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i can only think about you

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From the moment when Seokjin opens the door, Jimin can tell Seokjin has his hard, protective shell on. Seokjin has a few—it’s not the don’t look at or talk to me, I want to be invisible one, but it could be the don’t get emotional at me, I can’t handle it or don’t expect me to play along, I have my own bits to do ones.

“Hyung looks great for this early in the morning,” Jimin says as Seokjin lets him in.

“I look like I’m dying, but thank you, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says. “You have my permission to lie to my face when I’m on my deathbed.”

Don’t expect me to play along it is. “I’ll be there,” Jimin tries to say, but Seokjin is already yelling for Jeongguk, who apparently crashed on Seokjin’s couch last night after dinner rather than take the elevator up two more stories to sleep in his own bed like the rest of them did.

“Why are we doing breakfast?” Jeongguk sniffles blearily from the backseat once Seokjin’s bundled them down to the garage and into his car. He’s wearing one of Seokjin’s hoodies, hood pulled up and shades on. “We should have done brunch. Lunch. Dinner, even.”

“Are you complaining, Jeongguk-ah?” Seokjin’s tone of surprise is only half-joking. He accelerates too quickly, and Jimin’s own hangover makes its presence known as the back of his head slams into his own headrest.

“Don’t kill us!” Jeongguk yelps, which Seokjin takes as a personal challenge to drive as recklessly as possible to the cafe. Jeongguk shrieks like hell the entire time, obviously enjoying it, so Jimin holds his tongue and holds on.

Seokjin and Jeongguk spend the whole meal going back and forth., back and forth, sniping and bantering and yelling and laughing. Jimin knows by now: it’s their thing. It’s the way they talk. It’s their last chance to do it. He holds his tongue again. He’s gotten good at it.

They’re all quiet on the drive back. Jimin goes on up to the dorm when they arrive to give the two a second alone. He knows Jeongguk probably has something heartfelt that he wants to say with as small an audience as possible, and that with no one else around, Seokjin can respond sincerely.

Hoseok is puttering around the kitchen in the dorm, making coffee and tidying even though the cleaner is coming the next day. “Back already?” he asks when Jimin comes in.

“From breakfast. Bookstore is next. I thought you’d be gone longer?”

“Me too, but Seongwoo-ssi had another meeting to run off to.” He pours the coffee into his waiting go cup and says nonchalantly, “Can I tag along?”

And so the Jin-and-JK Show transitions smoothly into the Jin-and-J Hope Show. Seokjin latches onto Hobi and stays that way the whole walk from their building to the bookstore. Jimin laughs, like he always does, and tags along, like he always does.

“I’m going to buy an entire series,” Seokjin says once they’re at the store. “I will not spend the next six weeks bored out of my mind.”

“Some people write letters in their downtime,” says Jimin. He flips through one of the hardcovers in the central display. “Yoongi says his hyung sent a letter to his girlfriend every other day.”

Seokjin looks revolted. “Why?” is all he can manage to say. Hoseok cracks up, shrieking hysterically, which sets Seokjin off, and then Jimin has to laugh along or look like a moron.

It’s fine. The clerk comes over and talks Seokjin through his personal manga recommendations. Jimin tries to distract himself with a—he picks something off a shelf at random—noona romance, while Hoseok hovers at his elbow, loudly rattling the ice in his ever-present coffee cup.

“How come you get the whole morning?” Hoseok says. “When me and Namjoon and Yoongi-hyung have to share the afternoon slash early evening.”

Jimin shrugs, then bats his eyelashes. “I’m just such a joy to be around. Aren’t I, hyung?” He links his arm with Hoseok’s, leaning in, coy and breathless. “Aren’t I?”

Hoseok laughs, taps him lightly on the nose with one finger, and then pushes him away with the same finger. “You know you are, Jiminie.”

“Tell me, then,” Jimin says, even though his eyes are on Seokjin as he gesticulates, wildly, to the clerk as they pack up his twenty-one volume box set of Bleach.

“You’re a joy to be around, Jiminie!” Hoseok says in his baby voice. He jerks Jimin around with their linked arms. “Jimin, Jimin, Jimin, Jimin—”

“Hoseok-ah!” Seokijn rejoins them, shopping bag hooked over the crook of his arm. “Are you trying to make it Jimin’s last day as well?”

Jimin pulls away from Hoseok. “You’re not dying, hyung.”

“No more than the rest of us,” Seokjin says, sardonic. “I need more coffee.”

Hoseok tosses his empty cup into the trash. “Me too. Let’s go.”

They go get coffee. Then Hoseok wants to check out the latest collection at one of his favorite stores, so they call a car and go to check it out. Then, Hoseok being Hoseok, that turns into checking out three other stores and then it’s nearly five o’clock and he and Seokjin are running late to meet Yoongi and Namjoon.

