“ I do love nothing in the world so well as you—is not that strange?”
— Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (Act IV, scene i)
It’s not everyday that Jungkook gets to come home early, but when he does, it often looks a little like this:
A set of strong, steady arms curled around him, holding him close, fingers gently caressing his. A pair of lips at the nape of his neck, pressing tender, bone-shivering kisses. A deep, delicate voice whispering sweet nothings in his ear, alternating between soft terms of endearment and banal facts about their day (which never sounds quite so banal to Jungkook).
Jungkook will lean into it all like nothing else matters, like nothing else is more important than lying in a bed much too large for him - which somehow seems less large now that there is another familiar shape filling up not just the physical space around him, but also the empty spaces inbetween his soul.
“Mmm, Mingyu-yah,” Jungkook will whisper back, when an idle finger travels from his shoulder, past the length of his bicep, settling in the small of his back. “That tickles.”
But Mingyu - the owner of said finger, the filler of all the empty spaces in Jungkook’s being - will only giggle, the sound reverberating in Jungkook’s ear and making every nerve ending in his body feel alive. “Is that so?” Mingyu will reply, and will proceed to stroke him even further, tickling him even further. Jungkook’s whines will turn into giggles too, his brain a pile of mush and nothing else.
Just him and Mingyu, cuddling in bed, holding onto each other like lifelines. Nothing else.
The summer has dragged on like a carousel which refuses to stop, bringing with it exhilarating highs and despondent lows, and Jungkook’s hardly had a chance to process it all. Touring is always a uniquely thrilling experience; and the frenzy of intercontinental travel, last-minute rehearsals, countless public appearances, are never not an endless burst of adrenaline and joy. Jungkook loves his job, loves doing it with the people who have been more than family to him since day one, but.
Touring also means...being away from home. Touring also means...month upon month, week upon week, of no Mingyu.
(It’s always hard. They always knew it was going to be hard.
It’s the first conversation they had after Jungkook finally mustered up the courage to pull Kim Mingyu - the very object of his gay awakening - into a dingy bathroom stall somewhere backstage of MAMA 2017, and kiss him senseless.
“You know this is a privilege, right?” Mingyu had said once they broke apart, his eyes wide with heat and longing; his big, beautiful hands still all over Jungkook. “If we...if you and me...if we were to do this. It can’t always happen whenever we want. There’s so much to consider -”
“I know,” Jungkook had whispered back before Mingyu could form the rest of the sentence. He knew , okay? And he’d stayed up every night agonising over it, had desperately tried to bury his feelings so he wouldn’t act on them, so he wouldn't have to explore the endlessly frightening possibilities involved in actually dating another idol, much less trying to figure out whether Mingyu liked him back .
But in that moment, still breathless from the taste of Mingyu’s lips, from the feel of Mingyu’s intoxicating fingers in his hair, Jungkook didn’t care. He didn’t care if this was a privilege, if this was transient and fleeting and impossible to work out in the long run. In that moment, all he wanted was to ravish the gorgeous boy in front of him, to reach up and kiss this boy everywhere like he always dreamed of doing, to drink his fill until he memorised every single inch of Kim Mingyu’s body.
“But this feels right, doesn’t it?”
A pause, and Mingyu's adam's apple had bobbed back and forth, his eyes still dark with hunger, his breath still laced with the whisper of their kiss.
Under the dim, flickering light of that dingy bathroom stall - while the dull sounds of award-show-bustle played in the background like a distant movie, like something they could forget they were a part of - Mingyu had let out a long sigh.
“Oh, Jungkook-ah,” Mingyu had sagged against him, finally, finally closing all the remaining distance between them. “You’re going to be the death of me, you know that?”
Jungkook had simply smiled, leaning forward to kiss him again.)
And so, it’s not everyday that Jungkook gets to come home early, but when he does, and when Mingyu does too,
It feels right.
As right as that dingy bathroom stall at MAMA.
It feels like their own little slice of heaven, unspooling and expanding within Jungkook’s too-large bed, not letting material concepts of time and distance and of how long they’ve been apart from each other because of their respective busy schedules penetrate its bliss. It’s being held in Mingyu’s arms and being kissed like he’s the luckiest boy on earth, to have Kim Mingyu of the charming smiles and kind eyes and cocky grin and that tongue with which he can bring Jeon Jungkook to his knees within seconds.
But today, it is Mingyu who surprises him.
It’s been a long series of days; the tour and then the musters in Busan and Seoul. But starting tomorrow, there is the break - a concept so alien to Jungkook he still can’t wrap his head around having officially mandated free time.
He’s still a little excited though. He knows Mingyu will be busy, with an upcoming comeback and promotions and Japan concerts all on the horizon, but Jungkook hopes they can squeeze in as much boyfriend time as possible in between all the chaos.
