How about we get some drinks and talk to Hyungsik for a bit.” He gestured at a man who was standing by the window. “He paints pictures of bicycles in his spare time. I like him enough.”

Before they approached Hyungsik, Jimin ordered them both glasses of prosecco and clinked them together. “Thanks for going along with this, hyung.” 

He tilted his head back as he drank, and Seokjin couldn’t help but be drawn to the line of his jaw. When he looked up, the shark-like man from earlier was watching them. He took a sip of his drink and then leaned forward, letting a hand fall to the crook of Jimin’s elbow. “One of the guys from earlier is watching us.”

“What does his expression look like?”

Seokjin considered for a moment. “Just appraising is all.”

Jimin sighed again, nodding. “You know we’re supposed to all go on a hike tomorrow? Doesn’t that sound like the worst idea ever?”

“I agree that any hike sounds like a bad idea. But this could be the worst.”

“There’s a spa, at least. I know I could use it, I think I pulled something in my shoulder trying a move the other week.” He rotated his shoulder, and Seokjin found himself reaching out to squeeze it. It felt tense. Everytime he touched Jimin, he thought, it felt like there were a million things coiled beneath the surface, waiting to burst forth. 

“You’re cool,” he said, finally, grinning as he slid a hand over smooth fabric to Jimin’s impressive bicep. “What was it, a backflip or something?”

“Just a flip.” Jimin’s lips quirked in return. “Want me to teach you?”

“Can we stick with hip thrusts? I like my head intact.”

Jimin laughed, and the minutes slid by, leaving empty glasses behind. Jimin drank a glass of wine in an amount of time that left Seokjin dizzy.

After that they talked to Hyungsik for a while, glad to have someone to stand with. “The spa has couples massages, you know,” he said, bright voice slurring the tiniest bit. “I’d go if I weren’t desperately single. But you two should, for sure. And the lake is beautiful.” 

 

Spurred by Hyungsik’s rant, the two snuck out and followed the winding halls of the hotel until they stumbled out on a lawn covered in pine droppings even at the height of summer. Down a dirt path lined with tall trees was the glint of moonlight on water.

“Come on,” said Jimin, tugging him along so that he nearly tripped on several threatening roots.

“Wait up,” he whined. When Jimin stopped abruptly, momentum carried along so that Seokjin fell into his back. He laughed, aware of how intoxicated he seemed. “Oops.”

“Hyung.” Jimin turned around and caught Seokjin by the waist. “Do you need some cold water to sober you up?”

“I’m sober,” he insisted. “Well, maybe not sober, but I’m fi -” He shouted in alarm when Jimin suddenly scooped him up bridal style and ambled over to the lake, laughing at Seokjin’s objections.

“Take off your shoes, hyung.”

Mouth pursed in full pout, Seokjin did, reaching down to untie the laces and peel off black socks. In the end, Jimin only let him down to wade into the lake.

“You have pretty ankles,” he said, following behind with his dress pants folded up to his knees. “Is that a weird thing to say?”

Seokjin shrugged. “My ex-boyfriend actually used to tell me that.” Seokjin waded in a little further, swatting away a mosquito that came too close. “But he was a foot fetishist, so maybe a little weird.” 

He smiled to himself as he heard Jimin’s laugh behind him, turning so that he could see the other. Moonlight drenched his skin and the shiny fabric of his suit jacket. 

He catalogued the moment; it felt like it belonged in a book.

“Jimin-ah. If you could do anything what would it be?”

He didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I would dance.” 

“With the Seoul Ballet Company?”

“Sure,” he said. “Though, it’s funny, most people wouldn’t subject himself to the pain that entails if they could do anything .”

“Isn’t most of the pain in getting there? What if you could be just launched into the star position?”

A furrow lined Jimin’s brow. “I wouldn’t be good enough, though. The whole ballet would crash and burn.”

“Well, in this hypothetical scenario, you are good enough. I said you could do whatever you wanted.”

“I didn’t even work for it, then?” Jimin crossed his arms, now. “I don’t know about that…”

“God,” Seokjin couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re difficult.”

Jimin huffed, splashing a foot of water in his direction. “Well what about you, hyung?”

“I’d be a bestseller. That’d be nice. Partly because then I could write whatever I wanted in the off time. Live by the water and even write poetry about people’s faces.”

“Your answer’s better than mine.”

Seokjin rolled his eyes. “It’s not a competition.”

“Hmm. Well, how about this answer? You’re the poet prince of a lush and peaceful kingdom and I’m the court dancer.” He twirled dramatically, making water go everywhere, then caught Seokjin’s hands as they laughed. Seokjin could feel his shoulders shaking.

“Sounds pretty nice, Jiminie. And we can eat steak whenever we please, and you’ll be dripping in jewels.”

“Only jewels,” he said. “No other clothes. As the court dancer, I have to enrapture the prince.”

“But instead I’ll be disturbed and insist you put on a nearby potato sack,” Seokjin continued. “I don’t write erotica, you know.”

“Too bad. I would buy it, hyung.”

Seokjin shook his head, laughing at the resulting shout when he splashed Jimin.

They both waded around for a while longer, admiring the full moon and the lake’s serenity until Seokjin suddenly shrieked and swatted at his own face. “Fuck,” he said, pressing a hand to his lip. “They got me. My blood is too sweet.”

“Who got you? Edward Cullen?”

“In mosquito form, yeah.”

Jimin came closer, eyes focused on Seokjin’s. He brought a hand up, and then his thumb was pressing onto the reddened strip of skin just below the lower lip. “Hm,” he said. “Can you blame him? It looks pretty juicy.”

It was a joke, but Seokjin found himself floundering for a response, silent except for his breath until Jimin’s face shifted into a smile. “Come on, then. Let’s head back.”

 

Back in the room, Jimin kicked off his shoes with ease and started to unbutton his dress shirt. His hair had become ruffled at some point, or at least as ruffled as his could be. That is, a single strand had fallen in front of his forehead. 

When he took a step closer, Seokjin realized his eyes were trained on his midsection and flicked them up to the beige wall, embarrassed.

Jimin grinned. “Did you have fun tonight?”

“I did. With you, anyways. I feel bad we only really talked to Hyungsik, though.”

 “Don’t waste your guilt on that. I hear them talk about me sometimes, you know. They say I think I’m better than them. Even when I’m unfailingly pleasant they say that, so I don’t waste my time anymore.”

“Huh. Alright then.” Seokjin moved to grab his pajamas and toiletry bag from the suitcase, edging past a still-shirtless Jimin as he did. Whoever let him look that good was being unfair to everyone else, he thought.

“I’ll be right out,” he murmured. 

When he came back from applying his toner and moisturizer and serum and everything that made him sparkle, Jimin was not only shirtless but pantsless, sprawled out on the bed in blue boxers with his phone held above his face.