And so Jimin’s supposed-to-be-solo outing with Seokjin ends with Hoseok and Seokjin in one car, headed to Yoongi’s current favorite bar, and Jimin and all their shopping bags in another, headed back to the apartment complex. He puts his Airpods in and queues up one of Yoongi’s angriest workout mixes for the drive.

Except he’s not angry. Not really. He tries to sift through the threads of emotion and follow them to words. He’s… melancholic. Sad.

He laughs humorlessly to himself. Isn't putting a name to it supposed to make him feel better? If anything, he feels worse.

He lets himself into Seokjin’s apartment. He can’t face the empty dorm—or, worse, Jeongguk, if he’s there alone. Instead, he curls up on Seokjin’s pristine couch, under one of his blankets, and video calls Taehyung.

It rings for almost a full minute before Taehyung picks up. The video is shitty quality when it connects. They were shooting in the wilderness first, Jimin remembers, but he has no idea when they’re actually starting. “Jiminie!” Taehyung exclaims immediately.

“Is now okay to talk? Are you free?”

“I’m always free for you,” Taehyung says. The video resolves a little and Jimin can tell he’s in a hotel room. “How are you?”

Jimin shrugs. “Where are you?” he asks instead.

“The hotel in Rio, we just got here. We rehearse here for a week and then we shoot starting next Tuesday. It’s hot.” He sticks his tongue out and pants like a dog to prove the point. Jimin laughs in spite of himself. “And it’ll be even worse in the jungle.”

“Are you excited?”

“So excited.” He beams. It feels as though it’s emanating through the screen of Jimin’s phone, radiating out and into his heart. He tries to let it calm him. “How’s hyung? We texted a bit earlier but he didn’t really say how he was feeling.”

“He’s with the hyungs. They’re at that bar Yoongi-hyung likes.”

“Mmm.” It’s quiet. Then Taehyung says, “How are you doing?”

Jimin sighs. “I’m okay, Taetae.” The little Jimin in the corner of his screen looks so tired. Jimin tries to fix his hair, but stops when Taehyung starts to talk again.

“Are you? I’m a little worried. You haven’t been yourself. I know it’s a lot of change.”

“It is,” Jimin agrees. “But I’ll be fine, Taetae.” He smiled, big and bright. “You know me. I’m always fine.”

“That sounds like Hobi-hyung, not you,” Taehyung says, but Jimin can tell he’s reassured.

There’s a sound in the background and Taehyung’s face dips out of the frame as he looks over his shoulder. “Okay, one minute,” he says to whoever. He looks back at Jimin. “Jimin-ah, I have to go. I’ll call you tomorrow?”

“Okay, I love you.”

“Love you!” Taehyung chirps, then he’s gone.

Seokjin’s apartment is cozy and beautifully furnished, but it’s always felt terrifyingly empty to Jimin. There’s no pile of shoes by the front door, or sweatshirts draped over the back of the couch, or loud gaming echoing through the entire apartment from someone’s bedroom. There’s the tick of the clock on the mantel, and the sound of Jimin’s breath in his own ears.

Jimin thinks about putting on some music, or turning on the TV, but it’s just so much easier to tuck himself further under the blanket and close his eyes. He times his breathing to the clock tick—in, two, three, four, out, two, three, four—and then he’s asleep—

—only to be woken up by Hoseok’s cold hands cupping his face. He jerks away and opens his eyes to find Hoseok and Seokjin above him, laughing, with Namjoon trying not to smile behind them.

“Morning, Jiminie,” Hoseok says.

"Is it really?" Jimin asks, horrified. It's still dark outside, but Seokjin's car was coming before sunrise anyway.

Seokjin nods somberly but Hoseok laughs and goes, "No, it's not even ten pm," then, "Ouch!" when Seokjin whacks him for ruining the joke.

“You’re so mean,” Jimin whines. He pulls the blanket over his head.

“I told them to leave you alone,” comes Yoongi’s voice.

“Wow, thanks, hyung.”

“If someone falls asleep on my couch, it’s my legal right to mess with them,” says Seokjin. Jimin peeks out from under the blanket; Hoseok and Seokjin are in the kitchen, filling water glasses. Namjoon is sitting on the other couch, scrolling through his phone. Yoongi comes over to the couch and pokes at Jimin’s feet until he moves them and Yoongi can sit down.

“How was the bar?” Jimin asks him.

“Nice. Hobi tried to drink an entire glass of whisky by himself and almost hurled.”

Jimin snorts. “Embarrassing, hyung,” he says as Hoseok hands water glasses around. Hoseok makes like he’s going to throw one of them in Jimin’s face.

“I did it in honor of hyung,” he says. “It’s admirable, actually.” He sits on top of Jimin’s knees.

Jimin yells, more out of habit than out of pain. Hoseok laughs, and then Seokjin—who was fetching a bottle of wine, not water—comes over and sits on top of Hoseok, which makes Jimin’s yelling definitely skew more towards pain. Hoseok is yelling, too, now, and Seokjin is laughing, and Namjoon is laughing at them.

