Actions

Work Header

If We Break the Rules, Tell Me You Want Me Too

Chapter Text

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Jimin doesn’t mean to be cocky, but he gets a lot of calls.

He likes to consider himself realistic—maybe even pragmatic on the days he’s feeling particularly fancy with his diction.

Either way, facts are facts, and Jimin receives a lot of important phone calls.

Sometimes those calls include offers for new sponsorships or being the new face of a revolutionary skincare line. On other occasions, these calls are demands for him to be the host of a new television show or requests to use his likeness on t-shirts at an accessible clothing store.

Those types of phone calls are the ones Jimin receives now.

Before he’d managed to become the sweetheart of the dance industry, he’d fought tooth and nail—battled so hard he’d felt as though he’d grinded himself toothless and shredded out his nailbeds—he hadn’t received any phone calls at all.

Then, one miraculous day, after Jimin had been just about ready to call it a day, he’d received the phone call—the one that’d forever changed his life.

With the encouragement of his management, hollers of encouragement from his best friends in the business, and yips of disbelief from himself, Jimin had accepted his first major role as an expert dancer on the nation’s biggest dance reality television show.

His dance skills, sweet personality, and appealing face being the complete package to be ripe for public consumption, Jimin had been an instant and booming success.

Though it’d felt incredibly absurd that he’d gone from relative oblivion to overwhelming stardom, Jimin knew better than to question the lucky stars that’d fallen into his formerly meager pockets—after all, it hadn’t been easy, but Jimin had finally made it.

So, when he gets a phone call from his manager informing him about his newest opportunity, he isn’t necessarily surprised.

What he is distantly astonished by is the genuine interest he has in this offer.

And so, for the first time in a long while, he agrees.

“I’m in,” he says firmly.

This is how twenty-seven-year-old Park Jimin, established dancer and famed choreographer, takes a hiatus from his job as a dance expert and picks up a position as a reality television star.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Jimin has long since stopped having expectations for his fellows in the industry.

He’s far past his youthful idealism, hoping that people are able to maintain a kind heart in such a cutthroat industry, so he’s not normally inclined to be himself around his peers. Instead, he utilizes his television persona to the maximum, knowing how effective his effervescent smiles and nonchalant touches can affect others around him.

Although he’s an advanced professional in the art of reality television after years of working on his dance programs, he knows this new opportunity is a different facet of the same diamond; this time, he won’t be able to hide behind the shadows of other performers and dance as the focal point of the show.

This new job will have Jimin and several other big names working together to combine their individual talents to create new works of art during the day and living together in a single mansion for the duration of their contract of the show.

He’ll able to be himself.

So, Jimin researches his co-stars.

It’s a pretty impressively stacked group of individuals.

Between Kim Taehyung, renowned videographer and photographer, and Min Yoongi, hailed producer, as faces to represent recognizable male figures and Park Sunyoung, praised singer, and Lalisa Manoban, popular rapper, as faces for prominent females, Jimin feels the pressure mounting to impress everyone.

For the next few weeks before they start filming, Jimin amps up his training.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

On the finale of his current program, Jimin announces his hiatus.

“Thank you for all your support you’ve shown me from the very beginning of my journey,” Jimin thanks humbly, bowing lowly to his audience. “I appreciate the widespread acceptance for me when I came in fresh and new to this show, and I’ll continue to always think of my place on the show fondly.”

A pause for dramatic effect, a slightly affected gulp for sentimentality, before Jimin continues.

“I hope you’ll be able to support me in my future endeavours and I’ll be back before you know it.”

He basks in the loud cheers surrounding him.

As he steps off the stage, his smile wanes a little before it disappears.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

A month before the show begins, Jimin meets his co-stars in person at a mixer.

The creators and producers of the show invite the backstage crew and all the stars along with their management, so it ends up being a larger event that Jimin would’ve liked considering the long hours he’d been spending trying to further perfect his craft.

But seasoned veteran of the industry, Jimin still knows how to schmooze.

Ha Sungwoon, his best friend and manager, rolls his eyes and mumbles darkly under his breath when they encounter rude managers but he, too, knows how to elide difficult situations and construct them into new opportunities for Jimin.

Jimin finds himself connecting with a few select individuals in particular.

It’s easy to connect with Jung Hoseok, elite rapper and noted fashionista, as the man is also a heavy dance enthusiast.

The older man had approached him on sight, exuberant and friendly (despite an unexpected serious demeanour that he apparently only ever adopts behind the scenes when he isn’t within sight of his audience) and inquired about Jimin’s dancing.

Eventually, he waves before leaving to network with other stars.

Jimin sips on his champagne and observes things for a brief time, while Sungwoon murmurs to him from the corner of his mouth about certain people to be watchful for.

“Kim Namjoon-ssi, he’s a good person to be in the respectable books with—he’s pretty private and pens a lot of lyrics pretty openly. But he also ghostwrites for some soulless losers who don’t have an emotional bone left in their body after selling themselves to the devil,” Sungwoon explains.

“He’s intelligent enough that he’s pretty tight with some official figures and political members, so be wary of getting on his bad side, okay?”

Jimin nods.

“And that there, next to Namjoon-ssi is Kim Seokjin-ssi. You recognize him, I bet?”

Jimin nods again.

Handsome, he thinks to himself.

“Popular actor, hard not to know who he is—heard he’s backing a couple restaurants and other businesses on the side too,” Jimin adds.

Sungwoon cocks an eyebrow.

“Atta boy. I see you did your research,” Sungwoon praises him. “Anyway, he’s a pretty easy-going guy from what the whispers in the industry tell me, but he also doesn’t fuck around, so don’t be a dick to him ‘cause he won’t hesitate calling you out.”

After a while, Sungwoon’s musings become background noise until they’re interrupted by Kang Seulgi.

Jimin knows her mainly as a former member of a girl group before she became a television personality and model with multiple international endorsement deals.

She’s got a pretty face and a unique charm that appeals greatly to Jimin and they get along swimmingly.

There’s something inherent to her personality, a furtive essence that he just senses and latches onto, and it clicks swiftly into place with Jimin’s own and he quickly gets the impression that they’ll be close throughout their experience on the show.

With promises from Hoseok to work together on the show and Seulgi’s number stored on his phone, the evening doesn’t end up being a total bust even if Jimin doesn’t formally meet every crew member and main star of the show.

Just as Jimin and Sungwoon politely say their goodbyes, Jimin locks eyes with a young man from across the room.

The young man has large, soulful eyes and a sharp jawline beneath artfully arranged bangs.