 Seokjin swallowed, circling around to crawl onto his side. It was a bigger bed, but still a bed that he was on with a handsome and undressed guy. But Jimin was his friend, he reminded himself. You didn’t look at your friends like that.

“Hey.” Jimin put his phone down on the nightstand and propped himself on an elbow to look over at Seokjin. “You know, in general I would describe you as buttoned up, but now you’re really proving it.” He gestured at Seokjin’s matching pajama set with its buttoned-up long sleeve shirt.

Seokjin looked down at his own torso, ears flushing and shoulders hunching a bit. He didn’t know why those words had twisted something inside him. “They’re comfy,” he said, finally.

Then he settled under the covers more, startling when fingertips brushed over the reddened shell of his ear. When he glanced at Jimin, he expected him to say something, but instead he just smiled softly. Seokjin cleared his throat. “What did you mean, when you said I’m buttoned up?”

“Oh. It’s not a bad thing, I just think you’re very careful with how you present yourself to others, and how you protect your feelings.”

“Ah.” Seokjin blinked. “I thought you were calling me a prude or something.”

“What? Hyung, no. I wouldn’t.”

Seokjin pushed the side of his face a little further into the pillow. “Yeah. I guess… you wouldn’t be the first to say that, though, so I assumed that’s what you meant.” He sighed. “The others weren’t wrong, I guess. I do feel oddly tense about a lot of things. I don’t know, I can’t explain it. I wish I could rip my buttons off, though.” Unbidden tears pricked his eyes and he hid in the pillow, embarrassed.

Jimin shuffled closer, his hand coming to rest on the crook of Seokjin’s shoulder and neck. “Hyung,” he ventured gently. “Tell me if I’m overstepping, but do you actually feel averse to sex? I can’t tell if that’s what you mean.”

“No, I’m pretty sure I’m not.” He could hear his voice getting smaller. “If I were averse, then okay. But I’m not… so that just leaves me as an inexplicable fuck up.”

“Seokjin.” He opened his eyes to look at Jimin, and did his best not to shrink away from the intensity of his gaze. “You’re amazing. There’s nothing wrong with you, okay? You’re alright. Do you hear me?” Seokjin nodded. “Come on, say it.”

“I’m fine, Jiminie.”

“That’ll do, I guess,” he sighed. Then he scooted forward and up until his lips were inches from Seokjin’s forehead. He smoothed back the bangs. “Here,” he said as he planted a sweet kiss there.

“Jimin-ah!” He pushed his lips together as he fought a smile.

“Another, then, hyung? Alright, if you insist.” He slid down so he could kiss the soft, moisturized skin of a cheek and the tip of Seokjin’s nose. When he breathed in it sounded shaky, and then he pressed one to Seokjin’s chin, just below his lower lip where Seokjin could feel how tender the kiss was. “Bite still bothering you?” he whispered.

Seokjin was on unsteady ground, and it took him a moment to respond. “No...uh. Not right now. Tomorrow, maybe.” 

“Sure,” said Jimin. A second later he was gone, but it was only to reach over and turn off the light before he was back in Seokjin’s space. “Mind turning around, hyung?”

Seokjin turned around, mind too tangled by Jimin’s nearness to do anything other than close his eyes firmly as Jimin’s arm wrapped around his waist. 

“This alright?”

“Mm, yeah. Goodnight, Jimin-ah.”

“Night, Jin-ah.”

As he drifted off, Seokjin catalogued the feeling of Jimin’s arm moving with his stomach as it rose and fell. Resisted the temptation to touch his bottom lip where Jimin’s had grazed it. He felt unsure. He felt like there’d been a spark ignited. 

Even now Jimin hadn’t let go, hadn’t let the normal boundaries return. The longer Seokjin laid there, the more certain he was that this was something more, and shit, he’d known that he felt more for a while now but he’d never acknowledged it. Jimin was… incredible, and Seokjin wanted to draw him even closer around him. 

His last thought before he drifted away was sleepy and nonsensical, a bare bones recognition that he, Kim Seokjin, had romantic feelings, accompanied by the thought of whether Jimin had brushed his teeth. And then he was gone.

 

He woke on his stomach with Jimin still cosied up next to him, knee against the side of his thigh and a hand resting in the dip of his waist. 

Some birds outside were making nuisances of themselves, their repetitive chirping preventing him from falling back into sleep. He rolled over, reaching onto the bedside table for his glasses and fumbling them on so that he could clearly see Jimin.

He looked endearing, his eyebrows pulled together and black hair ruffled into a bird’s nest. Seokjin brought a hand up to run through it, fondness rising up in him - enough to quell the fear of new feelings. Maybe Jimin was interested? It wasn’t impossible, he hoped.

Underneath his hand, Jimin stirred, muttering something violent sounding until he gained his bearings and blinked up at Seokjin. This was the same man who practically kissed him the night before.

“Morning,” Seokjin said, gently extracting himself from bed and whatever it was stirring inside him. “You said the hike was at noon, right?”

“Yeah,” Jimin said, sitting up and stretching, his voice scratchy with sleep. “Breakfast?”

“Sounds good. Uh, you can shower first if you like.”

Jimin did, taking his time doing his hair and grooming, so that in the end they ate a hurried breakfast before rushing over to the spot where the group would meet, at the base of the hiking trail.

It was a little odd at first to see Jimin’s coworkers outside of their business wear, but then he spotted someone in a pair of spotless Balenciagas. That made more sense.

“Good morning,” said Hyungsik, ambling over upon spotting them. “Sleep well?”

“We did,” said Jimin. He was hovering close by Seokjin’s side, and now he slid a hand up Seokjin’s back. “I hear that the views are amazing from up top.”

“Yeah.” Hyungsik nodded. “They say you can see for miles.” 

The three of them chatted for a little while longer before everyone started up the trail and Hyungsik drifted away. Others greeted them, some of whom had clearly caught up on last night’s ‘gossip’ based on their not-so-sly eyes examining the closeness between them.

Kihyun, too, stopped to talk, bumping Jimin’s shoulder before leaning in, conspiratorial. “Hey, Jimin-ssi, just wanted to let the two of you know a little insider secret. Last night, Sowon-ah and I found these hot springs a little bit through the woods. I guess boss didn’t pay for that part of the package,” he laughed. “But I’ve got connections - password to the gatehouse is 4295. Try it out tonight. You and your boy deserve some relaxation.”

“Thanks,” said Jimin, nodding at him as he walked away then turning to Seokjin with wide eyes, lips pressed together as he tried to stop his laughter. 

“Guess I’m your boy, now.”

“Looks like it. Babe.” Jimin giggled as Seokjin whipped his head around to gape at him. “Not a fan of the pet name, hyung?”

Seokjin crossed his arms. “Do what you want, it’s your fake dating scheme.”

“I guess I will, then.” Well, that was ominous. 

They continued up the trial, which got steeper and steeper until Seokjin was pulling on Jimin’s arm and asking if they could take a quick break.