He texts Mingyu as soon as the last concert is done, and Mingyu, who is in the middle of wrapping up his Inkigayo schedule for the day, sends him a selfie in yet another one of his cute MC outfits, posing with an exaggerated kissy-face. Jungkook can’t wipe the smile off his face the entire ride home, his heart beating faster and faster at the prospect of seeing the only person he wants to see.
But he doesn’t have to wait too long.
“Missed you, baby,” a rich, deep voice greets him as soon as they enter the dorm, and he is soon enveloped by six feet two inches of Beautiful Boy. Kim Mingyu pulls him close and spins them around until Jungkook can’t stop wheezing in joy and relief.
(It was Namjoon who had suggested Jungkook give Mingyu a key to their dorm - purely for the sake of convenience and added privacy. Back in his dorm, Mingyu still shares a room with Jihoon. Since Jungkook has his own room, they have more quiet time here.)
(But it’s always felt so momentous: letting Mingyu have unhindered access to his space. It’s always felt like the foundation to something bigger, something more everlasting.)
Mingyu looks tired, but his smile is as blindingly happy and breathtaking as Jungkook remembers it. “Thought you were still at work,” he can’t help but ask, though he can guess the answer.
“Finished early for you, baby,” Mingyu replies with a chaste kiss to Jungkook’s lips, “Wanted to see you so bad, I had to be here. Do you like the surprise?”
Jungkook feels like his heart will explode into a million little pieces. They’ve been together for almost two years now, accustomed to the endless departures and reunions that have symbolised their entire relationship - always the sad goodbyes and the happy ‘welcome back baby’ s, ‘missed you so much baby’ s. But it never gets old. Mingyu’s rich, magnetic voice telling him how much he’s longed for Jungkook while they’ve been away, his gentle brown eyes brimming with the depth of his emotion- it never gets old. It never not makes Jungkook want to hold on to Mingyu so tight that they never ever have to be apart again.
“Always,” Jungkook replies, perhaps a little too earnestly considering they’re still in the hallway, still very much in the company of his six hyungs. But he can’t really help it. Having Mingyu in his arms after so long, hearing the mingled desperation and relief in Mingyu’s voice - It’s always too much. “Always love your surprises.”
“Ahem,” Jimin exaggeratedly clears his throat beside them. “Will you not greet us too, Mingyu-sshi? Is it only Jungkookie who you like and not the rest of us?”
That makes Mingyu blush a delightful shade of pink, as he always does in response to the hyungs’ teasing (it’s so cute that Kim Mingyu of the confident smiles and easy charm can get so flustered when teased about Jungkook), but before he can say anything Yoongi intervenes, “Yah, Jimin-ah! They haven’t seen each other in three months! Cut Mingyu-sshi some slack!”
And this is cue enough for Jimin to begin his usual cat-and-mouse bantering with Yoongi, while Namjoon looks on with a tired (but fond) sigh. Mingyu is still blushing but he does greet the others - Taehyung shaking his hand vigorously and Hoseok pulling him into a hug, because that’s just how Hoseok is - before Jungkook finally steals him away to his room and locks the door behind them, though not quickly enough to miss Seokjin’s shout of, “Use protection, kids!”
Alone, in their little slice of heaven, Jungkook can finally take in the full, uninhibited sight of Kim Mingyu. The bronze of his skin shining under the lamplight, free of makeup, never not anything short of utterly gorgeous. The curve of his slightly-chewn bottom lip. The fading of his dyed dark grey hair into its natural shade, the barest hint of dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep (Over the years, Jungkook has taught himself to not worry about things like this, considering how he himself isn’t a stranger to long hours and minimal sleep, but he can’t help but feel a stab of concern anyway every time he sees Mingyu visibly exhausted).
Mingyu is so so beautiful, not in the obvious way that everyone sees and adores, but in these little, unguarded moments. In his endless passion for whatever he does, in his unrelenting capacity to care for someone. In the sheer, unadulterated love that radiates off him.
“I missed you so fucking much, Gyu,” Jungkook breathes into Mingyu’s mouth before their lips crash against each other so hard, the very concept of gravity seems to lose meaning. Jungkook’s hands have already made their way underneath Mingyu’s carefully starched cotton shirt, slowly pulling it upwards, feeling the solid, smooth planes of stomach, caressing his belly button, climbing upwards to his chest.
“Fuck,” he moans again, “I’ve missed touching you, Gyu-yah. I’ve missed everything about you.”
Mingyu makes a sound at the back of his throat that’s equal parts wrecked and eager, and it is everything that Jungkook has been aching for, has been dreaming about every single night for the past three months. No amount of phone sex and sultry facetiming could ever match up to the real thing.
“Kook-ah,” Mingyu moans back, his voice hoarse with want, “Kook-ah, fuck…”
Jungkook loves it when Mingyu’s like this, rendered entirely incoherent simply from kissing and touching and whispering tender words of longing. He can feel the growing hardness in Mingyu’s trousers brushing against his own barely concealed hardness, and yet again, feels like his heart will explode. Mingyu makes him feel too much. Too much.