Even with the great distance between them, Jimin can tell the man is taller and broader than himself by several inches—nothing to write home about, but enough that he’s able to discern the physical differences in their statures.

Jimin raises an eyebrow in greeting.

The young man gulps and locks his jaw, a telling blush spreading across his face, before he breaks their shared gaze with fierce determination that seems disproportionately appropriate for such a paltry interaction.

Jimin rolls his eyes.

So dramatic, these industry people.

He doesn’t think about the young man again.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Jimin meets up with Jongin and Taemin to discuss his excitement for the show.

“Oh, I’m so excited to do something where I just get to be myself,” Jimin blabbers excitably to his friends, bright smile pasted on his face. “It’s so refreshing to do something where people can see my actual personality, I think. I hope the fans will be happy to see me more natural too.”

Jongin and Taemin have been his friends for years now, his closest associates in the business as dancers themselves, the two having already established quite a name for themselves before Jimin showed up on the scene.

Though Jimin’s success eventually eclipsed theirs, the three have managed to stay close over the years and he couldn’t be more grateful.

“So, you really think it’s gonna be an unscripted opportunity?” Jongin asks drily.

Taemin laughs, shoving Jongin’s shoulder, as Jimin pouts at them across the table.

“C’mon, don’t be such a downer, Jonginnie. Look at Jimin’s face, he’s so excited!”

Jongin raises his hands, a play at complete innocence.

“I’m not trying to be a downer! I’m just saying we all know the business and sometimes an offer seems to good to be true and that’s because it’s too good to be true,” Jongin insists defensively, before he sighs in defeat and raises a glass. “But if we’re here to celebrate unscripted, quality television, then hell, let’s cheers to that!”

Jimin beams.

“Cheers!”

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

 

“What the fuck is this?”

Sungwoon looks up from his menu, seated across from Jimin at the table, and looks irritatingly perplexed at his friend’s demand.

“Uh, a script?”

Jimin makes a muffled noise of annoyance in his throat, before he slams his hand on the table.

“I can see that, doof, but why? Isn’t this a reality television show? Why was I given this?”

To his manager’s credit, Sungwoon actually looks sincerely astonished, but it doesn’t alleviate Jimin’s frustration at the enormous booklet of information that clearly delineates how he’s expected to conduct himself through the span of the show.

“Oh, c’mon, Jimin,” Sungwoon scoffs, pushing his menu away for a moment. “You didn’t honestly fuckin’ expect that this show was gonna let all of you big-headed egomaniacs loose to act however the fuck you want to, right?”

Jimin stays silent.

“Jimin—get real. You’ve been in this industry how many years now? You’ve seen shit and been through shit and you’re still optimistic enough to think that this was going to be a sincere opportunity for you to, what, be yourself?”

He knows he’d been stupidly hopeful, but he’d really wished he could be himself at last.

“I’m sorry, bro, I know how much you’ve been wanting to shed the stage persona, but this isn’t going be the time,” Sungwoon tells him, a softer expression on his face as he watches Jimin’s disappointment spreading. “They hired all of you to maximize the audiences that they could draw in and they expect some pretty devastating ratings so, yeah.”

Jimin did know better.

He picks his menu up, concealing his face from Sungwoon, as he sighs heavily.

Maybe it’s stupidly naïve, but he still had hoped for better anyway.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

After he separates from Sungwoon, he heads to an exclusive club.

There, he ends up drinking up enough to become manageably obliterated and charm his way into the bed of some younger actress—she’s not famous enough for Jimin to draw up her name but she’s played secondary roles enough times that he recognizes her face.

She’s got nice enough lips to lure Jimin in and an enviable body that he can’t help but feeling smug will be under his for the night, but her personality is fairly lacklustre, and he can tell she’s using him for clout.

Some tedious vanilla positions and emotionless kissing later, he falls asleep next to her and when Jimin buttons his shirt up the next morning, he doesn’t look back and he doesn’t leave his number.

He spends the rest of his day working out and dancing.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The first official “table read” for the show ends up being an educational experience for Jimin.

(Jimin tries to stifle his disgust that a reality television show had set this up, a complete mockery of the concept he thought he’d signed up for, but it’s too late to turn back.

With the show about to begin filming in two weeks, Jimin has to suck it up.)

First, he learns that while their personalities and some of the drama will absolutely be contrived, the creative process of the show will actually be organic—it is this above everything that mitigates Jimin’s multiplying regrets in signing up for the show.  

Second, he’s expected to pursue a flirty relationship with Seulgi.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for—

“But don’t lay it on too thick, Jimin-ssi, we can’t have you repelling your audience. So, make sure that you’re layin’ down the foundation just enough that the female audience can entertain their fantasies of you. That being said, you know how you’ve got that type of air about you so—”

Jimin bristles.

He knows what’s being insinuated, the implications of his profession and his appearance, but he can’t help his simmering temper from bubbling to the surface.

“Sorry to interrupt, sir, but how do you mean?” he intervenes smoothly, a polite edge to his voice.

Choi Siwon, their sleazy, greedy main producer, has absolutely no shame in his game to multiply the scandal ante for their audience.

“Oh, you must know by now that you’ve got the panties of fairies and twinks all up in a bunch, so you can’t ostracize their fantasies either so make sure that you’re makin’ your rounds with the male stars of the show too, okay, pretty boy?”

Jimin flinches terribly.

It’s impossible to miss the varying levels of repulsion on the faces of crew members and the vague discomfort of several of his male co-stars at the idea of being touched by him with that intent.

He wants to vomit.

It’s only Seulgi’s consoling rub on his arm, discreet and protective, and Sungwoon’s gritted teeth of vexation that eventually gets the buzzing voices in his head to settle as his tremors simultaneously come to a stop.

His third discovery is that the young man from the party goes by the name of Jeon Jungkook.

Just a novice to the industry, twenty-two-years of age, he’s the nation’s most famous baby-faced pop sensation.  And if Jimin looks closely enough, he thinks that he’s seen Jungkook on multiple billboards and magazine covers.

His last realization is that, for whatever reason, Jeon Jungkook doesn’t seem to like him much.

The young man glares with unwarranted resentment at Jimin, brows knitted heavily at the older man whenever his eyes fall upon him, and the younger man is daring enough not to directly acknowledge his senior.

Jimin sighs.

It’s going to be a long four months of filming.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

After the table read, Jimin begs off plans with Sungwoon after an abundance of promises that he’s well and fine.

He goes home and pops open an expensive bottle of champagne.

Jimin drinks it over multiple hours, mulling over the mulish expression on Jungkook’s face throughout the entire official discussion of the storyline of the show, and he swears that he’ll never intentionally listen to a single song off any of that young punk’s albums.