“Of course, hon.” He grabbed a water bottle from his pack and handed it to Seokjin before they both sat down on a nearby rock. 

Seokjin took a long sip of water before huffing a laugh. “Everyone’s ahead of us now, Jimin-ah, but I admire your dedication to the scheme. What kind of pet name would you like?” 

“You don’t need to call me any pet names, hyung. I just like when you say my name. And besides, I’m a dedicated man. You should know this by now.” Jimin knocked their knees together. Maybe it was strange to notice, but he had nice knees. Nice legs in general. Seokjin glanced up quickly once he realized he was staring, cheeks burning hotter on his already sweaty face. 

“Seokjin,” Jimin continued. “Random question, but would you say you’re someone who knows when people are flirting with you?”

“Huh? I mean, I don’t know? I don’t think anyone really does flirt with me?”

“Christ, hyung.” Jimin ran a hand over his face, his eyes trained to the canopy of the forest. “You just answered my question. You’ve got a heart of gold and the face of a deity, and you think people aren’t noticing?”

Seokjin’s heart, gold or not, thumped once. Maybe Jimin was right, and he was prone to not taking anyone’s advances seriously. But he’d been suspicious, lately. He’d been noticing things. And now this. “Jimin,” he began, meeting his eyes with a little hesitation. “Can I ask you…”

“What? Ask me anything.”

“I just.” Seokjin stood, water bottle still in hand. “No, never mind, I think I’m reading into things.”

Jimin stood as well, glancing over as a couple of strangers passed them on the path. “Come on,” he said, beckoning Seokjin to follow him further into the forest. Seokjin swatted away a fly, opening his mouth to ask Jimin why they were here when Jimin turned around abruptly. “You’re not reading into things, okay? Whatever you wanted to ask me? The answer is yes.”

Seokjin was at a loss for words with Jimin’s serious gaze trained on him, and when he glanced down he saw that he’d crushed the plastic water bottle in hand. “Jimin. I’m sorry - can you tell me what you mean, exactly?” 

Jimin took a step closer, and then Seokjin found himself with a tree against his back. “Seokjin-hyung.” Jimin took his hand, eyes fixed on the way Seokjin’s chest heaved, before he lifted their intertwined hands and pressed a kiss to the soft skin on Seokjin’s inner wrist.

“Jimin,” he said, feeling something akin to exhilaration fizz in his veins. He moved first, hand on Jimin’s shoulder to pull him forward so he was standing tiptoe on uneven tree roots. 

Jimin missed his mouth the first time, until he moved closer and steadied himself, one hand still in Seokjin’s and the other splayed behind his ear. 

The rough bark of the tree cut into his back and both of them were sticky with sweat, but Seokjin registered none of it. Not when Jimin’s fingers grasped at the strands of his hair as he crowded in closer, controlling the kiss. He licked into Seokjin’s mouth, bit his lower lip, pushed an insistent leg between Seokjin’s. 

Seokjin felt alive.

And when Jimin travelled down to press a wet and rough kiss to his pulse point, he couldn’t help the desperate way he let out a breath. An almost moan.

Jimin stopped to look up at him, eyes wide but dark. Seokjin watched the way his throat bobbed as he swallowed once, before he pulled him back up for another crashing kiss.

Their lips had just met when there was a shout from further down the path - someone calling after someone else. Seokjin pulled back quickly, almost knocking his head back against the trunk.

Jimin peered through the brush at the trail. “It’s alright, hyung. They’re not even looking this way.”

“Someone else might’ve noticed we’re missing, though.”

“And? They probably think we’re doing just this.” He giggled, nuzzling into Seokjin’s neck. After a moment, when the tension still hadn’t drained from Seokjin’s body, he pressed a kiss there and straightened up. “Alright, hyung. Let’s go rejoin them. I want to see that view.”

Seokjin nodded, following Jimin back out and letting go of his hand only reluctantly.

 

Jimin stayed close to his side for the rest of the afternoon, though he acted like everything was normal. Seokjin followed his lead, willing the blush away any time Jimin leaned in close to whisper something to him. There was a group lunch where they sat with Hyungsik once more and Seokjin tried not to feel like he was on a middle school field trip. 

After, he and Jimin visited the spa to take up the offer for couples massages.

The hours passed, and Seokjin was getting antsier and antsier, wishing he could be alone with Jimin already in complete solitude, though it scared him. He wished they were back at their apartment building or anywhere he could kiss Jimin senseless.

That desire was something he hadn’t felt in a while. It thrilled him as much as it left him unsteady.

 

Jimin held his hand again as they walked down the dirt path back to the hotel. Finally. 

As they were slipping in the back door, they caught an older man with distinguished silver hair. 

“Jimin,” he said, “Oh, how wonderful, I hadn’t seen you around yet.”

“Hello Mr. Ahn,” said Jimin, bowing his head and shoulders quickly. “How are you liking the retreat?”

“It’s wonderful. Just great. There was something I’d been meaning to talk to you about, actually. If you wouldn’t mind.”

“Of course.” He turned to Seokjin. “I’ll see you inside, hyung.” 

Seokjin nodded, smiled back at the man who had to be Jimin’s boss before stepping inside.

 

Jimin came back to the hotel room ten minutes later looking deep in thought. He shuffled off his shoes and sat heavily down on the bed.

“Everything alright?”

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, yeah. Nothing’s wrong or anything. Actually…” he trailed off.

“Actually what?”

“It was weird. You know I got promoted just a bit ago, but my boss - Mr. Ahn - just gave me the weirdest talk about how he wanted to groom me for an even higher position. Like higher than just an actuary. He thinks I have good people skills.”

Seokjin sat down on the duvet next to him. “You do. How do you feel about the whole thing, though? Is he talking CEO? Park Jimin, handsome young CEO? I thought such a thing only existed in dramas.”

Jimin chuckled. “And you’re Secretary Kim. Who moonlights as an amazing writer.”

“Alright,” Seokjin smiled. “So you’re happy, then? With his proposition.”

“Well. Happy might be a strong word. It’d be good, I guess. Good money.”

“Sure. But do whatever feels right.”

“I’ll do a lot of thinking, don’t you worry. Ugh, when I mention it to Taehyung he’s gonna try to get me to try join an artist colony again or something.”

“What a life that would be.” 

Jimin laughed. 

“Hey, I’m serious. Lounging in a field with my notebook and pen. And you cuddled up next to me, maybe.”

 That felt bold, but Jimin just smiled and leaned his head on Seokjin’s shoulder. “In that case, alright.”

There was still an hour before dinner, and now Seokjin was painfully aware that they were alone now. It was easy to tip his face down, slow, and let Jimin come up to meet him. 

The second time was just as exhilarating as the first; Jimin’s lips and his fit together seamlessly, and Jimin’s hands that fell to his waist balanced perfectly between steady and passionate.

“My boss asked about you,” he whispered after, one side of his mouth tilted up in a smile. “And I told him you were my boyfriend. You know what he said? ‘Ah. Good work, Jimin.’ Good work. What does that even mean?”