“Want you so bad, Kook-ah,” Mingyu says it so softly Jungkook almost misses it. “Take me apart tonight, Kook-ah. Want to feel you everywhere.”
Jungkook sucks in a breath, the blood in his veins pounding hard and fast, every last nerve ending on fire. There is a desperation in Mingyu’s voice that is rare, that only comes out of its shadows when they’ve been apart for a truly inordinate amount of time - or even, when they’ve been in the same city but too far apart because of schedules or the press or countless other barriers that are too insurmountable even if they are seemingly small. Jungkook has that desperation too, but it only translates into a deeper, more existential affection for the man in front of him. It only translates into him wanting to give Kim Mingyu the entire world.
He thinks he will never get used to this - Mingyu coming undone so easily in Jungkook’s arms, the imploring tone of his voice, the pure devastation in the way he kisses back. Even after two years, even after countless goodbyes and countless reunions, this will never get old.
Coming home to Mingyu will never get old.
The feeling in his chest will grow and grow, and his heart will expand to accomodate for it.
“I’m here,” he says, finally managing to get rid of Mingyu’s shirt entirely. He maneuvers Mingyu to the too-large bed and softly lays him down, discarding his own shirt in the process. Mingyu’s pupils are blown wide, his breath coming in pants, and he is gazing up at Jungkook with so much reverence Jungkook doesn’t know what to do with it.
Or maybe he does.
“I’m here, baby,” Jungkook says again, dropping a gentle kiss to the tip of Mingyu’s nose, and one more to the edge of his top lip. “I’ve got you. I love you.”
Later, after Jungkook has worshipped every inch of Mingyu, has made him crumble and shatter and has crumbled and shattered in response - after Mingyu turns them over so he is straddling Jungkook, and begins pressing heated kisses all across Jungkook’s chest, moving down and down and down until he licks a wet stripe along Jungkook’s hardness and devours him completely - they lie tangled in the aftermath of their climax, spent, but totally blissed out.
Jungkook snuggles closer into the crook of Mingyu’s neck, revelling in how easily he still fits in Mingyu’s arms, and breathes in his warm, earthy scent. Mingyu always smells like something pure and fresh, even though he's sweaty and surrounded with the particular haze only sex can bring, his soft hair spread everywhere. Jungkook can't resist reaching up to adoringly kiss Mingyu's nose - he can't get enough of Mingyu, even when they're so close they can feel each other's heartbeats. Mingyu, who is still stretched out like a languid cat, body loose and sated, smiles so sweetly that Jungkook feels like he could die this very minute and never regret it. In this minute, he is living out every single dream he's ever had.
"Please stay the night?" Jungkook knows it's a selfish request. Even though he's on break from tomorrow, Mingyu isn't. Mingyu has schedules - a comeback and tour to prepare for, magazine photoshoots to appear in, variety shows, and a countless other public appearances. He shouldn't be taking up all his boyfriend's time, just because they're both in the same city again after so many months. But when it comes to Mingyu, Jungkook just wants and wants and never stops wanting. "I'll drop you off to wherever you have to be in the morning. I'll even talk to Seungcheol hyung and ask him for permission."
Mingyu chuckles quietly, running a hand through Jungkook's (now nearly shoulder-length) hair. "Don't worry about it, sweetheart. I'm staying." he drops a gentle kiss to the top of Jungkook's head. "And besides, Coups hyung isn't the boss of me. I don't need permission from him to spend time with my boyfriend."
It’s sweet, but technically untrue - they always have to let Namjoon or Seungcheol know whenever they're together, not merely to figure out the logistics of how and when to meet, but just in case they run into Dispatch or any other unprecedented spot of trouble and damage control is needed. In a way, it’s comforting to know that two of the kindest people in the world have their back, but sometimes, it feels like even being alone with each other comes with a price.
Jungkook lifts himself up to face Mingyu, looking him directly in the eye, "What about work?"
Mingyu smiles again, "I wrapped up all my studio time with Jihoonie hyung yesterday, and I bribed Hoshi hyung with dinner so he would let me off dance practice, so," He wraps his arms around Jungkook again and pulls him close,"I'm completely free tomorrow, Kook-ah. All yours."
Jungkook sucks in a breath, kind of overwhelmed. It’s such a small gesture - Mingyu clearing his schedule to take out time for Jungkook (Jungkook would have done the same, if the situations were reversed) - but it always holds so much weight for him. It always boggles his mind whenever Mingyu, with big actions and small, reminds him how much he cares about Jungkook.
He presses further against Mingyu, kissing him properly this time, letting his tongue roam and plunder Mingyu’s mouth until their breaths become one, until Mingyu’s eyes glaze over with a familiar flash of desire. “I love you so much, Mingyu-yah,” it slips out like a litany, like a fundamental truth that he cannot contain within himself.