Ten minutes later, Jimin’s ardent promise is long forgotten as he plays Jungkook’s first few EPs as he sways his body to the tracks, until he’s got a gentle buzz going from the champagne.

Jungkook’s voice is sweet and lovely, his Korean lyrics romantic and light while the English he sprinkles in are always brasher and concise, and his music ends up sparking something in Jimin’s heart that’d felt unresponsive for years.

He gulps nervously and takes another large sip of his drink.

Once it’s evening enough, he heads to the exclusive club again.

Tonight, Jimin’s sights are set on an older woman, a director of several critically acclaimed movies that he’s cried over, and his charms are eventually enough to persuade her to fall into bed with him.

As he pulls on the condom before he enters her, Jimin tries to ignore the persistent shaking of his hands. 

His rhythm is still immaculate, the sound of flesh meeting flesh, but his mind is a metronome of ugly thoughts that swarm his mind like a hoard of angry wasps. It’s so loud and so bold and it’s all Jimin can do not to succumb to them, but he still manages to come with a low grunt.

That night, Jimin doesn’t bother even staying the night.

He goes home where he stares at his ceiling until he thinks he’s burned holes through them.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

It’s two days before filming begins.

Jimin spends of the day in quiet, switching from general house maintenance to packing his belongings slowly, with only his robust thoughts to keep him company.

Eventually when he grows weary of himself, he turns his speakers on.

To his distant surprise, the last track he’d been playing had been Jungkook’s latest EP, before he swiftly realizes that the young man had been the only real soundtrack to his life since the table read.

He hopes he’ll get an opportunity to tell Jungkook how much he likes the young man’s music.

Jimin has been distracted by an abundance of delinquent thoughts and desires ever since he'd laid his eyes on Jungkook and he thinks that he'll need himself some rehabilitation for the night.

Just as the clock hits eleven in the evening, Jimin pauses.

Then, he goes to his room and dresses himself in an outfit that’s drab enough not to draw unnecessary attention before he crams a black snapback on his hair. He pulls out his ostentatious earrings and puts a few simpler ones in and wipes the glossy chap stick off his mouth.

Next, he grabs his keys before calling a limo to take him to another exclusive club.

This one, however, is not like his usual digs.

And when Jimin goes home that night he's got a sweet foreigner honey on his arm, a fellow dancer whom he’d worked with when he’d been on tour before he’d risen to stardom on the show. Jimin's incredibly meticulous in making sure no one sees his face as he slips into another limo to take himself and his guest home.

Kissing the pretty thing in his arms, he whispers onto the plush lips, “You can’t tell anyone, okay? It’ll fuck up both of our careers, you know that, right?”

“I know the drill,” Yuta laughs, pulling Jimin into him. “I mean, I know everyone says that the dancing community can be petty big mouths, but hey, we could both stand to lose a lot. I mean, guys like us, we know how this works—if one of us goes down, so will the other.”

Jimin raises one eyebrow seductively

“If the night goes well,” he purrs lowly right before he kisses Yuta, “that’s exactly how things are supposed to go down.”

Yuta laughs into his mouth, pressing a smile onto Jimin’s mouth, before the rest of the night is lost to moans at a lower average register than society likes to pretend exists, but well—it is what it is.

It’s not that Jimin’s completely living a lie or in denial.

He likes women just fine.

The thing is, well, he likes men just as much—and that’s the secret he intends to take to the grave.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Two days later, Jimin moves in with the rest of his new roommates.

The producers of the show had only really accomplished this by reminding the stars that they’ve already signed their contracts—and by reassuring them all that they’re all permitted to go home on the weekends to their own places.

“It’s just for consistency and efficiency,” they say placatingly. “Filming just needs to be as maximally cohesive and we don’t need the general public to get any real proof that you aren’t living as roommates for the show.”

The stars had sighed but nodded.

This is how Jimin finds himself sinking into his new bed, closing his eyes with his hands folded over his stomach, listening to the sounds of his new roommates in the background as he wonders how everything will go.

He tries to ignore the busy thoughts of Jungkook that clamour his head.

Will we get along? Will he try to get to know me? Jimin frets to himself despite his best efforts. Will we become friends? Or are we destined to act like strangers throughout this whole experience?

Jimin hopes that they can at least be cordial.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The first few weeks of filming are mainly intended to capture scenes that have been pre-planned by the film crew to bolster the inorganic “storylines” that they’d been prepped for during the table read.

At this point, most castmates are left to their own devices unless they’re filming a particular scene.

One of the storylines have Namjoon and Yoongi arguing over what type of lyrical content should be used with the track the latter has produced, a bitter disagreement that has the older man puffing his chest out in annoyance and the younger man storming out after being reprimanded.

Another planned scene follows hot-headed television personality Kim Jennie and rapper Lisa bickering over the cleanliness of their shared room, both equally neat individuals with varying organizational preferences, that quickly takes an uglier turn when they are instructed to share a common romantic interest in Taehyung.

“Everyone loves a good love triangle,” Siwon had hollered at the girls when they’d exchanged apologetic glances after filming had wrapped.

“No, actually,” Jennie had mumbled passionately under her breath after the arrogant man had turned his back on the two women, “Everyone loves a good burger now and then. But not me apparently, ‘cause I need to look like a emaciated doll for a certain photographer—who’s in in a committed relationship with his girlfriend in real life, might I add.”

Lisa had snickered, elbowing Jennie for her surreptitious shadiness, and the two girls had walked to the salad station together.

Meanwhile, Jimin is filmed like some sort of fluid Casanova.

He’s quick with compliments for all the women, flattering conservative Jinri into a rosy flush and reducing Sunyoung into bubbly giggles, and he’s requested to drape himself over the male castmates as casually as possible.

Most of them seem to take it in stride, Hoseok hugging Jimin back just as hard and Namjoon laughing in embarrassment, but there’s one individual who stiffens each time.

Jeon Jungkook, singer extraordinaire, for whatever reason, loathes being touched by Jimin.

He doesn’t seem to mind Namjoon’s company, the two clearly associated quite familiarly with one another before the show, and he takes Hoseok’s affections contentedly and he’s effortlessly polite with all their female co-stars, but he just doesn’t warm up to Jimin.

It hurts Jimin a bit, but he gets over it.

And to be fair, Jimin reasons with himself, he doesn’t even know me.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

After they all survive the first week of filming, they go out for drinks.

The network had been generous enough to reserve an entire floor of a luxury restaurant for the stars, their management, and the crew members so it ends up being an evening that’s discreet and concealed from the eyes of the general public.