Jimin eventually succeeds in shoving the two of them off. He’s laughing in spite of himself, stomach hurting in addition to his knees. “You’re awful! Just because we’re on hiatus doesn’t mean I don’t need functioning knees!”

“He needs his knees,” Namjoon says in English, nodding philosophically.

Seokjin extricates himself from Hoseok and stands. “Saying things in that tone doesn’t make them profound, Namjoon-ah.”

“Saying them in English, however…” Yoongi says. He stands and stretches like a cat. “Hyung, I’m sorry, I have to go to bed.”

“Me too,” says Namjoon, “and not because you just roasted me.”

“You’re both traitors, it’s barely even ten,” Seokjin grumbles, but gets up and walks them to the door and hugs them all the same.

“Gonna miss you, hyung,” Namjoon says in an undertone. Jimin averts his eyes. Hoseok, laying on the floor, is scrolling through Twitter and Jimin watches some choreography clip over his shoulder.

Now Yoongi is talking, but he (unlike Namjoon) can actually speak quietly, and Jimin can’t hear what he says. He and Seokjin hug again, and then Seokjin shoos them out the door. He comes back to sit on the end of the couch and Jimin pretends not to see him wipe his eyes.

“Oh shit,” Hoseok goes suddenly. He sits up. “I have to catch my flight. Oh my god, I almost forgot.”

“Hoseok-ah,” Seokjin groans. “You’re kidding.”

“Seijin only booked it for me last week, hyung, I’m sorry.” He gets to his feet. “Come on, don’t be mad.” He hoists Seokjin up from the couch for a hug. “Don’t be mad. I love you.”

Seokjin makes some irritated noises but lets Hoseok sway him back and forth like a baby. “What am I going to do without you, Hoseok-ah?” he says quietly into Hoseok’s shoulder.

“Cry,” Hoseok suggests.

“Only if you do too,” Seokjin says. He pulls away. Hoseok makes an exaggerated cry face and laughs; Seokjin looks over at Jimin. “Jimin-ah will cry with me.”

“I have a really hard time picturing that, hyung,” says Jimin.

Seokjin shrugs, and plops himself onto the floor. “Drink with me, then.”

Hoseok pats Jimin’s shoulder on his way to the door. “You’re in good hands, hyung.”

“Say hello to your family for us,” Jimin tells him.

“I will! Bye, hyung!”

“Bye,” Seokjin says. He’s already uncorking the wine bottle with his fancy electric wine opener. He pours two glasses as Hoseok pulls the door closed behind him, and offers one to Jimin.

Jimin slides off the couch to sit on the floor opposite him. He accepts the glass. They drink in silence for an awkward moment.

“Ah! I should tweet,” Seokjin exclaims suddenly. He fumbles for his phone and flips through his recent selfies. “This one?”

It’s of him and Yoongi in the bar. It must have been early in the night; neither of them look as red or bleary-eyed as they did when they got back. For some reason, in looking at the photo, it strikes Jimin just how long Seokjin’s hair has gotten. It’s almost curling in the back, like how it looked when they first met.

And that realization sends him into the spiral he’s been avoiding the whole night. The whole month since the enlistment date was selected, really. Or—Christ, the years since that quiet night, just days before I Need U would drop, when they were delirious on lack of sleep and anxiety and the bone-deep terror that nothing they did was ever going to matter. That was the only reason Jimin had done and said what he had done and said that night.

That night, when Seokjin had told him, It’s a phase, and there’s too much at stake. And then, finally, when Jimin wouldn’t let it go, completely obstinate in the ugly stubbornness of his youth, When you’re older, Jimin-ah. Then we can talk.

A conversation that Seokjin has certainly all but forgotten, obscured by everything that came along with I Need U, followed closely by the start of his relationship with Minji, which was in turn followed by America, and then the dissolution of his relationship with Minji, and now hiatus and enlistment.

But Jimin, despite his best efforts, has not forgotten. Every time he’d tried to kill off that tiny bit of hope, it would bloom again. Seokjin never gave him any sign or indication or encouragement. But then, Jimin didn’t need it.

Seokjin is still sitting there, phone held out for Jimin to sign off on the photo. He raises his eyebrows as Jimin stares at the photo, glazed. It takes him a moment to retrace his steps back to the present moment, and another to wall the past off in his head. Because that’s what it is—the past.

“Perfect. Post it,” he says, and Seokjin does, with a simple hi as the caption.

“I thought they would be more sad,” Jimin says as he watches the replies start to pour in. He realizes he’s jiggling his foot, shaking the coffee table enough that it’s creaking. He stops himself. “But everyone is happy we’re resting.”

“That you’re resting,” Seokjin says, somewhat grumpy. “I’m not going to be resting.”

“For six weeks, hyung. Then won’t you be sitting behind a desk somewhere for twenty months?”