Seokjin giggled. “Maybe he was saying that I’m a catch?”

“Hm. Well that’s true enough.”

Jimin kissed him again, languid, before sitting up and stretching his arms. “God, I feel delicious after that massage. You?”

“Equally delicious. Like I’m just made of gelatin.” He flopped back in bed. “I guess we have to get ready for dinner?”

“Yep.” Jimin sighed. “But hey, I’ve got a plan. After we take advantage of the good food while keeping to our pretty selves, we can check out the hot springs Kihyun mentioned. Unwind even more.”

 

Dinner was a swanky affair with assigned seats and white tablecloths and delicious meat. And more prosecco. It all went by in a blur, though, with the constant reminder of the look in Jimin’s eye as he suggested they ‘unwind’ later. Seokjin felt like a pair of headphones left to tangle in a pocket for too long. Maybe he could use to be unwound.

They waited a polite amount of time before making their exit, staying at least 45 minutes after dessert was served, and Seokjin could see Jimin’s leg jiggling under the table as the man across from them chattered on about how young drivers in Seoul were a menace who deserved the highest rates known to man. 

“Well, Beomseok-ssi, I suppose it’s up to us to calculate those rates, isn’t it?” He took a pretend sip of his empty drink, smiled neatly, and began to stand. “I’m sorry, Seokjin here hasn’t been feeling well since dessert, I think I should take him back.”

Seokjin looked up at him in confusion before realising, standing as well with a hand pressed to his stomach. “Have a great night,” he said, shuffling after Jimin with a face that he hoped conveyed ‘indigestion’.

Once they were out in the hall, Jimin whirled around with a grin. “Good job following the plan there. I almost believed I had to get you to a toilet.”

“Yeah, thanks for making me the one with digestive issues, by the way.”

“You’re welcome, hyung. Now, let’s go find those hot springs.”

“You don’t want to change first?”

“Nah. No reason to. Besides, I’m a little impatient.”

“Yeah, I noticed.”

 

As Jimin punched in the code to the gatehouse, Seokjin looked around at the trees and the tall fence around the spring. 

“I wish these springs were allowed to exist naturally. So that everyone could use them, you know.”

“Sure,” Jimin agreed, pushing in the door. “That would be nice. If the earth’s resources weren’t seen as mere commodities a lot of problems would be resolved.”

“Tragedy of the commons, am I right.”

Jimin chuckled. “Exactly, hyung. Now come on, let’s get in there.”

Inside, there was a large pool and a few smaller ones, all abutting a rocky cliff face on one side. In the dark, the water looked normal, innocuous. Like a warm bath would look. 

Jimin was already stripping down beside Seokjin, so Seokjin kicked off his shoes and started on his shirt buttons. But when Jimin moved to pull down his briefs, Seokjin paused, eyes widening. “Woah there, what are you doing?” 

“This is how you’re meant to enjoy hot springs, hyung.”

“Yes, but I don’t feel like getting arrested for public indecency.”

“Because that’ll happen. Come on, hyung, I know you like to break the rules from time to time.”

“Only in some ways, Jiminie.” He threw his shirt and pants onto a nearby chair, leaving his own briefs on even as Jimin shed his and slipped into the water. 

“Ah, that’s nice,” Jimin sighed. 

Seokjin submerged himself quickly, wincing at first at the heat before he adjusted. When he tried to float on his back, he found that it didn’t work nearly as well here as in the sea. He couldn’t help but sigh in content, too.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Thanks again for bringing me, Jiminie. The last few months have been really dissatisfying for me - I’m glad to get out in the world.”

“Why dissatisfying?”

“Malaise, I guess. I haven’t published anything recently, and my other jobs are boring. I don’t talk to people enough, I think.”

“What about me?”

Seokjin opened his eyes to see that Jimin had drifted much closer. “You’ve been very good for me, Jimin-ah. I needed a friend like you.”

“Oh,” Jimin smiled. “I’m glad.” Then, “Do you usually kiss your friends?” 

Seokjin stood, now, blinking once at Jimin in the darkness. “Interesting segue, there.”

“I’m gonna assume the answer is no.”

“Well, not quite.” Seokjin grinned now. “It’s more like a square/rectangle situation, you know?”

“No, hyung, no I do not.”

“You know how every rectangle is a square, but not every square is a rectangle? Or is the other way around? I don’t know, I barely passed geometry. God knows how the fuck they made shapes so hard.” 

He paused, and looked over at Jimin watching him with one eyebrow raised. “Anyways. Everyone I kiss is my friend. But I don’t kiss all my friends. You’re my friend, Jimin-ah. But you’re also special.” He waded closer, wrapping his arms around Jimin’s neck in a surge of confidence.

“Surprisingly that makes sense,” he said as he slid one hand over Seokjin’s ribcage under the surface. “You’re special, too.”

“Oh, am I?”

“Yep. Here, come a little closer and let me tell you a secret.” Seokjin did, pursing his lips in a smile as he leaned his ear towards Jimin’s mouth. “Rumor is,” he whispered, “Park Jimin likes Kim Seokjin. Juicy gossip, right?”

Seokjin gasped. “No way. Ugh, what a hot couple.”

“Seokjin is sooo beautiful,” Jimin continued, nosing against his neck. “If only I could kiss him.”

Seokjin pulled back now, his smile stretched into a full one. “This is becoming a rather strange roleplay.”

Jimin laughed. “Your weirdness has rubbed off on me, I think.” 

“If you say so.” It felt right to slip a hand around Jimin’s neck and guide him upwards, just breathing against his lips for a second before leaning in to close that distance. 

Jimin kissed like he meant it, the way he did most things. He was vicious, too, moving them both forward until Seokjin’s lower back was against a rock, running his hands all over his back and squeezing his hips. Seokjin licked into his mouth, eager, his own hands exploratory but painfully aware of just how naked Jimin was. 

The heat of the water left them both flushed red across their chests and necks and lightheaded. The cool night air was a balm, and after a few minutes Seokjin was hoisting himself further up on the rock so he was mostly out of the water.

“Hyung,” Jimin whined, crowding in closer and placing his hands on Seokjin’s thighs. “Did you want me to get out of the water, too?”

Seokjin glanced down, glad he was already red. “Maybe you should stay in there, Jiminie. I’m just a little hot.”

Jimin shook his head, smiling. His eyes, though, were dark as he glanced up and down Seokjin’s body. “You look steamy, Jin-ah. I think I’d like to see you laid out like this, all rosy and glassy eyed.” He reached up a hand to muss up Seokjin’s hair. “Just like that.”

Seokjin shifted on the rock, feeling heat pool in his stomach. “I mean, we do have a king bed all to ourselves. If you wanted.” Jimin’s hands were inching further up his thighs, now.

“Is that what you want, hyung?” He tilted Seokjin’s chin up with a gentle hand, letting their eyes meet. He looked so earnest. “I’m at your beck and call.”