“I love you too, Jungkookie,” Mingyu’s voice is deep, rumbling, so heartbreakingly sincere that Jungkook again feels like dying would be fine, as long as it’s in this boy’s arms. “And you can’t get rid of me so easy, okay? Not until you’ve made up for three months’ worth of missed kisses.”
“Is that a promise?” Jungkook smiles against Mingyu’s lips, and Mingyu breathes out another chuckle.
“You bet it is,” he whispers in reply.
It takes a while for Mingyu to adjust to his surroundings when he wakes up, but it still feels peculiarly like home.
He could be cheesy and say that home is wherever Jungkook is, but the truth is, he’s spent so much time here - in the airy, comforting recesses of Jungkook’s room, in the cosy respite of Jungkook’s bed - that it is as much a tangible home to him as his own dorm.
He’s surprised to find the spot beside him empty and Jungkookless. Usually, when they wake up together, Jungkook will cage him in with more kisses, will demand that they not get out of bed until they absolutely have to. But today, it’s still early, and Jungkook has already gotten out of bed. The sheets are still unmade, the blanket they shared last night still rumpled and slightly messy, but without Jungkook the bed feels incomplete. Jungkook has often described his bed as being “too large” when he’s the only one in it, and Mingyu finally understands what that means.
He gets up with a yawn, taking a minute to locate his boxers (which Jungkook has neatly folded, alongwith both their clothes from last night, and kept on the edge of the bed) and to steal one of his boyfriend’s shirts from the closet nearby, before stepping out into the living room. The place seems quieter than Mingyu is used to, and he vaguely remembers Jungkook mentioning that Namjoon and Yoongi and Seokjin all have plans to travel during the break. Maybe they’ve left early.
The only signs of life are in the kitchen, and it is here that he finally spots Jungkook. Jungkook, puttering about in nothing but shorts, with his delightfully messy long hair (that Mingyu can’t get enough of) tied up in a tiny bun, with his cute bunny-like eyes still warm with residual sleep, with the toned skin of his bare chest glistening under the muted sunlight that’s filtering in from outside. Mingyu smiles fondly, pausing to just quietly admire the sight of him, so breathtaking and golden like a new dawn after the darkest of days. God, he’s missed this. He already said it so many times last night, but it bears repeating: he’s missed Jungkook unbearably.
Sometimes, he wants to scream his love for Jungkook from the rooftops, wants everyone to know that Jungkook is his and only his, that he got so incredibly lucky by falling in love with such a magnificent boy and having this magnificent boy fall for him in return. Sometimes, he wishes they could just be normal, roaming around the city hand in hand without having to find only secluded spots to kiss in, or fearing an impending dispatch camera. Sometimes, he wishes he could just openly talk about his boyfriend, to tell everyone who is willing to listen about how unprecedentedly happy Jungkook makes him.
But then, he tells himself, at least he gets to have this. At least he gets to see Jungkook in the mornings, soft and bare-faced and sleep-lustred, making Mingyu breakfast even though he doesn’t need to, even though he must still be tired from touring nonstop for the past couple of months.
“You know,” Jungkook’s voice snaps him out of his reverie. His lips are pulled up in a grin that’s equal parts sweet and cocky, even though he still seems to be occupied with chopping vegetables and adding them to the boiling pot on the stove. “You can just come here and say hi, I won’t bite.”
Mingyu blushes a deep shade of red. Of course Jungkook sensed his presence. Of course he noticed that Mingyu’s been staring. He always does.
Mingyu does what he’s told, going over to Jungkook to wrap him into a hug from behind, careful not to disturb the cooking process. “Sorry, I couldn’t stop staring at you,” he mumbles against Jungkook’s neck, “You’re just too pretty.” He presses a line of kisses against Jungkook’s shoulder, lingering a little to breathe in his heady morning scent. “I missed you when I woke up and you weren’t there.”
Jungkook chuckles, and Mingyu feels it reverberate across their joined bodies. He closes his eyes to lean into the feeling, to let the sound of Jungkook’s laughter envelope him completely. “I was gonna surprise you with breakfast in bed,” Jungkook says, “But I guess you’re better at surprises than I am.”
Mingyu smiles against the back of Jungkook’s neck, overcome with extreme fondness for this boy. “Consider me very very surprised,” he says, pausing before he presses one more kiss to the top of Jungkook’s shoulder, “Thank you so much for breakfast, baby. Need any help?”
Jungkook shakes his head vigorously, bumping cutely into Mingyu’s forehead in the process - and it is so endearing Mingyu can’t help but hug him even tighter. Jungkook is a decent cook, but he’s still learning; unlike Mingyu, who’s been regularly cooking since he was thirteen, who routinely makes truly unreasonable amounts of food for his members. Also unlike Mingyu, Jungkook is his group’s youngest, hence constantly coddled with affection by his hyungs and hardly ever put in charge of the cooking. It’s so sweet of him to want to cook for Mingyu. It’s so sweet of him to want to do it all on his own.