Seokjin doesn’t respond. He’s scrolling through his Twitter feed. “I’m not going to look good bald,” he says. He sets his phone aside and leans back on his elbows on the carpet. He wrinkles his nose at Jimin. “Can you imagine it?”

Jimin holds up a hand, squinting as he blocks out Seokjin’s hair with a finger. “I think maybe it’ll be good there won’t be any cameras.” Seokjin snorts and rolls his eyes. “What, I thought I was only supposed to lie to you on your deathbed!”

“Let’s lift the ban on lying just for tonight. Please lie to me,” Seokjin says.

Jimin laughs, but it feels bad, immediately. “I don’t want to lie to you, hyung,” he says.

“Okay, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says easily. He’s fully laying on the floor now, hair fanned out around his head like a halo. His eyes are closed. “Don’t lie to me. Tell me the truth.”

Jimin’s breath catches in his throat for a second. He opens his mouth, then closes it. He’s suddenly aware of the tick… tick… tick of the clock once again.

“I’m really going to miss you, hyung,” he says.

Seokjin cracks an eye to look at him. “You’re going to be fine, Jimin-ah. The album is sounding great.”

“Both things can be true,” says Jimin, annoyed. “Me missing you doesn’t negate my album being good.”

“I’m just saying. It’s like you won’t even notice I’m gone.” Seokjin sits up, wine glass held out precariously to the side.

Jimin’s annoyance is growing into anger. “Do you not want me to miss you or something?”

“What?” Seokjin laughs. “No, of course not. I want you to miss me. Just don’t make yourself sad for no reason.”

Jimin opens his mouth to retort, but just then, Seokjin’s phone starts ringing. He sighs and flips it over to see who it is. “Fuck.” He looks at Jimin, eyes wide and fearful.

There are only a few people who make Seokjin react like that when they call. “Who is it?”

Seokjin shows him the screen. It’s Minji. Seokjin still has a contact photo for her; it’s a picture of her and Seokjin together from last summer, when Seokjin’s hair was blonde.

“Don’t answer,” Jimin says.

Seokjin looks at the screen again. “I think…” he starts to say, but trails off. He hits answer. Sorry, he mouths at Jimin, and stands to go in the other room. “Minji-yah,” he says. “Hello.”

Jimin wants to scream. He settles for draining the rest of his wine and refilling his glass. He waits, minutes creeping by until he can’t stand it anymore. He texts Yoongi; along with Jimin, he was the one most present for the excruciating breakdown of the relationship, and he’s also the one most likely to still be awake.

Minji called.

What the fuck?! Yoongi texts back in less than a minute. Hyung didn’t pick up, did he?

They’re talking right now.

Idiot. I’m going to kill him if he goes over there.

Seokjin re-emerges. He looks shellshocked. He moves, very slowly, into the living room and sits back down on the floor.

“Well?” Jimin demands, when he’s silent. “What did she say?”

“She wants me to come over,” Seokjin says.

Jimin has to concentrate to keep his body language neutral. The wine helps. He takes another sip. “Hyung…” he starts to say.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going,” Seokjin says baldly. He’s looking down at his phone. He snorts a laugh. “Yoongi just texted me. You told him?”

Jimin makes a of course I texted him face. “I was worried.”

Seokjin throws his phone to the side. “‘ BTS Jin hooks up with ex-girlfriend on the eve of his enlistment, spends the next two years regretting it,’” he narrates, deadpan. Jimin snorts and salutes Seokjin with his glass, and they both drain theirs.

Seokjin grimaces at the empty cup. “I think it’s officially a liquor night.”

Jimin laughs, and gets up before Seokjin can. “Allow me.”

Seokjin puts on some music while Jimin fixes them both vodka sodas. For a moment, it’s like any other Tuesday night in Seokjin’s apartment.

“Ah, just like any other day,” Seokjin says happily when Jimin brings his drink over. “Thank you, Jiminie.”

“Anything for you, hyung,” Jimin says. He sits back on the couch. “Come over here with me. Why are you on the floor?”

“I’m going to miss my carpet,” Seokjin says, but he comes and sits with Jimin all the same, leaning against the opposite arm rest, feet up on the center cushion, just like Jimin.

They drink in silence once again, but this time it’s comfortable. Jimin scoots forward just a bit so he can press his feet lightly on top of Seokjin’s. “What did Minji say?”

“Ugh,” Seokjin groans. He tips his head back onto the armrest, staring up at the ceiling.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“It was nothing. Some bullshit.”

“The usual, then.”

“The usual.” Seokjin sips his vodka soda. He’s still looking up at the ceiling when he says, “I thought about it. For a moment.”

“Thought about what?”

“Going over there.”

Jimin takes a beat before saying, “I think it’s good that you didn’t.”

Seokjin sits up. “Yes, it was the right thing to do, etc etc,” he says, tone heavy with sarcasm. “But is it so bad to want some human contact before going almost two years with none at all?”

Jimin digests this. “Well, if human contact is what you want…”

“There’s a specific kind of human contact I have in mind,” Seokjin says. His gaze slides over to Jimin and he smiles. It’s wicked. “Sex.”