“Can we go back to the room, then?” Seokjin swallowed, slipping down so that he could press a kiss to Jimin’s neck. “I’d like that, a lot.”

Jimin nodded, one hand delicate against the sharpness of Seokjin’s shoulder blade. “Of course. Let’s get dried off, hyung.”

This time, Seokjin watched Jimin as he hopped out of the water and into his pants, a little transfixed at the lines of his body. Once they’d both put on enough clothing to avoid arrest, they snuck back out the gate and down the dirt path.

It was lucky that most of the others were still socializing at the dinner, so they could get back in without any awkward interactions. But still, the baseless thrill left Seokjin’s heart racing by the time they slipped back inside of their room. 

Jimin laughed breathlessly, not even waiting a moment before trapping Seokjin against the door and kissing his mouth open, sucking on his tongue. “Let’s get these damp clothes off,” he murmured. His fingers were on the buttons of Seokjin’s shirt at the same time as he marked up his neck, laving against his pulse point and making Seokjin breathe in a shallow breath.

Pants came off with difficulty, catching against still wet skin and making them stumble on their way to the bed. Jimin hadn’t put his underwear back on before and now as they landed on the duvet Seokjin was confronted by the sight of his half-hard dick sitting heavily between his thighs. He gulped. 

Jimin guided him to scoot up on the bed so he was resting against the pillows and kissed him messily. He was gone after only a moment, moving down and down along Seokjin’s body, wrapping a hand around his ankle before pressing a kiss to his shin, his kneecap.

Seokjin watched, entranced, his knees falling apart on reflex. “What are you doing?” he managed as Jimin lifted his calf slightly to kiss the skin behind his knee.

“Just paying you the attention you deserve.” He kissed up further on the inside of Seokjin’s thigh, causing him to jolt slightly in surprise. “Is this alright?” Soothing hands rubbed at his sides

“Yeah, yeah. It’s fine. It’s very good, I’m just apprehensive. My heart’s beating too fast, it’s making me shaky.”

A crease appeared between Jimin’s eyebrows. “Oh, hyung.” He crawled up again to kiss Seokjin, gentle, hands on his neck and running through his hair. They kissed like this for a few minutes, skin against skin. The AC was blowing right onto Seokjin, though, and with his briefs still wet he couldn’t help but shiver.

Jimin pulled back, glanced down at the goosebumps covering Seokjin’s torso. “Do you want to put on something dry?”

Seokjin hesitated for a moment, bringing his hands to his stomach. “I think… I think I’ll just take them off. But would you mind turning the AC off?”

“Of course.” Jimin rolled out of bed quickly, and while he was up Seokjin hooked his thumbs into the band of his briefs, pushing them down and kicking them away. It was good to be rid of that discomfort, at least.

When he glanced up he saw Jimin staring at him, but when he noticed Seokjin he had the decency to look caught. He crawled back into bed to hover over Seokjin. “Let’s warm you up now.”

Kissing was good, Seokjin thought. He already knew this, but it was really, really nice to be reminded of it. Now, though, with Jimin’s thigh between his own, he felt the air between them change.

As Jimin dipped down to kiss him deeper or bite at the bruises he’d left on his neck, he could his hardness. and it was definitely distracting him. 

Jimin was still moving down his chest, and then he was flicking his tongue around a nipple. Seokjin’s hands were wrapped around Jimin’s ribcage to his back, and they tightened, unconsciously urging the other man to do that again.

As Jimin shifted forward, his hips brushed against Seokjin’s and, although the friction wasn’t much, it was more than before. Seokjin let out a surprised moan. Jimin lifted his head, eyes blown, and came up to kiss Seokjin open-mouthed. 

“Seokjin,” he breathed. “Do that again.” He canted his hips forward, and Seokjin reward him with a gasp. His face screwed up as he moved his hands to Jimin’s hips and down to his ass. He could feel the tension of the muscles underneath the skin.

“Jimin. Please, please.”

“Okay, baby. Okay.” Jimin had been hard for longer, and drops of precome had already gathered at the head of his dick. He pressed his thumb in, pumped himself once before taking them both in hand. 

Now Seokjin moaned openly, feeling himself tense and his feet slide against the sheets.  

Jimin panted above him, braced with one hand on the other side of his head. Craving more contact between them, Seokjin slid his calf up against Jimin’s. He pressed his cheek against the pillow, eyes screwing shut. 

He wasn’t going to last very long with how wracked he felt by sensations, how his whole groin felt tight. And Jimin clearly knew what he was doing. When he let go of his own dick to rub the heel of his hand over Seokjin’s head, Seokjin’s eyes flew open. His lips were parted in a constant o, and it was easy to pull Jimin down for a heated kiss.

Jimin had made it his mission now for Seokjin to come. He sat back on his thighs, speeding up the pace of his hand on Seokjin and running his free hand all over his body, palm flat against the soft skin in a way that made Seokjin shiver. 

After another minute, he took his hand away, making Seokjin blink up at him with watery eyes. Then he leaned down and down until his mouth hovered near Seokjin’s hip bone.

“May I?”

He nodded weakly, smoothing his hand over Jimin’s cheek. When the heat of Jimin’s mouth enveloped just his head, it was already overwhelming. And then he was bringing a hand to the base of his dick and jerking it once at the same time as he ran his tongue over Seokjin’s slit. That was enough.

“A-Ah, Jimin,” he moaned at a volume he’d normally have the presence of mind to be ashamed of. But not now, not as his body twisted against the sheets and he felt shivers of pleasure from his toes to his hairline. 

Below him, Jimin had come on his chin that he made no effort to wipe off. He was touching himself now, hurried. Seokjin wanted to tell him to wait, but then Jimin was kissing him, and he could taste myself. 

Jimin pulled away, breathing heavily against his neck. Seokjin could feel Jimin’s arm bump his thigh as he sped up, and then there was come landing on his stomach as Jimin cried out. 

He looked down at it in a daze, replaying in his mind the exact sound Jimin had made.

 

After, they laid curled together. Tonight, Seokjin decided to forgo the matching pajama set, and their skin was warm where it touched.

“Jimin-ah,” he began, smoothing a hand down Jimin’s arm and tangling it in his. “What’s ‘Nevermind’ mean?”

“Ah.” He breathed in deeply, thinking. “It means a lot to me. It’s a reminder, really, not to be so obsessed with failure and success and my ideas of perfection. And to stop thinking so much about other people’s opinions.”

Seokjin studied Jimin’s face, thought how the confidence he exuded and the easiness of his smiles must have been hard won in this world.  “That sounds like a good life philosophy.”

“Mm.” Jimin rolled over so he could touch his nose to Seokjin’s. “Let’s be carefree together, hyung.”

 

They drove back the next morning after a final breakfast, happy to say goodbye to Jimin’s coworkers. Jimin turned up the radio and put his hand on Seokjin’s thigh as they cruised down the highway.