It’s this night that Jimin swears to himself that he’ll approach Jungkook.

He doesn’t know what Jungkook’s problem is, but he’s dying to find out and he’s only further incentivized by his niggling desire to garner a better read on the younger man.

And besides, as a senior and a hyung to Jungkook, it’s his noble responsibility to extend the olive branch.

So once the younger man slowly trudges over to the bar, Jimin leaps up to his feet from his table and plunders through droves of people to reach him.

It’s just a shame that he trips on his own two feet—twenty-three years of intense commitment to dance and he still can’t manage his own limbs—and Jimin ends up face first into the younger man’s back.

“Ah, shit,” Jimin hears Jungkook say in his soft voice, grunting as the older man accidentally digs his fingers into the younger man’s hip a little too roughly to right himself again.

And to his great horror before he can regain his balance, Jimin unintentionally paws Jungkook’s ass, causing the younger man to jolt so terribly that he knocks his newly purchased drink right over onto the bartender’s crisp shirt.

“Oh, my god,” Jimin yelps, leaping away from Jungkook. “I’m so sorry, I swear that was an accident.”

Jungkook’s eyes are wide with surprise, and some other fervent emotion Jimin can’t quite place, and a deep blush extends over the high planes of his face as he stares down.

“J-Jimin-seonbaenim? What a-are you doing?” Jungkook stutters uncomfortably, stricken face as his eyes flit nervously between Jimin’s hands and the bartender’s stoic expression as she bears witness to the awkward exchange.

“It was a mistake, I swear, I was just coming over here to chat with you—try to get to know you—because I feel like we haven’t had much opportunity to speak since the show started filming but then I flubbed it all up,” Jimin explains himself, a sheepish look on his face, as he tries to keep his composure. “I just tripped on my feet and caused all of you a terrible inconvenience, so I’m really sorry.”

And when Jungkook doesn’t end up punching him in the face for his accidental indiscretion, Jimin sighs in relief.

While Jimin insists on paying for the bartender’s dry cleaning after repurchasing Jungkook a drink, he turns around to quickly realize that the singer had taken his leave and is trapped in one of Taehyung’s infamously tight embraces.

Jimin can’t help the way his heart sinks in disappointment.

For the rest of the night, Jimin further establishes his bonds with Hoseok and Seulgi whilst his dreams of having any type of connection with Jungkook drifts further away.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The next week, Jimin films a scene with Jungkook.

In it, Jungkook is instructed to tease Jimin for his “sexually charged” relationship with Seulgi, which ends up feeling incredibly difficult. Between Jimin’s positively platonic feelings for Seulgi and Jungkook’s inability to feign an amicable interaction with the older man, Siwon cuts the scene short abruptly.

To their combined consternation, the pontifical man—having recently accidentally stumbled upon the knowledge of both Jungkook and Jimin’s proficiency in English—has taken to using the Germanic language to curse the pair out whenever he's displeased with the supposed "authenticity" of their interaction.

It's this unpleasant outcome that had Jimin bonding with his dongsaeng for the first time as Jungkook had muttered furiously under his breath in English, “Ugh, I knew it was a mistake to tell anyone I knew English. But I was thinking someone would ask me for English classes. I did not imagine a man pretty much my dad’s age would use it to swear at me in another language so no one else can understand what a fucking lunatic he is.”

Jimin had laughed, startled by Jungkook’s open vitriol.

This had been the first time Jimin had taken notice that Jungkook tends to be more laid back, lackadaisical about honorifics and formality, when using English.

The two had exchanged twin looks of dismay, before they’d stepped up to continue filming.

“For fuck’s sake,” Siwon now bellows in rage. “Aren’t you two supposed to be god damn professionals—or are you not? We didn’t hire you for this two-star rating, bullshit performance, you idiots! Get it together or get out of here!”

Then, right before he storms off, Siwon stabs his index fingers in the air as he demands, “I don’t care what the fuck you have to do to get this working relationship in order—fuckin’ take some acting classes over the weekend or go out and get to know each other. Hell, suck each other’s dicks for all I care—but make sure I’m not dealing with this unprofessionalism on Monday.”

Jimin watches as Jungkook, who’d been gradually shrinking concurrently with the producer’s increasing vocal volume, now looks absolutely miserable.

“Hey, kid,” Jimin offers, nudging Jungkook lightly with his elbow. “Let’s get food, huh? C’mon, don’t be shy, hyung will treat you to whatever you want. Let’s get our minds off this crummy day, okay? What’d you say?”

Though Jungkook doesn’t look convinced, he agrees.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The dinner ends up being a blessing.

The ride over in the limo to the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that Jungkook selects had been strife with awkward tension, but as soon as the drinks had started flowing, Jimin ignoring the burning sensation in his fat wallet, things had ironed themselves out.

It turns out, to Jimin’s great surprise, that Jungkook is just shy.

He’s so impermissibly adorable in his gestures—prominent nose scrunching in distaste when Jimin tells him that he likes sour flavours and wide eyes wrinkling delightfully when Jimin makes offhanded jokes about their pompous producer and soft mouth pursed sorrowfully when Jimin regals him with tales of his long list of failures in the industry.

Jimin also realizes Jungkook’s slow to warm up in terms of talking about himself.

It’s only after multiple well-intended but firm prompts from Jimin that Jungkook dares asserting himself as an ambitious man, shrewd eyes on the prize for global recognition for his musical talents, and the older man finds himself growing remarkably fond of his co-star.

“How do you plan on international stardom?” Jimin asks, taking a long sip from his beer, nearly draining the entire bottle.

“I dunno yet,” Jungkook admits sheepishly. “I mean, I guess I can speak English so that helps—easier to communicate with international fans and I think it’d be cool to release a completely English song sometime to get the wheels turnin’, you know?”

Jimin pauses, chopsticks hanging midair over his bowl of rice, and raises his eyebrows.

“I’m glad I met someone that can speak English,” Jimin admits, raising his hand for a high-five, before code switching from Korean to English. “It’s actually pretty nice to meet someone I can actually use it frequently with. That’s awesome.”

Jungkook high fives him awkwardly before giving him a thumbs up.

Okay, so he still needs to work on his social skills then, Jimin thinks fondly.

“Ahem, anyway, I’m impressed, Jungkookie,” Jimin sighs dramatically, batting his eyelashes for effect. “You’re gonna go so far with that manly, go-getter attitude of yours—who’ll be able to say no to that face? What was it? Number four on Vogue Korea’s most attractive faces of last year?”

Jungkook snorts unattractively at the unexpected compliment, beer sloshing out the sides of his mouth until it dribbles onto the napkin on his lap.