A little zing goes through Jimin at the word. “Thank you for clarifying,” he says, smiling back.

“Of course,” Seokjin says.

He so rarely gets like this: careless, arch, a little bit sharp and a tiny bit dangerous. Jimin always feels pleased when he’s the one who gets to witness it. Engage with it. He stretches out his legs; his feet press into Seokjin’s hip.

“So,” he hears himself say, “if human contact is what you want…”

Seokjin looks at him, face going slack with surprise, and Jimin looks back, letting his own face fall into a familiar expression: mouth slightly smiling, eyes half-lidded, and then his hand brushing his hair back.

Seokjin’s surprise disappears quickly as he regains control. He laughs and sips his drink. “Jimin-ah, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to fuck me.”

“Wow, hyung, I thought you’d never ask,” Jimin says, light. Seokjin laughs again, just like Jimin wanted him to.

“That would be…”

“Crazy?” Jimin supplies.

“That’s one way to put it.”

“How else would you put it?”

Jimin watches closely as Seokjin thinks about it: about them having sex, and then about what adjective he’d use to describe it as a possibility. He goes blank for a moment, and Jimin—he has to catch his breath. Is he thinking—

“Hm,” Seokjin says.

“Really,” Jimin says.

Seokjin frowns and jostles Jimin with his knee. “Cut it out. I know what you’re doing and it’s not necessary.”

Jimin puts on a look of innocent surprise. “Me? What am I doing?”

“Trying to make me feel better by flirting with me.” He sips his drink again

Again, that feeling of being outside his body and hearing himself say, “It can be both.”

Seokjin’s eyes narrow. “What can?”

“I can be flirting with you, and be trying to make you feel better.” Jimin keeps his tone light, light, light, eyes on the drink in his hand. “It doesn’t have to be ‘because of.’”

He’s gone too far. He feels it the moment the words are out of his mouth, casual as they are, and Seokjin is getting up and leaving—

No. He’s going to the bar to make himself another drink. The ice clinks loudly in his cup. Jimin waits, almost holding his breath, to see where he’s going to sit when he comes back.

He sits on the couch, feet up, facing Jimin, just as he was. “You’re unrepentant,” he says.

“You love it,” Jimin counters.

“You can’t help yourself.”

“Why would I want to?”

So much of their relationship is this constant push and pull. The mechanism itself is familiar. But they have never pushed it this far. Jimin is holding his breath as often as he’s breathing deeply, trying to stay present and with it, tuned in to every twitch of Seokjin’s body, the many layers to their banter. All those years of paying attention, of learning to speak Seokjin’s language fluently, feel like they’ve been leading here, to where they’re balanced on this thinnest of edges.

Seokjin is rotating his glass slowly, watching the ice and liquid move inside. He looks up at Jimin. His lips part just the slightest amount.

There it is. He wants to be pushed.

So Jimin sets his glass on the table. He slowly, slowly comes up onto his knees. He shuffles forward, inch by inch, until he’s over Seokjin’s thighs. He doesn’t touch him. Not yet.

“Can you be more specific?” he says, low. “About what kind of contact?”

Seokjin is breathing harder. Jimin feels drunk. Not from the alcohol, though there’s that too, but from being the one, again. The one who gets to see Seokjin like this. The one who gets to make Seokjin like this.

Seokjin’s eyes are darting everywhere: Jimin’s eyes, his mouth, his hand on the back of the couch, Seokjin’s own drink in his hand, Jimin’s drink on the coffee table, the carpet, the door. He’s trying to decide whether to run. Jimin leans back, just the slightest amount, to give him room to do so if he wants to.

His eyes settle on Jimin’s. For a moment, they look at each other.

“Jimin-ah.” Seokjin’s voice is barely a whisper. “This is a bad idea.”

Jimin matches his tone. “It doesn’t have to be. It can just be two people who care about each other, making each other feel good.”

Slowly, Seokjin’s hand comes up. Jimin mirrors him; his own hand comes up and they meet in the middle, fingers interlacing.

“Okay,” Seokjin says, and Jimin kisses him.

It’s like a dam breaking. There is none of that studied casualness that’s pervaded almost all of the sex Jimin has ever had. They’re kissing. Then Jimin’s hands are in Seokjin’s hair. Seokjin’s hands are on Jimin’s waist. Seokjin’s tongue is in Jimin’s mouth.

Something dissonant jars in the back of Jimin’s head at that. He pulls back under the guise of catching his breath, and Seokjin mirrors him this time, pulling back as well.

“Sorry,” he gasps, “I shouldn’t have—”

Jimin kisses him to stop him from finishing the sentence, shoving the dissonance away to the back of his brain. “Don’t apologize,” Jimin whispers against his mouth.

“I didn’t brush my teeth,” Seokjin whispers back, and they both start giggling immediately.

Jimin sits back. “Talk about not being able to help yourself.”