If this were any other day, Mingyu would insist on helping, but right now, he lets himself sag against Jungkook, his face still buried in the crook of Jungkook’s neck, his arms refusing to let go of Jungkook’s waist. He wants to stay here, wrapped around his beautiful boyfriend for as long as possible.
He does have to let go eventually, but only when the pot finishes boiling and Jungkook ladles the kimchi jjigae carefully into two matching bowls and sets it down on the little dining table attached to the kitchen counter. They sit side by side, bodies flush against each other, and simply eat in comfortable silence. Their hands periodically brush as they reach for the side dishes, and they look at each other and keep exchanging meaningful smiles. At one point, Jungkook gently brushes away a piece of kimchi stuck to Mingyu’s bottom lip, and leans down to kiss the spot.
All of it feels ridiculously, absurdly domestic, and Mingyu’s heart keeps beating faster and faster, his lovesick smile refusing to dim even one bit.
“That was so delicious, Kookie,” Mingyu says once they’ve both polished off their plates, “Thank you so much for cooking for me.”
Jungkook bashfully bites his lip. “You really liked it?”
His eyes are sparkling with a childlike innocence, wide and delighted like Mingyu’s praise is the only thing in the world that matters to him. Mingyu is so in love he can barely breathe.
“Jungkook-ah,” he whispers, leaning in for another kiss (he can never get enough of them), “How can I not like, nay, love, every single thing you do?”
Jungkook blushes a furious shade of red, his smile growing wider but shyer. Mingyu loves that even after two years of being together, he can still fluster Jungkook this much with a simple compliment. Jungkook may know how to make Mingyu fall apart in bed, but Mingyu loves making him melt like this, with pretty words and prettier glances and the rakish charm that he is known for.
“So,” Mingyu says in between kisses, “We have the whole day. Are we going to get back in bed so you can fuck me silly once again or…”
Jungkook’s blush deepens, but he laughs too. “As much as I would love to, I actually have something else planned. A date, if you will.”
“Oh?” Mingyu raises a curious eyebrow, tucking a stray strand of Jungkook’s hair that has escaped his bun behind his ear. “A date, you say?”
“Indeed.” Jungkook’s eyes are glittering with excitement, and it makes Mingyu’s heart skip a beat. As romantic as Mingyu considers himself to be, Jungkook always manages to surprise him with the sweetest of gestures. And he doesn’t doubt that today is going to be any different. “You just have to wait and see.”
“Hmm, I don’t know….” Mingyu teases in response, exaggeratedly fluttering his eyelashes, “Maybe I need to be kissed a few more times to be persuaded.”
Jungkook laughs another delightful laugh, eyes crinkling upwards and bunny teeth on adorable display. “At your service, Mingyu-shhi,” he says, in between giggles and Mingyu is almost embarrassed to admit the ridiculous blooming of warmth in the middle of his chest.
Even after all these years, Jungkook continues to make him come undone.
The gentle summer breeze makes Mingyu’s shirt stick to his back like glue, but he finds that he doesn’t quite mind. Jungkook is humming under his breath as he cycles along a deserted stretch of road beside the Han River, and Mingyu is back in his favourite position - settled snugly behind Jungkook, arms wrapped tight around his boyfriend’s waist. It might appear uncomfortable to any innocent bystander - two grown men perched on the same tiny bicycle, Mingyu being a six foot tall giant on top of that - but Mingyu thinks he doesn’t want to be anywhere else. Even if the sweat steadily trickles down the back of his neck, pools in the curves of his hip, even if he has to hunch his shoulders to fit around Jungkook’s slightly smaller frame, it’s all worth it.
“How come this place is so empty today, Kook-ah?” Mingyu whispers, taking the rare moment of privacy to be bold enough to nuzzle at Jungkook’s ear in public, to kiss a spot near his earlobe and feel Jungkook’s resulting shiver of pleasure. “What kind of sorcery have you performed?”
“Mm...not sorcery, just Namjoon hyung.” Jungkook replies, voice a little breathy in the aftermath of Mingyu’s ear-kisses, “He cycles around this area pretty often and knows which routes are usually empty. Plus I, um. Might have scoped out the area yesterday and also called the park authorities ahead of time to make sure it was gonna be deserted.”
This - the circumventing of things normal couples do not have to circumvent, the extra caution, the extra lengths to make sure they’re truly being left alone - shouldn’t be romantic at all. Should be quite the opposite, actually. But they live a warped existence, even if this is the existence they chose. A life in the limelight, the dangers of scandal and disrepute lurking at every corner, and them dating despite it all - they knew all the pitfalls from day one. And that’s exactly why this is romantic; that they continue to sustain this precious thing between them, that despite all the trials and tribulations that come with living like this, their love remains untouched, that it grows and grows until he cannot physically contain it within himself anymore, that they continue to work as hard as they can to protect it from the outside world.