“Ah, hyung,” he coughs painfully, face red with the exertion. “D-don’t startle me like that!”

Jimin raises an eyebrow at the familiar honorific.

“Oh. ‘Hyung’, is it now?”

Jungkook’s obviously now rosy with embarrassment instead of hacking on liquid courage, but he still tries smirking cockily.

It just ends up being cute instead.

“I can be if you need me to be.”

As Jimin watches Jungkook break into peals of sweet laughter from across the table when he tries to strike him, he can’t help the sharp intake of breath at how pretty and lovely the younger man looks beneath the glow of candle light.

“Pipe down, insolent child,” Jimin scolds jokingly. “I’m your hyung.”

And in that moment, trying to persuade his heart to stop beating so fast, Jimin wonders if he’s trying to remind himself or Jungkook.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

When they attempt shooting their scene together the following week, it goes infinitely smoother.

While it’d been enough to placate their asshole producer, Siwon’s ruddy face ripe with glee at the footage, Jimin can’t help the uneasy sensation in his belly.

It’d felt off somehow.

Jimin had entered the room, housing expectations that Jungkook would be friendlier and more natural with him on camera. But despite his acceptance of the older man’s touchiness, the singer had still seemed unreasonably aloof compared to the sincere warmth he’d exuded at the dinner over the weekend.

He’d still sat stiffer when Jimin had leaned into his shoulder while he’d laughed, and he’d still barely managed a diffident smile after they’d wrapped things up—not to mention how quickly he’d adhered himself to Hoseok and Yoongi’s side in the common area to avoid chatting with Jimin.

Jimin’s too old to be feeling slighted by a twenty-two-year-old, but, well, here he is—feeling slighted by a fuckin’ twenty-two-year-old.

He’s at a bit of a loss on how to improve the tension.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Things only worsen from there.

When Jungkook’s not being filmed, he’ll come knocking shyly at Jimin’s door.

“Hey,” he’ll whisper as he pushes the door open, mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Want company? Oh, I think you do—look at the way you’re cuddling that body pillow, it’s pretty obvious you want someone to chill with.”

Jimin will roll his eyes, pretending like he isn’t flattered Jungkook didn’t seek out Hoseok or Taehyung instead.

“Yeah, well, my body pillow here has more personality in one of its little artificial feathers than you do in your entire, muscle-y body, so I clearly made the right choice in picking my bedtime partner for the night.”

Then, he’ll turn over, pulling the body pillow onto his other side as he hooks his leg over it.

“Goodnight, Jungkook—be gone.”

It’ll be silent for a few moments, before Jungkook will tread into the room quietly and yank the body pillow before pummelling Jimin with it for his abrasive declination of the singer’s company.

“Alright, mercy,” Jimin will whisper yelp in mock pain. “Stop, Jungkook, damn, fine, we can hang out! For fuck’s sake, I’ll even let you keep me up until I’m so tired that the makeup artists will skin me alive and hang it out to dry for daring to show up to work with bags more purple than that silly Louis Vuitton Minji won’t let out of her sight if you stop attacking me!”  

Jungkook will stop and smile triumphantly.

When they’re not being filmed, Jungkook will also wheedle for Jimin to hang out with him.

“C’mon, hyung, let’s go for food! Aren’t you hungry? You have to be, hyung, I saw the way how much effort you had to put into complimenting producer-ssi on his ugly new Crocs that he was gloating over! I didn’t even know faces could turn puce like that.”

Jimin will try pushing Jungkook’s face away.

“Ugh, I’m not made of money, Jungkook, that’s why you’re here, right? Because hyung always pays?”

Jungkook will fall silent at the accusation until Jimin fixes his eyes on him.

(And it’s then Jimin had realized how sensitive and soft Jungkook’s heart is, written in the heaviness of his slouched back and the blatant hurt splashed across his telling face, and the older man had instantly apologized.)

“Hyung, no,” Jungkook will earnestly swear, eyes wide with emotion. “I just want your company—that’s all.”

Jimin will sighs in artificial annoyance.

“Okay, I believe you.”

Jungkook will then deviously smile.

“But if you feel so inclined, hyung, please, don’t stop on my behalf—feel free to cover this poor, working boy’s food costs and be my personal charity. Fund my needs!”

Their growing closeness is really no good for Jimin’s heart.

And my wallet, Jimin laments as Jungkook wheedles and nags to go to a lamb skewer stand until the older man finally relents. But mostly my heart.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

But no matter how close Jimin and Jungkook become off-camera, the younger man steadfastly refuses to reciprocate his hyung’s affections when they’re being filmed.

Even during group scenes, such as one where Lisa and Hoseok devolve into a partially planned argument over rapping style differences, Jungkook will park himself on the furthest armrest away from where Jimin is seated.

One time, Jimin trying to test his hypothesis out, waits for Jungkook to find a seat first.

Once the younger man is comfortable on the couch, water bottle in hand and chatting with Seulgi, he calls his model friend over to the kitchen where he pretends that he’s positively bemused by how the high-tech oven is.

As expected, Seulgi just scoffs disparagingly and shoos him out of the kitchen, at which point Jimin beelines over to settle into the empty space on the couch next to Jungkook.

“How are you, an grown ass man, unable to master the usage of an oven, Jimin? Seriously, men these days, you’d think that they’d be able to operate a simple fuckin’ appliance but no, they need women to save them every time,” Jimin hears Seulgi mumbling to herself.

To his enormous disappointment, Jimin can instantly feel the way Jungkook’s body becomes rigid with tension and how he tries to unconsciously force space between their bodies despite being incredibly close quarters with one another.

As they feign focus on the melodramatic scene between Jinri and Seokjin regaling (fake) stories about how moved they were with each other’s bodies of work, Jimin gulps as he places a shaking hand on Jungkook’s thigh.

If he hadn’t been explicitly directed to do so by the staff, Jimin doesn’t think he’d have the heart to subject Jungkook to what’s clearly an unwanted touch, but he fears the towering rage they’ll have to face if they don’t follow orders.

Jimin doesn’t miss the gasp from the corner of Jungkook’s mouth the instant his small fingers make contact with the hard, muscular surface of the younger man’s thigh and it makes his own stomach bubble with an undesired level of wanting.

The instant the scene is over, Jungkook leaps to his feet, leaving Jimin hot and bothered and utterly confused.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

It’s not simply the matter of Jungkook’s inconsistent behavior towards Jimin that really confuses him.

In fact, Jimin quickly grows to appreciate he doesn’t even understand himself.