“Sorry I want this to be a pleasant experience for you!” Seokjin says. He’s still laughing. “I don’t have to taste my own mouth!”

“Technically you are always tasting it,” Jimin points out. He leans in again. “Hold still.”

Seokjin obeys. Jimin kisses him, slowly, drawing it out. When he pulls away, it takes a few moments for Seokjin to blink his eyes open and focus on Jimin.

“You taste fine to me,” Jimin says.

“Nice,” Seokjin says, voice barely audible. He looks a little dazed. He leans forward, almost unconsciously, and Jimin moves in to kiss him again, even slower this time.

“Fuck, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin whispers when they separate a little.

The slight praise burns through Jimin. “Yeah?”

Seokjin kisses him again in response. They’re approaching desperation, pace picking up, hands pulling each other closer. Jimin is going hazy with pleasure, and the realization makes him pull back once more.

“Wait,” he gasps, and Seokjin stops. Jimin shifts back to he can see Seokjin properly. “What are you good with?”

Seokjin thinks. He looks as hazy as Jimin feels, maybe even more so. “Uh…”

He trails off, going blank. “How about this,” Jimin says. “Tell me what you would have done with Minji, and if any of those things are things you want to do with me.”

It’s a risk, bringing Minji’s name into the mix, but Seokjin is nodding, thinking hard. “We would have… kissed. Like this. I would probably have eaten her out. And then…”

He stops again. He’s blushing, Jimin realizes. “What? Tell me, hyung.”

“She would have… fucked me,” Seokjin says. He looks up at Jimin as if expecting Jimin to laugh. In another scenario, Jimin would be, but now he’s overwhelmed with the image of tiny, slight Minji fucking Seokjin.

“Okay,” he says. “Wow, okay. Do you want…”

“I’m not going to ask you,” Seokjin says quickly. He’s shrinking back, obviously ill at ease with talking plainly like this.

He needs a little more control. Jimin can tell. So he says, “I’ve never topped anyone. Do you want to teach me?”

Seokjin’s jaw dropped a little. “Jimin-ah. Really?”

“Really,” Jimin says honestly. He would never, even in his wildest fantasies, have imagined he would be sharing this detail about his sex life with Seokjin. “I want to,” he says. “To be clear.”

“Okay,” Seokjin says. He’s looking off, beyond Jimin, thinking. Then he focuses on Jimin again. “Yeah.”

They go to the bedroom. Time skips a little bit for Jimin in this liminal period. He fixates for a bit on Seokjin’s suitcase, packed and standing upright in the corner. Seokjin is shuffling around, turning on a lamp, then fetching condoms and lube, then coming back to lean over Jimin which—Jimin didn’t think he could get more turned on, but Seokjin’s shoulders and chest looming above him in the semi-darkness makes him feel so ready to get out of his clothes and touch him.

“Show me what you like,” he whispers. Seokjin moves back to take off his own shirt, and Jimin follows suit. They switch places; Seokjin lays up against the pillows, easily yanking off his jeans, and then he’s just in his underwear, eyes large and bright as they fix on Jimin.

Jimin moves in. He kisses Seokjin on the mouth, lightly, then his chin, then his neck, and down to his stomach. Even in the low light, his ribs are standing out more than Jimin likes to see. It’s usually worst when they’re on tour, but the stress of all the transitions has probably had about the same effect on all of them.

“You’re so skinny, hyung,” Jimin whispers. He presses a hand against Seokjin’s side and then strokes down it.

“They’ll fatten me up in the army,” Seokjin says, breathless. He squirms a little bit under Jimin’s touch.

“You’re beautiful,” Jimin says. He didn’t mean to, but it falls out of his mouth anyway.

“You would know,” Seokjin says.

“You think I’m beautiful?” Jimin says, more out of habit than anything else. But it’s nice to hear it directly from Seokjin.

“I think you’re gorgeous, Jiminie,” says Seokjin. He strokes a hand through Jimin’s hair. “So gorgeous. Now suck my dick.”

Jimin laughs, but obeys. He takes it slow, enjoying it, and using the ample tools in his arsenal to make sure than Seokjin does too. He snaps the waistband of his boxers, lets his breath ghost hot and wet over his skin, and, when he finally gets his mouth on Seokjin, taking him all the way to the back of his throat.

Seokjin shouts and pulls Jimin off with a hand on his shoulder. “Fuck, don’t do that,” he gasps.

“Deepthroat you?” Jimin asks, completely confused.

“I’m not into feeling like I’m choking you,” Seokjin tells him. “Just take it slow.”

“Okay,” says Jimin. He moves back in. “Why don’t you tell me how you like it?”

“Um… All right,” Seokjin breathes. “Just—slow. And. Use your tongue.”

“Like this?” Jimin drops his mouth down halfway, making sure it’s nice and wet, and then comes up slowly, tongue circling the head.

“Yeah,” Seokjin says—moans, more like. One of his hands comes to rest in Jimin’s hair.