One weekend and Seokjin had gained himself… something. A boyfriend, maybe?

Only once they were at Seokjin’s door did he hesitate with his handle on the doorknob. “Jiminie,” he said. “I had a great time, thank you again for inviting me.”

“Thank you, hyung, for coming. I’d wanted to spend more time with you, but you really went above and beyond, there.”

Seokjin flushed. “Do you… would you want to spend some time together soon, then? I know we just got back-”

“No, I do. I definitely do. I’d like to take you out on a date, actually.”

“Oh.” His hand fell from the knob as Jimin stepped closer, hands finding a place on his hips. “I would like that.”

“Great. How’s Monday, then, just to give us a day to catch up on work? And this time, I’ll take you out to a nice fancy place with all your favorites. ”

“Ah, well if you insist. But then you have to let hyung take you out and treat you as well. Maybe we can go over to Myeong-dong for some street food.”

“Whatever you like, hyung.” Jimin rose on his toes to plant a chaste kiss on Seokjin’s lips. “I’ll text you tonight.”

 

And then it was just Seokjin alone with his thoughts, trying to get work done. He kept looking out the window, and he realized he missed Curry. 

He hadn’t planned to text Jimin just yet, but his phone was heavy in his pocket. After a moment, he sent out a quick message asking whether Curry was available for cuddles.

You like my cat better than me?  Jimin responded.

Only a little bit…

The message was marked as read, and three minutes later there was a knock on his window. He opened it to let Jimin, with Curry in his arms, inside.

“I don’t recall ordering a handsome boy with my cat delivery.”

“Consider it an extra.” Jimin plopped Curry down on his lap. “I’ll let you write, but I just wanted to see your face. Somehow I already miss it.”
Seokjin couldn’t help but smile. “Alright, Jimin-ah.” He took the younger man’s hand in his briefly, squeezing once before sending him off.

He returned Curry later in the day and went to bed looking forward to tomorrow’s date.

Jimin had come straight from work to meet him at the restaurant, and just like that time many weeks ago when they first had dinner together, Seokjin found himself intimidated. 

He observed from afar for a minute as Jimin pulled out his phone to look at his reflection and push back his bangs. Maybe not so intimidating.

“Jimin-ah,” he called as he approached. “Is this the place?”

Jimin looked up, face softening into his smile as he gave Seokjin a once over. “It is. I looked specifically for places that had lobster.” 

Seokjin felt his stomach grumble in anticipation. “Oh my,” he said as Jimin had pulled him into a hug, hand on his lower back. “You really know how to make a man swoon.” 

“I hope so. I planned the details of this date with that goal in mind. No worries, I’m prepared to catch you at any moment.”

Seokjin ordered the lobster. Did he really have any other choice? 

It was a nice dinner; they talked about work and books and human rights. Jimin laughed at all his jokes. 

At one point, though, the world decided to do him dirty and project the image of Jimin’s mouth on his dick into the forefront of his mind. His water promptly went down the wrong tube and he started coughing like a maniac.

Jimin took his hand, making his ears turn even redder. “You alright, hyung?”

He nodded, eyes teary and coughing the entire time. Curse his life. Curse Jimin for being so damn hot.

 

When they left the restaurant, there was a pleasant breeze in the end-of-summer air. Jimin drove them back home with the windows down, music loud.

About five minutes away from their building was when Seokjin felt his stomach overturn. He frowned, putting a hand to it and hoping it would settle. It didn’t. 

“Fuck,” he said, rolling down his window hurriedly before shoving his head out. Jimin looked over, eyes wide, before the light turned green and he had to go. “I just barfed on the side of your car.” 

“Oh, hyung, it’s alright. Let’s get you home, quick.” He seemed like he was ready to step on the gas, but thought better of it seeing Seokjin clutch his stomach.

As soon as they stepped inside, Seokjin ran to the bathroom to empty his stomach once more. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead and his thoughts getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Then there was Jimin helping him stumble into bed and placing a bowl to the side. 

The problem was, he wasn’t sick in the way that made you fall asleep, only in the way that made you lie there like a pitiful soul. “I’m sorry to ruin our first date like this,” he said, turning his head with some effort to look up at Jimin.

“Don’t say you’re sorry, hyungie. I’m the one who chose the restaurant that poisoned you.” He settled himself back on the pillows. “Are you sleepy?”

“No. Just uncomfortable. I should be fine by tomorrow, so no need to worry about me.”

“But I will worry. If you like, we can watch a movie? Or I can read to you.” Jimin moved his hand atop Seokjin’s fingers, brushing over the knuckles and crooked joints.

“You’d read to me?” 

Jimin nodded. 

“There’s a copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone on my bookshelf.” 

“Ah, my nerd hyung. I’ll go get it.”

Seokjin must’ve drifted off at some point, because the next thing he knew he was waking up and grabbing the bowl to retch into. He went into the bathroom, after, to keep at it with the toilet as his companion.

When he trudged back in, Jimin had put his book down on the night table and was looking at Seokjin with pitying eyes. “Here, drink some water,” he said softly. “Come on. It’s important to stay hydrated.” After Seokjin drank half the glass, he laid his head on Jimin’s lap, closing his heavy eyes.

“Thank you for staying.”

 

Jimin was still there, sitting up in bed, when Seokjin woke up feeling like his stomach was eating itself. The clock read 12:00 and the bright sun crept in around the blinds. 

“Jimin,” he said in a panic. “What are you doing here still?”

“I called out of work, hyung, don’t worry. And before you even think of questioning it, I’ve barely used my leave days this year. I can afford to use one making sure you don’t wake up alone.”

“Well - that’s fine then. But I’m awake, so if you have things you need to do-”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Jimin grinned.

“What? No, are you kidding me? No. I’m just trying to be considerate.”

“I know you are. But I’m fine here. I’m reading your first book.”
“Noo.”

“Shush, it’s wonderful. Now, how are you feeling?”

“Like my stomach has had its contents forcibly removed.”

“Poor baby. Shall I order some pho for us?”

“Yes, please.”

 

The two spent the day at home while Seokjin recovered - reading, watching youtube videos, and playing board games. And Seokjin may have been sick, but he hadn’t lost his competitive streak - he could still yowl with anger every time Jimin said ‘Sorry’. 

By the time the sun went down, Seokjin was well enough to eat the essential meal that was a bowl of rice, though he still felt weary and somewhat feverish. 

In the end, Jimin crawled back in bed with him to stay another night. When he leaned over to give Seokjin a kiss, Seokjin stopped him. 

“I’m gross right now,” he whined.

“You brushed your teeth a minute ago.”

Seokjin snuggled closer. “Yeah, I guess so.” He wasn’t expecting Jimin to kiss him the way he did, but he was lucid enough to reciprocate, opening his mouth and smoothing his palm under Jimin’s shirt before he had to lay back down.