It’s not that he has any real romantic interest in Jungkook—for multiple reasons.

Aside from the fact that Jimin refuses to jeopardize his career for a fleeting interesting in a young buck, there’s the unavoidable issue that Jungkook is, well, a young buck.

Jimin’s selection in women has ranged from experienced cougars to innocent does, but he will not entertain the idea of openly courting a man—he’s lucky enough to be bisexual so he won’t be subjected to drowning beneath the turbulent waters of the pressures of being a purely homosexual public figure.

After all, he can always subjugate his very real interest in men in order to lead a seemingly average, promiscuous life as an eligible bachelor wooing women.

This is what he tells himself.

But this also doesn’t change the fact that Jimin is unnaturally drawn to Jungkook, eyes catching on the singer’s defined shoulder blades beneath flimsy t-shirts or mouth salivating a bit at the sight of Jungkook’s abs after his showers.

And it hurts Jimin’s pride, but he’s also quite fond of Jungkook as a junior in the industry.

Despite the fact that they haven’t filmed any scenes for the creative aspect of the show yet, Jungkook’s always rambling on about new song ideas and his enthusiasm to bounce lyric ideas off to Namjoon and his interest in producing music like Yoongi and his sympathy for objectified women in the industry.

“Hyung,” Jungkook confesses to him one day, after Jimin takes him out for drinks. “I just want to make a difference in the world. On my deathbed, I just want to look back and remember little things I did that brought happiness and joy to people’s hearts. I just want to feel like I’ve touched people—however little or brief that touch may be, I want what I accomplish to be meaningful.”

How’s Jimin’s heart not supposed to throb with unbearable affection when he sees the sparkle in Jungkook’s eyes and the beauty of his smile?  

They’re not quite friends, too much of an age difference to perceive themselves as such, but they’re still dancing on the edge of something dangerous and unnamed that neither of them are ready to acknowledge.

And even then, Jimin has to remind himself that—maybe—he’s just being presumptuous.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

But is he really being presumptuous?

For all that Jimin is an extrovert, fully engaged in his social situations, he’s still incredibly attuned to the finer details of any social interaction and Jungkook’s erratic behaviors continue to build up in an obvious set of patterns.

When the cameras are turned off, Jungkook will slowly snake his arms around Jimin’s belly, forgoing all proprieties as he tugs the older man to his chest as he hooks his chin over his shoulder.

When the crew pivot and head for the exits, Jungkook will bravely place his hand on Jimin’s thigh and clench it as the conversation between them ebbs and flows in intensity.

When the spotlights dim, Jungkook will lean into Jimin’s touch and body like a honeybee is drawn to its hive and its queen.

But when the cameras are on, the singer is artificially remote in a way that Jimin simply cannot reconcile with his image of the person he knows as Jungkook behind the scenes. He's stuffy, uncharacteristically formal with Jimin, and the chill he emanates when his older co-star approaches him is discernible.

Sometimes, if Jungkook’s feeling brave after a couple drinks following filming, he’ll whisper into Jimin’s ear until the older man is shuddering under his soft lips and his warm breath billowing against his nape, or he’ll push Jimin against the nearest surfaces teasingly.

But he’s so careful to make sure that there are never any prying eyes nearby.

And though Jimin doesn’t like making arrogant suppositions about anyone’s character or sexuality, he’s bore witness to these types of behaviors before.

In fact, he’s been guilty of these behaviors.

Jimin’s mind wanders to Nakamoto Yuta, his most recently discreet conquest, before it starts meandering down his recollection of his other clandestine lays—all with men that he’d adamantly refused to be careless about in order so he doesn’t expose himself.

So, whether Jungkook wants Jimin to know or not, well, Jimin knows.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

“So, we’ve had some of our crew members observing the social buzz surrounding the show and they think they’ve come across the most lucrative show-mance!”

Siwon is looking inordinately excited for six in the morning, greedy little eyes scanning the room for someone whom to share his excitement with, but it’s to no avail.

None of the stars are remotely amused.

“So?” Yoongi grunts under his breath. “Who’re the new targets?”

Siwon points gleefully at Jungkook and Lisa.

Jimin tries to ignore the rapid beating of his heart as he spots Jungkook’s distantly dismayed expression contrasting vastly with Lisa’s poorly concealed look of pleasure at the opportunity to flirt with the handsome young singer.

C’mon, Lisa,” Taehyung complains loudly, trying to bring a dash of humour to the sluggish start to their morning. “At least pretend that you’re heartbroken for our failed romance! Let a man sulk a little before you move on.”

Lisa sniffs patronizingly.

“You just ain’t that memorable, I guess. Sorry, Taehyung-oppa, but I’m moving onto bigger and better things.”

Jungkook points at his broad chest and winks at Taehyung as he mouths, “‘Bigger and better’.”

Taehyung raises a fist in mock rage.

The producer nods approvingly at Lisa’s enthusiasm and this doesn’t seem to sit well with Taehyung’s bruised ego, and he switches gears.

“Oh, my,” Taehyung mumbles blithely, rolling his eyes with his arms crossed. “Are my turbulent love affairs with my fake television girlfriends not enough to draw in the big numbers?”

He sighs dramatically as he fixes his large eyes on Jennie and Lisa apologetically.

“Sorry, ladies, guess my real-life lady is still my number one lady after all.”

Seokjin is snickering indiscreetly as Siwon glares at Taehyung’s sarcastic commentary before he fixes his attention on Jungkook.

“Alright well, putting aside all this horsin’ around, Jungkook, how do you feel about this new development? Your fandom and Lisa’s fandoms are banking on an expository view into the secret relationship that they believe you two have and I’m sure it’ll be great exposure for the show.”

Jungkook looks uncomfortable, eyes flickering to where Jimin’s seated, a suspicious involuntary action as it is, but it’s the pained look of determination that spreads across his face that really solidifies Jimin’s wordless suspicions in stone.

(He’s seen that same expression in the mirror so many times.)

“Yes, producer-ssi,” Jungkook agrees mildly. “I’m sure it’ll be a great benefit to the show, and I think Lisa-ssi and I can agree that the happiness of our collective fandoms is of utmost importance. We won’t let you down.”

Jimin can’t help the brief spark of irritation he feels in his belly, but he quickly quells it, reminding himself that he’s equally as cowardly at Jungkook in the face of societal and professional pressure.

When the young singer looks over at Jimin, something pleading and lost in his doleful eyes, searching for a needle in a haystack, the older man just smiles encouragingly despite the pinching sensation in his chest.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Jimin offers helpfully, trying to ignore the crestfallen expression on Jungkook’s face. “Everyone likes a nice, easy romance on any television show, and it’ll be great publicity for your next album.”