They go like that for awhile—Seokjin offering halting direction, and then going silent when Jimin takes it and perfects it. Seokjin likes it wet, he learns, and he likes it when Jimin is enjoying it. Jimin lets himself moan, even with his mouth full, and he means all of it.

Eventually, he has to pull away. “I have to take off my pants, sorry,” he gasps.

“Oh—yeah, please—” Seokjin says, and he watches avidly as Jimin disrobes. His gaze is utterly intoxicating. Jimin doesn’t think about how long he’s wanted it; Seokjin’s eyes on him like this, desire evident and unavoidable. Twenty-year-old Jimin, the one who’d begged for just one kiss, who’d once wanted nothing more than for his hyung to be his first kiss, would never have been able to imagine this.

“Okay,” Jimin says, once he’s naked and back on the bed. “Come be my teacher.”

Seokjin groans. “You can’t quote one of our songs in bed. That’s so sleazy.”

“It was unintentional, actually,” Jimin says, laughing. He feels around in the bedsheets and comes up with the lube. He knows enough, having been on the receiving end of this many times, and done it to himself countless others. He hooks Seokjin’s knees up and over his own, smoothing over his inner thighs and hips. Seokjin makes a little bitten-off noise when he clicks the lube open.

“I didn’t plan ahead—” Seokjin says, suddenly, but Jimin hushes him.

“Even if I’ve never topped, I’m not new to this whole sex thing,” he says.

“You’ve come so far,” Seokjin says. “Your younger self would be so proud of you.”

You have no idea, Jimin wants to say. He doesn’t. Instead, he drizzles lube over the finger of his right hand.

“Go slow,” Seokjin whispers. “It’s been awhile.”

“I’ll take care of you,” Jimin says quietly.

“I know you will.”

He sounds so utterly certain. Jimin has to stop for a second to collect himself. Then, he circles one finger slowly, letting the lube spread around. Above him, Seokjin is taking deep, steadying breaths, intentionally relaxing. Jimin lets the anticipation build, ghosting tantalizing touches until Seokjin lets out an exasperated breath and goes, “Jimin!

“Okay, okay,” Jimin laughs, and pushes a finger in slowly.

Seokjin groans, from deep in his chest. He’s so tight. Jimin lets him adjust, and then moves slowly. “Good,” Seokjin says. “Like that.”

Jimin leans forward and kisses the jut of his hip bone. Seokjin makes a happy little sighing noise.

“Two,” he says. Jimin pulls out so he can add more lube, and comes back with two fingers.

They go all the way up to four. Jimin’s not particularly big—not compared to Seokjin, at least—but his hands are small and he wants Seokjin to feel nothing but pleasure once Jimin is inside him.

“You’re doing so well, Jiminie,” whispers Seokjin. “I’m ready.”

Jimin should be the one praising Seokjin, Jimin thinks. He expected for the control to shift back to him at this point, but with Seokjin looking up at him, willing and vulnerable, Jimin feels what little control he did have slipping away.

“Hyung—” he gasps, and Seokjin lets him stop to kiss him, hands spread warm on Jimin’s back.

“Come on,” Seokjin says when they separate. Then he giggles a little bit. “I’ve never talked this much during sex before.”

Jimin laughs too. “Welcome to sex with me,” he says grandly as he puts the condom on. He’s a little worried about how long he’ll be able to last. “If we don’t talk about it while it’s happening, did we actually fuck?”

“I’m going to say yes,” Seokjin says. He pulls one thigh back as Jimin gets into position. “It’s amazing how things can happen without you ever talking about them even once.”

Jimin doesn’t let that last sentence land in his brain. He’s about to fuck Seokjin, he can’t fall headlong into the past and his feelings right now. He pushes in, slowly, and then stops.

Seokjin finds his hand in the sheets and interlaces their fingers. “Good?”

“Yeah,” Jimin grits out. He has no idea if this is what topping always feels like, or if it’s because it’s Seokjin. Probably the second. “Just—”

“It’s okay. Take your time.” Seokjin lazily strokes himself. “I’ve got all night.”

Jimin gets ahold of himself and starts to move. “Tell me—tell me what you like,” he gasps.

“Okay, okay,” Seokjin says soothingly. Jimin should be the one soothing him, how does this keep happening? Seokjin hooks a leg around Jimin and pulls him in a little closer, and then reaches down to adjust the angle of his hips. “Like this, with a little more—yeah, on the end of the thrust, like that.”

Concentrating on making Seokjin feel good helps stave off Jimin’s need to come. He figures out the angle, and then the rhythm, and then the speed, and once again Seokjin’s voice drops off more and more and more until he’s just gasping, eyes closed, hand clenching in Jimin’s. “Is it good, hyung?”

“So—good, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin moans. He brings their clasped hands to his dick, and he and Jimin stroke him off together.

“You’re so beautiful, hyung,” Jimin hears himself garble, because Seokjin is, and when will he get to say it again? Maybe never.