“Look at us,” he said. “So domestic already, sharing my bed all peacefully.”

“We do get along well, don’t we?”

 “Mm.”

“Seokjin-hyung, you know I like you a lot, right?”

Seokjin opened his eyes to meet Jimin’s and was struck by the sincerity in them. “I do, Jimin-ah, I think. And you know I like you a lot, too? I really am grateful for today - and all the days you’ve made me happy.”

Jimin pulled him closer in his arms so that Seokjin’s nose pressed into his sternum. “Good, then. I’m happy I made you happy.

At 6 am Jimin kissed him on the cheek and tiptoed back to his apartment to get ready for work. 

Later that night, he brought Seokjin juk and ginseng from a small store Seokjin always walked by on his way to the market. They watched a movie on Seokjin’s couch, getting distracted halfway through by each other and spending the next half hour making out. Seokjin on Jimin’s lap, Jimin’s hands up his sweater until he got so dizzy they had to stop.

 

Their next actual date night was scheduled for Saturday, and while Seokjin was very much looking forward to being able to eat real food again, he was also antsy for other reasons.

Those being, he wanted Jimin to fuck him. And maybe his ex was right about him, because late at night when he thought about it, he would bury his face in his pillow as his core heated up.

Everytime Jimin touched him, it fueled his need. And Jimin was touchy - hands stroking through his hair, smoothing over his thighs, gripping his hips.

 

On Saturday, Jimin’s hand found its way to his knee as he drove them over to Myeong-dong. 

“What do you want to eat tonight, hyung? Your reward for the past couple of days?”

“Hmm. I think I’d like to start with takoyaki. Maybe some hameul pajeon, then some sort of more filling thing - any sort of meat. Then hotteok to finish the night off.”

“You’re not turned off from seafood, now?”

“That would be a sad thing indeed, to never eat something again just cause I barfed it up.”

“Sure,” Jimin laughed. “I guess it would.”

The streets of Myeong-dong were busy as always, with some stalls having long lines of people queueing up. Other visitors darted in and out of the stores that lined the way. But Seokjin just pulled Jimin along, looking for the takoyaki stall he went to everytime. 

As soon as they had the paper trays in hand, Jimin whipped out his phone and held it up.

“What are you doing?” Seokjin asked as he brought one to his lips. He was quickly distracted, though, when he bit in and flavor exploded in his mouth. “Mm,” he groaned. “Delicious.”

“I’m filming a series of you eating street food. I think the world has been deprived.”

Seokjin opened his eyes, looking at the camera. “Here, try,” he said, picking a takoyaki and holding it to the camera with his mouth pursed in an ‘o’.

Jimin giggled. “You’re a natural, hyung. Stardom awaits.”

Jimin filmed some more as he ate seafood pancakes and dakkochi. In the end, they decided on patbingsu to finish it all off, as the crowded street and warm foods had made them a little hot.

With dessert in hand, they wandered away from the business and into the night breeze, walking aimlessly.

“How was work, Jimin-ah? Has your boss said anymore about the new promotion?”

“Oh.” Jimin seemed surprised. “He hasn’t mentioned it, and to be honest I haven’t even thought about it.”

“Really? Is it something you wantf?”

He was quiet for a while. “It’s not something I really want is all I can say for now. I know, I’m sure you’re surprised, me being such an overachiever and all.” He rolled his eyes, self-deprecating. 

“No, I wasn’t thinking that at all. In fact, I think it’s good that you’re taking a moment to pause and consider it. We should all do what we want, really.”

“Sage advice, hyung. Chaotic, but sage.”

 

They picked up soju at a mart on their way back, and then settled in to Jimin’s couch. Curry was laying on top of the arm rest, hoping for some petting. 

“That was fun,” said Jimin, showing him a video of his first bite of patbingsu. In it, his eyes were sparkling as he gazed behind the camera - it was bizarre to see the way he looked at Jimin on film. To see without any guise how much he had grown to care for him these past months.

“Very fun. I can’t wait to achieve youtube stardom. I think it will have many perks.”

“Oh, I can imagine. You’d be beloved by the internet for your beauty and love of food. People would send you free stuff all the time.”

“Don’t worry, I’d put some of the free stuff aside for my trusty cameraman.”

“Generous,” Jimin scoffed. Their thighs were flush against one another so that Jimin could share the photos, but instead of pulling away he now rested his head on Seokjin’s shoulder and brought his hand to his hip. His other hand was gently running over Curry’s back, making her purr gently.

The whole scenario was making Seokjin’s heart feel warm, and when he leaned his head against the top of Jimin’s, he couldn’t help but sigh in content.

“What is it, hyung?”

“I’m just thinking. A lot’s changed.” 

“Like?”

“You’ve seen me vomit more times than I prefer, for one.”

Jimin laughed. “Speaking of that… I actually liked it.”

“What?” Seokjin’s eyebrows rose in horror, and Jimin laughed even more.

“No, no, no. Not the vomit itself. But taking care of you. You know, you said you felt domestic. I liked that aspect a lot.”

“So what you’re saying is… you want to start a board game club with me?”
“As long as you’ll have me.”

“I’d be very happy to, Park Jimin.” He tilted Jimin’s chin up with a finger to kiss him gently.

When he pulled away, he pulled up Netflix and went to his list. “Hey, wanna watch Parasite ? Might actually be good, unlike your choice in movie.”

Jimin stuck out his tongue. “I have been meaning to watch that.”

“Good, let’s do it, then.”

There was a pause. “Maybe not tonight.”

“What? Why not?”

“Well, I kind of want to actually see it.”

“And you can. Right now.”

“It’s just… I was envisioning this as more of a netflix and chill scenario.”

Seokjin blinked at him, feeling his ears heat up. “Jimin-ah. As far as I know, we’re now dating. And we’ve already done some… stuff. If you want to fuck just say it outright, no need to start off pawing me during a movie like some insecure teen.”

“Hyung!” Jimin’s mouth fell open. “How bold of you.” He motioned for Seokjin to come closer on the couch again and put his hands on his waist. “I like it.”

Seokjin couldn’t help but smile, shaking his head as he moved onto Jimin’s lap.

“I like your little grin, hyung,” said Jimin. “When you smile and one side pulls up before the other.”

“Oh. I hadn’t noticed I do that.”

“I guess I look at you a lot.” Despite the joking between them, Seokjin could hear genuine affection in Jimin’s voice, now. He bent his head to press their lips together, wrapping his arms around Jimin’s shoulders and really melting into him like he’d wanted to do all week. 

Things quickly heated up from there, with Jimin licking into his mouth and moving his hands from his waist to his thighs until they wandered dangerously close to his ass.

“Maybe we should go into your bedroom,” Seokjin suggested, hearing how out of breath he sounded. Jimin nodded, and as they made their way there, he realized. “I’ve never actually been in your room.”

“Oh yeah,” said Jimin. “I wished I had you in my bedroom many a time, though.”