Whatever Jungkook’s looking for, he won’t find in Jimin because the cost, unfortunately, is worth more than the investment itself.

Jimin knows better than to reveal more about himself than the industry’s willing to accept.

And beyond that, Jimin knows that it’s not just what the industry isn’t prepared to acknowledge about the kind of love and the types of romance that exists in the world, it’s about the broader society as a whole.

Whether it’s cruel or not, Jimin’s a survivor and he knows they all have to do what they must do to keep their careers alive and thriving, without sinking under the surface of their repressed desires and wants if they want to be successful.

Jungkook will learn this in time, he’s sure.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Later that night, when Jungkook knocks tentatively on Jimin’s door, he pretends that he’s asleep.

He waits for the soft sounds of Jungkook’s footsteps leading him away from his door, but quite a substantial amount of time passes without any indication of the younger man’s departure.

Finally, when Jimin’s ready to exasperatedly ask Jungkook what the fuck he’s doing, he hears an audible sigh of frustration before the younger man leaves.

Bizarre, Jimin broods to himself, his final thought he falls asleep.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The next day, a weekend where the stars are free to return to their own homes, Jungkook grabs Jimin by the arm.

At first, Jimin’s not in the mood—absolutely exhausted from the long hours of filming and playing up a caricature of himself—and he nearly yanks his arm out of Jungkook’s clutch, but once he spots the beseeching expression on the young man’s face, he just sighs heavily.

“Yes?” he prompts, less gently than he’d normally be. “Can I help you, Jungkook? I’m just tryin’ to make my way home, kid.”

To his great surprise, Jungkook suddenly comes to life—much like a moth fluttering aggressively around a lamppost.

“Don’t call me ‘kid’,” Jungkook snaps, his tone as bitter as citrus peel. “I’m a man.”

Jimin shrugs, avoiding Jungkook’s gaze, and agrees to mollify the younger man.

“Okay, then, Jungkookie, you’re a man. You’re right, I’m wrong,” Jimin says mildly, face expressionless, “Now, can I please leave? My point still stands, I just wanna get home.”

When Jungkook takes a moment too long to respond, Jimin turns his back.

Lugging all his belongings on a backpack and a small suitcase, he tries to swiftly dodge Jungkook’s broad body as he tries to head for the door, but the singer makes quick work on grabbing him again.

“Hyung,” Jungkook begs, voice wobbling a little. “Can we please hang out? P-please? I just, erm, I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

Jimin stays silent, straightening out to stare Jungkook in the eye, hoping that he can somehow translate the infinite web of stars and emotions in his smoky brown irises and inky black pupils, but he feels even more confused at the end.

Jungkook had been testing Jimin’s patience all throughout the week with his flighty behavior during takes and his grounded sweetness while they’d been off-camera. While Jimin appreciates discretion just as much as the next closeted man, he isn’t awfully keen about the breakneck speed with which Jungkook changes tack.

It’s enough to cause whiplash or nausea.

But despite his frustration, Jimin agrees, unable to turn down the younger man, as he says, “Alright then, Jungkook, but I’m goin’ out tonight and gettin’ drunk so if you’re not up for a rowdy night, I suggest you tuck yourself in bed at your own place.”

Jungkook doesn’t look comforted by Jimin’s impending plans, but he’s still fresh to the corruption and jaded mindset of real stars, and if he just helps him accept the reality of the industry then it is what it is.

So, Jimin tries not to feel too guilty when Jungkook nods stiffly.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

The atmosphere is intolerably awkward at first.

Jimin tries to nullify the tension by offering Jungkook sustenance and drinks, but it’s not until they both consume several bottles of expensive wine that they eventually relax.

Only once the comfortable, familiar tide of inebriation tugs them beneath the surface, do they really enjoy one another’s company.

They’d started the evening off at separate ends of the couch, but Jungkook had slowly encroached over onto Jimin’s side. Whether it was under the pretense of body warmth or affected obliviousness as he’d gotten drunker and drunker, Jungkook ends up right next to Jimin by the end.

Their lids are both heavy with intoxication, Jungkook’s face red and fleshed prettily while Jimin is even bubblier than usual, and he doesn’t even react when the singer sneaks his face into the crevice between the older man’s neck and shoulder.

But once he feels the way Jungkook’s mouth occasionally caresses the sensitive skin of his neck as he speaks, sometimes wetter than other times after he slides his tongue across his bottom lip, Jimin can’t help the violent shudder that knocks his spine all out of shape.

When Jungkook’s lips stroke against Jimin’s neck for the umpteenth time, his hand whips out reflexively to tightly grab onto the younger man’s thigh as he moans quietly.

Jungkook pulls away from his neck at the sound and he leans so far in that he’s nose-to-nose with Jimin.

“H-hyung?”

Jimin opens his eyes, he hadn’t even been aware of when he’d begun clenching them shut, and he nearly gasps at the proximity between their bodies and faces as he can smell the aromatic scent of the wine on Jungkook’s breath.

His eyes fall onto Jungkook’s lips and slide back up to his eyes, noting the significant pupil dilation and shortage of the singer’s breaths, before he forces himself away.

“Sorry, just a reaction,” he apologizes, pushing Jungkook away gently to pick up his glass of wine and drain the remaining contents in the glass. “My bad.”

Then, he feigns shock as he looks at the clock and springs to his feet.

“Oh, look at the time, Jungkookie! We’d better head out, huh?”

He rambles on and on about ensuring they both have their IDs on them, reminiscing his favourite moments at the bar that they’d about to go to, all the while ignoring the way Jungkook has a fist over his chest as his woe begotten eyes follow his hyung around the room.

The ride to the pub is dead silent.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Once they arrive, Jimin instantly beelines towards the bar.

Jungkook follows him obediently, making awed sounds as he absorbs the gaudy design of the private bar and occasionally looking starstruck when he spots one of his personal favourite idols in the corner.

As they wait for service, Jimin taps his foot impatiently.

After he places his order is waiting for their drinks to be put up, he feels two long arms wrap themselves around his neck as Jungkook pulls Jimin’s back to his chest and crowds him against the bar.

A nose against that fucking sensitive region of Jimin’s neck again and he feels like he’s back to square one, resisting against the alluring temptation of the beautiful young man that’d found himself enchanted by Jimin.

“Hyung,” Jungkook slurs into his ear, hands slipping lower to grip Jimin’s hips tightly. “Why do you ignore me like this?”