The fact that Jungkook thought this date through, despite possibly having very little time to plan it, that he went the extra mile to make sure their privacy would be guaranteed, it means everything to Mingyu. And Mingyu has to kiss the edge of Jungkook’s ear all over again, dropping down to the back of Jungkook’s neck until he is nuzzling the very spot where Jungkook’s steadily growing hair meets his spine. A silent thank you, for everything.
“Stop distracting me, Gyu-yah.” Jungkook whines in adorable satoori when Mingyu’s kisses graduate to something more urgent, “You’ll make me lose my balance and then we’ll both fall off the bike!” But there’s no real bite to his protests. He does nothing to push Mingyu’s mouth away, and on the contrary, continues to lean into Mingyu’s touches, continues to make the desperate sounds that he makes when he is reduced to putty in Mingyu’s arms.
Mingyu simply smiles. Jungkook has always loved Mingyu’s clinginess, whether or not he admits it, and Mingyu always takes full advantage of that fact.
“Well in that case, it’ll be an honour to fall with you,” Mingyu whispers in reply, trying to make it sound sexy, but it just ends up sounding so corny (even by his own standards), that he can’t help but burst into laughter halfway through.
“Ewwww,” Jungkook says, but he’s laughing too, still leaning into Mingyu’s touches. “You really should have been in one of those terribly sappy dramas.”
Not many people knew this, but a few months ago Mingyu had indeed been approached to play the male lead in a romantic kdrama. Jungkook had pretended to find its premise as ‘terribly sappy’ as he is pretending to now, but Mingyu had seen him secretly sneak glances of his dog-eared script late at night when he thought Mingyu was asleep. Mingyu had ultimately rejected the offer - he really wasn’t cut out for acting, he found - but he could tell that Jungkook would have loved every single minute of seeing him be the lead protagonist of a cheesy kdrama, no matter how much he might deny it.
Jungkook is so terrible at hiding the fact that he’s a hopeless romantic, Mingyu thinks it’s possibly among the top 10 cutest things about him.
“Ah, but my sweet Jungkook-ah,” Mingyu teases, “then I would have to pretend to be in love with other people on camera and I would fail miserably, because I have only ever been in love with you.”
“Oh my god, stop,” Jungkook is laughing even harder now, but Mingyu can see his ears turn a delectable shade of red, can see the tiny goosepimples at the back of his neck. It’s so cute, Mingyu has to kiss his head again, making him shiver once more.
Even though it’s supposed to be an exaggerated joke, Mingyu means every word of it. He really is way too in love with Jungkook to pretend to be in love with someone else, even if it’s just for the cameras.
“You’re too much,” Jungkook continues, but his voice has gone soft around the edges, dripping in sweetness and that slightest hint of bashfulness that makes Jungkook so so beautiful. Mingyu feels giddy to his very toes.
“But you like it,” Mingyu buries his face in Jungkook’s hair, and hopes the earnestness in his voice isn’t too obvious. Sometimes, he really fails to appear chill about his feelings for Jungkook, even when he’s trying for mere flirtatious banter.
And perhaps, sometimes Jungkook is far from chill about his feelings too.
“Yeah,” Jungkook replies, and though Mingyu cannot see his face, he can feel the affection radiating across Jungkook’s entire being. “You’re hard not to like, you know that?”
Mingyu’s always been told that. He’s always been the nice guy, the charming guy, the guy everyone gravitates to when he enters a room. But it always hits him peculiarly differently when Jungkook is the one saying it. It makes him feel like he’s truly worth being cared for, like he can let go of all his defences and still be cared for.
Suddenly, the easy banter of this moment has turned into something else. A more fundamental realisation that has always existed, but is more potent now than ever. Mingyu cannot shake it off.
He holds on to Jungkook tighter than necessary during the rest of the ride, face buried in the curl of Jungkook’s hair and heart beating louder than the words which die on his tongue.
“Jungkook-ah?” Mingyu says, much later, when they’ve stopped near an empty patch of grass under a cherry blossom tree to munch on the sandwiches Jungkook packed for them.
The sun is still high in the sky, but there’s a breeze blowing, offering brief respite to the sticky, persistent heat. The Han river sparkles in the sunlight though, and a majestic-looking gaggle of storks stand with their feet dipped halfway in water, bobbing their heads up and down to rummage for fish. It’s truly a stunning day, and Mingyu feels incredibly lucky to be spending it outdoors with Jungkook - and that too, free from prying glares and from the fear of being found out. It feels like a precarious reality, like it could shatter any moment with the mere flash of a camera shutter or a stray tourist that decides to take this route instead of the more crowded ones. But for now, this utopia is his, and he wants to make the most of every second of it. He finishes the final bite of his sandwich and nudges closer to Jungkook, looking him directly in the eye and tangling their hands together.