“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m just saying - you know when you came over with my friends?”

“Yeah?”

“I was thirsting after you like nobody’s business that night.”

“Horndog,” Seokjin muttered. “Even back then, really?”

Jimin raised an eyebrow, guiding him by the hand so they were sitting on the bed. “I mean, it was apparent by then that you were an absolute sweetheart in addition to being insanely beautiful. So yeah.”

Seokjin covered his eyes to hide his flushed face. “Flatterer.” Jimin’s hands moved his away, and then they were laying down with Jimin moving over him, opening his mouth once more with a kiss. 

His teeth tugged on Seokjin’s full lower lip before he moved down, sucking kisses into the skin of his neck. “Beautiful hyung,” he murmured.

Seokjin whined, but it came out sounding more like a moan. Jimin’s loose t-shirt was slipping around his torso, and Seokjin’s hands easily made their way underneath. His fingers were drawn to the taut skin of his ribcage where black ink was scrawled and to the hard ridges of muscles on Jimin’s stomach. 

“Jiminie,” he said, sliding the fabric of his shirt up until Jimin got the idea and slipped it over his head, before pushing the hem of Seokjin’s sweater up and pressing a wet kiss to his stomach. Seokjin squirmed, ticklish. “Hey!” 

Jimin just grinned. “Can I?” Seokjin nodded, and lifted his arms as Jimin pulled off his sweater and threw it to the side. He watched as Jimin’s eyes roved over him, the flush that had worked its way down to his chest. “What you do want tonight, hyung?”

Seokjin just wrapped his legs around Jimin’s waist in response, lowering him so their bodies were flush and kissing him once more. He wanted this. This feeling, as much as he could have of it.

The kiss became messier and messier until Jimin was kicking off his jeans and helping Seokjin shimmy his off as well. He did the same routine as the other night, kissing Seokjin’s ankle and knee and inner thigh. Seokjin giggled. “Hey, why don’t you let me give that a try?”

They shifted, losing balanced only a little as they did until it was Jimin propped against the pillows, one knee up.

“So handsome, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin said softly, moving forward so he could smooth his hands up Jimin’s calves , kissing one kneecap, a hipbone, smiling into Jimin’s skin as he pressed his lips against his collarbone. “So sweet, too.”

“Hyung.” Jimin buried his hand in Seokjin’s hair and tugged him up for a kiss. With Seokjin positioned between Jimin’s spread legs, he could feel his arousal pressing into his hip - he shifted so they pressed together, exhaling shakily into Jimin’s mouth.

“Ah,” he whimpered as Jimin ground up into him; the flimsy fabric of their briefs was too little for him not to feel everything. But he wanted more. He moved down Jimin’s body, hands following his path, until his mouth hovered over him. “May I? I didn’t get a chance last time, and I’ve been thinking about it.”

Jimin nodded quickly. “You have been?”

“Mm.” He hooked his fingers into the waistband of Jimin’s briefs, eyes closing in bliss at the feeling of Jimin’s hand smoothing over his hair. 

Jimin was hard enough that some precome had beaded at the head of his cock - Seokjin licked it off, steadying Jimin with one hand at the base before taking the whole head into his mouth and relishing in the low groan from above.

He went down as far as he could, breathing heavily through his nose at sensation of something so large hitting his throat. He pressed his tongue up against the shaft and smoothed his hands up Jimin’s torso at the same time, running a palm over hardened nipples.

After a minute, he couldn’t help but rut his hips against the bed in hopes of some friction, and Jimin pressed on his shoulder.

“Wait, Seokjin-” he paused, at a loss for words as Seokjin pulled off, a string of saliva following his lips. Then, Seokjin found himself flipped over, with Jimin bearing down on him for a kiss, one hand pressing against him through his underwear. “Can I fuck you?”

Seokjin nodded, biting his lip and shifting against the sheets as Jimin’s hand pressed more insistently. “A-ah, please, Jimin-ah.” He raised his hips, feet scrabbling for purchase as he pushed the last scrap of fabric off and drew Jimin back down to him. His skin was warm; he was all soft lips as he met Seokjin in the middle.

There was the usual scrabble for lube and condoms stashed away in nightstands, and then Seokjin’s knees were being pushed up. 

Jimin was slow about it as he stretched him; he kept his eyes on Seokjin throughout, adoring and reassuring. Seokjin’s chest heaved, lips parted at the sensation that always tread the line between odd and pleasurable. 

It was wet, he could feel that much - Jimin had been generous with the lube. Soon, his fingers were delving deeper, finding their way to the spot that made Seokjin screw his eyes shut and moan brokenly.

“You like it, hyung? Feels good?”

“Yes, Jimin. You’re so good at this. Good for me.”

A pillow was placed under Seokjin’s hips, hands smoothing down the taper of his waist. “You ready?”

“Yeah,” he breathed. And then Jimin was pushing in, and another shiver made its way down Seokjin’s body, his hands tightening on Jimin’s shoulders. 

It had been so long, and Seokjin was overwhelmed. People talked about sex in a lot of ways. For him, right now, it was about how intimate this felt. 

That said, he could feel tears pricking the corners of his eyes as Jimin drove into him time after time and pleasure wracked his body. He could hear himself moaning, vaguely, and then those moans were swallowed down by a kiss. 

A hand wrapped around his dick, and minutes later it was over. Jimin pulled out, and Seokjin lifted a lazy hand to jerk him off until he was coming across his stomach.

“You keep coming on me,” he mumbled, pouting up at a flushed and dark-eyed Jimin.

Jimin’s smiled, plopping down next to him. “I guess I like it.”

“Alrighty then. I’m down.”

“Good to hear.” Jimin’s hand was tracing patterns over his arm, now, the swell of his shoulder. He pulled Seokjin in for another kiss, just a press of the lips.

They were silent as they caught their breath, but it was an easy silence. Jimin didn’t have to say anything for Seokjin to know what this meant to them both. To know that he wouldn’t fall asleep alone tonight, but wrapped around Jimin.

 

After they cleaned up and got ready for bed, Seokjin found himself trailing over to the window. It was dark out now, and when he peered out at the street below the fire escape it was a streak of red brake lights. The world bustled around him, without him, and he didn’t mind. 

Curry hopped up onto the window ledge, then, and let him scoop her up.  He stayed for a minute, enjoyed the night breeze and the sound of traffic, which shouldn’t have been as soothing as it was. 

Suddenly, arms wrapped around his waist. “What are you two up to?” Jimin asked softly.

“Thinking, as usual.” 

“About anything special?”

“Just how - come here - when you press your forehead against the glass, everything falls away. We’re just observers.” Jimin joined him, shoulder brushing his as he came close and looked down, down at the city below. 

He hummed in acknowledgment. “Yeah, I get it. But you're right next to me, hyung. I’m too aware of that.”

Seokjin glanced over at him, eyes glimmering, before nodding, slow. “It is different with you by my side. Because then, I only want to be right here.”