Seokjin’s brow is furrowed, mouth open, and at Jimin’s words he gasps one more time and comes all over their hands.

Fuck,” Jimin swears, and then his own orgasm hits him.

It takes a long time to come down. After cleaning up, they lay next to each other, arms touching but otherwise apart. The sound of their breathing mingles in the quiet bedroom.

Once the sex haze diminishes, Jimin feels a pit deep in his stomach that has nothing to do with the sex. It’s the sadness, coming back for him. Park Jimin, the fucking idiot who can't even—

“Hey, Jimin-ah,” Seokjin says. He rolls over onto his side, hand coming up to rest on Jimin’s hip. “That was so nice. Thank you.”

Once more, Jimin reins himself back in. “Anytime, hyung.”

“Just the one, probably,” Seokjin says, and laughs at his own fatalistic joke.

Jimin can’t laugh. He rolls over and tucks himself into Seokjin’s side. He wishes, with all his heart, that things were different.

Seokjin pulls him closer. “I’m not dying, Jimin-ah,” he says quietly. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

“But I’ll be gone when you get out,” Jimin whispers.

“And I’ll be here when you get out. It’ll be okay. It’ll all be okay.”

Jimin wants to believe him, desperately. He repeats the words to himself in his head. It’ll be okay. It’ll all be okay. It’ll be okay. It’ll all be okay until he falls asleep, still nestled underneath Seokjin’s arm.

—-

Seokjin’s alarm goes off at five o’clock. The car is coming at 5:30. They get up, silently, and brush their teeth. Jimin dresses in one of Seokjin’s sweatshirts and a pair of his boxers. Seokjin makes coffee and Jimin sits at the nice breakfast bar to drink it silently, Seokjin standing across from him to drink his own.

Jimin feels sort of like he spent the whole previous day crying. His body hurts. His eyes hurt. His heart hurts. He can’t think about it. He can’t think about anything other than—

“It’s nice that you could be my first something,” Jimin says out of nowhere. It just occurred to him, and this early in the morning he can’t think of a reason not to say it.

“Mmm,” Seokjin says absently. Then he shakes himself. “What?”

“I just mean… if you couldn’t be my first kiss,” Jimin goes on, still not really thinking. “You were my first experience with topping, and my first l—”

He stops himself just in time. But Seokjin is looking at him, shocked and horrified.

“Jimin-ah,” he says, and Jimin knows he was right—Seokjin had completely forgotten about their conversation, all those years ago. And now, before Jimin’s eyes, it’s coming back to him.

“It’s okay, hyung,” he says. Finally, it’s his chance to reassure Seokjin. “You forgot, it’s totally okay. It’s in the past.”

“But I never—I wouldn’t have—” Seokjin has gone white, all color leached out of his face. “Are you still—”

“No,” Jimin says, quickly. “Of course not.”

Seokjin nods automatically. His expression doesn’t change. Then he turns away suddenly. “I can’t believe you let me do that.” His tone is anguished.

Jimin gets up and goes to stand beside him. “I wanted to. It was good, hyung. Wasn’t it?”

Seokjin runs a hand over his face. “It doesn’t matter,” he says finally.

“It does,” Jimin says. “It’s exactly what I said—two people who care about each other making each other feel good.”

“But you—” Seokjin starts to say.

“That’s in the past,” Jimin says firmly.

Seokjin finally looks at him. His eyes are wide, vulnerable. “You’re so important to me, Jimin-ah.”

If there’s a but coming after that, Jimin can’t hear it. “You’re important to me, too. It’s like you said. It’ll all be okay.”

Seokjin nods. He exhales, then rolls his shoulders back. “I wish—”

He’s cut off by the sound of the buzzer. Seokjin groans, closing his eyes. “Goddamnit. For once, I wish we had more time.”

“You’re not dying,” Jimin reminds him.

Seokjin takes his hand. He pulls Jimin into a hug. “I love you, Jimin-ah,” he whispers.

Jimin clamps his mouth shut. He can’t speak without crying, so he just clutches Seokjin tightly and hopes that he knows.

They separate. Seokjin goes to get his suitcase, and Jimin stands there in the kitchen, alone, trying to breathe.

The sound of Seokjin’s bag rolling across the floor takes him back for a moment, plunged unwillingly yet again into the past: all the cities and countries and continents they’ve seen together. Jimin hopes desperately that they’ll have many more.

“Okay!” Seokjin says brightly. He’s by the front door, wearing his best cheerful face. “Here I go. Wish me luck, Jimin-ah!”

“Good luck, hyung!” Jimin says, and waves. Seokjin waves back, and then he goes.

The door clicks shut, and once again it’s just Jimin, the sound of the clock, and the I love you held in the back of his throat.

“I love you,” he says out loud, to hear it. To prove that it’s real. He wraps his arms around himself. “I love you,” he whispers.

Tick. Tick. Tick. says the clock.