“Yeah?” Jungkook replies, eyes curious as he sets his sandwich aside and takes Mingyu’s other hand, inching forward to turn his full attention towards his boyfriend. If he has noticed Mingyu’s sudden shift in demeanour in the past few minutes, he doesn’t say anything.
“Do you ever…” Mingyu nervously bites his lip, not sure how to put this without making it sound like too big a thing - like something that has been niggling at him for a long time now, like something he can’t help but bring up in this moment. “Do you ever think about what’ll happen to us? I know you said - back when we first kissed - you said that it didn’t matter, because this feels right and we should simply follow the feeling and I agree, it does feel right, but shouldn’t we...”
Jungkook’s grip on both of his hands suddenly tightens, and he sits up straighter, eyes wider than usual, “Mingyu, are you trying to break up with me?” The panic that takes over his voice is unmistakeable, even if he is trying to not to show it. Even if he is trying to be calm and collected about this.
“No! God no absolutely not!” Mingyu nearly shouts in his haste to reassure Jungkook. Mingyu knows Jungkook worries about that kind of thing, despite all his talk about taking things as they come and nothing else matters except us, despite all the times Mingyu has told him again and again that he loves Jungkook more than anything else in this world . The thing is, Mingyu worries too. He’s had enough nightmares about Jungkook simply waking up one day and realising Mingyu isn’t worth the effort, that all the infrastructural gymnastics they have to perform to even be able to spend time in each other’s unperturbed physical presence is too much of a price to pay for continuing this relationship.
No one understands better than Mingyu why Jungkook would immediately jump to the conclusion that he did (he would have possibly done the same, if he were in Jungkook’s shoes), and the very last thing Mingyu wants is for this self-doubt to fester within Jungkook.
Mingyu wants Jungkook to know that his fears are all unfounded. Mingyu couldn’t break up with Jungkook even if he tried.
“I was just trying to say...” Mingyu continues, shifting even closer to Jungkook until their folded legs are touching. “Ugh I’m sorry I’m so bad at finding the right words to say this - and maybe this is too early to have this conversation, or maybe it’s too late - but what I’m trying to say is, I want to have a future with you, Jungkook. A real, proper future.”
And there it is. His heart on a platter, laid out before Jungkook. All of the scary but unavoidable things that have suddenly welled up in his throat in response to a single innocuous compliment from Jungkook - because that’s exactly what Jungkook does to him.
For a moment, Mingyu almost stops breathing.
He’s thought about this a countless times before, especially more and more so in these last few months that they’ve been apart from each other. Perhaps, it’s been shuddering at the back of his mind from their very first kiss in that dingy bathroom stall, from the very first time he begun associating the word ‘love’ with Jeon Jungkook - a future, building painstakingly with every little crumb he gets to have, with every little moment with Jungkook, with every little hidden aspect of Jungkook that unfurls before him with titillating slowness. He has been so scared to admit it, too preoccupied with trying to appear chill about his feelings for Jungkook (but failing miserably, like always), but he has wanted this from the day he saw Jungkook for the first time - introduced by a mutual friend - from the day they exchanged numbers, from the day they began spending far too much time in each other’s company, from the day he realised he might want to hold Jungkook’s hand not merely as a friend but as something more.
After their first kiss, Jungkook had convinced him theirs would be a torrid affair, one that is the stuff of pulpy novels where stars and idols have clandestine trysts and go down in a blaze of hedonistic glory. But he knows they’ve never quite been that to each other. They both know that they were way too soft from the very beginning, falling way too fast and way too deep in love for it to be anything within the realm of temporary. Despite the impending perils of scandal and defamation shadowing them every step of the day, theirs has never quite seemed like a forbidden love. Rather, a safe love, a good love.
In a life where nothing is permanent, where too much is artifice, Jungkook has been the only constant, tangible thing that Mingyu wants to cling to forever. And Mingyu suspects he is the same for Jungkook.
And now, to finally have said it out loud because he simply cannot hold it inside him anymore - it feels so earth-shattering, feels like he’s teetering on the edge of a steep cliff; but at the same time, a giant weight has dissipated from his chest.
But that doesn’t stop him from being utterly terrified now that he’s made his intentions known. Jungkook’s eyes are still wide with shock, and he’s eerily quiet in a way he rarely is.
“Jungkookie,” Mingyu says again, feeling the sudden need to explain himself - anything to elicit a reaction, to break the growing silence that’s only multiplying the swarm of butterflies in Mingyu’s stomach. He takes a deep breath.
“When I wake up in the morning, I only want to see you.” Mingyu continues, “No matter what I’m doing all day - whether it’s something silly or something significant - none of it seems fun until I can tell you all about it. I want to see your smile all the time. I want to kiss you all the time, I want to talk to you about music and video games and photography and art and everything else under the sun all the time, and listen to your wonderful, insightful thoughts all the time. I just want you around all the time, Jungkook. I want you in my life all the time.”