Jimin grunts softly, heat reaching a searing boil in the pit of his belly until it gradually trickles further south where his dick sits, twitching and filling with all the attraction he’s been trying to subdue for so long.

He won’t—and more importantly, he can’t.

“What do you mean?” Jimin laughs, the sound off-pitch and artificial as he places his own hands over Jungkook’s on his hips.

It takes a moment for Jimin to allow his hands to truly settles, eyes flickering around nervously as he worries his bottom lip, paranoia drizzling into his veins as he wonders if someone will misinterpret their embrace as something erotic.

It’s not, Jimin tries to convince himself right as a violent shudder runs down his spine.

Jungkook moans, reedy and thin in Jimin’s ear, breathing heavily.

“I mean, hyung, you’re so pretty and I’ve never seen anyone like you before. And you’re so nice and treat me so well and you’re so good to me,” he whispers roughly. “But why do you ignore me though? Won’t you tell me, hyung?”

Jimin winces, Jungkook’s compliments striking a nerve in him, as anxiety multiples into the dozens at the same time that his heart leaps into his throat and he tries to swallow around the bile that floating upwards.

“I’m talking to you right now, aren’t I?” Jimin chides lightly, panicking a little under the direct inquiry.

“I know that,” Jungkook complains, frustration leaking into his thick voice. “But why do you ignore me in…in…you know? That way?”

“What way?” Jimin asks, turning his body, now chest-to-face with Jungkook, as he raises his eyebrows at the younger man— daring him, goading him, taunting him. “What do you mean? I don’t understand.”

Jungkook growls in his throat, shaking his head until his tussled locks fall further out of place, and his fingers dig deep excavations in the skin of Jimin’s hips.

“Why don’t you understand, hyung?”

Jimin yanks himself forcibly out of Jungkook’s clutches, the young man watching hopelessly as he permits the loss to happen, as the older man drains the shot that he’d bought what now feels like ages ago.

“I understand just fine, Jungkookie,” Jimin informs him coldly. “But you shouldn’t be sticking your fingers into the wrong pies in your workplace fridge, huh? One day, you'll find yourself sticking your unwanted finger into the wrong person’s pie and once they find you out, they’ll find you out.”

The implication of Jimin's statement is heavy, both a stern warning and a implicit lecture, and it obviously hits Jungkook hard

Jungkook’s body caves in at Jimin’s reprimands, youthful face flinching violently, as the older man steps up and bops his nose condescendingly.

“Don’t play where you fuck and don’t fuck where you play, kid,” Jimin suggests, voice bereft of emotion. “You’ll end up dirty and you’ll end up with more secrets than you know what to do with. Take it from me, find your carnal pleasures elsewhere. Dirty secrets are never worth it.”

And as he saunters away, Jimin recognizes the hypocrisy in his advice.

But he’s saving them both the trouble.

🕺🏻 🕺🏻 🕺🏻

Eventually, Jimin finds himself in the darkest hub of the pub.

Happening upon the older director that he’d hooked up some time before filming had begun, the two had chatted briefly about their current projects over a few drinks as Jimin had tried to mute the sensible voice in his head asking where Jungkook might be.

Eventually, his guilt begins to overwhelm him until it tips him over the edge, and he thinks it’s high time to cut his losses with the director and find the young singer.

But before he could say his goodbyes to the woman, she ends up kissing him against the wall and Jimin’s too weak—too tired—to try and pry himself away and to the open floor where Jungkook is probably meandering around like a lost kitten.

As he counts down the minutes before it’s polite enough for him to part ways with her without hurting her feelings or ego, he hears loud footsteps.

They’re familiar in some ways, a comfortable rhythm that Jimin’s gotten accustomed to hearing over the past few months, but they’re also indiscernible in the uncharacteristic heaviness of each footfall.

Before Jimin can begin to unravel what’s about to happen, he hears Jungkook’s voice.

“Jiminie-hyung? Hyung? Are you there? Wh-where are you? I’m sorry, I swear, I wasn’t trying to b—”

Jungkook trails off just as he nearly bulldozes the pair over in his haste to find Jimin, eyes wide and hurt as he takes in the interlocked fingers and intertwined limbs of his hyung and the director in front of him.

“Oh,” he breathes, lower lip protruding into a profound pout that Jimin can’t help staring at.

There’s an awkward silence before the older woman untangles herself from Jimin’s hands, irons out the wrinkles in her shirt and skirt with her hands before she apologizes profusely to Jungkook and Jimin, and quickly leaves the scene of the crime.

“Hyung,” Jungkook implores desperately, slowly moving to close the distance between them. “Wh-what were you doing? Who was that? Was that your girlfriend?”

Jimin just sinks to the ground and sighs.

“It’s none of your fuckin’ business, Jungkook,” he mumbles tiredly, rubbing his hands all over his face. “What’s it to you, anyway? Doesn’t matter, I guess, because she’s definitely not my girlfriend.”

Jimin doesn’t know what comes over him, but he abruptly feels a familiar heft on his shoulders, one that he’s managed to delude himself into thinking was something of a historical obstacle rather than a present-day complication for so long.  

Out of nowhere, memories of ugly words and cruel accusations by a shrill adolescent boy come trampling out of depths of his mind. When that visual abates, the pictorial of a heavy gaze accompanied by greasy, slick encouragement slam into him. When he tries to shake that image out of his mind, then there’s the honeyed promises of a man who lied through his teeth and chewed Jimin out and spat him out. 

There's absolutely no reason that these memories should abruptly shatter the composed surface of the forefront of his mind, but they do and once the onslaught of their cumbersome presence is known, it becomes impossible for Jimin to drive them back into the attic of his consciousness. A persistent nightmare that Jimin has reigned triumphant over many times and yet never manages to subjugate the horrors long enough for them to dissipate entirely and it seems that for whatever reason, they've decided to make themselves known this evening. 

He feels tears budding but before he can break down, he hears Jungkook scuffling over and positioning himself into a deep squat in front of Jimin.

Through his peripheral vision, Jimin can see the hazy surprise on the younger man's face become quickly muted by intense apprehension, and he distantly appreciates Jungkook’s genuine concern. The younger man then pulls one of Jimin’s small hands into his own, thumb stroking the soft skin gently, and places another hand at the nape of the older man’s neck.

“Hey, hyung,” Jungkook whispers kindly, unexpectedly sensitive to Jimin’s abrupt collapse in mood. “You’re okay, I promise, I’m here for you.”

And this time when Jimin’s heart throbs, he feels a new sensation fueling the electrical pulse.

It feels softer and warmer, something he hasn’t experienced in his many years of life—something he hasn't felt he's deserved in a while. 

💛 💛 💛