He swallows hard, trying to push down the thick wave of tears that threaten to spill out. “When I close my eyes and try to think about a future, I can only see you and me together - we have a quaint little cottage in the countryside, and we live with our three big dogs who you absolutely dote on, and we make music and art everyday and spend our days loving each other. I want that fantasy to be real, Kook-ah. I want that with you, even if that’s possible only ten years into the future after we’re both done with our military service and are no longer in the prime of our youth and hence no longer bogged down by industry expectations and maybe, just maybe, we can forget about the consequences of being found out and our relationship isn’t so scandalous anymore and -I don’t know, I. I guess what I’m saying is, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Jeon Jungkook. Even if we have to jump through a million hoops and encounter a million hurdles to do so.”
There’s another pause, and Mingyu feels the tears welling up inside him with considerable force. He’s sure he’ll cry at the slightest push, at the smallest wrong gesture or wrong word. Mingyu has always prided himself at being good at handling emotions, but he has never felt quite so vulnerable. He has never made himself quite so vulnerable in front of someone he cares about so deeply that it threatens to consume him.
But Jungkook - Jeon Jungkook, who has always surprised him, who has always had a particular way of piercing straight through his heart - finally smiles, and now Mingyu thinks he will evaporate right this very second.
“Only three big dogs, huh?” Jungkook says, and his voice is teasing but laced with so much genuine fondness.
“ That’s what you took away from my entire speech!” Mingyu tries to sound offended but his voice cracks, still reeling from the weight of his emotions. Perhaps Jungkook senses that, because he leans in to pepper chaste, soothing butterfly kisses along the line of Mingyu’s nose, along his cheek, on the top of his shut eyelids.
“Kim Mingyu,” Jungkook whispers into his skin, “I want a future with you too. Every single thing you said? I want it too, baby.”
“Y-yeah?” Mingyu can’t hide the crack in his voice this time, can’t stop the tear that runs down his cheek. Jungkook kisses the tear away, wrapping an arm tightly around Mingyu.
“You totally upstaged me, you know that?” Jungkook says. “I had this entire date planned out so carefully. After lunch, I was going to take you to this special spot to watch the sunset and then I was going to sing you a song that I wrote specifically for you, and then I was going to ask you to move in with me. Guess you really are better at surprises than me, huh?”
“You- ?” Mingyu is stunned. Trust Jeon Jungkook, best boyfriend in the world, best person in the world to continue being the absolute best, to continue taking him by surprise again and again. “You really want me...to move in with you?”
Jungkook’s smile is more radiant than the blazing sunshine overhead. “I mean,” he says, a hint of a blush on the tops of his cheeks, “I know we cannot permanently move in together right away but I’ve been looking at some properties in the outskirts of Seoul where we’ll get enough privacy. I was hoping that, uh, we could split our time between living in the dorms and living there when we don’t have schedules and-”
Mingyu has no choice but to cut him off with a thorough, blistering kiss. He pours every bit of himself into it - his immense gratitude, his endless love, the steadily-expanding beacon of hope in his chest that he wants to continue to nurture, continue to cherish. There are so many logistics involved, and there will be even more as time stretches on. There will be leases to figure out, security measures to be taken, gossip-hungry reporters to circumvent, schedules to coordinate, and the bringing of more people over to their side than just their members or immediate managerial staff (Mingyu shudders at the possibility of telling a high-level Pledis executive that he wants to permanently move in with his boyfriend and live a life of homosexual domesticity, but he will cross that bridge when they get to it. He suspects Seungcheol will help.) - but it will be worth it. It will be worth everything.
His first day as a trainee, he remembers being told that idols aren’t allowed to fall in love. Especially to fall in love and continue to have a fulfilling life and career. He broke that rule the very first day he met Jungkook and call him selfish, but he wants to keep breaking it. He deserves it, after everything he’s been through. He deserves to be happy.
“You seriously want this?” Mingyu can’t help but asking nonetheless, once they break apart for air, “For us to be together for a long time?”
He hopes Jungkook can read between the lines, can understand the implications of what he is truly asking. He hopes Jungkook can allay all his doubts and fears once and for all.
Jungkook simply nods, leans in to kiss him again.
“But I’ll definitely want more than three dogs, though.” His smile is cheeky, but so gentle. “And maybe a cat.”
“Deal.” Mingyu says, and the tears he was trying to hold back betray him and roll down his cheek again, but Jungkook kisses them away once again, like he always does.
They lie there like that, wrapped around each other. Stealing kisses, watching the storks catch their fish, watching the sunlight move across the horizon. Eating more sandwiches. Drowning in their shared love.
You are my everything, Jungkook sings to him - the song he wrote only for Mingyu - and his voice is like a blanket wrapping him in endless light and affection. It’s a promise, a benediction.
It feels as right as that dingy bathroom stall at MAMA 2017.
It feels like coming home early.